Fee Fi Foe Film: 2018 Florida Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: 2018 Florida Defense Comment Count

Seth December 28th, 2018 at 5:04 PM

Previously: The Offense

Resources: My charting, UF game notes, UF roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

Todd Grantham is a lifetime coordinator with a Bo Ryan index notable for its sartorial diversity.

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His crazy blitzes get home often enough to have made Grantham one of the highest paid assistants in football. They've also broken down often enough that he's lost his shit wearing the colors of Virginia Tech, Michigan State (DL coach under Saban), the Colts, the Texans, the Browns, the Cowboys, the Dawgs, Louisville, Mississippi State, and now Florida, where he followed Dan Mullen. His longest stint since 1997 was four years at Georgia, over which he cemented his reputation as a legendary douchebag you never want to play against. People of the internet know him best for giving Chas Henry the "choke" sign.

His latest defense was hard to scout. The one guy who really stands out doesn't start, but they have a number of starters who are better than decent. If there's a weak point it's the WLB, who racks up a ton of tackles because opponents run at him half the time or more.

The film: Georgia ran at Joseph half the time or more.

Personnel: My diagram: 

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PDF Version, full-size version (or click on the image)

Florida had a recruiting dip under McElwain that was masked by some blue chips with rap sheets and the occasional SEC recruitment. Grantham, a DL guy at heart, immediately addressed the interior line, adding WVU grad transfer DT Adam Shuler and #1 JuCo prospect NT Kyree Campbell, pushing last year's platoon of NT Khairi Clark, NT Elijah Conliffe, and DT Luke Ancrum to backup rotations, and [/nods in the direction of 3-star mafia who were mad Michigan dropped him to pursue Philip Paea] immobile blob Tedarrell Slaton to the perma-bench. The new guys are fine but push-able, and didn't generate much pass rush against Georgia's large line.

The ends are the problem, starting with the guy they were trying to duplicate when they were fighting us for Josh Uche: All-SEC DE/OLB Jachai Polite had 16(!) TFLs and 11(!) sacks despite only playing on passing downs. He is a liability to shoot upfield on runs but doesn't need to be out there for most of them because BUCK CeCe Jefferson, whom you'll recall from our last two meetings with Florida, is still around causing havoc off the weakside, switching to strongside on passing downs. SDE Jabari Zuniga is the Kwity Paye in this rotation, playing solid against runs and flashing a ridiculous bend when unblocked—he was half of a six-play goal line stand in this game.

[after THE JUMP: more things you'll recognize]

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Preview: 2018 Peach Bowl

Preview: 2018 Peach Bowl Comment Count

Brian December 28th, 2018 at 2:32 PM

Essentials

WHAT Michigan vs Florida  
WHERE HoegLaw Superdome
Atlanta, GA
WHEN Noon Eastern
THE LINE Michigan –6
TELEVISION ESPN
TICKETS exist
WEATHER uh it's indoors

Overview

Uh… right. This. Michigan plays Florida, again, in a repudiation of the importance of a "New Year's Six" bowl. Two years ago, Danny Kanell was firing out crazy conspiracy theories about Jabrill Peppers faking an injury so he could skip the FSU game. This time around four different Michigan players are taking a pass, one of them the almost certainly undraftable Juwann Bushell-Beatty. Nobody is batting an eye.

For the record, those guys are Bushell-Beatty, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, and Karan Higdon. Florida is set to have its full contingent of players. Oddly, this has done nothing to the line, which opened Michigan –6 and remains Michigan –6 as this post goes up.

Otherwise, hey, it's conference foe Florida. They've got a good head coach now, but they're still recovering from the vast expanse of Keystone Kops pratfalls that was the Jim McElwain era.

[Hit THE JUMP for a team Michigan plays more often than most of the West]

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Fee Fi Foe Film: Florida Offense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Florida Offense Comment Count

Seth December 7th, 2018 at 2:01 PM

Resources: My charting, UF game notes, UF roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

This foe is getting a little too familiar. We never did a film post for last season's opener, but these guys are pretty much those guys plus two transfer receivers, a new center, and a massive upgrade in coaching. Last year's 4-7 debacle was enough to cut bait on McElwain, and after losing out on the Scott Frost sweepstakes Florida found former Meyer assistant/onetime Michigan candidate Dan Mullen all too happy to be rescued from post-Dak Starkville.

Despite four-stars galore and getting back some stars lost to injury/credit card fraud, this offense is still climbing out of last year's (108th to S&P, 111th in scoring) crater. The running game suffers from a lack of QB legs and line strength in the middle. The passing game suffers from the QB's wonky arm. Mullen makes up what he can with offensive tricks, and for big games he always has something prepared that the defense hasn't seen before. Against LSU it was a triple-option that read two backside edge players. Against Georgia it was a pistol screen and RPO package that debuted with a flea-flicker that got Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson open on the first play of the game.

The film: I didn't want to choose a midseason game for a new coach but Florida plays in the weaker half of a top-heavy conference that pads its win totals with a mere eight conference games and FCS opponents (Florida played two of them this year: S-E-C!) they schedule well into November. UF's normal end-of-the-year litmus rival, FSU, is terrible right now. That left South Carolina (61st in defensive S&P), Vanderbilt (80th), or blowout losses at the hands of Missouri and Georgia. I watched Georgia again to track any recent developments, but for scoring purposes I went back to October 6th versus then 5th-ranked LSU. Like Michigan, the Tigers run a mostly Cover 1 defense with a secondary full of NFL prospects, a defensive line that's excellent on the edges but shaky in the DT depth chart, and are led by an all-American linebacker named Devin, though the Butkus winner was truthfully more Gil than Bush in this game.

Personnel: My diagram:

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PDF Version, larger version (or click the image)

The only new faces since Michigan's 2017 opener are C Nick Buchanan, and sophomore transfer WRs Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes, who are both more big body types. The rest of the receivers are speedsters: Tyrie Cleveland, the starter whom Grimes supplanted mid-season, and Slots Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain, and Kadarius Toney.

The rest of the OL has been around forever, notably LT Martez Ivey, who was the #2 overall prospect to the 247 composite in 2015, has been starting since 2015, was all-SEC in 2016, and still occasionally looks like a true freshman. Ivey had two false starts in this game, though that sort of thing is often on the center not knowing the cadence. RT Jawaan Taylor and RG Frederick Johnson are a JBB/Onwenu mauler crew. On the other hand Taylor needed constant tight end/backfield help in pass protection, and Johnson got pulled for a long stretch after a pair of instant pressures he allowed. LG Tyler Jordan might be the best of the bunch—they're a right-handed running team because of the maul brothers but also because Jordan's their best pulling guard. RG Brett Heggie, who started 7 games last year, came in for Johnson and was fine, but seemed confused on the protections.

The caveat here is pass pro:

# Player Pos Run Prot- FS
73 Martez Ivey LT +0.5/-4 4 2
64 Tyler Jordan LG +4.5/-1 2 -
66 Nick Buchanan C +3/-12 3 -
74 Fred Johnson RG +2/-2 2 -
65 Jawaan Taylor RT +2/-3 - -
61 Brett Heggie RG +5/-2 2 -

I did some UFR-style tracking of protections and came up with 41/56 (73%). That is bad. Buchanan is particularly bad in all facets of centerhood—including and especially not snapping it over your quarterback's head.

[the rest of the breakdown, after THE JUMP]

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Michigan Gets Florida In The Peach Bowl

Michigan Gets Florida In The Peach Bowl Comment Count

Brian December 2nd, 2018 at 4:33 PM

As it was written in the stars: Michigan and Florida will play in a semi-major bowl game after both fail to achieve their regular season goals. A baffling decision given how bored both fanbases must be of this matchup.

This edition of the Gators is in their first year under Dan Mullen and is in the awkward jerky phase when a very good coach takes over for a not so good one. Thus results like a 27-19 win over LSU and a 41-14 whooping of FSU coexist with a 38-17 loss to Mizzou and 27-16 loss to Kentucky. 

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Rise Of The Unverified, Voracious Machines

Rise Of The Unverified, Voracious Machines Comment Count

Brian October 31st, 2017 at 12:22 PM

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there's an onion article about this [Patrick Barron]

Funny how that works. Brandon Peters, rumored to be aloof and disconnected, is now a Cool, Even-Keeled Leader:

"Brandon's kind of always been the same, sort of even-keeled," senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst said after Saturday's game.

"It's just Brandon. I don't think he gets too high or too low, and I think that's a good thing to have when you're a quarterback."

He is also studious and paying attention.

"He's been preparing since camp," Gary said. "I walk by the quarterback room, I peep in just to mess with him. He's in his books and he's paying attention.

"Just how he prepared, I knew when he got his chance he was going to do what he did (Saturday)."

After he throws an interception he will return to being aloof and disconnected, and then he will throw a touchdown with a steely nervelessness, and then he will take a sack because of the crushing ennui he endures in his day to day life, and then he'll have a third down conversion that shows mankind is doomed because robotkind is superior. Looking forward to it. Except for the part with the interception.

Congratulations to men's soccer. They're the Big Ten champs after a barn-burning final day that saw Michigan pass three other teams, including their opponent Maryland, with this double OT(!) Francis Atuahene goal:

They had four wins last year. Quite a turnaround for Chaka Daley. Michigan is 12th in the NCAA's version of RPI for soccer and might be in line for a first-round bye in the 48-team College Cup, depending on how the Big Ten Tournament goes. They will host Northwestern or Rutgers in a first-round game Sunday at 1 PM.

Michigan Soccer Now has more details; if you care about UM soccer at all you should be following them. Also here is the Daily's Kevin Santo:

Billy Stevens still hadn’t let go of the trophy.

Not when he got on the bus to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Not when he landed in Detroit. Not for the bus ride back to Ann Arbor, either. He said he couldn’t let it out of his sight.

And really, can you blame him?

A steady, sustainable uptick. BISB's been unable to Opponent Watch because sometimes his job strangles him by the throat but he did put together this little, encouraging graph of Michigan's line yards this year:

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At this point it's more about maintaining that number than continuing to improve it. Last year's #1 team in line yards was somehow UNLV with 3.8. Michigan is approaching an effective maximum. Michigan's surge has taken their rushing game up to 21st in S&P+, so Michigan now has three good to very good aspects (rush offense, rush and pass defense) and one terrible one (pass offense). The PSU game knocked Michigan's defense out of the top ten; they're now 15th.

Is there a Haters Gonna Hate ladder? This guy is in strong contention for greatest hater in the world:

"I tolerate everything except racists and Tom Brady" is strong work.

Exit Jim McElwain. I have never had a better take than "Jim McElwain's response to the shark thing proves he's going to fail." That is right up at the top of the Takes Nobody Talks About Because They Are Correct Board for one Brian Cook. McElwain failed and is now fired. Spencer:

Categorically, the best McElwain seemed capable of was mediocrity. That mediocrity came at a time when his competition locally was as weak as it could be, and when the University was more willing than ever to spend on facilities, brand-building, and all the other accessories needed to keep a program competitive and happy. Unlike his predecessor Will Muschamp, he got free rein in hiring the staff he wanted to hire. Unlike his predecessor, he had actual head coaching experience coming into the job. Unlike Muschamp, McElwain won the SEC East, and did it two years in a row despite losing a starting quarterback to injury in both seasons.

May the football gods be kind to Spencer and bestow him with Jeff Brohm.

The Purdue situation. You've probably already seen this but in case you haven't, Angelique Chengelis talked with Wilton Speight's father about what happened after Speight's frightening injury against Purdue:

“What an absolute train wreck,” Bobby Speight said of the experience. ...

“We take off with no escort,” Bobby Speight said. “We can’t get through because there are barricades up and (the van driver is) directing people to move them.”

They reached the Purdue University Student Health Center and headed downstairs.

“They take us in the basement,” Bobby Speight said. “It’s very dimly lit. Halfway down the hall, there’s a (radiology) technician. Wilton is in (partial) uniform and still wearing cleats, and she asks Wilton his name. The (van driver) says he needs an X-ray. (The technician) looks at me and says, ‘I need your insurance card.’”

Harbaugh's been to Purdue before. He couldn't have been surprised by what he found, probably because it was exactly what he saw back in the 1980s. He was clearly cheesed by the ham-handed response to the Speight injury, and used that as a platform to talk about the beyond-gamesmanship visiting locker rooms in West Lafayette.

Hockey continues recruiting. Three recent commitments of note. One is 1997 Jimmy Lambert, who will arrive in Michigan at 21. Usually this means a guy heading for the checking line but one of the scouting services thinks otherwise:

Lambert was supposed to head to Alaska Fairbanks this fall but changed direction after a coaching change. He had a PPG in the offense-mad BCHL as an overager last year and usually that means bottom six—Dakota Raabe is the same age and had a PPG last year—but I guess maybe not? I don't know.

On the other end of the spectrum, 2002 Cole Perfetti is a 15-year-old currently projected in the 2020 class who just committed. One OHL scouting service has him the #6 guy available for this year's edition of the OHL draft because he's a "shifty skater with extraordinary playmaking vision." (Commit Antonio Stranges, an "electric skater with game breaking one-on-one play" is #4, FWIW.) Also:

The "if" there is real, as any Michigan hockey fan knows.

Finally, Michigan picked up Jeff Cox's #1 uncommitted guy from one of the various youth tourneys he attends:

1. Joshua Groll
#52 Anaheim Jr. Ducks, 8/9/01, Shoots Left, 5-9/155

Groll was the best forward here. He has good speed, but he plays a smart and complete game. He has a sneaky release and is able to get a lot of shots off by being around and possessing the puck a lot. His puck support is strong and he makes plays.

Michigan now has a whopping 25 commits across four recruiting classes, 16 of them in the four months since Mel was hire. Eleven of them are tentatively slated to enter next year. Michigan loses six seniors, and probably only four guys pulling significant scholarship money (Niko Porikos and Alex Roos probably aren't getting much.) Attrition is always looming, and I'm sure Michigan has an understanding with a couple of kids who might get pushed out a year. That's still a lot of guys to cram in.

Trying to optimize a hockey roster without screwing someone over seems like the most difficult logistical challenge in the world today. Good luck.

Etc.: Clownshoes NCAA, take a number. Symbolic hats and the playoff. Higdon stuff. Questions about basketball.

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Unverified Voracity Has Great Big Not Pointy Teeth

Unverified Voracity Has Great Big Not Pointy Teeth Comment Count

Brian September 19th, 2017 at 12:12 PM

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Sponsor note. Hoeg Law is the MGoBlog of law firms that will do business stuff for you: a guy with a big job at the business factory who decided to start his own small firm to focus on smaller companies: entrepreneurs, gaming outfits, blogs(!), and the like. If you need to organize, finance, or create a contract for a small company Hoeg Law is right there in Northville waiting for your call.

My God, the teeth. Spencer Hall is right. Michigan cannot lose to this jaunty-ass helmet:

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There is intimidation, and then there is "you lost to a cartoon gopher":

At least Alabama gives you the courtesy of just losing to a color and a number. This? This is horror, a beating served with an adorable smile on its face. This is potentially taking a beating from a cartoon rodent that only wants to serve you hot dish, and then crack the casserole over your head. Don’t lose to Minnesota when they’re wearing these helmets, is what we’re saying. The psychological damage alone could take years of therapy to undo.

Minnesota's ground and pound offense only makes this worse. Rodney Smith bounces off tackles. A lot of tackles. If he breaks your tackle and grabs a first down on carry #30 and pops up to yell "spew" you might disassociate from your body from sheer embarrassment.

Connelly brings numbers to the offense. It's not great:

Michigan has snapped the ball 88 times on first down. The Wolverines are averaging a not-completely-awful 5.3 yards per play, but of their 464 total yards gained, 211 have come on five plays. They have gained one yard or fewer 43 times. Success rate: 33 percent — 27 percent rushing and a much healthier 46 percent passing.

It gets even worse when the Wolverines generate scoring chances. Yards per play on first downs in the red zone: 1.1. They’ve gained zero or fewer yards in eight of 12 instances.

There's a lot of pointing and going THAT about Michigan's offense, which is fine in a post like Connelly's that is a stat post drawing some high-level contours.

To date I've seen little or nothing that goes any deeper about Michigan's redzone issues, if those even exist. "Redzone efficiency" clearly does not exist separate from general efficiency at the NFL level:

We went back and looked at the past five years to compare how teams did in the red zone during the first seven weeks of the season with how they played overall. Let's call this "red zone advantage." ...

The correlation of total offensive DVOA in the first seven weeks to total offensive DVOA in the final 10 weeks is .64. That makes plenty of sense: Teams that play well on offense early in the season are likely to play well on offense late in the season. The same correlation for defense is .48, a little lower but still fairly significant.

However, the correlation for "red zone advantage" is practically nil: .01, to be exact, on both offense and defense. During the past five seasons, at least, "red zone advantage" has done nothing to project how well a team will play in the red zone during the second half of the year.

College might be different if running QBs are a real advantage, and I'd buy that.

But unless you've got a magic potion that gives Wilton Speight dreads and a 4.4 40, talking about Michigan's "redzone issues" is a waste of time. The redzone offense being bad is just the stuff that makes the offense bad in general. There's nothing about Harbaugh's approach that makes Michigan inherently bad at scoring touchdowns—Michigan was 17th in S&P+'s "finishing drives" metric a year ago if you want a number—so this is just bad QB play and bad blocking, which are problems anywhere. There's no magic bullet other than getting better at footballing.

Sharks, like would-be credit card scammers at Florida, are not smooth. Florida's many suspended players might be done for if this comes to fruition:

The nine University of Florida Football players who are facing allegations of having misused school funds, could be arrested as early as the end of this week, sources have told The Read Optional.

Antonio Callaway, Jordan Smith, and one other player are likely to be arrested on charges of felony grand theft, with the possibility of further misdemeanor charges being tagged on, according to a lawyer representing one of the players. It’s anticipated that the other six players will also be arrested, but only three players have hired legal counsel thus far.

At the very least they would be suspended until those charges are resolved, a process that might last for the duration of the season. Compounding matters:

The nine University of Florida football players who have been suspended indefinitely by the school for misuse of school funds, are also under investigation for credit card fraud, by two separate police departments in the Gainesville area, relating to an additional credit card fraud allegation.

Jordan Smith, a freshman defensive end, was suspended from all team activates after a report from The Read Optional that Smith had used stolen credit card information to pay rent at an apartment complex — around $1,000 dollars. ...

The link between the misuse of funds investigation and apartment fraud investigation is now clear: Several of the players had the same stolen credit card information; the same victim.

It appears Florida's about as good at criminal offense as regular offense. McElwain's recruiting has given off a distinct whiff of desperation at times, with Florida picking up a lot of the highly-touted guys other schools back off of because of red flags. You may remember Guy Who Got Busted For Pot On An Official Visit To OSU; James Robinson signed with Florida. He was suspended against Michigan for... I mean, you can probably guess.

Pot is the most minor of all offenses, but if you're getting busted for it on a college campus while hanging out with a crew of folks who collectively can only be football players that's something else. Twice is another level of something else. I mean... Michigan's had some guys who were super into pot. But never citation-level. I imagine that among the very very bad credit card scammers are a couple guys Florida knew they probably shouldn't take but did anyway.

Florida's collected a large number of Malik McDowells because their head coach can't really recruit and felt the pressure. This bodes unwell for Michigan's strength of schedule. Also McElwain.

How much of a problem is a football coach being a dick? A serious question. The Indianapolis Star gets the story of former IU WR Coray Keel, who left Indiana after one year mostly because Kevin Wilson was a dick:

“It became kind of like a pride thing, once I started lining up, to be key players for the opposing team every week, when I would hear coaches come up to me and tell me I’m not (crap), I’m not this and that. It was Kevin Wilson and position coaches, but mostly Kevin Wilson,” Keel said. “Every day, it was a constant reminder of how much I wasn’t doing good, and how I was doing more harm as a scout-team player, not giving the team the right looks. I was the reason we were losing, the reason why we were not doing good.”

“As my time at IU extended, it got worse,” Keel said. “To the point where it made just being there uncomfortable. It made the overall experience of it, it was to the point where I didn’t want to wake up and go to practice.”

Keel says he wasn't forced out and that Wilson tried to convince him to stay when he decided to transfer. Keel transferred to a JUCO and gave up football after one more year. The Star cites several other players with similar issues.

All football coaches are dicks. At what point does it cross the line? Mark Mangino: over the line, I think everyone can agree. Mike Rosenberg thought Rich Rodriguez was over the line, partly because of Greg Frey, and now everyone's fine with Greg Frey because Harbaugh. Wilson's hiring at Ohio State was immediately after he got fired, and nobody seems to care.

Etc.: Simone Biles was at the Michigan game, in case you saw a five-foot-tall person who looked vaguely familiar. Sure, I'll link to an NFL sucks article. Baumgardner on stuff. Toys R Us goes bankrupt, although it looks like Brandon was just the fall guy, not the cause. Improvement! Holdin' the Rope. Georgetown's basketball schedule is really something. Baseball recruiting really well.

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Unverified Voracity Humps The Shark

Unverified Voracity Humps The Shark Comment Count

Brian June 5th, 2017 at 12:44 PM


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Jim McElwain, right. Used vacuum salesman, left.

Oh, man, this one's a doozy. I stopped calling people "horseface" around the time that Dennis Dodd toned it down sufficiently to blend in with the great mass of lukewarm take columnists. There has been a long hiatus from "look at this crazy thing Dennis Dodd wrote," then. That détente can last no longer after this:

"I think its an indictment upon society to be honest with you," he said during the SEC spring meetings here at the Hilton Sandestin.

Of course it is. The man who has won consecutive SEC East titles -- a family man with a couple of national championship rings -- suddenly found himself disproving a negative.

" … It effects family, it effects my employer because of something that is totally not true or has any basis," McElwain continued. "I will say this: At least it [looked like] me and not someone else in our program. I'll take [the hits]."

When Naked Shark Guy hit CFB twitter his vague resemblance to Jim McElwain was a covfefe: a short-lived, timeline-intensive twitter joke that burns itself out in a day or so. Nobody ever seriously thought that Naked Shark Guy was McElwain—his hair is too curly and his teeth insufficiently alarming. And yet here's this Dennis Dodd column that takes McElwain's strained protestations with the seriousness of a threat on the Queen's life:

McElwain, 55, is a stand-up guy like most coaches in his position. He's used to putting out fires, making snap decisions, taking blame when it is fair. But in the blink of moment, he became a social media victim.

The photo, of course, was not of McElwain. One report said had he had been "vindicated." Of what? Vindication is defined as, "clearing someone of blame or suspicion."

Except there was no blame to clear, no crime committed. The only connection was our brains seeing a resemblance and somehow believing McElwain was capable of such a pose. 

Unfortunately, the default setting on the Twitterverse was that had to be Florida's coach. Right?

No, you complete ninny, no. Dodd manages to get so upset about people making jokes about someone who nobody thinks is humping a shark that he self-refutes:

What's the big deal jumping to conclusions about a shark, a boat and a coach?

Common human decency, for one thing. When it was determined the man on the shark was reportedly a former NYPD officer, one wag wrote, "We finally have proof of what appears to be McElwain's innocence."

What about assuming his innocence instead of what looked like a badly Photoshopped pic? Instead, that indicted society McElwain spoke of took it way too far.

The whole thing is a magnificent edifice of farts based on a deliberate misunderstanding of jokes on twitter. Spurred by McElwain, certainly. His reaction to the situation improves my opinion of Michigan's chances this fall—this is not the reaction of the sharpest knife in the drawer…

"Ultimately, what do you want me to say?" McElwain said. "It's not me. I felt bad for my family and the university because … really?

"Here I am getting some real bad personal attacks. How ridiculous is that?"

…but there is some water too silly to carry. Or at least there should be.

Follow Harbaugh around and he gives you news. Jim Harbaugh can be odd and standoffish at press conferences—or even entirely absent, as he was after the spring game—but if you travel a long distance to be where he is, he spits out newsbits like mad. Satellite camp season is an opportunity to do this, and sure enough we've got some extra insight into next year's team.

We've mentioned walk-on slot receiver Nate Schoenle as a potential contributor; Harbaugh offers up some additional information on him:

"Nate Schoenle -- he continues to grade out as the top guy right now," Harbaugh said. "The competition is really going to rage on."

Harbaugh further confirmed that Ben Mason was a fullback and Brad Hawkins was maybe probably definitely going to play defense. On Hawkins:

"Brad Hawkins could be a safety." …

"What's transpired though: Don Brown got to him," Harbaugh mused. "Don Brown said that he talked to Brad and Brad wanted to play safety. I accuse Don Brown of some recruiting going on there. We haven't investigated the whole thing yet. But I think it's a little of both."

The WR flood and relative dearth of safeties always made that move likely, especially after Michigan realized it wasn't going to cram its class full with other guys and circled back on Oliver Martin. It's official enough that we've moved him to safety on the Depth Chart By Class.

FWIW, Hawkins did play both ways in high school, making 53 tackles as a senior at Camden.

Finally, Harbaugh announced that Grant Perry had rejoined the team:

"He's back working out with the team," Harbaugh told reporters following a coaches' satellite camp at John Carroll University, according to the Detroit Free Press.

He has a court date July 17th. I'd imagine that will be some sort of plea or diversion.

Two conferences with a scheduling agreement. The current state of the 14-team, 8-game SEC:

To be fair to Alabama, Nick Saban appears to be the only coach in the league who actually wants to go to nine games. (Because playing Tennessee is basically the same as playing Chattanooga to Bama.) That is still mindblowing. The problem is extensive and has no solutions. Auburn's trying to find one by moving to the East, where Alabama would not be a perpetual roadblock to the championship game, and that causes more problems than it solves.

The Big Ten going to 14 was immensely dumb but at least they didn't compound that error by continuing to have eight-game conference seasons with protected crossover games.

Real Housecoaches Of Destin. Meanwhile in the SEC, everyone is livid with the new, very boring recruiting rules, and they've got laughably flimsy reasons why!

Bielema said it wasn’t smart to host official visits during the spring of a prospect’s junior year, which is arguably the most important one academically.

They've got an astounding lack of perspective!

"I think it's reckless, really," Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said.

They haven't yet muzzled their commissioner!

"I just fail to see how those things are the right decisions for football overall," Sankey said. "Those are the things that I'm not sure we got right."

They have even more flimsy reasons!

"December is a pretty busy time in the world of college football from a hiring standpoint," Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said. "And you're now going to introduce that in the middle of young people making decisions? Plus you're pushing up the evaluation process, which I can't see how that's good for the young person or for the team."

Would Bret Bielema allow a recruit to visit Arkansas unofficially during the new official window? Dozens do annually. Do SEC coaches offer and accept commitments from kids two or three years out from this December signing window? Dozens annually. Does Greg Sankey interpret "football overall" as "the SEC"? Absolutely.

It's nice to see Waffle House Nation splutter about rule changes they don't like instead of rules Jim Harbaugh isn't breaking for a change.

Last one out of East Lansing please conclude the investigation. MSU has lost another couple members of the secondary:

Sophomore safety Kenney Lyke told ESPN on Saturday that he planned to transfer to Mississippi Delta Community College in hopes of eventually landing at an SEC school in the future. A day earlier, Michigan State confirmed that redshirt sophomore Kaleel Gaines was also leaving the program.

Rumor has it that several more folks are on their way out. There are the three players under sexual assault investigation and a couple more potential academic casualties. There's a real possibility MSU goes into this year with 75 scholarship players, the last eight or so freshman who MSU picked off from the likes of Temple in their late scramble to fill their class. Prospects for a bounce-back are dim.

Zaire incoming. The SEC did tweak their transfer rule so that former ND QB Malik Zaire could land at UF; he duly announced that was his destination shortly after. This is of interest to Georgia blog Get The Picture for obvious reasons, so Mr. Blutarsky took a look at Zaire's relatively brief on-field history:

He was spectacular in that Texas game, no doubt, finishing with a passer rating over 250.  It was all downhill from there, though, as he only threw one more pass in all of 2016 than he did against the Longhorns, on his way to posting a 106.73 passer rating as the back up.

He does bring something to the position that Florida’s lacked under McElwain:  mobility. …

if Zaire is supposed to usher in a new era, there isn’t a lot of time to restructure the offense to tailor it to his strengths, or, alternatively, for Zaire to learn Nussmeier’s system.  None of which is to say it’s not useful to sign an experienced quarterback.  Before Zaire’s arrival, Florida was looking at a choice of Luke Del Rio, himself a transfer, recovering from an injury that caused him to miss half the regular season, and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, who had a nice spring game, and… did I mention he had a nice spring game?

This would terrify me if it was ten years ago, when Michigan was still deep in their total inability to defend a mobile quarterback. It's still unsettling: first game with ten new starters, one returning starter is not a great space player. Don Brown has shifted Michigan to a 4-2-5 featuring a bullet LB in Devin Bush, though. Hopefully those issues will be mitigated even when Michigan's defense isn't the overwhelming unit they were a year ago.

I'll take it. Chris Dilks profiles Joshua Norris, NHL draft hopeful, and comes out with an encouraging comp:

As a player comparison, Norris reminds me a lot of JT Compher. Both are super-competitive two-way centers. Compher was ranked right around the same range for the NHL Draft(he ended up going 35th overall in 2012) after putting up similar numbers with the NTDP. Compher blew up offensively in his junior season at Michigan, thanks in part to some great linemates, but still projects as more of a solid role player at the NHL level. The same is likely true for Norris. He projects as a nice player at the NHL level, especially if he can remain at the center position, but one that probably tops out as a second or third line player, rather than a true star.

Adding a Compher-alike to any team would improve it, and Michigan more than most after last year's disaster. FWIW, Norris just competed at the NHL draft combine and killed it:

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I don't think the combine is a big deal for draft position but that should at least indicate that Norris is ready to make an immediate impact.

Etc.: NCAA rules kill Sound Mind, Sound Body. Signs you may be in the middle of a Florida football season.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Offense vs Florida

Upon Further Review 2016: Offense vs Florida Comment Count

Brian July 27th, 2016 at 3:19 PM

HomeSure Logo NMLS-1It lives! When Homesure Lending sponsored these posts, Matt admonished me that his sponsorship was contingent on me actually doing all of them. So, yeah, next time you see him buy him a beer and get a mortgage. Matt just pinged me in case a refi made sense, demonstrating that 1) he's always on the lookout if he can save you money and 2) rates must be even more absurdly low than they were a couple years ago.

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. (No pants required.)

 

Formation notes: I'm not sure if we've seen this before at M:

ace trip TE

There are three tight ends to the right side of the formation. "Ace trip TE."

This mess was "tight FB big" and went about how you'd expect:

tight fb big

And this is an example of how Florida spent a big chunk of the first half. Check out the defensive line. That is a huge split between the nose tackle and the defensive end to the bottom of your screen. Michigan had a hard time dealing with it for a couple snaps and then blasted it until UF abandoned it.

under gap

Substitution notes: As expected. Rudock, the starting OL, and the FB/RB corps all went the distance. Smith, Houma, and Johnson were your only RBs—no Higdon, no Isaac. I don't think Newsome got any 6th OL time. WR/TE was all Darboh/Chesson/Perry/Butt/Williams until the game was salted away. Michigan put in Ways and Harris in place of the outside WRs, continued playing Perry, and gave Ian Bunting some run.

[After The JUMP: rather big JUMPS forward for a half-dozen guys.]

Comments

Searchbits VII: In Earnest

Searchbits VII: In Earnest Comment Count

Brian December 3rd, 2014 at 3:20 PM

JH4[1]

All Harbaugh photos are hilarious

HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH. More NFL people saying no one ever leaves the NFL. Since these guys are all talking to NFL people that's not a surprise; it is a fact that he is telling his Michigan guys that he's seriously thinking about it. A bunch of people telling each other things they want to hear; won't have any clarity on it until there's a signature and a press conference. Steve Lorenz had an interesting quote in a considerably larger piece that sums it up($):

One source we've talked to extensively regarding Harbaugh had the following to say: "Jim can be a flake. That will be the major concern for Michigan. Anything at this juncture saying he's not interested is a smokescreen. His father, and both he and his brother, have a ton of respect for Brady Hoke and would not want to make it appear publicly like Jim is taking his job from him. From their end, they will want this process to appear as quiet as possible."

Whether Harbaugh flaked on Brandon or wisely avoided a guy he knew he couldn't work with is in the eye of the beholder obviously the former. That was posted smack dab in the middle of Hoke's firing, so the quote was addressing a situation that no longer holds. We may see some definitively yes or no action in the near future.

And I know people are inclined to discount Jeff Moss because he's never found a bomb he didn't want to throw, but he did have the Brandon firing presser before anyone, AFAIK, and his Michigan connect tells him that M will go after Harbaugh with many dollars and boxes of khakis:

The DetroitSportsRag has learned that the University of Michigan has offered their former quarterback and current San Francisco 49ers head coach a financial package that would make him the highest paid football coach in the world.

I doubt that, frankly. But there's been enough other chatter about how Michigan understands that this is a situation where spending marginally more money on the new guy will pay off in spades for me to believe that they're not going to come at Harbaugh with an offer that isn't at least top 5 college money.

ON MULLEN. Clint Brewster told the Michigan 24/7 site that he talked to three different college coaches over the weekend and all of them brought Mullen up as the guy who makes the most sense.

If Hackett's serious about demolishing the Michigan Man thing he's got to kick the tires there—ask about the QB grayshirt, MSU's tendency to recruit 30+ guys every year*, find out if he's going to be able transition to a very different style of recruiting. I'd think he'd be able to adjust better than Rodriguez. His previous stops at ND, BGSU, Utah, and Florida give him significantly more diverse experience than RR had. Florida's not Michigan (they take JUCOs) in terms of restrictions but they're certainly a lot closer to M than Mississippi State is, and then Utah and ND are close enough to M that there's not much difference.

*[A lot of those are sign-and-place JUCO deals because of the Bulldogs' status as the low man on the SEC totem pole, so the oversigning concerns are significantly fewer than those numbers imply.]

gundyx-large[1]

WHY GUNDY MIGHT BE AVAILABLE. This would still be a longshot, RR-ish secret mission type thing, but it is vaguely possible. Why? The last few days have seen the rumblings about discontent in the Oklahoma State program hit the papers:

If there were a device that could measure stress, Gundy would have buried the needle. I’ve covered more than 220 Gundy news conferences. There were times when he wasn’t very excited to be there, and there was one time – during the 2007 “I’m a man! I’m 40!” news conference – when he was really excited. Monday was different. I’ve never seen him like he was on Monday. …

I believe that 98 percent of the Gundy stress centers on his issues with Boone Pickens. I’m sure some of the stress is related to the current performance of his football team. Since OSU beat Baylor last year – in a performance that was as complete as there’s ever been by any Gundy team – the Cowboys are 5-8. In its last seven meetings with ranked opponents, OSU is winless.

That comes in the aftermath of a press conference in which Gundy spent a lot of time looking at his phone. Also:

Boone Pickens doesn’t run OSU football. Boone’s influence on the program has been greatly overstated. We know that because if it was up to Boone, Mike Gundy wouldn’t be the Cowboy football coach. …

Boone obviously doesn’t care for Gundy, Gundy expresses no concern that Boone doesn’t care for him, and everyone who cares about Cowboy football wonders how long this can go on.

This is followed with some conflicting information about how on the one hand you "couldn't run Gundy off with a shotgun" and on the other Pickens's disdain for Gundy arose when he poked around the Tennessee job.

That's why you call… just in case. Small chance anything happens other than "nope," but if Oklahoma State loses Bedlam it might be time for a jump. Stranger things have happened. Like…

UNDERWHELMING AND WEIRD. Jeremy Foley flew Florida's plane to Fort Collins in full view of the Flight Aware-monitoring public and was rewarded with a crowd consisting of every member of the sports media within 500 miles. He went to Jim McElwain's house; media members knocked on the door and were surprised they didn't get an answer, and then they had serious conversations without even drawing the blinds.

The good news: Jeremy Foley has never done anything remotely criminal in his life. You can tell because he's not in jail. The bad news: he's hiring a decidedly B-list target who's only had three years of head coaching experience and rode an anomalous talent, Dee Hart, to a 10-2 Mountain West season. The MW is not quite the MAC but this feels more like hiring Darrell Hazell than it should for Florida. Darell Hazell with a $7.5 million dollar buyout they "might" be able to bargain down if CSU is feeling generous for some reason. (Florida @ CSU? Might be happening.)

At least it's not Josh McDaniels?

Let us now reflect on what a miracle it is that Dave Brandon got fired what with Jeremy Foley's job not under a whisper of pressure. It takes a truly exceptional man to get axed from an AD job.

SO THEN WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT MICHIGAN? Unless Foley is truly bonkers he called the Pattersons and Shaws and such of the world and was turned down. I would assume that anyone who isn't clearly available is not available; Mullen is an exception because of personal animosity.

OOOH. Matt Hinton's rundown of the open Florida, Nebraska, and Michigan jobs doesn't have any news in it that Michigan diehards aren't aware of, but his suggestion for the open Nebraska job is on point:

Perfect Fit: Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. …Narduzzi has spent 25 years as an assistant, the last 11 of them as Mark Dantonio’s defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and Michigan State. But Narduzzi has been up for multiple head-coaching gigs in that span, turning some down while building one of the most reliably suffocating defenses in the nation. Think of him as the upper Midwest’s answer to Charlie Strong, who spent years bouncing around the SEC as an assistant before finally landing his big break at Louisville at age 48, the same age Narduzzi is now. Unlike Louisville, Nebraska isn’t a stepping-stone to a glitzier gig (Texas, in Strong’s case), but neither does it have proven winners leaping to leave their current posts.

Keep the offensive staff, which has created a nouveau-option system that fits Nebraska and its available talent, and you might be in business in Lincoln.

UM. OOOOKAY. BUT NO. If you're wondering why anyone is chattering about New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, he once went to a Michigan basketball game in a Michigan hat and bought a hot dog. Seriously. This makes him more of a possibility to Rivals($) than Dan Mullen, as he's on their hot board and Mullen is not.

Is it because Mullen is supposedly not a good dude? Well, they've got Bret Bielema—who defended a kid who tried to tear Steve Breaston's ACL and was widely regarded as sketchtastic in Madison even when he was the coach—on it, so no. The grayshirt thing is a problem, but we are talking about hiring Jim Harbaugh, who bombed Michigan in a presser. The grayshirt is something you can get over in a way that a flat-out scholarship yank would be tougher to. And Mullen has Midwest roots. To not even consider him would be insane.

Rivals keeps throwing out an Anonymous High Profile College Coach who is interested in the job; if the thing they heard is the thing I heard that would be Bob Stoops. Stoops is also prominently absent from their This Guy or This Guy and What About This Guy paragraphs.

ALSO NO. EDSBS threw out Steve Addazio's name on a whim, because he associates Michigan with boring offenses and bald guys. Our great and good friend Football Scoop chimed in that he was hearing that too, probably for the same reason he was doubling down on Michigan "struggling" after watching Hackett's presser.

Addazio is 55 and has two years at Temple and two seven-win years at BC to his name; tha andt he was a terrible OC at Florida. I mean, here's Athlon making the case:

Addazio wouldn’t be a splashy, name hire like Jim Harbaugh or Les Miles, but he’s a good coach that would win a lot of games at Michigan. In two years at Boston College, Addazio is 14-11 and has recorded a .500 record in conference play in both seasons. Prior to taking over in Chestnut Hill, Addazio spent two years at Temple and went 13-11 during that span.

Sign me up?

Addazio is Brady Hoke's resume without the Michigan connections. I can no longer say never, but that has a 1% chance of happening, if that. Addazio would be tragic Michigan Manball thinking in everything but actual presence in Ann Arbor. He is a low-upside pick in an environment where MSU and OSU are at peaks.

Etc.: Hiring criteria. Not too sure about the "has to be a head coach already" thing when Fisher, Stoops, Mullen, Gundy, Patterson, and even David Shaw are amongst the most successful guys in college football right now.

Comments

Searchbits VI: Panic! Panic Even More!

Searchbits VI: Panic! Panic Even More! Comment Count

Brian December 2nd, 2014 at 12:18 PM

RATS. You're no fun, N582CJ.

image

504235789CP00040_SAN_FRANCI

HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH. First, this is completely false:

Multiple sources I spoke with told me Jim Harbaugh has already told Michigan that he is not a candidate.

I know from people who have talked directly to Harbaugh that he has interest in the job and is telling Michigan that. The concern previously was that Michigan was not reaching out in any sort of semi-official manner. 247 reported earlier this week that bridge-mending was going on between Carr and Harbaugh.

This may be a he-said-she-said battle of the sources, but look at it from Harbaugh's perspective (or possibly his agent's). Harbaugh is under contract; the 49ers may try to trade him; any trade necessarily hampers his ability to win at the new place; the possibility of leaving for Michigan brings the price down and improves his leverage. Even if Harbaugh had 0.0% interest in returning to college he would not be telling people that.

And unless he's flat out lying to multiple former teammates that's not the case. If so, this is the appropriate GIF.

With that in mind, I'm not inclined to take the rest of Scott Roussel's alarming post seriously. His previous report about Hackett informing the regents he had not found anyone who could do the AD job at Michigan was 90% crap. It is a funhouse mirror version of the truth in which Michigan has decided that they should use Hackett for a transitional period specifically because football has a hiring season and they don't want to throw a guy in right now and expect him to get the thing right. Hackett's timeframe here is not likely to last past the summer.

But, FWIW:

The feedback I heard isn’t going to excite many at Michigan; in fact, one source was very blunt, saying “Michigan is struggling to find their next head coach.”

Michigan athletic director Jim Hackett and senior assistant athletic director Mike DeBord have spoken with a number of potential candidates is the what I’m told; and the reception thus far hasn’t been positive. We are told that the Michigan administration was hoping to have largely have their man identified by now and that does not appear to be the case as calls were ongoing yesterday.

This is how coaching searches go, and this year was particularly likely to end up with a lot of thanks-but-no-thanks calls as Michigan checks on Stoops, Patterson, Gundy, and maybe Shaw or Richt just in case. Florida got a head start and has already passed through this phase. Check out the names for Gainesville later in this post; they are not exactly A-listers for a job that's at least on par with Michigan.

After this period Michigan will get down to identifying a real set of candidates that are not ensconced at stable programs. Roussel does say that Michigan check on Butch Jones and he "won't be a candidate," and I believe that. It is a specific piece of information that I have not had directly refuted to me multiple times.

King_Creole_LesMiles[1]

ON LES MILES. That story also has a bit on Les Miles. It is correct that there's a great divide in the program alumni about Miles, but it also asserts that Michigan would avoid him because of the chance they get turned down humiliatingly. That would not happen. If Miles is offered the job he would come.

Personally, I'm not enthralled with a 61-year-old who's been the subject of an OTL episode about cutting players, coming off a meh year and possibly the downside. But he'd come. Assertions to the contrary are from the camp that doesn't like Miles because of the way he and Carr have butted heads over the years.

THINK OF THE THE SCION IN CHARGE. Last week's deflating loss against Seattle caused the 49ers' owner to tweet something about how it was "unacceptable," leading to a veritable e-kerfuffle. Jed York was seen talking to the GM! A teenage girl said something nasty about Greg Roman! Dark days. Speculation about an immediate firing was faintly ridiculous then and more so a few days later.

In the aftermath Adam Schefter reported that Harbaugh's fate would be determined after the season and that the Raiders and Jets were the favorites to land him.In general, NFL sources are swearing up and down that nobody leaves the NFL on purpose. Historically, they're correct. But I roll my eyes when they start making those assertions about Harbaugh staying on the West Coast because his wife likes In And Out.

There is a large complicating factory with talk about the Raiders that national guys completely overlook. Tim Kawakami:

I doubt York wants to see Harbaugh coaching the Raiders, wherever they end up playing in 2015–and remember, there is a possibility the Raiders play in Santa Clara for a few years.

Harbaugh coaching the Raiders in Santa Clara? That is NOT what Jed York wants, though who knows, he might Tweet something to clarify all this.

Underestimating the petulance of the extremely rich is never wise. Where would York prefer Harbaugh to be: Oakland or Michigan?

PLAN B? With Harbaugh uncertain, Michigan is going to need to do groundwork to have a set of alternate candidates in place to prevent a repeat of the 2007 search, in which ideas after Les Miles ranged from "uhhhhhhh" to "wellllllll". Oh, and the 2011 search, in which ideas after Jim Harbaugh ranged from "welllllll" to "welllllll". Who might those guys be?

I think you can strike everyone who may or may not be available. Early returns from not only the Michigan search but the Florida search indicate that the Petersen will-he-or-won't-he types are firmly in the NOPE camp. So who might Michigan look at after you excise the Gundy/Patterson types? I have no idea. I hope Jim Hackett does.

I don't think Les Miles is going to be the guy. There is a ton of opposition to him that would be difficult to overcome. After that you're outside the realm of guys who got yelled at by Bo.

Obviously, Dan Mullen is a guy you have to kick the tires on. The recent issue with a QB getting his offer pulled looks bad; you have to get Mullen's side of that, as he's prevented by NCAA rule from offering it publicly. Lloyd Carr had a few incidents in which he got blasted by recruits that I don't think were entirely, or even mostly, on him. In this case Mullen asked the guy to grayshirt out of the blue, which is not kosher but isn't as bad as a total kiss-off.

After Mullen it's down to flier types and coordinators. And extremely angry unemployed guys. You know me: I prefer the coordinator/innovator route to a guy with veins permanently etched on his forehead.

WHAT'S GOING ON AT FLORIDA? A reported 4 million dollar offer to Ole Miss's Hugh Freeze resulted in a raise and extension for—surprise!—another Jimmy Sexton client. Florida sources are chalking that up to Ole Miss getting Sexton'd; the SBNation reporter who broke the news is standing by the report since these days a coaching 'offer' is only definitively given to the guy that gets the job. And I see his point.

But whatever, Freeze seems off the table. The current names are:

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is a consideration, according to one source, confirming a report by Football Scoop, although there is concern regarding McDaniels' availability to join Florida immediately upon his hire. The Ohio native and longtime Bill Belichick assistant has not coached in college since a stint as a graduate assistant at Nick Saban's Michigan State, and his only head coaching experience came in 2009 and 2010 with the Denver Broncos.

Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde reports Colorado State's Jim McElwain is a "leading candidate," and the Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley says TCU's Gary Patterson shouldn't be ruled out.

This is good news from our perspective since none of those names seem like they would become prominent here in the event M strikes out on Harbaugh. I'd be shocked if Patterson was available for anyone; McElwain's reported $7.5 million buyout is offputting when there are guys with better track records who would require less outlay.

And then there's Josh McDaniels. That is particularly bats. He's barely coached in college and has made his name coaching Tom Brady from 2004 on, after the point at which Tom Brady's QB coach was himself. His brief foray as the Broncos head coach ended before two years were up; he had one year as the Rams' OC, and now he's back under Belicheck's wing. He is 1000% flier.

Etc.: Mike Gundy and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle of coaching. Mike Hart, now at WMU, has a highly successful first-year back.

Comments