Dear Diary took a bye last week and it couldn't have come at a better time. My football place was pretty sore for the 168 hours after the one with poor Paul Bunyan being mandled by the least deserving yups to ever play for a program I am preconditioned to think the worst about.
In conclusion every bit of luck that goes our way ever again is wholly deserved, not that we'll be able to enjoy it because self-awareness is cruel.
Self-awareness isn't always cruel. Math—I mean good math—doesn't do things like overrate the last thing to happen. And out of the randomness comes good news from our resident advanced stats collator Ecky Pting:
Ecky also did this last week for win probabilities. Right now we are looking at 9 or 10 wins most likely, which is to say Ohio State's a coinflip and 85% we get there without collecting any dust. And if you like statistics dust, here's a quaint little piece from the 1980s. It's called "Good at Football Again"
Are you finding teams focusing on Jake [Butt] a little bit more as part of their gameplan, trying to take him away?
“There seems to be a little bit of that every now and then. Just, sometimes that’s how it shakes out, how the cookie crumbles, that the guy that’s the intended target of a route isn’t open and we trust Jake Rudock to get the ball to the guy who is open.”
What was your reaction when you found out about Jerry Kill’s resignation this morning?
“Sad. I figured it was something that had to be pretty serious. You never want to hear anything like that, and you know that he has the background of certain health issues so you hope and pray that he gets healthy and his family deals with everything alright, because that’s a serious thing.”
As a young coach, how do you have to learn to manage balancing the stresses of coaching with your health?
“I don’t know, I probably don’t do a good job. I had a donut today, so that’s good. I don’t know. I mean, I think a lot of it has to do with your work environment. The guys we work with are serious about football but they’re lighthearted guys, so it’s fun, it’s loose and serious at the same time if that makes any sense. I’m not a doctor, but I would imagine that’s helpful over the long term of not developing like hypertension or something. I don’t know. I probably should stop eating donuts, too.”
How have your dad and uncle managed to handle it? How have you seen them do it?
“Um, I don’t know. Not in any way that’s special or unique, I don’t think. They both find ways and time to spend with their family and exercise and stuff. They have fun doing what they’re doing. I don’t know. It’s a good question. Certainly it’s something to be aware of.”
[After THE JUMP: Did he use the two-costume strategy as a kid? Also, things about tight ends. And Jabrill.]
What's that? | A starting tailback? | For me? | You guys!
Hey coach, they say it's your birthday. Brady Hoke yesterday turned a chipper 53. Born in 1958 in Dayton, Ohio, to a father who played along side Bo, from an early age Brady reportedly called for his bottle by raising a fist from his crib and crying "hail!" Other than that one running back he's always wanted, Brady gets the undying love and devotion of the Michigan fanbase, until such time as he loses to Ohio State, which cannot happen because Ohio State no longer exists. We'll come back to the board but first, diaries:
The Mathlete's Mid-Week Metrics are all official now but this greatest diarist of all time can still put up a Diary of the Week on the side to weight the chances of various Big Ten Championship hopefuls. Michigan's less than a 10 to 1; we're rooting for MSU to lose out while the Spartans want Michigan to win out. Yeah, that's about as screwed up as dreaming about going to Indianapolis. Remember when you could beat Ohio State, stick a rose in your teeth, and book a flight to Pasadena? That will never happen again. Because Ohio State doesn't exist anymore.
BlueSeoul had another great Game Wrap, though I could have done without the characterization of Hoke and co. as a return to Lloydball:
And then I realized, it's not about da shoes. The thing that changed was me. I'm ready to go back to 9-3 season's again. I'm willing to tolerate 8-4 years if they're balanced with 10-2. I might even be able to stomach the very infrequent 7-5 year if it's offset with a couple 11-1's and 12-0's. And I don't need last second comeback drives against Indiana to be entertained. Saturday's stomping of Purdue was boring, and entertaining, and filled with more satisfaction than I've felt in years.
Let's not confuse late Carr and RR-era Grouchy Carr with three decades of Carr the D.C. and Carr the H.C. who put many roses in many Michigan mouths. He didn't break chairs and splatter goats in visitor's locker rooms after losses but this idea that Carr was not intense and hell-bent on winning championships needs to die. Also needs to die: Interceptions:
That's from turnover analysis by Enjoy Life. Michigan has thrown 12 INTs and picked off six. Fortunately the arm punts don't hurt so much EJ explains. When ST3went inside the box score, he pointed at Avery's pick as the play of the game.
Iowa needs one more win to be bowl eligible, and they missed the potential to do that last weekend, with a loss to lowly Minnesota. Iowa finishes up with Michigan and Michigan State visiting Iowa City and visits to Purdue and Nebraska.
Iowa's still technically in the hunt for the Bo Division title, but they're also one bad trip to West Lafayette and three losses to Top 15 opponents away from their season ending in November. The pic above is Blue Indy's 'Marvel'ous wallpaper.
Recruiting is a thing again. Ace provides the weekly class rankings that haven't changed but for two JUCOs to Minnesota and Purdue. A scouting report on 2013 OLB prospect E.J. Levenberry was posted by austinte and bumped. The Virginia linebacker has a 5-star's offer sheet and is probably a WLB to Michigan. There's plenty of room available for this year's guys, finds airvipermb.
Google has to be wondering what's up with stubob and the weekly pony image searches for Ugly Game of the Week. The guy probably can't type 'p' into his search box without "pretty prancing ponies" filling in. MiS's Upset Watch shows Michigan 7-1 against the spread this year but Iowa is 5-0 at home ATS this year and Ferentz is usually a good home dog, dammit. Yesman2221previews WMU in hockey. Chris of Etc. moved the picture pages. Get your program.
Coming up, you were not imagining the imaginary Woodsons; they are everywhere. Also: Craig Roh dressed as a shepherd and Mike Martin's Smashing Pumpkins.
Halloween has been unkind to the Wolverines in recent years. In '08 Michigan's heretofore okay secondary dressed up like a bad 3-3-5 and handed out open out routes to Purdue like candy. In 2009 it was the House of Haunted Dong-Punching that in retrospect marked the turning point in the Rodriguez experiment. Last year M came out of a bye having swapped out Cam Gordon for a 2-star true freshman, and the barest hope of defensive competency for none.
Perhaps such horrors are the reason our ancestors celebrated All Hallow's Eve by huddling in their homes, carving pumpkins to look like possession receivers, and dressing up as professional wrestlers who teach toughness and point at things. It's a good night to curl up with your favorite book (909Dewey on Three and Out), calculate your chances of winning Pick Six (Jeff), catch a high school game (frerrnnur5 sees Jordan Payton play), or—a must read for Big Ten refs by Enjoy Life—learn the difference between a fumble and a backward pass.
The rest of you will be stepping away from your internets to pretend you have social lives. But there's no reason you have to leave your MGo-obsession at home until your screen saver of cjm, monuMental and Blue Indy wallpapers (this week's by the latter) takes over. In a weak (read: bye) week, this is the Diarist of the Week. Here's a few costume concepts inspired by this week's diaries; feel free to add yours in the comments:
1) RON ZOOK, WITH A DRY ERASE BOARD ON HIS BACK THAT PEOPLE CAN WRITE SCORES ON
Ron Zook won the eponymous Dumb Punt of the Week again in the Mathlete's Mid-Week Metrics. Now you too can be just as oblivious to the world around you. Just get an Illinois sweatshirt, a nice silver coif, and walk around kicking things when you shouldn't.
2) LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE WITH A NEBRASKA 'N' ON YOUR SKIRT
You walk in singing "I think I'm gonna like it here," until you discover living with Daddy Warbucks is even more fraught with dangers than the poor orphanage you left (which Ms. Hannigan and her nefarious friends are meanwhile plotting to bring to ruin). Wisconsin ate the upset bug last week in Maize_in_Spartyland's Upset Watch. Don't count on 6-1 Nebraska making things right however, as they're 2-5 against the spread so far this year.
3) HOPLITE IN A PRISON UNIFORM
BlueSeoulcame away unimpressed with Spartan discipline. You can pay tribute by picking up an orange jumpsuit or striped uniform and a Spartan mask.
4) COUGARS AND A PACK OF TROJANS
In the Ugly Game of the Week, stubob gives you the games that'll have you changing the channel to Golden Girls, starting with the Troy Trojans of Troy (We're from Troy!) versus FIU.
5) A NEUTERED BULLDOG
Michigan beat Ferris State last night but Yesman2221's weekend series preview is still relevant through this evening.
LESLIE NIELSEN AS GERG, SETH ROGAN AS THE STUFFED ANIMAL
MGoJoe and friends have begun casting for Three & Out: The Movie, starring Russell Crowe as Rich Rodriguez, George Clooney as Dave Brandon, and Al Pacino as Dave Brandon's Pimp Hand. Hey, they made Moneyball into a feature so why not T&O? Skip Joe's picks and go right to the replies.
THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE MIDWEST EMPIRE
PeterKlima asks rhetorically if the conference has entered its Dark Age. I guess the Carr and Cooper years, from the conquest of Penn State to the pagan revival of Alvarez, could be the period of the tetrarchy and late antiquity; who's Justinian, Jim Tressel? Is the Spread Offense Christianity? Is any part of this analogy mentioned in the thread itself? No, not really.
FACEPALM GUY IS THE ANTI-LLOYD BRADY
The photoshoppers came out in force this week. The guy who twice caught ESPN peeking for UTL fan reaction shots bought the O.P. a beer, and for his troubles got a photoshop thread. So far Facepalm Guy has appeared in a family Christmas film, signed the Declaration of Independence, was carried off the field after a Citrus Bowl victory over Florida, perched atop a 1930s Manhatten skyrise project, gave the nation the Nixonian Double-Peace from the door to Marine One, got himself tased by MLB security guards, understudied Johnny Depp, stuck his head in the ground, escaped the Death Star, won a bodybuilding contest, and rededicated Notre Dame stadium to his blessed works.
CASE STUDY SAYS BAD IDEA IS BAD IDEA
Minimum donations 1/5th of the cost DB is asking for next year have led Penn State to non-sellouts (thanks Murph). This is Penn State's 2011 home schedule versus Michigan's 2012 home schedule:
Penn State 2011
9/3 – Indiana St
9/8 - Air Force
9/10 - Alabama
9/15 - UMass
9/24 – Eastern Mich
10/13 - Illinois
10/8 – Iowa
10/20 - MSU
10/15 – Purdue
11/10 - Northwestern
10/29 – Illinois
11/17 - Iowa
11/12 – Nebraska
The Nittany Lions have two marquee games and another three non-terrible conference opponents versus Michigan's one and two or three. They asked their fans for a minimum of $100 (up to $1,000 for the best seats) to lock in their seats and now their stadium looks like Joe Louis Arena (packed house above, half-empty in the pricey section). Brandon is asking Michigan fans to fork up about the same as what emptied the Lions' den, but without the actual promise of getting a seat. Yeah, this is a completely terrible idea.
IT'S ALMOST 2012; DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR APR IS?
We got a moment of panic from myrtlebeachmaiz…[name gets too long] about whether that albatross of an 897 Academic Progress Rate from 2007-'08 will subject Michigan to the new Srsly APR is Srsly penalties. Brian will probably cover in the future but the short-short version is we're probably in the clear.
Some of the newer folks like Mr. Yostthink it's time to bring out THE FAQ again. If you hover your mouse over "About" and click on "FAQ" you can read all about the acronyms you don't know and the nicknames you've never heard of, like who exactly is Tacopants (who is sadly very much back on the team) and Manbearfreak (that one is so retired). If you can think of some other bits of acronyms or jargon that need to be added, mention them in Yost's post and I'll do a one-time update this weekend or something.
The diary on poor tackling got me thinking about Rich Rod's coaching philosophy. It's obvious that he recruits speed and athletes on offense at not only the skill positions but also the o-line where he likes guys who can get out and block in space. These are the guys who get all the attention and the playing time. They are "the game breakers" and the guys who can make a big play at any time. How can that not transfer over to the defensive side of the ball? So, in the spring, we heard rumors about Cam Gordon having a great camp because he probably delivered some big hit kill shots to 4th string RBs instead of learning how to play assignment football with fundamentally sound tackling.
Am I way off here? Every yard after contact I see Michigan allow, I can't help but think how much better a (I can't believe I'm saying this) Jim Herrmann/Ron English defense was at stopping the run. We can chart how few upperclassmen we have on D until we are blue in the face but you have to concede that something is fundamentally wrong with the program's defensive attitude and philosophy. I think it just may be the constant search for "big time players" rather than smart football players who can read and react quickly.
What do you think?
-Jim Dudnick BBA '01
Well… yeah, I guess, but like everything else on the defense the lack of depth and experience makes it hard to tell whether we're just seeing what would happen if Virginia Tech threw out a secondary full of underclassmen or if there's a long-term talent development problem. Is it a recruiting issue? Don't know. Rodriguez recruits at Michigan are all freshmen or sophomores, and if none of them are very good there's a pretty obvious reason why. Very few can "read and react quickly" as underclassmen.
Something is wrong with the program's defensive philosophy. That much is obvious. To me that problem is an incoherent coaching staff that either forces the coordinator to run a scheme he doesn't understand or forces the position coaches to do the same. Why is it so important for the position coaches to know what the defense is doing instead of getting JT Floyd to exist? I don't know, but those meddling kids have put Michigan in some goofy variant of the 3-3-5 for three years running and it hasn't done anything but implode because the defensive coordinator isn't really on board.
The problem with Michigan's philosophy on D appears to be the lack of one.
While i think there are many things wrong with the Michigan football team right now, it seems like either the play calls or the reads have been restrictive in nature.
Last year, it seemed like on the read-option, there was a third option to pass to a receiver at the line of scrimmage that could catch and run for an easy 5 yds. Has this been replaced by the receiver running a skinny post?
Also, it seems a major component of any spread offense is the quick screens/pass to the slot receiver with the outside WR blocking down. The offense featured this last year but hasn't at all this year.
I believe the plays are in the offense's playbook. When Tate is in, there is a more even run/pass distribution. (ie- look at the easy 7 yds michigan could have had at the end of the Penn St game when Denard threw to Junior Hemingway and he dropped the ball)
The main point of all of this... It would seem that passing on the edge would open up the defense to make running in the middle a little bit easier.
Thanks for you coverage of Michigan. It makes my work day more enjoyable.
Opponents have been taking the bubble away by alignment. Iowa put a linebacker over him and managed to keep two-deep coverage. Penn State moved a safety down. When opponents have gone away from these schemes it hasn't taken Michigan long to hit the bubble for a nice gain, at which point they go back to taking it away. When Iowa started blitzing off the edge in the second quarter Michigan hit a couple bubbles and Iowa reverted to its previous scheme. Smart Football dubbed the bubble a "constraint play" way back in 2008, defining the concept like so:
What if your offense is based only on bubble screens and then you just run the ball or throw the ball as a counter to your bubble screen offense?
The difference is that the bubble screen is a play that really only works when the defense has made a structural choice or is out of position. Most commonly, you'll run when the bubble only when the defense has but two defenders to cover three receivers. You thus block the two defenders and the receiver has free yards. If the defense puts a third defender there they can take the play away, intercept it, or make the tackle.
Conversely, a well designed dropback pass play, a triple option play, or certain base runs will work every time you face a normal defense. The only time the play stops working is when certain defenders cheat on their assignments, either by alignment or aggressiveness.
You're right that the edge passing opens up the interior running, but it's already a reason Michigan's ground game has been so effective, and a reason that things like Kevin Koger 60 yard touchdowns happen.
The bubble option after a zone read keeper is still being run but it's not being thrown. I imagine they've de-emphasized it because when it has been thrown it's not usually getting more than a few yards and if that's your upside you might as well let Denard carry it. The equation changes radically when he's running the ball instead of Forcier.
Chip Kelly said a week or so ago he has nothing to do with his defense, he just leaves that side of the ball to his defensive coordinator. GERG has championship rings on multiple levels. Why can't RR just let him do his thing? It seems to me that if Rich Rod just worried about the offense and let GERG do the D, Michigan might be better off.
The other side of the complaint about Rodriguez not being involved enough in the defense. This is an unanswerable question. I'm not sure why there was an insurrection against Scott Shafer in 2008—well, okay, I have some idea since Michigan refused to put Brandon Harrison on the field—or why the 2009 defense spent most of its time in an eight-man front or why Michigan decided to install every front imaginable this year.
It's clear, however, that the position coaches are forcing the coordinators to adapt to them (again, this is exactly what happened in Tommy Tuberville's final year at Auburn) and the results are dismal.
Whether or not turning the defense over to Greg Robinson would help any is debatable. He has never built an effective college defense. After getting fired from the Chiefs he had a single year at Texas during which he turned in the same level of performance the DCs before and after him did. Then he went to Syracuse and could not field a minimally competent unit after his first year—the team went backwards fast and stopped in the triple digits. While he got a rep for being a good position coach last year it's obvious that the linebackers we can actually compare across '09 and '10 did not progress much over the offseason. Ezeh was the same, Mouton is a little better but still prone to the same mistakes he's made throughout his career. No one else has never seen the light of day before this year.
At this point there is no case for keeping him around. There is no reason to expect anything but failure from him; some good NFL defenses with the Broncos are now a decade old. All the reasons the defense should be bad are still valid, but the only way to salvage Rodriguez's job is to bring in a defensive coaching staff with proven recent success that cannot be undermined by whatever the deal is with the current assistants, whichever of them stay around.
In response to your recent post about the blood drive where you said: “I should put up a ticker that says 1343 DAYS SINCE OHIO STATE BEAT MICHIGAN AT BLEEDING. Ain't got no other tickers to put up” there is indeed a slightly more noteworthy streak that is still intact. Michigan’s Mens rowing team has beaten OSU’s mens rowing team 14 consecutive years at their annual dual race. According to the team’s website this streak is the longest continuous streak for Michigan over OSU in any sport ever (at least where head-to-head meetings are applicable). The matchup takes place right before the annual football game (with the first win coming in November 1996), so in my approximation this streak is at about 5,085 days or so and counting. Thought you might like that nugget of info.
Woo! Also, sincere congratulations to the rowing team.