Monkey Punches

Monkey Punches

Submitted by Brian on September 3rd, 2012 at 11:30 AM

9/1/2012 – Michigan 14, Alabama 41 – 0-1

[ED: I retreated into humor; Ace, being there, didn't have that option, and wrote a thing that is closer to the game column thing than this.]

So I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and have concluded that Michigan's biggest tactical error on Saturday night was not leaving Jerryworld ten minutes into the first quarter and wandering around Dallas until they'd had enough random encounters to go up several levels. Once Michigan had unlocked special abilities like Mystic Separation and acquired the Arm Of Elway, they could have returned to the field and resumed playing on a more even basis.

While this would take about three years and pose several logistical difficulties, there can be no debate this would have been a preferable to the solution Michigan's dunderheaded coaches decided on, viz., not running away at top speed apologizing profusely. By not fleeing to practice their skills on, like, bats and stuff, they ended up losing the game.

Worse, they ended up continuing the game, thus forcing a great many people to watch it. At no point did Al Borges deploy the EMP weapon he must have spent the offseason perfecting in lieu of figuring out what Denard Robinson is good at. So the broadcast continued unabated, except apparently in DC where DirecTV was on the fritz. (Wolverines in our nation's capitol: keep yourselves quarantined. You may be all that's left of us once the PTSD kicks in. You must continue to tell others of our sacrifice.)

As mentioned, a better strategy would have been to exit at top speed while splicing K-Pop videos into the feed.

One of 67,200,113 things that would have been preferable to watching football on Saturday night

But hey, I'm just a guy on the internet. Maybe I haven't thought this through. There are multiple strategies for successfully executing a game like Saturday's.

INVENT A TIME MACHINE. The classic. Go back to the point at which this game was agreed upon and describe to the decision-makers what the consequences will be. Unfortunately, in this case the only part of "nationally televised debacle on par with Chernobyl" that will be heard is "nationally televised," and nothing will change.

DRINK! Not working.

DRINK MORE! Nerft veruking erngerghf.

AFTER IT'S OVER, TELL PEOPLE YOU SUCK AND WILL PUT MORE SUGAR IN YOUR SAUCE. I'm not sure what the analog of putting more sugar in your sauce is but it's probably putting more MAN in your BALL down BY THE RIVER. This move was successfully executed by the guy who replaced the guy who only hears "nationally televised" at his old job and may be replicated here once the guy who only hears "nationally televised" has been safely quarantined in a relatively meaningless BS government job like governor.

Sorry, world, that you think we suck. We're going to try not to suck any more, and look, here's some guy who works for us. Very middle America, this guy. Puts garlic on the uniforms. How cool is that?

GO LIMP. Jesse Williams may believe you are rotten and wander off in search of salmon.




via MVictors

The weird thing about doing this and being this age is that you feel stuck. I did not know I was doing this when I started doing it and have felt grateful for my continued obsession it as various other people ranging from 30-50 have reported back on their waning interest in Michigan football, previously their alpha and omega. There's nothing sadder than the thing you used to think is amazing.

What I felt on Saturday was an intense jealousy of Orson/Spencer, who had a child a couple years back and is having another one. We're getting there, but not quite yet due to PhD things. It would have been nice to have a child to look at halfway through the second quarter and know with 100% certainty that what I was looking at was just a game that did not really matter.

I know this, or at least knew it. (I do not know this and never knew it even a tiny bit.) Now that the career is the game it is hard to figure out what's a reasonable response from a human, what's my response, and what's my response augmented by the fact that I've doubled down on fandom. All of it seems out whack, and never more so than on Saturday when a guy I've met a half-dozen times now, mostly at NYC Alumni Club events, was there. He's one of those magical guys who somehow makes a career out of writing stuff for Spin and the NYT Magazine and magazines that start "New York" and may or may not have additional bits in their name. He's been pitching an article about me at these organizations. He was taking notes.

At halftime I bellowed "THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT RUNNING DENAAAAARD" at the television. I knew that this was probably not wise with a man taking notes in the room, but only after I did it. There it was anyway. I'd already spent the entire first quarter telling myself not to say anything on twitter until the die had truly been cast.

So, I feel stuck, you know? I'm 33 now, the age when Jim McManus had his Age of Miracles and went to the World Series of Poker to write about it for Harper's, married and not disjointed and blessed by the cosmos. It's a hell of a football game to watch that makes you wish this stuff didn't have such a hold on you, but the first time I looked at the clock and boggled at how much time was left was in the first quarter.


It'll pass, I'm sure. It's just a hell of a football game to do that do you, to leave you blank and unthinking until you laugh in a way that frightens even you.

Bullets we need for this post so you can't use them, find others

The takeaway. DENNIS NORFLEET WOOOOOOOOOOO. He looked fast! And returned some kicks a moderate distance! And got lit up by Dee Hart! And Fred Jackson doesn't think he can play!

Some other stuff that's not about Norfleet for some stupid reason follows.


Obligatory uniform opinion. Highlighter yellow emphatically not getting fixed, so the shoulder things combine with the pants to give off a blinding aura. If that was the goal—maybe Alabama won't even be able to look at us!—okay. I'm guessing it's not. Meanwhile, Alabama just wears their uniforms because they're Alabama. Their brand seems to be surviving.

At least Michigan got the helmet numbers right, amirite?

Blown out. I debated just posting the Hoke presser and saying "Hoke's voice is all you need to know about this game."

Obligatory Borges stuff. Guh. The best thing you can say is that once you're down 31-0 you might as well get out of there without getting anyone hurt. When the opponents are saying stuff like this

“I thought with the running back being out, I thought (Robinson) would’ve got more touches, because he’s a playmaker, he’s a good athlete, good player,” said Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson. “And I don’t know, it was a shock.”

…you totally outsmarted them. And yourself. Mostly yourself.  Any hopes you may be harboring that this will all work itself out and Denard's legs will be the primary engine of the offense are looking pretty sickly at the moment. At least we've been here before, and Borges has retreated to plot anew. Usually he comes back with "hey, this guy can run."

The only rationale I can think of that makes any sense is that Borges believed flat-out that Michigan could not run at all and wanted an offense predicated on that. I don't know how much I buy that given Alabama replacing a number of starters and football coaches' general self-belief, but the numbers are clear. From Bill Connolly:

In 2011, Michigan ran the ball 74 percent of the time on standard downs (national average: 60 percent), 40 percent on passing downs (national average: 33 percent). Despite pro-style intentions, the Wolverines catered to Denard Robinson's strengths for the most part and kept things run-heavy, especially when Toussaint caught fire late in the year.

Against Alabama on Saturday, though, the gameplan was quite different. In the first quarter, Michigan ran just five times on 11 standard downs (45 percent) and just once in six passing downs (17 percent). These are Air Raid percentages.

If Robinson has 30 carries against Air Force I'll again descend into the Walter White laugh. (Spoilers, obviously.)

Would have been nice to see what Robinson could have become in an offense that catered to—or even bothered to use—his primary skill. (Everything else would have been terrible, of course.)

Yeah, yeah, Robinson had reads and could have kept the ball blah blah. Planning to get Robinson carries when Alabama's defense decides not to put a guy on him on the read option is not a winning strategy.

Gardner WR stuff. Gardner probably took more snaps at WR than anyone else and looked like a 6'4" version of Darryl Stonum from 2008. He consistently looked over the wrong shoulder on deep stuff and his routes were crap. But he scored a touchdown and could have had a couple more long gainers if he wasn't going up against yet another Alabama cornerback from hell. Gardner didn't get an opportunity to catch that opening slant thanks to that Milliner kid and had a few more potential long completions broken up by the Alabama secondary. Milliner raked one out; a few others never got there.

Once Gardner's away from a 6'2" junior who was a five star and the #2 CB in his class to Rivals, he'll do fine. Unlike Stonum 2008, Gardner did find the ball even if it looked ugly as he did so.

Roundtree. The first interception was debatably interference as Milliner shoved Roundtree to the ground on his route. Penalty or not, that sequence should make Roundtree's shortcomings as an outside receiver clear. He is not big enough, strong enough, or athletic enough to compete with standout corners. His assets are about as wasted as Denard's, though at least in Roundtree's case it's clear he's on the outside because of a lack of other options.

The ground game. Hard to get a grasp on anything, obviously. Michigan was overwhelmed; Toussaint would not have done much better. Aside from one Vincent Smith run that Alabama lost contain on, Michigan got jack on the ground. I can ask questions all day: why was Rawls going east-west? Why was misdirection hardly attempted? Did Michigan come into the game with more than one running play?

It doesn't really matter.

Bubble screens. They existed, and they got eight yards each, and they were Michigan's best plays that weren't chucking it deep. Gallon looked very good on both; there's no reason not to keep going to it when the defense is giving it to you.

In case of Lewan emergency. Move Schofield to left tackle (where he was pwned on his first play), Omameh to right tackle, and bring in Burzynski at right guard. In case of Lewan emergency, we are dead dead dead dead dead dead.

Defense. Ask again later. I stopped paying close enough attention to tell you anything interesting after the first quarter.

The Countess injury is of course a major blow; with Talbott out the door earlier their CB depth has gone from excellent to shaky before game two. Webb says($) expect Raymon Taylor to pick up the slack. The line was always going to get pounded. Somewhat disconcerting to see a lot of James Ross out there unless Michigan had also just packed it in and was screwing around with getting some experience.

Freshmen. Maize and Blue News has a comprehensive recap. Other than Ross (and NORFLEET) the most prominent freshman contributor was Jarrod Wilson, who stepped in as the free safety in the nickel package as Michigan moved Thomas Gordon down to nickel. Pipkins looked like he got some push on a few plays, too.

We did not see much from Chesson and Darboh, but if Roundtree keeps playing like he is that won't last.

Your winner for dumbest burned redshirt: Royce Jenkins-Stone.

Well, at least this isn't particularly unusual. Various recent Alabama scores:

  • 2011 Citrus Bowl: Alabama 49, MSU 7
  • 2011 Arkansas: 38-14
  • 2011 Florida: 38-10
  • 2011 Tennessee: 37-6
  • 2011 Auburn: 42-14
  • National title game: 21-0 over LSU, LSU never crosses midfield.

Other than Georgia Southern, no team has put up more than 14 points on Michigan since Cam Newton's Auburn outfit.

Forever little brother. This is why Michigan State will always be Michigan State, and doesn't even include Delvon Roe:

Michigan is getting Raped right now. I bet Jerry Sandusky is proud lol #ROLLTIDE

Get your yuks in now.

At least it wasn't the most embarrassing thing to happen over the weekend. This GIF of Kentucky fans is destined to go head to head with Rollerblading Raptors Mascot someday:


Don't forget the guy in the bottom corner and the dude left hanging at the top right. This is a gif as complex and layered as Yankee Enthusiasts and will in time take its place in GIF Valhalla.


Inside the Boxscore returns:

Morgan had 8 tackles, but they were all assisted tackles, which epitomizes the game. In all of the one-on-one matchups, we lost. Bama was just more “-er” than us, bigger, stronger, faster, tougher. I avoided watching Bama last season because I hate that “ESS EEE SEE” crap, but there’s no denying how good they are.

As does Hoke For Tomorrow:

I turned off the TV after Bellamy's first career pass attempt/interception and made my way quietly upstairs to bed.  The rest of the family (wife, 5yo son, 1yo daughter) had long since decided that a good night's sleep was a better option than watching Michigan get smeared across the turf in Texas.  I didn't feel any bitter emotions really, mostly concern for the collective knees of Taylor Lewan, Blake Countess, and Brandon Moore.  I guess the Rich Rod years knocked all of the conceited sense of entitlement out of me for real.



Hinton is gloriously reborn and his article is mostly about Alabama, because obviously. The bit on Denard:

That said, Denard Robinson did not look like a quarterback on the verge of turning the corner as a passer. On one level, it's hard to judge a guy who's being consistently hit and hurried by a defense as relentless as Alabama's, which seems to have an answer for everything on almost every play. But Robinson was well below the Mendoza line tonight in terms of completion percentage (11 of 26), and his two interceptions in the first half were about as ugly – and as costly – as they come.


The first he simply put up for grabs, recklessly lobbing a jump ball in the direction of a receiver who had already been shoved off of his feet and out of bounds by Tide corner Dee Milliner, who found himself all alone to gather in the pick; Eddie Lacy scored three plays, extending 'Bama's lead to 21-0. On the second, Robinson stepped up in the pocket and drilled the ball directly into the chest of linebacker C.J. Mosley, who jogged in for an icing score that pushed the lead to 31-0. In both cases, Robinson had no idea what he was seeing when he put the ball in the air, and seemed more interested in getting rid of it under pressure for the sake of getting rid of, whatever the cost on the other end. Michigan fans have seen that before; all indications tonight are that they'll be seeing it again.

I think that The Hoover Street Rag is not correct:

We have a choice as fans.  We can sulk, we can lament, we can shake our fists in anger.  But I don't think we will.

That would be nice.


In the second quarter, with Michigan trailing 24-0 and backed up inside their 10-yard line, Kirk Herbstreit was talking about Michigan's non-existant running game. The camera panned up to Al Borges in the coordinator's booth. After relaying the upcoming 3rd down play, Borges shook his head in disbelief and rubbed his face. It was the unmistakeable look of someone who had run out of answers, like working your way through a maze and finding only brick walls.

Touch the Banner:

Al Borges deserves some blame, but not much.  Michigan wasn't going to be able to run the ball in this game.  I predicted that Michigan would rush for fewer than 100 yards; the final tally was 69, despite having one of the most electrifying players in the country at quarterback.  Yes, Denard Robinson probably could have run the ball more, especially before he got dinged up.  Would it have made much of a difference?  Probably not.  Where Robinson really could  have made a difference was in the passing game.  He had lots of open receivers early in the game, but he's just as erratic as ever in the passing game.  He kept throwing deep (inaccurately), and completed just 11/26 passes.  The offensive line did a decent job of pass blocking, but if Michigan has to rely on Robinson to win the game with his arm, they're going to struggle.

Erratic, maybe, but I saw a lot of accurate-enough passes that would have been complete if not for Dee Milliner and other members of the Alabama secondary.

Wojo wrote a column. Maize and Brew did a thing. MGoRecruiting returns from the dead to pine for the spread 'n' shred. MLive now TWIS-ing their own readers. Big House Blog is not thrilled with Brandon. Me, I say that whenever you can get less money to play thousands of miles from campus against a team that's signed an extra recruiting class of players over the last five years without getting a home game in return, you have to do it.

At least the server held up, amirite?

Unverified Voracity Is Working Hard To Get Ready

Unverified Voracity Is Working Hard To Get Ready

Submitted by Brian on August 23rd, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Is anyone else paralyzingly bored with media output of late? I mean, I just read these articles in which the answers have become absolutely uniform

"Right now, I'm just worried about this camp and Sept. 1 and Michigan football," [ANYONE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD] said. "I never really felt like I took any steps backward or anything, I'm just going to continue to work hard like I've been doing."

…and I feel a need to link it while at the same time feeling like I am wasting your time by doing so. This is why I said Vincent Smith was a carrot. Because I am bored out of my mind with fall camp. Vincent Smith is not actually a carrot.

Don't even get me started on Countdown to Kickoff, where the most interesting thing is whether or not Doug Karsch's hair tuft will be there. It wasn't always like this:


I think this deserves Henri, the otter of ennui.


Strangely, I feel better. It could be worse: I could be a journalist trying to scrape something interesting out of this mess. Let's move on.

Ringer seems out. If you hit up Kaleb Ringer's twitter and scroll down a bit you'll get tweets from folk wishing him well on his recovery and Joe Bolden saying they can't wait for him to get back. (Also you'll get Ferris State's logo for some reason.) He mentioned something about going through a trial a few days ago, as well.

He's probably injured, is what I'm saying, and given the tenor of the tweets I'd guess it's something with a long-term recovery period. He already seemed likely to redshirt; now I'd say that probability is close to 100%. With Antonio Poole also out long-term, James Ross is going to see the field.

[UPDATE: Hoke just announced Ringer is out for the year. So is Chris Bryant.]

What I am saying. I may flesh this out into a bigger post later; for now, Her Loyal Sons put together a primer on Notre Dame's 3-4 defense. They have "cat" and "dog" linebackers that align strong and weak (or possibly to field or boundary—the post doesn't make it clear) and those guys are frequently deployed like so:


If this doesn't look familiar I have not been badgering you enough about how 1) moving to the 3-4 does nothing to help Michigan's DL issues and 2) that the 4-3 under is halfway between a traditional even 4-3 and the 3-4. Replace "CAT" with "WDE" and "DOG" with "SAM" and voila. ND will of course line up in a traditional 3-4 look and back that WDE-type-guy into coverage at times, but this assertion…

Unlike the 4-3, in which the defensive line almost exclusively rushes (save for some of the more exotic blitz packages), the setup of the 3-4 shines allows fourth rusher can really come from anywhere. While the Cat may be the pass rushing specialist, that doesn’t mean he will always do so.

…does not jibe with my observations last year, when Mattison flung all manner of zone blitzes at the opponent. The fourth rusher was very frequently not the WDE.

Anyway: 4-3 under personnel crammed into a 3-4 does not use more linebackers and only exacerbates issues with having 280 pound SDE/3techs.

Outrage! Not really. Carr told John Wienke to go to Iowa:

"When Coach Carr retired, he was the one — I actually always liked Iowa — but he told me probably to go with Iowa,” Wienke said. “That’s probably the next-best thing that was going to be for me with my style of play.”

Outrage level here is zero. Telling a recruit he probably doesn't fit is a lot different than allegedly telling the players already on campus they had a green light to transfer. Chances are Rodriguez would have phoned the kid up and said the same thing. I probably wouldn't have brought it up except for the fact that the kid is doing all that he can to honor Carr's guidance:


He's a punter now.

It's neutral you guys. The Alabama game is declared the "best of the Big Ten road schedule" by the Star Tribune [HT: Daily Gopher], which is one thing. Another is Countdown to Kickoff straying dangerously off-message at the 1:20 mark:

do not operate heavy machinery after watching countdown to kickoff

Michigan practiced at Ford Field to prepare for "all that road noise." It's a neutral site you guys. Neutral.

Yeah, let's do that. No, nevermind. Brandon said something to justify the Horror II that demonstrated his inability to grasp anything other than "attention = good." Hey, here's a bunch of CBS guys reminiscing about where they were when the Horror I happened. I bet you're going to go read that right now.

He said many other things as well, some of them appalling like moving the spring game to Ford Field. RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE. /is actually rabbling

Nonexistent CHL union still works. That's the argument from London, home of one of the more prominent OHL teams:

The CHL franchises operate as professional franchises. They are a business first and foremost. The scholarship program is great until you play professionally, then you lose it. That's not right.

They trade kids indiscriminately in an effort to make their business successful. They entice kids to come to their programs and when something doesn't work, they are tossed aside like a punctured jockstrap. Teams pay a player $50 a week and own him totally for four or five years.

That's the type of thing that needs to be addressed for the good of these players.

As for the assertion that the CHL is comprised of 60 teams that all operate as individual corporate entities, it sounds an awful lot like the structure of the NHL and last time anyone looked, the NHL had a players' association.

If they are individual entities, the colluding not to pay a class of employees is not kosher. If these guys ever get their act together they would probably get a heap of concessions without even trying.

Etc.: Oklahoma kid will fill one of your commercial breaks at Michigan Stadium this fall, is probably taller than Dennis Norfleet. I want to like this "open letter to Brady Hoke" from Grantland, but open letters are always painful. Hey, writer-guy: Brady Hoke is not reading your stuff. I am. Talk to me, not him. OSU FR Adolphus Washington is 50 pounds heavier than he was when he signed his LOI. That's probably not good from their perspective.

CBS Reporting Trey Burke To NBA [Disputed]

CBS Reporting Trey Burke To NBA [Disputed]

Submitted by Brian on April 4th, 2012 at 3:03 PM


It's been a long time, Henri, the otter of ennui. I hate you.


Trey Burke is leaving Michigan after just one season.

The Wolverines point guard, according to sources, is expected to forgo his remaining three years of eligibility and declare for the NBA.

Article also says Michigan's bringing Spike Albrecht in Thursday. You have permission to panic.

UPDATE: Nick Baumgardner pinged Burke's dad and got this in a text:

Benji Burke tells that "Trey has not declared"

I'll be in the bomb shelter.

UPDATE II: Burke's father also has a twitter account:

Trey Burke has not declared for the NBA draft. He is still enrolled at the University of Michigan.

UPDATE III: I have an unconfirmed email from a guy who isn't established with me stating that Burke already has his evaluation, that it's 20-35, and is gone. He's got enough of an online presence that I can confirm he's an alum with a plausible route to that information, but again: unconfirmed, not established. Given the way the wind is blowing I don't doubt it.

I Only Post About Coaches Who Coach For Michigan

I Only Post About Coaches Who Coach For Michigan

Submitted by Brian on December 14th, 2011 at 12:37 PM




Citizens of the planet, I come before you today to make an announcement. That announcement is: I do not give a microdamn about the things 1) Rich Rodriguez or 2) Michigan alumni such as Desmond Howard have to say about Michigan and Rich Rodriguez, respectively.

My interest levels are declining into femtodamn levels. On message boards I now flip past entire threads in which the same tired debates are brought forth with the speed and determination I ignore threads about politics on the internet. Let that sink in. Yeah. That's right. I have as much interest in this topic as I do Herman Cain.

So I don't want to dedicate yet more time to a guy who was fired a year ago except to talk about the things that made his offense very effective and his defense very ineffective. Those things affect Michigan's fortunes on the field and are interesting examples of the ever-evolving college football metagame. Also interesting, if slightly depressing, is the pickle Rodriguez's last couple recruiting classes have left Michigan in, especially on both lines.

Talking about other aspects of Rich Rodriguez's tenure makes me want to claw at my face. But I will do this for you, like I will eat a lemon if Yuri Wright picks Colorado over Michigan. So here is a handy chart for you to follow.


EVENT: Rich Rodriguez has said something.

1. Is it about Michigan? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.

2. Is it really about Michigan or is it a paranoid delusion? If paranoid delusion, go to 3. If still about Michigan, go to 4.

3. Don't care.

4. Still don't care. However, this incident is further evidence that Rodriguez is deservedly bitter about his three year tenure at Michigan and impolitic about discussing it.

Yes, it is further evidence that Rodriguez's maturity level and ability to play "the game" are low. Yes, it reminds me how nice it is to have a guy like Brady Hoke, who says all the correct things in all the generic ways possible. Yes—

What? Where am I? Why am I upside down in some sort of river valley? Why is there a bridge above/below me?


I was probably bungee jumping at the time in an effort to prevent the inevitable—this is the level of my dedication to you, reader—but this topic was still massively boring enough to result in nappy times. I apologize. I'm so, so happy to be talking about this, no, serious—


EVENT: A program alum or Lloyd Carr has said something.

1. Is it about Rich Rodriguez? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.

2. Is it really about Rich Rodriguez or is it more of a rapturous thing about Brady Hoke that sets the lack of support given during the Rodriguez tenure in stark relief? If rapturous thing, go to 3. If actually about Rodriguez, go to 4.

3. Yes, that is annoying but let's just suck it up because it's in the best interests of the program.

4. Yes, it is extremely disappointing that certain program alumni appear to be jerks. What can you do, though?

To take one example, when you're so dim and callous as to deride Rodriguez as "Cherry Coke"—probably meant "New Coke"—in front of 60-70 players who were recruited by Rodriguez, are the living embodiment of that change, and went 10-2 and reached the Sugar Bowl, well… that's hopeless. Anyone who would trash-talk Denard, even indirectly, is never going to Get It.

It's further evidence that several recent program alums' maturity levels are low. It reminds me of how nice it was to have Bo around. There's nothing to do about it but wait. Eventually the Rodriguez recruits will be out of the program and the Rodriguez years far enough in the—

Right, this again. Upside down in a river valley.


If I can remain conscious long enough to respond to these things in the future, all future events will be filed "3" or "4". This, people of Earth, is my sacrifice for your well-being. Let it not be in vain. File these things 3 or 4 and live your lives without Rodriguez-Michigan-induced narcolepsy. You, too, can live—

An upside-down Brian Cook who would greatly appreciate being reeled in now

PS. Many of you have passed out in front of your computers and are in danger of entering an infinite loop wherein you wake up, forget what you were reading, begin reading again, and fall asleep. In an effort to prevent the thousands of deaths that may result, here is an animated GIF of some levitating cats.


Hopefully this will catch the newly-awakened reader's eye sufficiently to prevent them from entering a fatal boredom loop.

Annual Complaint Against Stupid System

Annual Complaint Against Stupid System

Submitted by Brian on December 5th, 2011 at 11:37 AM

The conference championships are completed and it's not that one year Vince Young played USC, so the BCS's answer is a stupid one. Yes. Yes, it is that time again.


this "On Notice" board from 2006 is remarkably apropos today save for the hatred directed at random SEC mediocrities who failed to beat Florida

If the BCS hadn't popped out of its mother in midair above a dorsal fin, this would be the moment when it jumped the shark. Since it did we have to invent a new term for a terrible thing everyone hates reaching maximum troll. The BCS just Clay Travised all over us.

Anyway, every year at this time I pull out the MGoPlayoff proposal. I don't do this in any real hope it will make a difference, since anyone who could assemble our current system will botch a playoff just as badly. I don't really know why I do it. Maybe it makes me feel better—yes, there is a hypothetical version of college football that makes a goddamn lick of sense.

The goal!

CREATE A SINGLE TEAM WITH THE DEFINITIVELY BEST RESUME. College football is unique amongst sports in that the national title is essentially decided by eyeballing it. The only thing the BCS changed was to take the one team people used to eyeball and turn it into two. Hinton:

What we should be asking instead is, why does college football and college football alone insist on wedging itself into this ridiculous corner year after year? When did we concede to leave the results of a sport to a cacophonous, ill-informed debating society? How have we convinced ourselves that dragging statistics and resumés and eyeball tests to the podium — along with preconceived biases that trump them all — can possibly deliver a satisfying answer?

Obviously, it can't. Any answer to an unanswerable question is the wrong answer.

Literally every observer who has ever laid eyes on the Bowl Championship Series has mocked it as an absurd anachronism, and continues to mock it to this day. Rightly so. Every sane observer within the sport has mocked it as an absurd anachronism. Seriously: Voting on the better football team? Are we still doing this? We're really going to do it again? Deferring to polls and algorithms in a competition that keeps score? Why are we still doing this?

Because of the unique structure of college football, a playoff can be constructed to be inherently satisfying. That is: you can make something that always leaves one team alone atop a pile of skulls no one else in the country can match. This is obviously not the case right now.

The key components!

RESTRICTED FIELD. No 9-3 teams. Maintain as much of the importance of the regular season as possible. Keep out anyone who could win three straight and still reasonably have an AP vote go against them.

HOME GAMES. Helps with attendance, prevents people from having to travel multiple weeks, helps maintain importance of regular season, makes the guys at the bottom wade through a tougher task and helps bolster their pile-of-skulls argument.

BYES. Again, importance of regular season and pile-of-skulls argument.

NO AUTOBIDS, MAX TWO TEAMS PER CONFERENCE. Autobids can suck it. So can third place teams in their own conference. Also no first round intraconference matchups.

FINAL AT THE ROSE BOWL. Iconic. Would become one of the great traditions in American sports.

This year's version based on the final BCS standings:

1. LSU vs winner of 4. Stanford and 7. Boise State
2. Alabama vs winner of 3. Oklahoma State and 5. Oregon

Arkansas is left out because of the two-teams-per-conference rule; Boise and Oregon flip to prevent a conference matchup. The first two games would be this weekend with the second round on January 1st (2nd this year) and the final a week after. Anyone outside of the final four can go to whatever bowl they want, so this hardly touches the bowl system. The net result is removing one BCS bowl in favor of the playoff.

An eight team version of this is less ideal but also acceptable; that would see Kansas State and Wisconsin on the road in the first round against the SEC teams. Autobids are awful. Clemson and West Virginia can win three straight games here and still not be as worthy as LSU.

The pointlessness of existence!

Don't bother telling me it's not happening.  I know.


After the jump: blogpoll ballot time. Sure to endear me to Alabama fans even more.

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Wisconsin

Submitted by Brian on November 24th, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Formation notes: Michigan had a gameplan and stuck with it, running the stack all day. In certain formations—mostly I—Michigan shaded the linebackers to the strong side and brought a guy up behind, which looked like a 3-4 except your OLB is Ray Vinopal instead of Lamarr Woodley; I called that a 3-4.

An example stack:

iso-no-1Or something, anyway. Michigan lined up Kovacs or Avery to the strong side and had Cam Gordon over the WRs, which is another way in which this isn't much like a stack. If Kovacs is the bandit he should be to the weak side of the formation, AFAIK.

I came out in this formation for most of the second half:


Substitution notes: Michigan platooned the entire line, sending RVB, Martin, and Roh out there as the first team and Banks, Martin, and Black as the second. When Roh went out in the second half Heininger took his snaps. Demens and Mouton went the whole way; Fitzgerald got some run behind Ezeh but not much. Gordon played most of the way at spur but Johnson got approximately three drives. Avery, Rogers, Kovacs, and Vinopal played the whole way except for a couple plays where Talbott replaced Rogers after a hand injury.

On with show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O8 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA TE corner Ezeh 16
Bizarre that Michigan will spend a good chunk of the game backing Cam Gordon out onto the slot receiver and let Ray Vinopal play run D. That's what they do here, with a 3-4-ish formation and Kovacs overhanging to the short side. Tolzien has all day (pressure -2) and finds his TE settling in the space between Ezeh(-1, cover -1) and Kovacs. Ezeh sucked up on the PA fake and was a yard or two away from batting the ball down. Kovacs escorts OOB immediately.
O24 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Ezeh 14
TEs block down on playside DE and SLB. Ezeh(-1) sealed. RVB(-1) sealed. Two blockers on Kovacs and Mouton; Mouton(+1) slams into the pulling G and forces the play back inside, where there's no one since Demens(-2) got slashed to the ground instead of flowing hard down the LOS. Ezeh getting turned and shoved so badly opens the play up. Kovacs(-1) was pancaked easily by the pulling C to the outside. Ball squeezes through the hole and has no one until Avery(+0.5) comes up to make a solid tackle(+1) past the sticks.
O38 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Roh 1
End around fake to the run up the middle designed to attack that backside gap where people are freaking out about the end around. Roh(+2) slants underneath the TE and is into the intended running lane. Demens(+0.5) slid past a blocker by hitting a frontside gap hard, but it doesn't really matter since Roh's tackling from behind.
O39 2 9 I-form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 PA Post ? 26
All day (pressure -1) and Tolzien sits back, firing into a gap in the zone about equidistant from literally five Michigan zone defenders. (Cover -2) Caught, first down, etc.
M35 1 10 Ace twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Mouton 0
Mouton lined up at MLB on this play four yards off the LOS, with Demens to the strongside and Obi weak. Badgers run the same down G play, blocking down on the playside end and LB, in this case Vinopal. Cam Gordon is lined up tight to the playside as well, so he takes on one blocker to the outside. Demens(+0.5) flows down the line to get outside the second blocker, allowing Mouton(+1) to come from the inside and tackle. Mouton was free because of his alignment--here two yards deeper and a yard or so playside compared to the first one--and the inability of the C to release immediately because of traffic in the middle; Black(+0.5) slanted in and impeded his progress. Intentional? Don't know. Results based charting.
M35 2 10 Ace twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Martin 1
Looks like a designed cutback aimed at the backside; Vinopal rolls up to be the bandit as Michigan shifts strongside, making Ezeh the spur-type-object. Martin(+3) shoves the center back and reads the vertical path of the RB as he approaches the handoff point, cutting back behind the center, swallowing the play by himself.
M34 3 9 Shotgun trips Okie stack Pass   Sack Kovacs -11
Stack personnel; DL aligned as if it's a 4-3 with Demens lined up as an NT. Shafer used to do this on passing downs. (And third and one!) Zone blitz. Martin and Demens come, then back out; Mouton, Kovacs, and Ezeh come. It works as Kovacs(+2) gets a free run up the middle and sacks Tolzien to end the drive (RPS +2, pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Roh 7
Same play Martin swallowed last time. This time Roh(-1) gets washed too far down the LOS and allows a cutback behind him. Fitzgerald(-0.5) is in and the backside LB; he can't get off a block. This allows a big backside lane that Gordon(-0.5) can't cut down because he went with the end-around.
O32 2 3 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Van Bergen 9
Huge cutback lane as RVB(-1) is crushed out of the play on the backside. Demens is again lined up a yard behind his center and has no choice but to take a step playside and get blown up by a guard so when Mouton funnels the play back to him he's busy getting hit by a guy with his arms wrapped behind his back and can't get back. This is *exactly* why the 3-3-5 has MLBs way off the LOS. Here Martin had gotten playside of the C, cutting off the A gap and if allowed to flow Demens could have hit it backside easily. Here he's got a guard in his face after one step. RPS –1. Picture paged.
O41 1 10 I-form 3-3-5 stack Pass   PA scramble ? 7
Back to the Mouton MLB at reasonable depth thing. Tolzien looks, can't find anyone (cover +1) and then Martin(-1) and Roh(-1) get some vague pressure that forces him to step up. He's got a big lane (pressure -1) and takes it for good yardage. Coverage due to linebackers being three or four yards further off the LOS and able to get deeper?
O48 2 3 Ace twins Base 3-4 Run   Down G Patterson 2
Slower developing. Downblock on RVB sees him shoot upfield and vacate a bunch of space as his blocker goes with him. Mouton(+1) comes up to hit the pulling G at the LOS and forces it back inside, where Patterson(+1) has time to get cut, get back up, and tackle as the cut is awkward thanks to Mouton. I'm not sure if RVB's play is good or bad; it did get rid of the trash and allow Patterson to flow but it doesn't seem very sound.
50 3 1 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Gordon 4
RVB(+0.5), Martin(+0.5, and Roh(+0.5) and control single blocks and stand up at the LOS ready to tackle in their gaps. Gordon(-2) gets locked outside really easily by a backside TE when he needs to be in the gap behind Roh, Roh gets shoved past the play just barely, and there's a cutback lane for the first down.
M46 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Iso Martin 1
Black(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) slide together and block any possible release for a guard trying to get out on the linebackers. This opens up a backside hole that the RB does not take ; Kovacs may have filled it. Vinopal blitzes and peels the lead blocker, allowing Demens(+0.5) to tackle unmolested.
M45 2 9 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Pass   PA deep cross Fitzgerald 21
Ton of time (pressure -2) this time the WR is wide open (cover -3). On replay it's clear Fitzgerald(-2) blew his drop.
M24 1 10 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Power off tackle Kovacs 4
Michigan should have this dead as Kovacs is in overhang mode. Fitzgerald takes out a lead blocker and Mouton(+1) thumps the pulling G at the LOS, removing any lanes inside and funneling the back right to Kovacs. The Mouton blast has made the hole so small that the back has to slow up as he cuts. Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) tries to take down a guy 50 pounds heavier than him up high instead of taking out his legs and gives up a full 4 YAC.
M20 2 6 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Fitzgerald? 19
Fitzgerald(-2) is doing something strange. He steps back and away in an attempt to get outside the downblock. This really does not work; he gets blown off the ball. Mouton(-1) avoids a cut but took an angle too shallow and allows the back outside of him. Fitzgerald is gone; Demens got crushed because the C released free on him instead of dealing with the NT, Patterson. Patterson(-1) has avoided a cut but was slowed by it and then takes a bad pursuit angle that's too aggressive and sees Ball run by him; Demens(-1) also gets a ding for getting so comprehensively owned; he should probably slow up at some point so that this cutback isn't so smooth.
M1 1 G Goal line Goal line Run   Power off tackle Anderson 1
Michigan actually does a good job defending this play with Quinton Washington(!) getting under the pads of the C and driving him back into the path of a pulling guard. Delays him and allows Tony Anderson(-1, tackling -1) to plug Ball behind the LOS, but this is a walk-on cornerback we're talking about and Ball just goes "I am made of ham" and falls into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Black 5
They're doing that thing where Mouton is five yards off the LOS as the WLB and the other LBs are super close to the LOS. And the second team DL is in. Black(-1) is destroyed by a single block, giving the TE a really easy angle to block Demens since Demens is close to the LOS and can't avoid the traffic. Ezeh takes on the pulling G and forces the play inside, where Demens shucks his blocker and tackles. Freshman DE against Gabe Carimi. That's life, I guess.
O25 2 5 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Patterson 10
Patterson(-2) blown down the line and off the ball by the C. The center gets a tiny bit of guard help but it's more like 'can you get this guy' and since the answer is yes the Gs get free releases. Demens is trying to cut behind Patterson, now mashed three yards downfield, when he gets plowed by a guard. He does what he can, which isn't anything. Ball cuts between the two guys. Vinopal comes up and can't tackle but with people getting blown downfield he's got a tough job. He causes the TB to stumble and Rogers finishes the play. RPS -1; this is a play with one WR and a three-deep umbrella.
O35 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Mouton 3
Banks(-1) crushed back by a double and puts the LBs in a tough spot. Obi(+0.5) is scraping over the top and does a pretty good job of constricting space. Mouton(+1) attacks the Black block, hitting the outside guy before he can release into the second level and driving him back, messing up the other pulling guard's flight path. This allows Demens(+0.5) to scrape through the line without getting clubbed and tackle near the LOS.
O38 2 7 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Martin -3
A stunt by Michigan frees Martin. RVB(+1) crashes inside, taking his blocker and smashing into the C who's supposed to deal with Martin. This allows Martin(+1) to run down the line, and since Avery(+1!) was the functional spur on this play and bashed the TE he's in a great spot to force an uncomfortable bounce that Martin swallows. (RPS+2)
O35 3 10 Shotgun H-back Nickel Pass 4 Dumpoff Mouton 10
Four man line with Carvin Johnson hanging out as a linebacker in a middle zone. Black(+0.5) gets enough of a rush to push Tolzien up in the pocket and force a checkdown to the RB (cover +1). Mouton(-1) overruns it and while he can recover to tackle he can't do so before Wisconsin converts.
O45 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Wheel Ezeh 24
Vinopal rolls up as an OLB. Why? I don't know. He rushes as others drop off on play action; Tolzien has all day (pressure -3) and can comfortably zing in a wheel route to Kendricks that Obi(-1, cover -1) can't keep up on. Not really his fault, he's just too slow. (RPS -1)
O21 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Pass N/A Bubble screen Rogers 1
Kind of an odd playcall as Michigan has Gordon lined up right over the slot. Rogers(+1) attacks the corner trying to block him and ends up running him over. He's prone at the LOS, where he forces Toon to jump over him. Gordon falls over the mess but Toon's elbow hits and he doesn't get a killer gain. Still dodgy.
O20 2 9 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Pass N/A Waggle TE flat Ezeh 13
Rollout to the two TE side with one guy releasing right downfield into a pass pattern and the other blocking down on RVB to force him inside before releasing into the flat. Ezeh(-1, cover -1) rides the instant release guy downfield and then cannot get out on the edge to cover the flat guy--he can't even get over to tackle on a five yard catch. TE turns it up and it's first and goal.
O7 1 G I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Power off tackle Banks 2
Banks(+1) takes a double and holds at the LOS. He threatens to slant inside and takes both blockers with him. Mouton(+0.5) runs up to the LOS to take on the lead guy and with Martin(+0.5) taking two himself Kovacs and Demens are unblocked and can tackle.
O5 2 G Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Mouton 5 (Pen -15)
Mouton(-1) attacks a lead blocker well until he reaches the contact point, where he fails to get outside. All he has to do is turn it up and Demens and or pursuit will take the play out since Demens(+0.5) read and reacted too fast for the releasing G and turned him into a spectator. Touchdown comes back on an irrelevant chop block.
O20 2 G Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Dumpoff ? 7
Coverage(+1) is good deep and Tolzien checks down for a decent chunk. In the situation I think this is fine.
O13 3 G Shotgun trips Nickel Pass 4 Hitch Rogers  
A give-up-and kick since this is a three yard hitch. Guess he didn't like his other options(cover +1). Rogers(+1, tackling +1) is there to shut it down immediately.
Drive Notes: FG(25), 0-10, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA post Avery? 30
Tolzien gets lit up by Martin(+1, pressure +1) as he throws but gets the ball off on a deep post that's behind Mouton and Demens and in front of Avery. No idea who's responsible this time, but lean towards Mouton or Avery since Demens was well inside of where the ball went. (Cover -3)
M45 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Mouton? 10
Plenty of time (pressure -2) and Tolzien zings one in to Kendricks at the sticks. Mouton with an immediate tackle.
M35 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Iso Van Bergen 8
Another massive cutback lane as RVB(-1) is easily kicked out and removed from the play. He ends up pancaked outside the hash. The linebackers flow to the frontside, which just gets Mouton erased by a guard; Kovacs(-1) is in overhang mode and is late to react; Fitzgerald comes from behind to ankle tackle.
M27 2 2 I-form 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Martin 0
Attempted single block of Martin(+1) ends up with the C getting stood up two yards in the backfield. Roh(+1) slanted under a kickout block at first, then that guy gets his position back. He's given up too much ground, though: Roh spins off him and the two DL meet the RB in the backfield.
M27 3 2 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Power off tackle Vinopal 27
Vinopal(-1) is an eighth guy in the box and doesn't react appropriately when he sees the down block. He should shuffle down the LOS and cut the pulling guard to create a pile and bounce the play. Instead he runs into the FB and physics owns him. Carvin Johnson is at spur; he runs unabated from the outside and gets a diving arm tackle attempt on Ball; Ball runs through it. Demens(-1) and Mouton(-0.5) got eaten by blocks and couldn't help despite the slowdown; Demens was closer to the play and didn't read it fast enough to get in the hole; he also loses it to the outside. Two UW guys are now running downfield to pick up Avery, the FS; he gets run out of the play. Rogers(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked and can stop this after about ten; he whiffs.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-17, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O16 1 10 I-form 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 PA Dumpoff Mouton 9
Vinopal sent as the fourth rusher as he was lined up as an OLB. He actually does a decent job to get around the RB and with a little help from Martin pressures Tolzien into a throw. It's a dumpoff to the tailback, but Mouton(-1, cover -1) is so far off the TB can turn upfield and get five YAC. Frustrating when the dumpoffs are almost first downs.
O25 2 1 Ace twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA quick out Gordon 14
Coverage(+1) good deep and Tolzein has to check down after again being given all kinds of time (pressure -2). This will get the first and a few more until Cam Gordon(-2, tackling -2) gets depressingly run over by Kendricks and gives up ten extra yards.
O39 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Mouton 61
We get like no good camera angles. Mouton(-2) again gets inside a blocker and lets his guy outside. Demens(-2) was thunderously chopped by the center; RVB(-1) and Fitzgerald(-1) were easily sealed by down blocks. Alignment of the LBs was such that this was easy, I think. You're shifted away from the strength of the formation here so if they can downblock our guys on the line you're screwed. RPS -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-24, 2 min 2nd Q. Gallon fumbles the ensuing kickoff.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Banks 5
Banks(-1) crushed and pancaked by a double. Mouton(+1) gets upfield into the pulling G quickly, hitting him at the LOS and getting outside. This picks off both lead blockers. Demens had no chance to scrape because of the Banks pancake, leaving Avery(-0.5, tackling -1), the overhang guy, alone in space; his ankle tackle is run through and Wisconsin grabs five.
M22 2 5 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Mouton 3
Patterson(-1) blown off the line, allowing UW to crush Demens, again lined up about a yard off his NT. Mouton(+2) evades his blocker and scrapes past the Patterson mess to meet the RB in the hole, standing him up with help from Demens.
M19 3 2 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Pass   PA corner Roger Int
Good coverage(+2) all around, with Gordon maybe intentionally bashing a TE heading for the flat so Kovacs can get out on him. Tolzien makes a terrible decision to throw to a bracketed WR on a corner route that Rogers(+2) attacks to intercept.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-24, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Mouton 4
Michigan late getting aligned and this shot is way removed so it's hard to tell exactly what's going on but this is an adjustment, with Carvin Johnson farther outside. This prevents him from getting down-blocked. The TE can't do much with him and the pulling guards end up neutralized at the LOS. RB has to cut inside. Black shot directly upfield and gave up a big hole but I think that's on purpose since if he gets downblocked he's useless and he might as well terrorize the QB on play action. Michigan will do this most of the half. Mouton(+1) evades a releasing OL, coming upfield of him and flowing down the line to tackle. Pile falls forward.
O31 2 6 I-form twins Base 3-4 Pass   Rollout scramble Johnson 2
Seems like a UW bust as they have two WRs within a couple yards of each other and Johnson covering(+1) both. Vinopal charges in and gets uselessly chopped; Demens(+0.5) is out on the edge and shoves Tolzien OOB as he nears the LOS.
O33 3 4 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass   Cross Demens 6
Zone coverage looks coherent on this play as Mouton gets drawn deep by a vertical release from the single receiver. Avery has a wheel coming out of the backfield. Both are covered, so Tolzien's third option is a drag that Demens correctly diagnoses is his and follows, but follows a step too late. Receiver catches and turns it up for the first down; Demens(+1) and Avery(+1) combine to jar the ball free as he does so. Mouton jumps on it.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-24, 9 min 3rd Q. IT'S PEANUT BEAVER JELLY TIME
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 I-form big Base 3-4 Pass   Scramble Mouton 5
Good coverage(+2) forces Tolzien to scramble as he rolls to the sideline, but Mouton(-1) doesn't realize he needs to attack and gives up six yards that could be two.
O36 2 5 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Mouton 5
Line and LBs not on same page, as the line slants its way to the left, which is good. There's nothing on the frontside and Martin(+0.5) got a quick attack that got a releasing G off balance so Mouton(-1) is totally unblocked as the RB cuts it back; Demens absorbs the FB heading backside. Mouton hesitates and only gets a weak ankle tackle. I guess you could get on Black for getting pushed down the line too far but here there's one place for the RB to go, no one blocking the LB filling, and they still get five yards.
O41 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Avery 4
Van Bergen(+0.5) takes a momentary double and holds; Demens again close to the LOS and threatens to shoot into the backfield so the interior guy has to peel off quickly. Kovacs(+0.5) sets up well outside. Mouton(+0.5) takes on a pulling G at the LOS and the RB almost trips as there's not much room at all; Avery(-0.5) misses a tackle(-1) and Wisconsin gets a decent gain.
O45 2 6 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Delay Mouton 14
Martin(+0.5) again absorbs a double long enough to delay the release of the C, so no one is on Mouton. Heininger is slanting inside and gets sealed away, so the play is going outside. Vinopal avoids a cut block but runs upfield; Demens(+0.5) gets outside his blocker and forces the play back into Mouton(-2), who completely whiffs the tackle(-2) and turns like three yards into a big gain.
M41 1 10 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Banks 2
So this is how I think the earlier iso wants to be defended. Line slants playside hard, with Banks(+1) getting under the TE. Tackle released downfield but on the previous play the DE was just sitting outside, not driving down. Patterson(+0.5) gets a good push and stays at the line; Demens plugs a guard in the hole thanks to his position. No holes; Black(+1) swam past the tackle and the two DEs swallow the RB at the LOS.
M39 2 8 Ace twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Johnson 12
Again Johnson is outside the TE and he has to go downfield to find someone to block, but this time Johnson(-2) kind of hangs out casually on the edge, waiting for the pulling OL to get there. Given the sizes involved he needs to run up and cut the lead guy to the ground, making an ugly pile. Instead he stands up, gets inside the lead guy, and ends up sealed off five yards downfield. Demens charged up between the two guards and got cut by the second but because of the Johnson error it didn't really matter what he did; that could have actually been good. Ezeh's getting out on the edge; he gets pushed past the play via no fault of his own. A note: Black had not accepted the down block this time and was fighting to the ball. Mouton(-0.5) also sucked up oddly, though he recovers to tackle; could have been short of the sticks maybe otherwise.
M27 1 10 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Power off tackle Mouton 4
Well defensed, with Mouton(+1) and Ezeh(+1) attacking and getting to blockers at the LOS; no creases. RVB(-1) had been doubled and tried to fight through it but just ended up getting blown off the line, so momentum allows Wisconsin to lurch forward for a decent gain.
M23 2 6 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Heininger 23
This is odd and I think Mouton does something fairly right that ends up being terrible. UW blocks down on the one guy they can, RVB, who does the thing where he tries to shoot upfield for play action. Two blockers release downfield to get Demens and Mouton; M is playside of both. Mouton suddenly takes a vertical flight path past one and shoots upfield, where the second pulling guard stops to wall him off. This leaves Demens dealing with two guys; the guy who's supposed to get Kovacs, the overhang guy, has now been removed by Mouton. RB has to cut back as Kovacs attacks, leaving the backside pursuit to run the play down. This is Will Heininger(-2), getting his first action of the year. Heininger is rusty, coming off an injury, and a walk-on. His angle is too close to the LOS and he doesn't have the athleticism to make up for it, diving at the RB's legs and getting his tackle(-1) run through, at which point White is off to the races. Vinopal(-1) is late getting to the POA at the sticks; Heininger did slow him down but no one could get there.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-31, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Mouton 1
Somewhat similar but Michigan's LBs are not running down the line as far; Mouton is inside this time and again goes upfield of his blocker as Demens heads out. Mouton(+2) swims past the pulling G and tackles for a minimal gain by himself.
M44 2 9 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Iso ? 18
Banks slants inside the G, which I assume is what he's supposed to do. Play ends up going directly outside of him. Vinopal(-1) is blitzing from the outside and just runs way upfield out of the play uselessly, opening up a huge hole. Demens is getting blocked by the tackle and Mouton hangs back because another massive cutback lane has opened with Van Bergen again getting sealed out of the play. Martin can't quite get to the RB to close off the hole. With Mouton seriously delayed Demens(-1) and Martin(-1) get split for a big gain.  RPS –1.
M26 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Iso Mouton 1
Good God. RVB shoots upfield immediately outside of the tackle. With Martin slanting playside and Demens headed there too this opens up a cavern for the tailback. Fullback does well to read the jammed up frontside and cut back; Mouton(+3) sets him up inside, gives the back the impression he should cut it out, dodges the FB block, and tackles for a one yard gain. All in a days work. RPS -1.
M25 2 9 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Martin 3
Van Bergen is left unblocked and flies upfield as linebackers fill behind him. I'm not sure what he's doing in this game but either he's confused or someone else is because it doesn't make sense. He's upfield, preventing a cutback. Ezeh gets blocked by a guard; Demens is free behind him but has to cut one way or the other; tough. Fortunately, Martin(+1) shoves the center back and the RB trips.
M22 3 6 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Avery 15
This actually looks like a WVU stack with the MLB six yards deep. This is irrelevant to the play. Mouton(+1) gets playside of a releasing TE and avoids a cut. He's there to absorb a block, so Avery(-2) just has to keep contain and Kovacs can clean up for a FG attempt. He gets obliterated and gives up the corner. Kovacs(-1) has a shot but whiffs a shoulder tackle(-1), and blah blah blah.
M7 1 G Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Mouton 4
Same thing. Mouton(+1) gets playside of the TE again and forces an awkward bounce; Kovacs(-1) stops dead for some reason and gives up the corner.
M3 2 G Goal line Goal line Run   Power off tackle Kovacs 3
Bounced out to Kovacs(-1) and if he was attacking could be a no gain; instead he is slow to react and it is three yards.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-38, 14 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Ace big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Heininger 8
Demens aligned behind Patterson as this line is unbalanced, two yards off the LOS. Patterson(+1) does a good job to get playside of his blocker, forcing a cutback. Demens gets blown up by the guard; Heininger(-1) got scooped on the backside; Ezeh(-1) also is walled off and well out of the play. Cutback lane, yards, etc.
M32 2 2 Ace big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Mouton 2
Patterson(+0.5) stands up his blocker and pushes outside, which cuts off the space between himself and Patterson. Running lane is now further inside and it's filled by Mouton(+1), who darted past the OL assigned to him and doesn't get burned because of the Patterson play. Ball still gets the two he needs.
M30 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Banks 1
Banks(+0.5) takes a double and gets pushed down the line but slowly and doesn't get blown off the ball. Hole is pretty small. Kovacs takes the outside. Mouton(+0.5) turns it inside at the LOS. Ezeh(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) scrape to the ball, with Ezeh getting a break when UW's OL stumbles as he tries to get out on him. He takes on the last lead blocker and Demens tackles.
M29 2 9 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Kovacs 3
Same story here: DT and Demens both hit the playside A gap hard; Mouton flows, too, leaving a huge cutback lane. Kovacs(+1) fills relatively quickly.
M26 3 6 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Van Bergen 2
RVB(+1) refuses the down block, getting outside his TE and driving into the second of the pulling linemen. A cutback forced, RB is run down by Heininger from behind and Mouton(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5), who beat blocks.
Drive Notes: FG(42), 21-41, 9 min 4th Q. Wisconsin gets the ball back after an onside kick and goes down and scores but with the ball, six minutes, and a thirteen point lead it's academic. Not charted.

Why did you do this?

I have responsibilities to people!

Seriously, there is something wrong with you.

I stopped before the last touchdown drive, at least. That was theoretically important still.

No it wasn't since everyone on the planet knew they would run and score.



Yes, let's.


Chart, you'll see this in numbers:

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 3 6 -3 Did not make many plays; seemed to give up big cutback lanes easily. Maybe an RPS thing.
Martin 8.5 2 6.5 One old-style I destroy this play plus a few more scattered good bits and some half points.
Banks 2 3 -1 Eh.
Heininger - 3 -3 Eh.
Patterson 3 4 -1 Eh.
Black 2.5 1 1.5 Less of an issue, I guess.
Roh 3.5 2 1.5 Basically one nice play and then not much.
TOTAL 24.5 21 3.5 This is very very bad, especially because the pressure metric is –10 on 15 throws. The DL did virtually nothing.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 2 5 -3 A couple minuses in coverage. Wasn't a huge problem on the ground.
Mouton 19 11 8 Made a lot of very tough plays. Blew some others but I thought he had an excellent day amongst a sea of bleah.
C. Gordon - 4.5 -4.5 Not involved much and didn't do well when he was.
T. Gordon - - - DNP
Johnson - 2 -2 Error on a down G was painful.
Leach - - - DNP
Moundros - - - DNP
Demens 6.5 6 0.5 Variety of half points, a couple of instances where he got cut like whoah.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald - 5.5 -5.5 Reason he's behind Ezeh.
TOTAL 27.5 33.5 -6 Nevermind about the linebackers when they don't have to defend passes.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd - - - DNP
Rogers 4 1 3 INT machine
Kovacs 3.5 6 -2.5 Did not tackle well.
Talbott - - - Not involved on his few plays.
Christian - - - DNP.
Avery 2.5 3 -0.5 Maybe should have been harsher on him in overhang mode.
Ray Vinopal - 3 -3 Questionable deployment.
TOTAL 9 13 -4 Also not so good.
Pressure 3 13 -10 Owned.
Coverage 10 12 -2 Scrambles made even the good coverage bad plays.
Tackling 2 10 -8 Pwned.
RPS 4 7 -3 Right.

[RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]

Note that the "Pressure" metric was developed to get a sense for how the defensive line is doing at getting to the QB and most of the responsibility for making it not –10 in 15 throws is on the DL, so that vaguely positive number above should be taken in context. Also the system has traditionally slanted towards the DL and coming out even as a DE is not a good day.

So that's comprehensive.

Yes, it is. What is there to say?

Isn't it my job to ask questions?

What would you like to know?

Is this a reference to "questions" from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

Are you suggesting that I am emphasizing the foolish pointlessness of this exercise?

Why, God, why?

You win. Seriously, folks, I'd like to have something new and interesting to say about the defense at this juncture but I don't. I don't really understand what the defense is supposed to be doing, the players can't execute in any case, and the whole thing is such a shambles it's hard to figure out who did something bad on most plays. Like… I can tell what goes wrong here:

Demens doesn't react fast enough to the crossing route to tackle it. Okay, fine, that's tough and it happens to defenses all the time. Good conversion, six yards, okay. Fumble tacked on the end is a bonus for the D but fundamentally they got beat and I know why.


Okay, Will Heininger misses a tackle and takes a bad angle, but even if he tackles it's like five to eight yards. Mouton's all jetting up into the play and Kovacs is slow and I could say that but I saw Wisconsin succeed on this play in five different ways. I'm not really sure what they're trying to do or why it's not working.


Mouton was doing valiant work most of the day. Martin had the best day other than him.


Everyone else.

What does it mean for Ohio State?

Super fun times.

Midseason Re-Eval: Secondary

Midseason Re-Eval: Secondary

Submitted by Brian on October 20th, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Taking stock during the bye week.


People thought I was depressive when the secondary preview started "what's the point of anything?"


WHO'S DEPRESSIVE NOW!?!?! YEAHHHHH. Score one for cold-eyed realism. This could be the worst secondary in a BCS conference. It's definitely the worst in Michigan history.

Anyway, cornerback got a 1 and I thought about breaking the rules to go lower:

Nothing has ever gotten a zero before even jokingly, not even the 2008 offensive line that consisted of seven guys who could plausibly play and actually started a defensive tackle who had been switched in the middle of fall camp. But I thought about it here. What Michigan has to offer at corner is going to be substandard unless a great miracle falls from the sky, and will probably be no better than last year's fare even before Woolfolk moved.

Some vague hopes were offered for JT Floyd despite his ugly, brief tenure as the starter opposite Donovan Warren once Boubacar Cissoko went ham. These were based on constant positive reinforcement from the coaches and the occasional mysterious practice observer, with the latter given more credence because they didn't have an obvious ulterior motive. "Average" was the "best anyone could hope for," though.

Opposite Floyd I took a wild guess that Cullen Christian would end up starting—if not immediately by the time the Big Ten season hit—because he was the most highly-touted recruit and was not James Rogers. Avery and Talbott were regarded as basically identical recruits who needed a year and 20 pounds before seeing the field. They wouldn't be allowed that luxury.

At safety 2 was offered, "generously." Jordan Kovacs was said to be totally incapable of playing a deep half but "pretty good as a tiny linebacker." In sum:

So Kovacs is going to have to cover a deep half sometimes. This won't go very well, and Michigan's defense will be limited by it. On the other hand, the run defense shouldn't be nearly as bad with Kovacs filling the weakside alley; last year he racked up 75 tackles despite the late start. Marvin Robinson will press Kovacs for his job, but probably not take it. Iowa and Wisconsin have gotten away with players like him for years.

At free safety, Cam Gordon was named the Grady Brooks memorial King of Spring Hype. The usual accolades were relayed, the thing about how he should probably be a linebacker mentioned, and a projection of a sort offered:

As a redshirt freshman, a "big year" would be wrapping up his tackles and not letting anyone behind him for crippling long touchdowns. … Repeating [Brandon Englemon's] +0.7 per game would go a very long way towards bringing Michigan's defense back from the dead. That's optimistic. Cam Gordon will chase more than a couple opponents into the endzone. But not on third and twenty-four.

Fast forward to NOW!


nothing really matters… anyone can see… that nothing really matters to meeeeeeeeeee

Depressingly accurate overall even considering the original depression that was depressing. Michigan is 118th in pass defense and 94th in efficiency.

Maybe the corners have been slightly less atrocious than expected, but Michigan's been limited when they try to play man coverage because things like Iowa's last touchdown happen when they do. On that play, Michigan sent the house and JT Floyd gave up a slant despite starting with inside leverage. They make plays on occasion, but lord they're not good. Michigan's defense is limited in the same way their offense was in 2008—with deficiencies that severe man coverage is a dangerous gamble every time it's deployed.

Floyd is significantly improved, so there's that. He's still below average. He's not a total liability. On the other side, Michigan hasn't been able to displace Rogers despite his tendency to go into anaphylactic shock whenever he comes within five yards of an opponent wide receiver…



…because the freshmen have been playing like typical three-star true freshmen: badly. They first started rotating into the lineup against BG; since then

  • Cullen Christian was burned twice against BG and gave up an easy long touchdown against Michigan State,
  • Terrence Talbott was primarily responsible for turning third and fifteen into first and ten on Michigan State's second touchdown drive and gave Indiana their last touchdown by dragging out of his zone, and
  • Courtney Avery was personally responsible for large chunks of Indiana yards, gave up a touchdown on third and ten against Iowa by dragging out of his zone, and turned what should have been another third and ten stop into a whiffed tackle, 20 yards, and the field goal that was the final nail in Michigan's coffin.

This is disappointing, especially Christian's failure to beat out not only Rogers but apparently his classmates. Talbott and Avery feature in the nickel and dime packages while Christian backed up the outside guy; he has apparently lost that job. too—Avery came in against Iowa when JT Floyd missed a few plays.

At safety, Kovacs has been Kovacs. He's small, he's not very fast, but he's probably the team's best tackler and he's been in the right spot more often than anyone on the defense. This has resulted in a bunch of UFRs where he's got several half-points in each direction and comes out at zero. He could be the fifth-best player on a good defense.

Cam Gordon has been rough, honestly little better than the mess Michigan threw out last year. He racked up a double-digit negative day against Notre Dame and followed that up with another one against Michigan State. His angles have been too aggressive or too conservative with little porridge in-between, and he's failed to shake a nasty habit of not wrapping up his tackles. He's pretty good running downhill, and that's about it. Preseason hype has given way to cold reality. Gordon is a redshirt freshman converted wide receiver who should probably be playing linebacker. He plays safety like he's a bowling ball: he goes fast in one direction and hopes to knock over the pins with momentum because he has no arms.


Fast forward to LATER!

What can we expect the rest of the year? Pain, but less of it.

Rodriguez made an offhand comment about maybe moving someone from one safety spot to another when discussing the possibility of a Will Campbell move, but that would either be Jordan Kovacs or Marvin Robinson. Kovacs's tenure at deep safety last year was hardly less disastrous than that of Mike William or Gordon; Marvin Robinson is yet another freshman who is likely to make the same sorts of mistakes.

Gordon's it unless Michigan wants to turn to true freshman two-star Ray Vinopal, who picked off a pass from a third-string Bowling Green walk-on and has therefore made the best play by a Michigan safety in the last ten years. I'm not sure if that's a joke.

Floyd's not very good, Rogers is what he is at this point, and the freshmen are clearly not instant impact types, except insofar as they give up an extra touchdown per game than a Michigan secondary featuring Troy Woolfolk. That is an impact, just not the one you're hoping for.

Your best hopes the rest of the year:

  • Courtney Avery learns WTF a zone is and how to play it.
  • Cam Gordon's angles and tackling improve marginally.
  • JT Floyd progresses towards average and at least gets basic things right.

Actually, your best hope is this: Michigan did okay against the two rookies and/or flat bad quarterbacks they've faced to date. Zack Fraser didn't do anything. ND's three-headed QB was contained. Bowling Green couldn't do much of anything. Michigan's next three opponents all feature freshmen at QB; they're ranked 104th (PSU), 105th (Illinois), and 107th (Purdue) in passing efficiency. They're bound to be less effective than the last three guys, a senior returning starter, junior returning starter, and senior returning starter who are all in the top 30 in passer efficiency. Tolzien will shred, but who knows what Terrelle Pryor will do? (Probably shred, actually—he has no problems against awful Ds this year.)

By the end of the year Michigan's numbers will be slightly less grim as the schedule eases and the freshmen learn WTF a zone is. They will still be grim.

The Woolfolk Hangover, or: Bohemian Crapsody

The Woolfolk Hangover, or: Bohemian Crapsody

Submitted by Brian on August 18th, 2010 at 11:59 AM

















Indiana's Darius Willis runs 90 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.        Photos are of the University of Michigan vs. Indiana University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, September 26, 2009.  (The Detroit News / David Guralnick)












Laval Lost

Laval Lost

Submitted by Brian on July 1st, 2010 at 2:59 PM


photo via Jason McMann

In isolation, Laval Lucas-Perry's exit from the basketball program is not a big deal. Last year his offensive rating and effective field goal percentages checked in lower than notable bricklayer Stu Douglass. For perspective, this is what Douglass managed in 2010:

Stu Douglass … had an eFG of 42.7 and an offensive rating of 93.9 with a 15% usage rate. If Stu Douglass was a team, he would be Southern, a 5-25 SWAC team with the same overall eFG%. And those guys have to average 20% usage.

Being less efficient on offense than a guy who is in turn less efficient than a 5-25 SWAC team is quite a trick, and not one that indicates fans are going to spend draft night two years hence punching the wall because you went in the lottery. As departures go, LLP's is more Kelvin Grady than Ekpe Udoh.

Unfortunately, that attempt to dismiss the impact of the departure overlooks one key item: this basketball team actually needed Kelvin Grady. I keep on this like a broken record, but the team's best three-point shooter in 2009 other than the departed CJ Lee was none other than Grady. Whatever deficiencies he had as a player probably wouldn't have kept him off the floor in a year when no one could dribble or find the backboard in three tries. Next year, the basketball program will need Lucas-Perry and won't have him. It would be nice if Michigan's program was the sort that could sustain the loss of a guy like LLP without blinking. It's not.

So LLP's exit does not come in isolation. It comes in the midst of this:

Last year’s off-season was the epitome of stability and optimism. I spent the summer blogging about which national reporter had Michigan in his preseason top 15 and how Michigan was hot on the heels on Casey Prather and Trey Zeigler. This summer is the polar opposite — the news continues to revolve around a mass exodus of bodies out of Ann Arbor. One early entry. Three assistant coaching departures. One dismissal. Just four returning players who have played in a collegiate game.

Add in the crippling transfer of a player already on campus that leaves one position shockingly bereft of experience and talent plus an early entry into a draft that has no interest in the entrant and the basketball program is acquiring a distinct whiff of whatever horrible thing has plagued the football team since Rich Rodriguez took the job. We went into 2009 hoping the football program would mirror the basketball program; we go into 2010 fearing the reverse. Beilein tossed Rodriguez a rope and started pulling him out of the quicksand only to find himself waist-deep in turnover, facing down an almost assuredly lost year spent trying to get a bunch of underclassmen to stop running into each other.

UMHoops calls the above an "ominous sign" and it's hard to disagree. Momentum may be a hugely overrated concept when it comes to individual games, but on a program level it's not. Michigan had an opportunity to establish itself an up-and-coming program last year only to totally blow it on and off the field. Now instead of enduring an understandable bump in the road as the last of the Amaker players give way to Beilein's recruits, the bump is the anomalous NCAA year that establishes nothing. It's a dead cat bounce. Now we've got as much kick as Penn State does over the last decade. Hoorah.

I've previously said that I think Beilein's going to get a fifth year no matter what happens in 2010 and that year six probably requires no more than an upward trajectory from whatever filthy pile of used needles the team spends next offseason in. The dismissal of one role player doesn't change that, but it does add to the pile of foreboding tidings surrounding the team and how likely it ever is to get off the mat and become consistently decent. That was Beilein's promise: consistently decent or better.

If it's hard to see that happening at the moment, it's equally hard to see how a Michigan administration is going to find anyone more likely to pull that off. They aren't going to hire a coach with the tiniest hint of skeeze. Trying to be a basketball power without skeeze when you're an hour an a half away from school with the country's best performance-to-skeeze ratio is almost impossible. And firing the head of the NCAA's basketball ethics committee a couple years after self-administering a stern talking-to for the first time in the history of your football program is going to be a bridge too far for the administration unless they have no other choice. Beilein will be handed every opportunity to get things moving in the right direction.

You can put together a scenario where Smotrycz is Pittsnogle II and Hardaway is a diamond in the rough and a roster pushing 6'6" average height is a tough nut to crack defensively and there's an NIT bid next year and an NCAA bid in 2011 and Brundidge comes in and is Rodney Stuckey and etc etc etc. You'd have to be a little daft to expect it, though. Michigan basketball looks to be stuck in this amazing limbo where there's little expectation of success for the next three years and little recourse despite that.

But have I mentioned Carl Hagelin?

Carl Hagelin of the Michigan Hockey Team plays against Western Michigan University at the Yost Ice Arena on Friday November 14th. Michigan lost the game 2-1. (SAID ALSALAH /Daily) 

Bork? Bork.

The Sea Wants To Take Me

The Sea Wants To Take Me

Submitted by Brian on November 16th, 2009 at 11:14 AM

11/14/2009 – Michigan 24, Wisconsin 45 – 5-6, 1-6 Big Ten

henri-the-otter-of-ennuHenri says post away

Well, I finally broke: I've checked out emotionally. This happened last year, too, and the game columns from the on were pleas for something else to do and grim, brief recaps of the latest indignity. It's progress of a sort that it took eleven games for the team to TKO any interest in what might happen the rest of this year, but it's not a fun sort of progress.

A serious thematic analysis of the Wisconsin game is pointless. Michigan's defense is exactly as horrifying as it's been all year. Everyone wants to fight each other in the liveblog. When the MGoPosse assembled to record this week's podcast, Paul said "at least we didn't muff a punt" and I responded "they didn't punt." (It turns out they did punt once in the first half, and Junior Hemingway misjudged a short one, almost fumbling it.)

Today I'll go on the radio and say the exact same things I've been saying all season to people who say the exact same things they've been saying all season. Here I could either repeat the assertion that firing Rodriguez after two years is idiotic or the description of what this season turned into in the third quarter of the Illinois game. Nothing has changed, and there's nothing to say when the team is turning in uncompetitive loss after uncompetitive loss.

There is an increased chance that sometime today I will read or hear something that cause my entire body to crumple and my head to thump audibly on the desk. So I guess that's different. Not different: for the second straight year the Ohio State week is only welcome because after it there won't be this unpleasant thing that happens every Saturday. The Notre Dame game seems like another decade.


  • Surprised that Mouton and Ezeh got the whole game after their backups played at least as well as they did against Purdue. I guess there were huge busts by both Fitzgerald and Leach, but… um… right.
  • Seriously: after Wisconsin completed their sixth or seventh big gain over the middle because Ezeh and Mouton were hugely out of position on zone drops, I was begging for the backups. No dice. The prospect of starting these guys next year is not fun.
  • I'm betting the adjustment Wisconsin made to their running game was to start doubling defensive linemen for real and leaving the linebackers to their own devices, or down-blocking them on their slants and getting outside where the linebackers are on their own. Michigan was shooting into the backfield a ton early.
  • Poor Brandon Graham: if Michigan would just cover anyone for two seconds he would have an incredible number of sacks this year. It wasn't Graham who had the most frustrating non-sack on Saturday, though. Stevie Brown came free up the middle on a third and five in the third quarter and Tolzien nailed a wide open tight end for a first down. That turned into the drive Wisconsin used to go up three scores, salting the game away.
  • Vincent Smith is now your tentative leader for the starting tailback job next year, though that title figures to be a ceremonial one in a sea of options. I know Shaw's had the occasional nagging injury but I think he's just beat him out, fair and square. My favorite play from Smith was the screen he took past three or four defenders in the first half. He was one desperate hand-wave by a Wisconsin safety away from a touchdown a long run that looks like it should be touchdown but disappointingly ends short of it. He's got skills. There was one out that was incomplete that anyone else on the team would have caught by virtue of being bigger than a marmot, though.
  • Brandon Smith seemed pretty mediocre on the edge. I know he didn't make any of the huge, obvious mistakes that Mike Williams did, but Wisconsin isn't the sort of team that puts you in the backfield unblocked to make a huge, obvious mistake. I bet a lot of the outside running Wisconsin did will be on Smith somehow.
  • I did think Wisconsin was the grabbiest line Michigan's played against all year. Wisconsin's first drive saw Graham held twice on long completions, and while they got a number of calls later they just love getting their hands outside the shoulder pads. Default disclaimer whenever officiating as mentioned: would not have changed outcome of the game, would merely have led to more second-and-twenty conversions. Maybe I should thank the refs for mitigating the damage I would have done to my forehead and the sidewalk if I watched another guy wide open over the middle.