Neck Sharpies: The Beef Spread Offense

Neck Sharpies: The Beef Spread Offense

Submitted by Seth on August 29th, 2017 at 8:05 AM



[QUICK HURRICANE HARVEY NOTE: Major ongoing natural disasters are usually beyond our scope, but Houston has become an all-hands-on-deck situation. MGoStaff writer Alex Cook is still holed up in his apartment and has assured us he is safe. Close friend of the site Jane Coaston has family there. Over 3,000 readers are in it too.

The charities out there to deal with such things are blowing through everything they’ve got. If you’d like to help, some good charities are All Hands (they train & equip volunteers), the American Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse (Christian, International), Food banks (that’s a list from the Houston Press), Americares (provide medicine and basic supplies), SBP (ongoing recovery volunteering) the Houston SPCA (animal rescue—bc evacuation centers don’t let people bring their pets), and NECHAMA (Jewish flood response organization I volunteered with when Dearborn and Oak Park were inundated a few years ago).

If you’d like to go down there and help the Red Cross and others above are taking on-the-ground volunteers. I can’t think of a better way to justify making that Dallas game after all.]


a preview

They say football is a game of inches. But in football physics space and time amount to the same thing. The inches between a tackle and a broken one, or momentum vs time for the defense to rally, are the real difference-makers. All of that scheming, development, recruiting, and training is about finding those inch-seconds. And we’ve been telling you all offseason that we think the way Michigan plans to do that is to play with some gigantic dudes who will push you off the ball, and spread ‘em out.

Maybe we should explain why.

[after the jump]

The Lesser of Two Weevils

The Lesser of Two Weevils

Submitted by Seth on June 10th, 2015 at 4:45 PM

What is the difference between this run:

…and this run:


If you guessed "the one Harbaugh/Drevno were coaching got yards and the one from Hoke/Borges didn't" you win a running theme of the 2015 offseason. The results are certainly stark; why that's true is what we're interested in.

The Power Play

These are both the same play by the offense, and the same play Brady Hoke promised to make into Michigan's base because it is the manliest of plays. It is Power-O, the one where you pull the backside guard and try to run between the tackles.


You can click for biggers

The play is relatively simple to draw up and complex to execute because it uses a lot of the things zone blocking does, including having the blocking and back react to what the defense does. For all the "manball" talk this isn't ISO, where you slam into each other quickly. Depending on how the coach wants to play it and what defensive alignment you see, the basic gist is to get a double or scoop of the playside DT and kick out the playside DE, then have an avalanche of bodies pour into that hole—if the defense is leaping into that gap you adjust by trying a different hole further outside. Leaving two blockers to seal off the backside, one blocker, usually the backside guard, pulls and becomes the lead blocker—it's up to him to adjust to what he sees when he arrives.

You can run this out of different formations with different personnel, and the one immediately apparent difference in the above diagrams is Michigan was more spread—a flanker (Z) is out on the opposite numbers and the strongside is to the boundary; after the motion this is an "Ace Twins". Stanford ran this with a heavy "22-I" formation, meaning two backs (RB and FB) and two tight ends (Y and H) in an I-form. The benefit Michigan gets from its formation is the guy Stanford would have to block with its fullback Michigan has removed from the play entirely by forcing him to cover the opposite sideline.

What Stanford gets in return for its fullback is matchup problems: the open side of the field is going to be two tight ends and a fullback versus two safeties and a cornerback. Run or pass that can go badly for the defense as these size mismatches turn into lithe safeties eating low-centered fullbacks, and dainty corners on manbeast TEs.

In War of 1812 terms, Michigan is the Americans, sending the fast-sailing frigate Essex in the Pacific so the enemy has to move ships to the Galapagos instead of harassing the Carolinas. Stanford is the British, parking 74-guns ships of the line where engaging them cannot be avoided and trusting the outcome of any forced engagement should turn in their favor. The point is both work to the advantages and disadvantages of the talent on hand. (In this analogy Borges is a guy trying to use Horatio Nelson tactics with a Navy of sloops and brigs).

That being said, it still works as well as anything—people did in fact score points before the spread, and those who scored a lot of them could do so by keeping defenses off balance and with good execution. As we'll see both of those factors played a big role.

[after the jump]

Dear Diary Would Take Russell

Dear Diary Would Take Russell

Submitted by Seth on April 10th, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Via WD, every snap of Jake Rudock vs. Michigan. It is quite unimpressive, though I remind you it was debilitatingly cold and windy for the 2013 Crimes Against Manpanda Redux game, and he was a sophomore. There were three long plays in there. The first Kevonte Martin-Manley was WIIIIIDE open and Rudock's pass floated in (against the wind) slowly and inaccurately so KMM had to step immediately out of bounds. The second his receiver made a great play while double covered. The third was the one Avery and C.Gordon botched extraordinarily. The last throw on there was his best.

UPDATE: There's also an every pass vs Wisconsin.

To answer the guy in the thread, yes that is the game that inspired our most depressing shirt ever. My original shirt idea in the discussion that became that shirt was "Fuck it man, let's go bowling".

Transfers are Only Rare in Peace Time. As I partially experienced when they tried to tell me regular courses at La Sorbonne weren't French enough to count as foreign language*, transferring credits to Michigan is a bitch.

Transfer to Michigan for Victory! We're for winning the war too!

Local community colleges like WCC or OCC have transferred often enough that they've smoothed this over, but random Division I schools are at best a crap shoot, and JCs for guys Saban couldn't get through Alabama admissions are right out.

For that reason more than its coaches' tastes (Rodriguez and Hoke both recruited plenty of JuCos before coming here), Michigan has taken extraordinarily few transfers over the years.

With five (Isaac, Lyons, O'Korn, Rudock, O'Neill) projected to be at Michigan this fall, Wolverine Devotee tracked down every transfer he could.

The short transfer list underscores the difficulty with admissions. In the last 30 years the only Michigan transfers not from like academic institutions (Stanford, USC, Georgia Tech, SDSU and Notre Dame), were freshmen from decent Ohio schools (Goodwin and Nienberg), one guy who was at Michigan previously (Evans), one guy from a local academic CC that sends a lot of students to Ann Arbor, and Russell Shaw, who is the lone exception to every conversation ever had about Michigan JCs and transfers.

It also has a bulge in the mid-1940s, when Michigan went all-in on active duty programs. Most notably the university created an intensive Japanese language school that took over East Quad, and was the wartime home of the national JAG program, which we housed in the Law Quad. Michigan gamely used these and the regular training school to siphon talent away from rivals in every sport. That's how we got Crazy Legs Hirsch out of Wisconsin, and Howard Yerges and J.T. White from Ohio State. Iowa Pre-Flight became a quasi-Big Ten team in the era by convincing stars from the region to enlist in the Air Corps.

Via the board there might be two more grad transfers en route before fall. Why is Michigan taking so many guys now (other than new coaches in non-Michigan places always bring in guys they recruited elsewhere to fill gaps?) Well one is grad transfers are a relatively recent phenomenon and are more like a normal admissions process for those schools.

For the rest, my best guess is during The Happening, Michigan had asked Harbaugh what ducks they need to be in what order, and one of his requests was admissions won't jerk him around. This happened at Stanford; in fact the school refusing to accept January enrollments cost him both RGIII and 2015 Heisman candidate Taysom Hill. This is just a wild theory, but "You could eff up our shot at Harbaugh" is probably one of the only football arguments you could ever make to admissions that they'd care about.

There is at least one transfer whom WD missed: 1997 co-captain Eric Mayes, who went to Xavier then transferred to Michigan and walked on, according to a certain co-worker of mine who's probably not ecstatic about me just pointing you to his old blogspot.

* (We acknowledge you read Voltaire in the original, but you weren't doing it to learn French!)

[Jump for Cazzie and a surprising stop in Brady Hoke's Offensive Vision Quest]

Unverified Voracity Smells A Phone

Unverified Voracity Smells A Phone

Submitted by Brian on February 27th, 2015 at 11:28 AM

HELLO. I am back. I was blank yesterday after being in a car for like 14 hours, but here are some links to other things.


According to Wikipedia, I have been to the place where this was conceived.

Things I learned in Iowa. A sampling.

  1. Iowa is not as flat as Nebraska
  2. …but it's close
  3. …and it's really surprisingly large when you have to drive from one corner to the other
  4. Do not smell a pig farmer's phone
  5. …especially if he's presenting it you to like the natives might present Dr. Livingstone an eyeball to consume
  6. …even if he looks stunningly like Dr. Drew
  7. David Foster Wallace was not joking about the omnipresence of the howling mid-American gale that scours pockets from your face when there are shards of ice to fling at you
  8. …this does at least keep the roads clear
  9. You can be relieved and grateful to see a Subway

This is maybe not enough things to justify the time spent but needs must.

Here are all these things and then a school that's like NOPE. As Ace covered this morning, there's another uniform hijink in the near future. (Can hijinks be singular?) The basketball uniforms aren't iconic like football, so the proportional outrage is lower. I'm still bugged by the fact that Adidas is coming up with one design element and applying it to everyone because they want to advertise themselves, with no thought to how they could help Michigan out.

Yeah yeah

Michigan did draw the line at Adidas's Zubaz monstrosities a few years back, so at least there's that.

Still, I'm jealous that Indiana's the uniform in the center going NOPE here:

"We have seen your ideas and find them lacking." –university that employs Tom Crean.

I wish we had the desire to do that. And the desire to go back to the 1989 throwbacks permanently.


"These throwbacks appear to be jerseys Michigan actually used to wear. They just don't get it, do they?" –The Brandon formerly known as athletic director

A seven footer! 2016 C commit Jon Teske was supposed to be growing constantly, as high school people tend to do, and now he's broken through a symbolic threshold:

Jon Teske has grown 1 inch since verbally committing to play basketball at Michigan back in early August.

This would be trivial if not for one fact: When Teske enrolls in 2016, he will officially be U-M's first 7-foot player since Ben Cronin, the first recruit coach John Beilein signed when he arrived in Ann Arbor eight years ago.

Teske is reportedly a shot blocker, something Michigan hasn't had since Beilein arrived.

Other than adding strength and bulk and improving his quickness in the lane, Teske's defensive skills are already at an elite level. He provides Medina with a safety net on the back line and blocks shots with a combination of a pterodactyl's wingspan and sharp instincts. Most impressively, he does so without fouling.

"The number of shots he changes is just unbelievable," Hassinger said. "That's what Michigan will get out of him -- he's such a good rim-protector. ... We can do so much defensively because he just rules the paint."

Yes, please.

Would you go so far as to say he is also strategic? Jedd Fisch gets in on the Jameis Winston praise pile:

Sounds like a man to play Battletech with. Meanwhile, another quote on Harbaugh from Petty:

"Outstanding guy," Petty said. "Just a football dude. That's the best way I can describe it. He just gave us a lot of advice about what to expect here (at the combine), about how to handle everything, especially going in as a rookie into a camp and what he expects as a coach in that scenario, things like that.

"We were tickled to death, anytime you get a chance to meet and talk to a guy who has been in it for four years and had a lot of success in it."

Harbaugh is definitely a Football Dude, as anyone who has watched that QB clinic video and giggled about knuckle placement knows.

Marketing back in the day. Gary Moeller repeats "keeps ticket prices down" three times in about 30 seconds at the end of this clip about marketing from a 1991 edition of Michigan Replay:

The word "brand" does not make an appearance.

We like this better because it doesn't work as well. It's that time of year when NFL guys ding spread QBs because their offenses provide too many open receivers to judge whether the guy can fit it in tight windows:

I think the NFL guy was saying that tight windows are an inevitability in the league rather than pro-style is necessarily better. (Or even a concept that really means much other than Our QB Don't Run. New England is basically Texas Tech with a separate LeGarrette Blount offense stapled to it.)

And stay out? CHL teams are making noises like they would withdraw from Washington if their for-profit enterprises with mid five-digit attendances have to give their players anything other than a per diem and the vague promise of an education package maybe a sixth of them will use:

Silvertips GM Garry Davidson was clearly singing from the same songbook when he told legislators if the state did not exempt the teams from minimum wage laws, “it could negatively impact our ability to operate and would force us to move or not operate in the state.”It’s an age-old tactic used by sports teams and it’s age-old because it so often works. Build us a new arena or we’ll go to a place where they’ll happily build one for us. Give us tax breaks and concessions or we’ll have to pick up our ball and go somewhere else. And in this case, grant us an exemption from laws governing the basic human right to minimum wage or we’ll take our teenagers and have them entertain hockey fans somewhere else.

Oh really? Considering the Everett Silvertips (4,898 average fans per game), Spokane Chiefs (5,570), Seattle Thunderbirds (4,353) and Tri-City Americans (3,976) are attracting decent home crowds, it’s safe to assume the revenue they’re drawing from their regular season gate alone is robust. Probably multi-millions.

A CHL departure from Washington is about as likely as the Big Ten re-implementing freshman eligibility. There aren't enough markets in BC and Alberta that aren't already covered. Meanwhile on the other side of the continent, a QMJHL team just sold for 25 million dollars.

Silver lining: it turns out there is in fact a sports organization that can make the NCAA look good.

Obligatory. Ohio State has a five star recruit incoming.

This is man with a good super power. Michigan Hockey Now pings commit Nick Pastujov about various personal things. He has never gone to a concert, he likes the World Cup, he envisions having a hilarious dinner with Bill Gates, Steve Carrell, and Bob Marley, and he has a very practical approach to super powers: "could do anything." That just about covers it, I'd think.

Etc.: Kentucky fans are terrified of Northwestern.

Mailbag: QB Fight, Recruiting Worries, Dymonte Thomas Spot, Sloxen

Mailbag: QB Fight, Recruiting Worries, Dymonte Thomas Spot, Sloxen

Submitted by Brian on January 27th, 2015 at 3:10 PM


Gentry vs Malzone: FIGHT

Quarterback recruiting policies.

I know that Harbaugh has every right to recruit his own personnel, but considering that Malzone is already on campus, did he just get royally screwed? If he never suits up, can he transfer without having to sit out?


The idea that a quarterback would be screwed over by the addition of another guy at his position in the same class is Hoke-era thinking that should be quickly discarded. Wilton Speight doesn't seem to mind:

sent in the immediate aftermath of Gentry's commit

Every other position sees fierce battles; QB should be no different. And even if Malzone is put off by the idea of sharing a spot in the class with Gentry, I think that's more than offset by the idea of getting coached by Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch.

FWIW, Malzone could transfer after his first semester at Michigan. He would have to redshirt and then would be a redshirt freshman wherever he ended up, as Steven Threet was when he fled Paul Johnson's triple option system at Georgia Tech.

The more likely exit scenario for the quarterbacks who find themselves down the depth chart in the midst of cutthroat competition is to get a degree in three years and then transfer with two years to play two. An increasing number of elite QB recruits are throwing themselves in grinders like Michigan's with that idea in their back pocket. If Michigan is going to take two QBs a year that should be part of the pitch: the least you leave here with is a Michigan degree and three years of kickass coaching. Malzone has a head start on that with his early enrollment.

By the way, with reports that elite CA QB KJ Costello is heavily interested in Michigan, this could be the respective first two QB recruiting years of Hoke and Harbaugh:

  • Hoke: Russell Bellomy.
  • Harbaugh: Malzone, Gentry, DeWeaver, Costello.

That's one three star previously committed to Purdue versus what is probably four four-star recruits. (Hoke did recruit Malzone but Malzone is a block-M true believer who stuck with his plan to enroll early despite Michigan not having a coach at that juncture.) One of the major reasons the Hoke list is so short is that in deference to Shane Morris they didn't take another quarterback in his year… or the year in front of him. That was a disastrous decision. Let's not do that any more.

Harbaugh won't: at Stanford he took an average of two QBs a year.

Two stars bad. More stars good.

There are only a couple guys on the board who fit that description: recent OH OL commit Nolan Ulizio and as-yet-unoffered FL CB Markel Bush. Everyone else is at least a three star and—unlike many of the transitional Hoke recruits—courted by or committed to high level BCS schools. (Hoke got decommits from Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Minnesota; Harbaugh has flipped guys from Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.) So Harbaugh is already doing well.

As for the two stars, Bush is clearly a backup plan in case they don't get two of the four guys they've offered (Iman Marshall, Will Lockett, Damon Arnette, and Jarius Adams). Ulizio is an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen are less likely to fulfill recruiting expectations than any other position, and as you say Michigan had opportunities to look at other, more highly-rated guys. They passed. Is that a concern?

Five different Stanford linemen were first team All Pac 10 players during Harbaugh's tenure at Stanford; all five were three stars. Harbaugh and Drevno could recruit Pokemon and I'd be okay with it.

Oh, and…


…let's cool it on the judgy bits just yet.

[After THE JUMP: Marrow, length of tenure, Dymonte Thomas, sloxen, Gary Danielson email]

Hokepoints Seeks Hope in Hazell

Hokepoints Seeks Hope in Hazell

Submitted by Seth on October 21st, 2014 at 12:35 PM

I know Hoke said they spent the bye week on Michigan's "identity," by which we're pretty sure he meant scrapping any semblance of sense again in favor of slamming fullbacks into people and praying for the turnover fairy to stop hating us. But for those people actually interested in how to defeat Michigan State's lauded/loathed defense, it appears to be vulnerable when you spread 'em out and test them deep.

Quarters redux

You should remember how their thing works. The defensive backs read the inside (#2) receiver; if that guy goes vertical the DBs play cover 4; if that guy goes horizontal they play Cover 2.


Red: #2 receiver goes vertical. Blue: #2 receiver doesn't go vertical

With that many guys reading, the defense can play "9 in the box," by which they mean the safeties are part of the run fits. Their run D is gap-oriented.


Just an example. They change up who's got what

Note that screens and such are treated as runs.

[After the jump: tripping them up.]

Dear Diary Eats Lemons

Dear Diary Eats Lemons

Submitted by Seth on September 5th, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Morris Splode

Morris's cannon, by me.

Before getting into last week's game, Best and Worst this week spent about 1,000 words on exorcising demons, spinning a tale of Michigan's decline with the rise of offense based on athletes in space. Once the 2014 ASU game was in hand, it occurred to me that this is where Michigan ought to have been 7 years ago. By 2007 the college football world had witnessed the spread's effectiveness in all its forms, and had time to adjust their schemes, recruit for it, and develop those recruits. The prep sites already identified dual-threat and pro-style quarterbacks separately, and the nationally #1 2008 recruit was absolutely the former.

One part of The Horror story is that Opening Day of 2007 was Michigan's first after switching to zone blocking. [Correction: I have been going around remembering this wrong for years. M went zone in 2006.] Our metrics for evaluating that weren't as good back then, but from memory the blocking that day was about on par with last Saturday's—a work in progress with some obvious successes—except the unit was 20% more senior Jake Long. The biggest difference in the two game plans is once 2007 App State began cheating to stop zone left, DeBord never punished them for it by taking the easy WR screen-type yards. On Saturday, Nussmeier absolutely did, and while that certainly wasn't 2007 Appalachian State out there, it wasn't so hard to imagine if it had been.

Which brings me to the above gif, a sort of preview of things to come in 2015. It was indeed a rollout from a two-TE formation that required a quarterback to make a play that required amazing awareness, footwork and arm strength, but not running speed. It seems the armistice between spread zealots and the MANBALLers will be this: the 2007 offense except with sensible constraints, the 2007 defense except with five times as many functional LBs and DBs, and the 2007 outcomes except we won't lose to teams with a major talent disadvantage. So long as it's successful there will be peace, and so long as the players do amazing things they will be gif'd. Both sides of the fanbase have decided we'd rather eat some lemons that go through bad ideas and bad fits any more.

This is COrrEct. From Inside the Box Score:

I Attended the Beth MOOOwins school of jOUrnalism this sUmmer. According to Beth, the key to doing play-by-play is to randomly Over-anunciate your vOwels. That's the key to doing a Beth MOwins imitAYtion. Just blAst the occAsional vOwel at mAx vOlume. Especially the O's, she loves her O's.

I tend to imagine ESPN has some kid sitting behind Mowins in the booth and the kid is kicking her chair and rocking it back and forth as she talks. In answer to what does Joey Galloway bring to the game: something that's far more annoying than Beth Mowins.

Preach!. Sharik showed that Alabama, whose special teams players might be All-Conference starters already at other schools, was 112th in net punting because they dinosaur. Purdue, who recruits so terribly that Urban Meyer complained it was hurting the conference, was 2nd. [UPDATE: apparently we read that wrong. HT to johnthesavage.]

Etc. Wallpaper. Program on a lanyard. Highs and lows around the B1Garound the B1G.

[After the jump: videos of MGoBlog posters eating lemons]

Hokepoints Has a Running Quarterback

Hokepoints Has a Running Quarterback

Submitted by Seth on May 6th, 2014 at 11:08 AM


read option [Fuller]

I am determined this spring to mine every possible stat for every possible insight. This week I delved into quarterback rushes. Not sacks. I wanted to know which offenses tended to have their quarterbacks take off, or planned runs for them into their game plans.

Baseline: here's Michigan and their opponents last year. Sacks and yardage lost to them are not counted, but I couldn't tell from scrambles and QB sneaks, or stuff like if he took off for 10 yards on 3rd and 15 that defenses are happy to give up:

Season Avg vs Mich
Opponent QB Rush Yards QB Rush Yards
Central Michigan 1.8 8 5 11
Notre Dame 1.5 3 0 0
Akron 4.6 19 3 11
Connecticut 2.5 3 3 -4
Minnesota 14.4 77 18 69
Penn State 2.4 4 2 0
Indiana 8.9 42 10 60
Michigan State 4.5 17 4 1
Nebraska 8.8 35 12 31
Northwestern 10.8 58 24 92
Iowa 5.2 25 5 26
Ohio State 14.7 119 14 165
Kansas State 19.2 97 14 76
NCAA Avg 7.5 40.0 8.8 41.4

Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Kansas State ran option games. Minnesota's offense was QB power running (thing it is like: Michigan's 2010 offense when Rodriguez gave up on trying to make Denard into a zone reader). According to the UFR database Minnesota quarterback running plays vs Michigan were as follows: 7 QB powers; 2 draws; 2 zone read keepers; a false zone arc sweep thing, a QB sneak, and 7 scrambles.

The stats can't tell the difference between this kind of offense and a dedicated Richrodigan spread 'n shred. There aren't many teams who run this as their base offense, as simple as it may be, but a lot of teams have a mobile change-of-pace quarterback and a small package built around him. Notable teams who deployed a second guy:

Player (2014 Elig) Team % of Snaps % Will Pass Rush Pass
Austin Boucher (graduated) Miami(NTM) 51% 73% 80 211
Austin Gearing (So.) 35% 35% 129 70
Drew Kummer (Jr.) 14% 71% 22 55
Nate Sudfeld (Jr.) Indiana 61% 94% 22 338
Tre Roberson (Jr.) 38% 62% 84 139
C.J. Brown (11th year Sr.) Maryland 73% 72% 119 303
Caleb Rowe (Jr.) 26% 91% 14 136
Philip Nelson (transferred) Minnesota 59% 72% 79 200
Mitch Leidner (So.) 38% 51% 89 91
Gary Nova (Sr.) Rutgers 68% 93% 25 328
Chas Dodd (graduated) 32% 87% 21 143
Tommy Armstrong (So.) Nebraska 39% 68% 63 135
Ron Kellogg III (graduated) 31% 90% 16 141
Taylor Martinez (graduated) 30% 77% 34 116
Trevor Siemian (Sr.) Northwestern 63% 92% 29 315
Kain Colter (graduated) 36% 50% 98 99
Braxton Miller (Sr.) Ohio State 72% 65% 150 276
Kenny Guiton (graduated) 25% 74% 39 110

I included Rutgers to show Chas Dodd wasn't a Drew Henson-ian run threat except in comparison to Gary Nova.

[Jump: Okay spread zealots, do teams with running QBs have an advantage?]

Unverified Voracity Has Alligator Stadium

Unverified Voracity Has Alligator Stadium

Submitted by Brian on April 11th, 2014 at 12:58 PM

I wonder where fightin' bird guy is today. North Dakota may want to stop playing Frozen Four semifinals. First you've got the Life As A Vole Hunwick game…


…and then last night a Minnesota defenseman with zero goals on the season scored a shorthander with 0.6 seconds left to knock them out. Seriously.

North Dakota won their consolation game in the league playoffs to push Michigan out of the tournament, which I was mad about but maybe I should thank them because I would be waking up in a dumpster today if that had happened to Michigan. I would not feel well.

Minnesota plays Union for the title tomorrow at 7:30. Go Union, if only to see Mark Emmert's head explode. THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE, MARK.

I mean why would you want to do that. An excellent article on Fox Sports about Derek Mason, former Stanford DC and new guy at Vanderbilt discusses how Mason came to prominence thanks to his ability to adapt to the hurry-up spread offenses that are kind of a big deal when you're in the same division as Oregon. Mason lays out the four things that up tempo does for your offense, and while they're really only three things if you can divide it's a good framework for understand why the spread keeps spreading, Danielson be damned:

1) Defenses get stuck in one call

While defensive coordinators enter a game with a long list of plays, the defenders on the field are often forced to play the same call repeatedly when the ball is being snapped every 14-18 seconds. The middle linebacker often looks to the sideline only to see the defensive signal-caller frantically gesturing to repeat the last call.

2) Defenses don’t get ready in time

Even when defensive players get their play call on time – some defenses will often call two or three plays in advance when facing an up-tempo team – you will often see the defenders unsuccessfully scurrying to get into their proper alignment before the ball is snapped.

3) One-on-one matchups

Tackling a skill player one-on-one in space is one of the most difficult tasks in football. Up-tempo offenses often operate out of a spread scheme that forces defenses to cover the entire width and length of the field, as Mason noted.

4) More snaps per game

I'm not clear on why more snaps are necessarily better, at least insofar as you get more snaps because you're moving faster. More snaps are obviously good because that means you didn't punt; outside of that the only thing I can think of there is that defenders tend to get tired more quickly than offensive players. Substitution patterns certainly indicate that's the case.

I would also add that a high tempo team is more flexible in its approach to the clock: for them slowing it down is a matter of hanging out at the line of scrimmage longer than they usually do. For a team that does not operate in a hurry-up environment, accelerating is considerably more difficult.

Mason's reacted to the above issues by having hybrid players who may not be the best at any one thing but can straddle the line between run support and pass coverage, having simple, quick playcalls, and training their defenders the way Oregon trains offense: relentless pace.

Anyway: Hoke talk about toughness is grating these days because he's content with an offense that doesn't try to make it tough on other people. Toughness is something Michigan has to have because things are being done to them. (It is also grating because Michigan finished dead last in tackles for loss allowed in year three of being a Tough Team that Runs Power.)

Excellent timing. You may find yourself suddenly more interested in this profile of Mark Donnal the Daily published five days ago. He's getting hype; let's hope it pans out.

Donnal’s not sure when exactly it was, just that it came around the middle of the regular season, but he turned a corner. He’d found success against Morgan and Horford enough in practice that he knew he belonged.

“I started to pick up everything, and my game started to come back to me, and I’m getting in the flow of the college game,” Donnal said.

If it wasn’t for the redshirt, Morgan and Horford might have had to worry about their job security.

“He’s becoming a force,” Morgan said. “He’s hard to guard down there in the post, and he’s definitely come a long way.

“Over the past couple months, he’s just become really good. Really dominates, shoots the ball well.”

Donnal is still just 18—he's young, like Caris—and has upside yet to tap.

Brace yourself! Someone at Penn State has been in the photoshop doin' the shrooms.

James Franklin being a great recruiter is a kids these days kind of thing.

At least we're not alone. On the one hand, Ohio State has a real spring game with a player draft and opens practices to students, and this makes me sad because it's clear their athletic department doesn't have quite the contempt for their fans that Michigan's does. On the other, they're not immune from Creating The Future either.

On a third, mutant hand, imagine a version of the Michigan spring game that anyone, dipshit or not, could believe was worth 20 dollars. OSU knocked the price down to 5, apparently. I wonder if there are punting drills.

Okay bro. I'll take this shot from a fan of any program but two:

Here's a hard and round number for you: 10 years. That's how long its been since Michigan has won a Big Ten championship. To locate a gap that pronounced in Michigan's storied and (schadenfreude alert) oppressively self-congratulatory history, you have to hearken back to the pre-Schembechler era.

Those programs are Notre Dame and especially—especially—Penn State, which author Michael Weinreb is a fan of. Until Sandusky blew everything all to hell, Penn State was recruiting kids by noting that they'd never been on probation.


Their mantra of "Success With Honor" implies that most places having success don't have honor. Michigan's is just about winning football games. Penn State was stuck so far up its own butt smelling roses that they allowed the worst thing in the history of college football to happen. You might not want to claim Michigan's history is "oppressively self-congratulatory" in that context.

Ok, bro. Get The Picture finds this assertion in Northwestern's appeal to the national NLRB:

Contrary to the Regional Director’s findings, Northwestern scholarship football student-athletes are not “initially sought out, recruited and ultimately granted scholarships because of their athletic prowess on the football field.”

I would have believed this in the 1980s. Nowadays the only school that can claim that with a straight face is Purdue.

Wow. Bursaspor's new stadium is… it's this.


Orson says he'd trade the Swamp for this as long as the interior was searing orange, and… yeah, you'd have to do it. I await Spencer's longform piece on Turkish soccer with bated breath, and not just because I once pretend-managed a Turkish third-division team to the Champions League title despite Turkey's restrictive rules on foreign soccer players. Also because in Turkey things like this happen:

The club switched names with crosstown club Kayseri Erciyesspor in 2004.

YANKEES: "We're sick of being the Yankees. Would you like to be the Yankees?"
METS: "Jolly good. Here's Mr. Met and a legacy of crippling failure."

Also they have doner kebab. They are probably the origin of doner kebab. Go Turkey.

The usual. Kam Chatman is up to #38 on ESPN's final recruit rankings and draws mention as one of their top risers:

Kameron Chatman, Michigan: He’s a classic late bloomer who has continued to improve at a rapid rate and yet very clearly still has his best basketball in front of him. A highly skilled southpaw with excellent size on the wing, Chatman’s frame has now started to fill out at a much more rapid rate, giving him the versatility not just to splash 3s over contesting defenders but also to diversify his offensive game around the rim. He’s also a deceptively good ball handler and very good passer, all of which will be utilized in Michigan’s offensive system. The bottom line is that it was clear he was still trending up, so he jumped 13 spots.

A palpable fit.

Etc.: I'm here for the sex… ual misconduct investigation. Breaking down the best offenses of the Kenpom era. The 1995 Virginia game on the tubes. Basketball would like to add another quality home game to next year's schedule. Magnus on the spring game. Stapleton on Michigan's sophomores-to-be. The state of Michigan basketball.

Dear Diary is in the Zone

Dear Diary is in the Zone

Submitted by Seth on January 10th, 2014 at 10:51 AM


So we've got ourselves a new offensive coordinator. I guess there's no use hiding that I'm on the more ambivalent end of the spectrum of Michigan fans, but I'm a spread zealot, and I admit another gorram transition is just too painful a prospect right this moment. At the very least it was the kind of PR coup that resets the countdown clock on Hoke's tenure. These days you only get to play the "it was my offensive coordinator's fault" card once per Rose Bowl trip, but this was the right time to do so. I'm probably just a cynic who's been sold a bill of Mariucci over Mornhinwheg to believe in any apparent upgrade. Let's see if the readers can convince me otherwise.

Eye of the TIger tried. He found some quotes by an ex-Bama player on how Inside Zone is repped to insanity, which can be taken as evidence of philosophical thinking, or taken as the zone version of Hoke's "Power" philosophy which admittedly never materialized under Borges anyway.

AP All America Team Football
The thing about Barrett Jones is you don't have to make tough decisions about what your OL can and can't do.

Tiger pointed out that Alabama's riches in offensive lineman size allowed them to depart from the typical suite of complementary plays and players that limits you to. It's supposed to be this:

Inside Zone has another advantage--flexibility:

The majority of the time in a zone blocking scheme the tailback will follow the design of the play, but occasionally the tailback will perform a cutback and change direction during the run.  A cutback is when the tailback changes direction and runs away from where the linebackers are flowing (the tailback can only do this once and must not hesitate). This cutback made by the tailback is what makes zone blocking so dangerous because of how easily a cutback can lead to a big play.  The cutback exaggerates the advantages of the zone-blocking scheme.

Watch this video highlighting Texas’ use of Inside Zone to see this point illustrated nicely, not only for cutbacks, but for alternate read options.

Major advantages: You can run an offense with less experienced OL and opens up a bigger growth curve for RBs, who become more effective the more comfortable they get at reading the holes and cutback lanes.

Major disadvantage: It's way harder to run play-action from a zone running look. Reason is nothing gets defenders thinking run like a good running MANBALL (or inverted veer) team pulling a guard. Second reason is the small, cut-rate scatbacks that zone lets you get away with don't typically make very good pass blockers. I probably don't have to tell this to 2013 Michigan fans.

At Alabama they overcame the disadvantage by having massive/quick OL who are naturally difficult obstacles to a pass rusher, and with 5-star running backs who can cut, block, slam, juke, and jet, all for three easy payments of $3,995.95, plus shipping and handler's fee (order now and we'll throw in a free safety). At Michigan, well, actually, we've got just those kinds of guys on campus now. Maybe?

Also there's this:

And here I am a quarter way through UFRing an Alabama game. Anyone got Washington tapes?

P.S. I purposely stayed vague on the Song of Ice and Fire references; you're not off the hook from a season recap.

Etc. A CoFoPoff refresher, Hockey poll update (Michigan is 8th), more on Mary Sue Coleman's heir (I vote Ken Whisenhunt for all openings).

[After the jump: the board goes Borges for Nuss]