Mailbag: Lear, Rudock Deep, Punt Agonies, Whoville

Mailbag: Lear, Rudock Deep, Punt Agonies, Whoville

Submitted by Brian on October 22nd, 2015 at 12:49 PM

Pretty much

As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods,
They kill us for their sport.


What's going on with Rudock?

Brian - you made some comments today on the podcast about how Jake Rudock's inability to hit the deep ball has finally bitten us in the collective asses, which I agree. You also mentioned that when you watched him last year, while he wasn't dead-on every time, he was able to hit the deep pass from time to time - something he clearly can't do this year.

My question is this - to me, this does not seem like a 'new coach, new system' type of a problem. Those issues seem to be the ones where he fails to even attempt a throw to a wide open receiver (which he does all the time - but I give him more of a pass for that as the "new system / new coach" issue). But when he throws the deep pass, only inaccurately - that suggests to me an issue with maybe his mechanics or something else that has thrown off his accuracy past 15 yards. Any thoughts why that might be? If anything, I would expect his deep accuracy to improve with a guy like Harbaugh teaching him the fundamentals. Again, I separate this from other issues such as "stares down Butt" or "ignores screamingly open routes every once in awhile."


Yeah, you got me. Some of the Rudock problems are issues that make sense given what we saw from him at Iowa. Not throwing at sort of covered Jake Butt on second and goal from the 18 is a Rudock problem I can understand. That is his reputation. Rudock not  finding receivers is a problem I can understand. He's in a new system.

Rudock underthrowing Amara Darboh by about 20 yards is inexplicable. Any quarterback is going to be off on some long throws; to miss as often and as badly as Rudock has is not something that I saw last year. That's not just homerdom. Preseason, PFF put out an article titled "Michigan can win with QB Jake Rudock" that noted he was 12th in downfield (20+ yards in the air) accuracy by their system last year. In the Maryland game, BTN had a similar stat:

rudock not so much

The disparity is certainly bigger now.

I don't know if he's hurt or his mechanics are messed up or what, but for whatever reason his ability to hit downfield passes has collapsed. Why? I dunno. Is there something different in what he's doing here?



Since one is in the middle of the field and one on the sideline. Those are throws of about the same length. Am I crazy or does the 2015 video look like a guy who's loading up to get it as far as he can while 2014 sees Rudock make a throw that's comfortably within his range? I dunno.

Something is wrong. A problematic injury, possibly one that caused the weird Iowa QB depth chart thing, is a possible explanation. The other explanation is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ref hot take


Having read Seth’s analysis of the officiating (and you really should make him do that weekly) my question is why – why did this happen to us?  If you ascribe these “errors” to incompetence, shouldn’t there be an equal number of blown calls going in our favor?  Incompetent referees should be just as likely to screw things up for team A as team B and over the course of a 60 minute game shouldn’t it balance relatively out if they are simply incompetent?

The obvious alternative to incompetence is the officials had an agenda and carried it out.  Granted, we still should’ve won the game but with so many critical calls being made against Michigan it made the game much closer than it needed to be and allowed the last play to finally tip the scale in MSU’s favor.   And if it’s an agenda – why does it exist?

What say you?  Incompetence, agenda or something else?


If you flip a coin a million times there are going to be stretches in there where you get a long series of heads or tails. Michigan just ate an game that was virtually all tails. There's no need for a further explanation. Over the past decade or so it's been definitively proven that the replay officials are not good enough at their job, but that's all. The Big Ten tends to use retired referees in the booth, with evidently disastrous results.

If there was any sort of "plan" here Michigan wouldn't have gotten a free touchdown when their receiver barely scraped the pylon a few years back in this very game. Remember that? That call was overturned from the correct call to free TD. Replay officials should no longer be people with rotary phones. Actual officials are probably the best we've got. That sucks; not much to do about it.

[After THE JUMP: HSPs future, Whoville analogy, we should have done this or that]

27 For 27: A Document

27 For 27: A Document

Submitted by Brian on October 16th, 2013 at 3:53 PM

[SITE NOTE: Due to a confluence of things including a long drive home, four overtimes, thrilling CONCACAF qualifier business, the Tigers, this post, and a desire to stab my eyeballs whenever I look at the tape, UFR is not quite done and will go up tomorrow.]

Fitzgerald Toussaint set a Michigan record for sustained futility on Saturday by running for 27 yards on 27 carries. Since 1949, no other back has gotten as many carries without gaining at least twice as many yards. Posterity demands that someone detail what happened.

A note: blame is apportioned. When things are designated playcall it's because I don't believe it's reasonable to expect Michigan to block player X, either because he's an extra guy in the box or he's tearing towards the line of scrimmage on the snap because he has no fear of a pass. You can adjust your personal indignation levels on this based on how reasonable you thought running into stacked boxes was vis a vis Devin Gardner's 13 YPA and constant turnover threat; I'm just trying to figure out how much of the run splat was preordained by playcalls.

Ready? No. I know you're not. But here we go anyway.



Play: Power O
Formation: Tackle over I Form H
Yards: -3

Why it didn't work:

  1. Graham Glasgow ignored the NT.
  2. Predictable playcall sees PSU linebackers flow hard with effectively nine in the box.
  3. Jake Butt gets beat badly by a PSU LB in the hole.

Blame: 80% OL, 10% playcall, %10 TE/FB



Play: Zone stretch.
Formation: Tackle over I Form big
Yards: -3

Why it didn't work:

  1. PSU has straight up nine in the box.
  2. Michigan tries to be clever by running at Williams and Bryant, both of whom get destroyed.
  3. Schofield leaves immediately, so Lewan has no shot at the backside tackle.

Blame: 30% TE/FB, 30% OL, 40% playcall



Play: Power O
Formation: Tackle over Ace H
Yards: 12

Why it didn't work:

  1. Actually it did work.
  2. It works because Schofield gets nice push, giving Toussaint a crease. Glasgow gets movement on a DT and the eighth guy in the box for PSU tries to get over to the frontside when he should probably stack this up near the LOS.

Blame: Everyone is happy!



Play: Counter
Formation: Tackle over trips TE
Yards: 1

Why it didn't work:

  1. Seven guys in the box against six blockers; extra guy makes the stop.
  2. PSU WLB doesn't get suckered by the counter, gives Glasgow no shot to block him.
  3. Kalis gets shed, falling to the ground.

Blame: 80% playcall, 20% OL.

[After THE JUMP: just don't click through. I'm sorry I even did this.]

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.

On Being Steve Buscemi

On Being Steve Buscemi

Submitted by Brian on August 26th, 2011 at 1:49 PM

So, about that game against that school: does anyone else feel a little bit like Marge Gunderson right now?


As the rest of the world laughs at Dave Brandon's decision to dredge up a not very nice thing that happened a while back I keep thinking of the scene at the end of Fargo where Grimsrud is in the back of the squad car, mute, as Marge tries to figure out what's in his head:

		...  So that was Mrs. Lundegaard
		in there?

	She glances up in the rear-view mirror.

	Grimsrud, cheeks sunk, eyes hollow, looks sourly out at the

	Marge shakes her head.

	At length:

		...  I guess that was your
		accomplice in the wood chipper.

	Grimsrud's head bobs with bumps on the road; otherwise he is
	motionless, reactionless, scowling and gazing out.

		...  And those three people in

	No response.

	Marge, gazing forward, seems to be talking to herself.

		...  And for what?  For a little
		bit of money.

	We hear distant sirens.

		...  There's more to life than money,
		you know.

	She glances up in the rear-view mirror.

		...  Don't you know that?...  And
		here ya are, and it's a beautiful

Marge is trying to comprehend an alien intelligence's decisions. That's where I find myself today. I can't begin to fathom the kind of thinking that would go into scheduling Appalachian State again. I get there are reasons, just like Grimsrud had reasons, but for the reasons to win out over the costs the kind of value judgments that are going on in the decision-maker's head must be frightening.

Meanwhile, instead of being mute Brandon is reminding us not to shoot anyone. Thanks, Dave Brandon. I'll try to remember not to shoot anyone this fall. Then there's this:

Oh, each team wanted to win. Players mentioned how their nerves came into play. There were sweaty palms, and probably a few "yips" on the green. And when the match was over, there was some fun "trash talk," but there were more laughs and hugs -- and respect for each other.

Not being mute is only exacerbating this divide.

We've had hints of this for a while now, but this is the last straw: Dave Brandon is not a Michigan fan. He may want Michigan to win but he has no concept of what the fanbase thinks is important. In the last year he's suggested or executed the following:

  • moving the Ohio State game to midseason
  • putting Michigan in a different division than Ohio State
  • curly fries in Michigan Stadium
  • a sponsored spring game
  • a mascot
  • scheduling The Horror: The Squeakuel

He has failed to:

  • summarily execute Special K on the diag

In the aftermath of people blowing up about these things, he wrote jerky emails and said he "can't see how it would be a negative" to dig up the most infamous upset in NCAA history. These are not good signs. Dave Brandon is going to create the future whether you like being put in a wood chipper or not.


Jerry Hinnen:

this is the single dumbest scheduling decision we can remember, and the most craven once since Indiana sold out one of their own Big Ten home games to play at a "neutral site" full of Penn State fans.

Spencer Hall:

No matter what happens, greater glory is paid the lowest point in the history of the Michigan football program in exchange for national television exposure. This is Michigan football becoming a celebrity rehab patient. This is Michigan's amateur sex tape that no one wants to buy. We're beginning to think Dave Brandon is not a very smart person. We're beginning to also think this will all end with this Michigan team losing this game in 2014, and then beating Florida in the 2015 Outback Bowl.

Holly Anderson:

the athletic department has scheduled what it’s going to have to call a revenge match with Appalachian State, a concept too hysterical to even contemplate.

Doctor Saturday:

Aug. 30, 2014, is two days shy of the seventh anniversary of the most stunning upset in college football history, long enough for everyone involved in Appalachian State's 34-32 miracle in the Big House to have graduated, retired or otherwise moved on from the respective programs, but not nearly long enough for Michigan fans to get over the festering humiliation that sent the program into a four-year spiral from which it's only beginning to emerge.

A Different Kind Of Football Armageddon

A Different Kind Of Football Armageddon

Submitted by Brian on August 20th, 2010 at 11:57 AM

I have terrible news: David Brandon's pimp hand has badly malfunctioned and is now marching, Godzilla-style, on the greatest rivalry ever in the history of ever. This morning he showed up on WTKA to discuss Big Ten divisons and said this:

SAM WEBB: If you are making the decision, are Michigan and Ohio State in the same division?

[pregnant pause in which Brandon struggles valiantly against the malfunctioning pimp hand's electrosteam power source. "NO," he stammers. "MUST… NOT… SUBMIT." He feels like he's trapped in an episode of Star Trek, playing Kirk in any one of the dozens of episodes in which something in his brain compels him to evil. Sweat breaks out on his brow; he begins to tremble. The shaking increases in intensity, threatening to break out into violent convulsions! At any moment David Brandon's existential dilemma will come to a head! Things are afoot

A twitch. Two twitches. Now a facial tic. All is silent. An unnatural calm descends.]


[Deep in a bunker underneath a Kenosha corn field, Barry Alvarez allows himself the deep rumbling bass laugh only the blackest hearts can muster. Yes. All according to plan.]

SAM WEBB: And why? [Ed: …GOD WHY?]

THE UNSPEAKABLE THING THAT POSSESSES THE BODY OF DAVID BRANDON: Because we're in a situation where one of the best things that could happen … would be the opportunity to play Ohio State twice.

As highlighted by Doctor Saturday, Ohio State seems awfully wishy-washy about the whole thing, too:

He said he has received only a couple of e-mails from people worried about the possibility of moving the Michigan game to earlier in the season. Whether those – and other critical opinions expressed on the Internet – are reflective of the broad fan base is impossible to know, Smith said.

"I know one thing for sure - that we're going to play (Michigan) every year," Smith said. "We may end up playing the last game of the year, or not. I just don't know that yet."

The "not" scenario will only come to pass if the two teams can play again and the Big Ten is trying to avoid the farce of a best-last-one-out-of-two scenario. And with both ADs at Michigan and Ohio State trying to prepare the fans for a soft landing, it's clear which way this is going: the stupidest possible way.

ONE: It is extremely unlikely that Michigan and Ohio State would ever actually score a championship game rematch. Splitting the two teams is a pointless exercise in hoping that once every ten years you get another one. This is no longer the 1970s.

TWO: Michigan's year-end opponent: Michigan State? Boy, that will fire up everyone on Rivalry Week: "It's Michigan! It's some team that's been within a game of .500 every year since SEC schools started recruiting black kids! On ABC!"

THREE: Whatever damage the rivalry sustains because of the split is going to vastly outweigh the piddling slice of extra revenue Michigan and Ohio State will get from a 1/12th split of the incremental bump the Big Ten Championship Game gets because maybe once every ten years they'll get to pit Michigan against Ohio State.

FOUR: Dennis Dodd thinks this is the way to go. QED.

Not that this matters. Apparently it's done. Get ready for Michigan-Ohio State sometime in October, not even playing for a division or anything, because the "TV people" really want it. Do I need to remind you about Mark Shapiro?

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)












Spirit Airlines Sucks

Spirit Airlines Sucks

Submitted by Brian on March 22nd, 2010 at 10:57 PM


Your humble author at around 8PM on Wednesday 

So, right. I didn't want to harsh the hockey buzz earlier and mention it then, but I will mention it now: Spirit Airlines sucks. I waited long enough that I am no longer a spittle-flecked FFFFFFUUUUUU-bot about the whole thing and can now relate to you my story without having it devolve into fantasies where I chop off their heads. Instead I will rationally explain to you why Spirit Air is an exceptionally bad choice for anyone looking to use a plane to change their location.

Event #1: I am flying to New York for Blogs With Balls 1.0, the first ever sportsblogger convention-type substance. Due to crazy weather things, the flight is cancelled. Okay, fine, out of their control. I am then told that I can get on the next available flight. The flight is on Sunday. It is Thursday. BWB is on Saturday. I am attempting to get to New York City, which is a large and notable place with no fewer than three major airports if you count Newark.

It turns out I cannot explode the heads of people who are talking to me on the phone. I cancel. I do manage to Priceline a flight for less than one zillion dollars, but I have to get up at 4 AM to catch it. That day is fun.

Event #2: I purchase tickets to head out to Las Vegas for the NCAA tournament's opening weekend in order to see my friend who moved to Nowhere, Arizona, and spends the first weekend of the NCAA tournament running around like one of those little dogs whose blood is 90% cocaine. Because MGoSignificantOther has to TA classes, we have a tight window. It only makes sense to fly out Wednesday night and come back Sunday and unfortunately in that window Spirit is about 300 bucks cheaper than the alternatives. I grit my teeth and buy.

When we arrive at the airport more than an hour before the flight, our boarding passes have no seats. I know this is very bad. It turns out they have oversold the flight by a whopping six people and we are all totally screwed. We are given the option to fly out later… 24 hours later. This totally destroys the sense in going. We cancel. Spirit offers us exactly nothing in compensation.

I FFFFFFUUUUUUU my way out of the airport and fall into a funk that only magically delicious Shawn Hunwick can cure.

A Totally Non Spittle-Flecked Reason You Should Avoid Spirit

I have been caught in the throes of airline fiascoes a few times before, and have been pissed off. But in those instances the delays have been on the order of hours because other airlines have reciprocal agreements where they will reduce FFFUUUU as much as possible by letting you on their flights.

Spirit does not have these agreements—my Priceline flight is proof of that—and if anything goes wrong with your flight, or you are one of the unfortunate folk who Spirit says "psyche!" to when you say "you sold me a ticket", you will be waiting at least a full day and possibly up to, like, forever, before you can actually get on a plane. If getting somewhere at a particular time is important, avoid Spirit Air at all costs. If you have a wedding or a holiday or a space ninja convention or have made any plans whatsoever, Spirit Air is a terrible choice.

I understand that sometimes the flight is going to be ridiculously cheaper and you'll want to roll the dice, but trust me: if it's anywhere under a couple hundred bucks—which most of them are—they'll extract most of that from you in hidden fees for booking a seat or checking luggage or breathing funny and you'll be exposing yourself to greatly increased risk that your plans will just evaporate.

Also, when you try to email them you will have to jump through sixteen hoops to do so and then you will be all FFFFUUUU again when you send them a link to your post.

A Side Note

Is there any other industry that will promise you something, take hundreds or thousands of dollars from you, and then say "sorry, we were just kidding?" I can hardly believe this "oversold" bullcrap is legal. Two would be one thing, but six? Seriously?

Obligatory Planes, Trains, And Automobiles Embed

The most NSFW 53 seconds that does not involve nudity can be:

For the record, I did not do this. For the first time in my life I did pull the "DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO?!?" card, though. They did not.

So… That Happened.

So… That Happened.

Submitted by Brian on March 12th, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Are we going to recap it? No. I'm pretty sure Tim is methodically hammering nails into anything small and fluffy he can find. We're going to dig out something that hasn't been seen around these parts in a year or two. It is the Dead To Me board. It has two new additions, the second of which is relevant.


Well played, 2009-10. Well played.

Here's a kitten:


We'll see you next week. Jesus.