Mailbag: Purge Incoming(?), Search Coverage Aftermath

Mailbag: Purge Incoming(?), Search Coverage Aftermath Comment Count

Brian January 12th, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Paging Dr. Stalin


getting our glares on

Will there be a roster purge a la Charlie Strong or can we expect Harbaugh to try and retain almost everyone?

I'm not a fan of purges; part of a leader's job is to gain buy-in, but they do happen. Some attrition will certainly happen, but I'd like to not dig a huge roster hole we're digging out of for 3+ seasons.


Strong's purge is not likely to repeat if only because that kind of massive roster depletion is just about unprecedented. Strong walked into a combination of bad timing (two guys suspended for sexual assault) and no discipline after the Mack Brown decline had truly festered. Strong read guys the riot act

Sources said all of the players in question were told that Strong was watching them closely dating back to February, when they were part of a group pulled aside and told that their attitude and/or behavior had to change.

As part of that conversation, players were told they’d be subject to more random drug tests, sources said.

…and they did not respond. That led to a lot of guys out the door.

Michigan has already experienced one of these, as Kyle Bosch was brought into a meeting with Harbaugh and told there would be some conditions on his continued membership:

“I was at school all day, getting ready,” Bosch told Sporting News on Tuesday morning. “Then I met with Coach Harbaugh and I didn’t expect the transfer. That was not my original intent when I went up there yesterday. … This was very untimely. If it was my intention to transfer, I would have done that a long time ago.”

Bosch said his meeting with Harbaugh produced two options: stay with the program with stipulations (he did not say what they were) or transfer.

The kind of things Bosch dealt with over the past year are best left unspecified, but if he didn't want to meet the law laid down by Harbaugh it's best that he find somewhere else to be.

Bosch is an exception. Hoke was very good at getting guys who work hard and go after their schoolwork, thus the APR and extremely low transfer rate. That rate is about to pick up for a lot of reasons (remember that even before the season ended Hoke mentioned two OL were headed out), but the departures won't rise to the level of a purge or leave Michigan alarmingly short-handed this September.

You can tell this is the case just by the recruiting numbers. Michigan has room for a class of 12 right now. Without epic departures that isn't going to get past 20, and a roster that only has to add 15 or 16 players is not in dire straights.

This staff versus previous staff.


Hi, I'm your DL coach. [Eric Upchurch]

Brian -

Since the site has been 90% devoted to the assistant coaching rumors or hires for the past several days I wanted to throw a question at you. 

The natural reaction in the wake of hiring Harbaugh and turning the page on the previous regime is to look at everything through rose colored glasses.  At least until the first game we lose, people will mostly think he can do no wrong and every person he hires or recruits is a great fit. 

If we take a step back, how do you feel the staff construction we will have next year compares to our reaction to the staffs that Rodriguez or Hoke hired in their first seasons?  Do you see any areas that make you scratch your head or long for someone else? 

Chicago, IL

There's no comparison. Hoke and Rodriguez both imported the large majority of their existing coaches and held on to Fred Jackson. Those coaches had experienced success—sort of in Hoke's case—in a specific context at a lower level of competition. Rodriguez fatally did not bring Jeff Casteel along; Hoke imported Greg Mattison and brought Al Borges with him.


  • Is an in-demand OC/QB coach.
  • Hired an in-demand DC.
  • Kept Greg Mattison as a position coach.
  • Hired the guy who built the Stanford ass-kicking machine.
  • Hired Ty Wheatley in the recruiting-heavy RB slot.
  • Hired an ex-NFL OC and successful college OC as a WR coach.
  • Hired a special teams coordinator who has 15 years of crazy success.

Nobody on this staff is going to wander over to San Jose State after they're done at Michigan, and most of them have experienced impressive amounts of success outside of the Harbaugh context. With limited exceptions that latter was not true of anybody on either of the previous two staffs other than Greg Mattison.

If there's anything with this staff that makes me pause it's the still-hypothetical Dougherty hire. He's only had one year of TEs, and with the importance of those guys in the Harbauffense it seems like you'd want a guy with a long track record there, possibly with some OL coaching mixed in to help out Drevno. OC/OL is a lot on one plate.

But we don't know if that's actually going to come to fruition—given the timing here it's possible that Fisch swooped in on his spot. The last thing we heard about Dougherty was a Football Scoop report from three days ago—unreliable to start and increasingly so as we get further out without any confirmation. I'm beginning to think that's not happening.

[After the JUMP: search postmortem, these are my readers.]


Kyle Bosch To Transfer

Kyle Bosch To Transfer Comment Count

Brian January 5th, 2015 at 8:29 PM


Bosch on the right with Mason Cole and Jack Miller.

247's Steve Wiltfong is reporting that Michigan OL Kyle Bosch is set to transfer.

Bosch started on and off as a true freshman as Michigan struggled to put their 2013 line together, then competed for a starting job last spring. He dropped off the radar in favor of a lineup with Jack Miller at center and Graham Glasgow and Erik Magnuson at guard, played one snap in the opener, and then went on a medical/personal/mental health leave for the remainder of the season.

He's back on campus now but is apparently going to light out for greener pastures with Michigan returning its entire starting five and Magnuson. Michigan still has two redshirt sophomore guards in David Dawson and Dan Samuelson, so Bosch's departure doesn't create any alarming gaps in the OL progression. It does increase the urgency for Michigan to find two or three capable prospects before signing day.


Wednesday Presser 10-15-14: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser 10-15-14: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 15th, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Hoke presser 2


News bullets and other items:

  • Hoke expects Devin Gardner to start against MSU, with Shane Morris now healthy enough to be his backup
  • Hoke identified zone coverage, the run game, and creating big plays as areas for improvement over the final five games of the season
  • Kyle Bosch will re-join the team in January after taking a leave of absence for personal reasons
  • Willie Henry could have played against Penn State if it was necessary
  • Hoke alluded to being past the point of making a decision regarding Desmond Morgan redshirting and was evasive when asked if he’d miss the rest of the season
  • The coaches go over negative highlights from around college football each week in team meetings
  • If you’re wondering why there were no MGoQuestions it’s because they were all about MSU, and I decided to save them for Monday since Hoke said the coaches are only in the preliminary stages of gameplanning

Opening remarks:

“Number one, thanks for coming out today. It was good to get a win. Obviously winning's an important aspect of what you do when you compete. The atmosphere, I think, in Michigan Stadium was unbelievable and I know our kids, the energy, they feed off that and it was through the whole game. It was loud when it needed to be loud [from] our students and our fans so we really appreciate that.

“Yesterday we had a shortened practice. We'll go a little longer today. Just fundamentals and techniques being the main emphasis. A little bit on our next opponent, Michigan State, but a lot of fundamental work because we've got some young guys who want to continue to grow and continue to get them as many reps as we can, and then you've got some older guys who've played a lot of football in seven games [over] seven weeks so you want to get them some rest when you can but at the same time try and get some of the early game planning stuff. And with byes, to get physically healthy is an important part of it as much as you can; you're never going to be all the way. And then we've got a great rivalry game with Michigan State.

‘So the other thing we’ll use the bye week for is recruiting. The other part of it will be for us to– for us as a staff to do some self scout with where you're at and what you've done so far and where you might want to change some details up and I think that's one thing Michigan State did – not Michigan State, Penn State, the other night when you look at some of the down and distance and formation things in the first half from an offensive standpoint. They had the bye week and I think they went in seeing that they needed to change up a little bit and I think they did that.”

Do you expect Devin [Gardner] to start at Michigan State?

Yeah, I would. I think having Shane back and healthy also is a big part of it and as much as we are going to talk about injuries yeah, we expect Devin to be there.”

You've touched on this in the past, but what would you say is the biggest area of improvement in Devin since you've known him?

“I'd say as much as anything I think [it’s] his leadership. I think nowadays kids, not a lot of them have that natural leadership. And a lot of that is, and this is an opinion, I haven't studied this but they play so much AAU now. It used to be you go in a backyard or churchyard and you’d say [to] 10 guys, ‘Okay you're the captain of this team and you’re [the captain] of this,’ then pick. Now we have adults making decisions that I don't believe kids get to make and it doesn't help them grow and so that's just part of what I think. So it's a little tougher at times to help kids grow in that department.”

[After THE JUMP: more details on stuff summarized in the bullets]


Kyle Bosch Takes Indefinite Leave Of Absence

Kyle Bosch Takes Indefinite Leave Of Absence Comment Count

Ace September 3rd, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Sophomore guard Kyle Bosch is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team, per this release from the athletic department:

Below is a statement from Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke:

“Kyle Bosch has taken a leave of absence for an undetermined amount of time for personal reasons. We ask that his privacy be respected at this time. We wish him the best and look forward to his return.”

Bosch started three games as a true freshman last year, but only played one snap in the opener. His most recent tweet didn't indicate any issue with the program—in fact, quite the opposite:

Here's hoping Bosch is able to work through whatever is going on at this time.


Fall Camp Presser 8-20-14: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser 8-20-14: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Adam Schnepp August 21st, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Hoke presser 2


News bullets and other items:

  • Today’s starting offensive line would be Mason Cole- LT; Erik Magnuson- LG; Jack Miller- C; Burzynski/Bosch/Kalis- RG; Ben Braden- RT
  • Jabrill Peppers will start at nickel but has picked up the defense fast enough that he’s taking some snaps at boundary corner
  • Hoke can’t remember Devin Funchess dropping a single pass in fall camp which, like, eeeeee
  • Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith are considered the downhill backs, while Drake Johnson and Justice Hayes are the third-down backs
  • Preparation for that game on the 30th against that one team begins Thursday
  • Brady Hoke “Well,…” count: 6

    Opening remarks:

"Thanks for coming out. I think we haven't spoken to each other since Saturday. We've had good practices, good energy, good competition. I think that's one thing we've talked about every time is to compete and challenge each other and I think this team has done that. I think there's leadership throughout the team in all classes which has been good to see. If you're good enough, you're old enough and that's been part of what we talked about. I think that's very good. Starting to get...we are starting to get prepared for Appalachian State here in the next couple days. We'll do some things with switch [?] teams and really have some good competition with that part of it and also keep the speed of how we want to play the game, so there will always be situational ones on ones, twos on twos. Tomorrow is Tuesday, the next day is Wednesday and Saturday is a Thursday how we look at it and next week we'll take Sunday and do some walk-throughs, get the tape reviewed. Next Tuesday will be a Tuesday, Wednesday will be a Wednesday, and Thursday will be Thursday so you've got to figure it out on my end sometimes. But it's been a good camp. I guess we'll break on Saturday morning – about 1 PM on Saturday after we go up to the stadium, have a good practice there. We'll do a lot of game rehearsal things, trying to put the players in situations that they will be in. I think that's important. So… excited. I think we're all excited. Are we ready? Not yet, so we have a lot of work ahead of us but at the same time I like how we go about our business every day."

You said this was the day you start preparing for App State. Do you have a set offensive line?

“Well, I think there's still some competition but I think Ben Braden has been a very steady performer at right tackle. I think Mason Cole has been very, very steady at the left tackle position. I always get asked – not just by you guys but Mason Cole, you don't notice him so you don't notice any mistakes. He's not a guy who's been a guy who killed plays and that's the kind of stuff… Jack will be the center, Kugler will back him up. We'll be without Graham as you all know. Mags will be the left guard if we were playing today and at the right guard I think there's good competition. Joe Burzynski, Kyle Bosch, Kalis is getting work at both guards, he's just getting back into things yesterday so I think we're still– I have an idea, but I don't think we're set at that right guard position right now.”

What did the film from Saturday show you as far as the offensive line goes?

“You know, there were some holes and there were some holes we have to take advantage of and there's also times where the back’s got to make it right, you know, quarterback drifting out of his ball handling knocks a back out of his A gap. We had some of those. Still not enough of them. We still got to move the line of scrimmage better and that's a constant that we'll have. I thought that yesterday the backs did a nice job. I think that Fred [Jackson] definitely had an effect on how they need to approach it and so I think we're making really good progress there.”

To clarify something from Saturday, did you say that in a 4-3 defense, your base, Jabrill [Peppers] would be a corner and then slide into the nickel spot?

“Yeah, I mean he would slide inside. We're going to really try and make sure that he’s set at the nickel before we get too far out there being a boundary corner. I mean, we played him at boundary corner some the other night with the first group. There's some things that are different when you're playing one-third than when you're playing a nickel position so right now, yes, he's playing some corner but we are going to focus in on nickel with him in there.”

You said that you wanted him just to be practicing in one position to get really comfortable there. What have you seen out of him that you feel comfortable, obviously, giving him more responsibility?

“Well, he's learned fast. I think the way he's engrossed himself in the playbook. I think from a fundamental/technique standpoint he's come a long way. Just think he's done a nice job overall.”

[After THE JUMP: sorting out the running back situation, Devin Gardner’s leadership, and my inaugural MGoQuestion]


Quick Hoke Presser Tidbits: O-Line Taking Shape?

Quick Hoke Presser Tidbits: O-Line Taking Shape? Comment Count

Ace August 14th, 2014 at 6:03 PM

3/5 of the starting line for the opener? [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Brady Hoke held a presser this evening, and while Adam should have the full transcript up later, Brian asked me to do a quick rundown since this was a particularly newsworthy one. Let's start with—you guessed it—the offensive line, which seems to be taking form.

That's from left to right, and confirms what Hoke said on the radio earlier today about Braden solidifying his spot at right tackle, with Mason Cole still holding strong at LT.

While Glasgow looks to be the starter at right guard, he's suspended for the opener; Kyle Bosch and David Dawson are competing to start against Appalachian State. As for concern that Kyle Kalis hasn't been mentioned much at all this fall, there's apparently good reason for his absence:

If Hoke is to be believed, Miller is in position to do more than just start the first game—according to the man in charge, Miller is outplaying Glasgow at center. That'd be great news, as it would allow Glasgow to work at guard—where he seems to be a better option than Bosch/Dawson—and let Miller provide an apparent upgrade at center over Michigan's most consistent interior lineman from last year (that is, admittedly, not a distinction worth throwing a parade over).

UPDATE: Per Angelique Chengelis, Hoke actually said that Kalis would be a starter—though one or both of them didn't specify where—if his back was healthy.

That could mean Kalis would take over at left guard, Magnuson would slide over to left tackle, and Cole would move to the bench, or it could mean that Kalis would play right guard over Glasgow.

Michigan held a scrimmage on Wednesday, and in addition to Kalis, three other players were held out: Devin Funchess, Drake Harris, and Delano Hill. Harris is dealing with a hamstring injury, while Hill is reportedly two to three weeks away from returning from his broken jaw. No reason was given for Funchess' absence that I could find, so let's hope upon hope that it was simply "you're Devin Funchess, and we have no need to risk you."

Multiple spots are still up for grabs. Hoke praised the scrimmage performances of Derrick Green and Drake Johnson, while saying De'Veon Smith had a slow start. On the other side of the ball, Jake Ryan is the only linebacker who's locked down a starting spot.

Jabrill Peppers "has a handle" on playing nickel, so he's now getting some work in at cornerback. Given Michigan's depth there, that sounds very positive in regards to Peppers' development.

Adam will have the full transcript up at some point, but that should hold you over for now.


Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian November 20th, 2013 at 7:02 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Northwestern stuck to a 4-3 virtually the entire game, with pretty predictable rules as to how they would line up.

4-3-even-slide 2

When Michigan aligned its strength to the short side of the field and had twins, NW would slide the LBs and play an even front. They would slide the LBs to the twins and shift their line to the strength of the formation when M aligned with their strength to the field.

When Michigan presented Ace, they would play a 4-3 under.


The primary exception to this was the redzone, where Northwestern played their safeties as extra LBs.


Five yards off the LOS and coming on the snap is why those two Derrick Green carries from around the ten ended up losing yards. The first one was actually blocked quite well.

Note that the way NW aligned consistently invited the bubble fake run game, as their corners played off and the slot LB had to respect the bubble. With a safety over the top those two guys removed three players from the box and left Michigan with seven on seven blocking opportunities without having to use the threat of Gardner's legs. It will still work if teams play Michigan like this; if they don't Michigan will have to find something else.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: QB, WR, and the OL were all as you would expect. Dileo seemed to return full strength in this one and this meant Jackson was removed. Paskorz got some early PT but it was Williams most of the way as inline blocky guy. The line remained Lewan/Bosch/Glasgow/Magnuson/Schofield save for some goal line plays on which Kalis game in at RG and weird stuff happened otherwise, like wing TE Taylor Lewan.

Running back was of course an overhaul, with Derrick Green getting the bulk of the work, De'Veon Smith becoming a 30% second, and Justice Hayes acting as a third down back sometimes. Joe Kerridge also got a few snaps as a running back in the shotgun on passes.

[After THE JUMP: wherein we seem relatively happy with nine points in regulation.]


Picture Pages: Various Plays Of No Interest

Picture Pages: Various Plays Of No Interest Comment Count

Brian November 13th, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Every time I post a play analysis these days there are a half-dozen people in the comments who mention that if player X did hard thing Y they are not prepared to do then the play would work. This has gotten to the point where I can explicitly prepare for such criticism and find them ignored, as in the most recent one, and find a diary on this site asserting that if player X did hard thing Y something would have worked.

This is extremely frustrating to me, because these are good-faith attempts to paint broader pictures of what I'm seeing down to down, game after game, year after year, as I try to figure out what Michigan football is doing. Various critics, most prominently Space Coyote, make a few small concessions and then go about explaining why play X was a good call and why it would have worked. They implicitly assert things like "Joe Kerridge in a ton of space should deviate from expecting Nebraska to use their slot LB as a force and ably block that guy when that LB believes the inverted veer is coming, has no need to respect the slot receiver because he is covered, and runs directly into Fitzgerald Toussaint."

I disagree with that. I have watched a lot of people play a lot of football and I think that's hard. I'm trying not to have a stance here; I am evaluating whether I think a thing is easy to do or hard and assigning a number to that feel. Coaches tend to think everything is an execution issue. Players should be able to do arbitrarily hard things.  Some arrows on a diagram say this should work. Meanwhile I think there's a 10% chance for Kerridge to abort the plan and do anything with hell-for-leather blitzer and judge accordingly. Various guys dying on Borges Hill disagree.

I don't know what might be sufficient other than 175 yards against Nebraska to convince these guys that a poor offensive game plan can even exist, but here are various things that are normally too dull to post in a Picture Pages in which unblocked guys on blitzes obliterate Michigan runners for no or little gain.

These are representative of a larger slice of the game and a general feel that confirmed the Nebraska players' postgame assertions that they were expecting most of what Michigan threw at them. Tomorrow's Picture Pages will cover every play of the game, because this isn't going to work either.


Here is an iso. The slot LB is an eighth guy in the box and crashes down unblocked to tackle.


As this goes for three yards it qualifies as one of Michigan's best plays on the day on the ground. Three yards is not good on first and ten, and there was nothing Michigan could do about it.


Here is a zone play. Nebraska loads up and sends a blitz through a gap that Michigan doesn't pick up as Bosch ends up doubling with Lewan.

However, because of the blitz the only thing Bosch making a very good play to recognize and pick up the charging LB does is send Green to one of the two unblocked guys, either the backside guy ripping down the LOS without thought of checking the QB or a linebacker sitting two yards deep without anyone trying to get him, because Nebraska's blitz has prevented anyone from moving to the second level.



Here is a power play. Nebraska loads up with eight in the box and one deep safety and blitzes.



A Nebraska linebacker ends up shooting the gap behind the Bosch pull and meets Green in the backfield.


Michigan loses two yards and has third and eleven.


Oh for pants' sake.

The offensive line is not in fact overwhelmed here; they are not actually involved because Nebraska's blitz is perfect to destroy the inverted veer.

Items Of Interest

All of this is an execution issue, sure. For a given definition of execution, this is an execution issue. Michigan's hyper-raw OL should be able to block this. They should be able to deal with Nebraska switching gaps and blazing LBs to the point of attack. They should be able to block Nebraska's maniacal run-oriented loaded box. They would do this, if only they could execute.

Except the last one. And the first one. And probably the second and third.

Either you believe that players can be put in positions they can succeed or players are expected to succeed in the positions they are put in. I am in the former camp. The last few Borges defenders are in the latter camp. This entire season Space Coyote has been gamely explaining what should have happened on failed play after failed play without any thought to how difficult what should have happened is.

Players do not exist in a vacuum. Joe Kerridge is trying to block a guy in acres of space and that guy has the jump on him because he knows Funchess is covered, and he knows what Michigan's running. I look at that and I think "Jesus, I do not want to be Joe Kerridge there."

I am admittedly working from a hand-waving feel on this, but it's no worse a feel than whatever Space Coyote has gotten from doing whatever he does with whatever team at a totally different level of competition. I say Michigan puts their players in a spot to work miracles or die, and that this is on both the overall structure of the offense and the predictability of playcalls based on formations and down and distance. Space Coyote makes certain concessions to not seem totally insane and then goes back to hammering the fact that it's all execution.

Kerridge was put in a spot to fail, and did. I'm looking at the play and saying I believe there is a small chance that Kerridge can make a tough play in space; the guys in the comments think that because Kerridge could hypothetically have made a play none of this goes back to the folks in charge.

These plays. The above plays are no-chancers for the offense, because Michigan is running into the teeth of a defense stacked to stop the run and blitzing. In UFR lingo they acquired sizeable rock-paper-scissors minuses. In compensation Michigan got two screens which both got large RPS plus numbers, but the number of downs thrown away in this game running at a Nebraska defense that seemed to be in Michigan's head was alarming. When I add it up, I am guessing things will come out highly negative, and then people will cluck at me about that.

I won't deny that things are more likely to get put in the negative bin there when you have fewer options because you're not good, but in my opinion running plays you suck at into stacked boxes is a bad idea. So is the continued deployment of Toussaint as a pass blocker on plays that take forever to develop. That, too, is an execution issue, but it is nuts to expect him to block guys now, and the offense would be better served if he was used in a pattern or replaced by a fullback or something. Instead… he is not.

But yeah yeah, the expectation is for the position.


Picture Pages: Resistance Is Futile, Your Plays Will Be Assimilated

Picture Pages: Resistance Is Futile, Your Plays Will Be Assimilated Comment Count

Brian November 5th, 2013 at 5:29 PM

As I'm going over the film here something is resonating that I read from Ace's VEQ last week.

I cannot tell you how many times in the last three years I've watched an opposing offense go for 50, 60, 70 yards on their first drive, kick a field goal, score a touchdown, flip field position, whatever, and then absolutely get downloaded by this defense. It happened just this last weekend at Illinois. Sometimes it takes more than one drive, some days it takes a half of football or so. But I, for example, watched Purdue experience some early success throwing little 12-15 yard out patterns beneath MSU's retreating zone cornerback on two third downs in quick succession to keep drives alive, and then the third time Purdue tried it, not only was the corner right there in man coverage, but there too was safety Isaiah Lewis flashing in front of the receiver and nearly collecting a pick-six. Stuff like that is a joy to watch.

That was the story of this game, as well. Michigan found snatches of success early, whereupon MSU adjusted and that was all she wrote. A play that finds success has been followed by a nothing play that MSU crushes with a creepy consistency so far. Without the context of MSU's stats this year it feels like Pat Narduzzi is the luckiest guy in the world for a while, and then it's like he's Doyle Brunson.

In one instance, it seems like it took MSU one play to assimilate something Michigan was doing. M debuted a run play that is basically power from the playside guard gussied up to look like inverted veer. The first instance of this sort of worked. The second did not. The yards were basically the same, but that's because Toussaint managed to evade a TFL on the second.


It's Michigan's first drive; they've hit a couple passes to Gallon to open up with 46 yards on their first two plays. They come out in a 2TE set featuring Paskorz and Butt with Funchess in the slot. Unusually for MSU, they flip a corner over Funchess. Both safeties are hanging out where they usually do: rolled up tight.


Butt will release. Lewan will block down on the playside end; Bosch will pull around. Since the end doesn't  get an initial block and Michigan makes its mesh point look like an inverted veer, he reads that and hangs outside, creating a wide crease for Toussaint to explore.


The design basically works. Lewan turns his guy inside and the veer appearance means Bosch isn't seriously challenged by the DE, who is trying to maintain outside contain.


Meanwhile, Butt and Glasgow release immediately into the playside LBs. This gives Magnuson an impossible task on the other DL, but I think they figure that guy's not going to make a play on this play and that a significant percentage of the time he will get hung up on the other DL getting smoked. Either that or it's just another assignment screwup; in UFR I thought Bullough was more dangerous than the DT and passed on a minus.


By the time Toussaint gets the handoff there's a nice gap that is unfortunately being rapidly filled by that DT, but there's so much space that he can run away from it. Meanwhile, Funchess has come down and blocks… uh… Butt, kind of. He eventually does shove the corner on him back but that looks bizarre to me; seems like he should be carrying to the safety. In any case, gap is extant.


This is looking rather promising.


But MSU holds the damage down, as Calhoun comes off the Bosch block easily and spins Toussaint around, allowing the safety to come down and tackle after a modest gain.


Three yards is a win, I guess?



Items Of Interest

It's new, and shiny, and created a hole. Hoorah. This play uses Lewan's strength to bash open a hole and while it doesn't actually option a guy off it uses the threat of a veer to make Bosch's job considerably easier.

I still don't understand M centers shooting to the second level immediately despite guys basically over them. It happens with such consistency that it might actually be the plan, but it drives me nuts every time it happens. Here Michigan issues Magnuson a blocking assignment that is flatly impossible and sends Glasgow out immediately; meanwhile on the back side of the play Schofield and Paskorz do combo the end, getting him sealed away. You can see the cost in the linebacker blocks: Glasgow gets into Bullough and gets him moving hard, providing a nice cutback lane… that the back cannot take because there's a DL flowing down the line. Meanwhile Allen gets playside of Schofield and is filling that hole.

To me it seems like you'd want to reverse this: shoot Schofield out immediately and say damn the backside end while getting that DT sealed away. It seems like whenever a M C or G ignores a nose tackle and gives someone else on the line a difficult task it results in doom, but it's happening almost all the time, and this doesn't seem like rocket science. The guy is in alignment X against you, you chip him so your partner can get around.

Michigan isn't doing this with a regularity that makes me think it's intentional, and the results are underwhelming. FMK: goofy assignments or guys who can't execute rule one of zone running.

Tight end blocking again an issue. Butt's block here gets hardly any motion and does allow the LB to slide off, or would if Funchess didn't add himself into the equation. Funchess, meanwhile, brings his corner into the fray and since the general rule of running when you suck at it (and probably even when you don't) is that most blocks are just opportunities to screw up a play, that is a negative.

I know what Funchess is thinking here, because Michigan would run this again against a more typical MSU D:


His job is to go get that slot LB. Here his job is to… run the corner off or something, go bash the safety, but he screws it up, probably because Michigan was prepping him to run it against a gray area LB instead of a press corner.

MSU's alignment throws this off. Compare the screenshot right above with the presnap setup here:


Note the relation of the LB Butt is going for relative to himself. On this play, he's even; on the other play he's a player and a half inside of him. Much easier angle for Butt, more likely there's a gap away from the DE and a nice gain. That's why the linebacker blocks here don't really get Fitz a hole he clearly expects to be outside. (And maybe why Michigan's okay with leaving the DT: they expected a different D.)

The download. The next time Michigan ran this they got the above formation. Aaaaand:


Slot LB rips down, Funchess has no shot, Toussaint does well to bounce around it and gets eaten by a safety after a similar gain. Is this sheer luck? On some level, sure. But the creepy mind-reading tendencies of the MSU defense are so consistent that it seems like something more. Could Narduzzi have executed this inference chain?

  1. Michigan has a new run play on which Funchess accidentally doubled a LB in a defense we don't run much.
  2. He's probably supposed to block the slot LB in our usual stuff.
  3. It's first and ten from the nine, probably a run.
  4. If it's the new toy, blitz slot LB.

I wouldn't put it past him. Seems hard given the chaos of football but if you're a DC with tons of experience and have a feel for this live, well, you might be quite good at your job.


Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-29-13: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-29-13: Al Borges Comment Count

Heiko October 29th, 2013 at 4:31 PM

What’s the secret to moving the ball against this Michigan State defense?

“Uh. Well, the first thing you have to make sure is you don’t give it to them. Same deal, because they’ve done a great job of feeding off turnovers, either creating opportunities for offense or literally scoring themselves, which is amazing how many times they’ve done that. So that’s the starting point. Take care of the football and minimizing the damage, if in fact there is damage. Making what could be a bad play not into a disaster. That’s number one. Number two is getting your bodies on their bodies, making sure your plays get started, so you give your skill guys a chance to do what they do best, whether it be in the open field or around the line of scrimmage. Those are really key points. If you’re getting hit in the backfield as soon as you hand the ball off, you’re not going anywhere, and they’ve done a lot of that.”