Unverified Voracity Demands To See The Cheesekeeper

Unverified Voracity Demands To See The Cheesekeeper Comment Count

Brian November 10th, 2015 at 12:15 PM

Same as it ever was. Nothing changes.

The king stay the king. Harbaugh twitter will always be delightful.

If you do not listen to this song, this whole song, he will find you.

The equivalent Harbaugh story here is doing pushups with mom at 3 AM. De'Veon Smith was on Inside Michigan Football last night, and said things that make you… uh… notice a contrast between recent Michigan coaching staffs. For one:

"Coach Hoke was a great coach, he meant a lot to me," Smith said. "He came over to my house one day and literally just fell asleep on the couch."

I hope this was unannounced. De'Veon Smith comes home finds that one of his windows is broken. Inside, Brady Hoke is splayed out on the couch covered in cheeto dust and pinecones. Smith ventures a poke in an attempt to wake Hoke up; Hoke mutters "I am the cheesemaster" and rolls over, inert. There he stays for the winter. When he awakes he demands to see the "cheesekeeper" and runs into the forest.

For two:

"I guess until this year I wasn't really taught properly how to pass protect and what are my keys exactly," Smith said. "And (running backs) coach (Tyrone) Wheatley is instilling that into in all the running backs.

"In previous years, we tried to cut-block somebody. We weren't aiming at the right spot to cut down somebody and now coach Wheatley has taught us to get up on them and get low on them whenever we have to cut them. All the coaching points are definitely the main difference from this offense and last year's offense."

Smith has been excellent in pass protection this year. Michigan ran a couple of smash combos in the Rutgers game in which he was tasked with cutting an unblocked DE and did it with aplomb.

Mizzou chaos. Mizzou's president resigned, their chancellor also got booted, and because the football team decided they'd join the protest several people are poking me to talk about it. So here we go. Hold on to your butts.

  • If you don't understand what's going on, Bill Connelly's explainer is the best that I've found. I still fail to grasp why a few unrelated racial incidents—one of which saw the perpetrator expelled—blew up like it has, but the impression given off by the Connelly piece is that the upper echelons of Mizzou were taken over by Brandon types with an eye on the bottom line and the incorrect assumption that they had infinite political power. Yanking grad student (read: teacher) health insurance the day before classes is a Total Brandon Move. The inciting incidents here were a spark in a dry forest, to borrow Mark Bernstein's analogy.
  • The football team joining the protest promises to be a watershed moment. The president was likely on his way out anyway, but for the axe to fall so quickly after the football team announced a boycott indicates the latent power athletes have. Mizzou was about to get hit very hard financially because the football team simply decide to not do stuff. That is power.
  • This is still far away from the dread strike-for-money that will happen in the next decade, probably at the Final Four. The climate on the Mizzou campus during a campus-wide protest the aftermath of Ferguson is going to be a lot different than the climate if a team says it simply wants a piece of the pie. Whatever team does that is going to get it from both barrels nationwide. Mizzou's football team has largely been praised by non-ideological* media.
  • Gary Pinkel trying to walk it back afterwards by saying it was about nothing other than the health and well-being of the student on a hunger strike is disappointing. If you're going to do it, do it. That's some phony PR right there.

The merits of the protest, its interpretation of what the First Amendment means,  and the larger campus climate nationwide are outside the scope of this blog until such time as Michigan gets stuck in a similar morass. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

*[yes yes all media is ideological especially that newspaper or that website here's a cookie]

Okay, Bill Plaschke. I'd link Drew Sharp if he was talking to Keith Jackson.

It is a voice still so memorable, people still call his home and hang up just to hear his greeting.

"If you're calling the Jacksons, you have succeeded," the voice says. "Help yourself."

I don't think that's how it works. The idea of a medical redshirt for Mario Ojemudia came up again:

Elsewhere, Harbaugh said Monday that the team is still in the process of appealing for an extra year of eligibility for injured senior buck linebacker Mario Ojemudia. The 6-foot-2, 252-pounder suffered season-ending Achilles tendon injury during the second half of the team's fifth game of the year -- a 28-0 win at Maryland.

Per the NCAA rulebook, medical hardship waivers (also known as medical redshirt years) can only be obtained (in a team sport) if three separate conditions are met. The injury must occur during one of the player's four seasons of eligibility, the injury has to have taken place prior to the second half of the player's season and the player has not participated in more than three contests (or 30 percent) of his or her season.

Ojemudia appeared in five games, which is obviously more than three/30 percent. Still, Harbaugh said the process of an appeal is still ongoing.

"There's an appeal process," Harbaugh said. "It's a process."

I assume this will get shot down because the NCAA has been very strict about keeping that rule intact, especially since they moved from 25% to 30% a few years back. I'd be really surprised if Michigan wins here.

Kickering, evaluated. SBN Auburn blog College & Magnolia piles field goal attempts from the last decade into a couple of graphs in an effort to evaluate kickers by the worth of their kickery. Average point value by distance:


Surprised a 50 yarder is a 50/50 proposition but I guess they don't throw you out there if you obviously can't make it.

Gets choppy at the end there for obvious reasons. C&M assigns points relative to expectation for the nation's kickers and finds Kenny Allen in a tie for 40th. That's about right since he's mostly hit mostly short field goals.

There are a couple of problems with this approach, It tends to give guys who don't have a big leg a pass for not attempting long field goals and it might underrate guys who end up with a lot of limited-upside chip shots relative to equivalent kickers who get more valuable attempts.

But it's a good first approximation, and Allen is about what we've seen: above average and not outstanding. FWIW, OSU currently is 116th. Jack Willoughby is 7/11 on the year and hasn't hit one from 40+. Just something to keep an eye on.

Smart Football back. Chris Brown has revived his blog until such time as someone else snaps him up. He talks packaged plays and how defenses are adapting to them:

In the below clip, Mariota is reading the backside inside linebacker — who is unblocked as the backside tackle is blocking out on the defensive end — to decide whether to hand off on an inside run or throw a slant into what should be a vacated area.


Yet even though the linebacker steps up for the run — and thus Mariota’s read takes him to the slant — the nickel defensive back had been reading Mariota’s eyes the entire time and he simply steps in front of the slant for a too-easy pick-six.

Does this mean defenses have figured these plays out? Not even close; one of the many reasons Whisenhunt got fired was because he had only superficially begun integrating these plays into his offense, rather than truly understanding how they fit together. But I’ve seen other examples of plays like this so far this year, and it’s evidence that defenses are catching up. That, of course, shouldn’t be a surprise. In football, nothing stays easy for long.

The Borges-Denard parallels are obvious.

Michigan hasn't had a ton of trouble with packaged plays this year since they tend to play a lot of man, FWIW.

Etc.: List of top uniforms has Michigan #1, Oregon #2, which is kind of an amazing list. Leaders have leadership. Dedicating Yost Field House. The Slippery Rock story. The dumbest game theory decision ever. Probably literally. LeMoyne things. Harbaugh's got it all.


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Maryland

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Maryland Comment Count

Brian October 7th, 2015 at 4:12 PM

homesure-lending-logoUpon Further Review is sponsored.

You know, Matt was just like "if I sponsor this you have to do them all for the whole season" and I was like "okay but you know that was going to be likely since now I am not going to be overwhelmed with sadness two-thirds through" and then he made some sort of intimidating hand gesture. But his heart is in the right place?

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: At this point Michigan has few formation surprises. They're usually in a nickel. They alternate between three or four fronts. One is a three man line with the buck in a two point stance as a 3-4 OLB:


30 nickel slide

One splits the DEs a bit further and tucks the buck in behind the NT:


dime buck

And then they run a lot of standard four man fronts.


nickel even

Some of the four man lines will have the buck in a two point stance; I still denote those as four man lines based on the alignments of the DL.

Michigan swaps mostly between man under with one or two deep safeties and a cover three with a few different variants.

PERSONNEL NOTES: Standard rotation up front with Henry/Glasgow/Wormley in front of Charlton/Hurst/Godin. Henry got a lot of playing time after a couple weeks in which Godin was more prominent; Hurst probably played the best of anyone. Ojemudia got almost all the buck snaps until he was hurt, and from that point it was RJS.

LB was Morgan and Bolden with a scattering of 4-3 snaps that featured Ross. The secondary did not have Stribling so it was Clark/Peppers/Lewis/Wilson/Hill for the vast majority of the game. When in a 4-3, Clark left. When in a dime, Dymonte Thomas entered.

Michigan continued flipping Peppers and Lewis between outside corner and slot like they did last week.

[After THE JUMP: a defenestration]


Monday Presser 10-5-15: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-5-15: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 5th, 2015 at 6:03 PM



You said the other day that you thought Mario [Ojemudia] would most likely miss the season with an Achilles [injury]. Is that the case, and who do you look at to step up obviously with him being out this week?

“Yeah, that’s…that is the case. Look at- look within our roster, look within our defense. It’s a…don’t know exactly who yet, but I mean, you know the guys.”

How long have you known Pat Fitzgerald and could you talk about any background with him?

“Yeah. Great competitor. Background would be starting with I was Stanford, he was at Northwestern. First crossed paths on the recruiting trail. Sized him up and said, ‘This guy’s a fine, fine coach and great competitor.’ He’s done a fabulous job. He’s a great coach.

“And got to know him this summer. Came to our football camp and did a tremendous job talking to the campers and sharing football lessons and life lessons with them. Thought it was fabulous. And his football team is a tremendous football team, so, you know, everything you look at with Pat Fitzgerald is really good. Admire him.”

Watching them on film, what impresses you most about their defense?

“Athletic. Mike Hankwitz does a great job. They react as athletic and fast as anybody we’ve seen. No. 18 [Anthony Walker] is as good a player as we’ve faced, so all those things. Really good scheme. Great team defense. Leading the country in points allowed. I think that’s the thing mainly is this team reacts and flows to the ball as good as you’re going to see in college football.”

Going back to the reference of sizing up Pat Fitzgerald, with the defense of Northwestern No. 1 and you guys right behind them, have you given this a lot of thought as far as [being] a battle of the defenses? Is this a big game in your mind for both defenses, yours particularly?

“Well, that’s part of it, yeah. Offense, special teams; all equal parts of the game.” 

But given the ranking for both defenses, do you feel like it’s a bout or-

“No, the two defenses won’t go against each other. They won’t face each other, so look at it the way you always look at it: it’s three phases, and you want to win each of those phases.”

[After THE JUMP: “I’m paraphrasing here, but how many hits can you take and keep coming back? So pull up that clip. Sylvester Stallone did it well.”]


I'll Believe In Anything; You'll Believe In Anything

I'll Believe In Anything; You'll Believe In Anything Comment Count

Brian October 5th, 2015 at 12:24 PM

10/3/2015 – Michigan 28, Maryland 0 – 4-1, 1-0 Big Ten


fight or fliiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaargh [Patrick Barron]


"I mean ... there were a couple plays where they got first downs. We've got to look at that and correct it. They shouldn't have anything."

-Maurice Hurst

"I BELIEVE" seems like one of the most fun things to say at full bellow. You are in thrall to whatever it is you are busy believing in. You are ejecting spittle that contains within it the virus that will pass the belief on to those blessed by its impact. You have left the constellation of niggling doubts and pressing issues behind for at least three syllables. It sounds like a good time.

With neither Catholics nor Michigan fans prone to bare-chested, cloth-rending proclamations of that sort, I haven't had many opportunities to test this theory out personally. Once I when I was a teenager I ended up in a place where super serious teenagers were hanging out and speaking in tongues and the like. Yes, the reason was a girl. No, it didn't take.

But anyway in the aftermath I have occasionally found myself lingering on late-night exploitative religious television with equal parts scorn, sympathy, and jealousy. While the pompadour'd reverend is immediately repulsive, I get the flock's desire.

Just give me a sign, Lord. Just give me a sign. I will take this sweaty dude's earpiece radio telling him details from the card I filled out. I'll take anything. My God, this dude is sweaty. That wasn't directed at you, necessarily, Lord. You probably know about the sweaty guy already. Sorry.

Just give me a sign.

He is really sweaty though.


Here is what this game was like: Michigan punched in the first touchdown of the game early in the third quarter. When Maryland got the ball back, the play by play announcer gamely attempted to maintain the general public's waning interest by noting it was "just a two score game."

Unless it's the Big Ten West you're talking about, in modern college football you don't have to say that in the third quarter. You don't have to say it until there are about five minutes left, and that's only if someone's out of timeouts.

Baylor and Texas Tech were a couple hours away from trading 45 minutes of haymakers before falling over in an exhausted heap. Tennessee hired Mike DeBord and now specializes in blowing three-score leads. Indiana—Indiana minus its starting tailback and quarterback!—took three separate Ezekiel Elliott uppercuts and still staggered its way back to attempt a potential game-tying drive. They got a 79-yard touchdown run from that quarterback made out of popsicle sticks. Their attempt to tie only ended because a relatively obvious pass interference call in the endzone went unnoticed.

Indiana. Indiana's bench.

These days a two score lead in football is slightly more meaningful than one in basketball, but you could be forgiven for forgetting that during any particular Big 12 game. Anyone turning off a game because two scores separate the sides is ravenously hungry and can't turn on the toaster and the TV without blowing a fuse or has something seriously wrong—like Lions fandom—with them.

Not right now, not against Michigan. If you find yourself two scores down against Michigan it's time for a priest and a eulogy. "BYU: at least they're already saved." "Maryland: if you pay really close attention you can tell they tried."

I mean, maybe not forever. Anything this good is bound to regress to the mean and get various holes poked in it and fall over breathing heavily. This isn't even typical Michigan fan bleating, it's just a fact. The ultimate fact of the universe is entropy. Ask Ohio State, currently struggling to nose ahead of MAC teams and Indiana after returning almost literally everyone of importance from a team that blitzed Oregon and Alabama to end last year. Ask the water on Mars. Ask Devin Gardner. Chaos reigns.


Michigan now faces back-to back undefeated top 15 opponents. A year ago this would have been time to stock up the bunker and wait for the bombs to fall. Even when the Harbaugh Hail Mary was gloriously completed, we collectively told ourselves we were going to keep expectations on the level. Hopes stopped at "this is a nice 8-4 season that feels very nice and also like football mostly."

It's dumb to go past that even now. Reasonable expectations are a nice thing to have. The poison of ridiculous ones is evident down the road. I've been here before, latching on to the things that seem good and saying maybe it'll happen this time. I have gotten naught but misery for my troubles.

But each three and out, each time a Michigan defensive lineman shoots through a gap he should not be able to pierce, each bewildered quarterback throwing a ball he sort of hopes is complete but mostly just wants out of his hand—all of it sucks me closer to the event horizon. Within it all reason is lost and the future is a horde of pending victims in our war against the galaxy.

Outwardly I am still too Michigan to cry it out, the thing that is fun to say. But on third and long—and there is always a third and long—my eyes dance with blood. Just give me a sign, Lord.


Also, the BTN profiled Amara Darboh:



Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

Now named! Named like so because this is the nicest thing Harbaugh can say about you.

you're the man now, dog

#1 Desmond Morgan was actually relevant this week. He was also terrific, with a difficult diving interception on a deflected pass, two pass breakups besides, and nine tackles.

#2 Maurice Hurst edges out the rest of the defensive line with two ultra-badass TFLs, one a sack on a three man rush, one an extremely similar play where he dumped the RB in the backfield.

#3 Blake O'Neill delicately located two punts inside the five, had a 59-yarder, and was extremely important for field position in a field-position-heavy game.

Honorable mention: All defensive persons. Drake Johnson. Jake Butt. The offensive braintrust.

KFATAotW Standings.

5: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State)
3: Jake Butt (#1 Utah), Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV), De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland)
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU), Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland).
1: Willie Henry (#3 Utah), AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland)

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Jehu Chesson gets loose on a jet sweep and puts a Maryland safety in an early grave before outrunning the other guy to the endzone.

Honorable mention: Perfectly called Drake Johnson screen goes for touchdown; perfectly called Jake Butt screen goes for 44 yards; every defensive play except about six.


Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.


This week's worst thing ever.

A Jake Rudock NO NO NO YES throw hits Sione Houma in the hands and bounces up to a defender, thus prolonging the first-half slog significantly.

Honorable mention: Even though Michigan got it back, Ty Isaac's second fumble felt a lot like a promising guy eating bench for half a season. Also Isaac's first fumble.


Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.

[After THE JUMP: sad ghost rudock, tuff ghost defensive line]


One Frame At A Time: UNLV

One Frame At A Time: UNLV Comment Count

Ace September 22nd, 2015 at 3:05 PM

I've coped with the "no cheering in the press box" rule by laughing at the absurd. This happened often when Denard Robinson played quarterback; since then, not so much.

I laughed maniacally at this.

[Hit THE JUMP for thunderous hits, great cornerback play, a long touchdown run(!), and Yip Yips.]


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Utah

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Utah Comment Count

Brian September 9th, 2015 at 3:06 PM

Upon Further Review has a sponsor!


UFR is the ur content of MGoBlog. We've had sponsor offers in the past, but they were never the right fit. This is the right fit. Longtime reader and MGoBlog supporter Matt Demorest started Homesure Lending on the same principles as Upon Further Review: chart the information that's out there, and try to turn it into sense.

As a mortgage broker he has the flexibility to get the right lender and right pricing structure, and as a small niche outfit for Southeast Michigan he doesn't have to charge much to get you the right deal. He refinanced my house and Seth's house, and I was really happy about my rate until I heard Seth's rate. He bought everyone drinks at Ashley's last week. This was an undertaking.


He's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent the entire game in nickel save for scattered snaps in a dime package with three safeties (Hill, Thomas, Wilson) on it. Their first drive they came out in an odd front featuring the buck as a standup end:

30 nickel press

Either they weren't happy with the play there or it was just a stunt, because after the first drive Michigan spent most of the rest of the day with an even four-man front:


On occasion they'd do this or something similar with a standup end; this pinched formation saw a hard line slant that got Wormley through for one of his impressive penetration plays:

nickel even tight press

And that was about it. Michigan spent the entire game with one very deep safety—generally 15 or more yards off the LOS; sometimes they'd offer a two high look but they always came down with one or the other presnap.

PERSONNEL NOTES: Line was mostly Henry/Glasgow/Wormley/Ojemudia. Matt Godin got the most time of any backup, spotting both Wormley and Henry frequently and pretty effectively. Charlton played a reasonable number of snaps behind Henry as well. Maurice Hurst was mostly a passing down sub for Glasgow; he did get a few standard down snaps. RJS saw a little bit of time.

At linebacker it was mostly Morgan and Bolden. Gedeon got a drive; Ross got a couple. Secondary was Lewis/Peppers/Wilson/Hill 100% of the time and a mix of Stribling and Clark at the last spot. Thomas got some snaps in the dime package.

[After THE JUMP: battling a very spread out spread]


Preview 2015: Defensive End

Preview 2015: Defensive End Comment Count

Brian August 31st, 2015 at 4:57 PM

Previously: Podcast 7.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive Tackle.


[Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart

Chris Wormley Jr.* Ryan Glasgow Jr.* Willie Henry Jr.* Mario Ojemudia Sr.
Taco Charlton Jr. Maurice Hurst So.* Matt Godin Jr.* Lawrence Marshall Fr.*
Tom Strobel Jr.* Brady Pallante Fr.* Jabrill Peppers Fr.* Royce Jenkins-Stone Sr.

Whether Michigan's DJ Durkin defense is a 3-4 or a 4-3 is in the eye of the beholder. This beholder says it's a 4-3 under again with a weakside end who is a bit more likely to line up in a two point stance or drop into coverage than before. But he's still Dante Fowler, who's a dang end.

Adam did yeoman work with Royce Jenkins-Stone to get some kind of confirmation of this. First:

In your words, describe the Buck position in coach Durkin’s defense.

“Uh…exciting. Exciting.”

Hmm. Not quite specific enough.

Is it fair to say that it’s essentially a stand-up defensive end who can also do the things a linebacker might do?


Okay.  Maybe we can get him to say more than one word at a time.

So you’re going to rush the passer and drop into coverage too?

“Yes, and I’m going to put my hand in the dirt, too. Just depends on the type of formation.”

/confetti drops from sky

So we'll leave these previews as they are. Michigan's running Mattison's defense from the first three years. It's not like any of the DTs are liable to be unmovable two-gap mountains anyway.

By the way, this is the most alarming bit of the defense, and it's not all that alarming.


Rating: 3


Ojemudia is still learning how to smile [Eric Upchurch]

Michigan has no proven options and only one guy who's got much touted-recruit upside left, but they should have someone who's at least solid. Prepare thyself for the last Ojemudia Death Stare Compilation.

9273142[1]4_27191[1]MARIOOJEMUDIA10MP150[1]TT Harrison Football 1images[1]f4f8f797-5598-e011-a486-001cc494a4ac_original[1]


MARIO OJEMUDIA is now a senior and is nominally ahead of the pack at WDE. This is going to be a platoon unless someone emerges; the bet here is that Ojemudia drives his coaches less crazy, especially early, and gets the most at-bats. He's seen the field on the regular for three straight years now, ascending to a starting spot once Frank Clark got booted. In that time he established that he's not the kind of tailback-leaping, OL-discarding athlete Clark was, but he's got his share of assets.

Ojemudia's a smart, disciplined player. He's excellent at splitting the difference on zone reads; by doing that he prevents them from escaping outside and remains relevant.

Multiple times last year he was the guy the zone is supposed to read and he made the tackle. That's good eats. Against Maryland he was heady enough to make a critical fourth and short stop when the Terrapins rushed to the line for one of those catch-you-off-guard QB sneaks. In general, whenever Clark would do something that caused his coaches to pull their hair out they'd throw Ojemudia out there for a bit and he would get that particular assignment correct.

Pass rush is the thing everyone is worried about. I neither can or want to dispel that entirely. Ojemudia did not have the same kind of impact Frank Clark did. (As the NFL reaction to Clark indicates, his stats badly underrated his play. Clark was robbed of a ton of sacks by poor lanes from the DTs and bad coverage by Blake Countess.) On occasion last year his lack of size and strength saw him blown down the line or pancaked in a way that Clark never suffered, because Clark was 280.

But he's not a total non-entity. He had 3.5 sacks and 7.5 TFLs; not a bad total for a guy who spent much of the season locked behind a really good player. When he did emerge into a starter he made a reasonable impact:

He had another sack against Northwestern, and got a shout out from either Maryland or Ohio State in Mike Spath's annual Big Ten Media Day column:

On Michigan's defensive linemen: "The best kid they had was the kid that took over for Frank Clark [Mario Ojemudia]. We knew next to nothing about him because he was only getting 10-15 snaps per game and wasn't doing much but he was really hard to block and was in our backfield a lot. …

"I don't know what the plan is for him this year but [Ojemudia] is the guy that I think can be really good."

Chatter has actually focused on the two other guys competing for this spot, and both of them will play. The most likely outcome here is a platoon featuring Exciting Guy and Boring Guy; I don't know who Exciting Guy is. I do know who Boring Guy is.

And that's fine. Ojemudia's kind of like a defensive end version of Jake Rudock. That's a worse deal at DE, were a "game manager" is just a guy who doesn't pressure the QB much. But it's not the worst thing.

[After THE JUMP: Ghostly promise and a large man]


Media Day Interviews: Greg Mattison

Media Day Interviews: Greg Mattison Comment Count

Adam Schnepp August 14th, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Previously: Jim Harbaugh, DJ Durkin, Kyle Kalis, Brian Cole, Chase Winovich, Drake Harris,Jabrill Peppers, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Willie Henry, Jourdan Lewis, Wyatt Shallman, James Ross III


[Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Greg Mattison returns in 2015, and though he’ll be working in a different capacity he inherits a line of which he was one of the chief architects. He talked about the functional differences (and similarities) between the 4-3 and 3-4 and the progress his linemen have made over the summer at last week’s Media Day.

[I jumped into the scrum mid-response]

“You know, one thing [is] you don’t get around the kids much in the summer. I saw him [Lawrence Marshall] today [and] I said, ‘What do you weigh?’ He looks great. All our kids- Kevin [Tolbert] did a tremendous job in the weight program and all our kids worked extremely hard whenever I had a chance to pop my head in and take a look.”

DJ said you guys are going to be multiple. How much of a challenge is that for your defensive linemen?

“It’s not. It’s not. You know, when people talk about different schemes it really comes down to techniques. You can call it anything you want; one time you play a five-technique, one time you play a four, one time you play a three. You’ve got to learn them all.”

Do you like the depth and talent that you have up front?

“Yeah, I definitely do. These kids, we’ve been together for a long time. These guys have played a lot of football and maybe before they should’ve, but now they’re bigger, stronger, and older. Now it’s our job to get them to be as good as they can be.”

You guys have used Taco [Charlton] at a couple different spots his first couple years. He’s played some here and there. He’s a junior now. What does he have to do to really [inaudible]?

“I think he’s got to keep working on his technique. He’s a guy coming out of high school that really wasn’t a defensive lineman, so I think you’ve got to continue to take the technique with the strength. Add both of those together. And he makes flashy plays, [he] makes good plays. Now he’s got to do that consistently.”

[After THE JUMP: ways the 4-3 and 3-4 are the same]


Practice Bits: Defense

Practice Bits: Defense Comment Count

Brian March 19th, 2015 at 1:13 PM

3-4, 4-3, etc etc

I've said this before and I'll probably say it again several times before the season starts: Michigan is not likely to be moving to a traditional 3-4 system. Nor will they spend a lot of time implementing a traditional 3-4 to mix in with a 4-3. The time commitment to do so is prohibitive at the college level, and the kind of personnel who can effectively do both are too rare.

So what's with all the discussion about moving to a 3-4? It comes from the top, as this Sam Webb interview with Marcus Ray indicates:

Sam Webb: Michigan is telling kids that they are going to be basically 50/50 as far as 3-4, 4-3.  As best you can without having a visual aid or a grease board, explain to people, how that will come to pass and why Michigan is saying that, why that makes sense.

Ray describes the 4-3 under as something that could be looked at as a 5-2…


Brennen Beyer, the stand-up SAM in this picture, bounced between SAM and DE for his career

…and says that a 3-4 can look a lot like the under. Both accurate, and as I've mentioned before you can look at the under as a defense halfway between the traditional Miami-style 4-3 even/over and a 3-4.

But I think the distinction here is a bit of a red herring. I asked Spencer Hall what Florida ran last year and he replied it was a 4-3 with a standup end (Dante Fowler); my observations of the Florida defense rarely encounter a nose tackle lined up directly over the center. He's almost always in a gap.

Could it shade to a 3-4? Sure, I guess. Why would they do that? There are two reasons:

  • To run a 3-4! Obviously.
  • To disguise their 4-3. Gap-sound unpredictability is a major goal of all defenses. Putting a nose tackle over the center gives him an advantage if he's going to slant one way or the other, but the idea is still the same: get in a gap.

Ray explains:

"If you line up in that A gap or that center believes that they know you have this gap then it is easier for them to block you because you‘re more of a standing target, they know what gap you’re responsible for, but in that 30 front, you can slant and angle in either way.  They don’t know which gap you are responsible for and they have to guess and try to figure it out once the ball is snapped, but it gives the D-lineman the flexibility to go either way.  And then let the truth be told, in that same 30 front, if you have a noseguard that is lined up right over the center and he slants to the strong side, then that is technically going back to under.  If that noseguard slants to the weak side, in the weak side A gap, then that technically puts you in an over front, because the entire front has to shift along with him, so now that gives you some 4-3 flexibility from a 30 front if you just slant and angle, it puts you right into a 4-3 defense.”

If you believe that Ryan Glasgow will hold the nose tackle job, a 30 front featuring him is an undeclared 4-3. Michigan doesn't have a Nix or a Gabe Watson to hold down the middle of that defense and two-gap the center unless Ondre Pipkins goes from afterthought to superstar in his final year or Bryan Mone is terrific as a sophomore.

Michigan may run a bunch of different fronts but at its heart the defense is probably a 4-3. And judging from Florida last year it's not going to seem that much different than Mattison's fronts.

Defensive Line


Lawrence Marshall is a name to watch. [Bryan Fuller]

Anyway this is all a lead-in to an assertion that for now I'm still assuming Michigan has a traditional 4-3 look this fall and I won't be changing up the nomenclature yet.

If and when we get enough data to do so it looks like the first change will be at WDE, which Florida folks sometimes call "drop end." Reports hold that Mario Ojemudia and Lawrence Marshall are frequently in a two point stance—something Marshall had never done and was taking some time adjusting to—this fall. Again, this gives the impression of a 3-4. In my mind it's taking the Mattison 4-3 under a half-step towards a 3-4 but whatever.

Marshall is doing well. His athleticism stands out and he's already about as big as Ojemudia. Ojemudia had to put on a bunch of weight and topped out around 250; unfortunately he hasn't displayed the explosiveness he had in high school at the bulkier number. A platoon is certain… unless Marshall wrests the job away and Ojemudia is again called upon to be a guy who plays spot downs to rest the starter. Michigan is trying out the occasional linebacker there as well, with Royce Jenkins-Stone the most prominent.

The other three spots have seen a ton of rotation, some of it involuntary. Injuries have held out big chunks of the line for a practice or three. When present, Willie Henry has been impressive. Chris Wormley is playing SDE again($), which makes sense given the depth chart (especially with Henry Poggi trying his hand at TE, and double especially if Michigan is moving back to more of an under). 4-3 under SDE is a better fit for him, as he can be that RVB type with a bit more pass rush.


There's as of yet no movement away from the presumed lineup of senior starters: Ross, Morgan, Bolden. With Greg Mattison still around I'm not surprised. 247 does mention a competitor to the presumed starters($):

[Ben] Gedeon has popped out early as a potential contributor in this year's defense. He has potentially the best combination of size, athleticism and intelligence at the position and it might turn into a situation where it's difficult to keep him off the field. For the second straight season, linebacker may be Michigan's deepest position, so if he stays on the field consistently, it will be because he's turned into a good to great player.

Scout also mentioned Gedeon as a potential breakout performer.

True junior Gedeon is a prime member of Team Why U No Redshirt who needs to start making an impact now. Michigan has rotated extensively in the past—not so much last year—and I expect he'll get playing time almost in line with the starters.

That is about all the chatter, with Ross/Bolden/Morgan the presumed starters. They look good when the DL isn't having them catch blocks all day, which has been something of an issue since a lot of guys have been out.


There have been plenty of reports on Jabrill Peppers, who is looking like the Jabrill Peppers everyone dreamed about when he committed. Peppers bounces from safety to nickelback and looks like Jabrill Peppers should. He is taking ownership of his unit even as a sophomore:

"He's a high energy, high motor guy and he's going to talk trash," Countess said last week. "And he's going to get everybody going. He's been one of those guys you want on the field.

"Even if he has a bad play, he's going to let you know. And if he has a good play, he's definitely going to let you know."

Countess loves the energy and the intent. But when asked if there is ever a time when he'd like to have the ability to quiet his younger teammate, he's quick with an answer.

No way.

"I love it," he says with a smile. "He says the stuff that I don't say, but everybody's thinking."

As Michigan State demonstrated last year, one of the most important positions on the field as an aggressive defense going up against spread offenses is the slot-side safety. He often gets tested deep in cover four.

It'll be interesting to see how Michigan aligns. I'm guessing Peppers just gets the field side as they rely on the restricted space to help Jarrod Wilson out. An observer from the coaching clinic did note that Peppers is usually "aligning to pass strength," so that is encouraging in terms of keeping Wilson in a FS-ish role he's comfortable with and maximally utilizing Peppers's skills.

Jourdan Lewis is also drawing consistent praise. He was Michigan's #1 corner by midseason last year, passing both Countess and Taylor; it sounds like he has picked up where he left off plus a little bit of tackling strength. With Blake Countess set to be a four-year starter the top four guys in the secondary are pretty set. The main question is: can Countess bounce back from some rough times last year and play man to man? 247 has heard he is in "lockdown" mode, so there's that. I'm reserving judgment.

Freddy Canteen is getting a few reps at CB, so… that's odd. Harbaugh loves flipping guys around to see what they can do, and Canteen is a guy who could theoretically be a good corner. Doubt it sticks, but whatever.


H4: The Burned Redshirts in Order of Argh

H4: The Burned Redshirts in Order of Argh Comment Count

Seth March 10th, 2015 at 12:53 PM


I realize Strobel got one. Find a better photo then, pickers of nits.

This has to be talked about. Hoke left a roster that was in relatively good shape considering all the highly rated players who had to stick through some awful program degradation. He signed good classes, and those classes have by and large stuck around and fulfilled their academic duties. But an inordinate amount of them inexplicably didn't redshirt, and because of this there are some holes on the horizon.

I'm sure there are explanations in many of these cases that we are not party to. It's only the sheer volume of head-scratching non-redshirts under Hoke that gives us reason to call all of them into question. Like how I'm sure there are legit medical hardship waivers that occur at Alabama but [graph].

Some guys the coaches were forced to play early, and there's no need to discuss them beyond a mention as such, e.g. Jabrill Peppers. Mason Cole outcompeted a pile of guys to start at left tackle last season. That sort of thing gets a full pass. Beyond that, I've broken each Hoke class into categories of increasing argh:

  • WTF. Wasting redshirts on special teams and dime back when last year's dime back is on the bench.
  • Pick ONE. Needed bodies at this position, but not all the bodies. Battles for 2nd on the depth chart should be resolved in time for the ultimate loser to have a 5th year as consolation.
  • Need the dudes (and other things I don't blame on the coaches). Immediate starters or guys who played because Michigan sorely needed his body and his pulse at that position.

Names that should have redshirted are in red.

Class of 2011


Did you really need both, 2011? [Upchurch]

Hoke arrived to an offensive machine with two years of eligibility remaining, and a nightmare defense of guys who couldn't displace recent departures like Jonas Mouton, Ray Vinopal, Adam Patterson, Greg Banks, and James Rogers. The immediate need was obvious and Hoke rightfully set about recruiting freshmen who could fill those roles. So I'll give him a pass for some of it.

Hollowell's 2011 contribution was more than scooping up a fumbled kickoff against VT, but it was also more than Ray Taylor's. [Melanie Maxwell|AnnArbor.com]

Wtf: None.

Pick ONE

Raymon Taylor and Delonte Hollowell. The year following the Never Forget defensive backfield, Hoke recruited five likely cornerbacks: Blake Countess, Raymon Taylor, Delonte Hollowell, Tamani Carter (redshirted, transferred before 2012), and Greg Brown (early enrollee, transferred before 2011 season). The roster still had J.T. Floyd, Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott (left program summer before 2012 season), available. In a pinch, Troy Woolfolk could have converted back when Thomas Gordon won the free safety job. At least one, and probably two true freshmen would have to play.

It immediately became apparent that one would be Countess. So to fill out the two deep they would need to burn Taylor or Hollowell's shirt. Hollowell arrived as the quintessential Cass Tech mite corner. The guy was 164 pounds, but saw some action at dime back vs. Nebraska, and recovered the fumble at the end of the first half. Taylor had two tackles and a personal foul.

Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark. Going into the season Beyer was a SAM and Clark a WDE. The difference between those positions in Michigan's 4-3 under was not very great, particularly because when Beyer was inserted it was for a 5-2 look. The WDE's depth chart was Craig Roh and Jibreel Black; SAM was Jake Ryan and Cam Gordon. The reason I say one would have played anyway is the rush end position has a lot rotation, and Black was already the starter in the nickel formation.

There wasn't much to differentiate the two in aggregate play; Beyer was the more consistent, Clark the more explosive. The coaches chose to have them compete through the year instead of preserving one. Had they done so Beyer was the obvious choice despite Clark's higher ceiling. Beyer was smaller and Michigan had Roh to be a more solid edge defender, but only Clark to be a merchant of chaos (remember the Sugar Bowl interception). On the other hand Frank had a rough history before Glenville, and could have used an adjustment season. Either way he would have been dismissed after last year's incident.

Needed dudes etc.

Blake Countess and Desmond Morgan won starting jobs on the 2011 defensive reclamation project. They also both would lose a season to injury so we have them back yay. Thomas Rawls I'm not broken up about, though he will be a pretty good MAC back this year. RBs usually have most of the "it" they ever will as freshmen, and if they do become long-term starters the toll it takes on their bodies means they're often better off moving through their careers early. A redshirt year can make a guy a better blocker, or put some distance between a good back and his heir, or let a smaller guy fill in. Matt Wile is a special pass even though they wasted his redshirt on kickoff duties (and punting during Hagerup's first suspension). I learned recently that Wile made it clear from the start he intended to graduate in four years and do engineering things.

[Save your anger for after the jump.]