Unverified Voracity Settles For Usher

Unverified Voracity Settles For Usher

Submitted by Brian on August 17th, 2017 at 12:28 PM

What, you couldn't get Ginuwine? Swoons are in order!

No, you're only embedding this so you can use the "Jim Harbaugh's sick beats" tag.

A Michigan soccer blog. Early days for Michigan Soccer Now, but if you've been frustrated that we don't cover M soccer much since it overlaps with football, they're off to a promising start. Here's a roster overview for the upcoming season.

Get ready for a lot of Fox. I'm still a little leery of FOX broadcasting a bunch of Big Ten games because their coverage feels somehow wrong. I can't explain why. They've cut back on the robots and band shots but it doesn't feel that college-y, I guess?

It matters not, we will be watching it this fall:

Fox and FS1 will be the home of 24 – 27 football games, nine of which will be aired in primetime. Fox will air the football championship game every season.

You’ll see 39-47 men’s basketball games on Fox/FS1 with as many as ten aired on Fox.

Fox will have the first priority of games for much of the football season, although ESPN will get first pick in some weeks. It means you’ll see games like Ohio State-Michigan on Fox rather on ABC.

Michigan is going to be a first pick many weeks. If that means we get Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt or anybody and Spielman I'm totally cool with that. 

Metagame moves. Ian Boyd on "confuse and clobber," which is a pretty good name for Harbaugh's approach even if he's not talking about Michigan directly in this piece except when he's referencing Michigan's comical lack of preparation back during the Horror. The bit relevant to the modern day:

The main idea with this style of offense is to use a variety of formations, sweeps, and multiple ball carriers to obscure the fact that the offense is ultimately just blocking a few base run schemes and to provide easy constraints for the offense to punish the defense with. Rather than using the option, the spread, or the passing game to protect the base runs the offense uses confusion.

Maximizing a market inefficiency

It used to be that when people thought about prototypical football players they thought of guys like running backs and fullbacks. Elite, physical runners and big, burly blockers who lived for the contact of the game. But nowadays the game is increasingly dominated by QBs that can process and make decisions under fire and then deliver the ball down the field through the air to receivers who are processing and making decisions on the fly.

It’s not too terribly difficult for a program like Appalachian State or NC State to load up with multiple solid running backs, nor to find blocking fullbacks and tight ends. It’s even possible to find really good ones because they no longer have as much value at the bigger universities that are only looking for TEs that can run routes.

There could probably be some advantage gained by recruiting good tailbacks and then using something like the I-formation, which is no longer common at all, to feed them the ball. That and great defense is more or less how San Diego State has been winning the Mountain West the last few years. However, that’s not what these teams are doing. Instead they’re utilizing even more old school sets like the old Wing-T combined with modern shotgun, pistol, and spread-option tactics to feature multiple ballcarriers at the same time.

Michigan hasn't been going as far as the schools mentioned in this piece, but they've shown little bits and pieces. This was more prominent last year when the T-formation showed up against Maryland and the second ballcarrier was a fullback taking a trap 30 yards; last year the relative unsuitability of the fullbacks meant that on anything except a one yard dive there was only one potential ballcarrier.

I'll be interested to see if that changes this year. The current vibe is that Michigan's going to look like more of a passing spread, but the versatility of Evans and Isaac—while still currently hypothetical—gives them some options to have two potential ballcarriers on the field simultaneously without removing the possibility of having four efficient receivers in the pattern.

Somewhat boring anonymous coach quotes. SI surveys rivals about the top 25 teams and gets a rather tepid set of responses for Michigan. The most interesting bit is further confirmation that Don Brown will get after you:

They’re so aggressive on defense, whether they’re playing man coverage or in their zone packages and third-down stuff. Don Brown is the most aggressive defensive coordinator I’ve seen in a long time. That system has worked for him for 25 years and he keeps tweaking. Now he’s got a lot of high-level talent and depth. You can get some chunk plays against them because of all the man coverage, but you’ve got to finish drives. They’re stingy in the red zone.

This year will be an acid test for the secondary and Brown's approach. Also in things you already knew stated anonymously, Rashan Gary "will be an All-American."

That is good. John Beilein gets shots up. They are good shots:

That's good news! The bad news: they only got 23% their shots there, which was 346th nationally. They finished with the 7th-highest eFG%, though, so we'll let it slide.

Jabrill is good. Surprise. The Ringer talks to Jabrill Peppers about his weirdly insulting draft process:

He said that “88 percent” of teams hammered him for playing too many positions in his college career and not playing his eventual NFL position—safety—enough. (For his part, Peppers said he doesn’t regret where he played because his Wolverines won a lot of games during his tenure.) A typical conversation with teams during predraft meetings, Peppers told me, went like this: “They said, ‘You do everything. You’re here, you’re here, you’re here. We’re going to play you at one position. How can we be sure that you’re going to master this position?’”

You'd think they'd ask Harbaugh about that, and Harbaugh would have sworn up and down that Peppers would pick it all up. He had one year in Don Brown's system and played both safety and SAM. I mean, cumong man.

A couple corrections to the Florida suspensions. When I posted about the seven guys who will miss the Michigan game I said they wouldn't be impactful outside of Antonio Callaway. Florida's 24/7 site has some additional details. Kadeem Telfort was apparently in the two deep:

Telfort was one of the players that Florida was hoping it could rely on as a key backup at tackle after he enrolled early this spring. He had put together a decent start to fall camp and appeared to be the next guy up at tackle. …Florida's fine if it can stay healthy at tackle against Michigan. If not? Things get dicey very, very quickly.

And don't expect there to be much impact on UF's DE play:

The good news is defensive end is Florida's deepest position. CeCe Jefferson, Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga have been three standouts on the edge, while Antonneous Clayton has also shown promising signs of development.

The right tackle gets thrown into the fire against those dudes.

Quinn Hughes is going to be good. A friend has been taking in the USA WJC camp currently going on in Plymouth and reports back that Hughes already looks like a first-pairing defensemen for them. Michigan Hockey Now interviewed him:

The coaches have certainly noticed his skating abilities – “yeah, I think I’ve always been a pretty good skater” – and his comfort level in all three zones. The fact that he grew up playing forward certainly didn’t hurt.

“I was a forward until I was 13,” Hughes said. “Just because my dad was a D and everyone in my family was a D, so I just wanted to be a D. That’s why.” …

“I think everyone says bigger and stronger, that’s what everyone says, but just get better at everything,” Hughes said. “Even work on my academics – I’m going there as a student-athlete, so to work on my academics as well. I think just overall as a person, as a hockey player, just get better at everything I can.”

So did NHL.com:

Despite being one of the younger players for the U.S., he's had little problem keeping up with the pace. His effortless skating and poise with the puck has been obvious, and he's also played well defensively.

"Definitely the first couple shifts the first game you have to get into it," Hughes said. "By now everyone is pretty much caught up. I feel like I've played really good competition [last season] so it feels kind of the same thing." …

With the U.S. looking to replace No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins), Hughes could be in line to absorb some of his ice time.

"Offensively absolutely," U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. "Right now we don't have any concerns. The snapshot we have from this week, we're very excited."

He will instantly be the #1 PP QB and probably on the top pairing. Looking forward to it.

Etc.: John Niyo on Michigan's revamped staff. BHGP on the Deadspin SBN thing. Jane Coaston on Colin Kaepernick. Am I a bad person if support NJ.com's petulant FOIA of Michigan's roster? The Stephen A Smith tweets in repose. I did not realize this was an Onion article for about 15 seconds. Coach paranoia is fun.

Mailbag: Stats Love Us, Saban Manball Canary, Substitution Style, Cole Absence, Playcalling Approach

Mailbag: Stats Love Us, Saban Manball Canary, Substitution Style, Cole Absence, Playcalling Approach

Submitted by Brian on October 13th, 2015 at 11:34 AM

computers2[1]

On S&P+

S&P+

Number 3? For the statistically challenged, what do you think of this methodology?

S&P+ is as good as any other ranking system that drills into play-by-play data to get a clearer picture of a football game than scoring margin alone can give you. Bill Connelly, the guy behind it, also runs Football Study Hall. He does a lot of smart things. S&P+ is a valuable look at who is playing the best.

Unfortunately, it can only go on the data that exists and in early-season college football that's always going to be sparse. Meanwhile some folks will dispute lot of the assumptions S&P+ makes, primarily that turnovers are super random and not major factors in the rankings. It also values all games evenly in ways that humans aren't always big fans of. Utah is significantly below Michigan because:

  • the Michigan-Utah game was about even down to down and turned on turnovers
  • Utah did not significantly outgain Utah State or Fresno State
  • Michigan yardage-murdered everyone other than Utah

S&P+ is not trying to be a descriptive ranking (ie: these teams have had the best season so far) but rather a predictive one (ie: if these teams were to meet who would win). Michigan has performed like an elite team so far according to S&P+, and I can see why it thinks that.

FEI, the other major ranking that takes more than score into account*, is more skeptical than S&P, but I think that's because that still bakes some preseason assumptions into the ranking.

*[AFAIK Sagarin only uses the final score.]

Can we manball it when even Saban flees to spread-type behavior?

It seems that Nick Saban has recently admitted that his current style is a bit outdated, that he needs to adjust to the recent trends in college football. It is pretty obvious that teams like OSU, Oregon, TCU, Baylor, even BGSU are seeing a lot of success by utilizing both up-tempo and featuring quick guys in space.

Can you speak to offensive philosophies such as Alabama and Stanford and how this may or may not be a concern for us going forward? I understand that "smashmouth" football is not mutually exclusive with up-tempo and quick guys in space. But it just seems to me that Harbaugh's style doesn't seem to emphasize either of these current successful trends.

Thanks,
UNCWolverine

Given how the season has gone so far I actually think Michigan might occasionally run into the opposite problem. They've been absolutely lights out against six consecutive spread offenses. (Not very good spread offenses, sure, but Michigan isn't holding these guys to 20 points and high-fiving afterwards. They are crushing opponents.) Meanwhile the Harbauffense is winning plays against teams that aren't always comfortable putting heavy D packages on the field or filling all the gaps Harbaugh creates.

Saban's move to a more spread and tempo oriented offense is a reaction to the many times his defense has been blown out of the water by those kind of attacks over the past few years. When the Tide get to line up against one of the remaining "pro style" offenses, the results are generally ugly. Ask Georgia.

Michigan might not have that issue. Durkin seems very comfortable devising ways to neutralize spreads. I will have trepidation when and if Michigan does come up against… well, pretty much just Alabama.

On and off and on and off

Brian or Ace-

Do you know, or, if not, could you ask someone, why Dan Liesman (I think that is who it is, at least according to my Mini-Program; it is #54) comes out a few yards onto the field between plays almost every time when we are on defense. It is as if he is not sure whether he is going in or not, but since he NEVER goes in, it is obviously for some other reason. Is there some rule about substitutions that this relates to, are we trying to confuse the opposition, or does he just like to pretend he might be going in? There has to be a reason, and I would think most MGoBloggers would love to hear it. Thanks

David

We've seen Ross and Gant also do this. It's just a substitution strategy. After the play Michigan sends guys who may or may not be in the defensive package, depending on what the offense does, to about the numbers. (Any farther could get you an illegal substitution penalty.)

If opponents send in two or more blocky-catchy types, the linebacker will stay in and a DB will be removed. Since every team Michigan has played almost never uses two or more blocky-catchy types the LB heads back to the sideline almost all the time.

Liesman specifically is interesting because Michigan usually has Ross available; I haven't noticed if sometimes he is poking his head on the field when Michigan's already in a 4-3. That would imply Michigan has a heavy package in case someone tries to manball them.

Someone was confused.

Mr. Hammond

I wanted you to know how much I appreciate and enjoy your broadcasts of Notre Dame football.  Your kind deference to Our Lady's University is a beautiful expression of the christian love that infuses your broadcast persona.  Thank you so much!  You are a good man.

May God bless you and yours.

Andrew V.

I did flip over to the Notre Dame-UMass game when it was interesting for a minute and heard Hammond's dulcet tones. He's missed.

I assume that guy who made the Tom Hammond tie is in Congress by now.

[After THE JUMP: early drives allowed, Harbaugh's playcalling system, a search for superclusters.]