Hokepoints: The Marlin-Brian Q&A

Hokepoints: The Marlin-Brian Q&A

Submitted by Seth on April 16th, 2013 at 10:43 AM

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photoshoppers, start your GNUs

So we did the meet and greet Q&A thing, and other than the liveblog portion being pretty much a disaster, A+++ would do again. I couldn't type fast enough to keep up with all the good info in the Q&A so below I've written up those answers plus some we answered after the fact via email. logo

We're tentatively talking another one the Friday night before the Notre Dame game, so calendar that. If you're coming in from out of town, Jared of Sports Power Weekends, who sponsored this whole thing, mentioned he's putting together a trip for that weekend that includes tickets for the game and a private tour of the Big House before we do drinks and ALL THE SHANE MORRIS.

Some things went way better than expected and other things not so much. Didn't go well: We had no way to plug our mic into the speaker system, fortunately remembering just in time that bartenders have friends with guitar amplifiers. The other thing that could have gone better is we forgot to warn Brian that Jehu Chesson was in the audience before your favorite blogger launched into his heuristic reasoning as to why Amara Darboh would be more effective this year because Chesson is still a waif.

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New heuristic: Chesson sitting = Heiko standing minus an inch.

Did go well: lots of luminaries showed up. Players current and former included Chesson, Countess, Donovan Warren, and John Duerr. An incomplete list of bloggers: Bryan Mac (aka BiSB), MGoPhotographers Eric Upchurch and Bryan Fuller, Burgeoning Wolverine Star, Lloyd Brady, M-Wolverine, Craig Ross, and LSAClassof2000. Epic shirts: Heiko's bubble screen smile, and a Branch-Morelli sweatshirt.

In things that surpassed all expectations, let me being with actual nicest guy in the universe Marlin Jackson himself. Walking out of the game to his car took about 25 minutes because he signed every hat, helmet, t-shirt or whatever thing put before him. We talked NBA decisions, how the Jake Butt TD was on Jarrod Wilson's as-yet-unadvanced field awareness, and that the biggest difference with this staff is they "teach football."

After being introduced by Brian as "the man who still has Reggie Williams in his back pocket," to kick off the Q&A Marlin talked about his Fight for Life Foundation. He was candid about his youth: Jackson grew up in the projects with a mother addicted to drugs and a father he never met. As you can imagine this isn't the best way to learn things like accountability, the value of an education, or even your own value and that of others. Marlin learned these things through Michigan; it's the goal of his foundation to give similarly underprivileged kids the opportunities he received because of his athletic talents.

Fight for Life runs three programs: Field of Dreams (link) is an in-school and after school program that basically helps get the kids back up to speed with their classmates. Seal the Deal (hyperlink) is a series of leagues and football camps for youth through high school with an educational/character-building component. R.A.P. (reach out and access your peers – url) is an SEL* program that gets kids to open up through, e.g. a discussion of their future aspirations or by presenting a paper on their favorite song lyrics. They need to raise about $200k per year to fund these programs.

fightforlife

* Social and Emotional Learning, the spread offense of education. Full context is linked above but you may cognate as learning that's the opposite of 'Another Brick in the Wall.'

We then talked about things like that one year the Colts paired Manning with a real defense, which receivers were the hardest to cover, and his impressions on the young defensive players at Michigan today. That after the jump. But first here's three generations of next-Woodsons:

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Fuller has a nicer version on the Flickr collection but this one I took on Countess's phone is superior for capturing our new official Robot Ace Anbender headshot.

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[jump]

Unverified Voracity Says Never Mind The New Era

Unverified Voracity Says Never Mind The New Era

Submitted by Brian on August 9th, 2012 at 4:17 PM

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Four years. Phil Brabbs just celebrated four years of existence post-Multiple Myeloma. Here's to forty more.

New era: GTFO. UCF getting a single year of postseason ban for their lack of institution control was exhibit A, and now it seems like that the ever-expanding evidence that UNC football players were in fraudulent classes is not the NCAA's concern:

Going a step further, a report engineered by a faculty committee concluded -- though not yet fully endorsed by the university -- that academic counselors assigned to specific teams perhaps pushed athletes to those baloney classes.

And the NCAA apparently has no jurisdiction in this matter.

Which is why, dear folks in Indianapolis, people just don't get you sometimes.

It would seem to the layman that the intersection of athletics and academic dishonesty is exactly the right spot for the NCAA to step in.

Except, as of right now, there is no indication that the NCAA will revisit or re-examine the penalties it has already inflicted on UNC and its football team for violations related to improper benefits and academic misconduct involving a tutor.

This goes beyond clustering, but UNC is apparently not going to get anything tacked on to their now-standard single year of penance and slight hindrance in the future. Any hopes schools that egregiously break the rules would suffer consequences that would make them hesitate seems gone. Maybe when the new penalties come in, I guess.

Sirius bomb. SiriusXM was on campus a couple days ago and produced a bunch of podcasts for your delectation:

Rick Neuheisel asks some good questions, worth a listen.

Basketball preview things. Eamonn Brennan and Big Ten Wonk take to the pages of ESPN.com to say things about Big Ten basketball. Trey Burke (surprise!) is named Michigan's most important player. Brennan's worst case scenario is better than just about every team Michigan's fielded since the Fab Five:

Worst-case scenario: It's hard to see this team, which is indisputably more talented and almost certain to be more dynamic, somehow not being in Big Ten title contention by the end of next February. But if somehow the Wolverines are merely above average in 2012-13, it could be because they carry over last season's just-OK defensive effort (No. 60 in adjusted defensive efficiency). Or because they lack the breadth of reliable 3-point shooters (Evan Smotrycz transferred, while Zack Novak and Stu Douglass graduated) who have come to define coach John Beilein's two-guard front offense, which relies on 3-point shooting to stretch the floor. I think Beilein will make it work, and I think Michigan will be very tough to beat. But increased success is far from guaranteed.

Mr. Gasaway's bits are Insider'd Power Rankings($). Michigan checks in fourth behind the three teams you'd expect:

I may not be betting on a second consecutive Big Ten title for Michigan, but I love their chances to make it further in the NCAA tournament than they did last time around.

Hopefully that won't be hard. I think Gasaway is a little too down on Iowa, which adds a couple of touted freshmen to a solid core of White/Marble/Basabe and should find themselves breaking their NCAA tourney drought this year. He has them ninth; I'd put them sixth.

Oh, man. Fire Jerry Kill proposes more Penn State shirts produced by that awful "Smack" company responsible for the hur-hur-hur rivalry shirts favored by Larry the Cable Guy enthusiasts everywhere. This one may be based on actual threads from BWI:

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I couldn't wear that ironically, but someone make this and I'll take a dozen:

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Gendo is so getting sued by old Penn State lettermen.

BONUS: Gendo surveys the "#teamoutlaw" twitter phenomenon and comes up with ICP.

DOUBLE BONUS: are you in the market for some appalling comments about the various Penn State transfers? (The comments are in the comments.)

It was expensive while it lasted. Michigan announced a StubHub partnership last year to great fanfare; now, like the Pac 12-Big Ten scheduling accord, it appears we're never to speak of it again. Michigan's now showing up as a "past partner" on the hub:

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Wonder what went wrong. I can't imagine the AD passing up a buck.

FWIW, the StubHub think always struck me as brilliantly nefarious. By giving you printed-out tickets that would invalidate the originally issued ones, they undermined all ticket markets that were not StubHub. If you bought a ticket you had no assurance it hadn't been sold already; if you sold a ticket you had no guarantee it wouldn't be resold twice and get you in hot water when someone complained and they traced it back to you, the person Michigan originally sold the ticket to. The only way to guarantee you got a valid ticket was to buy it off Stubhub. It was evil and brilliant and whoever came up with it got a promotion. Now: kaput. I wonder why.

Further shootin' up the charts. ESPN releases post-summer rankings and both Irvin and Walton get bumps. Irvin's gone from 60th to 21st, on the verge of five stars. Dave Telep explains why:

"Zak was a hunter all summer long," Telep told AnnArbor.com via email Wednesday. "He looked fresh, hungry. He played to his size, looked like he improved his skill. Having said that, we've taken a flier on him.

"I don't think everyone would agree on him this high. We're rolling the dice and monitoring his senior year closely. Obviously we liked what we saw in the summer when compared to his peer group."

Derrick Walton made a smaller move from 40th to 32nd, but hopped over four point guards in the process. Mark Donnall slid but sticks in the top 100 at 97. Telep says Walton and Irvin are in the conversation to get in the McDonald's game.

JLS!

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That is all. Via EDSBS.

Orson on Wright Thompson on Meyer. Another part of the OSU PR offensive comes in an exclusive Wright Thompson sit-down with the Buckeyes' wooden but very, very successful head coach. Spencer Hall on that:

Wright Thompson got the full-access treatment to Urban Meyer, something he's never really granted anyone in a coaching situation, and pretty much nails the weirdass, ciphery personality of Meyer in his longform profile of him. One key point about Meyer is that he was never really likable as a head coach, so it's nice to see that Meyer doesn't even really seem to like himself a whole lot, and really never has.If that's a puff piece we disagree with your definition, but the last paragraph in particular is really, really interesting. <--arches eyebrows, invites literary discussion.

"He's gonna be different," Urban Meyer's wife says, and makes me preemptively sad for her.

Etc.: Michigan Stadium gets two and a half votes for "toughest place to play in the Big Ten." Beaver Stadium gets eight, so they'll be moving up in the 2016 version of this poll. Mark Mangino at OSU practice looks like just another OSU fan. Don't forget to tilt that head, though.

The Black and Blue producers tell the Willis Ward story in the News. The NCAA has to release financial documents to the Ed O'Bannon group. Maize and Go Blue looks at the freshmen numbers and their pasts. Part 1. Part 2.

Unverified Voracity Hires Train Monkey

Unverified Voracity Hires Train Monkey

Submitted by Brian on September 28th, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Brabbs reminder. Chicagoans: Phil Brabbs is having a fundraiser this weekend for the Indiana game, which Michigan will DOMINATE. Offer still stands on the Brabbs shirts, BTW: buy one, get five bucks off a second shirt in the (now severely reduced) MGoStore.

Insane rootability UPDATE! This is quality except for hated non-journalist Melanie Collins(!) introing it:

(Note: last time Melanie Collins was referenced on the blog the comments got very sad; just don't, hokay?)

Also: you've already seen Stonum kick the glasses up a notch this week, but what about Taylor Lewan's insane mustache tattoo?

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The purpose of this:

"I mean it's the best icebreaker in the world. You go up to them," Lewan said, putting his finger in place to reveal the mustache, "'Miss, let's be serious, I just want to dance.'"

You will not be surprised to learn the idea originated in third grade. I mean:

"My friend thought it would be a cool idea to draw a mustache on (his finger)," Lewan said. " I was like 'this is the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. I have to do this for real.'"

I love this team.

Kicking paint. Via a reader:

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Injury watch. Another pair of big injuries hit the Big Ten this weekend, with Purdue QB Robert Marve and Penn State RT Lou Eliades tearing ACLs and getting knocked out for the year. Marve's replacement is a redshirt freshman who will further condemn Purdue to a terrible season; they're now down their top QB, RB, and WR and just lost to Toledo by 11. The Rockets were dead last in total offense going into the Purdue game; they put up 31 points and exceeded their season yardage average by 100. Purdue is bad. Someone should Yakety Sax the upcoming Purdue-Minnesota game.

Penn State winnability watch. Eliades's loss sends Penn State into a further bout of scrambling on the OL. They were already starting two(!) guys who played guard in 2009 at tackle. Now they're going with this guy:

Filling Eliades will be redshirt junior Chima Okoli, who is an offensive lineman for the first time in his career. Okoli was a full-time defensive lineman in high school and at Penn State until spring drills, when he reluctantly shifted to offense.

Penn State's starting tackles are now 6'3" and 6'4", and the position switch starter klaxons are blaring. Linebacker U on the situation:

The offensive line was already having issues before this tragedy. I lost count just how many times I pounded my fist on the bar table today when PSU only had to pick up a yard or two in third down situations and got manhandled by Temple's defensive line. … I am now taking bets on just how many of our linemen are going to join ex-punter Jeremy Boone in getting swallowed by Iowa's Adrian Clayborn next week.

Normally level-headed official-journalist-type-guy Bill Kline also sounds the alarm, albeit about a different position:

Penn State's safeties are just too slow. Drew Astorino and Nick Sukay both got burned on runs, and more than once. Andrew Dailey also was beaten. Terrelle Pryor is gonna eat them up, let alone Denard Robinson of Michigan. Can you imagine those safeties trying to even touch D-Rob? He could outrun those guys wearing a NASA spacesuit.

Yeesh. He also has some critical words for Bolden ("overthrows open receivers, holds onto the ball too long, rifles it in there harder than a sledgehammer") and actually says the PSU coaches should have inserted Kevin "Michigan Fans Are Just Bitter" Newsome at some point against the Owls.

All that sounds like overreaction to me. Even so, the Penn State game has moved into the coinflip-ish band with MSU and Iowa, even at night on the road. I remain terrified of Wisconsin even if Vegas hates them.

The Freude. TWIS is up and has the usual bout of Notre Dame self-loathing. Get your laughs in now since ND's next five games should all be easy wins—Boston College is the toughest opponent in that stretch and they also feature in TWIS because they have a 70-year-old OC named "Tranquill," which is just too easy.

Also featured is TRAIN MONKEY:

I don't even know what this means:

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Fire Mullen Now

Train monkey could have called a better four down set

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Train monkey?

Sullenengineer_medium
via www.richgonzales.com

What?

TRAIN MONKEY FOR WVU OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR.

BONUS! This just came down the NDN crazy pipe:

My mom says it's ok we lost because Stanford is a good team
by KLav18 (2010-09-27 16:03:17)

I want to punch her in the face and tell her that is the whole problem. We can't beat anyone good because we suck.

Is there anything more entertaining than ND Nation after a loss? Yes: Denard Robinson. But that's it.

I admire your enthusiasm. One Indiana fan's opinion of this weekend's game:

Michigan has no chance next week....


their defense doesnt exist. They barely beat an ND that IU could easily handle (ND couldnt dominate PU, which got killed by Toledo. You think Toledo would beat IU??). They barely beat UMass (FCS team?) at home.
They are not going to get 400 yards on IU.... let alone 700 yards.
Michigan are getting full of themselves, again. The BTN is helping.
Chappel will destroy them. Robinson will get some of his yards, but no one else will. And if they are sandbagging his injury, Tate Forcier's parents will have to take down his website after the game.

This is just one guy, obviously. Most other IU fans are hopeful but reasonable, or seem reasonable next to this guy, who also suggests that if the "referines" give Michigan the game again, IU should join the Big 12.

Etc.: Oregon blog Off The Pond finds AP voter John Wilner's secret ballot notes. Wilner is one of two voters to exclude Michigan, and the rest of his ballot does not make the guy out to be a genius. (The other guy not to vote for Michigan is creepy/sad cheerleader groupie Scott Wolf.) Nobody goes to Florida State games. Just 61k showed up for the Wake Forest game; they haven't topped 70k for the last five games. TV Guide droids are changing the storyline.

Of The Decade: Best Plays Part II

Of The Decade: Best Plays Part II

Submitted by Brian on July 30th, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Previously in this series: ESPN Images, Michigan's offense, Michigan's defense, Worst Plays of The Decade 7-11, Worst Plays 1-6, Best Plays Part I.

6. Buffalo Stampede

2003 Minnesota: trailing 14-0, Michigan has driven to around midfield. John Navarre chucks a WR screen to Steve Breaston, who throws it back to Navarre. Forty yards later, we all have beards and Michigan is within seven points.

At some point in the 2003 Minnesota game I needed to get off the couch after something enraging had happened. I was on it with my girlfriend at the time and she sort of ended up on the ground as I executed my plan. The couch was low to the ground, she was unharmed, and in the aftermath the incident seemed funny. At the time all I could do was clench and unclench my fists.

Michigan would eventually deploy an all-shotgun offense in the fourth quarter that shredded Minnesota for 24 points and win the game on a Garrett Rivas 33-yarder, but at the time it was grim. It would have been more grim but for the trick play of the decade:

In the aftermath a friend immediately called me screaming "WHAT." It wasn't a question. It was just "WHAT." That. From seven year's distance it appears to be the slowest, most awkward touchdown convoy in school history.

Eventually it was key in Michigan's comeback win and Rose Bowl berth but really it's just here for its sheer improbability.  It was one thing to run the transcontinental with Drew Henson; doing it with John Navarre—and getting a touchdown out of it—is pure audacity. This, by the way, is why Minnesota bloggers will never do a Worst Plays of the Decade list.

5. In ur base killin ur d00dz

MGoRetro: Pit Bull.

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Penn State, 2006: it's second or third and long or something again, can't remember, doesn't matter, and I'm back in the pocket and I know I'm going to die. My offensive line has proven itself entirely hypothetical at this point. So I'm going to die, and it's not going to have any purpose. But this time I actually get a faint semblance of protection and I manage to find an open receiver—I'd forgotten those even existed—and I hurl it out there. And if Alan Branch hadn't driven his facemask into my shoulder and run through my tiny hoo-man body and left me in a concussed heap on the ground I would have gotten to see a first down. Which would have been nice.

But then I might have had to play the rest of the game instead of getting an emergency cup of pudding repurposed from JoePa's stash. So, yeah. I could go either direction, as long as it's 180 degrees from wherever Branch is going.

When Michigan fans are (unwisely, these days) attempting to tweak their Penn State coworkers this play, and the iconic image from its aftermath, is their go-to option. That's a meaningful statement when you've got most of a decade's worth of gloating to choose from, including another play on this list.

As for the significance of the play, Penn State had bounced back from its early decade malaise in a big way in 2005, going 11-1 with the only loss featured a bit higher on this list. By the time the PSU game rolled around in '06 it was obviously the only thing standing between Michigan and a 1-vs-2 matchup against Ohio State at the end of the season. Michigan's last four opponents would all finish with losing records; the only road game was against Indiana. When Anthony Morelli got blasted out of the game the decks were clear.

More than that, though, Alan Branch being in ur base is emblematic of the first ten games of 2006, when the Michigan defense was 1997 all over again and things were, briefly, back on course.

4. "Oh, wide open"

MGoRetro: Quod Erat Demonstrandum

Notre Dame, 2006: Late in the first quarter, Michigan and Notre Dame are tied 7-7 after exchanging terrible interceptions when Chad Henne drops back to pass and launches one deep. Pat Haden breaks the suspense before the cameraman can catch up to a streaking Manningham by declaring "oh, wide open." When Manningham finally appears he is running under a perfectly thrown ball, all alone.

Michigan entered the 2006 game uncertain of its place in the college football universe after a frustrating 7-5 season this blog nicknamed the "Year of Infinite Pain," if only to highlight how sheltered the Michigan fanbase has been in the aftermath of the last couple years. And if Alan Branch sending Anthony Morelli to his happy place was emblematic of Michigan's run to Football Armageddon, Mario Manningham getting ten yards clear of the nearest Notre Dame cornerback was the moment the Year of Infinite Pain became part of the past:

Manningham would score twice more on deep balls as Michigan leapt out to a commanding lead. They didn't look back until the second quarter of the Ohio State game.

51596685TP006_MichSt_Mich 3. Braylonfest Part III

Michigan State, 2004: Braylon Edwards skies over yet another Michigan State defensive back, tying a game in which Michigan trailed by 17 with under nine minutes to go.

Braylon Edwards was the most frustrating great player in Michigan history, prone to terrible drops on easy throws and legendarily not "on the same page" as Lloyd Carr. But he was great, and never greater than the last eight minutes of regulation in the 2004 Michigan State game. If they gave out Heismans for a single game, they would have had to give Edwards two for this one.

It almost wasn't anything, though. In this game Michigan was driving in the third quarter, down 17-10, when Edwards fumbled around the 20. He was creeping towards the goat side of the ledger when DeAndra Cobb ran That Goddamned Counter Draw again and outran Ernest Shazor to the sideline and the endzone. But when you're down 17 with under eight minutes left, what is there to do other than chuck it up and tell the onside kick team that they should try really hard?

I remember many things about that game. I remember being cold as hell as the game dragged on and the heat fled from the stadium. I remember going over to a friend's house afterward and being told by his roommates that they had actually left immediately after the DeAndra Cobb TD. I remember another friend telling me that a State friend of his had turned the game off as soon as Michigan hit the field goal to get within 14—he didn't even wait for the onside kick. I remember turning around and jovially telling the State fans behind me that it was good that MSU missed their last-second 52-yard field goal attempt to win after a terrible PI call, because if it had gone in there was no way they were getting out of the stadium alive. But mostly I remember the shadows that gave the whole enterprise an otherworldly feel. It's without question the best game I've ever been to.

The pick here is the game-tying touchdown, as at that point victory seemed inevitable and the comeback was complete. Without it, the others are just coulda-been plays like the Mike Hart touchdown in the Horror.

2. Phil Brabbs is absolutely not going to make this field goal

Washington, 2002: Phil Brabbs hits a 44 yard field goal as time expires to beat Washington.

I've interacted with Phil Brabbs a little bit since he came down with cancer and I've read his blog and am wearing his bracelet, so I have a little insight here. The bracelet says DOMINATE and his blog has pictures of him DOMINATING various things from hospital ice cream to IVs to chemo drugs. Sometimes he makes his adorable children DOMINATE things. He's kind of like anthropomorphized Brawndo. So I'm betting that when Brabbs strolled onto the field after a preposterous sequence of events set him up with a potential game-winning field goal in the 2002 season opener, he was totally psyched to dominate himself some 44-yard field goal.

In this, he was utterly alone.

I'm sure his parents and wife tell him that they just knew he'd hit it, but after a career debut in which he missed 36 and 42 yard field goals badly enough for Michigan to send out Troy Neinberg on a 27-yarder that he shanked, no one in Michigan Stadium thought a 44-yard field goal with no time left on the clock was going in. This includes those nearest and dearest to him. I was just hoping it went forward.

Naturally, Brabbs did this:

Dominated.

Though Washington would end up one of the country's biggest disappointments at 7-6, they entered Michigan Stadium a top ten opponent. The moment the kick actually went through the actual uprights and everyone looked at the guy under the crossbar to make sure they hadn't hallucinated it, then looked at the other guy under the crossbar to make sure the first guy hadn't been hallucinating too, promised grand things. (That would fall apart in a ridiculous loss at Notre Dame in two weeks.)

1. The New Math

MGoRetro: The New Math.

Penn State, 2005: With one second on the clock, Mario Manningham catches a deep slant to beat Penn State 27-25. 86 = 1, as Michigan State would learn in 2007.

Why is this number one? It didn't end up mattering, and it was already clear it wouldn't since Michigan was already 3-3 and headed nowhere in 2005. It was the end of a classic game that swung dramatically from one side to the other, but other games were better and meant more.

I think it's that :01 on the clock, the knowledge that that second was precarious, fought for by Lloyd Carr after the clock ran after a Michigan timeout, preserved by Steve Breaston's best Tyrone Butterfield impression, and ironically Joe Paterno's fault for getting his team an extra two seconds on what they thought was their game-winning drive. Michigan was living on borrowed time. It seemed like they'd been given a chance to go back and right wrongs. Scott Bakula was at quarterback.

Meanwhile, Michigan was locked in an existential crisis unknown for decades. The 1984 season could be written off as a fluke since Jim Harbaugh's broken leg threw everything into disarray and Michigan bounced right back afterwards; 2005 was entirely different. Michigan had never been 3-3 in my recollection. My brother and I spent a large chunk of the game being bitterly cynical about everything. We felt justified about it after the killer Henne fumble/botched extra point for two combination. We'd collectively decided to dull the pain by withdrawing emotionally. This was working for a while, and then the team decided to give the middle finger to the cosmic middle finger, getting off the mat twice. The culmination:

In the end, the game served as a reminder that bitterness is no fun, faith is rewarded, the kids on the field are more resilient than we are, and sometimes they can let us borrow some of that. A lot of the plays on this list were diminished by subsequent events in which Michigan failed to live up to the promise they had in that one moment, but this one has been magnified by the awful last couple of years. It promises a light at the end of the tunnel.

Honorable Mention

Drew Henson bootlegs his way into the OSU endzone to seal the win (2000) … Chris Perry puts the OSU game beyond doubt with a slashing bounceout TD to make it 35-21 (2003) … Breaston returns a punt for a touchdown against Indiana … Northwestern … Illinois … etc … Manningham's worm after the ND game (2006) … Chris Perry punches it against Penn State in to seal a win in Michigan Stadium's first OT game (2002) … Ron Zook seals the Outback Bowl by calling a reverse pass that Victor Hobson intercepts (2002) … Alain Kashama beats the Sex Cannon to a fumbled ball in the endzone, finally fulfilling four years of Canadian Reggie White hype (2002 Outback) … Jacob Stewart picks off Asad Abdul-Kaliq in the Buffalo Stampede game and returns it for a touchdown (2002) … Garrett Rivas finishes the Buffalo Stampede game with a field goal (2002) … Chad Henne hits Tyler Ecker for a game-winning touchdown against Minnesota and executes nailcoeds.exe (2004) … Braylonfest Part I … Braylonfest Part II … Braylonfest Part IV … Brian Thompson recovers an onside kick, greatly aiding Braylonfest parts II through IV … Jason Avant's catch against Northwestern (2003) … Marquise Walker's catch against Iowa (2001) … Jerome Jackson pops through a nonexistent hole against Iowa to establish himself useful, then scores the game-winning TD (2005) … the snap sails over Jimmy Clausen's head on the first play of the game (2007) … Michigan cracks open the Battle of Who Could Care Less against Illinois with a reverse pass (2007) … Manningham outruns Justin King to tie Penn State (2005) … Mike Hart drags Penn State tacklers for five of the most impressive eight yards of his career (2005) … Lamarr Woodley kicks off Yakety Sax (2006) … Prescott Burgess returns a Brady Quinn interception for a TD(2006) … Mike Hart levels Sean Lee on a blitz pickup (2007) … Arrington's catch against Florida (2007) … A ludicrous Ryan Mallett decision—pitch it backwards to Carson Butler as he's being sacked—works out (2007) … Steven Threet takes off on a 60-yard jaunt against Wisconsin (2008) … Denard Robinson fumbles the first snap as Michigan's quarterback and WOOPs his way for a touchdown (2009) … Darryl Stonum returns a kickoff for a touchdown against Notre Dame (2009) … Forcier hits Greg Mathews on a circle route to win against Notre Dame (2009) … Tate Forcier hits Martavious Odoms on a perfect seam for the game-winning points against Indiana (2009) … Forcier's mansome final drive in the rain to tie Michigan State (2009) … Brandon Graham demolishes Glenn Winston (2009) … Brandon Graham demolishes Everybody (2009).

Acknowledgements

A major reason this series came together is the tireless effort of Wolverine Historian, who put together video for almost everything on the list. Also a hat tip to parkinggod, who had HD of last year's ND game, and akarpo, who helped out with some of the clipping last year.

Mailbag Is Talkin' Nebraska

Mailbag Is Talkin' Nebraska

Submitted by Brian on June 22nd, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Hey Brian,

Phil Brabbs is going into the hospital for his second stem cell transplant tomorrow, and for the past few weeks they've been trying to hit a goal of 5000 fans for cancerkicker.org, the facebook site of their new Cancer Kicker Foundation. They need 500 more to make it today. Also, I don't know if you've seen their new Dominate fundraising shirt but despite the initial color scheme I think they look pretty good.

Vamos Argentina,
Brett

Yeah… someone please notify Phil that one of the shirt is scarlet and gray? Despite this flaw, support the cause.

Brian -

Now that Nebraska will be joining the conference in 2011, what happens to the schedules?  Teams have already released their schedules for that year, including 4 out-of-conference games and 8 conference games.  I assume the Big Ten schedule will be modified but the other 4 games will be untouched.  Any knowledge on that one?

Chris

The quick insertion of Nebraska into the schedule does pose problems for anyone who was hoping an additional conference game should be added, since just about everyone would have to cancel a tomato-can game, and suck up the penalties that come with that. That's not likely.

As far as revamping the conference schedules, as long as everyone's playing on the same dates it shouldn't be an issue. There's no reason anyone the Big Ten should have to move a bye week, and that's really all that matters. Nebraska might have to cancel or move a game, but that's part of the cost of switching conferences.

Brian,

This article (below) on changes Jimbo Fisher is bringing to FSU made me wonder how much closer UM is to the late Bowden way of doing things than to the Saban / Fisher way of doing things.  Specifically, in terms of ancillary staff and anything else you can do to give your program an edge by (mostly) spending money that most schools don't have, are we in the big leagues, or do we lag behind?  For example, would we find it unseemly to have 9 full-time strength coaches?  How many do we actually have?  How many does OSU have?  That's one metric.  You can probably think of others. 

"We had two full-time strength coaches other than our head strength coach," Fisher said. "We now have eight, and I'm about to hire the ninth guy."

To a fan of a perennial national title contender, this stuff probably doesn't sound revolutionary. It's not, which should help explain how far behind FSU had fallen in the 10 years since the Seminoles won their second national title by going wire-to-wire at No. 1.

I can't find this article any more and never actually posted about  it because it was in my hopper right around the the time the Free Press initiated the jihad, but in August of last year someone* counted up the many coaching-type objects across the country and found that the national champion was none other than Michigan with, I think, 51. (None of whom filed CARA reports.) I started assembling a post about what all these people did, but googling was turning up virtually nothing and I shelved it until the report came out and it became clear that sometimes the people in the jobs themselves weren't sure what they should and should not be doing.

That was an expansion from the Carr days, mostly in the S&C department, but as long as it's legal I don't see why anyone would have a problem with it. The bits of it that are obviously an embarrassment, but presumably those won't be going on any further. If and when the NCAA reigns these spots with legislation, that will be fine, too, but the boat will just leak elsewhere. 

*(Andy Staples at SI maybe? His archive only goes back six months.)

Hello Brian,
 
Since Nebraska entered the Big 10, I was wondering how their recruiting would be impacted, especially now that they don't have as many games in Texas. Also, how will that impact existing Big 10 recruiting territories?
 
Thanks a bunch.
 
Respectfully,
caesar

I don't think it will hurt Nebraska much. There will be some negative effect on Texas recruits who can no longer promise their families that they'll be able to attend a couple of local games per year, but as this space has discussed several times before the true genius of the Big Ten Network and the conference's ESPN/ABC contract is that with very limited exceptions*, every Big Ten football game is broadcast nationally as long as you have satellite TV or buy your cable provider's sports tier.

Decisions are still more likely to be made about quality of education and football program plus reasonable distance to home, in which case Nebraska still loses out to Oklahoma and Texas and beats almost everyone else when it comes to Texas recruits.

A more interesting effect to watch will be how Nebraska's recruiting shifts into Big Ten states, especially Illinois and Ohio. Nebraska has made a more concerted push into Big Ten territory as their walk-on program declined and their national recruiting increased. Last year the pirated IL S Corey Cooper away from Illinois and took OH RB Braylon Heard from WVU; this year they've got a couple OL from Big Ten country and DT Kevin Williams, who Michigan was also hot after.

On the other hand, Nebraska's 2008 and 2006 classes had zero recruits from the Big Ten region and 2007 had one three-star TE from Iowa and a two-star ATH from Cardinal Mooney. It's best for the conference if Nebraska keeps that up, since they'll be bringing in talent from Kansas JUCOs, Texas, Arizona, and California that other Big Ten schools have limited access to.

It's not likely, though, that Nebraska just keeps up their current recruiting and doesn't attempt to exploit their newfound attractiveness to recruits in the Big Ten footprint. They're not likely to win a lot of battles against Ohio State and Penn State. Williams nonwithstanding, if and when Michigan starts being Michigan again they're also not likely to take a bunch of kids away from a Michigan program with more local cachet. But the programs in the Big Ten that depend on talent from Illinois and Ohio that fall past the big guns could suffer at the hands of the Cornhuskers. This would hit Iowa and Michigan State most harshly.

*(Regional night games on ABC and the occasional nonconference road game that doesn't merit national attention in an era when any two BCS teams going head-to-head is a big deal.)

Unverified Voracity Avoids Rake, Steps On Rake

Unverified Voracity Avoids Rake, Steps On Rake

Submitted by Brian on March 2nd, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Yes please. Google is going to turn some city into the future by hooking them up with crazy gigabit fiber lines. That is one gigabit per second. That is 100 times faster than current high speed lines. You want this. The city and university have put together a fiber site that you can hit up and take action if you'd like to download wholesome educational programs at incredible speeds. Join the facebook page, submit your desperate plea to Google—if you're an orphan this is mandatory—and maybe hold a prayer session.

I will mention this again.

Delegation and goodbyes. So Tim is out of town this week and I think it's more productive to look up every last word written about Ray Vinopal than preview a Minnesota game that may make or break Michigan's NIT chances. UMHoops has its typically excellent preview if you are hankering. [ED: Ha ha! Tim just told me he's put up a preview. What part of vacation he doesn't understand, hat hat hat.]

It is senior night, and a word on DeShawn Sims: last year I thought Sims would escape the Lavell Blanchard limbo. Blanchard was a pretty good player on a series of lousy teams in the midst of Michigan's long period of raketastic basketball.

sideshowbobrake

RAKE! I SAID RAKE!

He did and he didn't. He was singlehandedly responsible for burying Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament game that was Michigan's last chance to blow its first tourney bid since the Pyramids were built, and for that we thank him. He could not do enough to turn this season away from its head-on course with more rakes, and for that we feel sorry for him. He'll have a long professional career (probably in Europe) and come back in a while to a standing ovation he'll deserve.

As for Anthony Wright, who will not return for a fifth year: thanks for keeping us in that Oklahoma game. There are worse things than being remembered as the guy who inexplicably exploded in a second-round NCAA game. Zack Gibson: I thought they should have played him more, except when they did.

Emo Cold War details. Big Chill details have dropped. Bullets of interest:

  • Hockey season ticket holders get the first crack at primo seats.
  • Football season ticket holders get the rest of the primo seats.
  • MSU's section is sizeable and pretty decent.
  • Students are where students go.
  • Sideline seats are $25, endzone seats $15. Seems a bit more expensive than I would have gone with.

Chart? Chart.

big-chill-seating-chart

If they put the MSU students… nevermind. MSU students don't go to hockey games. If, hypothetically, there were going to be any MSU students at the game and they got put in that overhang in sections 3 and 2 they will stand up and there will be crankiness similar to the first Cold War. Suggestion: don't do this.

More Graham. Brandon Graham tweaked his hamstring at the combine but put up an impressive bench and a 4.69 40, further solidifying his status as a first-round pick. He may be a high, high first-rounder:

Graham often gets knocked for his lack of height, but I saw him standing next to TCU’s Jerry Hughes, a very similar player, and Graham’s shoulders were visibly higher and wider than Hughes’. Graham also had better 10 second splits than Hughes, who is universally lauded for his explosiveness. If Graham had a neck he’d be at least an inch and a half taller, and then nobody would question his top 10 draft status. I know the Seahawks, who pick at #6, were paying real close attention.

There's also an approving mention from a Buccaneers site.

Brabbs update. Cancer-striken Husky slayer Phil Brabbs is done with chemo and now preparing for a bone marrow transplant from one of his many sisters. AnnArbor.com catches up and gets the latest.

Etc.: Interesting News article on the divergent financial situations at Michigan and Michigan State. M is one of the few elite school still hiring and is thus getting their top picks just about everywhere; State is cutting almost a sixth of their undergraduate programs. Donations, endowments, and Michigan's high percentage of out-of-state undergrads are the difference. Will Leitch writes on Roger Ebert. Every time this happens it is a reminder of why Deadspin used to be something better than TMZSports. Rutgers fans know how we're feeling about the media.

Unverified Voracity Has Tire Tracks On Forehead

Unverified Voracity Has Tire Tracks On Forehead

Submitted by Brian on November 12th, 2009 at 11:37 AM

Let's get Denarded. Since it will be on the message board forever and ever amen and discussed until the weekend: e-reports say that Tate Forcier's facebook status yesterday was about having a bad day and somewhere in the comment thread spawned by that—probably made band fiasco look tame—Tate mentioned he would not be starting this weekend, and then hurriedly deleted that because duh. All of this is in the realm of quasi-fact that the efix* is so good at condescendingly mocking.

…but. But Forcier is probably going to miss a little bit of time against Wisconsin for an exceedingly minor violation of team rules. This is not for sure. It is probable.

*(see what I did there?)

Brabbs! …is through round two of chemotherapy and was on WTKA recently talking about his disease. Podcast.

Elsewhere in terrible diseases unfairly striking young ex-Wolverines, Vada Murray got some excellent news a few days ago:

We heard the word we long to hear......shrink......from his recent ct.  Both tumors are getting smaller and for the first time, his oncologist, who rarely shows emotion, was ecstatic. 

The bus. You are under it. I can't believe we've gone this long without mentioning Troy Woolfolk gently depositing Scott Shafer in the wheel-wells of an AATA conveyance in the Monday press conference:

"Honestly, I feel way more comfortable in this system," Woolfolk said. "Last year, I think we had great execution, but just the defense wasn't working. Versus this year, the defense is working. ... It's just a matter of us being able to do it all the time."

In there is all you need to know about why Scott Shafer got cut loose. Everyone remembers that the staff's first instinct after Shafer was unofficially relieved of duties was to go to the disastrous 3-3-5 that Justin Siller will talk about when he is 65, but also remember what Michigan installed the next week: a dead simple 4-2-5 nickel with Brandon Harrison back in his old spot that shut down Minnesota and did well against Northwestern before getting overrun in the second half against Ohio State.

Yeah, pretty much. Orson's graphs touch on Michigan this week:

rich-rod 

That is all.

What is with the cantankerous? Ex-Michigan folk in the coaching ranks are pre-disposed to mouthiness. Miles: "have a nice day." Harbaugh: "Pete Carroll, I bite my thumb at thee." Corwin Brown: "Navy is a dirty cut-blocking team that has no class."

Slightly touchy in South Bend these days.

Freshmen recast. It's typical that the LA Times put together a useful chart of freshman quarterback stats and then ordered them by yardage and didn't even bother to include completion percentage. The stats recast and ordered by YPA (asterisks denote redshirt freshmen):

QB Att Cmp Yards TD Int Cmp% YPA
*Andrew Luck, Stanford 216 126 2076 11 3 58.3% 9.61
*B.J. Daniels, S. Florida 122 64 1096 10 6 52.5% 8.98
Matt Barkley, USC 221 125 1839 10 7 56.6% 8.32
Tom Savage, Rutgers 168 94 1341 8 1 56.0% 7.98
Tate Forcier, Michigan 217 122 1636 10 5 56.2% 7.54
*Kevin Prince, UCLA 184 105 1264 5 5 57.1% 6.87
*Landry Jones, Okla. 287 169 1902 17 11 58.9% 6.63
Jeff Tuel, Wash. State 121 71 789 6 5 58.7% 6.52
*Ryan Griffin, Tulane 135 89 838 4 3 65.9% 6.21
Cody Green, Nebraska 59 33 317 2 2 55.9% 5.37
Brock Osweiler, Ariz. St. 45 19 235 2 1 42.2% 5.22

Forcier compares favorably to every true freshman on the list save maybe Tom Savage when you take rushing into account, and he didn't even get to play against Baby Seal U. Those are real numbers.

The culture of the thing. I've had this open in a tab for a while now and people keep emailing it to me, so it might be time to cite this post on Smart Football from a run-and-shoot devotee (and former Big 12 coach) about installing his offense and his culture. The key point from a Michigan perspective:

Before discussing the technical benefits, let me first say that operating exclusively out of a four-wide environment is the first step a coach makes towards acculturating his program to the offense. To run the run and shoot effectively, it is necessary to commit to it entirely. Coaches that retain the ability to use tight ends, h-backs, and multiple-back sets create a crutch upon which they can fall back on when things don’t go as well as they’d like in the early going. Inevitably, what happens then is that the team becomes a multiple-set team that uses some run and shoot packages on passing downs. What never happens, however, is that the team converts to the run and shoot culture. And without that, the coaches and the players never become fully comfortable in the system, and then when the team struggles more, they blame the system.

When you decide to run this offense you need to burn your bridges with the past. You have to declare, “This is what we will sink or swim with. We are a run and shoot team.”

If anyone is still cranky about Rodriguez installing his offense from day one—default link to "Golden Age Of Tin" here—there it is in black and white from someone who would know. Also you're asking a dancing bear to do your taxes, but whatever.

Quod erat demonstrandum. Deadspin runs anonymous email from asshat that claims Arizona State's baseball coach is a vile person and SHOCK SURPRISE ALARM it turns out the asshat's email was a complete fabrication. At no point does it occur to Deadspin that they are also acting like asshats. Meanwhile, Leitch returns to write an excellent column on Bill Simmons. Deadspin shark-jump QED.

Suggestion: write in totally fabricated stories to Deadspin and publicly retract them via this space when and if they get published. 1,000,000 mgopoints* to anyone who successfully executes this maneuver.

*(

dr-evil

I stole this bit from Joe Posnanski.)

Em. Pahokee native, Michigan recruit, Florida decommit, Kiffin controversy source (who isn't), and current and possibly soon-to-be ex- Tennessee Vol Nu'Keese Richardson is in a spot of bother:

University of Tennessee freshman football players Janzen Jackson, Nu’Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards were arrested near campus this morning and charged in connection with an armed robbery, multiple sources confirmed to the Times Free Press.

That Mike Edwards kid was also nominally a Michigan recruit, as he's from Cleveland and went to "Glenville Academic Campus," the home of Ted Ginn Sr and a bunch of recruits who only list Michigan to screw with them.

Relevance to Michigan's program? Tangential at best. I guess it's good we dodged a bullet there.

Etc.: I can't believe Corey Tropp is playing against Michigan this weekend. Seriously: the hell. That kid should be in junior with his goon buddy, not facing off against Steve Kampfer.

Unverified Voracity Burns More Boats

Unverified Voracity Burns More Boats

Submitted by Brian on October 16th, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Liveblog help. The liveblog needs more assistance, lest the current moderators die in a hail of comments. If you've participated in the commenting frequently, have a decent bank of MGoPoints, and would like to help out, please email me.

Madness! Madness-type object that's not at midnight goes down tonight at 9PM in Crisler, with doors at 8 and a "barbecue" from 7-8 on the east lawn, which sounds like a good idea except it's mid-October. Dylan has a primer for you. In celebration of the basketball team's achievements and in an attempt to make money, allow me to present MGoBlog's sweet basketball shirt:

MGO_QuemeLosBarcos_300px_thumb1

It is, as per usual, by Six Zero. I know what you're thinking, guy who took Spanish in high school, but you're wrong: "sofa" is irregular and takes a masculine article. I looked it up three times.

While we're on the basketball team, Big Ten Geeks has a two-part preview of the season that focuses on tempo-free stats. The first part shows what you already know: Beilein's second year was a huge leap forward from his first. They ask this question;

Michigan already made a huge jump from 112th to 50th in Pomeroy's ratings - is it reasonable to expect another big jump into top 20 territory?

Note that leap goes only to 50th, not the 40th you'd expect from Michigan's tournament seeding or the 32nd-ish you'd expect from their advancement to the second round. I expect the team to improve this year, but I'll be marking improvement from 50th.

The Geeks then attempt to answer their question with an array of tempo-free charts comparing Michigan's first two season under Beilein to West Virginia's first three. It appears the offense can expect another step forward in eFG%, but is probably maxing out in 3FGA/FGA and minimizing TOs as much as humanly possible.

Note: a reader gave me the idea for this shirt but a search of the ever-expanding, world-encompassing inbox does not turn up who it is. If it's you, email me and claim your reward.

Bombshell! This is what passes for the biggest story in the Free Press's world:

image

That's right: "Mom popped hood so boy could get gun, kill" and Taylor Swift (!!!) get second billing to the Free Press FOIAing the University for grade records—the one thing actually covered by the FERPA law that athletic departments abuse willy-nilly—multiple times and Rodriguez saying this:

I have mentioned publicly several times that the football team last year achieved the highest average GPA ever, and I'd like to set the record straight on that statement. Last fall, in order to boost academic performance, I asked the Academic Success Program for the highest-ever team GPA and challenged the players to beat it. The ASP doesn't track team GPAs, so they provided me with an estimate based on their experience dealing with individual performance. They did not make it clear that the number was just an estimate and not an exact calculation

The bastard. In a TLA, LOL. This is getting has long been comical.

Wolverines, for real. They're remaking Red Dawn, for some reason, but at least they're doing it with proper respect for wolverines:

For former Michigan players Sean Griffin, Charles Stewart, Darnell Hood and Brandent Englemon, playing high school football players -- for a team named the Wolverines, no less -- in the remake of the 1980's movie "Red Dawn," came, in some respects, almost naturally.

"It's just football," said Griffin, a 2008 U-M graduate and former long snapper.

It's not just football, it's a titanic struggle against communism in a dystopic alternate reality, Sean. Let's get with the program.

I once went to the world's worst staging of any play—they sang "Silent Night" at the end—just because Jamar Adams and Jake Long and Chad Henne were vaguely in it, so I guess I have to go see the remake of Red Dawn now. The dangerous precedents I set.

Happy fun time forever hurray! Rick Leach finally followed through on his promise to bring down the thunder on someone for not being all in for Rich Rodriguez. As you've no doubt already found out because I've been studiously avoiding the topic to the point where Doctor Saturday himself pinged me to inform me about this event, it was Lloyd Freakin' Carr:

This morning former U-M QB Rick Leach dialed up WTKA’s Michigan Insider with Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub to sound off about the report that Rodriguez backed off the claim that the team hit the highest GPA in team history.  Leach painted it as another attempt by the media to discredit Rodriguez, paraphrasing: “turning a good story into a bad one.” 

But then Leach took aim at former coach Lloyd Carr, asking folks to investigate where and with whom Carr sat at the Iowa game. … Per Leach, this act is effectively waving a “middle finger” at U-M. 

I find this wonderful in all ways and love everything forever. Like everyone else who reads a lot of Michigan message boards, I've heard dark stories about Carr and Eastern regent James Stapleton—a guy who thought Brian Ellerbe's firing was racist!—and what some brilliant, anonymous person called the "shadow government" in Ypsilanti, all of the vague beyond the point of usefulness and extremely irritating. I've never found anyone worth citing, even if I maybe kind of believe certain aspects of it. Which I think I do. But I haven't heard anything worth publishing. When and if I do, I'll publish it.

Bracelet note. If you clicked the button on the top right to donate to Phil Brabbs and get yourself a cancer kicker bracelet, there is another step you have to execute: email [email protected] to tell them how many you'd like. Details here. Video blog from Brabbs and wife here.

A question about quarterbacks that is not that question. NKOTB Burgeoning Wolverine Star brings the still frames and the analysis to ask "hey, was that last INT Junior Hemingway's fault?"

denard post snap3You can see Hemingway two steps beyond his guy, loping down field. He pulls up, thus turning a potential deep completion into an easy interception. This guy's answer: no, it wasn't Hemingway's fault. If he'd kept going on his route he might have had a chance to break the play up but watch the  video; watch how long the safety is just waiting for the ball to come directly to him:

Receiver or no, that is not a good throw. Especially with Odoms hand-wavingly wide open underneath.

Inside vs outside zone. I've struggled to recognize the differences between inside and outside zone plays for a long time now, but Chris Brown (Not That Chris Brown) has illuminated it for me, and for you:

On outside zone plays, the "covered" offensive linemen (those with a defender lined up directly in front of them) will take a little bit more of a lateral first step and try to "reach" the defender -- that is, get their body in position to seal the defender from chasing the ball outside. The running back aims for a point outside the tight end, though he can cut it upfield wherever a seam appears.

Michigan hardly ever gets outside the tight end, or outside the tackle, because defensive ends are coached to get upfield and force the play back inside of them. When they do get outside the tackle it's usually a big gainer. A large number of Michigan's outside zone (or "stretch") plays end up going between the tackle and the center; the guard to that side of the field releases downfield to get a block on a linebacker.

Anyway, this causes people to start flowing fast to the sideline, at which point it's time to hit them with a counter. The simplest zone counter is to just execute the same play with a slightly different goal:

Once the defense begins flowing too fast to the sideline, Wilson will come back to the inside zone. The rules are the same -- covered and uncovered -- except this is more of a drive block as the aiming points are inside. The play often results in a cutback if the defense is flowing fast for the outside zone, but the difference between the outside zone is one of technique, not assignment.

So instead of trying to get around your guy with a reach block and sealing him, you just shove him down the line and have Minor cut behind you.

Here's an a-ha I just had. You know how Michigan was blocking the backside end much of the day? All those must have been inside zone plays. These days unblocked DEs tend to crash down on the backside, turning cutback lanes into minimal gains. Blocking that guy gives your moosebot tailback the opportunity to cut back on the inside zone without getting an unblocked DE in his face.

Etc.: Guess what Pryor's running now? The spread 'n' shred. Also this counter draw play OSU is running is something Michigan should put in the Robinson playbook. You can sign up to support Michigan Stadium's World Cup bid. There is a student protest today at City Hall to fight for State Street's right to party. The Beastie Boys would be proud. Correction: the Beastie Boys 20 years ago would be proud. The current Beastie Boys are very disappointed you're not thinking about Tibet.

Unverified Voracity Eschews True Style

Unverified Voracity Eschews True Style

Submitted by Brian on October 13th, 2009 at 1:34 PM

cancer-kicker

Annoying reminder. Acquire your cancer kicker bracelets by donating on the right sidebar and help out Phil Brabbs. You will feel like much less of a heel after you do this. Brabbs and his wife also have a video blog up about their first week with Brabbs on chemotherapy.

Oops. You know, I saw this Daily article detailing this new pitch play Michigan was working on, and I thought "that's really cool, I wonder why more practice articles aren't this specific":

In a rotation that was repeated about four times, a quarterback and running back lined up to practice a simple outside pitch play. Though the play was basic, the pairings were different than usual.

And then Michigan ran that pitch play to pretty good effect against Iowa and then Rodriguez closed practice for the rest of the year. Oh, that's why.

FTR: Rodriguez apparently mentioned "blogs" a couple times when announcing that practice is closed. I'm not sure why, since this place hasn't detailed any specific plays Michigan was running during the open section of practice. Any mentions I've made of plays I'd like Michigan to run (tight end shovel! Denard as Percy Harvin!) are total speculation. Total speculation that should be immediately inserted into the playbook, but total speculation nonetheless.

Hanging by a thread, but possibly a thick one. Boubacar Cissoko missed the Iowa game, of course, and has been indefinitely suspended by Rodriguez for matters on the practice field and in the classroom. Weird little fib here:

Cissoko told a reporter earlier in the day he didn't travel with the team because he was "banged up," but would return in the next game.

I guess that's good? Like Cissoko wants to be on the team and might pull out of his tailspin? Or it's bad because he's a nasty fibber. I don't know. Cissoko Transfer DEFCON should be set at 3. He is still practicing with the team:

"Playing football is important to him," Rodriguez said. “And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level."

I should clarify something I said on the radio yesterday that caused a message board thread; if I said a Cissoko transfer is "likely" that was in error. I meant to say it seemed possible without putting any sort of spin on how likely, or unlikely, that was to occur. Sometimes in the talking you say things less precise than you want to.

(Side note: every time someone shows up on MGoBoard with inside information they're roundly laughed at and negged, and then their info turns out to be accurate. This has happened with Craig Roh starting, Forcier's shoulder injury being more than a bruise, about which more later, and Cissoko not making the trip to Iowa City. MGoBlog is way more locked down that MLive; yes lol Chris Perry's broken leg but let's take context into account. Even someone with 50 points has put in 100x times more cred than an anonymous poster somewhere else. Information on the internet is usually good.)

The Salters thing. There's been quite a bit made of the Lisa Salters quote about Forcier's interaction with Rodriguez on the sideline just before he got pulled. The exact words, according to AA.com:

When a rattled Forcier came to the sideline, Salters said, “He kind of looked over at Coach saying, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’”

That sounds like speculation to me, not a direct quote.

The shoulder thing. Jason Forcier is pinged by the Daily and spills a bit more on Tate's shoulder injury:

His shoulder is more injured than I think the public realizes," Jason said. "It's the same thing (Oklahoma quarterback) Sam Bradford did. Maybe not as severe, but an AC joint is an AC joint. Once you injure it, it's hurt for the rest of the year." …

"(Tate)'s being tough," Jason said. "But he's playing against guys that are over three times his size."

Um… that would make Tate approximately 110 pounds. Which seems less improbable when you're talking about Forcier than any other quarterback hanging around, but still pretty improbable.

Meanwhile, this Rodriguez quote on Forcier's practice time from the same article confirms one of this site's theories about the super-lame offense against Michigan State this year:

"His shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks, but it didn't bother him too much in the game," Rodriguez said. "

This no doubt slowed Michigan's piecemeal installation of the vast and multivariate spread 'n' shred, allowing Michigan State to tee off on the plays they'd already seen with impunity and preventing Michigan from providing the sort of counter-punch they'd like to. A game against a 1-3 I-AA team should allow Michigan a couple weeks to put in new stuff for Penn State, and Forcier's shoulder should continue to get more cooperative as the year goes along.

Brunnnndidge. Our 2011 PG/SG commit is on the youtubes, pretending to get interviewed by ESPN:

HE LIKES MATH! This actually took place after Carlton's freshman year, FWIW, and two months ago someone called him a lawya in the comments. Law on, lawya.

I'll fight the bear. Iowa's evident effort at targeting Donovan Warren was weird to me, and weird to Troy Woolfolk:

Woolfolk, who made four tackles Saturday, said he was surprised Iowa didn’t challenge him more.

“I was like really shocked,” he said. “I asked myself, 'Why aren't they attacking me, the fresh, young blood in the water.' They just kept going to Donovan.”

Iowa got some completions on Warren but it cost them, and the stuff they did get was often of the miracle-throw or safety-bust variety. It seemed foolhardy. Iowa did chuck a couple fades at Woolfolk but neither was completed.

Flowers for Algernon. Michigan Monday is getting pretty stupid of late:

For the game, the Wolverines carried the ball 45 times for 195 yards, a decent 4.3-yard average. Last week Michigan State held Michigan to 28 yards on 28 carries, so obviously things were better than the last time out, but I’m far from convinced that the Wolverines’ running game is “back”.

Of those 195 yards, 53 of them came on a drive in the third quarter where the Wolverines ran the ball almost exclusively from under the center. The drive ended in a touchdown, but the fact that Michigan had to go away from their true running style should be cause for concern. To further badmouth the running game, we need to also mention Michigan’s final two drives of the game, which saw Denard Robinson inserted for a benched Tate Forcier. Michigan started the first drive with 7:42 remaining, down by nine points. Iowa was more than happy to let the Wolverines run the ball the rest of the game, and that’s essentially what they did, rushing for 50 yards on their last two drives.

Basically, over half of Michigan’s rushing yards came when Iowa was happy to see the run or when Tate Forcier was under center, meaning the zone read was pretty well shut down again.

Blather about "true running style": inane.

Rodriguez's true running style is "whatever works," and I kind of doubt Iowa was happy to have Michigan run the ball down the field for a touchdown on a drive that started with eight minutes left, especially once the ball got inside the 20. Michigan didn't turn in a dominating day but consistently creased the Iowa OL and got good yardage all night; they did not break big runs because part of the reason for the consistent success was Iowa laying back with two deep safeties and waiting for Michigan to screw up, which they did. There's plenty to criticize about a Michigan team likely headed for a December bowl game of no note, so why twist yourself into knots in an attempt to knock down the one consistently good aspect of the team?

Outside perspective. Okay, we're off the high of the Notre Dame game and discontent and arguing with people who are yet more discontent still. At this point, though, it's clear that the true disaster projections—which seemed a possibility as Michigan nervously prepared for the Western Michigan game—have gone by the wayside. We're left with those preseason projections, which built in the information that Rich Rodriguez is a very good football coach. Doctor Saturday provides some perspective:

The fact that the Wolverines were banged up, outgained, and reckless with the ball and still only fell by two with a realistic to chance to knock off a conference frontrunner on the road would have been regarded as a very optimistic step five weeks ago, when we were unsure of Rodriguez's grasp on the team. Premature Heisman sites were launched and visions of New Year's Day had begun to dance in September, but this was supposed to be a 7-5 team struggling through growing pains en route to the Champs Sports, and it's beginning to shape up as exactly that.

Whee bowls. The Big Ten has picked up the Gator Bowl, which will be a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup but at least it's a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup that's slanted in the Big Ten's favor. And then they're adding some new thing in the Cotton Bowl:

A new bowl game to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas will have the No. 7 pick from the Big Ten, which likely will face a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Cotton Bowl Classic will move to Dallas Cowboys Stadium beginning in January, and the new bowl is expected to be played around Jan. 1.

This bumps the Motor City down to #8 and essentially cancels any relationship between the Big Ten and it unless there's just a glut of 6-6 teams one year. Hopefully this is never relevant.

Concussion pants. Notes on Michigan's concussions: both Tate and Brown are good to go for Delaware State.

Etc.: Bowl projections have Michigan in the Champs, Insight, or Alamo against Kansas, Wake, Oklahoma State, or UNC. Bowl projections aren't very useful right now. MSU folk have put up their UFR-O equivalent; this one's way less depressing than the one that handles the other side of the ball.

Phil Brabbs Has Cancer

Phil Brabbs Has Cancer

Submitted by Brian on September 14th, 2009 at 11:08 AM

This sucks:

For Brabbs, a former kicker for the University of Michigan who kicked one of the most famous field goals in Wolverines’ history, his next battle is on the horizon.

Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a cancer of the plasma cell), Brabbs, a 1999 Dow High graduate who turned 29 on Aug. 7, is preparing for his treatment to start next month at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Treatment Center.

The cancer, specialists told Brabbs, has been growing. In a year’s time, it’s gone from being in 10 percent of his bones to 30 percent.

Vada Murray is horrible enough. Brabbs is younger than I am:

“This has been a long, drawn-out process. It started when I was 25 and living in North Carolina,” he said. “I would have a panic attack and this stabbing pain, and have no clue what was going on.

“Age is on our side,” Brabbs added. “The average age for a person getting this is 68. That’s why we want to be aggressive (with treatment).”

It sounds like he's going to have a difficult few months with chemo and radiation and a stem-cell transplant, but Brabbs is upbeat. He's even got a blog.