Hokepoints: Seasoning the Line

Hokepoints: Seasoning the Line Comment Count

Seth April 29th, 2014 at 1:00 PM

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Gardner's implied question is the same we're all asking [Fuller]

The 2014 football season hinges on whether the offensive line can go from one of the worst in the country to just mediocre. We've mentioned the downsides: it has to replace two NFL tackles. The upside is an offensive coordinator who plans to simplify the things they'll have to do, a ton of talent, and rather good excuses for why the bulk of guys weren't so good (youth compounded by panicky/insane coaching decisions). The competence of coaches replaced, arriving, or remaining can't be determined until they play, so guesses at their 2014 performance have to be extrapolated from what we know of the current players and the typical progression of men like them.

When Michigan was still putting together those 2012 and 2013 classes I looked over the history of our offensive linemen going back to the mid-'90s, because my memory before that is weak.

Status

     Year in program
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
All-B1G+ - - 1 10 12
Solid Starter 1 8 14 10 13
Liability Starter 1 3 8 12 6
Backup 0 50 30 17 8
Redshirting 75 - - - -
Injured 0 6 3 2 -
Playing defense 2 1 1   - -
Not on team 1 6 13 17 29
% Available 99% 92% 81% 75% 57%
% Solid + 1% 11% 21% 29% 37%
% All-B1G+ - - 1% 15% 18%

The results were the growth chart below. I've reproduced it with updated data from 2013:

Really it's more specific than the above. If you're the backup to Steve Hutchinson in 2000 you could be pretty solid or terrible, but if you were an interior lineman on the 2013 team and hale and still couldn't crack the depth chart, you were obviously not good at that point. One thing working in our favor is Michigan has historically brought in offensive line classes rated about as highly as the recent crops. If you tried this with MSU over the same period there would be stretches of 2-stars (and, um, personal issues) to throw off the numbers.

A more precise way to show where our OL are at this point is to find closer comparisons to historic players at this point in their careers. I couldn't figure out a good way to show "tracks" before, but I think I've learned enough about table html now to make a crude flow chart. Sample sizes are way too small to say "Kalis will be X good by Y season," but if you can read it to say "At that age, Steve Schilling and Patrick Omameh were both about where Kalis is now." Usefulness is better at capping expectations: you can always say so-and-so was a backup at this point, but Miller's not going to be Molk.

Here goes:

Freshman(True) Fr/So So/Jr Jr/Sr Sr 5th Players
Solid Solid x x n/a Justin Boren
Liability
Bosch, (Cole?)

?

?

?

?

?

Defense Backup Backup Star n/a Maurice Williams,
Damon Denson
Not on team (x) TransferRS Backup Solid Star Jonathan Goodwin

Redshirted
Kugler, Samuelson, Dawson, Fox, Tuley-Tillman,(Bushell-Beatty)

Solid

Star Star Star David Molk
Solid Star Star Jansen, Hutchinson, Backus, Long, Lewan
Liability
Kalis, Magnuson
Liability Solid Solid Steven Schilling
Solid Liability Liability Patrick Omameh

Backup
Braden, Bars

Solid
Glasgow
Star Star David Brandt, David Baas
Solid Star Tony Pape, Adam Kraus, Schofield
Solid Stenavich, Lentz
Liability
Miller
Solid Star Zach Adami
Injured Solid Chris Ziemann
Liability Solid Mark Huyge
Liability Reuben Riley
x Alex Mitchell
Backup Backup Demeterius Solomon

Backup

Solid Solid Dave Pearson
Liability Ricky Barnum
Liability Solid Frazier, Petruziello, Bihl, Ortmann
Liability David Moosman, Perry Dorrestein
Backup Ben Mast, Courtney Morgan
Backup Solid Kurt Anderson, Leo Henige
Liability Elliott Mealer
Backup N. Parker, Denay, Kolodziej, McAvoy
Unrenewed Partchenko, Potts, Christopfel, Gaston, DeBenedictis, Ciulla, Gallimore, Khoury
Defense Backup Backup John Ferrara
Injuries Zirbel, Mossa, Sharrow, Brooks, Schifano, C. Bryant, Tannous, A.Brown, Simelis, Berishaj, C.Pace
Transfers Ries, Moltane, Zuttah, Wermers, O'Neill, Posada

[Discussion after the jump]

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Unverified Voracity Had Subs. It Was Crazy.

Unverified Voracity Had Subs. It Was Crazy. Comment Count

Brian March 28th, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Most Beilein quote ever. This MLive piece starts with the promise of a 'knock down, drag out party' celebrated by John Beilein in the aftermath of his team advancing to the Sweet 16. This invites questions about what Beilein considers a rager. Questions: answered.

"the (grandchildren) came over, we had a heck of a party -- pizza and chicken wings, it was crazy over there. … It was Patrick's (birthday on Sunday), we had subs. It was crazy."

I've been laughing at "We had subs, it was crazy" for 15 solid minutes.

WE HAD SUBS

IT WAS CRAZY

i can't breathe

image

I love this man.

I wish this was more relevant, but it's still a good counterpoint to Brady Hoke's lovely boringness. An already-thin 2012 Notre Dame recruiting class has been veritably gutted over the past few weeks, what with Gunner Kiel, Davonte Neal, and Justin Ferguson heading out of Dodge for various reasons ranging from insufficient chest to excessive baby to whatever Justin Ferguson has going on.

With Tee Shepard's instaflee last spring that hacks out the top four recruits from a 17-member class, something that might be useful if Michigan were to play any of these dinguses as upperclassmen—dollars to donuts Michigan buys out the 2014 game at the last second out of spite.

In any case, Neal's departure gave ESPN cause to recount his bizarre recruiting story:

The Chaparral (Ariz.) High School product waited until 20 days after national signing day to announce his college decision, setting up a morning ceremony at his former elementary school, Kyrene de la Esperanza.

With 600 schoolchildren, friends and family members on hand for the Feb. 21, 2012, announcement, Neal did not show. He made his announcement several hours later in front of a handful of reporters.

Six days later, Neal withdrew from Chaparral and enrolled at Phoenix Central.

In a universe where Michigan was in on this kid's recruitment:

NEAL: [describes setup]
HOKE: You want to do what?
NEAL: [re-describes setup, mentions he's not even going to show]
HOKE: You are under the mistaken impression that we are Tom Haverford. We are Ron Swanson. Enjoy wherever it is you end up, and wherever you end up after that, and wherever you end up after that. Send me your travel memoir.

ron-swanson-turkey-leg[1]

/eats bacon-wrapped turkey leg

Q: Who is the most Swanson? RELATED THING I JUST THOUGHT OF: Brady Hoke has a quality claim to the throne of Most Swanson College Football Coach. Bronco Mendenhall is a contender solely because he is named Bronco, but with Pat Hill and Danny Hope trolling unemployment lines the mustache category is all but moot. Bacon, libertarianism, temperature endurance… a case can be made for Hoke. In retrospect it's surprising that there has not been a Parks and Recreation episode in which a shirt-sleeved Swanson scorns his coworkers during a brutal Pawnee Winterfest blizzard.

I mean, I'm srlsly. From the Pyramid of Greatness:

“Fish, for sport only, not for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable.”

“Honor: if you need it defined, you don’t have it.”

"Buffets: Whenever available. Choose quantity over quality."

"Torso: should be thick and impenetrable."

"Frankness: cut the BS"

I'm having difficulty envisioning potential competitors. Orson immediately thought Schnellenberg, who would be a landslide winner if he was still coaching. The only other guy we came up with was Paul Johnson, and while Johnson bests Hoke in certain categories (lack of GAF, old-timeyness, hair helmet) Hoke wins meat hands down.

Oh hello Cincinnati. By 2017 the Bearcats may be a glorified MAC team in a glorified CUSA, but it's still a more interesting matchup than a game against East Nowhere, and Michigan has acquired it for the not-that-princely sum of 1.2 million dollars, and they probably had to throw in a basketball home and home, but I like the idea of that home and home so bully for scheduling.

The UC game continues a new trend in M (and to a somewhat lesser extent OSU) nonconference scheduling where they move past the MAC teams and just buy games against Real Opponents. Michigan's lined up Colorado, Oregon State, and now Cincinnati without offering anything other than cold hard cash. In this case the cash isn't even much more than the going rate for a MAC game—nearing one million dollars at last check. The economics have changed to the point where I expect Michigan will have a one-off home game against a low-level power conference opponent annually.

I WANT TO BELIEVE. Frank Clark has not done all that much so far at Michigan other than get completely lost on basic zone reads and that one fluke interception in the Sugar Bowl, but he's frigging huge now and people are saying mean things about him:

Frank Clark called the 'F'-word, emerges as leader to enter Michigan starting lineup

I feel this is a good thing even if they're not breaking out the swearing. They are apparently not doing so.

Michigan offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield combine for five years of starting experience. They've seen a lot of football, and can judge talent as well as anyone.

And both, asked open-endedly which defensive lineman provides the most difficult matchup in practice, offered the same answer: Frank Clark.

"He’s just so quick. He’s got such a quick step, it's hard to handle him. He's a freak," said Schofield, who wasn't the only Michigan player to invoke the F-word.

Added senior defensive lineman Jibreel Black: "Ever since Frank came in here, he's been a freak athlete. It's just a matter of putting it all together."

Yo man let's cut back on the freak talk until the dude accumulates some of those play-type things, but here's hoping. If Clark busts out that'll mitigate a lot of the issues that crop up without Jake Ryan.

Elsewhere in I WANT TO BELIEVE, Michigan is "raving" about Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh:

Jehu, in one-on-ones, he’s just flying by people with his speed," Gallon said. "Doing all these amazing things. You can tell he’s learning."

Both are built more in the mold that coordinator Al Borges desires for his pro-style offense: Tall, long and capable of stretching the field.

"Those two have demonstrated in the first few days that they have some big-play ability," Borges said. "They've won a few jump balls -- lost a few, but we haven't lost them all.

"Both of them have really good straight-line speed, particularly Jehu. Amara is fast, too. Amara is feel-fast -- probably more feel-fast than he is time-fast. His time isn't terrible, either."

Well, that's odd. Rothstein has an article about the transition from tackle to guard that quotes Steve Schilling on the challenges:

“When you get in the NFL, you almost have to be able to play, unless you’re a starter, you have to be able to play guard and tackle on both sides and a lot of times center also if you want to make it as a backup on the team,” said former Michigan lineman Stephen Schilling, who played both guard and tackle. “For me, the switch from tackle to guard wasn’t as much as if you were playing the right side the whole time and you switch to left, because you muscle memory gets so used to doing things one way and you have to flip it.”

Schilling was on the right his entire career at Michigan. The Hoke regime, meanwhile, has elected to move projected RT Mike Schofield to LG and back and is repeating that progression with Ben Braden. This may be a zone versus power thing: Schilling probably didn't pull more than a handful of times during his playing career. Michigan went to an all-zone system in Carr's last two years; while Rodriguez was considerably less monomaniacal than Mike DeBord, pulling was still a rare occurrence.

Man, everybody is on our jock now. CBS's Matt Norlander previews the South Regional:

Rank the remaining four teams:

1) Michigan

2) Florida

3) Kansas

4) Florida Gulf Coast

Why Michigan will be going to Atlanta ... The Wolverines now have the second-best offense in the nation, scoring 120.9 points per 100 possessions, that number adjusted for tempo. It's really good, second only to Indiana. The Burke factor is huge. I am a sucker for really, undeniably good point guards at this time of the year. Burke doesn't make mistakes as often as Aaron Craft and he's got a better set of tools on his hip than Shane Larkin or Peyton Siva. He'll be huge. …. Overall, the team has as much balance and weaponry as anyone in this tournament. Play a little D, and Atlanta will be the next stop.

That last bit is kind of an issue. He also talks up Stauskas—a bit, anyway. I expect Stauskas to do little against the Jayhawks. While he is Not Just A Shooter™, his midrange game is extremely clunky right now and he won't have a size advantage over the guy checking him. This is a bad matchup for him.

The Michigan chatter has gotten to the point where Bill Self's getting asked about it. Being the sexy upset pick makes me nervous.

It's too bad there is no available solution for this. You may not have noticed but this year's NCAA tourney is heavily regionalized. It's hard to get incensed about this when the pairwise has so much jitter that Notre Dame could have been either a one seed or out of the tournament going into the CCHA championship weekend, but if you're looking for this…

Over the past year, the people that oversee ice hockey within the NCAA, has changed. Last April, Mark Lewis was named "executive vice president for championships and alliances." …

Lewis, among other things, set out to address issues with declining attendance across all NCAA events. Obviously, attendance is relative, but even in men's basketball, there have been more empty seats than there have been in decades.

Essentially, under Lewis, the message coming through is of an emphasis on maximizing attendance at the events. And it's under that atmosphere — whether directly or indirectly — that the men's ice hockey committee operated this year.

…I have one or two ideas about how to make this happen. One: don't put regionals in St. Louis, you twits. Two: home sites for top seeds, you twits. If you decide not to do this, put one (one) regional in or around Michigan every year instead of zero most years and two this one time.

Etc.: LSUfreek gifs the most recent NCAA commercial. Countess confident he'll be back full go. Iowa reaches NIT Final Four by whomping Virginia; conference might have been good this year.

Scoop Jackson still exists! Remember when everyone was so mad about him? Things have changed a lot since then. I know it's not cool to be happy people get fired, but can we make an exception for David Whitley? Not so awesome: congratulations on the soccer story of the year, Brian Straus! Your prize is this letter about COBRA benefits. : (

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Monday Player Presser Notes 12-6-10

Monday Player Presser Notes 12-6-10 Comment Count

Tim December 6th, 2010 at 3:54 PM

IMG_1662.JPG

Mike Martin

Ankles are both good: "I'm at the health that I want to be right now." The week of rest has helped, and no hitting for a couple weeks should also do him some good. He expects to be 100% by bowl time. It's frustrating being injured, because you put in the work to be ready, "you got 12 opportunities a year... you're not able to play those minutes and those plays, it's rough." Getting to full strength is his priority. A lot of guys who were banged up have been getting a lot of treatment in the week off. "There's a very good chance for me to be feeling great for the bowl."

More practices will help the young team improve: "You improve any time you can get some work in. Whenever we get into practice or anything, we always make sure we're ready to work and get better."

Excited to play an SEC team. "It's big for me, it's big for the guys that I came in with that haven't gone to a bowl yet." It's rare for a junior to not have gone to a bowl game yet. Older players are excited to get back there. Michigan has a lot of contenders to win an eating contest, if there is one. Mike doesn't think he'd be one of them.

Mouton and Denard predicted wins at the banquet: "I would say that's just excitement." Everybody is just excited and anxious to practice, and to play in the bowl. "Jonas and Denard, probably just pure excitement. Just wanting to get down there."

Rodriguez job limbo: "That's not something I can control, or anyone on the team can control." The players are just worried about playing, and controlling what they can. "Whatever pans out, we're worried about the game."

Roh's move: "I know he feels a lot more comfortable being on the line." He played DE in high school, and wasn't as comfortable at linebacker. He's able to just play his game at DL instead of over-thinking.

Darryl Stonum

Reaction of team to playing Mississippi State? "We was all pretty happy." Playing in a January 1 bowl game is exciting. "We're all happy with the Gator Bowl."

Playing an SEC team: "You always hear about the SEC speed, and the Big Ten is like slow and big muscle guys and SEC is the fast, athletic guys. In 2008 Michigan did a great job against Florida." Eager to prove that Michigan will be able to beat a good SEC team.

Exciting to play in his first bowl game. "Hopefully we can keep this going, keep the bowl game streak going, and get Michigan back to where it's supposed to be."

Taking the time in between the end of the season to heal up. "You don't want to go too hard." Worried more about sharpening skills than hitting each other. They know the whole playbook, they need to make sure they'll be able to execute well, "getting ready mentally more than physically."

Ankle is "pretty good," but he's still getting treatment. Should be 100% by bowl game. Against OSU "it was pretty tough. They tried to tape it up and do all kind of things." He was going to gut it out for the seniors no matter how much it hurt.

Denard deserved the MVP honor (though Darryl joked that he tried to vote for Troy Woolfolk). "Especially for a sophomore, so he's only going to get better. We're looking for big things from him his junior year, and big things in the bowl game" Denard should still be in the Heisman race.

In the bowl game, "I think you'll see how everybody played in the first few games," because they'll be much healthier. Everybody's rehabbing and should be fresh. "We'll be ready to go."

"No need to beat ourselves up. Might as well save it to beat up Mississippi State."

Roy Roundtree

IMG_1666.JPG

"Denard. Denard Robinson." for team MVP. Mike Shaw voted for himself as a joke, because he knew Denard was going to win it. "Everybody knew who was going to win it because of all the hard work he put in all season." There's still more room for improvement.

Denard's very humble every day. Always trying to learn something, trying to improve his game and his teammates. Even when he was getting mentioned for the Heisman, he was more worried about working on his game.

"I felt like I played great all year, but at times, lack of focus on the football." He knows he can play better than he showed in the last four games. He's only a sophomore, so he has the offseason to work hard toward a good junior year. "Trying to take off without the ball in my hands. Drops: I had several drops in this last game." Doesn't lack confidence, just needs to practice to fix it. "That's easily corrected. It's just up to me to really maintain that."

The team will work out to stay focused in the layoff. "When we do have practice, I'm sure pretty Coach Rod's gonna have us ready." It's helping people heal up.

It's nice to finally be playing in the postseason. "Watching bowl games? You know that really sucked bad. You really couldn't do nothing about it because of the season we had. Finally getting out there, getting ready to play Mississippi State, come January first, it's gonna be great. It's SEC vs. Big Ten and we're just getting ready to go in there and give it our all."

Jordan Kovacs

Chris Spielman's comments on how Jordan isn't good enough for Michigan: "I heard about it. It's nothing that I haven't heard before. Obviously it motivates me." Every player - especially walkons - motivated by outside comments.

Against OSU, the front 7 played pretty well "eventually I guess their running game just wore us down." They played hard though, and if they can continue that, the defense will be fine going forward.

Never been to a Michigan bowl game, even though he was a fan growing up. Remembers the Capital One bowl a few years back. Jordan was 1 year old last time Michigan was in the Gator Bowl.

His roommate spoiled the surprise yesterday by telling him it was the Gator Bowl. Excited to play an SEC team because they're supposed to be the best conf. All 4 of MSU's losses are to top-16 teams in the SEC.

"The first couple weeks, I think you've really gotta heal up, because it's been a long regular season." After a couple weeks of workouts, they'll start practicing, then preparing for Mississippi State specifically. "We can get back to fundamental football. We don't have to focus on Mississippi State as much right away." Can work on getting back to Michigan football and understanding team goals and individual roles, then worry about the opponent later.

Banged up a bit during football seaosn, because that happens to everyone. "We had a lift this morning, and I feel pretty fresh." Hit his high weight of the season, so a week off can help you heal up.

Ryan Van Bergen

"I voted for Mr. Shoelaces as well. He obviously deserved it, he broke all the records." He was unstoppable until he got injured. "He wasn't able to showcase how really spectacular he can be" at the end of the season.

Junior Hemingway made big plays against Indiana and Illinois, and could have been MVP. Roy Roundtree had a great Illinois game and a couple other fantastic games, but Denard was the guy who got the ball when they needed a play all year, so he's the MVP.

4-man front worked well against Ohio State: "I think that the 4-man front, we completely thwarted them the first half." He would guess that they run some 4-man fronts in the bowl.

Used to watch a lot of hockey, Red Wings v. Avalanche, excited for the Big Chill game. "I'm excited. I've never been in the student section at Michigan before. But I'll be there in the student section at the Big House, watching a hockey game."

Big Ten v. SEC: "I don't know if they're the conference to beat, but they're the conference that I'd definitely want to play against" to get the best test. SEC, Big Ten, maybe a bit of Pac 10 are the best conferences. Regardless of when it's played, those two conferences in a bowl are a big deal.

Nobody needs to worry too much about MSU yet. Focus on self, healing injuries, get in better shape, focus on fundamentals, and then 4 weeks in, you finally start worrying about the gameplan for Mississippi State. "If you focus on the opponent that long, you're just going to overlook self-improvement."

Media circulating talking about RR: "There's always something out there." RVB is in support of Coach Rod. Somebody around the program as long as Van Bergen has has, he's excited to get back to a bowl. "I would like to say that I want to be with Coach Rodriguez for the rest of my career."

"All people see is the stuff that goes on camera, that goes out to the television sets, and you can't understand what goes on at Schembechler Hall." RR is hard-working, and cares about his players "as much as any other coach in college football cares about his players." Wants them to succeed. "He's just a great guy, and when you recognize somebody that has those leadership qualities, that's somebody that you're going to wanna follow, and I think the whole team takes that attitude."

Steve Schilling

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Voted for Denard as team MVP. "When he handed out the ballots, in my head I was saying 'do we even really need to vote?'" Denard getting hit hard every game, tough to keep that up. He persevered and was never out for extended time. "He's been through it, he's felt it, and next year it will be a little more natural to him."

OL MVP award: "It's a huge honor, definitely. To be rewarded for consistent play over three years is an honor." Proud to be a 3-time winner.

Really excited to be in a New Year's Day bowl game. Glad that OSU disappointment isn't his last game. Glad to get back to a bowl game for the seniors and want to start a new streak.

Feels like the Capital One bowl was a long time ago, but sometimes it seems like yesterday. Getting to a bowl game as a freshman helped him improve: "I think it was huge. Towards the end of my freshman year, I was struggling a bit." Having time off and able to worked on fundamentals and confidence helped him grow a lot as a young player. They can regroup mentally coming off a couple losses.

There's a long time between games, can't worry about MSU too early. First two practices are just getting back to fundamentals. Worry about the gameplan later, then "you go out there to win the game."

Big Ten and SEC are two of the top conferences. "It'll be fun to see how the two conferences compare" in the bowl matchups.

A few young offensive linemen will be ready to step up once Schilling graduates. Ricky Barnum got in a few plays at tackle against Ohio State "He's more fit at guard." Mealer's been playing a lot. Will Campbell has improved a bunch in the past couple weeks, and the bowl and spring practices might allow him to challenge for the job.

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Monday Player Presser Notes 11-22-10

Monday Player Presser Notes 11-22-10 Comment Count

Tim November 22nd, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Steve Schilling

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This game means a lot to the seniors, but also the last couple classes that never got the chance to beat OSU. "If we could put a stop to that streak too, maybe start our own streak of beating them" would be a big deal to the team. "It's not really a rivalry when one team wins every year. We've gotta get back in the win column."

"These last few years have been a little different Michigan, I guess, than the previous years." This win would be huge. "In a way, it could help rectify the four losses we've had. Obviously, it doesn't make up for them."

Never played in Columbus - he was injured 2 years ago. "It seems like a fun place to play." Jealous he didn't play last time.

Shown progression last three years, doesn't think about playing for Coach Rod's job this season.

The team has been trying to play catch-up in all four losses. Want to try for an early lead, maybe run some clock "especially in Columbus."

"We definitely think we have the ability to play with anybody when we're playing at our best."

Different intensity in Schembechler this week. "Put some band-aids on your wounds and get after it. Leave it all out there this Saturday."

The many good DL they've faced lately bring different skills to the table. "Arguably the top 4 defensive ends in the country play in our league." Heyward's great, played since he was a freshman. He has the whole package, and will be a big-time NFL prospect.

Don't want to see turnovers, protection from the OL has to help avoid it.

Denard has played well, set some records, but the team has struggled at times. Schilling doesn't worry about whether Denard is B10 player of the year. Denard's always got a positive attitude, no matter what's going on in the game. He loves playing football, always smiling. "You can tell he loves to play the game, and it's exciting to be able to block for a guy like that."

Jordan Kovacs

"Obviously my blood always ran Blue. My dad walked on here." Exciting rivalry, surreal to be a part of it. He was at the game the last time Michigan beat OSU. Sitting in section 27 with his parents and brother. Been to several games in Columbus, 2002 Game. Several M-OSU games. Didn't go to 2006, but that was the first one he missed.

Converted a couple buddies to M fans, some of them are still diehard Buckeye fans. "I do have some friends who go to Ohio State, and we're excited to go down there." Expects to hear from his buddies, win or lose. "Hopefully I can shut them up for a year, but we'll see."

Thrown in the mix early last year, gradually has become more comfortable with the defense. One of the more veteran guys on the defense already. Excited about the development of the young guys.

Pryor - "He's very versatile. He's a big guy... he can run and throw." The offense has a lot of different packages. They should be a great challenge.

"Anytime that you can make an offense one-dimensional, you've got a good chance of playing some good defense. If we can stop them on first and second down and put them in third-and-long, obviously we can create turnovers that way. But that's much easier said than done, and we've struggled with that so far."

Lost to Dane Sanzenbacher both times they played in HS. "I'm still looking for my first victory against him." He's not a big-name guy, but makes huge plays for the Buckeyes. "I wouldn't say that he does anything great, but he does a lot of things very well."

"We know we're going to have to play a flawless game." Guys are looking forward to getting into the film room. "We're confident. We're excited about this challenge."

Craig Roh

"I'm playing this week, no matter what." Had "a little head trauma," wasn't cleared to play in the second half. "It doesn't matter for this week, because I'm going to be playing."

Defensive players draw confidence from each other, looking at each other's work ethic, etc. Defensive struggles are a mixture of several factors, but everyone on D is working as hard as they can to fix what they can contorl.

"Our defensive goals each week are six 3-and-outs, three turnovers." If they can pull that off, the team will have a pretty good chance of winning.

Didn't know too much about Michigan or Ohio State in 2003. "I was just in Arizona, you know, chillin'." Can't take M-OSU rivalry away from college football. Glad they'll still play when the B10 goes to divisions.

The mentality of each guy on the team shows how important the OSU week is. Everything encompassed into one is what makes this game so important.

Has only heard about going into Columbus from a fan's perspective "I'm expecting the worst, and it's going to be exciting."

On the stuffed whatever: "Are you saying there's an animal on the sidelines? Next question."

Playing for RR's job? "No. We're playing for each other... It would be a great win for Rich Rod, for the team in general."

"I love Rich Rod as a coach. He's just a tough working guy." Has a positive attitude, despite what he's been through. That positivity wears off on guys.

Ryan Van Bergen

"I don't remember that one. I would have been 14." Probably just playing BBall and chasing girls in 8th grade. Charles Woodson with the Rose in his mouth is one of his first Michigan memories.

From the West side of the state, his mom is always heckled by MSU fans. This week, people are coming in to offer her encouragement. She's now realizing their ulterior motives, as Michigan can help send State to the Rose Bowl.

"A lot of the guys in my class, it's their last year. One of the big things for seniors is you never want to leave this program without beating Ohio State." Guys who have left say there's a feeling of emptiness. When you come to Michigan, you know your performances against Ohio State will make your reputation. "If you come out against Ohio State and have your best game, a lot can be forgiven."

Some criticism of the team is unjustified: they've been able to play with some of the top teams in the league. "For some reason, we haven't gotten that attitude to come out on the first play." Need to be able to come together and do that throughout the full game. Older guys, RVB included, need to help motivate everyone.

The defense's performance against Wisconsin - "Most of it was schematic. I mean, They schemed us really well. They had a play where they pull the tackle and a guard and the tight end blocks down. They scored 2 or 3 touchdowns on that one play. All of those were explosive plays." It's not a good thing, but there were positives to take from it, some guys played with a physical edge. "We can adjust our scheme and be ready for Ohio State X-and-O-wise. I think we can definitely play with them."

Terrelle Pryor, canon for an arm, fast, big, has a bunch of talented, fundamental WRs, good running backs. "They're a very dangerous and explosive offense, but I wouldn't want it any other way."

Team and program are making some big strides. "I think that next year, the guys we return, there's definitely going to be a chance that we're gonna be big-time contenders."

Mike Martin - Aggressive, relentless. Off the field, he's... "cuddly."

Mike Martin

"Lot of time in the training room and rehab. I've been struggling a lot with my ankles this season, which is a pain." Trying to play through it, doing as much as he can. Tough to push off with his ankles. Big mental thing, trying to play through it. "Hopefully that adrenaline kicks in, you know?" Only one of them is a problem at this point. Trying to be a leader when he's been unable to make an impact on the field. Adam Patterson has stepped up well in Mike's absence.

"It's tough, obviously, being on the team and being a fan. Any fan doesn't like that." Doing whatever they can to reverse OSU's dominance. No matter what each team's season is like, they'll both fight hard.

Has talked to guys who played in the 50s and 60s about the game. "We're just gonna play as hard as we can and make those guys proud."

Would feel really good to stop he streak. Overcome a lot this season, trying to improve each week. Anything is possible. "It's not about Ohio State, it's about us and what we do." Not looking to be spoilers, looking to win for themselves. "We're gonna control what we can control."

"It's gonna start with us down in the trenches." Need to force Pryor to move his feet, get him off-rhythm. Need to get pressure, wreak some havoc.

"I think they hate us, we hate them. That's just how it is, that's what it is." That leads to getting each team's best shot, no matter what. Different sense of intensity in the air this week. "You don't really need a motivational speech to get excited for it."

"We're not gonna get ran off the field. That's not gonna happen." They'll play hard to the final whistle. "That's not us, that's not our team, and we won't allow that to happen at all."

OSU might have a couple tricks up their sleeve, but this game is more about going straight at each other.

Not worried about what their impact is on MSU, just want to win for themselves.

Stuffed animal - "That's the defense's thing. We're not gonna talk about that."

Kevin Koger

"I don't really remember the game" last time M beat Ohio State.

Gave OSU a serious look in high school, but felt right in Ann Arbor. Talks to Roundtree about it. OSU wanted him on either side of the ball. His dad was a Michigan fan, that played a role in his decision.

Split in Toledo between OSU and M fans among his friends. Hears "I'm an Ohio State fan but I'm also a Kevin Koger fan" from most people he knows.

Have to take care of the ball to have a chance to win. Can't turn it over 5 times against OSU and still win. Need to pay attention to details. "It's not anything the coaches can do. It's definitely on us."

"It'd definitely mean a lot to us. Every game means a lot but this one means a little more."

Rivalry hasn't lost its luster even though OSU has won a lot. Streak is a bit embarrassing "It's on us to stop it."

"Hate? That's such a strong word." Respects, but does not like them.

Denard Robinson

IMG_1597.JPG

"I guess I have to agree with Koger. Got respect for them, but don't like them." Wasn't aware of the rivalry that much in HS. Looked at the FSU-Miami rivalry, and heard that M-OSU was a bigger deal. "You expect a physical team, a great coached team, and a great team." against OSU. You have to be even more prepared than past games.

Knew last year's game would be intense when he saw Shaw's altercation with an OSU player going into the tunnel. He's also seen video of the famous Woodson/Boston battle. "It's a big game. It's still a football game. Still a game."

1500 rush yards: "That's a great accomplishment, but I don't know what to say about it."

It would be a big deal to get invited to NY for the Heisman ceemony, but can't worry about it while there are still games to play.

"We can't come out flat like we did against Wisconsin. We've gotta perform all four quarters." Need to protect "the program" the ball. They've been making a few more mistakes lately, and that can't continue.

"I think our defense is one of the best defenses in the nation. I don't care what nobody say. We face them every day, and they just help us get better."

Pryor reminds Denard of Devin Gardner. Big, and he can run and pass.

He's going to ask Falk about the 'Shoe once he gets the chance. Iowa and Penn State were also tough environments.

Felt fairly healthy the past month. "90%, pretty good." Doesn't know when he got dinged up, but he's healthy enough to be as fast now as he was in the first few games. "I thought I was gonna break a couple of them, and I just fell" against Wisconsin.

Comments

Unverified Voracity In Sensible Heels

Unverified Voracity In Sensible Heels Comment Count

Brian November 19th, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Senior day fluff. But somtimes fluff is okay:

Please don't do this. People of the internet: UFR numbers are dangerous things when taken too seriously, and while I think they're on track most of the time—or I wouldn't do it—the place where they're shakiest is in the secondary, where players rarely get on screen unless they've screwed up. So if you're making a case for James Rogers as Michigan's best defensive back it makes me wince when UFR totals get brought out. MNB Dave doesn't go hog wild with it or anything but just to re-iterate, please take all numbers in the secondary with a grain of salt. I can't see the guys back there most of the time. I do the numbers because they're better than nothing at describing what happened but the why and how are not included.

As an aside, I actually kind of agree with Dave that Rogers has been Michigan's best corner by a nose since his wide receiver allergy hasn't been ruthlessly exploited by McFarve. That's the Michigan secondary in a nutshell.

Is this for real or for roster? A followup on ideal cornerback height finds that All Conference guys in the Big Ten have been 5'11", or at least listed at 5'11", far more often than any other height. Does this mean Michigan is recruiting guys too short to be big time corners? I'm doubtful. The table of filthy lies also known as Michigan's roster displays the scholarship cornerbacks like so:

Number Name Pos Height WT Year Hometown
5 Courtney Avery CB 5-11 174 FR Mansfield, Ohio (Lexington)
12 J.T. Floyd CB 6-0 183 RS SO Greenville, S.C. (J.L. Mann)
18 James Rogers CB 6-1 188 SR Madison Heights, Mich. (Lamphere)
22 Terrence Talbott CB 5-11 179 FR Huber Heights, Ohio (Wayne)
24 Cullen Christian CB 6-0 188 FR Verona, Pa. (Penn Hills)
29 Troy Woolfolk CB 6-0 195 SR Sugar Land, Texas (Dulles)

Avery is listed at 5'9" by ESPN, and Scout with Rivals giving him 5'10". He is not 5'11". Scout's number is from a combine. Talbott is listed at an exacting 5'9.5" at Scout, also a combine number. If you're 5'9" on a college roster you're truly tiny, because they let you wear sensible heels when they put these things together.

When almost half the All Conference guys are one exact height that says short guys get fibbed up to 5'11", I'm guessing.

In the year 2013  Stupid people at Oklahoma newspapers. Our kicker situation could be worse. Doc Sat links a post at the most-loathed Oklahoman, which auto-plays inane banter between Jenni Carlson, the author of the terrible cheap shot that spurred the "I'm a man" rant from Jeff Gundy, and perpetually hungover Barry Trammel. So that's not so good. But after you shudder, hit pause, and think seriously about noscript, you find this out about the Oklahoma roster:

Bob Stoops has granted scholarships to four kickers, with a fifth promised to yet another kicker.

I can hear the jokes now. How many scholarships does it take to screw in a field goal?

But it's true. Jimmy Stevens, Patrick O'Hara, Tress Way and Bryce Easley have scholarships, and Michael Hunnicutt has been promised one next year. None of the five are seniors.

There's an element of typical middle-aged white sportswriter misrepresentation in here since Tress Way is the punter and a very good one, but dude Oklahoma's going to have four kickers on scholarship next year… aww goddammit. I just fact-checked this dip. (Don't click any of these links unless you like inane banter.) Stevens is the starting kicker. O'Hara is a walk-on. Easley is a walk-on. Hunnicutt is not an incoming recruit but another walk-on. It's understood that if a walk-on gets a scholarship one year that's not guaranteed to continue unless the kid establishes himself a starter or major contributor. Oklahoma's going to have maybe two kickers on scholarship next year. BFD. The lesson, as always, is ignore Barry Tramel.

This was going to have something to do with Michigan's kicker situation, I promise, but then it degenerated.

Well, that could have gone worse. The basketball team moved the competition level up slightly yesterday and still made easy work of Bowling Green, winning by 19 and giving up just 29.6 eFG. This is not terribly exciting because last year BG was 14-16 in the MAC and checked in #206 in the Kenpom ratings. A final warmup against Gardner Webb (awful) is followed by tests against Syracuse and some other team in Michigan's preseason tournament.

Etc.: Troy Woolfolk explains the origin of "T-Woolf" in the Daily. I'll translate to internet: "Tloy Woorfork explains the origin of 'T-Woorf' in the Daily." T-Woorf sounds like a Klingon who raps in Dutch. Another Michigan Man podcast, this one previewing Wisconsin. Ricky Stanzi's pro-America stance takes a "darker, Nixonian turn." Soony Saad fluff and a reminder that there's an NCAA tournament game against hated UCF on Sunday.

Comments

Picture Pages: More Throwing Rock

Picture Pages: More Throwing Rock Comment Count

Brian November 18th, 2010 at 12:04 PM

[Sorry about the delay. Internet issues this morning.]

To continue a theme on Michigan's suddenly mediocre run game: dude, it was all Purdue's cover zero approach. Here's a play that's beautifully blocked all around and still ends up with meh results. It's Michigan's final drive of the first half; the Wolverines have the ball first and ten on their own 43.

Standard three wide from Michigan; Purdue moves their nickelback over the slot receiver and has their safeties in that no-mans-land between deep and shallow:

 stretch-wha-1

By the snap they're still in that shallow range; the deeper guy is only seven yards off the LOS—that's where WVU's stack keeps its middle linebacker. Michigan's going to run a stretch:

 stretch-wha-2

As usual the key block is the one in the center of the field, where Schilling and Molk are working to seal the playside DT. you can see above that the playside DE is not slanting inside this time and will get kicked out. Michigan is doing something weird, though: they are blocking the backside end. They've done this a lot this year but in almost all cases they've done it on inside zone plays where a cutback is one of the main ways to gain yards. On a stretch this guy is usually set free to fruitlessly chase.

At the mesh point Robinson gets contain from the safety no jk lol linebacker and hands off. Molk has already gotten across the playside DT, who is dead:

stretch-wha-3

That is a dead DT. With Lewan getting a kickout Smith will have a hole to cut into. Schilling releases downfield and gets a good block on the playside LB; Koger heads outside and pulls the other safety no jk lol lb with him. Hurray yards?

Yes, but issue in the middle of the field wearing #45:

stretch-wha-4

This linebacker is the guy Huyge would have released into if he wasn't blocking Kerrigan. He's totally unblocked and can run down the line as Smith zooms past dead DT and Omameh drives the backside guy yards downfield; Schilling and Koger have picked up eliminating blocks on the other LBs.

stretch-wha-5

Through the hole, Smith is one on one with the LB…

stretch-wha-6

…who tackles.

stretch-wha-7

The end result is a play where all six Michigan offensive linemen get blocks between good and great… and Michigan gets six yards.

Video:

Object lesson type objects:

  • Generic stretch stuff. This is another example of how the stretch usually works when it works: Molk seals that DT, Lewan kicks the DE, Schilling releases into a linebacker, a lead blocker takes another one outside, and running back hits a big gap.
  • Cover zero problem reinforcement. In this particular instance blocking that backside end is a bad idea, but with eight guys in the box Michigan knows they'll leave contain to a safety and send Kerrigan tearing down the line. If Smith has to cut behind Molk he will be swallowed at the LOS. There's a nonzero chance Kerrigan manages to grab Smith from behind even if the blocking plays out like this. Michigan has a choice between leaving the MLB free or leaving a guy they know will crash down the LOS free. In this particular instance getting a block on the MLB, even a crappy-push-by-the-RB-forcing-a-cutback block, is a touchdown unless Smith gets run down from behind.

    The fundamental math is still the same: there is going to be an unblocked guy in the box and Purdue can slant and shift its defense in an effort to get the ballcarrier to an unblocked guy. On the previous example Purdue did this effectively; here they hang on by the skin of their teeth but do get it done.

  • Weather allows cover zero. BWS did a post on Michigan's only successful gotcha play, the fourth quarter completion to Kevin Koger that jump-started Michigan's final touchdown drive and was so wide open Denard could throw a wobbly underthrown duck and still have it easily complete. The pass on that play and about a dozen other hilariously misthrown balls by all four quarterbacks goes a long way towards justifying Michigan's resignation to pounding its head into the wall repeatedly. I'm sure Michigan won't do this again—not that they'll have an opportunity against Wisconsin and Ohio State, two teams that won't run cover zero much if at all.

Comments

Picture Pages: Throwing Rock Against A Slant

Picture Pages: Throwing Rock Against A Slant Comment Count

Brian November 17th, 2010 at 1:33 PM

UFRing the Purdue game was a blast from the past, and in a frustrating way. After the first drive Purdue spent much of the day with eight guys in the box, and Michigan ran at them anyway. Since Michigan's always based out of a three-wide formation this is the equivalent of having nine guys against a tradition I-form; Purdue spent the day showing really soft man zero that may have morphed into cover three after the snap but still should have provided Michigan ample opportunity to exploit the big chunks of space Purdue was leaving open.

Look at Roundtree here:

slant-under-stretch-1

That was his whole day: sitting by himself and never getting a bubble. There were a lot of reasons for this—primarily the weather and Michigan's reluctance to do anything risky against a Purdue offense that's much worse than Michigan's defense—that were in retrospect correct. At the time it was very frustrating.

Anyway, this Picture Pages is about what this eighth guy in the box allowed Purdue to do. Going into the UFR I was hoping I'd see something that would explain why the offensive line seemed to get whipped so badly, and I think this is it. So that's the setup above. It's Michigan's third drive of the second half. They start on the twenty, it's first and ten, and Purdue has eight in the box. Michigan runs a basic stretch at them.

A moment after the snap you can see that the Purdue linemen are slanting away from the stretch instead of flowing with it. This is not something you see often:

slant-under-stretch-2

At the mesh point Robinson sees the slot guy containing and Kerrigan moving upfield past Huyge, who's releasing, so he hands off.

slant-under-stretch-3

A moment after the handoff we see that Molk has completely sealed the playside DT. Normally on a stretch play this means the opponent is dead meat. That's because the playside DE has to maintain contain and sets up outside the OT, which means running a good distance outside, which means there's a huge lane for the tailback and whichever guard is playside gets a free release at one linebacker in a lot of space.

Here the DE has not maintained contain. He's slanted inside Lewan and threatens to get upfield for a TFL. Also the MLB is driving hard to the outside. Schilling either aborts his release to rub the DE or just gets caught up on the Lewan block in an effort to get out on the charging LB:

slant-under-stretch-4

A moment later we see that Molk has erased both DTs with the seal but the playside DE is sitting in that hole. Lewan knows he's lost the battle and starts shoving him past the tailback. Smith has to go outside, where he's got a lead blocker in Hopkins against two Purdue linebackers. Schilling has no chance on the MLB since he shot for this exact hole at the snap:

slant-under-stretch-5

A moment later Hopkins kicks one guy, Lewan shoves the DE, and Schilling is following the other linebacker into the hole. Smith's cutting up because he doesn't have much of a choice.

slant-under-stretch-6

Linebacker is now the blur between Schilling and Smith. Schilling's managed to get him to run past the play a bit and he's got to make a diving ankle tackle…

slant-under-stretch-7

…but he does:

slant-under-stretch-8

Michigan receives zero yards.

Video:

Object lesson type objects:

  • Purdue can only do this because they have eight guys in the box against six blockers. One goes with Denard, so that's seven on six. Normally you see playside DEs set up outside on the stretch because if they don't that lead blocker to the outside threatens to pound a single linebacker and send the tailback into the secondary. Here Purdue outnumbers Michigan, which allows them to slant that DE inside and still get two guys on the perimeter when Lewan pushes the DE past the back. Purdue consistently answered the "one safety or zero" question with zero, and these were the results. Here they get the play to go exactly where they want to and kill it.
  • I don't think anyone blocking did anything wrong. The only block in question is the one on the playside DE where the guy gets under Lewan because he's slanting inside. If that DE gets past Lewan into the backfield that's a major issue but a main principle of zone blocking is you take the guy where he wants to go faster than he wants to go. Guy wanted to go inside, Lewan shoves him inside and opens up a crease at the LOS. Extra linebacker makes the play. The only thing I think Michigan could have done here is a weird anti-scoop where Schilling shoves the DE outside of Lewan instead of shoving the DT inside of Molk. I don't know if anyone's ever tried that so it's hard to blame the players.
  • This is actually close to breaking for some yardage maybe? Despite all this Schilling's good-faith effort to do something with that filling linebacker and Lewan's ability to create a decent hole sees Smith almost cut past the charging LB, whereupon he'd get somewhere between five and many yards. He can't.

    That's not a serious knock on Smith on his most effective day as a Wolverine. A back with the ability to make the cut he does on this sloppy field and the speed/power to run through that ankle tackle attempt would be a special guy indeed; hopefully Demetrius Hart can be that guy.

So, yes, I think I did find an explanation in what Purdue was doing that partially exonerated the offensive line. Michigan saw this front all day and kept running into it, which resulted in a crappy day on the ground. In this case the "crappy day on the ground" is 4.3 YPC excluding sacks, which is basically what good DeBord teams averaged on the ground. Since DeBord absolutely loved to run "away" from the extra guy and out-execute in the face of herculean odds, this makes sense.

Michigan's offense is going to net a huge RPS minus in UFR because of this rock, rock, rock playcalling, but don't take that too seriously. I get why they did it when Denard threw two horrible interceptions and a lot of his simple hitch routes to the sidelines were fluttering ducks. The conditions affected his throwing significantly, and allowed Purdue to spend 80% of the game running cover zero. When they stopped this on Michigan's late third-quarter drive from their own four, Michigan went right down the field until a clipping penalty on Lewan put them in second and forever.

More tomorrow when the offense UFR drops.

Comments

Senior Day Haiku

Senior Day Haiku Comment Count

Brian November 16th, 2010 at 4:14 PM

An annual tradition. Special bonus this year: holy pants there are no seniors. Usually I skip a bunch of anonymous walk-ons who never saw the field unless they have a silly name; this year this is it.

Michigan runningback Kevin Grady runs the ball  during the second half of the Wolverine's 2009 season opener 31-7 win, versus Western Michigan University at Michigan Stadium, Saturday, September 5th.
Melanie Maxwell| Ann Arbor.com
  Martell Webb

It goes thump. Sometimes
it catches or drops a pass.
Mostly it goes thump.

Perry Dorrestein

Bad back, outed grades
but through it all a kickin'
Punisher tattoo

Steve Schilling

Been around forever
Witnessed the Horror up close
Football purple heart

John Ferrara

Thrown into the fire
just two weeks after switching
'08: the nutshell

Adam Patterson

One last swing hits sod
A shaft of daylight strikes down
Hello two deep

Renaldo Sagesse

Hurling hockey kids,
the largest man in Quebec came
and he was all right

Greg Banks

Took the Moosman crown
as player most likely to
impress your TA

Obi Ezeh

Why did you tattoo
"Stand around, think about plants"
across your torso?

mark-moundros-nwBONUS NOT MEAN HAIKU

Like Schilling, lived
through every last awful bit
and never complained

Jonas Mouton

The west wind in fall
brings everything, and then
takes everything

Mark Moundros

Walk-on captains are
intimidatingly bald
pretty much always

James Rogers

The last vagabond
a-wander from spot to spot:
Dread Pirate Rogers

COMMENCE THE SYLLABLE COUNTING.

Comments

Picture Pages: Backside DE Pursuit

Picture Pages: Backside DE Pursuit Comment Count

Brian October 12th, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Over the past five years I've watched a lot of football plays over and over until I understood them (or threw my hands up and asked the peanut gallery). The play I've seen more than any other in that time is the zone stretch. DeBord ran almost literally nothing else, and it was the most common play in the RR offense's first two years. Though Michigan's gone away from it with Denard, boy do I have the zone stretch down.

This is not a zone stretch. It's a power off tackle QB run where the nearside guard pulls (AKA "down g") and the guys on the outside block down. But it does demonstrate a key element of defending outside runs of any variety where cutbacks are possibly lethal.

It's the first play of Michigan's fourth drive of the day. MSU has just scored a 61-yard touchdown on a zone stretch cutback that we'll address later. It's first and ten; Michigan comes out in a three-wide package with Stephen Hopkins as the back. The first shot is a little early; Robinson drops back so Hopkins is at stretch depth.

The key guy here is somewhat unusual given the play: the backside DE. He's to the top of the screen: backside-flow-1

On the snap Michigan sends Robinson to the strong side of the formation:

backside-flow-2

Key bits in the frame above: Webb and Lewan are blocking down on the playside DE and DT as Schilling pulls around. Hopkins is sprinting out as a lead blocker, leaving Schilling and Hopkins taking on the two playside LBs; Molk has to cut the WLB.

In the next frame Molk has gotten out on the WLB. Schilling has gotten shoved back by that playside DT, which we can't see yet but will in the next frame. The backside DE has read the direction of the play and is in the process of releasing from Dorrestein:

backside-flow-3

Molk chops the WLB. He's dead. Webb has crushed the playside DE inside. There's major gap. Problem: Robinson has basically caught Schilling already because of the shove from the DT:

backside-flow-4

…he's now a yard in front of Denard and not moving forward. This is the equivalent of being behind Denard.

Meanwhile, the backside DE has totally disengaged from Dorrestein by giving ground and is taking a pursuit angle slightly downfield. Dorrestein is caught up in the wash closer to the LOS, demonstrating why you give ground in pursuit. You can watch him get slightly further and further from the LOS as he flows down the line:

backside-flow-5

In the next frame Hopkins gets a good block on the OLB. Schilling is now a yard behind Robinson and useless, leaving a one-on-one matchup between Denard and Greg Jones:

backside-flow-6

WOOP!

backside-flow-7

Robinson jukes past the over-pursuing Jones. He has room to do this because the playside DT is off the screen upfield and the playside DE is still trying to get off Webb's excellent block. He is one step from cutting back outside and turning on the afterburners when…

backside-flow-8

The backside defensive end, now four yards off the LOS and running his ass off, makes a desperation lunge. Robinson trips and the gain is held down to seven yards.

[No video yet since I'm still converting.]

Object lessons:

  • Denard: pretty good at running. The vaunted Jones looked like Ezeh here.
  • Backside DE pursuit is important. It goes like this: diagnose run play headed away from you. Get playside of your blocker by releasing from him and flowing down the line of scrimmage at an angle that takes you about three yards downfield by the time you hit the point of attack. Hope someone funnels the ballcarrier to you and tackle.

    Without the backside DE doing this correctly, Denard has 15, 20, maybe 60 yards.

  • Why no cut from Dorrestein? In frames two and three it seems obvious that Dorrestein can get an easy cut block on the DE, eliminating him. Instead he tries to flow down the line with him, gets caught up in the wash, and loses the guy who eventually makes the tackle. I'm sure he's coached to do this, but I can't understand why the play doesn't call for an easy cut block on this guy. Even one step of delay and Robinson is off.
  • Webb is a major component of the run game. He's got a fairly easy block since MSU is intent on the inside zone and the belly and whatnot so the backside guys are attempting to slant into the gaps inside of the blockers. Even so he drives the DE way, way inside and holds that block long enough for Robinson to make up for the shove that eliminated Schilling from the play.
  • This play is a counter to the inside zone. I stole my thunder on this one in the last bullet but to reiterate: Michigan was running a ton of inside zone on which the backside DE was contain and the backside DT was blasted off the ball by double teams. MSU made an adjustment on Michigan's previous drive—the three and out on which Smith was stuffed on an inside zone on third and one—and Michigan comes out on their next play with this. They get the playside linemen blocked way out of the play and the WLB cut; they should have two lead blockers for Robinson against two guys but for the shove on Schilling. Even though they lose one of the lead blockers the linemen have been bludgeoned out of the play to the extent that Robinson can juke Jones to the inside and still pick up a good gain.
  • Hopkins pops guys. This is not a surprise since he's 230 pounds of near-fullback, but Stephen Hopkins has displayed superior blocking ability in his brief cameos. He gets in people and shoves them back; Smith and to a lesser extent Shaw get in the way of people and hope it's enough. I want more Hopkins. He makes Denard better and provides a thunderous counter to all that dilithium.
  • This was the story of the first half. This is one of maybe a dozen plays on which one player fails to execute and costs Michigan a touchdown. Here it was Dorrestein and somewhat Schilling; Robinson made up for one of them but not the other. Other times it was Lewan or Robinson or Roundtree or Grady. I think this was just one of those days. So far I've seen mostly domination from the offensive line. I wonder what changes in a rougher second half.

Comments

Monday Player Presser Notes 10-4-10

Monday Player Presser Notes 10-4-10 Comment Count

Tim October 4th, 2010 at 4:02 PM

IMG_20101004_134747.jpg

Denard Robinson

"I'm feeling good. Feeling alright. Just got done lifting." He felt pretty good yesterday after the Indiana game. Staying healthy - "I guess every Big Ten game's going to be a big game. I've been working out, I've gotten treatment, doing everything I can to take care of my body."

"I love people, so it's not that bad" getting recognized around campus.

"I've made some bad reads, and I kind of overthrew a couple guys. There's always time for improvement." Doesn't worry about his stats, so he doesn't care what people are saying about him. "Just don't watch it, don't read it, stay away from it."

Teammates can make plays "don't try to make too many plays."

On Roundtree: "Roy, just give him the ball and he's going to make something happen." He just makes plays. "We could do that with all our receivers, but he's standing out right now."

OL has been performing every week. "That's who I've gotta give thanks to all the time. Them and God."

Doesn't get any bigger than M-MSU [Ed: just wait a few weeks, son], it's going to be a hard-fought game. "They're a great team, they're a physical team, and they come to play. It's going to be a hard game." Everybody gets pumped up for this game, especially in-state guys.

"I was playing with him. I felt like I was in the game and just playing with him." During Tate's comeback at MSU last year.

Greg Jones is a fast, physical player who can hit. "As a quarterback, you've gotta read everybody else, not just one player." Nobody's tried to spy Denard with one player yet, we'll see what MSU does.

Roy Roundtree

"Mike Shaw is doing good." He told Roundtree he's ready for Saturday. Just needs to go in, watch film, and get ready.

Denard is always worried about getting better, and that's what he's doing. "Man, Shoelace just too fast... Coach Rod just tells him 'run straight,' and once he runs, he runs." Depth at QB means that the offense doesn't struggle too much when Denard goes out. Denard is humble, and doesn't worry about the Heisman hype he's getting. "This week, he's gotta get better, and get us right." The skill players like to have the quarterback motivate them.

Roy works hard and listens to the coaches to get better. "It's showing Saturdays, but I know I've got a lot to improve."

"When we're out there, we don't really know the stats and whatnot. We just go out there and play Michigan football." Not worried about how many yards they got. Happy for Junior's big game against IU after the fact.

Everybody knows their offensive assignments now, the team is prepared well.

Intense this week? "Come on man, it's Michigan State, it's rivalry week." This will be the biggest game Roy's played at Michigan Stadium outside of Ohio State last year. Need to have a great attitude this week to get the win. "This week is like a different intensity level."

"You just gotta be ready, man. It's all preparation." Can stay undefeated and clinch bowl eligibility this game. "What happened last year was last year. You know, it hurt all of us. But we've gotta do what we've gotta do today to get ready for Michigan State."

"I still get nervous each game, so it don't really bother me." Prepares hard, which makes him confident for each play he's out there.

They've played tough defenses, not worried about putting up stats, just getting ready for the next D they'll face.

Steve Schilling

On Denard- "Any time he breaks through there, we know he's gone, which is a great feeling to have." The more yards Denard gains, the better it is for the offense.

Confident in the offense even if Denard goes out. Tate and Devin getting snaps, and they can spread the ball around. "I'm pretty confident in our offense no matter who's out there. Obviously 16's a special player."

You're getting the job done if you score quickly on offense.

Patrick's been playing really well, Taylor's been showing what the players knew he could do.

The OL is confident in the running game, hopefully they can run for more yards and get the win (as the team who has rushed for more yards has won 30 of the past 33 matchups between these teams).

Was never into the Washington-Washington State rivalry. Michigan-MSU is a much bigger rivalry. "Even if you win the Big Ten, you didn't win the state championship" if you lose to MSU.

Seniors will explain the importance of this game to some of the younger guys. "If you come to Michigan and you don't understand the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State... it's almost set in stone." They'll also hear from some former players about the rivalry.

Doesn't hear from students about losing to MSU twice in a row. "I know the fanbase obviously wants to get a win." Lots of people want to beat State. Winning as a senior is the most important, because it's the one you remember. "To be able to go out with a win, and to be able to say you beat Michigan State in your senior year is huge."

"Michigan State's always a physical game." Not particularly concerned for Denard, because he's a tough guy. He understands the importance of the rivalry. Maybe a little more banged up than he lets on with his toughness, good leadership.

Schilling hopes Michigan's speed can trump State's size. Endurance will be a big factor as well. "Some of the non-conference teams were smaller" up front. Michigan State has more size. Big Ten teams in general are a bit bigger.

Greg Jones is almost always leading the nation in tackles. He powers through blocks and makes a lot of plays.

"It's a big test for us. Coming in undefeated, there's a lot of angles to kind of approach it." Lots of storylines, looking to come out of the game undefeated.

Mike Martin

Big sack against Indiana - "It was an exciting play, a big play for our defense."

"I've seen still pictures of myself before I snap the ball, and it kind of scares myself" the faces he makes.

Creating turnovers is a big emphasis. Coach Robinson talks about it, because you have the opportunity to get the offense the ball more than the other team.

He was used some at DE against the Hoosiers. "It's a different look. Whenever you can give a different look to an opposing team, I think it confuses them." They'll practice it again this week.

Patterson is a good sub when Martin needs a rest.

It's nice seeing other defenses chasing Denard around, because Martin, Van Bergen, and Banks have to do it in practice all the time. "He's always been a hard worker."

Michigan State is a big game for both teams. Excited to prepare this week. "I always grew up watching Michigan, so I loved Michigan through thick and thin... I never really liked the color green."

Tough to lose the last two years, but it will help be motivated to get the win. "We do remember what happened in the past, and the past two years have been hard." It's made the team better overall and closer as a unit.

Making a bowl is a team goal, along with winning the Big Ten. "If we can just control what we can control" that's all you can ask for. "We always remind ourselves of our goals." Keeping it in sight reminds you of what you can do.

MSU's offense is good, Martin has already watched a bit of film. "We're just gonna prepare as best as we can. Guys are getting in the film room on their own."

"I love the fact that they're undefeated. That just makes this game even bigger. I think that ensures they give their best on Saturday, and I wouldn't want it any other way."

There's a bit more talking between teams in a heated, in-state rivalry game like this one.

MSU's line looks athletic, and they play hard. Both teams play a little harder in this game, because it's a big deal.

Obi Ezeh

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Doesn't worry about what outside people are saying about the defense. He knows the defense has its issues (as does the offense). "They're all correctable. Every team's going to have issues, and every unit's going to have issues. We have five new starters so we're kind of learning as we go here... We're undefeated and we haven't played our best football yet."

"It works in practice, so it should work in games." Some issues are people trying to do a bit too much. Defense is improving this year, taking strides inthe right direction.

It's good to win the games, but you know where to draw the line with letting it get to your head. "As soon as I leave here and go down to the biulding, I put on my business face and go to work."

Not worried about bowl eligibility right now. Try to win the game, and that will happen on its own. "Those rivalry games are always big for us... it doesn't matter if we haven't won a game going into those, it's always going to be a big game."

Want to stop the run against MSU - "that's usually the key to victory in most games." Get after the QB and punish their skill players. "I feel more needed" when the opponent will try to run the ball.

Was always interested in Michigan running backs growing up, so he was on the Michigan side. Was a RB in high school.

"Year-round I hear from all of my ex-classmates who have gone to Michigan State. A lot of the families back home are either Michigan or Michigan State." The in-state rivalry is an all-year thing.

"It's not easy, it's not fun" to lose two in a row and not have bragging rights. "That's part of our motivation is to go out and get those bragging rights back."

Do you root for MSU in other games? "I don't. I would like them to have as much success as possible before they play us." It doesn't rise to the level of rooting, though.

"I hope the crowd's really rocking on Saturday."

Jordan Kovacs

"I think every defensive player takes that personal, and it makes us even hungrier for the win" when people talk down on the M defense.

Improvements are happening week-to-week, particularly the young guys. "I know it something that's surely going to show up in games."

Mike Martin played well against Indiana. "It worked out pretty well, he was definitely getting after the quarterback." Defense hurt themselves with some penalties, and that stuff is correctable.

The players may be fueled by losing the last two to Michigan State, but the past is in the past. "It doesn't matter if it's my first win or my fourth win against them, any time you can play Michigan State, you'd better be motivated."

Keys to the game: "It doesn't matter who your opponent is, any time you can make a team one-dimensional... you've got a chance of winning the game."

Cousins is a great QB, and they have a great offense. This should be the biggest challenge so far for the defense this year.

RBs are big guys that can move. Probably the best Michigan has seen this year.

Denard: "He's something else (laughs)." Other teams can try to contain him, but Kovacs doesn't know how they'll do it. "You've gotta have some speed, that's for sure."

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