Go Blue Bowl Tailgate This Saturday

Go Blue Bowl Tailgate This Saturday Comment Count

Seth October 8th, 2014 at 9:00 PM

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[Reposting for those who missed yesterday]

What? MGoBlog and handful of former Michigan players who are disproportionately cornerbacks about my age are going to be tailgating before the PSU game at Marlin Jackson's Go Blue Bowl Tailgate charity drive. There will be a raffle, and a tailgate Olympics where fans are teamed with former players for maizehole/beer pong/ladder toss, and a Q&A session MC'ed by Brian, and beer.

Where? The North End Zone, 1011 S. Main St., Building B, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Technically it would be Michigan Stadium's north end zone if the field was 300 yards long. It's the white and green house on Main Street, opposite Pauline, off the northwest gate of the Big House.

Ann Arbor Tailgate Location

When? 3 pm to 6 pm this Saturday. Games will start at 4-ish, probably do the Q&A from 5 pm to whenever it breaks up or it's time to go to the game.

Who exactly? Well, Brian Cook, Seth Fisher, Ace Anbender, Adam Schnepp, Orson, MMMGoBlueBBQ promised to stop by, my 7-month old…oh you meant important people? Confirmed so far are Marlin Jackson, Brandon Williams, Todd Howard, Marcus Ray, Cato June, Chris Perry, and Zia Combs. As these things go, more are planning to come but can't make promises.

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Looks like this except none of us wear khakis and polos.

  The event was organized by Marlin's people, who asked us to participate.

NOBODY under 21 (except babies). They are checking IDs.

What's the cause? The Go Blue Bowl Tailgate and the Go Blue Bowl Football Challenge support Marlin's Fight for Life Foundation, as well as the the Phalen Leadership Academies, the Peace Neighborhood Center of Ann Arbor, the Summer Advantage Program, and Go Blue Then and Now. These all* fund extracurricular and catch-up programs for at-risk kids.

Marlin started FFL in Indianapolis and has expanded the concept up to Michigan. The school systems where these kids live have been dropping such programs and don't have the ability to implement modern teaching techniques (even though we've known they work for 15+ years) so FFL provides that. It's evolved a bit since we started supporting it: the in-school programs are Building Dreams/Field of Dreams (elementary/middle), and RAP (high school). Seal the Deal is the after-school youth flag football program. And they've added Be a Blessing!, which follows up with the kids who've been in their programs, and provides need-based assistance to their families.

Go Blue Then and Now is an umbrella organization for former Michigan players' charities.

The Go Blue Bowl itself is a flag football game for local kids football teams where former Michigan players coach them for a day (or most of a day then hide indoors because their Floridian skin still can't handle Michigan weather; not naming any names that are also a unit of measurement).

I gotta make a donation right? Yes, but what you can afford. We urge you to donate beforehand on Marlin's website, or buy some raffle tickets when you arrive, or be like "here's five dollars" at the gate. I do ask if you're going to drink the beer you donate like $20 at the door so they don't end up taking a loss on the provisioning of said suds. Suggested minimal donation if you're just gonna come by for the Q&A is $5. The point of the tailgate is to raise money for these charities.

There are things you get for donation levels of $100 and above, like access to the VIP lounge where players with weak-ass Floridian skin might be hiding, and signed memorabilia, and corporate sponsorship displays.

Also one sponsor who sends a check ahead of time will get two free tickets to the Penn State game that one of our readers donated to the cause.

The raffle? I'm not sure of everything that will be there; when we did our tailgate last year Marlin brought a jersey signed by Woodley and some footballs and t-shirts, and Six Zero had a drawing of a half-lion/half-Devin Gardner. There's a Michigan Stadium print by Bennie (godson of THAT Bennie) McCready that I'm bringing. And you can win a spot in the tailgate Olympics.

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Hokepoints: Keep Believing

Hokepoints: Keep Believing Comment Count

Seth September 30th, 2014 at 4:56 PM

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Todd Howard came to Michigan in 1998, following the national championship season. We both grew up in the same middle class suburb (Southfield) before moving to more affluent ones. But he was a highly recruited scholarship athlete who played cornerback for four years on the Michigan football team, while I was sort-of recruited journalism student who played guitar on a couch at the Michigan Daily.

Todd now coaches defensive backs in his post-Southfield hometown of Bolingbrook. We've developed a recent friendship over M football obsession, and some heated disagreements, plus wives pregnant at the same time. His perspective is one of a guy who came to Michigan and had it made clear upon arrival that no player is bigger than the program. His perspective is also one of a player who played in an era when "getting your bell rung" was common, "shaking off the cobwebs" was routine, and everybody "saw" a few more snaps than they actually played. But he's also a modern high school coach with responsibility for player safety, and a defensive back who believes inside routes should be punishable by death.

He agreed to let me share a thing he wrote on Facebook and some bits from our text message marathon last night.

From the texts:

  • Supports Hoke, says he's a good coach and the right coach for Michigan.
  • Players always play hurt.
  • Doesn't know what's going on in the administration and can't affect it.
  • Want people thinking long-term: Michigan will be great again. Supports people speaking out, but turning away disgusts him.
  • Every effort should be made to show the players they're supported, including showing up to games and cheering for them and not distracting the coaches further.

The Facebook open letter to fans:

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Dear Michigan "Fans"...I really couldn't have said it any better myself. You took success for granted. 8 win seasons became the norm and you got comfortable. You never saw the hard work and late hours put in behind those brick walls of Shembechler. The lack of sleep, barely being able to drag yourself to class, minor addictions to pain killers, while fighting to remain academically eligible. PLAYING through injuries most of you couldn't make it up a flight of stairs with. The coaches preparation every week from sun up to sun UP, sacrificing valuable time with their own families so the BEST team possible could take the field on Saturday.

Now your "favorite" team is going through some adversity and look at you! Look at how you respond. Are you a Michigan FAN because it's convenient? Sure, every one loves a winner...if that's the case take your allegiance down I-96.

It's so easy for you to call for Hoke's job. You've never met him, never had a beer with him, never seen him COACH! Only interviews and cutaways on Saturday. If you think you want to win, multiple that by 100 and MAYBE you'll attain the same passion he has for football and an equivalent compassion for his players.

My brothers and myself are Michigan MEN, not FANS! So to read some of your comments and rants is a little disheartening. Is this how you would've ridiculed us had we not been as successful? Would you not inbox us autograph requests?

When you're team is up, cheer! When you're team is down, cheer LOUDER! When your team wins, congratulate them. When your team loses, sympathize and have pride in the fact they gave everything they could. That's a TRUE fan...but instead you're spoiled. It's a privilege to cheer for Michigan. It's a privilege to sit in the Big House...not an obligation. "The Expectation is for the POSITION!" Back to yours!!!

/adjusts Michigan hat

...as you were. HAIL!

[My rebuttal, after the jump.]

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Basketballgasm 2014: Day 1 Liveblog

Basketballgasm 2014: Day 1 Liveblog Comment Count

Seth March 20th, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Die, work productivity! Die before the might of The Great Thursday of the Basketballing (also: hockey), and the grilling of former football players on things of interest.

The Celebrity Mods: By seniority, Todd Howard (CB, 1998-'01); Brandon Williams (CB, 1999-'02), who wrangled them all together; Tim Massaquoi (WR/TE, 2001-'05); Jordan Kovacs# (S, 2009-'12); and Michael Schofield (OL, 2009-'13). They'll be in and out ds-main-logothroughout the day.

# = never gets to live it down.

The Sponsor: As they did last year, our official fantasy game partner DraftStreet stepped up. If you're getting bored between games today, head on over to their dashboard and sign up for any of their games. That link goes to the NBA one I just started. Or just check in on your team for the $40k (or $20k if you came late) tourney we've been on about all week.

The Cause: We've got a bunch of former players coming by today to answer your questions, yap about the ballgames with you, and support the Go Blue Bowl, on April 4.

GBB

Flier (click to see list of players attending, etc.):

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It's a series of evening flag football games at Pioneer between teams coached by former Michigan players. Two teams will be made up of sponsors and you can still get in on that. The event benefits Marlin Jackon's Fight for Life Foundation.

The Schedule: As we get going it'll be general discussion time while the Ohio State-Dayton (12:15) and Wisconsin-American (12:40) are on, continuing that through Pitt-Colorado (1:40), and Cincy-Harvard (2:10). At 3pm we'll switch to the hockey game vs Penn State, go to Michigan State's game after that, and that should carry us to the Michigan-Wofford game tonight.

The Mitigation of Liveblog Chaos: Read it. Know it. Love it. Be it.

GO BLUE! Always.

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Dear Diary is Banged Up, Could Have Used a Shirt

Dear Diary is Banged Up, Could Have Used a Shirt Comment Count

Seth December 13th, 2013 at 10:56 AM

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This is how Brady Hoke sees an 'M'. [Upchurch]

Recruits: if you are reading this, do not believe the man in the red/crimson track suit telling you that criticism of Brady Hoke or his staff means Michigan is going to lose him anytime soon. Those are very bad men who are likely to have you downsized to Southern Alabama or regularly featured in photographs and articles that highlight how bad you are at tackling. You also should pay no attention to bloggers who suggest you should ride pine until 2016 and that your future coach needs to win X amount of games until then to even be his coach. Also I shouldn't be talking to you.

Fifth-year seniors >>>>>>> freshmen on special teams. That's why I strongly disagree with the conclusions of AC1997's assessment of this year's redshirting, while appreciating the hell out of the diary (quick read, too). The only one he's mad about is Da'Mario Jones, while Bosch and York are "questionable." I know we did this recently in a roundtable but my take is different:

  • Obviously play him: Smith, Butt, Gedeon. All were effective and needed.
  • Not mad but needed a shirt: Shane—we've discussed this. Green but you kind of have to play five-stars. Bosch but chances are good there's still two decent 2017 starting guards out of Samuelson, Dawson, and Mason Cole and other 2014/15 recruits.
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    Me in 2017 is (probably) very upset about this. [Fuller]
  • Mad: The safeties and receivers and here's our big disagreement. Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill are perfect examples of the reason we have a tag about burning redshirts on special teams. Jones & York—Mathlete keeps telling us that returning experience at receiver is a strong indicator of a good offense and vice versa, and unless a receiver has a massive talent lead on the DBs trying to cover him WR effectiveness is about route running and blocking and reps reps reps.
  • Pick ONE cursed freshman corner: Both Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling played, both were pretty good for freshmen, one was needed. Theory: Uber recruits tend to cast a shadow on recruiting their positions, so it's important to have good stocks ahead of them (see: Russell Bellomy/Shane Morris situation). Peppers doesn't fill a depth chart by himself, and if he really is Woodson reincarnate* he'll be gone to the NFL after winning the 2016 Heisman and then we're left with Whitley and Howard.**

At the risk of sounding like every NFL columnist who thinks every franchise needs to adopt the strategy of whichever team just won the Superbowl, the reason Michigan State and Wisconsin have been to Indianapolis twice apiece, despite recruiting classes that top out like our (mediocre-for-Michigan) 2011 haul, is because they redshirt almost everybody and keep them around.

It's a luxury of stable programs, and Michigan is still paying for not being one of those for the latter half of the 2000s. Denard would have been nice to have this year, obviously. How badly did you wish for Vincent Smith when the RBs were getting Gardner killed? How's Michigan's pass rush if you add fifth years from Roh and Campbell to it? Brandin Hawthorne could have let you put a shirt on Gedeon. Developed talent is good. Fifth year seniors are good. Leastways they're better than a marginal improvement in kickoff coverage for a team that rarely scores touchdowns.

-------------------------------------

*[Nobody is Woodson reincarnate. The thing about the greatest players in the history of the game is they don't grow on trees.]

** [I mean who wants 1998 Todd Howard starting? He's a true freshman. He's short. He doesn't know how to press yet. He's…he's right behind me isn't he?

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Nope, he's over there by Brian.]

That's not what I expected. Okay, reader. Zoom out, cock your head sideways, and tell me with just a glance what you think this diary was about:

thatonepost

Turnover analysis? A deep look inside offensive stats? An estimated timetable for improvement? Nope: try a "when do we fire this guy" post.

Deep, statistical analysis to answer rhetorical fan questions that have simple answers not requiring statistics (Michigan isn't firing Brady Hoke anytime soon): these are my readers tag activated. Really it's a case of bad title—what he's doing is comparing Hoke's coaching stops to those of the most successful coaches in recent history, concluding that Michigan needs to win 20 games in the next two seasons (and probably a national championship) to have his name placed among that pantheon. Expectations are probably around 17, with the fanbase getting mighty grumpy if that number dips below 16.

Your regular etc. LSA tackles (ha!) the defense, which straddled the B+/A- line all year until it faced Miller-Hyde without its middle linebackers.

[After the jump: a very meta board]

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Tomorrow Night in Chicago, an Evening With…

Tomorrow Night in Chicago, an Evening With… Comment Count

Seth November 14th, 2013 at 4:17 PM

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Join us tomorrow night (November 15), from 6-9 pm at Moe's Cantina River North for an evening of beer, bitching about Borges, and basketball.

Bullets!

  • Q&A Session with Brian Cook and Todd Howard and the staff of MGoBlog!
  • Drinking with other MGoReaders!
  • Bitching and moaning, mostly regarding the offensive coaching!
  • We already mentioned the Q&A, didn't we!
  • More drinking!
  • Snark (probably)!
  • Celebrity deathmatch of Henri the Otter of Ennui vs. Tacopants!
  • Talking about the Michigan's hockey team (if you let us)!
  • Absolutely no justification whatsoever for the exclamation marks in these bullet points!

The Venue:

Will be at

Moe's Cantina River North

155 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, IL 60654, one block north of the Chicago River between LaSalle and N Wells. M: Merchandise Mart.

WSG: Todd Howard, who will arrive around 8 p.m. for the Q&A and hang out after.

dn13

HT DeSimone (Sorry but the next best photos of him were all getting torched by a giant Plaxico)

Presented by:

Who still has a couple of spots and tickets left if you're like hmmm I think I'll go to Chicago this weekend.

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Picture Pages: How To Press Michael Floyd And Live

Picture Pages: How To Press Michael Floyd And Live Comment Count

Brian September 16th, 2011 at 12:07 PM

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A few rows in front of me at the Western game was one of those guys who exasperatedly yells out a piece of football wisdom he's picked up over the years whenever he is affronted by its lack. His wisdom was "turn around for the ball," which he yelled at Herron a couple times and the cornerbacks a couple times.

I was with him, but then a funny thing happened: no one could complete a fly route on these mediocre corners. Here's everything I've got marked fly/go/fade (which I am totally inconsistent about) from the first two weeks:

Opp Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Rush Play Player Yards
WMU M25 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press 6 Fly Floyd Inc
Demens's delayed blitz gets him in free(pressure +1, RPS +1) but I wonder if he didn't time it quite right. Another step and Carder is seriously harried. As it is he gets off an accurate deep ball on Floyd's guy, who's got a step. Floyd runs his ass off, starts tugging jersey early, and... I'll be damned. He strips the ball loose(+2, cover +1). That was textbook. Gibson -1.
WMU M19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Eff It 7 Fly Avery Inc
Sends: house. Obviously something gets through(pressure +1); Carder chucks it deep to a fly route Avery(+2, cover +1) has step for step. He's right in the WR's chest as he goes up for the ball. WR leaps, then reaches out and low in an attempt to stab the ball. Avery rakes it out. Gibson -2. Demens(+1) leveled Carder, BTW.
Opp Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Rush Play Player Yards
ND O36 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even 5 Fade Woolfolk Inc
Hawthorne as a standup DE-ish thing and Ryan as an MLB. Blitz telegraphed? I don't remember this play. Survey says... yes. Ryan blitzes, Hawthorne drops into coverage, ND picks it up. Rees wants Floyd on a fade covered by Woolfolk. Woolfolk(+2) is step for step and uses his club to knock the ball away as it arrives. Robinson(+0.5) was there to whack him, too. (Cover +1)
ND O44 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even 4 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
No question about this. Avery shoves Floyd OOB on a very catchable fade (-2, cover -1).
ND O43 2 26 Shotgun 3-wide Okie 5 Fade Floyd 26
Floyd on Floyd action. Floyd(+1, cover +1) has excellent, blanketing coverage on Floyd but the back shoulder throw is perfect and his hand is a half-second late. Floyd stabs a foot down and Floyd can't do much other than ride him out of bounds. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. This is one of those times. That is hard. That is why Floyd (not our Floyd) is going to be rich in about nine months.
ND M21 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie 5 Fade Van Bergen Inc
They back out the MLBs this time and send the DL plus the OLBs. RVB(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) is instantly past the G assigned to him because of a poor pickup; Rees chucks a ball off his back foot that's not catchable. Eifert gives it a go, though.
ND M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even 5 Fade Floyd Inc
Floyd(+2, cover +1) in press here and stays step-for-step with Floyd on the fade, breaking it up as it arrives. Fade is not well thrown, which helps.
ND M22 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even 5 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
Kovacs rolls up; check. They take advantage of the man to man to take a shot at the endzone. Avery(+1, cover +1) is right in the WR's face as the ball comes in; it's low and to the outside and Avery can't do anything about the futile one-handed stab the WR makes, but it's a futile one-handed stab. Avery is hit with a terrible PI flag (refs -1)
ND O39 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even 5 Fade Floyd Inc (Pen 15)
Hawthorne(+1, pressure +1) gets a free run at Rees so he chucks it to Floyd, Floyd(-2, cover -2) is beaten instantly and starts yanking the jersey in a desperate bid to not be an instant goat.
ND M29 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Okie 6 Fade -- Inc
Miscommunication between QB and receiver means pass is nowhere near anyone. Blitz was just getting home.

Your score excluding the miscommunication: two legit pass interference penalties, one horsecrap call, one 26-yard completion to Michael Floyd, five incompletions. What's more, in each case save one pressure-forced incompletion and the two legit PI calls the corners are 1) there and 2) making a play on the ball.

That's seven out of nine legitimately good plays from the DBs on accurate deep balls. On all but one—the legit Avery PI—the corners were on an island as Mattison sent at least five. No bracket here. The Avery PI was a zone, the rest of it was man coverage, much of it press.

Michigan's press-ish coverage success in fly routes in 2011 including a game against Michael Floyd: 88%. The exception was virtually unstoppable and still drew a plus from the ol' softie who does these things. That's miraculous in last year's context. Hell, it's miraculous in a lot of contexts. How has this happened?

Michigan Press Coverage As Explained By Underpants Gnomes
IN STEREO

STEP 1: Line up a yard off the LOS with inside leverage.

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STEP 2: When receiver releases outside, turn hips and run with him real fast.

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STEP 3: NOBODY CARES WHEN RECEIVER LOOKS FOR BALL

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STEP 4: NOBODY CARES!

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STEP 5: When receiver reaches up for ball, punch him in the face.

OPTIONAL: grab his jersey a bit and get away with it
OPTIONAL: scream SHORYUKEN.

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STEP 6: Profit: arm-waving motions indicating that the pass was incomplete.

OPTIONAL: shake head to indicate "no."
OPTIONAL: pick up horsecrap pass interference call.

fade-7fade-8fade-9

Videos

Floyd on Floyd action:

Avery on Jones action:

Interesting Items

Why it works. That whole find-the-ball thing is hard. Todd Howard was coached to do it but always did it late, whipping his head around just in time to see the ball zing by. When you do that you've given yourself an even tougher job than the WR, who's been tracking the thing since it left the QB's hand. Lots can go wrong there. He can slow up and you bowl him over. He can slow up on a deliberately underthrown ball. He can slow, then extend a la Manningham. Or you can just not find the ball quickly enough.

In contrast, the shoryuken technique seems pretty easy. Focus on the WR's chest. When his arms go up, get your arms/head/body in between those arms. Faceguard the guy for bonus points. Net result: incompletion or spectacular Prothro-style catch. Mostly the former.

It's hard to get lost because you're following the WR's chest everywhere, and the only bomb you can't defend is the one that's just past your outstretched arms. That's hard to throw and hard to catch.

Gibson –8. Two games in I am a believer in Tony Gibson Was The Worst. These are the same guys as last year making these plays. Notre Dame clearly identified these fades as a weakness to exploit, especially in press coverage, but got little out of them. If you discount the Avery PI, on the eight fade attempts against press coverage opponents got 41 yards, just over five yards per attempt. Even if you count the Avery PI that hops up to 6.9 YPA—still worse than the NCAA average of 7.2 YPA.

Compare that to last year, when even doing something right meant you did something wrong:

Small sample size disclaimers apply, but Tony Gibson? The worst.

Downsides and low upsides. So this style of coverage seems pretty effective, obviously. There are two major downsides to my eyes:

  1. Low upside. Since you are never looking for the ball you are highly unlikely to intercept it.
  2. A tendency to pick up PI calls. Refs give you more leeway when you are looking for the ball. Bumping a guy with your back to the ball is always going to be an issue, but you can get away with "look and lean," as Spielman calls it.

I'm a little concerned about our corners' speed when asked to run real fast. Against Western Floyd gave up a yard or two of separation to a MAC receiver on his successful fly defense; in the second clip above it kind of feels like on a longer route Jones will pull away from Avery. Those are hypotheticals, though, and whatever limitations of Floyd and Avery have do not currently include a tendency to get burned deep.

This allows cool stuff. Michigan can press with one high safety because of this, which opens up the blitz possibilities that produce big plays. While the coverage style precludes big plays from the cornerbacks it allows them from other parts of the defense, and those big plays are bigger. What would you rather have, an interception 30 yards downfield or the quarterback fumbling the ball?

Tony Gibson. The worst!

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