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My God, the teeth. Spencer Hall is right. Michigan cannot lose to this jaunty-ass helmet:
There is intimidation, and then there is "you lost to a cartoon gopher":
At least Alabama gives you the courtesy of just losing to a color and a number. This? This is horror, a beating served with an adorable smile on its face. This is potentially taking a beating from a cartoon rodent that only wants to serve you hot dish, and then crack the casserole over your head. Don’t lose to Minnesota when they’re wearing these helmets, is what we’re saying. The psychological damage alone could take years of therapy to undo.
Minnesota's ground and pound offense only makes this worse. Rodney Smith bounces off tackles. A lot of tackles. If he breaks your tackle and grabs a first down on carry #30 and pops up to yell "spew" you might disassociate from your body from sheer embarrassment.
Connelly brings numbers to the offense. It's not great:
Michigan has snapped the ball 88 times on first down. The Wolverines are averaging a not-completely-awful 5.3 yards per play, but of their 464 total yards gained, 211 have come on five plays. They have gained one yard or fewer 43 times. Success rate: 33 percent — 27 percent rushing and a much healthier 46 percent passing.
It gets even worse when the Wolverines generate scoring chances. Yards per play on first downs in the red zone: 1.1. They’ve gained zero or fewer yards in eight of 12 instances.
There's a lot of pointing and going THAT about Michigan's offense, which is fine in a post like Connelly's that is a stat post drawing some high-level contours.
To date I've seen little or nothing that goes any deeper about Michigan's redzone issues, if those even exist. "Redzone efficiency" clearly does not exist separate from general efficiency at the NFL level:
We went back and looked at the past five years to compare how teams did in the red zone during the first seven weeks of the season with how they played overall. Let's call this "red zone advantage." ...
The correlation of total offensive DVOA in the first seven weeks to total offensive DVOA in the final 10 weeks is .64. That makes plenty of sense: Teams that play well on offense early in the season are likely to play well on offense late in the season. The same correlation for defense is .48, a little lower but still fairly significant.
However, the correlation for "red zone advantage" is practically nil: .01, to be exact, on both offense and defense. During the past five seasons, at least, "red zone advantage" has done nothing to project how well a team will play in the red zone during the second half of the year.
College might be different if running QBs are a real advantage, and I'd buy that.
But unless you've got a magic potion that gives Wilton Speight dreads and a 4.4 40, talking about Michigan's "redzone issues" is a waste of time. The redzone offense being bad is just the stuff that makes the offense bad in general. There's nothing about Harbaugh's approach that makes Michigan inherently bad at scoring touchdowns—Michigan was 17th in S&P+'s "finishing drives" metric a year ago if you want a number—so this is just bad QB play and bad blocking, which are problems anywhere. There's no magic bullet other than getting better at footballing.
Sharks, like would-be credit card scammers at Florida, are not smooth. Florida's many suspended players might be done for if this comes to fruition:
The nine University of Florida Football players who are facing allegations of having misused school funds, could be arrested as early as the end of this week, sources have told The Read Optional.
Antonio Callaway, Jordan Smith, and one other player are likely to be arrested on charges of felony grand theft, with the possibility of further misdemeanor charges being tagged on, according to a lawyer representing one of the players. It’s anticipated that the other six players will also be arrested, but only three players have hired legal counsel thus far.
At the very least they would be suspended until those charges are resolved, a process that might last for the duration of the season. Compounding matters:
The nine University of Florida football players who have been suspended indefinitely by the school for misuse of school funds, are also under investigation for credit card fraud, by two separate police departments in the Gainesville area, relating to an additional credit card fraud allegation.
Jordan Smith, a freshman defensive end, was suspended from all team activates after a report from The Read Optional that Smith had used stolen credit card information to pay rent at an apartment complex — around $1,000 dollars. ...
The link between the misuse of funds investigation and apartment fraud investigation is now clear: Several of the players had the same stolen credit card information; the same victim.
It appears Florida's about as good at criminal offense as regular offense. McElwain's recruiting has given off a distinct whiff of desperation at times, with Florida picking up a lot of the highly-touted guys other schools back off of because of red flags. You may remember Guy Who Got Busted For Pot On An Official Visit To OSU; James Robinson signed with Florida. He was suspended against Michigan for... I mean, you can probably guess.
Pot is the most minor of all offenses, but if you're getting busted for it on a college campus while hanging out with a crew of folks who collectively can only be football players that's something else. Twice is another level of something else. I mean... Michigan's had some guys who were super into pot. But never citation-level. I imagine that among the very very bad credit card scammers are a couple guys Florida knew they probably shouldn't take but did anyway.
Florida's collected a large number of Malik McDowells because their head coach can't really recruit and felt the pressure. This bodes unwell for Michigan's strength of schedule. Also McElwain.
How much of a problem is a football coach being a dick? A serious question. The Indianapolis Star gets the story of former IU WR Coray Keel, who left Indiana after one year mostly because Kevin Wilson was a dick:
“It became kind of like a pride thing, once I started lining up, to be key players for the opposing team every week, when I would hear coaches come up to me and tell me I’m not (crap), I’m not this and that. It was Kevin Wilson and position coaches, but mostly Kevin Wilson,” Keel said. “Every day, it was a constant reminder of how much I wasn’t doing good, and how I was doing more harm as a scout-team player, not giving the team the right looks. I was the reason we were losing, the reason why we were not doing good.”
“As my time at IU extended, it got worse,” Keel said. “To the point where it made just being there uncomfortable. It made the overall experience of it, it was to the point where I didn’t want to wake up and go to practice.”
Keel says he wasn't forced out and that Wilson tried to convince him to stay when he decided to transfer. Keel transferred to a JUCO and gave up football after one more year. The Star cites several other players with similar issues.
All football coaches are dicks. At what point does it cross the line? Mark Mangino: over the line, I think everyone can agree. Mike Rosenberg thought Rich Rodriguez was over the line, partly because of Greg Frey, and now everyone's fine with Greg Frey because Harbaugh. Wilson's hiring at Ohio State was immediately after he got fired, and nobody seems to care.
Etc.: Simone Biles was at the Michigan game, in case you saw a five-foot-tall person who looked vaguely familiar. Sure, I'll link to an NFL sucks article. Baumgardner on stuff. Toys R Us goes bankrupt, although it looks like Brandon was just the fall guy, not the cause. Improvement! Holdin' the Rope. Georgetown's basketball schedule is really something. Baseball recruiting really well.