Sharik's Response to the Iowa Question

Sharik's Response to the Iowa Question

Submitted by Meeechigan Dan on September 29th, 2009 at 7:06 AM
Steve Sharik's response to the I Am So Confused post was after it had moved off the front page, so I am reposting it:

These are the characteristics of a successful defensive system:

  1. Lots of talent of varying experience levels at ALL positions.
  2. Coaches at every position who can coach technique.
  3. A coordinator who knows scheme.
  4. A coordinator who can communicate what he wants done by his position coaches.
  5. All of the above in place w/o change for at least a few years.

Let's examine the two teams in regards to these areas.


  1. Not really high talent, but does have players used to the system from seniors to freshmen. Seniors teach the younger players what the coaches expect and also hearing the same thing but in different words deepens understanding.
  2. In spades.
  3. Definitely.
  4. That staff has been together for so long, this is absolutely true.
  5. The real secret behind Iowa's defensive success.


  1. No. Most of the talent is concentrated on the DL. Warren is obviously awesome, but Mouton and Brown are highly rated SAFETIES, and are playing LB. Mike Williams and Cissoko are young players, but Williams doesn't have anyone to mentor him. Cissoko...I feel for him.
  2. Not sure yet. If I was on staff myself (ha!) I could tell, but then I wouldn't be able to tell you. Man, that was helpful, eh?
  3. Yes.
  4. Yes.
  5. No, no, no. This is the real problem. This system is new to everyone EXCEPT Greg Robinson. He gets to decide not only the scheme, but also how he wants individual techniques taught. Maybe some of them are different than before. This means not only do the players have to learn new techniques, but the coaches have to teach differently than they're used to, perhaps. Continuity and consistency...and that happens when the coaches are so used to it they can coach it in their sleep and, furthermore, the older players can mentor the younger ones.

So, Iowa has 4.5/5 and we have 2/4 and IDK on the fifth (#2). It should come as absolutely no surprise that Iowa is better on defense.

If this defensive staff is still together in 3 years and Iowa is still more successful on defense (assuming they'll have the same staff) then I think it's safe to say that some of the assistants aren't cutting the mustard, b/c I'm pretty confident we'll have better players and will have rounded out the roster; i.e., we'll have quality players of varying experience at all positions.

As for this year, well, maybe we'll have an average defense by the end of the year.

I predict us to lose to MSU, get thumped at Iowa (they're quite adept at defending the spread), lose a close one to Penn State, and then maddeningly lose to Illinois (a la the basketball team at Iowa last season) but get the rest, including at Wisconsin and then, finally, over the Buckeyes. We end the season on a high note with a win over a name brand SEC team in the Outback bowl and finish 9-4.

Thanks, Steve. Even though there are some painful losses in your scenario, I will sign up for it right now. I have a few questions for you:

  • You seem comfortable with GERG's knowledge and scheme, which puts me at ease. I assume you were less comfortable with what Shafer was doing?
  • Why don't we give more help to our weak corner? How come that corner always seems to be out there by himself against Floyd or Doss?
  • How do you explain that our highly-rated LB recruits who we so desperately need - Demens and Fitz - are still not very good in year two? Did we just strike out on both? Is it too early to tell?
  • Why has the tackling fallen off so sharply from week 1? Competition? Habits? I was blown away by the crispness of our tackling early and not so much lately.

Thanks, Steve!

I Am So Confused (or Why Do My Four-Stars Suck?)

I Am So Confused (or Why Do My Four-Stars Suck?)

Submitted by Meeechigan Dan on September 28th, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Note: The data is from Rivals; I recognize that they have some different class (fresh, soph, etc.) info than I expected on some players, but for consistency, I used their data as published.

I am no Steve Sharik or gsimms, but after watching Iowa play defense Saturday night, I have to report back to Houston that there is a problem, and it’s not just our players. I just don’t buy Brian’s comment in his “Soaring” post that “Michigan's recruiting was wildly deficient in more than one area and will be an anchor going forward.” We may lack depth, but the guys on the front lines are supposed to be studs. Individually, many look like studs – Graham and Warren and Martin and Roh and even Brown this year – but put them together and Indiana shreds us.

Iowa's defense is better than ours. A lot better. This doesn't surprise anyone reading this, but the point I wish to make is not that they are better, but how in the name of Shiva the Destroyer is such a thing possible?

Let's look at the two defenses:

The Iowa defense is younger than ours overall and features a less-experienced secondary that averages 5.3 for a Rivals Rating, or a middle range two-star. Brian says about Michigan, “There is exactly one junior and no seniors at both safety and cornerback.” Iowa has less experience. Yet my gut tells me – with absolute certainty – Darryl Clark will have a far better day against our secondary. Who wants to take me up on that bet?

In general, their players are more lowly rated at every position (possible exception of one LB), often significantly so, with players converted from the offensive side of the ball (a TE turned DL) and one playing out of position.

Now one of two things is true.

  • All our studs coming out of high school were overrated and we can say things like Cissoko isn’t good and Van Bergen isn’t good and our LBs aren’t good with a straight face and a shrug towards our bad evaluation of talent over two coaches, or
  • Our coaching/scheme is flawed. The front line talent is there (no depth, I know), but they either haven’t been developed or the system hurts their performance.

Occam’s Razor makes it difficult to accept that our stud HS talent was pretty much collectively overrated, and Iowa’s meh HS talent was pretty much vastly underrated. Ferentz would have given a kidney to have Cissoko or Warren or Graham or Brown or Mouton or Martin. He doesn’t have enough organs to bargain with the devil to get those types of players with mega-hype coming out of HS, yet he easily is fielding a better defense that probably would have consumed Indiana whole without any sauce.

As for the “new system” argument – that switching from Shafer to Robinson has resulted in our guys being at the start of a new learning curve – I accept some of that, but not all. Now, I will defer to Sharik or gsimms to tell me whether a new system can transform studs into non-studs, but it would seem to me that stopping Eastern in the first half or stopping Indiana at all would frequently be possible with raw stud talent playing by instinct.

Please understand that I am not traditionally negative, and that I am really seeking an answer from people who know more about football than I do. Is our system/defensive coordinator sound? Are most of our players overrated?  Would Iowa's starters on defense playing for Michigan and GERG be playing at the same high level? Or would Brian be observing that an unrated player (a walk-on, I assume) was playing in the secondary?

Kinnick Stadium: tips for buying tickets wanted

Kinnick Stadium: tips for buying tickets wanted

Submitted by Catholepistimiad on September 8th, 2009 at 3:27 PM

I'm going out to Iowa City for this year's UM game. I don't have tickets in hand. If anyone reading this has been to Iowa for a game, are there any suggestions regarding
(1) good/bad sightlines; how bad are the low rows in endzone, etc?
(2) prospects of buying tickets day of the game, and what price expectations I should have.

Thank you.

Big Ten round-up

Big Ten round-up

Submitted by Geaux_Blue on August 16th, 2009 at 12:37 PM
Big-Ten roundup for those who may have missed some items:
Justin Boren suffered a knee injury in practice and may miss 3+ weeks while rehabilitating it. The 105 roster for tOhio State appears to have been filled with the return of two players (WR Ray Small and DE Rob Rose) who appeared to be dealing with academic issues that still, reportedly for Small, are not fully handled.

Wisconsin has suspended two likely starters at safety from camp, making their future unclear and a start September 5th against Northern Illinois highly unlikely. Shane Carter and Aubrey Pleasant both have a solid amount of starts and their departure, however short, is a thorn in the side of a team that has faced a lot of criticism for not playing to its potential.

ESPN's pre-season All American list has been released and it features three from the Big Ten (and two from this planet):
  • Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker   
  • Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman   
  • Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko  

ESPN Big 10 blogger Adam Rittenberg's all Big-Ten team features:

DE: Brandon Graham, Michigan

P: Zoltan Mesko, Michigan

Detroit News fluff piece on Michigan o-line

Hockey player AJ Sturges speaks out about Glenn Winston's reinstatement following a suspension from the team and jail time for an assault last year, upset about the unclear MSU policy regarding the allowance of players with prison records and suspensions back onto teams. Conflicting perspectives ensue.

Big Ten Gator Bowl movement.

Penn State cornerback AJ Wallace will likely be suspended for 1-2 games for academic issues.

Iowa cornerback Jordan Bernstine likely out for the season with ankle injury.