College Football 101

College Football 101

Submitted by cstalionsuofm on May 21st, 2012 at 12:06 AM

College Football 101

Welcome to the College Football 101 series. For those who are counting down the days, college football kicks off in 101 days. Every day until then, I will write about one topic per day. As the days get closer, the topics will get better and better until we get to #1 on August 29th, which is one day away from kickoff.

The series will consist of:

  • Top 25 Programs
  • Top 15 Rivalries
  • Top 15 Bands
  • Top 15 Stadiums
  • Top 10 Coaches
  • Top 10 Plays
  • Top 5 Heisman Trophy Winners
  • Top 6 Miscellaneous

 

In addition, I will do a very similar series starting Wednesday called Michigan Football 101. Both of these series will hopefully get all of you college football fans, specifically Michigan fans, excited for the season. So here it is!! 101 days until College Football Kickoff...

 

101. Boise State

(25th Program)

 

A quick look at Boise State:

  • Founded: 1932
  • Nickname: Broncos
  • Location: Boise, Idaho
  • School Size: 19,664
  • Stadium: Bronco Stadium
  • Conference: Mountain West (subject to change anytime soon with the realignments)
  • Conference Titles: 16
  • National Titles: 0
  • Overall Record: 377-145-2 (.721)
  • Mascot: Buster Bronco
  • Interesting Facts: The field, Lyle Smith Field, has blue turf.

 

Boise State is an interesting school. It is one of the few schools that is not in a BCS conference but is a threat. It is not a big school, but Boise State has made a name of itself since it defeated Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Ever since Chris Petersen called a Hook-n'-Lateral to send the game to overtime and a Half Back Pass for a Touchdown followed up by a Statue of Liberty for the 2 Point Conversion to win the game-- and a proposal from Ian Johnson to his cheerleading girlfriend-- Boise State has attracted many college football fans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK95FEyfHNs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Since 2006, the Broncos are 73-6 (.924). There are two people who hold almost all of the credit for that-- Chris Petersen and Kellen Moore. It just so happens to be that 2006 is the year Chris Petersen took over at head coach. Not only do they have a winning percentage of 92.4% under Petersen, but they are 4-2 in bowl games. This proves that Boise State has not only won all these games, but it can win the tough ones, too. This makes you wonder why they haven't played in the national championship game. They have had three undefeated seasons in the past five years, yet haven't played in the big game. Hopefully, the BCS can fix its problem, form whatever superconferences it needs, and give a team like this a chance to win a championship in a playoff.

Kellen Moore has the most wins as a starting quarterback in college football history. That is saying something! You think of all the great QBs-- Peyton Manning, Doug Floutie, Tim Tebow, Vince Young-- and Kellen Moore has more wins than any of them. His record at Boise State was 50-3 (.943). The lefty QB graduated this year and hopes to make the Detroit Lions this summer. Where does that leave Boise State? The Broncos have lost 14 starters-- six on offense and eight on defense. Junior Quarterback Joe Southwick is likely going to be the starter in 2012. He completed 15 passes on 19 attempts in the Spring Game and has taken over the leadership role. Boise not only lost its passing game, but senior Chandler Koch takes over for Doug Martin at Running Back. They are expected to fill the shoes of their predecessors according to Chris Petersen. They are definitely in a rebuilding year. Also, it doesn't help that they open up with Michigan State in East Lansing on a Friday night. Although many analysts are putting that game on upset alert, I don't think Boise State has a chance against the Spartans. It should be very interesting to see how Boise State does this year without its best player in program history.

Although they may be in some trouble this year, any team with a blue field has to be interesting. Personally, I find it interesting to watch them on TV because the players somewhat blend in with the field. My Dad says it hurts his eyes, but he's getting old :) but most people love it! How can you not like it? The stadium only seats 37,000 people, it's a relatively small school, and it's not a school full of much tradition. The Smurf Turf defines Boise State football. The first thing you think about when someone says "Boise State" is the blue field.

Boise State is not a well-known program simply because it has not won a single national championship. The Broncos are one of my Top 25 Programs because they do have a good winning percentage, they have a blue field and they have proven themselves over the years. They aren't scared to schedule tough teams-- they beat Georgia in Atlanta to open the season last year. The Broncos can prove themselves once again by beating Michigan State on the road to open up the season this year. Chris Petersen has certainly done an excellent job at Boise State, and it is going to be very interesting to see how well he does with his Broncos in this rebuilding year.

Boise State 2012 Schedule with predictions

  • @Michigan State L
  • Miami (OH) W
  • Brigham Young W
  • @New Mexico W
  • @Southern Miss L
  • Fresno State W
  • UNLV W
  • @Wyoming W
  • San Diego State L
  • @Hawaii W
  • Colorado State W
  • @Nevada L

My Regular Season Presiction: 8-4

 

Check back tomorrow to see what #100 (#6 Miscellaneous) is on College Football 101.

The Countdown begins... Only 101 days until college football! Hang in there!

Validity of BCS Gripes

Validity of BCS Gripes

Submitted by Vasav on December 5th, 2011 at 5:30 AM

I'm sure you're all as excited as I am about the Sugar Bowl. But I'm sure you've all been pestered by friend/family/co-workers about how M is only there because it's all about the money. Or they have various other gripes. I've decided to classify these gripes, and share my unsolicited opinion with you on the internet. I'll approach this as a conversation with each of the various butthurt partisans.

(Since we are the lowest ranked BCS team in, I'll compare everyone's resume to ours)

QUIT YOUR WHINING

Sparty - I'd almost feel bad for you if you were passed over for a BCS game by us. But you weren't - you were outside of the top 14 and therefore ineligible. Why were you outside the top 14, when we both had the same number of losses and you won the head-to-head? And won the division over us? No, not the polls - we were ranked within a spot of each other in all of them. It was the computers. Why? You see, while you beat us by 14, you lost to Nebraska by 21, who lost to us by 28. Triangle of doom. Shall we look at the other loss? Ours was an ugly one in the division to Iowa - by 8 points. Which gave you the edge in the B1G West. Yours was an even uglier thumping at the hands of Notre Dame. Yes, yes, you beat Wiscy on a Hail Mary at home. And then lost to them by 3 at a neutral site. Want to count it as a tie against a top ten team? Doesn't change the fact that If you had shown up at all in that ND game, you may have had a legitimate gripe. You didn't, so you don't. Enjoy Florida. I hear it's nice this time of year.

Oklahoma - Yes, your TT loss doesn't look that much worse than our Iowa loss. And your Baylor loss looks better than our Sparty loss. But the way you got absolutely stomped in the biggest game of your season is way uglier than anything that happened to us. Also, you're 9-3 after that one. You don't deserve anything more than the Copper Bowl.

South Carolina and Arkansas - Nobody wants to hear it. No, the limit on only two teams from a conference isn't holding you back - it keeps you from playing each other. Look, even in your good years nobody wants to see two teams from the same conference play in a bowl game against each other. And the SEC didn't have a good year - Arkansas, your best win is against the Cocks, and your escape against A&M is not as pretty as our escape against Notre Dame. And you got throttled in your two losses - you got beat worse by Bama than Penn State did. Gamecocks, your best win was against Clemson - and your losses against Arkansas and Auburn are comparable to our losses against Sparty and Iowa. But we pretty much thumped everyone else on our schedule except our rivals. Your wins were...uninspiring. The system isn't holding you back at all - your own failures on the field are keeping you out of the party. And no SEC partisans are ever allowed to complain about the BCS again, unless it's talking about how biased pollsters are towards their own.

Boise State - I usually defend you guys, but I'm not going to this time. Yes, you've got only 1 loss, and it was a close one to TCU - better looking than either of our losses alone, and certainly prettier than both put together. And your win over Georgia is comparable to our win over Nebraska. But here's the thing - your next best win was either Tulsa, Wyoming, or SDSU. SDSU was at the bottom of our resume for wins. In fact, it's so far down there we don't even think about where it is. Your second best win is our 7th or 8th best? I've got to go with our resume on this, even with the uglier losses.

Southern Miss - When both of your losses are to teams without winning records, then you have not proven you belong in the BCS. That interview gave me a good laugh though.

YOU MAYBE HAVE A POINT

TCU - I love how you guys do what you do, and you had an amazing season. Beating Boise on the blue turf and winning the Mountain West is nothing to smirk at. And while your win @Boise may be better than ours against Nebraska, and your losses are comparable to ours, I've got to go with the same argument I had against Boise - the meat of your schedule is the dregs of ours. What's that you say? Why is West Virginia ahead of you? That's a good point, but you guys know how it is in the Mountain West. That's why you're leaving next year. Good luck in the B12.

Baylor - I've had a lot of fun watching you guys, and I'm rooting for RG3 for the Heisman. And your resume isn't bad - beating three ranked teams is far better than us, and getting blown out by OK St is not so bad. Losing to K St by one isn't bad at all either. Getting blown out by A&M is way worse than anything that happened to us though. So yea, your resume is close to ours. But there's a couple of other guys in your conference who belong more, so I don't feel so bad that we're in over you.

I FEEL FOR YOU GUYS BUT YOUR CONSOLATION ISN'T SO BAD

Kansas State - You guys should be in a BCS game. Yes, your blowout at home by OU is bad, but your second loss was by seven @the #2 team in the country. You totally have an argument that "it's all about the money." But hey now, don't look at US like that - we weren't the last ones in. That would be the Hokies you have beef with - and truth be told, I think you'd probably travel to NOLA better than them anyway.

But really, getting a chance to play an overrated #6 SEC team in the Cotton Bowl - a game that was "major" back in the Bowl Coalition days - that's a major opportunity for respect, and pretty much a BCS game anyway. I mean, without the massive payout. But that would've gone to Texas as blood money anyway, right?

DEATH TO THE BCS

Oklahoma State - What can anybody say, guys. You got hosed by Alabama. They have two wins over the top 25, you have four. They lost to the #1 team at home, and you lost to an unranked team on the road - your loss is a little worse, your wins are better. No, just cause they blew out a weak schedule doesn't mean anything - you should have gotten the nod from resume alone.

What makes it ridiculous and insufferable is the obvious - this is a rematch, they didn't win their division, they're playing a team from their conference. I know you've been over it a hundred times over in your own heads. I hope you guys beat Stanford and win the Grantland Rice and the Macarthur trophies. I hope Alabama gets crushed.

But really, your gripe is way more legitimate than K-State's. It's probably the most legitimate gripe I've ever heard with regards to the BCS - yes, more legit than Oregon, Auburn, and USC have had in the past. While I've never loved the BCS, I never thought it was so broken as to screw you over for a less deserving team because they came in second in a conference that was good the last couple of years. The system is broken and you've been royally screwed by it, and will watch them play a regional scrimmage.

I'm way more excited for your matchup against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl than I am for the event that precedes LSU's deserved coronation. Good luck, and prove to the nation that you deserve a shot.

The Bye Week Corollary

The Bye Week Corollary

Submitted by hart20 on October 13th, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Soulfire21, went over Debunking the Bye Week Myth earlier this week, showing that in general, teams coming off of a bye week usually lose. From 2000 to 2010, teams coming off of a bye week have a winning percentage of .480, a shade less than .500. However, Big Ten teams are noticeably worse when coming off of a bye week; Big Ten teams have a winning percentage of .350 when coming off of a bye week. Big Ten teams are below the national average by .150. By default, nationally, teams playing teams coming off of a bye week have a winning percentage of .520 and teams playing Big Ten teams coming off of a bye week have a winning percentage of .650.

Although the average team performs worse when coming off of a bye week, I wondered if there was an exception. Some coaches have their teams perform better than average after bye weeks and some coaches have their teams perform worse than average, right? This also means that some coaches have to be better than average when playing against a team coming off of a bye week and some coaches have to be worse than average when playing against a team coming off of a bye week.

Before I started writing this diary, I predicted that Mark Dantonio would have a below average record playing after a bye week and that Brady Hoke would have an above average record playing against teams who were coming off of bye weeks. I had no rational reason for these predictions. I just don’t like Dantonio and I like Brady Hoke.

My method for checking my predictions was quite simple, just look at the W/L record of Mark Dantonio (as a Head Coach) coming off of a Bye Week and then look at the record of Brady Hoke (as a head coach) playing against teams who are coming off of a bye week.

 

Mark Dantonio Coming Off of Bye Weeks

 

Year

Team

Opponent

W/L

Score

Dantonio Final Record

Opp. Final Record

2004

Cincinnati

Memphis

W

49-10

7-5

8-4

2004

Cincinnati

South Florida

W

45-23

7-5

4-7

2005*

Cincinnati

Miami (OH)

L

44-16

4-7

7-4

2005*

Cincinnati

South Florida

L

31-16

4-7

6-6

2006

Cincinnati

West Virginia

L

42-24

8-5

11-2

2007

MSU

N/A

N/A

N/A

7-6

N/A

2008

MSU

Penn St.

L

49-18

9-4

11-2

2009

MSU

N/A

N/A

N/A

6-7

N/A

2010

MSU

Purdue

W

35-31

11-2

4-8

 

*10 day bye week instead of a full 14 day bye week

 

Interesting Notes

-Mark Dantonio, as a head coach, is 3-4 when coming off of a bye week. That is good for a winning percentage of 0.428. That puts Dantonio below the national average by .052 but above the Big Ten average by .078.

-As MSU’s head coach, Dantonio is 1-1 coming off of a bye week. That’s a winning percentage of .500, .020 above the national average and .150 above the Big Ten average.

-Biggest loss: 31 points in 2008. MSU vs. PSU

-Smallest loss: 15 points in 2005. Cincinnati vs. USF

-Average loss margin: 23 points

-Biggest win: 39 points in 2004. Cincinnati vs. Memphis

-Smallest win: 4 points in 2010. MSU vs. Purdue

-Average win margin:  21.7 points

-Dantonio is 2-0 against teams with losing records. That is a winning percentage of 1.000, .520 above the national average and .650 above the Big Ten average.

-Dantonio is 1-4 against teams who are .500 or better. That is a winning percentage of .200, .280 below the national average and .150 below the Big Ten average.

 

 

 

Brady Hoke Playing Against Teams Who Are Coming Off of a Bye Week

 

Year

Team

Opponent

W/L

Score

Brady Hoke’s Final Record

Opp. Final Record

2003

Ball St.

N/A

N/A

N/A

4-8

N/A

2004

Ball St.

N/A

N/A

N/A

2-9

N/A

2005

Ball St.

N/A

N/A

N/A

4-7

N/A

2006

Ball St.

Buffalo

W

55-25

5-7

2-10

2007

Ball St.

West. Kentucky

W

35-12

7-6

7-5

2007*

Ball St.

Toledo

W

41-20

7-6

5-7

2008

Ball St.

Indiana

W

42-20

12-1

3-9

2008*

Ball St.

North. Illinois

W

45-14

12-1

6-6

2008*

Ball St.

West. Michigan

W

45-22

12-1

9-3

2009*

San Diego St.

Southern Utah

W

35-19

4-8

5-6

2009

San Diego St.

UNLV

L

28-24

4-8

5-7

2010

San Diego St.

New Mexico

W

30-20

9-4

1-11

2010*

San Diego St.

UNLV

W

48-14

9-4

2-11

*10 day bye-week

 

Interesting Notes

-Brady Hoke is 9-1 (!) when playing against teams who are coming off of a bye week. That’s a winning percentage of .900 (!). He’s outperforming the national average by .380 and the Big Ten average by .250.

- Biggest/Smallest/Average/Only loss:  4 points in 2009. SDSU vs. UNLV

-Biggest win: 34 points in 2010. SDSU vs. UNLV

-Smallest win: 10 points in 2010. SDSU vs. New Mexico

-Average win margin:  23.3 points

-Brady Hoke is 6-1 against teams with losing records. That is a winning percentage of .857, .337 above the national average and .207 above the Big Ten average.

-Brady Hoke is 3-0 against teams who are .500 or better. That is a winning percentage of 1.000, .480 above the national average and .350 above the Big Ten average.

 

 

Upon taking a closer look, Dantonio outperforming the Big Ten is not very impressive for 3 reasons. Reason #1: Saying you’re doing better than the worst is inherently not impressive. You’re still doing worse than the best. Reason #2:  2 of his wins came in 2004 at Cincinnati, his first year as a head coach. After 2004, Dantonio lost every single game coming off of a bye week after until last year against Purdue. Even in that game, MSU barely managed to pull out the victory against a bad, 4-8 Purdue team. He clearly struggles in the games after bye weeks. Reason #3: Dantonio is very, very bad after bye weeks when he playing against teams with a winning record (1-4).

For the good guys, Brady Hoke is great when playing against teams coming off of a bye week. His only loss against a team coming off of a bye week was by 4 points. Although most of his wins came against teams who ended their seasons with losing records, he is undefeated against teams with winning records (3-0).  He easily outperforms both the national and Big Ten averages.

Bye weeks are of no advantage to MSU, and actually might hurt MSU’s chance of victory. MSU coming off of a bye week is more of an advantage to Michigan than to anyone else.  Mark Dantonio’s ineptness playing after a bye week coupled with Brady Hoke’s adeptness playing against teams coming off of a bye week point only to good things for Michigan.

 

 

P.S. This is my first Diary, so let me know if there is anything I should change, not change, do, or not do in the future. I’ll probably write something similar to this for the Purdue game, looking at how Brady Hoke fares when playing after bye weeks. 

SDSU Game wrap (with pics!)

SDSU Game wrap (with pics!)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on September 29th, 2011 at 1:10 AM

The more things change...

http://youtu.be/JreJYn71CP0

Well, that went better than expected.  There's plenty of good things to see, but almost all of them come with caveats:

  1. We shut down a QB with a decent arm who was pretty productive last year
  2. Denard's running WOOOOO!
  3. DLine got good pressure
  4. We're causing lots of turnovers
  5. Defense looks more sound in general
  6. We kind of dominated a decent team
  7. We're 4-0!

BUT:

  1. He was missing his NFL caliber WR's
  2. Denard's passing, eeerrrrr....
  3. DLine kept losing contain
  4. We're giving away lots of turnovers
  5. Every now and then we look like the keystone cops
  6. Brady Hoke has their playbook, signals, and personell memorized.
  7. We were 4-0 the last two years...

Next week won't be much of a challenge or informative either.  Especially if Marquis Gray is injured or hampered.  So the good news is that we look like it's an easy road to bowl elligibility, but whether or not we can beat any decent bigten teams remains to be seen for a couple of weeks. 

Denard

I don't know if his throwing arm/shoulder is tweeked, or if he's still just struggling with his footwork, but his accuracy is way off from last year.  He had a terrible overthrow on the deep ball, the interception that got batted up was due to placing the ball too high when throwing at the TE, and the other interception was due to him missing the zone coverage.  He's also staring down the screen receiver and other receivers sometimes.  

But hey, HELLLOooooo speed option!  

DenardWoo

This play works because of two things.  Two of their defenders just flat out over-run the play because they're freaking about Denard's speed

DenardWoo2

And we get great downfield blocks that are sustained.  It really is as simple as getting a hat on a hat when you've got dilithium in the backfield.  The play is setup so nice that Vincent is celebrating the TD before Denard even passes the line of scrimmage! 

DenardWoo3

Here's the same moment from behind.  That's a nice hole. 

Give some credit to SDSU, they stuffed this play when we ran it again in the 2nd half.  But when you've got a guy who can do this:

Denarducmedenardudont

You can't win just on positioning.  

Denarducmedenardudont2

You can have perfect position, and Denard can stil make you look silly. 

LloydBradyapproves

Lloyd Brady Approves! (drink)

 

Various Defensive Awesomeness

Mike Martin is awesome.  I think all D-Linemen should have a background in Judo or Wrestling or both.  On this play he doesn't get to the QB, but he causes a rushed throw with his bull rush. 

martinbullrush

First, he's quick off the line and gets underneath the pads of the guard and pops him back.

martinbullrush2

Then he drives him back so hard that the tackle has to come down and help out.

martinbullrush3

But he's got so much momentum that he's buckled the guards legs and knocks him over.

martinbullrush4

At that point there's nothing left to do except laugh at your defeated foe and scream bloody murder at the QB.  RVB also does a nice job of beating his man on his speed rush.

Kenny Demens is often awesome. On this play Demens demonstrates the textbook definition of "fill the hole and blow up the blocker".  

Demensfill

This is your typical power iso play with a FB and a pulling linemen leading the way.  Demens recognizes run action and gets on his horse. 

Demensfill2

RVB does a great job on his slant to fill the hole.  This bounces the play outside.  Demens reads this too and accelerates to take on the blocker.

Demensfill3

Hawthorne is a little slow to react and gets blocked too easily here.  But because Demens hits his man so hard, the ballcarrier has to stop his feet and go backwards.  

Demensfill4

Meanwhile, Jake Ryan has beaten his blocker with a quick step (Dude has a quickstep, this is my meme for Jake Ryan from now on.) and cleans up the play with a TFL.  Hawthorne is getting held, but he has to do a better job of reacting and shedding his blocker.  This is probably why he got benched for a bit.  

Craig Roh is still fighting for more playing time in the DE rotation, but on this play he shows how to shed a blocker using leverage. 

rohshedblock

Roh is kind of tall and lanky, that can be a good thing or bad thing depending on how you use it.  Here he pushes his blocker sideways and gets him off balance.

rohshedblock2

Then he just tosses him aside and has eyes on the ball carrier. Results in a TFL and great play.

rohshedblock3

From the other angle you can see how Roh uses the blocker's arm as a lever and just dismisses him.  Hawthorne could learn a thing or two from this.

 

But it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

In last week's tardy diary, I discovered a new pet peeve. That pet peeve now has a name.  It's called FUCKING AROUND WITH ALIGNMENT IN SHORT YARDAGE SITUATIONS.  (FAWAISYS)  

It's one thing to flop the defensive alignment when it's 1st or 2nd and 10 or even 3rd and 5.  No one's in a rush and it doesn't really matter if you give up an easy yard or two.  But when it's 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1, you're really pissing me off with chinese firedrill bullshit.  It makes you vulnerable to the quicksnap and if you're all worried about where you're supposed to be, you're not thinking about the play, the snap count, or the 600+ pounds of blockers that are coming at you shortly. 

It happened all game.  And it's not like we're forced to do it.  It's just that some d-calls have us locked onto their formation strength.  

This is the most egregious example:

keystonecops

This is a three man shift, the two TE's on the left are moving to the right and the FB that was at flanker is moving into an I form.  Jake ryan is perfectly at rights to be moving. Nothing wrong yet. 

keystonecops2

And then the ILB's see it and swap places.  Okay, nothing big about keeping the Fritz and Mike responsibilities on Hawthorne and Demens respectively.

keystonecops3

But do the DE's really need to flip on this play?  Are their responsibilities and talents that different?  Why can't RVB just squeeze down and Jirbeel Black flex out a bit?  Or is it that Black can't take on two blockers and needs to speed rush from the uncovered end?

keystonecops4

So now we got 8 guys moving around and they've got about 1.4 seconds to get their shit sorted out.

keystonecops5

Which is made harder when the two DE's collide 0.o  And the secondary is completely lost and in no position to support the run.

keystonecops6

It's 3rd and Fricken 1!!! 

keystonecops7

So, let's summarize.  It's 3rd and 1, our DE's are hugging each other, our OLB is out of breath from sprinting into position, our DB's are in a cover 2 umbrella, there's about Umpteen million different ways for SDSU to pick up 1 yard without having to touch anyone, and we've got about 0.7 seconds to get lined up on 3rd and fucking 1.  

Yes it's true that the offense has to reset for a second after the shift, so you theoretically have time to get setup.  But one of these days it's going to bite us for a critical conversion.  So far, Brady Hoke's Magical Golden Poop actually got SDSU to false start while we were running around like chickens with their heads chopped off.  

ETC:

  • I'm not thrilled with our FB play.  #44 doesn't seem to get his pad level low enough or drive through his blocks.  
  • Hopkins.... HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
  • WTF is this?  Does SDSU have some new cheerleader wannabe's?  SDSUsnewcheerleaders
  • Who does this band director think he's fooling?  iwavemyhandsbacknforth

There are: 

1 Drum Major

4 Twirlers

24 Flags

12 Piccolos

24 Clarinets

12 Alto Saxophones

12 Tenor Saxophones

48 Trumpets

12 Horns

33 Trombones

4 Bass Trombones

12 Euphoniums

14 Sousaphones

6 Snare Drums

4 Bass Drums

4 Cymbals

AND NONE OF THEM ARE LOOKING AT YOU!

Learn from yesterday, live for today, Hoke for tomorrow - SDSU

Learn from yesterday, live for today, Hoke for tomorrow - SDSU

Submitted by Lordfoul on September 25th, 2011 at 2:31 PM

 

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” 
Albert Einstein

 

Learn from yesterday...

Michigan is undefeated again in September and yet I am nervous for the future. Perhaps because similar starts to the last two seasons filled me with unbridled optimism for Michigan's return to the nations' elite.  Mayhap the reason is that for a second week in a row I felt like the final score did not accurately reflect the play on the field. Michigan won by a lot but didn't get much play for their reserves, Devin Gardner most notably.  I am made nervous by Denard's heavy load running the ball and seeming inability to hit the broad side of a barn down field, to the sideline, or even on screen passes.  Looking closer at each aspect of Michigan's play: 

  1. Michigan's defense is the most awesome "bend-but-don't-break" defense I have ever seen so far.  Seriously, allowing 11 trips by SDSU's offense into Michigan territory and yielding only 7 points is both extremely lucky (no doubt at least partly true) and also a part of a trend at this point.  Turnovers are the key of course, coupled with keeping the play in front of them/not giving up the big play.  SDSU was the first team to win the TO battle against Michigan this season, but only because the stat doesn't include TOs on downs.  Michigan forced three of those by jumping out to a big lead and by getting big stops at points on the field where SDSU was almost compelled to go for it on 4th down.  The reason for this success is owed in large part to the longest plays given up Saturday being 30 yards, both on the ground and through the air.  This defense makes big plays, but more importantly they give themselves enough chances to make them.
  2. Michigan's offense continued to slide towards one-dimensional with each poorly throw ball by Denard Robinson.  Luckily Michigan didn't need to throw much with SDSU's defense yielding over 7 yards per carry, having no answer for Denard's legs.  It was also good to see the OLine open up some running lanes for Smith and Fitz en route to 320 yards on the ground.  I fear that the level of competition and lack of SDSU size up front made the running game look better than it should have been.
  3. Michigan needs Hagerup back.  Maybe Hagerup isn't the only answer.  Wile's kicks are improving it would seem, both on KOs and punts, possibly because his nerves are settling down.  Kickoffs regularly made it to the goal line and only 1 of 4 punts was returned for much while they averaged 49 yards per with a long of only 51(!).  Now if we can get him a chance at the FG duties, maybe he can be an upgrade over Gibbons (doesn't seem possible to be much worse).
  4. The coaching staff continues to impress in all phases of the game, save possibly being willing to give Gardner a shot at a real drive.  Borges again went with what is known to work until Michigan had a couple of scores lead before inevitably trying to force Denard under center.  Mattison had a great game plan dialed up, containing Ronnie Hillman and rattling Lindley with constant pressure.  For the first time this year it seemed like our D-Backs were the most suspect part of Michigan's defense, as they should be, and even there we have a few rays of hope.

 

Live for Today…

Several Michigan players should bask in the glow of their accomplishments:

1.      Denard Robinson – With a stat line so much like last game it is spooky, Denard again dazzled with his untied shoes en route to 200 yards on the ground.  Again he couldn't seem to get in rhythm with his receivers, looking like shadow of 2010 Denard at least in terms of efficiency.  Over 20 carries/game is going to get him killed, but maybe not as much a last year.  He seems to have a better idea of how not to get lit up, getting out of bounds or to the ground before contact much more often than last year.

2.     Vincent Smith and Fitzgerald Toussaint If these two continue to rotate in that would seem fine the way they both are playing.  Both looked tough to bring down Saturday, breaking tackles and picking through traffic for YAC.  Smith in particular looks to have that shiftiness back that excited the senses so much in 2009.  Fitz should also be the #1 choice at FB, with his tough running style, decent size, and good ball security.  

3.     Michigan Defensive Line – These guys looked great finally, creating constant pressure in the SDSU backfield and forcing Lindley into less than 50% completions.  Roh came alive, sacking and forcing a fumble.  RVB was in there making big plays, and Mike Martin was held 100 bazillion times or else he would have sent Lindley to the hospital I have no doubt.  This performance was extra encouraging since the SDSU OLine is supposedly pretty good.

4.     Blake Countess – In his first really extended appearance, this kid showed why his hype is justified.  I'm sure some completions were on his head for being out of position, but I saw him blanketing a receiver on a slant (that was completed despite great coverage) and making a great play on a fade to keep SDSU at 7 points to finish.  I look forward to what UFR has to say about Countess's play as a whole.

5.     Matt Wile – As noted above, Wile's play is improving steadily.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him keep punting again next week and hopefully get a shot at the next FG try.

 

Hope for Tomorrow

Last week I said:

Bask in 3-0 for now, because this team is looking to be on much the same course as last season so far.  I think that our reliance on Denard Robinson will actually help us next week against SDSU, because our offense will not look like what Rocky Long remembers a Borges offense looking like.  Then again, our run defense might get gutted by Ronnie Hillman.  SDSU will put a scare into us at least.

I think I was right on the first part (at least theoretically, does anyone really have an answer for Shoelace?) while being thankfully wrong on the second (though Hillman did rack up pretty good numbers, he didn't kill us), and now we can bask in 4-0 and another undefeated September.  So what can we hang our hopes on that this season is not doomed to end up like the last two?

I'll just stick with what I thought a week ago:

Our biggest hope for the whole season may actually be Borges's willingness to adapt to Denard's strengths as well as Mattison's willingness to use naked aggression to mask our defense's glaring flaws.  

The only caveat to this reason to hope is that we are going to need a QB that can hit is receivers in BIG 10 play.  The athletic abilities of BIG 10 defenders are going to both bottle up and punish Denard if he can't keep them honest through the air.  With Denard's struggles throwing so far, I am both surprised and made nervous by Devin Gardner's lack of playing time.  Is Gardner just not impressing enough in practice that Hoke/Borges feel it important to get him some meaningful snaps?  Is the success of the team so far goading the coaches into keeping all of the eggs in the Denard GO! GO! GO! basket?

Though it would be a knock against the coaches in my mind, I hope it is the latter.  I mean, maybe Denard lights it up in practice, completing ropes 30 yards to the sideline and hitting his TEs in stride.  At some point this is going to have to become reality in games or else the one-dimensional nature of our offense will get Denard hurt, and leave us wondering yet again what could have been.

 

Go Blue and stay safe.

OT?: Steve Fisher contract extension

OT?: Steve Fisher contract extension

Submitted by cheesheadwolverine on August 29th, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Title says most of it.  He'll make $800,000 next year increasign 5% in subsequent years.  It's a four-year extension.

I know it's game week and there is only one SDSU/Michigan Man we should be talking about this week, but thought some people might be interested.

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/6907500/san-diego-state-aztecs-give-steve-fisher-four-year-contract-extension

SDSU vs Navy Bowl Game Offense

SDSU vs Navy Bowl Game Offense

Submitted by WestMichiganMan on February 24th, 2011 at 6:24 PM

So it's February and I've been longing to watch football like the rest of you so I decided to see this MANBALL offense for myself and I thought I would take some notes and see what I came up with. There were a total of 55 plays that I noted (all but the last drive). (Thanks Boyz n da Pahokee for this: http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/sdsu-vs-navy-full-game)

Shotgun 16
Under Center 39

30% out of shotgun surprised me. To be fair the first drive, six snaps, were all run in shotgun no huddle which seemed atypical based on the rest of the game. 30% is probably inflated because of that, without the first drive that drops to 20%. Ugh, that is a huge change for a quarterback and a center to go through.

Next I looked at formations. I really think that one of the strongest parts of our team next year will be the receiving corps so my worry was that slots would never be used.

3 WR, RB, TE 19
2 WR, RB, 2 TE 13
2 WR, RB, TE, FB 12
4 WR, RB 3
5 WR 1
3 WR, 2 RB 1
2 WR, TE, 2 RB 2
3 WR, RB, FB 1
3 TE, 2 RB 1
WR, 2 TE, RB, FB 2

For these numbers I only considered a player a FB if he lined up in front of the RB. In the case where there were 2 RB it could have very well been that one was a FB and I didn't know the players well enough to make the differentiation.

Breakdown by usage:

4+ WR 4
3 WR 21
2 WR 27
1 WR 2
0 WR 1
FB 15
1 TE 33
2+ TE 16

Oh that's why they are offering so many tight ends right now. Because they used at least one on all but six plays and are more likely to have two or more on the field than a FB.

So what does this mean?

Well, I'm not really sure. Coach Borges has said that he will alter his offense to fit the personnel that he has. To me, that should mean that 3 WR are deployed more often than 2 and that he utilizes four more frequently. It also shows how crucial the late signing of Chris Barnett was to the offensive strategy. He now becomes our third-string tight end and if there is an injury he will be looking at some serious playing time. The other big change is the percentage under center. I guess it should be encouraging that they could run their offense just fine out of the shotgun, it wasn't just on obvious passing downs. FWIW, they ran the read option on one of their first six plays. Which, if you can, check out those first six plays, they might give you some confidence that coach Borges may be able to adapt to Denard's skill set. I'm not saying that that is what our offense will look like next year but I do think those plays are closer than the rest of the game. Five years down the road is a different story, but for next year check out those plays.

I'm hoping to watch more games in the future and will post if anything else sticks out. Hopefully that will hold me over until the spring game after which all of this will be completely irrelevant.