Unverified Voracity Fits In Tight Windows Comment Count

Brian July 13th, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Borges in detail. I referenced this interview with Borges yesterday but I didn't actually listen to it. That turned out to be a mistake because in addition to the boilerplate about turnovers Borges said a couple of interesting things. Specifically about the shotgun percentage:

We’re going to be under center about half the time, and we’ll be in shotgun more than I’ve ever run before.

That's the baseline; it will be interesting to see how that breakdown moves as the season progresses. If the under center stuff is less effective (and Borges prefaced the above quote with a fairly ominous sentence or three about how different dropping back from under center is from taking a shotgun snap) how far is Borges willing to depart from the pro-style approach?

Meanwhile, I'm a bit leery about this:

So much of what they have done here in the past is based on Denard’s ability to run, and then he would pull up and then kind of pass underneath coverage and throw the ball down the seams. They killed people with that stuff. ... A big part of our game is running the intermediate cuts and being able to be precise coming out of the breaks and learning the timing and all that. In that regard, we are different than the last staff because, although they had those routes, we just use them more. It’s going to be a little transition for them, but like Denard, our receiving corps has been very receptive to the changes.

Michigan did do a fair amount of intermediate stuff last year but a lot of it was constraint stuff built around Denard's legs that was witheringly open. When coverage gets tight I can't help but think of the Michigan State game, when Denard threw two end-zone interceptions on plays that John Navarre would have made without blinking. (The first of those was just plain wide open; the second was a slant where there was a window for a pro QB that Denard missed badly on. At the time those seemed anomalous but by the end of the year his INT rate had sunk to the Jacobian depths.)

Offseason hype is at its usual fever pitch about the transition; Grady Brooks and etc etc etc.

They put in lights for a reason. Amidst a lot of talk about branding Dave Brandon drops this about the future of night games in Ann Arbor:

Night football is so popular right now. What's the future outlook there for Michigan?
DB: We've not committed to any more night football games until we get the experience of Sept. 10. We're going to see how this goes, execute this at a high level, have it be a safe, positive experience for our fans. If it's a good experience and we execute it well and it's overall a positive night for our community and for our fans and our players and coaches, my expectations would be we would try to do a night game at least once a year. I don't know that we would necessarily go much beyond that, but to have one a year in Michigan Stadium would be a great goal.

At least he's got the hang of the first person plural these days.

I'm in favor of the occasional night game because it might let me see the Red River Shootout once before I die and I hate missing the 3:30 window so much. Just maybe not so much with the "legacy throwback" uniforms that are neither throwbacks nor part of Michigan's legacy.

Be careful what you wish for. I googled Troy Smith's violations to see whether or not Ohio State was exposed to repeat violator status because of them*, and in the process I ran across this remarkable article from a couple Septembers ago:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Clarett and Troy Smith for Ohio State. Reggie Bush and basketball's O.J. Mayo for USC.

As the Buckeyes and Trojans prepare to meet Saturday night, they do so with recent athletic success that also includes NCAA investigations of their brightest stars.

Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor is currently the biggest name on this national stage, and it's not unreasonable to wonder what might happen with the NCAA and the most high-profile football recruit of the last several years. The NCAA has already conducted an on-campus investigation of Pryor's recruitment to Ohio State, which resulted in two minor secondary NCAA violations.

It's time for Gene Smith to say something regrettable:

"I kind of look at them as the auditors," Smith said of the NCAA. "I welcome auditors because all they do is help us do a better job ourselves."

And time for Jim Tressel to one-up that like whoah:

"Especially as an administrator and as a head coach, you always want things evaluated," Tressel said. "Because if one of Gene Smith's coaches' isn't doing something right, he needs to know. So I don't think you ever worry about that as long as you don't have anything to worry about."

*[The verdict appears to be yes even though IIRC the NCAA only issued a secondary violation after Ohio State's thorough investigation only turned up the one guy who had taken a $500 handshake. The OSU response admits they are subject to repeat violator status but only addresses the old basketball allegations in its attempt to mitigate. Troy Smith does not come up.]

Windows. Yost will uncover them as part of the renovation; they were covered because direct sunlight was bad for ice back in the day. SCIENCE(!) has taken care of it. No word about returning the Old Man's head.

Meanwhile in chaos. The Super League has named itself the "National Collegiate Hockey Conference" because the nation consists of a smattering of Midwestern states and North Dakota. This is not a very good name but their first tweet

First @TheNCHC tweet: "We are exciting to announce the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference."

…implies that it sounds really cool in Japanese and just needs a better translator.

Also Western is so gone from the CCHA, yo:

"We've positioned ourselves, telling people the value in Western Michigan," said Beauregard, who has formed a "Why Western" campaign to sell the program to other universities and existing and potential conferences.

"We want to hear what they have to say." …

"We've had close conversations with Notre Dame," Beauregard said. "We want to follow them and be a part of what they end up doing."

Getting dragged along with ND because they're a convenient bus ride from South Bend is quite a break for a team that spent most of the last decade battling BGSU for last place in the CCHA.

Or maybe it's not a break since without Blashill the most logical landing spot for them is the cellar of the Badly Translated From Japanese Conference. Congratulations, you're Michigan Tech. If they stuck in the CCHA they'd instantly be in contention for an autobid; if they succeed in persuading the BTFJC they're worthy the next time they see the NCAA tournament the skies will be red with blood and Mel Gibson (only Mel Gibson) will have been raptured up.

The remaining CCHA teams have been trying to meet with the remnants of the WCHA, but the WCHA is trying to find room on its rolodex between "eject all tournament teams" and "blither aimlessly"; NMU would really like to hook up at some point in the future but will be washing its hair until 2013. Any day now we'll start hearing about Niagara and Robert Morris and etc.

Etc.: The Kalis stepfather call all podcasted and stuff. Pros and cons of this brave new world in hockey.



July 13th, 2011 at 2:32 PM ^

This college hockey thing is a remarkable example of the tragedy of the commons.  Everybody is doing what's best for themselves (in fine accordance with market principles) to the detriment of the whole.  


July 13th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

My feeling is that if college hockey loses programs that are currently viable it hurts the long term growth potential for the game (in addition to the strait lost revenue from then absent teams).  It also hurts the reputation of college hockey in competing for recruits against major junior.  If only a couple of programs are lost of severely damaged due to the coming changes then I am wrong.  We'll see. 


July 13th, 2011 at 4:21 PM ^

And I think the point may be valid for those small teams that survive.  Ferris has a nice team and (I'm told) a nice building, but where are they gonna play? This is  not the Alabama Huntsville of college hockey and if teams like those are stuck without reasonable conference options I think the neg may outweigh the overall positive of having M, MSU, Wis, and Minn all in the same conference.  I do agree that a team like Northern probably doesn't lose anything by moving to the WCHA, but Lake St. may be screwed.   My original point is that there will be winners and losers in the realignment.  That's fine there always will be.  But an enterprise like college hockey need not be zero sum.  Because deals were made and are being made independently of some body looking out for the whole, I think the results will be zero sum or maybe a little worse.


July 13th, 2011 at 5:01 PM ^

My take on it is that the more marquee programs there are (i.e. the more Michigan/Minnesota/ND(YTND) grow in popularity) the better for the sport in the long run. PSU joining the other B1G teams and gaining access to the Big Ten Network is probably the biggest step up college hockey has taken in a while. IMO this will outweigh any casualties, no matter how sad they are when you have to read about each case.

Michigan Arrogance

July 13th, 2011 at 5:26 PM ^

well, if the only down side is that Ferris (whose rink is not great, but probably a BGSU rink) is the only team to drop, it's a net win IMO. LSSU will catch on somewhere, hopefully with the WCHA. the CCHA is probably dead. and those other in the CCHA will catch on somewhere.

Michigan Arrogance

July 13th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

Just maybe not so much with the "legacy throwback" uniforms that are neither throwbacks nor part of Michigan's legacy.


I thought the jerseys were designed to emulate aspects of 2-3 past M unis all in one jersey?


July 13th, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

I think you're getting too technical here.  Any throwback/legacy/whatever jersey we could design can only be an approximation, because football uniforms have changed dramatically since the last time we wore significantly different home uniforms (nearly a century ago).  Jerseys back then were like long-sleeved t-shirts. 

kevin holt

July 13th, 2011 at 2:38 PM ^

For some reason, that conference name made me think of "University of Maryland University College" (for which I saw a commercial the other day that made it look a lot like University of Phoenix). The seemingly redundant name made me wtf and rofl at the same time

Marley Nowell

July 13th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

I think that Denard has the ability to throw into tight windows and did so successfully in the UConn game.  However the throwing plays based on the safeties pissing themselves that Denard will take off gave us all those Roy Roundtree down the seam plays where he was ridiculously wide open.

MI Expat NY

July 13th, 2011 at 3:23 PM ^

He has the ability to make those throws, I'm just not sure I want to live and die with him making those throws.  As great as Denard was last year, he still had bouts of very poor accuracy, and I'm not sure he was asked to make many throws where he had to se the throwing lane before it opened or make a throw trusting that, due to timing, the pass would be there.

I hope and expect that he will make great strides this offseason, but if anyone thinks Denard is going to be great at doing the things expected of a prototypical pro-style/west cost offense qb, they are probably delusional.

Hardware Sushi

July 13th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

Great read...I laughed out loud 5 or 6 times. Keep up the funny stuff, Brian.

Also, when I read BTFJC, my mind translated it to Big Ten F*cking Junior Conference...my subconscience apparently does not like this conference.


July 13th, 2011 at 3:06 PM ^

i like that the podcast guys bring up the idea that the step-dad had some financial motivation for discrediting his stepson.

i feel wrong for agreeing with something so cynical, but what could be more cynical that implying your own stepson was brainwashed?

also a good point that the stepdad's airing family business in public makes this a public issue which makes kyle's decision subject to the opinions of the entire public, which, guh :(


July 13th, 2011 at 3:06 PM ^

The only problem with worrying about how the offense will cope this year, is said worry is based on  last year's offense being something worth preserving.  Take away the Iowa second half fury after the game was hopeless (Iowa turned out to be a 5 loss team remember) and our offense was blah and meh against good teams. I remember almost falling asleep during the first half of Penn State we were so futile.  This was after two weeks to get ready for them.(not even a top flight PSU defense either)  You can say Illinois, but then I'll say MSU, Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State, Purdue, and half of Iowa.  Illinois isn't what we have to beat to compete in the league annually anyways. The great weight of the reality eye ball test says the 2010 offense was beating up on glass joe defenses.

We have better coaches now who aren't going to run the same play over and over and get our greatest asset beaten to a pulp.  Looking forward to seeing how that rolls. Definitely not worried about change being a bad thing. 


July 13th, 2011 at 5:06 PM ^

If you don't think the offense had much worth preserving (and I disagree) then think of Denard Robinson. He, indisputably, was great, and thus well worth preserving. What was he great at? 1. Running. 2. Passing the ball when the threat of him running was greatest. Now, what did he not do as well? 1. Passing when he had to pass to win. Passing when precision was at a premium.

I think those statements are objectively true. So the "worry" is that this year's offense A- will have Denard, by plan, running 40% or so less. B. will have Denard dropping back 50% of the time, something he didn't do at all. And C. will put much more of a premium on Denard being precise in the passing game. Starting to see any potential source of worry? You may respond "well the RB's will be better and take up the slack." Based upon? That Denard will be more precise in the passing game--based upon?

So, if Denard is potentially less effective as an individual player, there is a high degree of probability that our offense will be less effective. I'm not predicting this, but I think it is an entirely legitimate cause for concern.


July 13th, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

I think you statement that Denard is well worth preserving is one of the reasons that having him run the ball less might be good.  By the second half of the year Denard was missing time in just about every game - he wasn't able to finish the Iowa game.  Hopefully, by having Denard run the ball less he will take less of a beating and won't have to come out due to injuries as much in 2011 as 2010.

With regards to Denard being more precise in the passing game in 2011 - nobody knows.  However, I'm pretty sure based upon how well Denard threw the ball in 2009 that no one would have thought he would be as good a passer as he was in 2011. 


July 13th, 2011 at 5:21 PM ^

Why limit yourself to only judging the worth of an offensive performance based on the first half of a game?  Why not make up your mind after the first quarter?  Or after the first drive?

I can think of a few epic games with Michigan offensive-fail performances that you probably missed... 2004 MSU, 2003 Minnesota, 2008 Wisconsin, etc., etc.... because nothing that happens in the second half counts towards a good performance. 


July 13th, 2011 at 3:20 PM ^

I agree about the Red River shootout.  Nobody gave a crap about that game in the 90's when both programs were awful.  But these days, it's a great game.  Even though Oklahoma sometimes puts up 60+ points on the horns.

I believe only once in the last 10 years that game wasn't scheduled the same time as a Michigan game.  So we've seen very little of it.


July 13th, 2011 at 3:32 PM ^

But for the longest time there, it seemed big Big 12 games were in the Michigan/midwest (No, not THAT midwest) viewing ghetto.

In fact, I think last year that was the game I was most excited to have my fanvision for at the Stadium because FINALLY we'd have a time conflict with a big game elsewhere in the Country, and I could still watch it between plays of our game.....and it wasn't on, and we got the non-HD Big East game of the week or some nonsense.

But I agree, for whatever reason, it HAS gotten better more recently.


July 13th, 2011 at 5:10 PM ^

I've always hated the TV networks regarding college football, for reflexively thinking "oh, these people live in the midwest, so surely they would rather watch two teams from their area like OSU v. Purdue than watch Texas v. Oklahoma." Goddam I hate that. Many many times during the year we get screwed by similar decisions.


July 13th, 2011 at 5:19 PM ^

That's not how the decision is made. Living in Michigan, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, what have you, their are more fans of Big 10 teams than Oklahoma fans.

While you, as a Michigan fan, may be willing to give up "Ohio State vs. Purdue", I guarantee you that the Ohio State or Purdue fans don't feel the same way, just as you wouldn't if an OSU fan said "Why don't we give up Michigan vs. Indiana?".


July 13th, 2011 at 6:08 PM ^

I realize it's about conference more than school for them, so the wording wasn't as precise as t could have been. But I don't think I'm an outlier among college football fans living in Big 10 markets when I say that when Texas v Oklahoma is on, I would watch that over 95% of every B10 game, not including M. The networks, just as they do with pro football, have the ability to show (to continue with this example) Texas v. OK to everyone in the midwest save those fans that actually have their home college team playing at the same time. And I disagree that there are more B10 fans in our markets than OK fans--if OK is playing Texas or another prominent, highly ranked team, IMO most college fans would choose to watch that over most B10 games that were not their own team. Many are looking for the better, more highly ranked matchup, versus watching their conference.


July 13th, 2011 at 7:48 PM ^

You might say "if you were a Michigan fan in Iowa, would you be willing to give up the Michigan-Indiana game?" Because we're not talking about regional coverage of your team. That's always on (for Michigan, anyway) even going back to ESPN Local (Channel 7 carrying the feed here). The question is "are there more Michigan fans in Minnesota than there are Oklahoma and Texas fans AND fans of college football in general". I'm not sure that most Minnesota fans would rather watch Michigan-Indiana in St. Paul, and they certainly outnumber Wolverine fans.
<br>It's almost a moot point today with a half dozen BTN feeds, but in any case, even if they MUST carry OSU-Purdue on ABC, the reason to then black out the alternative feed on ESPN (because OSU is the dedicated feed there) is insane. No one is saying "awww, they're putting MSU on locally rather than Texas-Oklahoma", but some other of State regional team in it's place....and not even "OSU-PSU".


July 13th, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

Brian going on about shotgun and Borges and Denard...etc etc etc...this will be a re-occurring theme here for the next couple of years and if this new offense fails with Denard, Id expect Brian to be very non-complimentary to Borges and Coach Hoke etc...

However if his concerns are properly guided...then he would place them on Denard, and not on the coaching staff.  Is it the coaches fault that Denard cant set his feet and throw in to tight spaces (ala the MSU game last year as Brian references)?  Was it RR's / Magee / Smith's fault that they couldnt develop Denard in to a better and more accurate timing-passer...or is it a limitation to Denard's game that he himself has to overcome...

and that truly is the crux of the argument:  Can Denard develop this aspect of his game....or will the OC (who ever that may be) have to talor the offense around this limitation (as happened last year, and made our offense very shakey vs. decent defenses in times of games that mattered)...

Borges can coach up Denard all day long and he may be the best OC in the world... or not...but its on Denard to make that improvement... period.  Kudos to this staff for bending their plans to adjust to Denard...but this is not all on the staff if it doesnt work.....and you have to ask yourself... if it doesnt work, do you want to run your QB 25 times a game and get him injured in 90% of the games just because he has issues with throwing in to tight coverage in timing routes?  Is that on the coaching? 


July 13th, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

It's a double edged sword. Do you do what you're best at coaching? Or do you tweak what you do to suit your players strengths?

There's a lot of broughaha around here regarding RR installing the Spread in year 1, and Round Pegs/Square Holes. Wherever you stand on the whole issue of RR, he installed what he knew and lived with the consequences. 

Much has been made of "We would have been terrible running anything with the talent we had (or rather didnt have) in 2008, so at least we worked on the mental part of the schemes, we couldnt have executed anything. 

So, what do you do? Change the scheme and tell your players "execute this!" or do you learn aspects of that scheme and tell your players "execute what you did really well last year and learn some new stuff too!"

Denard is a singular talent - he had the best dual threat season of any football player ever (only 1,500x1,500 yard year, and he did 1,700x2,500) how much do you adapt your coaching vs. how much do you ask Denard to adapt?

That balance is what we don't know yet, and that's what has Brian writing 3,400 words on the shotgun and other fears. 

MI Expat NY

July 13th, 2011 at 3:39 PM ^

That's a bit harsh towards Denard, isn't it?  Lets face facts, is there any way that this offensive coaching staff offers a High School version of Denard a scholarship to play QB?  Is that even remotely a possibility?  

It's not easy to become a pro-style qb playing at the D1 level.  There isn't one D1 coach who thought Denard had the skill set necessary to do it.  Hell, even spread coaches were offering him a scholarship as an athlete.  If it doesn't work for Denard in this offense, it's not going to be because of lack of effort on his part, nor will it be due to RR/Magee/Smith, who developed him into exactly what they wanted.  Really it isn't going to be anybody's "fault."  If the offense fails, the question is going to be, should Borgess have done a better job integrating "our greatest asset," as someone above called Denard, into the offensive system?  


July 13th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

if you don't run denard 25 times a game, is he really still denard? this is a tricky line of thought since obviously denard's biggest skill is running the ball, as was chris perry, anthony thomas and tyrone wheatley before him. i think the key will be to get him out of set running plays and put him in position to scramble if the throw isnt there, like on bootlegs, roll outs and such, even a qb draw or two.


July 13th, 2011 at 4:36 PM ^

I believe that Denard WILL improve this aspect of his game as a "drop back passer" .... how much? well that remains to be seen, but he is a good enough athlete and thrower to improve...no doubt... will it happen soon enough? we will see...

being 5-11 doesnt help this cause... but he is a smart enough QB and good enough athlete that he should get better, regardless of the scheme...

you raise a good point:  does not running Denard 25 times a game stop him from "being Denard?"... another great question that we will see the answer to quite shortly...




July 13th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

But this-


when Denard threw two end-zone interceptions on plays that John Navarre would have made without blinking

had  me giggling.  Because sophomore John Navarre was so accurate, and had such an understanding public over it.

Don't get me wrong....I'm not comparing the two's styles or abilities; but the fact that there were horrific moments for both first year full time starters as second year players on the field doesn't automatically mean doom.  And the idea that 2nd year Denard wasn't up to the "oh so great of yesteryear, boy didn't everybody treat him great for his performance" 2nd year Navarre was worth a chuckle.  (And yes, that would be the most amusing QB 100 yard dash race ever.  Can you get lapped in a 100 yard dash?)




July 13th, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

Yeah - it's funny how many people want to keep Denard's decision-making/accuracy in stasis as a true sophomore.

When John Navarre was as old as Denard was last year, he was busy putting up the worst game ever against UCLA (RS Frosh vs. True Sophomore). Nobody saw the upper-echelon QB he'd become in 2002 and especially in 2003. Instead, I recall "HOW DOES A 6'6" QB KEEP THROWING THE BALL INTO THE LINE???"

I anticipate Denard will become a better passer as he ages.


July 13th, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

Smith's violation was in Dec. 2004.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you only count as a repeat offender if it's within five years? That is probably why OSU is only counting basketball.