Mailbag: Hipster JoePa, More Borges Transition, Techniques Rehash Comment Count

Brian August 25th, 2011 at 2:07 PM

JoePa as Rivers Cuomo.

Apparently JoePa is a closet hipster.  I knew it all along!  Just look at his shirt in the golf cart at practice.  Couple that with the short pants, white socks, thick-rimmed glasses...hipster all the way.  Thoughts?

Paterno vs Hipster: FIGHT


Emailer: flawless victory.

A manball transition theory.


After reading your posts on Denard and the shotgun, I began thinking about what might be an appropriate Way Forward for Hoke, Borges, Denard and U-M fandom.

I agree with most everyone that last year's spread-and-shred offense was very good despite having a first-year QB starter, turnover issues and the lack of a consistently dependable RB in the backfield.  However we all know that was last season, and the new coaching staff isn't going that same route.  I think a three-year transition from spread to West Coast offense is what Borges needs to consider.  It could go something like this:

2011: passing spread, a la Missouri with Chase Daniels or the Michigan-Florida Cap One Bowl game in 2007.  Plenty of shotgun, still plenty of Denard dilithium.  The distribution of running/passing plays goes from 60/40 last year to something approaching 50/50.  Borges gets the benefit of the short passing game that he desires, takes advantage of a very skilled WR group and the learning curve for the whole offense is a lot less steep.

I'm not sure anything featuring Denard Robinson at quarterback can ever be described as a "passing spread," but it stands to reason that as he develops he'll throw more. In any case I'm less concerned with the development of the passing game than what happens on the ground. While what Denard ran last year was effective in the structure of the offense—how many times did he have nowhere to go?—I got the impression it wasn't very sophisticated. They kept updating it. That's fine as far as it goes. I'm guessing Borges's system is more robust.

The ground game is more of a concern. It was pretty good a year ago and with everyone save Schilling and Webb back it should be better this year. It seems doubtful they'll be able to take that incremental move forward if they're changing their bread and butter.

2012: West Coast/spread hybrid, a la last season's Philadelphia Eagles with Michael Vick at QB.  A senior Denard should be able to handle most anything thrown his way by this time, and hopefully a consistent threat at RB emerges.  Meanwhile, Devin Gardner is getting ready for the spotlight because the transition is nearly complete.

Where are they going to get the personnel? With Barnett out they've got very little at TE/FB. They'll be choosing between Moore/Miller/Kerridge and a third or fourth WR. It's hard to see two of those three on the field for big chunks of the game when the WR options beyond Stonum and Roundtree will be veteran and decent: Gallon, Jerald Robinson, and Dileo will all be juniors—you can split Hayes out as well. The WRs have been getting talked up while no tight end save Koger is mentioned.

Unless Moore and Miller come on big time, Michigan will be all but locked into three-wide sets in 2012.

2013: full-blown West Coast offense.  Devin should be ready to take the reins of a team that might resemble last season's San Diego State offense, or U-M teams from the early 2000s.

This seems like the first year they could plausibly run most of their offense from under center. Gardner's big enough to be comfortable in the pocket, they'll have some sophomore tight ends at their disposal, etc.

Maybe this is something that Hoke and Borges are considering and for their sake I hope so.  This seems plausible to me but I'm no coach.  What do you think?

I don't know yet. We'll have a much better idea when we see this year's offense. If it's as spread-like as Dinardo keeps saying and it performs well it's hard to see them moving away from it for Denard's senior year.

If I had to guess I'd say they are installing a pro-style passing tree right now and will use the parts of it they can with Denard and a bunch of short receivers. By next year that will be almost totally installed. We won't see a drastic shift in the run game until 2013, when the entire interior line ages out and is replaced by Hoke-recruited beef machines. That will be the dawning of the age of Manball.

Someone asks about technique.

Hi Brian,

I apologize in advance for not already knowing this, but my time on the football field was limited to middle school.  I hear Hoke…

Excerpt from interview on "Ryan has been playing the three, Mike Martin has been playing the shade, the one and then a combination of guys, Will can play both the three and the five and the three and the one. Will Heininger can play all three and has.

…talk all the time about the different places our D-linemen can play, but what is the difference between all the different Techniques?

Go Blue,

Techniques are addressed in the incomplete but not totally useless UFR FAQ. Here's a recap/primer for people who haven't been around for one of the previous explanations. First, the explanatory image:


Your question addresses the leftmost DE, the NT, and the DT. Bullet time:

  • THE FIVE TECH: The leftmost—strongside—DE lines up shaded outside of the strongside tackle. He's a defensive end but he's half DT, too: he often has to take on double teams as teams try to hook him and get outside. When doubled on the line he's usually trying to fend off a TE as the second guy so his task is not quite as difficult as the NT in this regard, but when the offense goes to a spread look he's got a lot more pass rush responsibility. The ideal guy here is someone like Brandon Graham, equally capable of ripping through that double or annihilating the tackle if left alone on pass protection.
  • THE ONE TECH: This is the nose tackle. He is supposed to be enormous and immobile. If he's not you can still get a lot of production out of the spot if the guy can split doubles. Martin is the latter variety. "Shade" is a synonym for one-tech/NT—shade means he's not directly lined up over an opponent but he's not halfway between two. In the diagram above the NT is shaded left of the center.
  • THE THREE TECH: This is the DT on the weakside. Because of the alignment of the defense he usually gets a one-on-one matchup with the weakside guard. He's got to win that battle for the defense to be effective. Usually this is the smaller, quicker DT, but the best ones are huge and quick. If we had a nose tackle Mike Martin would murder folks here. Being able to go one on one with the G is how Warren Sapp was so much of a factor in the backfield.

The oft-mentioned Theory Of The 4-3 Under states that the five tech and three tech are somewhat interchangeable. Both need to be tough run defenders with a secondary focus on pass rush. They're big hulking plus-sized DEs or somewhat smaller DTs; sitting and anchoring against doubles is less important than getting penetration by beating your opponent. The strongside DE is usually a more important run defender because he's vulnerable to a lot more double teams.

Are we still better than State at basketball?



Michigan swept Michigan State last year. (awesome)


Compared with last year, how does Michigan match up with Michigan State this year? More favorably, worse, or about the same? I know it is way early, but considering player losses, incoming players, and current player development.




Hudson, Ohio

That depends on how much value you place on Darius Morris and how well you think Trey Burke can replace him.

In terms of players, minutes, and usage lost Michigan has an advantage. Michigan lost only Morris, who was on the court 86% of the time and used 29% of possessions when he was out there. Michigan State lost:

  1. Kalin Lucas (83% minutes, 27% possessions)
  2. Durrell Summers (73%, 21%)
  3. Garrick Sherman (30%, 14%)
  4. Mike Kebler (24%, 9%)

At first blush that's encouraging, but losing low-efficiency usage is not a big deal. Morris combined massive usage with a high ORtg (109); all of the players State lost save Lucas had turrible numbers. The departures are a push at best. State's only going to miss one of the absent. Both teams replace their offense's main engine. Michigan's engine was significantly better.

Year-to-year improvement should be advantage Michigan. As we've discussed over and over again, last year M was one of the youngest teams in the country. Michigan State was about 70th percentile. Juniors like Draymond Green and Delvon Roe are not likely to get a ton better; freshmen like Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan are. State has a couple wildcards in Keith Appling and Adriean Payne. Michigan has the above three plus the ever-expanding Jon Horford.

State's best argument is their recruiting class, which includes five star Branden Dawson. Depending on the service you prefer, Michigan can match the rest of the class with Brundidge, Burke, and Bielfeldt. Not Dawson. He's kind of a big deal.

I'd guess Michigan is narrowly better next year unless State gets an extra quantum leap from one of their young guys. Burke and Dawson's adjustments to college will be the biggest factor.

UPDATE: I totally forgot MSU's addition of Valpo grad-year transfer Brandon Wood, an All-Horizon first team player who might swing the advantage to MSU. /shakes fist at grad transfer rule



August 25th, 2011 at 3:06 PM ^

It's based on the numbering scheme given to defensive line positions. You could look at the UFR FAQ, but you may find a better diagram here:…

Numbering schemes vary by coach and team, but the term "five-technique" generally refers to the position outside the offensive tackle's shoulder (not head-up on the tackle), particularly in a 4-3 alignment.


August 25th, 2011 at 3:00 PM ^

So I'm sitting in my grad student office in happy valley and burst out laughing at the comparison of JoPa and a hipster, needless to say my office-mates inquire about my laughter, and the ones who did undergrad here do not approve of your hipster comparison. I think you've given me the perfect image for the bullitin board out of my office, thanks.


August 26th, 2011 at 5:10 PM ^

argh, triple post from Droid app with no edit button. So I'll just add that the shorts version is killer and the ladies love them, in case anybody was interested in buying a pair


August 25th, 2011 at 7:53 PM ^

If we had a nose tackle Mike Martin would murder folks here.

Oh what might have been, had UM (read: RichRod) not f*cked up the Jonathan Hankins recruitment.


August 26th, 2011 at 2:28 AM ^

Question on this, and it may be stupid. BWC is a massive man and questionable in terms of actual skill. Couldn't we shove him in at one-tech to occupy space and just generally be huge whilst thereby allowing Martin to slide to five-tech and murder people?


August 26th, 2011 at 7:44 AM ^


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Thanks for the good news.