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Seth December 4th, 2015 at 4:45 PM



This was how my interview for MGoBlog happened. Long ago, I was just some reader who wrote diaries. After I wrote one about one-high safeties (that I won't link for reasons that are about to become apparent) Brian invited me to come to Ann Arbor to talk about maybe doing some work for the site. I was star struck, freaking out about every detail, trying to imagine every question I might be asked and how to best frame responses. I had a brand new iPad from work so I brought that to look like a guy with his stuff together.

When I got to Sweetwaters, Brian was there with this imposing bald guy. The bald guy immediately asked if I had a drawing app or a play design thing on the iPad, and when we couldn't get that to work he began drawing stuff on stray paper bits. After about 5 minutes of the scary dude trying to explain coverages Brian said his first thing: "I'm actually starving, do you guys mind if we go get a burger or something?"

We relocated across the street to Grizzly Peak, and still Brian said virtually nothing while Steve Sharik continued to explain a free safety's responsibilities in a cover 1 or cover 3. Apparently what had happened was Sharik read my diary and it was so blithering incorrect that he tracked me down through Brian so he could set me straight. By the time Brian had finished his burger and Sharik had to go, I half-understood that I didn't understand a thousandth of what Sharik understands about football. Brian then asked if I'd like to copyedit the articles and take over Dear Diary from Tim, and if I wanted any fries. I said yes to everything but the fries, and that was the meeting.

I tell you this story now so you'll understand the first two things I learned about this job: 1) company stuff isn't important; and 2) what Sharik has to say is.

[Hit the JUMP for what Sharik has to say about how Michigan uses its free safety, what I had to say about Chad, and what people have to say about defensive coordinator candidates]

Sharik had two recent diaries. The first was right after Indiana and explains why Michigan's Man-Free defense was right against all the pro style teams we faced this year, but utterly wrong against collegiate option spreads. Then before The Game Sharik showed how MSU defended the spread by bringing down a safety:

First, let's revisit how Michigan aligned vs. a 2x2 H-back look:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Notice how we are a man short in the box. If you're also noticing how it appears we have only 10 defenders on the field, it's b/c I tried to show the vertical spacing of the alignment; i.e., you can't see the Free Safety (FS) b/c he's 15-20 yards deep.

Now let's look at how MSU aligned vs. OSU: Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Different cover schemes and whatnot, yes, but it's hard to argue with a guy who said this a week ago:

Again, I hope that Michigan does something different schematically against the Buckeyes than it did against the Hoosiers. If not, Ezekiel Elliot is going to have a Carlos Hyde type performance.

Always heed Sharik.

Michigan's Top 200 Career Rushers, Visualized

Chops has been creating interactive (i.e. you mouseover and more information pops up) charts using Bentley's historical data. The first is rushing data:


I guess that was pretty straightforward. Here's the DENNIS BERGKAMP! video again.

Defensive Coordinator Candidates who are not Sharik

The highly useful alum96 has begun profiling potential sub-heroes. So far it's Todd Orlando and Barry Odom (who is now off the board). Keep your eye on the right bar this week as he adds more.

He also posted his list of guys he'd like Michigan to look into as a forum topic. I bumped to diaries. He skips past home run hires Michigan would take if we could get but probably can't get (Terryl Austin, Jeremy Pruitt and Bob Shoop) and found six younger guys and two more established ones he wants.

To Lose a Boy

I had to stop work and blurt sad words onto a page when I heard Chad died. Then I hit publish.

Diaries Etc. Projecting the 2016 class. Projecting the 2016 rivals. Players Durkin was recruiting. Re-ranking the class of 2012 (flip Wormley and Henry, and AJ Williams (sigh) should go ahead of (sigh) Norfleet. Advanced stats rundown. Two turnarounds. Four plays for OSU that go here because if you read dear diary you already read 4plays.

Best of the Board


Okay it's ESPN Film Presents now whatever. Maybe someone will start making 30 for 30 again, so the board came up with the thread that it comes up with once a year to brainstorm ideas. It's like the old threads except they did do Bad Boys finally. Things I really want to see:

  • Endzone (and maybe 3&Out) the movie.
  • Wings-Avs Rivalry of the '90s
  • Tram & Lou
  • Barry Sanders
  • Jim Abbott
  • The Bagman—like actually follow an SEC bagman for a year.



Asking what’s the MOST Lions loss ever is like asking what was the most spectacular disaster Zack the SimCity Maniac ever orchestrated upon ZACKOTOWN4.CTY.

There were two ways to play the original SimCity game. The first would be to try to get the highest possible population by packing as many residential, commercial and industrial squares into the map as it would allow. The second, and far more popular, method was to build a city past a certain size—about what you need to have an airport—and then unleash every possible disaster on your hapless citizens until they have all left. Then you rebuild and strike again.

Strangely, if you want the same kind of experience with your sports team there is only one franchise on Earth that delivers it: the Detroit Lions. I find it hilarious whenever someone tries to cover these things straight, as if these were real football games and not the work of some cosmic pre-teen blowing off steam at the expense of his his Madden citizenry. Certainly there are more combinations of ref-quakes, turnover fires, coaching godzillas, crap tornadoes, and nuclear meltdowns for the Lions to explore.

As such, there’s really just one word that accurately describes last night’s ref-job/don’t cover the hail mary combo:


P.S. Jon Bois if you’re out there and want to tell that one joke you know again, I dare you to create the most Lions game ever. Hit me up for a list of things it must include.

P.P.S. If you've never heard Jon Bois's joke go read it read it read it because it never ever gets old.


Some silly posters were being all internet about Durkin taking the MD job, so some other poster said he was fed up with this by invoking a little known metaphor from Happy Days. Unfortunately he's about six years too late. As EVERYBODY knows, MGoBlog officially jumped the shark during the spring 2009 Denard-Tate Wars. 

Fun fact that may not be factual: according to Wikipedia (so I wouldn't trust this explicitly) things other than Henry Winkler jumping the shark officially started at Michigan.

ETC. Michigan assistants to become head coaches. Vote Peppers for Hornung. Also for president. Of the United States. You think I'm joking I'm not joking you're joking. RIP STP I've been playing nothing but that and Velvet Underground Revolver all day.

Your Moment of Zen:




December 4th, 2015 at 5:14 PM ^

I had heard about this site from friends and maybe glanced at it a couple times, but I didn't really get into mgoblog until the 2009 season.  We started off that year with a convincing win over Western Michigan and then a thriller against Notre Dame, and though the ensuing performances were a bit rickety got up to 4-0.  We then lost in OT to MSU and had a close loss at Iowa in which our back 7 was brutally exposed by play-action.  But we rebounded with a big win over Delaware State or somebody to get to 5-2, and I thought all was well--with five games left on the schedule, including against some weak opponents like Purdue and Illinois, it looked to me like we were headed for at least a 7-8 win season and a return to respectability after the disaster of 2008.

Well, then some mgouser by the name of Steve Sharik publishes a diary explaining how Michigan's defense is fundamentally unsound and that unless corrected, M will not win a single remaining game.  

I was a bit incredulous.  The analysis seemed to make sense as I was reading it, though much of the content was over my head and I figured there must be flaws to the reasoning that I just didn't have the knowledge to perceive.  Surely we wouldn't lose every single game left on the schedule--I mean, that would be a five-game losing streak, seven straight against BCS competition.  No way could M's defense be that bad.  We'd beaten Notre Dame!  We'd taken MSU to overtime!     

Yeah.  Well, five consecutive losses later, M sat at 5-7 and was missing the post-season again--which at the time seemed unthinkable in my ignorant, "but Michigan is always good" estimation.  So that's when I pretty much had to admit to myself that I really didn't know jack squat about football, and if I wanted to become more enlightened about the game then I had much to learn from people like Steve Sharik.

Go Blue Eyes

December 4th, 2015 at 6:47 PM ^

I think the Purdue game was winnable - we led by 14 at halftime if I remember correctly - but the onside kick by Purdue changed the game around for them.

Great read, Seth, and I think I have learned more about football from MGoBlog than any source. Which is probably why I look at this site hourly it seems!

Swayze Howell Sheen

December 4th, 2015 at 5:18 PM ^

"I said yes to everything but the fries"



as for the moment of Zen, I was there, and it was great. I still can't believe that last guy didn't make it into the endzone.


December 4th, 2015 at 5:32 PM ^

Ringing your town with nuclear power plants, then sending an earthquake, triggered by Godzilla, resulting in floods that create their own tornados, leading to power plant fires which after 25 minutes or so (especially if you weren't running a 486 yet - wtf, mom and dad!) would result in nuclear meltdowns, was the best!


December 4th, 2015 at 5:47 PM ^

As long as MGoBlog never jumps the Sharik, we'll be OK.

My personal Steve Sharik story (assuming it's the same Steve Sharik who has a twin brother named Stan) is that I lived in West Quad Adams House with him and his brother in '88-'90. Steve and Stan were (maybe still are? I don't know, it's been 25+ years) fantastic athletes who dominated the IM sports scene. Steve was on our House's A-team IM flag football team. My roommate and I showed up to tryouts with sneakers instead of cleats. We were slipping all over the place and ended up on the D-team. Fun times.

If Steve is reading, do you remember the guy who would walk up and down the floor yelling, "Baboon!" because he thought his roommate looked like a baboon? That wasn't me.

Blue Durham

December 4th, 2015 at 6:32 PM ^

What I read: blah blah blah blah blah OMG Steve Sharik is a scary, ugly bald guy! blah blah blah blah blah blah

But yeah, Steve Sharik is great for this blog.  Regardless how scary he is.

steve sharik

December 4th, 2015 at 7:55 PM ^

To Seth and MGoBlog Nation:

Seriously, thanks for all the compliments.

I only do this b/c I love Michigan Football and I want to help people understand so they don't go off ignorantly (which I probably have done in spades).

I use my real name not for notoriety, but b/c I don't want to hide behind an anonymous user name. People are a lot more courageous when their identity can't be tied to their expressions. It's kind of an anti-secret identity belief.

By the way, I get a lot of flak from my coaching buddies about doing this, and am probably scuttling any chance I have at a high profile coaching gig. And that's okay with me; I gave up that dream years ago. Like The Rock says, "know your role."


December 4th, 2015 at 8:41 PM ^

What is the essential difference between UM's alignment vs OSU and MSU's alignment? Both have 4 DL and 3 guys behind them... UM has the corner and nickel close to the LOS with the FS way back, whereas MSU has the FS much closer but the corner and SS farther back.

How does that mean that MSU is better positioned to attack OSU's offense? Why does having the SS in the box for MSU make such a big difference?


December 4th, 2015 at 9:28 PM ^

Michigan leaves a safety back to take away the middle third and able to get over to either sideline on a fade. But that means the run game has one less guy involved.

State uses a type of coverage that is sound but not as strong against the deep pass, but activates the safeties against the run game.

Michigan's free safety can't stop an inside run until it's gone 8 yards. State's can be there when it has barely gone 1. I like the Michigan defense against pro style opponents because it's so strong against the pass and they had the horses to dominate run games before the LBs even got involved, let alone the safeties. But they really need a way to adjust to spread to run offenses.

The same thing happened to Alabama when they played Auburn a few years ago. Saban's answer was to get such a terrifying front seven you couldn't run against them since it takes six guys just to block the front three.

I thought Michigan's response would be to use Peppers as a full time safety and walk him down in the box, hoping his speed is enough to get back in high coverage. I would love it if they could do that with Dymonte or maybe Cole or a 5-star recruit one day. But M used Peppers as their slot defender all year, which is a good thing to have against spreads because it neutralizes the main curveball they can throw at you. But Michigan does not have the guys to hit a fastball running game like Indiana or Ohio State's.

steve sharik

December 4th, 2015 at 10:52 PM ^

Since Michigan's safety and nickel are in man coverage, they don't play the run unless their man blocks. Unfortunately, the way to "block" a man-to-man DB is to run a go route, taking him literally 40 yards from the play with his back turned. Three WRs doing that plus a free safety at 20 yards who's backpedalling on the snap leaves 7 in the box to defend the run against 8 offensive players (5 OL, H back, QB, TB).

Were my diaries unclear? (Seriously, not snotty.)


December 6th, 2015 at 5:08 PM ^

Isn't it the case that Durkin depends on the Buck DE/LB player in order to run his favored alternatives to the single high look? The type of player we do not yet have?

Michigan lacks the personnel to execute several of Durkin's go-to schemes (cover-3, cloud, buzz, etc), because you need a guy who can set the edge but also cover in space.

This is prolly why we tried to use Ross at Buck sometimes, in hopes he could hold up against the run, as he provided a better coverage option than any of the true DEs we have. It didn't work, so that made our cover-3 options problematical.

In this context (lacking a true Buck in Michigan's transitioning defense), Durkin had no answer. However, it's not valid to say his defensive philosophy doesn't work against the run-spread, or that he can't defend it. We never saw a fully realized version of Durkin's scheme. That we were so solid most of the year anyways, is awesome.


December 4th, 2015 at 8:27 PM ^

Man, I knew along time ago that Steve knew more about football than I ever would. I was a regular at cottage inn and he was my bartender -- then he was my friend ( who I haven't seen in 17 years). Wonderful and passionate guy.
Steve- we will always have a cold and snowy happy valley loss!

steve sharik

December 4th, 2015 at 10:45 PM ^

Good times.

Phil and I drove through a blizzard to Happy Valley and attended the "snowball" game in 1995. 18 inches of snow hit there on a Tuesday and they couldn't get all the snow out of the stadium, so they shoved a bunch up under the bleachers. Our feet were literally on ice for 3.5 hours, and walking out after a tough loss, I couldn't feel anything from the ankles down. Penn State fans are still the friendliest fan base I've encountered to this day. And if you ever go there, the Rathskeller is a must.


December 4th, 2015 at 11:38 PM ^

It was the only game I ever attended in Happy Valley. My wife was getting a graduate degree and we made many wonderful friends in her program. I worked at a local business for three years and my colleagues were great people. However, the fans in our section at that game thought it would be funny to throw snowballs at me and my buddy, also a Michigan grad. Not a fond memory.

steve sharik

December 4th, 2015 at 10:56 PM ^

But not b/c Durkin doesn't know what he's doing. In fact, I think he's excellent. (Harbaugh wouldn't have hired him otherwise.)

We shouldn't be broken hearted b/c Harbaugh will have no problem replacing him. When Butch Davis contacts you and asks for an interview (as is rumored on the Rivals premium message board), you know that nobody's got it better than us.

SC Wolverine

December 5th, 2015 at 10:43 PM ^

Good to hear.  And yet, as you point out, our defensive plan for both Indiana and Ohio State was catastrophic.  That's like, bad.  Hey, I've loved Durkin too.  But I was in the stands for the big game and that was incomprehensible.  Then again, as you say, Harbaugh will get a great DC, so no worries.  Nobody has it better than us.


December 5th, 2015 at 3:10 AM ^

Ohio stopped themselves against MSU. I give Sparty credit, but the same defense they ran this year vs osu they ran last year @ home, and osu scored TD's on their first 8 possessions. Weather took away the ability to threaten the downfield passing game, and thus MSU was able to key on all the quick stuff Ohio does.

Should our Wolverines have defended Ohio differently? Absolutely. Against osu you absolutely must throw a ton of different looks at them bc if you try and play them with the same defense, they will blow you away. I thought Durkin should have thrown the whole playbook at them. We had nothing to lose. To see DJ not adjust at all really pissed me off. Injuries to our defensive line definitely lessened our ability to defend ohio.

Whomever our next DC is, I hope he is a little more versed in how to stop the spread. Durkin's defense struggled against every spread team with a pulse save NW. I'd really like a guy that has defended against the spread a bunch in his career.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


December 5th, 2015 at 2:10 PM ^

I can never understand how every year Urban runs a two man offense with one play (with wrinkles) - and it works every time against everybody except lucky Sparty in a monsoon. Is there any more helpless feeling than this 98% running offense just running down your throat? Urban isn't going anywhere - they will be running this same spread against us next year in Columbus. I trust Coach Harbaugh against any pro style offense, but somewhere on this staff we need a spread geek that understands all the nuances and possibilities on how to stop it.


December 5th, 2015 at 1:49 PM ^

I'm saying he means Velvet Underground becuase Lou Reed was a long-time junkie, who's songs - most obvioulsy Heroin, but maybe even more analogous Perfect Day - referenced a lifestyle of self-destructive choices that ultimately freed the songs' characters to become who they really were.

While VU has nothing specific to do with STP - stylistically or otherwise - those songs do speak to why Scott Weiland would repeatedly return to destructive habits we're presuming led to his death.

By the way, while Weiland lived to be only 48 (not bad for an inveterate junkie), Lou Reed lived to be around 75 and ultimately died from Liver cancer IIRC.

Never was a huge STP guy myself (always thought they were a SoCal Alice In Chains- lite), but I did play the Hell out of Flies in the Vasoline back in the day!

Lou Reed on the other hand - PANTHEON!

I replayed that awesome video of Perfect Day on a loop for 2 weeks after he passed...


December 5th, 2015 at 7:05 PM ^

Well... my dissertation deserved an 'A' anyway!

Seriously though, VU deserves an attentive listen for any not really familiar with their work in more than a cursory sense.

Some words that apply to very few in rock/pop truly apply to them, and Lou Reed in general:
Genius, Visionary, Exponentially Influential.


December 5th, 2015 at 7:16 PM ^

Wow! I loved Stevie Y! One of my, if not the, favorite players ever.

I'm respectfully asking you to stop defaming his name by using it as cover for your dickishness!

If people on here were hassing a sad because Pol Pot died I could get your venom. But Seth & several others here were just reminiscing wistfully about some good times they had and the music that was playing then. Really no cause to insult them all...


December 7th, 2015 at 2:46 PM ^

In high school STP were the favorite band of everyone in a band (until about 1999 when that became Tool). My best friend who was the biggest STP fan founded the MGoBlog of metal blogs, Metalsucks. If he's got no musical inclination this site knows dick about Michigan.

Music is about taste so there's nothing wrong about not being into them. If your mind was shaped by music critics of the time it's hard to drop that shit, even if some of the critics themselves have. I've had this same argument with my cousin who's two years older than me and is from Seattle, because he believes the 90s were Sub Pop and posers until Radiohead came along. It's a fine argument; I think the week Scott Weiland died is probably the wrong time to be fighting it with such vitriol.