The Lesser of Two Weevils Comment Count

Seth June 10th, 2015 at 4:45 PM

What is the difference between this run:

…and this run:

?

If you guessed "the one Harbaugh/Drevno were coaching got yards and the one from Hoke/Borges didn't" you win a running theme of the 2015 offseason. The results are certainly stark; why that's true is what we're interested in.

The Power Play

These are both the same play by the offense, and the same play Brady Hoke promised to make into Michigan's base because it is the manliest of plays. It is Power-O, the one where you pull the backside guard and try to run between the tackles.

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You can click for biggers

The play is relatively simple to draw up and complex to execute because it uses a lot of the things zone blocking does, including having the blocking and back react to what the defense does. For all the "manball" talk this isn't ISO, where you slam into each other quickly. Depending on how the coach wants to play it and what defensive alignment you see, the basic gist is to get a double or scoop of the playside DT and kick out the playside DE, then have an avalanche of bodies pour into that hole—if the defense is leaping into that gap you adjust by trying a different hole further outside. Leaving two blockers to seal off the backside, one blocker, usually the backside guard, pulls and becomes the lead blocker—it's up to him to adjust to what he sees when he arrives.

You can run this out of different formations with different personnel, and the one immediately apparent difference in the above diagrams is Michigan was more spread—a flanker (Z) is out on the opposite numbers and the strongside is to the boundary; after the motion this is an "Ace Twins". Stanford ran this with a heavy "22-I" formation, meaning two backs (RB and FB) and two tight ends (Y and H) in an I-form. The benefit Michigan gets from its formation is the guy Stanford would have to block with its fullback Michigan has removed from the play entirely by forcing him to cover the opposite sideline.

What Stanford gets in return for its fullback is matchup problems: the open side of the field is going to be two tight ends and a fullback versus two safeties and a cornerback. Run or pass that can go badly for the defense as these size mismatches turn into lithe safeties eating low-centered fullbacks, and dainty corners on manbeast TEs.

In War of 1812 terms, Michigan is the Americans, sending the fast-sailing frigate Essex in the Pacific so the enemy has to move ships to the Galapagos instead of harassing the Carolinas. Stanford is the British, parking 74-guns ships of the line where engaging them cannot be avoided and trusting the outcome of any forced engagement should turn in their favor. The point is both work to the advantages and disadvantages of the talent on hand. (In this analogy Borges is a guy trying to use Horatio Nelson tactics with a Navy of sloops and brigs).

That being said, it still works as well as anything—people did in fact score points before the spread, and those who scored a lot of them could do so by keeping defenses off balance and with good execution. As we'll see both of those factors played a big role.

[after the jump]

The Defenses

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Both were run into aggressive, run-squelching 8-man fronts. Michigan had an extra wideout instead of a fullback, whereas Stanford was facing nearly 9 in the box when you count the cornerback just outside it.

Note however the substantial lack of respect UConn's defenders gave to the possibility of the Y-tight end, A.J. Williams, as a passing threat. The free safety and the CBs are playing 3-on-2 against Michigan's real passing threats, and the SS went in motion with Butt, the U- or H-back, but their answer for Williams is for the SDE to get a chuck and the SAM to cover. This was a constant X's and O's complaint during the Hoke era: this would be a play on which Williams actually got a good block, but either his blocks have to be superb (i.e. take out two guys) or the offense has to create a different passing threat to his side to prevent defenses from activating pass defenders against the run.

On the Stanford side the CB could not be left to fend for himself against the split end (X) to put safety help over the side with two tight ends, so that strong safety has to range the middle and indeed arrives too late and at a bad angle to stop the run for minimal gain as he should. As UConn did, the safety over the H-back went in motion when he did, and became the force (edge) defender to that new side.

Also note that Virginia Tech was slanting the DTs. This curveball put the Hokies at a matchup disadvantage since it's linebackers rather than tackles the offense has to shove out of the way to playside, but it also gave the offense something to adjust to, another thing that can break in a game of "don't screw up." As you see the run fits were still sound.

In the UConn UFR Brian gave the Michigan play an RPS-2 because Borges ran into a stacked box. You can mentally give Stanford an RPS+1 because they ran against a slant. The coordinators calling plays however is really not the main thing going on here—VT's defense is sound and UConn's is beatable. What they'd shown each other before matters much—VT is still playing this with is base nickel(!) personnel because Andrew Luck plus those tight ends is a substantial passing threat.

The Execution

The biggest reason Michigan's attack got zero yards and Stanford's got all the yards, in my opinion—and shared by a couple of former linemen I ran this by—was the execution of the offensive players themselves, and particularly the interior linemen and running backs.

Here's what happened after the snap on each:

sidebyside

If you have Gifscrubber I suggest you pull it out because it's enlightening to watch this frame-by-frame. We'll start with Frame 6:

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Note two spots here. The first is on the top of the formation, Michigan's H-back, Jake Butt, is heading for the same force defender that Stanford's is:

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…but he started a little further in the backfield after his motion, and is thus four yards off the line of scrimmage. The faster he gets to this block, the less upfield the force defender can get, and the more space there will be for the offense to operate.

The other important thing here is that right guard. You have a zoom in a bit to see it well, but Kalis is a yard further back in the backfield, and can't get any further across the formation until the quarterback drops past him. Stanford's guard actually lined up a little further off the line. I talked to one former OG who told me that is a typical trick of offenses that run a lot of power. You give up some space if you're running to that side, so you can tip off to a smart defense what play you're running (power or pass pro). The upside is you get a much cleaner release.

Here it makes a huge difference. While Kalis has to loop four yards into the backfield on his pull, first to get under the quarterback and also to dodge Miller's seal on the nose, Stanford's right guard has a good yard of space between the QB and the center he can scoot through. He's also enough of an athlete to be able to shuffle instead of "rip and run" as profoundly less athletic dudes like myself would have to.

We get the results from these delays a few frames later when the handoff has been made:

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The Stanford right guard is that guy a line off the LOS, covering up the H-back who's about to block the backer. I'll draw these so it's a bit more clear where everyone is:

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In both cases the rest of the blocking has gone well enough, Stanford's thanks to the slant and Michigan's thanks to A.J. Williams's great block on the MLB that made life hard on anyone trying to pursue from the backside. So now in both cases it's down to 2-on-2: RB and RG vs. two unblocked defenders, to decide the outcome of the play.

(If this was some kind of option, e.g. zone read, instead of under-center Manball, the offense would have a 3-on-2. So it goes.)

This is where those blocks above matter. The Stanford H-back got pushed further upfield but he also sealed the SDE inside; the running back sees this and hits the accelerator to the next gap. Michigan's got one less guy to contend with but the SDE block didn't happen as fast so that defender is making the RB and RG gap decisions more difficult. The bigger problem is the RG, Kalis, wasn't to his station on time. Whereas Stanford's guard got his release, stayed close to the line of scrimmage, and shuffled into position while sipping tea and choosing a victim, Kalis is going to arrive a nanosecond before he has to decide whom to block. In fact Toussaint takes a little bounce to give his blocking more time to set up and maybe get those defenders to bite outside.

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And here's where the plays go in two completely different directions. Kalis blocks the SAM, the edge defender, so Toussaint has to beat that strong safety standing alone on the 30 yard line, either by catching him inside and going outside of Kalis's block, or by getting him to jump outside then hitting up inside.

And Stanford? With time to survey and plenty of practice working together and seeing these things happen, the right guard and fullback perfectly coordinate dual-impacts with the two inside players, and the RB shoots through behind them. The safety guarding the edge cannot turn in time, the linebacker getting held a little can't recover, and the rover who's got a chance to stop this for 5 to 8 yards by flowing down the line is a little bit off-balance and can't do so. Touchdown.

Lessons:

1. This stuff all works. Remember what I said about 74-gun ships of line though: Michigan doesn't have a powerful fleet of tight ends and fullbacks yet to create the kind of respect Stanford got, let alone Andrew Luck. I am a spread zealot but I am foremost a Michigan fan, and if Michigan gets yards and points by performing Pirates of Penzance, call me a Gilbert & Sullivan fan.

2. Manball is hard to do right. Pulling is a difficult procedure that requires a lot of practice and a really smart and agile dude to pull off. And if you're going to do anything besides pulling it requires that guy to be huge and devastating. If you think a redshirt freshman (Kalis) ought to have been good at this, go put yourself in his shoes, or Toussaint's shoes, or any of these guys.

The reason Stanford got 60 yards and Michigan got zero when their respective plays got them effectively the same result up to that point was Jeremy Stewart ran toward the hole his blockers were able to punch open at the key moment, while Fitzgerald Toussaint was bouncing around waiting for various single executions to occur in hopes they made a gaping hole. Coaches will look at this kind of stuff and say "Team" with moist eyes, and to this degree they're correct. You can look at any individual Michigan player and explain how he was doing his job and just trying to be right on the various selections he had to make, but when you see Stanford's offense attack on this play they're operating like one machine. It is rare to be that good, but it only needs to happen once a game to be the difference between 4.6 YPC and 2.0 YPC.

Stanford did that to Virginia Tech's great defense; Michigan fopped it against UConn, because coaching makes a huge difference and things that are hard to do take years of practice to get right consistently.

3. Personnel matters a great deal. Stanford's center got downfield and actually got just enough of the Rover to make him stumble when the RB went screaming past. Michigan's center did as good a job as you could ask from Jack Miller, getting the NT sealed without needing any help. But Miller is a bit undersized for Manball and even on this play you saw he got knocked back into Kalis's path a bit. If you can't cave the defensive line you can't get a blocker across the formation. A SKRONG center is probably going to have a clearer path to playing time in this offense than a crafty one.

Comments

MGo Banana

June 10th, 2015 at 4:57 PM ^

That joke in the title is from Master and Commander, right? Does it go back farther than that? Also, h/t Russell Crowe, friend of the football program.

schreibee

June 10th, 2015 at 5:03 PM ^

When I saw the title I thought it was gonna be about Erik Evans vs another SEC huckster...then I saw the play diagrams and said, "Oh, football! Cool!"

Seth

June 10th, 2015 at 5:28 PM ^

no but I read those all over 2 years in early adulthood. I am reading a book about the war of 1812. my family all shares a Kindle account, and I found the book my dad had been reading before he died. the first I just picked up where he was out of curiosity, but now I'm just reading it.

maizenbluenc

June 11th, 2015 at 7:49 AM ^

was he more zone blocking or not?

He had a tendency to pre-brief his captains of the overall strategy, and start an engagement as one line of battle. He had attracted a set of smart, resourceful, like minded followers over the years, and once engaged they were to break the traditional formation, and engage where they saw the most opportunity: "No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy."

From that standpoint I don't see pulling guard, I see zone blocking.

I'll give you the Essex (which is actually what the movie Master and Commander is modeled on), but the British blockade was more Alabama, versus a good high school JV spread team. We had a few athletes but no line. (Wait - that is what you were saying isn't it?)

As for O'Brian and Forrester - they both had books outside there series that were excellent as well. Forrester wrote one about WWII in the Med called The Ship that is excellent, and of course The Good Shepard. Anything by O'Brian is excellent, and can be read several times - especially on those trying days where you just need to escape to another time and place.

Seth

June 12th, 2015 at 2:07 PM ^

"Nevermind maneuvers; go right for them."

Nelson's strategy was pretty basic but also sound: put an overwhelming amount of force in one spot and force the enemy to come to action. It is MANBALL all the way. It also got a lot of his generation and the next killed.

The American strategy (as deployed under Secretary Jones, who basically ran the entire government while Madison was sick for a third of 1813) was a lot like spread philosophy: get some playmakers and put them in space to force the enemy to cover all of it, turning the enemy's size advantage into a speed hindrance.

The British response is also telling: they razeed (chopped the top deck off of) a bunch of old ships of the line to create ships with similar sailing properties to the American large frigates. Likewise, defenses have responded to the spread by going with various types of hybrid space players.

Of course they didn't have live oak to build with, and the war ended before they could be engaged, but you'll note the British soon after started building the "blackwall frigates" and, hilariously, copied the cross-beam design of the 44'ers but attributed them to Robert Sepping because they still didn't want to admit the Yankee shipbuilders had created a superior bluewater ship of war.

ca_prophet

June 10th, 2015 at 5:29 PM ^

This is one reason I have a hard time getting worked up about play-calling.  The right play call means less has to go totally right to get a success, but one guy getting it wrong can always kill you.

That said, it would be nice if we both didn't get it wrong and called the right plays.

Space Coyote

June 10th, 2015 at 5:33 PM ^

The difference in pulls is a difference is purely execution. Some believe in the "grab grass" traditional pull, others prefer the skip pull. Hoke and Co preferred the traditional pull and so does Drevno (Stanford switched to the skip pull after Harbaugh left). But Stanfords RG is much more seasoned and understands you want to not just "grab grass", but "touch ass" as you pull (YAY inappropriate coaching slogans!)

As for the H-back. Harbaugh doesn't believe in the H-back kicking if there is a FB. He really doesn't give a shit about H-backs kicking. If you're near the LOS and even or outside the EMOL, you're down blocking. Harbaugh and Drevno believe in the down block. And they will down block to their heart's content. That means the H-back was always going to go inside and seal. He's going to be hip-to-hip with the Y-TE and they are heading inside and down.

As far as the FB position. Butt's position puts him closer and at a flatter angle to the defensive EMOL. The flatter angle is an advantage because you want to work inside shoulder and out (which Butt does not do, FR TEs ya'll); closer means you ge there faster. But tighter to the LOS also gives you less room to adjust your angle, and closer gives you less time to react to movement. So there are positives and negatives to both.

Like I said, if there's a FB in the backfield, Harbaugh is going to kick with that guy if they're running Power. They may have 3 TEs to that strong side, they'll down block and the FB will kick. Harbaugh doesn't so much believe in Lead Power O, he believes in down blocks.

As for the Michigan play, there are two big busts (that's what she said) that lead to this play failing: first is Kalis's deep pull, the second is Butt not kicking the end man outside. If Butt kicks butt on that DE and seals him outside, then Kalis can go inside (Michigan may have been pulling deeper to give Kalis time to read this, some coaches do believe in doing that, I do not because I think it takes too long; I wouldn't be surprised if they were teaching that though because Michigan pulled too deep the entire time under Borges, IMO). At that point, Fitz can just follow Kalis straight up field and ram it down UConn's throat, and the safety that thinks he's being a force player is just standing off to the side catching the breeze or chasing the ball back inside.

But instead, Butt allows his guy outside. Kalis reacts correctly, if the FB has to flip and seal inside, he must go outside the block ("follow the fart"/"touch ass"). But now you have two defenders, no matter which guy Kalis blocks, the extra defender can account for the gap. It should still be yards, rather easily it should be at least three yards if Kalis gets there on time and Fitz sticks his foot in the ground and gets vertical (remember Harbaugh talking to Isaac in his one run in the spring game? Stick a foot in the ground and go once you decide to go). Fitz is being patient to allow his block to get there, which he should, but once the block is there he has to go.

Moral of the story: if you want to run Power, you damn well better have a FB that can block it great.

Magnus

June 10th, 2015 at 8:46 PM ^

Yup yup yup. I was going to make essentially the same comment about Butt. I actually pointed out his weakness on this play in the 2013 spring game. He also took a poor angle at the time and the result was the same. This is one of the problems of playing young guys. Butt was an in-line tight end in high school, and suddenly they made him an H-back type of player and he had no idea what he was doing. Obviously, that carried over into the regular season. IMO, Kerridge makes that block.

Young players have a tendency to think that defensive targets are stationary, and they don't understand what defenders will do. That's why it's important for them to not only understand their own assignment, but to understand how defenders will react in certain situations. On a play like this, the DE or OLB is supposed to step down if the man across from him blocks down. It constricts everything inside, and it makes it tougher for guards or fullbacks to kick them out.

DoubleB

June 11th, 2015 at 10:50 AM ^

"At that point, Fitz can just follow Kalis straight up field and ram it down UConn's throat, and the safety that thinks he's being a force player is just standing off to the side catching the breeze or chasing the ball back inside."

UConn is playing Cover 1 and that safety is actually trying to cover the FB. Once he knows it's a run he ends up becoming the force player. If UConn were playing zone, they have the bodies and angles to fit this run play regardless of whether Kalis is able to turn it up or not.

The worst block on this play is by the PS guard who gets turned and never sees the WLB doing a half-assed run through. If the WLB goes through that FS A Gap, it's a TFL.

Seth

June 12th, 2015 at 2:25 PM ^

Nope, but this (and the rest of the Napoleon Wars) were pretty much their final hurrah, and most of the 74s in service were probably 30+ years old.

The War of 1812 played a key role in British bluewater shipbuilding because they finally witnessed the efficacy of, and got their hands on, the cross-beam construction the Yanks used beginning with the original frigates. If you know your Master & Commander well remember how clean the sides look. This is that ship (the HMS Rose) when not gussed up for film. The ship is a fair replica of a 1760s British frigate still in service in the Napoleonic Wars:

Now look at the walls of the USS Constitution's gundeck:

That framing got passed into British shipbuilding soon after the War of 1812 (to '14) and gave rise to the 90-gun ships they favored up until the steamships and actual iron-sides.

BIGBLUEWORLD

June 10th, 2015 at 6:20 PM ^

I'm no football tactics guru, but it seems if defenses are generally gearing up to handle the spread, and Harbaugh comes in with a compact offensive set that still allows numerous options, we're going to difficult for opposing defenses to prepare for.

Somewhat like Navy running the option, it's harder to prepare for something you don't see as often.

WolverineHistorian

June 10th, 2015 at 6:20 PM ^

That play in the UConn game sums up our running game the last three years (minus Denard in 2012).

I have to believe that soon, we will FINALLY be able to get something more than 1 yard gains.

Magnus

June 11th, 2015 at 9:49 PM ^

Total disaster? Not exactly.

Rodriguez recruited Lewan, Schofield, and Omameh. Lewan was a 1st rounder, Schofield was a 3rd rounder, and Omameh is a starter (or borderline starter) for the Buccaneers. He also had Jake Fisher committed, who went on to start for several years at Oregon and got drafted in April.

So no, it wasn't a total disaster, but he did fail to bring in enough linemen. He actually had a very good "hit rate" since the only real washout of his linemen was Tony Posada. Otherwise, Quinton Washington moved to defense, Christian Pace got hurt, and Ricky Barnum was a solid but injury-plagued player.

DoubleB

June 10th, 2015 at 7:54 PM ^

The role of the defenses in this has been completely ignored. Virginia Tech has TEN guys to cover 9 gaps and fails miserably. #2 decides to eff around the backside and should easily make the play at around 3-5 yards. That's not even the worst of it. 2 guys--the corner and MLB in your diagram--both decide to be force players leaving the open gap. Virginia Tech's "great defense" was godawful on this play. UConn plays it just about perfectly.

You've over-emphasized the differences in the FBs as well. While I agree that the UM FB could do a better job of preventing the cross face move, the Stanford FB has the HUGE advantage of blocking a MLB shuffling to the outside. There's still a gap between the down block and the FBs block in Stanford's touchdown.

massblue

June 10th, 2015 at 7:58 PM ^

If he had stayed home -- like #32 of UConn -- the play would not have worked as well as it did.  Now, is the apparent poor play of #20 a result of excution by Stanford or just a bad read? Any thoughts by the gurus?

Magnus

June 10th, 2015 at 9:01 PM ^

I'm not sure who #20 is, but by alignment, it looks like he's playing cornerback (EDIT: #20 is indeed cornerback Jayron Hosley). When the H-back motions across, that essentially adds another gap to defend on the strong side. So instead of the OLB to that side helping with outside contain, it now becomes the cornerback's (or #20's) responsibility alone. He steps up to the outside to keep contain, but the interior defenders all lose their battles, which sends the RB off to the races.

For UConn, #32 was an inside linebacker, so he didn't have contain responsibilities.

DoubleB

June 10th, 2015 at 11:07 PM ^

I disagree with Magnus about the V.Tech losing all their battles inside. The MLB simply takes too many shuffle steps outside and instead of fitting with the puller, fits OUTSIDE the FB--a place he should never be. He ends up duplicating the responsibilities of the contain player and two gaps over from where he should be.

The slant call by V. Tech does not help the cause at all.

wolverinebutt

June 10th, 2015 at 8:20 PM ^

I was a little suprised about Braden moving to Guard.  He really has a tackle body.  I've heard the Taylor Lewan story marveling how athletic Braden is so one would guess he is being moved to guard to take advantage of how athletic he is for pulling/lead blocking.  

Lets hope the transition is smooth to guard and that the OL play gets much better this year.  

I can wait for the season to start.    

Reader71

June 10th, 2015 at 8:54 PM ^

Small niggle: Stanford's guard isn't crossing over on his pull because he is athletic. He's doing it because that's the way his coaches teach him to do it.

For all the talk about coaches putting players in position to succeed and tailoring their offenses to player strengths, you will never, ever, ever see one guard rip and run and the other cross over, even if their individual talents are more suited for one then the other.

Coaches are dogmatists. All of them.

M-Dog2020

June 10th, 2015 at 10:00 PM ^

Key difference is the FB in I formation that leads a double team into the hole. Basic shit. Find a true FB who can run, catch and block like a pulling guard and we are done IMO. Also, need a more versatile TE/H-back who can play man ball and be a pass threat.

M-Dog2020

June 10th, 2015 at 10:20 PM ^

We just did not develop the players to run the Power-I man ball. Need to find that right combination of FB andTE/H-back. Both guys need to block like a pulling-guard and then run/catch like a RB/WR. Rare guys. Stanford was stock full of that breed. Give JH time and we will as well. Next year ? Not sure we can pull it off unless coaches can develop current guys into those kind of players.

Magnus

June 11th, 2015 at 6:32 AM ^

I don't really buy that you need a FB who can block like a guard and run/catch like a WR/RB. Michigan didn't really have that in its heyday of running power, and Wisconsin hasn't had that, either. I think Joe Kerridge is a quality fullback. You're not going to find a ton of fullbacks in the country (although there are some) who have a better combination of skills than him for running what Michigan has been running.

M-Dog2020

June 11th, 2015 at 7:28 AM ^

Joe is a good player, but I am talking about a FB who has the athletic ability to run with the ball. Classic Michigan FB was Russell Davis ... 1,000 all-purpose yards a season and could block like a guard. I would take someone like Ty Isaac and develop him into that guy - has the size, speed and moves to create a lot of leverage for the Power game.

Magnus

June 11th, 2015 at 7:50 AM ^

My point is simply that you don't NEED that type of guy to run an offense like this. Sure, it would be great if you had a bunch of players who were super-athletic and could run for 1,000 yards, but Stanford didn't have that, Wisconsin doesn't have that, etc. It's a luxury, not a necessity.

M-Dog2020

June 11th, 2015 at 9:18 AM ^

OK, but someone needs to step-up at both FB and TE/HB in this Fall camp. We can't keep rotating in role players that just tips-off what is coming. I think they moved Winovich into that TE/HB position to see if he can develop more depth into the role. Butt needs to add strength this summer and have a great camp.

To run the Stanford Power-I you need dudes like Gerhart, Marecic and Dray ... of course, having Luck run the offense was key. I think we can find the right combination of players to get closer to that level, something like the following - Isaac, Kerridge, Butt with Rudock running the offense. We are going to be light-years better on offense by mid-season. If the defense can keep us in games early season, then we could shock some folks down the stretch and even develop into a B1G contender.

Magnus

June 11th, 2015 at 12:11 PM ^

For some reason, I don't think Wisconsin's lack of a fullback who can block like a guard, run like a 1,000-yard rusher, and catch like a wide receiver is the thing holding them back from a national championship. Nor was it the only piece missing from Stanford.

Also, teams that have won championships in recent years also haven't had that trio of skills in any one fullback/H-back type of player.

So...uhhh...yeah. While what you're saying is technically "true," it's not really relevant.

Wisconsin and Stanford also didn't have a female middle linebacker. So, you know, the lack of ovaries on defense might have prevented the championship. Prove me wrong.

pescadero

June 11th, 2015 at 1:03 PM ^

I'm not claiming it is a necessary or sufficient condition for a national championship.

 

I'm just pointing out that "X didn't have/use that" is really only applicable if you want to be like X.

 

It's like the "Harbaugh didn't need 4/5 stars at Stanford"... well, that is great if you're satisfied with Harbaugh at Stanford type results.

Magnus

June 11th, 2015 at 1:39 PM ^

You're kind of missing the point. I think you're just being argumentative without actually having much of a point.

Michigan also doesn't have red jerseys. Michigan's mascot also isn't a tree. Michigan also doesn't have a guy from Stafford playing quarterback. All of these things do not need to be replicated to have Stanford-level results.

We can go on and on like this forever.

We don't need a third-string QB who "ain't come here to play school" to win a national championship. We don't need a 6'5", 230 lb. beast like Cam Newton to win a national championship. There are all kinds of tiny modifiers that, if we really wanted to nit-pick, we could say "Well, we don't have this" and "We don't have this." There are many ways to be successful.

I don't remember the last time a national championship-caliber team had a fullback with the qualities stated above. So when athletic excellence at the FB position becomes the tipping point for winning national titles, please let us all know.

pescadero

June 11th, 2015 at 2:30 PM ^

You're kind of missing the point.

All this talk about "Team X didn't need this" implies your goal is "Team X" results.

When you say "All of these things do not need to be replicated to have Stanford-level results" - I agree.

I'm just pointing out that we don't want "Stanford level results". If Harbaugh has the same results here that he did at Stanford - he'll be fired and run out of town.

 

We don't need a third-string QB who "ain't come here to play school" to win a national championship. We don't need a 6'5", 230 lb. beast like Cam Newton to win a national championship.

 

Or maybe we do. We haven't won one in a LONG time.

 

What we do know is that since 1995 only one team has won a national championship without having at least TWO top ten recruiting classes in the prior 4 years.

Magnus

June 11th, 2015 at 3:12 PM ^

Good grief, this is a stupid argument. In case you can't figure it out, I'm not talking about Stanford when Harbaugh began and was losing. You're purposefully being obtuse. I'm also not talking about Wisconsin's team from 1932-1989. How in the world could one possibly deduce what is being discussed? By exercising some common sense.

Your comment about top ten recruiting classes is nowhere even near where this conversation began.

I'll sit back and wait for you to explain to us why we don't want to go 4-8 like Harbaugh did in 2007.