Mailbag: Mostly About Uniforms Comment Count

Brian July 15th, 2015 at 10:58 AM

Design elements


Adding to the list of Adidas wrongs. What really irks me is that the only word appearing on the front of the current Michigan football uniform is Adidas. Unlike most schools, U-M jerseys were famously clean of any identifying words- the signature maize & blue color scheme was all that was needed. The simplistic Nike swoosh, though an identifying trademark, is far less noticeable.

Ed McArdle

Saginw, MI

Hoarding disease is a problem with a lot of uniforms these days. In an effort to brand brand brand everything they've cluttered the front of the jerseys with a series of logos: Adidas's clunky stripes, the Big Ten logo, legends patches, bowl patches, a block M or three. There is too much stuff on these uniforms:


They're probably dropping the Legends patches and replacing the Adidas Triangle Of Tiny Text with the swoosh will help; they can ease back on the block Ms.

The Big Ten logo is going to remain a grating presence until the end of time. Because you need to be reminded who is in the Big Ten these days. And that Michigan—surprise!—is in it. But some guy gave a presentation where he muttered something about brand equity, so we're stuck with it. The best they could do is something like they did at Crisler:


Michigan technically complies with the league mandate to have the Big Ten logo on the floor… very technically. If Michigan could get away with a blue-on-blue Big Ten logo that would improve things. I bet some clever person in the league office has already put in a regulation against it, unfortunately. 

Maybe a step too far.


Am I crazy for thinking that this is the best look for the away uniform?? Obviously the jersey will be Nike but I love the simple all white jersey and blue numbers. There is enough maize on the helmet and the pants. Maybe put the Block M or number each shoulder pad. I just think simple is better and this jersey is sharp.


I like simple. That might be a bit too simple even for me. It gives off too much of a generic vibe. Is that a Michigan jersey or a random high school from 1950? I do not know.

The above does avoid the clutter mentioned above. It even avoids the many, many iterations of maize trim that have never really come off:

Fitzgerald Toussaint Michigan v Illinois c7ygQmG73Mql

I am so done with maize piping, and maize outlines on the numbers, and maize maize maize on a white road jersey. But the above suggestion needs something to distinguish it. The correct number of design elements isn't a jiggityzillion but it's not zero unless you're Penn State.

Maybe the stripes from the Sugar Bowl jersey:

Denard Robinson Allstate Sugar Bowl Michigan Cqw4NgM20BTl[1]

That everyone liked those is indicative of how low our expectations are these days. I thought they were fine and they have the chest clutter—this partially self-inflicted with a superfluous block M—and weird thin numbers that kind of make it look like everyone is wearing a kids' size. But they weren't a collaboration between a six year old with a glitter gun and the first guy cut on every season of Project Runway so we liked 'em.

[After the JUMP: Bo Xs and Os, and moar Nike.]

Bo X and O

I'm curious if you or anyone else in the mgoblogosphere has any knowledge of what kind of Xs and Os coach Bo was. Was he more Hoke, line up and out tough you or more Harbaugh, manball+ for lack of a better term.


I asked Craig Ross about this, because if anyone would know it would be him. This is his response.



Some nominal thoughts. I saw all of Bo’s home games (road games often were not on TV in the 70s) save for 71-74 when I was in law school in Boston and only caught the OSU games. Plus, at the time, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to what he was doing. I was strictly a rooting fan.

On defense Bo ran an “angle” 3-4 (I think the DL angled one way the LBs the other) with small quick NGs (Henry Hill was the early proto-type and he weighed right around 200-210) like Tim Davis or Al Cincich (if my memory is correct).  I am sure that he played these uber quick but safety sized NTs who tried to angle into the A gap and use their quickness as a disrupting factor. My brother, who played center in HS (but safety in college) was undersized at the position but said he hated playing against those kinds of DL, “that he would rather block a bigger and slower guy any day.” Bo, plainly felt the same way. In those early days the passing offenses UM saw were both rare and pretty basic so Bo used a “Wolfback,” a safety like Don Dufek  Jr, who could play zone against the pass but still come up to play against the option teams of the time.

My recall is that Bo was more of a zone than man to man guy on defense. By a wide margin. Once, at an M Club meeting I asked him about an INT where it seemed that the corner was blitzing (he called a corner blitz a “fire”) and a receiver was uncovered. The QB saw the seeming lack of coverage and threw a quick ball to the WR---a hot read is my guess---but the DB had rope-a-doped the QB and was in coverage. INT. I thought that the DB had blown the coverage but had scrambled back just in time but Bo said “no, it was sugar,” implying that they wanted to show the uncovered look, with the fake blitzer dropping into coverage on the snap. As an aside, this is what Scot Loeffler told me was a problem with offenses that rely too heavily on sight adjustments---that, essentially, the defense “would be calling all the plays,”

Bo’s definite preference on defense was speed and not size. He played a lot of 200 pounders at LB, particularly at the ILB position.

On offense Bo was strictly an execution guy running triple options in 21 or 22 personnel---at least in his early days. I formation and always under center. Fake or handoff to the fullback, then the QB would probe to the play side with the TB as a pitch man. Or, he ran isolation plays with the FB isolating on a backer with the TB reading the FB’s blocks. Bo’s FBs were blockers who could run and were generally larger than the LBs or the NTs he used. Bob Perryman was a classic Bo FB, a guy who could block but was also a fantastic ball carrier.

Later, Bo used some wishbone or split backs at the goal line. I don’t recall anything like 10 personnel ever.

His QBs were mostly runners. Dennis Franklin was phenomenal and he could throw it some but he had a very slow release. Franklin was 30-2-1 as a starter but I always felt that with some  modicum of a passing game UM would have been 32-1, worst case and quite possibly undefeated. Leach was a terrific triple option QB but he wasn’t much of a passer and he was hamstrung by what seemed to me to be a pretty limited passing offense. Same with Steve Smith, who was a tough as nails runner and a better passer than Leach (and maybe Franklin),

Bo gap blocked. I don’t know if he used any doo-dad blocks, Landry’s and Lombardi’s precursor to zone blocking. If I was going to compare Bo’s offense to anyone it would be Lombardi, executing one play or sequence perfectly, and then countering off of it when the defense adjusted. I also think he became comfortable throwing some to his backs (usually the FB) and he may have been channeling some stuff Bud Grant was doing with the Vikings. Bo loved to trap, would use the power sweep.

I found Hoke’s offenses to be schizophrenic, the Dr. Strangelove of the football world. He wanted to run power and west coast passing, but it always seemed to revert to zone, read options and a passing game I am sure made sense---much as it was, well, not very successful.  He never seemed to evolve past the spread pieces he inherited. Some bad fortune there but four years down the road the offense still seemed one with feet in different places. I felt like we were watching a platypus morph in a unicorn. Only there wasn’t any unicorn.

Well, Bo’s offense is all through the mist now. But even in the years when there was almost no passing (Leach was 32-100 in his frosh year, so 8.5 per game) it always seemed coherent, if maddening in its lack of dimension. Since Hoke’s offense were the antithesis of coherence, I would have to hope Harbaugh will look a lot more like Bo, albeit with an actual passing game. To be honest I would guess that JH’s offense will look more like Lloyd than Hoke or Bo. And, for me, that’s a good thing.

I saw this with limited confidence that I am just not jabbering.


So there you go.

Nike recruitin' now? 

Greetings MGoEmployee who is monitoring the inbox today,

Y'all seem fatigued by adidas/Nike/UA speculation, and this question likely betrays my lack of basketball recruiting knowledge, but do we know how basketball coaches handle shoe/apparel switchovers?  Does HCJB essentially recruit as a Nike coach now, even with the transition year? It has seemed like shoe companies can help push guys to schools they feel might need a boost (or at least I found the rumors re Auburn and UA to be credible). Seems very un-Beilein to want help like that, but I might be a bit Polyanna on him.


Tom in DC

PS: my copy of the magazine arrived in DC yesterday, and it's great. Keep up the good Harbaugh!

I have no idea how much impact that really has. Jaylen Brown made a lot of people think it has a big one… and then went to a Nike school. Since the kids Beilein is recruiting now aren't going to be on campus until next year anyway, I assume they'll start pitching Nike stuff. I still can't believe that's going to have more impact than "I take middling recruits and put them in the first round of the draft," but whatever works man.

I don't think it's going to make a big difference. As you mention, Beilein is not the kind of guy who is going to emphasize the shoes his program wears. It might get rid of a hurdle for kids who are interested; the ones who are probably won't change.

Campus events?


With all the UNIFORMZ excitement, I wanted to know if there was any indication that Ann Arbor will get a NIKE football/basketball camp now with the new deal. The Opening has a regional in CBus and I would assume kids visit OSU (and if they aren't technically allowed too they still probably have a casual run in with an OSU coach at the local Red Robin...or something like that as well as getting to see the campus and facilities by participating). A NIKE Opening camp would really help for recruiting IMO. I know there is a regional in Chicago but what is the harm in adding one in AA?

Yours in Schadenfreude and UNIFORMZ,

814 East U

I kind of doubt it. Sound Mind, Sound Body is already in the area and brings a ton of kids from outside the region to it these days. With that, Harbaugh's satellite camps, and Michigan's own camp they're pretty booked up in the summers. Meanwhile there are 13 Opening regionals, two of which are already pretty close to kids in Michigan.

If Michigan pushes for it they might get it; Harbaugh seems to prefer bringing the show to the kids instead of vice versa.



July 15th, 2015 at 11:23 AM ^

RR was lambasted by pretty much everyone for trying to spread and shred from day 1 without any pieces (for any offense) and was said to have cost us games. However, by the end of year 2 and fully into year 3 we saw that offense start to show signs of life. He got the axe, Hoke came in and tried to slowly turn that platypus into a unicorn and other than year 1 (where he was blessed with Denard) the offense looked like it had no idea what it was trying to do. 


Not that I worry about this with HARBAUGH but I think the lesson here is to have an identity and run as much of it as possible in year one, then make the transition as quickly as possible after that. People will argue "adjust the system to the players" and while I understand the calls for that I think knowing who you are and executing on that is the better play. 

You may have more growing pains at the start of running what you know, but you have a higher ceiling and likely a shorter learning curve for all involved. If you're adjusting the system  to the players you'll probably have an easier time at first, but your curve will be long and you're already at least calling into question the ceiling because you have no idea what the end result even looks like. 

Space Coyote

July 15th, 2015 at 12:55 PM ^

Hoke's offense was good in year 1 and pretty strong in year 2 as well. Even at the end of year 2, when he started installing his offense with DG under center, it looked like it had a clear idea where it was going. It really wasn't until year 3, and the disaster at OL, where things fell off the rails.

And that was probably the correct move for Hoke. The offense was already good. He just needed to smooth out the edges to get it to finish drives and not turn the ball over. Slowly building in your own offense was the correct approach, and by the end of 2012 it looked like the transistion was smooth and effective. On the counter side, he blew up the defense immediately, went to a 4-3 Under with a different philosophy than even GERG had when he ran the Under, and that worked.

For Rich Rod, I don't think the offense was quite the disaster many make it out to be going into 2008, but his approach was best for making it better than solid down the road (as soon as 2009).  So with that in mind, he went with what he knew best immediately and what he was brought there to do and changed immediately. But he delayed completely overhauling the defense, which was good early on.

I think both coaches did basically what they were asked to do when they came in and what they needed to do to try to implement their philosophy. Rich Rod came in to overhaul the offense and bring Michigan forward; he did. Hoke came in to instill some toughness and defense; he did. Neither tried to fix what wasn't broken, they just tried to do what they knew within what worked.

I don't think either coach's ultimate failure was because of transitioning early or later; the issues were elsewhere, mostly with player development, especially on one side of the ball. I know I've beat the drum that the schemes were sound, but I still believe it. It was when the players weren't good enough (development) that the scheme went off the rails in an effort to "out-scheme" or gain an advantage elsewhere (sometimes to the detriment of eventual success). Rich Rod knew how to implement a 3-3-5 defense (even if GERG didn't exactly, he still knew how to install a defense), he'd done it before; it was when things started falling apart that it all snowballed. Borges knew how to implement his offense, he had done it before; it was when the OL fell apart that he began freaking out and trying any and everything to gain an edge.


July 15th, 2015 at 1:03 PM ^

How in the world do you see the 2008 offense as potentially 'solid'?  The OL was awful. The QB play was awful.  You can live with one, you cannot live with both.  Even if your skill position guys were Randy Moss, Tony Gonzalez, and Adrian Peterson, that offense wasn't going anywhere.

It could have been better, sure, if the scheme change had been introduced incrementally.  If Mallet had stuck around Rodriguez might have entertained the notion of delaying the conversion, but you don't stick with what you have when your 'returning' QBs are freshman and walk-ons and the OLmen who benefit from consistency are people like Ortman, Moosman, Dorrestein, and, again, walk-ons or freshman.

It could have been better, but it still would have been very very bad.

On the other side of the ball, the conversion to 3-3-5 was only partially embraced and never had the support of the DCs. With Borges there was at least a clear vision for a gradual evolution and the QB personnel dictated that it happen a certain way.  There was no such equivalent on defense for the 3-3-5 and no clear vision defined by Shafer/GERG etc.

Otherwise - your big picture conclusions are ones I agree with.  The personnel issues (for Rodriguez on defense, for Hoke on O) led to panic on the scheme front.  The throw feces at the wall offense of 2013/14 and defense of 2010 were reflective of poor development, recruiting errors, attrition, etc. 


July 15th, 2015 at 1:23 PM ^

Even with scraps on the OL, Michigan was #59 in rushing in 2008. Brandon Minor went for 5.1 yards/carry, and the top four running backs averaged between 4.12 and 5.12 yards/carry. Granted, #59 is pretty mediocre, but you have to consider that the QBs were terribly poor fiits, and Michigan lost a bunch of players in the interceding off-season (Mallett, Boren, Manningham, Arrington, etc.). There were flashes of promise.


July 15th, 2015 at 2:21 PM ^

One thing Rodriguez could do was get results in the run game.  Which is why taking him out of his system would have been a bad idea. He didn't have the personnel to justify doing something he didn't know how to do (unlike Borges, who had Denard).

And those flashes of promise in 2008 led to a very good ground attack in 2009 and a downright excellent one in 2010.  If he ran a pro-style offense in 2008, the transition would have been smoothed out but also slowed down.


July 15th, 2015 at 4:01 PM ^

but I believe Brandon Minor was thinking about transferring before that season. He appeared to be buried on the depth chart behind Sam McGuffie and Mike Shaw and was frustrated. A primary reason he stayed was the encouragement of Lloyd Carr. Contrary to other narratives, Carr was encouraging players to hang tough and stay in the program. I stress these are my beliefs but they aren't made up and are what Sam Webb might call a "gut feeling" in exactly the way Sam uses this phrase.

As an aside I was among the last holdouts for Rich Rod. I wrote a long article for Sam (Fox Sports) suggesting that RR be retained for the length of his contract, and made arguments to this end. This was shortly before RR was terminated.  

Sometimes (and i include myself) we want the world to be a simple place with simple explanations. Well, in the world of UM football, it has not been so. Let's hope that Harbaugh begins to turn the aircraft carrier.

Space Coyote

July 15th, 2015 at 4:16 PM ^

And completely flies in the face of the Carr haters that have posited that he selfishly sabotaged the program because Michigan didn't hire his guy.

Like you said, sometimes people want simple explanations, but those don't really exist. People wanted to paint Carr in a bad light as a reason for Rich Rod's struggles, even though Carr was one of the early people to recommend Rich Rod for the position, and other stories (such as yours) to the contrary.

Carr was tacit in his point of view because he didn't want the program to be about him any longer. He wasn't the coach any longer and didn't want to be the old coach shadowing over the program; that wasn't his personality nor was it something he desired. People took that for tacit disaproval or worse, but it never added up in any way. They took the "I'll sign your transfer papers" and turned it into him telling people to leave, when the reality is he said "if you really want to leave, I'll help you out in any way I can, but only after we talk about it and make sure it's the right thing to do".

Anyway, just thought that was a very interesting and insightful piece of information that in many places would be overlooked. I, too, wanted Rich Rod to succeed, and only started not believe following PSU his final season, and only really completely gave up on him during the bowl game. Like you said, there aren't simple explanations, not everyone is on one side or the other, which makes it much more difficult for people because it can't simply be wrapped up with a bow.


July 15th, 2015 at 4:31 PM ^

the idea that he would actively undermine RR and the University always seemed dubious to me.

He decided to step back, and clearly he wasn't as helpful as he could have been, but the blame towards Carr from a lot of the fanbase seemed totally unwarranted to me. I think he wanted to let Rodriguez run his own operation. Furthermore, it wasn't clear at the time (to Carr, Rodriguez, or anyone else) that Rodriguez needed Carr's help.


July 16th, 2015 at 1:13 AM ^

Thank you.

You have nailed it.

As you point out "he didn't want the program to be about him any longer" and he didn't want any impression that he was looking over RR's shoulder, that he was some sort of a back seat driver.

Somehow, out of this, many thought he was (in various ways) controlling matters or interfering, when the fact was he was just trying to retire.

No black hats. Misunderstandings. It just didn't work out and LC found it de classe to defend himself.



Space Coyote

July 15th, 2015 at 1:30 PM ^

By "solid", I in no way meant "good". I think the 2008 offense could have been alright, enough to win them some games (like Toledo). Threet showed he could play well enough when he went to ASU. The skill positions were pretty good, especially with Brown and Minor at RB, then Clemens, Mathews, Stonum, and Hemingway at WR. TE had a FR Koger and SO Webb, both pretty good TEs, and Butler, who was an above average TE until they made him a DE for some reason.

The OL was the major issue, but they had enough there to have a solid (though not good) unit if they stuck with what they knew. Orrmann (JR), McaVoy (JR), Moosman (JR), Zirbel (JR), and Schilling (SO) were each individually solid players. No stars (not with Schilling that young), but enough to be solid (fairly high floor, low ceiling), especially with the RBs behind them (depth was a huge concern, as the guys behind them were all really young).


July 15th, 2015 at 2:40 PM ^

Disagree with you on the OL. This was the year that Bryant Nowicki (a walk-on) lettered. He got significant snaps because that's how bleak things were. We're not talking about a Glasgow here, Nowicki disappeared the following season when Rodriguez's recruits could play.

Schilling was the only good linemen of the bunch and he was a true sophomore that year. Ortman was serviceable by the time he was a senior (like a lot of OLmen) but a liability before that.  Moosman and McAvoy were not good - replaced by the following year. Huyge and Molk were around, but still too young (RS Freshman). Zirbel was injured before the season IIRC.  That's one and a half solid linemen total and you need...counts on fingers...more. I think if Rodriguez really wanted to win that year he would have burned the red-shirts on Omameh, Barnum, ONeill, etc but he recognized the season to be the development year it was.

Threet was OK two years later, but that doesn't mean he was an impact player as a freshman.

Skill guys were fine like you said, but still reliant on the OL and QB to give them opportunities.

It would have won them a few games on the margins if they took the short-term view. But it would have cost them in the future.  It's not like the fanbase was going to be placated by winning 5 games instead of 3 that first year. Putting in his offense right away was the right call for Rodriguez.


July 15th, 2015 at 12:26 PM ^

The interesting thing to me about the Craig Ross blurb is this:

Ross said he wished Franklin and Leach threw the ball more (and better) - which is basically RR's offense.  Thus the highly ironic and idiotic nature of whatever boogeymen were out there during the RR era, pining for the good old days.  Ever since Bo left, the offense we've run that bears the absolute least resemblance to Bo's offense..... is Lloyd Carr's!

Lloyd's model was to find a bazooka statue and have him either give to the RB or shoot off rockets.  I figure this is partly because Harbaugh showed what could be done with a QB with passing skills, and that combined with that being the direction the world was moving anyway, convinced Bo's successors to go find strong-armed QBs.  Thus, Grbac, Navarre, Henne, etc.  Bo's offense would've had little use for John Navarre; RR would never have recruited him.

Space Coyote

July 15th, 2015 at 1:32 PM ^

Starting late in Bo's career, Michigan basically followed what the pros were doing. Moeller brought a heavy emphasis on a pro passing game. Carr essentially used what was the hot offense at the time in the NFL, even when he eventually switched to zone blocking schemes.

Rich Rod's offense had some similarities to Bo's, but while it was similar in some ways, it would be  disingenuous to indicate that Rich Rod's offense wasn't very different in other ways. Rich Rod disliked TEs until Oklahoma showed you could used them in a spread offense. Rich Rod used RBs and QBs to attack the edge similar to Bo, and FBs as interior run threats, but he didn't really believe in Iso, and his philosophy was completely different (Rich Rod would take a few plays for losses if it meant a 20+ yard run on the third try; Bo would kill someone if they didn't get positive yards 10 plays in a row).

I know people hate when critics bring up finesse with Rich Rod's offense, and talk about basketball on grass, but it is more of a finesse offense; it's fine to admit that. It requires a better athlete on the OL because it's more about getting to a spot than it is about dictating the opponent and dominating them with power and execution. That's where they differed greatly from Bo, and Mo, and Lloyd. Those guys put a huge emphasis on owning the LOS, not just doing enough to let athletes make plays. It's a difference in philosophy that each have their strengths and weaknesses, but it is certain a very different philosophy and is a bit disingenuous to say otherwise.

Space Coyote

July 15th, 2015 at 4:52 PM ^

It certainly has some physical elements, they run some inside zone and such, but the whole philosophy is not physical, it just isn't.

The base run concept is outside zone, and more than pro-style teams, the goal is actually to bounce the run; from an OL perspective that means reaching the block and cutting off the defense - horizontal spacing - not driving people off the ball and getting vertical displacement. WRs block well (so did Carr's for the most part) to help spring runs, but that's more about effort than being physical; bubble screens and options are about playing in space and using athleticism and playing away from the defense, rather than moving the defense and dictating what the defense does. The offense adjusts to what the defense does, attacks where it isn't, runs away from it with options and reads. Those aren't bad things, but they aren't physical. I don't believe there should be a negative connotation to the base offense not being physical, as long as you can be physical when it demands it.

But Rich Rod's offense was not physical in the same way other Michigan offenses were designed to be. It was the scheme and the philosophy of him as a coach, and that's fine. And yes, the offense has evolved, but it's still the same at heart. Rich Rod's offensive scheme is very little like Meyer's, despite both being "spread". That's just the reality of it. Different philosophies.


July 15th, 2015 at 11:44 AM ^

Brian wrote: "I like simple. That might be a bit too simple even for me. It gives off too much of a generic vibe."

Except for the helmet.  That's the X-factor in the uniform.  We can carry off a generic vibe in the jersey and pants because of the helmet. 

There's a reason it's considered the most iconic helmet in college football.  Because it is.

matty blue

July 15th, 2015 at 11:48 AM ^

...until i read the (apparently unironic) phrase "clever person in the league office," at which point the entire piece lost every shred of credibility.


July 15th, 2015 at 11:49 AM ^

Because our helmets have wings on em.  Anything that detracts or distracts from the iconic thing (our helmets) is bad.  The maize piping is a subtle enough addition that I like (to the all white) but I agree with Brian - less is more when it comes to Michigan football uniforms.


July 15th, 2015 at 11:55 AM ^

The plain all white road jerseys are classic and best.  The helmet says who we are and there is no mistaking it.  No piping and especially no stripes or anything else on the sleeves or shoulders.  I'd even take the players names off the back although I know that's a non-starter.  

Space Coyote

July 15th, 2015 at 12:42 PM ^

Though the offense, from my recollection, went through some minor changes in backfield formations and what-not.

The defense was a 3-4, though he called it a 5-2.

Bo was first and foremost was all about line play. He played OT, and took after Woody's minimalist approach to offense (run few things, execute them perfectly); in contrast with his first coach at Miami, Sid Gilman (a man often credited with creating the West Coast Offense). But he also loved DL play, and loved talking about pad level.

This is why he liked "grubbers" (the small NG described above) to play inside and just cause havoc. As an offensive player, you couldn't get lower than them, you couldn't move them. If they got doubled they fell to their knees and created a pile. It was 3-yards and a cloud of dust because the LOS was just a pile of bodies. Have a gap (angle or slant), fire low and hard and be as disruptive as possible. Occupy the OL, let the LBs flow forward and add to the pile of bodies, and no one has anywhere to go. The DEs (OLBs in todays 3-4) force everything to stay inside and typically had pitch responsibility agains the option.

You had fun positions names like Nose Guard (played over the center). Tackles (played inside the tackles; Fox tackle and Chase tackle) on the DL. You had Fox (OLB away from Wolf), and Rover (OLB to Wolf), and Zip (ILB to Wolf), and Wolf (Safety to passing strength), and Chase (opposite safety).

It was heavy on slants/angles and different run blitzes. It's because of that it was heavy on Cover 0 and Cover 1. But they pretty much had every coverage in their playbook toward the end of his career. They had a Cover 3 ("Solid Coverage") and Cover 2 ("Tough Coverage"); they played some inverted Cover 2 (CBs play deep half) and some Man Under ("Jump Coverage"). They even ran some Cover 6 which they called "Screw". They did have a 5 coverage (3 deep, 2 under) that they used behind their blitz in passing situations. But those were all secondary to the focus of the defense, which again, was run blitzes from a variety of defensive alignments from the same front with Cover 0 or Cover 1 behind it. Zone was soft, and Bo didn't like soft.


July 15th, 2015 at 2:24 PM ^

This is great stuff. Another thing about Bo that the original post flicks at is the lack of preoccupation with the NFL approach. He did what worked for him.

Although Bo evolved some (he did recruit Grbac), through the end U-M was still running some wishbone with Michael Taylor, who was a fine, heady player but nobody's idea of an NFL QB.

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July 15th, 2015 at 6:10 PM ^

Maybe this isn't what you're referring to, but I can still remember very clearly listening to former UM QB Tom Slade—as the color guy to Tom Hemingway on WUOM—bitterly complaining more than once about the extremely deep drops that our LBs would typically take on passing downs, which enabled an opposing QB to throw underneath to RBs and TEs all day long. The game I particularly remember is the '82 home game against UCLA, when those deep drops by the LBs and DBs enabled Tom Ramsey to pick us apart late in the game and eventually to a come-from-behind win for the Bruins, and Slade was beside himself. Frankly, so were a lot of Michigan fans at the time.

UCLA wasn't the only team to take advantage of Michigan's soft coverage; Stanford in the '72 Rose Bowl also used a short passing game underneath to great advantage.


July 15th, 2015 at 12:55 PM ^

I don't have the history Craig has (I didn't start going to games regularly 'til later in Bo's career), but basically agree with hthat is observations with the exception that I am not sure I agree that Steve Smith was better passer than Rick Leach (Leach definitely had a strong arm).  Also, it would be interesting to hear Moeller and others involved talk about how they convinced Bo to go pro-style in the early 1980s.  I can't remember very many other coaches switching philosophies mid-career.

On defense, I know that Bo's zone coverage usually worked but it seemed the handful of times a season we faced very accurate QBs (or sort of accurate QBs having good days) we got picked apart.  I always feeling like we didn't defend the 2-minute drill well in those days.

On uniformz, I can't say i'm a big fan of the Sugar Bowl stripes, and would rather go with something more traditional involving maize on the sleeves.


July 15th, 2015 at 1:42 PM ^

Steve Smith had the luxury of throwing to Anthony Carter for 2 of his 3 years as a starter. Still, his stats are this...

2,015 rushing yards --- 31 rushing TD's --- 4,860 passing yards --- 42 passing TD's --- 32 interceptions.

If you take away the ungodly amount of rushing yards, Smith's numbers are comparable to Denard Robinson. Although Denard was beloved and Smith was, at times, booed by the student section.

It's hard to compare the passing of Smith to Leach. Leach started passing more in his junior and senior years but he still ran the option about 80% of the time.

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July 15th, 2015 at 7:55 PM ^

True, but that's not the entire picture. BJ Dickey was the backup to Leach in '77 and '78, and then got the start at the beginning of the '79 season, Carter's first. Dickey was primarily an option QB, and was a stronger runner and pitch man than he was a thrower.

Schembechler alternated Dickey and Wangler during the first part of the season, and the prevailing opinion up in the stands was that Wangs was so much more effective in getting the ball to Carter that some irreverent student fans started chanting, "Take out the Dick, put in the Wang" when Dickey was in the game. I felt sort of bad for him since he was finally getting the opportunity to be the man after being Leach's understudy, but it was pretty clear the offense had a spark when Wangler was behind center that it didn't when Dickey was in there. It definitely had to do with the fact that Carter was such an obvious force that it was crazy not to get him the ball as often as possible.

Dickey didn't play much in the famous Indiana game, and saw no action for the remainder of the season until Wangler got cheap-shotted by Lawrence Taylor in the Gator Bowl and BJ had to finish up.

BJ saw no game action in 1980 but appeared in several games in '81, which leads me to guess he was injured for the '80 campaign.

WNY in Savannah

July 15th, 2015 at 1:53 PM ^

You beat me to it--I just logged in to post the same idea.  Was Smith "better" than Leach or was it just that he had Anthony Carter?  Very hard to say, especially after all this time.  Jim Smith was solid, and Leach had him for his (Leach's) first two years, but Carter was special.  It seemed to me that Carter transformed the way Bo would handle passing.  Carter was like "a new toy" that Bo could play with in the offense when he had never had that before.

I suppose the "coach-type" people on here can watch old film and decide who was the better passer.  But it seemed to me back then that things were very different when Carter showed up and that would certainly affect the passing results of Smith (and Wangler).

Either way, I have never understood why Steve Smith was occasionally booed.  Maybe my memory is just fading.


July 15th, 2015 at 12:58 PM ^

No piping, borders, stripes, or words not directly related to the university (adidas). Block M on the hip is ok. I don't think one is necessary in the back.


July 15th, 2015 at 12:58 PM ^

They won't be quite as simple as the practice ones, because despite all the talk about how the Helmet and Pants make them look like Michigan jerseys, the fans who buy them won't have the helmet and pants on (unless we've got some full kit wankers). My guess is there will at least be maize number outlines.


July 15th, 2015 at 1:38 PM ^

I have enjoyed the breakdown of Bo's schemes (and the comparisons to Lloyd's, RR, etc). As a Wolverine of a certain age I can recall the incredible, unexpected thrill of beating osu in '69 & the heartbreak of the pre-Rose Bowl heart attack.

The FGs that won or lost some early 70s osu games, when those would be our only losses of the season (and of course the Big 10 allowed only one Bowl team then).

And I've never recovered from my bitterness as a 13 year-old when they voted to send osu to the Rose Bowl following the tie in '73!

There was nowhere near the level of analysis of FB strategy then, certainly nothing like Mgoblog, but even the color man on televised games was more Keith Jackson then Jon Gruden. So, similarly to how people recall pre-internet knowledge of recruiting, watching Michigan games then was a bit of a mystery, at least to most people I knew.

Why did our schemes seem so overpowering to virtually every team but osu, who we played to a standstill during the 10 Year War, but sadly insufficient once we got to the Rose Bowl? I'd still appreciate a UFR style review of Bo's evolution from the Dennis Franklin years to the Harbaugh years. And how in the Hell did he get AC to come up from Florida to play for a team that barely threw the ball before he joined the team?!

And regarding the road white jersey - the one Jabrill's wearing in the pic is TOO Penn State... it needs "something." I've always liked the stripes on the sleeves circa Harbaugh era, but no one wears sleeves anymore. But stripes that are more vertical than the Sugar Bowl uni - kind of 45° I guess, where those were 90°. Kinda UCLA-ish maybe?


July 15th, 2015 at 2:32 PM ^

One other thing about Bo the strategist: There's a fascinating video on YouTube (assume it's Wolverine Historian) in which Bo talks strategy with Paterno before one of the mid-90s games. In it, Bo essentially predicts the sport's return to option-style principles.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

Evil Empire

July 15th, 2015 at 3:05 PM ^

Block Ms on the shoulders, a mix of maize and blue ribbing at the collars and sleeves, blue numbers edged in yellow. 

I like the all-white practice jerseys too, but something at the shoulders/sleeves to mark it as Michigan will probably be unavoidable.  If Nike wants to sell jerseys to make back their investment, they will have to be identifiable without the maize pants and winged helmet.

Wolverine 73

July 15th, 2015 at 3:25 PM ^

Not everyone liked them.  They only looked "good" in relation to the many abominations we had seen.  Tolerable, yes; good, no.  At least in my opinion.


July 15th, 2015 at 4:21 PM ^

The Big Ten logo bothers me more than any design or picture that has appeared on our uniforms in the recent past. It's a really MAC-ish thing to do and detracts from what should be one of the simplest jerseys in sports. I wonder if M could get away with having the logo on the pants instead?