Unverified Voracity Asks For A Shovel

Submitted by Brian on March 2nd, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Fab Five. Wolverine Historian continues to feature Fab Five games that officially may not exist anymore:

The inside scoop. Seth Davis did one of those ask-coaches-off-the-record articles that always feature a mix of insight and bitchiness and make for quality reading. The take on Michigan (emphasis mine):

Michigan: The Wolverines are dangerous because they shoot the ball so well and stay within their sets, but they can also lay an egg because they rely so much on threes. You almost have to play small with them because they force you to. If you have a big man, it's hard to guard them because everybody will step out and score. I don't think Tim Hardaway Jr. is a tough kid. He just wants to shoot jumpers. If you have a dominant person inside, you can go right at them because they're not real big. Hardaway has not had the kind of year we were all expecting, but he has an uncanny ability to make threes late even when he's not shooting well. Trey Burke is the best guard in our league, and Jordan Morgan is much better offensively than he was last year. They don't scare you defensively. They'll get after you and compete, but you can run your stuff and score on them.

The section on Ohio State also mentions that they're "probably kicking themselves a little for not taking Trey Burke," and the Wisconsin bit is all about how terrible and awful and disrespectful they are.

Maybe this whole standards thing isn't a huge deal. Remember when some guy said that unconfirmed thing about Brandon saying that Michigan wasn't going to compete with the SEC for things and stuff and would have standard like things and everyone was all like boo boo boo we want to recruit Manninghams even if they like smoking pot, like, forever and ever?

Yeah, that was in the long long ago when Michigan was striking out late in the 2012 class and hadn't secured a top five 2013 class like two weeks into that recruiting cycle. But, like, you know who we lost out to for a couple important guys? Stanford. This Stanford:

Haskins points out that just because a guy plays football doesn't necessarily mean he's physically tough. From a mental side, Shaw maintains the Cardinal's rigorous academic requirements forces the program to get determined people. "To be honest, it's built in for us," he says. "We can look [at] the physical toughness when you watch a kid play, but we're also finding out about that stick-to-it-iveness when we're asking them to re-take tests, take AP courses and make tough decisions to try and get admitted here. That shows dedication, toughness and perseverance."

That's from a long Bruce Feldman piece on Stanford's ridiculous-not-just-for-Stanford recruiting. The Cardinal is proving that you can avoid the flakes and still bring in monster classes. Michigan seems to be doing the same, and as long as Notre Dame isn't swooping in on the guys they want they seem like they'll be able to maintain that over the long haul.

First one, then the other. I've been pining for Urban Meyer's shovel option for a while now. You know, this thing:

It seems like a natural fit for Michigan for multiple reasons: it's just power blocking, which Hoke loves. It forces the defensive end to either cheat down on the pitch or potentially let Denard outside. If Denard makes a bad decision the potential for disaster is low—either he is running around for a small loss (or gain!) because he kept or he's throwing an incomplete pass. The main issue is finding a tight end who can run it, but if Michigan's throwing Hopkins on the field as an H-back sort he's got the chops to make that a viable option.

Once you've got that in the book, you could add bells and whistles like a quick cover-two beater on the edge to give that corner a problem he can't fix:


Michigan did run some run-plus-short-pass concepts like this last year…

…so this might be something to keep an eye on as Borges tries to get the most use out of Denard's legs in year two. Borges loves to add new stuff on the regular; it's 50-50 we see something like the above in 2012.

Speaking of Borges. He talks with Howard Griffith:

Money quote: "I don't want to have an offense with a name" because then people start running clinics on how to defend it.

Unintended consequences. The NCAA's recent adjustment of kickoff rules smacks of a public relations effort to assure people concerned about concussions that football is also concerned. The net impact of slightly changing 2% of a football game is going to be statistically zero when it comes to long term health outcomes, but it says to the world that the NCAA is Doing Something, so it passes.

It won't do much. It might not do anything since the NCAA made a change that seems counterproductive to its goals: it's changed kickoff touchbacks to the 25. This is supposed to encourage returners to take a knee. Instead it may encourage kicking teams to not put it in the endzone.

Florida State has one of the best kickoff specialists in the country, Dustin Hopkins. Last year his 29 touchbacks were a victory. This year some back of the envelope calculations by Tomahawk Nation suggest the Seminoles' optimal strategy on kickoffs from the 35 will be this:

LET'S RECAP - If FSU does indeed ask Hopkins to kick it just a little higher and a little shorter, we can realistically expect him to average the ball around the 2-3 yard line with a hangtime of around 4.6 seconds. This is enough time that the majority of the coverage team will be inside the 25 yard line, with the faster players being somewhere around the 20. One can expect first contact to be made somewhere inside the 15 yard line on average. If the return man dances or does not immediately run full speed after the catch, it could be even worse. It may be a common occurrence for many returns to fail to exceed the 10 yard line. That is epic.

85% of TN readers think that's the way to go. The NCAA probably just made kicking for a touchback a mistake. There's a good chance these new rules go the way of the Hated Clock Rules from about five years back.

Two options: idiot or fabulist. Good lord, Phil Birnbaum points out that the Berri study-type substance on NFL quarterback draft positions…

  1. Uses a regression to determine "expected" draft position instead of using, you know, draft position.
  2. Their regression on expected performance does show a correlation between draft position and performance, but it's not statistically significant, so they use that to say "there is no relationship between draft position and performance."
  3. Tom Brady alone accounts for 14% of the plays from quarterbacks drafted from 150-250.

David Berri is the worst statistician on the planet.

BONUS OHIO STATE SCHOLARSHIP SIGN UPDATE! With Jordan Whiting's transfer to Louisville the only scholarship business major on the team is a kicker.

Etc.: Another rat is poised to jump off Dooley's sinking ship. He's their recruiting coordinator and would be the seventh assistant to leave this offseason if he takes an equivalent position at Nebraska. Michigan NFL combine recap. Molk says things, people take offense, Molk seethes, repeat.



March 2nd, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

Isn't David Berri the greatest statistician on the planet? Anyone can use data to say the truth, it takes a master to use data to say whatever the hell you want it to say.*

*source - Lies, damn lies and statistics


March 2nd, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

I think it's useless or worse, but the authors do say that there is a relationship that is "quite weak" between draft position and per play performance instead of "no relationship" between the two...unless I missed the "no relationship" and they somehow say both.   See page 48, first paragraph of Sec. 7 for what I'm talking about.


March 2nd, 2012 at 3:10 PM ^

I really don't see how the Stanford situation relates to any other school.  They are far and away the best school academically that plays D-1 football (assuming Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Chicago don't make a comeback any time soon).  They are in an extremely desirable location geographically (unlike say, Durham or rural Indiana).  They also don't have a religious component to the curriculum/community that could potentially drive away non-believers. 

Combine that with a BCS bowl win in the last two decades and the #1 pick in the upcoming draft (not to mention Heisman finalists each of the last three years) and it is no wonder that they are doing well in recruiting.  For anyone who has a shot at meeting their academic requirements (not sure exactly how strenuous they are, but presumably above the NCAA minimum qualifications), they are naturally going to vault to the top of the list the second you take football out of the equation.  When the football is also clearly doing well, they are going to get a lot of top kids from all over the country, just like they do in just about every other sport imaginable.


March 2nd, 2012 at 4:21 PM ^

I know this might have absolutely zero to do with football recruiting, but I was teammates with an All-American XC/miler in high school (he was class of 2007) who was being recruited by Stanford. Everybody else (and this includes M and ND, among others) had him assured he was in with his GPA, assuming he spelled his name correctly on the ACT, while Stanford told him he wouldn't qualify if he scored anything less than a 30.

I don't want to put the GPA numbers I've heard onto the internet, but he probably could have gotten into Illinois in-state without being a recruited athlete, so those were pretty strict requirements, even for somebody that would have headlined their XC/track class.

Space Coyote

March 2nd, 2012 at 3:17 PM ^

While the shovel option is a great play, I don't think we will see it out of Michigan next season.  Denard hasn't shown the best decision making when it comes to the option (ie, he basically just keeps it every time on the speed option and still makes some questionable reads on the zone read), and I'm guessing there are other things they want to work on more as they work closer to a 50/50 split under center and away from the spread look.

Yinka Double Dare

March 2nd, 2012 at 3:20 PM ^

The SI anonymous coaches article has some gems.  The first half of the Wisconsin one is a "tell us how you really feel" one.  And "UConn literally doesn't run a frickin offense" is pretty great too.


March 2nd, 2012 at 3:32 PM ^

At about 6:55ish in the video, Jackson alley-oops a pass off the backboard to Webber.  Two PSU dudes sitting courtside literally fall to their knees. 


March 2nd, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

I feel for any Michigan fan who was either too young to follow basketball or not still a kid, more-or-less, when the Fab 5 played.  The fall-out was terrible and not worth it, but they were fun - unwise, drink a big smoothie and then get on a roller coaster fun - in a way that I think you almost have to be 10-18 to appreciate. 


March 2nd, 2012 at 3:48 PM ^

I'm not sure teams will be smart enough to avoid touchbacks. I always hate when there's a penalty (especially 15 yard variety) on a score and the team gets to kickoff from the 45. What do they do??? Boom in through the uprights. If they don't do it there, what makes anyone think they'll do it from the 35? The one argument might be that it's always the case so they can practice it more than the rare 45 yard line kickoff.

MI Expat NY

March 2nd, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

I think it's a little different when a kicker might kick off from there once every six games and when the kicker is teeing up at the same spot on every single kickoff.  They have 20 hours a week to perfect it, and I think more teams will be willing to tryl.


March 2nd, 2012 at 4:38 PM ^

This does raise the interesting point that now, after one of those penalties, there's almost no reason not to onside kick unless the game situation absolutely rules it out. You'd be kicking off from the 50. Touchback at the 25. Kick has to travel 10 yards, so even if the opponent recovers, you're looking at a 15 yard field position difference vs. a chance to have the ball, following a score, on the opponent's 40.


March 2nd, 2012 at 5:47 PM ^

With OSO disappearing another player, does anyone have an idea of how many commits they'll be expected to take next year?  

It seems like we're going to have a beast class no matter what happens in Ohio, but I recall last year (before the wrist was slapped) that they were supposed to have a really small class...which would help us recruit Ohio players that OSU couldn't fit, etc.  So, given that they took a large class this year and are scholly limited both years - what might they take for 2013?


March 2nd, 2012 at 6:29 PM ^

Cmon Brian you are smarter than that. All regressions show correlations; it is BAD statistics to draw a conclusion "x affects y" if it is not statistically significant.

The dependent variable issue is another matter but Berri's right not to draw a conclusion in this case as a weak correlation might appear by chance


March 2nd, 2012 at 10:36 PM ^

I wonder what the coaching staff tells a guy like O'Daniel, who is a stud and high on Michigan, but who might not have a spot by the time he visits.  If I was him and I followed recruiting I would not wait til the spring game to visit.  At the rate Hoke is going, I feel like he could play Urban's game of only recruiting the top 100 and do just fine.

Also, hypothetically, if Su'a were to commit to us (cue Su'a Cravens is NOT coming posts), how would we get he and Dymonte on the field at the same time?  They would both need to be, if not in year one that at least for multiple years.  I ask because we're obviously still recruiting him and his comments about visiting have done nothing to reduce our chances with him.

EDIT- I always wondered how people put posts in the wrong thread.. now I know