Unverified Voracity Cusses Em Out Comment Count

Brian August 5th, 2016 at 12:19 PM


[Eric Upchurch]

One of these coordinators is not like the other. A few days ago Athlon talked about Don Brown in one of those anonymous coach quote articles:

“BC’s defense last year was the biggest pain for us to prepare for because they did so many things, especially on third down. The fronts they lined up in, the pressures they came with were unique, and they had some big, physical players. They were legit.”

Yesterday was the Big Ten's turn and DJ Durkin came up in the Michigan section:

They were pretty bland from a defensive standpoint. They’ll be very different schematically than with [D.J.] Durkin, but Don Brown is really good at what he does. Brown does a bunch of different things, but they wouldn’t let you throw posts last year in a league where people have thrown posts for 25 or 30 years, and I don’t think that will change.”

Durkin persisted in the no-posts D even when the opposition wasn't inclined to throw them and was very good at other things; my issue with the late slide last year was that Michigan didn't have a backup plan when one-high man free wasn't working. Brown will run a lot of the same stuff Durkin does. He likes man coverage, he runs a bunch of plays with one high safety. But he also runs a ton of cover two. That'll give Michigan a larger base from which to pick and choose when they get yo-yoed from an Iowa offense to OSU or Indiana.

As we talked about a bit in yesterday's mailbag, there are costs involved with the added complexity. There does appear to be an adjustment period for Brown—his year one defenses didn't improve much from their baselines. The hope is that those costs are borne against teams that don't football good and that Michigan's defense can reach a level above where they were last year by the time the MSU/Iowa/OSU road games come along.

The rest of that article will not surprise. Greg Mattison and Jourdan Lewis are good; Harbaugh is intense:

“They were a good team last year, but what they really did well is they played really hard and had a lot of pride. There’s a little (bit) of coach speak in that, but when you watched them on the field, how they lined up and communicated and the intensity they had on the sideline, it was really impressive.”

Maybe don't put the coachspeak bit in your noncoachspeak article, but there is a point in there about sideline organization.

I have good news for whichever coach said this about MSU:

“Offensively they’ll be fine. Connor Cook was good, but those receivers — they were unbelievable. They made contested catch after contested catch and attacked the football.”

The only WR with more than seven catches who returns is RJ Shelton, who is not Aaron Burbridge.

And this just emphasizes how bizarre the Mike Riley hire was:

“It’s not really a rebuild, it’s more of a teardown. They’re playing one style with players who were recruited for a totally different offense, so it’s just how many steps backward they have to take before they go forward.”

Riley is 63. If they even manage to make this transition he'll be done the moment it is. Yeah, maybe I am bitter because versions of Nebraska that don't rely on a running quarterback feel weird and wrong to me. But, I mean, cumong man.

Baylor again. Events in Waco continue to verge on the unbelievable:

Baylor offensive lineman Rami Hammad -- arrested on felony stalking charges Monday -- was accused last fall of sexually assaulting a student and violating a university-issued no-contact order after confronting the woman, Outside the Lines has learned.

Hammad is facing felony stalking charges after his former girlfriend reported several instances from March to July in which he tracked her down, harassed her and twice physically assaulted her, including once at Baylor's athletic facilities on campus.

Much of this occurred after Art Briles's firing and Ken Starr's resignation; if Baylor was ever going to take this stuff seriously it would be in the immediate aftermath of a huge public scandal. Survey says "nope." It took a literal felony arrest for a suspension to occur here.

Speaking of Baylor. Outgoing Cofopoff committee members explicitly state that Ohio State's epic beatdown of Wisconsin was the deciding factor when it came time to choose between OSU, TCU and Baylor in 2015:

Mike Tranghese: Without question, yes. That was the debate for the last five weeks of the year. We probably spent more time just discussing Baylor and TCU but then in the end, Ohio State just played very well at the end, and the way they dominated Wisconsin in the end, the championship game really took the pressure of making that decision out of our hands.

Osborne: That was a difficult one. I think the thing that was, as was mentioned many times, when you have a team that plays that 13th game against a supposedly good opponent and you win 59-0, decisively, then not having that championship game certainly was a factor to be considered. No question TCU and Baylor were really good teams and it was close, but it's hard to turn your back on somebody that wins their conference championship by 59-0.

If Michigan should be so fortunate to be in a position to run up the score in Jim Harbaugh's tenure, any questions about that approach should be fielded with a link to this article. Harbaugh should literally say "www dot espn dot com slash college dash football slash story slash underscore slash id slash one seven one seven two six one nine slash college dash football dash playoff dash committee dash members dash takeaways dash their dash first dash two dash years" if challenged.

Remember the name. Walk-on OL Andrew Vastardis has been repeatedly mentioned by Steve Lorenz as a guy to keep an eye on as a potential contributor down the road. He's certainly got the size; here he's standing next to Ben Bredeson:

That is a large gentleman.

Football coaches, man. Tom Herman on specific cultural reasons why going for it on fourth down is frowned upon by football coaches:

"You'd be surprised how many staffs I've been on or seen where the head coach will tell the offensive coordinator to go for it on fourth and 4 or from the 11, and they don't get it," Herman said, "and the defensive coordinator's over there mother-fuckin' em or cussin' 'em out."

I am a Big Ten football fan. I would not be surprised, sir. Not surprised at all.

Etc.: ESPN ranks Jabrill Peppers the #9 player in CFB and Jourdan Lewis #19. Jake Butt is #54. Lewis, Peppers, and Butt are 6, 7, and 9 in the Big Ten per ESPN. No Michigan DL make it because this is a journalist's list that's counting numbers or bust.  Croots like Jordan. Beilein recruits like a Werther's Orginal: slow and sweet.



August 5th, 2016 at 12:34 PM ^

That ESPN Top 100 players list has Bo Scarbrough at #50(!), all 18 career rushes for 104  yards and 1 TD of him.

Lazy m-fers going with "Who is the next Bama RB? Maybe this one?"


August 5th, 2016 at 12:49 PM ^

the MSU game from last year again (yes, it hurts very badly), it became even more ridiculous how many times Cook put the ball on the one square foot that was available.  He is intolerable, but I have to concede that was a very impressive performance.  It seemed like State got 11 yards on 3rd and 10 about 100 times, and not one of them was due to poor or lacking coverage.  Burbridge was very good, but that was more of a collection of "you cannot be serious" throws from Cook.

Blue Sharpie

August 5th, 2016 at 12:54 PM ^

Looked up his profile on 24/7 and although his offer sheet is not impressive, he did have an offer from Northwestern. Would like to know why he turned that offer down and decided to walk on instead. 3rd photo in the article looks like he has an itch to scratch!! Must be a very good student based on his list of interested schools. He is one big dude at 310 lbs, hopefully he is a good athlete too! Trust in Drevno!


August 5th, 2016 at 6:22 PM ^

A strong walk-on program is important to maintaining consistent depth throughout the roster and can be that little extra needed that pushes you from very good to the very best. These guys may not often get a ton of playing time but the increased competency from the scout teams and competition from below is huge.

Cranky Dave

August 5th, 2016 at 12:52 PM ^

we had gotten Don Brown last year, year two in his system with these players and the defense would likely be tops in the country.  Might still do that actually


August 5th, 2016 at 1:06 PM ^

Brown has historically inherited meh to disaster defenses, so I'm guessing he had his work cut out for him.  It's not just the physical talent; it's also about institutional knowledge and culture.  But based on the Spring Game it looks like this program is already Harbaughized, so Brown could just get right to work.


August 5th, 2016 at 1:00 PM ^

I wonder if you won't see more consistency (relative to opponent-adjusted expectations) throughout the season for Brown as the team deals with a learning curve early in the year. I think we would all take a couple less shutouts than last year if it means we avoid the late season swoon.

Part of Durkin's success, especially early in the season, could have been because he kept things simple. With Brown running a complicated scheme, it could take longer to get. The year 1 treading water thing would be mostly fine for Michigan given the top 10 defense - as long as there is improvement late in the season.

Both coaches have/had the benefit of talent, experience, and some coaching continuity (e.g., Mattison).  Brown should have more of each though, plus an easier early season schedule.

I do think it's reasonable to worry about the MSU game. The transition effect could still linger for an untested team in it's first real road game, against it's first real opponent. (That does depend on how the wisc and psu games go though.

I'm a little less certain that the transition is a non-issue than Brian, not because I think less of Brown, but because I think Durkin did an excellent job here overall. Although the strategy failed late in the year, the philosophy behind sticking with what got you through the struggles against Minnesota/Indiana/Ohio State seems valid, particularly with a depleted DL.

El Jeffe

August 5th, 2016 at 1:03 PM ^

I don't get why DCs would be upset in the scenario Herman presents. Unless I'm missing something, here are probably 95% of the possible outcomes (i.e., not accounting for a blocked FG or fumble/INT and return for TD or something):

FG attempt

  • Make: 3 points and start defending on the 25-30
  • Miss: 0 points and start defending on the 20

Go for it

  • Make: 7 points and start defending on the 25-30 or
  • Miss: 0 points and start defending on the 8-11

Seems like the answer is pretty obvious. I'm sure the EV of a kick vs. going for it skews the decision a bit, but probably not that much.


August 5th, 2016 at 1:31 PM ^

Herman mentioned that to show his DC was on board.  That doesn't mean DCs that aren't on board are OK with it.

As far as defense goes, field position doesn't change what you have to do, a big-play TD is a TD whether the guy goes 65 yards or 80, and offenses can pressure secondaries by stretching the field vertically.  Besides, you play defense to shut the other guy down, not go, "Aw, we gotta defend an extra 15 yards."  I mean, I've never been on an FBS squad but I can't imagine they're less hyped to rise to a challenge.  If you're scared of what the offense might do in any situation, you don't have the personality to play defense.

But defenses are very keen on the score they're defending.  They're happy to give the offense the ball, that's what they want to do, but they expect the offense to take that chance responsibly.  If you're down 20-10 and they go for it on 4th down and fail, you have to make one additional stop when it could've been a one-score game.  Not that this rationale is borne out by analysis, but emotionally, it feels like you've done your job and the offense is squandering the effort.  The offense's job is to score.  The OC can argue that the odds favor going for it, but the DC's complaint is that the defense bears all the risk of that gamble.


August 5th, 2016 at 2:08 PM ^

If you read it again, he's speaking of when "the head coach will tell the offensive coordinator to go for it on fourth and 4 or from the 11, and they don't get it."

He's talking about the DC being mad after the turnover on downs happens.

Also, I believe he's describing two separate scenarios - 4th and 4 (at an unspecified part of the field),  and 4th down from the 11.  Presumably the 4th and 4 is happening somewhere outside of field goal range, since almost everyone would kick the FG if they're within range at that point.




August 5th, 2016 at 1:01 PM ^

“They were just not a very good football team last year, and I don’t see how they’re going to be good this year"

-probably Jim Harbaugh


August 5th, 2016 at 1:11 PM ^

This column got me thinking about those 3 tough road games in relatively close succession.  Do you think one silver lining to this is that by the third tough road game, the effect of being the road team in a loud/hostile environment is mitigated by experience somewhat?

I mean, when was the last time we had away games at MSU and OSU in the same season, not to mention with a tough Iowa away game inbetween all in the span of 5 weeks?  Maybe this scheduling nuance will make the OSU away game a smidge less daunting?


August 5th, 2016 at 1:53 PM ^

To Harbaugh it won't be a silver lining so much as the main course.

I'm aware that road games are harder to win, but I've never bought into it myself.  I think coaches psyche their players into a "road game" mentality, try to manage things like crowd noise and fatigue, and the players buy into the idea that they have a disadvantage they need to overcome.  Hoke very much tried to prepare his players for road games by changing his practices to include things like crowd noise (playing movies very loudly in the background during practices for example) and messing around with a stupid tent stake.  The results indicate all that prep wasn't very successful.

Harbaugh took a formerly 1-11 Stanford squad and upset #1/#2 USC on the road.  Emotionally, "road game" means NOTHING to him, and he WANTS to battle the best.  He's not an idiot so I'd expect he'd take things like crowd noise into account when organizing communcation, but it'd be built into the program itself -- such as Tavita Pritchard calling his own plays in the huddle because he couldn't hear the sideline.  That the UM program gave Notre Dame another home game with basically zero resistance is, I think, a sign of just how little Harbaugh is concerned with where the game takes place.

The wack schedule is more a problem to fans.  Every other season you don't get any rival home games at all.


August 5th, 2016 at 3:36 PM ^

I kind of agree. But stuff like noise during the snap is going to happen and you should prepare your team for it. Telling your players "it's gonna be a tough place to play! You better be ready bc the fans are gonna be going nuts!" Doesnt really need to be said. Preparation is everything and having your players act like pros will mitigate issues I hope. Treating an away game like a big disadvantage is terrible and I agree with you on that point for sure.


August 5th, 2016 at 1:50 PM ^

No one will make excuses for this defense. Either they will learn it and will be better off for it, or the staff will realize that too much is on the plate and scale it back. Harbaugh always wants to win and he will not jeopardize wins this year to get Brown's D on track to take off next year.