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Brian October 14th, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Power pellets. Denard as envisioned by BHGP:


They also envision a Pacman board with no pellets and something like 20 Hawkeyes, but they are #4 in total defense so they may  be entitled to some cockiness. Also their version of Denard is gritty.

Trick or treat. Wolverine Historian has assembled a set of trick plays over the past 20 or so years:

I'm surprised that transcontinental worked as much as it did since Michigan ran it from the same goofy formation they never ran anything else from for 20 years.

The Demensing. It is apparently happening. Kenny Demens, who you could be forgiven for thinking had the first name "TheEnigmatic," is mere days away from actually playing:

"In the last game, we played quite a few in the secondary and a few guys up front, but we didn't rotate a lot of guys at linebacker, and that's something we have to look at this week."

Rodriguez said he expects to see Kenny Demens, J.B. Fitzgerald and Mark Moundros in the mix a bit more against the Hawkeyes.

"Particularly if they have a good week in practice," Rodriguez said. "Kenny Demens in particular has had some real good practices and has shown some pretty good things when he's had an opportunity out there. So it looks like they've warranted the opportunity to see what they can do in the game."

One of these two things will happen when Demens gets on the field:

  • he is obviously better than Ezeh and everyone wonders WTF is with the Michigan coaches' talent identification skills, or
  • he isn't obviously better and everyone wonders WTF is with the Michigan coaches' development skills.

I'll take option one, please. If Demens can come in and be person with clue at MLB Michigan might be able to bridge this gap between the currently devastated upperclass linebacking corps and the guys who will come in this year and next without resorting to true freshmen. A novel concept, yes.

FWIW, People have been talking up Demens's abilities in run defense and criticizing his coverage. I haven't seen much either way. The reports of excellent play in the spring game didn't come from me; even when I watched the tape I didn't see much good or bad from him.

In other bits from the RR teleconference, the chance that Odoms returns this year is "slim."

Basketball recruiting pointers. Alf goes here because Dom Pointer, a 6'5" 2011 wing who is Michigan's primary target to fill their last slot in the upcoming recruiting class, is coming in this weekend. He can dunk some. According to Sam Webb he's just dropped West Virginia, a rumored favorite, and will decide between Michigan and St. John's. His parents are in one corner:

"I really, really like the staff and the people of St. John's. I was really impressed with all of them, but they are not Michigan. Me and his mama — that's how we feel. But if he really feels that strongly about St. John's, I'm not going to kill him. I'm going to be mad at him, but I've got to stand next to him. The way he made the U-turn and changed his life, what can I say? Yeah, I'm a Michigan fan. I'm Michigan all day long, but if I got a kid that made a total U-turn with his whole life, I can't criticize him about making his choice if it's St. John's."

Webb's stopped short of offering up the gut feeling that indicates a silent commitment but Michigan is in a strong position here. With Trey Burke and Carlton Brundidge in the fold Michigan would have three consensus top 100 players if Pointer committed, with two of them brushing up against the top 50 in ESPN's rankings.

FWIW, ESPN was the service highest on Tim Hardaway, Jr., and that prediction looks like it will bear fruit as early as this year. Scuttlebutt from practice suggests he might be the team's best player, which is bad for this year but may be good down the road. This could be a good team in 2012. Yeah.

THIS MAN LIVES IN A HOUSE. What a country!

This person currently has a home. They may be borrowing it, or living with their parents, or squatting like Tyler Durden in Fight Club, but there is still something between him and rain. What recession? Srsly. Find me a recession after watching a guy sing

"You can get yourself drunk//you can tailgate//you can bring your daaaaate!"

on the internet. You can't anymore. Go America. Anywhere else, even Canada, and this guy would be used in a government-sponsored human beef jerky project.



Usual complaint about midline and lack thereof, backed by Smart Football highlight its effectiveness this weekend in the Purdue-Northwestern game, which Purdue won despite getting less than 50 yards passing from Rob Henry:

“We knew they were going to run the quarterback; how they were going to run him we had to adjust to,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “They changed up their scheme a little bit, and were reading our tackles as opposed to our defensive ends. There were times when we fit it very well, and there were times when we didn’t.”

It's not magic or anything but one of the things that Juice Williams murdered us on (other than everything) was the midline, and using it periodically should increase the effectiveness of the running game. If it can get Dayne Crist 20-yard gains what can Denard do with it?

The thing that makes me want to run it more than anything is that it prevents teams from doing what Michigan State did. They left a defensive end in contain all day, which should be a win for your offense but Michigan's tailbacks are not very dynamic. Our Helmets Have Wings notes that after the first three drives Michigan ran zone read plays twice(!). The game situation had something to do with that, but so did that Vincent Smith third and one stuff.

Here is an opportunity to eliminate a player with an option read and get Denard in space.

Etc.: Occasional MGoPunchingBag Gregg Easterbrook describes the Oregon offense and gets it almost entirely wrong. Basketball media day happened. Rothstein wanted a nap 30 seconds in.



October 14th, 2010 at 12:02 PM ^

I think Gregg Easterbrook heard "Yes, Gregg -- that's the correct answer!" too many times in his formative years.  He has complete confidence in his ability to understand football and myriad other topics.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:23 PM ^

"Good answer, Gregg!" at one of those schools where no answer is ever incorrect.

It's a shame, too, because from time to time, he has solid, coherent points that he makes very well. I just don't have the patience to wade through his columns each week to find out when he'll make one.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:27 PM ^

Brian - thanks for sharing the diagram; I agree with your comment from UFR about having something in the second half to mix it up and hopefully this is part of that package. Any reason you think RR hasn't employed it yet? Concerns about Denard's ability to read or issues with D lines that slant a lot? I could see a slant blow up this play if the tackle can't reach the end and Denard hesitates blows the read. If it's run toward Lewan there and they slant to the strength then he can crush the end into the tackle and let Smith/Shaw bounce it outside for a big gainer if the WLB flows strong over the top.. Interesting option to say the least.

His Dudeness

October 14th, 2010 at 12:30 PM ^

The "fake" injury is something this years team could definitely pull off.

The fact that the OSU Mascot Man guy lives in a (seemingly) nicer place than I do makes me feel like puking. Hopefully he is balding under the massive burden of his unpayable debts and future foreclosure.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:31 PM ^

I would be remiss if I didn't express my disappointment that a post that had a Michigan player on a Pac-Man board did not feature, well, noted Michigan fan (and possible Michigan alumnus) Mathman.

This post pretty much assures me that I'll end up calling Adrian Clayborn "the ill-tempered Mr. Glitch" at some point during Saturday's game.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:46 PM ^


That the blue ghosts are the ones Pac-Man eats.  So, if they want to play defense like that, and spend all day running away from Denard, be my guest.  Put on the ghost heads.

Though maybe they'll bring their cheerleaders out like this.   Brings whole new meaning to eating the blue ghost...


October 14th, 2010 at 12:41 PM ^

of trickery can be run against Illinois.  From the video 1 out of every 2 plays seemed to be run against the Illini.  Do you think a throwback to Denard would develop as slowly as the throwback to Navarre?  I love watching that play and the fact that Navarre scored is priceless.

Go Blue!

Laser Wolf

October 14th, 2010 at 12:43 PM ^

I still haven't decided if Fake Brutus (Frutus?) has a brilliant ironic sense of humor or a startling lack of self-awareness. Either way, instant classic.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

I can't decide what the hell "Frutus" is under that terrifying mascot head. Its either a flaming gay man, a lumberjack of a woman, one of those handicapped kids that people look at and say, "aww, just let him do what he wants. He's not hurting anyone..." or someone like every member of general Ohio trash I've ever met, that fell ass-backward into a camera and accidently turned it on, and this is what it caught.

I'm also working out a theory that possibly Brutus was born with a siamese twin with its face attached to his ass. After the separation surgery, this is that twin.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:47 PM ^

"FWIW, People have been talking up Demens's abilities in run defense and criticizing his coverage. I haven't seen much either way. The reports of excellent play in the spring game didn't come from me; even when I watched the tape I didn't see much good or bad from him."

With our defense, if he doesn't do "much bad" then he's good, right?


October 14th, 2010 at 1:39 PM ^

So according to reports here and The News, RR went to GERG and mentioned that he would like to see more guys at LB including Demens. How is that helpful to the defense? Despite what anyone thinks of GERG's abilities, do we really think they he is either A- so stubborn in his support of Ezeh or B- so lacking in talent evaluation ability, that guys that can play better than Ezeh are sitting on the bench? To me there's only one possible reason that they are not playing--because they don't play as well as Ezeh in practice. that likely means they don't play as well as Ezeh in games--so how does this help? Trust me, I'm DYING to see someone else other than Obi back there, so I get RR, but I don't want even worse LB play than we have now.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:50 PM ^

To me there's only one possible reason that they are not playing--because they don't play as well as Ezeh in practice. that likely means they don't play as well as Ezeh in games

I don't think this is necessarily a correct correlation to make. Ezeh could maintain gaps in practice and completely fail to do so at game time. Demens could bite on PA or be really bad in zone, but still be great against the run. If that's what he gives us at game time, then put him in and either put in a different guy on obvious passing downs or blitz him. To me, it makes more sense that Ezeh is a guy that practices well and fails on the field as opposed to every backup LB being that bad in practice.

Blue in Seattle

October 14th, 2010 at 2:34 PM ^

In general, everyone's disbelief containst the assumption that Demens at Uconn is the same as Demens at Iowa.  There has been 6 weeks of practicing added in for a freshman!  I believe he didn't start practicing until the summer campe, which means at UConn he had 4 weeks of time, now he has 10 weeks! More than double!  And I'm not talking the weight room, I'm talking about 6 more weeks of technique drills, film review, and general hanging out with other college LB's who've at least seen a D-1 offense even if they aren't excelling at executing against it.  Just go dig up the chart on QB change from Freshman to Sophomore to understand that we should expect dramatic improvement from the On the Job Training (OJT) program that Coach Rodriguez and GERG are running.

I mean seriously does any of us have anywhere near the coaching experience as our the Head Coach and DC? 

I agree with Brian that Option 1 is more likely, but it's because it's tempered with the fact that Demens Game 1 is a puny weakling mentality-wise compared to Demens Game 7

Of course none of this is supposed to happen this way, half of the team that is playing now should have been comfortably sheltered behind two years worth of Upper Classman.

Throw in the whole "weakest link" statement that GERG came out with in Summer Camp (or maybe Spring Practice?) and yes this defense is as bad as it's least experienced freshman, or amazingly untalented and untrainable upperclassman.  Unfortunately Ezeh is average, and thus can't do more than mostly achieve his assignment.  Clearly without a BG on the team we don't have any 2 and a Half Men as individual contributors.


Yard Dog

October 14th, 2010 at 12:58 PM ^

Does RR have a history of running trick plays?  It doesn't seem like he favors them, as it always seems like the opposition is the one running a trick play against us.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:41 PM ^

As they pointed out this morning on WTKA, some people are calling for more trick plays while others are saying our entire offense is made of trick plays. I suppose if you think that the definition of trick play is misdirection, the latter has a point. However, I think I could say the same thing about PA and Draws.

Anyway, I think that RR would like us to execute to perfection the plays that we have been practicing right now. After that we can install the midline, the pitches, triple options, and trick plays. If you start practicing new things too soon, then the base stuff gets fuzzy and doesn't work as well.


October 14th, 2010 at 12:59 PM ^

that the term Hawkeye State was directly taken from the character Hawkeye in James Fennimore Cooper's "Last of the Mohicans?"  Hawkeye's real name is Natty Bumppo, which is a less scary word than Hawkeye.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

1.  That whole BHGP post is incredibly full of win.

2.  The Bo/Mo/Lloyd offenses were pretty bland most of the time, but hoo boy did that make trick plays effective.

3.  Wow, this year's team is begging for a transcontinental.  You could just start it out like a bubble screen, and I'm sure D's would over-pursue.  Denard + OL stampede = 6 points.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

Even if Demens is no better than Ezeh (possibly, slightly worse even!) I would rather have him out there. Why? Elementary, my dear Watson:

Obi will continue to miss gaps and stink it up -- he's a lost cause. I'd rather have a guy out there stinking it up who has a chance to be better next year.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:05 PM ^

Nick Kuchel 100 meter time: 11.42

He may be a whole second behind Robinson but maybe he has better acceleration and is slow the last 50 meters or maybe he is shiftier than Robinson.  Mostly likely Iowa is a very slow team and he's the fastest non-starter.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:09 PM ^

he probably said GTFO Ref and proceed to knock him down.  I think that he runs 4.5 or something like that because he was pretty fast for a punter.  Kind of makes me wish that Michigan have a Brian Moorman type punter because Moorman is a pretty good athlete for a punter.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:51 PM ^

Yes, he absolutely was telling the ref to get out of the way.  He said that in a post-game interview that he was trying to get the ref to move without tipping the play.  You can see him turning his head straight to the ref a couple of times before the snap.

Also, nice move shifting the ball from his left hand to his right hand as he runs down the left side line...

Gulo Gulo Luscus

October 14th, 2010 at 1:10 PM ^

Bummer about Tae, although luckilyi WR is one place we can actually compensate for the injury.  Will be nice to see what Hemingway can do filling back in, giving us some height on the outside.  That catch against Indiana (plus Denard's two bad balls over the middle last week) definitely has me thinking about the fade when we get in the redzone.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:17 PM ^

Maybe I missed something.

Is this midline stuff just some new scheme/play that Brain decided (without specific evidence or intel) that Michigan was/should be doing? And now he appears to be working himself up to criticizing the coaching staff for not doing it?

How does that make any sense?

Speculate to your heart's desire, but taking the next step and actually being critical of the coaches for not running this strikes me as... bizarre. We may as well go back to screaming for the pistol formation as the cure for cancer.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

has been done by several teams who runs spread option.  Oregon is excellent in that play.  Nebraska just started to run it with Martinez.  Auburn is doing it with Newton.  Midline is basically reading the 3-tech DT(same concept as the zone read) and the QB make a decision according to what 3-tech DT is doing.  It's a very good change-up from regular zone read.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:57 PM ^

It's basically the read option against a a DT instead of DE. If they drop the DE into contain like MSU did, he gets blasted back about 10 yards, the over aggressive DT goes after the RB, and the WLB gets a healthy dose of Schilling in his face. If they do the scrape exchange, that LB is completely out of position and so is the DT Schilling gets to block a MLB or safety or something.

It would be a play that could be used to penalize a team for selling out against the Read Option, which is what our offense is predicated on.


October 14th, 2010 at 2:27 PM ^

That's why Brian has such loyal readers, he has taken the time to understand what Michigan runs and how they run it, what they are attacking and why plays are successful or unsuccessful.  What he is critcizing, is MSU played the same way all game and he felt Michigan could better exploit that, one way would be to run/install a midline read option.  Calling for the Pistol offense is a bad analogy, that's calling for a whole new offense because a some programs around the country are having success with it.  There is so many variables that go into wins and losses that is foolish to judge a coach solely by his record.  Following a blog like Brian's it's important he's not just a cheerleader, he calls the good things he sees Rodriguez doing and has valid excuses for why the team hasn't performed to expectations thus far in order to take him serious he needs to be able to be critcal of situations that he thinks the coaching staff could be doing more to win games.


October 14th, 2010 at 2:55 PM ^

The midline option read isn't a simple tweak off plays they've been running. It involves optioning an entirely different player, different hole, different blocking--amongst other things.

I'm sure this isn't the first time that RichRod has dealt with a team keeping the DE in contain. He might even have his own counter to it. Maybe the counter for now is giving the ball to the tailback--that is the whole idea of the zone read after all. Michigan ran pretty effectively against MSU until the game situation dictated otherwise.

Maybe RichRod wants to run the midline but there hasn't been practice time. It is only just this season that Denard got proficient at running the zone read. Maybe RichRod has his own counter. Maybe the play isn't in RichRod's playbook at all.

Alls I'm saying is it doesn't make much sense to just decide Michigan needs to run a play that to my knowledge we've never seen them run and then criticize the coaches for not doing it immediately. Cook has yet to criticize the coaches but commentors certainly have started to.


October 14th, 2010 at 1:18 PM ^

Easterbrook was a target here.  I now love this site even more.  The guy makes a few decent points about football, or at least he used to -- I wouldn't know about the last seven years, since I swore I'd never give him another click after his pathetic and disrespectful "I told you so" screed  three days after the shuttle Columbia disaster.  Rant about football without knowledge if you must (I do that all the time); don't rant without knowledge when people are dead.


October 14th, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

Believe me, it is GRob being stubborn that Obi is still in there! He is the only position coach that HATES to substitute. Crazy.

Watch Kenny Saturday!! Peeps will be very happy.