Unverified Voracity Has Only Done This Once Before Comment Count

Brian April 21st, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Safety not guaranteed. This is a photo from 1940 that clearly shows a TIME TRAVELER who has visited the re-opening of the South Fork Bridge in British Columbia:


The time traveler is the guy in the crazy sunglasses who looks like he walked out of Bursley and into history. That shirt he's wearing has a block M on it:


If you doubt this is actually a time traveler please note that Skinner from the X-Files is keeping a close eye on him. QED.

This guy's next mission is to find a sleepy bungalow in Mentor, Ohio and bang really loudly on the windows on the night Jim Tressel is conceived. Oh no… what if he's already done it?

Next guy hi. Michigan's looking for an assistant basketball coach and with the public "no thanks" from IPFW head coach Dane Fife—Mr. Self Aggrandizement also publicly shot down overtures from Indiana despite not being offered a job by either—speculation focuses on a trio of guys with state of Michigan ties. If you're looking for a guy with high major experience, Lickliter assistant LaVall Jordan is your man. If you want a guy who's recruited one of the better mid-major teams in the state, Oakland assistant Saadi Washington is your man. If you want a former Globetrotter who is "one of the most fashionable coaches around" and has a name that sounds like a vicious mixed drink of rum and bitters, Bacari Alexander is your man.

That's what I thought. Bacari Alexander for the win.

Meanwhile in attempting to get someone, anyone to join the basketball program: Sam Webb reported on WTKA this morning that Isaiah Sykes did pick up a Michigan offer this weekend. Surprisingly for a guy who's bounced around so much, his transcripts are in fairly good shape. So that's good news.

It's less good that Sykes didn't commit immediately and plans on trips to Central Florida and Arkansas. Orlando may be a trip to take a trip but anyone going to Fayetteville is going on business. Michigan fans grimly remember the recruiting saga of Chicagoan Patrick Beverly. Michigan had late-rising Beverly all locked up until a trip to Arkansas resulted in a Razorback commitment and rampant speculation about payoffs. The parallels are uncomfortable.

Cover three pattern read. Clemson blog Shakin' the Southland has a fantastic analysis of a cover three system that uses "pattern read" principles to prevent itself from getting sliced into little tiny cubes in the passing game, something that would be pretty nice if Michigan could swing this year. Pattern reading is pretty much what it sounds like: the defensive backs read what the receivers are doing and react accordingly. Here's an example:



Flat defender [Ed: SS] drops to the flat zone and picks up the RB when he crosses his face. The H/C defender [SLB] starts his drop up the seam but then takes the first receiver that breaks inside, and tries to wall him off. The deep corner takes the deepest threat, which in this case is the TE on a flag route.


Flat defender [WLB] starts his drop underneath the #1 receiver who is running a Dig route, and keeps inside leverage on him. Once he sees someone cross his face he jumps him in the flat (#2).

The H/C defender (MLB) runs with the #1 receiver on the Dig, remember he's supposed to cover any inside breaker into his zone. If the Z couldn't be walled off and breaks underneath, he must keep him in front of him, and try to stay under that Dig route.

The Corner closes on the most dangerous threat he sees, while the FS is reading the QB and breaks on any throw.

Depending on the formations and routes presented, the players in the zone take different actions. If everyone's on the same page (and has the requisite athleticism) your zones become hellishly adaptable man coverages that provide most of the advantages of zone and most of the advantages of man. The catch is that "if." Smart Football explains in a post on Alabama's pattern reading defense:

The two zone-dropping schools of thought are to teach “spot-drops” or “pattern-reading.” One can overemphasize the distinction, but generally spot-dropping is easier to teach and was the traditional approach. For example, if your outside linebacker is responsible for the weak-flat, he will take his read steps and, upon reading pass, will drop to a spot and then react to the QB’s eyes. A big advantage with spot-dropping is simply that it is easy to teach to, say, a run-stuffing inside linebacker who spends most of his time on run game pursuit and shedding blocks.

The difference between a spot drop and a pattern read is in the complexity of the algorithm. Spot drop:

  • GOTO X

Hypothetical Pattern read for a hook/curl defender:

  1. If (receiver #2 goes vertical) goto seam
  2. If (receiver breaks outside of me) goto smash
  3. If (receiver breaks inside) goto dig

One of the reasons Alabama is so good is that Saban is crazily efficient at coaching his guys up with pattern reading. Robots make robots, and robots are good at algorithms.

Will Michigan use this? Eh… I'm not sure. The linebackers were pretty clueless against both run and pass next year and have seen their defensive responsibilities shift. Adding complicated pattern reading on top of that is probably a bridge too far. Maybe we'll see it in some of the players, but probably not Mouton and Ezeh. It sounds like a move to a pattern read is one akin to moving from a regular gap blocked scheme to a zone running game: you've got to commit to it 100% or it doesn't help.

Chicago is full of lies. Remember early this week when everyone was panicking about the imminent expansion of the Big Ten and dissolution of the NCAA? Yeah. Here's Teddy Greenstein repudiating a previous report that sent everyone into a tizzy:

Big Ten expansion timetable isn’t on fast track

Commissioner says conference will stick with 12-18 month window

Good work! That will show whoever wrote that spurious article about Big Ten expansion acceleration. Who was that again? I couldn't find it on Bleacher Report… hmm, weird, there's a link right on this page…

Looks like Big Ten expansion timetable accelerating

Conference could decide to add schools in next few months

April 17, 2010|By Teddy Greenstein, Tribune reporter

Whoops. The Sun-Times would not let Bob Stoops-to-ND die and is still leading the race to the Bleacher Report bottom, but here's a point for the Tribune. I am not holding my breath for an orgy of clucking akin to the one after the BR-spawned and KC Star-abetted Pitt-to-Big Ten rumor.

First chance to see. If you haven't gotten enough of slightly disorganized football games with unexplained strictures on the defense, the North-South Ohio All Star game is Friday at 7 PM on "SportsTime Ohio," which you probably get if you live in Ohio. Math demands that Lexington quarterback/defensive back Courtney Avery will be on your screen at all times:

A four-year starter at quarterback for Lexington, Avery is just one of four defensive backs on the North roster and one of two true cornerbacks.

"It's going to be a little different, because I'm not playing quarterback," said Avery, a two-time All-Ohio first team defensive pick and the owner of virtually every Lexington passing record. "It will be nice to focus just on defense. It will give me a taste of what I'll be doing at Michigan."

Antonio Kinard and Jake Ryan are also on Avery's team; the Talbott brothers are on the South team. Preferred walk-on kicker Carey Spear is on the North team, too. It's a little more data on all those guys, at the very least.

Etc.: Blurry Evan Smotrycz video. Guy has more driving ability than most of our guards. Touch the Banner previews the NFL draft, and MBN has a couple of nice videos from the Spring Game.



April 21st, 2010 at 2:57 PM ^

I noticed you did some time traveling of your own by dropping that little GOTO keyword in there. Well played sir. That keyword is the bane of my existence as it is rampant in the legacy code I work on.


April 21st, 2010 at 3:04 PM ^

"The linebackers were pretty clueless against both run and pass next year"

do you know something we don't, Brian? Is it YOU in that picture?


April 21st, 2010 at 3:10 PM ^

in that Smotrycz video they were using a shot clock? I have never seen a highschool team use a shot clock. He looks pretty game ready though.

steve sharik

April 21st, 2010 at 3:15 PM ^

If we can do it, then there is almost no reason Michigan (or any D1 program worth their salt) can't do it unless they are convinced that their players are too stupid to learn.

By the way, Michigan was a spot-drop school (at least from the LB position) until at least the end of the Lloyd era. I need actual game film (not TV tape) to determine if Michigan still spot-drops.


April 21st, 2010 at 3:49 PM ^

I attended a coaches clinic in 2007 that featured Lloyd Carr, Ron English, and Steve Stripling (as well as various coaches from MSU, WMU, Albion, etc.).

I sat in on Ron English's session, and he discussed defensive backs and pattern reading. He used film of Michigan (specifically Brandon Harrison and Leon Hall) and discussed pattern reads. I do agree that Michigan's linebackers used spot-drop technique, though I don't remember him mentioning linebacker play at the time.


April 21st, 2010 at 4:12 PM ^

I definitely think this is a more complicated defense than either zone or man, and should best be defined as a sort of hybrid unless I'm misunderstanding how it works.

Is it safe to assume that at the snap, the DBsare reading off the QB, and then when a "conditional" is "tripped" they lock on to a man and make their reads off of him?

I think more than the athleticism required, the biggest constraint is mentally picking this up. Even for a DB this would be tough since it changes the fundamentals of your coverage "algorithm." For any LB it'd be that much tougher. For our LBs, it's not something we can teach them before the season without an adventure ensuing.


April 21st, 2010 at 4:54 PM ^


Please tell me this is a typo and that you don't actually know our defense will be useless next season:

"The linebackers were pretty clueless against both run and pass next year . . ."

Blue in Seattle

April 21st, 2010 at 4:57 PM ^

So I'm not a coach and I don't play XBOX games, but it seems to me that even if we blitz one of the LB's we still have the FS as an extra man deep, and the MLB as an extra man in the flat, since we're only rushing 3 against 5.

If Spur is the strongside Hybrid, then he bumps the TE (Y) on the release and penetrates to contain, which means he has to pick up the RB with no ball and cover him. SLB covers the slant from the WR who is off the line, and the corner covers the tight end who in the best case is delayed with the bump at the line, and worst case is a "slower than WR" TE.

What I'm not sure of is the best thing on the weak side, but if the bandit is weakside Hybrid and NOT blitzing I think he has to cover the slot. The WR on the line has gone deep and is covered by the corner on weakside. This leaves two LB's, (WLB and MLB) to cover the QB. The QB progression seems like it would be to slanting WR first, then TE, then deep WR, then having the slot and RB as the final outlets.

if everyone is covered and he goes to the offense right, the MLB picks him up, to his left, the WLB picks him up.

this is with no blitz, and seems like the best blitz choice is WLB so the slot back is covered all the way, and with a right hand QB, the safest quickest passes are to the slant, or the flaring RB, both of whom should be covered, and then the MLB has the most time to watch this and contain the QB scramble.

but what do I know?


April 21st, 2010 at 5:09 PM ^

has said he's almost always going to be rushing 4, so nothing really changes that much. if you saw the spring game, you saw a couple 3-3-5 looks with one of the stacked LBs stemming down into one of the gaps as a stand-up tackle (or whatever you want to call it, it reminds me of how Crable was used in '06 and '07) usually in the opposite A gap as the nose iirc.

but given 3 rushers, you'll probably see C2 instead of C1/3 with the MLB patrolling the deep middle a la Tampa 2 or perhaps spying. the coverage would be specific to the matchup (running QB, good passing team with good line, etc.).

the best thing i've read wrt pattern reading is Brophy's series. here's part 2:


Blue in Seattle

April 22nd, 2010 at 1:28 PM ^

And I agree that I've heard Gerg say not only are we rushing 4 mostly, but that he hasn't changed things from what was going on last year with the "hybrids".

Adding what was described at the link with the previous discussions on 3, 4, 5, man fronts, and the 3-3-5 diary, it seems to me that creating hybrids is not a huge shift away from the 4-3-4 at all. At least from the definition of the roles of players on the field. What the 3-3-5 does provide is the ability to confuse the offense with who is playing the Strong Safety role and who is playing the second DE role. The cost in the pursest form is that you have a heavier/slower Strong Safety and a Lighter/less dominant second DE, but I think for this coming year, since Gerg has given the hybrids different names, it means the departure from the 4-3 is even less pronounced.

So to me, it would be better called a 3-5-3, but names are just names, and a rose by any other name, smells just as sweet.

To extend this to how we prepare players for the NFL, it's now very interesting to me that the key critiscism of Brandon Graham was his size as an NFL DE. So I think with this new defense, we're not only providing the best response to the latest offensive environment, but also preparing players for what they will be doing in the NFL.

Despite the fact that the NFL hasn't adopted the spread.

thanks again,


April 21st, 2010 at 6:01 PM ^

re: Chicago is full of lies

I wish it wasn't so, but Chitown papers consistently do a lousy job of covering B10 sports. Worse, they all seem to not give two shits about anything Michigan.


April 21st, 2010 at 7:11 PM ^

Brian has been traveling back and forth trying to alter history, but nothing he does seems to matter: we still end up in The Horror. It appears to be an immutable fact of the universe we inhabit.


April 27th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

He let it slip later on in this article, when he said:

"The linebackers were pretty clueless against both run and pass next year and have seen their defensive responsibilities shift."

Mystery solved, but bad news about our linebackers next year.