Posting light today.
An excellent article in the News about the new coordinators from Angelique S. Chengelis has a lot of encouraging/infuriating quotes. Rondell Biggs on English:
"We get to perfect what we do," Biggs said. "Last year, we were always changing things up. Now we put in the base, so people know what we're doing. We don't have to think so much. We don't have to change up things. We know our calls, we know our responsibilities.
"We've got a lot less thinking, a lot less stuff on our plates. I remember last year, we were getting new stuff every week, and it was hard to get a good rhythm."
KISS. This has been the standard mantra for months, but framed by Biggs like so it reminds me of this Vince Young quote from a couple years ago:
"They are physical. They don't try and disguise anything. Whatever they are trying to do, if they are trying to blitz, you know they are blitzing. If they are trying to sit back and play coverage or play the run, you know what they are doing. They just try and get physical with you and go nose to nose with you for four quarters."
There's no right level of complexity in a defense. You can be successful with anything from Miami's all-cover-2-all-the-time to John Tenuta's blitz Cuisinart. But what complexity you have must have a payoff, right? Each thing you add to a defense must have some advantage. Otherwise you're just complicating things for you and not them. Jim Herrmann's final years were miraculous, wildly complex schemes that were dead easy to read. Merely discussing it makes my molars ache. How many times did you see members of the secondary pointing at each other and re-arranging themselves moments before the snap? How many times did befuddled linebackers pick the wrong place to go? How much of Michigan's conservatism was because an aggressive Herrmann defense would inevitably bust coverages at a rate better associated with the Wildcats? (Which Wildcats? Pick one.)
That Vince Young quote is ludicrous. All the substitutions, all the presnap motion, all the wild gesticulation: for nothing. Michigan was dead easy to read. Herrmann's brilliance did nothing but confuse Michigan defenders into inaction. If he comes within 50 miles of Michigan Stadium he should be tasered and shipped to Istanbul.
Speaking of shipping people to Istanbul, Mike DeBord makes a strong case for immediate deportation and brainwashing in the same article:
"Today with so much eight-man, nine-man football, you can run away from the eighth guy, and you don't have to block that guy. It allows you to be able to run the ball when you've got eight guys down in the box."
Ack ack ack.
But even though I don't like that quote I must (temporarily) defend DeBord. I'm only through the first half but in that half his playcalling was excellent, sabotaged entirely by execution errors. I know I will like it much less during the second half but it wasn't all bad. Also, his other quotes from that article discussing the shift to a zone running game are all true; it's an astute way to take advantage of Hart's particular strengths and and get away from some of the ugly predictability that makes Michigan so frustrating. (Not coincidentally, this sort of running game makes the waggle a much bigger threat. Before, Michigan's run game was mostly pulling, pitches, and isos up the gut. Actual runs to the outside that could suck defenders along were few and far between. Thus the demise of the waggle. Its return Saturday saw an embarrassment of open receivers.) Many fans grumbled about wanting a third wide receiver or second tight end in the game instead of a meh fullback, and that's what they got (at least in the first half): Michigan's base formation was three wideouts, a tight end, and a running back.
Now, about that aggressive passing game...
Sigh. I promised myself no more attention for goobers, but I enjoyed this sentence so much that it's only right I give him some pub. Amongst He Is Manpundit's "breakout" whatevers of the opening weekend:
--Running back Kevin Grady of Michigan. He is slimmed down and MUCH quicker this year. I think he will, at some point, replace Michael Hart as a starter.
He'll be here all week, folks. The point at which a healthy Hart is replaced as a starter is when he runs out of eligibility. But that's punditry for you.