Unverified Voracity Should Run The Option Comment Count

Brian October 17th, 2016 at 12:26 PM


[Eric Upchurch]

The best quote. ESPN was offered full and frank access to a Wisconsin DBs meeting before the Ohio State game. This was kind of a questionable decision since ESPN published some takes on OSU's personnel that would seem to have a negative impact on Wisconsin's ability to use said takes. For example, Jim Leonhard's take on Curtis Samuel would seem ripe for Samuel to break tendency:

"You watch him, the thing that he gets guys on is if he kind of goes lazy in a route, don't believe it," Leonhard said. "He'll stem you. He's going to break hard as hell. Everything he's going to do, he's going to be patient at the top of routes. But if he starts just kind of bending into something, he's going opposite. Don't fall for the trap."

I almost always think coach secrecy is absurd paranoia but I was shocked Wisconsin let this get published, especially before the game even happened.

Anyway, at the end of the piece there is a quote directly relevant to your interests:

"You just have to communicate, which you've done a really good job of," he said. "Is that nearly as hard as Michigan last week? Michigan was something new every single snap. These guys are almost the complete opposite. You'll watch the game and be like, 'Damn, they did exactly what we saw.' We'll just have to see early recognizing the formations that they're going to be in, then we'll motion."

I can't tell you how many times during the Carr era that we'd be on the other end of that quote, with teams playing Michigan and then stating that M did exactly what they saw on film and nothing else. I love the alternative.

Meanwhile the other side of the ball just got the same makeover. I love that Michigan went out and got Defensive Jim Harbaugh in Don Brown. Michigan's gone from a very simple defense under Durkin to a blizzard of different looks. Craig Ross mentioned on WTKA that a Power 5 offensive coordinator told him that he spent most of BC week just trying to figure out what the hell Brown was doing.

Michigan is now an incredibly difficult opponent to prepare for on either side of the ball.


Brock Spack's best attribute is his mustache. This is a compliment.

Exit Darrell Hazell. Purdue pulled the trigger on their head coach after nine wins in 3.5 years, and is now on the Lowered Expectations dating scene. Everyone's got a list. Hammer and Rails has one, and here's a sad commentary on where they're at:

Name: Brady Hoke

Position: Oregon DC

Why?: Ya, Oregon isn’t very good right now. Hoke was up and down at Michigan. But, he has head coaching experience and is looking for another head coaching job. Getting back into the B1G isn’t easy, but this could be a chance for him as he could take over a Purdue program in shambles.

Chance: With how Oregon has looked this season, I don’t think we take a chance on him. But his head coaching experience in the B1G makes him appealing a little bit.

At least they're unenthused.

The candidates drawing the most mention seem to be WMU's PJ Fleck, former LSU HC Les Miles, and Illinois State HC Brock Spack. Fleck's probably going to get better offers this offseason and should wait on a less difficult opportunity; Miles is probably a real bad idea since by the time he'd have his players in he'd be close to retirement; Spack hasn't lit it up on the FCS level.

If those aren't the names, Purdue might repeat their Hazell move:

Hazell had been a head coach at Kent State for two years, but he was close to a "close your eyes and throw a dart at the OSU assistant roster" move. It would be uninspiring and very Purdue to replicate their failed process from last time.

Bill Connelly points out that Purdue's only successful coaching hires in the past 30 years have been relative outsiders, and he suggests a selection of creative offensive minds at smaller schools. He's correct. This is the pool Purdue should be selecting from. They need something weird to overcome their talent deficiencies, and they have the financial resources to grab a guy from Tulane or Air Force or wherever.

Personally, I would loathe playing a triple option version of Purdue—never schedule Air Force!—and co-sign this tweet from Jane Coaston:

Ken Niumatalolo may not be poachable after he turned down overtures from BYU last year, but if the problem there was BYU's reluctance to go flexbone Purdue might not have a shot. Connelly mentions Air Force's Troy Calhoun, who's won eight games a year two-thirds of the time at a service academy and gave Michigan all it wanted a few years back, and he seems like a good idea. Willie Fritz ran a deeply weird pistol triple option thing at Georgia State; I mentioned him offhandedly during the portion of Michigan's most recent coaching search where I threw out every candidate who was even vaguely plausible. He'd be a good idea.

In non-option options: Jeff Brohm at WKU has assembled Tiller-esque explosive offenses. I'd at least kick the tires on Chris Klieman, the third-year NDSU head coach who's kept Craig Bohl's train running without a hiccup.

For your sake, Purdue, don't close your eyes and grab a manball retread or an assistant who's operated with an embarrassment of riches. Look to someone scrabbling up from down below.

SLEEPER THOUGH. Charlie Strong.

Michigan assistants? Drevno and Fisch draw mention from Feldman in the Others Receiving Votes section of his list. While I think both guys are good coaches and will be HCs somewhere down the road, neither seems like a good fit for perpetually undermanned Purdue, and both guys can find themselves jobs less likely to end in termination. If Purdue's smart they won't focus on either guy; if either guy is smart they'd wait for something like Maryland or Cincinnati.

Another Endzone excerpt. The Postgame runs a piece from Bacon on Harbaugh's long-term prospects in Ann Arbor:

As one of Harbaugh's closest associates, attorney John Denniston, told me, "Jim doesn't like to recruit. He loves to recruit." If that sounds like hyperbole, you might consider the 22-state, 38-stop satellite tour, which Harbaugh described as "more fun than you can possibly imagine, like a pig in slop."

The only issue on that list that would seem to present a compelling reason for Harbaugh to leave is the health of Michigan's athletic department. When people on the book tour asked me to predict how long Harbaugh would coach Michigan, my answer was simple: It depends on his relationship with the next athletic director.

Quinn on Rahk. MAAR's development is probably the second-biggest key for Michigan this year behind that of Mo Wagner:

"For two years now, I've seen a great evolution in his game," Beilein said. "I want to see much more. He's capable of being a superior athlete."

A few things need to happen.

Abdur-Rahkman's jump shooting needs to improve. He raised his 3-point percentage from 29.3 percent (12-41) to a respectable 36.5 percent (31-85) from his freshman to sophomore year, but another jump could elevate Abdur-Rahkman among the best guards in the Big Ten.

His playmaking also needs to improve. Despite playing in 21 more games than LeVert last year, Abdur-Rahkman finished with 13 fewer assists for the season. His 3.7 assists per 100 possessions ranked below Duncan Robinson and Kameron Chatman. While his 27 turnovers in 1,001 minutes played were impressively meager, they also speak to a lack of facilitating for others.

Ian Boyd on OSU. This piece went up before the Wisconsin game and looks fairly prescient right now. It's SBN's Ian Boyd on certain flaws that OSU has demonstrated so far this year:

So if the Buckeye run game were stopped or slowed?

An opponent that knew how to line up against Urban Meyer’s arsenal of formations and variations on option run schemes would undoubtedly have a chance to force this particular team into some obvious passing situations.

The Buckeyes have had 40 TD drives so far this season and 14 of them (35%) required 10 plays or more. They’re very used to having to grind their way down the field with the run game and if you stopped up the works they’d be forced to rely more on their passing game.

Venturing back up to our handy chart, we notice that against the three toughest opponents on Ohio State’s schedule that Barrett threw 63 passes for 394 yards at 6.3 yards per attempt with five TDs and a sole INT. He’s been good at avoiding turnovers, though that may be partly due to simply not throwing many passes in the first place, but simply hasn’t been that threatening throwing the ball. If not for the four touchdown passes he threw to big Noah Brown in the red zone against Oklahoma, those numbers wouldn’t be too impressive either.

Barrett had a good second half against Wisconsin and managed to get OSU to 23 points in regulation. It was a struggle the whole way, though. Michigan's defense is another level up from Wisconsin's; that game gave me great hope that Michigan can turn the Game into a defensive slugfest.

Illinois week. The Illini probably won't be much of a challenge—they got outgained by Rutgers last week and Michigan is a whopping 35-point favorite. But it is an opportunity to point out Illini Board, which is a good Illinois blog/community. Their take on Rutgers:

Because this is just year one. The idea is 2019, with Michigan in Champaign, with the roster rebuilt, and that defense taking the ball away from the Wolverines and stopping them on fourth and one. I flipped the switch to rebuild mode last week, so watching this game in rebuild mode, it was great to see those plays from Milan and Watson. Bodes well for the future.

Remember the Minnesota game in 2008 when we outgained them something like 550-310 yet we lost because we kept turning the football over? That was a few months before I started the blog, but if I was blogging that fall, that game would have been my first “Turnovers Are Football” post. So many times, being on the wrong end of turnovers cost us.

And today, being on the right end delivered a win.

Lovie Smith is the most credible head coach they've had in a while, but it's going to take a long time to get out from underneath the Beckman denouement.

We've been there. Georgia lost to Vandy and their irritating athletic director hasn't crossed the line to get axed, so Get The Picture is feeling pretty gloomy:

It dawned on me leaving the stadium Saturday that one thing is really missing from Georgia football — it’s not fun to watch.  By that, I don’t mean losing sucks.  It does, of course.

What I mean is that watching a Georgia game feels like more of a chore these days than entertainment.

Man, did I write a column or two like that a few years back. It must be frustrating to be UGA and always be good but seemingly never be great—oh right, we know what that's like too. Throw in the fact that Ann Arbor and Athens are almost the same city and the UGA and Michigan fan bases are the most golf-apparel-friendly ones in the country and the parallels go deep between the two schools.

Anyway, this season is super fun and let's be sure to savor it.

Desmond Morgan gets into coaching. He's a GA at Wayne State:

Q: What are some of your responsibilities at Wayne State as a graduate assistant?

Morgan: One thing that’s been really interesting is that playing at Michigan, I was really used to the Division I level, where there’s resources and funding. There’s almost a paid position for everything.

At the Division II level, the resources are very limited. The money isn’t there. Something that I learned quick is that you’re not just a GA who helps an assistant. You do a bunch of other things on top of it.

Here, I spend 8 to 10 hours a week making sure highlight films are done on Friday nights, and we do all of the importing, editing and transcribing of the film. We help coaches with their daily responsibilities, like making copies, making sure meetings are set up to be run.

Juan Harris is single again again again again. The enormous IA DT decommitted from Indiana after three separate Iowa commitments. I can't wait to see where this rollercoaster goes. Hopefully back to Indiana twice more.

Etc.: The Big 12 probably isn't expanding because the TV networks will pay them not to. This might seem like a fiasco but could it actually be a bit of Machiavellian brilliance? What went wrong under Hazell other than everything. Nigel Hayes visited Gameday to protest not getting paid. Fred Jackson is the head coach at Ypsi High now. Indiana's struggles in the redzone dissected. The playoff looks all but set, so of course things will implode over the next month.

Brian Kelly Blames Things Dot Com. Recommend Go Iowa Awesome's weekly "Hybrid" column. Harbaugh eats a steak.



October 17th, 2016 at 12:34 PM ^

Shot in the dark here, but could Purdue be an attractive landing spot for a guy like Bo Pelini? They can certainly pay him more, he wasn't a slouch at Nebraska, and he can recruit.

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October 17th, 2016 at 1:06 PM ^

Hoke or Pelini would make sense if Purdue wanted to go the normal route. In 3-4 years they would have much more talent at least. Both can recruit. As long as Hoke didn't hire a bunch of retread coordinators like he did at Michigan, he may do ok.

So, if the networks are paying off the Big 12 to not expand, can the Big 10 pay off Purdue to fold their program? Indiana is barely big enough to field one decent 1A football team, let alone 3.


October 17th, 2016 at 1:35 PM ^

I don't think Hoke would be the worst idea ever. It's a little disingenuous to say Oregon this year confirms he's a bad coach. They were capital T Terrible last year and they lost a bunch of guys and changed systems since then. Also, who knows how much meddling Brandon did behind the scenes that hamstrung Hoke. 

Yeah, he's going to make some bone headed mistakes and probably underperform the talent he brings in, but for Purdue, it's not the worst thing and could be offset by at least some recruiting.


October 17th, 2016 at 1:58 PM ^

I thought Hoke took that job knowing Oregon was bad on defense to begin with, and that his presence and immediate input wouldn't make wholesale difference. Well, that certainly has come to fruition. The former Ball State coach and player might just fit in at Purdue and he could resume calling the Buckeyes by their proper name, Ohio.


October 17th, 2016 at 4:34 PM ^

He was the head coach at UM, one of the top schools in the country let alone the B1G and he failed miserably.  Not sure why Purdue would then look at him and say yea let's bring him in here.

I would think they would look at several other candidates before turning to someone like Hoke and when you also consider how horrible Oregon's defense is, he's not exactly instilling confidence that he should be given another HC job in the B1G.


October 17th, 2016 at 5:30 PM ^

Maybe you hadn't noticed, but Purdue is bad. Their program and facilities aren't exactly in a state where a coach who is a solid bet to make a team good is going to be. Hoke is the exact caliber candidate that Purdue is going to be able to get. He still had a winning record at Michigan and recruited some top classes.

While he didn't live up to Michigan's standards, he performed well above Purdue expectations. I'm not saying he should be their number 1 target, but he definitely has some upside for a program like Purdue. Get him a solid OC and DC, and he should be halfway decent for Purdue and build a foundation for the future. Make them respectable and give them the ability to attract some decent coaches in the future.


October 17th, 2016 at 3:36 PM ^

Exactly. I don't think Hoke is as bad of an idea as many. He's similar to Fleck in many ways.

Both coaches are excellent recruiters. As we all remember, Hoke focused on recruiting the Midwest. So pulling the scraps out of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania while pulling a few surprises would incredibly increase the talent pool on the team.

Fleck admits himself that he isn't really an X's and O's coach, instead being of the "rah-rah" motivational mold. And Hoke is an AVID clapper.

If Hoke is able to attract some decent coordinators, and pull in some talent, Purdue could see a spike to bowl eligibility.

The main difference between the two seems to be that Hoke has experience in the B1G and recruiting ELITE prospects.

Hoke would be far from a home run hire, but it's a huge step on the road to respectability for Purdue, which would lead to coaches in the future being able to take a Purdue offer seriously. At this point, there are a few dozen mid-major jobs that are better than Purdue.

Ron Utah

October 18th, 2016 at 1:52 PM ^

I think Pelini would be a homerun hire from Purdue's perspective, but I still think it's a bad idea.  Why?  Because his ceiling at Purdue is bascially Nebraska minus.  Whereas he churned-out 9-win seasons at Nebraska, in the B1G East and with a lesser program to sell, his ceiling drops a bit.  If Purdue wants to be consistently decent, Pelini is a great hire.  If they want to be exciting with a chance at a great year, he's a bad choice.

Purdue is at their best when they do something innovative or different.  They should look for a spread-to-pass or triple option coach, IMO.  Pelini is not that guy.  Bob Stitt* is that guy.  Troy Calhoun is that guy.  Tim Walsh (Cal Poly) is that guy.

*Stitt is averaging 47 pts/game at Montana this season.  The Grizzlies scored 41 points in their only loss, falling to Cal Poly by a single point.

Rufus X

October 17th, 2016 at 12:37 PM ^

I really do. I follow her, I retweet her occasionally... but I don't understand the crush that the proprietors of this fine blog have on her.  Like, why on earth would her opinion of Purdue hiring an option-offense HC deserve to be featured in an Unverfied Voracity post, let alone her opinion drive the headline of said post?  Seriously, I just don't get it.


October 17th, 2016 at 12:55 PM ^

And, most importantly, not only did she say something that fit into the larger piece, she had the most insightful comment of anybody who has talked about the Purdue vacancy--that Purdue can't consistently beat M or OSU by trying to replicate what M & OSU are doing, but they might be able to compete with M and OSU by doing something completely different.


October 17th, 2016 at 12:54 PM ^

Like, why on earth would her opinion of Purdue hiring an option-offense HC deserve to be featured in an Unverfied Voracity post, let alone her opinion drive the headline of said post?

Because the author of this post agrees with her opinion and wanted to spend part of the post explaining why he thinks that is a good direction for Purdue to go with their coaching search. The end.


October 17th, 2016 at 1:51 PM ^

Rufus, Mgopoints earned is not generally a good way to measure one's contributions to this here site, but your 626 points in almost 6 years now might lend credence to the argument that you would have no knowledge of what the criteria for a "great point" are.

That you seldom make one, and likely would not recognize one when confronted with one.


oriental andrew

October 17th, 2016 at 2:02 PM ^

I was really interested when he was hired at Montana. Struggled his first year (relatively speaking, given that Montana is an FCS powerhouse), but is 5-1 so far this season and looking strong in the Big Sky. 

If he can finish out this year strong, would be interesting to see if he'd make the move to FBS - although Montana could probably beat Purdue. 


October 17th, 2016 at 4:38 PM ^

did a great job at the D-II level also and is continuing it at D-1A. The Big Sky is one of the best 1A conferences in college football and he is showing the ability to win there. I think a move like that would make more sense for a Purdue then say a Hoke.  Hoke has had chances and blew them.

Jason Kapsner …

October 17th, 2016 at 12:43 PM ^

He would pass a rule stating all Purdue head coaches going forward must have mustaches and supply passive aggressive anonymous quotes about all the other teams in the preseason preview magazines.


October 17th, 2016 at 12:47 PM ^

I've been reading for years and just registered an account today so I could say I think it's really cool that you support other teams' blogs and communities here by quoting them, linking them, etc.


October 17th, 2016 at 12:48 PM ^

Is it really homer of me to think that there isn't a lot of genius behind Meyer's offense, and that he basically just recruits an insane amount of talent (and teaches his players to execute it really well)? I'm not trying to undermine Meyer but it's just interesting to think if one has an equal amount of talent perhaps the offense isn't impossible to slow down.


October 17th, 2016 at 2:25 PM ^

The comparison has been made before, but Harbaugh basically recruits brainy players (something he may have discovered experimentally at Stanford) and teaches them deep concepts to the point that they can jam like jazz musicians.  Meyer's offense is more like a highly autotuned boy band.  A bunch of young men naturally blessed with genes that perform a highly choreographed routine.

There are upsides and downsides to both.  OSU's scheme doesn't trust the QB to make more than simple reads, which is how they could go all way to their 3rd string without skipping a beat.  The understudies know the routine.  Now, you can scoff at the boy band all you want, but if you're like 99% of FBS analogues you're a starving garage band desperately covering "Friday" in an attempt to break through.  You don't have the money, support, time, or the genes to contest their success, to say nothing of replicating it.  I hate that offense but I grudgingly respect what it does.  The offense may be simple but it's refined to the point that it has an answer to almost everything thrown at it, mainly by requiring your weakest defender to make an open-field tackle on a 5-star athlete.  That's the mismatch they go for, and they like their odds every time.  Why introduce plays you don't need?

Harbaugh's the opposite, again, for better or worse.  When it works you can marvel at Luck or Rudock shredding elite defenses, but it takes time, not every QB can master the offense and there can be significant drop-off if the starter goes down.  Michigan lost to Utah and struggled much of last season because it takes so long for even a guy shooting for med school to learn the offense, and Speight seems to have hit a wall of sorts.  That's the price Harbaugh pays to realize the Florida Rudock ceiling.