YAR - A Disagreement with the Blogmaster

Submitted by Deep Under Cover on September 4th, 2012 at 12:22 AM

 

 

YAR - Yet Another Rant

EDIT DISCLAIMER: Post your opinion and know I do not downvote anyone here. Tear me down and let's talk, that's what this is about.

DISCLAIMER:  This is a rant. This says some things that some may not like.  This is in no way designed to discourage people from reading or trusting what Brian says.  I like Brian's analysis, in most cases, and his writing style.  I LOOOOOVE this blog and what it brings to the UM and sports world, maybe in an unhealthy way. I am not a football expert, but was raised with a fundamentally sound understanding of football concepts and ideas.  Having said that, there are some things I, and I believe many readers, grow tiresome of.

If you cannot read an opposing opinion, take it in objectively and not personally, nor take "peeves" as any thing less than personal assaults, don't bother reading and go ahead and neg away. Brian is entitled to his opinion (this is his blog), but since he allows user comments and user driven content, I am entitled to mine.

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I like that Brian writes with passion. I like that he speaks his mind. I like that he introduces and encourages heavy statistical analysis to follow with his opinions and predictions.  Those things separate this blog from just about every other sports blog out there.

I will be in honest and say that there are a few things I don't care for about Brian sometimes:

  • He does not seem to like anything he cannot emprically measure (the idea of "brand", "luck", "effort", etc)
  • From my perspective, does not understand football scheming well enough to make SOME of the statements he does [see note 1].
  • Everyone writing here seems to hate DB, or at least I never seem to see anything positive posted about him or his decisions around here.
  • I think Brian has an unhealthy obsession with Denard's running ability.

THIS IS NOT MEANT AS AN INSULT, just my opinion about how things might be different around here if writing aptitude was substituted to some extent for more "traditional football minded analysis", or at least a more diverse thought pool.  Having said that, I come here all the time, like literally, even if I am not an active commentor in the offseason.

What drives me crazy is that the biased thought process leads to unfair or incorrect assumptions.  I am sure that Denard's few runs of the game, upon further analysis, will show a larger YPC than Smith's.  Well, yes, they will because they were the exception, THEY WERE THE "CONSTRAINT" PLAYS. They are the plays that catch the defense offguard or cheating, so they can find some room that the standard plays may not.  The problem is if you keep going back to them, they are not constraint plays, they are just more stopped plays.

I understand none of these assertions have been made at this point, but I assume they will.

Here is the joy of the read option:

  1. There is one read to make [also see note 1]
  2. It introduces the QB as a viable threat on a run play (thus an 11th offender to the 11th defender)

This will give you a tactical advantage when you are outsized AND can count on a less disciplined defense.  HOWEVA, it does not work when you are outsized, out speed-ed, AND the defense is ridiculously disciplined as Alabama was (look at Oregon-LSU, 2011).  I was at the game and was watching those read options... A play that sticks out looked like a read option, but was a pass (is that a veer? I don't know that terminology here) and there were TWO Alabama defenders literally standing there waiting for Dendard to take off running.  This is how Alabama players are coached, this is how they play, and I promise you priority number one was shutting down Denard.  It just so happened to be the rest of their defense was talented enough and we were depleted enough that they could shut down most other aspects of our offense as well.

A common theme around here is how "NFL ready" much of Alabama's team is.  How many NFL teams run an offense around the read option?  That, to me, is very telling.

Like I said, I was there. I felt the disappointment, ANGER, despair... But the doom and gloom wore off quickly.

My point is, as MANY have pointed out, we were in the wrong weight class here.  We did not outscheme ourselves because, even if we ran things differently, THERE WAS NO WINNING this game with the current state of our program.  Maybe we could have made it look more competitive... but would 10 more QB iso's or sweeps and 7 more points justify potentially injuring Denard more seriously than his "boo boo"?  I think we would all agree, no it would not have been worth it.

I apologize for the rant but I just see this loss as the confirmation Brian needs that RR's offense was the tactically best in college football (not saying he wants RR as our coach, in any regard), and I think I speak for a number of people who have not voiced their opinion.

We lost, were out played, but most importantly, outplay-ered.  As many have said, we will (hopefully) get there, but let's not lose site of what is realistic here.

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*Note 1 - I have seen Brian analyze a play stating that Denard is looking at the end and the LB to decide to keep or not to keep. You read the end, and that is it, expecially with a 5'10" QB.

Comments

hart20

September 4th, 2012 at 12:33 AM ^

 

My point is, as MANY have pointed out, we were in the wrong weight class here.

If many other people have pointed this out, then did you really need to create a new thread to restate this?

hart20

September 4th, 2012 at 12:50 AM ^

that this needed to be a thread. Your analysis was good but it would've done just fine as a response in one of Brian's posts. The last thing that we need is another thread with someone espousing their personal opinion on why we lost. There have been plenty of opportunites for that in a multitude of other threads. The first couple of paragraphs were fine and could've led to an intersting discussion about what annoys you on MGoBlog but the rest were largely unnecessary.

SysMark

September 4th, 2012 at 9:43 AM ^

Whether you agree with the OP or not, in fairness it was not just about why we lost this game.  He is addressing several broader points about how the offense is perceived/analyzed in the Borges era with Denard.

If you look through the ensuing strings of responses it actually stimulated a pretty healthy discussion.

hart20

September 4th, 2012 at 12:45 AM ^

finding that quote near the end of the post. Nothing the OP included in his post was worthy of a new thread. He could have just as easily have posted this as a comment in reply to one of Brian's theads earlier today. The analysis is fine but there's no reason that he needs to create a thread to let the rest of the MGoBoard know that he disagress with Brian.

 

Deep Under Cover

September 4th, 2012 at 12:51 AM ^

I only posted this because I think a number of people would agree on me.  If this was unoriginal content, I would have posted it in one of the numerous other threads, but more likely not at all.  Yes, this is about me disagreeing with Brian, but I think many people agree with it and like to see their opinion expressed, even if through someone else.  I don't think suppressing an opposing view is constructive.

petered0518

September 4th, 2012 at 12:38 AM ^

I understand that there was probably no way to win the game.  However, isn't it the job of the coaches to take their best possible shot at winning every game?  Should we have just quit after the first quarter when it became apparent that Alabama had better players?

So, assuming the coaches are trying to take their best shot at winning, do you really think running Vincent Smith as many times as they did (yes those were runs, not read options) gives us the best chance at winning?  I mean, historically Denard has had far more success running the ball than smith.  Additionally, after about 5 runs we had sufficient evidence that simply handing it to Smith wasn't really an effective play.  I trust the coaches to an extent, but carries 6 to however many he had were simply asinine.  I mean, maybe they did just pack it in and hope no one else got hurt, but I certainly don't want a coach to quit once he realizes the other team has better players.

So I think Brian and others, who may not be football coaches, are justified in being frustrated with the coaches.

Deep Under Cover

September 4th, 2012 at 12:40 AM ^

Of course they shouldn't give up, and they didn't, nor did the players, and I think I made it clear that they may have had marginally more success running Denard more often, but my question is what would have been the outcome if they had?  If Denard got hurt there would be more cries about what a waste it was, similar to the people wondering about running defensive starters on special teams...

dharmabum

September 4th, 2012 at 12:38 AM ^

Response to Note 1:

He needs to read both the DE and the LB so that he doesn't pull and eat a face full of scraping LB. I think maybe it's you that doesn't understand.

Deep Under Cover

September 4th, 2012 at 12:45 AM ^

How does he read a linebacker that has not read the play yet, or is reacting to the outcome of the QB's read?  The linebacker has three options:

  1. Go with the RB
  2. Go with the QB
  3. Go with whatever has been designated his responsibility, pre-decided based on the opposing coach's defense scheme for the read option

If Denard keeps and the LB goes with Denard, Denard must beat him, which should be relatively easy given Denard made the decision and the LB is reacting.  The idea, from my understanding, is that the read option gives you 11 on 11, so in any case Denard must beat 1 man, whichever man that may be.

Deep Under Cover

September 4th, 2012 at 1:10 AM ^

I think we are talking about different things. By "11 on 11" I meant that the QB is in play as a threat on the play.  Of course the option is designed to remove a player from contention of making the play, but you are choosing a different route, essentially.  Either way, the defense has 11 players in the play every play, whereas the offense typically has only 10 on a run (especially with the piss-poor bootleg sells going on these days).  What I am trying to say is that the option lets you select, to some extent, how the defensive players match up with the offensive players.  Two simple examples:

  1. DE stays home to cover QB, QB gives. That, in essense, means that every player on the defense is matched with an offensive player. If you can account for blocks holding, that leaves the RB and the safety as the last "pair". That is a preferable matchup.
  2. DE crashes down the line, QB keeps, he is likely paired up with a LB, or also likely a safety.

Your chances of reaching second level are much higher.

Jinxed

September 4th, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

It's actually 10 vs 10 because the guy running the ball can't block for himself. So essentially you create an even playing field by optioning off that defender when normally, defenses have a 2 man advantage. (9 blockers vs 11 defenders)

petered0518

September 4th, 2012 at 12:52 AM ^

Two things.  First, when I was watching it live it looked to me like they were pulling a guard and blocking the DE, meaning Denard doesn't read the DE and it is a straight handoff with no read.  Hence it isn't even the play you are describing, it is a traditional run from the shotgun, as far as I can tell. 

Not to say every Smith carry was not a read, but it looked to me like most of them were.

Second, Denard has a history of tending to keep on the read option far more than handing it off.  In every game I have ever watched him, he has never handed off more than half of them, especially in tight games. 

Not to say that is airtight proof.  When Brian analyzes the replay maybe I will be wrong.  Still, it did not look like a read option to me when I saw it live.

Deep Under Cover

September 4th, 2012 at 12:58 AM ^

I see, and you could be correct about the guard pulling (I likely missed that if it happened), but the basics of a zone read are the same in that the QB has a key, just like a standard option, and it is possible they switched that key to account for the pulling guard. Also maybe not.

Regardless, expecting a QB to make multiple reads before deciding to keep or hand off the ball is illogical, when making multiple reads when passing the ball can be difficult enough, and you are reading two positions that are at the same time reading your play.

Lazer with a Z

September 4th, 2012 at 12:58 AM ^

Honestly, that's hardly possible. He might have a pre-snap read on the linebacker, but it's just not possible to read both during the play. During the play, the one and only the end is the read. 

Not that Michigan really runs the zone read anymore. That was more of a Rich Rod thing. The have been running a bit of speed option here and thera as well as the inverted veer (which is essentially the zone read, but the playside end is in conflict, not the backside end.)

They have been running a variation on the zone read where the H back or the wing on the playside, traps the backside end and Denard will pull the ball and run once in awhile.

Candyman

September 4th, 2012 at 3:41 AM ^

No, he's right. The QB reads the DE and the DE only. The LB doesn't enter into the equation until after the QB makes his decision. This is as simple as I can make it:

The end has two choices, take the RB or the QB. The QB has two options, keep it or give it to the RB via handoff or pitch. As you can see, each of the QB's options are directly linked to one of the end's choices. The QB reads the end, and makes the decision to keep it or handoff/pitch it. Nothing the LB does would alter that decision, because the ball can't end up in the hands of whoever the end is going after. And most of the time, the LB is going to be reacting to what the QB does anyway, so obviously the QB can't read someone who's reading him.

Running the ball is pretty much always a one read and go, for RBs too. You don't have time to do anything more than that if you're going to gain any yards. Passing the ball is where youmake multiple reads. Even then, for some mobile QBs(like Vick when he was at VT), you read one receiver and if he's covered you run.

BiSB

September 4th, 2012 at 9:18 AM ^

The typical, tradiional, run-of-the-mill zone read looks at whether the end crashes  But that is because in the typical, traditional, run-of-the-mill zone read, that end is the one left unblocked. Some plays absolutely call for reading a linebacker. Or a tackle. Or the punter. Okay, maybe not the punter. But those first couple are legit:

http://smartfootball.com/spread/more-on-the-zone-read-or-midline-read-o…

There are a bunch of ways to run a "zone read," and a million variants thereof.

MI Expat NY

September 4th, 2012 at 10:51 AM ^

Exactly, you can't know the read without knowing exactly what the design of the play is, including any pre-snap reads and calls for the defense faced.  It's impossible to say that the zone read option ALWAYS reads the DE.

Also, for the record, there's no way of knowing how many actual zone reads we've been running over the last two years and how many are simply plays with zone read action where the ball carrier is called in advance (either in the huddle or based on pre snap reads).  

ironman4579

September 4th, 2012 at 11:07 AM ^

I don't think the point of the OP was that you always read the DE.  I think that the point was that the QB doesn't read two players.  He reads the DE or the LB, but not both.  He reads the DT or the LB or whatever ad infinitum, but not multiple defenders.  That's the point I got anyway, which is absolutely correct.

 

EDIT: Ok, that totally wasn't his point after reading it again.  But if it was he would be totally right about that, so......yeah......

Tater

September 4th, 2012 at 12:48 AM ^

tl;dr

I really tried, but it was so disjointed that my thoughts kept bouncing away.  I finally had to just give up.  I'm sure it was great, though, considering the disclaimer at the beginning.

Lazer with a Z

September 4th, 2012 at 1:00 AM ^

I hate peope who second guess the coaches week after week. First of all, people don't watch hours upon hours of film on an opponent like the coaches have.

Second, people aren't at practice, and don't have a grasp on what football practice is like from week to week. Coaches understand their players' strengths and weaknesses. People forget that these coaches have dedicated their LIVES to football. It's their job. They know what they are doing. If they are calling plays a certain way, there is a reason for it. The worst D1 coach has literally forgotten more about the game then some dude watching from his couch on a Saturday. They like winning and keeping their jobs too much to not do it the best way that they can.

Finally, coaches don't win games. Players do. Behind every bad play on Saturday, there is a player not doing their job. I guarantee it. Coaches jobs are to put them in the best position to be successful, and I think this staff works hard to do just that. 

trueblueintexas

September 4th, 2012 at 1:11 PM ^

I don't disagree with your comment about D1 coaches forgetting more about football than fans who just watch. Howeva, you can't deny there are varying degrees of capability when it comes to D1 coaches.  Just like any job, there are people who can do it exceedingly well, those who do a good job of it, and those who probably should not be doing it.  At my company it was the 20, 70, 10 rule.  20% would lead the way, 70% would be good employees who followed the leaders, 10% needed to be shipped out or moved on to something that fits their skill set better.  This is a scary thought when applied to dentists, doctors, pilots, etc. And yes, I always wonder what percentage a new mechanic falls into. 

Anyway, long winded way of saying, there are probably some D1 coaches who should not be doing what they are doing.

turtleboy

September 4th, 2012 at 1:20 AM ^

Outside of 2012 and 2013 Bowl Games and the 2014 Playoff, the Cowboy Classic was the toughest game Michigan will play for years to come, but by then we should be well caught up. Our schedule from this week through 2015 actually looks pretty weak considering the strides we've already taken, and the potential we're soon to realize.

We very nearly ran the table in the B1G last year: http://www.fbschedules.com/ncaa-11/big-ten/2011-michigan-wolverines-football-schedule.php

We have a good chance of refocusing and running the table this year: http://www.fbschedules.com/ncaa-12/big-ten/2012-michigan-wolverines-football-schedule.php

But the years to come give us even more home games: http://www.fbschedules.com/ncaa-13/big-ten/2013-michigan-wolverines-football-schedule.php

multiple bye weeks, with inferior non conference opponents: http://www.fbschedules.com/ncaa-14/big-ten/2014-michigan-wolverines-football-schedule.php

and a lack of tough, consecutive road games: http://www.fbschedules.com/ncaa-15/big-ten/2015-michigan-wolverines-football-schedule.php

Getting handled by an opponent we dislike was rough, but another light at the end of the tunnel is that Brandon, Hoke, Borges, Mattison, and co. are setting their sights much, much higher than contemporary Alabama, or USC. They are extremely ambitious, and amazingly, even more capable. Last year we were saying "is this the best recruiting class..." this year we're saying "is THIS the best recruiting class?!?!" and it seems evident that we'll be hearing that same thing every year for a number of years to come. Combine unprecedented recruiting with better defensive coaches than the ones we just faced, more ambitious, complex offenses than any we will face, and you get potential for an offense more explosive than USCs or Oregons, mixed with a defense possibly even more capable than Bamas. Can you imagine how good we'll be when Shane and Peewee are upperclassmen?

It's a little difficult to see after the rude awakening we had to start the season, but we're watching the groundwork of something very special. Michigan has the potential to be unstoppable in the near future. Hoke already has a half class, and a full class of "his guys" on campus, with another full class waiting in the wings. By the time a class comes in and meets an entire roster of players recruited by Hoke we could have the best team Michigans ever fielded.

scooterf

September 4th, 2012 at 1:09 AM ^

I don't know, I read it, and sure you're entitled to your opinion, but my opinion is you're wrong. The main issue here is this statement:

 

From my perspective, does not understand football scheming well enough to make SOME of the statements he does [see note 1].

 
The glaring thing is from reading these things you've written, it's pretty obvious your level of knowledge is below Brian's. That's totally fine. However, it doesn't give you great credentials to make that statement. Second, if you're going to say it, it needs to be backed up intelligently. Paragraphs like this:
 

What drives me crazy is that the biased thought process leads to unfair or incorrect assumptions.  I am sure that Denard's few runs of the game, upon further analysis, will show a larger YPC than Smith's.  Well, yes, they will because they were the exception, THEY WERE THE "CONSTRAINT" PLAYS. They are the plays that catch the defense offguard or cheating, so they can find some room that the standard plays may not.  The problem is if you keep going back to them, they are not constraint plays, they are just more stopped plays.

 
That's a total mess. Problems with this paragraph alone:
 
1) It implies Smith is a better runner than Denard and Denard only gets his yards off constraint plays. That is ludicrous. 
2) Denard got most of his yards off scrambles/improvisation in this game and not runs. So I'm not even sure where you're getting this point from. 
3) The constraint thing is just not even true. What was the defense cheating against exactly? 
 

A common theme around here is how "NFL ready" much of Alabama's team is.  How many NFL teams run an offense around the read option?  That, to me, is very telling.

 
This is yet another example of a statement that is kind of crazy. Also, your whole premise for this statement was that Alabama was bigger & faster and THAT'S why it didn't work, and therefore that's why it doesn't work in the NFL... Um, in the NFL the teams are pretty much equals. Make up your mind which it is ;). Finally:
 

;I apologize for the rant but I just see this loss as the confirmation Brian needs that RR's offense was the tactically best in college football (not saying he wants RR as our coach, in any regard), and I think I speak for a number of people who have not voiced their opinion.

 
STOP NO NO NO PLEASE NOT THIS AGAIN. 

Deep Under Cover

September 4th, 2012 at 1:23 AM ^

 

The glaring thing is from reading these things you've written, it's pretty obvious your level of knowledge is below Brian's. 
 
Please, address my where my lack of knowledge is rather than attack it so I may respond (likely tomorrow, last post for night... work, blah. This is way more enjoyable).
 
1) It implies Smith is a better runner than Denard and Denard only gets his yards off constraint plays. That is ludicrous. 
2) Denard got most of his yards off scrambles/improvisation in this game and not runs. So I'm not even sure where you're getting this point from. 
3) The constraint thing is just not even true. What was the defense cheating against exactly? 
 
Not sure where I said or implied any of this. I merely stated that Alabama was a more talented team that was highly disciplined...
 
This is yet another example of a statement that is kind of crazy. Also, your whole premise for this statement was that Alabama was bigger & faster and THAT'S why it didn't work, and therefore that's why it doesn't work in the NFL... Um, in the NFL the teams are pretty much equals.
 
My point was the read option makes up for a lack of talent vs opposition to an extent.  There are some occasions where it simply cannot due to the nature of the opposition, in situations where the defense if both athletic/talented AND disciplined, like an NFL team.

Tacopants

September 4th, 2012 at 1:53 AM ^

"I was at the game and was watching those read options... A play that sticks out looked like a read option, but was a pass (is that a veer? I don't know that terminology here) and there were TWO Alabama defenders literally standing there waiting for Dendard to take off running."

Making statements like this will undercut your point. What point in the game? We could be talking about anything at this point. Maybe it was true play action. Maybe it was a run/pass option based off of the inverted veer. Were the defenders LITERALLY standing there (who? where? the backside DE and LB?). Maybe you misremembered. Who knows?

And you processed and analyzed this in the seconds that this play occurred instead of much rewatching of the tape? I mean, if that's the case you could make a lot of money in an NFL booth. You'd have more credibility if you broke down that specific play and pointed out where Denard consistently pulled back to pass or gave the option handoffs.

dnak438

September 4th, 2012 at 1:11 AM ^

But I don't see much of substance in this post. I mean, isn't Brian entitled to think (if he even does) that a run-first spread (whether it's RR's or Chip Kelly's) is the tactically best? And isn't he entitled to think that it is the best with respect to Denard's skill set? You obviously disagree but I don't see you advancing any compelling argument. In fact, I see the opposite: you assert what you need to prove, namely that

the biased thought process leads to unfair or incorrect assumptions.

 

gbdub

September 4th, 2012 at 9:07 AM ^

Yeah, but Brian hasn't said that running Denard would have changed the outcome. And Brian has repeatedly stated that Denard is mediocre to bad at the zone read, and prefers designed QB runs from shotgun.

"Brian doesn't like things he can't quantify like brand or luck".

I think you misunderstand quite badly. Brian likes luck just fine, he (and mostly the Mathlete) just make a point of pointing out when something is luck, and the stats support this.

As for the brand and Brandon, if anything that's an area where Brian (and myself to be honest) wish there was less quantification. Sure selling a random assortment of jerseys gets you some quick short term bucks, but I think you lose something valuable.

And in any case, how does a dislike of Dave Brandon have any bearing on the quality of Brian's (or anyone's) football insight?

BiSB

September 4th, 2012 at 9:29 AM ^

As for the brand and Brandon, if anything that's an area where Brian (and myself to be honest) wish there was less quantification. Sure selling a random assortment of jerseys gets you some quick short term bucks, but I think you lose something valuable.

You watch your mouth about jersey sales. How else could we have turned the tide in Ohio? Huh? HOW???

dnak438

September 4th, 2012 at 1:47 AM ^

We did not outscheme ourselves because, even if we ran things differently, THERE WAS NO WINNING this game with the current state of our program. 

How can this possibly follow? If Michigan had run the Maryland-I the whole game and ran ISO plays, would you say that we didn't outscheme ourselves because the game was lost? If we had punted on each and every 1st down, would you still claim that it didn't matter because we were going to lose no matter what?

This seems like a much more reasonable position:

RT : Not to say that Michigan's gameplan was great, but Alabama would have still dominated defensively regardless.

 

philibuster

September 4th, 2012 at 1:22 AM ^

Constraint plays? Like they weren't expecting the fastest guy on our team to get some carries? They aren't ever going to forget about denard and sell out against vincent smith running into a bunch of free alabama linemen.