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10/09/2018 - 3:50pm As negative coaching tactics…

As negative coaching tactics go, this seems alright to me. That type of line is meant to combat arrogance and entitlement. The explicit or implied line "is you'll never play at Michigan playing like that."  Maybe it was worse in context - like this was right after Wangler won a drill or something - but that could be because he won with improper technique that's likely to backfire.  A lot of young players were whales in their respective coy ponds in high school so it can be a shock to be reminded you're in a new ocean now and you've got to breakdown and rebuild some of your techniques.

It fits with a pattern, but it's not really anything on it's own.

I don't see a problem with coaches telling a player that they have work to do if they want to get on the field - so long as the coach can guide a player through that work. That's part and partial to meeting the expectation for the position.

The problem at Maryland is that it sounds like the Football culture was "questioning the manhood" of players and insulting, neglecting, and ignoring those who got hurt or otherwise could not perform up to standards that were not well understood or communicated. That's not an attack on ego or arrogance for the sake of learning and improvement. They're accused of an amplification of toxic masculinity and social Darwinism to "weed out the weak until only the strong remain" - to the point of a literal, preventable, and tragic death.

09/30/2018 - 12:38am This was a comment I made to…

This was a comment I made to some of the others I was watching the game with. That it felt kinda like some of the Lloyd games where Michigan would go on the road and either get behind or let an inferior opponent hang around until the 4th quarter - then they'd just exert control. You could see one team making incremental improvements from drive to drive while the other one ran out of the ideas they'd worked out during the bye week.

The conventional run plays were frustrating, but set up a lot of the other components of the offense. And while Northwestern is not even a good team in many respects they are a top-20 rushing defense for sure. Their D-tackles are quality pluggers, the Gaz is the Gaz and Paddy Fisher is a legit run-killing LB.

The big problem was coming out flat-footed again and some of the penalties (the legit ones).

09/02/2018 - 2:39pm I half-heartedly agree in…

I half-heartedly agree in that we need to keep play-action looks that are not RPO quick-reads to a minimum unless the run game is functional. If we're moving the ball successfully on the ground the play-action game will open up. Otherwise it's just time spent without the QB looking downfield.

The quick-slants, bubble screens, RB screens and short wheels, and various jet sweeps and such need to be used to force opposing defenses to stretch horizontally to open up the running room inside. It really looks like the line can't open up holes all on their lonesome against a ND-level line. That needs to (and will) improve over the coming weeks before we head to Northwestern.

01/16/2018 - 10:20pm Responsiveness

I think the biggest thing to me is responsiveness. I like a vehicle that's lively and immidiate with tight steering, neutral handling, good throttle response and brake bite. Not to be confused with outright speed or power. It's about the tactility.

Good seats go a long way too.

The other big this is having something I can daily drive (within some weather dependencies). I don't want something that (for cost, etc) I feel too precious about using. Cars are transporation and entertainment. They're meant to move.

01/16/2018 - 10:12pm You're onto something

You're onto something with the insinuation to the absurdity of "legit" modern sports cars POWER levels. Regular cars haven't gotten faster and speed limits are only inching up on the longest open stretches of freeway. There just isn't a way to really use anything with 500+ hp, but they keep comprimising the feel when the performance level drops to sane levels.

An Exige might be a little TOO pure for anything other than point-A to point-A canyon loops for my taste. I like a car I can take on weekend trips at least.

The Miata suggestion is an excellent one because the aftermarket support is fantastic so you could easily tighten it up to fit your needs. The base package is extremely engauging and usable. BRZ / FRS / GT-86 are also great in that department. Used Boxters are also very reasonably priced, usable enough, and delightful to drive.

01/01/2018 - 5:00pm With 19 starters gone from last year

2017 was always going to be some degree of a "lost season" of some variety. Everything that had to go wrong, did. And them some in the 2nd half against USC (NTUSC).

It feel like a complete gut-punch. I feel kinda sick and dizzy right now. This program is snakebit. Completely snakebit. And the 2018 schedule has us on the road against all our rivals (ND, MSU, OSU) and both Wisconsin and PSU come to Ann Arbor. We'll find more than 8 wins, but will they be in the high profile games, when it counts? I have my doubts.

Control the controllables: Change the offensive staff. We need details-oriented dedicated position coaches and an OC to create a cohesive offensive that suites the personel and can be grown and developed throughout the season. Even before Speight went out the offense smelled of a too-many-cooks approach that only had an identity when running over weak defenses with gap-schemes. The unconventional division of Michigan's offensive staff and responsibilities seems like a major factor (along with poor line calls and QB play).

09/24/2017 - 11:59pm Health

Assuming the full two weeks of practice from both, I think it will be close. I still have faith in the coaching staff that whoever steps on the field against the Spartans will perform well against a questionable secondary. They will be prepared and have the gameplan down.

I suspect it will be O'Korn since his quick-release and ability to extend plays with his feet are both huge assets behind our questionable pass protection. It seemed to me that the coaches had him reading the intermediate routes first (rather than going through the full high-to-low progression) in the second half. I suspect this was a potential gameplan adjustment regardless of who was under center - but it's something I wanted to see. Our deepest options this year are true freshman (Black - get well soon! and DPJ) or a true sophomore who's shown little aptitute at adjusting to the deep ball (Crawford).

The shallower routes have Perry and a platoon of blocky-catchy types running free for 10 yards on the majority of plays. If we can hit those and sustain drives it'll take heat off the running game, which in turn will allow us to pound the rock more. Once the offense starts staying on schedule the play-action deep shots will pop open as they roll safeties up and leave a corner 1-on-1 with DPJ.

It's amazing how when stuff isn't working on offense, nothing works - but when anything works enough to dictate a response from your opponent, the whole playbook works.

04/03/2017 - 6:00pm Absolutely

Red has absoutely earned the right to linger around the program in a different capacity - in fact that would be what's best for the program. Sadly, I think it's clear that his best days as a coach are a few years behind him. If he can't step down gracefully, then he'll have to be forced out. "All the wise men know when it's time to go and so I should too"

The CCM line last year was a vintage good time, but North Dakota made it clear how even in highest of up years Michigan will still be second tier until we overhaul the program.

03/14/2017 - 12:32pm Youngster here!

The oldest car I've 'owned' (my dad's name was on the title) was a 1992 Oldsmobile Bravada. I think we spent more time under the hood than we did driving it... But on the plus side it had remote start, heated seats, and one of the earliest electronic AWD drive systems, so it was excellent in the snow.

The oldest car I've driven was a 1989 Honda CRX with some B-series engine from a mid-90s CRV swapped into it. Had a stage 3 clutch- so stiff I thought I was going to break the seat pushing on it. It wasn't fast but it revved well and it was surprisingly responsive. Sadly it was too much of a project for me, since I didn't have a garage at the time.

The oldest car with my new on the title is a 2000 BMW 528i touring (wagon). I actually drove it to work today.

12/11/2016 - 1:06pm Insurance Policies

The negs are probably coming in because:

1. We're biased and want him back next year.

2. He can take out a term (1-year) insurance policy on himself to payout in the event of a career ending or very compromising injury. I'm not sure that it was officially confirmed but I've heard that both Taylor Lewan and Jake Long did this when they returned for their senior years following late 1st / early 2nd round draft grades.

3.  5th in Hiesman voting? I'm cool with Lamar Jackson winning it after putting up video game numbers... But Dede and Mayfield are not half of what they are without the other and putting both of them ahead of Peppers was just highway robbery. I think he's frustrated with it. We're frusterated with it. There's no reason to believe that Peppers won't be a finalist next year.

4. He wants his degree and it doesn't sound like he'll be done this winter / spring. He's a bright kid and might only need 1 more semester but that would be fall '17.

5. For the NFL he's a tweener right now. His coverage isn't up to snuff to be an elite safety (but the potential is there), but his ability to take and get off of blocks isn't up to playing linebacker. Versatility is nice and all, but the NFL demands that you excel at ONE POSITION - all others be damned. Peppers is the type of generational talent who excels in college, but will just be another starter in his position for a few years in the NFL. I have no doubts that he grows into a great role somewhere, but it may take some time. If he can display the skills necessary to excel in a singular role in the NFL I suspect he'll go in the first 5 picks. If not, he's gonna be a 1st/2nd round tweener cause teams don't really know where to slot him.

EDIT:  All that said, I support whatever choice he makes for his life. I don't think there's a "wrong decision" here.

10/17/2016 - 12:03pm The computers are over-valuing the destruction of Rudgers


I think 3+ touchdown win in EL is imminent. McDowell will make some plays, but if you keep him bottled up (or run away from him) we'll be able to run the ball, control the tempo, and set up deep play-action against a suspect secondary left on an island.

Given our defensive acumen and State's offensive woes there's no reason for the game plan to not be simple and conservative. The staff should focus on installing varied snap counts, and some screens and draws to blow up the blitzes they'll throw at us.

We'll go into halftime up 10+ and a score on 2 of our first 3 possessions in the 3rd whole the defense locks down will end it for Sparty.

The Buckeyes look mortal and would've lost had they missed 3 FGs (not that it's good to miss those). Michigan's offensive brain trust will find ways to move the ball and get points on the board. The D-line MUST stay healthy, but Don's Dude crew should be able to limit the Ohio run game enough to force JT to air it out into an elite secondary that will get their share of breakups and at least one pick. That should be enough to win... but the game is played on the field and anything over a 55% shot feels like too much in Columbus.

10/13/2016 - 1:25pm Freddie Mercury and...

I'm with the crowd that says it's Freddie then everyone else. No discredit or disrespect. Go watch Queen at Live Aid or Live At Wembly Stadium. No one in the history of video could command a crowd of that size like that man.

Peak era (early 1980s) David Lee Roth was in a similar neighborhood, but that was always destined to be temporary.

Some that aren't getting enough love:
Jimi Hendrix
James Brown
Bruno Mars
Johnny Cash
BB King
Buddy Guy

Just because their name is on the marquee and they don't necessarily play 'rock' doesn't make them any less worthy or any more of a 'pop tart'.

We also seem to have a vintage slant as I haven't seen any mentions of:
Jack White (particularly in his White Stripes form)
Matthew Bellamy (Muse)

09/18/2016 - 10:39am Holy adjustments Batman!

The adjustments made all the difference in this one. Colorado came ready to play and seemed to know how Michigan was going to attack them on both sides of the ball. What they weren't prepared for was Michigan's talent and fight.

Even so, if Liufau recovers quickly this could be a PAC12 South run for them. They miss Washington in the cross-over and I don't really see them running with Stanford, but every other team on their schedule looks like someone they can at least run with. These could definitely be more of an 8-4 to 10-2 kind of unit; rather than the 6-6 we thought them to be (or 4-8 before the season). Their DL and cornerbacks give them a chance to frustrate teams without divierse athletes and playbooks, and if they can keep that deep passing game going they've got a proper RPS (run-pass-screen if you will) offense that can burn even the best teams a couple times.

Offensive coaching from Michigan looked top-notch after adjustements came in. Still, it was frustrating and surprising to see a team be able to matchup with both Darboh and Chesson... They had no answers for Butt in coverage though, and our edge blocking (after being rickety at best against UCF) ripped open some big holes for the RBs and jet-sweeps.

All-in-all I think this was a great game to have early in the season. There's plenty of coachable moments caught on film for the team to analyze and improve upon. Plenty of weaknesses exposed that our offensive and defensive braintrusts will now find ways to schematically mitigate. It wasn't fun watching our boys in blue struggle, but they've got a much clearer picture of what and how to improve from this game than I think we've seen in a W for a while.

09/18/2016 - 10:14am A tale of 2 Quarters

The Defense was really a tale of two quarters - the 2nd quarter just stretched through the rest of the game.

It looks to me like Don Brown started the game running unconventional allignments and bringing pressure. As a result our coverage was subpar since we were bringing 5 and often alligned in a suboptimal way to get our safeties out in coverage. Colorado came out prepared for this and attacked the edges, ran away from pressure, and was the first team we've played that blocked well.

Following a rather disastrous couple of drives we started lining up a bit more conventionally and forced Colorado to play 11-on-11; which they simply don't have the talent to do consistantly, using the various pressures as a change-up. This allowed Peppers to be a sower of destruction along one edge, which eliminates half of the spread playbook - with the DL eliminating another large chunk up the middle.

I was extremely impressed with the discipline of our DL. They bottled up a fairly good running QB after two weeks of letting them find a seem for 1st down scrambles. And they did it without having to resort to keeping a LB or DB as a spy.

The only real sore spot was the coverage. There was some poor angles and weak tackles that Colorado capitalized on. Even so I thought Jermey Clark looked excellent, Stribling picked it up as the game went on, and Hill was excellent when not asked to cover their #1 reciever 1-on-1 deep. We defniitely felt the lack of JD in this one. JD would've broken up a solid 2-3 passes and locked down one of their recievers. Despite his size, he's also shown to be an asset against the run.

Still the 38-7 three-quarters of the game is pretty good evidence that this is an elite defense that got caught lunging and lounging a bit to start, but picked it up heroically through the rest. This was a good test; there'll be plenty to go over in the film room, but reinforcements are coming and they'll lock down 95% of your plays regardless.

08/23/2016 - 4:42pm Compact (but NOT subcompact) car probably?

As a post-grad 20-something I've generally found that the day-to-day needs of myself and/or my peers/friends/etc is best served by a "compact" car. If you're biggest priorities are safety (including bad weather handling, etc), gas mileage and <$30k price tag I would look into the following (no particular order):

Mazda 3

Honda Civic

Subaru Impreza

All offer 35+ mpg highway. All do well on even the most damaging of small-overlap crash tests. Each has their advantages / disadvantages.  I presonally like the Mazda of that bunch, but even other choices like the Focus are very nice choices.

If you want to stretch your budget into "family sedan" territory then:

Chevy Malibu

Honda Accord

Kia Optima

Mazda 6

Subaru Legacy

A bit less city mileage and bit more money up front but again 35+ mpg highway, and all of them are fairly safe. I took all my picks from Car & Driver's "Best Sedans" list except the Subarus. I know that Subaru adapted to new safety regulations for small-overlap and corkscrew roll crash tests earlier and better than most others (safe) and the AWD is a big advantage during the snowy months. The interior might be a little more basic, but that sounds like it would be OK by you.

So there's 8 cars. I'd recommend hitting dealer lots for a Saturday (with a friend - dealers will try to pressure you into BUYING TODAY if you have the wife with you), test driving all of them, scratching a few off the list and narrow it down. Make it clear that you're a serious BROWSER trying to make the right choice FOR YOU and that you're not going to buy today because "this is the first car I've looked at" (little white lie after the first one, but still).

Once you've narrowed it down to 2 or 3 spend some time with the online configurators and try to figure out which one is the right value. And also look at them and figure out which one you might have to look over your shoulder at every time you walk away. That feeling is hard to put a price on.  :p

07/23/2016 - 11:25pm The Hold Steady, Flaming Lips, MBV, Okkervil River

I can certianly get behind a lot of a Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Muse lists. I'm hoping I can contibute something, uhhh, different. Probably

The Hold Steady - Near as such to perfect 4-album run with:
Almost Killed Me
Seperation Sunday
Boys and Girls in America
Stay Positive

The Flaming Lips - 
The Soft Bulletin
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
At War With the Mystics

My Bloody Valentine (MBV) -
Isn't Anything

Okkervil River-
Black Sheep Boy
The Stage Names
The Stand Ins

Modest Mouse-
Lonesome Crowded West
The Moon and Antartica
Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Kill the Moonlight
Gimme Fiction
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
A Ghost Is Born

05/18/2016 - 12:28am Global Economy

As someone who works in the auto industry and has experience with several tier-1 suppliers and OEMs I can say with some authority that the most "American" car you can buy is...

The Toyota Tundra (dun! dun! dun!!!!):

It's engineered almost entirely in the US at the Toyota Technical Centers in Ann Arbor and Saline, assembled in Texas, and roughly 98% of the components are made in the US- including those made by suppliers, who support the engineering at TTC in Michigan. I've heard (somewhat unsubstantiated) rumors that Toyota Coorporate in Japan wants to kill the Tundra because it never makes back its development cost (AKA- the money goes to Ann Arbor to develop the next one and none is left over for Japan) at it's current production / sale rate. The only reason they've kept it around is that they need to be a "full line manufacturer" in the United States and Canada and in order to have that title you must have a full-size pickup truck in the range.

All that said, personally I have no brand loyalty and care more about the way things drive. The only car I've picked out was a 2004 BMW 330i ZHP sedan that I've been piling miles on for the last 2.5-3 years. It's getting to be a bit of a money pit, but I'm willing to overlook that considering that it's ~12.5 years old (from manufactuing date) and has 177,000 on the clock. And it still drives better than anything you can buy new short of a Fiesta ST, and it's more comfortable.

Couple notes on BMWs though:

1.  They're premium sport coupes / sedans - NOT luxury cars. Even though they've gotten softer in recent years, they're still very harsh compared to most competition. They're meant to give you all the amenities of a luxury car and all the tactile enjoyment of a sports car in a reasonably practical (trunk, back seat, etc) package.

2. I would never own one out of warrenty unless you're good to wrench on it yourself 90% of the time and can afford to eat the cost the other 10%. They're not cheap to own, but the used ones are good value for money if you like how they drive (and boy do I).

As for the theme:

I'll never own a Prius:
I had one as a company car for a while and it was a special kind of dreadful. The interior erganomics were godawful for me, it's completely hopeless in the winter, and the steering / chassis dynamics were the worst of anything I've driven - modern or vintage. As a free service - I'll drive it 4 days a week. If I won one as a prize I'd sell it ASAP.

I'll never own a "conventional" (internal combustion engine) car with a CVT:
I didn't mind the Prius drivetrain, but this still applies there too... But my main experience with this comes from the Mitsubishi Mirage and a few Nissans I've had as rentals. The CVT absolutely neuters what could otherwise be a good driving experience. The engine roar being almost entirely unrelated the response of the vehicle (and the throttle at that) is almost entirely unacceptable. I will probably own an electric car at some point, but that's a different beast entirely (INSTANT TORQUE FTW).

I tend to avoid Audi, VW, and FCA.
I tend to seek out GM (both grandad's worked for GM), BMW, Porsche, Mazda, Honda, and Subaru

Though I'm currently considering a Ford Flex as it seems like the perfect vehicle for my band?  Or maybe an Acura RSX to split mileage with the Bimmer.

03/17/2016 - 9:25am Lighting..?

I suppose it would be good to improve the lighting and get rid of the drop ceilings - it looks like a shitty office building in that regard. Just open it up and throw some shop lights and BFF ceiling fans in there. The weightroom is a place of work. I would think Harbaugh's weigh room would be a place of honest blue collar work so lets make it look like the factory floor at FCA where they build the Viper - exceptionally clean, well-lit, but still industrial.

I'd rather spend an hour on the elliptical at Oregon's facilities, but if I'm gonna pump iron I don't see the benifit of walls of glass or skylights or whatever. Stuff like cleanliness, equipment availability (if the place is too small/crampped that is a problem) and airflow matter a lot more. 

02/16/2016 - 1:25pm My current whip is a '04 330i ZHP

For the uninformed in BMW gibberish the ZHP was a performance package offered on the post-revision e46 (2002-2006) BMW 3-series in all body style except the wagon. It basically brings it up to US-spec (because we got screwed, long story) e36 M3 performance, but in a much more refined package. This was officially done to give the performance-minded sedan buyer something since the e46 M3 was coupe and convertable only.

It gets some bigger wheels, factory-lowered suspension, a 6-speed stick, and some nice trim. Mine pretty much looks like this - from 20 feet away, when it's clean:


Anyway. It's been a wonderful machine. I've piled 53,000 miles of commuting, travel, "canyon" driving, and track abuse (only once) on it in the almost 2.5 years I've had it.

Never the less, it has a few (!!! not just one !!!) flaws:
1 - The seats could use a hint more lumbar support.

2 - The climate control has a mind of its own when it comes to activating (FULL BLAST!) or deactivating (minimum fan) defrost.

3 - No folding rear seat.  The truck is reasonably sized and I've wedged 2x4s diagnolly across the interior before...  so it's quite practical for something that goes like it does... But it would be BETTER with folding seats.

4 - It loves to eat tires. My first set of summers made it less than two full driving seasons.

EDIT:  The real 'big' one:

A relay in the power locks logic likes to stick in warm/muggy weather which makes it so that you cannot unlock any door except the driver's door. I've forgotten about it since I haven't experienced that one since October. I've got a junkyard-sourced lock unit I just need to salvage a couple relays out of...  won't be too hard.

The only other problem is that she's getting old. '04 was 12 years ago...  172k miles and counting (at ~22.5k / year). Maintenance has been surprisingly reasonable though. Parts aren't any worse than any other import brand, it's pretty easy to work on, and I've found a good local indie shop. I'm planning on rolling 'er out to 250k. ^__^

02/16/2016 - 1:22pm ZHP BUDDIES ^_^

I'm running a square stance - 245s on all wheels, and it really helped with the handling. The turn in is much crisper than it used to be.  Even so, I imagine the Porsches would be better drivers' cars, but worse "owners" cars. Sounds like a lot of sweat, blood, and gears.

02/16/2016 - 1:17pm My guess on the offers.

My guess on why his offer list seems so short is a mix of a couple things:

1 - Early in the cycle, so lots of places are after "their guy" for fit. Dylan just happens to be Michigan's guy.

2 - A lot offers, even if thrown his way, were probably not taken seriously by the McCaffrey family and therefore not widely discussed. Don't "offer lists" mostly come from prospects and their families, rather than being advertised by the programs?

01/27/2016 - 1:00am I hate to do this but...

Pink Floyd was my favorite band for many years growing up.  It's "Comfortably Numb" and The Wall was released in November of 1979. Pink Floyd's peak era is quinessentially 1970s. I realize that there are several spectacular live cuts of that partiuclar song from the 80s though, so I'll give you this:

And I must say. I approve.

Anyway!  Back on topic:

Quinessential 80s:

Aha - "Take On Me" - Great song, fantastic music video
Dexty's Midnight Runners - "Come on Eileen"

J.Geils Band - "Centerfold"

Micheal Jackson - Thriller (song, album, yes)
Van Halen - 1984

There's lot of excellent, excellent music that was released in the 80s but from my retrospective a lot of that came from legacy of the 1970s (Queen, Floyd, AC/DC, etc) or was unkowingly laying the groundwork for the 1990s (REM, The Pixies, The Stone Roses, Sonic Youth, MBV, arguably U2etc).

*I was born in 1988 and memories of pre-1995 or so show no awareness of society as a whole.

01/24/2016 - 2:35am No snow in Dearborn

No fresh powder in Dearborn.

Drinking Crown Royal Mapel on the rock (1 ice cube) and water (seperate glasses).

Glad to see BB pull away there at the end. Enjoyed a great show at the Lager House. All-in-all a great Saturday.  :)

EDIT:  Had some Hopslam tonight!  Need to go pick some up while it lasts!  :D
Figjam too!

01/11/2016 - 11:57pm Fair

But I couldn't cheer for anyone in that game. FSU is just one of those teams I just...  ugh. And while I could get behind Auburn I wanted the SEC Championship streak to end.

But that was a phenominally played game.

01/11/2016 - 11:50pm Best Championship game in years

I think the last one like this was (post 2010 season) Auburn - Oregon.  A game of two offenses that was tight and back-and-forth.

Still Clemson just looks mentally dull in their secondary and now coverage units...

That offense is something to behold, but unless they can stop 'bama scoring it's not gonna make much difference.

01/02/2016 - 6:57pm I had us at 8-4, so clearly this exceeds those expectations.

I had us at 8-4 right from the hiring. During the spring I though that might be a bit optimistic given the QB situation and that we hadn't put together a proven tailback based running game in years, but I stuck by it.

After the Rudock transfer I started to have a bit more confidence that whoever started at QB had earned it rather than just being the best bad option available. By the beginning of the season I was starting to think that 8-4 was pestimistic and 9-3 was probably more in line with reality. But the way we got there was quite a ride.

Against Utah the team looked unfinished, but the composure in a night game, on the road, was refreshing after the last couple years.

The offense took a while to find itself but the defense looked completely overwhelming. As the defensive dominence lessened and special teams started returning to Earth the passing offense started to click. By the kickoff in Happy Valley this felt like a proper Michigan team - one that just finds ways to win no matter what strength or weakness was getting exposed. The regular season ended with a defensive breakdown I'd rather not remember or recount, but otherwise it was a damn fine 11 games.

Upon seeing the matchup with Florida I felt we had a pretty good chance to break out the champange a second time in one day; but that performance exceeded my wildest dreams. I figured it was going to be a defensive slugfest where a kick coverage issue (Florida has scored on returns this season) and a few Harris scrambles kept the Gators in it while our offense plugged away in a mildly more efficient fashion. Then our line started opening holes and tailbacks cut decisively into them and refused to go down on first contact. Our recievers shook open with help from Ruddock's eyes and pump-fakes leading defenders to the wrong routes; dissecting maybe the best secondary we've encounted all year. The defense held up their end of the bargin after gaining confidence on an INT in the enzone, keeping the Gators out of scoring range for most of the remaining minutes. It was confirmation that we're going to right direction and (unlike 2011) we didn't have to get lucky to do it.

My expectations for '16 are now much higher than they were six months ago. Find a few key pieces on offense and some linebackers and this feel like a Big 10 championship, and in turn, a playoff year. But I'll probably keep my expectations at a 10-win regular season. ;)

12/31/2015 - 2:10am WISKY to celebrate WISCY holding on!

Congrats to the Badgers surviving a major screwjob by the refs.  The better team won tonight.

12/08/2015 - 1:42pm There are two main ingredients to beating spread to run teams:

1. Offense: possess the ball for a long as possible and punch it in when you get into the red zone. The best way to do this is a Stanford-like run game that takes advantage of the types of players (smaller, faster) spread teams tend to recruit on both sides of the ball. Go heavy, block everyone but a safety and grind out 5-yards with constraint plays being primarily short passes to tight ends - especially if you can get them mismatched on a CB or safety.

These possessions "shorten" the game and being a "strong" offense (rather than a "fast" offense) lends itself to this.

2. Defense: dominate the line of scrimmage by either getting players through to disrupt the plays in the backfield OR by eating up all the available blockers. This is why double A-gap blitzes or a 'Bear' defense is so effective. You have to rely on your corners holding up without support, and you will occasionally give up a big play downtrend, but this takes away the big run plays that spread to run thrives on.

In theory a "fast" offense wants to score from outside the red zone on big plays. If you take away their preferred big play (the run) and get pressure to prevent long - developing plays to form downfield they'll be forced into dinking and dunking, which is usually unsustainable.

12/04/2015 - 9:36pm MD has a couple run-first QBs

I honestly think this is more of a question of properly utilizing the personnel Durkin is inheriting at MD. The Terps had a decent run game against some of the more average defenses on the schedule and their QBs had some wheels while being turnover machines through the air.  It makes sense to structure that team to be an effective run-first offense.

With the talent level at MD and likely to be attracted to them in the coming years, it won't look or feel anything like OSU, but it will probably allow them to have a fairly effective offense with a lot of two and three star talent (with a few stand-out players here and there).

As for the Durkin favoring Meyer's offense rather than Harbaugh's; I probably would too. Meyer's offense is fundamentally/conceptually simple while Harbaugh's is fundamentally complex. The main advantage of Harbaugh's offense in the future will be that it's an outlier. A rare offensive scheme run with top level athletic and intellectual talent will be neigh-impossible for opposing defenses to prepare for.

If Maryland wants to help Michigan warm up for OSU every year - let em.

11/10/2015 - 12:25pm I know there was an era when

I know there was an era when the used to retire ocean-going vestiles to the Great Lakes but then a lot of them broke up because of the choppy nature of the waves in the 'Lake caused metal fatigue so much faster than the swells of the ocean. The thought was that the fresh water didn't erode the hulls so they'd last longer with less maintainance and that you're usually closer to aid (shore, other ships)  than you would be on the oceans.

There were a rather surprising number of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes during the 50s, 60s and into the 70s due to ships spontaniously breaking up when caught in the storms. Obviously the navigational aides of the time were also far worse (especially in stormy conditions) but aides don't stop your hull breaking apart from the waves.

I'd beleive a lot of the WWII era vestles that still traverse the 'Lakes were built more to military rather than civilian spec, and are far more durable as a result.

I don't know if the Edmund Fitzgerald was of that era of thinking or not - but it was purpose-built as a Great Lakes freighter. If I recall correctly the main (suspected) culprit was the design of the cargo hatch seals, which in large swells could cause the Fitz to take on some water. Under most circumstances the ship had enough pump capacity to deal with this, but this was a particularly bad storm. The additional ballest caused additional loading well beyond the rated capacity of the ship, which coupled with the waves resulted in strutural failure. It's known that the ship broken in two, but it's believed that the split actually happened as or (immidiately) before the ship capsized.

But I was just really into shipwrecks for a little while as a kid.  I'm no navel architect.


10/13/2015 - 1:43pm Coach?

Maryland is definitely and underachiving football program right now, but UA money won't solve the problem itself.  Remember that Hoke and much of his staff was paid top-flight money. Elite paychecks do not make elite coaches - but elite coaches earn their paychecks.

Honestly, if I was Maryland's AD right now I know who my #1 coaching candidate would be.

Who is used to running the #4-#5 program in an extrememly tough P5 division?

Dan Mullen.

I'm not sure that Mullen could make Maryland elite, but he'd get them back to 7+ wins / year and he's one of the few SEC coaches that could be "bought out" from his school.  Maryland is also more favorably located for recruiting; albiet marginally (more in-state talent, no Freeze). Somehow Virginia and New Jersey seem to turn out some of the absolute best football talent and Maryland is often in the conversation for them before they slip away to better coaches/programs.

If UA wants to write a big enough check to get 'em, I would think that he'd by the guy.

10/06/2015 - 5:48pm WHITE SNAKE!?!?!?!

That was the Scopions.

And I'm 26.

Comeong man!

09/04/2015 - 9:30am The Team, The Team, The Team

The most encouraging thing about this game was the way the team held together in spite of misques here and there. Against excellent D-lines (Utah's is probably the best we'll face until the last two weeks of the season against PSU and OSU) the playcalling and passing game need to correct a bit sooner and I'm not sure we're putting some of our best players on when we need to (Bunting or Hill vs. Williams on a few of those passing downs would've been good).

Some small sample-size high-varience things went wrong in a road night-game environment. The turnovers are what ultimately killed us. Had the pick-six drive gone for a fieldgoal I think we would've won this game. But the lower variance things - like grinding out yards, sustaining drives, and bottling up big plays from key opposing players - were very promising.

It was also highly exciting to see a 2-minute drill that actually looked and felt like a 2-minute drill.

08/20/2015 - 3:03pm Hmmmm.

My gut says that Malzone probably won't be a starter for a whole season with the possible exception of his true senior / redshirt junior or redshirt senior year. And even then, maybe not.

But I suspect that he'll be a #2 guy for several seasons (starting in '16) and will see a lot of field. I suspect he'll have his "hero" moment when he goes in for someone with either a minor injury or severe underperformance on the road and pulls out a "W" with moxie. This will mark his "arrival" and we might see him starting after that.

Regardless I'm very glad he's part of the program. In a couple years having a guy like this in the backup QB position sets the floor pretty high. Especially in a complex system like the Harbaughfense.

02/25/2015 - 7:20pm We ought to have a Mgomotorhead meet

We ought to have a Mgomotorhead meet. Friday evening before a home game in September, when it still stays light into the evenings and the weather's not (usually) too bad (or we could find a parking garage to hide in).

Sounds like Bo had a fine-tuned classic, Mo tweeked it but didn't change it fundamentally, Lloyd did the best he could.  Rich tried to take it a different direction and slowly worked it back to being successful, then Brady tried to take it back to stock, ignoring a lot of the helpful mods that had been made over the year.  Removing the coil-overs and fancy modern stuff in favor of the classic way. Jim's gonna make 'er into a Pro Stock Resto-Mod. No bulky, heavy, outdated big blocks here.  We're gonna take an all-aluminum LS.  Yes, it's fuel injected, but it's still a classic fire-breathing V8, replacing that old finicky charborated big block Brady put in 'er after pulling out the turbo Toyota 2JZ Rich left in there, even though it did win a lot of races those first couple seasons.


01/19/2014 - 5:05am Actually

Very yes.  Brady does a brilliant job of working underneith to find open recievers with optimal timings when they should be open in the zones...  I think Gallon could really thrive in that culture.

Of course, I wish him well wherever he goes.  (^__^)

01/08/2014 - 10:09pm Jaw, I'm very happy to

Jaw, I'm very happy to introduce you to Floor.  I expect that you two will get to know eachother quite well in the coming seasons.

01/05/2014 - 8:21pm Lies

Rear-wheel drive vehicles are the MOST fun in this weather.  That doesn't mean they're the easiest or safest (far from it), but fun rarely (if ever) coorlates with safety or ease.

Basically it comes down to three things:

1 - Attitude - is it exciting or is it scary?

2 - Tires - Rear wheel drive cars/trucks pretty much require snow/ice tires in the winter.

3 - Limit Handling of the vehicle - assuming you can get moving and brake (which relies on the tires) effectively, the reduced traction in these conditions reduces the speeds and inputs (to throttle and/or brakes) at which you encounter your vehicles limit handling characteristics.  This is where there's potential for loads of fun depending on your car's behavior.  As someone who's driven RWD pickup trucks in the winter before, it can be no fun at all.  But as someone who currently drives a BMW 3-Series on Blizzaks (snow tires), it can be a total joy.

01/05/2014 - 8:04pm The worst I attended was 2008 Northwestern

Cold, rainy, nasty and a sloppy football game on both sides to boot.  Gah.

12/29/2013 - 1:45pm I can get behind the

I can get behind the psychologist idea.  If anything I'd rather see the program put money there rather than giving the coaching staff any raises for a dismal season.  If anything I'd like to see them pick up a small group of psycologists who would interact with both the players and coaching staff and be available at most hours of the day or night (in some capacity).  Student-Athletes are incredibly busy, so having psycological staff available with bankers hours would (probably) not have the desired effect.

12/29/2013 - 1:15pm Meh

After a season such as this it's temping to gather everyone and encouraging them to bring their pitchforks and torches so we can burn the whole mess down and start anew.

I'm not in denial, nor delusional about this team.  This season was agonizing in much the same way that 7-6 in 2010 was agonizing.  The main differences are that we're now trending "the wrong way" (11-2, 8-5, 7- 6) as the costs of transition and attrition hit us from the coaching change, and that we lost 4 of those 6 games in close, defensive, painful, fashion.

The ranks of the upperclassman have been heavily depleted.  Someone posted a diary showing that inner OL experience correlates directly with success running the ball. Guess where we've got RS Freshman....  It's one season, and there weren't really other options.

The class of 2010 yielded a couple key contributors in Devin Gardner and Jake Ryan, and a few other solid players (Dileo, Avery), but was something like a 75% bust including only ONE OL.

The only thing that's been a constant irritation in Hoke's three years is offensive inconsistancy which has been generally attributed to Borges. Everything else has seemed solid until this year and there's a TON of things factoring into it.  A million papercuts.  I agree that Hoke looks clueless in losing, but there aren't many coaches who look even remotely graceful in that situation until they redeem themselves with wins later.  I do think there's a certain amount of truth behind the idea that Hoke isn't a hard-edged diciplinarian or cold, calculating master-mind of a coach.  But if the players get behind him he's already proven that he can and will win football games.  If nothing else we, as a program, probably need to let Hoke run out his contract (unless he ties his fate to that of Borges) and carefully set up the next coaching hire to work as a progression rather than a succession from the players abilities.

And if you want to Hoke to get the ax so badly, who would you propose as a replacement, and who would you like/expect to see as their assistants?

12/14/2013 - 3:02pm I agree with the original poster...

Fuck this year in Michigan sports.  I'm sick of watching our teams performing just well enough that I'm emotionally attached to every. last. fucking. loss.

I mentally understand that these close losses are better than getting blown out because they mean that the program is still within an arms-reach of the top.  But emotionally speaking this is turning into pure agony.  I think I'm done watching Michigan sports till the bowl game...  the wins just feel hollow and empty and that losses keep demolishing my emotional well-being.

(not that I expect the bowl game to be any different)

12/14/2013 - 12:29pm It's almost like they made that rule change just to screw Morgan

Seriously...  It feels like they watched the Syracuse game last year in the tourney and decided that "stand in a place and get run into" should be penalized with free throws.  >__<

12/08/2013 - 3:27pm WTF is with the refs.

Two terrible calls in a row.  Total garbage.  Even the taling heads are saying that they didn't see how those were called...  Zonkeys man...  Gifting the Eagles 8 points.  SMH

11/26/2013 - 12:25pm OL is the key

Ultimately the key to Michigan's offensive woes the last two seasons have centered almost exclusively around the offensive line.  In 2011 we had the good fortune of our center being a Rimmington award worthy guy who was also a real leader and disciplinarian  to the rest of the OL.  This opened up holes for two 1000+ yard rushers and established the run game to allow for play-action passing and held up the pocket for enough time for deep routes to develop.

While I wouldn't come close to claiming that I approve of how the offense is running, there've been plenty of times that "execution" has been the problem.  Gallon and Funchess had some drops on reasonably thrown balls that would've been conversions...  And that's about the only thing our porous OL allows for.  Which leaves us without a run game or the option to let deeper passing plays develop.  The only thing we can really try to do is take the short routes, which teams are starting to tee-off on looking for a pick-six. 

The only way an offense could be successful with Michigan's current level of execution would require a whole-sale dedication to a system that negates those weaknesses - which would be a whole different offense.  Our problem is that we keeping trying to go wholesale MANBAWL, finding it doesn't work, and half-heartedly installing other elements.  I also hate our emotional resistance to using tempo to our advantage.  I understand huddling and burning clock some of the time, but I think we'd have a lot more success running the ball on 1st down if (following a conversion) we rushed to the line and pounded Green right up the middle.  Do that a few times and you'd even be able to pull out the dreaded waggle for a shot at the enzone when you're around mid-field (again, no huddle, after a 1st down conversion.  Don't give the defense time to think).  Given our snail-like pace the rest of the time, just going no-huddle for a down here and there would be incredibly effective.

I'm not sure exactly where the blame lies for any of this.  I still think Hoke is our guy and I'm a huge supporter of our defensive staff.  Though I have a few reservations about their subsitution policies I think they're doing an excellent job developing young players into stars, and it will start paying big as soon/long as the offense is functional.  Hopefully you'll see something new on Saturday...  I'm not sure that I can even bring myself to watch.

11/23/2013 - 4:32pm meh

The defense continues to perform at a solid-B level.  Given all the turnovers and Frank Clark's penetration today I'd go so far as to give it a B+ even.  The defensive touchdown at the beginning of the game more or less offsets Iowa's long scoring drive to start the 2nd half in my book.

They were a little softer than I'd like on a YPP basis, but they made up for it by being very opportunistic with turnovers.  They put the offense in a position to win the game repeatedly and even put points on the board.

The only way to really criticize the defense is saying that they could've been truly elite and shut down Iowa on a few key plays late. If you have Michigan State's defense that's a much stronger arguement...  this defense is still pretty young and inherently soft in places by no fault of the coordinators.  Youth, occasional miscommunication, and some RPS losses at key moments continue to hold them back.  But with a little help from the offense in the second half I have little doubt that they could've held Iowa to 21 points MAXIMUM.  They just never got any help.

10/23/2013 - 9:15pm What Ceiling?

While I might agree that this year's edition of the Michigan Wolverines has a ceiling, I think I would vehemently disgree that it resembles Brady Hoke's ceiling...  The upper classes are relatively depleted, especially in the trenches but the young recruiting classes have been monsters.  If Borges stops fighting his personel and is willing to roll with Gardner in the passing game, for better or worse, we've got plenty of wins left in us. I think this is an 9 to 11 win team (including bowl / B1G championship).

2012 was a scheduling anomaly in a rebulding year.  We lost to the top three teams in the nation (on paper), a road game without our senior QB, and a bowl game against a top-10 team that could've gone either way.  I think 8-5 teams are this staff's (Hoke and Mattison) floor at Michigan.

I'm not sure we'll really feel the loaded classes until 2015, but we should be totally ready to ran with the best at that point.  These things take time.

This year still feels similar to how it did at the beginning...  There's not a single game on the schedule we can't win (I might feel differently if ohio was on the road, but home games ftw), and we're out of any we can't lose (except, we almost did).

I also expect that we'll only know two things about this team (better) after East Lansing:

1-  Can our defense hold firm against moose-running?

2-  How much our offense can open things up on an elite defense...  IF we don't get wrecked in the gameplan.

10/09/2013 - 11:17pm What makes you think it will be?

I think I agree with you wholeheartedly that the tackle over package probably isn't going to work on the better defenses in this conference.  It should be reasonably effective against the bad ones left on the schedule (Indiana, Nebraska, MAYBE Iowa) and the one with an undersized line (Northwestern)...  I could see it not working AT ALL against State or Ohio, and to a lesser degree, Penn State.

The good news is that we haven't run much for counter-plays out of it yet (really) and it's relatively ripe for those as long as everyone else can hold their own (and teams have to sell out to stop it). Additionally, based on the ND gameplan, Borges is perfectly willing to go after weaknesses in a teams secondary if that's where the weakness lie.  If anything I think we're in a better position to go pass-happy now with Funchess roaming around at WR.  I think we can run legit 3-reciever sets all day with either Gallon / Funchess / Chesson or Gallon / Funchess / Dileo.  Though this was a rough game for Chesson I still think he's trending upward...  though I'd also like to see The Threat deployed more too.

09/25/2013 - 2:32pm Simply the playbook and pass to set up the run.

We need to wittle down the running-game playbook some so that we have 2-3 "base" running plays that we can install counters to.  Right now it feels like a grab-bag. Given the potential our passing game has flahsed I think RB draws would be wise coupled with more "easy" passes on 1st down.  If we're going pistol I'm not sure why we can't get Kerridge some out routes in the flat, or Gallon some hitches.  It doesn't even have to get to the sticks, just put us in 2nd and 5 sometimes.  Then we can start playing the run game off the pass game.  Or PA it downfield.

Other stuff:  Borges is a pass-guru type, yeah?  He should find ways to get Funchess and Butt matched up with DBs as much as possible.  Especially in the pass game, but certainly in blocking as well.  Though that may make Funchess's blocking selection problem even worse...

But inside they just need to narrow it down.  Get the line narrowed down to as few different designed blocking assignments as possible on a few plays, then throw differenet defensive allignments and stunts at them and teach the right adjustments for those few plays.  I'd rather see a DeBordian run game that can grind out 3 yards against any defensive front that isn't cheating to kill it than this grab-bag that goes -2, -2, -1, 4, -2, -3, +23...  If it has to be set up by the pass, then so be it.  We should be able to manage that (in theory).

06/15/2013 - 1:38pm Yes and No

It seems like Al has real trouble scheming around poor offensive line play.  He seems to be able to coach skill players up and adjust his offense to them reasonably well, but if the battle is being lost in the trenches history shows he has trouble adjusting.  Which cooreponds rather well with what we've seen in his two years here.

Since Michigan has been recruiting among the best offensive line classes in the country for a the last few years, and will probably continue to in terms of quality (if not the quantity we've seen) there's not soo much to worry about.  Every system works better with talent; that's pretty much a given.  At the D1 power-conference level every system other than spread-option (read-based) offenses require traditionally-talented (aka big, strong) football players.

The spread replaces some of the size and strength in favor of speed and agility and replaces some blocking with reads.  It's clever in that it opens up the playing field to smaller, faster players who traditionally had only niche rolls (if you were an OL prospect that would top out at 270ish, but could run a solid 40 and had good agility drills where the hell did you end up in a 'traditional' system - probably a move to defense?). And it's not like the spread-option doesn't work better with better players; see Oregon, 2010 Auburn, or Northwestern's year-on-year improvement as they bring in 4-stars lately...  Spread-option (read option) based offesnses just shift the definition of what is optimal for players.

I suppose you could make the arguement that some coordinators / coaching staggs do a better job of developing players:  see Boise State for quite a run there...  But I would argue that's a complete coaching staff thing, rather than just the OC.  If Borges hasn't had much consistancy in his assistance coaching staffs, that probably explains some of the location-to-location, or even year-to-year variance as well.

But I don't think this diary was meant to summarize Al Borges's career as a success or failure or even to examine his strengths and weaknesses.  So far as I can tell it was about looking at his playcalling and personal adjustments with various teams in various states of "build" to get a sense of what we might be seeing going forward.  With Michigan's recruiting classes, the ceiling looks like a balanced offense that is effecient converting 3rd downs and is among the best in-conference, and perhaps nationally, in scoring.  I'm not complaining.