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09/21/2018 - 10:52am He could recognize point 1…

He could recognize point 1 because he can point out the MIKE now...

Man, remember when that was a thing. Good times.

In all honesty, hearing DG talk about it would be interesting. A perspective based on the things he learned in his time at UM. 

09/18/2018 - 2:43pm Yeah, they could drop…

Yeah, they could drop divisions, but for the most part that takes away from the main benefit most of these schools get from having major athletics (it's the best advertising they have). So they could go that route, I doubt Wisconsin would (as I noted, I could see other schools doing something like that though)

09/18/2018 - 2:25pm To be fair, I don't think…

To be fair, I don't think every school would. There would certainly be some schools that would take the U of Chicago approach, or think about creating their own type of "amateur league"  with the Ivy's and Service Academies or whatever.

Wisconsin almost certainly wouldn't be one of those. Sports, football in particular, serve as the best advertising for these schools, Michigan included. The academics of some universities would stand well enough on their own (Wisconsin and Michigan likely included in that list), but that doesn't mean it would stand above what they get including NCAA athletics, paid or not.

But I could see a school like Northwestern, maybe a Cal or Stanford, Duke (for football anyway), Georgia Tech, Vandy to at least consider it. They may even do it under the additional gauze and pearl clutching of "we decided we didn't agree that the risks associated with football are worth benefits of keeping it", basically arguing that football is an outdated sport that shouldn't be continued. Again, it's money based, and they'll find a way to try to twist it into being on the right side.

Now, some of those schools may be willing to stay in the NCAA for Men's basketball, for instance. But I do think many would use it as an excuse to cut more non-revenue sports.

09/17/2018 - 9:50am Throwing the ball high on…

Throwing the ball high on the INT pass allows the DB to rake through his arms during the catch. That is not the time to throw high. The problem was the throw was late and McKeon did a poor job with body position and working back to the ball (he thought he had body position, which is why he didn't fight back for it; need better awareness of the defender).

09/14/2018 - 11:38am Great player for a long time…

Great player for a long time for the Red Wings, and agree with another poster that it's really that last connection back to "the good ol' days" when it comes to the Wings, so some nostalgia even for someone that didn't follow hockey extremely closely.

Not that the Wings are going anywhere any time soon, but last I followed hockey, I know with older players that retired before their contract was up, that the team basically ate that contract in terms of salary cap. Is this only going to further kill the Wings? Or is there something that has changed or a difference here that I'm not aware of?

09/14/2018 - 11:32am I'm not sure...

1) That…

I'm not sure...

1) That immediately issuing a noise violation is appropriate action for a police department, particularly in a college town on the first weekend of the school year where they will be going to dozens more situations exactly like this. Not the best way to form relationships with the people you are trying to serve

2) Handing out MIPs to dozens of people on the first weekend is bullshit. I am shocked - shocked - to find that underage drinking is going on here. Again, you want people to trust the police, you don't just hand out MIPs to everyone at a party underage for the sake of doing so. You do it for the people that are clearly in a bad situation or out of control, as required. They weren't at the house party because of "underage drinking", they were there because of a noise violation.

3) Arresting people in this situation seems way out of bounds. That is probably the worst way to handle it and would likely escalate other issues.

4) Was backup really needed? What benefit would backup have provided. I'm all for calling backup if it's needed for protection of people and property and what not. But just calling it in to call it in doesn't seem right.

This seems so far down the list of "issues occurring at MSU" it doesn't really register. The only real complaint is the difference with how Perry's name and Thompson's name were handled.

09/13/2018 - 10:01am Not a direct answer to the…

Not a direct answer to the question, but something to keep in mind.

OL are not necessarily cross-trained extensively. While it has been stated that JBB and Hudson both worked at LT throughout Spring and possibly into fall, much of the footwork and hand placement in pass protection and to a lesser degree in the run game is mirrored. So imagine brushing your teeth or wiping your butt with your opposite hand... it's pretty weird.

We are seeing this to a degree at MSU right now. Campbell, their traditional RT all of last year, has been playing LT. And his footwork is awful at LT. Clearly was not cross-trained enough. It isn't just a simple "it's a OT, so can be inserted at RT or LT" (I expect, at least to a degree, this is why Bredeson went from "almost LT" to "is a LG" and never really has been tried at RT over the course of a season; if he was tried during the off-season or not I don't know though).

09/12/2018 - 3:11pm He “killed” a play that JBB…

He “killed” a play that JBB false started on. So there are instances he is given multiple plays and the ability to check out based on D look.

09/12/2018 - 3:10pm This may set up a pop pass…

This may set up a pop pass PAP, but I’m doubtful it will set up an RPO. A few reasons

1) The RPOs we’ve seen to date are extremely simple reads. This would be an expensive read because it isn’t only the LB you’re concerned with, you also need to check the safety coming over the top

2) With this concept, it’s a quick hitting play. This means the mesh is relatively short and doesn’t provide much time for the play to develop and make a read. I could see a read of the backside DE, but the complexity of the read you’re talking about takes more time

3) Even OU, which runs a ton of RPO, does not RPO their Counter GT scheme. That’s a longer developing concept, but even then they feel the read is too expensive to get correct consistently. Typically for a playside pop pass RPO you need your receiver to gain some width to make the read clearer, and that isn’t the TE’s path here.

4) Given Harbaugh’s history, he’s going to run the run concept correctly, and not sacrifice it for a read. It’s not that he doesn’t run RPO, but if baseline is give he’s making sure it’s blocked up

09/12/2018 - 2:20pm This is also a set up to run…

This is also a set up to run influence wham/trap if they so desire, because it gets the D attempting to attack the gap vacated by the pulling FSG, and the 2nd/3rd level filling the C gap run lane, which opens up the straight ahead run scheme

09/12/2018 - 1:23pm A lot of teams tag this…

A lot of teams tag this scheme out of a pin and pull call if the TE can't reach the DE. That might be what Michigan was doing (though I'm guessing it was a game plan thing based on WMU, and specifically a reaction to how much they struggled getting the edge against Notre Dame)

09/11/2018 - 3:54pm I'm pretty sure he's saying …

I'm pretty sure he's saying "as a defensive coach, I know what stresses our defense. And these RPOs, with linemen downfield, do that. I don't think it's fair. I don't like the rule. But until it's changed, we are going to take advantage of that on offense because I know it makes it extremely difficult for the defense to stop." That's what I took from it.

09/11/2018 - 3:49pm As others have said, I don't…

As others have said, I don't really get the communist angle. Other than the classic communist = bad. I guess it could also mean that it equals the field for everyone rather than having things like skill and ability determine success.

That said, I agree with him on how bad it has gotten regarding linemen downfield. 3 yards is a huge buffer. It was put in there for play action purposes, but with how quick RPOs are, it can't be effectively enforced. This is an instance where I actually prefer the NFL rule of 1 yard downfield, because I think it makes it easier for refs to enforce and penalize when it's broken. That still allows for RPOs, but at least gives the defense a change.

3 yards, as is, with the depth LBs play at times, means LBs can be blocked on pass plays. And that is not true to the intent of the rules, but happens nonetheless.

I will say, on a similar topic, that I do like the college rule of allowing linemen downfield on passes completed behind the LOS, mostly because, for instance, a swing pass isn't significantly different than a pitch, so it's within the intent of the rules. So I don't really have a problem with that. It's really the vertical threat that is unfair to defenses (and this is coming from an offensive guy, so by all means, until they change the rule, take advantage of it).

09/07/2018 - 11:20pm You're correct on the one…

You're correct on the one near the goal line, which is almost certainly just a weakside Inside Zone (TE blocks backside; if TE was aligned strong, it would be split zone). 

But most of the game Patterson was reading OLBs. They ran an RPO with some hitches where he was doing it. They ran the little Now screen on most plays where he was looking for it. They may still mix in some traditional run calls where they don't want to allow the defense to dictate who gets the ball. I would expect this sort of thing inside the 20s where they are less apt to want a "read" to potentially put the O in a bad spot for a turnover or something.

09/07/2018 - 8:20pm Yeah Higdon has…

Edit: nothing more. Agree

09/07/2018 - 7:38pm It’s Harbaugh’s offense…

It’s Harbaugh’s offense. Harbaugh knee everything that was happening in SF, he isn’t a hands off let the OC do everything guy. He understands RPOs and read offense.

09/07/2018 - 7:37pm I mean, not to be overly…

I mean, not to be overly critical, but I disagree with some of Brian’s takes.

Michigan did run RPO. They didn’t prime pin and pull and throw a screen only to come back to pin and pull. The first one was an RPO. The second one was an RPO. There were different reads. An RPO doesn’t need to be a slant.

They read a DE on a bash read (which he identified when ND ran it but not Michigan). They ran a couple where they read the DE where there wasn’t an OLB to read. They didn’t run a ton of run-run-pass options, which most teams that run RPOs don’t but most fans have that conception when it comes to RPOs. 

I’ve given my thoughts on the speed option thing. I thought that was a really good play call. 

So i guess I just disagree they ran spread stuff incorrectly. They didn’t go super deep into the spread bag of tricks, and didn’t get very deep into the RPO stuff, but that’s to be expected because they do a lot of other stuff and getting into depth with those things becomes expensive to install.

09/07/2018 - 6:13pm Harbaugh ran a ton of spread…

Harbaugh ran a ton of spread stuff in San Francisco. QB run game with both zone and gap blocking. A bunch of RPO schemes. This idea that he doesn’t know spread stuff is demonstrably wrong.

09/07/2018 - 6:10pm This is correct. They are…

This is correct. They are blocking the DE because they are reading the OLB in coverage to get post snap numbers for whether to throw screen or run. Almost every shotgun run play or WR screen was an RPO. Some were pre snap “packaged plays”, many were post snap

09/07/2018 - 12:35pm The Power O play I don’t…

The Power O play I don’t think it’s a vision issue. He hit the gap, just late. Most likely it’s because he abandoned the A gap too early. Power O is an A gap run that bounces outside once it’s closed. Normally it is, and it eventually turns into a C gap run, but your first look has to be A. Looking at Higdon’s path, it looks like he started working out too soon before working back

On the zone play, backside C is a difficult cut to make. You’d like to see him make it, but with free rusher coming outside, he likely isn’t going to redirect and make that hole before getting tackled. JRJ needs to do better there and it’s a nice gain

09/07/2018 - 12:26pm I think this idea is pretty…

I think this idea is pretty mythical. There isn’t an offensive system that gets by in execution of 3 or 4 guys unless every play is a quick WR screen, which isn’t an offense. 

09/07/2018 - 12:25pm Because defenses often…

Because defenses often rotate coverage to the field and/or align their fronts to the field. A lot of teams are setting the edge to the boundary with a DE or safety coming from the hash, meaning a difficult angle. Therefore, while there’s less space to the short side, it is easier to leverage the defense to the boundary and get preferable matchups to the field (such as a CB being responsible for defending the run)

09/06/2018 - 4:28pm There's a lot here, but I'll…

There's a lot here, but I'll try to get to most of it without being terribly long winded.

I do think, in general, Harbaugh's schemes, or most pro-style type schemes, take more time to get good at. They are more reliant on experience because they ask you to do more things. It doesn't make them worse, in fact, they can be much better (which is why pro teams run them) but it typically is a balance between how much college kids can do and how fast they can learn it.

Now, Harbaugh is smart, his college playbook is much simpler than his NFL one was. This isn't his first rodeo. But yes, it can be more difficult still.

I wouldn't say Michigan recruits at the same level as OSU, but Oklahoma is probably similar. The biggest issue for Michigan is that the program has not been steady for the last decade. OSU has had a steady, rock solid foundation for the better part of two decades now (the Fickell year did not hurt OSU's foundation, and that team still had tons of talent). Oklahoma has had about the same. Those schools are much more akin to what Michigan once was, which is to say even when they had down years or injuries they still basically performed quite well. Michigan doesn't have that luxury anymore and needs to rebuild it, which takes time.

I don't think what you're saying is exactly right. Executing it isn't necessarily leaps and bounds more difficult than executing other stuff. But there is a mental game, and there is a lot to know, and in any scheme, you have guys that don't execute, and it can go belly up. 

09/06/2018 - 3:53pm Did I? I seem to remember…

Did I? I seem to remember saying I thought he was above average. I seem to recall arguing quite passionately that "play calling" was far from the primary issue, and that people were mostly focused on the wrong things and were too focused on "it didn't work so therefore it was bad."

You've loved to bring up "but you thought Borges" on my posts a lot, I've seen that, which I always find a little funny given how much the offense as a whole tanked as soon as he left. I never thought Borges was great, but damn he got scapegoated and damn, was I correct that there were bigger underlying issues. Like the primary one that I called out: OL issues, which, as evidenced by this team under a new staff, seem to greatly hinder an offense's success.

And it's also rather funny, because all the people that claimed all these other things that Borges didn't do would have greatly improved the offense... Michigan did a lot of those things against ND and it didn't greatly improve the offense. Scheming around a poor OL is tough, maybe you should recognize that by now. So strong argument.

And just to make this very clear: 

In Borges's last year at SDSU, he had the 13th ranked offense per FEI, then was 14th at Michigan in 2011. In 2013, UM's offense was very inconsistent, and still 44th. The next year they were 93rd without him. Nussmeier, who replaced him, who many hailed as a savior, had the 10th ranked offense before coming to Michigan and finishing 93rd. Harbaugh has had successful offenses everywhere he went, and struggled Saturday. But it's "play calling" that is the main problem, something that, as a talent, doesn't nearly vary from year-to-year and is fairly consistent given it's the same person year-to-year. It's mostly all the other things, that do in fact change. Stats seem to back that up again and again and again. That the theme, after everything we've seen from Michigan post-Borges, is still that Borges's play calling was the worst and the primary reason for problems, is laughable.

09/06/2018 - 3:48pm I think you could certainly…

I think you could certainly argue it.

09/06/2018 - 3:46pm No, you can run RPO from gap…

No, you can run RPO from gap/man as well. Most teams utilize zone, but that has more to do with what their base is than anything.

I wrote a post on that too. LINK 

09/06/2018 - 3:43pm You gotta click the link to…

You gotta click the link to go to youtube for some reason (NFL doesn't let it embed or something or other). 

Like I said, if the OT in that situation has to block the force defender, he typically releases straight out. A lot of teams will align a TE to that side of the ball so the OT can stay in longer and the TE can release, but not always. (Some teams will also adjust this based on typical defensive reaction, formation, etc.)

Here's an example of Michigan running it under Borges. The OT works upfield a bit to sell run, but never engages, and free releases out to the force defender to create the alley. The difference is mostly that the play action to the RB does a better job of holding the DE.

As for the other screens, I think they could have tried a few other RB screens, but generally it's difficult because ND was playing their SS in the box and a lot of man coverage. And the safeties weren't really threatened over the top and were playing flat footed because of the poor protection forcing Michigan to go away from the deep game. So it becomes difficult to run those screens because you don't really get the layers in the defense post snap with the DBs retreating and pressure coming in. Certainly, man is good for most screens, but not typically when the coverage is in the box to help defend it.

09/06/2018 - 3:39pm It's like the example I gave…

It's like the example I gave with the Patriots. You can take all the inputs you could possibly have, come away with the correct decision, and still be wrong, because you never have all the inputs.

Sometimes you get got.

09/06/2018 - 3:37pm Certainly, play calling can…

Certainly, play calling can make execution more difficult. In no way am I saying play calling is not a part of the game that has an impact. But the difference between the best and the worst on a massive bell curve isn't that drastic, and there are so many other inputs that go into "what went wrong" that "play calling" is almost always an over simplification.

In the examples that I presented, that was almost certainly the case. For instance, I don't recall Harbaugh once running speed option in his tenure at Michigan (he did for the 49ers), that wasn't a predictable play call. That play call got exactly what it wanted from the defense and the blocking. Something else had to happen for it to fail, and what happened wasn't necessarily a difficult thing. There are likely reasons for the lack of execution, and it isn't only on players (how much did they rep speed option?), but I keep seeing "it's a bad play call" and never "here's why it was a bad play call"; and if someone did explain why it may not be a good play call, it certainly didn't have anything to do with design, timing of the call, what the call went up against, etc.

09/06/2018 - 3:21pm Agree on their weights. I've…

Agree on their weights. I've similarly been critical of it. And you see it in how they move laterally and redirect. Even JRJ looks not properly shaped for OT and I think it's hurting him.

No good comes from being 330+ in today's football. And rarely is it ever good to be over 320+, especially at center.

09/06/2018 - 3:16pm FWIW, on the tunnel, it isn…

FWIW, on the tunnel, it isn't uncommon for the OL not to chip, especially the OL that releases to get the force defender. That's because he has to get wide quickly, and he wants to most direct and uninterrupted path to get there. The "draw action" from Patterson was supposed to prevent the DE from gaining depth on that play, and combined with Patterson's quick release, was expected to be enough to prevent the ball from getting batted. Didn't work, but that's the intent. That wasn't actually a bust from JRJ.

Here's an example


09/06/2018 - 3:08pm Is "getting Evans touches"…

Is "getting Evans touches" play calling? I guess to a degree, but seems more like a personnel decision. When Evans did get touches I didn't see a lot that separated him from Higdon, don't really see that as "the fix". 

That's not to say getting him the ball more would be a bad thing.

09/06/2018 - 3:07pm Lack of execution was the…

Lack of execution was the biggest problem of the Hoke era, in my opinion, but I think the overall coaching was much worse than it is now. The major common theme is that there is an OL weakness. One has weak tackles the other had a weak interior. And the reaction is the opposite; one tried to get chunks all the time in order to overcome what was a lack of efficiency, the other is operating on a high-efficiency plan but lacks big plays. Dealing with a poor OL is tough.

But what we see everywhere except OL is drastically different than the Hoke era. And Warinner is one of the best in the business. But OL fixes don't happen over night, they just don't. If the players don't let things snow ball on them, things will get better. It sucks it's not now, but it is what it is.

09/06/2018 - 3:03pm Depends on who you're asking…

Depends on who you're asking.

New England had Goal Line personnel in the game against 11 personnel. All strictly X's and O's people will tell you that you pass in that situation.

For how powerful of a runner Lynch is, a bit like D. Smith was for Michigan, he wasn't a great goal line runner (had a high stuff rate in those situations), so some personnel people would tell you, it was the right call.

Seattle needed a TD, a throw on 2nd down should at worst end in a stopped clock, giving you the ability to run or pass on 3rd down with your single TO left. Some clock management people will argue a pass was the right call.

And yet, Seattle had successfully just run the ball. It was 2nd and G from the 1 and they still had a time out with 27 sec to go. A run is safer. And sometimes the "right" play call, isn't the right play call. When you let the defense dictate what you do instead dictating terms yourself, sometimes it bites you. Or leaves you not handing the ball to Zeke Elliot against MSU in a night game that results in the only loss of your season.

So again, it depends on who you're asking. They're all right at least to some degree.

09/06/2018 - 2:58pm Hard to say for sure. I…

Hard to say for sure. I really, really think they are trying to simplify things, and zone generally is more simple. It seems, specifically from gun, that they like zone better right now. They did run some gap/man, but from my recollection it was mostly when they got under center.

Given the pass pro issues as well, they may want to be able to simplify the look for play action. If you're gap man, you better be pulling when you run PA as well, otherwise it's not very convincing. I'm not sure Michigan's OL is ready for that.

So those are some thoughts that may or may not be correct.

09/06/2018 - 2:19pm If you yell louder you get…

If you yell louder you get more internet points, so make sure it's good and loud and preferably very obnoxious. Maybe @ some of the coaches on twitter to make sure they see your displeasure. Tweet recruits, always tweet recruits.

09/06/2018 - 2:17pm By the way, this isn't to…

By the way, this isn't to say bad play calls don't exist. They do. This isn't to say that play calling can't dictate the outcome of games. It can. It's more of a "you shouldn't just assume bad outcomes are bad play calls" sort of thing. Hopefully I make that clear in the post.

09/06/2018 - 1:39pm Well, I'll repost my comment…

Well, I'll repost my comment from the old one because it is worth repeating: this is one of my favorite neck sharpies you've written. Think it's very detailed, gives a great number of examples, and demonstrates both play-to-play and overall gameplanning that goes into play calling.

09/06/2018 - 12:34pm Ruiz and Onwenu had a few…

Ruiz and Onwenu had a few issues, but if you take it within context of better OT play, you probably aren’t putting too much attention on it. Guys get beat sometimes, the interior I thought graded out pretty average overall. Not great, but you can win with it

09/06/2018 - 12:16pm Great content, always…

Great content, always enjoyed this series. Gives a really good clear look at assignments and where breakdowns happen. Hope people really take a look at this because I think it’s a lot of valuable info

09/05/2018 - 2:52pm Lucky for you I made a whole…

Lucky for you I made a whole twitter thread on that LINK


I didn’t like pass on 2nd and G from the 2, but I’m going to explain why this is an easy thing to hate in hindsight but is actually far from a terrible call (thread)

— Space Coyote (@SpaceCoyoteBDS) September 3, 2018
09/05/2018 - 2:45pm One score games is always a…

One score games is always a bit of a weird and nit-pick state, as if some coaches are more clutch than others. Rodger Sherman had a funny Friday Night Lights article on this, about how great coaches typically still end up about .500 in close games, but Coach Taylor was awesome at it (I've only watched a few episodes of the show myself, could never get into it).

Anyway, one score games are typically going to favor the better team. Why? Because if you're the better team, you're more likely to be up one score instead of down one score. And if you're the better team, you're more likely to score points if you are down than otherwise. So "close games" will typically favor the better team.

"Close games" (7 points of less at end of reg) for Harbaugh: 

2015: Utah (L, first game at Michigan, 10 win team), MSU (L, playoff team that finished with 12 wins and won on a flukey fumble return), Minnesota (W, 6 win team with weird clock management at the end), Indiana (W, 6 win team, won in OT), OSU (finished #4 that season).

2016: Wisconsin (W, finished year #9), Iowa (L, 8 win team, lost on last second FG), OSU (L, finished #6, lost in OT by an inch), FSU (L, finished #8).  

2017: MSU (L, won 10 games), Indiana (W, won 5 games), S. Carolina (won 9 games) 

2018: ND

Combined regular season record of teams in close games: 102-42 (0.708). With UM games removed: 71.8%

MSU combined regular season record of teams in close games: 111-68 (0.620). With MSU games removed: 65.4%

So some of it is that Michigan hasn't finished against good teams. Part of it is that MSU has. Part of it is that MSU has had more close games against weak teams. And part of it is very small sample sizes that generally skew data pretty terribly.

09/05/2018 - 1:25pm You're conflating a lot of…

You're conflating a lot of things with "Spread". "Spread" is a set of formations that spread the width of the field. It is not an offensive philosophy. It is not hurry-up no huddle, it is not signs, it is not simple reads. That is akin to saying that a west coast offense is the same as I-formation. Run and Gun, Air Raid, Power Spread, Read Option, West Coast Offense, Air Coryell, etc., etc. and all the hybrid and off-shoot schemes in between.

I'm not sure there was a single shotgun run play that wasn't an RPO against ND. All those "Now" screens were RPOs. All the roll out concepts and quick pass concepts were "movement key" reads, the same as what you are professing for "spread". Some offenses, even with a deep passing concept, will simplify with a single movement key. This comes with its own limitations. Most offensive schemes, at some point, require at least two reads (safety, then movement key). The problems Michigan had on Saturday rarely were associated with Patterson going through multiple reads. The INT was immediate upfield pressure, it wasn't because Patterson was reading the defense anymore than he would have had to had he had a single movement key. Same with the strip sack. Those things are false. Does Michigan run some simplified pro-style pass concepts? Yes. But for the most part that limit those, and limited them more last Saturday.

09/05/2018 - 11:13am I'd say it's both OTs. JBB…

I'd say it's both OTs. JBB wasn't great either.

OL is a weakest link position. Recall 2013, two pro OTs, bad interior. I think the '15/'16 OLs get way too much flack. They didn't dominate but they were a good OL. They couldn't take over a game, that's why they weren't elite, but they were consistent in pass pro at all 5 positions and solid in the run. 

And yeah, PSU did a few things to mitigate the OL, a lot of the same stuff UM did against ND (RPOs, roll outs, etc.). Barkley also mitigated a ton, but there was a reason he had an excessive large percentage of zero to negative plays.

09/05/2018 - 10:28am Based on what I saw:


Based on what I saw:

Quick concepts: slide protection with RB blocking backside.

Play action/RPO: RB away from concept

Deep drops: Big-on-big blocking, RB reading LB, if LB blitzes, he picks up, if he drops, RB chips/releases.

That was pretty consistent. They had at least one instance of a TE taking backside in a slide protection scheme that resulted in the TE getting beat for a sack. Don't recall off hand if ball needed to be out quicker, difficult situation for a TE to be in, but was a pretty poor performance in that instance either way.

09/05/2018 - 10:08am Yeah, but Wynn was a stud. I…

Yeah, but Wynn was a stud. I think he can eventually be an NFL LT, he's that good. Long arms, but just great technically and athletically, so that's a rarity.

JRJ is on the shorter end, but that's not an end-all for a college OT. You can get by at his height. His issues go well beyond that. Now, it might have just snowballed on him on Saturday, I don't know. But basically once he saw a counter move he got beat (his lack of height didn't help him in that regard, guys were getting into his body quite a bit). 

Average pass pro? That'll be difficult. I think they can clean things up. I was actually quite happy with the interior. I think they had two busts on twists, but if the OTs are average, then people chalk that up to "sometimes you lose one, that's why defenses run them". They gave a little more push sometimes than desired, but you could really get by with the way the interior protected. It really is about the OTs in my mind. They blew a lot of twists and also got beat straight up a lot. I don't know how you get significantly better with them getting beat straight up, other than to try to give them more help or at least force the defense to respect more that you're giving them help. The protection schemes were pretty simple, it was mostly just a fact of getting beat. Twists, well, sometimes the light turns on sometimes it doesn't. Hard to say if that can get cleaned up. Certainly Saturday should have been an eye-opener.

So average? Probably not. I do think they can improve a lot off of what they showed Saturday, if only because that was a complete collapse. But it was also clear the coaches were game planning around it, meaning it wasn't just an anomaly. 

09/05/2018 - 9:45am Biggest issue for me is the…

Biggest issue for me is the lack of "new posts" being flagged. It makes it nearly impossible to track threads once they get a certain number of replies, so you tend to post and never return, rather than having good back-and-forth discussion.

09/05/2018 - 9:33am My personal take for what I…

Edit: this wasn't a response to your post, must have clicked the wrong button. Was supposed to be a response to the OP.

My personal take for what I would do differently, or at least try (without insight into what has been repped and practiced and done well/poorly during camp, etc.)

I would get under center more. Not like 2017, but nearer to 50-50 under center and shotgun. I think Michigan is more comfortable with a more diverse run game under center and like the more down hill attack. I think that helps the RBs and helps the OL because the RB's hit the LOS harder. This forces the defensive front to play the run more, which hopefully helps pass pro a little.

I would really limit empty formations. Michigan was very successful with empty with Speight in 2016, but it looked very bad against ND. Part of that is because the defensive front knows they are going to get 1-on-1 blocking, they can press on the outside, they can push LBs up to the LOS, and then they can drop underneath. And while Patterson is good at getting the ball out fast, he does struggle a little to read defenses and he tends to fade against pressure. I don't think the offense's strength is in empty. At least keep in a TE or RB.

Strategically, you have to try to get the ball downfield more. This is a risk/reward thing, but is where getting under center and getting a little more comfortable running the ball can help your pass pro and give you the time to do this. You're going to take sacks. You're going to run 7/8 man protections and eat incompletions when your guy gets doubled. But you have to do it at least a handful of times because the offense isn't going to function without getting the safeties to play honest. If UM can hit over the top 3 more times against ND, the rest of the offense opens up. The offense as it was run wasn't unsound, it was that they couldn't get the safeties to ever move backward. Get those guys not playing flat footed and the inside zone gets better because you don't have safeties meeting RBs at 3-5 yards and the run game starts getting chunks instead of cut down for efficient but short gains. You don't have safeties cutting down the WR screen game at the same distance as part of the RPO package. Get them back, even if it means taking a few sacks in order to do so. This is going to sound a lot like 2013 Borges, who continued to try to take shots despite poor pass pro. To a degree, yes. But I think Michigan can run block better than that team, and I trust Harbaugh and Co. to better dial in a mix between shots and efficiency. But they have to take a step or two that direction in order to open up their base offense.

Once you get that, then you can start attacking the short/intermediate voids in the defense. Because then you have LBs creeping up on the run but the safeties staying back and you aren't getting killed in pass pro. And that's what allows you to get YAC. Now you've spread out the defense horizontally and vertically. But to get to that point, you have to condense some formations sometimes and get under center sometimes and then maintain that personnel in the spread looks when you go there (which Michigan did against ND), then that opens up what you really want to do (which I think is close to what Michigan ran against ND, but they have to add some things to get back to that and be successful with it).

So, in summary, get under center a little more, mix in more gap schemes again, help the pass pro with a more confident run game so you can take a handful more shots over the top to get the safeties honest, and then the offense opens up.

09/05/2018 - 9:09am Why resign when you can get…

Why resign when you can get fired and make millions on your buy out? Really a big missed opportunity there.

09/05/2018 - 9:05am Mauler's offense was ahead…

Mauler's offense was ahead of the curve in a lot of ways.

But beside that, creativity is pretty pointless when you can't execute. Lincoln Riley's system works because his players can execute the scheme. If he had OTs that couldn't block, his scheme would suck too and people would be losing their minds.

I'm always reminded of when Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi took over at MSU running their Cover 4 scheme and the first couple years everyone lost their damn mind because it sucked, despite Dantonio's great background as a DC. But as soon as they could get guys to buy in and execute the assignments, they turned out one of the best defenses of the decade in 2012-2013.

I know, I know, "execution" is a 4 letter word around these parts, but "creativity" is so far down the list of what the problem is. Michigan's scheme, which isn't majorly changed, worked fine previously. Harbaugh's offense worked great in San Fran. He's plenty creative. They need to get guys coached up on some basics first though.