Thursday Happy Hour Deconstructs Fitz

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

In a week where all eyes are on Fitzgerald Toussaint and whatever it is that has caused his production to lag this year, it was inevitable that we would get at least one impressive breakdown. In true Michigan blogosphere fashion, we got two.

Figuring Out Fitz - Tremendous

The biggest issue in the first couple games was the failure by the offensive line to reach the second level. On base blocking plays, they are doubling but no one is releasing. On zone blocking plays they aren’t releasing early and getting bodies on the LBs. This means the LBs are flowing easily. The odd part, especially early, is that the O-line was reaching the second level on many designed Denard runs. To me it didn’t look like anything the play design was preventing the O-line from getting there for Fitz’ runs, so it seems more like a comfort thing with the schemes.

Picture Pages: Toussaint's Sad Day - Mgoblog

A furious Fitz making anti-plays. Late he clearly started pushing; on a couple of plays where it was just like get your five yards dude he started getting all fancy and got as many yards as an 18-year-old in Appalachia wearing a come-hither dress would have. Approximate total blame: 15%. Now: you expect your ballcarriers to make plays. That's been the whole complaint with Smith as a runner—he doesn't get more than you give him much. Fitz didn't get more than Michigan gave him at all in this game.

Read both.

Michigan OL Taylor Lewan named midseason 1st-team All-American by Phil Steele - Some good news on the offensive line front is that Taylor Lewan came in for some praise from Phil Steele. Although Lewan has struggled with penalties a bit this year, he has continued to provide the kind of solid performance at the LT spot that was expected of him.

Defensive end coaching points - Chris at BWS looks at defensive end alignment and batted passes.

In both instances, the defensive end that drops off into coverage is lined up at least a full yard behind the other offensive linemen. It has happened too frequently for this to be a random occurrence, but it seems like an obvious tell for opposing QBs/perceptive linemen. It's hard to argue with results, though.

Ask the Beat: How often will John Beilein utilize a two post offense? - Another installment of UMHoops' series asking Michigan beat writers about this year's team.

I still expect Beilein to utilize and hone an effective small ball lineup. For as many negatives as there were about Zack Novak playing the four, there were probably just as many games that Michigan won games for that very reason. This year, Michigan will finally have a chance to go big or small based on the opposition. Michigan should have an adequate option whether needing to overpower a smaller opponent with a double-post lineup or match-up with more of a dynamic combo forward like Deshaun Thomas at the four.

Lionel Messi, Here & Gone - For all the crap I give ESPN, giving Wright Thompson a chance to write something like this is a great decision (also, a no brainer).

Messi said yes. The guard escorted him to a table with Jorge and Leo, who smiled and stood to give his old coach a hug. Messi did not mention the old newspaper quotes. Vecchio kissed his cheek and said how much pride he felt every time he watched a Barcelona game. He thought his former player was happy to see him, but he didn't know for sure. Messi said little. Jorge dominated the table. Vecchio felt the clock ticking as he spoke, surrounded by a jockeying crowd. Little distinguished Messi in Barcelona from Messi in Rosario. He lived in a bubble of fame. It had been this way for years; he'd gone from being alone to always surrounded, which are sort of the same thing. Vecchio asked Jorge if they imagined it would ever get like this. Jorge said no. Vecchio's five minutes ended, and he worked back through the chaos, replaced by another supplicant.

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