Michigan thinks it 'can still smell roses' after 2-2 start - A comprehensive list of ways that the team has disappointed statistically thus far this year, plus optimism over the fact that the rest of the Big Ten has done about as well or worse.
Picture Pages: Clean Linebackers - The first of four picture pages posts I'm going to link this morning. This one is MGo looking at what could be hope for the defense.
Linebacker cleanliness was not happening in the first couple games. Holding calls, cut blocks, etc. The major leap forward Michigan took as a run defense against Notre Dame was an ability for Washington and Campbell to either occupy two blockers or get into the running lane when one on one. It wasn't entirely consistent; it was a lot better. Here Washington does get blocked but at least he comes through it and would be pursuing usefully if Bolden turns the play back in. I'm not entirely sure he wasn't assigned to that gap by the center and executed just fine, with Morgan the guy who is supposed to get there.
Michigan's defensive line doesn't have to approach the play of last year when Martin and Van Bergen were still terrorizing backfields across the midwest. All that needs to happen this year is solid play on the interior that eats blocks and clogs running lanes. While Washington and Campbell will finish the season as arguably the least statistically productive players on defense, you will know how well they played by how well the rushing defense turns out overall.
Picture Pages: ND Shift, Belly Defeat - This time we flip to the offensive side with MGo, where Brian looks at a poorly designed run play and eventually gets to one of the biggest issues facing the offense.
Constraints: none. A little later Michigan will block a QB sweep well but Motta will show in the hole as an unblocked eighth guy. Denard will abort and get three. ND again went cover zero with pudding soft outside coverage: They're sitting out there waiting to give you their money! It's not the stupid little bubble itself that helps—though the yards from 2-8 averaging about 6 aren't bad—but the things that the defense can't do because they can't align with their secondary in Bolivia and bring down a run defender that erases your numerical advantage. This alignment cannot be allowed to exist without a quick easy throw that invalidates it. Have we mentioned that both corners are converted offensive players? And one is a freshman?
This was an oft discussed part of the offense in 2011, or should I say an oft discussed thing that was horribly lacking from the offense in 2011.
A few days ago I posted a comment regarding this discussion here, and this is where I am coming from when I say that, to an extent, criticism of Borges is warranted. The lack of bubble screens is just another example of Borges' lack of a coherent plan to make defenses wrong more often than not. In a game like Notre Dame you can put a lot of blame on the execution of Robinson and others, but not attacking the edges is leaving yards on the field and letting the defense set up to stop you inside. That is a mistake.
I'm already tired of watching Schofield staring down at Denard after a sack. You can make excuses for the level of competition--Tuitt already has six sacks this season--but Schofield's inability to hold up against top-level competition is a huge problem. On this play, he was matched up one-on-one with a defensive end who simply ran through him. If he doesn't possess the speed to pass protect against speed rushers and gets blown off the line against bull rushes, teams will continue to attack him throughout the season. This is going to be a major point of concern all year.
So far the move of Schofield to the outside has been a net negative for the line, and RIcky Barnum is still somewhat inconsistent inside. I think out of the three of them, Elliott Mealer has been the most steady performer. Quite the turnaround from the offseason worry about Mealer.
Naked bootlegs: Not working, but not for the reasons you think - Finally, Chris talks a bit about Denard and that awful, awful game.
The thing people seem unwilling to talk about: QBs get hit a lot when they're throwing the ball. Stepping into your throws and taking those hits is what great good QBs do. When Denard gets pressure, he goes into self-defense mode instead of standing in the pocket, delivering the ball, and taking the hit. Getting hit sucks, but that's what it takes to be a quarterback.
Robinson has some good throws in his career that have come under this kind of pressure, but there are too many examples of him just rushing to get the ball out too quick. At this point, what you see is what you get.
Michigan basketball to play on ESPN/CBS at least 14 times this season - Michigan's basketball schedule was released with a look at how much Michigan will make national TV this year.
In total, 29 of Michigan's 30 games will air on a national television network (ESPN/CBS/BTN), with the season-opener against Slippery Rock being the lone exception -- as that game will air exclusively on BTN.com.
Checking on Columbus - I feel like it has been a while since I've linked to Tremendous, which is a mistake that I might as well rectify with this look at Ohio State going into Big Ten season.
Much like their comeback win over Cal in the previous week, OSU was often out-hustled and out-played against a much inferior opponent. Urb claimed that the team was lacking in all three facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams – and reminded the press and their rabid fan base to be patient, and that this current team is not as far removed from last year’s 6-7 squad as many have hoped or had guessed.
Due to Cox Cable's infuriating decision not to carry the Big Ten Network and just generally being busy early on Saturdays thus far this season, I haven't seen as much of Ohio State as normal, but I am definitely looking forward to this weekends MSU/OSU game.
The NFL is Too Shitty - The Classical
Except for the NFL itself. If football is a portable emotional currency, the NFL in 2012 is a deranged financial instrument, a shitty stock sold back to clients too dumb to know it. The NFL still works as a medium of exchange, but just barely. We huddle around the shared irritation of the replacement refs, try to scrub our souls clean of the filmy residue of Coors Light commercials, share holistic remedies for the incessant, mechanized corporate branding that pounds away at our sense organs for about 12 hours a week. The three-plus hours that a standard game lasts is 50 percent advertising, 25 percent weirdly protracted replay reviews, 20 percent Phil Simms ritually murdering the idea of communication, and 5 percent football.
The Classical. Always required reading.