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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cathartic or something. IBFC has a clip of the deadly third down. You can see what happened for yourself. Vijay breaks it down very well, so I won't go into tremendous detail. Run over there and read it for yourself, then come back...

doGsinairB: OMG U R soooo dumb MannMann1997
MannMann1997: LOL thn why am i defnsive cooordinator n u r not
doGsinairB: UR such a homo. man+man = homo.
MannMann1997: LOL
doGsinairB: homo.
Okay. If you want to assign blame (and you do), #1 is Jim Herrmann, who lined up his players in a fundamentally flawed, excessively aggressive alignment, #2 is Prescott Burgess, who lost contain two seconds after the ball was snapped, and #3 is Chris Graham, who shot up into an interior hole and thus left the outside open. The sad part is that Alan Branch makes a great play but just can't make it outside to tackle. You can't blame Mason, who correctly forced the runner inside of himself, but it was all for naught.

What to do about Herrmann? The guy sits back on every third and long, rushing three, when Minnesota wants to convert them and then when Minnesota is clearly playing for overtime he calls a fundamentally unsound blitz that pulls any sort of safety help away from the run to the short side that the defensive alignment obviously invites. Michigan set up in a 3-3 nickel with Burgess--an undersized SAM--lined up as the strongside DE, taking on a tight end who outweighs him by 50 pounds, and Michigan's best linebacker (Harris) and defensive linemen (Woodley, Watson) lined up on the weak side of the formation, ready to attack the run to the wide side which never comes.

What an absolutely arrogant call! Michigan lines up as if to say "don't run here," thinking they've outsmarted the Gopher offense, and then calls a blitz from that side of the formation, abandoning the last, disaster-preventing line of defense on the short side of the field, as if there was no possibility that the Gophers might recognize the blatant overload and attack the defense's weak point. If there was ever a time to send in a base nickel formation and drop seven, this was it--who blitzes on third and ten when you know a run is coming? The point is to get the stop, and the probabilities of doing so are greatly increased when you don't blitz. There was no advantage to blitzing; we saw the disadvantage unfold in front of our eyes. This is a clear instance of brain-dead coaching, combined with two bad plays from the linebackers, costing us a game.

Yeah, Jim Herrmann coaches the linebackers, too.

This should make for a harmonious locker room. Via Fanblogs comes Leon Hall's incendiary statement after the game:
"After watching it, we had some guys kind of loafing,'' cornerback Leon Hall said Monday, two days after Minnesota's 23-20 win.

"The guys that were loafing, they know,'' Hall later added. "I'm sure they're down on themselves about it."

That's a really strange statement. Graham made a bad decision. Everyone else was out of position because of the playcall except Burgess, who I think screwed up, but I don't think there's any indication of loafing. Were it so simple.

I highly recommend the Big Ten basketball season preview being assembled by Hawkeye Hoops. He's got Minnesota up and more are on the way. You will be notified when Michigan shows.

Tempting... I'm trying to not uselessly bash media people--bad for the image, dontchaknow--but when Deadspin posts something like this in its ongoing series "Why Your Hometown Columnist Sucks," it's like walking out of an AA meeting and into Oktoberfest. Must... not... write... DrewSharpequivalent SPOCK! So dead on:
It’s not so much that American newspaper editors want to employ mean-spirited sports columnists such as Bill Conlin; we’re pretty sure it’s the law. How else would one explain it? Every large paper seems to have its resident sports bastard.
And the reasons why are mystifying. They get ratings, I guess--anyone reading RJYH's passages about 'Bama public enemy #1 Paul Finebaum knows that well--but they also engender a deep distaste. Though St. John manages to humanize Finebaum by following him around on a 'Bama football Saturday when the threat of violence against him is palpable, I found little sympathy in my heart for a man who's consciously chosen to piss off a state full of people in exchange for money and notoriety, who's built an entire career out of gleeful, cynical schadenfreude. It would be different if people like Sharp or Conlin or Finebaum gave a damn about the teams they berate--there's something endearing about watching Joey short-circuit like Johnny Five--but they don't.