Thursday, January 9, 2014

Who should be happy/sad about the Doug Nussmeier hire?

Could Shane Morris be the next A.J. McCarron?
THIS HIRE IS GOOD FOR . . . 
Fifth year senior quarterback Devin Gardner. Gardner has one final chance to show his stuff at quarterback, and I think Nussmeier will bring a more cohesive offense to Ann Arbor. Gardner can run out of the shotgun and pistol, and he's not bad throwing from under center. I expect Nussmeier to simplify Michigan's blocking schemes, which should help out the young linemen and the quarterback. The new offensive coordinator also likes to push the ball down the field (as did Al Borges), which suits Gardner well because he has a strong arm and throws a nice deep ball.

The offensive line. Michigan's young offensive line was terrible this past season, and it appears that Nussmeier may bring in a new offensive line coach to help him out. Whether coach Darrell Funk remains or not, I expect that Nussmeier will want a little more beef up front, and his coaching pedigree at Alabama suggests that he can help those guys achieve a new level of success.

Sophomore running backs Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith. Nussmeier utilized the inside zone game and zone sweeps to great effect at Alabama, which recruited Green out of high school. Both Green and Smith fit the role of good inside zone runners, because both of them are north-south runners capable of running through tackles. Green has the better speed of the two and would likely be more effective on the zone sweeps.

Sophomore quarterback Shane Morris and freshman quarterback Wilton Speight. Nussmeier has tutored numerous successful college quarterbacks (A.J. McCarron, Jake Locker, Drew Stanton, Jeff Smoker) and spent time with the St. Louis Rams under passing game guru Mike Martz. I can see Morris as a McCarron-like Game Manager Plus, a guy who can not only take care of the football and keep his team in the game, but make some downfield throws to really stress defenses.

Redshirt freshman H-backs Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman. Nussmeier likes to use his H-backs as lead blockers, wings, slot receivers, etc. Hill and Shallman appear to be good fits for this role, more so than the fullbacks who have been playing the past couple seasons.

THIS HIRE IS BAD FOR . . . 
Redshirt junior running back Justice Hayes. Nussmeier does not appear to be a fan of scatback types, at least not for featured roles. Hayes was reported to be moving to slot receiver, although he started Michigan's bowl game at running back. His chances of winning the running back job next year likely took a hit with this hire.

Junior fullback Sione Houma and redshirt junior fullback Joe Kerridge. Nussmeier is a proponent of a one-back offense and doesn't have a whole lot of use for true fullback types. The hire will almost certainly diminish their role in the offense, which was already more significant than it should have been based on Michigan's personnel and abilities.

26 comments:

  1. Very good points indeed. As for Justice Hayes, I didn't think he would play as a RB even if Borges stayed for the 4th year. He got to make the transition and play as a WR. Hopely he can find a role on the team.

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  2. Hopefully he'll find a way to get the ball to Dennis Norfleet, even though he didn't use those types of players much. I get the impression he'll have a good idea of who the play makers are and get them the ball on offense.

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  3. NIce write up. I actually see Houma getting more play because he is more of a HB/FB hybrid would could catch passes out of the backfield. I agree on Kerridge who's primary skill is to be a blocker but was pretty poor at that last year.

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  4. Really, really nice writeup here.

    Question -- speculate, if you will, on what this might mean for the role of center. Would Nussmeier's anticipated blocking schemes allow our existing and upcoming centers be able to accommodate the role better? I had the impression all the stuff Borges was doing might have made a new center's life more challenging.

    When the history of all this is written, my guess is Borges' reputation will be of an OC who was smart but perhaps too clever at times ... someone who was enamored by sophisticated plays and an extensive playbook ... someone who felt he could out-scheme from the booth and overcome out-execution on the field. In a sense he's like Charlie Weis, just down one peg on the org chart. It seems the best coaches and coordinators find a way to extract what the talent on the field can give, rather than hoping the talent can rise to the plan that's in the playbook.

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    1. Yup. I felt the same re: Borges. College athletes are not pros, and college coaches just do not have enough time to install everything they want, especially when most upperclassmen are not "their guys." So what the coaches have to do is "dumb it down" a bit for the athletes so that they can execute it fully without getting confused. I think that explains a lot of our inconsistency.

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    2. Charlie Weis came out of the NFL, and you could understand if the transition was awkward, as he learned what could realistically be expected of college players. Al Borges has coached college players for most of his adult life. If he didn't understand their capabilities by now, it's a very sorry indictment.

      But anyhow, I am dubious of the premise. Modern college offenses, or the successful ones at any rate, are generally not simple. There aren't many teams who will have great success with a skinny playbook. Borges's downfall was not that he had too many plays. It was that he had too few. That's why so many defenses boasted after the games that they knew exactly what Michigan was going to run, and once they stopped it he had no counter.

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    3. @ Marc Shepherd: I disagree with what you said about Borges having too few plays. Borges had all kinds of formations, plays, blocking schemes, routes, etc. I mean, honestly, you probably can't name a formation that he didn't run while at Michigan (okay, that might be a stretch, but not by much). Opponents knew what was coming because he dumbed down the playbook at times, and because he would get on a run of calling similar plays and then scrap the whole idea two weeks later. If you scouted him the previous week, chances were pretty good that you would see the same thing. So rather than getting good at one thing, 60% of the offense would be different two weeks later. It was never consistent enough for the young guys to learn.

      A lot of college offenses are simple, whether you believe it or not. Auburn has a pretty simple offense, but they rode it to the championship game. Georgia Tech's offense is pretty simple. Honestly, Alabama's offense has been pretty simple. But those teams execute, they adjust, and they have counters.

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    4. If I'm not mistaken, I believe Chip Kelly's offense at Oregon was also based on a few very simple base plays. And I read somewhere that the secret to Payton Manning's success at Indianapolis was also based on a relatively simple core playbook ... executed fabulously well.

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    5. Smartfootball and others have been preaching the virtues of simplicity. Simplicity allows you to be more flexible and adaptable - you can react to what a defense does and hit them where they are weakest. Simplicity is at the heart of all the tempo stuff, read stuff, packaged plays, etc. that all the best defenses are doing whether they run or pass.

      What Borges was doing required an old school approach of huddling up and wasting a lot of time thinking in advance about what a D MIGHT do and then not having time to change if you need to. Unless you have a talent advantage you're in trouble.

      To me, it's a convincing argument - even before you get to the limitations of working with student-athletes who are sometimes 18 years old. Simple is better.

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  5. How will that work if Nuss brings in one more offensive line coach and Funk stays, considering the NCAA stays that each team can only have one head coach and nine other assistant coaches?

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    1. That won't happen. If Nussmeier brings in another offensive line coach, Funk would be gone.

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  6. Good analysis and I mostly agree.

    Most single-back coaches like to use 3WR regularly, so I think the H-back types aren't necessarily big winners here. Not may people like 2-TE sets more than Borges, and he often used them in combination with FBs. I don't think the H-back guys loose much but I don't think they win a great deal either. I expect more 3-receiver sets at Michigan next year than we saw this year (depending on how you view Funchess).

    I'd include AJ Williams as a BAD here, since he'll probably be relegated to backup duties.

    Re: Justice Hayes - he probably wasn't going to play a prominent role regardless but I don't know that he's exactly a 'scatback' at 5'10/190. At Washington in '11 Nussmeir's leadback was Chris Polk (5'11/220) and his 2nd and 3rd leading carriers were 5'10 and about 205. I think his role is still as a 3rd down/receiving back and that won't change until another guy shows they can fill that role.

    If Hayes DOES move to WR - the slot position is wide open with Dileo gone and, as I mentioned above, I expect more 3 wide sets with Nuss than Borges.

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  7. I think Houma should be fine in the Jalston Fowler role, actually. I know there's a bunch of one-back stuff, but that back was more than occasionally a fullback.

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  8. A bunch of offers on the offense went out today -- I am sure that Nuss had something to do with those offers. Any ideas/opinions on them? Thunder?

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    1. I don't know how much Nussmeier had to do with them. I'm guessing Lukusa was going to get offered, anyway. And Michigan has been hitting North Carolina and New Jersey hard already. I'm sure the current coaches had some guys in mind, and they probably ran them by Nussmeier (or Nussmeier brought them up), but I don't think they signal a change in recruiting strategy or anything. This is around the time that Michigan has sent out a bunch of offers in the past. They like to get a big start on the next class before the current one signs their NLI's.

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  9. Malik McDowell just said on twitter that he's still considering Michigan

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    1. Kind of getting tired of this guy McDowell. He can play hard-to-get all he wants, but how long does it take to make up his silly mind? Sometimes I hope we can get someone else and move on.

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    2. suduri xusai: Are you new to the world of recruiting? I ask only because you remind me of me about 7 years ago. I would get annoyed with indecision because, dammit, I want recruits and I want them NOW. But it didn't take me long to realize that these kids have every right to take as long as they want. This decision might decide where they spend the next 3-5 years, whether they make it to the NFL, and what type of degree they get. This is the biggest decision of a 17-year-old's life, and he's not making it on YOUR timeline. You may be "tired of him" and think he's playing "hard to get" and think his mind is "silly," but that's all coming from your perspective as a Michigan fan and really has nothing to do with Malik McDowell, a high school senior in Southfield, Michigan.

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    3. @SX

      Stop calling out recruiting targets. It does no good. You're not convincing anyone to change their character, certainly not a teenager, you're only risking that a recruit or his friend/handler/coach/family member reads negativity from the Michigan fanbase and shares it with a player we want. You can say what you want on the internet, but seriously - what's the point of this?

      Mcdowell has mostly stayed out of the limelight, as is his right. As fans we want answers, but as humans we should respect these kids and encourage them to take as long as they need to pick a college.

      If you don't have anything nice to say about a teenager you don't know, don't say anything at all. Especially when there's a .0000001% chance it hurts Michigan and a 0% chance it helps.

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    4. No not new to recruiting. Yes it is an important decision and people should take their time. But how many months/years did this kid have? How many schools did he visit? How many more reviews of depth chart does he need to see? He's still playing the "I have a LIST OF SCHOOLS" game. I just feel like this kid just likes the attention and suspense of it all. I don't really have a lot of respect for those type of players (those type of people in general).

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    5. All right Lanknows. Maybe I should've thought of that possibility as well.

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    6. I don't even think he knows where he's going. Probably State, but anything could change. His name has been a large subject on this board lately in the comment section, which I have no problem with, he's an elite prospect and would be a big get, but also a loss if he doesn't come. I don't think he's coming to Michigan, but I think there's definitely a chance. I'd say with Vrabel's departure at OSU, it really puts him down to Florida, Michigan, and Michigan State, due to the fact that the other schools he's considering are pretty much out of spots if not already out.

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  10. I don't know how you can think green is faster than smith

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    1. Well, I spend quite a bit of time watching these guys play football.

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  11. How does Nussmeier hiring affect the competition for the starting OL positions? You mention Nussmeier wanting "more beef" up front. Does this help Chris Bryant's chances?

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