Nightly Roundup: February 5, 2019

Nightly Roundup: February 5, 2019


February 5, 2019

Chris Evans

A lot of stuff happened today in the world of Michigan football. I don’t have time to write about it all because I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and worked until 8:30 p.m., so we’ll just stick with the roundup:

Presumed starting running back Chris Evans isn’t on the team anymore, so that’s awesome (LINK).

Former Michigan running back and running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. will be the new head coach at Morgan State (LINK).

Quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton will be coaching somewhere else next season (LINK).

The student body walk-on tryout process begins tomorrow:

32 comments

  1. Comments: 903
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Feb 06, 2019 at 8:31 AM

    No worries…we have Ben Mason. All we have to do is line him up 7 yards deep, and he will become a RB.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4143
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Feb 09, 2019 at 7:15 PM

      He already played RB, so he doesn’t have to “become” anything.

      • Comments: 903
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Feb 09, 2019 at 8:29 PM

        That went right over your head, didn’t it?

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 4143
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Feb 10, 2019 at 1:12 PM

          Maybe. I took it as sarcasm reinforcing your previously stated position that Mason isn’t a RB even though he plays RB, like a bunch of other people who play FB and RB both.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 4143
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Feb 09, 2019 at 7:13 PM

    Running backs don’t matter.

    2019 could be a great test of my theory. With OL, QB, and WR held constant – more or less – will there be a decline in RB production? With a walk-on, freshman, and lightly used sophomore replacing a probable NFL pick and a talented junior, one might think so. I doubt there will be much, though perhaps a few more fumbles…

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4143
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Feb 09, 2019 at 7:15 PM

      I’d guess Evans works his way back. And while I like Evans and would like to see that happen, part of me hopes to have the theory tested.

    • Comments: 903
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Feb 09, 2019 at 8:30 PM

      In college, they do. If this were the NFL, it wouldn’t matter nearly as much.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4143
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Feb 10, 2019 at 1:13 PM

        There are outliers, but the NFL has 30 teams and the NCAA has like 300 so there will be fewer outliers in the NFL.

    • Comments: 1066
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Feb 10, 2019 at 10:26 AM

      Wasn’t your theory tested last year? Just look at how we looked without higdon

      Play calling didn’t help, but even SMU gave us fits without “that guy” who can churn out 4/carry

      *Evans numbers are greatly skewed by the one big carry, in which he was injured

      • Thunder
        Comments: 2766
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Feb 10, 2019 at 10:42 AM

        I think that theory has been tested a bunch of times. Look at 2015 and 2016, too, when De’Veon Smith was the main dude…and then how the running backs’ numbers improved in 2017 and 2018.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 4143
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Feb 10, 2019 at 1:24 PM

          Yeah, the 2017 offense was such a big improvement on 2016 because Smith’s backups had such impressive improvements in in the offseason.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 4143
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Feb 10, 2019 at 1:25 PM

            Apologies for resorting to sarcasm but the simplistic view of YPC is tired.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 2766
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Feb 10, 2019 at 8:49 PM

            They were already better – they just weren’t getting PT.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4143
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Feb 10, 2019 at 9:33 PM

              They weren’t. This boils down to you saying you know better than Harbaugh. Harbaugh is, no offense, very probably a better football coach who also happens to have the advantage of seeing these guys every day and many multiples of times more than you. So while Harbaugh isn’t always right, he usually is — and there’s no reason to think he’s not here.

              • Thunder
                Comments: 2766
                Joined: 7/13/2015
                Feb 12, 2019 at 4:45 AM

                a) Harbaugh is a very good football coach, and yet that doesn’t prevent him from being wrong about this. I don’t know more than Harbaugh, but that also doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

                b) There are reasons here to think he’s wrong. You’re just ignoring them. That’s the second time you’ve done this in recent days, saying “There’s no (evidence)” of something when that’s not the case – it’s just that you don’t want to acknowledge the evidence.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 4143
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Feb 12, 2019 at 1:14 PM

                  A) Yes it doesn’t mean that you are wrong definitively but it’s firm evidence that you probably are. I can argue with a PHD about something in their field and maybe I’m right, but chances are the expert knows better.

                  B) I assume you’re referring to YPC (?). In which case I’ve acknowledged and addressed the limitations of that “evidence” repeatedly. You may disagree, but I’m certainly not “ignoring” the issue.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 2766
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Feb 12, 2019 at 1:32 PM

                  B) Just because you say there are limitations to evidence doesn’t mean the evidence is absent. If an investigator finds Person X’s hair at a murder scene, Person X might be completely innocent, but there’s still evidence that he might be the perpetrator. Hair is not conclusive, but it is evidence. In the more relevant case, YPC might not be a smoking gun, but it is evidence. Denying that sucks all the air out of anything else you’re saying.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 4143
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Feb 12, 2019 at 1:39 PM

                  OK point taken. I should have said no GOOD evidence. I think I assumed the YPC conversation as established background but I could have chosen my words more carefully.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4143
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Feb 10, 2019 at 1:18 PM

        Michigan scored 45 points that game while running for 200 yards. Evans ran for 4.7 ypc and Wilson ran for 4.8. Didn’t see like we missed Higdon much.

        More generally, 1 game isn’t much of a test.

        • Comments: 1066
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Feb 10, 2019 at 1:38 PM

          Like I said, Evan’s had one run, the rest was crap. Wilson only had 50yds, which is not much against SMU’s D

          Don’t forget: 7pts were from the Mettelus pick6 that saved us from a 1st half embarrassment

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 4143
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Feb 10, 2019 at 9:25 PM

            That’s the nature of YPC — it’s dominated by outliers. You can always play that game. If you look at the week before (WMU) or the week after (Nebraska), Higdon broke long runs to inflate his YPC. YPC is a very imperfect stat for this reason – it’s dominated by the highlight plays. But that’s not the point.

            The point is that, aside from these outliers, you tend to see clustering by team far more than by individual. Rushing production is a function of the offense far more than the player.

            So yeah, to be sure, you have to consider outlier runs, normal variance (sample size), and situational uses (e.g., short-yardage). It’s hard to disentangle a single back’s share of credit/blame from the offense as a whole.

            But clustering is evident: like how all of the top 3 backs ran for over 9 YPC against WMU and how all of the top 3 backs ran for 4 point something ypc against OSU. Like how the 3 backs averaged very similar 5.9, 5.3, and 5.2 ypc on the year.

            One game doesn’t tell you much because circumstances change from game to game and there’s lots of noise. But if you have entire seasons with (mostly) the same personnel you may have a quality test case.

  3. Comments: 1066
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Feb 10, 2019 at 10:23 PM

    1) when I mentioned Higdon’s 4/carry, I meant literally: against a guppy opponent, he’s good for 4yd runs all day, AND THEN a few 10 or so
    2) your example was a guy who was getting 2/carry, and then broke a big one

    Watching the games allows for context. Relying simply on stats should be left to baseball

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4143
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Feb 11, 2019 at 11:13 AM

      I wonder why you want to pretend watching games and looking at stats are mutually exclusive. Seems defensive.

      I remember people complaining about boring/conservative play calling after SMU. I remember the defense of wanting to establish the run and work through ground game issues, plus the fact that the offense produced overall.

      Tru Wilson is the only primary back who played in all the 3 early games we’re talking about. His YPC happened to go up and down mirroring the other backs, regardless of if it was Evans or Higdon or both. Tru’s a walk-on.

      • Comments: 1066
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Feb 11, 2019 at 7:44 PM

        I didn’t. I actually combined the two, adding context to your “evans had 4ypc against SMU”

        The complaining about SMU was justified. We allowed a weak mustang D to stop our run, even without our one RB who’s good for 3-5yds against a weak D. Coaches have to take what the D gives them. We did it against Central Florida in 2016, but not against SMU. It was a peak into the future, and on 24 Nov the ohio tee’d off on our predictable play calling, because that’s all we planned for. This, after getting torched by Maryland & Purdue, and getting gashed by individuals on Minnesota & Nebraska. We found success with Nico & DPJ, who either made grabs or forced a flag… Still, we insisted on 1st & 2d down runs, and then desperate pass on 3d. The complaining two months earlier was completely justified

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 4143
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Feb 12, 2019 at 1:09 PM

          Well, if you mean to imply I didn’t watch the games that is incorrect. The stats reflect what I’ve seen with my eyes. Michigan lead RBs in recent years, despite having different strengths and weaknesses, have been good but not difference-makers.

          Deveon Smith is probably the closest guy to being a difference-maker, because he often made his own yards, but that was countered by his lack of speed/big plays.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 2766
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Feb 12, 2019 at 1:23 PM

            Look, Smith had some decent plays (for example, his long run against BYU, his performance against Indiana in 2016), but he was not a good RB. I don’t see how he’s a difference-maker at all, other than on occasional instances. He was certainly no more so than any other back on the roster. There’s a reason he’s playing in the AAF, while other players in recent years (Denard Robinson, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Mike Hart, etc.) have all at least had cups of coffee in the NFL. We’ll see about Higdon, but he’s projected as a draft pick (I’ve seen anywhere from round 3 to round 6), whereas Smith was basically pegged to go in the 6th, 7th, or undrafted.

            Using your same line of thinking from recent days, these guys know a whole lot more about football than you do, and they think other Michigan backs might be serviceable, while they did not think the same of Smith. You say running backs don’t matter, but you consistently beat the drum for Smith. If running backs don’t matter, then why do you argue for Smith over Higdon/Evans/Isaac/Turner/Johnson/whoever?

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4143
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Feb 12, 2019 at 2:03 PM

              So you’re saying you don’t like Deveon Smith?

              Smith enjoyed his coffee. 5 games in the NFL with the Dolphins.

              Toussaint was undrafted just like Smith. Denard was a great runner but not a RB. Mike Hart was a long time ago – but similar to Smith in his strengths (breaking tackles) and weaknesses (lack of speed).

              Smith started over Higdon/Evans/Isaac/Rawls/Johnson/whoever. The only guy he didn’t beat out was Toussaint – who was a senior when Smith was a freshman.

              Smith was NOT a difference-maker IMO. I think he was the closest because he had a special quality – tackle-breaker. Like I said above, it wasn’t enough given his weaknesses. Toussaint may have been a better back than Smith but he didn’t do anything that stood out. He was more of an all-around guy, like Higdon.

              My point wasn’t to rehash this debate or argue that Smith was the best Michigan RB back since Anthony Thomas – it was to say that Michigan hasn’t had a difference-making back in a long time. This despite recruiting dozens of 4 and 5-star recruits.

              Is it bad luck like some fans think? Fred Jackson forgot how to do his job? Or…. do RBs generally not matter? (i.e., difference-makers at RB are very very rare). You know my opinion.

              And you know the NFL increasingly views most RBs as disposable cogs and salaries have decreased accordingly. “College is different.” Maybe, maybe not.

              • Thunder
                Comments: 2766
                Joined: 7/13/2015
                Feb 12, 2019 at 3:00 PM

                It’s not about whether I like or dislike Smith. I have no emotions regarding Smith. But he was not a good running back, nor was he close to being a difference-maker. He was JAG, and probably the least talented RB at Michigan in the last 20 years or so, except perhaps Sam McGuffie in 2008.

                I still don’t understand the contradiction of saying Smith was __________ vs. saying running backs don’t matter. You say Smith could break tackles, but that’s where your argument about YPC comes in. Why do we care if he could break tackles? Why do we care if he’s fast? Why do we care if he’s elusive?Those aren’t stats that interest me. The point of the game of football is to a) gain yards and b) score touchdowns. Broken tackles aren’t a factor in that ultimate outcome. I care about YARDS. If it’s 3rd-and-3 and Smith gained 4 yards by trucking 2 people, great. If it’s 3rd-and-3 and Dennis Norfleet gained 4 yards by juking 2 people, great.

                Your constant argument is that Smith broke tackles, so he’s the biggest difference-maker or best back or whatever. That’s like my saying that Brett Favre is the best QB because he threw the ball really hard. So what? If he’s throwing it really hard into the opponent’s chest or into the stands, it doesn’t matter. It matters whether he’s completing it, gaining yards, and scoring. If Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera are getting the same results, I don’t care whether they’re throwing change-ups or cut fastballs.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 4143
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Feb 12, 2019 at 4:44 PM

                  “The point of the game of football is to a) gain yards and b) score touchdowns.”

                  The point is to win the game. Doesn’t matter if you’re outgained or outtouchdowned anymore than it matters if you’re out tackle-breaked.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 4143
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Feb 12, 2019 at 4:56 PM

                  I’m saying all these backs are JAG. The rest is quibbling over minutia.

                  I enjoy engaging (and initiating) that at times, but am bored IRT Smith. We’ve been arguing about Smith’s position on the depth chart since the other one, Vincent.

                  Smith vs Shaw – Smith came out ahead. Smith vs Isaac – Smith came out ahead. You are entitled to think that coaches were wrong in both cases and that you know better than them. That’s fine but I think that the production and depth chart are more meaningful than context-dependent YPC.

          • Comments: 1066
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Feb 12, 2019 at 3:06 PM

            If you believe Deveon Smith is close to being a difference maker, then yes: I question whether you’re actually watching

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4143
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Feb 12, 2019 at 4:58 PM

              I said closest, not close.

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