Monday, October 03, 2005

Pots, kettles and common sense...

I repeatedly promise myself that I won't get sucked into idiotic on-line arguments, but time after time I fall face-first into one.

This time it's over a post made by Brian over at MGoBlog.

He opines that Chad Henne's resurgence was due entirely to the repair of a mechanical issue in his throwing motion, and dismisses any link to Michael Hart's reappearance as "total fantasy."

This, of course, is stupid.

Yes, it probably had something to do with the change to Henne's throwing motion. I will willingly admit that. Why was it not in the initial article? Because I didn't know about it.

Here's how I write that column every week: I watch the game, taking notes and Tivoing plays when necessary (big runs to see the blocking, sacks to find the breakdown in protection, etc.). Then, immediately after the game (or after the conclusion of whatever interesting games follow the Michigan game), I sit down and write it. The idea being that I don't want others' opinions to impact the piece. I wait to submit it until Sunday, when I can read through the entire Freep sports section and maybe an AP article to see if I missed something particularly noteworthy and get specifics on injuries, etc. Then I send it in. The Freep didn't mention the Henne thing, at least as far as I saw, so therefore I didn't know about it.

Back to the original point, which was Brian's assertion that any link from Henne's improvement to Hart's reemergence is "total fantasy."

I would suggest (call me crazy) that having a strong and dangerous running game that you are clearly willing to rely upon in almost any situation forces the defense to respect that running game a lot more than if you clearly have a "I don't trust these guys to not fumble, god, why do they suck so much" thought bubble over your coaches' head. (Review Wisconsin game tape when Grady/Martin are carrying the ball for examples.)

I would suggest that when the opponent recognizes this willingness to run it, and the abilities of your runner that it forces the opponent to deploy extra resources to prevent you from running it on every play (playing eight or nine guys in the box, which MSU did quite a bit).

I would suggest that this, therefore, opens up the passing game quite a bit, as it leaves your opponent vulnerable to deep passes (as there is often not a safety back there) and especially to play-action.

I would suggest that this, in turn, would lead to receivers getting open, facing less double coverage (and likely less tight coverage since there's no safety help deep), and therefore making it easier to complete passes.

Of course, this chain of supposed-logic is "total fantasy." Because it was just Henne's mechanical issue.

It also had nothing to do with things like MSU's defensive backfield being a steaming pile of crap or the fact that the guy playing opposite Avant can suddenly catch the ball, since it's no longer an injured guy named Steve Breaston.

While I'm being an asshole, let me also ask Pete Holiday (see comments section of same post) if bloggers (and commenters on the same blogs) really had a clue what's really going on, wouldn't they be able to find someone to pay them for what they're doing rather than just doing it as a hobby?

Of course, this is the standard MSM response to blogs, and the mere suggestion drives bloggers to fits of dog-kicking rage. But it's apparently cool to do it the other way.

Frankly, either way, it's a gross oversimplification that really boils down to (wait for it...) douchebaggery on the writer/speaker's part.

In this case, Pete likely has not ever worked as a sportswriter, and therefore doesn't necessarily know that at many schools, as many as seven or eight players can be conducting interviews at the same time, so unless you have seven or eight people from your organization in the interview room (and no one does), you're going to miss things. Maybe the Freep and other media outlets weren't there when Henne explained it. Maybe Henne didn't repeat it when asked a second time. There are a number of possible explanations that go beyond "OMG MSM so lazy!!1111!!! Blogz rule!!11!"

I enjoy Brian's blog (and others) quite a bit, and am constantly trying to find subtle ways to rip off their best material without getting caught.

This is not a dig on blogs. This is a dig on people who don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

(Angry "you're mean! You hate blogs!" responses in 3... 2...)

P.S. Wouldn't Douchebaggerie be an awesome name for an upscale boutique-style version of The Jerk Store?

4 Comments:

At 8:42 PM, ny1995 said...

Tom,

As a Michigan fan who tends to dislike "easy" psychological explanations, it is with great reluctance that I say I completely agree with you on Henne. I find it somewhat implausible that a mechanical defect suddenly emerged as soon as Hart went out and that it happened to be repaired the same week Hart came back.

 
At 8:44 PM, Brian said...

Which is why I was surprised that you would offer that up when you've actually watched all of Michigan's games. I mean, really... the Wisconsin game? Henne just missed on approximately 60% of his downfield throws, which has nothing to do with Hart. If UW had A) been getting constant pressure and B) been able to cover Michigan's receivers because it wasn't threatened by the run game, I think you would have a point. A) did happen against ND and Grady's iffy blitz pickups had something to do with it, I will grant you, but there were only a few instances of shady pickups and many instances of bad play either by the OL or by Henne. Against UW Henne just missed open receivers time and again and was under little pressure. Hart's return has nothing to do with that.

We're agreed that MSU's defensive backfield is a steaming pile of crap, but the same goes for UW and ND but that didn't help Henne any against them.

 
At 10:05 PM, Tom said...

Henne missed a lot of receivers against Wisconsin. We agree on that.

But he wasn't perfect on Saturday, either. He threw behind a few guys then, too.

I personally think that MSU's DBs are worse than Wisconsin's, which helped it.

As I said, I think the mechanical issue likely had a good bit to do with the improvement, and if I knew about it, I would have mentioned it.

But to totally discard the Hart issue out of hand is just stupid. As ny1995 pointed out, Henne's problems coincided exactly with Hart's disappearance.

It's like the fact that OSU went 5-4 against Michigan under Earle Bruce, 3-1 under Tressel and 2-10-1 under Cooper. It's not a definitive cause-and-effect, but barring some incredible coincidence, there's some kind of link there.

 
At 10:13 PM, ny1995 said...

Against ND, the things that were most problematic were decidedly non-mechanical: bad decision making and a lack of confidence in the line / blitz pick up. He gave up on plays, stared down receivers and threw the ball away on 4th down? Not mechanical. He just looked uncomfortable.

I don't buy into a truly psychological explanation, that Hart is Henne's 'security blanket' and that he just feels better with Hart near him. I do, however, buy into the Xs and Os argument that Hart affects defenses and the playcalling, and tehrefore the QB. And I also think that Henne against Wisconsin just looked "off" and that could very well be attributed to a lack of confidence in himself or the offense, manifested as bad rhythm on his throws.

 

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