Yearbook: Michigan Ensian

Friday, September 6, 2019

Here's an interesting collection of yearbooks from the digital collection HathiTrust.

It's strange in that the collection links the full .pdf yearbooks directly from the catalog which I think I've only seen one time before, and it was the university's library catalog not a private digital consortia like this one. Really interesting to see the tech set up like this and that a private group is interested in preserving a yearbook as rich in college football history as this one. The copyright and watermark indicate that Google did the digitization for this set of yearbooks.

The University of Michigan has a robust collection of yearbooks available online. The Michigan Ensian was first published in 1896 and the Wolverines have been playing football since 1876, so a lot of their football history is chronicled in this collection. The collection has 96 volumes in total, but some of them are only partially available to view online, so there are 89 editions available in their entirety.

Michigan has such a rich football history and these pages are chock full of Michigan game writeups, pictures and stories about the players and games of yesteryear.

Don Peterson goes up and over Stanford in 1951

Here's a look at a mass momentum play from the 1914 season.

Michigan vs Michigan Athletic Club

One thing I noticed is that the scans all have a little grain to them. That is, not natural technical anomalies from older photos, but all of the pictures look like they have some kind of digital cross hatching on them. You can probably pick some of that up from the first photo of Don Peterson above.

Regardless, this is a valuable and unique collection very worthy of being archived online, and I'm proud to add them to my collection of Yearbooks. 

Check out the full collection of yearbooks under the Yearbooks tab above.


It is the mission of The Unbalanced Line Online Library to present important and interesting historical texts to college football fans. Items will be added regularly as blog postings and can be easily indexed in the Yearbooks button on the site bar.

Copyrighted material is used expressly under the fair use guidelines of U.S. Code 17 #107 through #118 stating that the criticism, comment, news reporting, educational use or research of copyrighted material is not held in violation of copyright laws.

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On Cut Blocks

Thursday, September 5, 2019

I wanted to do a yearbook post today, but I felt I had to respond to this.

This piece absolutely misses the mark and is about as dishonest an analysis of Brent Davis' offense a I can fathom.

Firstly - I absolutely hate the sports as war analogy - I don't do it, I don't like to read it and it's just a lazy way to write about football. Every year some unseasoned opposing beat writer will drop a 'Football is war' paragraph into their hastily scripted Army football preview. It bothers me as a common metaphor, but it doesn't even come close bothering me as much as this drivel.

"Dangerman: Literally, it's center Peyton Reeder, because if he's engaged with you, someone else is about to take out your knees."

And then there's a video clip of Reeder and Guard Jack Sides executing a 100% legal double team block.

It continues:
Yes, this is highly illegal. Yes, they're coached to do it all the time. Yes, a lot of injuries result from it, both the leave-the-field kind, and the stay-in-but-by-the-4th-quarter-you-won't-dare-to-anchor kind. No, they never have to face justice for it. Are *you* going to flag the troops?

For MGoBlog to insinuate that Army football sees fewer flags just because they are a service academy shows zero respect for the sport, its rules, and its officials to say nothing about slighting the cadet athletes who participate in every single intercollegiate sport. I'll give the statement credit that at least it's more creative subject matter than the "gridiron battlefield" cliche', but it just plays like an Andrew Golota series of low blows when U of M should already have plenty of high road from a competitive or comparative standpoint. What is the point of bullshit like that? I would really love to know.

I'm sure it's a big conspiracy among refs and the NCAA to keep Army, Navy and Air Force hanging around in games they should lose. That benefits everybody because AMERICA!! FUCK YEAH!

Get the hell outta here.

As if the NCAA didn't just last year cut the effectiveness of 1/3 of Army's playbook by eliminating the cut block more than 5 yards off the line of scrimmage. I can only imagine how much a fan like this would have hated the cut block if Army could still run it's playbook from 2016.

But no, it's Army who is looking to bend the rules to their advantage.

Today Army is the one looking to change how the game is played to make up a huge talent differential. Their wishbone triple-option offense gets you three yards every play if you don't screw it up. They leave the kids on the bench until they won't screw it up, and stay on schedule by cheating their asses off….a lot…I have more links.

I don't know what this guy is seeing, but I saw one hold and zero other penalties in there.

What makes MGoBlog qualified to adjudicate the validity of modern option football? Certainly not Michigan's experience matching up against the modern flex bone.
In 2012 Michigan played Air Force, winning 31-25. They played Air Force again in 2017 winning 40-21 and these happen to be the only service academy option teams that the Wolverines have played in over 40 years. Which means aside from 2012 & 2017- the last time Michigan faced a service academy option team would have been back in the T formation era.

I don't get this characterization of cut blocking as some kind of dangerous rogue football technique. There is cut blocking in most every college offense - and while Army's offense relies on a lot of cut blocks every team has the opportunity to practice and utilize the skill. From a defender's standpoint - there are effective ways to neutralize cut block schemes, but just as Army and Navy have to drill their cut blocking technique - opponents have to practice getting off the same blocks. If your guys can't separate and end up getting upended in their gap - it's not Army's fault, it's not the fault of the refs, it's not the fault of the NCAA. If cut blocks are what you're really worried about as an informed college football fan - the burden of overcoming that facet of the game falls solely on the coaching staff and their ability to properly coach football.

If cut blocks are so dangerous how come injuries off of cut blocking rarely happen? If cut blocks are so dangerous why does the NCAA allow tackling below the waist? With this feeble logic almost single every tackle should be a flagrant foul with intent to injure.

Nobody, not even the most squeamish sports fan wants to ban defenses from tackling below the waist. Why? Because it's simply not perceived as a dangerous play. Does that mean that nobody ever gets hurt in a low tackle? no. Does that mean that cut blocks are always injury free? no. We're talking about American football. If you prefer to watch soccer then go watch soccer, but don't characterize well coached teams as cheats or dirty bounty hunters when it's your own personal insecurities about your football team giving up multiple 85+ yard drives and losing the time of possession statistic by something like 2/1. Give me a fuckin break with that and get back to writing about actual football.

To the video analysis that was graciously provided. You can manufacture as much rage as you please, but the plays posted for public display aren't even penalties. All you have to do is check the rule book.

Ask yourself

Does the block happen beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage?
Is the block below the waist?
Is the block thrown by a lineman?
Is the block inside the tackle box?
Is the block thrown toward the offense's defending goal line?

Being unfamiliar with a rule or a technique doesn't mean that you can make up mystery guidelines on what is clean football and what is a flagrant foul. That's what I mean when I'm talking about dishonesty in this context. This Michigan partisan really believes that Army football, its coaches and its players are hell bent on gaming the laws of the sport with illegal tactics and an offense that seeks to intentionally injure every opponent.

I don't have any more time to give to this subject.


Army/Michigan Game Notes

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

This will be the 10th meeting between Army and Michigan.  Army looks to keep their series lead which stands at 5-4 through 9 games.

Michigan game notes are here (pdf).

Army's game notes can be found here (pdf).


Army 1-0

Army squeaked out a hard fought win over a surprisingly strong Rice University football team last Friday night. Rice brought a good defensive game plan and some real toughness up to West Point, but the Owls faded in the 4th quarter in what became Army's first win of the 2019 season.

Rice stuffed Army's offense with a lot of what looked to me like Rich Ellerson's Double Eagle flex defense.
Early into the 2nd quarter the Cadets were finally able to string some plays together. Army paged through the playbook and tried a little bit of unbalanced formation.
Rice seemed uncomfortable shifting out of the Double Eagle in a 3rd and long situation. Army's next series saw the Black Knights shift back into the Flexbone and attempted a first down run and a second down pass. Rice stuffed the run and the pass play flew out of bounds. The Owl defense played with great confidence and looked more aggressive every play.

With Army at midfield facing 3rd and 9 Rice's defense switched into a 4-4 Spy. Army OC Brent Davis had the right play call and Army burned the Owls for the Black Knights' first long run of the season. Christian Hayes' 35 yard end-around scamper set Army up in Rice territory. Two plays later Kelvin Hopkins was hit as he threw - but Hayes brought the ball in for a first and goal - setting up the first score of the game.    7-0 Black Knights

On Army's next possession Rice showed a mix of the Double Eagle, that 4-4 Spy and some kind of 5-3 front which combined to force an Army punt.

The Owls had a tough time kicking for points as the Rice placekicker missed two important field goals - one from 26 yards and one from 44 yards.
Rice's punting really made this one a game as Army's average starting field position for this one was their own 13 yard line. That is a test for any defense, but on this night the Black Knights D shut Rice down time after time.

Army's inside game was largely shut down by Rice - it seemed like as soon as Army's run game (finally) got things going inside  - they coughed up the football after making some decent gains.

On their last drive, Army faced the Double Eagle D almost exclusively and they dipped a little bit further into the playbook, building off of some of the offensive plays they had shown earlier in the game and using presnap motion to expose the middle of the defense.  The 4th quarter truly belonged to Army and they gave a little reminder of how they operated all of last year. Army had the ball for 10:15 of the last period including a game winning drive that lasted 9+ minutes. Rice was in this one the whole way - they looked really solid on defense - first with their strong Double Eagle defensive set and mixing in other defenses once they thought they had Army beaten on the inside.

Army has got to hold the ball for more than the 33:13 of possession they had. That's how they can keep the tough games close and keep the close games tough. The Cadets seemed to get stronger as the game went on.

Kell Walker brought in the game winning 17 yard touchdown pass which put QB Kelvin Hopkins passing totals for the evening at 3/8 for just 53 yards and one touchdown.

Artie Hobbs, Christian Hayes and Kell Walker each had one reception in the game.

Hopkins led the team in rushing with 21 runs for 81 yards and a score with FB Sandon McCoy right behind with 20 carries for 70 yards.

If you don't think this team has something cooked up for Michigan then you haven't been paying attention to Army's results in the past two years.

Army has the second longest winning streak in the country at 10 games.

The Black Knights also have won 14 straight home games - that's Army's second longest home win streak - second only to the impressive 39 game win streak at Michie Stadium from the years 1925 to 1931.

The win in the 2019 opener bumps Army's all time record on opening day to 98-29-3.

Here's the Rice / Army story, stats, highlights and replay.



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