chance of bowl: 13.6%
Kurtis Drummond's day in a nutshell: this late throw to the flat turned into a 30-yard gain
I really don't know what to do with this.
Michigan State's defense isn't as good as last year's, that much is certain. On the average play, they're still a very stout group; they're in the top five in opponent first down rate, opponent available yards gained, and 10+ play drives ceded, per Football Outsiders. FO also reveals their major problem: big plays. MSU ranks 97th in percentage of opponent drives that average at least ten yards per play. They finished ninth in that category last year.
It showed against Purdue. The Boilermakers offense either hit the MSU wall and exited with alacrity or busted a couple chunk gains on their way to scores. That ended up working out to the tune of 340 yards on 5.5 yards per play—not spectacular, but not bad, either—and 31 points, with three of the four touchdown drives covering at least 60 yards.
So, there's a ray of hope. But I also saw Purdue run multiple packaged plays with solid success, including a touchdown on a pop pass to a motioning slot receiver, and the light dims just a bit. Quite a bit. A great deal of bit, really. But hey, it's hope.
Personnel: Seth's diagram is now updated to properly reflect the amount of recruiting talent Michigan's offense is largely squandering. Click to embiggen and view Seth's pessimism regarding how M's coaches may decide to utilize their available personnel coming off a bye week in which MANBALLING may have been emphasized:
MSU keeps their base personnel on the field just about every down, with corner Trae Waynes and linebacker Ed Davis aligning to the boundary across from "STAR" (hybrid LB/S) David Harris and CB Darian Hicks on the field (wide) side. RJ Williamson and (sigh) true freshman Montae Nicholson have each earned starting nods; they're still battling for the strong safety job and both should see snaps on Saturday.
To address a typo, Kurtis Drummond is 6'1, 202 lbs., and not a three-tech masquerading as a free safety.
Base Set? The 4-3 alignment you see above. Either Harris or a safety—or both—will be shaded over the slot; an example:
Also note the depth of the safeties; in MSU's aggressive Cover 4 scheme, they tend to play relatively close to the line.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
FORMATION NOTES: I didn't find anything particularly unusual from Michigan but I need something visual so here's a gopher annoying a rich incompetent person.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Aside from Morris, the usual. Magnuson was out for this FWIW, and Green was still available.
[After THE JUMP: nothing you want to see.]
Henry was not the same kind of risk Chris Barnett was [Bryan Fuller]
Fliers actually a good thing?
You mentioned in the last UV that "If Michigan hangs onto 8-10 guys
they could add a few fliers and be fine. The guys they hang onto are
actually touted recruits instead of the mess that was Rodriguez's last
It seems like a large percentage of the big names on the team today
were fliers in the Hoke/RichRod class and Hoke's first class. Names
that immediately came to mind as late offers that panned out better
than expected are Norfleet, Morgan, Taylor and Henry. I wonder if
taking a few more chances on last-minute fliers wouldn't pay off for
this recruiting class?
There's a difference between late fliers you take after scouting them in secret for a while and the kind of late fliers Michigan took after Brady Hoke was hired and they needed to cram ten guys into Rodriguez's battered final class. Morgan was a Rich Rodriguez add after extensive scouting; Henry was a Hoke add after the same; Norfleet was a highly touted spread guy Michigan had room for on Signing Day; he was well known.
Here are the guys Michigan added after The Process concluded in early 2011 (minus Chris Bryant, because Bryant was on the verge of committing to Michigan for months beforehand):
- Chris Barnett (flamed out before fall camp)
- Frank Clark (check)
- Thomas Rawls (never played, now CMU feature back)
- Russell Bellomy (third string QB)
- Antonio Poole (pec injury forced retirement)
- Matt Wile (kicker)
- Keith Heitzman (backup to AJ Williams)
- Raymon Taylor (check)
- Tamani Carter (transferred after one year)
They got two players out of eight swings and they got one of those because Frank Clark went from 210 to 280 like guys who get drafted from MAC schools. That's not a great hit rate, and that hit rate was about as expected. Only Taylor, one of the two hits, had a recruiting profile even on the 3/4 star borderline. All others were fliers picked away from Vandy, Minnesota, Purdue, etc.
Now combine that with the rest of the class, which featured four more guys who didn't make it through year one (Greg Brown, Chris Rock, Kellen Jones, Tony Posada) and that's a 20 commitment class in a year you could have taken 25 that has way too many washouts.
This year is different. A guy coming in at the same time Hoke did last year would only need to add four or five guys and the guys already in the class aren't particularly likely to flame out, because that's the thing Hoke has been terrific at. They would not desperately need the the late flier guys to work out, and that's a good thing because they would not be likely to.
It shouldn't matter in a class that looks like it'll top out at 15. So I'm just sayin' if it's January 1 and Michigan has just installed a new AD I wouldn't necessarily think Hoke is safe.
[After THE JUMP: anti-mascot concept art]
[What this is: We yoinked Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ to share his tailgating recipes and Stubb's offered to sponsor it because their CEO is a big fan of this site and he offered to buy meat for Joe to cook for us for the Marlin event two weeks ago and I missed the e-mail until it was too late and now I AM SO MAD AT MYSELF THAT I MISSED THAT!!!]
Typically, the Michigan vs. Sparty BBQ at my place has a larger than normal crowd. We have a fun good mix of fans from both sides and they all love tasty meats. One of our favorites is the Pulled Pepper Stout Beef. This one is a top 5. It combines everything we like. Meat, peppers, onions and beer. Find something in that combo that is not good. I dare ya. It's not only tasty, but very versatile. I love it on a toasted ciabatta roll, but could also be served on sourdough, hawaiian bread, tortilla, mashed taters, rice or even eaten by itself. Here's what you will need.
4 lbs chuck roast
3 bell peppers. (I used 3. Red, Green and Yellow)
3 Jalapeños ( I like it hot. Use 2 for less heat)
1 lg red onion
6 Garlic Cloves (Crushed)
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
12 oz bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
Kosher Salt and pepper
[Jump for instructions]
“Thanks for coming out. We had a great practice last night. Physical, tough, lot of energy, which you usually have when you’re playing in a rivalry game but I thought what we got done from an execution standpoint was positive. It wasn’t perfect. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a perfect practice, but there’s some things we’ve got to clean up obviously and some things offense and defensively you look at and don’t want to do as much. So that part of it- I think we’ve responded very well from the bye. That is always important. If you’re playing with speed and playing fast I think that’s a big part of it and that’s one way to gauge it. I think obviously we have great respect for Michigan State. They’ve earned that from how they [were] Big Ten champions and how they’ve played. We’ve got a lot of work to do to go up there, and we will be prepared and we’ll be ready to play on Saturday.”
How much of this game is about matching their physicality and bringing the fight to them, and have you done that do you think in the past three years?
“Well, I think we played physical. At times not as much as we’d like, but I think in any football game if you’re a team and you’re a competitor there’s got to be a physicalness to it. Obviously there’s more emotion driven when you’re playing a rivalry game and playing an in-state rival who’s an hour and ten minutes up the road. I think more of that comes out.”
I think the stat on this game is 41 of the last 44 were won by the team that rushed for more yards. There’s probably stats like that for most games, but is there something specific about this game that makes it even more important?
“I don’t know. I think, like you said, I think being able to run the ball because it sets up so much of your offense is an important part of it. I don’t think that’s too much different than what this is. Every year I think we’ve talked about rushing yards by one team and so when you look at it, yeah, there’s probably something to it a little bit.”
Jourdan Lewis: five games in you guys put him in the starting lineup and he has your two secondary picks. What did you see as a sophomore to put that much trust in him?
“Yeah, I think consistency. Consistency and technique. His competitiveness out on the field and in practice with whoever he’s trying to defend. Obviously he’s got the athleticism and he’s got some length to him. He’s not the tallest guy but he’s long-armed and has a real knack for the football. The consistency that he’s shown week to week is really what’s kept him in the lineup.”
Was there a play or something in practice where you guys were kind of sold?
“No. No. I think coming out of the spring we were excited about his development and what Roy [Manning] had done with those guys. I think that started it. Getting into fall camp we had some veteran guys, some more veteran guys I guess, that he competed with and he’s been the guy.”
[After THE JUMP: identity vs. tendency, physicalness, rivalryness]
This week in depressing MGoBlog GChat exchanges:
Ace: that reminds me that I need to pick an MSU game to break down while trying not to curl into the fetal position.
nebraska, I guess?
Brian: purdue might be more our level
oh god i just said that and meant it
Ace: that hit right in the soul dong
and yet, now downloading purdue-msu.
Purdue it is! I hate everything that isn't basketball.
MSU beat the Boilermakers 45-31 in a game that wasn't that close until State tried an ill-advised fourth-quarter fake punt in their own territory, allowing Purdue a short field to pull within a score. Purdue lost after a late pick-six because Purdue. Let's get this over with...
Personnel. MSU trots out a wide variety of personnel due to their depth and versatility on offense. Seth's got the base personnel covered—I'll note here that MSU was quite shotgun-heavy against Purdue [click to embiggen]:
Several receivers will rotate into the game for MSU; while RJ Shelton has taken the starting slot gig from MacGarrett Kings Jr., Kings still sees plenty of action, while Aaron Burbridge is a co-starter with Keith Mumphery at the Z receiver spot.
Meanwhile, two players who get ample playing time didn't even fit into the "key backups" section: fullback Trevon Pendleton, a returning starter, and tight end Jamal Lyles both see the field quite a bit, mostly in blocking roles. State is also able to throw out a lot of different looks with the same personnel group; they went into empty sets for several snaps in this game with RB Jeremy Langford and TE Josiah Price split out wide—Langford even came up with a nice third-down conversion from such a look.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? The concepts and formations are largely pro-style, but there are enough spread elements in this offense—the occasional read option and a lot of fly sweep action, most notably—that I'd call this a hybrid offense.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A pretty solid mix of both. MSU had success running power/counter action against Purdue; they also busted a big gain on a simple inside zone and ran some play-action off a zone stretch look. The variety resembles Michigan last year; the difference... well, you know the difference.
Hurry it up or grind it out? MSU tends to take it at a leisurely pace, but like every other team in the country save Michigan, they're capable of increasing tempo and catching the defense off-guard on something other than a QB sneak situation. YES BREAKING DOWN OPPONENT FILM IS STARTING TO GET TO ME HOW DID YOU EVER KNOW JUST HIT THE JUMP ALREADY.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]