"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
After a little time to digest it all, here are important notes from the postgame press conference.
- David Molk suffered a potentially serious foot injury, and Rodriguez hopes it's not broken. If he's out, Moosman and Khoury will step in at the center position. Tate's injury was just bruised ribs, and he should be fine. Rodriguez didn't say it was anything serious in the press conference, but I saw Mike Williams wearing a walking boot outside Crisler Arena after the game. Sitting Minor was precautionary, because he's still sore.
- Rodriguez seems pretty angry about the Mouton suspension. The worst part: the team wasn't informed until after practice Thursday, which means they didn't even get to practice with the backups in the game. That's inexcusable by the Big Ten, IME. Rodriguez plans to make sure the Big Ten is equally diligent for the rest of the season in suspending players from every team around the conference. He specifically mentioned something that happened at the end of an early game yesterday when a Purdue lineman went after an NIU player with an elbow.
- The team only had 2 penalties for 20 yards in the game, a major improvement to this point. RR implied that he thought one of them wasn't a great call (I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Cissoko PI), and wasn't happy about it.
- Coach Rodriguez and Brandon Graham both said they don't want Michigan to be a second-half team, but rather a 4-quarter team. However, it's not surprising with their conditioning that they can wear teams out in the second half.
- Kevin Leach and Brandon Graham both said there weren't many schematic changes at halftime, but rather an emphasis on players sticking to their gaps and executing their assignments.
- Craig Roh said he didn't have to think about his interception - he just reacted and came down with the ball.
- When asked if he really likes running into the South endzone, Denard Robinson had the quote of the day: "I think I had one going this way, too." Rodriguez emphasized that Robinson is a passing threat, and Robinson said his picks were mental mistakes, a result of inexperience.
- Carlos Brown said it feels good to be healthy, and noted that he ran for more yards in the first half yesterday than he did for all of last year.
[Editor's note: here's the obvious cheapshot by the Purdue player:
You made this bed, Jim Delany, and now it's time to lie in it.]
As always, check out the Live Blog Chaos Mitigation Post for information on what this is and why your comments aren't showing up (it's moderated and if every comment published it would be unreadable).
Yet another in this site's series "counters to the scrape exchange."
This one doesn't take a whole lot of explanation. Michigan's in its H-back set and Notre Dame in the nickel it used all day. It's first and ten on Michigan's field-goal drive right before halftime:
Michigan's going to run something I called a "QB counter"; it, I believe, is not a read but a called QB run. Just like the dive play we saw yesterday, the TE (in this case Martell Webb) is going to pull across the formation and look for a block. LT Mark Ortmann, the topmost offensive lineman, is going to downblock on the weakside defensive tackle. But you'll do fine on this play if you just watch #80. He's the whole play.
Here we have a moment right before the key part of the play. Forcier has pulled the ball out of Minor's belly and Webb is approaching the point at which he's supposed to block the defensive end.
So Webb reaches the DE and… uh… runs right by him.
Here note two things. One: Ortmann has not done a great job with the DT, who has apparently read the play or was stunting or something and has shot into the backfield. This held the defensive end up. Normally on a scrape he'd be hauling ass after Minor, but since he got delayed he's right there and sees Forcier with the ball. Two: Webb ignored that guy and is heading right for the scraper. Tate has to deal with the DE.
Next, the moment of truth:
One: Forcier has beaten the defensive end despite the screwup/stunt by Notre Dame. This is MAKING PLAYS, and something it's doubtful either Threet or Sheridan could have pulled off. Two: Webb has blocked the scraper. Crushed him.
look at all that space
nooooooooo cut it up cut it up
- This is another scrape counter. This one didn't go very well for whatever reason and it still should have been 8-10 yards because Michigan has blocked the one guy tasked with the quarterback.
- Assuming your guy with the quarterback isn't going to get blocked can be dangerous for the defense. The scrape read presumes that your guy tasked with the QB isn't going to get lit up by a tight end, and it's hard to see any way to read what's going on to help out. The only player who can be of assistance is the backside DE, and that pulling tight end can do so many different things—block the scraper, block you and spring Brandon Minor up the middle, head out into the flat, pass block—that you're really picking your poison.
- I don't think it matters what side the guy gets blocked on… usually. Here Webb gets outside of the scraper and that's key because of the defensive end's presence, but if that guy's not there it makes no difference because Tate will be jetting up into massive space on either side of the block.
- Rodriguez's offseason planning was hugely focused on the TE. This was something we talked about in UFR, but it's worth repeating. There was a lot of hype about Michigan's tight ends and that hype has been more than met. A TE is on the field 90% of the time and has been a huge key in Michigan's ground game. Rodriguez has adapted to the scrape exchange and his counter is the tight end. At this point I'm actually a little concerned Michigan doesn't have a tight end in the recruiting class.
- Tate needs to realize he's no longer way more athletic than everyone on the field. He's done this three or four time in his first two games. It worked against Western, but not so much here.
This ended up being three yards, but it should have been ten, and holy God what if Denard Robinson was out there in that kind of space?
UPDATE: forgot the youtube-o-vision:
Or: How Lake The Posts Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Whiskey
|WHAT||#25 Michigan vs Eastern Michigan|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||12:00 EST, September 19th, 2008|
|THE LINE||Michigan -24|
|TELEVISION||Nationwide on BTN|
|WEATHER||Chilly (52) early but game is
64 (noon) to 68 (3 pm) and sunny
Run Offense vs. Eastern
Last week I declared that the rushing offense had to score a "crushing victory" against Notre Dame for Michigan to win Saturday and at any and all points in the future. The results were favorable:
Suck out two sacks for nine yards and Michigan's totals are 199 yards on 36 carries, or 5.5 YPC. With the sacks Michigan's total falls to 5 YPC, a number that would have been good for 18th nationally last year. Notre Dame's run D was #45 last year and returned virtually all of their key pieces. So that's fairly crushing even if the 31-yard Forcier touchdown was more improvisational genius than crushing victory.
The issues with the run game are the same ones Michigan had after week one: not enough Brandon Minor, too much Tate Forcier—and especially too much Tate Forcier trying to beat cornerbacks—and a lingering suspicion the offensive line might not get a ton better from where they were at the end of last year.
None of that should matter much against this:
Though that's a respectable performance against Northwestern, Eastern had the #103 rushing defense in the country last year and is super unlikely to replicate that performance tomorrow. The main dangers are quick, undersized defensive linemen shooting gaps and Michigan's replacement right guard playing poorly. In all other ways Michigan should just out-athlete them, especially when Denard Robinson is in the game.
Key Matchup: Probably John Ferrara versus Severe Dropoff. It would be nice to see Moosman's replacement play well. Also can we add Tate Forcier versus the Misconception He Can Get The Corner Against College Defensive Backs?
Pass Offense vs. Eastern
The other way mostly relies on excellent pickups from the backs—Carlos Brown had a couple crushing pickups last week and Brandon Minor is a fine blocker in his own right—and the idea that Forcier is, yes, Drew Tate, a guy extremely comfortable moving around and finding people downfield when the play breaks down. It's dangerous to blitz Pat White and it might be dangerous to blitz Forcier, albeit in a totally different way. If he evades the wave of defenders and breaks out to one side, we've already seen he can direct traffic to good effect.
Tate Forcier has now established himself as a prodigy, and even the big colossal error he turned in was actually a big colossal error on the part of Greg Mathews. At this point it's reasonable to assume he will perform beyond his years.
Eastern, for its part, got shredded last year. They were 116th in pass efficiency D and 100th in sacks; the only thing that kept opponents from running up huge yardage totals was pity. And then there's the whole Johnny Sears thing. Johnny Sears's two main excursions as a Michigan defensive back saw him get torched by Ball State and the perpetrators of Horror; merely interpreting this person as a useful member of your secondary is cause for serious concern. Forcier is going to have a lot of time and a lot of open receivers; so will Denard Robinson.
It's worth pointing out that Mike Kafka had a crappy game against Eastern, completing 14 of 24 for only 158 yards and an interception. I'm betting that says more about Kafka than Eastern.
Key Matchup: Denard Robinson versus Lack of Touch and Accuracy.
(BONUS: stormtrooper photoshopper notes laconically that he is "working on the actual costume for the illinois game." This moment demands I steal from Simmons: yep, these are my readers.)
Run Defense vs. Eastern
Michigan had severe issues against Notre Dame and their peanut-eating offensive line. (What did that even mean, anyway? "They can eat peanuts off our guys' heads." Are they elephants? Is it a reference to the "anybody want a peanut" line from the Princess Bride? I'm going with the latter because I want to.) Eastern… well… I'm betting there are a few gut-churning runs where a linebacker gets hooked or just runs in the wrong direction and the line creases and Eastern shoots a guy into the secondary. Their current totals are backwards from you might expect:
Erm. This preview could also be titled "why Lake The Posts should buy whiskey in quantity this fall." In fact… let me go change that. Okay.
Do you go with the horrendous Army numbers or the downright respectable day against a run defense that was decent last year? Probably somewhere in-between. The Northwestern numbers were no fluke and the Army numbers weren't quite that terrible: Andy Schmitt was sacked seven times for –53 yards; primary back Dwayne Priest averaged 4.4 YPC. Priest gashed Northwestern all day, averaging 7.5 with a long of just 35. He should have an okay day with a YPC we're a little uncomfortable with.
Key Matchup: Obi Ezeh versus The Solo Tackle. Two non-assists last week. He's got to improve or we're in trouble.
Pass Defense vs. Eastern
This is a spot where it could get dodgy. Eastern returns a senior quarterback in Andy Schmitt who… well, actually no. Schmitt in the first two games:
That is a ton of dinky completions akin to what we saw from Tim Hiller, except no one think Schmitt is an NFL prospect, and did I mention seven sacks against Army? Eastern's got one okay wideout and then little, has no offensive line to speak of, and has a quarterback averaging under 6 yards per attempt. EMU will complete its share of dinky hitches and slants and screens of all variety, most of which will be followed by immediate tackles if they are accurate and hauled in. Schmitt will be running for his life most of the day.
Key Matchup: Safeties versus huge error.
Darryl Stonum won a job as a kick returner against Notre Dame, but Martavious Odoms was pretty uninspiring and Cissoko's shoulder injury leaves the second spot in question. Carlos Brown maybe? Michigan will continue sending Greg Mathews out to fair-catch everything, and you are okay with that.
The kickers had an uneven game last Saturday, with Zoltan shanking one and not getting the booming death punts we all know and love; Jason Olesnavage hit a moderately long one but pushed a chip shot wide. Michigan will be looking for both to bounce back.
Key Matchup: HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
24-point spreads against MAC teams do not get kittens, but here's something else:
Yes, that's House and Wilson.
- Cissoko starts getting lost against MAC receivers.
- Fumble fumble fumble fumble fumble death.
- EMU safeties go for killshots like ND's.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Ron English doesn't display a wildly increased ability to stop a spread offense.
- Tate Forcier.
- There is not massive regression on all fronts.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 1 out of 10. (Baseline 5, –1 for We Are A Team To Reckon With Now, –1 for With Prodigy QB, –1 for And They Are Probably A Terrible MAC Team, –1 for and Rich Rodriguez Doesn't Mess Around With These Folk, –1, for And Michigan Has Some Motivation, I Think, +1 for But Yeah That Defense Looked A Little Wonky).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +1 for We Must Quash The Insurrection, +1 for Oh And If We Lose You Know All That Good Press Will Evaporate, +1 for Refuse To Lose To Johnny Sears, +1 for Oh Lord I Shudder To Even Think, +1 for This Is Just Not Happening.)
Loss will cause me to... appreciate the irony of life. Also buy a gun.
Win will cause me to... shrug.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Justin Turner and Will Campbell get extensive looks.
- Robinson throws almost as much as Forcier.
- Minor has a day similar to his outing against ND (15-ish carries, 100-ish yards).
- Brandon Graham finally gets a sack.
- Michigan, 48-10.