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.
Hooray for automatic translations. Via BHGP:
Michigan State's, on the other hand, have been very naughty lambs.
Personally, I am deeply affected by this. I am in favor of Michigan's just-approved basketball facilities in all ways except one:
That real estate is the home of my ancestral tailgate. Ah well. The plans look very nice, though, and should help the program steady itself as a respectable one (or better!). More at UM Hoops.
Yes yes yes maybe? 100 cocktails to Yostal, who gets a question in to Chris Brown at EDSBS and extracts a thousand or so words on Michigan from one of college football's most interesting bloggers—apparently Brown's article on Tressel was specifically mentioned by the man himself on a radio appearance! Yostal's question has to do with Michigan's attempt to shoehorn both Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson into useful roles on the field. Brown:
I think the winds are changing, and a two-quarterback system is quite possible. At its best you are likely to have the system Florida used to win the 2006 title: a starting quarterback in charge of most of the offense (Chris Leak), and a second guy with special abilities for whom a package is installed (then-freshman Tim Tebow). This example has now been made universal throughout football under the nauseatingly overused rubric, “the wildcat.” (Had “wildcat” been around in 2006 think of all of the puns Dan Shanoff could have used to describe how Meyer used his young talent.) The reason that works though is because you choose a starting quarterback for one set of skills (passing, reading the defense, making checks, accuracy, some athleticism, etc) but another guy opens up a new dimension because of their running ability, and the spread with a mobile guy gives the offense certain numerical advantages it doesn’t get with an immobile quarterback.
Read or die. /diddy.
Do we care about this? The Detroit News has an article about how a bunch of Michigan coaches have loans from the Bank of Ann Arbor, which is a potential conflict of interest for Bank of Ann Arbor founder Bill Martin:
"I don't suggest banks to any coach," he said. "I don't ever get involved in their financial affairs in any way, shape or form. I believe it would be a conflict of interest (to do so)."
But Martin also acknowledged that now that he is aware of the loans, it does create a conflict.
"Now that I know, I don't like it necessarily," he said. "When you don't know, you don't have a conflict."
This contradicts an earlier statement by Martin. Is this of interest to anyone other than the Bank of Ann Arbor corporate board? I'm thinking not so much.
The scene of the crime. Johnny Sears (Yes That Johnny Sears), now a senior, makes his return to Michigan Stadium tomorrow. Jokes aside, and there is plenty of material, it sounds like Sears has come a long way from the events that precipitated his dismissal:
“I was on the practice squad on my junior college. I didn’t even get to play. Sometimes by myself I thought like, ‘Is it worth it?’ but then I felt like, ‘OK I really want to play football.’ That’s my love. It’s my escape from things. This is what I love to do so I just wanted to make sure I could do that.”
And okay, yes, it is a little funny that Sears ended up on a JUCO's practice squad after starting The Horror. Funny in a sad clown way. When you're discussing the clunky end of the Carr era, "started sophomore DB who had never played varsity football before he got an offer and couldn't crack a JUCO 2-deep after he left because he seemed like the best option" should be somewhere on the list.
"The only time I really see [Florida] lose kids is because kids want to play in a pro-style offense," Kiffin said. "It’s such a great place to play, and they do such a good job of coaching. But you see some kids that don’t want to play in that system because a lot of times it hurts them going to the next level for their draft status."
This will be read as a tiny bit douchy by most and with white-hot rage by one Urban Meyer, and won't be much of an argument going forward:
- Three spread offense receivers (Crabtree, Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, and Florida's Percy Harvin) were taken in the first round of last year's draft. The only tight end taken in the first round (Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew) came from a spread offense.
- Both Harvin and Louis Murphy, from Florida's very spread offense, started on opening day for their teams and both caught touchdown passes.
- Sam Bradford was predicted to be a top ten pick had he come out last year and is the top quarterback prospect for 2010. He plays in a spread offense in Oklahoma.
- The top two offensive lineman prospects for 2010 according to ESPN (Oklahoma State's Russell Okung and Oklahoma's Trent Williams) block in spread offenses.
It does not matter much what sort of offense you play in as far as the NFL goes.
Moose replace. David Moosman's out this weekend. The replacement derby:
Michigan right guard Dave Moosman suffered a dislocated shoulder against Notre Dame and may miss two weeks. Starting right tackle Mark Huyge moved to Moosman's spot and Perry Dorrestein filled in for Huyge at the end of last week's game. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is uncertain about this week's starting plans with Wauseon redshirt freshman Elliott Mealer one of three others being considered.
I'm hoping one of the redshirt freshman breaks through for the long term, but it sounds like it'll be someone more veteran. AA.com says junior John Ferrara is likely to be the guy.
KOVAAAAAAAAACS. A fair amount of attention has been paid to Jordan Kovacs this week, and why not? He's only an unrecruited walk-on who played much of the second half against Notre Dame and did not end up plastered on the bottom of Michael Floyd's foot. Kovacs actually had to try out twice because the first time he tried to sign up he had serious knee issues the athletic department didn't want to volunteer to fix. He got the surgery himself, tried out, made the team, and took a valuable lesson from the whole thing:
"I said I'm never going to come back to the training room," he said. "I'll have to be dying."
Er. Well. A lesson of some variety at least. The official site has their version of Kovacs' life story and a helpful reader forwarded along this article from a 1983 edition of the Toledo Blade that has an article on Lou Kovacs, Jordan's father and a walk-on himself. Bo on the elder Kovacs:
"Having an individual participate in our football program and then continue on is one of the most important aspects we have in this program at any coaching level, and having someone like Lou is even more gratifying because we like to have young men like him stay on in coaching."
That right there is black-belt level coachspeak.
Weis one-ups. This is the most quintessentially Charlie Weis sentence ever:
At fullback they have a versatile fullback who plays fullback in Hawken who plays fullback, but he moves around a lot, giving them a lot of the versatility along with the multiple tight ends they have because they do play three of them.
Bloated, meandering, repetitive, full of fail. A sentence or a life in coaching? Zing!
Etc.: Bacon's latest for Michigan Today has an extensive discussion of the 50 Yard Line club. Yes, that 50 Yard Line Club. "Lose yourself" hype video. Misopogon sees dead cornerbacks in Boubacar Cissoko.
Thinking about making this a regular feature when the inevitable corrections/comments come up on the 14k (this week) words put into UFR:
On the Savoy "drop" in the endzone. Millen's right and the ball got tipped, so I bumped that to a 2. Good if he brings it in, not a pure drop.
On Tate's interception. I doubted Greg Mathews' words here but everyone says I'm wrong in the comments, this guy most authoritatively:
Matthews made the wrong read
as a former Div I WR, I can confirm that this was on Matthews - the read was to settle in the seam - Forcier read the seam in underneath coverage and the DB running deep - there was a clear hole in the zone - Forcier read it and Matthews missed it - if he settles there, complete pass and he turns it up for a few more yards
Withdrawn. I don't have a category for "receiver runs wrong route," so I'll just redact the BR. Pretty remarkable that the huge "oh noes, freshman" screwup in the game was actually on the senior wide receiver, not the freshman.
On Cissoko. Okay, okay, I definitely shouldn't have said he's "not any good" after all of two games, especially considering the shoulder injury. That's going too far. But, man, even Rodriguez acknowledged that he had a rough day on Saturday:
Boubacar didn't have his best game, but he's a good football player, and he's a competitor, and I'm sure he'll come back and play better the next time.
So I stand by the assessment. He's unlikely to be so negative again if only because he's not going to face Michael Floyd. Can the Cissoko War in the user-generated content areas end now?
On Minor and thumping blocks. I failed to notice Brandon Minor totally burying a Notre Dame defensive end on the Odoms third down conversion:
On Koger and Webb. I misattributed a couple of excellent run blocks, saying they were Koger's when they were Webb's. Recalibrate your sensors on the tight ends accordingly.
On the run game. Genuinely Sarcastic has its run chart up; the right side of the line grades out very well, especially Molk and Moosman. A +4 from Huyge offsets some of his pass protection issues, which were mostly of the –1 annoyance variety instead of the –2 oh crap our QB is dead variety. Also oh snap from the GS comments:
Tate's TD run is omitted because it wasn't a designed run. That and I'm pretty sure there aren't enough plus signs in the world to accurately represent what he did to Darius Fleming.
On "ability." Yes, yes:
Brian, again, it's ABILITY to destroy a planet.
We've been over this.
It's even written correctly right above!
I don't know which illegal, Translated-by-Taiwanese, rip-off videocassettes of the Star Wars Trilogy you've been watching, but I'm sending you a copy of Episode IV anyway (sorry -- it has the stupid Jabba scene and Greedo shooting twice. Keep your remote handy).
I'm sorry. Here' a picture of Pirate Yoda:
I assume this fixes everything. Hyyyarrr.
Editor's note: U of M press release.
MICHIGAN INJURY REPORT
For the Eastern Michigan game on Saturday, Sept. 19:
Tim McAvoy (knee)
David Moosman (shoulder)
Probable (75% chance of playing):
Junior Hemingway (ankle)
In addition, head coach Rich Rodriguez announced the game captains for the noon game against Eastern Michigan: wide receiver Jon Conover, defensive end Brandon Graham, kicker Jason Olesnavage and wide receiver LaTerryal Savoy.
[Cissoko, Minor good to go then. Pretty healthy so far, knock on wood.]
Editor's note: bonus podcast-type object from FA, who had the opportunity to interview volleyball coach Mark Rosen, who has Michigan in the top ten.
For those of you who might have missed the volleyball team's recent climb to #6 in the nation, you're missing out. Michigan has already defeated one major perennial power in Nebraska (think basketball's victory over Duke last year). They opened up the home slate last weekend, emerging unbeaten in 4 games, not even dropping a set.
This week ups the ante. Michigan hosts 9-2 Marquette (Friday 1p), unbeaten #27 Dayton (Friday 7:30pm), and 7-2 Oregon State (Saturday 3:30pm). The Oregon State game is going to be huge. The athletic department has moved the game to Crisler Arena to accommodate the big crowds they are expecting.
Coach Rosen joined me in an interview to preview the Michigan team. Over the course of the interview, we covered everything from Brazilian food, Michigan's strategy, beating Penn State, and reasons you should come out (including girls in spandex!). Take a listen and more importantly, after football destroys Eastern Michigan, head next door and see the volleyball team take on Oregon State.
For those interested in breaking records, Nebraska had 13,780 fans show up to its game against UCLA last week. Crisler Arena's official capacity is 13,751. I think we can pack in a few extras and shock the volleyball world again this season.
[Saturday @ 3:30: volleyball in Crisler.]