News bullets and other important items:
- Delonte Hollowell had his redshirt burned two weeks ago.
- There will be some rotation between Thomas Gordon and Troy Woolfolk vs. Illinois regardless of which one wins the spot in practice.
- Ricky Barnum still limited in practice. Hoke says he "will play," however.
Opening remarks: “I’m going to make a brief statement just regarding everything up at Penn State. One thing I can tell you, we have an utmost respect for what coach Paterno’s done on the field. It’s really a situation that’s obviously unfortunate, but it’s one that doesn’t affect us. We’ve got to worry about Michigan and the decision that we make in getting ready for this week and going to Illinois and winning a football game.
“Now practice yesterday was good. I like it. I liked how they competed. I liked how they came out, had a lot of energy, and they fought like heck.”
(more after the jump)
This is a mild complaint on another "ten guys" play. Michigan got Iowa fairly well blocked thanks to their alignment, but one mistake far away from everything ends up submarining a winning playcall.
It's Michigan's second play of the game. Robinson has just slipped while cutting, turning a decent gain into a single yard. On second and nine Michigan comes out in a tight ace set with both TEs in a two-point stance. Nominally this is a passing formation what with the TEs all standing up, but formations like this often result in outside runs this year.
On the snap Roundtree, Koger, and Lewan block down, with Schofield and Molk pulling. Patrick Omameh is going to cut the backside tackle… or at least he's going to try. His failure to creates a CHAIN REACTION that DESTROYS THE REACTOR:
Hmm. This isn't good. The backside DT isn't delayed at all. A TFL is possible here. TFLs are not nice.
Meanwhile, there is good work being done on the playside. Koger and Lewan have gotten movement on their guys and Roundtree is cracking down on the playside LB with a great angle.
Molk perceives the threat and removes the threat of the DT with his back. That takes the TFL off the table. Unfortunately, Koger and Lewan have now lost their guys playside. Roundtree does get the linebacker:
At the moment of truth Toussaint does have a crease because Roundtree's block cuts off Koger's guy and Molk slowing has prevented that DT from making the play; Schofield has kicked out the corner.
Unfortunately, there is no lead block, and there is a safety. With the playside DT flowing down the line there's nowhere to go.
On third and five Robinson gets quick pressure and has no one open, so he chucks it well past everyone.
Items of Interest
Ten angry men. So… yeah. Borges basically got Iowa here. Look at the alignment of the linebackers:
They're shifted well to the wide side, assuming that the outside run will come behind Hemingway's block. That gives Michigan a numbers advantage to the playside and gives Roundtree a super easy block on the most dangerous linebacker.
That's enough to get Toussaint a crease on the sideline. If Molk is hanging out being all blocky chances are this sets Michigan up in a third and short. But because of whiff by Omameh so total it threatens to allow a guy on the backside of the play to tackle on a pitch sweep Molk has to bail and unblocked safety is unblocked.
Receivers tight to the line == outside run. Not all the time, of course, but frequently.
These defensive ends are not Purdue defensive ends. Remember Purdue, when a defensive end was a gnome on ice skates?
Good times. Michigan was not playing Purdue in this game. (This is why it was in Iowa.) Koger loses his guy to the outside, and as you can see in the left frame above #79 is threatening enough to remove any hope of a cutback behind Lewan. He's not making the play, but he's doing enough to let some other guys do it. This was a theme.
I don't think Michigan's going to have much better luck with the rest of the defenses on the schedule. Koger's monster day against Purdue looks like an outlier based on the opposition, not a sudden renaissance. NFL scouting of him is middling overall and negative on his blocking:
Isn’t a real balance blocker. Struggles to keep feet under him, lunges into contact and doesn’t create much power as an in-line guy. Possesses a naturally strong frame, but his inability to gain leverage and maintain balance kills him at the point. Possesses long arms and strong hands that allow him to stick initially when he gets his hands on you, but is still learning the nuances of being a consistent run blocker.
That was pre-season; NFP's Wes Bunting re-iterated that recently in a post I can't find.
This is going to be ugly next year when the only options are Brandon Moore, Ricardo Miller, and freshmen. People are talking up AJ Williams as a potential tackle but I think Michigan would love to keep him at tight end if this is at all possible. Having an edge blocker like Williams is a critical piece of a manball offense. Even if Williams is a tackle long term I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't redshirt and Borges uses him as an extra OL. Preseason he talked about wanting to install an extra tackle package but couldn't because he didn't actually have any extra tackles.
Molk == SMRT. The reason this is a modest gain instead of a TFL is Molk's awareness. He catches a glimpse of an Iowa player in his peripheral vision and immediately knows this is trouble. If he had continued on his pull no one would have blamed him—or at least no one would have blamed him much.
He's adapted fairly well to the new system. Not every center can pull effectively. He certainly can, and while he's not an in-line mauler he is generating push more consistently than either of the guards. I predict Michigan misses him badly next year.
This week in spread zealotry we've got an example of something you can't do against the spread without getting a face full of Denard: crash. It's second and three early in the third quarter. Fitzgerald Toussaint has just taken an iso seven yards thanks to Molk and Hopkins making quick work of the NT and MLB.
Michigan will run an inside zone from an ace set. I'm pretty sure that Michigan screwed this up because I've never seen an inside zone play on which a guy who is not the end man on the line scrimmage is let go unless he's getting read. Here the backside DE is let go while Watson flares out to block a guy with a longer path to the ballcarrier.
Get used to both halves of this. Iowa is in a 4-3 under. The key guy is the DE at the top of the screen—the guy in a two point stance next to the standing SLB.
Michigan runs an inside zone. They double the NT and the SDE (at the bottom of the screen) as the linebackers flow to the LOS.
By the handoff point a couple things have happened. Both linebackers are at the LOS and engaged; the MLB is actually doubled by Lewan and Schofield. Sometimes a doubled LB means you've blocked a play so well that there's no one else to get. Not so much here.
I don't want to make too much of this because this is clearly a bust by the line (in all likelihood Lewan), but when I saw this I immediately wished Michigan was in the shotgun and Denard was reading the guy they let go. He'd have two choices: remain responsible on Denard and open that cutback up (he'd likely recover in time to tackle but not at the LOS) or do what he's doing now and put Denard one on one with the safety.
Similarly, with the linebackers one and two yards off the LOS, a pass like the one that started off their second hurry-up drive would be open. These things are all possible if you're reading the guy you've let go.
When you're not he just tackles you.
Toussaint does make the guy miss, but only by redirecting into a pile of bodies. He gets a yard. On the next play Michigan runs a QB power with Denard that Iowa is all over until two guys fall down after beating their blockers to the spot. Twenty two yards later they've got a first down. A field goal results.
Items of Interest
This seems strictly less effective than the same thing run from the gun. I'm not sure what the advantage of operating from under center on this can be. You hear a lot about getting downhill quickly as an advantage of playing from under center, but pistol sets and even Michigan's old belly setup where the QB is a yard in front of the tailback get guys going downhill pretty damn fast without giving up the mesh read.
The other advantage suggested by commenters when I tried to answer some guy's question about the advantages of the I-Form over the spread was an ability to keep your eyes on the coverage downfield instead of catching a shotgun snap*. Here Robinson turns his back to the defense and has no idea what's going on behind him until he turns around.
So… yeah. Living in a world without post-snap reads is giving up something when your quarterback is mobile.
This is an example of the "ten man football" Borges was talking about. Even so, the play should still work for a few yards. The blocking's decidedly mediocre—in the last few frames you see a DT chucking Omameh, forcing the cutback—but the nice thing about the zone is it's hard for the defense to be right when you've got an effective cutback runner. Toussaint is that.
If the backside end actually gets blocked, Toussaint looks like he has the cutback for decent yardage. While that safety is probably going to come down and hold it to a modest gain, the first down is well within reach. Lewan busts and Michigan gets zilch. That was a theme on the day: one guy doing something wrong on these run plays and Michigan getting stuffed.
I wonder if spread stuff has a greater failure tolerance. You'd think it would because you are optioning off a potential defender and therefore get a double on someone. The alternative is forcing a safety into the box, which isn't bad.
*[Something that didn't seem particularly convincing since the shotgun is the preferred passing formation for long-yardage situations and hurry-up even in the NFL.]
Opening remarks: “The first thing I’d say starting out is that was a tough loss for us on defense especially because when you’re a great defense, you find a way to win the ball game. When we looked at the tape afterwards, you saw a lot of really good things and things that we hadn’t done all year. Just made a couple crucial mistakes that we could have really done something. That’s what we talk about all the time with these defenses. Let’s take it to the next level where whatever has to happen, the defense has to win the game. We really felt like there was some times when we could have done it.”
Is there a good explanation for why Thomas Gordon didn’t see the field? “He and Troy have been in a battle for who’s going to be that safety. Troy had a better week of practice, and that’s how it’ll always be at Michigan. The guys who have the best week of practice are going to play. As the game went on, you felt like the guy wasn’t tired, the guy wasn’t hurt, so keep going with what you have out there. He has been a part of some turnovers, but there’s other things on film also that you may not see that we as coaches have to make a decision on who plays, and that was our decision.”
Is it hard to pull a guy who’s been so productive? “Getting turnovers is a big part of the defense, but 60 plays of how you do is what we as coaches do. And we watch it and evaluate, and our job is to decide who has the best chance to help you win in a certain offense in a certain scheme. And that’s the decision that we make.”
How is that competition going this week? “Good. Good. There’s a lot of competition. In fact, there’s a number of other guys who had really good practices today, so that’s how it’ll always be here. It’s always going to be that Tuesday, that Wednesday, that Thursday. That’s when you’re going to make the team. There’s a lot of guys that are real close.”
So is it Troy’s spot and Gordon has to win it back? “Everybody has to hold their spot every week in practice. Nobody is given a spot and says, ‘This is your spot, it’s yours.’ And that’s the way it is with every player on that defense.”
When Countess took the job from Troy, was it kind of the same situation? “That’s what we do. That’s what we do until 12 o’clock at night. That’s what we do after we’re done here. We go up there and we’ll watch every play of this practice. As a coach, your job is to make a decision who’s going to help you win that football game against this opponent. Some opponents are different than others. That’s what we do. Mike doesn’t have that position locked. Ryan Van Bergen doesn’t have that position locked. Craig Roh doesn’t have it locked. It’s what you do every day in practice.”
(more after the jump)
We're splitting the coordinators now, so Greg Mattison's transcript will be up after I eat something.
On the last four plays, do you wish you would have been able to call a run or a roll-out? “Yeah, you were going to struggle rolling out. They were in full blitz. Guys coming outside. I mean, you could roll out but your odds were not very good. Your best -- in four straight full blitzes, your best case scenario was the single coverage matchups. We got our hands on three out of four balls, but for whatever reason it didn’t work out. But not a lot of reservation about that. Like I said, rolling out conceptually sounds good, but when the edge isn’t clean, it doesn’t look as good as it sounds.”
Any thoughts of running on first down? “No. Absolutely not. 16 seconds with no timeouts? What’re you going to do? If you run the football inside of 18 seconds, your odds, if you fail, of getting back lined up to run another play are very very slim, not to mention you eliminate probably two calls. So that would be bad playcalling. Bad strategy.”
What about the last play, with two seconds left? “That’s a possibility. That’s a possibility, and it was a couple different options we could have used there. We chose the one we chose and it didn’t work out. I wish it would have. But that’s viable, but at three yards, again, if you don’t make it, you’re going to look silly. When you have a seven-man pressure staring at you in the eyes, superman’s going to struggle running through that.”
Has Denard gotten tentative running the ball? He looks slower. “I don’t think so. I haven’t timed him, but he doesn’t look any slower to me. So my answer to that is I don’t think he has. No. Not really.”
MGoInterjection: I did notice that on the outside runs, he constantly looks for the cutback … “Well, what’s happening on those is he’s got to start cutting off his outside foot. We talked about that. That’s happened twice now, maybe three times when we’re cutting off our inside foot and he slipped. So we’re getting that corrected.”
(more after the jump)
This week on Weekday Warriors, top-ranked Harrison loses a shocker to Brother Rice, Allen Gant puts up big numbers in defeat, I catch up with Matt Godin, Drake Johnson enters the commitment updates in style, and we get first-hand reports on both Sione Houma and Chris Wormley.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell defeated Briarcrest Christian, 40-14, in a first-round playoff matchup.
This week: The Big Red (6-5) host Baylor on Friday in the second round of the Tennessee state playoffs.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden tipped a pass to himself and turned it into a one-yard interception return for a touchdown as Colerain blew out Walnut Hills, 60-6, in their first-round playoff game. He also pinned Walnut Hills inside their 20 with a 30-yard punt, the only one of the game for Colerain.
This week: The Cardinals (10-1) host St. Xavier on Saturday.
MI OL Ben Braden
Rockford defeated Grand Ledge, 42-14, becoming the first team to score more than two touchdowns in a game against Grand Ledge this season. They accomplished that feat in the first quarter, and Braden helped block for a Rockford attack that racked up 220 yards and three touchdowns through the air and another 115 yards and two TDs on the ground.
This week: Rockford hosts Grand Blanc on Saturday at 1 in a regional final matchup.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Brown's season ended two weekends ago, as Brush finished the season with a 4-6 record.
KY S Jeremy Clark
No stats to report for Clark as North Hopkins defeated Allen County, 24-14, in their first-round playoff game.
This week: The Maroons host Franklin-Simpson on Friday in the second round of the playoffs.
MI TE Devin Funchess
Funchess hauled in one catch for 21 yards and had a handful of tackles (including one TFL) on defense for Harrison, but the Hawks fell to Brother Rice by a score of 30-7 in a district final upset featured in this week's Future Blue Originals. Funchess was limited in the second half after coming down hard going for a jump ball, appearing to injure his right leg, although he played through the pain.
This week: Harrison, last year's Division 2 state champs, finish the season with a 10-1 record.
Allen Gant scores a touchdown in Southview's playoff loss. (Photo credit: Amy E. Voigt, Toledo Blade)
OH S Allen Gant
Gant caught nine passes for 158 yards, including an 18-yard TD, but Southview yielded 27 unanswered points in the second half en route to falling to McKinley, 49-21, in the first round of the state playoffs.
This week: The Cougars host McKinley on Saturday at 7 in the first round of the state playoffs.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin texted me that he recorded 11 tackles as Catholic Central took down Canton, 21-14, to win the district title. The Shamrock defense held Canton to just 277 yards of total offense. I was able to catch up with Matt at the Harrison-Brother Rice game—where he was pulling for his fellow Catholic League squad—and he said he was happy with his and the team's performance, as well as being impressed by the play of Funchess, Mario Ojemudia, and Brother Rice linebacker Jon Reschke ("he hits hard"). Godin is looking forward to his regional final matchup against Pioneer, who features Michigan's newest commit, Drake Johnson—Godin was aware that Pioneer ran their offense almost entirely through Johnson, and seemed excited for what will be a major battle in the trenches.
This week: The Shamrocks host Pioneer on Saturday at 1. If any enterprising MGoReaders want to scout the game (I'll be watching Michigan, since it's a 3:30 kickoff this week), I'd love to hear some reports on Godin, Wyatt Shallman, and Drake Johnson.
UT FB Sione Houma
Houma was limited to 62 yards on 18 carries as Highland fell to Logan in the second round of the playoffs, 28-13. Stopping Houma was a major point of emphasis for Logan:
Michigan-bound fullback Sione Houma was held to 62 yards on 18 carries a week after rushing for more than 200 yards.
"We weren't going to let him beat us," Favero said of Houma. "... We hung in there and did a nice job tackling him. We were fortunate he didn't have any huge plays."
We also have a reader report from MGoUser dcallen39, who sent this in via email:
First, statistically Houma got 17 carries for 64 yards (my brother and I tried to track the yardage as best as we could from our seats). I'm not sure how he has been used in other games but Houma was mostly used as a full back running a dive. I only noticed 3 of his runs going out to the edge and usually he produced well out there. Highland as a team looked sloppy with their quarterback Anthony Smithson running a wishbone type offense with little ability to make good decisions or any throws. I never saw a Logan defensive back lined up more than 6 yards off the line of scrimmage. Houma in general has a large lower body with big legs moving his listed 210 pound body. His upper body looks a little small for a fullback, but he seems to have room to grow. On defense I counted about 4 solo tackles for Houma, who lines up as the outside linebacker. He also seemed to be involved with about 3 other tackles.
I actually ended up talking to Houma's mom and his brothers for a moment; they were excited about Sione going to Michigan and they hope to be able to visit him out there when he is playing.
The Rams finish the season with a 7-4 record.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Jenkins-Stone carried the ball six times for 15 yards and a four-yard touchdown and also caught two passes for 46 yards and a six-yard TD as Cass Tech knocked off Dearborn Fordson, 33-7, to win their district title.
This week: The Technicians head to Lake Shore High School to face Shane Morris and Warren De La Salle on Friday at 7. I'll be there for this week's Future Blue Originals.
MI RB Drake Johnson
Michigan's newest commit rushed for 347 yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries while also completing his lone pass attempt for 42 yards as Pioneer defeated Temperance Bedford, 35-10, to take the district title.
This week: Pioneer travels to Catholic Central for a regional final matchup on Saturday at 1.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
St. Edward dominated in the trenches and defeated Cleveland Heights, 28-14, in a first-round playoff game.
This week: The Eagles have a chance to avenge one of their three losses this season as they face St. Ignatius on Saturday.
The rest of this week's updates follow after the jump.