About Last Saturday:
Purdue 14, Michigan 36
Caption contest. Go.
The Road Ahead:
Iowa (5-3, 2-2 B1G)
Last game: Iowa 21, Minnesota 22 (L)
Recap: The only thing worse than questing for title of “Worst Big Ten Team EVER” is losing to that team, which Iowa did on Saturday. Flags in Iowa City flew at half mast to honor the death of Gopherquest -- and themselves, in the eyes of Brian Cook.
Two deaths and a funeral indeed.
Let’s take a look at the autopsy report: Thanks to a couple missed field goals, the game was close through the third quarter until Iowa scored to go ahead 21-10 early in the fourth, seemingly poised to finally wrest it out of Minnesota’s reach.
After a Hawkeyes fumble and Gophers field goal, however, Minnesota converted a fourth and one from their own 42 and scored a touchdown a couple plays later.
The Gophers onside kicked, catching Iowa by surprise. Minnesota recovered and miraculously scored again on a fourth-down conversion at the Iowa three.
Flailing, the Hawkeyes went four-and-out and were then helpless to stop the Gophers from running out the clock.
Remarkably, Iowa RB Marcus Coker carried the ball 32 times for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns in an outstanding effort no Iowa fan will ever remember. Imagine if Pheidippides had made it all the way to Athens only to collapse before delivering his message. Instead of inspiring an entire culture of running a couple millenia later, now he’s just a clammy dead guy.
Right now they are as frightening as: A watered down version of 2007 Michigan immediately post-Horror -- not as good, therefore not as embarrassed. Still hiding under a blanky though. 5.
Michigan should worry about: The first real manball team on the schedule not playing in a trash tornado. Also the last.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Iowa had the rhabdomyolysis problem in the offseason, which seems to have scared the CARA out of the strength staff. (Do you see what I did there?)
As a result, Iowa’s defense looks like it’s been playing Wii Fit in lieu of real conditioning. They made Iowa State QB Steele Jantz look like Andrew Luck, allowed Penn State to go Look-Ma-No-QB, and couldn’t stop Marqueis Gray when it mattered -- incidentally, all of these things happened in the fourth quarter.
When Michigan plays them: 2011 Iowa is undefeated at home. 2011 Michigan is undefeated in November. Immovable object meet unstoppable force? Hah.
For realsies now: Iowa’s best win was against Pitt. This was the game where Vandenberg led the epic comeback against a Tony Gibson coached secondary, earning him the Vandenhenneberg moniker. The joke is getting stale, but if you were still wondering, that along with BGHP’s gushing comparison at the beginning of the season is where it comes from. Their next best win was against Northwestern, and you know all about Northwestern’s secondary. And then if you keep looking you fall off a cliff right before the Indianas and Lousiana-Monroes of the world, where concerns about the secondary are, well … secondary.
Sorry, I had to do that.
The Wolverines secondary is much better these days, having survived Alex Carder, Michael Floyd, Dan Persa, and B.J. Cunningham (electing to fall prey to Keshawn Martin instead). Teams succeeded against VandenMcHenneNutt by preventing deep routes. Michigan’s inside-and-in-front philosophy should be able to do at least that.
And then there’s the issue of the Hawkeyes defense. Their major breakdowns tend to happen late in the game due to the aforementioned stamina problems. Aside from targeting specific weakness (see Ace’s FFFF), offensive playcalling that spreads and stretches the field laterally to wear down Iowa defenders would be a smart approach, especially early in the game.
(more after the jump)
Formation notes: We have lost control of the Denard categorization. Here's a quasi-Fritz with two twinned WRs:
They also ran this without the overload. Note the covered TE. Michigan's been covering the TE for big chunks of this year but never quite as frequently as they did in this game.
We also got Denard in the slot in a not-weird formation:
Denard was also an outside WR in a conventional ace set. On all of these plays he came in motion for a jet sweep fake or ran the end-around motion.
There was also the triple stack that featured in the Multiple Flood picture pages.
Michigan deployed a variant of this with double stacks on both sides of the LOS.
Substitution notes: The line was what it ususally is except Barnum got three drives towards the end of the half before tweaking his ankle and they finally pulled Lewan on the last drive I charted. Gardner you know about; he's getting a dozen or so snaps per game.
Hopkins played 80% of the FB snaps; Toussaint was the main back with Smith featuring in occasionally and getting his usual massive throwback screen; Shaw was the third guy. WR rotation was the usual. Jeremy Jackson may be getting a little more PT as the year progresses. Brandon Moore got in some actual snaps in place of Watson.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M30||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||15|
|Koger and Lewan block down with Molk and Schofield pulling and Hopkins acting as another lead blocker. Lewan(+1) buries the interior of the Purdue line. Koger(+2) has a battle on his hands; he eventually wins it, sealing the playside DE and giving Toussaint the outside. Molk(+1) shoves a linebacker attacking from the inside to the ground and Schofield kicks out the playside LB. Toussaint has a crease and his FB has no one to block until the first down marker. This makes yards.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Koger(2), Schofield, Molk||RUN-:|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||QB iso||Robinson||5|
|WDE jumps the snap count; Denard fumbles said snap. This doesn't have much impact on the play since it's going up the middle on a QB draw/iso type thing and he was going to delay anyway; the delay is now just picking up the ball. Omameh(+1) takes on a heavy rush from one DT and shoves him upfield, out of the play. Molk(+0.5) gets an easy downfield block on one LB; Smith(+1) has to dance through some traffic to get out on his guy; Robinson starts cutting behind those blocks into the secondary when Huyge(-1) loses his guy upfield; that guy disconnects to tackle.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Smith, Molk(0.5), Robinson(0.5)||RUN-: Huyge|
|50||2||5||Denard jet||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Jet stretch||Robinson||-1|
|This is basically an outside zone. DE blows way upfield of Koger(-1), cutting off the outside and taking out Smith. Robinson is now hesitant(-1); instead of bursting to one side or the other of Molk's block he slows up, slips to the ground, and loses yardage. The cutback was there because Schofield(+0.5) slashed the backside DE to the ground; hitting it up hard past Molk would have gotten a few.|
|RUN+: Schofield(0.5), Molk(0.5)||RUN-: Koger, Robinson(2)|
|M49||3||6||Shotgun stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Comeback||Hemingway||10|
|Three WRs stacked behind each other on the wide side of the field. They split, with Grady on an out, Roundtree a post, and Hemingway a comeback. Denard steps up into a clean pocket on a five man rush and zips it to Hemingway, who is covered well. Good timing. This looks like a passing offense. You know. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||TE Out||Koger||Inc|
|Robinson looks left, pumps left, comes to the TE out right, and nearly throws a pick as Holland undercuts the route and gets his hands on the ball. Preview of his INT here. Wonder if Borges saw something that looked vulnerable that Purdue changed. (BR, 0, protection 2/2) This isn't hesitation or anything—Robinson throws the ball just as Koger turns for it. Purdue only had six in the box, which screams “check to run” to me.|
|O41||2||10||Fritz twins||2||1||2||Nickel even||Run||Reverse||Gallon||11 – 15 Pen|
|Screenshot above. Backside DE is keeping contain on Gardner; when he sees the handoff he takes off after Robinson. When Gallon gets it he's done. Gardner(+1) gets the key block on the containing corner; once that guy is being fussed with there's no one inside to deal with Gallon. Hemingway(-1) did not get out on the LB over him (Holland); that guy eventually runs down the line to tackle. This is pretty bad by Hemingway, who had all day to seal off a basically stationary opponent. RPS+2. Lewan gets a personal foul about 30 yards downfield; no replay.|
|RUN+: Gardner, Gallon||RUN-: Hemingway|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||6|
|Simple pitch and catch with Purdue evidently in man. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O39||2||4||Denard jet||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Counter pitch||Smith||5|
|Jet motion, fake handoff, outside pitch with pullers. These are Huyge and Molk w/ Omameh and Koger blocking down. Koger(+1) seals his guy with authority; Huyge(+1) kicks out the corner; Molk(+1) picks off Holland; Schofield(-1) watched Holland, his intended block, run too far outside too quickly and turns around instead of trying to get out on the safety. Safety tackles|
|RUN+: Koger, Molk, Huyge||RUN-: Schofield|
|O34||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 over||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||23|
|WR in the backfield motions out. They run the play that always works. It works. Huyge(+1) gets enough of the corner and that's all she wrote. Molk is sitting, waiting for someone to block who never actually makes contact. Ditto Omameh. Omameh(+1) did do a good job of maintaining a position that caused the safety to keep backing up; he can't do anything when the guy lunges at Gallon twenty yards downfield. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)|
|RUN+: Huyge, Gallon, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O11||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Toussaint||8|
|Same motion. With two TEs, one covered, to the same side of the line as a tucked-in Odoms this screams run outside. It is run outside. Playside DE is beaten by Watson(+2), ending up pancaked five yards downfield. With that edge gone Purdue is in trouble. Koger(+0.5) kicks the CB; Schofield(+0.5) gets a shove on the playside LB; Odoms blocks Holland, a LB, to the ground. Toussaint can run until the last guy cuts him down. This was also massively open on the cutback with Lewan(+1) crushing one TE and Molk peeling back to get the other when no one showed for him.|
|RUN+: Watson(2), Koger(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Odoms, Lewan, Molk||RUN-:|
|O3||2||2||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 over||Run||Zone read belly||Smith||1|
|Short clubs Schofield(-2) to the inside; all Schofield has to do is have a mediocre handle on him and this is likely a TD with the backside DT getting doubled and Denard holding that DE outside. As it is Smith has to cut back and still gets tackled by Short. He did a good job just to get his yard.|
|RUN+: Smith||RUN-: Schofield|
|O2||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||QB power||Robinson||2|
|Purdue has a stunt on that clears a big hole right where the play is going. Two LBs flow hard into it. Omameh(+1) pulls into Holland and puts him on the ground; Toussaint(+0.5) stands up the other. Robinson(+1) cuts back behind them and reaches the endzone before the backside help can run him down.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh, Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||2|
|Denard in the slot, running end-around action. This pulls the playside DE way upfield; Toussaint cuts back behind as Omameh(+0.5) and Huyge(+0.5) double and blow up the playside DT. Toussaint is cutting behind that block and is about to hit it up into the safeties creeping to the LOS when Schofield's guy fights through his block and tackles as he passes the LOS. -1 Schofield. I don't think Toussaint did anything wrong here since he's trying to hit it north-south and hugging the hip of that double. He can't expect this DT to come in out of nowhere.|
|RUN+: Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5)||RUN-: Schofield|
|M39||2||8||Fritz 2WR||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||HB pass||Gallon||Inc|
|Counter pitch that's actually a halfback pass. Smith has pressure from a DE keeping contain and Gallon is covered; Smith chucks it anyway. Fortunately incomplete. Not charted as a pass because he's a tailback. RPS -1.|
|M39||3||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Dig||Roundtree||12|
|Initial protection is okay until a stunt gets a DE in past Omameh. Toussaint picks the guy up in a Smith-like fashion, giving Denard time to whip it to an open dig route Roundtree is running. Ball is deflected near the LOS but still gets there. Tough to judge; results-based charting. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Rollout hitch||Jackson||5|
|Rolled pocket; Denard shoots it out to a short hitch Jackson is running. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O44||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||1|
I don't get why the WRs run off their opposition, including Hemingway. Seems like Hemingway should block down on the playside LB over the slot, which would open up the outside run. This doesn't happen; shouldn't really matter because the DE leaps out on Smith, as does playside LB, and Denard(+1) pulls correctly. This opens up big except for Schofield(-2) losing a downblock—very bad—and the playside DT getting in the lane. Denard has to cut back behind him, which exposes him to Short once Molk trips over the now-prone Schofield. Robinson should have just kept running; he had a big enough gap to run outside the DT and pick up a few. Plus revoked. RPS +1.
|O43||3||4||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Okie||Pass||TE Out||Koger||INT|
|Smith's hitch is covered; Denard comes off it to another hitch. Holland fakes a blitz and backs out right into this TE out; Denard throws it anyway. The out further outside was open enough for the first (probably); a missed read based on a bad pre-snap assumption. (BR, 0, protection 1/1) RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M22||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Down G||Toussaint||-2|
|Barnum in on this drive until the end of the half. Schofield has struggled so far. Safety rolled up for an eighth guy in the box. Moore(-1) fires off well but gets inside of his DE and allows him to flow upfield. Omameh is pulling outside of the twin TEs and gets submarined in the backfield by the hard-charging safety. Not his fault. With Moore not sealing his guy Toussaint has no options other than bouncebouncebounce, but he's not Shaw and he reads it late, tripping over Omameh instead of trying to beat the linebackers to the outside. RPS -1. RUN-: Moore, Toussaint|
|M20||2||12||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 over||Pass||Sack||--||-8|
|Second and twelve I-Form Big play action is basically asking the defensive coordinator 'are you stupid?' Turns out the answer is no. The playside DE gives negative ten thousand respect to the run, instead shooting upfield past Schofield, who has no chance, and the RBs, who are faking a run, to sack Robinson. (PR, 0, protection 0/3, team -3, RPS -2)|
|M12||3||20||Shotgun stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Rollout corner||Roundtree||49|
|Four rushers and a spy; Robinson rolls as the playside DT shoots playside, getting outside and forcing Robinson to pull up. He's got a huge pocket, so no problem. He's also got Roundtree for a big gain on a deep corner route, rifling it to him 40 yard downfield. Pass is a little short or this could be a touchdown. Still... man, do this more often. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1... getting a guy open deep on third and 20.) Featured in Picture Pages.|
|O39||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Fly||Gallon||INT|
|Denard slot, end around fake. Gardner actually has Hemingway coming open behind the Denard freakout but throws an awful pass sort of at Gallon that's easily intercepted. I complained about this on the podcast; I was wrong. This is all Gardner. Borges got a guy open for a 20 yard gain. (BRX, 0, protection 3/3, RPS +1) Also featured in Picture Pages.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q. Next play is a safety; Michigan gets a good return and 15-yard penalty to set them up in plus territory on the next drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read stretch||Toussaint||17|
|Oh, God, how I've missed this. Backside DE has contain; handoff. Molk(+2) reaches the balls off the playside DT. He gets a little help from Barnum but not much. This is mostly Molk bucket-stepping around the DT, taking the little bit of momentum Barnum took away from the guy and introducing him to the turf. That means you are dead, defense. Lewan(+1) kicks out the playside DE like whoah and Toussaint(+2) hits the gaping hole. He cuts inside a LB doing well to get out into two blockers and runs right past Holland, breaking one safety tackle and nearly cutting past the last safety for six; not quite. He settles for the first.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Toussaint(2)||RUN-:|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||2|
|Barnum and Molk pull; Lewan(+1) blocks down on the playside DT and blows him up. Koger(+1) does likewise to the playside DE. Omameh(-0.5) and Huyge(-0.5) don't get a serious delay on the backside DT, leaving him to run down the line; Robinson is contained and about to cut it back behind the pullers to get as many yards as he can before that DT nails him (five or six) when he slips to the turf. Rats.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Koger||RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5)|
|O26||2||8||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-4 even||Run||Sweep||Smith||4|
|Safety in the box for eight. Michigan runs the same blocking scheme at the other side of the line, pulling Molk and Omameh as they try to get outside the TE. Koger(+1) controls, seals, and blows up the playside DE. Omameh(+0.5) kicks the playside LB. McColgan(+1) manages to duck inside of this and dives at the legs of the MLB, getting a two-for one; Smith(+1) cuts up in the right spot and bursts into the secondary. RPS-1; the reason this is so tough is because Molk got shot back by a DL when he tried to pull and was made useless.|
|RUN+: Koger, McColgan, Smith, Omameh(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O22||3||4||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Speed option||Robinson||2|
|Robinson checks and then Purdue flips their line at the last second in response. They're still moving at the snap. Michigan runs a speed option and Purdue is out on it, getting a guy to drive Lewan(-1) back without getting sealed; Odoms can't get a block on the edge, Watson sees two guys outside of him... the outside is screwed. Robinson cuts up, where there's no room because Molk(-1) didn't get any help for Omameh on a tough reach block on a guy he didn't expect to be there. That guy and a safety lined up about seven yards off the LOS combine to tackle. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: FG(37), 12-7, 11 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||16|
|Purdue makes this easy, as they're zone blitzing. The playside DE starts to drop into man coverage on Koger... who is covered up by Gallon and can't go into a route. Derp. Koger(+1) blocks down. Toussaint(+1) sees the total lack of edge and bounces it out, outrunning Holland to the edge. Gallon(+1) got a sustained block downfield to help, but this is just a gift. RPS+1.|
|RUN+: Koger, Toussaint, Gallon||RUN-:|
|M33||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||2|
|Only six in the box so this should work; it doesn't. Omameh(-2) is chucked to the ground by Short. Since this is directly in the path of Robinson that is an issue. Gallon(-1) loses the corner lined up over him and those two combine to tackle. RUN-: Gallon, Omameh(2)|
|M35||2||8||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Penalty||Offsides||--||5|
|Hard count gets them; Robinson kneels instead of taking the free play.|
|M40||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||16|
|I think? Lewan pulls... away from where Toussaint is running. This may be a bust. Purdue dives inside and Lewan walls off Short as Toussaint runs to the backside, finding two unblocked defenders he simply outruns to the corner.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Lewan(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||4-3 over||Pass||PA fade||Gallon||42|
|Aw, man, I don't know. Doug Karsch says he overheard Denard talking about throwing it outside($) here so I'll give the benefit of the doubt, but.. man. I don't know. Anyway, PA fake with Barnum pulling outside to get the containing DE. Toussaint(-1) then sets up to block a guy who is already blocked and lets a linebacker in on Denard. Robinson chucks it off his back foot to the outside; Gallon adjusts and makes the catch. (CA+, 2, protection ½, Toussaint -1)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||2|
|Interior line blows the DTs off the ball. Molk, Omameh +1. Toussaint can hit it straight upfield and get in unless a safety takes him down at like the inch line. Instead he bounces, making a move outside and then a second shift that gets him into the endzone. Not a huge fan of the bounce here so no plus.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Barnum||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 19-7, 5 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||28|
|Barnum pulls; Smith takes the playside DE upfield and Denard pulls the ball out. Barnum(+1) kicks the too-aggressive Holland and Denard(+1) shoots up in the hole; Omameh(+1) dealt with Short well enough to prevent him from even waving an arm. Huyge(+1) is fighting a linebacker the whole play, gets turned around, and manages to latch back on; Grady(+1) blocks another dude and Denard(+1) jets between them. Smith actually breaks his stride by running past him as he threatens to run straight into the endzone; the jump outside gives the corner an angle. Denard runs OOB. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Barnum, Omameh, Huyge, Grady||RUN-:|
|Barnum(-2) driven back by Short. This is right in the lane Toussaint wants; he has to cut back. Omameh is chucked downfield by the other DT, which isn't really his fault because he's trying to seal him under the assumption the play will go to the other side. DT and unblocked backside DE tackle. RUN-: Barnum(2)|
|O24||2||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Counter pitch||Smith||7|
|Denard at WR. Purdue doesn't seem taken in by the fake but Michigan manballs them anyway. Key is again Koger(+2) dominating the playside DE. He manages to get slightly outside the hash on the LOS and then is sealed. Barnum(+1) shot out on the MLB and got in his feet, delaying him. Huyge(+1) kicks out the corner; Molk(+1) blocks the playside LB and Smith has a big lane. He runs into it; Molk's guy does a good job to come off the block and deliver a thumping no-YAC tackle.|
|RUN+: Molk, Huyge, Koger(2), Barnum||RUN-:|
|O17||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power||Robinson||4|
|Blitz up the middle sees Omameh(+0.5) knock the blitzer back but he bounces off and gets playside; Huyge(+1) buries short; Koger(+1) deals with another crappy playside DE. Smith(+1) pops the linebacker in the hole and Denard, after initially taking it too far outside, dodges a charging safety and picks up the first.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Koger, Smith, Omameh(0.5)||RUN-:|
|I guess he has a shot at this if it's thrown to the corner of the endzone but it's way short and Roundtree ends up playing defense on it. He had Koger wide open on the other side of the field in the flat; guy could have probably walked into the endzone. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O13||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 over||Pass||Throwaway||Hemingway||Inc|
|Ton of time but the routes here are weird with Hemingway running a corner route and both other WRs to the trips side just kind of hanging out. Robinson can't find anyone quickly and by the time he comes off the right side of the field everything's covered. He chucks it out of the endzone. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|O13||3||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Nickel even||Pass||Hitch||Moore||9|
|Protection is good; Molk's guy eventually comes around him on a DT stunt he manages to track and get a cut on. This is only a delay; Robinson steps and fires. Some confusion in the zone defense opens both Moore and Gallon up, Gallon on a drag and Moore on a ten-yard hitch. Drag is better but the hitch is there and zinged accurately; Moore makes the catch in traffic to set up fourth and short. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O4||4||1||Ace||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||QB sneak||Robinson||3|
|They get it.|
|O1||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Goal line||Run||QB draw||Robinson||-4|
|This is the Zookian thing. Barnum's hopping around on one leg, Michigan's burning 20 seconds off the clock, they're running a QB draw from the one... not good ideas, these. Barnum(-2) is blown backwards and his guy annihilates Robinson in the backfield. I won't charge this to Barnum because he's clearly hurt.|
|O5||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Throwaway||Koger||Inc|
|Michigan blows a stunt pickup spectacularly because Schofield(-2) does not get enough depth and allows the DE to dive inside of him. Robinson is instantly pressured. He avoids the first guy but has broken the pocket now and has little time. He backs up and throws one off his back foot that is in the general direction of Koger but not catchable. This is on the OL. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Schofield -2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(22), 22-7, EOH. Barnum leaves for rest of game.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M33||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Toussaint||3|
|Koger motions to an offset FB and tucked in WR. Let's have a pitch. Michigan... pitches. Purdue didn't really adjust much and is now shifted away from obvious pitch side. Denard almost screws it up but realizes where the play is going belatedly and gets the ball out. This time (finally) the playside DE holds the edge. Purdue has pulled the guy Michigan was killing off the field. Koger(-1) can't seal the guy, who ends up running all the way to the sideline. Roundtree(-1) shoulders the playside LB and runs by him; Schofield(+1) cuts the MLB. This is all pretty irrelevant because of the DE stringing it to the sideline, exposing Toussaint to a safety.|
|RUN+: Schofield||RUN-: Koger, Roundtree|
|M36||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer sweep||Smith||6 + 15 Pen|
|Playside DE forms up as if it's a zone read so Denard(+1) gives. Good read. Omameh is pulling into space with just one linebacker out there as Lewan(+0.5) got out on an unprepared WLB. Smith(-1) should cut off Omameh's rear to set up that block and burst to the safeties; instead he runs to the edge. Gallon(+1) gets a good sustained block; Hemingway can't prevent his guy from bursting upfield but I think he's in good shape if this actually cuts where it should. RPS +1. Facemask tacked on.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan(0.5), Gallon||RUN-: Smith|
|O43||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||2|
This doesn't seem like a great idea with eight in the box. Hopkins(-1) fails to kick the DE, who comes under him. He can do this with impunity because there's a LB hanging over the slot ready to kill any bounces. Short comes through a double from Huyge(-1) and Omameh(-1) and the two DL combine to tackle at the line. Tempted to RPS-1 this... I used to do this for I-form runs at a stacked boxes.
RUN-: Hopkins, Huyge(0.5), Omameh(0.5)
|O41||2||8||Fritz 2WR||2||1||2||4-3 over||Pass||Throwback screen||Smith||26|
|It always works and it works. Sweep handoff fake to Denard with Gardner rolling to the same side the fake is headed to, so anyone keying on anything is headed to the field. Lovely to watch the backside DE hold up on the fake and then start hauling after Gardner. By the time the pass gets to Smith, nine Purdue defenders are done. The one frigging guy left in the area beats Molk, but I don't really blame Molk, because he should be able to pass said guy to Schofield except both of the other OL are screaming downfield at one safety. Smith(+1) does well to avoid the guy and let Molk set up another block but the delay prevents this from being six points. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3)|
|RUN+: Smith||RUN-: Schofield|
|O15||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Toussaint||8|
|WR motioning out, Odoms tight to the 2TE side. Pitch? Pitch. Watson(+1) blows up the playside DE, who is the replacement for the other DE who was getting killed. Playside LB inexplicably hits it up inside of the Watson block, erasing himself. Molk peels unnecessarily. Toussaint still has plenty of room with Omameh and Koger leading; he hops outside of Koger, which is maybe not the best idea, but then makes up for it by dancing past a couple tacklers to pick up some YAC. RPS+1.|
|RUN+: Watson, Toussaint, Omameh, Koger||RUN-: Molk|
|O7||2||2||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||5|
|Same story, really. Purdue's DEs suck. This time #2 dives inside late and submarines McColgan, which just bounces Omameh and Toussaint outside. Gotta get two for one to spill. Schofield(+0.5) seals Short with help from Lewan(+0.5); Lewan pops out on LB; Omameh(+1) pulls around to get the last LB after the McColgan business is dealt with, and Toussaint cuts straight upfield once Omameh sets the block up.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Lewan(0.5), McColgan(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||-3|
|Omameh(-2) chucked immediately, blocking no one. McColgan(-1) peels to try to block the guy shooting past Omameh and blocks no one. Many people converge on Toussaint. RUN-: Omameh(2), McColgan|
|O5||2||G||Fritz 2WR||2||1||2||Goal line||Pass||Scramble||Gardner||4|
|Fritz-based rollout gets Gardner the edge and he correctly decides to run for it since his receivers are covered. He nears the goal line and slows up, which is the difference between falling forward into the endzone and getting spun 180 and not making it. (SCR, N/A, N/A)|
|O1||3||G||Ace||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||FB dive||Toussaint||1|
|Toussaint over the top again. This play has run its course and people know it's coming, but this is about an inch from getting in.|
|O1||4||in||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||QB power||Robinson||0|
|Omameh has no chance to pull as Short plunges into the line and nails him. Without that lead blocker and with a crappy block from Toussaint on the edge, two guys can converge on Robinson at the goal line. RPS -1. RUN-: Toussaint|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 22-7, 9 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Iso||Hopkins||1|
|Schofield(-1) is beaten upfield; McColgan aborts to block Short. Omameh(-1) beaten as well and while it's not quite as bad his DT tackles at the LOS. Hopkins(-1) had a massive open cutback lane that makes me think the OL blocked this just fine and he should be running at the gap left by the Purdue defense pursuing playside while the end deals with an end-around fake. McColgan is the only thing that stops me from making this assessment. Still, this is pretty terrible by Hopkins. RUN-: Hopkins, Omameh, Schofield|
|M21||2||9||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||6|
|Inside zone read for the first or second time today. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) blow the playside DT five yards downfield. This engulfs the LBs. Omameh(-1) loses Short and a less comprehensive asskicking on the playside DT would end this play. Gallon(+1) is cracking down on the safety and does well to push him past Smith(+1) who similarly does well to dance past the falling S. Corner is left; Smith makes contact at four yards and goes down at six.|
|RUN+: Smith, Molk, Gallon, Schofield||RUN-: Omameh|
|M27||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Dig||Gallon||14|
|WR stacks on both sides of the line. LB takes Hemingway's hitch, opening Gallon up on a dig route inside of it. Looks like Purdue is in man and got killed by the routes. Robinson nails Gallon in the chest for the first down. Well executed all around. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|M41||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Counter pitch||Toussaint||59|
|Purdue shows man on the motion and has their LBs shifted to the side this play eventually goes to. Purdue has gone back to their original DE; Koger(+2) again kicks his ass at the LOS, sealing him inside the hash. One LB blitzes. Another immediately peels outside looking for this play; there is a second LB on the playside and a safety. That's three. Lewan(+1) kicks one out. One LB keeps leverage, one safety overruns it. Toussaint cuts back. Molk peeled back to deal with the blitzer; blitzer read the play and then pursued out of Molk's reach. As Toussaint nears that guy's pursuit he cuts back behind the meta-pursuing Molk(+1), who picks off the over-pursuing safety. Toussaint slid past this guy on his own. Now past the first level he cuts inside the backside DE's pursuit, sees a gap between the last two guys, and engages the afterburners. Total carnage for Toussaint: four decisions, five Purdue players left in his wake. +4. Replay.|
|RUN+: Koger(2), Lewan, Molk, Toussaint(4), Omameh||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 29-7, 2 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M14||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Iso||Toussaint||6|
|Purdue is shifted to the strong side on the line and in the LBs, so M runs weak at the gap between their one tech and WDE. I think they've also subbed some backups in. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) deposit the playside DT five yards downfield and that's all she wrote on an iso. McColgan(+1) also gets a good block; Toussaint is about to burst into the secondary when he's chopped down from behind by a linebacker Schofield couldn't pop out on quick enough.|
|RUN+: McColgan, Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Schofield(0.5)|
|M20||2||4||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 over||Run||Zone read stretch||Toussaint||0|
|Fail by alignment here; line and LBs shifted playside before the snap. The frontside of this play is blocked really well, with Omameh(+1) cutting the backside DT , Molk(+1) getting into the playside guy and driving him downfield, and three guys getting blocked outside of this but Huyge has no shot at the WLB; he darts into the hole and tackles. RPS -1. Not that I should be tracking RPS anymore.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Schofield|
|M20||3||4||Shotgun stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||9|
|Just five in the box. You are in little jean shorts in a 1980s Heat of the Night episode, Purdue: asking for it. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) blast one DT; Molk moves out on the single LB. Omameh maintains a block on that DT forever w/ some help from Robinson, who sets the guy up one way, then cuts back behind. Linebacker comes up to hack him down, but this was easy. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Molk, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M29||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Toussaint||10|
|Same play as first in this drive w/ no adjustment from Purdue. Schofield(+1) bangs the playside DT; Molk starts blocking him and Schofield pops out on the MLB. Lewan kicks out the DE; Hopkins(+1) gets a thumping kickout on the SLB. That's a big gap and no linebackers. Toussaint to the secondary. He feints outside and comes back inside, getting tackled by the filling safety. RPS+1.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Schofield, Molk(0.5), Lewan(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M39||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Iso||Toussaint||5|
|Same setup, same play. LBs are quicker to the hole, forcing a cutback. Schofield and Hopkins still wall them off; Toussaint smoothly cuts behind them to bend it back. Eighth guy in the box comes from the slot to tackle. Molk(+1) made this by kicking backup NT's butt.|
|RUN+: Molk, Toussaint, Schofield(0.5), Hopkins(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M44||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||19|
|Playside DE is in no man's land; Denard keeps. Playside DT held off by Omameh(0.5). SLB gone on the RB fake; Huyge(+1) gets a block on the MLB; Gallon(+1) is cracking down on the hard-charging safety and can't quite seal him but does give him a good whack that spins him backwards. That is one hell of a lot of room since the RB fake took two guys. Denard into the secondary, where he cuts outside, outruns Holland to the sideline, and tiptoes for a nice gain. RPS+2.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Huyge, Omameh(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O37||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Shaw||37|
|The iso culmination. End around-fake removes the playside DE. Schofield(-1) is hit back too much for the playside to remain relevant; Shaw cuts back behind. Instead of bouncebouncebounce he finds a lane behind Omameh(+1),who is riding a DT down the line, and Huyge(+1) who started to release downfield and then peeled back when no one showed and the backside LB stayed outside. Molk(+0.5) also got a block on a linebacker. Shaw(+3) shifts backside and hits the hole, bursting through a lame tackle attempt and hitting the afterburners. RPS +1 for pulling the DE out.|
|RUN+: Shaw(3), Huyge, Omameh, Molk(0.5)||RUN-: Schofield|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 36-7, 12 min 4th Q.|
|M1||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Power off tackle||Shaw||14|
|Mealer in for Lewan, Huyge to LT. Schofield(+1) makes perhaps the best pull I've seen from a guard this year, getting down the line quickly and planting the MLB. Short is doubled out of the play by Koger(+0.5) and Mealer(+0.5). Hopkins just manages to kick the playside DE, who almost makes a diving tackle near the LOS, but does not. Shaw(+1) breaks outside and outruns Holland to the edge.|
|RUN+: Schofield(2), Koger(0.5), Mealer(0.5), Shaw||RUN-:|
|M15||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Power off tackle||Shaw||3|
|Playside DE gets inside of the Hopkins lead block and Holland is actually on the edge for once. Shaw considers bouncing when he sees the DE get inside Hopkins but reconsiders and hits it up for a modest gain. Average all around, I guess. Tempted to RPS -1 this but it is 36-7.|
|M18||2||7||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Down G||Shaw||1|
|Michigan just running into stacked lines now with Gardner on the field, so I should stop charting. Here the DE does dive inside again and cause some confusion; Molk has to get around this and get a block on one of the LBs; he does so but that guy still has the agility to get around and tackle from behind.|
|M19||3||6||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Shaw||3|
|Koger(+1) seals the edge; Huyge(-1) runs past a flowing LB that Molk can't get out on; Shaw is driven outside and should really do a better job of hitting this up but... whatever.|
|RUN+: Koger||RUN-: Huyge|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 36-7, 7 min 4th Q. I shouldn't have even done this last drive.|
I feel adrift in a sea of unknowing.
A sea of unknowing, yards and points.
Fair enough. What about this multiple business?
Well, the money quote from Borges that has been replicated all across the places-that-quote-Al-Borges-sphere:
“That’s really what we’ve wanted to do all year. With two weeks to get ready and some careful considerations with regard to not getting our quarterback beat up, that was a huge issue. We worked hard on trying to get back to what we originally wanted to do. We wanted to be more of a combination of pro to spread offense without, of course, completely divorcing ourselves from spread concepts. We still run a lot of it, but that is closer to what we wanted in the beginning. We just weren’t executing very well. Touss did a great job, and the offensive line moved some people, not only on the line of scrimmage but also on the perimeter.”
This is the direction the offense is headed long-term. There will be all kinds of formations that are rarely the same three plays in a row, shotgun mixed in with big I-form sets, presnap motion up the wazoo, and weird packages that change on a week to week basis.
You say long-term. Isn't this a post-bye week ability to insert more of the actual offense effective immediately?
Maybe, but I have my doubts about how well it will work against teams stouter than Purdue. I know the Boilers coped vaguely well with Illinois and Penn State. I just have no idea how they managed that. Purdue's run defense suuuuuuuuuuuucks.
They have two main issues: the defensive end who is not senior Gerald Gooden and their outside linebackers. Gooden was all right holding the edge, so Michigan ran away from him most of the day. This is because Purdue's other DE is terrible whether it's the starter or the backup. That guy got sealed all day:
That is Michigan's first play from scrimmage. Koger seals the playside DE and that's about it. When that guy isn't stringing the play to the sideline or taking out another blocker your pitch is 75% of the way to success. On this play the MLB taking a dumb angle upfield of the Koger block is the rest of it.
Compounding matters was Joe Holland, who may be one of Purdue's top playmakers but is also slow as hell:
I'm just like… okay. That's two guys alone on the edge with Toussaint and he outruns both of them. A real defense chops this down for a meh gain since the safety flares out to contain.
Even Gooden was subject to a few instances where he was deposited on his butt far away from the tailback:
It's cool that Michigan identified an issue with the opposing defense and exploited it. I don't know if they'll be able to execute something similar against teams with better defenses, which is all of them. Even Iowa.
Is there anything we can take from the run game here?
Boy, they did a lot of stuff. They ran a couple stretches, a couple of inverted veers, a bunch of power stuff… I'm hoping we see Borges pick and choose the things that work and Michigan can execute them effectively.
The veer in particular is something I'd like to see become if not a staple at least something they pull out a few times each game:
As I fruitlessly argued under RR, the zone read is a way to get the ball into your RB's hands while keeping the backside DE honest. The veer is a way to get the ball into your QB's hands while keeping the frontside DE honest. Needs moar veer.
I noticed slightly fewer hearts being ripped out of watchers' own chests when Michigan was throwing the ball this week. Yes?
For this let's—
Rip a chart from the still-breathing chest of an innocent.
Man, you do not like Danny Hope. Chart.
[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
|Notre Dame '11||6||7(1)||1||6(1)||5||1||1||1||-||50%|
Gardner had a SCR, a CA on a screen, and the BR-extreme.
Denard was 9/14 and back into the range his sophomore year hung out at, hoorah. His misses were the INT, a play almost identical to the INT that Holland dropped, a way-short corner route, and two throwaways in the red zone. On the corner route he did not see a blitheringly wide open Koger.
That's still too many dangerous throws given the small number of passes but at least he wasn't missing much. That's a relief after Michigan quarterbacks made the V1 look accurate two weeks ago. Part of that is an increased emphasis on short stuff. BWS pointed out that this first triple stack completion…
…is just a gussied-up version of the snag triangle Michigan ran last year. Denard got a lot of hitches and other routes where he could step in and zing it to the player in question. I was torn on a few different plays about whether to DO them or not because they were slick darts with good timing. While most got filed CA I like it when I'm wondering CA or DO instead of MA or IN.
His one deep ball was thrown in the right spot for his WR to get it—and Gallon had run a good route to give himself a ton of space to the outside.
As for the receivers, they were again strong:
[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]
They didn't have much to do in the passing game but Gallon made a good adjustment to the deep ball and there were no drops. Gallon is pushing Hemingway for the most-targeted WR, though he gets a boost from the screens.
The run chart has a few surprises and a couple things that reinforce what I was suggesting above:
[note: I'm moving to a percentage on the offensive line for the total.]
|Lewan||7||1||6||Would like to see him more involved somehow.|
|Barnum||3||2||1||Also picked up a –2 on the last play he was in on but I didn't hit him for it since he was obviously injured.|
|Molk||15||2||13||Even got a killer reach block for old times' sake.|
|Omameh||13||7||6||Had some issues with Short.|
|Huyge||7.5||2.5||5||Easy time on the edge.|
|Schofield||5.5||10||-4.5||Big step back from two weeks ago. Did get a thumper late.|
|Mealer||0.5||-||0.5||On last drive charted.|
|Watson||3||-||3||Got in on some of the edge bashing.|
|Koger||14.5||2||12.5||Completely clobbered his DE whenever asked to.|
|TOTAL||69||27.5||72%||Moore put up a –1, FWIW. Strong day almost hitting 3:1.|
|Robinson||7.5||2||5.5||Four good reads on the veer.|
|Gardner||1||-||1||Probably should have scored on the boot.|
|Toussaint||12||2||10||I like it when he gets 20 carries instead of 2.|
|Shaw||4||-||4||Enjoy your TD sir.|
|Smith||6||1||5||Frustrating on that screen. Not his fault obviously.|
|Hopkins||1.5||2||-0.5||Now FB, as predicted.|
|Rawls||-||-||-||PT not charted.|
|McColgan||2.5||1||1.5||Not giving up without a fight.|
|TOTAL||34.5||8||26.5||Big positive day thanks to two long runs RBs did much of the work on.|
|Gallon||5||1||4||Don't know what it is about tiny receivers from Florida but they can block.|
|TOTAL||7||3||4||Gallon had a day with and without the ball.|
|Protection||22||6||79%||Team 3, Toussaint 1, Schofield 2. Big bounce-back.|
|RPS||20||9||11||Throwback screens always work.|
So, yeah, monster day from Koger and major, surprising struggles from Schofield. By the time he got pulled in the first half he was already –5 or so. When he came back in the second he was about even, a step forward but still one that saw him finish solidly negative on the day. Both he and Omameh had problems with Short. Short chucked Michigan guards to the ground multiple times—you know those plays on which they ran up the middle into seemingly no blocking? That was Short treating our guards like they were Dileo.
You probably don't need be told about Fitz or the rest of the ballcarriers. The best thing about Fitz's day was the raw speed he showed for the first time. He's been caught from behind more than once in his career. After yesterday…
…that seems injury induced. Also Purdue is slow as hell on D.
Toussaint and Koger may have been able to pick up 4 YPC playing the Purdue defense by themselves. Molk also had a strong game since he wasn't trying to block two guys he didn't know were coming on every play. Gallon was a threat running, receiving, and blocking.
Both guard spots were weak, with left guard particularly glaring. Gardner's INT was egregious and he missed an opportunity to punch it in on the goal line series Michigan was eventually stuffed on.
What does it mean for Iowa and beyond?
Though they didn't throw much I think the developments there may actually be more important as far as the rest of the season goes. Having Denard bounce back and have a strong, if still flawed, day is a relief after the Michigan State debacle. The receivers are pretty good and Borges is getting them open, a trend that should continue against the Iowa secondary or I will be sad. I like the routes Borges is developing; they're obviously more diverse than RR's stuff.
The running game seems like a one-off development based on extremely weak edge play by the Boilers. Toussaint's emergence is the main takeaway for future weeks; put him in situations he can find holes and let him go 15-20 times a game. I'm a bit worried about the OL with Lewan constantly rising from the grave, Barnum tweaking his other ankle, and Schofield having a mighty struggle, but I also think Short is an all Big Ten player next to Devon Still… so we might be able to get away with it against the rest of the schedule. There is no Liuget or Clayborn or Crick; the big flashing danger sign is OSU's John Simon.
News bullets and other important items:
- Kovacs did everything during practice yesterday, should be good to go. [Ed: From what I've heard from various sources, Kovacs can play and wants to play, but the final word has to come from the trainers.]
- Hoke is also hopeful that Lewan will be able play on Saturday.
- Barnum is in the worst shape of the three.
Opening remarks: “I thought we had a good practice yesterday, which is always positive. We’re playing a football team’s that a good football team. Plays well at home. I think they’re 59-12 or something over the last 10 years. We’ve got to do a good job with the environment and the communication on both sides of the ball. Play with great composure and play with poise and then play physical football.”
What do you remember about the venue that makes it so tough? “It’s just tight. The bench is tight. Probably similar to East Lansing but this even seems tighter. [The fans] are on top of you, which is good, and they’re fanatical about their team.”
Now that Carvin Johnson has left, are there other guys that will need to fill into that position? “Not really. We’ve had a number of guys -- when we started that’s probably one of the deepest slots we were at to be honest with you. I think with the progress that Blake’s made, I think that’s helped when we’re able to put Troy over there.”
(Denard says that Jeremy Gallon can dunk, too.)
Last week, I was really getting worried about what to do for this week's FFFF, as the only working Iowa torrent I could find was from their 13-3 loss to Penn State, and they were slated to play Minnesota in the week leading up to the Michigan game. There's no possible way that any game film against Minnesota would be useful, due to the inevitable bludgeoning as GopherQuest forged on, and... wait, what?
This requires further investigation. To the breakdown! (This week, breakdown sadly comes sans video, as my video converter apparently couldn't handle the end of GopherQuest and committed suicide before turning my uneditable .mkv file into a nice, iMovie-compatible .mp4—prepare for lots of screencaps. If you want to see larger versions of the photos, I've uploaded them to my Flickr account.)
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Pro-style. Iowa spends much of their time in one-back and I-form, and usually goes to the gun only in obvious passing situations.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? MANBALL, which is pretty effective thanks to man-child running back Marcus Coker (more on him later).
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): James Vandenberg is relatively statuesque, though he has the ability—if given a fair amount of space—to escape the pocket and pick up a first down. It still takes a while. I'll give him a 3.
Dangerman: Marvin McNutt (#7) is arguably the best receiver in the conference, but I'm more worried about Coker (#34), who runs like a bigger, healthier Brandon Minor.
OVERVIEW: Iowa has a reputation for being very vanilla on defense (and they are), but that reputation easily carries over to the offense as well. Even when the Hawkeyes didn't have a great running game—while also boasting two outstanding receivers and a senior quarterback—they looked to ram the ball down your throat, and now with a first-year starter at QB, no Darrell Johnson-Koulianos, and Coker in the backfield, it's all about the run. On most first downs (and second, for that matter), they'll go under center and smash Coker up the middle, and he'll do this to great effect—Coker averages 5.3 yards per carry this year and has nearly eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark already. You'll see him a lot, as Coker has 182 carries this season while no other Hawkeye running back has more than 18—depth is a huge issue there.
Vandenberg is your stereotypical big pocket passer—the Chad Henne comparisons are accurate in terms of style, at least—and he has a very strong arm and solid accuracy. He has issues reading defenses, however, and resorts to a surprising amount of dink-and-dunk throws unless the Hawkeyes are running play-action—most of his big throws downfield came after a run fake, and he was quick to check down when there was even a hint of pressure. In order to help Vandenberg with his pre-snap reads, Iowa will motion an H-back or wide receiver on what seemed to be around half of their snaps, and if Vandenberg doesn't like what he sees from there, he'll usually check down into a run play or short pass.
PLAY BREAKDOWN: While Iowa tends to be pretty predictable, their big plays tend to come when they break tendencies. On the play screencapped below, the Hawkeyes lined up in the gun with three wideouts and an H-back, who motioned to a spot two yards in front of Coker. While Iowa mostly runs from under center, they'd shown this look before and handed it up the gut to Coker. On this play, however, they'd fake the dive and send Marvin McNutt—lined up in the slot—right up the seam. Let's just say he found some space:
This would be a 26-yard completion once the Gopher safeties finally dragged down McNutt. The play-action made it easy for Vandenberg to set up and immediately go to his first read—he's hesitant to throw downfield if the receiver isn't McNutt and there's no play fake to suck in the defense. In another example of Iowa breaking tendency, they lined up in a one-back set with the H-back going in motion—the same look they showed on at least a dozen of Coker's carries—then faked the dive and ran a reverse to McNutt, who had a ton of space and picked up 19 yards. The key to stopping this offense, besides doing whatever possible to slow down Coker, is to not get lulled to sleep.
As stated earlier, Vandenberg does have issues with his pre-snap reads, often appearing to choose which receiver he'll throw to before the snap (he locks on to McNutt often, and though this isn't a terrible idea given his ability, there were multiple passes into double coverage against Minnesota). When he sees a blitz coming, he'll get the ball out quickly, usually on a checkdown to the running back or a quick hitch to one of his receivers. This usually keeps him out of trouble, as evidenced by his lack of turnovers—he's thrown just four interceptions and the Hawkeyes are 11th in the country with just nine total giveaways.
Vandenberg doesn't always see the blitz, however, and that's when problems arise—on the play pictured below, the corner from the top of the screen snuck down to the line just before the snap, Vandenberg didn't see him, and the corner tore off the edge as the play rolled slightly away from him. The offensive line was in no position to pick up the blitz (and while they were outnumbered and this play was doomed, they didn't do Vandenberg any favors by having two guys not block anyone), and BRACE FOR CONTACT:
Would you be surprised if I told you Vandenberg fumbled on the play? Because you shouldn't be. Expect Greg Mattison to dial up a lot of zone blitzes in the hope that he'll confuse Vandenberg and get some free hitters on the blind side. Iowa's line managed to allow three sacks to the Gophers, who had all of five on the season heading into the game, so there will be opportunities to hit the quarterback and force some turnovers.
- About that Coker guy: He ran for 252 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries, and while all the usual caveats about holy hell Minnesota is awful apply, well, he still might be the best running back Michigan has faced this year. He's an absolute wrecking ball at 6'0", 230 pounds, and he'll simply laugh and then destroy if anyone smaller than a defensive lineman tries to tackle him one-on-one in space. After one thunderous run in which he broke through several attempts to tackle, Coker was described by the BTN play-by-play guy as "a rolling ball of steak knives," which is probably the most on-point comment ever uttered by a BTN announcer. The Wolverines will need to get multiple players in a position to hit Coker when he has the ball, and he's still going to break a couple runs into the secondary—this is when we'll really find out how big a deal it is losing Kovacs.
- I think Michigan's best strategy in this game is to get very aggressive with their blitzes and force Vandenberg to throw the ball downfield. Despite getting first-round hype heading into the season, left tackle Riley Reiff looked very susceptible to the speed rush, and got beat easily on a quick inside move for a sack by one of Minnesota's DEs. Vandenberg will throw the checkdown even on third down and long, and a couple Iowa drives ended on four-yard passes on third-and-eight (bingo!). On one such play, Vandenberg actually read the blitz and checked into a play in which his first two reads both ran hitches well short of the sticks, and it failed miserably.
- Give Vandenberg time, however, and he'll pick you apart—if he can set his feet in the pocket and go through his reads, he can hit any throw on the field. He threw a gorgeous fade to McNutt for Iowa's first touchdown and had some really impressive lasers on corner routes. The only game in which he had less than 7.4 yards per attempt this season came against Penn State, who sacked him five times. This is not a coincidence.
Base Set? 4-3. Iowa stays in their base set almost exclusively, unless facing a four-receiver spread.
Man or zone coverage? Defensive coordinator Norm Parker's affinity for the cover 2 zone—on practically every play—is well documented. The Hawkeyes will play zone until you find several ways to beat it, and then they'll play zone a little more just to make sure that wasn't a fluke, and even if it wasn't they'll keep doing it anyway because, dammit, that's how it's done at Iowa.
Pressure: GERG or Greg? In other words, rush three or bring a bunch of blitzes? Iowa would make GERG proud, as they almost never brought any extra pressure outside of rushing their four defensive linemen. They also barely got any pressure, and though one could chalk that up to Iowa ensuring they kept contain on MarQueis Gray, that's not going to change against Denard Robinson.
Dangerman: DE Broderick Binns (#91) got all the preseason hype, but he's been disappointing and had no impact against the Gophers, which can't be a good sign. I liked what I saw from weakside linebacker Christian Kirksey, who's a bit undersized at 6'2", 215, but always seems to end up around the football and is also the best Iowa linebacker in coverage.
OVERVIEW: Have I mentioned that Iowa likes to run the cover 2? That's really all they do, and it's just a matter of beating it. Handy cover 2 diagram, just mentally insert "weakside linebacker" in place of "nickel back":
There are weaknesses, of course, and Minnesota managed to exploit the two major ones when they passed the ball (Gray had by far the best game of his career, completing 11-of-17 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown with no picks)—10-15 yard passes to the sideline (between the corner and the deep safety) and the seam right up the middle (splitting the two deep safeties and over the top of the middle linebacker).
Iowa also had a difficult time defending runs right up the middle—more on that later—and this was against a Minnesota team that was (a) Minnesota and (b) trying out a new starter at left guard. The Hawkeye run defense is just 69th in the country, and their pass defense, shockingly, is worse (91st in opponent passer efficiency) despite boasting a pair of well-hyped corners in Shawn Prater and Micah Hyde. Prater looks susceptible to deep passes over the top (on the rare occasion when he is in man) and also got beat to the inside on a few slants. Hyde was barely tested, though he did have a nice pass breakup on a fade in the end zone and drew what I thought was a questionable pass interference call.
PLAY BREAKDOWN: About that cover 2—if you're going to run it, you need your safeties to be very, very disciplined. Iowa was usually pretty good about not letting anything go over the top, but they had trouble with play-action passes, especially this one, as free safety Tanner Miller bit on the run fake and could not recover and get outside:
That play went for 61 yards as Minnesota both drew up the free safety (on the right in this picture) on the play-fake and occupied the strong safety by running a post with their slot receiver. I'm actually surprised they didn't also send both outside receivers on streak routes, instead of just the one, but Minnesota likely wants Gray to have a safe underneath option—with the middle linebacker also occupied by the post, the slant could've worked here if the streak wasn't so hand-wavingly wide open.
The Hawkeyes also had trouble with runs up the middle—Minnesota's second-to-last scoring drive consisted of 11 runs on 12 plays, only one of which was an outside run, and that one a scramble on a pass play by Gray—as their defensive tackles repeatedly got sealed to the outside. Here's one such example in which not one, but both DTs end up getting pushed off to the left (from the offense's POV), allowing Duane Bennett to bust a 15-yard run up the middle:
I know this one's tough to see, but #93 (the interior D-lineman with his back turned) started as the DT on the right hash, while Binns (the near-side DE) is getting sealed to the outside by the right tackle. The arrow shows you where Bennett will find a gaping hole as the linebackers were unable to fill. I was pretty unimpressed by the linebacker play of Iowa, even though MLB James Morris recorded 13 tackles—too often they were passive and allowed blockers to get right into them. Now that Al Borges has introduced the inverted veer to the offense, I'd like to see Michigan try to exploit this weakness up the middle and see if they can get Denard running full speed into the secondary. Fitz Toussaint's success last week came almost entirely off the edge, so I think Shoelace gives Michigan the best chance to break a big run up the gut.
- The player who showed the biggest weakness to me was starting defensive tackle Steve Bigach (#54), who was repeatedly blown off the ball and was the main culprit on several of Minnesota's big runs up the middle. He weighs just 282 pounds, so there's actually a good chance that the somewhat-undersized interior of Michigan's O-line can do the same—hell, Minnesota managed it.
- Iowa really couldn't generate any pressure on Gray while leaving the pass rush in the hands of their defensive line. Without Adrian Clayborn wreaking havoc across from him, Binns seems to be relatively easy to neutralize—he only has 2.5 sacks this year, which is just .5 off the team lead. The Hawkeyes are tied for 83rd in the country in sacks for a reason, or I guess two: their conservative strategy and the lack of big-time playmaker on the line.
- The key for Michigan against this cover 2 will be for Denard to not force anything underneath, where there are usually several linebackers hanging out waiting for a wayward slant or a late throw on a hitch. Denard has had his issues this season in throwing the ball late to covered receivers—see his interception on the pass to Koger last week—and he won't be able to get away with those against Iowa. The good news is that Michigan should be able to flood the sideline and get multiple options vertically—handy picture pages post here—and that should give Denard some easy reads, since he should have ample time in the pocket.
Maybe it's because THEY LOST TO FREAKIN' MINNESOTA, FERGODSAKES, or just because there seem to be several weaknesses that play right into Michigan's hands, but I have a hard time seeing the Wolverines losing this one unless Coker goes HAM and Michigan commits multiple turnovers. I'm quite confident in this one now that there's enough evidence that the defense isn't a complete mirage. Hooray for confidence in the defense.
With Barnum getting healthy and Schofield playing well any chance we see one of two scenarios: Barnum takes over left guard, Schofield moves to right tackle and slide Huyge down to left guard or Barnum takes over right guard for Omehmeh? I'm partial to the former simply because of two 6' 7" 300 pounders on the edges, yes please.
It might be too late to make that change. While Huyge has some experience at guard, that came under Rich Rodriguez, when pulling was not a major part of the offense. Putting him at G seems like an invitation to have the same issues Omameh is having with a different player.
I could see the straight Schofield-for-Huyge swap if the coaches believe Schofield is a much better pass protector. We have no evidence that's the case since he's only played guard, but if I had to bet I'd guess he is. It's tough to take a senior who's only had one bad game out, though.
Do you think Borges is leaving our base offense (and by that I mean Denard at QB, lots of RB runs interspersed with a few Denard runs and passes) too early? Against Michigan State and Purdue, our first drives worked to perfection and our run game seemed effective.
Immediately thereafter, we started running a lot of crazy reverses, reverse fakes, and Devin-centric chicanery instead of sticking with what worked. Why? it drives me crazy every week. Also, we seem to love to fake the run before we've even established our running threat. For obvious reasons, this hasn't been effective.
For coaches that talked a lot about man ball and the desire to establish a RB, we seem pretty eager to abandon Toussaint and the run game.
I addressed this topic in a picture pages yesterday and got a couple inquiries about whether or not I thought Michigan's seeming lack of a base offense was a good or bad thing.
I'm not able to answer that yet. It's a thing. Whether it's good or bad is something we won't be able to tell for a while. I am sure I like it better than DeBord's zone offense, which was predictable and seemed to save every interesting tweak for the Citrus Bowl. I'm not sure if I like it better than the style of offense Michigan was using last year when the omnipresent threat of Denard's running often led to free touchdowns, or at least long drives before Michigan would turn the ball over. (YAY LAST YEAR.)
But you need opinions, no matter how flimsily justified. So: if I never hear "they did what we expected them to do" again it will be too soon. The only time someone's tried that this year was when Dantonio said something about how Michigan will run tunnel screens when Gallon is in the game as if he's a Calvin-Bell-style designated reverse guy. That is incorrect, so, like, thumbs up. Tentatively.
Why was Borges so terse on the bubble screen question – (btw did you ask it?). I wonder if it was because he expects the QBs to check into that play and it hasn’t been happening – perhaps he was protecting the players a bit?..
The process by which questions about football—as opposed to feelingsball—are asked at press conferences is like so: Heiko goes to the pressers and sometimes asks questions that I've asked him to ask. Sometimes he just reads a bunch of blogs and asks questions the blogosphere has implied he should ask. The option responsibility Q posed to Mattison after NW was the former. The bubble screen Q was the latter. This is what happened:
Is the bubble screen ever going to be a part of your offense? “I’m not saying one thing about any bubble screens.”
Heiko is in intensive care recovering*. In lieu of flowers you can donate to the EFF.
So… why did the normally accessible Borges fire that off when asked about the lack of a bubble screen? I'm guessing he thinks the bubble screen is stupid. I'd like to find out why he thinks it's stupid since everyone from Dantonio to Rodriguez to Lloyd Carr made it a part of the offense to punish teams that tried to cheat inside or deep. His perspective on the thing would be interesting.
I doubt that it has anything to do with the players not making that check. For one, the alignments that seem to open up the bubble are usually trips formations featuring the #2 WR on the line of scrimmage. The latest BWS bubble complaint:
That makes for an awkward backwards orbit by the potential bubble guy and puts the main blocker in a less advantageous position than he would be if he was on the LOS. It seems clear that the bubble is just not installed.
As to why Borges isn't saying word one about the bubble, there seem to be two possibilities:
- He is vaguely aware of the fan zeitgeist about this and is sick of these laymen bothering him about a stupid play.
- He is going to bust it out as part of Michigan's ever-evolving baseless offense.
Meanwhile, between morphine doses I'm trying to get Heiko to ask questions that are less confrontational.
UPDATE: AA.com has a slightly longer version of the quote.
"I'm not saying one thing about any bubble screens," Borges said. "Everyone wants to ask about that play."
Door number one, then.
*[This is actually the second time Heiko's gotten acid in his face asking about something strategic. He asked Hoke whether he'd ever considered a spread punt and got this answer: "no." End of answer. It's not a surprise that coaches don't take kindly to random people implying heir decisions are not optimal, but it's kind of fun to ask anyway. As long as you're not Heiko.]
Hindsight in re: Three and Out.
I know your criticism of the Hoke hiring, and I am not trying to bait you on this. With the benefit of hindsight, however, I keep asking myself whether a Hoke hire in 2007-08 would have been all that risky given what appears to have transpired (and actually did). It now seems like it would have been the safe move -- kind of like Bo elevating Gary Moeller, despite Moeller's horrendous record as a head coach at Illinois -- i.e., you don't lose to Northwestern in the late 70s solely because Illinois doesn't recruit well.
Obviously, what's done is done. But my opinions of Bill Martin and Lloyd Carr have been altered dramatically.
Let's just hope the Notre Dame coaching carousel of fun is not in UM's future. . . .
I just don't see how you can hire a guy who is vastly under .500 in the MAC. At that point Hoke hadn't had his 12-1 season or turned around the perpetually moribund San Diego State. He was 22-36 in five years at Ball State.
I mean, envision this situation: the fanbase is even more up in arms about than they were in the brief period between Hoke's hiring and kidnapping Mattison from the Ravens. Martin does not want to shell out for Mattison. Mallett still probably leaves. The team is just as much of a tire fire in 2008. You probably get Threet to stick around the year after, but did he prove himself much better than Tate even given another year to redshirt and learn a system? Eh… not really.
Michigan still turns in a losing season its first year and is 7-5 at best in year two, at which point the coach has had one winning season, period, and has overseen the worst period in Michigan football since the 60s. Can Hoke recruit in that environment? Can anyone?
Unless you believe Hoke turns the tattered roster in 2008 and 2009 into significantly more wins than Rodriguez does—like five or six—he's doomed. I think that's a stretch. You can't cure John Ferrera flipping from DL to start at guard, can't cure the Threet/Sheridan QB combo, can't do much about the disaster zone in the secondary.
Michigan ran a guy with two BCS bowl wins out of town after three years. Were they going to keep a guy whose high water mark was a 7-5 MAC season longer? This is a fascinating hypothetical, actually. They just might have.
It has been mentioned on the front page twice that Dungy was a broadcaster in 2007. This is off by a few years. 2009 was his first season out of coaching and in the role of studio analyst.
Er. Sorry about that, Bill Martin. Your coaching desires were crazier but less easy to evaluate than I expected.
Approved by NASA.
I was on Uni-Watch this morning, and this ad popped up:
Finally, the Elvis Grbac simulator we’ve waited 20 years for!
I'm all like… is that guy wearing #45? I don't understand.
A bubble screen once beat up Al Borges and took his lunch money.
Fitz did good. “That’s really what we’ve wanted to do all year. With two weeks to get ready and some careful considerations with regard to not getting our quarterback beat up, that was a huge issue. We worked hard on trying to get back to what we originally wanted to do. We wanted to be more of a combination of pro to spread offense without, of course, completely divorcing ourselves from spread concepts. We still run a lot of it, but that is closer to what we wanted in the beginning. We just weren’t executing very well. Touss did a great job, and the offensive line moved some people, not only on the line of scrimmage but also on the perimeter.”
What makes Toussaint the guy? “He’s a tough guy that makes no concessions to the defense. You’re going to have to tackle Fitz. He’s not just going to go down. He’s really improved in his ability to find the cavities in the defense. When we first got here his vision wasn’t all it needed to be but he’s gotten so much better. Some guys never get that, but Fitz has. He’s got a better feel for pressing the line of scrimmage, finding the cutback lanes … do whatever the defense dictates that you must.”
Were you surprised to see Denard take a knee during the offsides call? “No. No. He’s fine. We got a free five yards.”
Toussaint looks faster. Is it because he's finally healthy? “Yeah, he’s always been fast. Fitz has got speed. He was a track guy in high school. It’s just opportunities. That’s really it. Chances to carry the ball. That’s what I said -- we’re going to find a guy who can carry it 20+ and gain a 100 yards. He got to carry it 20+ and he did.”
You used Devin a lot. Do you worry that you use it too much and it disrupts the rhythm of your offense? “No. Not at all. As a matter of fact, we used him as much as we would like to use him. Our productivity in our two-quarterback offense in the last two weeks has been pretty good. I think it adds to our rhythm. Now if you kept him in there a few plays and Denard wasn’t lining up every single snap, I guess that could break it a little bit, but no. That’s why I don’t like series. That does break a quarterback’s rhythm. But spot him here and spot him there, and the quarterback stays in the game -- I don’t think it hurts us at all. I think it helps us.”
(Jeremy Gallon says he can dunk.)