the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
Run Offense vs. State
Mike Hart is expected to return but hamstring injuries are notorious for lingering. It's yet to be seen whether he has the same effectiveness he did in 2004 against the Spartans, when he cracked 200 yards. The Spartan run D is superficially much better than it was a year ago--as of right now they stand 23rd nationally--but they've played three spread offenses that don't emphasize the run much and have leapt out to huge leads in each of their games, forcing their opponents to pass. When opponents have run, they've done all right. Darius Walker averaged four and a half yards a carry. Hawaii picked up 152 yards on just 28 carries. Illinois got 141 on 33. The latter two are distorted by such huge quantities of garbage time that they're probably not very meaningful, but the upshot is that the Spartan D hasn't proven that they're an above average run defense.
Of course, Michigan hasn't exactly proven the inverse. They've been methodically effective against MAC foes but only had sporadic success against Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Mike Hart's return will make a difference but he can't make holes appear from nowhere. The reason Michigan's ground game has been disappointing has been threefold: Hart's absence, the offensive line disappointing, and the ability of safeties to creep into the box because of Henne's erratic performances. Hart's return only fixes what's behind Door #1.
I expect Michigan's running game will be good--if Hart gets the bulk of the carries he should clear 100 with ease--but not great. Michigan's going to have to convert a lot of third and four, third and five situations.
Key Matchup: Lentz, Kraus, and Henige versus Spartan DTs Domata Peko, Bobby Jones, and Brandon McKinney. If Michigan can beat the Spartan DT's back on a regular basis and pick up five yards on most first downs, they can afford some of the passing game's eccentricities. Converting on fourth and one would be good, too.
Pass Offense vs. State
Twice Michigan has played teams with extremely vulnerable secondaries and twice they have failed to exploit them and lost the game as a result. Against Notre Dame the offensive line, Steve Breaston, and Chad Henne shared the blame, but against Wisconsin it was all Henne, who was wildly inaccurate more often than not when asked to throw downfield.
(Y'all random pundits can shut up about Braylon Edwards, okay? Repeat after me: the loss of BE has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Chad Henne cannot hit an open wide receiver. What exactly do you think the thought process is here?
THE AVANT DROID HAS DISCONNECTED FROM OPPOSING FORCE. DIRECTIVE SEARCH. DIRECTIVE: FOUND. DIRECTIVE TYPE: THROW. INSTRUCTIONS FOLLOW.
if (reciever == Braylon)
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
It mak-ah no the sense. It is the unspicy-ah meatball.)
Anyway. Brady Quinn threw 60 times for 487 yards and five touchdowns. Hawaii's Not Timmy Chang was 21 for 32 for 219 yards. Akron State was 31 for 52 for 293 yards. The secondary is basically the exact same as it was last year except the starter opposite Hayes is a guy who couldn't beat Roderick Maples out. Receivers will be open. Will Henne hit them? He'll hit his share, but 53% and one bad interception is not going to cut it.
Key Matchup: Chad Henne versus His Evil Twin. I mean, let's be serious. Jaren Hayes? Eric Smith? Ashton Watson? The Spartan secondary is a disaster zone. Michigan will have open receivers, but... well, you know.
Run Defense Vs State
Sure, Javon Ringer has played mostly versus crap teams, but he's averaging over nine yards a carry. He's got company: State finished last year 10th in the nation rushing the ball and now stands seventh. They're getting 30 yards a game from four different players: Ringer, The Pedestrian Jason Teague, Jehuu Caulcrick, and The Jesus himself, Drew Stanton.
I don't expect Jehuu Caulcrick to see much time save for short yardage situatons. He's a big, powerful back but given Branch, Watson, and the emerging David Harris on the interior and Michigan's obvious issues with keeping containment on rushers that want to bounce outside, it's clear that Caulcrick is the least effective person to hand rushing attempts to. Teague, Stanton, and Ringer will all carry it plenty, though, and probably to good effect. Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten were totally befuddled last year and appear to be equally confused in 2005.
There is much cause for alarm here. Michigan has used a base set with six in the box with frequency against three- and four-wide sets on non-obvious passing downs and gotten crushed on the ground by NIU, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin (though Wisconsin only used it a couple times). Michigan's going to have to find a better way to deal with that or the Spartans are going to roll down the field largely unmolested. The contain issues we've seen all season will be greatly tested against a highly effective spread option offense. The Spartans are going to roll up yards here if Michigan doesn't play very aggressively with its linebackers and safeties, but when they do that...
Key Matchup: Javon Ringer, The Pedestrian Jason Teague, And The Jesus versus Outside Contain (Or The Lack Thereof).
Pass Defense vs. State
"F***ing Quintana. That creep can roll, man."
"Yeah, but he's a
"Still, I have a simple system by which I rate Big Ten players: how much do I fear this particular person? Stanton is #1 on my list this year. That's got to count for something."
Right, so Stanton is completing 73% of his passes, has thrown 13 touchdowns to 2 interceptions, and is (unsurprisingly) leading the nation in passer efficiency. If I was afeared of him before, I find him downright stupefying at the moment. Sometimes there's a man... well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And Stanton is that man in John L. Smith's spread-run-throw monstrosity.
The good news is that Michigan's defense is probably better than any The Jesus has faced to this point in the season. Michigan's defensive line is showing signs of becoming the fearsome unit it has the potential to be with the dramatic emergence of Alan Branch and the continued fine play of Lamarr Woodley. The secondary has come together nicely; Grant Mason played out of his mind against Wisconsin, Morgan Trent has settled in to the nickelback position nicely, and the safeties appear to have a clue or two, if not the bone shattering hitting of one absent Ernest Shazor. And the linebackers can't possibly play as terribly as they did last year. Michigan's offseason recruitment of Steve Stripling and focus on the spread offense in the offseason should pay dividends. I wouldn't expect 700 yards. But I would expect to scream "Herrmann, you're out of your element!" several times during the course of the game. Michigan is not going to shut the Spartans down.
Key Matchup: Chris Morris and Company versus Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, and Please God Tim Jamison. Given time to throw, Stanton will kill us. We need +20 from these guys to have a chance.
Brandon Fields is the kind of punter who can give Steve Breaston a chance to do something. He's got a monster leg but is prone to outkicking his coverage or booting shanky line drives on occasion. Last year he attempted several driven, angled punts that were designed to keep Breaston in check but
cost Michigan State field position when he screwed them up several times. With Breaston clearly out of sorts, expect the Spartans to take a chance and kick to him. At this point I don't expect it will burn them.
On the other side of the aisle, human jet engine Deandra Cobb and punt returner Agim Shabaj are gone. Senior WR Kyle Brown has taken over the return duties and done all right but isn't a huge threat. New Spartan kicker John Goss has only attempted 3 field goals... and 21 extra points.
Key Matchup: Single Covering Gunners And Not Blocking Them versus Goddamn Common Sense. This is self explanatory, right?
Let's go kitten power.
- Henne sails another couple balls five yards over someone's head.
- Ringer gets the edge.
- Just plain worry, okay?
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Stanton's arm explodes or whatever.
- Rose Bowl Henne makes a miraculous return.
- I dunno, man.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +2 for Stanton, +1 for Stanton's Revenge, +1 for It's In East Lansing, +1 for Has Anyone Seen Chad Henne's Brain?)
Desperate need to win level: 9 out of 10. (Baseline 5. -1 for It's Over Anyway, +5 for Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani.)
It's clubbin' time.
Loss will cause me to... puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies. Puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies. I am a beautiful starbeam that thinks football is a silly. I am not affected. I am an upright man with PRIORITIES and a MATURE OUTLOOK ON LIFE who puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies hold me.
Hold me, I'm so cold. Don't you think it's cold?
I think I need to club some baby seals.
Win will cause me to... assume that the miraculous turnaround was due entirely to kitten cuteness and reward the God Of Kittens by flooding this space with the most adorable cats you've ever damn seen.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: No way, man. Game over. Game over, man. Our defense has held up well under fire from quarterbacks bent on inaccuracy but combine the guy with the top passer efficiency rating in the country with a running game perfectly poised to exploit the outside contain issues the Wolverines have had all season and it's foxhole time. Throw in our still injur-iffic offense and Chad Henne doing his best Sophomore John Navarre impression and a road game in East Lansing and we lose. I think we keep their offense decently in check and it's a close game, but we trail most of the way and go to 2-3.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Gutierrez does not play.
- We do really good job of slowing the Spartan offense down.
- 28-24, Michigan State.
The whole blogging bites journalism thing has sprung again if you're A) a really arrogant blogger who B) loves reading things that probably aren't there into events. Check and check. So let's proceed. You may have heard about "Black Tuesday," the 1929 stock market crash that sent thousands sailing off rooftops and the nation into the Great Depression. If you haven't, now you have. It's a seminal moment in American history.
Or maybe it's the recent announcement that the New York Times and a couple Philadelphia papers are laying off about 600 workers between them, if you pay attention to online media about newspaper media. Perplexing to me, this nomenclature, since the ~600 workers make hardly a blip in the greater scheme of things. It seems, er, somewhat grandiose. The NYT is laying off approximately 4% of its staff--hardly a world-ender on the order of countless plant closings that have rifled through the rust belt over the past forty years. That's what happens when the economy shifts. When the flagship starts taking on water I suppose you sit up and notice, though. (Hopefully Warren St. John's position as staff dreamboat/author extraordinaire is secure.)
The reasons for the layoffs are clear: circulation is declining, ad revenue is declining, and readership is declining. What I haven't seen discussed in the multiple soul-searching tracts that have sprouted on the Internets since "Black Tuesday" is where it's going. I'm not going to be so completely insane as to say that blogs have anything to do with it, but that doesn't prevent people worried about the unedited masses from proffering dismissive, defensive snark.
So it's an interesting time for Bill Simmons, who I've previously called a blogger in spirit, and Chuck Klosterman, a writer at Esquire and Spin, to fire a broadside at us plebes getting our hate on. First Klosterman:
What will be interesting about the coming generation of people (at least if you're a writer) is that they will have a twisted concept of what the word "media" is supposed to mean. A term you hear people use a lot these days is "New Media," which really just means, "Electronic Media, Minus the Actual Reporting." This is what the Internet is, mostly. I constantly see all these media blogs that just link to conventional "Old Media" articles and pretend to comment upon them, but they add no information and no ideas. They just write, "Oh, look at this terribly archaic New York Times story. Isn't it pathetic?" But that sentiment is being expressed by someone who's never done an interview and has no tangible relationship to journalism. It all seems kind of uncreative. My favorite blog was always chaunceybillups.blogspot.com, but I think the dude who wrote it went on some kind of sabbatical.
New Media will never replace Old Media, because New Media couldn't exist without Old Media; they would have nothing to link to. But the net result is that all people are starting to assume that the media is inherently useless and that there is absolutely no difference between news and entertainment. This will make the coming generation even more cynical than the current one, which is mostly bad (but not necessarily tragic).
(Semantic aside: Klosterman has a twisted, narrow view of what the world "media" means. Blogs are media: "means of public communication reaching a large audience." Large is relative. I'm not large, but I'd say that Instapundit or Kos is large.)
What a strange and arrogant verb he uses when he says that bloggers "pretend" to comment on the stories they link to, and then to follow it up by asserting that we add "no information and no ideas," which is totally absurd on its face. How can I assert this? Well, people read blogs, don't they? How many people regularly read things that offer no information and no ideas (other than Drew Sharp columns)? I've seen blogs that are nothing but links to articles; they're generally not heavily trafficked because of the information and ideas thing. Let's just say that bloggers aren't the only ones capable of largely ignorant assertions about things they don't really understand.
I think Klosterman errs in making a gigantic generalization that the entire "media" consists of "Actual Reporting." The mainstream equivalent of the specific purview of this blog, sports, contains almost no Actual Reporting, if by that you mean "finding something out that's not completely obvious." Most sports reporting is a commodity. Anyone who watched the game can write a recap. Anyone who went to the press conference can pull a few quotes and weave a story out of it--and what a story it is. I've read them all a hundred times before. I understand and appreciate that someone like Bruce Feldman gets something useful by talking to coaches and I get something useful by reading his blog because of it, but there's a price to pay. More on that later. Now Simmons:
I liked your point about New Media. Everyone keeps talking about the Blog Revolution, but what does that even mean? If you were in film school and wanted to make movies for a living, would you create a movie from scratch, or would you just make documentaries about other filmmakers and how much they stunk? You'd make the movie from scratch, right? Well, what's the point of writing about people who write about sports/movies/politics/music if you're not backing up your words with your own columns or features? How do you have credibility then? I could write for a living, I just choose to rip everyone else. What? How does that make sense? What's the ultimate goal there? Why not come up with your own material, angles and thoughts? Wouldn't that be more rewarding? How do you get better? That's what I don't understand.
I'm not killing all blogs here -- some of them are useful because they find me stories that I couldn't find on my own, and some of their comments or features make me laugh and think. When the goal is to keep everyone on their toes, have some fun, provide an alternate take on things and remain at least somewhat objective, that's great. If you're using a blog to constantly ream everyone else, that's depressing. Also, how can we have so many libels/slander laws in place for newspapers, and yet the Internet is like the Wild West? People can steal material, slander people, rip them to shreds, make up news ... I mean, you can get away with anything now. Do you know how many times an NBA Web site reported having sources that confirmed some trade that ended up never happening? It was embarrassing. I could go on about this forever.
Isn't it clear that the only times these guys read blogs is when they run across them during their obsessive self-googling sessions (NTTAWWT, I've done it--it's totally easy when you make up your own word)? Jay Rosen's latest post sums this mentality up exactly:
Media people want to believe in the figure of the "who cares if its true?" blogger, the one who will run anything, who has no editorial standards, who can be duped or dupes others. The image still tends to dominate their imagination, perhaps because it puts the most distance between what bloggers do and what they do.
Here we see it in action. Yeah, 90% of blogs are crap. It's Sturgeon's Law, and there's a lot of venting there, but this passage from Simmons is indefensible. A blogger i
s not a message board poster, largely anonymous and indistinguishable from the rest of the chatter on the board. I have a reputation--a brand even--that goes under that banner at the top and whatever trust I have I had to earn by not being completely useless and have to maintain by not slandering people. The major difference between myself and a newspaper is that I don't get the accumulated credit anyone writing under the imprimatur of an established media organization does, but increasingly neither does anyone else.
Not to mention that Simmons--who hasn't exactly done any investigative reporting on Page 2 unless it's an experimental look into how many Daniel LaRusso references he can pack into 4,000 words (8,000, it turns out) and implies that certain announcers should be stricken with throat cancer in every NBA column he writes--is the last person who should be dissing the "Electronic Media Without the Actual Reporting" wing of media, since he is its undisputed king. And that's fine. It's great, even. Sports reporting is overrated. Access is useful in some ways but it's a handcuff as well. All you have to do is wander over to the Wolverine or GBW to see its neutering effects. I mean no offense to either site, but what criticism exists is highly muted because they rely on access that can be taken away if they were to publicly call for people's heads on a pike. And even though I haven't called for bepiked heads and I probably never will, since I've nothing to lose you know it's because this is the way I actually think--and if you want some blood there are places you can get blood.
This thinking sort of swirled around in my head when Boi From Troy sent out an email soliciting ideas about how bloggers can get the same sort of access that your mainstream media types do. I realized that I didn't want access. I couldn't add anything that the professionals at the local newspapers or GBW or The Wolverine couldn't with access. I'd hear the same things, be denied the same interviews, and sit in the same press conferences. I'd also write the same articles, because access corrupts. Absolute access corrupts absolutely. I'm not one of those malcontents who believe GBW and The Wolverine to be the functional equivalents of Pravda, but it's undeniable that there are things they can't say because their access is their major selling point.
Since I don't have access, I've got to come up with another selling point, a way to differentiate myself from the rest of the Michigan sports media world. This is venting and snark in some portion, but not in whole. It appears that it's mostly bigass tables... bigass tables that you'll never see in a newspaper because instead of seeing with their own eyes they're listening to what someone else tells them.
As I've said before: I'm not a journalist; that's the point. This is now an acronym: IANAJTTP.
(The Mighty MJD also tackled this subject thoughtfully here.)
|1||10||O28||Run||0||Draw. Weird call for the first play of the game. Graham(+1) slices in to make the tackle as it's slow developing.|
|2||10||O28||Run||15||Biggs(-1) and Graham(-1) get blocked and lose contain. Scooting downfield occurs.|
|1||10||O43||Run||7||Again Graham(-1) gets caught inside and Hall can't come up to take away the corner. Contain rears its ugly head again.|
|1||10||M47||Run||2||This is crammed up pretty well inside and when he tries to bounce Burgess is there for the stop.|
|2||8||M45||Pass||7||Despite the completion this is great coverage by Mason(+2), who picks this ball off half the time.|
|3||1||M38||Run||1||Watson in. They run away from him. Massey(+1) and Woodley(+1) hold and push really nicely and this is just a good play by Calhoun to squeak out the first down. A better tackle from Barringer(-1) stops this conversion.|
|1||10||M37||Pass||Sack, -13||Woodley(+3) owns the tackle, makes the sack, and forces an obvious fumble that the referees fail to call.|
|2||23||50||Pass||Inc||Screen is thrown over the head of Calhoun. Would very probably have gone for very few yards if caught, as Mason and Hall were there.|
|3||23||50||Pass||Inc||Stocco gets decent time but a blitzer that I think is Brandon Harrison(+1) penetrates and forces the incompletion.|
|Drive notes: Woodley sack singlehandedly ends this drive. Really distressing lack of contain here. That line with Biggs and Massey lined up on one side is like a giant sign that says run here. Brandon Harrison appears to be two or three weeks away from starting at FS the way he's going.|
|2||9||O2||Run||6||Line is Branch-Watson-Massey-Woodley here, they run between Woodley and Massey after a cut he has to make at the line. Massey(-1) just sort of falls down at the snap. He's walking a fine line between being too high and falling over every snap... 6'8, you now.|
|3||3||O8||Run||2||David Harris(+1) shows up in the hole at the line of scrimmage largely because the blocker was forced to take on Engelmon(+1), and cuts it back where a host of Wolverines are waiting.|
|Drive notes: 1 min left in the first, 0-0. 3 and out here, can't ask for anything more. A 58 yard punt and a bad-as-in-dumb holding penalty screw up the field position, though. First glimpse of the Branch at DE thing.|
|1||10||O11||Pass||Inc||Hall(+2) comes in and makes the breakup. Stocco didn't even stare him down, though he didn't exactly rifle it out there.|
|2||10||O11||Penalty||5||Offsides on Rondell Biggs(-1), but Branch(+2) made a TFL on the actual play.|
|2||5||O16||Pass||Sack, -10||Burgess(+1) and Engelmon(+1). Burgess leaps in Stoccos face, causing him to stop his throw and then Engelmon cleans up. Even if the blitzers weren't effective, Branch(+1) was held.|
|3||15||O6||Run||11||Whatever, we concede the 11 in pass coverage.|
|Drive notes: 12 min 2nd q, 0-0. Branch with two plays here and there's more coming.|
|1||10||O28||Run||0||Branch(+1) and Woodley(+1) both hold at the point of attack and collapse into the hole as Calhoun passes. Then they go WOOO like they're Ric Flair.|
|2||10||O28||Pass||3||Dumpoff to Calhoun rather quickly after Branch(+1) (guess who?) gets a great interior pass rush.|
|3||7||O31||Pass||Inc||Stocco missed Daniels badly, but an accurate throw is still not a first down. Branch drops 10 yards downfield on the zone blitz.|
|Drive Notes: 8 min 2nd Q, 3-0. Branch is everywhere. He got a drop on his pass rush comparable to a linebacker. At this point the defense is dominating.|
|1||10||O26||Run||0||Burgess(+1) holds the corner and when Calhoun cuts it back it's into a few Michigan defenders, most notably Harris.|
|2||10||O26||Pass||Inc||Stocco throws a ground ball to Daniels. Massey got good push up front, though I wouldn't call it a hurry.|
|3||10||O26||Pass||12||Three man line and one blitzer comes... Brandon Harrison? Yep. Stocco finds an open guy after the blitzer is picked up.|
|1||10||O38||Run||4||Sweep outside and Michigan's just outnumbered. Wisconsin is in a three wide here and Burgess is spread out to the slot receiver, leaving just six in the box.|
|2||6||O42||Pass||8||No one picks Calhoun up coming out of the backfield--a zone. Don't know who to blame.|
|1||10||50||Pass||15||No pass rush and Stocco has time to find Daniels. Both safeties are in pursuit. Obviously the line expected run. They've been flipping the DEs to get Woodley on Urbik on passing downs but on this play Woodley's rushing against Thomas and then it's Biggs on Urbik.|
|1||10||M35||Pass||18||Zone blitz look that rushes four but Stocco doesn't even look to the short side where the zone drop is . Hall(-1) gets sold a bill of goods on White's route.|
|1||10||M17||Pass||Inc||Two blitzers but this could have been a touchdown. Very close to interference here, but Mason just fell down and Williams fell over him.|
|2||10||M17||Pass||Inc||Stocco gets plowed by one of the DTs right as he throws. Black guy who doesn't look like a mountain so probably Branch(+1). I think Barringer(+1) deflects Stocco's pass, which was on target.|
|3||10||M17||Pass||Inc||Another blitz that's picked but, but there's no one open past the first down sticks(Mason(+1) again has excellent coverage, this time on Daniels) so Stocco rolls out and dumps it out of bounds.|
|Drive Notes: FG. 1:17 2nd Q, 10-3. Stocco got big ideas for a bit here in the best stretch of QB play this game sees. None of the blitzes on this drive get to the QB and thus the big chunks of yardage coming off. Mason is playing extremely aggressively; marked contrast to the soft zone stuff he was playing against ND.|
|1||10||O37||Run||5||Again a bounce from the RB. Burgess(-1) foolishly attacked the tackle when he should have sat back and kept better contain.|
|2||5||O42||Run||3||Three yard runs are not easy to comment on.|
|3||2||O45||Pass||7||Four wide here and I hate this soft zone on third and two. Calhoun makes the catch. Make Stocco replicate that last drive to beat you.|
|1||10||M48||Pass||Inc||OOB. Engelmon(+1) shoves him out, otherwise this is a catch.|
|2||10||M48||Run||11||Swearing erupts. Crable(-1) i s actually in on this play as a defensive end, they run right at him.|
|1||10||M37||Run||1||Nice play by Harris(+1) to shoot out to the sideline, beat a block, and force Calhoun inside.|
|2||9||M36||Pass||11||Evil TE screen to Daniels in the middle of the field. It *looks* like a screen to the left, it's got a receiver running an end around, it's confusing as shite, man.|
|1||5||M20||Run||-2||Calhoun falls over but Watson(+1) was in the backfield here, causing the cut that caused the fall.|
|2||7||M22||Pass||-4||Stocco sacked by Branch(+3), who has a beautiful bull rush move and singlehandedly ends this play.|
|3||11||M26||Pass||Inc||Stocco shortarms Orr. The line had pressure coming and Stocco moves to avoid it and throws this awkwardly.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 9 min 3rd Q, 13-6. That TE screen is a badass, brilliant little play that looks like it could be any of three different things. It freezes the outside defenders on one side with the end around, on the other side with the threatened Calhoun screen (that looks almost exactly like a screen because it IS a screen), and opens the middle up. Never seen that before. It's clearly the Wisconsin Secret Weapon this year, because they brought it out when they really needed a play twice.|
|1||10||O29||Run||-1||Burgess(+1) drives the pulling guard backwards and Harris(+1) actually tracks down Calhoun before he can get ot the corner. Harris is legit.|
|2||11||O28||Pass||7||Screen, called at the exact right time as we blitz and the screen is right where the blitzers were. Burgess does well to recover and hold the play to 7.|
|3||4||O35||Pass||Inc||Stocco throws it high. Mason(+1) again in good coverage.|
|Drive Notes: 7 min 3rd Q, 13-6. A huge Breaston return is wiped out by a Charles Stewart block in the back.|
|1||10||O26||Pass||Scramble, 11||Stocco rolls out and finds no one open on the boot so he takes off. Biggs gives chase but is slow.|
|1||10||O37||Run||11||The linebackers all meekly accept blocks but the big issue is Crable(-1) again, who has no idea that Wisconsin's allowed to run on first and ten and has no chance at preventing a big gain. Wisconsin sees Crable, they run at Crable.|
|1||10||O48||Run||3||I can't believe this doesn't end up gaining more yards, as Calhoun gets the corner but some Michigan dudes show up.|
|2||7||M49||Run||-4||Branch(+2) annihilates Daniels and Harris(+1) cleans up the mess.|
|3||11||O47||Pass||14||Very quick screen out to the left rolls for 13. This is entirely on Mason(-2), who is unbelievably moving towards the center of the field when the screen is released instead of slicing past the lumbering OL and up to stop the conversion.|
|1||10||M39||Run||-1||Woodley(+1) holds the point of attack and Watson(+1) leaps over a couple defenders to assist on the tackle.|
|2||11||M40||Pass||Inc||No real rush here and the backup TE has an 8 yard reception which he drops.|
|3||11||M40||Pass||11||Effing middle screen to Daniels. And this time we rush three and still don't stop it.|
|1||10||M29||Run||9||Both Burgess(-1) and Engelmon(-1) whiff on tackles.|
|1||10||M18||Run||11||We have eight in the box against this and lose contain again. Harris(-1) can't keep Calhoun from getting the corner and Engelmon(-1) moves up a bit and gets blocked by the WR. I think he needs to be moving outside here with eight in the box and both middle backers moving up into the inside holes. Crable(-1) comes in way low on Bernstein and just collapses to the ground... he's supposed to be the OLB on that side.|
|1||G||M7||Pass||Inc||Harris(+1) times his blitz really well and hurries Stocco, who throws it away.|
|2||G||M7||Run||-2||Strung out nicely by like everyone.|
|3||G||M9||Pass||Inc||Biggs(+2) gets instant pass rush and forces the throwaway.|
|Drive Notes: FG. 13 min 4th Q, 13-9. Crable's established why he's a backup. Why they keep playing him I'm not entirely sure. Some first chinks in the Engelmon armor.|
|1||10||M12||Run||6||They had this jammed up again... lost contain! This is on Graham(-1).|
|2||4||M6||Run||6||Goddammit! Crable(-2) did it again! He just plunges in towards the nearest blocker like a useless git.Can anyone who knows more than me tell me whether this is actually a run defense strategy?|
|Drive Notes: TD. 11 min 4th Q. 13-16. You see what I do for you?|
|1||10||M36||Penalty||-10||Holding drawn by Branch(+1) I believe.|
|1||20||M46||Pass||Int||Mason(+3) miiight have interfered here, but he jumps the cut, reads the route, and makes a huge interception.|
|Drive Notes: 10 min 4th Q, 13-16. Mason playing out his mind except for the badly misread screen. Ditto Branch. I completely fail to understand the strategies of the OLBs here, who seem to be giving up contain by design as the middle linebackers slide into the middle of the opposing line.|
|1||10||O46||Run||6||Big hole as Watson(-2) gets turned way inside by the center, leaving a gaping gash between him and Branch which Harris can do nothing about.|
|2||4||M48||Run||12||Harris(-1) has GOT to get out to the outside faster when he sees the bounce.|
|1||10||M36||Run||6||They drop Woodley into a zone. We're just getting crushed.|
|2||4||M30||Run||-1||Raiola tries to catch Watson offsides but doesn't and Stocco fumbles the snap.|
|3||5||M31||Penalty||-10||Illegal block on the back when Mason comes up to combat the screen (now he gets it). Carr takes the penalty.|
|3||15||M41||Pass||4||Stocco dumps off underneath the zone.|
|Drive Note: 5 min 4th Q, 20-16. Even though they down the punt at the 3 it's a dumb decision anyway.|
|1||10||O48||Run||2||Strung out well. Woodley(+1) is unblocked at the line for some reason and holds up against the FB unlike Crable.|
|2||8||50||Run||6||Harris(-1) has to read this play earlier and fill the hole. By the time he reacts the pulling guard is already on him and all he can do is wave a hand at Calhoun.|
|3||2||M44||Run||3||I don't know how he makes this. He gets turned inside and it looks like he's dead meat but he squirts up for the first anyway.|
|1||10||M41||Pa ss||9||Play action and there's no pass rush whatsoever. Stocco finds the hole in the zone.|
|2||1||M32||Run||0||Engelmon comes up to the line and isn't blocked, he makes the tackle.|
|3||1||M32||Run||8||Despite Biggs doing a great job on the corner there's no one there on the edge to stop the outside run.|
|1||10||M24||Pass||9||Calhoun takes the dumpoff and scoots upfield.|
|1||G||M5||Pass||Inc||Batted at the line by Watson(+1)|
|1||G||M5||Pass||Inc||Hall(+1) knocks it away.|
|Drive Notes: Argh.|
General opinions on the performance?
We are this close to having a really good defense. The line did a great, great job in this game, getting constant pressure on Stocco and jamming up the interior of the line very well. Mason played out of his mind and the secondary actually looks above average. However, the persistent inability of the linebackers to keep outside containment on running plays has burned us in every game when we weren't playing a glorified high school team. Almost all the rushing yards the defense has given up this year stem directly from one of two situations:
- Michigan is spread in an obvious zone against a three-wide formation. There are only six men in the box.
- A running back feints into an interior hole or just plain heads outside and there is no one to stop him.
Shawn Crable was the worst offender on Saturday, but David Harris, Brandent Engelmon, and Chris Graham were all culpable at some point or another. Graham did almost nothing all day, though it appears that Wisconsin ran to the strong side almost exclusively.
Other than that glaring problem which Calhoun was extremely well suited to exploiting, they did very well.
What about designated Internets whipping boy Pat Massey?
Still mostly neutral. Batted one pass down and got a -1 for a goal line run play that gained six (Wisconsin still went three and out). That was partially because Watson played a lot more. That was partially because Wisconsin was bouncing outside with regularity and rarely tested us with runs up the middle. And that was partially Massey just doing a decent job. He held up. Leave him alone, whydontcha?
Pick a linebacker other than Harris, who at least balanced out his bad plays with good ones. Burgess and Crable were both highly culpable for the defense's late collapse, and Graham was mostly invisible.
Jesus, Alan Branch was a monster, blowing up run plays, getting held twice, and getting a superior pass rush with regularity. He could be our best defensive player right now. And that's despite the fact that Woodley turned in another very good game and is one of the best defensive linemen in recent Michigan history.
Also singled out for special commendation is Grant Mason, who had one bad play on a third down screen but was otherwise great. Mason's interception kept Michigan from going down two scores in the fourth quarter and allowed Michigan to forge into the lead. He was constantly harrassing the Badger passing game and outplayed Leon Hall.
David Harris is tenously here as well, as he made a great number of good plays, but part of me believes that he's at least partially responsible for the containment issues, though I can't be entirely sure.
Roll that beautiful bean table.
|Woodley||7||-||7||A drive-killing sack and a very good job against the run.|
|Woods||-||-||-||Didn't even play I think.|
|Biggs||2||2||0||Did all right but is clearly just servicable.|
|Watson||3||3||0||Might be harsh because of all the bounceouts... rarely went up the middle for a reason, probably.|
|Crable||-||4||-4||Just a total disaster late in the game against the run. Why was he playing at all?|
|Branch||12||-||12||Sweet fancy Moses!|
|Harris||4||3||1||Reading and reacting in the short zone.|
|Mason||7||2||5||Great in coverage all day.|
|Engelmon||3||2||1||Did okay but part of the contain issues..|
|Adams||-||-||-||Didn't see him play.|
|Harrison||2||-||2||Pressing Barringer, I think.|
OMG DREW STANTON.
Well, yeah. The good news is that I think Michigan actually has three solid cornerbacks in Hall, Mason, and Trent and the safeties have at least been competent in pass coverage so far this year. If Branch can even do half of what he did against UW it will help a lot and Michigan's been preparing for the spread all year. He will get his yards and he will put points on the board--he's really that damn good--but I think the major danger for the Michigan defense is freshman running back Javon Ringer, who had almost 200 yards on 13 carries against Illinois. Ringer is a lot like Calhoun, a juky scatback with slashing ability and the speed to get to the corner. If he hadn't blown out his knee last year he would have been a huge recruit and I've been really impressed with him so far this year. Unless we can slow him down or JLS gets loopy and decides that The Pedestrian Jason Teague is the answer for UM, we are going to have to split our attention between Ringer and Stanton and the prospect is too horrible to contemplate.
Don't get your hopes up.
Update: Commenters point out that the deflection at the end of the game was Watson's, not Massey's.
Also: I totally forgot the strategic blunder. Soy muy estupido. Here:
So how about that strategic blunder?
Michigan allowed the worst possible thing to happen to them on Wisconsin's final drive: a touchdown with vanishingly little time on the clock. When the Badgers got the ball back Michigan should gone nuts with aggressive man to man and blitzing to prevent the 8-10 yard plays that Wisconsin got with frequency. They were aggressive up front with eight man fronts but the coverage they played behind it was soft and the corners and safeties were playing far off. When it became clear that Wisconsin was A) going to have more than enough time to do whatev er they want and B) not going to punt, Michigan should have taken its timeouts and told Wisconsin that if they were going to score, they were going to score quickly. First and ten from the 24 was the tipping point, if not sooner. Passively watching Wisconsin drive down the field and getting the ball back with 29 seconds left is a recipe for defeat, and defeat is not Good Eats.
Iiiiiiit's baaaack. Something akin to the horrible, horrible punt formation that lost Michigan the 2003 Iowa game and drove Jim Boccher insane or whatever has made a stunning return to college football, giving me the heebie-jeebies every time I see it. In this new version the three guys lined up in front of the punter "block" people.
That doesn't mean punters like it. The article cited also gives us someone to blame: Wofford coach Mike Ayers.
Still super dreamy. Still Tom Brady.
Do you smell what Leland Anderson is cooking? What? Yeah. Leland Anderson, one of the many transient basketball players that had brief stays at the Brian Ellerbe House Midget Basketball Recovery House [redundancy sic and stolen from David Foster Wallace], is now training to become a wrestler. The whole page is hilarious, but the most hilarious part is the height and weight listing: 6'8", 300 pounds.
If that was true, Anderson--like a 6'4" power forward--wouldn't have had to transfer to Providence after his freshman year. OOOOOHHH YEAH.
The definition of "unenthused" on the left :
That's The Detroit News' Dave Dye in the process of losing a game of NCAA 2006 26-0 (26?) and loving every instant of it. It all comes from this strange News article that's lifted from pretty much every student newspaper in the country: have two staffers play a video game and write about it, though the student clashes are considerably more spirited. (Faint praise, I guess: [INAPPROPRIATE HOLOCAUST REFERENCE] was a national cheerleading competition compared to Dye above.)
Elsewhere, a considerably happier-looking Dye predicts a 38-28 MSU victory. I would do the usual huffy indignation thing but I got nothin'. Nothin', I say.
Recruiting coverage has suffered lately. Let me bring you up to date: Antwine Perez is going to USC and nothing else has happened. It's looking bad for just about everyone. Frowny face. There's this article about VA WR Percy Harvin that focuses heavily on his EMU-attending sister which directly states she wants him at Michigan but also contains this ringing endorsement of the area:
[Lintera] assesses Ypsilanti, on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, as "boring, very, very boring. ... But once those four years are done and I don't have to be here, I want to go somewhere that I really want to go" for grad school.
Two thumbs way up!
ParadigmBlog is it for this go around. Questions follow:
1. We are now 1/3 of the way through the season and things are starting to shake out. With that in mind, who are your picks to win each of the BCS conferences, as well as your choice for an at-large berth from a non-BCS league (none is an option)?
ACC: Well, Virginia Tech is the obvious choice.
Big 12: Texas.
Ohio State Goddammit. Ohio State.
Big East: [SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR]
Pac 10: Arizona State! Yow!
SEC: The only one that's really a tossup at this point. Tennessee now that they won't be starting Ainge.
At-large: No one.
2. What team currently out of the Top 10
(AP or Coach's, doesn't really matter), of the BlogPoll (duh, sheesh) has the best chance of ending up in the title game?
Arizona State. If they beat USC and finish the year 10-1 you're damn right they'll be the top one loss team. Did I mention the 773 yards?
3. When you're watching a game, what type of fan can you absolutely not tolerate being around?
Morons who are too stupid to realize that they are morons.
"Why do we run it? We should throw it more."
[eight yard run.]
[two yard run, first down.]
"Why do we run it? We should throw it more."
These people, the ones who are constantly complaining about every coaching decision like they're a super genius who just knows better, make me desperately search EBay for a Marvin the Martian-esque castration ray. It's for the good of society.
Also those horrid old women who cry "down in front" during TV timeouts and spend the game talking about gardening.
Bonus: A sizable portion of Michigan fandom is in full meltdown mode (myself especially). Some have chosen to sequester themselves for this weekend's game against MSU to avoid scaring children, causing long-term psychological damage to those in the near vicinity, and most especially to avoid jail (I'm not saying this is me per se). Anyways, we need some help. Give us some ideas for replacements for LLLyd Carr (3 L's for the number of losses per year, and no O this year either). Assistant coaches, head coaches elsewhere, etc. Please, give us something to look forward to.
Jeff Tedford. Each passing Lions game during which I think to myself "Tedford turned Joey Harrington into the third pick in the NFL Draft" increases my slavering desire to see him as the next head coach at Michigan. What can you say about a man who dupes NFL scouts making his noodle-armed, panicked, generally retarded quarterbacks instant millionaires every year? There's only one thing to say: "damn." Add in the fact that he is feasible--having grumbled about the conditions at Cal more than once--unlike a Ferentz or a Meyer and he brings instant California recruiting cred for when USC collapses into its next 20 year dormant period and it's a slam dunk.
Totally not it. Totally.
The only disadvantage is that one of us will have to strangle Rece Davis when he calls Michigan "the Tedheads." Onetwothreenotit.
Other persons I've idly speculated over and possibly have caused me to write "[HEART] [HEART] Brian [COACH LAST NAME]" over and over again in my Hello Kitty notebook:
- Ferentz, obviously.
- Nick Saban after a failure at Miami, solely to watch every single Spartan's head explode.
- Dirk Koetter, who actually makes good clock management decisions.
- Glen Mason. Yes, Glen Mason. Does anyone understand how hard it is to win at Minnesota? There's absolutely no talent base, they have to play in the freaking Metrodome, and they've been historically awful for something like 50 years. I want that Denver Broncos "plug random back into slot, rush for 1,500 yards" running game badly.
|1||10||M6||Run||Martin||4||Wonky signal cuts off most of this play.|
|2||6||M10||Run||Martin||27||Lentz annihilates his guy. By the time Martin flies by him he's 6 yards downfield. Martin makes a good read and shows his speed.|
|1||10||M37||Run||Martin||2||There's like nine guys in the box here! The offensive line does a good job blocking but the ninth guy plunges unblocked makes the tackle. Malone or a missed check by Henne?|
|2||8||M39||Pass||Avant||Inc||Four wide and a slant is open but Henne throws it way, way behind Avant.|
|3||8||M39||Pass||No one||Scramble, 21||Three wide and checking off at the line.. Henne takes off smartly and rolls downfield but there's a dumb holding penalty by Massaquoi.|
|3||1||M46||Run||Grady||1||Good second effort here by Grady to get the first, but Henige pulls right and there's a hole there and Grady goes left, failing to following his blocking.|
|1||10||M47||Penalty||-5||Illegal formation because Massaquoi is like two inches too far back to count as a man on the line. Crappy call. The play was a nice slip screen to Manningham for a first.|
|1||15||M42||Pass||Manningham||3||Same play. Massaquoi misses his block.|
|2||12||M45||Run||Martin||3||Seems like everyone does a decent job blocking but there are no creases.|
|3||9||M48||Pass||Ecker||14||This a duck, but it's an accurate duck. Ecker makes a niiice lunging catch.|
|1||10||O38||Run||Grady||3||Grady's pretty tentative when he reaches the line here.|
|2||7||O35||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne misses a wide open Avant at the 10 yard line.|
|3||7||O35||Pass||No one||Scramble, 8||Okay, it's good he gets the first down on these rushes, but it seems like more evidence he's not totally confident in his arm.|
|1||10||O27||Pass||Avant||21||Avant makes 15 after juking past the DB after a six yard hitch.|
|1||G||O6||Run||Martin||1||Nothing even resembling a hole here.|
|2||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne misses... a wide open Avant. Throw is rifled a couple yards over his head when a deft toss would have been a TD.|
|3||G||O5||Run||Grady||4||A counter draw type thing that springs blockers downfield. I really like this call, and it's only a fantastic tackle by Zalewski that keeps Grady out of the end zone. Grady did slice past two Badger defenders before getting to Zalewski. That tackle... dammit.|
|4||G||O1||Run||Grady||0||As reported elsewhere, there's a pull here that gets fouled up when Lentz trips over Kraus. Still the right call.|
|Drive Notes: 0-0, 2:48 left in the first. Three times Henne misses Avant wide open. Our offensive line is only getting a push sporadically.|
|1||10||M34||Run||Martin||4||Makes the right cut here, but since the OL can't seal anyone he's forced to cut back into the linebackers.|
|2||6||M38||Run||Jackson||-1||Again no push from the OL. There's nowhere to run.Kraus just gets shoved back right at the snap.|
|3||7||M37||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Henne throws it low and Breaston can't make the catch, but it wouldn't have been a first down anyway.|
|Drive Notes: 14 min, 2nd quarter, 0-0. If you're counting, that's four poorly thrown balls and two well thrown, not counting the screens.|
|1||10||M41||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Deep ball to a well-covered Breaston that's overthrown.|
|2||10||M41||Pass||Manningham||24||Out route that's jumped by Bell since Henne stared Manningham down. Still got it there, I guess, but man. Manningham gets his customary YAC... kid is a player.|
|1||10||O35||Run||Martin||7||Thompson with a nice block and there's actually a hole to the outside.|
|2||3||O28||Pass||Avant||4||Three step drop and fire taking advantage of the corners playing off Avant.|
|1||10||O24||Pass||Avant||Inc||Misses... a wide open Avant! This time he's in the endzone.|
|2||10||O24||Run||Grady||3||Paul, on the other hand, does not get a good block that could have sprung Grady to the outside.|
|3||7||O21||Pass||No one||Sack, -11||Henige utterly and completely misses his blitz pickup, as he decides to take a linebacker coming from the outside that Grady's got and lets someone come up through the inside unmolested. Henne intentionally grounds it.|
|Drive Notes: 49 yard field goal? No! 44 yard field goal? Yes! Don't go changing, Rivas. 3-0, 10 min 2nd quarter.|
|1||10||M29||Run||Martin||1||EMU style sweep. Not EMU style results. They've got eight in the box again an then two safeties relatively near the line of scrimmage... I'd scream about throwing, but look up.|
|2||9||M30||Pass||Avant||27||Henne misses... a wide open Ava--oh. That was actually totally accurate after a ton of time. Gottfried starts waxing about how Henne made the play and I attempt to strangle him with telepathy.|
|1||10||O43||Run||Martin||1||Another sweep that fails due to tons of people in the box.|
|2||9||O42||Pass||Grady||7||A little dumpoff designed to get Grady on a LB and he makes a nice play to pick up 5 or so yards after the catch.|
|3||2||O35||Run||Grady||12||A hole does open up this time but it seems accidental. In any case, Grady is not tentative this time and flies up through it and makes 4 or 5 YAC.|
|1||10||O24||Pass||Grady||19||Flare screen Michigan's run several times this year to good effect.|
|1||G||O5||Run||Grady||1||Just a wad of players in the middle.|
|2||G||O4||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne gets nailed as he releases the ball because NO ONE BLOCKS HAYDEN. Otherwise, TD.|
|3||G||O4||Pass||Avant||4||Touchdown. Slant that is accurate.|
|Drive Notes: 4:27 2nd Q, 10-0. Henne is better on this drive but there's only one downfield throw here, the long one to Avant.|
|1||10||M36||Pass||Grady||5||Screen again, but it's read well by the DT(!) Jason Chapman and thus doesn't go for several more.|
|2||5||M41||Run||Martin||4||This sweep is successful-ish because they aren't loading the box.|
|3||1||M45||Run||Martin||17||Breaston gets a nice block on this four wide draw type thing (Stenavich's block is to shove the pass rush of his man 10 yards upfield) and Martin beats a couple Badgers to the corner.|
|1||10||O38||Run||Grady||2||Strange, strange call here with 30 seconds left in the half and one timeout. Especially because Wisconsin still has seven in the box against a three wide, one back set. Missed check? Gottfried CONTINUES to fluff Henne without cause.|
|2||8||O36||Pass||Manningham||30||What a terrible throw, at least ten to fifteen yards short of its intended destination that Manningham adjusts to. You can see Manningham about to get a yard or two of separaton and then coming back for the ball.|
|2||G||O6||Pass||No one||Inc||Henne throws it away. Why not a fade to Avant here?|
|Drive Notes: FG, End of half, 13-3. Much screaming ensued about the FG call, more on that later. Henne was unbelievably lucky to hit that Manningham pass and given the way Carr was talking to him after the timeout, I think he missed a check on the strange run.|
|1||10||M16||Run||Martin||2||There's just no push or hole or crack up front. Period.|
|2||8||M18||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Play action and Henne gets hurried and misses Mass. He had Mass for 4 or a first down if he could break the LB's tackle.|
|3||8||M18||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant drops it. It should be noted that this pass is behind Avant, though still catchable.|
|Drive Notes: 14 min 3rd quarter 13-3. Note NO shell. Ryan 45 yard punt fair caugt, that's what I'm talking about.|
|1||10||M30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Slant that's way behind Avant again.|
|2||10||M30||Pass||Martin||Inc||The much rumored wheel route down the sideline that's broken up by the safety very nicely. If you're blaming henne for throwing it too late... well, you're harsher than I am. Just a nice play.|
|3||10||M30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Batted at the line.|
|Drive Notes: 8 min 3rd quarter 13-6. No shell.|
|1||10||M8||Penalty||5||Offsides on UW. The play was a 1 yard dive with no push from the OL again.|
|1||5||M13||Run||Grady||2||The safety just comes screaming up on the run. Are we tipping our play action?|
|2||3||M15||Run||Grady||5||Finally some push from the line.|
|1||10||M20||Run||Martin||2||Nothing. Again eight guys in the box.|
|2||8||M22||Pass||Avant||18||A nice jailbreak screen for Avant features Kraus plowing his man like 10 yards downfield.|
|1||10||M40||Run||Martin||5||Sweep. Thompson misses Zalewski or Martin gets the corner and somewhere from 10-20 yards.|
|2||5||M45||Pass||Breaston||0||He catches the little screen thing and slips. Had him in position to run after the catch.|
|3||5||M45||Run||Martin||4||Same counter draw we ran on 3rd and goal from the five on the first drive. It again gets four.|
|Drive Notes: 2 min 3rd quarter 13-6. Ryan shanks the punt and it goes approximately 30 yards downfield. Again an execution thing, Breaston's slip, kills the drive. He probably had the first otherwise.|
|1||10||M8||Pass||Avant||9||Another bad throw that Avant manages to scoop off the turf just in time (after review).|
|Drive Notes: Killer. Just killer. 12 min 4th Q, 13-9. No idea what the personal foul on Henige is for.|
|1||10||M20||Run||Grady||3||Again we try to run against an eight man front.|
|2||7||M22||Pass||Avant||Int||Henne throws it right to the UW linebacker.|
|Drive Notes: Head... veins... losing... integrity.|
|1||10||M39||Run||Grady||6||Off tackle and he finds the crease and follows Thompson into the hole.|
|2||4||M45||Run||Grady||6||Cuts it back and gets moving upfield, 3 more YAC.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Manningham||49||Flea-flicker touchdown, and credit where it's due: this could not have been thrown more beautifully.|
|Drive Notes: 9 min 4th Q, 20-16.|
|1||10||M3||Run||Grady||3||No hole, no push.|
|2||7||M6||Run||Grady||3||Sweep outside to the short side. I dislike this call.|
|3||4||M9||Pass||No one||Inc||Thrown away, ridiculous. If he had come off the three receivers to his right he had Mass open for the first down.|
|Drive Notes: 4 min 4th Q, 20-16.|
|1||10||M44||Pass||Avant||Inc||Behind Avant and knocked down by the DB.|
|2||10||M44||Penalty||-10||Holding on Stenavich.|
Well? We expect knives re: coaching, buddy.
I just don't see it.
This is what is see:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
Of the 17 passes I flagged as accurate or catchable (note that two completions were flagged "inaccurate": the 30 yard Manningham bomb at the end of the first half and the reviewed Avant slant), seven were screens or short dumpoffs (IE, 5 yards or less). That means when Henne dropped back to pass and actually threw downfield you got ten good (or just acceptable on some of the "accurate" throws) events and fourteen bad ones if you eliminate the two batted passes ("OMG Navarre" people: only one was actually batted. Another throw that was inaccurate because Henne was hit as he threw was inserted here). Scheme and playcalling this: Henne flat missed open receivers 11 times.
He was terrible, and Michigan knew it, and Wisconsin knew it. However, this did not stop Michigan from trying to throw. Look at the beginning of the second half: f ive passes on six plays on our two three-and-outs. The only drive we pieced together came when we stopped trying to throw downfield.
There's other blame to go around: the offensive line was consistently stonewalled by Wisconsin's defensive front. Martin's fumble was an absolute killer. Breaston had a big return wiped out by a Charles Stewart penalty. Manningham dropped a TD. Avant dropped a first down. Henige blew a blitz pickup. But these were isolated events that the offense could have survived if the quarterback wasn't forcing the rest of the offense to play perfectly.
THEY KICKED A FIELD GOAL ON THIRD DOWN.
All right, yes, that was dumb and the explanation proffered on Michigan Replay (Carr did not know the clock was going to be reset from six seconds to nine seconds) further highlights the fact that Carr isn't the sharpest tool in the game theory drawer, but third and goal from the eleven is probably going to be a throwaway anyway in that situation and the end result would have either been the same or an LSU-like screwup that cost us the field goal. A smidgen of expectation was given away but it's not a big deal.
There was a major strategic blunder in this game, but it was on the defensive side of the ball.
#1, #2, #3: Henne. Simply put, if he makes any one of six to eight relatively easy throws we probably win this game.
Also on my bad list are Lentz, Kraus and Henige, who could not get any push up front all night. Henige also contributed a key sack and a key incompletion by deciding not to block people.
Max Martin's fumble... well, fumbles happen, yes. But that turnover is the difference in the game.
Avant, despite the one drop. That's a tougher catch than he'll admit--thrown behind him and a rocket--and the rest of the night he was great. He would have had an even bigger night if Henne had hit him more often. Manningham was also very good when called upon, and the tackles didn't allow any pass rush really.
All right, yes. Gutierrez has to be an option against State if Henne struggles in the first half. We don't have time to screw around with Drew Stanton and company: we need points and we can't abide missing wide open guys. If Henne turns in another stinker and Gutz does not play white knight, I guarantee you can stop by for some good old fashioned Internets Bitching.
So what does this mean for Michigan State?
It means bad. We can't expect a consistent running game against the Spartans since Domata Peko seems to have emerged as a solid DT and our interior OL is soft like kitten. To move the ball consistently we absolutely require consistent quarterback play that Henne has shown no indication he is capable of this year, but he still has to start given his history and talent. We need him to turn it around right goddamn now or we are D-E-D dead.