Not that Emu.
|Head Coach, LSU|
|Head Coach @ Okie State||2001-2004|
|TE Coach w/ Dallas||1998-2000|
|Offensive Coordinator @ Okie State||1995-1997|
|Assistant @ Michigan||1987-1994|
|Assistant @ Colorado||1982-1986|
|Grad Assistant @ Michigan||1980-1981|
|Two-year letterman at Michigan|
If you've spent the last two months somewhere other than Pluto, you might be familiar with the background of Les Miles. A former offensive lineman under Bo, Miles gave up his job to work for 8k per year as a grad assistant in the early 80s, joined Colorado's staff when McCartney was hired there. He returned to Michigan in the late 80s, leaving for the offensive coordinator position at Oklahoma State. (I can't find out what Miles' exact role was at Colorado or Michigan during his years as an assistant; I assume given his background that he was an OL coach with some TE sprinkled in.) After a successful three-year stint, he spent three years in Dallas as a position coach before being named Oklahoma State's head coach. At Oklahoma State, he took over a program that had gone 5-6, 5-6, and 3-8 in the three years after Miles' term as offensive coordinator. Accomplishments at Oklahoma State:
2001: OSU upsets Oklahoma 16-13 in the final game of Miles' debut season.
2002: The Cowboys are 2-4 midway through 2002 but turn the season around with their first win over Nebraska in 41 years.
2002: OSU defeats Texas A&M the week after the Nebraska win. It's the Pokes' first win over A&M since the conference was formed.
2002: Miles is the only coach in the nation to defeat OU coach Bob Stoops twice when the Cowboys roll past the Sooners 38-28 in the 2002 regular-season finale. With his second consecutive Bedlam win, Miles becomes the first OSU coach to defeat Nebraska and Oklahoma in the same season.
2002: Miles is named Big 12 Coach of the Year.
2002: The Cowboys win their first bowl game since 1988 with a 33-23 win over Southern Mississippi in the Houston Bowl.
2003: OSU defeats Kansas State, the eventual Big 12 champion, to end a nine- game losing streak against the Wildcats.
2003: The Cowboys post only their second win over Texas Tech since the Barry Sanders era.
2004: OSU plays in the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys' first January bowl game in 55 years. OSU loses 31-28 to Ole Miss.
2004: The Cowboys open the season with a road win over UCLA, OSU's first season-opening win in the Miles era.
2004: OSU plays in its third consecutive bowl for only the second time in school history.
After a 4-7 first year, Miles was 24-14 at a school that had experienced very little success... ever. Stassen comparables for the span from 1990-2000:
Oklahoma State's 9-4 2004 was their best year since back to back 10-2 years in 1987 and 1988 driven by Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders.
On the strength of this excellent performance at Big 12 Kentucky, he was hired to replace Nick Saban at LSU. In about two and a half years at LSU, he's lost four games. The Tigers are #1 in the blogpoll and face Florida this weekend; win and a trip to the national championship game is likely. It's not often you can pick off a coach coming off a national championship run.
Xs and Os Proficiency: This is the great unknown with Miles. His three years as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator came before 2000, the point at which comprehensive statistics are available online via the NCAA, so we're left with only season totals from James Howell's database:
That appears to be a nice upward trajectory, but even the 8-4 '97 season featured a couple stinkers: a 27-3 loss to Texas Tech, 21 points in a season opening win over 1-10 Iowa State, 20 points against Purdue in a bowl loss (though this might have been a year when Purdue had a surprisingly stingy defense).
The numbers at right are those of LSU and Oklahoma State w
ith Miles as head coach, provided on the assumption that as a former offensive assistant and coordinator he has something to do with them. They're good but not Tedford-good; the interesting thing is that there seems to be a clear disconnect between Miles' scoring offense and total offense. Each Miles team is significantly better at the latter than the former (save last year, when it would have been hard to be better), occasionally by remarkable margins. Is this luck? Turnover margin? (In the case of 2005, yes, as OSU was second in the country. Other than that, no.) Excellent special teams? A refusal to punt from inside the opponent's 40? I don't know. It does seem like an indicator that Miles is doing something subtle right that most coaches are not.
That's nice, but the most appealing thing about Miles is that this section might be something of a moot point. Miles, like Mark Richt and Bobby Bowden, has positioned himself as a CEO sort that does not get into the nitty-gritty details of coordinating. Instead, he goes out and hires the best available guys to coach his offense and defense, then replaces them with the best available guys when they get poached. Witness defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and offensive coordinators Jimbo Fisher/Gary Crowton. No hiring your buddies despite some clear evidence they aren't Michigan-caliber tactically.
Recruiting: It would be nice if Miles had a stop somewhere between recruiting purgatory and recruiting Nirvana to evaluate, but he does not. At LSU, things have been outstanding. Miles signed the #4 class last year, the #7 class the year before, and the #22 class in 2005 despite only having 13 scholarships to give.
Is this entirely an artifact of LSU's status as the lone major football school in the nation's most talent-dense state? Let's break it down:
|2006||26||13||3||1||2||7 (3 GA, 1 FL, 1 AL, 2 MS)|
|2007||26||11||5||--||--||10 (1 MI, 2 AL, 2 FL, 1 GA, 2 MS, 1 NC, 1 TN)|
Survey says... sort of. Anytime you can load up on 11-13 instate kids and have 8 or so of them be four or five stars, you are starting ahead of the pack. But Miles' most recent class has 15 out of state recruits, every one of them four stars or better save two(?!) kickers and a three-star tight end out of Texas. This includes potentially huge flake Joseph Barksdale from Cass Tech, a guy the Michigan coaches either screwed up with or passed on because of the potentially huge flake thing. You can spin this as a Miles negative if you want, but LSU doesn't seem to have more problems than most teams with bad apples. They were a nonfactor in the Fulmer Cup -- Michigan finished like fifth -- and don't appear beset by internal strife like the current Michigan team is rumored to be.
One other note: Miles' distinct lack of JUCO/prep guys is a positive. The prep guy, Keiland Williams, went to Hargrave Military for a year; the two JUCOs were offensive linemen to plug a hole. Michigan went to the prep route for Marques Slocum and took a JUCO last year; Miles might take the occasional guy from these sources and that will probably be fine.
Potential Catches: There are many. One: the maelstrom of rumor and innuendo suggesting that Miles is a nefarious win-at-all-costs type who will tie Michigan's virtue to the train tracks and skitter off into the night. This can be uncleverly dubbed the "Loose Morals" issue. Said maelstrom has its genesis in the current coaching staff and the insiders attached to them. This is a group of people with every motivation to tar potential external candidates who are likely to clean house, so chances are things are exaggerated or really old -- the last time Miles was around the program was 15 years ago -- but that isn't. Even if the accusations levied turn out to be false or piddling, they serve as an indication that the entrenched regime would prefer a dead gopher to Miles. And I don't mean Glen Mason.
There are some indicators Miles might not be the best fit that have better documentation, though. From a post this summer titled "Les Miles Isn't A Candidate For Anything":
When Mike Gundy replaced Les Miles as coach he instituted, um, something other than anarchy:
"Several players said the day [new OK State Coach] Gundy replaced Les Miles as head coach he established guidelines that players attend class, be on time for team meetings, adhere to workout routines, represent the program well and play hard."
Nine kids thought these were ridiculous guidelines and left the team.
Um... not good. Maybe this is sycophantic reporting that chooses to phrase things in a way maximally flattering to Gundy and maximally insulting to Miles, but when a new coach comes in and has to clear out 10% of the team that's not a good sign. Then there were the dual outbursts of this summer:
First of all, the guy has a verbal diarrhea that fits in at Michigan about as well as John L Smith controlled his emotions. This very week Miles said a bunch of intemperate things about the Pac 10 on a radio show that stand in marked contrast to Carr's reticence to do anything that could be construed as campaigning during the Michigan-Florida election window last December. A few months ago he told an alumni gathering that LSU has "a new rival in fucking Alabama," which is not only a sentence that can change directions radically based on punctuation ("we have a new rival in fucking: Alabama!") but the sort of public utterance that would cause the Michigan establishment to get woozy and collapse, Southern Belle style, into Mary Sue Coleman's arms.
I don't care if Miles opens every press conference with more profanity than "It Hits The Fan" as long as he never punts from inside his opponent's 40, but I am not the man with the plan here. Others may see this as a major hurdle.
I dunno... do you want your head coach to sound like this? (Not a rhetorical question; I don't know if I do or not.)
(Miles, not Godzilla.) This is after getting thrashed by Oklahoma 52-9. He seems pissed, which is a change, but all in all he holds it together in what must be a difficult moment.
Relative Compensation: As of November, Miles made $1.5 million, which is approximately equal to Lloyd Carr's current salary. Michigan will have to up this significantly. There is also the hurdle of $1.25 million buyout should he take the Michigan job. Miles would be expensive-ish. Probably less so than Tedford and Ferentz but not Brian Kelly cheap; this should not be a concern for an athletic department seeking to maintain its cash cow.
One potential hitch: Miles' success seems more tied than most to his ability to locate (and pay) high profile assistants, so the true cost of hiring him might be higher than just his salary. Dollars to donuts Michig
an lays out more for an OC under Miles than they would under Tedford.
Would He Take The Job? Yes. Local columnist Scott Rabalais:
Since Michigan's 39-7 embarrassment Saturday against Oregon, just about everyone I've spoken to in and around the LSU program (except Athletic Director Skip Bertman) believes Miles would take the Michigan job if offered should Lloyd Carr retire or resign.
I personally think Les absolutely leaves LSU for Michigan (assuming the season unfolds such that they still want him by the end of it), and I wouldn't blame him at all. Michigan is his alma mater. He's a Bo Schembechler guy, and who WOULDN'T take the opportunity to pay tribute to his hero by following in his footsteps?
Former teammate and close friend John Wangler:
"When and if the opportunity comes up, I think Les will consider it strongly," said John Wangler, a former Michigan quarterback and a close friend of Miles. "I don't think there's reason to tap dance around it. He'd have to look at it seriously."
This is such a slam dunk that all coaches clearly less attractive than Miles need no consideration, assuming institutional hurdles don't eliminate him... and after Appalachian State I think the chances of that are slim.
Overall Attractiveness: I don't know. Obviously what he's done at LSU has been impressive, but pockmarked by things like this:
That is not encouraging. On the other hand, I don't care that Okie State lost this game 52-9...
...the idea of a Michigan head coach saying, let alone meaning "let 'er rip" gives the tingly bits some tingle.
Accusations that he's living off Saban's players ring hollow. This is his third year, and while the guys playing may have been recruited by Saban they have largely been coached by Miles. Tyrone Willingham is not responsible for Notre Dame being 0-8 and Nick Saban is not responsible for LSU being #1. Maybe he's not a super genius like Weis E. Coyote, but he's forged a gorilla with a chainsaw for a penis out of an acknowledgment of his own limitations, a willingness to defer to those more expert than him, and general good management of players and coaches. There is a skill in that generally gets you paid lots of money, be it on a football field or in a boardroom, and it should not be dismissed.
Meanwhile, Miles has proven in the past couple years that his recruiting is not solely because of LSU's status as the flagship program of Louisiana. He can recruit monster classes to a school with a lot of built-in advantages. Michigan is one of these programs. There is unlikely to be a huge dropoff if Miles should leave; will they accuse the next coach of winning with Miles' players?
Improprieties proven are insufficient to disqualify him from the job, and those rumored are just that: rumored. Miles has never been in trouble with the NCAA; he played and coached at Michigan for a total of 15 years; he knows what the program and the school are about. Unless there is some proof he he cutting corners, the insiders should be ignored and Miles should be a strong candidate for the job. Just hire someone (me!) to call timeouts.
Eastern! Respected intra-county rival! How we respect you and your respectable program which is worth respecting!
Run Offense vs. EMU
Pittsburgh, last seen losing by ND-like margins to UConn and Virginia, is the best team Eastern has played this year, and they're still 83rd in rush defense. But things, while uneven, haven't been totally humiliating. Vandy put up 173 yards but needed 44 carries to do it. Ball State's RBs combined for 35 carries at 3.4 YPC. It hasn't been a total slaughter.
Those numbers came against Howard, which isn't a guy (or a duck) but a I-AA HBC. While Michigan is no stranger to giving up mind-bending numbers of rushing yards to I-AA schools, neither is it in the practice of having the equivalent of a I-AA rushing attack. Though there were significant struggles against Northwestern, apparently John Gill is one of Northwestern's anomalous badasses; no one on Eastern will come close to matching that performance. If this is not a steady grind reminiscent of the first three games, it will bode very unwell for future contests.
One note: there are well-sourced rumors flying around that Brandon Minor is going to miss this game. Carlos Brown might get extensive time, assuming we don't trail at the half.
Key Matchup: Interior OL versus DT penetration. Mike Hart has had to deal with DTs in his grill for two straight weeks, breaking 100 yards only via repetition and, well, that's it: repetition. Also his ineffable greatness, but mostly just getting pounded into the line 30 or 44 times. If Eastern Michigan DTs cross the LOS just cancel the season. Again.
Pass Offense vs. EMU
Henne is back as Michigan's full-time starter, so the training wheels can come off the offense and we can risk things like simple outs against terrified three-deep coverage. Like the rush defense, EMU's pass defense has been erratic. They held NIU's QB to 128 passing yards in a win and intercepted Vandy's Chris Nickson four times but also gave up 308 yards and four touchdowns to Ball State's Nate Davis and allowed Pitt's Bill Stull to have an efficient 14 for 20, 177 yard, 1 TD day. I am confident in saying that Henne is better than Davis or Stull and whatever grab bag of wideouts and tight ends we have still includes a few guys who Eastern is going to cower before.
One item to look for: who replaces Massey? Tight end depth was a major issue in the spring when Carson Butler was off the team and Massey was dinged up. The spring game featured Chris McLaurin, a converted linebacker, and Andre Criswell, a converted fullback, conclusively proving McLaurin couldn't block, and Criswell couldn't run, and neither could catch. We could just go with a three-wide set and force opponents to respect it by, like, passing out of it. We could more heavily feature Mark Moundros, though he's been uninspiring and with Moudros comes the dread fullback shuffle. More likely we'll try to sort through the wreckage at TE to find an acceptable alternative. McLaurin saw Massey's time against Northwestern.
Key Matchup: Mike Debord versus throwing only when we have to.
Run Defense vs. EMU
Eastern ran for 37 yards against Pitt and 62 yards against Vandy. Only one anomalous 68 yard romp against NIU is keeping their 100th-ranked rushing offense from levels of epic suck matched only by Notre Dame. They run a spread unless they've vastly changed their offense from last year, so there's always the chance Michigan implodes and Eastern puts up like 300 yards, but... uh... no.
Key Matchup: Ron English versus Getting Too Cute. Stunting all over creation has gotten Michigan in trouble against both Appalachian State and Northwestern; simply driving EMU's crappy OL back should be sufficient.
Pass Defense vs. EMU
EMU QB Andy Schmitt against Vandy:
Yikes. Eastern's passing attack is thus far even worse than their run game, 110th in the country largely because Schmitt went nuts against Howard.
Meanwhile, Michigan's secondary turned in an excellent day versus Northwestern a week after leaving a lot of Penn State receivers open but getting away with it due to a fierce pass rush and the tao of Morelli. Things are on the upswing after the worst performance ever by a Michigan secondary against Oregon -- probably not even exaggeration, that -- and Eastern seems more likely to threaten themselves instead of Michigan.
Key Matchup: Safeties versus enormous screwups that cost Michigan touchdowns. We had another against Northwestern; these must halt.
...will not be relevant, and if they are you probably don't want to know about it.
Key Matchup: KC Lopata, please don't suck..
Vast spreads against MAC teams do not warrant kitten talismans.
- Eastern runs for anything at all.
- Eastern throws for anything at all.
- We can't run. Worry lots if that.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Mallett plays the second half...
- ...with Carlos Brown.
- Uh... we kick off? It's EMU.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 2 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for MAC Opponent, -1 for MAC Opponent From Michigan, -1 for ...That Doesn't Have Brian Kelly, -1 for MAC Opponent From Washtenaw County, +1 for The Horror).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (B
aseline 5; +1 for We Must Maintain In-County Bragging Rights, +1 for If This Happens Twice In One Season My Brain Might Melt, +1 for It's EMU, +1 for Seriously, +1 for SERIOUSLY.)
Loss will cause me to... iiiiiiiiit's kitten time!
Win will cause me to... shrug, watch OSU-Purdue with great interest.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Eastern Michigan is the worst team Michigan will play all year and should roll over and die. Yeah, there's a chance things implode but... no.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Mike Hart sets the record at the end of the first quarter.
- 6 sacks.
- 42-17, Michigan.
Ah duh duh duh:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Big Ten Conference Compliance and Reinstatement Subcommittee ruled today (Thursday, Oct. 4) that the University of Michigan will not be required to forfeit any 2007 football games.
This will go down as the most tempestuous teapot since nineteen dickety-two.
Rates. The NCAA has published this year's GSR rates. Michigan football is at 73%, up from 71% last year. This is third in the Big Ten, behind Northwestern and Penn State. The more detailed report that Jim Harbaugh and NDNation nuts used to hammer Michigan over the summer hasn't come out yet.
Most Youtubey Thing Ever. There's something low-rent about many youtube videos, as you might imagine. Set up a camera, roll tape of you in your living room drinking beer and giving your take on whatever, etc. But I've never seen something quite as goofily amateur as this:
Mock up powerpoint presentation? Check. Insert Survivor tape in cassette player from 1985? Check. Get wobbly child to hold camera? Check. We are go for launch.
For the record: Henne, you daft powerpoint enthusiast, you.
Oh, God, Terrance, noooooooo.
Post Northwestern, Terrance Taylor decides to share the ample, ample love...
...lawsuit for crushing six juniors pending.
JoePa not interested. On the forfeiture:
"I know we got licked," Paterno said Tuesday. "I don't have any interest in it. We lost. That's up to somebody else to make the decision."
The Realests are pleased.
Well, maybe it wasn't so bad. Lake The Posts on John Gill, who just got done owning our interior line:
Mel Kiper recently donned Gill as the 2nd best junior DT in all of CFB. Chris Martin has told me that scouts LOVE this kid and he may project to be one of the highest drafted picks we've ever had.
I believe it after that performance; hopefully he's just this anomalous super badass at NW and not an indication that the Michigan running game is about to crumble.
Great. Michigan now has its very own Level Of Losing in an updated Bill Simmons meme:
Level VII: The Drive-By Shooting
Definition: A first cousin of The "This Can't Be Happening" Game, we created this one four weeks ago to describe any college football upset in which a 30-point underdog shocks a top-5 team in front of 108,000 of its fans and kills its title hopes before Labor Day.
Best Example: The unprecedented "Assassination in Ann Arbor," which trumped The "This Can't Be Happening" Game for three reasons. First, it's an understatement to say that nobody saw Appalachian State coming (in some Vegas casinos, they didn't even have a line for the game). Second, it was one of the most humiliating defeats in college football history. And third, it killed any realistic chance for Michigan to win the national title, only it happened in Week 1 and the Wolverines still had to play out the rest of their suddenly meaningless season. Just for the record, the "Drive-By Shooting" can only happen in college football.
Awesome. Remember this whenever anyone defends the coaching staff that permitted The Horror to happen.
no video; sorry.
|A simple out turns into a huge play because the receiver ends up on top of two defenders and manages to get up and sprint downfield. It's hard to get exercised about this. It's a fluke. (Cover -1)|
|Bacher gives a pump fake and two Wildcats leap as if the ball is coming to them on short screen routes; the third receiver to that side runs a wheel that Trent(+1) covers excellently. Ball OOB; probably just a throw away. (Cover +1)|
|M16||2||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|The center and tackle move out to the second level immediately; Crable is unblocked. Taylor(+1) fills the gap where this play is supposed to go; Conteh is forced to run it into Crable for a minimal gain.|
|Zone blitz with a DT backing off at the snap, probably BGraham. Bacher takes a short stop route; Adams(+1) closes on it short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: FG (26), 0-3, 13 min 1st Q. It's hard to blame the D for the big play on this drive, since by all appearances the guy was down and to continue hitting him only invites late hit flags. It's a fluke.|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Stop|
|Stunting abounds as we line up with one DT and huge, huge splits out the DEs. Seems like an invitation to run; they do not. Terrance Taylor(+1) plows his man directly back into Bacher, who throws inaccurately on an eight-yard stop. (Pressure +1). Stop was open enough.|
|O21||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Out|
|BGraham(+1) avoids an attempted cut block and comes in on Bacher, forcing a hasty throw. This is to a TE on a little out; CGraham(+1) is there to put his helmet into the ball and knock it loose. Four yard gain even if caught. (Cover +1)|
|O21||3||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Out|
|Trent(-1) beaten and leaves his man open past the sticks. Bacher finds him but throws it well in front of the guy, he bats it in the air and allows Trent time to close.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 8 min 1st Q. Most of this is on Bacher. He had open guys twice and couldn't hit them.|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||-3||Zone read handoff|
|Taylor(+1) pushes into the backfield, impeding the course of Conteh and checks on Bacher; Crable(+2) also drives his guy into the backfield, sheds, and tackles for loss.|
|O13||2||13||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||12||Zone read handoff|
|Another instance where we have huge splits between our DT and our DEs; Crable lines up outside the DE and Ezeh is the only guy in the middle. Oh, and guess what? Taylor stunts at the snap. End result: gaping hole up the middle, the center moving to the second level without even having to think about blocking Taylor, and one redshirt freshman linebacker in his first start getting blocked. This is a twelve yard gain and no minuses except to the coaching staff, who begged the Wildcats to run it down their throat.|
|O25||3||1||Shotgun 2-TE||Base 4-3||Pass||3||RB Flat|
|BGraham(+1) cuts through some blockers to pressure Bacher; it's too late as Conteh is open on a little flat route. Can't blame CGraham in coverage since this is a tough route to cover in man and there was a pick that impeded his progress. (Cover -1)|
|This is the second week someone has claimed Morgan Trent is from San Diego. WTF? Bacher misthrows a screen that probably would have worked.|
|O28||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||8||Zone read handoff|
|Major push from Taylor and Crable cuts off the outside; Jamison is cut to the ground and makes an ankle-tackle attempt from his knees. BGraham(-1) ridden out of the play; Ezeh(-1) hesitant and there's a gap. Adams fills competently.|
|Lane runs a little stop route right in front of the sticks and Bacher throws it in. CGraham(+1) in tight coverage; this a nice throw. (Cover +1)|
|Bacher has all day to throw (pressure -2) after a little draw fake that the linebackers bite on; he finds Lane in between Adams and Trent(-1); Adams complains at Trent after the play. (Cover -2)|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-3||Zone read boot|
|Bacher keeps this; Crable(+1) is unblocked and nearly overruns this but manages to track him down for a loss.|
|M49||2||13||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||49||Zone read counter|
|I don't know what Michigan is doing here. They come out in a four-man line, then move around as if confused, eventually shifting into a three-man line much like the one they got gashed on earlier in the drive. We're stunting again, blitzing Chris Graham around the edge as NW pulls a tackle on a zone read counter. I believe John Ferrara(-1) is in the game getting blown off the ball as the lone NT against two blockers â€“ unsurprising â€“ and the stunting Graham gets picked off by the OT. Crable(-1) has run himself out of the play from his DE spot. Big hole. Brandent Englemon sits on the outside -- probably what Carr means by "maintaining leverage" and waits. When he collapses down he fails to tackle(-1). Jamar Adams(-2) overruns the play. Brandon Harrison(-1) overruns the play. It's a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 3 min 1st Q. Twice on this drive Michigan finds itself in second and long, lines up in a 3-3-5 with huge gaps between their defenders and personnel ill-suited to defend the run with Obi Ezeh the only linebacker actually playing linebacker, and gets burned. This drive is all on Ron English.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||13 + 15||Zone read boot|
|Sadly, this was going for big yardage either way. Crable(-1) gives up contain on Bacher, though I can't be too hard on him because if he had handed the ball off the only way this doesn't get to the safeties is if he tracks it down from the backside. Bacher, freed, goes zip. Weak, weak late hit on Englemon. Frickin' hate th
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Jailbreak screen|
|This comes paired with a fake RB screen to the other side. Think this is more a screwup by the NU OL than good play from us, but Ezeh(+1) manages to slice through a guy who overran his spot a bit and tackle for a small gain.|
|M32||2||6||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Fuzzy on this because of poor production that misses the start of the play. And as we come back Terrance Taylor is spinning off a guy around the LOS, forcing the RB into CGraham for a minimal gain. This was 3 or 4 if the guy runs N-S.|
|BGraham(+1) works his way to the QB and forces him to throw off his back foot. This allows Adams(+1) to close and get a PBU. (Pressure +1, cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG (48), 7-13, 14 min 2nd Q. Can't really blame the D too much here, since there was one first down and a questionable penalty.|
|Sigh. This is actually a great read and play by Brandon Harrison(+1) to jump in front of the slant. Unfortunately, he deflects the ball into the air and it's caught for a first down. 80% of the time this is an interception. (Cover +2)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||3||Option shovel|
|NW shows a speed option and drags a TE across the formation. Crable forms up on the QB until the Bacher pitches it inside; closing after a moderate gain. (Crable +1)|
|O42||2||7||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read counter|
|Same play that went for the TD, this time against a straight nickel. It still finds a huge hole as Ezeh(-1) is late reading it.|
|O47||3||2||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||10||RB Flat|
|Depressingly wide open; we blitz Harrison from the weakside and leave the short zone opposite him completely open. (Cover -2) Why are we playing so soft on third and two?|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Horrible production focuses on Lloyd Carr instead of the play on the field and we get a blimp view of this play... hard to tell what happens. I think Taylor(+1) stones two guys to submarine it.|
|M42||2||9||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Out|
|Crable(+1) avoids a chop, forcing an immediate throw; Adams(+1) reads and attacks this, causing a drop. (Cover +1, pressure +1).|
|Will Johnson comes straight up the middle; Crable also applies pressure. Bacher's forced to chuck an out short of the sticks. Harrison(+1) is there for the immediate tackle. (Cover +1, pressure +1_|
|Drive Notes: Punt(!), 7-13, 9 min 2nd Q. Fourth and three from the thirty-six and you punt. We're bailed out by Fitzgerald's idiotic call. Finding a guy who will never do this is a top priority when it comes to a new coach. Fourth downs are the one thing Charlie Weis gets absolutely right.|
|I don't know if this is an intentional underthrow or what, but Trent has this locked down. Unfortunately, he does not adjust to the ball(-1), allows Lane to come back and grab it, and then has serious trouble tackling(-1). Poor play. (Cover -1)|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Taylor(+1) discards his guy; Adams has snuck up to the line before the snap and charges into the hole; the two of them converge at the LOS.|
|M36||2||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||7||Zone read keeper|
|CGraham(-2), unblocked, overruns this and turns it from no gain into a solid play and probably a first down but for Bacher tripping.|
|Adams is an extra guy in the box; we tighten up the coverage. Rush package in. Bacher throws a slant right to Trent, who intercepts (+2, cover +2).|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-13, 6 min 2nd Q. Trent redeems himself.|
|Attempted pump-fake draw like we saw from Penn State a lot. I guess the plan is for Taylor(+1) to chase it or something, as the center sort of discards him and the guard to that side pulls around. This leaves him all alone in the hole. He misses the tackle but Crable is free to finish the play.|
|Harrison lets Lane inside of him for the slant. (-1, cover -1)|
|Blitzing with man behind it; blitz is ill-timed. Warren in good position here but does not get his head around for an available play on the ball, but does force the receiver to stab his foot in while being harrassed and gets a hand on the ball as it comes in... just an excellent play from NW here. (+1, cover +1, pressure -1) Carr challenges this, which I thought was dumb at the time but have come around. More later.|
|Another one of NW's misdirection screens. Bacher pump fakes to the tailback who flails like the ball is coming, then comes back to their TE/H-back guy for a middle screen. Unfortunately for them, he's run into an OL and is not in position to receive the pass. Would have been a big gainer, probably, otherwise.|
|Pretty simple out against man coverage. Harrison beaten (-1, cover -1)|
|Bacher tosses this away, though I'm not sure why as he's got a couple guys looking open. First read was not, though, and pressure was coming. (Cover +1)|
|Michigan is not blitzing and this is not well executed and should be hit for a minimal gain, but Harri
son(-2) overruns this CGraham style.
|M16||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||-5||Zone read screwup|
|Bacher and Conteh bump into each other and Bacher ends up with the ball. He seems surprised by this. It does not end well for him.|
|NW decides to take a shot at the endzone. Warren(+1) and Adams(+1) are bracketing the WR; Bacher throws it away. (Cover +2)|
|M21||3||15||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||12||QB Draw|
|This is a give-up-and-kick playcall that's almost disastrous. Englemon manages to make the tackle; NW kicks.|
|Drive Notes: FG (29), EOH.|
|O9||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||11||Zone read handoff|
|Adams comes up to provide an extra man. Not sure who to blame here. Johnson drives his guy into the backfield so easily and so far that I think this might be rope-a-dope to open up a hole. Crable and CGraham close that hole, but Crable(-1) has given up outside contain and Conteh bounces it out for a major gain.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||5||Zone read handoff|
|More stunting as Taylor slides off onto a guard and CGraham blitzes into the other guard, who picks him up. Crease between Johnson and CGraham with no one behind it. Englemon(+1) makes an open field tackle... barely.|
|O25||2||5||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||9||Speed option|
|BGraham(-1) gives up outside contain, and there's no way CGraham can get off the block of a tackle who didn't even need to look at the DE. We had shifted our linebackers away from the playside here; our rock, their paper.|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||-2||Speed option|
|NW doesn't hurry to the line; Michigan takes the opportunity to get something on not guaranteed to bleed rushing yardage. This time CGraham(+1) is moving outside at the snap and the tackle can get out on him. Crable(+1) is less reckless, forcing the pitch but not taking himself out of the play. The two of them converge to tackle.|
|O32||2||12||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||13||Off tackle|
|Zone blitz! Stunting! Whee! Crable hops inside DE BGraham and gets clocked by the lead blocker. CGraham(-1) caught way too far inside and there's no linebacker support. This is like Appalachian State redux.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Out|
|Warren(+1) in excellent coverage(+1); Bacher doesn't find a second receiver and throws it away.|
|More stunting; this time miscommunication on the OL sends Renaldo Sagesse in unblocked. Bacher flushes from the pocket and just runs OOB for an unncessary loss. (Pressure +2, cover +1)|
|O43||3||12||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Cross|
|Both RBs run upfield and cross. This completely confuses CGraham(-2), who lets the guy in his zone run completely wide open for a sure first down and possibly a very big gain. Bacher throws it behind him. (Cover -3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-16, 9 min 3rd Q. We luck out like whoah. Chris Graham... arrrrgh.|
|Our splits are really improbably wide here. NW flings a little swing pass. Harrison(+1) does a good job tracking it down and tackling. (Cover +1)|
|O25||2||12||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||4||QB Draw|
|Again with the wide splits. Ezeh blitzes into this and gets cut but does fill the hole; Bacher bounces it through the other side. Jamison's hugely wide split has led to a rush upfield and there's a gap you could see coming before the snap. Johnson and Adams close him down after a moderate gain.|
|Warren(-2) lets this inside of him too easily. (Cover -2). We were blitzing late with Adams... what's the point? (Pressure -1)|
|No idea what happens on this play due to crappy production.|
|Bacher pumps and hesitates, apparently staring down Warren's(+1) guy. (Cover +1) Jamison(+2) comes around the end, harrassing Bacher but missing him; his own OL sacks him by running into him. (Pressure +1)|
|We send five as NW max-protects and picks it up. Bacher has time (pressure -2), finding Lane in front of Trent. Pretty good coverage by Trent.|
|Another misdirection screen that goes to their H-back TE guy. CGraham(+1) reads it and closes. It helps that the other RB fell down and could not block him.|
|M34||2||5||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||-1||Zone read keeper|
|More stunting; Crable(+1) loops in from the outside, coming past the pulling tackle and hitting Bacher for a loss. Dangerous; if Crable doesn't make a good play here this is wide open.|
|Corner blitz causes Bacher to hurry a bit; he throws it behind a guy open for the first. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-16, 1 min 3rd Q. Fitzgerald bails us out with a terrible decision to punt yet again.|
|O1||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 4-3||Run||0||FB Dive|
|Taylor(+1) holds up against a double team.|
|O1||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Seam|
|Play action fake results in CGraham(-1) bite; Englemon(+2) comes up to dislodge the ball with a nice hit. (Cover +1) Graham injured.|
|O1||3||10||Ace||Base 4-3||Pass||20||Out and up|
|So stupid. It's third and ten, but it's from their one-yard-line so we load the box with eight guys and have a base set on third and long. Does it really matter if they run it out to the five? No. Anyway, they playfake it, we have eight guys within two yards of
the LOS three seconds after the snap, and Lane is wide open for the conversion. Awful coaching. (Cover -2.) Just because we would always run it and punt doesn't mean everyone else does.
|We miss this entire play. Whee big ten!|
|O23||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||0||Scramble|
|Bacher delays, first guy covered. (Cover +1) He sees a seam in the line and decides he'll run; Taylor(+1) grabs him as he passes and slows him up. Help comes.|
|O23||3||8||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||-7||Sack|
|BGraham(+3) beats his man plus a potential chip from the RB and swats the ball free from Bacher. Crable(+1) recovers. (Pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-16, 10 min 4th Q.|
|Obviously some sort of three-step drop as two guys go for cut blocks. Crable(+1) avoids his and starts baring down. Bacher throws it to a covered guy on a stop route. Harrison(+1, cover +1) there.|
|O34||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read counter|
|Michigan fortuanate this doesn't go for more. Logan(-1) fails to read this and is in no position to stop the ball; Taylor(+1) reaches out and gets a hand on the RB's leg to tackle.|
|Adams a seventh man in the box. We play soft on the corners and they take the easy out. (Cover -2)|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||3||Zone read handoff|
|Tim Jamison(+1) beats his blocker and grabs the RB's leg in the backfield.|
|Despite the completion, tough to blame Harrison, who was in tight coverage and made this a difficult throw and catch. (Cover +1) No plus because he failed to tackle. Ah, no, on replay he gets a +1 anyway.|
|Harrison threatens blitz, backs off, and then comes at the snap. The OT does not get out on him and, because this is on the blindside, Bacher does not sidestep him. The ball is ejected as Harrison impacts him; Jamison comes down with it and starts running. (+1 Harrison, +1 Jamison, +3 pressure)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-16, 7 min 4th Q. This is probably Harrison's best game of his career.|
|Bacher wings it wide. Warren(+1, cover +1) all over it.|
|Bacher pumps but decides his guy is covered(+1); Crable(+1) charges through at the same time, disrupting his timing and perhaps contributing to that decision. Bacher rolls out and is collapsed on after a short gain. (Pressure +1)|
|Behind his guy on a crossing route that Logan was going to shut down before the sticks(+1 cover); tipped to Ezeh; interception.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-16, 5 min 4th Q.|
|Patterson(+1) and BGraham(+2) both shred their blockers and come up on Bacher before these deep-ish routes can come to fruition. No chance. (Pressure +2)|
|Miss the entire play.|
|Jamison(+1) discards his guy, as does Crable(+2); Crable gets to Bacher first and does a sack/strip. (Pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 28-16, 4 min 4th Q.|
Aiigh 300 yard first half burn!
We should really look at the chart.
Chchart it is.
|Taylor||9||-||9||Really effective when permitted to drive NW blockers directly backward, but asked to stunt often.|
|Ferrara||-||1||-1||Not really his fault, but he was a major issue on the long touchdown run.|
|Crable||12||4||8||Yeah, five TFLs and a FF and a FR and all that gets you a nice score.|
|B. Graham||8||2||6||Another strong game.|
|Ezeh||1||2||-1||Seemed like a major dropoff to some, but I don't think he's that responsible for any of NW's gashing runs. Sold out by the scheme, he was.|
|C. Graham||4||6||-2||Bailed out by Bacher a couple times.|
|Trent||4||1||3||Quietly pretty solid this year.|
|Harrison||5||5||0||Ok, so it grades out as a zero. But -3 went to him for screwing up running plays. (+1 was for the blindside sack.) His coverage was 4-2-+2, and he jumped a lot of little slant routes. Usually when someone gets targeted a lot he's|
|Warren||5||2||3||Big bounce-back day.|
|Adams||4||2||2||Major culprit on the long run.|
|"Pressure"||17||6||11||Again, a large portion of the positive here came towards the end of the game when Northwestern had to pass.|
|"Coverage"||24||18||6||Any positive coverage number is a very good job; this was a fine performance from the secondary.|
Are you high? We gave up 300 first half yards to a team that lost to Duke and ran for six inches against Ohio State and you hand out pluses like it's ecstasy at a rave?
Uh. Right, this was my impression as things progressed: "why are all these numbers so high?" It's like I'm suddenly dependent on assistant coaches for the information I receive. Some possible explanations:
- 64 of Northwestern's yards (ok, 56, we can give them an eight-yard out there) came on that fluky he's-down-no-he-isn't opening play. I didn't assign blame here.
- Michigan came out in this funky 3-3-5 that was not what reader DanK suggested in that guest post about slowing down the spread running attack. (More on this later.) Then they stunted out of this thing; several times when they did this Northwestern played paper (hey, no fair!) and Michigan was screwed from the snap. Several gashing runs have no minuses, the occasional five-yarder has a plus, etc. This is a sign you got outcoached. Maybe I should start tracking some RPS stats. I should.
- The D forced five turnovers. This tends to inflate numbers.
- Bacher had a weird day where he was either throwing something horribly behind his intended receiver or feathering a beauty sideline pass. A couple completions actually came coupled with pluses: the slant Harrison jumped that he deflected to a Wildcat, the sideline completion against Warren that was hugely difficult for both WR and QB, a few short throws that were snuffed out immediately upon the catch.
So... yeah. I think the defensive line and secondary both had excellent days. The linebackers, no so much, but whatever.
Speaking of that sideline completion late in the first half...
Right, we challenged it, and I'm totally on board with that.
The addition of the challenge has been mostly superfluous in college. Since every play is reviewed (and referees have apparently taken to standing over the ball waiting for the booth to get a look after potentially controversial game-changing plays, a change I am totally in favor of) anyway, the coaches' challenge usually sits unloved on the sideline, deployed as often as Notre Dame scores a touchdown. I believe this is the first time that Michigan has ever deployed a challenge, and it was a good use of the resource. 1) We were highly unlikely to use it in the second half. See the previous couple sentences. 2) We didn't need the timeout for anything else. 3) It was a close play.
So what about this 3-3-5 thing?
That was ugly, especially since this space ran (and endorsed) a guest post claiming that a 3-3-5 would be a more effective run defense against the spread option that shredded us so in the first couple games. A recap: since defensive ends usually run themselves upfield in a 4-2, you're asking both DTs to have two-gap responsibility. This is kind of tough. A formation like this:
...this is a snapshot from the 49-yard touchdown run. Note the splits between the DT and the DEs. In our diagram above, the DEs are lined up between the guard and tackle. This is 3-technique (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong). Here the DEs are lined up outside of the tackles, which is 5-technique. This is basically a 4-2 with one DT lined up over the center. Also one of the DEs is Shawn Crable and the DT is John Ferrara (I think). This is not what is suggested above. We stunt off this, slanting Crable inside and looping Graham around...
...and from there Jamar Adams misses a tackle and he's off. This was the most disastrous instance, but several other times we lined up in this on second and long and got burned by it. You can't have one guy between the tackles and expect to defend anyone's run game.
Yeah, what is the deal with all the stunting and looping and stuff?
I don't know. It seems too cute, especially on downs the offense can run against. We did this frequently against Appalachian State and paid for it. (Oregon, I believe, was more conventional but against a really fantastic trio of runners.) Meanwhile, whenever Taylor is in the game he's playing Gabe Watson and driving someone's ass into Bacher. Like... line up and out-execute them.
You did not just say that.
Well... I was being sort of ironic. What I don't like from the defense is its slight case of Weis-itis. The 3-3-5 with canyon splits on second and long. The third and ten from NW's one on which we assumed they would run and gave up a long conversion. The stunting around an Appalachian State line that should have spent the day eating Taylor's facemask five yards in the backfield.
There is one aspect of this I do like: when Michigan has gotten its opponents in situations that have no threat of a run, they have been deadly. See either NW drive where they trailed late, the final PSU drive, and the entire Notre Dame game. When permitted to tee off on an opponent that can't threaten a run, Crable and Jamison and BGraham have been dominant, often because of the stunting.
My problem with the defensive playcalling is game theory based. Sev
eral times in this game Michigan put Northwestern in a second and long. In this situation you want to lower variance, since most second and longs result in a punt. Michigan frequently deployed that 3-3-5 with huge splits and stunted; this is a high variance strategy that either results in an unblocked guy or two or a gaping hole. Similarly, on third and ten from the one you want a low-variance play call that results in fourth down from the one or the five or the nine... just fourth down. Instead, Michigan puts eight in the box and bites on play action, leaving Ross Lane open for a twenty-yard conversion.
(Note that you want to avoid predictability here, too, so the occasional unexpected/"wrong" sort of call is okay. No one call can be wrong, like no one raise can be wrong in poker, but over time exploitable patterns emerge.)
Adams was the big culprit on the long touchdown run. As per usual, Michigan got little production from the linebackers. Chris Graham is an opponent big play waiting to happen.
Crable, obviously, but also Taylor -- finally as dominant as we expected -- and Harrison. I thought the coverage in the secondary was very good all around; hopefully that signals improvement and not merely "we played Northwestern."
What does it mean for Eastern or, more likely, Purdue?
We will get an immediate check to see whether or not the secondary is actually getting better with the Boilers rolling into town. They're like an upgraded version of Northwestern: scatter-shot QB in a spread offense that's more pass than run. Except Purdue has a better RB with Sutton out, way better receivers, and probably a better offensive line. We'll know lots more after this weekend versus Ohio State.