sorry about the video; had to do it myself this week and it's taken directly from a 480x480 source, so the aspect ratio is a little wonky. if you're viewing in a good player you can change it to 4:3.
|Kickoff OOB. Holy crap, Kraus(-2) just gets his ass kicked by John Gill. He's driven yards into the backfield, directly into Hart's path, and Gill makes the TFL. Awful. Eight in the box. Maybe Gill sort of knew we were going to run zone left because that's what we always do?|
|M35||2||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||Inc||Manningham||Slip Screen|
|"Zac Cuillo" is not our left guard. NW giving our wideouts 12-yard cushions, so we go with the slip screen. Logical enough. Henne throws it in front of Manningham and a bit too hard. It's dropped. (IN, 2)|
|M35||3||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||Pass||15||Arrington||Deep out|
|The 15-yard out that you need a gun for, unless you're playing Northwestern. This is looped out a bit, but to a wide open Arrington. He makes a tough-ish diving catch. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|50||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|Eight in the box with man on the outside and a single deep safety. Let's run. Ok! Zone block from Schilling and MacAvoy does not go well; MacAvoy(-1) blown back a bit and Schilling(-1) late getting out on the linebacker, so he's right in the hole. Hart bounces it outside, where Massey's guy is set up; he tackles for loss.|
|Manningham comes in motion and runs like a five yard stop. There is no Wildcat within five yards of him as he catches the ball and he heads upfield for the first down. Could not be easier. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Same exact play flipped to the other side of the field. I love it when opposing linebackers step forward at the snap without so much as a play action fake. Anyway, Manningham hit on the stop again. Coverage is a little tighter this time but not much. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||2||2||Ace 3||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|Seven in the box as a strongside corner is clearly coming on a run blitz. Michigan runs away from it. I'm not sure what the play design is here but I think Gill crashes into Boren, preventing him from doubling the other DT. So no zone block and thus an unblocked linebacker. Hart stuffed for nothing.|
|Pretty open, this play. Henne throws it a little too far downfield and Manningham sort of short arms it. (CA-, 2, protection 2/2). Only six in the box this time.|
|O30||4||3||Shotgun 3-Wide||Pass||1 (15)||Manningham||Cross|
|Press man from NW. MacAvoy(-1) beaten, forcing Henne to get rid of the ball before he might like to. He hits Manningham on one of those hideous little crossing routes that's a yard past the LOS; he's tackled immediately. (CA, 3, protection 1/2) Fortunate penalty bails us out.|
|O15||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Safety runs up to the line to give an eight-man look late. He ends up shooting into the frontside gap; Hart cuts back. There is actually some room here but Schilling(-1) has merely escorted his man down the line; he tackles.|
|Fake to Arrington and then come back to the other side for the long handoff. Deante Battle just screws this up, allowing Manningham to waltz in unimpeded. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 9 min 1st Q. Goodbye, passes.|
|M42||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||1||Hart||Zone left|
|NW shows zone; a simple combo route on between Arrington and Manningham where Arrington runs a five-yard out and Manningham just runs a fly would be guaranteed to get one open. Instead: run into quasi-eight guys. The safeties attack at the snap; Boren(-1) gets driven into the backfield; Long(-1) gets pushed back a yard; Butler(-1) can't block his man either.|
|M43||2||9||Ace Twins||Run||3||Hart||Zone right|
|Zone again; safety comes up into the box. A play very similar to those against Penn State where the DT goes behind Boren in an attempt to get penetration. This time Hahn dives at Hart's feet but can't reach him. MacAvoy(-1) loses his guy on the second level and he holds this down to a minimal gain despite the vacant area that could be a big gainer.|
|Three wideouts bunched tight to one side. Northwestern sends six guys, then drops one man right into the crossing route we always run. Mallett scrambles up into the pocket, finds an open Arrington, and fires it well behind him. A tough IN to hand out, but... (IN, 1, protection 2/3, team -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 7 min 1st Q. What is going on? Our OL is getting its ass kicked by Northwestern. Is this an S&C problem or just the fact that we're predictable as hell? Meanwhile, this drive is what people are talking about when they accuse the offensive staff of putting Mallett in a position to fail. On first down Mallett had the easiest read in the world as Michigan could have put two guys in a space one Wildcat was trying to cover because they were overcommitting to the run; they run anyway. Then they end up in third and medium and Northwestern sends a blitz that puts Mallett in a tough spot. The best way to protect a young QB is to give him easy throws; Michigan eschews this for predictable ones.|
|M23||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||4||Hart||Zone right|
|Hart misreads; the outside is wide open as the OLB seals himself against Butler. He takes it up inside into a decent hole but since Hart has misread the zone block â€“ Schilling leapt out on the LB and is on the outside of him â€“ that guy can disconnect and tackle. One thing: NW is showing zone here and the safety nominally covering Arrington is actually running forward at the snap to cut off the outside. This might not be as open as it looks if Arrington can get a seal... and God, are you kidding me? Arrington runs a post and this is a 76 yard touchdown. Arrgh.|
|Unbelievable! It's second and six, a potential running down, against a team that is selling out against us. We spread the field a
nd offset Hart, a formation we have never ever run from. It's like we're playing with a handicap. (-ed offensive coordinator.) We run four short routes; Hart(-1) doesn't cut his guy and he leaps to bat it down. (BA, 0, protection 0/1)
|We have a new habit I haven't mentioned: we line up in a four wide and then always motion in Massey to a more conventional TE spot. Kraus(-2) lets Gill right by him and Mallett is sacked. Awful. (PR, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 2 min 1st Q. WTF is wrong with Kraus?|
|M20||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||11||Hart||Zone right|
|NW in a 3-front with four LBs, and a couple DBs creeping towards the LOS. Not quite a nine man front, but not far from one. Again a zone combo route on the near side of the field has to leave one guy open. We run it anyway. This time it works. Three man lines... not so good this game. The DE runs out to the frontside in an attempt to keep contain and is isolated. Boren(+1) gets across the DT and Kraus helps drive him downfield. MacAvoy(+1) gets his second level block and Hart has space. Bet a dollar we don't see a three man line on a run down from NW the rest of the day.|
|M31||1||10||I-Form||Run||-10 (pen)||Hart||Zone left|
|NW undershifted with a linebacker over the TE; we shuffle and run to from it. Kraus(+1) gets a goot cut on the backside DT. MacAvoy has trouble with his guy but Moundros(+1) blasts him back, allowing Hart a seam between that an Schilling's(+1) block on the DE. Boren's downfield block on the LB and Manningham's job on the WR give Hart a lot of room. Aaaand holding. On MacAvoy(-1) and it's relevant to the play. Sigh.|
|A screen on first and twenty, with one blocker, Kraus. Northwestern swarms it. (CA, 3) The announcers think "population" is a tough word to know.|
|M25||2||16||I-Form 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Massey||TE stop|
|Massey spread out as a reciever; he's open for 10-12; Mallett overthrows him. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|A zone blitz that sees a NW DE drop 10 yards downfield, right into the path of an Arrington crossing route. Which is where Mallett goes. Sigh. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-13, 12 min 2nd Q.|
|Seven in the box but both safeties charge forward at the snap as the corners bail out into deep please-don't-bomb-me coverage. Moundros goes for a block on the backside DT, who wasn't cut that effectively by MacAvoy. Boren goes out to the second level but because of the charging safety has two players to deal with; they set up on either side of them and Hart slams it up the middle for a few yards.|
|3-4 look from NW. MacAvoy(-1) escorts his man to the hole; Hart has to leap into a mess of bodies.|
|It's really depressing to watch NW get up in our grill on third and short-ish when we played really soft on a third down just before. Anyway, Arrington runs a circle route right into coverage when our traditional cross was going to be wide open. I think these are option routes and this is on Arrington. The ball was catchable if Arrington wasn't double-teamed but also not going for a first down. I love routes short of the sticks! You think maybe NW can get away with this because they know Michigan will run three yard routes on third and four and not attempt to pick up a big chunk of yards? (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-13, 8 min 2nd Q. Oops let's punt.|
|M22||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|Also depressing: this is against six-ish guys in the box, but Boren(-1) gets plowed into the backfield and MacAvoy(-1) can't seal the DE, leaving Hart to cut back into unblocked guys. He makes two of them miss, turning this from two to five.|
|FB shuffle; we throw. Arrington drives off the DB and gets his hips turned, then runs a simple out. Wide open for a chunk. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Northwestern blitzes; picked up. Mallett pumps and lets one fly downfield to Manningham at the sidelines. He manages to get a foot in, then re-clutches the ball. Very close. (DO, 1, protection 3/3)|
|O32||1||10||Ace Twins||Pass||7||Manningham||Slip Screen|
|Breaston's old play, as Michigan finally takes advantage of having a linebacker lined up over Manningham. Arrington's block on the corner is kind of crappy, but it still picks up seven. (CA, 3) Mallett fumbles the snap, by the way.|
|O25||2||3||Ace Twins||Run||-2||Hart||Zone left|
|Yet another instance of defensive tackles shooting into the backfield against our guards. This time both Kraus(-2) and MacAvoy(-2) get shoved way into the backfield. Hart has absolutely no chance.|
|O27||3||5||I-Form 3-wide||Pass||11||Arrington||Deep out|
|Another zone blitz. Moundros has trouble picking up a blitzer so Hart has to help out. This leaves no one to help when Schilling(-1) loses his guy on a spin move. Mallett rolls out, stiffarms away a sack, and finds Arrington for the first down. (DO, 3, protection 2/3)|
|Thrown at his feet. (IN, 0)|
|Butler gets open for a seven-eight yard gain plus perhaps some YAC; Mallett throws behind and hard. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|Another zone blitz. Hart cuts his guy, who goes flying over him and threatens to get up. This convinces
Mallett to scramble out. This time he runs despite having Arrington open running across the back of the endzone, picking up a few. (TA, protection 2/3, Hart -1)
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(29), 7-13, 2 min 2nd Q. Is it any coincidence that Mallett's most successful drive â€“ and the only one on that lasted more than four plays â€“ features a bunch of throws on non-obvious passing downs?|
|Henne's back. The simple out that the coverage has been begging for all day. It's wide open.(CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Basically the same thing, but a shorter route with the terrified three-deep of NW literally 12 yards away as Manningham hauls it in. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Should not have been thrown, as the DB is still in his panicked cover-three and has great position on Manningham. This could be intercepted; Manningham and the DB fight for the ball; it finally pops free for the incomplete. (BR, 1, protection 3/3) Nice blitz pickup from Long. Actually, on replay I think Manningham caught this. Why no review?|
|M49||2||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||Run||9||Hart||Lead draw|
|NW with six in the box and safeties respecting the deep pass. We have Massey in the kinda-TE-kinda-FB spot we deploy occasionally; he's used as a lead blocker. He screws it up(-1), getting shoved back and away by the only guy who can prevent this from being a 15-yard gain. Hart's shirt is grabbed, he powers through the tackle attempt and nears the first down.|
|Tampa-two from NW (== MLB flying back at the snap to occupy a deep middle zone); Mathews drags across the zone and Henne lays it in a small window caused by Arrington's route. Perfect timing required. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Not a zone L/R but nothing I can identify either. Long sets up to pass block. Both DTs slant past their guys (Boren -1, MacAvoy -1), and an unblocked corner blitz means there are three guys in the backfield. Anyone who can advise me as to what the goal of this play is? (BTW, Hart miraculously turns this into a yard gain.)|
|Butler lines up at FB, then motions out to TE. The reasons behind this shift are mystifying. NW runs a linebacker out to the little flat route Manningham caught earlier on the drive; Henne does not pick this up and throws it to a covered Manningham. LB breaks it up. Should have come down to Mathews on a crossing route for 6-8-ish. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Yet another zone blitz. Henne throws it behind an open Mathews on a cross that may or may not have picked up the first down (note for potential complainers about routes short of the first down: at this spot on the field I don't mind this on the assumption that picking up 7-8 sets you up to go for it on fourth down.) I can't really tell but I think Henne's arm is hit as he throws, causing the inaccurate throw. (BA, 1, protection 1/2, Long -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-16, 12 min 3rd Q. Zoltan drops it at the eight, where it's fair caught. He has really been excellent this year.|
|Boren(-2) owned by Gill again. WTF is going on? Hart shakes a couple tacklers and tries the other side of the field; no gain. I don't understand how NW is getting PSU-level penetration against us.|
|FB shuffle; we throw. NW runs a linebacker into that same flat zone designed to eliminate the little stop route; Michigan runs an out behind it and Henne floats it in over the LB's head. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Arrington, Manningham, and Mathews all to one side of the field; we toss a little screen out there. NW is not surprised by this and gets a safety up immediately but he comes up too hard and Manningham runs around him, cutting inside Butler for a decent gain. (CA, 3) NW had a linebacker out covering Mathews... they were expecting something like this. Mathews still blocked him out of the play, but you know predictability and all that.|
|M42||2||4||Ace 3-wide||Run||18||Hart||Zone right|
|Gill again in the backfield, this time working on Kraus(-1). With Henne in NW is backing off and only has six in the box here. So when Hart sidesteps around the DT everyone near the LOS is dealing with a blocker. Massey picked up the DE after Long had him initially; Long out on the second level with Boren. Hart is into the secondary.|
|NW zone-blitzing, dropping a DE off into a flat zone over Arrington. Michigan picks it up and Henne has options everywhere. He takes Arrington, as his corner is in a cover three and has turned his hips; Arrington ducks inside on a post and Henne hits him with perfect timing. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O17||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||1||Hart||Zone right|
|Again a DT into the backfield, this time on MacVoy(-2). Hart is forced to cut behind him into unblocked players when the outside was going to be open for a nice gain.|
|This is not a good time to try this as NW is in the three man line that got them burned in the first half. The backside linebacker just drops off into a short zone and is in perfect position when Manningham comes around. The DE had lost contain, so this would have been a good gainer otherwise.|
|Butler shift from FB to TE. Mathews comes on the crossing route and has just enough room to burrow for the first. (CA, 3 protection 2/2)|
|No penetration, but no holes either. I can't make much sense of this.|
|O5||2||G||Ace 3-wide||Pass||5||Butler||TE Out|
|Manningham drawing attention on a flag route; a guy in NW's picket fence zone hops back a second in case it's a post. Henne takes the opportunity to toss it to Butler, who makes it in. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-16, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|M6||1||10||Ace Twins||Pass||3||Manningham||Slip Screen|
|NW expecting this; a LB and safety get out on it immediately. (CA, 3) Martin calls it a bubble screen? Terminology check?|
|Simple throw to a wide open guy against NW's three-deep. Henne throws it quick enough to give Manningham an opportunity to turn it upfield. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|NW stacks the box; this throw is a little behind Arrington and slows him down a bit. Two NW guys converge. (CA-, 3)|
|M30||2||6||Ace 3-wide||Penalty||-5||Schilling||False start|
|Hart offset. NW drops a DT off right into Manningham's crossing route, who bumps him and disrupts the timing of the play. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Definitely open for the first; Henne makes this tough for Mathews by throwing it a little outside. He manages to stretch the ball out and get it, barely. (CA-, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Moundros(-2) is plowed over by a Northwestern blitzer, who falls at Henne's feet and causes this ball to sail. Arrington hit before the ball gets there, but no call... they haven't seen Adrian leap, I guess. (very harsh IN, 0, protection 1/3, Moundros -2)|
|3-4 look for NW. Safety walks up for an extra guy. Hart decides not to follow the fullback, cutting it back into Gill, who's stalemated and controlled Kraus(-1).|
|Henne has plenty of time; we max protect. Arrington is covered; Manningham bracketed. The only guy left is Mathews on a crossing route that's pretty well covered. Henne throws it wide. (IN, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-16, 13 min 4th Q. Mesko uses MIND BULLETS to make Ward fumble is 50+ yard punt.|
|Boren(-2) owned again. Hart has to deal with a guy in the backfield immediately. Long and Butler give him no options on the frontside.|
|Second and ten and we have one wideout in the game. Uh... okay. Henne can't find anyone and steps up past the pressure. As he does this, Gill sticks out his leg and trips him. Isn't that a penalty? Henne flips it in the general direction of Hart but just to prevent a loss. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|A dart between two defenders reminiscent of the Penn State stuff from last year. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-16, 9 min 4th Q. We take timeout... then kick an extra point. Woo.|
|Run blitz from the NW linebacker gets him in between the backside guard and tackle before anyone can react. He grabs Hart in the backfield and is dragged for a couple yards.|
|Or at least it was going to be. Henne fumbles the snap.|
|Sailed; Arrington wide open for the TD otherwise. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 6 min 4th Q.|
|Hart heads outside but the safety is coming up Hart and makes it to the corner just as Hart reaches it.|
|Nowhere to go at all; Hart decides to cut back behind the charging end. Ok. Now there's a corner coming at him; he induces him to overpursue and slip to the turf. Then he's into the secondary and down to the one.|
|O1||1||G||Goal line||Goal line||1||Hart||Zone left|
|Key block is MacAvoy(+1) cutting the backside DE, allowing Hart space when he cuts behind a meh Kraus effort. Good job by Boren, too.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-16, 4 min 4th Q. Ballgame.|
|This is a situation in which it makes sense to pound the ball and try to pick up a first down along the way, so I'm ok with it. The difference between a one score lead here and a two score lead is large.|
|Lather, rinse, repeat.|
|Looks like Mathews will be stopped short here; he pulls a Breaston-vs-Oregon, except in slo-mo, and picks up the first. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Manages to slip through a crack past two NW defenders and squeezes into the second level despite it being stacked up.|
|Yeah... that stacked up thing.|
|Drive Notes: EOG, 28-16.|
Can you express my seething rage via the medium of embeddable flash video?
Can you express my seething rage in a numerical fashion?
- Average yards on first down passes: 8.7.
- Average yards on first down runs: 1.6.
- Number of first down passes: 14.
- Number of first down runs: 16.
(Note that a holding penalty against Tim MacAvoy was counted against the runs; remove that and the average skyrockets to 2.4. The last drive was not included in these numbers; they are not distorted by time considerations.) For the record, Mallett's average yards on first down: 10.5.
So is Mike Debord retarded or what?
Basically. Mallett's one successful drive was the one in which they gave him multiple shots at testing the Northwestern secondary. The thing about Mallett's performance so far is that, while it's not good, he will blow a down doing general freshman things and then do something badass. If you run it for four yards the first two downs, his freshman down means punt. If you give him some margin for error against possibly the worst secondary on the planet, he moves the team. Not as effectively or efficiently as Henne, but better than one first down in four drives.
But the most frustrating thing is that Debord has shown the ability to be at least average and maybe even good at his job. Against Penn State last year we opened up with something like 17 of 21 passes. Against OSU our first drive was a beautifully executed touchdown march; we broke out a couple of successful Arrington wheel routes; we scored 39 points. There is a clear indication that when Debord/Carr/Michigan respects and fears an opponent we get the full toolkit. When we don't we get the first half against Northwestern. And usually this leads to a win. But the arrogance behind the strategy was a major reason for The Horror ending up a loss instead of an uncomfortably close game we win 45-34. And as they say, we must Never Forget. Whenever you see someone wearing an Appalachian State shirt, think back to our two-deep zone against a team we didn't even bother to scout. Think back to Hart riding a bike through most of the second and third quarters. All vestiges of the mentality that permitted The Horror must be seen for what they are and purged.
This game could easily have become The Horror II; no forgiveness is offered to the coaching staff that learned nothing from the most humiliating loss in NCAA history.
Why are we so predictable?
This is not noted above, but the return of Laterryal Savoy has also brought with it the return of the Jermaine Gonzalez/Carl Tabb Memorial Wide Nonreceiver Package. Several times in the game Michigan lifted the actual receivers for Savoy and Hemingway. Every time this was a run. There is, of course, the run left on every starting play of every game. There is the mindboggling decision to offset Mike Hart on second and six on Mallett's second drive. We're running except when we have no other option, it's a potential run down, and we come out and tell them we're passing. We spit on you, deception.
A quick review of the plays above should reveal one startling thing: the letters "PA" appear nowhere. Michigan ran play action zero times. (They attempted to run a waggle once; Henne fumbled the snap.) Hell, we ran exactly one misdirection play, an end-around to Manningham, the entire game. Whenever our offensive line starts moving to one side or the other, defenders can sell out to stop a zone play and be right 95% of the time.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Some of it is truly the coaches being arrogant/stupid/whatever, like the WR package thing. There is no possible justification for it. Other things appear to be systemic flaws in the zone running game we've adopted. For whatever reason, the only play action we can run off of it is the waggle, which exposes the quarterback to a charging defensive end and is ill-suited for deep balls, at least as it is currently conceived. And our counter options are limited, I guess, though we do have a couple that just aren't being deployed. But the primary motivation goes back to Bo. This is the mentality of the program:
"Now I have to admit â€“ since I'm being as honest as I can be here â€“ there was a time when I doubted if fundamentals were still enough to produce top-notch football teams. I even wondered if the game had passed me by.
This crisis of confidence occurred after our infamous 1984 season, when we finished 6-6. In the off-season I went to one of these national coaching conferences with a few hundred other coaches, and they had some hotshot young high school coach from California explain his new whiz-bang system of defense.
He had zones two deep, three deep, man-to-man, and combinations of the two. That really caught my eye. I'm thinking, Maybe you've got to do all those things to win these days. Maybe our approach at Michigan is just too simple too succeed in the modern eara. Boy, that was an awful feeling.
But after this guys finishes his slide show, someone in the audience raises his hand asks, "If your defensive schemes are so great, then why did your team give up 400 yards a game last season?"
Well I wanted to hear this! The hotshot replied â€“ and I will never forgot this â€“ "We were just a poor tackling team."
Well, hell! That tells you all you need to know! Throw out 50 percent of that fancy stuff and spend fifeeen more minutes every day practicing the most basic thing in football: TACKLING, that's all...I walked out of that auditorium and I knew what were going to do: Get back to basics! Get back to Michigan football! And I was determined we were going to do it better than anyone else...
Want the whole thing in a nutshell? Just talk to Bubba Paris. It's midseason, 1981, we're ranked sixth in the nation and we're playing an unranked Michigan State squad. We're ahead maybe 14-0, and we drive down the field again, bang, bang, bang â€“ until we're looking at first-and-goal on their three-yard line.
We get in the huddle and call our play â€“ but Smiley Creswell, State's defensive tackle, thinks he's got our signals figured out, so he starts yelling to his teammates "Off-tackle right! Off-tackle right!"
Now, on this 1981 team we have a front line of Ed Muransky, Kurt Becker, George Lilja, and Bubba Paris â€“ every one of them an All-American. This is not a line you want to be messing with. Bubba hears all this commotion coming from the Spartans, but he just saunters up to the line as only Bubba could do â€“ he was 6-5, 310 â€“ and calmly gets down in his stance. Then he looks across the line at Smiley Creswell and says, "That's right. It's an off-tackle play. It's coming right over you. And there's nothing you can do about it."
Three seconds later Bubba flattens Creswell. Our tailback just walks through the hole Bubba made, and he's in the Spartan end zone, untouched
, handing the ball to the referee, Michigan-style. Touchdown!
We didn't fool 'em. We just beat em!
Now that is execution! That is confidence! THAT IS MICHIGAN FOOTBALL."
That's from Bo's Lasting Lessons, and it definitely worked in 1969 and 1979 and 1985. Obviously, it no longer does in an era of 85 scholarships and transfers and the increased profile and desire to win across the country. No longer can Michigan expect to out-work and out-execute its foes without getting any help from the men calling the plays.
|Oregon - Henne||1||13||6||3||1||0||3|
|Oregon - Mallett||3||7||2||3||1||1||2|
|ND - Mallett||2||7||4||1||0||2||0|
|PSU - Mallett||3||12||6||3||6||1||2|
|NW - Mallett||2||5||4||1||1||1||1|
|NW - Henne||1||19||4||1||1||1||0|
(Legend for this one.)
Henne outperformed the freshman, as you might expect. But the thing is to look at the negative categories forced by the opponent: just seven instances against 35 plays that the NW defense did not seriously impact. Compare that to Penn State: 12 instances against 21 other plays. Clearly, the NW pass defense is way behind just about everyone on the schedule, and there's no reason the coaching staff wouldn't see that coming -- see the Duke QB's numbers -- and no reason not to start off exploiting the big flashing weakness, especially when NW was loading up against the run.
- 0 == totally uncatchable.
- 1 == very difficult catch requiring circus-like propeties.
- 2 == tough but makable
- 3 == routine.
Another fine day for the receivers. I am thinking about softening my expectations here, since it doesn't make much sense to have one category that's "impossible to catch" and another that is being caught at a 4% rate.
Aaand Genuinely Sarcastic has your Hart Chart. Not nearly as negative as I thought it would be, though it grades out at a +3 overall, down from +14 against Penn State. It does reflect my opinions of Boren (second straight tough game) and Massey (can't block).
Henne. QB controversy that did not exist in the first place is over. And Manningham had an excellent day that should have put those "he's a sulky baby" rumors to rest, except now he's suspended for EMU. w00t.
Boren has an excuse as a first year starter. MacAvoy has an excuse as the third-string right guard. But how can Adam Kraus justify getting his ass kicked all day by Northwestern defensive tackles? The interior OL was awful all day against a NW defense that has been sliced like ginsu. Our penetration problems can no longer be chalked up to Penn State being this run-stopping machine. (By the way, Illinois had 216 yards rushing against Penn State despite having the infinite suck of Juice Williams as their quarterback.)
Oh, and whoever thought spending the entire first half running into the line against the nation's 114th-ranked pass efficiency defense was a good idea. Hmmmmm.
What does it mean for Eastern or, more likely, Purdue?
Purdue's defense might be totally horrendous, but it m
ight just be prone to packing it in with seemingly safe leads in the second half. Purdue led Minnesota 24-3 at the half and 38-17 after three quarters and ceded two meaningless fourth quarter touchdowns; the Boilers were up 23-0 on ND before letting the Irish back into the game, or at least as "back into the game" a team as bad as Notre Dame can be. The preseason prognostication on this team was much better against the pass, crappy linebackers, and wildcard defensive line... initial returns should be downgraded a bit. We'll see what happens against Ohio State. Henne's back and the full playbook should be available.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Chaos! After a week in which the only real movement was Penn State taking the pipe, all hell breaks loose. Most teams move up by default after a wide array of ranked teams bite it at the hands of the unranked; one shining(?) exception is South Florida, up ten after a Friday-night turnover blizzard against West Virginia and Auburn's last-second field goal against Florida. The Bulls now sit #5; SMQB stews. (`And omits BC entirely due to oversight.)
Voters were kind to Oregon, six inches and one erstwhile five-star recruit's hands away from overtime against Cal, and Florida -- relatively -- while being vicious towards Texas, Clemson, and Rutgers.
Two notes: South Carolina is now pegged a spot in front of Georgia, which makes me ever so skippily happy, and LSU's margin over USC is now truly prodigious, which strikes me as odd since LSU was leading by, like, one at the half against Tulane and Washington's flukily close game against USC featured in Life on the Margins this week.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- Your three Cal enthusiasts: Card Chronicle, Buckeye Commentary, and Frank McGrath.
- The House Rock built is unnaturally positive about Clemson at #12.
- Uh. Crap. MGoBlog is a huge outlier for Florida State, ranking them #13; the most enthusiastic voters other than that idiot say #17.
- Jonathan Tu is currently touring the country at 82 Sluggo Win; he must be banking on the Zooker scoring him some babes: Illinois #16. Vote redacted. (Not actually.)
On second thought, retract the accusations of babe-trolling. Mr. Tu is doing just fine.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
This week's Mr. Bold. is Saurian Sagacity; their ballot is just plain weird. As mentioned, they drop USC to #7 while shooting struggling (but barely winning) Wisconsin up to #4; BC moves ahead of the Trojans after two uninspiring weeks against Army and UMass. Hawaii is #12, Purdue #13, UConn #14. Florida plummets to #21, Oklahoma #22. Go figure.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award guided another team to a painful loss this week, as Michigan State went down 37-34 to Wisconsin. Perhaps this is not painful enough for you? The award's hatred was probably still focused on Jou
rno Rock, who you will remember called out the award after winning it two weeks ago, promptly was subjected to an overtime loss, and then went out the next week and finished second. Alabama lost to Florida State; Journo Rock does not appear on this week's list.
Next up? The Enlightened Spartan is back again, ranking MSU #20. This does not qualify as totally awful and next week the Spartans get Northwestern, so the award's streak of inflicting pain on its winners may come to a temporary halt. The lesson is still learned, though: don't screw with the CK Award.
During the season, the Straight Bangin' Award is often the property of blogs covering a highly-ranked team coming off a dispiriting loss. This week Saurian Sagacity goes flapjack nuts, as mentioned, ranking UF #21.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive goes to Badger Sports... probably because said blog totally forgot to include Florida. You know, Florida? Winners of the last like billion national championships in everything? Quarterbacked by an Ewok? Etc? This is why you should always post your draft ballots, so people can say things like "hey, idiot, where's Florida?"
This week SMQB wins for totally omitting BC.
Duck blog Addicted to Quack is your Mr. Stubborn. In marked contrast to some voters, AtQ dropped Florida only one spot and Oklahoma four.
Peter said ditch UT, so ditch I did...
Clemson and WVU also move down; I'm sticking with Oregon.
As always, I never look at previous ballots when I go through initial drafts. So sometimes things get a little wonky. Points of possible contention:
- Missouri plummets out for no reason at all. A small oversight, but they will be moving down significantly. Other than a win over Illinois they've done nothing and other teams are beginning to rack up accomplishments.
- The chaos! Oy, the deltas here are terrifying. Yes, apparently I did slide Oregon up four after a loss. Yes, South Florida got the mother of all boosts from a combination of their win over WVU, Auburn's win over Florida, and KState's win over Texas. At this point in the season my rankings are mostly descriptive and not predictive and I remain skeptical of the turnover blizzard that earned USF its wins over both teams, but that defense is for real. I spent most of the Friday night game thinking "boy, I wish we had South Florida's defense" and emitting great big heaving sobs.
- Florida State! Beat Alabama and now their win over Colorado looks much better. One of few teams to have three games against pretty decent teams under their belt.
- The destruction of the Big 12 losers. Texas was waiting to have this happen to them after looking lackadaisical against UCF and Arkansas State. They have no quality wins and their loss was by 20 to a probably decent but not great KSU team. Hell, maybe I should dump them entirely. Their resume is basically Kanasas with a 20-point loss. Oklahoma... well. I think I wanted them behind Florida State because of the Colorado comparable, but they did splatter Miami who splattered A&M so they might deserve to be a little higher.
- South Carolina still way above Georgia. Georgia's big win over 'Bama just got significantly devalued, people, and Georgia's huge win over Ole Miss was closer than it appeared. And also against Ole Miss.
- UVA! GT win looks better now. Just took out an awful Pitt team handily. Meanwhile, VT has played no one against LSU, and even though they're #1 I'm sure there are dozens of teams across the country that could manage to lose by less than 41 to them. Like, say, Tulane. Yeah, UVA lost to Wyoming, but I'll take the team that's actually beaten someone over the team that hasn't.
Questions for the masses:
- Should I drop Texas entirely in favor of Missouri?
- Where should WVU, Florida, and OU go?
- What do I do with Clemson? They're up a spot after a dismal loss because I have to keep them ahead of surging Florida State.
Games observed: WVU-USF, Michigan-Northwestern, MSU-Wisco, Texas-KSU, Oregon-Cal, GT-Clemson (last three quarters of last four; all at the same time in Evanston sports bar; vertigo acquired); Florida-Auburn, bits of USC-Washington.
Editorial Opinion: Uh... yeah. So not much is going on. Obviously.
MI LB Kenny Demens as a weakside linebacker, presumably filling up Michigan's class at the position. Marcus Witherspoon is coming in as a strongside linebacker; JB Fitzgerald is the middle linebacker. Each is ranked somewhere in the nebulous zone between the top 100 and the top 250, Fitzgerald towards the high end and Demens and Witherspoon towards the low. Demens is not a huge get or anything, but he's a nice pickup. Rivals rates him a four star, the #7 prospect in Michigan, and the #230 player overall. Scout has him a three-star not within their top 300. ESPN gives him a 78 and spends basically the entire scouting report talking about his potential as a fullback. Not useful. There's little else on him out there.
Meanwhile, CA S Vaughn Telemaque got the USC offer he was waiting on. This bodes unwell, but he plans on visiting Michigan and seeing what the school has to offer:
"Michigan has great tradition and they always have great defensive players there. Also I think it would be really cool playing in the Big House," Telemaque said. "They've struggled this season, but I think they'll be back in contention. My teammate (freshman defensive back for the Wolverines) Donovan Warren goes there and he's doing great. He's starting as a freshman and that makes me think that I can do the same thing."
Telemaque would have to wait at USC, and the pull of Warren may help out, but USC remains USC and Long Beach Poly remains their school. I doubt he ends up anywhere but there. (Previous assertion not based on anything but speculation and tea leaves, FWIW.)
And, uh... that's about it, really. Michigan is done on offense save for one more receiver, probably, and possibly another offensive lineman. Defensively they're looking for a couple DEs, another cornerback, and two safeties. The best bets appear to be PA WR Vaughn Carraway (meh), CA DE Jamar Jarrett (meh+), MI DE Nick Perry (yay!), NJ S Brandon Smith(yay!+)... and who knows? Spencer Adams might come. But names are thin on the ground at the moment.
Yeesh. Three games in a row; guess we know one of the weeks the Big Ten got the #2 pick. Smooth move, Comcast.