|O26||1||10||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Hey, wow, no nickel. I'll attempt to distinguish between a conventional 4-3 with actual linebackers and a 5-2 where two MLBs sit behind five guys on the LOS. On MSU's first play they motion the TE across the line, then bring him behind the guard as the play snaps; he acts as a lead blocker. BG(-1) is shoved downfield after a momentary double; Taylor(+1) refuses to get sealed and bashes into the pulling guard; no hole. Ezeh(+1) picks through the traffic and makes a tackle as Ringer tries to bounce it out.|
|Handoff fake coupled with an end-around to Thomas in approximately the same area the play would go, except more outside. Jamison(-1) manages to shoot past the blocker intended for him but comes too far up inside on the initial handoff fake; Thomas runs around him. Englemon comes up to tackle after a decent gain.|
|O33||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||17||TE Out|
|Adams(+1, cover +1) is right there, swiping as the ball arrives. Unfortunately, it's high and outside; Davis reaches up but can only bat in the air. It comes right back down to him, and he rumbles for significant yardage. Bad luck and a great catch.|
|50||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||3||Iso|
|Caulcrick in the game. Not sure why he decides to cut away from the fullback â€“ looked like a good gain was possible â€“ but he does; the backside looks open but two guys are attempting to block Pollock and another two have engulfed a DT, allowing Graham to close unblocked.|
|M47||2||7||I-Form Twins||Base 4-3||Pass||8||WR Screen|
|This WR screen is actually a RB screen as the "WR" in question is Ringer, who's motioned out of the backfield. This is not good: we're zone blitzing Crable and Ezeh, leaving Graham to chase Ringer down all the way from the backside. Adams does a good enough job of forcing the play back to him; Ringer slips between two tacklers, nearing a first down.|
|Johnson(+1) dives into Hoyer's knees just as he throws; the resulting pass is has no velocity on it. But it is accurate, as there's a ton of room in front of Trent. (Cover -2, pressure +1) This was man, so -1 Trent, too.|
|M21||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Adams comes up and is clearly in man cover over a motioning tight end. This play is the same as the previous off tackle but run to the opposite side of the line. Johnson(+1) reads his man pulling and starts flowing down the line; CG(+1) shoots into a gap, forcing Caulcrick to bounce it out a bit; Johnson is there to tackle with help from Ezeh.|
|M19||2||8||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Pass||Inc||TE Corner|
|Davis wide open for a touchdown (cover -2, CG -1), but Hoyer throws off his back foot and sails it to Tacopants. Taylor(+1) was coming and may have helped save the TD, as another second or two and Hoyer might be more accurate. (Pressure +1)|
|Wow. Michigan clears out the center of the zone; one LB chases a TE on a corner route as the other deploys a very, very delayed blitz that has no hope of getting home. (CG -1, pressure -1). A shallow cross to Thomas should be wide open except for Englemon(+2) reading this from the instant Thomas cuts his route inside and clubbing him just as the ball arrives. Outstanding. (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(36), 0-3, 11 min 1st Q. In our 4-4 package Max Pollock comes in as a strongside linebacker over the TE. I can't remember another non-FB walkon who played actual downs on something other than special teams. Can anyone?|
|O18||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||0||Pitch sweep|
|Well, if you're not going to block the CB on this he's probably going to come up and do something about the run. Trent does this (he's in zone, allowing the quick reaction). Ringer cuts up into Jamison(+1) and Taylor for no gain.|
|O18||2||10||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Run||5||Iso|
|Man, we shift the front again, leaving that 5-3-1-7 gap between Johnson and Jamison; they run right at it. CGraham shoots up, burying himself under the fullback as Johnson is doubled and a major hole opens up. A safety eventually fills. Hard for Michigan to stop this given the shift.|
|Excellent coverage (+1) forces Hoyer to come down to Thomas; Harrison(+1) is right there and tackles immediately.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 6 min 1st Q.|
|O20||1||10||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||5||WR Screen|
|Don't know if this is poor timing or what, but it seems like this play has no hope of succeeding as Hoyer throws a pass a couple yards backwards to Thomas. Trent(-1) meets him at the LOS and should have him for no gain but gets bowled over for five yards.|
|O25||2||5||Shotgun 2-TE||Base 5-2||Penalty||-5||False start|
|O20||2||10||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||-7||Swing|
|The swing pass CGraham(+2) reads and destroys. (+1 cover)|
|Jamison(+1) bats it down. Usually this is a pressure +1, but Michigan blitzed and didn't get anywhere near Hoyer.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 2 min 1st Q.|
|O41||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Pass||Inc||PA Fly|
|A miscommunication here as Trent(-2) obviously thinks he has deep safety help and lets Thomas go by him without even pretending to cover until it's too late. No pressure(-2); Hoyer loads up... and underthrows his guy badly. (Cover -2)|
|O41||2||10||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||1||Counter|
|MSU motions the TE away from the offset fullback, then runs to his side after a counter fake from the RB, pulling an offensive lineman around with him. CGraham(+1) picks his way up into the hole and makes initial contact; a mass of bodies ends up with Ringer on the ground.|
|Hoyer throws the seam without bothering to check if Jamar Adams might be in the middle of the field, which he is. He breaks and picks it off(+2). (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|O37||1||10||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Run||-2||FB Dive|
|Ringer motions out. They hand it to the FB, but Taylor(+1) shoves into the backfield right in his path and BGraham(+1) finishes the play.|
|O35||2||12||I-Form||Base 5-2||Pass||Inc||PA TE Flag|
|A play action fake kills the pass rush, giving Hoyer lots of time (pressure -1); he throws to Davis, blanketed by Adams(+1, cover +1). Adams breaks the play up.|
|Wow... Michigan sends three delayed blitzers. Crazy. I don't necessarily mind one delayed blitzer, but Jamar Adams from eight yards off the LOS? None of them get anywhere near Hoyer, but that's okay because Taylor(+1) and BG(+1) both bust through from the DT spot after a moment or two. With the crappy blitz, good job by the secondary to cover(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 12 min 2nd Q. Mathews lets the punt go over his head; a disastrous shift in field position from a seventy-yard punt.|
|M44||1||10||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||Inc||PA Out|
|Thomas open (cover -1) as a State deep route pulled off the coverage and the linebackers bit; Jamison(+1) manages to get free of a pulled pass blocker and knock Hoyer as he throws, forcing the one-hopper. (Pressure +1)|
|M44||2||10||Shotgun 2-TE||Base 5-2||Run||3||Counter|
|Thomas comes in motion as a potential end-around target. Taylor(+1) reads the counter action, fighting his way back inside; CGraham(+1) had also popped up in a hole. Ringer's fortunate to fall forward after finding himself surrouded by Wolverines.|
|M41||3||7||Shotgun 2-back||Base 5-2||Pass||-10||Holding|
|Good coverage(+1) but no pressure(-1) ends up with Hoyer rolling out of the pocket and finding his TE on an out for the first down. It comes back for holding, as Taylor was tackled trying to chase down the rolled out Hoyer.|
|O49||3||17||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||5||Screen|
|Thompson(+1) does a good job of tracking back on this; Adams comes up and tackles.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 7 min 2nd Q.|
|M49||1||10||I-Form||Base 5-2||Run||9||Pitch sweep|
|Johnson(-1) late reacting and allows a TE to block him out of the play. Taylor does a good job of fighting down the line, but his dive at Ringer's feet fails to trip him up. CGraham eventually tracks him down after picking through a lot of traffic.|
|M39||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||1||Iso|
|This time it's MSU with the unbalanced line, as soon as Crable sees the shift he demands a safety come up and shifts the LBs to the overloaded side; MSU duly brings the other TE in motion to the unbalanced side of the line. CGraham(+1) knifes through the line and gets a hand on Ringer; Ezeh finishes. Taylor absorbed a double team; no second level blocks were offered by the MSU OL.|
|M38||2||9||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Pass||Inc||PA Out|
|Ton of time(pressure -1); Hoyer eventually throws it way high to a pretty well covered Thomas(+1 cover, Warren +1).|
|CGraham(+1) times a blitz well and is in too quickly for the RB to do anything but knock him off balance; Hoyer has to throw. Hoyer overthrows Thomas, who blatantly interferes with Warren and doesn't get called for it. (pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 5-2||Run||-2||End-around|
|Thomas motions into the backfield as he's done before; this time he gets the handoff and Ringer acts as a lead blocker. Crable(+1) stands his guy up and drives him back, forcing Thomas wide. For some reason, two guys go to block Adams; Ezeh(+1) read and picked through the traffic, hammering Thomas in the backfield for a loss.|
|5-3-1-7 shift to the strongside; we don't adjust as they motion the TE. Odd. They're trying to run a trap right at the gaping hole but the OL bumps Hoyer and he never makes the handoff. After scrambling out for a bit he falls over. Fortunate, as this looked bad if they didn't screw it up.|
|O20||3||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Seam|
|No pressure(-1) whatsoever; CGraham(+1) in great coverage, tipping the ball and getting the PBU. (Coverage +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 2 min 2nd Q.|
|Michigan in a zone; Warren(-1) stops on a shorter route, allowing this flag to come open as CG can't possibly cover this guy any longer. (Cover -1, pressure -1)|
|Michigan sends six but does not get there; Hoyer does roll out. He eventually finds a guy open on the sidelines, but throws it wide. (Pressure -1)|
|M48||2||10||Shotgun Empty||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Cross|
|A huge bust in the middle of the zone has Davis open for a TE cross with a ton of room in front of him; he drops it. (Cover -2)|
|M48||3||10||Shotgun Empty||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Stop|
|Jamison(+2) schools an OT, forcing a quick throw from Hoyer as he's hit. It's high. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, EOH. Lucked out a bit there. Where's Crable?|
|O25||1||10||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Run||2||Inside zone|
|State OL s
till having major issues getting off their blocks and into the second level; this time Taylor(+1) fights off a double and tackles in the hole with help from an unblocked Ezeh.
|We shift to the 5-3-1-7 shaded front before the snap, they run right at the gap. Why are we doing this? Johnson(-1) doubled and gone, CGraham blocked out of the play by the FB. Ezeh(-1) meets Caulcrick three yards downfield and gets trucked.|
|O34||3||1||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||2||Iso|
|Taylor(+1) gets great penetration here, forcing Caulcrick to cut back; Ezeh(-1) and Graham(-1) are late, missing an opportunity to punch MSU off the field.|
|O36||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||6||Off tackle|
|Taylor(-2) clubbed out of this play by the double., ending up four yards downfield and getting Ezeh caught up in the wash. Everyone else did fine, but when your NT gets blown four yards back and they're running right at him it's ugly.|
|O42||2||4||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||2||Iso|
|Johnson(+1), not even the playside DT, drives his guy into the hole behind the penetration of Taylor; Caulcrick is robbed of his momentum and gets surrounded by Michigan defenders.|
|O44||3||2||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||3||Iso|
|Taylor does an okay job on the POA; Crable comes from the backside to grasp; the linebackers flow up but Caulcrick squeezes through.|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun Big||Base 5-2||Pass||21||PA TE Cross|
|They fake the end-around they've run to Thomas before; both LBs bite (Ezeh -1, Graham -1) and Davis is wide open. (Cover -2)|
|M32||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||9||Pitch sweep|
|BGraham(-1) slants inside, giving up the outside immediately. Adams(-1) has filled, as Michigan is coming up hard against the run, for a minimal gain but Ringer spins past him and stumbles near first down yardage.|
|M23||2||1||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||6||Counter|
|BG(-1) blown down the line, opening up a considerable hole as Crable gets cut. Ezeh gets thumped by a blocker, reaching out to slow Caulcrick as he passes, but that's a tough job.|
|M17||1||10||I-Form Twins||Base 4-3||Run||8||???|
|We get to this play late; CGraham(-1) has overpursued and left a huge cutback lane, which Caulcrick uses. Should probably be another minus in here but I can't tell with the late showing of the play. And if this isn't a fumble â€“ which it isn't â€“ has the tool who called the exact same play a fumble when it happened to Antonio Bass been tarred and feathered?|
|M9||2||2||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||1||Iso|
|No creases and a good fill by CGraham(+1) causes a cutback for minimal yardage.|
|M8||3||1||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||2||Iso|
|F***, CGraham, you bolt into the backfield all awesome like and should have this dead to rights, then miss a tackle. Come on. No plus/minus, as CG did slow him up at least.|
|Yeah, we have ten guys on the field after a bunch of switching. Awesome. Anton Campbell(-1) in the game; he should have Caulcrick for a one-yard gain but gets trucked. Why is Anton Campbell in the game? Englemon got knocked out a few plays earlier.|
|Plowed in from six inches.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6 min 3rd Q. Well, that was repulsive.|
|O28||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||9||Pitch sweep|
|Fairly simple explanation as to why this works: Crable is held blatantly without a call. Ringer pops outside, as Crable's understandably lost contain.|
|O37||2||1||Ace||Base 5-2||Pass||15 (pen)||Fade|
|Warren(+1, cover +1) blankets Dell, but gets the world's weakest PI call, which happens to be like ten seconds late. Awful.|
|M48||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||4||Off tackle|
|Ringer shoots through a hole that appears to not exist, as Ezeh came up and took out the lead-blocking pulling guard and did well; Taylor stood up to a double team okay. Somehow he leaks through between the two and darts for decent yardage.|
|M44||2||6||I-Form||Base 5-2||Run||-2||Pitch sweep|
|Crable(+2) blows the trapping guard into the backfield, discarding him and closing Caulcrick down for a loss.|
|M46||3||8||Shotgun Empty||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||6||Out|
|Michigan sends six, but the blitz is ill-timed and doesn't really get there fast. Johnson(+1) eventually hits Hoyer; he still gets a pass off, which is complete but close enough to the sidelines that the WR can't turn it up.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 3 min 3rd Q.|
|O17||1||10||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||6||WR Screen|
|Stevie Brown(-1) in, coming up and moving in on Caulcrick, ignoring the WR screen. Trent has to fight off a cut and get up to tackle with no help; he does so.|
|O23||2||4||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Run||71||Pitch sweep|
|Well, hell, Crable(+1) busts into the backfield and slings Ringer around. 99% of the time this is a TFL by him or someone else; he didn't tackle him but he also set MSU up for a big loss. Jamison(-1) relaxes, thinking the play's over, and Ringer shoots out to the other side. Brown(-1) has also vacated the backside. Ringer takes off, you know the rest. I don't know who to blame.|
|M6||1||G||???||???||Pass||6||PA TE Seam|
|My copy of the game doesn't actually have this play. As I recall, MSU ran play action and had a guy wide, wide open. (Cover -2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 15 min 4th Q.|
|O48||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||7||Off tackle|
|BG(-1) blown off the ball by a double; a pulling guard comes through and blocks one LB as the guy on the double peels off.|
|M45||2||3||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Run||4||Inside zone|
|5-3-1-7 shift and they run at the overloaded side... maybe. This might be an intended counter, as
the predictably large gap opens up on the backside and they've motioned Davis right over that spot. For some reason Davis and the OT double Jamison, though, leaving CGraham unblocked in the cutback hole; he tackles but only after Ringer picks up the first down.
|M41||1||10||Ace Twins?||Base 5-2||Run||-5 (pen)||Inside zone|
|Hard to tell what happens here â€“ poor production â€“ but Taylor(-1) and BG(-1) are blown off the ball... possibly another shifted front since there's a big hole and it looks like Johnson is offset. Caulcrick just pounds ahead. Illegal formation brings it back.|
|M46||1||15||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||9||Bubble screen|
|Michigan in obvious zone; Brown lined up significantly inside of Thomas and can't get an angle; Trent playing back. (Cover -1)|
|M37||2||6||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Run||16||Iso|
|Massive cutback hole as Johnson again tries to flow down the line of scrimmage, but it's CGraham(-2) who abandons the backside here instead of meeting Caulcrick in the developing hole.|
|M21||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||5||Iso|
|Johnson(-1) blown back by the double, allowing an MSU OL to peel off and hit a LB.|
|Slocum(+1) is in at NT; he's double but holds up, causing Caulcrick to slow as he reaches the hole; Crable comes around and grabs him, but Caulcrick falls forward.|
|M15||3||4||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Pass||9||Broken play|
|MSU runs the fumblerooski throw that worked for a touchdown versus Notre Dame; Michigan is not fooled. (Cover +1). Trent, initially up on Thomas, gets too close and lets him run past him to the sideline; Hoyer makes his best throw of the day and completes it for a first down.|
|M6||1||G||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||2||Iso|
|Johnson(+1) holds up on the frontside; Caulcrick cuts back into an unblocked Adams and falls forward for two.|
|Michigan has this stopped, or should, but Thompson(-1) falls down as he attempt to tackle, allowing Caulcrick to grind forward. A big play that turns this from third and goal and the three to third and goal at the one.|
|Tape does not have this play.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-24, 7 min 4th Q.|
|O25||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||1||Off tackle|
|Jamison(+1) makes this play. driving Davis back and into the center of the line, taking out a pulling guard and allowing CGraham to close and tackle unblocked.|
|O26||2||9||Ace||Base 4-3||Run||7||Off tackle|
|Well, this isn't exactly great by the DL but it's not horrible either. Jamison(-1) is effectively controlled and pushed back, though. Ezeh(-1) is hesitant, allowing a man to peel off onto him and CGraham(-1) does not close the hole.|
|O33||3||2||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||0||Pitch sweep|
|Crable(+1) gets enough push on the pulling guard to convince Caulcrick to cut it up, where a host of Michigan defenders meet him. Taylor(+1) did a good job flowing down the line and creating the pile.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-24, 5 min 4th Q.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun Empty||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||7||Stop|
|A little stop in front of soft coverage. (Cover -1)|
|O38||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||4||Circle|
|Curry beats Harrison; a blitz was sent but did not get there. Harrison does make an immediate tackle. ( Pressure -1)|
|Jamison in unblocked due to a blitz (Pressure +1); Hoyer finds a quick stop route that Warren escorts out of bounds for a minimal gain. (Cover +1)|
|Again blitzing more guys than they can block; Hoyer finds Davis for a short gain. (Pressure +1).|
|I think this is a combo coverage with zone on the left side and man on the right; Warren breaks out to a deep zone and the safety takes the short flat. This would make this bust CGraham's, as he got way too far inside on the TE and allowed Thomas to cross into the middle of the field with no one within 10 yards of him. (Cover -2) On replay.. i dunno. This could be Ezeh, as the swing was covered by Englemon and he was flying up towards it. I think it's Ezeh(-2).|
|Six men cross the line, one of them is an unblocked Crable(+1); Hoyer hesitates on his stop route â€“ Crable just too fast â€“ and is lost. (Pressure +2, cover +1)|
|Max pro for MSU; Michigan rushes only four and still gets pressure from BG(+1), forcing the drag dumpoff. It's dropped; Brown(+1) comes up to tackle anyway; two yards even if caught. (Cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Morgan Trent(+1) jumps this out, which is late, and breaks it up. (Cover +1)|
|M42||4||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Seam|
|Harrison in good coverage(+1); ball is overthrown anyway; Hoyer had to rush it because of a blitz and Jamison(+1) coming free of a blocker.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-24, EOG.|
I'm so confused. Was that a good performance or not?
I tentatively suggest it was. Obviously, the first half was great: 85 yards and three points despite facing a ton of possessions, many of which started near midfield. After halftime things got dicey, but the end results were still 352 yards -- about 75 under MSU's season average -- and 24 points on 15 MSU possessions. That's around 24 yards per drive.
Also, how much do you want to blame the D for Ringer's reverse-field 70 yar
der? I tend to look at those things as fluke occurrences and not reflective of defensive quality; that was fully 20% of their yards. (This is the second straight year Shawn Crable has missed a potential TFL and an opponent has turned it into a long run by using the impetus provided; last year it was Beanie Wells. Crable, wrap up plz.)
But what happened in the second half?
Well, let's look at the char--
|Jamison||7||3||4||Quiet statistically but batted a pass and caused a few others to be inaccurate with his pressure.|
|Taylor||8||3||5||A couple diving tackles that really helped out the befuddled linebackers.|
|Crable||6||-||6||A couple plays on those pitch sweeps; no real pass-rush presence until the end.|
|Trent||1||4||-3||Was fortunate not to give up two big plays.|
|Warren||2||1||1||Still can't believe that PI call.|
|Adams||4||1||3||I will miss these safeties...|
|Englemon||2||-||2||...such a weird thing to think.|
|"Pressure"||10||10||0||In reality worse than this, as many of the +1s came on MSU's final drive when State went empty and M sent six.|
|"Coverage"||17||18||-1||Decent day, though the D was fortunate not to|
Right, on Ezeh: Carr provided effusive praise for him in the postgame and I'm not so in love with my numbers to totally dispute him... but I didn't think he did much, and I assigned a couple pieces of blame to him that I may or may not be right about. Thirteen tackles is a lot, but on most of those he was cleanup or getting the benefit of the doubt in a pile or getting run over by Caulcrick.
I tentatively suggest this was confidence building and pride in his work ethic more than praise for his play. It is nice that we have a mediocre starting MLB who's a freshman; he should have an excellent career by the time things are said and one.
So, anyway, what happened in the second half?
A couple things: sometimes we shifted into that shaded 5-3-1-7 front with the big NT-DE gap and State usually ran right at it, picking up good yardage. Also, they attacked Brandon Graham successfully. He's got a -2 up there, by far his worst total of his career, and it was largely because he got booted out of the line by double teams frequently.
About that shaded front: I don't get it against this offense. I understand its purpose against the zone read, but when MSU is lining up under center and can hypothetically attack any portion of the line without a shift it seems... odd.
A contribution from Greg Simmons, who you may know if you've been reading the comments. He's a defensive coordinator at a NC high school. He thinks the problems in the second half were not schematic but rather on a player level. These are paraphrased:
- DTs getting blown off the ball or collapsing, leaving a hole no non-All-American LB could fill. These were three or four different people. (I thought Taylor was pretty good, though he did get blown out once. Johnson was similar, and Graham a frequent culprit.)
- Missed tackles; LBs and safeties putting their heads down and diving for feet, instead of wrapping up and driving. [This was definitely an issue on a particular second and goal that should have been one yards and was instead three.]
- LBs and safeties not correctly scraping to open gaps on the power off tackle, either out of stack [labeled Maryland I above] or out of I with a pulling tackle or guard. They suck up on the iso, and fail to scrape when the linemen squeeze the down blocks in front of them.
Too many people on Michigan's defense are trying to make all the plays themselves. Why is Taylor trying to spin his way into the backfield when he is getting a double team from a nose and a guard? Because someone is teaching or allowing him to try to make every big play, instead of making a pile and allowing unblocked LBs to make the play.But what if you think your LBs are terrible, and the strength is the DTs and ends? Then don't play gap responsibility, which means dropping the 4-4 scheme or the 3-4 50 scheme that Michigan has employed since I was born.
I do think the scraping issue is something that is a real problem but it's a subtle one I don't quite understand as a layman. When and how a linebacker should move remains one of the truly arcane aspects of football to the interested observer.
What does seem clear is that whereas last year our linebackers were always thumping people at or near the LOS and gaps were hard to come by, this year guys are squeezing through small gaps and blowing through large ones; some of that is on the linebackers and their scraping.
I also have some disagreements, most prominently on Taylor and with the schematic issues, as the shaded front seem an invitation to run right at the gap... but it's food for thought, anyway. Anyone with technical thoughts is invited to comment.
(A clarification for those who fear my latent grumpiness: it's not like they're terrible. Remove the Ringer thing and MSU backs averaged just under 4 YPC. They are what they are, average. )
Terrance Taylor was Michigan's best player on the day, often in the backfield and always occupying two guys.
Trent gets to be a quasi-goat as he was beaten deep twice but Hoyer bailed him out. Other than that, Brandon Graham could not hold up as an every-down SDE against a pounding attack -- he's not Woodley yet -- and the linebackers were erratic.
What does it mean for Wisconsin?
Michigan has to be concerned that the Badgers can find something in the second half to exploit, although to this amateur's eyes it didn't seem to be a schematic change. BGraham's inability to stand up in the run game could prove problematic the final two weeks of the season (or it could be a fluke or something correctable).
At this point we know what to expect from the secondary: solid, but not great coverage and (knock on wood) reliable safety play. The linebackers are good for a bust or two a game.
Wisconsin's almost identical to MSU on offense, though their #1 receiver may be less of a threat and PJ Hill is banged up, and Wisconsin should move the ball sporadically with an eye on making it to the mid-twenties.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
After ten crazy weeks, things begin to solidify. Ohio State increases its grasp on the top spot, but Oregon surges into second by a tiny margin -- they do have a slight advantage in points that's not reflected in the rounded numbers above -- on the strength of a solid victory over then-undefeated Arizona State. Clemson is the week's biggest winner, BC and Alabama the biggest losers; the Week of Anarchy this ain't.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- Your Oregon voters: MGoBlog, Boi From Troy, Addicted To Quack, and Rocky Top Talk.
- Everybody loves them some spread option, but Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician puts WVU #2, in front of Oregon and LSU, which is completely indefensible.
- Speaking of indefensible: VT #4, up eight. OSU #9, down 3. Michigan #18, down 11, Cal #13, up eight. Boi From Troy? Boi From Troy.
- Pitch Right ranks Oregon #9. In front of the Ducks: UConn.
- Cal Golden Blogs drops Missouri down to #14 for no apparent reason.
- Sigh. MGoBlog ranks South Florida #16; no one else goes higher than #20. What a knob.
- There are no fewer than five Duke-style votes for Navy after the Middies broke their 43-year run of futility against Notre Dame.
- We've been over how I loathe the idea of Hawaii in the top ten, so we'll skip the indigation and just point out the offenders: Big Red Network and My Opinion On Sports both rank Hawaii #3.
- Dan Shanoff's East Coast bias what? UConn #5.
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.
Mr. Bold is Big Red Network, who you might forgive since he just saw Kansas score 76 points on Nebraska -- he must assume this is opposite day. A major reason for the win is #3 Hawaii; #13 Cincinnati and #15 Boise State are also generous. The SEC and portions of the Big Ten take major hits as BRN goes mid-major mad. Again, I query anyone who has Hawaii in the top ten: why?
Creepy mind-reading domination of this category by Double Extra Point continues: they win Mr. Numb Existence for the third time this year and fifth or sixth in their two years of participation. A salute to you, sirs, and a request for lotto numbers when you get the time.
This week: Double Extra Point. WTF? I'm freaked out by this.
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.
Oh, don't think that I wasn't silently cursing foul pundit gods with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter of the Michigan State game. But, lo, our penance was accepted and our offense relatively minor, so we were released from the Vader chokehold and, chastened, vow never to tempt the wrath of fate again.
The CK Award will probably not be so kind to California Golden Blogs, which ranks the Bears #18, up six after a stirring three-point victory against... uh... Washington State. USC is up next. Lo, prepare to meet thy doom. (For the fourth time this year.)
Straight Bangin' Award has been the near-exclusive province of Florida and USC blogs this year and this week is no exception. Four of the top five are blogs representing those particular schools, including #1 and #2. This week's winner: Conquest Chronicles, which has USC #20.
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 is EDSBS for the second straight week, though this can be interpreted more as Orson bringing his ballot into line with reality after EDSBS won Mr. Bold. Last week's #12 (Wake), #14 (Cal), and #16 (Tenn) all drop out. USC jumps up to #12 from unranked, and everyone else runs around going "ahhhh".
Mr. Stubborn is Rocky Top Talk; there's hardly any movement as you might expect. Alabama up one after losing to LSU, though? What? Maybe if they had outplayed the Tigers I could see it, but a lot of bad interceptions and penalties on LSU's part don't make for stirring nobility in defeat. Alabama got outgained badly.
Oh, yes: Black Shoe Diaries is a co-winner.
I bumped Kansas up a few spots, swearing as I went.
Arizona State complainers: ASU has a solid win over 5-5 Colorado, an average Big 12 squad, in the nonconference and since the Pac-10 plays round-robin the entire conference has one less cupcake to devour Magino-style. At the end of the year you should mentally subtract half a loss and add half a win from/to every Pac-10 school; their records will be depressed relative to conferences across the country. Meanwhile, Kansas played four atrocious games in the noncon. There's also a common opponent in Colorado, who ASU beat 33-14; Kansas was exactly two touchdowns short of that. There's no comparison.
Oregon complainers: see above for a reason the Pac-10 will be underrated on the records forevermore. Oregon also smashed Michigan, a team that hasn't lost to a I-A squad(!!!) and is currently undefeated in the Big Ten; their other two nonconference games were against Fresno State and Houston, both of whom are 5-1 in conference and 6-3 overall and would have been losable if the Ducks weren't nuclear powered. It's potentially the toughest nonconference schedule in the country, which is a pretty sad commentary on nonconference schedules, I'll grant you. In conference they lost to Cal but have comfortable wins over ASU and USC. LSU can't match the ability to put teams away; OSU can't match quality of opposition, and this ballot has a bias towards who you beat, not who you lost to.
Missouri complainers: they beat Illinois, likely to end up 8-4, and their loss is to OU, who Kansas would lose to as well. They've beaten someone, unlike KU, and have dispatched their opponents with more alacrity overall: remember Kansas struggled with several games this year. All Missouri wins have not been in question.
Connecticut complainers: Hell, I feel your complaints and hate placing such a wonky team so high but they did beat USF and Rutgers and it's really hard to move them down on the merits.
Status. There is an idea floating around that Michigan should sit Henne and/or Hart since Michigan is guaranteed a BCS slot with a win over Ohio State no matter what the outcome is against Wisconsin. This is, IMO, crazy, since the outcome of the Wisconsin game is important either way -- is the difference between 9-3 and 8-4 a big deal? 10-2 and 9-3? -- and the chances either's preparation for the Ohio State game is adversely affected are extremely low. FWIW, Carr on the duo:
Asked about the injured players' status on "Michigan Replay," Carr had few doubts about Hart.
"I don't think you're going to keep him out of this one," Carr said of the Wisconsin game.
When cohost Jim Brandstatter asked about Henne, Carr hesitated but endorsed him too, saying, "Absolutely. He finished the game, didn't he?"
Henne reiterated that stance at yesterday's press conference:
Two days after self-diagnosing his health at 80 percent in East Lansing, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne said his separated throwing shoulder from the Illinois game is almost back to full strength.
Henne added at yesterday's press conference that he'll "definitely" play this weekend against Wisconsin.
"It feels really good," Henne said. "I got treatment this morning, and everything has definitely gotten a lot tighter, and it feels a lot better. Obviously it's going to move around a little bit, but right now, it's not really moving around at all and it's back to normal."
Hart, for his part:
"It's the last two games of my career... I'm not missing anything."
McGuffie aaah. Seven minutes of video fluff on Sam McGuffie:
Several of those runs are new even for those who have memorized the mixtape.
Badgerhawk down. Wisconsin CB Allen Langford and DT Jason Chapman are definitely out for the game Saturday; another key Badger may join them:
University of Wisconsin Head Football Coach Bret Bielema is not sure if running back P.J. Hill can play in Saturday's home finale against Michigan. The sophomore starter missed last weekend's loss at Ohio State with a bruised left leg. Bielema said Hill's condition got worse late last week and he has no idea how things will progress.
Hill got progressively more concerning as Jehuu Caulcrick pounded through the Michigan line time and again; if he's gimpy that will help.
Oh, so stupid. I'll keep it brief since this is football season and you probably don't care about this stuff: that McCosky guy with the inadvisable mustache wrote an anti-blog screed in the Free Press. Thunderous accusation leveled:
A lot of times these bloggers use the work of legitimate reporters. They will lift facts and segments of stories and cut and paste them onto their blog. Rarely, if ever, though, do they bother to credit the source.
Second thunderous accusation leveled:
Bloggers are having a field day speculating on how Joel Zumaya really injured his shoulder. Nobody believes a heavy box fell on him. So the Internet is rife with stories about how he fell off his dirt bike.
Links to blogs (or even mentions of specific offending blogs) provided: zero. Why is this? Um... because no Tigers bloggers even so much as mentioned the dirtbike rumor:
I also wonder where in the world he got this idea that blogs were all over pushing some random dirt bike story. Like I said, he wouldn't have got the idea here. He wouldn't have got it from Billfer or from Ian or from Kurt or from Lee or my main man Matt or from any of the major Tigers blogs. I haven't been keeping up on them lately but I don't even think Deadspin reported anything about dirt bikes.
I checked Motown Sports which is, let's admit it, the only Tigers message board worth looking at, and sure enough I found this thread talking about it. Two seconds of reading made it clear that the dirt bike rumor originated from the COMMENTS SECTION of something posted at ESPN.com.
McCosky's title: "bloggers just aren't journalists." Yes. That's the point.
No Tennessee. With apologies to Rocky Top Talk, the only reason to rank Tennessee is mindless SEC bias. The heavy loss to Cal looks worse each day. The Vols were blown out of the stadium by three-loss Alabama and Florida teams. Four of their six wins were against bad mid-major opponents or Mississippi State. (For those who would claim Mississippi State decent: WVU 38, MSU 13, and it was 31-0 six seconds into the second quarter. No. Just no.) The rest of it: an OT win over 6-4 South Carolina in which they were outgained by 200 yards and the aberrant clubbing of Georgia. That's one actual good performance against three awful ones. No thanks.
Man, screw Kansas. Kansas is Hawaii after a power mushroom or, ironically, a replica of Bill Synder's oft-fraudulent Kansas State teams of the mid-to-late nineties.
Not only is their nonconference schedule shameful but they miss both Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12. Their best win is over a Kansas State team that just lost to Iowa State. It's nice to be undefeated and all that and putting up 76 points against any Big 12 team that's not Baylor is an accomplishment, even if that team is coached by Bill Callahan, but this team has a mid-major schedule and I'm ranking it like one.
Texas? Yeah... I dunno. I probably had them too low (unranked) last week and they're probably too high now.
I'm trying to hew to X beat Y when teams are close... so USF stays in front of Auburn, who remains in front of Florida.
"I find a lot of the things that they do amusing. They need to check themselves sometimes. Let's just remember pride comes before the fall." [please note that Dantonio was led into this: he was asked whether he found Hart's "little brother" comments amusing. Sort of like Hart, actually. -ed]
"I'm very proud the way our football team handled themselves after the game as well. You don't have to disrespect people. We'll come to play. We don't have to be disrespected. We don't have to disrespect people. If they want to make a mockery of it, so be it. Their time will come."
Indeed, Michigan State is truly the model for all those who would like to respect the game.
This last is MSU's loser vigil after they blew last year's ND game at home. Notre Dame is a lot of things -- annoying, overrated, liable to lose to Navy at the drop of a hat -- but they aren't the flag planting types.
"Let's put it this way, if anybody hadn't taken this personal up until this point, it's personal now," Hoyer said. "It just shows what kind of class he has.
"Sooner or later, the little brother, you want to put us that way, you get pushed around enough, the little brother fights back and kicks the other brother's ass.
Oh, now it's personal? You mean it's unlike all those other games when a host of kids who never even got looked at by Michigan (save three or four per year) played their instate rival and then immediately collapsed afterward? Oh shit. We are in serious trouble now. It's personal. I am liquidating my assets and moving to Tahiti, as Michigan will never beat Michigan State again.
Dantonio again with my favorite quote from the whole kerfuffle:
"It's [hatred of Michigan] inbred in me," Dantonio said. "It exists in me and everybody who's a true Spartan, not the ones who give their donor seats to Michigan Wolverines."
I suppose I'm duty bound to give a reaction here, so here goes: OH MY GOD JLS HAS KILLED MARK DANTONIO AND IS WEARING HIS SKIN. IT'S GROSS! SO GROSSSSSS! Oh. Oh God. The dripping... the horrible dripping. Effluvia!
But seriously folks, the one thing the Michigan State program needed was a monomaniacal focus on Michigan. It needed a coach who would install a countdown clock to their eighth straight loss in the series. It needed a man who would stand up and say "you know what, guys? All those other games we play are stupid and we shouldn't try very hard in them." It needed a guy who would teach his resilient troops to follow his example by bitching to the assembled media a full two days after his team blew it again. It needed a man who could forge them into a cohesive unit capable of picking up critical personal fouls at the very worst time possible. See, the problem with Michigan State is that occasionally they enter the fourth quarter of games leading. And Michigan State needs a man who can blow that lead, preferably in really, really painful fashion.
Friends, Mark Dantonio is that man.
I know, I know. You're probably wondering "what radical new direction will this knight errant take the hallowed Spartan program?" Well, let me tell you: every year Michigan State will jump out to a fast start by beating a bunch of awful nonconference teams. When they play at Notre Dame, they will win. Everyone will get all hyped up for the Michigan game, which they will lose. On the off chance they do not lose, they will arrange to lose to Indiana or Northwestern or some such team to restore the cosmic balance. After the Michigan game they will collapse wholesale. Sometimes they will go to a bowl in Detroit. Other times they will stay home and cry softly into their BEET MICHIGAN cardigans. They will never, ever go to the Rose Bowl, and every year MGoBlog will start its Michigan State preview the same way.
Yes, friends, times are a-changin' in East Lansing.