UFRing the Purdue game was a blast from the past, and in a frustrating way. After the first drive Purdue spent much of the day with eight guys in the box, and Michigan ran at them anyway. Since Michigan's always based out of a three-wide formation this is the equivalent of having nine guys against a tradition I-form; Purdue spent the day showing really soft man zero that may have morphed into cover three after the snap but still should have provided Michigan ample opportunity to exploit the big chunks of space Purdue was leaving open.
Look at Roundtree here:
That was his whole day: sitting by himself and never getting a bubble. There were a lot of reasons for this—primarily the weather and Michigan's reluctance to do anything risky against a Purdue offense that's much worse than Michigan's defense—that were in retrospect correct. At the time it was very frustrating.
Anyway, this Picture Pages is about what this eighth guy in the box allowed Purdue to do. Going into the UFR I was hoping I'd see something that would explain why the offensive line seemed to get whipped so badly, and I think this is it. So that's the setup above. It's Michigan's third drive of the second half. They start on the twenty, it's first and ten, and Purdue has eight in the box. Michigan runs a basic stretch at them.
A moment after the snap you can see that the Purdue linemen are slanting away from the stretch instead of flowing with it. This is not something you see often:
At the mesh point Robinson sees the slot guy containing and Kerrigan moving upfield past Huyge, who's releasing, so he hands off.
A moment after the handoff we see that Molk has completely sealed the playside DT. Normally on a stretch play this means the opponent is dead meat. That's because the playside DE has to maintain contain and sets up outside the OT, which means running a good distance outside, which means there's a huge lane for the tailback and whichever guard is playside gets a free release at one linebacker in a lot of space.
Here the DE has not maintained contain. He's slanted inside Lewan and threatens to get upfield for a TFL. Also the MLB is driving hard to the outside. Schilling either aborts his release to rub the DE or just gets caught up on the Lewan block in an effort to get out on the charging LB:
A moment later we see that Molk has erased both DTs with the seal but the playside DE is sitting in that hole. Lewan knows he's lost the battle and starts shoving him past the tailback. Smith has to go outside, where he's got a lead blocker in Hopkins against two Purdue linebackers. Schilling has no chance on the MLB since he shot for this exact hole at the snap:
A moment later Hopkins kicks one guy, Lewan shoves the DE, and Schilling is following the other linebacker into the hole. Smith's cutting up because he doesn't have much of a choice.
Linebacker is now the blur between Schilling and Smith. Schilling's managed to get him to run past the play a bit and he's got to make a diving ankle tackle…
…but he does:
Michigan receives zero yards.
Object lesson type objects:
- Purdue can only do this because they have eight guys in the box against six blockers. One goes with Denard, so that's seven on six. Normally you see playside DEs set up outside on the stretch because if they don't that lead blocker to the outside threatens to pound a single linebacker and send the tailback into the secondary. Here Purdue outnumbers Michigan, which allows them to slant that DE inside and still get two guys on the perimeter when Lewan pushes the DE past the back. Purdue consistently answered the "one safety or zero" question with zero, and these were the results. Here they get the play to go exactly where they want to and kill it.
- I don't think anyone blocking did anything wrong. The only block in question is the one on the playside DE where the guy gets under Lewan because he's slanting inside. If that DE gets past Lewan into the backfield that's a major issue but a main principle of zone blocking is you take the guy where he wants to go faster than he wants to go. Guy wanted to go inside, Lewan shoves him inside and opens up a crease at the LOS. Extra linebacker makes the play. The only thing I think Michigan could have done here is a weird anti-scoop where Schilling shoves the DE outside of Lewan instead of shoving the DT inside of Molk. I don't know if anyone's ever tried that so it's hard to blame the players.
- This is actually close to breaking for some yardage maybe? Despite all this Schilling's good-faith effort to do something with that filling linebacker and Lewan's ability to create a decent hole sees Smith almost cut past the charging LB, whereupon he'd get somewhere between five and many yards. He can't.
That's not a serious knock on Smith on his most effective day as a Wolverine. A back with the ability to make the cut he does on this sloppy field and the speed/power to run through that ankle tackle attempt would be a special guy indeed; hopefully Demetrius Hart can be that guy.
So, yes, I think I did find an explanation in what Purdue was doing that partially exonerated the offensive line. Michigan saw this front all day and kept running into it, which resulted in a crappy day on the ground. In this case the "crappy day on the ground" is 4.3 YPC excluding sacks, which is basically what good DeBord teams averaged on the ground. Since DeBord absolutely loved to run "away" from the extra guy and out-execute in the face of herculean odds, this makes sense.
Michigan's offense is going to net a huge RPS minus in UFR because of this rock, rock, rock playcalling, but don't take that too seriously. I get why they did it when Denard threw two horrible interceptions and a lot of his simple hitch routes to the sidelines were fluttering ducks. The conditions affected his throwing significantly, and allowed Purdue to spend 80% of the game running cover zero. When they stopped this on Michigan's late third-quarter drive from their own four, Michigan went right down the field until a clipping penalty on Lewan put them in second and forever.
More tomorrow when the offense UFR drops.
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at email@example.com or tweet @varsityblue. For game updates on Wolverine commits, check out the F riday Night Lights series.
Dallas Crawford Goes Blue
As covered on Friday, FL CB Dallas Crawford is the newest member of the Michigan Class of 2011. Also when he's wearing a ridiculous hat, you can throw some 8-bit sunglasses on him and he looks like T-Pain (gif credit to chunkums). Local paper coverage of his commitment:
The 5-foot-10, 186-pound Crawford called Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez around 9:30 Friday morning to deliver the news. “He said he was happy, he was ecstatic,” Crawford said. “He said it made his day.”
You can see his full season stats in detail in yesterday's Friday Night Lights post.
MGoUser SWFlaBlue has a son at South Fort Myers, and gave a bit of info about Dallas:
This kid is a tremendous leader and high character student in addition to being a flat phenomenal athlete. He never takes plays off and rarely leaves the field. On defense, his burst and quickness to the ball is outstanding. He breaks on the ball really well and can absolutely bring the wood, too.
There's a bit more there, including an interesting comparison to his teammate Sammy Watkins.
Speaking of Watkins, might Crawford's commitment help convince Sammy to commit to the Wolverines? It certainly can't hurt, and he would be an enormous bonus to the commitment of a highly-rated (yet still underrated) defensive back. Watkins says academics will be the main factor, and considering Michigan is by far the best school in his top three (Clemson and MIami are the other two), coming to school with his teammate and friend could be what takes Rich Rodriguez and co. over the top.
Sammy plans to announce a commitment at the Army All-American Game in January.
Rivals updated their rankings, and Michigan recruits were affected like so:
- Dee Hart remains a 6.0 4-star, but he is now the top 4-star on that site. Rivals ranking guru Barry Every says Hart is "the best running back I saw this year..." then proceeds to put four RBs ahead of Demetrius. The dude is breaking records against the best competition in the country, so I'd say he's earned that fifth star, but whatever.
- Chris Rock, Greg Brown, and Tony Posada are predictable fallers, all dropping from 5.7, with Rock going to 5.6 and the others to 5.5.
- Everyone else remains static, including Jack Miller, who is criminally underrated at 5.5. Questions about what position he'll be playing at the next level may limit his rankings, but there's no way dude is less than a 4-star, either as a defensive end or offensive lineman.
A few Michigan targets also saw their rankings change, but I'll leave the breakdown to those who are committed.
With the last home game of the year comes the last in-season visit weekend (except for bowl(!) practices), and The Wolverines will yet again welcome just a few recruits to the Big House:
- NC TE Jack Tabb will take his official as long as it doesn't interfere with his high school playoff game. Since his high school season has ended, he'll be in town.
- Tom also says NC LB Kris Frost is likely to visit, but the remainder of visits will likely be unofficials.
- IL OL Chris Bryant and his junior teammate Jordan Diamond might be in the house.
For this week's full list, check out Tom's updated diary. After a week off for Thanksgiving and the game at Ohio State, Michigan's coaches will have two consecutive weekends with plenty of visitors. December 3:
- FL S Wayne Lyons announced his final three visits on Twitter, including to Michigan on 12/3.
- MD CB Blake Countess will be in Ann Arbor on the third.
Further into the future:
- CA WR Devin Lucien is talking with Michigan's coaches about a possible visit and offer ($, info in header).
NJ Slot Miles Shuler's on-again/off-again relationship with Michigan appears to be on-again, as he's trying to set up a December visit to Ann Arbor:
Shuler visited Northwestern in late October and is trying to schedule visits to Michigan and Rutgers sometime in December, [Long Branch HS Coach Dan] George said.
He's visiting Stanford for the weekend of the 3rd, so maybe a Big Chill visit is in the works.
- The Dr. Philips contingent won't visit until after their season.
As always with visits, this information is liable to change at any time.
Rivals' Mike Farrell answers a mailbag question about Michigan's defensive recruiting. He's high on most of the defensive class (except Chris Rock), and thinks Michigan can finish strong now that Rich Rodriguez's job is secure.
Different sources can't agree about whether NC QB Marquise Williams will consider decommitting from North Carolina. The latest says yes.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi has committed to play in the Under Armour All-American game.
IL DT Mason Fuller hopes his senior film will net an offer from Michigan.
NC S Mark Bridges is starting to hear from Michigan:
“Michigan is starting to be heavily interested. That’s a school I’m really waiting on as well. Michigan has talked a lot about coming up on a visit.”
It's likely the Wolverines' interest is due to Bridges's teammate, NC LB Kris Frost.
Though he visited Ann Arbor for the Illinois game, CA K Matt Goudis has no intention of decommitting from Boise State ($, info in header).
KY QB Zeke Pike has mostly shown interest in SEC programs, but Michigan's coaches will visit him in December.
ESPN fluff on Cass Tech juniors LB Royce Jenkins-Stone and CB Terry Richardson. Both are hearing from Michigan, and Jenkins-Stone claims an offer from the Wolverines, who lead for his services.
IL DT Tommy Schutt has added a Notre Dame offer to his list that includes Michigan and several other schools.
An annual tradition. Special bonus this year: holy pants there are no seniors. Usually I skip a bunch of anonymous walk-ons who never saw the field unless they have a silly name; this year this is it.
It goes thump. Sometimes
it catches or drops a pass.
Mostly it goes thump.
Bad back, outed grades
but through it all a kickin'
Been around forever
Witnessed the Horror up close
Football purple heart
Thrown into the fire
just two weeks after switching
'08: the nutshell
One last swing hits sod
A shaft of daylight strikes down
Hello two deep
Hurling hockey kids,
the largest man in Quebec came
and he was all right
Took the Moosman crown
as player most likely to
impress your TA
Why did you tattoo
"Stand around, think about plants"
across your torso?
BONUS NOT MEAN HAIKU
Like Schilling, lived
through every last awful bit
and never complained
The west wind in fall
brings everything, and then
Walk-on captains are
pretty much always
The last vagabond
a-wander from spot to spot:
Dread Pirate Rogers
COMMENCE THE SYLLABLE COUNTING.
Two consecutive as we get the hang of being in town and not having fiascoes. This one is ANGRY even after my incoherent rant about that awful Audi commercial* hit the cutting room floor, mostly because Tim has a screaming rage issue with BTN color guy Chris Martin. I just mute the TV, myself.
We talk about the Purdue game, discuss how old I am for remembering Justin Fargas, and then bring in Jamiemac of Just Cover to discuss the weekend's Big Ten slate. Charges of inappropriate music fandom were leveled at Tim in response to his smug ignorance of anything that happened before 2005, but I'd like to make a correction: I accused him of liking queefcore when I meant crunkcore. A thousand apologies to the worst bands in the history of the universe.
*(You know, the one that starts off like lame Adbusters snark with various luxury car owners acting like consumer zombies about their preferred brand only to be shown the true light of justice and progress: Audis. I want it to die.)
The usual links:
Sponsorship note! This is going to be ironic given the crabbing a bit later about excessively corporate bits, but we've landed a sponsorship from a new book titled "For Michigan Fans Only" that will run over about the next two weeks. Check it out, see if you're interested, buy a copy or three, and discharge any lingering guilt you may have about not supporting the site.
Podcasting. I put in an appearance on The Michigan Man podcast to talk about the Purdue game, and talked some more new media stuff with Dan Levy of Press Coverage. And yes, we taped a podcast this week that should be up today or tomorrow. It is the angriest podcast.
Defense: we had it. Wolverine Historian's tribute to the mauling '85 defense:
Football with defense now seems like a bizarre anomaly that requires changes to your gameplanning.
Footie V. Congratulations to the men's soccer team, which won its first Big Ten title in 11 years of existence by stomping Penn State 4-1. MGoBlue has video highlights. Soony Saad's goal was a bit of a gift but Meram's two were sweet, and he would have had a hat trick but for a Penn State player pulling a Suarez. The BTN mics picked up the defender incredulously exclaiming "are you KIDDING ME, sir" after the guy had bashed away a certain goal with his forearm—even Rasheed Wallace thinks that's a stretch. BTW, Saad is now the nation's leading scorer with 18 goals.
The NCAA soccer tournament is a 48-team affair where 16 teams are seeded and receive byes; Michigan is the #10 seed and will play the winner of South Florida-Central Florida on Sunday at 2. The game is in Ann Arbor, so pack the place out. If they advance the third round will be at South Carolina or at home if SC is upset by the Coastal Carolina/Duke winner.
From national award winner thing to person at South Carolina. Your unbreakable faith in David Brandon's pimp hand has been further strengthened by the departure of compliance head Judy Van Horn for a job at South Carolina that seems identical to the one she's departing.
Van Horn only appears in the infamous CARA documents occasionally, mostly to gently spar with Draper. Whatever her offenses were they weren't public, and I plead not enough data if you're asking whether or not she should have been gently shown the door. I will say that I am enjoying the public announcements that Person Has Acquired Job You Don't Care About because they remind me of that scene in The Wire where deposed mayor Royce whispers sweet nothings to Clay Davis about staying in line or getting nothing. Don't go against the family.
Horrified Kafkaesque potato-man interlude.
In other Brandon. The Crain's Detroit Business article on Brandon has been kicked around on the message board already but a couple opinion type objects follow on from this:
As part of dealing with the infractions, Brandon plans to operate the athletics program much like he did the corporations he ran for more than two decades, Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza Inc. and Livonia-based coupon marketer Valassis Communications Inc.
That includes creating a business plan and bolstering the image. The athletic department is conducting a national search for its first chief marketing officer, and Brandon is looking at where money should be spent on promotion.
"The first thing you need to do is resource properly against the areas that are very important. This is a department that's been under-resourced in terms of marketing muscle and expertise," he said, noting that just three people worked on marketing for UM athletics. The new CMO will add more staff.
"(We will) craft the message a little better in the media in terms of who we are, what's going on here and why it ought to be attractive to people," he said.
I guess that's fine and after the NCAA business it seems like a thorough reshaping of the athletic department is in order, but I'm a bit leery of the direction things have gone so far on the marketing front. I'm not buying a Big Chill shirt because it's got an Arby's logo on it. I'm extremely disappointed that David Brandon's pimp hand has so far spared Special K and his awful, generic gameday music.
The whole point of college athletics these days is a lack of the generic corporate moneygrab that makes professional games sterile experiences—have you been to a Wings game in the last ten years? Part of marketing the program is being actually different. Eroding the wall between Michigan's fusty, old-timey feel and your average AHL game brings a short-term Pavlovian response but hurts the development of long-term obsessives that allow Michigan to avoid two for one Subway promotions even when they're not doing that well.
This is a statement I don't like:
"My job as the quote-unquote CEO of Michigan athletics is to make sure that (the profit and loss statement) is healthy, that we're doing a good job of growing our revenues, that we're managing our costs," he said. "It operates very much like every business I've ever been associated with from the standpoint of what we do and what we need to do to be successful."
His job as the quote unquote CEO of Michigan athletics has zero to do with money. Money is a vehicle via which to graduate students and acquire wins, and in some cases I think the athletic department is sliding too much towards money. I thought the same thing under Martin, FWIW.
Hockey bits. A fuller exploration of what's going on with the hockey team will have to wait until football's over but, man, it's looking like a slightly less nerve-wracking version of last year. Michigan has avoided the ugly .500 start and is sitting at 6-3-3, but they're a last-second goal against Ferris State from splitting every weekend they've had this year save a sweep of Bowling Green. Michigan lost to a terrible version of BG last year so this is some progress. It's a far cry from the rampage they went on at the end of last season.
Making things a bit worse was how the Notre Dame series went down. Michigan was run out of the building Friday in a depressing game where they were outshot badly. This never happens. On Saturday they got down and then got a flood of freaky goals:
Michigan Hockey Net chalked the win up to puck luck and it's hard to disagree when Michigan's last three were some variety of bizarre. Langlais's invisible hockey player job is possibly the weirdest goal I've ever seen.
A lot of people have been muttering about a repeat of last year and it's not hard to see the similarities. Michigan does not have a lot of skill in the forward corps and has to rely on bombs and deflections too much. Only Hagelin brings a consistent look-at-that-guy presence on every shift. The goaltending is okay but not great, and the team seems to lack a shut down defenseman in the mold of a Mitera or a Komisarek.
At least they haven't lost to an awful team yet, and it looks like their schedule has been tough out of the gate—ND and Alaska are 1st and 4th in the league right now and Ferris is okay; even BG is 5-7 overall. UNH is 5-1-3. That Mercyhurst tie is going to rankle all year, though.
Cheese it! The cops! Penn State fans are still convinced that an epic refereeing conspiracy exists to prop up Michigan, and after watching this I'm convinced:
/commits seppuku because of the dishonor
Etc.: The Mathlete has us 50-50 to get to an eighth win before the bowl. Quite a coinflip coming up. Mets Maize on the Purdue game. John Clay might miss the Michigan game, but it won't matter since Wisconsin has two other fine backs.