I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Er... first order of business is to note that because I'm an idiot, I forgot to tape the MSU game, so "Upon Further Review" is tenous at the moment. I hope to either A) get a DVD from someone in the AA/Ypsi area or B) relocate it to SB or IBFC this week. If you can provide A, please email me ASAP. When arrangements are made, you'll know.
- I don't mean to harsh the buzz, but the only thing that stopped Michigan State was Michigan State. Their occasional deadly screwups cost them them the game.
- That said, we frequently got very good coverage from the secondary which forced Stanton to scramble around fruitlessly and either take a sack, throw the ball away, or scramble for a couple yards (instead of 15). It was either that or someone mindbogglingly wide open.
- We did do a good job containing Stanton's running but it was at the expense of several other things, I think. David Harris was spying most of the game--he came up whenever Stanton escaped contain, whether it was via a designed rollout or not.
- The defensive line was almost totally neutralized by Michigan State's offensive line, though some of their passivity seems like it was intentional. Much like what we saw in the OSU game, Michigan tends to respond to mobile quarterbacks by making sure they don't get any running lanes at the expense of getting to them quickly, though the fact that we actually sacked Stanton a couple times puts us way, way ahead of the curve. It's possible that the MSU OL is one of the best in the country.
- If there was going to be a game where our safeties fell apart, it was probably going to be this one, but the only play that got past them wasn't really their fault (the flanker screen with a blitz called). I'll say it: "blah blah blah lose Ernest Shazor == worse" has been definitively proven to be false. Shazor's excessive aggression increased the variance of the D immensely and is not missed.
- Tim Jamison played only sparingly but the first down he played was more than impressive. He came in, blew his man three or four yards off the ball, and then made a 4-yard TFL. He made a similar play against EMU. Concerns about him holding up against the run may be overblown.
- Welcome to 2005, Mr. Henne. One awful decision on the interception and a little bit of inaccuracy but nothing like that which we saw against Wisconsin. Instead, we get 60+ completion percentage and three touchdowns. I remember thinking at halftime that I thought Henne would make one mistake too many and that would result in our loss, and thinking that I was a total jerkface for thinking that after the interception. But he did not.
- Welcome to 2005, Mr. Hart. We missed you OMG SOOOO BAD.
- Can someone get the #1 jersey to Manningham stat? It's clear that he has no idea where to line up half the time but that will fix itself with experience. It is also clear that not putting #1 on him is thoroughly dumb.
- Despite Hart's 218 yards, our running game sucks. Other than the 113 yards on the two long carries, Hart picked up 105 yards on 34 carries. That's just over 3.0 yards a carry. That's also terrible. I've advocated the idea of "line yards" in the past and hold to that philosophy now: the yards that Hart made due to his awesome and the incompetence of the MSU LBs and safeties don't impact the fact that our offensive line was almost completely stymied by their defensive line. This happened against Wisconsin as well.
- Yeah, but that last drive in regulation was pretty badass, no?
- The playcalling at the end of the first half was inexcusable. First the timeout before fourth down when the clock should have been allowed to wind. Then the run on first down with no timeouts followed by a spike with 19 seconds left on the clock when Michigan had more than enough time to throw into the endzone twice. Awful disorganization at its finest.
- Conversely, the final drive of regulation was masterful. It's a shame Rivas missed the field goal because otherwise that grinding, fourth-and-one-happy "we're tougher than you" drive would have gone down in Michigan lore. Twice Carr was faced with fourth and one and twice he made the correct decision to pound it into the line. The second time he--perhaps wiser for his experience in the Rose Bowl--passed up a makeable field goal. In the end, he had bled the clock from almost 7 minutes to 50 seconds, forced Michigan State to use all its timeouts, and had set his kicker up with a 27 yard field goal that would have likely won the game.
- The utter incompetence of the review guy in this game forced Carr to use a timeout to get the first half Barringer interception-fumble correctly called, but it was wisely spent. If that call doesn't get overturned Michigan loses.
- Speaking of the utter incompetence of the review guy, the Henne "fumble" was an outrageously bad call made even more outrageously bad by the fact that the incompetent review guy let it stand. Henne's hand had been moving forward for decades before the ball came out. If Michigan had lost the game, it would have taken its place next to the Desmond trip and the Clockgate game in the pantheon of worst calls in Michigan history.
- Note the difference between the review guy versus Wisconsin, who made three reviews very quickly and got each call right, and this review guy versus Michigan State, who took forever to get one obviously wrong call reversed and then took forever to let one obviously wrong call stand.
Thoughts, trackbacks, and recriminations about this weekend's games go a heah.
Also, please welcome Oregon State blogger Jason Prothero to the poll. I've extended an invite to a WSU blog as well but haven't heard back. We'll fill in our Pac-10 holes yet.
All right. Given the fact that people are using any available post to leave comments after heartbreaking losses over the weekend, we'll institute an open thread thing.
Please play relatively nice; I'm going to be disappointed if I return home and the thing looks like a Rivals message board. Criticism is fine but let's try for some reasoned in there, too. I'm attending the game and then the White Stripes concert so I will be not around. Fe fi fo fum.
OMG WE WIN UPDATE
I, for one, welcome our new adorable kitten overlords.
Hail to the kittens adorable
Hail to the conq'ring cuteness
Hail, Hail, to kittens, the lords of MGoBlog.
Run Offense vs. State
Mike Hart is expected to return but hamstring injuries are notorious for lingering. It's yet to be seen whether he has the same effectiveness he did in 2004 against the Spartans, when he cracked 200 yards. The Spartan run D is superficially much better than it was a year ago--as of right now they stand 23rd nationally--but they've played three spread offenses that don't emphasize the run much and have leapt out to huge leads in each of their games, forcing their opponents to pass. When opponents have run, they've done all right. Darius Walker averaged four and a half yards a carry. Hawaii picked up 152 yards on just 28 carries. Illinois got 141 on 33. The latter two are distorted by such huge quantities of garbage time that they're probably not very meaningful, but the upshot is that the Spartan D hasn't proven that they're an above average run defense.
Of course, Michigan hasn't exactly proven the inverse. They've been methodically effective against MAC foes but only had sporadic success against Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Mike Hart's return will make a difference but he can't make holes appear from nowhere. The reason Michigan's ground game has been disappointing has been threefold: Hart's absence, the offensive line disappointing, and the ability of safeties to creep into the box because of Henne's erratic performances. Hart's return only fixes what's behind Door #1.
I expect Michigan's running game will be good--if Hart gets the bulk of the carries he should clear 100 with ease--but not great. Michigan's going to have to convert a lot of third and four, third and five situations.
Key Matchup: Lentz, Kraus, and Henige versus Spartan DTs Domata Peko, Bobby Jones, and Brandon McKinney. If Michigan can beat the Spartan DT's back on a regular basis and pick up five yards on most first downs, they can afford some of the passing game's eccentricities. Converting on fourth and one would be good, too.
Pass Offense vs. State
Twice Michigan has played teams with extremely vulnerable secondaries and twice they have failed to exploit them and lost the game as a result. Against Notre Dame the offensive line, Steve Breaston, and Chad Henne shared the blame, but against Wisconsin it was all Henne, who was wildly inaccurate more often than not when asked to throw downfield.
(Y'all random pundits can shut up about Braylon Edwards, okay? Repeat after me: the loss of BE has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Chad Henne cannot hit an open wide receiver. What exactly do you think the thought process is here?
THE AVANT DROID HAS DISCONNECTED FROM OPPOSING FORCE. DIRECTIVE SEARCH. DIRECTIVE: FOUND. DIRECTIVE TYPE: THROW. INSTRUCTIONS FOLLOW.
if (reciever == Braylon)
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
It mak-ah no the sense. It is the unspicy-ah meatball.)
Anyway. Brady Quinn threw 60 times for 487 yards and five touchdowns. Hawaii's Not Timmy Chang was 21 for 32 for 219 yards. Akron State was 31 for 52 for 293 yards. The secondary is basically the exact same as it was last year except the starter opposite Hayes is a guy who couldn't beat Roderick Maples out. Receivers will be open. Will Henne hit them? He'll hit his share, but 53% and one bad interception is not going to cut it.
Key Matchup: Chad Henne versus His Evil Twin. I mean, let's be serious. Jaren Hayes? Eric Smith? Ashton Watson? The Spartan secondary is a disaster zone. Michigan will have open receivers, but... well, you know.
Run Defense Vs State
Sure, Javon Ringer has played mostly versus crap teams, but he's averaging over nine yards a carry. He's got company: State finished last year 10th in the nation rushing the ball and now stands seventh. They're getting 30 yards a game from four different players: Ringer, The Pedestrian Jason Teague, Jehuu Caulcrick, and The Jesus himself, Drew Stanton.
I don't expect Jehuu Caulcrick to see much time save for short yardage situatons. He's a big, powerful back but given Branch, Watson, and the emerging David Harris on the interior and Michigan's obvious issues with keeping containment on rushers that want to bounce outside, it's clear that Caulcrick is the least effective person to hand rushing attempts to. Teague, Stanton, and Ringer will all carry it plenty, though, and probably to good effect. Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten were totally befuddled last year and appear to be equally confused in 2005.
There is much cause for alarm here. Michigan has used a base set with six in the box with frequency against three- and four-wide sets on non-obvious passing downs and gotten crushed on the ground by NIU, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin (though Wisconsin only used it a couple times). Michigan's going to have to find a better way to deal with that or the Spartans are going to roll down the field largely unmolested. The contain issues we've seen all season will be greatly tested against a highly effective spread option offense. The Spartans are going to roll up yards here if Michigan doesn't play very aggressively with its linebackers and safeties, but when they do that...
Key Matchup: Javon Ringer, The Pedestrian Jason Teague, And The Jesus versus Outside Contain (Or The Lack Thereof).
Pass Defense vs. State
"F***ing Quintana. That creep can roll, man."
"Yeah, but he's a
"Still, I have a simple system by which I rate Big Ten players: how much do I fear this particular person? Stanton is #1 on my list this year. That's got to count for something."
Right, so Stanton is completing 73% of his passes, has thrown 13 touchdowns to 2 interceptions, and is (unsurprisingly) leading the nation in passer efficiency. If I was afeared of him before, I find him downright stupefying at the moment. Sometimes there's a man... well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And Stanton is that man in John L. Smith's spread-run-throw monstrosity.
The good news is that Michigan's defense is probably better than any The Jesus has faced to this point in the season. Michigan's defensive line is showing signs of becoming the fearsome unit it has the potential to be with the dramatic emergence of Alan Branch and the continued fine play of Lamarr Woodley. The secondary has come together nicely; Grant Mason played out of his mind against Wisconsin, Morgan Trent has settled in to the nickelback position nicely, and the safeties appear to have a clue or two, if not the bone shattering hitting of one absent Ernest Shazor. And the linebackers can't possibly play as terribly as they did last year. Michigan's offseason recruitment of Steve Stripling and focus on the spread offense in the offseason should pay dividends. I wouldn't expect 700 yards. But I would expect to scream "Herrmann, you're out of your element!" several times during the course of the game. Michigan is not going to shut the Spartans down.
Key Matchup: Chris Morris and Company versus Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, and Please God Tim Jamison. Given time to throw, Stanton will kill us. We need +20 from these guys to have a chance.
Brandon Fields is the kind of punter who can give Steve Breaston a chance to do something. He's got a monster leg but is prone to outkicking his coverage or booting shanky line drives on occasion. Last year he attempted several driven, angled punts that were designed to keep Breaston in check but
cost Michigan State field position when he screwed them up several times. With Breaston clearly out of sorts, expect the Spartans to take a chance and kick to him. At this point I don't expect it will burn them.
On the other side of the aisle, human jet engine Deandra Cobb and punt returner Agim Shabaj are gone. Senior WR Kyle Brown has taken over the return duties and done all right but isn't a huge threat. New Spartan kicker John Goss has only attempted 3 field goals... and 21 extra points.
Key Matchup: Single Covering Gunners And Not Blocking Them versus Goddamn Common Sense. This is self explanatory, right?
Let's go kitten power.
- Henne sails another couple balls five yards over someone's head.
- Ringer gets the edge.
- Just plain worry, okay?
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Stanton's arm explodes or whatever.
- Rose Bowl Henne makes a miraculous return.
- I dunno, man.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +2 for Stanton, +1 for Stanton's Revenge, +1 for It's In East Lansing, +1 for Has Anyone Seen Chad Henne's Brain?)
Desperate need to win level: 9 out of 10. (Baseline 5. -1 for It's Over Anyway, +5 for Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani.)
It's clubbin' time.
Loss will cause me to... puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies. Puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies. I am a beautiful starbeam that thinks football is a silly. I am not affected. I am an upright man with PRIORITIES and a MATURE OUTLOOK ON LIFE who puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies hold me.
Hold me, I'm so cold. Don't you think it's cold?
I think I need to club some baby seals.
Win will cause me to... assume that the miraculous turnaround was due entirely to kitten cuteness and reward the God Of Kittens by flooding this space with the most adorable cats you've ever damn seen.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: No way, man. Game over. Game over, man. Our defense has held up well under fire from quarterbacks bent on inaccuracy but combine the guy with the top passer efficiency rating in the country with a running game perfectly poised to exploit the outside contain issues the Wolverines have had all season and it's foxhole time. Throw in our still injur-iffic offense and Chad Henne doing his best Sophomore John Navarre impression and a road game in East Lansing and we lose. I think we keep their offense decently in check and it's a close game, but we trail most of the way and go to 2-3.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Gutierrez does not play.
- We do really good job of slowing the Spartan offense down.
- 28-24, Michigan State.
The whole blogging bites journalism thing has sprung again if you're A) a really arrogant blogger who B) loves reading things that probably aren't there into events. Check and check. So let's proceed. You may have heard about "Black Tuesday," the 1929 stock market crash that sent thousands sailing off rooftops and the nation into the Great Depression. If you haven't, now you have. It's a seminal moment in American history.
Or maybe it's the recent announcement that the New York Times and a couple Philadelphia papers are laying off about 600 workers between them, if you pay attention to online media about newspaper media. Perplexing to me, this nomenclature, since the ~600 workers make hardly a blip in the greater scheme of things. It seems, er, somewhat grandiose. The NYT is laying off approximately 4% of its staff--hardly a world-ender on the order of countless plant closings that have rifled through the rust belt over the past forty years. That's what happens when the economy shifts. When the flagship starts taking on water I suppose you sit up and notice, though. (Hopefully Warren St. John's position as staff dreamboat/author extraordinaire is secure.)
The reasons for the layoffs are clear: circulation is declining, ad revenue is declining, and readership is declining. What I haven't seen discussed in the multiple soul-searching tracts that have sprouted on the Internets since "Black Tuesday" is where it's going. I'm not going to be so completely insane as to say that blogs have anything to do with it, but that doesn't prevent people worried about the unedited masses from proffering dismissive, defensive snark.
So it's an interesting time for Bill Simmons, who I've previously called a blogger in spirit, and Chuck Klosterman, a writer at Esquire and Spin, to fire a broadside at us plebes getting our hate on. First Klosterman:
What will be interesting about the coming generation of people (at least if you're a writer) is that they will have a twisted concept of what the word "media" is supposed to mean. A term you hear people use a lot these days is "New Media," which really just means, "Electronic Media, Minus the Actual Reporting." This is what the Internet is, mostly. I constantly see all these media blogs that just link to conventional "Old Media" articles and pretend to comment upon them, but they add no information and no ideas. They just write, "Oh, look at this terribly archaic New York Times story. Isn't it pathetic?" But that sentiment is being expressed by someone who's never done an interview and has no tangible relationship to journalism. It all seems kind of uncreative. My favorite blog was always chaunceybillups.blogspot.com, but I think the dude who wrote it went on some kind of sabbatical.
New Media will never replace Old Media, because New Media couldn't exist without Old Media; they would have nothing to link to. But the net result is that all people are starting to assume that the media is inherently useless and that there is absolutely no difference between news and entertainment. This will make the coming generation even more cynical than the current one, which is mostly bad (but not necessarily tragic).
(Semantic aside: Klosterman has a twisted, narrow view of what the world "media" means. Blogs are media: "means of public communication reaching a large audience." Large is relative. I'm not large, but I'd say that Instapundit or Kos is large.)
What a strange and arrogant verb he uses when he says that bloggers "pretend" to comment on the stories they link to, and then to follow it up by asserting that we add "no information and no ideas," which is totally absurd on its face. How can I assert this? Well, people read blogs, don't they? How many people regularly read things that offer no information and no ideas (other than Drew Sharp columns)? I've seen blogs that are nothing but links to articles; they're generally not heavily trafficked because of the information and ideas thing. Let's just say that bloggers aren't the only ones capable of largely ignorant assertions about things they don't really understand.
I think Klosterman errs in making a gigantic generalization that the entire "media" consists of "Actual Reporting." The mainstream equivalent of the specific purview of this blog, sports, contains almost no Actual Reporting, if by that you mean "finding something out that's not completely obvious." Most sports reporting is a commodity. Anyone who watched the game can write a recap. Anyone who went to the press conference can pull a few quotes and weave a story out of it--and what a story it is. I've read them all a hundred times before. I understand and appreciate that someone like Bruce Feldman gets something useful by talking to coaches and I get something useful by reading his blog because of it, but there's a price to pay. More on that later. Now Simmons:
I liked your point about New Media. Everyone keeps talking about the Blog Revolution, but what does that even mean? If you were in film school and wanted to make movies for a living, would you create a movie from scratch, or would you just make documentaries about other filmmakers and how much they stunk? You'd make the movie from scratch, right? Well, what's the point of writing about people who write about sports/movies/politics/music if you're not backing up your words with your own columns or features? How do you have credibility then? I could write for a living, I just choose to rip everyone else. What? How does that make sense? What's the ultimate goal there? Why not come up with your own material, angles and thoughts? Wouldn't that be more rewarding? How do you get better? That's what I don't understand.
I'm not killing all blogs here -- some of them are useful because they find me stories that I couldn't find on my own, and some of their comments or features make me laugh and think. When the goal is to keep everyone on their toes, have some fun, provide an alternate take on things and remain at least somewhat objective, that's great. If you're using a blog to constantly ream everyone else, that's depressing. Also, how can we have so many libels/slander laws in place for newspapers, and yet the Internet is like the Wild West? People can steal material, slander people, rip them to shreds, make up news ... I mean, you can get away with anything now. Do you know how many times an NBA Web site reported having sources that confirmed some trade that ended up never happening? It was embarrassing. I could go on about this forever.
Isn't it clear that the only times these guys read blogs is when they run across them during their obsessive self-googling sessions (NTTAWWT, I've done it--it's totally easy when you make up your own word)? Jay Rosen's latest post sums this mentality up exactly:
Media people want to believe in the figure of the "who cares if its true?" blogger, the one who will run anything, who has no editorial standards, who can be duped or dupes others. The image still tends to dominate their imagination, perhaps because it puts the most distance between what bloggers do and what they do.
Here we see it in action. Yeah, 90% of blogs are crap. It's Sturgeon's Law, and there's a lot of venting there, but this passage from Simmons is indefensible. A blogger i
s not a message board poster, largely anonymous and indistinguishable from the rest of the chatter on the board. I have a reputation--a brand even--that goes under that banner at the top and whatever trust I have I had to earn by not being completely useless and have to maintain by not slandering people. The major difference between myself and a newspaper is that I don't get the accumulated credit anyone writing under the imprimatur of an established media organization does, but increasingly neither does anyone else.
Not to mention that Simmons--who hasn't exactly done any investigative reporting on Page 2 unless it's an experimental look into how many Daniel LaRusso references he can pack into 4,000 words (8,000, it turns out) and implies that certain announcers should be stricken with throat cancer in every NBA column he writes--is the last person who should be dissing the "Electronic Media Without the Actual Reporting" wing of media, since he is its undisputed king. And that's fine. It's great, even. Sports reporting is overrated. Access is useful in some ways but it's a handcuff as well. All you have to do is wander over to the Wolverine or GBW to see its neutering effects. I mean no offense to either site, but what criticism exists is highly muted because they rely on access that can be taken away if they were to publicly call for people's heads on a pike. And even though I haven't called for bepiked heads and I probably never will, since I've nothing to lose you know it's because this is the way I actually think--and if you want some blood there are places you can get blood.
This thinking sort of swirled around in my head when Boi From Troy sent out an email soliciting ideas about how bloggers can get the same sort of access that your mainstream media types do. I realized that I didn't want access. I couldn't add anything that the professionals at the local newspapers or GBW or The Wolverine couldn't with access. I'd hear the same things, be denied the same interviews, and sit in the same press conferences. I'd also write the same articles, because access corrupts. Absolute access corrupts absolutely. I'm not one of those malcontents who believe GBW and The Wolverine to be the functional equivalents of Pravda, but it's undeniable that there are things they can't say because their access is their major selling point.
Since I don't have access, I've got to come up with another selling point, a way to differentiate myself from the rest of the Michigan sports media world. This is venting and snark in some portion, but not in whole. It appears that it's mostly bigass tables... bigass tables that you'll never see in a newspaper because instead of seeing with their own eyes they're listening to what someone else tells them.
As I've said before: I'm not a journalist; that's the point. This is now an acronym: IANAJTTP.
(The Mighty MJD also tackled this subject thoughtfully here.)
|1||10||O28||Run||0||Draw. Weird call for the first play of the game. Graham(+1) slices in to make the tackle as it's slow developing.|
|2||10||O28||Run||15||Biggs(-1) and Graham(-1) get blocked and lose contain. Scooting downfield occurs.|
|1||10||O43||Run||7||Again Graham(-1) gets caught inside and Hall can't come up to take away the corner. Contain rears its ugly head again.|
|1||10||M47||Run||2||This is crammed up pretty well inside and when he tries to bounce Burgess is there for the stop.|
|2||8||M45||Pass||7||Despite the completion this is great coverage by Mason(+2), who picks this ball off half the time.|
|3||1||M38||Run||1||Watson in. They run away from him. Massey(+1) and Woodley(+1) hold and push really nicely and this is just a good play by Calhoun to squeak out the first down. A better tackle from Barringer(-1) stops this conversion.|
|1||10||M37||Pass||Sack, -13||Woodley(+3) owns the tackle, makes the sack, and forces an obvious fumble that the referees fail to call.|
|2||23||50||Pass||Inc||Screen is thrown over the head of Calhoun. Would very probably have gone for very few yards if caught, as Mason and Hall were there.|
|3||23||50||Pass||Inc||Stocco gets decent time but a blitzer that I think is Brandon Harrison(+1) penetrates and forces the incompletion.|
|Drive notes: Woodley sack singlehandedly ends this drive. Really distressing lack of contain here. That line with Biggs and Massey lined up on one side is like a giant sign that says run here. Brandon Harrison appears to be two or three weeks away from starting at FS the way he's going.|
|2||9||O2||Run||6||Line is Branch-Watson-Massey-Woodley here, they run between Woodley and Massey after a cut he has to make at the line. Massey(-1) just sort of falls down at the snap. He's walking a fine line between being too high and falling over every snap... 6'8, you now.|
|3||3||O8||Run||2||David Harris(+1) shows up in the hole at the line of scrimmage largely because the blocker was forced to take on Engelmon(+1), and cuts it back where a host of Wolverines are waiting.|
|Drive notes: 1 min left in the first, 0-0. 3 and out here, can't ask for anything more. A 58 yard punt and a bad-as-in-dumb holding penalty screw up the field position, though. First glimpse of the Branch at DE thing.|
|1||10||O11||Pass||Inc||Hall(+2) comes in and makes the breakup. Stocco didn't even stare him down, though he didn't exactly rifle it out there.|
|2||10||O11||Penalty||5||Offsides on Rondell Biggs(-1), but Branch(+2) made a TFL on the actual play.|
|2||5||O16||Pass||Sack, -10||Burgess(+1) and Engelmon(+1). Burgess leaps in Stoccos face, causing him to stop his throw and then Engelmon cleans up. Even if the blitzers weren't effective, Branch(+1) was held.|
|3||15||O6||Run||11||Whatever, we concede the 11 in pass coverage.|
|Drive notes: 12 min 2nd q, 0-0. Branch with two plays here and there's more coming.|
|1||10||O28||Run||0||Branch(+1) and Woodley(+1) both hold at the point of attack and collapse into the hole as Calhoun passes. Then they go WOOO like they're Ric Flair.|
|2||10||O28||Pass||3||Dumpoff to Calhoun rather quickly after Branch(+1) (guess who?) gets a great interior pass rush.|
|3||7||O31||Pass||Inc||Stocco missed Daniels badly, but an accurate throw is still not a first down. Branch drops 10 yards downfield on the zone blitz.|
|Drive Notes: 8 min 2nd Q, 3-0. Branch is everywhere. He got a drop on his pass rush comparable to a linebacker. At this point the defense is dominating.|
|1||10||O26||Run||0||Burgess(+1) holds the corner and when Calhoun cuts it back it's into a few Michigan defenders, most notably Harris.|
|2||10||O26||Pass||Inc||Stocco throws a ground ball to Daniels. Massey got good push up front, though I wouldn't call it a hurry.|
|3||10||O26||Pass||12||Three man line and one blitzer comes... Brandon Harrison? Yep. Stocco finds an open guy after the blitzer is picked up.|
|1||10||O38||Run||4||Sweep outside and Michigan's just outnumbered. Wisconsin is in a three wide here and Burgess is spread out to the slot receiver, leaving just six in the box.|
|2||6||O42||Pass||8||No one picks Calhoun up coming out of the backfield--a zone. Don't know who to blame.|
|1||10||50||Pass||15||No pass rush and Stocco has time to find Daniels. Both safeties are in pursuit. Obviously the line expected run. They've been flipping the DEs to get Woodley on Urbik on passing downs but on this play Woodley's rushing against Thomas and then it's Biggs on Urbik.|
|1||10||M35||Pass||18||Zone blitz look that rushes four but Stocco doesn't even look to the short side where the zone drop is . Hall(-1) gets sold a bill of goods on White's route.|
|1||10||M17||Pass||Inc||Two blitzers but this could have been a touchdown. Very close to interference here, but Mason just fell down and Williams fell over him.|
|2||10||M17||Pass||Inc||Stocco gets plowed by one of the DTs right as he throws. Black guy who doesn't look like a mountain so probably Branch(+1). I think Barringer(+1) deflects Stocco's pass, which was on target.|
|3||10||M17||Pass||Inc||Another blitz that's picked but, but there's no one open past the first down sticks(Mason(+1) again has excellent coverage, this time on Daniels) so Stocco rolls out and dumps it out of bounds.|
|Drive Notes: FG. 1:17 2nd Q, 10-3. Stocco got big ideas for a bit here in the best stretch of QB play this game sees. None of the blitzes on this drive get to the QB and thus the big chunks of yardage coming off. Mason is playing extremely aggressively; marked contrast to the soft zone stuff he was playing against ND.|
|1||10||O37||Run||5||Again a bounce from the RB. Burgess(-1) foolishly attacked the tackle when he should have sat back and kept better contain.|
|2||5||O42||Run||3||Three yard runs are not easy to comment on.|
|3||2||O45||Pass||7||Four wide here and I hate this soft zone on third and two. Calhoun makes the catch. Make Stocco replicate that last drive to beat you.|
|1||10||M48||Pass||Inc||OOB. Engelmon(+1) shoves him out, otherwise this is a catch.|
|2||10||M48||Run||11||Swearing erupts. Crable(-1) i s actually in on this play as a defensive end, they run right at him.|
|1||10||M37||Run||1||Nice play by Harris(+1) to shoot out to the sideline, beat a block, and force Calhoun inside.|
|2||9||M36||Pass||11||Evil TE screen to Daniels in the middle of the field. It *looks* like a screen to the left, it's got a receiver running an end around, it's confusing as shite, man.|
|1||5||M20||Run||-2||Calhoun falls over but Watson(+1) was in the backfield here, causing the cut that caused the fall.|
|2||7||M22||Pass||-4||Stocco sacked by Branch(+3), who has a beautiful bull rush move and singlehandedly ends this play.|
|3||11||M26||Pass||Inc||Stocco shortarms Orr. The line had pressure coming and Stocco moves to avoid it and throws this awkwardly.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 9 min 3rd Q, 13-6. That TE screen is a badass, brilliant little play that looks like it could be any of three different things. It freezes the outside defenders on one side with the end around, on the other side with the threatened Calhoun screen (that looks almost exactly like a screen because it IS a screen), and opens the middle up. Never seen that before. It's clearly the Wisconsin Secret Weapon this year, because they brought it out when they really needed a play twice.|
|1||10||O29||Run||-1||Burgess(+1) drives the pulling guard backwards and Harris(+1) actually tracks down Calhoun before he can get ot the corner. Harris is legit.|
|2||11||O28||Pass||7||Screen, called at the exact right time as we blitz and the screen is right where the blitzers were. Burgess does well to recover and hold the play to 7.|
|3||4||O35||Pass||Inc||Stocco throws it high. Mason(+1) again in good coverage.|
|Drive Notes: 7 min 3rd Q, 13-6. A huge Breaston return is wiped out by a Charles Stewart block in the back.|
|1||10||O26||Pass||Scramble, 11||Stocco rolls out and finds no one open on the boot so he takes off. Biggs gives chase but is slow.|
|1||10||O37||Run||11||The linebackers all meekly accept blocks but the big issue is Crable(-1) again, who has no idea that Wisconsin's allowed to run on first and ten and has no chance at preventing a big gain. Wisconsin sees Crable, they run at Crable.|
|1||10||O48||Run||3||I can't believe this doesn't end up gaining more yards, as Calhoun gets the corner but some Michigan dudes show up.|
|2||7||M49||Run||-4||Branch(+2) annihilates Daniels and Harris(+1) cleans up the mess.|
|3||11||O47||Pass||14||Very quick screen out to the left rolls for 13. This is entirely on Mason(-2), who is unbelievably moving towards the center of the field when the screen is released instead of slicing past the lumbering OL and up to stop the conversion.|
|1||10||M39||Run||-1||Woodley(+1) holds the point of attack and Watson(+1) leaps over a couple defenders to assist on the tackle.|
|2||11||M40||Pass||Inc||No real rush here and the backup TE has an 8 yard reception which he drops.|
|3||11||M40||Pass||11||Effing middle screen to Daniels. And this time we rush three and still don't stop it.|
|1||10||M29||Run||9||Both Burgess(-1) and Engelmon(-1) whiff on tackles.|
|1||10||M18||Run||11||We have eight in the box against this and lose contain again. Harris(-1) can't keep Calhoun from getting the corner and Engelmon(-1) moves up a bit and gets blocked by the WR. I think he needs to be moving outside here with eight in the box and both middle backers moving up into the inside holes. Crable(-1) comes in way low on Bernstein and just collapses to the ground... he's supposed to be the OLB on that side.|
|1||G||M7||Pass||Inc||Harris(+1) times his blitz really well and hurries Stocco, who throws it away.|
|2||G||M7||Run||-2||Strung out nicely by like everyone.|
|3||G||M9||Pass||Inc||Biggs(+2) gets instant pass rush and forces the throwaway.|
|Drive Notes: FG. 13 min 4th Q, 13-9. Crable's established why he's a backup. Why they keep playing him I'm not entirely sure. Some first chinks in the Engelmon armor.|
|1||10||M12||Run||6||They had this jammed up again... lost contain! This is on Graham(-1).|
|2||4||M6||Run||6||Goddammit! Crable(-2) did it again! He just plunges in towards the nearest blocker like a useless git.Can anyone who knows more than me tell me whether this is actually a run defense strategy?|
|Drive Notes: TD. 11 min 4th Q. 13-16. You see what I do for you?|
|1||10||M36||Penalty||-10||Holding drawn by Branch(+1) I believe.|
|1||20||M46||Pass||Int||Mason(+3) miiight have interfered here, but he jumps the cut, reads the route, and makes a huge interception.|
|Drive Notes: 10 min 4th Q, 13-16. Mason playing out his mind except for the badly misread screen. Ditto Branch. I completely fail to understand the strategies of the OLBs here, who seem to be giving up contain by design as the middle linebackers slide into the middle of the opposing line.|
|1||10||O46||Run||6||Big hole as Watson(-2) gets turned way inside by the center, leaving a gaping gash between him and Branch which Harris can do nothing about.|
|2||4||M48||Run||12||Harris(-1) has GOT to get out to the outside faster when he sees the bounce.|
|1||10||M36||Run||6||They drop Woodley into a zone. We're just getting crushed.|
|2||4||M30||Run||-1||Raiola tries to catch Watson offsides but doesn't and Stocco fumbles the snap.|
|3||5||M31||Penalty||-10||Illegal block on the back when Mason comes up to combat the screen (now he gets it). Carr takes the penalty.|
|3||15||M41||Pass||4||Stocco dumps off underneath the zone.|
|Drive Note: 5 min 4th Q, 20-16. Even though they down the punt at the 3 it's a dumb decision anyway.|
|1||10||O48||Run||2||Strung out well. Woodley(+1) is unblocked at the line for some reason and holds up against the FB unlike Crable.|
|2||8||50||Run||6||Harris(-1) has to read this play earlier and fill the hole. By the time he reacts the pulling guard is already on him and all he can do is wave a hand at Calhoun.|
|3||2||M44||Run||3||I don't know how he makes this. He gets turned inside and it looks like he's dead meat but he squirts up for the first anyway.|
|1||10||M41||Pa ss||9||Play action and there's no pass rush whatsoever. Stocco finds the hole in the zone.|
|2||1||M32||Run||0||Engelmon comes up to the line and isn't blocked, he makes the tackle.|
|3||1||M32||Run||8||Despite Biggs doing a great job on the corner there's no one there on the edge to stop the outside run.|
|1||10||M24||Pass||9||Calhoun takes the dumpoff and scoots upfield.|
|1||G||M5||Pass||Inc||Batted at the line by Watson(+1)|
|1||G||M5||Pass||Inc||Hall(+1) knocks it away.|
|Drive Notes: Argh.|
General opinions on the performance?
We are this close to having a really good defense. The line did a great, great job in this game, getting constant pressure on Stocco and jamming up the interior of the line very well. Mason played out of his mind and the secondary actually looks above average. However, the persistent inability of the linebackers to keep outside containment on running plays has burned us in every game when we weren't playing a glorified high school team. Almost all the rushing yards the defense has given up this year stem directly from one of two situations:
- Michigan is spread in an obvious zone against a three-wide formation. There are only six men in the box.
- A running back feints into an interior hole or just plain heads outside and there is no one to stop him.
Shawn Crable was the worst offender on Saturday, but David Harris, Brandent Engelmon, and Chris Graham were all culpable at some point or another. Graham did almost nothing all day, though it appears that Wisconsin ran to the strong side almost exclusively.
Other than that glaring problem which Calhoun was extremely well suited to exploiting, they did very well.
What about designated Internets whipping boy Pat Massey?
Still mostly neutral. Batted one pass down and got a -1 for a goal line run play that gained six (Wisconsin still went three and out). That was partially because Watson played a lot more. That was partially because Wisconsin was bouncing outside with regularity and rarely tested us with runs up the middle. And that was partially Massey just doing a decent job. He held up. Leave him alone, whydontcha?
Pick a linebacker other than Harris, who at least balanced out his bad plays with good ones. Burgess and Crable were both highly culpable for the defense's late collapse, and Graham was mostly invisible.
Jesus, Alan Branch was a monster, blowing up run plays, getting held twice, and getting a superior pass rush with regularity. He could be our best defensive player right now. And that's despite the fact that Woodley turned in another very good game and is one of the best defensive linemen in recent Michigan history.
Also singled out for special commendation is Grant Mason, who had one bad play on a third down screen but was otherwise great. Mason's interception kept Michigan from going down two scores in the fourth quarter and allowed Michigan to forge into the lead. He was constantly harrassing the Badger passing game and outplayed Leon Hall.
David Harris is tenously here as well, as he made a great number of good plays, but part of me believes that he's at least partially responsible for the containment issues, though I can't be entirely sure.
Roll that beautiful bean table.
|Woodley||7||-||7||A drive-killing sack and a very good job against the run.|
|Woods||-||-||-||Didn't even play I think.|
|Biggs||2||2||0||Did all right but is clearly just servicable.|
|Watson||3||3||0||Might be harsh because of all the bounceouts... rarely went up the middle for a reason, probably.|
|Crable||-||4||-4||Just a total disaster late in the game against the run. Why was he playing at all?|
|Branch||12||-||12||Sweet fancy Moses!|
|Harris||4||3||1||Reading and reacting in the short zone.|
|Mason||7||2||5||Great in coverage all day.|
|Engelmon||3||2||1||Did okay but part of the contain issues..|
|Adams||-||-||-||Didn't see him play.|
|Harrison||2||-||2||Pressing Barringer, I think.|
OMG DREW STANTON.
Well, yeah. The good news is that I think Michigan actually has three solid cornerbacks in Hall, Mason, and Trent and the safeties have at least been competent in pass coverage so far this year. If Branch can even do half of what he did against UW it will help a lot and Michigan's been preparing for the spread all year. He will get his yards and he will put points on the board--he's really that damn good--but I think the major danger for the Michigan defense is freshman running back Javon Ringer, who had almost 200 yards on 13 carries against Illinois. Ringer is a lot like Calhoun, a juky scatback with slashing ability and the speed to get to the corner. If he hadn't blown out his knee last year he would have been a huge recruit and I've been really impressed with him so far this year. Unless we can slow him down or JLS gets loopy and decides that The Pedestrian Jason Teague is the answer for UM, we are going to have to split our attention between Ringer and Stanton and the prospect is too horrible to contemplate.
Don't get your hopes up.
Update: Commenters point out that the deflection at the end of the game was Watson's, not Massey's.
Also: I totally forgot the strategic blunder. Soy muy estupido. Here:
So how about that strategic blunder?
Michigan allowed the worst possible thing to happen to them on Wisconsin's final drive: a touchdown with vanishingly little time on the clock. When the Badgers got the ball back Michigan should gone nuts with aggressive man to man and blitzing to prevent the 8-10 yard plays that Wisconsin got with frequency. They were aggressive up front with eight man fronts but the coverage they played behind it was soft and the corners and safeties were playing far off. When it became clear that Wisconsin was A) going to have more than enough time to do whatev er they want and B) not going to punt, Michigan should have taken its timeouts and told Wisconsin that if they were going to score, they were going to score quickly. First and ten from the 24 was the tipping point, if not sooner. Passively watching Wisconsin drive down the field and getting the ball back with 29 seconds left is a recipe for defeat, and defeat is not Good Eats.