|Central Michigan||H||2||+1||I have a LeFevour and the only prescription is the most obvious reference available.|
|Notre Dame||A||7||-1||The combination of Quinn's struggles under pressure and Michigan's Florida State impression vs. VU make the game seem more manageable.|
|Wisconsin||H||4||--||I don't fear fat Wisconsin tailbacks.|
|Minnesota||A||3||+1||Neither fat Minnesota tailbacks, though fat is better than nonexistent|
|Michigan State||H||5||-2||Took Vandals to several national championships in NCAA 2005. Just FYI.|
|Penn State||A||7||-1||How many yards rushing was that? Against who again? Zippy the Pinhead?|
|Northwestern||H||3||--||Ugly game against Miami.|
Okay, what with all the jumpin' and the jivin' and the hippin' and the hoppin' over the past couple days there has been a massive backlog of things I want to link to. Quickly, then.
If you hate the new clock rules, and everyone except Bruce Ciskie does, head over to conveniently-named We Hate The New Clock Rules and sign yourself a petition. Will it do any good? Eh, probably not. Can't hurt, though.
MaxwellPundit Week 1 results are out. Am I really one of but two people voting for Calvin Johnson? Say what?
Michigan-Vandy Blogo-roundup: I got killed by commenters for linking to this guy before, but I do like his photoshop work:
Anyone who ceased checking RBUAS during its summer doldrums hiatus, be advised Johnny is back and kicking with a really frightening post featuring quotes about a mysterious man:
After seeing how successful Michigan was playing with such abandon, it makes you wonder why fans haven't seen that sort of aggression in the past.
"That's how I was raised to play defense," (____) said. "Playing hard, playing together and playing aggressively. That was Michigan defense."
Law professors are Internet nuts, too. Paul Campos has an entertaining column in the Rocky Mountain News on his conversion from civilian to one of those Internet people. I won't spoil the punchline by excerpting.
Etc.: It's mostly an Oilers blog, but Mudcrutch's Red Wings preview allows me the opportunity to link to him and tell you that if you read hockey blogs you must read his; The Georgia Sports Blog has a hilarious report on UGA's new "family friendly" zones, which are about as populated as the demilitarized zone; Lloyd Carr is Iron Coach Boring.
Brian Seymour is a CMU alum and one of the minds behind the madness at the Sports Frog. We trapped him in a room and grilled him until he cracked; the results are below. Many Bothan spies died for this information.
So Central Michigan's competitive now. That must be weird, huh?
Yeah, the jury's still out of course (a 6-5 season and seven-point loss to a middle-tier ACC team at home does not a mid-major juggernaut make) but things are finally looking up. As a Central fan, the most positive sign is that there is now talent on both sides of the ball.
In some cases, somewhat young and raw talent and certainly not necessarily Big Ten caliber , but mixed with the right offensive and defensive system and some solid coaching, the kind of players who could get you to the cusp of the Top 25, knocking off a mid-level BCS conference opponent every now and then and in the mix for a bowl bid. Basically, all you can realistically aspire to as a fan of a MAC school.
Could you describe the Brian Kelly offense for us?
It resembles in many ways the "classic" spread offense that Michigan fans see several times a year against Michigan State, Purdue and Northwestern, but it is much, much more uptempo and frenetic (a term I've seen you use a few times, but which is apt). It would be uncommon to see less than 10 or even 15 seconds on the play clock by the time the ball is snapped on offense. The idea with the speed of the offense is to catch defenses off-guard on occasion and wear down opponents for later in the game.
Speaking of things Michigan fans see a lot of, CMU will run a lot of wide receiver screens and quick outs to its receivers, of course a staple of the spread offense. The running game was more or less forgotten until the fourth quarter of the Boston College game for some reason, but when running the ball, CMU will run a lot of draw and misdirection type plays. Seeing the QB line up under center and/or give a straight handoff is generally only used in short yardage and should be relatively easy to read defensively.
Every now and then you will also see some kind of crazy formation or bizarre play call that you likely haven't seen before. Kelly is not averse to pushing the limits of what constitutes a legal formation.
How would you describe the offensive line? Is it experienced? Good? Likely to be overrun by Woodley and company?
The offensive line is very solid and is somewhat atypical of offensive lines in spread offenses in that they can be physical at times if the situation calls for it (this is probably the last remaining legacy of the Mike DeBord Era at Central).
Still, it works because even the bruisers on the line, namely Joe Staley and Drew Mormino, are so athletic. Staley didn't give up a sack last year and will likely be an early-to-mid round draft pick in the NFL next year and Mormino is in his fourth year as a starter. Four of the five linemen return from last year.
All that said, they're not much of a match for the front seven of Michigan, though they will probably offer more resistance than Vanderbilt's OL did.
Where did Dan Bazuin come from? How did he slip through the cracks to Central Michigan (no offense)?
I wish I knew. I'd leave my day job and become an assistant coach/recruiter for a big-time program. When you're a fan of a mid-major program every so often you're blessed by the jocks missing out on one of the prettiest girls in the school to use a forced and fairly disturbing analogy. I don't even think Bazuin was injured in high school, which allows better-than-average prospects to make their way to the MAC from time to time.
As far as I know, it's part coaching and part luck (OK, mostly luck) that one of the best defensive players in the country ended up in Mount Pleasant.
How do you feel about the rest of your defense? How would you attack it if you were an opposing offensive coordinator?
The rest of the front seven is quite good actually. Some of that is because offenses are often so preoccupied with Bazuin and some of it is because there's more talent than your typical mid-major at those positions. There are four really solid linebackers who rotate in and out of the game, which means the defense is usually pretty fresh in the second half. It is not easy to run on Central, though I think you'll see Michigan have success doing it for the most part because of Michigan's superior athletes. As good as the front seven is, they're usually good for a couple of maddening big running plays a game and I don't expect this week to be any different.
Attacking the defense is easy -- throw, throw and throw. The further downfield the better. That was what Boston College did to good effect and I don't think Michigan will be any different. The only thing that is likely to get Michigan into any trouble moving the ball through the air would be Chad Henne completely misfiring downfield, but he should generally have enough time in the pocket where those throws will be few and far between. The defensive backfield is a source of continual frustration and it doesn't look like they're any better this year.
What's the *!ing craziest thing Kelly's ever done?
If you saw the Boston College game, you saw it. He's always been good for a couple "WTF?" moments in most games where he trots out some bizarre formation or gambles on fourth and two from midfield with a 7-point lead and 45 seconds left instead of punting. Still, that game-ending interception and going for it on fourth and eight from the Central 28 is pretty much beyond the pale, even for Kelly. It is exciting though, especially following Mike DeBord, who was about as exciting as vanilla pudding.
[I would have gone with "unflavored gelatin," myself. -ed]
Any thing else Michigan fans should know?
Based on what I've seen of Central in the last couple of years and what I saw of Vanderbilt the two or three times I've seen them the last couple of years, Central Michigan would probably beat Vanderbilt six or seven times out of 10 on a neutral field. What does that mean for Michigan fans? Eh, not much. But just like last week, don't be surprised if the Michigan offense and/or defense seems to struggle at times, even if the outcome of the game is probably never in doubt.
I don't know how useful of a warm-up Central will be for Notre Dame, but it should help Michigan considerably when it plays Michigan State and Northwestern.
Central's special teams are better than they've been in recent years, but a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown by Michigan would not surprise me. In fact, I'd probably bet on it. The coverage teams are sub-par, even if the kicking game is adequate by MAC standards.
Aaand some predictions:
Who wins, what's the score, etc?
Michigan, of course. Central would need everything (calls, bounces, Henne throwing 15 passes to Tacopants, Ron English morphing into Jim Herrmann, you name it) to break in its favor to be in a position to win. And even then might not be able to pull it out. I'll be optimistic and say Michigan wins, 38-17. That many points against what looks to be a very, very solid Michigan defense would be a not unacceptable result for Central fans.
How does Central's O do against the Michigan D?
I think Kelly is a good enough play caller and the talent decent enough that Central should be able to take advantage of Michigan's newfound aggressiveness from time to time. I don't necessary see any big scoring plays, but a typical Central touchdown drive is five or six plays for 65 yards in aro
und a minute and half. I think they might get two of those. Still, the QB (regardless of who plays) is raw and the OL will probably be quite mangled by the time the fourth quarter rolls around. I honestly just hope no one gets hurt since Central plays arguably its biggest MAC game of the season next week against Akron.
How does Central's D do against the Michigan O?
Mike Hart will rush for around 120, probably only on 16-19 carries. The Michigan rushing game will be effective, but not devastatingly so. Bazuin will make two or three plays that make you wonder if he was even being watched, much less blocked.
Henne should be able to do whatever he wants in the passing game though. The size of the beating Central takes in the final score will be directly indicative of his effectiveness. If he completes 70-75 percent of his passes, it'll probably be ugly (five touchdowns). If he struggles at times, it might only be two or three touchdowns. If he completely poops his pants for some reason that I can't imagine, Michigan might only win by 10 or so.
Does Brian Kelly bite anything's head off?
You know what -- the guy's batshit crazy calling a game, no question about it -- but he comes off as almost somnambulate in most press conferences and interviews in discussing his rationale for certain decisions. The BC game was pretty typical. Being asked at halftime more or less if he was on crack to go for it on 4th & 8 deep in his own territory, he actually sounded almost convincing that it was the right decision. I am in awe at his insanity and will defend the guy to the death. For now.
[Count MGoBlog on the Kelly bandwagon, too. -ed]
- GRIZZLY BEARS: after what happened in Neyland, bears are clearly no threat to anyone.
- FULMER CUP DOUCHEBAGS: Their 15 minutes are up. More pressing matters, er, press.
- STEVE BREASTON'S TRAITOROUS LEGS seem fine.
- STEVE BREASTON'S TRAITOROUS HANDS: Er... yeah.
- RULE 3-2-5-e: you steal football from us. I hate you.
- PASS PROTECTION: Abiamiri versus Riley? Erk.
There are now categories and a place for you to go for only-relevant (-ish) Fanhouse posts: the Michigan Fanhouse. RSS subscribers can point their readers here for what's sadly a partial feed -- such is the cost of selling out.
I will be posting in other bits of the site, but unless you're really interested in my opinions on SEC bottom feeders, Illinois, and Purdue you can probably skip it.
Notes: new additions for formation and brief here as well. New PR category for pass attempts = "pressure"; only used when Henne clearly has no time to throw. In cases where finding a receiver is plausible, TA applies when forced to scramble.
|M19||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||12||Hart||Off tackle|
|Ecker and Long cave in the left side of the line. The corner is walled off by a nice block from Tabb. Hart scoots off tackle with ease.|
|M31||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||2||Manningham||WR screen|
|First WR screen of the year. Ecker motions from his TE spot out to the right for an extra blocker. Manningham bobbles the screen; Breaston's block isn't very good and his man disrupts the timing. (CA)|
|M33||2||8||Ace 3-Wide||Run||2||Hart||Off tackle|
|Vandy blitzes a linebacker lined up over the slot receiver. He's into the backfield unblocked but Hart darts around him and turns a three yard loss into a two yard gain. Play was actually well blocked, but the delay forced by the blitzer allows Vandy's back seven to converge.|
|M35||3||6||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||6||Manningham||Short stop|
|Smooth drop and throw to Manningham, who spins and tries to move upfield but trips. Had he not fallen he probably picks up ten or twelve. (CA)|
|M41||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Off tackle|
|Same as the first snap. This is supposed to be a double on the DE where Ecker helps Long seal him inside then moves to the second level, but Long never really engages with the DE, allowing him to scoot past. A linebacker comes up hard to fill outside; Hart slices up between him, unfortunately into the hands of the DE. No DE = Hart posterizes the LB and goes for big yardage.|
|DeBord trademark starts off well. Breaston gets his man turned around, then breaks his route off. When he does the ball is right there for him. Excellent timing. (DO)|
|O37||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||11||Hart||Iso off tackle|
|Obi Oluigbo gets a nice pop on the LB in his first appearance. Hart again slices upfield, making the maximum out of the blocking.|
|Hey, that offseason rumor-mongering paid off! Looked like it would go for more â€“ maybe a bad cut.|
|O21||2||5||I-Form Twins||Run||2||Hart||Iso off tackle|
|Grumble, grumble, fullback shuffle. Line is clogged up and Hart plows for what he can get.|
|O19||3||3||Offset I, 2 TE||Run||19||Grady||Iso SMASH!|
|Very nice to see that from Grady. A decisive, run with one cut and the bounce outside that gets him to the endzone. Looks faster this year. The entire line crushes Vandy off the ball â€“ Jake Long ends up something like 10 yards downfield.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1Q. MIKE DEBORD IS WONDERFUL!!! ALL HAIL MIKE DEBORD!!! Er... nice drive. Waggle was set up by the gashing Hart off-tackle runs, the run block was generally good, and hey: 81 yards and a touchdown.|
|Hart cuts as far to the backside of the play as he can. If Manningham can get engaged with the safety or corner on that side he could go.|
|M31||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Hart||Iso off tackle|
|Seems relatively well blocked, but no real hole opens. FB shuffle again.|
|M34||2||7||I-Form Twins||Pass||-4||Breaston||WR Screen|
|Henne rifles it over Breaston's head. Shame, because this one was going to work.Breaston's man was too far away. (IN)|
|Found him open but couldn't hit him. Weird aside: a Vandy DE gets loose but forms up and seems like he's trying to keep contain instead of, you know, sacking the QB. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1Q. Two Henne errors end the drive. Can't blame DeBord on this stuff. His calls worked.|
|Hart's hesitant as LB Goff is unblocked. His posterization attempt fails, and he gives the universal "My Bad" signal to the sideline when he rises.|
|"Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw," which for some reason always seems to work decently.|
|O29||3||5||Ace 3-Wide, Hart offset||Pass||7||Henne||Scramble|
|Both Riley and Mitchell get owned by a Vandy stunt on the right side. Both players come through the line, forcing Henne to bail out and prove that yes, he is faster than John Navarre. (PR)|
|O22||1||10||Weird Thing||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Quick Flat|
|I dunno what you call a formation with one tight end standing up at the end of the line and another a yard inside of him, two yards off the LOS. So we'll go with weird thing. Henne's pass to Breaston in the flat â€“ not a checkdown, the design of the play â€“ is very bad and gets him killed. (IN)|
|O22||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Off tackle|
|Hart makes the wrong cut here by going outside of Ecker, but makes up for it by dodging Vandy tacklers and making six yards from very little.|
|The play overturned by review. This is not close and should not have been overturned. Manningham secured the ball, had both feet hit, and then it was punched out. WTF? The play and throw are both very nice. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-0, 2 min 1Q. Not exactly an elegant drive, but one that should have ended in a touchdown.|
|M45||1||10||4-wide trips||Pass||3||Breaston||Slip screen|
|Tabb misses his block. (CA)|
|M48||2||7||Ace 3-Wide||Run||25||Minor||Off tackle|
|Great blocking all around; Minor darts up between Ecker and Long. Special credit to Arrington for excellent downfield blocking.|
|Massey's lined up at fullback on this play. He run a simple wheel, and find himself open, Manningham having run off the deep zone. Nice throw by Henne, though not in a position where you can entirely blame Massey for the drop. (CA)|
|O27||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||3||Minor||Off tackle|
|Same play he just picked up 25 on. Not as well blocked this time.|
|Nails him right in the hands. Great throw. (DO).|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG, 10-0, 14 min 2Q. Again... execution errors stop the drive, though these aren't on Henne.|
|Line blows Vandy off the ball and ends up five yards downfield, though they don't crease 'em.|
|M21||2||5||Ace 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Off tackle|
|Nice block by Ecker creates space off tackle. Nice job by Bihl, too.|
|Stop and go and stop and go and stop and go go go go(!) (CA)|
|Hart pops a blitzer after a play action fake, preventing Henne from getting killed, the goes out in his route. He slips on his cut, else would have gotten eight or ten. Second slip today. (CA)|
|O43||2||8||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||7||Arrington||WR Screen|
|Arrington spins through a tackle, gaining 7. (CA)|
|O36||3||1||Offset I, 2 TE||Run||6||Grady||Iso SMASH!|
|Grady's untouched until five yards past the LOS. Outstanding, grinding blocking.|
|A lot of penetration Hart manages to avoid to the outside.|
|Henne crushed. Miscommuncation between Long and Ecker causes this: Long disengages from the DE to pick up a stunting blitzer but Ecker does not pick him up. This was going to be a shot at the endzone without the whole sack business. (PR)|
|O35||3||15||Ace 3-Wide, Hart offset||Pass||3*||Henne||Scramble|
|Totally unblocked blitzer immediately forces Henne to scramble. Hart starts barking at the OL after this play, and since he is my tiny god I believe him: his offset position made it nearly impossible to pick up the blitzer coming from the inside. Alex Mitchell busts.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 13-7, 7 min 2Q. Everything was fine until the OL went brain-dead on back-to-back plays. Third drive killed by two mistakes from a single position group. First it was QB, then WR, then OL. Still no evidence that DeBord's playcalling is in any way deficient.|
|Does not find his man downfield and takes off without a Vandy player anywhere near him. Maybe everyone was covered, but we're breaking out the (BR) here anyway.|
|O40||2||6||Offset I (?)||Run||-1||Grady||Iso|
|Brian Thomspon does not get a good pop on his man. He bounces backwards, allowing Langford to crack Grady right at the line. Probably not going anywhere anyway, but still: bleah.|
|O41||3||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||19||Breaston||Shallow cross|
|Breaston wide open after the other Wrs run their men off. Nice throw allows Breaston to catch it in stride and tear upfield. (CA)|
|Grady's fumble. We shuffle and run the other way(!) for a few unimpressive yards. Aaaand Grady was almost down but that's probably the right call.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 13-7, 2 min 2Q.|
|M27||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Shallow cross|
|Basically the same play they ran on the previous drive but this time into a zone. Breaston was going to get hammered as soon as he caught it, but the pass was a bad one. This is either (BR) or (IN). Someone else had to be a better option. Filed under BR.|
|A lot of room up until about eight yards â€“ Hart pounds out the last two on leg drive alone.|
|M37||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Bihl||False Start|
|Vandy rushes four and no fewer than three of those guys get in on Henne, forcing the awkward throw to Hart. WTF, guys? (PR)|
|M27||2||15||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Mitchell||False Start|
|Give up to end the half.|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 13-7. Anyone booing the draw call at the end of the half has to get real: second and twenty from your own 22 with 40 seconds?|
|Hart cuts back behind Jake Long, in front of ecker, gaining six. Spielman criticizes him for dancing too much and I'm all like what?|
|M33||2||4||Offset I||Run||13||Breaston||End-arou nd|
|Preceded by fake to Hart up the gut. Another benefit of the zone running game: Vandy's backside contain must remain vigilant about a potential Hart cutback, opening this up. I expect to see quite a few of these this year.|
|M46||1||10||Offset I||Run||7||Hart||Off tackle|
|Great blocks by Oluigbo and Ecker occupy the linebackers to the near side of the field. Hart has room to run, and only a hustling safety prevents a real big gain.|
|Stupid penalty by Riley, as he has the guy blocked well enough to let him go when Hart bounces outside.|
|This is either a bust or some blocking scheme I don't understand. The DE on Riley's side delays for a moment on the snap, possibly making it look like he's dropping into a zone. Riley doubles down on the DT. When the DE comes a moment later, Hart's left to block him. He ably chops him to the ground but Vandy is also blitzing a linebacker from that side. He's unblocked and forces Henne to scramble. My opinion: Riley screwed up. There was no possible threat of a blitz from the other side of the field.|
|M48||3||8||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Tabb||False Start|
|Max protect and only three guys in the pattern. Plenty of protection, but Henne can't find anyone downfield and scrambles. Tenuous (BR), since it's possible everyone was covered.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 9 min 2Q. Henne had no choice on the first scramble, but hell, if you bomb it downfield on third and long what's the worst thing that happens? It's a punt. More mental errors from Riley.|
|O41||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Off tackle|
|Long momentarily doubles the DE then gets out to the linebacker; Hart has a nice hole that the Vandy safety fills quickly. Play action over the top would be nice if Riley would block someone.|
|Safety again fills the hole very quickly, forcing a Hart cutback. He runs up the backs of his linemen for a few yards.|
|O32||3||1||Offset I 2TE||Run||4*||Hart||Off tackle|
|Another nice block from Oluigbo blows up the linebacker and making the first down easy.|
|O28||1||10||Offset I 2TE||Pass||Inc||Butler||Waggle|
|Very catchable ball is plain dropped. Tough throw on the run, being pressured. (CA)|
|O28||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||7||Hart||Off tackle|
|Excellent, driving blocks from the left side of the OL. Ecker walls of his linebacker; Hart slips past a filling safety four yards downfield for some extra yards.|
|Hart misses a big cutback lane, though to be fair the hole outside was equally tempting but for Adrian Arrington whiffing on the corner. Hart slips the corner's tackle, burrowing ahead for a couple.|
|O19||4||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||3||Grady||Iso SMASH!|
|Plows ahead. Important block by Oluigbo on a DT that didn't get chopped or pushed.|
|O16||1||10||Offset I Twins||Pass||Inc||Massey||Waggle|
|Tipoff: Massey lines up as the fullback. Formation predictability persists: we often put TE s in at fullback and these plays are almost always passes. By the time Henne turns around two Vandy players are in his face. He leaps to throw over them and the pass is too hard for Massey, only a couple yards downfield. Tenuous IN but could be classed PR.|
|Vandy blitzes right into it, forcing Manningham to take a wide angle around the charging linebacker and allowing the Commodores to close down his angle and deny the corner.|
|Touchdown. Throw is a bit high but well within Ecker's range. Excellent placement since he had to get it over the linebacker. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-7, 2 min 3Q. Hurray, points!|
|I can't decide whether Hart missed a cut to the backside or not. An unblocked linebacker cuts through the mess to get to Hart, but not before Jake Long has driven everyone four yards downfield.|
|Henne short hops a throw he should have made. Butler was open near the first down line. I don't think he set his feet... but don't take my word for it. (IN)|
|Riley screws up the protection, taking the DE and not the blitzing linebacker to the outside. Mitchell futilely attempts to cover for him, but can't. Henne is forced to take off. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 13 min 3Q. Riley is the outstanding factor in all this pressure on Henne. It might not be his fault â€“ someone else could be screwing up protection calls or Mitchell could be missing stuff â€“ but I wonder if Mitchell's move to tackle was not just because Riley was dinged.|
|No blocking. Oluigbo runs past a linebacker, who tackles Hart.|
|Hart makes the right cut this time, shooting up in a crease.|
|M36||3||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||5||Hart||Off tackle|
|Long blocks two guys, opening up the left side for Hart and an easy conversion.|
|Ecker doesn't seal his guy, who chases Hart to the sideline.|
|Simple flat route to Ecker is thrown low. If accurate, this is good for 6 or 8. (IN)|
|Riley gets owned, holds, and still lets his guy in on Henne, whos scrambles out and makes a really bad throw that could have been a pick-six for Vandy. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 6 min 4Q. Folks, we have a whipping boy.|
|They're crashing in against the run now. The three-wide stuff isn't going to be that effective now they aren't respecting the pass.|
|Missed a cut outside for more yards.|
|Thrown a bit behind Manningham; still caught. Tenuously (CA)... or maybe more so since if it was on target there was a linebacker ready to bat it down or pick it off.|
|Little room with Vandy crashing the line.|
|Long's man fires inside of him and gets penetration, disrupting the play.|
|Ees a touchdown. Superb throw from Henne. (DO).|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-7, 2 min 4Q. Ballgame.|
What did you like about the dawn of DeBord Era II?
Internet malcontents will be malcontents, but they did get a few of their wishes granted. Michigan's base formation was a three-wide set, something long desired by crabby message-boarders. The zone running game vastly reduced the prevalance of the fullback shuffle. The waggle re-emerged as a weapon.
Most important: the run game was great. We have to take it with a grain of salt -- just Vandy and all that -- but it was impossible to stop until Vandy sold out late in the fourth. The linemen were crushing their opponents off the ball.
And what didn't you like?
Well, the widespread bitching about the passing game is partially unwarranted. A few times Henne set up to go deep but was rudely interrupted by men in white jerseys. But would it kill Michigan to try a few posts and slants? Better to find out Henne can't read those coverages now than against Notre Dame.
While the play-tipping based on personnel was reduced it was not eliminated: when Michigan lines up with a "fullback" who is actually a tight end, it is a pass. Greg Mathews' presence in the game equals run. Carlos Brown is going to run an Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw. &c.
The Long-Kraus combination on the left side was dominant. Bihl also had a good day, showing excellent mobility getting to the second level. Mike Hart is Mike Hart.
Also, a word on Breaston: yes, he had a bobble on a punt and dropped a slant that could not have been more accurate. But the criticism he's received after the first game is excessive. I mean... did you watch this? Watch it again! Also, his downfield catch on the waggle required good footwork along the sideline. I'd rather he didn't drop that pass, but it was the one error in his day as a receiver. I was actually encouraged by his performance only to return to find out that the general opinion was "start Arrington!" I dunno. I don't get people sometimes.
I don't want to hammer on Rueben Riley too much, but he was the primary burr in the offense's giddyup. Alex Mitchell also "helped" in this regard. The two of them often miscommunicated on stunts or blitz pickups, allowing unblocked Commodores into the backfield and indirectly causing Internets teeth gashing about the lack of a deep passing game.
Henne was okay but missed a number of fairly easy passes.
Tyler Ecker was erratic with his blocking: sometimes great, sometimes awful.
Exciting new faces?
Brandon Minor obviously started his Michigan career with a bang. When I finally saw him in person I was flabbergasted. This was the guy recruiting gurus spent all year declaring a fullback? The guy who the coaches described as a sort of Leroy Hoard on rageohol? He looked more like a slot receiver than a fullback. And then he ran real far. Carr's spent the last week swearing up and down to anyone who will listen that Minor is going to get more carries in the coming weeks -- jeepers.
It might be odd to drop a fifth-year senior in this category, but fullback Obi Oluigbo, sparingly used to date, pounded Commodores all day. He lived up to the hyping given him by Hart and Carr and should help the short ground game that was one of Michigan's many fatal flaws a year ago.
If Carson Butler had caught anything he might go here; if we weren't witholding all positive judgement on the offensive line until ND Alex Mitchell might as well.
- DO: "dead on." Accurate, NFL-level throws that are either downfield, fit into a tight spot, or provide ample opportunities for YAC due to perfect placement.
- CA: "catchable." Run of the mill throws. Potentially slightly inaccurate. Screens and short, simple routes like outs and stops max out here.
- IN: "inaccurate." Poorly thrown balls. Some completions may end up here if they are complete as the result of an extraordinary effort by the wide receiver.
- BR: "bad read." A throw into coverage or throw-away when not under pressure... basically anything that's an obvious mental error.
- TA: "throw-away." Can't find a receiver and gets rid of it. BR's less malignant cousin.
- BA: "batted." Balls knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
- PR: "pressure." Instances where Henne is unable to complete a pass through no fault of his own, but because people are bearing down on him quicker than they have a right to.
Not particularly good, though a couple of marginal balls were placed in negative categories. Not particularly Henne's fault, though. He attempted to throw 27 times; approximately 7 of those times were either screens or three-step rhythm throws. 25% of the time when Henne attempted to throw something longer than a screen or short west coast pattern he had Vandy players in his face, usually unblocked after a stunt or a missed blitz pickup. Late in the game, he started expecting and fearing pressure, forgot his mechanics, and started short-hopping balls. It was reminiscent of last year's Notre Dame game with the exception of a grinding ground game and a kickin' D. Henne was fine at first. He was excellent on the opening drive, and at least good through much of the game. The stats don't show it because of the drops.
However, when he lost faith in his protection late he started scrambling unnecessarily, misfiring on simple passes, and generally reverting to the bad old days at the beginni ng of last season. Notre Dame has no doubt noticed this -- the first hint of it was against them, after all -- and will blitz and stunt extensively, hoping to get him rattled.
No doubt the coaches will be going nuts at the OL and TEs about the protection failures in this game, which were almost all schematic instead of physical. That's going to be the thing I look for most against Central: protection of Henne. The left side should be fine, and Bihl did a very good job his first game, but I worry extensively about Mitchell-Riley.
What does it mean for Central?
Assuming that inexplicably kickass Chippewa defensive end Dan Bazuin lines up opposite Riley, next week's game will either provide reassurance or Ebola-in-the-subway panic about the pass blocking heading into ND. Most of the problems against Vanderbilt were presumably fixable miscommunications -- there was only one instance of a Michigan lineman getting beaten one-on-one (Riley, natch) -- but, strangely, Central Michigan represents a higher level of opponent. Hold them out all day and I'll be feeling chipper for ND.
Central may also pose an interesting test for the rushing offense. Last year they were the top run defense in the MAC. They held Penn State's monster 2005 ground machine to 138 yards and crushed Northern Illinois, yielding only six yards rushing after sack yardage (though Garrett Wolfe apparently didn't play). They return the bulk of their front seven. There's a big, fat NSFMF, though: one of the reasons CMU's run defense was so good was their inept pass defense. Teams didn't bother to run because Central started Condoleeza Rice and a goat that was totally tripping, man, in the secondary. That PSU game? A 40-3 hammering in which Michael Robinson and Anthony Morelli combined to go 22 of 36 for 382 yards. CMU managed to lose that NIU game because the two Husky quarterbacks combined to go 31 of 43 for 435 yards.
We should win, but I wouldn't take the CMU defense for granted. If we can't block them when we try to pass we will be in for a longer day than anyone anticipated.