things go poorly
Youtube's been processing the video for hours... dunno WTF the issue is. So clunky links; sorry.
USC Drive 1
Washington off tackle for one; Booty reacts to a linebacker blitz by hitting TE Davis for a a good chunk. Empty on third down, a slant is nearly undercut â€“ nice play by the CB to get a hand on it, but Jarrett hauls it in anyway.
On the ensuing first down, Booty pumps left then comes back to a wide open Davis on the right side of the field for another first. Some rhythm showing in the Trojan offense; no pressure yet. Zone right for Gable picks up a few. UCLA goes five in the box on second down, blitzes from the edge and manages to shut down a draw that had a ton of room. After the play, a personal foul moves USC back 15 yards. Ensuing bomb is a Jeff Bowden Hopeful Downfield Jump Ball, and it's punty time.
DRIVE NOTES: UCLA lucks out with the personal foul, as USC was looking smooth on offense for the first time all game. Booty was kept clean and picked up a series of first downs until misfortune kept them out of the endzone. This will be repeated.
UCLA Drive 1
Cowan play action is one-hopped. (AAAARRRGH Musberger talking about Michigan in Glendale.) Markey stuffed on second down; Ellis again, this time holding at the POA, driving his man a yard or so back, and disengaging. On third down, Cowan gets pressure and flips a ridiculous left-handed shovel pass incomplete. He is not good.
DRIVE NOTES: Cowan can't throw. Punter launches one, flipping field position despite the three-and-out. This is how you beat a far superior team, with a lot of luck.
USC Drive 2
Booty stands in against an onrushing Bruin and flings up a ball that lands right in Jarrett's hands. Impressive. Jarrett puts on a Manningham-esque double move, but doesn't have that extra step that gets Manningham into the endzone. Next play is a wheel to Gable that Booty puts in between the corner and safety, but a bit high for the shortish Gable. Leaping grab attempt comes up short.
Booty checks down to Davis; throw is high and hard and incomplete. False start from RT Kyle Williams. Now third and fifteen, ace three-wide. WTF? Booty bails on the throw in the face of the blitz, checking down to a running back before he completes his drop.
UCLA Drive 2
Starts with a 24 yard punt return, again flipping field position. UCLA starts near the 50. Cowan drops back, play action, and hits Everett on a comeback for 16. Waggle to Paulsen for another first down. We run this exact play.
UCLA empty, batted at the line. More play action finds Cowan under pressure immediately, forcing a one-yard checkdown. Next play is just badass from Cowan, who steps up through two edge rushers, spins around and takes off, then finds Everett for the first. Not relevant, but sweet.
Markey for two again. UCLA's run game has been nonexistent save for Cowan scrambles. Out on second down a bit wide. ARRRRRGH MICHIGAN WATCHING ARRRRGH. UCLA goes empty, Everett should have enough room to get the first down but hesitates and ends up a yard short. Chippie FG is good, UCLA 10-9.
DRIVE NOTES: Waggle was a clone of our play. USC friend of mine has a couple contacts and said that USC thinks Michigan thinks USC's linebackers are vulnerable in coverage. Personally, I've been impressed with Sartz in straight zone drops but perhaps misdirection is the way to attack them? Fast but stupid?
USC Drive 3
UCLA blitzing into a Gable counter; by the time it develops the blitzers are in position to close it down. Minimal gain. Second down slant batted at the line. Empty on third and eight and UCLA gets some edge rush, forcing Booty to step up. He slips down, sacking himself and ending the drive.
DRIVE NOTES: Booty had that badass completion when allowed to stand in and fire downfield to Jarrett in the only place that pass could be. On the next play, the wheel to Gable, Booty was a little high but well within tolerances for a pass 30 yards downfield. But even though UCLA's rushing has been the wild upfield variety that's easily stepped around and fundamentally unsound, Booty on the move has been mostly a disaster.
He's not Troy Smith, and when USC has gone empty they never bring in more than three wide receivers. Davis, the tight end, is the fourth guy, and the fifth is a motioned running back. Plus it's clear that Booty prefers to stand and deliver, making an empty set an invitation to blitz. USC also eschews the shotgun.
UCLA Drive 3
Cowan fumbles the snap, losing 2. Waggle on second down is checked down to the short option for a few. On third down, Cowan is blitzed, scrambles around, throws a backwards pass that's dropped and recovered by Ellis, turnover.
DRIVE NOTES: Cowan still not good at football.
USC Drive 3
First and ten on UCLA's side of the field. First time in the game USC has an advantage in field position... and they jump before the snap. Bleah! Gable is chopped down on a stretch play â€“ Smith's block attempt is whiffed. Loss of four, second and nineteen. Booty permitted time again nails Davis across the middle.
On third and five, Gable takes a draw-type thing that UCLA reads and attacks â€“ safety was up like a shot. Going on fourth and short; a quick snap pitch that's overrun.
DRIVE NOTES: Third and fourth and short killing the Trojans. Can't make a yard in short yardage and have stopped even trying to get it up the middle, and this is a UCLA defense that doesn't have the destructive power of Branch and Taylor up the middle â€“ check that. On further review, UCLA finished the year 12th(!) in rushing defense, which is amazing after last year's disaster. Didn't Reggie Bush have something like 10 YPC a year ago?
Anyway, UCLA's rush defense is no pushover but it also hasn't been dominant like Michigan's (OSU game excepted, of course... but it's doubtful USC can spread the Michigan D out like OSU did). Long story short: I'd be surprised if USC moved the ball much on the ground.
UCLA Drive 3
Markey up the gut for around five. Holding penalty sets up second and long... Ellis again. Guy will be an issue. Cowan waggle against his throwing motion is thrown into the turf. Third and fifteen, and Cowan is permitted time to find Everett down the seam. Outstanding route and catch by Everett, who's been the guy when UCLA needs a critical conversion.
Markey up the middle for 12. USC linebackers don't get off their blocks.
Williams then has back to back runs for a first down at the ten. Secon is a nice cut through a small seam at the line. Williams up the middle for three... run a zone, UCLA! None of this is that relevant. Cowan scrambles out of the waggle + a tenuous late hit on Cowan gets UCLA inside the ten. On replay, a terrible call.
On first and goal, UCLA stuffed. Nice play by the other DT to flow down the line. Relevant.
On second down Cowan takes a
n inexcusable sack on another attempted rollout as no one bit on the play action. Cowan just sort of falls down instead of throwing the ball out of the endzone. Third and goal from the twelve ends with Cowan again iffy, dumping down to a tight end five yards behind the LOS. Field goal up and good, UCLA 13-9.
DRIVE NOTES: UCLA's third and fifteen conversion was followed by a series of slashing runs that got them in field goal range. Ellis will be a major issue but on plays we get him blocked Hart should find himself some room.
USC Drive 4
Booty hits Jarrett on a three step drop zag route for seven-ish. ARRRGH MICHIGAN IN BCS AARRRRGH. Gable is sniffed and stuffed, setting up the dreaded third and one. I-form with TE Davis at FB â€“ whenever we do this it's a pass â€“ and it's a pass! Booty is swamped by blitzers, panics, and slips down as he tries to throw.
UCLA Drive 4
First and ten Cowan rollout has an open receiver for 7 or 8 but his pass is wildly inaccurate. Second down run stuffed for no gain. Next play is the Cowan rollout that ends with a helmet to helmet that's uncalled. A virtual replay of the Crable hit. I hate everything.
DRIVE NOTES: Cowan still can't throw. Announcers don't even mention the helmet to helmet.
USC Drive 5
Booty sacked on a pump fake that was an attempt to go deep. Sam Baker beaten. I can see Woodley doing this. It's one of his moves.
Second and fourteen, USC empty and Booty fires it well outside the field of play... likely a throwaway. On third and fourteen USC rolls Booty out of the pocket, has an illegal formation and obviously holds a Bruin and still can't get anyone blocked. End result, with a tenuous PI call, is a redo.
On the redo Booty fires what's his second-best pass of the game. Under heavy duress, pocket collapsing, he launches a ball to Steve Smith that sets up fourth and less than one.
Dreaded short yardage is short enough for a sneak. First down. WR screen thrown behind Jarrett. Booty stands in â€“ getting protection now â€“ and hits his checkdown. Third and three. Booty hits Davis for the conversion; three step drop. Smith underneath for 6. UCLA ceding yardage here in a Herrmanesque way. Gable draw well read by Hickman and shut down for a yard. Dreaded Third And Short next. Booty drops back and lances a post to Smith for a big gainer.
Underneath to McFoy; clock running under 1:30. Booty fires high and incomplete to a bracketed McFoy. Potentially a throwaway. And the next play is the one that will live in UCLA lore forever
Relevant portion of game over.
- Booty's really good when suffered time to throw. On the move, he is not good.
- USC's tackles can probably be had. The RT has been poor all year and is a bit of a headcase, walking out of a USC practice earlier in the week. They have no alternative, apparently. Even Baker was not particularly effective against the UCLA pass rush.
- USC on short yardage? Ugly. They had lost all faith in their ability to line up and run it, and with good reason.
- Jarrett = good. Expect a series of slants that we can't do anything about.
- Getting Sedrick Ellis blocked is the key for our offense, especially in the run game. He's bad news for our zone running game.
- Efficacy of the USC pass rush. Lawrence Jackson was great until this year, when he was skunked on sacks most of the way. Cushing had one nice sack. But Cowan spent most of the game on the run, so there weren't many opportunities to see how the Trojans did against conventional pass drops.
- USC's secondary. Cowan threw even less frequently than he dropped back, instead taking off. They do appear to play a ton of zone. But how good are they at it and how effective will Terrell Thomas be? He plans on playing but if he can't tackle he'll be a liability.
- Efficacy of Michigan run game. With speedy linebackers and the penetrating Ellis, this looks like a bad matchup for us.
Arrgh. Fanhouse stuff plus LA time == I couldn't quite finish the second half of UCLA before I got roped into liveblogging the Alamo. Should get it up by halftime.
Features four team: USC, UCLA, Ohio State.... and Michigan. Must... not... choke... everyone.
UCLA Drive 1
UCLA opens empty and immediately proves that's not a great idea, as a three man rush from #96 easily beats their LT inside. Markey for two on second down. Cowan overthrows an open TE seam. UCLA will return to the seam later.
DRIVE NOTES: Three-and-out to start for the Bruins. If I remember correctly, Cowan proves he can't pass worth a damn in this game.
USC Drive 1
Booty nailed by an unblocked, blitzing linebacker on first down; his dumpoff is well short of the TE. Gable goes zone outside for a nice pickup on second down, but a downfield holding call brings it back. False start; second and 19. Badly busted coverage allows Booty a first down conversion by dumping down to Fred Davis; Booty was harried.
Gable draw for seven, and the same play goes for ten. USC to the UCLA 40. First down is Gable again, this time shut down by the free safety after a minimal gain. LB stood up the FB â€“ is that still like the fifth string guy? -- to delay Gable a bit. WR screen sets up third and one.
And here's a key play. On third and one, USC goes play action and the world crashes in on Booty as both defensive ends run right around the tackles, forcing Booty up into a charging linebacker. End result is a panicked throwaway.
Look at the defensive ends shooting upfield on a third and one like it's third and fifteen. It worked out this time, but UCLA's defensive ends were a one-trick pony all game: run as fast as you can upfield and get Booty moving no matter what the situation is.
On fourth down USC gets stoned.
This seems to be mostly the ponderous Chauncey Washington's fault. Good job by the UCLA LB to stand up the FB, forcing Washington outside, where he impotently churns nowhere.
DRIVE NOTES: UCLA spent most of the game speed-rushing around USC tackles. Unfortunately, I don't know if we'll be able to replicate that.
- Our DEs are not edge-rushing speed mavens aside from maybe Jamison.
- By the end of the game, USC had figured it out and started walling off UCLA. The final drive was a methodical thing that seemed to be an inevitable touchdown until the fateful deflection. UCLA's pressure had dissapated.
- Lord knows that USC's spent the last month working on edge rush.
So... this was probably a one-time thing.
Reassuring item: Booty reacts about as well to pressure as Henne. That is, he gets a solid C-. This third down is the second time on this drive he's turfed a ball.
UCLA Drive 2
Cowan throws a short post into coverage; Sartz deflects it. Sartz has impressed me in the USC games I've seen. Guy is fast and active in coverage. On second and ten Markey is stuffed on second down; on third down a Cowan bullet in the seam (open for the second time) is called back by holding. USC's nose tackle, Sedrick Ellis, goes right around the center.
Other than Ellis's slick move, note the gaping hole between the linebackers, who got no depth, and the safeties. Cowan was actually late on this one.
On third and nineteen, UCLA gives up.
DRIVE NOTES: Nice play from the NT here. He looks undersized and penetrating, which is not a good combination from Michigan's perspective.
USC Drive 2
Booty, play action, tons of time, wide open Steve Smith. Doubled Jarrett drew the zone coverage. USC false start. Screen blown up by an alert defensive end; second down zone run picks up four. Third and long sees the defensive ends warp around the tackles again. Booty steps up into a nice pocket and wings it nowhere near his intended receiver.
Another instance of Booty's iffy ability to handle pressure.
DRIVE NOTES: "Doesn't respond well to pressure" is usually nothing analysis on a level with "THEY DON'T HAVE ANY HEART!!!!" but Booty looks more prone to rattling than, say, Troy Smith.
UCLA Drive 3
Starts way deep in USC territory; UCLA picks up a big gainer with a waggle dumpoff to Markey that catches USC blitzing hard. Zone blitz filled the wrong (short) side of the field.
USC in a 3-4, stones a UCLA zone play as the NT gets good push again.
We are likely to see this alignment frequently.
No gain. Next play is Cowan's first scramble, which isn't that relevant for us. Cowan then rolls out and fires way too hard and high for his TE underneath the zone. No YAC, two yards.
Next play is a delay that goes for good yardage.
One of the few times in the game UCLA is able to get a running back out to the linebackers smoothly, and the linebackers don't react very well. Two get blocked off, the other gets spun through by Markey, an eminently average back.
Huge Cowan scramble gets UCLA down to the ten; he takes the run option on a waggle down to the five. Endzone PI on next play, and UCLA manages to punch it in from the two on a Cowan rolout that he cuts up.
DRIVE NOTES: Mostly Cowan running and not relevant for our game. Note one good completion on a waggle completion and a delay that looks a lot like ours.
USC's linebackers are fast and impressive in coverage, but might they be a little undersized to take on our rushing game? Dunno.
USC Drive 3
Opening quick pitch is cut off by a corner blitz and blown up. Rock versus scissors. USC goes wide on second and long and Booty nails a slant for a big gainer.
Next play is a near-disastrous waggle. Booty rolls out and find himself pincered by two Des. This time his dumpoff is accurate and the TE picks up a few, then fumbles spectacularly. Jarrett recovers the popup. Gable goes offtackle for four, setting up another third and short for USC. UCLA stones it again.
DRIVE NOTES: Carrol, chagrined, actually punts. This is the third time in the game USC has failed in a short yardage situation, twice getting stoned on runs.
UCLA Drive 4
Starts at the one, and ends in the endzone with a holding penalty. Safety.
He won't stay blocked; hopefully UCLA's center is poo.
DRIVE NOTES: Cedrick Ellis again owns the center on the holding penalty. Penetrating, gappy player, and a major danger for our running game.
USC Drive 4
Ball at the 34 after the free kick, Booty drops back and is immediately under seige from the ends and a late-charging blitzer. He manages to scramble out for seven. Next play is a WR screen that's dropped; since it's backwards USC loses three yards. False start. Third and 11; Booty is again forced to step up into the pocket by an edge-rushing defensive end. He dumps the ball off and concedes a punt.
Where Troy Smith tends to look for ridiculous huge plays when things break down, Booty has eyes only for the checkdown.
DRIVE NOTES: Michigan's going to see a lot of familiar formations when they play USC. The Trojans' default set is good old Ace 3-wide.
UCLA Drive 5
End around snuffed out by a good play by #28, skipping past the WR's block. Cowan waggles on second down, finding a wideout open in the zone. Markey shut down by Cushing, who shredded a TE block in a way unfortunately reminiscent of Tyler Ecker.
Also of note: USC has moved Cushing to defensive end but will occasionally deploy him in a stand-up look that's indistinguishable from the old 5-2/3-4 we ran a couple years back. I would expect to see that a butt-ton against Michigan. Ellis will probably line up directly over Bihl and try to beat him playside while the five guys on the line try to shoot gaps.
Cowan sacked on the next play by Cushing, who beat the UCLA RT badly.
Ugly visions of that happening against Michigan, though Cushing and Sartz have some nagging injuries.
Third and fifteen. Cowan flushed â€“ no one wants to block a defensive end this game â€“ steps up and throws it a way punty.
DRIVE NOTES: Fairly sure that Jake Long is better than whoever UCLA is deploying at LT, but Riley's been functional at best and is likely to give up a couple QB hurries or worse.
USC Drive 5
Ace 3-wide again. Gable for a few. He's no Reggie Bush. No terror there. Booty again checks down... no deep passes yet aside from the early waggle. Third and three. Second excellent slant to Jarrett. He's no burner but we don't have anyone who can match his size and strength.
Booty gets time on the ensuing first down; checks down anyway. This one works out as Gable outruns the pursuing linebacker. Think David Harris makes this a minimal gain, hypothetically. Play action next; Booty has better time but doesn't have time to look deep. Flushed out, he finds Smith for an eight yard gain at the sideline. Washington picks up the first down on second and short.
Play action on first down again ends with Booty surrounded by UCLA defenders; TE checkdown for a few. Draw opens up momentarily but an excellent play from the MLB holds it down.
Tellingly, USC converts the third and short with the old fake FB dive-quick pitch combo that gets Gable outside. First and goal. Booty slips on a waggle, smartly ditching the ball at a receiver's feet. Gable plows to the one on a draw. (An attempt to bleed clock and rob UCLA of a final first half possession? Worked out if so.) Gable takes a toss on third and goal, touchdown. USC 9-7.
DRIVE NOTES: First actual drive USC's put together. They do it on the backs of checkdowns, solid possession throws from Booty on slants and an out or two, and decent running, much of it finesse.
This ends the half with USC up 9-7.
Second half tomorrow.
I'm off. Approximate schedule over the next couple weeks:
Now until the 28th: sporadic Fanhouse blogging, mostly bowl previews and liveblogs.
29-30-31: Rose Bowl preview.
1-2: Maybe a brief postgame thoughts post, but maybe not. It depends on how things go.
3: Resumption of normal service.
I'm about to sign off for Christmas, but before I do two things.
1. Work It, Ron English. Scout article on Michael Williams:
I'd say Michigan has just a slight lead over Notre Dame," the four-star defensive back said. "It's really neck-and-neck. I would say there's a 51% chance I'll choose Michigan and a 49% chance I'll choose Notre Dame. Both have great programs. I really haven't made up my mind yet. I'll definitely decide after Christmas. It's a very difficult decision.
"I guess I feel like I fit in a little better at Michigan, with the campus and the school," he said. "They seem to really try to help their student-athletes. They have a twelve million dollar student-athlete place. I just really liked it. Their facilities are top-notch."
Williams plans to announce at the Army All-American bowl January 6th. He also claimed something interesting: Michigan is recruiting him for "nickel-back". WOOOOOO ROXORS GO BLOW LOL MEATCHIC--
...sorry. Subcomandante Wayne tends to show up whenever you mention Stupid Canadian Rock Band.
Anyway: the implication that we're recruiting kids specifically so they can play a nickel... guy... spot jives with what we saw during the year, when Brandon Harrison and Ryan Mundy occupied the nickel-guy spot instead of someone like Sears.
2. The Matrix. I haven't mentioned Sam McGuffie here, but if you read Deadspin or the Fanhouse you've seen him go all Neo on kids:
So I grab some videos and slap 'em up on the Fanhouse, because, dude. Seriously. A comment shows up like so:
Ok, here's the deal. I was on the same team with him this past year when he rushed for his 3,121 yards and 43 TD's.
Im a Michigan fan so of corse Im trying to get him to wear the maize and blue, and sometime in November I think it was Michigan offerd him a full ride.
Later on in the season when I walked in to watch film of our previous game, our head coach saw my shirt (the day of the Indiana game) and we were talking about Michigan, and Sam looked at me and kept stating he's going to Michigan. Over time, he's repeated the same statements to me. And just last week he got my attention to let me know he's visiting Michigan in February.
(Comment sic.) Intriguing! But probably internets FUD. I follow up with the guy. I get a name and number that check out. I think it's legit, and I think in February we're likely to get a commit from McGuffie.
Harbaugh Harbaugh Harbaugh. Right, so he's the coach of Stanford. I had assumed this would be widely regarded as a good move given the pool of masochists and bedwetters willing to consider the Stanford job, but NSFMF!
It's not if you ask Jon Wilner , who's yet more proof that the people we have voting in the polls should be disenfranchised. Check the exclamatory bon mot:
So you might be asking yourself: Why is Harbaugh qualified to coach Stanford?
Well, I'll tell you: Last month, San Diego lost to UC-Davis â€” Harbaugh is perfectly qualified for his new job!!!!
That's a zinger, there. Zing!!!! The rest of it putters along as you might expect; it makes me mad because it's really dumb. I almost fisked it, but there's been too much fisk in these here parts lately. For a much better version of the same skepticism check Tightwad Hill.
That's a double suckit on the rocks. Remember Notre Dame defensive end Ronald Talley's bizarre midseason decision to transfer away from a sure starting spot? Well, Talley has decided on a school and they wear this:
That's I-AA Delaware for anyone still stuck in double-take mode.
Woo statistics. The advent of the offseason causes some of the twitchier amongst us to pore over tables of minutiae like total dorks, something you would never see on this blog.
IBFC broke down the careers of offensive coordinators Malone, Parish, and DeBord in astounding detail. Vijay breaks up Michigan opponents by winning percentage, then presents average scores for those teams:
An interesting pattern emerges: Malone blows the doors off of bad teams, as does Stan Parrish, but as soon as you get away from the dregs of the schedule (say, teams in the 0-20% categories) Terry Malone's PPGs show a clear declining pattern (scoring less and less as the competition gets better), Stan Parrish's PPG show a generally declining but pockmarked pattern and Mike DeBord's don't waiver much at all. DeBord's offenses are scoring almost the same against the best teams on the schedule as they are against the good, the mediocre and the slightly bad.
Is this infuriating or not? I can't tell. Vijay doesn't offer up sample sizes here, but I would venture that if you're breaking down teams into 10% buckets and only have 3-5 years of data for each coordinator, some of the buckets are going to have two or three games and not represent all that much. More useful are scoring averages charted against average opponent score and averages based on leading/trailing in the fourth quarter, both of which offer a stark and probably statistically meaningful difference between DeBord and his personal Benjamin Harrisons. The conclusion:
To me, it seems that the most obvious answer would be that all the rhetoric is true with DeBord, that there is a "scoring offense" and a "non-scoring offense", that DeBord puts a greater emphasis on putting points on the board when he thinks they are needed than when he thinks they are for style. Playing Vanderbilt or Indiana, they aren't necessary. Up 14 on Wisconsin, Penn State or Iowa and you've got a great defense, they aren't necessary. In Columbus against Ohio State, you better grab the reins and go full speed.
The question remains: can DeBord adapt to defenses that aren't 1997 or 2006's? DeBord's been around for a lot of wins; not coincidentally he's also been around the two greatest defenses at Michigan since Bo retired. So his strategy has been sound, but what happens if next year's D is kind of bleah? Does DeBord open it up early and try to establish an unassailable lead? Or is the Orange Bowl all over again (granted that was not a DeBord production, but it does stand out as the platonic ideal of boneheaded Michigan stubbornness in recent years)?
Let's hope we never have to find out.
Meanwhile, SMQB is breaking down statistical relevance like whoah. My favorite part: other than the odd phenomenon of few penalty yards being slightly negative indicator of victory (hypothesis: penalties are more likely when you're on offense, so teams who finish way low in penalty yardage do so because they don't get many offensive snaps), the least relevant stat tracked by the NCAA? Time of possession. Which I hate.
Etc.: Rosenberg corrects Amaker. Mallet throws things. Florida wants to be just like Michigan. Former Michigan coach Steve Fisher doing fairly well at San Diego State. Braylon interview. Subcomandante Wayne is coming for your hookers. "Michigan Football Memories" Dec 31 @ 8.