A key point in the stadium renovation kerfuffle is this: is the addition of luxury boxes financially sound and is there a reasonable alternative that allows the university to finance long-overdue structural improvements to the stadium? The argument in this space has been a little unfulfilling -- basically "I trust Martin and every other AD who has added luxury boxes" -- but without the financial acumen to parse out the details of the competing proposals that's all I'm left with.
This has been a huge failing on the part of the MSM when discussing the renovations: no newspaper has actually sat down with a neutral business-talking professional and hashed out the details of the competing (<-- might want to scare quote that) plans. Instead they just quote Pollack and various university administrators and provide no useful information whatsoever.
What follows is a discussion that took place on The Victors, a Michigan message board. The format of the board is such that posts die after a couple days and links within hours, so no links are provided; you'll have to trust that I didn't go insane and have this argument by myself and decide to post it as a discussion amongst other people.
Anyway, after a couple days of extensive conversations about the renovations, a poster named "rekker" came forward with a look inside the finances of the project. Rekker, like myself, is clearly pro-boxes, so keep that in mind. He is also clearly well acquainted with some inside baseball of the athletic department and has seen reports that have not been released publicly (or, if they have, have not been well-publicized):
I read the various threads on Big House renovations earlier. This is an attempt to clear up some misunderstandings about renovation costs and various financing options. These are informed, but not official Athletic Department, numbers.
1. The situation:
The Big House is an historic structure that many people love. But it is also far below modern standards in almost every area. This includes:
- Concourse areas at about 50% of recommended area per patron
- Flow into and out of the stadium at less than half the recommended rate (10-15 minutes to enter just prior to game time)
- Far too few concession areas. Temporary nature of these limits food quality as well
- Far too few restrooms and conditions that are medieval
- Until recently, a crumbling concrete foundation
- Aging and inefficient systems (power, water, HVAC, etc.)
- A press box that is (literally) a safety hazard. It is in danger of falling down.
All these things need to be addressed. Because so little was done to the stadium for so many decades, the fixes are incredibly expensive. Addressing all of these things (with the exception of the press box) will improve the game day experience for EVERYONE who attends a game.
2. Cost Breakdown:
It is somewhat difficult to separate the various categories of costs, because many costs serve multiple purposes. A key point of dispute is how to allocate common costs. For example, rebuilding the press box alone requires quite a bit of structural work (somewhere in the range of $30 million). Adding luxury boxes to the press box structure (west side only) increases the cost only incrementally (around another $20mm).
Since much of the renovation will benefit everyone, I believe it is reasonable to:
(a) Start with the things that absolutely need to be done and cost those out. These are (concrete replacement, replace benches, redo utilities). The cost of these "must do" items is around $45 million (+/- 10%); then
(b) Add items that benefit everyone and cost these out. These include improving concourses, adding second level concourses, and rebuilding concessions ($30-35mm), widening aisles and improving bathrooms ($15-20mm), and rebuilding the press box ($30mm)
-- total for categories (a) and (b) is $120mm to $130mm
(c) then add the discretionary items (club seats, boxes, club level, etc.). These total around another $100 million.
3. Translating this into annual costs. We have two potential projects to consider:
"Basic" project -- (a) and (b) alone, with a project cost of around $125mm. If we assume a capital cost of 4.5%, and repayment over 25 years, annual payments on this "basic" project would be just about $8.4 million.
"Luxury" project, with a total project cost of around $225million. If we make the same assumptions about cost of capital and repayment, annual payments on the "luxury" project are $15.1million.
4. Options for paying.
So, how should the AD pay for the projects? There are three basic options.
4.a We could charge all existing ticket holders a per game surcharge until the project is paid off. Quite a few schools have done this.
Assume 7 home games per year and 107,000 purchased tickets per game. The PER GAME ticket surcharge would have to be $11.22 per ticket per game for the next 20 years. If we chose to exclude student tickets, the surcharge on everyone else would go up.
4.b We could add more seats to the stadium. Pollack often suggests this, but the math doesn't work out.
Assume 10,000 more seats (ignoring for the moment that this would suppress demand and cut the waiting list dramatically). For the 10,000 new seats to pay for the "basic" renovation, the seats would have to sell for $120 per seat per game ($8.4mm / 7 games / 10,000 seats). Put another way, assume these seats averages $50 per ticket, they would only generate about $3.5 million annually, or approximately 40% of the cost of the basic renovation.
So, this option does not come close to paying for the basic renovations.
4.c Let the 4100 people who would like a premium experience pay for the whole thing. The basic math is as follows:
3200 club seats. Average required donation is 2500, plus the $350 ticket cost. Add in some parking and concessions and call it $3000 per seat per season (this is very conservative and does not assume any extra donations). This leads to $9.6 million in incremental revenue.
83 boxes at an average license fee of $70,000 per season. This leads to another $5.8 million in incremental revenue.
So, the "luxury seating" costs around $6.7 million per year, but generates around $15.4 million in incremental revenues. The cost of the total project is around $15.1mm, so the revenues generated by the luxury seats pay for all of the improvements!!!
=== === ===
The bottom line is that the "luxury seating" pays for the entire project, even though it accounts for only around 40% of the project costs. The only way Pollack and the "Save the Big House" crowd show it doesn't work is to assume that the entire $226million cost is only for luxury boxes. They then add things like interest to the cost--which anyone who has taken even basic finance will tell you makes no sense because it is double counting.
Note that this analysis also assumes that every box and club seat holder contributes only the minimum amount. Because locations are determined by donations, many people will contribute much more than the minimum, thereby ensuring that the people in the premium seats pay for everything.
Pollack his buddies refuse to acknowledge a couple things.
1. That major renovations are badly needed and that the majority of the costs of this project will benefit everyone at the Big House.
2. That their alternative financing options don't come close to paying for badly needed renovations. Martin's plan puts the entire cost on 4000 people who are happy to bear it. Pollack's approach hoses everyone and doesn't cover the cost, he just doesn't like to admit it out loud.
3. That the Big House has never been egalitarian. Regents sit in a Regents box. Until the PSL was implemented, tickets between the 20s w
ere allocated on a "who you know" basis. I know people in the AD, so I was able to acquire 45 yard-line seats a few years agoâ€”no payment, no waiting list. This is the antithesis of egalitarian. Pollack likes this mythical kind of egalitarianism because he is connected. But it shuts out everyone who is not. Scarce resources have to get allocated somehow. Given that the AD needs money to compete, allocating seats via donations is much more "fair" than doing it through the old boys network.
4. Demand for both the boxes and club seats is strong. The AD just sent out a brochure to Big Ballers (annual 5k contibutions) about two weeks ago. They already have deposits on 35 boxes and around 1,000 club seats. 90% of Victors Club members have not even been contacted year and inventory is already running short.
5. Finally, the fact that opponents are whining about "process" just shows that they have lost on the merits.
The stadium renovation came before the Regents four times. Pollack spoke to the regents once. He asked for and was given a spot to speak at a second meeting, but he didn't show up. He is whining about being denied a chance to make his point FOR THE THIRD TIME!!! Does anyone think that if Pollack would have been allowed to address the Regents one more time, he would have changed any votes? Obviously not.
Everyone who knows about other schools experiences with luxury seating, and about the finances of the project believes that this is a slam dunk. 99% of the objections are either of the type "I don't understand and you can't proceed until I do" or complaining about process.
None of that matters now. Martin and the AD are bringing the Big House into the 21st century and creating a financial model that will allow U-M to compete for decades.
An initial complaint:
Ignoring the rest of the post for a minute, do you really think that point 5 is valid?
If I come thump you on the head and take your wallet, you might well complain both about the outcome (I now have your money) as well as the process by which I got it. Just because you complain (or as you say "whine") about the process doesn't "show" that you are "wrong on the merits".
Come on, if you are going to try to be levelheaded and analytical here, resist the urge to chuck in stuff like that.
I don't agree. Pollack and most opponents major talking point over the past few months has been that he couldn't get on the schedule for the final Regential approval.
I am not trying to say that the process was perfect. It wasn't. But then no process is. It was not, however, snuck through. The renovation came before the regents 4 times--with public comment. Martin and the AD discussed it in numerous interviews and held a series of public info sessions, also with long and long-winded public comment.
The people who make the decisions are fully aware of what the objections are. They allowed opponents to make their case and then made their decision. That is very different than suppressing comment. Pollack (and I assume your) position was heard loud and clear. You just lost the argument. Your voice wasn't supressed.
If the opponents best argument is about whether the agenda for the 4th hearing was announced 48 or 72 hours in advance, that tells me the rest of their argument is pretty weak.
From a strict logic point of view (like your wallet example) opponents could have both a process and a substantive point. But since 99% of the objections are now about trivial process points, I think the best interpretation is that they really don't have a substantive point.
A rebuttal from an off-board person who's pro-Pollack:
This is from a friend of mine who is very pro-Pollack and the other Save the Big House folks. I thought your take was great. What's your response to his?
I guess i just didn't realize michigan stadium was such a sh!thole. no wonder most people only make it to one game a year. i'm trying to figure out how we can sucker 110000 people to put up with such squalor for 2-4 hours every saturday, i guess we can just chalk it up to billmo's brilliance...
this is one guy's opinion, he can make up numbers and "facts" and twist them anyway he wants. the big house plan is another guy's opinion, they can call each other all the names they want but it doesn't change the actual facts. below are the high level points of the big house plan, but most importantly for me it doesn't destroy the stadium visually or alter its character...and it increases capacity by 10000. Also, keep in mind all this bullsheeet about how they'd HAVE to raise ticket prices to pay for the project without Martin Boxes is a load of crap. The PSL's bring in an additional $12 mil/year, 99.99% of that is pure profit baby. The department has $40 mil in cash stashed away. The true cost of all of the renovations minus the Martin Boxes is more like $50 - $60 mil (this is directly from an Ann Arbor News graphic of the different proposals based on info provided by the Athletic Department). Do the math on how long it would take to pay off with no ticket surcharge.
The Big House Plan:
1. Was developed by a national, all-volunteer team of Michigan architects
2. Adds 10,000 bleacher seats instead of private luxury boxes, bringing capacity to 117,001
3. Achieves all consensus goals outlined by U-M officials for the stadium, including a new press box with modern facilities for U-M officials and the media, wider seats and aisles, ADA-compliant seating, and more restrooms and concessions
4. Costs $93.1 million (including debt service)
5. Pays for itself without a ticket surcharge and generates net revenue from day one
6. Protects Michigan Stadium's quos status as the biggest in the country
First of all, my numbers are solid (based on documents from the AD and from Barton Malow, the construction company).
Second, there are a couple of logical errors in your friend's response. The PSL money and the cash on hand already exist. You can't start new spending and say "it pays for itself" because your plan involves raiding the cookie jar.
The "basic" plan described below comes in around $125 million, or $8.4 million per year. The "Save the Big House Plan" people used to say they could do things for $60million, then $90million. But it was pointed out that they leave a lot out (utilities, second level concourses, etc.). My impression was that they had stopped talking about the financials of their plan because they are so farcical.
As to the raiding the cookie jar fallacy, consider the following. Let's say you have saved $100,000 for retirement, but you wife wants to buy a Mercedes for $105,000 and wants to spend the retirement money. She indicates that she thinks she can make $10 a week ($500 a year) with the new car by delivering meals on wheels. If she came to you and said "the new car pays for itself over 10 years" ($10/week * 10 years = $5200) would you agree? If so, I hope you never plan to retire.
That is what the STBH plan consists of. Grab a bunch of resources already commited to other things and claim that this grab "pays for" their plan.
Doing the financials the way I did (project incremental costs, project incremental revenues, match them up and discount) is the right way to do this. The STBH financial plan is three card monty.
These guys have a goal and are simply backing into "plans" that support the goal, whether these plans make sense or not. They then try to shift the burden to the Athletic Department to prove their farcical plans are wrong.
That's not how these things work. U-M has a system. The athletic department is responsible for its own finances. It works with the U-M CFO to work out details and make plans. They then present these to the President and
th Regents for approval.
All of this has happened, with input along the way from the public. Just because some joker like John Pollack makes up some numbers and demands equal billing with the officials authorized to make these decisions does not mean that everything must come to a halt until he is satisfied (which we all know he never will be).
Another anti-box complainant:
...it will take 25 years or so to pay this off, so on an economic basis, it won't generate any new revenues for the athletic department until about 2035.
What it will do is change and update the stadium and, as you say, use the well-heeled folks to pay for it all.
However, your financial scenario predicts a revenue income stream of only a few hundred thousand more than the required debt servicing on the project.
It also assumes that all 83 luxury boxes will be rented each season for the entire payback period and that the preferred seating also will be purchased during that time.
To quote Aesop, you are counting your chickens before they've hatched.
In my experience, that's a pretty large and likley very wrong assumption and I would bet a large sum of money that every box will not be leased each season over a quarter century as competition for entertainment dollars grows, the Michigan economy fluctuates, and the fortunes of Michigan football ebb and flow.
In your economic scenario in only takes 5 luxury boxes to not be leased, and that puts you under the required annual revenue stream needed to be generated to service the debt.
Also, you cannot assume that the average $70,000 yearly rental fee will stay the same (I would assume that it will increase), and that as a result of increases, tenants will be gained and lost.
My guess is if you keep a lease rate of 90 percent (about 74 suites), you will be doing well.
As Winged Victory has stated, there are private donations the university is trying to generate and counting on to help offset the initial cost of the project. But once again, that makes another assumption -- that the cost is going to remain $220 million.
No doubt this is the price as best can be figured today. But U-M will be extremely lucky if that is the end cost for such a large project (I'm going to make an assumption that Bill Martin has already accounted for that) because cost overruns are almost certain to occur.
As you've probably heard, the prices of metals is skyrocketing currently because of growing demand for steel in Asia, and given the amount of steel in this project, it's going to be affected.
Also, you cannot be sure that ADA compliance and other architectural unknowns aren't going to pop up and push the cost higher. And then you have the weather, which can either lower your costs by cooperating, or increase them by not cooperating.
Overall, you've nailed the numbers pretty good, but I still think the numbers your state are too rosy a scenario given the unknowns.
However, as you say, what are the alternatives? Funding stadium upgrades by raising ticket prices to the point where you risk alienating your core base of customers seems like a bad bet. And a ticket surcharge might work, assuming it will be dropped after the improvements are paid for. But I have seen few public entities willing to do that. Once they get a taste for the extra money rolling in, they find a way to make it permanent.
1. The key point is not whether the club seats and boxes generate a few hundrew thousand more or less than the entire carrying cost of the rennovation. The key point is that they cost around $100mm and generate enough cash (to a first approximation) to pay for a $226 million project.
2. Most of this stuff has to be done anyway. using my assumptions, these "have to do to bring us up to acceptable" items cost around 8.4 million a year. The AD COULD fund that stuff out of it's overall surplus, but why do so if people like Rick Waggoner, Bill Davidson, and Steve Ross are saying "let me fund it". The incremental cost of the luxury seating is around 6.7mm per year (15.1 - 8.4). If the luxury seating generates 14.5 instead of 15.4 mm per year in revenues, U-M is still FAR FAR ahead of where it would be without the luxury seating.
3. Most assumptions in the AD projections are very conservative. For example, carrying costs will be fixed but required donations are likely to increase 3-4% annually.
Also, I have assume NO donations beyond the required minimums. These levels will clearly be exceeded--probably by 7-10 million per year.
You are right that there are potential downside risks. But these are more than offset by the deliberate ignoring of a lot potential upside risks.
If this were an investment in which they were selling equity, I would be buying lots and lots of equity. That's not to say it is riskless, but the overwhelming majority of the uncertainties are on the upside, not the downside.
A second response from an informed poster:
you hit on an important point, which is why the Athletic Department hired a firm to research the demand for the boxes, as well as prices ect. I have never read a copy of the report, but seem to recall that their recommendations were that M could build as many as 100 or so boxes and that the average cost could be much higher than it is, and that the demand was there. The athletic department intentionally chose a number of boxes (83) that was well below what it was projected they could sell them at, and an average cost that was well below the recommendations ($70,000 or so). In fact, I believe the minimum cost was raised from $45,000 to $55,000 based upon the fact that the research showed the $45,000 figure was way below market value.
And I believe that the only stadium that had trouble selling all of its luxury boxes and club seating was MSU. Even then, the reports from MSU were that, even though there luxury boxes were not all sold, the luxury boxes led to a very significant increase in private and corporate donations directly from the box owners, and more than justified the construction of the luxury boxes.
This gets to an important point, which is that Martin's projections did not include any increase in donations, income from selling the names of the luxury boxes (apparently there is some demand for this), income from selling the names of the concourses and common areas, and a very significant bump in advertising revenue from having permanent concessions areas with far more visible advertising space, as well as the second level concourses and the staircases. This income will be very significant and was not included in any of the calculations.
How much will the naming rights bring in? Rekker:
The donation for naming each tower was well into seven figures.
I don't think the AD would be happy to see the exact number out there, but it was several times more than a million.
Right, all this comes with an "OMG INTERNET" disclaimer, but I see no reason to believe any of these people are taking the gullible for the proverbial "ride". If there is an anti-box counterpoint to the numbers expressed above that's significantly more rigorous than the one Rekker demolished, send it to me and I'll post it up for people to evaluate.
I kind of doubt such a thing exists, but, hey, Notre Dame won a game against a BCS school. Miracles happen.
Video trouble? Try VLC.
Before we start, the play table below has multiple references to a "5-3-1-7 tech split." This is what is meant by that:
Note the alignment of the defensive line: Three players lined up basically over the tackle (5), guard (3), and center (1) to the side of the play a zone read will come, no one over the nominally weakside guard, one DE split extremely wide (7) on the nominal weakside. The goal here is clear: defeat the zone read by overloading the area of the line where the running back's hole is supposed to be while leaving a wide-split DE to handle the QB.
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read handoff|
|Michigan twists its DTs, giving Minnesota an opportunity to seal Taylor; Ezeh comes up and is blocked out of the play by the guard; an unblocked CGraham(-1) misses a tackle, turning two yards into five.|
|O25||2||5||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||12||Zone read handoff|
|Michigan in what Colin's described as 5-3-1-7 tech in an effort to stop the zone run; Minnesota motions the tailback to the other side of the line and flips the play, running directly at the huge gap on what was, until moments ago, the backside of the formation. Taylor(-1) is cut to the ground uselessly; BG actually does a really nice job of defeating a double and flowing down the line but as he gets to the POA he's held or stumbles or something and Bennett shoots past him. Both linebackers are crushed by blockers with excellent angles. Englemon(-1) misses a tackle, providing another three yards at the end of the play.|
|Weber throws it well over his receiver's head. I can't tell whether Harrison was going to cut this down or get cut inside of. Maybe credit Crable for reading this and backing off such that Weber had to loft it long? Sure. +1.|
|O37||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-1||Zone read handoff|
|Taylor(+1) stands up his guy, driving him a couple yards back. A blitzing CGraham(+1) tackles from behind thanks to the delay caused by Taylor.|
|O36||3||11||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Wheel|
|A twist gets Ezeh in totally unblocked, as a Harrison blitz from the same side occupies the back. Weber gets rid of it in time, finding a marginally open receiver; Warren(+1) hits him as the ball arrives. Moot point as it had already glanced off his fingertips. (Pressure +1, cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. Bill Curry's already mistaken Shawn Crable for Will Johnson mere minutes after saying "Ironically, Minnesota has a good offense and could move the ball." I've heard people misuse "irony" from sea to shining sea and never has it been so spectacular. Thank you, Bill Curry.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||9||Zone read handoff|
|Our "please gash us" formation. Crable lined up over a slot receiver, threatening blitz; three DL with Ezeh sticking his nose in as a threatened blitzer next to Taylor. He comes; the C and G double Taylor, sealing him, as Jamo runs himself upfield and out of the play. CGraham unwisely blitzes away from where the zone read play will go if they hand it off, which they do, and there is no chance Michigan stops this. Very poor scheme on this play â€“ I think the lack of wisdom here is not on the part of any of the players.|
|O29||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||4||Zone read handoff|
|Another DT twist means neither is in a position to do much at the snap. Linebackers are useless; CGraham(-1) meekly blocked out of the play, ending up on the ground; Crable(+1) sets up well and disconnects to make an important tackle as the RB passes.|
|O33||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||8||Zone read draw|
|This is not a true zone read, as the pulling tackle reveals this is going to be a QB keeper all the way. I might need to diversify my nomenclature here. Anyway, Johnson fights inside in an attempt to get to the RB, who doesn't have the ball, opening up a hole. Ezeh(-1) is very late reading this, getting plowed by the pulling tackle.|
|O41||2||2||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||3||Zone read handoff|
|5-3-1-7 tech splits; this time Minnesota does not adjust to it and runs directly at it, probably because our linebackers are slanted to the backside. Bennett manages to squeeze through a hole between Johnson and Taylor, but only just barely. No linebacker help again; Bennett is grabbed by the legs and manages to fall forward.|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||24||PA Post|
|A zone read fake into play action; well blocked by Minnesota and a post comes open over the middle. CGraham didn't actually bite on this and got into his drop; this is just a good play all around from Minnesota. (Pressure -1, cover -1)|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||14||Zone read keeper|
|Crable(-2) gives up contain.|
|Nominally, anyway, as the RB takes a step outside before coming back inside; a pulling tackle and guard head for the backside hole. (We are again in 5-3-1-7.) Subtly, Taylor(+1) makes a play, sidestepping a cut and forcing the tackle, blocking down and leaving the DE and LB to the pullers, to deal with him. Thompson makes a barely adequate tackle, allowing a couple YAC.|
|M14||2||6||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read draw|
|Same play as earlier in the drive. Crable(+2) defeats a block and tackles after a minimal gain.|
|M12||3||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||Zone read rollout|
|Play action; Weber rolls out; Jamo(+1) up in Weber's face, forcing an early throw and maybe deflecting the pass. Yes, he got it. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(29), 0-3, 6 min 1st Q. A lot of poor scheming gets Michigan players in no place to make a stop; one excellent pitch and catch from
Minnesota and a blown contain gets the Gophers in field goal range.
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Assume 5-3-1-7 splits unless otherwise noted at this point. Taylor(+2) is the NT here; they run right at the massive gap; Taylor gets his man a couple yards in the backfield and makes a tackle as the RB passes. This is the sort of thing we haven't seen from him enough.|
|Similar to a number of plays last week where Michigan linebackers flew out of zone coverage to deal with running backs on little flares; this time Ezeh moves out, opening a hole in the zone for the slant. (Cover -1)|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pen||-5||False start|
|Ezeh(+1) reads this, flying up into the passing lane; Weber throws it away. (Cover +1)|
|O47||2||15||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-3||QB Draw|
|RB motions out; empty look. Both Crable(+1) and Jamison(+1) beat their men to the inside instead of rushing up around them; Weber has no chance; BGraham also comes in to help after a DT twist.|
|O44||3||18||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Deep out|
|Blitz does not quite get there as Weber fires the ball quickly on an out in front of Warren. It's short-hopped; there was the potential for a completion here but it was a narrow window. (Pressure +1.) Minnesota called for a chop block, Michigan takes the penalty.|
|O29||3||33||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Johnson(+1) does an excellent job flowing down the line to tackle; BGraham(+1) cut off the outside.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 2 min 1st Q. Some help from Minnesota via the penalty, but a good series.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||3||Zone read handoff|
|Balanced line. Good push from Johnson(+1); Taylor gets pushed down the line a bit, slipping on the turf, but manages to grab a foot as the RB cuts back; Crable shuts him down after keeping contain.|
|First part of the play missed. Harrison(+2) jets in, fending of a blocker to chop this down in the backfield. Thompson(+1) also out there to help after a quick read.|
|O20||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||7||WR Screen|
|Fake RB screen to the topside of the screen; they got to Wheelwright at the bottom. Warren(+1) gets cut but gets up and manages to force Wheelwright out of bounds short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, EO 1st Q.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||13||Zone read counter|
|A more convincing counter that looks like your traditional zone read but for a pulling guard; Minnesota is again attacking the big gap between the 1 and 7 technique DL. We are one blocked CGraham away from giving up a big gain; CGraham(-1) is blocked and we give up a big gain.|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Seam|
|Bennett motions out; Weber pump fakes a screen to him, then goes deeper. Harrison is our designated guy to freak out on these and he does; everyone else stays with their assignments. CGraham(+1) gets a bump on the TE, knocking him off his route and making this pass look wildly inaccurate. Even without the bump it's probably still IN; as it is it's ridiculously overthrown. (Cover +1)|
|O44||2||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||Inc||WR Screen|
|Weber throws it wide.|
|O44||3||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||14 (pen)||Skinny post|
|The Warren pass interference. The replays given aren't particularly good, but this looks like excellent coverage to me. No punishment doled out.|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Balanced line. BGraham(+1) beats his guy; can't make the tackle but does slow the back in the backfield. The center never got out on CGraham, and we all know that when you don't block CGraham he can spear you. This he does.|
|M41||2||9||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||2||QB Draw|
|Excellent play by Johnson(+1) to disconnect and tackle; CGraham(+1) dodges a block and knocks the ball loose from a falling Weber. Michigan recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 3-10, 9 min 2nd Q.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||Inc||Zone read PA|
|Adams at the LOS as if he is going to blitz, but he bails at the snap as Michigan drops into zone. This may confuse Weber, who tosses it into coverage. Initial bite by Ezeh(+1) but he recovers well, getting in the passing lane and deflecting the ball. (Cover +1)|
|Same play as the first counter. TE and guard pull around in an effort to attack the backside. Crable(+1) crashes in, removing any crease at the intended POA; cutback. Johnson(+1) avoids a cut block and tackles.|
|O33||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Out|
|Taylor(+1) defeats his man and crushes Weber as he throws; ball is low as a result and into tight coverage from Warren(+1). The ball is dropped; Decker wants a flag. No sale. No, check that. On replay Warren comes around from the bottom to knock it away. Great play. (Cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 6-10, 5 min 2nd Q. Warren is officially good, kids.|
|We basically miss this play talking to Rece Davis. But Jamison(+1) knocks the ball down. (Pressure +1)|
|Crable flies upfield on an edge rush but gets pushed past the quarterback; Weber steps up. Jamison(+1) makes an edge rush of his own, then pushes the OT away and collapses down on Weber, hitting him as he throws and forcing an incompletion. (Pressure +1)|
|Harrison blitzes, so does Graham. The tackle on that side has blocked down on the DE, leaving just one running back to attempt to take on both blitzers. CGraham(-1) manages to get pushed by the RB and allows Weber to escape; he keeps his eyes down and attempts to run; Jamison and Ezeh(+1) put an end to that. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 2 min 1st Q.|
|O21||1||10||???||Nickel?||Run||20||Zone read something|
|We miss the beginning portion of this play looking at Tim Brewster; as we come back Will Johnson(-1) has been pancaked and both linebackers (Ezeh -1, CGraham -1) are running right up the middle, getting blocked by one guy. Boom: secondary instantly and a twenty-yard run.|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Balanced line. Johnson(+1) stands up his guy, driving him back a bit and disconnecting as Bennett passes; Ezeh(+1) had gotten to the guard quickly enough to also help close the hole.|
|O41||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||-4||Zone read PA|
|Weber gets the ball knocked out by his own running back; he falls on it for a loss.|
|O37||3||14||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Post|
|Weber's pass is sailed, perhaps fortunately as both these Gopher receivers are in the same area and well covered (cover +1). The pass sailed because Will Johnson(+1) drove the guard into Weber as he threw. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 11 min 3rd Q.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||5||Speed option|
|A tough spot for the defense with no DB within eight yards of the LOS at the snap to the side the option is run. Jamison, unblocked forces a pitch; Adams attacks and gets outside, forcing the ballcarrier in; Johnson pursues and tackle. +1 Johnson.|
|O25||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||8||QB Draw|
|Actually a lead draw as the QB fakes a zone read handoff, then follows the running back into the hole; a guard also pulls. CGraham(-1) is met by this tiny running back and pancaked â€“ ugly, this should never happen â€“ and for a moment it looks like a big gainer until BGraham(+1) spins free of a double team and tackles. Still a good gain; could have been considerably worse.|
|O33||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Balanced line. I believe Johnson(+1) gets a push into the backfield here; Taylor(+1) also shoves forward. No crease; Bennett forced to cut back and leap over a prone Jamison. CGraham, unblocked, tackles him in the air.|
|O35||2||8||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||10||WR Screen|
|Nominally a 3-3-5 with Crable standing up outside the tackle. CGraham(-1) again shoved to the ground by a blocker as he overruns his spot; Warren got to the outside â€“ I think this is what Carr means by "leverage on the football" -- but the Graham failure just means there's a huge gap for him. Englemon chops him down after ten. Curry doesn't like his tackle; I agree.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||-5||Fumbled snap|
|And John Sullivan pays us a visit.|
|O40||2||15||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||2||QB Draw|
|Taylor(+2) pushes into the backfield, making a diving grasp at Weber's ankles that brings him down. Without that, a big gain.|
|A delayed blitz from Harrison doesn't get there; neither does anyone else. (Pressure -1). The post comes open ( cover -1); Weber underthrows it.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-10, 5 min 3rd Q. A dispiriting drive that stops because of Minnesota mistakes and one good play from Taylor.|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||7||WR Screen|
|Warren(+1) reads this well, shooting past a blocker; so does Johnson. Unfortunately, Johnson(-1) overruns it, allowing the WR to pick up decent yardage despite Michigan being all over this at the snap.|
|O39||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Balanced line. Excellent job by Johnson(+1) to get penetration and force Bennett outside the tackles, where Adams fills at the LOS.|
|Not even a playfake? Okay. Great coverage on three short routes here (Cover +2); Weber has no place to go. BG(+1) drives his guy back, then sacks. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-10, 1 min 3rd Q. I feel way better about this drive than the last one.|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||9||Angle|
|Balanced line; the RB runs a little flat route, then cuts it inside; I used to run this all the time in NCAA. Ezeh(-1) overruns it, not even getting close enough to miss a tackle, and three yards turn into ten. (Cover -1)|
|O36||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||4||Zone read handoff|
|Balanced line. Johnson is blown back by a double team, and though he manages to split them and help tackle he's been driven a couple yards downfield and Minnesota picks up the first down. Taylor did a good job disconnecting and diving, grabbing Bennett's feet as he passes. I do agree that Taylor's played well; Bill Curry and I see eye to eye. Cats and dogs living together.|
|CGraham(+1) times a blitz perfectly, shooting up the middle unblocked and hammering Weber as he attempts to throw. (Pressure +1)|
|Ezeh(-1) fails to read this, getting blocked out of the play by a wide receiver. Warren keeps him inside; Taylor tracks him d
own from behind.
|O47||3||3||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||11||Speed option|
|Harrison(-1) is late on this one, as is Ezeh(-1); Michigan loses contain.|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||-2||WR screen(?)|
|Not sure WTF Weber is thinking; a corner blitz from Harrison gets in unblocked (pressure +1) but instead of taking what looks like an open out from the area where Harrison vacated the zone he comes back to Wheelwright, who's run what looks like a screen route without any blockers. The throw is made, but Warren(+1) has come up hard and tackles with help from Crable for a loss.|
|All day for Weber (pressure -2); Webber throws to Decker; Englemon(+1) reads it, breaks on it, and probably should have picked it off. (Cover +1)|
|Oh, you've screwed up something when you leave Crable to be blocked by a freshman tailback. Crable(+1) goes right around him and sacks. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10 min 4th Q.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||8||QB Draw|
|Bennett motions out; empty look. The linebackers shift over in preparation for a screen, which Minnesota fakes; Weber takes off. Crable(-1) has been pancaked after attempting to dive inside. With the linebackers headed over to the screen fake, acres of space. Slocum and Sagesse in at DT. Rest of the first team D in.|
|O28||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||QB Draw|
|The draw they've run a couple times where a PA zone read fake turns into a lead blocker for the QB. Thompson in; does a good job with the TB; CGraham fills unblocked.|
|Warren tackles immediately after a brief gain.|
|O35||2||5||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||7||Zone read counter|
|Well... Crable gives up contain here after fighting inside to fill the hole; once Bennett bounces out he does a good job of getting back outside the tackle but his tackle attempt is stepped through and Bennett picks up seven yards. This is a tough play for him to make, all alone out there as CGraham had gotten suckered on the counter action... no minus.|
|Oh... okay, I get it. Remember the WR screen(?) on the last drive? I think the idea here is to get the CB to bite up on it, then hit the RB on a wheel route. Warren does indeed bite, opening up a spot for the wheel; Weber overthrows it. Decent recovery from Warren made this a more difficult throw. Still (-1, cover -1).|
|O42||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||TE Out|
|For some reason they decide not to block Crable at all; Weber hurried. (Pressure +1) The TE runs a little out route; Adams(+1) hits immediately. (Cover +1)|
|O46||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||9||WR Screen|
|They play off the wheel route earlier and go to an actual WR screen; this time Warren(-1) is hesitant, fearing the wheel, and Wheelwright has plenty of room. (Cover -1). Mouton has entered the game.|
|Harrison in unblocked on a blitz. (Pressure +1) A quick throw is jumped by Adams(+1), who breaks it up and nearly intercepts it. (Cover +1)|
|Harrison(+2) reads and shoots into the backfield, making a huge TFL just as the ball arrives.|
|O48||3||17||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||12||Stop|
|Harrison again unblocked, forcing a quick dumpoff to Wheelwright for what should be five yards. Thompson misses a tackle, and then about four Michigan players whiff, turning this into a makeable fourth down. (Pressure +1, cover -1)|
|Pass completed, but short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 4 min 4th Q. Chartin' over.|
So why can't we defend the zone run?
Let's take a look at the second play of the game. You may remember this picture from such locations as "the top of this post":
Balls. As you can see, Taylor's been chopped to the ground, the frontside guard has no one to even think about blocking on the first level, and Jamison is in no position to get inside the tackle. The hole gapes like Tim Brewster's... mouth after a meaningless pass on the last play of the game.
So we have a first facet of our issues against the run: sometimes our scheme gets exploited. We broke out our 3-3-5 with massive gaps between the DEs and DTs once in this game; Minnesota promptly ran for nine yards with little any Michigan player could do about it. This same formation was responsible for a lot of the ugliness against the Northwestern run game. It makes no the sense.
It's times like these that I wish I could see into the heads of the coaches, who obviously know way more about football than I do: is there some way in which this defense can stand up to interior runs? Is someone not executing their job? Do they just assume that teams will pass in these situations? When Michigan has gotten opponents into must-pass situations the rampant pressure they've applied certainly justifies the use of the 3-3-5, but whenever it comes out on a plausible rushing down Michigan gets gashed. Isn't it time to shelve it?
Aspect two: the linebackers are not so good. Chris Graham did some good things in this game, but the standout memory of him in this game was one of those QB draws that came coupled with the tailback as a lead blocker. This Bennett guy is like 180 pounds or something -- tiny -- and when he met Graham in the hole he splattered him like a bug. Result: another big gainer. It has been rare indeed for any Michigan linebacker to stand up to a block and tackle.
Aspect three: The defensive tackles are not really absorbing blockers. The 5-3-1-7 wasn't so good, but when Michigan lines up in a flat front, they still get gashed because too often the DTs can't control the gaps between the guard and tackle. Often they get momentarily doubled sealed, then the guard leaps out on a linebacker.
Aspect four: Shawn Crable sometimes gives up contain on quarterbacks as the first three aspects often make his backside pursuit necessary.
That, I think, covers it. It should be noted that Michigan is now 36th in rushing defense, which is not terrible. However, a ton of sacks -- 15th nationwide -- help cover up Michigan's average-at-best run defense.
|Johnson||9||2||7||Best day of his career, probably.|
|Taylor||8||1||7||A couple diving tackles that really helped out the befuddled linebackers.|
|Crable||7||3||4||Well, he's active.|
|Thompson||1||1||0||Had another couple near-minuses.|
|Ezeh||4||5||-1||Still a work in progress.|
|C. Graham||4||7||-3||Sometimes his inablity to stand up to blocks is truly amazing.|
|Trent||-||-||0||A remarkable complete game shutout for Trent -- wonder if this has ever happened before. Since he's a corner, this counts as an excellent performance.|
|Harrison||4||1||3||Blew one option; killed two drives with monster TFLs on screens/option plays.|
|Warren||5||2||3||Minnesota attempted to pick on him all day and mostly came up empty. Already a standout, IMO, and poised to have a huge career.|
|"Pressure"||15||4||11||Heavily Minnesota assisted, as several times their line calls completely missed corner blitzes and, once, Shawn frickin' Crable. Still: good.|
|"Coverage"||11||7||4||Another fine day for the secondary.|
More of the same: good play from the DL, an effective secondary, and linebackers that just didn't do much. Michigan's leading tacklers are Englemon, a safety, and Crable, a defensive lineman. Total safety tackles: 127. Total linebacker tackles: 118. That is not a good ratio. For comparison, last year it was linebackers 215, safeties 101.
Sometimes I feel like I'm being too harsh on the linebackers because of an expectation bias: I expect them to be bad, so I interpret their play as bad. The tackle numbers reassure me. They're the main issue with the defense at this point, IMO. Everything else appears solid.
Taylor had a very strong day, as did Johnson. Harrison and Warren were the best members of a strong secondary.
Well, yeah, the linebackers.
What does it mean for Michigan State?
It'll be interesting to see how Michigan adapts to a traditional offense, which they've seen all of once this year (Penn State) if you make the reasonable assertion that whatever the hell Weis is running, it's not "traditional" or for that matter "an offense". They did well against Penn State and the parallels between the two are vast: erratic quarterback, power-run philosophy, unquenchable thirst for brains.
Maybe not that last one.
Where Michigan State has the advantage on Penn State is they have a pair of good runners who complement each other -- Javon Ringer is an All-Big Ten level performer, IMO -- and a #1 wide receiver. Devin Thomas is legit and will be the stiffest test for Trent or Warren (or, more likely, whoever happens to line up on his side) since Oregon left town with our womenfolk trussed to their wagon.
IMO, this could go either way and slowing the MSU rushing attack would be an accomplishment of moderate valor that bodes well for the final two games of
It's been a while. Sorry.
Update 10/30: Linked to articles on PA CB Jared Holley, PA KR/WR Cameron Saddler, CA S Vaughn Telemaque, PA WR Vaughn Carraway, PA DE Shayne Hale, TX S Keanon Cooper. video of NC S Spencer Adams. Removed AZ RB Ray Polk (committed somewhere), CO LB Jon Major(CU), MN WR Michael Floyd(ND), PA DT Chris Henderson(not recruiting). Added CA DT Jurrell Casey.
Editorial Opinion: No one who went off the board was really considered much of a possibility except maybe Major, and Michigan already has three linebackers committed in this class. At this point they're looking for a wideout or two (if one happens to be a dynamic kick returner like Cameron Saddler), maybe another offensive lineman, a defensive end or two, and guys in the secondary.
The news is mostly good this, uh, week. The one addition to the board is Jurrell Casey, a teammate of safety recruit Vaughn Telemaque and freshman cornerback Donovan Warren; header of a recent GBW article:
Michigan has been one of the schools showing an increased interest and the versatile lineman hopes to trip to Ann Arbor with good friend Vaughn Telemaque in the very near future. Three schools were identified as the standouts on his list. Did the Wolverines make the cut?
Given he's visiting... uh, yeah. Michigan shut down defensive tackle recruiting as soon as Mike Martin said yes and still hasn't extended an offer to Casey.
Telemaque, meanwhile, has asserted a Michigan lead:
Telemaque, ranked as the No. 16 safety in the country by Scout.com, still favors Michigan slightly over USC and North Carolina and those three lead solidly over Oregon, Ole Miss, Rutgers and Boise State. All of his favorites have offered.
Although it isn't official yet, Telemaque says he'd like to visit Michigan for the Ohio State game on Nov. 17. "I figured Michigan would come back," he said regarding the Wolverines two losses to start he season. "They had a few tough games early, but they are always a national championship contender and are now playing like one. They have a great team and I think they'll be able to beat a lot of teams this year. They'll finish the year with a bang. I'm really looking forward to the Ohio State game."
Not surprising after previous articles from Casey in which he said Telemaque was pushing him to Michigan; hopefully English can reel this guy in.
Meanwhile, TX S Keanon Cooper now says Michigan leads:
Although Cooper remains very open, he says he now favors Michigan slightly over Minnesota, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. All of his favorites have offered.
"Michigan started out slow, but have been on a roll since then," he said. "They are a winning program and have great tradition. They lost two games and didn't let that discourage them. Oregon is a legitimate team so losing to them isn't really that bad. I think they've got a good chance to still win the Big Ten."
Odd timing for that, since a couple weeks ago he canceled a scheduled official visit because of a lack of contact from the Michigan coaches and went to Kansas State instead. He still hasn't made it to campus.
Both PA KR/WR Cameron Saddler and PA DE Shayne Hale have announced somewhat surprising leaders: Virginia for Saddler and West Virginia for Hale; both leads are "slight". Michigan will get a chance to host both:
Hale will also be visiting Michigan on Nov. 17. "I'm really excited to see a game there," he said. "I've heard it's a crazy night and that the city basically shuts down when they play. The stadium holds like over 100,000 people so that's got to be insane. I can't wait."
(Uh... not sure how accurate that portrayal of Ann Arbor is, but whatever.) I believe Saddler will be joining him. Saddler continues to tear up his high school league; at this point I badly want a guy who can be Steve Breaston, no offense to Greg Mathews and Brandon Minor.
Full board can be found here and is always linked on the sidebar under "MGoBricks."
Video trouble? Try VLC.
|M32||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||3||Brown||Zone left|
|Seven in the box, so, like, okay. But Minnesota is lying in wait for this, shifted to the strongside. As a result, Boren doesn't have an angle for his second level block and there's a linebacker ready to meet Brown a few yards downfield. Fairly well blocked save for the Boren thing, which wasn't really his fault.|
|The TE-pull makes its first appearance since it showed up once against Penn State. Except instead of a tight end the pulling guy is a wide receiver. Seems like this would be a dead giveaway, no? It doesn't matter, though, as Minnesota bites like whoah. Mallett holds onto the ball â€“ there's no one in his face this time as the backside DE had crashed down on the run play â€“ until he finds Arrington open for a significant gain. Like the ability to take the deeper route here. (CA+, 3)|
|O46||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||-1||Brown||Zone left|
|Boren(-2) doesn't bother to block the strongside DE. Bleah. Think this was supposed to be a counter thing as the FB headed to the backsie; no matter.|
|O47||2||11||I-Form Twins||Pass||Inc||Hemingway||WR Screen|
|Mallett horribly underthrows a screen. I think this is a fumble; it's called incomplete. Fortunate. (IN, 0)|
|DE speed rush almost gets past Long but does not; Schilling, however, is beaten. Mallett steps up past the pressure but can't find anyone and is eventually collapsed upon. (TA, 0, protection 1/2, Schilling -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt,0-0, 11 min 1st Q. Stewart(-1) lets a Zoltan punt bounce at the five and into the endzone.|
|Mallett checks into a pass with Minnesota showing eight in the box and everyone fairly close to the LOS. He can't find anyone, checking down to Moundros. Throw is late and behind him; a linebacker, drawn up by the delay, hits him as the ball gets there. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|M33||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Minor||Zone right|
|Pretty crappy block from Mathews as Minor goes for the edge; Minor does very well to stiffarm a corner and get outside the safety and up the sideline for a few. Minnesota all over the frontside of the play, in a 5-3-1-7 split of their own; counter counter counter dammit.|
|No idea what Minnesota is thinking on the coverage, as they pull up a safety in sort of a robber zone but he's nowhere near anyone. A simple slant is wide open to the outside. This is a completion so I can't be too hard but I think the placement of this ball is too far in front of Arrington and if he was being tightly covered, or someone had jumped the route, is a potential interception. Results based charting service says: (CA-, 2, protection 1/1)|
|50||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||8||Brown||Zone left|
|Long(+1) and Butler(+1) seal the corner, giving Brown an opportunity to use the jets. If Schilling can get a block on the WLB this could go the distance; he doesn't. Tough assignment, but worth noting. Brown doesn't switch arms, fumbling the ball as the WLB gets there; turnover.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-3, 5 min 1st Q.|
|Pass interference called; looked weak live and still looks weak to me. Ball is way too far inside â€“ Manningham has a ton of room to the sideline â€“ and could have been intercepted if this corner wasn't ten. (IN, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|O46||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||0||Minor||Zone left|
|Kraus and Ciulla attempt to execute one of these zone blocks we've seen of late wherein the first blocker blows the guy back and the second blocker picks him up as the other peels downfield. These need a name: they are now handoff blocks. This one is executed poorly, as Kraus(-1) never gets into him and Ciulla can't get there; the result is the DT tackling at the LOS.|
|Linebackers take steps back and get themselves in trouble; three second-level blockers get out to their man and momentarily this looks like a brewing big play; Ciulla(-1) loses his guy, who forces Minor outside, robbing a couple second level guys of their angles and limiting this to a small gain.|
|Minnesota sends the house; Mallett reads it and finds an open Manningham. The ball's knocked down; IMO just bad luck and a good play from the Gopher DL. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 1 min 1st Q.|
|50||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-4||--||Free touchdown|
|Hey, that sucked ass. One clarification from earlier: this was intended to be a run play, not a pass.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-10, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|M21||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||3||Minor||Zone left|
|Michigan seals the edge, as Butler, with some help from Long, blows the DE off the ball and gets out on a linebacker. If he wants it Minor can get the corner; he inexplicably cuts it up. He does get a good push after making contact, but this was a missed read.|
|Minnesota blitzes, opening this up. Good throw and catch; little YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|We get this, but another example of why I hate the stretch on third ands hort. Minnesota loads up the frontside with two linebackers and has eight in the box with one deep safety; Butler takes a hit from a charging LB, eventually stalemating him and driving him back a bit; his one-armed tackle attempt is warded off by Minor at the LOS. The backside pursuers fall, and Minor has a lane.|
|Lead draw fake with Minnesota showing eight in the box. Arrington has one-on-one coverage, running a comeback route that's ends up pretty well covered. Not sure if this was a poor route or poor timing. In any case, the window here is small and Mallett hits it. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2) Curry says this is a horrible read. I don't think it's so bad.|
|M42||2||3||Ace 3-wide||Run||5||Minor||Zone right|
|Excellent push from the right side of the line but four players end up sprawled on the ground in a mess. Minor hops over them, getting popped by Steve Davis after picking up the first. Clay Matvick is always wrong about the yardage. I hate him.|
|M47||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||22||Arrington||Stop and go|
|Mallett pumps; the corner bites on a stop route. Mallett then lofts it into the space vacated. The ball is a little long â€“ Arrington lays out, making a gorgeous grab â€“ but catchable enough. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|We're watching replays as this snaps. Looks like Ciulla can't maintain his block.|
|Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw is a week late. Next time be infinity weeks late. Minnesota's MLB shoots up between OL as if this play is sort of... predictable.|
|Batted down. Bleah! (BA, 0, protection 0/1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 3-10, 10 min 2nd Q. Lopata called a senior; he does have another year.|
|M37||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||5||Brown||Zone left|
|Again attacking the edge; a combo block from Long and Butler drives the DE back as Criswell takes on the corner. There's a gap between the two. Butler eventually loses the Long-provided momentum and allows his guy to come free to tackle with the help of a linebacker.|
|M42||2||5||Ace 4-wide||Pen||-5||Boren||False start|
|Butler spread wide; Mallett tosses a short out that's well covered. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Mallett with all day, eventually firing it long to Manningham in virtually the same spot on the field Arrington was. Like that pass, this is a little long and outside, but Manningham makes a fantastic juggling catch. (CA, 1, protection 3/3)|
|O15||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||8||Minor||Zone left|
|Going after the edge. Helmuth in as a second tight end. Butler can't really seal his guy (Long does a great job to make him the only relevant player) but does stalemate him. Minor meets him two yards downfield; he, Butler, and Helmuth combine to make a train that plows its way inside the ten. Powerful running.|
|O7||2||2||I-Form Twins||Run||-2||Minor||Zone left|
|Ciulla's asked to make a near-impossible block as Boren ignores the NT lined up directly in front of him. Ciulla can do little but chase him to Minor. Minor manages to get past him, but the play's messed up. Stretch on short yardage.|
|Overthrown. (IN, 0, protection 2/2) Curry says he's just throwing it away, but there's a window here since Arrington can jump out of the stadium; Mallett misses it entirely.|
|Drive Notes: FG(26), 6-10, 6 min 2nd Q.|
|Arrington runs a stop route; a Minnesota player plows him. Mallett has to take off. After initially trying to get something downfield, he settles for a decent run. (TA, protection 2/2)|
|Eight in the box for Minnesota. We have an inverted TE set with Webb [erroneously IDed as Butler earlier. -ed] in a two-point stance on the line next to Moundros in the backfield; we run a draw off this. Webb(+1) gets an outstanding block on the linebacker attempting to contain; two guys come up inside; Moundros does a good job with one. This time Minor makes the right read, shooting outside into acres of space for a big gain. Long also excellent here.|
|O45||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||12||Minor||Zone right|
|Shuffle right, run right, away from the TE. This time we get an actual zone block from Ciulla and Boren, who drive the DT back; Ciulla(+1) peels out on to a linebacker as Helmuth hits the hole. Long has made the tough stretch block on the backside DT, the one Ciulla could not make on the last drive. This allows Boren to head downfield and flatten a linebacker. With a crease and no chasers, Minor hits the secondary again. (Replay)|
|Miscommunication between Long and Boren; both head out to the second level, allowing the frontside DE in unmolested. Think this is on Boren because, well, obviously, right? Brown runs past the DE; he makes a shoestring tackle.|
|Minnesota stacks the line and sends them all, six in total. Arrington gets a step on the seam and has the opportunity to make a catch with only a safety to juke for the endzone; Mallett overthrows it. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Excellent coverage from Minnesota: a bump and no separation; Manningham forced to the sideline. Mallett loads up and threads it in there; Manningham makes a good catch as the corner fails to locate the ball. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O5||1||G||Ace Twins||Pen||-5||Ciulla||False start|
|Ciulla(-1); he's yanked for McAvoy.|
|A horrible decision; an equally horrible throw bails him out or Mallett throws an interception here. What's worse is he had a simple dumpoff to Mathews on the "TE" pull with no one within ten yards of him. Maybe a touchdown; definitely five yards. (BR, 0)|
|O10||2||G||Ace 3-wide||Pass||6||Manningham||WR Screen|
|Mathews in the backfield; he motions out to two guys at the top of the formation; I mutter "screen"; Michigan screens. Excellent blocks from Arrington and Mathews; I wish Manningham had attacked this a little harder and picked up another yard or three. (CA, 3)|
|O4||3||G||Ace 3-wide||Pass||2 (pen)||Manningham||Slant|
|Manningham abused; flag. (CA, N/A, protection 1/1)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||Run||2||Minor||Zone left|
|Can I use a touchdown as a further example of why I hate stretches on short yardage? The Minnesota MLB shoots into the backfield, nearly tripping Minor at the five. Minor manages to run past him, then cut up into a massive hole as Boren(+1) blocks a mofo into the wall.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 13-10, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|We motion the TE to the side oppose our FB offset, then run to the offset. Ciulla and Kraus combine on a crushing zone block that drives the Minnesota DT five yards downfield; there's a gaping hole up the middle as a result. Good job by Boren to seal the backside DT, and good downfield block by Long. Helmuth uselessly runs up the back of the zone block, allowing the MLB to tackle unblocked, but only after six yards; Minor carries him for three more.|
|Kraus has a tough time with the DT, getting no push and no seal; escorting him down the line to Minor. They meet at the LOS; Minor pushes forward for the first down. Think Minor misses a cutback opportunity here, as Schilling cut the backside DT to the ground.|
|Schilling(-2) lets this guy in, sure, and this is another instance where he's been shaky in pass pro. But Mallett has to help the guy out and step up in the pocket instead of running right into the DL and fumbling. (PR, 0, 0/2, Schilling -2)|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 13-10, EOH.|
|M31||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Minor||Zone left|
|A late-blitzing safety makes this a seven-man front with another cornerback coming up to cut off the outside. Kraus again does an adequate but not great job on the DT. No penetration but no push and no seal. There is still a small gap between the DT and DE that Mallett flows up into. The Gopher safety does a good job of picking through traffic to pop Minor after he squeezes through the hole; more Gophers converge, including the aforementioned DT.|
|Same story with Kraus and the DT except a charging Moundros does a great job of chipping him as he plunges through the hole, knocking him backwards and to the ground. Moundros then continues on, helping Minor get a cutback lane by shoving a linebacker on the second level. Minor into the secondary. A Dudley-level play from Moundros here. Also, kudos to Schilling for getting a late cut on a backside DT.|
|Minnesota brings an eighth guy in the box and blitzes a linebacker right into the G-C gap on the frontside where the last two plays have gone. He gets through and tackles for loss. On Debord.|
|M40||2||13||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||WR Screen|
|Michigan motions a TE out to two receivers at the top of the screen; I mutter "screen"; Michigan screens. Mallett throws it over Manningham's head. (IN, 0)|
|Mallett with time; can't find anyone. He steps up, continues to look around, and eventually scrambles for a few yards. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-10, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|Miss the first portion of this play coming back from commercial... I mean, no big deal, it's just a 48-yard run. Even better: the replay is from ground level. From what I can tell, Kraus gets a seal on aDT; a frontside zone double shoves the other guy out of the hole, and Boren(+1) plows the MLB. Long must have gotten a good cut as tehre's no one on the backside when Minor cuts back. From there he's off to the races.|
|O43||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||0||Minor||Zone left|
|Eight in the box; Kraus(-1) has a bit of a hard time with his guy and Minor decides to take it outside instead of heading upfield in the gap. Butler(-1) doesn't to a good job on Davis, forcing Minor further outside; the play is strung out.|
|Minnesota blitzing up the middle; one unblocked linebacker picked off by Moundros; the other is forced to halt by the traffic. Unfortunately, McAvoy has peeled off in a futile attempt to get the second blitzing linebacker, allowing Davis to fill on a play that otherwise would have worked for near first-down yardage.|
|Mallett one-hops a stop route that wasn't going for the first down, anyway. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-10, 9 min 3rd Q. Zoltan, angry, boots it into the endzone.|
|M25||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||8||Minor||Inside zone|
|A rare zone play that's not a stretch. Michigan is fortunate the unblocked Davis doesn't shoot into Minor on this play; as it is he's a foot away. Minor cuts out of the intended hole, finding a crease between Butler and Schilling; he meets resistance 3-4 yards downfield, powering forward for a sizable gain a
|M33||2||2||Ace 3-wide||Pen||-5||McAvoy||False start|
|A well-timed corner blitz gets to Minor in the backfield; the corner trips him up by his ankles. Kraus(-1) defeated on a second level block; this wasn't going anywhere anyway.|
|Well, yeah, of course he makes this throw. Wish it was a little bit inside, as then it's a touchdown, but that's a tiny nit to pick. Manningham blew by on a straight fly route. Oh, I hope you're really really back. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Minnesota shifts very late, bringing up an eighth guy and throwing two linebackers at the strong side of the play. In the stands, I go "noooooooo" as Michigan snaps it and runs right into it; Brown breaks it big. Outstanding job by Helmuth to stone one of the strongside linebackers; Brown heads outside of him. Long blows the DE back; Boren... uh... definitely gets away with holding, dragging the DT to the ground. Criswell loses another LB but manages to block him out of the Long-generated crease. Secondary time. Five yards downfield, Brown meets up with Long still driving his guy back; a filling safety trips over the Minnesota DE's legs. Brown slips down to the five. This should go on Long's Heisman reel.|
|O4||1||G||I-Form||Run||4||Brown||Inside zone left|
|Key to this play is a powerful zone double from Boren and Kraus that drives the DT back four yards; McAvoy just barely gets enough of a cut on the backside DE; Schilling heads out to the second level and gets a good cut on a LB. Helmuth stones a guy on the fronside; Brown runs up the backs of Boren and Kraus for the TD.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-10, 3 min 3rd Q.|
|The Minnesota LBs are washed out; the MLB shoots upfield and is shoved to the ground by Kraus; Long engulfs the SLB. A safety heads outside for contain; Minor follows the FB between Butler and Boren(+1), who got the DT sealed at the last moment â€“ no grasping arms. Minor bolts through the hole and into daylight. (Replay)|
|Not sure what Moundros(-1) is thinking here, as there's a cavernous hole on the frontside that Davis is trying to fill. He peels off and hits a backside DT who's not a threat, leaving Davis alone. Minor manages to cut back for a few because the drive blocks mentioned previously (Boren +1, Kraus +1, Long +1) have opened up major space.|
|O48||2||7||I-Form Twins||Run||6||Brown||Zone left|
|Our unbalanced line that we toyed with against Eastern; still a 100% run formation. Minnesota appears to know this, shoving an eighth guy in the box and shifting to the overloaded side; doesn't matter. Boren(+1) again gets the DT sealed; Long and Butler have crushed the DE downfield. A desperate arm tackle from a pancaked backside DT and Schilling's inability to cut his guy lead to a tackle, but it's six yards downfield.|
|O42||3||1||I-Form Twins||Run||1||Brown||Zone left|
|The unblocked backside DE comes in to make this play... actual blocking was definitely sufficient for the first. I dunno... Brown sometimes goes down too easy for my tastes. Not much YAC in his legs.|
|I disagree with Bill Curry on everything. I just wanted to say that. Everything. Except an Englemon tackle earlier in this game. Mallett sneaks it.|
|Perfect throw; Manningham toast his guy; ballgame. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-10, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Criswell(-1) gets beat; the delay that causes allows the backside unblocked guys to close it down.|
|Critical error from the Gopher DT, who takes a step back instead of slanting hard left; this allows McAvoy to slide out on him and get a block as Kraus heads to the second level. Boren does a good job on the other DT; Moundros crushes one linebacker; Schilling cuts the other one. Brown jets for the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 34-10, 8 min 4th Q. Charting? Over.|
Well, that was... confusing.
Indeed. I mean, just look at the--
Those three DOs were all near-perfect bombs; two more CAs were further bombs that receivers laid out for. Other than that, though... ugly, ugly, ugly. Many of those incompletions were on screens and stops. The BR was also IN or Mallett throws a terrible redzone interception; in general TAs and BAs and PRs are not held against the quarterback unless they start to pile up... six is starting to pile up. And then there was the free touchdown. This was without question the most schizophrenic quarterback performance I can remember.
As a result: several scoring drives when the long completions came in with bupkis otherwise. Frankly, Mallett is a C- quarterback at the moment, and Henne's health will be critical for the stretch run.
It is nice that when Mallett does something right it's often damned impressive. He seems to have terrific command of the pocket and has arm strength for days. He was supposedly very accurate in high school; both Navarre and Henne had skittish days where they sailed a lot of balls before working their mechanics out and getting accurate. Mallett has a world of potential; still, I'm concerned that he will remain thoroughly bad through most of next year.
A flawless day from the wideouts, albeit in limited opportunities to actually catch the ball. The first two bombs from Mallett were circus catches.
Protection: 27/31, Schilling -3, Team -1.
A great day from anyone who wasn't Schilling, and Schilling wasn't awful. Just Minnesota, though.
Why did we run so much better in the second half? Was it the Ciulla-McAvoy switch? Something different we did schematically?
Not in my opinion. The key, IMO, were a few truly outstanding blocks from Boren and Kraus on some of Michigan's many zone lefts. Long was also near flawless, but he is always near flawless. During the Illinois game it was clear that Michigan was one block away from breaking into the secondary time and again. Against Minnesota they were again one block away through much of the first half; in the second half they started getting those blocks. I'd like to see Boren match that level of performance against a defense that isn't the worst in I-A before anointing him Arrived, but it was a really encouraging performance from him.
Also, Mark Moundros spent much less time flopping at the feet of linebackers and more time punching them in the facemask with his head; this was the first time this year the fullbacks were a definite positive.
As far as the scheme goes, there were a few instances where we saw true zone doubles on the interior of the line -- Brown's first touchdown run for one -- instead of the stretch blocking we've gotten used to over the past year and a half. These were generally very effective, perhaps because the Minnesota DTs were in no way able to stand up to them. That might not be as effective against lumbering tubs of goo.
Long, Kraus, and Boren; Manningham. Minor, I thought, was the better of the backs, consistently running with power and picking up YAC.
Mallett was the main reason the offense sputtered early. Schilling appears to be a weak link in pass protection.
What does this mean for Michigan State?
Very little assuming Henne and Hart plays. I think everyone's more worried about Henne now that Hart's backups have shown they aren't straight off the short bus, if that's a takeaway lesson.
Other things that might be relevant: Boren is quickly playing himself out of "oh God, so young" status. Manningham looks to be back to the form he
flashed before the meniscus injury last year; Spartan cornerbacks beware.
Overall, this offense was sabotaged/saved by a freshman backup quarterback playing against the nation's worst defense. Little can be gleaned.
UFR coming ASAP, but it will be 5 or 6.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Earlier in the week, I fretted that my insane ballot would be a sure Mr. Manic-Depressive lock and perhaps a major outlier in general. Wrong. This is the week of anarchy. Kentucky, Cal, and South Carolina shoot right out of the poll, each losing for the second consecutive week. Florida finally takes a major hit; South Florida goes with them. UConn, Georgia, Alabama, and, oddly, Michigan shoot up a minimum of eight spots each. At the top, the damage wrought to LSU's SOS and one dominant performance by Ohio State solidify the Buckeye's grasp on the top spot.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- Scattered first place votes this week. Oregon's vote comes from Tomahawk Nation; BC's is from Dan Shanoff; Arizona State retains Boi From Troy's vote and picks up Burnt Orange Nation's.
- Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician ranks Virginia #10, up six after a loss to UConn. Missed the score?
- MOOS, absent last week, returns and is still ranking Hawaii #4. Why? We've heard an eloquent case against Hawaii; what is the case for? Why are you ranking Hawaii #4, MOOS?
- Dan Shanoff loves him some very probably overrated Big East teams. After banging the drum for Rutgers early in the year, he's now got UConn #7, three spots higher than anyone else in the poll. A commenter on my ballot reminded me of this: have we all (myself included) forgotten that UConn was an obviously blown call away from losing to Temple?
- BFT is uncommonly hard on Kansas, ranking them #13; #10 is the worst anyone else can manage.
- A cluster of voters placing Boise State on the verge of the top ten also grates: Boise's one test against BCS competition came against 2-6 Washington. The Huskies' other win: Syracuse. Boise lost to this very bad UW team by two touchdowns. Maybe they deserve to be ranked towards the bottom of the poll -- lord knows teams get thin down there -- but #11, Jonathan Tu? #12, Saurian Sagacity and Black Heart, Gold Pants?
- DumpDorrell has Texas #8, which even Texas-biased folk would strenuously disagree with.
- Eagle In Atlanta votes Wake Forest #9.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
I generally don't comment on these, but I would like to point out Missouri's remarkable distribution: every voter placed them somewhere from #7 to #10, with the vast majority picking #8 or #9. It's highly unusual for a team not ranked at the very top of the poll to have the lowest standard deviation.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is Every Day Should Be Saturday's. Nothing looks too off until we get to wanton enthusiasm for Texas and Wake Forest at #11 and #12, then more wanton enthusiasm for Clemson and Cal. Georgia is seven spots lower than the poll at large, as is Michigan; Florida and USC figure in not at all.
Creepy mind-reading domination of this category by Double Extra Point continues: they win Mr. Numb Existence for the third time this year and fifth or sixth in their two years of participation. A salute to you, sirs, and a request for lotto numbers when you get the time.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
Yes. #*. Not one but two Michigan blogs, Maize n Brew and The M Zone, share The CK Award this week. You will note that the award's dire power helped USC lose to Oregon, though that was probably going to happen anyway. Quick... to the justification machine!
Well, first of all, a margin of 2.91 isn't that big. Also, both Michigan blogs in question ranked the Wolverines #11... precisely where they're located in the blogpoll. (How can this be? The numbers here are based on average points per ballot, not the actual
poll rank.) Also, four other voters ranked Michigan even higher and two also joined in at #11. Surely this will evade the wrath of the award. We are humble, foul pundits! Humble! A penitent man... KNEELS!
Florida fans wrest the Straight Bangin' Award from the sweaty grasp of USC fans, as both Saurian Sagacity and Every Day Should Be Saturday totally omit the Gators from their ballots in a typical bout of "we lost, we are the suckiest sucks who ever sucked". See: USC fans the last three weeks, or Conquest Chronicles this week.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive is also EDSBS, which is just all over this week's poll. Ohio State shoots up from #6 to #1; every team from 11 to 19 has moved at least eight spots save static Texas, and Florida, USC, Kentucky, and Penn State (#14 last week) plummet from the ballot entirely. I'm dizzy.
Mr. Stubborn is Bruins Nation, which was uncommonly restrained about Connecticut -- whereas most of the poll flipped out and shoved them in the top 15, they deigned to include them at #25 -- and Florida, down only five. Already low opinions on South Carolina, Kentucky, and South Florida also helped.