further adventures in Jed York being unsuited for his position
First, Alan Weymouth on the last game and the upcoming one:
A really good win for us at Illinois, with Hart and Henne injured to varying degrees. The way the game began, I worried that our team might tank, they had every opportunity to do so, but continued to battle. I give the game ball this week to Ron English and the defensive staff, for keeping those guys together when it looked like it might get ugly.
Run Offense vs. Minnesota
It's difficult to overstate how bad the Minnesota defense is. So let's try some analogies.
If the Minnesota Defense was a presidential candidate:
If the Minnesota defense was an Atari game:
For seriouses, the Minnesota defense is approaching truly epic levels of suck. They are dead last in total yardage and 109th in scoring defense. But the rush defense is the strongest aspect of what defense they have -- see also "most disciplined Ron Zook teams" -- at a sunny 94th nationally. Heck, they only give up 5.2 yards per carry and held North Dakota State under 400 yards. I hear the North Dakota State team is comprised of actual bison, so that seems pretty good. This could be quite a battle.
Key Matchup: Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor versus falling over untouched in the backfield 30 times.
Actually... no. Down this road things like Ball State happen. Revising:
Key Matchup: Boren and Schilling versus penetration. Boren's gotten much better in recent weeks while Schilling seems to have regressed; throughout the year the two kids have been at fault for most of the missed blocks, though, and progress would be nice to see going into the closing stretch.
Pass Offense vs. Minnesota
The Gophers are no better here than they are against the run, currently 113th in pass efficiency defense and 119th -- dead last -- in pass yardage defense despite playing a comical parade of nonconference creampuffs. They've benched a senior cornerback in favor of a third true freshman in the secondary; this will be the worst secondary Michigan has faced by far.
Meanwhile on the defensive line, Willie Van De Steeg, 2006's lone bright spot with ten sacks, has been out or limited much of the season. His availability remains in doubt; even if he goes he will not be 100%. Without him, Minnesota has had no pass rush whatsoever. They have just six sacks in e
ight games. Any Minnesota player who lays a hand on a Michigan quarterback should be given warrant to celebrate like he's a Notre Dame quarterback completing a pass.
Much hinges on Henne's availability. He remains questionable with a shoulder separation; given Minnesota's general putridity Michigan is unlikely to risk his health. Expect Mallett and a maximum of 20% first down passes, many of those safe, as Michigan shuts down and tries to pound out a victory without getting anyone hurt or giving Minnesota life via interception.
Key Matchup: Mallett versus The Unbearable Boredom Of Repeated Handoffs.
Run Defense vs. Minnesota
On the other hand, the Gophers' offense has made an impressive transition from Glen Mason's grinding power game to one of those damn spread things. Minnesota is currently doing better on the ground this year (36th, 4.8 YPC) than they did last year (42nd, 4.3 YPC), although those numbers will slip considerably once they face the defenses of Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. (Well... maybe not Wisconsin.)
Running back Amir Pinnix is no Maroney or Barber but he's not bad, either. He's been limited in several games recently -- there was a four game stretch with at most five carries -- and has split time with Duane Bennett and Jay Thomas. A potential monkeywrench: Gopher QB Adam Weber has 401 rushing yards this year. He's averaging more than 10 carries a game as Minnesota uses him to exhaustion.No one back is crushing the competition, but each averages at least 4 YPC. It's a decent, if inept opponent fattened, rushing attack that attacks Michigan's traditional weaknesses.
Michigan, meanwhile, has struggled mightily against the zone read all year long. Though Rashard Mendenhall was held under 100 yards, that was only because Illinois limited to 18 carries. On those carries he picked up 85 yards and was rarely brought down anywhere near the line of scrimmage unless Illinois was pinned inside its five and lined up in a come-and-get-me power set. Michigan's linebackers continued their struggles. One bright spot was quarterback containment: save one 23-yard Juice Williams scramble when Michigan suckered freshman defensive tackle John Ferrara on the zone read, Illinois quarterbacks were reduced to handoffs and pitches. The option was contained; Mendenhall was the only real threat.
Key Matchup: The Usual: Michigan linebackers versus hesitancy, fullback blocks, misdirection, and inability to get off their blocks.
Pass Defense vs. Minnesota
Redshirt freshman Adam Weber has performed adequately, if not well, (58%, 6.6 YPA) thus far but for one niggling detail: boatloads of interceptions. Weber has 15 already against a wide selection of the worst defenses known to man. He a loose cannon at this point in his career, not particularly accurate or sane. Weber's YPA and sack numbers (Minnesota is 5th in the country) indicate a ton of screens, short passes, and three-step "drops" (scare quotes because Minnesota operates a shotgun spread), throws he should be more accurate on. General expectation: Curtis Painter last year.
You may recall enormous wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright, the brobdingnagian revelation as a freshman who never progressed despite looking like a walking blueprint of an NFL pro-bowler. He's gotten better and could be the target of a Patented Jeff Bowden Hopeful Downfield Jump Ball or three, but the #1 reciever for the Gophers is sophomore Eric Decker, well on his way towards IGWWR* status. (With the carnage at Iowa and the recent emergence of Decker and awesomely named Logan Payne, the question has to be asked: did Minnesota hijack the secret Des Moines lab where these guys are genetically engineered?) In the brief glimpses I've seen of Decker, he's basically Payne: sneaky fast, sure handed, and a heady hard working guy who has a mind for the game and just coincidentally happens to be white.
I repeat myself, but: since exiling Stevie Brown to the bench and Johnny Sears to a Cheech & Chong marathon, the Michigan secondary has emerged into a solid unit. Freshman Donovan Warren blew a coverage last week and linebackers jumping little flare routes opened up a number of underneath routes for Illinois wide receivers, but most things longer than a few yards were well covered. Meanwhile, Michigan is 12th nationally in sacks largely because of Shawn Crable and Brandon Graham. Minnesota won't provide many opportunities to add to that total. Solid tackling on short routes and properly reading screens will be key. Put Minnesota in third and long and it's punting time.
*(inexplicably great white wide receiver)
Key Matchup: Donovan Warren versus WR screens. Warren's been a dodgy tackler thus far. Minnesota will probably try to exploit this with their bubble screens.
Kickoff coverage could be frustrating again. Minnesota has a kick return touchdown from Jay Thomas, albeit one against Florida Atlantic, and is currently 18th in kick return average. (They do get to practice it an awful lot.)
Minnesota punter Justin Kucek kicks it deep (almost 44 per) but often outkicks his coverage. Michigan has no one capable of exploiting that; expect a number of 10-yard Greg Mathews returns. The Gophers have only attempted four field goals all year, missing half.
On the Michigan side of things, Zoltan The Inconceivable continues to hypnotize opponents into muffed punts and roughing the kicker penalties. He launched a 67-yarder with no return last week, and the only thing holding down his average are the many times he's been asked to drop balls inside the ten, something he does with consistency. Hail Zoltan.
KC Lopata might not be Mike "Ted" Nugent, but indicators are his initial might stand for Kicking Competency, something not found during the mercifully brief Gingell era. He's been all right on a series of short field goals.
Key Matchup: Michigan kick coverage versus Thomas, et al. It's been awful so far this year.
Twenty-four point spreads do not warrant kitten talismans.
- Hart and Henne don't play... and neither do Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, or Ryan Mallett. Or Jake Long. Or KC Lopata. Or Zoltan The Inconceivable.
- Michigan keeps getting gashed up the middle on the zone read.
- Every kick return ends up on the Michigan side of the field.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Michigan doesn't turn the ball over four times.
- Our linebackers start reading and reacting quicker.
- The Brown/Minor combo starts looking very doable for 2008.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 1 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for Hey, They Lost To A I-AA Team, Too, +1 for Ack Spread Option, -1 for They're The Notre Dame Of Defense, -1 for No, Seriously, They Really Are That Bad, +1 for Complete Absence Of Vaunted Stars Is Likely, -1 for They Hired A Tight Ends Coach, -1 for The Notre Dame Of Defense, People).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for This Would Be More Humiliating Than Appalachian State, +1 for I Am On Record Saying Firing Mason Is Really Stupid, +1 for The Jug(!), +1 for If We Lose To This Team We Are So Screwed For The Rest Of The Season, +1 for Oh God, The Kittens, The Horrible Kittens)
Loss will cause me to... look, I was in Phoenix visiting my grandmother. I couldn't have smeared anyone's car with goat feces, and I have no idea what you are insinuating. No, this isn't a bomb. Yes, it's red and composed of sticks and ticking. It's an egg timer. What?
Win will cause me to... WOOO SUCK IT MINNESOTA WOOO NOT SO HOT WHEN YOU'RE NOT PLAYING ON ICE, HOSERS!
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
It's not often a schedule f
eaturing a I-AA team and Eastern Michigan offers up an opponent clearly worse than both, but this is it. The worst defense in the country keeps getting younger and more befuddled. Michigan could probably call out the play it's running before every snap and still pick up 5 YPC. Inexperience and error on the part of the backfield will probably submarine a drive or three; Minnesota might back into another stop or two. Michigan should go up and down the field otherwise.
Offensively, Minnesota actually has a chance to move the ball. Weber will carry it more frequently than either Illinois quarterback did, and given Michigan's general weakness against rushing quarterbacks -- one admirable job of containment does not overthrow years of problems -- there's a distinct possibility of two or three frustratingly competent drives from the Gophers, though a couple of them are likely to end in interceptions. Michigan's defense isn't as good as Ohio State's, but it's rapidly developing into something that's not far off. Some crumbs here and there but no real danger.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- No Hart, no Henne, no Manningham.
- No problem.
- 38-14, Michigan.
Minor relief. Michigan Sports Center is reporting that WXYZ, channel 7 in Detroit, will also carry the Michigan-Minnesota game.
America! Fuck Yeah! Whenever there are flybys at football games, it's impossible not to get the above-mentioned song stuck in your head. I mention the above-mentioned because there was possibly the sweetest flyover ever -- fuck yeah! -- at the Illinois game:
Only competition I can think of was an A-10 flyover a couple years ago at Michigan Stadium.
Press conferencing. Attempting to limit youtube embedding these days so Macs (boo) running Firefox (woo) don't implode, so just links to this week's press conferences before the Minnesota game:
Worst ever. Right, as mentioned in UFR:
Gophers football coach Tim Brewster admits it makes him a little nervous, but he announced Tuesday that he will start three true freshmen in the defensive secondary Saturday at Michigan.
Kyle Theret has moved from safety to cornerback and will replace senior Jamal Harris, who was benched for the second half last week. With Curtis Thomas at free safety and Ryan Collado at right cornerback, the Gophers will start the three freshmen together for the first time this season.
Normally this is where the desperate plea to throw the ball, by golly, goes, but, yeah...
...given what NDSU did to them, Mike Debord can call the same play 80 times and it won't matter.
Shouldn't you be grading things or something? Crotchety Michigan faculty have weighed in against the stadium renovation:
The University of Michigan Senate Assembly, the elected body that represents faculty, passed a resolution Monday evening urging the university to reconsider the $226 million renovation to Michigan Stadium in light of serious concerns raised by more than 600 U-M faculty and staff.
They're concerned they weren't adequately consulted about the major plans of the iconic stadium.
"In short, U-M administrators behaved more like oil company executives evading environmentalists than stewards of this university community," said Keith Riles, professor of physics at U-M, who supported the resolution.
Why wasn't Keith Riles, professor of physics, consulted about luxury boxes at Michigan Stadium? Uh... perhaps because he's a professor of physics? These complaints arise from the regents meetings wherein the stadium votes were added to the agenda late -- after the public comment slots had been filled. So, like, whatever. Have another vote and let the Hero of Tiananmen Square and physics professors have their say and vote on it again with the same results.
I've made the case for luxury boxes before; no need to rehash it. Until Pollack and others can provide some hard numbers on how concerned the citizenry is about luxury boxes they have no ground to stand on.
Hey, whoah. Normally sunny Angelique Chengelis gets in some not-so-oblique shots at Ryan Mallett in her latest Detroit News column:
....if you saw the Illinois game on television, the ABC cameras picked up a heated exchange between Carr and Mallett on the sideline after a Michigan offensive series.
Mallett put his head down and tried to move away, but Carr, who clearly was not finished with his "advice," pulled Mallett back and finished the lecture.
What does this indicate? Plenty. Quarterbacks and players rarely jaw at, ignore, or laugh in the faces of their coaches. I have heard from numerous sources who say Mallett simply needs one more ingredient to begin to fulfill his potential of being a great quarterback at Michigan -- he needs to mature. ...
Mallett is engaging and a treat for media to interview, but he needs to grow up fast if he's going to lead this team next season.
Also worth noting in this line of criticism is Carr's terse response to a Mallett question after the Illinois game:
"He's got a lot of things he needs to improve on," Carr said.
FWIW, I've also received a couple notes along these lines, one about as well-sourced as these things get. The situation here is precarious; without a major attitude adjustment things could be very sketchy at quarterback next year.
Etc.: Michigan Monday (yes, I know it's Thursday); "http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071023/SPORTS0201/710230337/1131">TV assignments delayed for the MSU game; would not be surprised if, as long rumored, Michigan-MSU is on the BTN.
Video trouble? Try VLC.
|M10||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-3||Brown||Zone left|
|Seven in the box against this three-wide look; Illinois in a base 4-3 set. We run zone left; Illinois blitzes right into it and gets a linebacker in the backfield instantly. Kind of looks like they knew exactly what was coming.|
|M7||2||13||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Brown||Zone right|
|Same base 4-3 for Illinois. Good cut from Kraus(+1); frontside blocking is good from Boren(+1) and Ciulla, starting at RG despite the announced lineup. Illinois got blown off the ball, but forced a cutback from Brown, allowing the backside DE to close and prevent him from shooting into the secondary. Well blocked.|
|Weird formation with the tight end lined up just in front of and to the left of Minor. Manningham runs a post route as Arrington drags just in front of the first down line; Illinois jumps the drag as Henne reads this and fires the post. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Butler open as Leman sells out on the playfake and the weakside linebacker is trying to cover receivers downfield in zone. Butler makes the grab and lumbers upfield a bit. (CA, 3)|
|Moundros lined up as a nominal tight end; he ducks inside Butler at the snap, acting as a fullback. Brown follows him into the hole, but Ciulla(-1) has not cut off the backside DT, who powers through the block and tackles near the LOS. Good play by him; without that Michigan has a big gainer.|
|This is open for the first; thrown behind Manningham, tipped, and intercepted. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-7, 11 min 1st Q.|
|Michigan catches a break as this #11 guy runs into Mathews and gives Michigan a free 15 yards. On this play we bring Arrington in motion to the left side of the line â€“ where the FB is located â€“ and use him as an extra blocker. I think Brown screws up a read here since the Arrington motion was not met with a defensive adjustment and he should be able to get the corner; maybe Kraus(-1)'s inability to handle Norwell helped him decide to head up into the middle of the line. A good backside cut from Schilling and some overpursuit from Ciulla's guy gives Brown a hole; Butler has no angle on a linebacker, though, and said linebacker makes a shoestring tackle.|
|M35||2||7||Ace Empty||Pass||4||Manningham||Bubble screen|
|Manningham motions to a pair of receivers at the top of the screen; I mutter "screen"; Michigan screens. Steele does a good job of recognizing this and attacking Arrington's outside shoulder; Arrington holds him a little bit but not enough to get called and Manningham manges to get the corner for a few. We really need some plays that play off this formation. (CA, 3)|
|Same weird TE positioning. Ciulla(-1) loses his guy; Kraus(-1) loses his guy; they meet at Henne. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q. Ugly pressure from both DTs; Zoltan blasts a 67 yard punt. Hail Zoltan! Illinois goes three and out, then shanks a punt.|
|M49||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||7||Brown||Zone left|
|Mallett in. This defense would be killing me if I was an Illinois fan. They've got a linebacker over the slot guy and are clearly tipping zone. We run away from the receivers as they attack; blitzing MLB swallowed up by Long(+1); Ciulla(+1) manages to cut the backside linebacker; Davis gets too far outside to help. Brown runs over the prone MLB, tripping in the process.|
|Virtual replay of the first Butler catch with the quick dumpoff and Butler turning upfield for a decent gain. Looks quicker on this one. (CA, 3)|
|O34||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4 + 5||Brown||Zone right|
|Manningham whiffs as he tries to cut the corner and Kraus can't quite get out on Leman; the rest of the play is well blocked; Ciulla and Boren drive guys downfield; Davis and Leman converge after a few. Incidental facemask.|
|Think this is designed to go inside as Boren and Kraus double the DT, driving him back. Moundros(-1) whiffs on the linebacker; Brown cuts up into the double and a backside double. No one ever gets disengaged to block the second level but the push on the first level is enough for the first down.|
|O23||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||6||Brown||Zone left|
|Nice job by Kraus(+1) to first get the DT sealed, then get out on a linebacker just enough to slow his progress and get Brown through the hole.|
|O17||2||4||I-Form Twins||Run||1||Brown||Zone left|
|Long(-1) gets beat on this play, allowing the DE to get inside of him after getting pushed back a yard or two; Brown attempts to cut past him but no dice.|
|O16||3||3||Shotgun Empty||Pass||6 (pen)||Manningham||In|
|2 TEs who stay in to block so not exactly empty-empty. Mallett's throw is only marginally accurate â€“ it would be behind but a makeable catch â€“ but it's a moot point with the Illinois DB interfering. (CA-, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|Frontside jammed up as Illinois jumps all over this, shooting a safety up right before the snap. Kraus has trouble with Norwell; Brown cuts back into the backs of his offensive linemen; little place else to go.|
|Arrington has 'em, as the corner jumps the slant as he starts heading to the sideline; the throw is batted at the line and falls to the turf. (I assume. If it wasn't, it slipped.) (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O8||3||G||Shotgun 2-back||Pass||Inc||Arrington||Skinny post|
|This could easily have been called interference; Hicks comes over the top, yanking Arrington with his off arm before the ball gets there. As it was, excellent coverage. Ball was again behind the receiver. (CA-, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(25), 3-7, 1 min 1st Q. Holy God: during this drive ABC puts up a graphic on first down play selection. First six games: 24% pass. Purdue: 35%. I know, Mallett and blowouts and all that stuff but that's everyone's criticisms of Debord wrapped up into one little stat. Also, Zoltan's hold was a thing to be seen. Video!|
|Henne back; he throws a stop to Manningham good for about five; Manningham slips a tackle for a few more. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Butler(-1) lets a defensive end spin past him; Henne's going to get whacked unless he gets rid of this. Fortunately, he does, finding Arrington 30 yards downfield on a post route. Perfect throw. (DO, 2, protection 2/3) Watch the defense on this one; Illinois brings a safety to the line as Michigan comes out in a run formation on second and short; Henne knows he has this from the snap.|
|Wheee! I love these.|
|A simple stop route here that Henne throws well behind Arrington; he's got a shot at it but can't haul it in. Announcers unnecesssarily harsh on what would have been a twisting, one-handed grab. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Weird TE placement; Manningham burns Davis on a flag and hauls it in. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2).|
|Manningham on the far sideline stop route we occasionally use in the waggle; Henne daringly loops it over a linebacker coming over to cover; Manningham makes the reception, dodges a tackler, and extends for the touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-14, 8 min 2nd Q. No runs on this drive; scoring offense.|
|Henne probably should have gone with Arrington on a flag behind this, but that's life I guess. Manningham does a good job of fighting for two or three more after this short,well-covered completion. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M24||2||5||Ace||Run||6||Brown||Outside zone left|
|We motion Arrington in for the three TE look, and I can't figure out whether this is well blocked or not. Andre Criswell(!) is one of the TEs; he lets the Illinois DE inside of him; Arrington helps seal him. Long releases downfield on the MLB; as Brown clears the DE he's presented with a filling corner and the MLB cutting towards him, Long in tow; he cuts inside behind long and a peeling Criswell, then splits two more guys for first down yardage. Possibly Brown's best run of the night and an indication he might be starter material.|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||Deep slant|
|Weird TE. Not sure what to call this route; it's basically a slant that runs long as Arrington clears out zone coverage. Henne finds and fires it to Manningham, a little high. It's dropped. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Schilling(-2) pwned by Pilcher; Henne with no chance. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Schilling -2) Jake looks sad after the play.|
|A delayed stunt between the two DTs gets Lindquist free; Henne's stepped up into the pocket as the ends have come speed rushing upfield; he's snowed under. (PR, 0, protection 1/2, Minor -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 4 min 2nd Q. Zoltan draws a personal foul for roughing the kicker. Hail Zoltan. It's that #11 again. Give that kid a scholarship.|
|M28||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||5||Brown||Zone left|
|Excellent blocking on the frontside; unfortunately Ciulla just can't quite get his man slowed up enough to spring Brown. The frontside drive blocks have created enough room for Brown to surge forward for a decent gain.|
|Waits for Manningham to come open in the zone, then hits him right in stride so he can pick up another 10 YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Illinois finally in nickel and waiting on the pass. We've done this a couple times this year where a TE lined up just off the LOS dives inside to become a fullback; here Butler picks off a linebacker as Boren moves to the second level and gets an excellent block. Minor powers through an arm tackle, then stiffarms a DB for a good gain.|
|The problems on this play are manifold: Illinois has brought another guy into the box and Steele blitzes from the outside. Butler(-1) whiffs. Minor could just take it up the gut, but Schilling(-1) has gotten beaten by Pilcher. Two guys beating their blockers usually means TFL; this is a TFL.|
|Schilling(-1) again beaten; Henne manages to step up past the onrushing defender. Problem: Ciulla(-1) also beaten and there's a DT about to swallow Henne up. He manages to chuck it to Butler for a couple yards, no thanks to the OL. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2)|
|O31||3||11||Ace 3-wide||Pass||15||Butler||Deep cross|
|First guy is covered, so Henne has to check down; he finds Butler barely
open running a crossing route in man coverage, and puts it right where it needs to be so he can pick up the last couple yards he needs for the first on his own. Excellent pocket this time; good blitz pickup from Minor. (DO, 2, protection 3/3)
|O16||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||3||Minor||Zone right|
|Pass-off block on the backside DT between Kraus and Long (you know, the one where Kraus bursts into the guy, knocking him back for Long to pick up) never gets the guy slowed up, so he tracks down the line. Steele defeats Butler's block(-1) and the two guys coverge on the ballcarrier despite Illinois only having six in the box.|
|O13||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Arrington||Stop & go|
|Henne has this â€“ the short corner bites â€“ but throws it long and outside. Arrington lays out but can't haul it in. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|The touchdown; beautiful layout from Arrington and the ball from Henne is well placed enough. (CA- 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-14, 1 min 2nd Q. Full credit to Lloyd for using the challenge here. Why the F did he have to use it, though?|
|M12||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||0 + 5||Brown||Zone left|
|Mallett in; Michigan runs against only seven in the box but virtually no one actually gets blocked. Ciulla(-1) can't even slow the backside DT; the DE manages to stay up after a pretty good cut from Schilling. Steele, unblocked, makes three guys in the backfield. No dice. We luck out with an incidental facemask.|
|M17||1||5||I-Form Twins||Run||2||Brown||Zone left|
|Wow, this is depressing: Illinois has only six guys in the box here. Long(-1) does not wall off his guy, who manages to set up inside enough to disengage and grab Brown as he passes. Ciulla(-1) fails to get a second level block; the linebacker fills ably. Michigan should really do better here.|
|Butler gets driven way back but the DE is too aggressive and runs himself past Brown, falling. Long(+1) gets out on the WLB; Kraus and Moundros seal the frontside DT and the backside guy can't quite get to Brown.|
|M26||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||-1||--||Fumbled snap|
|Woo. Illinois again with six in the box, running a safety to the line at the snap. Trying to dupe Mallett into a run call? (It was a zone right.)|
|Caught Illinois in a good defense for this, as they bring up a LB to the line and blitz him out of the play. Only Leman is back there, but Moundros runs right up the middle of the play and the hole is between Ciulla and Schilling; he has no angle and Britt Miller is unmolested.|
|Ton of time for Mallett; he can't find anyone. He starts rolling out, directing Greg Mathews to go somewhere... he gets wide open but Mallett, for some reason, hesitates and takes a sack. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 11 min 3rd Q. Carr chews Mallett out a bit after the play. Wonder what that was about?|
|M30||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||1||Brown||Zone left|
|Ugly: seven in the box but a corner lined up over the slot guy, who is in tight over a TE. He blitzes right into this play. Moundros picks him off, but the result is that Miller is totally unblocked â€“ extra guy â€“ and tackles at the LOS.|
|M31||2||9||Ace 4-wide||Pass||Inc||Butler||TE Out|
|This is either deflected or just ugly. I can't quite make it out, but there's no mention of the pass getting batted, so... (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Weird TE. Mallett can't find anyone open, but the middle of the field has broken wide open so he takes off. He is graceful like a dead gazelle.|
|The DE gets inside Long, then falls; Moundros also runs up and creates a mess. Brown's apparently headed outside, so the linebacker also heads out, robbing Boren of an angle to block him. Somehow Brown squirts through for a decent gain.|
|O44||2||6||I-Form Twins||Run||1||Brown||Zone left|
|Corner blitzes right into the play and Moundros; Moundros can't handle him and he tackles at the LOS. Predictable predictable.|
|Two TEs, no RBs, this is a straight bomb to Manningham; Manningham has a step and a half on Davis; the ball is badly underthrown. When Manningham tries to adjust, Davis runs him over, bailing Michigan out. A touchdown if accurate. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O28||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||0||--||Fumbled snap|
|This one we lose; Boren, BTW, is at guard and Kraus is doing the snapping.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-14, 7 min 3rd Q. Seriously, WTF.|
|Butler doesn't even get a touch on the weakside DE, so he's un unblocked; Schilling is having trouble with the DT. Mallett has to dance around and flick it out to Butler, who they still aren't covering on this little flat route. (CA+, 3, protection 0/1, Butler)|
|M35||2||4||Ace 3-wide||Run||12||Brown||Zone left|
|I don't know if this was an adjustment or what, but now starts a series of plays where our running backs head out to the corner time and again, getting it time and again. This play is... odd. The frontside DT is let free as Long(+1) engages the frontside DE and Boren heads to the second level. The linebacker to the playside stays too far inside â€“ maybe reading the hole caused by the DT flying upfield -- and gets blocked out of the play by Boren; Long holds the corner. Brown just runs outside.|
|M47||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||30||Brown||Zone right|
|Arrington shuffles in at the start of the play, sort of tipping where we're going; Illinois slants away from it anyw
ay. Martez Wilson gets inside Butler, but can't quite get around in time to catch up to Brown. Schilling(+1) clocked a linebacker on the second level; Arrington(+1) walls off the corner. Brown takes off for a big gainer.
|O22||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||10||Minor||Zone left|
|We shuffle and run towards it; this spurs a blitz from the LB to the playside that's perfectly timed. Long(+2) does a fantastic job absorbing the LB's momentum and actually driving him back. Moundros shoots between Long and Boren but ignores the MLB; Minor heads outside where a safety has come up; Moundros redeems himself by changing course and pounding him as Minor cuts back upfield. A stiffarm â€“ Minor's second of the game â€“ wards off the corner and gives Minor, uh, the corner.|
|O12||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||0||Minor||Zone left|
|Illinois now really stacking the hell out of the box, with eight guys in there plus a safety looking for the run. There are only two guys, one of them a linebacker, bothering with the WRs. This one's hard to make out; it looks like Kraus moved to the second level too quickly for Ciulla to pick up a block on the DT; Boren also struggled and DTs hit Minor at the LOS.|
|O12||2||10||Ace Twins||Run||1||Brown||Zone left|
|An excellent play from Leman, who shoots through a gap in the line and tackles Brown in the backfield.|
|Thrown into coverage; if he puts this outside maybe it has a chance. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 17-17, EO 3rd Q.|
|Henne returns. Weird TE. Henne scans, coming off to a second or third read. It's low but catchable; Mathews can't dig it out. (CA-, 2, protection 2/2)|
|This is all on Boren(-1), who hesitates and does not get out on Steele, allowing the LB to drive to the ball carrier and eventually causing a big TFL. (CA, 3)|
|M18||3||14||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||3 + 15||Mathews||Drag|
|Weird TE. Henne comes down to Mathews on a well-covered crossing route for three yards; face mask bails Michigan out. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pen||-5||Butler||False Start|
|M31||1||15||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||4 + 15||Manningham|
|Michigan motions Butler to a pair of wide receivers at the top of the screen; I mutter "screen"; Michigan screens. Illinois covers it well, holding it down to four yards, then picks up a late hit. (CA, 3)|
|First: Schilling gets away with a blatant hold here. Second: Schilling's blatant hold isn't good enough to keep the defender off Henne; he's hit as he throws and the ball is a duck that falls incomplete. (BA, 0, protection 0/2, Schilling -2)|
|Well blocked on the first level and Brown takes the appropriate hole; quick filling safety helps hold it down.|
|Good pocket, throw, and catch. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Everyone runs flies in the hope that Illinois will have a two-deep coverage and the safeties will be SOL; this does not happen and everyone looks well covered. Henne throws for Manningham, but I think this is just chucking the ball OOB. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O37||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||-6||Minor||Zone left|
|I think. This is out of the shotgun and it's a little weird. A DT is left totally unblocked; Minor should run away from him but instead stops, thinking about trying to juke him. This does not work. At all. This actually kind of looks like Illinois' variation on the zone read that got Juice loose earlier in the game â€“ Herbstreit says it's a zone read, too â€“ but would we really run this? Are we stupid or something?|
|O43||3||16||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||Stop & go|
|Wide open, as the DB stumbles; overthrown. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-17, 9 min 4th Q. Mind bullets.|
|O13||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||2||Brown||Zone left|
|Eight in the box and they're charging forward at the snap. Brown burrows his way for two in a mess of players.|
|Well, yeah, of course we call that.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-17, 8 min 4th Q. MOMENTARY WOO THAT DOES NOT CONSIDER CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING WOO GO.|
|This is going to be zone right; Henne is stepped on by an OL and falls.|
|We love these drag routes, don't we? This one is actually a few yards down the field; an Illinois DB whiffs on a tackle and the corner opens up for Mathews. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O29||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||1||Brown||Zone left|
|No creases here; Butler(-1) driven back into Brown's path by Miller; a wad of bodies consumes the tailback.|
|Corner is playing in Tajikistan after that last bomb and doesn't even come close to jumping the route. Ball is a little short and outside, dragging Manningham back upfield and eventually out of bounds when a first down was available with a better throw. (CA-, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O21||3||2||I-Form Big||Run||-2||Minor||Zone left|
|I'm not sure how the zone is doing on third and short this year, but this is a bad acid flashback to last year. Minor is swarmed, avoids a four-yard TFL, and manages to only lose two. Aaaargh run an iso.|
|Drive Notes: FG(39), 2
7-17, 4 min 4th Q. Michigan gets the ball back with two minutes left and a ten point lead; charting stops here.
So I think the potential disconnect between myself and some readers is this: I say "we only won that game because of many, many Illinois mistakes" and the response is "but you did not consider our mistakes!" But, uh... aren't our mistakes sort of the point? Michigan only has control over what it does; in this game it did a lot of bad: turnovers, sacks, fumbled snaps, dropped balls, etc. The point is less "we should have lost to Illinois" and more "this game reinforces my dark side that believes this team is going to end up 8-4 or 9-3 and is not likely to win a bowl game."
That said, there were positives to take out of this game I didn't see from the Memorial Stadium endzone. Henne was very good. Both Brown and Minor showed some indication they will be decent to good Big Ten runners next year. A large portion of the offensive suck was Mallett related and hopefully not something that will extend into the last three games of the season.
Say something nice.
Full credit to the coaching staff for deciding to place boot upon trachea on the last drive, taking the opportunity offered by Illinois' petrified corner on the last second down charted to set up a makeable field goal. The drag route that set Michigan up was a bit fortunate -- a missed tackle turned a seven yard gain into twenty -- but at least they were throwing the ball a bit. The reward was a clinching score and a relatively safe last four minutes.
First, Mallett: he was really, really bad. In addition to the numbers above he fumbled two snaps (Henne also fumbled one), losing one, and a few of the CAs were marginal throws behind receivers that allowed Illinois defensive backs to make a play on the ball. The idea of crediting him for the two pass interference penalties he picked up doesn't hold water, as one a short cross thrown behind the receiver, giving the DB a chance to make a play that he did not, and the other was an underthrown bomb that was an easy touchdown if accurate.
It's just a third of a game that Mallett was yanked in and out of and not worth panicking over, but let's not sugarcoat things: he was bad, bad, bad.
Aren't the coaches putting him in a position to fail?
To some extent yes, but at this point it's something of a chicken-and-egg problem. Does Mallett often perform poorly because the only times he's suffered to throw downfield are when there is no other options? Is he suffered to throw only on obvious throwing downs because he performs poorly? Given how bad he was and how that Michigan rumbled down the field on Mallett's final drive before he threw a killer interception at the five, it's hard to criticize.
But... still.... Mallett's first and second down play breakdowns:
One fumbled snap on first down was not charted. That's a lot of runs, and the pass was one of those little flickouts to Butler behind the LOS. At this point, don't you have to try loosening things up a bit?
The only non-ND Mallett touchdown drive -- as opposed to Morelli gift -- was the one against Penn State where Michigan opened up, got the ball out to Manningham a couple times on first down, and staked itself to an eight-point lead it would not relinquish. Mallett's best drive against Northwestern was mostly passing. The rest? Bupkis. Though Michigan did have the one long ground-based drive against Illinois and a shorter one that ended in a field goal, the overall efficacy rate of Mallett's training wheels offense is minuscule... and that's not all on him. Except in this game.
I may have been a little generous with the DOs, but there they are; they are unlikely to be a result of win-based ecstasy. One inaccurate pass was the horrible interception; a couple others could plausibly be credited to his half-ending injury and should be looked upon in context. Another very strong outing for him.
Protection: 48/59. Not a good day. Culprits: Schilling -5, Ciulla -2, Butler -2, Minor -1, Kraus -1.
So this Schilling-buffeting?
First, a whole host of caveats: Schilling showed up, got mono, missed most of his freshman year with an injury that prevented him from adding strength anywhere, then was injured and out for most of spring practice. In-season he's been batted from tackle to guard and back to tackle. He is playing over his head to even be a starter.
That said, he's not playing particularly well. The problems in pass protection have been matched with frequent issues in the run game. One sack and a dangerously batted pass were on him as he failed to contain Illinois DE Doug Pilcher. At the moment, the great hope of the 2007 offensive line, that Schilling and Boren would turn out to be better than the departed Bihl/Riley combo, has not come to fruition. It looks highly unlikely to get there any time this year.
A less effective game from the receivers, as Mathews and Manningham dropped a couple of makeable catches. Arrington laid out for one spectacular touchdown grab, though.
You mean obvious non-touchdown in the eyes of the replay official oops right?
Yeah, seriously. Everyone in the stadium expected that third down to be reviewed as soon as Arrington hit the ground, but Carr actually had to use his challenge to get the geriatric in the booth to put down his Werther's Originals and look at the play. WTF? The addition of the challenge seemed more a salve for outraged coaches in the aftermath of the fiasco that was the Alamo Bowl than a useful addition to the system. Michigan should never have been forced to use its challenge for an obviously close, critical play, especially given that Michigan let the play clock wind all the way down before making the challenge.
Henne, mostly. No one else stood out as particularly excellent on offense. Brown, maybe. Also, the Illinois punt and punt return teams. We love you guys. Especially #11.
There is no UFR for special teams, so special teams guys never get called out in these sections but we need a special shout out for Zoltan here. His 67-yard rocket changed the field position early in the game, and he allowed no returns, pinned opponents within the 20 whenever given the opportunity, dug out an extra point snap, and got himself roughed by #11. Yea, truly he is benevolent.
Also, KC Lopata: don't go changing.
Schilling, as mentioned, had a very tough time with Pilcher and others. Mallett was real bad for the first time in his Michigan career.
What does it mean for Minnesota?
Since the Gophers just gave up 400 rushing yards to a I-AA team and are starting three true freshmen in the secondary, anything less than one million points will be disappointing.
|M33||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Run||7||Zone read handoff|
|Fullback in the game; Mendenhall motions in from the slot. FB used as a lead blocker as Taylor gets doubled at the POA. CGraham(-1) gets blocked out of the hole and Mendenhall has a crease; a blitzing Harrison comes around from the backside and grabs at Mendenhall's legs; he almost powers through but falls.|
|M26||2||2||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Pass||26||Zone read PA|
|Again with motion from the slot to the backfield; this time it's Benn. Illinois fakes inside to Mendenhall as Benn comes around the outside, giving a triple option look. This sucks up Graham and Englemon, leaving eight guys within two yards of the LOS. Warren(-2) has let his man behind him; easy pitch and catch for the touchdown. (Cover -2) It looks like Warren expects safety help from Englemon and got the defense mixed up.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 14 min 1st Q. Fake beautifully executed there; we freak out about the option and Juice had his choice of targets.|
|M40||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||Zone right|
|Straight zone stretch here that we could have run. We have an extra guy, Harrison, in the box and they neglect to block him because Crable(+1) drives his man into the backfield and draws attention from a guard. Harrison slows Mendenhall; Jamison and others converge to tackle after a small gain.|
|M38||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||-6||Flare screen|
|Benn motions into the backfield, then runs a little flare screen. This is odd, since instead of blocking Harrison the slot guy runs a little flare route of his own, allowing him to close unblocked. He does do this(+2), making a key TFL without overrunning the dangerous Benn.|
|M44||3||14||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pen||-5||False Start|
|Well, full credit to CGraham(+2) here. He blitzes, beating the left tackle to the corner and grabbing Juice from behind as he attempts to scramble out of the pocket. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.|
|O4||1||10||I-Form Big||4-4 Goalline||Run||0||Off tackle|
|Jamo(+1) is ignored on the first level in favor of a double on Johnson; he busts into the backfield and takes on the FB such that he's stoned and the pulling guard has nowhere to go; Mendenhall cuts it to the backside were an unblocked Adams(+1) fills with authorita.|
|O4||2||10||I-Form Big||4-4 Goalline||Run||5||Iso|
|Taylor doubled and pushed back a bit, opening a hole as BGraham(-1) shoots upfield and out of the play. Ezeh(+1) takes on the fullback, shedding as he ducks inside to avoid a filling Adams.|
|Englemon(+1) jumps the route and impacts the receiver just as the ball gets there. It's wide anyway â€“ Juice Williams and all that â€“ but would have been a tough catch to make even if accurate. (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 5 min 1st Q.|
|O10||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read keeper|
|Crable(+1) keeps contain, bottling Juice up and tackling. Benn dropped back here, hoping to give Juice an option look should he get outside.|
|Juice stands in despite having an unblocked blitzer in his face and delivers a strike. Warren tackles immediately. (Cover -1)|
|O19||3||1||I-Form Big||4-4 Goalline||Run||1||Iso|
|The double on Taylor gets just enough push for Mendenhall to squeeze out a first down. BGraham(+1) got some penetration and was a hair away from slowing Mendenhall in the backfield long enough for the linebackers to collapse.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read handoff|
|Stunt or slant of some kind that sees Taylor step hard to the left, eventually getting picked up by the RT as Crable and Ezeh crash in unblocked on the outside. Juice reads this and makes the handoff; Chris Graham has to deal with the center and can't; Taylor(+1) does a good job of reading and recovering, grabbing Mendenhall by the legs and taking him down. Our rock, their paper, and a five yard gain here is about the minimum.|
|They leave Crable(+1) unblocked on the first level; the fullback is supposed to pick him off. This does not so much happen as Crable bolts around the FB and sticks Mendenhall in the backfield.|
|O25||3||5||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||9||Cross|
|Benn sits down in a hole in the zone vacated when Ezeh starts chasing after Mendenhall on a flare route, then suddenly pulls up. Crable(+1) was about to pound Juice here if he had to hesitate. (Cover -1)|
|Juice on a rollout. Fires low and late to Benn; Trent(+1) is up on this route, nearly intercepting it and making it an extremely difficult catch. (Pressure -1, cover +1)|
|O42||2||2||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||23||Zone read trap|
|We've got Ferrara(-2) in there; he comes through totally unblocked as Illinois turns him loose; he then bites on the zone read fake and lets Juice free. You can see him say "#&#$" to himself as Juice starts motoring. Ezeh had to respect the Mendenhall fake but CGraham(-1) meekly accepted a block.|
|Juice scans and scans, finding no one. (Cover +2, pressure -1) Once the clock in his head goes of he starts running around like he is wont to do; Ezeh and CGraham chase him out of bounds.|
|M33||2||8||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||>10||Iso|
|You can blame this on shoddy tackling or credit Mendenhall for being a damn good back; probably some of both. Ezeh shoots into the backfield on a run blitz, where the fullback submarines him. Johnson has hopped inside the tackle and lunges at Mendenhall's feet; he takes a hop step and dodges it. Johnson(+1), prone, latches onto his foot, but just before the cavalry convenes he squirts free and takes off downfield for ten yards. I have to hand out some demerit somewhere, and this one goes to Englemon(-1), who overran the play and gave up that cutback lane when there was no need to rush to an area two players had covered.|
|Benn motions into the backfield, but Juice just sets up to throw. He has all day (pressure -1), finally coming down to a little stop route in front of Trent. Good coverage(+1) elsewhere.|
|Illinois pulls a tackle around to attack a fairly large gap between the weakside tackle, lined up almost over the center, and end, who's outside the tackle. Taylor(-1) is blown back; Ezeh does not read the play quickly enough and eats the pulling OL as the LG slides off on Graham. Mendenhall bursts through the line and drags Crable, tracking back, for four extra yards.|
|M8||1||G||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||8||Zone read handoff|
|Pure zone left from a shotgun formation here. Crable(-1) cedes the corner; Warren(-1) reads this late and gets out of position as this nears the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 3-14, 10 min 2nd Q. A frustrating ground-based drive that features... what? Three first down passes? None of these were exactly brilliant but they kept the defense off balance and put Williams in a place he could succeed. I also love the zone read where they loose a defensive tackle who's unlikely to be as well versed in containment as the defensive ends; sure enough Ferrara bites and Illinois gets a big chunk of yards on an impressive touchdown drive.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Both CGraham(+1) and Ezeh(+1) finally get the picture, leaping forward before the second-level blockers can get out on them and stuffing this in the intended hole.|
|O35||2||10||I-Form 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||8||Rollout scramble|
|Play action to Mendenhall and then an escorted rollout for Williams. He can't find anyone (cover +1); Jamison is all alone out there and manages to keep Juice inside, a small victory, despite having to deal with a blocker. Ezeh(-1) waited too long on the fake, allowing the scramble, but did recover well enough to make a tackle downfield. Managed to not get suckered by a juke and made a nice open field tackle.|
|O43||3||2||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read keeper|
|Same zone read that Juice picked up 23 on the last drive with the intent being an unblocked, suckered DT; we stunt, however. Taylor(+1) comes around after blowing up the center and holds contain; Johnson(+1) has beaten the pulling guard to his spot and the two of them have Juice boxed in for no gain.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 6 min 2nd Q.|
|This kind of looks like a bad throw, but I don't know that it was. Harrison(+1) was actually running this route better than the WR; if this is accurate he has a shot at a pick. As it is, Juice has to throw it well behind the WR, who drops a very touch catch. (Cover +1)|
|Ezeh(+1) reads this and should have it dead to rights but Mendenhall makes a great play to get away. Nevertheless, the timing of the play is disrupted and Mendenhall is swarmed under by defenders. Illinois allows the half to run out.|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 17-14, EOH.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||13||Zone read handoff|
|Mendenhall motions into the backfield; triple option look; they hand off to the dive guy. Awful play from both linebackers; CGraham(-1) gets lost way outside where Crable and Warren have hopped on the option; Ezeh(-1) is hesitant and gets clubbed out of the play by an OL. DT twist leaves both guys out of position and there's a major hole.|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||20||Zone read PA|
|Same motion, same triple option action, but Juice pulls it out and sets up to throw. Both LBs are sucked up; huge hole between levels in the zone. Ezeh recovers a bit, getting in the throwing land, but the pass glances off his helmet and is completed anyway. (Cover -2, pressure -1)|
|Michigan blitzes into this, forcing a quick pitch. As soon as that happens, Harrison(+1) comes up to fill, taking on the fullback and forcing Mendenhall back inside, where Crable(+1) has come all the way from the backside to tackle.|
|M30||2||11||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Stop|
|The 3-3-5 with much smaller DL gaps; we blitz ineffectively out of this (pressure -1) and our LBs open a big hole in the middle of the zone (cover -1); we again are flying out on these flare routes. Juice finds a guy for near first down yardage. He drops an easy pass.|
|M30||3||11||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Deep cross|
|Another delayed blitz, this one sort of effective as Juice can't find anyone. (Cover +1). He rolls out, pulling up to airmail a ball out of the corner of the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG (47), 10 min 3rd Q.|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||-6||Zone read option|
|McGee in. They finally go with the option they've been threatening; Harrison(+1), blitzing, shoots into the backfield and tackles Williams before he can even think about pitching â€“ pitch was probably going to be covered by Adams anyway.|
|O23||2||16||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||9||Screen|
|CGraham is in man here and Mendenhall is his responsibility. He cuts through some blockers adeptly, then flies right past Mendenhall. Overrun, thy name is Graham(-1). Adams comes in and makes a valiant attempt but fa
ils; Taylor(+1) backtracks impressively and grabs Mendenhall by the ankles. Mendenhall did make a sweet move to juke Graham.
|BGraham(+1), at DT, shoots past a guard and gets immediate pressure on McGee, who scrambles out. (Pressure +1) Crable chases but can't catch him; Will Johnson(-1) overruns it. Where are our linebackers?|
|Taylor(-1) bowled over, making this a huge hole; CGraham(-1) blocked out of the play. Ezeh attempts to close it down but is a step slow.|
|Thompson(-1) returns for the first time in a while; his first contribution is getting blown out of the hole by a fullback, allowing Mendendhall another first down run. Adams(-1) also got himself out of position.|
|M27||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Bubble screen|
|Trent's(+1) playing off but does a pretty good job of closing this down.|
|M23||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Run||2||FB Dive|
|Option fake to the outside; we miss a portion of this play for an ESPN logo. Taylor(+1) gets off a block to close it down after a short gain.|
|M21||3||4||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Option fake outside; Thompson(+2) slices up before the OL can get a hand on him and tackles in the backfield.|
|Drive Notes: FG(38), 17-17, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|O4||1||10||I-Form Big||4-4 Goalline||Run||3||Iso|
|CGraham(+1) fills the hole, standing up the FB, but eventually gets pushed back; Mendenhall peels off and pushes for a few.|
|CGraham(-1), blitzing as Michigan brings up Adams for a seventh man in the box, takes on the fullback with one shoulder, gets blocked out of the hole, and cedes major yardage to Mendenhall.|
|O14||3||In||I-Form Big||4-4 Goal line||Run||7||Iso|
|Weil picks out a hole on the backside that has two Michigan defenders, Adams and Ezeh(-1) defending it; Ezeh lets Mendenhall slide inside of him and through without so much as slowing down. Englemon comes over to make a saving tackle or this is a 86 yard touchdown.|
|O21||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc + 15||Fly|
|Do you bash Trent for letting this guy get way, way behind him or praise him for having the recovery speed to come back and timing to break this play up? I don't know. If this is thrown longer it's a touchdown, but it's already a 40-yard pass. Trent -1, cover -1, instead of the larger numbers this would have been without the recovery speed. Jamison(-1) with a personal foul.|
|Again they hit a guy in the zone after our LBs vacate for a flare route. Warren tackles immediately.|
|I assume McGee threw this away because he didn't find anyone open. (Cover +1)|
|O41||3||5||I-Form 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||1||Option|
|Jamison(+1) gets a good push, forcing an early pitch or cut up decision from McGee; he decides to cut up. Ezeh(+1) shoots through a couple blockers and tackles.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-17, 13 min 4th Q.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read handoff|
|CGraham(-1) blocked out by the fullback again, paving the way for Mendenhall. Englemon closes down.|
|Williams has time; can't find anyone. (Cover +1). He starts flushing as BGraham(+1) comes around the corner; Crable(+1), coming around the other corner, watches and strips the ball from behind as Juice exits the pocket. (Pressure +1). The Illinois OL falls on it.|
|Pocket holds for Juice, though IMO Jamison is held here and would otherwise be busy sacking the QB. Juice wings it over the head of an open receiver (cover -1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-17, 6 min 4th Q.|
|Time(pressure -1), Benn open on a deep post (cover -1); thrown behind and incomplete.|
|Ezeh(-1) and Harrison(-1) read this late; there's no one even close as Mendenhall catches the ball except Trent, who has to keep outside contain.|
|McGee with epic time but no one open (pressure -2, cover +2). He eventually tosses it OOB.|
|In front of Trent; immediate tackle. Fine given score and time.|
|O33||3||1||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||8 (pen)||Slant|
|Ooooh, I don't know about this. To me, this looks excellently timed and not deserving of a flag. (+1, cover +1) Oh. They called it on Harrison... who, yeah, got Benn, as this slant could have been caught by either of two receivers. (-1 Harrison)|
|Good coverage(+1) causes McGee to dump it into the stands. Warren(+1) again.|
|Englemon(+1) jumps up, but gets juked. Mendenhall manages to trip up over his feet... a little lucky.|
|O46||3||7||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Throwaway|
|Illinois has put all its eggs in a thre
e step drop slant that Ezeh(+1) covers(+1) excellently. By the time he comes off to another receiver Illinois' attempted cut blocks have been defeated and Crable(+1) is crushing McGee.
|O46||4||7||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Post|
|Benn open (cover -1); thrown behind him.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, 27-17, 2 min 4th Q. Yeah, Warren(+1) runs a fly route and picks off a ball on the lone Illinois play on their final possession, but the game is over here; charting ceases.|
Are you still Mr. Grumpypants?
A little, since visions of Chris Wells doing virtually the same thing Mendenhall did except 30 times instead of 18 dance through my head. Michigan did its share of good things in this game, but many of the Illinois drives were stopped because of the Illini's inherent Juice-ness (or McGee-ness) and can't really be credited to the Michigan defense. That's a logical strategy when you oppose Illinois, I suppose, but it's hard to get excited about it. At this point in the season I'm looking for reasons we will lose or win against Ohio State; this was sort of a non-event in that calculus.
Aw, come on.
Okay, okay. This game does represent a large step forward for the defense compared to the Appalachian State game, as one touchdown drive was a 30-yarder after a long kick return and there was no turnover blizzard to stop Illinois drives before fourth down rolled around. Michigan's safeties are playing at a level we haven't seen in a long time, the cornerbacks have progressed into a strength, and against teams with non-mobile quarterbacks Michigan has been a pass rushing terror. It's a pretty good defense at this point in the year; given Oregon's spectacular demolition of all comers only The Horror stands out as a bad outing. Ron English may be placed on his pedestal once again. Just ignore that ugly crack in the base.
|B. Graham||3||1||2||Not much time with Crable a constant fixture.|
|Ferrara||-||2||-2||Only play of note was the zone read.|
|Thompson||2||1||1||Finally returned; appears to have lost his starting job.|
|Ezeh||5||3||2||Mildly surprised this is positive; don't think he's that much better than CGraham at this point.|
|C. Graham||4||6||-2||Got owned by the Illinois fullback.|
|Harrison||5||2||3||Was excellent on the rare occasions Illinois ran the option.|
|Englemon||2||1||1||The Englemon: 2-1-1.|
|"Pressure"||3||9||-6||Worst day of the year in this category, likely because of contain paranoia.|
|"Coverage"||15||10||5||Excellent day that should offset the fairly meh numbers from the secondary above.|
It often happens that when Michigan is more concerned with a quarterback's legs than his arm the pressure suffers as blitzing is replaced with zone coverage and stunts are replaced with an emphasis on containment. It did pretty well.
Crable was all over the field. His speed at defensive end was extremely useful on zone reads, options, and just plain chasin'; against more dangerous running quarterbacks he never plunged inside on the zone read.
Also, Brandon Harrison was a key actor on the rare occasions Illinois ran the option, shooting into the backfield, but responsible like, on a number of plays that ended up as TFLs.
The secondary as a whole deserves credit for missing few tackles and registering a +5 coverage metric even though Illinois quarterbacks had a lot of time to throw.
Our linebacker play is just not good. Ezeh, like Steve Schilling (who will come in for a tsk-tsk-ing in the offensive UFR), has the dual excuses of youth and position switches; Chris Graham does not. At this point it's not awful, but neither player beat a run block to make a play all game and there were only a couple instances where either one managed to avoid a block and make a play at or around the line of scrimmage. Michigan did an excellent job of containing the outside run with Harrison and Crable, leaving in the inside to the DTs and the LBs. Mendenhall won that battle more often than not and it was only excellent tackling by the secondary that kept him from having a truly prodigious day. (Colin has much more on this in his own niche UFR thing focusing on Ezeh and Graham.)
Also: Taylor and Johnson weren't much more effective against the zone read than they were in the first week of the season. Taylor did make a couple plays, but +2 is a weak day for a DT playing against a lot of interior run plays.
What does it mean for Minnesota?
Hopefully as little as anything else does against what may be the worst BCS team
in the country. Minnesota's offense has been decent so far this year and they run the dread spread, but their redshirt freshman quarterback has been an interception machine. The defenses they've opposed so far are Ohio State and a bunch of slack-jawed yokels; Michigan is closer to the former than the latter these days and should do better than the 20 Indiana gave up.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Ohio State retains its first place standing in the wake of USF's loss but picks up little ground overall, as it appears most of the USF voters went for LSU when given the option. It will be interesting to see if there are defectors should OSU roll into Happy Valley and win this weekend.
Elsewhere it's mostly the usual: win and slide up as other lose around you. Voters do seem to be coming around on the general uselessness of Hawaii's opponents, sliding the Warriors three spots after yet another narrow victory against a team most BCS squads would thoroughly beat.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- Too many LSU votes to consider it "wack," but our Arizona State outlier is still Boi From Troy.
- Rocky Top Talk... uh... WTF? First: Oregon #13 is four spots worse than any other pollster. Second: boosting Hawaii from #25 to #8 after Hawaii's stirring one-touchdown victory over 3-5 San Jose State?
- Speaking of Hawaii: there is but one other top-ten vote for the Warriors this week, this a #10 from Bruins Nation. I've made my position re: Hawaii and their horrible awful very bad schedule that should eliminate them from serious consideration many times, so I'll skip it.
- This might be an excise in rank homerism, but so be it: EDSBS omits Michigan but ranks Penn State #14 (which is pretty wack all by itself; the next most enthusiastic Penn State voter has them #17) and Illinois #25; both these teams have lost to Michigan and have equal or, in the case of Illinois, worse records than the Wolverines. Obligatory yes, but they lost to Appalachian State goes here.
- This week's preferred bout of rank AP-ism appears to be West Virginia over South Florida, which happened on so many ballots that it's impossible to call out the perpetrators and, indeed, actually made it into the poll itself, where WVU sits #9 and USF #10.
- Eagle In Atlanta is highly enthusiastic about #9 Virginia.
- The most popular places to put USC: #10, #12, and #13; no one voted them #11.
- Hey Jenny Slater loves the Rutgers (#14); next most enthusiastic voter has them #17.
- Boi From Troy ranks Ohio State #9 and Michigan #12; both are outliers but in opposite directions.
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.
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 Boi From Troy for the second straight week.
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.
The CK Award had an impossible job last week: lead Notre Dame to victory. As mentioned, there isn't a dire annoying-pundit-based college football poll award on the planet that can propel Notre Dame to victory against USC. But Boi From Troy helpfully provides a second chance for the CK Award to wreak havoc, as he still ranks the heretofore struggling Trojans #5 just in time for the Oregon game.
For the third straight week, a USC blogger wins this category, but this time it's not Jonathan Tu but rather Conquest Chronicles. Can this self-flagellation combat the dire power of the CK Award? Probably not, but we'll find out this weekend. Also, you can file the pessimism of the next two voters, both Georgia bloggers, under the heading of "maybe they know something we don't."
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 a tie this week between the aforementioned Rocky Top Talk, they of the enormous bumps for VT and Hawaii for no particular reason, and Jonathan Tu of 82 Sluggo Win, who just seriously recalibrated a bunch of stuff, most notably returning to something resembling sanity (== poll consensus) on USC.
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Mr. Stubborn is WVU blog Bastard Sons of Pinfall Marks despite their total omission of Arizona State from last week's ballot -- repaired -- and a few other wild moves. Swingy week, this.
Ballot. If Peter Bean is wondering why such a large gap between Texas and Michigan, it's because claiming a "Tier II" win over a 1-3 Mountain West team is laughable, man. Pure bush-league psychout stuff.