there would have to be some to wash away
Okay, I've finally reached my rumor tipping point on a possible injury.
It's very likely that Tim Massaquoi is out for Notre Dame and possibly a long while afterward... like the season. Possibly a wrist injury. Michigan internets are also in some hardcore panic (yo) about the possibility of both Hart and Kolodziej also being out, but my read on the situation is that those rumors are probably false.
If Massaquoi is inded hurt Tyler Ecker will step forward and promising freshman Mike Massey will start getting more extensive playing time. Though Ecker is certainly capable, a Massaquoi loss will affect the offense as there were quite a few two tight ends sets being run against NIU. We may see more FB or three WR sets from here on out unless Massey really asserts himself.
Robocop is certainly taking some hits.
(Voters left behind, get them in by EOD and I'll re-run the poll-gram). UPDATE: Caught the stragglers; voting is closed.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
The BlogPoll again mirrors the other polls by moving Michigan up to third and punishing Tennessee for a squeaker win over UAB. Somewhat disappointed that the poll didn't take into account the widespread trepidation of Michi-bloggers, which will come into stark relief in mere moments.
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.
Heismanpundit, pissed off that he couldn't vote Boise in the top ten, sat this week out, so Mr. Bold will find a new home. Last week's second place Mr. Bold, TrojanWire, revamped his ballot extensively and has come more in line with the poll as a whole, so seriously space-cadet ballots are absent this week. Fresno blogger MDG is this week's Mr. Bold. Why? Well, Texas #6, Alabama #11, Louisville #24, and a lot of disagreement towards the bottom of his ballot. MDG: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to convince us about 'Bama and Louisville.
Update: Wack ballots flow in late! EDSBS steals the Mr. Bold crown at the last second by going completely flapjack nuts about early winners GT (#8), TCU (#13), Clemson (#17) and Wisconsin(#18) and seriously downgrading anyone who blinked the first week (Tennessee, Michigan, Louisville, Florida, both halves of the Miami/FSU monstrosity). One question, though... what did Purdue do to deserve a henious drop from #18 to #25 on their off week?
Mr. Numb Existence is My Opinion On Sports, who didn't like Ron New Mexico's performance against NC State, dropping the Hokies from #2 to #6. Tough week for MOOS. An Oklahoma fan, he had to find a place to put OU after the TCU game and came up with #19.
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 second winner of The CK Awards is poll newbie Buffs.tv for placing Colorado at #19, which isn't too nuts, but the ceremonial "your team" spot is traditionally #25. Of greater interest is Buffs.tv's stubborn Bronco-love: Boise State checks in at #20. Leading theory is that it's a tribute to John Elway.
Update: Unsurprisingly, The Enlightened Spartan maintained his death grip on this thing. Spartans (absent from the poll at large) at #15.
Unsurprisingly, the winner of the Straight Bangin' Award is Straight Bangin'... again! We named it after him for a reason, but this week the pessimism is shared--to a lesser extent, natch--by three additional Michigan bloggers down on the team after the uninspiring defensive performance against Northern Illinois. The heavy Wolverine tilt to the poll seems to be keeping the man down, as it were.
"Swing" ratings coming when, uh, they work. Update:Which is now! Swing is essentially 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.
No snarky comments, just trying to get this up:
The OZone's Michigan Monday is up. Yes, it's Wednesday, yes that means I'm late. Shut up. It's always interesting as an outsider perspective on the team. Only one major quibble: Orr says that the third quarter interception hit a receiver's helmet (it was deflected by Massey) and that the recipient was Darnell Hood (it was Hall).
That must have been a hell of a phone call. Dan Connor's "indefinite" suspension, previously dismissed in this space as a slap on the wrist, may be a serious situation after all. Connor did not play against USF and the decision on his return may not be up to Paterno:
The decision when, and if, Penn State sophomore outside linebacker Dan Connor plays this season may not be made by Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno.
Connor, who has been suspended indefinitely by Paterno for his role in a series of prank phone calls to a former member of the PSU program, also is being investigated by the university's Office of Judicial Affairs.
(Emphasis mine.) 50YL mentions that there's been some rumor of Connor redshirting. Did Connor threaten someone? Your standard heavy breathing probably wouldn't warrant this sort of punishment. Center EZ Smith is expected to return for the Cincinnati game which, given the Bearcats' performance against Eastern, should be a walkover.
We're #3? Okay, if you say so. Yup, #3 in both polls after Tennessee's 17-10 win against UAB bumped them down a few notches, a good example of people just checking the score and not going deeper that the BlogPoll would never, ever... what? We've got Michigan #3, too? Goddammit. Cut!
You probably already know this but Trev Alberts is FIIIIRED. I'm about to blow every ounce of my hard-earned blogosphere cred, but I think I'm actually unhappy about this. A few years ago when he debuted I hated him, often resorting to the classic Kids In The Hall "I am crushing you" finger-pinch tactic to pass the time while he yammered on nonsensically while rhythmically stroking the giant, turgid stalk of corn he carries with him everywhere, but a funny thing happened. Over time I stopped despising him. I transferred most of my ill-will to Pac-10 sycophant, general frontrunner, and weak-ass goatee sporter Mark May because Trev turned himself into a strange combination of utter ludicrosity and actually quite insightful things. Sure, it was usually two to one in favor of the ludicrosity, but hey, we're talking about ESPN here, you take what you can get.
Credibility says bye bye bye
It was probably no coincidence that my Trev-tolerance skyrocketed at about the same time Nebraska stopped seriously contending for anything other than the title of least worst team in the Big Twelve North, but nonetheless I imagine that whatever replaces Trev may quickly make us wistful for the good old days of Nowledge. Which washed up boy-band member will it be?
OMG I AM FAMOUS. Brief mention of the blog and the poll in the Mercury News. Also plugged are EDSBS ("might be the funniest site"... grrr), BGS, and Fanblogs. I plan on letting this get to my head and embarking on an epic cocaine binge sometime after the OSU game.
You ran like dickens
Stole a frozen autumn day
But you still suck, Troy
Fly, Stevie Wonder
They grasp but do not catch you
Go, the zone of ends
Weis E. Coyote
Quite an impressive debut
You are still muy fat*
(this originally said "very fat," which means I can't count.)
|1||10||O6||Rush||-1||Woodley drives his man into the backfield, Graham bursts into his blocker, run is blown up and strung out.|
|2||11||O5||Rush||16||Draw, Van Alstyne loses outside contain, linebackers sucked in (McClintock most responsbile)|
|1||10||O23||Rush||7||Designed inside run, Wolfe bounces it outside when Woodley and Graham both get sucked inside. This is a running theme: two guys take one hole. (GROSS!!!) Also of note: Massey is getting crumpled|
|2||3||O30||Pass||8||Hole in zone, quick drop. No pass rush opp. Another theme: Michigan just lets NIU throw most of the day.|
|1||10||O38||Pass||7||zone dumpoff to Wolfe, 4 man rush. Massey doubled.|
|2||3||O45||Run||2||crack it right up the middle between the tackles. No push.|
|1||10||O48||Pass||6||Woodley pressure forces outlet, zone again|
|2||4||M46||Pass||10||too easy! No one even close to him with this stupid zone! Who is this jerry rice?|
|1||10||M24||Run||-2||Crable blitzes right into the run but completely overruns Wolfe and lets him escape, Graham shows good speed to close him down|
|2||12||M26||Pass||13||Slant into the soft spot of the same zone they've run every play this drive save for the last blitz, Mason very passive|
|1||10||M13||Run||1||Nice play by Van Alstyne, driving his man back a yard or two and coming off to make the tackle|
|2||9||M12||Pass||5||Another blitz of the LB covering the slot receiver. Horvath bails and throws the short route, Hall stumbles on his break or this would have been a two yard gain|
|3||4||M7||Pass||Inc||Horvath just misthrows a fade. Coverage looked pretty good.|
|Drive notes: bleah. I noticed that when Michigan didn't play the obvious soft zone they had better results. Also NIU spent a lot of time doubling Massey and letting Watson go single blocked.|
|1||10||O20||Run||4||NIU uses watson's momentum to take himself out of play.|
|2||6||O24||Run||76||YARDS AFTER MUNDY: 76.|
|Drive notes: Great. The big play is designed to get inside but that's pretty well jammed up. Grant Mason gets bitched by the NIU tight end on the short side of the field (great play design there, why don't you just put a huge blinking sign that says RUN HERE on the field?), and Mundy screams up from safety INSIDE of the contain-losing Mason. Wolfe bounces it out and Mundy gets a windsprint for his troubles.I can't track substitutions very well on network TV but being there in person I don't think Mundy saw any time after this performance. Brandon Harrison starts by midseason?|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Inc||This is the near-int for Burgess. Watson is the guy who hits Horvath's arm.|
|2||10||O20||Run||0||In a 2 WR set now, this one is also eaten by Watson. Single blocked, he holds.|
|3||10||O20||Pass||Inc||Horvath eats Massey. Would have taken a great throw to fit the ball in there.|
|Drive notes: OMG A PUNT. Three straight plays from the DTs.|
|1||10||O32||Run||8||Ugh. Massey and Woodley are waiting on either side of a tackle. AJ Harris jukes up into the hole, sucking Woodley inside, and then bounces it back out for a nice gain. This should have been 2nd and 10. Note: no back seven support.|
|2||2||O40||Pass||15 + 15||Late hit from Woodley, very tenuous call.|
|1||10||M30||Pass||13||Shovel pass to Wolfe. Engelmon forces a fumble. Just the perfect call on for the defense, which was blitzing. The screen goes to the exact spot the blitz vacates. Not actually angry about this one. Good play by Engelmon.|
|Drive notes: A lot of yards here but not that bad in retrospect. The screen was the perfect call for the defense and if Woodley trusts someone to be inside there the first play gets stuffed. Things like that are fixable. Hopefully.|
|1||10||O20||Run||8||Massey gets doubled by the RT and RG and completely crumples under the pressure. A single blocked Watson drives his man three yards backwards but Wolfe nimbly avoids him and scoots up into the gaping hole between the two DTs.|
|2||2||O28||Run||7||Barringer moves up into the box and loses outside contain on Wolfe.|
|1||10||O35||Pass||9||Half rollout to Woodley's side, who kills Horvath, but the zone is open again.|
|2||1||O44||Run||8||Watson gets moved out, Massey crumples, Graham gets buried.|
|1||10||M46||Run||8||Wolfe bounces a desinged interior run outsdie. Burgess loses contain. Engelmon loses contain. I cannot describe how disturbing it is to see single blocked Watson get his ass kicked on this play.|
|2||2||M38||Pass||20||Seam route to the TE. Always there if you play the exact same coverage like we do. Actually a really nice throw by Horvath. McClintock was in pretty decent position.|
|1||20||M28||Pass||10||Rollout again. Quick pass to a really, really vacant part of the zone. There are never any defenders anywhere near NIU players on pass plays.|
|2||10||M18||Pass||Inc||Rollout to the other side, Horvath throws it away. Hall w/ the coverage.|
|3||10||M18||Pass||Inc||Plenty of time for Horvath, but there's no one open.|
|Drive notes: This thing is freaking scary. Our DL is largely responsible for a series of gashing NIU runs and the only thing that stops the drive is a holding penalty.|
|1||10||O10||Run||19||Everyone gets blocked. McClintock gets wasted.|
|1||10||O29||Run||3||Massey is again crushed to the ground. Watson gets a push and forces Wolfe to bounce it outside where, miraculously, someone is waiting.|
|2||7||O32||Pass||4||Fumble recovered by Engelmon. Fortunate force as Burgess' helmet just happens to hit the right exact spot accidentally.|
|Drive notes: Only the one bad play, but man, there's no easy fix for that one.|
|1||10||O2||Run||-1||Nice standup stuff-and-go-back tackle by Graham here. Also notable that Watson crushes his guy into the endzone.|
|2||11||O1||Pass||10||Again exploiting the same zone.|
|1||10||O12||Run||2||Woodley holds the corner well enough on this sweep to force the runner back inside. McClintock makes the tackle.|
|2||8||O14||Pass||Inc||Loopy, weak throw from Horvath allows Hall to close and actually make a play on the ball. Only one all day.|
|3||8||O14||Pass||Int||Massey tips the ball, Hall picks it off.|
|Drive notes: this is actually not a crappy performance.|
|1||10||O25||Penalty||Holding||caused by Woodley owning the tackle.|
|1||20||O15||Pass||Inc||Same shovel pass that led to a fumble, but Horvath throws it too low. Looked better defended this time.|
|2||20||O15||Pass||27||Three man rush with a useless blitz from Burgess on the corner. Stupid zone.|
|1||10||O42||Pass||-6||Woodley sack, strip, and recovery. XOXOXO Lamarr|
|Drive notes: Woodley has lost contain a few times but he's consistently making plays at this point, including this huge one. He gets a gold star.|
|1||10||O20||Run||0||Really, really nice play by Woodley, driving his man into one of the sweep blockers and fouling the whole thing up.|
|2||10||O20||Pass/Penalty||Interference on Mason, actual man coverage! Dunno about the call.|
|1||10||O26||Run||0||Nice play by Branch and Johnson.|
|2||10||O26||Pass||19||Linebackers get sucked in by play action and the TE is wiiide open.|
|1||10||O45||Run||3||Thompson slices into the backfield but gets blocked at the last second. Good instincts.|
|2||7||O48||Pass||12||Blitz sent and Horvath finds the uncovered back out of the backfield.|
|1||10||M40||Run||1||A good play by Watson. Thompson again finds himself in disruptive position and helps shut the play down.|
|2||9||M39||Pass||7||Play action does some more sucking. Thompson recovers decently.|
|3||2||M32||Run||12||Burgess loses contain in a giant, terrible way. McClintock is also seemingly responsible.|
|1||10||M16||Run||6||Branch just runs himself way, way out of the play, opening up a huge gap.|
|2||4||M10||Run||3||Again a contain issue, as the middle is pretty well jammed up.|
|3||1||M7||Run||3||Sneak. Taylor gets smacked backwards.|
|1||G||M4||Run||4||Taylor holds his ground and should make the tackle at the line but gets bowled over and Harris scores.|
|Drive Notes: A garbage time drive but I charted it anyway just to see, since the starters played a portion of it. Thompson looked much better than McClintock in his brief time, though he was victimized by play action twice. Taylor got a rude introduction to college.|
Well... I don't think the performance was as total a disaster as I did before I saw the tape. Still bad, certainly. An asteroid impact moment, no.
Individuals: The clear A1 defensive star of the game was Woodley, who only had one big play that showed up on the stat sheet--the sack/strip/recovery--but caused a holding call, hurried Horvath regularly (when he held the ball long enough to be hurried), and was decent against the run. He had some contain issues, just like everyone else, but overall he was a net positive. Chris Graham also did well. Engelmon seemed capable.
Despite Carr's outrage at Watson, I thought he did all right. A lot of NIU's yards came from bouncing outside on stuff runs up the middle and most of the yards on the interior came when Watson was crushing his man upfield save for a smattering of "I'm fat and tired" examples.
Goat of the game is either Massey or McClintock, unless you really want to hammer Mundy for his usual giant play ceded. Massey kept getting doubled and crushed. McClintock did almost nothing good all day. John Thompson had more positive impact in one garbage time drive than McClintock did all day. Burgess wasn't particularly good, either, losing contain regularly.
Vs NIU Passing: Hardly even tried to defend it until NIU made it to the red zone, at which point things tightened up and Horvath couldn't find any receivers. I wouldn't put any stock into this performance--Michigan tipped its coverage before every play and only blitzed occasionally from fairly obvious places. Quinn will not get the same kid gloves.
Vs NIU Running: Vastly concerning. I have a crazy theory: NIU decided they were going to single block Watson a lot and double Massey. Massey simply can't handle double teams and crumples to the ground. Meanwhile, the guy blocking Watson just sort of has to pilot him a little bit away from the play and viola, there's a big hole for Wolfe. Can others repeat this tactic? If they have a nimble back with excellent vision, probably, though I doubt there are many backs as nimble as Wolfe around. What I saw of Darius Walker, though, indicates that he's got the requisite ability to exploit our problems with containment and gap integrity. Unless we get this fixed we have issues, especially if McClintock doesn't perform any better.
The good news is that NIU is not a CMU-like pushover opponent: they've consistently proven a tough nut for BCS teams to crack and they run like that against everyone. There's NFL talent on the line for the Huskies. I think that the run defense is going to be significantly better than it was--when you return the linchpin of your fierce conventional run D from a year ago it's unlikely to get a huge dropoff--but clearly there are major issues with the linebackers.
Grade: D+, with a special note to the parents that says "Timmah has potential if he just tries harder."
I am accepting feedback on this thing before I submit it towards the end of the day. I'm open for your input on just about everybody. Suggest away.
|1||Southern Cal||They did give up a ton of yards to the Fightin' Rainbows.|
|3||Georgia||Partially thanks for a really, really fun weekend in the blogosphere, but if UGA gets the Shocker to play like that on a weekly basis, look out.|
|4||LSU||Lost to Katrina.|
|5||Ohio State||This polling thing isn't fun anymore.|
|7||Virginia Tech||I'm not much of a Vick believer; NC State way outgained them in total offense.|
|8||Michigan||Offense is a machine. Defense is very concerning.|
|9||Tennesee||7 points over UAB? At least you're not Oklahoma.|
|10||Iowa||Starters out 20 minutes in.|
|11||Florida||Meyer finds out that Leak isn't much of a runner despite being really tan.|
|12||Notre Dame||Most impressive performance of anyone outside of UGA.|
|13||Arizona State||Waxed Temple, as per the contract.|
|14||Louisville||Not impressive against UK.|
|15||NC State||Outplayed VT and offense looks much, much better already with Trestman.|
|16||Boston College||ACC prospects looking up?|
|17||Florida State||Yeah, they won... I guess.|
|18||Miami||I think they'll have a better year despite the FSU loss because Wright alternated great plays with terrible ones instead of just the terrible ones.|
|19||Minnesota||Maroney still good, though Cupito did not look improved at all.|
|20||Georgia Tech||I don't really believe in them but they've got a more impressive scalp than just about anyone not named TCU so far.|
|21||Clemson||Whitehurst for real this time... naw.|
|22||Texas A&M||Dude, go for two.|
|25||TCU||Commenters point out that my poll lacked internal consistency given the vicious Cal-beating if I had OU up here and not the Horned Frogs. Guilty.|
Dropped Out: Cal, Auburn, Bowling Green, Oklahoma
Games I Saw: Michigan-NIU, Miami-FSU, NC State-VT, Houston-Oregon (about half), UW-BGSU(about a third), Boise-Georgia (lingering slow-mo DVR over and over again), Minnesota-Tulsa (about a third, not paying huge attention), ND-Pitt (first half), Arizona-Utah, GT-Auburn (second half), UK-UL(second half).
(thank God for DVR... literally halves the time a game takes, maybe even more if you FF between plays.)
Please fire away in the comments with objections and suggestions.
Update: Commenters point out a lack of consistency in my logic, so I bumped GT up to #20, dropped OU entirely, and TCU enjoys #25.
This will be a regular feature, a twitchingly obsessive play-by-play review of each game. The Yards After Contact/Catch field stopped getting filled in because I got a little overloaded this weekend. Skip to the end if you'd just like some overview:
|2||6||O45||Pass||Avant||Inc||Accurate throw, Avant falls down|
|1||10||O37||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Endzone, Tough diving catch for Breaston but catchable|
|1||G||O4||Pass||Avant||4||TD, beauty fade, beauty catch|
|Drive Notes: Henne does not get a sniff of pressure the entire drive. Henne starts out with 8 passes, all of which are dead on the money except maybe the Breaston bomb, which was still catchable.|
|1||10||M22||Run||Hart||12||2||jukes a guy at 4 yards|
|1||10||M34||Pass||Hart||11||8||slips a tackle at 3 yards|
|2||7||M48||Pass||Hart||Inc||both Hart & Grady on field, NIU sends 6, think Henne just throws it away.|
|3||7||M48||Pass||Avant||18||NIU again blitzes, great great protection, Henne steps up into the pocket. Slick as hail, this play.|
|1||10||O34||Pass||Hart||34||34||Hart popped that mofo! Like boom! Tough Actin' Tinactin!|
|Drive Notes: Es el partido del Hart! Also some good pass protection and Avant. Henne has thrown 12 passes. One was intentionally inaccurate, another was a bomb that slipped between Breaston's fingers.|
|2||5||M34||Pass||Tabb||Inc||possible interference, ball not particularly catchable|
|3||5||M34||Pass||Avant||13||High and behind avant, GREAT catch|
|1||10||M47||Pass||Tabb||11||Fearful of the Tabbspeed, the runoff and stop route is good for a first down|
|1||10||O42||Penalty||False start on Ruben Riley|
|1||15||O47||Run||Hart||4||Could have picked up some more yards, but he was indecisive|
|1||10||O32||Run||Hart||5||This play is helpfully excised from the tape, thanks ABC.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Another shot into the endzone, overthrown by a couple yards, off Breaston's fingertips|
|2||10||O20||Run||Hart||9||double pull on the OL|
|1||G||O10||Penalty||Avant interfered with in the endzone... probably a touchdown without it.|
|Drive notes: Methodical. You can see some Henne inaccuracy. XP blocked... on replay doesn't appear to be Rivas' fault at all. That dude got major penetration.|
|1||10||M42||Pass||Breaston||0||0||Henne stares Breaston down. Coverage is zone here and he should know that from Breaston's motion and find a second option.|
|1||10||O33||Run||Hart||1||Oligbo misses his block and forces Hart to cut into the middle of the defense.|
|2||9||O32||Run||Hart||0||outside sweep predicated on Hart beating the corner, which he doesn't.|
|3||9||O32||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Another shot at the endzone, the one Breaston catches out of bounds by six inches. Better footwork == TD. The throw is fine.|
|Drive notes: Missed FG ends the drive. Tom probably busy shoving needles into his Rivas voodoo doll.|
|1||10||M13||Run||Hart||7||Finally a good block from the fullback (Thompson) springs Hart for a nice gain.|
|2||3||M20||Pass||Massaquoi||6||Massaquoi's third and last catch.|
|1||10||M26||Pass||Hart||0||Avant misses a block, blowing up the screen. It's okay, Jason.|
|2||10||M26||Pass||Avant||17||Rollout to the left, and Henne displays his Elway-level cannon by calmly bulleting one to Avant. A foot farther away from the sideline and this is a lot of running and chasing.|
|1||10||M43||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Bomb to a double-covered Breaston. Breaston did have the corner beat.|
|3||8||M45||Pass||Ecker||inc||Henne finally gets some pressure and badly overthrows Ecker, who probably would have rumbled for the first.|
|Drive Notes: Nice punt. Nice gunning by Hood, fumble, it's Michiball.|
|1< /td>||10||O14||Run||Hart||9||Some Hart magic here.|
|2||1||O5||Run||Hart||4||Makes 3 yards with linebackers draped all over him|
|1||G||O1||Run||Grady||1||Leapy McTouchdown: The Sequel|
|Drive notes: yay.|
|1||10||M24||Run||Hart||2||No real push from the OL.|
|1||10||M38||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Waggle again against the natural flow of Henne's body again. Throws it really low to Mass, should have been a first down.|
|2||10||M38||Run||Hart||8||Nice blocking up front.|
|3||2||M46||Run||Hart||3||Makes this himself.|
|1||10||M49||Pass||Dutch||Inc||Henne throws this away. Breaston's route was clearly supposed to pick Dutch's defender, but the defender avoids it. The play isn't there. Smart decision.|
|2||10||M49||Pass||Avant||11||Easy. Like stealing.|
|1||10||O40||Pass||Breaston||7||Slip screen again.|
|2||3||O33||Run||Grady||14||NIU gets plowed and Grady hits the hole like it's Tina.|
|2||5||O14||Run||Hart||0||WLB is left unblocked on this counter-type thing and makes the tackle in the hole. Possible miscommunication as both Henige and Kraus double the DT on that side.|
|3||5||O14||Run||Hart||4||Again a little bit of a strange design with a LB unblocked.|
|4||1||O11||Run||Grady||0||Dunno. Line push seems to have been okay but a blitzing linebacker vaults the collapsed line and makes a nice play. Grady actually got a yard or two after getting nailed but to no avail.|
|Drive notes: Bo says our tacking is atrocioius, but I haven't seen anyone close enough to miss a tackle.|
|1||10||O37||Run||Grady||13||He used POWER!|
|1||G||O8||Run||Grady||4||Line is smashing them.|
|2||G||O4||Run||Grady||2||Fumble.Bad one, too.|
|Drive notes: This was going swimmingly until the fumble, showcasing Grady. He looks very good, more of a N/S runner than Hart and possibly a little faster. Of course, he's now tied Hart for career fumbles.|
|1||10||O26||Run||Grady||4||This sweep was going to go for at least ten if Grady doesn't get tripped by the turf monster.|
|2||6||O22||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Throws well behind Massaquoi rolling out; his second inaccurate pass on the rollout.|
|3||6||O22||Pass||Dutch||2||Again well behind the receiver. If accurate, Dutch gets the first down easily.|
|Drive notes: some idiot a couple rows behind me was sarcastically accusing Carr of being quote "the field-goal lovingest coach" unquote in football. Don't be that guy.|
|1||10||O23||Pass||Avant||12||Damn that's an impressive throw off balance, unset, rolling to the wrong side.|
|3||4||O5||Pass||No one||Inc||Gutierrez rolls out, no one open, throws OOB.|
|Drive notes: Hello el tiempo del garbage.|
I'm classifying all of Henne's throws this year as one of six categories as seen below:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Dangerous/Bad read||Throwaways||Hit While Throwing/Line Deflected|
The ball deflected by the line was also offsides on NIU so the play does not appear above, and I might have been harsh on Henne by placing the screen pass where Breaston got lit up into the "Dangerous/Bad read" category, but there you go.
That's a very impressive performance and night and day from the opener against Miami (and, honestly, a large portion of last year) when Henne would have probably had 5-6 dangerous reads a game but usually get away with most of them. Watching the games around the country it was apparent just how decisive and authoritative Henne was. A lot of players got into trouble by hesitating to make sure they had the correct read, but Henne was bang bang bang. If opponents don't get pressure on Henne (and NIU hit him exactly once all day), he and Avant will dissect them.
Any complaints about the lack of passing across the middle are null and void; more than half of Avant's catches were caught 15-20 yards downfield, slicing through the seams in the NIU zone. Complaints about bombing it deep to Breaston and thus nullifying his quickness are null and void. He was ridiculously open on three of four downfield attempts, like two to four yards open, and he got that open by using hestation moves and bursting upfield with that amazing change of direction he has. He's going to be a tough cover for opponents this year. Damned if you do, damned if you don't with him. That was probably one of the most heartening things about the offense: seeing that Breaston clearly had the old voodoo back, even if he was a hair away from making his plays. Now if we can just force someone to punt.
The run game was effective but not explosive unless you count the screens as a part of that. The offense was grindingly consistent, getting 3-5 yards almost every carry, but I still have some concerns about the run blocking of the offensive line and whatever fullbacks they choose to employ. The fourth-and-one stop was no good, but other than that there wasn't a short yardage situation Michigan didn't convert all day. (Also: Lloyd went for it. Thumbs up... just wish he'd made it so he'd be more likely to try it again.) However, there were few gaping-hello-secondary holes that would have allowed Grady/Hart to get somewhere really fast and perhaps break a long one.
The fact that the offense only had one penalty, a false start on Ruben Riley, sums up the general performance of the O: slick, put together, methodical, and unstoppable. The only thing that halt ed Michigan drives were some inaccurate Henne passes and some small trouble on third and short. Notre Dame will probably try to come with a ton of pressure next week. If they don't get to Henne they'll be dead in the water; Michigan will pick their secondary apart. That'll be the key to the Michigan offense in the next game, effectively combating an extensive blitz package. Henne has to make a lot of hot reads and the OL has to pick up blitzes as well as they did against NIU. If those two things happen, expect MOTS from the Michigan offense, except perhaps with more big plays against the more aggressive D--and perhaps a few big plays for ND.