good luck with that
courtesy reader JJ
More of my voice: Brief segment on Sports Bloggers Live where I talk about the
Ryder Cup Michigan's heinous beatdown of Notre Dame.
One last dump of post-ND links before we turn our gaze cheeseward. EDSBS has kind words for Carr in the aftermath of his yoke-lifting BEATDOWN:
Watching Lloyd Carr following his team outclassing Notre Dame was outright moving. A podium; a man looking fresh from a shower, dressed in slightly rumpled clothes, standing in front of flashbulbs, cameras, and the collected eyes of a few hundred people and looking completely and pleasantly dumbfounded at the performance of his team. Carr earned great soul points for his genuine awe at Michigan's game and his player's maxing out their potential in the span of two quarters. It began at the half, when Carr seemed near speechless at his team's piston-blowing execution of the gameplan, and continued through post-game when Carr gave his players and coaches total credit for the masterpiece without a counterfeit sentiment for false note. Carr had the look of a man whose head had been down so long at the yoke he couldn't understand just what he'd plowed through to get there. To see that, a 62 year old stunned by the effort and commitment of a crew of 18-22 year olds on his behalf, had to warm even the most grizzled and Lloyd Carrish of hearts.
I wanted to cut bits of it so you could RTWT over there but what to slash? Would be a sin. So I must tease you thus: hilarious Manningham bit and reference to fictional "March of the Victors" song.
From the scene:
The O-Zone's Michigan Monday has been given a bit of pause:
I can sit here and tell you that they've been impressive where they've wanted to be impressive this season, and you can go ahead and choose to believe that the schedule has had more to do with Michigan's success than Michigan.
I would disagree.
ND "vlog" -- someone really has to do something about that word -- The Extra Point has a couple interesting breakdowns of various plays from the game in depressed-Domer fashion. Only one sarcastic swipe at Big Ten refs, even. (Via IBFC. Make sure you check the surprisingly hilarious fake news article captured for posterity, too.)
Personal accounts from Sam @ Blue Cats and Red Sox, Dave @ Tikilounge (complete with Sandwich of Victory), and Tyler Brubaker (featuring MGoBlog shirts in action). Braves & Birds has assorted thoughts as well.
Manningham and Woodley feature at numbers 4 and 5 in the latest MaxwellPundit balloting; Sports Illustrated picked a weird time to publish this baby about how the Dome is golden again and blah blah blah.
Badger Badger Badger: And now, finally, we turn our eyes to Wisconsin. The Journal-Sentinel theorizes that Michigan will pound it between the tackles; the Capital Times of Madison has an article on former Badger and current Wolverine secondary coach Ron Lee.
Etc.: Ohio Stadium's field is looking a lot like Michigan's before the field turf got installed. That's not good. TechCrunch has a fascinating article about a site that collects predictions from random people, finds a subset of them who are significantly more accurate than the populace at large, then offers to sell bettors their collected wisdom.
Sorry for the horrible lateness and thus inability to do the comment-revision thing. I was a little busy creating tributes to Brady Quinn early this week.
Games Seen: Michigan's BEATDOWN of ND, UF-UT, Pitt-MSU (DVR), USC-Nebraska (DVR), Iowa State-Iowa, Ohio State-Cincinnati, WVU-Maryland, bits of BYU-BC, and Auburn-LSU.
- Solid about who the top five are but not so sure of what order they should be in. If I was going by best victory only, UM and OSU would be 1-2, but I'm trying to guess who the best teams are so they aren't.
- Actually not all that sold on USC since Nebraska's game plan against them was ridiculous: line up with three tight ends and run the ball. It was uberLloyd and insane, especially given that last year Nebraska's line was terrible and so was the run game. USC defense must have been laughing the whole game. The only reasonable explanation was that Callahan bet on Nebraska covering the spread and was trying to keep NU's loss to a manageable amount. I'll never hideously overrate a Bill Callahan team again. Frickin' idiot. [/Napoleon Dynamite]
- Yeah: I think Pitt's defense is terrible but the only thing that stopped MSU all game was a series of penalties early. They deserve a spot.
- Funny: apparently Oregon and Oklahoma were 13-14 a week ago; without looking I put them 13-14 this week and switched Oregon above Oklahoma. OU got jobbed hard, but I'm not ready to enter the twilight zone and put the Ducks below the Sooners.
- Apparently I hate Georgia less this week.
- Tennessee moves up three after losing? I guess. A one-point loss to #5 leapt UT over ND, who got BEAT DOWN, and the UO-OU couplet of controversy. I'm fine with it.
- Voting for Rutgers but leaving off Miami and Florida State is awesome.
Some video from IBFC.
|Quinn lets it rip on the first play from scrimmage. Weis is such a genius. It catches us so off guard that Morgan Trent(+2) is in better position than Samarwhatever and can slow up a bit to impede his progress. Throw was vastly long anyway. (IN) Outstanding coverage from Trent. (Coverage +1)|
|O25||2||5||Standard 4-3||Pass||Int||Shallow Cross|
|Doink! Quinn throws it a bit behind Carlson, who blows the catch. Burgess(+1) is Johnny-on-the-spot and rumbles in. I'm not sure how the LT dragging Woodley to the ground isn't holding but whatever. (CA, barely)|
|Drive Notes:: Interception return touchdown, 7-0, 14:19 1st Q. Ha ha. This is going to take forever: I've watched the Burgess return 8... 9 times. Also: the "touchdown" graphic on NBC should NOT be yellow. Gave me a damn heart attack.|
|Taylor(+1) reaches out and hits Quinn's arm as he attempts to throw. Pressure was a little late in coming. (BA)|
|O11||2||10||Standard 4-3||Run||2||Pitch sweep|
|Woodley(+1) disrupts the timing of the play. He's not supposed to be blocked at the line, I guess, but the fullback doesn't turn him inside and the tight end coming in motion never gets there. Crable(+1) converges nicely to limit the gain.|
|Crable(+1) is lined up at DT and provides a straight-ahead pass rush that's sort of unbelievable. He's six-six and chicken-legged but ends up about a foot from Quinn. He leaps to block the passing lane, forcing a double-clutch. Delayed blitzer is Burgess, who crushes Quinn as he releases the ball. Quinn's throw is a moonshot well past Grimes, who was covered tightly by Hall(+1, coverage +1) (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 13 min 1st Q. Three straight plays from the defensive line. No one is open, either.|
|Walker right up the gut. There's a gap between our DTs but the linebackers close and prevent the TD. Good job by Harris(+1).|
|M2||2||G||Goal line||Pass||2||FB Flat|
|Touchdown. A momentary pitch fake freezes Crable inside, then Samarwhatever runs a pick that seals his fate. No actual contact as Crable avoids it, but it was enough to prevent him from recovering.|
|Drive Notes:: Touchdown, 7-7, 10 min 1st Q. "You have to prepare to defend everyone against Charlie Weis." Especially Prescott Burgess. That guy can score.|
|O40||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||5||Pitch sweep|
|Biggs(-1) loses his footing, going to the ground and giving the corner. Burgess gets doubled and driven back. Trent(+1) fights free from a Samarwhatever block and grabs Walker around the angles, helping a filling Mundy to bring him down without trouble. Mundy was very solid on this run play: no YAM.|
|Lamarr Woodley(+1) stunts right past a guard and into the draw.|
|Quinn screws up this simple throw. Probably not going to get the first down anyway. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 6 min 1st Q. They try this swing/dumpoff stuff to Walker a few more times later and each time someone is in his face.|
|TE comes in motion to the middle of the line to provide a lead block. Michigan stunts its way into a cavernous gap in the middle of the line, but Burgess(+1) does well to defeat a block and tackle downfield. Hall assists.|
|Linebackers are playing off, allowing Walker to glide past the LOS without encountering serious resistance. Harris and Burgess take on the blockers and Walker stumbles over the mess a few yards downfield.|
|O16||3||1||Standard 4-3||Run||-2||Off tackle|
|No push whatsoever from the ND line as Will Johnson(+2) and Woodley(+1) drive their men about a yard back. Crable(+1) and Harris(+1) finish him off. Huge play.|
|Drive Notes:: Punt, 20-7, 14 min 2nd Q. How am I supposed to analyze this? They don't have a first down!|
|Quinn could throw this better but it's still in McKnight's hands. He drops it. We were in a zone that's vulnerable to this throw but Hall(+1) was there almost with the ball and probably contributed to the drop. (Coverage +1) (CA)|
|Good blitz design here gets Burgess in unblocked on a stunt, but Quinn has a wide open out of about eight yards which he takes. Zone so can't really blame anyone. No, wait: Morgan Trent is giving Grimes way too much of a cushion (-1, Coverage -1) . You're Morgan Trent! You beat Ted Ginn in a race once! (CA)|
|O39||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||I Dunno|
|This is probably an incorrect route run by the WR, but I really want it to be Quinn panicking about Burgess blitzing again. Not charted. The pass is off by yards.|
|No pressure because Woodley is being flagrantly held... I mean the guard has his hands on Woodley's shoulder pads for a good eight seconds. Great coverage(+2) downfield, though, forces Quinn to dump a ball off to Walker. Morgan Trent(+1) comes up quickly to make a nice open-field tackle. (CA)|
|Good protection is legitimate this time despite two blitzers. Quinn decides to hurl it to Carlson even though Burgess is sitting right on the route. Burgess(+1) deflects the pass, ending the drive. (Coverage +1) (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 27-7, 10 min 2nd Q. Mutter mutter damned Big 10 refs. I start getting paranoid about holding at this point. Later I capture VIDEO EVIDENCE OF BIAS AGAINST MICHIGAN! Stay tuned.|
|Harris is engaged by John Sullivan and can't come off because he's getting bear-hugged. As a result, Walker can slip into a tiny hole between himself and Jamison to gain some yards. Our first "wait, that's an obvious uncalled hold" video.|
|We blitz; Quinn hurls a slant in to Samarwhatever's knees. Adams(+1) was right there to make a tackle, no YAC. (coverage +1, IN)|
|This one to McKnight is better thrown but still not caught. Hall(+1, coverage +1) was right on top of him, making a hit as the ball arrives. This could potentially be interference but no helpful replay is provided. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 27-7, 7 min 2nd Q. It's a conspiracy.|
|O28||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||3||TE Screen|
|Fake screen out to Walker then come back the TE for a screen to the other side. David Harris(+2) comes up and levels Carlson. Crowd goes "oooooh." (CA)|
|Samarwhatever with his first reception. We've rushed four and zoned the first couple plays this drive. (Coverage -1, CA)|
|O37||3||1||3-3-5 Stack||Run||2||QB Sneak|
|Hey, they got a first down.|
|O39||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||15||Deep out|
|One blitzer. I'm pretty sure Jamison is held on this play, as he makes a move to the inside, seems to have a clear path, and suddenly jerks to a halt. Anyway. No pressure and an accurate throw. (CA, coverage -1)|
|One blitzer again. He comes free as he's delayed, but it's too late to prevent the completion (CA, cover -1)|
|We blitz off the corner; Quinn goes to the vacated area and completes a pass in front of Trent. (CA, cover -1)|
|M24||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||20||Deep stop|
|Rush four + zone. Bleah! Lots of time for Quinn until Jamison(+1) gets free and starts chasing â€“ he's held on this play as the tackle hangs on to him far too long â€“ Quinn rolls and hits an open Grimes way down the sideline. (CA, cover -1)|
|Horrible throw is way, way behind Samarwhatever, but he does make this sort of catch and Trent can't recover in time to do anything about it. (IN)|
|Drive Notes:: 34-14, EOH. Well, we didn't stop blitzing entirely but when we did we only blitzed one and he was usually mistimed. I think the bigger issue was the coverage we played behind the blitzers. It seems like we backed off. Before, Michigan players were aggressive, all over the Irish and Quinn found himself freaking out about coverage with frequency. On this drive we try to prevent the big play and don't give our rushers time to do anything.|
|Walker drops a perfectly placed swing pass... and this is obviously a lateral by like two yards. Damn Big Ten refs. (CA)|
|Crable(+1) is knifing through the defense but can't get there in time to prevent the completion to McKnight. Trent in decent position. (CA)|
|Plenty of time, but Branch(+1) knocks the ball down. (BA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-14, 11 min 3rd Q. Should have been a turnover as the lateral bounced to Trent.|
|O26||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||2||Pitch sweep|
|Alan Branch(+2) gets terrific penetration, forcing the play back inside. Could be a TFL for Taylor but he's pushed just a bit off balance and Walker dashes by. Burgess and Trent converge for the tackle.|
|Time for Quinn but he's forced to check down (Coverage +1) to Walker despite Michigan sending a blizter. (It's Mundy.) Harris(+1) is there to tackle Walker for no YAC. Woodley's being doubled. (CA)|
|O30||3||6||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Int||Yakety Sax|
|Branch(+2) again plows his man way back, and bangs Quinn's arm as he throws. It's a popup that Burgess(+1) snags and returns to the five. Hooray Beer. (BA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-14, 7 min 3rd Q. Branch is driving mofos back like they're on one of those ice levels in Mario Bros.|
|Announcers give Remy Hamilton props for his Arena League resume: only on NBC! Crable(+2) bursts right past two blockers and levels Quinn, creating the shot featured in QED. He gets remarkable pass rush from the interior now on these plays â€“ he's been close to doing something like this a couple times â€“ whereas last year he was a one-trick pony: the stunt. (TA)|
|Branch(+1) and Woodley(+1) both occupy two blockers... on a draw! Harris is thus unblocked and reacts quickly to snuff it out. You can see on this play the difference between Harris and Burgess, as Harris reads this play a split-second quicker.|
|McKnight is open deep on this one but Quinn puts it five yards past him. Maybe Biggs'(+1) pass rush got to him? He was getting closed on and maybe didn't have the room to step into the throw. Also : Biggs flagrantly held. (IN, cover -1)|
|Drive Notes:: Punt, 37-14, 4 min 3rd Q. The only reason Brady Quinn isn't eating with a straw today is the Big Ten refs allowed the ND OL to hold all day long. Aren't you supposed to be on our side?|
|Woodley held but no call. Coverage is good (+1) forcing a four-or-five yard dumpoff. Unfortunately, Trent(-1) turns in what I think is the only missed tackle all day and Walker breaks it for a first down. (CA)|
|Again no one open deep. Quinn dumps to Carlson under the zone. Brandon Harrison(+1) makes a nice tackle to prevent YAC. (Cover +1, CA)|
|O37||2||6||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||3 + 15||Swing|
|Little swing pass to Walker is defended well by Crable(+1), who forces him out after a gain of maybe three yards. He gets called for a late hit here that's pretty ridiculous. (CA)|
|Trent(+1, coverage +1) nails Grimes the instant he touches the ball. Other than jumping the route this is as good as you can play this coverage. (CA)|
|They decide not to block Burgess(+1), who plows Quinn as he throws. Quinn could have got this ball off â€“ the impact came after the throw â€“ but is clearly a scared little girl. (IN)|
|You can't cover this any better than Leon Hall(+2, coverage +1) does: step-for-step, right in front of the WR, leaping up to deflect the pass away as it comes. Rhema McKnight hilariously gets up to bitch at the ref after the play is done. McKnight == TO â€“ Talent. (DO)|
|The slip screen catches Michigan so off guard that Brandon Harrison has Smarwhatever for a TFL but misses the tackle. +1 for the read but -2 for the miss. He gets the first down but it's called back because McKnight thinks this is the World Cup and is trying to swap jerseys with Sears. Finally! (CA)|
|M43||4||9||3-3-5 Stack||Penalty||15||Pass Interference|
|Mundy called. This is simultaneous with the ball and a good play, not a penalty, IMO. Ball was way high and probably not going to be caught, anyway. (Cover +1, IN)|
|M28||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||28||Ref Pity|
|I also don't have a problem with Trent's coverage(+1, cover +1) on this play. He's right with McKnight on a a fly route despite being line up right on his nose and is fighting him the whole way down the field. This is marginally PI on Trent not for anything he does with his hands but because he's not looking back for the ball and physically obstructs McKnight at about the five yard line, but these things will happen. McKnight clearly pushes off Trent afterwards, though, and knows it: he leaps up to contest the call, assuming it's against him. Took a miracle for McKnight to catch this ball and you might get away with this pretty often. (CA)|
|Drive Notes:: Touchdown, 40-21, 12 min 4th Q. Two terrible calls on this drive give ND 30 yards and a final one is marginal.|
|Great coverage(+1), Quinn has nowhere to throw. He scrables out as Biggs(+1) gets free. Crable(+2) tracks him down. He's frigging fast.|
|Quinn again can't find anyone and dumps it to Walker. Pass lands at his feet. (IN) (Coverage +1)|
|Impossibly good pass 32 yards down the seam. A rush-four-and-zone play on third and long? Don't like it. But he had to make an impossible throw. (DO)|
|Rush four + zone and McKnight finds himself wide open down the sideline(coverage -2). I think the safety gets him if he catches it, but if he doesn't it's a touchdown. Fortunately for Michigan, McKnight's only talent is bitching at officials and he drops it. (DO)|
|McKnight open on an out. We send Harrison as a blitzer but he's picked up. Trent makes the tackle as the ball is caught. Wish he was in tighter coverage but note that ND has had no opportunites for YAC all day. They catch it and are tackled. (CA)|
|Pressure up the middle from Jamison(+1) forces a checkdown. Nice tackle from Harrison(+1). (CA)|
|Good coverage(+1) forces a rollout when Biggs(+1) looks like he's going to come in on Quinn. Hall(+3, coverage +1) makes a spectacular diving interception.|
|Drive Notes:: Interception, 40-21, 7 min 4th Q.|
|Flagrant hold on Crable. Good coverage(+1) forces a dumpoff for five yards.|
|FRICKIN' FINALLY. Santucci tackles Woodley(+1) and is called for it.|
|Nothing open downfield (coverage +1), checkdown to Walker. Harrison(-1) misses the initial tackle, allowing some YAC.|
|O29||3||5||3-3-5 Stack||Penalty||-5||False Start|
|Plenty of time, no one open(coverage +1). After some more ridiculous holding, this one on Branch, we get pressure and the ball's thrown out of bounds.|
|4 + zone , and plenty of time. Legit this time to Samarwhatever. (CA)|
|McKnight had a step, but the pass is well over his head, robbing him of an opportunity to drop it. (Coverage -1) (IN)|
|Harrison(+1) unblocked off the corner blitz. Quinn hurls it downfield. (TA)|
|O42||3||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||-4 / +15||Sack|
|Brandon Graham(+2) gets great internal pass rush, flushing quinn. Jamison and he combine for a sack, then Van Alstyne like falls on Quinn, drawing a late hit flag. Dumb play.|
|Eugene Germany(+1) gets upfield on his blocker immediately, then is held. No call. Doesn't matter, as Jamison(+2) nails Quinn.|
|Branch(+1) spins away from the ND guard and levels Quinn. Comical summary of day: the guard feebly attempts to stop Branch by grabbing the back of his jersey and pulling. No flag and no stopping the train, either. Resultant throw is a bullet high that Samarwhatever can't catch. (IN)|
|M47||3||15||3-3-5 Stack||Penalty||-10 / +15||Holding|
|Walker draw goes for a first down, but is coming back for holding. The end of the run sees a really bad late hit call on Mundy.|
|M38||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Ha ha||Stooge act|
|WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP! (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble Return Touchdown, 47-21, 3 min 4th Q.|
Well, you have to be careful when comparing a team that's had one game against a top 25 team to one of the greatest defenses in college football history, but damn. Watching it live I thought that Notre Dame had shot themselves in the foot a lot but on tape review there was almost always a reason for their screwups, be it an offensive lineman who's just close enough to Quinn to make his throw uncomfortable or a defensive back who hits the receiver the moment after the ball gets there. Quinn had no time to throw, and even when he did his receivers were covered. That's a double-whammy a defense hardly ever pulls off.
And -- and! -- there was a comical amount of holding going on by Notre Dame offensive linemen. Maybe I'm crazy (we'll discuss that a bit later), but it seemed that almost every Notre Dame pass either featured Michigan pressure or an uncalled hold. They simply could not block Michigan's front four.
By the time the fourth quarter started Notre Dame had something like 118 yards offense. Credit the defense with the short FG and remove ND's four-yard touchdown drive and the defense outscored Notre Dame's vaunted offense. 1997? Not yet. But that was a performance worthy of them.
You've got to be joking: you win by 26 and then complain about the refereeing?
Well... yeah. I wasn't expecting to make a big deal of it -- though I did intend to savage that last touchdown drive of theirs -- but sometime in the second quarter I had seen one too many Michigan player dragged to the ground. Watch the clips above: I don't think any of them are ambiguous. When you get your hands outside an opponent's shoulder pads and grab, that's holding. When you reach out with your arm and yank a player that's beaten you to the ground, that's holding. When you ride Lamarr Woodley around the corner with your arms wrapped around his waist, that's holding.
Add in the two late hit calls, the drive-extending pass interference on fourth down and what probably should have been offsetting pass interference penalties on the McKnight touchdown and there is one inescapable conclusion: a vast nationwide conspiracy against the Michigan football program headed by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney, the Pope, Joe Paterno, and Osama Bin Laden. Well, forces of darkness, I regret to inform you that your feeble attempts to destroy us have failed! Mooohahahaahaahaha!
No, seriously: what do neutral fans out there think? Am I crazy, or are those things all holds and of the variety that have to be called? (The one on Harris is not a surprising no-call to me, what with him in the middle of the line and not able to disengage enough to make it obvious, but the rest seem blatant.) And what about the PI? I hate to go all BWI on these refs, but don't they deserve it?
Pick someone. Pick anyone. If I had to single out the best performers, they'd probably be Alan Branch, Shawn Crable and Leon Hall. Hall had a major hand in what you will see is a ridiculous coverage number; Crable is ridiculous in many ways; Branch was the best defensive lineman by a nose.
Nobody. There was not a single player on the defense who was not at least good. Brandon Harrison missed the occasional tackle, and he was a part of the silly great coverage. That's it.
|Woodley||5||5||Quiet game, possibly because he was held all the time.|
|Taylor||1||1||0||Spent much of the game watching after ND abandoned its run game.|
|Branch||7||7||Please come back as a senior.|
|C. Graham||-||-||Saw a few snaps but not many. Burgess is kind of the starter now.|
|Burgess||5||5||Everyone's going nuts but his big plays were gifted to him. Thought Crable was better by far. Still: not like he was bad or anything.|
|Hall||8||8||Outstanding all day. Don't think there was a pass completed anywhere near him. Crushed Samardzija into little bits.|
|Adams||1||1||Hardly had to do anything.|
|Mundy||-||-||-||Was fine. Possible run/pass platoon with Englemon?|
|Trent||6||2||6||New starter, apparently.|
I noticed some personnel changes.
Yes. Trent started in place of Stewart and Mundy in place of Englemon. Brandon Harrison was the nickel corner, and Jamison got some run with the first team. I think that Michigan might be platooning players the strengths of their opponents: clearly the run-support Stewart was so lauded for was mostly unnecessary, but a tall guy who once beat Ted Ginn in a race is a perfect player to match up with McKnight and Samardzija. Thus Trent. And Mundy is probably the preferred option at free safety for pass coverage given Englemon's bust against CMU and Mundy's dalliance as a nickel corner early this year.
Against Wisconsin's power attack I would expect more of Stewart and Englemon, especially since Trent and Mundy's strong performances didn't buy them anything on the depth chart: both are listed as "or" with their competitors. (Note, however, that Burgess has solidified a starting spot.)
What was the deal with that drive before halftime? That thing gave me hives.
Yes. Every Michigan fan had to find that particular Herrmannesque thing downright creepy. English called the dogs off a bit but often sent a fifth rusher, so I don't think it was necessarily a lack of rush -- though that contributed to it -- but rather a much softer coverage designed to keep players in front of defenders. Thus a series of slice 'n' dice completions and Quinn's momentary relevance. You'll note that more than half the negatives for "coverage" in the entire game come on this drive.
Hopefully a lesson is learned.
Any other coaching issues?
No. I didn't like the rush four plus zone on one of ND's last drives. It was third and sixteen and the end result was a 32 yard seam route to Carlson. But by that point I wanted blood and may not have been totally coherent. In general, I love Ron English. Notice how he never, ever rushes three people? Notice how receivers are instantly tackled when they catch the ball? Notice how the best option for offenses is often hopeful balls downfield to guys in man coverage, usually blanketed by our fast corners, if they have enough time to get it off? Given Zoltan's meh performances over the first few games my vote for Space Emperor might be shifting towards English.
So what have we learned so far?
An awful lot about what Michigan is going to do in passing situations against spread teams. In contrast to last year, when they stupidly sat in a base formation and tipped their coverages before every play, English is always in nickel and often a 3-3-5. From that 3-3-5 he'll play aggressive coverages coupled with frequent but not loony blitzing featuring Shawn Crable heavily. The defensive line is built with an eye towards penetration: get past your blocker and hurt someone. Terrance Taylor is often lifted in favor of a linebacker, allowing blitzes to come from more unpredictable locations. Sending cornerbacks is not uncommon.
We know much less about how the team will perform against a pounding run attack like Wisconsin and Minnesota fill feature, but it doesn't appear that Michigan will have much problem. They've faced only a few conventional running plays this year, but almost all of those have been swallowed whole. No opponent has lined up under center and rushed for more than ten yards. I don't think that's a fluke.
What does it mean for Wisconsin?
We'll get our first stiff test from a team determined to run the ball. Expect to see Jamar Adams in the box a lot, offering help to the linebackers, as Wisconsin's receivers are all raw and none seem like a particular downfield threat. Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson will see a bunch more playing time than they have to date. Wisconsin RB PJ Hill is a 242 bruiser who prefers to run over rather than around. Unfortunately for the Badgers, their interior offensive line is new and not particularly cohesive yet. Running against Michigan will be a major chore; throwing looks equally dodgy. There's some possibility the rush defense is vastly overrated due to a lack of serious competition this far, but given their struggle against SDSU and some Badger chattin', Wisconsin's offense will probably pose little threat to the Michigan D. But don't quote me on that.
How would you describe the defensive peformance, overall?
$&*#ing. Beat. Down.
1. Troy Smith, Ohio State
Hhhhhhyyyyaarrrrr. 'Tis the Captain of the SS Cheatypants Sweatervest and 'tis a fine leader indeed. But be keepin' yer greased mitts out of any unauthorized treasure chests, if you get my drift, lest the Dread Myles Brand send ye to Davy Jones' locker!
Dwayne Jarrett, USC
Hyyyarrr? Run up the mizzenmast! Set the sails! Rig the jibs!
3. Lamarr Woodley, Michigan
Hhhhhyaarrrr! Landed ye old death blow to the "fighting" Irish when he retrieved an unclaimed piece-of-eight and found the spot marked "X". X for touchdown. HHHHHHYYYARRRR!
4. Steve Slaton, West Virginia
...is a fast landlubber, let me tell you.
5. Dan Bazuin, Central Michigan
I don't know what to do with this guy. He had the most dominating day I've seen from a defensive end in a very long time, but it's often hard to judge a defensive end's impact without watching them, and it's doubtful I see another Central Michigan game the rest of the year. He had a TFL versus Akron. Hhhhyyarrr, McBain!
Sorry, that was lame. I'm trying to get UFR up sometime today.
- RUEBEN RILEY: Was fine -- not great, but fine -- against Victor Abiamiri. Gave Henne enough time to bomb to Mario once, twice, three times a touchdown.
- KICKOFF COVERAGE: Notre Dame got no good returns and fumbled once on their ten (ten! HA!) opportunities to return kickoffs.
- STEVE BREASTON'S TRAITOROUS HANDS: I have to put something from the team on notice, don't I? Steve's dropped slant is about the only thing that can be seriously pointed at as a major difficulty.
- THE NATION: Awwww yeah.
- WEIS E. COYOTE: Now the nickname can return. Look, here's his card: it says "Super Genius." Look, the picture has gone all freeze-frame: it says Coachus Arrogantus in faux-latin at the bottom of the screen. Look: 47-21.
- PUNTING (IN GENERAL): Dude, like, Zoltan, you're totally harshing my Space Emperor buzz with those 37-yard ducks.
Immense thanks to Chris of Dangerous Logic for a package of Michigan-Notre Dame highlights that I have deployed in the service of hilarity:
All hail "Yakety Sax"! All hail Weis!