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.
Stanton is back. Not that Stanton. The other one. David Stanton, a JUCO recently dinged by the NCAA, got un-dinged and will be available for MSU this year, a major help to a thin defensive line.
Zone blitzing is something you might want to get used to this year if Herrmann death-grips this weak zone coverage like many fear. Dave Sez has a great new regular feature with ex-small school QB/safety Bob Pentland where he explains stuff to you. Zone blitzing is first up.
Upon further review, Lloyd is pissed about the defense after watching the tape. His monday press conference comments are a 180 from his infuriating comments in the immediate aftermath of the game. Carr said things like "I think if you take one play out of the football game, our defense did a very good job." Yesterday he said things like "Defensively, I'm very, very disappointed in the way we played, particularly in the front seven. I don't think we played well at all up there." Chris Graham was singled out as an exception.
Evidence of Carr's displeasure can be seen on the newly-modified depth chart, which has Will Johnson listed as OR with one Gabe Watson. Scott McClintock (who was a particular target of ire after the rewatching) is still listed behind David Harris, who will start if healthy. Given his china-doll status I don't know how much the team is counting on that, though. One thing I noticed: redshirt freshman John Thompson did quite well in his limited time.
Strangely (and more on this later), I was actually less pissed at the defense after watching the tape. It's the difference between "you slept with my mother" and "you did WHAT with MY GRANDMOTHER," sure, but still it's something. Teeny tiny, agile Wolfe posed a problem to the defense because he could easily stop and start somewhere else if the play was jammed up, which it was pretty frequently. The bad news is that I saw Darius Walker do that a lot against Pitt. More later today.
Also of note: Adrian Arrington is going to be out "a while" with what is probably a high ankle sprain. (Interesting that the official site's transcript has no mention of the injury, though Rivals does.) Depending on how long Arrington is out and how well Tabb, Dutch, and Manningham perform in his abscence, there's the possibility of a medical redshirt here since Arrington played as a freshman.
Puff. Rosenberg on Breaston. Puff pastry but tasty.
Update: Remember to check Bloglines before posting, stupid. Blue Cats & Red Sox has an excellent game recap up and a number of tres excellent pictures. Proposed is a sacreligious but fun self-crossing for M fans:
Chad Henne is a god in yellow spandex pants. That about sums it up, but really, every time someone says his name now, I feel like I should cross myself. I'm not Christian, though. There ought to be some kind of alternative gesture I could use in a similar fashion. Perhaps I should work out a way to sign a giant M. Left hip, left shoulder, sternum, right shoulder, right hip? Let's get that going.
There is also discussion of making out with Kevin Grady and exclaiming that fact to the entire student section.
I imagine that being a football coach is hard. You have to organize and control approximately 100 privileged athletes, deal with the crabs they get from sorority girls, teach them to not suck at football. It's safe to say that anyone that can ascend to the head coaching job of a D-1 school is not functionally retarded, no matter what the ND fans say about Tyrone Willingham. But not so fast, my friend... the let the record show that this does happen. The functionally retarded often find themselves at the helm of major college football programs:
3 minutes and change left in Arizona-Utah. Utah up three. Arizona has a fourth and five on the Utah 43 and one timeout... and punts. Utah runs it a bit and Arizona gets the ball back on their own 9 with 27 seconds left. They lose.
Mike Stoops, you're fired.
Six or seven minutes left in UCF-South Carolina, South Carolina up 14, UCF has a fourth and goal... and kicks a field goal. They immediately get the ball back when South Carolina fumbles the kickoff. O'Leary proceeds to run six times in a row.
George O'Leary, you're fired. This doesn't just happen to the kind of mental midgets who end up at UCF after blowing the ND job or decide to kill their career by taking a job at Arizona, either.
Texas A&M scores a touchdown with approximately 10 minutes left against Clemson to go up one point. Dennis Franchione kicks the extra point. Clemson kicks a field goal and wins 25-24.
Dennis Franchione! You're fired!
Last year in the Louisville-Miami game, Miami had a first and goal with a couple minutes left on the clock down four (I think. It was a touchdown wins, field goal loses situation). Bobby Petrino, Approved Coaching Genius, had three timeouts and used none of them. Louisville got the ball back after the Miami touchdown with vanishingly little time and lost.
Bobby Petrino, you're fired?
How is it that every weekend in college football there are at least a couple of decisions that, to put it kindly, could only be made by drunken Eastern Europeans in born in close proximity to Chernobyl? These guys have spent their entire lives watching, playing, and coaching football but they don't understand how to handle obvious late game situations.
The only possible explanation is that the coaches are so caught up in the minutiae of the game--screaming at the referees, screaming at the defensive coordinator, screaming at the guy who just fumbled--the fan doesn't have to deal with that they get overloaded and just plain screw up. Dr. Z expounded on this theory a few years ago in a column detailing the hiring of a "clockologist" by Jets' head coach Herm Edwards. How did that clockologist thing work out? Uh, not so good. Not halfway into the new season the Jets butchered yet another late-game situation. Z says he believes that the clock guy was just ignored by Edwards.
"I'm not afraid." Ohh... you will be. You will be.
After all, head coaches are notoriously stubborn and God-complex ridden. Many, being football people, aren't well versed in making snap decisions based on a set of variables--time, down and distance, score, timeouts. They suck at algebra, basically. The two combine to form a noxious, Peter-Principle-rich cocktail of stubborn belief that you are good at doing what you are not. Thus your weekly hair-pulling, garment-rending decisions by Eastern Europeans. It's probably just a matter of time before the horror of game theory gone awry hits your school.
(PS: If you're going to get into a diatribe about the end of the Rose Bowl, you will meet with resistance from me. Inviting Vince Young to run one more time would have resulted in a field goal more makeable than the 38-yarder the Longhorns actually attempted.)
Hello. This is a centralized staging point for various discussions of the events going on in college football over the weekend designed to bring the BlogPollers together to share information and impressions. Plain ol' readers are more than welcome to join the conversation as well: every eye helps. Please keep it constructive and keep in mind that this is not a game thread (ie, no "AAARGH FUMBLE!" or "YAY TOUCHDOWN!" posts, please).
This will remain pinned to the top until Monday, so best keep it short. Have at it.
- Chad Henne threw a number of balls behind his receivers (though the ones behind Avant got caught anyway) but overall had a great day. No Husky got a hand on a pass all day. Every read, except one were he sold Breaston out on a flare route that he stared down and another to a doubled Breaston deep, was correct. No interceptions or anything approximating one. Nearly threw two long touchdowns to Breaston but was a foot off on both.
- Jason Avant being the focus of the offense means that dropped balls on third down no longer occur. Ever.
- Grady looked very good save for the fumble. Hart won't have to grind himself into the ground this year.
- Pass protection was incredible. No sacks for NIU and I can't remember Henne even getting hurried.
- Breaston was clearly the deep option in place of Braylon and got wiiiide open a few times, but couldn't make the catch. One was out of bounds, the other just a tiny bit too long. I think the long ball will be an effective weapon, but maybe Braylon hauls one of those in (and, yes, drops a critical third down ball).
- Hart. Never loses yards, had 4 or 5 yards on 75% of his carries. His low variance best, plus more solid receiving: a 34 yard touchdown on a screen type thing.
- That spreading the ball around thing.
- Um... Woodley did have a good day.
- Maybe Joey appreciates Marlin Jackson's run support now after watching Grant Mason get wasted by Garrett Wolfe time and again.
- That defensive line thing? What was that? It sucked, despite serious rotating to keep Watson from gasping. Were all those practice reports just crap?
- Okay, okay, Herrmann. You sure as hell simplified the defense (more on that later), but maybe there's a happy middle ground between the coloring book and theoretical astrophsyics we can mine.
- We got 40-50 Yards After Mundy and he was in for approximately five plays! Can we put a moratorium on the "Ron English is a great coach" blithering until he proves that he can teach someone, anyone, to take a proper angle? Is it a coincidence that said blithering continually comes from the same people who talk about how "Amaker is a great coach"? Seems clear that they mean "English is a black coach," and therefore will receive their support no matter the evidence.
- In general. Again, more later.
- Ross Ryan had more touchbacks in his first game as the kickoff dude than Troy Neinberg had his entire career. Ryan also showed some of Neinberg's Pop Warner All Star Linebacker qualities by running down and recovering a fumble on his only punt, which was a 41-yarder with good hangtime.
- Nothing of note.
- Rivas: solid from short range (FGs from 38 and 23), not great from long range (missed a 48-yarder) and extra-point allergic early in the year (had one blocked).
- Breaston. Only was punted to once and had no opportunity to return that. Returned a single kick.
- Punt coverage. One punt isn't much to draw conclusions from, though Hood really popped the Husky returner.
But don't slit your wrists yet...
Yes, we forced exactly one punt and the turnovers that held NIU's offense down were in large part luck. Yes, our offense outgained the Huskies by like 11 yards. But... contempt doesn't even begin to describe the way Michigan regarded the Husky offense despite the evidence that it should be respected. I swear to God that 80% of the defense's calls were straight 4-3 zone against a three-wide offense with Burgess lined up over the slot wide receiver--the Husky quarterback hardly had to make a read the entire game. Michigan employed exactly one blitz package, which was used sparingly.
There's no excuse for what happened today and I'll be dropping Michigan several spots in the BlogPoll because of it, but Michigan's main goal today was to show Notre Dame precisely nothing, no matter the expense. Insane, yes. Disheartening results despite the vanilla, yes. Very worried about ND, yes. But let's not overreact.
Arizona-Utah: The new Ute QB is no Alex Smith. He's more athletic but his favorite place to place a pass is a tie between three feet behind his wide receiver and three feet in front of his wide receiver. He's going to have to run a lot this year. The Utah RB, Ganther, though, is a keeper.
Arizona's QB situation is a disaster, though it is kind of cool that I thought Ilya Kovalchuk was one of the (terrible, terrible) options. The gift INT TD was the only reason Utah won the game. Bell, the Wildcat RB, got the corner all night against the Utes, but couldn't do much inside, where significant pass pressure also came. Arizona is probably a bad team again this year, and Utah is little better.
UH-Oregon: Don't believe those who would wax poetic about Houston's "scheme," they largely scored by returning kickoffs a long way and running straight down the field past Oregon defensive backs, who were confused. Probably thinking to themsleves "dude, you're a white guy playing for Houston. You don't have me beat by two steps." Oregon's offense moved at will after some early jitters, but the season will likely prove that the Cougars are one of the worst defensive teams in the country, so judgement should be reserved.
BG-Wisconsin: Calhoun is a lot like Anthony Davis. Good vision, cuts, quick to the hole. If he can stay healthy UW will have an offense. Stocco doesn't seem too bad so far.
Also, OMG OMAR JACOBZ! I have to depart for the Michigan game now, but Predator is like 9-11 and amazingly accurate, intelligent. The real deal for... holy crap. Holy crap! 63 yard touchdown. BG 20-7. DJL and Tony would like to say "I told you so." Not so fast, my friend: 20-14 after a kickoff return to the 9.
[UPDATE: What in the name of God happened during this thing? 98 total points? Did Wisconsin score 56 points all last year? I taped it, I'll get back to it. Looks like I may have been Absolutely Wrong about the Badgers.]
It's football time. Later beeches.
Georgia-Boise: Game, set, match.
Notre Dame-Pittsburgh: Um. Having not really seen too much of Darius Walker last year save for the Michigan game, in which he didn't really do anything too eye-grabbing (yes, yes, 120 or whatever yards but he took a *lot* of carries to do it), I am somewhat shocked at how good he looks. Great vision and cuts.
Oh, yeah... alarm level for next week just tripled.
WVU-Syracuse: Aaaaaaargh. My eyes are bleeding. If WVU stops fumbling they could be kinda good, though. I like Bednarik, their quarterback, and they have an interesting run-based spread system.
Syracuse is not going to a bowl.