"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
Crank Yanker Dan Connor has been reinstated by Penn State. He'll probably miss this weekend's game against [RANDOM DIRECTIONAL SCHOOL] but can practice and I'm betting... one million dollars that he will play in the Lions' Big Ten opener.
Dear Angelique Chengelis: In response to your headlined query "Could early loss be a blessing?" I would like act as proxy for the entire Michigan fanbase and respond:
JESUS GOD NO WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG WITH YOU ARE YOU DYING I BET YOU'RE DYING I'M SO SORRY
The Largest Set of Alumni on the Planet, Plus All Those Downriver Mullet Guys
Blogs will rescue us from our persistent depressive state. The Georgia Sports Blog waxes on about the proverbial "meteor game":
This Saturday, fathers will be helping impressionable minds grasp the notion that when watching Tennessee play Florida, you don't root for either team to win; you root for an enormous asteroid to make the journey from its natural habitat in a belt between Mars and Jupiter to an orange and blue den of iniquity in Gainesville, Florida, picking up horrific speed along the way.
I think they're a little overeager, though:
Son: "So, I think I get it. But how big a meteor are we rooting for, Daddy?"
Father: "Son, we're rooting for the kind of meteor you hire Aerosmith to write a song about."
Um... don't we want sort of a tactical meteor hit? Like something the size of five or six buses strapped together? An Aerosmith-level meteor required Ben Affleck to screw Liv Tyler and thereby save the world from Total Destruction(!), and, while said item would indeed wipe out the Florida and Tennessee football teams, it would pretty much wipe everything else out too--incidental damage when you live in the south, I guess. I keed, I keed. We've got a meteor game this weekend: Michigan State versus Notre Dame, though I don't think the problematic MSU basketball team will be in attendance, unfortunately. Nor will Ryan Miller.
Boom! is the Madden catchphrase and is also what IBFC has lowered on the purveyor of things you already know. This brings up something I've desperately wanted to see for a long time: Frank Caliendo televising football. I know Dennis Miller flamed out, but Caliendo does a Madden impression that would be A) no dumber than the regular Madden, B) hilarious, and C) somewhat likely to clown-down the Big Useless.
Save me Gloria Estefan!
Evidence of difference? You are invited to extrapolate the hell out of the differences between this recent Gator-to-Gator interface and the Michigan version, which was much more dour. Carr ruminations have been popping up on a regular basis over the past week, and by "ruminations" I mean "futile suggestions that INS deport the man." It's a tough question, not that resolving it is useful. Even if I came to the conclusion that Carr needed to go, I'm just a guy with a blog. No, to effect real change in a university administration, you need a message board.
|1||10||O24||Pass||6||Man coverage against a crossing route, Stovall versus Chris Graham(?)|
|2||4||O30||Run||7||Woodley loses outside contain(-1)|
|1||10||O37||Run||9||Walker bounces outside, no contain again. Biggs(Biggs? -1) gets wasted by Levoir|
|1||10||50||Pass||Inc||Wide open Smarjajajaj, Mason(-1) blows the coverage. Woodley(+1) does beat the tackle but is too far away to affect the play|
|2||10||50||Pass||12||Corner blitz gets telegraphed (Hall -1) and picked up and they have a route right in the vacated area.|
|1||10||M38||Run||9||Wow. Biggs(-1) gets pancaked and gives up the corner for a big gain.|
|1||10||M27||Pass||10||Slant in front of Mason off a blitz. Not bad by Mason, just the right call for the blitz. Good read, inaccurate throw.|
|1||10||M17||Pass||9||Dump off to Walker in the zone, Mason(-1) allows Walker about 4 yards he could have stopped with a good tackle|
|2||1||M8||Run||3||Lucky this wasn't a touchdown, double OL pull looked like it was going to crush but the linebackers (Harris +1, Burgess +1) managed to hold at the point of contact.|
|1||G||M5||Pass||5||Touchdown. What is Hall(-1) doing? Already playing off McKnight and backpedals off the snap.|
|Drive Notes: Jesus. Two of these plays are pretty much guaranteed first downs due to the offense winning the rock-paper-scissors battle. No Watson at all on this drive and Rondell Biggs? Rondell freaking Biggs? He's getting run over.|
|1||10||O22||Pass||4||Walker is the outlet. Seemingly good coverage downfield.|
|2||6||O26||Pass||8||Quinn finds Fasano in the zone's hole. I think Graham should have been in better position, there was no threat to the inside.|
|1||10||O34||Pass||Inc||Woodley(+1) comes around the corner, forcing Quinn up into the pocket and forces the throwaway.|
|2||10||O34||Run||5||Draw should have been stuffed but both linebackers take the middle hole when Burgess(-1) should have had contain.|
|3||5||O39||Run||-7||This is either an idiotic call or a missed check by Quinn. Motion reveals UM to be in a zone, so Trent's obviously going to come up. Unblocked Biggs(+1) keeps contain.|
|Drive notes: Weis overthinking things with the reverse. The short passing was working.|
|2||6||O27||Pass||6||Another Walker dumpoff.|
|1||10||O33||Run||6||Stretch play to one side is pretty well strung out but no one from the secondary is there at the very end. Mason(-1) is the guy who should be there|
|2||4||O39||Pass||Inc||Ton of time but Quinn misses Smarjajajaja.|
|3||4||O39||Penalty||-10||Holding drawn by Branch(+1). Good coverage downfield.|
|3||14||O29||Pass||Inc||Corner blitz from Hall(+2), who nimbly avoids the tackle and flushes Quinn. Receiver drops it, Engelmon was there for the tackle even if he caught it.|
|Drive notes: Fortunate on the Smarj miss. We see our first instance of "Grant Mason, downfield tackle specialist." Breaston hit immediately on the PR. This has bothered me for two years now: why don't we double the gunners?|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Inc||another Quinn f-up. Biggs was coming. Guy was open.|
|2||10||O20||Run||1||OMG OUTSIDE CONTAIN. Engelmon(+1) lets everyone else catch up.|
|3||9||O21||Pass||Inc||Again an open receiver and Quinn misses him.|
|Drive notes: Quinn can't throw. Only reason we stop this drive.|
|1||10||O20||Run||-1||Woodley(+1) destroys his man and makes the TFL all his ownself.|
|2||11||O19||Pass||-5||Safety blitz from Engelmon(+1), who's unblocked , and makes the sack|
|3||16||O13||Pass||18||They rush three here, completely inexcusable call. Absolutely terrible.|
|1||10||O31||Run||3||No cracks in the interior of the line, which is Massey and Johnson.|
|2||7||O34||Pass||-6||TE screen after a fake, Burgess(+1) slices up and makes the tackle.|
|3||18||O22||Pass/Scramble||7||Holding call is declined after Branch(+2) just kicks the ass of the C and G, forcing Quinn to scramble.|
|Drive notes: Great series except for the insane rush three on third and 16 thing.|
|1||10||O28||Run||4||Woodley can't quite get to Walker outside and the help is a little late.|
|2||6||O32||Pass||7||Fasano in a hole in the zone.|
|1||10||O39||Pass||Inc||Quinn can't find an open receiver and Woodley(+1) forces him to dumpoff inaccurately to Walker.|
|2||10||O39||Pass||3||Flare to Walker against a zone, that's not gonna work.|
|3||7||O42||Pass||9||Again Fasano, again a three step drop against the zone.|
|1||10||M49||Run||8||A doubled Will Johnson gets crushed, and the pulling guard nails Burgess.|
|2||2||M41||Run||4||I think it's Watson(+1) that drives the guard way back into the backfield but Graham(-1) misses the TFL and allows the first.|
|1||10||M36||Pass||Inc||McKnight catches the ball but gets plugged by Engelmon(+1), forcing the drop and probably ending his career, unfortunately. Looks really bad.|
|2||10||M36||Run||13||Draw to Walker. Just hard to stop him when he moves up into the hole and just decides to go the other way. Could have been holding on Van Alstyne, maybe.|
|1||10||M23||Run||17||Jesus. Michigan appears to have six guys in the box against 3WR, and Walker takes advantage, the OL just crushes every Michigan player in its path.|
|2||G||5||Pass||5||Goddammit. You lucky bitches. (Graham +1 for the deflect, despite the result.)|
|Drive notes: The second and last effective ND drive of the day, again based on short passing and Walker, who proves himself to be a really good back today. Some of those yards are just due to his excellence, but there are still major contain issues, and I'm surprised UM hadn't decided to just screw deep coverage and make Quinn get off the short-yardage stuff.< br />|
|1||10||O28||Pass||0||Screen to Walker, Harris(+1) cuts between the blockers and blows it up.|
|2||10||O28||Pass||4||Three step drop and fire.|
|3||6||O32||Pass||-9||Corner blitz from Hall(+1) is unblocked. Total pickup bust, as the TE, lined up wide, stays into block and completely ignores Hall, who's running right by him.|
|Drive notes: Three and out with one nice play, one meh, and then some fortune.|
|2||7||O15||Pass||4||Another three step drop, Burgess makes the tackle. They aren't even trying to throw anywhere downfield.|
|3||3||O19||Run||4||Draw to Walker that works entirely because Massey(-1) gets doubled and pushed back a couple yards and then the guard pops off on Harris.|
|1||10||O23||Run||3||Massey(+1) does better here, holding his ground and making the tackle.|
|2||7||O26||Pass||-2||Corner blitz again from Hall (+1). Walker's cut attempt is weak and Hall just goes around him.|
|3||10||O23||Pass||26||Double blitz from Mason(-1) and Trent(-1), both of whom miss. Quinn jump throws and it's right on the money, somehow.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Inc||Stovall is open and Quinn reverts to his normal inaccurate ways.|
|2||10||O49||Run||-4||Massey(+1) avoids a block and pops up into the hole, when Walker tries to bust it outside, Woods(+1) is there for the TFL.|
|3||14||O45||Pass||-9||Snap goes over Quinn's shoulder, totally his fault. Woods is there to clean up.|
|Drive notes: Quinn stepped up and made a crazy jumping, floated, accurate touch throw between two zone defenders, but other than that Michigan is doing well.|
|1||10||M33||Run||3||This is jammed up nicely. Walker cuts it back, then cuts it back outside, catching Woodley a little off guard.|
|2||7||M30||Run||4||Watson(+1) plows his guy into the backfield and trips up the FB, but he falls three yards forward because there's no one else behind him.|
|3||3||M26||Run||1||Quinn fumbles the snap.|
|Drive notes: The drive starts with a really nice punt and the both Harrison(-1) and McClintock(-1) miss tackles. Three and out, FG anyway. ND is now in total clock-kill mode.|
|1||10||M23||Run||Harris(+2) slices up into the hole and forces the fumble.|
|Drive notes: What drive?|
|1||10||O5||Pass||9||All day for Quinn, but can't find anyone downfield and hits the outlet.|
|2||1||O14||Run||5||Harris(-1) runs into the wrong hole.|
|1||10||O19||Run||1||Powers-Neal into an 8 man front, which goes nowhere, largely because of Watson(+1)|
|2||9||O20||Run||3||Again they run into an 8 man front, Adams comes up to make the stick.|
|3||6||O23||Pass||Inc||Quinn lofts a jump ball out to Smajajja. Morgan Trent(+1) is fast and there. He finds the ball, and makes the play. Nice.|
|Drive notes: run-run-inc-punt.|
|1||10||O20||Run||0||Harris(+1) takes on a blocker and forces it outside. Mason comes up.|
|2||10||O20||Pass||-5||Why was this even called a fumble originally? Quinn was obviously down.|
|3||15||O15||Run||1||Perfunctory run and punt.|
|Drive notes: Another instance of Weis out-thinking himself.|
|1||10||O20||Run||5||Watson is held but there's no call made, else he swallows this at the line.|
|2||5||O25||Run||-1||Burgess(+1) penetrates immediately and Watson and Engelmon clean up.|
|3||6||O26||Pass||Inc||Harris comes on a slightly delayed blitz between the G and T off a stunt as Biggs(+1) plunges into the G and shoves him into the C.|
|Drive Notes: Sigh.|
Plus/minus? What the deuce?
Call it an experiment, a very rough one. You get a + for a good play (one that's out of the ordinary) and a - for a bad one. Certain plays garner greater + or - than others. I'm still tweaking it; I think the scale is too low because I wanted to give out a lot of half-plusses and half-minuses. It's a work in progress, and will probably never be comprehensive.
|Woodley||4||1||3||Not enough from him.|
|Biggs||3||2||1||Got crushed early in the run game but was relatively solid afterwards|
|Watson||3||-||3||Did this with very limited playing time, all instances of crushing opposing blockers and gumming up inside runs.|
|Branch||3||-||3||A holding penalty drawn and another instance of explosive interior pass rush, that precious thing long reserved for the Florida States of the world.|
|Burgess||3||1||2||A few more contain issues|
|McClintock||-||1||-1||Bad play was a missed tackle that led to a good return|
|Harris||5||1||4||Night and day from McClintock.|
|Graham||1||1||0||Didn't really do much.|
|Mason||0||4||-4||16 tackles for a cornerback == bad day.|
|Hall||4||2||2||+ mostly from blitzing.|
|Trent||1||1||0||The + was a very nice, very important play on third down towards the end.|
In fairness to the cornerbacks, there were several instances of Quinn getting copious time to find receivers but failing to do so and dumping the ball off to Walker. I assume everyone had good coverage downfield in those instances, but it's impossible to confirm that. It's obvious when they screw up.
So... how did we do?
The stats (like 230 yards allowed) are too kind. Michigan was often bailed out by Brady Quinn and The Hilarious Attempts To Throw Downfield and in the fourth quarter the ND offense, nursing a persistent two-touchdown lead, was largely content to run-run-inc-punt. But 230 yards is 230 yards; this was a decidedly better performance than against NIU. The zone seemed to work well. There were many instances where he couldn't find anyone downfield. The blitzes Michigan sent were consistently effective.
There remain issues with the DL pass rush and the linebacker containment, though. No sacks were logged by non-defensive backs and other than a couple hurries from W oodley and Branch there was little threat from the linemen. Walker got outside the defense several times and kept the two ND touchdown drives moving forward when the hole was jammed up. Maybe that's a don't get burned on play action move? Note that the free safety, Barringer, is not mentioned once anywhere in this recap. No 76 yard runs today, but Walker still busted 100. Damned if you do, don't, etc.
What was the deal with the DL?
Rondell Biggs took more snaps than anyone at DE and Will Johnson and Pat Massey probably logged more DT snaps than anyone else. Watson and Branch played less but made more plays. I don't understand the substitution patterns at all. What happened to Van Alstyne? Why Johnson instead of the consistently-threatening Branch? And for God's sake can we get a linebacker to clean up some of the Watson destruction? When he was in there he was really good. I understand that he's not the fittest guy and everyone was pissed after NIU, but come on now.
Who is the MLB?
David Harris, end of story.
Who is the nickelback?
Morgan Trent, apparently. He was tested only once and came up with a very nice play. ND fans generally think that Smarj and Shelton are good WRs and ND went with a lot of three wide sets, so he must have been doing something right to not be thrown at, especially as a redshirt freshman in his first game experience.
Charles Stewart has seemingly contracted underwood.
You want to "huggle" Engelmon?
You're goddamn right. No screwups yet.
|2||9||M20||Pass||Breaston||5||Diamond formation. Massey(-1) lets Crum get to the outside of him, preventing this from going for like 10.|
|3||5||M25||Pass||Dutch||13||Nice play design to drag Hart across the zone and get Dutch open.|
|1||10||M38||Pass||Dutch||Inc||Batted at the line, you can't blame Henne for this; the defender is just too close.|
|2||10||M38||Run||Hart||1||Just a wad of players at the line. No hole whatsoever.|
|3||9||M39||Pass||No one||Inc||Two guys come from the right, Hart picks up the inside one, Henne throws it away.|
|Drive notes: Terrible decision by Mason(-1) on the kickoff. One unblocked blitzer, two stuffed run plays, and a short pass blocked at the line by a defender really close to him.|
|1||10||M34||Pass||Breaston||9||The old Braylon stop route.|
|2||1||M43||Penalty||-10||Holding on Henige, legit. Henne scrambled for the first down.|
|2||11||M33||Pass||Hart||Inc||Abimiri bats it down. There isn't really anything Henne can do about this, either... it's a screen! Riley has to chop Abiamiri's legs out to open up the passing lane.|
|3||11||M33||Pass||Avant||6||A stunting blitz by the WLB gets to Henne unblocked, and he finds whoever he can.|
|Drive Notes: Too much pressure. The story of these first two drives is the ND DL beating the UM OL. You've got a holding penalty, two instances of unblocked blitzers, and two batted passes.|
|1||10||M30||Pass||Hart||Inc||This is a missed interference call, isn't it? Hart was interfered with with the ball in the air.|
|2||10||M30||Pass||Ecker||16||Easy. Hole in the zone, henne looks off the D and finds him|
|1||10||M46||Run||Hart||0||Toss sweep that knocks Hart out of the game. Thompson can't seal off the LB, who forces the play back inside, where two LBs clean it up.|
|2||10||M46||Pass||Dutch||4||This is a great pass from Henne, who lofts the ball high enough to get it past the good zone coverage and into Dutch's hands.|
|3||6||50||Pass||Sack||Henne pump fakes. Swann says it's because he was looking for Ecker but Ecker fell down.|
|Drive notes: this is the punt where Harrison lets it roll past him. Can't blame Henne yet.|
|1||10||M44||Run||Breaston||30||reverse. Nice block from Henne, and a clever pull from the center gets out on the linebacker who's supposed to have contain.|
|1||10||O26||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Perfect pass from Henne, and Breaston just drops it.|
|2||10||O26||Run||Grady||5||Left side of the ND D gets caved in, but Ecker's block gets shed or this is 8-10|
|3||5||O21||Pass||No one||Inc||Two blitzers and still no one open? Henne throws this away after getting flushed. Might have had a chance to find someone, but Grady's cut block doesn't stop the momentum of one blitzer, so he has to take off, and the second guy comes off his man.|
|Drive notes: Field goal. Again a blitzer forces an incompletion (3).|
|1||10||M41||Run||Martin||-4||Lentz gets his ass kicked.|
|2||14||M37||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Breaston is open but Henne just misses him, Lentz goes down on this play.|
|3||14||M37||Pass||Sack||The blitz is on Henne instantly as Grady busts the pickup.|
|Drive notes: This is the first actual bad pass from Henne. The OL is getting blown up on a regular basis, making it impossible to put anything together. Blitz bust #4.|
|1||10||M25||Pass||Manningham||Inc||Wooden is in good position and just impedes Manningham enough to prevent him from getting to the ball.|
|2||10||M25||Run||Grady||10||Now it's ND's turn to get vicimized by six in the box against 3 WR|
|1||10||M35||Pass||Massey||1||Happy feet for henne, who had a pocket, but bailed out and hit the outlet too soon.|
|2||9||M36||Run||Grady||5||Grady makes 3 or so after contact after vaulting a defender, a nice run.|
|3||3||M41||Pass||Ecker||9||Kraus gets beat but Henne finds Ecker anyway.|
|1||10||50||Run||Grady||2||Henige can't block off the LB or there's a big hole for Grady.|
|2||8||O48||Penalty||-5||False start on Massey|
|2||13||M47||Pass||No one||0||Henne again flushes from the pocket prematurely.|
|3||13||M47||Pass||Avant||5||Slip screen to Avant, what a ridiculous call. At least bomb it deep.|
|Drive notes: Halftime. Note two instances of happy feet for Henne: he's lost faith in his blockers. The Avant slip screen indicates that the coaches have too. At the half, the story on this side of the ball is the OL getting its ass kicked.|
|1||10||M18||Run||Grady||0 + 5||No push from the line, incidental face mask on ND.|
|1||5||M23||Run||Grady||6||Makes 4 after contact.|
|1||10||M29||Run||Grady||23||Grady's long run, the cutback here is inexplicable. If he just keeps going he'll get caught, but another 20-30 yards downfield. Paul and Breaston get good blocks to open it up.|
|1||10||O48||Run||Grady||3||More after contact push from Grady. 3 yards against a very unfavorable D.|
|2||7||O45||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant is wide open and Henne just doesn't get it there.|
|3||7||O45||Pass||Ecker||7||Accurate. Zone leaves Ecker wide open.|
|1||10||O38||Run||Grady||1||Too many guys in the box.|
|2||9||O37||Pass||Ecker||2||Waggle, just dumps it off to a covered Ecker.|
|3||7||O35||Pass||Ecker||11||This ball floats a little bit and wobbles, but it's there.|
|1||10||O24||Run||Grady||8||Grady fumbles fighting for extra yards.|
|1||10||O13||Run||Grady||1||Grady has to cut it back because Paul's block doesn't clear the intended hole.< /td>|
|2||9||O12||Pass||Ecker||Int||Avant was wide open cutting across the endzone. Just a horrible read.|
|Drive notes: The interception killed us. If you had to trace the loss back to one single play, that was it. Avant was heartbreakingly wide open. Henne falls apart after this, just watch.|
|1||10||M24||Pass||Avant||7||Lentz returns now. A simple throw to the guy with a cushion play.|
|3||2||M32||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Hoyte makes a nice play on an arrow route and knocks it down.|
|Drive notes: I don't know if that was a bad read or just a good play by Hoyte.|
|1||10||M7||Run||Grady||2||Can't help but think if Hart would have done better with this. Grady just plows into the guy in front of him instead of juking.|
|2||8||M9||Pass||Breaston||Inc||The second bomb to Breaston that's open and well thrown but not caught.|
|3||8||M9||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Henne sails this ball to Ecker, asking him to leap and catch a bullet.|
|Drive notes: Breaston is not helping Henne at all, but the Ecker throw would have been for a first down if it was accurate. This is the only instance of a low release point forcing a sailed throw in the game despite the claims of some who are beguiled by Griese's color commentary.|
|1||10||M22||Pass||Ecker||21||A perfectly placed seam route.|
|1||10||M43||Run||Jackson||4||There's just no room to run inside.|
|3||4||M49||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Batted at the line. Again, this is not a problem with Henne's delivery. Throwing it above the defender means throwing it out of bounds.|
|Drive notes: The problem with batted passes in this game has come almost exclusively on three-step drops and screens. There's no QB in the world tall enough to avoid a well-placed hand and throw an accurate short pass; the problem here is with the OL not cutting the DEs.|
|1||10||O18||Run||Grady||7||Nie blocks from Ecker and Thompson spring Grady up the middle.|
|2||3||O11||Run||Grady||4||Grady manages to squeeze through what looks like nothing for the first.|
|1||G||O7||Run||Grady||2||Mays is unblocked.|
|2||G||O5||Run||Grady||0||Fumble. I think without the fumble Grady cuts back against the grain, skips past the defender, and scores. Despite what you may of heard, this is on Grady, not Henne.|
|3||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||May have just been throwing this away. I hate this call, a rollout on an obvious passing down on the goalline that cuts off half the field. No one was open.|
|4||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne throws this five yard out of bounds.|
|Drive notes: Ugh. 3 fumbles in two games from Grady, and what on God's green earth was that throw? It's fourth down, time to risk some interception.|
|2||5||M44||Pass||Avant||Inc||Batted again. This is a three step drop, Riley has to get that guy's hands down.|
|3||5||M44||Pass||Grady||Inc||Screen is read and destroyed.|
|1||G||O1||Run||Henne||1||This is a touchdown. It's not even close. The decision to not award a touchdown and then to not review it is flat wrong. Henne is laying in the endzone.|
|Drive notes: Again, harping on the cut blocks, and then that devastating two play sequence.|
|1||10||50||Pass||Avant||17||Henne finally gets protection and hits an open Avant.|
|1||10||O33||Pass||Ecker||Inc||I can't see the coverage downfield but Ecker had a linebacker right on top of him.|
|2||10||O33||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Just missed Ecker nine yards downfield.|
|3||10||O33||Pass||Ecker||7||Grady completely blows the blitz pickup but Henne finds Ecker anyway, a really nice play from him.|
|4||3||O26||Pass||Manningham||26||TD. Looks like a coverage bust but an accurate throw and catch.|
|Drive notes: Well, it's a score, but it's heavily aided by a coverage bust. Swann picks out the fact that Campbell yelled at Manningham to decrease his split before the snap and that's why he was open. Great catch from Swann, who's also broken in with useful comments a couple other times. He's a sideline guy who's a net benefit, which is amazing.|
|1||10||M42||Pass||Breaston||Inc||A crossing route against an LB coming off a zone that Breaston just drops. Probably had the corner and a first down if|
|2||10||M42||Pass||Manningham||Inc||This is the Manningham bomb where he gets a little touch from the DB, but the ball was uncatchable anyway. I hate this playcall. This is a low percentage play when you absolutely need a first down.|
|3||10||M42||Pass||Ecker?||Inc||Tipped at the line again, this time on a legit dropback pass. You could put this on Henne if you so desire.|
|4||10||M42||Penalty||False start on Riley.|
|4||15||M37||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Three yard pass on fourth down.|
|Drive Notes: Breaston inserts the third nail in Henne's coffin on first down and then a questionable call, a batted pass, and then an inexplicable decision (one of several) end the game.|
Analysis, FAQ style:
What the sam-hell happened?
A few things. Notre Dame's defensive line won the battle with Michigan's offensive line. Michigan's running was inconsistent and sporadic in the first half, and when Henne dropped back to pass he was often met with unblocked blitzers. When Henne did have time to get off a deep ball it was usually accurate but Breaston dropped two deep ones and a critical first-down ball on the final drive.
OMG HENNE SUX.
He actually didn't in the first half until late where you see two instances of unnecessary rollouts because he's lost faith in his blitz pickups. In the second half, though... well, to borrow a metaphor from poker, Henne went on tilt. Check the chart:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
You've gone from 23/33 in the "good" category to 22/44 plus a couple sacks and the goalline fumble. Some of that was due to pressure but the two huge, touchdown-stealing mistakes were totally unforced.
What about the injuries?
They clearly had an effect. Massaquoi was ably replaced by Ecker but Ecker was not as ably replaced by Massey, who had some blocking issues and a false start. There was a small dropoff there. Though Grady ran well, the second fumble was a killer as that play was probably six without it if Grady cuts back appropriately. He also busted three blitz pickups, ruining those plays and contributing to the Henne meltdown. Being down Long, Kolodziej, and Lentz (for a bit) had to hurt the running game, and likely the pass protection.
What's the deal with all the batted passes?
This seems like a problem with the offensive line rather than Henne. Four of the five were on screens or three-step drops where Henne is making a short pass and he can't afford to loft a ball out there lest he get his receiver killed or get pick-sixed. On short drops it is the responsibility of the offensive line to get their defenders on the ground or at least control their hands enough to prevent them from knocking a pass down. Could Riley's relative inexperience at tackle be culpable? It's the OTs that have to clear the path for short sideline routes.
Henne, Breaston, and Grady. Henne's problems were discussed ad nauseum above and everywhere else on the internets, but it bears repeating: if Henne does not throw away two touchdowns we win. Breaston dropped three balls, any one of which would have changed the complexion of the game, and didn't do anything with his returns. Grady fumbled twice more and was a major reason that Henne started booking out for the sidelines whenever a linebacker looked at him funny.
Er, not heroes, but you know, non-goats?
Avant, Ecker, and that's it.
The coaching... sucks?
Not really. What are you supposed to do other than put your guys out there and put them in positions to succeed? This was done. The offense, when not failing to pick blitzes up, had Breaston and Avant open for touchdowns. They had efficient short routes that the OL did not clear a path for. They had Grady going in for six when he fumbled. They had Henne going in for six when he fumbled.
The players effed up. When Carr says they have to execute better this week, he's telling the God's honest truth. The Avant slip screen? Bad call. The Manningham bomb on the last drive? Bad call. But that's really all the complaining you can do. The final play was not designed for Ecker, but Henne threw it there anyway on fourth and fifteen; a microcosm of the situation.
I know its really hard to believe this, but anyone talking about Lloyd Carr screwing up another big game or getting wildly outcoached by Weis is talking out of their Bowden. The offensive and defensive designs were good enough to win this game, but this isn't NCAA 2006.
(a note: new thing with the polls: asking questions that DEMAND ANSWERS!!! to spur some discussion.)
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
What was given last wee--a unanimous USC #1--was taken away by the UT victory over OSU. The 'Horns now have 5 first place votes and probably won't relinquish them unless they put in a stinker. USC's performance against BYE... ah, we've all heard that joke before. Never mind. The Big Ten teams largely vacating the top ten allowed some significant move ups, but there are a number of placements that I don't understand: OU anywhere near the top 25 after those first two performances? Who is voting for these guys? Why? TCU lost to SMU and they definitively proved against Tulsa that they have no quarterbacks. Rob, why the hell do you have them #11? Tigersmack, why #12?
Also, ASU dropped after a should-have-won performance against LSU where they had 500+ yards passing? FSU... top 10? Really?
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 Eagle In Atlanta, who played Texas Tech to FIU's Michigan and Ohio State, just *hammering* the two for their losses. I can understand the motivation for dropping Michigan from #4 to #23 for that performance against Notre Dame, but Ohio State dropping 15 spots after losing to the #2 (both in the BlogPoll and EIA's own ballot) by a point? Harsh! I do like Vandy at #24 and Oklahoma at #25, though. That has a certain aesthetic appeal. EIA, three Qs: Why Virginia so high (Ian is not optimistic)? Why Louisville at #6 (still no d)? And why the contract on OSU's head?
Mr. Numb Existence is Buffs.tv, who radically revamped their poll and somehow find it more in-line than any other. Yes, I find it hard to find something interesting to say about the ballot that looks the most like the poll, if you're wondering.
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.
Unsurprisingly, the winner of the Straight Bangin' Award is not Straight Bangin', but it is another Michigan blogger, Vijay from iBlog For Cookies. Straight Bangin'? Second. It doesn't matter how low you rank Michigan, BlogPoll, the Michibloggers will limbo under that number by, oh, 6 or 7 spots.
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.
Mr. Manic-Depressive is Journalism is for Rockstars and its Christmas-tree ballot. Only one team, Georgia, remained static. He's also throwing a bit of a fit as regards OSU, dropping them to #24 from #12 while simultaneously moving UT to #1. Journorock: why punish OSU so heavily for losing to the #1 team narrowly? Ditto for ASU. LSU got a huge boost by beating the Sun Devils but ASU got knocked down 8 spots. Either LSU didn't beat someone that worthy of beating or the Sun Devils aren't that bad.
Mr. Stubborn is... hey! Me! I didn't whack OSU or Michigan too hard for their performances (probably in part because I had both underrated re: the poll at large), didn't skyrocket anyone (ND was already #12), and left most of the bottom of the poll alone since everyone performed bas
ically as expected or played such terrible competition (FIU, the Citadel) that no conclusions could be drawn. You have an open invitation to hammer me with a question to answer about my ballot.
Okay. A few Irish fans raised on a lot of X-Files asked for the whole controversial play, so here it is (QED, MFer). It's thoroughly unexciting, just a bunch of watching people in the pile. It is also 40 megs. Unless you are really interested I'd skip it.
Many accusations of whining and being a "typical Michigan fan who never gets beat" were levelled, quite unfairly in my opinion. I think the video shows that at the very least that play should have been reviewed and to non-crazy people clearly shows a touchdown. The refs screwed up, the end result hurt Michigan, and that pisses me off. It is a reason we lost. It is not the reason, nor is it particularly high on the list of reasons (amongst the more prominent: Space Henne, Walker, the ND coaches mercilessly exploiting a blitz-pickup weakness). Not once did I say anything along the lines of "the refs beat us," though I obviously failed to clarify my position. It's clarified now, so there you have it.
This is the last word I'll speak on the matter; it's in the past, except for the UFR offense review which is in the past to me but in the future to you, so the play notes will say something like AAAARGH or some such thing. Because it's aaargh-worthy, you know. Total aaargh.
A note: I'm just going to delete anything that is even the slightest bit inflammatory off this post, no matter who the poster supports. Nuts to you if you don't like it. Nuts I say.
Examine the Team Grid at your leisure. Click the check marks for vote distribution (interesting like Purdue's or dull like USC's). Hover over that nut who put the Boilers #6 and the dastardly fellow's name reveals itself. Click and see the offending ballot. Still working out some tangential features with it, but enjoy its 80% state right now.