The audio was screwed up in my copy of the video, so here's this.
In the last couple days, I've gone over film of MSU's offense against Maryland and BYU, and boy, it's been a fun week. I ended up doing full charting of the BYU game, which featured an oddly timed and ill-fated quarterback switch from Tyler O'Connor to Damion Terry, and Hennecharted the Maryland game, which featured a third quarterback, Brian Lewerke.
Yes, State has a quarterback problem. That is far from the only problem.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
The starting QB is a guess. It wouldn't be surprising to see O'Connor either start over Lewerke or replace him partway through. We didn't want to use a precious bench spot on a QB because MSU frequently deploys RB Gerald Holmes, TE Jamal Lyles, and FB Prescott Line, and they still rotate a fair amount on the O-line. A knee injury to guard David Beedle, who has the OL's fourth-most snaps despite not starting the last three games (and missing Maryland), has opened up playing time for true freshman Thiyo Lukusa, who got quite a bit of run against Maryland.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Pro-style, for whatever that means anymore. State tends to go I-form and run-heavy on early downs, then go into the gun for passing downs.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A mix. They run a fair amount of inside zone, and also feature quite a bit of power.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Grind. MSU is 106th in adjusted pace.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
SPONSOR NOTES: I was struck when we were hanging out at the Bo Store that it was very cool that some of our main sponsors were very much like us: small businesses in the Michigan community run by guys who are just dudes, you know? I like to think that UGP and Homesure are the MGoBlogs of their respective fields: small, detailed, involved, pantsless.
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan ran a ton of their dime package, almost half their snaps. Included were a bunch of exotics, like this thing where the line slides way one direction and McCray ends up a standup end:
3-3 line slide, I said, because I guess?
Meanwhile this was 3-3 standup DT:
Illinois ran at McCray and picked up 17 yards.
Meanwhile I titled this "ugh what is this" and don't remember if I called it anything in particular. Brown's defense quickly outstrips the reader's tolerance for formation detail.
Bleah! I mean, hooray! But also bleah.
SUBTITUTION NOTES: The frequency of three-man lines and general dearth of snaps (just 42 on defense) led to some absurdly low snap totals for the DL. Charlton led the way with 30; Glasgow, Wormley, Hurst, and Gary were around 20; Godin, Winovich, and Mone were around 13.
Gedeon and Peppers played every snap; McCray missed a few with an injury and was replaced by Devin Bush. Stribling, Peppers, Hill, and Thomas did not come off the field; Lewis was lifted at the very end. Extra DB snaps were scattered between Lavert Hill, Kinnel, Metellus, and Watson. Kinnel probably would have gotten 20 snaps if he didn't go out injured just before the half.
[After THE JUMP: if this is short it's not my fault.]
Tai Webster [Nate Olsen – Nebraska Communications]
Because of his affable persona and love of halftime tweets, Tim Miles has become one of the more widely-liked coaches in college basketball. After a nice stint at Colorado State, he got the Nebraska job – despite the new, state-of-the-art facilities in Lincoln, it’s tough job due to plenty of factors. Nebraska was obviously added to the Big Ten for its football cachet; the basketball program is one of a few to never win an NCAA Tournament game (though they’ve made it to the dance several times, most recently in 2013-14, Miles’s second year at Nebraska).
Unfortunately the Huskers took a step back from that tournament appearance, even though they had most of the same personnel – they lost their final nine games that season and finished with a losing record. They lost ball-dominant wing Terran Petteway but added Andrew White, a Kansas transfer, to pair with Shavon Shields. Still, the Huskers finished with a losing record yet again – in the two years after reaching the Tournament, they’ve gone a combined 11-25 in conference play, tied with Penn State for third-worst in the Big Ten during that span.
The unexpected (and late) transfer of White takes away the prospective best player for Nebraska, and it looks like the Huskers will probably struggle again. White put his name in for the NBA Draft – and took it out, which is common – before deciding to leave Nebraska to take a fifth-year somewhere else to help his draft prospects (and he picked Syracuse, a team that will undeniably be better).
Without the talent requisite to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid, it’s likely that Nebraska will finish in the bottom half of the conference again. Miles bought some time with that appearance a few years ago, but without progress, it’s easy to wonder how long he’ll last in Lincoln – though my guess is that the Nebraska brass will be patient.
[More on the Huskers after the JUMP]
Ben, you guys looked like you worked pretty well together, you and Bredeson. Talk about that transition and how hard or easy it was and what you thought of it.
“I wouldn’t say hard or easy. It was different. Obviously I haven’t played tackle in a few years. Bredeson’s done really well as a freshman. He’s doing really well. Smart kid, knows what’s going on in the film room. I was very happy with his effort and very proud of him. We’ll see what happens. It was a fun transition. I always liked being a tackle, but whatever’s best for the team we’ll do that.”
Chris or Jourdan, you guys win 41-8 but you give up a late touchdown and you give up the long running play. How much does that help your coach Don Brown to be able to get in that film room and say, ‘Okay, here are some things we need to clean up’ and not to get too confident after a big win?
CW: “Yeah, I think we played pretty good as a defense as whole against Rutgers and Wisconsin and Penn State, going back a few weeks. We obviously know we’re a good defense, but at the end of the day there’s always things we can get better at, always things we can improve on as a D-line. And linebackers and secondary, obviously, as a whole. So, we’ll watch film today and see what we can do. Obviously want to stop those long runs, the late touchdown, but like I said, there’s things to get better at.”
Jourdan, Coach reemphasized every game’s a championship game, [and said] we prepare like we do for everybody. Especially for an in-state guy, does it take a conscious effort to control emotion when it’s a rivalry like this?
“I’m not really an overemotional guy. I really just love the game of football and always prepare for every single game like it’s my last. So, that’s what all of us do, especially on the defensive end of the ball. Not saying that Michigan State—not trying to slight them or anything, but it’s just another game, really, on the schedule.”
Ben, what’s this rivalry mean to you as an in-state guy?
“I mean, as everyone knows as a kid I was a hockey player, but when I first got to college and hearing about it from Taylor Lewan and Mike Schofield and Elliott Mealer and what the rivalry meant to them, it just kind of set the standard for what the rivalry is. At the same time, we’ve got to focus on this week just like we do every week. It’s just another obstacle we have to get across that’s going to take us to our end goal, and that’s just to win as many games as we can and be the best that we can and play the best of our game. So, I think as a team we’ve done really good at that this season and I’ve been really proud of the guys and how they handle every game.”
[More after THE JUMP]
We were cheering so much when they brought out the train that we missed how cool the play design was that they ran with it. It’s not the most complicated play to break down, but it’s certainly the most fun I’ve had breaking one down.
Other than looking cool, the train formation does actually accomplish something. The defense is trying to figure out who’s got whom, but can’t actually line up and sort out the offense’s look until this weird huddle has broken. It’s hard to catch numbers with all those other dudes in the way. It might not even dawn on the defenders until the snap that all the skill position players are tight ends (or in the case of Hill, a quasi-TE turned fullback). The train doubles as a huddle—Speight walks up the line giving the playcall—but preserves a no-huddle offense’s confusion factor.
If you’re an opponent, you don’t have a lot of time to dissect the various shades of blocky-catchy. And down near the goal line you’re not going to have the luxury of playing cover 2, since any underneath dumpoff is a touchdown. With a weird formation, the simplest thing to do is call a man defense, and everybody line up in their spots.
Then Speight claps his hands to break the huddle, and everybody rushes to his spot.
[After the Jump: Why five tight ends, why mesh, and how the rule that spread teams proved unfair is also unfair for teams that run out lots of TEs and crossing routes]