“Well, first of all, you saw the game, and obviously we weren’t pleased as a defense. A lot of things we stand for and the things we set out to do each year, we weren’t successful in a number of those situations. The biggest thing is missed tackles. We can’t have that in our defense. We had way way way too many missed tackles. And another thing that led to missed tackles as you watched the tape was we had missed techniques. We’re not good enough right now to be able to not play perfect technique, and when you don’t play great technique, somebody’s going to have to make an open field tackle or somebody’s going to have to make a tackle that you hope the ability of everything to stay inside and in front would take care of. That’s really a lot of what happened in the game.”
(After the jump, Mattison talks about the secondary, Alabama's offense, linebacker technique, Air Force's offense, and the defensive line)
The option has always been about making a defender wrong about who has the ball, thus effectively blocking him. Since you don't have to actually block him this means you can take out a slavering rage-beast with even the daintiest of skill position players.
Rich Rodriguez's innovation was taking the hazard-laden option and turning it into a simple yes-or-no handoff. The read option makes a guy wrong without requiring a pitch, and without getting your quarterback lit up time and again. Pairing that with plays that stretch the defense across the field horizontally opens up the box, forces safeties down, and creates the kind of environments that see his teams run for nearly six yards a clip.
Borges and Hoke have a different outlook on football. Last year when the inverted veer was running riot over Ohio State, they were consistently blocking the guy a Rodriguez-style offense would consider optioned off.
This worked, but I wondered if it was working because Ryan Shazier was an injured freshman who was pretty horrible in that game. It's hard not to look at what's going on with Michael Schofield in this clip and not pine for the guy to move past the OSU DE and take on Ohrian Johnson, thus likely springing Denard for another huge gain.
Last year both myself and fellow guy who does the picture paging Chris Gaerig thought that this was an execution issue that would be hammered out given enough time, but Tyler Sellhorn, a high school OL coach who frequently emails me tips and corrections, thought this was a philosophical thing:
I think Schofield and Omameh were coached to block the DE. Hoke/Borges do not like leaving unblocked defensive linemen out there. A famous unattributed coaching axiom that I am sure that Hoke/Borges believe in is: "First level defenders cause fumbles, second level defenders make tackles." To me, this is the "MANBALL" component of M's "option" game. True power running game people think like that. I think that is the reason there have been fewer really long runs (the second level has been blocked less consistently this season).
This is one philosophical difference: RR's first thought always was, "How can we mess with the safeties to get big yards when we break through the line", Hoke/Borges first thought is "How can we mess with the DL so they are less aggro (in run and pass situations) and we don't ever have a negative play." Both work well as we have seen.
The consistency with which Michigan guys were blocking the supposedly option DL was a point in his favor. At first I thought the Alabama game was the point at which this was undeniable, but now I think Alabama was blocking Michigan, not the other way around.
Optioning Nobody #1
It's Michigan's first drive. They've picked up a first down with a (horribly spotted) flare to Smith and a third down conversion from same. They come out in a two-back, three-wide set. Alabama responds with its base 3-4 set, half-rolling a safety into the box.
Michigan will run the veer. They pull Barnum (1), use Hopkins(2) as a lead blocker, and block down on the front side. This leaves the Alabama defender (3) there unblocked… for now, anyway.
Hopkins. You are not flaring out, my man. You are doing something that isn't that.
At the mesh point, Hopkins (1) has contacted the "unblocked" Alabama defensive end. This means he is now blocked. (Science!) Hopkins is also blocked. They are mutually blocking each other. Neither can go forward very easily.
This happens really fast. The DE is doing this on purpose. His goal here is two-fold: one, to force the handoff, and two to pick off one of the lead blockers.
Barnum(2) is still pulling for the front side; since the guys blocking down have actually done a pretty good job of getting push he's got a lane. Denard(3) sees the DE underneath Hopkins and gives.
And now it's over. Hopkins has indeed eliminated the Alabama DE, and Barnum reaches the hole as Smith sprints outside. Also sprinting outside: the totally unblocked Alabama LB.
Michigan's got some other problems, too, as the playside DE came through the double on the playside when Kwiatkowski released—you can see Schofield hunched over in an "oops" way right at the LOS behind Barnum. Given Smith's angle and Barnum's this is only a further indicator that Schofield got hammered on Saturday, not an actual reason the play doesn't work.
And that's all she wrote.
Who did Michigan block with Denard's legs on this play? Nobody.
[After THE JUMP: oops they did it again :( ]
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's high school action, bids farewell to a couple wide receiver targets, and looks forward to a big visit weekend for... basketball?
Get That Man A Square-Toed Shoe
Michigan commits Jaron Dukes (Marion-Franklin) and Taco Charlton (Pickerington Central) faced off against each other this past weekend; Central came away with a 45-24 victory, and MGoUser Dubs was there to take in the action. If you're looking to submit a scouting report for Future Blue Originals, this is how it's done:
DE/LB Taco Charlton, 2013: Despite Marion-Frankin running away from Taco (about 80% of the time), he managed to rack up 8 tackles, and a tackle for loss (zero sacks). It was about 50/50 as to whether he had his hand down as a DE, or whether he was lined up as an OLB. Pickerington Central did show multiple fronts, ranging from a 3-3-5(!), 3-4, and a 4-3 (with Taco as DE). He even saw around 5 snaps on offense, and caught a nice PA-pass for a 15 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter. He did leave early in the 4th quarter after an apparent shoulder injury (possibly a stinger). But after being checked with a trainer, Taco was out there after a couple of plays, only to be banned to the sideline for the rest of the game after the game was well in hand. Pickerington Central won 45-24.
As far as the "eyeball test," I must admit I was a little disappointed at Taco's lack of aggression. There were moments when a sure passing down approached, and I expected to see that pass-rushing prowess we all read about in 7 on 7's this summer, but I did not see it. The tackle guarding him was very large (some may say "fat," but I don't want to personally attack a kid), and VERY slow, so I was expecting Taco to beat him off the line, lower his shoulder, and destroy the QB. Instead, he relied more on his inside spin more than anything. I will suspect that perhaps, it was because the QB was a very good athlete, Taco was in charge of contain more than anything. Marion-Franklin sent a back to chip Taco's outside pass-rush, as well, which also would limit his opportunities. However, I feel there were times where Taco could have taken over the game but did not. I do not know if it is a motor issue, or the coaches playing him conservatively against a dual threat QB.
WR Jaron Dukes, 2013: It was very difficult for Dukes to get involved, mostly because the Marion-Franklin QB relied more on his feet than anything. The throws the QB did make were hitches, outs, slants, and screens of all sorts. That being said, Dukes still managed to haul in 5 passes (out of 8 targets) for about 42 yards. He was targeted for a TD jump-ball thrown to him early in the 1st quarter, in which he had a height advantage of at least 6 inches over the opposing defender, however, the ball was vastly under-thrown, and was broken up. Dukes also dropped a possible TD pass (at least a very large gain) during the hurry-up in the waning seconds of the 2nd. Dukes also handled the kickoff duties, which, if Michigan is looking for some sort of "Tom Dempsey style" kicker/WR hybrid, they got their man.
As far as the eyeball test goes, Dukes did not seem to show a lot of explosiveness, either off the line or to create separation against the defenders (it was kind of a soggy/muggy night, so the field may have been less-than-pristine). There were many times in which the QB was scrambling and, rather than hit that extra gear, he seemed to simply jog. Perhaps he is not used to getting much "love," as most of the passing offense derived from the slot receivers (which if true, why not put Dukes in slot?). I will say this, he did look strong after the catch, breaking a few arm tackles and showing of a pretty solid stiff-arm.
Overall, I felt that these two looked the part of a D-1 prospect. However, it is hard to tell their true potential based on their supporting cast: obviously you'll run away from Taco because his supporting DE looked half his size. And it's hard to get any love as an outside receiver when your QB cannot make the throws. So, I had to remind myself: these kids are prospects. And with that, I have great faith in the Michigan coaches that they can mold these kids into serviceable players or, hopefully, even stars.
A huge thanks to Dubs for sending this in, as well as bringing up the possibility of a Michigan wide receiver also handling kicks "Tom Dempsey style."
[Hit THE JUMP for the full recruiting roundup, including info on what could be a huge visit weekend for the basketball program.]
After a single week of play:
ALABAMA. Yeah, that'll do.
WEST VIRGINIA. I'm riding the Red Bull express until someone keeps them under sixty points, and possibly beyond that.
BIG TEN STUFF. Dammit, stupid things that exist. I dinged Wisconsin significantly from the preseason given their semi-struggles with UNI. No idea what to make of MSU's win over Boise, but raise your hand if you tackled LeVeon Bell five yards downfield. That's everyone.
VA TECH. Looked pretty janky last night, but at this point in the season a win over an actual school is worth quite a bit. Same goes for Clemson, though I think the Orange Bowl last year and Clemson's general Clemson-ness makes me leery when maybe I should not be.
SOUTH CAROLINA. Also looked janky against Vandy. I am suspicious they'll have enough offense to live up to their lofty preseason rankings.
MICHIGAN. Possibly homer overreaction to ugly loss, but I'm just looking at Michigan's lines and it's not pretty.
News bullets and other important items:
- Blake Countess is out with an ACL tear. You are totally surprised.
- Brandon Moore is out this week with an MCL strain. Taylor Lewan is "fine" and good to go for Air Force.
- Both Fitz Toussaint and Frank Clark will play this week.
- Bennie Oosterbaan's number will be unretired this week during the game vs. Air Force.
- Courtney Avery is starting at field corner.
- Alabama did stuff with their safeties and linebackers to keep Denard from running, for what it's worth.
- Gardner wants to compete for starting QB job next season (not transcribed).
“Good afternoon. You know, we looked at the film and the good news is we have 11 more opportunities to play Michigan football. We didn’t play the way we needed to play to win the football game in a lot of different areas, from a tackling standpoint to blocking at the line of scrimmage. Those are two of the biggest factors. Didn’t run the ball as we liked to and didn’t stop the run, and that is two things that as a defense and offensive unit you have to do. We’ll learn from the mistakes. We’re going to practice today. We gave the guys off yesterday because of getting in at 5 a.m. Sunday morning, so we’ll start fixing the mistkaes, talking about the mistakes, coaching them better. That’s probably the number one issue. We have to do a better job as coaches. The other part of it is making sure that the execution is the way we would like it to be to play Michigan football.”
Okay, so... Ace was in Dallas and so was Jamie and I'd forgotten that Jamie was going to be in an airport until we actually tried to call him. So we're at about 30 minutes this week.
Also, this is a terrible podcast. Do not listen to it. This happens to us after extremely terrible games. We wake up the next day wanting to do nothing, go into the studio, mumble at each other for a while, and then stop. Do not listen to this podcast.
THAT SUCKED. Yup.
BONUS. The "general podcast feed link" should now work. Let me know if it doesn't.
UPDATE: download link updated.
The usual links: