The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
"Well, we're ready to go out for the next one, I guess. That was an exciting game. The thing I'd say is that I was very proud of how hard our kids played and how they were very resilient. The biggest thing -- we've talked about it all since we've been in it, is red zone defense is critical. If you can keep teams from scoring seven down there, you're going to win. There were so many opportunities down there, which is not always a great thing or a good thing, but that happens when you play a good football team, and I was really proud of our kids, the way they played down there."
How much do you take into account how good Notre Dame's offensive line is when you judge your defensive line?
"They're very good. They're strong, they're big, they're experienced. But I still believe that we should win the battles we're supposed to win. A couple times we gave up yardage that we shouldn't have given up because guys got out of their gaps. Guys didn't play the technique. When you're a young player, you have to play great technique. That's the only chance you have. I think a couple times we didn't do that. We weren't gap-sound a couple times as far as fitting our gaps. When you look at our tape, you're sitting there going, 'This should have been a hit.' I go back to the fact that they all stuck together, though, and they all played so hard during the game. Now it's time to move on to the next one."
I wish I'd remembered that Bob Diaco linebackers play like they're hopped up on goofballs before the game. Here's the mesh point on Michigan's first offensive snap:
One ILB is almost to the line of scrimmage and the other is a yard back. This is way closer than almost any other team will be, and it is absolutely consistent. ND linebackers fire hard on any run action.
For the most part it's worked for them. Michigan won the Denard after Dentist game despite getting ten yards on eight tailback carries. ND's defense last year was lights out. Notre Dame's hyper-aggression at that spot has been a problem for Michigan's run game for the last couple years, as they haven't had effective counters. Their main one is the waggle, and we all know how that worked out last year.
Not much changed in this one early. Michigan's tailback running game was drips and drabs because of a lack of an effective counter trey. (You know, that play they showed against Central where Taylor Lewan pulled to the backside… ineffectively.) The longer runs they did acquire were almost entirely Fitzgerald Toussaint forcing errors out of ND safeties. For example, the UFR chart on Toussaint's early 14-yard sideline run has four minuses for bad blocks and no positives. Yikes.
Let's get a baseline in this one and see how Michigan responded later. This is a second-quarter zone stretch in which Michigan puts two tight ends to the top of the screen; ND responds with a rare three-man front (they were a 4-3 in this game that occasionally lined up in a 3-4 as a curveball) with a safety walked down:
This looks like a called blitz but in practice it's difficult to tell the difference between an actual blitz and the playside linebacker hauling ass at the first gap he sees. It's just alignment. Notre Dame got some TFLs out of this gap-shooting, and even when they didn't those linebackers forced Michigan to disengage from double-teams on Tuitt, Nix, and Schwenke early, with predictable results.
Meanwhile, the backside linebacker would ignore any cutback possibilities and flow parallel to the line of scrimmage at approximately the same rate the tailback did:
The overall effect is six guys at the line with one hovering behind for cleanup and that overhanging safety able to provide quick support. Even when Notre Dame screwed up this was mostly effective.
A moment post snap, Michigan opens up a gap as they go to double the two defensive tackles:
Note that the backside players on the ND DL are stepping away from the play, which they can do because the MLB is jetting into the gap they vacate. This also allows the backside LB to flow as he does.
Some of this is tough to see, but in this frame:
- Miller has disengaged from Nix in an attempt to cut the charging LB, which he does not do. He does knock him off balance somewhat, possibly contributing to his overrun of the play.
- Meanwhile, Glasgow and Lewan try to handle two guys who have disappeared from the frame: the playside end and charging safety.
- Both tight ends have locked on the playside LB, who is the force player.
- Schofield chases the MLB, who he has no angle on, but could still block if Toussaint cuts back.
A moment later the LB flashes into the backfield wide of Toussaint and runs by; playside end got his legs caught up in traffic and ends up falling, pancaked. Both tight ends are still on the force guy:
This is one of them gap things?
Except it's got a linebacker in it.
BONUS! Here is a super slo-mo version.
(Does this help? If this helps let me know.)
Items Of Interest
Notre Dame got away with at least a couple errors here. The playside end ends up underneath Glasgow on the ground and they spent a linebacker blowing past Toussaint to little effect. (They did get Miller down but offenses will take one for one trades.) If that can happen and Michigan picks up three yards you can tell that it's tough sledding.
Tough sledding. The goofballs approach makes life tough on offensive linemen, who have to make split second decisions to leave guy and then try to block a rampant guy with tons of momentum before they are ready. This is tough, and Michigan didn't do a good job of it.
Toussaint could put his foot in the ground here and make a cut. Schofield is chasing that linebacker and you occasionally see the blocking develop such that the tailback can make a hard cut upfield behind that OL and suddenly make him relevant. Right about here…
…if Toussaint goes hard north and south aiming for the hash he may shoot past that linebacker and into open space. That's why Schofield keeps following that guy despite not having an angle. It may not work, but you're at least giving yourself a shot. Toussaint had a good day overall; here I think he missed a cut.
The offensive line… I punt. They had a very tough first half against this line, and these linebacker gap-shots don't help. Miller just barely throws off that linebacker if he does anything, but then again that linebacker zips past the play he's moving so fast. If that guy can't make a play, can the OL make a play?
Meanwhile Glasgow gets a pancake that is probably aided by the ND lineman tripping on the blitzer's feet; Lewan ends up putting a safety on the ground. Points for them. This one was a lot better blocked than some.
Funchess is very frustrating. On this play, the linebacker to the top of the screen is obviously the force player*. Butt obviously has him kicked out. Funchess continues to block the guy the whole damn play instead of releasing downfield and getting a hat on the safety. There is no way this is right.
Meanwhile, on the single inverted veer Michigan ran, Notre Dame hyperaggression bit them as one of their linebackers roared up a gap and pursued Toussaint, as did Tuitt. Gardner pulled and got a nice gain. It could have been a lot nicer, but Funchess turned around again:
Also not right, as with Kalis headed to the outside the linebacker is the optioned guy. I know Michigan's blocked guys who are supposed to be optioned before; even if that is the nominal plan, nothing good ever comes of turning 180 degrees when you're a blocker.
That left no one to take the only guy standing between Gardner and a touchdown:
I guess it's better that the play wiped out by a nonexistent holding call was nine yards instead of a thirty-one yard touchdown?
We just saw this happen against Central Michigan; it's closing in on a pattern. Funchess remains a tight end in name only. The mental stuff is more bothersome than any lack of technique. All he has to do on some of these plays is vaguely bother a guy and Michigan can break a long one. Hopefully he makes some progress here in the next few weeks, but the relative prominence of Jake Butt in this game is not a coincidence.
*[IE, the guy who sits on the end of the line and accepts a kickout block. He positions himself such that if the back tries to bounce it outside he either gets tackled for has to take such a circuitous route that by the time he gets the corner for guys are waiting for him. Since things usually go badly—very badly—for the defense if the force player is not doing his job, he is limited in how dynamic he can be what with throwing blockers away and getting TFLs, so doubling him is useless.]
Michigan did exploit this, eventually. You may notice that I'm not complaining about how Michigan didn't adjust to this. This is a tease.
Al Borges CMU press conference:
"He's a third play guy. You guys have heard me talk about the third play, right? He's a third play guy."
Devin Gardner's ridiculous redzone efficiency last year has gone to ludicrous this year. The standard answer we've been giving for this is "well his legs and size" but there's been more to it. I grabbed this one play from the ND game because it shows several things that Gardner and Borges have been doing to defeat what should have been one of their toughest redzone opponents.
What you saw: Michigan gets a 1st and goal from the 2 yard line after a pass interference. They line up in…is that an unbalanced formation? Then Devin checks out of it, runs what seems like an option play, then dives through the whole thing suddenly for the score. Afterward we learn Hoke was trying to call timeout.
Play the First: Ace 2TE Twins Unbalanced HB Dive:
It is unbalanced: Funchess (on the l.o.s. just outside the left hash) is covered by Reynolds, and Schofield
is an eligible receiver would be eligible if he had a non-OL number on. There's also some epic space between the end (Sheldon Day) and the linebacker to his side (Shembo).
The middle linebackers are seeing this and pointing. Let 'em; we're motioning to something else anyway.
[after the jump]
I agree with these men, whatever they happen to be saying. Would you like your Gallon touchdown in… Italian or something?
Les Miles is in a lot of trouble, unless he isn't in any. Sports Illustrated has published the first of five articles detailing NCAA malfeasance at Oklahoma State initiated during the Les Miles era and continuing today. This one is about players getting money from boosters—a lot of them:
In separate interviews seven other former Cowboys told SI they received cash payments; 29 other OSU players were named by teammates as having also taken money. Those payments, which stretched from 2001 to at least '11, were primarily delivered three ways: a de facto bonus system based on performances on the field, managed by an assistant coach; direct payments to players from boosters and coaches independent of performance; and no-show and sham jobs-- including work related to the renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium -- that involved at least one assistant coach and several boosters.
The moral outrage here is all gone…
One or two standouts bought a new car or expensive jewelry, team members say, but the vast majority of the players used the extra cash to purchase everyday items -- food, clothing, tickets to a movie. "There were some athletes who were almost starving," says Carter. "Wherever the money came from, they were like, Yeah, I'll take that."
…but flagrantly violating NCAA rules is, you know, not good. And if you're wondering why so many dudes are breaking omerta here; we may find out at the end of the series, which promises an article on:
One of the selling points of college football is that it changes lives, that young men have their character and fortunes enhanced by taking part in the sport, even if they remain on campus for only a short time. But in the past decade, player after player has been driven out of Stillwater, returning to worlds they had hoped to escape. Some have been incarcerated, others live on the streets, many have battled drug abuse, and a few have attempted suicide. COMING IN NEXT WEEK'S SI/ONLINE SEPT. 17
That does retain outrage.
I'm surprised, but not that surprised. Miles has left a trail of sketchy events in his wake that get overwhelmed by his nuttiness. I may have been 100% wrong about Hoke during the last coaching search, but at least I was right about Miles. Again, it's wonderful to look at Brady Hoke and know that he will neither choose a dumb punt nor turn purple on the sideline nor have a massive cadre of discontent former players who hate him so much to take him down.
Side note: I feel really bad for Brian Phillips. Squinky's revenge. I may feel less bad when Oklahoma State gets a warning squint from the NCAA.
You oughta have excellent medical insurance. Purdue football in two articles. One:
Purdue safety to play vs. Indiana St. with two broken hands
It's not unusual for a college football player to wrap up a broken hand and play with it, particularly for a big game. But Purdue safety Landon Feichter is preparing to play for his Boilermakers' home opener against Indiana State Saturday with two broken hands.
Purdue safety Landon Feichter breaks leg
Feichter was forced to leave Saturday's game in the first half with a leg injury and coach Darrell Hazell confirmed on Saturday night that Feichter had suffered a broken leg.
It's just a flesh wound.
The moral of the story is if you see Purdue football coming towards you, punch it in the nose and run away. Purdue football will have a broken nose, but won't be able to tell.
Jeremy Gallon presents. Okay, official Michigan tumblr, okay:
Gardner knows this is going on, and enjoys looking at the back of his own head.
So that explains it. Via Doug Karsch, Jeremy Gallon describes his game:
"That was a great performance. After the game, I asked him, 'How tall are you, and how tall do you play?' He said, 'I'm 5-8 and a half, but I play like I'm 5-9.'
Now is not then. Orson found this. It is Greg Robinson:
THE BEAVER IS OUT! THE BEAVER IS OUT!
This man was in charge of our defense. He is a weirdo who sets everything on fire. How does that guy get hired by anyone to do anything more complicated than clean gutters?
Saying a quarterback reminds you of Erik Ainge of Tennessee can be good and bad. It's good, because he's mobile, physically gifted, and often fearless. It's bad because sometimes that means Evil Erik Ainge, the one who threw interceptions when the team could least afford it. Gardner sort of reminds me of Ainge. Tommy Rees, however, might BE Erik Ainge, using a warm body as a spiritual proxy to replay his career in an alternate historical line.
Accuracy issues largely put aside, Gardner's main issue is Reesin' it too often.
Yes. Throw it to Dileo. From Michigan Monday:
Drew Dileo had three catches for 18 yards out of the slot, including the final touchdown of the game on a nice option route that left a defender reminiscing about where Dileo used to be and no longer was.
Get this man the ball.
LAZERS. Stewart Mandel:
That No. 17 Michigan beat the comparably ranked No. 14 Irish is not especially surprising. That it rolled up 41 points on a very talented Notre Dame defense, however, is eye-opening. In particular, quarterback Devin Gardner put all questions to rest about what Michigan's offense will look like post-Denard Robinson. It looks really darn explosive, primarily because Gardner -- who wore No. 98 this week in honor of 1940 Heisman winner Tom Harmon -- has asserted himself as a laser-armed passer.
…Gardner's skills were never more evident than on his last touchdown pass, which came on second-and-goal from the four-yard line with 4:18 remaining. With Notre Dame pass rushers Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo coming at him full bore from opposite sides, Gardner set his feet and threw a perfectly placed dart to receiver Drew Dileo in the end zone.
Probably not a rivalry. This is on the official Notre Dame football blog:
That Notre Dame was struggling against Michigan made me feel that void much more acutely than I would had we been winning, or even struggling against another opponent.
But this was Michigan.
I was shaking in the aftermath of the two fourth-quarter pass interference calls, completely enraged. “I can’t remember the last time I was this pissed,” I texted my dad, who replied, “2011.”
Oh, yeah. 2011.
Etc.: Michigan moves into BCS bowl projections. MVictors has everything you need to know about the Harmon stuff. USF dude impressed with M-ND. Gardner and Gallon postgame. NDMSPaint does Eminem. Northwestern QBs were rather good against Syracuse. Stuffing the Passer. Go. Partake.
I believe this is called bowling a turkey:
Click for the original, unedited GIF, though the above is how that play is now going to live on in my memory. Many, many more GIFs coming tomorrow afternoon.
- Courtney Avery is getting better, was still limited on Saturday.
- Joe Reynolds was also limited.
- Hoke liked the way the secondary played. Playing soft coverage was by design.
"It was an exciting environment, and it was great to win the football game the other night. Can't say enough about the Michigan fans, the students, and the people who were in that stadium. It was electric, it was definitely something that was helpful when they were loud. It was enough of a distraction to some degree, so that was great. I like how our team stuck together. I don't think we were perfect by any means, and there was a lot from the offense, defense, and kicking game that we can go back to work on, and that's what we have to do. But it was great to win the football game. Proud of our kids on the team. I thought they complimented each other when they needed to from an offensive and defensive standpoint. It's good to win, but now it's on to Akron. Starting to work on the Zips and what they're all about."
What do you take from the Notre Dame game from each side of the line of scrimmage?
"I'd say a couple things. From an offensive standpoint we've got to pick up some of the interior blitzes better. I know Darryl [Funk] was disappointed because he thought they had had enough looks to do a better job in that part of it, that phase of it. Defensively, we tried to play and did for most of the game, play with a seven-man front. We have to fit the run a little better in a seven man front. At the same time, Coach Mattison talked about changing the math, which means getting off a block and making a tackle. We've got to do that a lot better."
What do you say or do to have your guys avoid a letdown against Akron?