Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
FORMATION NOTES: This is nothing out of the ordinary for Michigan, but who's up for a perfect overhead view of Michigan aligning in a 4-3 under?
There are your 6, 3, 1, and five techniques left to right across the front with Gordon hanging out in what I guess is an 8 or 9.
Michigan also showed over fronts, which they have to from time to time because Minnesota loves to flip its strength.
This did not result in a discernible uptick in effectiveness.
This is the Maryland I:
This is Michgian in old friend Okie Zero.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A lot more nose tackle in this one; Washington got more time than he did in any game to date this year with Pipkins rotating in regularly; once Pipkins went down Ash did get a few snaps late. Rest of the DL was generally Clark/Heitzman/Black with Ojemudia/Wormley/Henry backing up. Glasgow got a couple snaps before the end as well.
Usual rotation at LB was halted after Bolden made some errors, and then it was just the starters. Secondary was the usual except that Avery was the starter at CB and Taylor only came in for nickel packages.
[After THE JUMP: this is the drive that never ends.]
Previously: Bryan Mone
This edition of Future Blue Originals features my first attempt at using screen capture software with streaming video; I'm still working out the kinks, so video quality should be better in future posts.
2015 commit Shaun Crawford, who's projected to play cornerback for Michigan but lines up at safety, running back, and slot receiver for Lakewood St. Edward, one of Ohio's powerhouse programs. Crawford is universally regarded as a top-150 overall prospect, listed as high as #49 overall (ESPN) and coming in at #79 (#8 CB) in the 247 Composite. The quick take on Crawford is that he's got everything you'd want in a corner except ideal size—he's listed at 5'9", 173, though he certainly doesn't play small.
St. Edward defeated Erie McDowell 56-7 in this game, which occurred two weekends ago. Crawford had 98 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, three receptions for 56 yards, a long punt return for a touchdown, a blocked field goal, and eight tackles in about three quarters of action.
Edited by yours truly, taken from full game video courtesy of iHigh.com.
Soundtrack: "Have Mercy On Me" — The Black Keys
[Hit THE JUMP for my evaluation of Crawford. SPOILER: he's pretty good, you guys.]
About Last Week:
Minus the golf. We get no respect, I tells ya. No respect at all…
Penn State (3-2, 0-1 B1G)
We’re not worthy… We’re not worthy… (Patriot-News)
Last game: Indiana 44, Penn State 24 (L)
Recap: Penn State came into this game 16-0 all-time against Indiana, and midway through the 3rd quarter they held a 14-13 lead. Then the wheels fell off. Indiana went on a 28-3 spurt, including three touchdowns in a span of 3:40 in the beginning of the 4thquarter. That, as they say, was that.
Penn State had a chance to grab control of this game early, and failed to capitalize. In their first first five drives they turned it over on downs at the Indiana 26, botched a snap on a 30 yard field goal for a loss of 31(!) yards, and had two other drives reach Indiana territory before stalling. For the game, Penn State racked up the yardage (which is unsurprising against Indiana), but couldn’t take advantage of generally good field position and sustain much of anything to the end zone when the game was still in doubt.
Hackenberg (30/55, 340, 3, 0) spread the yardage evenly between Allen Robinson (173 yards) and Not Allen Robinson (167 yards), which is pretty consistent with the rest of the season. Robinson currently has over 44% of PSU’s receiving yardage. The guy is legitimately frightening. Penn State isn’t doing anything fancy to isolate him. His two scores were on a quick slant in which he was immediately forced back outside and a hitch-and-go with a safety directly over top of him. Because he’s been lining up outside, my guess is that Countess draws Robinson with bracket help to the extent possible. I don’t know if it’ll help. For what it’s worth, Robinson did land on his back hard last week, but Penn State has indicated that he will be good to go for Saturday.
This team is as frightening as: MacGyver. He’s resourceful but under-resourced. It’s impressive that he’s able to be so productive in spite of his disadvantages. The remaining question is whether he can diffuse the bomb and take out the seven armed guards using nothing but his Allen Robinson. Fear level = 6
Michigan should worry about: The obvious answer is Allen Robinson. It is also the correct answer. But because that’s boring, I’ll say Zach Zwinak. This game will probably come down to Penn State’s passing game, but that passing game might depend on whether PSU can establish a plausible threat on the ground. If they can get ZZ Carrot Top going up the middle for 6 yards a pop early, it might loosen things up for Hackenberg and keep the DL from pinning its ears back.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Non-RR Michigan teams are 5-1 all-time in Happy Valley. We aren’t THAT far removed from the days in which We Own Penn State was a thing.
When they play Michigan: Penn State has lost both games they have played against teams carrying a pulse. Michigan has a pulse. Ergo, Michigan will certainly win. SCIENCE.
Next game: vs. #16/18 Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: More teams and things]
FORMATION NOTES: Hello "tackle over":
Since these were standard formations that happened to have Lewan and Schofield next to each other I just named them as standard formations and noted them as "tackle over" before hand. I've also started noting the TO goal line formations.
As a reminder, TEs flitting in from the side to show up behind a guard are now designated with an H. This is "tackle over Ace Big H." I still consider these guys TEs.
Also Michigan's been using this enough (and Seth asked me about it) that I dubbed the shotgun formation where there are three WR to one side of the field with two guys tight to the line stacked "shotgun trips inner stack."
Chesson is motioning to line up outside of Funchess and Dileo.
Not to be confused with "shotgun trips stack," where all three WR are lined up over each other on the hash. Or "shotgun double stack," where there are, uh, double stacks.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Offensive line was as before save for the tackle over stuff, on which AJ Williams was always the tight-end type substance on the other end of the line. When Kalis got dinged, Joey Burzynski got three or four snaps.
Butt played a ton as the H-back TE. Funchess was mostly a wide receiver; when he did line up at tight end it wasn't a run. Paskorz got some playing time in the second half as another inline TE when Michigan went to three TE sets.
With Funchess consuming more WR snaps and a ton of looks with just one WR on the field, Reynolds and Jackson saw their playing time decrease substantially. Green got in frequently, picking up ten carries, and Justice Hayes got one snap in a two-back shotgun set on third and long.
[After THE JUMP: manball.]
- Jake Ryan will be a decision that may or may not have already been made, but you won't know about it until game time.
- Kyle Kalis was limited in practice yesterday but will be full go today.
- Dennis Norfleet may get an opportunity to return punts again at some point, but it'll have to be a home game.
“We thought we got after it pretty well. Tuesday’s always a heavy work day. Assignment-wise we were pretty good on both sides of the ball. From a fundamental side we have to keep stretching our limits to becoming the best we can fundamentally. I think the guys are really working hard at that. I thought we competed well, and I thought we’re going to have another great workday today with a focus on Penn State but also on us fundamentally getting better.”
Will Jake Ryan play?
“I knew that was going to be the first question. We have another day. We’ll see where he’s at.”
How much did he do yesterday?
“Not much as the other two [SAM linebackers] rep wise.”
Is he holding up pretty well? No soreness?
Last time, Michigan grinds out six yards on their first snap by using POWER.
Michigan's second snap against Minnesota was more of the same, but a little lighter. Chesson replaced Butt, and Minnesota responded by covering him. They also shifted their line towards Lewan instead of away. The end result was much the same except Michigan didn't have an opportunity to block the last guy because Minnesota didn't have a linebacker bail.
Yes, Michigan can go nuts in the passing game against this kind of alignment, and would later; this drive—this game—is about establishing something even if it's not the most efficient way to go about doing things. After Akron and UConn you can understand this line of thinking.
With the line shifted to Lewan, he's going to kick the guy outside of him, leaving Schofield and Kalis to double the playside DT; Bryant and Kerridge will again lead through the hole.
On the snap, Bryant pulls out and heads around as the double is initiated; Bryant is out so quick that he's almost running into Devin Gardner:
This is a notable improvement from last year. Between the above frame in the next, Schofield blasts the playside DT such that he starts falling inside of Kalis. He'll end up moving to the second level, and picking up the WLB since that guy is not shooting a gap. Unfortunately, someone is shooting a gap: Hageman.
Hageman just about beats Glasgow clean. There is a little bit of delay here that prevents him from swallowing the play in the backfield; this is still pretty bad. But the gap is even more enormous this time at the handoff point. It stretches almost from the hashes to the numbers as Michigan pounds the two playside DL away from each other:
This time Minnesota has sufficient bodies in the hole to deal with it as all three linebackers demand a body. Hageman is threatening enough from behind to force Toussaint to alter his path a bit, but with Kerridge latched onto one linebacker, Bryant about to pop a second, and a cavern to operate in he doesn't slow down the fatal step.
That safety is unaccounted for, though, and waiting two yards downfield.
Toussaint pounds out some YAC.
Items Of Interest
Sometimes you can do everything right and get five yards. At the end of the day there's always one more defender than you have blockers. Here every block save Glasgow's gets executed and contact is still made two yards downfield.
This is both a reason not to get too worried about YPC in this game and wonder about the long-term viability of the tackle over buddy cop movie. When you can execute every block just right and get five yards the opponents is overplaying you like whoah and you are either so confident you are able to get these five yards on every play or locked in a 12-10 death struggle kind of game. Here it turns out to be the former, as Michigan scores touchdowns on 5 of 8 drives, albeit with a lot of help from third and long conversions to Funchess after their grind game clunked out.
However: as mentioned in the last post, tackle over was literally 90% run in this one and when they ran it was 83% run to the tackle side. Is this configuration powerful enough to grind these yards out against actual defenses? Can Michigan get enough play action off of this to keep defenses honest and get the big chunk plays they'll have to if a ton of their offense is grinding out four yards against a stacked front? Is this anything more than a get-healthy gimmick effective against a terrible defense?
I don't know.
This is what Bryant expected to see on the last play. He pulls around and whacks the MLB, like he did on the last play; this time the MLB is not already being blocked because a differently-aligned Minnesota defense scrapes the MLB past Schofield releasing downfield. This is one of those things that may come with experience: the ability to improvise profitably.
Meanwhile, Bryant gets there, hits a guy, woot. This is night and day from last year's guards.
Glasgow did get smoked. Hageman's pretty good, though, and he was very quiet in this one. Hageman's play didn't end up making a tackle but I think it did impact the outcome of this play because…
Toussaint puts his head down and takes what he can get. With all this room Toussaint can threaten both sides of Kerridge's block, and we've seen him dip inside to pop out before. This would be an excellent time to do that if he was not being chased by an angry 300 pound man. As it is he just runs directly upfield into the safety and runs him over for near first down yardage. That's the when-in-doubt solution, and it's the one Toussaint took consistently in this game.
Speaking of which. The bye week seems like it was spent telling Toussaint that if he does not go hard north and south he will be dipped in uncomfortably warm pudding for hours at a time. This is the kind of run where bounce-it hesitation gets you clubbed and there is a guy waiting that he can see; previously he might have tried the thing I mentioned above and gotten tackled at the line. Instead we're talking about the yards he gained after contact instead of trying to calculate how many he lost by trying to avoid it. Thumbs up.
This is now Lewan's day. This is play two. The rest of the game is basically this for Lewan, whether it's pass or run: hello, overmatched donkey about 60 pounds lighter than me. It is time to go out to the numbers. I gave him a ton of half-points that maybe should have been full ones.