fair point that
Previously: Penn State Defense
not full-blown Ghost Gardner, but definitely erratic [Fuller]
Penn State's offense looked somewhat more functional against Northwestern than they did against, say, Temple, when Christian Hackenberg looked destined to finish the season in a full-body cast. Thanks in large part to the emergence of slippery freshman running back Saquon Barkley, the PSU offense is now at least semi-functional.
It's hard to say it's much better than that, though. Here's how they did against Northwestern:
- Seven three-and-outs
- One four-and-out
- Two five-and-outs
- 8-play, 30-yard drive; interception
- 8-play, 39-yard drive; punt
- 9-play, 79-yard TD drive
- 5-play, 70-yard TD drive that should've been a three-and-out; 30 yards came from a roughing the punter and a late hit on Hackenberg after a scramble
- 5-play, 71-yard TD drive
That's two real scoring drives, another on which half the credit goes to Northwestern doing dumb things, and a lot of ugly.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
The good news for PSU is they brought back a lot of players. You know the bad news if you watched them play last year.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Pro-style to a fault. Penn State's offense was most successful when they spread Northwestern out and ran the ball; they'd do this once in a while and then go right back to doomed under-center runs with an extra OL lining up at H-back. James Franklin is a great recruiter, but there's plenty of reason—and mounting evidence—to believe he's not much of a tactician.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Penn State mostly ran inside zone, split zone, and the occasional power. Brian asked me to check if they ran any zone stretches since Michigan struggled so badly with them against Indiana; they ran none.
Hurry it up or grind it out? In very welcome news after last weekend, Penn State is dead last in the country in adjusted pace. They're brutally slow. This should prevent them from exploiting Ryan Glasgow's absence nearly as much as Indiana did; the Hoosiers not only wore out the starting DTs, they also prevented Michigan from subbing when the backups were caught on the field for extended time. PSU's offense isn't built to do that.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Hey man you never know when something that looks good is going to suddenly disintegrate into a pile of sawdust or like the Fed is going to say "rates are now a billion percent" so get a mortgage with Matt. I may be overreacting to the content of this post. It's probably going to be fine if you don't refinance or whatever. But it could also not be fine and you could get stuck on the field for ninety mortgages or something.
FORMATION NOTES: When I say "nickel under" I do mean a 4-3 under with nickel personnel.
Bolden is standing up on the LOS as the SAM with Hill filling in as a second ILB. Wilson is off the screen as a very deep S as per usual.
M occasionally tucked a linebacker inside one of their DEs, which is a "bear" front:
Nickel buck denotes the buck LB right behind the nose. This was rare.
Ross got in as a buck and stood up and I'm just pretending he's a DE, okay? That's what I'm pretending.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Michigan spent almost the entire game in a nickel aside from some goal line sets and a few dime packages. With Glasgow out, Hurst started. Strobel was his backup at first. He got two or three stretches of playing time and did poorly. Late Michigan started playing Henry at nose a lot. There was palpable frustration with Hurst on stretch plays. Godin also returned, though he had a very bad day.
Bolden/Morgan at LB except for two drives with Gedeon replacing Bolden and one with Gedeon replacing Morgan.
The secondary saw Thomas start over Hill again. When Thomas was hurt in the first quarter Hill got the bulk of the game. Clark and Stribling are still splitting time but it is increasingly clear that Clark has won the job.
[After THE JUMP: seriously, Kevin Wilson, I hate you]
well, yeah, he would be nice to have right now [Fuller]
The Big Ten boasts some elite defensive lines, and this week's opponent, Penn State, has a group that's up there with any of them. The fearsome line combined with defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's aggressive blitz schemes has produced the best pass rush in the country, and that was on full display two weeks ago against Northwestern, when they came away with six sacks (PSU was on a bye last week).
Despite being down their starting quarterback for most of the game, however, Northwestern managed to expose some flaws in the PSU defense, and they're flaws Michigan has the potential to exploit.
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
Penn State lost safety Jordan Lucas to an undiscosed injury early in the Northwestern game; all-conference-quality LB Nyeem Wartman-White has been out all season, which has really hurt PSU's LB play.
Base Set? 4-3 multiple. PSU should be in an under front for much of the game against Michigan's heavier sets; they'll also spend plenty of snaps in an over front and will often shade SLB Brandon Bell over the slot receiver in three-wide sets.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
About Last Week:
I like curling.
I don’t watch it very often. In fact, I pretty much forget it exists for 206-week stretches at a time. But for two weeks during the Winter Olympics, I’m a curling fan. And when America is curling, I’m into it. I’m chastising a guy whose name I didn’t know the week before for a thing that I am only 80% sure was good or bad. This guy has been working without pay for this goal for the better part of his adult life, and guys like me swoop in when the big torchy thing goes poof and start screaming at the TV about BROOMING HARDER DAMMIT.
The wonderful thing about spectator sports is that you can select your level of emotional investment. Athletes don’t have that luxury. For them, emotional investment is a byproduct of the tangible, physical investment. For fans, deciding to go mentally in on a team is a conscious choice. And like any other wager, the more you bet on your team, the more you have to win or lose. Odds are that you, dear MGoReader, know this phenomenon well.
I drove the four and a half hours up to the Michigan-Indiana game on Saturday. I sat by some very nice, rather intoxicated Hoosier fans, and for the first couple of hours we made amusing small talk about Indiana’s #CHAOSTEAM nature. They exhibited the kind of gallows humor you would expect from a team that had been through what Indiana fans had been through this year. They had hope, of course, but it was the kind of guarded Charlie-Brown-kicking-the-football hope. Experience taught them to guard their soul dongs against the inevitable.
By late in the third quarter, they had stopped talking as much. They had started to believe again. Thrice bitten, they had yet found the way to come back for more. And by the time Delano Hill batted that fourth down pass down, they were inconsolable. They stared off into the cold, cruel evening as if searching for the deity who had wronged them again. No one would have blamed them if they had mailed this one in. But like a poker player who had taken multiple bad beats, they went all in one last time only to lose on the final card.
Sports are wonderful and terrible because we allow them to be so.
[After THE JUMP: some fear, mostly loathing]
[What is this? Joe Pichey, serious bbq-ing dude, has been writing up tailgating recipes on his blog MMMGoBluBBQ and we "borrowed" him. Stubb's sponsored it because they're fans of the site and good people, and this whole Joe-MGoBlog-Stubb's-Readers thing seems like a match of destiny.]
As you can see, I am still on my pork kick. I'm not going to lie, I am loving every minute of it. I recently found a few nice double cut, bone-in pork chops at my local butcher. Anytime I am cooking pork or chicken, I like to brine them first to add a little moisture. I also had some bourbon laying around, so it seemed like a great fit. These chops were not only tender and juicy, they were extremely flavorful. The sweetness in the brine along with the Stubbs Sticky Sweet sauce paired well with the pork and the peaches. Plus, they had built in handle. I love eating stuff with handles. It's just more fun.
- Double Cut Bone-in Pork Chop
- Stubbs Sticky Sweet Sauce
- 1 shot of Bourbon
- Stubbs Pork Rub
- Brine: (Prepare at least 4 -24 hours in advance)
- 1/3 cup salt
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 gallon water
- 2 shots Bourbon
[After the JUMP: how to keep a good pork kick going]
So we were told on Monday that the receivers and tight ends were playing as well as any group in the Big Ten. They’ve taken a big step forward, it seems like. What do you think has been the cause of that?
“I think it’s just impossible to work hard and practice really well and not get a lot better. If you do the right things it will pay off. It’s just a matter of time, I think. Really that’s all I would attribute it to.”
Can you measure the synchronization change from the start of the season til now with Jake Rudock and the receivers?
“Just in terms of being on the same page?”
Just being more used to each other.
“Yeah. I think I wouldn’t say that we weren’t used to each other, but with the pass game relationship there’s definitely a benefit of spending more time together. Kind of, as I’ve said before, it’s just a matter of improving over time.”
When did you start to see those improvements pay off on the field?
“In terms of Jake and the receivers?”
“I thought we were going to throw the ball well against Utah, so…it’s not like an ‘aha’ moment, I guess. It’s not like an instance where you go all of a sudden Jake’s good, Jake Rudock’s good or Amara and Jehu are good. It’s just a matter of improving and connecting on plays; more plays in week two than we missed in week one, week three and four, etc. It’s not like a one week, one moment thing even though people will try to make Indiana out to be like that.”
I got scolded a bit Monday for asking about Ian Bunting. He was starting to contribute quite a bit in the passing game early in the year. What’s he got to do to get back to that level and see more playing time?
“He does all the right things. He’s working tremendously hard and is practicing really, really well. If there was a downside of having a really good, deep group at one position I think that would be it. Not everybody always gets to play as much as they’d like or contribute in the ways that they would like, but he’s doing all the right things and hopefully in the next few weeks he’ll be able to show his improvement.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]