During the season I’ll be posting a weekly review/preview/tidbit piece. For now it’s named Mid-Week Statistical Nuggetry but I am open to better ideas. Within the article I will try and look at pertinent notes from the past game, and look forward to our next opponent. Occasionally a bigger topic might come out of the previous games that will get a full treatment.
As a side note, after Week 1’s games the database now has crossed the 1,000,000 play mark.
Plays That Made the Day
A new addition for this year. I went back over the last eight years of data and have added a “live” win percentage indicator based on score, down and distance and possession. It’s still being tweaked but for the most part it is in place. Using this, I will try and pick out the most valuable and least valuable plays for each game in terms of WPA (Win Percent Added).
Bad Play #3, 5% lost. Carder hits White for 17 yards to move Western into the Red Zone on their second drive of the day.
Bad Play #2, 6% lost. Denard misses Roundtree on third down on the opening drive of the second half, forcing a three and out punt after good starting field position.
Bad Play #1, 7% lost. On 3rd and 7 on the opening drive, Carder hits White for 14 yards to set up first and goal.
Big Play #3, 8% added. Western Michigan misses a 38 yard field goal with the score tied at 7 early in the second quarter.
Big Play #2, 9% added. Kovacs sacks Carder, forcing a fumble and Herron scoops and scores to push the lead to push Michigan’s lead to 17.
Big Play #1, 35% added. No brainer here. With the score still tied at 7, Jake Ryan hits Carder and Big Play Brandon Herron is there for the pick six, taking Michigan from a 38% chance of victory to a 73% shot.
Brandon Herron’s Big Day
With two defensive touchdowns, Brandon Herron added 9.1 points of value in just the returns, not to mention 8.5 points in value from the turnovers themselves. Since 2003 only one player has ever accounted for more value in what I call miscellaneous returns (any return that’s not a punt or kickoff) than Michigan linebacker did Saturday: In 2008 Utah was playing at San Diego State and the Utes’ Deshawn Richard returned two Ryan Lindley passes for touchdowns, one for 89 yards and the second for 38. The two returns barely eked ahead of Herron with 9.2 points in added value.
Special Teams’ Bad Day
Michigan finished the day –2.8 PAN against the Broncos Saturday. All five special teams units were below zero.
Punt return was the closest to zero at –0.1. Kick return was also serviceable at –0.2. With Hagerup, the punt team was –0.5, the Gibbons was –0.9 thanks to the blocked PAT and kickoff was obviously the worst at –1.1. The kickoffs weren’t great, 48th out of 75 teams on Saturday, but the coverage was even worse, coming in 71st out of 75 on Saturday.
Field Position and the Offense’s Short Day
Last week Michigan’s offense had the fewest number of relevant drives (4) of any team facing an FBS opponent. On average, those four possessions should have yielded 7 points, they yielded 14 (2 defensive TDs and a final touchdown after they already had a 17 point lead). Michigan was +1.66 points per drive (PPD – Expected PPD), which was tenth best for the week.
The sample size is extremely minimal here so plenty of caveats apply, but considering how little opportunity the offense had, they didn’t do terrible, but they weren’t exactly Wisconsin scoring 38 in six drives with an expectation of 13 either.
On the flip side the defense faced an expected 13 points and gave up 10 and Western Michigan missed a field goal that is made about 68% of the time. This obviously doesn’t factor the defensive touchdowns which more than negated points actually allowed.
Biggest Comebacks From Back in the Day
Even if Michigan wouldn’t have been able to score with their good field position when the game was eventually called, they probably would have at least taken the game into the fourth quarter. I ran fourth quarter comebacks of 24 or more points through the database and since 2003 there has been only one.
Last year Kansas’s big comeback over Colorado from 28 down in the fourth quarter is the only game I could find in the last eight years where a team came back from 24 or more in the fourth quarter, although TCU actually came back from 24 down to take the lead against Baylor Friday before losing it in the end. Ten teams have come back from 24 down prior to the fourth quarter, most notably Auburn in last year’s Iron Bowl.
It Was Over Before the Lightning Called it a Day
One of the benefits of the WPA metric is the ability to track the progress of the day and put it in you know what form:
The big interception return from Herron made a dramatic swing and Michigan’s win percent hit 100% for the first time after Michael Shaw’s long TD run.
*This is still a bit of work in progress so some of the jaggedness in the chart isn’t real. I am having some challenges getting the win percent smooth across possession changes but overall the trends are right.
Notre Dame at Night
A quick mini-preview of Saturday’s history making showdown. Numbers from last week aren’t opponent adjusted, numbers from last year are.
Michigan last week: +4
Notre Dame defense last week: +8
Michigan last year: +6
Notre Dame defense last year: +2
Michigan last week: +2
Notre Dame defense last week: +4
Michigan last year: +3
Notre Dame defense last year: +6
Notre Dame Rush
Notre Dame last week: +5
Michigan defense last week: –2
Notre Dame last year: +0
Michigan defense last year: -3
Notre Dame Pass
Notre Dame last week: –2
Michigan defense last week: +0
Notre Dame last year: +0
Michigan defense last year: -3
Michigan last week: –2.8, bad in kickoff and kicking
Notre Dame last week: –5.1, really bad in kicking and punting
My numbers are slightly more favorable than Vegas but still tilt toward the Irish.
Notre Dame by 2
It's time for another Thursday Recruitin' post, and this week includes more rankings, a lot of visit news, and a very interesting tidbit off the 24/7 message boards. Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc. — as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Justin Hopkins Goes to the TomVH School of Cryptic Messages
247Sports recruiting analyst Justin Hopkins posted this on Tuesday in the Michigan-Notre Dame thread on The Blue Board, 24/7's U-M message board:
Gratuitous video of the week: It's only appropriate that we lead off with some fullback SMASH.
THAT'S MANBALL YOU'RE PICKING OUT FROM YOUR SHATTERED TEETH, BRONCO WOOOOO
Reminder: dotted underline mean a video that will pop up for you when you click.
Formation notes: As noted by many, Michigan was about 70% shotgun in this game. They showed some I-form, a few ace sets, a few big sets, and one unbalanced line. I'm not sure breaking down the percentages is going to mean much given the paucity of snaps and big lead. We'll get a better picture of the offense in a pressure situation this week.
Substitution notes: Schofield played the entire game at left guard. Lewan had to come out for a couple snaps after losing a shoe; when that happened Mealer went in at RT and Huyge flipped to LT. Toussaint got the bulk of the work at RB with Shaw and Smith getting carries here and there.
Moore was the second TE and only one to play other than Koger; Hemingway, Roundtree, Gallon, Grady, and Dileo were receivers on passing downs. Jackson played but those were all runs IIRC.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Robinson||11|
|Koger(+1) blocks down on the playside end as Lewan(+1) and Schofield(+1) pull around, both picking off linebackers. Toussaint(+1) leads the way for Robinson, hitting Schofield's guy as he threatens to break outside and driving the pair back into the last LB. Hemingway(-1) totally whiffs on his guy; Robinson can cut past him but slips to the ground just past the first down marker.|
|RUN+: Koger, Lewan, Schofield, Toussaint||RUN-: Hemingway|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 2TE Twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||4|
|The old Minor play where Robinson takes a step towards the LOS late and the RB attacks downhill. It's a little like the pistol. Schofield(+1) kicks out the playside DE; Molk and Omameh double the NT and there is a crease playside. It's getting filled by the S quickly but it's where Toussaint(-1) should go, probably. He cuts back. This puts him in the path of the NT, who is spinning backside; NT falls past the play. Toussaint is nimble enough to get behind him. This means he runs up the back of Molk and Omameh. That S and a few other guys make a pile.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5)||RUN-: Toussaint(0.5)|
|M39||2||6||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Hitch||Roundtree||3|
|Simple pitch and catch as the CB bails at the snap. Defense reacts quickly and holds it down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M42||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||4|
|Schofield pulls around. Huyge(-1) is blocking down and loses his slanting DE a bit. This isn't serious enough to get the DE in but the ground given up almost disrupts Schofield's pull. He does make it, though, kicking out a linebacker(+1). Omameh(+1) pancakes the other MLB; Toussaint(+1) kicks out the playside OLB. Safety is charging hard but can't get to Robinson before the first down.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Toussaint, Omameh||RUN-: Huyge|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Tunnel screen||Gallon||1|
|Man, do I like the bubble way better here. The play action fake sucks the playside OLB up and if this was a bubble it would be one blocker, one defender, and Gallon—probably a good chunk. On the tunnel Gallon's coming inside just as the OLB reads the fake. He forces Gallon upfield and inside. Gallon does well to turn a two yard loss into a minimal gain. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)|
|M47||2||9||I-form||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||4|
|Some third down back. Huyge(+1) gets a much better block this time, nailing his man inside and out of the gap. WMU is playing to spill this: the DE dives inside and an OLB scrapes over the top to catch bounce-outs. DE does a pretty good job, leaving Smith no choice but to hit it up behind Huyge's good block. In there Koger(-0.5) has only done a meh job on the MLB, who is sliding towards the LOS, where he trips Smith. I have an impulse to RPS -1 this that I know is bad.|
|O49||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||10|
|Other side of the line so Omameh pulls. Lewan(+2) goes EPIC DONKEY, first blocking down on the DT with Schofield and sealing him, then peeling to pancake the playside LB. Omameh doesn't really have anyone to block; he's concentrating on the other LB but I'd like to see him read that and beeline for the safety. Those guys end up at a pile at the LOS; Robinson cuts behind it to avoid the safety and gets a few more.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan(2)||RUN-:|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Pass||PA TE Seam||Koger||11|
|Zone read fake draws up the linebackers and opens up Koger. Robinson zips it high, forcing Koger to extend to grab it. At the same time he gets lit up by the safety. He hangs on. Nice catch. (MA, 1, protection N/A)|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||5|
|Doubles on both DTs; the playside one sees Schofield shove the guy and move to the second level, where there is no one to block because the WMU LB has shot up through the gap to the inside. This is to no avail as Toussaint is already outside. He's got a lane. Molk is doing okay against the playside DT and the gap is narrow. That DT reaches out to arm-tackle. Toussaint hops through it and then has to leap over Lewan, who was chucked to the ground by the DE. He's then in no position to deal with the safety; he still gets decent yardage. I think half points for Lewan and Molk for creating the hole and a half point to Toussaint for getting what he can.|
|RUN+: Lewan(0.5), Molk(0.5), Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O23||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||QB draw||Robinson||1|
|I'm not sure if this is anyone's fault or just an RPS. WMU line slants playside so the NT ends up impacting Omameh, not Molk. Omameh lets him outside, which means Robinson has to cut behind. This robs Toussaint of his angle on the MLB. I think I do blame Omameh(-1) because Schofield(+1) had the same problem and did better; Molk(-1) still had an MLB angle and whiffed. He tackles after a minimal gain.|
|RUN+: Schofield||RUN-: Molk, Omameh|
|O22||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Speed out||Dileo||3|
|IE: cover zero. They send seven. Michigan runs speed outs with the slots and I think this is a missed read from the start since the safety is way off Grady on the other out and he's got an easier throw and obvious first down over there. As it is he does have Dileo and probably has a first down; he throws it upfield, forcing a diving catch that takes Dileo off his feet a yard short. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|Straight up the middle with no lead blocker. Eh? Omameh(+1) latches onto the LB blitzing up the A gap and puts him on his ass. Molk(+1) gets under the NT and drives him back, and Huyge(+0.5) gets enough of the last LB. Toussaint slams it up.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Molk, Huyge(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||-1|
|Lewan loses his shoe. Huyge flips to LT and Mealer comes in at RT. Blitz/slant from WMU. Blitzer cuts off the frontside of the play; on the backside Schofield(-1) and Huyge(-1) let the DE slant between them into the backfield. Schofield ends up running into Huyge behind the LOS. Mealer(-1) ends up blocking no one. Toussaint slows up and is lost. Run-: Mealer, Huyge, Schofield|
|O17||2||11||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Dig||Grady||15|
|PA stretch into the passing play where the TE leaks into the flat. WMU's WLB makes a great play; he's blitzing into the backside. He whacks Koger, then grabs him a bit and starts riding him downfield. First read closed. Robinson comes off it and hits Grady in the numbers just as he clears one linebacker in zone. Catch, first and goal. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||1|
|Actually blocked pretty well but just too many guys in the area. The safety who would normally be way downfield is at the LOS. Toussaint isn't big enough to plow him into the end zone. This is such a wad of bodies I hesitate to give anything out. No one seems to do anything wrong or exceptional. I guess Lewan gets a point for being the main thing that created the room down to the one.|
|Same play as the 4th and 1 and they get it. Again it seems like Lewan is the main reason, as he is playside of a tackle slanting into the gap and gets enough of him. But he also kind of gets annihilated. I'll abstain here.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Out||Koger||5|
|Meh gain that looks like a bad read. Slot is running the same pattern farther outside except the corner over there is being run off by a fly route. He could turn it up; Koger just gets chopped down by a linebacker. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, though Schofield had a little trouble.)|
|M26||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|Gets past the first level snappily as Schofield(+1) kicks out the playside DT. Omameh does okay with his guy but can't prevent him from getting playside when he starts giving ground. Still, he's through the hole. Molk contacts the MLB near the LOS and this spooks Robinson(-1) into the backside of the play, where the blocking is thin on the ground. It doesn't help that Hemingway(-1) was torn between two different guys and ends up blocking no one. The corner comes up hard; Denard jumps over him and looks like he just... might... fall over for two yards.|
|RUN+: Schofield||RUN-: Robinson, Hemingway|
|M28||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||TE Fly||Koger||Inc|
|WMU rushes four and gets stoned; Molk is driven back by a blitzer and then starts blowing that LB downfield. Robinson has a ton of time. He sees Koger breaking open downfield and decides to take a shot; the pass is long. Koger had good position on a DB but was step-for-step with him. Also it's third and three and you're Denard Robinson: run. (IN, 0, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 11 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 2TE Twins||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||Pin and pull zone||Shaw||-1|
|This does not work at all. The idea is to pin a couple guys with down blocks and pull more and then have the RB work it out as he goes; nothing works here. Koger(-1), Omameh(-1), and Lewan(-1) get beaten on their down blocks. Huyge misses a hard-charging corner but that wouldn't be a problem if anyone else had made a block. Shaw(+1) manages to dodge that guy and a six-yard loss. Molk(-1) then runs by the guys flowing down the line before thinking better of it, giving him no cutback against the charging corner. This was a crapfest.|
|RUN+: Shaw||RUN-: Molk, Lewan, Koger(2), Omameh|
|This is a well-blocked play that gets held down because WMU is running cover zero and by the time Shaw crosses the LOS the FS is four yards away from him and charging. RPS -1. Molk and Omameh(+1 each) destroy a DT; Lewan and Schofield(+1 each) both kick out DL. McColgan kind of misses but not too badly; Shaw is one on one with a safety for a TD, but unfortunately this battle is going down three yards past the LOS.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Schofield, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M30||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Deep Hitch||Gallon||13|
|WMU sends five and gets picked up pretty well. WMU corner bails out early and Gallon cuts his route off; Denard zings it to him. Ball is a bit outside and upfield but nothing too bad; could argue he's keeping it away from defenders. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M43||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 4-4||Pass||PA TE Cross||Moore||Inc (8 Pen)|
|Play action with a pulling guard suckers Western. Denard pulls up and floats one to Moore at about the sticks; he's tripped just as the ball gets there. On replay this looks like a pretty tough catch. (MA, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|O49||1||10||I-Form Big Unbalanced||2||2||1||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||7|
|Moore at “RT”; Huyge on the left inside of Lewan. Huyge(+1)blocks the playside DE off the ball; Lewan(+1) gets a linebacker; McColgan(+2) blasts a linebacker back into a teammate, leaving no one for Omameh to block; Smith follows the blocks.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Huyge, McColgan(2)||RUN-:|
|Pitch and catch as a linebacker who might be able to cover this zooms into a flat with no one in it. Zone opens up. Denard zings it considerably behind Roundtree, who makes a tough spinning catch just as he's lit up. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||10|
|Molk(+1) clubs the NT out of the hole. Lewan(+1) gets his helmet across the backside DE and then blocks him with his back; there's the crease. Toussaint(+1) hits it, then gets into the chest of a guy Schofield was trying to block, running through him for six yards.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Molk(2), Toussaint||RUN-:|
|Schofield(-2) smoked in pass pro, but the guy misses Robinson, and then another guy sort of inexplicably hits the ground. Missing Robinson means you are in trouble and he takes off on a weaving, darting run. By my count he slips three tackles and turns a six yard loss into a first down. (SCR, N/A, protection -2, Schofield)|
|O10||1||G||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Quick pitch||Shaw||5 + 2 pen|
|I kind of hate this play since it depends on suckering an unblocked guy or having your RB make a great play. Here WMU blitzes off the edge, suckering by default, and the CB is still totally unblocked. Huyge(+1) does a great job of sealing the playside LB; Roundtree(-2) runs at the same guy, leaving the corner to charge up unmolested. Shaw(+2) jukes him , gets five yards, and then gets hit OOB.|
|RUN+: Shaw(2), Huyge||RUN-: Roundtree(2)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 4-4||Run||Iso||Toussaint||2|
|Nothing on the frontside; Toussaint sees this and cuts behind Koger(+1), who's driving down-the-line block opened up a cutback lane.|
|RUN+: Toussaint, Koger||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(blocked XP), 20-7, 1:50 2nd Q|
|Miss the play because of technical difficulties.|
|We come back just in time to see a scrambling Robinson nearly throw a pick in the direction of Moore. (BR, 0, protection ??)|
|M45||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||Inc|
|Well defended; pass thrown in front of Roundtree anyway. Mitigating factor: it is now raining like mad. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, special commendation to Smith for a blitz pickup)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-10, 14 min 3rd Q|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||43|
|For the first time all game that's not a passing down WMU removes a linebacker from the box and places him over the receivers. The WMU DE has to form up on the zone read; Huyge(+1) gets the MLB and Omameh(+1) shoves the NT well past the play; he slanted playside when Michigan stepped to a zone. Big cutback lane that Toussaint(+1) hits fast enough that he's by the last LB despite his angle not giving Molk an opportunity to block him. I guess that's RPS +2 if only because this was easy.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Omameh, Toussaint||RUN-:|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Pass||PA seam||Dileo||Inc|
|Zone read dive fake sucks up both linebackers and one safety, leaving Dileo open for six; Denard throws it well behind him. (IN, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +3|
|O44||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||44|
|This may be what was supposed to happen on the previous play, with both LBs hitting the backside hole after the line slants playside. Problem: two blockers there. Schofield(+2) and Lewan(+2) annihilate the linebackers; the DE is held outside by Robinson. Then the umpire(+2) picks off the safety. Good job ump. Shaw just has to run straight upfield. I guess that's +1? Also RPS+2? This is why the zone read is powerful. On both these plays it erased the DE, giving a numerical advantage.|
|RUN+: Schofield(2), Lewan(2), Shaw, Umpire(2)||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 34-10, 6 min 3rd Q|
|M25||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||PA post||Hemingway||37|
|Hemingway comes in motion inside and Michigan runs play action, pulling(!) the backside guard as if this is power. This sucks in both linebackers and one safety, who is five yards rom the LOS in a flash. Oops. Denard sets up and has Hemingway free on a post one on one with a corner. Denard puts it up. The ball is a bit short but I'd rather it's a little short and you give up five yards than missing long here; Hemingway posts up and brings it in. (CA, 2, protection 2/2, RPS+2)|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||3|
|WMU has flipped their formation and manages not to give up 40 yards on this. Michigan gets confused as to what they should do, as Omameh(-0.5) and Huyge(-0.5) end up doubling a DT without trying to scoop him and end up leaving the MLB unblocked. Toussaint(+1) swiftly cuts behind that block and gets out of that gap. WMU did run a scrape here; Huyge has pulled off to take on the crashing DE. The scraper read the handoff and is in position to tackle at the LOS. Here the ZR did not option off a defender. RPS -1|
|RUN+: Toussaint||RUN-: Omameh, Huyge|
|O35||2||7||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||11|
|WMU slants under the down-block from Schofield(-1) to get a DT into the backfield; he delays the pulling Omameh. Koger(+1) is a lead blocker and bangs a linebacker who's sucked too far inside. The slant plus that equals just a morass of bodies; Toussaint(+2) bounces out like whoah, breaking contain and dodging a safety for good yardage. Lewan(+1) clubbed a linebacker to the ground as well.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Koger, Lewan||RUN-: Schofield|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4-||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||2|
|Cover zero in a driving rain storm means this run is overwhelmed and it's tough to block everyone. Charting this is pointless.|
|Drive Notes: EOG, 34-10.|
Well, Mr. Fear of MANBALL, don't you feel silly?
Um, well… I'm not sure yet. We had five and a half drives against a MAC team, some of which were in a pouring storm. The jury is still out. As far as the blocking schemes go… I have to admit I'm a little worried. After years of noting that Molk can get his helmet across damn near anyone if tasked with a reach block, he wasn't asked to try it once against Western. The play at the beginning I thought was a stretch was actually a Down G, which they did run last year. All this interior blocking minimizes the advantage Molk possesses that seems likely to get a relative shrimp like Molk a job in the NFL.
For the record, Michigan's run breakdown:
- Down G (gap): one for 11 yards on the first snap.
- Power (gap): three RB carries for 7.3 YPC. Three QB carries for 5.3 YPC.
- Draw: two QB draws for three yards.
- Quick pitch: one for five.
- Inside zone: seven for 15.4 YPC. Woo small sample size!
There were also four short yardage plays. Two were dives from a two TE ace formation with Toussaint lined up three yards from the LOS, a third was an iso out of an I-Form Big, and the last was a power from the same formation. The dives/iso got first downs or TDs; the power got a yard on first and goal from the two. These aren't included in the YPC numbers I'll be tracking since they'll unfairly ding under center carries that are successful if they get a yard.
Shotgun carries averaged 10.6 YPC. From under center they averaged 6.8. Zone/gap was split about evenly but there was no outside zone. Obviously these are massive sample sizes that should be taken with deathly seriousness.
SAY IT YOU SILLY PERSON
Hoke uber alles?
Indeed. Tell us about our sumptuous quarterback who is the awesomest.
Uh… he kind of sucked.
LIES UNLESS THERE'S A CHART ALSO PROBABLY EVEN IF THERE IS ONE YOU LYING CHARTMONGER CHART
Chart. I'll throw in last year for comparison:
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
This is also a huge sample size not acquired in the process of herding animals into an ark and must be taken seriously.
But… yeah, when people were saying Robinson was a disappointment they were not wrong. That's his worst downfield day since he was a confused freshman and frankly some of those MAs could have been INs. I mean, Dileo touchdown easy biff sad. He didn't do much on the ground other than use his speed on the first play from scrimmage and dance around on that one scramble. In addition, two of those non-bad throws were bad reads where he had a better option. The weird nature of the game obviates a lot of that but if Denard does not go all Denard on Notre Dame there are going to be some nervous people around here.
I don't think much of it can be ascribed to operating from under center since he was missing plenty even when it was dry and he was operating from the shotgun. The throws he was asked to make didn't seem much different than what he was doing last year, but it's possible some of the inaccuracy was a timing issue. Saturday will be the first real test.
YOU SON OF A—
How about some more charts?
Receivers follow; I'll refrain from duplicating the first game totals. You can figure it out:
Very little to go on when there are 13 attempts but for what little action they got they did superbly, bailing out Robinson on two occasions and helping twice with no drops.
Finally, you can see the effect of the change in run offense on Molk's numbers:
|Omameh||4.5||2.5||2||Lot of pulling; bear with me as I adapt to the new style.|
|Huyge||4.5||2.5||2||All right, as per usual.|
|Schofield||8||2||6||Good debut; did get smoked on the Denard scramble.|
|Moore||-||-||-||Did some blocking but didn't register good or bad.|
|TOTAL||34.5||11||22.5||Solid; running does seem considerably left-handed.|
|Robinson||4||1||3||Most of this on the scramble.|
|Toussaint||8.5||0.5||8||I like him. May be a little exuberant though.|
|Shaw||4||-||4||Half of this on the quick pitch, another point for running fast on TD|
|Smith||-||-||-||Third down back my patootie.|
|McColgan||2||-||-||One slamming block.|
|TOTAL||18.5||1.5||17||We'll see if this holds up with more sample size.|
|TOTAL||0||4||-4||Not a good day on the outside. Held down a couple runs.|
That's a lot of plusses, but the numbers say they're warranted as Michigan ripped off 7.3 YPC and would have threatened 250 yards rushing if the game had been completed. Rushing is not a concern yet. Notre Dame looms.
Little enthusiastic about Toussaint there, aren't' you?
I admit that when the number came up I was like "oh, someone wants a good running back this year and has corrupted himself to get it." This was pretty sweet, though:
That bounce is super-quick and correct. Toussaint showed good vision all day and that is 11 yards from nothing.
Lewan was the best of the OL, Toussaint had a good debut, and the receivers as a unit were near flawless.
Er, Denard? Please don't pelt me with radioactive socks.
What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?
Man, I ain't extrapolating much from a few plays run in blistering heat or a driving rainstorm against a MAC opponent that got outscored by Michigan's defense. I think we'll see a multiple offense that leans on the shotgun in crunch time; I think Toussaint is for real and will be a B+ starter this year; I seriously hope they're not just going to shelve the stretch all year.
Against better teams I think the only way they get that safety in the box is by using Denard as that extra guy in the run game—the two long ones this week were zone reads where WMU did not scrape, providing Michigan a numerical advantage. Let's say it a third time: next week will be the test.
News bullets and other important items:
- Cam Gordon's status (back) is "up in the air," probably leaning towards sitting out for Notre Dame.
- Stonum and Jerald Robinson are stunt-doubling for Michael Floyd in practice.
- Woolfolk OK, will likely stay on special teams (confirmed from yesterday).
- Hopkins will contribute, could win starting job, or even play fullback.
- Hoke will continue to wear pants on the sideline, even though he prefers shorts.
From file (Yes, my file)
Opening remarks: “Ahem. Everybody ready?
“Thanks for coming out. We had a pretty good practice yesterday. We had the first day of school. You worry about how that affects guys, especially your freshmen -- getting them to class, making sure they know where they’re going -- but overall putting a plan in. Tuesdays are usually a day that there’s a lot of planning. There’s a lot of tweaks to the game plan, and sometimes they’re not as good as you’d like them to be, but I thought overall -- as a team and in the kicking game and the offense and defense side of it -- I think we had a pretty good day. We needed a better day today, obviously, because that improvement daily is very improtant to us.
“We run it pretty live. We get after it pretty well. I think our guys understand that. I think we looked at some personnel things that we’ll continue to look at throughout the rest of the week, building up to Saturday. We'll go pretty full-go.”
Will Woolfolk remain on special teams? “I would expect Troy will be healthy. He did more yesterday, really, than I thought he would. And the thing I liked about it was Troy wanted to do more, and there’s been situations we’ve all been in as coaches where some guys who’ve played football and are older, they may be a little delicate about when they get back in there, but he jumped right back in, and I was real pleased with the way he approached yesterday.”
So is he going to stay on special teams? “Oh, sure.”
Did you see improvements in kickoff coverage? “We work our coverage teams two days a week, and then our return teams two days a week. I think for the first day, it was good. I think the guys know that we didn’t perform like we should. We’ll look at some other guys in there a little bit, but I think it was pretty decent yesterday.
Did you see what the problem was on film? “We had one situation where two guys ran into each other. There’s a way you want to avoid blocks, and placement of the ball is important when you want to kick into the boundary a little bit more -- you need the ball a little more into the boundary. We were folding the guy early in the game, and we quit doing that because of where they wanted to take the football. So I was more pleased yesterday than I was on Saturday.”
What about Cam Gordon’s status? “He’s still up in the air. I don’t talk much about injuries, but he’s still up in the air. He did a couple things yesterday, but not near as much as we like.”
What do you need to see to feel good about him playing? “I need to see him go out there and run around and play football today. Because if not -- you pretty much have to do some things on Wednesday on a full tilt level, or Saturday you’re not going to be effective anyway.”
Borges always says make plays, not miracles when talking about Denard. What’s your take on that? “That’s always a good point. When you have a guy who has a skill set that’s pretty special, and Denard is, as he’s progressed in the offense and learning it, I think he sees that he doesn’t have to be everything. And that’s an important part. There’s a poise and composure that you want to play with, that you don’t want to force things whether from running or throwing it. I think just staying within the framework of what we need our quarterback to do, because I think he’ll make enough stuff happen during the course of the game that will just happen because of that skill set. But he just needs to play in the framework of what we’re doing offensively.”
With the way your running backs played last Saturday, was that reinforced for Denard? “If our offensive line -- and it starts there -- can get movement on the line of scrimmage, if our lead blockers, whether it be with an H-back or a U-back or a full back, can get on guys, and we do a great job down the field with the receivers, then good things will happen.”
Is Stonum giving you a good look in practice for Michael Floyd? “Well I don’t know. He’s pretty daggone good. I would say that the thing about Darryl is that he is a team guy. He has jumped in with both feet, and really done a great job the week before, and right now him and Jerald Robinson are both wearing number three out there, so it gives our guys a good look.”
What more do you want see from your linebackers? “The linebackers and the defensive front -- we need to see more disruption up there. I don’t think it’s been a secret that I wasn’t real happy with how we played there. There’s a higher expectation, and obviously your second level guys, the linebackers, they’ve got to do a great job with their run fits and the different defenses we have. Jordan does a nice job of deducing [plays]. He’s a smart football player. You gotta give him some credit for some of his reactions as a football player.”
What did you lose by not having a fourth quarter? “Well depending on how the game goes, there may be some guys you would have loved to get in the football game for experience. I know offensively, just talking to Al a little bit, there’s some things that he wanted to look at in a game environment that we didn’t get to.”
Would you have liked to try for a FG? “I like touchdowns. PATs are fine.”
How do you feel about Rees as Notre Dame’s QB? “You look at the last four games of last year and you look at what he did -- he played with a great deal of composure. He has a very good arm. I think his release is good. I think he understands conceptually Brian’s offense. Both of them I think are very talented guys. Obviously Brian’s going to make decisions that are best for his team, but we have to prepare the same way for both of them.”
Could Hopkins win starting job? “Oh he could. We’ll let the week play out. I think he’s done a nice job. He did a nice job in fall camp.” Could he play fullback? “He can play some fullback. Can … has.”
Did Toussaint solidify his spot at all with his performance Saturday? “No, well -- I think right now he’d be the guy to start the game.”
Did you run more single-back than you planned? “I think number one we’re trying to get Denard comfortable. I think that always is part of it. Your quarterback -- doesn’t matter if it’s Tom Brady or Denard Robinson -- you want guys to be comfortable because that position specifically is so important to your football team. We may have gotten a little more into the two-back stuff as the game progressed.”
You’re a shorts guy. How come you wore pants on Saturday? “I think I probably have to. Believe me, I’d wear shorts in a heartbeat.” Did Dave Brandon make you? “No, I think it probably just comes with the territory.”
How do you feel about Brian Kelly’s in-game meltdown? “I don’t know… you don’t think of that. Every guy’s different. That’s what makes -- you’re all different. You all have different questions, and you all have different slants in what you look at, and so I mean, everybody does some stuff differently. I know I look real big on HD. But my whole point is: you’re coaching kids. You’re trying to help them so that they’re going to make the improvements and fundamentals, techniques, recognition, sometimes it maybe a mentality you’re expecting them to play with.”
Have you interacted much with Brian Kelly? “He was in the MAC Central. He beat us three times.” You talk to him at all? “League meetings, those kind of things. I’ve got a lot of respect for Brian. He’s a good coach. He was at Grand Valley and did a great job there … [and then at] Cincinanti and Central [Michigan].”
Last time on Picture Pages we saw how hopeless n00b Brennen Beyer made life very difficult for Michigan on a 25-yard counter play Western ran in the second quarter. Poor linebacker play from Kenny Demens and Carvin Johnson contributed.
A bit later in the half, Western would go back to the well. How would Beyer react?
It's first and ten at the Michigan 17 on Western's third drive. They've taken the ball from the Michigan 47 to get here. Western comes out in the same look-ma-spread-in-shred formation and will run the same counter play they ran before. Michigan is again in an aggressive one-high press look:
A lot of backups are in. The DL is Beyer/Heininger/Brink/Black. LBs are Herron, Fitzgerald, and Johnson walking down into the box.
On the snap it's the same business, with the backside G and H-back pulling around. This time Beyer's got it figure out, though. You can just see his head popping out from behind the tackle who is releasing downfield:
All right, now we are in the business. Or not. You can read the title.
Beyer disappears in the above frame because he is making contact with the G at about the LOS. Also look at the linebackers. Fitzgerald has not moved; Herron is starting to run at the play.
Beyer has run inside and gotten sealed at the LOS approximately where the center started the play. The fullback sails outside no problem. Instead of making a pile he's just created a huge hole by removing any leverage available.
Meanwhile Fitzgerald is getting cut to the ground. He's hardly moved despite a guard pulling in front of his face, and thanks to that Johnson can't flow. Neither can Brink, who is giving ground to pursue but just gets cut.
Herron, for his part, is going to blow the leverage again…
…but it wouldn't have mattered much because there's hardly anyone behind him.
Kovacs cleans up again.
Video with dramatic pause:
Someone took Beyer aside and told him how he'd screwed up on the first power and what to do. If you look at the comments on the last one there is some debate about whether or not Beyer was absolved because of a blitz. I don't think that's entirely possible; if you're blitzing and no one's blocking you off the edge while the QB executes a mesh point you need to slow your roll and adjust. Beyer didn't; someone told him he should do that.
Beyer took that advice and overcompensated a la Cam Gordon playing safety last year. I'm still not sure if they were playing to squeeze or spill. I'm guessing squeeze. This is the cost of playing freshmen. This kind of thing will get better.
I do wonder why he's even on the field. If they're going to run a four-man line I'd rather have Brink and Heininger out there than Beyer, since at least they've played football in college before. I guess you have to chalk that up to the heat and the necessity to play the walk-ons on the interior, which means just terrible things about Ash/Campbell/Washington. If Cam Gordon returns next week it wouldn't surprise me to see Ryan in Beyer's role.
Yet more indecisive linebackers. A guard pulling is a dead giveaway as to the direction of the play and twice we see Michigan players not reacting to it at all. If they're not reading the G whatever they are reading is not giving them a heads-up quickly enough.
This may be four defensive systems in four years with three coordinators; it may be a talent issue. Demens suggests it's at least some of the latter. Either way, Fitzgerald sits entirely still until he's chopped to the ground by a Western OL, which eliminates not only him but Johnson and Brink thanks to the location of the block. Meanwhile, Herron has a tough job that he does poorly with, losing leverage on the play.
I assume days that aren't blistering hot will see Demens on the field for every snap, but if he's hurt we're screwed and WLB is a real problem. Herron had two touchdowns and is going to end up significantly negative on the day.
Heininger does not accomplish what RVB does. He gets sealed away and is trying to spin free when the LB-FB contact occurs; he's in no position to help if Herron turns it inside, which he doesn't because no one turns it inside ever. This may be a slight exaggeration born of frustration.
People are worried about the defense, and with good reason. The worrying bit isn't so much the best quarterback in the state averaging 5.9 YPA and being forced into two turnovers by getting clobbered, but rather Western Michigan running for almost 5 YPC with guards they picked up at a yard sale in Jackson.
I have good news and bad news about this. The good news: a major reason for these issues was a true freshman in his first game who made obvious errors. He fixed some of those errors. The bad news: he fixed those errors so hard he made the opposite error. More bad news: he wasn't the only culprit.
We're looking at two successful first-half counters run by the Broncos. Here's the first. It's second and two on the Michigan 47 on Western's second drive of the day. Western's all like "look, ma, I'm the 2010 Michigan offense" and Michigan brings out its aggressive one-high press man for the first time:
You see the 3-4 front with three tight corners. Kovacs is out of the picture deep. The slot "corner" is Thomas Gordon. The LBs from top to bottom are
Herron Jones, Johnson, Demens, and Beyer, with Roh/Martin/Van Bergen the DL. Your key players are the bottom three guys in the front seven: Beyer, RVB, and Demens.
A moment after the snap:
The tackle blocks down on RVB, leaving Beyer free to fly into the backfield. This is an Admiral Ackbar situation that Beyer is too pumped up on adrenaline and youthful stupidity to recognize. He's all like "gonna get me some QB."
Meanwhile, the RB is moving right, but check out that OL directly in front of the QB: he's pulling left. This is a counter.
A moment later Beyer is recognizing his DERP far too late. He's already three yards into the backfield and his momentum is stopped as he tries to change direction now that the QB doesn't have the ball. the pulling G is going to hammer him.
Not all is lost, though: Demens has read it and is moving into the hole. And you see a lot more of Van Bergen's jersey, don't you?
RVB has given about a yard but now has his helmet across his blocker. Beyer defeats the OG's block and would have a shot at a tackle if he hadn't flown upfield so fast. There's that lead blocker and a lot of room for Demens to close down but he could…
…just about turn it back inside to RVB, who has now totally defeated his block, or he could…
…turn into Jonas Mouton and lose leverage.
That's 25 yards before Kovacs can come up and save the bacon.
Video, with annotation!
I learned this from Spielman. There are two main ways to defend the power play: "squeeze" and "spill." Squeezing is getting into the guard upfield a bit so that the RB has to take it inside into a more restricted hole. Beyer would have to be a yard or two closer to the LOS and to the inside to be squeezing. From that spot he can make a play, or at least make it harder to burst outside that LB.
Spilling is kind of a scrape exchange type deal where the playside DE roars down the line at the pulling G and cuts his ass to the ground. This is intended to create a pile that takes out the other lead blocker and forces the running back to bounce outside, where a linebacker scraping over the top should clean stuff up. Beyer would have had to shoot directly at the G as soon as he reads the pull.
Obviously, he does neither and gets kicked out of a very large hole. If he's in the right position he's dealt with the block well enough to make a tackle. He's not.
Demens did Mouton it. He's got a tough job here with the fullback and a big hole, but letting the guy outside of you is a cardinal sin—unfortunately, one we're all too familiar with. If Demens gets outside that fullback WMU might get a big run anyway but "losing leverage" (the jargon) guarantees it.
Another quiet Van Bergen plus. This is the kind of thing I am talking about when I say RVB is good but the things he does often go for naught. Here he beats a downblock, which is tough, to show up in the hole and potentially rescue Johnson, who you may note ran ridiculously playside and ends up farther away from the play than double-teamed NT Martin. Demens loses the plot and Van Bergen's reward is just a UFR plus and a chase downfield.
Ugh Johnson. To reiterate: the guard directly in front of Johnson's face pulls and he ends up yards away from relevance.
Kovacs. He tackles. He does not not tackle. Here he sort of misses, but this was very rare. This may not hold up against Big Ten teams but there were plenty of opportunities for the Broncos to pick up a touchdown that they could not because Kovacs tackled them.