to play football, not to play trumpet
HAPPY THANKSGIVING. This will be the only post today, probably.
Formation notes: You make one offhand comment about how this notes section gets boring late in the year and Al Borges goes and does that. Okay, so. For the TE/WR/RB section I am classifying Gardner as a WR and Denard as a RB when they are not at QB.
Michigan had two different backfields featuring Denard behind Gardner with one or two lead blockers flanking him. I could have called this one "offset I three-wide" but it felt more correct to note it as a Fritz variant:
Since Michigan does have a declared strength here I tabbed the Iowa defense here an under. They also ran the two-FB version, which is just plain old Fritz.
The thing I used to call Denard Jet also re-emerged:
And then there was… this.
In keeping with this blog's tradition of naming weird things he hasn't seen after the nearest equivalent in NCAA Football X, this was dubbed "far twin TE."
Formation lingo may not match your local football talking guy and is merely present to help facilitate communicative acts.
Substitution notes: Line as per usual. Tight ends as per usual. Joe Reynolds got some burn at wide receiver on actual passing plays, catching a long handoff type thing that Gardner clearly aborted to—about which more later—and a hitch on which it looked like he ran a nice route, for all I know about route running. Other than that, WRs were as per usual including usual lack of focus on throwing to Dileo when not throwing to Gallon or Roundtree.
Toussaint went out early with his injury; after that it was all Rawls and Smith until very late; Justice Hayes did get in at fullback(!) on a play where Michigan ran an iso. Oh and that Denard guy played some.
[AFTER THE JUMP: TURKEY no just UFR]
About Last Saturday:
That is all.
Blogs of record from each Big Ten team and a bonus.
Crimson Quarry (Indiana):
For all the talk about footprint and media markets and academic standing, the Big Ten is an athletic conference. The Penn State and Nebraska additions made sense for athletics. These moves, if they happen, will best be understood as a cash grab. I'll certainly welcome these schools if it happens, but at first blush I'm not thrilled.
Bucky's Fifth Quarter (Wisconsin):
I've heard plenty of people say, "Get over it! This is the new age of college athletics." And yes, for better or worse we're moving into a new era.
With that being said, I'll firmly stand on the side saying that, yet again, money and greed are the evils that us into this "new era" of college athletics.
Hammer and Rails (Purdue):
I only see this as an absolutely shameless cash grab for the conference that is already printing money with its own TV network. At least the addition of Nebraska made sense. This really doesn't. We're shaking everything up to add a horrible basketball program and decent football program plus one with an awful football program and a basketball program that had a good run 10 years ago.
Land Grant Holy Land (OSU):
The Big Ten isn't quitting on their arbitrary, silly, and frankly pretentious divisional realignment and divisional names…. but instead we get more constant reminders about what Jim Delany thinks about basically all Big Ten sports fans, writers, and alums.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Penn State is okay with it. Everyone else?]
- Desmond Morgan should be back.
“Happy Thanksgiving, number one. I know some of you have turkeys in your ovens so I’ll be brief today. I thought we had a good practice yesterday. I thought our intensity was what it should be when you play Ohio. The way our guys went to work was very industrious. It was a physical day like Tuesdays and Wednesdays are, and I thought our guys did a nice job.”
Will Desmond Morgan play Saturday?
Is there a different buzz about this week as you’d expect?
“Yeah. Always is. I think is the 109th time we’ve faced each other. I think that rivalry and just the excitement that follows with it and the passion that people have, I think it spills over.”
The players have talked about driving into the stadium and seeing the fans make … gestures. What’s that like?
“I think when you go to any of those great institutions that have great passion and passionate fans -- I can remember being at Oregon State and going into the Civil War and going down to Eugene. That rivalry, obviously when we go to East Lansing, I think you get the same thing. When you go to Notre Dame. But I think they’re just passionate about their team. They don’t like you, and that’s okay. They’re not supposed to.”
Will you do a walk-through on the field?
“Yeah, we’re going to Friday. We go back and forth a little bit. Most of the time we practice here and go late, but we’re going to do some things in the stadium.”
Do you talk about Nebraska-Iowa on Friday?
“No, not really. I think I mentioned it once. We can control only one thing. That’s the important thing, and that’s going to play our hearts out for our seniors and our hearts out for Michigan on Saturday afternoon at 12:01.”
MGoQuestion: What do you make of Ohio State’s success on special teams this season?
“I think they’ve got good athletes, and that’s where it starts. It always starts there, and I think they’ve done a nice job putting them in the right places to execute and to be successful.”
MGoMootFollowup: Are there ways to counteract their effectiveness?
“Play harder. Play better. Play with better technique.”
How has Denard’s week of practice been?
“Good. It’s been great.”
Who are you starting at quarterback?
“It’s day to day.”
“He’s doing great.”
Is he available to play?
Is Jack still the backup?
“Jack’s on the travel team with us, yeah.”
Does it change your preparation having a holiday?
“Not really, you know. We’ll change because we’ll practice tomorrow morning, and then at one we’ll have over 500 family members and team having Thanksgiving together. It’s pretty neat.”
What was that like last year?
“Awesome. It’s neat. It’s neat to see all the families.”
How’s Thomas Rawls?
“Great. He’s done a nice job.”
Does he seem ready to shoulder this responsibility? Would Vincent Smith also be in the mix to get some more carries?
“Yeah. Those two. And I don’t know if Thomas has a choice.”
How has he handled that pressure?
“Seems fine. Pretty confident. Most guys who have ability at this level, they’re pretty confident in their abilities.”
Anything you can take from Ohio State’s film from last year?
“Not really. Not from a defensive standpoint besides from the elusiveness that their quarterback has. I think Carlos Hyde, and I don’t even know if he -- played a couple plays, maybe. I don’t think he played much. I know the other guy who’s a back, can’t remember his name right now --”
“Boom. Herron was back. But you try and look at the guys that are all a year older, the ones who have played. The offense is obviously a different scheme, but last year’s film really is irrelevant.”
MGoQuestion: James Ross had a good game last Saturday, but a couple times when he tried tackling a bigger back like Mark Weisman he got carried downfield. Is that a concern against someone like Carlos Hyde?
“No. You always tackle really well when you have more than one guy tackling.”
Will Desmond start at that spot?
“We’ll see. Right now they’re competing.”
How many friends and families will you have Saturday?
“I don’t know. Over 500.”
How often do you get to spend with players’ families?
“Not often during the season. Once in a while on a Sunday, once in a while early Friday morning, but not very often.”
Are you going to have over 500 family and friends at the game?
“Who me? Personally? Oh.”
Yeah. I was going to say. You’re more popular than I thought.
“No. No idea. I’m not in the ticket business. Mrs. Hoke handles all those things. She’ll tell me sometime Thursday night over pizza who’s coming.”
You expect to have some people?
“Yeah. We’ll be represented.”
Keep better contain than this, plz
In Columbus, Michigan faces their toughest test since the season opener against Alabama. An undefeated Ohio State squad awaits—can Michigan spoil their hopes for the
Big Ten title BCS championship AP national title? After watching the Buckeyes struggle to put up points on Wisconsin, ultimately winning 21-14 in overtime, I think they've got a good shot. Let's go to the breakdown:
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread, of course. Urban Meyer's run-heavy offense operates pretty much exclusively from the shotgun.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? OSU's rush offense is mostly zone-predicated though they'll throw in some gap blocking wrinkles, including one I'll cover in the play breakdown.
Hurry it up or grind it out? The Buckeyes rarely huddle, though they don't quite run Oregon pace either; you'll see the offense get to the line and then look over to the sideline for a playcall, much like Michigan did under Rich Rodriguez.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): I probably don't need to tell you about Braxton Miller, who leads the Buckeyes with 1214 rushing yards on 207 carries and is second to Carlos Hyde (15) with 13 rushing TDs. While he doesn't have the straight-ahead speed of Denard or Taylor Martinez, he's got more power than either of those two and shows impressive vision. He gets a 9, with a bullet.
Dangerman: Yeah, it's Miller. The offense is based around the threat of his legs, especially on the edge, which opens up room both for the running backs on the interior and the downfield passing game.
Zook Factor: Urban Meyer didn't make any egregiously bad decisions in this game, so I'll note that Bret Bielema punted from the Ohio State 30-yard line(!!!) in the first half instead of kicking a 47-yard field goal or throwing on 4th-and-12. The punt, of course, went for a touchback, netting a whopping ten yards.
HenneChart: I'm making the tweak that Brian is strongly considering for next season and counting scrambles as a positive when calculating Downfield Success Rate; with Braxton Miller, it's certainly appropriate. Even with that adjustment, Miller did not have a great performance against Wisconsin:
A quick sanity check against Miller's final numbers: 10/18, 97 yards. With a couple throws by Miller that easily could've been intercepted, that sounds about right. Most of his throws came either off play-action or on designed rollouts, and most of the routes were of the short or intermediate variety. There were a couple attempted deep shots—again, off play-action—but nothing that connected.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Formation notes: There are a lot of subtleties to alignment that I'm glossing over for reasons of time and simplicity. For instance, both of these are 4-3 over—line shifted to the strength of the formation—in my book despite looking significantly different on the field:
check the DTs and ILBs
Those are likely different defenses but we're trying to keep things simple enough to categorize in bins large enough to draw conclusions from and get this done before next week.
These DL splits were big enough for me to denote this as "nickel spread" FWIW:
I think this occurred to me this week because though every Iowa run play (every one!) is classified inside zone the subtleties in both offense and defense were apparent. There's a chess game so far beyond what I can access and it was on full display in this one.
This is 5-1 nickel again; Michigan tightened its DL when Vandenberg checked:
Substitution notes: Ross obviously drew in for Morgan. Bolden got a few drives, one at WLB in place of Ross, further suggesting that those positions are close to interchangeable. The back seven was otherwise as you would expect. Furman came in for Kovacs on the last charted drive.
The line was also the usual at this point: an eight-man rotation with the starters getting a majority but not a huge majority of the snaps.
[AFTER THE JUMP: a relatively brief UFR.]