At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
San Diego State
Ann Arbor, MI
September 24th 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan –9|
|WEATHER||low 60s, cloudy, 40% chance of rain|
Run Offense vs. San Diego State
We don't know how good the San Diego State run defense is yet but the early returns are not good for Rocky Long. The Aztecs got ground down by Army in their first game against I-A competition, yielding 403(!) yards on 77(!) carries. That's 5.2 per against a team that threw less than 10% of the time. It's also a game against a triple option opponent. See Georgia Tech games for evidence option foes can screw with your brain without affecting how well you play against more conventional competition.
A first glance at the stats suggests Washington State played as if trying to illustrate this principle, racking up 51 yards on 28 carries. HOWEVA, a zillion sacks distort those numbers greatly. When you excise those, WSU managed 95 yards on 22 carries. That's not great, but it is 4.3 YPC from last year's #117 rushing offense. Washington State might seem much better but that doesn't mean they can run any: against obviously horrible UNLV they managed just 3.8 YPC on 39 carries. Wisconsin did 6.3, so… like… yeah. Are we ready to give up the dream of having Wisconsin-like numbers on the ground yet? I'm not. Are we ready to project 6.8 YPC based on an inane chain of comparisons? Sure!
It's a guess this early, but the guess here is SDSU does not have a good run defense, and may be downright awful. Ace's SDSU Fee Fi Foe Film* featured a couple of runs where 240-pound SDSU defensive ends get latched on to and turned into donkeys by WSU offensive tackles who are most certainly not Taylor Lewan. Watch the right tackle:
That's an inside zone! You know what never happens on inside zones? The defensive end never gets crushed to the point where the play bounces outside.
If the Aztecs try to play this straight up they will die, so they won't. That's the whole deal with the 3-3-5. If you're smart and disciplined and attack the right way even a size-deficient team like TCU can slash their way into the Wisconsin backfield and live. It seems obvious SDSU does not have this down yet, but neither does Michigan have their stuff down. They spent large chunks of the EMU game looking comically bad on power running schemes, especially that pin and pull zone play that is not the stretch and never gets any yards.
The prescription here is for more donkey: QB iso/offtackle stuff behind Lewan and a surprisingly feisty Mark Huyge, mixed in with some zone read just to see if the world really has forgotten how to defend it. (Frequent emailer and smart football guy (not that smart football guy) Tyler Sellhorn emailed me about my Q about the power-zone read combo and did confirm that it really puts the WLB in a bind and makes the scrape exchange games tougher to play, but that's another post.) Runs that hit laterally are asking the quick little buggers on the SDSU defense to slant into your face and should be infrequent constraints.
Key Matchup: Borges versus Long mindgames. I don't think SDSU can win straight up here and don't think Michigan knows what they're doing well enough to figure out all the blitzes Long will chuck at them. So the Q: who is going to catch the other guy out more often?
*[MEMO TO PAID MGOCONTRIBUTORS: Good God we need to work on segment names. Between "Michigan Muesday" that runs on Wednesday and the above… let's just say it's a work in progress. The redeeming thing about the above is potentially referring to it by its abbreviation: FFFF.]
Pass Offense vs. San Diego State
Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael had a very Denard 2011 sort of day against the Aztecs, except with more volume: 368 yards and three touchdowns are explosive but two interceptions and completing just 20 of 42 attempts are not so much. And that's all we have to go on. SDSU's other opponents were a I-AA team I considered applying to out of high school and option-mad Army.
Last year the Aztecs were good, finishing 20th in pass efficiency D and a bit above average in sacks. They did a creditable job against Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, who needed 51 attempts to rack up 351 yards, 88 of those on a two-play WTF drive with just over a minute left. When not desperate, Gabbert was pwned, but at least Michigan's "fall behind and chuck it deep" strategy looks like it will work.
The Aztecs return three fifths of their starting secondary, losing leading tackler and bandit-type safety Andrew Preston and cover corner Darryn Lewis; the other corner, deep safety, and spur-type safety return. SDSU's pass rush comes from all over—I count 16 different Aztecs picking up sacks last year in Tim's preview—but the main threat is fifth-year SLB Mile Burris, the only guy on the team to get more than two. His 9.5 sacks should make him a marked man. Senior DE Jerome Long has three this year against questionable competition.
Michigan, meanwhile, has had a very Marshall Lobbestael 2011. That's not good. They don't throw much, throw accurately even less, and throw short very, very rarely. Against a shifting, zone-blitz-in-a-bag 3-3-5 that actually works Denard might have struggles identifying who the open guys are going to be on straight dropbacks. Or he might not. I have no idea what a 3-3-5 is supposed to look like. Given my experience with the defense, everyone will be open by at least ten yards.
If that's not the case I'd like to see Michigan work the less-dangerous edges with the curl/flat and snag stuff Denard did last year, saving the over the middle passing for deadly play action. I'm not sure we'll actually get to see this. It's time to go back to Denard's well. Will Borges see it the same way?
Key Matchup: Denard versus The Return of Tacopants. Gotta throw it on target before we can talk about anything else.
Run Defense vs. San Diego State
This is going to be a problem. Eastern Michigan averaged 4.5 YPC without any semblance of a passing game, and while the run offense is the one part of EMU's team that isn't completely horrible we're talking about a bad MAC team running better than any Carr team ever did. Yerk.
With Cam Gordon "available" but not starting the personnel won't be much better. It may be worse. I have a credible report that Craig Roh suffered an upper body injury in the EMU game that won't necessarily keep him out but may limit his playing time and effectiveness. With Jibreel Black playing well that won't cause a huge dropoff, but it does kill off any hopes Black and Roh might see the field together.
Michigan's getting decent to good play from three of the four defensive linemen and problems from whoever isn't Martin, RVB, or Roh/Black. Will Campbell's playing time has gradually increased as it becomes clear the walk-ons are pretty much just walk-ons and not magical Kovacs walk-ons.
ATTENTION WALK-ON FAIRY: YOU ARE NEEDED ON THE DEFENSIVE LINE
The linebackers have been erratic. While they're not helped out by plays like the above or the all-too-frequent edge busts from whoever the SLB has been, Kenny Demens and Brandin Hawthorne had rough games against Eastern. Demens did play well against Notre Dame, for what it's worth, and his track record suggests he's pretty good. The bigger worries are at the other two spots, where Jake Ryan is learning but still gives up the edge way too often and Hawthorne shows potential… when he's not wondering WTF is going on.
Opposite this uneven bunch of good players, walk-ons, tiny guys, larger guys, and a smattering of freshmen is Ronnie Hillman, the nation's second leading rusher. If that doesn't mean much three weeks into the season, he was tenth a year ago as a freshman. He was sort of held in check against the better MWC teams, with 62 yards against BYU, and 54 against both Utah and TCU. I say "sort of" because the main problem for Hillman in those games was usage, not efficiency: he had only 38 carries. If you're scoring at home that's still 4.5 YPC—hardly a reason to starve the beast. Here is where I will abruptly gloss over the 228 yards against Missouri so no one gets too frightened.
Did that work?
No. All right, it shouldn't. SDSU returns four of five linemen and is running basically the same offense they did last year—a lot of variety, but a variety these guys are used to. Hillman can play, and Michigan's defense to date has been frighteningly erratic. SDSU just annihilated WSU on the ground. This is going to be a problem.
Key Matchup: Hawthorne and Demens vs counter steps and other misdirection. They've been late reading plays all year and late to the hole. Do that against Hillman and he's severely testing Jordan Kovacs's to-date pristine record of not giving up long touchdowns when they bust into your secondary.
Pass Defense vs. San Diego State
Ryan Lindley and his favorite target Colin Lockett
You are probably aware of Aztec senior QB Ryan Lindley, he of the massive passing yardage and low-level NFL buzz. Lindley has not quite picked up where he left off last year. His day against Army was Denard-2011-like: 8 of 18, 146 yards, 1 TD and no INTs. 8 YPC, sure, but alarming completion percentage and what's with the number of attempts?*
Last week Lindley got the attempts in buckets (37) and managed 273 yards with two TDs and an INT. Washington State is clearly not as awful as they've been—hammering a I-A opponent, any I-A opponent, proves that—but that was last year's #110 passing efficiency defense.
The jury's still out as SDSU hovers around 50th in passer efficiency early in the season. This is largely because of SDSU's receiver situation. The Aztecs lost NFL third-rounder Vincent Brown and running mate DeMarco Sampson, then lost their replacements to season-ending injuries. The leading returner at WR is Dylan Denso and his four catches; he's got nine already this year. Sophomore Colin Lockett is the current go-to guy with 254 yards in three games. He's a big play threat: along with his 21.6 yards per catch he has a kick return touchdown against Cal Poly. However, he's also a position-switch starter, going from the two-deep at corner to a starter at WR once the injuries hit.
Michigan's pass defense has either not had to exist or had to cover Michael Floyd with only the bruised ribs of Alex Carder in-between. They are clearly better than they were a year ago simply by virtue of defending some passes some of the time. Woolfolk's return and extra experience for Avery and Floyd gives the secondary some of that rumored depth stuff; the main problem has been in the nickel when Michigan brings in either a deeply unreliable safety or a freshman. Last week it was the freshman and given Thomas Gordon's strong play opposite Kovacs it will probably be the freshman again unless Michigan gets comfortable with flipping one of the veteran corners inside. Since the position requires more tackling, that would presumably be Floyd. The other options are tiny or wearing a big ol' cast.
Meanwhile, a series of zone blitzes nearly decapitated the aforementioned Carder and got nowhere against the veteran Notre Dame line. San Diego State's line is similarly veteran but presumably not as good. Can Michigan generate pressure from the front four? Can they get guys into the backfield on the zone blitzes? Ask again later.
Key Matchup: Cornerback du jour (Floyd?) over the top on Lockett. Given Michigan's success to date with press coverage on deep throws and their weakness against the running game, they will go to their heavy blitz press package and dare Lindley to beat them over the top with receivers who should be who-dats. Winning the battle with Lockett one-on-one allows Michigan to focus on the short stuff and Hillman and maybe slow this offense down enough to where it sputters.
*[The SDSU-Army game was a Life On The Margins hall of famer. SDSU ran just 43 plays and picked up under 300 yards; Army had 84 plays and 446 yards. So of course SDSU wins.]
Michigan still has no field goal attempts unless you count a glorified extra point at the end of the EMU game, which is fantastic. They've found a punt returner in the suddenly-better-than-competent Jeremy Gallon, and that's where the good news ends. Kickoff returns and coverage have been dismal. The punting has been mediocre, though I'm of the opinion the return to the dino-punt is allowing opponents return yardage they wouldn't otherwise get. Hagerup returns, but he returns next week.
The opponent is middling in most categories. They do have a kick return touchdown, but it was against Cal Poly and is of debatable meaning. Their main advantage is (as always) at kicker, where they have a guy who puts it through the uprights. Abelardo Perez was 17 of 22 last year, though he's missed two of his three attempts in 2011.
Key Matchup: GIBBONS YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS AAAAAA
what I see when I look in the mirror
- Lockett is legit and too fast to stop over the top without help.
- Michigan isn't refining the stuff that doesn't work out of the playbook.
- Denard's still flinging it everywhere but the girl.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- SDSU's teeny DEs can't hold up over the tackles.
- The zone read continues to amaze and mystify.
- Michigan's zone blitzes return to effectiveness.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 4 (Baseline 5; +1 for Hillman Is Better Than Eastern Running Backs, +1 for Lindley Can Throw And Probably Won't Try To Throw To Michael Floyd, –1 for Actually Even Though Michael Floyd Isn't In The State That Might Not Be A Bad Idea Given The State Of SDSU's Receiving Corps, +1 for Irrational Flashback To Previous Close SDSU Game Against Much Better Michigan Team, –1 for Vegas Has Our Back By Two Scores, –1 for Denard How Does SDSU Defend It Not Well, –1 for Seriously Look At That Army Game.)
Desperate need to win level: 8 (Baseline 5; +1 for Insane Person Kyle Turley's Revenge Would Be Annoying, +1 for But I Like Thinking Nice Things About Michigan Football, +1 [UPDATE: I meant to finish this five hours late] for Being Ranked Is Nice, +1 for Niceness Is Nice And Nice, -1 for Reduced Risk of Kyle Turley Murdering Entire State.)
Loss will cause me to... show up at the postgame press conference with a fistful of postage screaming "RETURN TO SENDER."
Win will cause me to... be mildly encouraged about something but still deeply suspicious that 2011 is just 2010 and 2009 with a less annoying media environment.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Will Michigan be able to run, run, run, run until SDSU has to freak out about it? I kind of think so but I'm wary given the Gator Bowl, when an attacking, gap-sound defense crushed the Michigan ground game. But then I'm all like Army 400 yards, and Washington State being competitive on the ground. This should be an old-school bludgeoning as long as Borges keeps it restricted to the stuff he knows they can execute.
If that happens and Michigan can hit some RPS+3 plays as a result they can keep ahead in this game. If they can't, they're in trouble. Hillman is going to rip off big runs on M. Resign yourself to this. They're going to spread the D out and hit those misdirection plays the linebackers have been vulnerable on all year and test out that freshman nickelback. And Lindley will hit the open guys who will be open.
Michigan will do well to bend but not break here, getting good safety play from Kovacs and Gordon and picking the right spots to get SDSU behind the chains with press man and the right blitzes. Keep the big plays to a minimum and make them bleed out field goals on you.
Survey says… possible. I've got less faith in this ground game than people only attending to last year might since it seems committed to chucking away a half-dozen downs per game on something or another that this line isn't very good at and therefore think Vegas is optimistic. In keeping with the 2010 and 2009 theme, this is the stomach-churner in the fourth quarter that keeps you undefeated but makes everyone very nervous.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- There is no screwing around with the idea that Denard is not the offense against an opponent the coaching staff respects. He has another 20 carries and 150 yards.
- Kovacs cracks double digits in tackles, most acquired as he slices Hillman down after a ten yard gain.
- Zone blitzing does not phase SDSU's OL—they're used to it—and Lindley has a high completion percentage.
- Michigan, 27-24.
Remember the South Park episode after 9/11 where Sharon Marsh is left drooling on the couch watching CNN? That aired almost exactly 10 years ago. That's also pretty much how the MGoDenizens felt all week through another round of conference realignment that didn't quite match galactic expectations. Raise your hand if you could identify every player on the above telly prior to this week.
Those pics (all the little icon in the middle) are the cast of Hardware Sushi's Diary of the Week-winning report on EXPANSIONPALOOZZIZZA 2011. A taste:
Texas: Anyone interested - $10 for an HJ, $20 for a BJ, $40 for a ZJ, $300mil for an LHN. If you have to ask about the ZJ, you don't want it. Anyone?
Mizzou: We so want the B12 to survive COUGH ess eee see COUGH big ten COUGH COUGH
Jim Delany: Harumph and so forth. Big Ten likes twelve members. You will receive my condescension and be grateful, peasants.
The boards had a good expansion thread a day (best one linked) until the Pac12's sudden aneurism of sense.
For those of you who chose the Renaissance Festival over football last Saturday (what's the point of having a blog if you can't troll your friends), our resident Gonzo jhackney provides assurance that Ann Arbor was hardly different, except at ours they let Sir Lewan out of the jousting ring after half-time, and several burros died:
After halftime, Michigan had a fire lit under their ass and the lighter fluid to ignite it was the usual brand, Denard Robinson. The defense also stepped up their game to begin to look respectable, but the rushing attack by the fighting EMU’s still plagued them. Denard galloped his way on his feet, which I am convinced are small unicorns blessed by the Pope.
The second half renaissance was good enough to earn some high first quarter (of the season) marks from Maize_in_spartyland, and get StephenRKass to wonder aloud if defense and special teams are maybe making their way to the positives column.
Other stuff too good to put in an etc. section: wlubd put together the 2013 offer list. Right now it's 22 guys but that will get to over 100 by March. This will be in the Usual Stuff tab and updated.
Lanyard Program is creating a Mini Program you can print on Game Days. Sample page:
Chris of Danger… Danger of Logic made picture pages move:
And cjm made a wallpaper for SDSU week.
Don't change the channel! Coming up after the break it's the weeklies and best of the board.
Even though the first quarter was pretty ugly, the defense’s ability to keep EMU out of the end zone kept the game from ever getting below 30%. Once the offense found its groove in the second quarter, the odds turned around quickly. By the middle of the third quarter, the game was officially out of reach.
One of the requests from last week was to see what the chart would look like based on the relative strengths of the teams. Since the Notre Dame game had a pretty tight spread the chart would be essentially the same as the one you saw, especially in the wild fourth quarter. For last week against EMU, that was a very different story.
The first chart showed EMU’s odds nearing 70% at one point, but that was assuming the teams were of similar skill. That is obviously not the case. To adapt, I have added a second chart that takes the 30.5 point spread and brings that into the game.
For the graph to work, Michigan is spotted the points at the beginning of the game and the value is gradually reduced over the course of the game. At halftime, the 30.5 point spread is calculated at 50% or 15.25 points. The result is a dramatically different and much more realistic chart. When assuming the teams were equal, EMU exceeded a 2/1 advantage at one point. When factoring team strengths in, they didn’t even crack 10%.
Michigan’s rank in opponent adjusted PAN. At this point the opponent adjusted is still fairly weak but it does have some value. Because Michigan is EMU’s first FBS opponent, there is no opponent adjustment and EMU is assumed to be an average-caliber team, which is surely not the case. There will be discrepancies like this for most teams.
Rush Offense: +5, 8th in the nation (Georgia Tech), 1st in Big Ten
Pass Offense: +2, 48th (Baylor), 6th (Wisconsin)
Offensive Field Position: 1.67 expected points/drive, 114th (Ohio (NTO)), 12th (MSU)
Rush Defense: +3!, 17th (LSU), 3rd (Penn St)
Pass Defense: +1, 46th (Illinois), 4th (Illinois)
Total Offense: +7, 21st (Oregon), 3rd (Wisconsin)
Total Defense: +4, 28th (LSU), 4th (Illinois)
Defensive Field Position: 2.19 expected points/drive, 102nd (EMU), 12th (Wisconsin)
Special Teams: –2, 98th (Auburn), 11th (Purdue)
Total: +9, 25th (LSU), 3rd (Wisconsin)
Turnovers: +8, 5th (Wyoming), 1st
I wouldn’t read too much into the rankings at this point as the opponent factor is still very early but it does give some good directional information. It should be noted that when comparing teams to their preseason expectations, Michigan is still ranked in the 50s but when you compare to how they have performed so far this year, the ranking goes into the 20s.
So far the defense has established that it can create opportunities for success, and that’s better than we’ve seen for a while. The offense has held onto decent numbers despite sporadic results. We would all like to see more consistency from the offense but a TD and a three and out are still better than 2 long drives and a couple of FG attempts.
Field position and special teams continue to be major issues and ones that contribute to some of the unexpected positivity in the offensive and defensive numbers. Both units have faced some of the worst field position which has given them a chance at bigger points.
San Diego St Preview
Michigan Rush: +5, 8th
Denard Robinson +4, 4th in QB rushing nationally
Fitzgerald Toussaint +2, 39th ranked RB nationally
SDSU Rush Defense: +1, 47th
Michigan Pass: +2, 48th
Denard Robinson +3, 51st in passing (individual numbers differ from team because sacks are excluded from individual numbers)
SDSU Pass Defense: +4, 23rd
SDSU Rush: +3, 26th
Ronnie Hillman +5, 6th ranked RB
Michigan Rush Defense: +3, 17th
SDSU Pass: +1, 59th
Ryan Lindley, +1, 67th QB (significant drop from last year under Borges when Lindley was +5 and a top 25 QB)
Michigan Pass Defense: +1, 46th
San Diego St hasn’t shown any breakout defensive playmakers so far this season. Jerome Long on the DL has the most plays made with 9 worth 4 points for the defense. Larry Parker leads the secondary with 8 plays for +7 and Jake Fealy is the top linebacker with 7 plays for +5.
Jordan Kovacs ranks third in the nation and is the top non-linebacker in defensive points with +14 on 6 plays. Kenny Demens is 20th with 13 plays made for +6. Hawthorne, Thomas Gordon, RVB and Jibreel Black are the other players with at least 6 plays made.
Michigan Special Teams: –2, 98th
SDSU Special Teams: +0, 64th
It looks like a pretty even matchup when the Aztecs have the ball but Michigan should be able to put some points up, even if they can’t find the higher gear consistently.
So my youtube account has been closed after a series of copyright claims by one of the companies that goes around doing that. Thus no video as I try to sort it out with them. They did get back to my email and I should get a call in w/ a relevant person shortly. We'll see how that goes.
Substitution notes: Status quo, mostly. Smith and Toussaint are obviously the top two backs this instant. Odoms is still an infrequent participant because of the cast; Dileo appears to be in front of Jackson and Jerald Robinson (who we still haven't seen) beyond Hemingway/Roundtree/Gallon on the depth chart.
Schofield got in a bit, once as a goal-line tight end and once spotting Barnum late. I believe that was a shoe issue.
Formation notes: A heavier dose of shotgun than Borges was calling for for obvious reasons. Michigan's using a little motion from the gun now, something RR never did, and this semi-stack formation is making somewhat frequent appearances:
That's still shotgun trips to me, FWIW.
Show? Depleted show.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M35||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-4 under||Run||Iso||Toussaint||8|
|Running at the backside gap left by the under shift. Good combo block by Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) kicks out a DT and gets Omameh on to the MLB. Huyge(+1) locks out playside DT; McColgan(+1) crumbles WLB. Toussaint can just go straight upfield.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Huyge, McColgan||RUN-:|
|M43||2||2||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-5 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||Robinson||4|
|Both safeties in the box. Michigan goes to the pin and pull we've seen a few times that is apparently their preferred outside running play. EMU slants to it and prevents any of their guys from getting sealed(RPS -1). They have this killed, basically, except the backside DT gets way upfield and stumbles when he should be tackling Robinson on his slow-as-hell cutback. No points for anyone. Lucky. Q: why not throw the long handoff here? Or a hitch or something?|
|M47||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel under||Pass||Tunnel screen||Robinson||14|
|Denard pulls it down. I'm not sure why since the WR seems open. Hesitant after last week, or can he see this is going to get crushed because a DT is going to release right into it? I guess I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Screen gone he's got guys in his face and Denards it for a first down. (SCR, N/A, N/A. Target: Gallon)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-4 under||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||4|
|Linebackers are already sprinting at the mesh point, so this is tough. Backside DE forms up; correct handoff. Omameh and Huyge(+1) execute a good combo block on the local DT, kicking him out. Omameh is about to release into the second level when the sprinting linebacker is in his face. Omameh manages to get a shove on him. Unblocked MLB sitting in the hole now; Toussaint cuts back, where Huyge's block and the delay on the backside DE by the read fake get him a few yards. RPS -1.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge||RUN-:|
|O35||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Okie?||Run||QB power||Robinson||1|
|No one in a three point stance here as EMU gets fancy. Michigan runs power at it and has a huge hole... and a guy running at Robinson right behind the down-blocking Barnum(-2). Barnum's fault, sure, but also an RPS -1. The other blocks are easy by design here so no pluses. RUN-: Barnum(2)|
|O34||3||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel press||Pass||Dumpoff||Smith||Inc|
|Huyge(-1) beaten by the EMU DE. Bodes unwell. Robinson does have enough time to get to a second read after he doesn't like the first. Why? Not sure. Hemingway had separation and was running an open in for a first down, but the two(!) spies EMU is running are reading his eyes and might leap to bat it or worse. He checks to Smith running an out in front of a linebacker. Throw is a little bit off but Smith just drops this. (CA, 3, protection ½, Huyge)|
|O34||4||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||3||Nickel press||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||Int|
|EMU sends two up the middle and it's picked up well enough by the rest of the line; Smith(-1) gets chucked on his block attempt and only delays his guy briefly. Denard throws a hitch to a pretty well covered Hemingway. He's got a window if he throws it a bit upfield; instead it's way too far inside and the EMU DB has a play on the ball. To his credit, he makes it. (IN, 0, protection 2/3, Smith –1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 9 min 1st Q. Both of these last two passes were accurate-ish but made more difficult by tight coverage.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M1||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-4 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||1|
|Koger(-2) stood up by the DE he's assigned to on the goal line; DE fights his way inside of him and completely prevents any hole outside. Toussaint sees this and starts cutting backside. He may have a hole but Koger's block was so poor his guy comes up to tackle. RUN-: Koger(2)|
|Batted back in his face. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M2||3||9||Shotgun trips||1||0||3||Nickel||Pass||Rollout sack||Robinson||0|
|Smith(-2) whiffs his cut on the edge and these routes, which all look long, do not have a chance to develop. Denard steps up and is swarmed. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Smith -2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M21||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-4 under||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||-1|
|Moore(-2) is blown up by the DE opposite him, who plows into the backfield and removes blockers and any semblance of a hole. Also they're running from the I against nine in the box. I remember handing out RPS -1s for these in the DeBord era. RUN-: Moore(2)|
|M20||2||11||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA Wheel||Koger||Inc|
|Yay second and 11 play action from a formation we average 2 YPC from. EMU has two deep safeties, a rarity, and the linebackers don't bite at all. One of them gets a chuck on Koger just as Denard releases the ball on his wheel route. This is pretty awesome: Koger fake blocks for three seconds and then releases and the EMU LB is right there waiting for him. I think this (no PI) is legit since the contact started before the ball was in the air and was not maintained too long. Actually a good throw without the coverage. The rare (CA, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)|
|Four man rush on which Omameh and Molk block a guy, and then both stop blocking him. In Molk's case it was to peel off and block a guy who had beaten Barnum; Omameh blocks air. Denard is pressured, avoids a sack, avoids another sack, steps up, and rifles a ball eight yards over someone's head. Not even sure who. Tacopants special. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Barnum -1, Omameh -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M3||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||52|
|Why everyone has forgotten how to defend this I'll never know. Basic zone read, DE crashes down, TE heads for OLB, other LBs rush to frontside of play, Denard in open field. He accelerates past two guys and rips off a big one. Tree gets a great block AAAAAH. RPS +3.|
|RUN+: Robinson(3), Roundtree(2)||RUN-:|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Down G||Robinson||4|
|EMU DE does a great job recognizing the pull and backing out once he's left unblocked; he drops out, gets wide, picks off Toussaint, and forces the play inside. +2 that guy. Since Omameh and Molk have both pulled the backside D is running down the line—Barnum has no shot—and tackles from behind. They still get some yards because there's no one in front of Denard thanks to Huyge(+1) getting a good seal on the other NT and Koger(+1) improvising to peel off and block a linebacker after the DE exited stage left.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Koger||RUN-:|
|O41||2||6||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB power||Robinson||-2|
|Barnum(-3) pulls and inexplicably runs by the blitzing LB, who plasters Denard. If that's picked up he might be able to dance for considerable yardage.|
|O43||3||8||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Nickel press||Run||QB draw||Robinson||22|
|This is a complete fiasco (RPS -1). EMU sends two blitzers; Michigan lets one through and picks up another at the expense of letting a DT through unblocked. Smith(+1) picks off one LB, and Denard(+3) jets past that DT—lucky. I think Barnum was right there to get the LB—closest to the play—and Lewan(-1) had to slide to make the far side DE the threat. After Denard passes the DT he's got smooth sailing since Molk(+2) and Omameh(+2) have kicked the crap out of two defenders. Denard cuts back for extra yardage, then fumbles(-3) because he's not carrying it high and tight.|
|RUN+: Robinson(3), Molk(2), Omameh(2), Smith||RUN-: Lewan, Robinson(3)|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE flat||Koger||12|
|EMU in man; guy on Koger blasts into one of his own guys and falls. Wide open. Denard's getting quick pressure and flicks a soft one to Koger; he turns it up for good yardage. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power||Robinson||0|
|Denard checks into a bad play; EMU slants to this. Molk(-1) senses the slant and tries to pass his guy off to Omameh(-1), who is unprepared. This is for no purpose since Lewan has handled the backside DE. Robinson cuts back right into this dude and gets planted. RUN-: Omameh, Molk|
|O9||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||PA quick seam||Koger||9|
|Zone read fake into a quick seam. LBs take one step to the LOS and that's all M needs. Good timing, catch, touchdown. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||5|
|EMU scrape exchange does not sucker Denard; he hands off. EMU slants playside; Toussaint(+1) cuts behind it. Unfortunately, Koger is blocking the backside DE along with Huyge so the MLB is unblocked and can react to the cutback. Need one of those guys to hit it up in the hole and Toussaint is into the secondary. I want to minus one of Koger or Huyge for a missed assignment but no idea who. Ohh: team. RUN-: Team|
|RUN+: Omameh, Toussaint||RUN-: Team|
|M18||2||5||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-4 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||Robinson||-2|
|All right, I'm officially annoyed at this play. It's crap. It's hard to execute, never gives you cutbacks, and doesn't allow Molk to reach fools. Why not use the stretch? Here a blitzer off the edge gets past three blockers, forcing a cutback, where hard-flowing EMU defenders cut Denard down. RPS -2. RUN-: Shaw(2)|
|M16||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||Rollout fly||Hemingway||Inc|
|Too long. Stupid route package on third and medium-ish. Literally no short routes (RPS -1). (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 5 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||12|
|Derpity doo. Backside DE plunges inside; no scrape. Denard pulls. Slot LB chucks Dileo. Denard pulls, runs, etc. Stupidly easy. RPS +2.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Robinson||RUN-:|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Down G||Robinson||12|
|Omameh and Molk pull; Huyge(-1) ignores the playside DT. That's a problem, but it's kind of his job since he's pulling (RPS –1). DT gets into the pullers way fast. Denard has to hold up, reverse field, and beat everyone to the backside of the play. He breaks a kid's ankles out there for fun. No video : (|
|RUN+: Robinson(3)||RUN-: Huyge(2)|
|M37||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||???||Run||Down G||Smith||38|
|Finally they execute this stuff correctly, or at least I think so. It's possible Omameh still screwed up but we come to the play late as Lewan(+2) is plowing the playside DE inside and pullers are pulling. Barnum(+1) nails a linebacker. Koger(+2) kicks out a defensive end authoritatively. Smith(+1)... runs behind this stuff. Molk has no one to block, even. Hemingway(+2) plows an EMU DB into the sideline, allowing Smith to cut back behind him(+1) again, wherupon Molk(+1) whacks some pursuers. Keys here are Koger and Lewan and Barnum.|
|RUN+: Smith, Lewan(2), Koger, Barnum, Molk, Hemingway||RUN-:|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||3|
|This opens up beautifully as EMU's dudes get way upfield (RPS +1) but Robinson cuts it backside when he's got Tousssaint leading him through a huge hole frontside. This kills all the blocking angles.|
|RUN+: Molk||RUN-: Robinson(2)|
|O22||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||11|
|This is a lovely little run. EMU WLB is scraping on Robinson, albeit slowly. EMU is slanting over the top. Omameh(+1) pancakes his guy and Huyge(+1) controls his, shooting him down the line; Toussaint(+2) reads the blocking and has the darting agility to cut back behind the Huyge block, avoid the scraping LB's tackle as he recovers, come back inside Molk's block of the MLB, and almost burst into the secondary before an ankle tackle takes him down.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Huyge, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB power||Robinson||11|
|EMU slants hard and M adjusts well. Playside DT slants past Lewan; Barnum(+1) finds him and kicks him down the line. He dead. Molk(+1) buries the other guy. Lewan(+2) releases straight downfield and clobberates the MLB, but it's Koger(+2) who wins block of the play by adjusting to a DE slanting under him and pounding him inside to pancake. From there it's easy.|
|RUN+: Koger(2), Lewan(2), Barnum, Molk||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-3, 39 sec 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power read||Robinson||8|
|Insert scare quotes around read in that play description—I don't think this is an actual read. Line blocks down and Huyge pulls around, aiming for the hole between Barnum and Lewan. Both those guys get great kickout blocks(+1 each). Molk(+1) is aided by the sweep action that sucks the MLB a step the wrong way; he gets position and spends a long time controlling him. Huyge(+1) picks off the other LB and Denard has acres. Safety comes down quickly to hold the play down. RPS +1 for the ease of these blocks thanks to the misdirection.|
|RUN+: Molk, Lewan, Huyge, Barnum, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M25||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||0|
|EMU has a playcall on to defeat this play, with two guys on the backside of the defense. One heads right for Robinson; handoff. The inside guy hands right for Toussaint, who has to cut back because the over-shifted DL is slanting under the blocks. Toussaint gets nailed by the DT. RPS -2. No chance of this getting yards.|
|M25||3||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||2|
|Running at a crowded area. Adequate kickout from Koger; Omameh is also doing his job on a DT. Huyge(-1) gets chucked by the playside DE, who is now sitting playside where Barnum and Toussaint are trying to block guys. Denard cuts back behind this directly into a charging safety, who gives him a stiff shot. Denard manages to spin off it and just gets the first down.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh||RUN-: Huyge|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel under||Pass||Wheel oh noes||Toussaint||Inc|
|Draw fake into play action. Denard doesn't have much time because there's an unblocked DE in on him; he has to step back and loft one. Linebackers have sucked up, though, and Toussaint's wheel is open for a nice chunk. Denard gets it to him but Toussaint drops it. He then gets lit up because either the throw is too lofted (probably not) or late (probably); still, this should have been 15 yards or so. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|M27||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||27|
|Again Smith is blessed with acres of space as EMU blitzes a linebacker to the frontside of the play; Huyge(+1) kicks him way upfield. Omameh(+1) controls the DT to that side and there's a big gap that opens with no one there to contain. Smith(+1) reads it and is off, his little legs bumping and his little head waving back and forth as he just tries to go so fast. And it does seem like he's outrunning this EMU safety just before he uses the last bits of his angle to tackle. RPS+2; there are like three dudes on the backside surrounding Robinson by the time Smith breaks outside.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge, Smith||RUN-:|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||5|
|LBs slide to the Denard side of a hypothetical zone read. This is a spot where there should be an auto-check to a bubble. EMU line slants playside; backside DE pulls up for contain and Denard hands off. Barnum(+1) is not going to seal his guy and so adjusts, blowing him down the line and providing a cutback lane. Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) blow up their dudes; Lewan(-1) gets a second level block but that guy pops off to the interior to tackle.|
|RUN+: Barnum, Omameh, Molk||RUN-: Lewan|
|O41||2||5||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||3-4 base||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|And then EMU forgets how to defend this again. EMLOS is kicked out by Koger; playside LB blitzes at the RB. Backside DT gets so hammered by Huyge(+1) that Omameh gets nailed by that block as he tries to get out on the MLB, so he can scrape. Robinson sees this and tries to pop outside Koger, does, stops when the contain comes, pops back inside the now-helmetless Koger(+1 for picking up another block), and shoots up for a first down. I think he basically had the first down if he just slams it up, but +1 for entertainment value alone. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Koger, Huyge||RUN-:|
|O33||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Pass||PA TE flat||Koger||Inc|
|Don't like this PA because it's stretch action. Michigan hasn't run a stretch this year. The backside LB does not bite and backs off. Koger is still open; Denard wings it high. Would have been five yards and an instant tackle if accurate. (IN, 2, protection N/A)|
|O33||2||10||I-Form twins||1||2||2||4-4 even||Pass||Fake dive to pitch||Smith||14|
|I have no idea why this should work. It's second and ten. If M hands it to the fullback, EMU OLB, you don't have to care. Unblocked EMLOS sucks in; playside LB does too; Lewan(+1) kills that guy; Molk(+1) gets the other LB, doesn't really matter because the EMLOS is now chasing Smith outside. Once on the corner he gets a fantastic mountain goat block from Odoms(+2) and an almost as good block from Gallon(+1) to pick up the first. He's actually tackled by the pursuing DE; he gets through that and he could be going a long way. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Odoms(2), Lewan, Molk, Gallon||RUN-:|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||12|
|Opens up as Barnum(+1) blows the DT past his intended spot and Robinson holds the EMLOS outside. Molk(+1) and Lewan(+1) get linebackers and this opens up cavernously. Toussaint makes an inexplicable decision to cut back outside instead of trying to shoot past the safety for the endzone but makes up for it by spinning through three(!) EMU tacklers and picking up the first.|
|RUN+: Barnum, Molk, Lewan, Toussaint||RUN-:|
|O7||1||G||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||0|
|Molk(+1) and Barnum(+1) seal and erase the backside DL; big cutback hole. EMU has overloaded the frontside and prevented a gap from forming despite decent blocking out there; Omameh(-1) does not adjust to the reality of the play and runs up Lewan's back; Robinson(-2) misses an obvious cutback lane that would be six points.|
|RUN+: Molk, Barnum||RUN-: Omameh, Robinson(2)|
|O7||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA rollout scramble||Robinson||6|
|Again: stretch action we only use for PA. This is the same play we scored that TD with in the first RR game except this time instead of Shaw releasing into the flat it's Koger. Opponents have this scouted and Koger is blanketed, as is Grady. Robinson engages Tate Mode, starts running around like a lunatic, totally fails to see Toussaint alone in the endzone, and runs down to the one. That's just how he do. (SCR, N/A, N/A)|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan, Barnum||RUN-:|
|O1||3||G||Goal line||2||0||3||Goal line||Run||FB dive||Toussaint||1|
|The third TE is actually Schofield, lined up at LT while Lewan lines up next to Huyge on the right. Borges loves FB dives from the one and orders one up; Toussaint leaps over the pile before EMU defenders can react.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 9 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||QB draw||Robinson||0|
|More of a last year play than the power stuff we've gotten a lot of; Rawls(-1) is the RB and his lead block is running straight into the secondary. Omameh(-1) is shoved back and can't get much of a handle on his DT; Koger(-1) runs straight up his back instead of adjusting, and Denard runs into Koger. Last year these QB draw-type plays were MANBALL plays with both DTs getting doubled, and usually blown off the ball... this draw action is a little goofy given the context. RUN-: Omameh, Rawls, Koger|
|M25||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||5|
|I don't understand defenses this year! DE crashes down, no scraper, pull, problems for D. The playside LB does get outside Lewan, forcing a cutback that's relevant because Molk got confused because he had no one to block, looked around, and ended up not taking the overhang guy to the short side. That guy tackles. RPS +1|
|RUN+: Robinson||RUN-: Molk|
|M30||3||5||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||Drag||Gallon||18|
|Gallon motions in from the outside to more of a slot-type position. EMU sends five on a zone blitz; picked up. Denard has a great pocket and finds Gallon on his drag in front of the zone. Gallon grabs the ball, runs through a tackle, and picks up a nice gain. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|M48||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||Smith||5|
|Argh. The totally unblocked NT follows Molk's pull, causes Molk to peel off to block. Unblocked playside DE takes out the other puller. Lewan(+2) got a great sealing block that gives the weakside LB a terrible choice; he goes upfield and around and erases himself, except he doesn't because a filling safety forces Smith back inside and gets him. This gets five yards with great play from virtually the entire O. RPS -1.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith, Molk||RUN-:|
|O47||2||5||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Pass||Tunnel screen||Gallon||1|
|This never works. You know what would be more effective than this? Throwing it directly to Gallon. His corner is ten yards off him. RPS -1. Also EMU zone blitzes such that they have a DL in a short zone right in front of this. No chance; Gallon does well to get a yard and gets lit up for his trouble. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O48||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||19|
|EMU sends five; picked up. They're in man behind it, so when Omameh blasts the DT way upfield and a lane opens it's easy for Denard to pick up the first. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||6|
|Blitzer off the corner for contain; Robinson hands it off. Another guy on the edge is there for the cutback and gets inside of Koger, but it's not his fault. Lewan(+1) gets a good block to shove the slanting DL down the line and Smith(+1) sees the lane, hitting it for decent yardage. EMU had a good call on and M still got yards. RPS: confused.|
|RUN+: Smith, Lewan||RUN-:|
|O23||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA Rollout comeback||Roundtree||Inc|
|More PA that uses stretch action M never runs. DE out in Robinson's face because he knows Rawls isn't getting the ball. Robinson forms up and has to throw; it's upfield of Roundtree and not a super great throw but he has to get it away from the DB and this isn't that difficult a catch. It's a 2, but with a guy in your face a 16 yard 2 is okay. The real problem is Hemingway was wiiide open for a TD because of a bust and Robinson missed him. Guy in his face, though. (CA, 2, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O23||3||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB iso||Robinson||4|
|Schofield in. This is closer to last year's play. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) double the NT and proceed to drive him back. Molk(+1) then peels off to nail the MLB. The play seems to be going off tackle behind Omameh(-1) but he just passively sits and accepts the opponent like it's a draw. Last year he'd be doubling with the tackle. Denard has to cut behind Omameh, is hesitant, and then hits it up; Lewan(-1) did not control his guy and he comes off to tackle at the sticks.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Schofield||RUN-: Lewan, Omameh|
|O19||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Pin and pull zone||Smith||0|
Clown show: Omameh(-2) pulls and gets three yards upfield, blocking no one ever. Molk was trying to pull too and couldn't because doing so would let the NT into the backfield. Two unblocked LBs tackle Smith at the LOS. RPS -2.
RUN-: Omameh(2), Koger
|O19||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Oh Noes||Dileo||19|
|QB iso to throw, you know the drill. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-3, 1 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M12||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||3|
|Linebackers crashing on handoff, whatever, 28-3, no more RPS. Still think Denard should keep since his contain guy is getting nailed by Dileo; the handoff ain't right. Barnum does okay with his guy but he's slanting; cutback. The contain guy destined for Shaw thumps him. Any yards available because of Lewan.|
|RUN+: Lewan||RUN-: Robinson|
|M15||2||7||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 under||Pass||PA Hitch||Jackson||12|
|This is the kind of thing I am talking about. PA zone read sucks six EMU defenders in because it is an inside zone and Robinson has his choice of targets. Dileo looks tantalizing again, but Denard goes with Jackson on a five-yard hitch. Denard hits him, Jackson makes an orbit step around the defender trying to tackle and picks up the first. Vintage 2010. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||9|
|An accidental combo block from Huyge, who is taking on the playside DE, and Barnum, who is pulling on the power. Huyge blocks the DE and slides off him. He finds himself downfield, so he blocks the MLB who has slid playside. Barnum(+1) comes around to kick out the DE who slid off Huyge. This gives Denard a lane because Omameh(+1) sealed the playside DT away. Denard(+1) sees the lane and makes the cut for near first down yardage.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Barnum, Omameh, Robinson||RUN-:|
|M36||2||1||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Pin and pull zone||Toussaint||-1|
|I really hate this play. The playside EMU DT reads the pull over him and pulls himself, avoiding Lewan's block and turning himself into an extra defender. EMU LB gets outside Barnum, another takes on Molk, and there is nowhere for Toussaint to go. Pulling DT(!) makes a TFL. RPS -2.|
|M35||3||2||Ace trips bunch||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Pitch sweep||Smith||11|
|I called this from the stands: again, this is a play that has no relation to anything M has previously run and almost gives itself away by formation. Still works. It does so because Huyge(+2) gets playside of the playside DE and when he threatens to come under to flow down the line he adjusts beautifully to kick him away, which also gets rid of the playside DT. A sad Jackson(-1) cut block just gets him out of the play and EMU is flowing hard down the line, but Smith(+2) reads all this and cuts behind it, then jukes a safety for a good chunk more.|
|RUN+: Smith(2), Huyge(2)||RUN-: Jackson|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||12|
|Good kickout of playside DT by Barnum(+1); Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB and nails him. Omameh can't get playside of his DT, which would be hard; Smith(+2) is able to slice through the narrow gap that results. Secondary converges.|
|RUN+: Smith(2), Barnum, Molk||RUN-:|
|M44||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-4 under||Pass||PA Post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Motion into twins reveals man. Robinson makes a terrible decision to throw into double coverage when he had acres of space to run in and maybe Koger if he really insisted on throwing. Pass is broken up. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M44||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-4 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||5|
|Late motion seems to confuse EMU D. Koger(+1) gets a good seal on the playside DE. Dileo(-1) whiffs on the nickelback and this forces Denard(+1) to cut outside, evading the guy. Bounce robs Odoms of an angle on his guy; that guy runs Robinson OOB.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Koger||RUN-: Dileo|
|M49||3||5||Shotgun trips TE||1||0||4||Okie?||Pass||Post||Gallon||38|
|EMU blitzes for five rushers; picked up. With a great pocket, Denard's first read is Gallon on a post similar to the one he missed against ND late. This time he zings it into Gallon for tons of yards. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O13||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||6|
|Momentary double from Molk helps Barnum(+1) destroy the playside DT; Molk(+2) then gets out on the LB. That's basically the play. Omameh does okay with the other DT, but he flows down the line. Toussaint has room afforded by the annihilation of the other dude and does all he can to hit that hole fast for good yardage.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Barnum||RUN-:|
|O7||2||4||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
|It seems like these guys are way more mechanical on the power than they are on the zone. Here Omameh pulls around. Okay, fine. Barnum blocks down on the playside DT, he gets a little penetration, Omameh has a tough angle to get around. He does. And then he runs right into Lewan for no friggin reason, because Lewan is blocking a dude and EMU has two LB/S types to the inside. Slow your roll, block a dude. Lewan's excellent push and Denard keeping his balance after being hit gets this near the sticks.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Robinson||RUN-: Omameh|
|O4||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Pass||PA TE out||Koger||Inc|
|PA fake to waggle gets Koger open, but Robinson just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 31-3, 4 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted.|
Let's get to the spread/shotgun comparison.
Impatient, I see. This week the run breakdown is close: 7.8 yards from the shotgun and 7.2 from under center. Vincent Smith helped by ripping off a 38-yarder from an ace three-wide set. Here's another number: Michigan averaged 11.2 yards per carry on the zone read, which was called 15(!) times. A full breakdown follows.
- Down G: 3 carries at 18 YPC thanks to long Smith run, 12 yarder from Robinson.
- Pin and pull zone: 5 carries at 1.2 YPC. I may have confused some of these with Down G. I picked up an ID point in the comments of the linked Smart Football post so I'll be better about it in the future.
- Pitch sweep: 1 for 11 yards.
- Iso: 2 for 6 YPC.
- Traditional QB draws: 3 for 8.3 YPC, though the bulk of those were on a "complete fiasco" Denard turned into magic.
- Power: 12 for 3.1 YPC. This includes a single "power read"
- Inside zone read: 15 at 11.2 YPC.
Opponents' sudden inability to defend the zone read, which seemed like a solved problem, remains mystifying. Borges isn't doing anything fancy: the TE flares out to hit the playside LB, they run inside zone, and four times a game Robinson has no one covering him. Is it a combo with all the (unsuccessful) power from the shotgun? I don't know yet, but I'll try to figure it out.
So, here you make the complaints about MANBALL.
The numbers speak for themselves, I think. I'll look into the possibility the heavy dose of power is opening up the zone reads.
Here we must—
I'm afraid. Hold me.
[Hey: sorry about dropping the table legend out the past couple weeks. It returns. Hit the UFR FAQ for a fuller explanation of the abbreviations, but basically the first five columns are regular old throws in decreasing order of quality (dead on, catchable, marginal, inaccurate, and bad read) and the remainder are exceptional events that do not result in a catchable pass downfield (throwaway, batted, pressure, scramble).
UPDATE: I actually put the legend back in this time. Seriously. Hover over column headers.]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
|Notre Dame '11||6||7(1)||1||6(1)||5||1||1||1||-||50%|
Denard didn't throw into double coverage all day—he only did it once—but that downfield accuracy remains troublesome. I don't think Denard got a lot of help from certain playcalls, about which more later, but the issues are still there.
He could have gotten some help from his receivers, though:
Two flat drops and two failures to make help-me-out-here catches in 11 opportunities to catch a ball is a drag, man. Pick up three of the four and Denard's day looks a little less turrible statistically.
|Lewan||13||3||10||The most natural fit in donkey hating offense|
|Barnum||10||5||5||Struggled early (was –5 at one point) and recovered well|
|Molk||16||2||14||Ass kicking day.|
|Omameh||10||7||3||Pulling not a specialty|
|Huyge||9||2||7||Surprising amount of power run over him.|
|Schofield||1||-||-||A few plays.|
|Moore||-||2||-2||One major whiff|
|TOTAL||66||25||41||The kind of numbers you put up after rushing for 376 yards. Also a TEAM –1 in here.|
|Robinson||18||8||10||Fumble was –3 and ultimately harmless.|
|Toussaint||3||-||3||Still think he's better than Smith…|
|Shaw||-||2||-2||Hardly got a carry. Whiffed one block.|
|Smith||9||-||9||…but my numbers don't. Caveat: Smith –3 pass blocking.|
|Rawls||-||1||-1||Comical missed block|
|McColgan||1||-||-||Early iso, then gone.|
|TOTAL||31||9||22||Contributions from non-Denards: can they last?|
|Hemingway||2||-||2||One good block.|
|Odoms||2||-||2||I'm so mad about the video. Need moar mountain goat.|
|Roundtree||2||-||2||AAAH block on one Denard keeper|
|Protection||15||6||71%||Smith 3, Barnum 1, Omameh 1, Huyge 1|
|RPS||16||17||-1||not worried about this vs EMU|
That's the usual crushing day you'd expect an OL to have when you average 7.5 YPC against an EMU-type opponent. The big takeaway above is Vincent Smith.
I thought you were all like "no, Vincent Smith, go away, be a complementary player, boo Vincent Smith, boo"?
You are exceptionally aggressive this year, fictional alter-ego. As to your question, well, yeah, kinda. I mean, these are the kind of holes he was offered:
It takes vision to find the offensive linemen on plays like this, not the hole. He still seems to be moving in slow motion to me, though on one run—this one, actually—it looks like he's outrunning the safety as the guy completes his pursuit. I'm a bit concerned he won't be able to get the corner or into the secondary against teams faster than the Eagles.
That said, he did pick up a lot of positives in nine carries (some were for blocking) and he seems to remain healthy. I like Toussaint better—I think he's got more upside—but Smith's earned a hunk of the carries. Let the two of them fight it out on the field.
Are you less of a sourpuss about the offensive design now?
I'm not exactly happy that we can't run from under center against the likes of Eastern Michigan, but I have to admit my reaction to the pro-style aspects of the first quarter was a lot like watching Jonathan Bornstein in a pre-World Cup friendly: if it's going to be bad I want it to be so bad that not even Bob Bradley thinks it's a good idea to keep it up when things count for real*. Twenty-six Denard carries later that seems established.
*[If we're extending this metaphor to its logical conclusion, the pro-style will be forced onto the field by events beyond the coaches' control during the Big Ten season and be surprisingly serviceable before being exiled to the dustbin of history.]
So… somewhat. I'm still mystified why they keep running this pin and pull zone, which seems incredibly vulnerable to slants and the like and doesn't seem to, like, work. Ever. It's a play that gets to the outside. I know the zone stretch is like drinking the wrong kind of light beer made from rice and by Europeans, but we're good at drinking those.
And then, you know, it's like… I'm just…
This should never happen. Michigan should not allow opponents to align like this without putting a bubble in their face. They'd run Smith for five, which is good, I guess, but there's an obvious risk of not getting that five that is not there if you throw the bubble. Lloyd threw the bubble. It's okay!
And then I'm all like just you know…
This ended up being a Gallon tunnel screen for zero yards when just throwing it to the dude is a first down. Tunnel screens may work in offenses where you have a bunch of guys roaring upfield because they need pass rush. In this offense you have a bunch of guys being extraordinarily careful not to give Denard rushing lanes and always extra guys in the box. I mean…
…that's not good eats. Okay, this was a zone blitz that got lucky, but they gave you a first down by alignment. Take the first down! Don't throw screens into the box when there are extra guys in the box! Death to the tunnel screen!
JOIN THE TUNNEL SCREEN LIBERATION SOCIETY
WE'RE WORKING ON THE COLOR SCHEME
So by "somewhat" you mean not at all, then.
These are admittedly nits. If you're ever going to RPS yourself into a bloody forehead it should be against Eastern, and Michigan didn't even do that thanks to everyone's inexplicable ability to defend a zone read.
The thing that concerns me for the immediate future is the grab-bag nature of the offense. Many of the misdirection plays not copped from last year's offense (ie oh noes) are not actually alternatives to the things we actually run. The throwback screen against ND is a great example. That played off our offense's tendency to… roll the pocket from under center on first and ten? That worked once. It won't work consistently.
The best example of this is Michigan's rollout play action from the shotgun, which is an exact replica of what Rodriguez used to do. The problem: it uses stretch action and Michigan's stretch count this year is… zero. If you see stretch blocking it has been 100% PA this year. Eastern was wise to this.
Usual disclaimers apply: Borges is a smart dude. Dragging the throwback screen out did work. I enjoy the coordinator pressers so, so hard.
Most of the offensive line with special commendation to Molk and Lewan. Ground Denard. Vincent Smith.
What does it mean for SDSU and the future?
We keep moving more towards a spread offense that uses Denard's legs to get receivers open enough for Denard's arms to hit them. "Moving towards" might be a understating it after Robinson had 26 carries for 198 yards against Eastern. In retrospect, I kind of think the odd decision to have Denard out there running with a 28-3 lead on EMU was less about getting the offense practice and more about getting Borges practice.
So, expect Michigan to come out next week with Denard's legs as the focus early; SDSU will be an opponent to respect for at least 45 minutes and probably 60. Borges knows Long pretty well but Long doesn't know what Borges will do with Denard, largely because I'm not sure Borges does. I doubt we'll see stuff from under center until the second quarter. I'm hoping we see more pieces that fit together this week.
Long term, this is still Denard's offense, which means Borges has to get him in his comfort zone throwing. They also have to either tighten up their power game or consider wussy basketball on grass, because the manball is not operational yet.