|WHAT||Michigan vs Ohio State|
12:00 PM Eastern
November 24th, 2012
|THE LINE||OSU –3.5|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, dry, mid-30s|
This preview assumes that Denard Robinson will play a similar role to the one he did against Iowa, still minus about all of the throwing.
Run Offense vs OSU
wall of fame sports describes Hankins as a "road grater"
Yerg. After weeks and weeks of struggles against mediocre or worse Big Ten defensive lines, Michigan is staring down the barrel at John Simon, Jonathan Hankins, and company. Ace:
The front four is very, very good. Behemoth DT Johnathan Hankins demands two blockers on the interior; while he's mostly a space-eater, he'll make a few plays that show off frightening quickness, which is why he'll be a top ten NFL draft pick. Garrett Goebel is solid, not spectacular, at the other tackle spot—while he doesn't make a lot of plays, he holds the point of attack well. Nathan Williams is also in that mold—not a huge playmaker, but not a weak point. That allows Simon to do what he does, and Michigan would be wise to avoid him as much as possible.
Abandon all hope all ye who try to run between the tackles.
Ohio State has rebounded from some rough early outings to shut down the Big Ten's assortment of feeble offenses. In the league all comers have been crushed save Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Huskers got one huge play and an assortment of moderately-sized ones en route to 253 yards on 41 carries, 6.2 a pop. Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions and Nebraska still put up 38 points and around 450 yards. Wisconsin had a similar outing minus the huge play, grinding out 242 yards on 52 carries. This was almost all Montee Ball, who neared 200 himself and needed 39 carries to do so.
Michigan is caught between those teams' offenses, except when they try to run the ball from under center they get bags of despair instead of yards. This sucks, as Etienne Sabino's return has seen him move to SLB when OSU is in their base package with converted fullback Zach Boren—like, converted a few games ago—the starting MLB. Wisconsin profited from that weak spot, as Ace noted; it's doubtful Michigan can manage it.
So what does that leave? The inverted veer game from the shotgun and a satellite of plays around it, plus Denard jet sweep type action, Fritz-type action, and maybe just giving him the dang ball on conventional running plays because why not. Michigan showed a diverse array of stuff last week; this has no doubt sent the Ohio State coaching staff into a tizzy preparing for it; Michigan knows this and is preparing counters; Ohio State knows this and is preparing for counters they haven't yet seen but can probably guess at since there's little new under the sun in football.
They can get stuff here. Ryan Shazier is much better this year but still retains some of those Ohio State Defense Alcohol symptoms: he is the cause of, and solution to, all problems.
Using Denard as a jet/veer/option/whatever threat is imperative. He can't be in the game without Michigan faking a handoff to him and using him as a potential dumpoff threat to keep the heat off. So Michigan must run that stuff on the ground as well. I'm guessing Michigan debuts a Devin/Denard/FB-type backfield in this game and uses Denard as the veer back and just, like, you know, the guy who takes handoffs. Running back.
That exists separately from the snaps Michigan must hand over to actual running backs on downs where Gardner is operating from pro-style sets. Since the dawn of Gardner, Thomas Rawls has 27 carries; these have gone for an average of 2.4 yards an attempt. A lot of those have been short yardage, yes, but one of the reasons a lot of those have been short yardage has been Rawls's general inability to power out the yards a guy like him is supposed to. The difference in YAC between Rawls and Iowa pounder Mark Weisman was eye-opening; several times since Gardner entered the lineup Michigan has been reduced to third- and fourth-down Gardner run/pass rollouts.
A Rawls carry that gains more than two yards will be a pleasant surprise. Michigan's other options are Vincent Smith, who has 11 carries for 23 yards in Big Ten play, and redshirt freshman Justice Hayes, who has three carries for –2 yards in all games not against UMass and Illinois. This is where millions of voices cry out for Dennis Norfleet and are suddenly silenced, but if you're going to put your miniature true freshman on the field that's pretty much putting Denard out there—he's not blocking anyone, so you might as well just go with Denard.
So, Al, what can you do with Fritz and friends?
Key Matchup: Borges vs seeming mismatch up the middle. No one's going to blame the guy if the run game can't make any headway given the relative NFL prospects of the offensive and defensive lines here, especially without Toussaint. If Borges can get some big plays out of this Devin/Denard combo by winning rock-paper-scissors matchups and confusing the opponent that'll be a bonus.
[HIT THE JUMP FOR erm]
Frank Martin is not known for being a good guy.
He is a nightmare with the media. He verbally abuses his players on the sidelines on a game by game basis. He left Kansas State, the program he built from the ground up, for an extra half million dollars a year. If that sounds familiar to Mountaineer fans, this is where the similarities end. The Miami(YTM) high school program where Martin cut his teeth committed, “The most egregious violations in state history.” When coaches talk about shady dealings and back-room exchanges of goods and services, they don’t talk about John Calipari. The conversation starts with Frank Martin, Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. And yet Martin has always managed to avoid prosecution.
Regardless of means (and its best not to look too close) Martin built a great program at Kansas State. Last year they went 22-11, 10-8 in conference, and advanced to the round of 32 in the tournament. Then karma intervened.
It turns out that Jamar Samuels, KState’s best post player, would be ineligible to play in the Syracuse game because of moneys he received from a former coach.(Martin would later admit that he gives money to former players all the time, throwing both himself and his former players under the bus.) Sure it was only 10 points and 7 rebounds they needed to replace…But it didn’t help, and Syracuse went on to curb stomp them 75-59.
Within days, Martin was on a plane to South Carolina, and Bruce Webber was on a plane to Kansas State. Bruce Webber on the other hand, IS known for being a nice guy.
He may not be hailed as the greatest coach, and yeah he does sound like he just got kicked in the nads, but he is known for doing pretty well with other people’s recruits. And he inherited a hell of a team. Senior big man Jamar Samuels was the only loss of note from last year’s team.
6’7”big man Thomas Gipson has stepped into his place.
Gipson’s scoring and rebounding have improved by a couple(9pts and 6 boards) while his shooting percentage has dropped a bit.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Wildcats ho.]
Go Blue. Beat Ohio.
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?]