"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
There is a top ten and then a cliff. As always, some amount of jitter is because I don't look at previous ballots. I don't have a strong opinion about whether Stanford or Wisconsin has a better resume.
Arkansas, Kansas State bounces. Hammering a team that I can't axe out of the top 25 gets you a big bump, especially when your only loss is to one of the invulnerables at the top of the poll. Kansas State finally gets the benefit of being undefeated after they beat Missouri and victim Baylor leaps back into the poll.
Texas, Auburn, Florida plunges. Florida is obvious. I had a vision last night in which Charlie Weis sarcastically sung "I've got Jacoby Brissett."
No sarcastic-offensive-coordinator-vision-inducing teams make my top 25. Auburn got beaten raw by Arkansas to pick up a second loss; they hang on thanks the South Carolina win, which is an anchor on the Gamecocks. Texas has a flimsy resume: wins over Rice, BYU, UCLA, and Iowa State and a hammering at the hands of Oklahoma. Iowa State has the best resume of any of those teams.
Nebraska down five after winning. Did I really have Nebraska 12th last week? Yeesh. They fell down the one-loss-team shuffle after failing to defend Ohio State until Joe Bauserman got on the field; Fresno State got clubbed by Boise after remaining competitive with Nebraska. At this point their defense seems like no fluke: it's bad.
Michigan. Jumps Illinois on the strength of a couple common opponents. The Illini beat Northwestern and Western Michigan by 3; Michigan won by 18 and 25 (in three quarters), respectively.
This one's going up early since I am headed to Chicago in a similarly early fashion. As always, please refer to the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post before exploding into a rain of confetti.
Previously here: FFFF from Ace.
Hockey plays Bentley this weekend; Michigan Hockey Net has you covered.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Northwestern|
|WHERE||Ryan Field, Evanston, IL|
|WHEN||7 Eastern, October 8th 2011|
|THE LINE||Michigan –7.5|
|WEATHER||clear, high to mid 60s, 0% chance of rain|
Run Offense vs. Northwestern
right: leading tackler Bryce McNaul
The Wildcats need to figure out whether or not they're any good at this. Last year it was clear they were not, as they gave up almost 200 yards a game and finished 92nd in raw yardage. They might have actually been worse than this—they gave up 5.2 YPC. That was worse than Minnesota. By contrast #95 Michigan and their 4.4 YPC were almost stingy.
So when the Wildcats gave up 5.2 YPC to Boston College's primary tailback and 381 yards to Army, it was just more of the same. Then they basically shut down the same powerful Illinois ground game that was a major reason the Wildcats' numbers were so bad last year. And a quick peek at previous box scores shows that Army needed 75 carries to get those yards.
So… maybe they're plausible? Let's check the FFFF:
OVERVIEW: The Wildcats actually did a solid job defending the Illini triple-option attack, and they were very aggressive in flowing to the ball and forcing Scheelhaase to make a decision while taking a hit. While the Illini weren't able to do much on the ground (3.1 yards per carry after sacks removed), they exploited this aggression, coupled with man coverage, by torching the Wildcat secondary on many play-action passes.
Aggression led to success and getting constraint down their throat. This seems like a game for counters. Conveniently, Michigan just debuted one with great success against Minnesota. Even more conveniently, their quarterback is a walking play action fake and Northwestern's safeties are giving up long touchdowns to Eastern Illinois. But that's another section.
Michigan has all but dumped the under-center run game in favor of a shotgun attack not much different from what Rodriguez ran last year. There's more power, no outside zone, and Borges threw in some isos last week, but it's basically an inside zone read/QB iso/QB power offense with constraint plays attached. This makes life hard on safeties, forces extra guys in the box, and still levels opponents. Michigan is averaging nearly 7 yards a carry and is well over that number when under-center carries are excised.
Realistically the best Northwestern can hope for here is to bleed it out slowly, catch Michigan with the right run blitzes, get Denard behind the chains, and try to strangle it out from there. Given the safety situation and the simplicity of the Michigan offense that seems unlikely.
Key Matchup: Interior offensive line versus Northwestern blitzes and line shifts. When Michigan struggled last week it was because guys on the line did not combo effectively because Minnesota shifted late. Northwestern looks run-blitz heavy and will test the recognition skills of the line.
Pass Offense vs. Northwestern
Northwestern has a safety of great woe. The Tribune:
"I like that you guys are demanding perfection," Fitzgerald replied. "Our (first-stringers) have given up two big plays. We want to eliminate those, but frankly it's one guy that needs to do it. He will remain nameless."
Nice sentiment, but safety Ibraheim Campbell, a redshirt freshman, was largely responsible for Andre Williams' 69-yard scamper and the Panthers' long touchdown pass. Eastern Illinois' late-game run came in garbage time against backups.
That statement from Fitzgerald came before AJ Jenkins went ham on the Northwestern secondary on such plays as "Blitheringly Wide Open Touchdown" and "Yet Another Blitheringly Wide Open Touchdown." An example:
That is terrible cover-3 play, just like all the wide open corner routes Jenkins ran. I'm guessing the youth and injury stricken secondary will improve but gradually, which means this weekend Michigan will have plenty of guys open. BONUS: Minnesota blew this route package exactly the same way last weekend, with the deep middle safety pulling up on the out route and leaving the post wide open for six. Denard threw it to Hemingway on the out because he was open, too, but one dollar says Borges has coached Denard on taking the deep throw here and will see if the Wildcats make this mistake again. Also, these safeties are going to freak out on QB Oh Noes guaranteed.
There will be opportunities for big plays. Michigan has not hit them much, if at all, so far this year. Denard's accuracy will be important, as will Borges giving him throws he's comfortable with (ie, in the pocket or quick Oh Noes seams).
The Wildcats do have one quality corner in Jordan Mabin, FWIW. They have a bit of a pass rush, one that seems blitz-based with sacks spread out over the roster. People don't blitz Denard much, though.
Key Matchup: Denard versus Finding Blitheringly Wide Open Guys. There have been a number this year that Denard has not seen, and he's missed some of the ones he has. Avoid Mabin and take the easy pickings that will erupt.
Run Defense vs. Northwestern
Colter, left, is NW's leading rusher. The leetle Green is the primary RB.
With Mike Trumpy out for the year after tearing his ACL and the questionable status of Persa's achilles the burden here will fall largely on Treyvon Green, a two-star true freshman who managed 67 yards on 17 carries last weekend. Sophomore Adonis Smith and Jacob "Don't Call Me Jingleheimer" Schmidt will also contribute carries, but Smith only carried once and Schmidt 6 times last week. Both were healthy. Green looks like the man.
Despite my general belief that Northwestern tailbacks not named Tyrell Sutton are all cut from the same uninspiring cloth it appears the loss of Trumpy will be a blow. Sippin' on Purple:
ballcarriersophomore wasn't listed as starter on the depth chart but had taken the lion's share of carries at running back and was clearly the best player coming out of the backfield, leading the team's corps in runs and yards. He was tearing up Illinois on the ground with 12 carries for 63 yards before getting hurt, and, well, sadly, it's serious.
After leaving the game, NU's run game sputtered - although Dan Persa got hurt pretty simultaneously. Treyvon Green looks promising and did have nearly 70 yards on 17 carries, and Jacob Schmidt actually had one of the best runs of his career churning his legs into the end zone for NU's final touchdown, but I don't think anybody can act like Trumpy hasn't been the best runner.
I wouldn't rule out Purdue-style mass-QB wackiness. Kain Coulter is Northwestern's leading rusher by a considerable margin and is already be used by the skill-position-poor Wildcats as a slot receiver. If Northwestern isn't moving the ball with Persa they could give Michigan more of a spread 'n' shred look with Coulter or even have both QBs in the same backfield.
If that seems desperate, well… yeah. The remaining RB platoon combined to average 3.3 YPC on 24 carries against Illinois, and while Northwestern did manage 5.3 YPC against Army it was only Colter and Trumpy who were efficient. Schmidt and Green had eight carries for 25 yards.
For its part, Michigan merrily strangled Minnesota last week and has been pretty good so far this year when not giving up the edge on jet sweeps and the like—something I bet one dollar Northwestern implements with Colter. Pay no attention to the mildly alarming YPC average of Gopher backs, which was aided by garbage-time carries and bizarre occurrences.
But that's Minnesota. The last actual football teams Michigan played both moved the ball with some effectiveness. San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman racked up 109 yards on 21 carries, though a big chunk of that was on one epic rock-paper-scissors minus play where SDSU caught a misaligned Michigan in a bad zone blitz. Eastern Michigan—yes, more of an actual football team than Minnesota—exploited Michigan's weak edges in the first half and finished with 4.5 YPC. Notre Dame tore Michigan up.
Which of those games is this matchup more likely to look like? The vote here is Eastern. Northwestern's tailbacks lack the experience and/or athleticism to bust it to the second level unless Michigan gets RPSed and their offensive line has failed to impress. Where Northwestern might have an advantage is in the style of their run game, which is based off a passing spread when Persa is available. Michigan struggled against that versus Notre Dame.
Key Matchup: Third and short versus first down. I figure Michigan will blow a couple plays on the edge and get sliced up on short passes, but it doesn't look like Northwestern has much, if any, big play ability. Their longest run of the year not from Trumpy (out) or Colter (marginalized) is 15 yards, it's Ebert or nothing deep. That means a lot of third and short, which Michigan has been very good on this year. If they can keep that up Northwestern isn't going to score many touchdowns.
Pass Defense vs. Northwestern
Persa health disclaimers apply. Northwestern has little faith in Colter as a passer. This is how their second-to-last against Illinois drive ended:
- (1st and 10) Green, Treyvon rush over left guard for loss of 1 yard to the ILL42 (Brown, Jonathan;Foster, Glenn).
- (2nd and 11) Green, Treyvon rush over right guard for 3 yards to the ILL39 (Buchanan, M.).
- (3rd and 8) Green, Treyvon rush left for no gain to the ILL39 (Mercilus, W.).
- (4th and 8) Colter, Kain rush right for 4 yards to the ILL35 (Mercilus, W.).
That last one was a scramble; they still ran on third and eight with three minutes left in a game they were trailing. If Colter plays extensively Northwestern loses.
Assuming a healthy and effective Persa, Michigan's secondary will be getting their stiffest test of the year not named Michael Floyd. Yes, Ryan Lindley is an NFL draft pick after the season and Alex Carder is doing nasty things to the MAC but Persa completed 73% of his passes last year and finished top ten in passer efficiency. 8.5 YPA and a 15-4 TD-INT ratio, man. He managed this playing with maybe one good receiver behind a line that finished 112th in sacks allowed. He is good at the football. Imagine a grittier, non-insane Tate Forcier who means it when he says "it's hard to flunk out."
But, man, he's got nothing to work with. Despite returning four starters the line is hardly better in pass protection, allowing 2.5 sacks per game while throwing it only 21.5 times. That's horrible. Illinois had four sacks on a day when Northwestern quarterbacks got off 16 passes. That's even more horrible. Their quarterbacks are mobile! Northwestern's offensive line is awful.
At receiver, Jeremy Ebert is a quality option short and long but not a guy who is going to force Michigan to back off press coverage. He will get his; if Michigan prevents him from getting deep they will eventually chase Persa to Northwestern's doom. They have very little past Ebert. Drake Dunsmore returns after making 40 catches a year ago; he is just a guy. The depth is bad to the point where they're playing Colter in the slot, which is an epic position switch starter situation: Colter was the starting quarterback two weeks ago.
Persa is good enough to chop Michigan's secondary up despite this, especially when he breaks contain after his horrible offensive line lets guys through. Again, keep it in front of you and eventually they'll break down.
Key Matchup: The Second Guy Trying To Kill Persa versus Incompetent OL. Persa will get pressure that will flush him from the pocket and he will murder Michigan when this happens. One pass rusher is not enough; Michigan will have to get a second whether its via blitz or being a lot better than Northwestern's horrible offensive line.
HOLY CRAP FIELD GOALS.
In other news, everything else is horrible. Michigan would have given up massive plays in both coverage phases if not for Gopher penalties and Will Hagerup's return was underwhelming. Kickoff returns get slightly past the 20 at all times. I guess punt returns have been pretty good.
Hagerup will probably bounce back—there's a reason he kicked many balls a long way last year. The coverage issues are worrying since they don't seem to be getting any better. If anything they're worse. [spread punt rant]
But Northwestern is kind of average here, too. The punting is turrible. They are averaging 34.5 yards net, which is 101st. This is mostly because the punts don't go anywhere to begin with—their gross is under 38 yards. They do have some impressive return numbers but the top-ten punt return status is based on three opportunities. Kickoffs are more robust and will be a concern.
Michigan might have an… advantage… at… kicker? Brendan Gibbons was 3/3 against Minnesota with two of those coming from actual field goal range. Northwestern's Jeff Budzien is a new starter who's 1/3 on the year.
Key Matchup: Gibbons you put it through the uprights? Ah?
come at me bro
- Only one guy is getting in on Persa.
- The solid safety play turns into a mirage.
- Northwestern's run defense is for real enough to put Denard in uncomfortable down and distances.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Colter is forced into the game at QB.
- Michigan's OL can move the Wildcat DL.
- Denard's accuracy remains at Minnesota levels.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 3 (Baseline 5; –1 for Offensive Line Could Not Block A Countrywide Mortgage, –1 for Lingering Suspicion Persa's Achilles Will Force Him Out Of The Game, +1 for This Is A Road Game, –1 for No It's Not, +1 for Persa Yakety-Saxing Our Secondary, –1 for Denard Now With Arm, +1 for Turnover Implosion Saturday Is Coming Sometime, –1 for AJ Jenkins Has A Cloaking Device And So Does Jeremy Gallon.)
Desperate need to win level: 9 (Baseline 5; +1 for We Can Totally Win Our Crappy Division In Our Crappy Conference, +1 for This Is Not Last Year, +1 for It's Not The Year Before That, Either, +1 for Epic Massive MSU Setup Ho, –1 for Just Northwestern, +1 for Those Who Stayed.)
Loss will cause me to... get my revenge by drinking all of Lake Michigan and exploding all over Evanston. U MAD, thousands of drowned Northwesterners?
Win will cause me to... set the cloning machine to "Cletus," hit the button 5,000 times, and sic them all on East Lansing.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Though Northwestern put up a lot of points on the Illini, they didn't really move the ball (329 yards). TD drives started on the Illinois 32, 36 (twice), and 39 thanks to turnovers and some amazingly bad punting. There was a single impressive 80-yard march and it does mean something that the Wildcats were able to punch in their opportunities, that looks like a game kept close by Illinois mistakes. The week before that Northwestern lost to Army; their other games were a I-AA patsy and a narrow win over BC that doesn't look good now that BC is ACC Minnesota.
So the question is "Can Persa beat Michigan?" If they're a totally different team with him the answer is yes. I tend to think not because they still have to hand the ball off and try to block and cover people, none of which they seem very good at, and while they did shut down Illinois there is another level beyond the Illinois run game. It's named Denard Robinson. I will believe a non-elite defense shuts down the Michigan ground game when I see it.
Northwestern will struggle to move the ball long distances because they won't be able to run on third and short unless they want to expose Persa to danger; they will give up a couple of cheap touchdowns when their safety of woe executes more woe. Big plays will be the difference.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Five sacks for Michigan, one of them for Kovacs.
- Persa does not make it through four quarters.
- Denard completes 65% of his passes for a healthy YPA. He does throw a ver' bad interception.
- Michigan, 33-19.
The difference between this season and 2009-'10: 100 percent more Jug.}
Photo: Eric Upchurch.
[ED: LATE BREAKING is this week's edition of Pick Six.]
Michigan is 5-0 and beat a Big Ten team 58-0. The only thing tempering effusive celebration and Pasadenic predictions right now is Michigan made it to 5-0 last year too. Quick this year v. last year table (EDIT: now FIXED):
|W 30-10 v UConnn||W 34-10 v WMU|
|W 28-24 @Notre Dame||W 35-31 v Notre Dame|
|W 42-37 v UMass||W 31-3 v EMU|
|W 42-35 @Indiana||W 28-7 v SD State|
|W 65-21 v BGSU||W 58-0 v Minnesota|
I realigned '10 a bit to kinda sorta match the level of competition (so like beating up on BGSU = beating up on Minnesota) but last year had two road games. It also had an FCS team put up 37 and Indiana put up 35, while the season on the right side seems to keep getting better as it goes along. "This isn't last year!" was this week's rallying cry in the diaries, where justingoblue is trying to figure out how tough the schedule has been so far, and 909Dewey is taking way too small sample sizes to put 58-0 over Minnesota in the context of Michigan 2005-present.
Blazefire is preparing himself for a "Rationality Juncture," ie the swings that sports fandom brings:
We are fans because we believed that a five foot ninja could stop North Dakota. We are fans because we believed Darius Morris would shoot successfully. We are fans because we believed in 30 seconds.
This one paragraph puts him in the running for Diarist of the Week. Of course he wouldn't have a chance except BlueSeoul is exempt from winning. That does not exempt you from reading his latest masterpiece Game Wraps:
Little Brown Jug Total Gopher Destructo, with pics:
MSU-OSU Total Rival Self-Destructo, with pics:
How we know it's not 2010: Michigan State actually played Ohio State.
While we're on the subject of Mansmash vs. Brotough, see if you can guess which of the following names are 2013 prospects recently profiled by Ace, and which are MST3K space jocks:
|Laquon Treadwell||Fist Rockbone||Brick Hardmeat||Lump Beefbroth|
|Blast Hardcheese||Stump Beefnoss||Taco Charlton||Shaq Wiggins|
|De'Niro Laster||Smash Lampjaw||Wit Slagcheek||Touch Rustrod|
|Slap Bulkhead||Punch Rockgroin||Punch Sideiron||Reif Blastbody|
|Bold Bigflank||Buck Plankchest||Gristle McThornbody||Big McLargehuge|
|Splint Chesthair||Stump Junkman||Blake Fistcrunch||Jake Butt|
|Flint Ironstag||Dirk Hardpeck||Buff Hardpack||Smoke Manmuscle|
|Bolt Vanderhuge||Tom Tyner||Bob Johnson||Beat Punchbeef|
|Thick McRunfast||Rip Steakface||Blast Thickneck||Hack Blowfist|
|Buff Drinklots||Blake Slamrock||Crunch Buttsteak||Roll Fizzlebeef|
|Grunt Slamchest||Rod Bonemeal||Slabs Quadthrust||Jus Gritzer|
Big McLargehuge has camped at Michigan but needs to improve his shape before he earns a Michigan offer. This week's points bonus opportunity goes to whoever can best apply the above names to characters from this year's OSU-MSU debacle. Last week's goes to Gwhizz for his chewbacca costume.
After the jump, more evidence that 2011 =/= 2010, and more diaries.
Substitution notes: Obviously there was Gardner. Hopkins played quite a bit of fullback and got a couple carries. Shaw got a little run today after missing SDSU entirely. Watson appears to have locked down the second TE spot. Unless he shows up against Purdue, Mike Cox has probably seen his career end without even the random 50-yard run against a terrible opponent.
On the line, Barnum missed the game and was replaced by Schofield. When Michigan put in its second team line it read Schofield-Burzynski-Khoury-Omameh-Mealer from left to right. Burzynski is a redshirt freshman walk-on who the official site notes has been liked four times on Facebook.
Formation notes: Fritz has been discussed plenty already, but here's Fritz anyway:
Denard is the left wingback, Smith the right, Toussaint deep. It seemed like they were flipping Denard when they were on the other hash.
The usual other than that with even less under center. When they went to it they usually passed, which is a really weird thing to realize. "Oh, it's the I. They must be passing." /head explodes
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Gallon||9|
|Easy pitch and catch against soft coverage. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M29||2||1||Fritz||3||1||1||Base 4-3||Run||Speed option||Toussaint||-4|
|For a formation that's never been run before Minnesota sure is all over this. They shift two DBs to the TE side of the formation and those guys allow the Gophers to maintain the edge pretty easily here. This looks like a blitz specifically designed to contain a speed option handoff from an old school T formation. Go figure. (Gardner is totally uncovered, FWIW... if this was a called waggle he would be on the edge without a guy within 10 yards of him.) Koger really has no chance to seal the DB outside of him and then there's another guy further outside; Smith(-1) runs right by him to block a safety and when Robinson pitches that guy zips out on Toussaint for a TFL. RPS -2. Playside OL had done a pretty good job of dealing with this, FWIW.|
|RUN+: Huyge(0.5)||RUN-: Smith|
|M25||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB Draw||Robinson||13|
|Safety walks down for an extra guy. It matters not. The key here is Robinson's patience. Live I was watching Gallon(+1), who plants that safety in the box, and then is looking at Robinson thinking “why don't you run?” This delay gets the Gopher OL way upfield and causes the LBs to start pass-dropping just as Denard takes off. Schofield(+1) kicks a DT out to provide a lane; Smith gets out of the backfield and uses his agility to redirect himself into the MLB. Robinson(+1) reads his lanes and jukes past one guy Koger(+0.5) kind of blocked, hitting the secondary.|
|RUN+: Gallon, Robinson, Smith, Koger(+0.5), Schofield||RUN-:|
|M38||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Zone read iso||Toussaint||35|
|Hopkins the second TB. This is basically an old-school iso from a shotgun formation with the zone read fake holding a guy outside, which means it plays out like an inside zone with a lead blocker. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) crush the NT to his knees, sealing him. Molk pops out to seal someone on the second level, but there's no one to block. Omameh(+1) kicks out the other NT. Hopkins(+2) shoots down into the hole and thumps the MLB out of it, getting another LB caught up in the carnage. Toussaint(+1) hits the hole hard, bursting into the secondary and running through an attempted ankle tackle; he is one step from a touchdown but the tackle attempt made him break stride and that gives the last Gopher defender the foot he needs to drag him down from behind. Picture-paged.|
|RUN+: Molk, Schofield, Toussaint, Omameh, Hopkins(2)||RUN-:|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||6|
|Toussaint motions out to WR. I think Denard should pull this since the end on that side is getting blocked and Gallon can come down to crack the safety; test the edge here. As it is Schofield(+1) sees his man dive playside and pushes him past the play; Lewan(-1) does not seal the DE and loses him to the interior. Smith has a big hole but it's one filled by an unblocked LB. Smith(+1) cuts past him near the LOS and while the guy does grab him he's getting dragged forward. Molk(+1) maintains a second level block a long time, which gives Smith an extra couple yards when he steps through the first LB's tackle.|
|RUN+: Smith, Molk, Schofield||RUN-: Lewan|
|O21||2||4||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||QB iso||Robinson||18|
|Minnesota shifts late and I imagine Molk(-1) must have busted this because he's got a guy shaded over him and just runs past, leaving Omameh(+1) a super tough job as he tries to do anything with a guy flying upfield a yard inside of him. He manages to shove the dude, who ends up falling. This forces Denard playside, where Schofield(-1) got beat by another shifted DL. Smith(+2) manages to squeeze through the hole, which gets a bump on the guy to prevent him from hitting Denard immediately. Denard(+2) slows up, cuts back upfield of the two guys on the left side of the line, and then pops back outside as Smith earns his second plus by plugging the nearest linebacker. Denard breaks contain and is into the secondary, where he jukes a safety(+1) before getting tripped near the goal line.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Smith(2), Robinson(3)||RUN-: Schofield, Molk|
|O3||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||3|
|Lewan(+2 blows up the playside DE, who moves inside, as does the LB, giving up the corner. Smith(+1) reads it and takes the easy TD.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 11 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Pass||PA RB Go||Hopkins||28|
|Zone read PA off the iso action sees Hopkins fly at the defense like he did on the 35-yard Toussaint run… only to run right by them. With no deep help Robinson can loft a soft touch pass over the defense right into Hopkins, who makes the catch. Excellent playcall that fits with the earlier one and excellent execution. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2). Picture-paged.|
|O47||1||10||Fritz||3||1||1||4-3 under||Run||Counter pitch||Toussaint||15|
|Another interlocking play as the speed option action is met with Toussaint heading the opposite way and the quick pitch. Minnesota suckered. Five different players go with the fake and the only guy anywhere near it is a DT dropping out. Roundtree(-1) whiffs his downfield block, allowing the CB to set up about eight yards deep; Toussaint jukes him and is about to jet past when that guy grabs his jersey and ropes him to the ground. Juke still picked up eight or so. RPS +2. Got a little picture-page attention itself.|
|RUN+: Toussaint||RUN-: Roundtree|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Deep Hitch||Hemingway||16|
|PA dive fake with Schofield pulling backside to block EMLOS. Line gives Robinson forever; he pumps once and then hits Hemingway on a deep hitch about 15 yards downfield. Good throw, a tiny bit behind him—high but don't mind that since it's Hemingway. Do think Denard is late here; better Ds might make a play on this ball as they read the routes. (CA, 3, protection 3/3) Also on replay it looks like Robinson missed an easy touchdown to Roundtree.|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Sprint counter||Shaw||8|
|Not a draw; Lewan(!) pulls all the way from left tackle to the backside of the play. Huyge is expecting to kick the DE out only to see him dive inside, which cuts off Lewan at the same time it opens the corner up wide. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the nose, sealed him, and created a linebacker wall that they didn't need because of the counter action but it's nice to have anyway. Gallon(+1) blows up a safety coming down on the edge, and Shaw is open on the corner. Blue Seoul knocked him for not reading the crackback and then dancing further on the outside. I bet this is why the coaches are going with Toussaint and Smith, but I won't minus. RPS +1. BWS picture-paged.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Gallon, Schofield||RUN-:|
|O8||2||2||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 4-4||Run||Power off tackle||Shaw||-1|
|Insert liberation society rant. Enjoy continued Bornsteining of I-form power. Etc. Playside LB spills this; getting inside of Watson(-2) blows the play up as one Minnesota defender takes out three blockers. Shaw dances in the backfield a bit but it's understandable since he's got nowhere to go; he's tackled by a cast of thousands in the backfield. RUN-: Watson(2), Shaw, Koger|
|O9||3||3||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB power||Robinson||9|
|Robinson checks to this, a power at the gap in the Minnesota line. Minnesota overloads the outside to the playside and slants the other way, making three DL irrelevant. Smith(+1) kicks out the interior LB playside; the outside guy starts peeling back. Huyge(+0.5) gets an easy downfield block on a free release; Schofield(+0.5) almost but does not quite whiff on the other LB, eventually getting enough of a push to get Denard through the line. Peeling LB peels; Denard runs through his tackle. Since the three WRs to that side are DOMINATING the DBs Denard can walk in.|
|RUN+: Dileo, Hemingway, Roundtree, Huyge(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Smith, Denard||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M15||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||11|
|Not tunnel screen; farther outside. Gophers bite hard on the play action, with literally nine guys in the box going after the handoff fake. Gallon wide open, pitch and catch, playside corner does a great job to fend off Lewan so this doesn't turn into a touchdown. Gallon still picks up the first easily. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Gallon||9|
|CB way, way off, easy pitch and catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M35||2||1||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||10|
|Molk and Omameh(+1 each) club the NT out of the hole; he slides outside so Molk pops off onto the MLB, or at least he would if the MLB wasn't flowing into a backside hole no one is in. Minnesota is not good. Schofield does well enough with the other DT that the clubbing provides a crease; LB over the slot receiver comes down too fast for Hemingway to block him without drawing a flag—why not have Dileo, lined up inside, plug this guy? Anyway, Smith hits it up fast and almost runs through the tackle attempt but not quite.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Schofield, Smith||RUN-:|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
|Denard checks, flipping Toussaint to the other side; Minnesota checks in response. Michigan is trying to run power to the wide side of the field; Minnesota slants their line away from it and flows LBs over the top. Schofield is pulling; he gets bumped a bit by the dude slanting under Omameh(-1). Koger(+1) blows up the playside DE and Toussaint(+0.5) kicks out the EMLOS; Schofield does get to the hole to block the LB filling it but because of the delay he's closer to the LOS than you'd like. LB sets up to the inside and manages to make a diving ankle tackle before Robinson can burst into the secondary.|
|RUN+: Koger, Toussaint(+0.5)||RUN-: Omameh|
|Speed option action sees Denard pull up and throw it back to Gardner for a double pass; Lewan(-1) is late getting out there and a corner's flowing up to pressure Gardner; he avoids the guy and takes off. (PR, N/A, 0/1, Lewan) Roundtree was bursting past the one guy in deep coverage and got blatantly held. Refs -1.|
|50||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||12|
|Easy candy throws as Minnesota sends the world's saddest six-man rush. It gets nowhere near Denard; corner is nowhere near the little hitch that easily picks up the first down. Minnesota is not good. (CA, 3, protection 3/3) Hemingway's inexplicable YAC knack gets a half-dozen more.|
|Speed option action with no handoff and a rollout into an intended throw. Minnesota is throwing some sort of blitz at this; backside DT twists outside, then starts running after the fake; backside DE drops off into a short zone. Gardner sees he has the corner and just takes off. (SCR, N/A, NA)|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Hitch||Hemingway||6|
|QB iso action sees Dileo get wide open but Denard is looking further outside since DBs are again playing in the parking lot. Simple hitch to Hemingway goes for five yards plus YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O17||2||4||Ace trips bunch||1||1||3||4-3 over||Pass||RB pass||Dileo||17|
|This is Michigan's pitch formation—at least it was the only time they've done it thus far this year—and they run the pitch. Smith does a great job of selling the run long enough for Minnesota to suck up; Dileo runs right by everyone and is wide open. Smith hits him for six. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS+3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 14 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M31||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||24|
|Minnesota dives under the backside tackle again with their DE, which forces Huyge(+1) to kick that guy out instead of getting downfield as Lewan(-1) blocks no one. Normally this would mean there's no hole but Molk(+3) singlehandedly escorts the NT outside the frickin' tackle box, so there's a gap. There are no linebackers in the gap because they sucked way playside—again there is a very lonely Michigan OL having a tea party for one on the second level. Toussaint hits the gap and runs a long way. Toussaint(+2) jukes a safety along with his nice cut and picks up some bonus yards. RPS +2|
|RUN+: Huyge, Molk(3), Toussaint(2)||RUN-: Lewan|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||8|
|THIS IS SO EASY GUYS (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O37||2||2||Shotgun 2back twins||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Triple option dive||Hopkins||2 (Pen +5)|
|Triple option yo, though this could just be a dive with some option action to it that is not a read. Minnesota has loaded the backside. With a guy coming right at Denard he hands it on the dive, but he should pitch. Schofield(+1) escorts the backside DT well down the line; Lewan releases and has three guys to block. He chooses the outside guy. That seems to be a poor choice for the dive but if the option goes outside that might be preferable. One of the two unblocked guys comes up to hit Hopkins near the LOS; he does get the first. No RPS-1 since it got the short yardage it required. Minnesota jumped offsides anyway. Picture-paged by BWS.|
|RUN+: Schofield||RUN-: Robinson|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||4|
|Off the left side, going outside of Lewan and Koger as they block down. Koger(+1) clears the corner. Omameh and Hopkins are your lead guys; Hopkins(-1) is bounced off of and falls to the ground and Omameh(-0.5) does get a block but gets stood up by the Gopher MLB. Toussaint doesn't have a crease; he runs up backs.|
|RUN+: Koger||RUN-: Hopkins, Omameh(0.5)|
|O28||2||6||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 under||Pass||Throwback screen||Smith||28|
|Waggle gets Denard the corner as Hopkins gets a good block on the edge contain guy, putting him on his knees. Not relevant to the play but good job. If this was an actual waggle Denard would have plenty of time and room to make something happen, but it's a throwback screen. Minnesota blitzed and is dead, with eight players at or near the LOS focused on the waggle. One of them manages to peel off and pursue; Huyge(+1) chops him to the ground. Molk and Omameh have to run 20 yards downfield to find anyone to block; Omameh(+1) chops the FS and Molk watches as Gallon(+1) buries the corner. Smith runs straight upfield for six. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3.)|
|RUN+: Omameh, Gallon, Huyge||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-0, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||37 (Pen -10)|
|Molk(-1) releases immediately instead of executing a combo on the NT. He does give a token shove but he needs more there. That NT gets into Omameh(-2) to the playside. Omameh holds him. This gives Toussaint a gap that he hits like whoah, accelerating away from an unblocked linebacker and zipping into the endzone. Excellent work by Schofield to open the gap up; Toussaint might have gone right by the DT if Omameh does not hold.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Schofield||RUN-: Molk, Omameh(3)|
|O47||1||20||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Pass||PA Deep Out||Hemingway||Inc (Pen +15)|
|PA with a pulling G to provide some pass blocking help on the edge. Omameh(-1) gets out there but instead of blocking the edge guy he sets up to take on the backside DE, who was unblocked and is pursuing the RB. As a result he blocks neither guy. Both start rushing at Denard, who chucks it off his back foot in the general direction of Hemingway. The ball is way uncatchable but the Minnesota DB still picks up a horsecrap PI call. Refs +2. (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Omameh)|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||18|
|Virtually identical to the first play on this drive with a major exception: Molk(+1) gets a good shoulder into the NT and Omameh(+2) uses that extra help to get around him and seal him out of the play. MLB sucks himself out of position on the zone read fake, allowing Huyge to block him easily, and Molk gets downfield to push a linebacker to the outside. Shaw busts upfield, angling away from a safety until another defender comes in and forces him back into the tackle.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh(2), Shaw, Schofield||RUN-:|
|O14||1||10||I-form Big||2||2||1||4-3 under||Run||Down G||Shaw||5|
|Not actually G; Lewan pulls around the two TEs. Molk also pulls from the inside. Watson(+1) and Koger(+1) seal their playside guys away. Molk(+1) does the same with the LB flowing from the inside. Lewan's guy has to maintain leverage so he is essentially running himself out of the play. Omameh can't get his LB on the backside but he's always the toughest to block. Hopkins(-1) gets a weak-ish shove on another LB flowing and that guy plus the backside guy combine to tackle.|
|RUN+: Watson, Koger, Molk||RUN-: Hopkins|
|O9||2||5||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Waggle TE flat||Koger||0|
|Minnesota shooting a guy right into the waggle; Robinson has to throw immediately to his guy in the flat; Minnesota has a zone defender there to tackle immediately. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O9||3||5||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Speed option||Robinson||2|
BOO REF BOO. Molk owns the NT, getting his hand in the middle of his chest and literally throwing him to the ground. This gets a holding call. Boo! Princes Bride dream style boo! Watson(-1) and Huyge(-1) do a very weak job on the playside DE, who just kind of flows down the line without being harassed. Pitch guy is taken. Robinson has a cutback lane thanks to the Molk hold-type-substance but misses it and just runs up the backs of his blockers for not much yardage.
RUN-: Robinson, Watson, Huyge, Molk (boo!)
|Drive Notes: FG(25), 31-0, 5 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Zone read iso||Toussaint||8|
|Minnesota now scraping this as the DE is hauling after Toussaint. Hopkins(-0.5) runs right through the back of Schofield's block, stumbling. He keeps his feet and does get out to a linebacker but the delay probably allows the LB to get outside instead of being sealed inside. Roundtree(-1) just whiffs on a safety. Meanwhile, I think Robinson tries to pull this, which Toussaint is all like “no” about; he is momentarily off balance. Good work by the interior OL gives him a crease and he bounces outside the charging safety near the LOS, turning it up into a corner for a good chunk.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Schofield, Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5)||RUN-: Roundtree, Hopkins(0.5)|
|O48||2||2||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Triple option dive||Hopkins||6|
|Lewan(+1.5) and Schofield(+0.5), but mostly Lewan, donkey the DE to the backside, blowing him downfield. Molk(+1) seals the playside DE; Koger(+0.5) kicks out the LB. Big hole that Hopkins heads straight into, getting tackled by a linebacker after a bit.|
|RUN+: Lewan(1.5), Schofield(0.5), Koger(0.5), Molk||RUN-:|
|O42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Pass||PA rollout something||Koger?||Inc|
|This time it's Schofield(-1) who's trying to pull to provide pass protection and he, too, slows up to maybe block the playside DE instead of hauling after the edge LB and ends up blocking no one. Robinson has to stop his roll, allowing the DE to get into him. He chucks it off his back foot, apparently to Koger, but misses badly. I'm torn between PR and IN. Let's be mean! (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Schofield)|
|O42||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Sprint counter||Smith||8|
|Um... what? I don't think I've ever seen this before: Huyge makes the now-standard pull to the frontside of the play... and so does Lewan. So you've got two OTs crossing as they pull. Very weird. My assumption is that Lewan(-2) busted the playcall. If this was a crazy key-breaking call it would be a G pulling to simulate the pass blocking. So Lewan leaves this guy unblocked and the natural reaction of this DE is to get straight upfield to contain a zone read even though it's not even close to the play call. This gives Smith a window. He cuts up past the guy, then cuts behind Koger(-1), who totally lost his battle with the backside DE. Schofield(+1) got a good one on one kickout on one DT; Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) execute a good combo block to seal the other guy away and deal with a linebacker. Yes, this time Molk actually has someone to block. Smith(+2) cuts back outside, accelerating through the hole before getting chopped down by the safety near the sticks.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Omameh, Smith(2)||RUN-: Koger, Lewan(2)|
|O34||3||2||Goal line||2||3||0||4-3 under||Run||Iso||Toussaint||3|
|Watson motions to an H-back spot, which tips the MLB that this is an iso right over him. He attacks at the snap; Watson(+1) does a good job to kick him out. Lewan(+2) annihilates the playside DE, pancaking him. NT slants himself out of the play. Schofield(+1) and Hopkins(+1) get excellent second level blocks; Toussaint is about to jet for an easy TD when a blitzer comes around from the outside and chops him down.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Hopkins, Schofield, Watson||RUN-:|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Drag||Dileo||6|
|Robinson wants a fly route; covered, he checks down. He's a little late on the check down and his throw is a little low, taking Dileo off his feet and removing the possibility of YAC. (MA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O25||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB Draw||Robinson||7|
|Molk gives one DT a shove to help Schofield(-2) but Schofield doesn't get anywhere near a proper seal despite the help. This puts that DT right in the running lane. Omameh also lost his but he lost his upfield, which is fine. Robinson has to dance between the two. He does so, then dances past a guy Koger did kind of a bad job on. He gets past another guy thanks to a good sustained block from Smith(+1) and picks up the first.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Smith||RUN-: Schofield(2)|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Out||Koger||Inc|
|Not a very good read since this is covered. LB makes a play on the ball but does not get a PBU because the pass is perfectly thrown. He does incidentally trip Koger, making this reception even tougher than it already would be. Great accuracy here but still a bad read—the payoff is not worth the risk. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O18||2||10||Shotgun 2back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Quick out||Dileo||Inc|
|Minnesota sends the house, blitzing 8(!). Michigan's got an open quick out that Robinson takes. His throw is tough but catchable; Dileo bobbles it and brings it in but not before he goes OOB. (CA, 2, protection N/A)|
|O18||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Okie||Pass||TE Seam||Koger||18|
|Seven rushers this time; Michigan has something on for it. Koger jukes the chuck of the LB on him in man and that's all she wrote as Denard hits him with a nice touch pass for six. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-0, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||2|
|Blocked well; backside DL is slanting outside and is gone; Koger(+1) and Huyge(+1) kill playside DE; Koger pops out. Hopkins kicks out playside LB. Schofield finds a block, but it's the ninth guy in the box, a safety, who flows down over the top to tackle Toussaint. Would RPS minus this if the game wasn't long over. Think Toussaint has more yards here if he follows Schofield instead of getting outside and exposing himself.|
|RUN+: Koger, Huyge||RUN-: Toussaint|
|M28||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Screen||Toussaint||-2|
|Smith motions out. Minnesota DL reads this as Molk(-1) just runs by him without selling the pass block, peels off, and tackles. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M26||3||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel under||Pass||Deep out||Hemingway||Inc|
|Another rollout gets multiple linemen blocking no one and exposes Denard to pressure. Smith bumps a blitzer on the rollout side and lets him outside; Denard has to pull up. Unblocked guy from the backside and contain guy converge; Denard throws it off his back foot and sails one in the direction of Hemingway. (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Smith)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 11 min 3rd Q. OUTRAGE|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||5|
|Robinson(-1) misses a read as the DE is tearing after the RB. OTOH, four defenders are hanging out backside in case this is a keep so maybe not. Given the way the play develops I stand by the minus. Omameh(+1) kicks out the playside DT; Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) batter the NT back. A linebacker inexplicably takes off after Robinson and Shaw is about to burst for a ton of yards when the crashing DE grabs him by his jersey. We need some slicker jerseys, man.|
|RUN+: Molk, Schofield, Omameh||RUN-: Robinson|
|O49||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||14|
|NT slants way out of the hole, so there's a big gap. Molk is doubling the other DT with Schofield, though, and there are seven defenders in the box against Michigan's five blockers, so that gap is filled with two defenders. Shaw could hammer it up for a few but decides to bounce. He always decides to bounce. This time it works out as Hemingway(+2) comes down to shove a safety past Shaw and picks off a linebacker as he does so. Corner achievement achieved.|
|RUN+: Shaw, Hemingway(2)||RUN-:|
|O35||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||PA TE flat||Koger||18 + 9 pen|
|I-form is our passing formation. Weird. Play action fake, Koger blocks a guy and releases, finding himself open. Denard tosses it to him; Koger is met by a DB who he stiffarms to the ground as he picks up the first. Who is your daddy. (CA, 3, protection 2/2.) Minnesota picks up a roughing the passer afterwards.|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Sprint counter||Shaw||8|
|More of this and Minnesota still has no idea what's going on. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) double the NT, blowing him a couple yards off the ball; Molk peels off to take an attacking LB. Attacking his way out of the play, sure, but whatever. Huyge(+1) sort of walls off the DE, who's happy to just hug Huyge for support. No effort to get off the block at all. Lewan pulls and that takes a linebacker out with him; Shaw(+1) hits the gap and gets down to the one. RPS+1.|
|RUN+: Shaw, Molk, Omameh, Huyge.||RUN-:|
|O1||2||G||Ace||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||FB dive||Toussaint||1|
|Borges loves this.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 45-0, 8 min 3rd Q. Gardner comes in on the next drive; I'll cover it but we're officially in half-ass mode. Mostly looking for Gardner's performance and offense things, ceasing serious OL grading since we've established they murder this team.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Gallon||Inc|
|Gardner stares it down and throws a soft toss out to the hitch, allowing the Gopher CB to make a play on the ball. Need to gun this in. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M47||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||3|
|Lewan(-2) loses his guy entirely, allowing him and a blitzer to come up the middle of this play unmolested; Shaw(+2) has to bounce this time and does successfully, getting the corner and turning a loss into a small gain.|
|RUN+: Shaw(2)||RUN-: Lewan(2)|
|50||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel under||Pass||Rollout bad idea||Hemingway||14|
|Another rollout that ends up with the QB getting pressure on him thanks to a guy dedicated to getting the edge. Gardner has to pull up and tosses a soft floater across his body that screams INT but somehow finds its way to Hemingway for the first down. Results based charting, but this is asking for it against teams that have players on the field. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||4-3 under||Pass||PA Hitch||Roundtree||Inc|
|Complete at the sticks except not complete because Roundtree drops it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O36||2||10||Shotgun 2TE||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Iso||Toussaint||16|
|Omameh watches his guy slant out of the play; Molk(+1), Hopkins(+1), and Gallon(+1) all get second level blocks; Toussaint(+1) makes a good cut behind the Hopkins block for a big chunk.|
|RUN+: Molk, Hopkins, Gallon, Toussaint||RUN-:|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||4|
|Huyge(-1) doesn't provide the requisite push to get the playisde DT sealed and Omameh(-1) loses control of him; Tousssaint(+1) manages to hop outside that guy's tackle attempt. His bounce takes him upfield into the kicked-out DE, who comes back to tackle. Dileo helped out by getting a safety.|
|RUN+: Dileo, Toussaint||RUN-: Omameh, Huyge|
|O16||2||6||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 over||Pass||Waggle scramble||Gardner||4|
|Insert usual waggle/rollout rant here; there is a dude in Gardner's face immediately, trying to sack; Gardner goes all crazy legs, scrambling all the way back to the other sideline. He looks like he'll get taken down at the line, then powers through a tackle to pick something up. RPS has ceased but I want to minus this so hard. Picture-paged by BWS.|
|O17||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel under||Pass||Scramble||Gardner||2|
|Minnesota sends a couple blitzers; Michigan does a good job of picking them up. Gardner, perhaps used to being behind the sacktastic walkons of the second team, bugs out when he's got a pocket and some time to find the open guy, scrambling for minimal yardage. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(32), 48-0, 2 min 3rd Q. OL backups start coming in on the next drive. I'm not including those numbers in the run table.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||QB power||Gardner||11|
|Molk out for Khoury, Huyge out for Mealer. Playside LB runs himself way out of the play. Moore(+1) rides the playside DE out; big hole. Schofield gets out in the hole but doesn't actually block the guy; Gardner has room because Mealer(+1) and Watson(+1) sealed LBs.|
|RUN+: Moore, Watson, Huyge||RUN-:|
|M31||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Sprint counter||Rawls||25|
|Minnesota line basically seals themselves but Mealer(+1) does get a good block on the DE diving inside and this allows Lewan to pull around outside. Roundtree(+1) blows up a safety coming down and Lewan(+1) manages to peel back, shoving the last LB with a shot at Rawls upfield. Rawls(+1) is into the secondary, where he runs through a weak ankle tackle attempt and keeps his balance for a nice chunk.|
|Minnesota slants, which screws up intended lanes here; Hopkins(-1) does not read the play and take a blitzer off the corner. Rawls has to burrow behind him and because of the lack of space ends up tripping over Lewan's feet as the Gophers converge. Usual rant about I-form running.|
|O38||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Gallon||12|
|Easy pitch and catch that may be a little late but is accurate; Gallon can turn upfield because the Gopher DB is very bad. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Inside zone||Rawls||5|
|H-back headed backside. No cutback as Khoury(-1) gets blown back; Rawls does step around the block and get to the LB level; Omameh got a good block on the second level. I'm done with OL +/- at this point, I think, as walk-ons are in.|
|O21||2||5||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Power off tackle||Rawls||7|
|Moore(+1) kicks playside DE down the line; Rawls(+1) does a good job of setting up his lead block from the pulling G, who is a walk-on with a complicated last name.|
|O14||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Zone read dive||Rawls||0|
|Minnesota scraping the backside DE down the line and having a LB come over the top; no one blocks him as Moore-2) takes an outside contain guy and no gain.|
|O14||2||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||0|
|Omameh(-1) and Khoury, but mostly Omameh, get beaten by the Gopher NT, who ends up in the hole outside that Smith wants after the scrape. This is bad; Omameh is playside of the guy on the snap.|
|Mealer(-2) gets Gardner sacked.|
|Drive Notes: FG(38!), 51-0, 9 min 4th Q. Charting ceases.|
SHOULD HAVE SENT A POET
That was fun!
Yes, our quarterback threw it at people!
Except when there was a rollout!
And our linemen often found themselves on the second level wondering if anyone was going to validate their existence!
Except when they went under center!
Which, to be fair, they did about twice!
So… same question that we asked about the D applies here: anything of meaning to be found?
Yes, probably moreso than the defense because certain things on offense are defense-independent, or at least sort of defense independent. The best way to show this is with a—
—chart. One you don't even cower in fear at.
[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation.]
|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%|
Happy pony forever!
Now the caveats: Minnesota, for one. For two, virtually all of that was short stuff, with the Hopkins go route and another pass to Hemingway the only moderately long passes thrown. It is progress. It may not be meaningful against teams with a secondary.
Now the anti-caveats: The MA was a not-too-difficult completion that gained six and could have been a shaky CA, and I don't really blame Denard for any of those INs.
Who do you blame?
Not to tempt the wrath of Gordon Borges, but Borges. (Michigan was +12 RPS, FWIW, so regard this as the nit it is, Mr. Borges sir.) Rollouts are killing me, man. Maize Pages has been charting the Denard throws in some detail and reports back on the rollout situation from the last game:
There are so few incomplete passes that it's easy laying all 5 of them (4 + 1 PI call) out again:
- 1+20 | shot | PA, rolls left, sets feet, pumps, bad feet, P3, throws up jump ball, PI called (incomplete)
- 1+10 | shot | PA, rolls right, moving feet, P2, overthrows Hemingway (incomplete)
- 1+10 | shot | takes 1 step back, sets feet, P0, throws to a tightly covered Koger out route (incomplete)
- 2+10 | shot | rolls right, doesn't set feet, P1, throws to Dileo who bobbles could have been caught (incomplete)
- 3+10 | shot | rolls right, sets feet, P2, overthrows Hemingway (incomplete)
Notice a trend? 4 of his 5 incomplete passes were on roll-outs. On my count, Denard rolled 6 times all game, giving us a completion rate of 2/6 out of the pocket. While it's become clear that Denard is more comfortable from the gun, rolling the pocket seems to be the bad within the good, unnecessarily complicating his footwork and taking him out of his comfort zone.
Borges referenced some of these incompletions in his presser and blamed footwork and protection, both of which are right. Denard's footwork was poor as he pulled up to throw off his back foot; on two of those the pulling G who's supposed to provide Denard some protection pulled up when two guys burst upfield and he couldn't decide who to block. If the guards shoot into the outside guy without hesitation…
Well, they probably still end up letting him onto the edge because he is coming hard, and then Denard has to deal with the guy on the inside, and you still have issues. You have fewer issues than you did in the last game but it's still not an ideal situation.
I'd rather keep Denard in the pocket, where people rush him gingerly, if at all, and have him zip it into receivers without having to set his feet. That's right: Denard is a pocket guy.
Meanwhile, BWS picture-paged Gardner's crazylegs scramble that started when he turned around on a waggle only to find a Gopher in his face:
The moral of the story is that when you put a Michigan quarterback on the edge you are exposing him to rushers that are unblocked or almost unblocked because the first priority of any opposing defense is to prevent #16 (or #7) from getting the edge. The only time a quarterback could get the edge was when the defense was freaking out about the other quarterback getting the other edge.
Okay, there was also this time:
When they didn't need it, Robinson had the corner wiiiide open.
And the waggle… guh, man, guh. That is the Atari 2600 version of the spread 'n' shred. You are turning your back to the defense and hoping that when you turn around you don't find an angry 250 pound man in your face. Since This Is Michigan (2011 edition) that always happens because power gains two yards and the quarterback leaves neutrinos in the dust. Priorities one through five for the defense are containing the QB.
This is why all that throwback stuff is working so brilliantly. How can we keep that—which everybody likes—and ditch the incompletions? I don't know, but apparently doing max-protect rollouts fools everyone all the time even without an actual threat of gaining yards on the frontside so lets keep doing that.
ANYWAY, you crab.
I'm not a crab. Let me prove this with more charts.
Hey, look: numbers. At this point in the season we can say that the top two receivers seem to be Hemingway and Gallon, with Roundtree evaporating but still third and Dileo seemingly fourth. Odoms and Grady appear to be down the depth chart as seniors, which is surprising. Odoms does have the hand injury.
Offensive line, keeping in mind that only 35-ish carries were charted after around 50 last week.
|Lewan||5.5||6||-0.5||Yeah, surprised me too: had a couple busts and one bad whiff.|
|Molk||14.5||4||10.5||Was always going to happen. Did miss some first level blocks, I thought.|
|Omameh||10.5||4.5||6||Stayed in late.|
|Huyge||5||2||3||Did not have a big role.|
|Schofield||12||4||8||Basically a sixth starter.|
|Mealer||-||-||-||Did pick up minuses but after I said no mas.|
|Koger||5||2||3||Better than last week.|
|TOTAL||54.5||25.5||29||+/- ratio holds steady at 2:1|
|Robinson||7||3||4||Missed a couple reads, still got a lot of positives in six carries.|
|Gardner||2||-||2||Not Denard but effective.|
|Toussaint||10.5||1||9.5||Made many miss.|
|Shaw||5||1||4||bounce bounce bounce bounce|
|Smith||10||1||9||Good bit of this blocking.|
|Rawls||-||-||-||DNP before charting seriously ceased.|
|TOTAL||38.5||8.5||30||Excellent day by all runners.|
|TOTAL||10||2||8||record setting. srsly.|
|Protection||27||4||87%||Lewan 1, Omameh 1, Schofield 1, Smith 1|
|RPS||15||3||12||Borges hates lakes/Prince/etc.|
The offensive line did about as well as it did last week, which may qualify as something of a disappointment or may just reflect how hard it is to get five to seven guys all doing the right thing on every play. The backs and receivers had excellent outings—that's how you get to 7.9 YPC from the 7.3 posted against SDSU.
So this Omameh business?
I can't help but wonder if he is struggling for reasons other than awkward change to a new system. When Michigan threw the second team OL out there they left him on the field. Michigan doesn't have much depth on the OL but they've got someone who can go out there leading Minnesota by 50 in the fourth. The other guard was a walk-on.
The lack of depth on the line is an argument to get Omameh out in my mind, since you really don't want one of your 7-ish plausible OL going down in garbage time. Leaving him on the field makes me think they're not happy with his play and are trying to get him more reps because they don't have other options.
And the shotgun/center run dichotomy?
There's nothing to talk about this week, as the only under center runs I have charted are two short yardage plays (a one yard Fitz TD and a three-yard Fitz iso on third and two) and a single second and two power from the eight that lost a yard. I think there were one or two more after charting stopped that also did poorly.
So we can't do it. Fine. Borges is adapting, which is great, and seems to be getting his MANBALL from other sources, like shotgun isos at spread out teams and a hell of a lot of sprint counter.
Yessssss. It's not quite TGDCD but it is ver' nice, especially when Molk gets his Lewan on. Minnesota was clueless the whole day and since it looks virtually identical to the QB going off tackle it is going to kill guys. They might have to break a key or two to keep it working later in the year since that tackle pull is a dead giveaway, but you know me, I love those interlocking plays.
You are still a crab.
So here's this, bolded alter-ego: I am going to go all sports talk radio on you, in gushing fashion. Maybe it was the proximity of this game to the flaming garbage dump that was MSU-OSU, but these players look exceedingly well coached. There were a couple plays where having that extra beat of patience paid off. One was the first third down of the game:
That extra beat he waits gets Minnesota's linebackers to drop into coverage and gets him the room he needs for the conversion. He moved so late that Gallon (who had a day blocking people, yo) has already buried the rolled-up safety by the time he reveals his intent.
And then there was Vincent Smith thespian school:
You know how you're watching a football game and it's just bleeding obvious that the RB/WR is going to throw? You ever get that feeling? I do all the time. I was shocked when Smith pulled up to throw, and so was Minnesota. I bet 95% of teams would have gotten suckered there.
Weekly tailback opinion?
I'm still in Toussaint's corner but the current breakdown between Smith and Fitz will find no complaints here. I think he's got better burst than Smith:
Smith brings a bunch of other things to the table and deserves about half the carries; I think Toussaint will end up the leading non-Denard rusher.
Pretty much everyone. Special commendation to the tailbacks and Borges.
Lewan did not perform up to his usual standard on the ground.
What does it mean for Northwestern and beyond?
The primary takeaway is that when in the correct situations Denard can be an effective passer. While his limitations are obvious by now, having him throw in better situations and giving him quick rhythm passes results in a 73% DSR. Borges is right that they have to open it up deep. There's a pretty good way to do that without jump-balling it: oh noes.
I hope what we saw against Minnesota is a precursor and Borges is going to continue installing and using innovative packages based on Denard's legs. There is a little bit of lingering fear that this was just a dog and pony show that they'll put away the rest of the year now that they've gotten everyone to prepare for it, a strategy that seems far worse than using those plays against a plausible opponent, but Borges says that's not the case and he seems pretty rad so far so I believe him.
The I-Form seems dead. They're not even bringing it out in garbage time against Minnesota to practice it against real opponents and they're using a two-back TE look from the shotgun that seems like a direct attempt to replace it. I'm okay with that since the shotgun still gives you that advantage by forcing the D to account for Denard's legs.
Other item: Shaw just confirmed the Smith/Toussaint 1-2 punch in the backfield.
A few things: 1) I’m not going to change the X’s until Michigan loses. 2) Opponent Watch is moving to Tuesday next week. This is more for me than it is for you. 3) I’ve added a section devoted to tracking past opponents. 4) Michigan is not going to lose.
Fear scale: 0 = Bye week?; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team somebody’s going to get fired; 5 = 2010 Illinois; 8 = Best in conference/will play in a BCS bowl; 9 = National title contender; 10 = Hold me,
About Last Saturday:
Minnesota 0, Michigan 58
The Road Ahead:
Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 B1G)
Last game: Northwestern 35, No. 24 Illinois 38 (L)
Recap: Northwestern QB Dan Persa (10/14, 4 TDs) finally returned to action last Saturday against Illinois. It’s hard to tell whether he was suffering lingering effects of his Achilles tendon injury leading up to the game, but Persa had five real carries -- mostly on zone-read keepers -- before he exited the game in the fourth quarter with pain in said Achilles tendon.
Despite having Persa’s arm back for the first time since Iowa last year, Northwestern insisted on sticking with the run. For two and half quarters this strategy was surprisingly effective. Persa’s four TD passes to bring the Wildcats ahead 28-10 were set up by a ground game that churned out nearly 5 ypc for two and a half quarters, which, if you’re not a spoiled Michigan fan, is really quite good. RB Mike Trumpy was the centerpiece of the ground game, gaining 63 yards on 12 carries, which, again, if you’re not a spoiled Michigan fan, is quite good. Unfortunately, he also had to leave the game with a leg injury, and reports are saying he’s lost for the season.
For about 40 minutes, Northwestern’s offense sparkled and shined. Then both Persa and Trumpy got knocked out of the game. By that point they were up by three scores in the third quarter, so it was hard to see how they might blow it.
Their secondary answered the challenge. The Wildcats left Illini receivers open all day and had no answer for WR A.J. Jenkins, who took advantage of some hapless defensive backs to haul in two long touchdowns, bringing his team to within a score. Jenkins’ 28-yard reception during the final minute also helped set up the winning Illinois touchdown.
Here’s Ace’s take for more detail.
Right now they are as frightening as: With a gimpy starting quarterback, an injured starting running back, and a defense that sometimes chooses not to cover people, they strike me as Purdue 2.0. Fear level = 4.
Michigan should worry about: Mental errors on the road. Also, Persa’s arm. There’s a good chance at least one of these things will happen, but both will have to happen simultaneously for a significant amount of time for Northwestern to pull out the win.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: There were a lot of questions during the press conferences about how Michigan will deal with Persa’s dual-threat capabilities, but in reality the threat of him running is far scarier to the his Achilles tendon than for an opposing defense.
When Michigan plays them: If Northwestern wants to be stubborn with their play calling, they will again try to establish the run with a lot of of zone reads. Michigan will be able to cheat and key in on the running backs because it would be stupid for Persa to run more than a handful of times. This will last about a quarter before the Wildcats realize that maybe getting 3 ypc isn’t a winning strategy, at which point they’ll likely air it out against a Wolverines secondary, which, thankfully, finally knows how to cover receivers. The Michigan defense will probably make some mistakes -- they’ll give up a couple bombs or a long run here and there -- and the running backs will have less room to wiggle than in previous weeks, but it’s hard to see this game being more worrisome than a Western Michigan/San Diego State redux, albeit against some bigger dudes and on the road-ish.
Next game: No. 12 Michigan
(more after the jump)