About Last Week:
Life comes at you fast.
The Road Ahead:
Penn State (2-1, 0-0 B1G)
Last week: Beat Temple, 34-27
Recap: Everyone joked all off-season about Penn State getting a shot at a revenge game against Temple. Based on their reaction to beating a mediocre Temple team by a touchdown, Penn Staters didn’t seem to understand that we were doing so in a mocking sense. Then again, this shouldn’t be terribly surprising. After all, self-awareness has never been their strong suit.
Flowers, signs and balloons outside the stadium by where the Paterno statue was. pic.twitter.com/tMNYihUUSC
— Eric Adelson (@eric_adelson) September 17, 2016
This tidbit didn't make it into my Paterno column. Someone thought quoting MLK would a good idea on this billboard? pic.twitter.com/CahyEqlNkG
— Juliet Macur (@JulietMacur) September 17, 2016
From a football standpoint, Penn State had a mediocre day, largely because of the fact that the entire team exploded. Saquon Barkley missed much of the game with an ankle injury. Nyeem Wartman-White busted up his knee early, and will miss the rest of the season. This is on top of the fact that Jason Cabinba and Brandon Bell both missed the game with injuries, and their status going forward is unknown. The offensive line remains healthy, but continue to be not good (they were held to 3.1 yards per carry, though they did not surrender a sack).
This team is as frightening as: A team that has incurred the wrath of an angry Olmec deity by holding a ceremony to honor that deity’s nemesis, and the angry deity for some reason doesn’t buy the argument that “we weren’t honoring Xtapolapocetl, we were honoring all of the people who PLAYED for Xtapolapocetl.” Fear Level = 4
Michigan should worry about: Getting too close to Penn State whilst said Olmec deity is exacting his revenge.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Penn State is 9 of 33 on third down, which is 117th in the country. Michigan’s defense has allowed conversions on 4 of 38 third downs, best in the country.
When they play Michigan: Burn it all.
This week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., ABC (Michigan -19(!))
[AFTER THE JUMP: Several movie references that date me]
“How’s everything goin’?”
Good. How about yourself?
You look kinda tired.
“Eh, a lot of early mornings.”
Talk about some of the issues that you guys had the last week with the plays in the passing game.
“We gave up two big pass plays. I mean, those are issues. Obviously we’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to clean it up. Worked really hard in the run game, obviously, coming off the UCF performance. Maybe too hard. I also attribute, you know, we’re still learning how to play this style of defense.
“The good thing is I think our guys have understood enough concept that we’re able to adjust as the game goes on and play much better in the second, third, and fourth quarter. Really disappointed with a fundamental coverage mistake that we made, and I thought there was a 10-play period during the course of the game where we needed to do a better job of tackling.
“Like I told the kids yesterday, all the mistakes belong to me, so if anybody wants to point the responsibility I don’t want them to have any. It’s right here. That’s the way we handle it, and I just tell them I want you to play as hard and as tough as you can and all your mistakes belong to me.”
The stretch of bad tackling: is that because they’re still learning and just--
“I don’t think so, no. Just think we didn’t do a great job. It was a ten-play segment during the course of the game and there were three missed tackles. You know, we were fortunate because the one that resulted in a 48-yard gain we were able to find a way to get off the field and they missed a field goal on one of those opportunities. Thought we settled down and played really well throughout the second quarter.
“We come out and have the bad play in the third quarter. The disappointing thing there is it’s happened to us coming out of the locker room two games in a row, so we’ve got to pay more attention. And one of our goals is a third-quarter shutout, so that’s a disappointing deal.
“I thought we really settled in. What did we give up, 200 yards in the first quarter and basically 100 yards in the second, third, and fourth. What were they, 0-for-12 on third down against our ones and 1-for-whatever counting fourth down. So there’s some things I’m feeling really good about. The best part of it is we were able to make adjustments moving forward as the game kind of progressed. And we’ve been tested with no-huddle, up tempo.
“I think they were faster than UCF. With all credit to Scott Frost; he’s probably one of the fastest guys in the country. And if you watch our tape, and, you know, you can come up and look at it all you want, we’re lined up ready to go every snap. I think we’ve made significant improvements in terms of our sense of urgency to get line up and get ready to play, we just need to play better during stretches. It’s 41 snaps or 46 in the run game against UCF [and] they have 63 yards.
“Now you come back and you’re looking at your deal here, we give up, what, three pass catches. We give up 100-whatever yards of offense. You must be doing a pretty good job during the course of the rest of the game. We just need to make sure we’re totally clean and as I told ya, understand the concepts. But our mistakes belong to me, not the players.”
[After THE JUMP: Don Brown’s defensive disquisition]
SPONSOR NOTES: Got a couple of requests to re-record the podcast commercial featuring Matt and his kids because it sounds like Matt has dragooned his offspring into this. Well, yeah, that's what offspring are for. Matt is a man who will dragoon for you. That's not something everyone can say, because not everyone knows what that word means. Matt does!
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
IDIOT DIRECTOR NOTES: This goober zoomed in so close to almost everything and provided zero high-angle replays, so I'm doing a lot more guessing about coverages than I usually do. As a result some plays of interest aren't clipped because the interesting bits I remember from the game aren't actually on the screen.
FORMATION NOTES: Okay, I separated front and cover look, and am still not satisfied with the results. "Press" was anything with hard corners on guys on the LOS:
Off was off. This was two high, and also the post TD.
One high version of same:
Still a work in progress.
Michigan and Colorado didn't do anything too weird except for some offset three man lines I'm just piling in as "exotic."
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Again a tight rotation, which makes yet more burned redshirts puzzling. Wormley and Glasgow led the way on the DL with 53 of 71 snaps; Godin, Winovich, and Garry all got around 40. Hurst got 27 and since he played well I'm guessing they're trying to keep his workload light as he continues to recover from whatever held him out of the opener.
Linebacker was as you'd expect, with Starters getting the whole game minus some personnel package items. Gedeon is the guy who stays in when Michigan has just one true LB on the field.
Secondary was also low rotation, with Thomas, Stribling, and Clark playing every snap. Hill got dinged up and missed 16; Kinnel saw 20 snaps, most meaningful; Watson had 18.
WTF burned redshirt of the week goes to Carlo Kemp and his four snaps.
[After THE JUMP: panic calibration.]
Penn State desperately needed changes at offensive coordinator and quarterback after the last few years of horrible offenses, and they've upgraded those spots with former Fordham head coach Joe Moorhead and redshirt sophomore Trace McSorely. Add in star running back Saquon Barkley and the bucket of points scored against Pitt and you'd think this offense has probably undergone a transformation, right?
After watching the Temple game, it certainly doesn't feel that way. PSU's blocking continues to undermine everything they try to do; even a huge play like the bomb to tight end Mike Gesicki embedded at the top of this post involves PSU allowing immediate pressure on a three-man rush.
This offense isn't the same as previous years; at least against Temple, it essentially functioned the same anyway.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
It was difficult to select key backups for this game because PSU simply does not rotate their receivers or tight ends. When Barkley isn't dinged up, they hardly substitute at all. Godwin/Hamilton/Thompkins/Gesicki played every meaningful snap in this one as best I could tell.
As always, the diagram is not gospel: we don't know for sure if Taco Charlton and Jourdan Lewis are going to play, though it seems very likely for the former and looking good so far for the latter. No, Ryan Glasgow still isn't getting first-round NFL draft hype, hence the continued lack of a shield even though he's M's best defensive lineman.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread. Literally every snap came from the gun.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Mostly zone blocking.
Hurry it up or grind it out? PSU doesn't usually huddle but they also don't push the pace at the line, instead taking time to survey the defense and make checks. They're 105th in adjusted pace and don't look capable of tempoing Michigan like UCF and Colorado.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Deron Irving-Bey: very large human [Nasternak/MGoBlog]
The crystal ball may not reflect it just yet, but it seems that Michigan’s interest in Flint Southwestern SDE Deron Irving-Bey has risen of late, and vice versa. David and I took the opportunity to travel to Davison to take in the best game left on Irving-Bey’s schedule; Davison’s long been a local power with good linemen, and they had a right tackle who could provide something of a challenge for Irving-Bey.
Though lining up across from Davison RT Zach Slezak did provide an intriguing, back-and-forth matchup, the game itself was, uh, not as intriguing. Southwestern fell to Davison 42-6, dropping them to 0-4 on the season. Davison was perfectly content to hand the ball to running back Tariq Reid, a 2018 recruit who has exploded this season with 16 TDs in four games and a 200+ yard per game average. He understandably spent most of the game running to the side opposite the defense’s only D-I recruit. Irving-Bey did what he could to get involved in stopping the run; whether this was at the expense of his pass rush is a question for a different game, but he did look good in pursuit. That was good for Irving-Bey as it relates to our scouting, but infrequent enough that it was ultimately inconsequential for Southwestern considering the numerous other paths Davison had to the end zone.
[After THE JUMP: Irving-Bey video and scouting]
This drove us nuts against UCF:
This drove us nuts against Colorado:
This shouldn’t be happening. To understand why we have to go back to the rules of football.
Ends and Backs
Football evolved from a rugby-like game, with forward passing added almost a generation later. The running sport and the passing sport never perfectly coalesced into one—even today there are offenses that treat their quarterback as a primary rusher or primarily a passer. You can also trace the problem of linemen blocking downfield on passing plays back to this awkward marriage of two games. So they had to make rules: You can block here but not there. The rule that matters to us is this guy is an eligible receiver and that guy isn’t.
[After THE JUMP: What’s a legal formation, why teams do this, and a jazzy snazzy video]