I GET IT
We hates them. Thanks to commenter Peterklima, who reminded me of the existence of this fantastic youtube clip. You'll have to wade through some drunk WOOOOO but it's schadenfreude at its most concentrated:
Henne? Lloyd says he's practicing somewhat sorta:
"Chad took some snaps (Tuesday)," Carr said. "I don't know at this point what it looks like for him. I want to watch him again today. We'll just take it day to day and see what happens."
So that's encouraging, but David Jones says this is pure smokescreen:
As for Henne, Carr confirmed Monday what I reported here last week -- the injury is a sprained right knee. It had been obliquely referred to by U-M as a "lower leg injury" until Monday.
Carr also made noises as if Henne could play Saturday. Anything is possible, but I think it's a smokescreen. I've been told the injury was diagnosed as a "grade 2" sprain, which includes partial tearing of ligament tissue and some instability of the joint, with a normal recovery period of at least four weeks.
Though I don't know why Jones -- who covers Penn State -- of all people would have super-secret detailed information on Henne's injury, given Carr's previous reticence to discuss the status of his players I'm with him. This seems like gamesmanship to me.
Hockey on the BTN. Some details in the Star Tribune on the BTN's hockey schedule:
The Big Ten Network's lack of carriage on the three major cable systems in Minnesota could have an impact on Gophers hockey fans. The team's television schedule was released Thursday and, while FSN North will carry 32 regular-season games, five more games will air exclusively on the Big Ten Network.
This includes a Feb. 22 game against Wisconsin at Mariucci Arena. Also included on that list are Nov. 23 at Michigan State; Nov. 24 at Michigan; Jan. 11 against St. Cloud State; and Feb. 8 at Denver. The first two will be carried on a delayed basis.
The Big Ten Network will have a total of 13 men's hockey games.
One assumption we can make: since the Minnesota-MSU game on the 23rd is on tape delay, Michigan's other Showcase game against Wisconsin is also on the BTN. What else would they delay it for?
Etc.: I walked by these guys after the ND game; RBUAS; the Daily reviews every game during the streak; Maize 'n' Blue Matters jumps aboard the "laugh at NDNation" bandwagon (suggestion: white background)
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 5-wide||Nickel||Run||-17||Pratfall the first|
|The snap flies over Armando Allen's head. No doubt this was going to be an ISQD if Notre Dame could get the simplest aspects of football right.|
|Allen motions into the backfield; they fake a sweep to him and then hand it off to Tate on the end-around. Englemon(+1) follows Tate around on the fake and along with Trent(+1) contains this for a reasonable gain on second and forever. A stupid playcall that carries an enormous risk of a safety if Brandon Graham heads upfield instead of following Allen. Weis is the anti-Carr, making the same number of mistakes but they're completely different ones.|
|Batted away by Crable(+1). Allen had already fallen down by tripping over his offensive lineman; Warren was going to crush this even if it was completed. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Note that Brandon Graham is finally claiming his job as the starting DE for this game; Crable is not on the field at the moment. Taylor(+1) holds up well to a double team on this; ND runs the same play that's killed us for two straight weeks but fails to realize that it doesn't work that well when your quarterback isn't much of a runner. Jamison closes quickly to tackle near the LOS.|
|Donovan Warren is sent on a corner blitz that is not picked up. At all. He overruns the play, basically, but manages to knock the ball from Clausen as he passes (+1). A scramble for the ball ensues that Michigan wins. It's Warren, actually, with the recovery.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 3-0, 10 min 1st Q.|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read handoff|
|Odd lineup here: Crable at DE, BGraham at DT. Johnson, the other DT, crashes inside on the snap(-1) as Crable rushes upfield, opening up a big hole for Allen. Thompson(+1) is forced to deal with a completely unfettered OT and actually does a good job standing him up, impeding Allen's progress and allowing Michigan tacklers to converge before this becomes too damaging.|
|O46||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Both DEs fly upfield, unblocked, at the snap... this one is up the middle all the way. Textbook example of DanK's theory about Des in a 4-2 running themselves into uselessness against shotgun run attacks. Fortunately for M, Johnson isn't handled well by the interior Irish line and no one ever gets out on Thompson, who fills, unblocked, for a minimal gain. No pluses here; think this is mostly Irish error. Still nice to see no one screw up.|
|O48||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||6||TE out|
|Pick play with the WR running a slant here against man cover; Jamar Adams is lined well off the ball at the snap and has no chance to recover on this. (Cover -1). Graham ends up blitzing way delayed and futilely; looks like they caught us off guard at the snap and we had not shifted into a position that would make our D call work.|
|M46||1||10||???||???||Run||-14||Pratfall the second|
|Nice job, ESPN, allowing Matt Winer to tell us he's Matt Winer and thus missing this play entirely.|
|O40||2||24||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Give up and punt plays now. Good job by Johnson(+1) to fend off an attempted blocker and Graham(+1) to do likewise, closing after a minimal gain.|
|O42||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||-7||Sack|
|Michigan zone blitzes, dropping off the DT with both middle linebackers, who also threatened blitz. Crable(+1) and Harrison(+1) blitz around the outside; ND tackles are late getting out. This is not a poised sack from Jimmah, who dropped way back and did not step up into a nice pocket the OL had carved for him. (pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 4 min 1st Q. A second drive killed by a bad ND snap.|
|It appears Clausen is locked on Warren's guy but must hesitate. (Warren +1, cover +1) Jamison impressively powers through Sam Young and buries Clausen. My god, the poise! (+2 Jamo, +1 pressure).|
|O20||2||15||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||6||Zone read handoff|
|This is pretty unsound at the snap, Jamison flying upfield and blitzes coming from the other side of the formation. As the ball is handed off this looks like a big gainer. Thompson is basically the only guy who can prevent this from being a gashing run that only a safety can stop... and he does, standing up a blocker, disengaging, and making a tackle with Brandon Harrison's help. +2 Thompson.|
|ND has Michigan dead to rights here. Three blockers are in front of Allen with no defenders around as Michigan got caught blitzing a guy and this screen gets off. It is Thompson again who manages to avoid the wideout, slice through the ND blockers, and chop down Allen before this can go for a long gainer. +1 Thompson; Why didn't any ND guys peel off on him?|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|No offense to Chris Graham(+1), who speared the living hell out of Allen here, forcing a fumble and knocking him out of the game, but it's just not that hard when you're totally unblocked and Jamo funnels him right to you. +1 Johnson, I think, for causing this to go into the unblocked backside. Allen's fumble recovered by Michigan. PS: check out the bitchy little shove from Clausen after the play. What about the poise?|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 10-0, EO 1st Q.|
|ND abandons the shotgun after a quarter of ineffective play. Morgan Trent
lets a 5'8" guy, George West, inside of him for an easy slant. This might be zone coverage, in which case Brandon Harrison is culpable for coming up on a short crossing route that Thompson had covered. (-1 cover... think this is zone; -1 Harrison)
|O42||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Run||1||Off tackle|
|ND pulls a guard around to the left side of the line; Aldridge just runs right. WTF? An unblocked Graham tackles.|
|O43||2||9||Empty set||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||-6||Sack|
|The quadruple sack. This is on Clausen; the only reason four guys meet at the QB is that this is designed to be a really quick pass wherein the interior OL chop the DTs. Michigan covers(+1) the first option, Clausen freezes, and then he is lost. (Pressure +1). BGraham and Crable are the first to him. Uh... +1 BGraham for beating Young.|
|O37||3||15||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Int||Slant|
|Clausen guides Thompson right to the ball with his eyes; Thompson reads, reacts, and picks. (Cover +2, Thompson +2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 17-0, 13 min 2nd Q.|
|We have BGraham lined up at DT here with Crable at DE, Taylor on the bench. Clausen drops, first option covered(cover +1), and then he flushes from the pocket, probably unnecessarily. Jamison(+1) rips at him from behind; BGraham(+1) comes up and finishes him off. Intentional grounding called.|
|O25||2||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-2||Zone read handoff|
|Michigan's blitzing a corner late, so Crable slants inside and just knifes through the attempted block of the OT. (+2) Jabbie crushed in the backfield.|
|O23||3||20||Shotgun Big||3-3-5 Nickel||Penalty||-5||Delay|
|They do run a play here, and the poise of this swing pass is incredible.|
|O18||3||25||Shotgun Big||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||14||Wheel|
|ND fakes the long handoff and both Trent(-1) and Graham(-1) bite on it. It's third and twenty-five, guys. As a result, the wheel route of the slot receiver is wide open. Adams comes up to tackle. (Cover -2)|
|A quintessential Weis thing to do. It works but only because three Michigan players miss tackles.|
|Overthrown. Trent in decent coverage, but there was a window here. (Pressure -1)|
|O45||2||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||-4||Screen|
|Crable does his missile thing on Allen. (+2)|
|Crable-DE-BG-DT setup. Clausen's first read is covered(cover +1) and then the roof falls in. A stunting Crable(+1) comes around the havoc created by a penetrating Johnson(+1) and sacks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-0, 8 min 2nd Q.|
|ND pulls a guard around to Adam Patterson's side of the line, hoping to catch him out. He's adequately blocked. The guard cannot get Graham contained â€“ Graham pushes him back and sets up outside â€“ forcing the play back inside to an unblocked Thompson. +1 Graham. Credit where due: this was a play against a bonafide blocker.|
|Oddly, we move Jamar Adams into the box pre-snap. He covers Carlson; Graham moves out of a zone in the middle of the field as Allen motions out â€“ probably in man on him. By the time he backs out Clausen has an alley to fire a slant against Donovan Warren's guy. (Cover -1).|
|O18||3||1||I-Form Big||4-6 x||Run||0||Iso|
|No push from the ND OL at all. This is Taylor's wheelhouse and he eats it up. (+1) BGraham also with a good job, and Thompson(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-0, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|Coverage(+1) is good, Clausen decides to bail and BGraham(+1) tracks him down. Crable had beaten his man but fallen, causing the rollout.|
|O20||2||16||Ace 3-wide||3-2-6 dime||Pass||4||Swing|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 31-0, EOH. Yes, I only charted this drive for the swing pass.|
|O26||1||10||I-Form||Base 4-3||Pass||1||Long handoff|
|THE GODDAMN MAJESTY OF IT ALL. Warren (+1) reacts to this very quickly.|
|O27||2||9||Ace||Base 4-3||Penalty||-5||False start|
|O22||2||14||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||9||Long handoff|
|SHOULD HAVE SENT... A POET. Uh. Warren blows this pretty good, waving at a passing West. (-1 Warren.)|
|O31||3||5||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||7||TE out|
|Graham in coverage. (Cover -1)|
|O38||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||1||Long handoff|
|Brandon Harrison(+1) attacks this smartly.|
|O39||2||9||I-Form||Base 4-3||Run||4||Off tackle|
|Adams reveals a blitz before the snap. ND hands off anyway. Thompson(-1) puts himself on the wrong side of a blocker â€“
he should know better â€“ and opens up a hole. Jamison, dropped into a zone, tackles after Aldridge picks up a few.
|O43||3||5||Pro Seet||Base 4-3||Pass||-6||Sack|
|Englemon(+1) is unblocked on a blindside blitz. Nice job, #74.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 9 min 3rd Q. Warren has been pretty good in coverage so far, but there has been a huge dropoff in tackling from Hall, who was outstanding.|
|The one real opportunity ND has for a downfield completion all game because Chris Graham(-1) doesn't get anything approximating a pass drop. Overthrown and off the fingertips of Carlson. (Cover -2)|
|O37||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||Off tackle|
|A blitz occupies all of the frontside blockers, forcing Allen back inside. Unblocked Chris Graham reads and tackles.(+1)|
|O39||3||8||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc + 15||Post|
|Incomplete as Clausen chooses to fire it into double coverage. Jamar Adams(+1) with the PBU. (Cover +2, pressure -1) Crable(-2) picks up a roughing penalty.|
|Another one of these sad little plays where the ND OL meekly cut-blocks and gets leapt over. Clausen can't find a receiver (Cover +1) and then he's got Jamison(+1) beating two guys to flush him; as the calvary comes after the cut blocks Clausen wings it OOB. (Pressure +1)|
|Some ND OL or another makes a little wussy dive at the feet of Patterson(+1), who avoids this and causes Clausen to start scrambling after his first read is covered(+1). Brandon Graham(+2) comes free and sack/strips Clausen; he manages to recover this one.|
|Trent(+2) is better positioned to catch this ball than Tate; he trips at the end and can't pick it off.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 2 min 3rd Q. Clausen leaves the game.|
|Hilariously misfired to an open guy (cover -1, Trent -1). Trent can't make a pick.|
|More diving at the knees of Michigan defenders. Sharpley pumps on a little flare route and then fires it just before Jamison and Graham crush him. (Pressure +1, cover +1)|
|M47||3||10||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-2||Off tackle|
|Thompson(+1) runs Allen down in the backfield. Not blocked.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 12 min 4th Q. Charting ceases as the rest of the game is run run run into the line against second stringers.|
Also: Steve Brown's interception.
If you had to describe Jimmah's performance via the medium of embeddable flash video, how would you do so?
Chart. It's even respectable.
|Jamison||4||-||-||Doesn't have the best score of the day but probably turned in the two best plays. Will need a big game from him versus ND.|
|Taylor||2||-||2||Maybe underrated his day; was sometimes pulled for the pass-rush DL.|
|Crable||7||7||Much better as a blitzing linebacker.|
|B. Graham||7||-||7||Hard to tell if he's awesome or just benefiting from the worst OL ever.|
|Thompson||7||1||6||Much, much, much better. Some of that was just being unblocked, but a few plays were impressive: the pick, a couple run plays where he stood up to OL and made plays.|
|C. Graham||3||2||1||Still immensely skeptical. Looked good when allowed to flow to the ball unimpeded.|
|Warren||3||1||2||Long handoff whiff was disappointing; rest of it was pretty okay.|
|Adams||1||-||1||Not like they really had to do anything at safety.|
|"Pressure"||6||2||4||What? Well... I chalked a lot of this up to inept offensive line play and there were a lot of three-step drops with weak little chops.|
|"Coverage"||12||9||3||Better. Meaningfulnessosity? Disputed.|
There's some saying about popsicles and the mutual sucking-upon of?
Yes. Let's not just yet. Anyone who watched that game could tell you that it
said more about Notre Dame's offense than the Michigan defense, especially after the Oregon debacle. We are not "back" or whatever yet.
So, then, what can we take from Eastern Michigan-equivalent?
I am heartened by a couple of very nice plays by Tim Jamison against Sam Young, including one where he split a double to sack Clausen. Also, Thompson may be a middle linebacker suited to banging heads with PSU's between-the-tackles running style. He made a couple nice plays against actual blocking this game and looked much better in general; his interception is something I could totally see Morelli doing and very heartening in the face of an excellent Nittany Lion tight end. Donovan Warren continues to be competent but a shady tackler -- might want to keep him away from Derrick Williams.
But the big hope is in the person of Brandon Graham, he of the 3.5 sacks and burly defensive presence capable of sliding over to defensive tackle and resting Terrance Taylor. When he is a defensive end Crable can slide back to linebacker and fill the role he had a year ago as a blitzing, harassing nightmare for opponents instead of an undersized defensive end with no hope of leverage. It's impossible to tell if he is for real... let's hope he is.
The Notre Dame offensive line.
None. It was 38-0.
What does it mean for Penn State?
Who can say? I wish there was all sorts of useful information to pull out here but there is not. There is the suggestion that Michigan can have its way with a non-running quarterback and a weak offensive line. Brandent Englemon seems unlikely to screw up -- love you, Brandent -- and the Nittany Lion offense remains thoroughly untested. But when the Michigan defense has been tested, it fails. I have no idea what will happen.
Visual evidence. Baxter Allen -- winner of the ill-fated banner contest -- sends along an artists rendition of yesterday's "M as dinosaur" flight of fancy:
It is I. Interviewed at The Big Picture, if you have interest in that sort of thing.
Hockey approacheth. Yost Built has the first inklings of a great season preview with profiles of defensemen Steve Kampfer and Chris Summers. One crab: I disagree on Kampfer's importance level, which he pegs a 7 out of 10. To me, Kampfer is the biggest swing guy on the team. Yost Built rightly notes Kampfer's extremely generous defending last year and his measly +3 plus-minus are at odds with his mid-rounds NHL draft selection, something noted here as far out, man, when it first became apparent Kampfer was something other than an undrafted free agent. If he can play up to his draft position we're likely to have two solid pairings (I assume at least one of the freshmen will show up ready to play, probably 2006 third-round pick Kevin Quick). If he dishes out enough turnovers to satisfy Charlie Weis, we're in trouble.
Also: Josh Blackburn, last seen yielding a goal on an unscreened slap shot from just inside the blueline, has been "hired" as a volunteer assistant coach to help out Billy Sauer's mental game. This is the exact equivalent of hiring Ron Powlus to coach Jimmah(!).
Maybe this is why the suck? NKOTB Shooting Blue takes a look at the 2004 recruiting class -- now juniors and redshirt sophomores -- and finds a total dearth of defensive contributors. These are the guys who are contributing in any way:
- starting DT Terrance Taylor
- Nickelback Brandon Harrison.
Yuck. (If you want to count Marques Slocum in this class, it's likely he contributes something eventually, but not now.) The rest of the defenders:
- OLB Chris McLaurin: moved to TE.
- DE Eugene Germany: knucklehead. Off team.
- DE James McKinney: transfer to Louisville after undisclosed medical issue.
- CB Chris Richards: booted in aftermath of St Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre.
- CB Johnny Sears: booted for
never covering anyonefailing a drug test.
Mmm, that's ugly.
Pile on. Even Buckeyes are getting into the Notre Dame hate. Ramzy at Bucknuts has a column that proves it's not just Michigan fans that love the Nation:
NDNation, the greatest form of online amusement that doesn't offer any nudity or cash prizes, was shut down to the unregistered public for the entire Michigan game. This was probably done preemptively to keep the millions of Irish haters from polluting their otherwise bat-feces crazy discourse with ironic jest like, "Your an idiot". Since the game ended, the board has been non-stop jack-knifed semi-truck on the edge of a cliff entertainment.
Bon mots and zingers abound.
MAD MONEY. Not Jim Cramer, but equally bats is this guy who attempts to link Michigan's crappy start to... Michigan's crappy economy. No. Seriously:
-Lack of Innovation
A wonderful memory of mine is the 1972 Rose Bowl, when underdog Stanford kicked a last-second field goal to beat top-ranked Michigan 13-12. What made the upset delicious was the complaint of Michigan fans that Stanford didn't play "real football"--i.e., Stanford passed the ball. The Michigan economy is locked into an old-world combination of union labor and high taxes--and pays the price.
The sucky part is that even though this man is obviously insane he has a point.
Brains imbue humor! JoePa's Michigan press conference is kind of awesome:
A lot has been made of the losing streak to Michigan, now at eight. When the players are asked a question, obviously they can't go back that far. You obviously have been there for all eight. Is there something about Michigan that just makes Penn State tighten up?
Well, the first time I coached against Fielding Yost (1901-23, '25-26), it was tough (laughter).
Every year's a little different one. We've had some good luck and bad luck. No, Michigan's a good, solid football team. Playing at Michigan is a lot of fun. It's a great crowd, and I think you ought to enjoy it. I don't look at it the way maybe some other people do.
Lloyd Carr said that Chad Henne may come back this week. How do you prepare for two quarterbacks, especially with the kid, Ryan Mallett, who has made one start and is 250 pounds?
[WTF does Mallett weight have to do with anything? lolmsm. -ed] I don't think you do that. I think you've got to realize what kind of a football team Michigan has. Mike Hart, the wideouts we just talked about, a very, very fine offensive line, are the things that you worry about. Henne at quarterback, has experience and everything else and has played well against us, and is a good quarterback.
Now, whether he's not playing or the other kid's going to play, I think you got to be careful about that. For all I know, they could put Hart as quarterback. Put him in an empty backfield, shotgun, like everybody else is in the country is doing these days. All of a sudden you have a whole different ballgame on your hands.
This is the first Michigan game that you've played since Bp Schembechler died. What was his legacy and how did he improve Michigan football and help the Big Ten?
I never coached against Bo. I can tell a story about Bo calling me up after we were in (invited to join) the Big Ten. He said, "You sneaky little son of a..."
I said, "What are you talking about, Bo? He said, "you sneaked in there and the athletic directors and coaches never had a vote because it was all presidents."
I said, "Bo, nobody sneaked in. " He started screaming and ranting. I started screaming and ranting at him. I liked Bo. Bo is the kind of guy you had to like. You know where he's coming from, no hypocritical statements. He never pontificated, said some things. I always had a lot of fun with him.
ver coached against him. I think you have to figure that he and Woody Hayes, at a stage of the Big Ten, probably dominated a lot of things. I've said this before, you guys get tired of hearing me say it, I think when Joe Tiller came into the league with a little different type of offense, that people say he can't do that here. I never forget the quote Joe Tiller made when they said about throwing the football. He said, "Don't you think it snows in Wyoming?"
I think then it started to change. This league's got a lot of great young coaches. The kid at Wisconsin (Bret Bielema). Ron Zook is going to make Illinois really good. Kirk Ferentz...I could go down the list.
I think Bo and Woody dominated the thing for a while. I think right now there's so many darn good young coaches. I think the league's got a little different personality than it did when maybe Bo and Woody were running the show. I'm not sure, because I wasn't in the league when they were running it.
Actual newsbits: projected starting DT Abe Koroma is still out. Jon Shaw will miss the game and true freshman Steven Wisnewski will take his spot. Wisnewski was a moderately shirtless recruit that Michigan also went after. Austin Scott has already fumbled four times and will split time with kick returner Rodney Kinlaw. And PSU plans on going full bore "eff you, try to stop this, oops you did let's punt" mode:
You mentioned Clark earlier. With the problems Michigan has had with mobile quarterbacks this season, is there any plan for potentially any place for him to try to take advantage of his mobility?
Michigan had a little problem with the mobile quarterback at Oregon, but that wasn't their big problem. Their problem was they spread them out so much, they couldn't do some things they like to do defensively because the kid could throw the ball.
No, we're going to play our game. We're going out to Ann Arbor and find out just how good are we. We're going to play them our game. I'm sure Lloyd will be in the same way with his guys. They're going to play their game and let's see what happens.
So bully for that.
Are we done? Now? How about now? Now? Now?.... no. We are not done piling on Notre Dame. Vijay has awakened from long slumber in recent weeks and has put together a Charlie Weis fact sheet analagous to the Ty Willingham Fact Sheet NDNation put together in their quest to
keep the black man down return to glory. It is glorious. Selected excerpts:
Notre Dame is currently on a 5 game losing streak, their first since late 1985, early 1986.
The whole thing is highly recommended.
Etc.: South Bend Tribune article on Scott Driesbach; Pickin' On The Big Ten; the MZone checks out the latest Russell Crowe movie; BTN review; the Cal student newspaper so knows they're losing Tedford at year's end and is lashing out at anyone they can find.
It's week four, Penn State's rolling into town, and the only thing anything I sure of is that everyone is terrified of Michigan. Penn State fans: terrified of Michigan. Michigan fans: terrified of Michigan. What's the general tenor of the fanbase? Is this The Year?
Absolutely scared beyond belief. Over the last eight meetings, Michigan has usually been the better team. Four of the games have been blowouts, and the other four have been closer in varying degrees. Penn State fans seem confident that we're the better team, but there's a prevailing, creeping sense of dread. Everybody knows that something bad is about to happen. Even if Penn State gets a big lead, nobody will believe the game is in hand until it's absolutely over. Perhaps not even until an hour after it's over.
I guess we should attempt to assess the chances of that. Given Notre Dame's performance this year, is it fair to say virtually no conclusions can be drawn from Penn State's first three games? Is there anything you feel you know about the team now that was a question going into the season?
Am I allowed to suggest that perhaps Florida International and Buffalo aren't *that* bad? No?
You are fully encouraged to suggest FIU and Buffalo have been your stiffest tests to date.
Honestly, isn't Buffalo the team giving points if they're matched up with Notre Dame on a neutral field?
I can't imagine that. Buffalo has been favored once in its history, and that against Temple, another Nittany Lion foe. (Information courtesy SMQB ongoing Buffalo Line Watch.) But you never know...
Actually, I think Buffalo will win a handful of games once they hit the MAC. FIU will win a few, as well.
I think it's relatively safe to suggest that the Penn State defense is still very good, despite the competition they faced in the first three games. Of course, they haven't faced the pure athleticism of guys like Manningham, Arrington, and Hart yet, either. A few successful deep passes are by no means out of the question for Michigan on Saturday, especially given the way the Wolverine offensive line tends to pick up our blitz packages....
As far as what we've learned about Penn State so far, it seems that Austin Scott isn't going to have the lightning in a bottle season we saw from Larry Johnson in 2002. He broke practically every single-season rushing record during his senior year of high school but sat behind Tony Hunt at Penn State for a variety of reasons -- lazy attitude, not being particularly dedicated to training, and Tony Hunt being one of the more underrated PSU players in recent memory.
I'm still very suspicious of our offensive line, which struggled to open up large holes in the first halves of each game before wearing down opponents in the second halves.
That dovetails nicely with my immense suspicion about Michigan defensive line, which was gashed time and again against Appalachian State and Oregon by simple shotgun zone read plays. The big difference against Notre Dame was the Irish' complete failure to get out on Michigan linebackers. Can PSU's line do better at this?
Well, we could end up having a full-fledged pillow fight in the trenches, then. Penn State has two new tackles and injuries at RG with John Shaw (knee) and Lou Eliades (concussion). Our running game features a lot of slow developing plays, and I don't think our offensive linemen are good enough to hold their blocks for three seconds instead of two. All of this comes with the questionable caveat that the coaches allegedly employed a very scaled-down offense in order to save some tricks for the conference schedule. Presumably, these are equally slow variations of our slow developing running plays. It's not like Anthony Morelli is going to be running the read option on Saturday.
I have absolutely no way of proving this, but it seems like 95% dive and counter plays so far. Apparently, RB pitches are too 1970's for Joe Paterno.
Are Shaw and Eliades out?
Paterno says that Shaw is unlikely to play very much. Eliades is available. While they were out, PSU used career backup Mike Lucian and true freshman Stephan Wisniewski, who both played well enough given their experience.
This is fairly encouraging; Michigan got Brandon Graham back from an ankle injury last week and he put up 3.5 of Michigan's eight sacks. Shawn Crable also got to slide back to linebacker against a non-spread attack. I am leaning towards declaring this an area of Michigan advantage.
In case this is something you care about.
Of course I care! I'd also agree, but it'll be close. I think the fact that Penn State runs a traditional style offense helps more than anything.
True. Other than some end arounds and a reverse or two, not much in the way of misdirection, right? They're like Michigan: eff you, try to stop this, oops you did let's punt.
Pretty much. Plus, I think there's a legitimate question of how diverse the offense actually should get. Considering our defense, why get too risky with plays that we're not that familiar with? Paterno has been accused of constantly trying to win games 10-7, but sometimes it's not the worst strategy in the world. He pretty much invented TresselBall.
Back when the Tyrannosaur dominated the game but fumbled lots. It's the tiny hands.
[side note: you just know that if Michigan football had been around in the Cretaceous that this guy would have been the quarterback and the would have lost to teams full of velociraptors running the goddamned spread. And they would punt from inside the opponent's 40. I should just not have started comparing the Michigan program to dinosaurs. This could go on for hours.
I think I will call him Navarrasaurus Rex.]
Terrible 40 time, the T-Rex. Narrow shoulders.
Right, about the defense: everyone knows about Connor, Lee, King, et al. How is the front four doing? They're pretty young, but highly rated, IIRC. Michigan's run game has been a constant masher against overmatched opponents so far. Projection?
Surprisingly good. They're extremely fast, and make up for their lack of experience with a ton of depth. That's not to say that Mike Hart won't get his yards. He will. It's the average p
er carry that ultimately concerns me. In addition, I can't recall a Penn State team blitzing so much. Our linebackers already have six sacks, which is a lot considering our usual scheme.
The Michigan offensive line has been the one unit that has really lived up to its billing (well, that and Hart)... you aren't concerned about the young guys getting pushed around?
I can only assume that Jake Long will eliminate just about everything on his side of the line. Honestly, I am just hoping for the defensive line to hold their own and not give up huge running plays because the linebackers are tied up with offensive guards and other blockers. I think the depth will help in that regard.
I fully recognize this borders on wishful thinking.
I think aggression will be key. Will Penn State hang back even if Ryan Mallett's in the game? It would be stupid but Penn State's coaching... uh...
The defensive coaches trust their secondary, as they should. I think that's why Penn State has blitzed so much this season -- the secondary is excellent and the defensive line could use a little help at times. Still, it comes back to the competition we've faced so far. Who really knows how good the defensive line is? It's FIU, Buffalo, and St. Charlie's School For The Helpless. I'm worried that Penn State will be initially shocked by the difference in athleticism, and I am scared to death of a situation where Anthony Morelli is forced to lead a comeback. I don't know that he can't do it, but it scares me. This week, everything scares me.
Right, about Morelli: I noticed some seriously crappy numbers against Notre Dame. And then it was 3-3 at half versus Buffalo. What's the deal? Is he improved? Can he be an asset?
Ahh, the eternal question -- can Morelli be trusted to be anything more than a game manager.
His receivers have dropped a number of passes, but they also bailed him out of some bad throws last week when he went 20 for 28 and threw 4 TD's. He's never going to be Dan Marino, but the reality is that he hasn't thrown as many interceptions as his reputation suggests (eight last year, one this year -- 9 in 15 games). The key word has always been "potential" with Morelli, but the fact is, he's started 15 games at Penn State's quarterback and has only shown occasional flickers of *getting it*. He doesn't feel backside pressure particularly well. He doesn't scan the field the way a fourth-year quarterback should. Still, he's firmly in between his potential coming out of high school and his reputation as a drooling rocket-armed freak.
Is he improved? Probably. Can he be an asset? Yes, most of the time.
Also, that interception returned for a touchdown against Notre Dame was a pure physical mistake. It was a good enough read -- Derrick Williams had single coverage, albeit against ND's best defender (who was not a boxer, though I'm sure you've heard about that guy once or twice). Morelli threw that ball off his back foot for absolutely no reason and it ended up being 15 yards short of where it should have been.
Yeah, but Jay can't make Anthony throw the pass. Jay Paterno and Anthony Morelli present such chicken/egg dilemmas.
|O43||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-1||--||Zone left|
|Or an attempted zone left, anyway: Mallett fumbles the snap. Note that we don't even have a fullback on this play and we still manage to employ the shuffle, motioning in a wide receiver just so everyone is completely damn sure where we intend to run the ball.|
|Hart motions out of the backfield and no one bothers to cover him. I mean, this is amazing: it's second and 11, we've just motioned our tailback out of the backfield, and they have eight guys in the box with no one within twelve yards of Hart at the snap. Hart runs a little stop route, catches the ball, and jukes his way for another four or five. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O34||3||1||I-Form Tight||Run||9||Hart||Inside zone|
|Two keys on this play: 1) Pat "Hur hur hur" Kuntz gets blown off the ball by Boren and Mitchell. 2) Kraus brushes by the other DE, delaying him long enough for Long to chop him to the ground. Kraus is only slightly delayed in his quest for a second level block and gets it easily. Hart gashes forward.|
|O25||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone right|
|Interior of the line has done a great job, but Massey(-1) loses contact with Ryan to the inside, allowing him to close an tackle. Schilling also let Brown discard him to help.|
|Again motioning Hart out of the backfield. Zbikowski goes with him this time. Mallett has Arrington on a slant but throws well behind him. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|Batted at the line. I can't be sure who he was going for, but I think it was Manningham on a crossing route that he was dead on. He had a shot at a first down if he came off the first guy. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(39), 3-0, 11 min 1st Q. Notre Dame is getting blown off the ball from snap one here. Drive stalls because Mallett is playing like a freshman.|
|O21||1||10||I-Form Weak||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|We motion Arrington across the formation; he ends up as a second tight end. This run goes to the strong side, away from the fullback. Trevor Laws does a great job on Kraus(-1) here, driving him back and getting him offbalance so he can disconnect as Hart passes. Kuntz also does a good job avoiding Mitchell's cut block; they meet at Hart. Two good plays from ND DL and M still gains three. Why? Second level blocks eliminate the linebackers; no actual penetration from the first level defenders.|
|O18||2||7||Ace 3-wide||Run||6||Hart||Zone left|
|Not sure exactly who is where on this play, but Notre Dame is lined up in a 4-2 nickel here with only six guys in the box(!). Have they watched Michigan play in the last ten years? Laws again proves tough for Kraus to handle but it doesn't matter because he's sort of run himself out of postion here and the other DT has been sealed by the backside guard, Mitchell. By the time Hart meets Boren, et al, he's five yards downfield and it's time for third and short. Bizarre playcall for ND.|
|O12||3||1||I-Form Big||Run||2||Hart||Zone left|
|Griese advises "poise and confidence." FB shuffle to the left; we are still 100% for runs to the side of a fullback shuffle on the year. This causes two defenders to start crashing playside before the ball is even snapped. The penetration that killed Michgian a year ago is not there, though â€“ nice cut but Mitchell (+1) and Hart manages to crash forward for the first.|
|What was this? I don't know. I think it's a busted attempt at another zone play (the receivers are not running routes, they're blocking), this one to the right, but Mallett screws up the handoff. He manages to get somewhat near the LOS.|
|Obvious interference; Mallett laid this right where it needed to be for Arrington to haul it in, but late. (CA, N/A, protection 1/1)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Twins||Run||2||Hart||Zone left|
|Long stands his guy up, as does Kraus, but there's no hole here until Moundros(+1) plows his way forward, creasing the line. Hart follows him into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-0, 7 min 1st Q. Same zone blocking on short yardage this year, but Moundros has usually been in the backfield this year. Results have improved considerably... albeit against sketchy competition.|
|M22||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|ND in its 3-4 here despite the three-wide; Michigan running into an extra guy. Kuntz is blown off the ball by Boren... er. Wait. They've swapped spots, haven't they? Kraus(+1). Boren crushes a guy downfield; Hart goes for five.|
|M27||2||5||Ace 3-wide||Run||2||Hart||Zone left|
|ND now in a 4-2 with a safety rolled up. There's a crease between Massey and Long ,but that's filled by the rolled-up safety; Laws has pushed Boren back a yard or two. Mitchell also gets driven back into the Boren-Laws mess; Hart has nowhere to go. He manages to do his Hart thing for two.|
|M29||3||3||I-Form Big||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|3-4 again with a safety rolled up and another corner in sort of a half-zone to the side with not WR. Kuntz is crushed off the ball by a double team; Schilling takes care of Brown on the backside and Hart can fly up in the hole for the first before the weakside linebacker can close him down.|
|3-4 with extra safety in the box. Boren-Long zone double on Laws doesn't go so well as Laws manages to spin free of it after ceding a yard or two. Moundros does a very poor job trying to cut the charging WLB and Hart is forced to run up into a bunch of bodies. Note again that despite some good play from ND they're getting blown back 3 yards and can't get a TFL to save their lives.|
|Don't like this call, or maybe I just don't
like the read. All four ND linebackers take a step or two forward at the snap; Massey should be wide open in the seam. Meanwhile the ND corners are bailing out like mad. It seems this is a defense that is designed to stop either a run play or a bomb; we oblige. Mallett throws it OOB. (IN, 0, protection 3/3)
|Dropped. Griese starts claiming it was too hard, but I don't know... catch the damn ball. We've seen Manningham do this before. (CA, 3, protection 1/1) Probably not going for a first anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 1 min 1st Q. Griese also says that Mallett had a window on the bomb, FWIW, so maybe my criticism isn't totally warranted.|
|O38||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||1||Hart||Zone left|
|So weird: ND in a 4-2 with no safety help. Laws now lined up over Mitchell after previously being tasked with battling Long; he avoids Mitchell's cut block(-1 Mitchell) and Schilling fails to get a second-level block; Hart is shut down. Poor play from the OL on this one.|
|Manningham shoved to the ground with the ball in the air; interference; not charted.|
|I mean... this is insane: ND in a 3-3-5 here. They actually get a pass call from Michigan on first down (one of like two all day, IIRC). Mallett rolls out on the waggle and fires an inadvisable bullet to Manningham at like the two. This might be a stupid throw... it is close to being eerily similar to the Henne pick in the App St game. But we are a results-based charting service around these parts. (DO, 2, protection 1/1)|
|O3||1||G||I-Form Big||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|Stymied inside; I actually think Hart should be cutting this up the backside for six. Instead he runs up the backs of his OL for a moment, then darts outside of Zbikowski â€“ how I'll miss you, you boxing, no-tackling bastard, you â€“ for the TD.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-0, 14 min 1st Q. Game over. Hey, they lasted more than a quarter. Barely. Uh... could we count to 11 on special teams, maybe?|
|O48||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||9||Hart||Outside zone left|
|Just Mike Hart being awesome. ND sends a corner blitz right into this zone play; Hart is dead to rights for a five-yard loss... except he's Mike Hart and spins away from Wooden. Meanwhile, Long(+1) has sealed #90 beatifully... this was a tough block to make â€“ and the second-level guys wash out the linebackers. I think this play is subtly different than many Michigan zone plays and is designed to go outside.|
|O39||2||1||Ace 3-wide||Run||14||Hart||Zone right|
|Notre Dame with six in the box. I guess this is a really predictable bomb-it down, but yeesh. ND blitzes the corner again but this time Michigan runs away from it, to the weakside. Boren(+2) crushes his guy (which is Laws!) down the line and to the ground, leaving Hart a massive backside gap that the defensive end can't fill. This is really poor play by Massey(-1) on this block... we are running to the weakside so we can actually get a blocker on the DE this time, but Massey gets discarded. Great blocking by Boren/Long/Kraus makes that irrelevant; Hart pops into the secondary for a big gainer.|
|O25||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-1||Hart||Zone left|
|Weird look here with four down linemen and Zbikowski standing up between a DT and a DE. MLB blitzes and a safety charges up right at the snap â€“ wish we were using the finger thing here to tip these. The blitzing LB gets picked up but Michigan, as a result, can't get anyone on Zbikowski. This defense is specifically designed to stop zone left. Hart sees the mess and tries to cut to the backside, but slips. Probably wouldn't have mattered with an unblocked linebacker filling.|
|The double throw. Mallett slips and the ball is overthrown anyway. What is Schilling thinking here? No one blocks Brown and this probably wouldn't have been successful anyway. (Not charted.)|
|ND sends six; Mallett hangs in and lays it in to Mathews on a crossing route that is wide open. Manningham drove off one defender, and the ND linebacker in the middle zone inexplicably started moving up towards Hart... screen wary? I would like to note that Mallett did not throw this a billion MPH, instead laying it in gently. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-0, 11 min 2nd Q.|
|M22||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||12||Hart||Zone left|
|FB shuffle, ND in a straight 3-4. Why? Think this is also designed to get outside. Moundros heads out immmediately and clocks Long's guy, who's set up outside pretty well; he starts spinning back and trips up the ND linebacker. Hart's outside. He then cuts back behind a wall of blockers five or six yards downfield before Trevor Laws tracks him down. A DT. 12 yards downfield. Yay, ol.|
|FB shuffle, still 100%. Safety flies up to make it eight in the box and flies into the backfield, where Moundros submarines him, but not before he prevents Hart from breaking this outside. This prevents him from picking up an absolute convoy of blockers and forces him into a morass. We tipped this and it cost us.|
|FB == Butler. We tip this as a pass. Arrington comes in motion across the formation with DB in tow, so it's man. The route is a pick with Manningham on a slant opening up a quick out for Arrington; executed five. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M45||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||11||Hart||Zone right|
|ND in a nickel set; slot CB blitzes; we run away from it. Boren(+1) drives Laws off the ball again; the hole here is between Mitchell and Schilling. Hart picks his way past a prone, grasping Laws and gets out to the second level, where Long(+1) is obliterating an Irish LB. Hart's eventually taken down by a recovering LB, but after the sticks.|
|O44||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|ND again in a straight nickel. Though Zbikowski is moving up at the snap, he's too far out to be of much use. Why is ND doing this? We've thrown once on first down? Is Corwin Brown a mole? Anyway: this time Boren(-1) can't get off his zone block to deal with the linebacker fast enough; he dives at Hart's feet in the backfield. No tackle. He then stops on a dime and cuts upfield for 3 yards he shouldn't.|
|O41||2||7||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Minor||Zone right|
|ND in a nickel with press coverage. Think Minor has a major gainer here if he takes it between Schilling (I haven't been giving him pluses, but he's consistently been caving his DE in all day) and Mitchell. He reads the zone block wrong... C Kraus has taken the DE and Mitchell is heading out to the second level, go outside... and allows the DT to disengage and tackle.|
|It looks like a confident throw, at least. Definitely a second read, too. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-0, 5 min 2nd Q. This is an obvious go-for-it situation according to Romer. I hate this punt. It is slightly defensible up 24 and opposing this ND offense, but still... no.|
|M44||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||11||Hart||Zone left|
|Straight nickel. Corwin Brown is a mole. Weakside DE might have a chance to shut this down but he hesitates on a potential waggle fake and cannot recover in time; Hart is romping behind him as Long and Boren(+1) take Brown and ride him five yards downfield. He ends up pancaked past the 50. All Hart had to do is run up behind the duo.|
|O45||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||9||Hart||Zone left|
|WR shuffle and we run in the direction of it. Designed to go outside, then, as it brings in the CB so Mathews can block him and Hart can pop it. Line seals the ND DL way inside, but Mathews(-1) puts up a block worth of the ND OL and Hart has to deal with the corner in the backfield. One stiffarm later he's rumblign down the sideline for 9.|
|Very predictable playcall and Manningham is bracketed by the safety. ND has eight in the box and the safety runs over to double Manningham at the snap, ignoring Arrington. Maybe... throw it to Arrington? Just sayin'. Ball is thankfully overthrown. (IN, 0, protection 2/2). Nice blitz pickup from Minor.|
|O36||3||1||I-Form Big||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|FB shuffle and the blocking on this is poo. We are fortunate a couple people get cut to the ground and Hart can do his Hart thing, cutting behind Boren driven backwards, for the first.|
|We're looking at an iso shot of Jake Long as this play snaps. So angry! By the time we get to the play thre is a gaping hole up the middle with two guys looking for second level blocks and only one linebacker to deal with. Minor reads this and high steps for close to ten.|
|O23||2||1||Ace 3-wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|3-4, so they've got an extra guy. Kraus blows Kuntz off the ball and Schilling stones Brown; there is a massive backside hole.|
|Yipes. The near pick-six. It looks like this route could be open but Mallett stares it down and, if it's open, throws it late. (BR, 0, protection 2/2).|
|O20||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||9||Hart||Zone left|
|ND in a 3-3-5. They can't be serious. They are, evidently, Michigan runs it down their throat. Laws has the temerity to actually try an upfield pass rush, so Long just runs him out of the play. Kuntz (say it with me) blown off the ball; three second level blockers don't even have to pause before crushing linebackers, and Hart is unfettered until the weakside DE tracks him down at the 11.|
|O11||3||1||Ace 3-wide||Run||1||Hart||Zone left|
|Stupid camera angle means I can't tell what happens on this play.|
|O10||1||G||Shotgun 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|Major hole as the weakside DT's first step is upfield. He eliminates himself behind Mitchell and there's a big crease up the gut. Hart is chopped down at the five.|
|Laid in. Ver' nice. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-0, EOH.|
|M30||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||1||Hart||Zone right|
|FB shuffle to the playside against a 3-4 with a corner blitz coming. Boren(-1) whiffs on Kuntz; corner forces Hart back into him.|
|M31||2||9||Ace 3-wide||Run||-3||Hart||Zone left|
|Straight nickel. Playside DT â€“ Laws -- does not get blocked much as Boren(-1) ignores him for a second level block after a brief brush that's not enough for Kraus to get him sealed. Zone blowup just like the one in my book(!). Massey(-1) also got driven back unpleasantly.|
|Thrown too high. (IN, 1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-0, 13 min 3rd Q. First three-and-out of the game. Boren, who has been outstanding so far, beat a couple times.|
|M21||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||11||Hart||Zone left|
|ND with six in the box down 31 with 9 minutes to go in the third quarter against a team with a true freshman quarterback who has thrown two first down p
asses. Corwin Brown is a mole. And there's just no way they stop crap on this play. Huge split between the backside DE and DT is exploited as the DT runs down the line a bit and gets blocked a few yards backwards. Hart has a veritable field to frolic in. Then he burrows for another three yards carrying five defenders. Mike Hart is awesome.
|M32||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||7||Hart||Zone right|
|Blitz slices in to the backfield but it comes to the backside of the play. On the frontside another huge gap between Schilling and the Kraus/Mitchell zone block. Sai block controls the DE then pops out on the LB... textbook.|
|3-4 with a blitzing safety... and an FB shuffle. Safety cuts off Minor's attempt to go outside and he can only burrow back to the LOS.|
|3-4, safety in the box. Mallett checks his first read, comes down to Massey, and the flicks out a little flare to Hart for the first down. Don't know if the other options were real options or if this play was designed to come down to Hart from the beginning; still nicely executed. More touch shown, too. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|FB shuffle. This one is alittle slow developing and the backside LB is totally unfettered to Hart. He is wrapped up three yards downfield... breaks through two guys and rumbles for a first down.|
|O45||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||12||Hart||Zone right|
|Notre Dame is blitzing two linebackers and bringing both safeties up in this nickel look, but the safeties are still yards from the LOS when the ball is snapped. This sort of half measure isn't working and hasn't been all game. Bruton attacks up the outside, allowing Hart to cut back behind Mitchell. Kraus has cut the DT to the ground and Hart is into the secondary once again. He puts a little move on Zbikowski and sprints to the outside for yet more yards.|
|O33||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||3||Minor||Zone left|
|Well blocked except for Massey; his man overpowers him and closes down on Minor.|
|O30||2||7||Ace 3-wide||Run||11||Minor||Zone counter|
|The TE pull we debuted in the Oregon game returns; Massey cuts the backside DE and Minor has a massive hole that Zbikowski tries to fill... Minor pwns him with a sweet spin move.|
|O19||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Wide camera angle makes this hard to parse. Looks like the ND line getting blown back en masse|
|O15||2||6||Ace 3-wide||Run||2||Hart||Zone left|
|Way more blitzers than blockers here, no chance for this to be anything. Should be a three yard loss, but Hart is awesome.|
|O13||3||4||Shotgun 3-Wide||Pass||13||Manningham||Stop and go|
|Manningham fakes a stop route and Mallett gives a pump; corner bites. Manningham's wide open at the back of the endzone; laid in. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-0, 4 min 3rd Q. With no points and the rest of the game garbage carries with partial lines, charting stops here.|
A final item: Mallett fumbled one more snap, and there is video of Minor's truck job on a Notre Dame safety.
And a desultory cheer went up from the beleaguered masses.
Does this game actually tell us anything?
Maybe a few things. The biggest takeaway for me was the excellent performance of Justin Boren, who spent much of the day making Trevor Laws eat his own poop. Though the Notre Dame defense is almost totally devoid of good players, Laws was a thorn last year, is by far ND's best player in their front seven, and has three years on young Mr. Boren. Despite this he spent most of the day face down five yards downfield. ABC's constant fawning closeups of Jake Long running untouched to the second level and obliterating some poor linebacker were amusing since they all showed Boren doing the heavy lifting. That dominance, plus Schilling's quiet effectiveness, are very encouraging signs for the offensive line going forward.
The rest of the line continued it fine performance. There was the occasional missed block or inability to hold the POA, but this is the third consecutive game Michigan's ground game has been punishing. This has all been against overmatched opponents, sure, but there's an inkling in there that most opponents will be overmatched. Penn State will tell the tale.
Also, Brandon Minor missed an obvious read on one of the carries I charted above; I think the running back job is going to be wide open next year. Minor runs really upright and seems perpetually on the verge of getting his clock cleaned; he also clearly lacks Hart's ability to pick through traffic. The spin move on Zbikowski was sweet, though.
Oh, and Mallett. Here's Mallett's cha--
Yes, chart. Here's Mallet's chart:
|Oregon - Henne||1||13||6||3||1||0||3|
|Oregon - Mallett||3||7||2||3||1||1||2|
|ND - Mallett||2||7||4||1||0||2||0|
A fairly typical profile for a freshman called upon to throw only 15 or 17 times. Perhaps I was a little generous with a DO and one of the INs could be a BR -- the double-covered bomb to Manningham that was out of bounds -- if you were so inclined. The numbers look okay, but suboptimal in the ways that first-time starters are. Mallett also succumbed to our weird tendency to have a ton of balls batted when we play Notre Dame.
All things considered, Mallett did very well. Each of the touchdown throws displayed touch. Two were looped over the heads of Notre Dame defenders; the third was a soft crossing route to Mathews that beat a blitz. He stood in the pocket, knew when to get rid of the ball, and came off his primary receiver a couple of times, most impressively on the little Hart flare that picked up a first down. He dealt with no pressure and usually had open receivers; he took advantage of his.
There were problems: an inaccu
rate slant, routes he screwed up the timing on, the near-pick, two fumbled snaps, and a busted handoff. It was not an efficient performance -- anyone seriously doubting whether a healthy-ish Henne should start versus Penn State is advised to stop doubting -- but it was one that hinted at his potential.
Also (not to go all NDNation on you): the kid has an infectious confidence. His joy for the game that was a delight to see when I reviewed the tape. With Hart gone after the year, Michigan will need a focal point and he seems like the kind of kid to take up that mantle.
Other chart. Not much to see here, as you might expect.
Kind of dodgy protection metric?
A perfect 22/22.
What about that punt?
Completely indefensible in a close game. Potentially justifiable up 24 and facing an offense that would need several miracles to reach double digits. If I knew that Michigan would not do the same if it was down four points in the second quarter, I wouldn't even mention it.
Anything else irritate?
We are still 100% run when freshman wideouts are in the game and 100% run in the direction of a shuffle, be it fullback or -- new! -- wide receiver. Also, we broke out our TE-as-FB package for the first time this year. This is always a pass.
Now, it's fair to point out that Michigan ran most of the day and these things might not mean much in the context of a 38-0 whitewashing, but Michigan does this against opponents both competitive and not and gives away many of their plays just by personnel or alignment. Whatever shocking plays we have that play off these tendencies are not worth the constant bleed of expected value we suffer throughout the year.
Mr Cranky actually like anything?
I failed to mention this in the aftermath of the Oregon debacle, but this zone counter thing where one tight end comes across the line to chop down the backside DE, opening up a major cutback lane, has been really effective and plays off our zone game beautifully. We only ran it once against ND but it went for a Minor first down; it also opened up that Butler crossing route on the first play of the Oregon game. It's been a fine addition.
Boren, as mentioned, the rest of the OL, and Hart. Who is awesome.
I kind of hate Mike Massey's run blocking. He was the one guy who didn't seem able to overpower his man; a couple of Hart's less successful runs involved Massey getting pushed back a bit. Other than that, there isn't much to complain about.
Is Corwin Brown a mole?
Very possibly. Michigan's ground game was sometimes opposed by extra guys in the box but not nearly often enough given Michigan's tendencies -- two first down passes were attempted all day -- especially considering their deployment of a true freshman quarterback. Often Michigan would line up in their standard ace three-wide formation and ND would oppose it with a straight nickel! There can be no justification for this, especially when your defensive line ends up on its ass every play. Sometimes the nickel look would have a late-blitzing safety who would come up and try to fill, but this ploy was universally ineffective.
Notre Dame showed nothing unusual to slow down the Michigan rushing attack aside from one creative blitz that got Zbiboxerguy free and forced Hart into one run for no gain. Corwin Brown may be able to recruit against Michigan, but Pete Carroll he's not.
What does it mean for Penn State?
Given the youth of Penn State's defensive line and some injury problems they're having (projected starting DT Abe Koroma is out), I think we should be able to mash them pretty good. Their defensive ends are quick but undersized and will either slash past the blockers assigned to them or end up like Pat Kuntz: face-down after being used as a plow. The defensive tackles are underclassmen, albeit highly rated ones. Their linebackers are awesome, but if the DL can't hold up they'll have to deal with blockers all day and will be awesomely turning 10 yards gains into 6 yard gains instead of 4 into 0. It will help if Penn State does its traditional two- or three-deep coverage all day instead of rolling a guy up to the LOS. If there's one team out there that relies on out-executing your opponent more than Michigan, it's the Ni
The passing game? Depends on the quarterback, obviously, but it will be a sideshow. Last year Michigan passed to set up the run; this year it will have to be the other way. Count me as cautiously optimistic Hart goes for something like 140 on many, many carries. The passing game is still a question mark.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
USC's obliteration of Nebraska is not enough for the Trojans to reclaim the #1 spot from LSU... but it's damn close. The chainsaw-penised gorillas maintain their edge with 31 first place votes to USC's 27. The Trojans do hop past Oklahoma to grab second.
Elsewhere, the big movers are Boston College, up eight after finishing an odd three-game conference swing to open the year, and Alabama, up 11 -- in the poll for the first time this year -- after a narrow victory over the Hogs. Also... uh... Kentucky enters the poll at #17, which is good for them but bad for us since a college football poll without Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, or Michigan but with Rutgers and Kentucky is an obvious sign of the apocalypse.
Our weekly justification of the BlogPoll's existence:
- LSU #1, obvs.
- Blogpollers have paid attention to the shaky starts of Texas and Wisconsin, #9 and #12, respectively, versus #7 and #9, respectively, in the AP.
- Likewise, blogpollers are high on Oregon (#10 vs #13) and BC (#11 versus #14) after their strong starts against actual competition.
- Kentucky (#17 versus #21) and South Florida (#18 versus #23) are beneficiaries of the same principle.
- We still hate VT: #23 versus #17.
- We also hate Hawaii, #19 in the AP and surely destined for a post-season spot in the top ten for no reason whatsoever... blogpollers have them at #24 mostly because the alternatives are things like Nebraska, Arizona State, and Michigan State.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- Why does The Hoosier Report keep voting for Miami? Aaaargh!
- BON isn't a huge outlier on OSU, but it is the blog with the lowest opinion of the Bucks: #15. This is behind South Florida, whose big road win over Auburn looks much less impressive than beating Washington at the moment, Missouri, and Clemson. Which is weird, especially because Texas' struggles against dorky opponents apparently don't phase them: UT is #7.
- FWIW, Dump Dorrell is our only voter with Oklahoma at #1.
- Dan Shanoff: Rutgers #5. Rocky Top Talk: Rutgers #25. FIGHT!
- Saurian Sagacity has South Florida #10, up four after their Auburn win got devalued something fierce. But, hey, at least they voted for USC this week.
- Why is Bruins Nation voting for Tennessee? Arrrrrgh!
- EDSBS has UCLA at #22... no Utah, no Air Force. Ack!
- Falcon Nation has Virginia Tech #8. This is the worst vote of the week.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
This week's Mr. Bold. is SMQB again, and it's the resume-ranking thing again, too. Wisconsin, Penn State, and Texas are the last three hangers-on on his ballot. Boston College is #2. Air Force is #16, Kansas #17. Etc. Question: just what has Kansas done against CMU, Toledo, and a I-AA team that's better than beating TCU, in the case of Texas, or Washington State, in the case of Wisconsin? This resume stuff seems just as arbitrary as the non-resume stuff.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award Ramblin' Racket returns to wrest the CK Award away from Bruins Nation after a one-week hiatus. Last year any blogger with the hubris to rank high in this category saw his team immediately struck down... GT #5 deserves some smiting, oh yes.
This weekend: BC 24, GT 10, and it wasn't really even that close. I would also point out that this year's other winner was Bruins Nation, and they're on a week long FIRE DORRELL!!! bender after UCLA got clunked 44-6. By Utah. Which isn't even a state. Do not win this category.
he Straight Bangin' Award is Card Chronicle's after that whole losing to Kentucky thing. UL didn't have far to drop after the Middle Tennessee near-debacle, coming in #22 on CC's last ballot, but now they're gone entirely.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive goes to Dawg Sports. When you entirely throw out your previous insane ballot in favor of something way more sane after the weekend's results, you tend to win here. [items in italics are the only words changed from last week.]