"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
Tom VanHaaren interviews 2010 FL S Marvin Robinson.
This weekend's game against MSU is not only an important one for the season, but possibly for seasons to come. This will be one of the most intriguing weekends, when it comes to recruiting. With big names like Travis Bond, Willie Haulstead, and Donovan Tate on tap to be on the sidelines, Rich Rodriguez and his staff have their hands full. One of the most talked about recruits, Marvin Robinson, will also be there, and could possibly make an announcement. Here's what he had to say.
TOM: Do you think you’re team will make the playoffs this year?
MARVIN: I hope so, our record is 3-4, and I have 3 interceptions so far, which is good. Our team is pretty young, so we’re trying to rebuild. I usually play safety, running back, and WR; I try to help as much as I can.
TOM: Since you’re only a junior, you’ve got some time to improve. What do you want to improve on?
MARVIN: I want to be at 205 pounds, I’m at a 4.5 speed right now, I want to get that down to a 4.4. I really want to get my team to a state championship, which would mean a lot.
TOM: What are you looking for in a school?
MARVIN: My parents are real involved, we’re looking at academics, and which coaches are the best to get me to the NFL. I look at how different teams would put me in their playbook, since I play both sides of the ball. I have also been looking at the way they use their safeties, and other positions.
TOM: You’ve got a visit coming up this weekend, are you excited, and what you hope to see when you’re up there?
MARVIN: Well I’ve been there twice; I came last year for Penn State and for camp. I mainly want to look at the team, and talk to the coaches. I really want to talk to the recruits, and get to know them. It’s important for me to know the other kids. But, yea I’m real excited.
TOM: You also said there’s a good chance you will commit when you’re up there, what will it take to get a commitment?
MARVIN: There’s a chance I might, it just depends on what my family and I think and see.
TOM: Are there any players coming up this weekend you’re excited to meet or hang out with?
MARVIN: Ricardo Miller, and Lo Woods... I know them. There are a lot of recruits that I don’t know, and I want to get to know them. No one in particular.
TOM: You’re one of the top recruits in the country, and you’re only a junior, has it been hard to deal with the instant fame?
MARVIN: I don’t let that get to my head; I’m just focused on my season. I’m really trying to help my team, but it doesn’t bother me too much. I just stay humble, and stay focused.
TOM: Are you helping to create the Florida buzz? What is everyone saying about our school to the north?
MARVIN: A lot of people, like older people, say that Michigan is a great place. The school, academics, fans. All I hear is good news, which kind of helps all the recruits be more interested. We all keep hearing how good of a place Michigan is to be, so we all want to see it.
TOM: Have you been working on any other players?
MARVIN: Ricardo Miller I know has been working on Lo Wood. I talked to Chris Dunkley, when we were at the Florida-Miami game. I’m trying to get him up to the game this weekend at Michigan.
TOM: Is there anyone from your class that you’d really like to see there with you?
MARVIN: It’s still early; I’m still trying to feel everybody out. That’s why I’m excited for this weekend, to meet some more people.
TOM: What position is everyone recruiting you at? And where do you think you’ll fit best? Or what do you ideally want to play?
MARVIN: Most teams recruit me as an athlete, safety is my main position. I want to try to do a little bit of everything. I see myself as kind of a Charles Woodson type. I really think I can help out on both sides of the ball, but Safety would be my main position.
TOM: People have said you already have an NFL body, if you choose Michigan are you excited to learn from Mike Barwis? Have you talked to him at all?
MARVIN: I heard that he is a great trainer, and I heard about the players like Hart and Edwards that worked with him. I haven’t talked to him yet, but I can’t wait to meet him.
TOM: Who has been the main coach recruiting you? Have you gotten a chance to talk with coach Schaeffer?
MARVIN: Coach Rod Smith. He’s a good guy. I talked to coach Schaeffer once awhile ago, he runs a good defense up there.
TOM: Possibly ending your recruitment this early can be either viewed as a good thing or bad thing, is it a relief knowing you’re this far along as a junior?
MARVIN: It will definitely be a relief. How well the area is will be important too, my parents are talking about moving where ever I go. So they want to make sure they can get a job, and live in a good area.
TOM: Has this season affected your thought process at all? Or are you more excited for the future?
MARVIN: It hasn’t affected me at all, teams are going to have a down season. It hasn’t affected me. I’m excited.
TOM: Tell me why anyone else should come to Michigan. What’s so great to you about Michigan?
MARVIN: The legacy Michigan has with academics, and the history they have is amazing. Many great football players came from Michigan to the NFL. The academics to the football, I hear it’s a great place in general.
Note: I finally gave in and decided to make UFR even more complicated. I've added a passing category: "MA". MA stands for "marginal" and fills what I've always thought was a vacancy between "catchable" balls that are decent, routine throws, and "inaccurate" throws that are just no-hopers. Sometimes you can throw a ball that's caught and still have performed sub-optimally.
Also, a note: Penn State will use a formation with two linebackers, two sort of wing players who are S or LB or hybrids over inside receivers, and then two corners with a deep safety for much of the game. I dubbed this their nickel package even though most of the time one of the "safeties" was actually a linebacker. I probably need to work on distinguishing between formations and packages.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|Michigan will go with this formation for much of the game: slot receivers on the LOS and the outside ones off the line with Minor in the backfield next to Threet. On the first play, Threet hits Odoms on a hitch for about four yards plus whatever Odoms can get after the catch; Odoms tries to get around the corner over Mathews—also running a hitch—and to the outside but is run down after giving back three yards. Actually a good idea; Mathews took a crappy angle, stepping upfield and allowing the guy right past him. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M15||2||9||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read veer||Minor||20|
|The other formation they used a lot is a formation with the slots off the line nearly stacked over the outside WRs, obviously an attempt to combat the Illinois-style bubble defense employed earlier this year. There's no special trick to this play: it's the same zone read veer they've run a lot so far; the weakside defensive end stumbles and Minor shoots into the secondary. Poor play from the PSU LBs; good blocks by Ortmann (out at tackle again; McAvoy is back at guard) and Molk. Minor(+1) then clocks the safety after 11 yards and runs through a linebacker, picking up another ten.|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||Bubble screen||Mathews||6|
|Or whatever: Mathews doesn't actually go anywhere; he does have Koger as a lead blocker. Safety fills pretty quickly but still a decent gain. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M41||2||6||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Threet||5|
|Exact same play Minor took for 20 but Threet keeps it this time; the DE crashes down and Threet can meander for a few yards and the first down.|
|This is only vaguely a wheel, but the idea is the same, with Koger moving up the sideline as Mathews draws coverage to a short post. Threet's pass is well behind Koger, forcing him to come up short and make a sliding catch. Thrown in stride, this could have gone for 10, 20 more yards. (MA, 2, protection 1/2, team -1). Real late blitz recognition and pickup from the line on this, BTW.|
|This is not zone blocked, it's gap blocked, with Moosman pulling around Molk and into a hypothetical gap between McAvoy and Molk. This gap doesn't really exist as Molk(-1) lets his guy get to the spot. Minor(+1) does a good job of making two yards after contact.|
|O35||2||7||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||QB off tackle||Threet||5|
|Same play we saw Sheridan run a few times last week. Michigan gets a major gap as the playside DT steps upfield, expecting a Minor run that would go to the other side of the line, and gets himself sealed. Unfortunately, McAvoy(-1) completely whiffs on the linebacker; he closes and tackles after just five yards.|
|O30||3||2||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Threet||1|
|Veer action this time; DE crashes down and Threet keeps it; S Scirotto shoots up, however, chopping Threet down a yard from the sticks. If Threet isn't a gimpy gumpy guy probably a first down.|
|O29||4||1||I-Form 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Minor||1|
|Man press with one deep safety; Minor(+2) gets met two yards in the backfield by two tacklers... and bounces out of it, making the first down by half a length of the ball. On replay it's clear a slant from PSU's D beats McAvoy and Moosman, maybe Molk too, and gets a DL and a blitzing linebacker into Minor.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||QB off tackle||Threet||5|
|Looks like the same playcall from PSU, as the line slants left and there's a linebacker shooting to backside; Michigan runs right at it. The the slant gives easy angles to block the DE and DT; Schilling reads the play correctly and picks up the blitzing OLB; Minor punches the MLB back. Scirroto again charges up, tackling too soon; Threet did slip as he attempted a cut.|
|O23||2||5||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read veer||Minor||9|
|Same thing—DL slant plus backside blitz—on this play but the other direction, as Minor is lined up to the other side. Michigan runs the veer at it, which holds the OLB outside just long enough for Minor to shoot through the hole; with the blitz/slant there's no one until the second level.|
|O14||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel||Run||QB off tackle||Threet||5|
|Flooding the wide side of the field here with three WRs and Koger; Koger is covered up and can't go downfield. They back off on this snap but still are shooting the DTs right upfield in anticipation of a stretch or something, and sealing themselves right out of the play. The DE isn't handled very well, as he drives into the backfield against two players and delays McAvoy's downfield release but the DT's cooperation has made that moot. Koger(+1) has gotten a great block on the MLB; McAvoy gets an OLB, but Minor peels off because he thinks the OLB is going to get through and ends up blocking no one; the safety comes up to tackle.|
|O9||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||4|
|Same gap-blocked dive from earlier; Moosman(-1) is beaten by his guy to the outside; Minor(+1) runs through his diving tackle attempt and picks up four.|
|O5||3||1||I-Form twins||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Minor||5|
|They again get the jump on the PSU DL, hopping outside—away from where Koger is lined up, this breaks a tendency—and getting McAvoy(+1) to seal the weakside DE. Ortmann blocks off the OLB—who must contain to the outside and does—and Moundros shoots up into the hole, chopping the safety. The MLB can't quite get there in time—I think Moosman got a tug on him that went uncalled—and Minor leaps into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 6 min 1st Q. 14 play, 86 yard touchdown drive. Jebus.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|Poor snap from Molk delays Threet's rollout here; Odoms runs a short out, then wheels upfield against the safety. He's open by a good step or two; Threet, unset, chucks it at him. The ball is dangerously short and inside, falling incomplete. Threet had time to get his body moving to the LOS and could have taken another second, then taken the shot deep. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M45||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||36|
|Zone blocked here and not the veer; Minor takes the handoff headed upfield and Penn State's defensive tackles fight inside. This provides a major hole between Molk and Ortmann. Meanwhile, the MLB has started heading backside to contain Threet as the DE is selling out on Minor; the SLB is ably blocked by McAvoy. We actually get a hat on a safety—Koger this time—and Minor shoots into the secondary, running over the linebacker in the process.|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel||Pass||Long handoff||Stonum||3|
|Pretty quick reaction here by the CB holds it down. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O16||2||7||Shotgun trips||Nickel||Run||QB off tackle||Threet||3|
|Crease here is considerably smaller but still exists as Molk gets to the correct side of the DT and manages to hold his ground just well enough. McAvoy and Minor, however, both run past the SLB; he comes in and tackles from an angle.|
|O13||3||4||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Run||Zone read stretch||McGuffie||-1|
|Think this playcall might be a little too obvious? They've seen quite a bit of McGuffie on the zone stretch and this is the first play he's seen. Penn State freaks out as soon as they see the action of the play. With the WLB shooting playside and the DE's shoulders turned, Threet really needs to keep this. If he does, first down easy. Instead he hands off. The WLB's quick reaction gives Schilling little chance to cut him and there's no frontside crease with Molk losing the battle against the DT this time. He's forced to try, though, and ends up losing a yard.|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal(26), 10-0, 4 min 1st Q. Penn State gets an illegal substitution penalty, taking the ball down to the nine, and Rodriguez still kicks. Error, IMO.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||3|
|Molk(-1) does not get the DT sealed this time, causing a lead-blocking McGuffie to try to help out on that instead of blocking the crashing safety; McAvoy's downfield block is a poor one and the two LBs converge.|
|M25||2||7||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Pass||Skinny post||Rogers||23|
|James Rogers? Okay. Penn State blitzes two; the line picks it up. Threet waits for a moment, finding Rogers coming open as he clears the short zone. Good throw and catch. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read veer||Min||-1|
|Again, Threet needs to keep this as the DE has given up contain. He doesn't and Minor tries to find a path more up the middle. No dice, as the DT has beaten Molk(-1) and the other one has blown back Moosman(-1).|
|M47||2||11||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Pass||PA wheel||Odoms||27|
|They do triple option action, faking the dive and sending McGuffie into the flat. By the time the safety-LB guy on Odoms recognizes it Odoms is already to him and he's reduced to chasing; Threet hits him for major yards. (DO, 3, protection 2/2.) They love Odoms on this route, especially against these LB/safety types, and you can see why: dude is open all day.|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||QB off tackle||Threet||1|
|Ortmann(-1) beaten by the linebacker who comes up tight to the LOS; the other LB is attacking the hole from the snap and delivers a blow to Minor instead of the other way around.|
|O25||2||9||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Threet||6|
|Slightly different variation here as the backside DE does get blocked; the MLB bites heavily on the dive action, allowing Threet outside of him. If Threet's faster, blah blah you know the drill.|
|O19||3||3||Shotgun empty||Nickel||Run||QB off tackle||Threet||14|
|Great block by Molk(+2) here, getting playside of a DT lined up a foot outside of him and holding him off long enough for a crease to form. McAvoy's excellent cut block on the MLB is almost unnecessary since Moosman is out there with a great angle to block the same guy; Minor(+1) does an excellent job on the safety-type object.|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun 2-back trips||Nickel||Run||Busted play||Threet||2|
|The formation in which Mathews is covered up. Shaw is in on this and I think he's supposed to take a dive handoff but instead just shoots forward looking to block someone. Threet follows for a couple yards.|
|O3||2||G||I-Form twins||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Minor||2|
|Koger covered. Molk sort of beaten on this one but manages to recover okay and get the DT's motion stalled, at which point Moundros(+1) blows into the pair of them, shoving them backwards. That provides enough of a crease for Minor to thump up into the hole; he falls just short of the goal line.|
|O1||3||G||I-Form twins||Goal line||Run||Iso||Minor||1|
|DT shooting forward and falling in an attempt to get instant penetration; Michigan is running off the guard so this is an advantage. Big crease, but an unblocked linebacker in the hole. Minor hammers him, falling into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-7, 13 min 2nd Q. It was fun while it lasted. Goodbye, offense.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||Hitch and go||Stonum||Inc|
|Straight dropback with good protection; Threet is staring it down all the way, but there's a reason: he pumps. Double move coming. It comes, and... it's blanketed. Threet throws it anyway, and it's long and OOB. Should have come down to someone else, IMO. This could be IN, TA, or BR. Uh. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M24||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||4|
|This isn't actually a veer but ends up turning into one, basically, as the backside DE gets blocked but is replaced by the weakside LB, held outside by Threet. Schilling(+1) gets an excellent, driving block on the DE, providing the space and momentum for the yardage here; the frontside was jammed up.|
|Threet has decent protection, decides to throw... and changes his mind a the last second, awkwardly bringing the ball down. After some scrambling around he's sacked; he tries one of those crazy Mallett plays, flipping the ball to Minor, but it's after his knee is down. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 10 min 2nd Q. McDonough says “that's the kind of risky play this young offense might want to avoid,” which is about as gently as you can put it.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||1|
|We're back to the stuff we did a lot against Notre Dame with a scoop on the playside DT effectively sealing him. The playside DE runs right out of the play, opening up a big hole, but Koger(-1) gets owned by the LB to this side, shucked and destroyed, and Minor's cut(-1) is pretty stiff, allowing the guy to close and tackle near the LOS. Minor's done a lot of things McGuffie can't do in this game but this is a play on which we'd be better off with the little slasher (and even better off with, say, a junior TE who will hold this block and turn it into a big gainer).|
|M29||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||Miscommunication||Odoms||Inc|
|Threet thinks Odoms is running the wheel again; he pulls up on a hitch. Uh... (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Ortmann(-2) smoked one on one by the DE, forcing an early throw from Threet. Hit as he throws, the ball sails. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 5 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||5|
|Another good hole as Molk seals off the PSU DT. Koger gets beat, though, forcing Minor upfield into the hole and away from the attempted downfield blocks of McAvoy and Schilling.|
|M29||2||5||Shotgun trips||Nickel||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||1|
|Penn State just smokes this play. Molk beat, no downfield release, Schilling beaten too. Four PSU defenders meet Minor at the LOS.|
|M30||3||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Draw||Minor||-2|
|Penn State blitzes right into this; not a big fan of this on a third and short-ish when you've been running it all day.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 2 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Busted play||Threet||2|
|Possibly the worst two yard gain in history: Threet fumbles a bad snap, rolls out as a blitzing linebacker overruns him, fumbles the ball again, and then falls on it.|
|M19||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||12|
|Penn State caught slanting away from the play; the playside DT helpfully shoots past Molk going the wrong way. Gaping hole on the frontside, then, and easy blocks downfield for Koger and McAvoy that they actually make; I'll even provide McAvoy a +1 for his. Minor into the secondary.|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||PA Hitch||Stonum||6|
|Almost a long handoff except Stonum actually runs like three yards downfield. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|M38||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||QB off tackle||Threet||13|
|Molk(+1) gets the reach block again, sealing the DT well enough to crease the line. Blitzing WLB falls down and takes himself out of the play; Minor(+1) pops the MLB good, and I really wish we had some fast dude at QB as Threet lopes into the secondary.|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||3|
|This is kind of a similar play to the stretch except Minor is lined up on the other side of Threet and just dives straight up the field. This time the PSU DT guesses right and there's no help from McAvoy on the guy; Minor avoids the tackle, but he's been slowed by the avoidance and is closed in on by the unblocked guy on the backside and the DE, who beat Ortmann.|
|Protection is actually decent, but Threet pulls the ball down for the second time. He had room to roll around, maybe, but since he was trying to throw he didn't take it; he gets sacked. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Koger(-1) completely whiffs his block, which convinces Moosman to try to take the same guy, I guess, and leaves another defensive back totally unfettered as he attacks the ballcarrier.(CA, 3, screen.)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 11 min 3rd Q. This is actually a pretty respectable drive right here but it's killed by the opening field position: Avery Horn's crappy return set Michigan back. He gets out to the 28 or wherever the average is—it's around there—and Michigan has fourth and eight from the opponent 36 and should go for it. Note that Horn fields a kick six yards in his own endzone on the next KO, fumbles it, and STILL BRINGS IT OUT.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||15 (Pen-8)|
|Sheridan. Dammit. Molk beaten on this one, driven back such that there will be no crease; Minor tries to hop outside and does, but only because Ortmann(-1) tackled the DE. Holding is called.|
|M8||1||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||QB off tackle||Sheridan||0|
|DT again beats Molk. This can't be a halftime adjustment, because it likely would have happened at halftime. I guess PSU is just guessing right.|
|M8||2||18||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Sheridan||-2|
|DB/LB lined up over Koger shoots forward at the snap because it's Nick Sheridan, right, and he's not going to throw, and thus gets in on Sheridan's keeper immediately.|
|They slide the protection, leaving both backs in against a four-man rush; Ortmann(-1) loses a stunting DE and McGuffie(-1) uselessly piles on a cut DT, leaving him an avenue up the middle. Sheridan does his part by standing around waiting to get crushed. (I'm not charting this guy anymore... what's the point?)|
|Drive Notes: Safety, 17-19, 4 min 3rd Q. Sheridammit.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||-3|
|Penn State now in soft man with one deep, keying three LBs on the run. Both Moosman and McAvoy(-1 each) get driven back and there's no crease up the middle; Minor attempts to cut back and is swarmed.|
|We miss much of this play for a reply; when we come back Sheridan is tossing a one-yard hitch to Stonum; Stonum squeezes up the sideline for a few more (no damn charts)|
|This is way inaccurate but I don't know what Mathews is doing on this play either; he doesn't even look for the ball.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-26, 2 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||7|
|Threet back in. As soon as he goes out again charting is over. Grady the second back in the game this time and used as a blocker. Slightly different scheme on this play with the backside DT getting doubled by the RT and RG and blown back; the frontside guy is expecting a stretch and hops to the other side of Molk. Grady shoots backside to block the DE who's normally given the zone read threat. WLB is held outside by the keeper threat, and the MLB, also expecting a stretch, runs himself out of the play. Minor has a crease and uses it.|
|M28||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||-2|
|Molk(-1) beaten badly by the DT, ceding ground directly into Minor's path; Minor doesn't have a cutback with the backside DE selling out and unwisely tries to go around Molk instead of slamming it up the middle in an attempt to get like a yard or two. Threet could have kept this, too, I guess, though he's banged up. The announcers keep going on as if anyone would ever put Sheridan in the game by choice.|
|Ortmann(-3) smoked around the corner; Threet gets it stripped from the blindside; Penn State recovers. (PR, 0, protection 0/3)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-26, 13 min 3rd. Sheridan returns with Penn State holding a three-score lead; game over, who cares, I'm not doing the rest of this.|
Well, that fell apart.
Yeah, yeah it did. But I'm actually pretty encouraged. As I mentioned in the preview, Penn State's stats are a little hard to take seriously given the competition they've faced but that's still going to be a substantially above-average defense when the season's over. And, sure, Michigan stalled out after those glorious three opening drives but how much of that was Sheridan being generally overwhelmed? Here's the M offense as led by Threet:
- 86-yard touchdown drive
- 49-yard field goal drive
- 78-yard touchdown drive
- 36 yard drive to midfield
- three-and-out punctuated by blindside fumble.
This is not exactly Tulsa, but it is 253 yards and 17 points (with terrible field position) in just over a half of work. He stays in the game and Michigan could approach 30 and 400 yards against a good D.
Now… I think that's a little optimistic since Penn State adapted to Michigan's newly newfangled MINOR RAGE rushing attack, but that was actually pretty encouraging given the opponent, venue, and situation.
Speaking of Threet: Chart?
There's not a lot of it, with Michigan running successfully much of the day and Sheridan seeing the bulk of the second half. I'm not charting Sheridan anymore, by the way, as there's no point. We're very clear on his deficiencies by now and he won't see the field again after this year unless he's the last survivor of a meteor impact.
As always, the Threetsheridammit chart legend.
That's not a bad day, especially on the road against a good defense, but it's also not a huge sample size. Two of those "TAs" were drive killers where Threet cocked to throw, then decided against it and got sacked.
For guidance on what I mean by "MA": the MA in this game was the Koger wheel route that was well behind the receiver. Koger adjusted to it and dug it out, but Threet's throw took Koger off his feet, made it a difficult catch, and robbed Michigan of the opportunity for 10 yards of YAC. So it's not so bad that it's inaccurate, but it's not a run of the mill CA, either. Sometimes I would annotate CAs with a + or –; these are going to be the CA- events.
Here's your PROTECTION METRIC: 15/21, Team –1, Ortmann -5.
That might look ugly, but –5 of that game on two plays where Ortmann was beaten badly by Evans, one of which resulted in the game-killing sack/fumble. Everyone else was actually pretty decent.
(remember: 0 is uncatchable, 1 is a circus catch, 2 is a somewhat difficult one, and 3 is a routine one)
No drops; few opportunities to do so. One good catch from Koger.
Okay, and all that…
Is basically irrelevant for this game, as Michigan was heavily ground-based.
Does it worry you we're getting shut down after initial success?
This was similar to the Illinois game, where Michigan ripped off a couple of touchdown drives and then picked up bupkis the rest of the game. Trend? Coincidence? What?
My theory: Michigan is implementing portions of a whole gameplan trying to find something that works. They then practice the hell out of their plan and break it out, finding early success.
However, I, and I think a lot of other Michigan fans, thought "I really hope they have a curveball coming up" in the second quarter; they did not. Once you get past the game plan, Michigan has no backup. So we've seen teams adjust to the offense and have success stopping it.
When does the backup plan come in? Well, 1) when Threet's elbow gremlins step off, and 2) when these guys get past the training wheels stage and have a base they can fall back on. We've seen the offense expand, or at least move, as the season has progressed, but when they go back to the old stuff they haven't repped over the past few weeks they're not sharp. That sharpness will only come with time.
My hope is that this MINOR RAGE offense is something they can work from as a baseline. I think they've found an effective rushing offense that's going to move forward most of the time—even when rushing plays didn't work that well against PSU the result was usually a 2 or 3 yard gain, not the epic losses from previous games—and must be defended foremost. From there Michigan can add in racing stripes and a spoiler and maybe move away from the basement of total offense rankings.
I think they've got something to build on now. As long as the gremlins cooporate.
Minor leapt from fumblebot to likely starter from here on out. I thought Molk had a largely excellent day against a good opponent, and this was one of Threet's better days.
Threet's elbow gremlin. You're a dick, elbow gremlin! Hear me? You're a dick! Also, Ortmann got smoked on that last killer sack.
What does this mean for MSU and beyond?
I think I blew my wad on this already, but I think the ability of Michigan to run right at Penn State with pretty good success can be the foundation of a solid offense. If Michigan can force a seventh guy in the box opponents will have to run a man free, which Michigan should try to exploit deep with Stonum or Odoms, or run a two-deep zone with linebackers in the box, which should be bubble screen party time.
Before opponents other than Notre Dame could sell out on the bubble screen, keep two deep safeties, and hurt the running game. That's no way to win football games. Now we might have a basis for a real offense.
FREE PIZZA. Students with a vague interest in the basketball team (at last count this was around 411 of you) should be informed there is an open practice scheduled for 5:30. The magic words:
At 5:30 PM and pizza will be served to students at the Junge Family Champions Center connected to Crisler Arena. The open practice will begin at 6 PM and students will be allowed to watch from the bleachers. Michigan coach John Beilein will be mic’d during the hour long practice and afterward the team will remain on court for a meet and greet.
Might as well go, right? Get in on the ground floor.
Mighty Motor City. Yeah, even the Motor City Bowl looks pretty good at this point, especially since it would mean Michigan won four of its last five. But this is the sign of a bowl game with self-image issues:
Michigan, which has been in 33 straight bowl games, would be contractually obligated to play in the Motor City Bowl if the Wolverines earn the required six victories and assuming co-bowl founders Perles and Ken Hoffman select them.
"They would have to go," Perles said. "They have no choice."
Michigan wouldn't turn down the extra three weeks of practice, or the opportunity to revengify(!) the MAC.
Maybe not so scary? Minnesota is 6-1 so far but they've been pretty fortunate:
Minnesota's 4 wins outside the league were over Northern Illinois (a solid 4-3 MAC school), Bowling Green (a not-so solid 3-4 MAC school), Montana State (IAA), and Florida Atlantic (a 2-5 Sun Belt school). In Big 10 play, the Gophers knocked off Indiana (only one win versus a IA foe) and Illinois (4-3) and lost to Ohio State (7-1). However, in those 3 Big 10 games, the Gophers are only averaging 304 yards per game, while allowing an average of 419 yards per game. The biggest difference between this season and last is that the Gophers have forced 20 turnovers in just 7 games after forcing only 14 all of last season. Turnovers are a significant determinant of wins and losses in football games, but they are also very random events. If Minnesota's turnover capabilities dip, their record should follow suit.
Then again, they beat Illinois, and we know what Illinois did to us.
I agree, but then… I disagree! Change the clock rules one iota and you know one thing: the Wiz will be on your ass. The results to date in Clock Fiasco 2008:
Marty's weekly look at the average number of plays and time of a game for the past four seasons, plus the Week 7 numbers:
G Plays/G Time/G
2005 717 140.71 3:21
2006 792 127.53 3:07
2007 792 143.43 3:23
2008 460 134.62 3:11
Wk 8 52 136.67 3:12
Assuming the real number of plays is somewhere around 142, the 2008 version of More Commercials Plz is about half as damaging as Hated Rule 3-2-5e was. This is getting towards indisputable.
However, the Wiz characterizes this as a result of the "40/25 rule". I don't think the play clock is actually the source of most of the decline. IMO, the source is mainly the restart of the clock on out of bounds plays. Preseason projections had that change sucking 4-5 plays out of the game; this is the bulk of the decline.
So what's the solution? One man's suggestion: shorten the playclock by a few seconds, probably four. That'll reduce the time spent sitting around staring at opponents, and increase the number of plays without lengthening game time.
|3||Penn State (1)||23.2||0.8||--|
Total Ballots: 77
Texas kicker Anthony Fera is decommitting according to GBW, and this is his profile picture on the ol' Facebooks:
Using stunning powers of deduction, I deduct that Fera is highly likely to end up at PENN SHHHHTATE.
2) With KC Lopata done at year's end and Bryan Wright struggling through a number of back and hip injuries, a kicker in this class is a must. Back around the time Fera committed, the other main candidate was Floridian Brendan Gibbons, who remains uncommitted. I would assume Michigan takes a hard look at him.
3) I don't think this one is a major blow or anything—it's a kicker—but four decommits in one year is pretty rough, and there remains the possibility of one or two more. I said it would be bumpy; Michigan really needs to hang tight through the next few months, at which point the upward swing should be apparent and the toxic media environment will ebb significantly.
4) [PSU righteousness] I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT A SNAKE AND A LIAR JOE PATERNO IS ARGH ARGH ARGH. [/PSU righteousness]
BONUS Facebook news-like substance from Tom VanHaaren: Bryce McNeal's leaning towards Colorado and responded to an out-of-touch "Good luck at M!" wall post with "I'm not going there." Said response was phrased in such a way that made it clear he has no intention of recommitting ever-ever. He gone. Like Newsome gone.
Note: "Brian is a bad voter" is not useful feedback. It just makes me vastly ashamed with no idea how to un-shame myself. As for the feedback I did get: I know people are uncomfortable with Texas Tech because I am, but what can I put above them? Boise? A Pitt team that lost to Bowling Green? An LSU team with a shaky resume?
No, I don't think Georgia Tech is that good but I don't think a lot of the teams on the list are that good. I'm confused as hell.
I did move Northwestern down a few spots and Florida up a few; I also put Alabama back at #2 given that Georgia throttling, but I'm a little suspicious of them still given their consistent underperformance against meh teams.
Introducing some original reporting on MGoBlog: Tom VanHaaren is the official Recruiting Intern and will be publishing interviews with various prospects.
The Junior recruiting class for Michigan is starting to take shape, well before the current class has even wrapped up. As Michigan fans, we've heard of the speed and skill that a Rich Rodriguez built offense can bring. We are starting to see that take shape with recent commitments from Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. There's a good chance we could see more this coming weekend as well. I caught up with Jeremy Jackson to ask him what he thought about his season, other recruits, and Michigan.
TOM (MGoBlog): How’s your season going so far?
JEREMY (JJ): I'm trying to get to 5-4, that's a big accomplishment at my school.
TOM: What are your goals for this year and next year? Where do you want to be at when you go to UM?
JJ: I want to make the playoffs my senior year. They haven’t talked about speed, but my Dad just told me to keep working hard every day. I ran a 4.58 at camp, and I’d like to get that down to a 4.4 or 4.5. I want to improve my weight, and I can’t really improve my height at all, so I’ll focus on those. I’m assuming they want me to gain weight, they haven’t mentioned it. Rich Rodriguez isn’t influencing me on my speed either; it’s just a goal of mine. My route running and catching ability are my strengths right now, which helps.
TOM: Has it always been a dream to play alongside your dad?
JJ: I never really thought about playing with him coaching me, because he’s never coached my little league teams. It’s weird but it’ll be great.
TOM: Does your dad feel the program is moving in the right direction?
JJ: Oh yeah, he told me to look at this year, but don’t look at this year. He told me not to pay attention to the negative criticism, and don’t worry about any negative media. With this year and next year’s QB and recruiting class, Michigan will be fine. When I get there, they’ll be in good position. I just want to focus on High School.
TOM: If you were Rich Rodriquez right now, what would you tell recruits about the season?
JJ: Michigan is going to have the best facilities in the nation by 2010, Rich Rodriguez ran a great offense at WVU, he’s a winner, and it’s just a down year. And the defense, coach Schaeffer runs a great scheme. We’re going to have a great defense; it’s just a matter of time. Tate Forcier and Beaver are coming, and they’re both really good.
TOM: You have a strong tie with the team, but how do you think losing has affected some other recruits?
JJ: Seeing the season, they see other teams that are successful now; but they can’t look to see the future. They shouldn’t look for the future. It’s hard because a lot of people say things like “your team sucks.” That’s the worst part is when people say bad things about Michigan, other coaches and fans.
TOM: It seems like you’ve developed a friendship with Marvin Robinson and Ricardo Miller, do you guys talk a lot?
JJ: I Talk to Ricardo a lot, not Marvin as much. I talk to him and joke with him a lot. Not always talking about football, which I like.
TOM: Are there any other recruits from your class that you think would be a good fit, or that you really want on your team?
JJ: Christian Lombard, he’s a good lineman, I’ve been talking with him a lot. Dad wants me to talk to Travis Hawkins. I want to work on Dior Mathis and Devin Gardner. Ricardo’s been working on Lo Wood a lot; he’s been getting in his ear.
TOM: Florida seems to be the new addition to the pipeline, is there a buzz in Florida right now? What are the kids from Florida saying about Michigan?
JJ: They want to come. Look at Michigan's commits: Vincent smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Jeremy Gallon. It’s only going to get better. It’s going to spread. Ricardo’s from Orlando, he keeps working on kids. Michigan is going to grow there. Get real relationships with high school coaches. But people are always going to do negative recruiting; coaches are already talking to Ricardo trying to get him from Michigan.
TOM: Is there anything with the new Coaching staff that’s different from the old that stands out to you? Good or Bad?
JJ: Both staffs were nice. I see more energy from all the new coaches. Real fast tempo. The old coaches weren’t bad. The new coaches will be good though, everyone wants to win and they show it. I train with Barwis, he’s taught me how to train and eat. He’s a great coach. Barwis got me faster and stronger. He has speed training, it’s not really doing that much, you just learn how to run. They condition and lift hard, but the speed drills gets you faster, and it’s not too hard, but it works.
TOM: How does Rich Rod see you fitting in? I know you want to play early, has he said that’s a possibility?
JJ: Yea, just come up there and work hard every day. I have an advantage to learn all the plays; I’m going to ask my dad teach me the plays. My dad will help me with all the plays. Commit to the training. It doesn’t seem necessary to enroll early, I already have an advantage. I go home every night, and my dad will get in my ear if I don’t work hard.
TOM: It seems like Tate Forcier has a good chance of being your QB, have you reached out to him at all? What’d you guys talk about?
JJ: I talked with him and his brother Jason, I talk to Jason more. He’s excited. I talked to Tate about his brother and how I know him. I really like Jason, but my Dad said Tate is going to be good. My dad compared his arm to Chad Henne. He’s not going to sit around and run, he’s gonna pass more.
TOM: It seems like your class might have a chip on their shoulder coming in, or something to prove. What do you hope to prove or accomplish at Michigan?
JJ: I haven’t gotten that far. I know the juniors that are committed now; they all love Michigan and want to play there. The ‘08 class wasn’t Rich Rod’s recruits. 09 has gotten a little better, and ’10 is going to be killer.
TOM: Let me hear your pitch of why another player should choose Michigan?
JJ: Michigan traditionally has won the most games in college football, over 110,000 people are at every game, you’re always on national TV, there’s a great chance to play in NFL, the best coaches, best strength class, best facilities in ’10, the best education, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to go here.
Swanky. Reader Paul Scudieri sends in this freakin' awesome jack-o-lantern:
Itchy and Scratchy. The MSU brawl has hit the papers; MSU defenseman AJ Sturges is the kid in the hospital. As for this weekend, this is your operative sentence:
Charges stemming from the fight have not been filed and would not be filed until the end of the week or early next week, Daley said.
Dantonio, meanwhile, on MSU's actions:
He also confirmed that the East Lansing Police investigation of an off-campus fight does involve football players and is "disappointing" to him. The next word on that situation will be when the investigation is complete and a decision is made on charges.
One whole dollar says the investigation manages to stay open until around 7 PM Saturday.
What? Dantonio on last year's game (which, for the record, is over):
No pun intended, but we were up by 10 with seven minutes to go. And you know what? It isn’t over and it still is not over.
What does that even mean? What can it possibly mean? This is the most mystifying thing to come out of Dantonio's mouth so far, and that's saying something. No pun intended.
Tape review. In a terrific piece from Adam Rittenberg at ESPN, he sits down with a couple Northwestern players and goes over game tape with them. The article is especially relevant because the tape they're going over is from the MSU game. Interesting bits:
Sutton also looks for team-wide tendencies when he reviews film. "Last week, we played against Iowa, and their linebackers read the pulling guards, they read the linemen," he said. "These guys center on the running back, so wherever the running back goes, that's where these guys go. They don't green dog a lot. They blitz a lot.
"They're a fast-flow team. As soon as they see run, they're going downhill."
Green dog is when linebackers blitz after recognizing a running back is in pass protection. "We look at D-linemen, too," Sutton said, "and so far, what I've seen from each of them is they just bull-rush. They don't try and spin. It's just to see if you can contain on the bull rush."
That was before the Northwestern game; later in the article the players discuss how MSU broke tendencies (or at least learned to not tip their plays) during that contest. There's also discussion about Michigan State's tendency to nail players after the whistle.
I'm a gunner. Yost Built, in discussing MVictors' extensive Dave Shand interview, provides an awesome story about the incorrigible Dom Ingerson and Tommy Amaker's response. (We've got a swear involved, so beware.)
I was sitting behind the Michigan bench at Crisler and Dom Ingerson jacked a three from about 3 steps behind NBA range, made it, and then celebrated so much that his man beat him down the court and hit a three of his own. Amaker immediately called time-out and got the team in a huddle. He started diagramming a play (no doubt something brilliant like "Pass the ball to LaVell Blanchard and have him dribble out the shot clock and brick a three") or talking to the team or something when, all of a sudden--and keep in mind it was dead silent in the arena at this point--he spins around, points at Ingerson and screams, "FUCK YOU!"
Yes, folks, Brian Ellerbe's recruiting was worse than Amaker's. Considerably worse.
Beat that dead horse beat it beat it beat that dead horse yeah
Gary Danielson keeps banging the anti-spread drum, although that may be because he's the only man in America you can call for a quote about how the spread is dumb. Some guy in West Virginia did—complete with Rodriguez slam, natch—and got a litany of quotes to the same effect.
I only bring it up because this seems like the exact worst argument you could ever make about anything:
Danielson said the spread's weakness was displayed late in the Illinois-Missouri season opener when Mizzou needed one more first down to seal the win, "and on third-and-3 they had nobody in the backfield to run the ball except (Heisman Trophy-candidate QB) Chase Daniel.
These are the ways in which this argument is the worst argument ever:
- This event never happened. The only Mizzou third and three in the fourth quarter came with just under 13 minutes left on the clock. (Daniel threw incomplete.)
- At no point was Illinois within a score of Missouri, so "sealing the win" isn't exactly of paramount importance.
- This game between two spread teams (with garbage defenses, sure) featured 94 points and over 1000 total yards.
Oh, wait, this might be worse:
"I don't mean we're going back to grind-it-out football. I think every team will have to have their four-receiver sets, but I think in the future coaches are going to realize they have to be able to hand the ball to the tailback, too."
West Virginia ran 76% of the time last year, Northwestern, etc etc etc.
A few days ago when I pointed out that nine of the top ten offenses in the country were "spread" offenses some commenters protested that any grouping of offenses that included Illinois and Texas Tech was too broad to be meaningful. I agree with that. HOWEVA, Danielson groups Missouri and West Virginia and Michigan all together; anything in a shotgun with more than two wide receivers is the "spread." This makes his argument the "spread" is on the way out obviously untrue.
If Danielson was specifically addressing the Rodriguez-WVU spread there might be a case to make, but he'd have to make it in a significantly less dumb fashion. A fashion like this:
When Rodriguez got to Tulane with Tommy Bowden they threw the ball all over the place, but (a) it was in Conference USA, (b) they were excellent at the 3-step passing game, but defenses are better at defending against those passes now than they were a decade ago, and (c) his downfield passing game left something to be desired. And in the years since, it's not that Rodriguez is at heart a running guy, it's just that was what worked and it masked some of the passing game deficiencies. When I study the route combinations, they do not appear to be designed conceptually, and instead are a kind of grab-bag of a few routes here or there. You don't see his schemes organized of horizontal, vertical, and triangle stretches.
That's Smart Football, and that's something to be legitimately concerned about. I'm not sure if we'll get a read on whether or not he's progressing in this area with these quarterbacks and this offensive line, but I plan on pinging Smart Football's proprietor Chris after the year to find out if he's detected any adaptations.
Removed PA WR Todd Thomas(Pitt), OH OL Marcus Hall(dropped us).
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. Another quiet week, but this week will be a big one. The MSU game has an impressive list of visitors set up from both the 2009 and 2010 classes; at least one 2010 commit is expected and there might be a second.
But on to this week's stuff:
McNeal is gone.
I mentioned that I was of the belief MN WR Bryce McNeal was not likely to return to the fold, and others are in agreement:
McNeal, from Minneapolis Breck, will visit Colorado, California, Minnesota and Florida, with the Gophers holding the home-state advantage. The success Tim Brewster is having in his second season in Minneapolis has impressed McNeal, and inside word is that it will be hard to pull him out of his home state now. Some think Michigan still has a chance to get him back, but sources close to the program feel McNeal is gone.
I should also mention that there have been articles about LA DT DeQuinta Jones and TX WR Dewayne Peace stating they were something other than totally solid. Wheeee! Might be a bumpy ride as we approach Signing Day with negative bler bler around the program at its all-time peak.
Here's Peace looking 14 and talking about visiting Kansas and Oklahoma and such:
So, yeah, his "commitment" is more like "Michigan a declared leader." Sounds like he's probably going to stick, though.
I'm not sure how much lowdown Jamie Newberg has on Michigan's QB situation, but this would be weird:
Is Michigan done at quarterback with this recruiting class? I don't think so, and I am hearing that the Wolverines have an excellent chance at landing Miramar (Fla.) High standout Eugene Smith. USF is heavily in the mix, and some say Florida State has a shot at him as well.
Smith's been quiet in his recruitment and plans to take a decision to or close to Signing Day, so we won't know about him for a while. Given the current situation at QB (and the possibility for a couple of these recruits to play elsewhere) I would welcome a third guy in the class, but I don't know if Beaver and Forcier would.
FWIW, Newberg also reiterates the conventional wisdom on Will Campbell: he should recommit to M.
The 2010 news remains relentlessly sunny, at least. Michigan has commitments from WRs Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson already, and it sounds like they'll pick up a couple of guys to go against them in practice this weekend. One has already been discussed: Eagle Lake safety Marvin Robinson is widely expected to commit.
Here's Scout talent analyst Allen Trieu on Miller:
"Miller is kid who is shockingly put together for his age," Trieu stated. "He uses his strength to play a very physical game and blocks like a tight end. He also has good speed (4.5 in the 40) and has shown he can stretch the field. Certainly, when you talk about Florida juniors, Ricardo's name has to be mentioned right up there with the best of them."
And on Robinson:
"When I saw this kid at the Michigan summer camp two years back, I thought they had misclassified him as a sophomore-to-be," recalled Trieu. "He's built like an NFL player already, and the fact that he can cover ground well enough to play free safety is impressive. I cannot imagine there are many other kids out there with his size that can run, jump and catch the ball the way he does. It is easy to see why Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, USC and others have offered him this early. A kid that boasts those offers before the start of his junior season is definitely elite."
That's all old news, though. The new news is on another Floridian, one Lo Wood, a cornerback for Apopka (Jeremy Gallon's school) who is about as blunt as Robinson about his intentions:
“Michigan is my favorite and I sure hope they offer me. I just have always liked them. It’s big blue man and that great stadium. My teammate (Jeremy Gallon) is going there.”
He's expected to get that offer when he visits; he is one to watch for a commitment right then. Wood hovers around #10 in the extremely premature Florida state rankings for 2010 I've seen; this is another guy who will hover near top 100 lists when that time rolls around.
Here's Jim Stefani on Wood.
Moving in early.
Add FL S commit Mike Jones to the list of early enrollers:
“Oh yeah, my commitment is real strong. They have such a young team I feel I could come in and play because I have talent. And I’ll be enrolling early and be there for the spring.”
That brings the count to five; both quarterbacks and both Pahokee kids are scheduled to arrive in January.
Etc.: SC S Devontae Holloman has officially decommitted from Clemson and has M in a top four with three southern schools; SC DE Chris Bonds now looking like a longshot; a profile of NC OL Travis Bond.