"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Since Notre Dame is the first “real” opponent Michigan plays this year with any actual 2012 data, I’ll be forgoing a themed post and taking a deeper look at the Irish.
At this point in the season there aren’t quite enough results to truly adjust for opponents, but directionally, the strength of schedule is going to be relatively similar between the two programs. This should help offset the fact that until October, it’s difficult to do a quality strength of schedule offset.
Average points expected based on the offense’s starting field position vs actual points scored on those drives. Only drives non-half ending drives in the first half and second half drives within 14 points counted.
Michigan offense: 47 expected, 80 actual
Notre Dame offense: 55 expected, 61 actual
Michigan defense: 48 expected, 54 actual
Notre Dame defense: 51 expected, 23 actual
When Notre Dame has the ball, both sides have been pretty average. Both the Irish offense and the Michigan defense are less than a touchdown from the the expected output of a typical side. When Michigan has the ball both sides are decidedly non-average. Michigan is nearly doubling the expected output while the Notre Dame defense has allowed four fewer touchdowns than an average team would expect over the first three games.
In the last two weeks Notre Dame has pulled out wins while scoring a modest 20 points. I think Michigan will like their chances if Notre Dame only scores 20 this week. It will be interesting to see which matchup will be key in dictating the outcome, the highly publicized Michigan offense versus ND defense or the quieter matchup of the Irish offense against Michigan’s defense.
Early season results tend to skew to the offensive side of the ball. In a couple of weeks the opponent adjustment factor will take that but until then, you’ll see numbers that are a bit high and unadjusted.
Group: EV (points per game vs average-positive good, negative bad), National Rank
Michigan Offense: Rush: +8 (16), Pass: +7, (32)
Notre Dame Defense: Rush: +3 (24), +3 (28)
Michigan Defense: Rush: -6 (100), Pass: +0 (41)
Notre Dame Offense: Rush: +4 (49), Pass: +4 (43)
If you focus on the rankings instead of the absolute numbers you drr two pretty evenly matched teams. Michigan’s rush defense is the key outlier, but the Air Force game drives that to be a (hopefully) temporary outlier.
Defending Michigan’s run game will be a very different sort of challenge than Le’Veon Bell and the All-
Two-Stars the Irish shut down last week. The personnel is in place for the Irish, so it could very well come down to an RPS contest between coordinators.
Player: EV (National Rank), Win percent added (National Rank)
Denard Robinson-All: +47 (1st), +93% (5th)
Denard Robinson-Pass: +21 (16th), +39% (20th)
Denard Robinson-Rush: +26 (1st), +54% (3rd)
Everett Golston: +9 (84th), +23% (64th)
Despite only logging two games worth of countable time, Denard checks in at first nationally in points created with 47, and points created on the ground (including running backs) with 26. His passing has even held up well with 21 points created, a number only bettered by 15 other quarterbacks. Golston hasn’t been bad but he hasn’t set the world on fire either.
I didn’t bother to post the running back numbers. Due to suspensions and slow starts, none of the three prominent backs in Saturday’s matchup have registered much on a national scale.
Devin Funchess: +13 (22nd), +30% (39th)
Jeremy Gallon: +7 (102nd), +5% (326th)
Drew Dileo: +6 (129th), +6% (326th)
Devin Gardner: +5 (158th), +12% (154th)
Tyler Eifert: +7 (90th), +18% (85th)
TJ Jones: +5 (170th), -10%
Davaris Daniels: +4 (211th), +10% (195th)
Robby Toma: +4 (213th), +38% (19th)
John Goodman: +4 (216th), +33% (31st)
Notre Dame has spread the wealth around to a variety of receivers, although most Michigan fans are thrilled that there are four guys to list for us, even if Roy Roundtree doesn’t even crack the list. Funchess is the headliner with 13 points created, good for 22nd nationally. What the Irish receiving corps lacks for points created they make up for in success in high leverage situations. Eifert, Toma and Goodman are all top-100 at this point, although the WPA stat can vary wildly at this point in the season.
At this point I have Michigan as a slightly better team but the home field swings the margin to the Irish. While I have been on board with Notre Dame having a strong season, I don’t see them as the favorite Vegas has installed them. This game is a coin flip and as noted above, could swing on a variety of factors. Can Notre Dame contain Denard on the ground without exposing their sparse secondary? Will Michigan push for the pass with the same game plan they’ve deployed in their last three losses? Will there be a breakout game for either the Irish offense or the Michigan defense?
Hopefully Michigan can make it four in a row. Another dramatic finish would be great but a blowout in South Bend would be better. Love Michigan and the points but straight up the numbers call for a narrow Irish win. Hopefully they’re just a little bit wrong.
Michigan 27, Notre Dame 28
UMass Game Notes
D. Robinson: 28 plays, +26, +38%
F. Toussaint: 11 plays, +3, +7%
M. Wegzyn: 24 plays, -2, -3%
M. Cox: 11 plays, -1, -3%
Pretty boring stuff this week, the kind of game you want as a 45 point favorite. I didn’t bother to add the adjustment based on spread because it just would have been a straight line across the top.
The media has made a big deal about the 12 freshmen that have already played this season, mainly viewing it as a sign that the team is in bad shape. I think it's mainly because the 2012 recruiting class was so good, not because the returning players are performing poorly.
Guys like Funchess, Norfleet and James Ross would find some playing time on most teams. I don't see many Ray Vinopals out there - players only burning a redshirt because the depth chart at the position is a tire fire. Yet another interpretation is that it is a reflection of Brady Hoke's philosophy which differs from past coaches. I recall that you didn't expect so many to play. How did you interpret the situation?
Class of 2005
The twelve who have seen the field grouped into categories:
JUST THAT GOOD: Norfleet (at least in the context of KR), Funchess.
STANDARD-ISSUE GROOMING: Darboh, Wilson, Pipkins
GROOMING TOO BUT PROMINENCE IS WORRYING: Bolden, Ross
BAD SIGNS: Williams, Ojemudia, Richardson.
WTF: Jenkins-Stone, Houma.
Ideally you wouldn't have Demens's job under threat in his third year as a starter, wouldn't be playing a true freshman blocking TE who was a tackle last year, and would tell Ojemudia and Richardson to eat a bunch of lard and talk to me when you've put on 30 pounds. Everyone else is about what you'd expect.
I'm not surprised most of these guys are all seeing time. I thought Ojemudia would be forced onto the field because of Clark's issues; those turned out to be less severe than they might have been but Beyer's injury still forced M's hand there. After I predicted a redshirt in Richardson's recruiting profile, Michigan saw two corners leave the team and a third go down for the year, plus Avery has/had back issues. They need to have him out there. With four corners in the next recruiting class they don't absolutely need to have him get that fifth year.
The two real surprises are RJS and Houma, but while they're irritatingly burning redshirts so they can watch Matt Wile pound kickoffs into the endzone their presence on special teams doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.
[after the jump: more redshirts! sexy packaged plays! A dinosaur!]
PREVIOUSLY: FFFF—Notre Dame vs. Purdue
Notre Dame enters their contest against Michigan with an unblemished record and one of the year's most impressive victories—a 20-3 thumping of Michigan State in East Lansing—to their credit. Despite breaking in a new starting quarterback, the Irish have impressed on both sides of the ball, meaning we get another September full of "Is Notre Dame Back?" headlines and, on a more positive note, another hyped up matchup with the Wolverines.
Before I get into the film breakdown, let's take a moment to enjoy this quote from the ND-MSU game. Kirk Herbstreit dropped this gem while discussing the answer to the game's trivia question (Brady Quinn holds the ND-MSU record for most passing yards in a game from the '05 MSU overtime victory):
"That was the 'Bush Push' year in '05. That was a great year for Notre Dame."
The new standard for a "great year" for the Irish: A 9-3 season most easily identified by a soul-crushing loss. Delightful.
Anyway, on to the breakdown.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Brian Kelly is one of the coaches most synonymous with the spread offense, though he's not as much of a pure system guy as Rich Rodriguez or Dana Holgorsen. Kelly adjusted his offense back when Cincinnati went from statuesque pocket passer Tony Pike to scrambler Zach Collaros, and he's done much the same with the transition to Tommy Rees and Everett Golson—ND throws in a fair amount of under-center plays and is more run-heavy than Kelly's Cinci outfits.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Basketball on grass—the Irish running game almost entirely consists of inside and outside zone.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Right in the middle, actually. Notre Dame's adjusted pace last year was 47.9%, just a tick below the national average (50%, obvs).
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Golson earned the starting nod in large part because of his mobility—he's at his best when throwing on the run or making plays with his feet. He showed off his wheels against MSU, escaping the pocket and getting the edge on a six-yard TD run in the second quarter. Brian Kelly doesn't give Golson much in the way of designed runs, but he's dangerous when he breaks the pocket—I'll give him a 7.
Dangerman: Tight end Tyler Eifert finished second to Michael Floyd in all three major receiving categories last year with 65 catches for 803 yards and five touchdowns, and he's started the year with eight receptions for 120 yards and a TD. As noted by The Only Colors, Eifert is basically a wide receiver now—he lines up on the outside or in the slot, and if he has his hand in the dirt—rarely, at this point—it's as an H-back. He gives Golson quite a security blanket at 6'6", 251 pounds, and is a tough matchup for defensive backs and linebackers alike.
Quite surprisingly, Eifert didn't record a catch against Michigan State, but I don't expect we'll see that replicated going forward.
Zook Factor: The Irish punted on 4th-and-7 from the MSU 48, which earns some Zook points, but with a first-year starter at QB against a great defense that's pretty understandable.
[The rest of the breakdown after THE JUMP.]
News bullets and other important items:
- Desmond Morgan will play on Saturday and will start.
- Richard Ash and Stephen Hopkins are likely to play.
- Brandon Moore and Brennen Beyer are out.
“Thank you for showing up. I think we had a very good practice yesterday. The tempo was good. The learning was good. I think we played fast and we competed well against each other, so that’s a good sign. I think we’re excited, obviously, to play in a great venue and play great rivalry game. It started in 1887 and [we’ll] continue it and go from there.”
Does the intensity ebb and flow with the varying strength of opponents over the past few weeks or is it consistent?
“You’d like to have it consistent. I can’t say it’s always been consistent, but you’d like the consistency be there every week so you can improve.”
Has it been consistent?
“It’s been decent. I think it was very -- a little more intense, but we’ve been talking about that a lot. The intensity and your focus and your concentration is at a higher level. Your speed of playing the game’s at a higher level. So I think that part of it has been good.”
Formation notes: Nothing particularly new from Michigan except the Norfleet-end-around thing, which I just called 2-back. The plays run from it are being called "triple veer" since there's a third option there, not that I think any of these things are reads.
This was early; Dileo did not come in motion. Same formation plus Norfleet coming in == triple veer series against UMass.
Funchess means a lot more 2 TE formations. Reminder: TV never shows substitutions so I'm usually just describing the formation for the defense here, not the personnel. IIRC UMass was in 4-3 personnel the whole time; sometimes they would commit a LB to the slot, which I called nickel.
Substitution notes: Also nothing too unusual. Kwiatkowski was the starting TE and did pretty well; Funchess saw a lot of time; the usual WR rotation occurred. When Michigan pulled Lewan late they made the same flip they did at the end of the Alabama game, moving Schofield to LT, Omameh to RT, and inserting Burzynski at RG.
As promised, Hoke did not put any of the freshman linemen on the field. At this point we know who the staff is trying to redshirt. On offense those folk are: Braden, Kalis, Magnuson, Bars, Chesson, and Johnson. Norfleet, Funchess, Williams, and Darboh are playing.
|M35||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||3|
|Funchess off line, both TEs in two-point stance. Implies pass. M runs, shooting Funchess backside and sending Kwiatkowski to the frontside. Blocking bust as Barnum(-2) does not ever pop off the DT he is doubling with Mealer; unblocked LB in the hole. Kwiatkowski(-1) gets stuck between cracking down on this guy and trying to get a DB, eventually doing neither; Lewan(+1) gets big movement on his kickout when Toussaint(+1) bounces it outside. Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) had gotten nice movement on the backside.|
|M38||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||13|
|Omameh(+1) seals the UMass DT inside quickly, allowing Schofield(+1) to move out on a linebacker without delay. Either the hand or the keep works here; Denard(+1) keeps and manages to run through an ankle tackle attempt. Funchess(+1) is inline here and releases downfield, getting a block on a safety at about ten yards after running a fake dig. Barnum pulled through the hole but took a line way outside and did not block the last dude, the FS, who tackles. Denard is riding this mesh point longer [BWS].|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||7|
|MLB reads the Schofield pull and immediately starts heading for wherever he's going. SLB also reads the play and gets into the intended hole before Dileo can crack down on him. Mealer(+0.5) got a free release and pushes the MLB past where he wants to go, but Toussaint doesn't have anywhere to go on the playside. Omameh(+1) has blasted the backside DT back, though, and Funchess(+0.5) escorts a DE way downfield—mostly the DE being bad, not Funchess devastating him. Toussaint(+1) cuts back ably, juking a filling safety to his butt and picking up a nice gain. RPS -1? Nah, but I thought about it.|
|O42||2||3||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||TE Out||Kwiatkowski||16|
|Safety rolls down for eight man front, slot CB tight on the line. Both linebackers run right at the LOS on a straight dropback, Kwiatkowski comes wide open, Denard hits him, easy conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1) Kwiatkowski gets some YAC by running through a tackle.|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE Seam||Funchess||26|
|This is my candy now, baby. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). BWS picture pages.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q. I say, these chaps don't appear to be very good.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||14|
|Or LAZER, whatever. LB two yards inside of Gallon who takes off at the run on the snap, M throws the bubble, which is wide open. Gardner(+1) dominates the CB out of Gallon's way and it's an easy first down. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||-1|
|Mostly on Toussaint(-2). Kerridge takes on the playside DE a couple yards in the backfield, and Omameh goes upfield of that. Toussaint goes outside when a quick cut upfield is definitely positive yardage, possibly lots. Mealer(+0.5) had locked out a DT, Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) blew up the other guy. Instead Toussaint runs into an unblocked LB. Well... maybe. This does seem to be asking a lot of him to make a cut when he's going outside so clearly. But with Kerridge where he is Omameh has no shot of getting outside effectively and it's never a good idea to bounce when you have to go around stuff.|
|O41||2||11||Ace twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA Fly||Gardner||Inc|
|They're on to us: this is our passing formation. UMass brings both safeties up and the MLB reads the pull, shooting outside. Barnum's pulled and has two guys to block in space. He doesn't really block either. Denard has two options with his short stuff covered: bomb it against cover zero or start running around. He chooses the latter, missing Gardner by a few yards. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)|
|O41||3||11||Shotgun trips TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Rollout Fly||J. Robinson||Inc|
|A three-part flood on which the deep corner opens up. JRobinson is open as the CB to that side comes up on Roundtree's route, so Denard fires into the endzone. JRobinson is looking over both shoulders and may be able to do better than this, but Denard did leave it too far inside. It's still decent for a 40-yard pass. JRobinson has a shot at at a one-handed spear, but the S rakes it out. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||2|
|Barnum(-2) falls, allowing the DT right up the A gap. Toussaint manages to squeeze for a yard or two.|
|O43||2||8||I-Form 3-wide tight||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle drag||Gallon||Inc|
|UMass suckered and this will get turned up for a first down; Denard just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|O43||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch tight||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Hitch||Funchess||8|
|Lots of time as UMass sends three. Denard finds Funchess at the sticks and zips it in there, hard and low. This is between two defenders so I'll give Denard the benefit of the doubt. We don't get a replay, unfortunately, so I can't tell how good of a catch this is. I will go with my initial thought that is was really good. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||20 (Pen -0)|
|Backside DE does not contain, so Denard pulls. Neither LB to that side is scraping over the top, and then the playside guy is staring right at Denard with the ball and still runs away. Denard again ditches a shoe and still gets outside for a big gain. Uh... I guess Denard +1 for the read, but this was free yards from a bad, bad D. Roundtree(-1) gets a dubious holding call, but just let go, man.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|O40||1||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Pass||Screen||Toussaint||17|
|Both of the UMass LBs to the playside move towards the LOS as they see the OL release, but they move inside, which is not a good idea. Toussaint ends up in a ton of space; Barnum(+1) gets a block in space but I'm not sure he even needs to. Toussaint(+1) jukes a safety and picks up the first down; a second juke attempt at the sideline gets him tackled awkwardly. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1).|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB iso||Robinson||5|
|Barnum's guy fights inside of him, which is not a real good idea when you don't have any LBs behind you. Robinson cuts behind that as Lewan(+0.5) as eliminated the end; Toussaint(+1) gets through the other hole and redirects into a filling safety. Denard's cutting behind that when Barnum's guy tackles. I'm a little leery about Barnum's role in all this but I'll forgo the minus. Mealer(+0.5) got a nice release into the MLB and Omameh got some push on the other DT.|
|O18||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||7|
|I think they've worked on the veer the past couple weeks. Denard's riding it longer and the FB, here Kerridge, is flaring out immediately so that that DE cannot take him out. Kerridge(+1) books for the playside LB and blasts him; Denard(+1) reads that the end is not containing Toussaint and gives. That's about it. A safety fills; Toussaint(+1) moves the pile another three yards.|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||11|
|This seems like a blown read by Denard(-1) as they block the backside OLB and let the 3-4 DE free. He hugs Schofield's back and shoots down the line, so Denard is one on one with the safety for six. He gives anyway. The line has caved in the Minutemen but Toussaint(+2) has to run away from the DE and finds a hole outside. Safety fill is going to take him down after two yards but he busts a tackle and tiptoes down the sideline for six. Lewan(+1) got the movement that created the gap; Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the backside DT and erased any potential LB pursuit.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA quick seam||Dileo||66|
|The usual. Linebackers suck up, Smith wide open behind them, etc. Denard's throw is a bit in front of Dileo but not too bad; Dileo makes a nice catch and keeps his feet, stiffarming a safety down but getting caught from behind by one of their linebackers. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +2)|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||5|
|Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blow up the playside DT, and that's about it. Barnum had some issues with his guy but managed to fend him off; Smith(+1) was decisive.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M12||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||4|
|This is probably a called play and not a read as there is no unblocked player. The run fake takes out the linebackers but UMass is run blitzing their FS right into the hole. Denard(+1) jukes him and is about to hit the jets when an OLB who stunted through clean makes a shoestring tackle. Oooooh. Too bad. Schofield(+1) blew up the playside DT; Kwiatkowski(+0.5) kicked the other guy well. RPS -1, but I like the creativity. Without this call on this is a nice gain.|
|M16||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Out||Jackson||INT|
|The fugly INT. If accurate this is a fine idea. It's not accurate. Also insert complaints about Jackson separation, or lack thereof. (INX, 0, protection N/A) Wow... on replay this route sucks. Jackson's post fake is basically vertical.|
|Drive Notes: Defensive Touchdown, 21-10, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||6|
|Giving it by alignment, M takes it. Aggressive DB gets upfield of Gardner and manages a shoulder tackle that gets Gallon off his feet. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M31||2||4||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||24|
|UMass puts one of their LBs over the second slot guy and goes six in the box, thus opening this up. The power of a stupid little play. UMass gets out of a lane and this opens up big. Toussaint(+1) gets a good LB block; Dileo(+1) does work on another LB, and Mealer(+1) gets a safety in space. Robinson(+2) sets his blocks up well and sets sail before that #9 again prevents a Michigan TD.|
|O45||1||10||Ace twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||25 (Pen -15)|
|LB blitz sent and picked up by Toussaint, who goes low. Mealer is backing out of a block and makes contact at the same time, which draws a chop block flag because they're throwing that on anything that even vaguely resembles a cut block with two guys. Unfortunate. That pickup gives Denard a ton of space, which he decides to use. Please be a trend. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|M40||1||25||Ace trips bunch||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||12|
|Always works; works. Lewan(+1) donkeys the corner, Gallon goes outside, safety fills. (CA, 3, screen) RPS +1? Sure.|
|O48||2||13||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||6|
|Lewan(+1) blows one DT off the ball; Barnum(+0.5) finishes sealing him. Williams(+0.5) takes on a DE, then moves to the second level, passing the DE off to Kerridge. Williams can't quite lock that LB out, though, and he falls to tackle Smith just as he's breaking through to the secondary with Omameh(+0.5) as a safety-destroyer in front of him. Potential TD otherwise.|
|O42||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||Okie||Pass||Drag||Gardner||42|
|UMass sends the house. Unblocked guy right up the gut who Smith blows up, allowing Denard time to step around and up into the pocket. Everyone else is taken care of. Gardner's drag has taken him past a LB; Denard hits him. Gardner then just barely outruns #9 (who can play) and tiptoes the sideline for a spectacular TD. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3, special Smith commendation issued)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-10, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M45||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||8|
|DL overplays to the playside here and the WLB is sucked out to the corner because Denard must be contained. Toussaint(+1) finds the cutback after Omameh(+1) shoots an aggressive DT past his hole. Schofield(+0.5) walls off the backside DE. Barnum and Mealer(+0.5) each combo to the second level.|
|O47||2||2||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||10|
|Barnum(+1) has a one on one matchup with playside DT and gets motion on the guy, driving him back a couple yards. SLB runs himself outside aimlessly. Williams and Lewan double playside DE and kick him out; would like to see Lewan climb to second level but this may be short yardage approach. Toussaint(+1) beats a filling safety to the edge and turns a first down into a small chunk. Mealer(+1) got a free release and beat up the MLB.|
|Nice play by the MLB to find the hole immediately, shooting past Mealer's block and arriving to tackle just as Kerridge is kicking out the SLB. Mealer(-1) could have taken a better angle to the second level, but this is mostly an RPS -1. Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) had provided a nice big hole with one on one blocks.|
|O36||2||9||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle throwaway||Roundtree||Inc|
|Everyone covered; LB specifically containing this play. Denard pumps and escapes outside, then just dumps it as he nears the LOS and it becomes clear he doesn't really have a running lane. Assumption is this was just putting the ball in the turf. (TA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O36||3||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||36|
|Has forever as UMass rushes three, then sends a spy late. Denard eventually decides to use those feet things, at which point laughter happens. Kerridge +1 for getting the downfield block that ends any chance of pursuit. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2, Denard +3 on ground)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-10, 4 min 2nd Q. They get it back with 2:02 to go and run a two minute drill.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Wheel||Smith||19|
|Play action with the three WRs running vertical. LB has to sink into the boundary route, opening up a wheel for Smith; Denard floats it in nicely. Smith(+2) then stops on a dime and spins inside the tackle attempt, turning eight yards into 20. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Cross||Gardner||Inc|
|Same route Gardner had for a TD. No pressure this time and Denard just misses this one. This was going for 20+ too. (IN, 0, protection 2/'2)|
|M36||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||-3|
|Denard appears to be looking for a Jackson hitch. There's a LB under it and he decides against the throw. LB then turns his back to chase downfield; Denard decides to run. Good decision, but he bumps into Mealer before he can get his motor running and falls. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2) Scramble awarded because this was a good idea that went bad; if Denard escapes the pocket he's got at least ten.|
|M33||3||13||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Cross||Dileo||16|
|This one is in between Dileo's numbers; route is a yard or two short of the sticks but the throw allows him to turn it up for the first down easily. No pressure. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||In||J. Robinson||9|
|Has just forever and eventually zings it to JRobinson just in front of a defender. Probably should have looked for Smith, who is abandoned, but he hit the guy so okay. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O42||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Hitch||Dileo||9 + 15 pen|
|Another pump, this one at Funchess on a little out; he decides against that and nails Dileo on a hitch. Against better opposition these delays may be a problem. Here Schofield(-1) did get beat; Robinson gets a faceful of DE. (CA, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1) This turns into a dodgy flag.|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||16|
|LBs way back, expecting pass and backing out at the snap. As soon as Omameh(+1) shoves the playside DT way down the line this is easy money. Mealer(+1) got a good downfield block; Robinson(+1) is fast and stuff and knows to burrow behind Mealer. RPS +2.|
|O2||1||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||0|
|Kwiatkowski(-1) does not get any push as a lead blocker and ends up stalemated; Kerridge runs up his back but can't actually contact an opponent, and Toussaint has no crease.|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Penalty||Illegal sub||N/A||1|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Speed option||Robinson||1|
|If this is a real option, Denard should pitch(-1), but doesn't. He gets tackled by a blitzer in too quickly on Lewan(-1), the fumbles(-2) as he reaches out to the goal line. Lewan, or someone anyway, recovers. Ah, hell. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-13, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun trips Te||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||13|
|DE is not containing Toussaint; give. That's about it. Rest of the D is in the box in case Denard keeps. Gardner, Jackson, and Roundtree(+0.5 each) all get okay to good blocks on DBs downfield. RPS +1.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||11|
|Identical thing to other side. DE does not show hard upfield, give. MLB gets outside of Dileo but for naught as there's a ton of space. Lewan(+1) pancaked the other guy, that's why. Jackson(+1) gets a good extended block downfield and Toussaint(+1) takes what's he's given, accelerating past fallen bodies until the sticks. RPS +1.|
|O17||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||-1|
|UMass slants; this catches Mealer(+1) but surprise but he adjusts to starts shoving the slanter by the play. Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) had comboed the backside DT and climbed to the second level; Toussaint gets past the Lewan block, downshifts to hit this gaping hole... and gets roped down by a hand. Bad luck, that.|
|O18||2||11||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Slant||Gallon||Inc|
|Batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O18||3||11||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Pass||Post||Roundtree||18|
|Excellent time; Denard finds and nails Roundtree on a post the safety probably should have covered but does not. Must have overplayed the route further inside. Not sure if this is too far outside or if Denard is playing it safe but he does hold Roundtree up some. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 49-13, 10 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||11|
|Playside DT ends up coming through the line but not sure if that's a big problem since by doing so he gets shoved way past where he wants to be by Mealer(+1). Toussaint cuts behind. Barnum(+1) is doing to the same to the next guy. He cuts behind. Kwiatkowski(+1) has blown the last guy two yards downfield; Toussaint(+2) bursts outside. He anticipates and leaps past the safety's attempt to fill, then jukes a corner, and he's in the clear. Pursuit takes him down at the sticks.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple veer around||Norfleet||14|
|Norfleet on the outside, he motions in and takes a quick handoff. Unblocked DE to that side is playing an inverted veer and lets Norfleet by. JRobinson(+1) cracks down and blows up the playside LB; the press corner goes with him. Gyarmati is leading now and has only the S to block. He does so; Norfleet tries to shoot past him, ankle tackle. Nice play by that S; if he only maintains leverage this might be six points. RPS +2.|
|O47||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||3|
|Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) bury the playside DT. Williams(+1) shoves the DE outside and then comes down on a linebacker; Gyarmati finishes kicking the DE. Barnum(-1) freaks out when Wiliams's guy starts moving upfield and hits him instead of continuing outside. He bounces back off this; Toussaint runs into him. That delay gets safeties involved; Toussaint gets what he can surrounded by white shirts.|
|O44||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||0|
|DE splits the two runners very well, getting Denard(-1) to keep and still tackling. Barnum(-1) flat lost his guy one on one, straight up, no slant, and he penetrates to prevent any Denard funny stuff.|
|O44||3||7||Shotgun empty TE||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Cross||Gardner||6|
|Back out from heavy pressure look to three man line. Gardner sets up on a hitch and then starts drifting across the field; Denard doesn't like the deeper look and zings it underneath. A tiny bit short of the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O38||4||1||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Rawls||18|
|They've replaced Lewan. Schofield(-0.5) now at LT, he does not get his DL moving and allows some penetration that ends up delaying a pulling Burzynski. Gyarmati(+1) plus a guy on the edge, who does not keep the edge; Rawls(+1) sees that and heads out there. He breaks contain, picks up a bunch of yards, and then lowers the boom on a pretty hefty dude to finish it off.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple veer give||Rawls||4|
|Playside DE goes straight at the pulling G and submarines him; Kerridge is trying to seal him inside so that the G can get out but he's got no shot. That's a two for one for the D. Corner is now the contain guy. He sees Rawls has it and is agile enough to crash down to tackle. Rawls takes a hit from the guy Burzynski couldn't block, too. RPS -1, but I like the concept.|
|O16||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Triple veer PA||JRobinson||Inc|
|Backside DE is going straight for Denard and gets instant pressure. Denard throws off his back foot at an open-ish Robinson and misses. Torn between IN and PR here. He had few alternatives and didn't put up a punt, so PR. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O16||3||6||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Out||Roundtree||7|
|WCO precision route with Williams taking a corner out and opening up a small window for the conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||9|
|UMass blitzes from the edge; Kerridge(+1) does a good job to come down on him and clock him, clearing the edge. The edge should be win UMass but the LB just biffs it, taking a crappy angle. Smith(+1) outruns him to the corner and gets in. An RPS -1, probably, but results.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 56-13, 3 min 3rd Q. Backups the rest of the way, including the walk-on OL. Charting ceases.|
Indubitably, I say.
You said these chaps weren't very good after the first drive.
Oh, right. They're not. Let's do the numbers. So I've got these—
[Hennechart legend is updated.]
|2011 through MSU||13||66(12)||11(1)||34(1)||17||2||3||10||4||55%|
|2011 after MSU||9||77(9)||7||17||9||6(1)||5(2)||9||5||69%|
An easy day with a lot of open guys and a few worrying misses. Those were the INT, the cross to Gardner flung over his head, and the little Gallon drag similarly flung to Tacopants. The fourth one was a bomb on which he was long, which happens. But hey no BRs (UMass covered no one so there could not be any) and some scrambles (UMass managed to both not cover anyone and give up huge running lanes).
As I was saying, indubitably.
BOOM 1987 CEREAL COMMERCIAL
This is burned into my head.
Let's talk about actual things. Denard accuracy monitoring?
Still feeling pretty good about it. Though UMass was actually a slight step back in the Downfield Success Rate metric, its impact on our hypothesis ("Borges + Denard == Tate Forcier passing") is positive since we need more data here.
He's still good for the one or two ARGH NO throws a game nothing will ever get him to stop. Look at those Throwaway numbers: three games, one ball I thought was not an attempt to complete a pass. Four more got filed as scrambles, but that's still a vanishingly low percentage of balls tossed away. Everett Golson doubled that in one game against MSU.
We got some more screens.
Yes, as Heiko's on-going, not-serious-but-actually-deadly-serious bubble/lazer-off with Borges highlights, Denard is throwing more stuff at or behind the LOS. The four throws marked as screens in the last game are almost half of Denard's output from the entire second half of last year.
Bubble bubble yes but there was also an honest to God screen-screen that Toussaint turned up for a bunch. Michigan hasn't been throwing those under Borges because when Denard has tried it he has gotten pressure in his face and launced balls well over the intended receiver's head. Maybe that's technique, maybe it's the fact that he's maybe six foot tall and there is no angle that he can throw the thing that won't get stuffed back in his face and not overshoot the mark dangerously.
On the linked screen above, Michigan actually gets it done by blocking the end and shoving the DT, giving Denard a window. The horizontal aspect also helps prevent disaster—previously a lot of these RB screens were going straighter up the field. I'm still not sure how much that's ever going to be a staple since teams tend not to blitz Denard hard, but having that option is a nice.
Also: throwback. Believe it.
What happened on the next play after that bubble you linked above?
UMass put about five and a half players in the box and got a QB draw in their face for 24 yards. Panacea, no, but an effective play that opens up the rest of your offense when people on the edge are accounted for man-to-man.
Denard doing stuff with legs?
Michigan's been working on the veer. Michigan has moved from a stationary quick pull to the more common hop-hop-hop-decide process where the QB rides that fake as long as possible and only makes a decision when he feels the DE has committed. Even when he doesn't commit that movement and delay gets results on the second play of the game:
You'll notice that the pulling G actually runs by that DE (and then widens out so far that he ends up blocking a guy already being blocked many yards from Denard, so they're not exactly a machine yet).
Michigan's also screwing around with some additions/alterations, like the Norfleet end-around series Michigan broke out in the third quarter.
There the DE is like "veer veer veer" and Norfleet just zooms by him. Once he's outside of that, a big gain is guaranteed. Michigan came back with a handoff and a play action pass off that, neither of which were as successful.
This was kind of like the Minnesota game last year when Michigan test-drove their sprint counter against the twitching corpse of a long-dead opponent. I like seeing new stuff enter the offense, but I'd rather bring it out against Notre Dame. What's the deal with all the secrecy around the program if they're just going to bring out the toys against the UMasses of the world?
Offensive line. 43 runs in this one, so numbers should approach normal… and would if I hadn't chalked up many of the yards gained as UMass being UMass. Remember that it's the ratio that is important for the OL. On a lot of plays they do okay and get a push.
|Lewan||7.5||1||6.5||Dominating in this game.|
|Barnum||7||6||1||Pretty concerning. Fell down some, got straight up beat a couple times.|
|Mealer||9||1||8||Mobility in space a pleasant surprise.|
|Omameh||7.5||-||7.5||Beating up on little guys, but Nix will be a load.|
|Schofield||3.5||0.5||3||Got beat once in pass pro, but fine. Think people got a little panicked because of Alabama.|
|Funchess||1.5||-||-||HE DOES EVERYTHING (against UMass sometimes)|
|TOTAL||39||10.5||79%||Meaningfulness: not meaningful.|
|Robinson||10||5||5||Hit him for the fumble.|
|Toussaint||13||2||11||Did a lot of bouncing, hit a lot of holes, juked some guys.|
|Rawls||1||-||1||Lowered the boom on a pretty big dude.|
|Smith||4||-||4||Spin move was sweet.|
|Kerridge||3||-||3||Insert complaints about scholarship FBs.|
|TOTAL||31||7||24||Gyarmati was also +1.|
|Protection||32||2||94%||Team –1, Schofield -1|
That's what happens when you average almost 7 YPC without a run longer than 36 yards. Note also the near-flawless day in pass protection. Denard had forever, and on that 36 yard run he had two forevers before finally deciding to take off.
So, yeah. Complete obliteration of a foe that can only be obliterated and causes panic if you do not obliterate them. File under necessary and not meaningful.
POWER OL POWER RANKINGSSSSS
Barnum had problems?
Yeah. He fell down a couple times; once he just never popped off a double and exposed Toussaint to an unblocked LB, and late on a veer-type run he got beat straight up. By ND transfer Hafis Williams, so not a total scrub, but from a confidence perspective guys who transferred away from the team you're about to play are not the best guys to beat your OL.
Last game I thought Omameh struggled and Barnum did pretty well, so jury is out on both guards.
Toussaint's pretty good again?
Yeah, man. Independent of the opponent he tiptoed the line for a TD and I love a particular aspect of this zone that cuts all the way across the field. Try to figure out what it is:
If you guessed "the little hop he takes when he perceives that an ankle tackle is coming from behind," you win an MGoPoint.
[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]
A bit of a fuss was made about Gardner only bringing in 8 of 20 targets this far. I'm missing one, but of my 19 he's got seven with no shot and three really tough ones. It's somewhat about his routes, but I chalk most of that up to "is deep threat".
I've mentioned this already this week, but Dileo is increasingly a guy who I'm comfortable with getting lots of playing time. He's not big, he's not super fast, but he catches everything in his area…
…and has a knack for keeping his feet as he does so. Usual slot-dot drawbacks apply; Dileo adds a fourth or fifth guy who I think is a pretty good receiving option.
QB Oh Noes returns?
A point of order is in… order after I saw a bunch of @replies in the twitter and BWS pointed out the vast open Funchess TD. QB Oh Noes was coined here to specifically refer to plays on which Denard himself takes a step towards the line as part of a run fake and then backs out. The PA fake made here:
Is something RR did a bit but not a ton. Borges, on the other hand, does run it a ton, and did last year as well. Now that he's got Funchess running down that seam expect even more of it.
[Also, BWS points out that Omameh is not quite Air Force-level illegally downfield. Illegal downfield: go for it, OL!]
Special commendation Vincent Smith needs out-of-table love.
"Why isn't Norfleet playing more?" the message boards ask. That is why. Fingerguns Smith.
BONUS: that's the play of which Borges said this:
I’m knocking on wood. I never assume anything, but his footwork is like night and day. He’s pulling balls down now and working up underneath the pocket and taking off and buying beats. He had a play during the game and it was a zero blitz where he got underneath the rush, gave Vince a chance to chip off a blitzing linebacker and threw the ball to Devin for a touchdown. A year ago he would have run backwards, and they’d have chased him for about an hour, and he’d probably end up throwing it out of bounds.
I'm ready to upgrade the Denard Can Throw hypothesis to a theory if he can just do it on Saturday.
BONUS BONUS: Smith spin move swag featuring Denard touch pass.
If you're really mean and stuff, Barnum could have done better.
What does it mean for ND and the future?
Sadly, not much. The worries about the OL will go one way or the other on Saturday and I'm not sure which one it will be. Schofield's going to come in for scrutiny—I'm guessing he handles it fine. More concerned about the guards.
Meanwhile, inching towards the idea that Denard can throw… sidling up to it, not looking at it directly, maybe giving it an eyebrow. Saturday is maybe not an acid test against a young secondary featuring three position switch starters, but after last year yeah it's an acid test. Let's do some stuff not on Gary Gray's back.
“ ’Sup. Where’s your glasses?”
I didn’t want to look cerebral today.
“It’s up to you.”
MGoYouAreStaringAtMeButIHaveNothingToSay: So. Norfleet.
“You’re not even going to ask me about my daughter first?”
MGoOfCourse: HOW'S KINDERGARTEN?
“She learned about caterpillars. And you know what the word of the day is? Metamorphosis.”
They haven’t gotten to bubble screens in kindergarten yet? [Ed: This was not me.]
“Psh. Bubble screens. No. They blow bubbles.”
Are you expecting a metamorphosis from last year’s performance against Notre Dame?
“I’m hoping it’s better than that. Holy smokes that was just awful.”
What didn’t go right early last year that all of a sudden clicked in the fourth quarter?
“Well we completed some passes. That’s the thing, when people are crowding the line of scrimmage like that, kind of forcing the issue. They were keenly aware of what Denard had done the year before. They restructured their defense to kind of stop him and force the issue with the passing game. We just weren’t early on completing many. We made a couple adjustments at halftime with the run game, and it helped us a little bit, but they played good, too. They came out ready to play and, you know, we were still so unpolished at that time -- not that we’re real polished now, but we did not play well at all and they played well.”
“Well obviously you know this is a big week, and it’s a great, great football game and it’s going to be a great test for our defense, and just starting out I can tell you our guys are really excited. We as coaches are really excited, so we are looking forward to playing this game.”
How impressed were you with how Notre Dame played against Michigan State?
“Very impressed. They’re a very good football tam. They can run the football. The quarterback really impressed me with his ability to throw the football as well as he puts a lot of pressure on you when he takes off scrambling, and he can run. They’ve got some fast running backs. They’ve got a pretty good thing going.”
Is preparation for them different this year compared with last year?
“Uh, you know I don’t know if it’s any different prep. They’ve changed a little bit but they’re still Notre Dame. They want to run the football and they want you to make mistakes so they can hopefully get a shot on you and try to test your coverage with their speed and take shots down field. So I think it’s a lot alike. ”
Sponsor note. Chicago-based Wolverines headed to South Bend: there is a bus for you. Sports Power Weekends has a couple headed out from The Diag Bar & Grill [located here]. 59 bucks roundtrip gets you a spot, various goodies to and from, a tailgating spot, and the opportunity to collapse in a frazzled heap after something ridiculous happens at the end of the game. Alternative: traffic, not hopping on your MGoBlog mobile app to celebrate/commiserate.
Eating: almost eaten.
I'll plug this one more time during the last-day frenzy, but thanks to the work of the community around here Martavious Odoms is nearing his all-or-nothing 35k goal for his Pahokee kickstarter venture. The Daily interviews Odoms about his project and its goal:
The goal is to install a garden that can be self-sustaining — a project that values community involvement as much as getting food on tables. The funds raised will be used to buy the empty the plot, pay for tools and seeds and to hire people from the community to work on the garden.
Odoms would also like to see the money help give kids in the community after-school programs or to teach residents how to sow their own garden.
“This could give someone an opportunity to be part of something outside of their family to feel like they’re making a change, making a difference,” Odoms said.
The staple crops? Collared greens, green beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes and okra, just to name a few.
“All the stuff that people eat here down here in the south,” Odoms said.
As of this instant, Odoms is a little over 3k away with eight days left. Get in on it.
TWIS and such. I went a little overboard on this week's This Week In Schadenfreude. Reconstructing the anarchy of a Colorado gamethread in which they're down 48-0 at one point became absorbing. Also, when the RCMB blows up they blow up spectacularly well:
WHAT DID I WATCH
I am completely terrified after witnessing the biggest failure of a game in my whole life.I really cannot even grasp what just happened. Are we really this bad? Is our offense completely non existent? Maxwell has had 3 years and this is what we get? I feel like god hates us. I live for Spartan Football, eat, breathe, sleep Spartan Football. I work overtime in the summer just so I can have enough money for season tickets and I get rewarded with this? What the f--- was that game? 3 points and never crossed their 30? Bell losing all Heisman talk.I felt like a snake bit me in the beginning and slowly but surely the venom ate away at my body. Yeah I know I will get down voted to hell for this but what I saw tonight was not good and the glimpses of all the bad are going to kick us in the ass this year
Applause. Unironic, tear-wiping applause. And there's like twice as much of this guy in the actual post. The RCMB is the John L Smith of message boards, except it can never be fired.
I promise I won't fire off more than a twitter zing or two this weekend if it goes poorly. TWIS next week: ND Nation versus You Guys. Please be ND Nation.
Gardnerceiving. He does not like the blocking:
"I don't feel like I'm ever going to be a person who loves to block," Gardner said with a laugh. "That comes with the position, but I don't think I'll ever love that."
He did pretty well in the UMass game from what I can see, FWIW. He is still a QB in his mind:
"I know I'm a quarterback, but as I've said in previous weeks, I'm helping the team, and I'm doing well."
We won't see where everything is in re: Devin QB until next fall camp. They just about have to move him back for spring since they'll only have Bellomy left. For now, he's got a potential breakout day coming.
They took my brains, but they gave me this extra G. Man, guys named "Gregg." This site has bombed Gregg Easterbrook in the past when… well, whenever he writes about college football, because all he ever writes about college football is about how dastardly it is that anyone would ever take another job. Occasionally he diverts from that topic to express bafflement that the laws of economics apply to it; mostly it's just the horror that anyone would accept having their salary tripled.
Anyway, the other guy named Gregg is paid to write things about sports stepped his game up recently:
Seriously? RT @GreggDoyelCBS: How can Bo Pelini demand toughness of his players? He had a tummy ache AND LEFT A GAME IN AN AMBULANCE
To his credit, he did back off of that after everyone called him an idiot. To his discredit: whoah, mega #SPROTSTAKE. Corn Nation says this is a "concern about news breaking in the twitter world," but the easily made error is easily corrected by a flurry of at replies comparing the offender's intelligence to that of a chipmunk. At least Doyel can recognize when he's craving acorns. Easterbrook has never shown any sort of similar capability.
Etc.: Jerald Robinson gets probation for his minor property crime. Orson on UF-Tennessee. Purdue has verbal commitments from a Dwayne Johnson—unfortunately an OL who will not get many opportunities to ask if you smell what he is cooking—and a Johnny Thompson—yes, a LB. Basketball season tickets on sale now. Derf. Individual three point shooting is pretty jittery. Hardaway should bounce back.
Chandler Park Academy wide receiver Csont'e York has largely flown under the radar during the recruiting process, and as a three-star he's one of Michigan's lesser-heralded commits. The Charter School Conference isn't heavily scouted, so I was curious to see how York performed over the course of a full game. On Friday, he caught two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown and added a two-point conversion as CPA fell in double overtime to Old Redford Academy, 26-20.
To discuss York's performance, it's best to add some context. This was lower-division football, and it showed; I lost count of pre-snap procedure penalties when they hit double-digits, both teams put the ball on the ground, officials missed spots by ten yards, and quarterback play was... not stellar. Chandler Park's strategy also left something to be desired—despite having York, the lone BCS-level prospect on the field, facing corners eight inches shorter than him, CPA only targeted him five times during the game, three of those coming on the same drive at the goal line.
As a result, York spent much of the game run-blocking, acting as a decoy, or running routes downfield without much hope of seeing the ball. These highlights reflect that, and trust me, I could've added a solid five minutes of York jogging downfield to this reel. York is easy to spot—he's the one with the maize arm sleeve, maize gloves, maize shoelaces, maize stripes on his socks, and maize mouthguard:
[Hit THE JUMP for the full scouting report and photo gallery.]
I'm feeling quite a bit better about Michigan's DL performance now that I'm actually going over the tape. They're not doing much more than it seems like they did live, but since no actual NT types are getting much time and a lot of the problems rest squarely on the shoulders of things like "let's see if Mario Ojemudia is a 3-4 DE" and "let's see if Frank Clark is a three-tech." They turn out not to be.
Hopefully we can file this under experimentation and things won't be so bad when the big boys are actually in there. If Michigan goes long stretches without Washington, Campbell, or Pipkins on the field against Notre Dame I'll be surprised. And possibly catatonic.
Not everything can be waved away by calling it mad experimentation, unfortunately. Michigan's linebackers, be they beardy veterans or baby-fresh newcomers, are not making plays. One particular example leapt out because I'd just seen the UMass LB read Michigan's sprint counter, shoot past a blocker, and fill.
Thing I'm talking about == watch Mealer and the MLB
UMass gave up seven yards because all their guys ended up downfield but that's not on the LB.
On UMass's next drive they'd run a play that's very close to that sprint counter. It's just the plain ol' counter, but it's got a pulling tackle that leaves for the wide side of the field on the snap, a linebacker who could be but must not be looking at that, and positive yardage for a team that has struggled to find any.
Late first quarter, second and ten, UMass comes out with trips and a TE to the boundary (short side). Michigan is in the nickel look they spent almost the whole day in. Your DTs are Brink and Black; your ILBs are Bolden and Ross. Ryan is the DE who gets run at.
The tackle at the top of the field pulls.
My great and powerful desire in the above frame is for a Michigan linebacker to read that pull, bug out for the frontside, and hit whatever hole the tackle shows up in. I've been thinking of Notre Dame's linebackers this week since Notre Dame is the next team on the schedule, and they do this. If you zone your line one direction or pull a guy, they're gone. They go so hard it seems they leave themselves open to misdirection and counters, but that seems preferable to the steady drip drip of not getting off blocks.
Ross doesn't do this. He's moving, but the wrong way. Everyone else has taken two steps here; he's gone a half yard and drifted slightly to what would be the playside if this was the standard inside zone. Bolden, by contrast, sees what's going on and gets on his horse.
A moment later, Ross is kaput, Bolden is moving at the LOS, and there's a pretty big hole because Black is not a nose tackle.
Bolden makes contact at the LOS. This is a good place to make contact, but the thing that bugs me here is something I can't show you in a still.
Here's a still anyway. Bolden's got to the LOS and he's got this tackle and he forms up. Okay. But even if Ross is here, the RB is going outside of Bolden. All he does is make the gap somewhat small. He has not MADE PLAYS.
As I watched this I started getting frustrated with Bolden's approach. This is a technique thing and I may be wrong, but don't you want this contact to be less dainty?
I want some BOOM at the end of that approach. Bolden just kind of catches the guy, which has two negative impacts. One: he does not go BOOM. If Bolden really whacks this guy he has a good shot at giving Cox no crease, or at least forcing him to slow down and pick another one. Two: he cannot make a tackle because he hasn't hit him hard enough to set up outside. No tackle, no funnel, no point. His ability to impact the OL at the LOS is essentially irrelevant because he didn't turn it into the Situation BOOM [tm shutdown fullback].
Like, I want to insert a little fireball when Bolden makes contact here. Instead, crumpets. There is some amount of control that must be deployed to prevent you from not impacting the play. Here the control makes you… not impact the play.
Anyway. Cox bursts through the hole…
…and is hewed down after six yards.
Things and Stuff
Once you've committed to the run you should COMMIT TO THE RUN. Whenever you're hitting a blocker in the backfield you get a check-plus for your read. But because Bolden just impacts the guy softly, he does not force Cox into a new hole. He doesn't even get the diving arm-tackle attempt Ryan puts in, and Ryan has contain responsibility.
Bolden needs a little Ross in him on this play. Not the Ross on this play. The Ross on other plays. The ones where he meets a guy at the LOS and that guy ends up on his back, antennae flailing in the air.
I don't get what Michigan's reading. You can't chalk this up to Ross being a freshman since he's a freshman who seems in the process of displacing Kenny Demens and Michigan linebackers have been frustrating like this for a year-plus now. Are they supposed to be looking in the backfield? Are they making Mattison chew his lip in frustration? Does Michigan require their DL to fill a bunch of these holes and want to use LBs as a cleanup crew?
I don't know. I hear Alabama LBs talk about what they see before a play even starts…
…and I'm like whoah. It doesn't seem like Michigan's getting much of that.
Big dang hole here. Black gets put away, but I'm not sure that's a problem with him. He doesn't know a tackle pulled. He sees the guy in front of him start inside zone blocking. He wants to get in his gap. He does. This goes back to the questions about Michigan's line slants against Alabama. If the DL controls his gap and you've got the extra guy who knows where the line is going, you should have a free hitter somewhere. Michigan has not gotten that much this year.
Ryan: active. Here he almost makes a great play by coming upfield of his guy and making a tackle attempt without giving up the outside. He did this late enough that his attempt did not open the hole any wider. He's a quality player.
Nice fill from Gordon. This is only six yards despite a tailback running untouched through the LOS because he comes down well and tackles in space.