spoiler alert: i linked this
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
Whew! That game vs. Sparty was way too close! Glad Blue was finally able to get past State and shut up all those Spartan lovers. Very sweet to hear the dejected tone of the MSU player’s in their postgame comments. I do have one problem with last Saturday’s game however—why was I surrounded by people clad in green & white? I was very disappointed by the large number of folks who opted to sell their tickets, to a rivalry game no less. Come on Michigan fans, is it really only about the money?
You can bet that Maize & Blue will be hard to find in Lincoln tonight. Just from the numbers who showed up in Ann Arbor last year, I’m thinking it will be a solid sea of red. I have to say that at least the Nebraska fans I spoke to were knowledgeable, well behaved, if not downright cordial (of course their team was getting feasted on by the Wolverines—that does tend to lessen one’s spunk). And while I’d love to check out the game day atmosphere in Memorial Stadium, I’m kind of sketchy about a road trip to Lincoln. The last time I deigned to attend a game in the Big Ten hinterlands (that would be Champaign, Ill.) the eau de fertilizer was a bit overpowering.
Nebraska is promoting this game as the first in college football history between conference teams with at least 850 all-time wins. While that is a unique occurrence, I’m more impressed that Nebraska will also be celebrating 50 years of consecutive sellouts. Think about it. Michigan just had their 242nd game with 100,000 fans or more. That’s somewhere between 20 – 24 years, playing 10 – 12 games per season. Fifty years of sellouts? I don’t know if I should be wowed by this or lament the fact there’s no other outlet for Lincoln sports fans other than Nebraska athletics.
The rub in this is that the Wolverines are going into the lion’s den. We’re talking a Columbus type environment. While I think it won’t be anywhere near as nasty, there’s still going to be 87,000-plus fans looking to see their Cornhuskers to avenge last year’s debacle in the Big House. Brady Hoke’s teams have had some trouble in road games during his tenure. It will be quite a feat if Michigan can get this road win, having just had an emotional victory over MSU.
We Michiganders are fortunate to have plenty of outlets for our sporting interests. Top notch ones at that. I’ll have to see if Counterpunt will venture out with me to watch Michigan/Nebraska and the World series. It’s just that tonight, I think we’re going to be drowning our sorrows.
Michigan 20 Nebraska 27
By Nick RoUMel
I remember January 1, 1998 like it was just 15 years ago. Michigan had completed one of the most remarkable seasons in its storied history. It had gone undefeated in glorious fashion, in the process knocking off #7 Colorado, Notre Dame, #15 Iowa, #14 Michigan State, #2 Penn State, #23 Wisconsin, and #4 Ohio State, to complete an undefeated 11-0 and earn a spot in the Rose Bowl. They were the unanimous #1 in both the AP and USA Today polls, in the last season before the BCS came to destroy our way of life.
Michigan’s defense was astonishing, giving up less than 10 points a game, including a total of only 78 points in the entire Big Ten season. (In contrast, in 2010, Rich Rod’s defense allowed 65 points to Illinois in a single game. Yes I know we still won. Shut up and listen to Grandpa.)
The Penn State game in 1997 was our favorite, as Punt will attest. Facing the undefeated Nittany Lions in Happy Valley, we tailgated from 7 AM in a steady drizzle with our insufferable Penn State hosts until crushing their hearts with a 34-8 victory. That same day, Nebraska remained undefeated by engaging in Sparty-like documented cheating to beat Missouri when a downed receiver purposefully kicked the live ball to another receiver for a touchdown to send the game into overtime, which Nebraska eventually won. The Cornhuskers still affectionately refer to that play as the “Fleakicker.”
Confident in our season of destiny, we did not think too much about Nebraska’s lucky victory. Michigan went on to demoralize Ohio State to earn a Rose Bowl berth against the Washington State Cougars, who won a weak Pac 10 that year with the gifted but stupid Ryan Leaf at quarterback. We could all but taste finishing the season as the unanimous #1 pick in the nation.
Back to January 1, 1998. With just 29 seconds to play in the Rose Bowl, Michigan led 21-16 thanks to three long Brian Griese passes, two to Tai Streets, and a Charles Woodson interception in the end zone. It was not a blowout, but it was convincing. A late punt pinned the Cougars on their 7 yard line with just 29 seconds to play.
Two long passes later, Washington State found itself on Michigan’s 16. One of those passes was controversial. The WSU receiver shoved Charles Woodson out of the way before catching the ball. The official reached for his hanky, but for some reason, did not pull it out. As seconds wound down, Leaf spiked the ball for one last play. The whistle blew. In another controversial call, officials said time had run out.
At that point, Michigan fans felt just as much relief as euphoria. We turned to watch the Orange Bowl, where the Peyton Manning led Tennessee Volunteers would face the now #2 Nebraska Cornhuskers. An injured but game Manning had no mobility and was manhandled by the swarming Cornhusker defense. After the game, Nebraska quarterback Scotty Frost was interviewed. In a moving tribute that still makes me sick to recall, Scotty made a shameless plea to voters to choose Nebraska #1 over Michigan. He argued this would be a fitting cap to the career of their retiring coach Tom Osborne, but he could not resist adding a dig against Michigan. As quoted by the Ann Arbor News:
“If you can look yourself in the mirror and say if your job depended on playing either Michigan or Nebraska to keep your job, who would you rather play?" Frost remarked after the game. "You watched the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl. Michigan won with a controversial play at the end. We took apart the third-ranked team in the country.
"The second point I have is: I can't see how any coach outside the Big Ten or the Pac-10 would vote for Michigan.”
The coaches complied, leapfrogging Nebraska over Michigan for the #1 final spot in the coaches’ poll, while Michigan managed the #1 vote of the writers (AP). Watching that on the news the next day almost made me spit out my Pina Colada, under the California palm trees.
I have not forgiven Nebraska since. Nor Tennessee for that matter, nor Peyton Manning, nor Missouri, nor the sentimental coaches who screwed Michigan to give Tom Osborne a parting gift. Not to mention perpetual tackhead Ryan Leaf, and the official who swallowed his whistle when Woodson got shoved.
In fact, Counterpunt is feeling unforgiving these days to just about everyone, including Punt - who dares to pick Nebraska to beat Michigan today. Why, Punt? Did Scotty Frost get to you too?
MICHIGAN 22 – NEBRASKA 16
[Bonus pick: Tigers 3, Giants 2 – Valverde gets the save].
Predictorama. Everyone predicts Nebraska-Michigan:
- Athlon: M 31-27: "This matchup is relatively even, but a slight edge goes to Michigan. Taylor Martinez and his receivers will test the Wolverines’ secondary, but Nebraska’s defense will struggle to stop Denard Robinson. Expect Michigan’s defense to make one play late in the game that seals the victory for the Wolverines." [NO PRESSURE GREG]
- BWS: Martinez will complete more deep, downfield throws in this game than Michigan has allowed all season, but none of them go for touchdowns; they're heaves to wide receivers who can out-leap and out-muscle Michigan's corners. However, Michigan holds Nebraska to near 150 yards rushing. It's boom-or-bust for Nebraska's offense. Michigan finally gets a good kick/punt return. Nebraska rallies late but Michigan clutches to the win. Michigan 27 - Nebraska 24
- Maize and Brew: Ultimately I think both offenses find some success running the ball, but there are a lot of stalled drives that go 40-50 yards and end in that awkward no-mans-land between "why are you punting" and "why didn't you punt". How the teams approach these situations and who has the most luck on X-and-short will ultimately decide the game. When it comes to this, I like Michigan's odds. Michigan 30 - Nebraska 27
- Holdin' the Rope features Who Are You And Why Do You Care?: Prediction based on everything but football: Nebraska 21 - Michigan 17.
- M&GB: While Nebraska will score some points, Michigan’s offense should be able to move the ball with relative ease. The offensive line will get enough push against an overmatched front seven and pave the way for a big day on the ground. The ‘Huskers have done a good job this season of matching up with opposing receivers, so look for another big day from tight end Devin Funchess as well when Denard does need to pass. Michigan 42 – Nebraska 24. [ed: yow]
The MZone also has their Know Your Foe series featuring Nebraska mascots past:
I'm surprised the entire state isn't a raving insomniac mess after that business and Li'l Red.
All of us are Purdue. Don't ask me to explain.
I award Jerry Kill the Award for Most Walrus-Looking.
in the communnnity
hmmm. Post idea.
Ryan profile. Via Mike Rothstein comes an extended look at Ryan the Barbarian. In retrospect, this was obvious:
Jake noticed that several kids had stuffed animals they had won in an arcade game in the lobby. He put his arm up the drop portal -- the one the toys usually popped out of -- in an attempt to circumvent the system and grab a stuffed animal.
"The guy had to use the butter from the popcorn machine, rub all over his hands, way up there, to get it out," Susan said. "He was stuck up there for a while."
And thus began Michigan's unique strategy of scouting claw machines across the Midwest, offering anyone with their arm stuck up one.
Hyman profile. This from the Daily:
On the way back from Boston, with Boston University the clear leader in the clubhouse, the Hymans detoured to Ann Arbor for a stop.
It would be their last.
Zach and Spencer sat across from Red Berenson in the coach’s office, while Berenson laid out why they should be Wolverines. It didn’t take long.
“Ten minutes into Michigan, we had completely forgotten about every other school,” Spencer said. “It was over. Zach and I were sitting in the (Ross Academic Center) and we looked at each other and it was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to Michigan.’ ”
Big test tonight for that surging fourth line.
Check on the blocking. Press conference regurgitating here but let's bring that out from behind a jump to confirm that, yeah, Joe Kerridge is in the process of Wally Pipping one Stephen Hopkins:
“I think Joe’s had a pretty daggone good stretch here," coach Brady Hoke said Wednesday. "He’s practiced well. You look at the iso’s and some of the things that he’s doing in practice, and then when he gets out there on the field. That’s a big part of it.”
Hopkins became the starting fullback midway through last season when then-starter John McColgan suffered an injury. He started every game at fullback until sustaining the hamstring injury before the UMass game in Week 3.
Now, it appears he's out of a job.
Brandon Moore isn't playing much after returning from injury either, but I don't think many people are surprised about that.
See no evil no longer works. The NCAA is set to adopt the long-in-the-making penalty revamp that will finally make head coaches responsible for their assistants breaking NCAA rules:
"It's a tougher penalty structure, there's no doubt about it," Southern California athletic director Pat Haden said in an interview conducted prior to USA TODAYSports' acquisition of the document. "The point is, for head coaches -- and this goes for any sport -- you have this responsibility. You need to be constantly vigilant and you need to be constantly coaching your coaches about how important it is to play by the rules." …
Head coaches can avoid penalties for violations committed by their staff if they can document vigilance about potential red flags. For example, the document states that a head coach should ask about how unofficial visits are paid for and advises head coaches to ask their assistants if they suspect a third party or handler is involved in the recruitment.
The rules are supposed to go into effect Tuesday; hopefully they'll have some impact. Always tough to tell.
Puck drop tonight. The CCHA's parting gift to Michigan starts this weekend as what might be the conference series of the year will see the Saturday game bereft since it's on at the same time Nebraska-Michigan is. The athletic department is selling half-price tickets to both games this weekend, which says something about where Yost attendance is when you can't even sell out a 7:35 Friday game against Miami.
Whether Yost is present or not, they'll drop the puck. MHN on the Redhawks:
Miami is led offensively by a strong group of underclassmen. Five of their top six scorers are a freshman and sophomores. Sophomores Blake Coleman (4-1-5 in 4gp), Austin Czarnik (2-3-5 in 4gp), and freshman Riley Barber (3-2-5 in 4gp) are all tied for the team scoring lead.
Like the Wolverines, the RedHawks welcome a pair of freshmen in the crease who have split playing time. Freshman Jay Williams is 2-0-0 with a 1.94 GAA and .915 save percentage. Fellow classmate Ryan McKay is 1-0-1 with a 0.48 GAA and .984 save percentage.
After two weekends in which the play on the ice was dominating against lower-level competition this is an acid test. Racine will get the start for M.
BONUS: The only word we'd had on Michigan's nonconference scheduling after the move to the Big Ten was something Red tossed off about having little desire to continue "so-called rivalries" against Miami and Notre Dame, which was disappointing. Red seems to have reversed his opinion somewhat, though:
Berenson said on Inside Michigan Hockey this week that Miami is interested in scheduling non-conference games after the CCHA disbands.
I'm guessing scheduling ND is out of the question after they ended the football series in the most dickish way possible.
I'm nervous that Michigan's going to run out 14 games against Bentley next year. Any indication they're not is welcome.
Meanwhile, here's my contractually obligated reminder that the Michigan schools and a guest—probably Bowling Green—should ditch the GLI for a State of Michigan Championship that would be awesome. The trophy could be a mitten the size of a man the winning captain has to put on. Yeah.
Squash. It was known at the time that Rick Pitino was theees close to becoming Michigan's basketball coach a while back when the Amaker hire was made, and good Lord what—
“The day that I committed to Louisville, I signed an agreement to be the next head coach of Michigan and I was fired up to be the coach at Michigan," Pitino said. "The athletic director at the time, who’s no longer there (Bill Martin), was playing squash and my wife came up, she just didn’t want me to go to the west coast, UNLV, and be away from the children. She agreed, okay let’s go to Michigan."
She eventually convinced him to change his mind, and due to one of Martin's squash matches, Pitino informed Michigan of his decision via voicemail.
"I tried to call the A.D. at Michigan between 12 and 1," he recalled. "I had a false name. I would give him a fake name and he would call me back. I couldn’t get a hold of him because he was playing squash. The secretary said he demands that he doesn’t get interrupted unless it’s an emergency and if you want you can leave a voicemail.
"I left a voicemail and went to Louisville and I’m really happy I did."
What qualifies as an emergency to Athletic Director Bill Martin?
- 50% off sale at Squash Unlimited
- Opportunity to hire nice man who wears turtlenecks but has no coaching acumen
- Molasses explosion
- 30% off sale at Squash Unlimited
- Member of immediate family diagnosed with rickets or beri-beri, ONLY rickets or beri-beri don't come to me with any of this scurvy business eat an orange for crissakes
- 1975 America's Cup highlights VHS arrives via Pony Express
- Champagne reaches 56.7 degrees
- Anything at all not related to the most important part of his job
People in charge of things are just in charge of them. There is not necessarily a reason.
Lewan draft stock. Doing okay you guys:
Michigan's Taylor Lewan matched the physical challenge presented by hated in-state rival Michigan State and their 6-6, 278 pound defensive end William Gholston. … Just as Lewan did in 2011, the Michigan left tackle controlled Gholston, demonstrating enough lateral agility and balance in his kick-slide to maintain the edge and the great length and strength to lock up his opponent. Gholston lacks the explosive burst to give Lewan a stiff challenge in pass protection but the Spartans also sent smaller, quicker pass rushers against Lewan, including linebackers on the blitz. Having only played on the offensive line since his senior season of high school, Lewan demonstrated the improvement in pass protection scouts are hoping to see from him to warrant the frequent comparisons he's gained to former Wolverine star Jake Long.
Lewan has specifically improved in his patience as a pass blocker, recognizing spin movies and sliding laterally rather than lunging. As he has throughout much of his career, Lewan was also consistently able to knock defenders off the ball in the running game. Despite his height, the 6-7, 310 pound Lewan played with good pad level, winning the battle of leverage against Gholston and other MSU defenders.
Let's hope he stays anyway.
Etc.: Quinton Washington picture pages WSG Campbell, Roh, and Floyd. John Beilein will live forever. John Beilein says things to media members. Downing, Motte, and Compher feature in USHL prospects article. How do improve NCAA rule enforcement: outsource it. How Northwestern busted the 80 yard Venric Mark TD. Denard Robinson's mechanics. Injuries hit Horford (apparently minor) and McGary (minor, still recovering).
|WHAT||Michigan vs Nebraska|
8:00 PM EST
October 27th, 2012
|THE LINE||Nebraska -2|
|WEATHER||cloudy, dry, around 40|
Is that corn in your pocket or… oh, I see. It's corn.
Run Offense vs Nebraska
COME TO NEBRASHHHHKA STATTE
Last week Michigan kept its head above water against an excellent run defense on the strength of two big gains. One of them came when MSU's crappy defensive tackle got creased on a run blitz. The other was a quarterback draw late when Michigan State backed off, uncharacteristically, and paid for it. With those two runs, Michigan crested 5 YPC against a top ten—maybe top five—defense. Without them, they barely exceeded 3 YPC.
Is that good? Bad? Ah hell I don't know. Denard is Denard and will rip off big gains if you keep feeding him the ball, and Toussaint's big run is the kind of thing that happens to super aggressive defenses when they get creased (and a walk-on WR gets his block on). In the end, 5 YPC is fair. Nard gonna Nard.
The good news is that Nebraska's defense is emphatically not Michigan State's.
Except when it is sometimes I guess? Nebraska blew it badly on one 80-yard Venric Mark touchdown. Other than that, Northwestern muddled along at about the same rate Wisconsin did. In half of Nebraska's games against BCS competition, they're Michigan State. In half, they're roadkill.
If there's a pattern you can draw from four games, it's spread 'n' shreds leaving tread marks all over the Cornhusker D. UCLA QB Brett Hundley is a run threat (9 carries for 66 yards) and opened Jonathan Franklin up for a 216-yard blitz. Braxton Miller almost cracked 200 himself and opened it up for Carlos Hyde to hit 140. Though not included in the table above, even winless Southern Miss saw quarterback Anthony Alford hit 84 yards on 15 carries… before getting pulled because he was also 1 of 5 for six yards. The Eagles hit 4.6 YPC on the day.
In a bizarre move, Northwestern all but abandoned the Kain Colter running game in favor of having Trevor Sieman throw 35 times, so they fit more in the Wisconsin mold than UCLA/OSU:
Nebraska made it very clear that they'd sit back in man free all game, and the Wildcats tried to beat them over the top time and again even though the Husker corners were locking down the Northwestern wideouts and quarterback Trevor Siemian lacked accuracy on his deep ball. The Wildcats threw 37 times and ran 38 times despite (1) playing against an awful run defense, and (2) holding a lead for most of the game.
WTFitz. Nebraska did hold Colter down on his few carries, FWIW.
Will Nebraska be able to do the same to Denard? Well… I'm doubtful. Ace saw Nebraska blitz twice in the first half and lay back in a bend-but-don't-break shell, likely because the shell-shocked Huskers were going back to basics after the OSU debacle. Nebraska's safeties, like Michigan State's, are active hitters in the run game, though, so if they're lining up nine yards off the LOS and coming down hard in an effort to replicate MSU's gameplan, trouble may ensue.
Emphasis on "may"—MSU's aggressiveness was effective instead of disastrous because Denicos Allen and Max Bullough are fast as hell and the MSU safeties are pretty good, as well. Nebraska only avoided a couple of long Denard Robinson touchdowns last year because Lavonte David played the same role as the MSU linebackers did last week: guy who makes shoestring tackle just as you're standing up to yell "GOOOOOOOOO." Lavonte David's not around anymore, and the Nebraska LB corps misses his athleticism. They're not bad—except when they are of course—but if a gap gets vacated or the sideline is tested they are less likely to be able to mitigate that damage with a super fast tackling machine. Stafford is a boom or bust SS, too, and could at any time wander off in the wrong direction as Denard screams upfield.
Key Matchup: Denard's ankles versus opponent's outstretched arms. There are going to be two or three moments in the game where Denard is setting sail for the endzone. Where you at, Will Compton? Are you Lavonte David walking through that door?
[Hit THE JUMP for WHAT THEY CAN SCORE THAT AIN'T RAIGHT]
Given the weak home schedule this year, I planned on creating a new feature on the site to detail my exploits in obtaining seats for every home game (by methods available to the hoi polloi) without ever paying a forced donation. Rule was I had to get two people into each game and sitting next to each other. Then I didn't bother for awhile because it would've been a lot of dividing by zero. To wit:
Air Force: I couldn't attend so I sent a correspondent, who then accepted a free ticket from somebody.
UMass: Offered one guy near the northeast entrance $10 each for his tickets and another guy interjected with two free ones.
Illinois: Family friend offered me a pair of his earlier in the week, then the day of the game both my designated game buddy (Misopogal) and the couple who owned the tickets decided it wasn't worth sitting in a rainstorm for this edition of Illinois, so I rolled solo with 4 tickets. I traded one to a student for his student ticket and 5 bucks 'cause the kid needed to get his buddy in, and sold the other two extras for $10 each outside the Stadium-Main entrance. I think I gave the student ticket away. Total: –$25.00
MSU: Bought two Row 11s from our new affiliate on Friday for $129 each plus $14 to have them FedEx'ed overnight (cheapest seat on Stubhub was $20 higher at the time even before their fees). Corner, but our endzone got most of the action.
Remaining home games are Iowa and Northwestern, and I'm at net $111. Guys, I think this is working.
DON'T MISS THESE:
The Thing About Purdue. In other useful though tardy things, the blogger formerly known as Blue Seoul (now ttifiblog) brought back the formerly weekly Game Wrap With Pics post for Purdue. Don't remember what that looks like? Like this:
…but bigger and legible and there's lots of them. Brian front-paged but those who went to see discovered some bad html. Now fixed; dig in. And welcome back, Diarist of the Week.
Denard Watch. As he climbs toward the big career marks, let's look back on some of the milestones already passed along this trail of hobbled safeties, heaving linebackers, flying shoes, sanctified endzones, flappitty laces, askew helmets, smile-curved mouthguards, and soaring dreads. Courtesy of jeepinben.
Kugler and some guys we're looking at. Everyone's looking for the next 2013 recruit with consensus 4 stars to start moving up boards, and Patrick Kugler's one of those dues. A couple of helpful readers got a scouting report on his recent game, plus those of three prospects.
[JUMP: Weeklies, Best of the Board, Waving things in front of Brian]
About Last Weekend:
Michigan State 10, Michigan 12
Apologies -- Spartyfreude is a little blurry. In any case, what are these people looking at? Oh I know. Anything but the scoreboard.
"You're good looking, and I'm good looking. We should be good looking together."
What TheOnlyColors and MaizeNBrew should do if they haven't done so already.
The Road Ahead:
Nebraska (5-2 overall, 2-1 B1G)
Last game: Nebraska 29, Northwestern 28 (W)
Recap: When a team plays Northwestern, no deficit is too great to overcome. This is a fundamental law of football. With his team down 12 points in the fourth quarter, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez (27/39, 342 yards, 3 TD) led the Huskers offense on two 80-yard touchdown drives to eke out a win. The Wildcats had an opportunity near the end to regain the lead but, as they are wont to do, they missed a long field goal.
For Michigan, this wasn’t the ideal outcome. While Northwestern had a nice streak going and remains one of the B1G’s two bowl-eligible teams, it would have been preferable to contend at home with a hypothetical one-conference-loss Northwestern team for the division rather than go to Lincoln to play a critical tie-breaker (sort of) game against a one-conference-loss Nebraska. If Michigan loses this weekend it no longer controls its own destiny. But you knew that.
So let’s focus on why the Huskers were down 12 to the Wildcats in the first place. For one, they didn’t have much rhythm on offense until Martinez went pass-happy against Northwestern’s defense, which plays a 4-3-Gibson scheme. The run game never broke anything big with the longest run being 15 yards. Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah both got nearly 20 carries a piece and averaged 4.5 ypc, though the Wildcats have a decent run defense, so that’s not a total surprise.
Defensively they did a good job against most aspects of Northwestern’s attack – they kept Trevor Siemian (15/35, 116 yards, 2 TD) to 3.3 ypa and almost limited the Wildcats otherwise effective run game to less than three yards per carry … had it not been for one spectacular bust that allowed an 80-yard TD run by Venric Mark (16 carries, 118 yards, 1 TD) from a triple-option handoff up the middle. That the Blackshirts linebackers busted an assignment is an understatement.
As a final note, Nebraska turned the ball over three times over the course of the game. They fumbled twice (the one at the end was maybe meaningless) on offense and had one epic puntmuffin, which led immediately to a Northwestern touchdown.
Huskers fans prefer to downplay these mistakes, particularly the ones on special teams, when projecting how their team will do against upcoming opponents. Against Michigan, though, they won't be able to afford to play sloppy no matter how many yards they end up racking up on offense.
This team is as frightening as: The Detroit Tigers. Brilliant when in a groove but somewhat subject to horrifying derailment. Fear level = 6 +/-2.
Michigan should worry about: Limiting mistakes on the road at night. I think Brady Hoke and Al Borges have that down at the infuriating expense of offensive play calls that adjust intelligently to defensive scheme. This means that Michigan is just going to have to wait for the opponent to make mistakes on defense. I’m actually kind of okay with that in this case, because …
Michigan can sleep soundly about: I do not believe in Nebraska’s defense. Their most impressive performance to date has been against nobody. Serious. They’ve failed to hold any of their BCS opponents under 27 points. Maybe they did well against Wisconsin by holding Montee Ball to 90 yards rushing on 32 carries, but that was when the Badgers were going through an offensive crisis that resulted in the defenestration of their offensive line coach.
Maybe the Huskers have an okay secondary and a couple playmakers in the front seven, but that does not an Al Borges Denard Fusion Cuisine-busting defense make.
When they play Michigan: Michigan will try to win on the ground; Nebraska will try to win through the air. The Huskers have at least four viable receiving options in their receivers and tight ends, and it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the secondary to stick to their assignments, particularly if Raymon Taylor isn’t 100%. Plus, Michigan is overdue for giving up a big WTF play or two on defense. On the bright side, if the Huskers can’t do it, no one left on the schedule save Ohio State will be able to.
Next game: vs. No. 22 Michigan.
Formation notes: MSU's defense is very simple, with few substitutions or wacky formations. They spent most of the game in a 4-3 even with linebackers shaded to the slot. Like so:
Shotgun 2TE twins for M
They would go into an okie package with two deep safeties on passing downs:
Shotgun 3-wide for M
When Michigan split their WRs this was the preferred look:
Also shotgun 3-wide
MSU screwed their corners down into press man and walked their safeties up to about nine yards deep, ready to roar downhill at any run action. You won't get any bubble complaints from me in this game—it wasn't there.
This is "Ace Triple Stack" as a reminder:
Yes, throwback screen obvs.
Substitution notes: Few surprises here. Line all starters; TE rotation about as it has been. No RBs other than Toussaint and Smith made appearances; Gardner was not announced as a starter and got a lot fewer snaps than he has previously. Speculation is he's carrying some sort of injury. Joe Reynolds got his first snaps in a heated situation—all were runs. More about that later.
[……IS BEHIND THE JUMP! There are lot of embeds this week and I've gotten some complaints that UFRs bog people's browsers down—hmmm wonder why—so taking most of the junk off the front page should help in that regard.]
Let’s head straight to a revamped chart. Now fixed to time, as opposed to play, to give a better feel for the flow of the game.
What jumped out at me right away was how this game was played between 25% and 75% virtually the whole way. In fact, the first play run with either team have a 75% or greater win likelihood was Denard’s completion to The Threat. I combed through my database and Saturday’s game was the longest a game had stayed within that range in the last ten years. No other game had gone 59.5 minutes with neither team being closer to winning than being even. Of course as soon as Michigan’s odds dipped on Toussaint’s ill-advised reception, the offense comes through with a huge completion to set up a 65% chance of hitting the game winning field goal.
Biggest swing plays
Michigan would have been looking at about 70% win odds, but the 26 yards and a new set of downs on Sparty’s fake punt brought Michigan St back to square at 50%.
Andrew Maxwell had a third down and four on Michigan’s side of the field when he threw the ball straight to Jordan Kovacs. Prior to the snap Michigan was at its current low for the game around 39% but the pick and return quickly pushed them to about 53%. The number would have been about 5% higher if part of the return hadn’t been called back.
Michigan was down 1 with the ball at their own 25 with about 5 minutes left. Denard found some room and went 44 yards for Michigan’s longest play of the day. That jumped the game from 44% to 67% in Michigan’s favor.
With less than a minute to go Denard couldn’t find anyone open downfield so he chose to dump it off to Fitzgerald Toussaint a yard behind the line of scrimmage. The ball was low and Toussaint instinctively went down to catch it, which he unfortunately did. The loss of a down, yardage and time pushed the win percent down from 32% to 15%, the first time all game either side crossed the 75% mark.
Michigan would bounce right back and Denard’s strike to The Threat would reverse that 15% in no time. With only a field goal attempt left, the offense handed the game to Gibbons with a kick an average kicker would make 65% of the time.
And of course he did. +35% to Gibbons and all the brunette girls.
[Hit THE JUMP for an updated season projection, Dumb Punt of the Week, Nebraska prediction, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on—you guessed it—Laquon Treadwell and Derrick Green, more coach quotes on Denzel Ward, 2014 updates, and more.
ALL HOPE IS LOST wait what oh my condolences
Mike Farrell's latest Mind of Mike article contains a couple very relevant bits to Michigan, so long as you can get past the opening where he seemingly takes credit for Da'Shawn Hand being 2014's #1 overall recruit:
Around last April, I tweeted that Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge Senior defensive end Da'Shawn Hand was my hands-down choice for the No. 1 player in the country for the class of 2014. Since then, numerous recruiting sites have tabbed Hand as their No. 1 guy, while our first 2014 five-stars will be released next month.
I'd like to go ahead and take credit for Glenn Robinson III being very good at basketball because I'm the only one who's said that, right? Right. You owe me one, GRIII. Anyway, the word from Farrell is good on Derrick Green...
Green has listed the Ducks as one of his finalists and liked his trip to the state when he was at The Opening, but Oregon has always been a long shot in my opinion, even for an official visit.
It's unclear if Oregon will back off as part of getting [five-star RB Thomas] Tyner back in the fold or not, but it shouldn't matter -- Green isn't going there. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again -- Green appears to be the perfect fit as a Big Ten running back and with his other two favorites, Auburn and Tennessee, having coaches on very hot seats, Michigan has to be the final destination, right? It makes sense, but as we know, sometimes recruiting makes no sense.
...and Laquon Treadwell, who as it turns out had a very valid reason for not taking his official visit last weekend:
The only thing more impressive that wide receiver LaQuon Treadwell's ability on the field (and he has been playing like a five-star this season) is his consistency when it comes to not taking visits. Treadwell has now set up visits with Missouri, Ole Miss, Michigan and Oklahoma this month alone and won't make any of them.
The passing of his uncle this past weekend kept him from a big visit weekend in Ann Arbor, but I still think the Wolverines are his future home until he actually takes one of the two trips he wants to take to OU and Oklahoma State.
Hey, that sounds like good news! [EDIT: The recruiting angle, obviously, not the uncle part. Condolences to the Treadwell family for their loss.] Let's take this as further evidence to wait until the facts are in before jumping to wild conclusions after every bit of recruiting news, please.
Illinois recruiting guru Edgy Tim has more on Treadwell's future plans in the Chicago Tribune:
He most likely will make all five of his allotted official visits (Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss) after his high school season ends.
Treadwell's recruitment is far from over, obviously. He's running out of time to find a school that can make the same impression that Michigan has over six visits (plus a presumed official), however, and I'd be surprised if Michigan State is a serious contender.
[Hit THE JUMP for the world's largest high school offensive line, a 2014 recruit naming Michigan as his favorite, and more.]
Formation notes: Michigan is doing a thing where they have a nickel package in and go with a five-man line and one guy behind it:
The guy on the line at the top of the screen is Avery, in man on the slot guy, so he is not, you know, a lineman. That is denoted 5-1 nickel. A full okie package would also put that LB on the LOS.
Michigan was mostly in the under. This is what happens when the under faced off with a 3-wide formation:
Ryan flared out over the slot and Michigan usually walked one of their safeties down. I still called this a 4-3 under, FWIW.
Substitution notes: Secondary same as it always is until Taylor went out, whereupon Avery moved over to the second corner spot and Jarrod Wilson was the nickelback—in that situation they would move Gordon down over the slot and use Wilson as a safety. This happened once, IIRC.
Linebackers same as they usually are. No freshmen in this one, though, all Morgan/Demens/Ryan. Cam Gordon also was left out of the lineup.
There was some rotation on the line. Black and Pipkins saw some DT snaps, with Black getting both some regular duty and his usual nickel appearances. Heitzman saw a few snaps spotting Roh, and Clark and Beyer rotated regularly. Ojemudia did not appear.
The defense is pretty much settled at this point. The only spot at which there is any debate is WDE, which looks like a Beyer/Clark run/pass platoon until one of them (or Ojemudia) emerges. The other ten spots—eleven if you count nickelback—have rock-solid starters.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Pitch sweep||Roh||1|
|W/ a slot receiver Ryan is flared out, not on the LOS as he would be against a TE. Roh(+2) beats a crackdown block from a WR who has motioned in and starts flowing down the line. Ryan also beats his block, though not as quickly or authoritatively as Roh. Taylor(+0.5) contains; Gordon(+0.5) beats a cut block and flows to the hole with Demens(+0.5), where those two, Roh, and Ryan gang-tackle.|
|O45||2||9||I-Form 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Hitch||Taylor||5|
|Ryan comes down late, showing blitz with one high behind it. MSU throws a dink hitch in front of Taylor(+0.5, tackling +1), who makes contact before Burbridge can turn it upfield; Morgan comes over to prevent anyone from falling forward.|
|50||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|New LT moves early... probably should have been called on M as it looks like Roh entering the neutral zone causes it. Refs +1.|
|O45||3||9||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Out||Morgan||5|
|Ryan(+1, pressure +1) beats the LT and forces a throw. It's an out short of the sticks that Morgan(+1, cover +1, tackling +1) is out on; looks like they were trying to pick off Taylor and get the corner here but Morgan's all over the circle route from Burbridge. Morgan slings him to the ground with ease.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Maxwell has more time here (pressure -1) to find someone but dumps it down to Bell anyway. Coverage(+2) was good downfield as three MSU guys are blanketed. Ryan(+0.5 tackling +1) comes up to force Bell out of bounds after a minimal gain.|
|O35||2||8||I-Form 3-wide||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Roh||2|
|Roh(+1) is left unblocked temporarily. He takes on a fullback inside, then disengages to pop the pulling G. Washington(+0.5) has split a double but that's more MSU derp than anything since both guys peel off to do other things, one of them bizarrely. No holes in the center. Ryan(+1) beats another WR block and pops up on the LOS outside of Roh; he tackles(+1).|
|O37||3||6||Shotgun 2-back||5-1 nickel||Pass||3||Wheel||Demens||Inc|
|Demens and Ryan flanking three down linemen with Morgan behind them. Morgan pokes his nose in as if he will blitz; Kovacs comes down; both back out. Michigan only sends the interior guys; both LBs are looking to deal with backs out of the backfield. Caper delays as if to pass block, then goes on a wheel that Demens(+1, cover +1) is able to cover, basically. Despite epic time (pressure -1, three man rush) no one pops open and Maxwell's attempt to hit the wheel is well long. Black(+0.5) did force a flush, FWIW. Everything other than the wheel was covered(+1), FWIW.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 9 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-Form Big||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Roh||6|
|They motion a TE and then run away from it. Roh(-2) gets blown out by a double. He lets one guy through and gets shoved as he tries to spin out of his mess to no avail. His attempt to rescue it makes things worse and prevents Washington(+0.5) closing down the hole and Demens(+0.5) popping the lead guard in said hole to matter. Roh's just all out of position and despite everyone else playing it right there's a gap Bell can hit for a few yards before the world converges.|
|O26||2||4||I-Form||4-3 under||Penalty||N/A||Illegal sub||N/A||-5|
|lol cant count lol|
|O21||2||9||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||7|
|Same quick hitch. Floyd(-0.5) is a yard or two off and would probably give up the first if Burbridge was more decisive after the catch; he delays and Floyd and Ryan combine to tackle for minimal YAC. No pressure opportunity, cover push.|
|O28||3||2||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||8|
|Ryan flies down from the edge to blitz, LT biffs, Ryan gets a free run at Maxwell's blind side (pressure +2); Floyd(-1, cover -1) is way off a meh route and gives up a first down completion. Easy.|
|O36||1||10||I-Form twins||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Morgan||3|
|This is not aligned well from M as they are in an even front with Kovacs overhanging and this looks pretty good for State running at the weak side of the M line without a shift on. Morgan(+2) screams downhill, takes on a free releasing tackle, sheds, comes inside, forces the G outside, makes Bell stop in the hole, and then gets buried. Ryan has come from the slot and Campbell has come through a double thanks to the delay and Bell can only pick up a few. RPS -1; heroic effort from Morgan required to prevent something big. Kovacs(+0.5) helped cut the hole down.|
|O39||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Counter||Beyer||2|
|Beyer(+1) beats a TE trying to kick him inside, absorbing the pulling G; Bell decides to go outside. Floyd(+1, tackling +1) fills well, making contact at the LOS and getting Bell to the ground with help from Morgan, who'd had a free flow and is just helping on the bounce so no soup for him. Campbell(-1) got blown up badly on the backside FWIW.|
|O41||3||5||Shotgun trips||Okie one||Pass||5||Fly||Floyd||Inc|
|Michigan shows press with a single high safety, sends five. MSU tests it. Blitz picked up (pressure -1). Floyd(+1) is in decent coverage, but has given up a step or two. Throw is on the money, Burbridge juggles it, and I think Floyd takes the opportunity to whack it out but I can't quite tell with the torrent quality. A bit fortunate, results based charting, was there to futz with the guy's arm, kinda PBU.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, EO1Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Ace twins||4-3 under||Pass||5||Sack||Ryan||-10|
|Ryan(+3, pressure +3) beats Bell as he blitzes up the edge, delivering a thunder-sack. Washington(+1) and Roh(+1) had also beaten blockers and arrive to confirm the kill.|
|O15||2||20||Shotgun 2-back||4-3 even||Pass||4||Fly||Gordon||45|
|Roh(+2, pressure +2) beats the RT around the corner and seems to be held. Maybe enough for a call, maybe not. It slows him down just enough for Maxwell to launch a deep middle of the field fly route as MSU just went three verts against Michigan's coverage. Gordon(-2, cover +1) is step for step, never locates the ball, gets recepted upon, tackles, sad.|
|Inside zone fake to an end around to Burbridge. MSU trying to pull their C, who never gets there. Black(+0.5) may have helped that but mostly incompetence, I'd wager. Floyd(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked as a result and fills behind the LOS at the numbers; Burbridge flings him to the ground and gets some yards before Morgan(+0.5) cleans up after a few.|
|M37||2||7||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Morgan||4|
|Kovacs shows man on a TE that goes in motion and is a straight up ninth guy in the box with Gordon also hanging out in there. M pinching down from both ends. Black pops out into a TE, which means a tackle releases but has no angle on Morgan. Heitzman(+0.5) is trying to spill the thing by getting into a lead blocker and jamming up the pulling G. He does an eh job but does delay the puller. Morgan(+0.5) gets into him at the line well. Demens(-1) got caught in the wash after not reading the play. Actually a surprise when this happens now. He's not there when Morgan funnels. Black(+0.5) has spun off a block and come back to help tackle even without the linebacker getting involved; Gordon and Morgan help.|
|M33||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Run||N/A||Quick pitch||Kovacs||3|
|M blitzing and looks like they might get caught but it's sound behind the rushers. Roh shoots inside the guy blocking him extremely fast; he slightly delays the quick trap block outside. Demens can flow free as a result; Kovacs is a free hitter but has to come around Taylor backing off trying to cover the outside WR. Those guys get there to tackle; Bell squeezes out the first down. Um. They can't prevent the conversion but usually three yard runs are a little positive. Half points for Roh and Kovacs.|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun 3||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power||Pipkins||8|
|Bell's longest run of the day. Pipkins(-2) momentarily doubled until he's shoved out of the hole and pancaked. Roh(+0.5) and Campbell(+0.5) actually do a good job to fight to the now-gaping hole and get in slowing arm-tackle attempts. Morgan is in tough after the G released immediately. He's held a bit—arms outside the shoulder pads by the OL—and can't really disengage to tackle. Floyd(-1, tackling -1) comes in since his WR slanted and kind of flings himself at Bell without using his arms or bringing his feet. Textbook tackling technique... IN HELL. M recovers thanks to the triple slowdown and tackles. Refs -0.5.|
|M22||2||2||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Morgan||1|
|Same bit with the other I form big on this drive, but to the other side. Roh(+1) drives outside, disengaging to pick off a lead blocker and getting his 2for1. Gordon(-1) blows that by continuing to head outside and not reacting to what's in front of him. Morgan(+2) is now the next guy inside. He bangs McDonald at the LOS and drives him back, then disengages to grab Bell with an arm... and Bell slows. Wow. I expected him to blow right through this but he's suddenly in molasses, allowing Campbell(+0.5) and Beyer(+0.5) to converge and set up third down.|
|M31||3||1||I-Form||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ryan||0|
|Roh(+1) and Ryan(+1) shoot under their blocks on the snap, forcing a very slight cutback from Bell. Bell trips over Ryan's guy; Gordon(+1) and Demens(+1) are screaming down behind the slant and put Bell to the ground at the LOS. RPS +2, slant FTW. Inspired a Hokepoints.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(38), 5 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M44||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Fly||Floyd||Inc|
|Floyd(-1, cover -1) is beat over the top on this, but it's long. No pressure but this is max pro and the ball is out pretty quickly.|
|M44||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie one||Pass||5||Fade||Taylor||Inc|
|Super aggressive look from with seven guys on the line; two back out into shorter zones. Taylor(+1, cover +1) forces the WR out of bounds as he tries to release upfield on a fade. Kovacs(+0.5) had shoved a RB back and come off underneath to force a throw (pressure +1), which is OOB and may just be a throwaway. Gordon(+0.5) was over the top.|
|M44||3||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Out||Clark||7|
|Stunt gets Clark(+1, pressure +2) in basically clean as Roh(+1) takes the LG way upfield and there's no chance the tackle can do anything with Clark plunging inside. Maxwell has to dump it short of the sticks where Avery(+1, tackling +1) is there to force the punt.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 3-0, 2 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Flare||Ryan||3|
|A called dink pass as the RT just cuts Roh and the guys on the playside are blocking from the start. Ryan(+2) pops his blocker, comes around him really fast, and eventually forces Bell OOB for minimal yardage.|
|O28||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||5-1 nickel||Pass||5||Hitch||Taylor||6|
|M sends a blitz that looks like it gets picked up and another dink pass to the flats is fired. Burbridge again hesitates as he turns it up and makes a probable first down into third and short. Taylor(+0.5, tackling +1), I guess.|
|Roh(+0.5) gets under the LT and gets some movement back but not quite enough to take out the pulling G. Ryan(+1) takes on a FB kickout block, chucks the guy past him, and tackles Bell a yard in the backfield. Demens popped the G at the LOS but tries to spin off of it and gives up just a tiny bit of ground, allowing Bell to eke out the first.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Slant||Floyd||Inc|
|Floyd(+1, cover +1) is there to bang on the catch and separate Burbridge from the ball. Still could have caught it if the throw was a bit better, so no +2.|
|O35||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Fly||Floyd||Inc|
|Roh(+1, pressure +2) stunts around Black and comes through when one of the OL moves to Black and no one pops out on him. Ryan(+0.5) has beat the RT around the corner and threatens to sack, Maxwell must throw. He chucks it deep at Floyd(+2, cover +2), who is step for step with Burbridge and gets a PBU.|
|O35||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie two||Pass||4||Hitch||Taylor||7|
|Maxwell takes a hitch before the pressure can get there; Taylor(+0.5) escorts the guy OOB before the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 6-0, EO1H|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-Form twins||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Iso||Morgan||5|
|Washington(-0.5) gives some ground, allowing Bell time to pick a gap backside or straight up the gut. Morgan(-1) gets cut to the ground by the FB. Campbell(+0.5) comes through his block and initiates the tackle once Bell picks; Morgan is there to grab legs; pile lurches forward.|
|O25||2||5||Ace twins||4-3 over||Pass||4||WR screen||Gordon||5|
|Michigan pretty well prepared for this as Gordon(-1, tackling -1) breaks down at the LOS after the catch. Unfortunately he overran it and the WR can move inside of him for a decent gain.|
|O30||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||6||Deep slant||Kovacs||19|
|Michigan with a double A gap blitz of their own right into iso play action. Kovacs(-2, cover -2) sucks up an unreasonably large distance and never starts dropping back into a middle of the field robber zone that seems to be his assignment since Taylor lined up with outside leverage and seemed to expect interior help that was never there. RPS -1.|
|O49||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||N/A||End-around||Kovacs||14|
|Beyer doesn't see this coming and lets the edge guy go. Kovacs(-2) is not prepared, either, and gets blindsided by the WR cracking down. Worse, he gets shoved upfield and Burbridge can get a shove on Morgan when he tries to flow out. Taylor(-1) doesn't read this until way late and can't contain so there's an alley between him and Morgan. RPS –1.|
|M37||1||10||I-Form twins||4-3 under||Pass||5||Out||Taylor||12|
|Both backs stay in, three guys in the route. This is essentially a pick route, with Burbridge going straight upfield and Mumphery cutting out near the sticks and using Burbridge as a screen.. Taylor(-1, cover -1) got beat by that.|
|M25||1||10||Ace twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Demens||2|
|Gordon rolls up to the LOS. M slants away from the play; Gordon(-1) gets cut by the H-back. His inability to stay up allows Bell to leap over that block away from all the people; Demens(+1) flowed behind the slant quickly, took on a TE trying to peel off onto him, kept his feet, and grabbed Bell at the LOS. Morgan(+1) is also flowing behind, cognizant of the slant, and gets from the backside to Bell, finishing the tackle(+1). Pipkins(+0.5) made it impossible for anyone to get out on Morgan, BTW.|
|M23||2||8||I-Form 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||7|
|Quick hit in front of Floyd(-0.5), who's a long way off this time. Throw is marginal and takes Burbridge off his feet, so no YAC.|
|M16||3||1||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power||Campbell||4|
|Campbell(-1) gets blown back by a double; Washington(-2) is turned and pancaked when he is engaged with the C and takes one shove from the RG. Morgan(+1) nails the two lead blockers in the backfield, which could lead to another stop but the DT dissolution provides a cutback lane for an easy conversion. Bell has to slow down to get around all this traffic, giving various folks time to converge.|
|M12||1||10||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Trickeration scramble||Ryan||10|
|The reverse throwback play. Gordon(+1, cover +1, RPS +1) has the throwback to the QB covered; Kovacs is shooting directly at the WR trying to throw when he gets blocked... almost in the back. But not quite. His momentum's off now and the WR dodges him. Ryan(-2) has the next shot and overruns it badly; Roh was coming from the edge and got blocked past the play. Now he's all running in a chaotic broken field and gets down to the one.|
|M2||1||G||Goal line||Goal line||Pass||N/A||PA TE corner||Morgan||2|
|Morgan(-1, cover -1, RPS -1) sucks up on the play action, open guy, TD.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6-7, 7 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace twins||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Washington||1|
|Washington(+1) stands up McDonald; the play is going away from the H-back, who hits a backside gap Morgan is not in. Morgan gets a free flow as a result. Bell decides to run away from that; Washington sheds. That's a TFL but Bell bounces it outside. Roh(+0.5) disengages from the tackle to chase. Floyd(+1, tackling +1) charges up and chops Bell down at the ankles, preventing any YAC.|
|O21||2||9||Shotgun 2-back||4-3 even||Pass||N/A||Screen||Ryan||7|
|A pretty much normal screen with a flare fake to Bell and then Caper slipping out on the other side. Entire DL sucks up with no pursuit except Campbell. Roh(-0.5) and Washington(-0.5) go for the QB and eliminated themselves. Caper now has three blockers in a lot of space. One peels off for Campbell. A second goes for Demens. A third takes Ryan. Ryan(+2) does what he does, which is look like he's going outside and then redirect under a slower player to show up after he cuts upfield. He keeps leverage AND makes the tackle. Boom. Tackling +1; RPS -1. Took a badass play from Ryan to prevent this from being big.|
|O28||3||2||Shotgun twins TE||4-3 under||Pass||4||Throwaway||N/A||Inc|
|Bell motions out for a trips TE look. They roll to the trips. Maxwell biffs here; Taylor(-1, cover -1)) bugs out deep on a guy who is covered deeper and leaves Bell open; Maxwell hesitates, starts rolling further outside the pocket, and chucks it OOB. Had Bell for the first. I guess Beyer(+0.5) gets some credit for holding the edge and getting up in his face.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 6-7, 4 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O48||1||10||Ace twins||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Pipkins||3|
|Pipkins(-1) gets blown out by a double. Black(+1) and Roh(+1) are single blocked and both take their guys into the space vacated by Washington, closing off the hole before Bell can reach it. Bell stops. He can bounce to the outside because Roh crashed to cut off the hole and Pipkins got blown downfield so the linebackers can't flow. Demens again eats two OL.|
|M49||2||7||I-Form 3-wide||4-3 under press||Pass||5||Hitch||Taylor||3|
|Always going to be a nothing pass as all the routes are hitches against man. Taylor(+1, cover +1) is there to tackle on a three yard catch. Ryan(+0.5) avoided a cut and harassed.|
|M46||3||4||Ace||Nickel even||Pass||4||TE Dig||Black||INT|
|Clark(+0.5) gets a little bit of pressure from the edge, causing Maxwell to step up in the pocket a bit. Black(+0.5, pressure +1) is now leaping at Maxwell as he tries to throw. Avery(+1, cover +1) is in the TE's back pocket here and has a play on almost any well-thrown ball. The ball sails to Tacopants, and eventually falls to Kovacs(+1), who makes the INT.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 6-7, 2 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O9||1||10||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Campbell||1|
|Campbell(+2) blasts McDonald back one on one and forces a Bell cutback. Washington has given ground but took two blockers, push. Demens(+0.5) is free and sees the cutback; he tackles in the hole.|
|O10||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power||Beyer||2|
|Gordon comes down late for a seventh man in the box as M goes man free on the back end. Beyer(+1) knows he's got help outside and fights inside a kickout. Roh(-1) got blown up by a double as a DT, but that'll happen. Beyer rakes the ball out; Morgan(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) had constricted available space to likely make this a third and medium anyway. MSU somehow recovers.|
|O12||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||5-1 nickel||Pass||5||Slant||Taylor||10|
|Avery comes down of the slot and blitzes. Maxwell picks the outside slant correctly and hits it. Taylor(-1) came up hard but to the inside, apparently expecting short hitch #1000. RPS -1, Pressure -1... this got picked up.|
|O22||1||10||I-Form twins||4-3 over||Pass||4||Dumpoff||Ryan||Inc|
|Time is good for MSU; Campbell does come under a guy and start moving into the pocket with Clark also arriving (pressure -1) to make it not horrible. Coverage(+2) is excellent downfield, Maxwell checks down to a fullback who drops the ball. He was getting nowhere anyway as Ryan(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) were about to crush this.|
|O22||2||10||I-Form 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power||Ryan||1|
|Ryan(+1) looks to take on a kickout, pops upfield of it, and falls over as he beats the block, grabbing Bell's leg as he does so. Demens(+1) clubs the pulling G at the LOS and stand him up; Black(+0.5) comes from the backside to wrap up after Bell finally steps through the arm tackle attempt.|
|O23||3||9||Shotgun 2-back||5-1 nickel press||Pass||5||Slant||Floyd||Inc|
|Mumphery against Floyd on the slant; Floyd(+2, cover +1) does give up the inside a bit but rides him and is in position to make a play on the ball as it arrives. Meh throw; didn't really matter.|
|Drive Notes: FAKE punt, 9-7, 10 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O49||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||4-3 under press||Pass||5||Fly||Floyd||Inc|
|Burbridge has exactly one step on Floyd(+0.5, cover +1) and this throw would have to be perfect. It's long.|
|O49||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Pass||4||Slant||Taylor||12|
|M shows man. Taylor(-2, cover -1, tackling -1) takes a crappy angle to the slant and ends up upfield of the WR; his off balance tackle attempt is run through. That is baaaad. Gordon(+1) is there to clean up, thankfully, making a solid tackle that prevents anything big from going down.|
|M39||1||10||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power||Beyer||5|
|Beyer(-1) in at SDE and the difference between him and Roh is noticeable. He gets blown off the ball by a double; LBs blocked by the TE and pulling G as FB kicks Ryan. Demens funnels; Morgan takes on a block, folks tackle after five. Basically standard stuff once you've lost that double at the POA.|
|M34||2||5||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power||Campbell||4|
|At the other side of the line. Campbell(-0.5) gets creased a little bit. Heitzman(-1) runs straight upfield past the kickout so the gap is pretty big. LBs take on blockers as well as they can but Bell is just running up the backs of his OL and can push the pile.|
|M30||3||1||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power||Roh||2|
|M slants playside. Roh(+1) gets under the guard and drives in to the backside of the play, forcing a cutback behind him. Ryan(+0.5) is there in that gap to stall that initial cutback. Demens comes up to start pushing; Bell manages to find a tiny crease and pushes through it.|
|M28||1||10||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Pitch sweep||Kovacs||2|
|Quick pitch with a motioning TE blocking down as the tackle pulls around him Kovacs(+2) is initially hesitant as he follows the TE motion since he's in man on the guy, then realizes it's a run and attacks outside. WR cracks down on Demens. Ryan(-1) tries to shoot upfield of the pulling T and gets shoved past the play, the T is delayed but continues his pull, dangerous. Floyd(+1) is trying to contain against two guys now. He avoids a cut and spins outside; Kovacs(tackling +1) screams through the gap between the two OL that Floyd helped create by not going down to the cut and needing another blocker to deal with him; he's charging fast but manages to hang on and tackles; everyone's falling forward but whatever, great play.|
|M26||2||8||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Pass||5||Corner||Taylor||14 + 6 Pen|
|Maxwell has to throw as Ryan(+1, pressure +1) is shedding a blocker and about to hit him. Campbell(-1) is also coming from behind after dodging a blocker with agility(!) and would get a plus… if he didn't rough the passer after Maxwell dumps it. Alas. The corner route is to a blanketed receiver; Taylor's got the coverage. He wraps his arm around the guy and gets a penalty call, but he's also in great position. This throw has to be inch perfect and a great catch; it's both. Taylor(-1, cover +1) gets a minus for a legit PI call but he was in the right spot to make a play, which is what coverage attempts to measure. Taylor goes out on this play. Avery replaces him.|
|M6||1||G||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Pass||5||PA TE delay||Gordon||Inc|
|Ryan(+1, pressure +1) beats the RT and hits Maxwell either as or just after he throws. Beyer(+0.5) and Washington(+0.5) also surge up in the pocket, demanding a throw. That throw is a highly delayed pass to the TE that Gordon(+2, cover +2) is waiting for and PBUs.|
|M6||2||G||Ace twins||4-4 under press||Run||N/A||Power||Demens||2|
|TE kicks Ryan; Beyer(+0.5) slants inside the tackle, which makes the tackle hesitate. Demens(+1) plugs the pulling G at the LOS; Morgan(+0.5) is there as Demens funnels to him, many people stop Bell's momentum.|
|M4||3||G||I-Form Big||Goal line||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Floyd||2|
|They motion a TE to Floyd's side and run at him. Floyd(+1) fights outside the block. Morgan(+1) is flowing hard at the play and Bell has no choice but to try and run up the back of the blocker; Floyd and Morgan tackle(+1). Kovacs(+1) shot a gap that made the outside the only possible place to go BTW.|
|Drive Notes: FG(19), 9-10, 5 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O9||1||10||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Outside trap||Campbell||0|
|MSU trying to get a quick trap block on Campbell(+2) by blocking down with the tackle, bringing the G around him, and hitting the bubble between Campbell and Roh. Campbell blows through the down block and gets into the trapper. Roh(+0.5) has contain. Gordon and Morgan are both in the hole against one blocker; Bell tries to cut back and hits the guy blocking Campbell. Beyer(+0.5) avoided a cut and flows down the line to tackle.|
|O9||2||10||I-Form||4-4 under||Pass||4||PA slant||Floyd||Inc|
|Two man route. Primary is a slant Floyd(+1, cover +1) is in excellent position on; Gordon(+1) is rolled up in the box but drops off in time to make a delayed throw a bad idea. WR tries to break back outside, stil covered by Floyd(+1, cover +1) and the ball sails wide. Pressure -1, all day but two man route.|
|O9||3||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||3||Screen||Morgan||4|
|Morgan(+1) gets outside of the lone OL blocker already out and forces the play back into Ryan(+1) who showed blitz and backed out. Ryan tackles after a meh gain, punching the ball out, MSU gets it back. RPS +2, screen in to three man rush had no chance.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 9-10, 2 min 4th Q|
I'm already bored with this.
Not enough points. This isn't boringsball. It's football.
You can't be serious.
Whatever happened to games that ended with 70 points being scored?
You mean like last year's OSU game?
You liked giving up 34 points to Jim Bollman.
I wasn't… oh fine.
|Roh||14.5||3.5||11.5||Field day against backup freshman tackle.|
|Campbell||5.5||3.5||2||Big play on final drive.|
|Washington||3.5||3||0.5||Mostly eating doubles on power.|
|Beyer||4.5||1||3.5||Beyer surges into tentative WDE lead on run heavy day.|
|Pipkins||0.5||3||-2.5||Blown up once.|
|TOTAL||34||15||19||Little bit of dropoff from Illinois but not much.|
|Morgan||9||2||7||Remember the athleticism worries with him?|
|Demens||7.5||1||6.5||Four straight +++ games.|
|Ryan||17.5||3||14.5||I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS|
|Floyd||12.5||5||7.5||Recovered from meh start to have damn fine day.|
|Avery||2||-||2||May have contributed to INT.|
|Taylor||4||7||-3||Missed a couple slants; MSU switched to targeting him late.|
|Kovacs||5||4||1||Did biff a robber zone, also had awesome Kovacsplay.|
|T. Gordon||7||5||2||Gave up the big one.|
|TOTAL||30.5||21||9.5||As a whole, a pass.|
|Pressure||16||6||10||Even the deep throws were like one two three chuck.|
|Coverage||22||8||14||Maxwell helped here with some indecision.|
|Tackling||12||4||75%||Bell didn't plow anyone.|
This has been an interesting experience since every week I look at the numbers I've collected and then think to myself "oh crap those are too high" and then go check the boxscore and think "actually…"
This week's "Actually"…
- Maxwell averaged a Sheridan-like 5.6 YPC and threw an INT.
- MSU averaged 3.3 YPC once sacks and the fake punt are removed; Bell ran for 2.6 YPC.
- The sole play longer than 20 yards was the bomb to Fowler on which Gordon was in position and neither found the ball nor played the man.
- Michigan forced two fumbles that MSU was fortunate to recover.
- MSU scored 10 points on 12 drives.
So, yeah. The DL numbers are down a bit except for Roh, who didn't do much on the scoresheet but as Ace mentioned on the podcast is becoming a guy running backs cut behind into their doom three times a game. He had a super-easy matchup against MSU's 6'3" backup LT and exploited that to his credit. He is really tough to seal.
I can't be the only guy who saw that first playcall and had flashbacks to last year. Well, Roh is a ton better at not getting put away by WRs (and BJ Cunningham isn't walking through that door) this year and he strings the play out until the cavalry rallies.
Ryan… par for the course. Also both ILBs have shed that early-season hesitation and the pesky freshmen.
As for JT Floyd…
AAAAAH JT FLOYD AAAAAH
Let's talk Floyd. He started off poorly, getting flung to the ground by Burbridge and beaten deep by him—on an incompletion—en route to being –3-ish, and then he ate some spinach. MSU kept going after him with slants
and deep stuff
and this isn't really going after him but this is a nice fill and tackle.
and then they started throwing at Raymon Taylor. Floyd went from targeted weak point to guy Michigan State is avoiding over the course of a quarter or so. It is really rare for a DB to rack up the kind of numbers Floyd does because the kind of guys capable of racking up a +12.5 to the positive at corner never get the opportunity because they don't get thrown at. You can only get there if the opposing offensive coordinator thinks you suck. Floyd proved otherwise against a hyped athlete.
Have the freshmen linebackers been vanquished for good?
Ah yup. As long as Morgan and Demens are playing like they are, it's wait until next year for those guys aside from a few drives a game against not Nebraska or Ohio State where Michigan tries to get them some experience. Last week it was Demens turning in the highlight reel stuff; this time Morgan led the way with a series of you're-done-now tackles. This one on Bell was the best:
Morgan is taking on a block and can only reach out for an arm tackle against LeVeon Bell going north and south, and Bell's momentum evaporates. The delay lets Michigan rally to the ball, sets up a third and short—against which Michigan is still deadly—and on the next play Roh and Ryan slant under to boot State off the field. A missed field goal attempt follows. In a game of inches like this one, you can point to Morgan being able to just about stop a 250-pound mooseback like Bell with one arm as the difference in the game.
That hesitation this site complained about for about a year solid seems gone. Here's Morgan coming from the backside of the play to make a tackle near the LOS:
I'm not sure this happens a few weeks ago. For one, the line has kept the LBs clean. For two, both of the LBs are biasing their motion away from Michigan's DL slant, which is not something they were doing early in the year. Morgan seems to have a better sense of where the ball is going to end up based on the defensive call, and more faith that his defensive line will execute the slant well enough to make the cutback lanes he's hesitated checking for a distant possibility.
With apologies to Wisconsin and Penn State, we may have just seen the two best LB units in the league go head to head. You can make the case, at least, and that's good enough in terms of hot sprotstakes with no definable metric.
Have the last vapors of GERG been chased away?
I think so. Michigan gave up some yards on reverses this game, which okay. Those were 10-12 yard gains. What struck me, though, were three different attempts to fool Michigan into leaving the backside unprotected, none of which succeeded. On the first Kenny Demens was invited to scream into Maxwell's chest, passed, and turned what coulda mighta shoulda been an RPS –2 to play into an incompletion:
Demens ends up getting outrun at the end there and there is a window; he successfully turned that play from an argh-where-is-everybody 20-yard-gain into an extremely difficult downfield completion to a guy who is not a natural receiver.
The second was the trick play that eventually became a first and goal after Lippett ran places and did things; on that one Gordon hung back, taking away the throwback to the QB. Gordon did it again on the final attempt, when MSU released a TE way late and Gordon was there for the PBU. These guys know their assignments and trust that the rest of the defense will execute for them.
A couple years ago we were enduring wheelapalooza against Illinois; these days you get extremely scanty opportunities to hit something easy and pick up free yards. MSU set up one screen that Jake Ryan did his leverage-but-wait-there's-more-FREE-TACKLE thing on that would have been a nice gain and Kovacs sucked up on a post. Other than that, bupkis.
Crappy opponent offenses, sure. Michigan hasn't really blown anything since Air Force, and that was not on Kovacs but a scheme against the triple option that won't be relevant again. That's half a season. Against anyone, that's impressive—ask OSU, which gave up an 83-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against Purdue on Saturday.
Solid, solid, solid. Michigan is about as good as you can be on defense without having an elite pass rusher on the DL.
Let this also inform all judgments levied on the safety numbers. Yes, the individual numbers. Also look at the coverage—Michigan has not been this consistently good at that metric since I started doing this.
We didn't get any pressure. Worry?
I actually thought Michigan did a pretty good job of getting to the quarterback. MSU had a lot of short stuff; their long stuff was as quickly developing as it can be since it was all throwing it to Burbridge as he ran straight downfield. On a number of those attempts, Maxwell was about to get hit. So it wasn't as dire as the single sack implied.
This is never going to be great until Michigan's getting better production out of its WDE spot, but Ryan and Roh coming off the same edge is decent. If you've got a worry, this is it; scanning the teams left on the schedule doesn't reveal a lot of teams that like to just drop back and bomb it deep.
Roh, Ryan, Floyd, and to a somewhat lesser extent the two ILBs.
For a second week: GTFO. You could maybe pick on Taylor but he is a part of that coverage number, so no.
What does it mean for Nebraska and beyond?
Nebraska will be Michigan's stiffest test since Alabama. They're running the ball all over the place and use a wide panoply of different looks that will put that hesitation lack under the microscope. Don't be fooled by the close game against Northwestern, which was the product of an avalanche of special teams miscues. They've put up over 400 yards on Wisconsin and OSU and Taylor Martinez is much improved as a passer—grumble grumble aging makes people better not worse? They will be a stiff test even if Burkhead is out.
I don't really know what to expect. No one has held Nebraska under 29, and that's a tough number to see Michigan's offense exceeding against a team with one of those pulse things these days unless Michigan takes the O out of the garage some, but that's another post.
Michigan will see its entire front seven extensively tested by the run game and will need to win one on one matchups outside if they're going to make Kovacs the tiny linebacker who was so effective last year. I'm 50/50 on whether that will happen—Nebraska's WRs are one of the hidden secrets in the conference and they're coming off a great game.
Touch and go, touch and go. I think Michigan will hold them to a season low in yards and points since they just don't give up anything big on the ground, like, ever—but if they keep Nebraska under 20 that will be a wow experience.