"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
There has been spirited debate about the angles that Ohio University LB Rufus took in tackling the OSU RB Brutus during last Saturday's game. Does increased head mass require a higher tackling angle, or should traditional non-encephalitic technique be employed?
It is early in the game, with OSU lined up in a 1-1-9. The RB is parallel with the fat dork carrying the flag. The OLine of nine band weenies is clearly off the line of scrimmage in an illegal formation, but this doesn't get called; we're in the Horseshoe, after all.
Unblocked, Rufus arrows towards Brutus demonstrating, at first glance, excellent technique with arms wide to wrap up the opponent.
But here the question of angle v. encephalitis comes into play. What can’t be seen at this angle is that the RB’s momentum is carrying him past the impact point targeted by the OU LB, exposing why a traditional, lower attack point is desired. The OSU RB pulls away with a little, mincing gesture with his forearm and clocks the fat dork (FD) in the head with his opposite elbow. By the way, WTF is with that running OSU dude on the left side of page? I’ll tell you what it is: too many men on the field.
At this point, it looks like the unblocked OU LB will tackle for a decisive TFL.
But then we see the consequences of hitting the OSU player too high: with help from the OSU FD, Brutus maintains his balance and stands up Rufus.
If Rufus hits the OSU player just above the knees, then there is no opportunity for Brutus to recover. The OLine here is still in pre-snap formation revealing that this is a trick play.
Rufus begins to slip as the RB deflects his momentum…
…and loses contain letting the RB into the secondary with a convoy of blockers...
The RB makes a mistake: he slows up and begins to taunt the OU sideline. Rufus cuts between the WR and the TE in pursuit...
Notice the poor blocking on the part of the OSU WR running with Brutus downfield. How can you let Rufus approach your RB untouched? Again, the OU LB takes waaaay too high of an angle at the goal line. Seriously, what is this? Who tackles a player this high? Shame on the RB for walking into the end zone. Typical OSU classiness.
Rufus hits high...
...and already in the end zone, the OU LB commits the personal foul with unnecessary roughness…
...yet still demonstating why it is important to hit the player low; he still can't get him down. Bonus: notice the abused, defeated expression on Brutus's face...
This is not football; it is more reminiscent of Bogs in Shawshank. The infamous punch that got Rufus suspended from the OU team leaves Brutus a shell of mascot.
Teammates hang their heads in shame.
Takeaways: Even large-headed mascots must maintain proper tacking angles. They should not compensate for higher mass distribution with a higher attack point. Paradoxically, the higher mass point makes mascots more vulnerable to the classic leg tackle.
Also, there is no place in football for the kind of personal foul witnessed at the end of the play. Even when the other team is execrable as OSU, keep it clean. Don't sink to their level.
Edit: Special thanks to a friend who took those pictures in the endzone (I pulled the link so that we stop overloading her server).
After the positive response to last week's diary, I thought I'd do another. But I couldn't compel myself to breakdown our game with Umass because really, what would be the point? There's not a whole lot to learn from that game that we didn't know already. i.e. Denard is teh aweseom, mike martin is a beast, craig roh is evolving into a beast, but our LB's and secondary are uggghhh, but that has been expected.
So instead, I thought I'd breakdown the ND vs. MSU game because
- It was a more interesting game that doesn't make me want to reach for massive amounts of alcohol
- I can continue my analysis of ND's personnel problems
- ND runs many plays that are similar to ours, so breaking them down will actually be transferrable to our team's scheme
- It'll be good for when I write up a scouting report for the MSU game
- I really hate ND and hope they lose the rest of their games, so if I can give any of their opponents some insight, yea! (btw, stanford will blow them out)
So let's do this:
Notre Dame's screen game
As noted before, ND's linemen are not a good fit for what Brian Kelly wants to do. I feel a little bit silly criticizing an offense that is putting up nearly 30 points a game and a ton of yardage. But they're really failing to live up to their full potential.
Here's ND's first screen.
They split Armando Allen up to the top of the field with the ball on the hash, so it's a much shorter distance for the linemen to run. I like this adjustment by kelly. Get the ball to one of your best players in space and make things easier on your slow linemen.
With three WR on the other side of the field pulling 4 defenders with them, this play should really go to the house.
But look how close to the LOS Allen has to go to get behind his linemen. Faster D-linemen or even a d-line spy will completely blow this play up.
Anyway, ND manages to get 2 linemen in front of Allen and there's a blocker for every defender, but BOTH linemen miss their blocks and this play only gains about 7 yards instead of being a 60 yard TD.
Here's the other play from the same formation.
The formation is flipped because the ball is on the other hash. Rudolph will run the bubble screen to the top of the field
With a normal slot receiver, like odoms, or steve breaston, this play is an automatic 7 yards against this defensive alignment and maybe breaks for 20. All the slot receiver has to do is outrun the LB to the corner. The safety is unblocked, but if he gets caught up in the wash or takes a bad angle, this could be a big play.
But Rudolph is not exactly nimble and Crist doesn't put very good touch or placement on this ball since he's used to being a downfield gunslinger instead of a spread and shred point guard. And so it's just an incompletion and a waste of what should have been a decent gain.
They followed this up with the third option from this formation which was crist running up the middle on a QB draw, but he's not exactly denard and only got like 3 yards. All of this was on the first series, so it's probably scripted, and it wasn't really setup well. You don't run that QB draw until you see the LB's are bailing out to cover the screens, but since ND's wide screens didn't pose much of a threat on the first two plays, the LB's were sitting at home and gobbled him up.
Later in the game, crist missed riddick on a bubble, cause he doesn't have the touch for the flare pass, so they came back to the screen to riddick on the other side, again to the short side of the field.
The play starts with crist either misreading he RB bubble to the top of the field, or it was a called screen to riddick all the way
One linemen does manage to get a block. He's too slow to get downfield, but at least he's being useful. You can't say that about the other two linemen who are BEHIND riddick.
If not for riddick's nifty spin move, this play gets destroyed for a minor gain.
Here's the fake screen slant. This is the play that we sprang odoms on for wide open TD's.
The problem with ND's execution is that they're not selling the fake very hard.
Combine that with their ineffective previous attempts and the fact that Crist isn't much of a threat to run, and it's easy for the safety to stay at home. He has no reason to bite on either the bubble screen fake or the qb run. When Denard takes one step up into the hole, the safeties panic and you get easy TD's
The result is a tough throw for crist to fit into a tighter window, and the safety breaks up the play for an incompletion.
Here's MSU showing the proper execution of the bubble screen.
ND shows 2 deep, but rolls up late just before the snap
But with a fast enough slot man it shouldn't matter. The ball is placed in front of the receiver so he can make the catch with forward momentum.
And even if the safety hadn't missed the tackle, it would have been an easy 7 yard gain. It's like stealing.
MSU did this many times for a lot of yards.
Here's virtually the same play, but to the other side.
The OLB has all his weight forward and the safety is in no position to do anything on the bubble option.
The handoff fake holds the OLB even more.
Resulting in a wide open keshawn martin with a ton of room to make an easy first down.
When you've got a new coach and a new system, and probably new jargon, you expect there to be a few clusterf*cks. Here's ND totally screwing up a screen just before the half.
So MSU is doing their 3rd and long thing by having one of the extra DB's bail out into a really deep third just before the snap. Again, the OLB are blitzing.
It looks like the two slot receivers were on the wrong side. There's two linemen releasing, but they're on the wrong side for riddick's screen action. Crist is looking at rudolph the whole way, but rudolph thinks he's blocking. And the amazing this is that this gem of an f'up came after a timeout.
Late in the 4th quarter, Kelly decides he's had enough of the cutesy screens and goes with something a little more tradition that his lineman can handle.
The left tackle pops up for just a brief moment to show pass blocking, but then hauls ass downfield to lead the play.
The tackle doesn't really get much of a block on the safety, but at least he's out in front of the play.
Rudolph gets away with a slight hold. Good pursuit and the lack of the spread option fakes results in Allen only getting about 10 yards. But it's a positive play, just with a lower ceiling.
I'm going to keep harping on this; until crist really settles down (which may be very soon, and ND's offense will be scary when that happens), stopping Allen is the key to stopping ND.
Here he is on a simple shovel pass. ND ran this twice to great effect.
MSU is bringing pressure from the edges. The slot receiver is pointing out that 'his man' is blitzing allowing the qb to change the play. MSU's defenders start off in a cover 2, but one of the nicklebacks bails out at the last second to take the deep middle.
This is meant to give the qb, an automatic check down to the slot receiver who will be wide open, but only for a gain of 7-10 yards with the 2nd line of defenders holding at the sticks. This is a staple of most defenses these days, where you show one look, wait for the QB to change the play, and then switch into a different defense.
Kelly should get an RPS +2 on this because with both OLB's blitzing, they take themselves right out of the play. The middle backer is covering one of the seam routes, but the seam route on the bottom of the field would probably have gotten a first down, or close to it. If you weren't running the shovel pass, the proper thing to do against this defense is to attack that deep safety who a) is playing out of position, b) just had a 20 yard sprint to get into position and is still moving backwards, and c) is 10 yards beyond the the 1st down marker.
The blocking is set up ok, but ND's linemen can't maintain their blocks. It doesn't matter as Allen eludes them and picks up about 20 yards with some nifty cuts.
But WTH, refs? Is it illegal to call holding against ND? sheesh!
Here's Allen on a counter trap from the shotgun
Notice he's aligned even with the QB. This indicates a lateral mesh.
But instead of the normal motion, the LB's need to key his feet, as he does more of a choppy step mesh so that he can bend it back against the grain. The line blocks down on the nose, the tackle lets his pass rusher go upfield, and the pulling lineman is isolated on the LB.
Floyd doesn't know his assignment, leaving the safety unblocked. Had he done his job Allen would have been able to cut to the sideline.
Instead he's forced into a safety sandwich.
Here's the straight play from that same alignment.
For some reason, Floyd has decided to take this play off.
The slot man is always wide open for 5 yards against this alignment if the LB doesn't cheat the flare. Allen goes through the mesh quicker to get around the far tackle. ND gets a nice lead block from the guard who twists around the tackle into the hole.
Floyd just kind of ignores his man and wanders into the middle of the field. Contrast this to the guard who is on his horse to hit someone.
So guess who makes the tackle.
Here's yet another way to give him the ball.
It's shotgun, trips right, Allen is also to the right of Crist
At the snap, both Allen and Crist sprint to the right, but Allen will peel back to take the handoff.
With all the action going to the right, and the formation strength that way too, the safety and LB are both sucked in and Allen gets over 10 yards on this carry.
One way to stop Allen on the zone dives and inside traps is to blitz the corner.
After Rudolph finishes his motion, the corner shows blitz and the safety slides over to 'cover' his WR.
This is a similar play to something we run. And it's up to the QB to see the blitzing corner and audible out or throw the checkdown to the WR. Here Allen just gets gobbled up.
The kid from Hawaii
Here's MSU running a sweep.
Teo reads the action flowing with the line
When he sees the ball, he's just gone.
That's impressive. To get that big of a TFL when you're not even blitzing takes some crazy speed.
In the 4th quarter he made a similar play
The H-back and FB are leading around the corner on the sweep.
But this time the OLB is doing a slightly better job of extending the corner, if he doesn't really have contain.
Teo just shoots through that tiny gap with blazing speed.
Making the fullback's head spin.
But he still needs to learn to wrap up better.
On this 3rd and long, he's spying the RB.
MSU manages to get 3! linemen out in front of the RB. (Hey ND, what a novel idea!) Teo reads the screen and gets on his horse to lay some lumber on Bell.
He reacts so fast that he beats all three linemen to the punch and gets a good pop on the ball carrier.
But Bell is strong enough and has good enough balance that he shakes off the hit, spins around and heads upfield. And because all 4! of ND's linemen have been fooled on the play, Bell manages to get 1st down yardage even though Teo completely confused MSU's 3 lead blockers, otherwise this play might have gone the distance.
When he's not blind in one eye and thinking he's batman, he can be a very effective QB. Just not a spread QB. It'll be interesting to see what kelly does with him in the future, especialy if Floyd or Rudolph or both are in the pro's next year. Already he is very strong at the intermediate routes and hitting receivers that are moving across his vision. He has a lot of trouble with overthrowing flys and putting touch on flares as documented above.
But they did manage to hit some bubble screens in the second half, and when he underthrows Floyd for jump balls, it's a deadly combination. Of course we saw the one time he connected on a fly with rudolph, so the future is bright for him.
He's never going to be a one step darter like denard, but other than mike vick, who can be? Teams are not going to respect him on the zone read option, or they'll hope he keeps it and gets his head knocked in again.
He did throw one bad interception, but I credit MSU's defense on that play. It was an interesting play for many reasons.
Before the snap, crist reads man coverage so he changes the play. The MSU LB's see this and they change the defense.
But it still looks like man coverage
The only giveaway is the two deep safeties, but sometimes teams will play man underneath the 2 deep.
The far right WR runs a little hook, and crist is trying to hit the corner route thinking he's got a LB on his slot receiver.
But the corner comes off his receiver to make the interception.
This was well disguised by MSU.
And it got another classic reaction from Kelly
In nearly an identical situation in the 2nd half, crist again audibles thinking it's man coverage
Which it is.
MSU is in an all out blitz. But the line blocks down as crist rolls away from the unblocked blitzer.
The big change here is that the two outside receivers both run square in's taking their men with them. This eliminates the possibility of a corner coming off his man to get the pick.
Rudolph beats the man coverage from the safety and crist hits him in stride for the TD.
Notes on MSU's offense:
Keshawn Martin, has some good moves on the bubble screen, very dangerous, tall, fast, and he's got some shake n' bake to him. Made a bad decision on one kickoff return.
Cousin's looks very sharp, but he did totally favre an interception in the endzone by rolling left and throwing back to the right very late when nothing was open.
They like to run a lot of I slot and double tight formations. The counter quick pitch works well for them, they get decent blocking from their WR.
Here we have MSU in a doubletight formation and an H back in a power set to the left.
ND is seriously misaligned against this formation. Because the replay was still showing, I don't know if MSU motioned to this formation and ND didn't adjust, or if they just screwed the pooch coming out of the huddle.
The H-back has no one to block because the OLB is on the wrong side.
So he just goes looking for someone to hit, which ends up being one of the safeties and it's an easy 15 yard run on 1st down.
Here's another example of the shifts and motion MSU will use to try to get teams out of alignment.
It starts as a double tight ace set. ND is in a base 3-4 instead of their usual 4-3.
The flanker moves up and the TE drops to an H-back position. ND is doing some WEIRD corner blitz. Weird because they're showing it very early, and inviting the qb to throw to the uncovered man.
The H-back ends up in an offset I. This is a strong indication of a run to the left. A good checkdown would be a 3 yard sitdown to the uncovered WR, anything longer will be vulnerable to the sneeky safety who is 'covering' him.
Both the corner and the OLB come hard off the edge. This is an assignment run blitz with the corner responsible for the QB and the OLB for the RB. But the play is going away from them, so they can't do anything. The playside OLB has lost contain almost immediately
The guard get's just enough of Teo to trip him up and prevent him from blowing this up for a TFL. The H-back is now just a lead blocker and he gets a great seal and the play results in another big chunk of yards for MSU
On this next play, MSU is in an unbalanced line.
Both the TE and WR are on the same side making the TE covered and inelligible. The slot man goes in motion but comes back to the heavy side. From this formation, this indicates a run to the left 99.99% of the time. There's a couple ways to deal with an unbalanced line. One is to just shift the entire defense over and pretend that the left guard is the center. Instead, ND rolls up a safety to maintain contain. The weakside corner backs off, and the remaining safety moves over to give a 3 deep look (on what is obviously a running down).
At the snap, the right guard pulls and the line blocks down to the right. For some reason, the D-line is slanting to their left. I have no idea why. (This play was going to the D's right from square one.) It might be because the FB takes an initial step to the right as the QB gives a cross buck handoff to the TB who has what amounts to 3 lead blockers on this play. (The pulling guard, the slot man, and the fullback)
This leaves a big crevice in the front seven that MSU runs right through. The slot man kicks out the safety playing contain. The TE just takes his slanting OLB away from the play. The pulling guard gets a great seal on DE, leaving the FB looking for someone to block.
That someone ends up being the remaining safety, TD MSU.
Baker, Bell, Caper
Their RB's have deceptive speed. You don't expect men that big to have such a good initial burst and acceleration. On Baker's long TD's this season, safeties have taken bad angles on him.
This play starts as a zone dive to the right from a double tight, double flanker right formation.
There's an option to throw the bubble to the top, but it's pretty well covered with 3 defenders. The playside OLB is unblocked. The sneaky part of this play is that the left tackle just pushes off on the man lined up on him and releases to the 2nd level.
A gaping hole opens up for the cutback as baker bends it back against the grain because the backside DE has gotten way too far upfield and gets sucked in by a good QB rollout fake. QB fakes are one of my pet peeves. They seem like such small things, but they can make the difference on a lot of plays. Denard has been great at this. Crist, not so much.
The safety is in position to stop this play after 10 yards, but he misjudges Baker's speed
He doesn't breakdown, gets his feet tangled, and Baker is off to the races (thanks to some good downfield blocking by the WR). And as anyone who's been watching Michigan football the last few years knows all too well, when the safety misses a tackle, the result is usually DOOM.
Here's another play that either shows the speed of MSU's RBs or the lack of speed by ND's safeties.
The formation is a simple I slot left. The OLB is in good position to defend the bubble screen.
On the snap, the QB reverses out and the left guard pulls. This is in the 4th quarter and the entire front seven gets sucked into this power iso dive look.
The tailback takes one plant step to the right and then cuts hard left to take the quick pitch. The slot man needs to get a block on the OLB, but the safety is unblocked.
But he takes a terrible angle. The DE has no hope of catching Baker.
The result is a 15 yard gain.
Karma is a bitch
Ok, ND fans have a right to some whining this week, sort of.
Yes Cunningham was out of bounds on his tying TD catch, and yes it should have been a flag because he wasn't really pushed out.
Yes, the play clock was at zero on the fake field goal.
Yes, there could have been holding or offensive pass interference called on the fake field goal.
ND just got spartied in spartan stadium by the spartans. We feel your pain, domers. It is written somewhere that every signature MSU win must come on a controversial play. Like when Desmond was interfered with in the endzone. Like when TJ Duckett scored thanks to spartan bob and a blatant hold that wasn't called.
But after the last century of favorable calls, phantom TD's, and other crazy BS that has gone ND's way, it was bound to balance out eventually. Just consider the last two decades as balancing the preceding one hundred.
"Little Giants" was a ballsy call, nearly as good as Texas's fourth down 'roll left', and the football gods reward gutsy moves.
So hopefully Dantonio will continue to make them, if it doesn't kill him first. Get well soon, and thanks for an entertaining game coach D.
So I missed last week because I was really busy. So I've picked up the baton this week and am resuming Other People's Pressers. Dave Clawson is the guy for Bowling Green and here are a few notes I took based on the audio (what? no transcripts??) of his 25 min presser. There is also audio of questions to LB Eugene "Champ" Fells and Bryan Wright, but I haven't had time to listen to those.
On our personnel:
- He coached in FCS at Richmond for several years and the closest analogue to Denard is Armanti Edwards. Richmond played Appy St in the FCS semifinals in 2006 and lost. Said Armanti Edwards "had a very good day" against them. (Incidentally, UMass coach said something similar in reference to Edwards when they played in the 2007 semifinals - the year of The Horror).
- Denard is strong for his size, quick, fast, makes impressive throws. Has great arm strength, makes nfl throws, and is accurate
- They have a kid (backup QB Caleb Watkins) "being Denard" in practice, but that it's "hard to duplicate the speed of what they’re doing" because DR is so fast. Mentioned that he heard DR ran something like a 4.32 40 in HS and that he's the fastest player on the UM team.
- Defensively, Mike Martin is a big strong guy, and UM has a big DL, averaging something like 290lbs.
- LBs can run, which is a challenge.
On our schemes:
- W/r/t our offense, it's like defending 2 back run game out of 1 back set. A lot of run-pass dilemmas due to ability to run QB. This will be a big challenge defensively for BGSU.
- On our defense, UM struggled defensively last week, but looking at the UConn and ND tapes, solid efforts. If they limit the big plays against ND, it's a blowout.
On their personnel:
- They're very young. Their starting QB (Schilz) is out this week, maybe next. #2 spot has been up for grabs, so both guys there (Aaron Pankratz and Trent Hurley) are pretty similar. All the QB's are young and inexperienced (per roster, all are FR or SO) and whoever starts will be starting for the first time.
- OL is also very inexperienced, which contributed to the injury to Schilz.
- RB Willie Geter is "probably the toughest 5-8 175lb back in the country." Last week vs. Marshall, was able to turn 2-3 yd losses into 2-3 yd gains (reminiscent of Mike Hart in that regard). They knew it was rock (ie, run), but couldn't stop Geter. Doesn't understand why he's not talked about as one of the top RBs in the conference.
- Kamar Jordan is now out of the bag, leading country in receptions. Not surprised that he's breaking out. Expects "cloud or hard corner coverage, safety invert coverage if they try to double him." Can anyone tell me what this means?
- Feel good about the other WRs as well. Lot of good players at that position.
- On Bryan Wright, haven't really talked to him about schemes and plays, they have the tape for all that from last year and this year. It's on the coaches to prep the team, not Bryan Wright to provide information. Did say that he asked about noise, atmosphere, wind, stadium, and if there were better ways to do things at BGSU based on his experience with both LC and RR.
- Said that Bryan Wright spoke very highly of both LC and RR, nothing but praise for both coaches. Reflects very well on Bryan Wright as a person and on the Michigan coaches (sidenote: Wright ended up going to BGSU because his graduate degree program - hospitality management - is not offered at UM).
On the game in general:
- Clawson has "told players they have an opportunity to do something very special for team, program, university."
- "After big loss, need to get refocused. Same after big win. Many new players this year, so need a lot more effort to stay level, not get too high or too low. Didn’t practice well yesterday with enough focus. A win doesn’t mean a great week. Players can get too high. " (I quoted it, but it's not really verbatim - just didn't feel like retyping)
- On Mizzou game last year, they were up 14 at one point, but lost the game. Said he didn't know if they truly believed they could win. It's 4 quarters. There were missed opportunities in the 1st Q that could've won them the game, just as in the 4th when they let it slip away.
- They get excited about playing in front of any crowd, even the 20k home field. But "how often do they get to play live in front of 110k people in the largest stadium in the country?" They don’t play Michigan again. Once in a lifetime opportunity, kids need to be ready to take advantage of it. If they’re not excited about it, nothing will wake them up.
- In reference to the UMass "little house on the prairie" remark, said that if the reporter knows how to control 110 kids, he's all ears (these are the jokes, people). Philosophy is that they need to enjoy themselves. This is a unique opportunity for them. If they're not having fun, they're not getting better. Obviously need to put in very hard work, but need to make sure they enjoy it, too.
At this point in the season it is very difficult to apply a strength of schedule/opponent to the games that have been played so far. For that reason the Bowling Green preview will be based on raw numbers and not opponent adjusted numbers. Opponent adjusted numbers will probably start to make sense around the Michigan State game.
All numbers included in this preview are using my PAN metric, Points Above Normal. PAN is essentially how many points above an average FBS team was a team/unit/player worth. For reference, an average FBS is approximately equal to Illinois or a top team from the MAC.
All games against FCS teams are excluded, as well as any plays in the second half where one team leads by more than 2 touchdowns or any end of half run out the clock situations.
Run Offense vs. Bowling Green
In two countable games, Michigan is 8th nationally in team rushing with +11 PAN per game. Bowling Green is 95th nationally in rush defense at +7 PAN allowed per game.
Denard is first nationally on the ground, worth 12 points a game rushing all by himself. Vincent Smith checks in at just under +1 on the season while Shaw’s big game aginst UMass (would have been +9) is excluded, leaving him just below average at –1. Carries by Hopkins, Gardner and Grady total up to –1 as well.
In three games Bowling Green has consistently been gashed. They have allowed between 5 and 8 PAN per game in all three games.
This should obviously be a huge advantage for Michigan. The projected +18 advantage will be difficult for Michigan to fully achieve, only 6 teams have done it so far this year, but even if they don’t hit that level, this matchup should be a big win for Michigan.
Pass Offense vs Bowling Green
Note: Sacks are included with the pass stats not with the run stats
Michigan: 37th, +5
Bowling Green: 69th, +3 allowed
+5 is a good but not spectacular number but when combined with the top 10 value of the running game, it is very good. While still early in the season, only two teams have achieved the run/pass splits as good as Michigan, TCU and Nevada.
Denard’s +5 ranks much lower on the individual rankings than the team 37th. This is due largely to the fact that Michigan has yet to allow a sack against an FBS team. Since these numbers only count against the team’s passing stats and not the individual, team numbers are usually lower than individual unless there are no sacks allowed.
Even though there were very few passes called against UMass, Denard had his most efficient day through the air. It is not included in the averages because of the opponent, but on 14 throws against UMass, Denard added 15 points of value (11 of them directed to Stonum) to the offense through the air, to go with another solid +5 on the ground.
Bowling Green’s +3 average allowed has been much more varied than their run defense performance. Opening against Troy, they allowed +4, then +8 against Tulsa. However, they bounced back last week against Marshall by posting their first negative allowed of the season at –2 on the back of 4 interceptions.
Based on the first three weeks of the season Michigan should be able to have another solid day through air.
Run Defense vs Bowling Green
Michigan: 63rd, +3 allowed
Bowling Green: 62nd, +3
Bowling Green has been a solid, but not spectacular +2 or +3 in every game so far this year. The good news for Michigan is that primary back Willie Geter hasn’t been that productive. Geter has 66 of the teams 83 qualified carries and is averaging –1 PAN per game this year. All of the value from the running game has come from from one off carries as no other player has more than 9 carries on the season.
Michigan allowed +5 vs Notre Dame after giving up +2 against UConn in week one. Last week’s frustration-fest equaled the Notre Dame game at +5 allowed.
The closest I can come to good news is that the magnitude of Bowling Green’s advantage on the ground is much smaller than the magnitude of Michigan’s advantage on the ground. Bowling Green shouldn’t be good enough to gash Michigan’s run defense but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a big strength, either.
Pass Defense vs Bowling Green
Michigan: 62nd, +3 allowed
Bowling Green: 87th, –1
Bowling Green had a big bounceback game last week against Marshall, going +8 through the air after going –3 and –9 in their opening two matchups against Troy and Tulsa. It looks like BG will be without their starter who was injured in the third quarter last week. Back-up Aaron Pankratz came in for the fourth quarter and went +3 on 8 throws.
Michigan’s +3 allowed would look much worse if last week' was included. Despite not completing a pass for more than 19 yards, UMass produced a very efficient +13 on Saturday against the Michigan defense. The performance was much worse than the not spectacularly terrible +4 allowed against UConn and the +2, 3 interception Notre Dame game.
Bowling Green has two receiver ranked in the top 100. Kamar Jordan has been worth +7 a game this year and Tyrone Pronty has been worth +5. For comparison, Michigan’s top receivers (Odoms without Umass and Stonum with) have both averaged about +5 a game.
As someone who had Freddie Barnes on my college fantasy team last year I can attest that at least in the past, Bowling Green has been able to effectively move the ball through the air without needing big chunks of yards at a time. If Bowling Green can do that with a back-up quarterback and have the success that UMass had in their gameplan last week, this is the one area that could make this game more interesting than it should be.
If this game somehow goes to the end with a team with a shot to win it with a field goal, both teams will be hoping its the other teams kicker out there. Michigan is the 3rd worst in the FBS kicking, having lost 5 points in the two qualifying games due to FG and PAT misses. Bowling Green is only marginally better with 4 points lost over three games, coming in only two spots ahead of Michigan.
Kickoff coverage appears to be equally mediocre. Bowling Green has done better in both punt and kick returns than Michigan has (not that’s too hard) but Michigan should have an advantage in punters which they hopefully will not need to use.
I think the line is too high on this game given Michigan’s defensive situation. As I noted on Monday, I have this game as a 97% likelihood of victory for Michigan, with a spread of 16 points. Score predictions are generally pretty worthless but I’ll call it 41-24 just for fun. The 41 is of course 6 TD’s and a missed PAT, prompting us to go all Kiffin on two point conversions in Big Ten play.
Since the Big 10 slate is absolutely pathetic this week I’ll make some worthless picks of some other big games:
Notre Dame vs Stanford: I still like Stanford here but think they’re asking for too many points, 30-28 Stanford wins
LSU vs W Virginia: Same story here, like the favorite to win but don’t like all the points, 24-23 LSU on some Les Miles last minute voodoo once again
Arkansas vs Alabama: All four games including Michigan’s my numbers like the favored team to win but think the points are too much. 21-17 Alabama
Cam Wysocki, picture from fhnbaseball
[Ed.- Yeah, two baseball posts in one day in September. I love it.]
Michigan received their first verbal commitment from the freshman class of 2012-2013(!) in Cam Wysocki of Forest Hills Northern. Wysocki is a 6'3" right handed pitcher and son of Dane Wysocki, a former UM player and his current high school coach. That UM connection through his parents has had him sold on the Wolverines since birth:
"Since I was about 5 years old, my parents and grandparents have been taking me to Michigan to see games," Wysocki said. "Football at 'The Big House' is one of the best experiences you can have. And Ann Arbor is such a great college town."
The article goes on to list his offers (MSU, OSU, ND, Alabama, Stanford, and Kentucky), as well as his fastball at 88mph. Wysocki is also the starting quarterback and a small forward in the off season, but baseball is his future sport.
Outside of pitching, Cam also is the starting short stop for the Huskies, as well as taking some time at second and first. I've yet to find much in the way of pitching stats, but he was 3-1 last season.
It's too early to project where Wysocki will be by the time he comes to Michigan, so I'll hold off on any input there. Pitchers are hard enough to figure out, but add that it's 2 years before he'll be on the field and that he's a multisport athlete who could get injured in next week's football game, and I've got nothing.
What's crazy about this commitment is that I've heard very little about the rest of Michigan's freshman class of 2011-2012. Will Drake is the only commit I've seen stories on. I'm sure there are probably a few others, but with the early signing period not until November, there isn't a whole lot out there to look at. Such is college baseball, though.
Michigan's baseball team is in the midst of fall practice this week, and like spring ball for football, there are some vague outlooks of next season hinted at even in meaningless exhibitions against Canadian teams. Yesterday, for the second year in a row, Michigan took on the Ontario Blue Jays, a high-level summer ball squad from north of the border. For the second year in a row, Michigan crushed the Jays.
While the 24-1 score over the 14 inning scrimmage means nothing, how innings were allotted to pitchers is something of quite a bit more interest. Heading into next season, Michigan will be replacing two weekend starters. Lefty Bobby Brosnahan seems to be a lock to return to the rotation, and junior Brandon Sinnery is poised to be the second after spending the summer in Ann Arbor bulking up for the workload, but the third spot has been somewhat vague. Enter the exhibition;
Judging by the innings, it looks like the early front runner for the last spot is Kolby Wood (right, by MGoBlue). Wood has been a jack of all trades on the pitching staff for quite some time now. Early on, there were several experiments to move him to the rotation, but between his own struggles starting, and his value as a late inning reliever, Wood never could secure a starting spot. Kolby does have a pretty good fastball, a solid slider, changeup, and has worked with developing a splitter.
As far as the other relievers and potential starters, I have to be impressed with Gerbe and Ballantine. Gerbe could very well end up as this year's closer if he doesn't get groomed into a starter as well. I'm starting to get excited about the future of Ben Ballantine as well. His freshman season wasn't great, but with his height and size, I think we'll see a big break through for him this year.
The last note on the pitching staff, why do lefty relievers always bother me? Be it Katzman's bipolar "OMG I'M GREAT" to "OMG I JUST HIT TWO BATTERS AND GAVE UP 4 HITS THIS INNING" or Jeff DeCarlo, Academic All-American, I've just never felt comfortable with our "specialists." This year appears to be more of the same. Tyler Mills is cut from the same sporadic lefty mold where he'll walk a few batters per innings to raise the blood pressure, then it's anyone's guess on how the inning will end.
Here's where things get interesting. While the first two slots of Biondi and Toth is no surprise, John Lorenz (bottom right, by MGoBlue) in the 3-hole isn't something I really expected. Lorenz really came along to end last season, but his power has been streaky at best and his strikeout rate is generally pretty high. The more I think about it though, the more it makes sense. The only other power options are Crank and Stephens, but their K-rate is probably twice that of Lorenz.
The other option was moving Derek Dennis into the 3, but judging just on the regular season, Dennis didn't appear to be ready for that load yet. It's not to say he won't be ready by February, but I just haven't seen reason to move him that high in the order just yet. Dennis should fit in well to the 6-hole. He'll act as a clean up hitter for Crank and Stephens above him, who should provide Dennis with plenty of RBI opportunities.
The bottom three in the order are of more interest to me than anything else. With two outfield spots open, all three of those guys are competing for two spots on the field. And with Michael O'Neill due back from labrum surgery in the next month or two, that's just one more guy in the mix – one that some close to the baseball program think is already the favorite to start in left. I'm personally leaning towards Krantz as the other outfielder, but that's without seeing him play since the broken thumb. Kevin looked good while replacing Ryan LaMarre last season, and I'd love to see him continue to produce like that at the bottom of the order.
As for the DH, I wasn't really expecting Alex Lakatos to make an appearance, especially given his pitching potential. Lakatos was one of the state of Michigan's top high school pitching prospects last season. I didn't know Maloney also was looking at his bat. I'm also somewhat surprised with the lack of Cam Luther. Luther was the big bat brought in the recruiting class of 2009. He made it into just a handful of games last year before contracting mono, but it appears the projection that he would challenge Stephens for 1st base or designated hitter might be pushed back a little later.
What it Means
Like spring football, everything in this game is all to be taken with a grain of salt. Players still have a few months to get into baseball shape, and anything could happen between now and then, especially on the mound.
If there is one thing I take out of this though, it's pleasure in the AD finally giving the fall exhibitions some publicity. In several southern baseball schools, fall ball is a big deal. Last year, we were given a score, no box, no write up, nothing. As Michigan continues to build it's baseball program, this is a small step forward. So is their recent hire of the new assistant SID, Kent Reichert, formerly of Coastal Carolina (a big time baseball school). I'm really encouraged to see the program moving forward like this.