i like 'em both
So after reading the board the past couple of days, I have a faint sense that people are unhappy with the loss to State and believe that something (in this case, Denard's passing arm and/or illicit love triangle with both Tacopants and Taquittoshorts) should be blamed. And while I understand the sense of anger with losing to the Spartans for the 4th straight time, I don't understand this patholigical desire to blame a TEAM's failure to win on a single player and, even worse, propose some half-cocked remedies like replacing Denard with Devin Gardner.
I get that it sucks to lose to a rival, especially one as mind-boggling annoying as MSU, and the way the team lost (with all of the personal fouls and rough tactics by the MSU defense) certainly didn't help. But sometimes teams just lose because the other team beat them, because players struggled or failed to perform, and it isn't because one player "cost" them the game. Yes, Denard struggled throwing the ball, but the whole offense failed to perform up to task. The offensive line was unable to open up consistent running lanes or provide a suitable pocket for Denard to work out of, and the RBs were never able to generate consistent positive yardage (a problem we have seen all year). The WRs, while certainly open at times, also dropped a couple of very catchable balls that would have extended drives (the Roundtree one jumps to mind, and I believe Koger also dropped a close one, amongst others). The defensive line was unable to create much of a pass rush against a mediocre State line, and the LBs failed to stop up cutback lanes and tackle MSU's running backs before they could get going. The defensive backfield, while solid at times, were also guilty of poor tackling that allowed MSU WRs to score near the goalline as well as extend drives. And the coaches made a number of questionable decisions on both sides of the ball, sometimes leaving players in positions where they could not succeed.
My point here is that the TEAM lost that game, and that's okay. It happens. Denard is a part of that team, but to lump the blame on his shoulder after what he has done these past two years is offensive. He had a bad game; so did Fitz, Smith, Hemingway, Martin, Demens, Borges, Hoke, etc. The TEAM lost, and hopefully the rest of the year the TEAM will win. But I don't hear people calling for Rawls to get more carries, for Schofield to replace Lewan, or for Campbell to replace Heininger full-time. I want this TEAM to win because it is a fun bunch and they have been through so much these past 4 years. But as a fanbase we need to accept that losses happen sometimes not because a single player "failed", but because the TEAM just didn't perform. And that's okay as long as they get better.
The more things change...
Well, that went better than expected. There's plenty of good things to see, but almost all of them come with caveats:
- We shut down a QB with a decent arm who was pretty productive last year
- Denard's running WOOOOO!
- DLine got good pressure
- We're causing lots of turnovers
- Defense looks more sound in general
- We kind of dominated a decent team
- We're 4-0!
- He was missing his NFL caliber WR's
- Denard's passing, eeerrrrr....
- DLine kept losing contain
- We're giving away lots of turnovers
- Every now and then we look like the keystone cops
- Brady Hoke has their playbook, signals, and personell memorized.
- We were 4-0 the last two years...
Next week won't be much of a challenge or informative either. Especially if Marquis Gray is injured or hampered. So the good news is that we look like it's an easy road to bowl elligibility, but whether or not we can beat any decent bigten teams remains to be seen for a couple of weeks.
I don't know if his throwing arm/shoulder is tweeked, or if he's still just struggling with his footwork, but his accuracy is way off from last year. He had a terrible overthrow on the deep ball, the interception that got batted up was due to placing the ball too high when throwing at the TE, and the other interception was due to him missing the zone coverage. He's also staring down the screen receiver and other receivers sometimes.
But hey, HELLLOooooo speed option!
This play works because of two things. Two of their defenders just flat out over-run the play because they're freaking about Denard's speed
And we get great downfield blocks that are sustained. It really is as simple as getting a hat on a hat when you've got dilithium in the backfield. The play is setup so nice that Vincent is celebrating the TD before Denard even passes the line of scrimmage!
Here's the same moment from behind. That's a nice hole.
Give some credit to SDSU, they stuffed this play when we ran it again in the 2nd half. But when you've got a guy who can do this:
You can't win just on positioning.
You can have perfect position, and Denard can stil make you look silly.
Lloyd Brady Approves! (drink)
Various Defensive Awesomeness
Mike Martin is awesome. I think all D-Linemen should have a background in Judo or Wrestling or both. On this play he doesn't get to the QB, but he causes a rushed throw with his bull rush.
First, he's quick off the line and gets underneath the pads of the guard and pops him back.
Then he drives him back so hard that the tackle has to come down and help out.
But he's got so much momentum that he's buckled the guards legs and knocks him over.
At that point there's nothing left to do except laugh at your defeated foe and scream bloody murder at the QB. RVB also does a nice job of beating his man on his speed rush.
Kenny Demens is often awesome. On this play Demens demonstrates the textbook definition of "fill the hole and blow up the blocker".
This is your typical power iso play with a FB and a pulling linemen leading the way. Demens recognizes run action and gets on his horse.
RVB does a great job on his slant to fill the hole. This bounces the play outside. Demens reads this too and accelerates to take on the blocker.
Hawthorne is a little slow to react and gets blocked too easily here. But because Demens hits his man so hard, the ballcarrier has to stop his feet and go backwards.
Meanwhile, Jake Ryan has beaten his blocker with a quick step (Dude has a quickstep, this is my meme for Jake Ryan from now on.) and cleans up the play with a TFL. Hawthorne is getting held, but he has to do a better job of reacting and shedding his blocker. This is probably why he got benched for a bit.
Craig Roh is still fighting for more playing time in the DE rotation, but on this play he shows how to shed a blocker using leverage.
Roh is kind of tall and lanky, that can be a good thing or bad thing depending on how you use it. Here he pushes his blocker sideways and gets him off balance.
Then he just tosses him aside and has eyes on the ball carrier. Results in a TFL and great play.
From the other angle you can see how Roh uses the blocker's arm as a lever and just dismisses him. Hawthorne could learn a thing or two from this.
But it's not all sunshine and rainbows.
In last week's tardy diary, I discovered a new pet peeve. That pet peeve now has a name. It's called FUCKING AROUND WITH ALIGNMENT IN SHORT YARDAGE SITUATIONS. (FAWAISYS)
It's one thing to flop the defensive alignment when it's 1st or 2nd and 10 or even 3rd and 5. No one's in a rush and it doesn't really matter if you give up an easy yard or two. But when it's 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1, you're really pissing me off with chinese firedrill bullshit. It makes you vulnerable to the quicksnap and if you're all worried about where you're supposed to be, you're not thinking about the play, the snap count, or the 600+ pounds of blockers that are coming at you shortly.
It happened all game. And it's not like we're forced to do it. It's just that some d-calls have us locked onto their formation strength.
This is the most egregious example:
This is a three man shift, the two TE's on the left are moving to the right and the FB that was at flanker is moving into an I form. Jake ryan is perfectly at rights to be moving. Nothing wrong yet.
And then the ILB's see it and swap places. Okay, nothing big about keeping the Fritz and Mike responsibilities on Hawthorne and Demens respectively.
But do the DE's really need to flip on this play? Are their responsibilities and talents that different? Why can't RVB just squeeze down and Jirbeel Black flex out a bit? Or is it that Black can't take on two blockers and needs to speed rush from the uncovered end?
So now we got 8 guys moving around and they've got about 1.4 seconds to get their shit sorted out.
Which is made harder when the two DE's collide 0.o And the secondary is completely lost and in no position to support the run.
It's 3rd and Fricken 1!!!
So, let's summarize. It's 3rd and 1, our DE's are hugging each other, our OLB is out of breath from sprinting into position, our DB's are in a cover 2 umbrella, there's about Umpteen million different ways for SDSU to pick up 1 yard without having to touch anyone, and we've got about 0.7 seconds to get lined up on 3rd and fucking 1.
Yes it's true that the offense has to reset for a second after the shift, so you theoretically have time to get setup. But one of these days it's going to bite us for a critical conversion. So far, Brady Hoke's Magical Golden Poop actually got SDSU to false start while we were running around like chickens with their heads chopped off.
- I'm not thrilled with our FB play. #44 doesn't seem to get his pad level low enough or drive through his blocks.
- Hopkins.... HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
- WTF is this? Does SDSU have some new cheerleader wannabe's?
- Who does this band director think he's fooling?
1 Drum Major
12 Alto Saxophones
12 Tenor Saxophones
4 Bass Trombones
6 Snare Drums
4 Bass Drums
AND NONE OF THEM ARE LOOKING AT YOU!
Anybody else feel that Al should have Denard throw the ball a lot in the second half? Three touchdown lead. Get him more looks in the passing game. Take the lumps if they come, but I would love to see him get comfortable enough to fall back into the rhythm he had last year. I haven't checked, but I'd assume he has 100-150 more rushing yards than passing yards at this point of the season...
Not much substance with this video because its mostly Denard laughing (still makes my heart jump a few beats), but thought you guys would enjoy.
The last play they showed an option play that was fumbled for a huge loss, but nice to see some wrinkles being added.
I don't know how to embed videos, but this one I wouldn't embed anyways. Rivals deserves the clicks since its their content.
Enjoy you junkies!
Currently behind a paywall, ESPN Heisman Predictor has Denard in the top spot...
Here's the link
Robinson maintains lead:
It may seem odd to have a darkhorse such as Robinson still in the lead, but it is important to remember that the Predictor considers only what has happened thus far.
At this point in the season, Michigan's 3-0 start looks the same as Stanford's as far as the Predictor is concerned. Once the undefeated teams start to fall and the BCS standings are released, the true contenders will be begin to rise to the top.
Good to see him up there with Andrew Luck, Landry Jones, and Kellen Moore. Here's to hoping that by the end of the season the Worldwide Leader in Sports will have no choice to remand Heisman Watch to "Just Give Denard the Damn Trophy"
EDIT: Trimmed down some of the copied materials
I know that this probably doesn't deserve its own thread but I didn't really know where else to post it.
I was watching a video about the possible Big East/Big 12 merger, and around 2:40 of the video is a play by Pitt that made me immediately think that we need to steal this play. It looks like a zone read where the receiver on the side the QB would run to runs almost like a delay fade route. With Denard at QB this play would be another awesome play like the Fake QB Draw play.