This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
My first post, and it comes at the expense of my in-laws who are big Illini fans. I'm passing along the funny. Enjoy.
WOW. This was really bad, worse than I expected even. Even if exclude the 0-4 at the goal line, its still a -1 on the day for a matchup that should have been annihilation. It turns out it was, just in the wrong direction. Michigan's rushing performance on the day was the second worst (before adjusting for competition which won't help them much here) performance of the weekend. This was a full 2 TD swing, one on the goal line and another TD throughout the rest of the game.
Hey look a win! But not as much. The bomb to Roundtree on 3rd and 11 was worth 5.6 points by itself. Beyond that single play, the passing offense was nearly -2, or 4 points below expectation. If big plays are now back in the passing playbook than this is a slight reason for optimism, if it was just a single fluke (in so many ways) play then it signals that things are absolutely not progressing in the passing game.
So let's add this up. Michigan should have been +7 in the combined ground games but in the end they finished -23. A full 30 point swing on the ground. At half time, both Illinois and Michigan were right at +2 in the ground games. A draw was a win for Illinois, but it wasn't yet a disaster. Then the third quarter happened. Michigan went -9 for the quarter while Illinois went +8. This is just on the ground and this is without any turnovers!
In a game where black was white and up was down, the pass defense was no exception. The line on Illinois coming was that their passing defense stats were meaningless because no one had to pass against them. That's exactly what happened to Michigan on Saturday. Illinois had very little need to push the ball through the air because they were getting what they wanted on the ground.
The pace and field position lined up just where Michigan wanted it. Michigan had a field position edge of 22 expected points vs Illinois' 20. Michigan had 12 drives for the game which is right at their season average. Everything in this game played out just as predicted but with the role of Illinois played by Michigan and the role of Michigan played by Illinois.
Special teams were a lone bright spot for Michigan on Saturday. Olesnavage had another solid day and the blocked punt could have been a big play.
My Michigan prediction looked very good if you switch the two teams. Unfortunately my bookie wasn't too keen on that idea.
Iowa vs Indiana - The final spreads ended up matched up pretty well, just didn't see all the points and turnovers showing up.
Michigan St vs Minnesota - Didn't have Minnesota to pull this one out, but did have them to cover and the over.
NM St vs Ohio St - The sweatervest kept the foot on the gas a while longer than I though, going two TDs further and enough for the cover.
Penn St vs NW - Kind of like the Iowa/Indiana game. I had the final spread reasonably close but it was a different route than expected to get there.
Purdue vs Wisconsin - Had Wisconsin as a slight cover and obviously they blew the doors off the Boilermakes for a big win.
I thoroughly believe that whichever quarterback learns the read option first and can run it to near perfection first will be the starting quarterback in years to come. It is the basic running play of our offense. I don't care if that player is Tate Forcier, Devin Gardner, or Nick Sheridan; if that quarterback can run the read option so we are getting 4+ yards just about every time, they will be the starter.
I think we all know that neither of our freshmen quarterbacks has been able to make the reads quick enough to run the play yet. Is this because they haven't had enough time to practice it yet? Maybe. However, I think the bigger issue is the ability to execute a fake hand off. A good fake hand off does two things: it forces the DE to make a decision to go after the running back or the quarterback instead of sitting in a comfortable spot to stop either outcome and it gives the quarterback an extra split second to read that DE.
To illustrate this, I have compiled several Picture Pages for different read options from different teams around the country. Several things to keep in mind:
- These are to illustrate why the fake hand off is important...not the read option itself
- Because of this, these are all QB keepers
- These plays are not identical; will, therefore, not have the same results; and are not intended to be directly compared with the results of our play.
- These are to illustrate why the fake hand off is important
Also, all of these images, aside from the Michigan vs. EMU game, were taken from ESPN360 or YouTube videos so they aren't perfect quality, but they still get the point across. I will try to post video for some of these later.
Illinois vs. MichiganIllinois ran the read option perfectly on the first drive against Michigan. The net result was a 27 yard gain.
As you can see they have a RB on either side of Juice Williams, two WRs up top, and a TE outside the LT. It is important to note where that the backfield is lined up around the 12 yard line.
After the play starts, the RB runs behind Juice as he begins the fake hand off to the left RB. The OL blocks right and the TE goes out for a pass leaving Brandon Graham to defend as the unblocked DE. Donovan Warren begins his coverage of the TE, but keeps his eyes on the exchange.
You can see that Juice still has his hands in the RBs gut. They are a full yard ahead of where they started the play at. Brandon Graham is forced to choose which to go for and he picks the running back. Donovan Warren has moved down field in coverage but still is keeping his eyes on the exchange. Jonas Mouton has started to move inside to go after the RB.
Juice pulls the ball and he is already 2 yards up field from where he started the play. Brandon Graham is out of position for the play. Donovan Warren is 10 yards up field from Juice. Mouton is still in position to make a play but...
The LT is able to get a block on Mouton and Juice is to the LOS with lots of field in front of him. Donovan Warren has come back to make the play, but he has to guard against the option.
Donovan Warren correctly plays contain and takes away the option, which springs Juice into the open field, at which point it is a foot race. He is forced out of bounds after going 27 yards on the carry.
Had the option not been in this play and all other things being held equal, Donovan Warren would most likely have tackled Juice after a gain of about 5 yards, which is what you hope for every time this play is run.
Michigan vs. EMUI looked through a couple of drives for Michigan in the Illinois game and I couldn't find a traditional read option play. I am convinced at this point in the season that the coaches have removed this responsibility from the QBs and will look to install it again next year. I did see a fake hand off, but the line moved with the quarterback keeper instead of the hand off, which tells me that this is not what I am looking for.
So to get a good example, I went back to the last game that I downloaded: the EMU game.
This is our traditional 4-wide read option. Tate is lined up at the 48.5 yard line.
Tate pivots on his right foot and fakes the hand off. The ball never even makes it to the gut of the RB; he essentially just taps the ball to the side of the RB and then keeps. The DE is going for the RB right off the bat (so maybe this isn't the perfect example, but just wait).
The OLB sees Tate keep the ball and breaks to the outside. This doesn't allow our RT to seal him to the inside, which would allow Forcier to break free.
Instead what happens is Tate has to cut back to the inside. If he is able to get by this block, he is open for a first down, but the OLB gets a shoestring tackle and Tate goes down for a small gain.
Now that we have seen the good and bad of what I am referring to, let's take a look at some more examples of good fake hand offs from teams around the country.
WVU vs. USF
Notice that Brown, WVU's new QB, is lined up around the 29 with 4-wide Trips right.
Before the snap, a WR goes in motion for the end around. You can hardly tell, but the ball is in mid-air at this point.
Brown's right foot makes it up to the 27 yard line before he pulls the ball. The DE bites on the fake and rushes in for the RB. The LBs are starting to come in to stop the dive as well. The safety is starting to come in for run support, but he is far enough out that the fake actually puts him in better position to make the play. Meanwhile, the end around and fake are forming into a nice option as well.
Brown makes it to the LOS and the safety has a nice contain on him. He pulls up and begins the pitch to the WR.
The WR has a block down field and all of the other players are now out of position to tackle him. The blocked CB ends up forcing him inside and tackling him to save the TD, only after he gets a first down though.
Had Brown not had the second option to pitch the ball, he most likely would have headed for the sideline and been out after 4-8 yards.
Same game, other team:
BJ Daniels is at the 37 yard line. It is hard to tell but the ball has just reached his hands.
You can see that BJ Daniels is two yards ahead of where he took the snap from before he pulls the ball. The WVU LBs bite on the fake even though they see this every day in practice.
BJ Daniels gets into open space with no one left to defend him other than the safety 8 yards up field. Chalk this one up as another big gain.
Oregon vs. CalThis will be the last one. I tried to find some footage of Tim Tebow's fake, but I couldn't find any and I am sure all of you have seen enough of him anyway.
Here, Masoli is lined up around the 14 yard line with the RB about a yard behind him on his left, trips right, and the TE lined up outside the LT.
Masoli pulls the ball about a yard and a half ahead of where he took the snap from. The DE is waiting for the play to develop.
Masoli gets outside of the DE and is tackled by the safety for a 4-5 yard gain.
This is what the average play should look like when the Defense reads the play properly and is in position. The other plays are what happen when one person on defense makes a mistake. The one thing that all of the plays from other teams have in common is a great fake hand off. The QB needs to sell the DE to get him to bite on the play and/or give himself enough time to make the correct read.
Like I said, I think the Michigan QB who is able to do this the best will be our starter. From what I have seen so far, Tate is on his way to being able to make these reads, but he lacks the ability to sell the fake. If he can do this, I think he will continue to be our starter. However, if Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner can learn this before him, I don't know if a Big10 defense will be able to continuously stop this especially with their speed and play-making abilities.
Simple statement: no matter how bad you feel and how much you now dislike RRod, you should probably not turn on the team right now. We need just one more win for a bowl game, and we can't afford to go bowl-less two straight years. It would be best if (even if you don't like RRod or are sick of our poor performances the last few weeks) you still supported the team.
It doesn't help to have fan heat bearing down on you along with the pressure of being on the edge of bowl eligibility. Nobody wants to see this team implode two weeks before The Game, so just support them now. After the season's over, THEN start complaining, but wait until the season's done first so that we can salvage what's left!
Ive been soo tired of Drob being the scopegoat for all the bitches that comment on this board....talk now bitches. Oh and i dont give a dam about your point system either. Bitches!
Rush Offense vs Illinois
Michigan O +4 (7th) vs Illinois D -4 (112th)
After two rough games against Indiana and Michigan State, Michigan's running game has bounced back nicely, albeit in losses, the last two games.
Game - Rush+
Meanwhile, in Big 10 play Illinois has been gashed three times and had decent games relative to competition against both Ohio St and Indiana
Game - Rush+
If Michigan is going to have any chance of getting to 8-4 on the season and making more than the basic step forward this year, they are going to need to dominate this matchup. There won't be a bigger advantage on the schedule this year and things should and have to come together here.
Pass Offense vs Illinois
Michigan O +0 (54) vs Illinois D -2 (88)
This matchup won't be a huge advantage for Michigan but it will be very interesting to see how Michigan manages the play calling and the run pass splits. The one thing that shouldn't happen is interceptions. Only two teams in all of 1A have gotten less value out interceptions than Illinois. Illinois has only produced 3 points of value from picks, which is a full 2 TDs less than the average 1A team. Any picks on Saturday will be a major disappointment.
Rush Defense vs Illinois
Michigan D -1 (90) vs Illinois O +0 (51)
If Illinois has one advantage this week, this is where it's at. The good news for M is that they are coming off their best performance of the season, posting a +4 against a very good Penn St rushing attack.
Game - Rush+
Illinois is also coming off a very solid +4 rushing game and has posted positive values in three of its five Big 10 games this season.
Game - Rush+
If this game gets too close for comfort, it will probably be because Illinois has found an opportunity to exploit the Michigan rush defense.
Pass Defense vs Illinois
Michigan D +3 (29) vs Illinois O -5 (110)
For all the painful big plays given up by Michigan's past defense this year, the totally of their efforts have stayed surprisingly strong. Through four Big 10 games, Michigan's pass defense has played better than average against the passing games of all four teams.
Game - Pass+
With 4 games that graded out well but didn't feel like they went well, this week presents an opportunity. Illinois has posted 2 solid games, 1 bad game and 2 total disasters against Michigan state and Ohio State.
Game - Pass+
With Illinois bringing out their third QB of the season on Saturday, you would think that would favor Michigan but with as bad as the Illini passing game has been this season, it's hard to imagine it getting worse.
For the second straight week, the Big 10's fastest paced offense will face one of the slowest. After taking on Penn State's grind it out pace last week, Michigan will face an Illinois offense that averages nearly 20% fewer possessions per game. Despite the bad loss, Michigan was able to get the number of drives they wanted last week, I would look for them to do the same again this week.
Michigan +1.1 (25) vs Illinois -0.9 (70)
Michigan should have a solid advantage over Illinois on special teams on Saturday. The kicking game and kick returns both slant heavily towards Michigan. The punt teams are virtually identical while Illinois has a slight advantage on kickoff coverage. The way to tell that Illinois is not good on special teams, however, is that they are significantly worse than Michigan on punt return, even when accounting for fumbled returns.
Going through this preview, Vegas must know something about Michigan or Illinois than I do because I have a hard time seeing this as a touchdown game.
Michigan 35 Illinois 14
Elsewhere in the Big 10:
Indiana 3 Iowa 26
Michigan St 25 Minnesota 24
NM St 0 Ohio St 31
Penn St 33 Northwestern 3
Purdue 20 Wisconsin 28