I know it's Ohio week and Nebraska is in the rearview mirror, but after re-watching the every snap videos, I'm once again very impressed by the class of the Nebraska team. I can't recall any other team in the last few years we've played that so frequently helped our players off the ground after a tackle, acknowledged our good plays, and generally carried themselves in a way that the B1G should be proud off. When our players ran out of bounds on the Nebraska sideline, they would get a tap on the helmet from one of the Nebraska coaches. It's especially impressive in a game in which I'm sure the entire team was very frustrated. I've had the same experience with Nebraska fans I've met. After the MSU game, it was quite a breath of fresh air. Thanks, Huskers, for doing it the right way. I look forward to a long and competitve rivalry.
The game from this past weekend is being replayed on ESPN right now (4:40 AM). It's playing until 6 AM so if any of you are like me and don't sleep at normal hours or if any of you are looking for something to brighten your day as soon as you wake up, tune in to watch.
Here are some photos from Yesterdays game. It is a long slideshow, but given the result of the game, I thought we'd all like to enjoy it a little more than a normal one. Also, to Heiko, I thought you'd be bigger...:)
Every week, I like to have an intro paragraph to set the tone before linking to the boxscore. I have to admit, I was worried earlier this week that I wouldn’t have anything to write about due to this being the first time we’ve played Nebraska in a conference game. I was going to go with a story about my Grandma’s neighbor-boy, Nebras, until fate intervened.
During the week, the B1G coaches’ photo was shown and discussed on this here MGoBlog. I made a comment about not wanting to sit next to Brady Hoke on an airplane, because based on the way he was sitting in the photo, he’d take the armrest the whole flight. Wednesday, I took a flight to Colorado. It was a regional jet, with two seats on either side of the aisle. Sitting next to me was a nice lady, and her cat! Well, if there is one thing this blog is known for, it’s tremendous football analysis. If there are two things it’s known for, it’s tremendous football analysis and cat photos. Clearly, our feline overlords were trying to tell me something with this amazing coincidence. And that something, if I’m not mistaken, is that this diary NEEDS MOAR CAT PHOTOS!
Not the cat that sat next to me and took my armrest
Burst of Impetus
- We got out to a 10-0 lead, and I started thinking, maybe we can beat them like they beat MSU. I was thinking of a 17 to 21 point margin of victory. We were the favorites in the game. Sometimes the favorites actually win, that’s why they are called “favorites.” When Neb scored to make it 10-10, I thought, oh well, I guess it’s going to be a barn-burner. Then, Neb fumbled the opening kickoff of the 2ndhalf and we turned it into a woodshed game. It’s pretty great when the outcome exceeds your wildest imagination. 28 points? Are you freakin’ kidding me?
- In the first half, with us up 10-7, Denard threw an INT on a screen pass. I’m starting to think he’s too short to throw middle screens. Anyway, the defense responded with a Kovacs TFL, a Van Bergen pass deflection, and Demens and Martin tackling a WR on a screen for minimal yardage. It wasn’t quite the three-play sequence that bursted impetus against Illinois, but it reminded me of that. Neb had to settle for a 51 yard FG. Our defense basically said, we’ve got our O’s back.
- Denard maintained our momentum several times by scrambling. One such play caused Spielman to say, “We’re seeing burst,” which totally confused me. Does that statement go in this section, the Filthy section, or the Derpan Meyer section?
Trash Cans Full of Dirt
- Jake Ryan made yet another ankle tackle. Jake Ryan hates ankles like Taylor Lewan hates donkeys.
- Neb was 3 for 13 on 3rddown, and 0 for 2 on 4thdown.
- The D held Burkhead to 36 yards net rushing. I thought that guy got 100 on everybody.
- Kovacs lead us in tackles like Brian suggested, but he only got 7 because our defense was never on the field.
- 24 players showed up in the defensive stats. Floyd Simmons was tied for 5thin tackles with 3, because our defense was never on the field. Hollowell also had 3 tackles. If I’m not mistaken, those guys are primarily special teamers. When your special teams players are showing up in your top 7 tacklers, you know your defense was never on the field.
- Six TFLs were spread amongst six defenders, with Van Bergen leading the way with 2.
- Six passes were broken up, including one by J. Van Slyke, who has some wicked eye black.
- Denard was 11 for 18 passing for 180 yards and 2 TDs.
- He ran 23 times for 83 yards and 2 TDs.
- Touss gained 138 yards on 29 carries, and had 2 TDs.
- We scored a lot of TDs and ran a lot of plays.
- First downs were 24 for M, 11 for Neb.
- Total offensive plays were 80 for Michigan to 54 for Neb. This was a dominating performance. WE ARE GOOD!
Big John R. Studd Referee Section
- It was D. Lipski’s crew this week. He seemed a bit talkative, but otherwise they did a nice job.
- We got 4 first downs from penalties to Neb’s zero. Yeah, the refs did a fine job.
- We committed 5 penalties to Neb’s 8, costing us 45 yards and Neb 73.
- In a closer game, the roughing the punter penalty on Neb could give Big Red fans cause to complain, but I’m sure Hagerup’s big toe is going to have one nasty bruise on it tomorrow. Was that Oscar-worthy? It drew a flag, which is fine by me, because I root for Michigan.
- Gallon was again the leading receiver with 3 grabs for 34 yards and a TD.
- Odoms had 2 catches for 47 yards and a TD. For whatever reason, we are a better team with him in there.
- UofM had American flag patches on our jerseys. I don’t recall hearing what the reason for this was. I did miss the last 20 minutes of game commentary because Dad called. It’s nice when you have a 21 point lead and can turn the sound down and talk to Dad about the game and sitting next to a cat lady on a plane.
- It appeared that this was a pom-pom game like the UTL game. The pom-poms seemed much more ferocious at night.
- 7A Brandin Hawthorne had 2 tackles and 2H Matt Cavanaugh had 1.
- Derpan Meyer was asked about the Meyer to OSU rumors. He denied there was an offer, (wink, wink) and denied he had accepted it (wink, wink.) While that may be true, if Luke Fickell shows up next week wearing a black suit and a fedora, I will sh!t myself.
- Lee Corso would like to apologize for the profanity used in the previous bullet.
- While making his pre-game picks, Corso said, Ahhh, F%$* it. Herbie (and I) could only laugh. Midway through the first quarter, Corso interrupted our game to read a hastily written apology. I don’t think ESPN can (or should) get fined for spontaneous verbal gaffes like that, but what happened to the dump button?
- Dave Pasch, Urban Meyer, Chris Spielman and Quint Kessenich did the game for ESPN. At this point, shouldn’t Dave consider getting an apartment in Ann Arbor?
- Early in the game, Neb broke up a pass. One of the announcers said, “this is what Nebraska does best.” The thought that popped into my mind was, “get away with pass interference?” After two such plays (including yet another jersey pull), Roundtree caught a deep ball and Neb complained that he interfered. Can’t have it both ways, guys.
- After Denard threw an interception, Derpan Meyer said he would take him out. Spielman said he would leave him in because of his game-breaking abilities. Denard responded by leading a nice TD drive. Maybe osu should hire Spielman as their next coach instead of Urban.
- The announcers thought Kovacs was acting a little when injured to slow down Neb’s hurry up offense. For the record, he stayed out for the duration of that series, so I don’t think he was faking. Screw you Urban Paschman for suggesting such a thing.
We Haz Special Teams
- Net yards per kickoff were 44.5 for Neb and 44.8 for Michigan. Basically that’s a push, except we didn’t fumble two of our returns.
- Net yards per punt were slightly in Neb’s favor, 40.5 to 34, with 2 Neb punts inside the 20.
- Gibbons made his season long FG of 42 yards, and then missed one of 42 yards after the game had been decided. Needless to say, this is light years improved over last year.
- Dileo picked up a first down on a fake FG.
- Josh Furman blocked a punt. The Neb punter bobbled the snap, but Furman still had to get there and he did.
- Neb TE Jake Long was called for a holding penalty. ~110,000 Michigan fans thought, “TE Jake Long, we cheered for Jake Long, we knew Jake Long, Jake Long was a friend of ours. TE Jake Long, you’re no Jake Long.”
- Neb dropped several passes, just like Brian said they would. Thanks, Brian.
- Even though Neb KR Kenny Bell fumbled a kick return, you have to give him credit for having a tremendous afro.
- Lavonte David had 17 tackles. I could have sworn it was in the 30s. They have 1 special defensive player and 10 meh guys. It was clear they were missing Crick.
Random, as Yet Unnamed, Bullets
- The time of possession was 41:13 for Michigan, and 18:39 for Neb. I’m in the TOP is an effect of playing well, not a cause camp, but whichever camp you’re in, 41 minutes is awesome.
- There were several interesting matchups, including Denard vs. Dennard, Martin vs. Martinez, and Burkhead vs. VanBergenhead (a boy can dream, right?) Nebraska’s defense starts a “Steinkulher” which set up a great “Steinkuhler vs. Pooper Cooler” matchup when they played the buckeyes.
- The scoreboards weren’t working. This lead to a delay of game penalty on our offense that could have been an important momentum changer. Fortunately, we still ended up scoring, but I want to see more working scoreboards and less Dave Brandon on the sidelines. Dave, your job is getting the facilities right. Leave the sideline stuff to the coaches. The fans counted down the play clock several times to help out Denard and the offense.
- While we were beating Neb to hand the Legends Division to MSU, Sparty was playing Indiana for the Old Bronze Spittoon. I finally understand the bronze, green and black unis that sparty broke out as their throw-up jerseys. It’s an homage to their key cross-division rival, Indiana. Going forward, it’s really unfair that they get to beat up on Indiana, the worst team historically in the B1G, while we get to play osu every year.
- UofM and Neb are 1 and 4 in all-time wins, which makes this victory a little bit sweeter.
- Lloyd Brady was shown several times. On a couple occasions, I could swear he was dancing. Yes, it was that kind of day.
- When I think of NU, I think of Northwestern. Since they have B1G seniority over Nebraska, they should get the NU acronym. That leaves either UNL or Neb for Nebraska. UNL makes them sound like University of Michigan – Flint, i.e., not the flagship university of Nebraska. (How did flag ships get associated with universities?) That leaves Neb, which reminds me of the Yiddish word, Nebbish. Merriam-Webster’s definition of nebbish is: “a timid, meek, or ineffectual person.” After a 45-17 spanking at the hands of MEEECHIGAN, that seems appropriate.
- I wrote half of this before I even looked at the boxscore. This game just provided sooooo much material. I haz a happee.
Programming note: Next week will be pretty busy with thanksgiving break and all, so I'm gonna go ahead and put up all my OSU stuff this week. The Nebraska game wrap might be a week late too, especially if we don't win.
Old Scouting Report is Old
There are just way too many red and white teams in this league now.
I had watched this game when it happened and had written up some notes and was planning to post it after the MSU game, but then I spent the week cursing at inanimate objects and hoping MSU's random bands of roving thugs would target Gholston.
There's been a lot of personnel changes since then so I've thrown out the old notes and started from scratch.
Both teams were coming off loses, Nebraska had just been blown out by Wisconsin thanks to a handful of Martinez interceptions and OSU had been blitzed to death by sparty. You can see the effect of both those games on some of the early playcalling in this one.
OSU on offense
No Dan Herron, and Shugarts hadn't gotten hurt yet. The offense was all about Hall and Stonebrunner and Miller's legs until he got hurt.
Miller is a scrambler
Like I said in the QB comparisons, Miller is more of a natural scrambler rather than an option runner.
On this play, the left side of the Nebraska D-line is going to stunt to get pressure on third down.
There's a missed holding call, but whatever. The DT gets around and tries an outside speedrush against Shugarts
This is a mistake against Miller. You want to keep him in front of you and don't open up big lanes like this. As soon as he feels the end rushers go past him, his first instinct is to scramble upfield. If you rush under control, he'll scramble laterally and can be coralled for a sack.
MSU had a lot of success the previous week by timing the snap and sending blitzers up the A gap. Nebraska tried it early, but didn't really get there because their timing wasn't as good. After this play they didn't really blitz much until Bauserman was in the game.
This is a 6 man blitz with one of the linebackers dropping into coverage.
There's a little bit of a twist going on with the right DE, but this was a called QB lead draw all the way. The blitzer gets blocked by the RB and Miller jabs his back foot and is off into the secondary.
Without any LBs on that side and the secondary playing man coverage, this turned into a big run for MIller.
This play shows just how quickly Miller will bail on a play. It's just a flare to hall at the top of the screen, but the Nebraska rusher gets a good bull rush.
When the defender jumps, Braxton decides he's seen enough and pulls down the ball.
Instead of looking for another target, he tucks the ball and runs.
Hyde got a lot of carries in the early part of the season when both Hall and Herron were doing their NCAA penance. That's dropped off considerably since Herron came back. He's got good straight line speed, especially for being a larger back, but his vision isn't very good. He's like Stephen Hopkins but with more speed. He still gets some duty on kickoffs, but mostly as the lead blocker for Hall.
You can see OSU's commitment to zone blocking on this play. It looks like a lead play because of the FB, but Hyde's route on the handoff indicates that he's free to pick whatever hole opens up. At the snap, all the motion is to the left. The Nebraska D-Line responds by moving with the slanting linemen. Miller does a reverse pivot.
But Hyde's aiming poing is not following Boren, the FB, instead he's aiming for the center of the line and bending back against the grain. For some reason, nebraska has a DB playing backside contain, and the Will linebacker has been fooled by Boren's path.
That DB doesn't understand "run fits" so he wasn't flowing the the D-Line and there's a huge gap between him and the DE that Hyde thanks him very much for. The weakside LB has over run the play and can't get back to make an arm tackle. Once Hyde gets past those two, he's pretty much untouched all the way to the endzone.
Throwback to Stonebrunner
With Corey Brown out and no one sure what Devier Posey will do, the RB's and Stonebrunner will be the focus of the passing game. This throwback screen should look familiar to Michigan fans, with the exception of the TE getting the ball instead of Vincent Smith.
Miller is going to roll out to the right while the O-line shows pass blocking.
Stonebrunner does an excellent job of selling the block and the OLB is completely caught flatfooted.
Stonebrunner comes off of contact and opens up for the pass, it's the center that gets the OLB and the other interior linemen are heading downfield
The blocking is setup well and Stonebrunner has enough speed for an easy 30+ yard TD
Nebraska on offense
Nebraska does a lot of different things on offense. They have the spread/zone read stuff, the power running game, and also the veer option offense. Burkehead will even get back in the shotgun to run some wildcat, probably because he's better at READING on the zone read plays than Martinez.
After taking a lot heat for the interceptions against Wisconsin, you got the feeling that he started out the game a little gunshy against TSIO.
That's his passing chart with about 4 minutes to go in the first half. Nothing deep or risky, and a double digit deficit to show for his 100% completion percentage. So Nebraska gets the ball realizing they've got to pass deep to soften up the defense.
This is Martinez trying to throw a deep ball.
And this is the result. That receiver is kinda open. I mean, yes, he's got 4 guys around him, but none within a 5 yard radius. Nebraska fans understand our pain when it comes to armpunts.
Where Martinez is realy dangerous is when he gets to accelerate straight ahead. This is a midline option keeper even though it looks like an outside zone read. You can tell by the pulling guard who goes off tackle. I think the sideline tells Martinez before the play whether or not to keep the ball on most plays. That would explain a lot of his "bad reads" and it makes sense that Bo Pelini would be a control freak (see below).
Burkehead's fake holds the contain man. The pulling lineman takes out the LB and the rest of the O-line is getting a good push up the middle.
This is the kind of run that Martinez loves. He's not the kind of guy that will cut back across the entire field, but he's very good at reading the blocks in front of him and making quick cuts without losing any speed.
Inverted T series
The way you design an offense is that you have a series of plays that work together or are out of the same formation. Sometimes during the game you have to scrap a series if the first couple plays don't work. But if the first play works for a big gainer, you can expect the defense to adjust and that opens up the companion plays.
Nebraska stumbled across such an opportunity in the middle of the 3rd quarter with this Inverted T formation. Some people call this a Diamond, but with the QB in the shotgun it looks more like a "T" to me. But the stumpy part is away from the LOS so I call it inverted. Here's what the standard T form looks like.
This is just a power sweep option. The odd thing is that Burkehead has a longer ways to go to get to his block, but he's a fast guy, so it's not a problem. The neat thing about this formation is that you can envision all kinds of counters and double option plays where the person in #2's position can pitch it to Burkehead or handoff to the the other HB coming back on the counter.
OSU is overreacting the motion and the whole right side of the defense is flowing. Ironically, the backside of the defense isn't reacting enough and the result is a gaping hole down the middle of the field.
I don't the think DE ever actually saw the ball because he keeps running with #2 even after Martinez zooms past him.
Against a normal QB, the safety and LB should have been able to stop this for a large gainer, but because they reacted slowly and because Martinez is already up to full speed, he blows by them like they're standing still.
From the endzone shot you can see just how wide open that running lane was.
A little later, they come back to the same formation, but this time the give is called. It doesn't work as well because the ball is on the hash and they're running into the sideline. But the point is to see how the defense has adjusted. The weakside linebacker is way closer to the play this time and #7 Howard is up in bump and run to take on the blocking in case there's a counter or reverse coming.
The DE is completely befuddled by this play. He's nowhere near the mesh point so he can't help on a Martinez keep. He's pointing out Burkehead to .....uh.... And he's not quick enough to get #2.
Again the backside has been completely sealed off, and Martinez woulda had plenty of room for a big gain if not enough for a TD like before. But I'm getting more convinced that he's not actually allowed to "read" the play. As it is, this play gets about 10 yards which coulda been a lot more if they hadn't run into the sideline.
A little later comes the payoff. They've got bump and run on the short side and they give them the same backfield motion.
But if the LB's and Safeties had been reading the O-line better, they'd have seen this was a pass.
Martinez drops a couple steps to give his receiver time to get open.
And the safeties are both dead. It's interesting that they run the same route with both WR, this shows a kind of lack of sophistication in the passing game. And it's only a 2 man route. But both WR had gotten a step on the DB's and this play get's Nebraska back within one TD.
He's not the fastest guy, but he's a solid football player. Martinez is probably more dangerous, but you've got to stop Burkehead first to slow down this offense.
This is an inside zone that should look pretty familiar to michigan fans. the H-back is coming across to either block the DE or go out in a pass route. There's also some bubblesceen motion with the slot receiver.
The DE is crashing hard and the H-back completely misses him. Martinez either missed the read, or it was a give all the way called by the sideline. .
If Martinez had kept it, there was a lot of open space once he cleared the DE. The lead blocker would have taken out the safety, 54 is taking to strong of an angle, and the other DB is too concerned with the bubble to have stopped Taylor. Instead #94 gets the TFL on Burkehead since #93 had gotten good penetration and Burkehead had to stop his feet.
On the game tying TD, Burkehead showed a nice jumpcut. (If you're not sure what a jumpcut is, here's a nice example of Miller doing one.) He gets the ball on the flare after Martinez scrambles around a bit to avoid the pressure.
The DB had him lined up for a big hit, except he jumps out of the way.
And with the big blitz called, the rest of the secondary is in tight man coverage and Burkehead has no one between him and the endzone.
So it was raining off and on during that game, which led to some amusing moments and a lot of slipping.
Martinez's throwing motion is even uglier when he's falling down.
Both sides were having trouble with it.
And Miller turned his ankle as he slipped on a cut.
Then Bauserman came in and promptly did this.
At least on that previous picture he was under pressure. On this one he's got no one to blame but himself.
That ball is JUUUUUSSST a bit overthrown.
Ok, maybe a bit more. But if you're wondering about the genesis of the the Bauserman Passing Chart, it was probably this play.
- Bo Pelini has anger issues.
The 1997 split-National Championship is a thorn in the sides of both Nebraska and Michigan fans. Both teams were undefeated, one was known for their high-powered offense, and the other was feared because of their stout defense.
So, what I suggest is that since Nebraska and Michigan will play every year (until there is another conference realignment), maybe they should play the ultimate trophy game. They should play for the unanimous 1997 National Championship every year.
Now, obviously, I don't suggest rewriting the history books every year. This would be metaphorical and represented by the transferring of trophies. Whenever Michigan wins, they would get Nebraska's Coach's Poll Trophy. When Nebraska wins, they would Michigan's AP Poll Trophy. It would work like a normal trophy game, but instead of only one, there would be two trophies transferred.
What do you guys think?