"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
Video clip problems? Try VLC.
|A true ISQD here, with a wide receiver lined up at QB. Taylor and BGraham(+1) fill this hole, BGraham beating blockers while Taylor was just let free and had to fend off the block of a tailback. Stewart, blitzing, also helps out from behind.|
|O19||2||11||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||10||Zone read PA|
|Shotgun handoff fake with a pulling guard to take on the DE left unblocked on the backside. Crable can't beat him. Ezeh(-1) suckered in by the playfake and is a yard or two from the LOS, attempting to bat the pass, as the TE finds the seam behind him. Englemon(+1) with an immediate, solid tackle. (Cover -1, pressure -1)|
|Funny: this is a play we run, pulling the TE across the formation to scrape the DE, then release â€“ Butler had a nice gain on this early in the Oregon game. On this play they playfake; Crable(-1) bites inside. Coverage(+1) is pretty good but there's no contain and the QB can scramble for the first.|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||6||Zone read counter|
|We blitz Ezeh from the outside; they pull a tackle around but use counter action to show a run to the left. Logan(-1) bites, getting blocked off and sealed by the EMU line; Ezeh picked off by the pulling tackle; Crable(-1), slanting inside at the snap, is shoved out of the play. Good, quick fill by Englemon(+1) holds it down.|
|O40||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||3||Zone read counter|
|Corner rolled up tight, threatening blitz. Similar play but this time they have their TE off the line and he pulls as well. Logan(+1) does a better job of recognizing, fending off a block to tackle despite the DL letting a big hole develop. Ezeh helps, too. (Taylor -1)|
|Trent(+3) jumps the slant, batting it up in the air. Adams(+1) intercepts and takes off. Great play from Trent. (Cover +3)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q. Trent having a Jeremy Lesueur sort of renaissance back there... so far.|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Jailbreak screen|
|Good play by Ezeh(+1) to hop around the vanguard here and tackle this after a moderate gain.|
|Dunno if it's just this copy of the game or if this was universal, but the TV cuts out right before the snap.|
|Michigan sends a corner blitz from the side where the trips are; Eastern sends one guy deep, then has another guy running a little stop route right at the sideline and another on a short cross. Adams has to try to cover two guys; he covers neither. (Cover -1)|
|O43||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Taylor(+1) absorbs a double team, and fills this hole with help from Crable and Graham.|
|Little out by the slot guy on a half-rollout by the QB. Ezeh prevents any YAC; Harrison fell down or he might have had a play on the ball. (Cover -1)|
|Hey... Slocum! Good first play from FLMS(+1), standing up EMU's guard and filling the hole. His tackle attempt is whiffed as the tiny dude spins out from it, but the delay allows Ezeh(+1) and Logan to collapse. Ezeh forces a fumble that Eastern recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 3-0, 5 min 1st Q. I feel like Dr. Z â€“ an old crotchety game charter â€“ but, well, I love Dr. Z: this PBP guy is awful about down and distance. Please, just get the yardage right once. Also, this i the hilarious drive where after a timeout they pull their offense off the field and we put out 14 freakin' guys in response. Wooo good coachin'.|
|M14||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Hey, wow. Taylor(-1, maybe harsh, but...) can't absorb the double team, this time, getting shoved inside by the guard and handled by the center as DE Crable flies upfield. Big hole. Brandon Logan(+2) takes on a blocker, gets outside of him, and delivers a thumping tackle to the tailback. Maybe this isn't a +2 last year, but by god I'm just excited to see a linebacker make a tough play this year.|
|M13||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||Zone read PA|
|Rollout after the zone read fake is cut off by a charging Jamison(+1), who forces the QB back inside and cuts him off from most of his routes. Logan(-1) gets lost on a RB wheel route that Warren(+1) has totally locked down, leaving a drag Chris Graham-open; ball is too far in front of the receiver as the QB never got set. (pressure +1, cover -1)|
|M13||3||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||6||Zone read PA|
|No rollout this time; QB spooks though he should have time to get some guys open and runs up into three or four zone defenders.|
|Drive Notes: FG(26), 10-3, EO1Q. It would be helpful if Ezeh and Thompson could have numbers spaced a bit further apart.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-3||Zone read counter|
|A guard and the TE pull around this time, but to no avail as Slocum(+1) has surged into the backfield. The mess impedes the guard, allowing Crable to shut off any holes, and the TE gets caught in the wash. After some hopping around, several Wolverines croosh like bug.|
|A one-yard drag route is batted into the air by the receiver and falls incomplete. Wasn't going anywhere anyway. (Cover +1)|
|Ezeh(-1) and Logan(-1) both read this very, very slowly â€“ when OL release downfield, guys, find the running back â€“ and once
the back is through the defensive line he's ten yards away from the linebackers. Logan(-1, again) compounds his error by getting pancaked by his guy and letting him outside of him; Englemon fills too late to prevent the conversion. (Ezeh did much better with his block.)
|O32||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read counter|
|First stunt of the game gets Jamison(+1) in unblocked; he lunges at the RB's feet, but misses the tackle. The delay he causes allows Michigan to converge. Ezeh dodges a blocker to finish.|
|O34||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||10||Zone read PA|
|Looks precisely like the premature scramble that ended EMU's field goal "drive", as the QB charges towards the LOS after the playfake. Ezeh(-1) charges at him, opening up a hole for the QB to exploit. Ball at the receiver's feet but completed for the first down. (Cover -1). Ezeh might have been damned either way here -- staying back means he can scramble -- but a scramble brings up third down.|
|Double move of some sort, as the QB pumps before letting a deep ball go. Englemon is step for step, locates the ball, and gets the PBU. (+2, cover +2, pressure -1)|
|O44||2||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||Inc||Zone read PA|
|Similar to the last first down for EMU; Michigan in man this time. Adams(+1) in good coverage; throw in front of the wideout and Adams helps prevent a difficult completion. (Cover +1)|
|Jamison stunts around as Michigan blitzes a fifth guy, but Eastern reads it and the center moves to pick him up. Jamison(+2) blows right through the guy, battering him to the turf and sacking. (Pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 10 min 2nd Q.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||6||PA Bubble Screen|
|Okay, transitioning to the bubble screen terminology. This is a zone read fake to a bubble. Harrison is blitzing and Trent is playing off, so there's a lot of room; Trent makes a nice open field tackle. (Cover -1)|
|Excellent coverage(+2) allows Michigan's line to get some delayed pressure. QB rolls out and throws it away.|
|O26||3||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||5||TE Circle|
|Zone blitz w/ Ezeh coming and Crable dropping off. The TE pirouettes just in front of the sticks, getting something of a pick from the umpire, and catches it. Logan with an immediate tackle but can't prevent the first.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||10||Zone read PA|
|QB rollout after the playfake similar to a couple earlier instances of this. Both linebackers and Adams(-1) bite; the Adams bite opens up a spot for the WR at the sticks on a curl. (Cover -1)|
|Coverage(+1) good enough to get the defensive ends to the QB; Patterson(-1) gives up contain and the QB exploits it for a few yards.|
|O46||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||12||Zone read screen|
|Similar setup to many of EMU's plays; no rollout this time and a simple throwback screen. Ezeh(-1), in man, gets caught up in the blockers; Crable(-1) fails to read this, though that minus might be harsh. This is a hard play to read.|
|Schmitt steps up and fires to a receiver; Englemon there with the ball and rakes, but he's a moment to late. (Cover -1)|
|M29||1||10||Ace Trips||Nickel||Pass||-8||Double Pass|
|At least I'm pretty sure that's what this was supposed to be. The only reason for EMU to come to the line would be to make sure the initial throw was backwards, and the outside WR doesn't even try to block his guy. That's Trent(+1), who shoots into the backfield and tackles the guy before he can even think about throwing.|
|Oh the immense loathing; no reason to to recognize this and get one or both safeties to the line ASAP. At the very least Ezeh(-1) and Logan(-1) should do better here.|
|Outstanding job by Trent to sit on this and break the play up. (+2, cover +2.) He's turning into a nice guy to have on these short routes because his makeup speed allows him to do this and risk the double move, especially against iffy wideouts.|
|Drive Notes: FG(41), 16-8, 2 min 2nd Q. Eastern playing well, and their offensive design makes it hard for us to leverage our talent advantage.|
|O43||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||-14||Chop block|
|BGraham(+1) draws the penalty by beating his man and forcing Schmitt to scramble. (Pressure +1)|
|O29||1||24||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||2||Draw|
|Why is this a 14 yard penalty? Who knows? Ezeh(-1), blitzing, runs right by this but Taylor(+1) fends off a double team to help out Crable(+1), who dropped off into a short zone and read this quickly.|
|O31||2||22||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||10||Post|
|We blitz; don't get there (pressure -1). Schmitt unloads to a receiver blanketed by Warren(+1, cover +2), who breaks up the pass. An unfortunate confluence of events ends up with the ball on Warren's back and the receiver grabs it for the catch. A total fluke.|
|Crable(+1) ducks inside his guy, getting pressure, but allowing Schmitt to flush. Taylor(-1) runs right upfield, allowing Schmitt to get around him, and he takes off down the sidelines. Can't tell who's fault it is downfield, but Jesus, guys. On replay: Logan(-1) had no idea what was going on.|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Crable(+2) discards the tackles and closes for w
hat should be a two-yard TFL but misses the tackle(-1). The guy squirts through for a Hart-like two yards.
|M43||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||9||Zone read PA|
|Ezeh(-1) reads the play action, then turns around and starts running away from the LOS attempting to cover the deep middle and leaving no one to prevent Schmitt from running.|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||8||Zone read handoff|
|Slocum(-1) can't handle the double; Logan(-1) is unblocked but doesn't cut the hole off and hold this down to three.|
|M26||2||2||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||5||Jailbreak screen|
|Logan(-1) cut to the ground; Ezeh(+1) does a better job and holds the WR up.|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Warren sent on a corner blitz; Logan charges up but misses a tackle; Warren(+1) comes from behind to hold it down.|
|We miss this play but as we come back Schmitt has just missed a wide open receiver (cover -2)|
|M19||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||9||Stop|
|Zone blitz; Crable drops off and sets up, but a short sideline stop route is wide open for the first down. Disappointing. (Cover -2)|
|M10||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||10||Zone read keeper|
|BGraham gets some penetration, forcing a cutback into Crable and Taylor. Hey! Whoops! This is a touchdown because Crable(-2) gave up outside contain on the QB.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (XP blocked), 16-14, 10 min 3rd Q. This personal foul on Warren looks superweak. Also: is this the weirdest way to get to 14 points you've ever seen?|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Zone read PA|
|Stop route. Trent, playing off, comes up hard and sort of tackles with his shoulder. Prefer it when Michigan plays tighter against these guys, who haven't so much as tried a downfield pass. (Cover -1)|
|O30||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||3||Zone read counter|
|EMU loves counters. Our line slants in, Crable getting pushed past where he's supposed to be, as EMU pulls around the TE to block a blitzing weakside linebacker. Englemon has crept close to the LOS as an extra guy in the box; he halts the advance long enough for Logan, the blizter, to recover.|
|O33||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||Zone read PA|
|Logan sent as a blizter to the side of the PA fake; this is the same thing they did in the first half that often suckered up a linebacker or provided a run option for the QB. This time Logan(+1) spins inside, cutting off the easy scramble for the first down and forcing Schmitt to run outside, where Adams(+1) keeps contain. A last ditch throw to the sidelines is broken up by Harrison(+1, cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 23-14, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Same wide splits that hurt us badly against NW; this time no stunting and Crable blitzes between Taylor and BGraham; BGraham(+1) beats his man and collapses on the ballcarrier as he passes.|
|BGraham(+1) get the sack, but we're watching the wave instead of the play.|
|O20||3||13||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||10||Out|
|This out is like three yards short of the sticks, so like whatever on third and thirteen, but Warren(-1) misses the tackle and turns this into a potential first down. Fortunately, Englemon(+1) comes up and delivers a thunderous blow that's also a great form tackle. The ball pops loose; Michigan recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 33-14, 2 min 3rd Q.|
|There's a hole here for the back, but Crable(+1) has beaten his guy to the interior and closes it down.|
|One linebacker, Logan(-1), lines up outside over a slot receiver; Ezeh(-1) in the middle. Both are extremely hesitant, allowing this obvious ISQD to get good yardage when Taylor and Crable get creased. Poor recognition.|
|O14||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-4||Zone read handoff|
|Crable(+3) schools the OT, darting past him into the backfield and making a TFL without any help. Nice play.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 33-14, 15 min 4th Q.|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||Zone read PA|
|A Harrison corner blitz leaves a short receiver wide open; EMU's QB throws it wide. (Cover -1)|
|O18||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||2||Zone read PA|
|QB decides to run this up too quickly, IMO; no chance for a route to develop. (Cover +1, though, as the short routes appeared covered). Greg Banks(+1) gets on the correct side of the OL and closes down.|
|O20||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Batted|
|M sends two blitzers between one of the big DE/DT gaps; the EMU TB picks up the unblocked guy. BGraham(+1) beats the LT, forcing the QB to throw, and then bats the pass. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 33-14, 12 min 4th Q.|
|Torrent doesn't have this play on it.|
|An incredibly surprising zone read keeper with EMU's WR/QB guy in there. Jamo(+1) keeps contain, forcing the QB back inside, where Slocum(+1) is waiting after impressively discarding a double team. He tackles violently. Learned that from the F Lion, I bet.|
|O34||3||9 td>||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||Inc||Hitch|
|Warren(+2) all over the wide reciever, breaking the pass up and forcing a punt. (Cover +2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7 min 4th Q. EMU gets the ball back with 3 minutes left and Anton Campbell is in the game... sorry, Anton, but that's a sure sign charting is over.|
How much should we panic?
Meh, not much. Your baseline panic for this year -- already high -- should be sufficient.
I was unimpressed by the D in the first half, as they only forced one three-and-out and often let Eastern pick up a first down or three before getting the ball back, which contributed to the low number of possessions and the relatively close halftime score. Then they gave up that touchdown off the onside kick and everyone was like "here we go again" just in time for the D to go the rest of the game without giving up a first down. (There was a garbage time TD, yes, but who cares?) Take away the fluff (blocked PAT conversion, FG from KO return, garbage time TO) and the D gave up ten points. That's not bad.
|Jamison||5||-||5||A couple points for keeping contain; didn't exactly blow up OL.|
|Taylor||2||4||-2||Little impact; starting to get harsher on the DTs on these shotgun zone read plays.|
|B. Graham||5||-||5||Relatively quiet day but still had a sack.|
|Crable||8||7||1||Alternated great plays with bad ones; second week in a row his irresponsibility has cost Michigan a big QB run.|
|Banks||1||-||1||Played as a DT|
|Ezeh||3||8||-5||Very hesitant. Hasn't made a play yet. Still young.|
|Logan||4||9||-5||Not a fan; where's Mouton? And how bad can Panter be?|
|Trent||6||-||6||I was really, really wrong about him, and happy about that. Will have to watch for double moves.|
|Warren||5||1||4||Quickly becoming a typical Warren day: three instances of blanket coverage that become incompletions, one badly missed tackle. I'll take it.|
|Englemon||5||-||5||Wow. He's been good... nearly impactful. How did Brown get the starting nod?|
|"Pressure"||5||3||2||Almost entirely three-step drops.|
|"Coverage"||19||14||5||Do I like this secondary? Can I?|
The biggest takeaways: another weak day for the linebackers; on the other hand, I think that's the highest collective score I've ever given a Michigan secondary. The fact we were playing Eastern Michigan undoubtedly has something to do with it, but over the past two weeks Trent, Warren, and Harrison have been jumping all sorts of quick routes, breaking them up and forcing interceptions. Meanwhile, if Englemon keeps up this level of play he'll be Michigan's best safety since Marcus Ray in 1997 -- big if, given the whims of Angry Michigan Safety Hating God, but a possibility. Vance Bedford? More experience for the lot of 'em? Ron English? An artifact of playing crappy teams instead of Oregon? Dunno.
Purdue will provide a real test.
Amorous Big Cat Enthusiast!
Indeed: Marques Slocum, after two years, one awesome/embarrassing Facebook quiz, a MIP, and five games on the bench, finally found his way to the field. And thank God for that. He saw a fair share of meaningful snaps as part of the defensive tackle rotation with Will Johnson out of the game and did well with them, holding up against double teams and occasionally discarding an offensive lineman like it was a non-Nextel phone. Nextel is da shit.
Standard disclaimers about level of competition apply, but he looked very good. Hopefully he'll be a part of the rotation from here on out.
So... is this defense getting better? Might it not suck?
Again, standard opponent quality disclaimers apply, but I think it is. The addition of BGraham to the defensive line and the insertion of Warren and Englemon into the secondary has made a world of difference. Graham appears to be our best defensive lineman, and the other two are replacing Johnny Sears, who was Michigan's worst player in the opening two week debacle, and Stevie Brown, who played a prominent role in The Horror by falling down on two separate AppSt touchdowns. If Slocum can maintain his level of performance against Big Ten foes, Michigan should have a 6-8 man rotation on the defensive line; the secondary suddenly looks okay.
One continual sore spot: the linebackers. Not having Thompson for the past two games hurts, but none of the four guys who have seen significant time has done anything to impress. I wonder just what's wrong with Mouton.
Things are verging on all right, though... I feel somewhat okay with Purdue coming in this week, which was inconceivable after Oregon. A quick look at next year: Michigan returns every defensive lineman in the two-deep save Crable, their top three corners, and three of the four linebackers who have seen time; the departure is Chris Graham. They could be pretty good... e
xcept we're obviously going to die at safety.
Trent and Warren ended multiple drives by jumping three-step drops, once causing an interception. BG and Jamo were both excellent.
Pick a linebacker.
What does it mean for Purdue?
The Boilers are down Jaycen Taylor but still retain the services of Kory Sheets; they've been electric against the weak sisters of the college football world but were something less than that against Ohio State, needing a late meaningless touchdown to break a shutout. This is something of a trend in West Lafayette: last year Purdue obliterated all comers except for Wisconsin and Penn State, against whom they scored a total of three points. Michigan's thoroughly proven that their run defense is not the caliber of Ohio State's this year, but the numbers versus the Bucks were really, really ugly:
Painter threw 60 times, completing just over half his passes (naturally)... I'm relatively confident Michigan can hold down the Purdue spread. Which is, I'll grant you, a completely insane thing to think. More tomorrow.
|O29||1||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||10||Mathews||Slip Screen|
|What, no zone left? This game of all games? My world... crumbles! (CA, 3) Okay... this is the second week in a row this has been called a bubble screen. I think I may have to change the lingo here.|
|O19||1||10||I-Form Twins(U)||Run||1||Hart||Zone right|
|(U) == unbalanced line. Michigan lines up the TE on the same side of the field as its WR on the line, which makes him an ineligible receiver. Boren(-1) is blown back into the backfield; Ortmann(-1) blown back. Hart submerged under three Eagles... I think maybe we need ways to punish DL who slant so heavily on the snap.|
|I can't believe teams still jump when our QBs do the finger thing.|
|O13||2||4||Ace 3-wide||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|EMU overshifted with two linebackers threatening blitz on the weakside and the line shifted heavily to the strongside. This time, Boren getes out in front of the EMU defender and gets him moving downfield; when Schilling comes to help out the guy gets blown back. A guy from the backside comes to tackle, but Hart is already moving forward and downfield; first down.|
|O8||1||G||I-Form Big||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Away from the two TEs. Again the EMU NT just sort of runs downfield, avoiding contact, until Hart decides to cut up the middle, at which point he's doubled and his momentum is moving in the wrong direction and he can't possibly halt anyone's advance. Didn't even have to block him.|
|O4||2||G||I-Form Big||Run||-2||Hart||Zone left|
|This time the NT shoots into the backfield between Boren and Schilling(-1), who was asked to make a very difficult block. Kraus(-1) is beaten on the frontside; his man tackles for loss.|
|O6||3||G||Ace 3-wide Tight||Pass||-9||--||Sack|
|Schilling(-3) schooled by Jason Jones, the NT we've been talking about all drive; Henne with no chance. (PR, 0, protection 0/3, Schilling -3)|
|Drive Notes: FG(31), 3-0, 9 min 1st Q. Weird drive from that NT guy, either getting immediate penetration or screwing around. Schilling has proven himself not quite ready for prime time the past few weeks, but he's young.|
|M1||1||10||I-Form Big||Run||20||Hart||Zone left|
|Yikes. This turns into a big gainer but was perilously close to disaster. Kraus gets drive backwards by his guy, cutting off the outside; Hart cuts behind. Fortunately, Boren(+1) has gotten the other DT sealed and Jake Long comes out to the second level, sees a linebacker fly up into the hole, and seals him as well. Hart just squeezes through. Then he's off.|
|I-Form personnel with Hart split wide. Mathews runs a simple little out against obvious zone. (CA, 3, protection 1/1) So weird that we pass on first down, which we do very rarely, and tip it by sending Hart out wide.|
|M26||2||5||I-Form Twins(U)||Run||14||Hart||Lead Draw|
|Again EMU loads the backside and run blitzes; we run a draw into it that should never, ever work. Outside blitzer slips and Hart dodges the other guy, is into the second level, and makes the most of the blocking there. This breaks the record; it's nice that he schooled some guy on it.|
|Same tactic from EMU with six on the LOS and two more near it, this against three wides. The corners are playing very soft; Henne takes advantage with a simple stop route; Arrington picks up plenty of YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O44||1||10||Ace Twins (U)||Run||6||Hart||Zone right|
|McLaurin instead of Moundros. EMU with a straight eight in the box, showing man. EMU NT Jones blows into the backfield past Schilling much like PSU's Ollie Ogbu did a couple weeks ago, but he can't quite reach Hart. Butler(+1) does a good job on the DE; Ortmann smacks a DB, and this could be a big gainer but for Boren(-1) falling at the feet of his second-level block, the MLB. Why go fo the cut here?|
|O38||2||4||Ace 3-wide||Run||1||Hart||Zone left|
|Boren(-1) beaten by the EMU DT, causing Hart to cut back. Don't know why, though; he should have kept going to the frontside, IMO. Hart manages to escape the DT; unblocked backside DE closes and tackles.|
|EMU drops seven into a picket-fence zone around the first down line, then drops off further as the routes develop. Protection is very good, so Hart jogs out of the backfield for an outlet; Henne hits him for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O31||1||10||I-Form||Pass||31||Arrington||PA Out & Up|
|I love this: after the completion, Hart comes off for a breather, so we break out the double-fullback backfield and run our first straight non-waggle play action of the year off of it. Uh... okay. It works, I guess, as Arrington has a step or two on his guy. He leaps to catch a slightly overthrown ball. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-0, 2 min 1st Q. Wow, horrible coverage from EMU on replay. I don't know why we aren't going deep to Arrington more often... he may not have the breakaway speed Manningham does but he's not bad and he can do that Braylon thing where he just takes balls a way from well-positioned defenders.|
|Arrington hit on an out against the same deep-ball terrified coverage. (CA, 3, protection 2/2). Arrington(-1) lined up off the line, however. It comes back.|
|Butler sits down in a hole in the zone, and Henne fires it in there. Smooth; excellent protection. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Henne scans downfield, comes down to McLaurin (maybe), and pumps but thinks better of
it; Hart's snuck out of the backfield again; Henne dumps it off for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
|M45||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Mathews||Long handoff|
|John Beilein! Woo. Git ur Izz on. This long handoff is thrown a bit in front of Mathews, but why has Mathews stepped back from the line? I don't know who to peg this on. I go with Mathews since I've seen Henne throw a billion WR screens and they're all on the money. (CA-, 2)|
|M45||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Mathews||Out & Up|
|Don't think Mathews really sells this route, as his cut into the out is really shallow and his man stays step for step. Henne has no short options and decides to bomb it anyway, keeping it away from the safety and to the outside. Mathews almost makes a great circus catch, but the EMU guy manages to rake it out. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Henne finds the open guy as a Mathews in drags one of the zone defenders out of a spot that Arrington occupies. Ball is behind the receiver and ends up a tough-ish spinning grab; Arrington makes it. (CA, 1 (I'm loosening my catch guidelines), protection 2/2).|
|Ugly all around from the right side of the line; Schilling(-1) gets beat to the inside by the DT and can't help outside; Ortmann(-1) takes the outside guy instead of the inside guy. An untouched Eagle hits Henne as he throws; the resulting throw is a duck into double coverage. Tentatively BA, but this doesn't seem like the world's greatest read. (BA, 0, protection 0/2) This could have been open if Henne put it outside of Hemingway. Would have been tight... but doable.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 10-3, 13 min 2nd Q.|
|M26||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Run||15||Hart||Zone right|
|Excellent job by Long(+1) to cut the backside DT to the ground. Hart uses the opening created by this and Boren again having some trouble with the DT. Moundros(+1) pounds the linebacker out of the picture, Hart reads it and flies up into the secondary for excellent yardage.|
|M41||1||10||I-Form Twins (U)||Run||11||Hart||Zone left|
|Can't decide if Carson Butler is supposed to let his guy inside of him or just does a lousy job; think the latter given Hart's vector. Hart sees the block there, and bounces it out. Moundros(+1) kicks out the linebacker; both other linebackers are engulfed by second-level blockers, Hart again into the secondary.|
|O48||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|Ortmann(-1) and Boren(-1) both let their guys penetrate; Hart can usually get away from one guy in the backfield but not two.|
|O49||2||11||Ace 3-wide||Pass||6||Mathews||Long handoff|
|Decent gain; this ball a little behind the receiver. (CA-, 3)|
|Welcome to the offense, kid. Henne stands in and fires just as Boren(-1) is getting driven back into him... this is a mildly tough throw. Hemingway has broken open on his route; he ball lays in perfectly for him. As Hemingway turns up, he slips, otherwise another two or three was possible. (DO, 3, protection 1/2)|
|O20||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone right|
|Jordan forces Schilling back, cutting off the frontside; Hart decides to cut back as he sees a hole behind it. Long has again cut a guy out of the play, providing the hole; Hart batters his way into a couple linebackers for a decent gain.|
|O16||2||6||I-Form Twins (U)||Run||12||Hart||Zone left|
|Caught 'em slanting the wrong way. DE heads inside, LB blitzes and seals himself as Butler moves out to the second level; Moundros cuts the outside linebacker, Hart has no problem making it to the second level.|
|O4||1||G||I-Form Twins (U)||Run||4||Hart||Iso|
|No zone blocking here, just a straight-ahead fire off the ball. Butler stalemates his guy, the DE, and Moundros seals his guy to the inside. Hart has a walk into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (XP blocked and returned), 16-5, 7 min 2nd Q. I swear this PBP guy has given a line and yards gained that are contradictory like three times on this drive. Michigan is on the twenty: "Hart to the fifteen for a gain of four." Aaaaargh. Meanwhile, at one point in this drive they get to talking about some Eagle from Oklahoma and Mason launches into a recounting of the various schools in the area... is it any wonder the first one out of his mouth is Tulsa? BTW: It's this Jones kid who blocks the XP, too.|
|Two-minute drill before halftime. Henne takes a short stop that's sort of ill-timed and poorly thrown, removing YAC potential. (CA-, 2, protection 1/1)|
|Jones shoots past Schilling(-1), the other EMU DT moves around Boren(-1), and Henne has two guys breathing down his neck from the center of the field. (TA, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Plenty of time; Henne comes down to the drag route and throws it imprecisely, preventing Mathews from picking up much after the catch. (IN, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 16-8, EOH.|
|M20||1||10||I-Form Twins (U)||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|EMU leaves a big gap between the strongside DT and DE; both Kraus and Long move to the second level immediately. Boren just barely gets across said DT, who's driving him into the backfield but falls, perhaps because of an assist from Moundros. Hart manages to squeeze through.|
t be a designed counter, as Moundros heads to the nominal backside to block the defensive end, who's usually left to his own devices on these plays. Hart takes what looks like a stretch handoff, then cuts back behind the penetration of the backside DT. Butler(-1) whiffs his block, Hart makes the guy miss, sort of, but said guy grabs his jersey and starts dragging. EMU converges.
|M32||1||10||I-Form Twins(U)||Run||1||Hart||Inside zone|
|Jones splits the double team of Schilling(-1) and Ortmann(-1), meeeting Hart in the hole.|
|I believe this was tipped at the line. (BA, 0, protection 1/2)|
|M33||3||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||16||Arrington||Deep out|
|The NFL throw, right on the money 15 yards downfield. Good pocket. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M49||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Boren(-2) beaten again, right off the snap. Hart runs past the DT, but his momentum stops. he decides to cut past the backside DE, and pops out for four.|
|Eastern's linebacker does a great job reading thins and attacking, allowing the defense time to recover and tackle. (CA, 3)|
|Arrington gets bumped, but pushes off to get separation and inside position; Henne hits him. (CA, 2, protection 2/2) Ortmann(-1) beaten by Jones, getting Henne hit.|
|By the way, Moundros has been our "running back" the past few plays with Hart getting a breather. We run play action that probably doesn't fool anyone. Hemingway's circle route gets him a step on a DB biting on the slant; Henne lays it in smoothly. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1) This time we keep a TE in to block so the backside DE doesn't get a free shot at the QB. This might have been a bad read, as live it looked like he had a guy open deep.|
|O24||1||10||Ace Twins (U)||Run||24||Hart||Zone left|
|Kraus(+1) and Long(+1) crease the front side of the defense; EMU has blitzed the linebackers so once he's through there's n one on the second level. One "woop" on the safety and it's a coast to the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-14, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|Virtually the same play as the 7 yarder on the second drive, except this time they're running to the strong side of the formation. Hart again cuts behind an aggressive slant from Jones. Moundros cuts the backside DE out of the play. Long seals the backside DT; Kraus the MLB. Second level blocks from Schilling and Butler are excellent. +1s for all! (We are finally punishing a team for excessive slanting to the playside, BTW.|
|O11||1||10||I-Form Twins(U)||Run||4||Brown||Inside zone|
|Brown runs into a wad of people, pushing the pile forward. No real creases.|
|O7||2||6||I-Form Twins(U)||Run||3||Hart||Inside zone|
|Jones beats Schilling(-1), eliminating the possibility of going inside; Hart cuts out, where mountros and Butler have gotten Hart the corner. An eastern safety reads this and fills immediately, holding the gain down.|
|O4||3||3||Ace Twins||Pass||-15 (pen)||Mathews||Pick play|
|Hart offset; obvious pass. Henne hits a wide open Mathews; the reason he was wide open was a blatant pick from Arrington. There are ways to do this legally; this was not one of them. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|This is actually a perfect throw right to the front corner of the endzone but Arrington slows up on his route, misjudging the flight of the ball, and makes this too tall for himself. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(36), 26-14, 3 min 3rd Q. EMU fumbles the ensuing kickoff.|
|O17||1||10||I-Form Twins(U)||Run||17||Hart||Zone right|
|Jones again into the frontside of the play but there's no one on the backside with long cutting that DT just enough. Kraus(+1) gets a great second level block, as does Schilling; Hart waltzes. Another "woop" move on the same safety.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 33-14, 3 min 3rd Q. Michigan. Charting ceases, as the rest of the game is Carlos Brown thudding into the line. This does miss one bad Henne INT.|
Where were all the points?
16 first half points against a team like EMU is not a bounty, but if you check the drive chart above, please note that Michigan only had five possessions in the first half, and one of those was a (failed) two-minute drill. That, some bad luck, and terrible special teams play had Eastern within 8 at the half. I just bring this up to reinforce the idea that playing a style of offense that relies on lots of long drives reduces the number of possessions in a game and exposes you to the vagaries of fate more than, say, Texas Tech.
Not that Texas Tech is the end all and be all of programs, or that we should follow their example. But by God whoever wins or loses a TT game does so thoroughly.
So, a ton of penetration against us when we play EMU. We're doomed.
Yeah, maybe. One thing: I think we ran into this year's Dan Bazuin in the personage of EMU's Jason Jones. That kid is just good. He blocked an extra point, sacked Henne, and got tons of penetration on running play, and generally terrorized Michigan. He screwed up a bit and would occasionally slant himself out of a play, but I'd take him on my team any day. (We're thinking of cobbling together a ragtag crew of losers, calling ourselves the University of Phoenix Phoenixes (We're From Phoenix!), and claiming that we're the local rivals of every I-A school since the Internet is everywhere. Viola: 12 crushings at the hands of actual teams for six figures each and early retirement. He can play with us. Or on Michigan.)
Also, Hart kinda ran for 10 yards per carry. So things weren't that grim.
But both Boren and Schilling are struggling to keep guys in front of them. Part of that is the predictability of the offense: we've run stretch play after stretch play, allowing DTs to slant with impunity as soon as an offensive lineman steps to one side
or the other. We need to incorporate more counter action into the run game, as we did with great success against Oregon, to keep from ending up in second and third and long with frequency. If you sell out to stop the zone game you can get to it in the backfield and throw guys for losses. Hart lost 39 yards all of last year; halfway through this year he's already reached that number. Did our offensive line get worse? Probably not appreciably... there were plenty of issues last year, too. Did Hart get worse? No. It appears teams have started to figure out Michigan's rushing attack and are content to roll the dice risking a 10-12 yard chunk for the chance of a TFL and long yardage situations for a team that hasn't handled them well so far.
I don't think it's a coincidence that Michigan had great success the few times they deigned to run a sort of counter by stepping the line to one side or the other but shooting Moundros at the backside DE, opening up big cutback lanes when the EMU DTs slanted. Hart's 61 yard run came on one of these plays.
We do this all the time, though.
Right, we do. Even today, when we broke one tendency -- zone left first play of every game -- we introduced a new one, the unbalanced line. Michigan ran every time they covered up the TE. This worked, but we were playing Eastern Michigan, so it had damn well better.
Rope-a-dope seems to be a key aspect of Michigan's offensive philosophy. It's the only way to explain many of the trends we see in playcalling. Vijay of IBFC astutely observed that Debord appears obsessed with setting up tendencies so he can break them later. Thus the fullback shuffle. Thus the 100% run with an unbalanced line: he's setting up foes down the road by actively trying to look like a predictable idiot. Then Michigan ditches the staid stuff in the big games. This might explain both Michigan's tendency to play down to its opponent and its typically better than expected results against top competition. (At least when the entire Carr era is considered; not so much the past few years.)
This is a slightly different critique than the one put forth when people mention the "scoring offense"; the results are often the same. There was quite a contrast between watching the Michigan offense I know and love-hate and watching EMUs. The difference, as pithily as I can construct it: EMU hopes to confuse opponents into not knowing what the play is; Michigan hopes to convince opponents they're doing something else.
|Oregon - Henne||1||13||6||3||1||0||3|
|Oregon - Mallett||3||7||2||3||1||1||2|
|ND - Mallett||2||7||4||1||0||2||0|
|PSU - Mallett||3||12||6||3||6||1||2|
|NW - Mallett||2||5||4||1||1||1||1|
|NW - Henne||1||19||4||1||1||1||0|
That's slightly generous, as Henne had six further attempts in the game, going 3/6 and throwing a bad interception. Also, the first INT was filed as BA when it didn't seem to be a good idea to throw even if you didn't end up with a guy draped all over you. Even considering that, Henne had a very good day with few unforced errors. If he plays like that versus Purdue (minus the ugly INT) we win.
Another week of no drops, though Arrington misjudged a flag that should have been a TD.
Protection is a bit uglier: 28/37. Schilling -5, Ortmann -1, Boren -2, Team -1. Schilling was the culprit when Jones beat him silly on the sack that killed Michigan's first drive. Youth, playing out of position, etc. Plenty of excuses; would like him to play better.
As close as you can get to heroes playi
Hart and Henne. Moundros also had his most effective game to date. None of those flops at the defender's feet.
Schilling; Boren had trouble containing Jones as well. Arrington did turn a TD into a FG by getting too aggressive on a pick, then misjudging that flag, but he's kind of good anyway. Also: he sounds just like Carlton Banks. I swear to god.
What does it mean for Purdue?
There is still little data on Purdue's defense. They gave up a ton of yards to Minnesota, but I believe that was mostly garbage time. Notre Dame managed 377 passing yards... so, like, wow. They must seriously suck? Dunno. Boeckman threw three picks amongst two TDs and 200 yards passing; WellsX2 rattled off around five YPC but got stuffed in some critical situations. I don't think they're going to be a pushover. Still, given the ND game, in which they only got two sacks, one of them from a safety, it seems safe to say that Michigan's passing game, if unleashed, should shred the Purdue secondary. Pending, of course, Henne playing like he did in this game instead of his frightening Year of Infinite Pain reversion in the first couple weeks.
10/6/2007 - LSU 28, Florida 24 - LSU all #1 and stuff.
Five times, LSU found itself facing fourth and short against the Gators. Five times, they went for it. Five times, they got it, and that's the primary reason LSU is #1 today. What does it take to sell real estate?
It takes brass balls.
Brass balls alone lead into the land of Weis E. Coyote and leads to things like running a Brady Quinn option on second and short against USC. This was more than that. David Romer, the patron saint of coach-strategery-questioning, would have approved of each call. A listing:
- With fourth and goal from the one, Ryan Perriloux cuts an option up for a touchdown, bringing LSU to within 3.
- On fourth and five from the twenty five, Matt Flynn scrambles for a first down. LSU goes on to score a touchdown. (At this point LSU K Colt David has already missed a 43-yarder; Miles is passing up on a 42 yard attempt.)
- On fourth and three from the Florida four, Matt Flynn rolls out, fakes a run, then pulls up to hit Demetrius Byrd in the endzone for a touchdown.
- LSU converts twice on the final, game-winning drive, once on fourth and one from their own 49, again on fourth and inches from the Florida five. Both times Jacob Hester bulls his way to first down yardage.
Three decisions to go were on fourth and short deep in Florida territory, and each turned a field goal attempt with a shaky kicker (David isn't very good and would finish the night 0-2, with one of the misses from 36) into a vital touchdown. One kept David from attempting a 42-yarder and eventually turned into another LSU touchdown; the last was the fourth and short on LSU's side of the field. Taken together they are a breathtaking tribute to offensive efficiency: four of LSU's nine drives against the Gators ended in the endzone. A further two ended in makable field goal attempts. There is a difference between this and mindless aggression.
The final call is the least debatable. Kicking a field goal is not automatic (LSU's kicker had already missed a 36-yarder) and gives Florida the ball back with about 2:30 on the clock to drive for the win. Going, on the other hand, either leads to Florida with the ball on their own six, needing a first down to kill the game, or what actually happened: first and goal, eventual touchdown, harried Florida drive that needs to go the length of the field to win the game. Anyone with a passing familiarity of the probabilities involved here should understand that going for it is the far superior choice, but how many coaches would pass up the temptation of a chip-shot field goal there? Certainly not our current set, and probably very few across the country.
Anyone protesting that had one of these attempts failed the consensus here would be "Les Miles is an idiot" has not lingered long over these passages or has forgotten certain things if they have. If ever I was going to turn my back on the Gospel of Expectation, it would have been after the Wisconsin game during the Year of Infinite Pain, when Carr decided to go for it on fourth and goal from the one. Matt Lentz tripped, Kevin Grady got stoned, and Michigan would go on to lose by a field goal. That game's UFR (a truly embryonic edition... the feature has come a long way in two years) makes one brief mention of it:
Still the right call.
So there you go. Miles made the right call five times and turned a loss into a victory.
Meanwhile, even the best coaches occasionally succumb to brainlock in the heat of the moment. Everyone's -- and this blog includes itself in this everyone -- prodigal coaching genius Urban Meyer blew 20 seconds after Hester's conversion before calling timeout, then failed to call another timeout after Florida's opening play on their final drive ended up in-bounds short of the sticks. When the Gators managed to cross midfield they had twelve seconds and had to settle for one harried play and a Hail Mary. If Meyer had used his timeouts appropriately by immediately calling timeout after every LSU or Florida play that ran the clock after Hester's conversion, Florida would have had a minute and a half to play with and an excellent shot at a game-winning touchdown of its own. That was coaching malpractice on a staggering scale.
There's a post about this on the Fanhouse, but I will repeat myself here: that game should forever dispel the notion that Les Miles is just an empty hat along for the ride with an epic amount of talent. Said talent bumper-crop doesn't appear to be materializing, at least not on offense. Matt Flynn threw horribly behind his receivers several times, finished with 144 yards passing, and threw an ugly interception. Primary Flynn target Early Doucet missed the game. Jacob Hester, who is From Nebraska even if he's actually from Louisiana, was admirably effective at battering his way forward and is now a local hero for all time but will make the NFL at the same time I do. The LSU offense replaces three first-round picks, returns (I believe) only five starters, and is breaking in a quarterback with only moderate talent and one career start. This is not a team that should put up 28 points (with two missed field goals) against the #9 team in the country on just nine drives.
The reason they reached that number is that Les Miles took stock of the options he had and let 'er rip. Average coaching loses that game. Good coaching loses that game. Miles and his staff were brilliant in one of the marquee games of the season, and LSU is #1.
I am sold. I will sign on the line that is dotted. Get some coffee, Les.
- Harbaugh? No. A group of friends and I watched the afternoon and late games together and everyone watching the USC-Stanford game started out conflicted save our resident Auburn guy, but when an impossible fourth and twenty turned into a first and goal, everyone whooped, and when that kid with a 1570 SAT stabbed his foot down for the winning points, everyone whooped again, and for a moment all that crap over the summer was forgiven. But it's just one game. The parallels between grabbing Harbaugh after that and Notre Dame dumping a ten-year extension on Weis are too eerie. He hasn't proven anything yet, and while I think there's plenty of evidence he'll be very good he's too much of a risk when Miles is out there, even leaving aside the garbage over the summer.
- Did we play a game? I guess we did. And of course this is the game that DeBord decides to open with something other than zone left and balance his run-pass ratio against a weaker opponent. He even threw the ball with Savoy in the game. Does he just do these things to spite me? Hey, Debord, I really hate it when we put up 50 points. Loathe it.
- An unwelcome addition to the playbook: an unbalanced line with two wide receivers in a twins look with a tight end to their side. The tight end is covered up in this look and is an ineligible man if he goes downfield. Michigan was 100% run out of this, IIRC. It worked well, albeit against Eastern Michigan, and clearly seems like a Debord Trickery special.
- Final special teams tally: one KO return inside our twenty, another instance of our punt gunners failing to do
wn a Zoltan hanger before it rolled into the endzone, two onside kicks recovered (to be fair, the second was about as perfect as onside kicks get), one instance of a punt returner failing to pick up a bouncing ball at the nine and getting Michigan pinned at the one, and one blocked extra point run back for a conversion. Michigan puts the 'special' in special teams.
- Blaming our special teams failings on our lack of a special teams coach is a shallow reading of things. I don't think many teams have a dedicated special teams coach, but they manage to do without. I do think it's indicative of a larger pattern: this team is not well coached. From the blocked field goals to the extra-point where Mike Hart ran on the field to be an eleventh guy, special teams has been a clusterf*** all year... just like our defense against even the wussiest spread option teams. Also, there were an epic number of off-field incidents in the offseason; this has lasted into the year. Manningham, Minor, and Babb all missed this game. Warren was also held out of the first series for a disciplinary matter. The overall picture painted is of a team rapidly spiraling into disarray.
- Michigan's learned nothing from redshirts blown in the past. It's mind-bogglingly frustrating to see Martell Webb, James Rogers, Troy Woolfolk, and Zion Babb on the field. Not one of these players is going to do anything this year to help the team, and whatever tiny experience they pick up this year is absolutely not worth blowing a potential starter's fifth year. Two words: Prescott Burgess.
- The mind boggles even further when Michigan's refusal to run their actual offense in garbage time is considered. If they think that getting Ryan Mallett reps in garbage time is not a useful way to increase his readiness, why the hell are so many scrubs not redshirting this year?
- Carlos Brown showed nothing in extensive time, and Brandon Minor hasn't been very impressive this year either. Both seem like very fast guys who can run straight ahead into a major hole but provide no YAC and can't make anyone miss. McGuffie has a wide open shot at the job. (Also, he's healthy again: 272 yards on 18 carries, 6 TDs. Schwing!)
- No Graham or Thompson this week, and no Mouton until very late. After the first play he was in on, Mouton started limping around, so maybe his ankle injury was pretty severe and is still lingering? I certainly hope so; if that's not the case he's really unlikely to be a contributor down the road.
- One bright spot: the corner play, IMO, has been pretty good for a few weeks now.
- Slocum finally played. Woo.
Not that Emu.
Eastern! Respected intra-county rival! How we respect you and your respectable program which is worth respecting!
Run Offense vs. EMU
Pittsburgh, last seen losing by ND-like margins to UConn and Virginia, is the best team Eastern has played this year, and they're still 83rd in rush defense. But things, while uneven, haven't been totally humiliating. Vandy put up 173 yards but needed 44 carries to do it. Ball State's RBs combined for 35 carries at 3.4 YPC. It hasn't been a total slaughter.
Those numbers came against Howard, which isn't a guy (or a duck) but a I-AA HBC. While Michigan is no stranger to giving up mind-bending numbers of rushing yards to I-AA schools, neither is it in the practice of having the equivalent of a I-AA rushing attack. Though there were significant struggles against Northwestern, apparently John Gill is one of Northwestern's anomalous badasses; no one on Eastern will come close to matching that performance. If this is not a steady grind reminiscent of the first three games, it will bode very unwell for future contests.
One note: there are well-sourced rumors flying around that Brandon Minor is going to miss this game. Carlos Brown might get extensive time, assuming we don't trail at the half.
Key Matchup: Interior OL versus DT penetration. Mike Hart has had to deal with DTs in his grill for two straight weeks, breaking 100 yards only via repetition and, well, that's it: repetition. Also his ineffable greatness, but mostly just getting pounded into the line 30 or 44 times. If Eastern Michigan DTs cross the LOS just cancel the season. Again.
Pass Offense vs. EMU
Henne is back as Michigan's full-time starter, so the training wheels can come off the offense and we can risk things like simple outs against terrified three-deep coverage. Like the rush defense, EMU's pass defense has been erratic. They held NIU's QB to 128 passing yards in a win and intercepted Vandy's Chris Nickson four times but also gave up 308 yards and four touchdowns to Ball State's Nate Davis and allowed Pitt's Bill Stull to have an efficient 14 for 20, 177 yard, 1 TD day. I am confident in saying that Henne is better than Davis or Stull and whatever grab bag of wideouts and tight ends we have still includes a few guys who Eastern is going to cower before.
One item to look for: who replaces Massey? Tight end depth was a major issue in the spring when Carson Butler was off the team and Massey was dinged up. The spring game featured Chris McLaurin, a converted linebacker, and Andre Criswell, a converted fullback, conclusively proving McLaurin couldn't block, and Criswell couldn't run, and neither could catch. We could just go with a three-wide set and force opponents to respect it by, like, passing out of it. We could more heavily feature Mark Moundros, though he's been uninspiring and with Moudros comes the dread fullback shuffle. More likely we'll try to sort through the wreckage at TE to find an acceptable alternative. McLaurin saw Massey's time against Northwestern.
Key Matchup: Mike Debord versus throwing only when we have to.
Run Defense vs. EMU
Eastern ran for 37 yards against Pitt and 62 yards against Vandy. Only one anomalous 68 yard romp against NIU is keeping their 100th-ranked rushing offense from levels of epic suck matched only by Notre Dame. They run a spread unless they've vastly changed their offense from last year, so there's always the chance Michigan implodes and Eastern puts up like 300 yards, but... uh... no.
Key Matchup: Ron English versus Getting Too Cute. Stunting all over creation has gotten Michigan in trouble against both Appalachian State and Northwestern; simply driving EMU's crappy OL back should be sufficient.
Pass Defense vs. EMU
EMU QB Andy Schmitt against Vandy:
Yikes. Eastern's passing attack is thus far even worse than their run game, 110th in the country largely because Schmitt went nuts against Howard.
Meanwhile, Michigan's secondary turned in an excellent day versus Northwestern a week after leaving a lot of Penn State receivers open but getting away with it due to a fierce pass rush and the tao of Morelli. Things are on the upswing after the worst performance ever by a Michigan secondary against Oregon -- probably not even exaggeration, that -- and Eastern seems more likely to threaten themselves instead of Michigan.
Key Matchup: Safeties versus enormous screwups that cost Michigan touchdowns. We had another against Northwestern; these must halt.
...will not be relevant, and if they are you probably don't want to know about it.
Key Matchup: KC Lopata, please don't suck..
Vast spreads against MAC teams do not warrant kitten talismans.
- Eastern runs for anything at all.
- Eastern throws for anything at all.
- We can't run. Worry lots if that.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Mallett plays the second half...
- ...with Carlos Brown.
- Uh... we kick off? It's EMU.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 2 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for MAC Opponent, -1 for MAC Opponent From Michigan, -1 for ...That Doesn't Have Brian Kelly, -1 for MAC Opponent From Washtenaw County, +1 for The Horror).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (B
aseline 5; +1 for We Must Maintain In-County Bragging Rights, +1 for If This Happens Twice In One Season My Brain Might Melt, +1 for It's EMU, +1 for Seriously, +1 for SERIOUSLY.)
Loss will cause me to... iiiiiiiiit's kitten time!
Win will cause me to... shrug, watch OSU-Purdue with great interest.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Eastern Michigan is the worst team Michigan will play all year and should roll over and die. Yeah, there's a chance things implode but... no.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Mike Hart sets the record at the end of the first quarter.
- 6 sacks.
- 42-17, Michigan.