100% worst thing ever
3/23/2012 – Michigan 2, Cornell 3 (OT) – 24-13-3, 15-9-4 CCHA, season over
Shawn Hunwick first stepped on the ice for a 18-16-1 Michigan team that had seen its at-large NCAA hopes evaporate during a dismal road sweep at the hands of Nebraska-Omaha.
No one wanted him out there, but at least it didn't much matter. This year's team was in danger of missing the tournament in November and recovered to finish second in the Pairwise. Two years ago they had missed it, period, until they lost their starting goalie and inserted a guy who came to Michigan with no illusions he'd play.
That was the catalyst for a change in Michigan's fortunes. Involuntarily pulling Bryan Hogan was another outlet for the dread everyone was feeling at the near-certainty that Michigan would break its tourney streak. Those in the stands reacted by assuming that every shot at or in the general vicinity of the net would either go straight in (in the case of shots that needed no assistance) or be deflected into the dead center of a wide open goal (in the case of shots that were not already on net).
The team felt the same way. They responded by swarming into the slot in a great mass to sweep away the fat, glistening rebounds Hunwick seemed to give up on every shot, no matter how harmless. Their certainty that Hunwick would be overrun led to a 4-0 shutout.
The next night they'd finish the regular season by giving up five goals in an untelevised road loss. Did they relax? I don't know.
Michigan entered the playoffs the next weekend and went on a rampage. They continued to patrol their own slot with feverish intensity, and this translated into the "jump" hockey coaches and commentators are always using to define that ineffable quality a hockey team has when its passes are going tape to tape and the opponents keep finding inconveniently located defenders.
The jump lasted three games. They swept Lake State out of Yost, then bombed Michigan State 5-1 at Munn. The second night they leapt out to a two-goal lead and then bled it back. The first goal was just one of those things. Tristin Llewellyn took an insane elbowing penalty to put Michigan down two men and MSU passed it around until they got a slam dunk.
The second and third goals were the end of the ride. They were both power play goals—Llewellyn would watch State score from the box three times in three minutes—but they were pillowy soft ones. This was the moment at which it all came screeching to a halt and Hunwick was revealed as the walk-on he was. Michigan went to the locker room down 3-2 after one, certain that anything they let on net was going in. The jump had left Michigan's step.
Michigan State got one shot in the second period. It did not go in. That period was twenty minutes of battering a door until it hung by the barest sliver of a hinge. Three minutes into the the third, it gave way.
State managed 22 shots for the game but no more would get past Hunwick; Michigan tilted the ice decisively in the second, tied it, and finished the job in the third. The next weekend at the Joe, Michigan allowed 22 shots to Miami and 18 to Northern Michigan as they secured a streak-extending bid with the most rousing CCHA playoff run they'd had since the days when Michigan was looking up at the Lake States of the world.
They played like banshees. They died like Vikings. They did so because they didn't know what the hell was going to happen when someone threw a puck at the net.
Two years later, Shawn Hunwick is possibly the best Michigan goalie of all time and it's overtime because Michigan had a goal disallowed because Michigan always has a goal disallowed.
Michigan wins a faceoff and gets a shot off that is saved and caroms to Cornell. Cornell turns the play back against a third line of Luke Moffatt, Derek Deblois, and Travis Lynch. Moffatt is there to provide a third man back against the rush.
The defenders can't handle the rush that well and end up giving up a scary shot from a Cornell forward cutting left to right in front of the net. Hunwick's way out of the blue ice, because he's always way out of the blue ice because he's 5'6". He gets his right pad on the shot. He's 5'6". He has limited options when it comes to leg angles that kick pucks places. His choice here is between letting the thing into the net and kicking his leg as straight as he can so that there's no angle for the thing to go in. He's got a save percentage above .930. He's a Hobey Baker finalist. He kicks it out into the slot, like he did against Notre Dame, over and over again.
Moffatt's there, but in a bad position. His check is crappy, he doesn't tie the guy's stick up sufficiently, the guy puts it in the net, and Hunwick is over. All that's left for him to do is take the puck that was in the slot and is now in the net and hand it to Cornell. Deblois and Lynch are cruising into the defensive zone still. They don't look much like banshees, and they're not there in the slot. They're sophomores—juniors now—and don't remember what it was like when Shawn Hunwick was a 5'6" walk-on and not a Hobey Baker finalist.
The Horrible Horrible Power Play
For the third straight year Michigan's season ends 3-2 in overtime thanks in part to a disallowed goal. The rage factor on this one is lower than the other two because it came with 58 minutes to play, was not disallowed because the ref blew his whistle, and there's not enough rage to go around this year thanks to the power play.
Michigan's terrible awful power play entered the NCAA tournament 46th nationally and leaves it 48th, where they'll stay since everyone else around them is done for the year. Michigan spent half the
third second period up a man, almost three minutes of that time up two, and achieved a –1 goal differential in that time. That was the game right there. Michigan finished 0/7 on the power play, gave up a power play goal on one of Cornell's three opportunities, and conceded a shorthanded goal for the first time all year.
It's clear there's something wrong with the power play that can't be explained away by pointing to a lack of talent. Michigan hasn't had a power play you could actually call good in four years despite consistently putting up a lot of offense:
|YEAR||PP RK||Goals per G||Goal RK|
You can say '09-'10 is slightly above average, but that's all. Meanwhile Michigan continues to finish around the top ten in scoring despite not getting much production out of their power play. If their ability with a man advantage roughly corresponded with their 5x5 scoring this year* Michigan would have put up 13 extra power play goals and leapt into the top five in scoring.
It's hard to take the argument that Michigan just doesn't have the talent seriously when outfits like Bemidji State, Western Michigan, Northern Michigan, and Ferris State all finish 20+ spots ahead. Zero of those teams have NHL draft picks littering the roster, let alone a set of offensive defensemen like Merrill, Moffie, and Bennett.
This is a coaching issue. Watching Michigan cluelessly bat it back and forth from one covered guy to the other one on the five-on-three should make that clear. No one moves, no one has a plan, and the most common thing to do is fling a point shot into a defender's pads. Red is the king of all he perceives but this is a major problem that doesn't look like it's going away.
*[The #10 power play, North Dakota, converted at a 22% rate compared to Michigan's 14.6.]
The disallowed goal. I don't think Moffatt's impact changed the outcome of that play. The goalie was already sliding away from the puck and had no idea where it was. That said, Moffatt did impact the goalie in the crease, and it didn't look like his defender had anything to do with it. I don't think it's an outrageous injustice. It's very frustrating, of course, but if the ref screwed that up he more than made up for it with the avalanche of Cornell penalties Michigan could do nothing with.
The penalty shot was a terrible call, but at that point I think I preferred it to the alternative since Michigan was down, had a power play, and was playing a team without a ton of offensive skill.
Merrill: WTF? Also Moffie. The biggest reason Michigan lost other than its power play was the Merrill-Moffie pairing. Moffie initiated the sequence that led to the shorthanded goal with a suicide pass to Merrill; Merrill screwed it up at the line and the two-on-one started. Then Merrill took a swipe at the Cornell saucer pass with his stick instead of getting his body into the passing lane, leading to a slam dunk.
On the winner it was Merrill and Moffie who combined to let that rush turn into a dangerous shot; Merrill got too far outside and again out of the passing lane. Moffie also added a stupid crosschecking penalty seconds into Cornell's dubious major; it was Merrill who ended up giving up the (admittedly ludicrous) penalty shot.
Merrill has not played well over the last month. He was responsible for goals against Northern Michigan, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, and Cornell and hasn't been as superb with the puck as he usually is. I'm not sure what's going on there but he doesn't seem focused.
CCHA: not so much. The conference got almost half its membership into the tournament this year but saw four of its five teams flame out in the first round. Ferris State got past injury-riddled Denver and Cornell to make its first Frozen Four, and congrats to them.
Everyone else went out in game one. Takeaways from this:
- A conference where no one can score that was won by a team without an NHL draft pick on it is not that good at hockey.
- Non-conference games are hugely important because they are so sparse and provide the basis of comparisons between conferences.
That latter issue should evaporate after next year. Western college hockey will reform itself into three conferences from two and Michigan will have 14 nonconference games instead of six. Hopefully those aren't all home series against Bentley during football season.
A glance at next year. It's hard to predict without knowing the results of the NHL draft and whether Michigan will suffer early departures. A hypothetical no-defection defense corps looks pretty good:
That's light on sandpaper but should have no problems moving the puck. The only problem is that Michigan could lose the first three guys listed above. Bennett came in saying outright that he would not be a four-year player, Trouba is good enough to be signed immediately by an NHL club, and who knows what Merrill's attitude will be towards a hypothetical junior season after the rollercoaster he went through. Losing one guy is survivable. Two is worrying.
Michigan really needs a big leap forward from Serville. He's a lot younger than Chiasson, has a decent NHL draft pedigree, and seemed to be moving forward late in the year. If he can develop into a solid second-pairing type it'll be okay.
At forward, Red will put them through the blender but one man's rough guess:
- Moffatt-T. Lynch-PDG
- Random assortment including Rohrkemper, Sparks, Other Lynch, and freshmen Daniel Mile and Justin Selman
It's possible Nieves comes in and forces himself onto the top two lines but I'm guessing Red will go with a defense-oriented player over the freshman. Defections here are also possible, of course: Guptill, PDG, and Brown are all potential departures. People keep talking about PDG leaving but I'd be surprised if an NHL team is eager to sign him just now. His 26 points are good for a freshman but not Pacioretty good. The kind of guys who have left after one year have driven play more than PDG did.
The biggest change will be in net, where NTDP goalie Jared Rutledge replaces Hunwick with Junior A vagabond Steve Racine backing him up. Rutledge's Pointstreak page is a little scary—a drop in games and performance from year to year—but the embarrassingly primitive spreadsheet the NTDP uses to track its stats shows that over the course of the year Rutledge has a .902 versus teammate (and Ohio State commit) Collin Olson's .893. NTDP save percentages can be pretty ugly since a big chunk of their games are against college teams, so that's fine. Rutledge is a small, aggressive, technically-sound goalie who sounds a lot like Hunwick.
BONUS SPREADSHEETIN': Michigan's 3 NTDP U17 commits are #1, #4, and #5 in scoring on their team. JT Compher is the guy at #1 and has played 7-8 fewer games than the rest of the team. He's the only guy with a PPG. Tyler Motte is neck and neck with Miami commit Anthony Louis and UNH commit Tyler Kelleher for #2; Evan Allen is a half-dozen points back of that group. With those three guys and Bryson Cianfrone, a Canadian Junior A player who was projected as a first round OHL draft pick before committing to Michigan, Michigan looks like they'll have a dynamite 2013 class. Pending defections, of course, Always pending defections.
Formation notes: Nothing new save the Denard Jet formation moving back to shotgun.
Substitution notes: Almost all Smith at RB, with cameos from Toussaint and Hopkins playing FB when one was needed, whether that was out of the I or in a two-back shotgun set. No Barnum; Mealer came in for Lewan after Gholston judo chopped him off the field for a couple plays.
You know about the QB rotation; WRs were the usual.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Flat||Hemingway||5 (Pen +5)|
|They are running curl/flat here but Robinson doesn't have time to let the corner truly pick one as the LBs are flying up hard into gaps into the line. This would be wide open for nice yardage if it was a slant. As it is the zoning corner doesn't drop back far enough to give up the edge and can come up to tackle. Pickleman offsides anyway. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|M25||1||5||I-form||2||1||2||4-3 over||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||1|
|MSU shows man as Gallon motions across the formation. Michigan runs an iso fake that sucks in the backside LB, who's blitzing, and Denard runs the throwback. Lewan(-2) whiffs on the corner and Schofield was late getting out because of traffic; two guys converge for no gain. (CA, 3, screen) RUN-: Lewan(2)|
|M26||2||4||Shotgun jet||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Jet QB power||Gardner||5|
|Jet fake pulls a safety down and forces the other guy to go one-high. Michigan pulls to the backside; Koger(+0.5) kicks out Gholston as Lewan(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) club Worthy to the ground. Smith leads into the WLB as Omameh pulls around into... also the WLB(-2). MLB is sitting unblocked in a big hole; Gardner(+1) hops outside and gets the edge thanks to Hemingway(+1) sustaining a block downfield. RPS+1; if Omameh makes a block on the MLB this could be a big chunk.|
|RUN+: Koger(0.5), Huyge(0.5), Lewan, Hemingway, Gardner||RUN-: Omameh(2)|
|M31||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||9|
|Just the basic zone read. Worthy fights outside and upfield of Huyge(+0.5), which is not what you're supposed to do. Because of that there's a big cutback Smith(+1) hits; it also looks like Michigan might have creased the frontside but why risk it. Smith cuts back; Omameh(+1) gets a pop on the MLB and Smith gets to the safeties.|
|RUN+: Smith(0.5), Huyge(0.5), Omameh||RUN-:|
|M40||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||26|
|Double A gap blitz on which they time the snap based on Molk's head motion. Molk(-1) goes down, comes back up, and immediately snaps so he has no concept of the blitz and moves out on a DT, which lets a LB right through. Denard is looking at a containing DE so hands off. Smith(+1) breaks the tackle from the over-aggressive WLB; Lewan(+2) gets a great seal on Worthy, and Schofield(+1) kicks the MLB. Once Smith is past the line there isn't anyone on the second level and he grabs a big gain. Koger(+1) adjusted to kick a DB once he noticed there isn't anyone on the second level. RPS -1. Picture paged.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith(2), Schofield, Koger||RUN-: Molk(2)|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA TE seam||Koger||Inc (Pen +5)|
|Not so aggressive is the WLB this time; he drops into coverage as Koger tries to release. Robinson has the slot guy wide open and isn't pressured as he releases the ball but he still goes to the covered guy; I guess he might have to get this out fast because linemen are getting downfield on their blocks. Still, pass to covered guy instead of open guy. (BR, 0, protection N/A) LB interferes and is flagged. This is the Lewan-Gholston judo chop play, which is not flagged.|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB power||Robinson||0|
|Mealer in at RT as Huyge flips. They run at him. Weird. He loses his down block(-2) to a spin move and that guy gets in the hole; Schofield comes up to hit him but there's nowhere to go. Robinson tries to cut back, at which point Koger also gets his block spun through; wasn't going anywhere anyway. RUN-: Mealer(2), Koger|
|O29||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Flat||Hemingway||9|
|Same play as the first one; this time Michigan gets a man coverage look so when Hemingway breaks for the flat there is no one to hit him on the catch. He turns it up for some YAC. This was wobbly and upfield because the DE got a fingertip on it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O20||3||1||Maryland I||2||3||0||Base 4-3||Penalty||Delay||--||-5|
|This play never happened but they got most of the way through it before they whistled it dead, so you could see that it was a power counter to the iso look NW blew up that would have worked, possibly for a touchdown, thanks in large part to Koger annihilating Gholston on the edge; dude got pancaked. The linebackers were gone and Toussaint would have been one on one with a safety for six. Oh well. RPS +1? Sure.|
|O25||3||6||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Speed option||Smith||3|
|WLB overhanging on the weak side. Michigan goes option and gets the playside sealed except Omameh(-1) getting out late from his block, allowing the MLB to flow unimpeded. Robinson cuts upfield of the overhang guy, has to pitch when the MLB comes up, and Smith is not fast enough to get the edge.|
|RUN+: Molk, Huyge||RUN-: Omameh, Schofield(0.5)|
|O22||4||3||Field goal||-||-||-||Field goal||Run||Fake FG||Dileo||3|
|This is actually a pass. It's not wide open so Dileo quickly decides to hit it up, just picking up the first. I'm not going to grade this for obvious reasons.|
|O19||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Toussaint||4|
|Koger standing up a little outside the tackle. MSU brings the corner down; Roundtree points him out but I don't think Denard sees him. Michigan motions in Hemingway; the FB is offset to the strongside, this screams outside run, they run outside. Lewan(+1) seals Worthy. Koger(-0.5) does a mediocre job on the DE, eventually getting a crease but giving ground and heading outside, delaying the point at which Toussaint can hit it up. Hemingway(+1) takes out the playside LB; Hopkins gets a push on the edge guy; MLB scrapes from the interior to tackle. No one on him; Schofield(-0.5) was leading through and ran through to the safety instead of peeling.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Hemingway||RUN-: Koger(0.5), Schofield(0.5)|
|O15||2||6||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||15|
|Surprise, except no not surprise. Two man route, one of them Hopkins, both covered. Molk(-2) thinks he has help behind him, which he does not because of an MSU corner blitz, and lets a DT through to pressure Robinson. Molk manages to recover to shove the guy past after he reaches out to tackle, and then Robinson's scrambling around and doing his Robinson thing. (SCR, N/A, protection 0/2, Molk)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q. Goodbye offense.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Sprint counter||Smith||-2|
|Man... WTF. Lewan(-2) lets DE inside of him on the playside and Molk(-2) lets the WLB upfield of him without getting a hat on him. That's inexplicably bad play from our best two OL. Schofield is pulling around and shoves Rush, allowing Smith the cutback that isn't there because of Molk's screwup. Line opened up big time on this and Michigan just didn't block it. RUN-: Molk(2), Lewan(2)|
|M35||2||12||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout out||Gardner||Inc|
|Gardner, in, play fake, rollout, pulling Schofield gets a block and the pocket is decent but everyone deep is covered in man; Gardner throws to Odoms anyway and it's broken up. Insert usual rant about rolling away half the field here. The checkdown to Hopkins was there for at least a few and possibly a rumble up the sideline. Everyone's Rex Grossman. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M34||3||12||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Okie press||Pass||Post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Another half roll doesn't get anyone open quickly and finds pressure from the backside; Robinson has to step up and chucks a bomb to Roundtree. Roundtree has a step but the pass isn't anywhere near him. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 4 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M6||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Hemingway||29|
|With an interior blitz two of the three guys to this side of the field are open. This does not include Hemingway. LB jumps the route and is headed for a pick six; Denard throws it high and it's over his hand and caught. Hemingway picks up a big chunk of YAC. I cannot condone this throw even though the result is good—the other two guys are open. (BR, 2, protection 1/1)|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||0|
|Double A gap blitz again. Michigan never checks. This play cannot work with two LBs roaring up the field at the snap. Molk(-1) goes to double a DT because Michigan does not realize this is coming; Omameh can't get over to block the LB, and Smith gets eaten. (RPS -2) This is not getting out-toughed, it's out-stupiding MSU. RUN-: Molk|
|M35||2||10||Shotgun jet||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Reverse scramble||Gallon||8 + 15 pen|
|Intended to be a pass but never develops since Worthy got way upfield. That wasn't a good play by Worthy, he's just overrunning everything like whoah, but it means Gallon has to start making evasive maneuvers before he can even consider passing. Because it's a pass no one got downfield to block guys and MSU folk are charging from the inside. Gallon heads out to a couple of guys hanging out near the numbers, points at them to block, and picks up some yardage. We get stupid MSU personal foul #2 (first one was a horsecollar on special teams) afterwards.|
|O42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Flat||Koger||4|
|Not the jet package with a WR lined up behind Robinson; still jet motion as Robinson heads for the 2WR side. Michigan runs a play action rollout off this; two guys in Gardner's face with no support so he has to dump it off. Four yards. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|Michigan goes under center for a hard count and Worthy jumps it.|
|O33||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||-3|
|Pickleman slants under Molk(-2) and destroys the play. RUN-: Molk(2)|
|O36||3||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Gallon||Inc|
|DB runs Gallon's route for him and breaks it up. Excellent play. Not sure if Denard should get blamed here or not. (MA, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 12 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M32||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||PA FB Flat||Hopkins||Inc|
|Corner blitz catches Michigan running a play that has the QB facing backwards. This is a terrible omen. Everybody in the world is open here but it doesn't matter because it's all Denard can do to get the pass off without getting sacked. It is wide of Hopkins in the flat. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|M32||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Screen||Smith||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Toussaint runs a flare to one side that Robinson fakes to before coming back to Smith on the other side. I think Smith got caught up trying to get out of the backfield because the MSU DL is slanting hard. He has to wait on Worthy and by the time he gets out he finds himself too far inside. He is well inside the OL pulling out, which means the WLB can hit him without worrying about those guys. The throw is hard and inside; Smith drops it. (MA, 2, screen) Worthy gets a derp penalty.|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB power||Robinson||5|
|Denard takes a counter step that gets the MLB and SLB. Lewan(+1) and Schofield(+1) blow out Pickelman big time, but Omameh(-1) is too freaking slow to get to the vast hole; Denard is running past him as he nears the LOS. MLB unblocked but because of the counter step Denard can burst outside for a good gain thanks to Koger(+1) kicking out Rush well.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan, Koger, Schofield||RUN-: Omameh|
|O48||2||5||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
|Another double A gap blitz timed on Molk putting his head down. No check. Michigan's running power. Omameh pulls into the WLB and has no chance to get playside; Schofield(+1) does a good job to kick the MLB. Lewan(-1) loses Worthy to the outside; there is a cutback but WLB is bearing down and the safety attacking no longer has a blocker with an angle on him. RPS -1.|
|O45||3||2||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Speed option||Robinson||2|
|Late move with two guys on the backside of the line; State slants under and sends linebackers playside. Koger just manages to push Gholston past the play; Robinson has to circle around, giving some time. Omameh(-1) failed to read the situation and releases downfield into no players as Huyge has no chance of dealing with backside DT. Lewan(+1) gets a driving block on the WLB that gives Robinson just enough room for the first down.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Robinson||RUN-: Omameh|
|O43||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Fly||Hemingway||Inc|
|Robinson overthrows Hemingway by ten yards, in part because he got tangled up with the DB, who fell and knocked Hemingway off stride. Still way long even without that. Koger was open by yards shorter. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O43||2||10||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Fly||Hemingway||Inc|
|Gardner. He throws deep to a somewhat open Hemingway, missing; he did not see Hopkins blitheringly wide open for an easy touchdown. A better throw here and this is still good; wind problematic. (BR, 0, protection 2/2, RPS +2) This was the play to punish these linebackers and safeties and for the love of God, why isn't Gardner looking for Hopkins first?|
|O43||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Okie press||Pass||Random heave||--||Inc|
|Corner blitz is not recognized by Smith(-2), forcing Robinson to scramble out of the pocket. At this point he should just run, maybe set Michigan up with a makeable fourth down. Instead he makes a crazy heave that three MSU players have a better shot at than anyone on Michigan. One of them drops an easy INT. (BRX, 0, protection 0/2, Smith -2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||PA out||Grady||Inc|
|You know, if you're going to run three wide you have to make them respect the slot—here three wide is just one fewer blocker since MSU doesn't care. And as I type this Michigan does make them respect the slot, running the pop pass out they've run a few times already. Denard throws it wide. Probably 6-8 if accurate (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M46||2||10||Shotgun jet||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Jet sweep||Robinson||15|
|Linebackers blitz up the middle, but this time they tip it early—just a screwup as Molk didn't put his head down yet. As a result Michigan can actually block these guys. Omameh(+1) cuts Allen; Molk(+1) moves over to wall of Bullough. DT playside falls in all the wreckage; Smith(+2) annihilates Rush with a cut block, sending Denard into acres of space. Lewan is running downfield to try to get a block; safety fills and Robinson tries to cut back right into Lewan's path. Safety manages to get a diving arm tackle on Robinson. Left a bunch of yards on the field here.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Robinson, Smith(2)||RUN-:|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||1||2||4-3 over||Pass||Post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Corner blitz is picked up. Lewan shoves the guy out into the flare Toussaint is running, which dissuades Denard from throwing that, his first read. Found the open spot and it was not open. Robinson has a good pocket and starts stepping up into it in case there is pressure from behind; as DTs converge on him he throws a short post to Roundtree that's just outside and is dropped. I may have complained about this not being a run but I was wrong, Robinson was right to throw here. The throw was too far inside, though. (IN, 1, protection 3/3)|
|O39||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run?||QB iso/seam||Robinson||2|
|You know that short pass to run thing from Smart Football? This is it. M has a run play on and is optioning Bullough. He stays inside, so throw, but Denard has lost the plot. He panics a bit because Worthy is slanting but that's not relevant, just get the ball out. He doesn't, running outside, stopping, and coming back under to the gap that was already there; blocking angles killed he picks up two. Either hit it up in the big seam or throw it. Don't do this. (BR, N/A, protection N/A)|
|O37||3||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Okie off||Pass||Hitch||Gallon||Inc|
|Four man rush; Michigan picks it up, though Schofield gets bulled back a bit. Robinson pumps, then airmails a hitch into the sidelines. Not a first down if accurate but definitely in go-for-it territory. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 2 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||2|
|Worthy slants under Schofield(-2), which makes Smith think he's got an alley but Worthy comes around from behind to tackle, forcing him upfield into Bullough for a minimal gain. RUN-: Schofield(2)|
|M29||2||8||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Dig||Roundtree||Inc|
|Play action and max protect; two man route with Smith leaking out late. Robinson has forever and finds Roundtree breaking open for a big gain; airmailed. AAAAAAAARGH (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M29||3||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Okie press||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||5 + 15 pen|
|Huyge(-2) smoked by the blitzing Allen, Robinson has to roll out and scramble as a result. Omameh(-1) got bowled over backwards and Schofield(-1) let a stunt through; this was a comprehensive crapfest. (PR, 0, protection 0/4) Gholston does the helmet rip after.|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-9|
|Double blitz off the backside and a late developing play; Robinson has no chance. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -2)|
|M40||2||19||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||11|
|MSU stunting; Schofield(+1) comes off Worthy and shoves Gholston past the play. This does force Robinson away from lead blocking but with the SLB dropping into coverage there is no one to make him pay and he runs back to said blocking. Koger and Molk both got good, extended downfield blocks.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Schofield, Molk, Koger||RUN-:|
|O49||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch||1||0||4||Okie off||Pass||Improv||Roundtree||15|
|Nice pocket momentarily despite a blitz but Smith(-1) gets shoved back and doesn't cut Allen and a stunt starts coming through so Robinson has to roll. He does so and heaves one that Roundtree manages to get up and grab as he continued his route across the field. (MA, 2, protection ½, Smith -1)|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||2|
|Koger as an H-back. He pulls backside. Huyge(-1) fails to get around and seal the backside DT despite that guy moving backside as the play starts and Omameh helping. Smith(-1) still has a lane up the middle he might be able to hit; instead he bounces to the frontside of the play, where SLB is sitting unblocked because he's loitering around the LOS without having to care about the slot. Bubble grumble.|
|O36||2||8||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Hitch||Gallon||Inc|
|Double A gap blitz. Molk whiffs so both guys get up the middle of the field; Denard has to start backing up and chucks a duck well short of an open Gallon. (IN, 0, protection 0/3, Molk -1, team -2, RPS -2)|
|O36||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Okie off||Pass||In||Grady||10 (Pen -10)|
|Huyge(-2) destroyed by Allen, who times the snap (RPS -1) and gets in. Huyge holds. Robinson rolls out and manages to throw back across his body to Grady on an in route that would be a first down, though he only got the opportunity because of the hold. (CA+, 3, protection 0/3, Huyge -1, team -2)|
|O46||3||18||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Okie press||Pass||Post||Grady||Inc|
|Press man, which is odd, and Denard throws it to an open-ish Grady on a post that would pick up the first. CB gets playside and breaks the pass up—great play. I don't mind the decision or the throw here since it's third and 18. It could work, you have nothing to lose, go for it. (CA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 6 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Angle||Hopkins||Inc|
|Gardner in; Koger covered. Michigan runs a power fake to play action that MSU has covered because of their playcall; Gholston upfield of Lewan and into Gardner; same thing with SLB getting underneath Toussaint. Gardner has to chuck it to Hopkins, it's yards off. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Lewan -1, Toussaint -1, RPS -1)|
|O41||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Okie off||Run||Speed option||Robinson||2|
|MSU jumping around in a three man line. Michigan does get them to show the blitz and then they motion Toussaint behind Robinson before the snap—kind of a giveaway. Still, Huyge(-2) is playside of Bullough and just has to release downfield and seal him to make this play; he does not. Smith(+1) slashes Gholston to the ground; Robinson(-1) should pitch as the edge man is too close to him but fakes it and Huyge's guy manages to make the tackle as Robinson can't cut back far enough inside to burst upfield.|
|RUN+: Smith||RUN-: Robinson, Huyge(2)|
|O39||3||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Okie off||Pass||Sack||--||-7|
|Huyge(-3) destroyed by Allen on four man rush. Woo third and long; amazing how this got covered up last year. (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, Huyge -3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 4 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||PA out||Hemingway||Inc|
|Major shift late sends two guys in on the backside of the play. Robinson throws it to the out; deep slant wide open as well; blitzer leaps to bat it down. Would like Denard to read the coverage and go deeper but this was open-ish and he had three guys in his face quickly. (BA, 0, protection 0/1, team)|
|M20||2||10||Shotgun 2back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||3|
|RB power; key here is Norman, the backside LB, immediately shifting playside when he sees the pull.This prevents Lewan from getting a block on him. M opens up the hole as Schofield(+1) gets to the POA in time and blocks Allen; he does not force it back to Bullough and spills it outside so Toussaint is through despite not having a real lead block; Norman scrapes over and tackles. The initial movements of the MSU LBs are much better than those of the M LBs.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Omameh(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M23||3||7||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Okie off||Pass||Deep cross||Roundtree||8 + 15 pen|
|Four man rush; good protection. Robinson steps up and has his space restricted. He finds Roundtree running his cross past all of the zones to the sideline and hits him as he clears the last LB; his throw is a wobbly duck but it does get there. (CA, 3, protection 2/2) Gholston gets punchy afterwards.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Penalty||Offsides||--||5|
|The slight compensation. Three of four MSU DL jump offsides! THREE!|
|O49||1||5||Shotgun jet||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Jet stretch||Robinson||13|
|Double A-gap blitz that gets through again one play after a freaking offsides penalty. Come on, people. Come on. Michigan has a playcall on that works against it but barely. Playing with fire. After being burned with fire. Molk(+1) is stepping playside in the bucket fashion; he sees the blitz and peels off to shove Allen; this prevents him from deathsacking Denard in the backfield. Schofield(+1) gets a seal on the playside DT; Smith(+1) kicks out the DE. Lewan has no one to block so he trundles downfield. Robinson is cutting back behind his blocks when Bullough chops him down from behind.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Schofield, Molk, Smith||RUN-:|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB power||Gardner||3|
|Gardner QB; TE covered. Blocked well; Gardner screws it up. Watson(+1) doubles and then releases into MLB; sealing him. Toussaint(+0.5) kicks out WLB. Koger(-0.5) lets playside DE inside off him but Schofield(+1) is hitting it up quickly and can wall him off; SLB is going to flow down the line to tackle but this is 5-8. Gardner(-1) bounces. This exposes him to the safety and costs Michigan 3-4 yards.|
|RUN+: Watson, Schofield||RUN-: Gardner, Koger(0.5)|
|O33||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Hitch||Roundtree||9|
|Play action and a zing to the sideline for the first down. Genuinely impressive throw in context. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB iso||Robinson||0|
|Robinson back in. Omameh(-2) and Molk double Worthy; Omameh does not bucket step around the DT when Molk is blocking down. He's in the hole; Robinson stops and is swallowed. RUN-: Omameh(2)|
|Jesus. S walks down and is obviously blitzing along with WLB. Telegraphed, Michigan checks out of nothing and runs play action they cannot block because the edge guy has to cut the blitzing safety and leaves Gholston alone on the edge. Robinson has no time to deal. RPS -2. (PR, 0, protection N/A) This is Gholston's sack, BTW: unblocked. MSU will not miss him against UW. He's the fifth or sixth best player in their front seven.|
|O25||3||11||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Okie off||Pass||Yakety sax||Gardner||-6|
|Gardner fumbles a perfect snap.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 12 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||34|
|With no deep safety, if a WR breaks a tackle on this route it is six. Robinson zings a deadly accurate pass to Roundtree and 'Tree breaks that tackle; six. Much better route than Gallon's earlier failed slant. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-21, 9 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||Robinson||-8|
|Double A-gap blitz is a little better picked up because it's not timed quite as well. Molk takes Bullough; Smith takes... Bullough. Allen unblocked up the middle, sack. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Smith -2)|
|O40||2||18||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Drag||Hemingway||5|
|Four man rush is held off and Robinson has plenty of time to throw. He can't find anyone significantly downfield and ends up hitting Hemingway for a few. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O35||3||13||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Okie press||Pass||Drag||Koger||12|
|Omameh(-1) fails to read the play and lets Gholston by him. Smith comes over to pick him up. Everyone else is blocked, so Robinson can move past him in the pocket; he finds Koger open and tosses a duck that almost hits the ground. Koger still has time to turn it up and create fourth and short. (MA, 2, protection ½, Omameh -1)|
|O23||4||In||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||5|
|Yet another double A-gap blitz gets straight through, with Molk(-2) failing to read it and letting Allen in. Robinson(+3) appears to make a brilliant improvisation here; there is a contain guy but Robinson sees Allen tackling Smith at the mesh point and yanks the ball out, cutting inside of that tackle and finding space because Omameh(+1) got over to block Bullough; Bullough then falls over the legs of Huyge. Robinson has a crack he uses to get the first down. RPS -2.|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Yakety sax||Robinson||-1|
|O19||2||11||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Quick seam||Koger||Inc|
|Double A-gap. Not perfectly timed so Molk's head is up and he gets a block; Smith(-1) shoulders Bullough but only gets a piece; Robinson has to throw. He has a quick seam to Koger that he misses. May be a timing issue because Koger got chucked coming out, but results based charting. (IN, 0, protection ½, Smith -1)|
|O19||3||11||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Cross||Gallon||10|
|Decent time until Omameh(-1) is beaten on a bull rush; Robinson steps around the rusher and he falls. He sets up again and zings a tough throw into a covered Gallon. Gallon brings it in. Q: is this the right spot? Is it where he catches it or where he hits the ground? (DO, 2, protection 1/2, Omameh -1)|
|O9||4||In||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Pass||Sack||--||-9|
|DOOM. Hopkins lined up as the deep back and Toussaint the FB. Moore(-3) fails to even get out of his stance on the snap and lets the blitzing LB through untouched, doom. (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, Moore –3, RPS -3)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 14-21, 7 min 4th Q|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Smith||INT|
|Double A gap doom; picture paged already. (PR, 0, protection 0/3, team -3, RPS -2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, defensive TD, 14-28, 4 min 4th Q|
Is this blood running down my cheeks or have my tears turned to rust waiting for this?
You are a jerk. And apparently a robot. A robotic jerk. So it's rust, I guess.
Are you any calmer about the snap thing?
I am less calm. A full review of the game tape reveals ten(!) of Michigan State's double-A-gap LB blitzes. Plays on which one of the two guys was unblocked into the backfield are bolded:
- Smith dodges tackle in backfield, picks up 26.
- Zero yard inside zone from Smith
- Three yard power from Robinson*
- 15-yard jet sweep as M picks up blitzers
- Incomplete hitch to Gallon as both guys come unblocked up the middle.
- 13 yard jet stretch (ie: outside zone blocking)
- Eight yard sack.
- Five yards on fourth and one when Robinson saves Borges's bacon with a brilliant late pull
- Quick seam to Koger incomplete as M picks up 1.5 of the linebackers.
Michigan picked the blitz up two, maybe three times: on the two jet sweeps and on the second-to-last one. On the first jet sweep they picked it up because MSU screwed up by revealing their blitz before Molk put his head down. On the second one they let a guy through but managed to adjust after he was in the backfield, so I'm being generous(!).
By the time the pick six arrived Michigan had literally seen this blitz nine times and they still had no adjustment to their timing so that Molk would be able to see what was directly in front of him. This was well over half of MSU's penetration and Michigan had no clue what to do with it even deep into the fourth quarter. They did not check out of a single play because they didn't check at all. They didn't run a freeze or attempt to change the timing of the snap after the second quarter.
I mean… when Worthy bowled over Omameh to pick up their third and final offsides call, three of the four DL were across the line.
That is a snap-jumping machine. This was the last time Michigan altered their snap count.
They should have been doing so several times a drive. Not doing so led to all the problems above and made the OL's job very tough in pass protection. This would end up a holding call on Huyge after Denicos Allen shot past him:
No checks, no answers, no ability to address an obvious issue. That was a total failure by the coaching staff.
Now for the tedious disclaimers: I like Borges, I like the coaches, I think MSU fans declaring epic gameday domination for all time based on a single matchup are getting way ahead of themselves. But there is no gray area here.
*[Counting this because Allen shot into the backfield and picked off a pulling guard, FWIW.]
This is fun. Now show me the chart in which Denard Robinson makes angels tear off their wings.
Chart in which Denard Robinson makes angels tear off their wings.
[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
|Notre Dame '11||6||7(1)||1||6(1)||5||1||1||1||-||50%|
Yeah, so that was like putting freshman Denard out there. Note the huge PR number. If he had happy feet he had good reason to have them. The protection metric is incredible in this game.
But first, receivers:
[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]
It was Oprah out there: YOU get an uncatchable ball, YOU get an uncatchable ball, YOU get an uncatchable ball.
And now the ugliest run chart I've put together (in the year and a half I've been doing them):
|Lewan||6||5||1||Lucky to have both arms in his shoulder sockets.|
|Molk||4||8||-4||WHAT ARE ALL THESE LINEBACKERS DOING LOL|
|Omameh||3.5||7||-3.5||Watching him pull is like watching an iceberg wander around the titanic.|
|Huyge||2||3||-1||Pass blocking not so good.|
|Schofield||7||3||4||Easy winner for best performer.|
|Mealer||-||2||-2||One snap did not go well.|
|TOTAL||27||30||-3||But wait, there's more.|
|Robinson||11||1||10||Yay running him 12 times.|
|Gardner||1||1||0||One good bounce, one bad bounce.|
|Smith||7||1||6||Most of this was on a couple plus runs.|
|TOTAL||19.5||3||16.5||Denard still has legs.|
|TOTAL||2||-||2||Hardly anything got to them.|
|Protection||30||32||48%||Team 9, Huyge 7, Smith 6, Omameh 4, Molk 3, Schofield 1, Lewan 1, Toussaint 1|
Last week against NW there were 39 protection points. Here 62, which the team acquired less than half of.
Good hopping Lord in a pickle can.
I mean, sweet clod-kicking Jesus knickers.
That is just… something.
It was a—
Holy baboon-faced god of ancient river peoples spinning around on a pogo stick screaming "hey dilly dilly hey-o."
We get it.
I mean, where do you go from the above? Michigan was comprehensively annihilated. Denard was awful, Borges was awful, the line was awful, everything was awful. So… yeah, the players shoulder a lot of the blame. Borges got guys open with frequency only to see them ignored.
What happened to Omameh?
Michigan pulled him in this game, seemingly to prove once and for all that for whatever reason he can't pull. He's a light, quick lineman who gets to the hole slightly slower than Tom Harmon, who is dead:
Combining him with the lightning-quick Robinson is not so good. This is frustrating because last year he was a killer scooping dudes with Molk and heading to the second level. This year he looks like a guy who'd be benched if there was a plausible backup. Chalk it up to transition costs.
Should there have even been a fourth and one?
I'm not sure. Are they supposed to spot it where you catch the ball or where you touch the ground? If it's on the catch they screwed up the spot. If it's where the ball is when you get a foot down they are relatively close.
I'm guessing it's the latter, because that's where they put the ball.
PRANCING DRYAD IN A CAN OF MUSTARD GOING LALALALALALALA
Michael Schofield. I guess the receivers didn't drop anything.
Literally everyone else.
What does it mean for Purdue and beyond?
It means we have to change our snap counts, figure out some new ways to run the ball, and hope like hell this is by far the worst game of Denard's career.
[Ed: commenter wile_e8 makes a great suggestion: check out the earlier ND Check Yo' Self Picture Page for everything Michigan wasn't doing against MSU.]
One of the main issues with Michigan's offense was an inability to adjust to Michigan State's constant double-A-gap blitzing. BWS has an example where it ate up a Smith run; this post has two more focused on the precise timing MSU used to shoot into the backfield untouched on multiple plays.
Two plays in this one. The first is actually a 25-yard run on Michigan's first drive on which Vincent Smith breaks a tackle when the WLB gets too far upfield. It would be a disturbing omen.
It's second and one; Michigan is in a three-wide shotgun set and MSU in the 4-3 they'd run all day. Don't bother screaming that the bubble is open.
All right, so Molk starts to put his head down; when it comes back up he snaps immediately.
Molk's head starts down…
And by the time it's completely down Allen is nearing the LOS.
Bullough is next; the blitz seems like it is designed to have Allen pick off Molk while Bullough gets a free run:
But Molk snaps the thing so quickly that he doesn't even get his head up before the play. Instead of blocking Allen he goes to double the playside DT. He does not see the blitz at all:
Allen is through untouched.
Schofield actually does a nice job to adjust and kick out Bullough, giving Smith a crease when he breaks the tackle.
So that's a problem. Michigan endures another half-dozen of these throughout the game, gets the ball back down seven with under five minutes left, and comes out empty.
Molk head down, Molk head up…
…instant snap with two LBs running straight up the middle of the field. This time Molk does block Allen; Schofield does not slide over to get Bullough, which would put someone else through but someone else not running up the middle at the snap.
Denard throws a slant; Smith runs a hitch. Ballgame.
Video of that:
The timing of the snap is the same, the result different.
So what's going on here?
While some of the timing issues may have been playclock related, neither of these are. Michigan snaps the ball with around ten seconds left on the first play and while there is no playclock listed on the second it was the first play of a drive and I don't remember being upset about getting the play in. This is just… like… voluntary.
Once or twice Michigan did go to longer counts and got the opponent to jump, but one of those was a hard count from under center. The fact that they could get the jumps meant MSU was timing the snap; the fact they could continue into the fourth quarter meant Michigan was using the long counts too infrequently. Michigan
- consistently tipped their snap count
- never motioned for the snap to reveal what the defense planned
- didn't even bother to pause after Molk got his head up so he could evaluate the guys coming hell-bent up the middle of the field
- did not check out of plays
- did not execute what looks like a hot read here
This is not a toughness issue. Air cannot block people even if you're the Clint Eastwood State Fightin' John Waynes. It's an inability for Michigan to deal with a simple, grandiosely unsound defense that leaves simple throws in the middle of the field wide open*.
All of this is coaching at some level, but we can separate out getting execution out of your players from strategy. On the interception Michigan had an answer that they did not execute, which can reasonably be chalked up to transition/mindflub/one of those things. Michigan QBs passing up wide open guys on that second quarter drive is execution, not strategy. Those are costs of installing a new system, especially one with a lot of post-snap reads for the WRs, something I don't think Rodriguez ever did. On some level that's understandable.
However, they failed to adjust their strategy to help the offensive line out. MSU is running full speed at the line on the snap; varying the count would make those well-timed blitzes poorly timed, allowing Michigan to slide the protection and letting Denard know what he's in for pre-snap… or forcing MSU out of the play. Michigan State timing these snaps so precisely puts immediate pressure on Robinson, robbing him of a half-second he needs to maybe see Koger on the other side of the field or the actual route Smith is running. It gives Smith more time to read the play and understand his hot route. Even if you want the double LB blitz on the INT because you think you have it beat, waiting that beat lets everyone on the offense know it's there without letting MSU check. At the very least make your standard count long enough for Molk to look at the situation in front of him before he doubles on a guy who's going outside because of a blitz.
I find this incredibly frustrating. This was an inexplicable Rodriguez-era problem canning him was supposed to solve. Instead it got worse. Hoke tried to explain away the snap issues…
Did you notice that they were jumping your snap count? “I think everyone has an idea of snap counts from guns, because there’s a mechanic that every team has. We have a silent count, and we have a double silent count. I don’t think that’s all the way correct.”
…but clearly there is something there that is bloody obvious to the opposition that has destroyed Michigan's offense against MSU on their last two trips to East Lansing. (Michigan moved the ball fairly well in last year's matchup only to be undone by turnovers.) The next time Michigan visits they'll presumably be in more of a MANBALL offense with Gardner better equipped to go under center and a line that probably reads Lewan-Bryant-Miller-Kalis-Magnuson, so we may have seen the last of this.
*[I was just reading that Smart Football post he linked about matching short passes with runs, which would have been perfect here. A-gap blitz? Immediate toss to slot/TE. Still need to block up the middle to get the QB some time.]
This was filmed last year. I know this seems very 2008 Ohio, but they're behind the times. It was 2010.
This is also by Pop Evil. They turned into a bunch of hair metal posers just last year. Before that they were were "Muskegon's Menudo," and before that they were dog groomers. They're still dog groomers but now they have a band so they can test out exciting new techniques on each other.
Doubling down on… us? Bill Connolly is a smart person who does good things with stats, so he (and his models) know Michigan had a hugely positive yards per play margin last year and that turnovers don't correlate that well year to year and Michigan finally has a returning quarterback so they could bounce significantly forward this year.
This is a little much, though:
Five Predictions for the Big Ten in 2011:
1. Michigan wins the damn Legends Division. That's right.
5. Oh why the hell not ... Michigan beats Wisconsin in the conference title game. Might as well go all-in, right?
That is all in like whoah. If any part of this transpires Brady Hoke is king and Bill Connolly will be assaulted for lottery numbers.
The main problem with this is his model takes recruiting into account and Michigan's recruiting has been a paper tiger for a while now.
I'll take it! An NFL scout type guy on SI.com drops David Molk on his list of NFL prospects… but only to call him overrated. Still, I'll take this description:
Overrated: David Molk, Michigan -- Molk is considered the top center in the country by a number of scouts, yet in our opinion there are better senior centers in his conference.
I'll take "a number of scouts" believing he's the top center in the country over one dude disagreeing.
This is a fake thing. Iowa graduated leather magnet Tyler Sash last year. They are Iowa so they'll replace him with a walk-on. This is the filthy lie about this walk-on's name that BHGP expects us to believe:
Collin Sleeper (#16, Junior (RS), 6'2", 200, Solon (IA) HS)
We know absolutely nothing about Collin Sleeper.
It's not that we know absolutely nothing. It's that we know exactly what we're supposed to know. He's a junior walk-on from Solon who has never played a down of college football and is now the starting strong safety. He was completely unrecruited and unscouted by the services. According to him, he's fast. He played halfback for the James Morris-led Iowa high school juggernaut 10 miles up the road from Iowa City. He reportedly played Denard Robinson on the scout team last year. His name is Sleeper, for chrissake.
THAT IS A LIE, SIR. Your walk-on safety is named "Sleeper" and my new running back recruit runs a 4.3 40. Eighteen fakes out of five, you Hawkeye bastards. Eighteen fakes.
This is a dumb thing. WMU beatwriter Greg Couch on the state of Michigan's quarterbacks:
I think Alex Carder is the best college quarterback in the state. Denard Robinson is a great athlete, but I'd bet you if Carder were in that program, they'd find a different role (flanker, perhaps) for Robinson. MSU's Kirk Cousins isn't even close.
That is literally the dumbest thing I have seen written about football in the state of Michigan not related to Rich Rodriguez. In games against ND and MSU last year Carder averaged 5.4 YPA—Threet/Sheridan numbers—and threw two TDs to three interceptions. He had 104 yards on 33 attempts against Idaho in a 33-13 loss. Playing a MAC schedule he finished 35th in passer efficiency. Cousins was 18th and Robinson 20th playing in the Big Ten.
This is not a surrounding talent issue. According to Couch WR Jordan White "would be an All Big Ten wideout." He proved this by averaging a whopping 10.5 yards per catch against MSU and Notre Dame. But sure, a MAC team with a better quarterback than Kirk Cousins and Denard Robinson and an All Big Ten wideout went 6-6 last year in the MAC.
This guy also thinks Denard Robinson is "Juice Williams with wheels," which is like saying "Carlos Brown but fast." Guh. Insert Billy Madison quote here.
I hope Chris Brown didn't get fired… or do I? He's gone from near-hibernation to putting out ridiculously good content consistently. There was the speed option post I linked in a previous UV, then a description of the inverted veer option Michigan tried a couple times last year and Auburn rode to national title. I don't think we're going to see it again, which is sad-making. I was so excited about it last year even though they never quite got it right.
End. The USHL's president is awesome. Some Canadian hockey radio guys were pondering a USHL-CHL matchup as a way to get a true North American junior championship, which prompted USHL prez Skip Prince to write them an open letter that said "Ready to do it" and bombed the CHL's model. This is a dagger. I'm going to quote a big chunk of it:
It’s odd to hear second-tier status ascribed to the USHL, the notion of “Well, if you’re going to go to college, then the USHL is the best place to go.” There’s an implicit demotion there – an implied statement “…because I guess you’ve decided you’re not good enough to go pro.” Really? So that’s an either-or decision?
No. It’s not. Our website equally celebrates the 165 NHL alumni we sport and the 283 college commitments we have in hand. They go together. It’s our pyramid at work. The fact is, 35% of the young men wearing an NCAA Division I sweater this past year – more than one out of every three rostered players in college hockey – is a USHL alum. That’s extraordinary. That 3% of those kids make it to the NHL is also extraordinary. The fact that’s right on par with the CHL is not extraordinary – not to us – but somehow that gets lost in translation.
So we are damn proud of that special 3% - and the other 97%. Every – every – player departing the USHL this year, who was eligible for NCAA play, had a Division I commitment in hand. Last year we were one short of perfect, a great young man who chose Division III instead. Match that.
Sure, there are those who depart from the USHL-to-college-to-NHL route, and take the CHL direction instead. We’re well aware of the four well-publicized de-commitments this past month. Point given. The CHL gets four great players. Hey - we celebrate them, and hope they all do well. That’s American freedom of choice.
We just think it’s a risk they didn’t need to take. Each and every one of those players had just as great a chance of making the NHL playing college hockey, lifting and getting better, over a time period they control, as they do with the two-year bet they’ve now made. But we know each of those young men, and our competitiveness does not stop us from wanting that bet to play out for all of them.
About 95% of the CHL would be better served in college. There's not enough room for all of them, unfortunately, but unless you're getting a massive under the table payment or can't hack classes you should probably go to college.
Flyover spoilers. Stop reading now if you like your planes all surprising. Notre Dame is going to be overkill city:
10 Sep vs. Notre Dame: The Yankee Air Force's C-47 Skytrain "Yankee Doodle Dandy" will conduct a pregame flyover and a two-soldier parachute team from the 101st Airborne Division (The Screaming Eagles) will drop into the stadium during the halftime program (one each in the two end zones). Prior to the game, the Michigan and Notre Dame NROTC Units will contest their annual flag football game on Friday, 9 Sep at 7 pm at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. Stop by and cheer on your fellow students.
Nebraska and OSU will also have flyovers; Purdue(?!) is tentatively scheduled for one as well. Not sure why they'd do one for Purdue unless they're bombing the World's Somewhat Large Drum.
Etc.: Jason Whitlock writes a panting piece on Hoke day after he writes one of his odious race-baiting idiot columns, this one directed at the incredibly irresponsible Charles Robinson. Yes, that Charles Robinson. As a result I can't really take the former seriously. The lesson is always that Jason Whitlock is an asshat.
4/9/2011 – Michigan 2, Minnesota-Duluth 3 (OT) – 29-11-4, season over
There's a track on the Robert Earl Keen live album I've listened to incessantly since I was maybe a junior in college in which it's just him introing a song with a story. It's about how he went to the second Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic. Keen lies that he was "about 27 years old" at the time and had a date—his first date ever. He had so much fun in "the Willy Way" that he had to go take a nap.
He woke up from his nap to hear a man on the PA announcing that there had been a fire in the parking lot and that 40 cars had burned up. The first winner: RHP 997. Now, you might wonder why Keen and I remember that so well. In Keen's case it's because it was his car. In my case it's because I've listened to this story hundreds of times.
Keen's obviously devastated by this news, but his date laughs. Keen reminds her "we don't have a ride"; she responds "I do." Keen is introduced to Tarzan and Adonis, who promise to "take care of her, man." She departs. Keen is left with not enough of a car to carbon-14 date and no date when just a few hours ago he having the best time of his life.
He sits down.
He sits down on the grass. On the burnt grass, the black, burnt dirt and grass, and he weeps. "Big, old, giant tears."
I don't know, man.
I've got a post in the hopper titled "the bottom" that details the stunning descent in Michigan athletics that started when Bo died the day before Football Armageddon and to my eyes stopped on January 17th when Greg Mattison was hired away from an NFL team to coordinate Michigan's defense. Since then the basketball team exceeded anything approximating reasonable expectations, Jim Tressel and Ohio State seem to have started a long, ugly process of implosion, and the hockey team deflected its way to a 50-50 shot at glory. We are finally on the way up.
That doesn't mean they are. Hagelin and Scooter and Hunwick just saw something slip through their fingers they'll never get back. I guess Hunwick has a shot next year but a quick look at the roster shows a team that should be happy to extend the tourney streak—in all likelihood this was it for Tiny Jesus. I'm trying to decide whether this is actually worse than last year. At least last year promised this year; right now it's hard to see Michigan back here for years, like when Boo Nieves is a sophomore and whichever 2013 forwards stick might be awesome. Next year's impact help is playing in the OHL.
So I'm not sure when that shot will come again. Maybe it will be next year—hockey is bizarre that way—but despite a season as frustrating as a conference championship can be by the end I was deeply, deeply invested in Hagelin and the kids who gave him a flag and our 5'7" third-string walk-on goalie with a story the Air Bud producers would send back as too hackneyed. The hours after the North Dakota game were one long shuddering as my body gradually remembered things other than pure terror, and to lose—to frankly deserve to lose—after that was like all the horror described last year but with more finality. That happened and won't happen again and it wasn't enough.
Keen goes on to room with Lyle Lovett and carve out a career as a minor country star who doesn't have to give a crap what Nashville thinks, but being a musician doesn't come with eligibility restrictions. I spent Saturday thinking of all the guys who came and went during Michigan's long championship interregnum: Cammalleri and Comrie and Shouneyia and Hensick and all the other brilliant 5'8" guys college hockey makes into gods. Jed Ortmeyer, who has more work ethic in a finger than I do in my entire body and once killed two St. Cloud players in the first five minutes of a tourney game at Yost. Jack Johnson. Milan Gajic and his magic ability to not score spectacular goals. Jason Ryznar and Craig Murray always seeming way better than they were. Al Montoya sitting in the penalty box. Brandon Kaleniecki living inside the goalie's jersey. Jay Vancik convincing me he was an NHL player. Bob Gassoff, who I once screamed "why even give him a stick?" in the general direction of.
I wrote about the fans and thought I'd write about them after—I guess I am, but not in the way I wanted to. Today we add Caporusso and Vaughn and Hagelin and Langlais and Winnett and Rust and Hogan to the list of people to valorize at some point in the indeterminate future.
As Keen was dripping onto the grass some guy from the festival came up and said "the least we can do is let you meet Willy," but Willy had to go jam with Leon Russell. Many years later he recorded one of Keen's songs as part of the Highwaymen—this is all in the story.
At some point Michigan is actually going to win another goddamned national championship and some of this will be redeemed. Not all of it, though. Shawn Hunwick is never going to do that again, and nothing's ever going to match the Swedish flag and my complete failure to get people to replace all words in the goal cheer with "bork" when Hagelin scores. Things come and go; this one has gone and I'm stunned at how much I miss it already.
Seriously, No Bullets
Why this is so early in the morning. You see, Rudy, the fiancée's dissertation is due today and it's like 350 pages and I edited all of it and at one point there was a sentence with three different serial commas in it and my head exploded and I haven't actually gone to bed yet. So 1) early post because I decided it was now or never and 2) I am going to bed and will see you tomorrow and will bump Tom's weekly when I wake up this afternoon. kthxbye.
Okay, one. Congratulations to Duluth, who got a deserved win. I don't know what it was, but they spent the entire game turning Michigan's defensemen. Were they just blown out from the North Dakota game? I find that hard to believe when they had two days off and Duluth also played, but I hadn't seen anyone get around Michigan's D with that consistency all year. Since that includes UND and some other very good teams I wonder if the semi just took too much out of them.
It's impossible to be mad at a team with no previous titles and so many guys with awesome beards that don't match their blonde hair; congrats.
I know you're all busy sticking needles into your Coach K voodoo dolls—for safety's sake make sure your doll is not actually Coach K before inserting—but about an hour ago Michigan's hockey fate was determined. Drumroll, please:
1. Boston College
4. Colorado College
Michigan plays at 5:30 on Friday on ESPN3, with ESPNU replaying the game at 11:30.
Yeah, so to get to a hypothetical final Michigan probably has to beat Boston College and North Dakota, but that's why you show up on Friday against Western Michigan instead of whatever that was. Michigan split with UNO at Yost earlier this year, losing 4-2 on Friday and winning 6-1 the next night. Shots were 35-25 Michigan on Friday and about even Saturday.
Let me take this opportunity to urge anyone considering going: don't. You'll notice that the CCHA is the only conference not to have a region, you know, within hundreds of miles of it. A couple years ago there were regionals in Wisconsin and Colorado. The CCHA is the only conference to get so regularly screwed. I don't think the committee actually cares—if they did we'd have home regionals for top seeds—but on the off chance a St. Louis regional featuring 50 people in an NHL building is the hockey equivalent of Houston Nutt signing 37 kids you should save your money.
You may resume poking K right in the eye.