courts be like "why is it a problem if people get money"
Substitution notes: Obviously Tate came in for Denard. I think the injury Denard went off with was not one that would have prevented him from returning, but more on that later. On the line, Khoury came in for Molk when Molk left injured on the first drive; Huyge played about a third of the game after the Lewan penalty exhibition. Lewan returned late in the third.
Shaw continues to be limited, so Smith was the primary back. Hopkins continues to get more carries as the season progresses. At receiver, Stokes got more time in Odoms's absence (but not nearly as much as Odoms would have) and Gallon appears to be eating into Grady's playing time.
Formation notes: Iowa spent most of the day with one of their linebackers lined up over the slot. Since I am an idiot I did not take a snapshot of this, but that's "slot 4-3": two deep safeties with a linebacker outside the box on the slot guy. "Base 4-3" in this case was a 4-3 in the box with one of the safeties moving up on the slot guy and Iowa showing one-high. "Split 4-3" was a pass defense with the linebackers spread out; it was mostly featured late when Michigan was in pass-only mode.
Michigan didn't do anything new other than show a lot of I-form featuring one of the tight ends as a lead blocker.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||11|
|Simple as Molk(+2) and Schilling(+1) momentarily double Klug and then Molk gets a tough seal as Schilling pops out on SLB Hunter. Lewan(+1) kicks out Clayborn and Smith has a crease with no one filling until the safeties show up. Actually think a pull would have been correct here too as the backside end was getting blocked and there was no scrape but this worked. I'm not sure this is a read so no ZR.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Schilling, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) club Ballard out of the hole, cutting off SLB pursuit; Koger meets the MLB near the LOS and gets knocked back a little, allowing Dorrestein's guy to come off and tackle. Dorrestein -0.5 for a less than authoritative kick. Molk is injured and leaves.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Dorrestein(0.5)|
|M40||2||6||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Hopkins||4|
|The FB in this package was almost always a TE, FWIW. MLB is screaming downhill at this and runs into Koger at the LOS, standing everything up. Omameh and Khoury did an eh job on Ballard this time; Hopkins(+1) runs into beef at the LOS and lurches the pile forward four yards.|
|M44||3||2||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Waggle deep comeback||Hemingway||18|
|Inside zone fake with a rollout from Robinson. He's got Koger for the simple first down but also has Hemingway deeper so he goes for that, hitting it with perfect timing for a big chunk. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O38||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Hopkins||7|
|Schilling(+1) and Khoury(+1) again abuse Klug, bashing him out of the hole. MLB comes up to pop Koger at the LOS again but this time there's a crease because Lewan(+1) has kicked out Clayborn. The difference on this play and the QB lead draw and other iso is Lewan giving Michigan more room behind the DE. Hopkins is tripped going through the small hole and manages to fall through a tackle for a nice chunk.|
|O31||2||3||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||?||Hopkins||2|
|Watching a replay of the previous play; impossible to make out what happens.|
|O29||3||1||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Hopkins||0|
|Once too many times: Schilling(-1) loses a prepared Daniels, who fights playside and crams the hole, forcing a Hopkins cutback that could get the first down if he was left one-on-one with a linebacker. He's not; Omameh(-1) also couldn't kick out Ballard. The two guys submarine the run for nothing.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Omameh|
|O29||4||1||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||8|
|High snap takes an extra beat to bring in, screwing up the play somewhat. So I'm not sure if Omameh and Dorrestein have gotten pwned or if it just looks like it because Robinson is a step behind where he should be. It certainly looks like this is designed to go up the middle with Khoury(+1) and Schilling(+1) killing Daniels; Khoury then pops out on the MLB to erase him. Denard(+2) then cuts past the two linemen flowing outside and has room for the first because of that Khoury block. An arm tackle a yard downfield changes his momentum and sends him past another linebacker, but he's been slowed significantly and the secondary gets there after decent yardage. I do think the right side of the line should have done better here.|
|RUN+: Khoury, Schilling, Robinson(2)||RUN-: Omameh, Dorrestein|
|O21||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Waggle FB flat||Koger||5|
|Iowa adjusts and runs a zone that has a safety coming over the top so the deeper route isn't there; Robinson checks down to Koger for a few. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O16||2||5||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||7|
|Inside zone looks just like an iso so the backside DT fights to what he think will be yet another run right in his face. The handoff is made on the other side of Robinson and all he's done is lock himself out. Schilling(+1) helps. Khoury(+1) and Omameh(+1) destroy Ballard and Lewan(+1) releases downfield to club the MLB, providing a lane for Smith to hit. He fails to see it and tries to cut outside, where there's is no blocking. Fortunately for M this is blocked by Dorrestein's ass. Smith comes to a stop, but the blocking is so good he can start up again in the same lane. Clayborn, given time by the missed cut, tracks down to tackle from behind.|
|RUN+: Khoury, Omameh, Schilling, Lewan, Dorrestein||RUN-: Smith|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||1|
|Safety moves down on the slot and all three LBs are in the box as Iowa shows one-high. I'm not sure what Michigan is doing with their backside reads here but since they're blocking the backside end (Clayborn) the guy to read is the SLB. He's not going anywhere and he's about to get a blocker in his face so there's a lane Robinson can take if he pulls; he gives (ZR -1). Because the interior OL has lost this round (-0.5 for Schillling, Molk, Omameh) Smith has nowhere to go and ends up cutting back into the hole Robinson could have hit if he'd kept it. He's there much later, though, and it closes off.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Khoury(0.5), Schilling(0.5), Robinson|
|O8||2||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Yakety sax||?||Inc|
|Snap fumbled. This isn't on Khoury; it's a perfect snap. Robinson recovers it and manages to avoid a tackle before chucking the ball. No idea where it's going or if he's trying to complete it because it's knocked down. (BA, N/A, N/A)|
|O8||3||G||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Slant||Smith||8|
|Smith smokes a LB over and gets inside of him where there is no help; Robinson hits him for the easy TD. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||7 -13 pen|
|Webb's guy on the end fends him off and forces Robinson to head back inside, where he just has enough room to slice upfield because Schilling(-1) got a couple shoves on Daniels and fell in his path, knocking him off stride but not cutting him or seriously delaying. Khoury(+1) and Omameh(+1) have obliterated Ballard and Dorrestein(+1) has walled off a linebacker, opening up a lane. Robinson runs by Clayborn; Daniels grabs him from behind and manages to ride him to the ground. This was opening up big but for the Schilling mess. Lewan then gets a dumb personal foul afterwards. That's not going on the run chart but guuuuuh.|
|RUN+: Khoury, Omameh, Dorrestein||RUN-: Schilling|
|M14||2||16||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||4|
|Fakes a flare screen. Indecision from Schilling and Khoury at first; Schilling then pops the NT, who falls, but falls well in the backfield right in Robinson's desired path. He has to improvise. Dorrestein(+1) does a great job of getting his guy back and giving Robinson the corner, but Hemingway(-1) whiffed on the outside and the charging corner forces the play back inside to help.|
|RUN+: Dorrestein||RUN-: Hemingway|
|M18||3||12||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||TE flat||Webb||3|
|No one open so Robinson checks down to a hopeless route and Michigan punts. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||7|
|Just six in the box for Iowa still so this is a play with a lot of room to operate; Robinson decides to cut outside since there's no linebacker over there and he can get outside Dorrestein's(+1) good block; Omameh(-1) lost Ballard on a single block, cutting off that hole. Webb has lost the playside LB because he was blocking like Robinson would head inside the tackle; Hopkins runs by the guy in an effort to get to the safety and the LB disconnects to tackle, but not before a good gain. (RPS+1)|
|RUN+: Robinson, Dorrestein||RUN-: Omameh|
|M34||2||3||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||9|
|Okay, this is pretty much the same play but operates differently since both lead blockers are heading inside the tackles. Michigan thinks is is different; I'm just a blogger talking to laypeople. Schilling(-1) gets chucked away by Daniels—impressive strength display there--but Hopkins(+1) sees this, changes his planned blocking path, and clubs Daniels out of the play at the LOS. Webb(+1) hits the MLB and Lewan(+1) again kicks Clayborn out, giving Robinson a lane he takes.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Webb, Lewan||RUN-: Schilling|
|M45||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||2|
|Gurghelgasghas. Iso with Smith? Probably wouldn't have mattered if it was Jim Brown here because Khoury(-1) slips as he comes out of his stance and can't get the MLB; Omameh(-1) was beaten by Ballard. Both guys tackle downfield. Webb(+1) did help by getting a good block on the SLB, so this isn't zero.|
|RUN+: Webb||RUN-: Omameh, Khoury|
|M47||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Hemingway||3|
|Rollout catches Iowa by surprise and Smith gets outside of Clayborn, opening up the corner. Hemingway is open, though, so Robinson throws. Ball is short and well upfield, turning an easy first down into something less than that. Hemingway makes a good catch to dig it out. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|50||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|M45||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Fly||Stonum||Int|
|So this is pretty much terrible. Illinois stunts. Schilling sees it and picks it up; Khoury(-1) has been bowled over by the DT. Robinson could stand there and fire. Instead he shows his inexperience and rolls back, then sets up to bomb it deep. Underneath he probably had Smith with a 50-50 shot at the first. Instead he chucks it deep. 1) this is covered. 2) it is so far away from Stonum that the WR can't even tackle on the INT and turn this into a glorified punt. Given the three guys around Stonum I'm giving this the bad one (BR, 0, protection 1/2, Khoury -1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||7|
|With Binns shuffling down the line to take away the cutback this is open and the keep is correct (ZR +1). Binns does recover enough to help out from behind when Sash fills.|
|M27||2||3||Shotgun empty H-back||1||1||3||Split 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||7|
|Koger(+1) blasts the MLB and Lewan(+2) caves in Clayborn to give Robinson an easy decision to slash it outside. Khoury and Schilling had also destroyed the playside DT, FWIW.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Webb||RUN-:|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Pass||PA bubble screen||Gallon||18|
|Iowa changes up their D and for the first time all day they do not have a linebacker over the slot to kill the bubble; Michigan goes with the bubble (CA, 3, screen). Stonum(+1) gets a good block on the corner and Gallon(+1) makes the most of it, smoothly cutting past the Stonum block and almost taking advantage of a falling safety before the slot LB manages to shut it down. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Gallon, Stonum||RUN-:|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|You can tell Iowa's cheating a bit with the slot LB, and he blitzes. Michigan still has a decent crease for Robinson up the middle but Robinson decides to cut back, screwing up all the blocking angles. He gets past one DT, has to cut up behind Koger on the backside DE, and then Hunter has a clear shot since Robinson's cutback screwed up the angles. Not going to offer plus/minus here.|
|O42||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||3|
|Again cheating the slot LB and blitzing him; this is not good awareness. Khoury(-1) is beaten by the frontside DT and Robinson has to cut back. Dorrestein had no chance to cut a slanting backside DT, and that guy tackles after a short gain. RPS –1.|
|RUN+: Robinson||RUN-: Khoury|
|O39||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||TE cross||Koger||13|
|Koger actually falls down out of his stance but gets back up and finishes the route. It's tough to tell if he's coming to Koger second or staring him down all the way. Either way he goes to him in a pocket in the zone, getting the ball over a linebacker covering Stonum and getting it into him just before the safety can close him down. For the record, Clayborn did get by Lewan eventually, though not enough to warrant a minus since Robinson had been sitting in the pocket a while and Clayborn still had to pull up lest he pick up a late hit. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||5|
|Schilling(+1) cuts the backside DT down, but Lewan misses his difficult cut and there's no cutback. Playside guys do a great job of stringing it out as Dorrestein and Omameh fight the Iowa OL to a draw. Shoving knocks both Omameh and the playside Iowa DT off the ball a bit, leaving Robinson a small hole to hit, which he does.|
|RUN+: Schilling, Omameh(+0.5)||RUN-:|
|O21||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||4|
|Michigan notices the cheating LB and throws the bubble at it. For some reason they're not running the adjustment where the outside WR blocks down on the safety, so Sash has a shot at Gallon for a major loss; Gallon(+1) jukes him out of his shorts and is off... to the.... tripping four yards downfield. Argh. Seriously, nothing tripped him but his own feet here. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O17||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|Khoury(+1) does an admirable job of fighting off an attempted stunt by the playside DT. This gives Michigan a gap that a charging LB is filling; Smith(+1) pops him and gives Robinson a chance outside, where Lewan(+1) has blasted Clayborn's backup off the line two yards; Robinson burrows in for the first.|
|RUN+: Khoury, Smith, Lewan||RUN-:|
|O14||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|This is straight up WTF. I don't see Lewan moving at all. If he does it's a millisecond early. Incredibly ticky-tack.|
|O19||1||15||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||-2|
|Iowa all over this with the playside DE moving outside before the snap and using that leverage to get outside Webb; Gallon(an unfair –1) is dealing with a LB who shifted right over him and gets owned, forcing Robinson back into the DE. (RPS -1)|
|O21||2||17||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Smith||Inc|
|Both Iowa LBs on the slot guys to the playside get chucks on the routes, disrupting them. Smith tries to sit down in front of the safety and Robinson throws accurately to him but he's got such a tiny window that this would be an NFL-level throw. LB deflects it for the incompletion. Maybe Gallon had a better shot at a window here; the checkdown to Koger was available but probably not more than five or six yards. Excellent play from Iowa; if you can do this you are not going to have many QBs, let alone Denard, put it in your face. I have no idea what to chart this. I am going to go with MA; Robinson had a tiny window and missed it by a foot but this was probably his best option. (MA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M21||3||17||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||Inc|
|A good throw into more excellent coverage; this is a deeper throw that's not going to pick up the first but will get them into chip-shot FG range or give them the opportunity to go. CB Hyde is right there and reaches into break the pass up. Throw was high but had to be so the LB didn't bat it. Stonum would have had to be a magician to bring this in. (CA, 1, protection 2/2) Stonum gets flagged for not being close enough to the LOS, anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG(38), 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q. Last series is three impressive plays from Iowa D and, on the first, whoever's calling the plays absent Norm Parker. I'm not even mad. Except about special teams, of course. Note that next drive would have started at 25 minus irrelevant, dumb block in the back.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M7||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||1|
|Huyge has entered the game, FWIW. Playside DT fights through the initial double, getting playside of Schilling(-1) as the backside guy slides down the line because Omameh(-1) can't ward him off. Smith has two ugly options: run into nothing on the frontside of the play or cutback into an unblocked Hunter. He picks A.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Omameh|
|M8||2||9||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||2|
|Clayborn maintaining contain as Webb heads outside him for a lead block; looks like M was hoping Iowa would switch it up and crash the backside DE, giving Robinson a pull opportunity. They do not; handoff (ZR+1, RPS -1). Schilling(+1) gets an excellent block on the backside DT, sealing him, but Khoury(-1) and Omameh(-1) do nothing with their double, failing to move the playside guy at all. No crease; Smith runs into bodies for a limited gain.|
|M10||3||7||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Deep comeback||Stonum||9|
|Looks like cover two man from Iowa; Robinson drops back and surveys but doesn't have time because Huyge(-2) has been pancaked backwards and Clayborn is about to eat him. He has to hop back and throw off his back foot. The pass is to an open Stonum but is well short; Stonum digs it out for the first. The replay doesn't look like it's a catch but it's not clear so they let it stand. Given the difficulty of the throw I'll mark this MA. (MA, 1, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|Iowa fakes the one-high but backs out. Khoury(+1) and Schilling(+1) bash one DT back and then Khoury hops out on the MLB. MLB sets up in a spot that convinces Robinson to cut back, which he does; DT and MLB come off now-invalid blocks to tackle. Still a nice gain; think Robinson should have tried to shoot right up the middle instead of cutting.|
|RUN+: Schilling, Khoury||RUN-:|
|M25||2||4||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10|
|Same thing; this one sees Webb pull across the formation and meet the MLB right in the hole. Schilling(+0.5) and Khoury(+0.5) have again beaten the playside DT back, so the MLB has to attack; he cuts off the hole but is walled off by Webb. Robinson(+1) slices outside too fast for Clayborn to react as Smith(+1) gets a solid block on the charging Sash, giving Robinson a lane that is only closed down by a pursuing Hunter.|
|RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Khoury(0.5), Robinson, Smith||RUN-:|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Hemingway||8|
|Simple pitch and catch that's open; Hemingway grabs it for a decent gain and picks up a few more YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M43||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||6|
|Khoury(-1) owned, driven far into the backfield and closing off what looks like a well-blocked play otherwise. Robinson has to cut back, way back, which kills the blocks on both backside DL. He has to run outside. A corner comes up; he cuts back inside, dodging that guy and sliding past Binns. Binns tackles desperately.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2)||RUN-: Khoury|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Long handoff||Stonum||2|
|Ball thrown low on a play that had a chance to get six, eight yards. Stonum digs it out for a couple but is on the ground as he brings it in. (IN, 2, screen)|
|O49||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Webb||Inc|
|Good route package gets Webb wide open on a short hitch he'll be able to turn up for a first down, but Robinson inexplicably pumps and then wings it well high. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|O49||3||8||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||4|
|Robinson's looking at the left side of the field on which two Michigan WRs are drawing zone defenders deep; he should throw the out to Smith, who is probably going to have the first if the ball is thrown. Then he should hit Grady on the improv but doesn't, instead scrambling for a few yards. This was an easy read he biffed. (BR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, EO1H. Give Michigan an extra 18 yards here and they can go for it. Penalty is a killer. I can see why they punted: hard to have a ton of faith in Robinson at that exact instant after he'd blown three straight plays.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||1|
|I don't understand what they're doing with Webb here. They send him out to block no one; if he just blocks down on Clayborn, Robinson is in a ton of space running away from a MLB. Instead they just send him down to block no one at all. So Robinson hands off (ZR +1, RPS -1). Omameh(-1) and Khoury(-1) get killed by the playside DT and Shaw has nowhere to go. Schilling(-1) falls over so there's no backside block.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Omameh, Khoury, Schilling|
|M25||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||-1|
|Webb(-2) is owned by the slot LB. Just make him go inside of you and this is good yardage; instead he gets beat outside and Roundtree is tackled for loss. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M24||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Drag||Hemingway||4|
|Same patterns they ran on the third and eight before the half; this time Robinson checks down to the inside drag, which is caught but has no chance. Maybe should have looked at Grady deeper, but had to step up in the pocket because Clayborn beat Huyge(-1) around the corner and probably felt he had to dump it. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Huyge -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||12|
|Show one-high and back out. Michigan rolls out and tries to hit a pass but Iowa has covered everything reasonably well and Robinson doesn't feel comfortable throwing. He cuts up just as Omameh(+1) gets an open-field shove on Clayborn, using his speed to pick up the first down. He takes a hit as he goes down and comes up holding his hand; he is done for the day.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||PA Hitch||Koger||8|
|Forcier in; inside zone fake to a short hitch to the TE. PA had drawn the LB; open, hit with good timing; good YAC. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|M35||2||2||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||5|
|Playside double gets the DT blown back (+0.5 Schilling, Khoury), but Omameh(-1) lost the DT to the inside and there's no hole. Shaw(+1) reads it, leaps over the fallen Omameh, and hits a cutback hole; Khoury gets the other half of his plus for shoving Hunter along the line and giving Shaw a gap for the first.|
|RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Khoury, Shaw||RUN-: Omameh|
|M40||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||5|
|Hitches on this play covered, partially because Koger blocked Clayborn before releasing and knocked him back into a perfect accidental zone for his route. Forcier starts scrambling as Omameh lost Daniels on the interior; Khoury does well to pick him up but Forcier's moving. He cuts upfield into space, diving forward for a decent gain. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|M45||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||0|
|High snap Forcier manages to corral; this looks like a stretch but they're not blocking it like one so I guess it's inside. Omameh(-1) can't seal the playside DT; Khoury(+1) does a great job of getting control of and blocking the backside guy downfield. Shaw cuts back and would have a lane but for Schilling(-1) falling, providing a lane for an unblocked LB to force Shaw upfield and into traffic.|
|M45||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||4|
|This is very well covered but Forcier chucks it anyway, away from the defender and in a spot only his receiver can get it. Hemingway makes a diving grab to set up fourth and inches. (CA+, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M49||4||1||I-form twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Hopkins||15|
|Iowa tightens the line so there are two 1-tech guys right over Khoury; the backside guy is unblocked and lunges for Forcier, tackling him as he makes the handoff. He does make the handoff. Schilling(+1) and Khoury(+1) pick up the other NT and deposit him a couple yards downfield; Huyge gets an okay block on Clayborn and then McColgan(+1) thumps him backwards, opening up a crease; Hopkins sails through it.|
|RUN+: McColgan, Khoury, Schilling||RUN-:|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||PA Hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Corner blitz on Stonum's side of the line finds Stonum open after he forced the safety to respect the vertical route; Forcier wings it wide. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O36||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Improv||Stonum||Inc|
|Iowa again covering these short hitches so Forcier starts wheeling around; Michigan is not switching their routes and Iowa is dropping into three deep (RPS -1). Forcier wanders around and tries to find Stonum at the sideline for a few; throw is high and at the sidelines and isn't brought in. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O36||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Drag||Stonum||9|
|Same route set from before; why no ever the outside drag that actually has people dragging defenders too deep? Stonum has a step on his guy and Forcier hits him right in stride, allowing him to turn it up for near first-down yardage. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O27||4||1||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Waggle inside hitch||Roundtree||12|
|Iowa way less aggressive this time, probably because M tips pass by bringing in a TE at FB instead of McColgan. Roundtree sits down inside as Iowa players fly out towards Koger on his little flat route (which was open and I thought he should have taken). Forcier sees it and throws a nice catchable pass high so no one knocks it down en route; Roundtree goes up to get it. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O15||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||0|
|The fumble. Schilling(-1) gets chucked by Klug and then Koger(-1) just runs right by him, allowing the guy to kill Smith in the backfield; Smith fumbles.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Koger|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-21, 6 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Hemingway||Inc|
|Corner blitz; Forcier looks to the other side of the field and finds Hemingway open on a deep slant since a shallower one sucked in Hunter. Throw is high to get it over hands but catchable; it is dropped. Hopkins whiffed on his block on Clayborn as M slid its protection. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Hopkins -1)|
|M35||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Belly||Hopkins||5|
|Omameh(+1) blasts the playside DT down the line. Dorrestein(-1) is moving to the second level but gets a push from the playside DE that makes him also block the already blown-out Iowa DT, leaving the playside LB free. Webb(+1) kicks that DE out and Hopkins runs directly upfield for decent yardage. Unblocked MLB does tackle.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Webb||RUN-: Dorrestein|
|M40||3||5||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Improv||?||Int|
|Forcier drops back and can't find anyone on his first read, at which point three Iowa DL come through the line, with Schilling, Omameh, and Huyge all picking up minuses. Forcier rolls out and throws a completely terrible INT right at an Iowa defender. (BR, 0, protection 0/3, Omameh, Schilling, Huyge.)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-21, 4 min 3rd Q. That interception is a swing of 60 yards of field position relative to an average punt, or would be but for a personal foul on Iowa that brings it back to about the spot of the INT.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Penalty||False start||Schilling||-5|
|Lewan returns. He does not cause the crowd to ask for his doom by false starting here.|
|M10||1||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Hemingway||11|
|Again the slant opens up with an interior slant dragging a zone defender along. Pitch, catch, tackle. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M21||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||9|
|Easy again; thrown with great timing as Hyde plays conservatively. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Smith||14|
|Virtual replay of the first TD with the three WR side drawing a lot of attention and Smith beating the LB over him on the slant despite the guy having inside leverage; he bites on the out step. Good route. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|Just five guys in the box as the trips drags two LBs to the outside. Michigan runs right at the five guys and can't get much because Klug beats a double from Khoury(-1) and Schilling, hopping inside and forcing Smith to bounce it behind. Khoury didn't get enough push on him to seal him before releasing. Smith does cut behind Klug as Schilling pancakes him but this robs Khoury of his angle on the LB in the box and forces Smith to the side with all the dudes on it.|
|M48||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Improv Hitch||Stonum||7|
|Forcier looks for Hemingway but decides that hitch at the sticks is covered, at which point Lewan(-1) gets run around by Clayborn; Forcier has to roll out. I'm going to toss in a bonus point for the protection because Forcier has all kinds of room to roll because Dorrestein walled off the playside DT and Webb and Smith took turns on the DE, giving Forcier a relaxing amount of time to survey. Stonum comes back to the ball and Forcier hits him with a hitch for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/3, Lewan -1)|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Rollout stop and go||Stonum||Inc|
|Michigan rolls the pocket, then Forcier stops as he pulls up and tries to exploit the safety over-reacting to the roll. Stonum suckers the CB in and gets open deep; the half roll has gotten the safety out of position to defend this and Michigan has an opportunity. Throw is good but Stonum seems to lay out unnecessarily (trip?) and the pass clangs off his hands. Would have been incomplete anyway because of the dive. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O45||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Max pro and a three-man route. Schilling(-1) gets beaten by Daniels and Forcier has a guy coming at him up the middle; must throw. He's got a window to hit Roundtree on a post, but it's a small one. He's close but it's in front of him. Good timing, tough throw to see and make, but did not quite execute. (IN, 0, protection 1/2, Schilling -1)|
|O45||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Improv Hitch||Stokes||11|
|Forcier gets happy feet here and starts rolling around when protection is decent. His roll puts a stunting DT in his face but Stokes is breaking open on a hitch anyway, so Forcier chucks it accurately. Stokes spins through one tackle then drags Hunter two yards past the sticks. Nice play. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Stonum||17|
|Iowa adjusting to this but it's not enough. Sash is sitting down in a robber zone and attempts to blow Stonum up, but the ball's already in and caught by the time he gets there; Stonum runs through that hit and almost breaks into the open field; corner drags him down by one foot. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O17||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||6|
|Iowa with a late shift and stunt that gets Klug through Khoury(-1) and the other DT almost past Schilling(+1) before he reacts and knocks him out of the hole. Khoury then tackles Klug and gets away with it. Lewan is doing a good job on Clayborn but he manages to get a handful of jersey as Smith passes. This slows him and ends up being beneficial, allowing Dorrestein(+1) to get a bizarre but effective block on the MLB; Smith(+1) runs through the tackle and picks his way for decent yardage.|
|RUN+: Smith, Schilling, Dorrestein||RUN-: Khoury|
|O11||2||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Fade||Stonum||Inc (Pen +6)|
|Slant fake to a fade from Stonum fools Hyde. Hyde bangs him and then continues impeding his progress with the ball in the air; the flag is obvious. Probably should have been a PI with the ball at the two but was called holding so it's half the distance. Not charted.|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||3|
|Hopkins displays surprising agility here. Interior double kicks out the DT but Iowa is slanting Binns inside of Dorrestein and there's not going to be a hole. Dorrestein starts driving Binns further inside, turning a nothing play into an opportunity and actually gets +1 here. Webb(+1) heads outside to block a scraping LB and Hopkins shows good agility for a beef machine to follow him, getting sliced down by that LB making a nice play. Yes, you can get +3 for a 3 yard run if it's from the five.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Dorrestein, Webb||RUN-:|
|O2||2||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||2|
|Same play. This time Hopkins says eff it and just goes straight upfield; a gap-shooting Iowa LB has a narrow lane and a slight adjustment in Hopkins's path results in Hop running through an arm tackle. From there Omameh(+1) pancakes Ballard and Khoury(+1) improvises, pulling around the falling pair to pop Hunter; Hopkins is untouched into the endzone.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Omameh, Khoury||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-28, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep hitch||Stonum||18|
|Deep in the hole again; Iowa gets a delay on Stonum and the safety is coming over to club. Forcier pumps and then lays a ball in that takes Stonum off his feet just as the safety comes over to nail the guy; Stonum avoids the hit thanks to the throw and makes a moderately difficult catch. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Out||Grady||8|
|Grady catches a quick out and then makes a linebacker charging out miss, turning five yards into eight. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O49||2||2||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||3|
|Another stunt from the DTs. Schilling(+1) seals off Klug, preventing him from getting into the backfield, and Lewan(+1) kicks out Clayborn; Smith does have to deal with a DT right in the hole but manages to fall forward for the first.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schilling||RUN-:|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Fly||Hemingway||46|
|Slot LB blitzes and it looks like Hyde massively busts a coverage on what should be three-deep. Forcier recognizes and tosses a soft floater that hits Hemingway in stride at the five for a touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-35, 10 min 4th Q. This color guy is outstanding, by the way.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M31||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Stonum||13|
|Same story, no adjustment this time from Iowa: double slants and Forcier hits the deeper one when the inside zone is cleared. Disadvantage of running a 4-3 all the time. At this point it's RPS+1 time. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stonum||11|
|Hyde bails out deep and Stonum pulls up; Forcier nails him with excellent timing. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Hyde makes a good play to force Stonum OOB; this is a quick throw that Forcier thinks he has but doesn't because of the chuck. Not sure what to chart this as. He had an out he could have gotten a few yards on, but this isn't a terrible read or throw even though it has no chance. I guess this is a very weak (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|O45||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Stonum||11|
|Same thing, man: double slants. What does it mean? (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Fly||Hemingway||31|
|Adjustment, as Iowa goes to a three-man line and rushes only those three. Michigan slides the protection, which is dumb because that leaves a DE one on one with Smith. Smith does what he can but that's only "delay the guy." Forcier pump fakes, then rolls away from the pressure a bit. He pulls up and launches a bomb to Hemingway on the other side of the field. Hemingway's beat his guy but the pass is well short; Hemingway adjusts to the ball much better than the corner and since it's short the safety is not a factor. Hemingway high-points the ball and brings the catch in. Uh... (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O3||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 5-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Forcier||3|
|Forcier pulls. Not sure why since the backside DE is getting blocked but he does seem to have a lane up the middle. That lane closes as Clayborn comes off Lewan (a yard downfield so no minus); Webb(+1) is blocking a LB and has control of him, pushing him downfield as he tries to fight inside and banging him into a filling safety; Forcier(+1) bounces outside as Clayborn dives at his feet and lunges for the endzone. Not Denard, but shifty.|
|RUN+: Forcier, Webb||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-35, 6 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Tampa 3-4||Pass||Fly||Stonum||Inc|
|This is very well covered by both the corner and the safety coming over and should not be thrown. Inaccurate anyway. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M37||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Tampa 3-4||Pass||Sack||?||-9|
|Lewan(-2) smoked by Clayborn on a three man rush, forcing Forcier to scramble around. He slips during this yakety sax exhibition, but this was going to end badly either way. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Lewan -2)|
|M28||3||19||Shtogun trips||1||0||4||Tampa 3-4||Pass||?||?||Int|
|Dorrestein(-2) smoked by Binns; Forcier steps up and throws to? no one. This is some kind of miscommunication or insanity, because only Iowa players can catch this ball. (BR, N/A, protection 0/2, Dorrestein -2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 28-38, 2 min 4th Q; EOG.|
That was schizophrenic.
Yeah, no kidding. Michigan went from ground-based to lighting up the sky with Denard's exit—I didn't even register a Zone Read +/- for Tate. Iowa didn't cope well with the change, unless they did by picking Tate off twice. –7 turnover margin over two weeks makes evaluation difficult.
I heard on the talk radios that Tate should start now.
Riiiight. About that, first we're going to need—
Yes, with a z:
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||-||44%|
Tate's number is justifiable since he averaged 9.2 YPA on 26 attempts; again, since the system doesn't weight things like throwing an awful interception more heavily the first Tate INT is not anything more than a single BR. (I'm not that concerned about the second INT. If you don't try something there you're facing fourth and nineteen and you're pretty much done anyway.)
Robinson, meanwhile, completed a lot of passes but didn't get many yards on them. He ended his day with a Scheelhaase-like 7.3 yards per completion. So the CAs there aren't inspiring, and neither is the DSR, a season low. For the second straight week Denard killed his own drives. On Michigan's third drive he threw an easy hitch well upfield and forced Hemingway to dive to catch it. That turned a sure first down into three yards. Lewan false-started and then he threw the ugly interception on the next play. On Michigan's final drive of the first half they were moving the ball, the drive stalled entirely because of Denard:
- First down: long handoff to Stonum is thrown in the dirt and Michigan only gets two yards.
- Second down: Webb is open on a hitch he can turn up for a first; Denard pumps for no reason and then throws it over Webb's head.
- Third down: Denard misses a read and does not dump it down to Smith, then does not see Grady as he rolls, then scrambles for four yards.
He was off.
Come on now. I think Michigan could have put Denard back in the game but given his shaky performance throwing and the score they decided to roll with Forcier after he drove them down the field on the Smith fumble drive. In the press conference afterwards Rodriguez said he'd re-aggravated a shoulder injury he'd been dealing with. If that's healed and he returns to the accuracy levels he displayed in the first few weeks of the season he's the guy.
Michigan might be more confident they can turn to Forcier if Michigan's offense isn't doing anything, but that doesn't seem particularly likely.
How did the offensive line do?
For that we'll need another chart:
|Huyge||-||-||-||Did not register a run plus minus, which is probably a win against Clayborn|
|Lewan||8||1||7||The biggest part of limiting Clayborn to one solo tackle and two assists.|
|Schilling||10.5||8||2.5||Won his battle but not by much.|
|Molk||3||-||3||Good start, then sideline.|
|Omameh||6.5||9.5||-3||Struggled in a fashion similar to his first start against a beefy UConn tackle. Probably still progress since the Iowa guy is probably better.|
|Khoury||10||7.5||2.5||Had his share of issues but was not a liability; backup situation this year so much better than the Moosman shuffle last year.|
|Dorrestein||6||2.5||3.5||Binns also had one solo.|
|TOTAL||50||31.5||18.5||A solid day against a very tough line.|
|Robinson||8||1||7||Could not find space often.|
|Smith||3||1||2||Okay, but still averaged 3.9 YPC.|
|Hopkins||4||-||4||Effective in short yardage, getting more trust, led backs in YPC, good blocker.|
|McColgan||1||-||1||One play but made it count.|
|TOTAL||18||2||16||Did what they could, with Hopkins grinding in short yardage and .|
|TOTAL||2||2||0||No screens, no long ones, no numbers.|
Also while we're talking line we should throw in the PROTECTION METRIC: 54/68, Lewan –3, Huyge –4, Schilling –2, Khoury –1, Omameh –1, Dorrestein –2, Hopkins –1. That's about 80%, which is good, and on the last drive-type substance when Iowa was all out of GAF and could rush like madmen Michigan was 1/5 with Dorrestein and Lewan picking up –2s.
This would be a good point to explain Taylor Lewan, the beginning and end of all things.
After the third Lewan penalty Michigan Stadium was ready to throttle the guy. (Good thing it's impossible to get guns in the stadium!) It would have taken most of the stadium to do so, but the "AWWWWWWWWW" coming from the stands suggested it was possible.
Huyge came in, and everyone thought that was a good idea to settle Lewan down. This provided a window in which the Huyge/Lewan battle—such as it is after Lewan cemented a place in the starting lineup—was once and forever resolved in the exact same way the Demens/Ezeh battle was: by some Iowa guy running over the backup. In Ezeh's case this was Iowa OL Julian Vandevelde. In Huyge's it was Adrian Clayborn.
Huyge wasn't terrible but when you play a third of a game and you don't get a single +/- on the run chart you're being avoided to some extent and just doing okay at when you're not. He's got a –4 in pass protection; Lewan has a –3 in twice the time. Lewan was +7 on the ground, tied with Denard for the best score.
He's good. The Clayborn line: one solo tackle, two assists, a half sack on the last desperate Michigan drive. Last year Clayborn had 70 tackles, 20 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Against Penn State earlier this year Clayborn had ten tackles, three TFLs, and a sack. He's a holy lock first-rounder, and Taylor Lewan all but erased him. Also, his second false start does not seem to exist. Presenting the first and only clip of a false start penalty in the history of football:
Pinky twitched or something.
That was a star-making performance. Lewan == Long has gone from optimistic ceiling to serious possibility.
And the rest of the guys?
I thought they were "dominant" in the game column at the beginning of the week; they were not. The rest of the line settled in an area around +3 each save Omameh, who again had difficulty with a big strong DT and finished in the negative.
Losing Molk was a chunk of that. While Khoury didn't seem out of place he's the backup for a reason and his lack of experience contributed to a couple of screwups; the occasional iffy snap that threw timing off was not included in the numbers. I don't think I saw him get a tough seal like this all day:
Even so a redshirt sophomore backup notching a positive number against Iowa's veteran, deep line is encouraging.
However, Michigan's inability to crease those guys consistently was key until Forcier came in. Iowa bent but did not break because their defensive line afforded them the ability to put a guy over Michigan's slot receiver to erase the bubble screen and keep two deep safeties; Iowa spent the bulk of the day with six guys in the box against Denard Robinson and did not get crushed. That's why Iowa's defense is so tough: they can do that when in theory it should get you crushed against up to seven blockers.
For a given definition of "crushed," anyway. Thanks to turnovers, bad field position, and the &#*$ing field goal kickers Michigan exited the first half with 223 yards and 7 points. That's bend but don't break. We've got break sooner or later. Also when the Tate Forcier Air Show started going off, it was not seriously bothered by pass rush until the last drive. That's an accomplishment.
Weekly plea for Hopkins.
Weekly plea for Hopkins, except he's clearly getting more run as the season progresses. I like his vision and surprising agility. A lot of beef machine types would not be able to make this cut:
And a lot of freshmen would not peel off to effectively block a guy who's just chucked away Schilling:
Rumors about fumbling in practice dog him—Rodriguez said Smith is "not a fumbler" after the game, thereby implying that some other guys were—and that's a good reason for his time to be limited. I'm anxious for those problems to recede.
His size makes him a far more effective blocker than anyone else Michigan has available. Unless Brandon Moore emerges (possible), I think we're going to see a lot more two tailback sets in 2011. Webb will be gone and Hopkins brings that kind of blocking.
Are you forgetting something?
Oh, right. Receivers:
The receivers had a great day, with just one drop, that by Hemingway, and three very tough catches on poorly thrown balls. (Stonum's may not have actually been a catch but it was ruled one.) Hemingway bailed Forcier out on the late bomb and made up for his drop with some key conversions on tough balls. With the screen game limited and downfield runs almost nonexistent, all they had to do was catch and they did.
Also Rock Paper Scissors was 5 – 5 = 0, though it could have been slanted more heavily in Michigan's direction if I'd started dinging Iowa for giving up all those identical slants earlier.
Lewan turned Adrian Clayborn into just a guy. Stonum and Hemingway were major positives in the second-half comeback.
Lewan helped kill two drives with actual penalties and may have killed a third if that false start wasn't phantom. And… yes… Denard's two-week streak of playing like a sophomore was extremely harmful.
What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?
Penn State's injury situation will have a lot to say about that, but Michigan has to get Robinson healthy and find enough of a tailback rushing game to force teams out of two-deep coverages. If anyone can do what Iowa did—which not only removed the bubble but removed all those games Michigan plays with it for good yardage—Michigan's base offense is going to have to slog downfield and will be vulnerable to the kinds of mistakes that have plagued them these last two weeks. (Aside for TOP junkies: Michigan won TOP against Iowa because their drives weren't two-play TDs. Was that helpful to either offense or defense? Not so much.)
I'm not sure whether this Denard shoulder injury is a good thing or a bad thing. Will it heal? Is it just an excuse? Is it more evidence that he will shatter into a thousand pieces? If his inaccuracy the last couple weeks was a temporary shoulder thing that will heal and he can get back to his earlier sharpshooting—even chucking short routes was a problem this week—it's good, I guess.
The other skill positions are getting better as the season progresses. The outside receivers are establishing themselves as good options and if Hopkins and Shaw can get an even rotation with Smith Michigan will have a variety of different looks they can go to depending on what's working well. Smith showed he's an asset as a quasi-slot in this game, as linebackers have difficulty covering him in man and zone opens up those double slants.
On the line, Lewan showed he should be able to neutralize any defensive end in the conference if he can just keep from going Yosemite Sam on the world and the rest of the line showed itself slightly inferior to Iowa's excellent DL. I'll take it.
The Darryl Stonum fashion show marches on.
Long drives speak to the team's preparation in practice to execute. "It becomes clockwork, and I think that's what we do - we execute very well and that just goes to how well-coached we are... Wherever we are on the field, we feel like we can execute at any time." The offense is explosive. "I think it's 'no limits' when we execute."
Kelvin Grady has been working hard on the field and in the weightroom. He's catching and blocking well. "He's a lot more comfortable - as well as all of us."
This offense is fun because there are so many options. "You never know who's going to be the one having a big game."
The collapse last year is motivation to keep working hard this year. "We can't get our heads big right now. Like Coach Rod said - we can't swallow the poison."
"I think we're just together as a team... it's a family atmosphere in the locker room." Everyone is comfortable with each other, and they're able to have fun out there.
"Troy's happy... He wants to get back out there with us so bad." He'll be on the sidelines as soon as he can.
Haven't watched any Indiana film. "I'm pretty sure Indiana's a great team, and they're gonna be a great team for us to play this week."
Grady will graduate in December and start working on a Master's.
"I actually smiled" when he saw the penalty flag calling back his touchdown. "It's one of those things where - it happens." Felt good to score, even if it didn't end up counting.
Feels comfortable in the system. Has had the opportunity to play three different positions. Understanding the other positions had made him more comfortable at slot.
"I'm blessed to be able to get to different positions and learn other positions." Now he has the experience to help younger guys out.
"We're gonna go in this week and we're gonna work hard." Playing Indiana is no different than another opponent.
Avoiding team's recent struggles in Big Ten play? More guys are interested in their individual role on the team. Some guys have stepped up. "Darry Stonum has really stepped up this year for us." Mike Martin has stepped up on D, and the DB corps is getting better all the time.
Is Denard at 75% healthy faster than most QBs? "I'd take 25% Shoelace as faster than most quarterbacks." He's worked hard to step up. Devin and Tate came in and showed the depth at the position. "It's very key" to have the quality of backups Michigan has. "This game is more about patience. Obviously we have Denard that's stepped up and is doing very well for this team. But we've also got a 12-game starter as his backup." There are plenty of guys to step up.
Success on the ground: "I feel like we have weapons all over the place." It helps to have a fast QB.
"Being 1-7 is something obviously we don't want to look back on." Use it as motivation for this season.
"Denard is really humble. A really humble kid. Sometimes, I think we actually - I don't think he recognizes or knows the accolades." They tease him that he doesn't even know he's on TV every 10 minutes. "A great person, a great teammate. Humble, has great faith. It's all positive." He's not selfish - wants to see the other QBs play well.
"Did you see those glasses? They were awesome."
Starting "was the goal as a redshirt freshman." It's been a blessing to get the opportunity, glad to be out there. "You're just way more into the game." It was frustrating against Penn State last year, because there was nothing he could do. "The biggest thing is I can help change."
Working out with Barwis helped Lewan - "really just fueled the fire." Worked on strength, speed, quickness, using everything he has to his advantage.
Jersey number - "When I actually committed, one of the things was, 'I want #77.'" Didn't know much about Jake Long until after he started wearing the number in high school. Watched Long play for the Dolphins last night: "He does it all, and that's awesome." Saw Long once last year on the sidelines. "That's a very large individual."
Favorite thing about Ann Arbor is all the different people. See all sorts of interesting people.
Balancing mean streak with avoiding penalties. In high school, got probably three penalties a game. Need to be nasty, but also smart. "When I go out there, I'm trying to be as mean as possible, and make sure nobody's having a good time when they're playing against us."
Lewan's dad gives him constructive criticism after every game.
"We were 4-0 last year at this time. We've gotta keep out head down, keep playing."
The QBs are playing like seniors. "They're playing like champions, and that's awesome."
Zac Ciullo has probably never played a snap [Ed: Got in at left guard during CONESTRAVAGANZA '09], but he's a huge leader out there. He has great work ethic. "He works harder than every other person on this team."
The OL blocks equally hard for all three QBs. "I'm gonna do what I can to protect them no matter what."
At first, Lewan was bitter to lose the LT competition in camp. "It just made me work harder."
Likes left tackle because they get all the attention of the offensive linemen.
"I feel like I just turn off my head and play football" to get the mean streak going.
Ryan Van Bergen
"I think it's a more mature 4-0 team. I think it's a hungry 4-0 team. A lot of guys on this team have been 4-0 before and didn't accomplish a lot of things they wanted to ."
Chappell is an experienced QB. Have to account for him on every play, they protect him well.
Young guys on D. "I think that the play of Thomas Gordon" has been a pleasant surprise. When Carvin went down, he stepped up. They'll compete when Carvin returns.
Lewan: "He's a pretty physical guy. I'll give him credit." Joked with him a lot that he'd never get big enough to play, but that motivated him. They've exchanged blows in practice, but are still friends after. "The ceiling for him is really high. I think he's got a lot of potential."
Facing Denard in practice is helpful, because you're never going to see a guy like that in the opposition. Helps learn pursuit angles, but it's frustrating to chase him on D.
"I think it's a common misconception that if you play to your assignment, you can get to Denard. That's why we have him out there, because he breaks your assignment."
Martin - "Since he's playing in that 0 head-up on the center..." people are doubling him up, but they don't get there in time because he can get rid of the center before the guard can get over. Credits his quickness to wrestling.
RVB's role on the D is to help break down the Xs and Os for the younger guys.
RVB's mom is telling him to keep it up. "She's happy with the way we've been playing."
Lewan competes on each and every play, he shows the nasty streak in practices.
The D knew they had to come out aggressive to improve from the UMass game. Worked on tackling, but still need more improvement. "A lot better energy going into the game, and I just think we were a lot more focused."
The defense is versatile, they have a lot of different schemes, and can put guys in many positions to make plays. Can disguise things, etc.
"We definitely remember what it was like 4-0 last year. We know this year we can't get our heads big." Need to continue to progress.
"Playing at Notre Dame was a great experience." It gave the young guys a chance to get ready for a hostile atmosphere.
Indiana is a Big Ten team, the Wolverines can't look ahead to MSU. "No chance. We look at each game like it's the most important game of the season."
IU's receivers are another challenge to step up to. "They're definitely a talented bunch."
First: Look at those glasses! He says they're not prescription.
When he made two big plays late in the first half "I just felt like it was the momentum changing." The offense started poorly, and he needed to provide a boost. "I don't know if 2 touchdowns in 45 seconds is quite the dream," it might be better. "I was always the big-play guy in high school, I was always the deep threat in high school. I've always wanted to get that transition over to Michigan."
In the third year of the offense with Denard throwing well, it's not just Stonum that's blossoming. Everybody knows stuff so can go out there and play fast.
"I try to lead by example most of the time. I'm not really a vocal screaming yeling in the huddle type of guy." He lets his work ethic speak for itself. Always works as hard as he can in weight room, in class, and on-field.
Defenses play differently with Denard in the game. They'll contain instead of trying to sack Denard. He's making the right reads and is pretty dangerous. "We knew we didn't want him carrying the ball 30 times a game every game." They were able to get the ball to some RBs and establish something else on the ground.
"We've got some pretty athletic offensive linemen." They relish the opportunity to show off that athleticism by getting downfield and making plays. "I knew we had playmakers, it was just a matter of us getting the ball into the laymakers hands and setting up opportunities for them through our blocking."
The OL is coming together each week, as they have pretty good experience. Molk jumped back in where he left off with his injury last fall and spring. Taylor Lewan - "I watched the whole game yesterday, and he seemed to have a pretty good game." He and some others have been performing well in practice, even if they haven't seen the field much.
"There's absolutely more [offensive improvement] to come. The offense is clicking but we're still not performing to our full potential and capability."
UMass was a "mini wakeup call." Seniors have been good at getting them pumped, but they need to do better than last week. "I'm frustrated now and I was frustrated then. You just can't do anything about it now." The defense needs to prepare better and be more hungry going forward.
The first two games were good for the defense. Against UMass "looking at the tape, we just didn't tackle well." Were surprised by a few schemes as well. Have to have a certain persona to tackle well. "I really did think every guy came in with that" and it just didn't work out for some reason. They'd hit guys in the backfield, or allow 5 yards to be stretched into 10. Don't want to let guys get more than they should.
"With our training from Mike Barwis, we don't get very tired ever." The fourth quarter points for UMass were not a result of that.
Taylor Lewan played well. Proud of him because they've been buddies for a couple years. "He's finding a happy medium between being aggressive and holding a lot." That style will work well in the Big Ten.
Mike Martin "he is the strongest person I' ve ever seen in the weight room, and it's really showing on the field." Beat a double team to sack the QB.
It won't be tough to get up for BGSU. "From our performance this Saturday, this team is definitely going to get up for this game."
"The offense really helped us out this past Saturday, and that's why it's a team." One side will have to rely on the other from time to time.
Craig doesn't listen to music before games to get pumped up - reads a bit of the Bible.
Being a hometown guy, it'll be a different experience to play BG. He doesn't know anybody on the team though, outside of Bryan Wright. "It's gonna be weird" being on opposite sidelines. Knows him well, good kicker. They keep in touch a little bit, but haven't been trash talking yet.
Defense mindset - "Obviously we aren't satisfied with the way that we played defensively." It's much nicer to get that out of the way early in the season, and with a win. "I expect it to be a 1-game slip-up. I'm sure we'll make our corrections today."
Feels different than last year's struggles. They'll move forward. "I think they're pretty simple things." Technical errors and a couple missed assignments. Players might have been hesitant after giving up big plays to Notre Dame "maybe guys are just inexperienced and aren't feeling comfortable in their zones yet."
Obi and Jonas are the senior leaders on D. Each said a few things after the game in the locker room, as did Craig Roh.
"If you can control the ball, you can wear out a defense." The D didn't do their job to get themselves off the field.
Interception - "The first thing I was thinking is 'yes I finally got one.' Sometimes, you don't want to do too much." He should have tucked the ball better.
The team will be very focused after a letdown against UMass. "Last game was a reality check for many games to come. Of course, it's a good thing that we still got the win." There's a small margin for error at this level. The other teams prepare, too. "You have to prepare even better. It's not like high school."
The defense wants to do their part like the offense has been doing. "We're still not as good as we need to be or want to be." Both sides of the ball can improve, but there's only been three games.
Going against Michigan receivers in practice helps prepare for other teams' best receivers.
Transition to safety is good. Still room for improvement. "What's the best room in the house? That's room for improvement."
Choosing Michigan - "I love it here." Everyone will face adversity growing up, and he's learning at Michigan that working hard and staying in the fight will help you through.
Note for students: Maize Rage mass meeting 7PM in the League's Vandenberg room. Who wants some FREEEEEEE PIIIZZZAAAA?
Further adventures in epic rootability. Remember how Darryl Stonum was this year's Roy Roundtree, who was in turn Michigan's version of Rick Vaughn? Yeah, Stonum is taking the comparison as far as he can without literally raiding whichever Planet Hollywood contains the skull-and-crossbones originals:
Awesome. He was probably thinking Run DMC, but either way it is epic.
Just plain epic. This is astounding:
I would buy a billion of these before they were taken from us. Sadly these are not extant, but you can get it as your wallpaper.
The Freude. You will want to check out This Week In Schadenfreude this go-round for obvious reasons:
My 11 year old thinks ND football is a joke
by btd (2010-09-19 00:43:18)
She can't grasp why they are even on TV. She said it tonight. "Daddy, why does anyone care about Notre Dame? Have they ever been good?"
Basically there isn't a kid alive today that has ever seen real ND football.
This running diary didn't even make it in because I ran out of room:
12:06 Went and got a bottle of NyQuil and a bottle of Woodford Reserve. Placed them both on the table in front of me. Flipping a coin to see which one I start chugging.
12:16 WHY DO WE HAVE THIS BLACK CLOUD HANGING OVER OUR FOOTBALL PROGRAM!?!?
The freude is strong this week. BONUS: find out where Tacopants transferred. It won't be a surprise.
Mascot win. So the Ohio Bobcat got fired, reprimanded, and banned for life from Ohio athletics for a spectacular attack on the Ohio State mascot:
So worth it. He's never going to have to buy a drink in Ann Arbor, State College, or any other Big Ten city.
The look on the kid's face afterward is priceless: "this never happens to me in Iowa."
The latest lack of outrage. This is probably the most convincing explanation of an assumed ref disaster ever. It's about the delay of game, or lack thereof, on the Michigan State fake punt:
"The responsibility is assigned to the Back Judge, who in this situation was standing beneath the upright. Proper mechanics dictate that his focus be directed to the play clock as it approaches zero. When the play clock display reads zero, he must re-direct his attention to the ball. At that time, if the snap has not started, a flag will be thrown for delay of game. If the snap has begun, no flag will be thrown.
"Under these procedures, there will always be a small amount of lag time between the time the clock reads zero and the time the Back Judge is able to see the football.
"On the play in question, this lag time created the situation where it appears the play clock expired just before the snap. We believe the snap occurred well within the normal lag time for the Back Judge to make this determination.
That makes total sense. I wish officials would do this more often. Issue little dicta explaining why penalties were (or in some cases, were not) called and you reduce the complaining at least somewhat.
Bork on. Hockey season is going to start soon and Red Berenson is talking them up:
"We realized we were as good as anybody at the end of last year and this team will take that (confidence) and put that on the ice," …
"Does it make our team better? Definitely, it's huge," said Berenson of having Hagelin and Caporusso back. "You're so much more optimistic because you know who your top players are. I felt they had their heads in the right place. They are really invested in this program."
The usual blunt assessments of early departures (Pacioretty and Palushaj are in the AHL and "probably don't like it") are also included along with an interesting Cold War II tidbit: the rink will be Olympic size. Advantage to a quicker Michigan team, no doubt.
Etc.: Congratulations, commenters, for not being NDNation about Dantonio's heart attack. It is in this way we will not be a newspaper's comment section. By request, shots of Michigan Stadium's renovation from above. MGoBlog invades North Korea. Srsly. The Team, The Team, The Team: the video they played Saturday.
Not pleased with the way they played, but happy with the win. All three phases of the game had letdowns. "As quiet a winning locker room as you'll ever see."
"I can promise our guys will look at the film, coaches will look at the film, I'll watch everything on all three phases." "Defensively we thought they would pressure us a little bit" so Denard couldn't run. Has to talk to D coaches to see if UMass did surprising stuff. "They're pretty good up front."
Nobody was injured outside of Banks, and his injury isn't serious.
Take what they give us. Stonum made plays, Shaw stepped up. Not worried about starters being tired because they only played 56 snaps.
3-4, 4-3 shift "We saw the same thing last week." Switch just about every other snap. "That's kinda part for the course. Our guys have seen that." UMass adjusted at the second half. UMass played a lot of cover-0, gave up lots of 1-on-1 opportunities. Maybe Michigan should have taken even more deep shots. Wanted to run to give the D a break.
"[Denard] was pretty sharp with his eyes and his decisions." Ball-handling was the problem. Denard not as sharp as he was first couple weeks. "Amost like a first-game feel." Execution wasn't clean. Denard made some great throws, a few good runs. "We didn't run him as much. We didn't want to." Shaw stepped up.
Offense is QB-centered, he has to run sometimes. More designed RB runs today to give him some relief. Shaw - "runs hard, got great speed, used his vision well today." Team's biggest homerun threat.
Lewan - "we should have played Ricky Barnum too some." They'll decide if a few more guys should have gotten onto the field. "If we'd have payed better, we could have played more guys. Didn't happen, so we've gotta play we've we've got to to win the game."
"We have some warts, that's still out there. Let's not pretend that we're the 1985 Chicago Bears." Have to play with passion, intensity, and intelligence in all 3 phases, but especially on D. Didn't get better today, but the guys know without being told that they need to work hard this week.
Some of D struggles lack of execution - missed tackles, losing contain, "there's a lot of things that we've gotta clean up, and everybody knows that." Going against a different scheme this week, made some mistakes. Has to watch film to compare where the breakdowns were. Losing contain to our left was bad, because they knew it would happen coming in. Lost contain 5-6 times at least.
Kovacs strip - scored quickly, then got the turnover for 2 quick scores. Momentum with the ball in third quarter. Didn't happen to shut them down and put the game out of reach. "They played well." Went into the UMass locker room to tell them that.
Special teams - The return game was OK, a couple times Darryl almost broke one. Missed only field goal, kick coverage needs to improve. Kickers make them in practice. Will just dropped the snap on the block.
Thought Seth Broekhuizen kicked better for kickoffs. Placekicking - "We had a student body tryout. Any student out there... we'll have another tryout for you.
"You never know" how many points you'll need to win. UMass is a good team. "They gave us a run for our money." The D carried the offense last week, so in the team concept, it's time to pay it back a bit. "They'll make some corrections, and so will we."
Came out slow, but for the most part did a good job executing. Offense knew they were shooting themselves in the foot early, just started executing better.
"On that play, I'm usually a backside outlet" on the long TD reception. Omameh and Grady did a good job blocking to open the hole.
Last time he scored 2 TDs back-to-back like in the second quarter was in high school. Personal breakthrough game? "With all the talent we have at receiver, you never know who's gonna be the hot hand for the week." Just his job to show the coaches he's capable of making plays. He and Roy joking about who would be the guy this week.
On his long (non-TD) reception "Denard fakes the sprintout, and we knew that the whole defense is gona key to his running." Just had to run past the cornerback.
Denard throwing: "His accuracy and his... total quartebrack, just being a pocket passer." His accuracy has improved. Puts the ball where the receivers can run away from the defender after the catch.
"[Denard] told me on the sideline, mid second quarter, that he was gonna start giving up the ball a lot more." Denard's been getting yards because Ds are keying Shaw instead of Denard. Today was different. Other guys need to step up so the offense can click without Denard having to do it all. "We have playmakers, but now we're coming into our own as an offense."
There's no way to tell from film who the end is keying on. Had an idea they'd try to contain Denard (like ND, which didn't work out for them).
He was trying to hit the hole fast early in the game, but the DL was 2-gapping the OL, so he tried to hesitate on his long TD run to make sure he had the right read.
Offensive pressure opposite that D? "We added pressure to ourselves." Held each other up each of the past two weeks. Denard kept the team poised when they were down 17-7.
Special team struggles? "I don't really expect our kicking game to miss kicks. We all have faith in all of our teammates." Offense's job is to score TDs and not have to rely on those guys as much. "Those 40-yard kicks can turn into 2-yard extra points."
UMass held onto the ball well. Defense didn't do their job to get them off the field. "You've gotta give them a lot of credit they're a very good team. Maybe they caught us off guard." "They've got some big offensive linemen, I know it's nothing like we'll see in the Big Ten."
"We're happy that we didn't lose, but we're not satisfied with the way that we played defensively." Defensive play overall: "Clearly it's disappointing." Better to have that happen in a game that they still win, instead of have them cause a loss.
On his strip and recovery: "At that point in the game, they had a lot of momentum." Knew his team needed a big play, noticed the guy was carrying the ball low.
Losing contain - "Tough to see defensively. I'll admit that it happened to me a couple times." Need to get back to fundamentals and responsibilities. Would have been a different story if everyone executed well.
"We never underestimate a team. We're not good enough to just walk in and get a victory." The team just has to play hard. "I think a focus that we needed" was lacking. Had a good week of practice. Need to get back to fundamentals this week in practice. "Michigan came out with a victory, and that's all we can ask for."
UMass offensive line - "They had a good line. They were smart and they did a good job with positioning their bodies a certain way." Called some plays to keep UMass unbalanced, disguise some things. They did a god job reacting.
Fighting through doubles. "It feels good as a nose guard because you don't get a lot of chances to be free." If you hit a rock over and over and it breaks after 100th hit, it's not the 100th hit that breaks the rock, it was the 99 before that.
Fewer sacks - "We've just gotta keep playing hard." Last year, it took BG 4 games to get a sack, there's still a lot of football to play.
Cam Gordon int/fumble "That's tough. I think it's just one of those freak things." The way it happened, they didn't complain and just went to go play the next play.
The team has done a good job not getting worried, pointing finger. "That's what we did in the past and we've done a better job this year in that aspect." Just do your job to win.
Coach went over a few things on the drawing board, and the halftime message was to go out and play as hard as they can for the final 30 minutes.
Make sure guys buckle down and get ready for Bowling Green.
UMass is a good team on both sides of the ball. "We watched film and knew they was pretty good." The team just came out sluggish. Can't come out sluggish and expect to win. That was the lesson they learned today. Have to re-focus to make sure this doesn't happen next week.
"We just had to focus and everybody had to play as one, play as a team, play smart" when they were down 10. Team started slow, and everyone needed to whole team to play.
"They really didn't contain me, I guess. That's why Shaw had a great game." UMass made that decision, not Denard. "It was great to have [Shaw] running the ball like that." All the running backs are threats, they just needed a D to give them a chance to break out.
"I'm all in for Michigan. Whatever it takes to win. We winning for Michigam, we're not just winning for me." Doesn't care about his stats if they win. "If we get a W, that's good." Nobody's perfect. He knew he wasn't going to go a whole season without throwing a pick. "We're gonna face adversity the whole season."
He thought he would play the whole game, until the coaches tell him otherwise.
On the long Stonum touchdown, "It was designed, he read the blocks perfectly, he made one guy miss, and got going." It was a big shift in momentum before the half. The offense just had to make the plays happen. Everybody knew they had to step it up.
"We've moved from that Notre Dame game, that was last week. And will move on from UMass after we watch film tomorrow to Bowling Green."
|Darryl Stonum||Jr.||Martavious Odoms||Jr.||Roy Roundtree||So.*||Kevin Koger||Jr.|
|Junior Hemingway||Jr.*||Je'Ron Stokes||So.||Kelvin Grady||Jr.*||Martell Webb||Sr.|
|Jeremy Jackson||Fr.||Jerald Robinson||Fr.||Terrance Robinson||So.*||Brandon Moore||So.*|
The situation here is similar to tailback, where Michigan doesn't exactly have a proven star but they do have a ton of options. Outside, Darryl Stonum could blow up, Junior Hemingway could stay healthy, and Martavious Odoms could be a quick blockin' bugger that springs other guys to big gains. In the slot, Roy Roundtree will act as team safety blanket and any of the three guys behind him could provide the woop-gone YAC Darius Reynaud gave West Virginia. At tight end, if Kevin Koger can catch the easy ones he'll be a lethal complement to the zone read.
The bottom here isn't bad, as it consists of a ton of throws to Roundtree and decent contributions all around. The top is enticing, with silly yards per catch possible on the outside and chain-moving consistency on the inside.
Greg Mathews has graduated, a couple kids left the program over the past couple years, and Junior Hemingway is destined to be hit by a meteor in week three, so Michigan's getting creative at outside receiver by moving slot-sized slot Martavious Odoms outside. Despite Odoms' diminutive stature, this makes sense given the situation. Below you can see Odoms doing some catching and all that, but you can also see him chop much bigger guys to the ground time and again. When my Florida recruiting source said Odoms was a "tough SOB" he was not kidding:
|WILL HEADBUTT YOU|
|a precious thing forever|
|fantastic block on the nickelback|
|NOT BREASTON BUT WHO IS|
|squeezes up the sideline|
|avoids the tackle|
|digs this out w/ guy on his back|
|lays it in there|
|lays it in beautifully|
|Odoms reels it in|
Last year everyone was down on Odoms despite his productive freshman year (he was Michigan's leading receiver) because of a series of fumbles late, when it was cold and he was wondering how many limbs he had because he certainly couldn't feel more than two. There was a pretty terrible diary around these parts that met with a strong response. People got strained. Futures were question. It was tense.
For my part, I was "skeptical any slot would beat him out" and "bet on a lot of hurried backtracking" after the year; one half out of two ain't bad. Odoms didn't exactly get beat out but no one's wresting Roy Roundtree's job from him after he blew up in the last third of the year, and while people claiming Odoms sucks are thin on the ground these days any backtracking was steady, possibly even languorous. Fumbles were reduced but not erased as Odoms lost his punt return job to Junior Hemingway. He faded into Bolivian at the end of the year.
So he's at a crossroads. The question is how effective will Odoms be on the outside. No one really knows since all we have to go on are some vanilla scrimmages from spring and fall during which deep passes were anomalies. Things we do know:
- Odoms was 16/17 on easy catches last year (presumably these were a lot of bubble screens), 4/6 on moderately tough ones, and 1/3 on very tough ones.
- He was a receiver for five(!) years at Pahokee after signing up in eighth grade and has played inside and out since.
- He is really short.
We don't have a lot of information about his routes, but he did smoke Indiana safety Nick Polk on that game-winning touchdown. Limited touches after were probably not his fault. He certainly had decent enough hands, though a double-clutch here and there led to frustrating incompletions on the wheel routes he ran frequently.
By moving outside, Odoms has ceded most of the screens to Kelvin Grady and Roy Roundtree and will see his per-game production drop. He'll still be involved, though how much depends more on Roundtree, Stonum, the tight ends, and the tailbacks, all of whom seem to offer either more big-play ability or reliability than a 5'8" outside receiver. Odoms is likely to finish in the middle of the Michigan receiver pack with between 20 and 30 catches.
|in between levels in the zone|
|bursts open 20 yards downfield|
|Mike Floyd catches this, right?|
Darryl Stonum has been something of a disappointment his first couple years. Last year the conversation in re: Stonum was largely about pages and the benefits of getting on the same one with the coaches. When it wasn't, it was about dropped balls. When the season rolled around Stonum started every game but came up with such a paucity of highlights that I've got more on Patrick Omameh, an offensive lineman who played in three games, than him. HIs stats boggle the mind: 13 catches for 199 yards, one fewer catch than he managed as a freshman. End of stats.
As a result, Stonum came up for repeated psychoanalysis in UFR, most of it focusing on his inability to adjust to balls thrown downfield. Against Eastern this happened:
This occasioned a long section about how Forcier left this short but this was the week after ND, when 1) Stonum turned a very makeable deep catch into something almost impossible by turning inside when he had five yards of room to the sideline and 2) Mike Floyd turned Michigan cornerbacks into roadkill. The resulting consternation:
I'm grabbing this just so people can maybe talk about Stonum's adjustment to this. I think it's poor. He misjudges the ball and doesn't slow up enough and turn, which would probably have led to the DB running him over and a PI call. Mike Floyd [or Braylon Edwards] catches this, right?
This persisted; after the Wisconsin game I launched the "same old complaint" when Stonum failed to adjust to a poorly-thrown deep ball and allowed it to get intercepted when he really should have been able to at least bat it down.
Receivers often take time to break out, but the really amazing ones often get there their sophomore years (Braylon, Manningham, and Howard all blew up in year two), so expectations were busily being scaled back when… my gawd, that's Rick Vaughn's music!
Yes, for the second consecutive year Michigan has discovered one of their wideout needs glasses. You'd think that after the coaches discovered one of their wideouts was secretly blind as a bat they would have declared mandatory eye exams for all, but they didn't, so the above clips happened and everyone was very sad. Now? Well, Stonum's reportedly had an outstanding fall camp:
"This is the most consistent we've had Darryl on a day-to-day basis. He's going to be a big factor for us. He's a very talented guy that has a renewed sense of hunger."
As his recruiting profile suggested and kick returns showed, he has electric speed. The coaches seem to be on the same page with him. The quarterbacks are not going to be freshmen. He can now see the damn ball. He could totally blow up, or he could rack up 20 catches and have a version of that year Steve Breaston had after Edwards graduated where it became clear to all that he just didn't have it downfield. I have no idea what it will be, which makes Stonum the offense's #1 X factor going into the season. He can swing games by himself if he lives up to the chatter. A real live deep threat in an offense helmed by Denard Robinson can be preposterous: Chris Henry averaged 25 yards a catch(!!!) his freshman year at West Virginia.
That's Stonum's best case: not that many catches, but a lot of long ones and some game-swinging touchdowns. The worst case is more of the same.
|other end of Forcier improv|
|one little shimmy and is then by|
|caught from behind on bomb|
|big punt return.|
|leaping catch in traffic|
Odoms's move outside pushes Angry Michigan BLANK Hating God's favorite target to the bench, at least nominally. After Junior Hemingway missed spring ball to go along with missing most of 2008 and spending 2009 at half-speed with an array of Minor-like injuries that were just tolerable enough for him to play, it seems like the Michigan coaches finally decided they couldn't rely on him to be around long term and placed him on the bench. Since receiver's a spot at which rotation is incessant he'll get his share of time, leaving the move mostly symbolic, but it is a symbol.
Surprisingly for a guy who barely outpaced Stonum last year with 16 catches, he's got a substantial highlight reel you can see at right. He was also named "first among equals" after the Western game. It's mostly deep stuff: burning Western Michigan, exploiting Illinois over-reacting to a play, burning Illinois and then getting caught from behind, etc. As recruit his rep was an explosive leaper who lacked top-end speed—I compared him to Marquise Walker—and that has been borne out. It's tough to tell if his meh career to date is underperformance or just three years of terrible luck. If he can stay on the field he should be a solid, useful addition to the receiving corps. He's 225 pounds, which makes him a slant threat not duplicated elsewhere on the roster, and last year he was 10/10 on easy catches and 2/3 on moderate ones. His hands are good.
He should have a role and improve on his 16 catches of a year ago, although possibly not by much.
The single other outside wide receiver with any experience is sophomore Je'Ron Stokes, a six-foot guy with excellent athleticism who could have played in the slot if that wasn't already being fought over by four or five guys. Stokes was just outside of top 100 lists as a recruit. Michigan snatched him away from Tennessee after their coach implosion. The takeaway from the recruiting profile:
An electrifying game breaker with excellent speed, Stokes could use more size on his current 6’1” and 180 pound frame. He has great hands, knows how to get open, makes a lot of acrobatic catches and is terrific after the catch.
He's got a bit more size now, checking in at 193 at last report. He was another guy who blew his redshirt last year; his single highlight last year was digging out a low ball dubbed CONESTRAVAGANZA I in the late stages of the Baby Seal U game. He was injured in the spring and only came on late, but he was also pretty much absent from the fall scrimmage; another year mostly on the bench seems likely.
The third string is all freshmen. The only one to appear on the official fall depth chart was Jeremy Jackson (profile), the "lumbering" son of running backs coach Fred Jackson. Lumbering he may be but he's also the son of a coach and has the route running skills and hands you'd expect from such a gritty gritterson of a player. He'll play, likely sparingly. That should mean that classmates Ricardo Miller (profile) and Jerald Robinson (profile) are headed for redshirts.
Roy Roundtree's second catch as a Michigan Wolverine was a game-tying touchdown in the pouring rain against Michigan State. This was a good omen. Over the next few games his playing time increased, though his catches remained infrequent because he was seemingly targeted only when it was a terrible idea to do so. Then Odoms got injured. Roundtree announced his presence with that 77-yard catch-and-run against Illinois about which we will speak no more, then showed Purdue the true power of snake oil:
A good day from the receivers, and by "receivers" we mean "Roy Roundtree." The one drop didn't hurt much since it was on a screen that was going to get blown up anyway. Minor could have helped out by pulling in a low throw by Forcier, too. Other than that: Roundtree, Roundtree, Roundtree. The 1 he pulled in prevented an interception on Michigan's first drive of the day, converted a first down, and lead to a touchdown.
Plus he did this:
Martavious Odoms just saw his job come under howitzer fire. Odoms has been valuable, too, so he won't just go away, but Kelvin Grady's time just got eaten up and I think Roundtree is the starter even when Odoms is healthy. This might also presage some dual-slot formations that have been absent so far in Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan. Kid's pretty good, and quicker than you'd think given the Hawthorne incident last week.
|catching in the rain|
|trucks a safety|
|great, great block|
|inverting an interception|
|20-yard dart downfield|
|pitch and catch|
|dig it out, dig it out|
Did I mention that Roundtree was last year's Rick Vaughn? All hail occasionally checking your receivers' vision. Someone check Denard Robinson right freakin' now.
Roundtree continued his rampage over the last two weeks of the season against Wisconsin and Ohio State, yielding this season breakdown:
- First eight games: two catches, 44 yards.
- Last four games: 30 catches, 390 yards.
Project the last four games over the course of a season and you get 90 catches, 1200 yards, and a season second only to Braylon Edwards's 2004 campaign in the annals of Michigan lore. So… yeah. That's probably not going to happen. But it would be pretty cool i it did, huh? More realistically, Roundtree should double his output from last year, ending up Michigan's leading receiver with 700-800 yards.
For the record, last year Roundtree was 16/16 on easy catches, 4/8 on moderately difficult ones, and brought in his only super-tough attempt of the year by wresting away a sure interception from a Purdue linebacker. He's not that big. He's pretty fast but not that fast. He's not that shifty after the catch. But he's open and he's where he's supposed to be, which is right in front of the quarterback, and he'll catch the ball. So they throw it, and he catches it, and yeah he's basically the apotheosis of the Purdue receiver.
EXCESSIVELY DRAMATIC KELVIN GRADY WALLPAPER FTW
Basketball refugee Kelvin Grady's found himself in an impressive position on the depth chart by warranting an OR with Roundtree. This represents progress; Grady's 2009 was cut short by frequent dropped balls. By Iowa one was enough to yank him or the game. Late in the year UFR noted that nine of the twelve flat drops on the year had been turned in by the tight ends and Grady. After the Illinois game, Roundtree was contrasted with Grady because when Roundtree "is thrown a ball that hits him in the hands it does not fall to the ground." You get the idea: hands not so good.
That's perhaps understandable after Grady thought he'd left football behind for good when he signed up to play point guard for Tommy Amaker. After two years on the basketball team he found himself behind walk-on, read the writing on the wall, and picked up the cleats again. The rust was evident.
But Grady just keeps making plays in practice. That was the reason he was given the opportunity to drop those balls early in the year even with Odoms in front of him and Roundtree nipping at his heels, and the reason he's listed as a co-starter on the depth chart despite Roundtree's stunning end of year breakout. He featured in more "Countdown to Kickoff" highlights than any other non-quarterback; in the fall scrimmage he certainly looked like a top-level option, once taking a reverse from Robinson to score on a one-play, 30-yard drive. A review of his high school highlights reveals the sort of explosive agility that Michigan's other slots seem to lack:
As a bonus, since he was a high school running back he'll be better suited to those spread 'n' shred plays where a slot receiver motions into the backfield to become a second running back. It's hard to imagine Roy Roundtree doing that, so adding Grady to the rotation adds pages to the playbook. He'll see time, and could even supplant Roundtree as the preferred destination for quick screens… if the hands come around.
The backup story remains the same, except older. Terrence Robinson's first two seasons at Michigan have resulted in an injury redshirt and one catch for 13 yards against Baby Seal U. He was fairly prominent in spring and fall, though not nearly as much as Grady was, and is in competition for the punt return job. His problem has always been hands—he was mostly a QB/RB in high school—and that's prevented him from seeing the field. With two guys in front of him it seems like it will be another season spent watching. He'll probably get some real playing time when Grady is tired and Michigan is looking for their slot to be one of those RB/WR flex guys in the mold of Dorrell Jalloh.
Freshman Jeremy Gallon (profile) took a redshirt last year after arriving late because of some academic issues. He should find the field some this year but reports from practice suggest that Gallon did not put in the same sort work some of the other wideouts did and that this will hamper his playing time. Also an issue is a foot issue that isn't severe enough to keep him out of practice but does warrant walking around campus in a boot.
Gallon was a (figuratively) big recruit from a couple years ago, a one-time member of the Rivals 100 and solid performer at the Army Bowl who is by far the most guru-approved of any Michigan slot receiver. With two older and more established options in front of him, his best chance for playing time will be taking return duties away from Odoms.
Also, here is your annual reminder that he is a dead ringer for Snoop from The Wire:
Finally, freshman Drew Dileo (profile) looked pretty smooth this fall but is a very tiny true freshman. If he finds a role this fall it will be on punt returns.
Kevin Koger started the year off in Braylon Edwards fashion by reeling in 3/4 passes rated 2 (difficult but makeable) and 3/4 rated 1 (great googly moogly). He then finished the year off in Braylon Edwards fashion by dropping every routine ball that came his way. The result was schizophrenic: by the end of the year Koger was 7/10 on tough catches… and 7/11 on easy ones. Matters came to a head against Penn State:
Koger's great start came to a clunky halt with an 0/3 day, and no one really helped out except for the running backs. Forcier's day wasn't good, but it wasn't as bad as the numbers suggest.
He added another "bad drop" against Illinois. That and backup Martell Webb's similarly frustrating hands is part of the reason Roy Roundtree blew up in the last three games.
Koger did not exactly bounce back from this over the offseason, dropping a couple passes in the fall scrimmage and being conspicuously absent from offseason chatter both above- and underground. With depth at slot looking healthy, the entire tight end position could see itself minimized if they don't perform.
There's a good chance they will, though, with all three players returning. Koger himself is entering his true junior season; as a highly sought recruit with a year and a half of starting experience under his belt he should improve considerably. The downers from last season do consist of four dropped passes, after all. Two fewer and everyone's talking about how it will be pick your poison underneath. Small sample size disclaimers apply. When you look at the stuff at right it's hard to envision a guy with that much talent finding himself minimized, especially when Denard-related freakouts see him hand-wavingly wide open frequently.
|Webb's great block|
|picks the playside DT up|
|crushing downfield block|
|Kicks out LB|
|in a sea of green wondering where everyone else is.|
Senior Martell Webb has seen the most playing time to date. He was an infrequent target a year ago. The quarterbacks threw him six passes, one of which was uncatchable and the rest routine. He was only 3/5 on those routine balls, possibly explaining why he wasn't targeted on them more often. He put on 12 pounds from last fall to spring, then took a couple off during the summer and is now a solid 255.
Koger's blocking has been iffy, and while Webb didn't stick out in my memory as a crusher all but one of the clips at left are positive run blocks: he's likely to be the choice when Michigan goes to its I package. Unless he has an epiphany about having the ball in his hands (and Koger doesn't) his receiving stats are going to look a lot like they did last year. Throwing it to him is plan G when you've got three receivers, guys like Vincent Smith coming out of the backfield, and a considerably more dynamic starter at tight end. Webb's a fullback, basically.
The third and final scholarship tight end on the roster is redshirt sophomore Brandon Moore. He was a highly touted recruit with loads of offers when he committed to Michigan early in the hybrid Carr/Rodriguez class, but then dropped off with an indifferent senior year. Since his arrival he's been locked behind Koger and Webb—the only clip I have of him is a catch against Baby Seal U. Without any buzz otherwise, that will likely continue this year.