I like Fitzgerald Toussaint. Think the kid has a bright future if his various limbs stay functional. Enjoy his running style. Get emails from time to time declaring "I don't know what you see in this kid." Sit and ponder these emails. Shake fist. Decide to write post about it. Fitzgerald. Toussaint.
So here's a reason I like Fitzgerald Toussaint: I think his vision and his shake are plus pitches, to borrow from another sport. Here's an example. It's first and ten on the SDSU 16 late in the fourth quarter with Michigan driving to clinch the game. On the next play Vincent Smith will jackrabbit his way into the endzone, but to set that up Michigan's going to Toussaint.
If this looks familiar, it should. This was one of the staple formations of the Rodriguez years. Here's Tate running it in the 2009 ND game:
Rodriguez would often send the TE backside to block the otherwise unblocked EMLOS as a counter to scrape exchanges. TE kicks out the guy coming down the line; WLB flies out to contain Robinson on the zone read, and viola:
[one of many examples that have been DMCAed by Thought Equity Motion.]
Michigan did this on the previous play. It was the first time they'd run it all game and it worked like a charm, opening up a huge lane for Toussaint to hit. He did so for eleven yards. When Michigan goes back to the well a second time things will be different.
SDSU's 3-3-5 was less dynamic than advertised. Instead of blitzing like mad from everywhere to mimic different fronts, it was mostly content to line up as very small 3-4s and 4-3s and run twist stunts from them. On this play they actually line up in the stack, which was rare.
On the snap the TE pulls backside as the mesh approaches.
Robinson sees the OLB headed upfield at him and hands off:
The problem is Koger is kicking out the QB contain guy:
This is very similar to problems Michigan had running this play against Illinois last year. When the scraper is hugging the backs of the OL TEs often miss him and head to the obvious guy on the outside. Once your pulling TE whacks the contain guy you've given up the advantage gained by optioning him off and are back to—horror—regular old 3.9 YPC running. When this happened against the Illini, Michigan gained a yard.
Since Huyge has released downfield there is an unblocked EMLOS tasked with the tailback on a play that usually tries to go backside. (This is a zone, but it is a zone with an idea of where it's going to end up.) Omameh is actually doing a good job on his guy since the play design nominally expects the ball to go behind him. Unfortunately, that means there's nowhere to go further playside. There is no room.
So Toussaint makes some. In the above frame you can see he's evaluated his situation and is about to take a critical step. This is what he does with it:
That's weird. It's easier to see on the video, but Toussaint takes this jab step outside and then bursts back upfield.
This little jab step… what is it? He slows for a half-beat and sticks that leg out as if he's going to veer outside, then shifts direction and heads away from the scraper. Is it just instinct, or is it a deliberate attempt to set up his block? Does Toussaint even know? This happened in a blink. This may be one of those things even the person doing it can't explain.
The result is most apparent on the guy Omameh is blocking:
In frame one the NT has already committed his momentum to the other side of Omameh's block because of the jab step; in frame two he's kindly GTFOed, giving Toussaint a lane as Schofield and Molk donkey a linebacker who blitzed into them. Toussaint set this up with the step, which convinced the NT he needed to fight to the other side of Omameh without slowing him down enough for the unblocked scraper to catch him.
Result: Toussaint runs up his OL's backs for nine yards.
Watch it twice. Watch the step, and then focus on Omameh and the guy he's blocking. See that yank that suddenly repositions the defender? That's the NT moving himself to where he thinks he needs to be.
Will this be consistent from Toussaint? This is a play SDSU RPSed that Toussaint made into nine yards almost by himself with that jab step. Is that a fair representation of his vision and his ability to make split-second decisions that get him lanes other guys don't, or was it getting lucky? I don't know, but I do know that the last couple weeks I've had occasion to use "lovely" more than once to describe a Toussaint run. Early returns are "not lucky."
Back to the well. Yeah, this wrinkle was a Rodriguez staple. It worked like you draw it up the first time. This time it worked like you don't draw it up; Smith would come in and run it a third time for a touchdown, but he'd have to weave his way through defenders to do so. I'm not sure whether running it three times in a row was a good idea—it worked but clearly SDSU adjusted to it. Against better run defenses this might end up going splat. To be fair, the third one was a second and one from the seven.
Coaching points with coach Rod. In the Illinois game Michigan adjusted to the Illinois adjustment by the end of the game, coaching that pulling TE to ID the scraper hiding behind the line and blocking him into the endzone for a touchdown. It'll be interesting to see whether Michigan makes that adjustment if necessary in future games.
Further wrinkles. So there was this, which was brought out right at the end of the game, and the speed option you've heard and read so much about, a speed option that seemed to use outside zone "basketball on grass" blocking. That's an encouraging echo of the Rodriguez ground game, when most games of import saw new features being deployed.
So my youtube account has been closed after a series of copyright claims by one of the companies that goes around doing that. Thus no video as I try to sort it out with them. They did get back to my email and I should get a call in w/ a relevant person shortly. We'll see how that goes.
Substitution notes: Status quo, mostly. Smith and Toussaint are obviously the top two backs this instant. Odoms is still an infrequent participant because of the cast; Dileo appears to be in front of Jackson and Jerald Robinson (who we still haven't seen) beyond Hemingway/Roundtree/Gallon on the depth chart.
Schofield got in a bit, once as a goal-line tight end and once spotting Barnum late. I believe that was a shoe issue.
Formation notes: A heavier dose of shotgun than Borges was calling for for obvious reasons. Michigan's using a little motion from the gun now, something RR never did, and this semi-stack formation is making somewhat frequent appearances:
That's still shotgun trips to me, FWIW.
Show? Depleted show.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M35||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-4 under||Run||Iso||Toussaint||8|
|Running at the backside gap left by the under shift. Good combo block by Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) kicks out a DT and gets Omameh on to the MLB. Huyge(+1) locks out playside DT; McColgan(+1) crumbles WLB. Toussaint can just go straight upfield.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Huyge, McColgan||RUN-:|
|M43||2||2||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-5 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||Robinson||4|
|Both safeties in the box. Michigan goes to the pin and pull we've seen a few times that is apparently their preferred outside running play. EMU slants to it and prevents any of their guys from getting sealed(RPS -1). They have this killed, basically, except the backside DT gets way upfield and stumbles when he should be tackling Robinson on his slow-as-hell cutback. No points for anyone. Lucky. Q: why not throw the long handoff here? Or a hitch or something?|
|M47||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel under||Pass||Tunnel screen||Robinson||14|
|Denard pulls it down. I'm not sure why since the WR seems open. Hesitant after last week, or can he see this is going to get crushed because a DT is going to release right into it? I guess I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Screen gone he's got guys in his face and Denards it for a first down. (SCR, N/A, N/A. Target: Gallon)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-4 under||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||4|
|Linebackers are already sprinting at the mesh point, so this is tough. Backside DE forms up; correct handoff. Omameh and Huyge(+1) execute a good combo block on the local DT, kicking him out. Omameh is about to release into the second level when the sprinting linebacker is in his face. Omameh manages to get a shove on him. Unblocked MLB sitting in the hole now; Toussaint cuts back, where Huyge's block and the delay on the backside DE by the read fake get him a few yards. RPS -1.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge||RUN-:|
|O35||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Okie?||Run||QB power||Robinson||1|
|No one in a three point stance here as EMU gets fancy. Michigan runs power at it and has a huge hole... and a guy running at Robinson right behind the down-blocking Barnum(-2). Barnum's fault, sure, but also an RPS -1. The other blocks are easy by design here so no pluses. RUN-: Barnum(2)|
|O34||3||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel press||Pass||Dumpoff||Smith||Inc|
|Huyge(-1) beaten by the EMU DE. Bodes unwell. Robinson does have enough time to get to a second read after he doesn't like the first. Why? Not sure. Hemingway had separation and was running an open in for a first down, but the two(!) spies EMU is running are reading his eyes and might leap to bat it or worse. He checks to Smith running an out in front of a linebacker. Throw is a little bit off but Smith just drops this. (CA, 3, protection ½, Huyge)|
|O34||4||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||3||Nickel press||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||Int|
|EMU sends two up the middle and it's picked up well enough by the rest of the line; Smith(-1) gets chucked on his block attempt and only delays his guy briefly. Denard throws a hitch to a pretty well covered Hemingway. He's got a window if he throws it a bit upfield; instead it's way too far inside and the EMU DB has a play on the ball. To his credit, he makes it. (IN, 0, protection 2/3, Smith –1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 9 min 1st Q. Both of these last two passes were accurate-ish but made more difficult by tight coverage.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M1||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-4 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||1|
|Koger(-2) stood up by the DE he's assigned to on the goal line; DE fights his way inside of him and completely prevents any hole outside. Toussaint sees this and starts cutting backside. He may have a hole but Koger's block was so poor his guy comes up to tackle. RUN-: Koger(2)|
|Batted back in his face. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M2||3||9||Shotgun trips||1||0||3||Nickel||Pass||Rollout sack||Robinson||0|
|Smith(-2) whiffs his cut on the edge and these routes, which all look long, do not have a chance to develop. Denard steps up and is swarmed. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Smith -2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M21||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-4 under||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||-1|
|Moore(-2) is blown up by the DE opposite him, who plows into the backfield and removes blockers and any semblance of a hole. Also they're running from the I against nine in the box. I remember handing out RPS -1s for these in the DeBord era. RUN-: Moore(2)|
|M20||2||11||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA Wheel||Koger||Inc|
|Yay second and 11 play action from a formation we average 2 YPC from. EMU has two deep safeties, a rarity, and the linebackers don't bite at all. One of them gets a chuck on Koger just as Denard releases the ball on his wheel route. This is pretty awesome: Koger fake blocks for three seconds and then releases and the EMU LB is right there waiting for him. I think this (no PI) is legit since the contact started before the ball was in the air and was not maintained too long. Actually a good throw without the coverage. The rare (CA, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)|
|Four man rush on which Omameh and Molk block a guy, and then both stop blocking him. In Molk's case it was to peel off and block a guy who had beaten Barnum; Omameh blocks air. Denard is pressured, avoids a sack, avoids another sack, steps up, and rifles a ball eight yards over someone's head. Not even sure who. Tacopants special. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Barnum -1, Omameh -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M3||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||52|
|Why everyone has forgotten how to defend this I'll never know. Basic zone read, DE crashes down, TE heads for OLB, other LBs rush to frontside of play, Denard in open field. He accelerates past two guys and rips off a big one. Tree gets a great block AAAAAH. RPS +3.|
|RUN+: Robinson(3), Roundtree(2)||RUN-:|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Down G||Robinson||4|
|EMU DE does a great job recognizing the pull and backing out once he's left unblocked; he drops out, gets wide, picks off Toussaint, and forces the play inside. +2 that guy. Since Omameh and Molk have both pulled the backside D is running down the line—Barnum has no shot—and tackles from behind. They still get some yards because there's no one in front of Denard thanks to Huyge(+1) getting a good seal on the other NT and Koger(+1) improvising to peel off and block a linebacker after the DE exited stage left.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Koger||RUN-:|
|O41||2||6||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB power||Robinson||-2|
|Barnum(-3) pulls and inexplicably runs by the blitzing LB, who plasters Denard. If that's picked up he might be able to dance for considerable yardage.|
|O43||3||8||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Nickel press||Run||QB draw||Robinson||22|
|This is a complete fiasco (RPS -1). EMU sends two blitzers; Michigan lets one through and picks up another at the expense of letting a DT through unblocked. Smith(+1) picks off one LB, and Denard(+3) jets past that DT—lucky. I think Barnum was right there to get the LB—closest to the play—and Lewan(-1) had to slide to make the far side DE the threat. After Denard passes the DT he's got smooth sailing since Molk(+2) and Omameh(+2) have kicked the crap out of two defenders. Denard cuts back for extra yardage, then fumbles(-3) because he's not carrying it high and tight.|
|RUN+: Robinson(3), Molk(2), Omameh(2), Smith||RUN-: Lewan, Robinson(3)|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE flat||Koger||12|
|EMU in man; guy on Koger blasts into one of his own guys and falls. Wide open. Denard's getting quick pressure and flicks a soft one to Koger; he turns it up for good yardage. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power||Robinson||0|
|Denard checks into a bad play; EMU slants to this. Molk(-1) senses the slant and tries to pass his guy off to Omameh(-1), who is unprepared. This is for no purpose since Lewan has handled the backside DE. Robinson cuts back right into this dude and gets planted. RUN-: Omameh, Molk|
|O9||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||PA quick seam||Koger||9|
|Zone read fake into a quick seam. LBs take one step to the LOS and that's all M needs. Good timing, catch, touchdown. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||5|
|EMU scrape exchange does not sucker Denard; he hands off. EMU slants playside; Toussaint(+1) cuts behind it. Unfortunately, Koger is blocking the backside DE along with Huyge so the MLB is unblocked and can react to the cutback. Need one of those guys to hit it up in the hole and Toussaint is into the secondary. I want to minus one of Koger or Huyge for a missed assignment but no idea who. Ohh: team. RUN-: Team|
|RUN+: Omameh, Toussaint||RUN-: Team|
|M18||2||5||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-4 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||Robinson||-2|
|All right, I'm officially annoyed at this play. It's crap. It's hard to execute, never gives you cutbacks, and doesn't allow Molk to reach fools. Why not use the stretch? Here a blitzer off the edge gets past three blockers, forcing a cutback, where hard-flowing EMU defenders cut Denard down. RPS -2. RUN-: Shaw(2)|
|M16||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||Rollout fly||Hemingway||Inc|
|Too long. Stupid route package on third and medium-ish. Literally no short routes (RPS -1). (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 5 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||12|
|Derpity doo. Backside DE plunges inside; no scrape. Denard pulls. Slot LB chucks Dileo. Denard pulls, runs, etc. Stupidly easy. RPS +2.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Robinson||RUN-:|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Down G||Robinson||12|
|Omameh and Molk pull; Huyge(-1) ignores the playside DT. That's a problem, but it's kind of his job since he's pulling (RPS –1). DT gets into the pullers way fast. Denard has to hold up, reverse field, and beat everyone to the backside of the play. He breaks a kid's ankles out there for fun. No video : (|
|RUN+: Robinson(3)||RUN-: Huyge(2)|
|M37||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||???||Run||Down G||Smith||38|
|Finally they execute this stuff correctly, or at least I think so. It's possible Omameh still screwed up but we come to the play late as Lewan(+2) is plowing the playside DE inside and pullers are pulling. Barnum(+1) nails a linebacker. Koger(+2) kicks out a defensive end authoritatively. Smith(+1)... runs behind this stuff. Molk has no one to block, even. Hemingway(+2) plows an EMU DB into the sideline, allowing Smith to cut back behind him(+1) again, wherupon Molk(+1) whacks some pursuers. Keys here are Koger and Lewan and Barnum.|
|RUN+: Smith, Lewan(2), Koger, Barnum, Molk, Hemingway||RUN-:|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||3|
|This opens up beautifully as EMU's dudes get way upfield (RPS +1) but Robinson cuts it backside when he's got Tousssaint leading him through a huge hole frontside. This kills all the blocking angles.|
|RUN+: Molk||RUN-: Robinson(2)|
|O22||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||11|
|This is a lovely little run. EMU WLB is scraping on Robinson, albeit slowly. EMU is slanting over the top. Omameh(+1) pancakes his guy and Huyge(+1) controls his, shooting him down the line; Toussaint(+2) reads the blocking and has the darting agility to cut back behind the Huyge block, avoid the scraping LB's tackle as he recovers, come back inside Molk's block of the MLB, and almost burst into the secondary before an ankle tackle takes him down.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Huyge, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB power||Robinson||11|
|EMU slants hard and M adjusts well. Playside DT slants past Lewan; Barnum(+1) finds him and kicks him down the line. He dead. Molk(+1) buries the other guy. Lewan(+2) releases straight downfield and clobberates the MLB, but it's Koger(+2) who wins block of the play by adjusting to a DE slanting under him and pounding him inside to pancake. From there it's easy.|
|RUN+: Koger(2), Lewan(2), Barnum, Molk||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-3, 39 sec 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power read||Robinson||8|
|Insert scare quotes around read in that play description—I don't think this is an actual read. Line blocks down and Huyge pulls around, aiming for the hole between Barnum and Lewan. Both those guys get great kickout blocks(+1 each). Molk(+1) is aided by the sweep action that sucks the MLB a step the wrong way; he gets position and spends a long time controlling him. Huyge(+1) picks off the other LB and Denard has acres. Safety comes down quickly to hold the play down. RPS +1 for the ease of these blocks thanks to the misdirection.|
|RUN+: Molk, Lewan, Huyge, Barnum, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M25||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||0|
|EMU has a playcall on to defeat this play, with two guys on the backside of the defense. One heads right for Robinson; handoff. The inside guy hands right for Toussaint, who has to cut back because the over-shifted DL is slanting under the blocks. Toussaint gets nailed by the DT. RPS -2. No chance of this getting yards.|
|M25||3||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||2|
|Running at a crowded area. Adequate kickout from Koger; Omameh is also doing his job on a DT. Huyge(-1) gets chucked by the playside DE, who is now sitting playside where Barnum and Toussaint are trying to block guys. Denard cuts back behind this directly into a charging safety, who gives him a stiff shot. Denard manages to spin off it and just gets the first down.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh||RUN-: Huyge|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel under||Pass||Wheel oh noes||Toussaint||Inc|
|Draw fake into play action. Denard doesn't have much time because there's an unblocked DE in on him; he has to step back and loft one. Linebackers have sucked up, though, and Toussaint's wheel is open for a nice chunk. Denard gets it to him but Toussaint drops it. He then gets lit up because either the throw is too lofted (probably not) or late (probably); still, this should have been 15 yards or so. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|M27||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||27|
|Again Smith is blessed with acres of space as EMU blitzes a linebacker to the frontside of the play; Huyge(+1) kicks him way upfield. Omameh(+1) controls the DT to that side and there's a big gap that opens with no one there to contain. Smith(+1) reads it and is off, his little legs bumping and his little head waving back and forth as he just tries to go so fast. And it does seem like he's outrunning this EMU safety just before he uses the last bits of his angle to tackle. RPS+2; there are like three dudes on the backside surrounding Robinson by the time Smith breaks outside.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge, Smith||RUN-:|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||5|
|LBs slide to the Denard side of a hypothetical zone read. This is a spot where there should be an auto-check to a bubble. EMU line slants playside; backside DE pulls up for contain and Denard hands off. Barnum(+1) is not going to seal his guy and so adjusts, blowing him down the line and providing a cutback lane. Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) blow up their dudes; Lewan(-1) gets a second level block but that guy pops off to the interior to tackle.|
|RUN+: Barnum, Omameh, Molk||RUN-: Lewan|
|O41||2||5||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||3-4 base||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|And then EMU forgets how to defend this again. EMLOS is kicked out by Koger; playside LB blitzes at the RB. Backside DT gets so hammered by Huyge(+1) that Omameh gets nailed by that block as he tries to get out on the MLB, so he can scrape. Robinson sees this and tries to pop outside Koger, does, stops when the contain comes, pops back inside the now-helmetless Koger(+1 for picking up another block), and shoots up for a first down. I think he basically had the first down if he just slams it up, but +1 for entertainment value alone. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Koger, Huyge||RUN-:|
|O33||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Pass||PA TE flat||Koger||Inc|
|Don't like this PA because it's stretch action. Michigan hasn't run a stretch this year. The backside LB does not bite and backs off. Koger is still open; Denard wings it high. Would have been five yards and an instant tackle if accurate. (IN, 2, protection N/A)|
|O33||2||10||I-Form twins||1||2||2||4-4 even||Pass||Fake dive to pitch||Smith||14|
|I have no idea why this should work. It's second and ten. If M hands it to the fullback, EMU OLB, you don't have to care. Unblocked EMLOS sucks in; playside LB does too; Lewan(+1) kills that guy; Molk(+1) gets the other LB, doesn't really matter because the EMLOS is now chasing Smith outside. Once on the corner he gets a fantastic mountain goat block from Odoms(+2) and an almost as good block from Gallon(+1) to pick up the first. He's actually tackled by the pursuing DE; he gets through that and he could be going a long way. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Odoms(2), Lewan, Molk, Gallon||RUN-:|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||12|
|Opens up as Barnum(+1) blows the DT past his intended spot and Robinson holds the EMLOS outside. Molk(+1) and Lewan(+1) get linebackers and this opens up cavernously. Toussaint makes an inexplicable decision to cut back outside instead of trying to shoot past the safety for the endzone but makes up for it by spinning through three(!) EMU tacklers and picking up the first.|
|RUN+: Barnum, Molk, Lewan, Toussaint||RUN-:|
|O7||1||G||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||0|
|Molk(+1) and Barnum(+1) seal and erase the backside DL; big cutback hole. EMU has overloaded the frontside and prevented a gap from forming despite decent blocking out there; Omameh(-1) does not adjust to the reality of the play and runs up Lewan's back; Robinson(-2) misses an obvious cutback lane that would be six points.|
|RUN+: Molk, Barnum||RUN-: Omameh, Robinson(2)|
|O7||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA rollout scramble||Robinson||6|
|Again: stretch action we only use for PA. This is the same play we scored that TD with in the first RR game except this time instead of Shaw releasing into the flat it's Koger. Opponents have this scouted and Koger is blanketed, as is Grady. Robinson engages Tate Mode, starts running around like a lunatic, totally fails to see Toussaint alone in the endzone, and runs down to the one. That's just how he do. (SCR, N/A, N/A)|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan, Barnum||RUN-:|
|O1||3||G||Goal line||2||0||3||Goal line||Run||FB dive||Toussaint||1|
|The third TE is actually Schofield, lined up at LT while Lewan lines up next to Huyge on the right. Borges loves FB dives from the one and orders one up; Toussaint leaps over the pile before EMU defenders can react.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 9 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||QB draw||Robinson||0|
|More of a last year play than the power stuff we've gotten a lot of; Rawls(-1) is the RB and his lead block is running straight into the secondary. Omameh(-1) is shoved back and can't get much of a handle on his DT; Koger(-1) runs straight up his back instead of adjusting, and Denard runs into Koger. Last year these QB draw-type plays were MANBALL plays with both DTs getting doubled, and usually blown off the ball... this draw action is a little goofy given the context. RUN-: Omameh, Rawls, Koger|
|M25||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||5|
|I don't understand defenses this year! DE crashes down, no scraper, pull, problems for D. The playside LB does get outside Lewan, forcing a cutback that's relevant because Molk got confused because he had no one to block, looked around, and ended up not taking the overhang guy to the short side. That guy tackles. RPS +1|
|RUN+: Robinson||RUN-: Molk|
|M30||3||5||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||Drag||Gallon||18|
|Gallon motions in from the outside to more of a slot-type position. EMU sends five on a zone blitz; picked up. Denard has a great pocket and finds Gallon on his drag in front of the zone. Gallon grabs the ball, runs through a tackle, and picks up a nice gain. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|M48||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||Smith||5|
|Argh. The totally unblocked NT follows Molk's pull, causes Molk to peel off to block. Unblocked playside DE takes out the other puller. Lewan(+2) got a great sealing block that gives the weakside LB a terrible choice; he goes upfield and around and erases himself, except he doesn't because a filling safety forces Smith back inside and gets him. This gets five yards with great play from virtually the entire O. RPS -1.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith, Molk||RUN-:|
|O47||2||5||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Pass||Tunnel screen||Gallon||1|
|This never works. You know what would be more effective than this? Throwing it directly to Gallon. His corner is ten yards off him. RPS -1. Also EMU zone blitzes such that they have a DL in a short zone right in front of this. No chance; Gallon does well to get a yard and gets lit up for his trouble. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O48||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||19|
|EMU sends five; picked up. They're in man behind it, so when Omameh blasts the DT way upfield and a lane opens it's easy for Denard to pick up the first. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||6|
|Blitzer off the corner for contain; Robinson hands it off. Another guy on the edge is there for the cutback and gets inside of Koger, but it's not his fault. Lewan(+1) gets a good block to shove the slanting DL down the line and Smith(+1) sees the lane, hitting it for decent yardage. EMU had a good call on and M still got yards. RPS: confused.|
|RUN+: Smith, Lewan||RUN-:|
|O23||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA Rollout comeback||Roundtree||Inc|
|More PA that uses stretch action M never runs. DE out in Robinson's face because he knows Rawls isn't getting the ball. Robinson forms up and has to throw; it's upfield of Roundtree and not a super great throw but he has to get it away from the DB and this isn't that difficult a catch. It's a 2, but with a guy in your face a 16 yard 2 is okay. The real problem is Hemingway was wiiide open for a TD because of a bust and Robinson missed him. Guy in his face, though. (CA, 2, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O23||3||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB iso||Robinson||4|
|Schofield in. This is closer to last year's play. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) double the NT and proceed to drive him back. Molk(+1) then peels off to nail the MLB. The play seems to be going off tackle behind Omameh(-1) but he just passively sits and accepts the opponent like it's a draw. Last year he'd be doubling with the tackle. Denard has to cut behind Omameh, is hesitant, and then hits it up; Lewan(-1) did not control his guy and he comes off to tackle at the sticks.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Schofield||RUN-: Lewan, Omameh|
|O19||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Pin and pull zone||Smith||0|
Clown show: Omameh(-2) pulls and gets three yards upfield, blocking no one ever. Molk was trying to pull too and couldn't because doing so would let the NT into the backfield. Two unblocked LBs tackle Smith at the LOS. RPS -2.
RUN-: Omameh(2), Koger
|O19||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Oh Noes||Dileo||19|
|QB iso to throw, you know the drill. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-3, 1 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M12||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||3|
|Linebackers crashing on handoff, whatever, 28-3, no more RPS. Still think Denard should keep since his contain guy is getting nailed by Dileo; the handoff ain't right. Barnum does okay with his guy but he's slanting; cutback. The contain guy destined for Shaw thumps him. Any yards available because of Lewan.|
|RUN+: Lewan||RUN-: Robinson|
|M15||2||7||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 under||Pass||PA Hitch||Jackson||12|
|This is the kind of thing I am talking about. PA zone read sucks six EMU defenders in because it is an inside zone and Robinson has his choice of targets. Dileo looks tantalizing again, but Denard goes with Jackson on a five-yard hitch. Denard hits him, Jackson makes an orbit step around the defender trying to tackle and picks up the first. Vintage 2010. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||9|
|An accidental combo block from Huyge, who is taking on the playside DE, and Barnum, who is pulling on the power. Huyge blocks the DE and slides off him. He finds himself downfield, so he blocks the MLB who has slid playside. Barnum(+1) comes around to kick out the DE who slid off Huyge. This gives Denard a lane because Omameh(+1) sealed the playside DT away. Denard(+1) sees the lane and makes the cut for near first down yardage.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Barnum, Omameh, Robinson||RUN-:|
|M36||2||1||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Pin and pull zone||Toussaint||-1|
|I really hate this play. The playside EMU DT reads the pull over him and pulls himself, avoiding Lewan's block and turning himself into an extra defender. EMU LB gets outside Barnum, another takes on Molk, and there is nowhere for Toussaint to go. Pulling DT(!) makes a TFL. RPS -2.|
|M35||3||2||Ace trips bunch||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Pitch sweep||Smith||11|
|I called this from the stands: again, this is a play that has no relation to anything M has previously run and almost gives itself away by formation. Still works. It does so because Huyge(+2) gets playside of the playside DE and when he threatens to come under to flow down the line he adjusts beautifully to kick him away, which also gets rid of the playside DT. A sad Jackson(-1) cut block just gets him out of the play and EMU is flowing hard down the line, but Smith(+2) reads all this and cuts behind it, then jukes a safety for a good chunk more.|
|RUN+: Smith(2), Huyge(2)||RUN-: Jackson|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||12|
|Good kickout of playside DT by Barnum(+1); Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB and nails him. Omameh can't get playside of his DT, which would be hard; Smith(+2) is able to slice through the narrow gap that results. Secondary converges.|
|RUN+: Smith(2), Barnum, Molk||RUN-:|
|M44||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-4 under||Pass||PA Post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Motion into twins reveals man. Robinson makes a terrible decision to throw into double coverage when he had acres of space to run in and maybe Koger if he really insisted on throwing. Pass is broken up. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M44||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-4 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||5|
|Late motion seems to confuse EMU D. Koger(+1) gets a good seal on the playside DE. Dileo(-1) whiffs on the nickelback and this forces Denard(+1) to cut outside, evading the guy. Bounce robs Odoms of an angle on his guy; that guy runs Robinson OOB.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Koger||RUN-: Dileo|
|M49||3||5||Shotgun trips TE||1||0||4||Okie?||Pass||Post||Gallon||38|
|EMU blitzes for five rushers; picked up. With a great pocket, Denard's first read is Gallon on a post similar to the one he missed against ND late. This time he zings it into Gallon for tons of yards. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O13||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||6|
|Momentary double from Molk helps Barnum(+1) destroy the playside DT; Molk(+2) then gets out on the LB. That's basically the play. Omameh does okay with the other DT, but he flows down the line. Toussaint has room afforded by the annihilation of the other dude and does all he can to hit that hole fast for good yardage.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Barnum||RUN-:|
|O7||2||4||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
|It seems like these guys are way more mechanical on the power than they are on the zone. Here Omameh pulls around. Okay, fine. Barnum blocks down on the playside DT, he gets a little penetration, Omameh has a tough angle to get around. He does. And then he runs right into Lewan for no friggin reason, because Lewan is blocking a dude and EMU has two LB/S types to the inside. Slow your roll, block a dude. Lewan's excellent push and Denard keeping his balance after being hit gets this near the sticks.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Robinson||RUN-: Omameh|
|O4||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Pass||PA TE out||Koger||Inc|
|PA fake to waggle gets Koger open, but Robinson just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 31-3, 4 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted.|
Let's get to the spread/shotgun comparison.
Impatient, I see. This week the run breakdown is close: 7.8 yards from the shotgun and 7.2 from under center. Vincent Smith helped by ripping off a 38-yarder from an ace three-wide set. Here's another number: Michigan averaged 11.2 yards per carry on the zone read, which was called 15(!) times. A full breakdown follows.
- Down G: 3 carries at 18 YPC thanks to long Smith run, 12 yarder from Robinson.
- Pin and pull zone: 5 carries at 1.2 YPC. I may have confused some of these with Down G. I picked up an ID point in the comments of the linked Smart Football post so I'll be better about it in the future.
- Pitch sweep: 1 for 11 yards.
- Iso: 2 for 6 YPC.
- Traditional QB draws: 3 for 8.3 YPC, though the bulk of those were on a "complete fiasco" Denard turned into magic.
- Power: 12 for 3.1 YPC. This includes a single "power read"
- Inside zone read: 15 at 11.2 YPC.
Opponents' sudden inability to defend the zone read, which seemed like a solved problem, remains mystifying. Borges isn't doing anything fancy: the TE flares out to hit the playside LB, they run inside zone, and four times a game Robinson has no one covering him. Is it a combo with all the (unsuccessful) power from the shotgun? I don't know yet, but I'll try to figure it out.
So, here you make the complaints about MANBALL.
The numbers speak for themselves, I think. I'll look into the possibility the heavy dose of power is opening up the zone reads.
Here we must—
I'm afraid. Hold me.
[Hey: sorry about dropping the table legend out the past couple weeks. It returns. Hit the UFR FAQ for a fuller explanation of the abbreviations, but basically the first five columns are regular old throws in decreasing order of quality (dead on, catchable, marginal, inaccurate, and bad read) and the remainder are exceptional events that do not result in a catchable pass downfield (throwaway, batted, pressure, scramble).
UPDATE: I actually put the legend back in this time. Seriously. Hover over column headers.]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
|Notre Dame '11||6||7(1)||1||6(1)||5||1||1||1||-||50%|
Denard didn't throw into double coverage all day—he only did it once—but that downfield accuracy remains troublesome. I don't think Denard got a lot of help from certain playcalls, about which more later, but the issues are still there.
He could have gotten some help from his receivers, though:
Two flat drops and two failures to make help-me-out-here catches in 11 opportunities to catch a ball is a drag, man. Pick up three of the four and Denard's day looks a little less turrible statistically.
|Lewan||13||3||10||The most natural fit in donkey hating offense|
|Barnum||10||5||5||Struggled early (was –5 at one point) and recovered well|
|Molk||16||2||14||Ass kicking day.|
|Omameh||10||7||3||Pulling not a specialty|
|Huyge||9||2||7||Surprising amount of power run over him.|
|Schofield||1||-||-||A few plays.|
|Moore||-||2||-2||One major whiff|
|TOTAL||66||25||41||The kind of numbers you put up after rushing for 376 yards. Also a TEAM –1 in here.|
|Robinson||18||8||10||Fumble was –3 and ultimately harmless.|
|Toussaint||3||-||3||Still think he's better than Smith…|
|Shaw||-||2||-2||Hardly got a carry. Whiffed one block.|
|Smith||9||-||9||…but my numbers don't. Caveat: Smith –3 pass blocking.|
|Rawls||-||1||-1||Comical missed block|
|McColgan||1||-||-||Early iso, then gone.|
|TOTAL||31||9||22||Contributions from non-Denards: can they last?|
|Hemingway||2||-||2||One good block.|
|Odoms||2||-||2||I'm so mad about the video. Need moar mountain goat.|
|Roundtree||2||-||2||AAAH block on one Denard keeper|
|Protection||15||6||71%||Smith 3, Barnum 1, Omameh 1, Huyge 1|
|RPS||16||17||-1||not worried about this vs EMU|
That's the usual crushing day you'd expect an OL to have when you average 7.5 YPC against an EMU-type opponent. The big takeaway above is Vincent Smith.
I thought you were all like "no, Vincent Smith, go away, be a complementary player, boo Vincent Smith, boo"?
You are exceptionally aggressive this year, fictional alter-ego. As to your question, well, yeah, kinda. I mean, these are the kind of holes he was offered:
It takes vision to find the offensive linemen on plays like this, not the hole. He still seems to be moving in slow motion to me, though on one run—this one, actually—it looks like he's outrunning the safety as the guy completes his pursuit. I'm a bit concerned he won't be able to get the corner or into the secondary against teams faster than the Eagles.
That said, he did pick up a lot of positives in nine carries (some were for blocking) and he seems to remain healthy. I like Toussaint better—I think he's got more upside—but Smith's earned a hunk of the carries. Let the two of them fight it out on the field.
Are you less of a sourpuss about the offensive design now?
I'm not exactly happy that we can't run from under center against the likes of Eastern Michigan, but I have to admit my reaction to the pro-style aspects of the first quarter was a lot like watching Jonathan Bornstein in a pre-World Cup friendly: if it's going to be bad I want it to be so bad that not even Bob Bradley thinks it's a good idea to keep it up when things count for real*. Twenty-six Denard carries later that seems established.
*[If we're extending this metaphor to its logical conclusion, the pro-style will be forced onto the field by events beyond the coaches' control during the Big Ten season and be surprisingly serviceable before being exiled to the dustbin of history.]
So… somewhat. I'm still mystified why they keep running this pin and pull zone, which seems incredibly vulnerable to slants and the like and doesn't seem to, like, work. Ever. It's a play that gets to the outside. I know the zone stretch is like drinking the wrong kind of light beer made from rice and by Europeans, but we're good at drinking those.
And then, you know, it's like… I'm just…
This should never happen. Michigan should not allow opponents to align like this without putting a bubble in their face. They'd run Smith for five, which is good, I guess, but there's an obvious risk of not getting that five that is not there if you throw the bubble. Lloyd threw the bubble. It's okay!
And then I'm all like just you know…
This ended up being a Gallon tunnel screen for zero yards when just throwing it to the dude is a first down. Tunnel screens may work in offenses where you have a bunch of guys roaring upfield because they need pass rush. In this offense you have a bunch of guys being extraordinarily careful not to give Denard rushing lanes and always extra guys in the box. I mean…
…that's not good eats. Okay, this was a zone blitz that got lucky, but they gave you a first down by alignment. Take the first down! Don't throw screens into the box when there are extra guys in the box! Death to the tunnel screen!
JOIN THE TUNNEL SCREEN LIBERATION SOCIETY
WE'RE WORKING ON THE COLOR SCHEME
So by "somewhat" you mean not at all, then.
These are admittedly nits. If you're ever going to RPS yourself into a bloody forehead it should be against Eastern, and Michigan didn't even do that thanks to everyone's inexplicable ability to defend a zone read.
The thing that concerns me for the immediate future is the grab-bag nature of the offense. Many of the misdirection plays not copped from last year's offense (ie oh noes) are not actually alternatives to the things we actually run. The throwback screen against ND is a great example. That played off our offense's tendency to… roll the pocket from under center on first and ten? That worked once. It won't work consistently.
The best example of this is Michigan's rollout play action from the shotgun, which is an exact replica of what Rodriguez used to do. The problem: it uses stretch action and Michigan's stretch count this year is… zero. If you see stretch blocking it has been 100% PA this year. Eastern was wise to this.
Usual disclaimers apply: Borges is a smart dude. Dragging the throwback screen out did work. I enjoy the coordinator pressers so, so hard.
Most of the offensive line with special commendation to Molk and Lewan. Ground Denard. Vincent Smith.
What does it mean for SDSU and the future?
We keep moving more towards a spread offense that uses Denard's legs to get receivers open enough for Denard's arms to hit them. "Moving towards" might be a understating it after Robinson had 26 carries for 198 yards against Eastern. In retrospect, I kind of think the odd decision to have Denard out there running with a 28-3 lead on EMU was less about getting the offense practice and more about getting Borges practice.
So, expect Michigan to come out next week with Denard's legs as the focus early; SDSU will be an opponent to respect for at least 45 minutes and probably 60. Borges knows Long pretty well but Long doesn't know what Borges will do with Denard, largely because I'm not sure Borges does. I doubt we'll see stuff from under center until the second quarter. I'm hoping we see more pieces that fit together this week.
Long term, this is still Denard's offense, which means Borges has to get him in his comfort zone throwing. They also have to either tighten up their power game or consider wussy basketball on grass, because the manball is not operational yet.
Opening remarks: “Um, that was an exciting football game.” Har har. “Oh, you do have a sense of humor.
"I thought both teams -- I’ve gotta give Brian and his staff and his kids a lot of credit. I thought both teams fought, and they fought for 60 minutes. It wasn’t pretty probably at times on both ends of it. But like I told our players, it’s great to win. There’s a lot to learn from this tape, but to go out there and play for 60 minutes and win the football game in the manner that we won -- our kids, I’m real proud. Terrence Robinson, on the last kickoff [with] two seconds left, watching him bust his butt to get down the field to try to cover it. There were other guys doing the same thing, but that’s the thing, as a coach, that you take away from your team.
“We had some adversity, they fought back. We never really got on track early in the game. Didn’t have any momentum, any rhythm, when you look at it from an offensive standpoint. And defensively, we didn’t start as well as we’d like. Played a little better there for a while, and then it was back and forth. We have a lot to look at and a lot to work on. It’s great to win, and it’s great to win for our seniors -- [it’s] the last time they play in this great rivalry. So now we move forward.”
Did you say anything to Denard after he threw the pick in the endzone? “We’ll look at it tomorrow, and he may have seen something there that was better than maybe it was. I never said anything to him -- unless it’s really a poor decision throw. I didn’t think it was a poor decision.”
Do you think this win creates momentum for the program? "I don’t know. I think there is momentum. I think you do gain some momentum, and I think for us, as a team, it will be a great learning experience. It’s amazing when you do play 60 minutes of football, meaning you do stay together as a team. You compliment each other and you lean on each other. That, for us, will be part of the teachings and part of the lessons from this football game.”
Why were receivers so hit-or-miss, and what allowed them to be able to make spectacular catches? "I think it’s just being a human being. I think we all have good days and bad days. We all maybe write something good one time and maybe something not so good the next. I’m sure that never happens in here.” Aw, shucks. "I’m not being sarcastic. Really.” You shouldn’t have. “But, in truthfulness, there were probably three balls early in the game, in the first half, maybe one in the second -- maybe four total -- that I think would have moved the sticks for us, would have given us some more momentum. We weren’t very good on third downs on either side. They were 8 for 14, which is good for them, bad for Michigan defense, and I think 3 for 9 when you look at what we were. There’s no explanation besides we have to do a better job concentrating and focusing and catching the ball.”
How much did it help to have beaten Notre Dame in similar fashion the last couple of years? “I’m sure it helps. I think it’s a great question for them. I think anytime you compete -- but at the same time every team is so different. Your seniors are different. Your leadership is different. Playmakers, to some degree, may be different. I think it’s a great question for them, if they had a little more juice at the end because of that -- I don’t know.”
[More after the jump]
Ryan Van Bergen
This is not the greatest press conference in the world; this is just a tribute.
Does Hoke talk a lot about ‘feeling players’? “A little bit, yeah.” What did he say about feeling a player’s impact? “Um, as far as whose impact?” Anyone’s impact. “Oh he just talks about everybody doing their jobs. Everybody making sure that they do their job and make sure they’re aggressive about it, and when he says impact, I think he’s just talking more about toughness and mentality that you bring to the game.”
You scored a defensive TD against Wisconsin a couple years ago. What’s it like watching Herron score? “It’s just really exciting, especially for Brandon, to have that opportunity. When you score on defense, it’s something that’s unexpected. It’s just such a big bonus for a team, when your defense is giving you twelve points, you’re going to win a lot of football games. We’re pretty excited about it, and we’re going to build off of it.”
Mattison said, ‘We’re not going to sit back.’ How much do you enjoy playing aggressive defense? “It’s fun. We’ve been excited about it for a long time. Coach Mattison is an aggressive-style coach. Once we figured what [Western] was doing offensively, we tried to attack them. One thing we have to do better though is we have to improve our four-man rushes. Coach Mattison can’t call a blitz to get after quarterbacks -- we have to go put pressure on them ourselves and help out our DBs. It was fun, but at the same time we have a lot to do.”
What do you have to do specifically to get better rush? “Up front we need to get off our blocks quicker, and execute our moves. That’ll come. That was the first game.”
What’s Hoke like on the sidelines? “Passionate. He’s got a lot of energy. You can really feed off of him. He’s got enough energy for everybody on the team. He knows when to be tough, and when to come over and tell you in a calm manner what to do. He’s got a really good feel for everybody and all the players and their attitude."
Was it hard to get consistency on the D-line with all the substitutions? “No, no, not at all. [Western] came out with a no-huddle. Hats off to them -- we didn’t know they were going to do that. So the coaches did a really good job of rotating. I think we probably played 7-8 guys on the defensive line. We needed that. It was 120-130 degrees on the field I heard. If we weren’t rotating, it could have gotten ugly really fast. We need that rotation, and coach wants to get more guys in. He wants us to be able to go full tilt when we’re in the game, and I think we were more productive because of it.”
Is there a night game you’ve played in that stands out? “Night games -- they’re fun as far as atmosphere and stuff, but the thing that people don’t realize is how much it sucks when you’re waiting around in a hotel. We wait around in a hotel before the game, so you’re sitting in your hotel room. Coach is trying to keep you occupied, but you’re waiting to play a football game, watching other football games in your hotel room. That’s a big wait when you’re getting up at nine o’clock and you’re not leaving to go play until five. But it is a good experience.
“One that comes to mind is when we went to play Iowa in their stadium. That was pretty cool. It just seems like the fans are just that much more into it when the lights are on. I don’t know why, but it does seem like it’s more electric.”
You didn’t give up many big plays. What went well? “We had some good things happen as far as we’ve been trying to limit big plays, because that’s been an Achilles heel of our defense for the last couple years, but we definitely need to improve. There are things that they did, and we knew they were going to come after us with certain schemes, and we didn’t stop them. There has to be some adjustments made. We had some good things, but we had a lot of room to improve, and luckily we got in to watch the film yesterday, so we can start working on that.”
How did you find out you were an honorary game captain? “Coach Hoke told me, I wanna say Friday? I think? He told me Friday. It was a big deal. It’s a very big accomplishment for me to go out there with those guys. A lot of players have told me they look up to me as a captain and a leader. I was excited. It was a really, really cool experience."
Does Hoke give out any individual honors, e.g. helmet stickers a la Bo? “Not really. Coach Hoke is a big advocate for ‘the team, the team, the team.’ The individual awards don’t mean anything if your team’s not winning. The emphasis on the team has really helped our guys come together and helped our chemistry. Presenting individual awards isn’t going to be in Coach Hoke’s -- that’s not in his personality. Unless I’m wrong and maybe something else comes, but right now I don’t think there’s anything lined up like that.”
Where do you rank the Notre Dame rivalry compared with MSU or Ohio? “It’s a big deal. We’ve been playing each other a long time. The history goes back. I think Michigan was actually the ones who taught Notre Dame how to play football, if you look at the history. They were supposed to go to Evanston and play Northwestern, but we went down to South Bend and taught Notre Dame how to play football. I think that’s how it went down. It’s a big deal. This goes back so far, and there’s so much history. That and we’re so competitive in terms of most wins in college football. I know they take it very seriously, and we take it very seriously. It’s exciting to be able to play in it."
Did you watch the end of the ND-USF game? What did you think of their offense? “Luckily for ND, they have two very talented quarterbacks. They had their hiccups, but it was their first game. They’re going to get into their zone, and they’re going to start playing well, and we have to be prepared to see both [quarterbacks]. No, I didn’t see the end of the game. I wanted to, but nothing against NBC, but I did not like the program they had on while the rain delay was on, so I was like, uh, I’m just going to watch the other ones. I did not see the TV copy. I will watch the film copy though.”
Talk about Notre Dame’s O-line. “Big. Notre Dame’s got some big offensive linemen. Their biggest one, though, I wanna say his name’s Charles Stewart, I’m not sure. He graduated. He was their left guard. He was like 370, a really big kid. Their right guard, Trevor Robinson, I think is his name. He was a kid that Michigan recruited, and I was his host when he was here. Their center’s really good, too. He’s been there for two years, I think, and very experienced. Their interior line is really experienced. I think they have younger guys on the outside, but they also have a year of experience underneath their belt. So they’re going to be a good test for us as far as a defensive front and where we are in comparison to other teams, because Notre Dame’s offensive line will be as good as any we’ll see.”
(more after the jump)
This was filmed last year. I know this seems very 2008 Ohio, but they're behind the times. It was 2010.
This is also by Pop Evil. They turned into a bunch of hair metal posers just last year. Before that they were were "Muskegon's Menudo," and before that they were dog groomers. They're still dog groomers but now they have a band so they can test out exciting new techniques on each other.
Doubling down on… us? Bill Connolly is a smart person who does good things with stats, so he (and his models) know Michigan had a hugely positive yards per play margin last year and that turnovers don't correlate that well year to year and Michigan finally has a returning quarterback so they could bounce significantly forward this year.
This is a little much, though:
Five Predictions for the Big Ten in 2011:
1. Michigan wins the damn Legends Division. That's right.
5. Oh why the hell not ... Michigan beats Wisconsin in the conference title game. Might as well go all-in, right?
That is all in like whoah. If any part of this transpires Brady Hoke is king and Bill Connolly will be assaulted for lottery numbers.
The main problem with this is his model takes recruiting into account and Michigan's recruiting has been a paper tiger for a while now.
I'll take it! An NFL scout type guy on SI.com drops David Molk on his list of NFL prospects… but only to call him overrated. Still, I'll take this description:
Overrated: David Molk, Michigan -- Molk is considered the top center in the country by a number of scouts, yet in our opinion there are better senior centers in his conference.
I'll take "a number of scouts" believing he's the top center in the country over one dude disagreeing.
This is a fake thing. Iowa graduated leather magnet Tyler Sash last year. They are Iowa so they'll replace him with a walk-on. This is the filthy lie about this walk-on's name that BHGP expects us to believe:
Collin Sleeper (#16, Junior (RS), 6'2", 200, Solon (IA) HS)
We know absolutely nothing about Collin Sleeper.
It's not that we know absolutely nothing. It's that we know exactly what we're supposed to know. He's a junior walk-on from Solon who has never played a down of college football and is now the starting strong safety. He was completely unrecruited and unscouted by the services. According to him, he's fast. He played halfback for the James Morris-led Iowa high school juggernaut 10 miles up the road from Iowa City. He reportedly played Denard Robinson on the scout team last year. His name is Sleeper, for chrissake.
THAT IS A LIE, SIR. Your walk-on safety is named "Sleeper" and my new running back recruit runs a 4.3 40. Eighteen fakes out of five, you Hawkeye bastards. Eighteen fakes.
This is a dumb thing. WMU beatwriter Greg Couch on the state of Michigan's quarterbacks:
I think Alex Carder is the best college quarterback in the state. Denard Robinson is a great athlete, but I'd bet you if Carder were in that program, they'd find a different role (flanker, perhaps) for Robinson. MSU's Kirk Cousins isn't even close.
That is literally the dumbest thing I have seen written about football in the state of Michigan not related to Rich Rodriguez. In games against ND and MSU last year Carder averaged 5.4 YPA—Threet/Sheridan numbers—and threw two TDs to three interceptions. He had 104 yards on 33 attempts against Idaho in a 33-13 loss. Playing a MAC schedule he finished 35th in passer efficiency. Cousins was 18th and Robinson 20th playing in the Big Ten.
This is not a surrounding talent issue. According to Couch WR Jordan White "would be an All Big Ten wideout." He proved this by averaging a whopping 10.5 yards per catch against MSU and Notre Dame. But sure, a MAC team with a better quarterback than Kirk Cousins and Denard Robinson and an All Big Ten wideout went 6-6 last year in the MAC.
This guy also thinks Denard Robinson is "Juice Williams with wheels," which is like saying "Carlos Brown but fast." Guh. Insert Billy Madison quote here.
I hope Chris Brown didn't get fired… or do I? He's gone from near-hibernation to putting out ridiculously good content consistently. There was the speed option post I linked in a previous UV, then a description of the inverted veer option Michigan tried a couple times last year and Auburn rode to national title. I don't think we're going to see it again, which is sad-making. I was so excited about it last year even though they never quite got it right.
End. The USHL's president is awesome. Some Canadian hockey radio guys were pondering a USHL-CHL matchup as a way to get a true North American junior championship, which prompted USHL prez Skip Prince to write them an open letter that said "Ready to do it" and bombed the CHL's model. This is a dagger. I'm going to quote a big chunk of it:
It’s odd to hear second-tier status ascribed to the USHL, the notion of “Well, if you’re going to go to college, then the USHL is the best place to go.” There’s an implicit demotion there – an implied statement “…because I guess you’ve decided you’re not good enough to go pro.” Really? So that’s an either-or decision?
No. It’s not. Our website equally celebrates the 165 NHL alumni we sport and the 283 college commitments we have in hand. They go together. It’s our pyramid at work. The fact is, 35% of the young men wearing an NCAA Division I sweater this past year – more than one out of every three rostered players in college hockey – is a USHL alum. That’s extraordinary. That 3% of those kids make it to the NHL is also extraordinary. The fact that’s right on par with the CHL is not extraordinary – not to us – but somehow that gets lost in translation.
So we are damn proud of that special 3% - and the other 97%. Every – every – player departing the USHL this year, who was eligible for NCAA play, had a Division I commitment in hand. Last year we were one short of perfect, a great young man who chose Division III instead. Match that.
Sure, there are those who depart from the USHL-to-college-to-NHL route, and take the CHL direction instead. We’re well aware of the four well-publicized de-commitments this past month. Point given. The CHL gets four great players. Hey - we celebrate them, and hope they all do well. That’s American freedom of choice.
We just think it’s a risk they didn’t need to take. Each and every one of those players had just as great a chance of making the NHL playing college hockey, lifting and getting better, over a time period they control, as they do with the two-year bet they’ve now made. But we know each of those young men, and our competitiveness does not stop us from wanting that bet to play out for all of them.
About 95% of the CHL would be better served in college. There's not enough room for all of them, unfortunately, but unless you're getting a massive under the table payment or can't hack classes you should probably go to college.
Flyover spoilers. Stop reading now if you like your planes all surprising. Notre Dame is going to be overkill city:
10 Sep vs. Notre Dame: The Yankee Air Force's C-47 Skytrain "Yankee Doodle Dandy" will conduct a pregame flyover and a two-soldier parachute team from the 101st Airborne Division (The Screaming Eagles) will drop into the stadium during the halftime program (one each in the two end zones). Prior to the game, the Michigan and Notre Dame NROTC Units will contest their annual flag football game on Friday, 9 Sep at 7 pm at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. Stop by and cheer on your fellow students.
Nebraska and OSU will also have flyovers; Purdue(?!) is tentatively scheduled for one as well. Not sure why they'd do one for Purdue unless they're bombing the World's Somewhat Large Drum.
Etc.: Jason Whitlock writes a panting piece on Hoke day after he writes one of his odious race-baiting idiot columns, this one directed at the incredibly irresponsible Charles Robinson. Yes, that Charles Robinson. As a result I can't really take the former seriously. The lesson is always that Jason Whitlock is an asshat.