Earlier in the year Chris Brown of Smart Football offered up some clarification of a route package Michigan's running, and now I'm spotting it in key situations so I might as well Picture Page it. This will please people who complain about the relentlessly negative PPs in past weeks that are all about explaining why Michigan gave up a touchdown.
It's third and four from the 29 on Michigan's second drive of the day. Michigan comes out in a standard formation:
Smith, Hemingway, and tight end Kevin Koger are going to run a snag concept. This consists of three parts:
- The #1 (outside) receiver runs a slant and then sits down about five yards downfield.
- The #2 receiver, in this case the TE, runs a corner route.
- The tailback runs a flare.
This is what it looks like on a diagram. It's on the right:
Chris Brown on the point of this package:
The snag is a variant of the smash, where one point is to get a high-low with the corner route and the flat route (except now the flat is controlled by the runningback), with the added dimension of an outside receiver running the “snag” route — a one-step slant where he settles inside at 5-6 yards. This gives you a “triangle” stretch, where you have both a high/low read (corner to RB in the flat) and a horizontal read from inside to outside (snag route to the RB in the flat).
In previous games when Michigan's run this the opponent was in three deep and the read was simply reading the playside linebacker: throw it where he's not. Here Illinois runs what looks like a combo coverage. Just after the snap:
Illinois has a hard corner to the bottom of the screen and a soft one to the top. Robinson's reading the snag package all the way. Here he's starting at the playside LB, who's figuring out what to do with Koger.
It turns out he goes with Koger:
The hard corner is taking away the flare and this linebacker is turning his hips, so the snag route itself (Hemingway's) will come open. Denard should probably be throwing the ball now.
He should definitely be throwing the ball now.
THROW THE BALL AAAIAIGH
Hemingway's about a half yard short of the first down and is fortunate that Martez Wilson read the route package about as fast as Denard did. He's still two steps away from Hemingway, allowing Hemingway to take that orbit step wide receivers to do evade overpursuing tacklers…
…which gets him past the sticks for a first down.
Maybe Michigan's passing game isn't as unsophisticated as the spread n shred used to be? This is a favored package around the NCAA right now, which is why Smart Football could bring it to my attention—he'd seen it in the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, despite having a quarterback who's going to break the all-time rushing record for his position and possibly Tim Biakabutuka's Michigan rushing record, this is not the West Virginia offense. Disclaimers about Tate cameos and catchup ball apply, but Michigan's running 61% of the time this year. That's not far off from Carr's last three years, which were 56% rush (2007), 61% (2006), and 55% (2005) and it's a far cry from Rodriguez's Pat White offenses that ran 75% of the time.
Despite missing a game and a half, Denard already has more attempts than White did as a sophomore and needs just 22 attempts per game to match White's 274 attempts as a senior (which wasn't even an RR offense anymore). Michigan's 14th in passer efficiency, which says a lot more when you're throwing it around at a semi-normal rate.
- But maybe so, or maybe not. Previously in this series we've broken down the curl/flat combo (twice) and frequently mentioned the snag. Here Illinois runs a combo coverage that blankets the curl/flat to the top of the screen and probably should do the same to the snag but for Wilson's tardiness. They're prepared for this play. On the other hand, they were completely unprepared for the all-hitch routes that Roundtree kept dropping, and Michigan got their bomb on. So maybe nevermind.
- The game is still slowing down for Denard. This is the euphemistic way to say "he's not reading defenses fast enough yet." (For a given definition of "enough," anyway. He's 11th in passer efficiency.) He's late here and I think he was late a couple other times. It's hard to tell whether certain balls are inaccurate or thrown in the right zone window, but thrown too late. I think the fourth and nine Roundtree touchdown may be an example of this. He couldn't hit Roundtree in the numbers because of the safety coming over and forced a moderately difficult catch out of him.
- Great protection. This happened all day. Robinson sat back there like John Navarre, most prominently on the second(!) 75-yard completion to Roundtree where Michigan slid the line and he re-enacted his throw to Roundtree from the spring game except without the guy coming into his face.
- Maybe this is why he never scrambles? He seems uncertain about his reads still so he sits in the pocket wondering if he's missing something when he should just run, Forrest, run. For a guy with his ability on the ground he's got a weird antipathy for taking off. I've got him for four scrambles on the year.
Profiling, again. The Daily continues its streak of crushing everyone out there with Michigan football profiles, this time hitting up Deerfield Beach for the Denard Robinson story. Cue adorable child who doesn't like you stealing her soul:
Also let's not forget that making Shoelace, Denard Robinson, for uh, shirt, you know, within the NCAA—that isn't legal.
The story itself is another epic five-pager. Sounds like he was a natural:
“He loved to run that ball,” Huggins says, looking over his old stomping grounds at Westside Park. “He’d tell me, ‘Coach, call quarterback sneak!’ I’d tell him no, to hand it off, and so he’d fake the handoff and keep it and run for a ton of yards.”
Zone read from the start. This is a read the whole thing situation.
From "it won't work in the Big Ten" to this. Illinois blog Hail to the Orange (wait… what?) on Saturday:
The difference is, and the major problem on Saturday, was that with Michigan when we bit, we paid dearly, every time. It seemed as though just one missed tackle, one bad angle and the punishment was a touchdown. We were running a contain game most of the day against Denard, and we paid because there was relatively little pressure against him, giving his receivers too much time to get open, and when combined with a play action always were open. The result: 305 PASSING yards from the Nard dog.
There were of course some bright spots. We have continued the trend of taking the ball away from the other team and not giving it back. (Five TO's recovered, to one lost.) Against teams not made out of tiny track stars coated in butter, this will equate to a win.
We will not see another team this offensively talented this season (pending a bowl bid) generally we can improve our decision making in the secondary enough to not give up constant 75 yard bombs, at least I hope not.
Here's the crazy thing: that first bit on "paid dearly, every time" isn't even true. You know that interception Denard zinged over Webb's head? That's either a touchdown or Webb gets run down from behind as Michigan switched up the QB Lead Oh Noes from the slot receiver to the TE. The safety who intercepted the ball was headed for Roundtree and dead meat until the ball went ZING. I've got two separate RPS+3 plays that end in disaster for Michigan already. If anything, Michigan's immolation of the Illinois defense is even more impressive on review because it could have been considerably worse if Denard makes a few better throws. I think we've established that Denard's not going to make great throws all the time, but man… in the UFR Michigan's going to have a huge RPS number.
The whole thing's driven Vic Koennig to despondency:
"They get you in a run, run, run mode then they drop back and hit a pass on you. They had us running around and not doing anything well."
Fair? No. Accurate? Yes. User Tom Pickle with the win.
Sorry about nearly killing you. That guy who got plowed on the sideline during Tate's double personal foul keeper in overtime was actually Channel 7's Don Shane. The two shared a heartwarming moment afterwards:
He's got the flags to prove it, Don.
More advanced metricing. Michigan's moved up to #3 nationally in FO's S&P ratings… on offense. They're just behind Auburn and Boise State, #1 on "standard downs" and #6 on pass downs. Ohio State(!) is a surprising #5, and then the next Big Ten team is #17 Wisconsin. Michigan is #98 on defense. Woo.
I also asked Brian Fremeau for Michigan's kickoff numbers to see if that aspect of the game is actually hurting them much. I asked him last week and never got around to posting them, so these are a little out of date. In an effort to reduce confusion I'm going to flip signs so negative is always bad and positive is good. The units here are in average points away from expectation.
Kickoffs: –0.054 (79th)
Kick Return: –0.099 (95th)
Punts: +0.101 (13th)
Punt return: –0.023 (77th)
What this means is for every ten Michigan punts Michigan has saved a point in expected field position; for every ten kick returns they've lost a point in expected field position. So.
- Points on kickoffs (58): -3.1
- Points on kick returns (56): -5.5
- Points on punts (30): +3.0
- Points on punt returns(40): –0.9
Grand total: around –6.5 pending how Michigan's performance against Illinois changes the numbers (I'm guessing it doesn't change much since Michigan gave up some good returns but also busted the long one before the half).
Meanwhile, Michigan's no longer national-worst kickers (up to 117!) are –1.0 per FGA. They've attempted 11, so the field goal situation is almost twice as damaging as the rest of it. All told Michigan's losing about two points a game on special teams, which doesn't sound like much until you consider that flipping that stat would take Michigan's scoring margin from +5 to +9.
Belated Free Press denouement. I had football to talk about and didn't get around to this but a few bits and pieces to wrap up the jihad. A national take from Doc Sat:
The tepid infractions that came to light as a result of the Freep's digging are the minimum you'd expect to find at any sprawling program operating under a massive handbook, as the basic cost of employing fallible human beings while continuing to dead-lift with the Joneses. Other programs, however, weren't the target of an investigation by a major metropolitan newspaper that left no stone unturned in its efforts to make a splash against a high-profile coach who almost immediately cleaved the fan base down the middle. Michigan was, which is why it was Michigan that was forced to roll its eyes and slap itself on the wrist in halfhearted contrition as the "probation" label is applied for the first time in school history.
Chait drops Chaitbombs to the point where the fiancée thinks she should use this…
Here's the headline of one report: "RichRod gets win, but still needs more on field" Here's the headline of a second: "UM's violations deemed major, but not serious" And here's a third: "NCAA's verdict: Rodriguez ignored rules; U-M gets more probation"
Those headlines came from ESPN, the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press. You can probably guess which was which.
“We apologized yesterday because we made mistakes. I’m kinda waiting for somebody from the media to apologize for mistakes they made. And I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen, but that would be a nice thing, wouldn’t it?”
And of course the guy who asked if Rodriguez would be fired and got a death glare was Drew Sharp. Brandon should have asked "when is the Free Press going to fire you?"
Etc.: Wisconsin's John Clay and starting center Peter Konz are "iffy" for this week's game against Indiana. Sounds like they should be good to go for Michigan but sprains can be weird. This Week In Schadenfreude does not feature Colorado because no Colorado fans care anymore. Anything can happen in dead coach walking situations and fans will just shrug and talk about who the next guy is going to be. Michigan State is 9-1 for the first time in a million years and they still can't sell out their game against Purdue without resorting to two-for-one deals.
Formation notes: Reduced use of the I this week, which evaporated after Magee felt a disturbance in the force when Vincent Smith ran for nothing on third and short on Michigan's first drive.
Substitution notes: Huyge played the entire game for an injured Dorrestein at right tackle. Smith still got the bulk of the snaps at tailback with Hopkins getting a decent chunk; Shaw was around but not for much.
At receiver Stokes didn't see any time after an initial catchable ball was dropped; Roundtree and Grady saw all or almost all of the snaps in the slot. TE rotation was as per usual, and Forcier got his weekly snap after Robinson got dinged.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Yakety sax||Robinson||1|
|You'll have to forgive any misidentifications; this is an SD torrent and it's fuzzy. Michigan's going to run a power off tackle, pulling Omameh around into what looks like it will be a cavernous gap, but Robinson fumbles the snap, misses the handoff, and takes off to the other side of the field, picking up a yard.|
|M29||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Midline option||Robinson||7|
|Hey: midline. Still sets up, then bites on Smith, so Denard pulls(ZR+1). Colasanti bites on the handoff, too, splitting the two OL who get downfield. This draws attention from both, leaving the slot LB unblocked. He's well outside and can only make a diving ankle tackle from behind; I think Lewan made the right choice by blocking Colasanti because he was in position to do better than this and Schilling had no shot at him.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M36||3||2||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||0|
|Aaaaaargh Vincent Smith short yardage iso. This is inexplicable. They have three wide versus seven in the box so there's an extra defender they can't block. Schilling(-1) loses Still to the inside and though the playside double crumples Ogbu, Colasanti's just shooting into the play untouched because Koger(-1) ran right by him to block the SLB. Smith runs into both and goes nowhere. (RPS -1) A terrible, terrible play call. Michigan should never run from a three-wide in the I on third and short.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Koger|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||4|
|I'm not sure if this is actually a read because the blocking scheme here is different: Huyge kicks out the backside DE and the TE heads up in the hole between the T and G to act as a lead blocker; Smith is running into a hole where there is no lead block and never will be one. Robinson keeps, then. Huyge(+1) got a great kick. Omameh(+1) got his DT a yard downfield, there's a gap; Webb(-1) did not get playside of the linebacker. He comes off to tackle at the LOS, with momentum pitching the crew forward.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge||RUN-: Webb|
|M24||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Seam||Webb||15|
|Linebackers suck up on no playfake at all and Webb runs into the vacated space behind them; Robinson nails him for a chunk of yards. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Midline stretch||Smith||2|
|Midline; handoff this time. Playside DT is playside of Molk and Smith has to cut back, where Still runs him down from behind to hold the gain down. Still did a good job of forcing the handoff and recovering. Not sure if Denard should have kept it or not but I kind of lean towards yes? I think i have to (ZR -1) a play where the guy optioned off made a tackle for three yards.|
|M41||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||9|
|Molk(+2) gets a tough reach block on Ogbu by himself. Nice. Molk cuts the guy and gives Denard a crease; Omameh(+1) was getting out to kick out the playside LB, who fell… very likely he's done anyway. Schilling(+1) got a cut on the MLB and Robinson has room to slash, which he does very quickly.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Schilling, Robinson||RUN-:|
|50||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Power veer||Smith||9|
|Never seen this before. Michigan runs a zone read. It's a veer, which mean chunks of the line block down, but it's power, meaning the backside G pulls around and the intended gap is between the playside G and T. WLB shoots up in the backside uselessly. Playside DT is obliterated by Lewan(+0.5) and Schilling(+0.5). Omameh(+1) blows up the LB at the LOS and Smith(+1) hits the gap between him and Webb(+1) quickly, cutting behind a Roundtree block and getting tackled by the safety Willis, who made a good fill.|
|RUN+: Lewan(0.5), Schilling(0.5), Omameh, Smith, Webb||RUN-:|
|O41||2||1||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|Would rather see someone else take the hit on a down like this, or throw the seemingly open bubble in this offset formation. Playside double on Ogbu gets him back a yard but he comes through it and threatens to close off the hole; Omameh(-0.5) and Molk(-0.5) share culpability. Huyge(+1) got a good kick on the DE, though, and when he tries to come inside to close the hole off Huyge drives and pancakes him, giving Robinson the lane outside he takes for the first. These DTs can play, man.|
|RUN+: Huyge||RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Molk(0.5)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||1|
|Confused as to why Michigan is blocking the ponderous backside DE here instead of optioning him; but they are. Omameh(-1) blown back by the DT, forcing a cutback by Smith into an unblocked fellow at the LOS. Think they need to hit the bubble here with the slot S thinking contain instead. Smith(-0.5) got no YAC against a single tackle; Hopkins probably makes this decent yardage.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Omameh, Smith|
|O38||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Roundtree||6|
|Excellent timing in a tight window, but I question the decision to go to the slot when PSU's been playing off the outside guys all night. Stonum is open for an easier throw and much more YAC potential. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O33||3||3||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||PA QB draw||Robinson||33|
|Fake the bubble and Robinson jets. Bubble fake erases the two outside guys in man on the receivers, but there's still a lot of work to do. PSU blitzes one linebacker to the outside, which deletes him. Molk(+1) gets Ogbu inside; Omameh(+2) gets another one of those driving blocks that take out a second player trying to get an angle. Robinson's through; Hemingway(+1) shoves a corner to the ground and Roundtree picks off the last man; touchdown. (RPS +1)|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh(2), Hemingway, Rountree, Robinson(2)||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 4 min 1st Q. New stuff.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA short seam||Grady||18|
|The lead-draw-to-anything fake. This one is impressive from Denard because the DE has slanted inside Lewan(-1) and is in Robinson's face as he pulls up to throw; the resulting ball is a bit behind Grady but he spins to catch it, stays on his feet, and picks up some YAC. Heavy pressure on the safety here to make a tackle; he does. (DO, 2, protection 0/1, Lewan -1)|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Hopkins||4|
|Seems like the bubble is pretty open in this setup with PSU clearly in three-deep, but they don't go to it. With the backside DE getting blocked not sure what he should do here but there is a WLB keeping contain so okay(ZR+1). On the stretch Lewan(-1) gets slanted under and Still fights Molk into the backfield but Omameh(+1) has taken care of Ogbu so there's a cutback lane; Molk(+1) got a good second-level block on Colasanti. Hopkins(-1) has some room and could cut for good yardage or just bowl over a linebacker for some YAC; instead he crumples to the ground as soon as he's hit.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Hopkins, Lewan|
|M49||2||6||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||11|
|Odd looking play where Robinson seems to take off too fast for Hopkins to get in front of him. He repairs that after a couple steps, allowing Hop(+1) to club the playside LB with an excellent block that springs Robinson into the secondary. Lewan(+1) got a good kick and Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) pancaked the playside DT. No one else in the picture with PSU shaded towards the other side of the field because of the trips; Robinson hits the secondary and is contained there.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Hopkins, Schilling, Molk||RUN-:|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stokes||Inc|
|Snag concept with Smith running a flare under this route. Linebacker vacates so Robinson goes to the slant. I'd love a replay here because the original shot is pretty fuzzy and this could be more on Robinson or Stokes than it seems. I don't have one, though, so: this seems a little in front of Stokes and is coming in hot but this is still catchable, hitting the receiver in the hands. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|O40||2||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||PA QB draw||Robinson||5|
|Hole opens up momentarily but Still shucks Schilling(-1) to the playside after taking a momentary double and he's able to force it outside. Smith is unable to do more than harry the playside LB as he breaks outside. Robinson(+1) takes a hard fall as he heads OOB and misses a couple plays.|
|Frustrating: Stonum moves because a PSU DE moves into the neutral zone. This should be a Michigan first down, or is that only for linemen?|
|O40||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Improv||Stonum||Inc|
|Hard to tell but this looks like a four verts concept. DL rush hard up the edge but Michigan's got it contained; Forcier steps up into a nice pocket and then gets happy feet, scrambling out. As he nears the sideline he tosses a soft pass to Stonum for the first down but it appears that the PSU safety Willis knocks it down or out of his hands--again, hard to tell. Forcier should have hung in and found someone, maybe his checkdown Smith. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||5|
|Probably not a read. Backside DE kicked out by Huyge. Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) double the backside DT and blow him yards off the line, with Omameh popping off on the linebacker. Hopkins his the hole and cuts behind Omameh, which has the potential to break big but for that DT fighting through the Molk block to tackle. Not even a starter—83 if you're interested.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M30||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Belly fake to a hitch that looks like it should be open—Stonum is wide open on the other side of the field and this should be obvious from before the snap. This is a run call so whateva. You can tell because the OL are releasing downfield. Omameh(+1) and Molk (+1) batter that backup DT pretty good and there should be a hole but Huyge(-1) got shoved inside by DE-type-object Jordan Hill and he's right in the intended path. Because of the crushing double on the playside DT Robinson can just run straight upfield for four.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Huyge|
|M34||3||1||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB iso||Robinson||3|
|Not a read, this is not a mesh. Just a PA fake to Hopkins basically and then Robinson runs an iso with Koger as a lead blocker. Schilling(+1) stalemates and kicks Still out, which combined with Molk just managing to get enough of Ogbu (and Koger getting a piece) gives Denard the first.|
|RUN+: Schilling||RUN-: Molk(-0.5)|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||Inc|
|Michigan going to the wide open hitch they saw on the lead draw play; it is indeed wide open, with Hemingway five yards downfield and likely to pick up another 6-8 YAC. Throw is a bit low but eminently catchable. Dropped. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M37||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||18|
|Down G scheme with Huyge(+1) blocking down on Still and taking him out of the play as Omameh pulls around him. Koger(+1) blows the playside DE upfield, providing a big hole. Omameh gets a second level block on Colasanti; Hopkins kind of whiffs but that was because the OLB hopped inside of him and opened up the corner, which Robinson(+1) smartly takes. Stonum(+1) gets a cut to erase the playside corner and Robinson is barely run OOB by the last safety.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Huyge, Omameh, Stonum||RUN-:|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly||Hopkins||2|
|With Koger coming around to block the backside DE and no real contain this is a missed keeper opportunity (ZR -1). Because of this, there is a WLB in the area to engage Lewan after he and Schilling double the playside DE. RPS -1. It's frustrating to see Michigan not exploit this... Denard on the edge here could be deadly.|
|O43||2||8||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA short seam||Hemingway||21|
|This again. Linebackers suck up and Robinson fires a dart to Hemingway for a goodly chunk of yards. (DO, 3, protection N/A)|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||2|
|Inverted veer! I've undoubtedly ranted about this before you got here. Here Robinson makes the right upfield read as the DE is way in the backfield and hopping outside (ZR+1) but Molk(-2) has gotten so crushed by Ogbu; Ogbu comes around the outside and grabs at Denard as he heads upfield. Denard steps through the tackle but his momentum--his moment--is gone and he has to dance back to the LOS without getting killed. On replay... wow. This opens up like whoah.|
|O20||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA slant||Hemingway||Inc|
|PA fake, bubble fake, slant. Excellent play by the PSU corner (who I believe is the converted WR) to hit right on the throw and make this more difficult. May have been a tiny bit early, which makes Hemingway demand a flag, but you're never going to get this call. Hemingway still has an opportunity to make this catch; he does not. This is an example of what good Ds do that ours doesn't. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O20||3||8||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Cross||Stonum||8|
|One deep read he doesn't like and the checkdown, which he throws on time and accurately, allowing Stonum to cut the four yards up for three more and make this an obvious opportunity to go for it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O12||4||In||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power zone read||Hopkins||2|
|Doubles on both DTs and Hopkins just roaring downhill; Omameh(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) drive their guy back and Hopkins runs up their backs.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge(+0.5)||RUN-:|
|O10||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||0|
|Hopkins fumbles. Not his fault as Denard put it in his shoulder pads. Not sure it made much of a difference since Colasanti was totally unblocked. Maybe a yard or three. Bubble getting breathtakingly open.|
|O10||2||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Midline inside zone||Smith||2 (Pen -10)|
|Molk(-2) gets shoved upfield into the crease between himself and the tackle, then draws a holding call that seems legit as the player fights inside of him. Denard(ZR -1) hands off again and the tackle reads and reacts to grab Smith at the LOS and hold down the gain anyway. Not a very good play. Denard has acres of space and one guy in it--beat him, yo.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Molk(2), Robinson|
|O20||2||G||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Stonum||Inc|
|Robinson looks to the trips side of the field, drawing the MLB out of his zone, and immediately comes back to rifle a slant to Stonum that will pick up about half of the distance. Ball is a little high but still very catchable; it goes right through Stonum's hands. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O20||3||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant and go||Hemingway||Inc|
|Route not that successful, as you might figure on third and goal from the twenty, but if he gives it up to Hemingway in the right spot he might have a shot. His throw is well long and a safety nearly intercepts. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(38), 10-14, 8 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M2||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA rollout hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Play action rollout picks up a good cut from Smith on the edge and Robinson finds Stonum open for a would-be first down. It's not well thrown and incomplete. Without a replay it's tough to assess whether this is MA or IN and whether the catch is a 1 or 2. My guess is the harsher one towards Robinson. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|M2||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|Double the playside DT and pull Schilling around. Huyge(-1) and Omameh get a good push on Still and if they keep driving they can probably open up a crease with the two lead blockers taking on the playside LBs but Huyge peels off the block to take on the MLB, who Schilling's already moving out towards, and Still comes through to tackle as Denard cuts back. PSU jumping this and with all the LBs on the field this had little chance of success. Tough situation, but (RPS -1).|
|M4||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||Inc|
|Linebacker running right underneath the route. He tips it skyward; Robinson lucky this wasn't a pick six. (BR, 0, protection 1/2, Smith -1 for having his cut block leapt over.)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-21, 2 min 2nd Q. The Gallon error and the poor throw on first down here are killers.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun empty||0||1||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Roundtree||4|
|Again with the hitches and again Robinson throws the covered slot one instead of an easy first down on the outside. I don't BR completions but this is the second time this has happened. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M33||2||6||Shotgun empty||0||1||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Hitches on the other side of the field; this time PSU jumps the outside one and leaves Roundtree open; Robinson throws to that guy and is fortunate his throw is inaccurate or this is another possible pick six. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M33||3||6||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||PA QB draw||Robinson||5|
|Bubble screen fake to a draw that opens up with a DT running upfield fast. Robinson avoids him and heads into open space. He should have the first down but for FR Hill, the other DT on this snap, tackling him from behind. Mansome for a FR DT. Michigan lets the clock run out.|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 10-28. Forcier Hail Mary not charted.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10 (Pen -7)|
|In this four wide package one of the LBs flexes out on the boundary slot receiver, so this is sort of a nickel look. Michigan is trying to block the playside LB with Smith and that playside LB is reacting *very* quickly so there's no hole to the inside. Lewan(+1) gets a great kick on Hill, then drives him downfield as he tries to get inside, giving Robinson(+1) the corner. Robinson's heading for near first down yardage when Stonum(-2) stupidly clips a PSU player that he could have just walled off with the same result, turning a near first down into long yardage.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Robinson||RUN-: Stonum(2)|
|M13||1||17||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Power veer||Smith||4|
|Playside DE slants inside Webb(-1) and draws attention from the pulling lineman Schilling as result. Playside DT is doubled by Omameh(+1) and Huyge(+1) to drive him back two yards; Omameh pops out on the MLB. Unblocked SLB has a clear path to Smith, who runs up the backside of the DT double for a few. Still think Robinson needs to keep here periodically to put the fear of God in folk but I don't know if this is actually a wrong read. Hard to tell. No ZR.|
|M17||2||13||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||18|
|BWS already picture-paged this, which is a shame because I totally would have if he hadn't. This is the it play in college football right now, a staple of Oregon's offense and Auburn's, and I'll talk about it more later. Anyway: Schilling pulls around. Molk(+1) shoves Still way out of the play as he's expecting something different so when Ogbu pwns Omameh(-1) it doesn't matter because Robinson's optioned off the playside DE (ZR+1) and has so much space that he just runs right past Ogbu. Huyge has released straight downfield into Colasanti but because of the Omameh screwup he's blocking the wrong side; no matter, as CC fights through the block only to find the QB is headed the other way. Koger(+1) walls off the linebacker to the backside of the play and fights with him as he starts to cut back outside once Robinson heads out there. Stonum(+1) gets a good downfield block on the corner and forces him to release real late; that guy makes a saving tackle after the first down. (RPS +1)|
|RUN+: Molk, Robinson, Huyge, Stonum, Koger||RUN-: Omameh|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||4|
|Missed read of some variety because Robinson has plenty of room and should keep; the slot safety is crashing down but that should allow him to throw the bubble if he has no room. Instead he hands off. Huyge(+1) does a great job of driving the backside DE well off the LOS; Shaw runs right into the LB not really keeping contain on Robinson. (ZR -1)|
|RUN+: Huyge||RUN-: Robinson|
|M40||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Improv TE seam||Koger||60|
|Robinson's first read is a couple of hitches PSU is running under. He starts to throw but manages to prevent himself from making another INT-possible throw. Next he's got to dart through a bad block from Lewan(-1), who let his guy inside of him, and a bad cut from Shaw(-1). He smoothly steps up and as he does so finds Koger wiiide open about 25 yards downfield. Playside safety is gone because of the pump. Denard's throw is short and soft but in this situation that's the right idea; Koger brings it in and can set sail for the endzone with Roundtree running some slight interference on the safety. The WR/CB guy gives Koger a frustration facemask for PSU's only penalty of the day. (CA+, 3, protection 1/2, Lewan –1, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-31, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA seam||Grady||19|
|Robinson pumps a fake to the left side of the field and then comes off to Grady, who is running into a gap between levels in the zone; Robinson nails him in the numbers right on time. Nice gainer. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||Inc|
|Corner in excellent coverage. Probably gets there early but it doesn't matter since the ball appears to be one-hopped. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|O36||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||1|
|Ogbu makes a terrific play by getting into Omameh at the LOS, seeing where the play is going because he's set up inside, and spinning off as Robinson nears the LOS to make a tackle for nothing by himself. All Conference player, Ogbu. Awesome individual play. Also -2 Omameh.|
|O35||3||9||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Smith||19|
|Here's the effect of all those PA draws: neither linebacker gets out on this, or even attempts to. Roundtree(+1) gets a downfield block on the playside guy; Hemingway(+1) stalks the corner like whoah, and Lewan(+1) has the mobility to get out in front of the safety and force him to play it very conservatively. Smith just has to head outside and he's got the first down and more. (RPS +1)|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||8|
|PSU sends a blitzer off the edge and Robinson seems to perceive this, because he's looking at the backside of the play from the start. Once Webb(+1) locks on to the blitzing LB and starts shoving him back Robinson slashes outside, where the blitz came from and there's no one left to deal with him. On the corner there's room for a good gain.|
|RUN+: Webb, Robinson||RUN-:|
|O8||2||2||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|Terrific single block by Molk(+1) on Ogbu controls him and shoves him a yard downfield. Omameh and Huyge can't do much with Still, however (-1 Omameh, –1 Huyge), and Smith(+1) does well to see the LB crashing in on him from the outside and hit it up in the crease Molk's block provided. Schilling(+1) released into the MLB and got an effective block.|
|RUN+: Molk, Schilling, Smith||RUN-: Omameh, Huyge|
|O4||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||3|
|Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) scoop Ogbu and Molk gets out on the MLB. Omameh(+1) gets a good block on Still and all Smith has to do is run right behind the scoop to get near the goal line.|
|RUN+: Molk, Schilling, Omameh||RUN-:|
|We don't get to watch this, but we do get a replay.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-38, 1 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||6|
|Penn State way off with the LBs and with a guy over the trips side for bubble protection. Ogbu splits Omameh(-0.5) and Molk (-0.5), coming right up the center as Denard tries to get loose; Huyge(+1) walls off then pushes back the DE, giving Robinson(+1) the corner.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Huyge||RUN-: Molk(-0.5), Omameh(-0.5)|
|M34||2||4||Shotgun empty TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||4|
|Omameh pulls around. PSU looking for it, though. The MLB is right in the hole, getting outside of Omameh and forcing Robinson back into the middle. Lewan(+1) and Schilling(+1) have pancaked the playside DT, giving Michigan all but a first down. (RPS -1)|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schilling||RUN-:|
|M38||3||In||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||8|
|Same play except Smith is in the backfield as a lead blocker. Omameh pulls and the MLB gets a double this time, with Smith(+1) leading the charge, and Robinson squeezes past the DT Lewan(+1) followed to the ground when he fell, getting the first down and a considerable chunk more.|
|RUN+: Smith, Robinson, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||12|
|Pump fake to a draw. One DT rushes upfield and takes himself out with help from Schilling; other is doubled and pushed away by Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5). Big lane for Robinson. He takes it, getting a good downfield block from Webb(+1) to open up the first down.|
|RUN+: Molk (0.5), Omameh(0.5), Webb, Robinson||RUN-:|
|O42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||3|
|Correct handoff with a LB running up the lane Robinson is looking at (ZR +1). Huyge(-1) gets slanted inside by Still, forcing Smith behind him and into the guy checking Denard. Other DT is doubled and Omameh(+1) gets a nice downfield block on the MLB to give Smith a little crack of daylight before he's tracked down.|
|RUN+: Omameh||RUN-: Huyge|
|O39||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||0|
|Essentially what happened on the last play, with Omameh(-2) getting blown up by Ogbu. Ogbu funnels Smith into the unblocked LB checking Robinson.|
|O39||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Smith||17|
|PSU overloaded to the short side of the field with four guys near the hashmarks or outside of it. To the field there's just two guys. Michigan throws the flare screen to the field and since the one linebacker inside the hashmarks takes his initial steps away from it there's acres of space for Smith (CA, 3, screen) after the catch. Hardly anyone to block; Omameh(+1) peels off to set up that linebacker; Huyge(+1) gets a cut block on the free safety(!), and Roundtree and Stonum do adequate jobs on the outside guys. Smith runs straight upfield, getting tackled by backside pursuit after a big gain. (RPS +2, but mostly because PSU screwed up.)|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge||RUN-:|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|MLB pops Smith at the line and erases the intended crease. Robinson has to cut back, slithering in between the DTs since Omameh got a decent block before literally being chucked to the ground by Still. That is a strong dude. Doubles everywhere, guys everywhere, Robinson manages to minimax himself some yards. RPS -1.|
|O18||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||5|
|Finally throw the bubble and it works, but Roundtree has to cut it upfield because Hemingway(-1) could not seal the safety, who bounces of his block and tackles Roundtree. He gets bowled over doing it but still a good play. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O13||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||9|
|Molk(+2)makes this. He gets a great reach block on Ogbu, first getting his helmet across and then getting under Ogbu as he tries to shuck and come back around. Molk then drives Ogbu four yards downfield. This allows Robinson to cut behind Schilling and Colasanti, who are moving rapidly playside since Colasanti read and attacked the play; Schilling(+1) did a good job to push him but that should be a win for the defense if the DT is anywhere near the LOS. Lewan(+1) got a cut block on Still, so he's done, and that cut takes out the backside DE, too. The WLB can't flow because of the awesome Molk block. The other members of the front seven are flowing to the frontside, so it's into the secondary and first and goal.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Schilling, Lewan, Robinson||RUN-:|
|O4||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||4|
|Finally, man. Backside DE is let free and crashes; not used to standing up at this point. Robinson pulls (ZR+1) and there's no one to contain him. Koger(+1) gets a block on the playside LB; Lewan(+1) and Schilling(+1) crush the playside DT, and it's a walk-in for Robinson.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schilling, Koger||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-38, 9 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||Inc|
|Still drives upfield of Omameh and gets his hand on the ball. (BA, 0, protection 0/1, Omameh)|
|M26||2||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|No hole as the Molk(-1) and Schilling(-1) double fails to contain Ogbu, who forces Robinson outside where a linebacker has had time to come down and tackle.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Molk, Schilling|
|M28||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Comeback||Stonum||Inc|
|Play action; Robinson has to step up to get past a charging DE that Schilling picks off. Once he's done that he's got some space and time; he finds Stonum open for the first down and throws it well short. Stonum cannot dig it out. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|M28||4||8||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Smith||Inc|
|This isn't actually terrible. It's well overthrown but it has to be since PSU has everything blanketed and there's a LB right in front of Smith. Robinson gets it over him but Smith mistimes his jump and the ball goes over him by a few inches. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 31-41, 4 min 4th Q. EOG.|
Sigh. My ennui.
It grows large.
There was this episode of House where an amply proportioned lady who came to the clinic was told she had a 25-pound cyst in her stomach that had to be removed and she was livid because her husband likes amply proportioned ladies.
Is there a question coming?
If Michigan football is good again what are the chances that my entire body consists of ennui and I'll evaporate into a fine mist when Michigan looks like a national championship contender in October?
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||-||44%|
Michigan averaged 5.6 YPC against Penn State, which is second only to Alabama's 5.9, and yet the offense seemed sluggish at times. That's mostly the above chart, especially when you consider that a couple of Robinson's CAs were throws that should have gone farther outside where first downs were to be had. As the season goes along it's becoming clear that Robinson's accuracy is something of an issue. He's still light years from where he was last year but the last few weeks he's thrown some errant balls, made some bad decisions, and generally looked like something other than a golden God.
The zone read metric above is also less than great, though since most of those minuses were plays on which Denard should have kept the ball the low score may be part of an attempt to keep him from carrying on every snap. I do think part of the tailback's lack of effectiveness is in the rarity of zone read keepers. Many times this year it's seemed like a small alteration to Michigan's blocking scheme could punish teams that get too predictable with what they do on the backside.
The other part of the offensive sluggishness is here:
Michigan had five reasonable opportunities to help Robinson out and only took one of them. Add in a flat drop from Hemingway and an o-fer for Stonum on three catches labeled 1—a couple of which were borderline—and it was easily the worst day of the year for Michigan receivers. They didn't do anything egregious but they didn't help out much either.
Hemingway's hands are verging on officially iffy—he's got four of Michigan's seven drops in just 18 opportunities.
And while we're talking about the passing game,
PROTECTION METRIC: 30/34, Lewan –2, Omameh –1, Smith -1
Excellent day from the line in pass protection but with Penn State scrambling at DE and content to sit back that's not a big surprise.
|Huyge||7.5||4||3.5||Not much, if any, dropoff from Dorrestein|
|Lewan||8.5||1||7.5||Much easier task this week, same results.|
|Schilling||8.5||3||5.5||Did not suffer some of the big failures his interior linemates did.|
|Molk||12.5||6||6.5||A winning effort against a great pair of DTs. Two outstanding solo blocks.|
|Omameh||14.5||8||6.5||A little more eventful, which is overall worse than Molk, but still a nice day.|
|Webb||3||2||1||Michigan didn't use H-backs much.|
|Koger||3||1||2||Also some of these points should belong on the other play, but can't be sure.|
|TOTAL||53.5||25||28.5||Solid performance from the interior line.|
|Robinson||13||6||7||That six is a big negative. Some errors, some zone read misses.|
|Smith||3||0.5||2.5||Par for the course.|
|Hopkins||1||1||0||Did not get many opportunities.|
|Stonum||2||2||0||Clip was pretty dumb.|
By now this is the usual, right? The four guys who aren't the right tackle do okay to very well and the right tackle does okay. The lone exception was some tough swimming against Iowa; here Michigan ends up solidly positive across the board, though it's a step down from some of their earlier performances. Averaging 5.6 YPC when you're running two-thirds of the time against Ollie Ogbu and Devon Still is pretty impressive.
Ogbu, by the way, is a beast. I'm probably going to put together an All Big Ten team this year since I've been watching a ton of games and he's a lock. So Molk doing this…
…speaks pretty well to his ability.
You said some stuff about new stuff?
Yes. Michigan's added some tweaks to the run game. They ran the midline a couple times, but went away from it after Ogbu or Still (forget which exactly) formed up, forced a handoff, and then tackled that handoff twice. Penn State probably saw a ton of midline against Illinois, so they were ready.
Then there's this. I called it "power veer" but I'm not sure what it is, really:
So okay: this is similar to the veer play Oregon runs and a Illinois used to run and probably still does except the frontside end that you usually option off of is being blocked and instead of the line blocking down and the tackle rushing out to meet the playside LB, you pull a guard around. I'm not sure if this is a read at all since it's not apparent what Robinson would be reading or where he would go if he kept the ball. Maybe he pulls if the DE slants inside hard?
And then there's the inverted veer, AKA "That Thing Cam Newton Runs A Billion Times A Game." The first one didn't work so well but if you wait for the replay here you'll see that the only thing preventing this from being a Denard waltz into the endzone is Ogbu crushing Molk and coming around a block to make a great play:
The other time they ran it they grabbed 18 yards on second and thirteen. BWS broke that down; that play worked so well that Omameh got totally killed by Ogbu (surprise) and Denard still had vast amounts of room to cut past him.
You must have offensive annoyances, too, right?
Given the way opposing LBs continue to freak out about Denard's running they should spam the run-to-the-line play action far more heavily than they do. You'll have to vary the routes but some way to get opponents to loosen up against Michigan's isos and draws and whatnot would be helpful; a lot of times these days the problem with a particular run play isn't awful blocking but ravenous linebackers nailing guys at the LOS.
But other than that most of the stuff with the offense seems like execution. Michigan had the ball first and ten on their own two and called a rollout pass that had a critical first down but Robinson's throw was meh and Stonum couldn't help him out. You have to build your players' abilities into your playcalling model and it's hard to argue with the balance they've pitched right now. Also I'd like to see a few more bubbles. Michigan only ran one in this game and it certainly appeared like PSU was vulnerable. It took a great play for the Nittany Lions to hold down the one bubble they ran to five yards.
But mostly I like that in this game they could hypothetically only run one bubble without the world imploding. The last time we saw the flare screen actually run was, what, against Notre Dame? Michigan went back to it late in the Penn State game for two important twenty-yard gains on third and medium-to-long.
The offensive line as a whole.
The receiving corps and a little bit of Denard.
What does it mean for Illinois and beyond?
Michigan will be able to score on anyone to some extent but three of the next four weeks feature challenging defenses. To score as consistently as they have been Michigan has to eliminate a good chunk of the execution errors in the passing game.
As for the offense itself, they're adding new wrinkles to the run game that should make it harder for opponents to key in on any one thing. It's night and day from the DeBord stretch left, stretch right offense. Michigan runs power, iso, inside zone, stretches, veers, damn near everything, and runs all of it at least decently.
Dear people of the internet who without fail suggest that they will contain Michigan's offense by having a linebacker or safety "spy" Denard Robinson,
Please stop saying this.
A player placed in a spying role drops into a short zone on a pass play and is tasked with running down the quarterback if he breaks contain or starts scrambling. Denard Robinson doesn't really scramble. He prefers launching deep balls into whatever coverage you've got handy. You can put a guy in a spying role if you want but it won't do much other than make your defense more predictable on passing downs.
It will not do anything to slow the Michigan run game. When Michigan runs the ball with Denard your spy is just going to be playing run defense. This is hard against Denard, I know. However, telling one of your linebackers that he should watch for potential scrambles on pass plays does not help him on non-pass plays. Michigan runs the ball over 60% of the time. Denard Robinson scrambles maybe 3% of the time.
When you post on a message board or leave a comment on a blog that says "we should spy Robinson" like you're the second friggin' guy to ever think of this—your defensive coordinator is evidently the first—you should know that God throws a six-inch-tall Japanese schoolgirl with enormous glistening innocent eyes and a Hello Kitty lunchbox into a wood chipper.
Thank you for your attention.
Lewan moving. Complaints here are always less strenuous, likely because it's way easier to tell what everyone's supposed to be doing. A few commenters noted that Lewan's been moving early, Jerel Worthy-style, for chunks of the year. Kilgore Trout:
From my vantage point on the east side of the stadium, it looked like he pretty clearly moved early. I think he was doing it a lot against MSU and not getting called. Either he's got considerably faster reflexes than everyone else on UM's O-Line or MSU and Iowa's D-Lines, or he moves early a decent amount. To be honest, I think he's lucky to only have had two false starts called on him.
In retrospect I do remember Lewan getting a slight jump on the opponent; it's possible refs are now watching for this and Lewan got nailed.
Denard's accuracy. FWIW, this seemed interesting:
Looking at replays of his throws, he is not stepping into them. His front foot is stepping to the side, causing him to open up his body when he throws. This is causing him to be less accurate and also neutralizing his arm-strength.
All the passes where he throws the ball just short or one-hops the ball to the receiver is a function of not stepping into the throw.
He obviously looks great otherwise.
There was the usual war about Vincent Smith in the comments, but I've said my bit on that.
Demens defense. Most complaints center on the
enigmatic anointed Kenny Demens, his +8, and the assertion that Demens is a clear upgrade over Ezeh worthy of a "wow." The general theory from His Dudeness:
I know you watch a TON more game video than I do and that you have a TON more experience grading out players than I do, but I have to fear that sometimes you overrate guys based on a single game. I do hope Demens turns into a great MLB, but to say he is going to be a quality MLB from here on out until he graduates may be setting the bar a little high based on one game? I certainly hope you are correct in your assessment, but I will hold off on my expectations that he will be our MLB savior Christ child. I like to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised by what I get though, so that's my thing.
That's fair; I've tried to assert that Demens's performance was not necessarily replicable against teams that have seen him play and can identify some weaknesses. But he's a clear upgrade on Ezeh. Magnus suggests that Demens pluses would be Ezeh minuses:
I remember Ezeh being dinged for taking on blocks rather than getting around them somehow to make the tackle. Now it seems that we're celebrating the fact that Demens took on a block from a lineman, even though he was pancaked after he plugged.
This is probably in reference to this play featured in part of the OMG Demens section:
As a couple responders said, the difference between Demens running up into an offensive guard here and eventually getting pancaked and Ezeh getting whacked while motionless is self evident from the result of the play. This was my thought process here:
- This is a zero yard run without an obvious Iowa error so the net should be somewhere around +2.
- There are no creases in the line. Why are there no creases? Well, the three guys on the frontside all stand up to blocks at the LOS but don't disengage so that's half-points for Kovacs, Banks, and Mouton.
- On this one Patterson is done instantly and the G has almost a free release at Demens; there should be a gap. There isn't because Demens hits the G right at the LOS. –1 Patterson, +1 Demens.
- Floyd comes up and contains unblocked. Half-point.
Net is +2. On a play where Ezeh consumes a block with gusto and the opponent gets a big gain the play is going to net out at –2 or –3 and he's going to take some of the blame. Iowa had almost no success running between the tackles, so plays on which Demens was involved in were usually + plays and usually he got a share of the +.
On the other hand, BWS took another look at the National Lampoon's Zone Vacation picture pages and suggested the blame was largely on Demens:
I disagree somewhat. Asking a middle linebacker to cover a receiver moving into the flat is either an incoherent defense that will get you killed long term or one of those pattern reading systems that require a ton of drilling. By appearances (and necessity) Michigan does not run fancy stuff; this was three-deep zone with four underneath defenders, except one of them was way, way out of his zone. One of them was somewhat out of his zone.
Avery needs to re-route the slot guy but once he does that he has to get back out into the flat, whereupon the WR gets forced back into Demens and Iowa kicks a field goal and Michigan has a chance to win the game at the end. BWS says "Avery wasn't in great position here, but he also wasn't in terrible position. If he hadn't fallen, he might've had a chance to make the play." The reason he fell is he was playing with his back to the quarterback and running at full speed inside in an attempt to cover a receiver he has no prayer of helping on. Physics is relentless.
It is likely that Demens wasn't supposed to re-route the TE because he wasn't going vertical, and he did drag out of his zone. The reason that's a fifteen-yard error instead of five isn't on him. I should have given him a –1; Avery still is the primary culprit IME.
Black to the future. An email on Black:
I was really surprised by your rating of Black's play. I've watched the every defensive snap footage a few times, and to me it looks like Black is out there on about half the snaps, not barely playing as you indicated in the UFR. I also felt like he was a major culprit on a few of the big running plays. I feel like you may have mis-attributed some negatives to either Banks or Sagesse that were on Black. I don't think Sagesse really played at all except in a few relief appearances for Patterson in the second half. I'm not a coach or anything, but I played DL (and OL) in high school, and I'm fairly sure that Black had a fairly negative day. Looks to me like he only knows how to pass rush, and gets killed on run plays.
Thanks for all the hard work, as always.
I don't think I've mis-identified Black much; 55 is sufficiently different from 92 that I feel aware when he's in. Sagesse has not played much and I believe I've said that. But I agree that Black is a liability against the run. Michigan State glided down the field on a series of cutbacks he was on the ground for and a couple of runs that Iowa busted outside were partially (possibly largely) his responsibility.
Mouton defense disagreed with. Mouton came in for criticism on a number of runs outside the tackles including a Picture Pages dedicated to Iowa's fourth touchdown, and that criticism was criticized by people who sound like they know what they're talking about. MightAndMainWeCheer on the Iowa TD:
Banks gets hooked by the tackle (which is understandable considering he was lined up a shade inside of the tackle). The tackle then executes a scoop with the guard; the tackle then releases and blocks Mouton. Again, Mouton can't bail to the outside at the snap of the ball because there is a huge cutback lane between the B gap. Kovacs is blitzing but predictably gets kicked out by the FB; in this case cutting the FB and making a pile in the backfield would have been useful in getting the RB to cut up in side or take the ball wider to the outside thus allowing help to arrive. Again, Mouton is flowing down the line but gets blocked by a tackle (you can see a good view of it from the behind-the-offense replay in the youtube cutup). Also Demens does a good job of escaping the wash at the beginning of the play but he doesn't take a very good angle to the ballcarrier at the end.
I totally disagree. I missed Kovacs's blitz getting picked off by the fullback and hadn't considered whether he should get minused there; I'm not convinced but I can see the argument. However, defending Mouton not getting outside the tackle just doesn't fly. Mouton knows Kovacs is gone. Banks is in front of him getting shoved inside. He knows he has no help to the outside, so his first priority must be to funnel the ball inside. If he doesn't it's an auto touchdown. He doesn't, auto touchdown. There is a big damn B gap, true, but his choice is between doing what he did and hoping Robinson doesn't run into the wide open field outside or keeping contain and hoping help comes. Also, criticizing Demens because he didn't take a good angle to the ballcarrier seems insane to me. He hit it up in the hole to get a third down stop and the play went outside.
There's another guy saying similar things on the Picture Pages post itself but Bo Schembechler himself could call down from heaven to say Mouton was innocent and I wouldn't believe him. He expected to have to do it all himself, tried to, failed, and gave up many yards. He has done this throughout his career. There are other problems on the play—Banks did get a minus—but thanks to Sagesse taking two blockers and Demens getting to the hole Mouton is the most obvious reason the play blew up.
I'm slightly more receptive to the idea that I should have been harsher on Black on the other run outside the tackle, as Mouton was given a difficult task:
Black got crushed but Patterson actually stayed playside of his attempted double and is flowing down the line into a gap that Mouton also attacks. Mouton running up into that gap doesn't help; if he flows down the line the gain is held down. Kovacs didn't make a heroic play but I'm not sure what he's supposed to do there. I give minuses to linebackers who hit already filled gaps, and Mouton hit one and let a guy outside again.
Ready to get back on the field. Had a week off to relax. "I don't know if I can wait. I'd rather play right now. We'll see on Saturday how we come out."
"I can't put nothing on nothing. I was out there playing so I can't blame it on my shoulder." The injury can't be blamed for any of his interceptions.
"We've been treating it every single day so I feel 100% better. Ready to rock." Doesn't care if he gets held out of games if the team's winning. Trainers kept him out against Iowa in the second half.
Will Campbell: "He's gonna be nice, he's gonna be nice at offensive guard."
On helmet-to-helmet hits: "I think we should just go out there and play football." Don't limit the physical play too much. "I just try to avoid them, I guess."
The coaches told him to improve his decision making in the bye week. "Not rushing it, just calm down." Ran too hesitant in the past couple games. "Making the read faster."
Team's coming together a little bit more in the bye week. "We train harder, we practice harder, we play harder. More as a team and a family than last year."
"We could have prevented all of those turnovers. Just simple mistakes. You live and you learn, you can't make the same mistakes twice."
"I don't like talking at all. I love to lead in examples." Would rather show than speak up.
"Cam Newton, I mean he played a great game." Doesn't know him personally.
Didn't watch much football for enjoyment during the bye Saturday - just a bit of future opponents to get some info on them.
Health and attitude can be improved during the bye week. "Very excited. This bye week pretty much got us back on track." Mentally and physically, the team is better ready to go. "Just being more hungry."
Hopkins is different than Smith or Shaw: "Inside. He's a better downhill runner."
Fewer mistakes coming up? "Yes, obviously. This bye week helped us look at all the mistakes we had, and correct them." Worked on small things this week, which they may have been overlooking in the week-to-week grind of the past few games.
Slot WR? "I like being in space, out in wideout, at running back, any way for me to get the ball and I'm free in space."
100% over his knee injury.
The night game is "Taking me back to my high school games when I always played on Friday nights, so I'm pretty excited about it."
Campbell and Washington "We always joke about those two switching them back and forth." He played DT kind of like an offensive lineman. "He can be a really really good offensive lineman. He's athletic, he's big, he's strong." Washington is a big hitter, so "I'm pretty excited to see what he can do against some other teams."
Team's leaders didn't address the team specifically in the bye week. The team just worked on fundamentals. "It was good to get a little rest this weekend... kinda recharge the battery and get ready to go."
Jibreel Black and Taylor Lewan are some young guys who are impressive. Lewan - "You just got to try to calm him down." Was a little too fired up against Iowa. "He has energy which is good, he's just gotta learn to control it and use it between the whistles."
Schilling only has 5 games left to finish his Michigan career. Wants to complete it the right way.
On Penn State: "It's a fun place to play, that's for sure." The night atmosphere is a bit different. "It's loud in there, it's hard to hear." The no-huddle might not be quite as affected with signaling.
Fun game in a great place to play. Feed off the increased excitement of the crowd at night games. Excited to get back out there. Watched PSU play on Saturday. Nice to see the tempo of the game. "I get more out of watching film, but I do get something out of watching the live games."
"Every team in the NCAA has bumps and bruises. A week to heal them is great." Feels very refreshed after the bye week. Points of emphasis during bye week: fundamentals, making the right reads.
"Obviously on Saturday we can prepare a little bit more because it's a bit later of a game."
"We've been making steps this whole season." May not correlate on the field yet, but they're making improvements on D. "You can definitely see things that we're doing better now that we didn't do at the beginning of the season." Reading keys, breaking faster on the ball. The team has guys who want to be good, and are willing to put in the time, which will prevent another collapse like last year.
Quinton Washington - "I thought that Quinton should be playing defense about a month ago. He's got that aggressive manner that's good for defense." It's going to take some time for him to get comfortable there.
Kenny Demens: "great athlete, great build. I think he's doing great with the opportunities he's getting."
Mike Martin is an amazing athlete, can fight through double- and triple-teams.
"We just keep looking forward, looking ahead. We try not to think to much about the past. Just try to stay positive and always have a good attitude."