"I'm feeling good. Feeling alright. Just got done lifting." He felt pretty good yesterday after the Indiana game. Staying healthy - "I guess every Big Ten game's going to be a big game. I've been working out, I've gotten treatment, doing everything I can to take care of my body."
"I love people, so it's not that bad" getting recognized around campus.
"I've made some bad reads, and I kind of overthrew a couple guys. There's always time for improvement." Doesn't worry about his stats, so he doesn't care what people are saying about him. "Just don't watch it, don't read it, stay away from it."
Teammates can make plays "don't try to make too many plays."
On Roundtree: "Roy, just give him the ball and he's going to make something happen." He just makes plays. "We could do that with all our receivers, but he's standing out right now."
OL has been performing every week. "That's who I've gotta give thanks to all the time. Them and God."
Doesn't get any bigger than M-MSU [Ed: just wait a few weeks, son], it's going to be a hard-fought game. "They're a great team, they're a physical team, and they come to play. It's going to be a hard game." Everybody gets pumped up for this game, especially in-state guys.
"I was playing with him. I felt like I was in the game and just playing with him." During Tate's comeback at MSU last year.
Greg Jones is a fast, physical player who can hit. "As a quarterback, you've gotta read everybody else, not just one player." Nobody's tried to spy Denard with one player yet, we'll see what MSU does.
"Mike Shaw is doing good." He told Roundtree he's ready for Saturday. Just needs to go in, watch film, and get ready.
Denard is always worried about getting better, and that's what he's doing. "Man, Shoelace just too fast... Coach Rod just tells him 'run straight,' and once he runs, he runs." Depth at QB means that the offense doesn't struggle too much when Denard goes out. Denard is humble, and doesn't worry about the Heisman hype he's getting. "This week, he's gotta get better, and get us right." The skill players like to have the quarterback motivate them.
Roy works hard and listens to the coaches to get better. "It's showing Saturdays, but I know I've got a lot to improve."
"When we're out there, we don't really know the stats and whatnot. We just go out there and play Michigan football." Not worried about how many yards they got. Happy for Junior's big game against IU after the fact.
Everybody knows their offensive assignments now, the team is prepared well.
Intense this week? "Come on man, it's Michigan State, it's rivalry week." This will be the biggest game Roy's played at Michigan Stadium outside of Ohio State last year. Need to have a great attitude this week to get the win. "This week is like a different intensity level."
"You just gotta be ready, man. It's all preparation." Can stay undefeated and clinch bowl eligibility this game. "What happened last year was last year. You know, it hurt all of us. But we've gotta do what we've gotta do today to get ready for Michigan State."
"I still get nervous each game, so it don't really bother me." Prepares hard, which makes him confident for each play he's out there.
They've played tough defenses, not worried about putting up stats, just getting ready for the next D they'll face.
On Denard- "Any time he breaks through there, we know he's gone, which is a great feeling to have." The more yards Denard gains, the better it is for the offense.
Confident in the offense even if Denard goes out. Tate and Devin getting snaps, and they can spread the ball around. "I'm pretty confident in our offense no matter who's out there. Obviously 16's a special player."
You're getting the job done if you score quickly on offense.
Patrick's been playing really well, Taylor's been showing what the players knew he could do.
The OL is confident in the running game, hopefully they can run for more yards and get the win (as the team who has rushed for more yards has won 30 of the past 33 matchups between these teams).
Was never into the Washington-Washington State rivalry. Michigan-MSU is a much bigger rivalry. "Even if you win the Big Ten, you didn't win the state championship" if you lose to MSU.
Seniors will explain the importance of this game to some of the younger guys. "If you come to Michigan and you don't understand the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State... it's almost set in stone." They'll also hear from some former players about the rivalry.
Doesn't hear from students about losing to MSU twice in a row. "I know the fanbase obviously wants to get a win." Lots of people want to beat State. Winning as a senior is the most important, because it's the one you remember. "To be able to go out with a win, and to be able to say you beat Michigan State in your senior year is huge."
"Michigan State's always a physical game." Not particularly concerned for Denard, because he's a tough guy. He understands the importance of the rivalry. Maybe a little more banged up than he lets on with his toughness, good leadership.
Schilling hopes Michigan's speed can trump State's size. Endurance will be a big factor as well. "Some of the non-conference teams were smaller" up front. Michigan State has more size. Big Ten teams in general are a bit bigger.
Greg Jones is almost always leading the nation in tackles. He powers through blocks and makes a lot of plays.
"It's a big test for us. Coming in undefeated, there's a lot of angles to kind of approach it." Lots of storylines, looking to come out of the game undefeated.
Big sack against Indiana - "It was an exciting play, a big play for our defense."
"I've seen still pictures of myself before I snap the ball, and it kind of scares myself" the faces he makes.
Creating turnovers is a big emphasis. Coach Robinson talks about it, because you have the opportunity to get the offense the ball more than the other team.
He was used some at DE against the Hoosiers. "It's a different look. Whenever you can give a different look to an opposing team, I think it confuses them." They'll practice it again this week.
Patterson is a good sub when Martin needs a rest.
It's nice seeing other defenses chasing Denard around, because Martin, Van Bergen, and Banks have to do it in practice all the time. "He's always been a hard worker."
Michigan State is a big game for both teams. Excited to prepare this week. "I always grew up watching Michigan, so I loved Michigan through thick and thin... I never really liked the color green."
Tough to lose the last two years, but it will help be motivated to get the win. "We do remember what happened in the past, and the past two years have been hard." It's made the team better overall and closer as a unit.
Making a bowl is a team goal, along with winning the Big Ten. "If we can just control what we can control" that's all you can ask for. "We always remind ourselves of our goals." Keeping it in sight reminds you of what you can do.
MSU's offense is good, Martin has already watched a bit of film. "We're just gonna prepare as best as we can. Guys are getting in the film room on their own."
"I love the fact that they're undefeated. That just makes this game even bigger. I think that ensures they give their best on Saturday, and I wouldn't want it any other way."
There's a bit more talking between teams in a heated, in-state rivalry game like this one.
MSU's line looks athletic, and they play hard. Both teams play a little harder in this game, because it's a big deal.
Doesn't worry about what outside people are saying about the defense. He knows the defense has its issues (as does the offense). "They're all correctable. Every team's going to have issues, and every unit's going to have issues. We have five new starters so we're kind of learning as we go here... We're undefeated and we haven't played our best football yet."
"It works in practice, so it should work in games." Some issues are people trying to do a bit too much. Defense is improving this year, taking strides inthe right direction.
It's good to win the games, but you know where to draw the line with letting it get to your head. "As soon as I leave here and go down to the biulding, I put on my business face and go to work."
Not worried about bowl eligibility right now. Try to win the game, and that will happen on its own. "Those rivalry games are always big for us... it doesn't matter if we haven't won a game going into those, it's always going to be a big game."
Want to stop the run against MSU - "that's usually the key to victory in most games." Get after the QB and punish their skill players. "I feel more needed" when the opponent will try to run the ball.
Was always interested in Michigan running backs growing up, so he was on the Michigan side. Was a RB in high school.
"Year-round I hear from all of my ex-classmates who have gone to Michigan State. A lot of the families back home are either Michigan or Michigan State." The in-state rivalry is an all-year thing.
"It's not easy, it's not fun" to lose two in a row and not have bragging rights. "That's part of our motivation is to go out and get those bragging rights back."
Do you root for MSU in other games? "I don't. I would like them to have as much success as possible before they play us." It doesn't rise to the level of rooting, though.
"I hope the crowd's really rocking on Saturday."
"I think every defensive player takes that personal, and it makes us even hungrier for the win" when people talk down on the M defense.
Improvements are happening week-to-week, particularly the young guys. "I know it something that's surely going to show up in games."
Mike Martin played well against Indiana. "It worked out pretty well, he was definitely getting after the quarterback." Defense hurt themselves with some penalties, and that stuff is correctable.
The players may be fueled by losing the last two to Michigan State, but the past is in the past. "It doesn't matter if it's my first win or my fourth win against them, any time you can play Michigan State, you'd better be motivated."
Keys to the game: "It doesn't matter who your opponent is, any time you can make a team one-dimensional... you've got a chance of winning the game."
Cousins is a great QB, and they have a great offense. This should be the biggest challenge so far for the defense this year.
RBs are big guys that can move. Probably the best Michigan has seen this year.
Denard: "He's something else (laughs)." Other teams can try to contain him, but Kovacs doesn't know how they'll do it. "You've gotta have some speed, that's for sure."
10/2/2010 – Michigan 42, Indiana 35 – 5-0, 1-0
When you want to watch ESPNU in Sedona, Arizona, you go to this place called "Sticks and Steaks." To get there you drive past a massive tourist art complex with a faux-native name, a sign exhorting you take advantage of Angel Lightfoot's magic healing crystal expertise, and an enormous, profligate fountain in the middle of the damn desert. Whatever Sedona's purpose was when someone said "screw it" and set up camp in 1902 is gone, replaced by a talent for taking money that was jammed into old ladies' bank accounts and circulating it through the economy again.
Inside this place you'll find TVs, horse betting, and a motley collection of people who would rather be home for three and a half hours on Saturday. In front of me there were a couple peeved Texas fans watching their team get punked by Oklahoma. Behind me there was a Wisconsin guy who asked if I was wearing my lucky Michigan tie. (I wasn't: I'd neglected to bring one and had to drive back to the next town over and stop at their outlet strip mall to get one.) A couple of old women who didn't care about football ate there; as they left one of them said they'd gone to Indiana and was surprised the game was even that close.
I think it was an attempt to comfort me, as I'd spent the hour they were there pulling my hair back over my skull and swearing under my breath. Sometimes not so under my breath, too. I said something about how IU's quarterback was outlandishly good and hoped it was true.
I do not have to tell you this but I will anyway: that game was bizarre.
In the aftermath it stands as a tribute to how useless time of possession is. Michigan's put-upon defense actually got better in the second half of their 98-play version of Ishtar, and it turns out that a touchdown scored in three plays is worth just as much as a touchdown scored in 14. We have sufficient evidence now to declare this finding statistically significant. So that's nice.
In progress it felt like dying from a thousand paper cuts only to be brought back with the crashing thunder of paddles, conscious and fully aware you were about to do it all over again. The opponent holding the ball for 42 minutes might not mean much statistically, but it does make most of the game an agonizing slog.
As a result, records were set across the Michigan fanbase for "most muted response to a 70-yard touchdown." Such a thing wouldn't have been possible even four years ago. I remember thinking to myself "that's 25% of the points we need to win" after the first drive of the '06 Ohio State game, and I was delighted through a whole commercial break. I grew up with angry cold Midwestern football where touchdowns were hard-earned things only somewhat less rare than goals in soccer. Each one was a major step towards your goal, and punting a guy down inside their ten was tantamount to getting the ball back on the fifty.
Now a touchdown is just holding serve. When Denard fumbled the snap on the one I thought "this is going to be a 99-yard touchdown drive," and then it was a 99-yard touchdown drive. It's disorienting, and as Indiana is driving down the field again you can't even figure out who to scream at because no one's in the same zip code as the receiver, and you hate everything about everything because this is MICHIGAN we don't do things like this.
On the other hand, "this is MICHIGAN" also applies to an offense that could end up loaded with NFL talent and still come nowhere near this one. Michigan still has Denard and its blitzkrieg of an offensive line and a bunch of wide-receivers who draw straws to determine who gets this week's monster day. One day when the defense is capable of covering guys here and there, Michigan will club people. At the moment it's about having the ball last.
I got somewhat demonstrative during all of this, which is why the Wisconsin guy asked me about my tie and the Indiana woman offered a ham-fisted attempt at comfort. People found me entertaining as I alternated between brief flashes of happiness and long stretches of sports Tourette's, I guess. I probably would have too.
As I was leaving this other guy who I hadn't even noticed added his bit, jovially saying "Hey, you survived." I had. They had, unlike Texas or Wisconsin or Indiana. The Texas folk hadn't even made it past halftime. The fiancée, still able to engage in small talk beyond grunts and squeaks, asked who he was rooting for. He said "USC, but they don't play yet." When they did, they lost to Washington for the second straight year. There are worse things than getting bombed for 480 yards by Ben Chappell even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.
Stop it. I've defended the three man rush but good lord you have got to be kidding me. I defended the 3-3-5 but that's when I thought it would be used to create a wide variety of four-and-five man fronts with unpredictable blitzing. Michigan probably rushed more than three guys 10% of the time in the second half, and when they did that it was four. I can't support having Craig Roh and using him in zone coverage on every snap.
What's worse was the inane substitution pattern. Every Indiana run in the second half was a wasted down, and probably would have been a wasted down even if you replaced Banks with Roh and brought in a cornerback. One of this defense's few assets is the pass rushing ability of the outside linebackers, but Michigan is going out of its way to avoid using it.
Stop it, but the clock. I would have thrown a shoe at the TV if Michigan had botched time management at the end of the half like Indiana did. How do you get inside the 20 on that drive with a minute or so on the clock and end up with four seconds on third and goal? Indiana let the clock run from 13 seconds to 9 after a first and goal play before calling timeout, which meant they'd just blown an opportunity to run a fourth down. They got the TD anyway, but that was a sequence worthy of Les Miles.
Speaking of decisions like going for it on third there…
How Denard Robinson is like multi-way callers in a limit hold-em game. There is a phenomenon in limit hold-em called "schooling" where a bunch of weak players who call a lot of hands they should ditch accidentally make their play close to right, frustrating more experienced players with a strong hand they'd like to get heads up with.
I think about this every time an opposing coach defies his inner Lovie Smith and goes for it on a fourth-and-Romer down against Michigan or eschews a half-ending field goal attempt in an effort to score the seven it's obvious they'll need to keep up with Denard. Michigan has now faced 15 fourth down attempts on the season, which is double the next-highest total in the Big Ten and triple the average*. They've converted nine of these, turning a bunch of drives that would have been punts or field goal attempts against a less terrifying offense into touchdowns.
The difference is that the coaches' decisions are statistically correct, not just less wrong. Which is not so good for Michigan. Bill Lynch did manage to punt from the Michigan 42 on fourth and short, which just goes to show that it is the nature of all coaches to play it safe. I'm hoping as we get into the stodgy section of the schedule we'll see more insane decisions to punt when Michigan scrapes together a stop. Someone can tell Mark Dantonio and Kirk Ferentz and Joe Paterno that they should go for it, but what are the chances they listen? Maybe 40%?
*(FWIW, I disagree with the author's assertion that the reason Michigan's opponents are exceeding their yardage season averages when they play M is because Michigan is the "red-letter" game on the schedule. It's just because Michigan's defense sucks.)
Same thing on our side of the ball. Michigan should have gone for it on fourth and one in the second half; instead they sent Forcier out to pooch it. I'm fine with the pooch punting in general, as it's impossible to return or even catch one. Michigan netted 39 yards on Forcier's attempt, which would be good for 23rd nationally as a season-long average.
But punting in that situation? No thanks. When your offense is tearing through the opposition like M's offense was that Mathlete chart about correct decisions swings way towards going for it there.
Part of the problem may be the apparent lack of faith in Michigan's bigger backs. Cox didn't appear at all and Hopkins was just used as a blocker; when Vincent Smith is your best TB option (blocking or running) short yardage is less of a certainty. I'm still not a fan of Smith this year despite the long run against IU. He didn't have to do anything except run through a gaping void and run through an attempt to tackle him from behind. He's reliable, but having him at tailback is like having Greg Mathews on punt returns.
It could not be clearer that Michigan doesn't need much time to score.
But what the Wolverines do need is the ability to keep their defense off the field. This defense is young, and it's still learning, and without the Michigan offense, its flaws would be that much more evident.
The Daily's Joe Stapleton also offered something along those lines.
Anyone who's read this blog for longer than a couple weeks knows the general outline of what's to come but whatever here goes: a touchdown is worth seven points no matter how long it takes to score, and having an offense that rips down the field in three or four plays against Indiana is not a bad thing. Against better defenses those opportunities will be much rarer. And what is Denard supposed to do, anyway? Kneel down at the 20?
It's the defense's job to get off the field. The offense is a thing to score points with. Was it good that Roy Roundtree got caught at the three? Not so much. If Michigan wants to bring TOP closer to even they'll have to get much better or blitz like madmen, but since that's a stupid goal to have they should only do the latter if it also makes it more likely they'll get stops.
Slight mitigation. One effect of Michigan's rapid-fire touchdown drives was to inflate Indiana's opportunities. Both teams had twelve bonafide drives in the game. That's 50% more than the opener against UConn; Michigan would have expected to give up 23 points if they'd faced eight IU drives. Which is still terrible, but maybe slightly less so than it seemed.
I was in transit yesterday so no VOAV; apologies. Here's the Michigan defense highlight reel:
Something slightly longer from WH:
In non-video items: a serendipitous sideline photo gallery. Michigan's ridiculous "on pace for" numbers. Mike DeSimone has resumed his incredibly useful photo collecting. Wow, Les Miles. Wow Denard from the Indy Star:
There are certain moments that reveal a potential Heisman Trophy winner's essence, and that came on that final five-play, 73-yard game-winning drive that sealed the 42-35 victory.
"Shoelace'' has got my Heisman vote, and it would take an act of God to make me change my mind.
ESPN's Heisman watch says it's "Robinson and everyone else":
Now it's just getting ridiculous. I mean, at some point shouldn't we stop being amazed? We've seen it for five weeks now. Shouldn't we be used to it? I'm talking, of course, about Michigan QB Denard Robinson, and the answer is no. We haven't seen this type of college football playmaker since … Barry Sanders?
Postgame GERG-RR stills from MVictors are… not so happy. Ace asks if we're jaded already. I'll talk about this more in a bit but despite the stuff about the three-man rush above, complaints like those of BWS…
The real story is that Greg Robinson's defensive schemes do not work. No longer is this a question of defensive talent or improper personnel. No, sadly, this is far more systematic: Greg Robinson's schemes Do Not Work.
I've been advocating a man coverage package for the last three weeks. Robinson has shown it sparingly. Not that I'm more qualified to run this defense, but Robinson's inability--or maybe stubbornness--to show new looks is far and away the most disappointing aspect of this season. Play after play (and now game after game), teams are running quick slants and seven-yard hitch routes and absolutely shredding Michigan's defense. And it's not that the defense looks athletically overmatched. They look unprepared and poorly coached.
…are kind of ridiculous. James Rogers cannot change direction. Jordan Kovacs cannot cover people man to man. There are massive personnel deficiencies that need covering up.
Via UM Media Relations:
OUT (0% PLAY)
Jones, Mike Leg
Shaw, Michael Knee
Toussaint, Fitzgerald Shoulder
Van Slyke, Jared Clavicle
Williams, Mike Head
Woolfolk, Troy Ankle
QUESTIONABLE (50% PLAY)
Ferrara, John Hand
PROBABLE (75% PLAY)
Herron, Brandon Ankle
Johnson, Carvin Knee
Robinson, Denard Knee
As for the gentlemen who are out, we already know Jones, Van Slyke, and Woolfolk are out for the whole year, and Mike Williams may have serious enough concussion issues to be at the end of his football career. Shaw being ruled completely out for the game is a huge setback, and though we don't have tons of information on Toussaint, the coaches certainly would have liked to have him available.
Ferrara is updated to questionable after spending the past few weeks inactive, which is good for him, but he's still down on the depth chart and unlikely to play.
As for the "Probable" contingent, Rodriguez (and OC Calvin Magee) have been saying all week that Shoelace hasn't missed practice all week, and is 100% outside of a bit of soreness. If Herron and/or Johnson can indeed play, that's a boost for the defense, giving Greg Robinson the flexibility with Craig Roh that he really likes.
Oh shiiiii… So yesterday I noted that Purdue starting quarterback Robert Marve had been knocked out for the year with a torn ACL, and suggested that Michigan was less likely to lose that game now. I was terribly, terribly wrong:
Robert Marve is no longer an option at quarterback. I would argue that his effectiveness was unfortunately limited to poor line play against Notre Dame, then he was banged up from the Western Illinois game on. That leaves Rob Henry as the presumptive starter. He is not the only option, however. Justin Siller has three starts at quarterback in his career. Could he be a better choice?
Purdue: Robert Henry, Purdue, Robert "Rob" Henry. Purdue: he is awesome and made of ninja stars and if you think about starting anyone else I will find the World's Most Medium-Sized Drum and blast it into the Pacific Ocean with a river of tears and this will not go well for anyone and I'll probably get very dehydrated. Just say no to Siller.
If I have to make a Hitler video that starts off with the guy pointing at the map and saying "Marve transferred from Miami and was entrenched as a starter and tore his ACL" and then Hitler saying "fine, fine, Robert "Rob" Henry is a redshirt freshman with only decent mobility, we'll be fine" and then the guy saying "Mein Brimley, Purdue has installed Justin Siller as their quarterback" and then the ensuing and ceremonial Losing Of The Shit, I totally will. And I won't like it.
He is the sun and the moon and the stars. Tom Brady/Lloyd Christmas fan. He hugged Denard. He showed up for Colin Cowherd. He's aquaman2342's avatar. People made gentle fun of his hair and compared him to the aforementioned dudes. I got like six billion emails from someone who must be his mother complaining about the gentle poking of fun. But we like him, don't we? He is everywhere, and he's always really happy about Michigan. His haircut is charmingly reminiscent of the guy who's (still, for now) the best Michigan quarterback of our lives.
He is so everywhere that I'm just innocently watching this RAWK-laden official site video of Michigan's top kick returns ever and BAM, I'm saying there's a chance at 2:02:
Lloyd Brady has been happy everywhere. It is at this point that he is photoshopped into historical situations that he's really happy about, like an inverted Stunned Aggie.
More Lewan. Woo!
"During film, he was wearing sweatpants, a fedora and a sweatervest with no shirt on underneath," Van Bergen said at the press conference, rolling his eyes.
He's like an enormous Tressel who uses his power for mustaches and good. Q: there are Michigan players with twitter accounts. Why on earth did this not get a twitpic?
Financial what? So… whenever people talk about going to a nine game schedule they cite the financial considerations that make it difficult. Example:
"I know our fans want to see more Big Ten games," Delany told the Tribune. "Our TV partners want to see more Big Ten games. But if we can't finance our programs, it's not going to happen."
I'm not so convinced. Situations, assuming that PSL fees do not apply (reasonable since they don't change based on number of home games):
Home and home with real program. One game, 100k people, 50 bucks each = 5 million dollars.
Two games against tomato cans. Two games, 200k people, 50 bucks each = 10 million dollars – 1.5 million for payouts = 8.5 million dollars.
That's 1.75 million per year, but it doesn't take into account the increased TV value of games against real teams, the increased attractiveness of season tickets when you have a real opponent in the nonconference (more relevant now that schools are charging close to what the market will bear and that seats are sometimes going unsold), and the various intangible wow factors that contribute to the bottom line. (In college, the bottom line is program prestige, wins, and losses, not money).
The problem has been that when Michigan schedules a killer nonconference game the money from TV goes to… the conference. Indiana makes just as much money from Michigan-ND as Michigan makes from Indiana-Towson. This severely reduces the incentive to schedule real opponents since you take all the risk of a loss and get zero gain relative to your conference-mates. But if you force the entire conference to add real games against each other and you own a network far more interested in televising Iowa-Wisconsin than four versions of Indiana-Towson, then the financial differences quickly tilt in favor of actual games. The bottom of the conference doesn't get to buy body-bag games, remember: IU just played at WKU.
I don't think financial considerations are going to be a major factor. It's close enough to a wash that a home/road imbalance and complaints from the IUs of the world about bowl eligibility will be more important.
Point Griese. Brian Griese was generic during the broadcast of the BGSU game but this is an interesting point that I've thought to myself but never though I'd hear an analyst drop:
“The ability to approach the line of scrimmage with the threat of running and (him) being able to throw those balls off-balance, that’s so hard on a defense,” Griese said. “Guys are wide open because of him.”
One of the many things that make Denard ridiculous is his ability to go from run to throw in no time flat. See the Roundtree touchdown against Notre Dame or the "Anything Tate Can Do I Can Do Better" improv in that same game. Accuracy from odd body angles makes his play action even more deadly than it would otherwise be.
Etc.: Some guy in the media says Michigan and BYU are talking about a home and home, which like okay. I'll take anything against a real program. Doubtful this ever comes to fruition, just because. "Staunch wave hater" and BG fan credits M with a "mad fun series," which is true. Michigan's wave is one of the hidden joys in sports. Michigan attendance has been more resilient than FSU's. Dreaded Judgment writes on the "why do I care about this?" question.
Formation notes: Nothing unusual from Michigan. UMass did not appear to do any substitution, staying in a 4-3 the entire game. They did occasionally shift their front to a 3-4, for what it's worth. This was usually what M went up against, with the standup DE sometimes up, sometimes down:
Substitution notes: The only major change is the one you've already heard plenty about: Taylor Lewan came in on the second series of the first half at left tackle and played the remainder of the game. Shaw and Smith again got all the RB snaps. Junior Hemingway came back and rotated in regularly; you could consider him a co-starter with Odoms and Stonum if you want. The slots were the same rotation between Roundtree, Grady, and Robinson.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||1|
|Correct handoff with two guys watching Robinson. Schilling(-1) and Omameh(-1) both get beaten by their OL, forcing Smith outside and allowing UMass time to shuck blocks; he's eventually run down by three guys. (ZR+1)|
|M35||2||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Skinny post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Linebackers bite without so much as a run fake and the OL locks out four rushers, giving Robinson a ton of time to throw. He stares down Roundtree, allowing one safety to come underneath his pass as he tosses it. He deflects the ball and the other guy, badly beaten by Roundtree, picks it off. This is exactly what happened on the pass Te'o broke up against ND: Roundtree is open for a TD but Robinson throws it on a line, allowing an underneath defender to bat it. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 9 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M7||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||9|
|Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) crush the playside DT backwards so far the MLB gets caught in the wash; Shaw gets a meh but good enough block on the SLB and Robinson has a crease he takes for near first down yardage.|
|RUN+||Molk, Omameh, Robinson||RUN-|
|We're watching OSU beat up Ohio. Thanks, BTN, I hate you. It was a short completion to Roundtree for the first. Guess: (CA, 3, protection 1/1) It's taken off the board with an illegal substitution penalty.|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||6|
|UMass shifts the line and uses the slot LB to the field side as a blitzer; correct handoff with the weakside LB scrape exchanging with the blitzer. Molk(+1), Schilling(+1), and Omameh(+1) completely destroy the NT and the single MLB, opening up a ton of room for a potential big gainer; Shaw does not perceive the backside guy and heads upfield before cutting out into the space, which gives the blitzer an angle to tackle from behind. He does get upfield quickly and drag the tackler, FWIW. (ZR+1)|
|RUN+||Molk, Omameh, Schilling||RUN-|
|M27||2||4||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Yakety OMG||Roundtree||73 (pen -5)|
|Get to this play late, too. This is Michigan's double screen play; Robinson fumbles the snap, then improvises, chucking it deep to Roundtree, who got open behind everyone just as he gets crushed; Roundtree jets for the endzone. It comes back for two separate penalties: not getting set before the play and Schilling ending up a few yards downfield. I thought you got some leeway with the latter, not that it matters. Uh... (CA+, 3, protection NA)|
|M22||2||9||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA circle||TRob||Inc + 15 pen|
|Half-roll after the zone fake and Robinson wings it too high for TRob on a pass that would have gained maybe five and then gotten him blown up. He still gets blown up and UMass gets a penalty for going helmet to helmet against a defenseless receiver. From the stands this looked pretty bad, FWIW. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA slant||Odoms||16|
|Zone read fake and then a bubble fake and then Michigan hits the slant behind it; UConn in tight man so Odoms has very little room in front of good coverage; Robinson zings it in right on the money. I'm still in a bit of disbelief when he does stuff like this. (DO, 2, protection NA)|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||-1|
|Robinson gives a hard count and appears to get UMass offside but no call. The SLB blitzes with great timing at the snap, coming through the line, picking off the lead blocker, and forcing Robinson to cut to the backside of the play, where everything falls apart because the blocking angles are busted. (RPS-1)|
|O48||2||11||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flat||TRob||Inc|
|Curl-flat combination against man; Robinson reads it right and hits TRob about three yards downfield with plenty of room to turn it up; TRob drops it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O48||3||11||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Fly||Grady||43|
|With the safeties rolled up and a linebacker transparently in man on Grady this is a pretty easy read for Robinson. UMass loads up and sends six, with an unblocked guy coming right up the middle. Robinson steps back to give himself just enough time and chucks a 40-yard pass that basically hits Grady in stride; Grady brings in an over-the-shoulder catch and stumbles at the five. Super impressive. (DO+, 2, protection 1/3, team -2)|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||4|
|Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) seal the playside DT and Omameh has an easy job of sealing the MLB since he's running up behind said DT. Dorrestein(+1) locks out the DE and it's Shaw one on one with a safety in a ton of space; he makes a good cut and falls forward to the goal line.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Molk, Dorrestein||RUN-|
|O1||2||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Iso||Shaw||1|
|Hurray touchdown. Molk and Omameh blow up the same DT; McColgan gets a good block on the LB, and it's easy.|
|RUN+||Molk, Omameh, McColgan||RUN-|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 3 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back H-back||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||20|
|We get to watch Smith not have the ball as Robinson(+3) beats a DE set up to contain him, then beats a safety to the outside, then gets a good block from Odoms(+1) to the corner. This ends 20 yards downfield. We don't even get a replay. WOO BTN. I'd ZR-1 this but it kind of went 20 yards.|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||?||-7|
|Looks like they're going with the zone read fake to seam combo and looks like they have Roundtree wide open; Robinson bobbles the snap and gets sacked by the blitzing LB. Not charted. This is all on Robinson; snap was perfect.|
|O47||2||17||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Run||QB draw||Robinson||7|
|Stunt opens this up big time and this could go for a lot of yards if not for a great reaction from the MLB and Molk(-1) whiffing the block, allowing said MLB to come around and make a diving ankle tackle. (RPS+1)|
|O40||3||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||?||-6|
|Robinson rolls out. UMass is blitzing a LB from that side of the field and scrapes another guy; first LB is picked up by Smith but there's no one to block the second. A pump fake from Robinson gets the guy in the air but he manages to crunch DR for an impressive sack. (PR, 0, protection NA, RPS-1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 13 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M16||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||Zone read bubble||Roundtree||5|
|First time this year they've actually thrown this, as Robinson pulls the ball with apparently no contain. A safety is coming up hard as the scraper though (first time I've seen that) and Robinson bails out into the bubble, which gets a few. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M21||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB off tackle||Robinson||16|
|Opens up big as UMass slants the wrong way. Koger(+1) crushes the playside DE out of the play on a down block as Dorrestein pulls around. Shaw(+1) kicks out a LB, Dorrestein(+1) does the same, and Schilling(+1) shields the MLB out of the play. Omameh(-1) got turned around on the same guy and did not move to the safety, which is probably the only thing preventing a touchdown here. (RPS +1)|
|RUN+||Robinson, Koger, Schilling, Dorrestein, Shaw||RUN-||Omameh|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||8|
|Not a read this time but does come with the zone fake. Stonum(+1) gets a great cut block, opening up the edge; Roundtree can probably get more than he does if he just runs up the sideline. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M45||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare||Shaw||5|
|Snag concept minus the corner route, but the same slant/flare combo we saw a lot earlier this year. This time Robinson should probably hit the slant but chooses the flare, which he impressively drops over a retreating DE and right to Shaw, who has to deal with a LB charging at him immediately. He spins by for the first. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|50||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||8|
|Playside DE crushed back by Huyge(+1) and gets caught in wash behind Koger's(+1) block of the slot LB. With those guys giving ground the outside is where it's at and Robinson takes it out there, where Shaw(+1) takes out that playside LB once and for all and gives Robinson the corner.|
|RUN+||Shaw, Huyge, Koger||RUN-|
|O42||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||0|
|DE has contain and doesn't crash so I guess this is a correct read but I'd like to see Denard pull since he's got a ton of space and can probably pwn this guy. But technically correct. So Shaw gets it. Interior line does its usual blow-back job on the interior UMass line but Dorrestein(-1) gets slanted inside of; no hole. Shaw(-1) should just run up the backs of the interior OL on second and two but attempts to spin by the backside DE and gets swallowed.|
|RUN+||Molk, Omameh, Schilling||RUN-||Robinson, Shaw, Dorrestein|
|O42||3||2||?||?||?||QB off tackle||Robinson||17|
|Guh: let's watch a play from last week instead of one from this week. On replay we get some details, but the replay is a field-level view. PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH. Anyway: downblock and Omameh pulls around. Shaw(+1) gets a good block on the edge, as does Odoms(+1) and the corner is assured. No idea about the line. (RPS+1)|
|RUN+||Shaw, Odoms, Robinson||RUN-|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||5|
|Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) crush the playside DT, providing a crease, with Omameh getting out on a LB and attempting to seal him to one side only to see Smith cut behind the block. Dorrestein has only done an OK job on the backside DT, who tackles. Smith(-1) could have done better here.|
|O20||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||-1|
|UMass slants under the blocking (RPS -1), with Molk(-1) completely whiffing a DT and getting Smith nailed in the backfield. Handoff seems okay. Run minus: Molk(2)|
|O21||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA rollout||Roundtree||Inc|
|Rollout cuts off most of the field and a charging DE gets cut off by Schilling but still eliminates the outside and forces Robinson to pull up and throw to Roundtree, open-ish in the endzone but covered by the safety; he makes an excellent play to break it up. (CA+, 0, protection 1/1) I guess he got there a tiny bit early but i would hate it if this was called PI if I was a neutral fan.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 7-10, 4 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M33||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Tunnel screen||Stonum||67|
|This is mostly set up by the coverage, which is tight man on the edges. This gives Grady(+1) an easy block of the corner. Omameh(+1) comes out to plant the safety, Molk(+1) was out fast enough to make the MLB come upfield of him despite slipping, and Stonum(+3) has the speed to just plain outrun the one remaining deep safety, running through a tackle as he goes. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||3-3-5 nickel||Run||QB draw||Robinson||4|
|Opens up big time with UMass only rushing three and dropping everyone else. Grady(+1) gets a good block on a LB; he sets up outside to keep contain. Omameh and Schilling end up double-teaming another linebacker; there's a crease between them and one UMass player trying to fill it, but Robinson slips as he tries to cut and eats the turf.|
|M49||2||6||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||Dig||Hemingway||36|
|Three man rush is stoned by the OL; Robinson has all day to find Hemingway, who got deeper than the first wave and then cut inside about twenty-five yards downfield in front of the safety. Denard hits him in the numbers with perfect timing and Hemingway can pick up some YAC because of a poor angle by a safety. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O15||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA circle||Grady||6|
|Looks like cover two and this is either a checkdown or a missed read, but the timing's good enough for Grady to pick up five, though he doesn't get OOB. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O9||2||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Grady||Inc|
|Molk(-1) fails to cut the UMass DT here and he leaps to bat it down; probable touchdown otherwise. (BA, 0, protection 0/1, Molk -1)|
|O9||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Circle||Stonum||9|
|Confusing set of routes here since Grady is running another circle and Stonum is doing the same thing except deeper. I don't know if I've seen this before. Stonum's route gets the CB to bite to the inside a bit, at which point he looks at Robinson and loses the plot; Robinson nails Stonum (but not before the ball flashes by Grady, who gets tackled and momentarily makes me think this is a disaster) for a touchdown. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-17, EO1H.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M31||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|Only six guys in the box so Michigan naturally tries the lead draw since they hypothetically have no one to defend it. The UMass LB to the playside makes a great play to shoot into the backfield and hit Shaw a yard behind the LOS, cutting off a hole and forcing Robinson to cut back behind him, where Huyge(-1) has gotten chucked by the DE. DE tackles, Robinson manages some YAC. (RPS –1)|
|M33||2||8||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Reverse||Grady||15|
|Robinson stretch fake sucks six guys to the frontside and the playside LB hesitates. Shaw(+1) gets out on him to cut him. Dorrestein gets out and bothers but does not get a safety down; Stonum(+1) maintains a stalk block a long time, providing Grady an alley outside; safety runs him out. (RPS +2)|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||9|
|Correct handoff (ZR+1) with the DE maintain contain; Webb was headed outside to provide a lead block on a scraping LB if the DE crashed. MLB is charging inside to cut off holes; Huyge(+1) walls him off and pushes him far enough inside that Shaw(+1) can make a decisive cut behind the entire OL, in which there are no holes, and burst into the second level.|
|RUN+||Huyge, Shaw, Schilling||RUN-|
|O43||2||1||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|Schilling and Molk(+1 each) crush the NT back; Huyge(+1) shoves the DE back a couple yards and cuts him off as he tries to slant inside. Robinson is cutting outside, but a weak block from Shaw(-1) on the edge gives his man an opportunity to hit Robinson. As he's being driven back he makes a pitching motion to Shaw, causing the entire stadium to go noooooo, so he doesn't.|
|RUN+||Schilling Molk, Huyge||RUN-||Shaw|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||7|
|TE is on the backside of the formation and blocks the DE out there so it appears Robinson is reading the playside LB. He comes inside, so he pulls (ZR+1). The slot LB comes in to provide belated contain; Robinson jukes upfield and darts behind downfield blocks from Webb(+1) and Huyge(+1)|
|RUN+||Webb, Huyge, Robinson||RUN-|
|O33||2||3||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||33|
|The longish Shaw touchdown on which he comes to a complete stop in the hole despite there being an obvious lane in front of him. Schilling(+2) gets a driving, sealing block on an NT lined up well inside of him. Omameh(+1) fights off the DE to that side of the field; Molk(+1) gets a downfield block on the MLB and Webb(+1) stones a player coming off the edge that would have crushed Shaw because of his hesitation. When Shaw finally decides to run up in the gaping hole in front of him, he is fast and cruises into the endzone easily because the safety to his side of the field tore after a Robinson keeper or something. Can you minus a tailback on a 33-yard touchdown? (BTW: ZR+1; Denard had a guy blitzing directly at him.)|
|RUN+||Schilling(2), Molk, Omameh, Webb||RUN-|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-17, 12 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M6||1||10||Ace twins||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|Enter Taylor Lewan. UMass linebackers screaming downhill past the double of Schilling and Molk right in the frontside C-T gap. (RPS -1) On the backside Dorrestein(+1) gets enough of the backside DT to push him back and seal him, providing a tiny crease that Smith can dart into; that LB dives and ankle-tackles from behind, causing Smith to fall.|
|M10||2||6||Shotgun Twins 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||9|
|Omameh(+1) gets a reach block on the playside DT, opening up gap between himself and Webb(+1), who is crushing the DE out of the play. Dorrestein gets a free release. He walls off the playside LB(+1), but Smith(-1) does not get a good block on a crashing corner and he tackles, though Robinson runs through it for some bonus yards. Also: Taylor Lewan(+1) latched on to the backside LB and blocked him 15 yards downfield.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Webb, Dorrestein, Lewan||RUN-||Smith|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB counter||Robinson||4|
|Inside zone fake but this is not a read, it's just a called play. Playside DE slants between Lewan and Schilling without either of them picking up on it. Think this is on Lewan(-1) since its his third snap ever. This means there's an unblocked guy in the middle of the play and Robinson has to improvise, which he does by dodging the contain guy, getting out to the edge, and picking up a few by slinking past a corner.|
|M23||2||6||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Fly||Stonum||46|
|Michigan does a PA fake QB stretch and then Robinson pulls up after a slight roll. The playfake has erased the safety to Stonum's side of the field and the corner there is in tight man coverage. Ball is very slightly underthrown, which causes Stonum to slow up and should draw a PI flag on an early-arriving corner who's not even looking for the ball, but Stonum brings it in anyway. Maybe they throw it if he doesn't catch the ball? Anyway: this is a 40-yard deep ball and is accurate enough for the DO despite being a tiny bit short. If he can do this consistently, jebus. (DO, 2, protection 2/2) Credit to the corner: this is pretty good coverage given the situation.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||4|
|Molk(+1) reaches the playside DT, sealing him off. Lewan(+1) has driven the playside DE back—something that has almost never happened on M stretches in the RR era, or for that matter the Carr era—so Koger and Smith head outside, where there should be green pastures except for Schilling(-1) essentially whiffing on the OLB, who reads the play and makes a great tackle as Smith approaches the LOS. I would so trade our MLBs straight up for theirs.|
|O26||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||11|
|UMass line is slanting to the right and pushing the LBs left to compensate, but Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) successfully control the playside DT and Lewan(+1) locks out the DE, giving Smith a lane and no linebackers. He takes it, but slips as the safety comes up and is not able to make the man miss.|
|RUN+||Lewan, Molk, Schilling||RUN-|
|O15||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||7|
|Complete obliteration of the same guy by Molk and Schilling(+1 each); Schilling then pops out on the playside LB. It's only a corner blitz that provides anyone who can stop this; Smith runs through a terrible shoulder block of a tackle(+1) to pick up good yardage. Lewan dangerously close to a holding call here.|
|RUN+||Molk, Schilling, Smith||RUN-|
|O8||2||3||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|No contain so Robinson pulls(ZR+1) and then beats a late-reacting DE to the corner, zipping up between him, a corner, and a safety for the TD.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-17, 6 min 3rd Q.|
|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||Inside zone||Shaw||50|
|UMass does pretty well on the frontside of the play but on the backside Lewan(+3) completely destroys a DT. Turns him into goo. Massive cutback lane seen and taken by Shaw(+1). Shaw then breaks a tackle(+1) and takes off, with Grady, Webb, and Robinson(!!!) acting as downfield convoy. Webb(+1) kills a DB but the cutback forced allows the playside DE to ankle-tackle Shaw. Robinson should have peeled back.|
|RUN+||Lewan(3), Shaw(2), Webb||RUN-|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||3|
|Another big cutback lane as Omameh(+1) shoves the backside DT well out of the play, but Smith(-1) does not cut back enough and ends up running directly into Omameh's guy.|
|O19||2||7||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||8|
|This time it's Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) doubling and shoving back the playside DT with Lewan(+1) kicking out the DE. Schilling can't get out on the MLB and he and a crashing slot LB tackle.|
|RUN+||Lewan, Schilling, Molk||RUN-|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||7|
|Molk(+1) blasts the playside DT, this time not attempting to reach him but content with pushing him back. This provides a cutback lane as Schilling(+1) and Lewan(+1) scoop the backside DE and Schilling pops out on the WLB. Shaw(+1) makes a good cut but can't shake the safety.|
|RUN+||Lewan, Schilling, Molk, Shaw||RUN-|
|O4||2||3||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||4|
|Frontside totally jammed up; Koger(+1) drives the backside DE far, far inside, giving Shaw(+1) a cutback lane he takes for the TD.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-24, 12 min 4th Q. Michigan has passed once in the second half and I hadn't even noticed until this drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Smith||1|
|Schilling(-1) does not dominate his man and there's no frontside crease; Smith(-1) misses a cutback lane behind Omameh, who got a decent block on the DT. Cutback open thanks to Dorrestein's(+1) excellent LB block and McColgan cutting off the backside DE.|
|M38||2||9||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||8|
|Heading way outside here. Koger(+1) gets enough of the playside DE to give the corner. Roundtree gets enough of a CB to force him inside; Jackson(-1) gets discarded by his guy but Robinson(+1) shoots past him and nears the first down.|
|M46||3||1||I-Form twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||-3|
|Unblocked backside LB blitzes and owns Smith in the backfield (RPS -2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 42-30, 3 min 4th Q. Punt is blocked as Hagerup drops it.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O35||1||10||I-Form big||2||2||1||Base 4-4||Run||Iso||Shaw||7|
|Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) blow the NT off the ball, allowing Omameh to peel off on the MLB and giving Shaw a fairly large gap for a last-minute iso up the gut against a stacked line. He duly slams it up.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Molk, Shaw||RUN-|
|O28||2||3||I-Form big||2||2||1||Base 4-4||Run||Iso||Shaw||2|
|Same deal, with Dorrestein more important since the play cuts back a little bit due to faster-reacting UMass LBs. Shaw does a crappy job of getting YAC here.|
|O26||3||1||I-form big||2||2||1||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||2|
|Hurray they get it runing behind Lewan(+1) and Schilling(+1)|
|Drive Notes: EOG, 42-37.|
Now this looks like what should happen against a I-AA team minus those ever-increasing scores for the opposition in the drive notes section.
Yes. This probably would have been abandoned early if not for the defense's inability to get the Minutemen off the field. Michigan punted twice. The first time Robinson bobbled a snap and got sacked on a play that was wide open. The second came on a drive when they were just trying to run clock.
For a stretch in the second half they ran on 19 of 20 plays and I didn't even notice because those were three consecutive touchdown drives. Michigan threw once in the second half and put up 42 points that should have been 45 with a makeable field goal; it was a dominant performance after Robinson's oops-I-forgot-I'm-awesome-now interception.
It's just against a I-AA team, sure, but it is further confirmation that this offense looks like the best since Henson and Terrell were lighting it up in 2000. We won't be able to say for certain until they get through the Indiana-MSU-Iowa stretch.
Hennechart comes with a reminder that numbers in parens are screens!
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
(I've added the Downfield Success Rate to the chart on the suggestion of a reader; hover over the column header for its definition.)
We all had a Letterman neck moment on that interception but Robinson recovered to have a very efficient day. The most important bit of his performance were the three deep balls to Grady, Stonum, and Hemingway. The first one was truly impressive since he had the footwork to hop a step back in the pocket, giving himself time to get the ball off:
Even after two games in which Robinson has established himself a quarterback who doesn't suck that's a stunning combo of poise, agility, and accuracy.
The second was a dead-on fly route of 40 yards; the third was Denard IDing a hole in zone coverage and throwing it to an area his WR would be in. All of that is advanced stuff, though standard quality of competition disclaimers etc. Another step forward in any case. Kid can throw:
He added one inaccurate pass to his brief gallery of misses but if those deep balls are hit consistently they take the offense from very good to napalm in cleats. Can this really keep up? As the weeks pass it becomes more and more likely. He is now 19th in passer efficiency against a tougher-than-average schedule.
Not a lot of action with the limited throws but the guys came through. Stonum catching that deep ball under duress is an encouraging item, and Grady pulling in an over-the-shoulder grab is also progress from last year. The other Robinson did have the receiving corps' first flat drop of the season. That's one in 43 opportunities. The receivers are officially exceeding expectations.
And PROTECTION METRIC: 15/18, Molk –1, Team –2.
Not much to see there.
Right, well, for the running stuff we need a—
|Huyge||4||1||3||In just over a half of play.|
|Lewan||9||1||8||Start the hype machine, yo.|
|Schilling||12||4||8||Bounce back from the meh ND performance.|
|Molk||15||3||12||Totally dominant as you would expect.|
|Omameh||11||2||9||Didn't pwn anyone downfield, still doing well.|
|Dorrestein||6||2||4||I might not be giving the tackles enough credit for locking out DEs.|
|Webb||4||-||4||Plus eight between the TEs is impressive.|
|Robinson||11||1||10||Also check the ZR metric.|
|Shaw||10||3||7||Didn't get a plus on the long TD but ran hard, found cutback lanes, and broke a couple tackles.|
|Smith||1||4||-3||Most of that is blocking but he did have some opportunities to pick up more yards than he has. I don't know if it's the injury but he certainly doesn't seem as agile as he did as a freshman. It's probably time to see some alternatives.|
|Hopkins||-||-||-||BEEF MACHINE, but DNP.|
|TOTAL||24||8||16||Shaw seems established as the #1.|
|Stonum||5||-||5||Broke that screen for the TD.|
|TOTAL||9||1||8||Also a –1 from Jackson|
|Zone Read||6||-||6||Dangerous for opponents if M and Robinson have figured out scrape responses.|
Finally, the RPS number was 6-7=-1.
Those numbers don't seem that high to me; Michigan averaged 7.7YPC minus the kneeldown and Robinson's sacks (UMass was only credited with one but the bobbled snap play was a pass; in any case it's not representative of the line's performance). If you are averaging nearly 8 YPC and running 80% of the time your OL should come out +52 or so.
Another item in Robinson's development: no bad reads on the zone play except one he may have gotten away with but 1) gained 20 yards on and 2) faked out the BTN cameraman to the point where it's impossible to tell if he should have pulled or not. I'm a fan of the play where Michigan pulls the TE all the way around to the outside (detailed in a Tate picture page), which Michigan has been showing intermittently and will destroy the scrape exchange against teams who run it consistently. It's just a matter of time before Robinson rips into the secondary.
Well, then: Lewan?
I have to agree with the hype. Wow. This is his second snap from scrimmage:
"Hello. My name is Taylor Lewan. I am here to inform you that, while you believe you are a linebacker, you are actually a donkey. Let's go for a ride."
And then there's Shaw's 50-yarder:
"I hate you, donkey. Sincerely, Taylor Lewan."
The standard UMass disclaimers apply. However, you are in a good situation when a tackle who seems to be playing somewhere between adequately and well is getting pushed out of the lineup by a redshirt freshman who racks up a 9-1=8 in just under a half of play in his first extended playing time. This is good for this year; it is very good for next year, when it seems like Michigan will be able to plug in whichever LT loses the battle this year without missing a beat.
This is the exact opposite of the MLB situation. At LT, a hyped player is forcing his way through an experienced veteran who's playing well. At MLB, an experienced veteran is not playing well and there's no one to pick up the baton.
Tailback situation any clearer?
I also have to agree with the mounting Smith criticism. In this game he had a couple opportunities to add plus yards on runs that broke open and couldn't do it. He's not breaking or dodging tackles and he obviously lacks the raw speed of Shaw; Shaw is also heftier and seems less prone to missing blocks. I'd say he's earned the first shot at the Big Ten schedule and Michigan should start rotating in Cox, Hopkins, Toussaint, and even Teric Jones to see if they can find something there.
Shaw, meanwhile, was making decisive cuts for the most part. The primary exception was the 30-yard touchdown, on which he came to a total stop in the hole and then burst upfield when it was pretty obvious there was going to be room directly in front of him. I can understand slowing up a bit to set up the blocks, but it looked like Shaw was considering a cutback. I think he's the best Michigan has right now but am hoping Toussaint lives up to Fred Jackson's hype. Or, like, 10% of it.
What about the I formation runs at the end?
It seems like a waste to have a running QB and then line him up in the I-form to hand off when everyone knows you're running. While you should expect to get it anyway against a I-AA team you are vulnerable to that guy tearing off the edge that might get blocked if you just had the QB take it ahead.
I mentioned this in the game column but to repeat: with two veteran TEs who are blocking well and a fullback who exists I'd like to see a Wolverine version of the Gator Heavy formation in which Tim Tebow tanked his way to the promised land. I can't find a shot of it except from NCAA players who complain about how it's an exploit:
Here the guys are using it as an exploit by shoving the leetle tailbacks in instead of the beef, but it seems like M's short yardage formation should be a 2TE set with McColgan and whichever other back is the best blocker (hypothetically Hopkins but probably Shaw right now). Robinson isn't Tebow but he's probably going to be about as effective in heavy since he can dart into any crease that opens up.
OTOH, they're doing pretty well right now without trying this.
Essentially everyone. Special praise for the interior OL.
Smith is about it.
What does it mean for Bowling Green and beyond?
Tackle, thought to be a potential weak spot going into the year, now has a competent or better player on the bench. I'm still waiting for the Iowa game to declare Frey a miracle worker; initial returns are excellent. The offensive line is meeting high expectations.
The receivers are catching everything and Denard flashing an accurate deep ball is the second to last thing he needs to add to his arsenal to be virtually unstoppable (the last: a seam with some touch). His progression continues to be remarkable, and while there will be at least a couple bumpy roads in the Big Ten we're nearing the point where Denard is just Denard and we're all lucky for that.
Tailback is the only spot at which it seems Michigan could improve. I'm trying to keep expectations in check after last year but this feels different; this feels like the best offense at M in a long time.
Men down. Two major injuries in the Big Ten just came down the pipe:
- Badger linebacker Chris Borland, last year's Big Ten freshman of the year, is out for the season with a shoulder injury. It sounds like he will be replaced by sophomore Mike Taylor, who just returned from an offseason full of injury himself.
- Iowa's Jewel Hampton was struck down by Angry Iowa Running-Back-Hating God, tearing his ACL. AIRHAG, as BHGP has taken to calling him, also saw fit to concuss Paki O'Meara, leaving Adam Robinson and "anybody else who wants to volunteer," according to Kirk Ferentz.
Iowa also lost second-string LB Bruce Davis for the season.
Iowa's looking like a potential swing game after the Arizona loss, and getting down to their equivalent of JT Floyd at tailback might mean Michigan's linebackers can actually get an angle on outside runs; I'll still believe M beats Wisconsin when the clock reads zero and I'm all like "woo New Year's Day," which isn't happening so don't get your hopes up.
Man down less sympathetically. The reason Dion Sims isn't playing for Michigan State is he has "allegedly been involved in a Detroit Public Schools computer theft ring involving 988 stolen laptops valued at around $800,000." This will presumably knock him out of the Michigan game unless Michigan State manages to swing a work-release program for him. (How does MSU manage to get all of this stuff done during the season? They could be making headway towards a third straight Fulmer Cup, but nooooo they only get in massive trouble from September to January.) QUICK EVERYONE LOOK AT THE JAW.
Speaking of hopes up. Michigan did not get punished by sportsbooks for the events of last weekend. They're now a 4.5 point favorite against MSU (up one), one point favorites against Iowa (up one) and Wisconsin (even), and 3 and 14 point dogs to PSU and OSU, respectively. IE: the most reliable predictive device available projects something slightly better than a 2-2 split against the meat of the Big Ten schedule. If Michigan takes care of business against BG, Indiana, Purdue, and Illinois they would be 9-3 if that comes true; even if they biff one of those four they'd be 8-4.
This makes me terribly nervous.
Troof. Orson's graphs are back and yeah:
Our other stuff looks like Run DMC, though, so we've got that going for us.
The other football. The Daily was there and so was I, and we both thought the same thing: whoah. 3,500 people packed out the officially 2,200 seat soccer stadium to see a 0-0 tie against Notre Dame, and the Daily is overrun with people who want to write the other football:
…at the latest mass meetings, the majority of students said they were interested in a different kind of football — the one with a “u” and an “o” and a significantly different ball. And each time, I did a double-take. This is the University of Michigan, after all, and all of you just want to cover soccer?
My friends and I tried to sit in the grandstand, which was full, and then migrated to the student side of the field, which was shockingly lively. The "Ultras," as they're calling themselves, badly need to work on their chants* but do an outstanding job of existing, especially since the soccer complex is way off campus.
There are games tomorrow and Saturday at 7 PM, with the latter against Ohio State.
*(A large number of them were classic tunes that saw a couple words replaced, with the weakest being "When The Saints Go Marching In" sung except they say "blue" instead of "saints." You've got two guys named "Saad" on the team! What do you think some working-class London hooligans would do with that? This is a layup.
Also, soccer and hockey have the same aims; many of Yost's cheers could be appropriated. Apparently some have, but I saw a 0-0 draw without any goal chants.)
Expansion: over? OSU AD Gene Smith says so:
"We're finished (with expansion)," Smith said. "The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us. …The reason most of us say it's not done is because we think there are some schools that are going to try to talk to some conferences. But we're not actively out looking at expansion. After our October meetings, that's going to be the last we talk about it."
Fine by me. 14 or 16 team conferences are dumb.
Smith also says the schedule has not been finalized past '11 and '12 and that Michigan-OSU at the end of the year is not a given. Though he'll 'push for it," he doesn't know what "Barry Alvarez might bring in the room," to which I say if it's not bratwurst tell him to go back and get some.
Etc.: At least everyone's special teams suck. More on Kiffin's bizarre two-point hijinks. Full RR presser transcript. The Daily's story on the Shirtpocalypse is ironically paired with a big animated ad exhorting you to purchase their picture of Denard doing the Heisman on that Te'o. Must… not… smash… faceintodesk SPOCK.