Special Teams: Bit of a mixed bag, just not in the way you expected.
This is the final edition of the 2011 Preview Review, focusing on special teams and Brian's "stupid predictions"—his term, not mine. Instead of breaking it down in the categories I've used in the two previous posts, I'm just going to go prediction-by-prediction for this one, since there's obviously less to cover here.
First, however... never forget:
This picture, encapsulating the gawd-awfulness of Michigan's 2010 attempts to split the uprights with a football, prefaced the preview section for kickers. The general assumption, given said gawd-awfulness, was that highly-touted freshman Matt Wile would step onto campus and immediately take over the starting job. Instead, three photos of post-shank Brendan Gibbons graced the top of the "kicker" section ("Rating: 2?"), followed by this caption:
WHAT THE BALLS WHY IS THIS MAN'S PICTURE HERE
It was a legitimate question. Gibbons went 1-for-4 in the 2010 regular season, lost his job to Seth Broekhuizen (3-for-9), then put a fitting cap on RichRod's final season by completely biffing a 35-yarder in the Gator Bowl. Optimism, well, was justifiably absent:
The idea of Gibbons hitting the field again gives me hives. At least this time around there's another option, though it's an option that lost out to Brendan Gibbons. Guh.
I always punt on kickers I haven't seen play but the chances Michigan has come up totally incompetent on two straight scholarship guys is low. Either Gibbons has gotten a lot better or they're trying not to put too much on Wile's plate.
So, of course, Gibbons goes out and hits 13 of 17 field goals, then cements himself in Michigan lore by drilling the game-winner in the Sugar Bowl while thinking about brunettes. By midseason, I wasn't even hiding my eyes when Hoke sent out the field goal unit. Gibbons improved dramatically; I won't attempt to figure out why—kickers are weird—but the stark contrast in reactions between Hoke and Rodriguez when the kicking game went to hell isn't a bad place to start.
The aspect of the kicking game that purported to be rock-solid was punting, where Wile was supposed to hold down the fort for four games until Will Hagerup made a grand, Zoltan-esque return from suspension.
If he manages to get through September without immolating his career, Michigan will have one of those punters color commentators call a "weapon" whenever he strolls onto the field. In Hagerup's case this is almost not hyperbolic.
Brian gave the punters a rating of "3, then 5" with the expectation that Hagerup would put behind him the early struggles of his freshman season and punt like the guy who averaged 44 yards per boot in Big Ten play. Instead, he wasn't even the best punter on the team: Wile averaged 42 yards per punt, while Hagerup managed just 36. Hagerup still started for most of the season, but when he shanked punts for 26 and 24 yards in the Sugar Bowl, Wile came on in relief and again performed better. Michigan finished the season 109th in net punting, a bitterly disappointing effort from a unit that was thought to be a strength.
Less surprising were Michigan's struggles in the return game, where Jeremy Gallon's contined presence at punt returner after finding every conceivable way to fumble in 2010 was deemed "inexplicable." There was one mission, and one mission only:
Gallon and the kick returners? Ask again later. I'm not expecting miracles. Just HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
There were no miracles. Gallon averaged a hair over ten yards per punt return as the Wolverines finished 53rd nationally in that category. Martavious Odoms and Vincent Smith handled most of the kick return duties; both were underwhelming, and Michigan was 117th in the country, averaging just 18.4 yards. Fumbles were notably absent, however, and thus the masses were placated.
Now we delve into the "Heuristics and Stupid Prediction" portion of the preview. Brian again recounted RichRod's "weird evil turnover juju," then predicted that Michigan would experience a much-needed regression to the mean after finishing -10 in turnover margin in 2010, in large part due to a competent defense and experience (say what?) at quarterback.
If Robinson remains healthy Michigan should improve significantly. The defense has to suck less and Robinson's responsibility should improve rapidly relative to players more than a year removed from being novelty freak shows. I'm afraid that Robinson is just a fumble-prone guy—Mike Hart didn't need experience to hold on to the damn ball—but the interception rate should dip considerably.
On the other side of the ball, a defense that rushes more than three players and has Martin, RVB, and Roh should get back to at least average in sacks. The center of the Gaussian distribution here is probably –3 turnovers on the year; even that would be massive improvement.
Robinson's interception rate, unfortunately, did not take a dive, but that didn't stop the Wolverines from vastly exceeding those expectations. Michigan finished +7 on the year, jumping from 109th to 25th in the national rankings.
The part you all want to see, however, is the final, "stupid" prediction. Before the ultimate unveiling, Brian put forth best-case and worst-case scenarios. Your nightmare season:
There's no bottom if Denard and a couple of other key defensive players are hurt. Leaving the worst-worst case out, a relatively healthy Michigan has no business losing to WMU, EMU, Minnesota, or Purdue at home.
San Diego State, Northwestern, Illinois are all losable but Denard should be able to snake at least one of those. 5-7 is the floor.
Obviously, none of that happened, because this website is not devoted to pictures of kittens. As for the best-case season:
The schedule is fairly soft, with no true road games until Michigan State (the game at Northwestern will be at least half M fans) and both Penn State and Wisconsin rotating off. If the offense maintains its current level of productivity and Mattison mediocres the defense real good, the only game that still seems entirely out of reach is Nebraska.
That's not to say Michigan can reasonably expect to win all games in reach. Taking more than two from Notre Dame, Michigan State, Iowa, and the Akron State Golden Bobcats seems to be irrational optimism. 9-3 is about all you can reasonably hope for.
Take out what ended up being overblown faith in Nebraska and understandable skepticism about the defense being anything better than mediocre and this is essentially what happened. Hooray for besting the "best-case" scenario. Less hooray for overrating Iowa and seeing them beat us anyway.
And finally, Brian's actual prediction:
I add it up and I come up with eight wins and change. Assume one irreplaceable player is annihilated and that comes back down to an even 8-4. Unlike last year, when I predicted 7-5 but thought 6-6 was more likely than 8-4, I think Michigan is more likely to surprise to the positive until such time as we have another Woolfolk ankle explosion pity party.
Some commenters have suggested that the exactingly specific predictions in the previous posts today suggest I'd be predicting something better than 8-4, but I think turnovers, while getting much better, will still be in the red. Though the special teams issues can't be as bad they will still be a problem that could kill Michigan in a close game.
Robinson, Martin, Van Bergen, and Demens all survived the season without significant injury; dodging those potential bullets cannot be understated in its significance. Throw in Michigan's turnover reversal, a defense that surprised even the most irrational optimist, and a competent kicking game—plus the implosion in Columbus—and you get a 10-2 regular season, landmark victories over Notre Dame and Ohio State, and a (completely fluky) Sugar Bowl triumph over Virginia Tech.
Please predict 10-2 this time around, Brian. That's how these things work, right?
Eric Upchurch. Upchurch's spring gallery.
The Spring Game came and went and I don't think it was just me: this one seemed flat in comparison to previous editions. The last time Michigan had a spring game so devoid of intrigue it was 2007, when senior versions of Hart and Henne ruled on offense and Lloyd Carr was the coach. Carr often seemed like he'd prefer it if his team played in front of no one, and this tendency was most frequently expressed at spring games. 2007 was boring and that was the way of things: boring.
- 2008: closed to the public thanks to Michigan Stadium construction, we still get our first glimpses at the spread offense… and our doom. The sense of the willies you got reading descriptions of what went on (you dismissed it as meaningless spring game stuff because you didn't want to ruin your summer as well as your fall) was the first indicator of what we were in for. The turnover party did not stop until the season did.
- 2009: Tate Forcier's coming out party. Program savior gets a run out for the first time as an early enrollee, performs brilliantly, everyone high-fives. Ace puts together Weapon of Choice video that is then recut into Weapon of Choice w/ Christopher Walken video. Youtube now thinks this video is set to Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend," which is Skynet-level commentary on how that Forcier thing worked out.
- 2010: Denard Robinson's coming out party. Program savior gets a run out for not quite the first time but definitely the first one in which he looks like a plausible quarterback, performs brilliantly, everyone high-fives. Afterwards mgovideo published cutups of all three QBs' snaps so people could engage in Lincoln-Douglass debates about who should be the starter.
- 2011: Will Al Borges stuff Denard Robinson into a pro-style offense designed for the exact opposite sort of quarterback? Answer: argh, yes. Spring game spawns offseason-long running debate about whether it's pure folly to move away from all shotgun, all the time. Borges participates in internal conflict version of that debate and generally sides with the shotgun crew, except against Iowa, for which we all pay dearly.
The past four years the spring game has been an important data dump that has indicated quite a lot of things about Michigan's season to come. Doom in 2008. Better quarterbacking the next couple years but with a fatal flaw: Forcier and Robinson's blowout performances came against Michigan's defense, which merely blew. Last year displayed to all how bad an idea it was to go under center a majority of the time.
This year Michigan spent about the same number of snaps as last year in the spread, ran Denard out there for one series, gave the established top tailback a few carries, and the whole thing was… just there, flopping around being dull and stuff.
Maybe this opinion is influenced by the fact that I wasn't there, but I don't think so. The things we think we found out are generally less exciting than "introducing DENARD ROBINSON!" and less important than the possibility we might totally screw him up. This is a sign of health in a program. It just makes this post a little less throbbingly important than it has been recently.
Anyway, there were some things we did learn…
DonkeyPuncher231 (please change that username someday, dear DP) has spliced together just about the whole thing:
The official site put out a highlight video about half that length:
An unofficial box score from AnnArbor.com. Notables:
- Gardner two of seven with an INT and 36 yards passing.
- Bellomy six of nine but the same yardage as Gardner.
- Gardner 9 rushes for 41 yards.
- Toussaint five for 39.
- Rawls 9 for 39.
- Hayes and Smith had one yard between them on 11 carries.
- "Unknown" caught two balls for 20 yards. Tacopants?
That data in hand, let's talk turkey.
Backup Quarterback Derby? I've Never Heard Of Such A Thing
Michigan's coaches took the Colonel Tressel approach to the obvious #1 storyline of the day, Russell Bellomy looking a lot better than Devin Gardner. Bellomy praise was ladled out but when a reporter asked point-blank who the #2 guy was, Hoke's response:
If you were to name a No. 2 quarterback today, who would it be?
“Well, it’s Devin.”
I see nossing. I do not comment on Devin Gardner throwing multiple five-yard dumpoffs in a manner that John Shurna thinks is unusual and Northwestern's perpetual 6'9" euro center who takes threes despite never making any of them thinks is inaccurate. Neither do I comment on Gardner throwing an interception that, while a pretty good play by one Blake Countess, was also very late.
Borges's Bellomy praise was specifically parceled out after a section of Gardner hype:
You gave most of the snaps to Devin Gardner and Russell Bellomy today …
“Yeah, that’s what we were trying to develop. We decided before we came in that we were only going to play Denard just a little tiny bit. We wanted to see these other kids.”
Thoughts on their springs overall?
“Yeah I think Devin in particular has had an outstanding spring. He’s really done some very nice things and has developed in the position more and more. Needs more time in situations like this where there’s a lot of people watching and the pressure’s on and all that, but he has really done a nice job. And Russ -- I said it last week and the week before -- Russ has been steady and solid and [when] guys get open he hits them. He makes very few mistakes. He’s just one of those kinds of guys. He too is very athletic and can get himself out of some messes. He’s a solid guy.
If Gardner's been really good and Bellomy uninspiring but solid and mistake-light throughout the spring, only one of these traits came through on Saturday.
Twitter took the evidence on hand, considered it carefully, and wrote out a PhD thesis about how Gardner was terrible forever and Bellomy should be the backup quarterback as Gardner became LarryJustin FitzeraldBlackmon. And, yea, because twitter always has the most considered opinions these were not immediately regretted in the morning and… actually, hold that twitter sarcasm for one twitter moment.
Do we of the twitter hivemind regret that? Let's consider the evidence. Last year Gardner got into various games and threw 23 passes. He was 11 of 23 for 176 yards (7.6 YPA), one touchdown, and one INT. There was also this:
The defense would like to add this:
That's not much to go on. Let's make our data big, at least insofar as it can be made so.
In three consecutive spring games he's looked bad. You may remember Jake Ryan bursting onto the scene last year with a pick six thrown directly at his dome by Gardner. Yeah. Stuff on Gardner from the last spring game post:
As per usual, many events from the spring game are in the eye of the beholder. Is Devin Gardner's inability to find anyone open an indictment of him, an indictment of the second-team wide receivers, or… uh… like… people being covered? I know that latter seems improbable but I have seen football games in which this has happened. …
Unfortunately, there was a lot that was unambiguously bad, most of it from the quarterbacks: interceptions whistled yards over the intended receiver's head or thrown directly at linebackers, a Mallett-like plague of dropped snaps, offsides calls, etc. The general impression was more 2008 than 2010. … The QBs sucked on their own. …
Devin Gardner was also inaccurate in drills. They have this dig route where a slot receiver works to the seam then cuts his route off 15 yards downfield and Gardner was consistently missing it.
Robinson went out and did okay for himself after that business, minimizing its importance in our attempts to judge him. For Gardner it remains a big chunk of the time we've gotten to see him.
Here's the video of the year previous:
A summary of that from the immediate aftermath:
Devin Gardner looked raw as hell, fumbling snaps, scrambling into trouble, and reverting to that ugly shotput motion whenever he was forced to throw on the run. He looked like a freshman, which is okay because he is a freshman. However, the torrent of spring hype that suggested Gardner would probably not redshirt because he would be Michigan's best quarterback by UConn… eh, not so much. Maybe it was just a bad day. Even if it was an off day, Robinson showed enough to relegate Gardner to the bench for the first couple games and hopefully his whole freshman year.
Gardner did show the his deep touch on a third and long seam to Odoms that was laid in perfectly. Odoms dropped it.
Gardner got safetied and intercepted on the same play and still probably had a better overall outing than he did yesterday.
So. This is our oeuvre. Now consider Michigan's situation:
- They didn't even attempt a long pass yesterday, presumably because they were all covered. After tight end, wide receiver is the position on offense that could most use an instant talent infusion.
- Most of the unambiguously good things Gardner did yesterday involved his legs. That scamper down the sideline… good lord y'all. It's not a big stretch to declare him the best athlete on the team outside of Denard, and given that size and wingspan he could be pushing close to #16.
- Bellomy looks like a competent game manager should the need arise.
- Given Robinson's previous two seasons at QB, the need almost certainly will arise.
- Moving Gardner away from quarterback gives Michigan exactly two QBs this year and next and means either a true freshman or low-profile redshirt sophomore starts for M in 2013.
What do you do with that? Hell if I know. If you still had Forcier around and recruited a 2012 quarterback I would be at the post office right now watching Hoke mail a bow-clad Gardner* to Jeff Hecklinski. If there were enough of us and a fiddle we'd probably be singing Hava Nagila and dancing.
*[He's also wearing a full uniform, pervs.]
In Michigan's current situation, moving Gardner is asking for this interlude in game nine:
MCDONAUGH: Michigan's quarterback is now Jack Kennedy. Ask not what your team can do for you, Jack, amirite?
MILLEN: He looks really, really sweaty.
MCDONAUGH: Astute observation, Matt. Jack Kennedy is soaked in a bodily fluid we dearly hope is sweat.
MILLEN: Someone should get him an IV. I… what is that? That can't be healthy.
MCDONAUGH: Jack Kennedy is leaving a trail of viscous material behind him that must be a slurry of sweat and pure, distilled fear. Here's the snap. Kennedy hands off from the I-form… Vincent Smith with a one-yard loss.
MILLEN: Can all that fluid really be coming out of his body?
MCDONAUGH: Take it from my uncle Morty: all that and more. Vincent Smith with a one-yard loss.
MILLEN: How can he even hold on to the ball?
MCDONAUGH: I have no idea. This series of one-yard losses may be the most heroic in football history. Vincent Smith tackled for a loss of one.
MILLEN: Just look at him not fumble that snap despite having lost half his body weight in the past six minutes.
MCDONAUGH: It's kind of beautiful.
MILLEN: For spacious skies. For aglumb waves of grain. For purple mounted mohair above the fruit-tossed Spain. AMERICAAAAAAA—
MCDONAUGH: Hagerup in to punt.
MILLEN: –AMERICAAAAAAAA, GOD SPED HIS FACE ON THEEEEEE. AND CROWN THY HOOD WITH BROTHERGOOD FROM PEA TO SHINGLING PEA.
MCDONAUGH: Inspiring stuff from Ann Arbor. Michigan has six yards of offense at the half. We'll be back after this commercial break.
SCENE. This may have been drug-induced.
Anyway. They'd probably just put Gardner in and hope they hadn't stunted his development to the point where he'd be totally useless. Things would go poorly.
Could you blame them that much, though? If Hoke reaches for the brass ring next fall and it blows up in his face because Denard goes down and the guy who was supposed to be his backup is at wideout, I probably wouldn't even be mad. It would suck, but I want a guy who will swing for the fences.
While the coaches are going out of their way to make it sound like that is not in the cards, sometimes the relationship between reality and what coaches have to say to not have horrible things happen is great. If Devin wants to be the #2 QB going into fall Michigan would be foolish not to downplay the WR stuff until he's on campus in the fall. Once he's there, then talk to him about moonlighting while still being the #2.
Gun to the head, I think he does see a lot of time at WR in fall camp. He'll still practice most of the #2 QB snaps but also taking a share of snaps at WR when Denard is out there. They'll teach him one of the four spots—probably Hemingway's—and use him in certain three and four wide receiver packages for 15-20 snaps a game. If he proves to be a top-flight guy quickly Michigan might not have much choice about using him more in tight games, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
If Denard goes down for any length of time, it'll be Devin.
Meanwhile there are 20 or 21 other positions Michigan has to fill…
All Eyes(z) On Campbell
"It just means I can't slip at all, because I got 120 eyes on me now," Campbell said of leading the team on the field.
Well… there's no denying he looked a lot better.
Like, a lot. Last spring game guy was a lump who managed to not get blown off the ball most of the time and just about never did anything. During the year he was largely that with some nice plays mixed in, but too infrequently to be encouraging. In the spring game he had clearly progressed enough to actually beat his man to the gap more than once.
You know all those runs Rawls had where he had to abort mission and find another hole? Most of those were headed at Campbell. Since we got a baseline for Ricky Barnum in the time he got before his ankle injury last year—decent Big Ten player even then—that's a hopeful sign.
Mattison and Hoke hated it, though, hated everything. I am factoring in further improvement as this line Heningers themselves into ship shape by fall. Enough to survive a 'Bama onslaught? Probably not, but they'll be okay afterwards.
Other DL Items
Roh and Black each showed some pass-rush ability from their spots and neither got ostentatiously rammed into the endzone on a big run play. The going was tough for the offense. With four-ish starters back from an OL that paved the way for Michigan running backs—IE, no Denard—to average 5.7 YPA last year, I'll place that in the good column. The extremely tenuous good column.
One nice thing the moves do is it allows Mattison to play a ton of games with his line. Black and Roh can both function as outside DEs just fine, so Mattison can call plays where the line slants and stunts such that one of those guys ends up playing a WDE-ish slot whenever he wants. What Michigan lacks in bulk they'll have to make up for with quickness and the element of surprise; Mattison will have some chess pieces to do that with next year. Note that the touch sack on the Gardner waggle came from the containing… Black. Usually your three-technique is not the guy asked to do that.
The depth here was also encouraging. Richard Ash made a couple nice plays, which I was not expecting. One was an excellent string-out on a stretch play that forced the tailback to awkwardly cut behind him. I was beyond not expecting that. I don't think John Gasaway will get on me if I say I was shocked. Yeah. Later he showed up two yards in the backfield directly in the path of an iso; he got blocked from the side but the bounce he forced saw Marvin Robinson chop poor Vincent Smith down for a one-yard loss.
Redshirt freshman Keith Heitzman also was a standout on the second units, though his inability to flow down the line at the proper angle was the main issue on Rawls's fourth-and-short touchdown. He got into the backfield plenty. Once you've got a guy who can get there it's not that hard to get him to take the right angle against air.
Toussaint clubberates Morgan, via the Wolverine
None serious. Desmond Morgan took a cut block from Fitzgerald Toussaint and limped his way to the sidelines for the day; a source indicates that is not serious and shouldn't affect him at all. Jerald Robinson also had a minor boo boo that should not affect him.
The only player to miss the game was backup SDE Nate Brink, and that injury was no surprise since it happened before the Sugar Bowl. Barring a non-contact injury, Michigan should hit fall camp with everyone on the roster ready to go. Everyone save Brink, the suspended Josh Furman, and the mysteriously absent-but-returned now Tamani Carter got a full spring session in.
So they've got that going for them. That's a lot better than last year when five or six important players, including Toussaint and Lewan, were sidelined.
The Burzynski Start
World, meet Joey Burzynski, the redshirt sophomore walk-on who started at left guard in the spring game. That's not a huge surprise since a lot of shadowy spring practice reports praised him as a potential contributor and he had seen some time with the ones in the King of Tight Frames' highlight videos throughout the spring. His start may not mean anything more than Michigan wanted a decent right tackle (Elliott Mealer) on the second unit to give Bellomy a little time, but the guy started the spring game and must be considered an obvious member of the two-deep.
This is a development that strikes me as concerning. Redshirt freshman Chris Bryant has been getting a lot of shadow praise for a year now and he doesn't seem to be anywhere close to finding a starting job. Not only is he behind Mealer on most days when Mealer is a guard, he's behind Burzynski. Decrement your Bryant excitement meters.
No offense to Burzynski, but until proven otherwise the assumption here is that the spot featuring a walk-on is going to be a problem. Even if it's not that's a spot that will be subject to fierce competition in fall.
Q: does Michigan have enough faith in one of its incoming freshman tackles to move Kalis from primary tackle backup—this site's assumed role for him as a freshman—to left guard competitor? A: Dunno. I do know they like Ben Braden a lot, like far more than the recruiting sites did. Whether he's got the polish to be that third tackle or not I don't know. I would look at insta-move of Kalis inside as a good sign as far as Magnuson and Braden go. That'll be something to watch for in the spring.
Thomas Rawls: Ramming Speed
We got a few carries from Toussaint to remind us that yes, Virginia, Michigan has a true feature back again. The headliner amongst the backups was sophomore Thomas Rawls, who showed a knack in short-yardage ramming and the sort of spread-oriented north-south RAGE runs that Brandon Minor used to specialize in.
It was the short yardage that was most impressive. Michigan's OL was rarely getting Rawls the holes they intended to get him. I'll leave the debate about whether that was Mattison's DL being better than expected or the OL worse for people who enjoy debating impossibilities; what was certainly impressive is that when that happened to Rawls he downshifted behind wherever the intended hole was supposed to be and burst into the next one over—closer to the middle of the field. He lowered his head, knocked guys back, and showed enough presence of mind to reach the ball across the goal line when he was suspended near it. Your short-yardage back: check.
Rawls also displayed that north-south bowling ball mentality on a couple of belly plays from the gun on which flailing arm tackles failed to bring him down and he fell forward after contact. He's got enough of a package to also provide breathers for Toussaint when he wants out. He'll get 5-10 carries a game this year and fill a role. Not sure if he'll ever reach feature back status with two more years of Toussaint and the Isaac(?)/Smith cavalry coming in next season, but he doesn't have to to be a good idea.
Vincent Smith: Did I Do Something Wrong?
Dear Tiny Jesus,
It's me, Vincent. All praise to your save percentage. Could you make sure the spring game is the last time I ever run an iso play from under center? I never go anywhere and it hurts a lot when six 300 pound defensive tackles fling me into the natatorium.
Congratulations on your call-up with the Blue Jackets.
Tiny Bros Before Other Bros,
(Smith will be the third down back again and will level some dudes way bigger than he is to open up third down conversions. The power of Rawls hopefully compels Michigan not to run Smith out of the I any more.)
Spring game disclaimers apply, but where were Jerald Robinson and Roy Roundtree? They were out there. They were not targeted frequently. IIRC Roundtree got a hitch from Robinson on the first drive and then was not gone to again. Robinson featured from time to time but never as a downfield receiver, always as a checkdown option and usually a checkdown option being given a crappy pass.
The only receiver to make an impact was Gallon. I'd prefer Michigan's main target to be a big dude with a bigger catching radius, no offense Denard.
Secondary Status Quo
After a series of video clips heavily featuring comer Terrence Talbott with the ones instead of JT Floyd it was Floyd who got the start Saturday. He played well, making quick tackles on the short stuff. Later he broke up a slant on a goal-line situation only to get a horsecrap PI call (BOOO PRETEND REF, BOOO). While Talbott got some run, I don't think Floyd's job is under serious threat. Especially after Mattison gushed about him at that Glazier clinic some months ago.
As a unit the secondary was excellent. Countess got a pick and there were very few downfield completions. A skinny post from Gardner to Gallon stands out as the only one of note. Default note about how that makes the WRs look bad goes here; comparison to Michigan defenses pre-Mattison also does. To virtually skunk an offense in 60 plays is quality. With Talbott emerging Michigan seems to go four-deep at corner, maybe five or six depending on how ready Hollowell and Taylor are. The comparison to the Never Forget days is wondrous.
If the depth isn't quite as good at safety at least Jarrod Wilson and Marvin Robinson seemed on top of things… most of the time. Wilson was the guy Rawls made most of his highlights against. If either starter goes down there will be some hairy moments. One of the two should be able to replace 80% of Kovacs next year.
Robinson is out of the doghouse and to see him play well was good because I'd gotten some practice buzz that indicated he was out of shape. He's obviously not; he seems tuned in. Michigan will need him. Even if Furman's stuff was as minor as his lawyer suggests he'll be behind this fall. If it's not as minor he might not be available for a while.
Do Not Be Alarmed, Rich Rodriguez Is Still In Arizona
Formations and such: Michigan still can't run out of the I worth a lick, which is fine by me. I suppose we have to downshift into that stuff eventually, but I'd rather it be clear as day that the way to go is shotgun just to prevent any further Iowa-like misunderstandings of where Michigan's capabilities lie.
Aside from that the most interesting aspect of the day's formations was the most common set: two backs, three WRs, shotgun. That was the meat and bones of the spread and shred in its Slaton/White/Schmitt heyday and Michigan has a pretty good replica of that in Toussaint/Robinson/Hopkins, albeit without the spread-oriented OC and the lethality of the spread in the early aughts as allies.
This says what everyone expects about the TEs—yuck—and suggests that if Michigan can't block 'em they're going to spread 'em. If it's going to work they are going to have to make that gray area defender pay for cheating. We'll see.
Brandin Hawthorne: Mauler of Walk-ons
The most interesting thing that happened after Jack Kennedy entered, signaling the end of serious attention from most folk, was Brandin Hawthorne going ham. He shot a gap for a backfield TFL reminiscent of his slice into the Irish backfield late in that game, then intercepted a TE-bound ball on the next play.
He made a few other tackles here and there and looked… really good.
Now, we've seen him on the field and there's only one way Hawthorne making contact with a Big Ten blocker ends. That would be "poorly," and that would be why Desmond Morgan took his job last year and won't give it back this year.
I'm just saying, though. Just sayin' that when Michigan goes to a nickel package on a passing down I think having Hawthorne in there as a blitzer and cover guy instead of Morgan would behoove Michigan. Morgan's a little ponderous on his pass drops, and if it's a passing down Hawthorne's limitations against rushes aren't relevant. Just sayin'. Throwin' it out there.
You, athletic department intern who has to read these things: don't say you got it from me. Ask Mattison to repeat that thing he was saying a couple months ago about using Hawthorne as a nickel WLB and how smart that seemed even before he was killing walk-ons in the spring game. Yeah.
- Bellomy ran a QB power from the gun, so it's still there and it might stick around for a while. Bellomy did decently with it.
- There were also a few inverted veers, none of which went for a ton of yards. Gardner did impressively juke himself into a crease outside on one; he was blown dead before he could test it.
- Kaleb Ringer had an impressive track-and-tackle on Hayes in the open field off a dumpoff. Next play he whiffed a tackle on Toussaint (I think it was him).
- Jeremy Jackson's lack of separation from Blake Countess was… not surprising.
- Demens blanketed a Brandon Moore TE out that Gardner shouldn't have thrown but did; he made a nice play on the ball. His coverage is an underrated aspect of his game.
- Antonio Poole only popped up on my radar when he lost leverage on a Gardner scramble late.
Weather could have been worse. This is what Indiana was facing down for their now-cancelled spring game:
Tre Roberson put the One Ring into the fires of Mount Press Box and things returned to normal.
Random picture on the twitter:
Tuley-Tillman, Bosch… OH GOD WHAT DID THEY DO TO DENARD BREATHE BREATHEEEE
LaQuon Treadwell with Morris and Bosch:
Alumni game recap at AA.com.
Bullets and whatnot from:
Also AA.com has an article on Burzynski.
Sophomore Thomas Rawls is making a push for more carries this fall.
This Saturday marks the Spring Game, when we all watch a glorified scrimmage and make snap judgments like "Mark Moundros is going to start at middle linebacker," and "Tate Forcier has the Heisman in his future." (Okay, I admit, I said both of those things, but luckily the evidence has been wiped from the internet.) Nevertheless, it's the only semi-competitive football we'll see until the fall, providing us our lone peek into the progress of the team and the various position battles.
Here's what I'll be hoping to see from the offense on Saturday:
Mediocrity. I know, right? This is actually more of a defensive point, but I want to put this here: in the spring, the defense should be ahead of the offense in terms of installing their schemes and playing cohesively. It's no coincidence that we saw the offense absolutely wreck the defense in the 2009 and 2010 games, then look downright ugly at times in last year's edition. I don't need to tell you how those respective seasons turned out. After just two weeks of practice, the offensive line won't have gelled like they will in the fall, the timing between quarterback and receiver is often a little off, and the playbook is still very much in the installation phase. This plea may fall on deaf ears, but don't freak out if the offense isn't marching up and down the field; in fact, feel free to be a bit encouraged.
Gardner Gardner Gardner. All eyes will be on Devin Gardner, though the odds of the coaches trotting him out at receiver for a nationally-televised scrimmage are somewhere between zero and zero. He will be playing quarterback, however, and it's time to see a big step forward from him in the passing game. Practice accounts have been positive in that regard and it sounds like he's the clear-cut #2 QB ahead of Russell Bellomy, though we'll see how big of a gap there is between those two. If Bellomy looks like a passable second-stringer, you can keep hope alive for some Denard-to-Devin connections in the fall. If not, the coaches may find it too risky to split Gardner out wide.
Bowling Ball Rawls. I was pretty high on Thomas Rawls when he came out of high school, and after a freshman year spent mostly on the bench, he's impressed practice observers with his power as a running back and is making a strong push for the backup job. Vincent Smith will inevitably see snaps on third down, but there's still room for a back to spell Fitzgerald Toussaint on occasion and provide a different look in the backfield. Though Rawls won't make many people miss, he can knock them over, and if he shows that against the first team defense we can start thinking of him as a change-of-pace/short-yardage back. Redshirt freshman Justice Hayes has also drawn praise in the spring, though he'll have to prove he's either a more effective runner than Rawls or a more explosive receiving option than Smith to carve out a role; neither is out of the question given his athleticism.
Number One Target? The general assumption is that Roy Roundtree will be the top receiver this year, but I'm not sold on that. His production dropped dramatically last season as he played more on the outside and was no longer the beneficiary of numerous QB OH NOES as a RichRod slot receiver. Jeremy Gallon flashed a lot of talent last season, and I think he'll be a very capable second option, but he's 5'8". Hope may come in the form of redshirt sophomore Jerald Robinson, who's been lauded as a potential go-to guy this spring despite never recording a collegiate catch. This may be your standard Johnny Sears-type spring hype, but let's withhold judgment until we see him on the field. If nobody looks like a solid #1 option, there's going to be a lot of pressure on Amara Darboh come fall.
My Kingdom for a Tight End. This is the scariest position group on the roster, and that's taking into account the fact that the offensive line has almost no depth. Redshirt senior Brandon Moore is the starter by default; he's had issues with drops in the past, so hope he holds onto the ball if it comes his way. Converted wideout Ricardo Miller will get time as an H-back (the "U" tight end in this offense), and he must prove he can hold up as a blocker if he wants to see much time. Behind them are redshirt senior walk-on Mike Kwiatkowski and converted DE Jordan Paskorz. If this unit isn't a total liability, I'll take it, especially with A.J. Williams and Devin Funchess providing reinforcements in the fall. If they are, Al Borges is going to have to get very creative with his schemes.
O-line Depth: Do We Have Any? The first-team offensive line should be just fine, with projected left guard starter Elliott Mealer the only unknown quantity. Mealer is a redshirt senior who's currently beating out a highly-touted (and massive) redshirt freshman in Chris Bryant, so I'm not too concerned about his ability to fit in. Ricky Barnum has reportedly adjusted well to his new role as starting center; again, I'm optimistic about the first team's ability. PANIC! will set in, however, if a starting lineman goes down, especially a tackle. The second-team line this spring features three(!) walk-ons, and while redshirt sophomore guard Joey Burzynski has impressed practice observers, color me skeptical of any 6'1", 284-pound walk-on being anything but a frightening liability in a game situation. The backup tackles are all walk-ons, at least until Kyle Kalis hits campus for the fall, so expect Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield to be encased in bubble wrap until September.
Kickers. Make your field goals, please and thank you. That is all.
The king of tight camera angles was really feeling it this time around, so we don't get a whole lot of detail, but it's April. Events are not thick on the ground.
Play 1: Denard fires a TE out to Brandon Moore, immediate tackle by Kenny Demens and Jake Ryan. Ricardo Miller comes into the frame late: 2TE set from the shotgun, or Miller's splitting his time between TE and WR.
Play 2: What looks like an inside zone from the shotgun breaks big. Ryan is coming around the backside and gets butt-blocked by Lewan, and that's all she wrote. Where is the SDE?
Play 3: Similar but Toussaint hits his gap closer to the frontside between Omameh and Barnum. Black gets handled one-on-one by Barnum and Toussaint jukes a filling safety I can't identify to dance into the endzone. I think that was probably Marvin Robinson since he was not a white guy and Gordon comes into the frame at the end of the play. Bolden and Talbott are also in with what seems like the first unit.
Play 4: Denard zips a deep slant just over the outstretched hand of Brennen Beyer that Jeremy Gallon snags impressively:
That's Countess to the left. He's concentrating on the interception instead of the tackle and gives up a bunch of YAC as a result.
Play 5: Marvin Robinson clubs a quick TE out for little gain. Second unit there: Ringer and Mike Jones are on the field.
Play 6: More 2-on-2s action as an inside zone to Rawls is well defended on the front side; Rawls cuts back behind Quinton Washington for a big gain. Washington is a three-tech next to NT Ash, so it's not really his fault. Where is the WDE?
Play 7: Denard under center. Iso handoff to Toussaint goes nowhere as Ryan makes a nice play. Campbell beat Barnum and forced Toussaint behind the A-gap where Hopkins was leading into; Morgan thumped the FB at the LOS. Bolden now running with the first team. probably because this is after Demens did this:
He took the opportunity to claim he'd be out for the season as an April Fools joke before revising that down to a few weeks and then a couple days.
Play 8: Vincent Smith power from under center goes nowhere. Bolden ends up tackling near the LOS. He does not bring his feet, causing someone to cry out "bring your feet!"
Play 9: Gardner launches a deep fly to Gallon; Countess is all over it, knocking it away.
Play 10: Under center power is pretty much stuffed until Ryan can't quite make a tackle on Toussaint as he breaks outside containment. He did a good enough job of stringing him out and slowing him down that Countess and other members can rally and hold it down. Michigan still can't run power from under center.
It is possible that Toussaint had a decent gain if he slammed it up in the hole.
Play 11: Denard sits in the pocket, getting no pressure, then runs around being all fast and stuff.
Play 12: Gardner waggle does not meet pressure on the edge. Gardner lofts a nice touch pass over Frank Clark to walk-on former DE Chris Eddins.
Interlude: Man, is Elliot Mealer's forehead red.
Also he has a great mountain man beard going on. Some potential here for Mealer to be Mike Hart's Pet Viking down the road.
Play 13: Another under center run should be consumed until Toussaint makes it into a decent gain. Toussaint has to dodge Beyer in the backfield. Campbell is stunting behind this and overruns the play a little bit; he's got help to the frontside and lets Fitz behind him. He gets enough of Toussaint to put him to the ground but not before the play gets six or seven.
Play 14: Denard hangs in the pocket and zings it to Gallon; ball is well behind him and Gallon has to make a moderately difficult catch. I don't think this is that bad of a throw—at the coaches' clinic Borges said he wants his QBs to hold the receiver up when throwing against zone, which this is. He doesn't want the QB to lead the WR into a defender. So this is somewhat intentional.
Talbott still out there with the first team.
Play 15: Another TE out, this one from Gardner to Jordan Paskorz and a bit deeper. Jarrod Wilson appears for the first time.
Play 16: Denard zings a TE in to Moore for a first down. Gordon tackles.
Play 17: Taylor Lewan blocks Ryan. We don't see the ball.
Play 18: Unidentifiable leaping guy (probably Ryan or Beyer) dissuades Denard from throwing the throwback screen. Instead he takes off and is fast and stuff.
Any takeaways here? It feels like the offensive line depth chart is approaching ink: Barnum has won the center job and Mealer is the guy at left guard. We haven't seen a snap that would suggest otherwise yet. Things can change when the cavalry arrives in fall; for now it looks like the veterans have the edge.
There are a lot of plays featuring tight ends, which is kind of odd since everyone's claiming their tight ends are a major issue and won't feature much during the year. Eddins, Moore, and Paskorz all feature. This may be the Johnny Sears move where you promote the weakest link on the team in an effort to keep spirits buoyed.
Other bits: Bolden passed Mike Jones the minute he showed up. Terrence Talbott could be a viable option at corner and may be pressing for some time. Also he has six arms and an FTL drive. /BOOM FredJackson'd. Campbell isn't getting blown up by Barnum. They've got some edge issues. Big ones, issues where you wonder if they weren't playing with ten guys on the field.
Denard is fast. Their under center running game is still poor. Jeremy Gallon is making some nice downfield catches, and Toussaint is on another level from Rawls and Smith. You can see the difference immediately in these tight-frame closeups.
This will not be a surprise to BWS readers, but dangit I also have my veer package and I'm going to run it. Because so there.
NOMENCLATURE NOTE. This from Chris Brown on nomenclature complaints:
Also I saw your note on whether the play should be labeled an "inverted veer." Others may disagree, but to me the fact that there's a guard pull doesn't make it not a "veer" -- you can have a veer play with all kinds of block schemes ("down" schemes, inside zone schemes but leaving a guy unblocked). The regular veer is just where the RB and QB go to the same side and you leave a defender unblocked. I may be responsible for the "inverted veer" name from naming it that a couple of years ago but I hear coaches call it that all the time now. "Dash read" is the other way to call it but that's not all that descriptive.
I put up a post on the scheme from this year. I note in there that you can run the play with either power blocking and a guard pull or zone blocking; I know teams that do both. Just depends how you want to deal with the second level.
I've been calling it inverted veer for a long time and it's not wrong-wrong—"veer" generally means leaving a playside DE unblocked, which the play does. I'll keep calling it that and note when it does not feature a pulling G.
Show show. Michigan finally—finally—made the inverted veer a primary part of their offense, fulfilling a desire I've had ever since Smart Football posted on the thing way back when. It worked really well, from Denard's 41 yard touchdown to open the scoring to Denard's six yard touchdown to continue the scoring, to… yeah. You get it.
The veer was perhaps the core play of an offense that did this to Ohio State:
- three and out
- 47-yard touchdown drive
- 52-yard touchdown drive
- three and out
- Michigan gets a first down, whereupon Denard fumbles
- 80-yard touchdown drive
- 80-yard touchdown drive
- 40-yard drive from own nine followed by punt disaster
- 75-yard touchdown drive
- 80-yard touchdown drive that morphs into 54-yard field goal drive thanks to replay incompetence and penaltyfest
Without looking it up I guarantee you that is Michigan's best-ever offensive performance against the Great Satan in the modern era. That is a short game and 38 legitimately acquired points. Ten real drives, six touchdowns, four of them 75 yards or longer, two three and outs. An average of 46 yards a drive. As weird and disappointing as Michigan's defensive performance was, the offense made up for it in spades.
And the thing is, I'm not sure Michigan is even running the veer that well. You know how Denard had to juke that guy on his 41-yard touchdown? He shouldn't have had to. Omameh blocked the guy the play options off:
With a lead blocker taking the corner you can see the read is Shazier here. Shazier indicates he's flaring out (or Denard just pulls because that seems to be the default on the veer). The pull is a good default since Shazier has a nasty tendency to have no idea where the ball is on plays like this, a major reason Penn State tore up the Buckeye run D. (It's worth noting that for all the panting about Shazier once Sweat went out OSU opponents ran for 6.1 (PSU) and 6.2 YPC (Michigan).)
Here the mesh has already transpired, Denard has pulled, Shazier is still charging at Toussaint, and Denard is going to get a bunch of yards once Omameh blocks MLB Sabino.
SPOILER ALERT: Omameh is not going to block Sabino.
WOOP WOOP WOOP
Now, Omameh does latch on to Shazier. And Shazier has no momentum since he held up and started going backwards; Omameh Te'o's the dude back into a safety with a little help from an improvising Toussaint. I'm a ol' softie so I gave him a plus one despite a missed assignment.
Denard sees grass. Denard runs. Some dude waves a pompom in front of his kneel, which is frustrating but apropos.
This is what pom poms are for: to block vision.
Items of Interest
That is not how they draw it up. They draw it up with Omameh blocking Sabino and Denard jetting past Shazier directly upfield. Here it works out well, but the other play I hate BWS for beating me to had a sadface outcome:
Schofield did the exact same thing Omameh did on this play, blocking the guy who the play options off. The guy way behind the LOS who isn't John Simon? Dude ran himself there because he had no idea who had the ball. Schofield should be moving to the second level to pick off S Orhian Johnson.
This time Denard makes the wrong cut and gets two yards.
As BWS says:
For me, this isn't quite as frustrating as when Michigan fails to run from under center. This seems like a repetition issue. Neither Omameh or Schofield have practiced this blocking scheme as much as they probably should, and pulling across the formation and finding the right defender to block is probably one of those things that just takes getting used to.
That said ARGHHH. Block the right guy. I wonder what goes through Denard's mind during a play like this. "Yes, yes, got'em. Remember, take a knee. Troll Tebow. Chest bump. Hoke Point." Tackled.
This wasn't an issue on the six-yard Denard TD, on which the optioned guy was the way-upfield DE and Hopkins ran outside, taking Shazier with him before blocking him. Denard ended up cutting behind Huyge, who released downfield; Schofield pulled and got a block on Johnson.
BTW, the above-picture play was part of Michigan's second (and last!) three and out. Borges uber alles.
Even with that! Okay, the above is frustrating, but, God, look at all that space. How many times do you think Denard gets corralled there? And what is the payoff when he isn't?
Borges's wonky little adjustment from earlier in the season here is using a lead blocker for the sweep action, which pulls a second defender outside—one evidently unprepared to make this read since nobody ever thinks Denard has it—and makes the pull even more dangerous because of hockey power play analogy*. The veer forces that safety into the box and still works.
[You have a bigger advantage 4 on 3 than 5 on 4; here equal numbers with Denard in space is basically a power play.]
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: MOUNTAIN GOAT. Where is the safety? Jeremy Gallon turned him into a smoking heap of scrap metal.
And he knows it.
BAM BAM BAM BAM
I don't know what it is about five-eight guys from Florida. Their agility helps them in open space, for one, and their height means they are unusually able to get into the chests of opposing defensive backs. And there's some mountain goat in those boys somewhere.
Rep that, rep that, rep that. There are things other than "pulling guard doesn't block the optioned guy" that seemed like they could be coached up: on one play that ended up a give John Simon split the difference between the two potential ballcarriers and managed to spin Toussaint around at the LOS.
Denard could/should be riding the mesh point a little longer to force that DE to commit when it's not obvious. Maybe not; that is a great play by a great player and sometimes that's just going to happen. I just remember Juice Williams holding that thing forever, until the DE freaked out and took off for the tailback, and then being a 500-foot-tall robot.
Play action lack frustrating. Michigan went to a play action look off of this that turned into a five yard scramble instead of a potentially huge play because there were two unblocked guys on the edge and one blocker (who didn't block anyone). This has been a consistent frustration going back to the last couple years of the Rodriguez era: Michigan struggles to effectively run deep play action because the nature of their shotgun run game often leaves players unblocked and forces quick throws.
Rodriguez avoided this with QB Oh Noes pop passes on which Denard faked his iso and then dropped to pass. No pulling linemen, no edge issues, no guys who must be left alone for the play to seem convincing. I'm hoping Borges works something out to get big plays off counters to this over the offseason.
Formation notes: We have lost control of the Denard categorization. Here's a quasi-Fritz with two twinned WRs:
They also ran this without the overload. Note the covered TE. Michigan's been covering the TE for big chunks of this year but never quite as frequently as they did in this game.
We also got Denard in the slot in a not-weird formation:
Denard was also an outside WR in a conventional ace set. On all of these plays he came in motion for a jet sweep fake or ran the end-around motion.
There was also the triple stack that featured in the Multiple Flood picture pages.
Michigan deployed a variant of this with double stacks on both sides of the LOS.
Substitution notes: The line was what it ususally is except Barnum got three drives towards the end of the half before tweaking his ankle and they finally pulled Lewan on the last drive I charted. Gardner you know about; he's getting a dozen or so snaps per game.
Hopkins played 80% of the FB snaps; Toussaint was the main back with Smith featuring in occasionally and getting his usual massive throwback screen; Shaw was the third guy. WR rotation was the usual. Jeremy Jackson may be getting a little more PT as the year progresses. Brandon Moore got in some actual snaps in place of Watson.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M30||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||15|
|Koger and Lewan block down with Molk and Schofield pulling and Hopkins acting as another lead blocker. Lewan(+1) buries the interior of the Purdue line. Koger(+2) has a battle on his hands; he eventually wins it, sealing the playside DE and giving Toussaint the outside. Molk(+1) shoves a linebacker attacking from the inside to the ground and Schofield kicks out the playside LB. Toussaint has a crease and his FB has no one to block until the first down marker. This makes yards.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Koger(2), Schofield, Molk||RUN-:|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||QB iso||Robinson||5|
|WDE jumps the snap count; Denard fumbles said snap. This doesn't have much impact on the play since it's going up the middle on a QB draw/iso type thing and he was going to delay anyway; the delay is now just picking up the ball. Omameh(+1) takes on a heavy rush from one DT and shoves him upfield, out of the play. Molk(+0.5) gets an easy downfield block on one LB; Smith(+1) has to dance through some traffic to get out on his guy; Robinson starts cutting behind those blocks into the secondary when Huyge(-1) loses his guy upfield; that guy disconnects to tackle.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Smith, Molk(0.5), Robinson(0.5)||RUN-: Huyge|
|50||2||5||Denard jet||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Jet stretch||Robinson||-1|
|This is basically an outside zone. DE blows way upfield of Koger(-1), cutting off the outside and taking out Smith. Robinson is now hesitant(-1); instead of bursting to one side or the other of Molk's block he slows up, slips to the ground, and loses yardage. The cutback was there because Schofield(+0.5) slashed the backside DE to the ground; hitting it up hard past Molk would have gotten a few.|
|RUN+: Schofield(0.5), Molk(0.5)||RUN-: Koger, Robinson(2)|
|M49||3||6||Shotgun stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Comeback||Hemingway||10|
|Three WRs stacked behind each other on the wide side of the field. They split, with Grady on an out, Roundtree a post, and Hemingway a comeback. Denard steps up into a clean pocket on a five man rush and zips it to Hemingway, who is covered well. Good timing. This looks like a passing offense. You know. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||TE Out||Koger||Inc|
|Robinson looks left, pumps left, comes to the TE out right, and nearly throws a pick as Holland undercuts the route and gets his hands on the ball. Preview of his INT here. Wonder if Borges saw something that looked vulnerable that Purdue changed. (BR, 0, protection 2/2) This isn't hesitation or anything—Robinson throws the ball just as Koger turns for it. Purdue only had six in the box, which screams “check to run” to me.|
|O41||2||10||Fritz twins||2||1||2||Nickel even||Run||Reverse||Gallon||11 – 15 Pen|
|Screenshot above. Backside DE is keeping contain on Gardner; when he sees the handoff he takes off after Robinson. When Gallon gets it he's done. Gardner(+1) gets the key block on the containing corner; once that guy is being fussed with there's no one inside to deal with Gallon. Hemingway(-1) did not get out on the LB over him (Holland); that guy eventually runs down the line to tackle. This is pretty bad by Hemingway, who had all day to seal off a basically stationary opponent. RPS+2. Lewan gets a personal foul about 30 yards downfield; no replay.|
|RUN+: Gardner, Gallon||RUN-: Hemingway|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||6|
|Simple pitch and catch with Purdue evidently in man. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O39||2||4||Denard jet||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Counter pitch||Smith||5|
|Jet motion, fake handoff, outside pitch with pullers. These are Huyge and Molk w/ Omameh and Koger blocking down. Koger(+1) seals his guy with authority; Huyge(+1) kicks out the corner; Molk(+1) picks off Holland; Schofield(-1) watched Holland, his intended block, run too far outside too quickly and turns around instead of trying to get out on the safety. Safety tackles|
|RUN+: Koger, Molk, Huyge||RUN-: Schofield|
|O34||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 over||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||23|
|WR in the backfield motions out. They run the play that always works. It works. Huyge(+1) gets enough of the corner and that's all she wrote. Molk is sitting, waiting for someone to block who never actually makes contact. Ditto Omameh. Omameh(+1) did do a good job of maintaining a position that caused the safety to keep backing up; he can't do anything when the guy lunges at Gallon twenty yards downfield. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)|
|RUN+: Huyge, Gallon, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O11||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Toussaint||8|
|Same motion. With two TEs, one covered, to the same side of the line as a tucked-in Odoms this screams run outside. It is run outside. Playside DE is beaten by Watson(+2), ending up pancaked five yards downfield. With that edge gone Purdue is in trouble. Koger(+0.5) kicks the CB; Schofield(+0.5) gets a shove on the playside LB; Odoms blocks Holland, a LB, to the ground. Toussaint can run until the last guy cuts him down. This was also massively open on the cutback with Lewan(+1) crushing one TE and Molk peeling back to get the other when no one showed for him.|
|RUN+: Watson(2), Koger(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Odoms, Lewan, Molk||RUN-:|
|O3||2||2||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 over||Run||Zone read belly||Smith||1|
|Short clubs Schofield(-2) to the inside; all Schofield has to do is have a mediocre handle on him and this is likely a TD with the backside DT getting doubled and Denard holding that DE outside. As it is Smith has to cut back and still gets tackled by Short. He did a good job just to get his yard.|
|RUN+: Smith||RUN-: Schofield|
|O2||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||QB power||Robinson||2|
|Purdue has a stunt on that clears a big hole right where the play is going. Two LBs flow hard into it. Omameh(+1) pulls into Holland and puts him on the ground; Toussaint(+0.5) stands up the other. Robinson(+1) cuts back behind them and reaches the endzone before the backside help can run him down.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh, Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||2|
|Denard in the slot, running end-around action. This pulls the playside DE way upfield; Toussaint cuts back behind as Omameh(+0.5) and Huyge(+0.5) double and blow up the playside DT. Toussaint is cutting behind that block and is about to hit it up into the safeties creeping to the LOS when Schofield's guy fights through his block and tackles as he passes the LOS. -1 Schofield. I don't think Toussaint did anything wrong here since he's trying to hit it north-south and hugging the hip of that double. He can't expect this DT to come in out of nowhere.|
|RUN+: Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5)||RUN-: Schofield|
|M39||2||8||Fritz 2WR||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||HB pass||Gallon||Inc|
|Counter pitch that's actually a halfback pass. Smith has pressure from a DE keeping contain and Gallon is covered; Smith chucks it anyway. Fortunately incomplete. Not charted as a pass because he's a tailback. RPS -1.|
|M39||3||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Dig||Roundtree||12|
|Initial protection is okay until a stunt gets a DE in past Omameh. Toussaint picks the guy up in a Smith-like fashion, giving Denard time to whip it to an open dig route Roundtree is running. Ball is deflected near the LOS but still gets there. Tough to judge; results-based charting. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Rollout hitch||Jackson||5|
|Rolled pocket; Denard shoots it out to a short hitch Jackson is running. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O44||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||1|
I don't get why the WRs run off their opposition, including Hemingway. Seems like Hemingway should block down on the playside LB over the slot, which would open up the outside run. This doesn't happen; shouldn't really matter because the DE leaps out on Smith, as does playside LB, and Denard(+1) pulls correctly. This opens up big except for Schofield(-2) losing a downblock—very bad—and the playside DT getting in the lane. Denard has to cut back behind him, which exposes him to Short once Molk trips over the now-prone Schofield. Robinson should have just kept running; he had a big enough gap to run outside the DT and pick up a few. Plus revoked. RPS +1.
|O43||3||4||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Okie||Pass||TE Out||Koger||INT|
|Smith's hitch is covered; Denard comes off it to another hitch. Holland fakes a blitz and backs out right into this TE out; Denard throws it anyway. The out further outside was open enough for the first (probably); a missed read based on a bad pre-snap assumption. (BR, 0, protection 1/1) RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M22||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Down G||Toussaint||-2|
|Barnum in on this drive until the end of the half. Schofield has struggled so far. Safety rolled up for an eighth guy in the box. Moore(-1) fires off well but gets inside of his DE and allows him to flow upfield. Omameh is pulling outside of the twin TEs and gets submarined in the backfield by the hard-charging safety. Not his fault. With Moore not sealing his guy Toussaint has no options other than bouncebouncebounce, but he's not Shaw and he reads it late, tripping over Omameh instead of trying to beat the linebackers to the outside. RPS -1. RUN-: Moore, Toussaint|
|M20||2||12||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 over||Pass||Sack||--||-8|
|Second and twelve I-Form Big play action is basically asking the defensive coordinator 'are you stupid?' Turns out the answer is no. The playside DE gives negative ten thousand respect to the run, instead shooting upfield past Schofield, who has no chance, and the RBs, who are faking a run, to sack Robinson. (PR, 0, protection 0/3, team -3, RPS -2)|
|M12||3||20||Shotgun stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Rollout corner||Roundtree||49|
|Four rushers and a spy; Robinson rolls as the playside DT shoots playside, getting outside and forcing Robinson to pull up. He's got a huge pocket, so no problem. He's also got Roundtree for a big gain on a deep corner route, rifling it to him 40 yard downfield. Pass is a little short or this could be a touchdown. Still... man, do this more often. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1... getting a guy open deep on third and 20.) Featured in Picture Pages.|
|O39||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Fly||Gallon||INT|
|Denard slot, end around fake. Gardner actually has Hemingway coming open behind the Denard freakout but throws an awful pass sort of at Gallon that's easily intercepted. I complained about this on the podcast; I was wrong. This is all Gardner. Borges got a guy open for a 20 yard gain. (BRX, 0, protection 3/3, RPS +1) Also featured in Picture Pages.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q. Next play is a safety; Michigan gets a good return and 15-yard penalty to set them up in plus territory on the next drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read stretch||Toussaint||17|
|Oh, God, how I've missed this. Backside DE has contain; handoff. Molk(+2) reaches the balls off the playside DT. He gets a little help from Barnum but not much. This is mostly Molk bucket-stepping around the DT, taking the little bit of momentum Barnum took away from the guy and introducing him to the turf. That means you are dead, defense. Lewan(+1) kicks out the playside DE like whoah and Toussaint(+2) hits the gaping hole. He cuts inside a LB doing well to get out into two blockers and runs right past Holland, breaking one safety tackle and nearly cutting past the last safety for six; not quite. He settles for the first.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Toussaint(2)||RUN-:|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||2|
|Barnum and Molk pull; Lewan(+1) blocks down on the playside DT and blows him up. Koger(+1) does likewise to the playside DE. Omameh(-0.5) and Huyge(-0.5) don't get a serious delay on the backside DT, leaving him to run down the line; Robinson is contained and about to cut it back behind the pullers to get as many yards as he can before that DT nails him (five or six) when he slips to the turf. Rats.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Koger||RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5)|
|O26||2||8||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-4 even||Run||Sweep||Smith||4|
|Safety in the box for eight. Michigan runs the same blocking scheme at the other side of the line, pulling Molk and Omameh as they try to get outside the TE. Koger(+1) controls, seals, and blows up the playside DE. Omameh(+0.5) kicks the playside LB. McColgan(+1) manages to duck inside of this and dives at the legs of the MLB, getting a two-for one; Smith(+1) cuts up in the right spot and bursts into the secondary. RPS-1; the reason this is so tough is because Molk got shot back by a DL when he tried to pull and was made useless.|
|RUN+: Koger, McColgan, Smith, Omameh(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O22||3||4||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Speed option||Robinson||2|
|Robinson checks and then Purdue flips their line at the last second in response. They're still moving at the snap. Michigan runs a speed option and Purdue is out on it, getting a guy to drive Lewan(-1) back without getting sealed; Odoms can't get a block on the edge, Watson sees two guys outside of him... the outside is screwed. Robinson cuts up, where there's no room because Molk(-1) didn't get any help for Omameh on a tough reach block on a guy he didn't expect to be there. That guy and a safety lined up about seven yards off the LOS combine to tackle. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: FG(37), 12-7, 11 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||16|
|Purdue makes this easy, as they're zone blitzing. The playside DE starts to drop into man coverage on Koger... who is covered up by Gallon and can't go into a route. Derp. Koger(+1) blocks down. Toussaint(+1) sees the total lack of edge and bounces it out, outrunning Holland to the edge. Gallon(+1) got a sustained block downfield to help, but this is just a gift. RPS+1.|
|RUN+: Koger, Toussaint, Gallon||RUN-:|
|M33||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||2|
|Only six in the box so this should work; it doesn't. Omameh(-2) is chucked to the ground by Short. Since this is directly in the path of Robinson that is an issue. Gallon(-1) loses the corner lined up over him and those two combine to tackle. RUN-: Gallon, Omameh(2)|
|M35||2||8||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Penalty||Offsides||--||5|
|Hard count gets them; Robinson kneels instead of taking the free play.|
|M40||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||16|
|I think? Lewan pulls... away from where Toussaint is running. This may be a bust. Purdue dives inside and Lewan walls off Short as Toussaint runs to the backside, finding two unblocked defenders he simply outruns to the corner.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Lewan(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||4-3 over||Pass||PA fade||Gallon||42|
|Aw, man, I don't know. Doug Karsch says he overheard Denard talking about throwing it outside($) here so I'll give the benefit of the doubt, but.. man. I don't know. Anyway, PA fake with Barnum pulling outside to get the containing DE. Toussaint(-1) then sets up to block a guy who is already blocked and lets a linebacker in on Denard. Robinson chucks it off his back foot to the outside; Gallon adjusts and makes the catch. (CA+, 2, protection ½, Toussaint -1)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||2|
|Interior line blows the DTs off the ball. Molk, Omameh +1. Toussaint can hit it straight upfield and get in unless a safety takes him down at like the inch line. Instead he bounces, making a move outside and then a second shift that gets him into the endzone. Not a huge fan of the bounce here so no plus.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Barnum||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 19-7, 5 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||28|
|Barnum pulls; Smith takes the playside DE upfield and Denard pulls the ball out. Barnum(+1) kicks the too-aggressive Holland and Denard(+1) shoots up in the hole; Omameh(+1) dealt with Short well enough to prevent him from even waving an arm. Huyge(+1) is fighting a linebacker the whole play, gets turned around, and manages to latch back on; Grady(+1) blocks another dude and Denard(+1) jets between them. Smith actually breaks his stride by running past him as he threatens to run straight into the endzone; the jump outside gives the corner an angle. Denard runs OOB. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Barnum, Omameh, Huyge, Grady||RUN-:|
|Barnum(-2) driven back by Short. This is right in the lane Toussaint wants; he has to cut back. Omameh is chucked downfield by the other DT, which isn't really his fault because he's trying to seal him under the assumption the play will go to the other side. DT and unblocked backside DE tackle. RUN-: Barnum(2)|
|O24||2||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Counter pitch||Smith||7|
|Denard at WR. Purdue doesn't seem taken in by the fake but Michigan manballs them anyway. Key is again Koger(+2) dominating the playside DE. He manages to get slightly outside the hash on the LOS and then is sealed. Barnum(+1) shot out on the MLB and got in his feet, delaying him. Huyge(+1) kicks out the corner; Molk(+1) blocks the playside LB and Smith has a big lane. He runs into it; Molk's guy does a good job to come off the block and deliver a thumping no-YAC tackle.|
|RUN+: Molk, Huyge, Koger(2), Barnum||RUN-:|
|O17||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power||Robinson||4|
|Blitz up the middle sees Omameh(+0.5) knock the blitzer back but he bounces off and gets playside; Huyge(+1) buries short; Koger(+1) deals with another crappy playside DE. Smith(+1) pops the linebacker in the hole and Denard, after initially taking it too far outside, dodges a charging safety and picks up the first.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Koger, Smith, Omameh(0.5)||RUN-:|
|I guess he has a shot at this if it's thrown to the corner of the endzone but it's way short and Roundtree ends up playing defense on it. He had Koger wide open on the other side of the field in the flat; guy could have probably walked into the endzone. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O13||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 over||Pass||Throwaway||Hemingway||Inc|
|Ton of time but the routes here are weird with Hemingway running a corner route and both other WRs to the trips side just kind of hanging out. Robinson can't find anyone quickly and by the time he comes off the right side of the field everything's covered. He chucks it out of the endzone. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|O13||3||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Nickel even||Pass||Hitch||Moore||9|
|Protection is good; Molk's guy eventually comes around him on a DT stunt he manages to track and get a cut on. This is only a delay; Robinson steps and fires. Some confusion in the zone defense opens both Moore and Gallon up, Gallon on a drag and Moore on a ten-yard hitch. Drag is better but the hitch is there and zinged accurately; Moore makes the catch in traffic to set up fourth and short. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O4||4||1||Ace||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||QB sneak||Robinson||3|
|They get it.|
|O1||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Goal line||Run||QB draw||Robinson||-4|
|This is the Zookian thing. Barnum's hopping around on one leg, Michigan's burning 20 seconds off the clock, they're running a QB draw from the one... not good ideas, these. Barnum(-2) is blown backwards and his guy annihilates Robinson in the backfield. I won't charge this to Barnum because he's clearly hurt.|
|O5||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Throwaway||Koger||Inc|
|Michigan blows a stunt pickup spectacularly because Schofield(-2) does not get enough depth and allows the DE to dive inside of him. Robinson is instantly pressured. He avoids the first guy but has broken the pocket now and has little time. He backs up and throws one off his back foot that is in the general direction of Koger but not catchable. This is on the OL. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Schofield -2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(22), 22-7, EOH. Barnum leaves for rest of game.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M33||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Toussaint||3|
|Koger motions to an offset FB and tucked in WR. Let's have a pitch. Michigan... pitches. Purdue didn't really adjust much and is now shifted away from obvious pitch side. Denard almost screws it up but realizes where the play is going belatedly and gets the ball out. This time (finally) the playside DE holds the edge. Purdue has pulled the guy Michigan was killing off the field. Koger(-1) can't seal the guy, who ends up running all the way to the sideline. Roundtree(-1) shoulders the playside LB and runs by him; Schofield(+1) cuts the MLB. This is all pretty irrelevant because of the DE stringing it to the sideline, exposing Toussaint to a safety.|
|RUN+: Schofield||RUN-: Koger, Roundtree|
|M36||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer sweep||Smith||6 + 15 Pen|
|Playside DE forms up as if it's a zone read so Denard(+1) gives. Good read. Omameh is pulling into space with just one linebacker out there as Lewan(+0.5) got out on an unprepared WLB. Smith(-1) should cut off Omameh's rear to set up that block and burst to the safeties; instead he runs to the edge. Gallon(+1) gets a good sustained block; Hemingway can't prevent his guy from bursting upfield but I think he's in good shape if this actually cuts where it should. RPS +1. Facemask tacked on.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan(0.5), Gallon||RUN-: Smith|
|O43||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||2|
This doesn't seem like a great idea with eight in the box. Hopkins(-1) fails to kick the DE, who comes under him. He can do this with impunity because there's a LB hanging over the slot ready to kill any bounces. Short comes through a double from Huyge(-1) and Omameh(-1) and the two DL combine to tackle at the line. Tempted to RPS-1 this... I used to do this for I-form runs at a stacked boxes.
RUN-: Hopkins, Huyge(0.5), Omameh(0.5)
|O41||2||8||Fritz 2WR||2||1||2||4-3 over||Pass||Throwback screen||Smith||26|
|It always works and it works. Sweep handoff fake to Denard with Gardner rolling to the same side the fake is headed to, so anyone keying on anything is headed to the field. Lovely to watch the backside DE hold up on the fake and then start hauling after Gardner. By the time the pass gets to Smith, nine Purdue defenders are done. The one frigging guy left in the area beats Molk, but I don't really blame Molk, because he should be able to pass said guy to Schofield except both of the other OL are screaming downfield at one safety. Smith(+1) does well to avoid the guy and let Molk set up another block but the delay prevents this from being six points. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3)|
|RUN+: Smith||RUN-: Schofield|
|O15||1||10||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Toussaint||8|
|WR motioning out, Odoms tight to the 2TE side. Pitch? Pitch. Watson(+1) blows up the playside DE, who is the replacement for the other DE who was getting killed. Playside LB inexplicably hits it up inside of the Watson block, erasing himself. Molk peels unnecessarily. Toussaint still has plenty of room with Omameh and Koger leading; he hops outside of Koger, which is maybe not the best idea, but then makes up for it by dancing past a couple tacklers to pick up some YAC. RPS+1.|
|RUN+: Watson, Toussaint, Omameh, Koger||RUN-: Molk|
|O7||2||2||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||5|
|Same story, really. Purdue's DEs suck. This time #2 dives inside late and submarines McColgan, which just bounces Omameh and Toussaint outside. Gotta get two for one to spill. Schofield(+0.5) seals Short with help from Lewan(+0.5); Lewan pops out on LB; Omameh(+1) pulls around to get the last LB after the McColgan business is dealt with, and Toussaint cuts straight upfield once Omameh sets the block up.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Lewan(0.5), McColgan(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||-3|
|Omameh(-2) chucked immediately, blocking no one. McColgan(-1) peels to try to block the guy shooting past Omameh and blocks no one. Many people converge on Toussaint. RUN-: Omameh(2), McColgan|
|O5||2||G||Fritz 2WR||2||1||2||Goal line||Pass||Scramble||Gardner||4|
|Fritz-based rollout gets Gardner the edge and he correctly decides to run for it since his receivers are covered. He nears the goal line and slows up, which is the difference between falling forward into the endzone and getting spun 180 and not making it. (SCR, N/A, N/A)|
|O1||3||G||Ace||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||FB dive||Toussaint||1|
|Toussaint over the top again. This play has run its course and people know it's coming, but this is about an inch from getting in.|
|O1||4||in||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||QB power||Robinson||0|
|Omameh has no chance to pull as Short plunges into the line and nails him. Without that lead blocker and with a crappy block from Toussaint on the edge, two guys can converge on Robinson at the goal line. RPS -1. RUN-: Toussaint|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 22-7, 9 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Iso||Hopkins||1|
|Schofield(-1) is beaten upfield; McColgan aborts to block Short. Omameh(-1) beaten as well and while it's not quite as bad his DT tackles at the LOS. Hopkins(-1) had a massive open cutback lane that makes me think the OL blocked this just fine and he should be running at the gap left by the Purdue defense pursuing playside while the end deals with an end-around fake. McColgan is the only thing that stops me from making this assessment. Still, this is pretty terrible by Hopkins. RUN-: Hopkins, Omameh, Schofield|
|M21||2||9||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||6|
|Inside zone read for the first or second time today. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) blow the playside DT five yards downfield. This engulfs the LBs. Omameh(-1) loses Short and a less comprehensive asskicking on the playside DT would end this play. Gallon(+1) is cracking down on the safety and does well to push him past Smith(+1) who similarly does well to dance past the falling S. Corner is left; Smith makes contact at four yards and goes down at six.|
|RUN+: Smith, Molk, Gallon, Schofield||RUN-: Omameh|
|M27||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Dig||Gallon||14|
|WR stacks on both sides of the line. LB takes Hemingway's hitch, opening Gallon up on a dig route inside of it. Looks like Purdue is in man and got killed by the routes. Robinson nails Gallon in the chest for the first down. Well executed all around. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|M41||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Counter pitch||Toussaint||59|
|Purdue shows man on the motion and has their LBs shifted to the side this play eventually goes to. Purdue has gone back to their original DE; Koger(+2) again kicks his ass at the LOS, sealing him inside the hash. One LB blitzes. Another immediately peels outside looking for this play; there is a second LB on the playside and a safety. That's three. Lewan(+1) kicks one out. One LB keeps leverage, one safety overruns it. Toussaint cuts back. Molk peeled back to deal with the blitzer; blitzer read the play and then pursued out of Molk's reach. As Toussaint nears that guy's pursuit he cuts back behind the meta-pursuing Molk(+1), who picks off the over-pursuing safety. Toussaint slid past this guy on his own. Now past the first level he cuts inside the backside DE's pursuit, sees a gap between the last two guys, and engages the afterburners. Total carnage for Toussaint: four decisions, five Purdue players left in his wake. +4. Replay.|
|RUN+: Koger(2), Lewan, Molk, Toussaint(4), Omameh||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 29-7, 2 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M14||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Iso||Toussaint||6|
|Purdue is shifted to the strong side on the line and in the LBs, so M runs weak at the gap between their one tech and WDE. I think they've also subbed some backups in. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) deposit the playside DT five yards downfield and that's all she wrote on an iso. McColgan(+1) also gets a good block; Toussaint is about to burst into the secondary when he's chopped down from behind by a linebacker Schofield couldn't pop out on quick enough.|
|RUN+: McColgan, Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Schofield(0.5)|
|M20||2||4||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 over||Run||Zone read stretch||Toussaint||0|
|Fail by alignment here; line and LBs shifted playside before the snap. The frontside of this play is blocked really well, with Omameh(+1) cutting the backside DT , Molk(+1) getting into the playside guy and driving him downfield, and three guys getting blocked outside of this but Huyge has no shot at the WLB; he darts into the hole and tackles. RPS -1. Not that I should be tracking RPS anymore.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Schofield|
|M20||3||4||Shotgun stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||9|
|Just five in the box. You are in little jean shorts in a 1980s Heat of the Night episode, Purdue: asking for it. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) blast one DT; Molk moves out on the single LB. Omameh maintains a block on that DT forever w/ some help from Robinson, who sets the guy up one way, then cuts back behind. Linebacker comes up to hack him down, but this was easy. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Molk, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M29||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Toussaint||10|
|Same play as first in this drive w/ no adjustment from Purdue. Schofield(+1) bangs the playside DT; Molk starts blocking him and Schofield pops out on the MLB. Lewan kicks out the DE; Hopkins(+1) gets a thumping kickout on the SLB. That's a big gap and no linebackers. Toussaint to the secondary. He feints outside and comes back inside, getting tackled by the filling safety. RPS+1.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Schofield, Molk(0.5), Lewan(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M39||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Iso||Toussaint||5|
|Same setup, same play. LBs are quicker to the hole, forcing a cutback. Schofield and Hopkins still wall them off; Toussaint smoothly cuts behind them to bend it back. Eighth guy in the box comes from the slot to tackle. Molk(+1) made this by kicking backup NT's butt.|
|RUN+: Molk, Toussaint, Schofield(0.5), Hopkins(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M44||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||19|
|Playside DE is in no man's land; Denard keeps. Playside DT held off by Omameh(0.5). SLB gone on the RB fake; Huyge(+1) gets a block on the MLB; Gallon(+1) is cracking down on the hard-charging safety and can't quite seal him but does give him a good whack that spins him backwards. That is one hell of a lot of room since the RB fake took two guys. Denard into the secondary, where he cuts outside, outruns Holland to the sideline, and tiptoes for a nice gain. RPS+2.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Huyge, Omameh(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O37||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Shaw||37|
|The iso culmination. End around-fake removes the playside DE. Schofield(-1) is hit back too much for the playside to remain relevant; Shaw cuts back behind. Instead of bouncebouncebounce he finds a lane behind Omameh(+1),who is riding a DT down the line, and Huyge(+1) who started to release downfield and then peeled back when no one showed and the backside LB stayed outside. Molk(+0.5) also got a block on a linebacker. Shaw(+3) shifts backside and hits the hole, bursting through a lame tackle attempt and hitting the afterburners. RPS +1 for pulling the DE out.|
|RUN+: Shaw(3), Huyge, Omameh, Molk(0.5)||RUN-: Schofield|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 36-7, 12 min 4th Q.|
|M1||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Power off tackle||Shaw||14|
|Mealer in for Lewan, Huyge to LT. Schofield(+1) makes perhaps the best pull I've seen from a guard this year, getting down the line quickly and planting the MLB. Short is doubled out of the play by Koger(+0.5) and Mealer(+0.5). Hopkins just manages to kick the playside DE, who almost makes a diving tackle near the LOS, but does not. Shaw(+1) breaks outside and outruns Holland to the edge.|
|RUN+: Schofield(2), Koger(0.5), Mealer(0.5), Shaw||RUN-:|
|M15||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Power off tackle||Shaw||3|
|Playside DE gets inside of the Hopkins lead block and Holland is actually on the edge for once. Shaw considers bouncing when he sees the DE get inside Hopkins but reconsiders and hits it up for a modest gain. Average all around, I guess. Tempted to RPS -1 this but it is 36-7.|
|M18||2||7||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Down G||Shaw||1|
|Michigan just running into stacked lines now with Gardner on the field, so I should stop charting. Here the DE does dive inside again and cause some confusion; Molk has to get around this and get a block on one of the LBs; he does so but that guy still has the agility to get around and tackle from behind.|
|M19||3||6||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 over||Run||Pitch sweep||Shaw||3|
|Koger(+1) seals the edge; Huyge(-1) runs past a flowing LB that Molk can't get out on; Shaw is driven outside and should really do a better job of hitting this up but... whatever.|
|RUN+: Koger||RUN-: Huyge|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 36-7, 7 min 4th Q. I shouldn't have even done this last drive.|
I feel adrift in a sea of unknowing.
A sea of unknowing, yards and points.
Fair enough. What about this multiple business?
Well, the money quote from Borges that has been replicated all across the places-that-quote-Al-Borges-sphere:
“That’s really what we’ve wanted to do all year. With two weeks to get ready and some careful considerations with regard to not getting our quarterback beat up, that was a huge issue. We worked hard on trying to get back to what we originally wanted to do. We wanted to be more of a combination of pro to spread offense without, of course, completely divorcing ourselves from spread concepts. We still run a lot of it, but that is closer to what we wanted in the beginning. We just weren’t executing very well. Touss did a great job, and the offensive line moved some people, not only on the line of scrimmage but also on the perimeter.”
This is the direction the offense is headed long-term. There will be all kinds of formations that are rarely the same three plays in a row, shotgun mixed in with big I-form sets, presnap motion up the wazoo, and weird packages that change on a week to week basis.
You say long-term. Isn't this a post-bye week ability to insert more of the actual offense effective immediately?
Maybe, but I have my doubts about how well it will work against teams stouter than Purdue. I know the Boilers coped vaguely well with Illinois and Penn State. I just have no idea how they managed that. Purdue's run defense suuuuuuuuuuuucks.
They have two main issues: the defensive end who is not senior Gerald Gooden and their outside linebackers. Gooden was all right holding the edge, so Michigan ran away from him most of the day. This is because Purdue's other DE is terrible whether it's the starter or the backup. That guy got sealed all day:
That is Michigan's first play from scrimmage. Koger seals the playside DE and that's about it. When that guy isn't stringing the play to the sideline or taking out another blocker your pitch is 75% of the way to success. On this play the MLB taking a dumb angle upfield of the Koger block is the rest of it.
Compounding matters was Joe Holland, who may be one of Purdue's top playmakers but is also slow as hell:
I'm just like… okay. That's two guys alone on the edge with Toussaint and he outruns both of them. A real defense chops this down for a meh gain since the safety flares out to contain.
Even Gooden was subject to a few instances where he was deposited on his butt far away from the tailback:
It's cool that Michigan identified an issue with the opposing defense and exploited it. I don't know if they'll be able to execute something similar against teams with better defenses, which is all of them. Even Iowa.
Is there anything we can take from the run game here?
Boy, they did a lot of stuff. They ran a couple stretches, a couple of inverted veers, a bunch of power stuff… I'm hoping we see Borges pick and choose the things that work and Michigan can execute them effectively.
The veer in particular is something I'd like to see become if not a staple at least something they pull out a few times each game:
As I fruitlessly argued under RR, the zone read is a way to get the ball into your RB's hands while keeping the backside DE honest. The veer is a way to get the ball into your QB's hands while keeping the frontside DE honest. Needs moar veer.
I noticed slightly fewer hearts being ripped out of watchers' own chests when Michigan was throwing the ball this week. Yes?
For this let's—
Rip a chart from the still-breathing chest of an innocent.
Man, you do not like Danny Hope. Chart.
[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
|Notre Dame '11||6||7(1)||1||6(1)||5||1||1||1||-||50%|
Gardner had a SCR, a CA on a screen, and the BR-extreme.
Denard was 9/14 and back into the range his sophomore year hung out at, hoorah. His misses were the INT, a play almost identical to the INT that Holland dropped, a way-short corner route, and two throwaways in the red zone. On the corner route he did not see a blitheringly wide open Koger.
That's still too many dangerous throws given the small number of passes but at least he wasn't missing much. That's a relief after Michigan quarterbacks made the V1 look accurate two weeks ago. Part of that is an increased emphasis on short stuff. BWS pointed out that this first triple stack completion…
…is just a gussied-up version of the snag triangle Michigan ran last year. Denard got a lot of hitches and other routes where he could step in and zing it to the player in question. I was torn on a few different plays about whether to DO them or not because they were slick darts with good timing. While most got filed CA I like it when I'm wondering CA or DO instead of MA or IN.
His one deep ball was thrown in the right spot for his WR to get it—and Gallon had run a good route to give himself a ton of space to the outside.
As for the receivers, they were again strong:
[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]
They didn't have much to do in the passing game but Gallon made a good adjustment to the deep ball and there were no drops. Gallon is pushing Hemingway for the most-targeted WR, though he gets a boost from the screens.
The run chart has a few surprises and a couple things that reinforce what I was suggesting above:
[note: I'm moving to a percentage on the offensive line for the total.]
|Lewan||7||1||6||Would like to see him more involved somehow.|
|Barnum||3||2||1||Also picked up a –2 on the last play he was in on but I didn't hit him for it since he was obviously injured.|
|Molk||15||2||13||Even got a killer reach block for old times' sake.|
|Omameh||13||7||6||Had some issues with Short.|
|Huyge||7.5||2.5||5||Easy time on the edge.|
|Schofield||5.5||10||-4.5||Big step back from two weeks ago. Did get a thumper late.|
|Mealer||0.5||-||0.5||On last drive charted.|
|Watson||3||-||3||Got in on some of the edge bashing.|
|Koger||14.5||2||12.5||Completely clobbered his DE whenever asked to.|
|TOTAL||69||27.5||72%||Moore put up a –1, FWIW. Strong day almost hitting 3:1.|
|Robinson||7.5||2||5.5||Four good reads on the veer.|
|Gardner||1||-||1||Probably should have scored on the boot.|
|Toussaint||12||2||10||I like it when he gets 20 carries instead of 2.|
|Shaw||4||-||4||Enjoy your TD sir.|
|Smith||6||1||5||Frustrating on that screen. Not his fault obviously.|
|Hopkins||1.5||2||-0.5||Now FB, as predicted.|
|Rawls||-||-||-||PT not charted.|
|McColgan||2.5||1||1.5||Not giving up without a fight.|
|TOTAL||34.5||8||26.5||Big positive day thanks to two long runs RBs did much of the work on.|
|Gallon||5||1||4||Don't know what it is about tiny receivers from Florida but they can block.|
|TOTAL||7||3||4||Gallon had a day with and without the ball.|
|Protection||22||6||79%||Team 3, Toussaint 1, Schofield 2. Big bounce-back.|
|RPS||20||9||11||Throwback screens always work.|
So, yeah, monster day from Koger and major, surprising struggles from Schofield. By the time he got pulled in the first half he was already –5 or so. When he came back in the second he was about even, a step forward but still one that saw him finish solidly negative on the day. Both he and Omameh had problems with Short. Short chucked Michigan guards to the ground multiple times—you know those plays on which they ran up the middle into seemingly no blocking? That was Short treating our guards like they were Dileo.
You probably don't need be told about Fitz or the rest of the ballcarriers. The best thing about Fitz's day was the raw speed he showed for the first time. He's been caught from behind more than once in his career. After yesterday…
…that seems injury induced. Also Purdue is slow as hell on D.
Toussaint and Koger may have been able to pick up 4 YPC playing the Purdue defense by themselves. Molk also had a strong game since he wasn't trying to block two guys he didn't know were coming on every play. Gallon was a threat running, receiving, and blocking.
Both guard spots were weak, with left guard particularly glaring. Gardner's INT was egregious and he missed an opportunity to punch it in on the goal line series Michigan was eventually stuffed on.
What does it mean for Iowa and beyond?
Though they didn't throw much I think the developments there may actually be more important as far as the rest of the season goes. Having Denard bounce back and have a strong, if still flawed, day is a relief after the Michigan State debacle. The receivers are pretty good and Borges is getting them open, a trend that should continue against the Iowa secondary or I will be sad. I like the routes Borges is developing; they're obviously more diverse than RR's stuff.
The running game seems like a one-off development based on extremely weak edge play by the Boilers. Toussaint's emergence is the main takeaway for future weeks; put him in situations he can find holes and let him go 15-20 times a game. I'm a bit worried about the OL with Lewan constantly rising from the grave, Barnum tweaking his other ankle, and Schofield having a mighty struggle, but I also think Short is an all Big Ten player next to Devon Still… so we might be able to get away with it against the rest of the schedule. There is no Liuget or Clayborn or Crick; the big flashing danger sign is OSU's John Simon.