national champs baby
11/3/2012 – Michigan 35, Minnesota 13 – 6-3, 4-1 Big Ten
The only press box I've ever been in is Eastern Michigan's, and I was there to watch Devin Gardner play. He was at Inkster; Inkster was in the Big Day Prep Showdown. We even live-blogged it. The cadre of grizzled preps guys sat a few seats down. Their silverback called Gardner "high school superman" and Paul taped him from the sideline.
In an eerie prefiguring of Denard Robinson's career, Gardner had a ridiculously high percentage of Inkster's yards and made everyone feel ill when he got knocked out of the game. Inkster was on a grinding fourth quarter drive with Inkster down two. They had no kicker, so on fourth and seven from the eight they went for it. Gardner did a Vince Young impression down to the one and did not get up.
The backup came in to guide Inkster to minus three yards on the next three plays. Gardner was reinserted for fourth and the game. He rolled out into heavy resistance, drew coverage to him, and threw a weird mechanics-free jump pass that scored the go-ahead touchdown. His teammates celebrated; he laid under a defender. Defender removed, Gardner got up like a glacier tired of gouging lakes out of mountains. Weary. A thousand years weary.
In the press box, the preps silverback spake thusly: "and on fourth down, he rose again."
[UPDATE: Damn my memory. This was actually a Tim tweet. Sorry I didn't remember it right and work you in all fancy-like, Tim.]
With Gardner on the sideline, Pioneer went 68 yards in 49 seconds to win. At halftime, the Free Press had launched their Rodriguez jihad, sucking any attention his Lazarus comeback may have generated out the airlock.
That's just how being Devin Gardner has gone. He arrived with an armload of hype and fell prey to an avalanche of it wearing dreads. He didn't even get to preserve his redshirt year thanks to Tate Forcier's inability to keep on the sunny side of life and Denard going out in about 2/3rds of Michigan's games. He moved to receiver, but called himself a quarterback. He saw the Nebrasaka game up close and personal. What was he thinking then about where he had ended up?
Things happen and you feel certain ways about them and you can only figure out why you felt the things you felt in the moment later, after. From distance I think my extremely complicated yesssnononononoyessss response to Gardner's rolling out stopping neh neh neh no lets turn around and run the other way touchdown heave was comprised of these three things:
Seeing that Dileo had broken open by twenty yards.
Remembering Devin's high school superman act.
Remembering what happened when he tried to matriculate that upwards. Yeah, it's the MSU yakety sax clip. I didn't need to tell you this.
It was third and seventeen and Michigan hadn't been able to move the ball a lick against Minnesota, so that colored my expectations as well.
Mostly I expected that something hilariously bad would occur and I would tweet out gallows humor while scouting out Goldy for some Ohio Bobcat action. This expectation got much better when Gardner cleared the containment and broke to the backside of the play. It got worse again when Devin chucked it without setting his feet, and then it was a touchdown and I'm just like…
…oh. That was madcap. That's not happening again but at least we're seven points closer to not losing this game. I wonder how we will get any more? I think we should try the triple reverse throwback bomb to Lewan. Works every time when the universe has turned into a cartoon.
Michigan went with "fade route to 5'8" receiver in jet boots." Close enough. No one adjusts to the laws of physics going all looney tunes like the Michigan Wolverines.
Yeah, Minnesota is just a high school team with a nice stadium that disguised their pass defense in the wreckage of 2012 Big Ten quarterbacking. Yeah, everyone is getting way ahead of themselves praising Gardner when his performance seemed split about 50/50 between yakety sax (but good!) and receivers bailing Gardner out on balls they have no business catching. Yeah, Gardner's mechanics still look bizarre. The main takeaway from that game was uh-oh, Ohio State. Sure.
I don't think Devin Gardner cares after years of being a two-snap sideshow. That ridiculous heave was the first hint that he might be able to hack it next year, and that's a huge relief for everyone. It took three years and third and seventeen, but Devin Gardner got up and recaptured some of that old magic.
John T. Greilick/Detnews
Obligatory jug shots from same:
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week.
A close race this week. I did tweet "JMFR" after that and meant it. Nine tackles, five solo, three TFLs, various other things that don't show up on the scoreboard but let other people make plays. However, Jake Ryan got edged again and I'm pretty sure he was the guy who let Minnesota's tight end get so wide open on their touchdown.
So… Wide Receivers As A Unit, come on down! Drew Dileo: I'm not even laughing at the inevitable Wes Welker comparisons. Jeremy Gallon: separate like a boss, leap like a man with rocket boots. Roy Roundtree: Devin Gardner TARP. If those three guys don't collectively play out of their minds the narrative about Gardner is quite a bit different today.
Honorable Mention. Devin Gardner, about whom more in a bit, Jake Ryan(beastmode on several plays), Jordan Kovacs (damn you fluck), Desmond Morgan (when he hits you on third and short stops happen).
Epic Double Point Standings.
3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1.3: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama, 1/3 Minnesota), Drew Dileo (Michigan State, 1/3 Minnesota)
1: Craig Roh(Nebraska).
0.3: Roy Roundtree (1/3 Minnesota)
Brady Hoke epic double troll of the week. This is just magnificent:
Coach Brady Hoke said after the game Gardner now is entrenched as Michigan's backup quarterback while Bellomy deals with an undisclosed injury, although he was guarded about what exactly is ailing the redshirt freshman.
"Russell's situation is a little different," Hoke said. "Not one I want to discuss."
Asked to clarify whether the issue is injury related, Hoke said "Most likely. Yes. A boo boo."
There's an art installation about the nature of truth and reality in Hoke press conferences. UMAA, get on that.
The Michigan Athletic Department delivered the sobering news minutes before kickoff: senior quarterback Denard Robinson would not start against Minnesota due to an “undisclosed injury.”
Hoke is "very optimistic" he'll be back next week. Amazing thing: that was the first game Denard has ever missed with injury.
Obligatory Gardnertake. Obviously he'll be the backup QB the remainder of the year what with Denard being even more fragile than normal and Russell Bellomy being both injured and the primary author of the second half of the Nebraska game. And he's finally done something other than worry everyone about his future not living up to what people were hoping it would be. This is major progress.
I still find myself way on the conservative end of reaction to Gardner's performance. Some other blog takes to set the table:
"After a frightening start, Gardner was amazing. I’m amazed that he can spend basically one week preparing for this game and do that. Yes, I realize it was The Gophers and like everyone else I’m prone to oversteer after a win, but that was remarkable. So that is the 5 star guy that everyone was salivating over out of high school."
Also at MVictors, Steve Sapardanis:
WOW!!! His performance evoked three words from me: Poise, Confidence and WOW!!
Robinson didn't play at all, and converted receiver Devin Gardner made him look utterly expendable. Lining up at quarterback for the first time this season, Gardner was 12-of-18 for 245 yards – he had three completions covering at least 45 – and two touchdowns, good for a sky-high pass efficiency rating of 206.6.
Meinke's headline-writin' guy:
Devin Gardner's stellar performance leads Michigan to rout
This may be an effect from sitting in the stadium instead of catching it on TV: Gardner had plenty of wide open dudes, and his throws were erratic. On the one hand, there was the picture-perfect bomb to Gallon; on the other, Dileo and Roundtree bailed Gardner out hardcore on the touchdown drive that put the game out of reach. The Dileo catch was a circus catch all the way, one that could have been made much easier.
Roundtree == Gardner TARP. MVictors
Meanwhile Roundtree broke open by yards and would have had an easy touchdown if Gardner had gotten the ball to the endzone on the opposite hash. As it was he had to circus Michigan out of an interception. I'm torn on pressured completions to Jerald Robinson and Roundtree that were wobblers but did pick up big chunks.
Gardner does have a much better sense of when to run around like a lunatic than Denard. His High School Superman mode picked up the Dileo touchdown and a critical third down conversion on Michigan's second touchdown drive. He's still having trouble adjusting to what he can get away with in college, as his second attempt to reprise his MSU 2012 Yakety Sax (except good(!)) ended in a crazy whip-around throwaway that is easy to see resulting in something worse than a harmless ball out of bounds.
Compounding everything is the complication that Minnesota is Minnesota, and Minnesota, despite being Minnesota, was the top pass efficiency defense in the league entering the game. I tend to give more credence to the Minnesota bit of that given Ace's FFFF of Jared Abbrederis hand-wavingly wide open and seeing plenty of that in person Saturday. Gardner had doorwalls, not windows.
Okay, yeah. Michigan called maybe one or two runs for Gardner, which was frustrating but…
The passing game wasn’t difficult to acclimate to, Gardner said, but recognizing new protections and familiarizing himself with the ground game took some time. He called offensive coordinator Al Borges’ gameplan a “safe” one, due to the extreme lack of depth at quarterback.
“They couldn’t run the quarterback,” Gardner said. “I’m comfortable with doing that, but there was no way we could have done that, it just wouldn’t have been smart.”
…okay yeah I'm with you.
Running game, turrible. Michigan got a short-yardage romp from Fitzgerald Toussaint in garbage time to make the final numbers look okay. Extracting the final two drives (four Thomas Rawls runs for 6 yards and four Toussaint runs for 50), suck out sacks (three for 23), and Michigan's run game did this:
- 30 carries for 122 yards.
That is a hair over four yards a carry, and suuuuuucks. Even if you add in the garbage time they only get up to 4.7 YPC, which is almost two yards worse than Minnesota's best performance to date in the Big Ten.
Kids, it's sackcloth and ashes time. I had a little fit in the stands when Michigan ran an iso on one of their first couple drives and it went for three yards because it was Rawls running into an unblocked linebacker instead of Toussaint running into an unblocked linebacker and getting two yards. Things got marginally better from there, but only marginally. Michigan's long run other than the Toussaint TD was a Gardner scramble. Their next two were 1) a Gallon end-around that didn't require much blocking, and 2) the Rawls counter pitch that required none. I'm guessing that when I do the UFR the offensive line won't come out much better than they did against Nebraska.
That's mystifying after they did pretty well against a rampant ND defense and throttled a couple bad Big Ten teams. Minnesota and Nebraska aren't much better than Purdue and Illinois on defense. Michigan crushed the latter two, and essentially got crushed by the former two. Denard's absence has a lot to do with that; it's still depressing to think of Michigan's rushing offense as the worst in the Big Ten minus #16.
Hagerup dup. Will Hagerup, please report to the garage for a tuneup: three punts for an average of 29 yards each. Yorp.
Minnesota trip report section. The Gophers' new stadium is nice, as you would expect. Unlike Northwestern—the Big Ten stadium of comparable size I've been to—even the far reaches in the corner are pretty good seats, and the video board is far superior to Michigan's. I looked it up on the wikipedia: their main board is 5184 square feet to M's 3,991 and has a higher resolution. Michigan's down to 14th on their list of biggest screen things; kind of feels like the boards installed just a couple years ago are already dated.
I was on the aisle. I spent most of the game looking around people going up or down, because 1) they serve beer and 2) Minnesota fans in our section made Michigan students look like ruthless drill instructors with their punctuality. I guess it was an 11 AM local start. Even so my strategy as a Minnesota fan would be to show up for the part of the game where you're competitive and exit early if and when that ceases to be true. At least they were nice. I didn't see a single negative interaction between Michigan and Minnesota fans.
The chintz factor was pretty high, largely because the announcer would prompt everyone with "THAT'S ANOTHER GOLDEN GOPHER…" and then a variable number of fans would say "FIRST DOWN." The PA guy's mood shifted wildly with the fortunes of the game, too. By the end of it he was almost surly. The Minnesota marching band is 350 strong and the only thing I remember them playing was the Mortal Kombat theme sometime in the third.
Logistically, the stadium is in a good spot. We tailgated at the state fairgrounds in St. Paul, which was a ten minute bus ride from the stadium on a private university road. That last bit is key: no traffic. After the game I went to a sportsbar to watch an epic Sparty No moment with various folk; another set of companions went right back to the car. The bus line: about ten minutes and then you're out of all traffic.
Oh so Sparty. Oh, Sparty. You sonsabitches. First you have to run out to a two-score lead and then salt the game away before getting their world-class Sparty No(!) moment in on a personal foul on a pick six—one of like six you sonsabitches took after being on your best fairy godmother behavior against Michigan because really you're just misunderstood—and then getting outright screwed in a fashion that I couldn't even enjoy because you needed to win that game.
And then. And then after the game you took a shot at Denard for no damn reason:
"He's faster than Denard, even though he thinks he's faster than (Usain) Bolt," Narduzzi said. "He's flat-out fast. He's a good football player."
And then players hopped on Twitter to claim they had not lost but one game this year:
The post-MSU-win column truly could not have been anything but what it was. So Sparty.
It took exactly two weeks to go from "where's the threat" to Same Old Spartans. Well, okay. I actually hope you sonsabitches make a bowl game because thanks to the ineligible teams you'll get sucked into a NYD thing against an SEC team and lose by 600.
BONUS BONUS BONUS
Kid's got a future with Vince McMahon if the football thing doesn't work out.
All that said. I'm with MGoGadfly KJ on the validity of that penalty.
The player is trailing the play, looking at what's going on. He's Kenny Bell—he's fast. There is a possibility the play cuts back to where he's relevant, and Adams doesn't hit him in the head, he just shoulders him to the ground. It's not dirty or excessively violent. It's the equivalent of the PF Michigan got last week for hitting Martinez late—overprotective busybody stuff done in the name of PR. Unlike last week, it swung the game.
AND I DIDN'T EVEN GET TO LIKE IT ARRRGH
Fake field goal thing. Minnesota folk were livid at it but after seeing it on replay I think Kill almost got us.
Kill had something up his sleeve and used it, getting his quarterback wide open on the sideline with no one covering him. If he'd run downfield and the guy had thrown downfield, touchdown. Bizarrely, despite setting this up and getting a quick snap in the throw was on the LOS and Michigan could recover because they were not rushing seriously. It didn't seem like it was a screwup by the guy throwing the ball, either: Nelson just sat on the LOS instead of running downfield.
I don't get that bit, but the idea worked. The execution/play design was busted.
Side note: if you're wondering how that happened after the rules were changed such that anyone checking into the game has to do so between the numbers: Nelson was already on the field and just stayed on as the rest of the offense jogged off. I'm not sure why you'd put Nelson out there instead of a receiver in that case, another strange thing about that play.
So… yeah, everything that happened after the snap was weird and bad. The gamble itself I can get behind when your kicker is .500 on the season.
A plea for pass interference sanity. I'll probably expand this into a larger post after the season but Saturday really crystallized how much I hate the pass interference rule as currently implemented. I actually thought this when Michigan got the benefit of it on the long incompletion to Roundtree on which the DB had excellent position and Roundtree kind of flung himself all over the dude's back.
IMO, if the DB is over the top of the WR, he's earned the right to slow down and prevent the guy from getting to the ball. If he's behind him and the ball is crappy and underthrown that is the offense not executing. You should only be able to commit pass interference with your arms or by actually hitting a guy. You have a right to your momentum, and to exist. Grabbing, holding, blowing a guy up before the ball gets there—all of these are legitimate calls. Running over a guy because he suddenly stops because the QB left the ball 10 yards short is not. I'm really tired of plays on which the offense is bailed out when a terribly-thrown ball turns into 15 yards.
Defensive backs are corporeal beings! Let's treat them like that! I'm founding the We're Made Of Matter Too League.
LOLWUT. I'm with Heiko:
Michigan by 13.5 over Northwestern? That's higher than the opening line for Michigan vs. Minnesota.
Home/away yeah but Northwestern is competitive against teams not named Purdue. This does make me feel so much better about that game. PREVIEW PREVIEW: Not picking the spread this time, probably.
Oh, right, defense. The defense held Minnesota to 13 points and under 300 yards—though if pass interference penalties were credited as offensive yards they would have gone over—and other than some Jake Ryan chatter above this 4000-ish word post has nothing to say about it, because that's just what happens. Being seventh in yardage defense just happens. Hail Mattison.
It's Michigan versus Minnesota week, at Minnesota, which means one thing. A University of Michigan quarterback is going to have a career day. In 2008, Nick Sheridan was 18 of 30 for 203 yards and a 127.8 QB rating. In 2006, Chad Henne was 17 of 24 for 284 yards, 3 TDs, and a QB rating of 211.5. That may not have been his best performance, but I don't ever remember seeing a QB rating greater than 200. In 2003, John Navarre was 33 for 47 for 353 yards and 2 TDs. During my college years, we put up these scoring numbers at Minnesota: 49, 52, 58, and 44 ('89, '91, '93, '96.)
I guess what I'm saying is, we shouldn't have been surprised by what transpired yesterday, but after that first quarter, I'm betting that I'm not the only one that was shocked by the next three quarters. After 9 consecutive TD-less quarters, we scored 5 in the next 3.
Blog folk. MVictors also made the trip, where he took in the game from the resplendent comfort of the press box. He was also not impressed by Gopher timeliness, and reminded me that I was also astounded by how into the Kiss Cam everyone was.
QUINTON WASHINGTON – To me it seemed like every time a Golden Gopher ball carrier got up from a run up the middle, Big Q was at the bottom of the pile. There may have been some questions about the strength of UM D-Line, but Washington is starting to clog up the middle, making it tough sledding for opponents to run on Michigan this year.
I think one of the hardest things college football fans have to reconcile is the ephemeral nature of players. When you consider depth charts, redshirting, and the like, we may get about three years with them at most, four if we're really lucky. We get to know them, we come to appreciate them for what they can do, and then, like that, as quickly as they came, they are gone, leaving only memories, and occasionally questions of what might have been.
Gardner looked like a Jim Tressel-led Terrelle Pryor: an athletic, tall quarterback being forced to play under center and make plays only when he's asked to while allowing the defense to carry the load. In this game, Gardner was able to do so, but this was against a Minnesota team that allowed 44 points to New Hampshire and 28 to Western Michigan and Purdue. Does Gardner's obvious improvement actually resemble a sustainable winning offense? That's debatable.
Tremendous bullets. Ditto TTB bullets. Maize and Blue Nation bullets. Maize and Go Blue recap. They're SEOing Drew Dileo's name into post URLs at SBN! (Don't bother with the "RESURGENT POWER RUNNING GAME?!?!?" comment if you hit up that article, as they have been taken care of.) Gopher takes from Fringe Bowl Team and Daily Gopher. I agree with TDG on Phillip Nelson—guy was extremely impressive. Holding the Rope column.
Repeat After Me: There is NO QB CONTROVERSY
After Devin Gardner's amazing game (minus the 1st quarter), I joked on Twitter that the easiest way to identify a so-called "Walmart Wolverine" on sports talk radio this week will be the guy calling in asking if there's a QB controversy now in A2.
There is not.
Devin was outstanding (minus the 1st quarter). He was outstanding by any measure, but more so since he hadn't gotten any meaningful game reps at quarter back since... Illinois 2011? But as soon as he's 100% again, Denard is Michigan's QB this season. Period.
Also yes so hard
Paid folk (and the Daily). Come on Baumgardner diviiiiiide and take into account connnnntext before you praise RB production. Numbers from same. Michigan had its first consecutive 90-yard TD drives ever, which… like… wow.
When Michigan has needed to scramble this year, it has turned to Gardner.
Gardner was never really given a fair shake. He came in as a five-star recruit marooned behind a once-in-a-generation talent. Next year, he’ll have to compete with another hyped recruit, Shane Morris, who better fits Michigan’s pro-style system.
This year, he was asked to move to receiver, though it’s unclear whether he had a choice. The extent of his protest was to say he still considers himself a quarterback.
On Saturday, Michigan thrust him into uncharted territory: a wide receiver given one week to prepare for quarterback. There was little run game to bail him out, and even with Robinson, Michigan hadn’t scored a touchdown in two games. Gardner had taken reps at quarterback in his first two years, but he had to learn new protections and run packages in days.
“I was pretty nervous coming in to know how I would handle that,” Gardner said. “But I feel like I handled it pretty well.”
It looked as though Gardner, a junior who moved to receiver following two seasons as Robinson's backup, was back at home -- and he said that's exactly how he felt.
"I play quarterback," he said, "so I feel good."
Is it possible Gardner is a better quarterback, now that he doesn't play quarterback?
Jeremy Gallon continues to find new ways to confound defenses. First, it was the cloaking device, which made its spectacular debut against Notre Dame last year. Now, he's moved on to rocket shoes:
Dubious legality? Admittedly, yes. Fantastic results? Oh, indeed.
[The rest of the Minnesota game in gifs is after THE JUMP. WARNING: Jake Ryan nightmare fuel ahead.]
10/27/2012 – Michigan 9, Nebraska 23 – 5-3, 3-1 Big Ten
Well, it finally happened.
Pundits and opponent fans have been predicting the demise of Denard Robinson ever since he picked up that snap against Western Michigan, but the series of bumps and bruises that frightened Michigan fans every third game had never really cost Michigan anything. In 2010, Tate Forcier came off the bench to lead Michigan to a frenetic victory over Illinois and nearly did the same against Iowa. Last year, Devin Gardner shepherded Michigan through the second half of the Illinois game. When Denard's boo-boos knocked him out for halves instead of plays, Michigan got through just fine.
They were always tempting fate, though, and upped their bet that the football gods' vast malevolence was laser-focused on the Iowa running back situation by moving Devin Gardner to wide receiver in the fall. That seemed like a risk worth taking.
Unfortunately, the containment field is down.
yes, it's true. this man has no elbow.
First it leaked from the Iowa running backs to their offensive line, which suffered two season-ending injuries minutes apart last week. This week, the Big Ten set to murdering football in the morning and afternoon, then this happened to Marcus Lattimore's knee:
By the time Friday night rolled around the ambient malevolence levels in college football were so high that Notre Dame won a marquee matchup to enter the national championship shortlist.
So of course Denard would be knocked out of a potentially fun, definitely important game by falling harmlessly to the turf, thus turning the rest of it into a death-march trudge. AIRBHG is no longer contained. The forces of wheeeee that (mostly) preserved Denard through three years of running at top speed into Manti Te'o have been overrun by the forces of grinding doom football. Now we're all boned. Hail Saban.
And so it came to pass that words never before spoken—words so impossible CFL teams who don't even think it's weird they're all named "Roughriders" cock an eyebrow at their assemblage—came to pass.
Tate Forcier isn't walking through that door.
I don't know, man. I felt ill for most of the second half but it's not like anyone is at fault other than everyone. I mean, if RR doesn't implode or Forcier is a normal person who goes to classes or Michigan doesn't hire Hoke three weeks before signing day, maybe the guy backing up Robinson has a prayer of moving the ball forward. Maybe the wide receiving corps is not so awful that it must include Devin Gardner.
In the aftermath you've got the columns declaring Gardner's move to WR a stupid idea, but I haven't seen anyone reference the column questioning it they wrote before last weekend. It's easy to be a backseat driver after whatever that was. Meanwhile, Gardner is this crappy receiving corps' #2 WR, #1 if you discount Jeremy Gallon's 150-some yards on screens.
Gardner's not good. The alternative is throwing more than four balls in the first half to Jeremy Jackson. They've needed their crappy, crappy receiver who is also a quarterback even if he is dropping a 50-yard pass in most games. Whether Gardner is worth an extra three scores against Nebraska is… debatable. His performances to date suggest he is not.
Michigan was always rolling the dice on Denard's health, and that was the move to make. Didn't work. That's life as a rickety program that's endured two coaching transitions in three years—when you have to go to the bench you get tumbleweeds.
We're now entering the period of time when most program shortcomings can be blamed on Rich Rodriguez's recruiting, which is only a slight transition from the period of time when most program shortcomings could be blamed on Lloyd Carr's recruiting fade and represents very little improvement when the one completely awesome guy at the most important position is removed from the equation. It turns out that Michigan 2012 minus Denard Robinson is pretty much Michigan 2008, and that the only thing saving us from the abyss was Denard staring down a decision to stay or go and not pulling the Mallett.
He stayed, but in the game that probably decided if he would be a champion or not he watched from the sideline because his elbow hit the turf the wrong way. Malevolence is out of control these days.
Injury item. So the thing is this:
It's the same thing that knocked him out briefly against Illinois.
"He's got that nerve (injury), he hits it the wrong way (or) gets hit (and it's hard)," Hoke said. "The difference (today) was he didn't come back in. But, he gets better as the game goes on." …
Asked whether or not he was concerned Robinson wouldn't be available next week, Hoke replied "No." He also said the normal rehabilitation process for this type of injury is mainly rest and time.
He'll probably be fine by Tuesday and start against Gophers. Every time his elbow brushes up against the softest kitten in Minnesota the collective intake of breath will be audible. Sounds fun, and by "fun" I mean "paralyzing."
Frank Clark is also expected to be back next week, which is good because Mario Ojemudia limped off the field Saturday and was spotted in a boot today. He's probably sprained his ankle and won't be available.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Craig Roh. Beastmode sack, generally unblockable, got a number of those stat things for himself instead of everyone else, as he usually does.
Honorable mention. Quinton Washington, Desmond Morgan, Kenny Demens.
Epic Double Point standings.
3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama), Drew Dileo (Michigan State), Craig Roh(Nebraska).
We won time of possession! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Time of possession is a garbage stat.
That said, there is a clear narrative of decline in the defensive performance. Nebraska's first eight drives gained a total of 148 yards. Their last four gained 178. It's not easy going out there after a blizzard of three-and-outs. This would be better measured by plays instead of TOP.
BLAME BLAME BLAME BLAME. Why are we here at QB? LET'S BLAME PEOPLE WOO
- Rodriguez's horrible recruiting at the skill positions: 40%. If Michigan has a decent deep threat at WR, Gardner is playing QB and Michigan may salvage that game. Instead, RR recruited receivers are… 2011: nobody. 2010: Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson, DJ Williamson. 2009: Je'Ron Stokes. The only one of those guys to see the field is Jackson, and he's essentially a skinny tight end. That 2011 class may not be RR's fault, because there were…
- Unavoidable transition costs: 10%. RR's WR recruiting would look slightly better if Sammy Watkins was included in that group, but once he got fired Watkins was gone.
- Darryl Stonum's inability to just do what the court tells him to: 10%. Relevant to previous two bullets: we're desperate for a guy who has three catches for Baylor. Baylor's offense is pretty good, but he can't even get on the field.
- The Process: 20%. Maybe Michigan gets a guy more ready to play if they're not scrambling with three weeks left. Maybe Michigan recruits one dang WR in 2011.
- Hoke not taking a quarterback last year: 10%. Always take one every year. If Michigan has another freshman around maybe he's better than Bellomy.
- Hoke inexplicably passing on Devin Lucien: 10%. Lucien has 10 catches as a sophomore for 6-2 UCLA and their #12 offense. He still wanted to commit to Michigan after the transition, and Michigan said no by saying they wanted him to play DB.
There. It has been blamed. Seriously, though, the Lucien thing drives me nuts.
I'm not there. As soon as Denard went out and it became clear that Bellomy was light years away from readiness I was pretty much like whatever. There's not much you can do when you already can't run without your QB and the guy you put in is overwhelmed and throwing moonballs.
Before that happened, Michigan was moving the ball decently and poised to score to go up 10-7. That's okay I guess—but we're also talking about a team that is 90th in the country in run defense, so…
I saw this: after Nebraska got torn up by Hundley and Miller it seemed clear they went back to the drawing board and were going to play it safe. When Michigan put 4 WRs on the field, Nebraska responded with two high safeties and 5.5 guys in the box. Michigan ran the ball and got five, six, seven yards virtually every time. That's stealing.
I mean, when I was learning about the spread some years back I watched the videos Rodriguez put out about his offense. When he talked about making a run/pass decision based on the safeties, his general rule was one deep safety was a run, cover zero was pass. The idea that someone would maintain two high safeties against his offense never even crossed his mind. Nebraska was doing it, and Michigan didn't force Nebraska out of it. I don't get it, man.
The truly crappy thing is it's going to be four or five years before we have any real read on whether Borges is any good. At this point, year three is going to be Michigan rolling with a true freshman QB—probably, anyway—and four new OL starters—probably, anyway—with what's likely to be a horrible WR corps. Anything other than an awful offense next year is a point in Borges's favor. Hurrah transition.
But Auburn? No. 2004 Auburn had the following guys on that team: QB Jason Campbell (first round pick), RB Ronnie Brown (first round pick), RB Cadillac Williams (first round pick), OL Ben Grubbs (first round pick), OL Marcus McNeill (second round pick), Ben Obomanu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 37 catches in 2011), Devin Aromashodu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 26 catches in 2011), and Courtney Taylor (sixth round pick, now in CFL after 2008 multiple sclerosis(!) diagnosis). When you can call anything and have future NFL players on both ends of the exchange that doesn't say much either.
First Nebraska touchdown: where is that? Nebraska's first touchdown was a route that exploited Michigan's man coverage. An inside receiver ran a little hitch designed to pick the outside guy, the outside guy ran a post to eliminate the safety over the top, and the inside-inside guy used the pick to get open by yards. It didn't really matter if the receiver who ended up targeted was able to get separation naturally; the play got it for him.
Where is that from Michigan? I can't recall a wide open downfield guy that got open strictly by the play design. Gardner's been open some when DBs fall over or suck up on a double move or something; not so much the play bits.
This wasn't actually a problem last year, when Michigan quarterbacks made sport of ignoring the the wide open guys Borges was machining downfield. Is it just Junior Hemingway's absence?
I think they watched film. Congratulations, Nebraska: you are apparently the only Big Ten team to ever watch tape of the Michigan offense and leap on the throwback screen. It's not exactly hard to find, since the first time Michigan goes under center in any game is virtually guaranteed to be the throwback. It's pretty bad when everyone in the room I was watching said "throwback screen" as soon as Michigan lined up in ace.
Q: why is that play consistently run from under center? There doesn't seem to be anything about it that would require it to be.
Bellomy. Well… that wasn't very good. The most disturbing thing was probably one of Bellomy's few completions—a ten yard wheel-ish route run by Kerridge that picked up a first down and took just decades to get where it was going. Accuracy issues and a tendency to scream in horror during plays themselves (@ right by Upchurch) can be fixed with time. The arm strength deficiency probably can't.
That particular throw made me wonder why Michigan recruited the guy at all since it seems like the #1 thing on Borges's radar screen is the ability to laser it in just inside the sideline. Hurrah Process/unavoidable transition costs. Boy, is next year's offense going to be a wow experience or what I tell ya.
Offensive line. I'm not entirely sure how they did since once Bellomy came in it was open season and Michigan settled into a routine that exposed them to the same "eight of them, five of us" problems that Michigan experienced against MSU. Hoke was not impressed.
Ryan got edged. When Michigan gave up some yards it was often on the edge when various Nebraska players broke contain. The most spectacular incident was when Abdullah broke Cam Gordon's ankles…
…but it happened to Ryan a few times. When Nebraska was not bouncing it outside they were getting very little; excellent day from the interior DL and the LBs.
Roh beastmode. Also Roh, who took the opportunity presented by Abudullah being assigned to block him to destroy Martinez in a hilarious beastmode sack. If you've ever wondered why tailbacks always cut block guys on pass protection, that's why.
Where is Rawls? I don't know what happened to Toussaint but at this point I'm not even irritated at Vincent Smith carries because it's not like Toussaint is consistently making yards past what the blocking gets him. Meanwhile, Rawls ends up watching, even when Michigan deep into Bellomy panic time and trying to run from under center.
I'm sure there's a reason they don't trust him yet; whatever it is it must be pretty bad. If you're down to running power from the I-form—and Michigan was—you might as well find out if your backup guy can break some tackles.
Defense: stepping towards elite. Nebraska entered the game averaging 512 yards and 42 points a game, leading the league in rushing yardage, pass efficiency, total yardage, and points per game. Michigan held the Cornhuskers to 326 yards and 23 points. Six of those points were field goal drives of two and five yards in length. Without turnovers, that's 17 points.
Relative to the quality of opponent, that's their best performance of the year by far and a major step away from criticisms that Michigan's defense hasn't actually stopped anyone. If the offense doesn't implode with Denard out those numbers are undoubtedly better, probably under 300 yards for the game for the Huskers.
Not relevant but worth it. This happened after Northwestern's win over Iowa:
Bo Cisek, walk-on DT and new internet legend
It speaks for itself except for the fact that guy's wearing #1.
Michigan + Nebraska == refereeing atrocity. The Roundtree catch that was overturned was one of those plays where it's not clear either way because of the goofy fuzzy catch rule and should be left to stand, and then you've got that terrible terrible late hit call and some terrible terrible pass interference calls both ways. This combination of teams is not good for ref sanity.
Cats! So hey like if you follow me on twitter I'm sort of sorry for retweeting like 30 cats into your timeline except not really. People started sending them to me, so clearly there was a need. Here is another cat if you are not satiated.
* As bad as we played, the first downs were close, 20-18 in favor of Nebraska. Of course, 6 of our first downs came from Nebraska penalties.
* Nebraska's 20 1st downs translated to 326 total yards, we managed 188 total yards. At least we were efficient with our first downs. Why get 20 or 30 yards when you only need 10?
* We won the TOP, 31:36 to 28:24. Yippee. We did control the clock early, and I was expecting that to pay off in the fourth quarter when we should have been able to grind down their defense, but then, you know, Denard got hurt.
Edit: I forgot the main silver lining, BELLOMY CAN AUDIBLE!
Yeah, what was with that?
Yeoman scans Massey, comes back with Michigan having a 30% shot at winning the division now. Let's go Spartans.
Blog stuff. Sap's decals hand out nothing to the offense. Nebraska fans are far too enthusiastic about snuffing Bellomy out. TTB. Maize and Go Blue. The M Block considers what happens next year at QB.
Duct tape. It's was held together with duct tape, hope, and rolling dice. And now the questions will come for the coaching staff, although any questions to Greg Mattison will likely consist of "Why can't you guys score too?" But we caught a glimpse of a future we will need to face all too soon, a future without Denard Robinson. That future consisted of three field goals total output on offense.
You watched the second half perhaps with some hope that Spring Game Bellomy would emerge but save for a few late first downs it wasn’t really even close. I swear I caught Jeremy Gallon staring off into space after the RS freshman was calling a pass play early in the second half and remember thinking, “Gallon knows this ain’t happening…”
Also, Denard's jacket was old school split M style now verboten.
Probably got it off Jon Falk's back.
Regular stuff. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. AGGRESSIVE DECISION TO FALL ON HIS ELBOW GENTLY COSTS DENARD ROBINSON. RUSSELL BELLOMY MAY NOT HAVE DONE TOO WELL. ROBINSON'S EXIT REVEALS THAT MICHIGAN IS NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING AND SHOULD PROBABLY JUST DIE. RUSSELL BELLOMY WAS NEVER GETTING PULLED.
Three Bellomy interceptions rushed the defense back onto the field and into quick-change situations. Nebraska started drives in Michigan territory, including one on the four-yard line. There’s a good excuse.
“No,” Kovacs said. “We take pride in that. Our motto is: ‘Spot the ball.’ It doesn’t matter where the ball’s at, just put the ball on the field and we’re going to go play defense and not let them get any yards.”
That's a Rodriguez-era phrase that remains as mysterious today as it was when it was introduced and probably should have gone in the bonfire with GERG's playbooks and stuffed beavers and hair. I guess that's appropriate for the reappearance of the 2008 offense. If someone says "hold the rope" any time soon I'm going to hide under the bed.
Michigan-Nebraska: The Sick Man of Europe
By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a
The red balloons floated upward, little harbingers of doom dotting the night sky. I didn't know what to make of it, but it could not have been anything else but that. Or, maybe they were just balloons.
By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a
/hides under bed
News bullets and other important items:
- Kickoffs: There was one bad kick and nine missed tackles, but kicking it short and to the right was on purpose to avoid Raheem Mostert.
- Denard's wrist is fine.
- Gallon's job as punt returner is not in danger.
- Hoke did not consider putting in Rawls earlier for Toussaint.
“Thanks for coming. Very pleased with the win. It’s great to win, obviously. I thought we set a tone early defensively and great to win on the road is what I should say because you look at this league on the road, it’s a tough place to play. I thought we set the tone with the three-and-out on the defense, and offensively, 17-play drive, almost nine minutes, really was what we needed to do. We play really good defense watching our offense out there on the field. That’s a good deal. I think we practiced well for the week. We prepared well. Liked how our guys came to work every day, and we need to continue to do that. We know we’re in a championship game every Saturday, so our mentality and attitude needs to reflect that by our actions in practice. We had a good day yesterday, and hopefully we can continue that.”
MGo: Not much. How are you?
MGo: How’s kindergarten?
“Kindergarten is wonderful. Every day is just a new experience. It’s awesome.”
Think you’re going to pass?
“I already passed.”
Word of the day?
“I don’t know. I didn’t get one. I’ve been kind of -- no I didn’t get one. I’ll get you one next week.”
Not an easy loss to sit on for two weeks. Did you work on rebuilding Denard’s confidence over the bye?
“Yeah. I think to a degree. I don’t think his confidence is waning too much, though. The biggest thing about that situation is getting back to some of the basics of reading the defense and making good decisions and things like that. I think that’s really the biggest factor. A couple footwork issues that hadn’t shown up until that game too much. … The good thing about two weeks is you get a chance to really evaluate everything you’re doing, and that’s what we’ve kind of done is look at how we’ve played, you know, on the road particularly because we haven’t played well on the road, but overall just see what the structure of the offense is and get back to sending a message and knowing that we’ve got to play better in those scenarios.”
Is there a common thread with the road games and offensive inefficiency?
“I don’t know. Not any more than any place else I’ve been, I guess. It’s harder to play on the road. It’s always an issue, but you can’t always use that as an excuse because good teams win on the road. I mean the biggest issue, we had some breakdowns, but we just can’t turn the ball over. That’s the biggest -- you hear it every week and it sounds like coach speak but it’s so true. When you turn the ball over as many times we turned the ball over you have no chance. We were fortunate it was as close as it was.”
Formation notes: Just the usual array of stuff. Mostly shotgun, etc.:
Nothing really jumped out.
Substitution notes: OL was steady until Lewan went out with a thankfully minor injury, at which point it went from Lewan-Barnum-Mealer-Omameh-Schofield to Schofield-Barnum-Mealer-Burzynski-Omameh. At TE, Moore went out early and it was mostly Kwiatkowski with Williams appearing in two-TE sets. Funchess got in very late.
WR starters were Roundtree, Gallon, Gardner. Jeremy Jackson and Dileo were the next most-frequent participants; Jerald Robinson got a little run. At RB, Smith and Rawls and only them. Only Hopkins at FB.
[Note: I forgot about my RUN+/- separation, but got them for the run chart. I'm probably going to dump the extra confirmation since it's useless.]
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Deep slant||Gardner||Inc|
|Safety walks up on slot and Bama shows seven man front. Michigan goes play action at Gardner, who runs a deep slant after being given inside leverage. I think this is a crappy route that does not get the requisite separation because he just kind of drifts inside instead of cuts. Throw is accurate, Milliner makes a great play to break it up. (CA+, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M22||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Flare||Smith||9|
|Gallon motions into a trips. Moore releases downfield, holding the corner in a little bit, Denard reads it and hits Smith on a little flare. Smith runs through an ankle tackle and nears the first down; gets a crappy spot. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1, would like to RPS +half this but let's not get crazy)|
|Lewan(+0.5) and Kwiatkowksi(+0.5) combine to kick out the OLB; Barnum(+0.5) just does handle the playside DE, and Hopkins(+0.5) gets enough on his lead block to give Smith a gap.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Kwiatkowski, Hopkins, Barnum(0.5 all)||RUN-:|
|M34||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||Inc|
|Safety rolls up. Michigan repeats their first play with the same result. Milliner is all over Roundtree (in a legal way) and breaks it up. (CA, 0, protection 1/1). If this is in front of Roundtree more maybe there's a shot, but that's an NFL window.|
|M34||2||10||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer||Smith||-1|
|Eight in the box with the safety rolled up; this is unbalanced so TE cannot go downfield. Michigan pulls Barnum and uses Hopkins as a lead blocker. Playside DE is inside of Hopkins, so if this is a read it's a give, but then why block the guy? (Because he blocked you.) Denard gives and Smith heads outside, but there's a free guy on the edge and he shuts it down. RPS -1. This is not the blocking's fault, it's Alabama defeating the play. Picture-paged.|
|M33||3||11||Shotgun trips stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||8 (Pen -15)|
|Alabama rushes three; Lewan(-3) gets beat one on one, ripping off the DE's helmet in the process for a 15-yard penalty. (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, Lewan -3)|
|M18||3||26||Shotgun trips tight bunch||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Rollout corner||Roundtree||Inc|
|Borges actually gets Roundtree open at the sticks, but they let the backside guy go and he pressures Denard, who doesn't really have time to set and step into it. Ball sails. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer||Rawls||0|
|Alabama sends the corner down and plunges the DE inside. Denard reads that the DE is diving down and hands off. Corner nails Rawls. RPS -2. Also picture-paged.|
|RUN+: N/A||RUN-: N/A|
|M29||2||10||Shogun 2-back tight||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||PA corner||Gallon||Inc|
|Corner pulls up on the short route, opening up a corner for about 15 yards. Denard misses; again, some token pressure on the edge seems to have spooked him. Just overthrew it. (IN, 1, protection 1/1) If Gallon was 6'2 he's got a good shot at this.|
|M29||3||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Penalty||12 men||--||5|
|M34||3||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Fly||Gardner||Inc|
|Gardner gets a step but takes a weird gallop as he does so and drifts a step or so inside. Denard's throw is pretty good but Gardner's not getting there fast enough. He leaps and gets a hand on it, but that's it. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 6 min 1st Q. Yay 30 yard throw on third and medium.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||3-4 nickel||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||8|
|Almost ceases being there on the snap as the LB to that side backs out closer to Gallon. Still not enough as Jackson(+1) hacks down the LB out there and Gallon(+1) turns it up quickly enough to burst past the LB despite being a yard or so inside the numbers. (CA, 3, screen)|
|RUN+: Gallon, Jackson||RUN-:|
|M32||2||2||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Iso||Smith||1|
|Mealer(-1) leaves his block too early and Barnum can't keep the guy outside; he does okay. Omameh gets stalemated by the other DT, Schofield same, the end result is a big pile of dudes a yard past the LOS.|
|M33||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-4 under||Run||Iso||Rawls||2|
|Barnum(+1) takes a DT who's trying to slant and buries him. Lewan(+0.5) prevents the guy he's got from coming under him, creating a crease. Two guys are coming up that crease; Hopkins(+0.5) submarines one and Rawls falls forward for the first.|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Sprint counter||Rawls||-2 (Pen -10)|
|One high with a seventh guy in the box. They run the sprint counter from last year (what is it a counter to, though?). Lewan pulls. Schofield(-1) gets chucked by the DE as Lewan nears; Lewan is now running directly into Schofield. Rawls(-2) still has an opportunity to just go straight upfield for a few yards. Instead he tries to bounce it, which works about as well as you might expect. Refs get Lewan for holding, which I don't see, and miss an obvious facemask on Rawls. Refs -3. Hoke said something about this being a BS call on Lewan, FWIW. BWS picture-paged.|
|M25||1||20||I-Form twins||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA corner||Gardner||Inc|
|Bama does not care that we are running PA from the I. They're all over all three guys. Denard throws it at Gardner and does get it over the corner. It's also over Gardner. Could be IN but Robinson had no better options. (CA, 0, protection 2/2) Also, watch Gardner's route. He holds up. If he runs through the route this is a potential DO.|
|M25||2||20||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||PA fly||Roundtree||Int|
|Milliner chucks Roundtree OOB and intercepts. It's hard to tell but it certainly looks like this happened after the ball was released. Either way, this is a frustrating playcall. Second and twenty with Roundtree matched up against their best corner, let's have guys with free runs at Denard and see what happens. (BR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-14, 2 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||9|
|Robinson actually double clutches this, which is bad, but it still works as the WRs come through. Roundtree(+1) puts a safety on the ground. Gardner does likewise, and then Roundtree gets another block that Gallon(+1) runs behind for good yardage. (CA, 3, screen)|
|RUN+: Roundtree, Gardner, Gallon||RUN-:|
|M35||2||1||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Pass||PA slant||Gallon||Inc|
|This one's actually open. Not sure if Gallon is more of a threat or it's just because this is not Milliner. Robinson misses somewhat, but this is catchable. Gallon doesn't catch it. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|M35||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Speed option||Robinson||3|
|Smith flares out for a pitch but Denard is just running this one from the word go. Blocking is okay on the frontside except for Williams(-1), who gets beat. Schofield(+0.5) just manages to delay the backside pursuit and Denard(+1) hits a very small gap to convert.|
|M38||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Run||Iso||Smith||2|
|Running at the backside. There is a S containing Denard so he hands, but not sure this is really a read. Bubble open, but again these are not reads. Omameh(-1) lets his guy spin back to the hole. Schofield(-1) does as well. Hopkins blocks one LB; the other is there to help tackle. Possible that Smith could have cut to a backside hole if Schofield doesn't lose his block. RUN-: Schofield, Omameh|
|M40||2||8||I-form twins||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||-2|
|Schofield(-2) loses his guy on the backside of the play and he tackles. That's the easy stuff. Barnum(-1) loses his guy on a double, too, despite blocking down. I do like Hopkins(+1) blocking the stuffing out of a guy, may have gotten the edge. BWS picture-paged.|
|RUN+: Hopkins||RUN-: Schofield(3), Barnum|
|M38||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Fly||J. Robinson||Inc|
|It's third down so we throw it 30 yards. Alabama blitzes, sending six. Michigan picks it up. Robinson panics and chucks a back-foot throw when just scrambling out of the pocket probably puts him in epic space against man coverage. J. Robinson is blanketed, DB knocks it away. Pass was actually right on the money, but the coverage was superb. (CA, 0, protection 3/3) Where's the dig route?|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-21, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M5||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||0|
|Bubble wide open, no threat of Denard, OL cannot get any push, Smith runs up the backs of his guys for nothing. Barnum(-1) pushed back. Smith(-1) could have run behind the double but did not.|
|M5||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Out||Jackson||4 (Pen +5)|
|Late move to a seven man front. Safety comes down on Jackson, Denard throws the out accurately, instant tackle. Alabama offsides. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M10||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||2|
|AAAAARGH. Anyway: hole almost forms. Barnum manages to get his body across the backside DT, but only with his back; that guy comes around. Omameh(-0.5) and Mealer(-0.5) can't kick the other DT and the narrow path is closed down by the guy coming around Barnum.|
|M12||3||3||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Flare||Smith||2|
|Denard makes a somewhat bad read on the LB and should go to Kwiatkowski underneath as the LB bugs out for the flat. He had a window. This is still complete and has a shot at the first so I won't BR it, but he could have done better. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-24, 7 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M2||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 under||Pass||PA fly||Gardner||Inc|
|Plenty of time for Robinson as Michigan goes with just three guys in the route. Denard tries it deep to Gardner, who's covered again, but he has no other options. Pass is a tiny bit short but 40 yards downfield. Gardner has it in his hands; Milliner punches it out. (CA+, 1, protection 3/3)|
|M2||2||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 under||Run||Power off tackle||Rawls||1|
|Williams tears through Omameh(-2) and is right in the hole. Barnum ends up going outside of the Hopkins block as the playside LB comes in to spill power outside. Rawls goes inside. Barnum is not a factor on the LB, who tackles at the LOS. Not sure if this is a Rawls problem or a Barnum problem. I get why both of them did that. I'm guessing Rawls, but tenuous. RUN-: Omameh(2), Rawls|
|M3||3||9||Shotgun trips stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Post||Gardner||Int|
|Denard throws it directly at a linebacker underneath the route. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Defensive TD, 0-31, 4 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||Rawls||3|
|Okay crease but only okay. Omameh(+0.5) gets decent push on the nose, Mealer gets out to the LB, Barnum is eh on the other DT, and Rawls can fit in this gap until the LB sheds Mealer in a tight space.|
|M28||2||7||Shotgun 2TE||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA stop and go||Gallon||71|
|Max pro again and Alabama is containing, so plenty of time. Denard can load up and fire deep to Gallon, who's the first M receiver to have an inch of separation all night. Denard hits Gallon right in stride at the 20; Gallon gets to the goal line before he can get tracked down. (DO, 2, protection 3/3), RPS +1. Why aren't we throwing at this corner instead of Milliner?|
|O1||1||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Penalty||Illegal sub||--||-5|
|O6||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||QB power||Robinson||6|
|Schofield(-2) gets beat by the backside DT as Omameh pulls.This guy gets into Omameh in the backfield and destroys his pull. LB in the hole now gets cut by Smith. Denard his headed outside where there is contain, which gets the Alabama DE to pull upfield. Denard(+2) changes direction in a flash, heading straight upfield. Omameh(+1) gets to the hole now and picks through Smith, blocking the guy he just cut. He blows the LB off the ball; Barnum(+1) does the same, and Denard can burrow behind those guys to fall into the endzone.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Barnum, Omameh||RUN-: Schofield|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-31, 2 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer||Smith||3|
|Same stuff minus Hopkins. DE comes down, Denard hands off, Smith ends up on the edge against an unblocked guy as Dileo comes down on a linebacker and Jackson flares out on one of the three guys in M2M to the trips side. That leaves another guy, who tackles with help from that DE peeling back. RPS -1. No run plus minus, as there were no relevant blocks.|
|M25||2||7||Ace 3-wide||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|M20||2||12||Shogun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||PA quick seam||Dileo||20|
|Not sure if this is an iffy pass or an attempt to keep it away from the defender but knowing Denard it's probably the former. An easier catch would probably not have resulted in anything bad. Dileo spins 360 degrees, grabbing the ball halfway through, and keeps his feet for a nice gain past the Bama secondary. This a borderline 1 or 2; I'll give the one for keeping his feet. (MA, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +1)|
|M40||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||2|
|Mealer and Omameh both pull. Kwiatkowski(+0.5) seals the playside end. Barnum(-1) gets out but his attempted cut is not effective; that LB gets up and gets outside, hitting near the LOS. Smith just ran into the secondary; would prefer it if he helped out here. At least this time we're asking them to beat a block. A great play by the LB here; if Smith had doubled down on this Denard is getting some yards.|
|M42||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Pass||Flare||Gallon||Inc|
|Michigan brings Gallon across the formation and then fakes a stretch(!) into the boundary(!) that fools the backside LB. Denard has Gallon wide open for quite a few yards and misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|M42||3||8||Shotgun trips stack TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||5|
|Michigan rolls to the field, right into a safety blitz. Smith can only chop one of them; other guy is right in Denard's face, forcing a scramble that doesn't get there. (PR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-31, 12 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Zone stretch||Rawls||5|
|Bubble is open as they've got two safeties back, but M runs. It's a stretch into the boundary, which is a little odd. Rawls(-1) misses the cutback lane behind the backside tackle that would have gotten him going NS against a DE trying to contain Robinson and only coming back later. He ends up bouncing off Omameh and going around to the outside, which somehow works. Lewan(+1) bludgeoned the DE there and Gardner(+1) spent a long time fending off a corner. Lucky, lucky.|
|M40||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||5|
|Denard is looking at Jackson on a little slant at the sticks and decides against it... I think if he throws it on time it gets there but hard to tell. Instead he decides to take off and run for stuff. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||QB inside zone||Robinson||9|
|Alabama slants under the line and blows up the blocking. Mealer(-1) is left in a heap, Lewan(-1) also falls to the ground as his guy gets inside of him, and Barnum(-1) releases to the second level without checking. Alabama's guys fall, too, which gives Denard(+3) an opportunity. He hops, then hops again outside; Schofield(+0.5) does a decent job maintaining his block and this gives Denard the edge. Once he's out there he uses a dodgy block from Gardner to get outside and jets for near first-down yardage. Standard bitching about lack of Denard. Musberger finally gets to tell us Usain Bolt story with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.|
|RUN+: Denard(3)||RUN-: Lewan, Mealer, Barnum|
|O46||2||1||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||0|
|Odd blocking here as AJ Williams goes backside into the gap just inside Lewan; Bama NT two-gaps on Barnum(-1) and when Smith picks the hole to the frontside comes off to tackle. Crappy read by Smith? I don't know. Don't know why you send a guy to the second level and not help on Williams here.|
|O46||2||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Speed option||Rawls||-2|
|Bama has everyone within a few yards of the LOS; Sunseri is deepest at eight. Michigan orbits Rawls and runs a speed option; they block it well enough but Sunseri is tearing like a bat out of hell for Rawls and plants him two yards in the backfield. Ingram Rawls is not. RPS -1; this probably gets the first down except for no deep safeties.|
|O48||4||3||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Broken play||Robinson||2|
|Robinson(-1) fumbles the snap, picks it up, and starts running around on a broken play. He gets tripped up, reaches for the first down, and doesn't quite make it. Overturn is correct.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 7-31, 4 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M14||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Sprint counter||Smith||1|
|Schofield(-2) gets destroyed by the LB he's assigned to. That guy comes through the block and tackles Smith. Otherwise this is okay, though it's not fooling anyone. Since M never runs any plays that look like this but are not the counter, the counter action does not work.|
|M15||2||9||Shotgun trips stack||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Screen||Smith||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Blitzing LB is straight up the middle too fast. Denard is hit as he throws and the ball is behind Smith. (PR, 0, protection 0/1, RPS -1) M gets bailed out by the LB getting a hit on Denard's head. Very marginal call.|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA fly||Gardner||Inc|
|Fake inside zone with Barnum pulling to the backside, which they don't do. Three guys go out, two going deep another sort of deep. No one is really open. Denard chucks it deep at Gardner, who has a shot at it before being tripped by the safety. They throw a flag, and then pick it up. [fumes] This was a fifty yard throw that beat bracketed coverage and was a yard inside the edge of the field. (DO, 0, protection 2/2).|
|M30||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||22|
|Omameh(-1) can't get a cut or any control on the backside DT so Smith(+3) can't really find anything on the cutback despite Barnum(+1) and Mealer(+1) blowing the frontside guy almost to the sideline. That guy eventually splits the two and comes up on Smith, who miraculously hops outside and shoestrings the sideline for 22. Lewan(+0.5) and Hopkins(+0.5) had a hand in it.|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||4|
|Alabama tips a huge blitz from the field with six guys at the line and no one within the two outside receivers except one guy eight yards downfield. Michigan runs at the boundary again. Kwiatkowski(-2) whiffs on the playside DE entirely, allowing him outside. He runs into Barnum, cuts off Smith, and forces Denard to cut up. Denard is into that hole before Omameh can get there, unblocked guys, tackle.|
|O44||2||6||Ace twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Fly||Gardner||44|
|No pressure; Milliner looks back, gets his legs tangled up with Gardner, and goes down. Denard hits Gardner in stride for the TD. (DO, 2, protection 2/2.)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-34, EO3Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M8||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Run||Iso||Smith||-1|
|Nickel rolls down. I think this is an iso but it's hard to tell since the blocking gets blown up so hardcore. Mealer(-1) loses his guy into the gap Hopkins is attacking, and Barnum(-1) is stood up at the LOS. Smith goes away from the gap Hopkins did because there is no gap and unblocked guys tackle. RUN-: Mealer, Barnum|
|M7||2||11||I-Form twins||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA corner||Gallon||19|
|Unbalanced, Michigan goes PA, no one is buying it. Schofield(-1) is beaten but does manage to maintain contact and shove the guy who beat him past Denard, who sidesteps, sets up, and threads a dart to Gallon 20 yards downfield. Same throw he made to Gardner earlier except the WR didn't misjudge it. Tough play all around. (DO, 2, protection ½, Schofield -1)|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Iso||Smith||2|
|They try the other side of the line. Omameh(-0.5) does better with his guy but can't really control him; Schofield(-1) cannot kick the DE. Those two guys converge to tackle as Smith passes the LOS.|
|M28||2||8||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 under||Pass||PA fly||Roundtree||Inc|
|Everyone is bracketed, Denard chucks it deep to Roundtree, overthrown by five yards, almost intercepted. (BR, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)|
|M28||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Deep hitch||Gardner||Inc|
|Ugh, Musberger calls M and Alabama two of the great brands in college football. Shoot me. Mealer(-1) gets over aggressive on a stunt and a rusher slides through right up the middle. Smith takes him out, Denard gets squirrelly and chucks one over Gardner's head. (IN, 0, protection ½, Mealer -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-34, 10 min 4th Q|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Rollout hitch||Roundtree||5|
|Short pitch and catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M40||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||7|
|Milliner turns for three-deep and the slant opens up. Now just trying to bleed yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||TE out||Kwiatkowski||6|
|Again open underneath as Alabama is playing off. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O47||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||1|
|Omameh(-1) and Mealer(-1) fail to combo the NT at all.|
|O48||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Sack||--||-6|
|Schofield(-2) smoked; Burzynski(-2) fails to read a stunt and two guys converge on Robinson. (PR, N/A, protection 0/4, Burzynski -2, Schofield -2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-41, 4 min 4th Q. Final snap is a Bellomy INT and not charted.|
YAAARGHFALARGH FALARGH FALRAGH
Which kind of YAAARGH FALARGH is this now?
There are multiple kinds of YAAARGH FALARGH?
Yes. There is the YAAARGH FALARGH that YAAARGHs about Denard getting about two carries in the first half and FALARGHs about the idea that fate has consigned us an offensive coordinator who can make delightful minute adjustments in a West Coast passing offense and a quarterback who can't run them that. Then there is the YAAARGH FALARGH that YAAARGHs about the idea that Rich Rodriguez might have some good ideas when it comes to offense and FALARGHs whenever this here guy points out that Borges is not an invincible superman.
Didn't Rich Rodriguez almost get West Virginia to a national title game?
And put up 48 against Oklahoma and 38 against Georgia in BCS games?
The former then.
An excellent choice.
BUT SIR I WOULD LIKE YOU TO PROVIDE AN IRRITATING DISCLAIMER FIRST
Like, oh my God. Alabama does that to everyone. It is virtually impossible to tell how Michigan will do against an earthly defense when this is basically the best defense since M 1997 minus some important guys and the guys replacing the important guys are dudes like DeMarcus Milliner, who is insane. Insaaaaaaaaaaane.
What happened Saturday may not have any bearing at all on what happens the rest of the year.
Okay, good UFR, let's go home.
Not so fast.
But I want to go home. You have no idea.
There are things to learn! Expectations to tweak!
I would rather not.
Scriven away, Bartleby, this is happening.
Not saying it.
[A reminder about what this means can be found in the UFR FAQ. Note that screens behind the LOS are in parens, so in the first half of 2011 Denard threw 66 balls labeled catchable, 54 downfield and 12 screens. The DSR metric is Dead On and Catchable balls divided by all throws not marked Marginal, Pressure, or Scramble.]
|2011 through MSU||13||66(12)||11(1)||34(1)||17||2||3||10||4||55%|
|2011 after MSU||9||77(9)||7||17||9||6(1)||5(2)||9||5||69%|
I know. A couple caveats: three of those CAs were late when Milliner had lost interest and a fourth was borderline on a slant that took Gallon off his feet (but was still very catchable), and one of the BRs was of course the BRX—the X stands for XTREME—on the pick six. On the other hand, I marked the Dileo seam an MA because it was behind the guy when you can make a case that he was keeping it away from the defender, and now I feel guilty for asserting that "knowing Denard" it had to be inaccurate. Blame on the first interception can be split between Denard, Borges (no other options), Roundtree, and possibly the refs. Call it a push.
In terms of accuracy, Denard had a good day. Maybe very good. Those first two slants are in the receiver's chest. The problem was that Milliner was also in said chests.
That kid is nasty, and Michigan's wide receivers could not get separation from him unless he fell down. Maybe there was a square foot in which the ball could be caught without Milliner making a play on it… maybe. I doubt it.
Sometimes when it looked like Denard missed, it was his receiver blowing the play. This deep corner looked like an overthrow live, but the replay shows that 1) ain't nobody open, really, and 2) despite that if Gardner does not first slow up and then misjudge the ball once it's in the air this is probably a fantastic completion:
Later in the game, Gallon would run the route correctly for a twenty-yard completion. Even when Denard chucked a back foot throw to Jerald Robinson thirty yards downfield on third and ten, it was right on the money. It was broken up by Milliner, of course, and I'm leery of him trying that again, but we're a results-based charting service.
And then you've got a couple of perfect deep completions plus a third that would have been if not for the Alabama safety coming over and tripping Gardner. He plain missed about as often as McCarron. The difference was in the defenses and the wideouts.
This was actually encouraging. Possibly really encouraging. I know, I know.
But the horrible horrible interceptions!
Yeah, we got the three NOOOO Denard throws: the two picks and a chuck-and-pray to a bracketed Roundtree that was five yards to long and almost intercepted. You'd like for Denard to find someone else, but on at least two of those there was no one else open. So then you'd like him to throw it away or RUN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST RUN, but we're stuck with it, I guess.
This is a situation that, like all situations, may improve when you're not playing Alabama. Various YPAs from veteran QBs against Alabama the last couple years:
- Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: 5.3
- Clint Moseley, Auburn: 3.4
- Ryan Mallett, Arkansas: 9.4
- John Brantley, Florida: 6.5
- Kirk Cousins, MSU: 7.5
- Denard Robinson, M: 7.7
If Michigan's receivers were capable of getting separation—or Michigan had manufactured some with play action Denard—things would have been fine. If Robinson's accuracy continues against mortal defenses he'll have outstanding numbers and Borges will get a gold star.
What about Gardner?
Well, first, the receiverchart. I'll leave the season numbers blank because obviously.
[Passers are rated by catchability:
- 0: uncatchable
- 1: very tough
- 2: moderately tough
- 3: routine
The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]
So there's obviously a huge difference between the accuracy credited Denard above and the catch rankings above. Part of that is Milliner and other guys always covering everything. Part of that that I didn't adjust for crappy routes. This is supposed to be a hands measure. I can only hand-wave at the routes.
Anyway, a routine day in limited opportunities. Hands were fine, separation was not.
Obviously looked very, very raw. The corner route above is evidence enough of that, and on the touchdown I don't think the 360-degree spin-around is a standard move. His routes suck, but he's a 6'4" guy who can leap out of the gym. We'll see how good that speed is against mortal teams. He should get better day by day; Michigan really needs him.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the freshmen as early as next week.
The run game.
|Barnum||3.5||6||-2.5||Not above zero.|
|Mealer||1||4.5||-3.5||Now a lot more worried about Molk transition after flip|
|Omameh||1.5||7||-5.5||Blown up, but not a surprise|
|Kwiatkowski||1||2||-1||Current nominal starter.|
|Williams||-||1||-1||Hard to tell.|
|TOTAL||10.5||30.5||26%||All time worst.|
|Robinson||6||1||5||I don't want to talk about it.|
|Rawls||-||4||-4||Pretty much Mark Ingram.|
|Smith||3||1||2||Basically the one sideline jaunt.|
|Hopkins||2.5||-||2.5||Hard to judge since he rarely had a shot at going one on one|
|TOTAL||11.5||6||5.5||I don't want to talk about it.|
|TOTAL||5||-||5||omg bubble bubble bubble|
|Protection||26||10||72%||Lewan –3, Team –2, Schofield –2, Mealer –1, Burzynski -2|
|RPS||4||9||-5||Not like it mattered but it didn't help.|
So that's the line getting annihilated and getting no plays from the runners save a couple from Denard. Let's not take any of this too seriously until next week.
Yeah, for a north-south mooseback he had a case of the Shaws. Go upfield, young man.
Other running type things?
Fitz will obviously be a huge boost. Neither of the guys who got carries broke tackle one, both missed holes, neither juked guy one. I really, really want to reserve judgment on the offensive line until next week. They were straight-up destroyed; let's see what happens later in the season.
Borges said he didn't regret how little Denard ran, and that Alabama was doing stuff with its safeties that prevented Michigan from going with him.
I find that… unconvincing. For one, two of the three runs all night where someone made something despite the blocking being poor were from Denard:
(The other was Smith's 22-yarder.) For two, you can just call his number. There is nothing preventing you from doing that instead of handing off to Rawls or Smith. If you're going into the game thinking "don't get hurt!" why are you even playing it?
By the time Michigan was down a billion, okay, whatever, the next two quarters are an exhibition. If this happens in a critical Big Ten game that Michigan ends up losing, though, the torches and pitchforks will be out in force.
It's not about scheme!
That's the DeBord way to look at it. Players can get beat; so can coaches. Both played a factor in the loss. When you hand off and there's an unblocked guy waiting for you…
…the blocker isn't at fault. Because there isn't one. I'm not sure why Michigan thought they could get away with straight-up inverted veers against Saban nine months after they tore up OSU.
In a weird way, I'm actually encouraged about Borges long-term since his response to a defense that stacks the box is to throw at it. Once you get the receivers and the line and Morris in, that stuff is going to work, and we won't have to facepalm after yet another run into a stacked front on first and ten.
But it is about scheme, in addition to the players getting whipped. A failure that comprehensive touches everyone. E-fact.
Gallon. Maybe Denard? Sort of Denard.
Even adjusting for level of competition the OL was very disappointing. While Lewan got off easiest in the run chart, he also got three penalties, two of them legit.
What does it mean for next week and the future?
God willing, nothing whatsoever.
A few things I'll be looking to confirm or disconfirm before Notre Dame:
- Is Denard way more accurate now?
- Will Denard be less interception-prone against humans?
- Is Schofield in trouble at tackle?
- Is Gardner a real actual receiver?
If the OL can't move Air Force I'm going into full on bunker mode.