"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
For a few weeks now people have been asserting that Denard Robinson has not been right. I wasn't sure what to make of those complaints since we didn't really get to see him in the open field much. After Nebraska, the answer appears to be "speed just fine, thanks" even if Lavonte David did hack him down on a couple of potential big gainers.
But, yeah, I do think something isn't right with Denard. That is not necessarily injury. Against Nebraska I've had more "argh" moments in re: Denard running than I've had in a long time. There was this:
That's a scramble on Michigan's botched end-of-half drive on which Denard, presented with a massive hole straight upfield, tries to bounce outside and gets tackled for a three yard gain—in bounds. Michigan ended up getting nothing here when making the really obvious cut (Denard knows the corner will be keeping leverage as his top priority) sees them set up with a first and ten near field goal range or better.
There was this on a play where Martavious Odoms came in motion to be a pitch man:
Denard handed off there when Nebraska had one guy containing two on the edge; Hopkins thumped straight ahead for three yards. Robinson keeps showing up in the run minus category because he's not pulling when the corner opens up like whoah.
Even when Denard did pull he made some inexplicable decisions. Here's one.
It's first and ten on the Michigan something or other and Michigan is in some variety of formation. So is Nebraska. I'm not entirely sure what they are because the director in this game comes from the Michigan Stadium Replay Guy school of framing where everything is a super tight closeup. I assume Michigan is in a standard three-wide set. You can see the slot to the bottom of the screen; M will have a WR on the line outside of him. The other guy could be in a trips formation below or to the top of the screen away outside.
Nebraska appears to be in a straight nickel with a safety as support.
Michigan runs a basic inside zone read, leaving the backside guy unblocked and flaring Koger out.
The above is the mesh point. Robinson is reading the end. The end is square but he is in shuffle mode.
What's shuffle mode?
Remember that period in 2009 when Carlos Brown or Brandon Minor would slam up the backside of the line and run untouched into the endzone? That was Michigan's response to various games defenses were playing with the backside end. The shuffle is the DL's response to that response. He is protecting the soft spot behind the backside tackle that the zone read often causes. He's not really containing the QB, though he's a lot more useful on a keeper than someone screaming down the line. He's more of an RB defender.
Michigan's started seeing this because they brought back the RR H-back inside zone where there is a guy cracking back on this DE.
On the next frame Robinson has just pulled it:
Denard Robinson is Denard Robinson. Koger has flared out to seal the playside linebacker. There is no slot to the top of the screen. Robinson is about to run to the corner for a billio—
I SAID, ROBINSON IS ABOUT TO RUN TO THE COR—
Robinson does run past Meredith and David but Huyge can't extend his block on that defensive end, and that defensive end…
…eats Denard after a two yard gain.
Items of interest
Yeah, this is kind of the same thing Scheelhaase did last week. You know, this:
The difference between the plays is that Scheelhaase screwed up his read and pulled when the defensive end was upfield in a QB contain mode. It was a plan B, one that worked. Here Michigan's plan A is "Denard in a race with a defensive end going the other way." That's a good plan. Let's try that.
It does almost work, but Huyge isn't great and he loses his guy. If Michigan sustains that block they get a decent gain.
Note the difference in the defensive ends. Clark is not shuffling down the line. He's a couple yards further outside and a yard in the backfield. Meredith is at the LOS and tucked in behind a Michigan OL. That should be enough to get Denard the corner but…
Denard seems hesitant. I don't know what the deal is. Unless there's something outside the frame that's relevant—not likely—it's really weird that Robinson wouldn't just run outside. Feel the panic in this linebacker:
That is a man going "oh shiiiiiiii" in slo-mo. He's done and Denard pops outside the DE and is dealing with that safety. Maybe he gets five yards. Maybe he gets ALL OF THE YARDS.
In recent weeks it seems like he's been less of a north-south guy. In this game he is way less of a read threat than he needs to be. In just the first half of last week's game you've got the above three plays, a speed option on which Denard cuts all the way to the backside of the line to little effect, and three or four seemingly obvious pull reads he's missed.
It is possible the reads aren't actually reads, but given what Borges has said it seems like they are. I'm not sure we've seen him pitch on the option yet, though. Is it really an option, or is it just a decoy?
The picture painted is of a guy who's thinking, not reacting.
Too much cram cram. This is a downside of not having a true base offense, I think. Lacking reps on all these things, Denard makes mistakes. If the speed option is just another way to run a QB stretch that's because they don't rep the option enough to be comfortable with the pitch. If they miss a bunch of keep reads it's because they're not repping it enough to make that clear to the quarterback.
Remember that last year Michigan largely dumped the read option in favor of just running Denard. This isn't a regression, it's Denard trying to do something he might not have been very good at last year. That plus an entirely new passing offense means there's a ton on his plate.
We've seen progress in the passing game. They may be emphasizing that since it turns out handing the ball to Toussaint isn't that bad of an idea even when it's a bad idea. Hopefully Michigan can get some of this corrected over the next week because Denard left a lot of yards on the field even when Lavonte David wasn't tackling him by his ankles.
EDIT: Moved Grady to this group
I've written plenty about the guys from the classes of '07 and '08 who didn't make it to this week. This one's for the guys who did.
Many had to overcome hideous, season-ending injuries to get here. They also stuck around through two paradigm-shifting coaching changes, or watched the guy and the system they committed to run out of town.What they signed up for was multiple Big Ten championships and Rose Bowls, but what they got was the most tumultuous years at Stadium and Main since Yost dug a hole in the ground.
What they leave is a program on the verge of a BCS bowl, on the verge of another reshaping, on the verge of one final chance to beat Ohio State. The leadership they provided helped Michigan avoid another painful transition, and set the tone for more success to come. There have been many great seniors to graduate from Michigan, but it is no derogation of them to say that this class is a bit special. Here are their stories (in reverse order of commitment):
EARLY RICH-RODIGAN JET-SMURFS:
Michael Shaw was the wizard hat to Trotwood teammate Roundtree's snake oil, a Penn State commit (Carr had wanted him as a CB) who switched to Michigan at the last minute. Unlike fellow '08 RB recruits he had neither captured the imagination of the Internet by hurdling fools, nor did he have a name that 13-year-olds use on prank calls. What Shaw had was speed, hands, and a cut-and-bounce move. People thought he might be a slot receiver. The era Shaw played in was replete with RBs of various skillsets, and proximity to Carlos Brown made for exaggerated comparisons. Various injuries made for sporadic appearances. He started the '09 Ohio State game and was nominally the starter at the beginning of this year. Everyone will have to pick their endearing memory of bouncy Shaw; mine will be the block on McNaul against NU (the purple one) and Batman.
"Normally they're keying in on me. I don't know why, but they're keying in on me, so that's where [Denard] gets his yards from … We had an idea they were going to try to contain Denard, but we also thought Notre Dame was going to try to contain him."
Martavious Odoms was billed as the perfect slot bug, the prototypical Rich Rodriguez Pahokee speedster with skillz who's completely overlooked because he's tiny. He was brought in to return kicks and punts, block like a mountain goat, and catch bubble screens. Whenever someone of the old guard complained about "little Florida guys" who "won't make it in the Big Ten," they were talking about Odoms.
Tay almost immediately grabbed that slot position and led the team in receptions as a somewhat fumbly true freshman. His sophomore season it was his mountain goat blocking and magnificent TD against Indiana that prevented a Hoosier loss from ever being added to the pile of Rodriguezian indignities. But he sprained a knee against Penn State and missed the rest of the season while redshirted classmate Roy Roundtree exploded. Odoms returned as the world's smallest outside WR in 2010 until a broken foot knocked him out for the second half of the year. This year several broken bits kept Odoms on the sideline as Gallon emerged, until Odoms reprised the Indy TD (@8:51) against Nebraska.
Denard, can you talk about what you saw on the Odoms TD?
Denard: “Me and Martavious had a race, what, two years ago? So I saw that he can run, and he went right past the defenders and I put it in the air.”
What happened in that race?
Odoms, to Denard: “… What happened?”
Denard: “You have to tell them. You have to tell them.”
Odoms: “No, you should tell them.”
Denard: “Ah … he beat me. He got a win there. He got a win.”
Kelvin Grady committed to Michigan before any of these guys, but for basketball. After his sophomore ('08-'09) season Grady left the backcourt to join his brother in Rich Rod's basketball on grass. Grady also left his sure scholarship, and had to compete with the rest of the walk-ons to earn a football one (he did). Grady19 immediately pushed for playing time in the now crowded slot rotation, showing great route running but not so great hands. Then last year the hands improved—as in he caught almost everything thrown his way—and also became the designated reverse guy.
This year he's rotated in every game, despite there being another guy who's "emerged" at his position every year he's been here (Odoms, Roundtree, Gallon). His eligibility will run out after this season, but Kelvin has already received his Bachelor's degree, and is a year into his Master's in Social Work.
"It crossed my mind that I wouldn't have anything," said Grady, who started 25 basketball games as a freshman before seeing his time reduced last year. "I'd be out. I'd be just like the rest of the guys back home who dropped out of college and didn't have anywhere else to go. But I'm too strong. I've got too much will. I've got a family that supports me. I've got a brother [Kevin, a senior running back for Michigan] that's working hard.
"I just want to say to you Florida boys it's not so bad in Michigan."
Terrence Robinson may not get a 5th year; the Texas 4-star was another slot bug who actually won the job in '08 before Odoms. He caused a Nebraska fumble on special teams this year—I don't know what his plans are if there's a scholarship available.
J.B. Fitzgerald got the Victor Hobson designation in the four-man YMRMFSPA haul of Foote-Hobson-Crable-C.Graham. This was thanks to um, large hands? Fitz also was considered quite raw, needing considerable coaching on his read and reaction skills. In this, it's hard to argue that Michigan didn't fail him, provided Jay Hopson then GERG as his position coaches. Fitzgerald was never a threat to displace Obi Ezeh or Jonas Mouton, except when the coaches got so fed up with those guys they put Fitz in (after they tried Kevin Leach). He did see some starting time at OLB late last year due to injuries, but has since been passed by the likes of Ryan and the freshmen. An academic All-American, Fitz will graduate with a degree in sport management.
"Physical's how we like it." (half of this guy's quotes can be taken out of context, the other half are about his family).
Until 2011, Kevin Koger (not Kroger) was the last head-to-head recruiting battle with [glances around, whispers] you know who in Ohio that Michigan actually won. Brian said he was Carson Butler minus the attitude and projected a future move to defensive end. Damn right about the attitude – Koger is a 2011 team captain and the Ryan Van Bergen of the offense.
Koger raised the hype meter a bit by scoring that TD versus Wisconsin in his first career catch, and then hauling in a one-handed flying stab in garbage time versus WMU in '09 that was more entertaining than Coner throwing D.O.'s to walk-on receivers with Mets' last names. This year he made another ridiculous catch over the middle versus Western. Koger's production on the field hasn't changed much from sharing time with Webb in 2010 (14 catches for 199 yards and 2 TDs) to being the guy in Borges's offense (17 catches for 195 yards and 3 TDs). Blocking Purdue's DEs (at top of screen, blocking 49) was a lot of fun.
In parts of the internet where trite metaphors are allowed, the phrase "Mike Martin is a beast!!!" is stated repeatedly, the number of exclamation marks varying from one to however many it takes to break a keyboard depending on how many yards backwards the poor sap charged with blocking him traveled before reestablishing radio contact. In less savage parts of the internet, people made things like this:
all the time. You can even put him in a micro fleece Balaclava and put Greg Robinson behind him (below) and he still looks like he's about to kill a quarterback any second. So of course Michigan put him in a micro fleece Balaclava and put Greg Robinson behind him. He was still the best player on the defense once Brandon Graham left; actually he beat out Graham for Michigan's '09 DL award.
A late-blooming prospect, Martin got his offer in June after Georgia DT Omar Hunter turned Michigan down. He committed immediately, and remained committed when a flood of others, including ND, came in after the coaching change. Martin arrived able to bench press like NFL first rounders, and ESPN said he looks like a crab.*
He immediately entered the DT rotation with Taylor and Johnson, and then spent the rest of his career here as a nose tackle because Michigan didn't have any other guys on the interior who could demand double teams. GERG's great idea to utilize Martin was to make him the centerpiece of 3-man rushes. After his junior year, Martin's personal accomplishments matched those of Alan Branch, with a far worse supporting cast.
*I think when people say "crab" what they mean is pad level. From now on when I hear "crab" I will declare that prospect someone Michigan must get. I want an entire DL that consists of nothing but crab people who squat 520 and chase QBs like they're Shawn Crable.
Despite having NFL prospects, despite a new coach and staff again again, he stayed. He said:
"‘What are we going to do as a team? Where are we now? We can either not be all in and do what we need to do, or we can work hard together and make sure we’re successful.’ ”
Hoke was also in the room. He remembered Robinson being upset at the media speculating his departure. He remembered fifth-year senior center David Molk getting up in that same meeting and telling everybody the team was going to stick together. …
“When (Robinson) came to us, he was addressing that we as a group — including him — need to make sure that none of the younger guys have doubtful thoughts or might want to stray away,” Martin said. “We didn't want there to be a repeat of last time there was a transfer of a coach.”
Tomorrow: Those Who Stayed (the Class of '07):
This is a mild complaint on another "ten guys" play. Michigan got Iowa fairly well blocked thanks to their alignment, but one mistake far away from everything ends up submarining a winning playcall.
It's Michigan's second play of the game. Robinson has just slipped while cutting, turning a decent gain into a single yard. On second and nine Michigan comes out in a tight ace set with both TEs in a two-point stance. Nominally this is a passing formation what with the TEs all standing up, but formations like this often result in outside runs this year.
On the snap Roundtree, Koger, and Lewan block down, with Schofield and Molk pulling. Patrick Omameh is going to cut the backside tackle… or at least he's going to try. His failure to creates a CHAIN REACTION that DESTROYS THE REACTOR:
Hmm. This isn't good. The backside DT isn't delayed at all. A TFL is possible here. TFLs are not nice.
Meanwhile, there is good work being done on the playside. Koger and Lewan have gotten movement on their guys and Roundtree is cracking down on the playside LB with a great angle.
Molk perceives the threat and removes the threat of the DT with his back. That takes the TFL off the table. Unfortunately, Koger and Lewan have now lost their guys playside. Roundtree does get the linebacker:
At the moment of truth Toussaint does have a crease because Roundtree's block cuts off Koger's guy and Molk slowing has prevented that DT from making the play; Schofield has kicked out the corner.
Unfortunately, there is no lead block, and there is a safety. With the playside DT flowing down the line there's nowhere to go.
On third and five Robinson gets quick pressure and has no one open, so he chucks it well past everyone.
Items of Interest
Ten angry men. So… yeah. Borges basically got Iowa here. Look at the alignment of the linebackers:
They're shifted well to the wide side, assuming that the outside run will come behind Hemingway's block. That gives Michigan a numbers advantage to the playside and gives Roundtree a super easy block on the most dangerous linebacker.
That's enough to get Toussaint a crease on the sideline. If Molk is hanging out being all blocky chances are this sets Michigan up in a third and short. But because of whiff by Omameh so total it threatens to allow a guy on the backside of the play to tackle on a pitch sweep Molk has to bail and unblocked safety is unblocked.
Receivers tight to the line == outside run. Not all the time, of course, but frequently.
These defensive ends are not Purdue defensive ends. Remember Purdue, when a defensive end was a gnome on ice skates?
Good times. Michigan was not playing Purdue in this game. (This is why it was in Iowa.) Koger loses his guy to the outside, and as you can see in the left frame above #79 is threatening enough to remove any hope of a cutback behind Lewan. He's not making the play, but he's doing enough to let some other guys do it. This was a theme.
I don't think Michigan's going to have much better luck with the rest of the defenses on the schedule. Koger's monster day against Purdue looks like an outlier based on the opposition, not a sudden renaissance. NFL scouting of him is middling overall and negative on his blocking:
Isn’t a real balance blocker. Struggles to keep feet under him, lunges into contact and doesn’t create much power as an in-line guy. Possesses a naturally strong frame, but his inability to gain leverage and maintain balance kills him at the point. Possesses long arms and strong hands that allow him to stick initially when he gets his hands on you, but is still learning the nuances of being a consistent run blocker.
That was pre-season; NFP's Wes Bunting re-iterated that recently in a post I can't find.
This is going to be ugly next year when the only options are Brandon Moore, Ricardo Miller, and freshmen. People are talking up AJ Williams as a potential tackle but I think Michigan would love to keep him at tight end if this is at all possible. Having an edge blocker like Williams is a critical piece of a manball offense. Even if Williams is a tackle long term I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't redshirt and Borges uses him as an extra OL. Preseason he talked about wanting to install an extra tackle package but couldn't because he didn't actually have any extra tackles.
Molk == SMRT. The reason this is a modest gain instead of a TFL is Molk's awareness. He catches a glimpse of an Iowa player in his peripheral vision and immediately knows this is trouble. If he had continued on his pull no one would have blamed him—or at least no one would have blamed him much.
He's adapted fairly well to the new system. Not every center can pull effectively. He certainly can, and while he's not an in-line mauler he is generating push more consistently than either of the guards. I predict Michigan misses him badly next year.
11/5/2011 – Michigan 16, Iowa 24 – 7-2, 3-2 Big Ten
When Iowa punched in their final touchdown on Saturday the clock read 10:42 and Michigan had acquired 166 yards of offense. Forced into a hurry-up shotgun on their final three drives, Michigan matched their production from the first 50 minutes in the last ten. Denard Robinson ran 4 times for 23 yards; Vincent Smith had an 11 yard carry. Robinson was 10 of 18 for 126 yards* as Michigan scored, punted, and then wound their way down to the Iowa three.
You know what happens from there: with space compressed, no time to run, and Iowa blitzing up the middle on every play Robinson chucks one out of the endzone on first down, gets 49% of a touchdown on second, sees Smith drop 100% of a touchdown on third, and watches Roy Roundtree get interfered with on fourth. Ballgame.
Shifting circumstances make drawing judgments difficult… or at least they would if the late surge hadn't brought Michigan up to 323 yards, seventy-five less than Penn State, twenty-five less than Louisiana-Monroe, and better than only Tennessee Tech amongst Iowa opponents.
This now a trend. Michigan's played three games against BCS teams with winning records. In each they've fallen behind by multiple scores. Yardage in those games before entering desperation chuck mode: 130 (Notre Dame), 226 (MSU), and 166 (Iowa). Whatever the plan is, it doesn't seem to be working against teams better than Minnesota.
Better than Minnesota most weekends, anyway.
In retrospect, the red carpet laid out by the Purdue defensive ends was MANBAIT with Iowa City the trap. Running against Purdue was easy from any formation, in any direction. This naturally got Michigan's coaches thinking they had ironed out the issues from earlier in the year, so they did more of it. It even worked for a bit. When Michigan came out with a bunch of I-Form in the first half they got yardage on a series of pounding iso plays.
The outside stuff went nowhere, though, and eventually Iowa adjusted to the iso thumping. When the dust cleared Smith and Toussaint averaged 3.6 yards a carry between them. Sacks excluded, Robinson nearly doubled that at 6.6. He got 11 carries, just like he did against Michigan State.
I just don't get it, man. The next person to draw a contrast between how Rodriguez adapted his offense to Threet/Sheridan and Borges did to Robinson gets the mother of all eyebrows cocked at them. On a team with one reasonable tight end, half a fullback, and Denard Robinson, Michigan goes play action from the I-form… a lot. They run Robinson about as often as their third down back. Game over.
This was the fear throughout many (many) offseason columns full of fretting and spread zealotry. It was the fear after the delirious Notre Dame game:
The thing I really really hated about the first three quarters (other than everything) was the way the offense made Denard mortal. This extended beyond the usual reasons 90 yards of offense in a half make you homicidal. Not only were we lost and hopeless in our first serious game after returning nine starters from one of the nation's most explosive offenses, but the guy who didn't transfer when his offense got fired out from under him was busy playing out everyone's worst-case scenarios.
I don't think I can take football games in which I'd rather have Alex Carder than Denard Robinson. A return of freshman Denard looking like a sad panda is too depressing for a multitude of reasons but mostly because just look at him:
Shoehorning him into an offense that doesn't fit him is a crime against man and panda and manpanda. He had to be dying in the first half as he flung balls to Tacopants and ran waggles the entire stadium could predict. People twittered me about moving him to RB so Gardner can get on the field.
Iowa 2011 is to "Denard Robinson can't play QB for Brady Hoke" as Ohio State 2006 is to "Jim Tressel owns Michigan." It's the moment the premise goes from fear to fact.
There's still time to change this, like there was still time for someone, anyone, to beat Ohio State after Football Armageddon went the wrong way. But… man, it doesn't look good. Michigan has three games left plus a bowl of some variety. If they're going to avoid tailspin part three they'll have to figure out a way to pick up more than 200 yards in the first three quarters against the #6, #41, and #14 total defenses. The only way they've managed to crack 20 points against anyone of similar caliber is by closing their eyes and playing 500.
We've gone from a world in which Robinson is a genre-redefining All-American "back" to one in which the only reason there isn't a full-fledged quarterback controversy is because we've seen the backup go full Mallett whenever inserted into the game—this weekend it was usually after the actual offense picked up 20 yards. Robinson's legs have been relegated to sideshow, and the main event isn't pretty.
*[This does count the eight-yard completion that was wiped away by a defensive holding call. While you're down here in this aside I should explain that I picked the points at which to determine "chuck it" time like so:
ND: Michigan goes down 24-7 and gets the ball back at the tail end of the third. If you want to move that out a possession Michigan squeaks over 200 thanks to the 77-yard Hemingway catch and run and subsequent TD.
MSU: Pick six. Not that it mattered; M had 250 for the game.
Iowa: The hurry-up touchdown drive.]
Good thing we avoided that second-half collapse thanks to the toughy tough toughness instilled by Brady Hoke. Like the second-half adjustments, that meme isn't looking so hot. At least the second-half thing had something more than a win over Purdue arguing for it.
On playing 500. I took a lot of crap the week of the Notre Dame game for having reservations about the offense. Crap-throwers are wrong: a more experienced Robinson surrounded by returning starters has doubled his INT rate. He's dropped to 54th in passer efficiency, shed 0.3 YPC, and still has three of the five toughest defenses on the schedule to play.
Denard has limitations. They are severe. He has assets that offset those. They are not being used effectively. He was an All-American last year and is being derided as plain "not very good" on blogs; he won't sniff a Heisman vote. He's gone backwards. The question is why. Candidate answers:
- Losing Martell Webb, Darryl Stonum, and Steve Schilling.
- Losing Rich Rodriguez.
- Aging backwards like Benjamin Button.
I'll take door B. [usual tedious disclaimers for people who aren't arguing with things I actually write anyway]
On whatever that was. BWS brings some ugly numbers on a day with plenty to choose from:
In the first three quarters against Iowa, Michigan had 20 first downs. They ran the ball on 14 of them and gained only 50 yards for 3.57 YPC, mostly because Iowa broke tendency and played a single-high safety defensive front, stacked against the run.
I don't know everything that's ailing the rushing offense but you can't live with that paltry return if you've got Denard at QB.
I'll have to hit the tape for a full breakdown but Rothstein($) says Michigan ran their three-wide shotgun set 31 times, which is not many when you consider the final three drives had 24 shotgun snaps on them. He doesn't appear to be counting four wide shotgun stuff in that number, because Michigan ran plays from the spread on more than seven of their other 51 snaps. Right? I don't even know anymore.
The bipolar defense. Usually a 300 yard day will not see the opponent put up 24 points unless there's a ton of turnovers or a non-offensive touchdown or two. Michigan managed to cough up that many points despite the yardage because all other drives went nowhere. Drives in rough categories:
- Long touchdown marches of 76, 78, and 62 yards.
- 17 and 28 yard four-and-outs (ie: first down on a chunk play on first play of drive, then bupkis).
- Five drives of nothing. One ends in a FG after the fumble.
Not a whole lot of in-between. This has no significance, it's just weird. If Michigan had been able to move the ball at all the defense's ability to boot Iowa right off the field would have set them up with some short stuff eventually. We've come full circle when the offense's ineptness is making the defense's performance look worse than it actually was.
I guess no turnovers is a bummer.
The first thing I loathe about the Hoke era. Second-and-long I-form big play action. So unbelievably predictable it hurts. Last week it ended up in a sack that put Michigan in third and twenty; this week no one was open and there was an end in Robinson's face because everyone in the state knew it was coming.
Devin package. If Michigan can't run a straight dropback pass with Devin Gardner in the game because they don't trust him to throw and don't trust Robinson to be a real receiving threat, the Gardner package—which has devolved from a potentially confusing Mad Magicians reincarnate to "watch us run or not run this jet sweep"—is no longer viable, if it was ever viable at anything other than throwback screens.
Since when do you know how to gamble? I do not like the version of Kirk Ferentz that realizes it is not 1960. I was counting on Ferentz spurning expectation three or four times in this game; instead he goes on fourth and one from the Michigan 39 (the unsuccessful sneak), goes on fourth and seven(!) from the Michigan 34, and is about to go for it on fourth and one on the Michigan 43 when his kid picks up a false start. His profit from the two decisions to go: the game-winning points. Boo.
If Zook goes on fourth and three from the Michigan 40 I'm going to have a fit.
Wither Jake Ryan? I don't know what to make of Jake Ryan's absence. Michigan went with Beyer (SLB) and Clark (nickel DE) instead early, then worked Ryan in a little bit as the game got late. He didn't seem injured—he made the play on the late third-and-one that set up Michigan's unsuccessful last-ditch drive. Suspension? There has to be some external factor.
Second alarming thing: even with Ryan limited, Cam Gordon did not appear. That's a precipitous drop. He is moving towards Bolivian.
Des Moines Register
Martin. Balling. Pretty much the only thing Iowa fans were mad about was the play of a particular guard of theirs; this was because Martin was lighting him up all day. If the linebackers had played well Coker would have had a 3 YPC day because so many plays hardly got to them.
Linebackers did not have a good day. There is a downside of having Chris Spielman doing color for your game when you are a person who purveys football analysis for a living: he steals your thunder. About two seconds after I declared that Desmond Morgan was "killing" Michigan, Spielman was pointing it out in telestrated glory. A big chunk of Iowa's second touchdown drive was on Morgan. He was pulled shortly after for Hawthorne and returned later, presumably chided.
That's life with freshmen. Good thing we won't be starting any next—aw, hamburgers. /shakes fist at Rodriguez
Scrambling. The universe believes Denard Robinson should be very good at scrambling and thus asserts he is. Unfortunately, repeating this enough does not make it true. However, in this game it seemed like there was nowhere to go. With certain limited exceptions Iowa was barely pretending to rush Robinson, instead sitting their defensive linemen around the LOS in a picket fence. In that situation Denard should have surveyed and hit his checkdowns, which he did on Michigan's first-half touchdown drive and would have a few more times if the Iowa DEs weren't so intent on this contain business that they can leap up and bat down floaters to Smith.
Going for two. A not-very-important game theory note: Michigan should have gone for two when they scored to cut the lead to nine. You have to go for two sooner or later; going earlier allows you to adjust your strategy based on the result. There were a couple people arguing that you need to "keep it a one score game" by kicking the extra point, but it's not a one-score game if you're down eight. It's a one-score game 40% of the time and a two-score game 60% of the time. Knowing which one helps you play correctly when you get the ball with five minutes left, for example.
Second game theory note. Ace and I had an argument on the podcast about the playcalling on the last series, with Ace taking the same position MGoFootball does:
What you do with :16 to go after getting a first down at the 3 yard line…
Hindsight, just sayin’, etc., but I don’t think the timeout should have been used before you give Denard a shot to either run a power play or rollout and find a running lane on 1st down. Ideally, Michigan hurries to the line of scrimmage, gets set faster than the defense, and off Denard goes. TD’s may have ensued. So, as the day would have it, Michigan calls their final timeout with 16 seconds left on the clock.
I side with the coaches here. The fourth down play came with two seconds left. Unless you are snapping the ball on the ready for play—not feasible—you are giving away your fourth down. I'd rather keep it than have the ability to run once in three downs instead of four. YMMV.
The thing that rankled was watching Michigan run 10 to 15 seconds off the clock on a play earlier in that drive. If they get that play off quickly Michigan can save their timeout and threaten Iowa with a run.
Obligatory ref section. It's never good when you lose and Mike Pereira is featuring your game above the fold. Pereira says "punt" on the Hemingway catch:
I love it when replay stays with the call on the field when there is judgment involved, along with facts. In my mind, whatever ended being called on the field — incomplete or a touchdown — would have stood in replay. That’s how close this play was. …
The call in Michigan-Iowa game Saturday involved more than just facts. It involved the issue of control, before and after the ball hit the ground. Adding that element makes this ruling far more difficult than just a ball just breaking a plane. It’s questionable whether Hemingway had total control of the ball when his arm hit the ground. And it’s also questionable if he maintained control after the ball contacted the ground. If 50 people were in a bar watching this play, half of them would rule it an incomplete pass and the other half would rule it a touchdown. That’s reason alone to leave the call the way it was called on the field, and I agree with that decision 100 percent.
You can replay that until the sun expands and it's still going to be too close to call. It was going to stand whichever way it was called on the field. That's life.
But I totally disagree with Pereira about the fourth down play…
And, by the way, forget the notion of pass interference on this play — either defensive or offensive. There was not enough to make either call. Same thing on the final play of the game on the slant pattern. The contact by the Iowa defender was not enough for pass interference, no matter what time of the game it was — the first quarter or the fourth quarter.
Bull. I mean:
Wrapping that hand around the back of the player is a call all day, every day.
So that sucks. As ref screwage goes it's only a 3 out of 10 since it probably wouldn't have mattered. Even if the call is made, Michigan still has to score, get a two-point conversion, and win in overtime to make it matter. That's a 10-20% shot.
I'll have to look at the interception more closely but I didn't think that was egregious. Guy did get there early but that's the kind of play that often gets let go.
Iowa wide receivers are in a fertile period, aren't they? Someone should just follow Eric Campbell around offering whoever Iowa does. Sign me up for Amara Darboh.
BONUS Iowa skill player coveting! I remember Marcus Coker as a recruit who was vaguely on Michigan's radar in 2010 but things never got serious. Michigan grabbed Stephen Hopkins; Coker floated out there hoping for a single decent offer before committing to Iowa in August. Other suitors: Wake Forest, Minnesota, Kansas State, and Maryland.
I don't get that. Coker's the sort of physical package that should be drawing offers from most of the Big Ten and he played at Maryland power DeMatha. It's not like RR was the only coach to whiff on the guy, I guess.
I thought this was the most interesting bit about the press conference:
What went wrong on Coker’s last TD run when nobody even touched him? “Well they got to the edge and we were really trying to stack up the middle. It was a bear defense. Without seeing it, I have a feeling that the six probably got scooped out of his gap and then [Coker] got downhill pretty fast.”
Six == just outside the tackle and presumably the "bear" LB.
Inside the Box Score is oddly formatted but on point about a weird personnel decision:
Thomas Gordon had zero tackles. There was a board post on this topic yesterday. I don’t understand how you take your 2nd leading tackler out of the lineup. I get that his getting a lot of tackles is part of the position he plays, but he sure looks like one of our best 11 defenders to me. Additionally, Gordon is listed at 208 pounds on the roster, and Woolfolk is 191. When you are playing against Coker and those corn-fed hawkeyes, I want MOAR BEEF on defense. I’m not going to complain about Woolfolk. I understand wanting to get an experienced, 5th year senior, and team leader on the field, but if I was Gordon and lost my job due to intangibles I’d be “upset”. (The actual word is “pissed,” but I recently learned Mom is reading my diaries. If you notice a change in tone, that’s the reason.)
Gordon was upset, and posted something about "P O L I T I C S" on twitter/facebook/whatever his social network poison is.
I must disagree with Hoke for Tomorrow:
So that happened. I had promised myself before the game that I wasn't going to get all emotionally invested in the outcome. I could feel the disappointment coming all week. Iowa was coming off of a loss that made them look much worse than they really are and Michigan was traveling to their house. Michigan was coming off of a "validating" win over an overmatched Purdue squad, were already assured of a bowl invite, and had equaled last year's win total already. There was no question which team had the most to play for and the game was sure to reflect that. No surprise: it did.
Michigan had a good shot at a division title before the weekend. I award them 16 Wanting It points to Iowa's 13 in a totally made up exercise I just executed.
And the Denard slide started a long time ago.
Unwashed blog masses. MVictors:
My line lately to people who ask before the game is this—Denard’s going to get six to eight opportunities to really hurt the opponent with his arm. He’s got to cash in on two, maybe three. He didn’t Saturday and I’m getting more and more frustrated. Despite Brian’s speculation, I’m sure they travelled to Iowa City and East Lansing with Borges’ head completely in tact but I don’t get the insistence to put Denard behind center.
Speaking of Denard, something not there with his wheels. Michael Spath tweeted that’s he’s become a “cutter”, as opposed to just beating people to the edge. I’ve noticed this too and since Michigan State I just haven’t seen that extra burst.
The Iowa perspective is rapturous about their defense since we managed to score less than Indiana and Minnesota. The commenters deploy the usual defensiveness about the refereeing. This list of grievances is something:
but them complaining is just not right when you look at the whole picture. we got one slight favor at the end of the game. there were a slew of terrible calls throughout the game that went in Michigan’s favor.
the refs lost track of what down it was while michigan was driving in the first quarter, effectively giving them a free timeout, the official threw a pi flag on the wrong receiver, which was thankfully called back, we got nailed on a questionable offsides that kept a Michigan drive alive in the third, and they got away with a pretty blatant chest bump on a fair catch that should have been interference. I can remember very few calls during the game that went our way unti lthe very end.
When your most outrageous outrages include a flag that was picked up and the refs resetting the clock you might be protesting too much.
There's a lot to question about this offense, specifically: Denard Robinson's run:pass ratio; the persistent presence of backup QB Devin Gardner, to no apparent effect; the persistent absence of an every-down tailback. But it all seems to stem from the basic uncertainty that follows a coaching change: How does a coaching staff with a specific, ingrained philosophy integrate a lineup built for a completely divergent philosophy? Before the season, coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges promised they weren't stupid enough to ask the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year — as a sophomore, no less — to be something he's not. For the most part, that's been true — especially when the offense has sputtered early against the likes of Eastern Michigan, San Diego State and Northwestern.
Against the best teams on the schedule, though, manageable second half deficits have been cause for a makeshift air show. Against Notre Dame, incredibly, heaving the ball almost indiscriminately after three stagnant quarters actually worked in the fourth. Against Michigan State, it didn't even come close. Today, at least, it came close before coming up short.
It's hard to be mad when you've seen this story over and over again; if you're surprised by the ending then you should probably pay a little closer attention. This is what Michigan has done for years. In the interest of putting a name to it, we'll simply call this the Ben Chappell Theorem; that is, that if Michigan plays a team with multiple glaring weaknesses/an air of general incompetency that has already failed in the face of the opposition of other inferior teams, then, it must necessarily follow, that not only will Michigan not exploit those weaknesses (or what are ostensibly weaknesses, i.e. Michigan State's offensive line) effectively (usually not for lack of some trying, though), they will make certain players look like All-Americans in the process. An enormous shadow of a mouse becomes something much worse in the shifting tectonic plates of light and dark. Just as Michigan made former Indiana QB Ben Chappell look like the greatest thing ever on one afternoon, Michigan continues to make the mediocre look exceptional.
(Presser audio for this transcript courtesy of The Michigan Daily. Thanks Tim.)
This file photo seems sad given the current context.
Opening remarks: “Well that’s why you play 60 minutes of football. I didn’t think we as a team played as well as we could and should throughout the game, but especially the first half. We have to do a better job of coaching, preparation, all those things. I’m proud of the kids, though. They kept swinging away. Kept coming and fighting. We had some opportunities to get the ball back a couple other times where we didn’t get it done defensively. Obviously when you get into the redzone you have to score touchdowns.”
Your last possession in the first half really seemed to swing things a little bit. “Well, we [were] trying to make a play and put the ball on the ground. That led to a field goal. And the interception down there going in. Ya know. That does swing. When you don’t have the ball and you don’t score.”
Did you get an explanation on the flag (pass interference) that got picked up? “One guy said it was, one guy said it wasn’t.”
When Denard forced the throw that led to an interception … “I don’t know if it was forced, to be honest with you. You’re talking about the one at the end of the first half?” Yeah. “He had a receiver.”
Was this was a game of missed opportunities for you beyond the two turnovers? “At times we rose up and played pretty good third- and fourth-down defense. Third-down stop there late was huge. We need to do a better job on that. I think they were 4 of 12 on third down conversions, which defensively is okay, but there’s always six to eight plays in a game that really are going to define when you’re playing a good football team and a team on the road, and you think back and there are six to eight plays that determines who executed and who didn’t.”
What went wrong on Coker’s last TD run when nobody even touched him? “Well they got to the edge and we were really trying to stack up the middle. It was a bear defense. Without seeing it, I have a feeling that the six probably got scooped out of his gap and then [Coker] got downhill pretty fast.”
How do you think you did against Coker as a whole? “He’s a good back, and I thought we put bodies on him. I think our guys did a pretty good job. I felt Mike Martin a ton, so until I look at it -- I’ll know a lot better.”
The missed extra point, when Dileo bobbled the snap … “He’s caught probably a thousand of them. It’s like anything else. It’s probability. It’s going to happen.”
Whose decision was it to keep Denard on the sideline? “Well it was really his hand's decision.”
What do you think of his play? “I think he played well. I think he keeps growing as a quarterback.”
Toussaint? “He got bruised up a bit, but that’s the kind of game it is.”
On that last drive, Denard was throwing a lot of jump balls. “What jump balls?” The longer routes. Seemed like he was throwing deep a lot. “Well on one we tried to run a rebel, and the rebel wasn’t open. The one-on-one coverage on the outside was.”
What did you think of your linebackers? “I could feel them. I felt them more the second half than the first. I think Kenny made some plays in there. I think Brennen Beyer played a lot of football. This is a good environment for a freshman to play.”
How did Brennen Beyer respond? “Good, I think. Again, until you look at tape, I’m not real sharp, so it’s hard for me to see it all.”
Did it looked to you like Hemingway caught the ball? “I didn’t have a great seat, but I know one guy in the back thought he did and the other guy thought he didn’t.”
Hemingway dropped a couple passes at the beginning but bounced back to make some good catches. “Yeah, Junior’s a prideful kid. I mean, these are all prideful kids. He didn’t try to drop any balls, I can tell you that. It’s good to see a guy who’s played a lot of football come back from adversity.”
What did you think of Jordan Kovacs today? “I like him. I mean, I like him. I think he did okay.”
You’re all about November. What do you tell your team after this loss? “It’s still November. We have a lot of games left. There’s a lot of football to be played, there’s a lot of things at stake, and number one, we have 24 seniors who are going to play their last three guaranteed football games at Michigan. We’re always going to coach for them, and we’re always going to play for them.”
That may have been Iowa’s best defensive performance in a while. Can you explain why they played better? “I can’t. I think everybody plays well when they play Michigan.”
Your offensive line took a step forward last week. How would you assess their play today? “Again, until I see the tape -- but I thought they did okay. I think Fitz had close to 70 [yards]. We’d like to have 170, but that didn’t happen. I think they did some good things, and I’m sure as we look at it, there’ll be some things they did real well and there’ll be some things we have to go back and fix.”
Do you think they played with more urgency in the fourth quarter or was it just better execution? “We went into 'NASCAR' -- we call it 'NASCAR.' I think that was pretty good for us. And we practice it a lot.”
Was it essentially just hurry-up? “Yeah, it’s different in two-minute, though. There’s a different dynamic to it.”
Are you surprised there was no pass interference call on the last play? “Were you?” Yes. “…”
Turnovers. Considering how much you emphasized it, how much does that hurt? “Well it always hurts. Turnovers always hurt. And that’s one thing that we’ve done a good job -- taking care of it and ball security. The thing we missed today though was we didn’t get any back. That’s where we have to revisit why and those kinds of things.”
What were some of the flaws in not being able to stop Coker or Vandenberg? “Flaws? We missed some tackles especially in that first drive. They hit the under route and the corner should have tackled him and it’s maybe a 20-yard gain. Instead it goes down the sideline and then we miss a tackle in the hole on a touchdown. I think the timing in their passing game, they did a nice job with the first-down throws and the max protection kind of things.”
Do you attribute any of this to being on the road? “No. I thought our guys loved it. I really do.”
Hemingway’s catch? “Yeah he caught it, but the referee said he wasn’t in.”
Did you think he was in? “Of course I thought my teammate was in.”
What’s your takeaway from this game? “Oh man. What we did good was we kept fighting. No matter what, we just kept fighting, and that’s the biggest thing we’re going to take from this game, and learn from my mistakes.”
Did they do anything defensively to surprise you? “Oh no. We just started slow.”
Are you surprised there was no pass interference on the last play? “We can’t let the game [depend on] the officials. We have to do it ourselves.”
What happened when you left the game for injury? “I just got hit a hit to the elbow. That’s all.”
Do you feel like you missed a lot of opportunities today? “Yeah that’s the biggest thing. Turnovers was the biggest thing. Coach Hoke always tells us we have to keep the ball. Keep the ball. No turnovers.”
How much confidence does the defense give you, knowing that they can make a stop this year? “Oh yeah. The whole time the defense kept telling me they would make a stop and give us the opportunity to score, so that’s what happened.”
Was the plan on the last drive to take so many shots downfield or was it just what you were seeing? “It was just what I was seeing.”
Offensive line? “They played great. Hats off to them, and I love them.”
On that last drive -- you’ve been in that situation before. What was going through your head? Were you calm? “Oh yeah. Everybody was calm. We just knew we had to try and make some plays.”
On second to last play, did you think about running at all? “I thought Vince came open a little bit so I just gave him a chance to catch the ball.” Did you think you had a running lane? “I don’t know. I was just looking downfield.”
Just the good times.
Can you talk about the resolve you showed on that last drive? “Yeah. That’s expected. We play Michigan [football]. We’re supposed to fight back. That was a physical football team, so getting down … [it] would be tough to come back on them. But I mean it’s expected for us to fight back to the last second.”
Why were you struggling to move the ball for the first three quarters? “It’s just a testament to what Iowa was doing defensively. They don’t do a whole lot on defense, but what they do do, they do it well. They’re very gap sound, and I think we struggled with that a little bit.”
How costly were turnovers today? “Definitely. Definitely the fumble before halftime, they went down and got a field goal. That was a big turnover, but the defense did a great job of only holding them to a field goal, because they could have gone in and scored.”
Why did you leave the game? “Just banged up. I’m all right. I’m good. I’m still living.”
Where do you think this leaves you going forward in terms of the division and conferece? “We really can’t worry about that. You can’t tell the future. You never know what’s going to happen in the few weeks. All we can do is learn from this tape and get better every week. Whatever happens, happens.”
What was disappointing about this game? “Just the overall performance. I felt like we were ready this week, just like every other week. We came out, and we didn’t play how we could have or how we should have. It was just disappointing really the poor play we had.”
Can you point to anything specific? “Probably just taking care of the football. It’s hard -- I haven’t watched the film yet, so I’ll have a better idea of it on Monday -- but just taking of the football right now. But the defense played great, I thought.”
What did you think of the final drive? “We practice it all the time at practice, so it’s nothing new to us. So we were in our element.”
Did you think back to the 2009 game at all? “Before the game, but during the game you’re so caught up in your assignment and what the defense is doing that you don’t even have time to think about what happened two years ago.”
Did it feel like that in the final drive? “I mean, actually I wasn’t in two years ago, but it may have had a little bit of the same feel. A little bit.”
Were you watching the replays on the board? “I actually didn’t even see it. I mean, we thought he scored a touchdown, so we were getting ready for our two-point play. So it was kind of disappointing that they did call it out.”
What was Junior Hemingway say about it? “I didn’t hear him. I just read body language, and he was confident that he was in, but the refs made the right call.”
From file, on right.
You played a lot better in the second half. Was there an adjustment made? “No, not really. We knew this was going to be a physical game and it was going to be punch for punch on both sides of the ball. We had to make plays right back, so we just didn’t play as well as we needed to today.”
Why do you think you struggled in the first three quarters? “I don’t know. We just have to, on our side of the ball, execute better. I just comes down to the little things. Guys missing tackles that they were supposed to make. Not executing and being in certain gaps. That’s something that we’ll have to break down on film.”
What’s your impression of Coker? “He’s a tough runner. We were putting bodies on him and getting to the ball, and he made plays.”
You’ve seen your offense score on last-minute drives before. Was there any doubt that they wouldn’t make it in with four shots down at the goal line? “No. We didn’t have any doubt. I was standing next to Van Bergen, and he’s like, ‘Man, I believe in these guys,’ and I’m agreeing right with them. It’s in their hands at that point, and we have their backs, and what happened happened.”
You guys seemed to be pretty excited when you saw Hemingway’s catch on replay. Why do you think it ended up not being a touchdown? “That’s not for me to tell. The referee made the call he made, and we can’t control that.”
Did he look like he was in? “Yeah. Junior, he does a good job with making plays on the ball. He’s a good player and he always plays hard.”
Hoke talked about missed tackles and missed assignments. Was it disappointing since you thought you had fixed those problems? “You know, you have to give it to Iowa. They played hard today, and Coker ran hard today like he does. We just have to get better on our side of it. It’s about us tightening down on how we play and getting better.”
What’s the biggest thing you need to shore up? “I think we just need to work on getting more bodies to the ball and swarming around. That’s something that I don’t think we did as well today. We just have to get better.”
There were a lot of freshmen in there, especially early in the game. Did you need to calm them down a bit? “I don’t know if they were too amped up. They know we have confidence in them and we just don’t want them to have any doubt in their mind, and I don’t think they do. Those guys, they’re very talented, and whoever’s in there, there’s the expectation for the position. Whoever you are, a freshman, senior, or in between. Whoever’s out there has to play and make plays.”
Where does this leave you guys going forward? “We have three more games and that’s all we can worry about. There’s a lot more football to be played in this league, and we can’t tell the future, so we just know that we have the next game, Illinois, and that’s all we can think about.”
What will be the seniors’ message to the rest of the team after this game? “I’m going to say, ‘Pick your heads up, we have to bounce back, and there’s nothing to hang your head on. I know it hurts. It’s gonna hurt. It should hurt. But that’s in the past now, and tomorrow’s going to come and it’s not going to be Saturday anymore. The game’s over. We just have to worry about Illinois, and that’s the next opportunity that we have.’ ”
This defense is becoming known for producing turnovers. Why do you think you didn’t get any today? Do you think it might be because you didn’t get enough people to the ball? “That’s probably one of the reasons. I don’t really know. Like I said, you have to give it to Iowa. They played hard today. They played well, and they had good ball control. But yeah, we just have to get better on our side of it.”
Third-and-one stops? “We’re always trying to get the ball back to our offense. Whatever we can do on defense to get the ball back in their hands, get it back to Denard and those guys or whoever’s in there is our priority. Whatever we have to do to do that. … We stepped up. We knew what to do. We had to make a play. Period. We did a good job of doing that.”
Was there an emphasis on putting pressure on Vandenberg? It seemed like he had a lot of time to throw on first down. “Yeah. They were doing some things with their play-action stuff, and they were doing a good job with that, so we just needed to adjust a few things, and I think we did a better job with that the second half.”
From file, on left.
Were you limited in what you could do today due to your knee injury? “No.”
When did you find out you could actually play? “They were working me into the lineup all week. I could tell that they wanted me to play, and I felt like I could play.”
Did this feel like a typical physical Iowa offense? “Oh yeah. We knew what we were going to get. We knew it was going to be a smashmouth football game and it was going to be a dogfight, and that’s what we got.”
Did your knee feel okay? “It felt great.”
Do you think the secondary played well today? “Not well enough to win.”
What could have you done better? “I think we could have done a better job of containing the football and cupping the football and not giving up big plays. That’s something that we’re certainly going to work on. I think we can improve on third downs. That’s a time when we have to get ourselves off the field, and I don’t think we did a good enough job of getting ourselves off the field today.”
Something about opportunities. (Sorry, couldn’t hear the question.) “We didn’t cause any turnovers, I don’t think. They won the turnover battle, and that was the difference in the game.”
Was it a lack of energy or lack of execution? “Probably a little bit of both. I think it’s something that’s happened to us quite a few times this year, and it’s something that we certainly have got to improve on. That’s one thing that we’re going to take from this game.”
Why do you think the defense has been starting so slowly? “I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I don’t know if it’s because we get wide-eyed when we get out there, but it’s definitely a concern of ours and something we have to improve on.”
I know you say “the expectation is for the position,” but does it matter at all that you have so many young players? “No. I think that, like you said, Coach Hoke always says there’s expectations for the position, and I think those young guys have done a great job of coming in and stepping up, but at the same time they’re going to continue to improve every game, and that’s what they’re doing.”
Why do you think the turnovers never came today for the defense? “I think they did a good job of keeping themselves out of third and long. I don’t know that they ever really had it. There were a couple third and longs, but not as many as we’d like. We didn’t put ourselves in good position to make those plays. They did a good job of running the football and holding onto it.”
Did you have any doubt that you were going to head into overtime? “I was ready. I think the whole defense was ready. I thought for sure we were going to overtime, but it didn’t work out like that.”
Was the loss due to the fact that you were playing on the road and you maybe don’t play as well on the road? “I mean, certainly it’s a tough environment to play it. Those fans are crazy, but that’s something that we have to be able to overcome.”
Does this game remind you of the 2009 game? “I mean, it was similar, but we were a completely different team.”
Where does this leave you guys going forward? “We’re only focused on what we can control, and that’s these next three games starting with Illinois. It’s going to be the biggest game of the season so far. We’re looking forward to the game. We still have to watch film tomorrow, get in and improve. We’ll turn the page on the next three.”
Is it different next to Troy Woolfolk vs. Thomas Gordon? “I think Troy did a great job out there, and we did a good job of communicating. Obviously it’s different because it’s been a couple years since he’s been back there, but I think he did a great job today and we did a great job of communicating.”
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.