The D-League as petri dish for weird basketball concepts.
Yesterday's Picture Pages covered extensive confusion on Michigan's part as they tried to run basic isos against a basic defense but couldn't get the ILBs blocked, with a side of playcalls that leave guys alone in the hopes that accounting for end-around motion or the threat of an option play will draw players away from the actual threat.
A second major reason Nebraska had unblocked guys all over the place was blockers seeing a player shoot past them quickly and reacting. I've been doing this for a while now and this sort of thing has become one of my pet peeves. A blocker will see a defensive player run past them clean. They now have two options:
- Turn around and get that guy.
- Know—or at least hope—that wasn't your guy and find someone else to block.
Door A never works. They don't block the guy they missed, and they don't block anyone further downfield. When another blocker takes care of the aggressive player or the ballcarrier outruns him, the play is still screwed up because another defender is coming free.
This happened to Michigan on consecutive plays at the end of the first quarter. On the first, Michigan runs the veer from a 4-wide formation. Nebraska responds with two safeties at about ten yards and 5.5 guys in the box, as was their wont:
You can see the nickelback cheating off Dileo presnap, and he will come.
Remember earlier in the year when I was complaining that the linebackers didn't seem to understand that when the line slanted one way they should be moving against it since that is where the ball is likely to end up? This is an offensive version of that.
Dileo should know these things when the corner comes:
- Michigan is running the inverted veer.
- A blitzing corner is invariably the defense's force player—he contains and forces the runner inside.
- On an inverted veer the force player will be optioned off by the running back. The quarterback will have the ball going vertically.
So does he need to block the corner? No. Will he block the corner? Well, this post exists, so deduct for yourself.
Michigan snaps the ball and runs the veer. Barnum pulls. Here's the mesh point:
45 degrees from downhill—okay
The playside end is hugging the back of the tackle who's ignoring him. This is normally a give by Robinson, and Michigan has picked up some decent chunks early by giving. Denard pulls this time, which is good because that corner is coming to make the give a likely TFL. Nebraska made it easy by tipping that the nickelback was coming presnap.
Dileo should move to the next level, but he turns and starts pursuing the nickelback.
90 degrees! alert!
Argh. At this point the guy is gone, and even if Dileo makes contact there's a good chance he'll pick up a block in the back call. To add insult to injury, trying to block this guy you can't block is purposeless—he's already going to be optioned off.
- Barnum picks up the end.
- Schofield gets his free release and engages the MLB.
The coast is clear!
turned around: dead
Dawwwww, unblocked safety. Unblocked safeties.
Five yards, and Dileo comes back in at the end to go "dawwwwww."
If Dileo can cut that safety like Joe Reynolds did against State, that is six points. Even if the safety keeps his feet and contains, that's likely a first down.
[AFTER THE JUMP: dawwwww not again.]
Why can't Michigan run the ball without Denard? As with anything in football, the answer is "it's complicated" but against Nebraska the pendulum swung decisively towards an inability to block anything.
There were two primary ways in which things went unblocked, one of which we'll cover in two posts.
Ain't Nobody Trying To Block Important People
The first were either busts, play design errors, or combo blocking errors that left totally unblocked linebackers in the hole. A here's a third-quarter iso on the penalty fiesta drive that resulted in a field goal:
The highlighted guy is Nebraska's WLB. No one even tries to block him.
Unsurprisingly, this doesn't go well.
I'm not sure who this is on. I don't get the blocking. If Mealer releases directly downfield in the second frame in an attempt to get that WLB he does not have much of an angle and probably doesn't do much. I would expect Michigan to double that DT, leave Mealer behind on the DT, and then have Omameh pop off.
That doesn't happen. Did someone screw up? Is the play design bad? Is it Schofield moving to the second level poorly? Things are so confused I don't know.
If this was a one time thing you could chalk it up to a guy busting. It wasn't.
[AFTER THE JUMP: more unblocked guys! Like, so many you'll freak! They're coming out of holes in the ground like the Viet Cong!]
Formation notes: MSU's defense is very simple, with few substitutions or wacky formations. They spent most of the game in a 4-3 even with linebackers shaded to the slot. Like so:
Shotgun 2TE twins for M
They would go into an okie package with two deep safeties on passing downs:
Shotgun 3-wide for M
When Michigan split their WRs this was the preferred look:
Also shotgun 3-wide
MSU screwed their corners down into press man and walked their safeties up to about nine yards deep, ready to roar downhill at any run action. You won't get any bubble complaints from me in this game—it wasn't there.
This is "Ace Triple Stack" as a reminder:
Yes, throwback screen obvs.
Substitution notes: Few surprises here. Line all starters; TE rotation about as it has been. No RBs other than Toussaint and Smith made appearances; Gardner was not announced as a starter and got a lot fewer snaps than he has previously. Speculation is he's carrying some sort of injury. Joe Reynolds got his first snaps in a heated situation—all were runs. More about that later.
[……IS BEHIND THE JUMP! There are lot of embeds this week and I've gotten some complaints that UFRs bog people's browsers down—hmmm wonder why—so taking most of the junk off the front page should help in that regard.]
Formation notes: With the Norfleet jet sweep thing becoming consistent enough to call out, it's now "Shotgun Jet":
Norfleet is to the top of your screen, with a tight end. He has always come in motion. I'm sure they'll start doing some other stuff with it.
Aigh stack stack stack (not ours)
Substitution notes: Same stuff on the OL, with Burzynski coming in for both Barnum and Lewan when Barnum was dinged and Lewan was lifted a drive or two before the rest of the line. Jack Miller got in for his first non-garbage time plays on the two unsuccessful goal line dives when Denard was out.
Moore returned at TE but was clearly behind the guys who had already been playing. WR stuff was about what you would expect; Jerald Robinson only got in once Michigan had salted the game away.
RB rotation began in earnest, with Toussaint, Rawls, and Hayes splitting carries. Norfleet got a few specialized plays. Smith missed the game with a hamstring issue. Hopkins was also held out in favor of Kerridge again.
You of course know about the QB substitutions.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||2|
|Two deep safeties and what looks like man with only six in the box. Both safeties are coming hard on the run action, though, with one containing Denard as Buchanan crashes down on Fitz after he handoff. Barnum(-1) gets handled by a DT, pushed back and almost into the lane, so cutbacks are absent. Omameh(+0.5) and Mealer(+0.5) have gotten movement on the other DT, which does provide a small crease, but the DT set up to the outside and thanks to the Barnum bleah Fitz has to test that. He takes an outside angle, where the quick-filling safety goes boom on him. Denard(-1) probably should have pulled with Funchess arcing around Buchanan.|
|M17||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||7|
|Handoff is very viable here as well but Denard saw a lane and hit it so okay. Lewan(+0.5) comboes with Barnum(+1) to get movement on a playside DT; Barnum pops off quickly to shove a blitzing linebacker. Blitzing linebacker on the frontside is coming hard but there's a gap behind him; Omameh kind of maybe gets a tiny touch on him, but it's really just Denard(+1) pulling and accelerating unbelievably fast through a small crease. Another quick safety fill by a guy who is just playing centerfield on runs holds it down after Denard makes it through the first level.|
|M24||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-4 even||Run||Iso||Toussaint||6|
|Straight up the gut. Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+0.5) get movement on one DT. Barnum can't do much with Spence but he still can't affect the play; Kerridge(+1) clubs a linebacker out of the hole and Toussaint(+0.5) bursts right up the middle, leaping over a little trash to get five instead of one.|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||End around||Norfleet||-1|
|Norfleet as a tight receiver, comes in motion. This is no read, just a handoff. I feel like M screwed up their blocking here as both the bulling Omameh and cracking down Gardner take a playside LB; the playside OLB is hanging on the edge; playside end is unblocked as this is fake veer. Toussaint(-1) heads on a path too far upfield and ends up not even touching the OLB; DE pursuing from inside out forces Norfleet into him. RPS -1; this feels like something went awry in the design.|
|M29||2||11||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||71|
|Always works and so much this time. Borges uses Illinois's aggressive safety fill against them. Motion from Roundtree reveals man coverage, the fake sucks eight Illinois defenders away from the playside and kills them. Now it's three M players in space against three Illinois players. Roundtree(+1) blocks a corner well outside the hashes. Barnum(+1) walls off a linebacker trying to recover. Lewan(+2) does a great job on a safety, slowing up, extending to make contact, and then driving through him when he tries to shed to the inside. And then the cavalry arrives in Schofield(+2), who released to the second level, realized no one was coming back and the went to the third level. He checks out Gallon and then hauls ass to get to the last safety, walling him off as Gallon(+1) cuts behind. Then it's just Kwiatkowski(+0.5) cutting off a guy who probably isn't catching Gallon anyway and six points. RPS +3. 20 yards and a one on one matchup with that S if Schofield doesn't climb to him minimum.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||12|
|Backside LB shoots an interior gap as the backside DE is blown off the line by Schofield(+1); he also fights into the interior gap. That means outside is wide open, Fitz(+0.5) takes it. Four guys converge at the sticks. RPS +1. Mostly bad play by the Illini.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun empty 2TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||3|
|Not a surprise. TE blocks down, Mealer and Omameh pull around. Williams(-1) should have an easy seal as Buchanan's first step is upfield; move outside a step and seal and he's gone. Instead, step back, get beat. Omameh(+1) gets a good pop on the linebacker trying to full; Mealer(-0.5) should probably see Buchanan and peel back to pick him off. Instead he moves through the hole; Denard follows and is tackled by Buchanan. Good gain if M just deals with that guy.|
|M49||2||7||Shotgun 2-back twins||1||2||2||4-3 over||Run||Inverted veer give||Rawls||3|
|M blocks the end and sends Kerridge outside; end gets upfield of Kwiatkowski but Denard is reading a linebacker and hands off. With two guys coming up against just a pulling Barnum, right decision. Rawls(+0.5) sees the business outside and cuts up; Barnum just gets a shove on one of the LBs, who funnels to help and gets in an ankle tackle attempt. His buddy finishes from the side; Rawls falls forward for four but gets a crappy spot. Not usually a fan of not having your FB block anyone, but I guess this is a push.|
|O48||3||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Angle||Rawls||6|
|Rawls goes on a little angle route underneath; Denard steps up through traffic nicely. He's got a much easier throw if he just takes another step towards the LOS and lets a linebacker come up on him so that Roundtree's out is wide open but instead rifles a dart to Rawls just in front of a recovering linebacker. He was getting some pressure so I get it. (CA, 2, protection 2/2). Barnum goes out for the rest of the drive.|
|O42||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA post||Roundtree||33|
|Four verts for Michigan and Robinson thinks he's got Roundtree in a window behind an underneath cover three slot defender who's dropping and two of the safeties. He's... right! The outside guy comes over the top but can't do anything about it; ball is high but I think here that's where you want it since you want to keep it away from the underneath guy and it's a 33 yard completion in between three guys do I really have to explain this is a DO? (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||8|
|No read, this is just a fake. Toussaint is hauling at the unblocked end; end hops outside because he fears the end around. He's gone. Burzynski(+1) picks off a linebacker charging up into the gap; Schofield(+1) checks on the playside DT, sees Omameh(+1) has him off the LOS and sealed inside, and climbs to the second level in a flash. MLB walled off. Denard(+0.5) is fast, down to the one, leaves with boo boo. RPS +1. End around fake earned yards.|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||0|
|Mealer(-1) and Omameh(-1) do not handle a slant well; Mealer gets blown into the backfield and Toussaint has to cut behind; Omameh could not cut the gap behind and there is a guy in it; delay, and on the goal line that is doom. Jack Miller's(+1) actually in at RT and he put an Illini guy in the endzone impressively.|
|O1||3||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||0|
|Mealer(-0.5) again can't get much movement; Toussaint(-1) can probably still squirm in at some point but he decides to leap when there's nowhere to leap and when contact is made he has no choice but to go backwards. Physics is a bitch.|
|Drive Notes: FG(18), 10-0, 1 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M18||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Rawls||3 + 15 pen|
|Bellomy's drive. Toussaint goes on an orbit motion presnap, threatening an option thing. M just hands off on an inside zone to Rawls; seriously doubt this is a read Bellomy is allowed to make. DT double from Mealer(-0.5) and Omameh does not quite get the playside guy sealed away; Omameh has to pop off to block a linebacker; Rawls does not trust the block and goes laterally instead of NS, getting tracked down by the LB. Rawls -1; be who you are. Gallon +1, as he flattens a safety. Schofield(+0.5) got a good kick. M gets lucky with a facemask call.|
|Illinois runs an exchange with their MLBs that successfully confuses M. Mealer releases into a guy who is moving past him as a LB sets to fill the gap that leaves; Kerridge also hits him. Toussaint has no choice but to whack the unblocked LB. -0.5 for both Kerridge and Mealer, who collectively did not adjust to the Illinois play but did get movement on their guy and helped make this somewhat positive; Omameh(+0.5) got a nice block on playside DT to help, though that guy was going vertical in the B gap.|
|M38||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE flat||Funchess||Inc|
|Quick hitter off mesh PA; DE is instantly in Bellomy's face. He does a good job to get it off; throw is a little high and behind Funchess but right in his hands; ends up spiked to the ground. (CA, 2, protection N/A, RPS push I guess)|
|M38||3||7||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Nickel 4-3||Pass||Drag||Roundtree||Inc|
|Bellomy rifles it to Roundtree; dropped. This was a four yard pass open by about five yards and was likely to pick up the first. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 12 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||4|
|Denard back. Illinois shoots a linebacker at the snap with impeccable timing; he gets under Barnum and knocks Omameh off his pull. Kerridge(+1) gets a nice cut on the contain guy, which gives Toussaint a slight window to run away from the filling MLB. He takes it; filling MLB just makes an ankle tackle. RPS -1. Williams(-1) again loses a downblock he should be able to finish easily.|
|M36||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Hayes||8|
|Man, keep looks good too, but DE is not outright containing so give is right. Blocking is almost irrelevant; Toussaint(+0.5) gets a decent lead block and Hayes(+0.5) cuts it up behind and hits a DB so the pile falls forward past the first down marker. RPS +1. Barnum(+0.5) got a good block on the playside DE to open up a hypothetical shot up the middle by Denard.|
|M44||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Rawls||6|
|Rawls(-1) misses a huge cutback lane as Omameh(+2) crushes Spence off the ball; Barnum(+0.5) and Mealer(+1) shoot the other DE playside and then Mealer pops off behind to pick off a linebacker. With the backside end blocked, a cutback is Rawls thundering at a WLB for 5-8-10 yards. Instead he bounces and gets lucky as the end gets overaggressive and gives him the corner. I don't care that you got yards, man, GO NORTH SOUTH THAT'S WHAT YOU DO. I cant' give him a bigger minus because he did get yards.|
|50||2||4||Shotgun Jet||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB iso||Robinson||4|
|The Norfleet end around plus iso thing from last week. LB is screaming at the LOS; Spence has set up so that a cutback doesn't seem like a great idea. Rawls(+0.5) bangs LB, stands him up. Barnum(+0.5) handles the other DT okay as he tries to hop outside; his falling tackle attempt has no momentum. Denard hits it up for near first down yardage.|
|O46||3||In||I-Form Big||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Rawls||3|
|Boom. Omameh(+1) handles Spence as he tries to chuck and get to the hole; Kerridge(+0.5) gets an okay MLB block; Rawls(+0.5) is just a bowling ball.|
|O43||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||QB iso||Robinson||33|
|Sweep fake is Toussaint from the two back formation. Backside DE tries to shoot upfield; Barnum(+1) ends up pancaking him on what may be a hold but results based charting. Omameh(+2) blows Spence off the ball one on one. This is an ass kicking. Rawls(-0.5) lets a LB under him, he could disconnect to tackle in the hole but massive cutback thanks to the G blocks; Robinson(+2) takes it. Mealer(+1) has shot a linebacker way out of the hole; hello, safeties. Robinson makes 10-15 more yards by making them terrified he's going to cut outside.|
|O10||1||G||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Zone read belly||Toussaint||4|
|Vertical RB attack angle means this wants to go backside. Unblocked DE contains. Schofield(+1) blocks down on Spence, kicking him down the line and providing a nice lane. Omameh(-1) is surprised by the too-quick attack of the playside LB, and turns back to try to block him; Toussaint(+1) cuts behind the fine Schofield block and is going vertically at the endzone when he runs into Omameh. Find someone else downfield, man, he's gone. RPS +1, should have been six. Mealer(+1) also blew out a DT. Might have been better to shoot Kwiatkowski at that LB than Omameh instead of flaring him out and going safety but not sure.|
|O6||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA rolllout Dig||Gallon||Inc|
|This is just well defended all around. Playside DE is released by Funchess and is quick enough to get out on Denard so that he can't run. Three routes in the endzone all pretty well covered; Denard does pick out Gallon coming across; ball is on the money and Gallon has body position on the defender so INT is not in play; defender makes a +2 play to get the PBU. (CA, 0, protection N/A)|
|O6||3||G||Shotgun double tacks||1||1||3||Dime||Run||QB draw||Robinson||6|
|Man coverage on a three-ish man rush takes a linbeacker away from the field, no one releases from the line at all, everyone convinced this is a throw, corners get thumped by WRs and Denard breaks outside, easy six. Funchess, Lewan, Roundtree, Denard +1; RPS +2. Funchess's drag got a two for one as the guy in man went with him and he picked a guy off, and that was about it as Illinois stunted and gave up the corner.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-0, 4 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||13|
|Illinois running a stunt that I've seen blow up draws before but it just doesn't work for them. Schofield(+0.5) got a big kick on the DT running outside, Omameh(+0.5) handled the DE coming inside. Denard's lane is farther outside than he wants but it's there and he can hit it fast enough so it doesn't matter. Second level; Denard(+1) decides to slide as Mealer(-1) misidentifies who he should block and a safety gets in. RPS push, I think, since Illinois just executed poorly.|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Hitch||Dileo||9|
|Snag concept goes to the interior receiver, Dileo. Great protection, on target throw, open guy, nice catch. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O37||2||1||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Yakety snap||N/A||-6|
|Robinson fumbles a good snap and ends up falling on it. Not charted but keep it in mind when we talk DSR.|
|O43||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Drag||Roundtree||Inc|
|Delayed blitz stunt thing gets a LB around the edge against Lewan(-1), albet pretty far around the edge. Denard has to throw and goes after a pretty well covered Roundtree; we don't get a replay but it looks like this is broken up from behind. Maybe should have ran? Anyway, pressure from a stunt and no one open on hot stuff so got RPSed. (CA, 1, protection 1/2, Lewan -1, RPS -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-0, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun Jet||2||1||2||4-3 over||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||9|
|This may or may not be an inverted veer; it could just be a called play. Action is IV. Playside end moves way down as Illinois slants away from the play and the outside contain from the LB is way outside. Pull is obvious, made. MLB is trying really hard to funnel to help and makes contact to the outside of pulling Omameh(+0.5), but with Toussaint(+0.5) banging the contain guy no chance. Denard(+1) pops outside a tackle attempt and is into the secondary. Gallon(-1) ran right by his guy, who tackles as Denard neared the sticks. RPS +1. Basically impossible for Illinois to not have this happen with their playcall.|
|M35||2||1||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||0|
|Barnum(-1) blown up, loses his guy playside, gives up penetration. Ditto Omameh(-2), except he also falls instead of continuing to escort the guy where his momentum takes him. Toussaint can cut back behind the first biff, but not the second. Worst play of the day from the OL I'll bet.|
|M35||3||1||Shotgun 2-back 2TE||2||2||1||4-4 under||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||4|
|Rawls moves to give some speed option action but I think that's just a decoy. Schofield(+1) blocks down on Spence from some distance and gets him. Spence tries to spin past the block and loses ground, he's done. Williams(+1) locks out the playside end well, possibly aided by the Rawls option motion. Barnum(+0.5) is coming around to get a middle linebacker; Robinson(-1) reads the hole poorly and almost gets tackled for nothing by picking the wrong side of Barnum after the LB shows up to the inside unexpectedly. He does manage to sidestep the tackle and get a few, but that put the play in danger and cost him yards. RPS +1, as the option motion really helped.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun Jet||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||Corner||Gardner||Inc|
|Fakes to both Norfleet and Toussaint into play action. Protected well. Denard tries to throw over a dropping corner and that corner deflects it. Kind of close to an INT; should have checked down to the Norfleet wheel route. (BR,0, protection 2/2)|
|M39||2||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||12|
|DE sitting on Denard(+1) so a good non-default handoff. Corner now open as Dileo(+0.5) cracks down on a linebacker, so it's Toussaint vs secondary now. Hard fill from safety; Toussaint(+1) hops inside, then out to set up a nice block from Jackson(+1) and pick up an extra five.|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||QB iso||Robinson||49|
|Toussaint takes the jet fake, Rawls leads. Omameh(+2) gets control and push one on one with Akeem Spence. Rawls(+1) bombs the MLB. Schofield(+1) locks out the DE. Denard can get five or six easy if he just slams it up; he decides to pop outside as Spence has given ground to shed the Omameh block. Denard dodges Spence's tackle attempt as he comes behind. Filling safety now plus the MLB coming off the Rawls block; Denard cuts back to the middle of the field. This is open because Lewan(+1) continued his block on the other end as he tries to pursue and a lazy NT accepts a block from Mealer(+0.5), hole, edge, Toussaint sees it and has the speed to get the only other guy with the angle and seeeeyaaaaaa. Denard +3. Jackson(+1) got a good block on a safety that prevented him from coming down as well.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-0, 12 min 3rd Q. I like Denard.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||1|
|Denard motion holds a box defender outside, leaving six on six plus Toussaint. Schofield(+1) gets a big kick on the playside DE. Omameh(+1) gets a seal on the playside DT, big hole. Lewan(+1) fills it, sealing the one remaining LB inside as Mealer(+1) releases into a MLB. Everyone blocked, big hole, major yards... Toussaint(-3) cuts away from the design of the play for crap yardage for no reason.|
|O26||2||9||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Screen||Toussaint||15|
|This actually works. Denard finds a lane through the bodies so he doesn't have to loft it, which has been a problem in the past. He can just fling it directly to Toussaint, which he does. No DL peel, so those four guys are gone. Kwiatkowski(+1) is in the slot, he seeks out the playside LB and hits him inside, allowing Mealer and Omameh to release outside. Secondary time. Dileo(+1) gets a block on a filling safety; Omameh(+1) gets a leveraging corner; Toussaint(+1) sets those blocks up and splits them. He cuts past a safety, gets a block from Barnum(+1) and is about to jet for the endzone when the backside DE manages to tackle him. RPS +1.|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||3|
|DE does not contain so give. Roundtree(-1) does not adjust to the goal line situation and allows a safety to shoot up past him when he's supposed to crack down on him. That strings Toussaint out. He lowers the shoulder on a tackle and sheds it a la Rawls, but with a containing corner he cant' pick up much more than he would have without the broken tackle.|
|O8||2||7||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle PA corner||Funchess||8|
|The coverage is there, thrown anyway, thrown over the coverage, reach, spear, touchdown, whoah. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-0, 10 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone stretch||Toussaint||-4|
|Mealer(-2) is blasted yards into the backfield by a Spence shove. He ends up at the same depth Toussaint is. Lewan(-1) is chucked past the playside end as well, so outside is not a solution. Those two DL surround Toussaint in the backfield, end run.|
|M36||2||14||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||4|
|Weird scheme sees all DL blocked; usually you'd let the end go and let him contain Robinson. Spence gets blown up by Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+0.5), so big hole that also engulfs MLB since the other DT slanted out of the play; Barnum(+0.5) escorted him. Now unblocked WLB in space against Toussaint(-1). He runs right straight ahead until tackled. Meh.|
|M40||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Deep hitch||Gardner||17|
|All day, as it's only a two man rush with two spies. Robinson sets up and zings a ball directly to Gardner in between two guys; NFL window. Caught, first down. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Moore(-2) smoked by Buchanan, who is instantly in the backfield and can tackle despite having to go outside of everything and attack outside in. Other stuff goes wrong but hard to tell what since the TV doesn't get much of this play.|
|O41||2||8||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Sprint counter||Hayes||3|
|Lewan(-2) busts and pulls directly into a pulling Schofield. Hayes has his choice of unblocked LBs to run into. Barnum(+1) got a good one on one block to at least create some yards. LBs were confused by the Lewan pull and so did not attack, either.|
|O38||3||5||Shotgun trips stack tight||1||1||3||3-2-6 dime||Pass||Drag||Roundtree||Inc|
|Motion from Jackson is paired with a guy moving with him, which usually indicates man. This is zone. Robinson misreads the coverage on a curl flat and almost gets Roundtree killed; Gardner was open on the deeper hitch. (BR, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-0, 6 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O6||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Toussaint||4|
|Spence goes loose cannon and tries to shoot inside of Barnum on the snap, directly upfield. He ends up just falling. Barnum(+1) got enough. Kerridge(+1) slams a LB trying to fill; Toussaint cuts behind that block into the wide open space left by Spence. Unblocked guys at that point.|
|O2||2||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||2|
|Kwiatkowski(-1) loses the playside end. He continues harassing but this is pretty bad. Omameh(+1) kicks the edge guy on his pull, which just gives Toussaint(+1) a lane to move outside the end and hit. Kerridge(+1) plowed a DB, so the stumble Toussaint is in after breaking the end's tackle is not relevant.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-0, 3 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M33||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Toussaint||5|
|Lewan out, Burzynski in. Mealer(+1) and Burzynski(+1) combo one DT way out of the hole; Mealer goes to the second level. Barnum(+0.5) gets the other DT; he was headed upfield anyway. Kerridge(+1) pops the other LB, nice hole, aggressive safety fill.|
|M38||2||5||Ace twins||1||2||2||4-3 under||Run||Sweep||Toussaint||4|
|Moore(+0.5) eliminates the playside DE. Reynolds gets a block on the playside LB; Mealer and Burzynski are pulling and both guys end up going for the MLB. Aggressive safety fill; Toussaint(+0.5) spins through a tackle to near the first down.|
|M42||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-4 even||Run||Iso||Rawls||4|
|They get it. Mealer(+0.5) with good push. Kerridge(+0.5) finds a linebacker and Rawls hits a crease hard.|
|M46||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Rawls||5|
|Run at a gap outside a bit. Burzynski(+1) escorts a DT upfield out of the hole; Kerridge(+1) thumps a linebacker inside, big gap. Overhanging corner comes down to tackle Rawls; Rawls(+0.5) gets some YAC as he cuts behind a second level block from Mealer(+0.5)|
|O49||2||5||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB draw||Bellomy||9|
|Opens up large. Schofield(+0.5) escorts a gentleman upfield. Barnum(+0.5) fights off a backup DT for a crease. Bellomy hits it, gets the first, slides. RPS +1.|
|O42||1||10||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Yakety snap||N/A||0|
|Fumbled snap turns it over.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 38-0, 12 min 4th Q|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Hayes||3|
|Correct handoff but safety is filling really hard so Hayes is on the edge with him; can't beat him. Would RPS -1 this if it wasn't 38-0.|
|O42||2||7||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||Fly||JRobinson||Inc (Pen +5)|
|Bellomy gets Illinois to jump and goes deep with the free play. Bellomy throws a nice back shoulder fade to JRobinson, which he just drops. It was in his hands, DB watching. Tough catch in the rain and falling backwards but not impossible. (DO, 2, protection 1/1)|
|O37||3||2||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Rawls||1 – 15 Pen|
|We come back to this late and I can't be bothered to piece together the circumstantial evidence at this point. Reynolds gets an unnecessary roughness call.|
|M49||3||16||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Hitch||JRobinson||8|
|Deeper stuff not open; Bellomy checks down to a hitch well short of the sticks. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 9 min 4th Q. First team OL all gone after this drive, so no more charts. Here is the Rawls run though.|
That was methodical dissection of some not very good defense up in there.
So… things to take away: are there any?
Illinois's interior DL is veteran and Spence is going to get drafted in the mid-rounds at worst, plus Buchanan's pretty good and they've got some linebacker talent, so… yeah, I think being able to run the way Michigan did on them despite the rain allowing opponents to tee off on ground games is another meaningful indication that Michigan's rush offense is very good.
6.9 YPC is a ton, and far better than Wisconsin/PSU/Arizona State managed. Slash out the two long runs in the fourth quarter (Rawls's 63 yard TD and the 24-yard fumble-recover-run by Hayes) and Michigan is still at 5.4. That latter number probably would have been higher if the game had remained competitive and Denard acquired 20 carries; he could have cracked 200 again if necessary.
I'm especially impressed with Omameh; after coming out and getting movement on guys in the second half of ND he had another good game last week and blew it out this week. Let's start with the—
|Lewan||5.5||4||1.5||Would have been fine but pulled on a spring counter going his way.|
|Mealer||9||6||3||Got blown up pretty good a couple times, otherwise okay.|
|Omameh||15||4||11||!!! Owned Spence repeatedly.|
|Schofield||9.5||-||9.5||Pulls and operation in space and DE kicks; best day at M.|
|Kwiatkowski||1.5||1||0.5||Didn't get a whole lot of relevant opportunities.|
|Moore||0.5||2||-1.5||Got a play blown up.|
|Williams||1||2||-1||Still like Kwiatkowski better.|
|Funchess||1||-||1||Occasionally blocks guys.|
|TOTAL||55.5||21||73%||Burzynski +3 with no minuses; excellent performance overall.|
|Bellomy||-||-||-||DNC on runs.|
|Rawls||6||2.5||3.5||Awarded +3 for big run at the end.|
|Hayes||0.5||-||0.5||A couple late runs not charted, but also gets away with a fumble as a result.|
|Kerridge||7||0.5||6.5||Really nailing guys. Wonder if Hopkins could have been back already but Kerridge is keeping him off the field.|
|TOTAL||30.5||11||19.5||Kerridge goes boom.|
|Gallon||2||1||1||More touches more touches more touches x2|
|TOTAL||7.5||2||5.5||Better day after some eh blocking.|
|RPS||13||4||+9||Tim Beckmann is a clueless dude, and Michigan got a screen to work! To a RB!|
I'm going to need some overly defensive analysis of the right side of the offensive line.
Okay, coming right up. On Schofield: he used his agility well in this game and didn't get overpowered by anyone. The Denard run that temporarily knocked him out is a good example, as he flashes to the second level extremely quickly and rubs out a linebacker:
That was his day: not needing overwhelming power, using his ability to move.
Omameh… well, I never thought I'd see the day he clubbed a legit defensive tackle for most of a game. I have seen the day. On both of Denard's long runs it was Omameh obliterating Spence that was the difference between six yards and Denard loose in a secondary, shoes flying everywhere. These are one on one blocks, too. The first:
Exact same play, simple QB isos. Cutback is there because Omameh doesn't just win the battle, he shoves Spence yards off the LOS. Spence did some stuff to other guys so I don't think he's a scrub, and Omameh got push on Nix some in that ND game. If he can move MSU's DTs I'll be extremely happy.
Could I get some overly defensive comparisons between the TEs too?
So this is the kind of thing I'm not seeing happen much to Kwiatkowski. Watch the TE at the top of the screen, which is Williams in this case:
That should be an easy block since the DE's first step is upfield. You step around him and seal him and ballgame; here Williams is chucked and the DE can flow from the inside to tackle Denard just as he's about to do something fun.
Williams made a similar error later on a play that also got blown up by an LB blitz that erased a pulling guard. That rarely seems to happen against Kwiatkowski.
But what about Toussaint?
Again the short yardage is somewhat distorting. Toussaint had two carries from the one, a carry from the two, and a carry from the six. The latter two got two and four yards, respectively. There was also a second and one play on which Mealer got blown up. Remove those five carries for six yards that are extremely low upside and you get 13 for 56 yards, a decent 4.3 a pop. It's not quite as bad as the number disparity suggests.
HOWEVA, he does seem just… off. He would have ripped off a big gain on one of the sprint counters except he completely failed to read Lewan's block and cut away from a gaping hole into traffic:
WHERE DO YOU GO ON THIS PLAY?
To boot, he's not providing much in the way of extra yards from his shake 'n' bake as he was last year. OL issues are part of it, as are some odd play calls—iso?—and Michigan's reliance on him at the goal line. At this point it's open season on carries, though. Rawls has made post-contact yards in consecutive games in limited opportunities.
I'd expect Michigan makes Rawls the full time short yardage and goal line guy for MSU and the rest of the season and leave Toussaint to his spread stuff he's pretty good at. Rawls isn't perfect either, as noted in the game column when I put up that still showing a mile-wide north-south cutback lane Rawls inexplicably ignored in favor of bouncing it outside.
And Kerridge is racking up big numbers.
I may be giving him too much credit for standing up linebackers but to my eyes he really appears to be whacking them and providing the impetus for an improved under center run game. Those isos and such are effective. Hopkins was supposed to be back by now; at the very least they're taking their time with him because Kerridge is not much of a downgrade. If he is at all.
He's just a redshirt freshman, too. Grumble about scholarship fullbacks inserted.
Why does the throwback screen always work?
I don't know man, but I'll picture page that touchdown so everyone can get a handle on what it's trying to do. I will say that busted very large because Michigan's tackles can move in space really, really well. Schofield came from a backside second level block to nail a guy 20 yards downfield:
That kind of agility in a 6'8" guy also makes the sprint counter go, too, so there are compensations for not having a road grader at RT. (Lewan kind of is a road grader, which makes him the NFL prospect he is.)
Denard has now gone two games without an INT.
[Hennechart legend is updated. Hover over column headers for quick explanations]
|2011 through MSU||13||66(12)||11(1)||34(1)||17||2||3||10||4||55%|
|2011 after MSU||9||77(9)||7||17||9||6(1)||5(2)||9||5||69%|
Denard's incompletions other than the two bad reads—which were garden variety bad reads, not OH GOD LINEBACKER BRXes—were the crossing route to Gallon in the back of the endzone that was broken up by a very good play by the Illinois defender and a covered hot route on third and long that was broken up; Denard was getting pressure and had a chance to run he didn't take.
Also on the downside: on Michigan's two minute drill at the end of the half he fumbled a perfectly good snap.
I'll take it given the rain and the fairly harmless nature of the screwed up reads—PBUs, not INTs. There is of course the stuff on the ground, which makes me think I like Denard.
Yeah. I like Denard.
Oh no, the collapse of the offense when Bellomy is in?
Ugh, correlation is not causation. He had a DO and 3 CAs in four attempts only to see his receivers spike three of those balls to the ground. It's far too early to say anything about him as a potential starter next year.
Statements like "if Denard goes down we are in trouble" are O RLY level analysis. The freshman quarterback is a lot less good than the senior busy breaking every record he possibly can? Somebody call the CDC.
One catch for everyone chart.
[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]
Nothing to see here, really.
Yeah, pretty cool to have this guy around.
Why it took so long to offer him I have no idea.
Schofield and Omameh. Denard. Also Barnum.
No one was atrocious or anything but Fitz is in a funk.
What does it mean for MSU and beyond?
For the first time in a while I feel pretty confident that Michigan will be able to get movement on the interior DL of MSU. Worthy is gone and they have just switched starters at one spot; Hoover seems out as well, if he'd even be useful as a Pat Massey-sized DT. Anthony Rashad White seems pretty good but Omameh has done well the last three weeks with guys better than him. That should make the run game go even with Bullough breathing down Michigan's neck.
The passing offense remains a question but we keep getting little bits of data that suggest the Notre Dame thing was a horrific one off performance and that if Michigan can keep Denard clean they can get production out of him.
Michigan's not going to run MSU out of the stadium. If they persist with the run game, deploy some new tricks, and just remain patient they should be able to get enough yards and points to win.
10/13/2012 – Michigan 45, Illinois 0 – 4-2, 2-0 Big Ten
Six games into year two of the Hoke and Mattison defensive regime, Michigan stands 10th in total defense. Last year they finished 17th. The year before that they languished in the triple-digits, unsure of who they were, what they were doing, and how life was supposed to have any meaning. Now, they know.
The flow thing is no coincidence.
RYAN THE BARBARIAN
Yeah, you can use the advanced numbers to push the exact measure of Michigan's improvement to and fro—Michigan is 16th in S&P+ with FEI pending—but who cares? The exact magnitude of the improvement is difficult to measure in the same way an exploding volcano is. It is organized and has long hair and will hit you very hard. Volcanoes. Dig it.
Michigan has not quite swept across the steppes, burning all in its path yet. They're still waiting for a real test after they got run over in the opener and had to survive an option attack they were ill-prepared for. Since those two games they've played UMass, a Notre Dame team that seems to score 13-20 against any opponent more competent than Miami, Purdue, and Illinois. Competent quarterbacks have exited. Chaos reigns even before Michigan gets involved.
But but but, by whatever measures you care to look at Michigan is providing novel horrible experiences to the hapless in their path:
- Illinois was held to under 150 yards of offense. In blowout losses against Arizona State and Penn State, the former without Scheelhaase, they racked up over 300 and scored. They neared 300 against Wisconsin last week.
- Purdue's worst yardage output of the season was versus Michigan; they've played ND and Wisconsin.
- Michigan held Notre Dame to under 250 yards, also their worst output of the season.
When life gives you lemonade stands, all you can do is pillage five-year-olds. Nickels in hand, Michigan faces a recent nemesis this weekend. They've got a real nice stand set up. Would be a shame if something happened to it.
It's mostly lemonade stands from here on out. Only two of Michigan's remaining six opponents squeeze into the top half of the total yardage rankings—Ohio State (34th) and Nebraska (12th). Hypothetical Big Ten Championship Game foe Wisconsin is cooling its heels at 87th. Thanks to the BIG TENNNNNN nature of the Big Ten, Michigan's defense can get along despite being rickety in parts.
Six weeks in it's getting hard to figure out what those rickety parts are. Kenny Demens has just spent three weeks attacking third and one with abandon and dropping into all the deep seams. He's been able to do that because the defensive tackles are keeping him clean. Raymon Taylor is being avoided by opponents who would rather go at JT Floyd. Craig Roh's move to strongside end has been successful beyond all reason.
The big hole on the defense is…
…weakside end? Maybe Floyd himself? It's unknown, really.
We do know now what we hoped—maybe suspected—at the beginning of the year: the GERG to Greg turnaround was 10% fumble fluke, 90% sustainable development. I watch Michigan play defense and think about watching Greg Mattison get distracted by an endzone shot of his four DL making the exact same step on a particular cutup at a coaching clinic. The line moves with perfect choreography and Mattison's supposed to be talking about higher-level stuff but is simply incapable of looking at that beautiful synchronicity and not stopping to talk about it:
Mattison did not select the cutups himself—that was delegated to a video coordinator—and didn't know exactly what would come up. This made for an interesting dynamic as he evaluated each play live. He repeatedly digressed from his main topic to note the footwork of his linemen: Van Bergen is getting distance with his first step. All of these guys have identical footwork.
The tape winds back and forth; Mattison beams like a proud father. He fumes at imaginary people who would not direct their weakside end to put his outside foot back when he gets a tight end to him. He passes the geek test.
The same folks who made Will Heininger a key piece of a top 20 defense have reconstituted Michigan's defensive line from a converted OL, a five star at the bottom of the sea, and a 250-pound weakside end. When not battered by a once-in-a-generation outfit in Tuscaloosa, they've stoned everyone they've come up against*. That line is not where Michigan's going, but it's good enough to be amongst the best in the conference.
That is the brick on which Hoke's program is built. They will take whatever they've got and turn it into a well-oiled machine. Some years they will be undersized and coping well. Some years they will be rampant. The next ten years will feature an endless procession of mashing defenses. There will be one blip to the downside and two units that put Michigan in national championship contention.
Year in, year out, lemonade stands across the Midwest will burn. Toddlers in Elmo t-shirts will weep. Winged helmets will look on impassively, knowing what is best in life.
*[Air Force's success was not on the DL, at least not much.]
Highlights from parkinggod:
The Ford presentation:
Upchurch photos went up this morning.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point of the week. Jake Ryan, come on down. Obviously. He's got a bullet down the page, but: 11 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and a number of plays made that didn't even show up on that statline.
Honorable mention: Denard Robinson (7/11, > 10 YPC, no turnovers), Patrick Omameh (seems to be destroying Akeem Spence on a few of Denard's long runs), Kenny Demens (INT, two third and short thumps), Greg Mattison (knows what is best in life).
Epic Double Point standings.
3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama)
I know, man.
My God, It's Made Of Funchess note of the week. From my vantage point in the stadium, I thought the play-action rollout that eventually turned into the Funchess touchdown had been defeated by coverage. I thought that Denard saw this too and was chunking the ball out of the endzone, which I was pleased with—WOO NO INTERCEPTION—as I saw the ball soar into the stands… at least the dance team… well past Devin Funchess's outstretched… oh.
Ace made this. ESC to stop it, unless you're on Chrome.
Wow. Is that legal? Should I clap now? Is touchdown? Is touchdown. Clap. Smile. Turn to wife and console her that the Illinois people are probably used to this anyway and she shouldn't feel bad for them because… um. Return to clapping, wait for day when Michigan throws more than 15 passes and Jim Mandich Watch returns.
norfleetwatch. hai guys here's this punt i should probably fair catch this syyyykkkkkkeeeee hey i'm going this way syyyyyyykkke I PUT OUT MY HAND AND YOU STOP BECAUSE I HAVE POWERS goodbye tackler goodbye tackler goodbye tackler hello sideline i am sorry i will never touch you sideline i just don't feel like that about you ZOOOOOOOOOOOOM wait wat is punter
wat is punter wat is
Kicking from the one. Michigan pooted in the shortest possible field goal late in the first quarter, which normally would have driven me bonkers. IMO that was a close enough call that I wasn't super peeved. The situation:
- Denard is out so you've got a freshman at QB.
- Barnum is out so you've got your 6'1" walkon at LG.
- You've just been stuffed twice consecutively since Illinois knows you're not throwing, not least because…
- It's a rainstorm that could easily degenerate into an MSU-Iowa-ish slopfest in which points are at a premium.
If an 18-yard field goal in the first quarter is ever going to be the right move, it's there. It was really hard to disentangle any emotions about the kick from the momentary dread experienced as I watched Michigan's season circle down the drain in an injury deluge, but before it was a laugher it seemed like the kind of game where the first team to 17 wins and the field goal is defensible.
This is an extension of my being fine with a similar chip shot field goal in last year's Illinois game; that one came later and extended Michigan's lead from 14 to a probably-insurmountable 17. Early in this game any points seemed like a good idea in case the skies truly opened up.
Not that it mattered, but this wouldn't be MGoBlog without minute dissection of every possible game theory decision.
Even if you didn't like the kick you should note with approval that Michigan tried to take their two-minute opportunity at the end of the half only to be foiled by a bad snap after they'd moved the ball 19 yards.
Never again. Hey, guys, we're past Annual Denard Versus Illinois Injury Scare, and this one was the best of all because Denard came back and Illinois scored no points anyway. High five.
Michigan has now survived half the season with only one major injury, that to Blake Countess. While Wormley and Brink being out strips Michigan of some of its DL depth, neither guy was playing much or projected to play much—hard to imagine Wormley being a major step up from Michigan's current three-tech/SDE production.
That's getting off relatively light. Anyone glancing at Iowa City or East Lansing will get quick confirmation of that. Brady Hoke poops magic, still going strong.
Everything is not a bubble screen. I got a half-dozen tweets after the Gallon touchdown about bubble screens, and I knew that there had been a disturbance in the force due to announcer incompetence. Watching the highlights, I found out: the PBP guy thinks any throw to a wide receiver behind the line of scrimmage is a bubble screen.
That's not true, obviously, and the Gallon touchdown was the Always Works Every Time Except That One Time Against Iowa throwback screen. That play has little to do with the various critiques leveled around here about the lack of edge pressure applied by the Borges spread. It works by getting the playside tackle out on the edge without blocking that DE, and that gets you a chunk of yards. Michigan's broke huge as Michigan picked up +++ downfield blocks from Schofield and Kwiatkowski:
Schofield got a piece of the safety 20 yards downfield. That's a throwback to his days as a guard and a reason Rodriguez was so hyped on acquiring him. Michigan's OL can still get downfield like a boss.
Anyway, the throwback screen has been a strange disconnected bit of the offense that Borges pulls out once a game that picks up between 15 and 70 yards without fail except that one time against Iowa. It's always run from under center; it's obviously a pretty awesome play but it isn't yet anything more than a dime store novelty because the core of the offense remains spread.
Lewan injury scares. Taylor Lewan wasn't the first choice in warmups and again exited before the rest of the offensive line; a couple of people have mentioned to me that he seemed to have a limp as he went back to the locker room at half-time. This is fine, because Lewan is in fact powered by injury. Tom Gholston will rip his leg off, laugh evilly, and turn around only to be faced with a being of unimaginable power created by his very own hands.
PROTIP: let's not try to throw screens over that guy.
Fitz vs Rawls vs Hayes vs Norfleet fight. The Toussaint Job Threat watch is still on after his YPC was the worst of anyone who got more than one carry—and the guy who got that one carry also almost took a punt return 90-some yards.
Rawls has earned some more playing time—if he's not taking over short yardage duties posthaste I'll be surprised—and will be given an opportunity to take some chunk of the carries, but Fitz is going to remain the starter, I'd imagine. Michigan did hand it off to Rawls on an inverted veer, FWIW.
Rotation. Michigan had more of it in this game, especially one Pipkins:
That started early on Illinois's somewhat annoying early successes straight up the gut. I'll have to see what was going on there in the UFR; live it seemed like a thing that Michigan was not quite expecting but quickly got fixed. Think early Rodriguez offenses in the first half versus the second.
Moore return, maybe not so much. Brandon Moore was back and still apparently behind Kwiatkowski and Funchess, possibly also Williams. I saw him whiff a block badly on one of his limited snaps. I don't think he's getting much playing time back.
Everybody Hates Russell. It was bad enough that Michigan receivers reacted to Russell Bellomy's passes like they were radioactive, but does the media have to pile on? Daily:
Bellomy struggles in spotlight
Apparently the offense couldn’t move a single yard without Robinson under center, and the Wolverines settled for a field goal…
Fans’ expectations for the quarterback position could be a bit exaggerated because they’ve been spoiled by the exhilarating play of Robinson, but Bellomy didn’t do a great job of living up to any expectations in his brief role on Saturday.
On the following drive, he tossed a pair of incomplete passes — granted, the second was dropped by fifth-year wide receiver Roy Roundtree — before Michigan punted on a three-and-out.
Russell Bellomy wasn't exactly sparkling in mop up duty for Robinson. He took over with the ball inside the five in the second quarter, and couldn't get Michigan into the end zone. He also lost a fumbled snap in the second half.
Michigan's backup quarterback situation is shaky. Russell Bellomy struggled somewhat. He let a snap squirt right through his hands, and he completed just 1/3 passes. I'm not a huge fan of what I've seen out of Devin Gardner as a quarterback, and I do think Bellomy has potential down the road . . . but boy, does he look shaky right now. He wasn't helped out by his receivers, though, who had their hands on both incompletions; but Bellomy looks afraid to push the ball down the field, and he's not very crisp running the plays.
Come on guys, he handed off a couple times and threw a few passes that were dropped. Given the conditions, the fumbled snap is not a huge surprise—I file Bellomy's performance under incomplete.
Hoke likes him. Yeah.
Another lost shoe. An epidemic. This never happened before. What's the deal?
Roh pretty damn good. Two of Michigan's WDE's switched positions in the offseason, and that was pretty worrying. At least one of those seems to be working out pretty well: SDE Craig Roh. Check out Michigan's first third and short stop. Watch 88, the DE to the top of the screen:
Shift a step before snap to line up right over the TE, get under the TE, move upfield and pop the pulling guard. That's why Demens is free to tackle. That's a full point in UFR that doesn't show up at all in the box score, and Roh has been doing that consistently for the first six games. There's a stretch at 2:14 that's similar: Ryan gets a TFL because Roh beats his guy playside.
Also on that first play Jake Ryan pops his guy back and disengages to make that Demens tackle a matter of stopping an already-falling guy's momentum. Funny how Demens is a lot better now that he's not eating guys on a free release. Speaking of…
JAKE F RYAN. Ryan needs no explanation, and in this game he put up the kind of stat line that makes even distant observers sit up and take notice: 11 tackles, 7 solo, 3.5 TFLs, a sack and a half. He also got some of those Roh plays—the stuffed fourth and inches was Ryan getting the two-for-one with a slant under the tackle and letting Demens roar up into the hole untouched.
Repeat of all things previous about all Big Ten, verge of—the next two weeks will either solidify that or delay it.
A screen worked, to a running back and everything. That's an everything's coming up Milhouse moment.
Scheelhaase out. At least one team in the Big Ten is willing to remove a guy with a concussion. Terry Hawthorne didn't play, either. Objection from UV withdrawn.
OL doing stuff. Big Robinson runs resulted from:
- Omameh blowing up Spence one on one.
- Lewan blowing up a DE on the easy Denard draw TD.
- Omameh blowing up Spence again on the 49-yarder
Student section fight. Michigan State:
Difference is that Michigan was up by a billion in a noncompetitive game, and they look to have about twice the people. Win for Michigan.
Yakety sax pending. THE KIDS ARE PLAYING THEIR TAILS OFF AND THE COACHES ARE SCREWING IT UP
FURMAN DESTROY. My only disappointment with the above highlight reel is that it leaves out a fifteen-yard penalty on Michigan, when Josh Furman went Fresno State on an Illinois punt returner. A personal reaction:
OHHHH HE'S GONNA LIGHT THAT GUY UP
/ball hits ground
That punt had ridiculous hangtime, is what I'm saying.
Damn you, Special K. Damn you. You know, you get through two full games without hearing the Dog Groomers play "In The Big House" and you think you're out of the woods and then they bring it back. False hope is worse than death.
I am so with you HSR:
Really, I could have like six anti-Special K bullets here, but will it really do any good?
The weirdest thing was the soulful acoustic guitar thing they played for like an entire commercial break. YEAH I'M FIRED UP HIT ME WITH THE JOSE GONZALEZ I CAME HERE FOR WARRRRRRRR.
Now you can't do it. Ace mentioned the on-field proposal after everyone had cleared out Saturday, and now the gentleman who totally one-upped you passed along the event itself:
Jonathan San declares "I've never made that many girls scream before," and he's got you topped. Unless you're Steve Breaston—in which case respext, you are good at football.
Dang big gap. The MSU line opened at M –11.5 and currently stands at M –10.5.
After watching the Spartan fan-fail, I was curious to see how UofM's students would approach the game. Even though the weather was basically the same - rain - the stands looked full to me. There were a few who left the game in the 2nd half, but I'm sure if we would have gone to double OT, the stands would have been full. So even though State may have won the last four games in the series, they have a long way to go to match the University of Michigan on the field, in the classroom, and in the stands.
Also, ST3 goes to badminton practice. MICHIGAN MENZ.
Turd Ferguson kicks off a rivalry week with a dossier of Michigan State's recent achievements, as well:
Michigan State athletics programs have become pioneers in 21st-century teambuilding. Concerned about the rapid decline of face-to-face contact, MSU athletes have repeated come together, in large groups, to contact the faces of their fellow athletesand classmates.
Spartans are known to generously extend a hand to those in need. They’ve developed a prison-to-work program seen by many as a model for how to reduce to an absolute minimum the time between prison and work. Their athletic director moonlights as avolunteer career counselor and their football coach as a public speaking coach, offering their time even to supposed athletic rivals. When one of their neighbors could use help just stretching his neck, scratching his eye, massaging his arm, or bludgeoning his face, a Spartan is always there to assist.
As I mentioned a moment ago, I was lucky enough to play football, first on Ferry Field and then in the stadium. And I was lucky enough to start a few games in the football season of 1934–and that was quite a year. The Wolverines on that memorable occasion played Ohio State, and we lost 34 to 0. And to make it even worse, that was the year we lost seven out of eight of our scheduled games. But you know, what really hurt me the most was when my teammates voted me their most valuable player. I didn’t know whether to smile or sue. [Laughter]
It’s seems like a simple expectation but you forget, especially in the aftermath of the Alabama and Notre Dame games, that these coaches have a track record of making players better. You are seeing it. The defense confident and fun to watch and they’ve retooled the gameplan with Denard and it’s clearly working. I’ll take this stat line 24/7: 7-11, 2 TD, 0 INT.
If yesterday was a heavyweight title fight it was over in the first round. The only drama came when the champion hurt his hand because he was hitting the challenger's face too much. TKO Round 1 - UMass played harder in the Big House.
One thing we do know is the defense put in an amazing performance against Illinois. They were held to 3.3 yards per carry (with a standard deviation of 5.1 yards). These two stats indicate that not only did the D hold the Illini in check, but that they kept them from pulling off many big runs; in fact, Illinois only had one run of over ten yards all day, the Nathan Scheelhaase dash that knocked him out of the game. If you calculate the standard error about the mean, it's 0.14 yards, suggested that if U-M and Illinois face of again and again, Michigan would hold them to under 3.5 YPC again and again and again. That's consistency. That's dominance.
Al Borges continues to pare down his play calling to suit this team, and it has worked the past two weeks as Michigan has run for just under 330 yards per game and thrown the ball only 27 times total. The
When Odysseus* returned home, he was met with a cohort of unruly suitors. Like those suitors, Illinois simply did not have the strength to string the bow and fire.
RAMROTH FINNEGAN declares Michigan by far his best visit. I know the kid is destined to end up at Cincinnati, where all the best names go, but let's savor this moment when it is just fate, not fact.
In our last nine Big Ten games, we’ve scored 7, 14, 7, 14, 17, 7, 7, 14, and 0 points. 9.7 points per game. Has to be the worst such stretch since the 1970′s, right? We had huge offensive failings in 2005 and 2003 and 1997 and even 1993. But we’ve never had a stretch like this, have we? I mean, since the days of 0-0 ties with Northwestern and such in the 70′s. Can anyone remember anything this bad?
Less than two years ago, we scored 63 points at Michigan. With Nathan Scheelhaase at quarterback. How could we fall that far in 24 months? Yes, Michigan’s defense has improved tenfold over RichRod’s 2010 defense. But from 63 points to zero? How is that even possible?
Mainstream folk. Grades are somewhat good from Meinke. Daily game story. Smith sat out with a hamstring issue, "boo-boo" resurfaces as nonspecific Denard injury term. Helfand on Michigan's defense. Estes on Kenny Demens. Meinke on MSU week. Baumgardner on lack of turnovers.
Notre Dame has a very good defensive line, possibly great. If they still had Aaron Lynch holy pants man. They don't, but Tuitt is a 300 pound pass rusher, Nix is hard to move, and their Kapron Lewis-Moore/Prince Shembo combo at the other DE is a quality option. They've been making a lot of plays so far, and some of them against Lewan, who has a bunch of NFL hype and has shut down virtually every DE he's ever gone up against, including guys like Adrian Clayborn.
So Michigan was up against it against the Irish. They compounded those troubles with a spate of seemingly bizarre play calls that made it even harder for Michigan to execute since they often left key players unblocked, with the results you saw.
Here's a two yard run in the second quarter. It's first and ten on the first play of Michigan's first drive after the Smith interception. ND comes out showing a four-man front with one-high coverage, but will shift into their standard 3-4. Zeke Motta, currently 16 yards off the LOS, will approach the LOS for an eighth run defender against eight players in the box.
Post-shift, this is about standard for ND. Note that the secondary is showing extremely soft man coverage on the receivers, which is par for the course when you are in cover zero with three converted offensive players. Or at least, I'd imagine it's par for the course if anyone else ever did this.
Now, you may be thinking "AAAAAH DAMN AAAH BUBBLE." I am too. The defense is allowed to align like this because Michigan won't take a shot at that gooey soft edge. Constraint plays constrain what a defense can do, simplifying life for QBs. Here we've got a play, and it's a run despite the D showing a cover zero look.
On the snap it's revealed to be an inside zone play…
…but Lewan does something unusual by flaring out to go block Shembo as Denard reads Lewis-Moore. Meanwhile, look at Toussaint's upfield angle of attack:
This was supposed to be a midline type read. When ND showed a four-man front, Nix was shaded outside of Mealer. He would hit the frontside A-gap, allowing Barnum to release into the second level. Instead he's head up on the center and fights back, forcing Barnum to try and deal with him.
What Michigan thought it was doing
Meanwhile, Lewan's flare out on Shembo was supposed to be useful. Instead he's blocking a contain guy on a run up the middle. Lewis-Moore is not tearing up in a gap like a one-gap DL would but coming upfield under control.
So instead of a quick hit that got Michigan past the DT they get this:
Which is two yards thanks to an unblocked LB in the middle of where your belly is supposed to go.
This Looks Familiar
Denard's second interception is a terrible throw helped along by a totally unblocked Te'o as Barnum tries to help on Nix.
Terrible throw and all that but also not a shining example of coordinator mastery. This is a position to fail in, when you can't step into your throw because you'll get hit if you do so.
Things and Stuff
RB angle gives you the intended hole. Look at how vertical Toussaint is going. This is designed to go backside.
Checks: none. Once ND shifts to the three-man front, this play is in trouble, and once Motta slides down you're up against zero safeties. This would be a nice time to check. To what? Well, you are maybe probably getting some yards if Lewan changes his assignment and releases directly into that LB, or, you know…
…that OLB has eyes only for the backfield, so you've got one guy within twelve yards of the slot receiver. Who isn't a slot receiver, sure.
Since this was the first play of the drive I assume there was time to do this after the shift; nothing comes. This might be on Denard, or there just might not be a check for this. Rodriguez took that check burden onto himself with those plays where Michigan would call for a snap and then everyone would look to the sideline.
Constraints: none. A little later Michigan will block a QB sweep well but Motta will show in the hole as an unblocked eighth guy. Denard will abort and get three. ND again went cover zero with pudding soft outside coverage:
They're sitting out there waiting to give you their money! It's not the stupid little bubble itself that helps—though the yards from 2-8 averaging about 6 aren't bad—but the things that the defense can't do because they can't align with their secondary in Bolivia and bring down a run defender that erases your numerical advantage.
This alignment cannot be allowed to exist without a quick easy throw that invalidates it. Have we mentioned that both corners are converted offensive players? And one is a freshman?
Oy OL. Note that Nix not only drew a double but ripped through it to the backside hole, and that Tuitt has gotten inside of Schofield with ease. It may have been possible to get some yards here by getting Nix sealed and hitting a gap further to the playside, but none of that happens. I haven't gotten to the bit where Michigan just grinds on them yet, but so far there have been a lot of plays like this where Michigan OL get nowhere with their guys.
Why are we running a play that seems designed to go at a 4-3? ND will go to it but they are a 3-4 at heart and when they show a four man line it's usually short yardage or a passing down. I would expect an incoherent play like this to fire off when ND is giving Michigan a 4-3 curveball instead of the 3-4, especially after Michigan spent two weeks preparing exclusively for this defense. That Lewan flare-out is deadly to this play because Barnum has to help on a NT who is not shaded—and is rarely shaded. Meanwhile that guy on the edge is not a threat to Toussaint. RPS –1.