A couple of notes: Michigan spent the entire game in its base formation and never once substituted at linebacker or in the secondary except when forced to by Mike Williams's injury. They rotated along the defensive line, with eight players (starters plus Heininger, Sagesse, Banks, and Herron) seeing time. The 4-3 under is just the base defense now and there's not a whole lot of surprise in what they're doing. The 30 front is a pass D 90% of the time. I think when you saw it on run plays it was actually what USC calls "double eagle" and was more of a 5-2, but I'm still a little rough on that.
Notre Dame went back to its 3-wide personnel as a base set and used Rudolph a lot like M uses Koger.
Also, make sure to check out Steve Sharik's defensive analysis. I haven't read it yet, so these opinions are not mingled with his.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Martin||0|
|This appears to be targeted at the gap between Graham and Martin, but Martin(+0.5) slashes past the center and Graham(+0.5) holds up against a double team, forcing Allen to bounce it to Brown, who's held up on the outside(+0.5) and tackles with safety help.|
|O20||2||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Draw||RVB||25|
|Yikes, terrible play from two players opens up a huge hole. One: Van Bergen(-2) tries a cute pass-rush move around the RG and gets crushed; the guard gets under his pads and just drives him out of the hole. Two: Ezeh(-2) fails to read this or the direction of the play and actually moves into a block he didn't have to take. The center of the field is wide open.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun Empty||4-3 under||Pass||TE Bubble screen||Brown||6|
|Tough to defend for Michigan from the snap because they've only got two defenders in the area plus deep safeties shaded over. Brown(+1) actually does a good job to avoid a cut block and track down Rudolph, slowing him until help can arrive. (Cover -1)|
|M49||2||4||I-Form||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Post||Woolfolk||Inc|
|Clausen has all day(pressure -2) and finds an open Rudolph as he streaks past Woolfolk (cover -1); he throws it long. Both backs stayed in to help; Roh's guy has his hands way outside his shoulder pads but doesn't make a spin sort of move in an attempt to draw a hold, instead he just bull rushes to nowhere.|
|M49||3||4||Shotgun Empty||30 front||Pass||Slant||Ezeh||24|
|I don't know if this is a bust or what but Michigan sends five and leaves the short middle wide open, so Rudolph runs a little slant that's wide, wide open (cover -2). Michigan, bizarrely, had Ezeh 10 yards off the LOS—safety depth—on third and four, which explains the wide open section of the field. WTF? Ezeh(-1) misses a tackle, turning ten yards into 25. Fail.|
|M25||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Bubble screen||--||10|
|Another bubble that's wide open from the snap, something that ND can apparently adjust to in ways OSU can't. With Brown pulled up to the LOS—Michigan is basically in an eight-man front against three-wide, this has no chance of not working. (Cover -2)|
|M15||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Brown||5|
|Michigan's linebacker alignment makes no sense here, with Ezeh and Mouton lined up almost on top of each other and Brown on the edge. Brown(+1) manages to get to the outside of Kamara and valiantly strings the play out, but with no linebackers in any spot to track Allen down he manages to fall forward as Mouton trips him from behind.|
|M10||2||5||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||PA corner||Williams||Inc|
|Williams(-1) blitzes off the corner into the running back, who doesn't have the ball, and ends up getting blocked by that guy. Clausen drops back about nine yards and has a ton of time (pressure -2) with the rest of the defense playing the run; he wings it wide of a sort of open Tate.|
|M10||3||5||Shotgun Empty||4-3 under||Run||QB draw||Graham||0|
|Graham(+2) owns his guy to the inside and tackles Clausen for no gain despite having an ND OL's arm wrapped around his neck. Missed holding call #1.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG (28), 0-0, 10 min 1st Q. A lot of structural deficiencies in the defense on this one: both bubbles were basically indefensible and the Rudolph slant was a WTF formation. Ezeh off to a poor, poor start.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O28||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Comeback||Warren||5|
|Pressure(-2) is stoned and Clausen has a ton of time; downfield coverage(+1) is good and Clausen comes back to a short comeback route that Warren is in front on. Cissoko(-1) had totally lost Floyd on a dig, though, and if Clausen had seen it Floyd would have had 20 or 30 yards.|
|O33||2||5||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Graham||3|
|Defensive line does a great job on this, but the linebackers are nowhere. Graham(+1) drives his guy back, forcing a cutback, and Martin discards his blocker and just can quite tackle for loss. Mouton avoids a block but it slows him up and it's actually Van Bergen(+0.5) coming from behind who makes this play. I'm not sure if the linebackers should have done this better.|
|O36||3||2||Ace 3TE||30 front bear||Pass||PA Fly||Williams||Inc|
|Who saw this playcall coming? The entire stadium? Okay then. Williams(+2), on a blitz, shoots through two blockers and makes a bee-line to Clausen (pressure +2), who chucks it off his back foot and OOB. Inside the tackle box, this is intentional grounding, but it isn't called. Warren(-2), by the way, had gotten smoked by Floyd(cover -2) and without the pressure this was going to be a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 8 min 1st Q. Dodged a bullet.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|Michigan is pretty much boned on this from the snap as the defensive line slants away from a quick-hitting play and it's Stevie Brown and Ezeh trying to deal with a monster hole. Ezeh(-2) is pancaked by Rudolph, who sucked as a blocker against Nevada, and there's a huge hole into the secondary. Williams and Cissoko just barely keep this from being a long touchdown. I mean, this sucks from Ezeh. Michigan has a chance if he gets outside Rudolph and funnels the play back inside; he does not and it's very nearly six points.|
|O40||1||10||Ace Twin TE Empty||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Cissoko||15|
|Ugh. This is painfully, bizarrely open as Cissoko(-2) spends his time staring at the QB instead of the receiver, leaves this wide open(-1), and misses a tackle to compound everything and give Notre Dame eight extra yards.|
|Martin(+1) stands up to a double team and would hold this to no or little gain until Graham(-1) starts giving way against single blocking and a crease opens up. Mouton avoids a tackler and manages to wrap up but Ezeh(-0.5) has run himself into another blocker and can't help, thus allowing Allen to fall forward.|
|M40||2||5||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Screen||--||18|
|The overturned touchdown. This is just Michigan sending the house and getting caught. And yes, he's out of bounds, and they got it right.|
|M22||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Mouton||1|
|Williams at the line and gets picked off by Rudolph, leaving a fullback and a pulling guard against the Michigan linebacking corps on the edge. Mouton(+1) blazes out to the corner and submarines the fullback, forcing it back inside where Brown(+0.5) tackles.|
|M23||2||9||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||Checkdown||Warren||4|
|Four-man rush against max pro is 7-on-4 and doesn't get much of anywhere (pressure -1), but the coverage is good (+1) and Clausen is forced to check down to Allen; Warren(+0.5) makes a solid tackle on the catch.|
|M18||3||5||Ace Twin TE Twins||4-3 under||Pass||Throwaway||Graham||Inc|
|Max pro again; three man rush. Graham(+1, pressure +1) is threatening to burst through (and is blatantly held) so Clausen decides to just chuck it because that's what he always does. Well out of the endzone. Cissoko(+1) gets praise from Millen for the coverage so OK. (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG (34), 7-3, 1 min 1st Q. Ensuing kickoff is returned for a touchdown. This is good. It's seven points. But it also throws the defense right back on the field after they've been out for a seven play drive. What stoutness existed, which wasn't much, gets very wobbly for the rest of the half. For instance: Graham is out for most of this drive, replaced by walk-on Will Heiniger.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O24||1||10||Wildcat||4-3 under||Run||End around||Mouton||5|
|Jeez... ND overloads the short side and has two extra blockers over there, something Michigan does not react to. Mouton(-1) is ridiculously hesitant and gets blocked out of the play, leaving the safeties to come up and tackle after a good gain.|
|Unsurprisingly, they run right at Heininger, who gives ground(-0.5). Ezeh(+0.5) does come up to cut off the outside and take out one of the doublers, allowing Heininger and Mike Martin to tackle slightly short of the sticks.|
|O33||3||1||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Ezeh|
|It's third and one and ND runs a no-deception pitch sweep and ND's no block tight end ends up blocking Ezeh six yards downfield. -2. Brown(-1) jumped inside on the snap and gave up the corner, too, but Roh's ability to get outside forced an Allen cut that might have been no gain if our MLB wasn't six yards away from the play facing 180 degrees in the wrong direction.|
|Ugh. Nothing at all from the line not named Graham and Graham is doubled by a FB and stalemated (pressure -2). Clausen has his choice of wide open receivers (cover -2) as neither linebacker(-1 each) bothers to get a pass drop and cover Rudolph and Cissoko(-1) gets no help over the top and gets burned badly by Floyd. Result is an easy long completion.|
|Max pro again but why bother when neither of your RBs has to bother picking anyone up? No one gets within five yards of Clausen (pressure -2) and Clausen has forever to find Tate on a dig; Williams tackles immediately. Can't blame the secondary here.|
|M10||1||G||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Run||Inside zone||Ezeh||6|
|Eight man front. Sagesse(+1) does a great job of driving the center, who's playside of him, back into the play and forcing a cutback. Tailback now has two gaps, one of which is filled by a charging Mouton, the other filled with... air because Obi Ezeh(-1) has also hit that gap. Gaaaah. Allen slams up into the hole and three guys are now shoving Roh and the pile moves; Allen does a good job of squirting for some extra yards but this should have been no gain.|
|M4||2||G||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Out||Cissoko||4|
|Terrible coverage from Cissoko(-1, cover -1) makes this super easy. You're on the four, man.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-10, 12 min 2nd Q. Ezeh is killing us in the ground game and no one on the line can get any pressure.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O31||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Screen||--||13 (Pen -10)|
|Young gets a holding call for tackling Graham(+1) as he attempts to get to the QB. Notre Dame is constantly doing this. Stupid play on a screen. ND sets this up well and gets Ezeh blocked and a cutback safeties come up to tackle.|
|O21||1||20||Shotgun Empty||30 front||Penalty||Delay of Game||--||Pen -5|
|Well, that's one way to get out of first and twenty five. Again max protect again a four-man rush, again Graham gets doubled and the rest of the line does nothing, and Cissoko is on an island against Floyd and can't do anything about it. (Cover –2, pressure -1) It seems insane that Michigan is shading the safeties over Warren and selling Cissoko out to dry.|
|O49||1||10||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Warren||Inc|
|Superior deep coverage as ND loads up and goes after Warren(+2, cover +1) this time one-on-one with Tate. Warren is a half-step behind and rakes the ball away as it arrives. No pressure(-2) at all again.|
|O49||2||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Brown||11|
|Ezeh(+0.5) actually does a good job of cutting off one inside gap and gets to the right side of a blocker to do so. Graham's flowed down the line and can make a tackle if this gets slowed at all but Brown(-1) attempts to cut back into a gap that's not his and falls, opening a lane for Allen.|
|M40||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Inside zone||Herron||4|
|Kamara motions in to make this sort of a 2TE look. ND doubles and easily seals Herron(-1), opening up the outside, and with Brown trying to get inside of Kamara really what Gray should do is shoot it outside into huge space; he doesn't, instead cutting it up because of Brown's aggression. +0.5, I guess, for results-based charting. Ezeh's got sort of a tough job because Rudolph got a quick release, but he just sort of shoulder-blasts Rudolph and ends up on the wrong side of the play and Gray's error goes from zero yards to four. –0.5.|
|M36||2||6||Ace 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Out||Cissoko||11 + 12 Pen|
|Michigan in a 3-4 look and what the hell is Herron doing? He's just sort of hopping around the LOS, not rushing or dropping. Screen protection? Michigan gets Ezeh in on a delayed blitz but it's too late as Tate comes open on a deep hitch against Warren, again on an island. (Cover -1) Rouging the passer on Ezeh(-2) provides 12 more.|
|M12||1||10||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Sagesse||1|
|Michigan stunting and Sagesse(+1) comes from the interior to the outside, shoving his guy back, holding his ground, and delaying the tailback long enough for a slashing Mouton(+1) blitz to come home. What... a positive play?|
|M11||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fade||Warren||11|
|This is pretty close to indefensible. Cover -1, I guess.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 7 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O42||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Delay||Mouton||15|
|Terrible, terrible from Mouton(-3), who just turns his back and heads into a pass drop on a play that has a pulling guard. Hey... maybe that's a run. Yep. Meanwhile, Herron(-1) gets sealed inside and Allen has an easy time of getting to the secondary.|
|O27||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Delay||Graham||-1|
|Same play. Michigan's flipped their formation, though, and has Graham(+2) on the side the run goes to. He shucks a blocker, darts through the line and crushes the run with help from an aggressive Warren(+0.5). This time Mouton decides to see what the play is before reacting.|
|O28||2||11||Ace 3-wide||30 front||Run||Off tackle||Woolfolk||1|
|Same play from an earlier drive with Kamara motioning in for the 2TE look. Michigan is in a man look, as Woolfolk moves with Kamara, and this allows him to attack as soon as he sees Kamara set up to run block. The quick reaction gets Woolfolk(+1) in; he sets up outside, forces the play back to help, and tackles on the cut. No one blocked Ezeh, so he helps out. That was because Graham(+0.5) took two blockers.|
|O27||3||10||Ace 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Screen||Brown||18 (Pen -5)|
|This is a three man rush, and a screen gets Notre Dame down to the nine. Ugh. Brown(-2) and Ezeh(-1) are late reacting. Flags help out, though. Michigan turns down a downfield hold and accepts an illegal shift.|
|O32||3||15||Shotgun 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Dumpoff||Roh||7|
|Another three man rush works, forcing Clausen to check down(cover +1) and get within reasonable field goal range.|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 14-20, 3 min 2nd Q. Very fortunate, again.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||Scramble||Graham||6 (Pen -10)|
|Williams rolled up for 8 in the box. Notre Dame goes play action and Graham(+1) is about to burst through until he gets collared by the LG, drawing a holding flag. Clausen scrambles out for a few yards. (Pressure +1)|
|O10||1||20||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Long handoff||Cissoko||9|
|Cissoko, petrified, is ten yards deep and moving backwards at the snap; “duh” read for ND. (Cover -1, Cissoko -1)|
|O19||2||11||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Slant||Warren||12|
|Michigan sends five and drops into what looks like a very deep zone, opening up Floyd(cover -2) underneath for big yardage. This kind of looks a tiny bit like man but it's hard to tell; if so that would be a minus for Warren. Graham was closing here so no minus on the pressure.|
|O31||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Draw||Brown||-5|
|Another five man rush gets Brown(+1) in unblocked; he reads the play correctly and attacks the tailback, which doesn't actually make the guy fumble—he just fumbled—but does prevent him from getting it back. Mouton(+1) recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-20, 9 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|Eight in the box. This seems like a screwed up read from Allen because Roh flies upfield and both linebackers get swallowed up, leaving a big lane to bounce outside in. Instead, Allen runs into the back of one of his OL so hard he falls over. +0.5 for RVB and Martin for holding up and preventing creases. After the bounce, Brown(+1) disengages from Rudolph and tracks Allen down for loss with help from Warren.|
|M46||2||11||Shotgun Empty||30 front||Pass||Throwaway||Ezeh||Inc|
|Michigan sends six against five blockers and math says they get someone through (pressure +1). They actually get two, one of whom is Ezeh(+0.5) and Clausen just wings it because that's what Clausen does immediately whenever anyone comes within five feet of him. Not that we have a whole lot of evidence for that assertion in this game.|
|M46||3||11||Shotgun 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Screen||RVB||Inc|
|Three man rush, which I hate except it ND throws a screen so we win RPS. RVB(+1), stunting, reads this and starts tracking Allen, slashing past a blocker, and Warren(+1) also attacks the ball effectively, causing Clausen to turf it. (Cover +2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-20, 6 min 3rd Q. Big stop after a long KO return from ND.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O4||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Cissoko||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Who's surprised by this call? No one. Roh's held in the endzone, but no call, and Cissoko is running with Tate along the sideline, looking for the ball. It falls incomplete, and the guy staring right at it says incomplete. Five seconds later the back judge, who was 30 yards away, throws a flag. This is super ticky-tack, because Cissoko is arm-fighting with Tate. But I guess if you whine all day about it the backjudge gets misty. Results-based here (Cover -1, Cissoko -1)|
|O19||1||10||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||PA Out||Williams||71 (Pen -10)|
|Lot of eight man fronts in this half. On this one, ND runs play action that sucks the entire linebacking corps way up, leaving Rudolph unbelievably wide open ten yards downfield with no one even near him (cover -3, -1 Ezeh, -1 Wiliams). Woolfolk(-2) then misses a tackle 40 yards downfield and gives him the rest. Holding brings it back, as Young locked his arms into Roh's and wrestled him to the ground with another hand outside his shoulder pad. “Pancake blocks” don't happen on pass protection. Roh gets a +1. (Pressure +1)|
|O9||1||20||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||PA Out||Cissoko||12|
|I still fail to see why the coverage is shaded towards Warren all day and Cissoko is just left to rot against Floyd. This is way open but it's hard to blame a guy on an island with Mike Floyd. (Cover -1)|
|O21||2||8||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Bubble screen||Inc|
|Dropped by Kamara. It seems like Woolfolk(+1) reacted quickly and would hold this down anyway. (Cover +1)|
|O21||3||8||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Throwaway||Graham||Inc|
|Wow, Michigan loads up and sends seven(!), which gets Graham(+1), through unblocked (pressure +2) and Clausen, as always, just chucks it.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-20, 2 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Bubble screen||Woolfolk||6|
|Woolfolk(+0.5) reacts immediately, takes a blocker, and bounces off to tackle but Warren(-0.5) seems to react much more slowly, allowing Kamara five instead of just a couple.|
|O26||2||4||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Mouton||5|
|Excellent push from Martin(+0.5) and Graham(+0.5) forces a cutback but Mouton(-1) is tardy, and gets blocked downfield and cannot help Roh, who's crashing down from the backside to tackle. With nothing from the linebackers, everyone falls forward.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Deep hitch||Graham||Inc|
|Graham(+1), finally single-blocked, smokes the RT and hits Clausen as he's throwing (pressure +1) to Tate, blanketed by Warren(+1, cover +1)|
|Michigan sends five; their big halftime adjustment to this point is to get more aggressive. Ezeh(+0.5) eventually splits two blockers and forces Clausen to launch at Tate, covered by Warren(+1), who recovers and rakes the ball away. This is not a drop. It's a PBU. (Cover +1)|
|O31||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Dig||--||14|
|Argh backing out into a zone and rushing three here. Clausen, accordingly, has all day (pressure -2) and can even roll out at a leisurely pace and find Floyd cutting across the field. I absolutely do not understand a call like this when you can hardly stop these guys except when you get pressure. If you're worried about a screen leave a spy in. Mouton(-1) vacated his zone, opening up the throw.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Slant||Woolfolk||12|
|Kovacs is in the game now... they never showed Williams go out, but he will play the rest of the fourth quarter. This was thrown in front of Woolfolk(-1, cover -1), and neither he or Ezeh can tackle immediately, giving up another five.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Slant||Cissoko||Inc|
|This appears to be on Floyd for being a wuss, as Michigan drops Mouton into a zone over the slant and he just pulls up on it instead of take a chance of getting lit up. As a result, it goes directly to Cissoko, who drops it. I won't minus him but here's a stern look. (Cover +1)|
|M43||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||30 front||Penalty||Delay||--||-5|
|This batty formation with Ezeh at safety depth, but it's delay of game.|
|M48||2||15||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Comeback||Cissoko||10|
|Well-executed in front of Cissoko and behind Herron in what looks like zone. (Cover -1) This is the “headless Graham” play, which does not get flagged. CONSPIRACY|
|M38||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Mouton||6|
|Michigan appears to be blitzing Ezeh away from the direction of the play, which makes this tough to stop. But what is Mouton(-1) doing? He's flowing down the line and is determined to get outside when he's the only linebacker to the inside and this is a third and five. So he cedes ground voluntarily, actually ending up seven yards downfield, before finally cutting up when he sees that Graham(+0.5) has forced a cut up. Martin tackles from behind but again: with no linebacker help the tailback just heads forward. This has been a constant theme over the last two weeks.|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Cissoko||Inc|
|Just a straight fly Cissoko(-2, cover -2) gets smoked on. Tate catches it but it pops out when he hits the ground for an incompletion. Roh(+1) would have gotten to Clausen on the backside if not for the LT holding him around the corner. On replay it looks like Cissoko may have had some small impact on the drop so I'll bump him up to -1, -1.|
|M32||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Hitch||Cissoko||8|
|Easy pitch and catch in front of that guy again(cover -1, Cissoko -1), and this time it's not even one of the big stars, it's a freshman. Blitz came but Clausen was clean (pressure -1)|
|M24||3||2||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Delay||Roh||2|
|This is actually a play from Ezeh(+2), who slashes up into the backfield, takes on the outside shoulder of a blocker, and delays Allen, almost tackling him for loss. He gets no help, though, with Roh(-1) blasted off the ball and Cissoko in press against Floyd, and Allen manages to get the corner... sort of. He's pushed OOB about a half yard shy of the first.|
|M22||4||In||Ace||4-3 under||Run||QB sneak||--||1|
|They get it.|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Cissoko||21|
|All, all, all day as Michigan rushes three and drops a couple DEs, including Graham, into coverage. Doesn't matter. Tate gets Cissoko to turn his hips and then breaks off a hitch just past the sticks; Cissoko recovers and actually makes his best break on the ball of the day, coming an inch away from getting a PBU. He doesn't, and he doesn't make a tackle, and Tate walks into the endzone. (Cover -1, Cissoko -1.) Results-based charting but hey, at least he had a shot at it this time. Pressure -2, by the way.|
|M3||2pt||2pt||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Rollout flat||Brown||Inc|
|Allen is offset, which tips no run and indicates a rollout, which happens. Michigan covers everyone(+1) and Kovacs(+1!) zips through the line on a blitz, forcing Clausen to get rid of the ball earlier than he might otherwise. Pass is broken up. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (2pt failed), 31-26, 9 min 4th Q. At this point I just don't understand not blitzing the hell out of Clausen. He's just going to torch the secondary if no one gets to him and when someone's gotten to him he hasn't made one play. He just chucks it.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||TE out||Rudolph||8|
|Supposed to be a quick pass as ND chops all the linemen, and Rudolph comes open as ND high-lows a zone. (Cover -1)|
|M28||2||2||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Cissoko||Inc|
|Just chuckin' it deep on Cissoko again; this time he's actually got good position and can get himself between Floyd and his route, which he does... and then flagrantly bumps him, drawing a flag (-1, cover -1) that's deserved, then waved off because the throw was yards out of bounds. Michigan sent a blitz and this is another Jimmah chuck special. (Pressure +1)|
|M28||3||2||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Draw||Ezeh||3|
|Martin slices through the line and could be in line for a plus here but doesn't make his tackle attempt, or even slow Allen down, so nothing. Ezeh(+1), on the other hand, reads, sets up the downfield blocker, and then slashes past him to tackle, though not before Allen picks up a first. Good play; tough to stop a third and two run when you have six guys in the box.|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Cissoko||Inc|
|Blitz gets Ezeh through clean and Graham(+1) beats his guy. Jimmah: chuck. (Pressure +1). Cissoko is in good position (+1, cover +1); the ball drags Floyd out of the endzone with help from Cissoko. We should just be sending guys in waves.|
|M25||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Warren||8|
|Sending the house again (seven), no one clean through but Clausen has to fire quick. Warren(-1) gets turned and allows an eight-yard hitch(cover -1).|
|M17||3||2||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Graham||9|
|Graham(-2) does not maintain outside contain, moving inside and getting sealed by the ND LT, which provides a massive cutback lane no one can do anything about. Martin actually tracks him down from behind, saving a touchdown. For now.|
|M8||1||G||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||RVB||8|
|Same play flipped. RVB(-1) gets crushed out of the hole; Martin avoids a cut but cannot close down the hole because RVB's been so hammered and Ezeh(-1) just sort of waits for the play to come to him. It does. In the endzone.|
|M3||2pt||2pt||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Statue of liberty||--||3|
|Michigan is sending the house and just runs by it.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (2pt), 31-34, 5 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O16||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Ezeh||13|
|Michigan draws up and blitzes from the string side of the field, away from where the run goes. Roh(-2) just sets up way too deep, giving Ezeh a choice between trying to fill a hole between he and RVB or bouncing outside; he picks inside and lets it bounce. Wrong answer(-1 Ezeh). Allen just jets outside for a first down. Roh is dragged to the ground on a hold... sort of.|
|O29||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||RVB||0|
|RVB(+1) gets under Stewart and blows him back, forcing a cutback that's swarmed by Graham, Ezeh, and Kovacs. +0.5 for Ezeh for taking on a block and cutting off the gap; the other guys were pursuit.|
|O29||2||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Warren||Inc|
|Hey, that's a good idea. Warren(+2) running stride for stride with Tate, looks for the ball, and has an equal chance of getting this. (Cover +2). If this is interference, DBs have no right to the ball ever.|
|O29||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Cissoko||Inc|
|Bring the house and Clausen throws it wide. This one, I think, is on Jimmah. (Pressure +1) Cissoko(-1, cover -1) beat... on third and ten in this situation when you know Michigan is bringing the house. That's just dumb.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-34, 2 min 4th Q. Final play is academic and not charted.|
Wow, so you really want to start the UFR with a downer this week, eh?
It's time to get your pie-in-the-sky ideas about winning the conference out of your head, bolded alter-ego.
Who says I have those?
That bad, was it?
Yes, basically. I was hoping that the tape would show a huge array of awesome plays by Notre Dame that valiant Michigan defenders just could not stop because Tate and Floyd are future NFL receivers and Rudolph is awesome and so forth and so on. I didn't, really, especially in the run game, I just saw a ton of horrible play by Michigan.
Sounds like something you'd explain with a chart?
|Graham||12||3||9||Generous, IMO, since a few pluses came when he came free when Michigan sent the house, but he was the main source of pressure and was doubled on almost every play..|
|Heininger||-||0.5||-0.5||His play responsible for a big chunk of the negative pressures in the second half.|
|Roh||2||3||-1||Drew a key hold but mostly neutralized. Looked like a freshman.|
|Martin||2.5||-||2.5||Decent tracking down the run but zero pass rush.|
|Van Bergen||2.5||3||-0.5||Looked a lot like an out of position DE.|
|Sagesse||2||-||2||Actually did pretty well. I wonder if Michigan might think of moving Martin over and starting Sagesse? That would also give Graham a backup.|
|TOTAL||20||11.5||8.5||Seriously mitigated by the –8 pressure number; front four could not get to the QB. Poor overall performance.|
|Ezeh||5.5||14||-8.5||That is the biggest number in the minus column in UFR history.|
|Mouton||3||8||-5||Major regression from last year; often went into pass drops without bothering to see if it was a run.|
|Brown||4.5||4||0.5||One eyed man in the land of no tackles.|
|Demens||-||-||-||Don't think he played.|
|TOTAL||13||26||-13||An outright disaster.|
|Warren||8||1.5||6.5||Excellent day against tough customers. Good run support.|
|Cissoko||2||12||-10||The biggest negative day from a DB in UFR history.|
|Woolfolk||2||3.5||-1.5||Was not tested often with M in cover one much of the day.|
|TOTAL||13||19||-6||Warren, and then nothing, coverage to compound.|
|Pressure||11||19||-8||No pressure from front four, blitzes in second half got M its few stops.|
Recall that as you move away from the ball UFR tends towards negative numbers, so the worst position group on the day were the linebackers, who were a disaster, and that the DL's mildly positive performance is nothing to get excited about. No one other than Graham, Warren, and the rotating NT had anything approximating a decent day.
Aaaaaargh aaargh my eyes.
Words cannot describe how bad Obi Ezeh was in this game. It was a disaster, and this is a guy who's in his third year starting. Maybe the double switch of defensive coordinators has him behind the times for a third-year starter but that doesn't go much towards explaining a –8.5 that would have been worse if he hadn't been turned loose on a couple blitzes. Meanwhile, Jonas Mouton has been negative in both games so far after a promising finish to last year.
Is it Ezeh? Is it Mouton? A lack of depth? A scheme change? I know none of these things, but I look at Stevie Brown, who also switched positions and schemes, in his case more severely than either of the inside linebackers. He's doing okay. He came out of this game slightly positive, which made him the third-best player on the field. He is the property of Greg Robinson.
Mouton and Ezeh belong to Jay Hopson, and the inside backers are the only guys who belong to Jay Hopson, and they're playing terribly. As far as recruiting goes, Hopson got shut out of Mississippi last year and was the guy responsible for recruiting both defensive tackles who bolted on Signing Day. Michigan got shut out, and I don't recall any recruit mentioning Hopson this year. This blog's even got a tag about Mississippi because of it, and this year Michigan has shifted its focus away from all the places Hopson has connections. The number of kids they're recruiting in Mississippi is zero, and I can't recall anyone they're seriously involved with who's in the deep south.
Unless the two inside guys get radically better over the rest of the season, I wouldn't be surprised if Hopson was replaced.
Cissoko: the second coming of Markus Curry?
Man, he was bad, but on review I saw some of the things people were talking about. Michigan appeared to play field/boundary with Warren the boundary guy—ie, the guy who lines up to the short side of the field—and Cissoko the field guy. Then they shaded the safeties over Warren. So Warren got a good bit of help and Cissoko was often just one-on-one with death receivers.
This was really weird to me since Warren is the veteran at full health you'd expect to get stuck on an island and Cissoko the dinged n00b dwarf attempting to check Mike Floyd. That went horribly. And it can't be blamed entirely on Cissoko. But… yeah, it went horribly and there were flags and many, many completions and Cissoko looked like a guy who's going to get picked on all year. And there's nothing M can do about it, probably, with the corner depth as impossibly low as it is.
So this Sagesse guy is okay?
He hasn't seen much time but I have him down for +5 in that time with no minuses. Given the depth situation at DE and RVB's seeming inability to hold up—not surprising at 6'5" 270 something—doesn't it make sense to try Sagesse out as a starting NT and slide Martin over to the 3-tech? RVB can then back up the 3-tech and Graham. The line adds 30-40 pounds and doesn't have to roll out a walk-on when Graham needs a blow.
This is dependent on Sagesse's play not being a mirage based on small sample size, but he's looked at least functional to date, and as Will Campbell comes on line there will be some depth at DT.
Man you were wrong about Notre Dame, weren't you?
In some ways, yes. I underestimated how competent their offensive line was badly, and in retrospect expecting Notre Dame to forge ahead with I-form sets when Michigan basically can't go to a nickel and the starting fullback is out was idiotic. But, man, every time Clausen got the slightest bit of pressure he just chucked the ball, usually off his back foot, and never accurately. Future ND opponents should spy for screens and send the house again and again.
I do have some questions about what the hell Michigan was doing schematically. No help for Cissoko, a lot of cover one that made those fly routes available, erratic blitzing that didn't really get in gear until the second half… at least they adjusted somewhat, but I think Robinson had a subpar game. Not that he was working with gold here.
Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren performed like the 1st or 2nd round NFL draft picks they're likely to be. After two games you should feel free to upgrade your opinion of Warren to near-lockdown corner. Brandon Graham should remain Brandon Graham in your estimation.
Basically everyone else. But Ezeh, Cissoko, and Mouton come in for special approbation.
What does it mean for Eastern Michigan and the future?
This is not a good defense even at full health. I don't think anyone on the schedule will be able to take advantage of its specific deficiencies quite as easily as Notre Dame did, but much of ND's day was just easy. The lack of depth on the defensive line will be a constant problem as Michigan will be rotating to walk-ons and poor replacements. The inside linebackers look completely lost. And power running teams are probably going to be able to blast Michigan off the ball. And I don't think Cissoko is any good, injured shoulder or not.
Michigan had better hope that Notre Dame's defensive line has gone from subpar to outstanding with the OL coach switch, because if the DL's performance looks more like the ND game than the Western game going forward Michigan is going to be in a lot of shootouts.
It's tiny and it's in the corner but it's something. (Via MVictors.)
ISO. I'm looking for an iPhone programmer for a startup project. Email me if you're interested.
WHOAH. Yes Forcier woo but hold on just a dang minute here:
It's only two games, but you would not be completely unreasonable to start worrying about Michigan as Penn State's main competition in the conference.
That's Black Shoe Diaries, and yes it would be completely unreasonable. A
five three-point loss to USC does not destroy Ohio State's status as a team that doesn't run out walk-ons on defense. Let's keep the increased expectations at the Alamo/Outback level, plz, lest Michigan failing to hit the BCS this year is cause for another round of "I'm not saying Michigan should fire Rich Rodriguez, but did you know he uses babies as fuel for his Hummer?" stories. This team still has huge problems on defense and the offense is currently held together by Forcier's insane magic, something that's probably going to lose Michigan a game or two when the freshman in Forcier bites back.
Also from that post halol:
If there's one thing Penn State and Michigan fans can get together on, it's Terrelle Pryor schadenfreude.
Quick kickin'. Tate Forcier's quick kick ended up downed at the four and it sounds like Michigan will be inclined to use it in similar situations in the future:
Forcier, Michigan's true freshman quarterback, doubled as a punter (and defensive back) for his high school team in California, and Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez said Forcier worked occasionally on the skill during fall camp.
"He's very good at it," Rodriguez said.
Later in that article Rodriguez points out he won't call that on third down, which uh thanks for that clarification. Shades of Brian Griese and a much better alternative than Carr's well-loved fake-FG punt that hardly worked and often saw teams put a returner back anyway. Michigan hurrying to the line and threatening to go for it means no one can get back lest a fake happen.
Rising. I always like it when the assessments I make in UFR are echoed by other people, as it makes me think I'm not totally bats in said assessments. So here's a rising guy for the NFL draft after two games:
Donovan Warren/CB/Michigan: Warren, the Wolverines well-sized cornerback, seems to have his game back on track after a disappointing sophomore campaign. He broke up three passes during the victory over Notre Dame and was forceful helping to stop the run. The junior's game comes with a great amount of upside potential and should Warren consistently play at a high level, he will eventually move into the draft's initial 45 selections.
That would be just about perfect: an excellent season, a mid-second round rating, and a reason to come back to school.
What in the hell? Deadspin's gone downhill ever since Leitch (mostly) left but I didn't know they'd turned into an LSU message board:
Have you ever been to Auburn? No? Well, I have, and IT SUCKS! Which is why, in order to "attract" recruits, the program has to dispatch its illiterate boosters to harass the nation's top prep talent into signing with them.
I have been to Auburn, and I can say confidently that it sucks far less than "The Cajun Boy" and his post. Don't they pay people to write there? I don't understand.
Point of clarification. The Only Colors took some exception to gentle—you might say brotherly—ribbing at the bottom of Monday's game column:
1. To me, this [the press box announcer stating that the MSU-CMU score was an exception to "no cheering in the press box"] is a hell of a lot less defensible than MSU fans cheering on the HORROR. (That video, of course, being one which Michigan fans have alternately whined about and made fun of for two years now.) Fans aren't supposed to maintain any pretense of objectivity …
First, this isn't about defensible or not. What we are talking about here is talking, and the worst of it rises to "ha you lost." This blog has always been wildly in favor of press conference trash-talking from anyone from the pope on down. The whole "moment of silence/little brother/Mike Hart is short/pride comes before the fall" sequence was awesome. It raised the stakes in the rivalry to the point that OSU fans entering a tailspin of self-doubt, regret, and pining for Tate Forcier was only my third favorite thing that happened over the weekend. In no way do I disapprove of Dantonio taunting Mike Hart. In that spirit, press box announcer trash-talk adds fuel to the fire. Fuel is good until Ned gets involved.
Second, I don't know what he's referring to about the fans. I've never seen Michigan fans suggest State fans shouldn't enjoy The Horror—maybe the occasional dig at brahs wearing App St gear around, which is sad. But "pride comes before the fall" and "should we have a moment of silence?" are direct quotes from the head man and definitely deserve comeuppance mocking.
2. For our purposes, I'll assume that Freep writers weren't among those cheering. Still, how exactly does this square with the Michigan-fan meme/persecution complex that the lolmsm has effectively become an arm of the MSU athletic department?
I think that's restricted to the Free Press, FWIW. Also, the Michigan press box is full of your Ebling and (lol) Spartanmag equivalents too; every press box is divided between aloof observers and homers.
In summation: I can't complain about Michigan fans playing the comeuppins' card, especially when my team choked as badly as they did on Saturday. But, playing that card also forfeits the high ground they've staked out for themselves, as Dex from WLA essentially admitted. Welcome to the muck.
What high ground? We mock you for being dunderheaded nitwits who can't get into the country club, you accuse us of never getting laid. It's the circle of life. It's a circle.
Falcon punch? Jonas Mouton got a little pop on one of ND's offensive linemen on Saturday:
This is really weird. It looks like a punch, but on the complete tape Mouton just jogs away after it and in the second or two before the camera angle cuts the ND OL appears to get up like nothing happened. Contrast that to the reaction when Greg Mathews kicked an Oregon player. Slightly different. If there'd been any problems afterwards I'd think you'd suspend the guy—though Mathews didn't get a game for a far more blatant case of poor sportsmanship, nor did that Wisconsin punt scrub who twisted Breaston's knee—but no one seems to have a problem with it except Charlie Weis. I might sit Mouton down anyway. That's not likely if Robert Reynolds got all of a game for choking out Jim Sorgi.
Etc.: Old timers will remember unofficial MGoBlog editorial cartoonist Joel A Morgan; he's taken his stuff to Mustaches with Michigan. MfM wasn't just a one-off, by the way. They're around for the long haul. Michigan Monday is always more entertaining when we're not awful. LSUFreek tackles last weekend's game.
I addressed a couple of the Notre Dame officiating complaints after the game in yesterday's UV but didn't get around to the big one (other than what I'm pretty sure will be specious complaint about the holding call on Rudolph's screen touchdown, as I've seen a number of Michigan DL hogtied in the first half already). That would be the overturn of Armando Allen's screen touchdown, which was… you know… correct:
Notre Dame fans are accusing Big Ten referees of bias because they did not call Allen out of bounds despite the fact he was, and they are complaining that the video review made a correct call. This may be the most very special instance of internet Notre Dame mentality ever.
The argument here relies on the idea that the review was "inconclusive" given the replays shown on the TV, but those things are not necessarily the same things the replay guy sees. If we are parsing the shadows and whatnot—some Notre Dame fans see that picture and suggest that Allen's heel is not out of bounds—then we're back to semantics. What is "voluntary"? What is "conclusive"? If I close my eyes, does the universe cease existing?
The call was correct. You are not allowed to complain about a referee getting something right. That's not how complaints work.
We decided everyone wanted to talk about last weekend instead of next weekend so the podcast comes early this week. Our special guest is frequent diarist and Gamblor acolyte Jamiemac, who's got his own digs at Just Cover now. Over the course of a half hour, we talk about Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan's new ceiling, Jamie's crazy theories about Phil Steele, and reveal the last time Michigan hit a quadruple (win plus losses from the three main rivals) like they did over the weekend.
via reader Brian Hale
Take his and graduate 'em, take yours and graduate 'em. It's not noble to take guys with two good parents and a Catholic-school education and not screw them up. That's one of the things that's always bothered me about Notre Dame's smugness. They've positioned themselves as the nationwide destination for kids who end up at places like Oaks Christian, and when these kids fail to screw up they take pride in it. Michigan, meanwhile, has been more willing to take on potentially troubled kids. Not as willing as some other schools, but willing.
This is always spun as a negative when you get a Feagin situation. When you take kids out of Pahokee or Detroit or Delray Beach who did not go to a good high school and didn't have a stable home life and are just looking for a way out, some of them are not going to overcome their backgrounds. It's tough to do that. It's no accomplishment to graduate Craig Roh. That kid grew up like an enormous, athletic, magnificently-eyebrowed version of me; he's going to graduate no matter where he is. It's a risk to stick out your neck for a talented kid who went to a school with textbooks from 1978 where dropouts are more common than graduates.
The reason I bring it up is an epic article on Pahokee, the home of three current Wolverines, in the Daily. I've been reading the Daily for twelve years now and it's without question the best article to appear in it in that time frame. It wouldn't seem out of place if you threw it up on ESPN.com in one of those fancy presentations they give Wright Thompson. It highlights the environment these guys come from:
He pops in one of the myriad discs. It’s a guerrilla-style video called “Palm Beach County: Gangstas and Thugs.” Local gun-toting gang members flash across the screen, beating each other senseless and shooting AK-47s into the air.
“That’s my cousin; he’s in jail,” he says pointing, to the screen. “Oh, and that kid’s dead. He was 17.”
Trouble in such places is easier to get into than avoid, and honestly working with these kids so that they get out of college and go somewhere else is a calling beyond giving kids who went to Catholic school calculus exams. Michigan has to live up to that charge, of course. In four to six years we'll have Rodriguez's graduation numbers, and in five more we'll have some sense of how the institution has served them. I'll be watching it carefully. I hope—and think—Michigan will do right by them. They are owed that.
No, you can't do that. Apparently ABC never showed the Armando Allen taunting penalty, but the News got a shot of it:
a. Specifically prohibited acts and conduct include:
1. No player, substitute, coach or other person subject to the rules shall use abusive, threatening or obscene language or gestures, or engage in such acts that provoke ill will or are demeaning to an opponent, to game officials or to the image of the game, including but not limited to:
(b) Taunting, baiting or ridiculing an opponent verbally.
(c) Inciting an opponent or spectators in any other way, such as simulating the firing of a weapon or placing a hand by the ear to request recognition.
Ssssh-ing the student section is an obvious flag that will get called 1000 of 1000 times. It doesn't matter if he said anything or not. Weis being an ass in the postgame (no, seriously, watch his bitchy press conference… what a horror it would be to have such a thoroughly unlikeable person* in charge of your football team):
"Armando was really distraught at the end of the game, because he felt that he got called for a 15-yard penalty for going 'shhhh' when he got to the end zone," Weis said. "Now I guess, technically, that's taunting, but he felt really bad about that and I told him we're all part of this loss and don't put it all on your shoulders."
Indeed, it is "technically" taunting in the way Michigan's pass to Mathews was "technically" a touchdown. Meanwhile on that same play, Clausen was doing a fey little dance that could have drawn another flag. Why must Weis recruit these thugs? Why can't he have nice boys like Greg Mathews, who politely handed the ball to the referee after his gamewinning touchdown?
A note on one of the other ND refereeing complaints: Theo Riddick did touch that kickoff, as was extensively discussed on Sportscenter, so running two seconds off the clock was appropriate. And when Tate caught the ball on the last play of the game and got tackled with one second left, the key distinction to note is that the official timekeeper doesn't stop when he thinks the play is over—not his job—but when the referee signals him to. You can clearly see that the referee signals to stop the clock well after :00 is hit. (Yes, maybe that's a conspiracy too.)
*(dollars to donuts that caused any West Virginia, Michigan State, or Ohio State fan reading it to have a head asplode moment, but… seriously. Watch the video. There is no comparison between that and corny jokes and twang.)
Tempting fate. If Michigan loses the next two weeks you can stick my head in a blender for what I'm about to do.
Let's talk about Michigan State, Michigan's first road game of the season and next opponent against whom the spread will be in the single digits. State lost to Central Michigan in quintessential "Sparty, No!" fashion, but don't let the flukes at the end of the game overshadow the overall theme of the day. A worried The Only Colors explains:
While hanging our heads obviously doesn't do any good, I really have a hard time seeing Saturday's outcome as a fluke. Sure, the events of the final 30 seconds all broke in the Chippewas' favor. But we'd been outplayed by a significant margin for the 59 minutes and 30 seconds that preceded those 30 seconds--outgained by 74 yards and outconverted by 8 first downs. And when it mattered most, we couldn't stop them. Central gained a total of 147 yards to reach the endzone on both of its final two non-onside-kick-commenced drives. We were lucky to be in position to win the game with 30 seconds to go.
Maybe CMU's a top-40 team and this loss isn't quite as bad as it looks right now. But they certainly didn't look like a top-40 team against Arizona a week ago. And you have to beat top 40 teams at home to get to a New Years Day bowl.
That is a strong indication that internet skepticism over a team that was outgained in conference play last year was better founded than the assembled Big Ten Media's assertion that Michigan State was the third-best team in the conference. Not that we needed anyone to tell us that the internet tends to do better research than newspapers. State should get better as Kirk Cousins solidifies his hold on the starting quarterback spot, but after some initial optimism in the comments that post bogs down into pessimism about a ton of things, most prominently the pass rush.
Compounding things for State in their matchup against Michigan: Central Michigan is headed by the Rich Rodriguez coaching tree, also known as Butch Jones, and quarterbacked by Dan LeFevour, a mobile, accurate quarterback that's a more veteran but less hyped version of Tate Forcier. LeFevour was 33 of 46 for 328 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. The State game now looks very winnable.
The move? Freshman Cameron Gordon's seemingly inevitable move to linebacker may be a fait accompli according to MGoPoster Jaggs:
Was at the ND game this weekend and my dad ran into a guy purporting to be Cam Gordon's dad (I have no reason to doubt it was him). The guy told my dad he was a father of a player on the team etc, and my dad asked him who he said his name which my dad forgot but remembered the guy said #84 a linebacker. A quick search of the program and mgoblue.com shows Gordon as the only #84 so sounds like Gordon.
Quick check shows 86 points, which isn't much, but also that this guy's been registered for eight months. Credibility rating: at least moderate. We're still looking for confirmation and will provide it if/when it comes.
Yeesh. I think this was just an mgolicious link. The numbers say, I don't know, something:
3. Inbound links checked daily. The day before I visited, logs for the Chronicle’s WordPress site reported that it had drawn 277 visitors from a local sports blog, 28 from a local school blog and 23 from annarbor.com, the reincarnated Ann Arbor News.
Probably what it says is that AA.com's traffic is far more dispersed, where this site is basically a single framework with varying content presented.
9/12/2009 – Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34 – 2-0
When Michigan headed in at the half down only three because of a confluence of events I saw splattered across "Life on the Margins" in the near future, I wrote the game off. When Michigan turned first and goal from the one into a missed field goal, I wrote the game off. When Armando Allen ran the ball into the endzone and Clausen did his fey little "butt dance," to steal a term from MVictors, I wrote the game off. When LaTerryal Savoy dropped the touchdown pass* that would have given Michigan the win, I was annoyed.
Some things, among them faith and love, reveal themselves only after they form, when some other event makes it clear you have had powerful emotion X about object Y for an indeterminate amount of time. Love tends to brew a long time and reveal itself in spectacularly inopportune fashion. Faith… well, if you let X equal faith and Y equal Tate Forcier, the process is considerably expedited. For the author it came to its enzyme-aided conclusion sometime between Junior Hemingway's second touchdown against Western Michigan and the wild bumper-car rollout that ended in a dart to Savoy and first and goal.
When, exactly, is impossible to tell. Like Denard Robinson, attempting to observe it changes it. But here it is rewarding us with all sorts of dopamine and serotonin and other whatnot on this finest Monday of all Mondays in a fairly long time.
What is up, faith. I am feeling goooooooood.
Rich Rodriguez had spent twenty years earning a little faith as his teams performed, time and again, above their talent level. But the instant he decided to extract himself from what seemed like a poisonous relationship with the rest of the West Virginia athletic department, all of it evaporated.
Almost from the instant Rodriguez arrived on campus the media—first from West Virginia and then locally—painted him as a mercenary, a swearing robot, a rube. It's been covered here a thousand times before so let's just focus on the giant flashing insanity: Rodriguez took a metric ton of crap for breaking his contract, something literally any coach who's ever moved jobs has done. Something that the contract has explicit buyout provisions for. Something that universally-loved John Beilein did one year earlier.
When 3-9 followed the amplitude went up by an order of magnitude, culminating in the Free Press hit job the nation knows and loves. Faith did not exist except in battered, weary pockets. This pocket wavered. It would be impossible not to.
In this space I've alternately mocked and panicked at the idea that external forces or internal dissent could strangle the Rodriguez era in the crib and set Michigan on much the same path Notre Dame has traveled these last 15 years. The parade of inept coaches, inept coaching searches in the frequent interregnums, and mostly unrelenting failure during the brief periods in which the school is not searching for a new inept coach could easily have happened here. Michigan was in the process of chaotic, inept coaching search number one when WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong and Pat White's thumb dumped one of the premiere coaches in college football in Bill Martin's lap and Martin jumped at it without thinking it over.
The public reaction since threatened to undo that stroke of fortune and set Michigan into the spiral that consumed South Bend. The danger was that all those sneering generalists who glanced over from their NBA game to snort "lol" and moved on would actually impact Michigan's ability to reason.
Did it? Will it? It's impossible to tell. Rich Rodriguez and Tate Forcier plan on making the question moot, and have already gone a long way towards doing so.
This is Michigan now, a strange collection of 3.8 GPA kids from New Jersey and Arizona and locals who grew up loving Michigan and kids with dreads from poor, broken places mostly in the south who have one way to get out. Receivers who score game-winning touchdowns and almost lose their cool before apologetically handing the ball to the referee, sir. Woop-gone cuts when the defensive end beats you to the corner in cover zero. The fetishization of work to the point where the S&C coach is the target of adulation so intense that you can call something "Barwis Porn" and not be 100% joking. Hype videos and piped in music. Shotgun hurry-up and quarterbacks slipping by linebacker kill shots. The circle of terror, chest bumps, awkward press conferences, a tear here and there. This is it. This is block-M Michigan.
It's not all great. But take it from a guy who remains a programmer in spirit: life is tradeoffs. Give Rich Rodriguez six dwarves, some baling wire, a walk-on safety from Curtice, Ohio, and someone to spatter paint all over everything and we're good. This is a program of moxie and MacGuyver.
While Terrelle Pryor labors in an offense that has him throw 25 times and run nine against USC, previously run-manic Rich Rodriguez has taken his collection of half-man-half-velcro tight ends and pounding fullbacks and moosebeast tailbacks and forged them into a machine that, for two games at least, is the explosive equivalent of his White-Slaton heyday. He has integrated this crazy wheeling Jackson Pollock of a quarterback to the tune of 70% completions, five touchdowns, and one interception in his first two games in college. In the process he's made the men who looked at twenty years of wildly successful offenses, wildly successful programs at every level of college football and saw nothing but an inflexible, lucky hick look like fools.
He's repaid the faith shown him by his team, by the guys who stayed and waved their arms madly and jumped up and down last week when the students took up a "Rich Rodriguez" chant and did not stop until most of the stadium was doing it. They stayed, and they're on their way, and it doesn't take much faith to say: this is Michigan now.
via reader Nick Stratton
*(It would turn out to be tipped but from the stands all I saw was a ball hit Savoy between the eight and the two and ricochet away; the crowd's reaction was such that I thought Notre Dame had somehow intercepted it for a split second.)
BULLETS THAT CHANGE DIRECTION SIX TIME A SECOND
- 10,000 cocktails to the guy working the replay board who got the Armando Allen screen touchdown on the board almost before the play was over, thus causing the stadium to explode and Rodriguez to take a timeout that would eventually save Michigan four points. Those four points were the final margin of victory and while there's a chance the replay would have come down on its own, the quick thinking of that guy made it inevitable. Someone ferret out this guy's name so he never has to buy a drink in town again.
To really discuss what's wrong with Weis I have to dig into the poker metaphors. If Carr was a weak-tight calling station—a guy who doesn't take many risks and can be easily dissuaded from taking them—Weis is a loose-aggressive donkey—a guy who just bets and bets and bets and rides it. The LAG (loose-aggressive) is a better player, much tougher to win against, but is prone to huge, fatal mistakes. So the problem with that second-and-ten bomb was not that Weis threw, it's the sort of throw he called for. Running or whatever strips Michigan of its timeouts and has relatively little value compared to a first down. A first down just about ends the game. I had a perpetual frustration with Carr's playcalling in similar situations because it was run run run punt almost without fail, or possibly run run third and ten pass punt. So a slant or a hitch or some sort of high-percentage pass that can break for a first down is a great call.
The bomb is going all in with a middle pair after you get a couple overs on the flop. (I was in the World Series of Poker once!!!) It might work. But if it does, it's not because you're a good poker player.
Weis is a guy who thinks "they'll never see my 4-6 unsuited coming." And he thinks it all the time. I know, I know: Gus Hansen exists. The thing about poker on TV is that it throws out all the "boring" hands and therefore disguises Hanson's insidious brilliance. I've seen all of Weis's hands. He's not Gus Hansen. I mean, even if you're going to throw that, why throw it against Warren instead of the guy you've been torching all game?
- On the other hand: I haven't seen anything from Rodriguez yet that makes me think similar thoughts. I have instant go-punt reactions on all fourth downs and get very upset when the coach in question defies an obvious one and haven't been very upset with Rodriguez yet. He may call a hotel a "ho-tel" but he's a better poker player than Carr or Weis. Even when Michigan was up eleven, it seemed like they needed one more touchdown to win, and it appeared Rodriguez thought the exact same thing.
- Speaking of Beilein: there have been persistent rumors that Beilein and Rodriguez have a frosty relationship, but one of the things I caught as I watched the team leave the field was the two coaches meeting around the forty yard line and sharing a deep, lingering man-hug. I don't think that rumor holds much water anymore.
- I'd been bitching about Forcier thinking he's in high school on many of his runs. Often he had an opportunity to cut upfield for solid yardage but instead tried to pop outside a corner or safety and turned it into a three-yard gain because he can't just outrun members of the opposition secondary anymore. (There's a play in UFR last week where I question whether a similar incident was a good idea.) So, yeah, a little smug on that touchdown run after I went WOOOOO a lot.
- Cissoko… man. I've seen a fair number of people defending him but he was bad. Maybe I'll think different after the UFR but the guy got torched. Hopefully that's an effect of going up against two crazy good receivers and a quarterback who wasn't so terrible himself. I don't think so, though. He was lost.
- I really hope I see even more holding than they called on UFR because Clausen had all day basically all day. I vastly underestimated the pressure he'd face; when he did get pressure he just chucked it OOB. So I was kind of right about that.
- Brandon Minor is way better than any other back on the roster. Q: why did Michigan go away from the up-the-middle gashing that worked so well in the third quarter? Notre Dame was clearly vulnerable to runs that went directly at them but did well against the stretches.
- Warren, on the other hand, basically lived up to the hype this blog perpetuated.
- It's amazing how vastly different real live Notre Dame fans are from their internet fanbase. The worst thing you can say about them is that a disproportionate number look like they're huge Steve Miller Band fans. The worst things you can say about Notre Dame fans on the internet would take thousands of words to describe.
Charlie Weis caused the potato famine, says one Irish fan. Also check the Chips shirt.
MVictors wasn't in the press box for this one and thanks God for that stroke of luck. Also check the spectacular Brandon Graham mugging picture and the guy in the comments who claims Armando Allen called the student section "faggots" to draw his flag. Can anyone in the front of the student section confirm that?
Central Michigan beat Michigan State on a 42-yard field goal with 3 seconds left. As the game’s final minute ticked away before the start of the game here, news media in the press box gathered around televisions to watch.
Central Michigan initially missed a potential game-winning 47-yard field goal, but got to try the kick again after Michigan State was penalized for being offside. The announcement of the penalty that set up the game-winner prompted clapping and an announcement in the press box.
“Cheering is not allowed in the press box,” the announcer said, “but it is right now.”
Something something pride something fall.
I grabbed a bunch of complaining from ND Nation in anticipation of a flush, which did happen.