national champs baby
Formation notes: Almost entirely shotgun this week. As far as OSU's defense goes: they run a nickel package on every down with Tyler Moeller the "star", a sort of hybrid safety/LB. OSU had two main alignments, one with Moeller over the slot and one with him in the box. Moeller slot == Nickel. Moeller box == 4-3. "Plus" means a safety has walked down all the way into the box.
Substitution notes: Status quo on the line and at WR. Toussaint was obviously the main guy at RB; Hopkins got some time as a single blocking back on passing downs and Denard runs. Not sure if Smith is still dinged up or if that's a shift in deployment. Moore seemed to be the second TE in this game.
In lieu of anything interesting on the Michigan side of the ball, here's an oddity from OSU: planetoid DT Jonathan Hankins spent almost the entire game playing DE. No idea why. While he made some plays out there he was useless in pass rush.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel over plus||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||5|
|Barnett rolled down as another LB with the SLB over the slot. Michigan pulls Schofield and Molk; Odoms runs an end around fake. Koger(+1) gets a good downblock on the playside DE, opening the corner. Toussaint has the cornerback; Schofield(+1) has Barnett. Barnett bugs out and is about to go for a ride; Molk(-1) does not see Sabino coming from the inside and runs past him. Sabino was slightly delayed by the end-around fake and he can't cut Denard off until he picks up a nice gain; could have been big time if block is made.|
|RUN+: Koger, Toussaint||RUN-: Molk|
|M31||2||5||Shotgun twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Zone read belly||Toussaint||0|
Odoms motions for the triple option look. Hankins is lined up at DE and is the unblocked zone guy. Weird. He shuffles down. Shazier is in the gray area as far as a handoff goes; playside CB is hard on the edge and will eat up a pitch. This is supposed to be a belly given the blocking but it's not there; MLB is unblocked and Toussaint has to dance around to get back to the LOS. The blocking does not make sense with Toussaint's angle of attack. Not sure who that screwup is on but assume Toussaint since the blocking is coherent. RPS -1; I can't figure out how Michigan is going to get yards here.
|M31||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Slant||Odoms||Inc|
|An accurate dart; Odoms is blatantly interfered with without a call. Refs -2. (CA+, 0, protection 1/1) Odoms got an illegal motion call so this would have offset.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 11 min 1st Q. Three and out plus sack plus crappy punt sets Michigan up with good field position on the next drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O47||1||10||Pro set||2||1||2||4-3 over plus||Pass||Flare screen||Toussaint||6|
Actually a T formation(!) until Hemingway motions out. Michigan runs a delay fake to Hopkins and then hits Toussaint on the flare screen. Hankins is the playside DE again and gets chopped; he's useless out there. Shazier sucks up. Gallon whiffs a block in space, as does Schofield, and Toussaint doesn't realize he's got a lot of room behind Molk, so he ends up running into the corner after a decent gain. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN-: Gallon, Schofield(0.5)
|O41||2||4||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||41|
|Nickelback comes down off the slot to show blitz and then just forms up as LB. Short side corner does blitz. Hopkins ends up kicking him out as Denard pulls. Shazier covers Toussaint; Omameh is pulling and ends up ignoring Sabino, instead choosing to block Shazier. Robinson(+3) jukes Sabino as Omameh(+1) latches onto Shazier and pulls the Te'o special by driving him into a safety; Toussaint also improvises to help get that guy blocked. Gallon(+2) puts Barnett on the ground and that's all she wrote. Lewan(+1) crushed Hankins inside BTW. I thought Omameh screwed this up, which is why Denard had to juke, but it worked out in the end. I'm not sure about the screwup now; more later. RPS +1. Picture paged. Replay w/ Gallon block.|
|RUN+: Robinson(3), Omameh, Lewan, Gallon(2)||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 9 min 1st Q. Safety gives M 9-7 lead and good field position on next drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M48||1||10||Denard jet||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Jet sweep||Robinson||5|
|Basically the same play they started with from a new formation. Boise State "just plays" theory. OSU sends a guy off the edge who sets up in good position, making either the bounce or the cut upfield awkward. Michigan now running at Simon, not Hankins, and that's a big difference. Moore(-1) is owned. Denard has to bounce outside. Molk(+1) gets a shove on the contain guy Smith is blocking, giving Denard(+1) a little room before a safety comes up to contain; Smith's guy disengages to tackle.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Molk||RUN-: Moore|
|O47||2||5||Ace triple stack||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||2|
|This is dead since the corner is sitting on it and is right on top of it to tackle on the snap. Not actually sure how this gained any yards at all. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)|
|O45||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power||Robinson||2|
|Well blocked and should actually be a nice gainer except Hopkins(-1) starts blocking the edge contain guy Odoms is already on, leaving Shazier free to flow to the hole. Koger(+1) got an excellent seal of Simon. Omameh did a meh job on his pull but did get a helmet on Sabino; Sabino gets playside and impacts Robinson, so when Shazier bangs into the pair their momentum stops dead.|
|RUN+: Koger||RUN-: Hopkins|
|O43||4||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||5-3 eagle||Run||FB dive||Hopkins||3|
|Easy because Omameh(+1) and Huyge(+1) crush one DT; NT submarines himself and Hankins isn't terribly useful; Molk(+0.5) gets enough of a shove on the MLB to prevent anyone from coming over the top and Hopkins gets it easily.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge, Molk(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O40||1||10||Denard jet||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Counter pitch||Smith||3|
|No sale. Shazier reads it and gets outside of Lewan, flowing down to tackle when the corner maintains contain. Still an okay gain.|
|O37||2||7||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||Rollout hitch||Roundtree||8|
|With Simon doubled and Toussaint screening the edge is a given here since the slot LB is dropping into coverage. Denard finds Roundtree for a first down; throw is low and has to be dug out. Maybe that's intentional since he's keeping it away from coverage... but probably not. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||3|
|Odoms in motion underneath and after the handoff Robinson fakes a bubble screen. Which was CRAZY OPEN. Borges did this to spite Heiko. The run is close to working too; expecting belly the two linebackers end up on the backside as Toussaint hits the gap between Schofield and Omameh; Shazier has bolted up into the backside of the play and is sealed away by Omameh. Schofield(-1) got shoved into the backfield, however, and Hankins has both gaps covered. He reaches out to slow Toussaint, allowing the safety to fill. Toussaint(+0.5) breaks a tackle to get some yards after contact.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-: Schofield|
|O26||2||7||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||Post||Hemingway||26|
|Play action. Robinson has all day; great protection from the line and Smith lights up the LB when he comes on a delayed blitz. Live I thought this was late from Robinson but it's not really, Koger just screwed his route up by running a seam instead of what I'm sure must have been an in or something. With no safety over the top and Hemingway inside of his man all he has to do is box out. Denard underthrows it a smidge but nothing too bad; Hemingway's adjustment is simple. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 16-7|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M7||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||2|
|Schofield heads to the second level immediately and Molk(+1) has to block the NT one on one; he goes playside and Molk locks him up; Toussaint(-1) has to cut behind. He reads this late, slowing up in the hole and gingerly picking his way through the traffic. This delay allows Simon, unblocked on the backside, to hug Lewan's hip and then come around. (Koger is headed outside to potentially block contain guy Shazier, but no keep.) There's a hole because of the overplay by the NT and Omameh/Huyge comboing the DT; Omameh(-1) gets out on the MLB but is shed easily, robbing Toussaint of the ability to fall forward for a couple more or run through Simon's ankle tackle attempt.|
|RUN+: Molk||RUN-: Toussaint, Omameh|
|M9||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||2|
|Okay, this is the second straight time the pulling guard has blocked the guy the read options off instead of heading to the second level. Michigan got away with it the first time; not so much here. Koger is blown up by Simon; Denard reads Klein shooting outside and pulls; Schofield(-1) blocks him anyway. Klein is so confused he runs after Toussaint well after the pull. This leaves Denard in a lot of space against Johnson, the safety. He makes a wrong move and Johnson makes a great open field tackle to prevent a big gain; Robinson fumbles but Michigan gets lucky on the recovery. Omameh(+1) got a good driving block to open up more room. RPS+1; this should have worked even with the screwup. (If it actually was.) BWS picture-paged.|
|RUN+: Omameh||RUN-: Schofield, Robinson(3)|
|M11||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Sack||--||-4|
|Koger motions out. Michigan rolls out to that side and gets plenty of time; Robinson can't find anyone open and eventually eats a sack. Hopkins could have done a better job cutting Simon, I guess. (TA, N/A, protection ½, Hopkins -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 16-7, EO1Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||3|
|Ten man football. Backside DT slants inside Lewan(-1) and Schofield(-1) and charges down the line; Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) have beaten up the other DT and Simon has to contain; Grady(+0.5) comes down on the safety and there is a developing gap. Toussaint has to run away from the backside DT and this gives Ohio State time to rally.|
|RUN+: Omameh(0.5), Molk(0.5), Gallon(0.5)||RUN-: Lewan, Schofield|
|M23||2||7||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||PA scramble||Robinson||5|
|After an inverted veer fake Robinson pulls and sets up to throw. I think Robinson needs to ride the fake longer here to get the DE to commit to Toussaint; as it is he pulls and has that guy plus a linebacker scraping over with just one blocker. DE comes in on him; Robinson takes off. Without the pressure, I think he's got Hopkins on a wheel route as Shazier is confused as hell. (SCR, N/A, protection 0/2, Robinson(!) -1, Team -1)|
|M28||3||2||Shotgun 2-back 2TE||2||2||1||5-3 eagle||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
Simon blows up Koger(-2), who loses him outside immediately; Simon takes out the puller and forces a bounce that Robinson can manage because Toussaint(+1) got a good block and he is Denard Robinson. He gets the first down before fumbling; this time Michigan is not so lucky. Shazier gets all limpy on this play. He'll continue but he won't be full strength. (Robinson only loses two on this play because he got a +1 for the run before the -3 for the fumble.)
RUN-: Koger(2), Robinson(2)
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 16-10, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even plus||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||1|
One high with Moeller out on the slot and Johnson walking down. Sabino does a good job of getting outside Koger's block and Grady(-1) totally whiffs on the slot guy, so Denard can't just go outside. Would probably have gotten decent yardage if Grady gets anything on Moeller.
|M22||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||PA TE flat||Koger||7|
|Both safeties back, for the most part. OSU blitzes a linebacker and has Simon drop off as a DT heads out on the edge for contain. No linebackers means the short flip to Koger is open; Robinson takes it. Moeller does a good job of filling; you'd still want Koger to maybe shake this guy a little and get more yards here. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|M29||3||2||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||3-4 nickel press||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||9|
|DL in a 3-4 alignment with Simon in a standup position on the edge. OSU offsides; no call. Refs -1. Their early movement reveals a slant/stunt that gets Simon past Huyge(-1); Huyge does keep shoving the guy and eases Robinson's step past him. With a DL upfield there's a running lane Robinson hits for the first, picking up another five by dodging a tackler. (SCR, N/A, protection ½, Huyge -1)|
|M38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even plus||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||46|
|Sabino buries himself in the line on the counter action. Schofield(+1) seals one DT; Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) the other. Huyge(-1) gets chucked by the playside DE and falls to the ground; a pulling Lewan(+2) improvises to pick him up. Shazier is in a lot of space and Toussaint can go either side of the Lewan block because it's at the LOS and Lewan is shoving the guy downfield; Shazier tries to maintain leverage, forces the cutback, and slips. I don't think the slip mattered; Toussaint(+2) was one step and gone upfield. Barnett can't close him down because he hesitated, thinking Denard might have it. RPS +3.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5), Lewan(2), Toussaint(2)||RUN-: Huyge|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||2|
|This is all about Simon. Schofield's(+0.5) guy gets upfield and is sealed away; Lewan(+0.5) gets downfield with alacrity to seal Shazier. Molk deals with the backside DT easily enough. There's Simon, unblocked, Koger on Sabino, and Hemingway(-1) on Moeller; Hemingway loses Moeller quickly to the outside and Toussaint has to cut upfield. Koger's block is okay; Simon plays this perfectly to get the handoff and still make the play on Toussaint on the cutback; he reaches out and spins him 360 with an arm tackle on the shoulder, allowing the safety to fill. I think Denard has to ride the mesh longer here to make Simon pick. He's the only guy who can deal with this.|
|RUN+: Schofield(0.5), Lewan(0.5)||RUN-: Hemingway|
|O14||2||8||Ace twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle TE flat||Koger||3|
|Nine guys tight to the line. Michigan runs PA because that's what they always do from this formation. Huyge(-2) inexplicably lets a DT go to block Shazier, DT pressures, Denard sidesteps. More guys come in now (Huyge whiffed on Shazier, too) but the threat of the run pulls Simon up and Koger is open on the sideline for a short catch and some YAC. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)|
|O11||3||5||Shotgun trips bunch||1||0||4||Okie||Pass||Drag||Odoms||5|
|Three guys are sent up the middle; Molk and Hopkins pick up two. The last guy is unblocked as Schofield is blocking air with a DT dropping out. A guy is in Denard's face; he calmly hits Odoms on a drag route for the first. Ball is behind him but not too bad; Odoms gets hit by the safety and has to juggle and re-catch the ball as he goes to the ground. Tough, tough catch. (CA, 1, protection 0/2, team -2)|
|O6||1||G||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||4-5 umbrella||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||0|
|Backside blitz sends contain DE Simon inside; Lewan(+1) blocks him. Koger, heading backside picks off the blitzer. Toussaint(-1) has a cut backside for six and misses it. Huyge(-1) has gotten shoved into the backfield and lost inside position on his DE; Toussaint bounces into a lot of trouble.|
|RUN+: Lewan||RUN-: Toussaint, Huyge|
|O6||2||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even plus||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||6|
|DE upfield; obvious keep. Sabino heads outside for Hopkins, who he must be keying on to maintain leverage. Safety Johnson has no idea who has the ball and takes a step outside well after the mesh point. Huyge(+1) gets a good downfield block on Shazier, pancaking him; Omameh(+0.5) did enough with the playside DT, and Robinson(+1) strolls in. RPS +1.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-17, 3 min 2nd Q. Michigan gets the ball with little over a minute left inside their 20 and runs the clock out to end the half, then gets the opening kickoff in the second.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||8|
|DE is Hankins and he does not get upfield, so the handoff is made. Koger(+1) blocks Shazier, Omameh(+1) pulls and blocks Hankins, again leaving a rolled up safety one on one with Toussaint. Toussaint(+2) jukes him out of his jock with a jump cut reminiscent of his high school film. He's now on the edge; Sabino just manages to come around traffic to tackle with help from the corner, who chucked Hemingway upfield.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Koger, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M28||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
|Odoms in motion for an end around fake. Denard keeps and it's power. OSU blitzes. Omameh(+2) crushes blitzing MLB to the ground, removing him and destroying backside pursuit. Playside DT slides outside, creating a big hole in the middle. Unfortunately, Koger(-1) is assigned to him and can't deal with it. He peels off; both Schofield and Toussaint see him as a threat so he ends up taking three blockers. Simon is to the outside of this so it's not that bad but it does leave Johnson unblocked. Robinson has a lot of space and should probably try to jet straight upfield. Instead he goes with the bounce and Moeller tracks him down, but after he picks up the first.|
|RUN+: Omameh(2)||RUN-: Koger|
|M31||1||10||Ace triple stack||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||8|
|Hemingway blocks the near guy this time as eight OSU defenders are dealing with the zone fake. Odoms... heads inside. Argh. One of the two WRs has to go to the safety. Neither does. He's still about eight yards off on the catch and Gallon does juke him to the outside, but the delay allows other members of the secondary to fill, turning a potential big play into a decent one. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1.)|
|RUN+: Gallon||RUN-: Odoms|
|M39||2||2||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||4|
|DE comes down so the give is made. Shazier heads outside to contain and is kicked by Hopkins(+0.5); Schofield(+0.5) comes around in time to bump the MLB. Zone stuff holds that DE inside long enough. Johnson is overhanging close to the LOS and fills quickly; Toussaint tries to bounce and Shazier closes him down. Johnson gets dinged, paving the way for Dominicoe.|
|RUN+: Hopkins(0.5), Schofield(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even plus||Run||Triple option dive||Toussaint||4|
|Or sort of anyway; Hopkins in motion on the speed and Toussaint runs after a handoff I bet a dollar is not a read. Toussaint sees nothing inside and bounces; Huyge(+0.5) did get the corner by not giving ground but this is not a slam dunk. Toussaint(+0.5) ducks under a Shazier tackle to turn a couple into a couple more.|
|RUN+: Huyge(0.5), Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M47||2||6||Shotgun twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Triple option keeper||Robinson||5|
|Virtually the same play with Odoms coming in motion to replace Hopkins and a Denard pull. Not sure if this is a real read or not. Moeller blitzes off the edge; Koger pulls across, forcing him to delay but not actually getting a block. Robinson(+1) sees Lewan(+1) has shoved Simon down the line and shoots directly upfield, taking a shot from the MLB as he recovers from the playfake. Rolled up safety finishes it off short of the first, but very close.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Robinson||RUN-:|
|O48||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
|Odoms motion, fake jet sweep action. Lewan(+1) and Schofield(+0.5) double the playside DT, busting him back and sealing him; Lewan then pops off to the second level. Molk(+0.5) gets an easy seal on a guy lined up outside of him. Robinson leaps over the prone DT Schofield is sitting on and gets it easily.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schofield(0.5), Molk(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE seam||Koger||26|
|Blitz off the slot draws Lewan and leaves Schofield(-1) with Simon; Simon gets a dangerous rush. All for naught as Koger drives past Shazier after a not particularly convincing fake and Robinson lofts a perfect touch pass to him for a big gain. (DO, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1, RPS +1.) Shazier is in good position here but the throw is very good; need to make that fake better.|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||6|
|End around fake to Odoms as Molk and Schofield pull outside of Lewan and Koger. Lewan(+1) eliminates his DT. Koger almost loses Simon but manages to push him past the play as he threatens to TFL. OSU flows well to the play; Toussaint(+0.5) kicks out one LB and Schofield(+0.5) gets the MLB but those two have made creases difficult to find. Molk is also running at this situation; both he and Denard run up the back of Schofield and lurch the pile forward for a decent gain.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schofield(0.5), Robinson(0.5), Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O13||2||4||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||4-5 umbrella||Pass||Triple option pitch||Odoms||-7|
Moeller moves late to the edge and blitzes off the corner, which forces a pitch from Robinson about a half second after the mesh point. The pitch is wildly off. I'm not sure why he kept; having that guy coming off the edge is bad news even if the pitch is completed and the handoff is the move.
|O20||3||11||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Dig||Odoms||20|
|OSU gergs it, dropping Simon into a short zone and attempting to rush with three DTs (Hankins is still playing DE). With Hopkins protecting that's doubles for everyone and a billion years in the pocket. Robinson surveys and finally throws a dart to Odoms in between four defenders, two of whom derp each other, allowing Odoms the last three yards for the touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 3/3) Replay.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 30-24, 9 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M9||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||1|
|Molk(+1) buries the NT. This has the unfortunate effect of taking out Schofield's legs from behind and freeing Hankins to flow down the line. Omameh(-1) whiffs on Sabino on the second level. Huyge(-1) is in a stalemate with the playside DE, who successfully forces the play back inside as Huyge kicks Shazier. Hankins whiffs as Toussaint jukes; Sabino makes the play. Somewhat unfortunate.|
|RUN+: Molk||RUN-: Huyge, Omameh|
|M10||2||9||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Nickel over||Run||QB draw||Robinson||10|
|This screams QB draw but OSU can't do much about it. I assume this is a draw but the receivers mostly go into routes; Odoms is the only guy mountain goating up. Michigan doubles the NT and runs at the gap between that guy and the DE as OSU shifts their line; when neither of those guys fights into the gap it opens up wide. Huge room and Shazier can't close the space down. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel over||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||22|
|Omameh(+0.5) kicks the playside DT easily as he slants. DE and Shazier have to go out for the fake; Sabino picks up a hypothetical -2 by not being in the hole; he goes for Toussaint as well and this opens up huge. Huyge(+1) gets a downfield block on the filling safety. Schofield again goes for the DE; not sure I understand this but it seems like that is the way it's coached. Robinson(+2) jets for the secondary, getting a good block from Roundtree(+1) downfield. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Omameh(0.5), Molk(0.5), Roundtree, Huyge||RUN-:|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple option dive||Toussaint||3|
|Hopkins motions as the pitch guy. Definitely good decision to hand as a LB is scraping over and they've brought Moeller off the slot. Huyge has a tough job as OSU aligns their playside DE inside of him and scrapes Shazier over the top of that, so the DE gets penetration and the bounce is not there. With Schofield(-1) getting busted back by Hankins there is no room; Toussaint(+0.5) wisely just burrows straight upfield, which gets Michigan a few yards when the pile is shoved forward.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-: Schofield|
|M45||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA rollout out||Dileo||4|
|Robinson's throwing on the move to his left, which is awkward, and leaves this ball short and upfield. It's catchable but Dileo is taken off his feet and denied the chance to turn upfield for a shot at the first down; probably third and one, though. (MA, 2, protection N/A)|
|M49||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel even tight||Pass||Corner||Grady||Inc|
|Pure man from OSU with no one deeper than six yards. OSU sends two blitzers against five blockers, the second delayed, and there is obviously a free guy. Molk blocks both, actually, letting the initial blitzer go as Shazier comes. Not much he could do. No one is open, really—he could try Hemingway on a hitch and rely on him to box out his defender, but he's stopped and covered—and he tosses a corner route to Grady that's OOB. Torn between IN, TA, PR here. I guess it's (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1) but this is about as understandable of an IN as you can have. I also wonder about these routes. You know you're getting man, so a slant or a drag maybe? Hemingway had an opportunity to pick the guy covering Hopkins's flare but did not. RPS –1.|
|Drive Notes: PUNT DISASTER, 30-24, 1 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun triple stack||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||3|
|Odoms in motion for end around fake. Simon does a good job of stringing out the edge here; Koger(-0.5) cannot get a handle on him. This really slows things up and makes for a lot of people in the area when decision time comes. Simon does end up falling and Schofield is moving out; I think Denard makes a bad cut here as Toussaint(+0.5) got a good kick and the charging safety is coming up inside of Schofield; if he follows his lead guy he will burrow for decent yardage. Instead he cuts behind and gets tackled just past the LOS, almost losing the ball. Tough read in a brief window, but still lost yardage.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-: Koger(0.5), Robinson(0.5)|
|M28||2||7||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 under||Pass||Waggle deep out||Hemingway||20|
|No real play action fake, just Denard spinning around to the outside as Schofield pulls to provide some edge protection. Simon dives inside and Schofield has an easy time kicking the contain-concerned LB upfield. Denard pulls up and finds a wide open Hemingway about 20 yards downfield. Better thrown ball picks up a bunch of YAC; at this depth that's the difference between a DO and (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). You can argue Denard is throwing the safe ball here and I get you.|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Zone stretch||Toussaint||11|
|Oh argh argh. Perfect time to call this as OSU sends a blitzer straight up the middle who Molk(+2) seals and disposes of. Backside guys are slanting outside and not useful; Omameh(+1) gets a seal on the other linebacker, who was almost moving away from the playside. Hankins is pushing hard to the the playside and forces it back inside, into the cavern just described. Lewan has a block on Moeller on the edge but Toussaint(+1) can't cut upfield and back outside quick enough to not bang into it; he stumbles a bit. Grady(-0.5) loses his block downfield and Hopkins(-1) doesn't block the safety, instead going to double the player Hemingway already has. Toussaint is stumbling forward when the corner and safety converge on him. RPS +2; Michigan was a block and a half from one BILLION yards.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Toussaint||RUN-: Hopkins, Grady(0.5)|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||10|
|Robinson delayed by a stunt that gets Hankins thrumbling his way into the backfield. OL does a reasonable job with it and the stunt does open up a big running lane once Robinson(+1) gets around it, so RPS push. Omameh(+1) deals with the other DT well, holding his block a long time. Molk's looking around for someone to block and finds no one; Shazier beats Toussaint thanks to the delay but is delayed himself; Denard runs through his arm tackle attempt. Safety fills near the sticks. Hemingway(+1) gets a great, extended block on his guy. RPS +1 overall.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh, Hemingway||RUN-: Toussaint(0.5)|
|O31||2||In||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||5 + 13 Pen|
|Line slants away from the play; Schofield(+1) buries the playside DT. Hankins has slid inside and blows up Omameh(push, he is not expecting to deal with a cutback and gets on the wrong side) but the Schofield block means Toussaint(+1) can cut behind that easily. He picks up the first, at which point unblocked dudes converge since Toussaint has cut away from his blocking. Shazier rips his head off for 15 more. RPS +1|
|RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield||RUN-:|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 over||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||3|
|Cover zero with man. Michigan lets Hankins go and Koger(+1) flares out on Shazier, eventually pancaking him. When Hankins gets too aggressive Denard pulls. Good decision but Lewan moves to the second level and ends up blocking no one because his assumption is he's walling the defender off from the zone. Robinson ends up tackled by both those guys in space.|
|M10||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||6|
|Simon comes HARD off the edge, unblocked, and crushes Toussaint in the mesh point. Denard pulls at the last second a la MSU 4th down conversion. Robinson gets bumped, too, and instead of heading straight upfield into open space he has to orbit around this mess. Shazier comes underneath a block; Robinson runs past him, jersey tugged but not enough. He cuts behind Roundtree(+1) blocking a DB and gets chopped down by the last man, Barnett. Dang, Denard(+3). Hemingway did a good job of moving on to another DB after Shazier got upfield, creating some of that space Denard used.|
|RUN+: Robinson(3), Hemingway, Roundtree||RUN-:|
|M4||3||1||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Pass||Waggle TE corner||Koger||4|
|Hopkins and Toussaint offset, in a semi-pro-style thing. Michigan runs a deeply bizarre play action fake with OL blocking like it's a sweep and Toussaint coming in a counter motion; Koger releases downfield and is wide open for six. Confusion. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 37-27, 8 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Sweep||Toussaint||2|
Unbalanced. M tries to pull Molk and Schofield; Hankins goes straight upfield and removes Molk from the play while simultaneously forcing Toussaint outside. Koger(-1) is on Simon and Simon swims past him; Toussaint can only run to the corner. He does well to get a couple yards. RPS -1.
|M22||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Pass||Rollout corner||Dileo||28|
|M gets the corner, at least enough. Denard pulls up and fires as Sabino starts rushing at him, finding Dileo just breaking open in front of the safety and hitting him in the safest place possible; Dileo has to make a tough catch to bring the ball in. NFL all around. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|50||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||-1|
|Only six in the box and this should be money. Not so much. With the TE to the same side as the RB, this is a situation in which a cutback is your primary read off the handoff; since it's made the DE is upfield and since Omameh(+1) got a good block on the backside DT it's there. Toussaint(-2) cuts to the wrong side of Schofield, robs Molk of his blocking angle, and gets swarmed. Denard even cuts the backside DE! Cut back, Fitz!|
|M49||2||11||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||16|
|Shazier blitzes and is picked up by Hopkins(+1). Hankins is sliding into the lane; Molk(+1) blocks him into Schofield(+0.5) and then releases. Denard(+1) into the second level. He sets up Molk's downfield block and glides to an easy first down. RPS +1.|
|O37||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||20|
|Moeller over the slot, leaving just two LBs and the overhang corner plus a safety in the area. Omameh(+2) and Huyge(+2) destroy the playside DT. Molk(+1) throws Hankins to the ground. This plus a good read from Toussaint and the OSU LBs flowing hard to the intended hole gives a cutback lane that is hit with authority; Lewan(+1) walled off Simon on the backside with help from Denard's waggle motion. Toussaint into the secondary, where he's barely roped down.|
|RUN+: Toussaint, Lewan, Omameh(2), Huyge(2)||RUN-:|
|O17||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||2|
|Well blocked but eighth guy in the box plus power from the I equals bad. Koger(+0.5) flares out on Moeller; Schofield(+1) seals Hankins; Omameh(+1) makes a much better pull, getting to the hole as fast as possible, getting a block on Sabino. Hopkins(+0.5) kicks Simon and this should work except for the unaccounted-for safety. RPS -1.|
|RUN+: Koger(0.5), Hopkins(0.5), Koger (0.5), Schofield.||RUN-:|
|O15||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB power||Robinson||11|
|Odoms end around fake. OSU has two LBs at the LOS and they blow themselves out of the play. Toussaint(+1) takes on a charging, unblocked Simon at exactly the right spot and shoves him out of the play upfield. Koger(+1) and Lewan(+1) donkey Hankins. Schofield(+1) seals blitzing Shazier. Denard has all of the room. Omameh(+1) gets a good block on the safety; Robinson cuts to the wrong side of that block and turns this from a TD into not quite a TD. I am not that mad since he plows inside the five. Push there. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Lewan, Koger, Toussaint, Schofield||RUN-:|
|O4||1||G||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Goal line||Run||QB power||Robinson||-1|
A massive pile of bodies. Hankins beats Koger(-1) upfield. Schofield gets slanted under. A blitzing LB gets past Molk and takes out the pulling Omameh, removing any cutback lanes. Hopkins(-0.5) should pound the dude Schofield has sort of lost and helped the burrowing, but it's pretty much a lost cause by then. RPS -1.
RUN-: Koger, Hopkins(0.5)
|O5||2||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||5|
|NT slants outside and live I thought this was Toussaint making a great play; it's not, its Schofield(+2) reacting to push the slanting NT past the play. Toussaint(+1) does cut past the problem smoothly, but it's Schofield adjusting that makes this. With the NT gone it's Molk(+1) owning a blitzing LB and Huyge(+1) getting a downfield block on Shazier that gets Toussaint into the endzone. Sort of, anyway. There are two angles, one of which is obviously out and one of which is obviously in. SURPRISE: it's based on the angle of the camera. Refs -2.|
|RUN+: Molk, Schofield(2), Toussaint, Huyge||RUN-:|
|O1||3||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Bootleg||Robinson||1 (pen -25!)|
This gets the corner; Omameh(-2) does hold the guy on the edge. Watson does plug this guy. I kind of wish they just did the QB sneak. The downside there is nil. RPS -1.
|O25||3||G||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel even||Pass||Throwaway||Roundtree||Inc|
|I'm surprised this is a throw instead of free ten yards given the situation, but they go for it; Robinson has no one except maybe a check down and is being pursued so he just chucks it OOB. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 40-34, 2 min 4th Q|
ALL OF THE POINTS
All of the points. Michigan had not scored that many points against Ohio State since a 58-6 whipping by Fritz Crisler and company in 1946. If you give the safety to the defense 2006 beats it and 2000 ties it, but then you've got the whole touchdown fiasco.
And what's more, that was a short game. Michigan had only ten drives. None of them were turnover-spawned and many of them were long. Michigan put up 460 yards of offense. Against Ohio State. In ten drives.
How did this happen?
Remember the 2005 Rose Bowl, when Michigan felt the wrath of Vince Young? While Young did put up 192 rushing yards what lost Michigan the game was the invincible robot going 16 of 28 for 180 yards in the air.
Invincible robot chart?
Invincible robot chart.
[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
|Notre Dame '11||6||7(1)||1||6(1)||5||1||1||1||-||50%|
|Ohio State '11||3||10(3)||2||1||-||2||-||-||1||77%|
Lethal, lethal, lethal. His one IN was a corner route thrown to Grady on a third and medium when everyone was covered and he had an unblocked blitzer coming up the middle. His two MAs were completions. His DOs were fantastic. Finding Odoms on third and eleven was the best:
He sees that linebacker vacate his zone to chase Hemingway and lasers it in. Pray this is a consistent thing.
Meanwhile in open versions of Hemingway:
Various Buckeyes on twitter bemoaned the fact that Denard missed Koger so badly that he hit Hemingway, which is laughable, man.
Robinson dealt with a lot of pressure effectively, scooting out for a scramble and calmly hitting Odoms for a critical third down conversion in the redzone. There is nothing to criticize in his passing this game. You know what that performance warrants? The "Denard Robinson killed Tacopants" tag.
So… we have a pattern now. In the beginning of the year Denard had no idea what to do with this passing offense and his lack of comfort screwed up his mechanics. As he progressed and Borges adapted to his strengths the comfort level rose and he hit a plateau of totally acceptable performances before lighting up OSU. The progress is undeniable. He'll regress a bit against VT but if he nudges his DSR above 70% it's time to quietly hope he can have a ridiculous career capping year in 2012.
The best part of going 14/17 for ten YPA? Three QB draws for 10, 10, and 16 yards. Run and tell that, homeboy. If Denard is the QB he became after the trash tornado game, look out: 59% completions, 7-4 TD-INT, 8.4 YPA against Purdue/Iowa/Illinois/Nebraska/OSU translates into… I don't even know what.
Yea, and we looked unto his serene face and praised him.
So the big chart is the big chart and you are going to be skipping to the last bit:
|Lewan||9.5||1||8||Effective against DTs, mostly, also getting to the second level.|
|Schofield||9.5||4.5||5||Fortunate to have a sixth OL as competent as this.|
|Molk||10||1||9||Great day picking up blitzing LBs.|
|Omameh||15||4||11||Has picked it up late.|
|Huyge||7||3||4||Had some issues but hardly a weak link.|
|Moore||-||1||-1||Heir apparent next year.|
|Koger||5.5||5.5||0||Simon was a tough matchup.|
|TOTAL||56.5||20||65%||Slight step back from Nebraska but still a quality day. Very little penetration yielded.|
|Robinson||16.5||8.5||8||A bunch of awesome and then two fumbles and a bad pitch.|
|Toussaint||12.5||4.5||8||Step back from his 18(!) last week but consistently a playmaker.|
|Smith||-||-||-||Did not register; did get a critical Mountain Goat.|
|Hopkins||2||2.5||-0.5||Bit of an off day.|
|McColgan||-||-||-||Did not register.|
|TOTAL||31||14.5||16.5||Two! Two fantastic runners. AH AH AH|
|Gallon||3||1||2||Key block on long Denard TD.|
|Protection||21||10||68%||Team 4, Huyge 3, Robinson(!) 1, Schofield 1, Hopkins 1|
The inverted veer tore Ohio State up and Borges got good mileage out of the throwback screen. There were plenty of open receivers and Borges pulled out some old staples that had been put in the barn for a while: the sprint counter and PA TE seam picked up huge chunks on Michigan touchdown drives. He even got an easy flip into the endzone on play action.
I want to focus on what happened in the fourth quarter. After the punt disaster Michigan gets the ball back on their own 20 up three points. Their drive goes like so:
- QB sweep for 3
- Waggle action rollout to deep, uncovered Hemingway for 20
- Zone stretch for 11
- QB draw for 10
- I-Form power for 5 on second and inches
- Zone read keeper for 3
- Inverted veer keeper for 6
- Waggle TE corner for 4 yards and a TD
These are all different; OSU had not seen plays 2, 3, 5, or 8. On second and medium in the fourth up three, Borges throws the ball downfield. On the next play he RPS+2s OSU by running a stretch against a linebacker blitz up the middle. A few plays later he does it again. Remember how we were talking about the Boise State "just plays" philosophy? The TD was that incarnate.
So you've got this pro-set sweep thing with counter something something and what the hell is going on? Michigan hasn't aligned in that formation all year. It hasn't run anything like that all year. There is nothing for the defense to key on. They have no idea what's happening in front of them and end up so mesmerized Koger can declare his corner of the endzone Kevin Koger's Kogerland and hold elections without anyone noticing. President for life of Kevin Koger's Kogerland: Kevin Koger. First order of business: a motion to put six points on the board. Vote: unanimously in favor. Ratify that baby, Vice Exchequer Gibbons.
And then on the next drive Michigan gets the ball up three with seven minutes left; on second and eight Borges dials up the Dileo corner for 28 yards. Michigan marches down the field and coulda-shoulda-did put the game out of reach.
That continued aggression got Michigan ten points on drives starting from the 25 and 20 in the fourth quarter. Without it Michigan does not win this game.
How about that offensive line?
Hey, remember early in the year when everyone was saying they were overrated and Michigan was doomed? Yeah. No. While they too experienced a frustrating transition period, once they got their feet under them they helped rack up Michigan's massive rushing numbers.
Against OSU they were executing at a very high level; when they were defeated it was because Hankins and Simon are very good players, not because of anything poor they did. Sometimes when runs went backwards it was the tailback's fault, not theirs. They even broke a power big when Omameh and Huyge thumped a DT five yards backwards:
Watch Omameh pull along the line and get to the hole way before Robinson:
That is how it's done, and that's night and day from Omameh's kind-of-sad attempts to pull earlier in the year. Compare and contrast the above with a similar QB power from the MSU game:
Funk has brought him a long way in a short time. I'm not sure if Omameh will ever have the size and strength Michigan wants in their guards but he's a hell of a lot better now.
They're not great all along the line like some of Michigan's units from a decade ago but combined with Robinson and Borges they've put up better numbers than anyone in 15 years. Molk is an all-timer at center, Lewan is still on the Jake Long track (and past the half-way point), and Schofield is going to be a very good three year starter. The right side is a little shakier but I don't think I'd trade for any line in the conference save Wisconsin. OSU's went out the window when Mike Adams got thrashed in pass protection two or three times.
What about that third and goal from the inch call?
That is the one thing I had an issue with. From that spot on the field I would sneak it 100% of the time since the chance of success is very high and the downside is a yard loss, if that*. Putting yourself on the edge exposes you to the possibility of negative events without a commensurate increase in success rates.
There was a second thing: once you're back on the 26 I'm just taking the free chunk of yards OSU will cede and setting up a chip shot field goal. The chances of actually scoring from the 26 are close to zero and the field goal from the 43 is not a gimme. Running for ten yards makes your FGA a lot less harrowing and strips OSU of its last timeout.
*[If you're thinking about Chad Henne's fumble against ND in 2005, you have to make the exchange on any call you make.]
Ah, yes. Those guys. Very strong day.
[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]
100% on catchable balls with a 1 and three 2s. They were money.
Have you ever felt personally taunted by a college coordinator?
Not until last Saturday.
/shakes fist at Borges
/looks at above RPS numbers
/sheepishly ceases fist-shaking
/makes a golden idol or something
So what was with the pulling guards blocking optioned guys on the inverted veer?
I thought this was a mistake due to a lack of reps, but like Troy Woolfolk jumping short routes it happened with such consistency that it eventually became clear it was no mistake. Tyler Sellhorn has a possible explanation:
I think Schofield and Omameh were coached to block the DE. Hoke/Borges do not like leaving unblocked defensive linemen out there. A famous unattributed coaching axiom that I am sure that Hoke/Borges believe in is: "First level defenders cause fumbles, second level defenders make tackles." To me, this is the "MANBALL" component of M's "option" game. True power running game people think like that. I think that is the reason there have been fewer really long runs (the second level has been blocked less consistently this season).
This is one philosophical difference: RR's first thought always was, "How can we dick with the safeties to get big yards when we break through the line", Hoke/Borges first thought is "How can we dick with the DL so they are less aggro (in run and pass situations) and we don't ever have a negative play." Both work well as we have seen.
To me it's weird that you'd option a guy off and still block him, but we saw Denard keep on the inverted veer five times and these were the results:
- WOOPS unblocked Sabino in the hole and gets to the sideline for 42-yard TD.
- Does not WOOP unblocked Johnson in the hole, gains two yards.
- DE flies way upfield, Hopkins takes Shazier outside without having to block him, Schofield moves to second level to block Johnson, six yard TD.
- Sabino blows his assignment and heads out on Toussaint. Pulling G blocks DE.
- Simon annihilates mesh point, Robinson pulls and miracles his way into six yards.
We can't glean anything from #5 since it did not go as intended. On three of the other four the pulling guard blocked the optioned DE. On the other, he got to the second level. Why? My theory is because there was no one else on the edge but the DE. On the other runs OSU ran blitzes that forced Hopkins to block guys other than the DE, who was then in a position to make a play on the ball, hypothetically, and received the attention of the pulling G. On the six yard TD the DE flew upfield to contain Toussaint and the puller moved on.
Nobody. The only bad things to happen on the day were Denard's fumbles.
Everybody. Denard, Molk, Omameh, Lewan most of all.
What does it mean for Virginia Tech and the future?
It means we're going to be disappointed when Michigan does not execute flawlessly in the Sugar Bowl.
It also hints at fantastic things for next year. If Denard can maintain that level of play in the air the offense goes from dang good but inconsistent to
Can he? Well… probably not. We've got a lot more evidence pointing the other way. But you can't rule out something like the last five games, if not a little better, over the whole of 2012. That would be a great offense if they can just keep every single offensive lineman healthy throughout the whole year and find a tight end. And figure out what life without David Molk is like. So… some questions, but so much promise.
A potential future TE and one of many, many places it would be cool to go
Let's have a TE rummage sale.
Just listened to the podcast of your WTKA Thursday gig and you echoed my own concerns about TE depth. Yesterday I started a thread on the board about converting Heitzman to TE but it was partially highjacked by the Snarkosphere.
Keith was a TE in high school and played a bit of fullback in the Big 33 game (scored the last TD). At 6'3" 250 he is already big enough to contribute and would be ready to step into the looming void of 2012. WolvinLA had one of the few constructive comments to my post saying that he thought Heitzman had the frame to become a 285 lb. SDE..... but I would rather have a 260 lb. TE next year, and taking a third TE in this class does not really address the immediate depth problem.
I think you're onto something. Michigan is going to bring in a couple SDEs next year that are probably going to pass Heitzman on the depth chart as soon as they hit campus. On the other hand, they have zero(!) scholarship SDEs on the current depth chart. Unless Brink is a diamond in the rough, they'll need the competition there.
There's another guy on the roster who seems even riper for a move: Jordan Paskorz. Paskorz played TE in high school—he actually made the local newspaper's All-Region team at the spot. He's listed as a 6'3" 246 linebacker but didn't make the depth chart; I actually thought he was competing at WDE. Either way, SLB and WDE are both three-deep for the next couple years.
He's got a much clearer path to playing time at TE. By next year he could be 260 or 270 pounds. I'm a little surprised they haven't moved him already.
WHY OL NO ENORBOUS
One of the consistent comments since Brady Hoke was hired has been the weight of our offensive linemen. I feel like this is something you bring up quite regularly, either talking about how the starters haven't put on as much weight as you expected or about how some of the incoming recruits fit more in line with the "man ball" theme based on their size. Here's my question - what weight do you think Hoke wants for the OL?
I did a little research on this and what I found was that Michigan isn't as light as I would expect as compared to everyone else. Most teams, both NCAA and NFL, seem to average about 305-315 across their line while Michigan is just under 300. More interesting is that our current OL out-weighs the National Champion 1997 line that produced a bunch of quality NFL players. (Caveat about old school rosters matching reality goes here.)
The only team I found that has any significant size difference with respect to Michigan is Wisconsin. So do you really think Hoke wants that type of OL or is a modest increase into the 310 area that most NFL Teams seem to favor?
Yeah, in 1997 Michigan was still in the mode where any lineman over 300 pounds was listed at "299." Whether this was an homage to the old Schembechler story about the scales in the football building only going that high (and having to weigh some kid on a freight elevator as a result) or a hint to anyone over that number to get under it is unknown. Those guys were probably just as big as these guys.
I have no idea what to make of Hoke's intentions since he seems to say one thing and then let Borges do what he wants. I wouldn't read much into the lack of weight added to Michigan's current line in that regard since it's possible they're just not guys who can be much bigger than they already are. Molk and Huyge are probably topped out and putting more weight on Omameh would be easy if you just wanted it to be fat. Maybe not so much the muscle. Barnum and Lewan are exceptions; not sure what to make of that.
Down the road we will see bigger linemen. No one in this class is ever going to be described as "undersized," as Molk and possibly Omameh are. I'm guessing they won't be as huge as Wisconsin, but who knows?
Reasons not to schedule anyone that kind of assume I am not aware of the structure of college fooball.
I hear what you're saying on the scheduling but it's never going to change with the current incentive structure. As long as a school from a BCS conference can destroy three cupcakes, run the table in their conference and go to the national title game (or lose 1 conference game and still get a huge BCS payout) what is the incentive for Michigan to ever schedule anyone but 2 directional schools and Baby Seal U of its choice?
At the end of the day, the fans care about wins and in January there will be much less bitching if Michigan is 10-2 with losses to Wisco and Iowa (and having clubbed 3 terrible teams) and playing on New Years Day than if they went 9-3 with an additional loss to Oklahoma.
Since up to five Big Ten teams now play on New Year's Day, your hypothetical 9-3 team would easily cross that threshold. Hurray for grade inflation. That's beside the point.
I see what the emailer is saying, and sort of agree, and think that's another aspect of modern college football that sucks out loud. HOWEVA, I don't think that the only thing CFB fans care about is wins at The End Of The Day. This whole topic of conversation arose because I went to the UM Club of Detroit's kickoff luncheon and some guy launched into a rant about Michigan's scheduling that got applause from the entire room. At the end of the day I think fans want to see Michigan win more than its fair share against quality competition and feel like they're getting value for money.
I believe that even if the fans sigh and pay for Michigan scheduling real opponents by yourself, value for money is on the side of real opponents. And $2.59 per ticket means you don't have to schedule Georgia or Oklahoma to make the home and home worthwhile. YMMV, but here's a list of teams Michigan could play. You can yes or no the hypothetical surcharge in your brain for each:
- Georgia Tech
- Oregon State
- Oklahoma State
- North Carolina
- Ole Miss
Those are all "yes" to me and none are signing up to play Oklahoma. It's true that signing up for a second real game reduces your chances of running the table and getting into the worst playoff ever. That's another crappy effect of the current system that would be far less powerful if we had a properly-sized playoff (six teams, IME). That's a downside… but I don't really care. I just want to play some real teams.
This guy's mileage varies from the previous guy
I know and understand your post is all about the financial ramifications and feasibility of a home and home with a real opponent, but you failed to mention one common sense tidbit that Dave Brandon doesn't seem to get: PEOPLE LIKE TRAVELING TO NEW PLACES, which is why Michigan is almost always a lock to bring a big crowd to a bowl game.
People want to explore the country. I've always wanted to visit the south and all I need is a game scheduled between Michigan and any SEC team below the Mason Dixon line to get me to finally take that trip. Road games are FUN, especially when they are in a city/region you don't get to visit much.
Amen. I'm still undecided about whether I'll shell out to go see Michigan play Alabama in Jerryworld. It's just a bowl game in a meh city. I can do that every year. (Right, Brady?) If the game was in Tuscaloosa I'd be hitting refresh on Kayak every twelve seconds until I'd gotten solid plans. That is a once in a lifetime opportunity to check out a college football mecca. Hell, I went to a game at Auburn Michigan wasn't even involved in and came back raving about how awesome college football was.
Jerryworld is not college football, but it pays the bills. If paying those is what it takes for Michigan to schedule nonconference games not against Notre Dame, I'm willing to do that. Give us the option. Put a millage on the season ticket applications that will add a surcharge for two years for a specific matchup and only do it if you get 60% of the vote. The worst thing that happens is nothing.
A Third and long Denard followup from the Mathlete.
I have Denard at 1140th out of 1235 players in my database on 3rd and 8+
Tate Forcier from 2009 was literally one spot ahead at 1139
Pat White in his three years under RR:
West Virginia wasn't great under RR but they were always in the top quarter and nowhere near as low as Michigan was the last two year.
Yeesh. That will be a stat to track this year, more to see how Denard develops than any particular differences between RR and Borges. That assertion about Michigan 2011 being an offense that had to stay ahead of the chains as much as generic triple options teams turns out to be no exaggeration.
Yet another reason to shoot yourself (DON'T SHOOT YOURSELF)
I have an alternative theory on Michigan football, we are all in a dream.
Hear me out.
You know how most dreams will contain basic familiar elements (Denard, uniforms, etc), but often will have people in places you don't expect but might hope for (Tressel resigning in disgrace, getting great recruits), some simply weird stuff (Brady Hoke as coach, huge scoreboard out of nowhere), and then all of a sudden the narrative gets really weird with some natural phenomenon (like onrushing water) that signals the dream state and the fact we might be ready to get up?
Is Dave Brandon trying to perform Inception on us?
accurate representation of how Michigan fans feel after last four years
Hmmm… If I shoot myself in the head, the possibilities:
- wake up on December 1st, 2007 thinking "Dave Brandon should coach Michigan football"
I think I'll pass.
|Taylor Lewan||So.*||Ricky Barnum||Jr.*||David Molk||Sr.*||Patrick Omameh||Jr.*||Mark Huyge||Sr.*|
|--||--||Chris Bryant||Fr.||Rocko Khoury||Jr.*||Elliot Mealer||Jr.*||Michael Schofield||So.*|
Readers are advised to follow the same procedure as they might for the defensive line: look at the soothing, soothing starters and not the precarious dropoff—this time including a true freshman and non-entity "Dash Dash"—immediately after them.
Here the fainting should be kept to a minimum. Michigan returns four starters, inserts a well-regarded redshirt junior into the open slot, and ran for a crapton of yards last year. And the depth isn't all that bad. At various times new offensive line coach Darrell Funk has expressed a desire for seven or eight guys who are ready to play. That's how many they have: seven or eight, depending on which way the wind is blowing about Elliot Mealer today.
While not having a backup at left tackle looks ominous, in the event Lewan is forced off the field Michigan will just rearrange some guys and pull Schofield onto the field. The coaches have proclaimed their faith in both Schofield and Khoury, so Michigan won't get to serious collar-puling time until the third injury/suspension/abduction. Even that would likely bring a redshirt junior out of mothballs.
They'll be okay this year. The depth bomb hits next year as Khoury and Schofield draw into the starting lineup, leaving just Mealer and a horde of redshirt or true freshman behind the starters, including zero (0) backup tackles who won't be going to prom in a few months. At least those backups are backed by panting recruiting rankings. But that's for another season preview.
This season preview is concerned with the above offensive line and how well it will transition to MANBALL downhill running. It's not that they don't know how to do this. Here's the line doing this:
This is the third time I've pulled a different gap-blocked play from last year to claim they can pull, so… yeah, they can pull. (FWIW, that is not Power O but Down G.) If you don't believe me, believe Mark Huyge:
"Last year, our primary play was outside zone, and this year it's coming at you. Really, they're not that much different. We ran the power last year, so we knew the footwork already, basically. [Offensive line coach Darrell] Funk tweaked us here and there a little bit. But it's just doing it more often."
Taylor Lewan also dismisses the idea the new offense incorporated anything he wasn't being taught a year ago:
"We have the same plays … Instead of an outside zone we might run a lead zone."
The issue is what happens when power goes from a constraint play designed to keep the defense honest to the bread and butter designed to make the defense cheat. The conventional wisdom is that power requires massive road graders a la the Wisconsin offense while the zone game requires guys who, while big compared to civilians, are less likely to annihilate a tackle one-on-one than dance their way into an advantageous position. Boy howdy can these guys do that.
They can do the other stuff when opponents are expecting an outside zone. Can they make it the base? And can they pass protect well enough to open up a full pro-style route tree? Well, we just don't know, Dude.
Rating: 4 of 5
Taylor Lewan started getting hyped up as the next Jake Long as soon as he committed. That hype never waned until Lewan managed to start his RS freshman year on the bench behind Mark Huyge.
That dip was brief. Lewan forced his way into the starting lineup by the second half of the UMass game and quickly established himself as a man who perceives men in other football uniforms as donkeys and himself as the last survivor of a species destroyed by donkeys. Result:
|hate you, donkey|
|donkeyed DT plus LB|
|caves in Clayborn|
|Ogbu through endzone|
|mobility matches Martez|
|enjoy 0 tackles Clayborn|
|goodbye PSU DE|
|reads scrape, adjusts(!)|
|not so good|
|gets QB pwned|
That was pretty exciting, and when he turned Adrian Clayborn off in the Iowa game the Jake Long hype hit fever pitch. Not even Long had started at left tackle as a freshman. Then Lewan took sixteen straight holding or false start penalties and harshed everyone's buzz good and proper.
This happened in the same game…
After the third Lewan penalty Michigan Stadium was ready to throttle the guy. It would have taken most of the stadium to do so, but the "AWWWWWWWWW" coming from the stands suggested it was possible.
He's good. The Clayborn line: one solo tackle, two assists, a half sack on the last desperate Michigan drive. Last year Clayborn had 70 tackles, 20 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Against Penn State earlier this year Clayborn had ten tackles, three TFLs, and a sack. He's a holy lock first-rounder, and Taylor Lewan all but erased him. …
That was a star-making performance. Lewan == Long has gone from optimistic ceiling to serious possibility.
…and Lewan established himself as the Mouton of the offense. He continued to sabotage Michigan drives with false starts and holds the rest of the year; when he wasn't doing that he was all but impenetrable.
He's not dumb. He knows he's got one big thing to work on:
"Last year, I had a lot of penalties and that's one of the main things I've tried to work on," he said. "My biggest problem was the penalties, absolutely. Everybody saw that. My biggest thing is to focus on that, stay onsides, stay aggressive between the whistles and not after.
"(But) I'm not trying to tone down the aggressiveness, because the offensive line, I feel, should be one of the most aggressive on the field. Have a defensive mentality on the offensive line."
The Mouton comparison is ominous since we just watched that guy start for three years without getting any better, but Lewan hasn't suffered at the hands of poor coaching yet and won't in the future. This should be the year he drops the crazy hot girl act and establishes himself as an All Big Ten left tackle. He'll still be a little penalty-prone but it will be worth it.
|wipes out Lloyd|
|could do better on S|
|decent at POA|
|washes scraper out|
|again washes scraper out|
|pulls a bit|
|down G LB|
|can't maintain block|
Opposite Lewan, Mark Huyge is barely holding on for the third straight year. A who-dat recruit Michigan snatched away from the MAC in the first year of Mike DeBord's zone transition, Huyge's done well for himself to be a sort of kind of three year starter.
That hasn't prevented him from losing his job over and over. Two years ago it was a rotating cavalcade of missed blocks at right tackle as Huyge swapped with Perry Dorrestein and got sucked inside to play guard in David Molk's absence. Late in the year Patrick Omameh emerged at right guard and Huyge was finally exiled to the bench.
Last year it was Lewan bursting onto the scene. Huyge popped up from time to time when Lewan's penalties were too infuriating for Rodriguez and when Dorrestein's back injuries cropped up again. He was okay, his pass blocking issues covered up by the offense and Denard, his rushing numbers usually a little bit above zero.
This year he's in another "dogfight," this one with redshirt sophomore Michael Schofield and, oddly, Omameh. Funk:
“Mark’s played all over the place, been a starter at three different positions. He’s set himself up to have a great senior year,” Funk said. “He’s a great kid, great with the young kids. He defers to Dave [Molk] in the leadership role, but they are both seniors who are always both counted on to be leaders. He’s playing right guard and right tackle, has that flexibility that he could play left tackle if we need him.
“I’m happy with how Mark is doing. It’s a little dogfight between him and Patrick [Omameh] and Michael Schofield, who is doing a nice job."
I hope that's just a motivational device for Omameh, who needs to get better against elite DTs but… well… more on him later.
Huyge has the lead for now, so he goes here. I wouldn't be surprised if some pass blocking issues crop up and give Schofield a shot at the job—Huyge has never been able to hold off elite rushers. The difference between him and Lewan in that Iowa game was stark:
…the Huyge/Lewan battle [was] resolved in the exact same way the Demens/Ezeh battle was: by some Iowa guy running over the backup. In Ezeh's case this was Iowa OL Julian Vandevelde. In Huyge's it was Adrian Clayborn.
Huyge wasn't terrible but when you play a third of a game and you don't get a single +/- on the run chart you're being avoided to some extent and just doing okay at when you're not. He got a –4 in pass protection; Lewan has a –3 in twice the time. Lewan was +7 on the ground, tied with Denard for the best score.
He'll be better, and he'll be needed unless the line miraculously skates through the season without injury. I'm just not sure he'll be the first choice at tackle when the Big Ten schedule rolls around, because...
Schofield and… Schofield
The aforementioned Michael Schofield is it, man. Jake Fisher's post-firing defection to Oregon and Tony Posada's instant exit leave Schofield the only scholarship tackle on the roster who's not, like, starting, man. That's not good.
At least Schofield was a consensus four star who picked Michigan over Notre Dame back when all our OL recruits belonged to Weis. He's spent a couple years bulking up and is now the obvious #6 offensive lineman:
"Schofield would be a top back-up if we started today ... but he could easily be a starter. He’s playing most days at a starter level. His big deal is he’s inconsistent, and that’s the whole group. We’ve got go make sure we’re consistently good.”
Huyge's flexibility will allow Michigan to flip Schofield onto the field if anyone other than Molk goes down. He's likely to start a few games in preparation for a full time role in 2011… unless he rips the job away from Huyge right now.
Given the way Huyge's career has gone and the general vibe coming from camp chatter and Funk's public statements, that's a strong possibility. Huyge's never been much of a pass blocker and Michigan's offense is going to require quite a bit more of that as Robinson starts making more and more five and seven step drops.
There's no one else thanks to Rodriguez's failures in the 2010 class and The Process. A discussion of the walk-on options would be pointless since in the event two tackles explode Michigan will flip Barnum (who played LT last year on the second team) or Omameh (who was widely regarded as the tackle of the future before he was needed as the guard of the present) outside and bring in Khoury.
Rating: 4.5 of 5.
This would be a five if Rich Rodriguez was still around. I've been badgering people about how awesome David Molk is since he was a redshirt freshman; Patrick Omameh's full-season debut was not quite spectacular but promised it right quick; Ricky Barnum is a touted recruit who's hitting the field as a redshirt junior. All were prepped to reach-block the living daylights out of opponents this year.
Now I'm not so sure. I think they'll still be pretty good, but worry that their strength is not their strength, if you know what I mean. I think they'll end up running a lot of zone blocking, whether it's by choice or hard lesson.
Your starting center for the fourth straight year is MGoBlog fave-rave David Molk. He drops f-bombs in press conferences, openly disdains stupid questions, and frequently makes the toughest block in football look easy. I love David Molk. This is what he does:
That was against freshman Akeem Spence but here's one of a few ass-kickings he handed veteran Penn State DT Ollie Ogbu:
|reach destroys you|
|a tough seal|
|a classic stretch|
|execute the scoop|
|another textbook scoop|
|lewanesque donkey hating|
|latches onto the NT|
Sometimes he joins Taylor Lewan in his donkey hating campaigns. He's getting a little All-America hype, and I think he could deserve more: CBS has him on the second team behind OSU's Mike Brewster. If my OSU blog interpretation is correct I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Buckeye fan who wouldn't complain about the frustrating lack of dominance from their OL.
Molk is the perfect spread 'n' shred center, a major reason Michigan put up an unprecedented-this-millennium 5.6 YPC last year. If he's got weaknesses they apply to the transition he may or may not have to make.
While it's usually guards who end up pulling in gap-blocked rushing attacks, having a center who can do likewise is an asset. It opens up extra possibilities. Molk has the agility for that sort of thing but it seems like the act of pulling right after you've snapped the ball is one of those things you have to practice a ton to get right. Molk's spent his time doing other things. Additionally, when Molk takes on a DT with the intent of blowing him off the ball he's almost always doubling with an intent to peel off after a scoop. If he's asked to go one-on-one with bigger guys that might not go so well.
That is admittedly me trying to find a concern. David Molk is great. You can never tell which interior linemen are going to be up for postseason awards but I'll be incensed if he's not All Big Ten after a healthy year. I think he'll be a Rimington finalist.
in space, where he belongs
Returning next to Molk is redshirt junior Patrick Omameh. Omameh broke into the stating lineup at the tail end of his freshman year and immediately displayed an agility I'd never seen in a Michigan guard before. Last year he built on that. You know what I am about to embed, but are you sick of it? No, you are not sick of it.
|completely plows Te'o|
|finishes the job|
|seals and pancakes the DT|
|controls, then destroys DE|
|kicks out Reyes|
|dominates the playside DT|
|combo onto LB|
|Clayborn in space|
|Te'os a PSU LB|
That was no fluke. He did the same thing to the same epic linebacker later in the game, did it to Penn State, did it to Adrian Clayborn, did it to a lot of people. If you get Patrick Omameh to the second level he is liable to turn an opposing linebacker into a safety-destroying club.
His weakness was a lot more obvious than Molk's, though: he had a lot of trouble with beefy, high quality DTs. He actually picked up a negative in the opener against UConn due to his struggles with Kendall Reyes…
He didn't exactly lose out, but as the only guy on the line anywhere near even he stood out as a sophomore. UConn's Kendall Reyes was a problem all day, bursting into the backfield on the Shaw ten-yard loss and causing most of the bounce-outs. Sometimes this just happens. I remember Eastern Michigan's Jason Jones doing a lot of damage, pointing out how good he was, and hoping this was true both for credibility and what it said about Michigan's offensive line. Jones eventually went in the second round of the NFL draft. I both think and hope Reyes is really good, headed for All Big East recognition. If not, Omameh has a lot of work to do.
…and had a rough day against Corey Liuget ("when he did get Liuget he struggled … Many times Schilling or Omameh had not been able to keep pace with that spring into the backfield [that Molk did.]")
There are worse things. Reyes did end up first team All Big East. Liuget was a first-round pick over the summer and Reyes may be one next year. A lot of players have bad days against them. But that is a downside that will be relevant this year when Michigan sees Jared Crick and John Simon roll into town. It'll help out immensely if Omameh can stand up to them mano-a-mano. I'm not sure if that will happen unless the zero extra pounds he's credited with is gamesmanship, which has been rumored. That seems like an obvious rationalization to me.
Omameh's lack of out-and-out POWER to run POWER, his agility, and Lewan's donkey-hating ways mean that when Michigan does use POWER to run POWER they are going to be heavily left-handed. Remember when the first play of every game was zone left over Jake Long for two yards? I'm hoping Borges isn't as predictable as Mike "The Avalanche" DeBord, but the breakdown of left-right might be similar to 2007.
As for Omameh's performance, he should get towards the fringe of All Big Ten. They spread these things out amongst linemen and Lewan and Molk are ahead in the pecking order so he probably won't get it; I don't think he'll necessarily deserve it but he won't be far off.
Ricky Barnum is the line's only newcomer. He'll fill in for the departed Steve Schilling. As a backup offensive lineman we don't know much about him; his only appearances on the field to date have been in uncharted garbage time. We do know he was a touted recruit who backed out of a Florida commitment to follow Rich Rodriguez north—which, wow, dude, that's a hell of a decommit.
He's gotten good reviews from insidery types for the bulk of his career, and these have spread to his coaches and teammates as he prepares for the big stage:
Barnum, a junior, however has received rave reviews from Funk and his teammates. Funk described him as most improved from last spring, and Lewan said he's been playing like an experienced, fifth-year senior.
In classic offensive lineman form, Barnum laughed off the praise and spoke about the big picture.
"It's not what I've done," Barnum said. "It's what we do as a team. We worked really hard in the offseason, and we're dedicated. We want to get better as a group."
"Ricky keeps making tremendous strides," Huyge said. "The kid works really hard. I know in spring ball, he took a lot of reps, and that helps, and he's come a long way, as well."
Borges makes him sound a lot like the guy on the other side of the line:
On Barnum: "Ricky is as athletic as anyone on our line. Ricky is a tough guy." Biggest problem is that he's a little underweight, but he's gotten stronger, doesn't get pushed around, and "looks like a back out there sometimes when he runs."
"Underweight" in this case is 292; "looks like a back out there sometimes" is like looking in the Omameh mirror. File this under yet more evidence they're going to have to remain a primarily zone team the next couple years.
The only issue with his acquisition of the starting job is that he didn't have to fight too hard for it. Rocko Khoury and Elliot Mealer are the only plausible alternatives. While Khoury did an admirable job against Iowa, he's primarily a center. Beating out just one guy means you're necessarily more of a risk than someone who emerged from a thicket of a depth chart with a machete in his teeth.
The one thing that might hold him back early is injury. As of a couple weeks ago he was held out of the punting demo because of a knee issue. He still dressed, so it can't be too serious. He seems to have dumped the brace in recent photos; he'll probably be just fine.
Khoury against Iowa; Elliott with brother Brock
|doubles w/ Schilling|
|shoves on DT|
|not quite omameh|
|shed on second level|
There are only two before you get down to walk-ons and freshmen. Rocko Khoury is the only one who won't cause some hyperventilation. When Molk was knocked out for the Iowa game last year he stepped in and performed ably. Most of the clips at right are Khoury doubling DTs with Schilling, which isn't the toughest job in the world. He does display a bit of ability on the second level; he does not reach someone into oblivion.
If Khoury draws in it will be a downgrade since he's not likely to do any of the exciting Molkomamehwan things I embedded above. It won't be a disaster. Michigan averaged 4.5 YPC in his start against the #6 rush defense in the country, almost a yard and a half better than Iowa gave up against the rest of their schedule. They'll live if he plays.
Redshirt junior Elliot Mealer is the sole other non-freshman option. That qualifier is probably unnecessary since the freshmen are either 340 or 270 pounds—he's the last line of defense between Michigan and someone totally unprepared to play in the Big Ten. The coaches clearly have him behind Khoury and Schofield and while they do make encouraging noises about him from time to time…
Elliott Mealer and Rocko Khoury are vying for back-up positions on the interior line, ‘right on the cusp’ but depth guys right now, Funk added.
…the overall impression is that they'd like to avoid having him on the field just yet. He's still much better than the alternatives.
Mallett/Wienke/Beaver/Newsome/Threet/Sheridan/Forcier/Denard/Gardner. Not pictured justcuz: Notorious C.O.N.E., Feagin, Conelius, Bellomy, President Kennedy & various other walk-ons, and Nachoshorts, brother to Tacopants, who is 4 inches tall and made of puppy dreams and snowflakes and was the guy Moosman was always snapping to in 2009.
It's about expectations. Among the very few diaries this week was Gordon's highly debatable retcon of recent Michigan history if the sweatervest had remained folded in a Youngstown drawer. That's about what might have happened. My diary's about what we thought would happen.
You've probably done this same exercise a million times after commitments (and 16 times since March): look at the current depth chart for that guy's position, toss in the current commits, and predict a monster future for Michigan, or wonder how in the world we will find playing time for all of these guys. Well things don't always work out how you expect, in fact they never do.
Over the next few weeks I will attempt to review our past expectations for Michigan's position groups at this time in Year X. Hopefully the knife of attrition will be much more lenient in the coming years than it was over the last few. Maybe there's something to be learned here about adjusting expectations. Maybe this is just a colossal thought loop. Either way it's not about OSU's scandal, and will hopefully make for an entertaining walk down memory lane. If it sucks, feel free to eat me alive in the comments. I'm told I taste like chicken.
This week: 2007 Offense.
What was going on:
It was a lazy offseason in pre-Apocalyptic Ann Arbor. I mean really lazy: we had like 3-6 commits at this point (Cissoko, Wermers, Moore, Witherspoon and Mike Martin) but led with plenty more, and thought '08 recruiting was just dandy. Baseball made its run on the national stage (the peak was a 2-game sweep in the regionals over No. 1 Vandy) to get us all excited-like. Mostly we sat around watching Sam McGuffie YouTube highlights and hoping Comcast wouldn't kill our ability to watch Michigan play football. Will Campbell committed for 2009, and early speculation had Larry Capers coming eventually. Cobrani Mixon became our first Facebook transfer. Comcast and the Big Ten were having their great phallis-off. On a way smaller scale John Pollack and Jim Carty were having theirs with the university over plans to install (gasp) luxury boxes at Michigan Stadium. Brian got really excited over the possibility of games on Torrents (MGoVideo debuted June 18), and spent much of the summer trying to figure out why Jonas Gray (and to a lesser extent his teammate and "package deal" Kenny Demens) didn't have a Michigan offer. Autumn Thunder made epic comparisons of people to Lord of the Rings villains, with Jim Tressel cast as Saruman. Crystal ball? Try internet connection.
We were not Harbaugh fans.
Depth Chart: Chad Henne (Sr/Sr), Ryan Mallett (Fr/Fr), David Cone (So/Jr)
Incoming: Steven Threet (4-star, 2007 Transfer/Fr from Georgia Tech), John Wienke (3-star)
Expected: Going into what everyone knew was Lloyd's last year, Michigan was the NFL's quarterback factory, having produced an unbroken line of pro passers dating back to the stone age. That such a legacy would continue was a certainty with 4-year starter and robot Chad Henne mentoring 2007 uber-recruit Ryan Mallett (who survived transfer rumors to Arkansas in late April). In the event of near disaster, Navarre-like object Cone was on the roster. Homecoming transfer Threet and the statuesque southpaw Wienke – who received his camp offer a year ago today – would be on hand if (God forbid) anything happened to Mallett from 2008-'10, or else to mop up the blood from the star's latest aerial assaults.
How'd that turn out? Ha. Henne was iffy and frustrated in the HORROR then had his shoulder blown up in the Oregonian Disaster—the rest of his heroics would be gutting it out with that shoulder to Little Brother little brother, and the legendary dismantling of Florida in the Cap One Bowl. The bubble burst on this dream with the hiring of Spread 'n Shredder Rich Rodriguez. The writing was on the wall for a 3-star pocket passer, and Wienke wisely bolted (for Iowa). Mallett transferred to Arkansas and went on to a productive career with lots of character questions. Cone stuck around to give us a fantastic YouTube video and a few garbage time cheap thrills. Threet emerged from his transfer purgatory to find himself fighting a duck-tossing walk-on for the right to get beaten up in the worst Michigan offense in ever ever. He spent the season in and out of the lineup with assorted injuries, and later transferred to Arizona State so the Richrodigan freshmen could play.
5 Point Scale of Expectation vs. Outcome: Does this scale have a zero? Way Zero.
More after the jump.
1. Can you answer the same quarterback question everyone's been answering since the spring game?
Sweet hot pickle John The Baptist, the fictional questioners are just as persistent as the real ones. One last time: I expect Denard Robinson to get the start against UConn. Rumor has it the team has already been informed.
The premium sites are engaged in a war of information about the #2. Scout is claiming Gardner has haxored the offense and will plug into the matrix sooner rather than later; Rivals says Forcier's come on like gangbusters of late and is hinting he'll end up starting sooner rather than later. Both of their mumbles are of the "I'm just saying" variety where blame can't be assigned retroactively but credit sure can; both are seriously hedging on Denard Robinson.
I don't buy either much, but I buy the latter way more than the former. My personal obsevations are in line with UMGoBlog's assessment of the spring performances of each. Gardner:
@ the :24 mark: here you can see the game moving really fast around him. His feet slow down because his brain is working overtime to process all the info available. Finally, he leans back away from the contact on his delivery, which will normally cause the ball to sail, or fall well short.
@ the :38 mark: this may be his "can't teach that" moment. With Tate and DR, we have to roll the QB one way or the other to attack the middle. They cannot see over the line. Here, DG confidently steps into the pocket and throws a nice, although low, pass in a deep in route. As he continues to develop, he physical stature may end up being a large advantage for him in the QB race.
@ the 1:15 mark: we see some of the TF-like play making ability. He escapes the rush, but works back INTO the pocket to keep all his options alive down the field. Very good poise for the young guy in his first spring.
@ the 1:55 mark: this is not the first example on this film, but the ball HAS to come out quicker here. Giving the LB/DB time to read this play is a huge mistake and really hung the RB out to dry. Again, no doubt understandable with DG's inexperience, but this is a HUGE thing that must improve before I will call him "Game Ready".
@ the 2:23 mark: SHEESH! Protect the ball above all else, especially at your own goal line. As soon as he felt the hands around him, that ball should have been thrown to the Off. Coord. on the sideline. Live to fight another play.
It keeps going like that, promise alternating with the freshman mistakes we've gotten all too accustomed to the past couple years. Reports from the fall scrimmage, which was all of two weeks ago, are similar. Downplaying the one horrible interception is "a mistake but…" neglects Gardner's tendency to just chuck things when he got pressure. It didn't happen often, but when it did he responded—all together now—like a freshman. I'm done with this true freshman stuff. We've seen the chart, right? Michigan ran out a drilled-from-birth prodigy last year, got significantly above average performance from him, and still had a creaky offense. Devin Gardner is not that good yet. I have every confidence he will be that good in time, but not yet.
Forcier remains Forcier, hopefully minus many of the crippling turnovers. Denard, well;
@ the :59 mark: he is rolling left and fires a strike over the middle. I cannot overstate the difficulty of this throw. Very Impressive.
@ the 1:30 mark: he cannot find a target and tucks and runs. It will be beneficial at some point for him to learn to 1)identify targets earlier 2)throw it away 3)get out of bounds and avoid unnecessary hits.
@ the 1:40 mark: he makes a perfect read on the option. Watch the DE on the O's left side completely bite down on the run. Other Big Ten teams will not bite this hard. They know DR is the bigger threat. He will have to hand off more this year.
@ the 2:20 mark: he hits Roundtree for the 98 yarder. Beautiful touch on this pass! However, his throws out to the slots and RB's on the bubble screens and hitches need to be this accurate. They aren't yet.
Denard is ridiculous. He will be given the first shot because of this, and it will be up to him to keep it. No one can take it away from him; he'll have to give it away. If I had to put numbers on it, there's a 65% chance Denard is the primary quarterback, a 30% chance Tate is, and a 5% chance Devin is.
2. Why should I be excited at all when the "Rodriguez leap" amounted to finishing ninth in total and scoring offense in conference play?
Last year around about the Notre Dame game some very excitable people were proclaiming things about the Rodriguez Leap, something Doctor Saturday identified as a strong trend in Rodriguez-coached offenses to blow up in year two. Michigan's was coming from so far back and running in place when it came to quarterback experience, so that initial prowess ended up being a mirage. Michigan was way, way better, but still pretty meh. So the above conference stats exist.
While those may be literally true, they don't exactly feel right, do they? Michigan's offense did fall off considerably after a scorching start, but whenever that stat gets brought up it seems wrong. Michigan had the misfortune of missing two below-average defensive teams in Northwestern and Minnesota, after all.
That is more intuitively correct than raw things like points or yards per game and, since it is conference-only, sidesteps the Baby Seal U issue. Michigan's offense was seventh, a hair away from fifth. That's not good but it is a major step forward after they were last by a mile in '08.
Besides, it's possible they actually made the RR leap. Seriously. The problem is how far back they were coming from. As last year's preview noted:
…even if Rodriguez makes a leap similar to that turned in by his 2002 West Virginia team—probably the most comparable since they were coming from so far back—Michigan will only improve to 68th in total offense.
Sans BSU, Michigan would have finished 78th. With BSU they finished 59th, and since all the other teams that played super tomato cans didn't have them stripped out by when I say they would have finished 78th, splitting the difference seems reasonable. We're back to 68th in total offense again.
The best RR leaps to date were virtually identical improvements at Tulane and West Virginia where year two saw yardage output increase by 21%. If you discount BSU, Michigan went from 290 yards of total offense to 353. That's a 22% increase. While it's a lot easier to go from godawful to bad than go from bad to average or average to great, at previous stops Rodriguez had the luxury of installing an experienced quarterback in year two. With Michigan's chaos there (and Rodriguez's inability to get a viable quarterback in his first recruiting class), they did not have that luxury.
And here's the thing: with the quarterbacks going from freshmen to sophomores and some number of starters back ranging between seven and ten—depending on how you assess players like Roy Roundtree, Martavious Odoms, Patrick Omameh, Mark Huyge, Perry Dorrestein, and a couple others—isn't it plausible to expect another leap in year three? Tacking on 17%—the average yardage increase in previous RR leaps, discounting last year at Michigan—to Michigan's BSU-free yardage yields 414 yards per game for Michigan, which would be good for 32nd nationally.
- There was a leap,
- It was hard to find because they were coming from so far back, and
- There should be another leap this year.
This could be worth a small "woo," or something.
3. Can the running game take a… well… can it improve a… aw, hell, can it make a leap? The leap?
Last year Michigan obliterated their best YPC mark since the turn of the century, posting a 4.52 well clear of 2006's previous high water mark of 4.27. All right, yes, Michigan's demolition of Baby Seal U (54 carries, 461 yards) is heavily distorting, and if you pull it out Michigan's season YPC drops a half-yard. That drops it to third, as you can see at right. Since most of the seasons there had a nonconference cupcake that wasn't good but also wasn't quite as distorting (in 2006, for example, Michigan put up 246 yards on 51 carries against Vanderbilt in addition to their two MAC snacks), that sells '09 a short.
So. Despite missing their best and most critical lineman for most of the year, suffering a number of bad snaps that ended up looking like –20 yard carries as a result of that, and spending most of the year down at least one of their senior tailbacks, and running out freshman quarterbacks. Michigan posted one of the better YPC numbers of the last decade of Michigan football. They were solidly third. I'm throwing this on the pile of evidence that Rodriguez's approach to the ground game is just plain better than Carr's.
Meanwhile, I'm not too concerned about the lost personnel on the line. Omameh should be better than the Moosman/Huyge/frosh Omameh combo over the course of the year. Molk was clearly better than Moosman as a center, something that was addressed in the Illinois game:
Moosman is not as good as Molk on tough reach blocks. Lot of cutbacks against Illinois because the playside DT did not get sealed. Cutbacks are tougher sledding, usually.
Here's a successful run from Brown on which Moosman does not seal his guy and Brown has to hit it up behind Moosman in front of Schilling:
From what I've seen, Molk is more likely to actually get that block on the frontside. He won't do it all the time and the cutback can be effective but then you're relying on the backside block, which is often a tough one.
Ortmann to Huyge/Lewan probably won't matter much; tackles aren't that important in the spread 'n' shred run game. The only other losses are at tailback, where Minor managed just 96 carries a year ago. His average YPC was 5.2, only slightly better than the team average in I-A games. Brown, meanwhile, finished the above run like this:
It's not like either of the lost guys was 1) that great, 2) ever healthy, or 3) irreplaceable. Here's a preview of a stupid prediction: Michigan 2010 tops that YPC table.
4. What about the tackles?
Yeah… that's the thing. Michigan has depth and talent at the skill positions and the interior line. The quarterbacks have been discussed ad nauseum—while they won't be great the best of the three options available will be at least average and possibly (probably?) good. Michigan can take some hits and still expect good things to happen… except at tackle.
There Michigan has two guys who did not play well last year and two redshirt freshmen. Though Taylor Lewan has a boatload of hype he's just one guy, and a freshman at that. Meanwhile, Mark Huyge and Perry Dorrestein took turns playing Slight Hindrance To Guy Forcing Forcier Out Of The Pocket; both were benched for the other at some point. It's clearly the weak spot.
There are reasons to hope:
- Experience helps out offensive linemen more than other position groups.
- Huyge was undersized but is no longer.
- Dorrestein was struggling with a back injury most of this year.
- Frey's coaching saw Ortmann improve substantially in his final season.
- Lewan does have a boatload of hype and provides a viable third option if one of the starters struggle.
A step forward is likely. Even so, at the end of the year the thing that will have held the offense back from great heights will probably be an inability to keep defensive ends away from the quarterback.
This rocket has two stages, the second of which should kick in this year. There's more experience everywhere, plenty of talent to go around, multiple options at quarterback, some of whom are scholarship non-freshmen: Michigan's offense will be much better in 2010. Now for the greater-than-less-thans!
- Sophomore Tate/Denard >>> Freshman Tate/Denard
- David Molk >> David Moosman
- Senior Schilling > Junior Schilling
- Patrick Omameh >> Moosman/Huyge/Omameh chaos
- Stonum in HD > Stonum in black and white
- Roundtree/Grady > Odoms/Roundtree/Grady
- Tight ends > younger versions of themselves
- Five-headed running back monster == constantly injured seniors with younger versions of running back monster.
- Martavious Odoms == Greg Mathews
- Perry Dorrestein == The better of Dorrestein/Huyge
- Mark Huyge < Mark Ortmann
As stated above, RR Leap 2 would hop Michigan up to 32nd nationally in yardage even without the benefit of a tomato can I-AA game. Put that back in and Michigan should find itself in the bottom third of the nation's top 25 offenses.
Things that can make this not happen: tackles are bad and or injured. Quarterbacks do not progress like they should. The tailback situation is a muddled heap of mediocrity. Things that can make this pessimistic: Stonum blows up. Toussaint or Cox blows up. Denard really is that good.
Last Year's Stupid Predictions
- ESSENTIALLY CORRECT IF SLIGHTLY OPTIMISITIC: Minor misses two games with injury [note: chalk!]. [Minor missed Western and Ohio State; he also sat out against DSU, if that matters, and was seriously limited for much of the rest of the season.]
- RIGHT DESPITE INJURY: People expect Vincent Smith to be the 2010 starter.
- WRONG BECAUSE OF INJURY: Junior Hemingway is your leading downfield receiver (ie: Odoms is in the running but we aren't counting screens). [Roundtree blew up late; Hemingway finished well behind Mathews amongst outside WRs.]
- PRETTY CLOSE: Denard runs for 450 yards and throws about ten times. [350 yards and 31 attempts.]
- NOT PARTICULARLY ACCURATE: Michigan uses a huge multiplicity of formations on offense, debuting new stuff frequently and ending the year with a huge (hur) package. [Michigan never busted out
- WRONG: A two-back three-WR set is most common, though sometimes that third WR will be a tight end in the slot. [Michigan went 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB most often.]
- OPTIMISTIC EVEN COUNTING BABY SEAL U: As noted, Michigan finishes somewhere between 40th and 50th in total yardage. [59th.]
This Year's Stupid Predictions
- Michigan 2010 finishes atop the rush YPC chart above without considering the UMass game and by a considerable margin.
- Gardner ends up burning his redshirt in very, very frustrating fashion, because…
- …Denard is pretty much your starting quarterback all year, but…
- …Forcier plays in every game, bailing Michigan out in one critical fourth quarter.
- Vincent Smith gets the most touches amongst the running backs. Second: Shaw. Third: Toussaint. Fourth: Hopkins.
- Robinson is Michigan's leading rusher.
- Darryl Stonum does not exactly go Chris Henry on the planet but does greatly increase production via a series of big plays: 30 catches, 650 yards, 6 touchdowns.
- Michigan breaks out the triple option with regularity, using Hopkins as the dive back and Shaw/Smith the pitch guy. They also dig out those WVU formations where the slot motions into the backfield, with Grady the man beneficiary.
Rating: 4 of 5.
|Mark Huyge||Jr.*||Steve Schilling||Sr.*||David Molk||Jr.*||Patrick Omameh||So.*||Perry Dorrestein||Sr.*|
|Taylor Lewan||Fr.*||Ricky Barnum||So.*||Rocko Khoury||So.*||Quinton Washington||Fr.*||Michael Schofield||Fr.*|
|--||--||Elliott Mealer||So.*||Christian Pace||Fr.||John Ferrara||Sr.*||--||--|
Last year the big stat was Michigan's rushing game over the second half of the season, which went from turrible to solidly above average and hypothetically would have been 30th nationally if they hadn't been flailing around the first half of the season. A 3.5 was offered here after the previous seasons oh-so-warranted 1, and that seemed slightly pessimistic as Michigan firebombed its first four opponents on the ground (sacks, kneeldowns, and bad snaps obscured a 222 yard day against Indiana in game four).
Unfortunately, once the opposition got serious the loss of David Molk for all but three snaps of the Big Ten schedule could not be overcome. The right side of the line resembled Drew Palmisano during the Epic Karma series (hey-o!), David Moosman was not as agile as Molk and had a nasty tendency to chuck snaps anywhere but the quarterback's chest, and snap counts got predictable enough for Michigan State players to commit what seemed like five or so uncalled offsides penalties.
The result was a gradual decline, probably an extra loss or two—it's not hard to see Molk's presence swing at least one of the Iowa, Purdue, or Michigan State games, especially since half of Michigan's negatives in the MSU game were attributed to his absence—and the team's failure to lock down this blog's giddy projections of Michigan's BEST RUSH OFFENSE EVER (since 2000) after the first third of the schedule. The resulting absence from a bowl game has us where we are now, on a rickety boat approaching Niagara Falls.
But, hey, silver lining: Molk's absence last year means everyone this year started at least three games and could be regarded a returning starter if you want to squint at it. Sure, the two guys who tried right tackle last year were wonky enough to provide a redshirt freshman his starts, but… hey… like… whatever. Compared to last year, there's a ton of depth and experience. Compared to 2008, there is a Weisload. (Miss you, big guy xoxo.) Ask Rodriguez:
“Two years ago, it’s not even close,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “… Now, we have four or five guys that have started, guys that have redshirted in (Taylor) Lewan and (Michael) Schofield and Quinton Washington that are now ready to play.
“We still have not as quite as talented in the ones and twos as we’d like to be, but we’ll have seven or eight guys when we’re done with camp in a week or two that we’ll feel comfortable playing.”
The interior line looks killer if Patrick Omameh can live up to the cascades of hype he's receiving, and the tackles… well… like… whatever?
Rating: 3 of 5.
After a spring in which already-hyped Taylor Lewan found himself starting at left tackle thanks to Perry Dorrestein's back injury—thus picking up an extra, even shinier layer of hype—you couldn't find a Michigan fan who would have projected him to start the year on the bench. But that's apparently the case, as the two veterans who made the right side such a mess last year have held onto their starting spots by the skin of their teeth. Rodriguez says this is due to considerable improvement…
“Yeah, the upper classman are battling to keep it. (Mark) Huyge and (Perry) Dorrestein have really done a good job in camp. The two young tackles (Michael) Schofield and (Taylor) Lewan have been pretty solid. They’re bigger, stronger and I think that competition has been pretty good. I’ve been really pleased they way Perry and Mark have responded to the challenge and really have their best camps since I’ve been here the last two years."
…but it is hard to imagine him saying anything else. I believe him, but like a lot of spots on the team the returning starters have a long way to go.
|huge whiff on LB|
|fails to cut LB|
|springs Minor TD|
|GOOD TACKLE STUFF|
|on his way to six points|
|huge cutback lane|
|blocking the backside DE|
|BAD TACKLE STUFF|
Your tentative starting left tackle is redshirt junior Mark Huyge. His issues in pass protection started as early as the Notre Dame game, when a Moosman injury forced Michigan to shuffle him inside. He picked up –6 points after being "driven back on multiple plays" on Forcier's game-winning drive and was so shaky against Michigan State that he was pulled for third-stringer John Ferrara; Ferrara "immediately gave up a crushing sack." This caused "So the right side of the line just can't block?" to become a UFR question and kicked off a stretch of ugly protection numbers that would span most of the rest of the season, with Illinois and Wisconsin standing out as late, hopeful exceptions.
By the Purdue game, Huyge's pass protection issues were "the usual" as he racked up a –5 on a day when the offensive line pulled a very poor 14/29 in the protection metric. He did manage to avoid any minuses on an "extremely shaky" performance against Penn State (Dorrestein got a –2). The clips at right are mixed, but since twenty-yard runs always get clipped and zero-yard runs are only taken out when they are important or seem emblematic of something, a 50-50 mix is not a great ratio.
So he wasn't very good last year. There's reason to expect a significant step forward, though. He enters the year at tackle and won't get bounced back and forth between different positions. He, along with the rest of the offensive line, got swoll in the offseason. After going into 2009 at 288, Huyge is now a strapping 306 pounds, and as a who-dat recruit on the offensive line you can expect a bigger leap forward between redshirt sophomore and junior years than, say, a tailback. And perhaps most importantly, he's held off the charging Lewan.
Perry Dorrestein: GOOD AT HUGZ
Right tackle Perry Dorrestein, meanwhile, started the year off as Huyge's backup and only drew into the lineup when injury forced him to, first temporarily against ND and then permanently for the Big Ten schedule. His first extended action came against Indiana and their surprisingly talented defensive ends. He did not fare well:
PROTECTION METRIC: 22/32, Koger –1, Brown –2, Team –2, Dorrestein –5.
That is not good. That is bad, and all of it save the "team" category came when Indiana defensive ends pwned the opposition. That might be understandable when you're a pass-catching tight end or a tailback, but Dorrestein was responsible for a lot of the Forcier chaos and didn't do much to justify Mark Huyge's move inside. Huyge's struggled in pass protection himself; unless Patrick Omameh surges into the starting position he lost in spring—not likely at this point—it's going to be those guys the rest of the way and the protection will be dodgy.
He picked up a –4 in the ugly Michigan State game, coming in for the same "right side of OL? More like the right side of oh noes!" criticism Huyge did. He was strictly a tackle, never moving inside.
|authoritatively pancakes him.|
|seals the playside DE|
|gets off the ball|
Dorrestein, like Huyge, threw on a bunch of weight in the offseason, but since he's going from 306 to 321 that's less obviously positive. He wasn't the guy struggling at the back of the OL group in the fall scrimmage—that would be Quinton Washington—but 321 seems a little hefty for Rodriguez's offensive style. It's not nearly as important for tackles to have the crazy agility the interior line needs, but those backside DTs need to be chopped down by backside tackles if cutback lanes are going to open up. I thought this might signal an end to the tackle competition before it began, but this is obviously not the case.
For what it's worth, the tackles had good days against Illinois and Wisconsin, the latter against an intimidating defensive line. This was a significant factor in Forcier's excellent passing day against the Badgers; it could have been better but Forcier still had to "get used to the idea" that the pass protection could be, like, good. It was hard to tell who was at fault in the Iowa game, when Iowa stunts consistently fooled the Michigan OL.
So that's all kind of scary, but it's worth noting that last year I was full of consternation about Mark Ortmann, whose junior year saw stuff like this go down in a single game…
Ortmann(-2) totally smoked by a blindside rusher… Ortmann(-2) took a poor angle downfield, though, and the MLB beats him, prompting Threet to pitch it despite a State LB having decent contain. … Ortmann and McAvoy just run by an MSU linebacker … A three-man rush; Ortmann's guy spins inside of him and dives at Threet's feet [to sack] … Ortmann(-2) beaten pretty badly [on a sack].
…and left me asserting "I'd be surprised to see Ortmann keep his job." Ortmann not only hung on to it, he played well the whole year, hitting the preview's projected upside of Adam Stenavich. If Michigan had been good and stuff he might have made an all-conference team (second team, but still). The moral is that linemen can develop at any point and that old ones are usually good ideas.
This year will be a big test for Greg Frey, who's generally well-regarded by the fanbase and can now show his mettle by improving the returning veterans in the same way he turned Ortmann into a pretty good Big Ten player.
Lewan left, Schofield right
Taylor Lewan is currently a backup but it wouldn't be surprising to see him supplant someone for one of the starting tackle jobs during the season. He's one of those guys who had an avalanche of recruiting hype actually followed up by at-practice hype—far from a given for offensive linemen—and, as mentioned above, he was sufficiently impressive in spring for visions of freshman starter Jake Long to dance in Michigan fans' heads. This site's take from spring;
On the outside there's been some shuffling with Dorrestein and Huyge flopping left to right at times. This may be due to Taylor Lewan's (right) quick emergence. He's been called an "obvious future star" and "reminiscent of Jake Long." Reports are still conflicting on his readiness but all agree that his upside is as rapturous as the recruiting gurus promised; it seems like it's matter of time before he claims the left tackle spot. That timeframe may be September or it may be next year. The most recent move suggests the move may come sooner rather than later. Flipping Huyge to the right seems to be an effort to get Michigan's best five on the field. If I had to bet, I'd go with Lewan as the starting LT against UConn.
The timeline is going to be at least a little less aggressive than that, but he's also got Jibreel Black's vote:
“The best pass blocker I went against is probably Taylor Lewan, most definitely. Running wise, I would have to say (Steve) Schilling.
Lewan's recruiting profile constantly references Jake Long—constantly sees other people reference Jake Long, that is—and sooner or later it seems likely he'll be a star. Since he isn't actually Jake Long a more realistic timeframe may be the Omameh one where the redshirt freshman year sees some sporadic playing time and starts when needed due to veterans getting injured or not performing, leaving the breakout for next year.
Lewan's classmate Michael Schofield is the backup right tackle (though either tackle going down will see Lewan enter the lineup). A well-regarded and athletic but relatively slight four-star prospect coming out of high school, Schofield's put on 25 pounds over the last year and now stands at 293—his father posts enthusiastically on Scout about how none of his clothes fit any more. Despite that gain, Schofield is probably another year or two away from playing time. In the fall scrimmage he was one of the few linemen to draw Rodriguez's ire (pad level, naturally).
Somewhat frighteningly, there are no other scholarship backups, not even true freshmen. In the event Angry Michigan Secondary-Hating God gets bored and starts picking off tackles like it's going out of style, the last-ditch option is either moving Omameh outside or bringing in Ricky Barnum, who's practiced everywhere his first two years at Michigan.
Rating: 4 of 5.
|seals Ethan Johnson|
|kicks out DT|
|executes tough reach|
|excellent scoop block|
|gets a cutback lane|
|cuts the living hell out of LB|
|blocks no one|
|shoots upfield immediately|
|slanting DT into backfield|
Steve Schilling, now a candidate for the Brooks Bollinger Memorial Eighth-Year Senior Award, returns for a fourth year as a starter. Unfortunately, none of those years have been super awesome. Persistent pass-protection issues at right tackle (perhaps understandable since Schilling's high school team almost literally never threw the ball) forced him to move inside last year, where his pass-protection issues were mitigated… but not exactly quashed. He came in for some worry after the Purdue game:
… man, the pass protection issues are not letting up and the second-most vulnerable guy other than whoever the right tackle is has been Schilling, which isn't good. You can sort of understand why a two-star sophomore who had only MAC offers is struggling at tackle. Schilling's at an easier spot and is a five-star junior. At this point he's probably not going to live up to the hype. That's not to say he's bad, but pass protection breakdowns from the LG spot are really frustrating, especially when there are many incidents where Schilling doesn't lose his guy but gets shoved so far back in the pocket that Forcier has nowhere to go when someone comes tearing around the right tackle.
Schilling did do well in Genuinely Sarcastic's run charting last year and get Black's vote for best run blocker, so he's not exactly bad. He's just not what people expected when he was the hotness picking Michigan over USC out of Bellvue, Washington.
He should take another step forward as a senior, obviously, and finish out his career a solid player. Reasonable expectations are being able to hold up against bull-rushes better and pick up more stunts, though that latter issue could be due to the problems at center once Molk went down.
|you go to ground now|
|sees it and jets|
|on his way to six points|
|gets outside the tackle|
David Molk didn't play in spring and had a green jersey through part of fall camp, so the question foremost in your mind is about his health. The good news is that he's basically Mike Martin when it comes to holding a guy out:
Is David Molk healthy now?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah. He scrimmaged yesterday a little bit. We didn’t have him go the whole time for precautionary reasons, but he got a few good series in and did pretty well.”
Hallelujah. Since he missed most of last year there's not a lot more to go on than this site's assessment of his redshirt freshman season, which was rapturous after the Penn State game:
He got dinged later in the year for being small, but in a system like this where he's reach-blocking all day his agility is an asset. Time and again against Penn State he successful executed these blocks, springing people into the secondary. Against Notre Dame he did the same thing.
The issues are obvious, though: too many missed blocks, and too many blocks where he's just not strong enough to deal with his man. But he's a redshirt freshman; strength should come.
As far as last year goes, he did pick up a couple of holding penalties against Western, resulting in a small cluck. The response of Rodriguez, who called him "one of the team's best players," and the offense when he went out with an injury indicates just how important he was to the team.
Healthy, back in shape, and ten pounds heavier than he was going into last year—twenty pounds heavier than he was the last time he got a lot of playing time against quality opponents—Molk should be the team's best lineman and in the conversation for All Big Ten at the end of the season, with a Rimington finalist kind of year his max upside.
Last but probably not least when it comes to the starters, redshirt sophomore Patrick Omameh is set to bust out. He was the Lewan of last year, the recipient of a torrent of practice hype who fans were surprised to see on the bench, even more surprised to see him still on the bench when Molk went out, and further surprised still when he danced his way into the starting lineup as a guard when he'd been hyped up as the next great Michigan tackle for going on two years. As late as February I was saying things like "Omameh has always been regarded a left tackle prospect."
This wasn't actually wrong:
But following weeks of pats on the back from his coaches, Omameh, in part of a widespread shift along the line, got the start at right guard in UM's third-to-final game of the year. Not only was it his first game action at the position, Omameh had never even worked at right guard in practice.
Why would Michigan make such a weird move? And then why would they stick with it? Well:
Yuck. Is there any hope for the OL going forward?
Well, Omameh had a very good day, and not just for a redshirt freshman. His agility is as advertised:
He was sealing DTs with Moosman all day; he seemed to have a grasp on pass protection, too. He was so obviously good that he's now your starter at RG, no questions asked, as Huyge and Dorrestein fight it out at right tackle. That's an important step forward for him. If he's languished on the bench as Ferrara got the start the hype on him would be heading towards Grady Brooks territory; as it is he's beaten out some more experienced options and played well as a redshirt freshman. You can now put him in pen somewhere on next year's line.
|great, Hart-like run|
|out on the MLB.|
|kicks the DL down the line by himself|
|pulls Omameh around|
In Michigan's offense the guys who can get 15 yards downfield and put a hat on a guy need to be guards. I can't tell you how many times I've UFRed a play where Michigan has creased the opponent's line and looks set up for a big play only for the guard releasing downfield to do an ole and for Michigan to get three yards. (Here's a Picture Pages from '08 that provides an example.) Last year when Huyge was forced inside his strike rate was iffy, as you can see in his "downfield no" section. Omameh and Schilling provide the potential for Michigan to have two guys who can get blocks downfield, sometimes way downfield, and turn those 3, 4, and 5 yard runs into 10, 15, 20, or more. That's why Omameh's inside.
There he's been getting buckets and buckets of hype, from here and anywhere else you want to look. Like most of the other guys on the line he's packed on the muscle, now checking in at 299 after last year's 276. The thing I remember most from the spring game was Omameh not only sealing but pancaking Renaldo Sagesse, a senior and decent Big Ten player, on one particular zone stretch. If this is true…
"The only way I can tell I'm heavier is by stepping on the scale," Omameh said. "I still feel like, and move like, the way I did when I came in. The strength is evident when I play."
This will be fairly brief since no one on the interior has seen game time. At center the primary backup is Rocko Khoury, a middling three-star recruit who was passed over last year in favor of the crazy shuffling. Since he was a redshirt freshman that's not a huge black mark. The ease with which Mike Martin was crushing him in the fall practice is slightly concerning, but hopefully Martin will be doing that to all manner of opponents.
At guard, redshirt sophomores Ricky Barnum and Elliott Mealer plus redshirt freshman Quinton Washington are the primary backups, with Barnum and Washington the top two guys on the depth chart. All came in fairly highly touted and have enough experience that seeing one on the field—probably Barnum—won't be cause for too much alarm.
Senior John Ferrara has fallen to third-string and will probably be limited to special teams; solitary freshman Christian Pace is guaranteed to redshirt.