"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
"It's game week. Just more focused." Practice today, ready to see how fun practice will be. Excited to hit somebody new this weekend. Camp is tough and repetitive, but it makes the team better, and game week is time to focus on UConn. It's no different opening the season against a "tough opponent" than a MAC school. "Warmup game? I don't think no team on our schedule is a warmup game, man."
Michigan might surprise some people this year because they're putting in the work on the practice field. The schedule is 0-0 right now. "When we come to the game Saturday, and go out there and play our hardest, I'm pretty sure we can come out victors."
"This is Michigan, we have pressure every year." There's no use in worrying about past years, it's time just go out and "win for Michigan. That's our motive this year." Roundtree's confidence level is high, because Coach Magee has prepared the slots to know the game, and they don't have to think out there.
Work hard, stay focused to put himself in a position to succeed. "I know I have to go out there with a hard edge, I know I have to catch every ball that's thrown my way, I know I have to run decent routes, and get open where the quarterback can see me"
Rodriguez rotates the QBs a lot, so the receivers need to get used to all three. All three had fun and competed during camp. "I'll probably have to wait until Saturday to see" who throws the best ball. "I wish I did know [who the starter is]. If I did, I would have told everybody here." Won't find out until Saturday. "All three of them is pretty different," though there are explosive moments with all three. For UConn, it will be tough, and they'll gameplan around whichever guy starts.
Roundtree is comfortable playing slot or out wide, wherever he's needed more. He and Odoms can both play either, though Roundtree likes slot, because he played it in high school. Outside is a more physical position, and Martavious "likes that physical contact a lot."
First impression of Rodriguez: "Spoke to me like a real guy." Even before Roy was on the team, coach Rod was motivating him. "He never lied to me like other coaches did. He just always spoke the truth to me." Rodriguez used the upgraded Big House as a recruiting pitch. The players will get goosebumps to finally experience it. "I can't believe the stadium is looking like this."
"It's exciting. There's a lot of excitement around the building" getting into game week. The team is excited to finally go against someone else. There's plenty of motivation for a successful season. "My senior year, definitely want to have success, going out the right way." Schilling saw success as a freshman, and would like to bring back that feeling.
Three years into this offense, there's a much better comfort level for everyone, and they know more what's going on. The first year, they were getting used to it. Older guys can help teach the younger guys, which helps eeryone get into the swing of things. "We've had guys stepping up" as leaders on offense. Upperclassmen, QBs, seniors, etc. It's a good group of guys that have played the last couple years.
First impressions of RR - "I try not to make first impressions, really." Knew he was more fiery than coach Carr. Rodriguez has had success in the past, so he commands respect. That doesn't change even with the lack of success the past two year. Schililng has gained more respect for him past couple years as they've gone through adversity together.
The defense won't be quite the same without Brandon Graham. "It's different. Guys have stepped in. Brandon was a hell of a player, obviously." Other guys are working hard to step up. It's their time to shine. Greg Banks has experience, Ryan Van Bergen has experience, they understand what they're doing, and "the pressure it takes to play here, and play every Saturday at a high level."
Tate has responded well to the challenges of this fall. "Obviously he went through some adversity there with Troy's comments and the wings and all that stuff you guys know about." He's worked hard to prove himself, and show that he wants to be the team's quarterback. "I'm definitely gaining a lot of respect back for Tate," as are a lot of others.
Offense - "hopefully we can do everything well." The offensive line is proud of the team's ability to rush the ball.
Patrick Omameh has "grown up a lot, physically and mentally" the last three years. He got the chance to play some last year. He and Schilling can help each other out as the guards. "I think he's going to have a great career here. He's a young guy, and he's gonna need to contribute a lot this fall."
Mark Huyge has had some experience, and has played at both tackles (and even some guard). "That level of communication and trust is there between me and Mark and we know where each other's going to be, and what we expect out of each other."
Huyge and Dorrestein were motivated by the competition with the younger guys. Didn't want to lose their starting jobs. "Helped them get better, made them work extra hard in the off-season."
Taylor Lewan - "He's young, and he plays so hard." He has a bright future as he learns more and gets more comfortable there. He'll be able to contribute whether he's starting or not.
Mark Moundros listed first on the depth chart is not surprising given his work ethic and attitude. "He's a guy who'll do anything for Michigan." He has a defensive attitude, even at fullback. He's smart, and he's working really hard to learn.
Will Hagerup "kicks it a mile... I don't know anything about punting technique, but he can kick it far."
The defense will improve because they're more well-rounded. There are lot of different guys that can step up. Won't rely only on one guy or a couple guys. Lots of playmakers. Depth on the defensive line will help.
UConn "They're a good team... I know they've prepared for us, and we've done the same." Both teams will play hard and "we'l see who gets the 'W' at the end."
Martin has confidence in stopping the run against UConn. Getting to the ball, gap responsibility, more experience and depth on D-line and linebacking corps. GERG stresses minimum assignment - "getting in your gap and then playing football from there."
"As a defensive line we take a lot of pride in getting to the quarterback." Martin thinks they'll do a good job doing it this year. Not worried about the secondary: "They're gonna hold their own back there. They're going to do a good job with coverage, and we're gonna do our job with getting the rush."
"I'm definitely ready" for a big workload. BG played almost 700 plays last year, Martin only played slightly fewer, and he's used to a heavy workload. Patterson and Campbell will be good at backup. Ideal number of plays? Nose tackles don't usually play 70 plays a game. Martin is proud of his conditioning (thanks to Barwis) that will allow him to play so much.
Carvin Johnson is "a smart football player. He's always around the ball. He's a young guy, but he's a hard worker." He has "been getting interceptions, laying the wood on tackles." He doesn't say much, and wants to prove himself on the field. He's been impressive this camp. Like everyone on the defense, he has room to improve.
"I think they know that" the freshmen will play a big role on defense in the first game. Might need to calm them down a bit, because secondary players can't be quite as riled up as defensive linemen. "Just getting them relaxed, and getting them ready to play, and I think they'll do a good job."
The loudest crowd Martin has experienced at the Big House was Notre Dame last year, followed by Wisconsin the previous year.
Hasn't had the experience of going to a bowl game yet, team is hungry to do that. This game has a lot of excitement with the rededication, Brock, etc. The team is excited.
Leadership - "I'm not much of a talker, hoo-rah guy. I just go out there and play hard." Some of the seniors on defense - Mouton, Banks - pull guys together, and Martin has their backs.
It's a big week. Things change a lot in game week. "We all feel good as a whole." It's the third year, and they have a good grasp of the system. "We feel well-prepared, and ready to go."
"All three quarterbacks are great." Devin did a great job coming in and learning the offense. Other than how fast the balls come and where they come, it's all good. "I've developed timing and confidence in all three of them." Devin throws the fastest ball. No hand injuries from that yet.
The difference this camp is "I feel like I'm the oldest. And I have to step up and take that leadership role." The experienced guys have to step up and take leadership roles. "I had a great leader in Greg." Martavious, Stonum, and others have to be that for the young guys. "I just try to lead by example." In weight room, workouts, camp.
Contacts - "They're great. Did an eye test this summer, they wanted me to try out these new contacts." They help a lot, as he can see much clearer, and has an easier time focusing on the ball.
Stadium rededication - "I'm pretty sure it's probably gonna be a lot louder." The field is still 100x53.3, and "we just line up and play."
Stonum hasn't taken any big hits from Carvin Johnson. "Maybe not from Carvin, but Marvin... Luckily they haven't gotten any shots on me yet." "Carvin is like a ballhawk... Wherever the ball is, you're gonna find Carvin most of the time." He never gives up on a play, and gives his all on the fields.
Freshmen have all done a great job, especially defensive backs. With Troy going down, lots of guys trying to step in and prove they can fill his shoes. There's great competition in practice, which is improving the whole team.
Outside receivers not getting passes the last couple years could be attributed to getting used to the system. In Stonum's third year, he's worked hard in the offseason with the QBs. Used camp to prove the outside guys can be go-to and make big plays. We'll see a lot of that this year.
Learn from the master. Not to be outdone by some twit in a hat, Nick Saban dropped the boom on two players on the eve of fall camp. One learned he'd "failed a physical" and is either going to be medially disqualified by Alabama's doctors and placed on a scammy hardship scholarship (someone should figure out how many kids have been placed on medical scholarships since Saban arrived; I'm willing to bet it's triple the rate of a sampling of representative schools) or transfer. The other was just straight up deferred because the wrong number of kids got eligible. The usual goes here.
Something unusual: it looks like we're at a turning point as far as media attention goes to this stuff. In the last week both SI's Andy Staples and CBS screedmaster Gregg Doyel have taken up the baton. If you've ever read a Doyel piece you can Mad Libs the nouns between the bombast but at least this time he's struck on something worthy of some portion of the usual outrage. The thrust of his piece is actually too kind since he focuses on exceeding the 25 player limit, which these days you can only do by three, instead of the disparity between some incoming recruiting classes and the number of scholarships available for them. Those can hit double-digits. In LSU's case, they had 27 signees and two early enrollees so they could have gotten everyone on campus if not for the 85 cap. I'll take any attention this issue gets but Doyel's got a lot of his facts wrong.
Meanwhile, Staples has been SI's main recruiting reporter for a few years now. He knows the field, and I'm not just saying that because he's on board with the idea that you shouldn't be able to sign a player unless you can show where the scholarship is coming from. A note on that—Staples says:
Yahoo!'s Matt Hinton and MGoBlog's Brian Cook, two people who have written thoughtfully on this subject in the past, had a brilliant suggestion so simple that even a heavy-handed bureaucracy should be able to bring it to fruition: Make a rule that requires schools to give an actual scholarship to every player they sign to a letter-of-intent.
Cook even suggested raising scholarship limits if necessary. I disagree. If a school has 22 slots on Feb. 2, 2011, it should sign 22 players. If three of those players don't qualify, that's the coach's fault for not recruiting more academically sound prospects. He can play the season with 82 players on scholarship and sign more next year.
I don't think I was clear enough when I suggested the same thing I always suggest. Two scenarios I think would be good for college football:
- LOIs are binding both ways for one year. If you sign a player and he does not qualify or you can't fulfill the promise made, you don't get to use that scholarship the next year.
- LOIs are actually binding for two years. If you lose a player like above, you can't use the scholarship for the next two recruiting classes. Since this one is more punitive I'd give schools the leeway of an extra scholarship or two.
Either one is fine by me; in scenario 1 I don't think you need more scholarships.
As this gets on the radar of more reporters, coaches across the country will have to start justifying departures from their program, and maybe in a year or two the noise will be enough to force the NCAA to take action. Coaches will caterwaul, but what are they going to do, quit?
(HT: Doc Sat.)
Captains. I forewent retweeting the RR tweet announcing your 2010 permanent captains because if I had it eight times in my feed chances are everyone else had it at least twice already. For those opposed to societal ADD, the guys are Steve Schilling and Mark Moundros. Moundros is representing the defense. The official site's much less horrible video page has reactions from Schilling and Moundros on the honor; Michigan will still pick two additional game captains throughout the season.
This is undoubtedly overreacting to a tiny slice of information, but it's the day after the first fall football practice. If there's a national day of Overreacting To Tiny Slices of Information, it's today. So: guuuuh linebackers. Michigan's got a couple of fifth-year multi-year starters and they get squeezed out of the official captaincy by a walk-on who was a fullback until spring practice. This is the most circumstantial of evidence but since we have three years of direct evidence that the linebackers aren't very good, it does not make me feel awesome.
Who wants to bet that someone at a newspaper or in sports radio declares this a repudiation of Rodriguez? We should start a pool. I've got Jeff DeFran.
Elsewhere in grunting. This is not so good:
“We have quite a few guys in very good shape, a handful who are in OK shape and a small handful not ready to play Division I football,” he said.
Rodriguez specifically omitted freshmen from his crap list, so Richard Ash—listed at a flabby 320 on the fall roster—is not one of those guys. I'm afraid he might be making a pointed statement directed at Will Campbell, who is the biggest guy on the team at 333 (mark of the half-beast!). This would crush my dream of having a Sagesse/Campbell rotation at the nose free Mike Martin to wreak havoc as a 3-tech DT/5-tech 3-3-5 DE.
Graham is destroying. A steady stream of articles declaring Brandon Graham the next Dwight Freeney, except better, have hit the sidebar, and now here's some main column action:
"I look at him as another (Dwight) Freeney deal," said Cole, referring to the Colts' five-time Pro Bowler. "He's a great player and just keep watching because he's going to be pretty good."
Also Andy Reid dropped a quote that may lend some credence to both EEEE Barwis and a hopefully burgeoning EEEE Bruce Tall contingent:
"He's done very well with that," said Reid. "He's very strong in the lower body; he's very strong in the upper body, too. His lower body, he's got a nice anchor there and good core strength and understands how to use his hands and arms and plays with separation on the linemen."
If we see Roh and Van Bergen do this consistently this year, Tall will enter the pantheon of assistant coaches Michigan fans can't bitch about currently inhabited by Greg Frey, Calvin Magee, and maybe Rod Smith.
Etc.: Ron English says he doesn't want to recruit kids without father figures. Detroit head coach says "that's insane" because "what he's asking for, we don't have." This makes me terribly sad for Detroit. Chad Henne has one vote for Tate. Tom Dienhart's extensive season preview has just two M players (Molk and Schilling) on his all Big Ten first- and second-teams (Stonum is the second-team kick returner), but manages to slot Michigan fifth despite this.
First things first, the Michigan Spring Game will now serve as a fundraiser for Mott Children's Hospital. Though the event will still be free to the public, they will have the opportunity to donate money to Mott as they enter - with incentives!
- $5 Donation - "All in for Michigan Towel"
- $20 Donation - "All in for Michigan, All in for Mott" T-Shirt
- $250 Donation - 4 Passes to a pre-season scrimmage(!)
- $500 Donation - 2 pre-game sideline passes to a 2010 football game (BGSU, UMass, Iowa, or Illinois).
The Beam Family of Brighton, MI will also match every donation that is made during the Spring Game. This fundraiser continues Michigan football's long-standing relationship with Mott.
The Spring Game festivities kick off an April 17th at 11AM, with the Alumni Flag Football Game (gates open at 10AM). The team takes the field for warmups around noon, and the game itself starts at 1. Unfortunately, the team doesn't have enough healthy players to be able to do a full scrimmage with teams divided up, but they'll do more offense v. defense things. In future years, a game-like scrimmage will be possible.
- Injuries: Vladimir Emilien and Jared Van Slyke both sprained knees, and are out a few weeks. They're hopeful that Emilien will be back for the final week of spring practice. Je'Ron Stokes sprained his ankle and Anthony LaLota injured his elbow, both should be out about a week. David Molk is able to run a bit and snap the ball, but he won't participate in any contact this spring. Everyone who had surgery in the off-season is progressing on schedule or even faster.
- The team will have three scrimmages this spring. This upcoming Saturday will be the first one. There will also be one the week before the spring game, and the Spring Game itself.
- Offense: Last year's offense was decent, but there were times (especially with turnovers) that they missed opportunities due to poor execution. This spring, they're focusing on improving that, as well as becoming more physical.
- Quarterbacks: Denard Robinson hasn't played anything other than QB so far this spring, but if it becomes clear he's not going to get tons of snaps there, he'll play other positions in addition. Devin Gardner is behind the other two QBs, as he still needs to learn the offense. His throwing mechanics are looking good though.
- Running Backs: Even the guys who have some experience are pretty young. Mike Cox has a very good opportunity this spring, and he should contribute this fall.
- Offensive Line: Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge are the veterans at the tackle positions. Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield will push them. The freshmen have gotten bigger, and will try to prove themselves this spring. If multiple guys at a position are able to help the team win, they'll play at tackle.
- Defense: They'll tweak defensive packages for the various offensive schemes they'll see this fall. The challenge is to have a wide enough variety of packages to be able to play every offense, while keeping the overall defense simple enough for the players to be able to learn it well.
- Defensive line: There isn't a lot of experienced depth on the offensive line, but that just means guys who need lots of reps this spring will be able to get them. Will Campbell is improving, he added a lot of strength to go with his weight this offseason. The coaches are excited to see what Anthony LaLota can do when he returns from injury, as he had a good offseason as well.
- Linebackers - Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh have impressed this spring, as has Mark Moundros, who is moonlighting at linebacker since the fullback doesn't play that many downs in this offense. Rodriguez thinks Mouton played well last year, but Obi seemed to falter down the stretch. One of the big factors in lackluster LB play last year was a lack of depth - the D would play well for a couple downs or even a few drives, then opposing offenses would have their way with them.
- Safeties - With Emilien and Van Slyke out, a number of younger guys are getting a chance to play this spring. Cameron Gordon is playing well at safety. Brandin Hawthorne will play both safety and hybrid.
- Corners: JT Floyd has been playing well this spring. The coaches are putting some real pressure on him, and he's responding well. Justin Turner is also getting a lot of reps.
- The offensive line intensity has been good in the first few days. There is a lot of depth, and the young guys are ready to prove themselves. The guys are ready to hit.
- Schilling is excited to be a leader on the offensive line. He has lots of experience, and the rest of the guys who have been around a while are helping the young offensive linemen come along for the future. Stephen is up to about 305 pounds, after playing last year around the 295 range.
- Taylor Lewan, Quinton Washington, and Michael Schofield are three of the hardest workers on the offensive line. Lewan and Washington in particular seem ready to prove they can contribute on the field. They're hoping to push for some playing time. Lewan has a nasty streak in the way he plays.
- The defense has been playing primarily a 3-3-5 this spring. Typically, Michigan's offensive front only sees odd front in passing situations, but Schilling thinks they'll be able to do a lot of good things out of this formation.
- Patrick Omameh is very comfortable at guard (from the way Schilling was talking, it sounds like this move is probably permanent). When Molk comes back from his injury, the interior of the offensive line will be very good. Molk played very well before getting injured, and Patrick finished the year very strong.
- The running backs got some reps last year, but Schilling is excited to see what they can do, especially with all the depth in the backfield. Michael Shaw is a good speed back, Cox and Toussaint can pound the ball well, and when he comes back, Vincent Smith can do it all - including catch out of the backfield.
- Schilling is bummed he won't be around for the first night game in Michigan Stadium. It's especially exciting for a game against a rival like Notre Dame. He'll try to make it back for the game if he can.
- This is Troy's first time in a 3-3-5 type of defense. It's the best formation for the personnel that this team has right now. Troy has built up a comfort level with Greg Robinson's coaching after being a bit skeptical at first last year. He likes the way GERG coaches, and believes in what he says. The coaches are working to make sure the players - especially the younger ones - are learning well.
- Switching positions all the time last year hurt him a bit, but for the long-term, it's actually been a help. At corner, he now understands what the safeties will be doing, and can trust in the scheme a bit more. He still has to work on his technique at corner a bit.
- Cameron Gordon has lots of natural ability, and is very good at reading his keys. JT Floyd has been looking really good lately, and understands the game a bit better. He had a nice interception the other day. Justin Turner is still young, but is coming along well. Mike Williams and Jordan Kovacs both like the positions they've moved to. For both of them, there's an emphasis at the new positions on coming up and making tackles, rather than playing in deep coverage. That plays to both of their strengths.
- With all the 3-3-5 talk, I've been assuming Craig Roh would mostly play with his hand down for more of a 4-2-5 look, but that wasn't the case. He was practicing with the other LBs, on the first unit with Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton.
- Tate Forcier is still clearly the best passer of the QBs. Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson were about even, with Devin maybe a liiitle more accurate (except on the longball, which he overthrew quite a bit). Denard probably has a much deeper understanding of the passing game, and would be more able to contribute.
- Looked like they might be preparing the throw it to the RBs a bit more this season. They went away from it a bit when Carlos Brown went out, but Vincent Smith did have a few catches last season.
- Mike Martin isn't practicing in the spring (shoulder surgery), but he was running laps around the indoor field. I guarantee you he's faster than me, despite being 300ish pounds and looking like the Hulk.
- MI DE Brennen Beyer was visiting practice today.
Personnel notes: Omameh played the whole game at right guard; Huyge played the whole game at RT. Roundtree was the only slot the whole day. Brown saw about four plays late; he was replaced by Grady, Shaw, and Smith.
Formation notes: A lot more two-back sets without a tight end against Purdue. Don't know why.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||10|
|Excellent scoop block from Moosman(+1) and Omameh(+1) seals the playside DT and gets Omameh out on the MLB. Shaw shoots up in the hole ahead of Minor and does get enough of the OLB to clear him out of the path; Minor's got a crease and takes it, raging his way until two Purdue guys close him down as he nears the marker.|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||2|
|Purdue brings a safety to the line and blitzes two linebackers. Minor heads to the backside of the play to take out the backside DE as Purdue stunts. Ortmann(-1) can't block the DE to his side and Omameh(-1) loses the playside DT as he slants outside; those two guys come down to tackle. Good playcall from Purdue, I guess (RPS -1)|
|M31||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-7|
|Purdue blitzes a linebacker right into this and he gets in on Forcier as soon as he rolls out; Forcier manages to school the guy and make him miss. Unfortunately, Minor(-1) loses the DE and that guy cleans up for the sack. Almost a great play from Tate. (PR, 0, protection 0/1, Minor -1, RPS -1)|
|M24||3||15||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Seam||Roundtree||26|
|Michigan gets to the line very quickly and catches Purdue unprepared for the snap. Roundtree immediately bursts open on the seam; Forcier is looking elsewhere. He comes off the outside receiver and goes to Roundtree, but only after scrambling forward. His pass is way, way short and gives the tampa-2 MLB a better shot at the ball than Roundtree, but Roundtree adjusts and manages to wrestle himself into a simultaneous possession call. If thrown deep this is a touchdown, as Roundtree had the deep middle by yards. (IN, 1, protection 2/2) Replay opinion: absolutely simultaneous possession.|
|50||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Short bubble||Roundtree||10|
|Differentiating here from the full bubble, which threatens to get outside the outside WR's block, and this adjustment Michigan put in after people freaked out about the bubble where the WR runs a shorter route and heads directly upfield, as Roundtree does here. This is open as the short LB is focusing on the run and the safety is in a soft, soft man on Roundtree. Roundtree's not fast but he is quick in short spaces and does a great job of getting upfield quickly here. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||11|
|Linebacker freezes because of a Minor dive fake, which opens up a slant for Roundtree that Forcier nails with perfect timing; Roundtree brings it in and drives for another first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||29|
|They've made that adjustment I wanted them to make last week: again the lead blocker shoots up into the hole as Michigan gives the playside DT a true double. Shaw(+1) blocks the OLB and Minor hits the the gap in the line, cutting up behind Shaw's block and running through a poor tackle from the Purdue safety. Slowed, he manages to split three more Purdue defenders, stiff arm the safety, and dive in for a touchdown. Probably the first run on Minor's NFL highlight reel. BONUS: Watch Roundtree(+1) realize what's happening on the play and run downfield to truck a safety. How did Kelvin Grady ever get on the field ahead of this guy?|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 10 min 1st Q. Roundtree may have already had the best game of any Michigan receiver all year. Stonum returns kick for nice field position on next drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||5|
|Same deal with the scoop block on the frontside tackle getting him sealed and Shaw taking on the OLB. Shaw(-1) ends up getting plowed over by his guy, which forces Minor outside; OLB makes an ankle tackle with help from the safety. Could have broken bigger. Omameh(+1) is doing a very good job so far.|
|O35||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Out||Roundtree||6|
|Very simple as Purdue is in man and the safety, way off the line, has responsibility here. There's no way he can close down the space before Forcier can hook up with Roundtree for a first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Triple option pitch||Minor||-5|
|Sharik says that the problem here is that Forcier screws up the read because the DE is containing, not crashing, and that he needs to give on the dive. More on this later. Small problem: dive won't work anyway because Omameh(-1) blew past the slanting DT and he's into the hole; Shaw will have to cut back into that DE, I think. That, at least, is a better outcome than what happens: Forcier keeps, DE forces an early pitch, and and unblocked safety comes crashing down to smoke Minor in the backfield. (ZR -1) BWS picture-paged this.|
|O34||2||15||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Throwaway||--||Inc|
|Max pro and Purdue still gets through because Ortmann(-1) gets beaten by one DE and Huyge(-1) loses the other one; Purdue's gotten outside their rush lanes, though, and Forcier can scramble out. Savoy is covered, Roundtree doubled, and Forcier signals Savoy deep before chucking the ball OOB. Maybe had a few yards if he just took off but this is a net positive given the protection. (TA, 0, protection 0/2)|
|O34||3||15||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Hemingway||Inc|
|Pass tipped by a stunting Purdue DT. Play was well set up, with room for Hemingway to get at least ten or so and maybe a first down. (BA, 0, screen)|
|Drive Notes: FG(51), 10-10, 6 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Short bubble||Roundtree||4|
|Same short bubble with the LB lined up over the second slot receiver getting to the outside, which is right where Michigan wants him as Roundtree again heads upfield inside. Safety reacts more quickly this time and holds it down. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M31||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read veer||Robinson||-3|
|Robinson in as an RB, and they block down, leaving the frontside DE unblocked. He keeps contain; Forcier hands it off anyway (ZR -1) and Robinson gets smoked.|
|Forcier has plenty of time and a nice pocket, but can't find anyone open. He's only got three options and Purdue has dropped off very deep, so no one's open. He decides to take off, and gets the first down. As per new policy, not charting good scrambling decisions as TAs. (Protection 2/2)|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Dive||Minor||7|
|Not a read: Michigan blocks the backside DE and pulls Omameh around after Schilling down-blocks the playside DT into oblivion. LBs are not expecting this and Omameh gets a block on the MLB, allowing Minor to hit it up for good yardage.|
|M46||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||4|
|Roundtree loses his footing as he brings this in and is unable to cut this upfield; he ends up stumbling into the WR/DB block and pushing ahead for a few. (CA, 3, screen)|
|50||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Penalty||False start||Mathews||-5|
|M45||1||15||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||55|
|Purdue shifted a bit towards the wide side of the field, where Roundtree awaits a potential bubble. Instead the stretch. Michigan cuts the lead blocker up into the hole this time as Schilling(+1) and Moosman(+1) execute an excellent scoop block on the playside DT, sealing him. Schilling releases to kick out the OLB; the MLB is hunting around the backside of the play. Grady(+1) then gets just enough of the safety to spring Minor into the secondary, where he shows a good top gear. Hurray for actually using the lead blocker on the stretch.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-10, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M8||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Minor||-1|
|Purdue MLB is flowing very fast downhill here and Omameh has no shot at releasing into him despite going downfield immediately. Moosman(+1) has sealed the playside DT and there is a crease for Minor but that linebacker fills it and the play goes nowhere. Not sure what's wrong with this play; as designed it looks like it can't work. Waggle would probably catch guys out of position, I guess.|
|M7||2||11||Pro Set Twins||2||1||2||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Savoy||5|
|Don't know why this isn't from the shotgun but okay whatever. Simple rollout hitch that's basically on time; immediate tackle. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M12||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Hitch||Koger||10|
|Excellent timing from Forcier this time as the ball is already halfway there by the time Koger turns around, which prevents Purdue from getting to Koger before he catches it; Koger even gets a yard or two after the catch. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout fade||Savoy||22|
|Michigan has run this all year; usually they end up hitting the underneath receiver running an out as they run their version of a cover-two beater. Here the CB pulls up a bit and Forcier goes for the fade. Excellent timing and location away from the safety; nice catchable ball for Savoy. Precision. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep Post||Roundtree||Inc|
|This is a deep, deep drop, as Forcier wanders back from his shotgun position and ends up tossing the ball ten yards back from the LOS. First time I've seen this all year. Purdue is blitzing and leaving man coverage on the outside. Michigan in max protect and sliding the coverage; Shaw and Grady both do just okay on their guys and I think Forcier has to throw this a half second before he wants to. Roundtree is breaking past the safety on a post but the ball, thrown off the back foot, is well overthrown. (IN, 0, protection 2/3, Shaw –1, RPS +1)|
|M44||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Forcier||17|
|With Purdue thinking pass after the last four plays Michigan goes with the draw and it opens up as Omameh and Moosman down-block the playside DT out of the picture and Grady(+1) gets a pop on the OLB; the other linebackers were heading into man coverage. Watch Omameh(+1) peel off the DT and run downfield to get a block on the MLB after the sticks.|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-4|
|Intended to be a bubble screen but the Purdue corner jumps it and Forcier decides not to throw the ball. Good decision. Better decision would have been to wing it out of bounds. Forcier starts scrambling around but that's not going to work. (TA, 0, screen, RPS -1) Need to hit them up with the fake bubble-seam thing to keep 'em honest.|
|O43||2||14||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Deep Post||Roundtree||57|
|Michigan's got a tipoff on Purdue's blitzes or something because the Boilers bring six this time and leave two guys manning up on the RBs; it's again man zero on the wideouts. Forcier takes another deep drop and this time gets protection, throwing a 20-yard dart downfield to Roundtree(+2) on the post. Roundtree then stiffarms the safety at the 15 and rolls in for a touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 3/3, RPS +3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-10, 8 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||7|
Purdue slants the line away from the direction of the stretch—never happens in one RB sets—and this gives Smith the corner as Huyge does a pretty decent job of sealing the playside DE and preventing him from darting into the backfield. Er. Correction: Huyge holds the hell out of him. No call.
This gives Smith the corner; the MLB flows to the ball too quickly for Schilling to get out on him and makes a good tackle after a few yards; Smith almost runs through it but bangs into Minor and falls.
|O42||2||3||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-8|
|Same play that was the Roundtree TD and it again catches Purdue in man zero. Forcier pumps, which makes me think they're running a stop and go but there's no confirmation of that. After the pump he loads up to throw... and gets killed by a guy who beat Schilling(-2) one-on-one. (PR, 0, protection 0/2) Forcier fumbles and Schilling recovers.|
|50||3||11||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Stonum||Inc|
|Stonum was dead meat anyway because a stunting DT came around and knocked Schilling to the ground as he tried to release downfield and the guy Schilling was supposed to block was coming in to murder-death-kill Stonum. Still... gotta catch the ball. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-10, 5 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||6|
|Hard to tell exactly what's going on here because BTN is checking out the suites; when we cut to the play Moosman(+1) has sealed the playside DT and Minor is heading through the gap; Grady gets a lead block on the OLB and Omameh(+1) is killing the MLB; safety comes up to clean up after seven.|
|M27||2||4||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||4|
|Virtual replay; seal isn't quite as good this time and the OLB attacks the hole more quickly; Grady ends up cutting him but Minor has to gingerly pick through the mess. He does so, falling forward for near first-down yardage.|
|M31||3||In||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB sneak||Forcier||2|
|Insert complaint about Illinois goal line stand here.|
|M33||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||0|
|Em... maybe some variation? Purdue slants under the play; Omameh(+1) does a good job of adjusting to it; he's getting driven back but gets playside of the guy and prevents him from making a tackle. Minor to the edge, but the MLB has again leapt past the attempted second-level block from Schilling and filled the hole, where he does a great job of forcing Minor out for no gain. Michigan's not doing enough to make him hesitant.|
|M33||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Triple option pitch||--||-14|
|DE is totally crashing down so the pull is the right move, but the cornerback to the playside is either blitzing or has this play dead to rights because he is coming in for the triple option on the snap. He's the guy who's out on Forcier, which is weird because he should probably take Minor; Forcier does a terrible job of reading this and ends up making a huge mistake by pitching the ball; corner deflects it and Purdue recovers. (RPS -2)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 24-10, 13 min 3rd Q. Stonum gets another good return.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch(?)||Minor||1|
|This is like the sixth play the BTN has missed part of. This is ridiculous. Minor gets a yard; I don't know what went wrong.|
|O45||2||9||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Quick wheel||Minor||Inc|
|Looks like it's breaking open as Purdue is in cover three so the CB to this side is bailing out and Minor will get the ball with an opportunity to thump some guys; Forcier throws it at Minor's knees and he can't dig it out. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|Not going to get a first down but it's a hot read with Purdue blitzing; Mathews(+2) breaks a tackle from the Purdue CB and turns it into a big chunk of yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1) Better read was probably the TE seam but it works.|
|O17||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Short bubble||Roundtree||7|
|Another play they miss the start of because they're showing eight replays. Michigan runs the short bubble again and Roundtree zips upfield, juking past the safety and getting down to the ten. Good timing on these things and Roundtree is good about catching them in a spot where he can dart immediately upfield. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O10||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||Power O(!)||Minor||4|
|Gap-blocked play with a pulling Schilling. Omameh(+1) kicks the Purdue DL down the line by himself; Huyge releases into the MLB; Koger(-1) loses the DE and forces Schilling to block him instead of head to the second level. Good adjustment from Schilling. Minor cuts behind that and the Huyge block to plow for a first down.|
|O6||1||G||Shotgun Twins 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Forcier||6|
|Excellent read from Forcier here as the Purdue DE crashes on Minor; the OLB has sucked up to the line and is eliminated by Webb(+1) and the MLB is not scraping so Forcier's got a lane. Safety hits Forcier(+1) at the two but he manages to fall in. (ZR +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(Missed XP... sigh), 30-17, 11 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M18||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Forcier||1|
|DE crashes down so Forcier pulls it but Purdue has shifted right before the snap and brought a safety down for QB contain; he gets out on the keeper and shuts it down. A perfect play for the RPS metric. This one is a -1.|
|M17||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Short bubble||Roundtree||0|
|Back to the well one too many times; OLB is right there on the catch. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)|
|Max pro. Purdue in zone coverage that looks like a cover-3. Forcier decides to scramble up as Koger(-1) is chucked out of the way by a DE; there he meets a guy who's shot by Schilling(-1) then come around his futile attempt to resume the block; Forcier gets sacked. Seven blockers, four rushers. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 30-31, 3 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M16||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA short seam||Roundtree||16|
|The counter to the well they went to too many times on the last drive: bubble fake, Roundtree runs straight upfield, Forcier nails him, some nice YAC.. (CA, 3, protection NA, RPS +1)|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||3|
|Michigan now expects the MLB to have to respect the play they just ran and runs it directly where he probably shouldn't be. Play opens up pretty well but Omameh(-1) gives too much ground and Minor has to slow down as he awkwardly cuts past the mess, which gives the OLB time to react. Some seam PA would kill these guys.|
|M35||2||7||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout scramble||Forcier||4|
|Roundtree's out is covered by the Purdue OLB and the deep route is doubled, so Forcier's out of throwin' options and decides to take off behind the pass block of Minor. Guy comes off the block to make a tackle as Forcier passes; nice play. (TA, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M39||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Forcier||4|
|Purdue prepared for this, with the playside DE slanting inside Ortmann and forcing Forcier outside. Minor reads it and heads outside, as does Forcier; Minor pops the MLB but Forcier has no choice but to hit it up into the same guy. Their combined momentum pushes the pile forward and over the line.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Power dive||Minor||0|
|Omameh pulls around. Schilling(-1) doesn't do well with his guy and Omameh gets delayed, which allows the MLB to attack his block near the LOS and forces Minor to hop around, delaying this and turning it into not much of a gain.|
|M43||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Zone read veer||Minor||21|
|This is the inverse of the play that was picture-paged Tuesday, with the line blocking down, Minor heading upfield, and Forcier the threat that needs to be contained. This time Tate hands it off as the DE is running upfield at him; to me this is an angle that makes it really hard to tell what to do. Zone read stuff is hard. (ZR +1) I think the key is that the DE here is taking an angle and running at a speed that makes it hard for him to defend anything. Anyway: handoff, Minor zips past the DE and the rest of the Purdue D is anticipating a stretch so Minor can run behind the block of Schilling; Ortmann doesn't even have anyone to take on. MLB reacts late and can only dive at Minor's feet; from there he's gone until the safety manages to make a touchdown-saving tackle from behind.|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||4|
|Play is well blocked with Moosman(+1) getting the playside DT seal he's gotten virtually all day and Grady getting out to pop the OLB that should be the last thing between Smith and a big gainer; Purdue's safety was coming up for a short zone/run contain on the snap, though, and is there to fill as Smith pops out of the crease.|
|O32||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||1|
|Same play from O and D. The Purdue DT doesn't get sealed quite as authoritatively and Smith only has a small crease to dart through, that one it takes a little bit longer for him to get to. This allows the meh backside scoop block to screw up the play; Ortmann is escorting his guy down the line—delay, no seal, and when Smith pops through he's there along with the guy Schilling(-1) failed to cut downfield. No joy.|
|O31||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Oh, man. Forcier does see Stonum open is and darts it to him, at which point a Purdue safety makes a great play to come up and bat the ball away from behind. All credit to that guy. Terrific play. But, a necessary consequence of that is Roundtree's wheel route opening up for a potential TD. He'd have to see it quick and get rid of it quick with a guy coming up to contain but maybe that's a play he makes later in his career? (CA, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(48), 30-31, 12 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||2|
|Forcier has to scramble out because Omameh(-1) and Moosman(-1) get split by a DT as they're trying to slide the protection, and then Minor(-1) gets owned by the DE he's trying to pick up. Forcier does well to move up, move out, and scramble for a few yards. (PR, 0, protection 0/3)|
|M24||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Edge pitch||Brown||6|
|Roundtree gets outside of the OLB, which isn't too hard because the OLB is lined up inside of him, and gets Brown the edge. Safety fills quickly, forcing Brown back into the flowing linebackers.|
|M30||3||2||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||1|
|Thought this was a called play live but apparently not; the WRs are running routes. Forcier just sees the hole open up in front of him as a DT stunts around and thinks he can take it; he doesn't account for Huyge(-1) getting tossed aside like a rag doll and that guy making a tackle. Unfortunate; this really looked like it was an easy first down. Not charted.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 30-38, 9 min 4th Q. Zoltan launches one after a stupid delay call because Michigan thinks about going for it.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||11|
|Purdue still fighting to the stretch side of these block and Minor gets a cutback lane as Michigan is blocking the backside DE and Schilling's(+1) escorted the backside DT away, leaving a crease. Moosman(+1) releases downfield late but manages to get a block on the MLB that Minor can cut behind. He then jukes the safety and is trying to cut behind another LB when he trips to the ground over Roundtree.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||20 (Pen -10)|
|Omameh and Moosman are trying to scoop the playside DT and manage to do it okay. Koger(+1) blocks the playside CB and the MLB misses a tackle, springing Minor into the endzone. For naught, as Huyge(-1) gets called for holding his guy. Stupid, as he got his arm up around the neck for no reason. This did not affect the play.|
|O30||1||20||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-1|
|Michigan trying to get Purdue to bite on a bubble fake and go to the fade; Purdue is not having it. Forcier might have an opportunity to do something else but Huyge(-2) has gotten beat around the corner and he has to scramble up, where a linebacker and DT combine to sack. (TA, 0, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)|
|O31||2||21||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Forcier||11|
|Forcier does this mostly by himself as Minor(-1) whiffs his block and Forcier has to make the OLB miss; he does. He then spins through the corner's tackle and falls forward through an ankle tackle from another linebacker. Excellent run.|
|O20||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Out||Savoy||Inc|
|I'm not 100% sure this is accurate but it looks like it will be; Savoy stumbles out of his break and is nowhere near the ball as it falls to the turf. Argh. (CA, N/A, protection 1/1)|
|O20||4||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel||Pass||Crazy Thing||Brown||8 – 5 Pen|
|On Forcier. He's got a pocket he can step into, and does, and no one's coming for him and it's fourth and ten and he chucks a lateral to Brown that has virtually no hope of getting the first down. Brown makes a meal of it, though, breaking a couple tackles and attempting to pitch the ball as he's going down. Huyge grabs it and gets the first but on review it's ruled a forward pass. Correct call. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-38, 4 min 4th Q. Hemingway gets a big punt return.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun 2-backTE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||2|
|Great reach by Moosman(+1) as the DT does not flow down the line; this opens up a crease. Lead-blocking RB heads outside. Argh. This leaves the MLB unblocked when Minor cuts up and he makes a tackle after a short gain.|
|O9||2||8||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||7|
|This seems like a busted route by someone, probably Koger, since both WRs to that side just run right into the endzone. Maybe they're clearing out for Brown, but that doesn't work as an OLB is dropping directly into the area he is. Forcier does have a lot of room on the edge and eventually takes off, nearing the first down. Not filed as a TA.|
|O2||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Power O||Minor||1|
|Schilling pulls around as Michigan attacks the edge. He and Grady double the unblocked DE on the end of the line, blowing him into the endzone, and Minor runs through a diving tackle from the OLB, falling just short of the goal line.|
|O1||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Power O||Minor||1|
|Same play, though on this one Purdue is slanting and it's just a mess and Minor decides to head right upfield, picking up a touchdown when a crease magically opens just as he nears the line.|
|Huyge(-2) gets mauled and Kerrigan comes around to crush Forcier. I think Purdue had covered the first read, Koger, and he was moving up to find another guy. After the game he said he was about to throw it. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(Missed 2PT), 36-38, 2 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted as it is under extreme conditions.|
Well, that wasn't too terrible.
No, it wasn't. And though Purdue is not a great defense they've been decent so far this year. They're currently #67 in total defense at about 370 yards per game, and Michigan gained 427 on 12 drives, 397 of those on the 11 actual drives they had before the looney tunes at the end. That's exceeding the average performance of Purdue opponents and I'll take that against anyone at this point in the year. Michigan got big gains on the ground, stretched the field vertically, broke out some new wrinkles, and didn't turn the ball over a billion times.
After 20, 21, 10, and 13 points of offensive production plus sufficient turnovers to choke a horse, this was a major step forward and the best performance from the unit since the Indiana game.
To show this I'll need some—
[Hennechart legend; MA is "marginal", screen results are in parens.]
|Notre Dame||5||20 (6)||2||4||3||3||-||4|
|Eastern Michigan||1||8 (2)||1||1 (1)||1||4 (1)||-||-|
|Indiana||3||13 (3)||1 (1)||2||5||3||-||2|
|Michigan State||5||19 (3)||2||4||3||3||-||5|
|Delaware State||-||2 (1)||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Penn State||3||9 (3)||-||4 (2)||4||2||1||1|
|Purdue||2||13 (6)||1||2||1||4||1 (1)||5|
The Purdue zone read metric—still in its infancy—was +2 – 2 = 0. More on that a bit later.
|Eastern Michigan||-||1||1 (1)||2 (1)||-||-||-||-|
Screens held down Forcier's downfield throws. This week's downfield success rate: 9 / 16 = 56%. Not great, but the DSR is only a vague metric and I think this was one of Forcier's best games. One of the INs was a bomb under pressure, the BR was the ill-fated Brown pitch on fourth and ten, and the rest of it are TAs where his receivers were all legitimately covered. He didn't make a big mistake all game, and many of his unsuccessful attempts were making the best of a bad situation.
The big downer was the fumble, which was a huge error on Forcier's part but also an understandable one since Purdue blitzed right into the option and Forcier was not prepared to deal with the corner there. He should have eaten the ball and taken the loss, but he's a freshman running his second live triple option. I don't blame Forcier for freaking out, or Rodriguez for calling it; sometimes you do something well in practice and screw it up the first time you let it loose in the wild.
[Receiver chart explanation: throws are rated on how difficult they are to catch. A 3 is a totally routine ball that would induce groans if dropped. 2 is moderately difficult; you'd like to see players catch 50-70% of these. 1 is a circus catch on which the QB is bailed out by a great play from a WR or, more usually, not bailed out. 0 is totally uncatchable and mostly exists to chart how often a player is targeted.]
A good day from the receivers, and by "receivers" we mean "Roy Roundtree." The one drop didn't hurt much since it was on a screen that was going to get blown up anyway. Minor could have helped out by pulling in a low throw by Forcier, too. Other than that: Roundtree, Roundtree, Roundtree. The 1 he pulled in prevented an interception on Michigan's first drive of the day, converted a first down, and lead to a touchdown.
Plus he did this:
Martavious Odoms just saw his job come under howitzer fire. Odoms has been valuable, too, so he won't just go away, but Kelvin Grady's time just got eaten up and I think Roundtree is the starter even when Odoms is healthy. This might also presage some dual-slot formations that have been absent so far in Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan. Kid's pretty good, and quicker than you'd think given the Hawthorne incident last week.
And this will come as no surprise given the 5 in PR above, but the protection metric is ugly again:
PROTECTION METRIC: 14/29. Huyge –5, Schilling –3, Minor –2, Ortmann –1, Shaw –1, Koger –1, Moosman –1, Omameh –1.
That is by far the lowest percentage in UFR history. The culprits are the usual by now: Huyge on the edge, Schilling getting blasted back into the pocket, and several other folk having individual moments of struggle. The only way Michigan could threaten deep was to max-protect and drop Forcier back like he was a Madden 2005 QB, and even on one of those play Forcier ended up throwing off the back foot because Shaw could not contain the guy. The two point conversion was Huyge getting beaten by Kerrigan clean.
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.
As for the rest of the line… 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.
Why does our option play make us die when we haven't run it all year?
I suggested in the game column that Forcier was maybe not at the point where the dive is an actual read, which has been explained to me is a very silly thing to suggest. More likely: it is a read that Forcier screwed up. Steve Sharik:
Purdue can defend it b/c the QB missed the read. Both times the DE was shuffling, not crashing. Tate should've handed it off on the dive both times. Tate misses a ton of reads in the zone read scheme, and these times were no different. We can't defend it b/c our defenders aren't sound in their assignments. So, whether it's us on offense or us on defense, the simple matter is that we aren't doing what we're coached to do and the opponent is.
It doesn't make a difference what option it is, if you miss the first read (the give/pull) then bad things happen, especially if the QB pulls when he should've given. If the QB gives when he should've pulled, the dive gets tackled for no gain. If the QB pulls when he should've given, a negative yardage play is the best result. And then if the QB compounds this error by pitching off a defender who is not the pitch key, then that pitch key is free to attack the pitch player, with a turnover the not just possible but likely outcome.
This is not hugely surprising given Forcier's lack of experience. I doubt we see this option the rest of
Roundtree, Forcier, and Minor.
Not so heroes?
The entire offensive line in pass protection, especially Huyge and Schilling.
What does it mean for Wisconsin and beyond?
After a brief period of suck, the Wisconsin defense has resumed being pretty good: they're 19th in rushing D and 22nd in total D. They've got some issues in the secondary—Ben Chappell just went off for 323 yards on 25 of 35 passing, and the Purdue implosion was mostly on Purdue receivers—but are good about getting to the quarterback, which means Michigan might see a bunch of receiver run open as Forcier scrambles for his life.
Michigan's rushing offense continues to be good, not great, and I think they'll be able to grind out a respectable total if Minor is healthy. Whether Michigan scores a lot will be up to the pass protection and Tate.
For the long-term future: the sudden emergence of Roundtree and Omameh, both freshmen, is an excellent sign. The slot position now seems solid and picking up another solid lineman for next year means Michigan will have kind-of-sort-of four starters back; this is the silver lining of the Molk injury. The dark cloud: if Molk is available, Michigan probably wins at least one of Michigan State, Iowa, or Purdue, right? Aigh.
- About 28 players played their first game in a Michigan uniform. A lot of them had meaningful (early-game) action on special teams. The QBs and Craig Roh (in a year, he'll be up around 250 pounds, and faster than he is now) were singled out as some of the young guys who played very well.
- The offense wasn't that bad in the second half. In the third quarter, they only had two drives, one of which had a touchdown called back for a penalty. In the fourth quarter, the offense went to chew-clock mode for much of the time.
- There were a few missed assignments both on offense and defense, but a lot of that can be attributed to first-game jitters. Rodriguez didn't want to call out his players on the long Western touchdown. It was typical first-game nerves.
- All three quarterbacks will continue to play for the next several weeks, but Tate will get the start again next week. It's not fair to compare the freshman QBs, both because they're a little different in terms of skill set, but also because Tate has had 9 extra months in the system - and has about 70% of the playbook at his disposal. Denard is not just a runner, but "He ran really fast."
- Hemingway should be good to go Saturday, Same with Moundros and Boubacar. Minor looked pretty good in pregame, but they still held him out and hope he'll be able to go Saturday. All of those injured players will be a little limited in contact drills this week. Rodriguez is going to implement a weekly injury report for the team, released on Thursdays. He would like to make this a league-wide policy.
- Carlos Brown will start Saturday unless he has a bad week of practice. "We thought he ran well, he caught the ball well, and he really protected well."
- Offensive player of the game: Junior Hemingway. Defensive player of the game: Obi Ezeh and Stevie Brown. Special Teams player of the game: Zoltan Mesko.
- The QBs carried more times (21) than Rodriguez would like in an average game. Some of that was getting Denard in there and getting him comfortable. However, Rodriguez doesn't mind his QB running if nothing's open downfield. The quarterback's 4th read on passing plays should usually be to run.
- Nevada was a top offense last year, so for Notre Dame to shut them out was impressive.
- Both teams being good increases the national tone of this week's contest: "I would hope. Michigan-Notre Dame is always going to have a national tone. It's one of the greatest rivalries there are."
- To beat Notre Dame, Michigan will have to pressure Clausen. He's too good to give him a lot of time, and has some really good targets in Tate and Floyd. Brandon Graham will be double-teamed a lot, because Notre Dame likes to max-protect.
- Adrian Witty will not attend Michigan this semester. The coaches will continue to re-recruit him for the winter or next fall.
- Schilling watched film yesterday on his day off from practice. The offensive line played a lot more physical than last year (which is something Frey emphasizes). There were many more knockdowns than in any game last year. It was nice to move the ball for first downs and touchdowns, which was hard last year.
- Craig Roh is one of the quickest D-Ends Steve has ever seen. When he gets bigger and stronger, he'll be a really good player.
- All 3 QBs are different, which forces opposing defenses to prepare for more things. Tate's a leader, and acts like he's not a freshman although he's been here only 0 months. Denard's a little quieter, but he's still just learning.
- The team has to be grounded after the win. Notre Dame is ranked, and although Western will contend for the Mac title, the Irish present a bigger opportunity to make a statement.
- Tate is young, but he's going to be a great leader. Even if the seniors disagree with him in the huddle, they'll get something worked out.
- It's good to start the year injury free, and he hopes to stay that way.
- If the offense is clicking, Carlos doesn't care whether he gets 1 carry or 20 carries. One of the great things about the college game is that there are multiple capable backs that can step in for each other.
- "We're going to be prepared for Notre Dame."
- The defense made a statement against Western by playing hard, fast, and aggressive. In the first game, it's nice to be able to be aggressive with open field tackles.
- The Notre Dame game will set the tone for the whole season. The team owes the Irish after what happened last year.
- Notre Dame likes to use play action to go deep. Donovan's looking forward to the challenge, and like the opportunity to prove himself against the best. The defense needs top be aggressive on every snap to make Notre Dame's day harder. They'll disguise coverages, but that depends on everybody knowing where the help is coming from and where the defense's weaknesses are.
- He'll get in guy's faces on the other team and play tough coverage on every snap. He didn't think the pass interference calls against him on Saturday were legit - but every defensive back usually feels the same.
- Tate's enrolling early helped get him the experience he needed to start fast. "He knows that we have his back, and we know that he has ours."
- The ankle that's injured is the same one that he hurt last year. He's glad he ended up getting a medical redshirt, because otherwise it would have been a lost year. It was tough not being on the travel squad, and having to text his teammates before the game, and watch on TV.
- "I'll be ready to go on Saturday."
- The receivers have the mindset that they can win every battle on the perimeter. The offense has to make sure they know their assignments on every play.
- "Got to be out there ready to play when we play Notre Dame."
Note: video from last year is lightboxed; previous years will take you off the page.
Rating: 3.5 of 5.
|Mark Ortmann||Sr.*||Steve Schilling||Jr.*||David Molk||So.*||David Moosman||Sr.*||Mark Huyge||So.*|
|Perry Dorrestein||Jr.*||Ricky Barnum||Fr.*||Rocko Khoury||Fr.*||John Ferrara||Jr.*||Patrick Omameh||Fr.*|
|Taylor Lewan||Fr.||Tim McAvoy||Sr.*||--||--||Quinton Washington||Fr.||Michael Schofield||Fr.|
Last year I grimaced at a two-deep that contained four freshmen, one of whom was slated to start, and one player (Steve Schilling) with an iota of starting experience and gave the sorry bunch the most well-deserved 1 rating since… well, 3000 words earlier when I slapped the dread number on the quarterbacks.
For six games this was painfully accurate. The Utah game was grim all around but perhaps grimmest on the offensive line:
Offensive line: their overall suck was obviously part of the gameplan in a huge way; I expect that will seriously impinge on Michigan’s attempts to forge an offense all year. Like 2005 except worse.
This persisted and persisted and we can skip the gory details but then something funny happened at about the same time Brandon Minor ascended to the starting tailback job: they got sort of competent. Let's hit this up one last time: over the last six games of the season Michigan outrushed a hypothetical average team by 25%. They didn't do this by piling on inordinate numbers of carries. If Michigan had extended that performance over the course of a full season they would have been 30th in rushing nationally.
This year, every single player who saw a snap last year is back. Intermittent starter Tim McAvoy has been booted to third-string, and Steve Schilling is no longer making a go of it at tackle, where he cannot pass block. Perhaps best of all, there are actual backups.
The line already took its quantum leap forward midway through last year and will be limited in certain spots, but further progress should see them end up… good? Yeah, maybe.
Rating: 3 of 5.
Fifth-year senior Mark Ortmann returns at left tackle. Jake Long he is not. Ortmann picked up his share of negatives in pass protection last year, most notably against Penn State when he was –5 on a day when Michigan only got to 21 total pass-pro points. The minuses came on two players where Ortmann was "beaten badly by [Maurice] Evans"; the latter resulted in a game-killing sack/fumble. The next week against Michigan State he picked up a –6:
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].
It wasn't all bad—there were a couple of good plays sprinkled in there—but the end result was "I'd be surprised to see Ortmann keep his job once Dorrestein is healthy." I was surprised, it turned out. Ortmann was an unquestioned starter through spring but it would be a Joppru-level breakthrough for him to become even an honorable-mention all conference sort.
Being functional and unremarkable is a good target for Ortmann this year; his upside is more Adam Stenavich than Long.
Right tackle, on the other hand, is a battle that promises to go until kickoff of the Western game and probably beyond. Redshirt freshman Patrick Omameh was everyone's heavy leader until a week before the spring game, when redshirt sophomore Mark Huyge was surprisingly inserted into the starting lineup. Until that point Huyge, a guy who was considering MAC offers before Michigan came along, had been an afterthought. Huyge got good reviews, albeit against undaunting competition, and is your tentative opening-day starter.
It's worth pointing out that Huyge, like stating center David Molk, was recruited by Michigan after they implemented Mike Debord's zone-heavy ground game and is thus more likely to fit in with the spread 'n' shred than guys in the classes above them. It's too bad that line class consisted of two-count-'em-two players.
Neither tackle is likely to be a standout—all Big Ten is not happening—but there are options and backups and they're entering year two of the Barwis program and year two of the same offensive scheme and we should see a considerable step forward from this position in the run game. Last year, Michigan's outsize zones never got outside because the tackles were getting pushed back, which led to a lot of plays where Moundros shot outside aimlessly as the player he was supposed to be blocking for was forced to cut it up. A large number of Slaton's big plays came from getting outside the tackle, and Michigan should see at least a few instances where they successfully spring Shaw or Brown outside this year.
Pass blocking might be more problematic. Ortmann struggled some last year and the right tackle will be a new starter. There will be some ugly sacks against top-flight defensive ends.
|Clearing for McGuffie|
|Sustained POA block|
|Frowns: Toledo holding|
Rating: 4 of 5.
Steve Schilling's long-overdue move to guard promises to end the parade of ineffective LGs Michigan deployed last year. Last year they tried Tim McAvoy, John Ferrara, and even obvious tackle Mark Ortmann there before going with Schilling after the Illinois game. Schilling was needed at tackle soon after and moved back out. Ortmann's one-game experiment ended with a –6 in pass protection, an de- and impressively large number for an interior linemen. Ferrara was a defensive tackle weeks before the season. And McAvoy was the reason Ortmann and Ferrara were tried out. Anything that looks like a steady starter will be a massive upgrade.
Meanwhile, Schilling probably should have been a guard from day one. His two years starting at tackle featured plenty of pass protection struggles—he racked up a record –12 against Vernon Gholston as a freshman. By the Purdue game last year I'd just about given up on the idea of Schilling as a tackle:
I am leery of both tackles these days, BTW, and wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of reconfiguration that sees Schilling slide inside to guard next year.
Lo, it has come to pass. As a tackle, Schilling hasn't had the opportunity to display the athleticism that got him five stars at the fervent attention of USC when he was a recruit, but it still exists and after two years in Michigan's new-look strength and conditioning program he should be about as strong and agile as he'll get.
What Michigan needs from Schilling is pancaked linebackers, and while he hasn't proven he can do that quite yet, he is a guy entering his third year starting that has all the guru approval in the world (for what little that means for linemen). Signs point to above-average, with "meh" and All Big Ten the ends of the reasonable spectrum of expectations.
|Sealing vs ND|
|Doubling ND wsg Molk|
|Good downfield stuff|
David Moosman returns at right guard. Like everyone at guard last year, he had some issues finding and taking out linebackers downfield—there's a Picture Pages with an example—but he wasn't obviously bad. This made him the line's best player early until the guy I am most unreasonably eeee about on the team came into his own. (That would be David Molk, about whom more next.)
The slightly problem is that Moosman didn't seem to improve much as the season wore on. He was just an okay player the whole year; in context that was a lot more impressive early than late. Another year like last, where he's functional but unremarkable, is on the docket.
Moosman is a really smart guy, for what it's worth, and not "for a football player."
This blog fell a little in love with center David Molk as the season progressed and Molk started anchoring better against defensive tackles 50 pounds heavier than he was. The affair started in the second game of the year when Molk successful impeded the progress of some MAC defensive tackles…
I thought David Molk was great a week after being hurled back into the ballcarrier more than once. Against Miami he consistently got across the face of the defensive tackle lined up to the playside, allowing the guard a free release into the second level where he would either whack a linebacker and someone would run for 20 yards or whiff that linebacker and Michigan would get zero.
…a week after getting Sam-owned against Utah:
The lingering fear is that this is more a function of the opponent than any great leap forward. In retrospect, against Utah Molk was getting the same excellent position on his man but after he got that position the DT picked him up and dropped him in the RB’s lap.
|Tough reach vs ND|
|Frowns: MLB whiff|
|Rare win v Newkirk|
|Sealing playside DTs|
|More of that|
|Textbook reach block|
The next week against ND, Molk, Moosman, and McAvoy were named "heroes" for consistently blowing up the interior of the ND defense; the UFR section titled simply "McGuffie!" immediately shot credit to the guys on the inside:
Michigan had great success with the zone stretch and occasional dive because Molk and either McAvoy or Moosman spent the day crushing the playside DT downfield.
It wasn't to last, though. Wisconsin's veteran defensive tackles "murdered" the interior line against both pass and run. By that point there was a pattern: the Michigan interior line was good, even great, against substandard opponents but could not cope with big, veteran DTs. This held true until the Penn State game, when Michigan and Molk went up against one of the best defenses in the conference and at the end of it Molk ended up in the "heroes" list. He even got his own Picture Pages:
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.
I like him. I like David Molk. I think he can be very good at football. Is this clear? Probably not. What Michigan needs from Molk this year is twenty more pounds, more familiarity with the offense, and that's it.
BONUS: I don't remember any bad snaps last year except maybe one or two in the Northwestern game, when it was eminently forgivable.
Backups And Whatnot
Oh praise Jesus: there are some. Last year when Ortmann got dinged up early in the year, Michigan actually unearthed walk-on Bryant Nowicki to play left tackle until they could tell Perry Dorrestein to play on the other side of the line the following week.
Dorrestein and the loser of the pitched Omameh-Huyge battle will be the primary backups at tackle. If Huyge's grip on the job remains solid, the bet here is that Omameh flips to left tackle by midseason in preparation for 2010 and Dorrestein returns to the right, where the coaches apparently prefer him.
On the interior, redshirt freshmen Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury have been praised regularly in practice reports and are the top options at guard and center, respectively, in the event of an injury to one of the starters. Barnum's position is less solid than Khoury, as he's been afflicted with frequent minor injuries thus far in his Michigan career and missed most of the spring with a wrist issue. Also Khoury's the only guy around who's been snapping consistently.
Your other non-freshman options are John Ferrara, the converted defensive tackle who the coaches are keeping on the offensive side of the ball despite some serious depth issues at DT, tragedy-stricken Elliot Mealer, and journeyman Tim McAvoy. Of the group, Ferrara is the most likely to make an appearance. The coaches tried everything in their power to remove McAvoy from the starting lineup last year and moved Schilling inside to finally solve that particular issue. Mealer spent all of last year rehabbing a shoulder injury and is probably a year away from seriously competing for a job.
There are indeed freshmen, but if Rodriguez managed to redshirt all six guys from last year's class despite the patchwork nature of last year's line it will take truly epic misfortune for any of the incoming kids to see the field this year.
One man's guess as to the second unit: Omameh, Ferrara, Khoury, Barnum, Dorrestein.