upon further review
|Fully eight in the box with the ninth rolled up tight. Still, this might have worked. Mitchell(+1) gets Alford cut nicely on the backside â€“ all those guys in the box make a cutback unwise, though. The real problem is Long being stood up at the POA, driven back a yard or so, and then having his man disengage to make the tackle at the LOS.|
|Crowd rattling? (Massey -1)|
|Probably the difference between PSU and other defenses: Sean Lee, a sophomore linebacker, reads this very quickly, getting out on Butler and preventing much in the way of YAC. Nice, accurate throw by Henne under some pressure. (CA, 3)|
|Henne's second or third read and a well-covered one at that. Accurate, well timed ball gets a first down. (Nominal DO, 3)|
|Batted at the line. Intended for Arrington on a short out; Michigan had flooded the zone with Hart and the two TEs to suck the defense in... looked like if complete this was eight to ten. Reason the ball is batted is a corner blitz right into the throwing lane. Nothing you can do about it on a three-step drop like this. Henne's choices were to chance the BA or take a sack. (BA, 0 â€“ Arrington)|
|M40||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Butler||False start|
|Argh. Ecker, where art thou? (-1)|
|I heart Hart. Dan Connor reads this and comes up to fill at the LOS. This should go for 0, but Hart jukes him out of his jock and gains 8. (CA, 3)|
|M43||3||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||2||Butler||Short out|
|I think we missed a pick here as Connor is not impeded by the wideout's route at all. As a result, Butler is tackled immediately. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 9 min 1st Q.|
|FB shuffle to the weak side from Oluigbo; Penn State is shifted to that side. At the snap, five Lions come forward, three of them getting penetration. Hart bounces outside where Poz is waiting; he cuts up past him, turning a two-yard loss into a no gain.|
|M19||2||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||Inc||Butler||Shallow cross|
|Henne's hit on the arm as he throws; ball ends up hitting an offensive lineman. Butler was open on the cross, as Breaston and Arrington had run off the coverage underneath. (BA) ...whoah. The replay shows that this is definitely a fumble. Henne's arm is coming back when it's knocked out of his hand. The resulting forward motion of his arm sort of shot-puts the ball forward, but it's well out of his hand before the arm comes forward. Oluigbo, who let the pressure in, recovered it, so not a huge deal in the long term but still a missed call.|
|No one open initially and pressure comes from the outside. Henne steps up in the pocket and decides to take off... probably had time to survey the field and try to find another open receiver but it's hard to blame him. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 4 min 1st Q. Williams fumbles the ensuing punt and Michigan gets the ball back.|
|Jay Alford â€“ who we're running away from â€“ dominates Bihl(-1), driving him all the way back to Hart and tripping him near the LOS. If Alford doesn't make this play Poz is closing to attempt a tackle but chances are Hart gets four or more if he successfully jukes him. Don't quite understand why Arrington doesn't come in and seal the LB, leaving Hart to deal with a flimsy corner instead of Poz.|
|O47||2||9||Ace 3-Wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|Long again has trouble dealing with his man. The outside is open here but for the penetration ceded by him. Hart decides to cut it up and burrows for three or so... he might have been able to get the corner anyway, but probably not.|
|From our seats in Beaver Stadium we saw this come wide open; so did Henne. We then saw Henne miss Arrington by a couple yards. Bleah! (IN, 0)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 3 min 1st Q. Penn State isn't loading the box or anything, they're just making excellent plays in the run game.|
|M25||1||10||I-Form||Pass||15||Breaston||Deep cross (2)|
|Epic time; Henne stands in the pocket and fires downfield to Breaston, open between three zone defenders. Breaston makes a tough catch downfield, as the ball is behind him a bit. (CA, 2)|
|...I guess, as it's hard to tell. Ed Johnson is completely unblocked. Hart cuts past him to prevent a five-yard loss and dances through three more guys, two of them getting blocked, before getting closed down by the rest of the PSU defense.|
|M41||2||9||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Mathews(?)||Inelig. Man|
|Six yard out to Mathews (CA, 3) is erased because he lined up on the LOS and was thus covered up by Breaston.|
|M36||2||14||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||15||Arrington||PA Slant (2)|
|Token fake to Hart; this slant is not a bang-bang three step drop but rather a delayed one that allows the middle of the zone to get cleared out. Henne finds Arrington wide open for seven to ten yards; Arrington feints his way up the field for the first down, picking up a block from Mathews on the way. (CA, 3)|
|O49||1||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||11||Breaston||Slip Screen (2)|
|Well done by Breaston. Arrington blocks the inside guy; Breaston bolts past the outside guy. Momentarily searching for balance after getting his legs tangled with the flailing arms of the defender, he can't put a move on the safety and score. (CA, 3)|
|Excellent coverage from King â€“ we were screaming for PI on him for disrupting Breaston's route. Breaston lays out but the pass is just off his fingertips. (CA, 1)|
|Henne has Breaston open farther downfield for what looks to be a probable first down. He takes the short TE route; Butler catches it, breaks a tackle, and creates good YAC. (CA, 3)|
|O31||3||3||Ace 3TE||Run||6||Hart||Zone left (2)|
|Michigan overloads the line with three-count-em-three tight ends, two on the left side. They run there and there's finally a crease, this between Kraus and Long. Key seal block from Massey.|
|Hart motions out of the backfield like he did on the long reception versus Minnesota. Penn State sends six; they're momentarily picked up. Breaston's slant and go doesn't fool King, in superb coverage. With the oncoming rush and the coverage, I think Henne's just getting rid of this ball. (TA)|
|Breaston wide open on an out that he would easily turn up for a first down; Henne overthrows him. (IN, 0)|
|O25||3||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||25||Arrington||Post (2, 3, 4)|
|Duuude. Penn State drops eight; Henne lures the safety towards the middle of the field by looking right, then comes back and fires a dart into Arrington's hands. (DO, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 11 min 2nd Q. Seriously badass throw completes the drive.|
|Well... this play works but no thanks to the guys trying to block the PSU DTts, who both end up four yards in the backfield. Hart his running to their left anyway, cuts back behind the line as there are no DTs left... maybe that's why you don't get four yards in the backfield against the zone. Some Shaw â€“ Tim or Jim â€“ is unblocked on the backside and makes the tackle after seven yards.|
|PSU sends a run blitz right before the snap. It's well blocked in the middle but with the extra players attacking there's nowhere to run.|
|O42||3||2||Ace 3TE||Run||6||Hart||Zone left|
|Essentially the same play we ran for the other third and short conversion, overloading the left and then going there. Thompson and Butler both stick their assignments, as does Kraus on the second level. Hart has an easy time of picking his hole and getting the first down.|
|O36||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||27||Arrington||Post (2)|
|A virtual replay of the touchdown down to the yardage gained. (DO, 3)|
|O9||1||G||Ace 3TE||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|I guess it's not surprising that there are nine guys in the ol' box when we're on the nine. Play is well blocked, but neither Poz nor Connor will stay engaged. They both come off their blocks and the combination â€“ a Poz missed tackle forcing Hart into a diving Connor â€“ keeps this gain at three yards.|
|Pass batted at the line; Breaston was probably going to get nailed the instant he caught it anyway. (BA)|
|O6||3||G||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Massey||Um.. fade?|
|Pass through Massey's hands; definitely caught by Ecker, who's a couple inches taller and has shown better hands. (CA, 2)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-0, 5 min 2nd Q.|
|M20||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone left|
|Seven in the box versus this three-wide set. Mitchell gets Alford cut â€“ we seem to be doing this better of late â€“ giving Hart a lane up the middle. Connor, unblocked, meets Hart a yard after the LOS; Hart does his thing for three more yards.|
|Alford not cut this time but overruns the play. Hart cuts up behind him. Butler ignores the DE, who flies upfield before changing direction, trying to bear down on Hart. Hart powers through his arm tackle and is into the second level, where Butler and Mitchell have picked up blocks. Hart could be stopped for about four but Riley plows into him from the back, causing him to fall forward.|
|Long lined up at guard.|
|Only six guys on the line. Probably Butler's fault.|
|Butler had two steps on the nearest defender and could have sailed for big yardage, but Henne's way high. (IN, 0)|
|M26||2||15||Ace 3-Wide||Run||15||Hart||Draw (2)|
|Actually have them thinking pass, probably the first time a defense has done that all year. Six in the box and the DL goes for a pass rush. By the time Hart's to the line one LB is engaged and Riley's getting out on the other. Result: gaping hole.|
|Play disrupted by penetration from Ed Johnson. We go to the short side of the field so there's no chance to get the corner once Hart's immediate path is blown up. Kraus(-1) the one victimized.|
|Pursued on the waggle, Henne lofts a weak ball out towards Breaston that lands at his feet. (IN, 1) Play would have gone for very little because of the weak throw anyway.|
|Well... a good job by Henne to roll away when he couldn't find anyone open downfield and find Butler open at the sticks, but overthrown. (IN, 0)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 11 min 3rd Q. Don't want to be too harsh on Henne, but he sailed a ball that could have been a really big play and overthrew Butler to snuff this drive out.|
|M31||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||-1||Hart||Lead Draw|
|Not a good play from the OL. Bihl(-1) is beaten by Johnson, forcing a too-soon cut from Hart. The delay allows the rest of the DL, only slightly blocked, to coverge.|
|M30||2||11||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||5||Arrington||PA Cross|
|Draw is faked. I think Butler's seam is supposed to draw Connor back but this it does not do. He closes, preventing any YAC. (CA, 3)|
|Alford goes between Riley(-1) and Mitchell, getting quick pressure that he shouldn't with two guys to block him. The resutling pass from Henne is a little bit in front of Arrington. His diving attempt at the catch comes up short. (CA, 1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt,10-3, 6 min 3rd Q.|
|Kraus(-1) badly beaten by Ed Johnson, forcing Henne to scramble... surprised this wasn't a sack, actually. Good awareness to turn this into anything positive. (PR)|
|Nice hole here â€“ we've got 'em creased again â€“ but for Johnson coming loose and closing Hart down after he gains a small chunk of yards. Kraus(-1) couldn't keep him sealed.|
|Pass could be thrown a lot better. As it is, Arrington has to dive down and grab it. (Marginally CA, 1)|
|Giant roar of disappointment from the Michigan section after this play, as he had Butler streaking open 25 yards downfield. (BA) Can we keep Jay Alford out of the passing lanes?|
|O45||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||24||Breaston||Stop (2)|
|A late blitz from Poz catches Hart off guard. Henne starts to move, then finds Breaston, flicking it out to him. You know who this reminds me of? John Navarre. In a good way. King isn't close enough to Breaston to make an immediate tackle, and that's bad news versus Stevie B. (CA, 3)|
|O21||1||10||Ace||Run||20||Hart||Zone right (2)|
|So awesome is Mike Hart. Awful that this isn't a touchdown. Anyway: Butler blocks out the DE and Johnson hideously overruns towards the frontside, leaving a cavernous hole behind. Hart cuts back, breaks the tackle from Scirroto, and drags the corner seven yards to the one.|
|O1||1||G||Ace 3TE||Run||1||Hart||Zone right (2)|
|Thompson(+1) comes in motion to the short side as the third TE. He blows back the corner, letting Hart walk in.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-3, End of 3rd Q.|
|Eight in the box. Hart's cutback lane filled by the eighth guy, forcing a cut upfield into Poz for a few.|
|It looks like Hart has a big hole for a moment, but Johnson comes free from Kraus(-1) and Breaston(-1) whiffs his block, turning what looked like a wide open lane into nothing. Hart makes what he can.|
|Simple slant to Breaston at the sticks turns into a big chunk of yards when King whiffs the tackle, setting Breaston free in the open field. (CA, 3)|
|Victimizing King again. Wide open and Breaston makes a good cut upfield for as many yards as possible. (CA, 3)|
|We fake a slip screen that we totally should have ran for a ton of yards. Instead, a draw to Hart again snuffed out by Johnson as Kraus can't get him pushed or sealed.|
|Going to the well one too many times, as the linebacker is jumping this route, ignoring the TE's seam. There's still a window for a short completion but Henne wings it wide, forcing Breaston to break up a potential interception. (IN, 1)|
|Not sure what Henne's looking at, because he has Breaston wide open for the first down â€“ DB is turned completely the wrong way â€“ but refuses to throw, instead scrambling out and getting tackled for a loss. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 10 min 4th Q.|
|Outside is sealed well this time. Long holds his man off and Butler gets out on Poz. Breaston(-1) tries to chop Connor but fails miserably. Hart still has enough momentum and room to go for five.|
|Kraus driven back by Johnson, and Butler can't handle the DE. Grady cuts it up, meeting an unblocked Lee at the LOS.|
|Breaston is the first read in the flat. Play is designed as a bit of a pick, but Arrington's route doesn't come close enough to Breaston's defender to interfere with his man coverage. Henne comes off to Butler, decides he's covered, and scrambles. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 4 min 4th Q.|
|M20||1||10||I-Form 2TE||Run||-1||Hart||Zone left|
|Butler(-1) can't handle Shaw, who penetrates, bangs into Oluigbo, and then tackles. Extremely disappointing, as a Butler block yields a big chunk of yards.|
|M19||2||11||Ace||Run||23||Hart||Zone left (2)|
|Crease between Bihl and Long with the second level completely blocked. One problem: Riley hasn't obstructed Alford at all. It's another one of those play-side blocks that are really difficult. He bears down on Hart and impacts him... but just because Riley hasn't done anything yet doesn't mean he can't grab Alford's arm, preventing him from wrapping and springing Hart for a huge gain.|
|Connor blitzes, bringing the second level to Long; Long, standing stock still, meets Connor and shoves him back four yards. There's a crease as a result despite nearly every Lion starting the play in the box.|
|Penn State sends the house. A linebacker drives Mitchell back; a single-blocked Alford does the same to Bihl. Poz, unblocked, meets the play in the backfield.|
|Right on the money, dropped. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 2 min 4th Q.|
After reviewing the tape, what do you think about Henne's performance?
Let's bring in the helpful chart for reference:
(Now with explanatory legend.)
Obviously, Henne threw a lot more in this game than he has in any other this year, and he did it in a difficult environment against a good defense. It's reasonable to expect the numbers to be a little uglier. And that they are, with a full 15 attempts in the negative categories compared to but 19 in the positive ones. You may remember that at his nadir last year, Henne hovered just below the 50% mark, but that was after we stripped out batted passes and pressure. With four deflected balls -- none of which were truly Henne's fault -- and one Alford-induced scramble removed, Henne's ratio is 19:10. That's not bad at all.
Still, I wish that his accuracy was better. He had Arrington open a few times and either missed him entirely or forced him into a tough catch. He missed an open Butler a few times and winged a sure first down over Breaston's head. He turns two of those inaccurate passes into completions and I'm raving... but his accuracy left a little to be desired.
On the other hand: do you know who he reminds me of right at this minute? John Navarre midway through his junior year. That's when Navarre started doing things like moving up in the pocket to buy himself time and make the correct audibles and look safeties off before firing critical third-down lasers. And that's when you, the fan, sat back and thought "is this really John Navarre? Really really?" The Arrington touchdown and the scrambling Breaston completion are things he would not have done a year ago. He's gone from stari ng down receivers to teleporting safeties with his eyes. He's making second and third reads with regularity. He's getting there, and fast. The best evidence of this: the one timeout Michigan took on offense was because DeBord never got the call in, and Henne spent the entire game calling two plays and checking at the line in front of 110,000 people who hate him. He's come a long way.
And the receivers sans Manningham?
- 0 = totally uncatchable
- 1 = difficult catch worthy of Avant.
- 2 = tough-ish catch.
- 3 = aaaaargh if dropped.
Both Breaston and Arrington came through with big nights. Breaston's drop at the end prevented Michigan from running out the clock, but other than that he was very good. Michigan did something they hadn't managed to do so far this year: get him the ball moving at a good rate of speed upfield. The results were two plays that he turned moderate gains into 25-yard chunks. With Michigan's ever-increasing confidence in Henne's ability to probe the middle of the field (Arrington has been a post machine), I expect to see more of these routes as we go along. If Breaston can hang on to them consistently that'll be a useful weapon going forward.
Also of note: Butler was targeted a whopping seven times. He had the misfortune to be the primary victim of inaccurate or batted Henne passes, but twice he was wiiiiide open behind the Penn State linebackers.
Can you believe Hart ended up with over 100 yards?
No, not really. Penn State got gashed -- 15 on a draw, 20 on that ridiculous "I'm Mike Hart" run, 24 on Michigan's final drive -- and gave up just under half of Hart's yards on three carries. It seemed like Hart was dancing past defensive tackles in the backfield all night and setting up an inordinate number of 2nd and 9 or 2nd and 10. And then: 112 yards at the end of the night. Go figure.
What does it mean for Ohio State?
We have to be worried about Johnson and Alford's play against the interior of our line. Johnson was just killing Kraus whenever we tried to run at him. Alford was less consistently disruptive but turned in a few plays of his own. Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson are neck-and-neck with Branch & Taylor and the PSU duo for honors as the top DT pairing in the conference (and probably the nation); if they disrupt the interior of the line as much as Johnson and Alford did our offense may sputter.
One thing I am confident of: the OSU linebackers aren't up to the standards of Connor, Poz, and the surprisingly heady Sean Lee. Neither of the former would stay blocked, often disrupting run plays that looked sure to go for big yards. From what I've seen from OSU and from what the stats suggest, the new linebacking corps is vulnerable. I also doubt OSU has a corner the caliber of Justin King (when the ball is in the air -- guy tackles like Grant Mason), though it's hard to tell when the only threatening wideout I've seen them oppose has been saddled with an utterly green Colt McCoy.
More on OSU later, of course.
With Mitch King out, the safeties dinged, and really slow guys everywhere, Iowa seems ripe for the picking. They've got a guy from Nebraska -- if you know what I mean -- playing cornerback. James Hardy toasted that guy so frequently that he's getting checked for skin cancer. Whenever Antonio Pittman decided to bounce outside, there wasn't a Hawkeye within five yards of him. They'll play tough and hardnosed, but unlike past years there isn't a single player on the defense who seems like a good bet for the NFL. Michigan will move the ball.
|Tape I have misses the first two plays from scrimmage.|
|M45||3||5||Base 4-3||Pass||10||Shallow cross|
|Zone blitz from the wide side sends Crable and Harris, dropping Biggs off into coverage. It basically works, getting Harris in unblocked. Morelli gets a pass off before being leveled. Butler is a step and a half in front of Graham, who stepped towards the receiver crossing the other way. One guy versus two receivers = open. (pressure +1, cover -1)|
|M35||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||2||PA Dumpoff|
|Crable(+1) blitzes again. He's in like a shot, past the OL and immediately in Morelli's face. He manages to get a pass off to Hunt, who's tackled immediately by Adams(+1). (Pressure +1)|
|M33||2||8||Base 4-3||Run||4||Shotgun draw|
|OL gets good push but no creases between Taylor and Branch. Hunt powers forward for a few. Reminsicent of his runs versus Minnesota.|
|Dropped by the WR, otherwise he's open in front of Harrison for a first down. Harrison(-1) was held inside far too long by the play action fake, which was not particularly convincing with the TE releasing immediately. (cover -1)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q.|
|You'd think this would work with Hall eight yards off the LOS and retreating on the snap (OMG Herrmann!) but no, it doesn't. Outstanding play by Hall(+2). (CA)|
|O26||2||8||Base 4-3||Run||2||FB Dive|
|Uh... okay. Matt Hahn up the gut. Taylor(+1) and Chris Graham(hi! +1) combine to stuff it in the hole.|
|Crable sent as a fourth rusher. Morelli has a moment, but hesitates and starts scrambling out as he sees Crable(+1) starting to come loose. Hall(+1) right with Norwood. (cover +1, TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 6 min 1st Q. A little bit of happy feet on Morelli's part on that last play.|
|O17||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||-2||Off tackle|
|Branch(+1) drives his man into the backfield and is held, drawing a flag. Burgess(+1) and Woodley(+1) drive past blockers and make a TFL. Michigan accepts the holding call.|
|Awww, come on now. We're only rushing three guys and this screen picks up eight? Woodley(+1), one of the rushers, actually doubles back to make the tackle downfield. (CA)|
|O16||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Branch(+1) again into the backfield; Biggs(+1) closes off the outside. Hunt is forced into a sea of bodies, picking up two.|
|Morelli rolls from the pocket, finding Norwood open in front of Trent(-1, cover -1). Short by like an inch. Stung by a failed sneak last week, PSU punts.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, End of 1st Q.|
|O20||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||15||PA Out|
|Trent(-1) again picked on, giving a big cushion to Williams and missing a tackle. Adams cleans up. (cover -1)|
|They run; guess who snuffs it out? Alan Branch(+1), disengaging from his block even though he's well sealed and closing down a running back.|
|O38||2||7||Base 4-3||Pass||-12||Sack (2)|
|Tim Jamison(+1) is basically unblocked, closing off the outside. He doesn't go wild and shoot past the quarterback, though, closing in sensibly. As Morelli tries to step up Taylor(+2), who's blown past his blocker, explodes into the backfield and sacks Morelli. (pressure +2)|
|Woodley(+3) powers through the tackle and croosh silly bug man with ball. (pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: That's Damn Right It's a Punt, 7-0, 9 min 2nd Q. Fourth and 33.|
|O14||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||-9||Sack (2)|
|Uh, yeah, blocking Woodley(+2) with Tony Hunt is not a good idea. He powers through the attempted cut, sacks, and strips Morelli. Only a hugely fortunate bounce prevents this from being a game-killing turnover. (pressure +2)|
|Perfect example of how defensive tackles never, ever get any credit no matter how damn good they are. This is a draw against six guys in the box, and neither linebacker is touched because Branch(+1) and Taylor(+1) both occupy two guys the entire play. Burgess makes the stick and Musberger talks about our awesome linebackers. BRANCH FOR HEISMAN.|
|Utterly BS PI call on Trent on a ball that's eight yards past the receiver. To boot: this contact is completely wussy and incidental. Words cannot express the contempt I have for this call. (IN)|
|Defended decently by Trent. (CA)|
|Actual successful run play! Reason: Jamison(-1) is irresponsible. He's doubled on the edge by Brown and a TE so he decides to spin inside. Corner = ceded.|
|Taylor(-1) caves on this play, eventually getting pancaked five yards downfield. With a DT giving that much ground there's a crease for Hunt.|
|Biggs(+2) defeats the right tackle much like Woodley did on his first sack, driving inside of him and into the quarterback. Morelli had time to throw... but not much. (cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Ack. A very late developing, slow screen lets everyone get into their zone drops. Play was going for a first down as soon as Hunt released but Mundy's (-1) foolish attempt to hurdle a blocker instead of get outside and force the play back into pursuing defenders probably resulted in 15-20 Yards After Mundy.|
|Morelli half rolls, finding Norwood open in front of Trent. The pass is short-hopped. (IN)|
|Dropped by Quarless. Adams(+1) had good coverage and was going to hold this to 3 or 5 yards. (cover +1)|
|Crable-Woodley stunt picked up well by the PSU OL, opening up the right side of the field for Morelli to roll into. He does and finds an open Norwood. Can' reall blame Mundy(+1) for the coverage, as it was a zone. He reacted quickly enough to prevent YAC. (pressure -1, cover -1)|
|Burgess(+1) does well to stand up his blocker and disengage to tackle. Taylor, doubled, is blown off the line but Hunt goes the other way. Branch almost had him at the LOS.|
|Trent(-1) badly beaten. Biggs(+1) was coming and would have had another sack if we had good coverage. (cover -1, pressure +1)|
|Uh, okay. Branch(+1) bursts through the line into the backfield. Hunt cuts up past him; Harris and Taylor are waiting (+1 each).|
|Trent(+1) has Williams locked down this time. Woodley(+1) battles through a block to pressure Morelli, forcing him to throw it away. (TA, cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Brandent Englemon(+2) breaks on the ball, knocking it down. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-3, EO 1st Half.|
|We stunt past some trap blocking here â€“ our rock, their scissors. Woodley(+1) into the backfield, drawing the attention of a guard and allowing Graham(+1) to come unblocked and make the TFL.|
|Play action to Hunt. Levi Brown decides not to block Jamison for some reason â€“ we're not even threatening a blitz that might cause PSU to shift its protection -- leaving Hunt alone trying to block him. He easily sidesteps Hunt and makes the sack. (+1 Jamison, pressure)|
|O15||3||19||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||24||Deep out|
|Harrison blitzes from the corner. A Jamison-Branch stunt gets Branch(+1) free. He buries Morelli and ends his night, but not before he manages to get off a quail of a pass that somehow finds its way to an open reciever. Johnny Sears(-1), replacing Trent, is victimized. Unless Morelli keeps his brain in his left shoulder, this is not anywhere close to a flag. (pressure +1, cover -2)|
|Hall(+1) reads this and closes off the outside; Burgess(+1) ges through a blocker and pounds Williams.|
|O39||2||10||Nickel||Run||4||Zone read keeper|
|Burgess and Harris are weirdly passive on this play. If they had been more aggressive they definitely could have closed this down for no gain, and with Clark just in the game you have to figure run.|
|Harrison(+1) gets a hand in, breaking up the play. Clark was late, staring his receiver down. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|O21||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||-7 + 15||Sack|
|Crable(+2) blitzes into the backfield like a shot, taking Clark down. Taylor(-1) picks up a dumb personal foul for falling on Clark after the play.|
|Hall makes an immediate tackle. (CA)|
|Branch(+1) is on the quarterback far too quickly for this screen to get set up. The throw from Clark is panicked and inaccurate. Hall(+1) has going to crush this for a loss if complete. (pressure +1, cover +1)|
|Biggs(+1) unblocked on the backside as PSU rolls the pocket away from him. Clark hesitates a moment and is lost. (pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|Both DTs doubled again â€“ Taylor(-1) driven back as a result. This allows the guard to get out on Harris. Hunt has a hole until Mundy(+1) fills smartly.|
|They're double-teaming the crap out of Taylor, but this time Branch(+1) and Woodley(+1) drive their men back and converge at the LOS.|
|Clark's pass is ill-advised and overthrown, as Trent(+1) has excellent coverage. Butler is forced to take an offenisve PI to prevent a pick. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 13 min 4th Q.|
|O20||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||1||Shovel pass|
|Biggs(+1) avoids a pulling guard and closes the shovel pass down quickly. Will Johnson(+1) also there to help.|
|Nice throw and catch. Decent but not great coverage by Trent.|
|Johnson(+1) gets enough penetration to disrupt the pulling guard, leaving Harris unblocked at he LOS.|
|We miss the first bit of this play because we are checking out Lisa Salters as a PSU basketball player. When we come back, Clark is scrambling out of the pocket for a few yards, then getting pounded. He leaves the game. (cover +1)|
|Crable(+1) reads the quarterback's eyes, stops reacting to an underneath route, and gets in the passing lane here, deflecting the ball and nearly intercepting it. Nice play. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7 min 4th Q.|
|O47||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||5||Pitch sweep|
|At this point in the game we're set up for pass rush with wide splits on the DL and only a few guys in the box. Williams gets the pitch and has some room; Jamar Adams reads and fills nicely but his tackle is lame: a shoulder block that manages to trip Hunt up. Wrap up! [/spielman]|
|Hall(+1) plays this coverage very tightly, wrapping up and tackling Williams short of the first down. (cover +1)|
|I'm not sure who to blame. They set this up nicely, but we're only rushing four. Crable gets chopped, as does Harris. He's into the secondary. Harrison and Mundy are converging from the left, Adams(-1) overruns the play, allowing a cutback lane. Sears, Harrison, and Adams all dive at Hunt's feet, but no dice.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-10, 3 min 4th Q.|
|Jeez. First of all: how did Brandon Harrison not sack Ciancolo? He comes in unblocked, but runs right by the QB, who's not moving. He then plows into the back of an OL and goes down like a ton of bricks. Pure slapstick. Then: how does Jamar Adams not intercept this pass? It's right in his hands. (+1 for the Adams PBU, cover +1)|
|Mundy(+1) in good coverage and makes a quick tackle.|
|Hall in better position than the wide receiver, who tackles him to prevent a pick. No flag this time. (Hall +1, cover +1).|
|Pass to a double-covered Norwood is well over his head. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, 17-10, EOG.|
No kidding. 184 total yards of offense, two quarterbacks woozy on the sideline, and only a persistently irritating vulnerability to screens standing in between Michigan and complete domination.
Was it really that dominant a performance?
Well... while a good portion of the sack parade was impressive Michigan play, a few times Penn State either didn't block anyone or put themselves in a position where Tony Hunt was trying to cut a defensive end. And once Morelli went out so did 80% of the Penn State playbook. Michigan did get more pressure than they did against Michigan State and Minnesota but not drastically more. The mobility of Stanton and Cupito's ability to make quick throws on three-step drops turned sacks into hurries and fourth and 33 into (occasional) first downs. Penn State's wobbly offensive line and immobile, inexperienced quarterback doomed them to failure from the start. Neither Iowa or Ohio State will heistate to move their quarterback and both schools have more experienced offensive lines. I wouldn't expect a repeat.
|Woodley||9||9||Two sacks, another TFL, and consistently strong against the run.|
|Biggs||6||-||6||Wasn't blocked on one sack but the other was impressive.|
|Taylor||6||3||3||Good, but got blown back a bit when doubled.|
|Branch||7||7||Didn't appear much on the statsheet but has made running inside impossible virtually all year.|
|Johnson||2||2||Had a couple nice plays in the third quarter.|
|Jamison||2||1||1||Definitely relegated to Biggs' backup now, but that says more about Biggs than Jamison.|
|C. Graham||2||-||2||Seems healthy again.|
|Hall||6||-||6||Have come around: he's really, really good.|
|Englemon||2||-||2||Important PBU in the endzone.|
|Trent||2||3||-1||Tough game early. Got pulled in favor of Sears on the possession Morelli got knocked out on.|
|"Pressure"||15||1||14||Uh... yeah, when you get seven sacks and don't blitz all that frequently this is what you see in this category.|
|"Coverage"||13||8||5||Shaky when Morelli was in the game. After he left, the hesitancy and questionable arm strength of his replacements allowed Michigan to close on receivers.|
The screen difficulties should be charged to the linebackers and safeties but assigning specific blame is hard for me. Also, the linebackers didn't get much in the way of plusses because Penn State didn't run that much, Michigan didn't blitz that much, and a huge percentage of PSU's throws were easy-to-read outs. With the DL crushing the run and pass game nearly by itself, all the linebackers had to do was flow to the ball and tackle. This they did.
As noted above, "coverage" was dodgier than it appears. Both Clark and Rudy stared down their receivers badly, allowing players to break on obvious routes. When Morelli was in there were problems with cornerbacks not named "Hall."
OMG Defensive Line.
Seriously. What more is there to say? Can we point out that Rondell Biggs has five sacks and is playing at an all-conference level himself? He is the easy winner of the Bennie Joppru award (given to the most inexplicably great senior) this year, one of those three-star no-hopers that panned out in a big way. Preseason we were all screaming for Jamison; now that looks about as silly as "Iowa... #2!"
But that second corner spot...
Looks much shakier than it did after the Wisconsin game. Charles Stewart was torched when pressed into service versus Minnesota, and when Morgan Trent came back from a completely non-fictional hand injury his game slipped versus Michigan State and Penn State. Johnny Sears was inserted for one third-quarter drive in Happy Valley and ceded a third and 19 completion on a desperate, looping pass from a freshly concussed Anthony Morelli.
It's not a huge deal... but it's a weakness.
I know we shouldn't be looking ahead, but does anything here have bearing on the OSU game?
Probably not, sadly. Penn State's offense resembles OSU's in no way whatsoever. One thing: Hall's continued high-level of performance is encouraging. I expect him to see a lot of Gonzalez. Trent has the speed to deal with Ginn and his weaknesses on breaks are matched by Ginn's less than amazing routes. I think we match up decently well there except for one niggling issue: our nickelback is 5'8" and their slot receiver, whoever he is, is well over 6'.
And what does it mean for Iowa?
I don't know what's happened to their offense. Drew Tate's off, their receivers are pedestrian, and their starting running back is wounded. Freshman WR Dominique Douglas and left tackle Dace Richardson are also questionable for the game this weekend. Iowa's flipping their offensive line around, trying to find a combination that actually works. It all implies more doom for an opposing quarterback... but NSFMF!
Iowa has the potential to pose a threat if they can find a competent wideout or two. If Tate plays like he did last year, he'll find open territory on the side of the field not occupied by Leon Hall. Our linebackers are sometimes vulnerable to Spaethian tight ends like Scott Chandler. Backup running back Damien Sims is a little darting guy very capable of turning the corner, unlike just about everyone else we've faced so far this year. Penn State is probably going to be the outlier for quarterback annihilation this year and Iowa will get some yards. Probably.
I hope Young doesn't play much, not because I am worried about Iowa but more because I'm interested to see what Sims can do against the Michigan defense. The closest thing to a scatback we've seen this year is Amir Pinnix, and while his big chunks of yards were more due to clever formations convincing us to misalign ourselves than any perimeter weakness, Antonio Pittman is a faster, more nimble player than Hunt or Hill.
|M44||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||16||Hart||Off tackle left|
|Well... nice running and all that but also extreme stupidity from the MSU safety, who's walked up to the line and sort of hurls himself into the back of the defensive end instead of, you know, trying to keep contain. The corner is wide open as a result â€“ Breaston hardly has to do anything to seal him. Nice block downfield from Manningham(+1).|
|O40||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||0||Hart||Zone left|
|Would have had the corner again, but Arrington(-2) runs right by the Key, the MSU safety, who's walked up into the box. Hart's forced to cut back into a loaded front. Mitchell's attempted cut against Clifton Ryan is ineffectual.|
|Waggle. Henne comes down to Breaston, his outlet. Greg Cooper makes a solid tackle. (CA, 3)|
|They jumped off on the previous play when Chad did his check-with-me... and they do it again on the very next play. They are about as well-coached as a pack of squirrels on coke.|
|O31||3||1||I-Form 2TE||Pass||6||Breaston||Long handoff|
|Another jump, but they get back. They're playing way off Breaston on third and one; Henne takes the free yards. (CA, 3)|
|O25||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|Video provided; words fail. Breaston brought in motion to block a guy but is unsurprisingly driven into the backfield. Hart reverses his field and punishes fools who try to tackle.|
|O20||2||5||I-Form Twins||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|Oluigbo(+1) gets a nice block on Adams, opening up the corner.|
|Fourth jump of the drive. Dyslexic squirrels on coke.|
|Oluigbo(-1) does not get much of a block, leaving Herron in the hole on his stomach, but enough to deal with Hart. Better block == first down and possible touchdown.|
|O7||2||2||I-Form Twins||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Overloaded set we run from time to time with everyone to one side, including the TE that I'm not a huge fan of because we always run from it. The TE, covered by a WR, can't go out in a pattern. Anyway: zone left and there's a hole between the guards (Bihl's on the second level.) Wiley, leveled on Hart's cutback play, comes up again and is again dragged forward. Wiley tries to talk smack afterwards.|
|O3||1||G||I-Form Twins||Run||-10||Hart||Zone left|
|Same formation. Hart goes off left tackle and into the endzone; holding call brings it back. Call is weak and stupid on Bihl's part... let him go.|
|O13||1||G||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||--||Near disaster|
|Massive protection breakdown that's not explicable. Line slides way right, leaving the DE unblocked. Hart does not pick him up, leaving him to crush Henne and momentarily "fumble" the ball, though apparently Jim Augustyne's been briefed on "the rules" of "football" this year. Unbelievable this was actually called a fumble on the field. Hart points to himself on the sideline and thus gets the big fat (-2 protection, PR)|
|O13||2||G||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||13||Arrington||Skinny Post (2)|
|Arrington is wide, wide open. Henne makes this catch an impossible one, but he comes down with it... I guess. Why wasn't this reviewed? (IN, 1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q. Does your hand count for inbounds? People keep saying it does but I checked the rulebook and there's nothing specific.|
|Definitely the right playcall. Michigan needs to get the two inside linebackers cleanly blocked and then it's secondary time for Hart. This doesn't so much happen, but there is a crease. Hart bolts through a gauntlet of arms for six.|
|Gold, Jerry! Gold! We fake ol' zone left, set up in what looks like a waggle, then throw the screen back to Hart. Eleven yards and a first down. (CA, 3)|
|I find the idea of a first and ten draw hilarious when we always run on first and ten. State has eight in the box; Ryan stands up Mitchell(-1) and disengages at the LOS.|
|Dropped. Anyone else worried Manningham is developing Braylon Edwards disease? (CA, 3)|
|M35||3||6||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||11||Breaston||Shallow Cross|
|Ton of time (protection +2). We max-pro with only the three WR in a pattern. Henne eventually checks down to Breaston, who should be stopped short of the sticks by all rights but makes the State DB miss and rolls up 8 YAC. Another instance where these damn three-yard routes on third and medium are wide open but Henne throws it way too late. (IN, 3)|
|And by "excellent coverage" McDonough means "terrible coverage." Yeah: they leave S/OLB hybrid Adams lined up in press over Arrington, essentially begging Michigan to drop a bomb on his head. This they do... literally. Henne underthrows the pass and it bounces off his helmet. Back in the day we used to call that the Todd Howard. (IN, 1)|
|They play way off and we make them pay for like once. (CA, 3)|
|We run a draw into nine in the box. I am displeased.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 2 min 1st Q. They fair catch a punt at the four. They are very stupid.|
|Sharp cutback behind Kraus. Bihl's on the second level, on a linebacker. Mitchell(+1) has sealed a MSU DT who's first step was fatally upfield.|
|Ack. There's a definite hole here and the potential for a ton of yards, but Kraus(-1) can't seal his guy despite getting him good and engaged. Oluigbo flies by, as at that point the dude looks blocked.|
|Uh... yeah, that looks familiar. (DO, 2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 13 min 2nd Q.|
|Uh... you're dumb.|
|Riley(-1) blown backwards off the snap, preventing Hart from getting outside for nice yardage. Mitchell also with no push.|
|M26||2||4||I-Form 3-Wide||Run||22||Hart||Zone right|
|Only six guys in the box and it shows. Michigan creases the line right up the middle. Kraus manages to disrupt two guys while Mitchell and Oluigbo double Herron and open up a hole. Hart darts through it snappily.|
|M48||1||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Run||2||Hart||Zone right|
|Kraus(-1) lets his man into the backfield immediately. Another one of those hard-to-make blocks on playside DTs.|
|Spartans blitz into the draw and jam up the middle.|
|Manningham and Arrington run off zone defenders, opening up the short cross to Breaston. Caught a couple yards short of the sticks but the Spartan DBs hesitate, knowing who they're up against, allowing Breaston to go straight upfield for the first. (CA, 3)|
|O40||1||10||Ace||Run||5 + 5||Hart||Slam|
|Bihl gets a good push on his man, opening up a gap between himself and Mitchell for about five. Herron gets tagged with an incidental face mask.|
|Dude. Clifton Ryan meets Hart at the line of scrimmage â€“ Riley is following him down the line â€“ to make a tackle but Hart drives him five yards downfield. Ryan is a 300-some pound defensive tackle.|
|Nothing off the left side. Linebackers aren't blocked.|
|O24||3||5||Ace 3-Wide||Run||1||Grady||Zone left|
|Can I tell you how much I hate this playcall? I hate all of it. Forever. It's one thing to "establish a run game" or whatever, but this is throwing away expectation.|
|You are so stupid.|
|Hart hit at about the eleven after cutting it up the middle; drags guys to the seven.|
|Mitchell(-1) blown way backwards by unpronounceable Spartan DT, who flows down the line and makes the tackle.|
|Fade is too far inside and short, allowing Demond Williams to make a play on it. (IN, 1)|
|Drive Notes: Almost Blocked FG, 17-0, 4 min 2nd Q.|
|M24||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||2||Hart||Zone left|
|Hart tries to cutback between Mitchell and Riley, but Clifton Ryan has pushed Riley into the backfield and disengaged. Ryan leaves the game at this point.|
|M26||2||8||I-Form 3-Wide||Run||16||Hart||Lead draw (2)|
|DE opposite Riley slants inside; Riley just shoves him the directions he's going. This causes Mitchell to trip as he's getting out on Herron, eventually falling right at his feet. Oluigbo(+1) hammers a linebacker, providing a crease between himself and Riley, and Hart bursts past Herron, who's tripped up by the prone Mitchell.|
|M42||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||PA Deep post|
|Fake a zone right; Henne sets up deep and overthrows Manningham. (IN, 0)|
|Hey, Carl Tabb exists. Huh. DBs are playing up on him and there's not much opportunity after the catch. (CA, 3)|
|M44||3||8||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc + 15||Manningham||Deep out|
|Manningham drops what should be an easy conversion (DO, 3). Warrick then gets flagged for a weak personal foul. He was way late, but I dunno.|
|Brian Thompson lined up at FB. Grady does well to pick out a small hole that didn't appear to be there. Grady's grabbed by a diving Spartan DT, holding this down, but a good, decisive run that displays actual vision.|
|O35||4||Ace 3-Wide||Run||8||Grady||Zone left|
|Pat Massey(+1) gets an outstanding seal on the DE, walling off the entire Spartan line. Long comes around the outside of Massey to kick out a linebacker; Grady scoots up through the hole. I wonder if this pull â€“ the first we've seen all year â€“ was impromptu after the Massey seal or designed. In any case, excellent work all around from Massey, Long, and Grady.|
|Deflecto-touchdown. What am I supposed to chart this as? Without the deflection this hits Manningham in the chest, but does Henne have to get it a bit farther out there to avoid the corner? I'd rather not with a safety coming over and the acknowledged crappiness of the Spartan secondary. Um... (CA, 3).|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-0, 11 min 3rd Q.|
|M22||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||14||Hart||Zone right|
|Spartan DE's first step to is upfield. All Butler has to do is step forward and seal; this he does. Spartan safety, filling late, is taken care of by Arrington. We hurry this snap count, perhaps preventing the safety from walking up pre-snap and allowing Arrington the block that opens up the outside.|
|M36||1||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Run||-2||Hart||Zone right|
|Spartan run blitz sends five guys forward at the snap with a corner coming up to contain the backside. Eight versus six == too many guys to block. An ND-trailing class sellout.|
|M34||2||8||Ace 3-Wide||Run||15||Grady||Zone right|
|Only three Spartan DL! And they're freakin' stunting. The playside DE slants inside, essentially blocking himself, and the DT is nowhere near able to make a play. This leaves Butler and Riley free to rumbled downfield, looking for blocks. Butler engages Herron, eliminating him, and Riley just sort of wanders downfield. Grady flows through the massive hole and is just barely tripped, otherwise touchdown.|
|M49||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||1||Grady||Zone right|
|Similar hole, only this time the Spartans are on the right side of their blockers, disengage, and tackle.|
|50||2||9||Ace 3-Wide||Run||10||Grady||Zone left|
|Spartan Lbs are shifted right, with Thornhill over Riley and Herron outside the TE. But we totally trick them and run zone left instead of zone right. Grady makes a hard cut upfield that leaves the Spartan linebackers â€“ unblocked â€“ eating dust and trying to grab an ankle. Nice play. This is probably his best game of his career.|
|M40||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||40||Minor||Zone right (2)|
|Huge hole up the middle created by outstanding seal block from Kraus, who takes the DT right out of the play. Long does likewise with his man, Bihl drives his guy the other way, Arrington picks up the last block on the safety, and Brandon Minor is NOT a fullback.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-7, 1 min 3rd Q.|
|M3||1||10||I-Form 2TE||Run||0||Grady||Zone left|
|Spartans selling out versus the run, sending almost everyone. We oblige; no room.|
|M3||2||10||I-Form 2TE||Run||0||Grady||Zone left|
|I think Grady makes the wrong read here. There was a crease outside if he could get to it. I mean, Obi gets through... follow your fullback.|
|M3||3||10||I-Form 2TE||Run||1||Grady||Zone right|
|I don't know if this is ruled a fumble or not, but it was close. Grady recovers it anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-7, 10 min 4th Q. I don't really have a problem with the play-calling here. Up 24 with 13 minutes left and with the defense we evidently have, the only way we lose this game is to do something stupid down here. Run run run punt, I'm fine with. Unfortunately, as soon as you praise Grady, he misses a fairly obvious hole (follow your fullback!) that probably would have gone for a first down and then (maybe) fumbles.|
|M48||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||2||Grady||Zone left|
|Would have gone for more, but Long(-1) lets his man go by and tackle. Had the corner otherwise.|
|50||2||8||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||7||Mathews||Long handoff|
|Hey, it's like Greg Mathews and stuff. (CA, 3)|
|M43||3||1||Ace 3-Wide||Run||-2||Minor||Zone left|
|Long(-1) gets owned, letting his man in the backfield immediately. Don't know if it's his fault. I don't like this play and will expound later.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 5 min 4th Q. EOG.|
Aaaaargh run run run run run run run run.
Well... yeah, sort of, but when you can take the ball at your 22 and run six times for a touchdown it makes some sense. By the time we were up 31-7 with the ball at our three thanks to an unwise Jamar Adams interception, running three times and punting was probably the right decision, as only a conspiracy of miracles loses you the game. And hell, if Grady follows his fullback on second down he probably gets a chunk of yards and potentially a first down.
The only series that really bothered me was the field-goal drive in the second quarter featuring five straight ineffective runs connected by a roughing the kicker penalty. That particular drive felt a lot like Michigan wanted to grind a lot of time off the clock, kick the field goal, and go in with a 17-point lead. Except the result was that field goal and a Michigan State possession with 3 minutes left in the half, which is plenty of time to mount a drive. Michigan would have been better off going with play action, hurrying up the end of that drive, and punting it back to State with around five minutes left, increasing the chances that Michigan would have gotten the last possession of the half.
Not to be one of those people, but Henne seemed kinda o ff, right?
(Now with explanatory legend.)
Maybe I was a bit harsh: two INs were bombs, one was the Arrington touchdown, one was a late throw to Breaston that turned into a first down anyway, and the final was a throw that was a bit inside on a fade to Manningham. So two were catches and two were catchable -- one of the bombs was a bit underthrown and bounced off a Spartan's helmet.
Still: Michigan threw five screens, including Gold Jerry Gold, so he only had six good passes downfield. The sample size isn't exactly vast, but this was Henne's iffiest performance since Vandy.
Gold Jerry Gold? From Wisconsin:
Speaking of screen: play-action waggle screen. Fake a zone, get the offensive linemen moving left, get the defense reacting to the "waggle"... throw back to Hart. It's gold, Jerry! Gold!
It worked for a first down, which marks the first time I've ever predicted anything correctly. So I've got that going for me.
Remember: "1" is a technically feasible by improbable catch. Any catches in this category are bonuses. "2" are moderately difficult but makable catches. "3" == should be caught.
So how about those backup running backs?
Minor's touchdown run got all the attention but it was Grady who impressed... except when he didn't. Several times he slashed up through small or nearly nonexistent holes. After he cut through the line he read the defense well and was unlucky not to break a long one, being barely tripped up a couple times. There was one major missed hole deep in Michigan territory late and something that may or may not have been a fumble on the next play, but other than that Grady was excellent.
Why do we suck on third and short?
I dunno. We were actually really good last year, but it seems you put us in third and short this year and we run out three wideouts and run a stretch play into nine guys. This doesn't work so good, evidently. What's wrong with lining up in a big set and cramming it down their throats? We have the personnel for that sort of thing.
And what does it mean for Penn State?
Penn State fans theorize there's some sort of home/away split in the aggressiveness of their defense and that with Manningham out they'll encroach upon our wideouts with impunity. I have my doubts, as Penn State's home opponents have been Akron, Youngstown State, and Northwestern. It seems far more likely that Penn State was tighter in coverage in those games because they could expect a ton of pressure against overwhelmed offensive lines and sucky quarterbacks. The split is more likely Actual Teams/Tomato Cans. Michigan is an actual team.
I expect Penn State to lay back a la Notre Dame and Ohio State. They don't have much faith in their secondary and are content to bend their way down the field and prevent the big play. They'll try to contain Hart with seven guys. Will this work? I don't know. Minnesota would have been of great help in my analysis of this game if they had tried those pitch sweeps that are a staple of their offense but did not. We do know that they have two good DTs and questionable-at-best DEs. Our tight ends have been merrily sealing all year, getting Hart to the edge for plenty of yards, and I expect a fair number of those plays over the course of the day. The Penn State linebackers are good but have been a bit of a disappointment, and Antonio Pittman got the corner with frequency. I don't think you'll have too much success lining up and running right at PSU, but our run game doesn't do that. I'm willing to bet it's surprisingly effective.
As for the pass game, Penn State gets no pressure and Henne has been extremely accurate -- if a bit tardy -- on his throws this year. With the dodgy tackling in their secondary, Breaston should have a big day.
I dunno... everyone says this Penn State team is dangerous but I don't see it. The main worry is that the run game is ineffective but DeBord stays with it long past reason, turning this from a comfortable game into a tight one.
As always, clips courtesy Dangerous Logic.
|Can't decide whether or not Crable shooting into the backfield is a good play or not. If he doesn't, this trap looks like it finds room to the outside. Since he does, one of the pulling blockers has to take him and the not particularly nifty Caulcrick has to cut back through a small hole on the backside. I think it's good (+1 Crable), but Burgess(-1) overruns the play, opening it up for a few yards.|
|Outstanding play by Harris(+2) to read this and track down Kerry Reed well outside the hashmarks.|
|Zone is tight at the first down line. Throw from Stanton is low, marginally catchable, but incomplete. Hall(+1) may have helped force the incompletion. (CA, cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. Good start. Harris has vaulted into Kiper's top 25 and with good reason. Third down play was verrry close and probably should have been reviewed, though the one angle they gave us was not conclusive.|
|Scott at TB. Burgess(+1) reads, forms up, and moves smartly past a blocker to collar Scott for little gain.|
|O22||2||8||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||9||Out (rollout)|
|I really hate the huge cushion Trent(-1, cover -1) gives Trannon, who is slow as hell. I guess we're in zone here, so it's not necessarily his fault. (CA)|
|That goddamned counter draw. Branch(+2) comes free on the interior by throwing his man off of him and fills the hole himself.|
|Well... this stuff just happens from time to time versus mobile quarterbacks and there's nothing you can do about it. We blitz Burgess and Crable; Stanton steps past them, manages to escape the ankle tackle of Jamison, and scrambles for nine. Filed under "crap happens."|
|MSU in a triple stack. Trannon drops this, but Brandon Harrison(+2) had split the two blockers, drawing them both to him and was going to make a five-yard TFL if the ball was caught. (CA)|
|O43||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||TE Screen|
|Middle TE screen straight out of the Wisconsin playbook is dropped by Holmes. Would have gone for like eight otherwise.|
|Burgess(+1) comes on a delayed blitz that finds a hole and drops Stanton. Coverage was good downfield. (+2 pressure, +1 cover)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 6 min 1st Q. Gave up a couple first downs but still a good drive for the defense. One of the MSU drops actually saved them five yards, and Stanton didn't have enough time to throw on the last play.|
|They line up with 2TEs, under center, and run right at us. We get gashed pretty hard. Caulcrick gets hit about three yards downfield but on an angle, and since he's 262 he can drag people. Branch(-1) flew upfield, opening up the lane.|
|Better job this time by the DTs containing space. They both get some push. Caulcrick finds a crack between them; Adams(+1) comes up and pops him, preventing any YAC.|
|O12||3||2||3-3-5 Stack||Run||-1||Off tackle|
|This TFL is Woodley's(+1) doing, as he gets into the backfield and forces a bounceout. We're blitzing so help comes quickly. Jamar Adams(+1) is the first to arrive.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, EO 1st Q. I dunno why State thought run run run punt was a good idea.|
|Run fake suckers everyone in save Woodley... MSU pulls guards and everything. Scott is open in front of Adams (DO, coverage -1, pressure -1)|
|Stanton has all day from a five wide set. Our front four gets no pressure. A WR comes open across the middle eventually but the window isn't very big and you can't expect the D to cover that long. (pressure -2)|
|Blitz from the wide side of the field, they run to the short side. Woodley tries to get out there but without a linebacker to that side he can't close down the outside. Our rock, their paper. Trent(-1) dives at a blocker's knees uselessly.|
|Hall(+1) jumps the route and almost intercepts it. (Coverage +1)|
|Trent(-1) comes up late, then gets run off badly by this freshman Williams, stumbling as he gets his hips turned. Williams, as a result, is wide open. (Coverage -1)|
|M29||1||15||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Out (rollout)|
|Ball's thrown wide of Trannon, which might be a good thing for MSU as Trent was closing on this one. (+1, coverage +1) Holding after the play, no replay available.|
|State sets up a screen to the near side of the field, then hits Reed coming on an against-the-grain cross. Hall(+2) makes an important tackle; we were blitzing and if he misses Reed runs a long, long way.|
|M37||2||23||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Bomb (rollout)|
|Rollouts == irritating. Crable almost gets to Stanton but is hauled to the ground by a falling OL... no call. Trent(-2) is beaten deep; Williams drops a sure touchdown. (DO, coverage -2)|
|M37||3||23||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||21||Deep Out|
|Trannon open way downfield for close to first down yardage but not quite. (Coverage -1)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 14-0, 11 min 2nd Q. A disappointing series full of open wide receivers all over the field.|
|O29||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||9||Out (rollout)|
|Crable beats the OT to the outside on the rollout but comes up too hard on Stanton, allowing him to step up in the pocket neatly and find Reed in front of Harrison and Trent (coverage -1)|
|O38||2||1||3-3-5 Stack||Run||5||Zone read|
|Branch stood up at the LOS. Harris has to take on a blocker, delaying his pursuit. He does make the tackle w/ Adams.|
|O43||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||2||WR Screen|
|Slow-developing screen starts with a pitch fake that doesn't sucker Harris(+1) in. He slows the play long enough for Crable(+1) to come from the backside.|
|Stanton too high to Scott, who was bracketed by Englemon and Hall. Stunt from Woodley(+1) got close enough to interfere with Stanton's footwork, helping the throw's inaccuray. (IN, pressure +1, cover +1)|
|Branch(+1) hits Stanton as he throws. Resulting throw is again errant. No sack here but again an example of pressure interfering with a throw. (IN, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-0, EO Half.|
|A blitzing Crable(+1) closes this down before it has a chance.|
|O22||2||11||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Quick circle|
|We only rush three, but the ends both come around the edge for quick pass rush. Woodley(+1) was going to sack Stanton if he didn't throw immediately. Stanton throws about three yards downfield to Terry Love, who can't make a tough catch, as Hall(+1) strips the ball out on contact. (pressure +1, cover +1)|
|O22||3||11||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||40||Fly (rollout)|
|Scott gets way behind Adams(-2); Stanton hits him on the rollout. Shame, as Crable was running him down from the backside. (Cover -2)|
|M38||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||0||Zone read|
|Woodley(+1) forces the play back outside. Unblocked Burgess(+1) fills with authorita.|
|A ton of time, as it seems three separate Michigan defenders be being held. Stanton eventually finds Love at the sticks. YAC potential on this throw but it's low and forces Love off his feet. (CA, pressure -2)|
|Jerramy Scott at quarterback and they run the Tim Tebow play. Branch(+1) crushes his man into the backfield, allowing Taylor(+1) and Burgess(+1) to converge on Scott for no gain.|
|Shame because we had this option stuffed.|
|Taylor(-1) offsides on the snap. Irrelevant as we blitz and don't get there in time. Burgess was about a nanosecond away from clocking Stanton, though. Reed runs a deep out versus Harrison in man coverage for the first. (Coverage -1)|
|Branch(+1) almost shuts this down immediately, but can't quite do it. Burgess(-1) gets caught inside and is plowed by the TE. Big hole results.|
|Woodley(+2) gets out to the corner like a shot, hitting Scott five yards in the backfield. He misses the tackle, but the play's fouled up and the cleanup holds him behind the line of scrimmage.|
|Holy max-pro, Batman! There's no pressure on this play because there are two, count'em, two receivers on routes and eight guys blocking. Stanton notices that the receivers are double covered, then scrambles for the first down. So irritating.|
|Hole opens up on the backside temporarily. Closed down quickly by Adams(+1) and Harris.|
|Brandon Logan slices into the backfield but can do little to slow Caulcrick. He submarines Adams and burrows to approximately the six inch line. Aaaaand MSU takes a timeout . Good coachin'!|
|Caulcrick manages to get through Woodley's tackle short of the line.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-7, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|Not sure if he's throwing this away or not... probably, as Hall(+1, cover +1) was in tight on Scott and this pass is rifled way into the crowd. (TA)|
|O32||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||9||Middle screen|
|This thing's persistent effectiveness against us is irritating. We're not blitzing or anything. Tim Jamsion is given a free pass into the backfield but treats Caulcrick as a blocker, not a receiver, and avoids him in an attempt to get to the quarterback. Harris(-1) has a blocker on him by the time the pass is off. Doesn't this require better recognition from the linebackers? As soon as those linemen start downfield you know it's a screen, as only passes behind the LOS are legal.|
|O41||3||1||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||15||PA TE Flat|
|MSU lines up under center and fakes to Caulcrick. TE Holmes starts blocking Crable as the play starts, convincing Adams(-1), in man coverage, that it's a run play. He bites inside, leaving Holmes wide open when he releases from Crable. Crable does eventually track him down. (CA)|
|M44||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||7||Middle screen|
|This one to Holmes. Harris comes in from the side and makes a solid tackle. Can't blame anyone in particular on this one, but good lord... can we fix this?|
|M37||2||3||3-3-5 Stack||Run||0||Speed option|
|Stanton fakes a pitch he should have made and cuts up smack into Burgess(+1), who shucked a blocker impressively to make the tackle.|
|A terrible spot gives MSU a first down they didn't actually get. Harris(+1) brought Caulcrick down short of the marker.|
|Corner blitz from Harrison; resulting throw is way short. (IN, pressure +1)|
|M34||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Slant and go|
|Weird playcall trying to get Hall(+1) to bite on a slant and go versus the ponderous Trannon. Throw is wildly off because Harrison(+1), blitzing again, hits Stanton as he throws. (cover +1, pressure +1)|
|M34||3||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Out (rollout)|
|Receiver is open, but the ball is short-hopped and incomplete. Guy was wide open with Trent coming way late. (cover -1)|
|M34||4||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Int||Bomb (rollout) (2)|
|Um... okay, Jamar. Nice interception, but you cost us like 30 yards of field positon. Feel my wrath: -1. (Coverage +1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 31-7, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Barringer's(-2) missed tackle turns this from 4 into 40. (Cover -1)|
|Our zone needs to be tighter on the 12 yard line. This could be held to about three with better coverage. Trannon injures himself badly on this play. (Cover -1)|
|Motion to an empty backfield = obvious QB draw. I hate this. Why does it work?|
|Caulcrick stoned. Good job by Harris(+1).|
|M1||2||G||Goal line||Run||-2||Off Tackle|
|Burgess(+1) blitzes in and sticks Caulcrick in the backfield. Burgess' tackling has been outstanding today.|
|M3||3||G||3-3-5 Stack||Run||2||Zone read keeper|
|Aw, come on now, you knew that was coming. Load up on the line and blitz into this. And why even review this play? It's not even close.|
|Another Harrison blitz ends with a sack as Stanton pulls the ball down because of coverage. (cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed 2PT), 31-13, 7 min 4th Q.|
|I'm only charting this play for the next play.|
|Hall(+3) makes a badass, diving interception. (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 31-13, 4 min 4th Q. Charting ceases.|
Run defense was extremely strong all day, but the secondary was in its second straight week of unpleasantly open wide receivers. Granted, this was yet another game in which Michigan jumped out to a huge lead and started cruising home by the time the fourth quarter started, but at this point the defense doesn't seem quite as dominating as we thought it would be after the Notre Dame and Wisconsin games.
It does remain almost impregnable on the ground, though, and by this point in the season it's clearly not a fluke.
|Woodley||6||6||Very hard to get the edge against in the run game, but pass rush has been lacking.|
|Biggs||-||-||-||He and Jamison were close to invisible.|
|Taylor||1||1||0||Didn't play a ton. Of note that that MSU found the going very tough when in short yardage.|
|Branch||5||1||4||Second straight good but not great performance.|
|Crable||3||-||3||Mostly deployed as a standup DE.|
|C. Graham||-||-||Played sparingly.|
|Burgess||6||2||4||Excellent day against the run. Coming into his own and playing quite well.|
|Hall||9||-||9||Had one interception and almost two; didn't let anyone behind him; made a couple key tackles in situations where Michigan had been outschemed.|
|Barringer||-||2||-2||Missed tackle led to MSU's second touchdown.|
|Mundy||-||-||-||Didn't really cover anyone.|
|Trent||1||5||-4||DNP due to broken hand suffered against Wisconsin. Expected to play versus MSU.|
|"Pressure"||8||5||3||Two sacks; rolling pocket utilized extensively to neutralize the Michigan front.|
|"Coverage"||11||13||-2||About right, I feel. Guys came open but not so much so that Michigan State could drive the field.|
Burgess had what is probably his best game at Michigan. No flashy interceptions he did little to cause (the "Laurinitas") but a lot of block-shedding and fierce tackling that severely limited MSU's YAC all day. Lamarr Woodley was quiet in the passing game but killed a couple Spartan drives with outstanding plays against the run.
Leon Hall is good.
Both MSU touchdowns were the result of safety errors. Jamar Adams let Jerramy Scott get way behind him on third and eleven for a forty-yard gain that turned a potential punt and State's death by blunt object into a touchdown drive that gave the Spartans a flicker of home. Willis Barringer got behind a crossing route and missed a tackle, turning a five-yard cross into 39 yards.
Morgan Trent, unfortunately, was either Charles Stewart in another uniform or just plain off because of his hand injury. He was beaten for completions a few times and was fortunate not to give up a forty-yard touchdown pass when he let Michigan State freshman TJ Williams behind him in the first half. It was his worst game of the year.
Is the lack of pressure from the front four concerning at all?
(Note that "front four" in this case often encapsulates Shawn Crable.) Somewhat. Both sacks came from blitzers and when Michigan sent four there were a couple instances where Stanton had the proverbial all day to survey and throw. Often, though, he was mere moments away from being crushed into goo when he let a pass go and the push up front prevented him from stepping into a number of throws, forcing inaccurate passes. When Stanton stayed in the pocket, the results were all right.
What Michigan does have to do is find some way to neutralize the rollouts Michigan State employed with great success. Anthony Morelli isn't much for mobility, but both Iowa and Ohio State have quarterbacks who can get out of the pocket and throw on the run. It was mildly depressing to see wide open Spartans when Stanton left the pocket. The disadvantage of the rollout is that it restricts your available routes to a thin slice of the field mostly outside the hashmarks. Usually an unsuccessful attempt to move the pocket ends with the quarterback hurling a hopeful pass to a tiny window right before he steps out of bounds, but that didn't happen. Instead, there were a lot of open 15-yard outs and the one 40-yarder that Adams gave up. File under "todo."
We're halfway through the year. What are the weaknesses in this D?
Corner depth. Clearly, Charles Stewart is a longshot to contribute in a positive way this year. That leaves the nickelback as either a safety or mighty-mite Brandon Harrison. The safeties are exploitable in man coverage -- witness Adams on Saturday or the CMU touchdown both Englemon and Mundy misplayed -- while Harrison is an iffy tackler and a guy who still seems uncomfortable with his role.
Also, the safeties have been far less reliable so far this year, but that's more a function of restoring normalcy after Herrmann's fraidy-cat 2005.
What are the strengths?
The run defense may be slightly overrated by the numbers, but it's not by much. Running attacks both conventional and un- have met their doom at the hands of Branch, Woodley, et al. Even Minnesota's occasional gashers were more due to misalignment than any particular failings on the part of the players themselves.
One often hears "may be one of the best in the country" and such, so much that it hardly has meaning, but if you can find a front seven in the country better than Michigan's I'd be surprised.
Who has underperformed expectations?
Tim Jamison hasn't been the terrifying beast off the edge Michigan fans were told he would be. An early injury slowed his progress, but he's healthy now and not making much impact splitting time with Rondell Biggs.
Collectively, the safeties have given up more plays than they've made, though Jamar Adams has been excellent in run-support.
Who has overperformed expectations?
Shawn Crable was the guy singled out by the coaching staff as a breakout player, but's Prescott Burgess who has become a reliable partner to David Harris. He still gets caught out of positon occasionally, but freed from Herrmann's mindbending schemes Burgess has been aggressive and effective, one of the main cogs in the Michigan run defense.
Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson have done much more than just occupy blockers; collectively they're better than oft-winded Gabe Watson was last year. Rondell Biggs has been a consistently reliable steady solid rock who is not useless in pass rush.
Also, can I say David Harri s here? Last year he was all those Biggs backhanded compliments in one package. He looked amazing next to the chaos at outside linebacker. This year the outside linebackers are actually good... and he still looks amazing. Whether it's sticking 260-pound PJ Hill and driving him backwards or shooting out to blow up a screen thrown to Kerry Reed, Harris has been all over the field, doing all the things you expect him to and several you don't. Kiper just put him on his draft board at #19, and that doesn't seem entirely ridiculous. (Especially since it's just seniors -- Harris would probably fall into the early second with juniors included.)
And what does it mean for Penn State?
I'd be shocked if Hunt outperforms Hill or Walker or Caulcrick. He's a solid, thumping back quite capable of turning 3 into 7, but get to him at 0 and he'll turn it into 0. He's got to have lanes and momentum to be effective; Michigan has yielded precious few to date. Given the struggles they're having with a nearly all-new offensive line, one that has some injury troubles, it's exceedingly improbable that this is the game Michigan's run defense collapses.
Morelli is a high variance quarterback capable of many, many things from laser-accurate posts to looping, idiotic throws into double coverage. Expect some of both. Penn State pick up chunks of yards when Good Morelli shows up, but without a consistent run game or a quarterback capable of dinking and dunking his way down the field, 10-play drives are not going to happen. Penn State will hope to break big plays with Morelli's arm and by using AJ Wallace and Derrick Williams as home-run threats on perimeter run plays -- how often they hit these big plays will determine how often they score. It says "not often" here.
The lingering impression from the Ohio State game was Morelli running for his life. I think we can do the same -- though two straight weeks without killing QBs has me somewhat concerned -- and clamp down on the Penn State offense something fierce.
|M20||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||10||Hart||Zone Left|
|A major reason this works is that Minnesota is lined up with only seven in the box and the seventh guy is offset to drop into a zone coverage behind Arrington, the slot guy. Ecker(+1) and Long(+1) drive their men off the line; Breaston takes out the closing safety, and Hart(+1, 5 YAC) drags the late-filling corner another five yards after contact.|
|Outstanding job by Mike Massey(+2) to seal a defensive end lined up inside of him and open up a big cutback lane for Hart(3 YAC). Also Kraus and Bihl double-team the tackle to that side, pancaking him.|
|M43||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone Left|
|Steve Davis runs upfield at the snap, ceding a cutback lane. Riley has an easy job: push him in the direction he's going. No one gets out to the second level, allowing an unblocked linebacker to meet Hart a few yards downfield.|
|Minnesota's started creeping a safety up on the last two plays. He's not quite in the box but he's getting there. Grady's a little hesitant, taking a step towards the wrong hole before finding a crease between Long and Kraus. Unfortunately, Manningham(-1) whiffs a block on the safety, who fills. It's hard to judge but I think Hart does better with this.|
|M49||3||4||Ace 3-Wide||Run||10||Hart||Zone Left|
|Massey(+1) again does a great job one-on-one with the DE, allowing Long to get out on a linebacker and Hart to make the corner. This should be about a four-yard gain but Hart(+1, 6 YAC) pops out of a tackle and makes a few more yards.|
|O41||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||8||Hart||Off Tackle|
|Massey(+1) seals the DE inside for the third time on this drive, opening up the corner. Hart busts through another tackle but steps out of bounds in the process of doing so. Todd Blackledge(+1) is on top of this Massey thing, which I thought was overstating things live but upon review is totally true.|
|O33||2||2||Ace||Pass||16||Breaston||PA Deep out (2)|
|Grady in. Henne looks off the Minnesota defense, coming to a wide open Breaston on a second read. Ball is catchable but certainly not an easy catch for Breaston with his feet on the very edge of the sideline (CA, 1)|
|O17||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone Left|
|Gophers stem late into a run-d look. Riley seals the backside DE, providing a cutback lane. The Minnesota DT to that side manages to get an arm on Hart, slowing him, and two unblocked players tackle him in the hole.|
|O14||2||7||Ace 3-Wide||Run||-2||Hart||Zone Left|
|Corner blitz from Banks catches Arrington(-1) by surprise. He's in, unblocked, and tackles Hart in the backfield. Shame, too, because if Arrington makes that block it's a touchdown, as the rest of the defense was sealed inside.|
|Henne looks off the defense, causing the safety to slide left. Arrington is wide open as a result. (DO, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, ??? 1st Q. (No clock.) A clinic. Massey and Long abused the opposing DE the entire drive.|
|M16||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone Right|
|Away from the strength of the formation. Hart ends up cutting back; Mitchell(-1) doesn't get much push on the Minnesota linebacker on what could have been a big hole.|
|M20||2||6||Ace 3-Wide||Run||7||Hart||Zone Right|
|Carbon-copy of the last play except Mitchell(+1) meets his man farther downfield and gets good push, allowing Hart to take the intended hole. Should be stopped just before the first down marker but Hart limps forward a bit more (2 YAC). Of note on these last two plays: we've loaded the left side (the wide side) with players. Minnesota responds by splitting the DE to Riley's side ridiculously wide, essentially ceding this hole presnap.|
|M27||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||10||Hart||Zone Right|
|Massey's lined up next to Riley this time. Minnesota brings an eighth guy up late, but Hart(+2) squeezes through no hole and about three Gophers for six, then cuts it outside for additional yardage. Uh... 6 YAC. Riley gets a good pop on a Minnesota linebacker, opening up some space earlier in the play. Hart on pace for 80 carries.|
|Eight guys in the box. Grady(-2) makes a ridiculously bad decision to cut up into two Minnesota tacklers when the backside is WIDE OPEN.|
|M40||2||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||PA Deep Post|
|Henne misses this bomb. Uh, I think we forgive him. (IN, 0)|
|This skycam thing is awesome. A replay from it shows that Henne had nowhere to go with the ball and instead took a coverage sack. I do think that if he had stepped up in the pocket earlier he could have gotten enough time to hit someone. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q.|
|M23||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||7||Breaston||Slip screen|
|This play is a guaranteed eight yards against this defense: Minnesota in their base formation, a linebacker shaded over to Breasto n but only slightly, Gophers obviously in a deep zone. Would like to see more of it when our opponents try to cover two wide WRs with a single DB and a linebacker shaded inside of the slot guy. Also, the line blocks like it's going to be good old Zone Right again, causing the linebacker's first step to be inside. (CA, 3)|
|Three step drop and fire with Manningham's guy playing way off him. Henne's excellent arm strength allows him to get this ball out there in time to provide about 9 YAC. (CA, 3)|
|M45||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||2||Hart||Zone Right|
|Same setup as the first two plays on our second drive, but Mitchell(-1) can't seal the linebacker and the hole between him and Riley never materializes.|
|Er... this is a slant that turns into an out, which has a name. Circle, maybe? Anyway, Breaston's wide open on this and could run for days but Henne drops it at his feet. (IN, 0)|
|Another three-yard throw on third and long, but it's well timed and gives Massey a step on a linebacker coming up in the zone. Massey turns upfield for the first but is tripped by his shoe, coming up just short. (CA, 3)|
|O45||4||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||8||Hart||Off Tackle|
|Wow... designed to go outside. Oluigbo gets submarined by a blitzing corner. No problem for Hart(+1), as he bounces around the minor inconvenience and up the sideline.|
|Goddamn. Henne again looks off until come back to a wide open Arrington. Throw between the numbers means six points. (DO, 2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|M18||1||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Zone Right|
|Nice job by Bihl, Mitchell and Riley to single block their guys effectively. The Minnesota MLB is unblocked and makes the play a few yards downfield. (2 YAC)|
|Henne checks into this with seven men in the box versus a 2TE set. Corner blitz and a missed block by Massey(-1) close off the backside... Hart follows the surge in the middle of the line for a few.|
|M26||3||2||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||7||Breaston||Slip screen|
|Again taking advantage of the shaded linebacker thing. Arrington(+1) gets a nice block and Breaston heads outside of him for the first. (CA, 3)|
|Henne drops back and fires to an open Breaston. (CA, 3)|
|M47||1||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Run||0||Hart||Zone Left|
|Long can't seal the Minn DE Massey was owning, forcing a cutback into a mess.|
|Designed to hit Massey in the flat, as Breaston starts blocking before the ball is even thrown. (CA, 3)|
|Brian Thompson(!) runs a seam that opens up a little space underneath the Minnesota zone for Arrington on the shallow cross. (CA, 3)|
|O41||1||10||Pass||Pass||41||Manningham||PA Deep Post|
|Duuude. Henne's not even putting air under these. He's just throwing it right to Michigan's WRs 40 yards downfield. (DO, 2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|M13||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Massey||False Start|
|Key blocks from Mitchell(+1) and Massey(+1) spring Hart downfield.|
|Less room on the identical play. Mitchell(-1) misses a block, cutting off a potential cutback lane.|
|M20||3||3||I-Form 2TE||Run||5||Hart||Zone Right|
|Riley(+1) and Massey(+1) cave in the right side of the line. By the time Hart meets resistance he's already at the sticks.|
|By the time Grady reaches them, Bihl(+1) and Mitchell(+1) are four yards downfield. Last couple plays the Minnesota DL is getting blown off the ball.|
|Easy pitch and catch for the first down becomes a bigger chunk when the Minnesota DB whiffs his tackle, allowing Manningham(+1) 7 more. (CA, 3)|
|Greg Mathews in == run. POA jammed up, Hart tries a cutback, they've blitzed a corner past Mathews == no gain.|
|Rifled unnecessarily low and hard. Manningham gets a hand on it but can't bring it in. (IN, 1)|
|M43||3||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||27||Manningham||Cross < /a>|
|Ton of time. Manningham comes wide open in the zone and Henne fires it right to him. (DO, 3)|
|O30||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||-5||Grady||Zone Right|
|The Grady fumble. Breaston comes in motion tight and tries to get a block. This doesn't work so well, as his man shoves him off then pops Grady(-2), who fumbles the hell out of the ball. Breaston alertly picks it up and mitigates the damage.|
|I think if Hart(-1) cuts this back to the left right away he's got a hole. He delays, eventually getting caught behind Mitchell and Riley.|
|O34||3||14||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Massey||Deep out|
|Delayed blitz fools Riley. Hart cuts the guy to the outside; another guy coming inside delays long enough for Riley(-1) to decide to double team the DE. Linebacker runs right by him and plows Henne, forcing a barely incomplete throw to a wide open Massey. (PR, 0, protection breakdown 1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 5 min 3rd Q. First time all game Henne gets pressure. Almost pulls off the conversion anyway... we punt from the 34. Ewwww, but 4th and 14.|
|M47||1||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Pass||9||Breaston||Slip screen|
|Breaston cuts inside of Arrington's block and gets everything he can. (CA, 3)|
|I believe this is an attempt to go deep. We fake a zone left but do not run the true waggle â€“ Henne sets up in the pocket. Pressure comes eventually, before he can throw, and he manages to toss the ball away before the sack. (TA, protection breakdown 3)|
|O44||3||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||13||Hart||Zone Left|
|Massive cutback lane after he picks up the first, which he takes. If he was faster he could do a lot more with this... but he's not. Nice cut block from Mitchell.|
|Another corner blitz. Banks comes in unblocked and should have Hart for a four-yard loss, but he bounces off the tackle attempt and manages to crawl past the LOS despite the disruption in the play. Backside, where the blitz came from, wouldn't have been nearly as relevant if the Minnesota DE opposite Long(-1) hadn't shot upfield, forcing a cutback. (Hart +1, 4 YAC)|
|Time for Henne, but no one open. Eventually he throws it away. Before he did, Riley(-1) got beaten (eventually) by Steve Davis, who draws a holding call. (TA)|
|O40||2||19||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||1||Breaston||Flat checkdown|
|Breaston runs a little stop route clearly intended as only a last option. Henne eventually comes down to him, but there's no YAC here as Minnesota closes quickly. (CA, 3)|
|O39||3||18||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||35||Manningham||Ridiculous Flag|
|Henne's best throw of the night fits in a teeny hole in the zone and drops right into Manningham's hands for a third and long conversion. (DO, 2)|
|O4||1||G||Goal line||Run||1||Hart||Zone Right|
|Rare instance where Hart just sort of goes down when he should, gaining but a yard. Seemed well blocked enough for a play from the four.|
|Arrington pushed out of bounds and can't get a foot down. Excellent job by the CB. (CA, 1)|
|O3||3||G||Goal line||Run||-2||Hart||Zone Right|
|Davis pantsed Massey(-1), got penetration, and ended the play before it started.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG (22), 21-7 14 min 4th Q.|
|M40||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Zone Left|
|Nothing to the playside, but there's a huge cutback lane. Steve Davis isn't even bothering to read the play before heading upfield. As a result, all Riley has to do is engage him and he's done. Mitchell drives his man down the line of scrimmage, opening up a major lane that Hart uses to get five before the safeties close him down.|
|Hart ends up taking this one right up the middle. Long and Kraus (+1 each) both drive their men off the ball, creasing the Minnesota line. Hart breaks a tackle for about four YAC.|
|Backside opens up again, though this time Davis is blocked down the line by Thompson. Grady takes the lane, then meets the undersized Minnesota safety and goes down immediately.|
|O42||2||4||Ace 3-Wide||Run||1||Minor||Zone Left|
|Note: we start Breaston on one of those slip-screen routes where he runs parallel to the LOS in the hopes it'll freeze that corner to his side. This basically works: he stops, confused, and Arrington plows him. Unfortunately, the left side of the line can't provide Minor any lanes to run through. Long doesn't get a seal on the DE or push him wide enough to allow him to go through the T-G gap; Kraus is also stuffed at the LOS.|
|Slant is right there but goes through Manningham's hands. I mean, sure, it's a tiny bit high, but come on. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 10 min 4th Q.|
|Same play as before where Breaston starts blocking before the ball is thrown. This block is weak (Breaston -1) and Massey has no opportunity to run after the catch. (CA, 3)|
|Riley fakes a pass block momentarily, then attempts to get out on a linebacker. Davis, unblocked, does not take the edge-rush bait and closes Hart down.|
|Hart motions out wide, taking a linebacker in man coverage with him. Henne looks left, comes to Breaston, then finds Hart â€“ his third read â€“ open at the sticks. Hart cuts outside of the bewildered linebacker for mucho YAC. Incidental face mask on Henne is half the distance. Patrick's assertion on the face mask replay that the Minn DE is being held is ridiculous... Long is pushing the guy and doesn't have ahold of him at all. (CA, 3)|
|Two Minnesota defenders come through the line. Grady(+1) does very well to split them and turn this into a two-yard gain.|
|A replay of the last play, down to the two guys who should have him. Grady(+1) spins off the first tackler and into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-7, 5 min 4th Q. Excellent work by Grady on the goal line. Probably could have been stopped for a loss on both plays.|
|They're stacking the box, obviously.|
|Run run run.|
So how do you like me now?
Uh... Mike? DeBord?
Much, much better? There were very few instances where we tried to rush into stacked fronts until it got late and that was the sensible thing to do. We played off our screen tendencies on a couple plays. We abused the Minnesota safeties so badly they woke up Sunday screaming about Henne's lying eyes.
All told, the offense was stupidly efficient. Michigan only got eight possessions. (A ninth was strictly run-out-the-clock.) Four of those ended in touchdowns and a fifth ended at the five. The other three all covered at least twenty-five yards. Only one didn't end up in Minnesota territory. The touchdown drives went 80, 77, 82, and 40 yards. Another drive ended with a missed 22-yard field goal. The offense went three-and-out zero times.
Uh, yeah... any criticism directed towards the offensive braintrust is going to have to wait a week. Happy?
All right then. Just one thing: if you could throw the ball some when Greg Mathews is in the game, that would be great. There was one throw to him -- the waggle that nearly got him killed versus ND -- but the rest have been runs. Charlie Weis has created this thing called "self scouting" that w
Certainly. Now with explanatory legend.
Commenters questioned whether or not that was the best performance of Henne's career and waited for chart to decide. Chart says? Probably, and it would say "almost definitely" if it could accurately reflect how ridiculous every one of those DOs was and remind you that one of the INs was another bomb.
The delightful thing is: it's not all that different from his performances over the past three weeks. He had a rough game against Vandy, but since then he's been insane. It would be one thing if the Minnesota game was an aberration, but Henne's been laying it in between his WR's numbers for three weeks now. The deep ball has gone from a high-risk maneuver to a staple of the offense.
This puts the offense in a tremendously advantageous situation. No one's stopped the Michigan rushing game without bringing guys in the box; no one has been able to put their safeties on the line of scrimmage without Henne lighting them up. Pick your poison.
What's with the numbers after all the passes?
They're rated on a degree of catch difficulty, which is then charted for receivers.
- 0: totally uncatchable. Charted only to give an indication of who is being targeted.
- 1: extremely difficult catches.
- 2: moderately difficult catches.
- 3: easy catches.
Note that even though Henne's bullets downfield were as accurate as possible, most of those got filed as 2s because they're moving at a high rate of speed. Table format is Caches / Opportunities. "Catches" is omitted for the zero category. By definition those are uncatchable.
A good day for the WRs as well with only one Manningham drop, although that was a drive killer. Arrington got open deep -- good -- but couldn't haul in his second fade of the year -- bad.
And the rest of the numbers?
Still working on those. I hope to roll out something for run and pass blocking next week.
Henne, obviously, and Hart, obviously. And Manningham and Arrington and Breaston and Mike Massey for his crushing blocking on the first drive. Also, the line gave Henne a ton of time. He was hit twice, and one of those was a coverage sack.
Uh... Riley, I guess? He had a blown blitz pickup, took a holding penalty, and was beaten once. But that's stretching.
Also, Kevin Grady fumbled and missed an opportunity for thirty yards when he cut back into a Minnesota linebacker instead of cutting to the wide open side of the field. His two goal-line carries we re both impressive, but at this point I'm a little leery of having him come in unless its short yardage. And the ball has been taped to his arms.
What does it mean for Michigan State?
We should kill them. I mean, you saw their corners in the Notre Dame game, right? Think "Minnesota, only crappier." They don't have the beef up front to stop our running game straight up and I think Michigan has shown that putting anyone not named Breaston in one-on-one coverage with a cornerback is going to end badly for the opponent. Now that Henne is looking of safeties like a pro, even cover-one looks like a dodgy proposition.
Michigan is still susceptible to execution breakdowns -- drops, Riley whiffs, the occasional wrong cut from a running back -- and Michigan State should hope to score, so expect the Spartans to come out in bend-don't-break mode, hoping to slow down Michigan long enough for Stanton et al to decide whether or not they're going to be able to move the ball. Hart's gone for 200 on MSU both previous times he's faced them and will approach that again. WR screens for everyone, too, and potentially nasty red-zone breakdowns.
DO: "Dead on." Generally reserved for impressive throws above and beyond the call of duty. Examples:
- A bomb that hits a guy in stride.
- A fifteen-yard cross into a zone with only a narrow window between defenders.
- A useful completion in the face of heavy pressure that would normally be an incompletion.
Generally any throw that can be thrown on a three-step-drop (slants, quick outs, screens of all varieties) is going to receive a "CA" at most.
CA: "Catchable." Run of the mill accurate throws. Encompasses a rather wide range from perfectly thrown short throws to downfield stuff that's a bit off but still feasible to catch. There's a subset of throws that live on the CA/IN boundary, which are...
MA: "Marginal." A slant that takes a guy off his feet, or a seam that is way behind a guy but catchable, or a deep ball that is way short but is a jump-ball situation. These are iffy throws that are still capable of gaining yardage... just not as much as they should.
IN: "Inaccurate." Passes that are plain uncatchable but for extraordinary intervention on the part of the wide receiver. All passes destined for Tacopants, Jason Avant's invisible 11-foot-tall imaginary friend, end up here. Completions can show up here if they're relatively simple throws that require a receiver to make a circus catch. Screens that have their timing disrupted because of a quarterback error also show here, as do open three-yard TE outs that would go for first down but for a late throw. If that should ever occur.
BR: "Bad Read." The grand bull-moose category of quarterback errors, these are throws that should not have been made due to excellent coverage, a lack of awareness of the situation, or inability to locate an open receiver.
UPDATE: Lately, I've started calling things "BRX" for XTREME. These don't get filed separately and are just for discussion of QB performance.
TA: "Throwaway." Passes which are not intended to be caught since the quarterback can find no one open. If the QB clearly has an open receiver that he did not find, these throws are usually slotted in the "Bad Read" category, though they're venial sins compared to throws into coverage. Due to the limitations of television coverage this reclassification is rare, but when there are a lot of these despite the quarterback having good time an eyebrow is officially cocked.
BA: "Batted." Balls which are deflected at the LOS. These are generally regarded as fluke occurences and are not held against the quarterback.
PR: "Pressure." Instances where the quarterback is snowed under before he has an opportunity to make a throw. If he hesitates and does not throw despite being given time, that's either BR or TA. PR is reserved for plays that are blown up because of pass rush, not coverage.
SCR: "Scramble." Instances where a quarterback sees a bunch of running room and takes off to good effect. Usually this has to be an obviously good idea--pick up the first, get eight yards on first down--for it to get filed here. Running for three yards on third and eight will get filed under TA.