somehow we're only 124th
upon further review
|O38||1||10||Nickel||Run||3||Speed triple option|
|The third option is a shovel pass. Harris comes up to force the pitch, which is made to the outside. And hey! Ryan Mundy(+1) makes a good play by getting to the outside shoulder of the WR attempting to block him, forcing the play back inside. Burgess, pursuing, makes the tackle.|
|Michigan stunts both defensive ends; they get stoned. (And thus we definitively prove that CMU's OL is better than FSU's.) In what will become a theme, LeFevour loops a pass out to his intended target, allowing Trent to close and prevent any YAC. Why so far off? (Coverage -1)|
|"Ryan Branch" listed on the starting lineups. Zone read play action; LeFevour hurls the ball to no one in particular because he's getting crushed by Lamarr Woodley(+1).|
|Despite the gain in yardage a nice play by Mundy(+1) again. Another zone-read fake freezes Burgess inside, leaving Mundy alone with a blocker. He drives the blocker onto his heels and then disengages as the WR comes by, making the tackle as best he can. Perilously close to holding on the Central WR.|
|The sort of yicky stuff I hate on third down: four man rush and a zone behind it. Harris is the closest man but I don't think you can hold him responsible here. (Coverage -1)|
|Hall(+1) breaks on the ball and knocks it away. Another slow looper that's a bit too high. Hall probably doesn't make this play if a strong-armed guy fires it in there. (Coverage +1)|
|(That God Damned Counter Draw.) Of course this play gives me hives. Fake the rollout, hand the ball to the RB making a counter move and viola many yards. Who to blame, who to blame? Burgess(-1) got sucked along to the point of no return. Englemon(-1) has a shot at him but stutter steps for some reason (trip? Didn't want to get cut back on?), allowing another 10-15.|
|Notice to opposing coaches: suggest you block that Woodley(+2) guy. Seriously: no stunt or anything, just a couple blitzers, and he's turned free. Bonus points to Harris(+1) for tackling the lone Central player with a chance to recover. Often have I wondered why I don't see that more often.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. Burgess gets misdirected a couple times. I'm not sure how much is on him, but it sure looks bad. Also Woodley gets the easiest sack of his career on the first blitz of the drive. Learn this lesson well, O English.|
|Central lines up in good old Ace 3-wide and then runs what looks like a freakin' zone play to the left side of the line. Michigan is all like O RLY? Central is all like YA RLY. Michigan is like NO WAI, largely because Terrance Taylor(+1) plowed his man three yards into the backfield a la Watson. Englemon(+1) comes up on the outside to force the loss.|
|LeFevour's pass is a little outside an glances off the hands of Linson. Hall looks a little dodgy with his angle on this play. If this is caught fairly good chance he misses the tackle and then some people are going to be chasing this dude.|
|O14||3||13||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||0||Bubble screen|
|Crable sighting at DE. Sneed motions to the right where a screen would have gotten set up had Jamar Adams(+1) not read it too fast for the OL to get out on him. Harris(+1) cleans up afterwards.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q. First hint of a daily theme: whenever Central attempted to line straight up and run it was a wasted down.|
|Ryan Mundy(-2) plows into Anderson well before the ball gets there. Really obvious call.|
|O32||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||1||Off tackle|
|Another useless run out of Ace 3-Wide from Central is again disrupted by Taylor(+2). Good backside pursuit by Biggs.|
|O33||2||9||3-3-5 Stack||Run||-3||Zone read handoff|
|Branch(+2) is initially stood up but when released by the guard moving to the second level he shoots into the backfield and punches the ball loose. DTs do not move that fast in nature. Woodley recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, EO 1st Q. Two more useless runs from CMU.|
|O20||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||-1 + 15||Zone read handoff|
|Taylor is again well into the backfield â€“ he's playing like an in-shape Watson â€“ but drags Sneed down by his facemask. Er... +2/-1?|
|Hall(-1, coverage -1) is R-U-N-N-O-F-T by Linson, turning his hips the wrong way just as he makes his cut. Open, good throw, rhythm completion. Central rushes this snap so no formation.|
|We blitz, LeFevour panics and rifles it into the crowd. WR was open (-1 coverage) and this will be a completion when we play ND.|
|Four man rush + zone behind it == easy completion to middle of field. I know Michigan has to run this D sometimes but we hates it, precious. (Coverage -1)|
|Two unblocked blitzers off the corner. LeFevour finds an open receiver on the slant but whistles the ball wide. Potential interception for Hall here... don't like his coverage, though.|
|Zone blitz w/ Van Alstyne dropping into coverage is momentarily picked up until Mundy(+1) shoves his blocker down and makes the sack. (Coverage +1)|
|The peril of press coverage: Mundy(-1) misses at the line and ends up chasing the receiver all the way downfield. Englemon(-3), though, is the real culprit, bizarrely vacating the deep center of the field for the corner. He takes a way-too-shallow angle, allowing the receiver behind him, and then it's too late. Awful play.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, 10 min 2nd Q.|
|Pass wildly overthrown.|
|O45||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||9||Shovel pass|
|Four man rush + zone should be a good play to contain this shovel screen but evidently is not. Don't like David Harris's(-1) angle on this play. Could have stopped him for 3 or so.|
|DL stones 'em. Branch(+2) gets superior penetration, destroying a third-and-short.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-7, 4 min 2nd Q. Punt = stupid.|
|A lot of time. Cetoute just falls down.|
|Ball is slightly inside and a touch catch but still makeable. Trent was run off and still a couple yards away from the play when the ball arrives. (Coverage -1).|
|LeFevour gets it there but only just. Coverage(+1) decent.|
|They empty the backfield and everyone's immediately like "oh, QB draw," including English, who blitzes right into it. Burgess(-2), unblocked, overruns the QB and voila first down.|
|To save time.|
|I think this crappy defense has leaked over from the offense, which has gone into save-the-lead-before-the-half mode. We're passive and Lefevour scrambles out into a bunch of confused defenders a la last year.|
|Adams(+1) jumps the route, knocking the ball down in the endzone. (Coverage +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 24-10, EOH.|
|O47||1||10||Nickel||Run||1||Speed triple option|
|Technically this is a pass play since LeFevour takes the shovel option. Woodley(+2) reads, forms up on LeFevour, and waits for the pitch, closing on the shovel guy instantly. Great play.|
|Four man rush + zone behind it == easy completion to middle of field, again. We must be wary of screen or something. Taylor was free on a stunt but we needed to cover for another couple seconds to make it matter. (Coverage -1)|
|I don't know if this is a checkdown or the play as called. I think it's just the playcall, anticipating a blitz. We do not blitz â€“ same Herrmannesque defense as the last down â€“ and Crable(+1) forms up to make the tackle.|
|Sent to the endzone. This is a pump-and-go that Hall(-2) bites on, getting beat badly. Maybe he recovered just enough(+1) to disrupt the receiver's concentration enough to make him drop it. Why is there no safety help on a four man rush? Should have been caught, but was dropped.|
|O34||3||7||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Short cross|
|Corner blitz from Hall is unblocked, forcing a panicked dumpoff pass three yards downfield, which is dropped anyway.|
|Intentional grounding on LeFevour. We again send a ton of blitzers. Woodley(+1) is unblocked and so does't get major points but does run down LeFevour from behind, forcing the penalty.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 24-10, 13 min 3rd Q. Defense sucks sucks sucks then we blitz and overrun them. Please learn from this drive. We must Georgia Tech these ND bastards.|
|CMU rolls the pocket... Crable is about to get free from the tackle and apply pressure when he's pretty flagrantly held â€“ no call. LeFevour leaves it too long (coverage +1), then throws it to a tiny window along the sideline. Adams(+1) breaks it up.|
|Wow. They try to set up a screen, which David Harris(+1) reads and disrupts. The wow: an OT blocking Woodley reaches out and grabs Crable by his collar, and yanks him to momentarily slow his pass rush. No call.|
|O21||3||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||1||QB Draw|
|Woodley(+1) occupies the lane in the middle. Also, we clearly are blitzing into this but there's no change in the play. Probably won't happen @ ND|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 9 min 3rd Q|
|Great coverage (+2) forces LeFevour to sit in the pocket until Biggs(+1) gets loose and sacks him.|
|Can't find anyone again (coverage + 1). Crable(+1) is tackled, drawing a holding flag.|
|Okay. Whatever. Trent's there soon enough on 2nd and 26.|
|We blitz. On 3rd and 21. I am overjoyed. Harris(+1) ends up decking LeFevour just as he throws. The pass is a prayer that falls a couple yards past his intended receiver.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 5 min 3rd Q|
|O20||1||10||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Branch(+2) penetrates and grabs Sneed's legs as he passes, ending this play before it starts.|
|O20||2||10||Nickel||Run||12||Zone read handoff|
|Harris(-1) takes a couple steps back before reading the run, preventing him from filling the hole. Too slow.|
|Sneed bounces outside to avoid our blitz. Morgan Trent(+1) provides excellent run support.|
|Stewart(-1, coverage -1) is playing way off.|
|LeFevour overthrows it badly.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-10. 15 min 4th Q|
|Joined in progress. I don't know what happened.|
|O13||2||7||3-3-5 Stack||Penalty||-5||Illegal Sub|
|Max Pollock! Walkon! Touchdown! OMG! Totally fumbled before the line but who cares!|
|Drive Notes: Interception Return Touchdown, 41-10, 12 min 4th Q.|
Charting ceased here, as we've officially entered garbage time.
So that wasn't exactly quite as stirring as the Vanderbilt game.
No, it wasn't, but I think we knew going in that Central had a better offense than Vandy. The 10 points and 4 turnovers the Commodores racked up against Alabama reinforce that.
Still, I was a little disappointed. Crable's monster game in week one got him little playing time in week two and he didn't do a ton with the opportunities he was given. We got burned on the counter draw yet again. There were a few times when we dropped seven into coverage, got nothing from the DL, and watched completions over the middle that seem impossible for Michigan to duplicate. Leon Hall was pretty average. Brandent Englemon made his first critical mistake as a Wolverine.
Any positives, Mr. Grumpy?
Still: 10 meaningful points, seven of them on a pass that probably should have been deflected or intercepted.
It's hard to judge Terrance Taylor's performance since Central ran so few plays that he was relevant to, but good Lord whenever the Chips lined up in a fairly conventional formation and ran the ball, Taylor was crushing his guy into the backfield. He wasn't holding the point of attack, he was almost drive-blocking his opponent. Just Central, sure, but exciting. If he can repeat that performance against Notre Dame, Michigan is going to have zero problems dealing with any sort of conventional Notre Dame rushing game. Big if, but he's already done more than Massey did last year. At this point I expect him to have a better year than Gabe Watson did a year ago, as he's in much better shape than Big Gabe.
Ryan Mundy made a couple of nice plays defending the run. Though he was beaten on the Central touchdown, he was in press coverage over a slot receiver and had every right to expect safety help.
Woodley is no joke. Biggs may not be one, either.
Heroes and Goats?
Kind of already did them, but here's the chart to re-iterate:
|Woodley||8||8||Wasn't blocked on either sack.|
|Taylor||5||1||4||Outstanding penetration. Can you really double him when he's sitting next to Branch?|
|Branch||5||5||No, you can't.|
|Crable||2||2||Quiet day with Michigan mostly in the spread. Would have had a bigger impact if a couple obvious holds were called.|
|Burgess||1||3||-2||Out of position on the counter draw.|
|Hall||1||2||-1||Mitigated somewhat by coverage.|
|Adams||3||3||Where he needed to be.|
|Englemon||1||4||-3||We still love ya, Brandent.|
|Mundy||2||3||-1||Maybe a little harsh. Though he did okay.|
|"Coverage"||8||8||0||Not as good as the Vandy game but I think batting .500 in this category is pretty good. We'll see as it develops.|
In sum: another good day for the DL, though it would have been nice if Biggs showed the same pass rush he did against Vandy.
After some time doing this, I've come to the conclusion that the system as deployed favors defensive linemen with pluses and is harsh to the secondary, so keep that in mind. A DL with a score around zero is a bad player; a cornerback around zero is probably a decent one.
Played but not much. Didn't have an impact on the game. With Biggs playing well I don't think we'll see much of him against ND except in passing situations.
And what does it mean fo r Notre Dame?
I would be surprised if Darius Walker gets many yards at all when ND lines up and runs. He'll probably break a couple draws into the secondary and catch a few screens, but I'm pretty sure Notre Dame is going to get stoned when they try to run.
The passing game is another matter. Seeing LeFevour sit back with mucho time tends to give one pause, especially in the harsh light of Penn State's debacle. Hall re-confirmed my opinion of him as an above-average cornerback but not a great one. Also, the safeties gave up a big play and we haven't gotten a play from Stewart or Trent yet.
Notre Dame is going to have to make a lot of West Coast six-to-eight yard throws on first down if they want to move the ball consistently. Walker is not likely to be effective with Michigan in a base defense and when ND finds itself in obvious passing downs Michigan will feature that Crable/Woodley/Branch/Jamison DL-type substance and try to send Brady Quinn's ribs out his back. Grinding scoring drives like we saw versus Penn State (and at the beginning of last year's game) are unlikely to happen often. Maybe once. However, Weis will no doubt catch us in a really wrong defense six or seven times, at which point we'll have to hope they screw it up or one of our defenders makes an outstanding play. The points we give up will depend heavily on how many of these plays -- slants against major blitzes, bombs to Samarjasdikeixa, screens against major blitzes -- we actually give up. I expect at least two, but that idiot at CSTV (I think they're trying to collect the whole set) predicting 45 points for Notre Dame is going to be off by about 20.
Once again, copious thanks to reader Josh Houchin for the video clips.
Notes: new additions for formation and brief here as well. New PR category for pass attempts = "pressure"; only used when Henne clearly has no time to throw. In cases where finding a receiver is plausible, TA applies when forced to scramble.
|M19||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||12||Hart||Off tackle|
|Ecker and Long cave in the left side of the line. The corner is walled off by a nice block from Tabb. Hart scoots off tackle with ease.|
|M31||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||2||Manningham||WR screen|
|First WR screen of the year. Ecker motions from his TE spot out to the right for an extra blocker. Manningham bobbles the screen; Breaston's block isn't very good and his man disrupts the timing. (CA)|
|M33||2||8||Ace 3-Wide||Run||2||Hart||Off tackle|
|Vandy blitzes a linebacker lined up over the slot receiver. He's into the backfield unblocked but Hart darts around him and turns a three yard loss into a two yard gain. Play was actually well blocked, but the delay forced by the blitzer allows Vandy's back seven to converge.|
|M35||3||6||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||6||Manningham||Short stop|
|Smooth drop and throw to Manningham, who spins and tries to move upfield but trips. Had he not fallen he probably picks up ten or twelve. (CA)|
|M41||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Off tackle|
|Same as the first snap. This is supposed to be a double on the DE where Ecker helps Long seal him inside then moves to the second level, but Long never really engages with the DE, allowing him to scoot past. A linebacker comes up hard to fill outside; Hart slices up between him, unfortunately into the hands of the DE. No DE = Hart posterizes the LB and goes for big yardage.|
|DeBord trademark starts off well. Breaston gets his man turned around, then breaks his route off. When he does the ball is right there for him. Excellent timing. (DO)|
|O37||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||11||Hart||Iso off tackle|
|Obi Oluigbo gets a nice pop on the LB in his first appearance. Hart again slices upfield, making the maximum out of the blocking.|
|Hey, that offseason rumor-mongering paid off! Looked like it would go for more â€“ maybe a bad cut.|
|O21||2||5||I-Form Twins||Run||2||Hart||Iso off tackle|
|Grumble, grumble, fullback shuffle. Line is clogged up and Hart plows for what he can get.|
|O19||3||3||Offset I, 2 TE||Run||19||Grady||Iso SMASH!|
|Very nice to see that from Grady. A decisive, run with one cut and the bounce outside that gets him to the endzone. Looks faster this year. The entire line crushes Vandy off the ball â€“ Jake Long ends up something like 10 yards downfield.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1Q. MIKE DEBORD IS WONDERFUL!!! ALL HAIL MIKE DEBORD!!! Er... nice drive. Waggle was set up by the gashing Hart off-tackle runs, the run block was generally good, and hey: 81 yards and a touchdown.|
|Hart cuts as far to the backside of the play as he can. If Manningham can get engaged with the safety or corner on that side he could go.|
|M31||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Hart||Iso off tackle|
|Seems relatively well blocked, but no real hole opens. FB shuffle again.|
|M34||2||7||I-Form Twins||Pass||-4||Breaston||WR Screen|
|Henne rifles it over Breaston's head. Shame, because this one was going to work.Breaston's man was too far away. (IN)|
|Found him open but couldn't hit him. Weird aside: a Vandy DE gets loose but forms up and seems like he's trying to keep contain instead of, you know, sacking the QB. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1Q. Two Henne errors end the drive. Can't blame DeBord on this stuff. His calls worked.|
|Hart's hesitant as LB Goff is unblocked. His posterization attempt fails, and he gives the universal "My Bad" signal to the sideline when he rises.|
|"Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw," which for some reason always seems to work decently.|
|O29||3||5||Ace 3-Wide, Hart offset||Pass||7||Henne||Scramble|
|Both Riley and Mitchell get owned by a Vandy stunt on the right side. Both players come through the line, forcing Henne to bail out and prove that yes, he is faster than John Navarre. (PR)|
|O22||1||10||Weird Thing||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Quick Flat|
|I dunno what you call a formation with one tight end standing up at the end of the line and another a yard inside of him, two yards off the LOS. So we'll go with weird thing. Henne's pass to Breaston in the flat â€“ not a checkdown, the design of the play â€“ is very bad and gets him killed. (IN)|
|O22||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Off tackle|
|Hart makes the wrong cut here by going outside of Ecker, but makes up for it by dodging Vandy tacklers and making six yards from very little.|
|The play overturned by review. This is not close and should not have been overturned. Manningham secured the ball, had both feet hit, and then it was punched out. WTF? The play and throw are both very nice. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-0, 2 min 1Q. Not exactly an elegant drive, but one that should have ended in a touchdown.|
|M45||1||10||4-wide trips||Pass||3||Breaston||Slip screen|
|Tabb misses his block. (CA)|
|M48||2||7||Ace 3-Wide||Run||25||Minor||Off tackle|
|Great blocking all around; Minor darts up between Ecker and Long. Special credit to Arrington for excellent downfield blocking.|
|Massey's lined up at fullback on this play. He run a simple wheel, and find himself open, Manningham having run off the deep zone. Nice throw by Henne, though not in a position where you can entirely blame Massey for the drop. (CA)|
|O27||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||3||Minor||Off tackle|
|Same play he just picked up 25 on. Not as well blocked this time.|
|Nails him right in the hands. Great throw. (DO).|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG, 10-0, 14 min 2Q. Again... execution errors stop the drive, though these aren't on Henne.|
|Line blows Vandy off the ball and ends up five yards downfield, though they don't crease 'em.|
|M21||2||5||Ace 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Off tackle|
|Nice block by Ecker creates space off tackle. Nice job by Bihl, too.|
|Stop and go and stop and go and stop and go go go go(!) (CA)|
|Hart pops a blitzer after a play action fake, preventing Henne from getting killed, the goes out in his route. He slips on his cut, else would have gotten eight or ten. Second slip today. (CA)|
|O43||2||8||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||7||Arrington||WR Screen|
|Arrington spins through a tackle, gaining 7. (CA)|
|O36||3||1||Offset I, 2 TE||Run||6||Grady||Iso SMASH!|
|Grady's untouched until five yards past the LOS. Outstanding, grinding blocking.|
|A lot of penetration Hart manages to avoid to the outside.|
|Henne crushed. Miscommuncation between Long and Ecker causes this: Long disengages from the DE to pick up a stunting blitzer but Ecker does not pick him up. This was going to be a shot at the endzone without the whole sack business. (PR)|
|O35||3||15||Ace 3-Wide, Hart offset||Pass||3*||Henne||Scramble|
|Totally unblocked blitzer immediately forces Henne to scramble. Hart starts barking at the OL after this play, and since he is my tiny god I believe him: his offset position made it nearly impossible to pick up the blitzer coming from the inside. Alex Mitchell busts.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 13-7, 7 min 2Q. Everything was fine until the OL went brain-dead on back-to-back plays. Third drive killed by two mistakes from a single position group. First it was QB, then WR, then OL. Still no evidence that DeBord's playcalling is in any way deficient.|
|Does not find his man downfield and takes off without a Vandy player anywhere near him. Maybe everyone was covered, but we're breaking out the (BR) here anyway.|
|O40||2||6||Offset I (?)||Run||-1||Grady||Iso|
|Brian Thomspon does not get a good pop on his man. He bounces backwards, allowing Langford to crack Grady right at the line. Probably not going anywhere anyway, but still: bleah.|
|O41||3||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||19||Breaston||Shallow cross|
|Breaston wide open after the other Wrs run their men off. Nice throw allows Breaston to catch it in stride and tear upfield. (CA)|
|Grady's fumble. We shuffle and run the other way(!) for a few unimpressive yards. Aaaand Grady was almost down but that's probably the right call.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 13-7, 2 min 2Q.|
|M27||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Shallow cross|
|Basically the same play they ran on the previous drive but this time into a zone. Breaston was going to get hammered as soon as he caught it, but the pass was a bad one. This is either (BR) or (IN). Someone else had to be a better option. Filed under BR.|
|A lot of room up until about eight yards â€“ Hart pounds out the last two on leg drive alone.|
|M37||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Bihl||False Start|
|Vandy rushes four and no fewer than three of those guys get in on Henne, forcing the awkward throw to Hart. WTF, guys? (PR)|
|M27||2||15||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Mitchell||False Start|
|Give up to end the half.|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 13-7. Anyone booing the draw call at the end of the half has to get real: second and twenty from your own 22 with 40 seconds?|
|Hart cuts back behind Jake Long, in front of ecker, gaining six. Spielman criticizes him for dancing too much and I'm all like what?|
|M33||2||4||Offset I||Run||13||Breaston||End-arou nd|
|Preceded by fake to Hart up the gut. Another benefit of the zone running game: Vandy's backside contain must remain vigilant about a potential Hart cutback, opening this up. I expect to see quite a few of these this year.|
|M46||1||10||Offset I||Run||7||Hart||Off tackle|
|Great blocks by Oluigbo and Ecker occupy the linebackers to the near side of the field. Hart has room to run, and only a hustling safety prevents a real big gain.|
|Stupid penalty by Riley, as he has the guy blocked well enough to let him go when Hart bounces outside.|
|This is either a bust or some blocking scheme I don't understand. The DE on Riley's side delays for a moment on the snap, possibly making it look like he's dropping into a zone. Riley doubles down on the DT. When the DE comes a moment later, Hart's left to block him. He ably chops him to the ground but Vandy is also blitzing a linebacker from that side. He's unblocked and forces Henne to scramble. My opinion: Riley screwed up. There was no possible threat of a blitz from the other side of the field.|
|M48||3||8||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Tabb||False Start|
|Max protect and only three guys in the pattern. Plenty of protection, but Henne can't find anyone downfield and scrambles. Tenuous (BR), since it's possible everyone was covered.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 9 min 2Q. Henne had no choice on the first scramble, but hell, if you bomb it downfield on third and long what's the worst thing that happens? It's a punt. More mental errors from Riley.|
|O41||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Off tackle|
|Long momentarily doubles the DE then gets out to the linebacker; Hart has a nice hole that the Vandy safety fills quickly. Play action over the top would be nice if Riley would block someone.|
|Safety again fills the hole very quickly, forcing a Hart cutback. He runs up the backs of his linemen for a few yards.|
|O32||3||1||Offset I 2TE||Run||4*||Hart||Off tackle|
|Another nice block from Oluigbo blows up the linebacker and making the first down easy.|
|O28||1||10||Offset I 2TE||Pass||Inc||Butler||Waggle|
|Very catchable ball is plain dropped. Tough throw on the run, being pressured. (CA)|
|O28||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||7||Hart||Off tackle|
|Excellent, driving blocks from the left side of the OL. Ecker walls of his linebacker; Hart slips past a filling safety four yards downfield for some extra yards.|
|Hart misses a big cutback lane, though to be fair the hole outside was equally tempting but for Adrian Arrington whiffing on the corner. Hart slips the corner's tackle, burrowing ahead for a couple.|
|O19||4||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||3||Grady||Iso SMASH!|
|Plows ahead. Important block by Oluigbo on a DT that didn't get chopped or pushed.|
|O16||1||10||Offset I Twins||Pass||Inc||Massey||Waggle|
|Tipoff: Massey lines up as the fullback. Formation predictability persists: we often put TE s in at fullback and these plays are almost always passes. By the time Henne turns around two Vandy players are in his face. He leaps to throw over them and the pass is too hard for Massey, only a couple yards downfield. Tenuous IN but could be classed PR.|
|Vandy blitzes right into it, forcing Manningham to take a wide angle around the charging linebacker and allowing the Commodores to close down his angle and deny the corner.|
|Touchdown. Throw is a bit high but well within Ecker's range. Excellent placement since he had to get it over the linebacker. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-7, 2 min 3Q. Hurray, points!|
|I can't decide whether Hart missed a cut to the backside or not. An unblocked linebacker cuts through the mess to get to Hart, but not before Jake Long has driven everyone four yards downfield.|
|Henne short hops a throw he should have made. Butler was open near the first down line. I don't think he set his feet... but don't take my word for it. (IN)|
|Riley screws up the protection, taking the DE and not the blitzing linebacker to the outside. Mitchell futilely attempts to cover for him, but can't. Henne is forced to take off. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 13 min 3Q. Riley is the outstanding factor in all this pressure on Henne. It might not be his fault â€“ someone else could be screwing up protection calls or Mitchell could be missing stuff â€“ but I wonder if Mitchell's move to tackle was not just because Riley was dinged.|
|No blocking. Oluigbo runs past a linebacker, who tackles Hart.|
|Hart makes the right cut this time, shooting up in a crease.|
|M36||3||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||5||Hart||Off tackle|
|Long blocks two guys, opening up the left side for Hart and an easy conversion.|
|Ecker doesn't seal his guy, who chases Hart to the sideline.|
|Simple flat route to Ecker is thrown low. If accurate, this is good for 6 or 8. (IN)|
|Riley gets owned, holds, and still lets his guy in on Henne, whos scrambles out and makes a really bad throw that could have been a pick-six for Vandy. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 6 min 4Q. Folks, we have a whipping boy.|
|They're crashing in against the run now. The three-wide stuff isn't going to be that effective now they aren't respecting the pass.|
|Missed a cut outside for more yards.|
|Thrown a bit behind Manningham; still caught. Tenuously (CA)... or maybe more so since if it was on target there was a linebacker ready to bat it down or pick it off.|
|Little room with Vandy crashing the line.|
|Long's man fires inside of him and gets penetration, disrupting the play.|
|Ees a touchdown. Superb throw from Henne. (DO).|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-7, 2 min 4Q. Ballgame.|
What did you like about the dawn of DeBord Era II?
Internet malcontents will be malcontents, but they did get a few of their wishes granted. Michigan's base formation was a three-wide set, something long desired by crabby message-boarders. The zone running game vastly reduced the prevalance of the fullback shuffle. The waggle re-emerged as a weapon.
Most important: the run game was great. We have to take it with a grain of salt -- just Vandy and all that -- but it was impossible to stop until Vandy sold out late in the fourth. The linemen were crushing their opponents off the ball.
And what didn't you like?
Well, the widespread bitching about the passing game is partially unwarranted. A few times Henne set up to go deep but was rudely interrupted by men in white jerseys. But would it kill Michigan to try a few posts and slants? Better to find out Henne can't read those coverages now than against Notre Dame.
While the play-tipping based on personnel was reduced it was not eliminated: when Michigan lines up with a "fullback" who is actually a tight end, it is a pass. Greg Mathews' presence in the game equals run. Carlos Brown is going to run an Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw. &c.
The Long-Kraus combination on the left side was dominant. Bihl also had a good day, showing excellent mobility getting to the second level. Mike Hart is Mike Hart.
Also, a word on Breaston: yes, he had a bobble on a punt and dropped a slant that could not have been more accurate. But the criticism he's received after the first game is excessive. I mean... did you watch this? Watch it again! Also, his downfield catch on the waggle required good footwork along the sideline. I'd rather he didn't drop that pass, but it was the one error in his day as a receiver. I was actually encouraged by his performance only to return to find out that the general opinion was "start Arrington!" I dunno. I don't get people sometimes.
I don't want to hammer on Rueben Riley too much, but he was the primary burr in the offense's giddyup. Alex Mitchell also "helped" in this regard. The two of them often miscommunicated on stunts or blitz pickups, allowing unblocked Commodores into the backfield and indirectly causing Internets teeth gashing about the lack of a deep passing game.
Henne was okay but missed a number of fairly easy passes.
Tyler Ecker was erratic with his blocking: sometimes great, sometimes awful.
Exciting new faces?
Brandon Minor obviously started his Michigan career with a bang. When I finally saw him in person I was flabbergasted. This was the guy recruiting gurus spent all year declaring a fullback? The guy who the coaches described as a sort of Leroy Hoard on rageohol? He looked more like a slot receiver than a fullback. And then he ran real far. Carr's spent the last week swearing up and down to anyone who will listen that Minor is going to get more carries in the coming weeks -- jeepers.
It might be odd to drop a fifth-year senior in this category, but fullback Obi Oluigbo, sparingly used to date, pounded Commodores all day. He lived up to the hyping given him by Hart and Carr and should help the short ground game that was one of Michigan's many fatal flaws a year ago.
If Carson Butler had caught anything he might go here; if we weren't witholding all positive judgement on the offensive line until ND Alex Mitchell might as well.
- DO: "dead on." Accurate, NFL-level throws that are either downfield, fit into a tight spot, or provide ample opportunities for YAC due to perfect placement.
- CA: "catchable." Run of the mill throws. Potentially slightly inaccurate. Screens and short, simple routes like outs and stops max out here.
- IN: "inaccurate." Poorly thrown balls. Some completions may end up here if they are complete as the result of an extraordinary effort by the wide receiver.
- BR: "bad read." A throw into coverage or throw-away when not under pressure... basically anything that's an obvious mental error.
- TA: "throw-away." Can't find a receiver and gets rid of it. BR's less malignant cousin.
- BA: "batted." Balls knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
- PR: "pressure." Instances where Henne is unable to complete a pass through no fault of his own, but because people are bearing down on him quicker than they have a right to.
Not particularly good, though a couple of marginal balls were placed in negative categories. Not particularly Henne's fault, though. He attempted to throw 27 times; approximately 7 of those times were either screens or three-step rhythm throws. 25% of the time when Henne attempted to throw something longer than a screen or short west coast pattern he had Vandy players in his face, usually unblocked after a stunt or a missed blitz pickup. Late in the game, he started expecting and fearing pressure, forgot his mechanics, and started short-hopping balls. It was reminiscent of last year's Notre Dame game with the exception of a grinding ground game and a kickin' D. Henne was fine at first. He was excellent on the opening drive, and at least good through much of the game. The stats don't show it because of the drops.
However, when he lost faith in his protection late he started scrambling unnecessarily, misfiring on simple passes, and generally reverting to the bad old days at the beginni ng of last season. Notre Dame has no doubt noticed this -- the first hint of it was against them, after all -- and will blitz and stunt extensively, hoping to get him rattled.
No doubt the coaches will be going nuts at the OL and TEs about the protection failures in this game, which were almost all schematic instead of physical. That's going to be the thing I look for most against Central: protection of Henne. The left side should be fine, and Bihl did a very good job his first game, but I worry extensively about Mitchell-Riley.
What does it mean for Central?
Assuming that inexplicably kickass Chippewa defensive end Dan Bazuin lines up opposite Riley, next week's game will either provide reassurance or Ebola-in-the-subway panic about the pass blocking heading into ND. Most of the problems against Vanderbilt were presumably fixable miscommunications -- there was only one instance of a Michigan lineman getting beaten one-on-one (Riley, natch) -- but, strangely, Central Michigan represents a higher level of opponent. Hold them out all day and I'll be feeling chipper for ND.
Central may also pose an interesting test for the rushing offense. Last year they were the top run defense in the MAC. They held Penn State's monster 2005 ground machine to 138 yards and crushed Northern Illinois, yielding only six yards rushing after sack yardage (though Garrett Wolfe apparently didn't play). They return the bulk of their front seven. There's a big, fat NSFMF, though: one of the reasons CMU's run defense was so good was their inept pass defense. Teams didn't bother to run because Central started Condoleeza Rice and a goat that was totally tripping, man, in the secondary. That PSU game? A 40-3 hammering in which Michael Robinson and Anthony Morelli combined to go 22 of 36 for 382 yards. CMU managed to lose that NIU game because the two Husky quarterbacks combined to go 31 of 43 for 435 yards.
We should win, but I wouldn't take the CMU defense for granted. If we can't block them when we try to pass we will be in for a longer day than anyone anticipated.
Note a couple additions: "formation" and "brief." The former is self explanatory. "Brief" is a two-word description of the play. All terminology in these new sections is lifted directly from NCAA Football, since that's the common vernacular. A selection of plays have accompanying WMV video; look for links in the "brief" column.
I welcome formatting suggestions. I sent the verbosity down to a second line because of the extra columns. Not sure if I like it, but also not sure what the alternative is.
Also new: a generic +/- for "coverage." Since I have no idea what's going on downfield when the QB hesitates and takes a coverage sack or exactly why that WR is wide open, it's hard to assign individual credit or responsibility. When I can I will, but whenever a reasonably catchable pass is thrown I'll try to evaluate how well the intended receiver was covered. This rating is separate from individual ratings and liable to change radically as I get used to it.
Update: Oh. An asterisk next to a yard count is a pass play that turned into a QB scramble.
|O34||1||10||Standard nickel||Pass||3||WR Screen|
|McDonough: "They had three candidates to take the place of Cutler, Nickson's the one." Hur hur hur. Crable(+1), reads, closes, fends off a block, and cuts off the outside with the help of Hall. Five Wolverines gang-tackle Bennett.|
|A blitz! On the second play of the game! Nickson just barely gets it off before being leveled by Crable(+1). Leon Hall was also coming from that side.|
|O42||3||2||3-3-5 Stack||Run||11||QB Draw|
|Only six guys in the box on this play and it appeared that Graham was supposed to blitz around a stunting Biggs, leaving a big hole in the middle. I don't like this play call on a fairly obvious QB draw down.|
|M47||1||10||Standard nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Chris Graham(+1) sighting: faced with the prospect of one-on-one blocking with an OT he skips past him and converges along with Branch (+1, holding up well at the POA), and Biggs (who reads where the ball is going before closing down the RB).|
|M45||2||8||3-3-5 Stack||Run||2||Zone read keeper|
|Crable and Graham are blitzing. Crable cuts off the outside, forcing Nickson upfield. Graham pops up into the hole left between the guy attempting to block Crable and Biggs, who's stunting inside. Graham doesn't make the tackle but does force Nickson into the mush. Crable(+1) discards his blocker and recovers to make the tackle.|
|M43||3||6||Standard nickel||Pass||Inc||Wild scramble|
|Terrance Taylor(+2) goes through a double team to get immediate pressure on Nickson, who scrambles out to the left. Nickson gets a fairly accurate pass off but Chris Graham(+1) is in great coverage, knocking the ball down. I think Taylor's held here just enough to prevent him from sacking Nickson.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 7 min 1Q. Crable and Graham have great drives. Crable's outstanding speed is put to good use: he snuffs out a screen, crushes Nickson, then manages to tackle him after keeping containment. Containment? NO WAI.|
|Woodley(+1) gets upfield fast enough such that the pulling guard who's supposed to block him on this play-action pass can't get there in time, forcing Nickson to scramble up in the pocket. Graham(-1) overruns the play and slips when Nickson cuts, else this goes for zero yards. A pursuing Branch(+2) punches the ball out from behind.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 5 min 1Q. Um, Branch just ran down that QB from behind.|
|Biggs' offensive lineman decides not to block him. Good coverage(+1) downfield forces Nickson to scramble up. Nickson was correctly ruled down on his fumble.|
|O32||2||6||Standard nickel||Run||-1||Zone read handoff|
|Really nice job by both Branch(+1) and Biggs(+1) to push into the backfield, allowing the defense to converge. Note: Mundy is in the game as the nickelback.|
|O31||3||7||Standard nickel||Pass||Inc||Deep cross|
|Bennett drops a great pass from Nickson. Zone had been busted wide open there (coverage -1), though if complete this play is coming back for illegal hands to the face on Woodley.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0 last min 1Q. Ron English looks a little like Denzel Washington.|
|O41||1||10||Standard nickel||Pass||Inc||Zone read fake screen|
|Nickson is heavily pressured by both Biggs(+1) and Woodley(+1), which causes him to panic and throw inaccurately.|
|Good coverage(+1) forces Nickson to check down to the fullback. Burgess(+1) is all over him and makes the tackle immediately.|
|O44||3||7||Standard nickel||Pass||15||Deep cross|
|No pressure, lots of room in the zone (coverage -1)|
|M41||1||10||Standard nickel||Pass||11||Short stop|
|Charles Stewart(-1) is playing way off in man as Michigan zone-blitzes, almost missing the tackle.|
|Postgame the coaches point at Stewart(-2).|
|Drive Notes: TD, 10-7, 12 min 2Q.|
|WR lined up in the neutral zone. Weird.|
|Attempted screen is snowed under. Will Johnson and Prescott Burgess(+1) are ready to crush the RB should he receive the ball, so Nickson doesn't throw it. A charging Rondell Biggs(+1) prevents him from throwing it away; Woodley(+1) cleans up.|
|O8||2||22||Standard nickel||Run||-3||QB Draw|
|Er... Woodley(+2) does blow this play up, but they ran thi s QB draw thing that fakes up inside then comes out to his side of the field, leaving only a running back to block him. Thees is no good idea.|
|O5||3||25||Standard nickel||Run||-2||Off tackle|
|They give up and run. Nice play by Harris(+1), but there was nowhere for him to go anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 4 min 2Q. DANG. Just... just dang. When was the last time Michigan punched an opponent off the field like that? Even a crappy one?|
|Woodley(+3) runs right around the tackle and crushes Nickson.|
|Burgess(+1) and Harris(+1) zoom right past potential blockers, meeting at the RB.|
|O11||3||18||Standard nickel||Run||15||QB Draw|
|Somewhat scary there, but they go away.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 1 min 2Q.|
|Burgess(+1) jumps on the fullback out about five yards downfield, knocking the ball down.|
|O30||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||9||QB Draw|
|Crable blitzes for a fourth rusher. Woodley tries an edge rush, opening up a big hole for the draw; Harris gets solidly blocked by the RB.|
|Safety blitz from Englemon at the last second; Biggs(+2) slices between the tackle, who's blocking down on Branch, and the tight end to stuff this play in the backfield.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 13 min 3Q. Three and out on the first drive of the second half. Biggs gave no indication he could be this sort of playmaker a year ago, though he didn't get much time. And Jamison beat him out. Gooo Jamison!|
|O13||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||-5||QB Draw|
|Vandy goes five wide. This is nominally a 3-3-5 but Crable(+1) is lined up with his hand down next to Woodley. Woodley and Crable stunt with Woodley(+1) crashing into the guard and Crable coming around him; it works beautifully; Crable is to the QB immediately; Biggs and Branch help clean up.|
|O8||2||15||3-3-5 Stack||Run||0||QB Draw|
|Again Crable lines up with his hand down, this time at DT, and stunts, this time around Branch. Woodley(+1) is the one in the backfield disrupting the draw, as he shoves off his man and cuts off Nickson's foray up the gut. Nickson's forced detour gives Crable(+1) and Harris(+1) enough time to converge on him at the LOS.|
|O8||3||15||3-3-5 Stack||Run||4||Zone read handoff|
|Nice play by Burgess(+1) to shove away the feeble block attempt by the WR and contain the RB.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 7 min 3Q. Crable is a monster against these foofy spread rushing attacks. These last four drives are tingly.|
|O19||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||1||Option keeper|
|Hall(+1) is sent on a blitz but correctly reads the option play and backs off to keep contain on the RB. He doesn't do that and it's a big play. Nickson cuts up inside; Jamar Adams and Harris hit him at the LOS.|
|O20||2||9||3-3-5 Stack||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Very nice job by Biggs(+1) to hold his position, then shuck the blocker when the RB reaches him to make the tackle. Crable set up outside, read the play, and then crashed in on the RB to make very sure he went away.|
|O21||3||8||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Short post|
|Harris feints a blitz; Crable and Burgess actually come. The feint causes Vandy to shift its protection the wrong way, giving Burgess a free shot on Nickson. Despite the quick pressure, Nickson finds an open receiver and makes an accurate throw. Bennett drops it, partially because Jamar Adams(+1) arrives with the ball. (Coverage +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 1 min 3Q. I love Ron English. Crable looks like a different player. Biggs is playing like Woodley II. We're aggressive on third and long. Please, Vandy game, mean something. Brown roughs the kicker, causing the next drive. I realize this isn't technically correct, but it is essentially.|
|O36||1||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Short stop|
|Dropped by the Vandy receiver. I don't like how far Stewart has to play off this guy.|
|O36||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Penalty||13||Pass interference|
|Jamar Adams is right there on the receiver when the ball gets there, leaping over him in an attempt to make a play on the ball. Call is for hooking the receiver with his arm when he went to go over the top, which was unnecessary. Adams was in position to make a play. (Um... -1 for Adams, though I hate to give it to him, and +1 for generic coverage.)|
|This looks like a screen but, uh... isn't. Four players, including Eugene Germany and Will Johnson, burst through the line. Nickson bails out, understandably, and throws it away. (Crable, Johnson, Germany +1)|
|O49||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||7||Option pitch|
|Crable again blitzes, forcing the pitch immediately. It's impossible to see what happens downfield because of the camera angle, but Jamar Adams barely misses a tackle; Burgess can't quite get there, and Englemon doesn't wrap up.|
|M44||3||3||Standard nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Screen|
|Nickson's inaccurate on this screen, which would have worked. Michigan was sending the house.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 15 min 4Q. A couple Vandy screwups terminate the closest thing they've had to a drive since the touchdown.|
|Leon Hall(-1) gives up outside contain on this screen, opening up a big gain.|
|Coverage(+1) sack. Biggs(+1) gets it; Crable's pressure made him think twice about the throw.|
|O47||2||14||3-3-5 Stack||Run||12||Option pitch|
|Crable levels Nickson on this play. I don't like how tentative Adams(-1) is here. He comes up into the box presnap but holds up, allowing himself to get blocked by the tight end and giving the (white!) Vandy RB a nice gain.|
|Vandy runs a combo against our zone coverage. The underneath receiver clears out space for a deeper one, who makes the reception. Nice read and throw from Nickson.|
|Speed option play action; Spielman accuses a WR of running the wrong route. In any case, Nickson hesitates and is buried by four Wolverines, primary amongst them Jamar Adams(+1).|
|M41||2||19||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Bubble screen.|
|Dropped. Harris(+1) was going to crush him anyway.|
|Two blitzers don't get to the QB; Nickson makes a nice throw to Bennett. Stewart(+1) actually has pretty good coverage here, nearly knocking the ball loose. (Coverage +1)|
|Great coverage(+1). Nickson sits in the pocket looking for someone, can find nobody, and eventually hurls it to the back corner of the endzone. Crable(+1) eventually got the pressure.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, 20-7, 9 min 4Q.|
|Pitch and catch.|
|O30||2||1||3-3-5 Stack||Run||-1||Off tackle|
|Man... Woodley(+2) shoots into the backfield, disrupting the play immediately. You would think he was unblocked, but he wasn't.|
|O29||3||2||3-3-5 Stack||Run||9||QB Draw|
|Crable(-1) overruns the QB draw, freeing Nickson. Englemon(+2) makes a textbook strip from behind to force a fumble and a turnover.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 20-7, 4 min 4Q.|
|Corner blitz! On one of these desperation drives! Hall(+2) gets chopped, gets up, and gets it done.|
|Nice throw from Nickson, but we had this stopped short of the first down if we get a tackle from Burgess or Englemaon|
|Hall(+1) blitzes again, crushing Nickson and forcing an errant pass.|
|Rattled, Nickson sails it wide.|
|Leon Hall blitzes again. Nickson just wants to get off the field.|
|Nickson errant again. We blitzed on almost every play on this drive.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, EOG.|
(Thanks to reader Josh Houchin for much of the video.)
Care to offer some sort of grotesque sexual reference that clarifies your feelings about Ron English?
Well, no. Apparently relatives of mine read this. But it's really hard not to.
Other than everything?
It's the difference between confidence and arrogance.
- English is more deceptive. One of the most irritating things about Herrmann's defenses was their refusal to do simple things like align themselves in formations that don't give away the call. A year ago, Michigan positively refused to depart from its base 4-3-4 against three wide-receiver formations on first and second down. An outside linebacker would line up in the vague area of the wide reciever, indicating to any idiot that Michigan was in a zone. Vanderbilt spent the entire game save a few short yardage plays with at least three wideouts on the field; English was in either a standard nickel or a 3-3-5, allowing him to call a variety of defenses that don't come with giant blinking signs that say "VANILLA ZONE."
- English has a better grasp of the underlying game theory. Not that he sits around with a calculator and a statistics textbook, but on third and twenty he sits in an umbrella zone and blitzes instead of rushing four or even (ugh) three. On a hypothetical desperation drive, he blitzed the hell out of the opponent. He seems to have a more intuitive feel for the right sort of call in most situations. (Note that predictability is death and taken to an extreme the aforementioned tendencies would be negative. English seems to have his weighting right.)
- English molds his schemes to his talent instead of vice versa. Crable was deployed like a nuclear jack-in-the-box: he'd pop up randomly and bam, you're dead. Mundy featured heavily as the nickel back, taking advantage of his coverage ability without making him the last line of defense. No 6'8" proven liabilities played over guys who just made the Patriots. (Previous sentence assumes a move inside for Branch.)
- English's players look smart. Crable? WTF? Last year that guy played like he had an extra chromosome. Against Vandy he was responsibly violent. Burgess and Graham were both solid. There were vanishingly few mistakes -- Stewart's bite on the trick play is the only one that comes to mind.
- Swagger heart wanting it more blah blah blah. He's a better motivator.
- And the grand poobah: English coaches like he's got a talent advantage. He swarmed Vandy instead of sitting back, waiting for them to make an error. Bend-but-don't-break is a rube's game suited for weaklings. Take a look around the NCAA: the best defenses are all ravenous things featuring penetration galore, proactive schemes that force the offense to react. Sitting back yourself is a recipie for losses against teams with offenses that efficient when not pressured, and these days that's nearly everyone. English coaches like he's got a terrifying defensive line, which is nice, because we just might.
Whoah, tiger. It's just Vandy.
True. I'm no doubt getting ahead of myself. But I don't think Vandy's offense is all that bad. They returned most of their starters from a year ago and the big issue at quarterback was handled ably by Nickson, one of those athletic sorts who would gut us in days of yore no matter the crappiness of his teammates. When he managed to get a pass off it was almost always a good throw until the last drive, when he was clearly not interested in getting his ass kicked further. There wasn't much he could do given the Mongol horde in his face on every snap.
The Vandy offensive line is probably a mediocre unit but not a bad one. They return three starters from a line that allowed 24 sacks a year ago and was roundly criticized in scouting evaluations of Jay Cutler. Senior Brian Stamper was second-team All SEC a year ago, charged with zero of those 24 sacks. He gave up two to Lamarr Woodley.
Still: just Vandy. Disappointment probably coming. Easy to blitz the hell out of theoretical desperation drive when you're up three scores. Repeat until Notre Dame.
Er... everyone? Let's check the table:
|Woodley||12||12||Uh... yeah, good start. All American?|
|Biggs||6||6||We'll have to see how he does against a better team before declaring him the new hotness.|
|Taylor||2||2||Came out once the 3-3-5 came in.|
|Branch||4||4||Somewhat quiet as the only DT.|
|Crable||7||1||6||Still have worries about him against power rushing attacks, but against the spread? A monster.|
|Harris||4||4||Picked up where he left off.|
|Graham||2||1||1||Left midway through second with minor pull.|
|Hall||4||1||3||Note that the secondary had little to do most of the day.|
|"Coverage"||7||2||5||Usually on top of Vandy receivers even when there were completions.|
None, really. The closest thing to one would be Charles Stewart, who had a few instances of meh coverage and the bust on the trick play touchdown. No one else had more than one or two minor errors the whole way.
Exciting new faces?
thanks to reader Dave Dilks for the picture.
Do Rondell Biggs and Shawn Crable count? They looked like entirely different players. Stewart was a little rough -- something reflected in the new depth chart, which has his spot occupied by Charles Stewart OR Morgan Trent -- and no other newbies featured in anything more than spot duty.
What have we learned?
Nothing definitively; it is just Vandy. But indications:
- This is going to be an aggressive defense that attempts to force opponent mistakes with multiple fronts, stemming, and blitzes.
- Two of the big question marks on defense, SAM linebacker and DE-opposite-Woodley, appear to have been filled.
- I may have underestimated Woodley himself.
- All zone all the time? Gone. Corners are now permitted to approach the line of scrimmage.
What does it mean for Central Michigan?
No doubt we'll see more of the same against $#*!ing crazy Brian Kelly's spread offense, which I can't seem to go two sentences without referring to as "frenetic." Central was competitive against a probably-good Boston College team, gaining 354 yards despite giving away a few possessions with someone other than redshirt freshman Dan LeFevour -- already inspiring painful headlines -- under center. Unless Kelly goes really bats he'll stick with LeFevour after his impressive debut (22-37 for 221 yards and 74 yards rushing), which should make the Central offense even more efficient.
Against BC there was a ton of screening and misdirection. If Michigan isn't careful, Central could get some gashing plays against the new, hypothetically-aggressive D. The game still projects as an interesting learning exercise instead of a possible upset -- LeFevour is but a freshman, after all, and Central has to play defense -- but if the defense does anything comparable to what it did against Vandy it will be time to get excited.
|1||10||O20||Run||-4||Branch(+2) owns two blockers and makes a TFL all by his lonesome.|
|2||14||O16||Pass||Inc||Trent(+1) makes a break on this ball about 15 yards downfield. No replay but it looks like Smith threw this behind his wide receiver.|
|3||14||O16||Pass||15||Crable as the standup DT, stunting around Woodley. Ohio State keeps seven in to block, including a TE to Woodley's side. The zone is wide open on the corner route.|
|1||10||O31||Penalty||-10||Branch(+1) draws an obvious holding call as he gets tackled on the option.|
|1||20||O21||Pass||11||Ugh. Michigan attempts to cover Ted Ginn with Jamar Adams, and that works about as well as you think it might. Clearly Ohio State has noticed our strange tendency to line up safeties and linebackers over slot receivers no matter who they are and immediately goes to it when it needs a play.|
|2||9||O32||Run||11||Massey(-1) is crushed off the snap and Burgess(-1) is sealed easily, dÃ©jÃ vu.|
|1||10||O43||Pass||15||Watson(-1) is offsides, it's declined. This is a simple screen out to Ginn that we have no chance of stopping just from the alignment. We have two DBs over two outside wide receivers and no one really on Ginn, who's in that weird wingback spot. Harris is lined up two or three yards inside of him and his first step on the snap is to the inside as Smith gives a just enough of a fake pitch to suck him in. By the time he throws, Ginn is at the hash and moving forward; Engelmon is about to get blocked five yards downfield, and Harris is wrong-footed in the dead center of the field.|
|1||10||M42||Run||1||QB draw, and our DL on this play has Van Alstyne and Johnson on it... Johnson(+1) actually makes a nice play to stop the draw.|
|2||9||M41||Run||11||Jeremy Van Alstyne(-2) gets killed on this play, completely losing contain and ceding the outside as Danielson points out that he has a third tackle lined up at TE, which might be a tipoff if we paid attention to stuff like that.|
|1||10||M30||Run||1||Strange draw here from a standard I into an eight man front. I don't know where this is supposed to go, but it's all jammed up. Woods with the tackle.|
|2||9||M29||Pass||8||Smith flicks a checkdown to Pittman.|
|3||1||M21||Pass||11||Hall lets er, Hall, sit down in a hole in the zone for an easy first down, as he had to come off to respect a deep route run by Gonzalez. I don't think he can cover two guys.|
|1||G||M10||Run||6||There's Burgess(-1) getting blocked by a wide receiver again. Branch hops inside the tackle here, too.|
|2||G||M4||Run||4||QB draw. Again. Touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(Missed XP), 0-6, 9 min 1st Q. Some good play here from Smith but a lot of this is Ohio State studying the Michigan film and running an array of plays that exploit all the tendencies we've shown this year. The two plays to Ginn, in particular, are plays we're dead on presnap, and the Hall completion is another play like Iowa's opening touchdown where the opponent runs a combo route at the zone they know is coming. Smith has to read one player (in this case Hall) and throw it to where he doesn't go. Easy.|
|1||10||O28||Pass||6||Dumpoff over the middle to the tight end.|
|2||4||O34||Run||3||Engelmon(-1) is unblocked and has an opportunity to make this play at the line of scrimmage or for a loss, but gets stiff-armed to the turf. This is one of the little things that separates these defenses; I think Salley or whoever makes this open field tackle.|
|3||1||O37||Pass||7||Third and one from the shotgun. Michigan: soft zone. Smith hits an open Ginn three yards past the marker.|
|1||10||O44||Pass||8||WR screen to Gonzalez, again taking advantage of the fact that we don't cover the slot receiver, instead tasking a linebacker lined up several yards inside who has to make a read to get over there. Burgess(+1) makes a valiant effort and a nice tackle given the situation he finds himself in, but this is a best-case scenario if Ohio State executes this properly. They do, and that's something about Smith to appreciate: both of the screens so far require Smith to hit them exactly since they rely on the WR moving forward on the catch, unlike a lot of ours which have the WR stationary or moving laterally.|
|2||2||M48||Run||2||Burgess comes up to fill but gets knocked backward after a moment, opening up a bit of a hole for Pittman to get the first down.|
|1||10||M46||Pass||6||Holmes on a crossing route underneath the zone. Apparently the first read.|
|2||4||M40||Run||5||This is mostly Branch(-1) getting crushed by the tackle/TE, unfortunately. Not you, too. Massey also gets crushed by single blocking.|
|1||10||M35||Pass||Inc||Smith overthrows Pittman. Trent gives him a pop afterwards.|
|2||10||M35||Scramble||1||Play action with an option followed by a dropback. Good coverage as Smith decides to take off and we bottle him up pretty well. Woods and Massey track him down.|
|3||8||M34||Pass||4||Um, okay. Play action on third and nine then follow it up with a first-read to the TE in the flat. Englemon(+1) goes pow with a nice hit to make a sure wrap.|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal(47), 0-9, 13 min 2nd Q. The zone is effective here to end the drive.|
|1||10||O40||Run||-4||Watson(+3) drives into the backfield, strips the ball, and recovers it. A huge play that prevents this from getting away early made by one man and one man alone.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-9, 9 min 2nd Q. Good thing he hardly played against Notre Dame.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||14||More zone. Smith nails Gonzalez between four different guys in the zone. Excellent timing and throw, but you know, zone evil evil zone.|
|1||10||O34||Run||3||Stupid cut by Pittman into Watson and Woodley holds this play down to only a few yards.|
|2||7||O37||Scramble||9||Option play action that Branch gets out on well enough to force the scramble. Mason(-2) takes a terrible angle and comes up way too fast. Smith kust has to change direction a little and poof(!) gone.|
|1||10||O46||Run||1||Running right at Massey again, who crumples backwards under the force of two blockers, but there are two linebackers (Graham(+1) and Harris(+1)) who read the hole well and show up right when Pittman arrives.|
|2||9||O47||Pas s||Inc||Option play action again. Ginn is wide open 20 yards downfield and Smith nails him, but Ginn drops it. Heard footsteps from Barringer, who had him lined up for a killshot.|
|3||9||O47||Pass||23||So... angry... more standup Crable DT, and a double stunt but OSU has that scouted, so no pressure. Smith has a ton of time before the line gets to him eventually; he rolls out and finds Ginn open by five yards right along the sideline, just standing there.|
|1||10||M30||Scramble||4||Smith under center with Mangold temporarily out. He scrambles out after searching downfield for a beat or two; Woodley tracks him down.|
|2||6||M26||Run||14||A fake end around to Ginn draws the attention of Adams, who's tasked with spying on him this play, and Burgess, the OLB to the fake side. Watson(+1) penetrates and dives at Pittman's feet, disrupting the run, but he manages to cut between Massey and Branch to the outside after drawing Englemon(-1) up into the hole. The corner on that side (Trent) started six yards off the LOS and bailed out on the snap into a three deep zone, making him useless.|
|1||10||M12||Scramble||4||Danielson says that Holmes didn't get a Smith checkoff and I buy it; Smith scrambles in response.|
|2||6||M8||Run||0||Option pitch to Pittman; Burgess(+2) is the last player between him and the end zone and makes an impressive stick. The only plays we're getting are when someone makes a great play in the face of grim odds.|
|3||6||M8||Pass||Inc||Holy cow a blitz! Crable and Englemon both come clean and force an errant throw.|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal(25), 7-12, EOH. Should I bother about the efficacy of blitzing? No? Okay.|
|1||10||O25||Run||2||(Fumbled Ginn punt sets up the field position.) Pitch play is cut off well by Barringer(+1) and Harris(+1).|
|2||8||O27||Pass||4||Ginn underneath the zone. He's immediately smacked to the turf by Trent(+1).|
|3||4||O31||Pass||Sack, -11||This play is insane. Michigan rushes four with a delayed Crable blitz, but it's Woodley(+3) who splits two blockers to do the sack/strip thing and Branch(+1) who shoves Woodley's befuddled blockers out of the way and recovers the fumble.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-12, 12 min 3rd Q. Just an outstanding, outstanding individual play.|
|1||10||O20||Run||3||Branch(+1) fights a double team admirably while Engelmon takes the corner away. Pittman's forced to throw himself forward for a few.|
|2||7||O23||Pass||11||Option play action to one side against actual man coverage draws Harris a step towards the fake, which puts him two steps behind the TE Frost coming across the field on a crossing route against the grain. Strangely effective playcall... this one of the like three times all game we play man.|
|1||10||O34||Pass||Inc||Mason(+1) jumps the out route, forcing the incompletion.|
|2||10||O34||Run||2||Wow, impressive play by Crable(+2) at the standup DT spot. OSU sees it and calls a run right up the gut... good against the presumed stunt or just to go right at Crable, an OLB by trade. No stunt this time and Crable evades his blocker, then comes around to make a tackle right at the LOS.|
|3||8||O36||Pass||3||Three man line coupled with a delayed Crable(+1) blitz finds a gaping hole in the Buckeye OL as both Watson and Branch draw doubles. Smith is forced to dump off to Ginn and the zone reacts to force the punt. Key to this play is Crable's timing... he reached Smith as soon as he could, after letting the OL commit themselves.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-12, 8 min 3rd Q. Two good plays from Crable and a good call on third down from Herrmann.|
|1||10||O13||Run||1||Branch(+1) and Watson(+1) swallow Pittman as he attempts to plow offtackle. Uh... okay, you can run over there I guess.|
|2||9||O14||Pass||5||A screen that's set up well but Mason(+1) reads and reacts quickly to minimize the damage as much as possible.|
|3||4||O19||Pass||Inc||More miscommunication. Ginn runs a hook, Smith throws an out that Englemon(+1) nearly intercepts. Ginn immediately points to himself.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-12, 3 min 3rd Q. Even if Ginn had run the right route Michigan was all over the third down play.|
|1||10||O26||Run||5||Option pitch to Pittman; Hall's(-1) tackle is fairly arm-y and weak.|
|2||5||O31||Run||6||Clear evidence of Massey(-1) being a part of the opponent gameplan here. He's blown off the ball a couple yards by one blocker. The center doesn't even chip anyone and immediately plows into Harris. Watson(+1) drives his man as far back towards the hole as he can, valiantly attempting to plug the Massey gap, but fails. Burgess(-1) is also held by an end around fake, opening up a few more yards... Woodley had the end around covered.|
|1||10||O37||Run||4||Oof. Exactly the same play but Watson does crush the gap closed this time, forcing a Pittman cutback. Woodley has to respect the end around fake and this time Burgess is trying to guard the actual lane of attack, allowing Pittman an alley to run for a few yards before Woodley shuts him down.|
|2||6||O41||Run||5||A quarterback draw for Smith. Blocked well and Englemon is forced to hang back to take away the outside.|
|3||1||O46||Run||4||A better approach and tackle from Burgess(-1) punches OSU off the field here.|
|1||10||50||Pass||13||Option play action followed by a dumpoff to Pittman on a swing pass; the zone's been run off by the WRs to that side.|
|1||10||M37||Run||1||A wad of players in the middle. Branch(+1) removes all creases from the immediate area.|
|2||9||M36||Pass||Inc||Crable(+1) bats the pass down.|
|3||9||M36||Pass||7||Same play from earlier: option play action followed by the Pittman swing. Mason(+1) sticks Pittman short of the first down.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(46), 18-12, 12 min 4th Q. I wonder about Crable's future as this standup DT. He's made a number of plays from that position, even one against the run in this game, but the inevitable stunt is too predictable unless he can get pass rush from the interior sometimes.|
|1||10||O32||Pass||28||Again with the pooch punt, giving away critical yards... and followed up by Smith bulleting the ball downfield against the zone. The damn zone. No switchup whatsoever.|
|1||10||M40||Pass||Inc||Option play action; Woodley(+1) hits him, forcing an overthrow.|
|2||10||M40||Pass||Inc||The blitz again forces a quick, inaccurate Smith throw. Englemon(+1) is there to hit the WR as the ball gets there, completely removing the possibility of a great catch.|
|3||10||M40||Scramble||14||Ugh... a scramble from Smith that would end a few yards short of the first down with Woodley and Englemon converging on him, but Smith manages to juke past the charging Woodley and get the first down. Woodley's 270... can't change direction that fast.|
|1||10||M26||Pass||26||Touchdown. Tampa 2 with Burgess coming way back in the zone against Holmes but Smith wedges it in between him and Englemon... a great throw. Celebration penalty is tenuous.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-19, 6 min 4th Q. That was quick. Smith is throwing darts with superb timing.|
|1||10||O12||Pass||9||Fake counter draw, Smith rollout finds Holmes in front of Hall. Any proof you require about Woodley's health: he is not in.|
|2||1||O21||Run||2||Again with the fake end around, holding Woods just long enough for Pittman to move up a couple yards.|
|1||10||O23||Pass||Inc||Smith throws this one well over Gonzalez's head.|
|2||10||O23||Pass||11||Woods(+1) avoids the TE's chip block on this play action and should have Smith sacked, but he spins away and hits Ginn just past the first down marker.|
|1||10||O34||Pass||6||Ginn underneath Hall... decent enough play from Hall.|
|2||4||O40||Pass||7||I don't know what this defense is. All three linebackers fake a blitz and end up within a yard of the LOS. The five players dropping back in a zone can't possibly cover anyone tightly. The worst of all possible worlds: no pass rush coupled with five guys in a zone.|
|1||10||O47||Pass||10||Easy pitch and catch underneath the zone; the defender is no fewer than eight yards off the LOS.|
|1||10||M43||Run||5||Quarterback draw. Englemon(+1) makes a nice play. OSU is planning to run the clock out already from the 43.|
|2||5||M38||Pass||7||We blitz. Mason attempts to jump the route but does not get there. He barely manages to trip Holmes up.|
|1||10||M30||Pass||27||Smith looks like he's going to scramble but then changes direction when Harris comes up to plug him, lofting the ball down to Gonzalez, who catches it. And goddammit, yes, Gonzalez went out bounds of his own volition and this is an obvious illegal touching penalty. Would it matter? Probably not, but it's fitting that our year of disasters ends with a refereeing disaster following a coaching disaster in a game of injury disaster. Eff 2005.|
|Drive Notes: Whatever, you know what happened.|
I will stand back and watch you explode.
I'm not that mad, actually. The two dagger plays on the final drive--the Smith spin and the Gonzalez OOB play--were fantastic individual efforts from Smith and his downfield throws were frighteningly accurate all day. At some point you have to tip your cap to his performance and give his phone number to Drew Rosenhaus.
I'm not totally un-mad, though. Michigan's defense failed at the beginning and at the end for like the sixth time this year, which goes beyond coincidence. It was blindingly frustrating to see corners lined up eight, ten, even fifteen yards off the line of scrimmage. Danielson kept remarking about how Ohio State hadn't gone deep all day, and the reason was that Michigan's presnap alignment on every play was cowering in fear of the deep ball. Pat Massey's total failure to exist--obvious to everyone from mouthbreathing Internet trolls to handsome, combative bloggers to opposing coaches--never troubled them all year. What plays they got were more the result of Michigan's talent defying design than Herrmann dialing up a clever playcall (with some exceptions). A holistic view of the season does not yield the impression that Michigan is well coached.
What is the deal with the opening drive touchdowns?
We're amazingly predictable on those opening drives. We come out, zone up, and don't blitz. We respond to multiple WR looks with safeties or linebackers over slot receivers. We rotate our backup defensive linemen in. We prevent the big play. The result is that it's easy for teams to put in a special set of plays that get us off balance, exploit our tendencies, and march down the field. In short, the Michigan defense is reactive, not proactive, and until we have something to react to we allow things ("touchdowns") to happen to us.
At least... that's my best guess.
And then what's the deal with the late game failures?
More of the same predictability. It should be noted that even on the one blitz Michigan sent they were still in a zone, and then on the weird fake blitz they were in a zone behind that, too. There was an umbrella of three players attempting to prevent the deep ball on all plays--blitzing is not aggressive when backed up by a three-deep zone, it's just an invitation to Please Exploit Your Hot Route. Michigan seems convinced that with a narrow lead that asking the opponent to do a long series of relatively easy things is better than forcing them to do a shorter series of harder things. This, as you've heard before, is dumb.
Why does Michigan treat man coverage like it's the plague?
I don't know. Are there other teams that play like this, running zone on what must be about 90% of defensive snaps? Why would you do this? It seems completely insane to give up on half of the coverages in football, especially when you have defensive backs who can run. Having the quarterback misread your defense is a sure way to turnovers, incompletions, and punts, but how many times did you see Troy Smith throw into coverage? How many times did you see Drew Tate throw into coverage? If the men who are not rushing the passer do not cover anyone, can they even be said to be "coverage"?
Look, I am not a football expert, but dammit I've played all sorts of games my entire life, and revealing your intentions to your opponents is always the worst thing you can do. Sun-Tzu:
"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near."
To say that this train of thought does not seem to be foremost in Lloyd Carr's mind is to be charitable.
Okay, you'd like to rochambeau the coaches. What about the players?
|Woodley||4||-||4||Mostly quiet; often replaced by Woods because of the arm. Still had that critical strip.|
|Woods||1||-||1||Taken out of play, mostly.|
|Van Alstyne||-||2||-2||Either injured or a bust.|
|Watson||6||1||5||Never got the credit he deserves, benching earlier this year is questionable at best.|
|Jamison||-||-||-||Scattered snaps; didn't do anything with them.|
|Branch||7||1||6||Great game, but no pass rush.|
|Burgess||3||4||-1||Okay, I guesss.|
|Thompson||-||-||-||Did not appear to play much.|
|Crable||4||-||4||Effective rushing the passer.|
|Trent||2||-||2||Should be very good as a starter.|
That seems too kind to the defensive line since they didn't sack Smith more than once and didn't get much pressure, but recall that +7 of that comes from the two turnovers that kept Michigan in the game. The linebackers (aside from Crable, who is less a linebacker and more a randomly-placed pass rusher) did little; there were no plays made in coverage by anyone aside from Mason, who forced one incompletion by jumping a route. All in all, most players were put in a position to watch Ohio State do something and then minimize it; this they did.
Say something nice about the coaches.
Crable's deployment is an example of outside-the-box thinking that got a strange player on the field and playing effectively. Early in the season he was looking like a total bust; now he has a role on the defense and a future to be at least somewhat excited about. Ron English's work in the secondary was exemplary this year and Steve Stripling maximized the output of Alan Branch; he was prepared to play both DT and DE.
What does it mean for next year?
I don't know. Watson is the only player who we'll miss, but if Michigan doesn't take advantage of an experienced secondary with two fast corners by playing a more aggressive brand of defense it won't matter. Other than the outside linebackers, everyone on the team executed what they were supposed to do.
The caveat: their tasks were designed to minimize their shortcomings instead of take advantage of their talents. It's obvious that the Michigan coaches did not trust their team to play both aggressively and responsibly, so they went with the responsible, cut off the big plays, and superficially improved the defense by slowing the game down. The truth is somewhat murkier (and something I hope to explore in the offseason).
The good news is that Michigan does seem to swing towards more aggressive play when they have veterans at their disposal, something which will be true of both the offense and defense next year.
A day (even more) late, because when I had finished the spreadsheet and closed it I must have hit "no" when it asked me to save the thing... when I opened it up I was faced with the first three drives of the game and no more; thus I relived the horror a third time. Yea, I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, twice. (Yes, it has gotten rather biblical around these parts of late... strange.)
|1||10||M20||Penalty||-5||Illegal formation. This is on either Massaquoi or Will Paul, as both were standing well off the line right next to each other. Hart is clearly not right already. He looks like he did against Iowa, all tentative cuts. On the next play they come out in exactly the same formation except the TE is on the line... and it's Tyler Ecker. This is on Mass.|
|1||15||M15||Pass||Breaston||5||Long handoff to Breaston(CA).|
|2||10||M20||Pass||Avant||4||Henne takes a quick throw in a flat to Avant as the Buckeyes blitz. The bucks read the hot read and converge quickly. (CA)|
|3||5||M24||Pass||Manningham||13||A wobbly, ill thrown route that does make it to Manningham. Danielson points out a solid blitz pickup from Hart. (CA)|
|1||10||M37||Pass||Hart||15||We go against tendencies here; this looks for all the world to be a waggle, but we throw a screen back across the field after Henne starts his roll. It's wide open. Great call from Malone. (CA).|
|1||10||O48||Pass||Bass||-4||Ohio State is ready ready ready for our WR screens. This play features Bass lined up as a tailback with three receivers to the wide side of the field and Henne in the shotgun. Bass runs a flare route, but drops the ball... and it's lateral. Wouldn't have mattered much anyway, as Ohio State has a linebacker coming up hard and Mass whiffs his block on the OSU DB. OSU lined up in a man press and as soon as they saw Henne motion towards Bass they attacked. Our OMG super clever trickeration versus Indiana does not appear to have had a lasting effect. (CA)|
|2||14||M48||Run||Hart||3||Draw from an offset I. Henige can't kick out his man.|
|3||11||O49||Pass||Massaquoi||12||Massaquoi reaches the very edge of the field on a crossing route underneath the coverage; Henne hits him in stride so he can turn it up and get the first down. (DO)|
|1||10||O37||Scramble||Henne||0||Play action that is supposed to go deep; Massaquoi gets beat by a blitzing defensive back and Henne's forced to scramble away. He made a nice move to dodge the blitzer to buy time but didn't have anything and tried to run. (TA... marginal)|
|2||10||O37||Run||Manningham||1||End around with Bass as a decoy. Camera anle is too tight to really see whats' going on downfield, but it looks like there's an extra guy that ends up in the box, forcing Manningham to try to cut it outside.|
|3||9||O36||Pass||Avant||8||Fired in to Avant and Schlegel makes a great tackle to prevent the first down. (CA)|
|4||1||O28||Pass||Avant||Inc||The slant is there. Henne throws a bullet that's too high to be caught... no reason to fire this so hard. Just get it complete. Later, on replay, Danielson highlights the coverage from Youboty, which is uncalled holding. Beaten by Avant's outside feint, Youboty is forced to grab him outside the shoulder and give a heavy yank that throws the route off just enough for the incompletion. The ref looking at it is shielded by Avant's body, though--really hard for him to make that call. As it was, this is a great play by Youboty to skirt the edge of a call when he knows he's beaten and force the turnover on downs, but it's still holding. (CA minus the penalty)|
|Drive Notes: Downs, 0-7, 3 min 1st Q. Michigan comes back with a creative drive of their own that doesn't quite work out.|
|1||10||M20||Pass||Bass||8||Bass comes out of the backfield on a 3-4 yard out and has enough room to run up for a nice gain. (CA)|
|2||2||M28||Run||Hart||1||Looks like Grady here, running up his offensive lineman's back when there seemed to be space to either side. Sympotmatic of the ankle and his hesistancy to cut?|
|3||1||M29||Run||Hart||1||Ugly... neither guard gets anything resembling a block, but Hart manages to squeak out the first down by fall ing forward.|
|1||10||M30||Run||Hart||2||A draw. Bihl impacts Schlegel but doesn't engage and he slips off into the hole. Hart tries to cut outside but is tracked down... again I wonder about the ankle. One of our better runs all day: sad.|
|2||8||M32||Penalty||-10||Holding on Henige, as he just gets owned by the DT.|
|2||18||M22||Run||Hart||2||A totally stupid call. Michigan is lined up in a three wide and tries to run into what turns into a six man front at the last moment. No one gets close to blocking Schlegel, who makes the tackle after the other LB forces Hart to make a cut. This is a give-up-and-punt play.|
|3||16||M24||Pass||Hart||-4||Completing the give-up with a screen that AJ Hawk annihilates. Sad when our third and sixteen screen is predictable. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-9, 9 min 2nd Q. We pitch the possession after the holding call. Given the Ole(!) job our guards are giving their DTs at the moment I can understand it, but couldn't we have gone with something that would have given us a makeable third down?|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Manningham||Inc||Bomb towards the corner. Bass and Manningham end up running in the same space; Manningham trips just towards the end of it as Salley clips one of his feet in coverage (incidental contact). Ball hits right at the corner of the endzone on the goalline: almost perfectly thrown. If Manningham doesn't take a tumble he has a very good shot at hauling this in. (CA)|
|2||10||O36||Pass||Manningham||5||Henne comes off his initial read (could be a feint, since he did it verrry quickly) and finds Manningham sitting down in front of the zone (CA)|
|3||5||O31||Pass||Breaston||6||Lasered in between two defenders in a zone. (DO)|
|1||10||O25||Run||Hart||1||A graphic about the Snow Bowl occupies this space instead of the actual play. Thanks, ABC!|
|2||9||O24||Pass||Breaston||5||Credit to the OL this time, as they pick up a blitz very nicely, giving Henne all kinds of time. He eventually finds Breaston on the sideline... unfortunately he's just a foot to far to the outside and steps out after the reception, else he runs for a first down. (CA)|
|3||4||O19||Pass||Breaston||5||Breaston runs a little flat route behind an Avant slant that forces Everett to loop around Avant and his defender, opening up space for the first down. Excellent call. (CA)|
|1||10||O14||Pass||Manningham||8||Long handoff. Manningham beats Youboty and heads down the sideline. (CA)|
|2||2||O6||Run||Hart||1||Again an Al Montoya impression from the OL; this time it's both tackles who whiff. Steno misses a cut block and Long lets his man get around him instead of sealing him to the outside.|
|3||1||O5||Pass||Avant||3 (Penalty)||Grabby Mr. Youboty gets nailed for it this time for grabbing Avant's arm. (CA)|
|1||G||O2||Pass||Avant||2||Fade; touchdown; can't do it better. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-9, 5 min 2nd Q. A ten play, 36 yard drive... impressive or totally unsustainable going the length of the field against the Buckeye D? Er, the latter, as the rest of this game demonstrate. Still much competence displayed in portions here, especially by Henne, who looks like the guy we were all drooling over preseason.|
|1||10||M16||Pass||Manningham||Inc||WR screen that was going to go for a large number of yards, but Manningham drops it. OSU's DBs immediately move up and attack when Massaquoi goes in motion--they're prepared--but since no one comes out with Massaquoi (zone) they're helpless to stop it. (CA)|
|2||10||M16||Run||Hart||0||End of Hart's day, as we run right into the heart of a blitz.|
|3||10||M16||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Henne can't find anyone and is forced to throw it away. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-12, 14 min 3rd Q. Stunningly inept in the rushing game, but that WR screen was definitely open.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Massaquoi||13||Mass is ooonbelievably wide open as the Buckeye DBs bail out on the post; Henne checks down smartly to Mass underneat the coverage (CA... but a money read.)|
|1||G||O7||Scramble||Henne||1||Henige reacts late to a delayed Hawk blitz, forcing Henne to scramble up in the pocket. (not charted... not enough time)|
|2||G||O6||Run||Grady||1||Neither TE gets a block here. Ecker watches his man make the tackle; Mass's guy gets enough penetration to knock into Henige and prevent him from pulling around to lead block; it's blown up.|
|3||G||O5||Penalty||-5||Delay of game.|
|3||G||O10||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Danielson goes all slobbery about Hawk here but he totally whiffed his jam at the line and was in bailout mode, facing away from the quarterback, futilely hoping his hands hit the ball on its way in. All Henne has to do here is lay it up into Ecker's hands, but he overshoots him by a good couple yards. One of his few poor throws. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal(27), 10-12, 10 min 3rd Q. A bunch of crappy blocking sets up a third and goal from the ten. Henne can't convert.|
|1||10||M19||Pass||Grady||5||Screen. Massaquoi is knocked back a couple yards blocking Salley, which forces Grady into a couple of bad decisions as to which way to cut when he reaches him. (CA)|
|2||5||M24||Pass||Ecker||7||Play action; Henne hits Ecker in stride on a crossing route in front of the zone. (CA)|
|1||10||M31||Run||Bass||1||No one on the interior of the line can seal off their man on the pitch. An OSU linebacker smartly forces Bass back inside where the pursuit converges.|
|2||9||M32||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant runs a deep corner route; Henne's throw is a little bit too far to the inside, allowing Salley to come up and make a play on the ball. A nice play from Salley but Henne gave him the opportunity to make it (as is usually the case on routes like that... can't stop a perfectly thrown ball). (CA... marginal, close to IN.)|
|3||9||M32||Pass||No one||Sack, -6||Long gets straight beaten by Patterson.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-12, 5 min 3rd Q. The overriding themes here are the offensive line getting crushed on every run play and a fair share of passing downs. Henne's tremendous efficiency comes on a lot of short routes and we continue putting ourselves in third down time and again. Look above: no plays longer than 13 or so yards, and the Buckeye defense eventually comes up with a play on one of our third downs unless we get a short field.|
|1||10||O37||Pass||Breaston||10||We go against tendencies again... this is the same slip screen setup with the motioning TE we've seen all year; Henne fakes said slip screen then pivots to the other side of the field to throw a jailbreak screen to Breaston, which he takes advantage of, eluding linebackers for the first down. (CA)|
|2||In||O27||Run||Grady||2||Again little support up front.|
|1||10||O25||Pass||Breaston||11||Henne comes off the slant and fires a bullet with great timing to Breston in the face of an oncoming DE. (DO)|
|1||10||O14||Pass||Avant||12 (pen)||Interference on Everett on an Avant post. They're looking for the arm-raking thing and Everett does get his hands in before the ball arrives, but I'd probably be livid about this if I was a Buckeye. Also I would be retarded. The throw here is perfect. (DO)|
|1||G||O2||Run||Grady||2||Touchdown on the lineup, set, and snap immediately play they do with regularity.|
|1||G||O3||Scramble||Henne||3||Finding no one open, Henne scrambles in.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), 18-12, 1 min 3rd Q. Two point call is the wrong one. Not making it means that if OSU scores, we're behind three and our field goal only ties the game instead of puts us in the lead. The chances of 5 versus 6 being useful are small and not worth the risk of not getting it to 5.|
|1||10||M29||?||No tape on this one for some reason.|
|2||9||M30||Pass||Paul||Inc||Henne is hit as he throws and drives it into the ground as result. Lentz is injured during the play, causing the pressure. Good coverage. (Er... BA)|
|3||9||M30||Run||Bradley||9||Yeah, OSU is just as confused about this as everyone else is... Alijiah Freakin' Bradley, all 5'6 of him, rips off Michigan's best run of the day on a counter draw, which sets up...|
|4||In||M39||Henne||1||A QB sneak on fourth an inches that Henne stunningly demanded, getting in Carr's face.|
|1||10||M40||Pass||Breaston||Inc||We're in our four-wide slipscreen formation and the Buckeye DB crashes it right at the snap without even checking to see what the play is. Manningham manages to shut him off but for the second time in the game our screen-receving WR is spooked by the unexpected pressure and drops the ball. This, by the way, is definitely a lateral and should have been a five yard loss. (CA)|
|2||10||M40||Run||Grady||3||We fake the slip screen and hand it off to Grady up the middle... would have been better to reverse these playcalls.|
|3||7||M43||Penalty||10||Holding on Schlegel attempting to keep Ecker from breaking open. No replay is provided.|
|1||10||O47||Pass||Manningham||38||A ton of time. This one is thrown behind Manningham but the corner is too busy attempting to recover and does not locate the ball to make a play on it; Manningham makes the catch. (CA)|
|1||G||O9||Run||Grady||3||Eh. The DE doesn't get blocked at all, forcing Grady to cut it back.|
|2||G||O6||Pass||Breaston(?)||Inc||Riley lets a blitzer through, forcing a Henne roll and throwaway. (TA)|
|3||G||O6||Run||Henne||3||QB draw... I don't think Henne waits long enough here, because Avant doesn't get over to block the eventual tackler.|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal(19), 21-12, 8 min 4th Q. Oh, how I thought we were going to win after this... the fourth down conversion, the bomb (finally)...|
|1||10||M48||Pass||Massey||Inc||Possibly the dumbest decision in kickoff history... Huston's been putting them between the freakin' uprights and they decide to pooch it. After a Will Paul fumble (enjoy DE again!) and a Breaston recovery, M sets up at midfield. ... Anyway. Play action rollout and Henne hits Massey in the hands; he drops it. Excellent call that would have had a first down. (CA)|
|2||10||M48||Pass||Breaston||11||Breaston is hit on a shallow crossing route... he then cuts back across the grain and gets a great block from Avant to scoot past the first down marker. (CA)|
|1||10||O41||Run||Grady||0||Toss play to Grady... Massey doesn't even bother to block the cornerback, who comes up and makes a tackle. Freshman screwup... given that we know Massey is a crappy blocker at this point and Mass is unavailable this doesn't seem like a good idea to start with... add in the whole OSU defense thing and it's doubly bad.|
|2||10||O41||Pass||No one||Inc||Henige is beaten again and holds again; Henne is forced to throw it away in the face of the pass rush. (TA) Penalty is declined.|
|3||10||O41||Pass||Breaston||6||The same fake-slip actual-jailbreak screen as before... this one gets six. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: ... Punt.... 21-19, 5 min 4th Q. Punt = disaster. Our guard play puts the first nail in our coffin.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Avant||23||A brief glimmer... (DO)|
|2||10||O43||Pass||Ecker||a number||Sigh. (BR)|
Where was that guy wearing #7 all year?
Er... maybe some more, you know... analysis and stuff?
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
In a word, magnificent. The four TAs and one BA were all due to pressure yielded right up the middle by the guards; none of these were instances of Henne sitting in the pocket way too long. OSU covered his first read and got to him before he could find a second or third receiver. Removing that you have two instances of bad play: the Ecker overthrow in the endzone and the throw to Ecker at the end of the game (not enough time to check down, there, just risk the INT). If you want to be harsh you can add the Avant corner route that was too far inside and thus batted down by Salley and the fourth and one slant that was fired past an interfered-with Avant, but those throws were at least okay. This was Henne's best performance of his career... to be that effective against that defense and with that revolving door of grimly futile interior blockers is incredible.
If the guy who showed up against OSU had played all year, Michigan beats both UW and Minnesota with ease and probably beats Notre Dame, Jason Avant is a Belitnikoff finalist, and Joey isn't planning on hanging himself.
Well, then, why couldn't we score?
Our chronic weakness at guard (and center without Adam Kraus) blew up something fierce. I don't want to be too harsh on Henige--his football career is over and he'll be walking with a limp the rest of his life after playing on the functional equivalent of Mr. Garrison's testicles the last three years--but he just couldn't block anyone. Lentz was little better, and Bihl didn't do much. Ohio State got interior pass rush with infuriating frequency and there was hardly a running play that didn't end up with six Buckeyes gang tackling the running back at the LOS. Things only got worse when Lentz was dinged and Massaquoi went out.
The complete inability to rely on the line turned the running game into a keep-em-honest sideshow and thwarted Michigan's efforts to go deep--Henne could not sit in the pocket and let the throws develop--forcing us into long, grinding marches based entirely on the short passing game. Ohio State's D is too good to let you score on fifteen-play, 80 yard drives, so our scoring was limited to instances when we were given short fields.
And thus, the playcalling...
I thought it was great given the limitations provided. Michigan acknowledged the impossibility of running early, coming out with a clever, tendency-defying ope ning drive heavily featuring the passing game that ended on fourth and one after an uncalled penalty. Throughout the game Michigan tried to get its playmakers involved on the perimeter, avoided plays that were likely zeroes, and generally operated as efficiently as possible given the offensive line's complete absence.
I do question the weird trick play outburst against IU. I would rather have wasted plays trying wacky stuff like the diamond transcontinental against the Buckeyes than running futilely into the line. It didn't slow OSU down one bit and given the situation outlined above where Michigan's chances of getting a big play became vanishingly small because of the offensive line's sieve impression, a high-risk, high-reward trick play or four could have helped immensely. We didn't pull out so much as a reverse.
But what about that last (real) drive?
I hate that Grady pitch on first and ten, especially with freshman Mike Massey in the game. Massey ignored the charging corner, who hit Grady immediately. Look at the chart above... see any effective runs other than the "who's the Smurf?" counter draw? We essentially blew a down in that situation and asked our freshman tailback and freshman tight end to make a play instead of trying to get red-hot Henne to hook up with Breaston (on fire Breaston) and Avant. Henige's failed block on second down (and a holding call declined by Tressell) left Michigan in third and ten, at which point they run a screen that appeared to be setting up a makeable fourth down in my mind. I mean, if you're going to punt you have to run a play that has a good chance of getting the first down, even if it leaves you in fourth and ten.
Then... punt. We've been over this before. A disaster that only served to rob Michigan of the time it needed to respond after the OSU touchdown drive. After all that, after going for it on your own 40, after watching any team that really needed a late game score get it all year... I just don't understand.
Well, I guess I do. The story of Carr (and the story of Michigan) this year was an attempt that fell short. Carr did adapt his strategy to deal with the altered reality of college football, but when the pressure ratcheted up to its migrane-inducing peak he reverted to his basest instincts--a totally human, understandable reaction--and thus Punt, Lloyd, Punt. It bit him every time, but old habits die hard... very hard.
What does it mean for next year?
We need to rebuild the offensive line entirely. We need Hart back and healthy. We should have plenty of options in the passing game...
But you and I know that it comes down to #7. Against OSU we saw the reason we were so damn excited about him in the first place, the reason we nearly upset Texas in the Rose Bowl; the reason all that preseason top 5 stuff happened. Is it a mirage, or was this season a bad dream? We won't know until the Notre Dame game next year, if then. To borrow from horrible action movies everywhere:
Nervous woman prone to screaming and passing out: What... what do we do?
Grizzled man probably chomping a cigar: We... pray. We... pray.
(In the interests of focusing more on Ohio State only the first half of the game was charted, since the starters made their exit at half time. Copious thanks to Vijay at IBFC for providing a video as I again forgot to tape the game. Bad Brian, very bad Brian.)
|1||10||O34||Scramble||Henne||2||Henne rolls out and keeps rolling. (TA)|
|2||8||O32||Pass||Bass||7||Bass motions out of the backfield, making this a 4 WR set and catches a simple stop route. (CA)|
|3||1||O25||Pass||Avant||10||Slant to Avant. Ward claims that Henne is going up top on the slant. Perfectly thrown. (DO)|
|1||10||O15||Run||Grady||3||Henige can't move the IU DL out and Grady eventually runs into him. He didn't have anywhere else to go.|
|2||7||O12||Pass||Grady||7||Batted at the line but Grady catches it an picks up a first down. (BA)|
|1||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||Probably a touchdown if Porter doesn't grab Avant's arm, forcing him to attempt a one-handed stab at the pass. (CA)|
|2||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||Fade is overthrown. (IN)|
|3||G||O5||Pass||Ecker||5||Touchdown lasered into Ecker just out of the DB's reach. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 9 min 1st Q. After the Grady deflection the color guy, who is almost as incompetent as Ward, starts waxing eloquent about how Henne has an inordinate number of balls tipped at the line. More on this below. It's crap. Also: I didn't think much of this drive to start but there are a few really excellent throws in here.|
|1||10||O48||Run||Jackson||1||Zilch.Linebacker is unblocked into the hole as the pulling Henige doesn't do anything useful.|
|2||9||O47||Pass||Breaston||23||Slip screen to Breaston off a quick count. The IU DB actually does a really good job of getting outside the other slot receiver and into Breaston's way, but a half second after Breaston gets his head around he just changes direction and goes zip upfield. (CA) BTW: Ward gets this spot wrong by 10 yards.|
|1||10||O24||Run||Jackson||3||Well blocked. Jackson doesn't make all he can of this. Hart does better here.|
|2||7||O21||Run||Jackson||5||Fake end around that the DE does no bite on, getting inside of long and closing down on Jackson.|
|3||2||O16||Run||Bass||8||Bass motions into the backfield and takes a pitch. He is freaking fast.|
|1||G||O8||Pass||Avant||8||I'd be doing my Yosemite Sam soft coverage act if this had happened to us. A long handoff from the eight yard line as the DB is playing way too far off Avant. Good recognition of an unlikely situation by Henne. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 6 min 1st Q.|
|1||10||M39||Pass||Breaston||12||This is a five wide shotgun look. Breaston runs a slant that he then cuts outside to an out... this route has a name, help me out here. Anyway, it's open and Henne lays it in there so Breaston can run after the catch. (DO)|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Massaquoi||6||Play action; Henne checks down to the short option. Throw is slightly behind Massaquoi. (CA)|
|2||4||O43||Run||Grady||0||Thoroughly depressing, as this run play is totally jammed at the line.|
|3||4||O43||Pass||Manningham||14||Manningham's open on a crossing route into an area that Ecker's route has vacated. Henne is again very accurate here. (DO)|
|1||10||O29||Run||Grady||2||Draw. Henige's man disengages and disrupts the play.|
|2||8||O27||Pass||Manningham||Inc||Caught in the endzone but it's out of bounds. Better footwork is a touchdown. (CA)|
|3||8||O27||Pass||No one||Sack, -8||Same guy who made the play on the first down draw beats Henige and rolls around the defensive end, who's getting doubled to make the sack. (marginally TA, as Henne could have gotten rid of the ball if someone was open immediately, but I'm not charting this one.)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(52), 14-7 1 min 1st Q.|
|1||10||O26||Pass||Manningham||3||WR screen is surprisingly well defended. (CA)|
|2||7||O23||Run||Grady||5||Grady's forced to cut back outside of the tackle. He makes two after contacting the tackler.|
|3||2||O18||Run||Bass||7||Dude Bass is fast. This is a fake end around from the receiver in motion paired with an outside pitch to Bass.|
|1||10||O11||Run||Grady||9||Pitch out to Grady; he makes an excellent swift cut behind an overpursuing linebacker.|
|2||1||O3||Run||Grady||3||Ends up about a foot from the goal line.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(Missed XP), 20-7, 12 min 2nd Q.|
|1||10||O16||Run||Grady||7||Another pitch that Grady gets the corner on.|
|2||3||O9||Run||Grady||2||Third pitch in the last five plays.|
|3||1||O7||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||There's a DE on Henne instantly on the waggle and he is forced to toss it immediately. (TA)|
|4||1||O7||Run||Bass||-1||Same end-around pitch play that we ran on the last drive. Bass actually stiff arms the safety coming up to make a play but can't keep his balance afterward and steps out just before lunging over the first down marker.|
|Drive Notes: Downs, 20-7, 8 min 2nd Q.|
|1||10||O40||Pass||Henne||Inc||Transcontinental is going to be a touchdown if Breaston can just get it there. That's why he's a wideout. (Not charted.)|
|2||10||O40||Pass||Grady||8||Scren. I think the reason ours work so well generally is because we've gone away from the screen where all four defensive linemen are released into the backfield that defensive linemen no longer buy. Ours are partial screens where in only a couple blockers are released and are thus not as obvious from the snap. (CA)|
|3||2||O32||Run||Grady||32||Touchdown wherein Grady is seemingly going to get stuffed at the LOS but powers through a tackle and rumbles, stumbles, etc, into the end zone. He showed POWER, as EA NCAA Football Kirk Herbstreit might say.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-7, 6 min 2nd Q. Does this count as a three and out?|
|1||10||M30||Run||Jackson||3||Well blocked by the line but Avant misses the safety and Ecker can't seal the linebacker as they converge.|
|2||7||M33||Pass||Avant||22||Heartening to see Henne nail Avant on this play, as it's the deep crossing route he's missed so often this year. This time he steps up and hits Avant perfectly. (DO)|
|1||10||O45||Run||Breaston||30||Reverse. Henne gets a hell of a block. I still think this stuff would work against OSU. Why run it now?|
|1||10||O15||Pass||Avant||Inc||Either a ridiculously overthrown pass or a miscommunication. I think it's the former, actually. (IN)|
|2||10||O15||Pass||Avant||9||Slant is somewhat behind Avant, but he makes an excellent catch. (CA)|
|3||1||O6||Run||Jackson||6||Touchdown. Jackson pushes forward to about the one and then lunges forward with the ball to finish for a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 34-7, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|1||10||M31||Pass||Avant||18||A ton of time. Henne finds Avant on the deep crossing route again. (DO)|
|1||10||M49||Run||Grady||18||The quick-hitter we run with Grady slightly offset finally works as Michigan opens up a gashing hole and the linebackers don't react quickly enough to it.|
|1||10||O33||Pass||Grady||0||Screen that doesn't work as Stenavich never releases his guy, instead driving him into the play.|
|2||10||O33||Pass||Manningham||14||Wide open underneath the zone. Manningham dodges out of bounds swiftly. (CA)|
|1||10||O19||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Henne wings it over the head of an open Massaquoi. (IN)|
|2||10||O19||Run||Jackson||4||A similar play to Grady's 18 yarder earlier in the drive.|
|3||6||O15||Penalty||Manningham||5||Henne finds Manningham and the IU player hits him early. Manningham has to run this past the sticks, though: he was a yard short of the first down. (CA)|
|1||10||O11||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Henne manages to find a tiny window between two IU defenders low. It's a tough catch for Mass but a makeable one and a good throw. (CA)|
|2||10||O11||Pass||Breaston||11||Touchdown on a corner route that Henne lays right in Breaston's hands. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 41-7, EOH.|
It's just Indiana.
Yeah, but still...
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
The screen count in this game is only 3, so our downfield good:bad ratio is 15:6, obviously a massive improvement over Henne's typical 1:1 this year. IU's defense had something to do with that--it's hard to make a bad read when no one is covered--but his accuracy was dramatically increased this week, defenders in the area or no. No, he wasn't being regularly pressured and the IU defenders were generally accomodating. We've heard that story before and it ends with Henne winging the ball well over the head of his intended target and severely fouling up the offense against, say, Wisconsin. This was different.
We need him to replicate this performance against OSU. That doesn't necessarily mean putting up the same numbers--OSU will do a better job of getting to Henne and covering our receivers. It does mean taking advantage of the opportunities the Buckeyes yield. He'll still make his share of poor-to-aaaargh decision against Ohio State, but if he can be efficient when he does find an open guy, it's hooray beer time.
You said you would yell about batted passes.
Henne does not have an abnormal number of passes batted at the line, as the chart above shows. Keep in mind that there are probably four or five incidents of passes being deflected downfield by defenders (and Tim Massaquoi once) lumped in there. He's really averaging slightly over one a game, and many of those were screens on which the tackle failed to get a cut on the offensive lineman.
The batted passes were an obvious issue in one game against Notre Dame and all of a suddent he's John Navarre in this department to many. It's just not true.
What was the deal with all the fancy shmancy trickeration?
I touched on this earlier in the week with a TIC assertion that Michigan was setting up Ohio State for the trick play by running their trick plays, but, er, in reality I'm not a fan of the decision to dump out the exotics against the Hoosiers. That pitch play they ran to Bass is money if the opponent doesn't have it scouted; now Ohio State does. Ditto for the fairly obvious transcontinental. It seems that they're trying to get Ohio State to respect the misdirection and thus open up their more conventional running game. Either that or they're just practicing it. Personally I would prefer to teach Ohio State to respect the misdirection by using it to score a first-quarter touchdown.
In any case, this week's profusion of exotics coupled with the frequent fake end-arounds Michigan was running against Northwestern imply that Malone does indeed have something unusual in mind for Ohio State. It seems like Michigan has acknowledged the fact that a plow-ahead running game is just not going to work on Saturday and will thus get the low variance portion of their yards via less manly means. This helps explain the transcontinental: the WR screen is going to be a staple and Michigan would like it to work the first couple times they use it, so keeping a Buckeye linebacker or two in the middle for an extra split second is desirable.
The offensive line?
Still shaky. Adam Stenavich has been invisible all year, which is perfect for a left tackle. He's shut down every pass rusher he's faced. But the guards were beaten regularly against Indiana of all teams. This happens on a regular basis, and I think the coaches are aware of this. Rueben Riley started rotating in very early in this game, seeing time at both left and right guard. I think Michigan will start the seniors but it's very possible that Riley--not much of a tackle but an effective guard last year--usurps one of the starting positions by the second quarter if the Buckeye DTs are regularly beating one of the starters. Kraus and Long still have health questions, so that's four starters with question marks above their heads. I don't think that's so good against Ohio State.
What does it mean for Ohio State?
If Henne can be as accurate as he was against Indiana we have a very good chance. He's not going to get off as lightly as he did against the Hoosiers, though. The happy feet he displayed against Notre Dame cannot return even though the pressure he will feel will likely be comparable. I've lost all faith in the guards. They're going to get beaten.
To run we need Mike Hart back. No offense to Jackson or Grady, but Mike Hart is on another level, to use a horrible-but-true sports cliche. He can be effective if we establish that Henne is going to be a downfield threat. If the Buckeyes are allowed to focus on him he'll be making his magic happen five yards in the backfield.
Expect misdirection. They've been setting it up for the past three weeks and are integrating it into the gameplan on a regular basis. They know they can't expect to line up and blow the Buckeyes off the ball. Expect a large number of simple throws for Henne that allow Breaston, Manningham, and Bass to run at defensive backs in space. It's going to be a WR screen festival. I'm okay with that: given our strong-armed quarterback, excellent edge blockers in Avant and Ecker, lighting bug receivers and the shallow Buckeye secondary, it's likely to be far more effective than running it into the teeth of a top-five run defense.
We're going to finesse this game, and it's the right decision.