go go go
upon further review
(People asked for a comparison point for Henne's performance last week, so I decided to chart Tate... probably not the best comparison point, as you'll see, but a point of data for both the QB comparison and the defense.)
|1||10||O15||Pass||10||Tate rolls out; Woods(+1) does a great job of getting out on him on the boot but he manages to find an open receiver downfield at the last second. (DO)|
|1||10||O25||Run||1||Off tackle at Burgess(+1), who keeps contain. He and Harris(+1) close off the hole.|
|2||9||O26||Run||6||Massey(-1) gets blown back off the snap; Burgess holds back and makes the tackle downfield.|
|3||3||O32||Pass||25||Michigan stunts Crable(+1) around and gets immediate pressure, but Burgess(-2) ends up two steps behind Chandler, who catches and runs downfield. (DO)|
|1||10||M43||Run||8||Young cuts it back as Watson(+1) clogs the intended POA. This is a prime example of Graham(-2) overrunning a play and being completely unprepared for a cutback. Woods misses a tackle but I think he did well just to slow him up a bit... to no avail because there's no LB.|
|2||2||M35||Run||13||Lloyd specifically called this out as an instance of someone turning the running back outside... someone is Graham(-1). Engelmon(-1) also misses a tackle.|
|1||10||M22||Run||4||I'm not going to give him a minus on this one but Graham gets blocked in the hole, closes it off well, but doesn't shed at all.|
|2||6||M18||Scramble||4||Good coverage down field on this waggle; Tate decides to get what he can after being chased by Van Alstyne; Burgess comes up and cuts of his path as he goes OOB.|
|3||2||M14||Pass||15||I don't think this is really Burgess's fault. He's in a short zone on this ridiculous coverage. We're on the 14 yard line on third and two, playing a three-deep zone. Grigsby just runs a little out after the DB gets run off; Brandt makes a good point that Burgess had to deal with Young coming out of the backfield. He can't cover two guys. This is a (-2) for Herrmann; we were screwed at the snap. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q. Not a fun drive. I'm getting progressively more frustrated with the ridiculous, obvious zone we end up in too frequently. On the touchdown Burgess was over the slot receiver like we've seen so many times before. The combo route with the outside guy driving off the cornerback and the slot going ot the corner was easy as pie. Also: straws are piling up on the Graham camel.|
|1||10||M15||Run||12||Thompson is already in the game at this point. Er... unfortunately he misses a tackle(-1) and Harris(-1) blitzes and overruns the play; once past the two linebackers Young has a lot of room. Still, Thompson made the correct read and put himself in position to make a play on the ball.|
|1||10||M27||Run||17||The same play from the first drive that gained a ton of yards when the WLB turned it outside. The exact same thing happens on this play. This time it's Thompson(-1).|
|1||10||M44||Pass||Inc||Tate tries to go downfield but Woods(+1) is on him before he can let the play develop. Tate throws it but this is more of a throwaway. (TA)|
|2||10||M44||Penalty||-10||Jamar Adams is blocked in the back, allowing Sims to break outside. This is legitimate and stupid, since Adams(-1) had given up the outside already. Hall does little better.|
|2||20||M34||Run||9||Pat Massey(-1) gets shoved out of the hole and then driven into the ground. Burgess(-1) also takes an angle too far inside. Thompson makes a valiant effort to run it down from the backside but just can't make the tackle.|
|3||11||M43||Pass||7||A little dumpoff to Young. We fake a fourth rusher (Crable) and then drop him into a really short zone on third and ten, which I hate since he's useless there given down and distance. The coverage is good. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 4 min 4th Q. The punt is the controversial kick catch interference. I don't think there's actually any contact, but Breaston's vector was clearly altered by the gunner overrunning the play. Oh yes, Penn State fans, let me taste your yummy tears. On the drive itself, more ugly run defense; Thompson played this drive and didn't really do much.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||13||Another play where Tate scrambles around and finds an open man downfield, in between two converging defenders. Branch gets a pass rush but badly overruns Tate, opening up the lane. (DO)|
|1||10||O33||Pass||11||Hall starts this play seven yards off the wide receiver and his first two steps are backwards. Solomon runs a three yard stop and has a ton of room. (CA)|
|1||10||O44||Run||4||Massey(-1) again gets moved out instantly by a single block. Watson, doubled, gets pushed back a bit but manages to come off and make the tackle. Graham(-1) is buried by FB Bush; this has happened multiple times where Graham comes up and ends up crushed face-first into the ground by the Iowa FB.|
|2||6||O48||Penalty||-10||They sweep Young out the the right. Yanda gets called for a hold, and if he didn't get called the guy blocking Burgess was going to get called. Hold drawn by Branch(+1).|
|2||16||O38||Pass||6||A counter screen to Chandler. Mason(+1) forms up and stiffs Chandler impressively. Harris(+1) had previously sliced up between a couple blockers, stripping Chandler's escort. (CA)|
|3||10||O44||Pass||17||Actually really good coverage by Jamar Adams(+1), who gets a hand on Chandler as the ball gets there but can't strip it away. An excellent throw and catch by Iowa; nothing you can do about this, especially since Michigan was getting a fierce pass rush. (DO)|
|1||10||M39||Pass||9||Same thing as the Solomon pass earlier, where a giant, pansy cushion results in easy yardage for Iowa. (CA)|
|2||1||M30||Pass||Sack, -3||Jamison(+2) laughs at Young's foolish attempt to block him and does a sack/strip job on Tate. Note for opponents: don't block Jamison with a tailback.|
|3||4||M33||Pass||10||The design of this play seems ridiculous. Iowa is in a 3 WR 1 TE shotgun set with apparent man coverage that features David Harris vacating his place in the center of the zone to chase Grigsby, a slot WR, downfield while Mason sits defending a flat route; in between the two is a ton of space for Chandler. This is dumb. (CA)|
|1||10||M23||Run||5||I dunno. There's a cutback crease as Watson hops to the left where the play is supposed to go. We've got six in the box here against their 3 WR set, something wev'e gotten consistently gashed on all yeare.|
|2||5||M18||12||Short post in between Mason and Harrison... I'm baffled at the combination of passive CB play coupled with two deep zone. Another great show of timing between Tate and Solomon. (DO)|
|1||G||M6||Run||2||Credit to the DL. Will Johnson(+1) holds up against two guys here, forcing the play outside, where Trent cleans up.|
|2||G||M4||Pass||4||Touchdown. Another combo route against our zone; Chandler runs a fly right up the center of the field that the coverage bites on, opening up a little angle route for Grigsby. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q. Sweet mercy. Tate was brilliant on this drive when he had to be, and the Iowa routes are ripping our zones to shreds. I don't get the combination of two-deep coverage and CBs playing 7-10 yards off like they're Jaren Hayes. We essentially have them 20 of these yards by playing way off.|
|1||15||O17||Run||10||Trent(-1) is blitzing from the short side and runs right by Young. We had scissors and they had rock on this play, which has happened and awful lot so far.|
|2||5||O27||Pass||9||Chandler again. There's no way we can stop this given the defense we keep using, as Iowa knows exactly what zones we're using, exactly where the holes are, and exactly the routes to run to bust them open. You can count on one hand the number of times in this half we've had good coverage. (CA)|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Sack, -10||Technically an intentional grounding penalty, but functionally a sack that should be credited to Woods(+2), who got out on the waggle much faster than Tate expected and forced the penalty. Good coverage by Mason(+1) on the short option.|
|2||20||O26||Pass||Inc||Tate goes deep. Good coverage by Hall(+1). (IN)|
|3||20||O26||Pass||Sack, 0||First indication of some sort of adjustment here. Crable(+1) jams the TE's route and then comes on the delayed blitz we've seen before, forcing Tate up into the pocket where Woods(+1) finishes the job.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 4 min 2nd Q. Iowa fans started booing on the deep pass and didn't stop for three plays.|
|1||10||M49||Pass||Inc||Hall(+1) with great coverage on the deep route, which I guess is expected when you play off 10 yards every snap. Woods(+1) hits Tate as he throws. (IN)|
|2||10||M49||Pass||8||Three man rush w/ delayed blitz from Crable. Tate hits Young, who schools Mason(-1) and Hall(-1). (CA)|
|3||2||M41||Pass||Inc||Straight drop by Melloy well downfield. Fortunate to escape a first and ten from the 20 or so... he was wide damn open. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 2 min 2nd Q. Dodged a bullet.|
|1||10||50||Pass||Sack, -10||Woods(+2) with another sack, though this one is somewhat on Tate, who held the ball a little long. Woods did a very nice job slipping past the stunt pickup. (TA)|
|2||20||O40||Pass||Inc||Three man rush + late Crable again. Crable(+1) bats the pass down as he's coming. (BA)|
|3||20||O40||Run||10||A we give up run.|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 7-14. Woods has stopped two drives; we got lucky on a third; the rest is methodical Tate and me gritting my teeth re: Herrmann.|
|1||10||O30||Run||3||John Thompson(+1) again does a tantalizing slash-and-whiff job, forcing Young back into the teeth of the defense.|
|2||7||O33||Pass||4||Exploiting the soft coverage. Hall(+1) holds the YAC down as much as humanly possible. (CA)|
|3||3||O37||Pass||Int||A total gift, as Tate throws it right to a wide open Solomon. The ball goes through his hands and Harrison picks it off. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 14 min 3rd Q. A huge Iowa gaffe. Please bring this up the next time someone tries to tell you that Iowa doesn't beat itself. Not because I have anything against Iowa, I just have something against people who regurgitate conventional wisdom and want a cookie. No cookie for you.|
|1||10||O27||Run||-2||Hello John Thompson(+2)! Thompson reads the hole and shoots up through it quickly, beating a block along the way, as he's done before. This time he makes the tackle, for a loss even.|
|2||12||O25||Pass||16||Solomon in a seam of the zone downfield. Burgess(-1) and Adams(-1) simply don't break on the ball even though Tate stares down Solomon the whole way. (CA)|
|1||10||O41||Run||-1||Nobody's blocked here. Jamison(+1), as he's done a few times this year, teleports past his guy before he even knows he's gone. Thompson(+1) again reads and fills, making the tackle.|
|2||10||O40||Pass||21||Tate throws a beautiful fade right on the sideline. Harrison is a split second too late, but I don't know if this is really anyone's fault when Tate throws this so well. (DO)|
|1||10||M39||Run||4||Thompson on the tackle again, though it was barely.|
|2||6||M35||Run||5||This one's up the gut against a DT tandem of Taylor(-1) and Johnson(-1), who both get single blocked easily, allowing the center to seal off Harris and cut back for good yardage.|
|3||1||M30||Run||1||Barely makes this as Michigan has players in the backfield.|
|1||10||M29||Run||-1||Again Jamison isn't blocked at the line at all, and two guys, a pulling guard and the fullback, end up blocking him in the backfield, leaving Thompson to sit unmolested at the LOS and make an easy tackle. More of an Iowa bust than anything.|
|2||11||M30||Run||6||Shotgun draw to Young. Adams(-1) is coming on a blitz and should have a tackle for two but misses. Harris and Burgess are both fighting blockers and do well to hold this to six.|
|3||5||M24||Pass||Inc||Tate is pissed at the WR for not running the comeback route properly. (Uh... I don't have a category for this.)|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG(41), 10-14, 4 min 3rd Q. Harris(+1) gets the block. We've shored up against the run... sort of. Three passes to three open receivers; save for miscommunication this would be fist and goal.|
|1||10||O28||Run||9||The backside of the zone stretch has been open all day and is again. Adams(-1) comes up and cuts outside for some reason, l eaving a gaping hole for Young to spring up through.|
|2||1||O37||Run||3||Good job by Harris to fight off a blocker; Iowa isn't doubling anyone along the line and our LBs are fighting off blockers every time.|
|1||10||O40||Pass||Inc||Young is open underneath and drops what would end up as six or seven yards. (CA)|
|2||10||O40||Pass||4||Counter screen to Chandler #2. Thompson(-1) overpusues and gets cut behind... Chandler is like a 8 foot tall TE, man, that's embarassing. (CA)|
|3||6||O44||Pass||4||Looks like a screen for a half second as Jamison(+1) and someone I can't ID get free after the intial fake and force Tate to dump it off to Young, who gets smoked by Mason(+2), thus preventing the first down. Mason hates Buddhism. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 14 min 4th Q.|
|1||10||M27||Penalty||-10||Holding on a screen. Apparently drawn by Branch(+1) as he's driving towards Tate encumbered by an Iowa lineman and then falls. Probably a bad call but no conclusive replay is shown.|
|1||20||M37||Run||2||Fabulous job by Branch(+2) to hop outside the tackler to force Young inside and then to leap back inside the blocker and make the tackle.|
|2||18||M35||Run||9||We've been hopping inside their TE/tackle and pressuring the QB with regularity; here Iowa burns us on it by allowing the DE to do so at the snap, leaving Burgess in a no win situation with way too much ground to try and cover. Branch(-1) vacates.|
|3||9||M26||Pass||Sack, -7||This also looks like a screen, though it is not. Branch(+2) owns a guard and gets in almost untouched. Burgess(+1) comes from a linebacker spot as a fourth rusher and stunts around a couple of confused Hawkeyes to finish the play.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 11 min 4th Q. Yes, Kirk Ferentz just punted from his 33 yard line. I love the guy and think he's a fabulous coach but I'm souring on his in game decisions after witnessing his Carrization in this game combined with the botched time management against LSU and the decision to take a safety in the 6-4 game against PSU last year.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||18||Okay, I'm really sick of watching Burgess(-1) chase TEs downfield as both he and Harris bite hard on the waggle. (CA)|
|1||10||O38||Pass||7||They throw the slip screen to Chandler; it works. Burgess just looks really slow every time I see him, like he's running in molasses. (CA)|
|2||3||O45||Pass||4||Long handoff to Solomon. Argh... giant... cushions... crushing... soul. (CA)|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Inc||Abortive waggle because Grigsby thinks he's blocking a run play. Where was the guy in the flat? (Again... WR screwup)|
|2||10||O49||Pass||Inc||Chandler drops a pass, actually deflecting it right to Harris(-1), who drops an easy one. (CA)|
|3||10||O49||Pass||Sack, -4||Tate fumbles the shotgun snap.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 7 min 4th Q. Fenstermaker's punts are averaging something like 25 yards. Again Iowa stubs its toe two or three times and forces itself to punt.|
|1||10||O12||Pass||12||Waggle and Tate finds an open Solomon. (DO)|
|1||10||O24||Pass||12||Yay zone! Chandler in between Trent and Burgess. (CA)|
|1||10||O36||Run||5||Major hole between Branch and a really, really blocked Harris(-1)|
|2||5||O41||Run||8||Iowa runs right at a LB lined up at DT, which, uh, sort of works. They're at the 50 with 2 minutes and three Tos left... not a definite passing down.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||30||Yay zone! When the closest guy to a slot WR downfield is your middle linebacker, you screwed up. I don't think this is a catch, actually... but I also don't think it should have been overturned. (DO)|
|1||10||M21||Run||6||Young bounces outside as Michigan has five in the box, three down, and Jamar Adams(-1) coming on a blitz; he reads run and lets it escape outside.|
|2||4||M15||Run||1||Watson(+1) pushes his guy into the backfield and makes a very nice tackle.|
|3||3||M14||Pass||2||Credit to Adams(+1) here for making the form tackle and preventing the first down, but mostly to Crable(+1) for shedding his blocker and preventing young from bouncing it outside. (Not charted.)|
|Drive Notes: FG(32) EO Regulation. Yay zone!|
|1||10||M25||Pass||Inc||Waggle yet again; Woods(+1) leaps and blocks the pass. (BA)|
|2||10||M25||Run||1||Thompson sheds a blocker(+1) and sticks Young in the hole. Watson is also coming.|
|3||9||M24||Pass||10||Via holding penalty on Crable(-1)... useless, useless penalty. Adams unfairly blamed. Solomon should have caught this ball. (CA)|
|1||10||M14||Run||1||The center can't get out to block Thompson in time and he simply fills the hole (created by Massey moonwalking five yards backwards, natch).|
|2||9||M13||Pass||3||Stop route they've used to good effect already. This time Hall(+1) manages to come up in time and makes a just good enough tackle. (CA)|
|2||6||M10||Pass||Inc||Tate's throw to Solomon lays him out along the sidelines. Tough catch... open if more accurate. (IN... harsh)|
|Drive Notes: FG(27), 20-17, OT.|
So how does Tate stack up?
Sweet Jesus. Keep in mind that two plays where the receivers clearly screwed up didn't get charted, nor did a couple of occurrences of heavy, immediate pass rush. I've included the post-charting-revamp Henne stats for comparison. Here you go:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
Great galloping gravy! Remember the breakdown of positive/negative downfield plays I did for the PSU game? Henne had 14 positive to 16 negative. Take away two TE screens, two dumpoffs to Young on third and long, and four Solomon stop routes (to play this conservatively) and Tate had 23 positive to 7 negative, and that's being super harsh on the "Inaccurate" category, which holds two bombs and the third down comeback route in OT that glanced off Solomon's fingertips.
It's not fair to hold Henne to that standard--it probably isn't fair to hold Tate to that standard, that was one of the finest quarterbacked games I've seen, like, ever--but that's kind of mindboggling. Seriously, I think Tate made a total of three bad plays (holding the ball too long on one sack, fumbling a snap, and letting Woods bat a ball down on the waggle easily). That says a lot about Tate and a lot about how far away from him Henne has been this year.
Doesn't that say something else, too?
Yes, yes it does. This was a wretched defensive performance. Reviewing the tape I kept thinking to myself "how did we win this game?" A large part of Tate's success was due to Michigan never using man coverage. We played so far off their receivers that the only time we actually covered them is when they went deep. Seriously. I count three instances of tight coverage this entire game: the two deep balls and the Chandler catch that Adams got a hand on. Maybe the fade down the sideline against Harrison. For those scoring at home, Tate threw 34 passes by my count (some were erased by penalty). Coverage was nonexistent.
What stops we did get were either due to good fortune (drops, gifted interceptions, penalties) or a good pass rush and a sack off a stunt. Drive by drive:
- An incomplete bomb and a stupid block in the back puts Iowa in 2nd and 20, we hold.
- Great play by Woods to force a intentional grounding call puts Iowa in 2nd and 20.
- Iowa drop.
- Woods sack on first down and Crable bat put Iowa in 3rd and 20.
- Gift interception; should have been first down.
- WR runs wrong route.
- Mason thumps Young two yards short.
- Sack from great pass rush, again Iowa in first and 20 after penalty.
- Series goes WR screwup, drop, fumbled snap.
- FG. Legit stop but only after giving up 70 yards quickly.
- FG. Route is open but glances off Solomon's hands.
You have three instances of Iowa putting themselves behind the eight ball with penalties, five Iowa execution screwups, and exactly two instances of Michigan actually stopping the Hawkeyes without aid of a penalty. This is the essence of bend-but-don't-break: sit back until your opponents screw up, if they screw up. Michigan blitzed two times (I don't count the delaying LB tactic as a blitz as the LB is the fourth rusher). Two! Even blitz-hating TMQ would find that excessive. You can count the instances of man coverage on one hand . Not coincidentally, you can count the instances of covered receivers on the other hand.
We had the good fortune to get a number of drive-killing Iowa mistakes and thus managed to hold them to 17 points, but Michigan's defensive strategy in this game loses it 8 out of 10 times. We relied on Iowa drops and penalties and failed stunt pickups to win this game, which is crazy considering that Iowa was the least penalized team in the league coming in and is generally regarded as one of the best coached teams in college football. A series of flukes conspired against them in this game, otherwise they put up 30+.
This was probably the worst defensive performance in a very long time. It was worse than Michigan State. It was worse than Michigan State last year. It was worse than Ohio State or Texas last year. We stopped nothing. But for Woods playing phoenix and Branch getting instant pass rush, there's nothing redeeming from this game.
The worst part about all of this is that the players didn't seem to play particularly badly outside of Graham and Massey, but they were consistently put in no-win situations. We got a number of great plays from Woods and Branch and even John Thompson, but if someone wasn't making a great play, Iowa was getting a giant chunk of yardage. What kind of defense is that?
Yes, this seems viciously harsh for a game in which Iowa scored 17 points in regulation, but ask yourself: when Iowa got the ball back with two minutes to go, what did you think our chances of stopping them were?
Did anything good happen?
Well, the best thing I can say is that we were absent Woodley, who's obviously our best defensive player, and Branch should be able to move inside soon if Woods is allowed to play and Biggs returns. I'm sure Pat Massey is a great guy but he should be a roleplayer on this defense. Will he be? No, the evidence of such has been there since about game two. Nothing's changed, and so nothing will change.
John Thompson made a good debut as a first-string linebacker but it wasn't as good as it appeared watching it live. Thompson missed a few tackles, overran a play or two, and was in for a lot more productive rushes against than it initially seemed. However, he clearly has a knack for showing up around the ball and with some more experience should start making those plays he barely missed against Iowa. He also seems like kind of a yappy, trash-talking guy, and we need one of those.
Grant Mason's hit was also kind of awesome; remind me to write derogatory zen koans about Henne.
What about the...
|Woodley||-||-||-||You will be healthy for Northwestern!|
|Woods||9||-||9||Goddamn, son. Good to know we've buried you on the bench all year.|
|Jamison||4||-||4||Kid can rush the passer.|
|Branch||5||1||4||Didn't do much except for a series of great plays interspersed with a bad one on one second half drive.|
|Burgess||2||5||-3||Still chasing Chandler.|
|Harris||3||3||0||Worst game since he became a starter. Still did okay.|
|Graham||-||4||-4||Job in serious jeopardy.|
|Thompson||4||4||0||Not as good as it appeared but still superior to Graham.|
|Crable||4||1||3||Effective rushing the passer.|
|Hall||4||1||3||Seems generous for the corners when Tate goes nuts but I've made my position on the defense clear.|
|Engelmon||-||1||-||Didn't play much.|
Yes, apparently generous but in line with what I thought happened: Woods saved the game for us, the linebackers were a disaster (-7 in total on a scale that tends towards +, since I'm not counting passing-down-only Crable as a LB), and the secondary was sold out by the obvious, repetitive coverages they were assigned.
We kept calling scissors and were shocked (shocked!) when Iowa kept going "rock, rock, rock."
What does it all mean for Northwestern?
Woo haa! It could go one of two ways: Woodley, a revamped Woods, and Branch on the interior annihilate the Northwestern DL on a regular enough basis to keep the Wildcats relatively down. Or they don't and it's track meet time.
This Sutton kid is a lot like Mike Hart, a pint-sized pack of pterror. Dude came straight from an Ohio middle school to become the 5th-leading rusher in the country. He cracked 100 yards against Penn State's formidable defense. He broke out Rex-Kwon-Do against Wisconsin, gashing them for 244 yards. He was "held" to 89 yards against Purdue... on 13 carries! I quiver in fear. He has that feint-inside bounce-outside thing that Calhoun, Walker, Wolfe... well, damn near everyone has burned us with. He also catches the ball out of the backfield--21 receptions for over 10 yards a pop--just like Calhoun did. Much will depend upon how real John Thompson is, because we need someone other than Harris who can take the correct angle.
It's time to face facts, though: we're two-thirds of the way through the season and we have the 76th ranked rushing defense in the country. This is no fluke. Set aside the EMU nothingness. Every team that we've played has gashed us. If you consider the MSU tailbacks a single person, we haven't held a single opponent running back under 100 yards all year. Why is this? Massey, no doubt, plus Watson's eminently disappointing year. Throw in safeties 12 yards off the LOS on almost every play, and outside linebackers who have been really bad and you have a noxious cocktail that is not going to get any more palatable against Northwestern's fireworks display. Expect Sutton to get his 100. Hope he doesn't get his 200.
Brett Bazanez will do the exact same thing Tate did. He'll roll out a ton and find his receivers smoothly in the context of his offense. If we don't change the way we play defense we're going to die by a thousand papercuts.
|1||10||M15||Pass||Manningham||15||Dude we took the ball. Manningham's out is wide open. (CA)|
|1||10||M30||Run||Hart||6||Henige pulls around and gets a good block, as does Thompson.|
|2||4||M36||Pass||Breaston||10||Slip screen to Breaston. Mass and Avant block it well; Breaston looks about as healthy as possible. (CA)|
|1||10||M46||Run||Hart||5||Hart injury. On this play he cuts outside and slices up, but he should have gone straight upfield.|
|2||5||O49||Run||Grady||2||Takes a draw and slips after a few steps. This probably would have worked for something close to a first down without the slip.|
|3||3||O47||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||A really, really bad throw. Massaquoi is open and stationary; Henne misses him badly. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q. Second straight game Michigan's initial drive has ended with a third and three with an open receiver that Henne just misses.|
|1||10||M19||Run||Hart||2||Hart again cuts out side because there's absolutely nothing where the play is supposed to go. You can clearly see he doesn't have his usual explosion.|
|2||8||M21||Pass/Penalty||Breaston||Inc / 5||Uh, yeah, another terribly thrown ball (IN). The call is ridiculous as well; ball is uncatchable; guy is on time.|
|1||10||M26||Run||Hart||1||He ain't right. Another cut outside, would have been 5 with a good ankle.|
|2||9||M27||Pass||Avant||15||Slant to Avant in some softish zone coverage. The interior WR's route opens up the space for Avant, and a very good throw opens up some YAC. (DO)|
|1||10||M42||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Breaston is open on an out ten yards downfield, Henne plain misses him. (IN)|
|2||10||M42||Pass||No one||Sack, -4||Self sack. Ugh.|
|3||14||M38||Pass||Tabb||12||Henne has all day to throw; no one seems open from the TV replay. He hits Tabb in stride but it's short of the first down. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q. The first bad call with the weak PI call, though Michigan doesn't capitalize. Henne is alternating NFL-caliber throws with total flakeouts.|
|1||10||M32||Run||Martin||3||Yes, this a fumble, and no, Max Martin shouldn't be playing.|
|2||7||M35||Run||Grady||4||Grinding forward a little bit.|
|3||3||M39||Run||Grady||7||Grady makes a Hart-like cut outside and then moves up into the hole quickly.|
|1||10||M46||Scramble||Henne||3||Play action; Henne has a ton of time but can't find anyone and runs straight upfield. (TA)|
|2||7||M49||Run||Grady||9||A pitch play that Grady makes a good, hard cut against the grain on when Iowa overcommits outside.|
|1||10||O42||Pass||Hart||9||A checkdown to Hart that I can live with, I mean, 9 yards. (CA)|
|2||1||O33||Run||Hart||2||Nothing resembling a hole; the OL does a nice job of driving the Iowa DL a couple yards down the field and picking up the first.|
|1||10||O31||Pass||Avant||24||More play action; Avant cuts on an in route and is wide open; Henne hits him downfield between the numbers (DO).|
|1||G||O7||Run||Grady||2||Just a ton of guys in the box... not too surprising on first and goal, but there's no crease.|
|2||G||O5||Pass||Avant||5||Touchdown. Beautifully floated over the zone coverage on a clever little fade route to the center of the endzone. Excellent play all around. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q. Good running from Grady on this drive, though his hole-picking abilities are limited later on. I just don't think we have an OL good enough to take advantage of his abilities. Henne makes two great throws on the drive.|
|1||10||M20||Pass/Penalty||Breaston||2||Henne checks down to Breaston; Antwaan Allen is all over the route and gets called for PI. The replay is unhelpful in detemining legit-ness.|
|1||10||M22||Run||Bass||3||QB sweep highly remiscent of the Randall Cunningham Super Tecmo Bowl money play that we've run a few time with Bass. This was going to work for a lot, except Avant's feet trip Bass up. Why does this work? It is the mystery.|
|2||7||M25||Pass/Penalty||Dutch||15||Uh... yeah. This call is ridiculous on two levels: 1) Johnson had jumped the route perfectly and was making a play on the ball. 2) Instead of a spot foul they mark off a full 15 yards. Ugly all around. I bet famous PSU internet nutcases MarshCreek and Beast of da East sit in a dark room, watching this play over and over again, touching themselves in an impure manner.|
|1||10||M40||Run||Grady||7||Grady's offset and we pull a guard over to the right side. Grady finds a cutback lane and heads upfield nicely. Credit to Kraus and Lentz, who drive the DTs back a long way.|
|2||3||M47||Run||Grady||4||Another good job by the interior OL. Grady clearly makes a wrong cut, going to a jammed up right instead of an open left.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Avant||Inc||Greenway's zone drop deflects the pass on an in route very similar to the one Avant caught on Michigan's earlier touchdown drive. (BA)|
|2||10||O49||Run||Grady||4||Not much here. Grady's power gets two or three as he just burrows behind the linemen.|
|3||6||O45||Pass/Penalty||Avant||-5||Depressing that this gets called back, as Henne nails Avant well downfield right in stride. The penalty is illegal motion on Avant, who took a tiny step forward before the snap. (DO)|
|3||11||50||Pass||No one||Inc||Iowa rushes three; Henne immediately panics and throws it into the third row despite not having anyone within five yards of him. (BR).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 5 min 2nd Q. Brandt is yammering on about how the last play was smart. I am yammering on about how Brandt is dumb. Before it Henne had been having a sustained period of good play. From this point on, Iowa rushes three and waits for Hennepanic on critical third downs all day.|
|2||9||M33||Pass||Avant||11||Avant gets free from Hodge in man coverage--Hodge is good, but that's a mismatch. Henne hits him right in stride, allowing some YAC. (DO)|
|1||10||M44||Pass||Manningham||Int||The Manningham route controversy. Okay. He ran a bad route. Why did Henne throw it to his bad, covered route? Why didn't he check off to Avant, wide open on a deep corner route? Why didn't he just lob it downfield when Manningham was about to break open? That safety is not invisible, and by the time Henne throws it's clear Manningham's not breaking his route off. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 3 min 2nd Q. Partial exoneration to Henne here, but not total.|
|1||10||M17||Run||Grady||7||Draw against a six man front with three wide. Grady cuts it outside where the hole is after a nice block from Massaquoi.|
|2||3||M24||Run||Grady||1||Stenavich can't control his man and lets him disengage, screwing up this play which was otherwise well blocked. Grady actually plows into Stenavich.|
|3||2||M25||Run||Grady||1||Check with me into a run aginst a six man front, reasonable. Unfortunately, our OL just get its ass kicked. Long misses his block on Hodge, though he doesn't have an angle for it... Grady may have picked the wrong hole.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 1 min 2nd Q. Okay, Brandt has to go screw himself, since he just started talking about how Henne was so good at the end of the PSU game at managing the clock. He's intolerable. I don't have a problem with the playcalling here. Michigan should be able to get two yards against six guys in the box--I think this third down is on Grady, as the blocking scheme makes no sense given the direction he takes.|
|1||10||O42||Run||Grady||5||Grady runs off guard behind Henige and runs right up his back. He pushes the pile for a bit.|
|2||5||O37||Run||Grady||3||Ugh. Hart pops this baby outside and picks up 10 or 15, since the linebackers all draw up and get blocked and the corner on the slot also gets plugged. Grady just kind of plows into Long from behind. This run really disturbed me--Underwood flashback.|
|3||2||O34||Run||Grady||-1||This is supposed to be a stretch to the far side of the field but it's blown up because exactly one Iowa player gets blocked. Total failure.|
|4||3||O35||Pass||Ecker||13||Waggle that everyone bites on hard, thus Ecker is open. Henne its him between the numbers on the run. (DO)|
|1||10||O22||Run||Grady||5||Pitch short side. Grady shows his good side by fighting through a tackle fiercely for an extra couple at the end.|
|2||5||O17||Pass||Avant||13||Thrown by Bass (thus not charted). Avant's wide open and any throw that doesn't take him off his feet is a touchdown. A beautiful catch by Avant.|
|1||G||O4||Run||Grady||0||Have we passed on first down and goal yet? This is just ugly. No one gets blocked.|
|2||G||O4||Pass||Avant||Inc||Fade to Avant is just off his fingertips. (CA, even though he didn't.)|
|3||G||O4||Run||Henne||-3||Just because the quarterback draw always works against us does not mean it always works.|
|Drive Notes: FG(26) 10-14, 8 min 3rd Q. There's an obvious dropoff from Hart to Grady, and another straw on the camel back here that eventually leads to Jackson's entrance.|
|1||10||M24||Pass||Ecker||5||Christ. This is a completion that Henne throws rolling out, across his body that had INT written all over it. Arm strength to the rescue. (CA? DO? BR? Freakin' insane? We'll go with CA.)|
|2||5||M29||Run||Grady||2||Draw looks very open before Hodge manages to slip through a crease and attack Grady from the side as he passes. Nice play from him; wonder if maybe Hart avoids him.|
|3||3||M31||Scramble||Henne||0||All day to throw again, another three man rush that turns into a TWO man rush when DT Kroul just sort of stops running. Henne just decides to run up into him. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 2 min 3rd Q. Another instance of Henne panicking in the face of lots of dudes in a zone.|
|1||10||M27||Run||Bass||0||The "fumble." Funny how no one mentions this play in their conspiracy theories.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 10-14, 14 min 3rd Q. If you do not know the rules, you should not be an official.|
|1||10||M12||Run||Jackson||19||Huge run from Jackson, who manages to pop out of the pile four yards downfield. Great job by everyone to maintain their blocks, Ecker especially.|
|1||10||M31||Run||Jackson||2||Jackson's delayed by a linebacker who falls at his feet, allowing Merrick to come up make the stop near the LOS.|
|2||8||M33||Pass||Grady||-3||A screen that's going nowhere. Grady turns around and is instantly popped.|
|3||11||M30||Pass||Avant||18||They try the same rush three trick and Henne finally waits for his guys downfield, hitting Avant with a bullet on a deep in route. (DO)|
|1||10||M48||Pass||Breaston||52||Yeehaw! Breaston feints inside of Tabb's excellent block and then pops outside of it, delaying the safety just enough with the move so that he can only dive at Breaston's legs as he streaks by. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-14, 9 min 3rd Q. Someone get Tabb a cookie STAT. It's still a mystery to me why he doesn't play more. He should have all the routes down by now, apparently has good hands, and we know he's fast... he's the safety on the kickoff team.|
|1||10||M32||Run||Jackson||3||Dive up the middle.|
|2||7||M35||Pass||Thompson||Inc||He's open in the flat; Henne throws it hard and off target, forcing him to dive. (IN)|
|3||7||M35||Pass/Penalty||No one||5||Henne's sacked but is incidentally facemasked. Henige exits the field with an injury; Alex Mitchell is the replacement. Good news for next year?|
|3||2||M40||Run||Jackson||7||A nice play by Jackson to read the no-hole in the middle and slide outside for the first. Totally disturbing how our OL can't get anything here against a six man front.|
|1||10||M47||Run||Jackson||1||Eight guys in the box; this is no check with me, either. Just nothing from the OL at all.|
|2||9||M48||Run||Jackson||4||Pitch outside that's reasonably well blocked.|
|3||5||O48||Run||Jackson||2||This is, in fact, a check with me; Henne goes with the run play and it goes behind Mitchell and Steno, both of whom get stood up at the line.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 3 min 4th Q. I really dislike the first down play call. And the second down play call given it's 2nd and 9. Henne's check with me on third down was reasonble; we single block those guys and Jackson acquires the first with ease. We just totally failed to get it done against Iowa's undersized line. Story of the year.|
|1||10||O25||Run||Jackson||2||Long doesn't block anyone and anyone makes the tackle.|
|2||8||O23||Pass||Avant||18||Goddamn, Jason. That's an unbelievable catch of a terribly thrown ball, now that I see that the Iowa defender was not in position to pick that off if it was thrown accurately. (IN)|
|1||G||O5||Run||Jackson||4||Just sort of falls four yards forward somehow. Michigan manages to create a tiny crease that Jackson squirts through.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-20, EOG. Praise the lawd!|
I thought I had security deal with you. All right, here's the scoop:
- Michigan fumbled around its 30 in the first half, and it was wrongly called down and then not reviewed. Michigan did not fumble around its 30 in the second half, it was correctly called down (and whistled) and then incorrectly overturned by review. This is essentially a wash.
As many Michigan fans have commented or emailed, there is a specific portion of the rulebook that makes it very clear that actual contact is not necessary for kick catch interference to be called:
VI. On a scrimmage kick beyond the neutral zone, a Team A player stands in or runs through an area close to a Team B player who is in position to catch the ball and is deemed to have impeded the Team B player. RULING: Interference with the opportunity to catch a kick. Penaltyâ€”15 yards from the spot of the foul, which is where the Team B player was positioned to catch the kick.
Given this passage this passage also in the rulebook: "When in question, it is an interference foul," I think it's clear that the correct call was made on the Breaston muff.
- Michigan was the beneficiary of two awful pass interference calls and one that was iffy. Especially egregious was the Dutch/Allen play where Allen jumped the route and was clearly making a play on the ball but was flagged, especially because instead of a six or seven yard penalty the referees incorrectly assessed a full fifteen yards.
Assuming that you're not a complete nutcase, the end result is horrible officiating all around that ended up slightly benefiting Michigan. More concerning than wild-ass conspiracy theories is the overall state of Big Ten officiating, which is dismal. In the Ohio State-Indiana game actually featured a mulligan on a kick return that the referees couldn't figure out:
IU's Austin Starr popped a short kickoff in the air, and Ohio State linebacker Mike D'Andrea called for a fair catch at the Buckeyes' 30. He fumbled the ball and Indiana linebacker Josh Powers recovered for the Hoosiers.
But one of the officials apparently blew what was later described as an inadvertent whistle when D'Andrea was attempting to make the catch.
Instead of giving either team the ball, the officials huddled and opted to replay the kickoff. In golf terms, it was a mulligan.
(HT: Buckeye Commentary)
Multiple Michigan games have featured replay officials who simply don't know the rule book. This probably has something to do with the fact that the officials are actually insurance salesmen or taco vendors or vacuum repairdudes who moonlight as referees. How much would it actually cost to get some professional referees? I'm completely baffled by major college football's reliance on part-timers when a relative drop in the revenue bucket would mean that referees would know the rules of the game.
How did Henne play?
I'm torn. On the one hand he rifled a fair quantity of balls directly into the hands of Michigan wide receivers. On the other, he rifled a few critical third downs into the crowd without an Iowa player within three yards of him.
This is what the chart says:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
(I didn't chart two of the PI plays.)
Henne threw much less than he did against Penn State but ended up with more very nice passes than he's had since I shifted the numbers to something more sane. However, he also threw five inaccurate balls and had the three bad reads, one of which was the Manningham interception. If you buy the idea that said interception was all on Manningham then it looks like a pretty good day, but I don't.
Strangely enough, Henne seemed to be inaccurate on a lot of short stop routes that should be easy for any quarterback (and certainly were for Tate). Also, we didn't go deep all day unless you count the Manningham interception--probably because Iowa was content to sit back and let their linebackers make plays against whoever was Not Mike Hart at the moment.
Still, this was probably his best performance of the year considering the level of competition. Those seven DOs were all nice throws that were either far downfield or that led receivers for big chunks of YAC.
Why can't we run?
God, I don't know. The constant theme of this year's running game has been terrible run blocking. Hart's been able to magic his way into a productive year when he's been on the field but the severe dropoff to his backups is more than evident.
Will Jake Long's return help?
To some extent, though I th ink it's more important for pass coverage. If Long is healthy and in-form he should make the right side of the line a more credible area to run, no offense intended to Riley. It won't fix our problems at guard. Neither Lentz or Henige has really shown any ability to crease a line and drive someone out of the hole. We've been facing a lot of Pat Masseys this year, but when was the last time you saw anyone crush an opposing Massey to the ground and a running back flit through the vast hole opened?
I don't think this will be much of a problem against Northwestern or Indiana, but I would be shocked if we averaged anything more than two yards a carry against OSU.
[INCOHERENT SCREAMING ABOUT MANNINGHAM]
Look, I know he's nicknamed and everything, but he's got a long way to go if he doesn't know to break that route off into a wide open area of the field. It has to bother you that at this point in the year he still lines up wrong on a consistent basis. He is just a freshman, he's probably dinged up, and he's having issues picking up the whole offense. You're probably going to see him come in less often than you'd like, but that doesn't mean anyone's holding him back. He's just young.
Why does running Antonio Bass from the QB spot always seem to work?
I have no idea. Against Iowa the first iteration would have gone for a big gain save for an unfortunate trip. They did defense the second one well, but so far it's hitting at a 75% rate. It doesn't make a lick of sense to me.
What does it mean for Northwestern?
Given that the Wildcats are dead freakin' last in DI defense, I would certainly hope that we can get into a 54-51 type game, no matter how much Lloyd wants to avoid a shootout. As you'll see tomorrow, I don't think we win anything but a shootout. It's either blowout or shootout.
So. We need Mike Hart back. We need Long and the rest of the OL to give Henne time to throw, and we need Henne to keep mistakes to a reasonable minimum, because this should be an up-and-down game. Northwestern's defense is not going to make a lot of plays. What will kill drives will probably be Michigan's own mistakes, and we'll only be able to afford a limited number of them. Therefore Grady and his wrong cuts and Martin and his ball repulsion skills should take a hefty back seat to Run DNC against the Wildcats. The offensive gameplan should revolve heavily around Avant's ultra-reliability and WR screens to our fast bastards against the small Northwestern secondary.
We're going to try to run, which isn't a totally dumb idea given Northwestern's 188 YPG yielded and tendency to yield huge chunks against, er, everybody. If we can, we'll have a good shot. If Hart can't go or we decide to uselessly hurl ourselves into stacked fronts, we be toast.
|1||10||O20||Pass||9||Mason(-1) bites on the play action and Smolko's wide open.|
|2||1||O29||Run||5||End around to King. He gets the corner on Harris since the DBs to that side don't come off their blocks.|
|1||10||O34||Scramble||9||Five wide set here. Defense isn't too bad; the WR's route functions as a convenient block, otherwise Harris shuts this down quickly.|
|2||1||O43||Run||8||Burgess(-1) should make this tackle at the LOS, as the line holds very well.|
|1||10||M49||Run||11||Counter pitch play to Williams that Burgess(-1) gets faked out of his jock on. Can't be too hard on Burgess even though he got posterized as Williams is a tough guy to tackle. IBFC video.|
|1||10||M38||Run||-1||Yeah, the fulback trap is not a good idea. Watson(+1) drives his man way into the backfield; FB cuts right into Woodley(+1) who crushes him.|
|2||11||M39||Run||3||Another option play here. Mason(+1) reads it and hops out on the pitch man. Adams(+1) comes up and makes a very solid tackle on Robinson.|
|3||8||M36||Pass||6||Adams(+1) hits Williams the instant he catches the ball and negates any possible YAC.|
|4||2||M30||Run||7||Mason(-1) doesn't read the play very quickly and is hestitant attacking the corner. By the time he gets there he can only make a weak wave at the tackle.|
|1||10||M23||Scramble||5||Three step chop and fire that Robinson pulls down because of Hall's(+1) coverage. He's flushed by Woodley and scrambles. Trent puts a good lick on him.|
|2||5||M18||Run||3||Shotgun hand off a la MSU. Harris and Graham plug up the hole.|
|3||2||M15||Run||1||Blitz of one guy into a QB draw. Branch(+2) closes it down and forces the FG attempt.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG (32), 0-0 8 min 1st Q. PSU came with a number of fancy tricks designed to get the kid WRs involved and got several first downs off of them and Robinson's running.|
|1||10||O20||Run||5||Shotgun handoff. Watson(-1) slants too far inside at the snap and the guard can use his momentum to dispose of him rather easily.|
|2||5||O25||Pass||Inc||Play action, Robinson manages to slip it in between the guys in the zone here but it's a little bit too high and it falls incomplete. Good coverage by Mason(+1) here, who knows he has safety help. Branch(+1) gets a little pass rush.|
|3||5||O25||Pass||0||Screen that Michigan blitzes into. Harris(+1) slices up and forces the RB back inside where Woodley(+1), who's coming from the other side of the field, makes the tackle. Incidental face mask here against Woodley goes uncalled... that would have been a first down.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 5 min 1st Q. The play by Harris is key, as they had a rock and we had scissors on that play call. If Harris doesn't disrupt the timing of the screen and allow the stunting Woodley to read and make his way to that side of the field, it's easily a first down and probably significantly more.|
|1||10||O22||Run||2||Intended hole is totally jammed up by Harris(+1), who's an arm away from making a very nice TFL. A bounce gets a little yardage.|
|2||8||O24||Run||10||Watson... wow. I was sure that was Massey. Watson(-2) gets doubled on the draw and gets driven way back.|
|1||10||O34||Run||-5||Watson(+2) gets it back on this one, crushing his man in to the backfield. Massey(+1) sheds and tracks his guy down very well, too.|
|2||15||O29||Pass||Inc||Play action here to a doubled Williams. Hall(+1) has a shot at the PBU. Also: this is illegal hands to the face on Branch, uncalled.|
|3||15||O29||Pass||Inc||Rush three... bleah, but I guess against Robinson it's a good percentage play. He has Smolko open downfield but misses him. I think Terrance Taylor(+1) manages to get a hit on Robinson after a few seconds in the pocket.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 2 min 1st Q. Watson gives them a first down and then puts them in second and long; net benefit if you ask me, but why doesn't he make these plays with more frequency?|
|1||10||O5||Run||2||POA is again completely jammed up. Hunt cuts back into Burgess, who makes the tackle. Credit to Harris(+1), and maybe Watson.|
|2||8||O7||Run||7||Draw that we blitz into, perfect call. But Burgess(-1) completely overruns the play, and somehow Graham(-1) misses a tackle.|
|3||1||O14||Run||6||Short side option. Woodley(-1) gets blown off the ball and Graham(-1) just gets crushed by a guy wearing #24. never get crushed by a guy wearing #24!|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Inc||Robinson bombs it deep and Hall(+1) is in better position to make the catch than Williams. Ball is ovethrown.|
|2||10||O20||Pass||14||Slip screen out to #24, who turns out to be a true freshman WR, Graham. For shame. On this play Mason(-2) gets owned overpursing.|
|1||10||O34||Pass||7||Robinson reads the zone correctly and hits the open guy. Another tenuous tackle from Mason.|
|2||3||O41||Scramble||3||Big hole opens up; Harris is spying but doesn't get much of a stop here, more of a force the other guy to fall down. It's third and inches.|
|3||In||O44||Penalty||-5||False start. Muy estupido.|
|3||5||O39||Pass||24||Mason(-2) takes a terrible angle on a slip screen to Williams. Hall got blocked and the play had a good chance of being a first down anyway but not 25 yards and almost a touchdown if Williams doesn't step out.|
|1||10||M37||Run||2||Nice job by Trent(+1) to avoid the block on the run and come up and Burgess(+1) to keep contain.|
|2||8||M35||Pass||6||Three step drop that takes advantate of Trent playing off Butler. Trent does come up and make the tackle immediately.|
|3||2||M29||Run||1||Option short side that Robinson decides to cut up as Burgess(+1) plows through a blocker and is zooming in on the pitchman. Robinson is gang tackled.|
|Drive Notes:Missed FG(45), 0-0, 7 min 2nd Q. More below about the Mason-owning.|
|1||10||O23||Pass||12||Massey(+1) reads this boot as well as he can an d chases Robinson to the sideline. Grant Mason(-1) is way behind Smolko.|
|1||10||O35||Pass||15||Jamar Adams(-2) vacates his zone badly and the slant is wide open.|
|1||15||O45||Pass||6||They run a combo route that runs Mason off and then has Williams come underneath.They're clearly targeting Mason on almost every one of these short plays. They're largely avoiding Hall.|
|2||9||O46||Run||8||QB draw. Robinson scoots through a hole between two of the three (ugh) down linemen. David Harris(+3) gives the ball a yank job on his tackle. Textbook wrap, tackle, strip.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 3-0, 2 min 2nd Q. Harris is the man, man.|
|1||10||O28||Pass||7||Simple out in a zone that was obviously open at the snap; Hall was playing a good ten yards off and backpedals.|
|2||3||O35||Run||1||Branch(+2) owns the OT and makes the tackle on Williams, though he manages to squirt forward from the tackle to prevent a TFL|
|3||2||O36||Run||2||Another short side option that Robinson keeps. Woodley does a realy nice job of holding the corner, as does Massey, but Robinson just manages to squeeze it out by powering between the two.|
|1||10||O38||Pass||7||Play action that we've read pretty well. Branch keeps Robinson contained. Mason(-1) lets Williams get very open in man.|
|2||3||O45||Run||-5||End around to Williams. Spectacular play by Harris(+2) to read, fire into the backfield, and tackle. Woodley's(+1) push on the OL allows Harris the lane. IBFC video.|
|3||8||O40||Run||5||Run pass option for Robinson. Well played by Mason(+1), who covers the WR long enough to force the run and then comes up to tackle.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 7 min 3rd Q. Harris just tracked down Derrick Williams.|
|1||10||O26||Pass||0||Robinson checks down to the flare route. Burgess(+1) plays this very well and makes an open field tackle.|
|2||10||O26||Run||4||Draw. The DTs crease and there's a good sized hole; Harris is blocked but sheds and manages a tackle.|
|3||6||O30||Pass||56||The fumbled snap broken play ridiculousness. Plus a roughing the passer against Graham (no - because the call appears to be really bad). I'm not exactly sure what happens here. After the fumble a blitzing Harris flushes Robinson but gets blocked at the last second and can't make the tackle. Branch comes off his blocker and gets a hand on him but also can't bring him down; then the flick to a wide open WR downfield. Harrison is in hot pursuit but I don't know if this is really his fault; from the replay provided he appears to have the other side of the field. I think Adams(-2) came up assuming a run (somewhat reasonably) and let Golden get way behind him.|
|1||G||O7||Run||0||Woodley(+1) is unblocked and levels Hunt; Taylor(+1) also gets penetration.|
|2||G||O7||Pass||Inc||Great play by Adams(+2) to come around Smolko and break the pass up.|
|3||G||O7||Pass||Inc||Delayed blitz from Graham forces Robinson to throw. The ball is apparently inaccurate but Griese defends the decision as merely avoiding coverage.|
|Drive Notes: Made FG(25), 10-3, EOQ. The final play was something I've seen with frequency where Michigan will hold a linebacker in a spy and then release him on a delayed blitz if a lane opens up for him. It's usually effective.|
|1||10||O37||Run||61||Uh, yeah. Harrison(-2) has an opportunity to stifle this after about 15 yards but goes Shazor on us. Burgess(-1) gets crushed by the FB; Watson(-1) getting pushed back opens the hole up wide. IBFC video.|
|1||G||O2||Run||-2||Woodley(+1) stiffs the point of attack.|
|2||G||O4||Pass||Inc||Graham(+1) gets it thrown directly to him on this rollout and he drops it. Stupid casts.|
|3||G||O2||Run||4||Touchdown. Freaking QB draw, which always works against us. Just the wrong call, a blitz off the corner which forces Harris to drop into a zone and thus the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-10, 12 min 4nd Q. 10 points on busted safety assignments.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||9||Fairly simple out run in front of Hall. Williams does make a huge difference in the PSU O because of plays like this. Last year there's no way Hall's that far off.|
|2||6||O24||Pass||Inc||Williams traps a ball thrown low.|
|3||6||O24||Penalty||5||Holding on Hall(-1).|
|1||10||O29||Run||0||This is a good play by Burgess(+1), who doesn't let the FB block him and crams the hole full of OLB goodness.|
|2||10||O29||Pass||Inc||Spy/delayed blitz from Harris(+1) who levels Robinson as he throws; the ball is well OOB.|
|3||10||O29||Pass||Sack, -8||Three man rush gets relatively quick pressure from Branch(+1) and Woodley(+1), forcing PSU out of bounds. IBFC video.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 18-18, 7 min 4th Q. If three man rushes were that effective on a regular basis I'd be all for them.|
|1||10||O20||Scramble||6||Has all day to throw; can't find anyone. Good coverage but Robinson does that damned mobile quarterback thing.|
|2||4||O26||Pass||Int||Hall(+3) reads and picks the ball off. Mason(-1) gets called for what turns out to be a critical holding penalty.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-18, 3 min 4th Q. Robinson makes only his second real mistake (the other being the interception Graham dropped).|
|1||10||O19||Pass||11||Good time for Robinson and Mason(-1) misses another tackle, preventing this from staying as a five yard completion.|
|1||10||O30||Scramble||0||Flushes after looking downfield. Hall and Mason have him contained pretty well.|
|2||10||O30||Pass||28||Harris(-1) doesn't turn and find the ball. He's in position to make a play if he doesn't Todd Howard this. Of note: Woodley is getting double teamed on every play.|
|1||10||M42||Pass||7||Really soft zone coverage.|
|2||3||M35||Penalty||-4||We blitz into a QB draw that goes for 15; a downfield holding call brings it back.|
|2||7||M39||Pass||Inc||Another dropped snap. Robinson picks it up and, perhaps flustered, one-hops it to another wide open receiver.|
|3||7||M39||Pass||Inc||Reviewed and changed to incomplete. More soft soft zone coverage and another open receiver.|
|4||7||M39||Scramble||9||Branch(-2) loses contain, and Harris can't react because he's covering a guy who turns into a blocker.|
|1||10||M30||Pass||Inc||High and wide to Butler, who's open. We've covered guys on about two plays this drive.|
|2||10||M30||Pass||14||We blitz one guy ineffectively. Robinson makes a great throw about an inch above Harris' hand.|
|1||10||M16||Pass||Inc||Morgan Trent(+1) hits Golden when the ball gets there, though this ball isn't very accurate.|
|2||10||M16||Pass||Inc||Burgess(+1), lined up as a DE, bats Robinson's pass down... no 60 yard game ending run this time.|
|3||10||M16||Penalty||12||PI on Hall(-1). He's there a millisecond too soon.|
|1||G||M4||Run||4||Touchdown... QB draw. Burgess(-1) misses the tackle. We again blitz from the edges.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-25, 1 min 4th Q. I hate this drive. There are guys wide open everywhere and the only plays that are unsuccessful are that because of Robinson's inaccuracy. We play soft, fearing the touchdown that we yield anyway, and repeat the same mistake we made against Wisconsin by letting the opponent drive the clock way down and score.|
How did the new safeties do?
Fine except for the two 50 yard plays? Uh.
Harrison obviously took a bad angle on the Hunt run that turned a 15-20 yarder into first and goal, but the broken play ridiculousness is much harder to pin on someone since ABC didn't show a coherent replay of exactly what happened in the secondary. What happened is this: someone either abandoned their deep zone or their man at some point after the Robinson rollout when it looked for all the world like he was going to run. I don't think this was Harrison, who clearly has the deep middle of the field. It could have been Adams, the other safety, but if he was drawn up into man coverage than it would be whoever had that particular guy... which I still think was Adams.
So, one bad play each that led to a huge gain and, in total, ten of PSU's points. Outside of ground zero, though, they did play pretty well. Adams screwed up a zone and allowed an easy 15 yard completion but made a few other very good plays (coming around TE Isaac Smolko and breaking up a sure TD being the best). Harrison didn't show up in any way good or bad aside from the Shazor moment, which I'll take from a freshman. And he is really fast. I think both will be capable in time but now is not that time. Engelmon should return for Iowa and I'm very glad of that.
Hey, could you incorporate some Zen Buddhism in this column?
Comin' right up, koan style.
Why does Mason lead the team in tackles?
Because he can't tackle.
Is this causing a spiritual awakening in anyone? Someone should be getting enlightened around about... now.
What the hell am I talking about? Well, Penn State made a concerted effort to throw short routes against him, relying on their ability to break his tackles to pick up significant yards. This worked. Wait until you see the chart. I think this has been happening with increasng frequency as the year moves along and more and more film of Mason lunging ineffectually at people dashing past him become available. Mason is facing a ton of short routes run at him by teams looking for easy yards. He's pretty good in coverage but I think he's another reason our outside containment on running plays has ranged from abominable to "don't look at the Ark" this year.
Is there a solution to this?
I don't know. The easiest one seems to be abandoning zone coverages and moving more to a cover-two man-to-man look but that's a really drastic change to cover up a hole in a single player's game. Morgan Trent has looked good as the team's nickelback--he stuck Robinson pretty well on a particular play--and maybe if he starts platooning as a starter with Mason it'll reduce what appears to be a major liability, but I'm not one of those guys that assumes everyone on the bench is better than everyone on the field. There's probably a reason Mason is in front of Trent, and if you still believe that irrationally-playing-seniors stuff, well, you haven't been paying much attention.
Hey, what about the chart?
|Woods||-||-||-||Didn't see him in.|
|Taylor||2||-||2||A couple good instances of penetration.|
|Massey||2||-||2||Not much either way this game; I'll take it.|
|Watson||3||4||-1||Poor game for him.|
|Branch||6||2||4||Consistently a bright spot.|
|Burgess||5||5||-||Player of the game? Seriously? They didn't pick the guy right next to him?|
|Harris||9||1||8||Biggest scrub to star transformation since...?|
|Mason||3||10||-7||Well, at least some people are closer to Nirvana.|
What is the deal with that last drive?
I don't know. Robinson made some excellent throws but Michigan also played off, never blitzed until first and goal (except when they sent all of five guys on one play), and generally made things as easy on him as they could in an effort to not give up a big play. In doing so they repeated the mistake they made against Wisconsin by not adjusting their defense to a much more aggressive stance. Playing soft with that much time on the clock eats time, often preventing the offense from mounting a response drive. Michigan had 20 or 30 seconds against Wisconsin and just 50 against Penn State. Without the Breaston return they lose. The advantage of having the ball last in a close game is often overlooked and Michigan played in a way that immediately reduced their chances of getting a last possession.
Passivity also makes much less sense when the offense is going to go for it on fourth down. Allowing medium range passes without serious resistance when the op ponent has four cracks at a first down instead of three is a tactical error since you're relying on the opponent to screw up an extra play. Given that Penn State had way too much time on the clock for it to pressure them in any way, the correct strategy in that situation was to increase your aggression, reducing the chances of each individual first down at the expense of increasing the chance of a big play. Again, this is just my mathematical intuition at this point but I hope to back this with numbers at a later date.
What does it mean for Iowa?
Drew Tate's the kind of guy who runs around a la your headless chicken and then finds someone open after a long time; this is a nervous tendency given the events on the fumbled snap play. Getting Engelmon back will help but Solomon is a deep threat and Tate is the kind of guy who can get it there. Given Hall's excellent deep coverage (they tried it a few times and then abandoned it after it was clear that Hall was saying no sale) we should be fine in man to man but there may be a time or two when Tate buys a few extra seconds and heaves it into a wonky zone.
Iowa's missing Ed Hinkel and so probably doesn't have the ability to exploit the Zen of Grant Mason. Their depth at WR is negligible. After Solomon, Hinkel, and TE Scott Chandler comes RB Albert Young with 12 receptions. The next WR on the chart is sophomore Herb Grigsby, who was unleashed as a starter against IU and exploded for zero yards on zero receptions. Michigan will probably be free to lavish attention on Solomon and take their chances on the random scrub lining up opposite him.
Containing the Iowa run game will be difficult. Albert Young has racked up 715 yards this year, which is already more than their top two rushers from last year combined. He looked good against IU, but everyone does. Iowa's two-TE stretch rushing game is designed to spread the defense, attack the corners, and open rushing lanes when linebackers and defensive backs attack the wrong hole, something Michigan's done with frequency this year. Against everyone except Ohio State the Hawkeyes have ground out scads of yards--and we aren't Ohio State. However, neither are we Ball State.
A note: The "TA" category now includes times when Henne attempts to scramble because he can't find a man. Also I've linked to IBFC's highlights on the appropriate plays; IBFC is awesome.
|1||10||M20||Pass||Hart||16||Screen. Kraus and Lentz both get open field blocks and Massaquoi does a very good job downfield. (CA)|
|1||10||M36||Run||Hart||0||Jammed up inside; Kraus does not control his man.|
|2||10||M36||Pass||Hart||7||Screen. Kraus's attempt to chop Connor does not go very well or this could be a very big gain. (CA)|
|3||3||M43||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Misses Breaston on a little flat route that was wide open. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q. Big time missed opportunity on this drive; that's a simple throw that Henne has to make.|
|1||10||M28||Scramble||Henne||2||An actual rolled pocket. Henne can't find anyone to throw to and takes off. (TA)|
|2||8||M30||Run||Hart||3||Thompson's attempt to block Connor fails and he sticks Hart in the hole.|
|3||5||M33||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant gets separated from the ball by the PSU DB, but this was a good throw. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 4 Min 1st Q. Good play from the PSU DB and the first of many instances where Henne can't find anyone open.|
|1||10||M26||Pass||Ecker||4||Henne checks down to Ecker. I don't understand why the throw doesn't go to Manningham. Avant's route is designed to get him free. (CA... close to BR)|
|2||6||M30||Run||Hart||4||POA is crammed up so Hart has to cut to the backside where Connor? Poz? Someone's waiting. Hart manages to drive for a couple extra.|
|3||2||M34||Run||Hart||6||Draw... credit where it's due: Henige/Kraus/Lentz do a great job getting engaged and allowing Hart to pick his hole.|
|1||10||M40||Penalty||Lentz||-10||Holding on Lentz, who got wasted, dude. Ref unfairly blames Kraus.|
|1||20||M30||Run||Grady||3||They come out with Grady and Hart I nthe backfield and run a little trap that doesn't work at all because it relies on single blocking the DTs effectively, which we don't do.|
|2||17||M33||Pass||No one||Sack, -2||Lentz gets killed again.|
|3||19||M31||Pass||Ecker||Inc||They run something that looks a lot like the screen they've already run twice to Hart but is actually a UW-like TE screen, which is all screwed up. The pass hits Henige. Henne needs to hold this a bit longer. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 2nd Q. Lentz is beaten twice by the PSU DT to end the drive.|
|1||10||M29||Pass||Avant||4||Long handoff. (CA)|
|2||6||M33||Run||Bass||23||Sweep with Bass taking the snap. OMG fast. Of note is Hart chopping a LB downfield, springing Bass for another 15. I love that little bastard. IBFC video.|
|1||10||O44||Pass||Avant||21||Play action; the offensive line and Hart do a beautiful job picking up the blitz. Avant is wide open downfield. Henne hits him between the numbers(DO)|
|1||10||O23||Run||Hart||2||MSU-ish counter draw to Hart. Lentz gets pushed down to the ground and when he gets back up Hart's running up his back and the rhythm of the play is disrupted.|
|2||8||O21||Run||Bass||3||QB draw. Don't really like this call since it seems obvious after doing it just a few plays ago, but if Bass had cut behind Lentz he had a lane.|
|3||5||O18||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Plenty of time but there's a little bit of a pocket collapse and Henne just tosses it away. Neither Ecker nor Breaston is open, don't know about downfield. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Made FG(35), 3-0, 4 min 2nd Q. Right down State Street, says Nessler.|
|1||10||M39||Pass||Avant||Inc||Long handoff that's batted by the DE. Why doesn't Steno chop? (BA)|
|2||10||M39||Pass||Avant||9||Horrible spot that's a yard short of where he actually caught the ball. Oh yes: an out, throw's a little high(CA)|
|3||1||M48||Run||Hart||2||Up the gut.|
|1||10||50||Pass||Avant||4||Shotgun. Avant's hammered by two guys the instant he catches this. (CA)|
|2||6||O46||Run||Hart||12||Draw aided by a driving, crushing block from Ecker.It's amazing how there's always huge holes between the tackles and the guards on these runs. Interior OL also does a good job on this one.|
|1||5||O29||Pass||Hart||12||Henne checks down onto Hart's flare.A PSU LB comes up and Hart hits the circle button and spins free in totally awesome fashion. (CA)|
|1||10||O17||Pass||Hart||Inc||Screen attempted. The PSU blitzer is totally unblocked and Henne has to throw it faster than he wants to. (IN... maybe a bit harsh)|
|2||10||O17||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Ton of time here. Henne throws it away even though Breaston's sitting there wide open.(BR)|
|3||10||O17||Pass||No one||Sack, -9||Hali owns Riley and Henne has zero time to throw.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 3-0, EOH. Hali has been very quiet so far.The drive stalls because of a Henne mistake and a the OL issue... same story we've seen before so many times this year. Everyone does okay but then there's a couple of breakdowns from different people and we're staring at a FG attempt.|
|1||10||M29||Run||Hart||7||Really nice job by Kraus and Henige to crush the left side of the line and open up a nice crease for Hart.|
|1||10||M41||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Henne fires this into a somewhat covered Breaston. If he had thrown it a little behind Breaston it wou ld have been a completion. As it is the safety breaks it up. (IN)|
|2||10||M41||Run||Hart||5||Off the right side. Decently blocked but only would have gone for a couple except for Hart's three-yard post-contact mole burrow.|
|3||5||M46||Run||Hart||18||PSU brings a run blitz and slants their DL across the Michigan line. Hart finds a cutback lane behind a beaten Riley as Ecker holds off Connor and Kraus kills Poz downfield. Great read by Hart. IBFC video.|
|1||10||O36||Run||Grady||14||Lentz pulls around and murders the LB at the point of attack. What in the hell is going on here?|
|1||10||O22||Run||Grady||0||This one does not work so well as they slant again and get penetration.|
|2||10||O22||Pass||Avant||Inc||Dear Chad, the corner of the endzone is not in the band.(IN)|
|3||10||O22||Pass||Ecker||20||Dear Chad, this one was sweet. Fits it right in the hole in the zone. Perfectly timed. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: TD, 10-0, 11 min 3rd Q.What in the hell was this drive? Where have you been all my life, grinding run game?|
|1||10||M17||Pass||Breaston||-2||Long handoff; the CB is on top of Breaston immediately on the throw. Maybe if we could send him deep this would work better. (CA)|
|2||12||M15||Run||Hart||8||Words cannot describe this tackle breaking, grinding, driving run. You can see the PSU DB who has him wrapped up going "DOES NOT COMPUTE. DIV BY ZERO! DIV BY ZERO!" as he fails to bring down the magic midget. Watch it at IBFC; it's worth it.|
|3||4||M23||Pass||Massaquoi||4||Horrible throw makes what should have been a sure first down into something very close that we get only because of a bad spot. Amazing Mass catches this given the cast. (IN)|
|1||10||M27||Run||Hart||5||Draw up the middle; more good yards running straight at these guys.|
|2||5||M32||Run||Hart||2||Spins away from a tackle and breaks two more before getting swarmed. Blocking was pretty bad on this one. Almost all of this rushing is coming with 6/7 in the box in our 3 WR set.|
|3||3||M34||Scramble||2||Drops back and panics for no reason. If he sits in the pocket he's got another two or three seconds and Thompson is breaking open. (BR).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 3 min 3rd Q. It's really hard for us to string together drives when Henne makes this many execution errors, so you get what we've been getting all year: stop/start. A couple first downs, maybe we get into the redzone, and then we peter out.|
|1||10||M18||Run||Hart||0||Hali gets free and sticks Hart. This seems like it was slow to develop; Hali got driven back but not engaged and popped back into the intended hole.|
|2||10||M18||Pass||Grady||Inc||Screen is batted down. Riley doesn't really control his man. (BA)|
|3||10||M18||Pass||Avant||10||Slant to Avant which is only really nine yards but we get a fortunate spot and a first down. (CA)|
|1||10||M28||Run||Hart||3||A pulling Lentz has two guys to block because this is a 3 WR set and PSU has seven in the box. You could check off I guess.|
|2||7||M31||Pass||No one||Sack, -2||Play action; Riley does get beat here again by a spin move and thus the sack. Nessler says that Henne had a guy open but didn't find him; I believe him. (BR)|
|3||9||M29||Pass||Manningham||Inc||All day because PSU rushes three. Henne can't find anyone and checks down yet again, this time inaccurately. You have to find someone. Lloyd looks pissed. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 13 min 4th Q. Just repeat what I said for the last drive. Our personell is well suited to a driving, methodical offense with Ecker, Avant, and Hart but our OL and QB are too inconsistent to make it work.|
|1||10||M28||Scramble||Henne||5||The Zemitas fumble return. This looks legit to me. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: PSU Touchdown + 2 PT conversion, 10-18 11 min 4th Q. Well of course we're in shock, Nessler. What did you expect?|
|1||10||M45||Run||Hart||10||Excellent cutting by Hart here on yet another draw.Interior offensive line clears out a big hole.|
|1||10||O45||Run||Hart||1||Uh, yeah, the OL fires right past the DL here. Two guys just whiff blocks.|
|2||9||O44||Pass||Breaston||10||A successful out just over Phillips' outstretched hand. (DO)|
|1||10||O34||Run||Grady||1||The same little trap thing they ran before to the same effect. I'm not sure who this is supposed to fool since we have nothing we run off that formation other than that.|
|2||9||O33||Pass||Manningham||33||The New Math! The New Math! Unbelievable play from Manningham. IBFC video. Sweet. (DO)|
|1||G||O3||Run||Hart||3||2PT conversion is just a plow up the gut against a three man line. IBFC video.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown + 2, 18-18, 9 min 4th Q. Shot of kid in stands pointing to number one jersey, that's damn right.|
|1||10||M42||Run||Hart||4||Run right into an eight man line here, Hart squeaks out a few yards but fumbles at the end of the play.|
|2||6||M46||Run||Hart||3||I can't see this play because Michigan is at the line, snapping the ball right as the replay is showing Hart's fumble... obviously they intentionally did this to prevent a review, and saved the possession.|
|3||3||M49||Pass||Avant||7||Slant once again; Zemitas doesn't seem interested in covering this particular route.(CA)|
|1||10||O44||Pass||Hart||5||Screen that Hart has no business making any yards on, but he makes two guys miss and creates five from nothing.(CA)|
|2||5||O39||Run||Grady||6||Grady finally shows that bowling ball stuff, meeting Poz at the LOS and plowing him seven yards backwards. IBFC video.|
|1||10||O33||Pass||Avant||Inc||Play action. Henne throws away the deep out because Avant is covered. (TA)|
|2||10||O33||Pass||Tabb||3||Long handoff. This looks like it should be good at the snap but the PSU CBs don't fear the speed nearly as much as MSU, so they read and come up to tackle nicely.(CA)|
|3||7||O30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant's blanketed by King and I think Henne's just getting rid of this one. Another example of his allergy to throwing to Avant in the endzone. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Made FG(47), 21-18, 4 min 4th Q. Jesus, Rivas. That tied a career high and he had like 10 extra yards on it. Michigan clearly has to show that it can go deep more frequently. This whole game we try it twice, on this most recent play and the Manningham bomb. We have to try to get Breaston and Tabb open if only to give them something to think about.|
|1||10||O40||Run||Hart||2||Another run into an eight man front. This whole sequence of playcalls will get discussed below. The OL does an okay job but there aren't any creases with eight guys there. OMG! OMG! PATERNO GETS TWO SECONDS ADDED! CHEETERZ!|
|2||7||O38||Pass||Avant||3||Long handoff. If you're going to throw this I don't think it should be to Avant. It should be Breaston or TNM.(CA)|
|3||5||O35||Run||Hart||1||No fewer than nine in the box at the moment.|
|Drive Notes: 15 yard pooch punt (YAY!!!), 21-18, 3 min 4th Q. See below for discussion.|
|1||10||M47||Pass||Avant||17||Almost pulled him out of bounds but it's good enough.(CA)|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Tabb||4||Why are we throwing routes like this with 30-something seconds left in the game?(CA)|
|2||6||O32||Pass||Ecker||5||Little out route. Still dislike the playcalling.(CA)|
|3||1||O27||Run||Hart||10||Draw to Hart against like five guys in the box. The right thing to do against the D presented with a TO; it was a guaranteed first down and you don't want to throw an incomplete here, then be faced with even less time on the clock and be forced to get a yard. Get OOB quicker, Hart.|
|1||10||O16||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Thrown to a covered breaston at the LOS. Throwing this route at this point in the game is inexcusable. (BR)|
|2||10||O16||Pass||Manningham||6||This one's better since Manningham's right at the sidelines and just gets OOB immediately for something of a gain. (CA)|
|3||4||O10||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Tyrone Butterfield anyone? This is another inexcusable route and throw combination with six seconds left in the game. It's endzone or nothing here. If this isn't dropped it's game over man.(BR)|
|4||4||O10||Pass||Manningham||10||Touchdown. Breaston's drag route gets the safety to step the wrong way and it's over. You do not fuck with The New Math. And of course... IBFC video. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-25, EOG. I watched the final play like 20 times. The little "10 sec rewind" button on my DVR is teh sweet.|
So what does Mr. Rational Analysis think?
He's a little pissed off.
Let's discuss the playcalling after the Hall interception: it was largely inexcusable. To Carr's credit, he seems to realize that he erred after watching what unfolded after his reversion (and yes, it was a reversion) to 1997 Carr.
However, I don't think he correctly diagnoses what he did wrong. Play by play:
- First and Ten: Somewhat questionable given the obviously stacked line Michigan was playing against but not too bad. Forces them to use their first timeout and gives the best and most consistent player on offense an opportunity to make some yards. The time situation is such that you need to rip a couple TOs away
- Second and Eight. I question the player and the play. Try to get someone moving before the snap and throw them something akin to the slip screen we used a couple times against Wisconsin with Manningham or Breaston; the block provided by the other WR provides a much greater screwup potential for the D. As it was the DB just had to form up on Avant and wait.
- Third and Five. Just the wrong thing to do. Stripping the last TO here is not nearly as useful as taking a shot at a killer first down that would drive the clock down under a minute and put UM very close to strangling the game. PSU dared Michigan to throw, as they had to (allowing a three yard run here is devastating), but Michigan backed down.
- Fourth and Disaster.Carr's comments reveal that he thinks he should have been more aggressive on the previous plays but does not mention anything about the huge error here on fourth down when Carr punted. Michigan had a fourth and four with just under three minutes to go in the game against a team that had expended its timeouts. A first down essentially ends the game given that Michigan would have three plays to run about 40 to 45 seconds off the clock plus a full 25 seconds after the first down. In total that's going to wind the clock to about 20 seconds before a second fourth down, estimating conservatively. Michigan traded the ability to end the game for fifteen yards of field position, which is a complete disaster. The probability of making that fourth down is probably around 40%; the decision isn't even close.
In this situation there is some utility to getting a first down immediately but there is a huge advantage in one once Penn State has expended a timeout or two, so the first two plays, which set Michigan up for a medium-length conversion, were good ones. The third and fourth down calls were not. Michigan would be very close to ending the game if they convert on third down and would for all intents and purposes have ended with a fourth down conversion. The run into a nine man front on third and five was a terrible decision; the punt on fourth down was worse.
Was that you screaming about how Henne should be sent to the gulag after the fumble?
Proved you wrong, huh?
I'm sad to say not really. Even on the final, game-winning drive he made two giant mental errors on throws to Breaston that would have almost certainly meant a loss if caught. Check the chart:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
Given the preponderance of screens and long handoffs (12 in total, 1 IN, one BA), Henne had a really bad day. On downfield throws he was acceptable or better on 14 of them and had 16 instances where he either missed, threw the ball away because no one was open, or messed up his read. Penn State is a good defense but when Michigan dropped back to pass the ball didn't even get in a place where it could possibly be caught more than 50% of the time, and several of the instances in which it did were little checkdowns.
The last drive was a microcosm of his day. The two throws to Breaston were the work of someone who does not understand the situation he finds himself in. If either of those is caught, we almost certainly lose. The checkdown to Manningham was a good decision that got us six critical yards and didn't run much time off the clock since Manningham just fell out of bounds. And then the final play was perfectly timed, read, and thrown.
Hell, the last drive was a microcosm of his season. Occasional brilliance, occasional meh, and a large number of questionable decisions/throws. If he had missed Avant in the corner of the endzone it would have been an exact replication. I know Carr said that anyone criticising Henne doesn't know what he's talking about, but hell, he punted on that fourth and four. He's not one to talk. Is Henne's inability to find open receivers downfield and excessive reliance on his checkdown routes a product of Carr's huge aversion to turnovers, as commenters have suggested? There's no way to know without being at practice, watching Carr tatoo "I WILL NOT THROW INTERCEPTIONS" onto his chi points or whatever. I think Michigan would very much like him to throw downfield to open receivers and has called a large number of plays that have emphasized this idea; I also think that when Henne is called to "exploit the middle of the field" he has more often than not made bad decisions. On the coaches? Maybe, but given their track record and how Henne's progress or lack thereof significantly departs from said track record I think the guy responsible is wearing #7.
Have anything nice to say, Mr. Grouchy?
I love Mike Hart sooooo much. He has a nickname after that driving, wonderful run: "DOES NOT COMPUTE." Mario Manningham is also super dreamy.
Special credit should also be offered to the offensive line, especially Steno, Henige, and Kraus. Lentz and Riley both suffered stretches where they got beat and thus killed Michigan drives but the left side of the line was very, very solid all day. Ecker also did a good job blocking on several of Hart's better runs.
Avant is Avant.
And, since I don't have a special teams section, you have to credit Breaston's returns. He put together a second strong game and if Henne had been more accurate on a couple passes would have put together a very nice combined yardage total. The return to midfield on the final drive was just as important as either of The New Math's touchdowns and he's looking OMG open on his routes now. It seems like that rumored hamstring injury was indeed legit and negative, and it seems like he's either almost totally or just totally healthy at this point. He's re-emerging into a weapon.
OMG REFEREES OMG!!!
How did you get in here?
All right: Michigan did benefit from two fortunate spots, but it also got screwed on one. Since Michigan got the first down when screwed and punted soon after on the fortunate ones the game was not unduly affected by either.
I have no idea whether the Avant catch was actually a catch or not. His toe clearly impacts the turf first in-bounds and is followed quite quickly by the heel out of bounds. I haven't seen anything conclusive either way from the rulebook. If Avant had been facing the other direction and his toe had clearly been in there's no controversy, so I'm inclined to think it's good.
The reason the Hart fumble was not reviewed was because Michigan rushed to the line after said play and snapped it before anyone had a chance to look at it. Credit Carr for saving the possession there; you can't blame the referees.
What does it mean for Iowa?
I feel much better about Michigan's ability to run against the Hawkeyes after watching the PSU game and Iowa's game against IU. Michigan did a decent to good job against an intimidating front four and a very good set of linebackers while Iowa struggled to pressure IU's Blake Powers all day. Michigan's weakness on the right side of the line may not affect them much against the Hawkeyes--I wouldn't expect three dead drives because of it. Michigan's ability to get Ecker and Kraus out on linebackers is also heartening; we'll have to block Hodge and Greenway to get the draw game going and we should be able to do so.
As far as passing, I think we're stuck with this version of Henne for the rest of the year, but things should get better at Kinnick. Iowa has two starting DBs down with ankle sprains who are questionable for Saturday. Even if they return they probably won't be 100%. Henne should have an easier time of finding open receivers than he did against Penn State, especially if Manningham (who was hardly used until late) is a bigger part of the passing game and Breaston can finally get some balls thrown to him. Michigan must throw deep more to open up the long handoff/screen game that they'll have to use to move the sticks. I expect a more consistent performance against an Iowa defense that doesn't seem nearly as intimidating without Roth and Babineaux, but not a great one.
|1||10||O20||Pass||13||Play action sucks everyone in and they waggle to Wheelwright. Jamar Adams is the nearest.|
|1||10||O33||Run||3||Maroney goes off tackle. Dave Harris(+1) stays on his feet in the face of a chop and sticks him.|
|2||7||O36||Pass||9||Triple stack screen that we essentially concede 10 yards on at the snap with only a couple players anywhere near the screen.|
|1||10||O45||Run||0||No one on Minnesota picks up a block. Harris(+1) avoids his man, forms up, and waits for help to arrive.|
|2||10||O45||Pass||Inc||Cupito tries to pump fake and the ball comes out.|
|3||10||O45||Pass||10||Wheelwright runs a simple out at the sticks in front of Mason(-1).|
|1||10||M45||Run||1||Again the Gophers can't get guys blocked on the pull. Burgess(+1) makes the dogde and slows him down long enough for Massey(+1) to make the tackle.|
|2||9||M44||Run||5||Triple stack again, they hand off to Russell up the middle. The Minnesota OL gets a good push, though Watson holds his ground and Russell has to cut back a little.|
|3||4||M39||Run||0||Watson(+2) crushes his man into bits and makes the tackle. Controversial fumble play. I dunno. Forward progress was stopped but I've seen stuff like that go either way.|
|4||4||M39||Pass||Inc||Mason(+2) does a really nice job on the slant here, breaking up the pass immediately upon the throw's arrival.|
|Drive Notes: 3-0, 7 min 1st Q. Caught off guard with a couple plays (waggle to Wheelwright, triple stack) and Mason has to react faster on an obvious out on the third down but we do a good job against the run here and Mason ends the drive with a nice play. All in all a good performance.|
|1||10||O19||Pass||9||Rollout pass, simple out run in front of Hall(-1).|
|1||10||O32||Run||8||Triple stack; handoff is to Russell again. Woodley(-1) can't hold the corner and Graham(-1) picks the wrong hole.|
|2||2||O40||Run||2||Well defended but can't prevent the first down. Harris with another tackle.|
|1||10||O42||Pass||19||Cupito with all day to throw and he finds Wallace. Adams is again running a few yards being the recipient, but it's hard to fault a DB when the QB has that much time.|
|1||10||O39||Pass||2||Triple stack screen #2. Hall(+1) attacks immediately and slows the play up so that help can arrive.|
|2||8||O37||Run||5||Jamison(+1) is lined up as an OLB on the LOS and just blows past the TE before he even knows what's going on. Unfortunately, he misses the tackle, and then Mason misses a tackle downfield. Jamison gets a +1 because he was supposed to be blocked but didn't and slowed the play up even though he didn't finish it.|
|3||3||O32||Run||8||Cupito runs the option. Harris(-1) does get chopped on this play and there's a big hole up the middle.|
|1||10||O24||Run||9||Goddamn. Woods is in as the DE opposite Woodley on the short side of the field. They pull the LT and LG around the TE, who crushes Woods, and there is instantly a big hole that Russell flies through. Never seen that before. No Harris on this play; Crable at MLB.|
|2||1||O15||Run||2||Maroney up the gut.|
|1||10||O13||Penalty||-15||Chop block against Minnesota on a Maroney stretch.|
|1||30||O33||Run||3||Graham(+1) shoots out to the sideline and forces Maroney to cut back into an agile, pursuing Watson(+1).|
|2||27||O30||Pass||10||Mason versus Wheelwright is a physical mismatch; here he gets inside of Mason and is thus open, but on second and 27 from the 30 this is okay to cede.|
|3||17||O20||Pass||8||A 'we give up' flare route to Wallace.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 3-3 13 min 2nd Q. I'm willing to chalk some of this up to Minnesota being a very good running offense, but our persistent inability to get a pass rush when we expect run is concerning.|
|1||10||O19||Run||0||Toss sweep to the outside. Branch(+1) and Burgess(+1) hold up well enough to let Graham(+1) flow and stick.|
|2||10||O19||Run||7||Cupito checks into an off tackle run. Massey(-1) vacates the space immediately. At this point Maroney 11 for 34.|
|3||3||O26||Pass||Inc||Cupito's wet noodle of an arm can't get it to an open receiver.|
|Drive Notes: 3-3 10 min 2nd Q. We're doing decently at this point.|
|1||10||O20||Run||14||Maroney gets the corner. Engelmon is freaking held here, and that's a big reason why. I see hands outside of shoulders constantly and it never gets called.|
|1||10||O34||Pass||0||Why are they throwing these shallow outs that serve only to highlight Cupito's weak arm? This play almost can't work with the personnel Minnesota has.|
|2||10||O34||Run||1||Russell up the middle. I think he makes a crappy cut here since there are unblocked guys on the side he cuts to. No one bothers blocking the DE on that side; probably a bust.|
|3||9||O35||Pass||Inc||Mason(+1) is in good coverage here but the reason this is incomplete is Woodley(+1), who stunts unblocked on a blitz and gets there immediately.|
|Drive Notes:3-3 7 min 2nd Q. I'm really not complaining too much about the refereeing in this game. Just that one play. I promise.|
|1||10||O20||Run||9||Barringer(+2) puts his hat right on the ball. Before the snap we were in a 3-4 and were misaligned; Minnesota outnumbered us on the near side of the field and ran a simple pitch out there. Burgess is sealed, Engelmon is blocked, and Maroney gets a nice run that we can't do anything about right on the snap.|
|Drive Notes: 6-3, 6 min 2nd Q. Foreshadowing.|
|1||10||O25||Pass||Inc||Play action and a ton of time for Cupito; Wheelwright is open but Cupito misses him.|
|2||10||O25||Run||4||Toss sweep. Massey holds up decently here and Graham avoids a block to converge.|
|3||6||O29||Pass||8||Wow. Really frustrating. Woodley(+1) and I think Branch(+1) execute a perfect stunt that has Woodley flying at Cupito unblocked but it doesn't matter because Harris(-1) and Brandon Logan(-1) (Brandon Logan?) have dropped too deep to prevent an easy completion to the TE underneath for the conversion.|
|1||10||O37||Pass||36||Play action. Hall(-1) gets completely turned around right before Ellerson cuts his route to a post and Jamar Adams(-1) is sucked way up by the pla y action.|
|1||10||M27||Run||5||Harrison(-1) misses a weak arm tackle on a play where most of the D holds up pretty well.|
|2||5||M22||Run||1||Engelmon blitzes from the corner right into the Minnesota run; Harris(+1) finishes the play.|
|3||4||M21||Pass||21||I think Trent's in about as good a position as he can be in here. Given the coverage there's no way you can stop the 6'5 Wheelwright when Cupito throws a perfect fade like he does here. Credit to Minnesota.|
|Drive Notes: 13-10, 1 min 2nd Q. Adams and Harrison both check in with negative plays. There's a drop from our starters. The killer was the third and six conversion that if Cupito was forced to hold the ball for a single second longer he was going to be sacked.|
|1||10||O38||Pass||Inc||Engelmon(+1) lights up Wheelwright, causing the drop. Illegal touching in any case.|
|2||10||O38||Run||0||Conceding the half.|
|Drive Notes: 13-10, Halftime. The defense is playing very well to this point.|
|1||15||M45||Run||4||Hall holds the corner and it's a nice cut by Maroney that gets the yardage. Massey(+1) is pursuing and makes the tackle.|
|2||11||M41||Penalty||15||Really unfortunate here, as Branch gets chopped and reaches out to Cupito to make a tackle. In the process he yanks him down by the facemask.|
|1||10||M26||Run||8||The same toss sweep into the overloaded bunch on the wide side of the field. Engelmon(-1) misses a tackle and Burgess(-1) is embarrassingly driven downfield by Jared Ellerson.|
|2||2||M18||Run||9||Maroney vaults Branch at the LOS. Watson(-1) is single blocked effectively by Eslinger here.|
|1||G||M9||Run||4||Maroney to the outside again. Really questionable angle taken by Graham(-1), who has an opportunity to make a tackle for no gain. Barringer is the one who actually makes the tackle. He injures his knee on this play and is gone for the rest of the game.|
|2||G||M5||Run||-4||Branch(+2) penetrates and makes a shoestring TFL. Huge play.|
|3||G||M9||Pass||Inc||Fade to Wheelwright, who again has Trent on him. This is about a millimeter away from intererence. Trent manages to bother Wheelwright enough to force a drop.|
|Drive Notes: 13-13, 13 min 3rd Q. Defense cracks somewhat to begin the half. Breaston returns the kickoff for a touchdown; Carr pooches the subsequent kick... bad decision.|
|1||10||O39||Penalty||15||PI on Hall. Really tough for him to avoid this as Cupito underthrows the ball and when Payne tries to stop Hall just runs right into him.|
|1||15||O49||Pass||Inc||Play action. Michigan has totally ceded any pass rush in on non obvious passing downs. Cupito can't get the deep out there.|
|2||15||O49||Run||3||Harris(+1) makes a very sure tackle as Russell shoots up into a good-sized hole on this draw.|
|3||12||M48||Penalty||15||PI on Mason(-1), as he gets caught jamming Wheelwright with the ball in the air. The thing is, they're 20 yards downfield at this point; the ball's likely in the air.|
|1||10||M33||Run||4||Russell up the gut from the triple stack.|
|2||6||M29||Run||1||Toss sweep. Adams(+1) does a good job of cutting off Maroney's outside path and the calvary converges.|
|3||5||M28||Run||6||Killer play. Russell is hit in the backfield by Burgess(-1) but he escapes and manages to squeak out the first down. Brutal.|
|1||10||M22||Run||2||Up the gut. Massey(+1) sheds his man and sticks for the tackle.|
|2||8||M20||Pass||6||PA waggle... on a zone blitz where Woodley pulls out and drops too deep(!).|
|3||2||M14||Run||3||Straight up the gut between Taylor(-1) and Will Johnson(-1). Why is Watson on the sideline on third and two?|
|1||10||M11||Run||8||Maroney straight up the gut. Will Johnson(-1) is destroyed and Watson just can't close off that big of a gap.|
|2||2||M3||Run||3||Michigan misses like four tackles. I'm gibbering.|
|1||G||M1||Run||0||A wad right in the middle; I can't really determine anything.|
|1||G||M1||Run||0||A TO before this play is really strange.|
|1||G||M1||Run||1||Toss sweep touchdown for Minn. Crable gets blocked but it would be really hard to prevent this by yourself.|
|Drive Notes: TD, 20-20, 6 min 3rd Q. Complete defensive meltdown on this drive. Really, really strange to see the two freshman backup DTs in on two critical plays on 3rd and 2 and 1st and 10 in the red zone, but the defense has been on the field for about ten straight minutes. We really miss Biggs and Jamison; think Branch would have been of help at DT on this drive?|
|1||10||O26||Penalty||-10||Holding; the play was a play action bomb played well by Hall(+1). Penalty drawn by Woodley(+1), who was hog-tied by the OT.|
|1||20||O16||Run||-1||Woodley(+2) destroys the OT and makes the TFL all by himself.|
|2||21||O15||Penalty||er, +5||Holding downfield on Ellerson after a huge run. Burgess(-2) sits there, gets chopped by the slot WR, and then goes inside of him. Unexplainable.|
|2||16||O20||Pass||Inc||Play action stretch and Cupito misses his guy on the sidelines.|
|3||16||O20||Run||13||They run Maroney off tackle. Burgess(-1) again takes a bad angle, but it's third and 16.|
|Drive Notes: 20-20, 2 min 3rd Q. Woodley makes a couple of nice plays to offset Burgess's bad angles.|
|1||10||O42||Run||-4||Harris(+2) reads, reacts, and makes the TFL very nicely. Burgess attempts to slip inside of his block again.|
|2||14||O38||Penalty||7||PI on Mason(-1). He reads and reacts on Wheelwright and arrives too early.|
|1||10||O45||Pass||Inc||More play action; more oodles of time. Cupito eventually has to roll out and fire it short of his receiver.|
|2||10||O45||Run||-1||Dave Harris(+1) again, flowing unimpeded to the ball carrier.|
|3||11||O44||Pass||Inc||Michigan comes up with aggressive press coverage and sends an extra guy. Cupito just fires the ball downfield, badly overthrowing his WR.|
|Drive Notes: 20-20, 13 min 4th Q. I don't understand why this press cover thing doesn't get used more often. I know you can't do it all the time or Wheelwright is going to torch you (if Cupito gets it there), but th ere are a couple instances earlier when the soft zones let a pressured Cupito make a relatively easy hot read.|
|1||10||O20||Run||8||Triple stack and they're expecting the screen because Woodley drops off into the short zone on that side of the field. Russell runs up into the vacated area.|
|2||2||O28||Run||1||Woodley(+1) dominates his man and shoots upfield, breaking up the sweep, allowing guys to converge.|
|3||1||O29||Run||3||They run a stretch play to the right side of the field; the DL fired into the OL, attempting to prevent a run up the gut. Engelmon goes down.|
|1||10||O32||Pass||Inc||Woodley(+2) kills Cupito, forcing an inaccurate pass to Maroney and ending Cupito's afternoon.|
|2||10||O32||Run||-2||Quarterback draw which Watson(+1) reads and consumes, then has to limp off afterwards.|
|3||12||O32||Run||7||We play passively here. Harris(+1) plows through a blocker and sticks his man.|
|Drive Notes: 20-20, 5 min 4th Q. Goddamn Woodley is great. He does this every game. There's usually two drives where these notes are essentially "OMG WOODLEY"... please, please don't have NFL measurables this offseason.|
|1||10||O13||Run||5||Triple stack and Russell goes right up the middle. Seems like every time they do this they gain yards. Massey(-1) is pancaked pretty brutally.|
|2||5||O18||Run||7||Man... again they run right at Massey(-1) and he gets moved way out. I don't want to be too hard on the guy but they're killing him.|
|1||10||O25||Run||0||They toss it over to Woodley's(+1) side, which is just a mistake. Graham(+1) nimbly steps past a potential blocker to finish the play.|
|2||10||O25||Run||0||Again they run it over towards Woodley(+1) and he holds up at the line and comes off to tackle, assisted by Graham(+1), who makes an excellent play to pick through the trash.|
|3||10||O25||Run||60||This has been discussed. Burgess(-2).|
|Drive Notes: FG, 23-20, EOG.|
Any final words on the game-killing run?
I've seen a couple people argue that Carr should have played for overtime, but I disagree. Minnesota was clearly not going to have their backup QB throw unless it absolutely had to. Their punter had been dropping 30 yarders in front of Breaston all day. Michigan had a not-insignificant wind and would have gotten the ball back with plenty of time to execute a two minute drill for a winning field goal. The strategy was correct and it was not close, especially given that Carr had to make a second decision on playing for OT after the initial first down. He waited until Maroney was stuffed on first down to take his TO, when it was second and ten.
As for the run itself, I've made my position clear--it was a colossal coaching blunder--and I won't rehash it here.
What about the rest of the game?
They actually did decently. Before the 61 yarder at the end, Michigan had conceded 212 rushing yards, yes, but that was on 54 carries--3.9 yards per. Not spectacular but also not bad against such a powerful rushing attack. They clearly wore out early in the third after the Breaston KR TD (unless you think the coaches were itching to put Johnson and Taylor in on a critical third and two at the 11), but that's understandable. They racked up a bunch of penalties early in the second half that helped the Gophers move the ball; those were also more unfortunate than instances of poor play.
Cupito was intermittently effective--the fade to Wheelwright was beauty and totally unstoppable--but at other times was his usual weak-armed self, bailing Michigan out in several situations in which he had open guys.
All told, a good performance.
|Woodley||10||1||9||Best DE in 15 years.|
|Woods||-||-||-||Saw him on maybe one play.|
|Massey||3||3||0||Was generally effective flowing to the ball and only had a couple instances where he was blown out of the middle.|
|Watson||4||1||3||Good but not dominant.|
|Johnson||-||2||-2||Tough to get your feet wet against Eslinger and Setterstrom.|
|Jamison||1||-||-||Wanted to see more from him on the weakside.|
|Branch||4||-||4||Consistently a bright spot.|
|Burgess||2||7||-5||Get this man a protractor stat.|
|Harris||8||2||6||Well, we've got one linebacker.|
|Mason||3||3||0||Needs to be more aware of the ball in the air.|
|Trent||-||-||-||Can't blame him for giving up the TD.|
|Barringer||2||-||2||God hates Michigan safeties.|
The chart accurately reflects what I think happened: the DEs were indeed very good against Maroney. The DTs not so much, possibly because of that stretch in the third. Harris was a beast; Burgess was a disaster, a WLB playing SLB. The secondary was all right but not great.
How badly are we going to miss Engelmon and Barringer?
More badly than Shazor. We'll be starting a 5'9" true freshman cornerback and Jamar Adams, who gives me the willies. The response may well be to sit back and cross our fingers, hoping PSU can't do anything about the seven guys in the box. Against the inaccurate Michael Robinson and a running game that I still think is pretty suspicious that may well work... but there's a reason Adams was on the bench despite being fast and huge. They're young and inexperienced. They'll probably screw up at least a few times.
Also, who's next on the depth chart? Anton Campbell? BJ Opong-Owosu? The safeties are atom-thin now.
What is the deal with Branch at DE?
I do understand the motivation against the Gophers. Woods runs out on the field for a snap; Minnesota consumes his soul and gains 9 yards. Jamison runs out there; they try the same thing but Jamison teleports into the backfield (and misses a tackle). Branch is big enough and fast enough to hold the corn er and collapse on the runner.
Against Penn State, however, I'd rather see him shift inside with Woodley taking on the strong side of the formation and one of our smaller edge rushers on the weak side. The Penn State offensive line doesn't compare to Minnesota's and but they do have a mobile quarterback. Someone like Jamsion's more likely to track him down if necessary.
Don't get ahead of yourself... what does it mean for PSU?
Well, there's that on the DL. I expect a game plan very similar to the one we saw against Michigan State with a lot of zones, spying, and laying back waiting for errors. It'll probably work better than it did against Michigan State--Robinson will be forced to take off more often than The Jesus and probably will make several more mistakes than he did. Penn State is not going to roll over our run defense like they did to Minnesota, but I expect several mistakes from the outside linebackers and safeties plus a few instances of Massey getting catapulted across the field. Those errors combined with sporadic good play from Robinson will get PSU a few drives where they threaten to score--with their offense, even(!)--but this one is going to be a low-scoring slugfest of a game.
So it'll come down to a Rivas kick?
SHUTUPSHUTUP SHUUUUUT UUUUUP.
|1||10||M27||Run||Hart||1||Draw. Stenavich's man sheds and tackles.|
|2||9||M28||Pass||Avant||Inc||Tipped at the line. (BA)|
|3||9||M28||Pass||Avant||13||Tipped again; ominously, Riley just barely gets enough on the DE to push him past Henne. (BA)|
|1||10||M41||Pass||Avant||16||Nice slant to Avant. (DO)|
|1||10||O41||Run||Hart||3||Lentz pulls onto a linebacker, who stands him up at the LOS. Not so good.|
|2||7||O38||Run||Hart||20||Draw. Bass gets just enough of the LB/S to push him just past Hart and he moves through the hole.|
|1||10||O18||Run||Hart||3||This play isn't on the tape. Thanks ABC.|
|2||7||O15||Run||Hart||8||Draw once again. We're in a 3 WR set and they have six in the box. The blockers do well.|
|1||G||O8||Run||Hart||3||Hart has to cut back since the planned route of attack is totally stuffed.|
|2||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne overthrows Avant on a slant by six feet. (IN)|
|3||G||O5||Pass||Ecker||Inc||I'm going to be charitable and say that this was just thrown away since there was no one open. It's either that or another ridiculously overthrown ball. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 3-0, 10 min 1st Q. The runs that work are all draws. We are a finesse running team. Henne had Avant open but just rocketed it well above his head. Four points left on the board.|
|1||10||M39||Run||Hart||8||An off tackle here were Lentz gets a very good seal block and lets Hart dart up for a big chunk of yardage.|
|2||2||M47||Run||Hart||6||Draw. Hart jinks his way through a minefield of guys holding their blocks.|
|1||10||O47||Pass||Manningham||Pen / 15||Manningham is tackled by his man.|
|1||10||O32||Run||Manningham||-5||A reverse that doesn't work. Avant misses his block on the safety, otherwise I think Manningham gets the corner here.|
|2||15||O37||Pass||Avant||6||I think this is a checkdown. (CA)|
|3||9||O31||Pass||No one||Sack / -8||Riley gets destroyed by this Steve Davis kid, a freshman. At this point the elderly gentleman in front of me, who I do not know, turns to me and says "Is that Riley? Pathetic." I've got no response.|
|Drive Notes: 3-0, 3 min 1st Q. Davis is going to kill like three additional drives by owning whatever RT we throw out there.|
|1||10||M27||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Nice seam route to Ecker 23 yards downfield. Ecker drops it. (DO)|
|2||10||M27||Pass||Avant||14||Simple out to Avant which is somewhat overthrown. (CA).|
|1||10||M41||Run||Hart||1||Henige's block is to fall down in the general direction of the Minnesota defender, who disrupts the entire play.|
|2||9||M42||Pass||Dunno||Inc||The offensive line decides not to block the blitzer, who crushes henne as he attempts to throw. (BA)|
|3||9||M42||Pass||Tabb||7||Henne has all day here but can only dump it down to Carl Tabb, who is well short of the first down. (BR).|
|Drive Notes: 3-3, 11 min 2nd Q. Total busts on first and second down by the OL put Michigan in third and long.|
|1||10||M35||Run||Hart||5||This is indeed a fumble and it is recovered by Minnesota. After video review, the player was ruled down? What? The Gophers got screwed here.|
|2||5||M40||Run||Hart||1||Jesus. Davis just decides that Mike Kolodziej is an annoying fly and gets rid of him, then tackles hart.|
|3||4||M39||Pass||No one||Sack / -3||Henige is forced to hold Montomgery, who gets the sack anyway. Henne is tentative and not throwing the ball on time. I refuse to believe that the toasterrific Minnesota secondary is covering Avant and Manningham.|
|Drive Notes: 3-3 8 min 2nd Q. Another big play by Davis and then Henige can't block Montgomery. The OL is killing us.|
|1||10||M26||Pass||Manningham||11||Out to Manningham. (CA)|
|1||10||M37||Pass||Breaston||18 + 15||Roughing the passer after the completion to Breaston, who turns his man completely around on his post-out. (DO).|
|1||10||O30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Tipped by the LB in the zone. He's staring down Avant and thus he's surrounded by like four guys. (BR)|
|2||10||O30||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Sure, throw to the guy with one hand. (CA)|
|3||10||O30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant's open in the end zone and Henne plain misses him. (IN).|
|Drive Notes: FG. 6-3 6 min 2nd Q. I really dislike these downfield throws on third down. It would be one thing if Henne was having a good year and nailing guys who came open 20 yards downfield, but that's not happening.|
|1||10||O23||Run||Hart||0||This Steve Davis kid can play. He stands up Ecker and then nimbly avoids Thompson's block and makes the tackle for no gain.|
|2||10||O23||Pass||Breaston||18||Breaston's wide open as Avant and Manningham clear it out for him. (CA)|
|1||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||This fade is badly overthrown. (IN)|
|2||G||O5||Run||Hart||4||Good blocking by Lentz and Thompson makes a crease that Hart can exploit. Big play.|
|3||G||O1||Run||Hart||0||This is the exact same play that failed on 4th and 1 versus Wisconsin. Again the pulling guard Lentz doesn't block anyone.|
|4||G||O1||Run||Hart||1||He makes it but isn't easy. No pull here just an F-U iso play.|
|Drive Notes: TD, 13-3 3 min 2nd Q. Thompson has asserted himself as the starting FB and is doing a pretty good job. He's not Dudley but he's not a disaster.|
|1||10||M31||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||I think he's throwing it away here since Mass is triple covered, but he doesn't even bother with his other reads. (TA)|
|2||10||M31||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||A freaking bullet over the middle that's high and incomplete, though he has to throw it like so given the coverage. Why are we throwing to Mass here? (marginally CA)|
|Drive Notes: TD, 13-10, 36 sec 2nd Q. Not exactly go go gadget two minute drill.|
|1||10||M47||Run||Hart||4||Another draw; these all seem to open up big holes between the tackles and guards, probably because the DEs are screaming upfield.|
|2||6||O49||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Dropped by Ecker. You TEs are killing me. (DO)|
|3||6||O49||Pass||Breaston||9||Finally ahead of his guy on the crossing route by a yard or two. Henne leads him just right. (DO)|
|1||10||O40||Pass||Avant||10||Wide open on the out, but this throw is not exactly on the money. (CA)|
|1||10||O30||Run||Hart||8||Stenavich seals the DE when he slants inside on the snap, opening up the weak side.|
|2||2||O22||Pass||Avant||Inc||Play action. Henne steps up and fires it towards the corner of the endzone for Avant and misses him. (IN)|
|3||2||O22||Run||Hart||-3||Riley screws up his block, fouling this up and disrupting Thompson's blocking route. As a result the LB shoots up into the gap unmolested and makes a TFL.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 20-20, 4 min 3rd Q. Rivas isn't even close. The RT position has killed two drives so far and there's a third one coming up. I again dislike the call on second and two here, and I swear I said that in the stadium.|
|1||10||M17||Run||Hart||6||Lentz pulls onto the linebacker well enough to crack open a hole that Hart squirts through.|
|2||4||M23||Run||Hart||-2||We're running into an eight man front and tip the direction of the run with the FB shuffle. Minnesota flows to the ball and overwhelms the blocking immediately.|
|3||6||M21||Pass||No one||Sack / -9||Davis blows past Kolodziej for the sack very quickly. Griese starts talking about Henne holding the ball too long but he'd hardly finished his drop. No replay to see about the coverage.|
|Drive Notes: 20-20, EO 3rd Q. Davis is killing us; refusing to adapt to the defense presented to us is not helping either.|
|1||10||M26||Pass||Manningham||7||Pretty obvious screen with Ecker going in motion to the top of the formation, but it works. (CA)|
|2||3||M33||Run||Hart||9||Pure draw here and Hart sheds a DT's arm tackle.|
|1||10||M42||Run||Hart||7||Great block by Thompson crushes the defensive end and springs Hart for a nice gain.|
|2||3||M49||Run||Hart||2||Initially stopped a the LOS by the eighth guy in the box but somehow Hart falls into a third and less than a yard.|
|3||1||O49||Run||Hart||4||Hart cuts right inside of Henige's pull block for the first down.|
|1||10||O45||Pass||Thompson||10||Play action; Manningham was probably open as has been mentioned but it's hard to complain about a first down. (CA)|
|1||10||O35||Run||Hart||16||Draw right up the middle. Another good block from the fullback blows the hole open; think it's still Thompson.|
|1||10||O19||Run||Hart||-2||Attempted sweep right is pretty well fouled up and Hart trips. This was going nowhere anyway.|
|2||12||O21||Pass||Manningham||Inc||Henne is really late with this throw and by the time he finds Manningham he's covered. Probably a checkdown. Henne had to throw it away from the DB. (IN)|
|3||12||O21||Pass||Manningham||4||A slip screen that never really has a chance.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 20-20, 9 min 4th Q. What can you say? Rivas has become hennebriated.|
|1||10||M28||Run||Hart||0||Draw; Hart has an avenue but slips on his cut.|
|2||10||M28||Pass||Avant||12||Ton of time and Henne has Avant on the comeback. (CA)|
|1||10||M40||Penalty||15||Michigan goes deep to Avant and picks up a PI. Dunno, think that's a weak call.|
|1||10||O45||Run||Hart||0||Run up the gut does nothing. Massaquoi has no one to block on the outside so there's an unblocked guy up the middle and he sticks Hart.|
|2||10||O45||Pass||No one||Scramble / 2||Either no one open or Henne just can't read the defense.|
|3||8||O43||Pass||No one||Inc||Throws this away after bailing way, way to early. It's a three man rush and he rolls out, freeing a rusher to pressure him. (BR).|
|Drive Notes: 20-20, 3 min 4th Q. We never get the ball back.|
Who in the hell is Steve Davis?
Well, he's a defensive end from Missouri, a true freshman, and foremost among the reasons Minnesota won. People are just starting to write articles about him, but you heard it here first: this guy is good. Four separate times he snuffed out UM drives largely or entirely on his own, generally by exploding past whichever RT was starring in the role of Courtney Morgan at that particular moment. Twice he sacked Henne; once he blew up a third and two run play.
Would Jake Long have done better? No doubt. But Davis still deserves copious credit. No defensive end to date, including ND's Victor Abiamiri, had been able to take advantage of our questionable situation at RT to such an extent.
So our offensive problems were on the shoulders of Riley and Kolodziej?
That was certainly a large part of why we bogged down but not all of it. There were several instances of missed blocks by the two guards and Stenavich did not get much push on the non-draw running plays (plays that we largely abandoned). The offensive line held its ground and kept players engaged on many of Hart's successful runs, but that's about all you can say for them.
Henne didn't have a great game. It wasn't as bad as the Wisconsin performance but it wasn't very efficient, either:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
I tried to have the stats reflect something I suspect was the case from attending the game but can't confirm because of the way football is broadcast: Henne seemed to throw late or sit in the pocket unable to find an open receiver too often against a weak Minnesota secondary. A couple of these were counted as bad reads.
Four of Henne's five inaccurate passes were thrown towards an open Avant in the endzo ne. Michigan scored on one of those drives, got a field goal on another, and crapped out on the other two. Two of the throws were relatively deep downfield (20-30 yards), the other two were a fade launched into the crowd and a badly overthrown slant.
No picks but there were instances where Henne was hesitant to throw and did not go through his progressions. Four passes were dropped; Henne was also sacked three times.
So what's the problem?
Uh... everything? If we had one unit playing really well we could overcome the plays the others waste but it seems that every unit is the source of consistent error. Henne overthrows his receivers; the offensive line can't block very well; the tight ends and receivers drop passes; the running backs fumble; the wide receivers don't get open enough. No one unit is completely inept, but neither is any particularly reliable (other than units named "Mike Hart"). You know it's bad when even Jason Avant has been the source of a couple third-down drops.
Is there any hope?
I doubt the offensive line gets any more reliable sans Jake Long and Henne's got the yips real bad. He has reacted poorly to pressure. That said, we have outgained most opponents so far and are just a few plays here and there away from repeating that robotically effective NIU performance. I don't think it's time to send for the coroner just yet.
What does it mean for Penn State?
Ugh. The idea of Tamba Hali going up against Riley/Kolodziej is extremely unappealing, especially with Connor and Posluszny backing him up and flowing right into the holes our draw-heavy run game uses. We absolutely cannot afford to spurn the few scoring chances we earn against the Lions, as they are going to shut down our offense for most of the day unless we suddenly right the ship--possible but only distantly so. It'll come down to Henne's poise and accuracy. If he finds a man open downfield he has to hit him: that's how we won the MSU game and that's how we lost, well, the rest of them.