somehow we're only 124th
Al Borges' 2011 offense has heavily utilized two-TE sets despite a lack of talent at the position (beyond Kevin Koger). It seems self-evident, to me anyway, that putting proven wide receivers (like Odoms or Roundtree) on the field is superior to a converted DE (Watson) or career backup TE (Moore). Borges obviously disagrees, and with the 2012 recruiting class now projected to include three TEs, there's no let-up in sight.
Using multiple TEs isn't groundbreaking - Most pro-style teams have plenty of two-TE packages and Rich Rodriguez routinely used them as well. But why do it at all? Chris Brown wrote commentary about how the Patroits evolved from a shotgun-spread-passing team (with Moss) to a pro-style system that uses TEs to combat blitzing defenses like the Jets.
New England's spread-to-pass became predictable instead of fearsome, and it was up to Brady on almost every play to throw the ball before some unblocked rusher took him down again.
Perhaps a parallel here to Denard trying to rush or pass the ball against crashing safeties and linebackers? Every coach worth a lick knows how to counter the basics of run-oriented-spread offense just as they can counter the basics of a pass-oriented-spread offense. There have certainly been a number of games in the last year where the Michigan offense appeared predictable. Even with a talented runner like Denard (or a passer like Tom Brady) counter-attacks are necessary to stay ahead. Back to the Pats...
So Belichick went out and drafted both Gronkowski and Hernandez...Hernandez is more of a pure receiver, and his chief advantage is as a substitution/personnel problem: If he's in the game, you don't know if he'll line up as a tight end or if he'll split wide so that Welker can play the slot, forcing you to decide whether to put your cornerback on Welker or Hernandez, potentially creating advantages in both the run and passing game. But Gronkowski is a true triple-threat from the tight-end spot: He can block, he can go out for passes, and he can even block and then go out for delayed passes. Multiple defenders have to keep their eyes on him... Of course, the problem for NFL teams—and for college or high-school teams that want to run a "pro-style offense"—is finding players who can do all these things... Wanted: 6-foot-6 freak athlete who can run a 4.5 40, has incredible hands, is willing and able to block 300-pound defensive ends, and can immediately memorize a 1,000-page playbook.
Does that sound like Devin Funchess or Pharaoh Brown to anyone? We can only hope...
It's clear that Borges wants to use multiple TEs. But with 2 of our best three graduating, personnel is going to play a potentially limiting factor in 2012. Moore is the only returning TE that begins to fit the Gronkowski mold of 'triple-threat' and he appears to have limited overall talent. Williams will likely play but (they say) is primarily a blocker. There are walk-ons, I guess, but they're not going to be as good as Moore or Watson even.
Everyone else (Miller, Funchess, and Brown) is a hybrid TE/WR - which we don't really use right now. Yet there will be three of them on the roster. Hmmm...seems like things might look a little different next year.
Brown writes: You must have players who can dictate terms back to the defense by presenting odd matchup problems...Unpredictability is the key. Is a play a run or a pass? Which direction is it going? How will it work? And these hybrid guys give you options in ways that even great players with more specific roles cannot. They simplify defenses by making them uncertain.
I know many of us are sick of hearing about hybrids, but I think the above is what Borges has in mind eventually. Maybe you don't have to have Gronkowski-level talent on one end to make it effective (though it would obviously help). Maybe a game-breaking-mistmatch-creating receiver/end is enough to give defenses fits. Especially, if your QB isn't the most accurate deep-ball passer but is a game-breaking run-threat. In that situaiton, maybe a 6-6 target on intermediate routes provides more benefit than getting little dudes the ball 'in space' or attempting low-probability deep passes.
The top three teams remain intact, with blowout wins in Lubbock (#2 Oklahoma State) and Baton Rouge (#1 LSU). The Crimson Tide also picked up a win in Starkville. Other than that, much is uncertain, as Oregon moved up, Stanford moved down, Oklahoma moved up, and Boise State moved down. If LSU wins out and Oklahoma State loses, a rematch could take place in the national title (with either Alabama or Oregon). We haven’t seen this in awhile: Four games involving FBS and FCS opponents this week.
As typical with the Watch, we’ll review the picks from last week, noting the bad picks, and point out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it is only in Vegas. We’ll also look at a sure-fire favorite and attempt to preview the Michigan game.
Be sure to check out my website, Before Visiting the Sportsbook, throughout the week, for more content.
Western Kentucky (5-5) +41.5 @ LSU (10-0). Result: LSU 42 Western Kentucky 9.
Miami Florida (5-5) +9.0 @ Florida State (7-3). Result: Florida State 23 Miami Florida 19.
Kentucky (4-6) +13.0 @ Vanderbilt (5-5). Result: Vanderbilt 38 Kentucky 8.
Washington (6-4) +12.5 @ USC (8-2). Result: USC 40 Washington 17.
@ Mississippi (2-8) +2.5 Louisiana Tech (6-4). Result: Louisiana Tech 27 Ole Miss 7.
@ SMU (6-4) -8.5 Navy (4-6). Result: Navy 24 SMU 17.
@ Illinois (6-4) +1.5 Michigan (8-2). Result: Michigan 31 Illinois 14 [Props to MichNukeEng for correctly predicting that Michigan would cover]
Number 7 chipped in on two picks, with Virginia (-9.5, 31-21) and Missouri (+1, 17-5).
Trebor loves his favorites, see Michigan State (-2.5, 37-21) but an underdog cam through for him, in Oregon (+3.5, 53-30).
Northern Illinois is playing on national television for the third straight week on a Tuesday night; however, they are at home this week, playing host to Ball State (8:00 PM EST/ESPNU). Ohio teams dominate ESPN coverage on Wednesday, with Ohio visiting Bowling Green (8:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3) and Western Michigan visiting Miami (OH) (8:00 PM/EST/ESPN2/ESPN3). Thursday brings us a pair of top 25 teams putting their rankings on the line, with (#20) Southern Miss visiting Legion Field, for a matchup with UAB (8:00 PM EST); North Carolina visits Lane Stadium, for a showdown with (#8) Virginia Tech (8:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN 3D(!)/ESPN3). (#2) Oklahoma State’s (nearly) point-a-minute offense takes the field Friday night at Iowa State (8:00 PM/EST/ESPN/ESPN3), knowing Bedlam looms; Toledo visits MAC West rival Central Michigan (8:00 PM/EST/ESPNU).
Only three games involving top 25 teams with week, again. (#18) Michigan hosts (#16) Nebraska in a Legends/Bo Division matchup (12:00 PM/EST/ESPN/ESPN3). (#5) Oklahoma puts their BCS bowl hopes on the line, visiting Waco (8:00 PM/EST/ABC); Baylor has never defeated Oklahoma (0-20). We’ll stay in the Big 12, at the same time, but different station, with (#13) Kansas State visiting (#23) Texas (8:00 PM/EST/FX); Kansas State has won three straight dating back to 2006.
@ Rutgers (7-3) +3.0 Cincinnati (7-2). The Scarlet Knights are 105th in total offense (118th rushing, 61st passing); Cincinnati is 40th (31st rushing, 66th passing). Rutgers is 21st in total defense (58th rushing, 11th passing); the Bearcats are 50th (2nd rushing, 115th passing). Rutgers is 2-4 ATS since 2005 against Cincinnati (1-5 SU). Cincinnati Coach Butch Jones is 11-10 at Cincinnati (9-12 ATS, 7-7 ATS as a favorite); Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano is 66-66 at Rutgers (67-56-1 ATS, 40-29-1 ATS as an underdog). Cincinnati will likely be without QB Zach Collaros (1854 passing yards, 63.4% completion, 14 passing TDs, but 8 INTs), who was on crutches at the end of the loss to West Virginia, last week. Sophomore Munchie Legaux (205 passing yards, 53.6% completion, 1 INT) will likely be under center for the Bearcats. Rutgers run defense against Cincinnati’s run offense is a bad matchup for the Bearcats, as is Cincinnati’s pass defense against Rutgers’ pass offense. Collaros is the second best quarterback in the Big East, needless to say, he’s a huge loss. Take Rutgers to cover, and win.
Kansas State (8-2) +9.5 @ Texas (6-3)The Wildcats are 85th in total offense (22nd rushing, 109th passing); Texas is 44th (15th rushing, 92nd passing). Kansas State is 82nd in total defense (25th rushing, 117th passing); the Longhorns are 14th (10th rushing, 48th passing). Since 1997, Kansas State is 5-2 SU against Texas (5-1 ATS). Since 2001, Texas Coach Mack Brown is 112-26 at Texas (69-65-3 ATS, 55-47-2 ATS as a favorite); Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder is 58-39 at Kansas State (51-39 ATS, 21-10 ATS as an underdog). In conference play, Texas has averaged 182.17 yards through the air (153.75 yards in the last four games). Against top 10 passing offenses, Kansas State is 1-2. Texas is not a top 10 passing offense by any means. Kansas State is 6-1 ATS as an underdog this year. Take Kansas State to cover.
@ Washington State (4-6) +3.5 Utah (6-4). The Cougars are 38th in total offense (103rd rushing, 9th passing); Utah is 109th (79th rushing, 102nd passing). Washington State is 84th in total defense (63rd rushing, 94th passing); the Utes are 27th (9th rushing, 76th passing). Since 1999, Washington State is 1-1 SU against Utah (1-1 ATS). Washington State Coach Paul Wulff is 9-38 at Washington State (22-24 ATS, 19-22 ATS as an underdog); Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham is 63-24 at Utah (39-34-2 ATS, 26-25-2 ATS as a favorite). Against teams with top 50 offenses, Utah is 3-1 against pass offenses outside the top 50, but only 2-3 against top 50 passing offenses. Washington State is 0-5 against top 50 rushing offenses, but 3-1 against rushing offenses outside the top 50. Take Washington State with the points.
Florida International (6-4) +1.5 @ UL Monroe (3-7).The Golden Panthers are 72nd in total offense (69th rushing, 68th passing); UL Monroe is 61st (70th rushing, 53rd passing). Florida International is 30th in total defense (34th rushing, 56th passing); the Warhawks are 31st (11th rushing, 83rd passing). Florida International is 2-5 SU against UL Monroe since 2004 (2-5 ATS). Florida International Coach Mario Cristobal is 22-37 at Florida International (29-30 ATS, 18-16 ATS as an underdog); UL Monroe Coach Todd Berry is 8-14 at UL Monroe (10-11-1 ATS, 3-4-1 ATS as a favorite). Florida International has averaged 25.6 points on the year (26.8 in conference, but only 16 in the previous three games before a 41-7 win last week). UL Monroe has averaged giving up 27.7 points game (25.5 in conference). Florida International has more talent and should win, but WR T.Y. Hilton (858 receiving yards, 15.1/catch, and 5 receiving TDs) needs to be productive; Hilton has averaged 54.25 yards in the last four games with 1 TD (2-2). Take Florida International with the points, and to win.
@ East Carolina (4-6) +7.0 Central Florida (4-6).The Pirates are 58th in total offense (112th rushing, 17th passing); Central Florida is 49th (51st rushing, 47th passing). East Carolina is 58th in total defense (89th rushing, 19th passing); the Knights are 10th (16th rushing, 18th passing). Since 2005, East Carolina is 4-2 SU against Central Florida (2-4 ATS). East Carolina Coach Ruffin McNeill is 10-13 at East Carolina (12-11 ATS, 8-7 ATS as an underdog); Central Florida Coach George O’Leary is 49-50 at Central Florida (52-43-1 ATS, 24-20-1 ATS as a favorite). UCF is 8-10 ATS as a road favorite under O’Leary. UCF is 3-2 when QB Jeff Godfrey (1745 passing yards, 68.5% completion, 4 passing TDs, but 3 INTs) rushes for a TD (1-4 when he doesn’t). ECU is 1-4 when QB Dominique Davis (2737 passing yards, 68.2% completion, 18 passing TDs, but 15 INTs) throws two or more interceptions (3-2 when one or none). UCF has largely been a disappointment this year. Under McNeill, the Pirates are 4-4 ATS as a home underdog (3-5 SU). Take East Carolina to cover the points.
Navy -4.5 (4-6) @ San Jose State (3-7).The Midshipmen are 47th in total offense (2nd rushing, 119th passing); San Jose State is 83rd (108th rushing, 35th passing). Navy is 85th in total defense (82nd rushing, 67th passing); the Spartans are 98th (103rd rushing, 65th passing). This is the first ever meeting between these teams. A win for Navy preserves their chances of making their 9th straight bowl game. Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo is 31-19 at Navy (25-22-1 ATS, 9-12-1 ATS as a favorite); San Jose State Coach Mike McIntyre is 4-19 at San Jose State (11-12 ATS, 11-7 ATS as an underdog). San Jose State is 6-2 ATS as an underdog this year; Navy is 3-3 ATS as a favorite. Navy is 4-5 against non-service academies this year (2002 was the last year Navy had a losing record against non-service academies; since 2002, Navy is 16-3 against service academies). Against teams with top 60 run defenses, Navy is 1-4 this year (1-2 against teams outside the top 60 run defenses). Take Navy to cover.
Bo Pelini is 37-14 straight up at Nebraska. Coach Pelini is 11-4 on the road (3-1 this year), 21-11 in conference play (4-2 this year), and 7-8 against the top 25 (2-1 this year). Coach Pelini is 26-24-1 ATS and 11-13 as an underdog ATS (2-2 underdog ATS on the road).
Brady Hoke is 55-52 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State). Coach Hoke is 60-42-3 ATS and 32-17-2 against the spread as a favorite.
Nebraska’s defense is ranked 38th (21st passing [190.70 yards/game], 66th rushing [161.30 yards/game]). Michigan’s offense is ranked 33rd (84th passing [200.40 yards/game], 11th rushing [235.89 yards/game]).
Nebraska’s offense is ranked 50th (101st passing [171.40 yards/game], 13th rushing [232.70 yards/game]). Michigan’s defense is ranked 17th (22nd passing [191.33 yards/game], 41st rushing [130.89 yards/game]).
Since 1997, Michigan is 0-1 straight up against Nebraska (0-1 ATS), with the lone meeting being in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. Michigan had averaged 400 offensive yards with 270 of those being passing and 130 rushing.
Nebraska is second in the Big Ten in average points per game, with 32.9 (Wisconsin leads with 46.5); Michigan averages 32.5, good for third. Against teams in the top half of the Big Ten in average points per game, Michigan is 1-2 (3-0 against the bottom half); Nebraska is 1-2 against the top half (3-0 against the bottom half).
Nebraska is 36th in the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of 22.20 points per game, good enough for 7th in the Big Ten; Michigan is 7th in the country, allowing an average of 16.11 points per game, good enough for 3rd in the Big Ten. Nebraska’s defense has forced 15 turnovers to date (8 interceptions and 7 fumbles); Michigan’s defense has forced 20 turnovers to date (6 interceptions and 14 fumbles).
Michigan will need to contain Nebraska’s two biggest rushers on the ground: QB Taylor Martinez (768 rushing yards, 5.0/carry, and 9 rushing TDs) and RB Rex Burkhead (1072 rushing yards, 5.1/carry, and 14 rushing TDs). The duo combined for 221 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs against Ohio, 153 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs against Michigan State, and 177 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD against Penn State. Burkhead has had six 100+ rushing yard games this season (four of six games in Big Ten with seven rushing TDs in Big Ten, at least one per game; averaging 108.67 rushing yards per game in Big Ten).
@ Michigan -3 Nebraska.
Michigan 24 Nebraska 14.
Who ya got?
I was looking through the MDen website when I found this...
An official TechFit jersey for $350!
I know they want to make money on this but good luck. I don't even think Michigan will wear the TechFit jerseys anymore since they haven't worn them since the game against northwestern.
[ED: Bump so hard. ]
FF 210 - Screen Package
FF400 - Drag and Follow
So this is what I had intended to do with the series when I started it: breaking down plays/concepts that Michigan runs and why they work, how to defend/attack them, etc. Today I’m going to break down a pass play that Michigan ran twice for first downs in the first half. This is a great play that isn’t necessarily innovative anymore, but it is still very prevalent both the college and pro game. It’s called the drag (jerk) and follow pattern.
What I will be doing today is going over this play and how and why it was successful twice against Illinois. I will also discuss how defenses scheme against it in order to stop it, plays to counter those defensive adjustments, and why Michigan went away from it when it was successful early.
The Play – Drag and Follow
This is a great play because it does two things. It gives both the QB and WR easy reads and it always makes the defense wrong, essentially putting them out of position.*
Note, I have done a fairly simple defensive alignment that isn't really that technically sound to face the run. It is an even front with the SS back. This isn't bad against the pass but against the run it would probably suffer. There are many different variations of D, and I some what change the D alignment to help prove my point. It is important to realize that the keys are still there though, I'm just attempting to teach as simply as possible, so the defense isn't always the same.
Notice the label for each receiver and the Zip presnap motion (into the formation) by the Z receiver. On defense, N is the Nickelback (don't hate me, hate the Lions) subbed in for the SAM.
The Read – Backside LB
The QB will read the backside LB (WLB).
If the he follows the drag route, it will leave the delayed follow route open in the space that that LB previous occupied. You see this the first time Michigan ran this play against Illinois.
The LB attacks downhill at the drag pattern leaving an opening where he previously was.
If you are bored and want to laugh hard for five minutes, here ya go:
He walked out today. It's a classic!
"You just couldn't let it go, could you Shannon?"