"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
|You know it, you love it: zone left on the first play of the game. Pretty well blocked, but Mitchell's guy gets free of him and closes down Hart's hole after a few.|
|Manningham runs off the zone, leaving Breaston wide open a long way down the sideline. Hene flutters the ball out there, but it's accurate. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Blitz up the middle is unblocked; Henne gets the ball out anyway to Manningham, who makes a semi-tough catch. (CA, 2, protection 1/2, no specific blame.)|
|Nowhere for Hart to go off the left side of the line. Momentary pause is followed with a bounceout all the way around fallen IU defenders and a nine yard gain. Hart is k-rad.|
|O28||1||10||Trips Empty||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Diamond screen|
|Breaston motions over to the trips side of the formation for the obvious screen; Henne throws it wide of him. (IN, 0)|
|O28||2||10||I-Form||Run||16||Hart||Lead draw (2)|
|This director refuses to show the play until it's underway. Ecker(+1) gets a nice block on the second level; Breaston also comes in to seal the last guy that can get Hart before he's into the secondary. Well blocked all around. I miss this play.|
|Cutback this time as the front side is closed off. Riley's actually cutting guys now. This one isn't completely wonderful but does delay his man enough to get Hart a lane. Corner comes off Arrington to pop Hart and grabs his ankles, preventing him from getting another couple yards.|
|Mitchell(-1) whiffs a second level block. His man comes in on Hart; Hart ducks under his arm and plows for a couple.|
|Note that we've spent most of this drive in 2TE with the TEs overloading one side and twin WRs to the other. We do this again and run to the strong side. Oluigbo is one of the "tight ends" in this case. Same cut as the last play between Bihl and Riley with Mitchell trying to get a guy on the second level. He does better this time. There's a small crease between him and Riley occupied by the DE, who's trying to fend off a blocker and is moving laterally. Hart crashes into him, blowng him back three yards and finding first down yardage.|
|Perfect throw and catch. (DO, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q. Less sloppy than previous games. Helped by IU defense best described as "not present."|
|Hart decides to cut all the way back past the backside tackle, dodges an unblocked guy to prevent a TFL, and gets a yard.|
|I prefer the waggle when we get a guy on the outside to block the backside end or linebacker, giving Henne more time to throw. This one doesn't feature that, so he dumps the ball to Butler for a moderate gain. (CA, 3) Still in the overloaded twins formation.|
|Marginal throw behind Manningham forces a double-clutch grab and prevents him from getting the first down. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M47||4||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||4||Hart||Zone left â€“ Iso|
|Yeah, this features zone blocking but the directive is clear: Obi finds a crease and Hart follows him. This seems a different playcall than the stretch stuff that drives me mad on third and short. Oluigbo does find a crease as Mitchell(+1) gets enough of a playside block to force the IU DT back a bit. Oluigbo finishes blowing up the DT; Hart has a path.|
|Pitch and catch; nicely executed. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O38||1||10||I-Form||Run||17||Jackson||Zone right (2)|
|Against the strength of the formation and another cutback lane. Oluigbo(+1) deftly pilots a filling linebacker out of the play. The backside is two blocked IU guys, cavernous space, and a safety trying to fill. Jackson bursts through a tackler near the LOS and rips off a major chunk of yards.|
|O21||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Zone right|
|Kraus cuts the DT, totally eliminating him and opening up a huge cutback lane in the middle of the field. Hart makes a brilliant in-out cut that had him free for a big gainer but stumbles at the last moment.|
|Token draw fake; Butler finds himself in one-on-one coverage with the free safety. The ball is placed right in Butler's hands but he juggles it and Meyer accidentally bats it free. Great throw; not so great catchin'. (DO, generous 2, protection 2/2)|
|Henne throws a dead-on bullet to Arrington for the first down. Arrington holds on despite the safety nailing him as he catches the ball. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Mitchell's guy on the second level beats him to the spot and makes the tackle at the LOS. Near impossible for him to make that block given how quickly the IU guy read it.|
|O4||2||G||I-Form 2TE||Run||4||Hart||Zone left (2)|
|IU dead from the snap here; DE attacks outside and is sealed. DT also pushes inside. Kraus gets out and gets a second level block. Massive hole; Oluigbo thumps the last defender with a chance. Hart touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 4 min 1st Q. File under make OSU prepare: more empty sets plus this overloaded twins formation.|
|M31||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||1||Hart||Zone right|
|Only six guys in the box and Michigan runs away from the seventh, shaded over the slot WR. Unfortunately, this is away from the wide side of the field and the strong side of the formation. Momentary double on the DT by Kraus and Long; Kraus tries to disengage to block the linebacker but is too late. Hart's forced outside into unsealed guys.|
|Balanced TEs this time. Short side again (WTF). Linebacker comes through unblocked (also again) as no one gets out at him. Grumble grumble playcalling grumble. Hart powers through the tackle and falls forward for his customary four-yards-from-nothing.|
|Well wide. Had Breaston on that short cross wide open, too. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.|
|M26||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||12||Hart||Zone left|
|Wide open on the left side â€“ the strong side, as Hart has a huge cutback lane. I initially thought this was a draw due to Henne's straight-ish dropback and Hart's immediate backside cut. A planned playcall? I do know that the backside DE flies up towards Henne, opening this up. Hart gets past the linebacker shaded over the slot WR and slips a couple tackles. I heart Hart.|
|M38||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||62||Breaston||Hello, Nurse (2)|
|Dude, like, we could have used that versus ND last year. I keed, I keed. Post and go pwns Meyers; Henne drops it in his midsection; Breaston catches it yay. (DO, 2, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 10 min 2nd Q. Dear Bill Curry, if our biggest concern versus OSU is people tracking down Steve Breaston from behind I'll take that chance.|
|O49||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Zone right|
|Hart cuts back behind Kraus. A linebacker has an angle and gets a hand on him a couple yards downfield. This is not enough to slow him down. He stumbles and powers and generally Mike Harts his way for six yards, tacklers draped.|
|Balanced TEs. Not much room; Minor hops inside an attempted arm tackle. Bihl(+1) is driving his man well downfield, allowing Minor to follow him for near first-down yardage.|
|O40||3||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||0||Hart||Zone left|
|A linebacker isn't blocked. He flows down the line, steps up through a crease and hits Hart in the backfield. Another run to the short side, not that it would have mattered much.|
|O40||4||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||7||Hart||Zone left|
|Same formation, same play. This time there's a gap between Long and Kraus. Long's kicked his guy out and for some reason the Indiana DT gets sealed instantly, dooming the Hoosiers.|
|O33||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||-2||Minor||Zone right|
|I'm not sure what the deal is on this play. There's a huge gap between Bihl and Kraus, especially with Oluigbo flying up into it to pound the linebacker, but Minor hesitates and runs into a mass of blockers and defenders on the left side. Theory: one of those counter-zone plays that Minor screwed up. Acres on the backside here, which is also the strength of the formation.|
|I guess you could blame Jackson for this shaky blitz pickup, but two more guys come free, forcing Henne to step up into the pocket and the two remaining Hoosier pass rushers. Ugly all around. (PR, protection 0/2, -1 Jackson, -1 Kraus/Bihl)|
|O36||3||13||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||22||Ecker||Deep cross (2)|
|Protection is great, great, great this time. Henne sits back in the pocket and fires, hitting Ecker in the numpers past the sticks. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Ecker follows up his nice catch with a crappy block. Kendal blows him backwards. It forces Jackson to cut back inside, then outside, disrupting the play's timing and screwing up what's otherwise a big gain.|
|Hey... at least it's his second read. With no one occupying the corner in the short zone, he's free to drift back and step in front of Henne's pass. (BR, Breaston, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-3, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|M41||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Hart||Zone right|
|Eighth guy in the box for the first time this game â€“ Indiana perceives that the scoring offense has gone in the box, perhaps. Kraus' man gets playside of him and engages Hart at the LOS, making the tackle. Decent crease otherwise.|
|Minor chooses to plow ahead; I think he's got a major lane to the right that he misses. Plowing ahead is good for about four, as the Indiana DL has given up the ghost when it comes to holding up at the POA.|
|Oluigbo lined up at TE. He's beat by his man after the PA fake to the inside, forcing Hart to pick him up and leaving a blitzer from the outside unblocked. Henne stands in and rifles a pass 20 yards downfield that hits Breaston in the chest as he's being hit. (DO, 3, protection 1/2, -1 Oluigbo)|
|See, this is why I think we have more running plays in the playbook than zone right, zone left, and draw: Riley's first two steps here are parallel to the LOS â€“ almost backwards â€“ and he only engages his guy once he knows he's got the outside shoulder. He's sealed, and this play is supposed to go outside the tackle. Early in the year I labeled stuff that seemed like it was supposed to go like this "off tackle," then decided everything was the same and just went with "zone right/left"... now I'm not so sure. Anyway: yes, Riley seals his guy. Manningham, motioned in presnap, gets out and blocks a linebacker, as does Butler. Jackson goes off tackle for a nice gain. I mutter and type in "zone right."|
|Grumble! Also think this is planned to go the backside, as we fake an end around. This holds the backside DE and opens up a cutback lane that Jackson exploits like whoah.|
|O17||1||10||Ace||Run||16||Jackson||Zone left (2)|
|Not so grumble. Here Long engages right away, making me think this is a traditonal zone left. It goes outside anyway â€“ great second-level blocks by Butler and Kraus; Long seals his guy. Breaston's motioned in and is trying to deal with a safety. When Jackson gets to the outside he makes a smart cut upfield when he clearly had a pretty good gain outside. The smart cut carries him past Breaston's guy and another player trying to get outside, getting down to the one.|
|O1||1||G||I-Form 2TE||Run||1||Jackson||Zone left|
|Met at the LOS; Jackson gets his pads down and powers through. A well-deserved touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed XP), 34-3, 5 min 3rd Q. I don't get why Jackson was the starter for most of the year when Hart went out. Grady potential whatever but on the field Jackson has owned him. I wonder if history would have been different if he wasn't injured early in Hart's freshman year. He must have been better than Underwood. If Grady gets any carries versus OSU he must have incriminating photos of Carr.|
|IU cuts off the play side with a blitz. Jackson cuts back finds more bodies, cuts back some more... space. Cuts up past Mike Massey then bounces it out again. Nice run. Why can't you be a freshman?|
|Zirbel and Boren in on the left side now. This run in stuffed as there's no crease on the left; unblocked linebacker on the second level finishes the play|
|Coupled with an end-around fake and designed to go off right tackle. The backside guys don't take the bait this time.|
|Zirbel is owned by Kenny Kendal. If we're going to get a QB killed subbing for Long, could it please be Forcier?|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-3, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Notice all the 2TE sets? I imagine we wanted to use these all year but with Ecker and Massey out (plus Butler suspended one game) we never really got the opportunity.|
|Good job by Boren to ride his guy out, providing a lane. IU's defenders are overrunning the play.|
|Will Paul in. This is like that window in the fourth quarter of a MNF game where you talk about anything other than the game.|
|Brown needs work. Should have redshirted.|
|AAAAARGH YOU'RE GOING TO GET HENNE KILLED AGAIN. Oh. Screen. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-3, 8 min 4th Q. Next drive features Chris Richards; charting ceases.|
- Savoy now has zero reception for seven yards; he's the all time leader in YPC.
- Forcier is all runny.
- Darnell Hood pwns you.
OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU.
We showed a few things we hadn't before, or at least not for a while:
- Massey and Ecker's return also featured the return of a lot of 2TE sets that had receded in favor of the I or three-wide.
- Steve Breaston running a deep route, and catching it.
- The empty sets we started breaking out a few weeks ago.
- A few fake end-arounds that are designed to cut back inside the DE.
Manningham was used sparingly, though just about everyone ends up being used sparingly when you only throw 15 passes. He looked fine on his two catches.
|Notre Da me||6||10||2||2||0||1||3|
A weird game from Henne where he was either doing something really bad (interception, misthrowing a screen, winging it wide to Manningham) or throwing lasers twenty-to-forty yards downfield. The lasers outweighed the errors, say the numbers, and I agree. That's partially an artifact of playing Saturday's red-clad men that claim they are a secondary, but a 62-yard bomb placed delicately between the 1 and the 5 on Breaston's jersey is a 62-yard bomb placed delicately between the 1 and the 5 on Breaston's jersey. Henne was also aided by a couple plays where Indiana rushers didn't come within five yards of him. I don't expect a similar performance against a much better defense, but if we get one...
Not much throwing to go around. No mindboggling drops, but Butler probably should have had the potential touchdown thrown to him. Otherwise, the WR corps was perfect.
More on this later, but I think there's strong circumstantial evidence that we'll be able to move the ball on Ohio State. Opponent running backs in Hart's statistical class have done well versus the Buckeyes this year, but have had vanishingly few carries because damn near everyone is trailing big early. In the pass game, Gholston versus Riley seems problematic but Rueben's quietly put together a solid season. Other than one play against Iowa where he unwisely tried to limp back onto the field after an injury and immediately gave up a sack to Brian Mattison, I can't remember any "aaaargh Riley" moments since the Wisconsin game. Say what you want about the level of competition, but he's done well enough to escape much mention in UFR for about half a season.
That'll obviously be a key matchup, but how much worse can Gholston be than Abiamiri? I think we'll see a couple plays at Riley's expense but my main worry is receivers catching the damn ball.
As much as DeBord grinds my gears, one thing Michigan has always done is pull out the stops for OSU. I expect a fairly even run-pass balance unless our relative proficiency at one blows the other away. No more of this 80% rushes on first down. I doubt we'll see any wacky halfback passes or flea-flickers or whatever. I also doubt Michigan will throw away a couple possessions trying to figure out if they have to get Henne out of mothballs.
Okay. So a part of this process involves saving out a spreadsheet as a text file. I name these totally obvious things like "ufr-iowa-2006-d.csv." I named this file "ufr-osu-2006-d.csv." When I typed the title of this post I typed "Upon Further Review: OSU versus OSU."
Yeah... about that.
Highlights from Dangerous Logic!
|Um, okay. Leon Hall(+2) is in better position than the receiver on this deep ball. (Cover +2)|
|O31||2||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||WR Screen?|
|Playaction fake off tackle is followed by... well, I'm not exactly sure what. Lewis rolls out left a bit but the receivers to that side seem more interested in blocking than looking for a pass. Busted play. Lewis throws it away. Good pressure on the outside by Biggs(+1). (Pressure +1)|
|Crable(+1) comes around the outside, forcing Lewis to scramble. Branch(+1) is on a screen/QB spy assignment, sees Lewis flush, and attacks for the sack. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q. Probably see a fair amount of this Branch thing against Smith.|
|Branch-spy again is our rock to their scissors, as the OL is supposed to ride him out of the play, only there is no riding to be done as he stops dead. Woodley(+1) is allowed into the backfield but is too quick and disrupts the play a little bit, allowing Branch(+1) to finish at the LOS.|
|Way behind his intended receiver; if on target Chris Graham was going to fricking kill him. Or whiff hilariously. Either one. (Cover +1)|
|Nice pass and catch. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, two yards OOB. Receiver ends up bracketed by Trent(+1) and Adams (+1, cover +1); if Lewis held onto the ball for one additional second he was going to get sacked by Jamison(+1, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q.|
|O27||1||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||5||Slip screen|
|Harris(+1) tasked with the slot reciever... moves upfield first (blitzing?) before reading the play and tracking down the WR. Impressive reaction. Harrison(+1) also did a nice job to get to the outside of his man, forcing the play back to Harris.|
|O32||2||5||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||8||QB Draw|
|Ugly whiff by Graham(-1) turns a small gain into a first down. Get well, Prescott.|
|Hall's going to be there, but only to make a damage-limiting tackle. Lewis' throw is low and off. Still catchable, but is not. (Cover -1)|
|O40||2||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||9||Zone read|
|Simple handoff to Thigpen gets a chunk of yards... we're stunting on the left side of the line and they run right at it. No contain there, obviously, as Crable's pass rushing. He misses a tackle(-1) opening up a lane. Adams(-1) misses another tackle; Trent ends the play with a solid one.|
|Weird... third and one and still no Taylor. We line up with four down linemen, but Woodley is a DT and Crable a DE. We still stuff the POA fiercely; Sears (Josiah Sears) manages to lean for the first down. No complaints about the D here.|
|50||1||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||11||Scramble drill|
|I can see Troy Smith doing this a few times against us. We get an unblocked blitzer off the corner; Lewis steps up. Another rusher comes at him up the middle; Lewis rolls out. Woodley and Crable track him down to the outside; Lewis finds a guy and rifles a pass to him. A first down created by Lewis alone; not much you can do here. (Pressure +1)|
|Lewis not so fortunate this time. Crable(+1) knifes through two blockers, flushing him. Branch â€“ still spying â€“ cuts him off to the outside, allowing a pursuing Jamison(+1) to recover and sack. (Pressure +1)|
|M40||2||11||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||9||QB Draw|
|Sigh. Harris(-1) misses this tackle (apparently he's not infallible), opening up a bunch of yards, especially since we're blitzing from the outside. Van Alstyne in on this snap. Also, here starts the incredibly long Dick Enberg interview with no explanation from anyone as to why the game stopped. I assumed the next play I would see would be a third and goal from the five for Indiana. Helpless... rage...|
|Lewis' pass badly underthrown, actually hitting Adams in the back. Trent(+1) had outstanding coverage anyway. (cover +1)|
|Hall's jump is a moment late, allowing this completion. A half-second earlier and this is a PBU.|
|M23||1||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||1||Zone read|
|Graham manages to finish since he's unblocked. Think a charging Crable(+1) forced a cutback away from the play design and thus the unblocked linebackers.|
|Well overthrown. Harris(+1) in outstanding coverage. (cover +1, pressure -1)|
|Woodley(+1) dominates the RT and gets instant pressure; Lewis responds by rifling a pass way over the head of his receiver. Almost picked off by a safety. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 14-3, 11 min 2nd Q. Not that upset about this drive. A couple missed tackles are irritating but a lot of pressure and three of the first downs were either ORTP, an excellent play from Lewis, or a screwup from Graham.|
|David Harris(+1) obliterates this. I am increasingly incensed he isn't a Butkus finalist.|
|We blitz directly into this. Harris(+1) nearly overruns the play but manages to recover and tackle at the LOS.|
|Graham comes on a stunting blitz as Woodley drops off into a zone. Graham(+1) gets pressure, forcing a hopeful jump ball. Hall(+1) is in position, getting the PBU. (cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 8 min 2nd Q.|
|Perhaps the only consistent irritations on the day were these dumb little hitch routes we never seemed to cover. Hall's run off by a deeper route and can't recover in time to do anything but tackle, with the help of Harrison. (Cover -1)|
|See? Aarrrrrgh! (cover -1)|
|O45||1||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Hopeful Jump Ball|
|Lewis flushed and escapes contain. Finds a receiver running down the sideline with Englemon and nearly completes a pass. Two problems: receiver landed OOB and Englemon had forced him to step OOB before he came down with the pass. Good coverage. (Englemon +1, cover +1, pressure came off major blitz and let Kellen Lewis out of contain so no +)|
|Terrible PI call no matter what Bill Curry thinks. We blitz again, leaving Mundy man up against Hardy. Lewis, rattled, throws the ball well inside and Mundy, running stride for stride with Hardy, is flagged for being corporeal and not allowing Hardy to pass right through him on his way to the ball. Also, Goddammit Bill Curry can you for once in your life criticize something other than politically correct coaching points?|
|M40||1||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||5||Jailbreak screen|
|Good job by Graham(+1) to fight through a block and make a tackle; Will Johnson's pursuit also helpful.|
|Hall right there but not close enough to do anything but tackle (cover -1). Curry goes off on some rambling tangent about cliches being cliches because they're true then never mentions a cliche. I miss Chris Spielman. Seriously, Chris Spielman is about a billion times better than Curry.|
|M29||1||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||13||QB Draw|
|Graham reacts to this very, very late, then sort of falls at Lewis' feet as he dashes by(-2). Yuck. He has to get better next year.|
|M16||1||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Hopeful Jump Ball|
|Hall(+1) on Hardy in the corner of the endzone. Great coverage, great play on the ball, PBU. (cover +1)|
|Wildly overthrown by Lewis. Free INT for Trent(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Int, 21-3, EOH.|
|RB forced outside the tackles â€“ good job by Taylor(+1) on what may be his first snap â€“ and run down by Woodley(+1).|
|Woodley dropping off into a zone again. After the play Hall's a little disgusted and motions to the neophyte DB, indicating he needs to get wider. (Cover -1)|
|Taylor(+2) loves to time snap counts, which is why I think he's the only Wolverine to have gone offsides all year. This time he gets it right, crashing into the backfield, disrupting the play, and drawing a holding call. Michigan takes the call on the assumption IU will go for it. Smart move.|
|Indiana goes empty; this time Michigan sends the house. There are more blitzers than blockers and those blocking are overwhelmed. A tide of humanity meets at Lewis. Uh... +1 Harris and Biggs. Note: Brandon Graham in at DT.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 12 min 3rd Q. Breaston houses the return.|
|Taylor(+1) gets into Thigpen's feet, occupying a couple blockers and allowing Harris(+1) to blow the ballcarrier backwards five yards. HULK SMASH.|
|The mirror image of the last play, faking the offtackle right and countering left. Harris(+1) is neither fooled nor blocked and flows and destroys. Crable(+1) also plays this well.|
|O13||3||9||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||1||Bubble screen|
|Well played by Graham(+1). Gilmore is forced to pivot and reverse his field. By the time he does that the cavalry has arrived.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 9 min 3rd Q.|
|Taylor(+1) and Johnson(+1) remove all traces of room in the middle.|
|Pretty decent coverage by Harris(+1) and Crable(+1) closes the receiver down immediately. (Cover +1)|
|Lewis gets outside the pocket... Will Johnson is the guy who gets out there. He's not quite fast enough.|
|Huge pass drop from Lewis... Harris(+1) reads, runs through a block and tacles at the sideline. Great play.|
|Jamison(+1) stunts around and snows Lewis under. (pressure +1)|
|Mutter mutter mutter. Barringer(-1) is slow reacting and whiffs a tackle that would have held this a yard or two short of the sticks. Don't mind the coverage, since if properly played it equals punt.|
|O41||1||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||2||QB Draw|
|Nice play by B. Graham(+1 â€“ this is going to be a pain next year when both are starters) to hold up at the POA come off, and tackle. He's going to be a player, whether it's at DT or DE. Don't think he's big enough to be a run down DT, at least not yet. His lack of a redshirt is a good decision... he's gotten a lot of useful snaps.|
|Miscommunication between players means wildly misthrown ball. Barringer breaks, but drops it.|
|Right: just like their last conversion except we substitute Hall(+1) for Barringer. Tackle made before the sticks. Punty time.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-3, 1 min 3rd Q.|
|Pressure comes, though it's late. (Cover +1). Lewis is flushed and throws it OOB.|
|M37||2||10||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||5||Off tackle|
|C. Graham is unblocked on a blitz; he overruns the play, missing the tackle(-1). Brandon Harrison(-1) comes up too far inside, allowing the RB the corner. Should have been a loss of 4 or 5.|
|Throw is high and off the hands of Bailey; Hall in fairly tight coverage.|
|Graham beaten to the inside by his guy; pass is there; bobbled; Graham recovers to prevent the catch.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover On Downs, 34-3, 12 min 4th Q. Chris Richards is in on the next drive. No offense, Chris, but that == no more charting.|
(Also: Will Johnson's sack.)
OSU OSU OSU.
Things of slight relevance reveal themselves:
- We would much like Burgess back please. Graham made a few plays but also missed more tackles than Burgess has all year. Report is that he was left out as a precaution and will be fine for OSU. Hopefully that's true or we can expect a couple extra Troy Smith first downs via land.
- Expect a lot of 3-3-5 against the Buckeye spread, a lot of instances where six guys threaten at the line and then random players back off at the snap, including Jamison and Woodley.
- We'll probably use this DT spy thing quite a bit to capture a flushing Smith and shut down screens and the like.
- Terrance Taylor might not get much run unless the Bucks line up in some more conventional sets, which would be a shame. But English clearly has a preference for this 3-3-5 when he feels the run is not a big threat. We'll see.
|Woodley||3||3||Few decent plays in limited opportunities, but not a huge impact.|
|Taylor||5||5||Hardly played but made instant impact when he did, though that snap-timing thing has backfired more often than not this year.|
|Branch||2||2||Lifted midway through the second, I think, with an ankle ding.|
|Jamison||3||-||3||Could be key versus OSU.|
|Harris||9||1||8||I'm seriously. Never comes off the field, missed like his second or third tackle of the year against IU. A blitzer, a run-stuffer, a goddamn linebacking ninja.|
|C. Graham||3||4||-1||Get well soon, Prescott.|
|Hall||5||5||Maybe I could have dinged him for a couple of those stupid hitch routes, but it's not like he was ever badly out of position.|
|Trent||3||-||3||Not tested except deep, really. INT was a gift.|
|"Pressure"||8||1||7||Again very good though depressed by many short drops.|
|"Coverage"||10||5||5||Almost perfect except for -- yup -- stupid hitches.|
Story here is the linebackers: Harris was outstanding; Graham a major dropoff from Burgess. (This is better than last year, when bench scrubs who replaced starters maddeningly outplayed the starters.)
What about this rumoured "vulnerable secondary"?
Uh... okay. Michigan's now up to 11th in pass defense efficiency after the IU game. This is vulnerability? Yeah, I guess Brandon Harrison is short and misses more tackles than I'd like but an Ohio State gameplan that revolves around OSU's third WR would be AOK with any Michigan fan you choose to query. Leon Hall is going to be a top ten pick in the NFL draft; Kiper ranks Jamar Adams as one of his top five junior safeties, and, uh, Morgan Trent has been a little iffy on short routes but nigh unbeatable deep, whack pass interference calls excepted. Free safety has been kind of dodgy, I guess, and a number of Michigan's interceptions have been fortunate, but Michigan's secondary is only vulnerable relative to its run defense.
That said, every secondary is vulnerable to a quarterback throwing accurately and on time. More power to him if Smith can do that, but his window of opportunity will be a narrow one if the season to date is any indication.
Any concerns arise from this game?
Other than the obvious n eed to have Burgess back, no. Lewis got free a few times, but twice those were a direct result of Graham whiffs and sometime that's just going to happen versus a mobile quarterback. As Troy Smith previews go, it was reassuring. I would like to order a couple of those hilariously overthrown interceptions for Saturday.
No? Not so much?
Indiana is a fine football team worthy of our respect.
Run Offense vs. Indiana
Running the ball was the one thing Michigan fans could not complain about after the Ball State near-fiasco, as a trio of Michigan backs racked up over 300 yards. Michigan finally got its backs loose into the secondary, getting 20+ touchdown runs from Jerome Jackson, Mike Hart, and Brandon Minor. Meanwhile, Indiana features the nation's 100th-ranked rush defense. They give up 4.6 yards per carry; they're also missing a starting linebacker. This has the potential to be just about as ugly (for the opponent) as the Ball State game was, especially if Indiana safeties react to Manningham like Ball State's did: freaking out and running backwards at the snap.
If Indiana adopts a similar posture -- and given their massive troubles in the secondary, it seems likely -- Michigan will grind away against an undersized front seven ill-equipped to deal with... well, anything really. Michigan will likely run on 80-90% of their first downs again and I'll mutter something under my breath about expectation and deception and ugly statistics as Michigan rumbles towards another win. Pay me no mind, I'm just like that.
Key Matchup: Interior offensive line versus penetration. We're going to be predictable, and the line is going to have to deal with a lot of small guys slanting playside. Blocking them is going to be tough.
Pass Offense vs. Indiana
...is likely to be voluntarily MIA despite the tantalizing numbers put up by opposing pass offenses. Indiana is 116th in pass efficiency defense and is coming off a week where they allowed Brian Cupito(!) to throw for 378 yards on just 33 attempts. Along the way he picked up four touchdowns, too, as Indiana gave up 63 points to a Minnesota offense that's a mere shadow of last year's. The Hoosiers are also 108th in sacks, averaging just over one per game. The invitation is wide open: throw throw throw throw. We probably won't, much.
What we will do is work Manningham back into the swing of things. He saw 8-10 snaps last week, running nothing but fly routes that cause the aforementioned safety freakouts. He was targeted once while double covered. It was overthrown. This week he'll see most of the meaningful offensive snaps, according to Carr, and will no doubt be targeted frequently to get his timing back and shake off any potential rust. With the wretched Indiana secondary awaiting him, he won't have to deal with tight coverage and should have a big day.
Also potentially returning are tight ends Tyler Ecker and Mike Massey. Massey's only been gone a couple weeks but Ecker left after the first play of the Minnesota game; Michigan will endeavor to get those guys a few touches as well. Carson Butler will rotate in as well.
Key Matchup: Everyone versus Traitorous Hands. Everyone except the seldom-targeted Greg Mathews has dropped at least one ball so far this year. Henne's been accurate; too often his receivers have let him down.
Run Defense vs. Indiana
Indiana does run quite a bit -- 341 carries -- but their runs don't go anywhere. They're 88th in the country and their leading rusher is quarterback Kellen Lewis with... wait for it... 333 yards. Nominal starter Marcus Thigpen has been banged up in recent weeks but is expected to play. Not expected to play: their starting left tackle. Thees, not so good. Ball State managed the most success anyone's had on the Michigan defense since Amir Pinnix almost cracked 100 by spreading Michigan and finding small gaps in the line. Expect Indiana's "finesse" (read: crappy) offensive line to try the same thing. They'll try to misdirect us by using Lewis as a run threat, get us confused, and get someone to miss an assignment. This will probably happen at least a few times, but there will be TFLs in spades to make up for it and eventually the Hoosiers will find themselves in third and long.
Key Matchup: Harris/Burgess versus Misdirection. If they get out of position we could get gashed.
Pass Defense vs. Indiana
Lewis has emerged as the starter and can be thought of as Troy Smith lite if you're so inclined, but he's not anywhere near the passer Smith is. That's to be expected, as Smith has three years of experience on Lewis. One thing Lewis has that Smith does not is 6'7" James Hardy, the man who singlehandedly threw Iowa's season into the Pit of Despair. Hardy has nine touchdowns, seven of them in just two games: the aforementioned Iowa victory (three) and Indiana's demolition of Michigan State (four). Against Ohio State he was held in check with four catches for forty-five yards. He's a deep threat and a hard man to stop along the sideline.
It will be interesting to see if Michigan matches anyone specific on Hardy and, if so, who. Morgan Trent's been excellent in deep coverage (despite the referees' strange insistence on calling nonexistent pass interference calls) but dodgy at best underneath. Hall has been an all-around standout when targeted, though that's been infrequent. Michigan may use Hardy as a test case for the MGoBlog-supported hypothesis that Trent's speed can neutralize Ted Ginn. Or they may just let him roam free against whoever he'd like to line up against.
Key Matchup: Hardy versus Whoever. He's their best player and only playmaker.
Another interesting test for Football Armageddon, Indiana's return teams are excellent. The Hoosiers rank in the top 25 in both categories. Marcus Thigpen has three KO return touchdowns and ranks fourth in the country in average. Michigan has been suspect at times (specifically, Central Michigan and the opening kick versus Penn State). Tracy Porter, the punt returner, has a touchdown in only seven return attempts. Amazingly, Indiana has only gotten 13 chances to return a punt this year. That's all you need to know about the Hoosier defense, I guess.
Key Matchup: Coverage teams versus Whatever You Do to Be Good At Coverage. I don't pretend to understand the ins and outs of covering kicks, but I would very much like to see two things: good Whatever You Do and some Mesko kicks that do not have 75-yard Ginn Return Touchdown written all over them.
No kittens; 19 point spread.
- Johnny Sears and Charles Stewart appear with the game still in doubt.
- Our receivers continue to drop third-down conversions.
- Mario looks off or gimpy.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- A couple of Henne bombs find their way into Manningham's hands.
- Kellen Lewis is chased by angry defensive linemen.
- We look crisp.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 3 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for You're Indiana, +1 for They Were Ball State, -1 for That Is Not A Defense It Is A Point Yielding Machine, -1 for Fresh(man) Meat).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +5 for Eff It, We Must Go To Columbus Undefeated)
Loss will cause me to... gibber, blubber, and faint.
Win will cause me to... AAAAAAHHHH FOOTBALL ARMAGEDDON.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: Well, we win, though Indiana is a team worthy of our respect and admiration that I would like to make very clear does not suck at all, not even a little bit, except on defense.
Right, that defense: it's not good at all in either phase of the game and will likely cede a number of big plays either on the ground or through the air. I do assume DeBord will go for Manningham deep if it's available since getting him some game reps and a touchdown or two will make everyone breathe easier heading into Football Armageddon. So the playbook should inch open a tiny bit until midway t hrough the third quarter when we have a six point lead and Carr brings in the backups and runs zone left for the rest of the game.
Indiana's offense has the opportunity to hit us for a few big plays, but trying to run Lewis with frequency is going to get him Branched eventually. I expect a lot of sputtering, one or two long completions to Hardy, no ability to line up and run, and etc. etc. etc. Basically the same thing Michigan's done to everyone since day one.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Breaston touchdown. I have to be right about this eventually. (Take four.)
- Henne has fewer than 20 attempts.
- 30-13, Michigan. (Indiana cover! Look at the respect!)