the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
I tried this last year but then dropped off, but I'll try it again: when you write 15k words about a football game people who know more than you are going to point out errors. This will be a collection of items people send me about stuff they think I got wrong; if I'm sticking to my guns I'll mention why, but this is all very complicated so reasonable people will disagree at times.
Chris Brown of Smart Football added some stuff that's not actually a disagreement but it would be a shame for it to molder in the inbox:
1. Michigan ran this play a few times with good success:
It was probably the best "dropback" pass I saw Denard run. I saw him throw both to the outside receiver and to the RB. In your description you called it a "slant" and the RB's route as a "screen," but the concept is called the "snag" concept (or triangle). I'd say it's currently the most popular route combination in the Big 10, as Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State and now Michigan all feature it as a staple play. I discussed it on Smart Football.
On the backside Michigan has some kind of fade/out combo but we'll see if he gives the QB freedom to go that way. It's a good play for Denard (and Terrelle Pryor, for that matter) because it's easily completed.
[Ed: this was the first instance of this route combo in the game; as the game progressed I got a handle on the combo and how frequently it's used. Good to know it's widespread and effective. Robinson completed each instance of the snag for good yardage except once when he threw the flare route when the LB was charging it down, opening up the slant bit.]
2. Denard's worst pass of the game was the bootleg where Roy Roundtree gets lit up. I think you were right that it should have been thrown to the outside receiver in the hole before the safety could get over.
3. The really encouraging thing though is that he followed it up with his best pass of the night [to Grady on third and eleven]. The long fake bubble pass was fun, but this was a college throw. The best part? The play was four verticals (I think you said it was a deep hitch). This wasn't exactly a "read" route but clearly the receiver had freedom to bend it and find the hole, and Denard threw it in the open window -- this wasn't where he was told to throw it, he reacted to the coverage. Great throw.
[Ed: Part of the disconnect here is I usually put down the route instead of the concept; that's something to work on.]
Genuinely Sarcastic's run chart is up and it's mostly in line with mine, though it appears toBrian is less inclined to give out pluses and minuses. He's higher on Molk than Schilling but still high on both, thought Koger was way better than Webb, and gave Omameh a solidly negative –6. Also Denard picks up a –2 but toBrian admits "this is where the metric is flawed." FWIW, I'm handing out pluses when the tailback does something that gains yards past what the blocking sets up.
Some complaints in the comments that I've been too harsh on Ezeh, and a response from Burgeoning Wolverine Star about the play specifically highlighted:
He picture-pages the play, highlighting Kovacs dropping into the deep middle and thus taking himself out of position to fill the hole on the interior.
Here, you can see that Kovacs is still backpedaling, now 4 yards deeper than he was pre-snap. Mouton is being hit by the playside slot receiver. UConn's left guard has now pulled across the formation and is in perfect position to block Ezeh. Ezeh's job here is to plug the hole that Todman is supposed to run through. He does this by hitting that pulling guard. It's then Kovacs' job to come into the play and make the tackle. Unfortunately, Kovacs isn't done backpedaling yet.
I don't know about this one. I pulled the play to highlight a trend I saw all day—Ezeh getting put on his butt—and wasn't really focused on the action of the deep safety. I think BWS is right that I should have minused Kovacs for a late read, which turned this from four or five yards into nine, but a linebacker in that situation needs to keep his feet and look to come off his blocker and tackle, which is something Ezeh managed on UConn's last meaningful(-ish) snap but didn't do the rest of the day. Whatever the responsibilities of the MLB in the 3-3-5, they include staying on your feet.
MGoUser AAL sent in some clarifications as well:
- On a 15-yard dumpoff to the FB (UConn drive 2, play 4), which I said "looked like a busted coverage" but could not tell who it was on: A misalignment and a bust. Michigan is playing Cover 3 behind a weakside zone blitz. First, Kovacs has the boundary third and is absolutely toasted if this ball gets thrown his way. (You can see he was busy trying to get untoasted, too, when Gordon arrives in the frame toward the end before he does.) The de facto OLBs should have curl-to-flat responsibilities and they both take initial curl drops. The curl zone is a greater threat because a pass to the flat takes longer to arrive and the defense can use the sideline to help. For some reason Ezeh is lined up over the center, then aborts his drop at the curl. Roh would be the hook-to-hole guy and takes a really poor drop which is probably due to lack of experience in pass coverage. The #1 receiver to strength runs a hitch, but given how long that ball would take to arrive there is enough time for the CB to recover and for the OLB to rally to the ball.
- On the next play, a 20 yard power run: I’d give Floyd more credit. If he allows himself to be reached, there’s one OL left to block Kovacs and the RB is going to the endzone. On the other hand Ezeh does everything wrong. One of the first things you learn as a LB is not to go underneath blocks. If you do, you have zero chance of making the play. There is a point where Ezeh sees the WR(!) coming to block him and makes that decision anyway. It cannot be more easily demonstrated than the WR doing nothing, but inviting him to go underneath and barely even touching him as he flails to the ground. By doing this, his chance of making the play went from 30% to near 0. [Ed: I did not minus Ezeh at all on this play.]
- On the next play, which was the post thrown to the goal line but low and not dug out: Gordon was very disciplined here. He has the deep middle third and has two verts coming up the hashes. He’s dead center and favoring either is certain death. For some reason Floyd had plenty of depth and doesn’t close down on the WR with the ball in the air. Could be mental/freshman/other mistake. Impossible to say. [Ed: I didn't neg the coverage or Floyd here; I did think Gordon was in position for a potential killshot if the ball was better thrown.
- First play of drive three, the first ball over Carvin Johnson's head, the dropped one: Another manipulation of Cover 3. UConn was using a levels concept into the sideline (deep/intermediate/shallow) to put the deep third and flat defender in a bind. Lots of time to come open when rushing 3. No idea what Gordon is doing. Also, more importantly this: when M was in Cover 3 vs. no width (TE only), Kovacs was playing up on the line and responsible only for running w/ the TE. He is absolutely toasted. [Ed: I gave a –2 to Johnson there; I've heard from other people that even if there's going to be a window there in cover 3, it shouldn't be as large.]
The overall impression is one of deep fear about Kovacs against Notre Dame, especially in his effort of cover Rudolph, though elsewhere AAL says he's not that impressed with ND's TE… when it comes to the NFL. Okay. Relevancy against Kovacs? Eh… not so much.
Elsewhere, the UConn blog takes a look at their first offensive snap, which didn't go well thanks to Cam Gordon.
I THINK I MIGHT BE EXCITED THIS IS 9000 WORDS
NEW! So I've finally decided I'm going to try to hand out +/- for run blocking, which has been a sore spot when it comes to numbers since UFR started. With Michigan running 75% of the time against UConn, I can't just go by gut feel anymore. I've got enough of a handle on it to at least give it a try. I'm adopting the same sort of +/- format Genuinely Sarcastic uses, because that seems like a good idea, and hope he continues doing his version since different eyes will see different things.
Also, Denard Robinson demands some changes to the way UFR does passing. I'm adding a new SCR indicator for a scramble that is clearly a good idea given Robinson's speed and the down and distance situation. A four yard run on third and fifteen is still a TA.
Formation note: UConn didn't seem to do much, if any substitution. By the end of the game it was clear that they essentially had two defenses, a one-high formation…
…and a two high formation…
…and that the only thing that changed other than that was the alignment of the linebackers based on the position of the WRs—when Michigan went to trips a linebacker lined up over the #2 WR. There was a slight variant of the one-high defense deployed when Michigan went to two TE sets that saw one of the linebackers drop down to the line and the others slide over; I called that "Base 5-3," FWIW. As always, nomenclature is an attempt to be clear about what I'm talking about, not a guarantee of fidelity.
Michigan didn't do anything too exciting except debut this formation I called "Shotgun H-back":
Here Martell Webb is lined up as a quasi fullback; usually he would pull to the backside and block the crashing DE, who always crashed on a… wait for it… scrape exchange.
Substitution note: Nothing you don't already know. No substitution on the OL except for Molk's momentary cramp. Robinson and Grady were rotating in at slot frequently even before Roundtree went out, with Robinson seemingly ahead of Grady when it came to PT. Koger and Webb rotated, with Webb more of a blocker and Koger a receiver. Jeremy Jackson got in some spot duty; Je'Ron Stokes did not see the field.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M4||1||10||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||6|
|Basically an iso designed to go just outside the TE; Koger and Dorrestein double and drive back the playside DE, with Koger popping off on the linebacker scraping over the top. McColgan has the short side corner; all these blocks are very well done. Unfortunately Omameh(-1) is overpowered by the DT and lets him into the backfield, forcing Shaw to bounce it outside. This robs Koger of the angle on the MLB and he has a free shot at Shaw for about one; Shaw(+1) spins through the tackle and gets six.|
|RUN+||Koger, Dorrestein, Shaw||RUN-||Omameh(2)|
|M10||2||4||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Stonum||7|
|UConn walks down the strong safety, so the corner on Stonum gives him an eight yard cushion. The quick hitch is open and Robinson hits him in the numbers. Pass was late and from the stands this looked a little dodgy--there will be a couple additional plays like this--but you can't ask for more when it comes to accuracy and velocity. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run?||Scramble||Robinson||9 - 13 Pen|
|Michigan fakes a belly handoff to Shaw, doubling both DTs and hypothetically leaving Shaw one on one with the unblocked MLB. Not a convincing fake. it's supposed to go to a short bubble, but Robinson pulls it down and takes off, zipping by the MLB and scurrying around a safety, finally getting hacked down near the first down marker. Was the bubble open? Eh, probably, but not for 9 yards. Should Forcier have thrown this? Yes. Robinson? Run, jackrabbit, run. (SCR, --, protection NA) Omameh gets a personal foul for a hit well after the whistle.|
|M13||2||14||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||22|
|UConn's nickel 4-3 is a 4-3 with one of the LBs lined up over the #2 WR outside. There are also two safeties about ten yards downfield. Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) execute a classic scoop block, springing Schilling out on the the MLB, who he blocks out of hte play. Shaw(+1) takes out the other LB. Roundtree(+1) cuts a safety. Dorrestein(+1) gets a free release and has no one to block so he just runs downfield walling off the short side corner. A charging safety forces Robinson outside, where the corner manages to make a desperate lunging tackle, preventing an 85-yard touchdown. BWS picture-paged this play.|
|RUN+||Schilling, Molk, Roundtree, Shaw, Robinson||RUN-|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly keeper||Robinson||10|
|This is a variant on the zone read but I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to be yet or who Robinson reads. I think it's the WLB, actually, as Koger kicks out the DE and all the linemen get blocked. Here Huyge(-1) and Schilling(-1) get split by an active DT and Shaw would be dead but Denard(ZR +1) pulls it out. He's now past the slanting DT and Schilling has released downfield along with Molk. Molk(+1) clocks Lloyd. Omameh(+1) controls the other DT and drives him two yards downfield, allowing Robinson to cut back behind when the LB avoid Schilling and Shaw. Dorrestein is again walling off a guy downfield; Robinson cuts behind; Stonum(+1) nails a corner, giving Robinson room to the sideline.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Molk, Stonum, Robinson(2)||RUN-||Schilling, Dorrestein|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||5|
|Michigan blocking the backside DE; they are going to be reading LBs all game. With the WLB crashing down on the stretch, this is a missed read by Denard(ZR-1). Still hypothetically has a shot at succeeding but Omameh's guy has gotten a bit of push and is set up in the B gap; he absorbs Smith's block. Shaw(+1) has nowhere to go and cuts behind blocks into the wide open gap Denard should have taken, managing to fall forward after barely avoiding the guy Schilling was blocking.|
|RUN+||Shaw, Schilling||RUN-||Omameh, Robinson|
|50||2||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Double the playside DT and contain him, run right at the MLB, with Shaw getting a decent block; Robinson runs decisively, taking a hit from said MLB as he bounces off Shaw's block.|
|O46||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Bear 5-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||2|
|Do isos just go in a gap or can that change based on the D? Because UConn slants into this gap, leaving a big hole between Schilling and Omameh that has two linebackers, Molk, and could have McColgan if they went there. Instead it's just straight ahead at because Omameh(-1) and Dorrstein(-1) have lost out on blocks there are two tacklers and nowhere for Shaw to go; Shaw(+1) manages to fall forward for the first.|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||4|
|Not sure if this is the right read or not; DE is sliding down the line but maintaining some contain; definitely a handoff if Forcier, but Robinson? Benefit of the doubt since the DE did hesitate on Robinson. ZR+1. Omameh(-1) blocks down on the DT from an advantageous position and sees his block spun off of, forcing a cut outside where the backside DE is; the delay allows him to tackle. Crashing safety also there, but one-on-one that could have been a play.|
|O40||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA TE cross||Koger||16|
|Zone stretch fake with Schilling pulling around to provide pass protection on the unblocked backside DE. Linebackers suck up like whoah (RPS+2), leaving Koger wide open as the guy who should be covering the zone he's entering is actually trying to tackle Robinson. Dart hits him between the numbers 15 yards downfield, caught, first down. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||-1|
|Frustrating, as UConn has six in the box and literally not enough guys to tackle if they run another draw. This is a stretch, and Robison makes the correct handoff decision (ZR+1) since the WLB is charging right at him. Omameh's(-1) DT does get a little penetration and closes off the frontside B gap, forcing Shaw to cut back; Molk(-1) and Schilling double team the NT and eventually pancake him but don't block anyone else. Blitzing WLB makes the play. (RPS-1) Run minus: Omameh, Schilling.|
|O25||2||11||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10|
|This is just too easy, as UConn does the exact same thing. With two deep safeties and six in the box they literally have no one to tackle the QB. WLB runs into a frontside crease, leaving no one for Shaw to even block until he's ten yards downfield. Molk(+1) controlled and pancaked the playside DT; Robinson and Shaw banged a safety, leaving the slot LB to come from behind and tackle. RPS+2.|
|O15||3||1||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|SIX GUYS IN BOX ON THIRD AND ONE AT THE 15. Edsall derp. A slightly short yardage variation as Molk and Schilling double and crush the playside DT. Weakside LB reacts quickly and defeats Smith's block but has no chance to keep this under three yards, let alone one. RPS+1. Millen's praising Lloyd, and praising him correctly, and this had no chance.|
|O12||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||12|
|Almost all Smith. Schilling(-1) gets driven back and thrown almost into the path of Smith; he ends up with his back to the DT looking at him. On the frontside, Molk and Omameh just manage to wall off the playside DT; Omameh pops off on the charging SLB. Smith manages to slip through this mess into a totally unblocked safety, who misses, at which point he can cut behind Roundtree(+1) and get into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. 108 yard drive with two passes. Bo, man. Bo.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M23||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||4|
|This is on Denard because the unblocked DE was hauling ass after the RB and he needs to pull it out (ZR -1). If he does he has Webb as a lead blocker, Huyge on Lloyd, and the slot LB between him and the safeties--first down probably, touchdown maybe. As it is Shaw(+1) does well to hop around the DE and pick up a few yards.|
|Watching Rice-Texas instead of this play, come back just as Stonum's catching a zinger from Denard. (CA, 3, ?)|
|M32||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|Corner rolled down into the box as a WLB, allowing the LBs to slide over. This lets them send two guys into the hole the draw has gone into already, forcing Robinson behind the ineffective Molk/Schilling double and into the path of the backside DT, who has shucked Omameh; SLB comes up unblocked to fill but not before Robinson's quickness picks up the first. (RPS -1)|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly lead keeper||Robinson||12|
|Same play as the first snap on this drive and Denard has learned (or just been told to pull the damn ball, getting a ZR+1). He yoinks the ball out as the DE against crashes down and finds himself in plenty of space with Webb as a lead blocker. Huyge(+2) gets a great pancake block on MLB Lloyd and Robinson jets past the first down; would like to see him try to set up the safety inside and hop outside in an effort to get a touchdown. Also Odoms does a great, if ultimately irrelevant, job on the outside.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Huyge(2), Odoms||RUN-|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Shaw||16|
|Seven guys in the box now and UConn sends a safety-type player on a blitz. Four men are in a deep umbrella, leaving just two guys underneath, and they don't know where to go because Michigan is sending two OL each way. Michigan hits the flare. Odoms and Dorrestein get cuts downfield; Grady gets a decent block that springs Shaw through, leaving him one on one with a safety for six. Off balance, he can't put a move on and gets tackled. (CA,3, screen, RPS +1)|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||5|
|Essentially an identical play to the first one on the drive, where DE hauls ass after Shaw, Denard makes a bad read (ZR-1), Shaw(+1) evades the DE and hits the backside of the play. This time Denard actually gets out to block, Webb totally walls off the slot LB, Huyge gets another good block on Lloyd, and it's still six yards.|
|RUN+||Shaw, Webb, Huyge||RUN-||Robinson|
|O32||2||5||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||32|
|You cannot draw up a scoop block better than this. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) drive the playside DT back and then Omameh pops out on the MLB. A pulling Webb(+1) wipes Lloyd out, Shaw(+1) takes out the weakside safety type thing and Millen drops "that's six" as Robinson crosses the LOS. He really is a fantastic broadcaster. Replay.|
|RUN+||Molk, Omameh(2), Smith, Robinson, Webb||RUN-|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||15|
|Variant on the belly series from the last drive. On this one Webb pulls to clock the backside DE and Omameh(+1) blocks down on the playside DT; both linebackers have sucked to the backside because they're worried about Denard and not expecting this to go so far off tackle the other way since Shaw is lined up in the belly spot behind his QB. Ton of space; Shaw just runs by the SLB until he's forced inside by the corner. SLB tackles. RPS+1. Don't think this is a read, think this a called play, so no ZR.|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||-3|
|UConn adjusting to this by slanting the DE into the gap instead of letting the OT kick him out. This creates a mess. Denard slows up and tries to cut back, but Omameh(-1) has been driven back and he still tries to go around, eventually getting tackled for a loss. Should have just cut it outside. The evolution of dance here is for Tebow-style play-action fakes that consist of a single step forward. RPS-1. Run Minus: Omameh, Robinson|
|O32||2||13||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Jailbreak screen||Grady||3|
|Fake the flare screen to Shawn and come back with the jailbreak on the other side of the field. This has sucked a lot of people out of position, leaving three blockers and three defenders before Grady is jetting for the endzone. Koger(+1) picks off the slot LB. Molk(+1) blocks MLB Lloyd. Schilling(-1) totally overruns the safety, who tackles unmolested. (CA, 3, protection NA)|
|O29||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||TE cross||Koger||4|
|Not sure how restricted Robinson's read is here, but M is hoping for man and gets zone so Koger gets nailed as soon as he catches it. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 14-0, 13 min 2nd Q. Shankapotamus punt sets M up with good field position on the next drive.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||Reverse||Grady||-3|
|PEDANTRY NOTE: Since the action of the play goes one way with what looks like a QB sweep and then has a pitch to the WR, I'm calling this a reverse instead of an end around. The play: Michigan runs QB sweep action and pitches it to Grady as Koger takes out the backside DE. Problem: this 4-4 has a weakside alley defender like a Kovacs and no one is doing the thing where they run with Stonum on a fly route for 20 yards. This guy bites but is so far to the backside that he can easily recover in time to hit Grady. Grady, for his part, just runs right into the guy when he could have cut it inside and gotten some yards, possibly lots, and then he fumbles. Not a great play for Grady.|
|O41||2||13||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|Best block of the day for Omameh, who gets under the DT and pushes him back a couple yards. LB is flowing downhill at this very fast so Robinson decides to cut back rather than chance a pileup with that guy and Webb at the LOS. Omameh's guy pops off to try to tackle but falls over backwards thanks to Omameh and Denard runs through it; MLB ate Molk(+1) and Denard can fall forward, stiffarming as he falls.|
|Smith runs the flare screen route, Roundtree heads straight downfield, and Odoms slants inside. Denard throws what looks like a dangerous pass, but the safety coming down isn't even looking at Odoms, he's trying to get out for the screen, only realizing his error as the ball arrives. Odoms catches and quicks his way past the safety, picking up the first down and considerably more. With Odoms coming to a stop and a guy in Denard's face he can't wait any longer to make this throw; it is on rhythm. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Omameh -1)|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|Backside blitzer makes this a correct read (ZR+1) Omameh and Schilling(+1 each) successfully crease the DTs, leaving Molk one on one with SLB, who beats him(-1). Smith is tackled by that guy.|
|O15||2||6||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||-2|
|This one also appears designed to go right up the middle, but Omameh(-1) is beaten by the slanting DT and there's nothing. Robinson has a chance to hop outside and maybe beat the backside DE but slips and is tackled for a loss. RPS -1; this slant killed the play. Run minus: Omameh, Dorrestein|
|O17||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10|
|UConn stunting, which takes the playside DE inside. He's walled off by Huyge(+1); Schilling(+1) absolutely blasts the playside DT, erasing him; Smith shifts outside the DE when he sees the way the play is developing; Smith and Roundtree get blocks downfield and it's first and goal.|
|RUN+||Schilling(2), Huyge, Smith, Roundtree||RUN-|
|O7||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||3|
|Correct read with a backside blitz. Schilling kicks out his DT; Molk plows the MLB; Omameh cannot handle his DT, who comes off him to make a play a few yards downfield. Not minus-worthy but I was thinking about it.|
|O4||2||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||4|
|Basically the same play; Schilling(+1) again does a great job of kicking out the DT; Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB, and Omameh does enough on the other guy, falling to the ground but getting in the way of him.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 9 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O8||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|Robinson correctly reads the crash (ZR+1) and pulls it out, finding himself in open space. Huyge can't maintain his block on the outside but he's blocking the handoff so not his fault. Robinson jets for eight.|
|O16||2||2||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|They do get the intended crease this time (no slant from the DE) but the MLB fills immediately, bashing Smith close to the LOS. Robinson(+1) darts around Molk and has the acceleration to dart up into the crease behind him before Omameh's guy can come off and grab him. He does manage to reach out an arm and spin him down.|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||0|
|The read here should be keep but this might not actually be a read since he just ran twice. I have to assume it is, though, so: ZR-1. Smith has no hole because Omameh(-1) did not seal his man; that delay is enough for the backside DE to tackle for nothing. Run minus: Omameh, Robinson|
|O22||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Pass||PA throwaway||Roundtree(?)||Inc|
|UConn blitzes right into this, getting an unblocked guy in Robinson's face before he even has a chance; a slanting player has slashed past the fake run blocks and is also in the backfield. Robinson avoids one guy, then the other guy, in a remarkable Houdini act. With another couple guys coming in to crush him he just chucks the ball hard, deep, and on a line well past Roundtree. Was he trying to complete this? Does he just throw everything like this and has no deep ball? I don't know, but the benefit of the doubt goes to the guy who just escaped two defenders and is chucking the ball away. (TA, 0, protection 0/2, team, RPS-1)|
|O22||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Stonum||4|
|UConn prepared for this, with the SLB in a position where there's no way anyone is going to be able to block him. Stonum(+1) does well to run through his tackle but he can't make the second guy miss. (CA, 3, screen)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||ZR Bubble||Roundtree||-1|
|Denard pulls it out with the DE crashing (ZR+1) but Huyge(-1) and Webb(-1) both have ineffectual blocks so DR goes to his safety valve; Odoms(-1) can handle his guy and it's a loss. (CA, 3, screen) Run minus: Huyge, Webb, Odoms|
|M18||2||11||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Quick out||Roundtree||Inc|
|This is a quick rollout with the two guys running an out and a fly to test the cornerback in a presumed zone; Denard throws the quick out before the play develops, allowing the corner to come up and crush Roundtree, separating him from the ball and knocking him out for the game. Another beat and he would have probably had Stonum, or the corner would have backed off Roundtree. (BR, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M18||3||11||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep hitch||Grady||16|
|Great protection leaves Robinson all kinds of time, and there's a fifth guy spying. Robinson waits for Grady to clear the linebacker level and sit down in the hole in the zone, then zips one in a decent window right on the numbers for a first down. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|Same as previous plays; Webb(-1) just runs by the backside DE; Omameh(-1) cannot contain his man, and both of these guys get arms on Smith at the LOS. He does a good job of running through those tackles and getting a decent gain anyway. Schilling got his guy sealed again.|
|RUN+||Schilling, Smith||RUN-||Omameh, Webb|
|M38||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||3|
|Molk(+1) gets a seal on the stretch block against that DT Omameh's been struggling with as Omameh heads to the second level, where the LB heads outside of him; Dorrestein(+1) pancakes the DE. Robinson should cut it up in between the C and T but heads outside, where Smith manages to wall off the SLB Omameh had no angle on. This leaves an unblocked safety to fill.|
|M41||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Odoms||9|
|Smith runs the flare again, drawing up the WLB and opening a window in which Robinson zings a first down completion. Slightly high, but ok. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||1|
|Correct handoff with a S waiting for him and Webb going to block the crashing DE. Story is again the same: Omameh(-1), even with help from Dorrestein, cannot contain DT99, who forces himself over into the hole, leaving nothing for Smith to do except run up the back of his OL. If I was grading the UConn D he'd be en route to +10 or better. ZR+1. Run minus: Omameh|
|50||2||9||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|No crash; correct handoff(ZR+1). Omameh(+1) does seal and kick the DT this time; they're running it to the opposite side. Unfortunately, Schilling(-1) can't get any drive or seal and Smith has to cut it back; Huyge(-1) whiffed on the SLB. Smith meets two guys two yards downfield and burrows for two more.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Robinson||RUN-||Schilling, Huyge|
|O46||3||5||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||11|
|The flare again sucks a linebacker up to it, leaving Stonum in a big hole in the zone. Zing, bobble, catch, first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Grady||4|
|Safety walks down. This bubble is the short bubble where the receiver does not run the full route in the hopes of finding space between the freakin' out LB over the slot and the interior defense. This not so much. Odoms does manage to cut his guy but a safety charges up as soon as it looks like a bubble and snuffs it out. Michigan will use this later. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O31||2||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||5|
|Dorrestein(+1) cuts the backside DT to the ground, removing him totally. Molk(-1) gets pushed back and Robinson has to cut behind; this open because of the Dorrestein chop. Omameh releases into the second level but ends up blocking no one, which is unfortunate because Denard squeezes through arm tackles only to take his first real shot of the day from a safety a yard short of the sticks.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Dorrestein||RUN-||Omameh, Molk|
|O26||3||1||?||?||?||?||?||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|TV misses this play.|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|This again. Omameh(+1) does get enough of the DT for the RB to skip by; Schilling seals his guy out. Unfortunately Molk(-1) has a really weird whiff where he just runs away from the MLB, the only person he can reasonably expect to block, and that guy tackles.|
|O19||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare||Smith||-1|
|Incorrect read by Robinson as the LB is flying out of the zone and Michigan again has the slant they've worked for a bunch of first downs. He instead throws the flare, getting Smith whacked by the corner. (BR, 3, protection NA)|
|O20||3||7||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||11|
|UConn in zone and does a great job of covering a slant/wheel to the top of the screen Denard is looking at. Same thing on the bottom, same coverage. No one open, he takes off, darting past outstretched hands for the first down. Bonus: Smith's wicked blitz pickup. (SCR, --, protection 2/2)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||5|
|Playside DT just surges forward and falls, almost cut-blocking Molk. A charging LB darts past Webb, leaving two guys for Smith to block on the outside; the DT's fall has provided a cutback lane. Dorrestein(-1) could not cut the backside DT at all so he's there, but Robinson's hesitation move gets him to delay in case he cuts back around him, opening up a hole to dart into.|
|O4||2||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Belly Keeper||Robinson||-3|
|DR seems en route to endzone when he bobbles and drops the ball. Never really had it after the exchange.|
|O7||3||G||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||0|
|Blitz into the play cuts off the outside and gives UConn another guy on the inside to snuff this play out. RPS -1. Michigan will use this later, too.|
|Drive Notes: FG(24), 24-10, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M11||1||10||Ace 4-wide||1||1||4||Base 4-3||Run||Dive||Shaw||5|
|End around fake from Odoms; this is just a straight handoff up the middle. Omameh(+1) and Schilling(+1) crease the DTs and Molk(+1) nails the MLB; OLBs converge to tackle.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Schilling, Molk||RUN-|
|M16||2||5||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||-10|
|Omameh(-2) completely pwned by the DT, who I will name for you at this point: Kendall Reyes. Shaw(-2) compounds matters by dancing backwards instead of just trying to cut behind the mess and get back to the LOS, getting shoved and tackled for a huge loss. Run minus: Omameh(2), Shaw(2)|
|M6||3||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||15|
|A give up and punt play, which is reasonable given the game situation and your sophomore QB. Except, uh? first down. UConn rushes four and has three LBs in the middle of the field. Smith(+1) gets enough of the MLB; Grady and Robinson get in the way, and the other Robinson(+1) gives a tiny hip fake that causes one of the LBs to hop outside the blocker; he continues upfield, getting submarined, flying for the first down, and giving his hip an owie.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Smith, T. Robinson, Grady||RUN-|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Gardner||-4|
|Correct read (ZR+1) as the DE crashes but a terrible decision by Gardner(-2) to attempt to go outside of Koger and his man when the interior line was crushing that side of the line downfield. Koger(-1) also should have done better.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Dorrestein||RUN-||Gardner(2), Koger|
|M17||2||14||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Zone read belly||Smith||13|
|Another good read (ZR+1) with an outside blitzer and the fake is good enough to suck two guys outside and give Smith a big cutback lane he takes. Omameh(+1) crushed Reyes on this play; Dorrestein(+1) sealed off the SLB.|
|RUN+||Gardner, Omameh, Dorrestein||RUN-|
|M30||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Surprise. LBs flying downhill at this, filling the hole, but Koger(+1) and Dorrestein(+1) have doubled the playside DE, driving him well back and giving Robinson a lane outside he takes for the first down. Robinson is too quick for the alley guy. (RPS-1)|
|RUN+||Koger, Dorrestein, Robinson||RUN-|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare||Smith||8|
|Fourth or fifth time they've run this; this time the LB sticks in the middle of the zone and Robinson nails Smith with a perfectly placed touch pass that he can ramble up the sidelines with. (CA+, 3, screen)|
|M42||2||2||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Bubble Post||T. Robinson||43|
|Dorrestein(-1) completely whiffs his cut block as Michigan goes for a fake handoff, then a fake bubble that sucks the UConn linebacker corps to the LOS in a fashion I've never seen before. Robinson has two guys running wide open and picks Robinson's post because it's probably the primary read; he does this with a guy in his face so it's kind of a tough throw. It's on the money 20 yards downfield, providing Robinson the ability to run after the catch, so it gets a DO. (DO, 3, protection 0/1, Dorrestein, RPS+3)|
|O15||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||5|
|Eighth guy in the box is coming down hard in the G-T gap so Smith has to squeeze between the two guards; both have maintained good blocks. At this point the backside DE is crashing in and the eighth guy has adjusted, so the tackle. Smith does a good job of getting some YAC. RPS-1.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Schilling, Smith||RUN-|
|O10||2||5||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-1|
|PA rollout finds no one open for Robinson so he tries to run it; this is well defensed. Good D by Uconn, correct decision by Denard. (TA, --, protection NA)|
|O11||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Smith||11|
|UConn blitzes right into this, and gets DOOM'D for their trouble; you can hear Michigan Stadium go "yeeeeeah" as soon as they see what the playcalls are. RPS+2. There are only two guys to the same side of the field as Smith and four blockers; Huyge(+1) and Odoms(+1) do excellent jobs and Smith can walk it in. (CA, 3, screen)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed XP), 30-10, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M23||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||3|
|UConn is pouring downhill at these so I won't judge too harshly on a drive when Michigan's just trying to put a game that's already put away fully underground. Omameh(+1) gets a good block; Molk's angle out of the line does not take him through defenders, and the crashing DE is crashing so hard Shaw again has to go behind a guy and get what he can, which is three since there are linebackers everywhere. I'm not going to ZR this either because the game's done and Robinson doesn't need more carries.|
|M26||2||7||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||9|
|Okay, I will. UConn pulls an LB down to the line to combat the second TE, Webb(+1) kicks him out. DE crashes, Robinson pulls (ZR+1), Huyge wipes out Lloyd (easy), and Robinson shoots up in the gap provided by Schilling and Webb, cutting behind the SLB after five yards to pick up nine.|
|RUN+||Webb, Huyge, Schilling, Robinson||RUN-|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|Basically same thing as M finally starts testing a UConn D intent on shooting the DE down the line. Here MLB Lloyd is the scrape guy and starts hauling ass after Denard immediately, but Denard just outruns him to the corner easy. Koger got a block on the playside DE. (ZR+1)|
|M43||2||2||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||3|
|Reyes submarines Omameh and falls; Schilling(+1) seals his DT; Molk(-1) whiffs on Lloyd, who meets Shaw a yard past the LOS thanks to the excellent Schilling block; Shaw just blows him and gets the pile to fall the right direction.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||1||2||Base 4-4-||Run||Broken play||Shaw||-1|
|Shaw and Smith bump into each other, almost certainly because Smith gets the wrong playcall. Not going to bother with the blocking because who knows?|
|M45||2||11||Ace||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Pass||Waggle TE flat||Koger||10|
|This sucks the WLB to the fake and gets Koger open in the flat. Robinson gives him a soft toss and he turns it up to get near the first down marker. (CA, 3, protection NA)|
|O45||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|Dorrestein(+1) and Koger(+1) totally obliterate the playside DE, catching the linebackers up in the wash and letting Robinson just run up their backs for five. This is a variant of the regular draw where they're doubling one particular member of the DL on short yardage.|
|O39||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||0|
|At this point I'm not really interested. WOOOOO. Omameh gets the main demerit, but I'm not sure what Molk is doing either? at this point whatever.|
|O39||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||3|
|I understand this blocking so I'll chart it: again with the inside zone; Omameh(+1) gets a goot block; Schilling a bleah but acceptable one; Molk(-1) gets the ole job by Lloyd. Kind of disappointed in Molk's downfield blocking this game.|
|O36||3||7||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stonum||7|
|Simple pitch and catch, well timed if a tiny bit upfield. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||4||1||Ace||1||1||3||Base 5-3||Run||QB sneak||Robinson||2|
|They get it.|
|This is Omameh(-2) getting smoked. Run minus: Omameh(2)|
|Playside DT submarines Molk, taking himself and Molk out and opening a frontside crease. McColgan(-1) makes a really weird decision by hitting one of the contain guys instead of going right upfield and putting his facemask on the MLB's chest. Dorrestein can't cut said MLB and he tackles Smith near the LOS.|
|O26||3||9||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 5-3||Run||Iso||Smith||0|
|Seriously, at this point whatever.|
|O26||4||9||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 5-3||Pass||Waggle hitch||Grady||Inc|
|Can't see this from the tape but I had a good line on this in the stadium and it was open but Denard did not get the ball out fast enough. You can see that Stonum was open on the outside, too. I usually go with IN for balls that aren't bad ideas but are thrown too early/late but with Stonum sitting out there it's BR time. (BR, 0, protection NA)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-10, 2 min 4th Q. EOG.|
I'm dizzy because I keep running around in circles screaming "wheeeeeeeeeeee!" I know it's Thursday, I don't care.
Yeah, let's just get right to the—
Chart. I've included our Denard Robinson All of 2009 chart for comparison:
[Hennechart legend, or hover over the table headers]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?|
Downfield success rate: 68%.
I know. There has never been a UFR passing chart devoid of MAs and INs. The full dossier of things Robinson was dinged for:
- Chucking the ball away deep after escaping two unblocked rushers.
- Running out of bounds for a one-yard sack on a waggle play.
- Throwing a flare instead of a slant and getting Vincent Smith hit for a one yard loss.
- Getting Roundtree killed on an out that he caught until it was violently separated from him.
- Throwing a waggle hitch late on the last offensive play Michigan had.
That's it. The first is a good play. The second was a good decision since he had nowhere else to go and is Denard Robinson approaching the line of scrimmage. The other three were passes as deadly accurate as his other 18 but weren't the best options; only on the last was their any chance of a turnover. Everyone's worried about Tate Forcier transferring because of a lack of playing time… but what about Tacopants? He got zero balls.
UConn's secondary has to be terrible.
Yeah… UConn's secondary is probably terrible. They were starting a bunch of freshmen and failed to take advantage of a couple moments where it looked like Robinson was late on hitches. Also all that other stuff happened. Here is the avalanche of caveats and stern looks designed to keep your pants on—
—or put them back on—
TMI—and put Robinson's performance in perspective. Many of his downfield throws were either simple hitches or the slant/flare combo they ran about eight times where Smith would run a flare route, the linebacker to that side would start charging it down, and Robinson would zing a wide-open slant in the vacated space. Once the linebacker charged it down and Robinson threw the flare for no yardage; once he stayed home and Robinson threw the flare for good yardage. Michigan didn't show a whole lot, and for the most part avoided plays that could be risky.
The only play I gave the hallowed DO other than the wide open TRob (apologies for the use of that annoying shorthand but I'm not going to distinguish between the two Robinsons with full names for the next three years) post was this:
And while that's wicked sweet it's the only time he really fit it in a window. Not that I'm worried about his accuracy anymore*. It's more about what happens when his receivers are covered. Can he come off a primary read? Can he consistently recognize when guys are covered? Can he process information fast enough to get the passes out on time? Answers:
- Don't know, as both times UConn covered the primary read they covered everyone and Robinson ran.
- Don't know. He made three bad reads, but didn't throw anywhere truly dangerous.
- Not consistently yet. Some of the CAs above were late but he got away with them, and the last incompletion was very late.
Notre Dame and their veteran secondary will be another test.
On the other hand, how many times did you see Pat White zinging balls to hopelessly, almost unbelievably wide open receivers? Part of the magic of the offense is that when you can run 70% of the time and still put up first downs and string together long plays, things like that Robinson-to-Robinson pass where there isn't a defender in the same time zone as the receiver happen. The burden on Robinson to read defenses is going to be so much lower than it would be for a Henne or Tate because it's impossible to leave two high safeties against him (or at least a terrible idea) and taking a step forward is the best play-fake in the world.
Also, on third and 11 up 11 with this guy who wasn't even a quarterback last year, Rodriguez let 'er rip. They have some level of confidence there.
More charts! Receiverchart:
An exceptionally unchallenging day, but one on which they made no mistakes. Having Koger go 3/3 is encouraging. The only hypothetically catchable pass that wasn't was the one on which Roundtree got blown up. Hard to blame a guy for that.
PROTECTION METRIC: 12/16, Dorrestein –1, Omameh –1, Team –2.
Low sample size makes it tough to get a read but since the Dorrestein –1 was a failed chop block on the TRob post and the team minus was getting overwhelmed by a blitz into play action the initial returns are pretty good. No minuses from the tackles when they're actually setting up to pass block is win.
Rock-paper-scissors: +13, –7, TOTAL +6.
This may even be pessimistic since I started dinging Michigan points for running the same stuff over and over again when they probably put away the tricks because they didn't need them and I think I even RPS-1ed a successful QB lead draw on third and one because UConn was all over it. Is it really a bad decision if they leap all over it and still can't stop it?
It'll be interesting to watch this over the course of the season—Robinson's promise is that he can drop more RPS+3 plays this year than Michigan has in the last two seasons combined.
All right, now… the run game, which was the bulk of the offense?
Right, so this is the first time I'd ever systematically done this and it could end up being totally whack but here it is anyway:
|Huyge||7||2||5||No pass rush minuses, too. Excellent day.|
|Schilling||13||6||7||Clearly the best interior OL on the day.|
|Molk||10||5||5||Had some downfield whiffs.|
|Omameh||15||16||-1||Major issues with Kendall Reyes.|
|Dorrestein||9||4||5||Couple of pancakes.|
|Gardner||1||2||-1||Should have cut his loss upfield for a big gain.|
|Shaw||7||2||5||Lot of hopping on bad ZR decisions.|
|Grady||1||3||-2||Negs on the bad reverse.|
|Zone Read||10||3||7||Just Robinson. Gardner also had a 2-0-2.|
I have no idea what the context is here and think I should separated out carrying and blocking +/- for the RBs, since the former seems more important than the latter but it essentially bears out what I thought when watching the game. The tackles were surprisingly good but not that involved on a day when Michigan did almost all of its damage up the middle. Schilling took a major step forward, something that's echoed by NFL draft types:
Steve Schilling/G/Michigan: Schilling, who looked liked a star in the making as a freshman, has struggled the past few seasons adjusting to Michigan's motion offense. On Saturday, he showed signs of major improvement in his ability to block on the move and annihilate opponents at the point.
Molk was good but did not execute many of his patented reach blocks because of the interior focus and whiffed on MLBs a bit too often for my tastes.
And Patrick Omameh struggled. He didn't exactly lose out, but as the only guy on the line anywhere near even he stood out as a sophomore. UConn's Kendall Reyes was a problem all day, bursting into the backfield on the Shaw ten-yard loss and causing most of the bounce-outs. Sometimes this just happens. I remember Eastern Michigan's Jason Jones doing a lot of damage, pointing out how good he was, and hoping this was true both for credibility and what it said about Michigan's offensive line. Jones eventually went in the second round of the NFL draft. I both think and hope Reyes is really good, headed for All Big East recognition. If not, Omameh has a lot of work to do.
What if Robinson explodes or something?
Well, we're in trouble. This might happen. Quarterbacks get injured frequently. But it doesn't appear that they get injured any more frequently when they run a lot, as MCalibur's diaries have shown. There is a slight increase in injury rate that does not rise to the level of statistical significance, which is to say that the numbers suggest there might be a slight uptick, but the rate at which this happens is low enough that we can't be sure. In any case, an extra 2-3% chance your QB goes down is so worth the added explosiveness a guy like Robinson brings.
Almost everyone to some extent but special mention goes to Robinson (obviously) and Schilling.
The only person who even remotely qualifies is Omameh and even he did all right.
What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?
Next week's game is going to be interesting on the interior of the line since ND is running a 3-4. Omameh won't have a DT lined up directly over him; that will fall to Molk, who will endeavor to put Ian Williams on rollerskates for the third straight year. Williams has supposedly bulked up and didn't spend most of the last year rehabbing a knee so that matchup should be more even. If Molk can win it consistently, Schilling and Omameh will spend most of their time trying to stay in front of Carlo Calebrese and Manti Te'o, ND's MLBs. Those three matchups will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the game. I expect considerably more variation in the run game, with a lot more stretch plays to test the historically immobile Williams.
In the passing game… well, if Notre Dame leaves primary reads open Robinson will hit them. They will probably have an answer to the slant/flare combo that worked so well for Michigan against UConn, but with so few tricks pulled out of the bag in the first game they'll have to deal with a larger than usual set of plays they have not seen before. That combined with Robinson's legs demanding attention should set him up with a large number of makeable throws as long as he's not stuck with long-yardage situations. That goes back to the interior line, then.
We don't know much, but we'll know a lot more after Saturday.
Video reminder: they pop up!
Substitution notes: Michigan did make the move I suggested they might in the season preview: on passing downs they lifted the Sagesse/Banks platoon, bringing in Mike Williams as a linebacker and using Roh as a DE on a three man line. Several times they used a four-man line with Mouton and Roh the DEs and Martin/RVB the DTs.
Sagesse and Banks seemed to split the snaps about evenly. Black and Patterson got spot snaps early and more extensive time later as the game seemed in hand. Moundros got one drive in the second quarter; Herron got one drive; Jones was in the nickel package and briefly spotted Mouton when he got a cramp. Thomas Gordon got one drive early and then replaced Johnson when he went out injured.
There was no substitution in the secondary (shock!) until the final, uncharted drive.
Formation notes: It's a 3-3-5 stack unless you are a football coach, in which case it is very close to but not quite a 3-3-5 stack if you believe Rodriguez and Robinson. This is what it looks like on most plays:
And that's a stack. When the opposition goes 3x1, this is what happens:
Still a stack, just a stack reacting to a 3x1.
Sometimes Roh hops down to be a DE:
You may recognize this from last year; I called it 4-4 under since it is a shifted line, this one away from the (nominal) strength of the formation. Michigan has put RVB out by himself like they did Graham last year, so Roh is doing the exact same thing he did a year before.
I had Michigan down for 40 snaps identified as a stack, 5 in double eagle (which is a short-yardage version of the stack), 5 in the 4-4 under, 5 in which they were in their "nickel rush" package in which it's that four man line with Mouton and Roh as DEs described above, and two goal line plays. 45 of 57 plays is 79% stack, which is even stackier than I thought the defense would be in the Five Questions section of the season preview. That could be an artifact of the opponent and a relatively comfortable day in which Michigan could put away much of the playbook, but, seriously people, all that talk about how it's "not a 3-3-5" and is a "multiple" defense was bunk. It smokes a cigar constantly and gets very frustrated with Jimmy McNulty.
Anyway, on with the show:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA Bubble Screen||C. Gordon||-1|
|UConn opens up with a PA run fake and then throws a bubble; Michigan has three guys in an area with three receivers because Floyd, Johnson, and Gordon are out there. Gordon(+1) reads it and keeps the WR inside of him, where Roh(+0.5) cleans up. No blocks defeated but contain kept. (Tackling +1, Cover +1)|
|O38||2||11||Shotgun Trips TE||?||Run||Power||Mouton||-3|
|First of what I'm told will be a profusion of awful directorial decisions. UConn gets to the line quickly and snaps the ball as we're doing player introductions. As we come back Mouton and Kovacs are nailing the RB for a sizeable loss. +1 Banks for holding up to a straight double and giving no ground; +1 Mouton for recognizing and getting to the hole before the pulling guard has any chance to get on him. Kovacs also kept contain.|
|O35||3||14||Shotgun Trips Bunch||3-3-5 stack||Penalty||False Start||--||-5|
|Banks out, Jones in, Roh to DE on third and long. Also oops.|
|O30||3||19||Shotgun Trips Bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Hitch||Roh||Inc|
|Michigan rushes three and gets Both Martin(+1) and Roh(+1) through blockers, Martin through a double-team. (Pressure +2). With eight guys in coverage and two guys in his face he has no chance and chucks a hitch well short of a receiver who was going to get like three yards even if he catches it.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. That went better than expected.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone read stretch||Kovacs||7|
|Banks(-2) blown back, crushed to the point where RVB on the backside is closer to the running back than he is. Martin(+1) tears through the line and threatens a tackle for loss, forcing the running back upfield a bit, delaying him. This doesn't matter because Kovacs(-1) takes a block and gets blown back by a WR, forcing Mouton to scrape over the top of him, tripping as he goes. He falls(-1), getting into the lineman's feet; Floyd(+1) comes up on the outside to maintain leverage on the ball and manages to get in a diving shoe-string tackle. Dangerously close to a long gainer.|
|O27||2||3||Shotgun 2-back||4-4 under||Pass||Throwback screen||Mouton||4|
|Martin is stunting around and ends up tacking a block from one of the guards releasing downfield; he's there but occupied. Kovacs(+0.5) recognizes the play quickly, coming up outside as Martin gets past his blocker. This forces the RB inside to Mouton(+0.5), who delivers a thumping tackle but ends up falling backwards because this is the FB, not the TB. Everyone did all right. Tackling +1 I guess.|
|O31||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||4-4 under||Run||Lead draw||Ezeh||8|
|I sighed in involuntary disgust here, as Ezeh(-2) completely fails to read the draw and goes into a pass drop. Mouton's attacking the LOS on a jammed-up frontside, leaving a big hole between RVB (the weakside DE in the under this year, a la BG last year), and Martin fighting through a double. Roh's slant will get him to the RB if there's the slightest delay--if Ezeh just meets the fullback, but there's no one there, Ezeh eats the fullback six yards downfield, and it's up to Mouton to run him down from behind.|
|O39||2||2||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||FB dumpoff||--||15|
|Mouton and Floyd blitz; Banks(+1) manages to trundle past the tackle on an inside slant, leaving two guys in Frazer's face(pressure +1), but the flat is wide open(cover -2) for the FB. This looks like a busted coverage given how close Roh and Ezeh are to Kovacs and Johnson, but it's hard to tell who it's on. (RPS -1),|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Mouton?||20|
|Doomed from the start. Mouton(-1) is up tight to the line outside Banks; he and Banks slant inside at the snap, with Banks actually banging into Martin as those three guys run themselves up the middle of the field as two UConn players pull around. Roh is cut to the ground by two guys, Ezeh has no chance but uselessly run inside a blocker, Floyd eats an OL, and there's a guy into the secondary with blockers. Kovacs forces him inside where Gordon(-0.5) fails to wrap up (tackling -1) but does manage to get the guy to fall on his spin move; other secondary members were there to clean up anyway. (RPS -2),|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA Post||C. Gordon||Inc|
|Dive fake to a pass play with some room in the middle for this post near the goal line as Gordon is late arriving, but not too late. The throw is low and in front of the receiver, taking the guy off his feet and making this probably a 1; Gordon might have had an opportunity to blast the guy if it had been more on target. Receiver cannot dig it out. No pressure at all on a three man rush. (Pressure -1),|
|M26||2||10||I-Form twins||4-4 under||Run||Power off tackle||Sagesse||3|
|Roh moves down late and Gordon comes up as another LB, giving about nine guys in the box, give or take Johnson. Mouton and Kovacs set up outside their blockers; Sagesse(+1) holds up against a double, leaving Ezeh(-0.5) a free hitter. He sets up and dives at the RB's feet, taking him off balance but turning zero yards into three; Roh cleans up from the backside. ,|
|M23||3||7||Shotgun trips||Nickel rush||Pass||Screen||Martin||Inc|
|Bangesse pulled for Mike Jones; four man undershifted line w/ Roh, RVB, Martin, and Mouton. Mouton(+1) tears through the LT with a juke move and Roh(+1) roars around the corner. This is actually a fake-right, throw-back-left screen, but Martin(+1) has chopped the RB down in the backfield (no PI behind LOS) and there's no one to go to, so Frazer chucks it into the ground. (Pressure +1) Note that the pass rush moves by Roh and Mouton were legit; neither tackle was looking to release downfield.,|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG(41), 7-0, 4 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||WR wheel||Johnson||Inc|
|UConn runs a fairly unconvincing bubble screen fake that draws Gordon up on the innermost receiver to the trips side. Johnson(-2) stares at the QB and then goes to the fake, vacating a ton of space behind him on a wheel route for a receiver who heads beyond him. The wide open pass dies in the wind and Michigan is fortunate to escape without giving up 20 yards (Cover -2) Another three man rush; Martin does get to jump at Frazer but can't bat it down.|
|O20||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Van Bergen||4|
|Looks like a zone stretch in the backfield, but down blocks on the line and two linemen pull around on counter action. Van Bergen(+1) avoids a cut from one of the pulling linemen, hops over the guy, and tackles as the guy passes the LOS. Not sure what to make of Roh here, as he dangerously goes around the wide receiver blocking him when he's got unblocked guys to the outside. He comes around him fast enough to get in on the tackle. Good or bad?|
|O24||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel rush||Pass||Cross||Roh||Inc|
|Mouton DE, Martin and RVB DTs, Roh a standup DE, two LB, Johnson lined up basically as a nickelback. Michigan sends six. Roh(+1) doesn't even have to make a move, he just runs right by the tackle, forcing Frazer into an early throw and ending the drive. (Pressure +1) Good chance a crossing route would have come open against Floyd without the pressure.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.|
|O26||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Pin and pull zone||Ezeh||-1|
|See the Smart Football link for a detailed explanation, but basically the two OL on the playside who are lined up to the playside of their guy block down as the other two pull around. Here Martin(+1) fights through his block and absorbs the pulling guy, allowing Ezeh(+1) to attack, drawing the FB's block and delaying the RB. Martin and Sagesse combine to tackle.|
|O25||2||11||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Rogers||8|
|Ball is way behind the intended receiver and drags him back and outside, turning this into something like an impromptu bubble. Thomas Gordon is in the game and out there along with Rogers; both guys try to get outside leverage, giving the receiver time to hit it up behind the WR blocking for him; Ezeh's not fast enough to get out there. Rogers and Ezeh combine to tackle. Er... I think I'm going to hit Rogers with a -0.5, and probably Ezeh, too, since he did not react that quickly.|
|O33||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 eagle||Pass||Quick hitch||Rogers||Inc|
|Looks like one of Shafer's old Okie packages with a three deep shell and eight guys threatening something at the LOS, and then the LBs back out and it just looks like a 3-3-5. Another three man rush, UConn has quick throw on; Rogers(+1) is sitting on the little out by the #2 WR and attackis it, breaking it up(!) and even if he hadn't probably tackling short of the sticks. (Cover +1, RPS +1),|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 12 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Corner||Johnson||21|
|Similar problem to the earlier pass in which Johnson got lost and let a guy behind him. Play action fake doesn't really fool anyone as M drops into zone. Johnson(-2) gets a bit of a chuck and then no depth at all, instead running a few yards away from Roh, guarding no one in particular. This time they actually hit the wide open guy for big yardage. (Cover -2, Pressure -1). Another three man rush, this one totally neutralized.|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Quick out||Floyd||9|
|JT Floyd must be faking a blitz because he heads towards the QB for a few steps and then starts backing out; it is too late since they're just running one of these quick outs and he's the flat guy. Easy pitch and catch and YAC. RPS-1. Coverage -1.|
|M33||2||1||I-Form 3-wide||4-4 under||Run||Iso||Moundros||0|
|Roh moves down. Moundros is in; he and Mouton (+0.5 each) both tear into the hole, with Mouton standing up an OL and Moundros the FB; Roh(+0.5) comes from the backside to clean up after the mess.|
|M33||3||1||I-Form Big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Roh||4|
|Either Roh or Moundros screws up because they both head inside and one guy blocks both. Blocker gets driven back a bit and ends up tripping the OL pulling through the hole, allowing Floyd to dart by him and deliver a solid tackle(+1). I blame Roh on review: -1.|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle?||Mouton||0|
|Late getting to this play; as we get to it two OL have pulled around and are trying to block Kovacs, Mouton, and Moundros. Mouton(+2) avoids a cut block, leaping over it to deliver a thumping tackle(+1) for no gain.|
|M29||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Quick out||Rogers||Inc|
|Quick pass zinged high and through the hands of the intended receiver. Rogers(+1) read it well and was coming up to pound the guy on the catch anyway. (Cover +1),|
|M29||3||10||Shotgun Trips TE||Nickel rush||Pass||TE Cross||Kovacs||8|
|Rush package. Michigan sends six, with Martin(+1) breaking through and threatening terrible things; Frazer has to throw. He does to his TE, who catches it and is immediately tackled (+1, tackle +1, cover +1, RPS+1) by Kovacs short of the sticks.|
|M21||4||2||I-Form Big||3-3-5 eagle||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||2|
|This is actually a great play and a stop. Mouton(+1) blasts downhill at the fullback and nails him at the LOS, forcing him back; Banks(+1) shucks the LT, comes under the other puling guard, meets to tackle at the LOS, and gets the hefty Shoemate down seemingly short of the first down. They give him the spot. Maybe I'm wrong... they never show a replay.|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power dive(?)||Martin||0|
|Features a guard pulling around the center, who single blocks Martin, and by single blocks Martin I mean tries to single block Martin. Martin(+2) pwns the guy, comes around, and tackles with some help from Mouton(+0.5).|
|M19||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||TE Cross||Moundros||Inc|
|House sent, getting Moundros free up the middle. He leaps and bats the pass(+1, pressure +1, RPS+1). Floyd may have been in position to do something about it right after the catch, but maybe not.|
|M19||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel?||Pass||Dumpoff||Roh||3|
|Kovacs drops back to safety depth; Johnson takes up a position behind the linebackers. Don't know what to call this. Three man rush finds no one open or near the QB until Roh(+0.5) threatens to spring free, forcing the dumpoff that Moundros and Rogers(+0.5) snuff. Cover +1.|
|Drive Notes: FG(32), 21-3, 4 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Fly||Gordon||Inc|
|Three man rush, so Frazer has plenty of time (pressure -1) to step up and bomb; the pass is long. Receiver had a step on Gordon(-1, cover -1).|
|O23||2||10||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Flare screen||Ezeh||Inc|
|I don't know WTF this is, but it develops late and has no prayer to work since Ezeh(+0.5) and Rogers(+0.5) react in time for there to be two guys ready to pound this guy behind the LOS; he drops the ball anyway. Some execution error on UConn's part, surely.|
|O23||3||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||Dig||Ezeh?||21|
|Another three man rush and plenty of time (pressure -1); this time Frazer finds someone well downfield between guys in the zone and nails him. I don't really blame Ezeh since there's a number of guys who this could be on. Wouldn't surprise me if this is Carvin getting too deep since he seem too close to the safeties. (Cover –2)|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel rush||Pass||Cross||Floyd||Inc|
|Corner blitz gets Roh a free run (pressure +1, RPS+1); Frazer dumps it to a crossing route that the guy drops; Floyd(+0.5) was probably in position to tackle. (Cover +1)|
|O44||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||HItch||Floyd||Inc|
|Johnson(+1) blitzes this time, spooking Frazer into the throw (pressure +1) that short hops; Floyd(+0.5) again seemingly in position to tackle for no YAC afterwards. (Cover +1)|
|O44||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel rush||Pass||Dig||Kovacs||47|
|Mouton(+1) smokes the RT and gets in on Frazer(pressure +1). He has to chuck it and does as Kovacs(-2) vacates the middle of the field for some unknown reason. If he just sits back on third and ten he has a deflection or pick. Pass should be caught but is juggled ridiculously, causing Cam Gordon(-2) to alter his path to the receiver because he's going after the ball, that receiver eventually hauls in. Gordon whiffs, Floyd drags him down inside the ten. Cover –2, tackling –2.|
|M9||1||G||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack?||Run||Power off tackle||Mouton||2|
|Get to this play at the snap as the tackles are pulling around. RVB(+1) is quick enough from the backside of the play that the backside tackle bumps into him and gets slowed down, allowing Mouton(+1) to knife upfield and meet the RB at the line; Herron jumps on his back and the pile falls the wrong way.,|
|M7||2||G||I-Form Big||3-3-5 eagle||Run||Down G||Ezeh||4|
|Mouton(+0.5) again slashes upfield, taking out a blocker; Ezeh(-1) waits and gets blown way downfield and pancaked. If he had held up a little bit the cavalry would have arrived sooner (Herron again) and the gain held down.|
|M3||3||G||I-Form Big||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||Ezeh||2|
|Kovacs(-1) blitzes into the pull to spill' the play but to do that he's got to make a pile, instead he just gets plowed by the FB. Danger. Roh's coming from behind and starts tripping the guy, Mouton cuts off the outside, Ezeh(+1) fights through the Kovacs traffic to grab Todman. Gordon(+1) delivers the final blow to stop his momentum short.|
|M1||4||G||I-Form Big||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||--||1|
|They rush to the line and snap it before M gets set. Frustrating no TO. (RPS-2.)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-10, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Flare screen||T. Gordon||0|
|Excellent job by T. Gordon(+1) to gets outside the #2 WR's block and shoot directly inoo the FB's path. He's forced to cut inside, where RVB(+0.5) had avoided a cut and tackles the flying FB for no gain. (Cover +1.)|
|O39||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter pitch||Ezeh||17|
|Counter step like this is going to be a stretch, then the RB heads out for a quick pitch; sort of like what we tried to run last year with the edge pitch that never really came off. Kovacs(+1) reads and attacks, getting past the blocker and threatening to tackle. Mouton(-1) does the same but takes a shove that could be a block in the back and gets shoved out of the way, yielding a hole because Ezeh(-2) is outside the guard who pulled around the other side to block the backside DE. RB can cut inside, running by RVB and into the secondary where Floyd and Gordon tackle.|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Broken play||Roh||-4|
|This is supposed to be a power play but the RB goes to pass block. Frazer is dead meat; Roh(+2) does a nice job of avoiding a cut and taking him down for a loss.|
|M48||2||14||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA Corner||Mouton||19|
|Mouton(-2) sucks up on second and fourteen and then drops straight back, ending up no more than two yards from Ezeh on his zone drop and leaving a huge area along the sidelines for UConn to exploit. Floyd(-1) failed to get any depth in a cover two, taking the short guy instead of the deep one. Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle(+1) immediately (cover -2). RVB(+0.5) was getting there on a three-man rush.|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Ezeh||9|
|Power play they just messed up; Michigan blitzes two guys on the backside of the play, leaving a lot of room and not many guys to the run side. (RPS-1) Martin(-1) is doubled and taken out of the play, then continues to attempt to get upfield instead of spinning back in case there's a tackle opportunity. Meanwhile, Ezeh and Mouton are taking on a WR and a pulling OL; both go outside, leaving Todman an opportunity to cut past Ezeh and into open space. Should Ezeh(-1) attempt to send Todman outside to his help? Yeah, probably. He definitely shouldn't just thunk into the OL and fall over, which he does. Gordon does make a solid tackle(+1).|
|M20||2||1||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter pitch||Mouton||4|
|Same blocking but the counter step and the pitch out. This time Ezeh does recognize it and starts heading out to follow the back, but it doesn't matter because Kovacs(+0.5) and Mouton(+0.5) are all over it; this time Mouton doesn't get a debatably legal shove in the back and tackles, albeit weakly, yielding a first down.|
|M16||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Mouton||6|
|Roh(+1) times a blitz into the heart of the line well, drawing a guard and erasing the pulling OL. Kovacs(+1) reads it, beats an OL block, and hops around the guy to grab and tackle; Mouton(-1) should be a free hitter here since Roh took two blockers but he stepped away from the play to start and has not given himself an angle to attack. Instead of finishing Kovacs' tackle with a thump he runs by and watches Kovacs dragged a considerable distance.|
|M10||2||4||I-Form Big||3-3-5 eagle||Run||Power off tackle||Ezeh||1|
|Pulling guard slips as he comes around the line, allowing Ezeh(+0.5) and Gordon to tackle pretty much unmolested. ,|
|M9||3||3||Wildcat||3-3-5 stack||Run||QB power||Mouton||3|
|Mouton(+1) reads and blasts the leading guard, allowing Ezeh a free hit. He forms up and lowers his shoulder, getting the tackle just short of the sticks. Would like it if he was a little faster to the hole and brought some momentum.|
|M6||4||In||I-Form Big||3-3-5 eagle||Run||Down G||Floyd||-4|
|Mouton blitzes and is erased by a downblock; Kovacs kicked out, Ezeh manages to get past one guard only to get crushed off his feet by a second; Floyd is free and fills, putting his head on the ball(+2), jarring it free; Ezeh has it pop to him, recovering.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 24-10, 2 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Hitch||Floyd||Inc|
|Looks like some miscommunication as the receiver is not near the ball at all. Floyd(+1, cover +1) is, and if this is a little lower he's got a shot at a pick.|
|O28||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Angle||Patterson||Inc|
|Michigan rushes two(!), dropping Patterson into a short zone in front of the fullback that happens to be where Frazer's outlet is. The ball clanks off Patterson's pads. (RPS+1, cover+1, Patterson+1.)|
|O28||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Dumpoff||Mouton||9|
|Roh and Mouton blitz off the edges, with Mouton(+1) coming around and threatening a sack; Jibreel Black(+1) has also fought through, preventing Frazer from stepping up. He has to get rid of it, picking a five-yard dumpoff to the FB. Floyd(-1) has dropped into that deep zone that the corner routes were exploiting earlier and does not react quickly enough to tackle at the snap; Ezeh(-0.5) is in decent position but his tackle attempt is mostly powered through, setting up fourth and short instead of fourth and two. (Pressure +1)|
|O37||4||1||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||Iso||--||2|
|Todman burrows for the first. Martin has been out most of the last two drives, BTW, and Black is playing in RVB's stead--they're basically packing it in. Black does get through the line and almost finds himself in position to thump this, but not quite.|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power dive||Ezeh||14|
|Martin(-1) is pass rushing and gets way out of position, opening a crease. Ezeh(-1) sits there, not challenging a blocker, and gets pushed out of the way without delaying a tailback; Roh(-1) starts a pass drop too soon and can't recover. I guess some of this is understandable given the situation, but Roh should tackle(-1) anyway and does not.|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Dumpoff||--||Inc|
|Martin(+1) is triple(!) teamed on a three-man rush and still manages to claw through to spook Frazer into a throw to the underneath dumpoff (cover +1), which the guy can't handle, dropping it instead of getting his five yards.|
|M47||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Martin||15|
|Martin(-1) appears to be pass rushing again, hopping to the wrong side of the C here and getting single-blocked, which leaves two guys pulling and another two releasing. Roh(-1) comes up too hard to the outside, getting kicked out; Ezeh(-1) just gets shoved out of the play.|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Pin and pull zone||Ezeh||4|
|Jones(-1) is tardy reading the play and bumps into Ezeh, causing him to trip a little; Ezeh(+1) however, is reading it fast and flows to the hole well enough to get a diving tackle. Kovacs(+0.5) squeezed it down so the RB would have to cut back into help.|
|M28||2||6||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Quick out||Rogers||Inc|
|Variation on the long handoff, I guess, as the outside WRs run slants and the inside guy runs parallel to the LOS, turning back for the ball. He drops it; didn't matter since Michigan was going to crush it anyway. (Rogers +1, cover +1)|
|M28||3||6||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||3|
|Michigan sends the house but UConn manages to run by it. (RPS-2) Michigan is very fortunate that Banks(+1) can make a diving tackle on the TB, otherwise he scores.|
|M25||4||3||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Ezeh||2|
|Same counter they were just gashed on. Roh(+0.5) manages to squeeze down enough for the RB to run up in an area where Ezeh(+2) has a chance. He's blocked but he discards the guy and makes a lunging tackle that sees the RB short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-10, 9 min 4th Q. Michigan strangles the game; the last Uconn drive was meaningless and saw Michigan adopt a prevent; it's not charted.|
I'm noticing a distinct lack of ichor seeping from the clawed-out holes that used to be my eyes.
Yeah, that was dodgy but far from the worst-case scenario.
They completed less that half their passes!
Yeah, how about that. How about that.
|Van Bergen||3||-||3||Not exactly BG, but I don't think he has to be if it's a stack.|
|Martin||8||3||5||Late minuses for getting too pass-rush-y. Demands doubles. Good start.|
|Banks||5||2||3||Line will probably be something akin to this all year.|
|Patterson||1||-||1||Had ball thrown into chest.|
|TOTAL||19||5||14||Were working uphill most of the day with Michigan going to a lot of three-man rushes, so this is okay.|
|Ezeh||6||9.5||-3.5||Well, when you're almost beaten out by a walk-on it's for a reason.|
|Mouton||11.5||6||5.5||Smells like progress. DE moonlighting was effective.|
|Roh||7.5||3||4.5||Odd reliance on three man rushes.|
|Johnson||1||4||-3||Culprit on one long pass play and another that should have been a long pass play.|
|Jones||-||1||-1||Part of the pass defense package, FWIW.|
|Moundros||1.5||-||1.5||Not much data.|
|Herron||-||-||-||Did not register a point on his drive.|
|TOTAL||26.5||23.5||3||Going to take a bit to get a feel for the new scheme, but they appeared to do all right. Mouton and Roh are going to be in a lot of backfields.|
|Kovacs||5||4||1||Keeping his head above water.|
|C. Gordon||2||3.5||-1.5||I don't really blame him for the long pass too much.|
|M. Robinson||-||-||-||DNP on D.|
|Ray Vinopal||-||-||-||Spinal Tap's current drummer.|
|Pressure||11||4||7||In retrospect, a better than than I thought.|
|Coverage||12||12||0||Even == major win for any secondary.|
|Tackling||6||4||2||No outright misses.|
|RPS||5||9||-4||Maybe not showing your hand?|
[A reminder: RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]
Are you telling me that every member of the secondary had a great day except Gordon?
Uh… maybe? UConn's deeper completions were on Kovacs, Ezeh, or Gordon, with the corners mostly hanging out in the flats and punishing short passes, which they did very well. And because of all those short passes the cover number is even. That's a good result for any secondary, let alone what we thought would go down with these guys.
Caveats abound. Michigan dropped eight into coverage a lot. UConn's solitary receiver with any talent got a step on Floyd and Gordon once only to see Frazer miss, and that guy dropped a couple of tough-ish catches. The wind may have prevented UConn from testing Michigan over the top much. Frazer is thoroughly mediocre. They kept dumping it to squat white guys. Etc etc.
But even if all those things were true we've seen magnificently flaming failure time and again from Michigan secondary members. On Saturday the only hint of that was the ridiculous bobbling catch that went for 47 yards, and it's hard to blame Gordon for altering his path when he saw the ball pop skyward and he thought he could intercept it. The rest of the day he took excellent angles to the ball and delivered blows. There was one shoulder-block of a tackle that came as Floyd was wrapping a guy up; other than that and the bomb he looked pretty solid. If every game ends with an opponent's longest run checking in at 20 yards, he will be a hero.
Wither Brandon Graham?
Zero sacks from 38 attempts is not an encouraging statistic. But when I looked at it closer it came out to 11-4 = 7, which is a good, if numerically low day. Mouton, Martin, and Roh flashed hints that they'll be able to get to the passer regularly, and RVB and Black chipped in a little help. On a lot of Frazer's errant or short-of-the-sticks throws he had little choice but to dump it off to the squat white guy lest he eat facemask.
UConn may not be the most talented team Michigan plays this year but it might be the most experienced: Frazer is a senior, as are three of the offensive linemen, with the others a junior and sophomore. They returned for starters on the line and both guys in the backfield. Last year they were solidly above average in sacks allowed despite the statue quarterback; they should be better this year. And they didn't bother trying deep passes or long-developing routes more than a few times. It'll be interesting to see what happens against Notre Dame, as they only return their guards from last year's offensive line and will be starting Dayne Crist for only the second time.
That nickel rush package looks promising. I wouldn't want to try to pass block against Roh, Mouton, Martin, and RVB.
How are the initial returns on the GERG Linebacker Magic theory?
Good, but not great. It's not much of a surprise when you juuuust barely beat out a walk-on for your job but Obi Ezeh's progress has been incremental at best. He did make a nice play on the last defensive play charted up there but there was an awful lot of Ezeh getting shoved around like a rag doll and even one instance of those horrible times last year when he'd go into a pass drop on a run play. I mean:
That's pretty much what his day was like. Do something sort of right, get hammered to the ground. It's really frustrating that the second best option is not only a walk-on but a walk-on who's not even going to be around next year. There are picture pages to follow with more detail.
On the other hand, Jonas Mouton didn't do anything I remember as really frustrating. There were the usual errors that come along with being a linebacker, a couple of instances of late recognition, and maybe a coverage issue or two, but he did look good. Numerically he put in his best day since he was a sophomore.
Roh looked good too. He looked far more dangerous as a pass rusher than he ever did as a freshman and did not make a ton of linebacker errors.
So was this… good?
I don't know. Michigan was playing a lot of bend, don't break and they bent and they didn't break much. Even on UConn's long drives they had to put together fourth down conversions. It would be nice if Michigan could keep those stops a yard or so shorter and force punts, but that seems like random fortune instead of something repeatable.
The shortness of the game—just eight real drives each—overstated how efficient the defense was, so don't let that yardage total influence you too much (especially if you're looking at the sub-300 total from before the last drive. By result:
- Three and outs: 3
- Somewhat fluky two-minute drill touchdowns: 1
- 40-60 yard drives ending in bupkis or FG: 4
I'd be livid if this was 2002, but it's 2010 and the secondary is comprised of baling wire and duct tape. I'll take that, assume opponents can get to 24 points in a normal length game when they don't waste drives like UConn did, and say "outscore them, Denard."
This was the thing about the UConn game: there are only eight clips above. That's less than half the usual number, and that's because there weren't hugelong unexplainable touchdowns that needed to be present so I could give someone a big minus without also providing the evidence; there also weren't many OMG AWESOME plays. Michigan had just 4 TFLs. UConn had 11. It was a boring, boring day from the defense.
Maybe that's not good, exactly. But maybe it's good enough.
The cornerbacks! Jonas Mouton! !!!!
Also less thrillingly weird, Mike Martin.
Ezeh mostly, but Banks, RVB, and Sagesse need to turn in some more plays. RVB did not have a good day.
What does it mean for Notre Dame?
Oh, God, who knows? I'm about 75% of my way through the Purdue game and the offense looks very similar to UConn's except replace Juggly McHusky with Mike Floyd and I'm A Good Big East Back with what looks like a pretty rampage-y Armando Allen and that's a recipe for the above drive breakdown minus the bupkis.
On the other hand, UConn's OL has got to be a bunch better and if Michigan gets pressure by running past the pretty trundling OTs Crist is liable to freak out. In a word: variance.
Following Rich Rodriguez's time with the media yesterday, we also talked to TE Kevin Koger, RB Mike Shaw, LB Obi Ezeh, and DL Ryan Van Bergen.
"I think a couple people were shocked, because not a lot of people picked us to win." He was pleased with the team's performance.
Denard's performance - "I know he was doing what the coaches were coaching him to do." With his speed, if he doesn't need to stop his feet nobody will catch him. When Denard came in last year, teams knew it was a run. Now, they can't expect that. "He did take a lot of hits on Saturday, he did get hurt once."
"If it ain't broke don't fix it." The run worked well on Saturday, no need to worry about chucking the ball downfield more often. Teams have put 8 men in the box to stop the run. They might put more DBs in the box. "You really can't tell until you watch film." When they do that, you'll see more passing.
The big focus for WRs and TEs in offseason was dropped passes. They needed to work on their focus, ad it's paying off.
Everybody wants to make their blocks on every play, so it's not their guy that makes a tackle. Big play ability is always there with Michigan's team speed. Have to make your blocks "that could be the difference, so you never know." Downfield blocking "all comes down to effort. If you want to block, you block. If you don't [want to], you don't."
Kevin could notice a difference in crowd noise with the new boxes. You can hear the echoes off the boxes. "I think 113,000+ had a lot to do with it also."
Kevin traveled but didn't play a couple years ago at Notre Dame. He's ready to experience it for the first time. Players talk about "how loud it was and how tall the grass was."
"It was a good game. Coming out with a packed crowd like that, it was a lot of nerves, but we got through it and had a good showing against UConn."
"So far, so good" for Denard. "You never expect anybody to go out and have the game that he did." When he pulls the ball down, he's as good as a running back. If he stays healthy and everyone keeps blocking for him, it'll be all good. "Anybody can get a big run in this offense. It's so spread out." UConn wasn't ready for Denard's speed. Once teams key on Denard, it'll open up lanes for others. "As of September 4th, it was Denard's show." It's hard to compare Denard's command of the offense from last year. "What the coaches asked him to do, he did well - more than well."
Coaches look for stability and consistency in RBs. Shaw and Smith didn't fumble, etc. in camp, which put them ahead. There was no discussion of who was going to go in "when our numbers were called, we just went in there and did our thing." He's always hard on himself after a game. "I feel that I have a lot of room for improvement," especially in blocking and hitting creases harder.
He's talked to Roundtree, and they watched the play on which he got injured. Roundtree was thrilled to be involved in a big hit - he likes to be in on the action.
The O-line was a huge plus - even more than Denard. They've made big strides over the past couple years. They'll lead to a lot of big plays this year.
As for his academic situation in fall camp: "I am a student-athlete, and to not be eligible is not something I think the University of Michigan would stand for."
It's always a rowdy crowd at ND. Both teams have a lot to prove. "A lot of attention in the national spotlight."
The first three-and-out "that was nice" UConn's hurry-up didn't work out to start the game. "Our coaches got us really prepared for that game."
Fumble recovery - "In the right place at the right time, and kinda had my wits about me.... Kinda reminded me of the Michigan State game last year, when I had a fumble recovery and got smacked in the face."
The D-line was amazing. "A lot of people don't really hear about the efforts those guys put out." Hopes Martin knows that he appreciates the effort.
"I'm my worst critic," but Jonas played awesome. He was getting in the backfield, wreaking havoc, reading his keys, everything gelling well. "I felt comfortable out there too." Everyone makes mistakes - not perfect but a good game.
"Obviously things didn't go the way you wanted or you planned last year," and Obi used that for motivation. "I just want to win." All the seniors want to leave a legacy. There are more important things than last year.
The time of possession helped the defense. "It's fun when you don't have to play like 80-some plays a game." There will be times that Mich doesn't dominate possession, and the D is in good enough shape to handle that.
ND - Big game, big stage. Want to make a statement. "With that all being said, it's still a game, and just like last week you need to prepare, focus in, and practice hard." Everybody has a different version of the spread, so you have to prepare for ND differently. ND has explosive players at their disposal. "Our coaches are gonna come in with a gameplan obviously and we're just gonna focus in and execute to the best of our abilities."
Ryan Van Bergen
Did the team make a statement on opening day? "I think we did a pretty good job. I wouldn't say we had a performance that was perfect." There's a long season to progress, and young guys will come along during the season.
"I probably thought that in spring ball, probably first or second week" that Denard had really come along as a passer. He's accurate, which he struggled with last year. Completing passes will open up the run for him.
DL Coach Bruce Tall tries to rotate guys in and out along the line, to give the starters a rest. Even with the defense out there a long time, they can have depth and stay fresh. Mike Barwis has done a fantastic job with conditioning. Everybody on DL is leaps ahead of last year - which means a lot because they were in great shape last year too.
Position change "My role hasn't changed that much. It's a little bit nicer that I don't have to worry about a double team every play." BG gave him a lot of help.
He's "absolutely" happy to see somebody else have to chase Denard around.
Pressure on the QB. "Obviously I don't think we recorded a sack. We did a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing some bad throws." UConn went heavy protect a lot of times, but they're hungry to get some sacks.
Obi - "He just really resilient. He's gonna come back just as hard if not harder if he makes a mistake." Always a leader. He and jonas both motivated. Rubs off on the rest of the d.
Secondary - "I they played well." Don't have a veteran back there who's a bigtime leader. Those guys played well, weren't deer-in-headlights. Bounced back if they gave up any big plays.
- Roy Roundtree and Carvin Johnson are doubtful for Notre Dame
- Second-team FS/holder Jared Van Slyke (a walkon) is out for the year.
- Junior Hemingway is expected back.
- Fitzgerald Toussaint may or may not play against ND.
After the game, Rodriguez got to spend time with Brock's family, and before, he saw the end of Brock's walk.
Managing from execution standpoint first thing you want. Can run the ball and get first downs, not as necessary to throw downfield for big plays. Can block downfield better. Consistency in blocking need to improve the most. Guys were in the right place, but didn't sustain blocks, or didn't get downfield. Didn't get downfield as well as we're capable. On D - just lost contain a couple times. Special teams were very average. KOR and KO units were below average.
Worked so hard on the passing game because they knew UConn was going to bring safeties down to help against the run. "Watching the film, we played hard, we played well at at times, and we took care of the football offensively." Can still execute a lot better on O. Not having big plays on offense gave the defense rest with long drives, but Rodriguez would prefer to execute well enough to get the big plays.
On Denard: "He graded out relatively high. He made a few mistakes, which you would expect in his first game as a starter." Made a couple negative-yardage plays. You rarely see a first-time starter command the game like he did.
Shaw and Smith: "They ran better than they blocked." Usually they're better blockers. Wish they could get back the negative-yardage plays. The other backs need to prove themselves better in practice to play.
Pretty much satisfied with the offensive line play. Liked the effort. No "high grades" on the OL - partially because it's tougher to grade out well with Coach Frey. "A couple guys didn't play nearly as well as we thought they would," both at the point of attack and on the second level, but they were solid as a group.
The defense had a few plays they'd like to have back. "We got what we thought we'd get." ND will be a bigger challenge than UConn. Tackled pretty well, only a few missed assignments.
Muffed punts - "This year is this year, last year is last year." It was Gallon's first game action, and it came on a windy day with a tough punt. "He'll be fine. I have no concerns whatsoever." Not worried about kickers' performances in the wind. Drew Dileo mishandled the missed extra point.
Roy Roundtree is listed as doubtful with internal bruising, they'll re-check him later in the week. Carvin Johnson is "very doubtful" with a sprained knee. Junior Hemingway should be able to go, but they won't know until later this week.
Still concerned with youth of team. Guys will get beat up. The outside people have been saying whatever "You go in our building, it's been a little bit different the whole time."
Denard - "He's a pretty humble guy anyway. I'll talk to him about staying humble. I think that's in his nature anyway." Just one bad day away from being a goat. Positive press is like poison - it's OK as long as you don't swallow it. He needs to trust timing and progression before he takes off. He has been getting better at that, and did very well Saturday.
Denard was sharp - "My concern coming in was the wind more than anything else." Biggest thing was where his eyes were going to be. If their eyes are in the right place, they'll make the right decision. "He's smart enough to figure out that hey, you're just one bad play away from everybody saying 'you can't do this' or 'you can't do that'." Guys know it's a big stage.
"You could sense earlier on that [Denard] is a guy who, not only does he have the physical abilities, but he has the type of mental makeup you'd like to have at the position." It all comes with learning. Denard and Tate will still have some mistakes, have growing to do, but they have bright futures. "I'm always concerned with our players' concerns. That's what coaches do." It's a team game, not an individual game. TV may try to sensationalize something.
Is Rodriguez concerned about Tate? "Why? Is there a reason to? Oh." Coach wasn't making a big issue out of it - TV was. It's no surprise that he's disappointed to not play. "I want all my players to be happy all the time. Inevitably, 110 of them probably won't be. If we win, you expect most of them to be happy or fake it. I don't blame guys for being unhappy if they don't play. That's human nature." RR will talk to the QBs, "There shouldn't be any problems... If he crosses the line as far as being a team player, we'll worry about that."
Devin - "We think that Devin has proven that he's ready to play." He's at the point where he'll help win games this year.
Probably could have repped more OL in the game. Players have to give the staff confidence that they'll be able to execute.
Obi - "Yeah, I thought he played pretty well. I really did." Jonas Mouton and Mark Moundros played well, too.
Young DBs have been getting a lot of reps, they have to "grow up in a hurry." They'll have great futures, just need to get them ready. Pleased with play of Floyd and Rogers. "JT's continued his performance. We think he's been pretty good all camp." Team is thin in secondary, esp. losing Carvin Johnson. Put the next guy in and see what happens. Thomas Gordon played well, Floyd Simmons will get some play "We have a lot of confidence in Floyd."
Competition at PK is still ongoing.
Brian Kelly's scheme - "There's a lot of similarities. Studying them and studying us, every spread has a little different emphasis at certain times." RR's spread is a bit more run nowadays. Cincy pass, now at ND looks like he'll mix it up a bit. They'll study last year's ND film for personnel, but coaching staff is new so have to see what those guys did at previous stops. Both teams will run a bit of stuff that they didn't last week. Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph are big weapons, but they have talented RBs and QB as well. Have to tackle well in space against ND. "If we can't get 'em on the ground, and we can't cover 'em..."
ND 3-4 look, sometimes 4-man front. "Everybody's multiple defensively. nobody runs one front and run coverage anymore." They brought some pressure, but mostly worked to contain Purdue's players last week.
RR has only played Kelly one time. Played at Cincy in 2007. Dews worked with Kelly for a year at Central, so there's some familiarity there. He's had great success. They have a lot of talent. They recruit nationally, even if they haven't been pleased with the record the past few years.
ND - "I'm sure their players and our players understand it's a rivalry." This is the first rivalry game each season. A section of West Mich is always asking about ND. New coach, lots of excitement.
At ND Stadium "They are very passionate about football. Every seat will be taken. Theyr'e into the game. It's a very intimate setting." Always seems to be raining when RR goes there "The grass is high - because of the rain, I guess." Younger players - "We've got to get them to grow up in a hurry." Have to learn to keep your poise, and have a sense of maturity on the road. 25 or 26 guys on the travel squad for their first road trip.
Noise is biggest challenge "We'll crank it up this week, and try to get our skill guys offensively to get used to the crowd noise." Very crisp against UConn, doesn't expect any against ND.
Keys to winning: 1) take care of the football. Lost the game with that last time at ND. 2) Understand you'll face adversity - they'll make plays. 3) Don't give up big plays, because they have big play talent. 4) Make big plays offensively ourselves.
It helps to have Division-1 experience when you start coaching at a bigtime institution. "It's invaluable coaching at the small-school level." You have to worry about all the details of running the program. Have to learn very quickly from a recruiting and teaching standpoint. "Sometimes you have to get creative." Try new things, which will be innovative at the higher levels. Rodriguez and Kelly are both familiar with that.
9/4/2010 – Michigan 30, UConn 10 – 1-0
First there were those two years of almost unrelenting misery. Then there was this offseason, the third consecutive in which seemingly every week saw another stomach-churning burst of negative publicity for things that don't matter very much individually but aggregate like nanorobots gone awry. Then there was all that sitting in the stadium as described on Saturday, envisioning different ways the future could play out, giving each a letter grade and having no grasp of which were likelier than others. Then there was Keith Jackson and a ribbon-cutting and a flyover and fireworks (Amurrica!). Then there was this:
There was a brief moment where I discreetly wiped my eyes and hoped no one was looking, and then there was another flyover.
By the coin toss I was bobbing up and down on an imaginary pogo stick, trying to do anything with the energy that threatened to shut my brain off. I was hyped up, yo. The only thing I can remember like it was Football Armageddon. It's probably for the best that I didn't have anything handy to headbutt.
I had no idea what was going to happen, but there were grades for all of it.
A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++. Would watch again.
What was it like for Auburn fans the first time they saw Bo Jackson? For Georgia fans when they saw Herschel Walker? Was it like that?
I can't recall anything similar in the Michigan canon. Braylon had 80 yards against Washington, Hart 124 against San Diego State. Breaston touched the ball eight times. Manningham did once. I'm too young to remember Wheatley's debut. Defensive players are too infrequently involved, and their jobs too arcane, to have the same obvious impact. Receivers, too—even a stellar debut will see the guy touch the ball maybe ten times. It's an accomplishment for quarterbacks when their first starts don't end in flaming disaster.
It's only at running back that you can unearth some guy three standard deviations above the norm at various forms of moving, put him on the field, and give everyone the epiphany of awesome.
But even the debut of one of those Godzilla running backs doesn't compare because Denard Robinson had a Godzilla tailback debut and was one late fourth down conversion away from setting a Michigan Stadium record for completion percentage. Last year he was so clueless he couldn't run the offense, so transparently not a quarterback he went 14 of 31 with four interceptions on the season and played wide receiver against Ohio State.
So I think this might be literally true: Denard Robinson's performance against UConn was the greatest leap from one game to the next in Michigan history. Possibly college football history. He went from a guy who could not run the offense or throw the ball to one of the greatest statistical achievements* in the history of the program.
Nothing, not even the ludicrous fever dreams on message boards that rivals fans point at and laugh, could keep pace. Expectation was left in the dust by the end of the first quarter. The reasonable best case scenario fell away on the first drive of the second half when Robinson whipped a ball over the middle for sixteen yards on third and eleven. The possibility this was all a dream gave it up on Michigan's final drive when Robinson rolled out and lofted a touch pass to Kevin Koger. Not even fever dreams have that kind of audacity.
By the end, all that was left was reality, as unrecognizable as it is. Rival fans are reduced to stammering "buh-buh-but he'll get injured" in the hopes that will happen before Robinson gets a crack at their defense; 7-5 seems… eh… doable. After last year everyone's fighting to keep their hopes in check; this is proving very difficult indeed.
I kept biting myself in the second quarter, just to check about the fever dream bit. You build all this up in your mind before the season, think about the way things can go, say "Anything can happen, and the wait is over," and then find out you didn't really believe it. This was not part of the anything after all the months leading up to the pogo stick moment a minute before kickoff.
Because at some point around five minutes left, the energy drained out of the stadium. When Edsall called a timeout to get the ball back it was irritating and people booed. With a minute and a half left, I thought about the cold and what I should eat. I was bored, and thanks to that now I can't stand how far away next Saturday is.
*(313 against Ohio State still wins, I think, but it's hard to come up with anything else.)
PREBULLET SECTION OF REASSURANCE! Repeat after me: this was not last year's Notre Dame game.
- UConn is likely better than that Notre Dame team; they beat them last year and returned sixteen starters from that 8-5 team that was so close to a major breakthrough, which is why everyone was calling them a sleeper until the point they were no longer that.
- Michigan won that game with ten seconds left after Charlie Weis called a first-down bomb needing just one first down to kill the clock.
- They got a free, highly irreproducible touchdown from Darryl Stonum.
- They were outgained by 60 yards in that ND game; total yardage Saturday was 473-343, with 42 of UConn's yards on their pointless final drive.
A quick list of downers:
- The Gibbons/Dileo pairing had serious issues. The missed XP was definitely on Dileo and the missed FG seemed like a bad snap, too. Van Slyke's return may actually be more important than you might otherwise expect.
- Burned redshirts have driven me crazy forever and a couple the tossed ones this year boggle the mind: Ray Vinopal played on special teams and Dileo held, though that one may have been forced. I'm not going to throw a hissy about Gardner since when Mike Forcier is saying they "knew there would be disciplinary action" it sounds like Rodriguez was faced with an unpleasant choice between doing the logical thing for your program and enforcing squad discipline, but if Michigan goes into 2014 without a redshirt senior Gardner that will be a major missed opportunity.
- I was irritated they played Will Campbell on special teams because he could redshirt if he's not even second team at NT. This is bad for multiple reasons.
- UConn's quick snap on fourth and goal was a little grrr aarrgh.
- Zero sacks (though Roh should have been given one on a Frazer rollout). Michigan didn't get much pressure from the front three. They did manage to get there with some blitzes but I don't recall anyone beating a UConn lineman straight up. (Roh avoided a cut block from an RB.)
And now that we're done with that:
- One penalty! Three fumbles is more of a downer, but add it up and that was a clean performance.
- Offensive production was considerably understated (and defensive production overstated) by how short the game was in terms of possession. Michigan had eight real drives. I'm not sure what the overall NCAA number is but it must be pretty close to the 11.3 the Big 12 put up last year. If Michigan had 11.3 drives they'd be expected to put up 42 points, which is a lot of points. Yes.
- I hate time of possession. It is a unicorn stat. But people might talk about it a lot this year since Michigan had two drives in this game that ate up more than half a quarter. And given their situation that ability might prove useful: how awesome was it that Michigan got the ball back with nine minutes left and essentially ended the game? How much more awesome would it have been if they were up just seven points?
- Running back concern is overstated. Their YPC was hurt considerably by the final drive, during which they plowed into the line to run clock time and again. Also, Shaw in particular seemed like he had to cut behind a defensive lineman slanting right into the play every time he got a handoff. I thought managing to avoid this guy and get positive yardage consistently was an accomplishment. That say something in UConn's scheme or the play of the line has to be addressed, though.
- It was odd that Hopkins never got in but as the game wore on it became clear that UConn couldn't hold a QB lead draw under five yards, let alone one. I do hope he gets unearthed in the future since those carries are usually low upside and if we're going to spare Robinson some hits it shouldn't be on first and ten. Or, you know, third and fifteen.
- Speaking of, it was a really weird experience for Michigan to run a QB draw in that down and distance and not have that moment of hate during it. My immediate reaction was "yeah, that seems like a decent idea." This was early, though, and it had not yet been established that Denard was capable of going 9 of 22, let alone 19 of 22.
- I have never seen two guys running wide open in as much space as Stonum and Robinson did on the late Robinson-to-Robinson connection. There was one safety trying to figure out which guy to cover and literally no one else for twenty yards. RPS +3, baby. That's the kind of thing that happens in these offenses when the quarterback is such a threat on the ground. When Pat White threw deep, most of the time he was doing so to wide open guys. It's like when Debord ran a waggle for big yardage, except the base offense's run game picks up like six yards a play.
- Speaking of: welcome to Michigan, Terrance Robinson. May you dream shake someone in the near future. (Conversely: surprising lack of Grady, no?)
- After Roundtree went out, there were a few plays on which the skill position guys were Terrance Robinson, Odoms, Grady, Smith, and Stonum. It looked like the Lollipop Guild had run out there, featuring Stonum as Dorothy.
- Mouton's getting good reviews and certainly seemed to be playing well. He brought the lumber on a couple tackles. I wonder if UConn's burst of run competence was Carvin Johnson-injury related?
- The reports on band amplification have varied so wildly that the effectiveness of it must vary significantly based on your location. From section 44 it sounded pretty bad, with a clear delay between the actual band and the speakers; I couldn't hear anything except the drums on the amplification. At least Special K was prevented from doing anything except playing "Don't Stop Believin'" after the first quarter.
Unfortunately, I think that might be an artifact of the jam-packed dedication festivities. There's no time for that old time rock 'n' roll when you're running down the top five plays in Michigan Stadium history (which by the way: no Wangler to Carter? WTF, internet?), introducing a bunch of program icons and Greg Mathews, and so forth and so on. Unless they continue to fill those gaps with stuff, Lose Yourself threatens a return. They should just pick a top five list every week: top five catches. Top five runs. Interceptions, fumbles, comebacks, etc.
- Also: Slippery Rock scores return. I credit Brandon.
AnnArbor.com photo gallery. Ring of terror. Denard as QB EAGLES. The HSR takes a look at some stats. MVictors has some extra stadium details and bullet points on the goings-on, plus an outstanding SNL reference:
My Q&A session would have gone something like this:
Me: “Do you remember when…umm, Denard ran up and down the field a bunch of times?”
Rich Rod: “Yes.”
Me: “That was so cool.”
The B-25 Mitchell bomber that flew over Michigan Stadium Saturday as a part of the rededication ceremonies was a similar model to the one flown over Tokyo by the Doolittle Raiders. The Doolittle Raid was an audacious plan by an unconventional man who felt a strong sense that, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, America had to do something to strike at the heart of the Empire of Japan, so what better than to design a crazy, shouldn't work on paper, never been tested plan that would break the Japanese of their long-held belief of invincibility, and boost American morale...
If it worked.
Braves and Birds is thrilled he's not the only one anymore. Denard is apparently a P-38 Lightning.
Every offensive snap? Every offensive snap:
In UConn's only chance to showcase itself against a name-brand non-Big East opponent this year, the Huskies looked more like one of Michigan's typical September MAC cupcake opponents.
The good: UConn will never have to play against Denard Robinson again, and thank God for that. A few weeks ago I drew the ire of Michigan fans by saying I felt the Huskies had more talent than the Wolverines. Clearly, I was wrong. After yesterday, I'd say that on-balance, for every position but quarterback, the teams are pretty equal, maybe with Michigan grabbing a slight edge. But holy hell what a difference that quarterback makes. Video I had seen of Robinson didn't even come close to doing justice to the monster that he was yesterday. I don't care if UConn always struggles against mobile QBs, Robinson is something special.
The good: Michigan fans and Michigan Stadium. I can't say enough good things about the Michigan fans I met in Ann Arbor yesterday. They were a fantastic, friendly and knowledgeable bunch that created an incredibly welcoming and fun atmosphere. Inside the stadium I think the contingent of Husky fans acquitted themselves nicely, but they were completely overwhelmed by the size and passion of the Wolverine crowd. A fantastic experience all around.