Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
I've been complaining about Michigan's punt coverage for a while now but it was a Notre Dame message board* that finally screencapped the thing. Here's Michigan's coverage at the point of the kick against UMass:
Couple of gunners with two guys on them, two guys at LOS with a blocker coming down the middle. This was a short punt by Wile that would have been fair caught around the ten if the returner hadn't fumbled it.
Same, though the gunners are diving inside this time.
At the catch:
That's a 31 yard punt and there is a ton of room for a return if the guy doesn't fumble it.
Even worse as this time there's only one guy at the LOS. This one is the bomb.
If these guys could catch any of these punts, there is room.
UMass uses the spread punt, which is now almost ubiquitous.
When their punter contacts the ball,there are four guys already five yards past the LOS and a fifth is there.
None of the guys downfield is being dealt with by more than one blocker, and that heap at the top of the screen is comprised of four Michigan players blocking two UMass guys. This one was a duck that barely got more than 30 yards that Gallon stayed away from.
UMass's second punt is from the ten and is a line drive of about 35 yards. The director used an end-zone shot, but here's the catch:
UMass's third punt was from the 42. On the kick:
You've got the two guys M did in the center releasing; they're further downfield. There's a guy on the edge who is doing a crappy job of getting a release and two outside guys against single blocking who are free to run. This punt is a beauty that goes 45 yards in the air and is fair caught:
And this is one of the worst teams in I-A.
Playing with fire
Michigan is doing it. They're giving back large chunks of the yards Hagerup's boomers are grossing and leaving themselves exposed to a game-changing return.
It's probably too late to do anything about this without risking a Boccher-style debacle, and I doubt Hoke has much interest in doing so anyway. On the upside, if opponents keep doubling the gunners you'd expect a fake to be pretty effective once you're playing six on eight in the box. The opponent can choose not to do this if you're in a situation when a fake is a reasonable possibility, though, and then you're stuck with two guys past the LOS when the kick launches.
*[I found it by looking at referrers; it looks like it wants to stay off the radar in case trolls or ND Nation admins descend so I'll forgo a link.]
Formation notes: Nothing particularly new from Michigan except the Norfleet-end-around thing, which I just called 2-back. The plays run from it are being called "triple veer" since there's a third option there, not that I think any of these things are reads.
This was early; Dileo did not come in motion. Same formation plus Norfleet coming in == triple veer series against UMass.
Funchess means a lot more 2 TE formations. Reminder: TV never shows substitutions so I'm usually just describing the formation for the defense here, not the personnel. IIRC UMass was in 4-3 personnel the whole time; sometimes they would commit a LB to the slot, which I called nickel.
Substitution notes: Also nothing too unusual. Kwiatkowski was the starting TE and did pretty well; Funchess saw a lot of time; the usual WR rotation occurred. When Michigan pulled Lewan late they made the same flip they did at the end of the Alabama game, moving Schofield to LT, Omameh to RT, and inserting Burzynski at RG.
As promised, Hoke did not put any of the freshman linemen on the field. At this point we know who the staff is trying to redshirt. On offense those folk are: Braden, Kalis, Magnuson, Bars, Chesson, and Johnson. Norfleet, Funchess, Williams, and Darboh are playing.
|M35||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||3|
|Funchess off line, both TEs in two-point stance. Implies pass. M runs, shooting Funchess backside and sending Kwiatkowski to the frontside. Blocking bust as Barnum(-2) does not ever pop off the DT he is doubling with Mealer; unblocked LB in the hole. Kwiatkowski(-1) gets stuck between cracking down on this guy and trying to get a DB, eventually doing neither; Lewan(+1) gets big movement on his kickout when Toussaint(+1) bounces it outside. Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) had gotten nice movement on the backside.|
|M38||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||13|
|Omameh(+1) seals the UMass DT inside quickly, allowing Schofield(+1) to move out on a linebacker without delay. Either the hand or the keep works here; Denard(+1) keeps and manages to run through an ankle tackle attempt. Funchess(+1) is inline here and releases downfield, getting a block on a safety at about ten yards after running a fake dig. Barnum pulled through the hole but took a line way outside and did not block the last dude, the FS, who tackles. Denard is riding this mesh point longer [BWS].|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||7|
|MLB reads the Schofield pull and immediately starts heading for wherever he's going. SLB also reads the play and gets into the intended hole before Dileo can crack down on him. Mealer(+0.5) got a free release and pushes the MLB past where he wants to go, but Toussaint doesn't have anywhere to go on the playside. Omameh(+1) has blasted the backside DT back, though, and Funchess(+0.5) escorts a DE way downfield—mostly the DE being bad, not Funchess devastating him. Toussaint(+1) cuts back ably, juking a filling safety to his butt and picking up a nice gain. RPS -1? Nah, but I thought about it.|
|O42||2||3||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||TE Out||Kwiatkowski||16|
|Safety rolls down for eight man front, slot CB tight on the line. Both linebackers run right at the LOS on a straight dropback, Kwiatkowski comes wide open, Denard hits him, easy conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1) Kwiatkowski gets some YAC by running through a tackle.|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE Seam||Funchess||26|
|This is my candy now, baby. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). BWS picture pages.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q. I say, these chaps don't appear to be very good.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||14|
|Or LAZER, whatever. LB two yards inside of Gallon who takes off at the run on the snap, M throws the bubble, which is wide open. Gardner(+1) dominates the CB out of Gallon's way and it's an easy first down. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||-1|
|Mostly on Toussaint(-2). Kerridge takes on the playside DE a couple yards in the backfield, and Omameh goes upfield of that. Toussaint goes outside when a quick cut upfield is definitely positive yardage, possibly lots. Mealer(+0.5) had locked out a DT, Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) blew up the other guy. Instead Toussaint runs into an unblocked LB. Well... maybe. This does seem to be asking a lot of him to make a cut when he's going outside so clearly. But with Kerridge where he is Omameh has no shot of getting outside effectively and it's never a good idea to bounce when you have to go around stuff.|
|O41||2||11||Ace twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA Fly||Gardner||Inc|
|They're on to us: this is our passing formation. UMass brings both safeties up and the MLB reads the pull, shooting outside. Barnum's pulled and has two guys to block in space. He doesn't really block either. Denard has two options with his short stuff covered: bomb it against cover zero or start running around. He chooses the latter, missing Gardner by a few yards. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)|
|O41||3||11||Shotgun trips TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Rollout Fly||J. Robinson||Inc|
|A three-part flood on which the deep corner opens up. JRobinson is open as the CB to that side comes up on Roundtree's route, so Denard fires into the endzone. JRobinson is looking over both shoulders and may be able to do better than this, but Denard did leave it too far inside. It's still decent for a 40-yard pass. JRobinson has a shot at at a one-handed spear, but the S rakes it out. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||2|
|Barnum(-2) falls, allowing the DT right up the A gap. Toussaint manages to squeeze for a yard or two.|
|O43||2||8||I-Form 3-wide tight||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle drag||Gallon||Inc|
|UMass suckered and this will get turned up for a first down; Denard just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|O43||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch tight||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Hitch||Funchess||8|
|Lots of time as UMass sends three. Denard finds Funchess at the sticks and zips it in there, hard and low. This is between two defenders so I'll give Denard the benefit of the doubt. We don't get a replay, unfortunately, so I can't tell how good of a catch this is. I will go with my initial thought that is was really good. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||20 (Pen -0)|
|Backside DE does not contain, so Denard pulls. Neither LB to that side is scraping over the top, and then the playside guy is staring right at Denard with the ball and still runs away. Denard again ditches a shoe and still gets outside for a big gain. Uh... I guess Denard +1 for the read, but this was free yards from a bad, bad D. Roundtree(-1) gets a dubious holding call, but just let go, man.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|O40||1||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Pass||Screen||Toussaint||17|
|Both of the UMass LBs to the playside move towards the LOS as they see the OL release, but they move inside, which is not a good idea. Toussaint ends up in a ton of space; Barnum(+1) gets a block in space but I'm not sure he even needs to. Toussaint(+1) jukes a safety and picks up the first down; a second juke attempt at the sideline gets him tackled awkwardly. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1).|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB iso||Robinson||5|
|Barnum's guy fights inside of him, which is not a real good idea when you don't have any LBs behind you. Robinson cuts behind that as Lewan(+0.5) as eliminated the end; Toussaint(+1) gets through the other hole and redirects into a filling safety. Denard's cutting behind that when Barnum's guy tackles. I'm a little leery about Barnum's role in all this but I'll forgo the minus. Mealer(+0.5) got a nice release into the MLB and Omameh got some push on the other DT.|
|O18||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||7|
|I think they've worked on the veer the past couple weeks. Denard's riding it longer and the FB, here Kerridge, is flaring out immediately so that that DE cannot take him out. Kerridge(+1) books for the playside LB and blasts him; Denard(+1) reads that the end is not containing Toussaint and gives. That's about it. A safety fills; Toussaint(+1) moves the pile another three yards.|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||11|
|This seems like a blown read by Denard(-1) as they block the backside OLB and let the 3-4 DE free. He hugs Schofield's back and shoots down the line, so Denard is one on one with the safety for six. He gives anyway. The line has caved in the Minutemen but Toussaint(+2) has to run away from the DE and finds a hole outside. Safety fill is going to take him down after two yards but he busts a tackle and tiptoes down the sideline for six. Lewan(+1) got the movement that created the gap; Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the backside DT and erased any potential LB pursuit.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA quick seam||Dileo||66|
|The usual. Linebackers suck up, Smith wide open behind them, etc. Denard's throw is a bit in front of Dileo but not too bad; Dileo makes a nice catch and keeps his feet, stiffarming a safety down but getting caught from behind by one of their linebackers. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +2)|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||5|
|Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blow up the playside DT, and that's about it. Barnum had some issues with his guy but managed to fend him off; Smith(+1) was decisive.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M12||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||4|
|This is probably a called play and not a read as there is no unblocked player. The run fake takes out the linebackers but UMass is run blitzing their FS right into the hole. Denard(+1) jukes him and is about to hit the jets when an OLB who stunted through clean makes a shoestring tackle. Oooooh. Too bad. Schofield(+1) blew up the playside DT; Kwiatkowski(+0.5) kicked the other guy well. RPS -1, but I like the creativity. Without this call on this is a nice gain.|
|M16||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Out||Jackson||INT|
|The fugly INT. If accurate this is a fine idea. It's not accurate. Also insert complaints about Jackson separation, or lack thereof. (INX, 0, protection N/A) Wow... on replay this route sucks. Jackson's post fake is basically vertical.|
|Drive Notes: Defensive Touchdown, 21-10, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||6|
|Giving it by alignment, M takes it. Aggressive DB gets upfield of Gardner and manages a shoulder tackle that gets Gallon off his feet. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M31||2||4||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||24|
|UMass puts one of their LBs over the second slot guy and goes six in the box, thus opening this up. The power of a stupid little play. UMass gets out of a lane and this opens up big. Toussaint(+1) gets a good LB block; Dileo(+1) does work on another LB, and Mealer(+1) gets a safety in space. Robinson(+2) sets his blocks up well and sets sail before that #9 again prevents a Michigan TD.|
|O45||1||10||Ace twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||25 (Pen -15)|
|LB blitz sent and picked up by Toussaint, who goes low. Mealer is backing out of a block and makes contact at the same time, which draws a chop block flag because they're throwing that on anything that even vaguely resembles a cut block with two guys. Unfortunate. That pickup gives Denard a ton of space, which he decides to use. Please be a trend. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|M40||1||25||Ace trips bunch||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||12|
|Always works; works. Lewan(+1) donkeys the corner, Gallon goes outside, safety fills. (CA, 3, screen) RPS +1? Sure.|
|O48||2||13||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||6|
|Lewan(+1) blows one DT off the ball; Barnum(+0.5) finishes sealing him. Williams(+0.5) takes on a DE, then moves to the second level, passing the DE off to Kerridge. Williams can't quite lock that LB out, though, and he falls to tackle Smith just as he's breaking through to the secondary with Omameh(+0.5) as a safety-destroyer in front of him. Potential TD otherwise.|
|O42||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||Okie||Pass||Drag||Gardner||42|
|UMass sends the house. Unblocked guy right up the gut who Smith blows up, allowing Denard time to step around and up into the pocket. Everyone else is taken care of. Gardner's drag has taken him past a LB; Denard hits him. Gardner then just barely outruns #9 (who can play) and tiptoes the sideline for a spectacular TD. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3, special Smith commendation issued)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-10, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M45||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||8|
|DL overplays to the playside here and the WLB is sucked out to the corner because Denard must be contained. Toussaint(+1) finds the cutback after Omameh(+1) shoots an aggressive DT past his hole. Schofield(+0.5) walls off the backside DE. Barnum and Mealer(+0.5) each combo to the second level.|
|O47||2||2||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||10|
|Barnum(+1) has a one on one matchup with playside DT and gets motion on the guy, driving him back a couple yards. SLB runs himself outside aimlessly. Williams and Lewan double playside DE and kick him out; would like to see Lewan climb to second level but this may be short yardage approach. Toussaint(+1) beats a filling safety to the edge and turns a first down into a small chunk. Mealer(+1) got a free release and beat up the MLB.|
|Nice play by the MLB to find the hole immediately, shooting past Mealer's block and arriving to tackle just as Kerridge is kicking out the SLB. Mealer(-1) could have taken a better angle to the second level, but this is mostly an RPS -1. Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) had provided a nice big hole with one on one blocks.|
|O36||2||9||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle throwaway||Roundtree||Inc|
|Everyone covered; LB specifically containing this play. Denard pumps and escapes outside, then just dumps it as he nears the LOS and it becomes clear he doesn't really have a running lane. Assumption is this was just putting the ball in the turf. (TA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O36||3||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||36|
|Has forever as UMass rushes three, then sends a spy late. Denard eventually decides to use those feet things, at which point laughter happens. Kerridge +1 for getting the downfield block that ends any chance of pursuit. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2, Denard +3 on ground)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-10, 4 min 2nd Q. They get it back with 2:02 to go and run a two minute drill.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Wheel||Smith||19|
|Play action with the three WRs running vertical. LB has to sink into the boundary route, opening up a wheel for Smith; Denard floats it in nicely. Smith(+2) then stops on a dime and spins inside the tackle attempt, turning eight yards into 20. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Cross||Gardner||Inc|
|Same route Gardner had for a TD. No pressure this time and Denard just misses this one. This was going for 20+ too. (IN, 0, protection 2/'2)|
|M36||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||-3|
|Denard appears to be looking for a Jackson hitch. There's a LB under it and he decides against the throw. LB then turns his back to chase downfield; Denard decides to run. Good decision, but he bumps into Mealer before he can get his motor running and falls. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2) Scramble awarded because this was a good idea that went bad; if Denard escapes the pocket he's got at least ten.|
|M33||3||13||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Cross||Dileo||16|
|This one is in between Dileo's numbers; route is a yard or two short of the sticks but the throw allows him to turn it up for the first down easily. No pressure. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||In||J. Robinson||9|
|Has just forever and eventually zings it to JRobinson just in front of a defender. Probably should have looked for Smith, who is abandoned, but he hit the guy so okay. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O42||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Hitch||Dileo||9 + 15 pen|
|Another pump, this one at Funchess on a little out; he decides against that and nails Dileo on a hitch. Against better opposition these delays may be a problem. Here Schofield(-1) did get beat; Robinson gets a faceful of DE. (CA, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1) This turns into a dodgy flag.|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||16|
|LBs way back, expecting pass and backing out at the snap. As soon as Omameh(+1) shoves the playside DT way down the line this is easy money. Mealer(+1) got a good downfield block; Robinson(+1) is fast and stuff and knows to burrow behind Mealer. RPS +2.|
|O2||1||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||0|
|Kwiatkowski(-1) does not get any push as a lead blocker and ends up stalemated; Kerridge runs up his back but can't actually contact an opponent, and Toussaint has no crease.|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Penalty||Illegal sub||N/A||1|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Speed option||Robinson||1|
|If this is a real option, Denard should pitch(-1), but doesn't. He gets tackled by a blitzer in too quickly on Lewan(-1), the fumbles(-2) as he reaches out to the goal line. Lewan, or someone anyway, recovers. Ah, hell. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-13, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun trips Te||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||13|
|DE is not containing Toussaint; give. That's about it. Rest of the D is in the box in case Denard keeps. Gardner, Jackson, and Roundtree(+0.5 each) all get okay to good blocks on DBs downfield. RPS +1.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||11|
|Identical thing to other side. DE does not show hard upfield, give. MLB gets outside of Dileo but for naught as there's a ton of space. Lewan(+1) pancaked the other guy, that's why. Jackson(+1) gets a good extended block downfield and Toussaint(+1) takes what's he's given, accelerating past fallen bodies until the sticks. RPS +1.|
|O17||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||-1|
|UMass slants; this catches Mealer(+1) but surprise but he adjusts to starts shoving the slanter by the play. Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) had comboed the backside DT and climbed to the second level; Toussaint gets past the Lewan block, downshifts to hit this gaping hole... and gets roped down by a hand. Bad luck, that.|
|O18||2||11||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Slant||Gallon||Inc|
|Batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O18||3||11||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Pass||Post||Roundtree||18|
|Excellent time; Denard finds and nails Roundtree on a post the safety probably should have covered but does not. Must have overplayed the route further inside. Not sure if this is too far outside or if Denard is playing it safe but he does hold Roundtree up some. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 49-13, 10 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||11|
|Playside DT ends up coming through the line but not sure if that's a big problem since by doing so he gets shoved way past where he wants to be by Mealer(+1). Toussaint cuts behind. Barnum(+1) is doing to the same to the next guy. He cuts behind. Kwiatkowski(+1) has blown the last guy two yards downfield; Toussaint(+2) bursts outside. He anticipates and leaps past the safety's attempt to fill, then jukes a corner, and he's in the clear. Pursuit takes him down at the sticks.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple veer around||Norfleet||14|
|Norfleet on the outside, he motions in and takes a quick handoff. Unblocked DE to that side is playing an inverted veer and lets Norfleet by. JRobinson(+1) cracks down and blows up the playside LB; the press corner goes with him. Gyarmati is leading now and has only the S to block. He does so; Norfleet tries to shoot past him, ankle tackle. Nice play by that S; if he only maintains leverage this might be six points. RPS +2.|
|O47||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||3|
|Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) bury the playside DT. Williams(+1) shoves the DE outside and then comes down on a linebacker; Gyarmati finishes kicking the DE. Barnum(-1) freaks out when Wiliams's guy starts moving upfield and hits him instead of continuing outside. He bounces back off this; Toussaint runs into him. That delay gets safeties involved; Toussaint gets what he can surrounded by white shirts.|
|O44||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||0|
|DE splits the two runners very well, getting Denard(-1) to keep and still tackling. Barnum(-1) flat lost his guy one on one, straight up, no slant, and he penetrates to prevent any Denard funny stuff.|
|O44||3||7||Shotgun empty TE||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Cross||Gardner||6|
|Back out from heavy pressure look to three man line. Gardner sets up on a hitch and then starts drifting across the field; Denard doesn't like the deeper look and zings it underneath. A tiny bit short of the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O38||4||1||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Rawls||18|
|They've replaced Lewan. Schofield(-0.5) now at LT, he does not get his DL moving and allows some penetration that ends up delaying a pulling Burzynski. Gyarmati(+1) plus a guy on the edge, who does not keep the edge; Rawls(+1) sees that and heads out there. He breaks contain, picks up a bunch of yards, and then lowers the boom on a pretty hefty dude to finish it off.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple veer give||Rawls||4|
|Playside DE goes straight at the pulling G and submarines him; Kerridge is trying to seal him inside so that the G can get out but he's got no shot. That's a two for one for the D. Corner is now the contain guy. He sees Rawls has it and is agile enough to crash down to tackle. Rawls takes a hit from the guy Burzynski couldn't block, too. RPS -1, but I like the concept.|
|O16||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Triple veer PA||JRobinson||Inc|
|Backside DE is going straight for Denard and gets instant pressure. Denard throws off his back foot at an open-ish Robinson and misses. Torn between IN and PR here. He had few alternatives and didn't put up a punt, so PR. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O16||3||6||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Out||Roundtree||7|
|WCO precision route with Williams taking a corner out and opening up a small window for the conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||9|
|UMass blitzes from the edge; Kerridge(+1) does a good job to come down on him and clock him, clearing the edge. The edge should be win UMass but the LB just biffs it, taking a crappy angle. Smith(+1) outruns him to the corner and gets in. An RPS -1, probably, but results.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 56-13, 3 min 3rd Q. Backups the rest of the way, including the walk-on OL. Charting ceases.|
Indubitably, I say.
You said these chaps weren't very good after the first drive.
Oh, right. They're not. Let's do the numbers. So I've got these—
[Hennechart legend is updated.]
|2011 through MSU||13||66(12)||11(1)||34(1)||17||2||3||10||4||55%|
|2011 after MSU||9||77(9)||7||17||9||6(1)||5(2)||9||5||69%|
An easy day with a lot of open guys and a few worrying misses. Those were the INT, the cross to Gardner flung over his head, and the little Gallon drag similarly flung to Tacopants. The fourth one was a bomb on which he was long, which happens. But hey no BRs (UMass covered no one so there could not be any) and some scrambles (UMass managed to both not cover anyone and give up huge running lanes).
As I was saying, indubitably.
BOOM 1987 CEREAL COMMERCIAL
This is burned into my head.
Let's talk about actual things. Denard accuracy monitoring?
Still feeling pretty good about it. Though UMass was actually a slight step back in the Downfield Success Rate metric, its impact on our hypothesis ("Borges + Denard == Tate Forcier passing") is positive since we need more data here.
He's still good for the one or two ARGH NO throws a game nothing will ever get him to stop. Look at those Throwaway numbers: three games, one ball I thought was not an attempt to complete a pass. Four more got filed as scrambles, but that's still a vanishingly low percentage of balls tossed away. Everett Golson doubled that in one game against MSU.
We got some more screens.
Yes, as Heiko's on-going, not-serious-but-actually-deadly-serious bubble/lazer-off with Borges highlights, Denard is throwing more stuff at or behind the LOS. The four throws marked as screens in the last game are almost half of Denard's output from the entire second half of last year.
Bubble bubble yes but there was also an honest to God screen-screen that Toussaint turned up for a bunch. Michigan hasn't been throwing those under Borges because when Denard has tried it he has gotten pressure in his face and launced balls well over the intended receiver's head. Maybe that's technique, maybe it's the fact that he's maybe six foot tall and there is no angle that he can throw the thing that won't get stuffed back in his face and not overshoot the mark dangerously.
On the linked screen above, Michigan actually gets it done by blocking the end and shoving the DT, giving Denard a window. The horizontal aspect also helps prevent disaster—previously a lot of these RB screens were going straighter up the field. I'm still not sure how much that's ever going to be a staple since teams tend not to blitz Denard hard, but having that option is a nice.
Also: throwback. Believe it.
What happened on the next play after that bubble you linked above?
UMass put about five and a half players in the box and got a QB draw in their face for 24 yards. Panacea, no, but an effective play that opens up the rest of your offense when people on the edge are accounted for man-to-man.
Denard doing stuff with legs?
Michigan's been working on the veer. Michigan has moved from a stationary quick pull to the more common hop-hop-hop-decide process where the QB rides that fake as long as possible and only makes a decision when he feels the DE has committed. Even when he doesn't commit that movement and delay gets results on the second play of the game:
You'll notice that the pulling G actually runs by that DE (and then widens out so far that he ends up blocking a guy already being blocked many yards from Denard, so they're not exactly a machine yet).
Michigan's also screwing around with some additions/alterations, like the Norfleet end-around series Michigan broke out in the third quarter.
There the DE is like "veer veer veer" and Norfleet just zooms by him. Once he's outside of that, a big gain is guaranteed. Michigan came back with a handoff and a play action pass off that, neither of which were as successful.
This was kind of like the Minnesota game last year when Michigan test-drove their sprint counter against the twitching corpse of a long-dead opponent. I like seeing new stuff enter the offense, but I'd rather bring it out against Notre Dame. What's the deal with all the secrecy around the program if they're just going to bring out the toys against the UMasses of the world?
Offensive line. 43 runs in this one, so numbers should approach normal… and would if I hadn't chalked up many of the yards gained as UMass being UMass. Remember that it's the ratio that is important for the OL. On a lot of plays they do okay and get a push.
|Lewan||7.5||1||6.5||Dominating in this game.|
|Barnum||7||6||1||Pretty concerning. Fell down some, got straight up beat a couple times.|
|Mealer||9||1||8||Mobility in space a pleasant surprise.|
|Omameh||7.5||-||7.5||Beating up on little guys, but Nix will be a load.|
|Schofield||3.5||0.5||3||Got beat once in pass pro, but fine. Think people got a little panicked because of Alabama.|
|Funchess||1.5||-||-||HE DOES EVERYTHING (against UMass sometimes)|
|TOTAL||39||10.5||79%||Meaningfulness: not meaningful.|
|Robinson||10||5||5||Hit him for the fumble.|
|Toussaint||13||2||11||Did a lot of bouncing, hit a lot of holes, juked some guys.|
|Rawls||1||-||1||Lowered the boom on a pretty big dude.|
|Smith||4||-||4||Spin move was sweet.|
|Kerridge||3||-||3||Insert complaints about scholarship FBs.|
|TOTAL||31||7||24||Gyarmati was also +1.|
|Protection||32||2||94%||Team –1, Schofield -1|
That's what happens when you average almost 7 YPC without a run longer than 36 yards. Note also the near-flawless day in pass protection. Denard had forever, and on that 36 yard run he had two forevers before finally deciding to take off.
So, yeah. Complete obliteration of a foe that can only be obliterated and causes panic if you do not obliterate them. File under necessary and not meaningful.
POWER OL POWER RANKINGSSSSS
Barnum had problems?
Yeah. He fell down a couple times; once he just never popped off a double and exposed Toussaint to an unblocked LB, and late on a veer-type run he got beat straight up. By ND transfer Hafis Williams, so not a total scrub, but from a confidence perspective guys who transferred away from the team you're about to play are not the best guys to beat your OL.
Last game I thought Omameh struggled and Barnum did pretty well, so jury is out on both guards.
Toussaint's pretty good again?
Yeah, man. Independent of the opponent he tiptoed the line for a TD and I love a particular aspect of this zone that cuts all the way across the field. Try to figure out what it is:
If you guessed "the little hop he takes when he perceives that an ankle tackle is coming from behind," you win an MGoPoint.
[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]
A bit of a fuss was made about Gardner only bringing in 8 of 20 targets this far. I'm missing one, but of my 19 he's got seven with no shot and three really tough ones. It's somewhat about his routes, but I chalk most of that up to "is deep threat".
I've mentioned this already this week, but Dileo is increasingly a guy who I'm comfortable with getting lots of playing time. He's not big, he's not super fast, but he catches everything in his area…
…and has a knack for keeping his feet as he does so. Usual slot-dot drawbacks apply; Dileo adds a fourth or fifth guy who I think is a pretty good receiving option.
QB Oh Noes returns?
A point of order is in… order after I saw a bunch of @replies in the twitter and BWS pointed out the vast open Funchess TD. QB Oh Noes was coined here to specifically refer to plays on which Denard himself takes a step towards the line as part of a run fake and then backs out. The PA fake made here:
Is something RR did a bit but not a ton. Borges, on the other hand, does run it a ton, and did last year as well. Now that he's got Funchess running down that seam expect even more of it.
[Also, BWS points out that Omameh is not quite Air Force-level illegally downfield. Illegal downfield: go for it, OL!]
Special commendation Vincent Smith needs out-of-table love.
"Why isn't Norfleet playing more?" the message boards ask. That is why. Fingerguns Smith.
BONUS: that's the play of which Borges said this:
I’m knocking on wood. I never assume anything, but his footwork is like night and day. He’s pulling balls down now and working up underneath the pocket and taking off and buying beats. He had a play during the game and it was a zero blitz where he got underneath the rush, gave Vince a chance to chip off a blitzing linebacker and threw the ball to Devin for a touchdown. A year ago he would have run backwards, and they’d have chased him for about an hour, and he’d probably end up throwing it out of bounds.
I'm ready to upgrade the Denard Can Throw hypothesis to a theory if he can just do it on Saturday.
BONUS BONUS: Smith spin move swag featuring Denard touch pass.
If you're really mean and stuff, Barnum could have done better.
What does it mean for ND and the future?
Sadly, not much. The worries about the OL will go one way or the other on Saturday and I'm not sure which one it will be. Schofield's going to come in for scrutiny—I'm guessing he handles it fine. More concerned about the guards.
Meanwhile, inching towards the idea that Denard can throw… sidling up to it, not looking at it directly, maybe giving it an eyebrow. Saturday is maybe not an acid test against a young secondary featuring three position switch starters, but after last year yeah it's an acid test. Let's do some stuff not on Gary Gray's back.
“Well obviously you know this is a big week, and it’s a great, great football game and it’s going to be a great test for our defense, and just starting out I can tell you our guys are really excited. We as coaches are really excited, so we are looking forward to playing this game.”
How impressed were you with how Notre Dame played against Michigan State?
“Very impressed. They’re a very good football tam. They can run the football. The quarterback really impressed me with his ability to throw the football as well as he puts a lot of pressure on you when he takes off scrambling, and he can run. They’ve got some fast running backs. They’ve got a pretty good thing going.”
Is preparation for them different this year compared with last year?
“Uh, you know I don’t know if it’s any different prep. They’ve changed a little bit but they’re still Notre Dame. They want to run the football and they want you to make mistakes so they can hopefully get a shot on you and try to test your coverage with their speed and take shots down field. So I think it’s a lot alike. ”
I'm feeling quite a bit better about Michigan's DL performance now that I'm actually going over the tape. They're not doing much more than it seems like they did live, but since no actual NT types are getting much time and a lot of the problems rest squarely on the shoulders of things like "let's see if Mario Ojemudia is a 3-4 DE" and "let's see if Frank Clark is a three-tech." They turn out not to be.
Hopefully we can file this under experimentation and things won't be so bad when the big boys are actually in there. If Michigan goes long stretches without Washington, Campbell, or Pipkins on the field against Notre Dame I'll be surprised. And possibly catatonic.
Not everything can be waved away by calling it mad experimentation, unfortunately. Michigan's linebackers, be they beardy veterans or baby-fresh newcomers, are not making plays. One particular example leapt out because I'd just seen the UMass LB read Michigan's sprint counter, shoot past a blocker, and fill.
Thing I'm talking about == watch Mealer and the MLB
UMass gave up seven yards because all their guys ended up downfield but that's not on the LB.
On UMass's next drive they'd run a play that's very close to that sprint counter. It's just the plain ol' counter, but it's got a pulling tackle that leaves for the wide side of the field on the snap, a linebacker who could be but must not be looking at that, and positive yardage for a team that has struggled to find any.
Late first quarter, second and ten, UMass comes out with trips and a TE to the boundary (short side). Michigan is in the nickel look they spent almost the whole day in. Your DTs are Brink and Black; your ILBs are Bolden and Ross. Ryan is the DE who gets run at.
The tackle at the top of the field pulls.
My great and powerful desire in the above frame is for a Michigan linebacker to read that pull, bug out for the frontside, and hit whatever hole the tackle shows up in. I've been thinking of Notre Dame's linebackers this week since Notre Dame is the next team on the schedule, and they do this. If you zone your line one direction or pull a guy, they're gone. They go so hard it seems they leave themselves open to misdirection and counters, but that seems preferable to the steady drip drip of not getting off blocks.
Ross doesn't do this. He's moving, but the wrong way. Everyone else has taken two steps here; he's gone a half yard and drifted slightly to what would be the playside if this was the standard inside zone. Bolden, by contrast, sees what's going on and gets on his horse.
A moment later, Ross is kaput, Bolden is moving at the LOS, and there's a pretty big hole because Black is not a nose tackle.
Bolden makes contact at the LOS. This is a good place to make contact, but the thing that bugs me here is something I can't show you in a still.
Here's a still anyway. Bolden's got to the LOS and he's got this tackle and he forms up. Okay. But even if Ross is here, the RB is going outside of Bolden. All he does is make the gap somewhat small. He has not MADE PLAYS.
As I watched this I started getting frustrated with Bolden's approach. This is a technique thing and I may be wrong, but don't you want this contact to be less dainty?
I want some BOOM at the end of that approach. Bolden just kind of catches the guy, which has two negative impacts. One: he does not go BOOM. If Bolden really whacks this guy he has a good shot at giving Cox no crease, or at least forcing him to slow down and pick another one. Two: he cannot make a tackle because he hasn't hit him hard enough to set up outside. No tackle, no funnel, no point. His ability to impact the OL at the LOS is essentially irrelevant because he didn't turn it into the Situation BOOM [tm shutdown fullback].
Like, I want to insert a little fireball when Bolden makes contact here. Instead, crumpets. There is some amount of control that must be deployed to prevent you from not impacting the play. Here the control makes you… not impact the play.
Anyway. Cox bursts through the hole…
…and is hewed down after six yards.
Things and Stuff
Once you've committed to the run you should COMMIT TO THE RUN. Whenever you're hitting a blocker in the backfield you get a check-plus for your read. But because Bolden just impacts the guy softly, he does not force Cox into a new hole. He doesn't even get the diving arm-tackle attempt Ryan puts in, and Ryan has contain responsibility.
Bolden needs a little Ross in him on this play. Not the Ross on this play. The Ross on other plays. The ones where he meets a guy at the LOS and that guy ends up on his back, antennae flailing in the air.
I don't get what Michigan's reading. You can't chalk this up to Ross being a freshman since he's a freshman who seems in the process of displacing Kenny Demens and Michigan linebackers have been frustrating like this for a year-plus now. Are they supposed to be looking in the backfield? Are they making Mattison chew his lip in frustration? Does Michigan require their DL to fill a bunch of these holes and want to use LBs as a cleanup crew?
I don't know. I hear Alabama LBs talk about what they see before a play even starts…
…and I'm like whoah. It doesn't seem like Michigan's getting much of that.
Big dang hole here. Black gets put away, but I'm not sure that's a problem with him. He doesn't know a tackle pulled. He sees the guy in front of him start inside zone blocking. He wants to get in his gap. He does. This goes back to the questions about Michigan's line slants against Alabama. If the DL controls his gap and you've got the extra guy who knows where the line is going, you should have a free hitter somewhere. Michigan has not gotten that much this year.
Ryan: active. Here he almost makes a great play by coming upfield of his guy and making a tackle attempt without giving up the outside. He did this late enough that his attempt did not open the hole any wider. He's a quality player.
Nice fill from Gordon. This is only six yards despite a tailback running untouched through the LOS because he comes down well and tackles in space.
COOPER BARTON. Ace was in The Presence. Then he got some chicken.
FUNCHESS. Like OMG I don't know why Ace is so high on this guy.
OFFENSIVE LINE: CONCERN? At this point, probably.
DENARD INT. Still an every game thing, it seems.
DL: WHERE IS IT? Let's recycle this one from last week
SPREAD PUNT PLZ. MSU, ND, and OSU are now using this thing.
TALKIN' BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC. Mostly discussion of the MSU-ND game for obvious reasons. (Those being: no one else played anyone last week and no one plays anyone this week. Woo nonconference schedule.) We do get into Cal-OSU, the tire fire in Madison, and repeat this dramatic assertion: PURDUE IS YOUR LEWHATEVER DIVISION FAVORITE.
SONGS. "I Bombed Korea," Cake. "Disarm," Smashing Pumpkins. "Gangnam Style," PSY. It happened. I saw it. Was anyone else paying attention?
The usual links:
9/15/2012 – Michigan 63, UMass 13 – 2-1
I don't have anything incisive to say about Saturday's events. Even if I did it would be equivalent to taking a scalpel to a pig you dropped out of a hot air balloon: the scene speaks for itself, and you're not going to come out of it with ham.
I'm with this guy:
I started poking around previous events like this to figure out what you're supposed to say when the predictable thing that doesn't mean anything happens, finding this after the 2010 Bowling Green game:
It's been a long time since this has happened, but in the aftermath of a 721-yard outburst against a I-A opponent there's no grand emotional narrative arc to relate. Last year there was a sense of relief after the Western game; the Eastern game was a reminder that sometimes Michigan plays teams obviously worse than they are and beats the pants off them and isn't that nice but sometimes the quarterback goes down and that's not nice at all. The Bowling Green game was that minus a loss to a 3-9 MAC team the year prior—i.e., a pleasant nothing in which crappy special teams play was just an opportunity to rack up more yards on offense.
A couple years further removed from actual losses to these sorts of teams, or even vaguely competitive games and you can't even offer that paragraph. That game… existed.
Things happened, but the only ones you can derive anything slightly meaningful from are scattered opponent-independent events and those in which the domination was not dominating enough for your sense of optimism. Like the defensive line. You know, the one I tweeted my despondency about in the midst of giving up six points. Denard, who made everyone a little leery when he missed on any pass. Yeah, Michigan won by 50 but the only things that meant anything were a tiny bit bad because they implied you might be unhappy at a future date.
This is what happens when you play a UMass and you're still jumpy from the bad old days. Let's always be bored and have little to say, forever and ever, amen.
The Observer/MGoBlog cooperative had not one but two(!) guys on the sideline on Saturday. Regular man Eric Upchurch:
And new guy Bryan Fuller:
A bonus NOTE for anyone out there blogging: the MGoBlog flickr page now has tags and everything, so if you're looking for a Creative-Commons-licensed photo of player X, that's the place to find it. Just hit us with a link if you use one.
This is all offense:
There's a shorter but more diverse MGoBlue version.
Bullets That Didn't Slip On Quite Enough Gore
Brady Hoke not-that-epic double point of the week. Well… nearly 400 yards of total offense and another dump truck of articles wondering if this is something that will hold up in the big bad(?) Big Ten means it's Denard again, doesn't it?
Honorable mention: Fitzgerald Toussaint, Will Hagerup, Frank Clark, probably some OL.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS:
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon (retroactively awarded for Alabama game)
Chasing Jim Mandich. Devin Funchess adds 34 yards and now needs 1355 to pass Jim Mandich. At his current pace he needs 29 games to do so.
The irrational worry that you all have too. Defensive tackles are killing us. Or will be killing us, at least. Possibly. QUALIFIERS. You get the idea.
Roh makes some plays here and there and will fill a hole, force a bounce, etc. Clark is making some plays, yes against not great competition, but that's something to hang a hat on maybe. The DTs? Yeesh.
It didn't help that Michigan ran a pass-defense crew out there with Roh and Black your two DTs with Clark/Ojemudia and SLB du jour at DE. That was their nickel setup and when Michigan ran it on standard downs the line let guys through. Usually for three or four or five yards, but we're talking about a team that has issues gaining one on most downs. Washington and Campbell weren't in much, were never in together, and Pipkins didn't make an appearance until garbage time. Ash was totally absent.
What do you make of that? Just practicing for what seems a very pass-reliant Notre Dame attack? Willfully giving up some rushing yardage just to get the linebackers reacting to QB draws and runs and whatnot? Or doom?
You can make a case for the former. Michigan started screwing around with their kickoffs to see if they could come up with anything better than Wile belting it eight yards into the endzone (verdict: no), and was probably just working on things they wanted to work on once the score got out of hand.
It gives me the willies, though. Especially Pipkins being exiled to the bench for so long. That implies he's further from the field than everyone wants him to be. Or that diabolical Hoke machinations are waiting for the ND game to spring the Great and Powerful Pipkins on unsuspecting Irish. That's the ticket.
Clark, at least. I know we've gotten just one and a half games from both Clark [@ right by Upchurch] and Beyer. Clark has had the full game versus UMass, Beyer the full game versus Alabama. This is not a strong basis for comparison.
Just eyeballing it, though, gives a clear edge to Clark. He is Making Plays™. Beyer didn't seem to be. Clark was by far the superior option against Air Force and was the most active DL on Saturday. He's making spectacular bat-downs of opponent passes something of a trademark. I like trademarks that aren't "I don't do anything much."
He and Ryan will have to get a ton of pass rush to keep heat off Michigan's secondary. Michigan really, really needs him to be a playmaker. He's the only guy who is consistently getting into the backfield even against the UMasses of the world.
FWIW, it looked like Ojemudia was doing a bunch of freshman things when he got in there. He'd overrun a play with a bad angle and let Cox cut back, giving up a big chunk, or he'd miss a tackle, etc. He's Clark last year.
Funchess. The touchdown was just Funchess being wide open and could have been scored by anyone on the roster, including guys out for the year with injuries. That third-down conversion was maybe something to hold on to despite it being Funchess's first catch of under 21 yards. [@ right by Fuller]
On that play Denard moved around a bit and fired a hard, low ball at the sticks. That was either a crappy throw or a great pass to keep it away from defenders; either way it was a tough, tough ball to dig out, especially when you're 6'5". Funchess had no problem. Give him hands to go with that frame and he doesn't have to add much weight—if any—to be a crippling matchup. If you've got a two-TE set out there the defense is either going nickel and giving Funchess someone he won't have much issue blocking or conceding the LB matchup that is never going to go well.
The wide receiver corps in general: hurray? Other than some of the guys being little buggers who are easy to overthrow, I think Denard's targets are way less of a concern than we thought they'd be at the beginning of the season. Funchess is a big part of that. Also coming through: Devin Gardner, who is looking downright comfortable three weeks in, and Drew Dileo, who may not be much to look at—he gets called the "white receiver" by his teammates, except he doesn't—but will snag that bullet you put too far in front of or behind him no problem.
Dileo's big reception was reminiscent of the key late crossing route he snagged against Ohio State, and twice this year he's kept his feet after tough catches for big hunks of YAC. He's a nice option to have.
Strength of competition disclaimers apply, but would you swap Michigan's WR/TEs for Notre Dame's? Maybe, but it's debatable. The Irish are running out versions of Jeremy Jackson (John Goodman) and Drew Dileo (the Toma kid), and Michigan's running out a guy who hopes to be Tyler Eifert (but fast!). How about Michigan State's receivers? No way. Ohio State's? Ask again later. I'll take that for a group that was supposed to be a weak point of the team.
One downer event here was Jerald Robinson not catching a 40-some yard TD pass that was in his hands. Before that he complicated matters by doing a 360 with the ball in the air—never good. If he'd just located the thing properly he could have used his body to separate from the DB and possibly have prevented the rake-out that occurred.
Oh, wait, right, the other thing.
Also a downer. The pick-six. Here's an endzone view:
That's a bad throw to a guy who was kind of open, but Jeremy Jackson being slow contributed a lot, too. He makes that post cut threat. The safety hardly reacts, then he jumps the out when Jackson rounds it off to the outside. That INT reminded me of Countess jumping a Jackson route in the spring game. Without any fear of being beat deep, that was easy pickings. Here you've got a UMass corner in straight man to man against a guy who threatens to go up the middle of the field by himself and still no separation.
I noticed something similar in the Air Force game when a heavily-pressured Denard fired one out to Jackson on third and long. Jackson had a shot to make the catch and could not, but wouldn't have gotten the first down anyway. Dileo was running the same route on the opposite side of the screen and had enough separation for some nice YAC. The smaller guys are harder to hit but they get away from opponents a lot more easily.
(Yeah, Denard has a couple other guys open here. He's also got an unblocked guy in his face and a player in man to man who should be able to get separation. It's not the decision but a combination of the throw and the route that are problems. I'm guessing Denard is repeating what Borges says here:
"It was a good read, just a bad throw," Robinson said.
The bu—LAZER screen. Michigan threw a couple of them. They gained nice yardage, because they always do. Borges has renamed it the LAZER(!) screen—the Z, I feel, is implied—and will hopefully swallow his pride long enough to test it out against Notre Dame. The Irish got smoked on all manner of WR screens against Purdue and it was only Zeke Motta making a great play that held down MSU's attempt.
MSU does not have a Gallon, and with Slaughter out Motta is either going to be in center field or Notre Dame will be rolling with a redshirt freshman who played WR last year as the last line of defense. Here's hoping the new nomenclature allows Borges to go after ND's inexperienced CBs and their tackling early and often.
TURNOVERS! Ain't got none. Problem? Eh. Most of Michigan's first two games were spent defending all of the runs, and the third did not feature many defensive plays at all. Opponents have fumbled seven times, but Michigan's only recovered two. One was Hagerup beaning the returner in the head, the other the meaningless one at the end of the half. Michigan has recovered two of seven fumbles on D and both of their offensive fumbles. So, like … about half.
Oh, that's too small of a sample size, you say? I hate you so much.
The real turnover concern. If Michigan can't get pressure on the QB, they will suffer a decline in fumbles and ill-advised passes generated, and without Mike Martin and RVB that seems a virtual certainty unless Clark busts out enormously. Save us, Mattison zone blitz machine.
Cooper Barton. …probably shouldn't have gotten a bigger cheer than Ron Kramer. Priorities, people. Now we're just waiting for him to release a song on Youtube ("Michigannnn, Michigannnnn, gotta get down on Michigannnnnnnn") they'll play every game.
But he is cute!
Seriously. That is a cute five year old. Someone cast him as a gnome in something. Preferably something in which gnomes make no sense, like the next Fast and the Furious movie.
But at least there's a hole. Second straight week we were mercifully without "In The Big House." I'd crumble to my knees in thankfulness if there wasn't a small child in front of me who would kick me in the face as a result.
Heiko? This is not professional. BUT IT IS AWESOME
(This is not actually Heiko. Obviously.)
Kramer jersey. Giving it to Moore [@ right by Fuller] clears up a lot of things: they're just going to hand them out to people, they're not going to make sure they're stars, and anyone can get them. I'm not even sure they'll make sure they're around every year now, but I'd guess once the jersey is vacated someone will hop on it. I'd bet Butt or Hill is wearing #87 next year.
I do wish those patches were a little less busy. Last name, years present, those things better, no border. /boom runway'd.
There are other players. Michigan's still struggling to make their video boards not useless hunks of metal that annoy you with any advertisements they think they can get away with. To date this has been a struggle, but they took a big step forward last week by telling the goof running the replays to zoom out so you could see more than the texture of the ball. I have no idea when they made this change because I didn't even bother to look at the replay board until the second half, so well have they trained me to believe that there is nothing of use on it.
There is no middle ground between nothing and everything. Spartan Stadium put their meat on the table with scoreboards BIGGER and MORE POWERFUL than Michigan Stadium's. Reviews:
You Know What Would Look Really Sweet On The Scoreboards??
Some f---ing statistics. 5,412 square feet of scoreboard and you can't put any kind of statistics up at any point??? I literally never saw any stats at all the entire night. Hell, with our anemic offense, you only would have needed about 10 square feet for our stats. I'm glad to see that Huntington, Pepsi, GMC, Fly Lansing, and every other f---ing company in this damn state is sponsoring us, but I feel like it wouldn't be too much to ask to set aside some room on the ribbon to put stats up. There were points that the sponsor area on the scoreboard just had the MSU logo or some little design. I don't know why you can't put some stats up at that point. …
That just really annoyed me and I'm just in a bad mood. Might already be a thread on this. Didn't look. Don't care.
The only thing preventing Dave Brandon from doing this is the threat of outright revolt in the fanbase. That's something he's directly stated multiple times in the pass. He's already fitting advertising in anywhere he can. The poles outside the sections went from vaguely-plausible-here-is-our-Stubhub-partnership ads to flat-out Consumer's Power, Whichever Bank is the Sponsor Now things.
It's a slippery slope and any relaxation in the posture will result in the kind of stuff described in the blockquoute above. Remain strong, my people.
Hype videos. They're missing something this year. I really liked the last couple years with the people saying the things; now there are no people saying the things. Probably too late this year, but for 2013 how about something based around the famous Yost quote the HSR deploys on its sidebar?
"But do let me reiterate the spirit of Michigan. It is based upon a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways; an enthusiasm that makes it second nature for Michigan men to spread the gospel of their university to the world's distant outposts; a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours."
--Fielding H. Yost upon his retirement as Michigan's athletic director in 1942.
Maybe you need to tighten it up a little, sure.
Throw that in the mix with last year's "Team, Championships, Heismans" thing and Bo's The Team The Team The Team speech and you've got a nice rotation.
Inside the Boxscore resolves a mystery anyone watching at home experienced:
During one random play in the game, two M defenders ended up hitting the UMass ballcarrier at the same time, from opposite sides. The B1G Network announcer called this a “Malachi Crunch.” There’s nothing like B1G announcers breaking out a 36 year old reference to describe a play. For those still in college reading this diary, the “Malachi Crunch” refers to a demolition derby move employed by the Malachi brothers against Pinky Tuscadero, as shown in a three-part 1976 episode of Happy Days. Fonzi risked his life to rescue Pinky. Then, he baited the Malachi Brothers into trying the move on him. He moved his car at the last moment, causing the Brothers to Crunch themselves. I think providing you with this bit of worthless trivia is entirely consistent with my avatar.
Hawthorne(!) was our leading tackler.
Will Hagerup - This guy is back and better than ever. I must have re-watched the 70-yard-in-the-air blast off the facemask of befuddled UMass return man 7 times minimum. Punts like that could be game-changers going forward.
Robinson threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns Saturday during No. 17 Michigan's 63-10 win over Massachusetts, passing both Brady and Harbaugh on the school's all-time list to move into fifth place overall.
In addition, he's now just 91 total yards shy of passing Henne and becoming Michigan's all-time leader in career total offense.
"To be honest with you," Robinson said after the game. "The only thing I think about is winning, and coming out and being accountable for my team.
Robinson has now thrown for 5,630 yards in his four-year career, and is 208 shy of Todd Collins for fourth all-time. He's also racked up 9,210 total yards with both his feet and his arm, just 91 shy of Henne's all-time mark.
The Daily on Cooper's day out. Vincent Goodwill at the news has a novel take on things: Denard is too important. Meinke is like "how does Michigan use Denard less" and I'm like "isn't it clear that's never happening by now?"
The Daily on the band.
Blog stuff and stuff. Hinton finds an excellent picture of a terrified umpire:
I have no idea where this comes from
Hinton's survey of the CFB landscape is heavy on the Big Ten. We're not good!
Outside of Northwestern's 3-0 run in the Smartypants Series, Big Ten teams are 1-8 against their peer group, before accounting for other marks of shame like Minnesota's overtime escape from UNLV, Wisconsin's ongoing struggles with the likes of Northern Iowa and Utah State (see below) and Penn State's loss to Ohio U. of Ohio. Even the apparent bellwether, Ohio State – setting aside the fact that the apparent bellwether is coming off a 6-7 record in 2011 and is ineligible for the conference championship under a first-year coach –legitimately struggled Saturday to put away Cal at home. That still stands along with Michigan State's win over Boise State as the most valuable non-conference skins on Jim Delany's wall, and unless Michigan delivers another dagger to Notre Dame's fragile psyche next week in South Bend, it will have to hold up until the bowl season. Who's looking forward to that?
The prize for winning the conference now appears to be an execution at the hands of Oregon, USC, or Stanford in Pasadena.
MVictors is calling Brandon "#1000SSS" for some reason:
Old 98?: Speaking of Legends and #1000SSS…while Tom Harmon is listed on the game tickets to be honored October 20th before the Michigan State game there has been no announcement of any formal plan to honor the 1940 Heisman Trophy winner. My understanding is that it’s not dead yet and U-M is still trying to talk to the family. Stay tuned.
My ask: if we don’t honor Harmon, how about honoring Willis Ward on that day, the 78th anniversary of the fateful Georgia Tech game?
Oh by the way, f*** you guys. UMass running back Michael Cox, who played for Michigan from 2008-2011, had a pretty solid game for the Minutemen. He ended with 18 carries for 76 yards (4.2 yards per carry) behind a bad offensive line with not much of an aerial attack. There were a couple plays where he ran east-and-west when there was no hole, losing a chunk of yards. But he had some impressive runs against a Michigan defense that should have been able to clamp down on the running game. I never really thought Cox was a superstar, but I did think that he deserved a shot to play when the aforementioned Smith was being used as a feature back. The knocks on him were always fumbling (he never fumbled at Michigan, though there was a botched exchange in this game), learning the playbook (I didn't see any missed assignments in this game), and running east-west too much (perhaps a fair criticism).
Everyone knew that was coming. I don't necessarily disagree, but the guy just reverses field all the time, and this has to drive coaches nuts.
Photos from Maize and Blue Nation. Here's Cox saying hi postgame:
UMGoBlue also has a gallery.
Ordinary is underrated. Seriously. Christianity calls any of its non holiday seasons "Ordinary Time" after all. But, if we have learned nothing else from our social media revolution, it's that there is a certain beauty and joy in the every day, in the expected, in the run of the mill. That is, as Ann Howard Creel put it, the Magic of Ordinary Days.