First: a confession. I really wanted to have the UFR's raring to go early this week. You must believe me. I wanted to play Fallout 3, which I'd saved as an end of the year treat, slightly more. So… yeah. I am through the main bit of that and am now plowing through the OSU game at all speed. I apologize for lackadaisical behavior and certainly hope Michigan is taking their film breakdowns more seriously than I am.
Second: a confusion. If you're like me, Michigan's inexplicable lack of a free safety was a surprising and disconcerting feature of the Akron State Golden Bobcats game. Before, Michigan had safeties. During… not so much. The reason for this was twofold. One:
Michigan spent a lot of time in formations like this with Kovacs rolled up to the line of scrimmage. This leaves just one deep safety.
The guy on the far right in this still coming over the top of a tight end that's pretty dang covered is Troy Woolfolk. Result:
Not quite an eighty yard touchdown. This was the very next drive after Woolfolk did the same thing on incredibly easy Braxton Miller touchdown one.
And then… I mean… WTF. It's third and twenty seven for OSU on their own three yard line, and despite having a mistake-prone Braxton Miller and third and a billion from the three, Ohio State throws.
OSU's in an I, Michigan is in its usual under, albeit a nickel. You can see Kovacs rolled up to the line at the top of the screen; Floyd and Woolfolk are your two deep safeties.
OSU goes straight dropback. Michigan rushes three. You can see Ryan dropping off in the frame below; He'll set up to contain scrambles. Martin and RVB are doubled and get nowhere, but Roh got a speed rush on Mike Adams:
Adams tackles Roh and picks up the holding call that will give Michigan a safety. Huge play from Roh against a first round pick. But that's another Picture Pages. (It's not, actually.)
Given time, Miller sets up and chucks it. Where is Woolfolk?
On the 25, covering the slot receiver. Oh, balls.
NICE. KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN THE WHOLE TIME. WOO COUNTESS.
54-yard TD on which Woolfolk and Countess jump the underneath route:
Near 80 yard touchdown:
Third and twenty-seven:
Items of Interest
WTF was this? The consistency with which Woolfolk was jumping the underneath route suggests it was part of Mattison's gameplan. Watch Woolfolk on the video just above: he is sitting on the slot receiver. But if Woolfolk is supposed to come up in a robber, why the hell is Countess playing outside of Posey on both of the latter two throws?
On the first one Spielman starts chattering about how Countess can't give up in the inside, and my immediate thought was "dude that is not on him, that is on the free safety losing his mind." Then the second one happens and… if it's third and twenty seven and your free safety vacates the deep middle for the third time in seven minutes(!) can it really be Woolfolk blowing an assignment? Probably not. I have not yet run across the sideline reporter screaming "OH MY GOD GREG MATTISON IS LITERALLY EATING TROY WOOLFOLK'S INTERNAL ORGANS FOR BUSTING SPECTACULARLY THREE TIMES IN SEVEN MINUTES AAAAAAAAAH THEY TOLD ME THIS WOULDN'T BE LIKE COVERING BRIAN KELLY NOT AGAIN NOT AGAIN NOT AGAIN." If Woolfolk had not been doing what he was supposed to, this would have happened.
So. We think Michigan is playing a three deep coverage on which the middle safety is intentionally sucking up on intermediate routes and the corner is playing outside. That does not make sense. That throw in the middle of the field is easy relative to deep fly routes down the sideline—that's why there's always a deep safety—and Michigan is giving it to OSU all day. Even on third and twenty-seven.
I don't get it, man. Even if you assume Countess is a freshman and thus screwing up, you're still putting him one on one with Posey all game with no help at all over the top. That doesn't seem like a good strategy.
On the other hand. Maybe you can't blame Woolfolk for these plays because he was executing his assignment. I find it hard to believe he is not at fault on the 54-yard WTF on OSU's first drive and the half-ending corner route on which he reacted very late. If Michigan lost that game that was going to be the kid's legacy, sorry to say. OSU's gameplan was based around attacking 1) Morgan and 2) Woolfolk with a side of Floyd and Countess.
Braxton Miller problems. Putting Kovacs in the box on every play restricts what you can run in coverage and exposes the middle of the field; that spot Woolfolk keeps running into is the same one Stoneburner will exploit for a huge gain on OSU's disconcerting 82-second touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. On that play the safety (now Gordon) stayed deep and there was no one to tackle once Stoneburner found the soft spot in the zone.
[Update: you can see Gordon turn and run for the post, leaving no one behind Demens.]
So your choice is between opening that up and opening up the deep stuff; obviously neither of those is a great choice.
Hurray Roh. Roh has not developed into the devastating pass rusher Michigan fans were hoping for this summer. He's got four sacks, which is amongst the team lead but far short of the numbers an impact player would put up. Here, though, he beats a very good tackle and gets paid for his effort. Thumbs up.
News bullets and other important items:
- Delonte Hollowell had his redshirt burned two weeks ago.
- There will be some rotation between Thomas Gordon and Troy Woolfolk vs. Illinois regardless of which one wins the spot in practice.
- Ricky Barnum still limited in practice. Hoke says he "will play," however.
Opening remarks: “I’m going to make a brief statement just regarding everything up at Penn State. One thing I can tell you, we have an utmost respect for what coach Paterno’s done on the field. It’s really a situation that’s obviously unfortunate, but it’s one that doesn’t affect us. We’ve got to worry about Michigan and the decision that we make in getting ready for this week and going to Illinois and winning a football game.
“Now practice yesterday was good. I like it. I liked how they competed. I liked how they came out, had a lot of energy, and they fought like heck.”
(more after the jump)
Opening remarks: “The first thing I’d say starting out is that was a tough loss for us on defense especially because when you’re a great defense, you find a way to win the ball game. When we looked at the tape afterwards, you saw a lot of really good things and things that we hadn’t done all year. Just made a couple crucial mistakes that we could have really done something. That’s what we talk about all the time with these defenses. Let’s take it to the next level where whatever has to happen, the defense has to win the game. We really felt like there was some times when we could have done it.”
Is there a good explanation for why Thomas Gordon didn’t see the field? “He and Troy have been in a battle for who’s going to be that safety. Troy had a better week of practice, and that’s how it’ll always be at Michigan. The guys who have the best week of practice are going to play. As the game went on, you felt like the guy wasn’t tired, the guy wasn’t hurt, so keep going with what you have out there. He has been a part of some turnovers, but there’s other things on film also that you may not see that we as coaches have to make a decision on who plays, and that was our decision.”
Is it hard to pull a guy who’s been so productive? “Getting turnovers is a big part of the defense, but 60 plays of how you do is what we as coaches do. And we watch it and evaluate, and our job is to decide who has the best chance to help you win in a certain offense in a certain scheme. And that’s the decision that we make.”
How is that competition going this week? “Good. Good. There’s a lot of competition. In fact, there’s a number of other guys who had really good practices today, so that’s how it’ll always be here. It’s always going to be that Tuesday, that Wednesday, that Thursday. That’s when you’re going to make the team. There’s a lot of guys that are real close.”
So is it Troy’s spot and Gordon has to win it back? “Everybody has to hold their spot every week in practice. Nobody is given a spot and says, ‘This is your spot, it’s yours.’ And that’s the way it is with every player on that defense.”
When Countess took the job from Troy, was it kind of the same situation? “That’s what we do. That’s what we do until 12 o’clock at night. That’s what we do after we’re done here. We go up there and we’ll watch every play of this practice. As a coach, your job is to make a decision who’s going to help you win that football game against this opponent. Some opponents are different than others. That’s what we do. Mike doesn’t have that position locked. Ryan Van Bergen doesn’t have that position locked. Craig Roh doesn’t have it locked. It’s what you do every day in practice.”
(more after the jump)
So it's been seven games and it's a bye week so TACO PARTY—
this is a thing you can purchase at "Fine Art America"
or steal from your crazy Aunt Betty in Pensacola
—also generic bullety midseason-type post.
BEST DEVELOPMENT. Confirmation of the offseason's Greg >>> GERG theory.
he's like defensive coordinator Zooey Deschanel.
There are still obvious weaknesses and no obvious stars past a slightly disappointing Mike Martin, but it turns out having a coherent defensive philosophy is a lot better than running around screaming "we're all gonna die but at least my hair is fantastic!!!"
Pick a metric, advanced or not, and the improvement is incredible. The advanced ones are even more enthusiastic than the regular ones: Michigan is actually a top-20 FEI defense. Top 20! They were 108th last year! Excuse me, I have to go list this pool of razorblades, despair, and misery on Craigslist! Where an Ohio State blogger will purchase it to talk about their offense!
You can apply every massively-deserved caveat you can think of and the author will nod sagely about how that is a concern and the end result is still something that should approximate giddiness. When the turnovers stop coming in droves and a smaller percentage of games are played in a trash tornado, Michigan will backslide. But, like… backslide into the 40s or something. IE: the offseason's best-case scenario that didn't involve installing robots from the future at key spots.
RUNNER-UP, BEST DEVELOPMENT. Jordan Kovacs ending the debate about Jordan Kovacs.
If you strain your memory you can think back to a time where it was very warm and people had heated debates about whether Jordan Kovacs was any good or not. This was summer, and it was a silly time. A major reason the defense is scraping the ceiling of the ceiling above its best-case scenario is the near-total absence of big plays. Michigan still hasn't given up anything over 40 yards. Kovacs and (to a lesser extent) Thomas Gordon are primarily responsible for shutting down the Wolverine Free Touchdown Factory and shipping it to Thailand. WOO OUTSOURCING JOKE
WORST DEVELOPMENT. Denard's inability to hit Charlie Weis in three tries.
Even if you ascribe to the theory that Denard's passing success last year was largely a mirage when it came to Actual Big Ten Defenses*, his numbers against the two actual-seeming defenses on the schedule thus far have been horrendous. At least half of that can be ascribed to Denard just missing dudes.
Even running in place would have been disappointing after the quantum leap it seemed he made last year. He was still raw as sushi and could still be expected to move more towards quarterback-dom than a guy who'd had the slightest amount of polish. Instead the Al Borges-Denard Fusion Cuisine has shoved him back to being that guy who heaved it up against Iowa when he had a wide open Odoms running underneath. I didn't like that guy as much as the one from last year, warts and all.
*[Which I don't, FWIW. I UFR this stuff for a reason, and that reason is "so I can do something more than wave my hands in the air and say 'nuh-uh' when I would like to dispute someone else's assertion." I charted all of Denard's throws before the dismal end of the RR regime and there's a definite backslide.]
RUNNER-UP, WORST DEVELOPMENT. What happened, offensive line?
Last year you were all like blocking your way to an insane YPC and hardly giving up anything on the ground and this year you can't pull to save your life; the impregnable wall of no sacks was punched into smithereens by Michigan State. Now it's hard not to look at next year without a sense of panic.
MOST MIDDLING DEVELOPMENT. The tailbacks. It's still Vincent Smith and increasingly less Fitzgerald Toussaint (for reasons that are opaque to me). They're not awful. I still covet any tailback who wanders by to break a tackle or two.
MOST MISLEADING DEVELOPMENT. The defense's turnover-fu. It is not sustainable. Repeat this in your head a thousand times in a futile effort for its lack to be tolerable.
MOST DEVELOPING DEVELOPMENT. Special teams. They've been bad so far but the sample size is small. Brendan Gibbons made three(!) field goals against Minnesota and is 4/6 on the year. His two misses were both blocked. He might be serviceable. He might be benefiting from a bunch of chip shots—he still hasn't made one past 40 yards.
Meanwhile, the starting punter was suspended for the first four games and is averaging under 34 yards a kick because he was a nonfactor against Minnesota and Northwestern and seven of his punts came in a howling windstorm, six(!) of those from the Michigan State half of the field.
They can't cover kicks and can't return them, either. So… yeah. The jury is still out.
OFFENSE: FOCUS: OFFENSE
100% PURE COLOMBIAN AWESOME. Jeremy Gallon cloaking device engagement.
The play that followed it was pretty sweet, too, but that thing took Michigan from dead in the water to fightin' chance in The First Night Game Evar.
100% WORST THING EVER. Fourth and inches play action pass from the nine against Michigan State. I assume this needs no explanation.
THING THEY DO THE MOST. Run inside zone.
THING THEY DO WAY TOO MUCH. Throw deep.
THING THEY DON'T DO ENOUGH. Use stretch blocking and deploy the quick screen with the wide receivers to force a third defender to live outside the tackles. Michigan hasn't attacked the outside enough, allowing Michigan State's double-A-gap blitzes to be ludicrously effective.
BEST PLAYER. Well… Denard, despite obvious issues.
SECOND-BEST PLAYER. Taylor Lewan. Lewan has been near-flawless in pass protection, and has generally done well when the run game has come his way, which hasn't been often given their inability to pull left.
PLAYER WHO MIGHT WANT TO WORK ON SOME THINGS. Michigan hasn't been able to pull left largely because Patrick Omameh can't get to the hole before the tailback, which is not so good.
GUY WHO JUST IS WHO HE IS. Vincent Smith. He's a third down back and useful player who's not a guy you want to give 20 carries.
GUY WHO MIGHT GET A LOT BETTER IN THE LAST FIVE GAMES. Denard. Please, baby, please.
DEFENSE: FOCUS: DEFENSE
100% PURE COLOMBIAN AWESOME. Jordan Kovacs depositing his head into a ball Alex Carder happened to be carrying.
That sack is like the awful Nick Sheridan interception that kicked off the Rodriguez era and made its way into the Worst Plays of the Decade more for what it symbolized than the actual impact of the play. It heralds a sea change in Michigan's fortunes.
Caveats, caveats, caveats: Michigan is now deploying a zone-blitz heavy 4-3 under that will draw valid NFL comparisons and will hopefully start playing like Michigan defenses of old, and by "Michigan defenses of old" I mean "Michigan defenses of very old or more recent Ohio State outfits."
100% WORST THING EVER. It's a tribute to Michigan's safeties and Greg Mattison that the only long-ish touchdown they've given up was the no-safeties formation that handed Notre Dame a freebie right before the Gallon cloaking device play. But, man… that was kind of not good right there.
THING THEY DO THE MOST. Zone blitz.
THING THEY DO WAY TOO MUCH. Let guys outside the tackles.
THING THEY DON'T DO ENOUGH. Uh… you got me. /shakes fist at format established by himself
BEST PLAYER. Ryan Van Bergen, I think. It's close between RVB, Martin, and Kovacs, but Martin had a tough outing against Michigan State. Van Bergen played well. Kovacs had a storming game the first time out and is a major reason for the lack of long touchdown but has not has as much down to down impact. Maybe that's just the nature of being a safety. If Michigan gets through the rest of the year without getting bombed deep he'll win by default.
SECOND-BEST PLAYER. Kovacs. I don't hate Michigan's safeties except from time to time when Johnson is missing tackles.
PLAYER WHO MIGHT WANT TO WORK ON SOME THINGS. Weakside linebacker du jour. Woolfolk hasn't been good but that's obviously an injury thing. I've been leery about Jake Ryan from time to time but he's turning in enough good plays with his bad ones to nose above even most days.
But whoever's been at weakside linebacker has had issues. Brandon Herron started the year, had two defensive touchdowns, and got benched. Brandin Hawthorne came in for him, played okay for a bit, made some mistakes, and has rotated in and out with true freshman Desmond Morgan the past couple weeks.
GUY WHO JUST IS WHO HE IS. Will Heininger. Heininger hasn't been a disaster or anything but he is single blocked often, rarely makes plays, and is pretty much what you'd expect a walk-on to be at defensive tackle.
GUY WHO MIGHT GET A LOT BETTER IN THE LAST FIVE GAMES. There are two: Jake Ryan and Blake Countess. Both are freshman starters* turning in promising plays amongst the youthful head-vs-wall moments. Ryan in particular has cut down his blatant errors to getting cut to the ground a few times per game.
*[Countess is not technically starting. He is getting the bulk of the playing time.]
THE BIG TEN
THE WORST. Minnesota. We have a GopherQuest dedicated to their badness.
THE SECOND-WORST. Everyone else. This league is not so good. The team leading the East division starts Matt McGloin at quarterback and is coached by a guy without a headset who isn't on the sideline. The team leading the West division is Michigan State. There are no undefeated teams, no national powers, and it's inevitable that the league's bowl record is going to be 2-6.
FUTURE OPPONENTS IN ORDER OF CONCERN.
- @ Iowa
- Ohio State
- @ Illinois
BALLPARK RECORD AGAINST THOSE FOLKS. 3-2.
WHO'D TAKE 9-3. That's everyone.
WHO'D WHIMPER AND HIDE AT THE BOWL OPPONENT IN THAT EVENT. Also everyone. Okay, not you, message board hero who spent the last week calling Michigan fans whiners. You will say unreasonable things about the prospect of beating…
Wait. There are only two good SEC teams this year. Am I going to tremble at the sight of Arkansas or Georgia or South Carolina? No. Nevermind.
FIVE GUYS WHO SEEM PRETTY GOOD WHOM INSUFFICIENT DISCUSSION IS HAD ABOUT.
Bryce McNaul, Northwestern LB. (Heady, quick the hole, part of Northwestern's good run defense, injured too much, can do nothing about the nonexistent Wildcat secondary.)
Marcus Rush, MSU DE. (Rush has been overshadowed by the Gholston controversy but is actually a better player. Gholston does nothing once he is blocked; Rush will shed guys. Gholston would be on the bench if Tyler Hoover was healthy.)
Devon Still, PSU DT. (Still may be a reach since he is reaching tongue-bath levels but I was all about Still last year.)
Kawaan Short, Purdue DT.
Da'Jon McKnight, Minnesota WR. (Winner: most futile B1G existence.)
I'm pretty sure this is the shortest UFR table in a long time. Probably not forever since in the embryonic stages a lot of plays were described as "a big wad of bodies I can't figure out," full stop, but in a long time.
Substitution notes: Secondary was the usual; Countess came in in the second quarter for Woolfolk. He is clearly the #3 CB, with Johnson the #3 S. At LB it was Ryan/Demens/Hawthorne the whole way until garbage time. On the line the usual rotation with a bit less of the backups because there was no opportunity for the starters to get tired. Still no Cam Gordon.
Formation notes: Nothing we haven't seen before, and since Minnesota was so transparently bad I didn't bother to get a bunch of screenshots of certain plays.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Pistol 3TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Hawthorne||1|
|Heininger(-1) blown off the ball by a double; this should provide a lane but Martin(+1) drove the center back, Roh(+0.5) held up on the outside, and Hawthorne (+1) hit a lead blocker on the LOS, holding up surprisingly well. With nowhere to go we have a wad play that Roh eventually ends by tackling the RB.|
|O21||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Roh||-1|
|I think, anyway. No doubles from Minnesota as two guys release downfield into Gordon and Demens immediately. This means all of the DL are one on one and all of them end up controlling their guys, able to release on either side of them if the RB tries to hit a hole. RB tries to go outside where Roh(+1) is waiting and Gordon(+1) flows up to help; Demens(+1) had also beaten a block and was there. RVB and Martin pick up half points.|
|O20||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Sack||Van Bergen||-5|
|Stunt gets RVB(+2) through as the Gopher line busts; RVB tackles the relatively immobile Shortell before the Gophers can even finish their routes. (RPS +1, Pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O41||1||10||Pistol 2TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Demens||3|
|Martin(+0.5) is doubled; while he does give a little ground it's not much and the pulling G doesn't have much room. Hawthorne(+0.5) hits him near the line, causing a cutback into Demens(+0.5), who is unblocked because of the double and scrapes into the backside hole to tackle. Heininger(+0.5) did a good job closing down the intended hole as well; he popped off a defender and had a shot to tackle if the RB didn't cut back.|
|O44||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Out||Floyd||5|
|Delayed blitz does not get through; Minnesota throws a dinky route that Floyd lets happen; he tackles immediately. Fine.|
|O49||3||2||Ace twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Kovacs||-1|
|2TE motions into an H-back spot; Kovacs rolls down into the box. H-back flares in an attempt to kick out Roh(+2), the EMLOS. Roh bowls him over backwards. This cannot happen on a power if you're ever going to gain any yards. There is no lane. Pulling G derps his way past everyone without blocking anyone; Kovacs(+1) is blitzing from the outside; untouched, he tackles for loss. Hawthorne(+0.5) had also blitzed right into the play, so three separate M players were in a position to stop this. Minnesota is not good.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 4 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O6||1||10||Pistol twins||4-3 under||Pass||5||Out||Woolfolk||12|
|Minnesota successfully high-lows Woolfolk in zone. Not his fault as he's got a corner route coming from the inside and has to drop back into that; this naturally opens up an underneath receiver since there's no underneath help. (Cover/RPS -1)|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ryan||9|
|Martin(+1) fights a double team and gets enough penetration when the second guy releases into the linebackers to close off the hole himself. RB has to bounce and it looks like Ryan is about to read this and pop out on the edge to finish the play when he's yanked and seemingly ankle tackled by the OT. No call. Refs -1. Floyd(-0.5) did a kind of weak job on the edge, though the Ryan issue allowed a quick bounce so he had a tough job.|
|O27||2||1||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Heininger||0|
|Nowhere to go as Martin(+1) holds up to a double and Heininger(+1) a single block. Cutback from the RB; an unblocked Roh(+0.5) read the play and shuffled down the LOS before exploding to tackle at the line. Heininger gets his extra half point for getting control of his guy to the point where he can disengage to help tackle.|
|O27||3||1||Pistol 2TE||4-3 under||Pass||4||Sack||Ryan||-4|
|I'm not entirely sure but Shortell appears to be looking for his TE on a tiny little hitch first but pulls it down because Black(+1, RPS +1) chucked him before going into his pass rush. This disrupts the timing and causes Shortell to move on. RVB(+1) gets in at this point, flushing the awkward Shortell out of the pocket, where Hawthorne(+0.5) and Ryan(+0.5) roar up to sack. (Pressure +1, cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 12 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Demens||7|
|Michigan's line steps to the left on the snap. This doesn't seem like a full on slant, it's just a way to one-gap the D. I'm not sure if Heininger(+0.5) is playing this okay and just gets pushed past the play or if he got out of position. He does slice through two blockers, causing the C to attempt to peel back and forcing a cutback behind him—away from the blocking angles. Demens(-1) has a free run at the gap but reads it late and meets the RB a couple yards downfield when he can make a tackle at the LOS. Then some bad luck as a pursuing Black impacts the tackle from behind, knocking Demens to the ground and giving the RB some YAC.|
|O27||2||3||Ace twins||4-3 even||Pass||N/A||Sack||Ryan||-9|
|Ryan is lined up over the slot and blitzes. Minnesota is trying a PA rollout to his side, pulling a backside OL around to give some edge protection. Ryan(+2) explodes upfield, getting into Shortell's feet and cutting off the outside. Shortell does manage to escape upfield, where Martin(+1) is tearing around blockers, coming from the inside. Shortell spins back to avoid that sack, whereupon the Red Sea caves in on him. (Pressure +3, RPS +1)|
|O18||3||12||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||--||4|
|Give up and punt.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-0, 7 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||4||Rollout hitch||Countess||8|
|Countess in for Woolfolk. You can see Michigan checking when the TE motions across the formation; Gordon comes down into man on the slot receiver, implying that Ryan(-1) should come to the LOS to act as a 4-3 SLB. He doesn't, instead dropping into a redundant zone and opening up the corner (pressure -1). Shortell finds his hitch in front of Countess.|
|O28||2||2||Shotgun twins twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||5||PA Quick seam||Hawthorne||Inc (Pen +9)|
|TE motions to Ryan's side and this time he does creep down off the slot. He blitzes off the snap, getting picked off by a pulling pass protector after the PA fake. Michigan is zone blitzing and tips it by leaving Roh in a two point stance; he drops off in coverage over the TE. Hawthorne makes one of those back-to-QB zone drops across the field, and this zone seems perfectly designed to stop this route. Hawthorne(cover +1) gets over to the TE quick seam before the TE can get there; he slows up rather than run over Hawthorne and Shortell's wobbler goes well long. Demens(+1) timed his blitz excellently and got a free run, thumping Shortell as he threw(pressure +2) Hawthorne(-2) then gets an incredibly late, but legit PI call for grabbing the TE as he tried to cut inside.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||--||Inc|
|Dropped. Strong possibility Hawthorne blows this up for little.|
|O37||2||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||N/A||Rollout hitch||Countess||11|
|Replay of the previous hitch except Ryan is on the edge this time, though he gets eliminated easily. (Pressure -1) Again in front of Countess(-1, cover -1) and I will ding him for not being there to challenge on the same route he just saw.|
|O48||1||10||Ace||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Demens||0|
|Martin(+1) takes on a double and wins, forcing his way into the gap to his left and preventing anyone from getting out on the LBs. Demens(+2) uses this to his advantage, seeing the gap open up behind Martin as he pushes playside. He shoots it and makes a tackle at the LOS after having removed the cutback lane. RVB(+0.5) held up well on the edge and helps tackle.|
|O48||2||10||Shotgun twin TE||46 front||Pass||5||Fly||Countess||Inc|
|Campbell(+2) runs over the center and comes right up the middle of the field (pressure +2), leveling Shortell. Shortell stands in and chucks one to a guy on a fly route. Countess was in press coverage and is step for step(+2, cover +2); he finds the underthrown ball and adjusts to it. He has a shot at an INT but it's a tough catch and he settles for the PBU.|
|O48||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||6||Hitch||Countess||7|
|Michigan sends the house and doesn't quite get there; Roh(+0.5) seems like he's coming around the corner fast enough to cause problems if Shortell has to wait another beat. Instead he throws a hitch route short of the sticks that Countess(+1, cover +1) allows to be completed but tackles immediately on. He pops the ball loose as he does so; Michigan recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 31-0, 3 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O34||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||4||Fade||Floyd||Inc|
|Testing the press w/ McKnight. Floyd is in good position and has pushed McKnight almost to the sideline but does not time his jump well; he gets his head around and then it seems like he fails to locate the ball. McKnight goes up to grab it but steps OOB on his way down. Given the position of McKnight this was circus all the way, so (+1, cover +1)|
|O34||2||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Demens||7|
|Kovacs blitzes from the backside and gets upfield outside of the TE. That seems okay since he'd have to contain the QB. Roh is shuffling down the line on the inside zone and gets cut behind. This may be possible because instead of a mesh point the QB accidentally bats the snap right to the RB. The cut backside this should expose RB to unblocked Demens; Demens(-1) drops into a short zone and then lets the RB outside of him. Johnson has rolled down over the slot and does keep leverage; Demens tackles from behind. Partially one of those things—an actual mesh point and Demens/Roh probably have time to react better to this—but an unblocked LB should not let an RB outside of him.|
|O41||3||3||Pistol 2TE||4-3 under||Pass||4||Rollout TE Flat||Roh||1|
|Roh(+1) drops off into a short zone as Ryan blitzes. He gets cut; Heininger(+1) bumps the TE and then heads upfield between two befuddled Gopher blockers once that guy releases. He pressures(+1) and Shortell has to dump it off; Roh gets outside to tackle(+1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 14 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O16||1||10||Ace||4-3 under||Pass||5||TE comeback||Ryan||Inc|
|Roh again in a two point stance, indicating he will drop; he drops. Ryan(+1) blitzes from the other side, beating the TE and flushing Shortell up into the pocket(pressure +1). Shortell manages to find the second he needs and finds a receiver, who happens to be the TE on a comeback in front of Roh. TE drops it. (Roh -1, cover -1)|
|O16||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Van Bergen||2|
|Michigan blitzing Ryan and Demens; Demens lines up right over the C and then twists outside. The C is convinced he's supposed to block Demens, which he doesn't; G releases downfield. This allows RVB(+1) a single block that he gets playside of and carries to the hole; Martin(+1) also closed off the frontside, leaving nowhere for the RB to go.|
|O18||3||8||Shotgun trips||Nickel press||Pass||6||Fly||Johnson||Inc|
|Johnson backs out in to a deep zone late as Kovacs is sent on a blitz. Roh(+1) beats his blocker and is getting into Shortell's face (pressure +1) as Kovacs comes; Shortell bombs it deep. Gordon(-1) is beaten but Johnson(+2) is quick enough to get over and get a PBU as he arrives at the ball at the same time the WR does (cover +1, better thrown ball does find space).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 10 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O34||1||10||Pistol 2TE||46 front||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Heininger||2|
|Heininger(+1) dives inside the OT trying to block down and comes around. Black(+1) has driven the OT back, giving the RB an awkward cut to make upfield. This allows Heininger to tackle from behind. Demens(-0.5) ended up running past the play as the pulling G got to him.|
|O36||2||8||Shotgun twins twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||5||Rollout TE Flat||Black||9|
|Again with the blitz and WDE dropping off into coverage. Minnesota runs a quasi-screen here, pumping to the left, then coming back to the little TE flare as the RB comes out of the backfield intent on blocking. This time Black(-1, cover -1) drops a ways and because the RB gets in his way he's not in position to tackle this on the catch, allowing the TE to turn it up for a first down.|
|O45||1||10||Ace twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Heininger||1|
|Similar to the previous power on this drive. Minnesota flips the TEs, which doesn't make M flip the lines, they just move Hawthorne and Kovacs over. Hawthorne lines up right over the tackle. On the snap he takes a block and starts giving ground; Heininger(+2) bowls over this blocker as Black(+1) gets penetration that restricts the hole and prevents a bounce. Those two combine to tackle at the line as the RB just kind of falls over.|
|O46||2||9||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 even||Pass||5||Hitch||Avery||Inc|
|RVB(+2, pressure +2) slants inside a blocker and comes right up the center of the field to get a hurry; throw now or get sacked. Hitch is open in front of Avery(-0.5, cover -1) for near first down yardage; throw is upfield and dropped.|
|Good pocket(pressure -1); Shortell wings it well high. Avery(+0.5, cover +1) appears to have reacted quickly enough to make a play on the ball if there was one to be made.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 45-0, 6 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel over||Run||N/A||QB power||Campbell||0|
|Hawthorne(+1) reads the QB's cut upfield and runs away from the blocking angle further outside; he and Campbell(+1), who beat a single block to show up in the hole, combine to tackle.|
|O25||2||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 under||Pass||5||Fade||Avery||33|
|Okay, Brink and Avery and Fitzgerald in. This game is not long for the charting. Shortell gets the corner (pressure -1) and has an easy deep throw to Avery's guy(-1, cover -1) as he's beaten so badly he cannot recover.|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel press||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Campbell||3|
|Wad o bodies as Minnesota can't move Campbell(+1) out of the playside hole with a double. He gets support from Heininger and Ryan(+0.5 each) and the RB runs up into the wad for little.|
|M39||2||7||Pistol 2TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Brink||-4|
|Instead of blocking Brink(+2) the playside TE watches him run past and make a TFL. Minnesota: not good.|
|M43||3||11||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel press||Pass||4||Slant||Countess||Inc|
|Countess(+2, cover +2) fights the WR for position and makes a play on the ball as it arrives.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 48-0, 14 min 4th Q. Charting ceases.|
So, about that.
Yeah, not much you can take from that game.
But it's nice to be able to say that about a Big Ten team, right?
Sure. The last team Michigan made look that inept was Baby Seal U, and the last team before that was the 2007 Notre Dame outfit that was the absolute nadir of super-geniusdom. Last year's Purdue team may have been as bad on offense; with the help of a driving rainstorm Michigan held them to 256 yards, giving up a 61-yard field goal drive early. This edition of Michigan's defense was better against the 2011 equivalent.
But… yeah, the Purdue example is instructive. There is a level of offense that can make even last year's Michigan D seem competent. Minnesota is at that level of offense.
There is something we can take from this, though, I mean, right?
A little, sure. A couple years ago Michigan gave up 17 to EMU in the first half, ceding 179 rushing yards to that year's #116 total offense. Last year Michigan gave up 37 to I-AA UMass.
You can never tell anything good from a game like this, but you can receive an ominous message that causes you to stock up on survival gear. The failure to get one of those represents progress.
Also, I only caught one wacky misalignment in the above-charted plays, that a failure of Jake Ryan to come down to LB depth after Minnesota shifted a TE. That's significant improvement from the nonconference portion of the schedule. That first drive against Western where no one knew where to line up has receded almost entirely.
I suppose we should look at the chart.
Man, you are subdued.
I'm locked and loaded. Actin' like I've been there. Emulatin' Brady Hoke's cool sideline demeanor. Somewhat terrified about what happens after game five in Michigan football seasons.
Keep in mind that this is only 36 snaps, five of which were contested mostly by backups. If you had to reduce certain games last year to find reasonable numbers, for this game you need to almost double them to find a per-play average approximately in line with historical norms.
|Van Bergen||7||-||7||Minnesota couldn't move him.|
|Roh||7.5||1||6.5||Seems to have reclaimed the starting spot.|
|Brink||2||-||2||Thanks, lack of Minnesota blocking.|
|Heininger||6.5||1||5.5||Hard to move after first snap, too.|
|Black||3||1||2||Playing time reduced.|
|Campbell||4||-||4||"Get off me"|
|TOTAL||37||3||34||lol. +0.94 per snap|
|Demens||4.5||2.5||2||Not many plays even got to him.|
|Ryan||4||1||3||Couple of explosive pass rush moves.|
|Fitzgerald||-||-||-||Nothing of note.|
|Beyer||-||-||-||PT in garbage time.|
|Hawthorne||3.5||2||1.5||Not giving his PT back.|
|Morgan||-||-||-||PT in garbage time|
|TOTAL||12||5.5||6.5||Enjoyed some tea as they watched the DL do the tackling for them.|
|Avery||0.5||1.5||-1||Has obviously slid behind Countess.|
|Woolfolk||-||-||-||Rest this man.|
|Kovacs||1||-||1||Earl Grey, please|
|T. Gordon||1||1||0||I'll have chai|
|Countess||5||1||4||Think we may have something here.|
|Johnson||2||-||2||Roobios for me|
|Pressure||15||4||11||NO BLOCKY FOR YOU|
|Coverage||10||5||5||Tony Gibson –6.02 x 10^23|
|Tackling||-||-||-||Nothing even approached an open field tackle.|
So… yeah. The defensive line annihilated the opposition to the point where nothing else really mattered. Can we take anything away from that? Eh… probably not. I'd love to live in a world where Will Heininger can flatten an opponent's interior OL, but I don't think that's the case.
We require some sort of crazy extrapolation to justify this piece.
Okay. We did get some depth chart clarity. Roh seems the clear starter at WDE, and Countess is #3 at CB and rising. Also we should now know who is redshirting and who is not. On defense:
- Burned: Countess, Brown, Taylor, Beyer, Clark, Morgan
- Redshirting: Carter, Hollowell, Heitzman, Rock, Poole
A couple of those do strike me as AAARGH burned redshirts: Brown and Clark. Brown is the #5 CB at best and Clark has two guys in front of him at WDE. Maybe the long-term plan is to slide Roh or Black to SDE next year, in which case I retract my argh.
Can we at least get a little Countess eeeeing?
Oh, all right: Countess had a couple of hitches completed on him but also acquired two PBUs, one of them another of the "too bad the QB didn't throw that more accurately" variety, the other a broken-up slant:
That looks like an exceptionally crappy route to me, but every little bit helps as we try to extrapolate young Countess into Charles Woodson. He also forced a fumble thanks to Mattison's new turnover-causing technique: tackling the opposition. That was a completion given up but it was also seven yards on third and ten, ie fine.
Was Minnesota really bad?
Oh, God yes. It was kind of marvelous. The best examples (on defense, anyway) I found were two separate incidents where Michigan defenders destroyed Minnesota OL. The first was Craig Roh taking a kickout block and turning it into total destruction:
That never happens.
And then there was Will Campbell using his sumo belly flop on someone other than Thomas Gordon:
After that it was a surprise Shortell didn't get up two-dimensional.
Minnesota is a bad football team.
Everyone but especially everyone on the defensive line.
What does it mean for Northwestern and beyond?
It means we don't have a terrible, terrible defense but not much more.
10/1/2011 – Michigan 58, Minnesota 0 – 5-0, 1-0 Big Ten
In the depths of Michigan's worst season ever (if you can't divide) or in a damn long time (if you can) they travelled to the Metrodome to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Michigan was 2-7 and without the services of their starting quarterback. Minnesota was 7-2 and in possession of a functional offense. I was posting pictures of Death because Nick Sheridan was going to play the entire game. We were going to hit rock bottom when the Gophers picked up the jug they see once a decade, if that. "Henry Kissinger" was amongst the things projected to be more fun than the Jug game.
Because football is strange, Michigan waltzed into Minneapolis and annihilated the Gophers. The final score was 29-6; total yardage was 435-188. Nick Sheridan completed 60% of his passes and almost eclipsed 7 YPA. Justin Feagin averaged 7 yards a carry.
It was a crazy exception to the nigh-unrelenting misery of 2008. Yeah, they fluked their way into a win over Wisconsin despite getting outgained by 100 yards. Minnesota was different. If you had no knowledge of the context you would have thought it was a year like any other, a Michigan team like any other. Michigan did what they do to Minnesota: beat them without a second thought.
This week multiple newspaper folk took the time to tell people the Jug doesn't matter, but when that awful Michigan team locked arms and walked over to Jon Falk to lift up the only thing they'd held onto, it mattered. Paul Bunyan, the bowl streak, most people's sanity, all of the street cred, and huge chunks of the dignity were gone. The Jug remained.
Martin, Koger, Molk, and Van Bergen were freshmen on that team. Molk started. Koger, Van Bergen, and Martin played but didn't acquire stats. Recruited by Carr, they stuck it out under Rodriguez. Many of their teammates didn't.
As a reward the four above started down a path towards the least rewarding Michigan careers in decades, through little or no fault of their own. You can win Big Ten championships with those four guys as prominent starters. You have to have other people to play football around them, though, and maybe a coach or two who can tell the difference between a stuffed beaver and a 4-3 under. Michigan didn't.
In 2008 they had little on the field and even less off it. According to John Bacon's Three and Out, Lloyd Carr signed off on Justin Boren's transfer to Ohio State and upstanding citizen Jim Tressel. Morgan Trent half-assed his way through the season and tossed bombs at Rodriguez afterwards. Toney Clemons and Greg Mathews would act as sources for the Free Press jihad shortly after the season. Given the result of that investigation it's clear they did so entirely out of spite. Brandon Minor would rail on about how leadership was going to happen in 2009 as people whispered that he was a major source of its lack in 2008. There's probably never been a more dysfunctional Michigan team, and it started from the top.
Freshmen learn from seniors. This is the way of the world. Usually they learn how to be, how to maintain the standards of the program they walked into. The four guys above did it a different way: they learned what not to do. When it came time to meet for the first time in the Hoke era, they decided not to repeat the recent past. Mike Martin:
"‘What are we going to do as a team? Where are we now? We can either not be all in and do what we need to do, or we can work hard together and make sure we’re successful.’ ”
Hoke was also in the room. He remembered Robinson being upset at the media speculating his departure. He remembered fifth-year senior center David Molk getting up in that same meeting and telling everybody the team was going to stick together. …
“When (Robinson) came to us, he was addressing that we as a group — including him — need to make sure that none of the younger guys have doubtful thoughts or might want to stray away,” Martin said. “We didn't want there to be a repeat of last time there was a transfer of a coach.”
Meanwhile, Van Bergen called out the program alums who'd drifted away when times got tough. The message was clear: this is our program. We've been here for four years and gotten nothing but crap. We've paid more dues than anyone in the last 40 years of Michigan football, and now we'd like some payoff.
That payoff was going to be an Alamo Bowl at best. But the seniors' effort, Greg Mattison's expertise, Denard Robinson's existence, the Big Ten's complete horribleness, and Brady Hoke's rectal horseshoe now tempt hope.
Michigan State can't run or stay within three scores of Notre Dame. Nebraska can't throw or keep a good running offense under 30 points. Iowa can't beat Iowa State. It may be a division race on par with one of those years Wake Forest won the ACC, but by God there is a tinny flimsy division championship there to be acquired. Even if it wouldn't be much—in all likelihood it would be a historical footnote after a curbstomping at the hands of Wisconsin—it would at least somewhat fulfill a promise Bo made when he arrived in 1969.
No one's deserved it more than the four guys above. It's relatively easy to be a "Michigan Man" when it's handed down to you. Koger, Martin, Molk, and Van Bergen had to figure it out on their own. They stayed, and figured it out when available evidence suggested being a Michigan Man was endorsing transfers to Free Tattoo University, telling recruits to go to Michigan State, and selling out your own program to a couple of hacks.
A few years ago on the eve of the Ohio State game that ended to that miserable 2008 season I wrote a thing about being an anchorless mid-20s person who is uncertain of where to go or who to be and is sad as a result. In that piece I envisioned Michigan's coaches telling their charges how to get out of this hole:
Some of you will stay. And you will go insane. You will work, and you will work, and we will build something here from nothing. Because, make no mistake, this is nothing. You will build something out of this. If you're a senior next year and you teach some freshman something, you will build something. If you're a freshman and you refuse to quit on your stupid decision, you will build something.
What you build will be yours. Few in the great history of his university have had that opportunity. Everything came based on what came before. They were part of a great chain, now broken.
Those of you who stay will forge a new one, starting today. When we are done we will fix the last link to the broken chain, and break the first link, and tell those who come after us to live up to it.
Whether or not Michigan manages a championship, flimsy or real, Michigan's seniors have done this. This Is Michigan again because they stayed.
Non-Bullets Of Domination
Photogallery. Via the Ann Arbor Observer and Eric Upchurch:
The two QB formation thing. So that was something. That and the double pass touchdown reminded me of that Indiana game prior to Football Armageddon (IIRC) when Michigan dumped out a zillion trick plays to force the opponent to prepare for extra stuff. I didn't like it then and hope that's not the case now, not least because after the first play the thing seemed pretty effective. Gardner implied that was not the case:
“It’s really, really dangerous. We’ve also got Fitzgerald Toussaint back there and Vincent Smith," he said. "You’re going to have to wait and see. It’s going to be pretty dangerous.”
What to call it? Hoke refused to answer a direct question about what we should call it, so it's up to us. Vincent Smith suggests "two," which is a little bland. Ace got a "diamond of doom" suggestion on Twitter; while that's catchy it's also long and jinxtastic. Naturally, Ace wants to extend it to "Denard and Devin's Diamond of Doom" because it abbreviates to DDDD and if there's one thing Ace likes it's repetitive hexadecimal numbers.
But that's long and a bit awkward. Since it's a goofy, misdirection-heavy everyone's-a-QB thing that reminds people of the Mad Magicians I propose calling it "Fritz." It's not exactly what Crisler used to do…
…but what "Fritz" lacks in outright accuracy it makes up for in Getting-Itness.
[BONUS extreme history nerd BONUS: This has set frequent correspondent John Kryk alight with references to not Crisler but Notre Dame's Frank Leahy, who deployed a T formation with a close resemblance to Fritz.
Michigan sort of ran the above. Kryk actually has a diagram in which the T looks identical to Fritz:
I'm pretty sure we'll all way too abuzz about a formation we'll see maybe a half-dozen times the rest of the season, but old-timey football is always cool to see in the flesh. It's why Georgia Tech games remain an abiding fascination.]
Why does the outside pitch not bother me so much in that formation? When we run the I-form fake-dive-to-pitch it's just asking the opposition to key on the running back flying out to the corner because Michigan never runs the dive, and even if they did defenses are like "BFD." When we ran it from Fritz it played off the earlier speed option.
Is it a tenable package against real opposition? If the wildcat can work I don't see why this can't.
Triple option? May be on the way.
Records. Some happened. Smith's touchdown cycle had not been accomplished in the modern era:
It was the first time a player has ran, thrown and passed for a score in modern Michigan football history (post-World War II).
That seemed like a given. I'm waiting for MVictors to dig up the dude who managed it in 1923, because I know it's happened and I know he will.
via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer.
Our helmets have wings… and numbers! Let's avoid the inevitable Rodriguez tradition rehash. It's already been done. Personal opinion of them: whateva. On a scale from 10 to –10 where 10 is Denard, –10 is Pop Evil, and 0 is total indifference I'm a –0.1. I'd rather not have the uniforms futzed with but the numbers have some history to them, don't look terrible, and are a minor adjustment.
I think Hoke should say he'll yank 'em if they lose, though.
On-field takeaways. Minnesota is very not good—we were playing a pretend game where the Gophers got a touchdown every time they crossed midfield and a point every time they succesfully fielded a kickoff and they still lost by 30. So disclaimers apply.
That said: Denard throwing to his receivers—and getting the opportunity to hit some short, confidence-building throws—was encouraging, as was the almost total lack of I-form even deep into the third quarter. That seems like an abandonment. If they were still working on it they would have pulled it out just to practice it, no?
Short stuff. AnnArbor.com's Kyle Mienke notes that of Michigan's first 11 passes, eight were five yards or less. He categorizes that crazy seam to Hopkins as "another was over the top to a leaking fullback," which is a goofy thing to try to lump into easy passes for Denard confidence. That was pure DO.
Patrick Omameh. Some evidence he might be struggling in the new offense: he was left on the field much longer than any of the other starters save Schofield, who was forced into the starting lineup by the Barnum injury and was granted time at tackle late.
Possible liberation society addendum. I'm so over the rollouts. It seems like the only way to get Denard Robinson pressured is to roll him out into unblocked contain defenders, which Michigan does plenty. If you leave him in the pocket people are terrified to get out of their lanes and he usually has a lot of time. If you put him on the edge against defenses keying on him he doesn't get outside and he has to make rushed throws on the move that seem to be more inaccurate than his usual ones.
I guess the rollouts do open up the throwback stuff, which has been very successful. And they did insert a heavy dose of sprint draw (AKA That Goddamned Counter Draw), something I've been pleading for since Rodriguez's arrival. So they might be developing a package there. They've got to figure out how to block it.
FWIW, I wasn't a fan of showing the sprint draw against an incompetent opponent. I'd rather Michigan's future opponents not prepare for a potentially game-breaking play. But I've got no evidence behind that.
Field goals. We haz them?
Hoke for tomorrow is getting a little ahead of itself:
It is not hard to see the qualities of Bo in Brady Hoke. At first I cringed at his seeming overconfidence, at his seeming overuse of Bo-isms, and wondered if he was trying too hard to win Michigan fans' hearts with his bravado. I don't doubt the man any longer. Brady Hoke has a Bo-like level of expectations for those he leads. He has expectations of effort, execution, and yes "toughness" that no coach since Bo has required from both his players and his staff. Hoke isn't making Michigan great again by being an innovator on either side of the ball; he is acquiring the best available parts, constructing a beast-machine, and driving the thing to eventual domination.
These feelings must be fought until the Michigan State game. ST3 goes inside the box score:
This is the section where I discuss turnovers and other momentum changing plays. There was one burst of impetus in this game. Minnesota kicked off to start the game. That's it. They were never in it. I bet that "adjusted winning percentage" diary shows us pegged at 100% for the duration.
Lloyd Brady is unstoppable.
Media as in files. Melanie Maxwell's Ann Arbor.com gallery.
WHY DID YOU GIVE ME CANCER GOLDY
i… I was just trying to field a kickoff
I think he may have altered that shot but will check. Greg also has a bunch of jug pictures. Troy Woolfolk posted this on his twitter:
The explanation: "My girl is always experimenting on me." I have no idea? I have no idea.
And finally, eagle-eyed mgouser M Fanfare caught an epic double point from Hoke:
In other Brady Hoke Points At Stuff news, Brady Hoke points at stuff.
Media, as in unwashed internet rabble. I have no idea what "Everybody pants now" means, but if you watch Parks and Rec you probably do. Amongst Adam Jacobi's things he learned in the conference this week:
So while it's easy to just say "But 2010" whenever someone mentions the fact that Michigan is still undefeated, there's one difference that's crucial to point out: the defense is showing up too. Last season, Michigan gave up over 25 points per game in its first five games. This year? 10.2. Yes, it's relevant that 31 points came against Notre Dame in a game the Wolverines had zero business winning and 20 came against tomato cans like Eastern Michigan and Minnesota, but consider that Michigan also spanked Western Michigan 34-10, and that's a Broncos team that came up just shy in a 23-20 loss at Illinois and just took a 38-31 win at Connecticut. So yes, given the context we've got, Michigan is not just pulling a 2010.
Jacobi's still not banking on Michigan "surviving" our "brutal November," but if not surviving means not winning the division instead of collapsing to 7-5 I don't think Michigan fans are going to be too peeved.
Blake Countess is the next Leon Hall. Yep, I said it. Minnesota doesn't have the greatest talent in the world, but Countess has looked pretty darn good for two weeks in a row. Courtney Avery had a nice 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown, but Avery has been getting beaten more regularly than any of Michigan's other corners this year. He's still not bad, but it looks like Countess will grab a starting spot sooner rather than later.
The Hoover Street Rag notes it was appropriate that Michigan tried a transcontinental-type play on the same day they honored John Navarre, though in that case they were attempting a double pass, not a run. Was anyone else OUTRAGED that the Navarre highlight package didn't include the Buffalo Stampede? That's like having an Alan Branch highlight package without the Morelli elimination.
That was an old school Michigan blowout, like the ones you'd watch on ESPN Plus (memory lane, you are there now) back in the day, where nothing was ever in doubt and The Law was that Michigan would average a billion yards a carry under a grumpy Michigan sky. It's always the ideal of overindulgence, and if anything it's a reminder of how far we've come since 2008 when beating Minnesota on the road was considered an upset.
Media as in newspaper type things. Brian Bennett's take from the ESPN Big Ten blog:
f and when Minnesota can get back to being competitive in the Big Ten, the Gophers can use Saturday's game as a motivational tool.
Hopefully for them, they'll remember this as rock bottom. Because Michigan blew the doors off Jerry Kill's team in a 58-0 humiliation at the Big House. The Wolverines have dominated this Little Brown Jug series for the last 40 years, but Saturday's margin of victory was the largest in the long-running semi-rivalry. It was the fifth-largest win in Michigan history, and that's a lot of history there.
Are we seriously declaring a knee to end the game as a failed redzone opportunity, News?
For Michigan, this game was a chance to flex its muscles offensively and defensively, add a few wrinkles and give as many players as possible — in this case, 71 — an opportunity to play. Michigan was 8-of-9 in the red zone against the Gophers and is now 21-of-22 for the season (17 touchdowns and four field goals).
No, we are not.
Via the Daily, some facts that sum up last year's field goal kicking:
The three field goals were each career longs [for Gibbons] at the time, starting from 25 yards and going to 32 yards and to 38 yards. In five games this season he’s missed just one field goal — a 40-yard try against San Diego State.