Obvious but welcome. Brandon Graham is destroying all comers at the Senior Bowl and appears to be the player helping himself the most with his performance. Scout says he's gone from a borderline first rounder to a "lock"($). Another Scout guy says he's the best DL there($), Bruce Feldman tweeted about his ability to get into the backfield, and so on and so forth:
Michigan LB Brandon Graham is just about unblockable with his speed and spin moves. … Michigan DE/OLB Brandon Graham is causing fits for UMass OT/OG Vladimir Ducasse in drills. Graham is the most explosive defender on the field.
Mike Maycock, who previously suggested that Graham might be available for the Lions at the top of the second round because he does not have crazy gorilla arms, now says Graham will be off the board before the first round is over. The Lions would have taken Drew Stanton anyway.
BONUS! Orson on Graham:
Then, there’s Brandon Graham. There he is, saying “Hi, I spent the entire year getting double teamed on a terrible defense and still wrecked shit like my name was Haitian McSichuan Earthquake.”
Another chart. Here are all the teams that returned ten starters on offense since 2006:
Big Red Network is interested in this because their terrible offense returns ten starters. Michigan does better than anyone except Texas A&M's wildly inconsistent bunch, but the those numbers include the game against Baby Seal U and are probably somewhat optimistic. Also, coming up from 290 yards a game is easy. There's nowhere to go but up, really.
Michigan now returns eight or nine starters, depending on how you define things; it's got to be a rare thing to return eight starters a year after returning ten, yes?
So much for that complaint. DeShawn Sims on that jersey tug:
“Yea, a little bit,” Sims said when asked if he was held on the play. “But this is the Big Ten. If I was the other team, I wouldn’t have wanted them to call that.”
That article's headline has a teeny slant: Sims "says he was held on the final play against Michigan State," it reads despite Sims immediately moving on from that and saying he didn't think it was a call and it wasn't the reason he missed the shot.
Redshirt war ammunition. First, let's kick Stewart Mandel since it's been a long time:
Meanwhile, Michigan fans are hopeful Devin Gardner, Rivals' No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, can provide an immediate spark -- but he may be even rawer than one of last year's Michigan freshman quarterbacks, Denard Robinson.
No, he is not. I don't think this is even possible. Denard Robinson wasn't even a quarterback to most schools; Devin Gardner went to the Elite 11, where Rivals guys named him the top quarterback there. Denard Robinson is perhaps the definition of raw.
Anyway, the actual reason to bring up this article:
"After watching him in Orlando [during Under Armour practices], I think he needs a redshirt," said Newberg.
That's a major step back from the aforementioned Elite 11 performance and what we saw from Gardner early in the season; I read it as evidence for my pet theory that Gardner's mechanics degraded severely over the year as he got away from the coaching he had in the summer and slid back into old habits.
Etc.: Hey Jenny Slater kicks off its list of the 50 most loathsome people in college football. Entertaining, but Paul Johnson doesn't come within a half-mile of the list if anyone other than a Georgia fan is compiling it. Also, Mike Patrick is somehow excluded.
The lamentation of your women.
via user chunkums
He loves it. The lamentation.
All American. I'm pleasantly surprised that both recruiting networks named Brandon Graham to their All-America teams after he was snubbed by the first of the infinite lists that came out—FWAA or something. Graham and Zoltan the Inconceivable also feature on the AP's second team, which is nice. Zoltan got the second team nod at Scout, too.
This Drew Butler kid who stole first team honors and the Ray Guy award… well… probably deserved it. Before you stone me to death—a fate I willingly accept for such heresy—please let me note that Butler averaged almost 49(!) yards a kick and Georgia led the country with a 42.8 yard net average.
Expansion bits. Various notes and errata on possible expansion:
- Sentiment is running strongly against a move to the Big Ten at Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician with 56% opposed to a move versus just 19% in favor. In the comments the most commonly cited reason is John Boeheim, who is credited with assembling the Big East with his bare hands and would instantly quit if he had to play in a different sandbox.
- BHGP points out that the BFD with the CIC is post-grad Research I stuff, not necessarily undergraduate education, which Big Ten schools are supposed to look at as a necessary evil.
- Missouri's chancellor said MU would "listen" to the Big Ten should it come calling, so they will at least flirt with a Big 12 departure.
The useful comment thread from the Grid of Judgment has these additional bits of information:
- Pitt's got a monster endowment: $2.334 billion, according to unnecessarily precise poster Don. That's more than anyone in the league except Northwestern and Michigan.
- Multiple posters suggest that Nebraska is seriously pissed off you guys about Texas's reign as supreme unquestioned ruler of the Big 12 and could really give a crap about the rest of the league save for Colorado. Oklahoma already rotates off their schedule.
- Rutgers is apparently a mediocre school on the decline, which explains why there are so many kids from Jersey at Michigan.
And any thread on expansion comes with an increasingly preposterous series of candidate schools that make sense in no way whatsoever: Texas A&M, TCU, Toronto, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Auburn, Rice—seriously, someone suggested Rice—etc.
Virginia Tech seems plausible at first blush but after UVA fought tooth and nail to get them into the ACC lest the governor get out his pimp hand a jump to the Big Ten seems wildly improbable. They would probably be more willing to jump than any other ACC team since they could give a crap about basketball and don't have longstanding rivalries with anyone in the league. Last time I brought this up I mentioned Boston College as a crazy off-board option, and I guess they remain one. They bring a huge market with them but one that is slightly busy with other things, and they don't fit the Big Ten's huge public research university model. They would get tripped up by the Research One thing.
Pitt still looks like the strongest candidate by far. For people wondering about money, remember that Pitt can be slightly less marketable than the Big Ten average—which I don't think they are given their currently monstrous basketball program—and still be a major asset because of the championship game and increased profitability from the Big Ten Network.
As far as divisions go, there's no way to make them work geographically without turning into a version of the Big 12 on steroids by chucking Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State into the same division. You also can't keep all the rivalries together if Pitt is indeed the pick. You try to split this into six team divisions:
Can't be done without murdering one traditional rivalry or the entire point of putting Pitt in the conference. Missouri is much easier, since you just throw them in with Illinois and Northwestern and put them in the Michigan pod.
I'd prefer an expanded status quo with a ninth conference game, guaranteed rivalry pairs, and a couple byes but apparently you have to have two divisions to have a title game, which is inane but true.
Heismens of all varieties. So the actual Heisman went to a good running back on an undefeated team instead of, you know, the best player in the country. Or even the best running back. A lot of this can be ascribed to the Heisman's bloated list of voters and their lack of accountability. I mean, seriously, here's a guy with a Heisman vote whose ballot read Ingram, Tebow, McCoy:
I never saw Gerhart play an entire game (we work all day Saturday and Saturday night) and only saw a few minutes of Suh’s game against Texas. I refused to vote for somebody based on highlights.
I'm impressed that this guy managed to spin his ignorance into a principled stance against voting "based on highlights" instead of taking a principled stand against voting based on the three football games he saw this year.
So hurrah for the Sports Blog Heisman coming out approximately correct by handing Toby Gerhart the trophy over Ndamukong Suh by one point. Here's guessing that everyone who voted saw Gerhart and Suh for at least one game. Not that bloggers are perfect. A few years ago when Rakes of Mallow was running its now-defunct version of the same thing, the winner was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, which ugh.
Of course. Here's Fielding Yost curling in a silly hat:
Etc.: Corwin Brown is out at Notre Dame. If there is an opening on the coaching staff, could he fill it? He doesn't coach LBs, unfortunately, but has slayed on the recruiting trail. Wonk asks "What Happened to Michigan?"
The is a sports blog version of the Heisman again, which I'm participating in because goddammit Ndamukong Suh needs something.
3. CJ Spiller, Clemson
I followed Spiller's recruitment as Michigan was briefly involved because Spiller's apparently one and only criteria for choosing a school was immediate playing time. This eventually sent him to Clemson in a shock upset over local favorite Florida State.
Spiller immediately proved that his criteria were silly. Here is a list of schools at which CJ Spiller would not have found immediate playing time:
The end. Clemson over the last few years has been intermittent top-ten brilliance from Spiller interspersed with the overwhelming Clemson-ness of the whole thing. Why Spiller instead of Ingram or Gerhart? Spiller was also a special teams destroyer—a preposterous five return touchdowns on the year—and threat in the passing game. Those guys are both close; I tend to value guys who regularly turn in huge plays over those who grind out gains by running over opponents.
2. Brandon Graham, Michigan
Okay, okay, since this is the only vote I'm sure Graham will receive this is by definition a homer vote, but I did watch every snap of his year about four times and have done so with NFL beast Lamarr Woodley, too, and Graham graded out better than Woodley despite being the only player on the defense more intimidating than a six-year-old girl.
He hits harder than Glen Winston:
He did this a lot:
On that last one he turned Brian Bulaga, projected first rounder, into horsemeat.
He's the most impressive defensive lineman I've seen since…
1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Last weekend. This award shouldn't be about stats, it should be about the most ridiculously good player to play college football in any given year. But if it is about stats, uh… 82 tackles (leading the team), 25 TFLs, 12 sacks, and ten(!!!) PBUs from a defensive tackle. I had this crazy idea to promote Brandon Graham for the Heisman that I dropped about a quarter into the Big 12 championship game. Tim's got a whole diary on this, though he's way harsh on Rittenberg IME. I'm going to be so pissed when Suh comes in second because 10% of the voters turned in their ballots before the games were over.
University of Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez announced Thursday (Nov. 19) following practice the four permanent captains elected for the 130th team in school history. Linebacker Stevie Brown (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East HS), defensive end Brandon Graham (Detroit, Mich./Crockett Technical HS), punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg HS) and left tackle Mark Ortmann (Klein, Texas/Klein HS) were selected by their teammates as captains of the 2009 football team.
“Our players have selected four student-athletes who represent our program at the highest level both on and off the field,” said Rodriguez. “Stevie, Brandon, Zoltan and Mark have played at a high level all season and received the greatest honor that a player can receive, selection as captain by your peers. They, and our other seniors, will lead us into Michigan Stadium Saturday to play the greatest rivalry game in college football.”
Brown joins Graham as a defensive captain. He is the team’s leading tackler with 73 stops and is second with eight tackles for loss, both career highs. Brown has also contributed one sack, one forced fumble, one interception and four pass breakups. He has started all 11 games at linebacker and will see action in his 50th career game when U-M faces Ohio State.
Graham is the most dominant defensive lineman in the Big Ten, racking up a league and NCAA-best 21 tackles for loss. He has 8.5 sacks on the year and has contributed at least one quarterback stop in six of the past seven games. Graham has recorded a career-best 57 tackles, two PBUs, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He has also contributed on special teams, blocking two punts and returning another for his first career touchdown. An All-America candidate, Graham is second all-time at Michigan in sacks (27.5) and third in tackles for loss (51).
Mesko is one of the nation’s top all-around student-athletes, excelling on the field, in the classroom and the community. He leads the Big Ten and is sixth nationally in punting with a career-best 44.7-yard average this season. A semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award for the second straight season, Mesko has punted 46 times for 2,054 yards. He had 16 fair caught, 15 boots of 50 yards or better and 13 downed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. Mesko is a finalist for the Lowes Senior CLASS Award, the Danny Wuerffel Trophy and has been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He earned CoSIDA Academic All-District IV first team honors and is top candidate for Academic All-America honors.
Ortmann has started all 11 games at left tackle and helped anchor the Wolverines’ offense that is rated top in the Big Ten in scoring (31.3 points per game) and is second in rushing offense (195.8 avg.). He has started 24 contests and played in 35 games during his career.
The captains will lead the Wolverines against No. 9 Ohio State Saturday (Nov. 21) at Michigan Stadium. The 106th meeting will be televised nationally by ESPN on ABC at noon EST.
Following is the team’s injury report for the game against the Buckeyes:
David Molk (knee)
Brandon Minor (shoulder)
Doubtful (25 percent chance of playing)
Mike Williams (ankle)
Probable (75 percent chance of playing)
Martavious Odoms (knee)
Most obvious captaining ever, but good for them. I really wish Brandon Minor could, like, play against OSU. They've appreared to have left injured people off the report, but the coaches have never listed someone as out and then played them. Damn.
- Brandon Minor is still nicked up, but he'll go if he can. Carlos's knee is still bothering him a little bit. Vincent Smith played well, Shaw "did some good things." Backups will be ready if the starters can't go.
- "Legends are made in the Michigan-Ohio State game." Good feel for the rivalry. Doesn't take long to understand it. Don't have to coach or play here to get the intensity of it. What will it take to turn the rivalry around? Having a better team than the opponent. Emotion and passion will carry the team a little bit. The more experienced team (OSU) will be able to stem a tide of emotion. Use the big rivalry factor to help guys focus on preparation during the game. Win over OSU means something special especially for the seniors. Team has overcome a little adversity, that would be important for them. Try to accentuate the positives this week. It's an easy game to get them excited for. Our guys know it's a big challenge. You always have a chance. We have to play really well. Maybe they'll make a few mistakes.
- Hasn't heard from past Michigan coaches about the rivalry. He doesn't need to be lectured on the importance of the rivalry. He gets it. Just because he's not from Michigan doesn't mean he doesn't get it. Everyone gets it. He coaches as hard as he can in every game. Ohio State is just a whole lot more important. College football has the most intense rivalries, none more important than M-OSU. '69 team was one of the best M-OSU games. They'll be honorary captains for the game.
- A couple things different: Senior week. Practice won't be much different. There will be more in team meetings about the importance of the game, etc. Permanent team captains will be voted on this week.
- Senior class. All programs have something special for last home game. Best week of seniors' careers. Devoted 4-5 years to the university & team. Small group of seniors.
- We can play a whole lot better offensively. Defensively, we haven't been playing well. It's not a lack of effort, there are a lot of reasons. Solid on special teams. Have to make a lot of improvement on defense. Hopefully they rise to the challenge in the last game.
- Made D changes, guys played pretty well. Looking for the right combination. Defense maybe moved slower than he thought it might. Last year's team had more experience defensively. Knew we were going to be inexperienced. They might make personnel moves from offense to defense in the offseason. In next couple recruiting classes, add talent on defense.
- All coaches hate to lose. It eats at your soul. "I don't coach football, I live it." He loves what we're doing, so it eats at you to be unsuccessful. He's not used to losing, so it pretty much sucks. Each day is a new opportunity. This year or last year was the most emotionally taxing in his career. We've all fought through this thing together, and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. When the young guys lift weights, practice, etc., you can see that we're going to be back there. He likes winning too much to not evaluate everything the team does. If adjustments need to be made, they'll do it. Some of the problems are going to take longer to fix. "I feel very good about our staff." Good coaches, family men, recruiters. Scheme and stuff will be where the changes come. Personnel-wise it's tough to overcome. The players know how competitive the coaches are. As long as they're giving their best effort, that's all the coach can ask. This is a good group to coach.
- Not getting back as quickly as he'd like. Only had 1 full recruiting class. When those 18-19 year olds are 20-21, they'll look more like men. There's a group of 4-5 college head coaches he keeps in touch with for encouragement, etc.. Also the assistant coaches he's been with for a long time. Sometimes things come up that aren't in coaching 101.
- On offense, they feel a lot better than last year. Players have a better grasp of the offense. OSU will still be a huge challenge. Not showing up to hope it stays close, they want to win.
- Comparing leagues to leagues is misinformed, there's no reason that a different style of football can't be played in the Big Ten. Every league has a variety of styles, etc. Coaching the pro-style to fit the talent. Our guys that started on offense last year hadn't played in any system yet. No mattter what system you ran, they hadn't played in it. Same with defense this year. Need to recruit guys who can play at the highest level, but experience is a big player too.
- Tate - hopefully learned that you have to compete every week, continue to get better, different schmes and challenges every week. He and Denard are both very good for true freshmen. They'll get better when they have more practice time. Hopes everyone (not just tate) is committed to getting the seniors to a bowl game.
- Koger played some last year. He's played well sometimes, other games he hasn't taken the next step. He'll get better.
- Graham - doing all he can. He knows he's surrounded by inexperience. Still being a team guy and playing within the framework of the defense. Trying to free him up and use his ability.
- Kovacs is a tough guy. It's just his first year playing, so he'll keep getting better. Lack of depth gave him an opportunity.
- Boren: Doesn't do much good to go back in the past. "We pride ourselves on the closeness we have as a family." If you ask the players, they feel the closeness. Hasn't talked to Boren since he left.
- Pryor. He's done extremely well. Started games as a true freshman. Very talented. Won a lot of games. Don't really like to play him because he's a talented playmaker. Nobody on scout team can replicate him (obvs). Denard will play him a bit on scout team.
Ryan Van Bergen
- Scoring the touchdown against Wisconsin was pretty cool. He thought his days of scoring touchdowns were over after high school.
- It would mean everything to this team to beat Ohio State. Bitter taste after last year's game is still there. Want to beat OSU and get the 6th win for the seniors. Looking to stop the streak of 4-5 consecutive OSU losses. There's an external sense that Michigan doesn't stand a chance. A lot of people around the rivalry know that records mean nothing on the field.Practices will stay the same, but in the group preparation "you always do a little extra for Ohio State." Film room, etc.
- Defense is getting close, but they're still making fundamental and technical errors. They're getting better and better, but that's still not good enough. Can't lean on the offense. Mistakes this year aren't sustained drives or anything. It doesn't look better on the scoreboard, but if they can stop 4-5 plays of 60+ yards and TD, it will look a whole lot different. Guys aren't wearing out. Other teams have similar size and frequency of defensive rotation. Got away from scheming other teams, need to execute physically.
- Michigan Ohio State game has an intensity level that can't be matched in other games. It's like you're on the front line of a battle. We enjoy it, and it's great to get after it with passion.
- Never grew up an Ohio State fan. Always got chills watching the big game. "I'm a Michigan man, that's all I'm worried about right now." Roundtree born in Pahokee, big Miami fan. Miami-OSU game in '02. McGahee, etc. "Just can't go for Ohio State, don't know what it is."
- Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson. Great memories.
- Preparation started saturday after Wisconsin. Practice is going to have to pay off this week. Veterans say to go all out. You never know when it's your last play, especially against Ohio State. Have to go harder this week. Put in the hard work all season. Learn from mistakes, prepare for Saturday. Everybody's ready.
- Rodriguez toughest season. Just his second year, how the season is turning out. Roundtree and Hemingway sat together last year watching the game. "This year should be a turnaround."
- Won't have his phone on this week because he needs to stay focused.
- Big 2 weeks: It just happens. Shows the work he put in everywhere. Doesn't worry about how many balls he catches, etc., just worried about running his route. You can't back down in blocking.
- The QBs have to work with each other to improve. Tate has to do more to show what he can do.
- Same feeling against OSU every year (always do everything you can), but each year is different with his role increasing. "It'll be my last game in the Big House, I wanna go out with a win." This week, anything that's wrong has to be corrected Everyone has to be in watching film, everyone has to go hard in practice. Stevie and seniors lead by example. Getting to a bowl and beating Ohio State are linked together, so neither goal is bigger than the other, they're the same.
- Boren - did everything he could while he was here, he'll be the same for them. No personal vendetta, just another O-lineman.
- Pryor throwing it better this year. When the play breaks down, he's able to do things with his feet. Big guy, need to get a secure tackle on him.
- Stevie doesn't try to think about "if we lose, it's over" type stuff. Worries about preparing to win the last game. Doesn't look at beating them in terms of breaking the OSU streak, just want to beat them.
- Whenever we play very well, play together, we can shut teams down. We've shown flashes, just need to come together for 60 minutes.
- Graham provides a lot of vocal encouragement. Leads by example as well. Works as hard as he can, makes plays he's supposed to make. The team doesn't want to let Brandon down. Stevie's not vocal. You can come ask him questions, but he tries to lead by example.
- Hasn't looked at Ohio State film yet. Heard Herbstreit say that this is one of Tressel's best defenses.
- UT-A&M rivalry is the main one where Ortmann's from. The M rivalry is something he knew about, but didn't get to experience it that much.
- The preparation week for OSU his freshman year, their helmets were taped up like OSU, you can sense a different atmosphere .
- Loss= the end has been playing in everyone's mind. We've broken a lot of records and set some new ones the past couple years. Beating OSU would be a great spot to start a new record.
- It's been a while since we've beaten them. Go in with mindset that we are capable of winning. The tackling dummies with the block o are just a reminder that OSU is the biggest game every year.
- Boren - nobody has a relationship with him anymore really. Ortmann has talked to him just a couple times. They had a good relationship before. It was hard to hear him say what he did when he left. He was raised to be a Michigan fan and he loved Michigan. Had some underlying personal issues. What he said on the way out was unfair. People with their own individual reasons. Some statements have been inaccurate. They're entitled to their own opinions.
- Big difference between the OSU games and all the rest. "Growing up, you know that this is one of the biggest rivalries in college football." Big for both programs. Definitely have more intensity this week, get the guys riled up. Help the young guys understand how important this game is.
- Limit big plays. Make them earn everything that they get. Have to come out in practice, get some confidence rolling through the week. Believe in the gameplan, minimize what the opponent will do.
- At safety last couple weeks - do what the coaches ask, and what's best for team. Trying to help the team win. That was for Wisconsin, doesn't know if it will be this week as well.
- Discipline against Pryor. Tougher to stick to receivers because he might need help. Tougher to stick to receivers for longer. Posey - made some big plays with Pryor. Try to minimize that, make them earn it. Sanzenbacher started year as Pryor's go-to guy. Duron Carter is good too. Contain all three of those and the RBs.
- Little things add up and lead to opponents' big plays. Can't let that continue to occur. Have to just keep working on it. Don't let it disrupt your confidence. Confidence - if you can limit big plays, the defense has actually been solid. Hear outsiders talk about how bad the defense is. Can't let it get to you. Continue to work and get better. Do the little things.
- Is it disrespectful for Boren to go to the hated rival. "We're here and he's talking that the family values have eroded. Definitely, the family is still intact." He had to do what was best for him.
- Losing rivalry games is tough. Have to look on the bright side. Don't have anything to lose. Win this one, go to a bowl game. Something to look forward to winning this game. What's in the past is in the past, worry about what you can do in this game.
- Seen some great defenses this year - PSU, Iowa. OU has some solid guys, nobody stands out above everyone else they've seen this year.
- "I don't talk to him, I don't think about him. He doesn't come up in my daily life. I don't have to play against him on defense. I wish I could." Boren
- Tate and Denard don't need to be told things, they need to learn through intensity and preparation of teammates.
- This game is huge, last regular season game, last game of the year. It's everything. Unfinished business against OSU - haven't beaten them in 5 years. This is what we have, we're going practice hard. The context can only mean so much. Don't need a "little brother" mentality. It's Ohio State. Records mean nothing, etc. Don't need more analogies.Just prepare every day. This falls under every category - last game, bowl eligibility, OSU, etc.
- Hopefully we can get a big win, and the reality of never playing in M stadium again will kick in after the celebration.
- Scout team players go extra hard this week. Some guys that normally wouldn't be on scout team go down because they want to practice against the best.
- Omameh - nothing needs to be said to him. They'll watch film together. He'll show him what he needs to do to win. All we can ask is for him to play his heart out - and he will. As an OL, we are looking at their film to see how to attack their defense. I think we can do that.
- 70-80% underclassmen. Always great to see the young guys (tate) take leadership roles.
- Watched Purdue-OSU film. It's going to take our best effort to beat them. Purdue put together a great gameplan, and we've got one this week.
- When the offense goes in, no matter the game situation, they go in to score. The defense goes in to stop them. Our job is to score and win. We want to score more than the other team. Minor's gonna play. He'll play hard and run hard. This is his last game. Concerned about his health, but he'll do what he can. "He's gonna do great, he always does."
- Block-O tackling dummies are going to be in view all week. They have been all year. Lots of motivation to beat Ohio State. "If you can't get jacked up for this one, I don't know where you've been." If he doesn't beat Ohio State, it just wasn't meant to be. "We will beat them... sooner or later. Hopefully it's this Saturday."
- Defense wants to have their best game of the year. Even if old goals weren't achieved you have to set new goals. Time to play their best. They haven't had many games where they could say they played their best and got beat. Showed effort in the last game, but Wisconsin came out with a plan to exploit their weaknesses.
- BG trying to take it in now, since he's got one last game if they don't win. Kinda sad that his college career is done. Dreamt of this moment, now it's almost gone. Realized when he was watching Lamarr Woodley with the Steelers yesterday. Woodley told him to enjoy it, because it's over in a beat. Now he's telling the new young guys the same thing.
- He doesn't want to think about his kids now, but when he eventually has them, he'll tell them he got to play in the greatest game in the country. When his kids go here, it will always be something special when they play Ohio State. Couldn't send his kids to Ohio State "I'm not Justin Boren." He's got a lot of words for Boren. "Just somebody who shouldn't have been here in the first place... We'll see him Saturday." Our front four can get the job done. Boren's got to prove he's still got it. He was good here, but isn't as good there because it's O-State. Family values thing was just an excuse for Boren because he wanted to leave. Never gave the new coaches a chance. "Some people just leave because they feel like they're better than what they is. Not trying to put that much work into it.... a lot of people get lazy and feel like it's supposed to come to them."
- BG has noticed at times that he's a really good player on a bad defense. He doesn't worry about it, and just tries to get to the ball. He wants everyone else to play with the same attitude, they don't all grow as fast as others. Go hard every day. Whoever's in his way, he'll tell them to not come his way. He's in the best shape of his life, and he'll wear the opponent down.
- "It's about to be his last, next year" for Donovan Warren. Does he know Warren plans to stay or is he just saying that?
- Graham grew as a person and was humbled this year - can't take anything for granted. Feels like he could work harder or something to achieve success. My personal goals went OK, but it's about the team. I was happy to be able to help change the game and help my team. Stuff happens for a reason.
- Seniors want to leave with a win "What's a better way than to beat O-State?"
Personnel notes: Leach started the game and got pulled after he busted an assignment on a third-and-five TE cross that turned into 56 yards and a backbreaking touchdown. Ezeh replaced him for the remainder of the game. Mouton started the game and got pulled after he busted an assignment on the first Purdue touchdown. Fitzgerald replaced him until he took a bad angle on a Bolden touchdown, at which point he was replaced by Mouton.
You might sense a theme here. It will be addressed later.
Other than that it was the usual: zero rotation in the secondary, Brown in on every play, regular rotation on the DL. Banks was out so Campbell was Martin's backup. I don't know if I saw RVB ever leave the game.
Formation notes: That thing where Michigan drops the MLB to safety depth, or near it, returned again. I'm calling this "Tampa Nickel":
The dude in the deep middle is Kevin Leach; you can see Kovacs just off the edge of the screen at the 35. My best guess here is that this is an attempt to replicate a Tampa 2 defense with a walk-on linebacker or Obi Ezeh, which necessitates starting him well back of where a middle linebacker would normally end up.
Michigan's also running some even fronts—I think:
Look at the alignment of the two DTs relative to the DTs in the shot above. In this defense, Brown acts as a nickelback and Michigan plays, or at least shows, two-deep with the safeties.
AAARGH Notes: argh.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun trips||Tampa Nickel(?)||Pass||Jailbreak screen||--||9|
|What the hell? [Ed: see above] Michigan has five guys in the box with Brown split out over to the trips side and Williams walked up outside of Mouton, who's lined up over the tackle. Leach is playing nine yards deep. Kovacs is 15 yards deep. Purdue throws a jailbreak screen on which Roh, who's dropping into coverage, reacts to. With both DTs sucking upfield Michigan has no one else in the area because Leach is 10 yards downfield. Leach recovers to tackle—barely—after making up the ground he gave presnap. The way this aligned Michigan had little chance to defend it. (RPS -1)|
|O21||2||1||Shotgun trips TE||4-3 under man||Run||Power O||--||30|
|Roh again dropping into coverage so he falls off the line of scrimmage attempting to cover the TE, who's moving out to block Leach. Leach is reading the play and manages to keep his feet as the TE dives at them, but is slowed and as a result the pulling guard gets an easy block on him. There's no one else on the corner. WTF? (RPS -1, Roh -1, as this must be some screwup on his part.) BTN says Troy Woolfolk is from “Suger Land, TX.” Really? Suger Land?|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Woolfolk||14|
|Woolfolk(-1) is backing out into a deep zone and reacts slowly to the short hitch Purdue is going for. He then overruns the play and turns this from five yards into 14. (Cover –1, tackling -1)|
|Mouton(-4) is in man on the tailback and decides man coverage is for losers. (Cover -4) I assume this is his bust because he got yanked; Mike Williams was also coming up on the TE Mouton decided to cover, and cover pretty well, actually.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 13 min 1st Q. Somehow they won't score more than a FG for the rest of the half.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||4-3 under zone||Run||Power O||Fitzgerald||1|
|Michigan has flipped the line to the short side of the field, which happens to be the open side of the field, and is in zone coverage with Warren lined up over the TE. Purdue runs basically the same play they did on the last drive except with only one pulling guard. They double and down-block Graham. Warren hops out for contain and draws the pulling guard; Fitzgerald(+1) reads the play and shoots into the hole, tackling(+1) for a minimal gain.|
|O24||2||9||Shotgun Twins Twin TE||4-3 under man||Pass||Hitch||Leach||Inc|
|Yikes: looks to be a coverage bust with no one going with the TE hitting it up into the seam, but Elliot's already decided to come short. Ball is dropped; would have been six and an immediate tackle if caught.|
|O24||3||9||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Fitzgerald||17|
|Fitzgerald and Williams do a great job of reading the play and attacking the LOS, giving Purdue no chance to block them. WR heads inside, right into Fitzgerald, who's just coming through a block and has his hands down; they collide and the RB runs through the contact. (-1, tackling -1); Roh(-1) can't make a diving ankle tackle attempt despite the slowdown and Purdue makes an unlikely third down conversion.|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fade||Woolfolk||30|
|Cover two and Purdue runs a play that attacks it with an out underneath holding Woolfolk(-1) as a receiver goes over the top; Williams(-1) can't get over in time. Ball is well underthrown, which gives Michigan a chance to make a play on the ball; they don't. (Cover -1)|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 under||Run||Draw||Leach||4|
|Leach in a tough spot because RVB(-1) is stood up by the RG and eventually driven back, conceding holes to both sides of him. Leach picks one that he thinks Bolden is hitting it up into and gets it right; Bolden has to cut, and Leach(+1) manages to trip him as he runs by. Bolden falls forward for a bunch after contact but Leach did well in a lot of space in a tough situation.|
|M25||2||6||Shotgun trips||Tampa Nickel||Pass||Out||Woolfolk||Inc|
|This... thing again. Quick out open in front of Woolfolk(cover -1); dropped.|
|M25||3||6||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Scramble||Graham||1|
|Michigan shows a 3-man front with threatened blitzes from the linebackers, then drops out of it. Graham(+2) immediately pwns the RT and forces the QB up in the pocket; good coverage(+1) from the eight guys downfield allows Graham to come around from the back and tackle, though it doesn't go down as a sack because Graham hits him across the LOS. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(41), 7-10, 7 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O19||1||10||I-Form Twins||4-3 under||Run||Down G||Leach||13 + 15 pen|
|Heininger doubled and removed from the play, leaving a pulling G and the FB on Leach and Brown. Brown heads outside for contain. Leach(-1) badly overruns the play, providing a quick cut-up for the RB when he could have slowed up, let Brown cut off the outside, and slowed the play down. I'm not sure what to make of Fitzgerald here, who might be a step slow, might have stumbled, but took on a block and shed it, but then couldn't make a tough tackle attempt at about five yards. This penalty is probably a bad one but definitely stupid... Williams(-1) knows he's right at the sideline and there's zero upside to hitting a guy who's running OOB.|
|O48||1||10||I-Form||4-4 under||Run||Rollout something||Brown||-4|
|This looks like a busted play as Elliott rolls out with a couple of lead blockers and his receiver goes to block some guys. Unless this is just a called bootleg run for Elliot without so much as a fake, which I find hard to believe. Brown(+1) does to a good job of containing, and Fitzgerald comes to tackle.|
|O44||2||14||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||Dig||Brown||13|
|Brown(+1, cover +1) right there on the play and has a swat at the ball but misses it. He's still there to make a tackle, though the receiver drags him for a few yards. Excellent coverage; Michigan made it tough this time. Graham did tear through late, but this is a pressure -1... Elliot could stand and fire.|
|M43||3||1||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Pass||Bubble screen||Woolfolk||6|
|Tough to stop on third and one with Michigan loading the box and with only two guys on the edge here. Brown does a decent job getting out; Woolfolk(-0.5) was late reacting after the guy was clearly stalk-blocking him off the line; he does shed and force the player out of bounds.|
|M37||1||10||I-Form||4-4 under||Run||Draw||Van Bergen||4|
|Campbell in; Michigan stunts through the line(RPS +1), with Van Bergen(-1) coming through clean only to overrun the play and let Bolden through the hole he just came through. Bolden ends up tripping over the guy blocking Campbell.|
|M33||2||6||Shotgun empty 2TE||4-3 under||Pass||TE Out||Brown||3 (Pen -5)|
|Caught; Brown(+1, cover +1), in a cover-2 zone, lights up the TE as soon as he catches it. Illegal motion brings it back.|
|M38||2||11||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Wobbler||Leach||Int|
|Michigan gets a gift as Elliot gets time (pressure -1) against a three-man rush and finds someone to fire to. The ball flutters at it leaves his hand and is reeled in by Leach(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 10-10, 2 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||4-3 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||Graham||5|
|What? See the Smart Football link. Basically any covered OL blocks down and anyone else pulls around. Graham(+1) shucks his blocker and gets playside of him, shooting into the hole and delaying the running back. And I thought I was going to give a big minus to one of the linebackers here but it turns out that JB Fitzgerald is held by a Purdue OL—like the guy grabs him from behind, this one is no question—and thus can't get out to the corner. That turns this from zero to five.|
|O44||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||Base 4-3||Run||Triple option keeper||Graham||1|
|Refs miss a Purdue false start. Elliott pulls it out when he doesn't like the dive fake, but Graham(+1) is not crashing and gets out on Elliott, forcing him back inside; Graham and Fitzgerald combine to tackle(+1) for minimal gain. Pitch guy was covered too, so Elliott didn't make the worst read possible.|
|O45||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Corner||Brown||6|
|Line shifted as per usual but the LBs are off the line and tucked in; weird. Michigan blitzes; Graham tears around the corner and beats one blocker, forcing another to come out on him. Purdue is clearly trying to pick Warren and get the slant as a result; Warren(+1) does a fantastic job of coming under the pick and having this blanketed. Holding? Maybe, but not called. Brown(-1), however, reacts to that route when he's in man on the slot guy and leaves his little corner route open, so Elliot has another option other than “die because of Graham.” Tough leaping catch from the WR.|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun Twins Twin TE||4-4 under||Run||Zone read stretch||Leach||6|
|Unfortunate for Michigan as Purdue gets an inadvertent chop on Graham, who they tried to double but did not seal, because the guy coming off Graham dives to cut Leach(-1) and Graham trips over the mess, opening up a crease just before the play reaches the sideline. Leach went down hard and heavy to the cut block, allowing his blocker to take out two guys.|
|M43||2||4||I-Form||4-4 under||Run||Inside zone||Roh||-2|
|Michigan's got a line slant on that murders this dead(RPS +1), as Roh(+1) is unblocked on the backside and blitzes right into the path of the tailback before the offset fullback has a chance to do anything about it.|
|M45||3||6||Shotgun empty||4-3 under split||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Roh||Inc|
|Roh(+1) is either spying on this or reads it because he does not pursue the QB but rather holds up and occupies the LT, which prevents him from getting out and allows Fitzgerald(+1) to flow unimpeded to the receiver. Ball is dropped anyway. (RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 11 min 3rd Q. What is this “punt” you speak of?|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel under||Pass||Swing||Brown||3|
|Trips bunch set takes Brown out to them and he plays head-up on the guy on the LOS. Michigan drops into a zone; Purdue receivers attempt to run it off and hit the swing pass underneath; Brown(+1, tackling +1) makes a good open-field tackle to turn this into a meh play.|
|O27||2||7||I-Form Twins||4-4 under||Pass||Rollout||Woolfolk||16|
|This will be annoying for the rest of the game. Michigan in what looks like man on the outside receivers, playing pretty far off. It's not man, as Warren drops off into a deep zone and Woolfolk(-1) is supposed to have an outside zone. He ends up getting run off and leaves a 15-yard out wide open(cover -1). Roh was chasing Elliott down but fell as he tried to avoid a desperate cut from an OL, so there's no pressure(-1) on this.|
|O41||1||10||I-Form||4-4 under||Run||Power O||Martin||0|
|Martin(+2) darts between the center and an attempted down-block from the RG, coming under the pulling LG to tackle Bolden in the backfield with no help from anyone else. Bolden coughs the ball up but it falls right to him.|
|O41||2||10||Shotgun trips||Tampa Nickel||Pass||Hitch||Brown||5|
|Brown(cover +1, +1) is again right in the receiver's grill as he makes the catch and has a swipe at the ball for a PBU, but can't make it. He does tackle(+1) with help.|
|O46||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||TE cross||Roh||Int|
|Warren spends the run up to this play leaping up and down trying to get other secondary members' attention. He does. Michigan runs a crazy zone blitz with both Roh and RVB dropping off the right side of the line into short zones; this gets Brown, blitzing off the corner, in clean (pressure +1, RPS +1). The zone drops from the DT end up covering(+1) the short options but Elliott gets a crazy accurate pass off that manages to find his tight end despite the tight end taking a detour around Roh after the ball was thrown. Tight end gets his head around late to find the ball almost there already and can't bring it in; Warren(+1) picks off the deflection.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 24-10, 6 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O18||1||10||I-Form Twins||4-4 under||Pass||Rollout deep hitch||Leach?||12|
|Part II of rollout extravaganza. No pressure(-1) on the corner and this seems like it's got to be a coverage bust from one of the linebackers because both Leach and Fitzgerald tear after the rollout, opening a lane for Elliott when Williams heads out for his flat zone. (Cover -1)|
|O30||1||10||Shotgun 2-back Twins||4-4 under||Pass||Bubble screen||Warren||3|
|Michigan man up on the corners and Warren(+0.5, cover +1) reacts to the bubble very quickly, getting in on it basically as the catch is made. Unfortunately he gets stiffarmed(tackling -1). Roh also overruns the guy as he cuts inside of Warren but the delays mean there are now five other Wolverines in the area and he can only get three.|
|O33||2||7||Ace Twins Twin TE||4-4 under||Pass||Rollout TE Out||Williams||7|
|TE pulls across with presnap motion and Purdue runs him into the flat, where he catches the ball in front of Williams for near first down yardage (cover -1, pressure -1, RPS -1).|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Warren||9|
|Warren is bailing out into cover-three and Elliott finds the hitch his coverage leaves open (cover -1).|
|O49||2||1||I-Form Twins||4-4 under||Pass||Rollout scramble||Brown||3|
|Still no one on the edge here (pressure -1) on the fourth rollout of the day. Leach does get a good chuck on the TE; he's covered; Brown has a guy in the flat(cover +1) so Elliot is forced to scramble up for the first down.|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||Fly||Warren||Inc|
|Warren(+1, cover +1) in great position. Ball is high and short so Warren doesn't have a play on the ball; leaping WR can only get one hand on it and it falls incomplete.|
|M48||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Trap||Roh||3|
|Roh(+1) responsible enough here to not fly upfield as Purdue leaves him unblocked and pulls two OL around attempting to trap Michigan up the middle. He gets into a blocker and when Bolden cuts up—Leach(+0.5) had contain—Roh fights playside of the blocker, gets held pretty badly, and sort of tackles Bolden with his back. Help came from RVB and Graham.|
|M45||3||7||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Penalty||False start||--||-5|
|50||3||12||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Penalty||Delay||--||-5|
|Oops. Why does the clock keep running after penalties like this?|
|O45||3||17||Shotgun 2-back||Tampa Nickel||Pass||Hitch||Warren||6|
|Whatever. (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 24-10.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||Power off tackle||Brown||19|
|Ugh. Center actually pulls here as two guys double Roh and Purdue goes for the outside. Roh(-1) gets sealed really quickly and is both out of the play and not occupying a double. Brown(-1) comes down too far inside and gives up the corner; Leach(-1) is sliced to the ground by the TE coming off Roh, Williams(-1) overruns the play as it nears the sticks and turns it into a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-17, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O9||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel under||Pass||Hitch||--||8|
|Weird LB/secondary config. Purdue runs a three-step drop that finds a hole in the zone(cover -1) between Williams and Leach. Fitz got a free run, but it didn't matter. (Pressure +1)|
|O17||2||2||Ace Twins||4-4 under||Pass||Rollout throwaway||Graham||Inc|
|Graham(+1) tears through the line and is fast enough to get in on Elliott, forcing a throwaway. Good flat coverage from Brown(+1, cover +1)|
|O17||3||2||Shotgun Twins Twin TE||4-4 under||Pass||Hitch||Fitzgerald||6|
|Guy comes open underneath a zone and Elliott hits him quickly; immediate tackle. Excellent catch on a poorly thrown ball by the TE.|
|O23||1||10||Ace||4-3 under||Pass||Rollout hitch||Warren||6|
|Quick throw, not a long rollout, and Warren is there to escort out of bounds immediately. I'm not negging these quick throws with immediate tackles but I am getting cranky.|
|O29||2||4||Shotgun 2-back TE||4-4 under||Run||Zone read stretch||Martin||-2|
|Martin(+1) blows the center back, forcing Bolden to delay a bit to get around the disruption. Graham(+1) blows into the backfield as well, cutting off the outside and taking out two blockers. and Fitzgerald(+1, tackling +1) uses the delay and the lack of blockers to dart into the backfield and make a solid TFL.|
|O27||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Fitzgerald||9|
|Four man rush is stoned (pressure -1) to the point where Elliot doesn't even have to worry about any issues, and Fitzgerald(-1, cover -1) sucks out of his zone, opening up a slant. Leach had the slot receiver; Fitz is busting a coverage here.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone read stretch||Brown||16|
|Purdue motions in a slot WR to act as a second TE and Michigan does not react (RPS -1); Brown(-1) fails to get outside the slot guy and gives up the corner; Roh(-1) ends up spinning inside of the OT despite this run obviously going outside; Leach(-1) is indecisive and ends up getting blocked into oblivion. Bolden gets the corner and a bunch of yards.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||Rollout corner||Kovacs||Inc|
|Kovacs(-1, cover -2, RPS -1) in man on this and that is a terrible matchup against a good Purdue receiver lined up in the slot. Elliott has the guy for at least 20 but throws it too far in front of him and the receiver can't make a tough catch.|
|M46||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel under||Pass||Rollout deep hitch||--||14|
|This is more of a half-roll and there's max protect, but Michigan is still not getting anywhere near this guy (pressure -2) on a deep drop. Elliott has plenty of time to come to a second receiver, wait for him to get open, and fire in a pass to a tight window in front of Brown. Lot of time, still pretty covered receiver, no cover minuses. These rollouts are killing me.|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Quick out||Brown||8|
|Brown(-1) has the flat here and instead attempts to cover a TE that is running into Leach's zone; Warren has a deep half and is not responsible. (Cover -1)|
|M24||2||2||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone read keeper||Herron||6|
|Herron(-1) dives too far inside and gives up the corner. Pretty sure this isn't a scrape exchange; if it was Herron would not even think about responsibility.|
|M18||1||10||Ace Twins Twin TE||4-3 under||Run||Draw||Leach||3|
|Plays off the rollout stuff with it looking like a rollout and then the counter draw coming. Martin seems like he's about to come around his guy and make a tackle at the LOS but a hold prevents him; OL then gives the “I ain't doin' nothing” hands up thing and lets him go, preventing a penalty. Borderline; can see letting it go. Leach(+0.5) slices between a couple OL to make a diving, face-first, sketchy tackle attempt; Roh(+0.5) loops around on what is probably a stunt to provide enough Michigan jersey to cut off the hole.|
|M15||2||7||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||Rollout FB Flat||Williams||5|
|Williams takes a step inside, biting on the run fake, but then gets out quickly to cover and tackle the FB flat immediately. No plus, no minus, eh.|
|M10||3||2||Shotgun trips TE||4-3 under||Run||Zone read stretch||Fitzgerald||10|
|Ugh. This is a game-losing play. Martin(+1) does great, slanting from the backside and taking two blockers directly into the path of Bolden. This play has to be dead now; a guy has occupied two blockers and delayed the RB. It's over, except Fitzgerald(-2) takes an angle way too far upfield and can only make a diving arm-tackle attempt on Bolden, which misses (tackle -1). Roh's stunted himself out of the area and the resulting mess prevents RVB from flowing; Ditto Kovacs, so Bolden gets into the endzone. Really, really should have been a TFL and a FG attempt.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 30-24, 5 min 3rd Q. Onside kick gives it right back to Purdue. Spectacular execution by the kicker.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun trips||Tampa Nickel||Pass||Fly||Kovacs||54|
|Four man rush, a zone blitz, gets nowhere near Elliott (pressure -2) and so he can half-roll a bit and look deep, where Kovacs(-4) has completely busted on the only deep receiver on his side of the field; guy is so wide open that even a terribly underthrown pass doesn't prevent him from scoring. (Cover -4). Enormous bust. Walk-on freshman safety.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, FML, 30-31, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-4 under||Pass||Bubble screen||Woolfolk||6|
|Michigan in a zone; Woolfolk(-0.5) is unblocked but reads it a little late and almost misses a tackle, allowing the receiver to make some YAC.|
|O48||2||4||I-Form Twins||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Graham||-3|
|Graham(+1) slants inside, meeting the playside G a couple yards in the backfield as he pulls; he drives the G back, forcing Bolden outside. Graham gets stiffarmed but his interior play has allowed Brown(+1) to finish the TFL after he got outside his blocker effectively.|
|O45||3||7||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 split||Pass||Hitch||Graham||Inc|
|Graham(+1) tears around the RT, flushing Elliott up into the pocket on a three-man rush (pressure +1) and forcing him to throw as he knows Graham is coming up for EXTREME VENGANCE behind him. Mouton(-1, cover –1) vacates his zone to chase Elliott, opening up a receiver for a first down; RVB(+1) is looping around and bats it down.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 30-31, 1 min 3rd Q. You can tell what the coaches' reaction was to that Bolden touchdown: Fitzgerald out, Mouton in.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 under||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Roh||1|
|Kind of a similar deal to a failed Michigan version of this earlier: Roh(+1) actually hooks the playside tackle, which prevents him from getting out to get a block; three Wolverines, including Roh, come in to crush the play. (RPS +1)|
|O32||2||9||Shotgun empty||Tampa Nickel||Pass||Scramble||Brown||4|
|Fake bubble to the slant Michigan likes to run except Brown(+1, cover +1) is not biting and Elliott has to look elsewhere, at which point Graham(+1) tears through on a three man rush and flushes him out of the pocket. Coverage remains good downfield so Elliot has to scramble; lot of short routes mean no one can peel off until he crosses the LOS. (Cover +1)|
|O36||3||5||Shotgun 2TE||Base 4-3||Pass||TE cross||Leach||56|
|Michigan sends six and plays man behind it; Leach(-4) is looking in the backfield and covering the wrong tight end because he's playing zone. This opens the tight end up wide open, and he grabs a short cross and turns it up for a huge gain. (Cover -4)|
I'm not sure why this lane opens up. Martin is slanting and slants from one side of the line to the left, coming around as if he's the DE on the opposite side of the line and dragging the RG with him; Graham does his usual tear-upfield-speed rush thing. Roh and RVB are slanting away from Martin; this results in a big pocket opening up and a major cutback lane no one is in because they're trying to cover receivers. I think Roh -1, RVB -1. Maybe Martin. Not sure. BTN analyst calls out Mouton, but he's in pass coverage on a guy who would otherwise be open, right? I dunno.
Hmmm. Official call: minus halves for the DLs, minus one for Mouton. Help here?
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 30-38, 10 min 4th Q. Aaand exeunt Leach.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 under||Run||Zone read inside||Roh||4|
|Martin(+0.5) holds up decently well, which causes a slowdown and allows Roh(+0.5), who's crashing from the backside, to come from behind and snuff this out. Pile then falls way forward. Martin holds up a little better and this can be 0.|
|O15||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Dumpoff||--||Inc|
|Graham(+1) starts the tear-around-corner-business and it looks like Elliott can step up into a pocket but I think he's spooked and decides to dump it off to the releasing RB, who drops an iffy pass. (pressure +1)|
|O15||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 split||Pass||Hitch||Warren||5|
|Wow, close to a chop block as a guy Martin isn't expecting gets into his knees. C was not engaged but it was close. The chop indicates a pass that must get thrown immediately and indeed, Elliott chucks it in between Kovacs(+1) and Warren(+1)—very dangerous. Cover +1. Ball is caught but the TE is falling back upfield because of the tight coverage and ends up short of the first down.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 30-38, 7 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun Twins 2TE||4-4 under||Penalty||False start||--||-5|
|O13||1||15||Shotgun Twins 2TE||4-4 under||Run||Down G||Graham||4 (Pen -7)|
|Graham(+2) tears through a TE trying to down-block him and heads out to the edge, where he gets into both pulling blockers and is tackled to the ground, drawing a holding call. The result is a strung out play that Ezeh and Brown end up overrunning, allowing Bolden to pick up a few.|
|O6||1||22||I-Form Twins||4-3 under||Pass||Rollout comeback||Woolfolk||Inc|
|Elliott wants to go to the TE but Brown(+1, cover +1) has him covered and Elliott keeps rolling and rolling. He's late; as he reaches the sideline he chucks it to the other receiver, who Woolfolk(+1) has under control and makes a pass breakup on. (Pressure -1, cover +1)|
|O6||2||22||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Trap||Roh||4|
|Roh(+1) slants inside the attempted trap block and gets in the lane, meeting the RB at the LOS. Bolden powers through for a decent gain, though... Roh needs some more weight.|
|Tape does not have this play. Abbreviated replay shows RVB(+1) the beneficiary of a coverage sack(cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 30-38, 3 min 4th Q. Final drive for Purdue is not charted since it's an extreme run situation and not representative.|
How's the ichor?
Don't I ask the questions?
Just talk before I dispel you.
The ichor is dry and rubbery. If I attempt to stroke my luxurious goatee it comes off in little gooey balls that are faintly warm to the touch and smell like an oil slick with an otter drowning in it.
Dude, you are evil.
Not as evil as Michigan's linebackers. ZING!
Sigh. How about a special mailbag question?
Sure, what the hell, I just want to talk Cowherd.
Brian,Defensively, I don't understand. My biggest concern is not the big plays, but how they look. I understand we have three walk-ons playing significant time, as well as a freshman D-lineman. Mistakes will happen. What I am worried about is the ease of which we are beaten. I don't have a problem with Kovacs being outrun or Leach getting blocked. That is expected. I have a problem with completely blown assignments. To get beat on a fly pattern by a guy who is faster - acceptable. To get beat on a fly pattern because you were tackling the fullback when the wideout was your responsibility - unacceptable. That is where we are. It can't all be Rock-Paper-Scissors playcalling. It is coaching. They have got to get these kids in the right position. Williams total disregard for Juice responsibility is a perfect example. The coaches have got to figure a way to get through to him. Then if Juice breaks his tackle or fakes him out of his shoes, good job Juice. We don't even challenge our opponent to out execute us.In a nutshell, I can be patient with the offense. Improvement, youth, blah blah blah. I can't be patient with this defense, and I believe it is on the staff. Coach Rod will have some tough decisions to make this offseason. Don't know if Gerg is the answer, but position coaches should be feeling the heat.Just needed to vent. I want Rod here 5 years minimum. I hope his delegation of defensive authority doesn't doom him sooner.Go Blue!Jim Cunningham
I SORT OF TALK… like CAPTAIN KIRK… if he had DOWN'S SYNDROME.
|Graham||12||-||12||Killed all runs to his side; somewhat culpable for poor pressure metric but those were rollouts.|
|Heininger||-||-||-||Didn't record anything.|
|Roh||6||4.5||1.5||Extensive discussion below.|
|Herron||-||1||-1||Only contribution was blowing contain once.|
|Martin||4.5||0.5||4||Relatively quiet; not getting much pass rush this year.|
|Van Bergen||2||2||0||Not a major factor.|
|Banks||-||-||-||DNP, I think.|
|Sagesse||-||-||-||Also DNP, I think.|
|Campbell||-||-||-||Didn't do anything of note but did play.|
|TOTAL||24.5||8||16.5||Step back from usual effort, especially given the pressure metric below.|
|Ezeh||-||-||-||Nothing particularly good or bad on late cameo.|
|Mouton||-||6||-6||Did this in like a quarter of playing time.|
|Brown||9||4||5||Built to play his position against a team like Purdue.|
|Fitzgerald||3||4||-1||I am actually encouraged by his play.|
|Leach||3||8||-5||Basically even except for the monster bust.|
|TOTAL||15||22||-7||Is it a positive that this is positive but for the –8 on huge coverage busts? No?|
|Warren||4.5||-||4.5||The NFL wants you to stay in school.|
|Woolfolk||-||4||-4||Rough day in zones.|
|Williams||-||3||-3||I'll take it.|
|Kovacs||1||5||-4||Enormous bust #3.|
|TOTAL||5.5||12||-6.5||Better than against Illinois, I guess.|
|Coverage||15||24||-9||Did a good job when they remembered at all where they were supposed to be.|
|Tackling||5||5||0||I really need to definite this more precisely.|
|RPS||5||5||0||Still working on this, too.|
[A reminder: RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]
It's basically the usual: pretty decent on the DL, Graham destroys, Brown does well or okay, other linebackers and people in the secondary who aren't Warren make graves. Hidden in the raw numbers is the distribution: –12 in coverage and the above numbers goes to three separate enormous busts. If Michigan does not make those busts it seems reasonable to assume they hold Purdue to something like 10-14 fewer points. If they don't bust, there is the talent, it seems, to have an average defensive performance against Purdue.
The emailer is correct that it's the busted coverages and disaster that makes this defense a disastrous disaster of disastrous proportions. Is this "acceptable"? Well… let's rephrase that into something that's less vague and standoffish. How much of this is a reflection on poor coaching by position coaches on up to Rodriguez? How much should this deflate expectations about how well this team can play on defense going forward?
I can point you to any number of metrics that suggest there are plenty of reasons that Michigan sucks on defense for reasons other than coaching. Here's a new one:
Comparing Michigan's defensive upperclassmen [ed: 3rd, 4th, 5th year players; RVB counts] not only to Ohio State, Penn State, and Notre Dame, but to the rest of the conference as well...
Ohio State - 22
Northwestern - 21
Indiana - 19
Illinois - 19
Michigan State - 19
Penn State - 19
Iowa - 18
Wisconsin - 18
Minnesota - 17
Purdue - 15
Notre Dame - 15
Michigan - 12
The rest of the Big Ten averages 50% more upperclassmen on defense. We are dead last in the conference by a wide margin in terms of experienced defensive players.
Then you add in the defensive coordinator carousel—three in three years—and the wholesale changeover of position coaches last year and, like, doy: this just about has to be a bad defense. If it was even average it would be a miracle. The emailer dismisses the idea of youth being a factor; again, I have no idea how you can do that. The raw numbers defy you.
So it's bad and it should be bad. Is it worse than it should be considering the incredible paucity of not even talent but mere bodies on the team? I don't know. Assuming that a busted coverage is necessarily on a coach not getting his guys to go to the right spots is dodgy. It could just be that the guys they have to start are either not ready or just not that bright when it comes to football and would be mediocre backups on another team. Sometimes people just can't hack the mental side of the game no matter what.
So maybe it's on the coaches. That is a blindingly obvious possibility. But there are plenty of mitigating factors that suggest it is not necessarily the case. The only way we will find out is with more time. They've got to be a lot better next year or things will get ugly.
[Note: the criticism that Rodriguez forced various kids to get R-U-N-N-O-F-T is another show. Presumably, attrition will be normal in the future. Rodriguez's previous stop did not experience undue attrition after his transition. Going forward, Michigan can expect to get its numbers back into the pack here.]
On to specifics, maybe?
So what was with the rollouts?
Purdue was very clever. Remember this thirty-yard run?
That's run directly at Roh and RVB and linebackers because Michigan's aligning based on the hash these days and not the formation. So they've got a lot of open space if they can blow Roh off the line, which is pretty easy right now because he's a 220-230 pound true freshman. Here he's not blown off the line, he's tasked with coverage. and gives up the corner. Okay, that's not going to work. RPS –1 was born for this.
Later Michigan flips the line so that Graham is to the open side of the field:
That play picks up one because two guys have to take on Graham and Michigan is using someone else. On the first play of Purdue's third drive they run an outside zone like the 30-yarder to start, and Graham tears through it; a hold from Purdue gives them five yards but the play is basically blown up. Purdue picks up a big run later with Heininger in in an I-Form twins; it's clear that BG is the only thing keeping Purdue away from major gains outside the tackle. So it's the strong side for him.
Now Graham is away from the receiver side of the field on the formations above and the rollouts can take advantage of Roh not being Brandon Graham; the one rollout on which Michigan did get pressure was from Graham. Later in the game, Roh gets sealed away on a 19-yard touchdown by Bolden when Michigan puts Graham on the weakside and gets another excellent run when Roh comes inside a TE. (Plenty other folk—three—picked up minuses on that play but if that's run at Graham they are not likely to have much success.) Purdue made Michigan pick its poison.
Roh did some good stuff on slants and was responsible when he had an opportunity to overrun plays, which gives him that modest positive score above, but big minuses in pressure fall mostly on the shoulders of the DEs and when one of the DEs is Brandon Graham they fall mostly on the shoulders of the DE who isn't Brandon Graham. So if you apply a chunk of that pressure metric to Roh, you get a solidly negative day. I think that's a realistic take on is game and am going to incredible lengths to justify that assessment because apparently Roh's dad reads UFR, which is something I'd really rather not know. The eyebrow furrowing!
I THINK THAT'S TOTALLY FAIR
Shut up, imaginary Cowherd. Anyway, Purdue did a really good job of exploiting the true freshman defensive end in this game. I think Danny Hope has shown that he was an excellent choice for Purdue's coaching transition; he will be a success. Probably.
I know, man. Mouton busts huge on the first drive and gets yanked. Ezeh has already been yanked and so you've got a couple sophomores out there and you're thinking 'hey, maybe this is where they show their mettle, they're gamers' and then by the end of the game they've both busted huge and the nominal starters are back in and if you go back and chalk up the number of Purdue points that came directly from the linebackers not knowing WTF they are supposed to do you get something like 14. They are terrible, and it's all mental.
This is one spot on the field where I lean towards the torch and pitchfork crowd. It could just be a couple busts and no depth with any experience, but Mouton was better last year and the vast improvement from Stevie Brown stands in stark contrast… since he's coached by Greg Robinson.
Brandon Graham remains Brandon Graham. Also, Stevie Brown's short coverage was excellent all day and though he missed on a couple opportunities to get PBUs he made it very tough and was a sure tackler. I'm so happy we blew his redshirt on kickoff coverage.
Warren also turned in a good day; I know it looked like he was leaving a lot of guys open during the game but I am pretty confident that those were not his issues because he was a deep half in cover-two.
Pick an enormous busty guy: Mouton, Kovacs, Leach. And as discussed above, Purdue's game plan other than "hey throw it to that wide open guy" was focused on exploiting Roh's lack of size and experience.
What does it mean for Wisconsin and beyond?
Despite the re-insertion of the nominal starting linebackers at the end of the game I assume that the linebacker question is an open one for Saturday and probably until the UConn game next fall. I graded Fitzgerald out at a –1 despite the crippling poor angle on that Bolden run and he looked physically capable; I'm pulling for him because he's younger, seems less prone to implode, and hasn't made me want to die more than once or twice.
At middle linebacker, I think Leach is seriously mediocre at this instant but so is Ezeh; there are no good options there. He, too, is a sophomore with a lack of on-field experience, so he seems more likely to have a light go on than Ezeh.
At this point the line is basically status quo, as is the secondary. I thought Williams did okay after a monstrously poor day against Illinois. So there's that.