photoshoppers, start your GNUs
So we did the meet and greet Q&A thing, and other than the liveblog portion being pretty much a disaster, A+++ would do again. I couldn't type fast enough to keep up with all the good info in the Q&A so below I've written up those answers plus some we answered after the fact via email.
We're tentatively talking another one the Friday night before the Notre Dame game, so calendar that. If you're coming in from out of town, Jared of Sports Power Weekends, who sponsored this whole thing, mentioned he's putting together a trip for that weekend that includes tickets for the game and a private tour of the Big House before we do drinks and ALL THE SHANE MORRIS.
Some things went way better than expected and other things not so much. Didn't go well: We had no way to plug our mic into the speaker system, fortunately remembering just in time that bartenders have friends with guitar amplifiers. The other thing that could have gone better is we forgot to warn Brian that Jehu Chesson was in the audience before your favorite blogger launched into his heuristic reasoning as to why Amara Darboh would be more effective this year because Chesson is still a waif.
New heuristic: Chesson sitting = Heiko standing minus an inch.
Did go well: lots of luminaries showed up. Players current and former included Chesson, Countess, Donovan Warren, and John Duerr. An incomplete list of bloggers: Bryan MacKenzie (aka BiSB), MGoPhotographers Eric Upchurch and Bryan Fuller, Burgeoning Wolverine Star, Lloyd Brady, M-Wolverine, Craig Ross, and LSAClassof2000. Epic shirts: Heiko's bubble screen smile, and a Branch-Morelli sweatshirt.
In things that surpassed all expectations, let me being with actual nicest guy in the universe Marlin Jackson himself. Walking out of the game to his car took about 25 minutes because he signed every hat, helmet, t-shirt or whatever thing put before him. We talked NBA decisions, how the Jake Butt TD was on Jarrod Wilson's as-yet-unadvanced field awareness, and that the biggest difference with this staff is they "teach football."
After being introduced by Brian as "the man who still has Reggie Williams in his back pocket," to kick off the Q&A Marlin talked about his Fight for Life Foundation. He was candid about his youth: Jackson grew up in the projects with a mother addicted to drugs and a father he never met. As you can imagine this isn't the best way to learn things like accountability, the value of an education, or even your own value and that of others. Marlin learned these things through Michigan; it's the goal of his foundation to give similarly underprivileged kids the opportunities he received because of his athletic talents.
Fight for Life runs three programs: Field of Dreams (link) is an in-school and after school program that basically helps get the kids back up to speed with their classmates. Seal the Deal (hyperlink) is a series of leagues and football camps for youth through high school with an educational/character-building component. R.A.P. (reach out and access your peers – url) is an SEL* program that gets kids to open up through, e.g. a discussion of their future aspirations or by presenting a paper on their favorite song lyrics. They need to raise about $200k per year to fund these programs.
* Social and Emotional Learning, the spread offense of education. Full context is linked above but you may cognate as learning that's the opposite of 'Another Brick in the Wall.'
We then talked about things like that one year the Colts paired Manning with a real defense, which receivers were the hardest to cover, and his impressions on the young defensive players at Michigan today. That after the jump. But first here's three generations of next-Woodsons:
Formation notes: Stacks and stacks. Here's a "shotgun trips" with Dileo moving outside a couple of stacked WRs, one of whom is Kwiatkowski:
Totally standard three wide for some reason:
Michigan spent a lot of time in this, which was dubbed Shotgun 2TE twins:
And triple stack tight:
Substitution notes: Nothing weird. No Rawls, a few Smith plays. Darboh got on the field for some real plays for the first time but no passes—not that there were many to go around. Didn't see Jerald Robinson at all, FWIW.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||5|
|Three man front for Purdue for whatever reason. Michigan doubles both playside DTs; Short is moving away from the play at the snap anyway. Omameh(+1) pulls past that and a double by Lewan and Kwiatkowski on the playside end; LB contains and Denard(+1) pulls. A safety has moved down to add another guy to the box; Denard has to go inside the Omameh block. Kwiatkowski(+0.5) peels off to get a pop on a linebacker, but these guys were a bit confused and did not try to seal the DE inside, so he can disengage from Lewan and tackle. Purdue in pure cover 0 here.|
|M27||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||End-around||Gallon||4|
|I wonder if this might turn into a read at some point as Denard does appear to be looking at someone on the D as he executes the mesh; Barnum pulls around and heads up inside, so a pull could be viable here. I don't think it's a read yet, though. Denard hands to Gallon as the playside DE chucks Schofield in an effort to get to the inside. He removes himself from the play. Schofield didn't look too hot here but he's probably not expecting the DE to do his job for him. Toussaint(+1) gets a hit on an OLB that gives Gallon(-0.5) the corner as Gardner(+0.5) cracks down on a LB; Gallon kind of jogs out of bounds instead of trying to blast out the first down.|
|M31||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||1 + 15 Pen|
|Michigan barely squeezes this out as Mealer(-0.5) kind of loses Short and does not get around him to seal him out of the intended hole and Williams(-1) really loses the end; both of those guys are in the hole as Lewan and Barnum release into one guy. Bler. Omameh(+0.5) is pulling around and manages to get a hat on a filling LB; this gives Toussaint his tiny little crease he hits for a yard and a first down, with a facemask penalty aiding the cause.|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun empty TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||4|
|Kwiatkowski(+1) blocks down on the playside end and erases him. That's Short! Dang. Lewan and Barnum pull around him. Lewan(+0.5) kicks a linebacker type, easy. Barnum(+0.5) finds a linebacker farther inside and blocks him. Mealer and Omameh are trying to scoop the NT and don't quite get it done but it's a push since the guy has to give a ton of ground to prevent the seal. Robinson runs up in the huge gap and goes NS, picking up a decent gain on first down. The 3-4 seems to be screwing with some blocking assignments.|
|O49||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||Toussaint||-1|
|Michigan gets caught by a corner blitz that allows Purdue to slant towards the playside. Kwiatkowski(+0.5) shoves the playside end past the play. Omameh(-0.5) gets no movement on Gaston and loses him to the frontside; Short beats a scoop by Barnum(-1) badly, and when the LBs keep leverage on the pulling linemen the two DTs flow from the interior to eat up Toussaint. RPS -1. Nice kick from Schofield(+0.5) and cut by Mealer(+1), FWIW.|
|50||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Drag||Roundtree||10|
|Pretty simple for Robinson as the MLB is stacked over the center and takes a step to the field as Roundtree drags inside of him. He recovers okay; not nearly enough to prevent the conversion. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Reverse||Gallon||7|
|Purdue blitzes off the slot; Michigan fakes a QB run to the field and pitches to Gallon coming the other way. Schofield(-1) blocks down on the backside DT for a moment and then lets him go, then thinks he's messed up and chases the guy. Gallon avoids him, then cuts up; the DE who is further downfield now comes up to contain and or tackle; he can't do anything. Schofield ends up blocking the DT but after Gallon beat him and doesn't actually make anything useful happen. Omameh(+1) makes the yardage happen thanks to a long-term block on the other DT that ends up sealing him away from the sideline. Gallon(+2) has already beaten two guys and throws in a third for good measure.|
|O33||2||3||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 3-4||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||3|
|The playside end comes down a little bit, enough to convince Denard to give. DE can chase Toussaint outside but not catch him, so maybe this is right? I'm not sure. Dileo(-1) runs by the slot LB, who forces Toussaint to bounce upfield; Darboh(-0.5) also gets beat by his blocker. Toussaint(+0.5) bounces outside of the first guy and then tries to do the same with the second, getting slowed by one DB and bashed by a second when just hitting it up is a first down.|
|O30||3||In||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||2|
|Same bit with Kwiatkowski(+1) shoving an end well out of the hole; his block eventually takes out Short, who slanted inside an attempted double. Roundtree(-1) whiffs an easy crack down; Barnum(+1) pulls and slows up to knock a linebacker inside, which gives Robinson a crease for the first down despite Lewan(-1) getting only a bler kickout as he falls to the ground. Robinson(+1) had cut well and was one and a half of those missed blocks from a touchdown. RPS +1.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Toussaint||6|
|The slightly odd shotgun iso Michigan broke out against Minnesota a while ago. Gap to get is between Lewan(+1) and Barnum(+1). Lewan gets movement and a kickout; Barnum's guy helps him but Barnum locks him out well despite a hands to the face that goes uncalled; Kerridge(+1) thumps a linebacker. Toussaint's got a good hole and hits it; overhang guy is unblocked and tackles.|
|O22||2||5||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||0|
|Purdue moves a guy off the slot and blitzes right into the mesh. Again, have to prevent this from happening with bubble punishment. M runs the veer; Robinson does read it and pulls in time. Schofield(-1) is getting slanted under and gives up too much ground, knocking Barnum off his pull. That guy shoots past the play as Denard pulls; now he's past an initial wave and in space further inside than he wants to be. It really looks like he's got huge lane outside but because of the bump on Barnum he's not making contact with the LB at the LOS and Denard(-1) fails to read the open space he will have. He made a quick decision to take here, but a missed opportunity for more. Since he does not cut outside he has blown up the blocking angle of a down-blocking Omameh and an overhang guy can come in to tackle for no gain. Kind of want to RPS -1 this but M did have an opportunity to pick up yards if Schofield and Denard execute a little better.|
|O22||3||4||Shotgun 3TE||3||1||1||Base 3-4||Pass||Flare||Toussaint||Inc|
|OLB is moving at the QB at the snap; Funchess is mainly picking the ILB to the short side, leaving Toussaint all alone on a little swing; Denard overthrows it. Toussaint almost makes a one handed stab-and-grab but can't quite. (IN, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +1)|
|O22||4||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Hitch||Gardner||8|
|Great pocket; Denard zings it into Gardner's chest on time. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O14||1||10||Shotgun 2-back trips||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Smith||1|
|Covered slot play. Purdue has a CB to the non-WR side on the LOS, a LB there, and a safety who is reading run the whole way. Corner comes upfield at snap; this looks like a veer but if so it seems like Denard should pull, except it doesn't really matter since Toussaint blocks the corner and there is no one being optioned. Denard gives; Smith meets an unblocked guy at the LOS. RPS -1. Schofield(+1) had a good block on a slanting guy, FWIW, and Barnum(+1) got to the second level right quick. If they'd had a guy for the safety...|
|O13||2||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 under||Run||QB iso||Robinson||4|
|This is an iso on which they run a fake veer mesh point and send Smith up the middle of the field. Barnum(+1) gets a tough scoop block on one of the DTs, sealing him. Mealer moves to the second level and would get an LB blocked if he knew where the ball was. Omameh(+1) kicks the other DT, Short. Lewan was blocking a guy who never tried to contain because the slot LB had it; he never gets sealed or kicked and flows down the line to tackle. Would like to see Mealer(-1) hold his ground and react on the fly once that LB starts moving away from the play. That's what the action is supposed to do, so set up and wall off anyone who shows, not just the LB.|
|O9||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 nickel||Run||QB draw||Robinson||8|
|How does this even happen I don't know. Purdue is running man on the goal line against Denard. They send a corner who Schofield(+0.5) flings upfield; Short gets out of his lane all by himself, and this gives Robinson(+1) a crack to the outside that he takes, as he is wont to do. He cuts past a charging LB and extends the ball to score, probably, but is called down and the replay can't overturn it. Bah. RPS +1, amazingly.|
|O1||1||G||Goal line||2||2||0||Goal line||Run||Trap||Toussaint||0 (Pen +0)|
|Burzynski in and a Lewan/Schofield setup on the left side of the line. Schofield(+1) blows up Gaston and Kerridge(+1) blows up a linebacker; Toussaint(-1) has an easy dive into the endzone that he does not trust and goes too far outside, allowing Purdue to recover. Rawls scores this. Purdue is offsides.|
|O1||1||G||Goal line||2||2||0||Goal line||Run||Off tackle||Toussaint||1|
|Basically the same one gap over. Lewan(+1) and Barnum(+1) pave the way and it's Toussaint one on one with a safety; Toussaint manages to squeeze in.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||38|
|Man, this is easy. Just six guys in the box for Purdue and the sixth flares out on the slot receiver. Playside DE contains, but it doesn't really matter since Omameh(+1) is pulling around and blocks him since he's got no one else to deal with. Lewan(+1) gets rid of the only(!) LB. Barnum got beat-ish by a late shift by Short but not enough to screw the play up; push. Robinson(+2) is into the secondary in a flash and turns ten into lots by making a safety look foolish. Gallon(+1) fended off a cornerback, adding a big chunk, too. RPS +3: five in the box against Denard Robinson.|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
|NT blows upfield of Mealer(-1) and disrupts the pull from Omameh. Against a three man front this is bad. Mealer ends up blocking no one. Lewan(+1) crooshes silly donkey DE to the interior but Kwiatkowski(-1) shows to the inside too much and lets a linebacker run over top of him. Toussaint kicks a guy, leaving two unblocked in the hole. Denard(+0.5) dances for a couple.|
|O22||2||7||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||6|
|OLB comes off slot; Kwiatkowski blocks him out. Purdue slides its line playside and has a linebacker behind who's unblocked thanks to the blitz. He's staying outside, so handoff. The slant gets the Purdue OL past the M OL but the M OL gets good push on a couple guys. Mealer(-1) lets Short by him in frightening fashion; Lewan(+1) gets his guy two yards downfield and makes him give up a lot of space. Toussaint(+1) cuts backside and avoids that linebacker, stumbling as he manages to power through the arm tackle. Short can now finish the job from behind.|
|O16||3||1||Shotgun 2-back 2TE||2||2||1||4-4 even||Run||Speed option||Smith||2|
|You know, Denard never ever pitches here and on this play of all plays he does. He's got a completely obvious lane for a first down; yeah, charging safety but he'll never stop you. Instead, pitch. That charging safety alters his angle and gets past Toussaint's hypothetical lead block; Toussaint does get a bit of a shove on him as Smith cuts inside, which gives Smith just enough to squeeze out the first. Schofield(+1) and Williams(+1) had crushed guys back for that lane; Denard(-1) should have kept this instead of risking the pitch.|
|O14||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||0|
|Funchess in as an H-back. This looks like the veer but they don't let anyone go so I assume this is an actual no read power to screw with folks. Schofield(-1) doesn't fire off, ends up catching a DE, lets him inside, and then Barnum(-1) blocks him too as he fills the hole. Toussaint bounces outside, unblocked LB, no gain. Barnum should be moving outside of this block instead of dealing with the guy who shows. If Schofield can't push him past the play that's not on you.|
|O14||2||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||-1|
|Bubble stuff. OLB comes hammering off the edge; Lewan(-2) is pulling around Kwiatkowski(+0.5) who again eliminates the DE easily. Barnum pulls up to wall off a LB coming from the inside and would have a crease for Denard but for Lewan getting blown upfield and the OLB disengaging to tackle. RPS -1.|
|O15||3||11||Shotgun 4-wide trips bunch||1||1||3||Okie zero||Pass||TE Dig||Funchess||14|
|Okie look from Purdue with no single deep safety. Only four sent; M picks it up. Nice pocket that Robinson steps up into and rifles a pass to Funchess at the goal line in between three zone defenders that Funchess brings in. Slightly behind Funchess but still a good throw given the coverage and situation; even better catch by Funchess. (CA+, 1, protection 3/3)|
|O1||1||G||Goal line||2||2||0||Goal line||Run||Off tackle||Toussaint||1|
|Purdue better prepared for this, getting into the pulling Barnum(+1) in the backfield; Toussaint(+0.5) feints outside, finds an unblocked guy, decides that's a bad idea, and then cuts back into Barnum's ass, which is busy escorting a dude into the endzone so that works out okay.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 14 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||5|
|Gallon motions in from the slot to be the possible handoff and Robinson(-1) keeps. That's an error as the DE is diving down. The corner is coming and this could be an issue but there's a lead blocker to pick the guy off. DE who has come down is in the hole... oh and I guess we take Denard's minus off the board(+1) since he bounces it outside after everyone sucks in and picks up five. Dios mio man. Gallon(+0.5) got a block on the edge. Barnum(+0.5) got a good pull and seal.|
|O21||2||5||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Penalty||False start||Schofield||-5|
|nyet. Schofield –1.|
|O26||2||10||I-Form twins covered||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||0|
|FB offset, TE covered. A big gap develops between the Mealer block and a pulling Barnum on the playside DT. LB shoots the gap, Toussaint gets nailed. Not sure what to do here; Barnum has to block that guy, need that playside double from Kwiatkowski and Lewan on power, Purdue gets unblocked LB in backfield; RPS -2. Insert rant about running from the shotgun.|
|O26||3||10||Shotgun double stacks||1||0||4||Okie zero||Pass||Throwaway||Robinson||Inc|
|Purdue sends seven at first but backs out the middle three guys. Schofield doesn't get out on the outside blitz and lets the guy through but to be fair Omameh is thinking about blocking a guy dropping out and you go inside out on pass pro. If Schofield goes out the inside guy goes in. Robinson should step up in the pocket and be Dan Marino at this point, instead he rolls out and chucks it OOB. I'll take it! (TA, 0, protection 0/2, team -2)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(43), 21-0, 11 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun empty TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||8|
|Kwiatkowski(+0.5) gets Short sealed for a moment before Short spins past the block; he falls. Mealer(-0.5) and Barnum are trying to scoop the NT and don't quite do it but he is delayed; Mealer releases into the second level and ends up blocking no one there as he lets a LB run past. He does get a safety as a second reaction but it seems like the 3-4 is confusing the line a bit. Schofield(+1) gets a good kick on the OLB; Omameh is leading Denard; a little slow but okay. Denard(+1) sees a crease and hits it fast.|
|M34||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB iso||Robinson||10|
|Gallon comes in from the slot, fake end around. Short and the OLB both go way upfield and outside in an attempt to contain. Line does an eh job on the iso stuff; MLB meets Toussaint at the LOS and there is no crease. Schofield, Mealer -0.5 each for not getting movement on their guys; Kwiatkowski(-1) blew a block on the OLB. All of this is fine because of Short chasing Gallon, which opens up a huge cutback lane for Denard(+2), at which point he's into the secondary for a nice gain. RPS +1.|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||End-around power||Gallon||2|
|Barnum pulls. Toussaint is a lead blocker and Gardner is cracking down on the outside. The corner comes, Gardner shoves him some, which causes the guy to spin (odd). Gardner then gets a shove on a linebacker. Toussaint hits the spinning CB and puts him on the ground; Gallon is headed way outside where an unblocked safety has time to fill. Gallon can't make him miss. This may be a read but they don't appear to be optioning anyone. Pull looked pretty good, FWIW. RPS –1; the corner blitz again.|
|M46||2||8||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 3-4||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||28|
|Always works, works this time even though the pass is deflected. Secondary is fearful of bomb; Funchess whiffs on his guy, but Gallon has so much space he can just run inside a little bit. Omameh(+1) is in space and gets a safety block. Schofield(+1) gets an effective cut way downfield, and Funchess saves a minus by keeping with the play and latching on to the guy Schofield cut to give Gallon(+1) an extra ten yards. (not charted, 3, screen, RPS +2)|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||3|
|Jackson(-1) starts the play by taking steps inside like he's going to crack down on the LB, who has no chance at making a play here, and is thus late getting out on a safety lined up eight yards off the LOS. That guy gets outside and fights off a cut, so the inside guy can come up and make a play after a couple yards. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O23||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||0|
|I'm not sure who the read is since it looks like everyone is getting blocked. Jackson(-1) comes down on the OLB, poorly. The guy is upfield and can explode into Toussaint if he gets the ball; Funchess thinks about blocking him before moving to the second level inside that block. That leaves a charging safety for Toussaint if he gets the ball, so that's not likely to be successful. Denard pulls anyway. Schofield(-1) got beat and his DE sheds to the inside, where Barnum is pulling. Now Denard has to go outside of that block, where Jackson's guy comes down to tackle because he's got an angle. RPS -1; this one was hard to see working even if Schofield gets his block. Slot Jackson is kind of an obvious run tip.|
|O23||3||7||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Post||Gardner||23|
|Purdue sends five and goes from two high to one high late with one safety coming up in a robber. Robinson reads it, finds that the other safety has dropped way too deep, and zings a twenty-yard post to Gardner as a stunting blitzer gets to him. He leaps, catches, falls into endzone. (DO, 3, protection 2/3, Barnum -1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-3, 3 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||0|
|OLB tears at the mesh point; Denard pulls but too late and it looks like Smith is instinctively clamping down as he takes the hit. Denard(-2) should have just aborted the mesh early but it's tough to ask that.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 28-3, 1 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB iso||Robinson||9|
|Same thing as the previous play with Gallon in motion sucking Short way upfield. The playside end is slanting hard under Lewan(+1), who latches on and shoves the guy inside and upfield. Barnum(+1) and Mealer(+1) get movement on the NT and Barnum pops out on a linebacker who is coming up. Toussaint pops the other ILB, leaving a safety who came down unblocked; Robinson(+2) cuts behind and thanks to the Lewan block and Mealer getting movement he's got that cutback lane generated by the Gallon fake. He takes it. Short recovers to tackle from behind. You would like Omameh(-0.5) to prevent this from happening. RPS +1.|
|M47||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||2|
|Kwiatkowski and Lewan get a little movement on the end; Fitz kicks the OLB. Omameh is trying to get to the ILB to the playside; a safety in the box comes down unblocked to fill and tackle. Denard does get it. Okay, fine, short yardage against cover zero no funny stuff up 18. Push for everyone.|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Sweep||Toussaint||3|
|Well blocked, with Kwiatkowski(+0.5) bashing the DE inside; he trips as he spins upfield past the block; would prefer this to not look like it's going to work before it doesn't but the movement Kwiatkowski gets is the reason someone steps on him. Lewan(+0.5) kicks; Barnum(+0.5) gets the ILB, and Toussaint... has an eighth defender in his face because Purdue is in pure cover zero. He makes a good cut past the containing safety and is about to get some nice yards when Short, unblocked on the backside, tackles from behind. RPS -1, technically, not that I'm all upset about it or anything.|
|O48||2||7||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE Wheel||Funchess||Inc|
|Throwback screen fake that is supposed to get Funchess wide open down the sideline; it does not. Whatever the safety's key was it wasn't something M showed; he drops off and has great coverage that forces Funchess OOB. That's Denard's only receiver and he doesn't have anywhere to scramble so he tosses it up. The pass is perfect, except Funchess is running OOB so that ain't legal for catchin'. Um. (CA?, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)|
|O48||3||7||Shotgun trips stack tight||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Out||Funchess||Inc|
|Denard finds Funchess for about ten and it looks like they'll convert but the pass ends up well behind him and wobbly. I looked at this a lot and I think Short got a finger or two on it, as it looks like a tight spiral until it reaches Short reaching up and then it gets wobble on it. I get it if you're like IN, but this got deflected. (BA, 0, protection 2/2). BAs still count against your downfield success rate anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-10, 13 min 3rd Q. Man, the drop from NBC to BTN is enormous.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Belly give||Toussaint||2|
|Poor damn Toussaint. Again he's eating an unblocked guy in the backfield. The end shuffled down and then collapsed on the handoff; give or not is a push for Denard because the corner was blitzing. Play was dead on the snap. RPS -1.|
|M29||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel 3-4||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||6|
|Second bubble, second screwup by the WR blocking. Darboh(-1) stands at the LOS like a doof and Gallon actually reaches the guy as he catches the ball. From there Gallon(+1) does Gallon things to pick up pretty good yardage. More Gallon touches. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M35||3||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||4|
|Outer two players block down as Mealer and Omameh pull around. WR motions in right before the snap and cracks down. Kwiatkowski(+0.5) shoves the DE inside, getting the edge. Toussaint(+1) kicks the corner with authoritah. Big hole with three M guys in it and three Purdue guys; Denard gets a little impatient and runs up his blockers' backs. Omameh(+1) gets a good second level bock and Mealer is leading, looking at the safety, when that safety goes low, submarining Mealer and just tripping Denard as he tries to cut behind. Think Short had him in pursuit even if this doesn't happen but pretty close to making things happen.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||46|
|This pull is brilliant madness. M leaves the back two guys unblocked; Short tears after Toussaint. The OLB is unblocked and containing, Denard pulls anyway, and goes straight upfield. Short's still after Toussaint; the end cannot reach Denard as he goes straight NS. Mealer(+1) moved the NT playside and got him a yard off the LOS. Schofield(+1) was releasing downfield to get the other ILB, who starts heading outside even before the mesh and runs himself out of the play; Schofield adjusts to eliminate him. Then, Denard(+3), space, fast, etc. No shoe. Runs OOB. Would like to see him be more aggressive in big games. Keep yer shoe on.|
|O15||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Sweep||Toussaint||0|
|Kwiatkowski(-1) does not get a seal on the end this time. Schofield(-0.5) loses the OLB upfield because he's attacking aggressively there. Mealer and Barnum can't get a seal on the backside DT. Toussaint has to arc outside that DT and then try to hit it up; Mealer(-1) couldn't get to a LB despite leaving early and he and Short blow it up at the LOS. Nobody got blocked here. RPS -1.|
|O15||2||10||Ace big||1||3||1||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||0|
|Michigan runs an inside zone away from the strength of the formation and into five guys against four blockers. This doesn't work, especially when the playside ILB bugs out to beat a block. Maybe this should have been a cutback. Yeah, maybe, but tough when Barnum(-1) has just caught a guy and is a yard in the backfield. Still, Toussaint -1.|
|O14||3||9||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||Okie zero||Run||Speed option||Smith||4|
|Jackson(-2) is the main blocker on the edge here and barely touches the cornerback. Denard gets some pursuers from the interior and ends up pitching late, but it's so late that as one pursuing guy tackles Denard becomes a human cut block on a second, leaving Smith in space with the corner and Jackson; if Jackson can even shove this guy a little Smith can score a TD; he does not. RPS push since normally the second guy on Denard would hold this down.|
|Drive Notes: FG(29), 6 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M11||1||10||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||4-3 even||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|bah. Lewan –1.|
|M6||1||15||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Toussaint||0|
|Safety overhanging is an unblocked guy in the box as M bizarrely doubles the backside DT. I guess Denard could pull and go vertical again; he doesn't. There is a DE that seems to be containing but I'm not sure if he can do anything about this. Anyway, blocking is good for the iso; Toussaint(-2) sees the overhang guy and tries to bounce away from him, turning five yards into zero. Lewan(+0.5) got a good kick; Kerridge(+1) bombed the MLB. Barnum only did eh with Short, understandably.|
|M6||2||15||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB iso||Robinson||6|
|Gallon end around fake. This again gets Short chasing, but no cutback as one of the ILBs is filling that gap. Omameh(+0.5) and Mealer(+0.5) are able to shove and seal the nose. Toussaint(+0.5) gets an okay lead block and Denard(+1) just hits it straight upfield. A safety comes down to tackle after a few; he's doing it from the side and Robinson can drag. This play... this play will be able to hit big on PA. This is going to get an RPS +3 sometime in the next three games.|
|M12||3||9||Shotgun double stacks||1||1||3||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||Dig||Roundtree||13|
|Only three rush. Denard sits and zips it to Roundtree for a first down. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Veer PA post||Gallon||Inc|
|M continues to have trouble blocking this play action as Barnum sort of overruns his gap and a LB threatens. Barnum does get a shove that allows Denard to move outside and reset but now he knows he's got to go go go and can't let a wheel develop, etc. Gallon is one on one on the outside and has inside position, so this is a throw you may as well make. It's accurate enough despite being a back foot throw; Gallon leaps... and is too short. It does go off his hand, which is pretty good for a 40 yard throw under these conditions. (CA+, 2, protection 2/3, Barnum -1) Funchess or Gardner likely brings this in.|
|M25||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||2|
|Gallon end around action to the sweep. Kwiatkowski(+0.5) bombs the DE. Schofield(+0.5) gets a good kick. M can't seal the NT but does okay and Robison can run by him.Smith and Omameh(-1) are leading into two defenders; Omameh lunges at his guy and doesn't cut him but does fall as he hits in the midsection; gotta pick one thing to do. Robinson is thinking he'll hit a hole between his two lead guys and burst into the secondary; that plan is foiled when Omameh's guy comes through the block to tackle.|
|M27||3||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Corner||Gardner||Inc|
|Gardner gets himself open with a post corner; Robinson hits him a little high and a little hard but it's still right in his hands; dropped. (DO, 2, protection 2/2) Denard threw this so the ball was in the air on target as Gardner came out of his break.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 3 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||59|
|Pretty much the basic spread play bursts huge. M lets the DE go with Kwiatkowski blocking the OLB. DE shoots for Toussaint, pull. LBs also going for the frontside, so there's a big hole. Safety coming down to fill it; Denard cuts behind Schofield(+1), who latched on to one linebacker and shoved him outside, giving Denard a lane. Lewan(+1 released downfield and though the LB has the angle on him he still collapses to his knees and falls. Boom, lane, gone. 50 yards later there are members of the secondary. He dodges one, then gets ankle-tackled. Dangit. Robinson +3. RPS +2.|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read handoff||Toussaint||-1|
|Exact same thing except Denard(-1) hands despite the DE crashing. At least five if he keeps. Schofield(-1) got blown up too, making things worse for Fitz.|
|O17||2||11||I-Form twins covered||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Sweep||Toussaint||2 (Pen -15)|
|LB overhanging goes upfield and gets a two for one as he picks off Kerridge and forces Toussaint inside. Williams(-1) loses his block; both LBs are flowing hard, and there is a safety. Four Boilers, one blocker. Ball game. Schofield(-1) gets called for a chop block.|
|O32||2||26||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB draw||Robinson||8|
|Man, Short can recover like whoah. He gets way upfield, M runs a draw right up in that lane, and he still almost comes back to kill it. Robinson(+1) manages to cut inside the containing LB for a nice gain.|
|O24||3||18||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Batted ball||Gallon||Inc|
|Five man rush with two delayed guys. Picked up. Can't tell if this is a good idea or not. Gallon thinks so, FWIW. (BA, 0, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 34-13, 10 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||2|
|Purdue selling out now and M just killing clock so I'm not going to be too tough. Toussaint would have a shot at a cutback for some yards but the MLB is ripping at the LOS at the snap and bowls Barnum(-1) over backwards; Lewan can't get on him because he's just charging. Situation, whatever. Toussaint does well just to get a couple.|
|O25||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB iso||Robinson||11|
|Playside DE slants inside hard and is shunted away by Lewan(+1). Kwiatkowski(+0.5) kicks the OLB. Toussaint(+0.5) stands up a LB who is containing. Barnum(+1) managed to sidle out into the other ILB; Denard(+1) shoots through the gap and brushes past Barnum for a first down.|
|O14||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||0|
|This is the frustration play where Toussaint(-2) has 4-5 just by running up his OL's back but bounces for zip. Lewan(+1) had pounded a DE. Mealer(+0.5) locked the NT out.|
|O14||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||4|
|Gallon end around action. Barnum pulls, power etc. Well blocked; Robinson(-0.5) probably makes an unwise decision to bounce but has the speed to pick up five or so so no full minus. Kwiatkowski(+1) had gotten a ton of movement on his guy. Barnum went for a safety instead of the LB, but that decision wasn't tested.|
|O10||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Slant||Gardner||Inc|
|Batted at the line, and then by a linebacker. Fingertips both and he may have had Gardner otherwise so no BR. (BA, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(30), 37-13, 6 min 4th Q. That's it for Denard. I'll take a look at Rawls in the next drive but I'm not charting too hard at this point.|
|O33||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Rawls||5|
|Lewan out, Burzynski in at RG, Omameh RT, Schofield LT. Barnum(+1) and Mealer(+1) blow the NT off the ball; Rawls cuts behind and rams it into a safety.|
|O28||2||5||Ace||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Rawls||2|
|Basically same thing except Schofield gets slanted under a little and Rawls has to cut further back, allowing the safety time to get to him near the LOS. He tries to bounce and probably should just slam it right upfield.|
|O26||3||3||I-Form twins covered||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Rawls||19|
|Barnum(-2) whiffs on his DT, falling; Kerridge is forced to take him instead of the LB charging up the middle of the field. Schofield(+1) has enough push on the DE to allow Rawls(+3) a bounce; Rawls then runs over a filling safety and turns barely a first down into a big gain.|
|O7||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||4-3 even||Run||Iso||Rawls||7|
|DT slants under Barnum(+1) again; this time Barnum latches on to drive Short past the play and gets a cutback lane. Schofield(+0.5) kicks the DE well; Mealer(+0.5) gets out on one ILB, with the other trying to fend off Kerridge. Mealer's guy can't extend to tackle in time and Rawls(+2) runs through another safety tackle after the cut for six.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 44-13, 2 min 4th Q. Rest of M snaps are kneels.|
Fine, you win.
We get it.
Yeah, but how about this business on the passing—
[Hennechart legend is updated. Hover over column headers for quick explanations]
|2011 through MSU||13||66(12)||11(1)||34(1)||17||2||3||10||4||55%|
|2011 after MSU||9||77(9)||7||17||9||6(1)||5(2)||9||5||69%|
How about that BR number compared to the TA number? Yeah. Yeah man. Oh, Denard threw it away. Threw it away LIKE A BOSS. That one time.
Anyway, very low numbers so don't take the DSR super serious you guys. Potential alterations: a particular throw behind Gardner may have been IN instead of BA, the one charted IN was filed a screen since it was a little flare behind the LOS, and I gave Denard a CA on the Funchess wheel route that was OOB since he did as well as he could in that situation and it wasn't his fault that the WR was running out of bounds. Also I didn't chart the deflected screen to Gallon.
The line kept him clean, and he responded with a quality small-sample-size day. What happens when he has to throw more than 16 times? We'll cross that bridge if we have to.
I think having faith in the OL is key for Denard. Here's a third and eleven from the 15 on which Denard's got a great pocket, steps forward a couple times, and rifles it to Funchess:
BOOM. Denard with/without pressure is just night and day. Also when he's set up in the pocket he seems to handle it better than when his feet aren't set.
There was a bubble screen!
As Borges pointed out to a shamed Heiko, there were two. Weirdly, both got crap blocking as exterior WRs seemed to not get the playcall. Jackson started a crackback block on no one on the first and I have no idea what Darboh thinks he's doing on the second:
Even so they picked up 3 and 6 yards. You don't want to get so bubble dependent you're getting Jake Ryans in your face on the edge but if you want big plays—and if we've learned anything in the past year and a half it's that Borges has a Fathead of a freestyle ski-jumper screaming GO BIG OR GO HOME in his room—you've got to pull those corners up when they try to play you from the parking lot. Next week maybe the outside WRs will even block for them.
A side note on this section: man, we need more Gallon touches. He had three runs, three catches, and a fourth target in this game. I'd like to see him get to 10-12. Toss him screens, use him as a pitch back on the speed option, hand it to him on an inverted veer from an otherwise empty formation, etc.
All right, passing whatever, MANCHART
|Lewan||10.5||4||6.5||Best drive blocker on the line.|
|Barnum||11.5||6||5.5||Big numbers because M is now lefthanded.|
|Mealer||5.5||5.5||0||Can't seal like Molk against big time competition.|
|Omameh||7||2||5||Reliable, got some space stuff.|
|Schofield||10||8||2||Gets pushed back more than the other linemen.|
|Kwiatkowski||7||3||4||M's running all those sweeps for a reason.|
|Williams||1||2||-1||Less effective than 81.|
|Funchess||-||-||-||Got a push on the screen|
|TOTAL||52.5||30.5||63%||Slightly below desired 2:1 ratio, but game situation mitigates|
|Robinson||20.5||6.5||14||9.8 YPC is good, right?|
|Rawls||5||-||5||Made a case for more PT.|
|Smith||-||-||-||Didn't get a plus or minus.|
|Kerridge||3||-||3||Insert complaints about scholarship FBs x3|
|TOTAL||33.5||12.5||21||Denard kind of good at the running thing.|
|Gallon||5.5||0.5||5||More touches more touches more touches|
|Jackson||-||4||-4||For a designated blocking WR he needs work on blocking|
|TOTAL||6||8||-2||Gallon ran well, receivers blocked poorly.|
|Protection||20||4||83%||Team –2, Barnum –2.|
|RPS||12||11||+1||massive credit to Borges that this is positive with 76% runs and Purdue selling out on them|
Protection stellar, Denard a flaming tower, line could have done better but got a win. Wide receivers were a problem when not in possession of the ball.
Why can the line block for Denard but not Toussaint?
Well so the thing is Purdue spent a lot of bullets blitzing against zone stuff. On plays where Fitz took inside zone handoffs and ate turf for no yards the handoff was always correct because someone was containing. If Denard keeps, he's meat (except that one time). Then you're left with a weird conundrum about why.
Well, one reason why: blocking the inverted veer is relatively easy. It's power without a kickout usually, because the end is containing the back. So the kickout can't screw up, and you get a free release from the guy who would be kicking out, and then you get a downblock on the DT, and you get a bonus guy pulling around to clean up first level mistakes and head-hunt LBs. It's a pretty good play you guys.
Also, sometimes Denard is just dang.
Hello, OLB specifically designed to contain me. Goodbye, OLB. Say hello to Walrus when you get chewed out on the sideline.
There is something to the idea Purdue was going after Toussaint aggressively. On Denard's 59-yarder the unblocked end charged after Toussaint, causing a pull. Denard dipped inside a Schofield second level block when the safety charged up and that was all she wrote. Why you would construct your defense to get Denard Robinson to pull I have no idea.
How much should we care about this?
Um… not much? Michigan put up 6 yards a carry* while running 76% of the time. Completely erase Denard's 59 yarder and you're a hair under 5 yards. That doesn't even make sense! That is a totally unfair thing to do! And Michigan is still kicking ass against a team that did this to Notre Dame:
- five sacks for 40 yards
- 3.3 YPC, sacks excluded, while running 40% of the time
ND just rushed for 376 yards against Miami. Purdue did better against the ND offense than World Best Defense MSU did. Michigan spent the entire game running into stacked fronts. I'm willing to give the OL a pass for getting blown up by Kawann Short a bit en route to 300 yards rushing.
That this game comes after a second half in which Michigan bulled its way down the field against the mansome ND front seven only makes OL fretting even sillier. These guys aren't Steve Hutchinson clones but come on man. They'll be fine until the final test against Hankins and Simon.
*[kneels excised as per usual]
What is your Kwiatkowski deal?
I tried to back off on the assumption that what he was doing wasn't that hard, but Michigan's running that sweep thing where the TE blocks down and the two guys to the interior pull around all the time and you have to figure Kwiatkowski is a reason why. I mean, this is against Kawann Short:
Later in the game Short would start fighting back upfield of this by spinning but Kwiatkowski had usually shoved him so far that he could not recover to make a play. He's kept AJ Williams, a 285 pound player who was a tackle last year, largely off the field. Dispense with anti-walk-on bias—he's a pretty good player. I'd be surprised if Moore got his job back when he returns from injury.
You teased something about QB iso, and I want it more than crack cocaine.
It's back, albeit in a modified form. One of a few things Michigan ran off the Gallon end-around action was an iso where the back would move a gap or two over and Robinson would go straight upfield. The first couple times they ran it, the playside DE to Gallon's side of the field blew out of his gap to chase the end around and Robinson got big cutback runs…
…that would end later when LBs started filling behind the DL. They also ran it with Toussaint a little, but the lack of ostentatious presnap motion didn't cause the same kind of freakouts on the DL.
That vertical motion is going to lead to some freakouts if opponents are going cover zero as much as Purdue and ND did. In the Toussaint link above, if Smith runs by the LB it's game over for the Boilers as Denard flips it into space for an easy TD. In the embed the worst thing that happens is you have pure one on one matchups with both outside WRs; you may be able to shoot a TE down the seam against certain defenses, though this one looks like man to man so that's not the best option.
The return of the iso is what can truly bring back QB Oh Noes, as fear of Denard will drive safeties to abandon deeper responsibilities. If Kwiatkowski gets a shove and then releases downfield on this play… well… you know what happens.
It's called "Tony Moeaki 2009."
Someone's getting burned big time in the next few games. Not Illinois.
Okay, he's shown a little something with the annihilation of the UMass LB and running through tackles against Purdue. Upgraded from Mark Ingram But Fast to Jim Brown But Fast, by which I mean I am intrigued and would like to see some real carries for the guy on Saturday.
The guys who do the… thing. With the hands. Catching?
Oh right those guys.
[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]
Minimal numbers, most notable thing the Funchess circus catch.
Denard, the left side of the OL, Kwiatkowski.
Toussaint did get antsy. Jackson needs to block better if he's going to be a blocking WR. Schofield got pushed back a bit too far for my tastes.
What does it mean for Illinois and beyond?
Encouraged by the new stuff in the run game; if Borges is focusing on that it looks like we may get little tweaks to keep it fresh.
Denard had a big bounce back from ND and we can tenuously hope he has found turnover religion. Funchess: bad ass.
The line… is okay. They'll never blow guys off the ball but the best DL in the league other than OSU is now in the rear view mirror and they'll be fine.
Gallon needs more touches.
Toussaint will get some holes the next few weeks.
Depart posthaste. Go read this Hinton piece on Denard Robinson vs Notre Dame or I swear I will find you and glare at you:
Give us some of that old time Denard Robinson religion
Aside from certain injuries and Colorado's existence, generally, the most depressing moment of the early season is Alabama's crisp, methodical bludgeoning of Michigan on opening night, a lopsided dominance display that confirmed everything we already knew about the Crimson Tide defense as the taker of souls. In this case, the life force the Tide consumed belonged to the most exciting player in the country, Denard Robinson, who was hounded, hit, picked and demoralized by a cold, calculating, perfectly calibrated machine bent on snuffing out any hint of spontaneity or creativity in its path. Pick your synonym: Blowout, rout, trouncing, debacle, shellacking – it was the opposite of a "classic." Mere mortals were not spared.
Vamanos. Please leave him some comments that are not ND sprotstakes.
Also highly recommended. OSU got gashed by Cal on Saturday; Ross Fulton breaks down the various ways in which that happened. Some of it's schematic, with Cal busting outside of OSU formations without a force player. OSU runs the same under Michigan does and they were also aligning it to field like Michigan has been, so that's something I'll be looking out for in the future.
Some of it is Shazier being Shazier. He was at least partially responsible for both of Cal's long rushing TDs. The second:
Oy, –3 right there. The first one was the guy getting way too aggressive and shoulder-blocking a tailback who popped outside. He makes a lot of plays for both teams.
"How to knit a stadium in 15 days." Wot it says on the tin:
This has just become the most intriguing blog post in this site's history for my mother. The above is composed of 2670 yards of Andes Bulky wool, 14 of the skeins "hand-dyed in various patterns to simulate the crowd." This woman is deadly with needles.
Oy. A bunch of emails sent back and forth between NCAA folk in the aftermath of the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit dropping have just been released. Highlights include UNL chancellor Harvey Pearlman telling the group they're totally boned, a Texas administrator coming off very poorly…
"I view these cases as being the result of the entitlement attitude we've created in our revenue sports," Plonsky wrote. "We now have threatening s-a's -- many of whom, based on grad rates of the '80s and '90s, sucked a whole lot off the college athletics pipe -- and now want to buckle the system at the knees of the expense of today's s-a's."
…and the admission that EA puts the student athletes in the game and only scrubs them right before launch.
The picture painted is of a lawsuit that has the NCAA in a panic because they know they're SOL. Which, good. I'd rather have old athletes people remember get some money than "today's s-a's," by which they mean "athletic department employees."
Police work. BWS is also talking packaged plays by looking at something Michigan ran against Air Force that turned into the usual zone, but featured the fake
bubble LAZER on the outside:
This is interesting to me because it was a standard part of the RR offense. This is different in that it's the inverted veer being run, not inside or outside zone, but the bubble attachment is pure RR. I watched a video of Calvin Magee giving a coaching clinic talk last summer and in it there was an interesting discussion of this very thing. Magee talked about sometimes they called this presnap, but sometimes they "read it out," i.e. allowed the QB to make this read after the snap. There are two ways they did this:
- allow QB to abort mesh point entirely and just throw the bubble.
- give the QB a post-keep option in the event he gets a guy in his face.
Usually this was #1. In a way this was the ur-packaged play. It's a run, it's got a pass built in. The innovation Oklahoma State and WVU added was going vertical with it after they realized refs aren't throwing illegal man downfield penalties. The bubble is behind the LOS and thus invulnerable to that call.
BTW, when they called stuff presnap the bubble route still got run, but just to demand someone cover it, as you can see the linebacker is doing in this frame. Borges said something about not liking the bubble because they prefer their WRs to block, something that didn't make much sense to me because of plays like this. That LB is not going to be relevant in the run game.
Anyway, this could be any of three different things:
- straight called handoff
- zone read
- zone read w/ attached bubble
Given how wide open that bubble is I don't think they've hooked that up yet, and since they let both the playside and backside ends go, I'm guessing this was a straight handoff.
Rocky's really doing it. If you haven't been paying attention to SDSU coach Rocky Long's assertion that he's just going for it all the time, he actually did it a couple weeks back. Result:
Then, with 4:50 remaining in the fourth quarter and SDSU down 21-12, Katz drove the offense 66 yards to the Washington 8.
Conventional wisdom dictated that if the Aztecs converted a 27-yard field goal and stopped the Huskies on defense, they’d be in prime position to go for the tying touchdown, and potential game-winning extra point.
Instead, once again, the offense stayed on the field. Katz’s attempt to squeeze a touchdown into the end zone for tight end Gavin Escobar fell incomplete, and thousands of Aztec armchair quarterbacks screamed at TVs all over the West Coast, wondering why Long hadn’t just opted for the safer field goal.
They talk to a professor about this. It turns out it was fourth and six. My initial reaction there is that's a tight decision. Fourth and six is not easy and when the defense is packed in near the goal line it's even tougher. You need two scores either way. Let's run over to that Advanced NFL stats calculator, which says…
…kick. An NFL kicker has a 95% shot at that field goal, you convert about a third of the time from that distance, and the expected points are dead even. You're still not in good shape but it's a big difference: kicking is 16% win, going 10%. You'd have to think you have a two-thirds shot at making it to justify going. It's NFL so it is not precise, but the differences aren't large enough to swing that.
Moral of the story: if you need two scores you'd better make sure you get one on your second to last drive. Also maybe the Aztecs don't have a kicker—they were down two scores because they went for two twice and failed.
Turns out not so much. Remember the guy who got beat up by a bunch of MSU hockey players? Turns out he's been charged with various things including "making a false police report." Dialing back mass-violence-against-students jokes.
Etc.: Last year's ND game synced with Ufer. Eamonn Brennan considers this year's edition of Michigan basketball, says if things break right they could be a national title contender(?!), which is optimism on a level I am unprepared for.
9/15/2012 – Michigan 63, UMass 13 – 2-1
I don't have anything incisive to say about Saturday's events. Even if I did it would be equivalent to taking a scalpel to a pig you dropped out of a hot air balloon: the scene speaks for itself, and you're not going to come out of it with ham.
I'm with this guy:
I started poking around previous events like this to figure out what you're supposed to say when the predictable thing that doesn't mean anything happens, finding this after the 2010 Bowling Green game:
It's been a long time since this has happened, but in the aftermath of a 721-yard outburst against a I-A opponent there's no grand emotional narrative arc to relate. Last year there was a sense of relief after the Western game; the Eastern game was a reminder that sometimes Michigan plays teams obviously worse than they are and beats the pants off them and isn't that nice but sometimes the quarterback goes down and that's not nice at all. The Bowling Green game was that minus a loss to a 3-9 MAC team the year prior—i.e., a pleasant nothing in which crappy special teams play was just an opportunity to rack up more yards on offense.
A couple years further removed from actual losses to these sorts of teams, or even vaguely competitive games and you can't even offer that paragraph. That game… existed.
Things happened, but the only ones you can derive anything slightly meaningful from are scattered opponent-independent events and those in which the domination was not dominating enough for your sense of optimism. Like the defensive line. You know, the one I tweeted my despondency about in the midst of giving up six points. Denard, who made everyone a little leery when he missed on any pass. Yeah, Michigan won by 50 but the only things that meant anything were a tiny bit bad because they implied you might be unhappy at a future date.
This is what happens when you play a UMass and you're still jumpy from the bad old days. Let's always be bored and have little to say, forever and ever, amen.
The Observer/MGoBlog cooperative had not one but two(!) guys on the sideline on Saturday. Regular man Eric Upchurch:
And new guy Bryan Fuller:
A bonus NOTE for anyone out there blogging: the MGoBlog flickr page now has tags and everything, so if you're looking for a Creative-Commons-licensed photo of player X, that's the place to find it. Just hit us with a link if you use one.
This is all offense:
There's a shorter but more diverse MGoBlue version.
Bullets That Didn't Slip On Quite Enough Gore
Brady Hoke not-that-epic double point of the week. Well… nearly 400 yards of total offense and another dump truck of articles wondering if this is something that will hold up in the big bad(?) Big Ten means it's Denard again, doesn't it?
Honorable mention: Fitzgerald Toussaint, Will Hagerup, Frank Clark, probably some OL.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS:
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon (retroactively awarded for Alabama game)
Chasing Jim Mandich. Devin Funchess adds 34 yards and now needs 1355 to pass Jim Mandich. At his current pace he needs 29 games to do so.
The irrational worry that you all have too. Defensive tackles are killing us. Or will be killing us, at least. Possibly. QUALIFIERS. You get the idea.
Roh makes some plays here and there and will fill a hole, force a bounce, etc. Clark is making some plays, yes against not great competition, but that's something to hang a hat on maybe. The DTs? Yeesh.
It didn't help that Michigan ran a pass-defense crew out there with Roh and Black your two DTs with Clark/Ojemudia and SLB du jour at DE. That was their nickel setup and when Michigan ran it on standard downs the line let guys through. Usually for three or four or five yards, but we're talking about a team that has issues gaining one on most downs. Washington and Campbell weren't in much, were never in together, and Pipkins didn't make an appearance until garbage time. Ash was totally absent.
What do you make of that? Just practicing for what seems a very pass-reliant Notre Dame attack? Willfully giving up some rushing yardage just to get the linebackers reacting to QB draws and runs and whatnot? Or doom?
You can make a case for the former. Michigan started screwing around with their kickoffs to see if they could come up with anything better than Wile belting it eight yards into the endzone (verdict: no), and was probably just working on things they wanted to work on once the score got out of hand.
It gives me the willies, though. Especially Pipkins being exiled to the bench for so long. That implies he's further from the field than everyone wants him to be. Or that diabolical Hoke machinations are waiting for the ND game to spring the Great and Powerful Pipkins on unsuspecting Irish. That's the ticket.
Clark, at least. I know we've gotten just one and a half games from both Clark [@ right by Upchurch] and Beyer. Clark has had the full game versus UMass, Beyer the full game versus Alabama. This is not a strong basis for comparison.
Just eyeballing it, though, gives a clear edge to Clark. He is Making Plays™. Beyer didn't seem to be. Clark was by far the superior option against Air Force and was the most active DL on Saturday. He's making spectacular bat-downs of opponent passes something of a trademark. I like trademarks that aren't "I don't do anything much."
He and Ryan will have to get a ton of pass rush to keep heat off Michigan's secondary. Michigan really, really needs him to be a playmaker. He's the only guy who is consistently getting into the backfield even against the UMasses of the world.
FWIW, it looked like Ojemudia was doing a bunch of freshman things when he got in there. He'd overrun a play with a bad angle and let Cox cut back, giving up a big chunk, or he'd miss a tackle, etc. He's Clark last year.
Funchess. The touchdown was just Funchess being wide open and could have been scored by anyone on the roster, including guys out for the year with injuries. That third-down conversion was maybe something to hold on to despite it being Funchess's first catch of under 21 yards. [@ right by Fuller]
On that play Denard moved around a bit and fired a hard, low ball at the sticks. That was either a crappy throw or a great pass to keep it away from defenders; either way it was a tough, tough ball to dig out, especially when you're 6'5". Funchess had no problem. Give him hands to go with that frame and he doesn't have to add much weight—if any—to be a crippling matchup. If you've got a two-TE set out there the defense is either going nickel and giving Funchess someone he won't have much issue blocking or conceding the LB matchup that is never going to go well.
The wide receiver corps in general: hurray? Other than some of the guys being little buggers who are easy to overthrow, I think Denard's targets are way less of a concern than we thought they'd be at the beginning of the season. Funchess is a big part of that. Also coming through: Devin Gardner, who is looking downright comfortable three weeks in, and Drew Dileo, who may not be much to look at—he gets called the "white receiver" by his teammates, except he doesn't—but will snag that bullet you put too far in front of or behind him no problem.
Dileo's big reception was reminiscent of the key late crossing route he snagged against Ohio State, and twice this year he's kept his feet after tough catches for big hunks of YAC. He's a nice option to have.
Strength of competition disclaimers apply, but would you swap Michigan's WR/TEs for Notre Dame's? Maybe, but it's debatable. The Irish are running out versions of Jeremy Jackson (John Goodman) and Drew Dileo (the Toma kid), and Michigan's running out a guy who hopes to be Tyler Eifert (but fast!). How about Michigan State's receivers? No way. Ohio State's? Ask again later. I'll take that for a group that was supposed to be a weak point of the team.
One downer event here was Jerald Robinson not catching a 40-some yard TD pass that was in his hands. Before that he complicated matters by doing a 360 with the ball in the air—never good. If he'd just located the thing properly he could have used his body to separate from the DB and possibly have prevented the rake-out that occurred.
Oh, wait, right, the other thing.
Also a downer. The pick-six. Here's an endzone view:
That's a bad throw to a guy who was kind of open, but Jeremy Jackson being slow contributed a lot, too. He makes that post cut threat. The safety hardly reacts, then he jumps the out when Jackson rounds it off to the outside. That INT reminded me of Countess jumping a Jackson route in the spring game. Without any fear of being beat deep, that was easy pickings. Here you've got a UMass corner in straight man to man against a guy who threatens to go up the middle of the field by himself and still no separation.
I noticed something similar in the Air Force game when a heavily-pressured Denard fired one out to Jackson on third and long. Jackson had a shot to make the catch and could not, but wouldn't have gotten the first down anyway. Dileo was running the same route on the opposite side of the screen and had enough separation for some nice YAC. The smaller guys are harder to hit but they get away from opponents a lot more easily.
(Yeah, Denard has a couple other guys open here. He's also got an unblocked guy in his face and a player in man to man who should be able to get separation. It's not the decision but a combination of the throw and the route that are problems. I'm guessing Denard is repeating what Borges says here:
"It was a good read, just a bad throw," Robinson said.
The bu—LAZER screen. Michigan threw a couple of them. They gained nice yardage, because they always do. Borges has renamed it the LAZER(!) screen—the Z, I feel, is implied—and will hopefully swallow his pride long enough to test it out against Notre Dame. The Irish got smoked on all manner of WR screens against Purdue and it was only Zeke Motta making a great play that held down MSU's attempt.
MSU does not have a Gallon, and with Slaughter out Motta is either going to be in center field or Notre Dame will be rolling with a redshirt freshman who played WR last year as the last line of defense. Here's hoping the new nomenclature allows Borges to go after ND's inexperienced CBs and their tackling early and often.
TURNOVERS! Ain't got none. Problem? Eh. Most of Michigan's first two games were spent defending all of the runs, and the third did not feature many defensive plays at all. Opponents have fumbled seven times, but Michigan's only recovered two. One was Hagerup beaning the returner in the head, the other the meaningless one at the end of the half. Michigan has recovered two of seven fumbles on D and both of their offensive fumbles. So, like … about half.
Oh, that's too small of a sample size, you say? I hate you so much.
The real turnover concern. If Michigan can't get pressure on the QB, they will suffer a decline in fumbles and ill-advised passes generated, and without Mike Martin and RVB that seems a virtual certainty unless Clark busts out enormously. Save us, Mattison zone blitz machine.
Cooper Barton. …probably shouldn't have gotten a bigger cheer than Ron Kramer. Priorities, people. Now we're just waiting for him to release a song on Youtube ("Michigannnn, Michigannnnn, gotta get down on Michigannnnnnnn") they'll play every game.
But he is cute!
Seriously. That is a cute five year old. Someone cast him as a gnome in something. Preferably something in which gnomes make no sense, like the next Fast and the Furious movie.
But at least there's a hole. Second straight week we were mercifully without "In The Big House." I'd crumble to my knees in thankfulness if there wasn't a small child in front of me who would kick me in the face as a result.
Heiko? This is not professional. BUT IT IS AWESOME
(This is not actually Heiko. Obviously.)
Kramer jersey. Giving it to Moore [@ right by Fuller] clears up a lot of things: they're just going to hand them out to people, they're not going to make sure they're stars, and anyone can get them. I'm not even sure they'll make sure they're around every year now, but I'd guess once the jersey is vacated someone will hop on it. I'd bet Butt or Hill is wearing #87 next year.
I do wish those patches were a little less busy. Last name, years present, those things better, no border. /boom runway'd.
There are other players. Michigan's still struggling to make their video boards not useless hunks of metal that annoy you with any advertisements they think they can get away with. To date this has been a struggle, but they took a big step forward last week by telling the goof running the replays to zoom out so you could see more than the texture of the ball. I have no idea when they made this change because I didn't even bother to look at the replay board until the second half, so well have they trained me to believe that there is nothing of use on it.
There is no middle ground between nothing and everything. Spartan Stadium put their meat on the table with scoreboards BIGGER and MORE POWERFUL than Michigan Stadium's. Reviews:
You Know What Would Look Really Sweet On The Scoreboards??
Some f---ing statistics. 5,412 square feet of scoreboard and you can't put any kind of statistics up at any point??? I literally never saw any stats at all the entire night. Hell, with our anemic offense, you only would have needed about 10 square feet for our stats. I'm glad to see that Huntington, Pepsi, GMC, Fly Lansing, and every other f---ing company in this damn state is sponsoring us, but I feel like it wouldn't be too much to ask to set aside some room on the ribbon to put stats up. There were points that the sponsor area on the scoreboard just had the MSU logo or some little design. I don't know why you can't put some stats up at that point. …
That just really annoyed me and I'm just in a bad mood. Might already be a thread on this. Didn't look. Don't care.
The only thing preventing Dave Brandon from doing this is the threat of outright revolt in the fanbase. That's something he's directly stated multiple times in the pass. He's already fitting advertising in anywhere he can. The poles outside the sections went from vaguely-plausible-here-is-our-Stubhub-partnership ads to flat-out Consumer's Power, Whichever Bank is the Sponsor Now things.
It's a slippery slope and any relaxation in the posture will result in the kind of stuff described in the blockquoute above. Remain strong, my people.
Hype videos. They're missing something this year. I really liked the last couple years with the people saying the things; now there are no people saying the things. Probably too late this year, but for 2013 how about something based around the famous Yost quote the HSR deploys on its sidebar?
"But do let me reiterate the spirit of Michigan. It is based upon a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways; an enthusiasm that makes it second nature for Michigan men to spread the gospel of their university to the world's distant outposts; a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours."
--Fielding H. Yost upon his retirement as Michigan's athletic director in 1942.
Maybe you need to tighten it up a little, sure.
Throw that in the mix with last year's "Team, Championships, Heismans" thing and Bo's The Team The Team The Team speech and you've got a nice rotation.
Inside the Boxscore resolves a mystery anyone watching at home experienced:
During one random play in the game, two M defenders ended up hitting the UMass ballcarrier at the same time, from opposite sides. The B1G Network announcer called this a “Malachi Crunch.” There’s nothing like B1G announcers breaking out a 36 year old reference to describe a play. For those still in college reading this diary, the “Malachi Crunch” refers to a demolition derby move employed by the Malachi brothers against Pinky Tuscadero, as shown in a three-part 1976 episode of Happy Days. Fonzi risked his life to rescue Pinky. Then, he baited the Malachi Brothers into trying the move on him. He moved his car at the last moment, causing the Brothers to Crunch themselves. I think providing you with this bit of worthless trivia is entirely consistent with my avatar.
Hawthorne(!) was our leading tackler.
Will Hagerup - This guy is back and better than ever. I must have re-watched the 70-yard-in-the-air blast off the facemask of befuddled UMass return man 7 times minimum. Punts like that could be game-changers going forward.
Robinson threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns Saturday during No. 17 Michigan's 63-10 win over Massachusetts, passing both Brady and Harbaugh on the school's all-time list to move into fifth place overall.
In addition, he's now just 91 total yards shy of passing Henne and becoming Michigan's all-time leader in career total offense.
"To be honest with you," Robinson said after the game. "The only thing I think about is winning, and coming out and being accountable for my team.
Robinson has now thrown for 5,630 yards in his four-year career, and is 208 shy of Todd Collins for fourth all-time. He's also racked up 9,210 total yards with both his feet and his arm, just 91 shy of Henne's all-time mark.
The Daily on Cooper's day out. Vincent Goodwill at the news has a novel take on things: Denard is too important. Meinke is like "how does Michigan use Denard less" and I'm like "isn't it clear that's never happening by now?"
The Daily on the band.
Blog stuff and stuff. Hinton finds an excellent picture of a terrified umpire:
I have no idea where this comes from
Hinton's survey of the CFB landscape is heavy on the Big Ten. We're not good!
Outside of Northwestern's 3-0 run in the Smartypants Series, Big Ten teams are 1-8 against their peer group, before accounting for other marks of shame like Minnesota's overtime escape from UNLV, Wisconsin's ongoing struggles with the likes of Northern Iowa and Utah State (see below) and Penn State's loss to Ohio U. of Ohio. Even the apparent bellwether, Ohio State – setting aside the fact that the apparent bellwether is coming off a 6-7 record in 2011 and is ineligible for the conference championship under a first-year coach –legitimately struggled Saturday to put away Cal at home. That still stands along with Michigan State's win over Boise State as the most valuable non-conference skins on Jim Delany's wall, and unless Michigan delivers another dagger to Notre Dame's fragile psyche next week in South Bend, it will have to hold up until the bowl season. Who's looking forward to that?
The prize for winning the conference now appears to be an execution at the hands of Oregon, USC, or Stanford in Pasadena.
MVictors is calling Brandon "#1000SSS" for some reason:
Old 98?: Speaking of Legends and #1000SSS…while Tom Harmon is listed on the game tickets to be honored October 20th before the Michigan State game there has been no announcement of any formal plan to honor the 1940 Heisman Trophy winner. My understanding is that it’s not dead yet and U-M is still trying to talk to the family. Stay tuned.
My ask: if we don’t honor Harmon, how about honoring Willis Ward on that day, the 78th anniversary of the fateful Georgia Tech game?
Oh by the way, f*** you guys. UMass running back Michael Cox, who played for Michigan from 2008-2011, had a pretty solid game for the Minutemen. He ended with 18 carries for 76 yards (4.2 yards per carry) behind a bad offensive line with not much of an aerial attack. There were a couple plays where he ran east-and-west when there was no hole, losing a chunk of yards. But he had some impressive runs against a Michigan defense that should have been able to clamp down on the running game. I never really thought Cox was a superstar, but I did think that he deserved a shot to play when the aforementioned Smith was being used as a feature back. The knocks on him were always fumbling (he never fumbled at Michigan, though there was a botched exchange in this game), learning the playbook (I didn't see any missed assignments in this game), and running east-west too much (perhaps a fair criticism).
Everyone knew that was coming. I don't necessarily disagree, but the guy just reverses field all the time, and this has to drive coaches nuts.
Photos from Maize and Blue Nation. Here's Cox saying hi postgame:
UMGoBlue also has a gallery.
Ordinary is underrated. Seriously. Christianity calls any of its non holiday seasons "Ordinary Time" after all. But, if we have learned nothing else from our social media revolution, it's that there is a certain beauty and joy in the every day, in the expected, in the run of the mill. That is, as Ann Howard Creel put it, the Magic of Ordinary Days.
Complaining about the lack of bubble screens in Michigan's offense has become a hobby-horse here. Some people find this weird. I admit that a focus on one particular play, no matter what it is, is often missing the forest for a tree, and my focus on a play that picks up eight yards if run well is a little maniacal. But I see a lot of things not work and think 1) the bubble is open and 2) that might have worked if the bubble wasn't open.
While the bubble seems like an option you can take or leave, it's actually a key way to make every player on the offense an effective blocker every play. When Magee goes to his cutups in those videos about the spread 'n' shred philosophy, the guy asking most of the questions* wants to see bubbles first.
*[who I think is Harvard's coach since he talks about playing Columbia and a pizza place on "Comm Ave" that Google reveals is in Boston.]
The bubble is a constraint that opens up other things and forces the defense into positions it would rather not take. Michigan saw this first hand, as a series of first half bubbles forced Jake Ryan into the slot against Northwestern. Even that wasn't enough to hold down the single bubble the Wildcats ran in the second half before fumbles and interceptions and Michigan scoring on every drive terminated Northwestern's ability to use them.
It's not just a play. It's part of a coherent whole. Spreading the field stresses the defense only if you make the D cover everyone horizontally. Smart Football explained a long Oregon touchdown in the recent Stanford game and I was struck by the difference between the way Stanford defends this play…
…and the way Illinois defended a similarly unbalanced formation from Michigan:
That is a similar setup with one extra guy in the backfield. The highlighted defender to the top of the screen is the equivalent of #3 at the top of the Stanford defense (not the guy on the line)… unless the highlighted guy at the bottom—the corner—is. Someone on this defense is not respecting the threat of Junior Hemingway.
Michigan will run the play I've been calling "inverted veer", which is probably not the best terminology since various people say people call it "dash" and since it features a guy pulling to the frontside of the play it's not really a "veer"—if you care about these things. It's too late for me since I've got a tag, but you can still save yourself.
Anyway, on the snap, before the mesh point, it is clear that both highlighted defenders are going to get involved in the run defense.
Where is the equivalent guy in the Stanford play?
His feet are the ones bugging out for the bubble at the top of the screen. This effectively blocks a defender without having to engage that receiver's potentially crap blocking skills.
Junior Hemingway's existence, in contrast, is pointlessly lonely:
There isn't anyone within five yards of him by the time the mesh point passes. Even before the mesh it's clear the bubble is going to be open, if it was being run.
Anyway, at the mesh point the containing DE is containing so Denard pulls.
This options off a DE; the slot guy is being taken by Hopkins; the playside LB will get kicked by the pulling Omameh. There is no one for the corner, and this has turned into a run up the middle.
This is pretty much dead at this point. Michigan's got some problems on the line, too: you can see that the Lewan/Schofield combo block hasn't even sealed the playside DT, let alone the WLB… but that's just another reason the play isn't going to work since Denard is tackled in the backfield by that backside CB:
Pile of bodies, no gain, third down.
Items of Interest
This isn't to say I think Borges did a bad job in this game. I did get a little frustrated by the forays into the I that were spectacularly unsuccessful—before the Toussaint runs in garbage time Michigan had run seven times out of the I for –1 yards—and the lack of responses to the increasingly aggressive Illinois defense. HOWEVA, in context the move was to go conservative and get out of Dodge; before that was the move he tore up a good defense and was thwarted largely by things out of his control.
There are multiple issues with this play and I'm not suggesting the bubble is a panacea. I am saying it is going to work for tons of yards here, but it's not the only reason this play gets thumped.
The threat of the bubble effectively options off another defender. This means more space for people who are good in space, one more opportunity to blow something for the defense, and mitigates the following.
Receivers' blocking eh… not so good. On the play where Denard fumbled he actually had a good setup for the pull: the backside DE has shuffled down the line and Koger went around him to the edge.
Unfortunately, Junior Hemingway's consistently crap blocking reared its head on this play and the slot LB—who is actually covering the WR on this play—created problems.
Denard has to cut back. If Michigan's running a bubble this guy is either outside of the hash or Denard's throwing it to Hemingway or the Illinois defense is getting super aggressive and opening itself up to a Worst Waldo play. Since he's just a wide receiver who can't block Denard loses an opportunity to burst into a ton of space.
Lack of bubbles = lack of big plays (that aren't chuck and hope)? If you're looking for a culprit when it comes to the lack of long plays that are very open, the lack of the humble bubble screen is a candidate. When you spread the field and make the defense defend all eleven players on every play, a single breakdown means big yards. If you're covering every WR man to man and trying to leave two deep safeties, this is the result:
Michigan has put a lot less stress on safeties this year because they run a bunch of plays from a formation in which opponent safeties think "if they run it will be for half a yard" and when they're in the shotgun they aren't really in the spread, if you catch my drift. By not attacking the outside consistently Michigan lets opponents defend them with two deep.
In the inverted veer above the guy on Hemingway starts 13 yards off the LOS, which means the free safety can come down on the run without worrying about an Oh Noes.
Also bubbles work, yo. I mean, sure, opponents freaked out about them in the RR era since they were a foundational component of the offense but when they were run they worked, and when opponents run them against Michigan (or State vs Iowa) they pick up chunks. When you can get a chunk on first down you have a low-pressure environment to probe with your run game.
This is clearly a philosophical thing that is permanent. I'll drop it now, and this is not a criticism of Al Borges's overall philosophy—we have no idea what that's going to be like. It's clear, however, that the vast bulk of teams who use the quarterback as a runner believe the bubble is an integral part of the effectiveness of the offense. Michigan doesn't, and unless Borges can explain that in a way better than "don't ask me about it" its absence will rankle.
11/12/2011 – Michigan 31, Illinois 14 – 8-2, 4-2 Big Ten
In a distant place a long time ago they played a football game in a dark and remote land. The opposing team's coach was a confused person who thought he had a pretty good team. Michigan scored a couple touchdowns but couldn't put the game away; at some point during the second half the confused coach's confused offense finally put together a touchdown drive to narrow the game, and I felt… irritated. Annoyed. Peeved.
This was a strange feeling to have about a suddenly close football game Michigan should have put away already, because every damn game Michigan lost against teams not named Ohio State could be described as "a suddenly close football game Michigan should have put away already." Despite this I was not casting about for pearls to clutch or pre-perforating my garments for easy rending when the time came. I was worried about the stats. This was odd.
Then: near interception, four-yard out, incomplete, incomplete, ballgame. Instead of a roar there was but a flat, damp squeak as Michigan landed the final clubbing blows and emerged from the lion's den with a rug in tow. There are no arguments about this game. No two seconds, no questionable heels or holding calls or other fantasies about if this or that. There is no "if". Michigan has still not been threatened this year. No opponent has moved the ball except when fortunate or permitted to. Its dominance is unquestioned by the foes it leaves battered in its wake. Sometimes -- and I know this is hard to believe -- seven points is a very large lead indeed.
Yeah, that game.
Of all the magical things that Greg Mattison has done since arriving in Ann Arbor for a second tour of duty, making me think about the 2006 Michigan defense a year after… that is hard to top.
2006 happened a century ago. I looked it up. The top songs were "I Want A Girl (Just Like The Girl Who Married Dear Old Dad)" and "Down By The Old Mill Stream." Long-distance communication was conducted by banging rocks together and hoping to startle a pigeon in a way that communicated "happy birthday" instead of "everyone is dead of typhoid again lol." Football games were played between competing sawmills and textile factories; a strict limit of two cattle per offensive line was still controversial. People in Alabama were accused of over-bovining. Craggy men who remembered the invention of writing like Joe Paterno, Jim Tressel, and Lloyd Carr roamed the sidelines. People did not reflexively talk about real good times.
2006 was a long time ago. The ten-volume history of the intervening century is a narrative of relentless, soul-crushing decline on defense.
This summer the UM Club of Greater Detroit invited me to their kickoff dinner. There I sat on a roundtable with Greg Dooley of MVictors and Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News as various guys with nametags peppered us with questions.
These things always have a pattern: I start out nervous because I'm just this guy, really, and there's a chance someone asks "why should we listen to you?" Since my response is necessarily "I have this blog… it's on the internet!" it's not a question I look forward to. These concerns are a little more pressing when the room is full of people who look like they still get newspapers home-delivered.
But the questions remain hypothetical because I start talking about these things and it turns out that doing what I do on a weekly basis fills your head with esoteric knowledge about all things. Denard Robinson was 84th of 100 qualifying quarterbacks last year in interception percentage. That sort of thing is just in my head, ready to be dispensed. After my head pops open and I start depositing THE KNOWLEDGE like the world's least appetizing Pez dispenser, there is a groove of confidence.
I mention it because there was one question from an elderly gentleman with a pleading edge I still remember. It was about the defense and why anyone would think it would get better. I was already on the record that this was an eight or nine win team; Dooley and Chengelis were pessimists. They cocked their heads and passed the mic.
I said that if you had only watched every play from the last three years over and over you would know. You would not know but feel the mass incoherence, the week-to-week changes, the insane personnel decisions (Demens, Roh as a LB, moving Woolfolk to corner in 2009, Cam Gordon as FS). That if you felt this thing having a guy the Ravens had coordinating their defense could only result in instant, massive improvement. At the very least they would have a plan*.
Though I believed it, as I was saying it it seemed like a reckless thing to tell people. If…that, or anything like it, happens again people will remember someone told them it was going to be all right, and then it wasn't. I hoped I wasn't telling them about the rabbits.
This was the point last year where everyone wrote off JT Floyd. It was the logical thing to do.
Twelve months later Floyd is holding AJ Jenkins to five yards a target and jumping a short route for a shoulda-been pick six for the first time since… God. A century ago. Time is working funny again. Greg Mattison has a phonebooth time machine he sent the secondary back to Charles Woodson's childhood in; they have emerged with ZZ Top beards, children, and skills.
This is a foundation for the future. Wrapping this motley crew of walk-ons, freshmen, people who were totally incompetent last year, Mike Martin, and Ryan Van Bergen into a top 20 defense is a QED achievement no matter the quality of the opposition. The level of coaching required to go from that to this is a constant Michigan can build its program on.
Last year the quality of the opposition didn't matter. Matt McGloin had the above to throw at, and he did. This year Michigan has been average at worst after Mattison figured out he didn't have Ed Reed. Some days they stroll off the field and if you squint you can just convince yourself the last century never happened. You can envision a future where Michigan isn't wondering about its place in the world.
*[Then I told everybody that Denard Robinson's turnover rate would drop like a stone. One out of two isn't bad. ]
There's also the Illinois POV. In their world Illinois wins 14-0 in a thrilling game lasting exactly 1:30. Parkinggod highlights miss the first drive thanks to ESPN sticking with the PSU press conference, but prove that Michigan's everything-is-wonderful POV still goes ten minutes.
Meanwhile, Desmond Morgan is fabulous.
Borgeswatch. 95% thumbs up. As it transpired I was frustrated with the lack of play-action after Illinois started selling out on the run game, but I forgot about the wind. I much prefer that to being reminded about it every 40 seconds like we were against Michigan State. I wonder if Scheehaase's propensity to wing it wide on Jenkins out cuts was due to the wind. While he's not the most accurate guy in the world he seemed particularly off Saturday.
It may have taken two harsh wakeup calls but at least Borges got the message. Run/pass breakdowns in the three windtastic road games against teams with secondaries:
- MSU: 39 passes, 28 runs
- Iowa: 21 passes, 28 runs*
- Illinois: 16 passes, 47 runs
The Gardner package also went away after its momentum-killing outing last week.
A large chunk of getting that play distribution was getting the running game to work. I don't know all of how or why that happened yet, but giving Toussaint the ball 27 times instead of two is part of it; using enough outside runs to get creases on the inside zone is part of it; making Denard a threat is part of it.
While Denard only managed 3.5 YPC on his 11 attempts it's hard to imagine what turned the #15 rush defense** into Swiss cheese if it wasn't Illinois paying too much attention to 16. This was clear on the first drive of the game. Watch the free safety who would be tackling Toussaint after ten yards but for one Denard Robinson:
By the time that dude realizes Denard does not have the ball Toussaint is gone. A similar screwup does not happen if Michigan is operating from under center.
Since I'm usually at games I'm not often able to participate in the internet zeitgeist to the extent I was the past couple weeks. Last week I was in line with everyone being real mad. This week I was surprised by the amount of heat Borges was taking for stuff that wasn't his fault at all. When Denard fumbles and Michigan misses a field goal or Huyge gets destroyed by Mercilus and Denard doesn't see the guy coming right at him, that's not on the OC. The reasons Michigan didn't score touchdowns in this game seemed to be out of Borges's hands.
*[Not counting the final three drives. I did move the two sacks, the fumble, and one Gardner scramble. I made similar adjustment to the other two games; they may be off by one or two but you get the idea.]
**[15-ish. Illinois's sacks distort that. Still a very good unit.]
Fourth and one. The 5% thumbs down, very down, was the fourth and one from the Illinois one yard line. If you're not willing to throw it when you spread them out and they don't spread out…
…I don't think you can do the wacky thing. Those guys to the top of the screen are late arriving and have no idea what they're doing. If you're going to swinging-gate them like this you've got to be able to take advantage of what they give you.
That fourth and one continues a couple trends: speed option and Borges getting cute. I wouldn't have minded it if they had lined up in one of those massive Tebow sets and tried something like this, but going without so much as a tight end in this spot is asking for trouble. The snap didn't help but I don't think it mattered much.
The immediate aftermath. Hoke calmly pointed his defense onto the field:
You are experiencing an unusually calm sensation. Which reminds me:
EPIC HOKE DOUBLE POINT OF THE WEEK. I'm terribly sorry that I inaugurated this thing and then immediately forgot about it. It returns this week because of one man being so ridiculous I thought I should have some sort of special award… oh wait I do.
Your Illinois winner: JT Floyd. AJ Jenkins may have gotten his requisite eight catches for 100 yards but Scheelhaase had to work for it. At one point they showed some Jenkins stats and noted that he had five catches… and fourteen targets. According to Adam Jacobi he ended with eight on 20. That's 5 YPA throwing to a guy who may be the best WR in the Big Ten.
Even that undersells Floyd's day. The deep ball that took Jenkins's stats from mediocre to decent was zone coverage in the middle of the field Floyd was not directly responsible for (and it came after Scheelhaase was given all day). When involved Floyd was all over double moves and jumped a third and short pass for the interception that sealed the game with a little help from Gardner and Odoms.
Even Magnus thought he was "okay for once." WHAT MORE CAN ONE MAN DO?
Honorable mentions go to Al Borges (for his gameplan and getting in on the pointing his ownself), David Molk, and Fitzgerald Toussaint.
RETROACTIVE EPIC HOKE DOUBLE POINTS.
- Michigan State: Ryan Van Bergen, for being the only person to have a good day. HM: None.
- Purdue: Fitzgerald Toussaint, for making the tailback spot a plus for the first time in forever. HM: Mike Martin.
- Iowa: Mike Martin, for being GET IN THE CAR Mike Martin. HM: David Molk.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.
2: Denard Robinson (Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan), Brady Hoke (San Diego State, Northwestern)
1: Jordan Kovacs (Western Michigan), David Molk (Minnesota), Ryan Van Bergen (MSU), Fitzgerald Toussaint (Purdue), Mike Martin (Iowa), JT Floyd(Illinois).
Weekly bubble bitchin'. Only Ron Zook could send his team out with two deep safeties and three guys tight over WRs against a team that hasn't run a bubble all year:
That's nuts. That's one reason you have that play in the playbook. If they take it away by alignment they've opened something else up. Usually not by putting five guys in the box—that's a Zook special.
What I really meant by posting "We Are ND" after Hoke hiring. I meant that we'd ride a soft schedule to an iffy BCS berth and get our faces crushed. If Michigan wins out—obviously a big if—that could happen. A 10-2 Michigan team will be second in the Big Ten pecking order since everyone other than the champ will have three losses.
Michigan will then be in competition with…
- Boise/Houston. Houston's 11th in the BCS standings and will get an autobid if they remain in the top 12. Boise's actually a spot in front of the Cougars still. One or the other will get a bid. All they have to do is finish in the top 16 since the Big East winner is going to be below them.
- Alabama/LSU/Arkansas. The SEC will get a second bid.
- Stanford/Oregon. If those two win out Stanford will probably get a bid.
- ACC runner-up: a two-loss Clemson or Virginia Tech.
- Oklahoma or Oklahoma State.
Michigan's a lock to beat out a team coming off an ACC championship loss, but one-loss versions of Stanford or Oklahoma State would be tough—Jerry Palm has an all-at-large matchup of those two teams right now. If OU loses Bedlam that would also be tight.
Not making it would be just as well. I'd be happy playing Georgia in one of the infinite Big Ten/SEC matchups. I like nine wins and I cannot lie.
Special teams: actually a positive. FEI's not the only advanced stat rankings system purveyed by Football Outsiders; there's also one called F+. Last week F+ integrated special teams data for the first time; Michigan dropped from 17th to 25th. The special teams… eh… not so good.
This week they were. Matt Wile put five kickoffs in the endzone, Jeremy Gallon averaged 15 yards on four actual punt returns, and the missed field goal was off by about a foot. The only downer is Will Hagerup's persistent mediocrity. He averaged under 35 yards a kick and Michigan is now 112th in net punting. Even if you exclude all the coffin corner stuff from the MSU game he's averaging just 37.7 yards a kick. Wile was doing significantly better during Hagerup's suspension.
Unfortunately, it's likely Gallon's momentary renaissance and the Wile bombing are effects of the opponent and the wind. Illinois's punting is also in the triple digits.
Derp du jour. Seeing some revival of the "we can't run Denard because he won't last through the season" meme, which… like… guh. He's missed a series last week and the last quarter and a half this week because he banged his hand on a pass-rusher's helmet. Twice. The first time he was back in after a series. The second time he could have come back in if necessary. Cancel the spread offense.
Denard's lasted through the bulk of the Big Ten season and with Nebraska and Ohio State left on the schedule, restricting his carries in case he gets hurt is nuts. What are you saving him for?
BONUS: Devin Gardner did two things and Michigan's offense went from racking up yards (and shooting itself in the foot) to not doing the former (and getting short fields). There is no QB controversy. If Michigan makes a 39 yard field goal and Borges doesn't get too cute on the goal line it's 24-0 at halftime and we aren't having this conversation.
Let's stop talking about this.
A permanent feature. Hoke on his decision to go from the one:
Michigan reached the Illinois 1-yard line in the second quarter and went for it on fourth down. Robinson lost 4 yards on the play.
Hoke was asked if going for it in that situation will be the norm. "Pretty much," he said. "And the defense bailed me out."
Desmond Morgan decleater. Don't hate me but I thought that was a missed cut by the RB, who had a lane outside the block. /ducks
dnak puts the defensive performance in a graph (graph):
Left axis is as a percentage of historical worst—ie, last year. That's right: Michigan's scoring defense is brushing up against '06.
Inside the Box Score on Martin going uber:
Mike Martin lead us with 9 tackles. That’s right, an interior defensive lineman lead us with NINE tackles. I’m going to miss that guy. He also got half a sack and 2 QHs. Roh also had 2 QHs. We were QH’ing Scheelhaase all game long.
That's three straight games he's crushed the opponent. Moving towards what we all thought he'd be this year. Too bad it will be tough to crack the All Big Ten team with Short, Still, and Worthy also tearing up offensive lines.
Hoke for Tomorrow brings yet another reason to laugh at Ron Zook:
Ron Zook is a bad coach, this is known. It is remarkable how bad he is though, when looking at his record after bye weeks. Over the past 4 seasons (2008-2011) Illinois has had 6(!) bye weeks, with two in both 2009 and 2010. Their record following these bye weeks? 0-6:
2008: Lost to Penn St 38-24
2009: Lost to OSU 30-0, Lost to Cincinnati 49-36
2010: Lost to OSU 24-13, Lost to Fresno St 25-23
2011: Lost to Michigan (woot!) 31-14
That is epic fail. Ron Zook should be fired.
Bye weeks aren't actually helpful, but come on.
2010:: Total: 8, Scoring: 25, FEI: 2
2011:: Total: 40, Scoring: 37, FEI: 17
Our youthful inexperience has been replaced by transitional inexperience - so we still are inconsistent and turnover-ridden.
The FEI is most indicative I think - we went from an O with the potential to be great (if we had any kind of ST and D) to one that is just very good. I think after Borges was hired, this is sort of where we expected to be offensively - a step back, but not disastrously.
2010:: Total: 110, Scoring: 107, FEI: 108
2011:: Total: 16, Scoring: 5, FEI: 17
Mattison == Awesome. Last year, I said that I thought our D played worse than the personnel. Nevertheless, even if they were being outcoached by say, twenty teams in FEI, and the extra year of experience is good for another twenty teams - Mattison still improved the baseline by about 50 ranks. The defense is now as good as the offense.
Keep in mind that FEI adjusts for schedule strength so a realistic benchmark for an average BCS offense is not 60th. I just chopped out all the non-BCS teams and an average offense is 48th. That's actually lower than I would have guessed. Unfortunately for Michigan, their lack of success has been highly concentrated.
Unwashed blog masses. Via Adam Jacobi, Junior Hemingway scored an imaginary touchdown:
Ron Zook can probably make this happen.
Illini blog A Lion Eye has a habit of taping himself when things are actually going on. This seems like a bad idea in general and for an Illinois fan in particular, but it is entertaining. A partial transcript:
So there's two twenty-four left. We just got the ball back down… what is it… 31-14? And I… I really have… I'm like "oh, what's my emotion? What am I going to record?"
Uhhhhm… dead inside? That doesn't sound right. But it's kind of a… I don't know. I guess the only way to describe it is—oh, and a sack.
I recommend the whole thing not necessarily for the schadenfreude (of which there is plenty) but because it's reassuring that we're not jaded. You may think you're jaded after the last century, but you have no idea. I mean: "I'm just normal right now."
The HSR decides to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald a lot:
"Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle."
I think we can all agree that yesterday's game was a classic example of "left wanting". Though Michigan had a two score lead, on the road, against a team that considers Michigan its arch-rival*, it still felt like all of the missed red zone opportunities were going to come back to haunt Michigan, because we're taught that when you don't put the boot on the throat, it will cost you. Except, it didn't.
Refs. They obviously made a decision to only call holding if the offensive lineman actually removed the jersey of rusher. And on the play where Avery picked up the ball and scored the touchdown, they made three bad mistakes on a single play. The unholy trinity: 1. It wasn’t a fumble in the first place, that’s somewhat forgivable. 2. If it was a fumble, Avery was clearly on the ground (and thus down) when he picked it up, but they gave him a touchdown. 3. They didn’t adjust the clock after the play was reversed, should have been 19 or 20 seconds left instead of 14.
Hoke even complained about #3 and got nowhere. That is almost inevitably a call the refs give coaches.
My first impression was one of doom and gloom, but, the more I think about it, maybe it's not so bad. Michigan put up 31 against a formidable defense, more than any other Illinois opponent save Northwestern (qualifier: yeah, those are some bad offenses on their schedule, but it's all relative at this point). This is of course not even mentioning the inopportune turnovers and the Illini's general inability to move the ball, additional reasons to not feel so bad about things. Obviously you can't just take turnovers out, but Michigan could have very easily scored in the 40s, on the road, against a pretty good defense.
There was a lot of the doom and gloom on the internets, which I don't get. Michigan failed to put up 24 in the first half on the #6 defense in the country by shooting itself in the foot. While that's frustrating, it is so much worse to have a performance like Iowa where the offense is neither scoring nor moving the ball. Sometimes bad things happen. Michigan outperformed Illinois's yardage average by 80 despite playing in adverse conditions.
BWS is eeee Mattison:
Mattison is installing this defense a lot like Rodriguez or Borges installed their offense. Week by week, Mattison introduces a new formation or coverage scheme to the defense--usually only one. Early in the season, it was a basic stunt move intended to overwhelm one side of the offensive line. Against MSU, he debuted an A-gap zone blitz. Purdue: nickel blitz. Iowa: crowding the line of scrimmage. Michigan's base defense is a 4-3 under, man-coverage look that Mattison can slowly and effectively build upon. While he doesn't go back to the cookie jar in later weeks, the hope (and my expectation) is that when Michigan plays Ohio
State, they'll have an arsenal of blitzing plays that can be deployed in unison, creating a defense that is as unpredictable and consistently effective as the constantly tweaked offense under Rodriguez.
Mainstream media type persons. The Daily's Stephen Nesbitt gets a a slice of life from the field:
As Floyd started crossing the turf toward the tunnel to the visitor’s locker room, he saw Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins approaching him. The receiver-cornerback duo had battled all game long.
Floyd pulled up at the goal line.
“Heck of a game, man,” Floyd told the All-American wideout. “I think you’re a heck of a talent.”
Jenkins, in his orange No. 8 jersey, gave a big smile and tossed the same compliment back at Floyd — Michigan’s No. 8.
“Make sure you go get the rest of the (defensive backs) and give them some trouble the rest of the season,” Floyd said as he stepped away.
Chengelis on the diverse and sundry contributions:
Senior defensive lineman Mike Martin led the team with nine tackles. Linebackers Desmond Morgan and Kenny Demens had eight and seven tackles, respectively, and senior Ryan Van Bergen had 2.5 sacks.
Safety Jordan Kovacs forced a fumble, and Thomas Gordon made the recovery, his fourth of the season, and cornerback J.T. Floyd made a pivotal interception in the fourth quarter on a third-down play at the Michigan 40-yard line. He returned it 43 yards and Michigan converted into a touchdown to make it, 24-7.
That is many contributions. Kovacs's in particular was a MAKE PLAYS moment, putting his head on the ball after Michigan had found its line creased and forcing a turnover. That fumble was forced in a way that some of the previous ones haven't been.
Daily on Mattison's reaction:
“That was a Michigan defense,” Mattison said like a proud father figure, admitting it for the first time all season. “They played as hard as they could, they did whatever they had to do. Without a doubt, that was a Michigan defense.”
The Michigan football team had just won the game on defense, holding Illinois to 30 yards, including minus-14 first-half rushing yards, before ultimately allowing 14 points and just 214 yards of offense en route to a 31-14 victory on the road.
“They’re Michigan Men,” said an emotional Mattison. “We talk about it all the time, that there’s a standard at Michigan and you’ve got to live up to that, and you're judged by it. We haven’t come to that final point where you win the game on defense, and we said, ‘This is your last away trip to do it.’ I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys.”