mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
This week in depressing MGoBlog GChat exchanges:
Ace: that reminds me that I need to pick an MSU game to break down while trying not to curl into the fetal position.
nebraska, I guess?
Brian: purdue might be more our level
oh god i just said that and meant it
Ace: that hit right in the soul dong
and yet, now downloading purdue-msu.
Purdue it is! I hate everything that isn't basketball.
MSU beat the Boilermakers 45-31 in a game that wasn't that close until State tried an ill-advised fourth-quarter fake punt in their own territory, allowing Purdue a short field to pull within a score. Purdue lost after a late pick-six because Purdue. Let's get this over with...
Personnel. MSU trots out a wide variety of personnel due to their depth and versatility on offense. Seth's got the base personnel covered—I'll note here that MSU was quite shotgun-heavy against Purdue [click to embiggen]:
Several receivers will rotate into the game for MSU; while RJ Shelton has taken the starting slot gig from MacGarrett Kings Jr., Kings still sees plenty of action, while Aaron Burbridge is a co-starter with Keith Mumphery at the Z receiver spot.
Meanwhile, two players who get ample playing time didn't even fit into the "key backups" section: fullback Trevon Pendleton, a returning starter, and tight end Jamal Lyles both see the field quite a bit, mostly in blocking roles. State is also able to throw out a lot of different looks with the same personnel group; they went into empty sets for several snaps in this game with RB Jeremy Langford and TE Josiah Price split out wide—Langford even came up with a nice third-down conversion from such a look.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? The concepts and formations are largely pro-style, but there are enough spread elements in this offense—the occasional read option and a lot of fly sweep action, most notably—that I'd call this a hybrid offense.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A pretty solid mix of both. MSU had success running power/counter action against Purdue; they also busted a big gain on a simple inside zone and ran some play-action off a zone stretch look. The variety resembles Michigan last year; the difference... well, you know the difference.
Hurry it up or grind it out? MSU tends to take it at a leisurely pace, but like every other team in the country save Michigan, they're capable of increasing tempo and catching the defense off-guard on something other than a QB sneak situation. YES BREAKING DOWN OPPONENT FILM IS STARTING TO GET TO ME HOW DID YOU EVER KNOW JUST HIT THE JUMP ALREADY.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Nice job picking a QB, Ace. Here's your reward.
While re-watching the M-PSU punt-fest my brother made an interesting comment: "It's amazing what's happened to two of the best quarterbacks in the conference." If you ever again need to point to something to show that the offense means more than the quarterback, this Big Ten season has that in spades. What it doesn't have is an answer to the question: who IS the best QB in the conference?
I have no idea. Of guys I expected big things from, Braxton Miller (injury) and Tre Roberson (transfer) didn't make it out of the preseason, Gardner played his way behind a true sophomore who obviously couldn't play, Hackenberg's been a tackling dummy, and when I got down to Cook my Sparty slappy brother shook his head and declined the nomination.
Lower down, Sudfeld is now out for the season but he wasn't world-beating before. C.J. Brown, true to form, has been keeping pace just behind Gardner; a wrist injury against Indiana has ceded snaps to Caleb Rowe. Nebraska and Iowa aren't getting anything more than mediocre from their 2nd year guys. Trevor Siemian is not a throw deity of any sort. Etling hasn't been good enough for Boiler fans to stop mentioning that Michigan stole Bellomy(!). Wisconsin's QB situation has been awful. Illinois thought they had something when transfer Wes Lunt was picking apart bad defenses, but he broke his leg, which is apparently 4-6 weeks these days.
Everybody's played only a few real opponents, and everybody's been a product of his offense so stats are only a little useful. Last year ESPN's Dean Oliver rolled out his "QBR" metric which is based on Mathlete-like expected points on a 100-level scale; 50 is average. Mouseover the headers for clarification (explanation here):
|PLAYER||Pass EPA||RUN EPA||SACK EPA||PEN EPA||TOTAL EPA||ACT PLAYS||RAW QBR||TOTAL QBR|
I pulled the raw QBR in each game to plot it against Football Outsiders' S&P+ so you can see the individual performances in context. Gardner's games are labeled and Michigan's remaining opponents are shown.
[after the jump: trends, discussion]
About Last Saturday:
UConn (0-2, 0-0 AAC)
Last game: Maryland 32, UConn 21 (L)
Recap: Mighty UConn put up a valiant effort against the cowardly and unwashed Maryland Turtle-People, but were undercut by intrigue, sedition, and the damn refs. According to the propaganda released by the Maryland-controlled Pravda that is the “Associated Press,” Maryland outgained UConn 501-383. While giving credit to the Huskies for 349 yards passing, they claim that they were held to 34 yards rushing on 33 attempts. This is a lie, as with my own eyes I saw UConn break several long and impressive scoring runs to which the scoreboard operator turned a blind eye.
Verily, once the truth is known and justice is permitted to prevail over deceitful treachery, this team is poised for a glorious emergence. Woe be unto the team that must face this juggernaut at this moment in history.
This team is as frightening as: The all-consuming terror mined from the deepest pits of hell; the dredging up of fears long-since dismissed as figments of a scarred past. We had thought the capacity for such nightmares had been smoothed over by time and the advancement of civilization, only to learn that it was simply masked by a thin veneer, waiting to re-emerge. And while the pantries are not yet empty, the hunger pangs remind us all that we are never more than nine meals away from anarchy. Fear level = 10
Michigan should worry about: Pasqualoni to right of them/ Pasqualoni to left of them / Pasqualoni in front of them / Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with run and pass / For last week they played like ass /Into the jaws of Rentschler Field / Into the mouth of Hell / Rode the seventy
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Nessun Dorma.
When they play Michigan: Michigan is about an 18-point favorite.
Next game: vs. #15 Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: So much to fear. And Iowa]
Behold! I have destroyed Heiko and taken hold of the Opponent Watch. My plan is almost complete. For those new to the internet, every week we’ll take a look at the happenings amongst Michigan’s past and upcoming opponents. This week provides us very little evidence, simply because we still have way more variables than equations. What we can glean thus far though is, once again, BIG TENNNNNN. So let’s take a look.
About Last Saturday:
The Road Ahead:
Notre Dame Fig Things (1-0)
Last game: Notre Dame 28, Temple 6 (W)
Recap: I didn’t watch this game, because I only watch the most rival-y of rivals. However, I know we have a bunch of MSU and Purdue readers, so we’ll cover the game anyway. Notre Dame won comfortably over a meh Temple team who finished 4-7 in the Big East last year. Tommy Rees (16/23, 346 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) had a statistically solid game, hitting home run balls to TJ Jones and TE Troy Niklas. Notre Dame fans seem generally unenthusiastic about their linebacking corp through one game, but Notre Dame fans being famously reasonable people, I’m sure they’ll give their defense time to develop. From what I saw, their defensive line remains gigantic and immovable. And I might be the only one, but I love seeing a perfectly-round 340-pound defensive tackle wearing the number one. He looks like a walking power symbol.
Brian and company will preview this game in detail. For now, Rudy was offside.
This team is as frightening as: Tommy Rees. They might completely implode into a pile of ruined expectations. They might become Joe Montana for an evening. They might knee a cop in the stomach. You just don’t know. Fear level = 7.5
Michigan should worry about: Tommy Rees. No, for srs. He’s senior with a bunch of starts, and who has had a decent amount of success against Michigan. He’s the only college quarterback with experience under the lights at Michigan Stadium. He threw for 315 yards in 2011. He threw for 346 yards last week.
Michigan can sleep soundly about:
When they play Michigan: ALL OF THE LIGHTS
Next game: vs. #17 Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: You will feel much better about Michigan’s prospects this season for reasons that have nothing to do with Michigan]