i thought this was america
9/22/2012 – Michigan 6, Notre Dame 13 – 2-2
Lloyd Carr coached every game like he had a fantastic running game and great defense. He usually had an okay running game and a good defense, so this caught up to him from time to time. When Jim Tressel arrived and showed the men of manball what manball really was, Michigan's downward spiral began. In time, Tresselball would come to signify the exact same thing Lloydball did except without the oh and we lose the most important game of the year every time.
I grew to hate Lloydball.
The moment I threw in the towel is crystal clear in my memory, and by this point probably many longtime readers: punting from the opponent 34 against Ohio State in 2005. It was fourth and four. The clock read 4:18. Michigan had a two point lead. They'd recently had a nine point lead, but OSU ripped off a five-play touchdown drive in under a minute to change that. Michigan's defense had faced four do-or-die drives* already that year and failed on all of them. Faced with third and eleven, Michigan threw a screen to Antonio Bass for seven yards. They punted out of a field goal formation, which was so obvious to Tressel that they put a guy back there to field it. He would have had a shot at a touchdown if the punt hadn't exited the field at the twelve.
Just minutes before—literally in the same quarter—Lloyd had taken his frenzied quarterback's advice and gone for a QB sneak on fourth and one on his own 40. This caused everyone in the stadium to pick a partner with whom to share an incredulous look. This was not the way things went. The fourth down was successful; one bomb to Manningham later Michigan had staked itself to a two-score lead. That only made the knife cut deeper when in the moment of truth Carr reverted to form.
Michigan punted once Saturday.
I'm not sure if it's football in general that has shifted or if it's just Brady Hoke, but when Michigan had a fourth and two around the same area on Saturday, eyebrows were only slightly cocked when Michigan went for it. While Michigan was down 10-0, this was still the third quarter.
Lloyd wouldn't have even thought about it if his defense had given up 139 yards to that point. But he wouldn't have been down 10-0 in the first place. He would have squinted at his quarterback, wondered where the six-six artillery piece had gotten to, shrugged, and told his offensive coordinator to thud out a ten-point win based on Michigan's superior ground game. Only he would have had that faith, because he always had that faith.
But it was true. Take out a knee and ND averaged 3.2 yards a carry. Take out three sacks and a bad snap for Michigan and they averaged 5.1. That's a cavernous gap, one that a dinosaur coach would have driven through to a boring, field-goal-heavy victory.
Instead, we got several more entries in our database of what happens when Denard Robinson gets unblocked rushers in his face.
Is it good? No. Does it make any sense at all to run play action from under center on passing downs? No. Is it ever going to stop? No.
Well, maybe. Michigan did not throw a pass before third down on their two grinding second-half drives before the hurry-up was called for. Do that for the next eight games and run play action off plays you actually run and then Denard might get back to the things he was doing in an offense that was not trying to jam him into a hole he clearly does not fit. I thought maybe we'd learned that lesson after Iowa, but apparently not.
When stressed, people making decisions find it very hard to move away from habit. Everyone reverts to their comfort zone unless they are making a concerted effort to get away from it. Even then, you fall back into old patterns. Lloyd punted. Rodriguez installed a 3-3-5 defense. Borges starts calling plays from a long-ago offense helmed by a guy who was a better passer than runner. Denard throws the ball somewhere, anywhere.
Over the bye week, Michigan will refocus on what they're good at. This will get them through some games. They'll get comfortable with this, think they can install more stuff, and we'll get another Iowa, one they might pull out since the defense might be good and the Big Ten is definitely bad. And Denard will soldier through it, taking barbs from people who don't realize he could be in his first of two years at Oregon now, doing what he was born to.
He's not. He's doing this. This is "this": Al Borges has been Michigan's offensive coordinator for 17 games now. Five were against non-BCS opponents. A sixth was against Alabama and will be set aside. Of the remaining eleven, five were out-and-out debacles: both Notre Dame games, MSU, Iowa, and the Sugar Bowl. That Junior Hemingway rescued two of those doesn't change the fact that in about half of Michigan's games against real competition, the combination of Borges and Denard can't put up 200 yards until bombed out of the gameplan by events on the field.
You can blame Denard if you want. Sure, that happened in 2010, when Denard was a true sophomore and the second-leading rusher was Vincent Smith. I'm more concerned about the guy who isn't gone after this year, the offensive coordinator who vows to never work with a quarterbacks coach again and can't stand it when anyone dares to scream "RUN THE GODDAMN BALL" at him over and over and over and over and over, except whatever the press conference version of that is. Asking about bubble screens and stuff.
One day Borges will have a shining golden hammer of a quarterback, six-four, carved from marble, jawline for days. This man will coolly survey the field after faking a handoff to a two-hundred-thirty-pound bowling ball with knives sticking out of it. No one will run up in his face, because they are afraid the bowling ball has it. He will throw it to another six-foot-four man, this one long and graceful, built for escaping packs of hunters. This will be a good day. Nails are so dead.
Until then, here's to running, punting, and humility.
[Wisconsin: 52 yard, 11 play, four minute TD drive to win. Minnesota: eight play, 75-yard FG drive to win. Penn State: 13 play, 81-yard drive to wi—OH MY GOD MANNINGHAM. Iowa: 9 play, 74-yard FG drive to tie; Ferentz played for OT once in FG range, because he is Ferentz.]
All the INTs:
Bullets Yes More Bullets In The Head Please
Sanity check. I know I may not be entirely reliable on this matter, but stuff coming through my twitter feed from the folks I respect most as college football observers helped me think this was not just a mania. Smart Football:
Nice call Borges. Denard struggling? Let's run some kind naked waggle pass from under center where we let Denard throw vs unblocked DEnd
An Al Borges cooking show would be great if you like seeing someone throw everything into a blender even if it makes no sense at all.
Blaming it on "execution" is horseshit, plain and simple. When the offensive coordinator flat-out refuses to take free yards on the outside and has not once used the devastating play action on which Denard is moving towards the line scrimmage before throwing, it is on his shoulders for not using the tools he has in the way they are most effective.
A third of the way through the ND game, Michigan had run Robinson three times. Instead Michigan threw the ball all the time against a rampant DL. The first INT was a running back in the redzone. On the second, Michigan rolled the pocket and told a redshirt freshman fullback to block Prince Shembo. On the third an unblocked Te'o roars straight up the pocket. On the fourth he ran a waggle on second and seven, which got an unblocked Tuitt in Denard's face after having thrown INTs on back to back passes.
This is a consistent theme. They go into games doing something other than making their running QB a runner, and then are surprised when it goes poorly. They have the guy turn his back to the line of scrimmage and are surprised when 1) opposing defenses prioritize getting a guy out on him and 2) he reacts poorly. The exception was last year's OSU game, during which Denard threw all of 17 times.
Robinson failed, sure, but he was put in a position to do so by a guy who puts three tight ends on the field on second and goal from the twelve yard line and fools no one with the subsequent play action. Coaches have to execute too. Borges's gameplan was a disaster, again.
Come on Denard. Let's ask Peyton Manning to be Pat White stuff aside, at some point you've got to just eat the ball, or not throw it at a guy so covered you're trying to throw it through the chest of not one but two opponents. That first Te'o interception was probably the worst throw of Denard's career; if one of the two guys underneath it didn't get it a safety in coverage on the corner had a shot at a PBU.
I bet a dollar that someone else was open on that play.
The fumble was the real killer, though. Michigan has just taken their first drive of the half 71 yards and Denard has just made it first and ten at the ND 11, boom ball out drive over everyone thinks of 2010 when Michigan put up scads of yards and usually had ten points to show for it. Down two scores and suddenly running all the time, Michigan really needed that drive to pay off.
Blame Gardner? Some people on the twitter and then Ace suggested that the slant INT was on Gardner instead of Robinson. I don't think that's the case. It looked to me like he ran a fine route and was open and Robinson just missed.
Gardner does have to catch that bomb on the last drive.
When to go for high risk trick plays. When there is a payoff commensurate with the risk. The Gardner pass is fine. You've got a play that is potentially 70-some yards if everything goes well. The Smith pass gives you at most ten and is less likely to get a guy wide open just because there's far less space. Last year's Smith TD pass was 30 yards out, which gives the WR room to break past the safeties and the RB room to throw it long. Doing that in a constricted space is asking for it when Manti Te'o is raging his way into a running back's face.
The only time I can recall Michigan running a trick play like that inside the red zone was during the 2007 Illinois game when both teams were actively conspiring to lose. With Henne shuttling in and out of the game and Mallett insane, trying the Arrington end-around pass after a muffed punt was a defensible decision. At the end of an 11-play, 78-yard drive maybe not so much.
What is this huddling business again? There's a case that you shouldn't be doing it at all; not only is huddling a useless anachronism but going away from it locks defensive personnel on the field and gives you easier looks as the opponent struggles to keep up. See Oregon, of course.
But even if you're intent on huddling the time to do so has passed when you're down two scores with 6:46 left. There's something to be said for the idea that an offense should be using tempo as much as possible so that in situations like that they are naturals at it. It's a lot easier to slow down than speed up.
Anyway, I had bad flashbacks to that Iowa game as Michigan took 3:19 and used a timeout on their last drive.
OTOH, didn't mind the end of the first half playcalling since in that situation you're worried about giving ND a possession they can use and you've just thrown interceptions on three straight plays. Why throw a Hail Mary with 16 seconds left, though? And what was Roundtree even doing there?
Defense! Woo defense! Also filed under "if you told me before the game…" with "Michigan would punt once": "Notre Dame would have under 200 yards of offense with three minutes to go." Before Floyd stumbled on that third down bomb to Eifert, Michigan had held two ND QBs to 5.6 YPA and two interceptions, with the only completion over twenty yards another tough fade on the sideline.
From way up in the stands I had a great view of the routes developing and nobody was open basically all day. Combine that with Quinton Washington problems like "is not tackling when he bursts into the backfield on three consecutive plays" and you have a soothing balm to apply as you look forward to the rest of the season. I'm actually eager to get to the UFRing just so I can see how the guys on D did. Live I saw Ryan make plays, Campbell make plays, Washington make plays, and that allowed the linebackers to flow freely, with the 3.1 YPC results mentioned above. Kenny Demens looks a lot better when he's not trying to fight off two different blockers on the same play.
If Washington can translate those plays against UMass and Mattison hype into an impact day on the interior line against a real opponent, Michigan's biggest question that isn't "how will Denard fail to be Peyton Manning this time" is a lot closer to resolution.
Potential caveat: ND's interior OL may not be very good. They got annihilated by Purdue (Riddick: 53 yards on 15 carries, five sacks on Golson, two by Kawann Short) and ND didn't do much against MSU that wasn't deception (counter draw) or Wood getting cutbacks similar to the one he busted for ND's only big run of the day.
Caveat caveat: "only big run of the day." The shot above is Michigan corralling the play I started calling "That Goddamned Counter Draw" after DeAndra Cobb staked MSU to the lead they'd give up during Braylonfest. I call it TGDCD because Michigan has never stopped the thing (except once, I think). They did it up there.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point of the Week. I have no idea yet, but it's obviously someone on defense. There is a weird lack of stats for such a dominating performance, with no sacks and just two TFLs, one for Kovacs, another split by Morgan and Washington.
For now, Jake Ryan gets the nod for most impactful-seeming impactfulness, but I reserve the right to switch this to Kovacs or Washington pending review.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama), Jake Ryan(ND)
Freshman linebackers. They're basically co-starters at this point. I'm still nervous about them but if the D continues to perform like that in the Big Ten season, expectations for that crew will be enormous next year with four-ish returning starters, all of whom will still be around in 2014.
Demens did rotate in during the second half. He was in on six tackles, Morgan seven. Ross had one and Bolden did not register. IIRC Demens was the preferred option on passing downs, which makes sense since zone drops are often a struggle with young linebackers.
Norfleet. Please do not jump like that again. The air up there is dangerously low on oxygen and people are trying to kill you. Stay low, where you are under the radar and can execute deep infiltration missions.
ND future. I wouldn't get too worried about a full-on return to glory. If that interior OL is what it seems to be and they're flipping between Rees and Golson against the rest of their schedule, they'll drop some games. They'll still probably get that BCS bid so they can get stomped on by someone a lot better.
Funchess. Didn't really have much impact; I'll pick up the Mandich thing the next time he takes a significant step towards it. Did feature in this picture:
This is my ball. Do not take my ball.
In the week preceding this game, some random internet poster guy asked what was the worst performance you’ve seen by a QB. I ran screaming from that post, but couldn’t escape the images of Demetrious Brown throwing seven interceptions – SEVEN INTERCEPTIONS!!! - in a game against MSU many years ago.
WHY DID YOU DO IT RANDOM INTERNET POSTER GUY, WHYYYYYY
When I was 16 and learning how to drive, my Dad, trying his best to impart some constructive criticism without being overly harsh, said, “ST3, your driving lacks a certain smoothness.” I think it’s wonderful how Devin Gardner has moved over to WR to help the team, but at this point in his career, I think his route running lacks a certain smoothness.
The results of this game and a record of 2-2 are not indicative of the abilities of this team, and it would do every Michigan fan good to forget about what has happened and to concentrate instead on what can be accomplished in the BIG. I rest easier after seeing the O and D-lines gel and play very well. Denard will bounce back.
The rest of the BIG continues to look shaky, to say the least, and Michigan should be licking their chops against the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and I dare say Michigan St at this point. Ohio has obvious problems as well, letting UAB run wild on them. Michigan should have distinct talent advantages against Northwestern and Purdue.
I'll skip all the articles about how Michigan turned the ball over a lot, since I think you probably know. More photos from Maize and Blue Nation. Sad Panda at MVictors. MVictors on the press box atmosphere:
It’s well known that the media is prohibited from cheering in the press box but it’s not just a collection of writers upstairs at Notre Dame. After Denard connected with Gardner on a third down conversion in the first half some dude belted out, “DAMN IT!”. When Denard took off on a run later in the game, I heard, “GET ‘EM!”. And so on. I’m actually glad this happened because it created some much needed lighter moments on the glass.
Maybe it was the guy in seat 652:
Also, that Webb tweet that looked like it was from my account? Not on purpose:
Speaking of tweets, after another turnover (I think Denard’s fumble?) this came from Sam Webb’s feed. It was retweeted 28 times instantly:
The beauty – it wasn’t a case of Sam grinding the keyboard in frustration. It was a legit accident as his phone went sideways and spit out Matrix code. Love it.
…unless the phone is also a Michigan fan.
The Daily has a great article about Denard's family in the stands:
The group sat in the family and friends section of Notre Dame Stadium. Steve wore his best friend’s varsity jacket. The two girls wore “Shoelace” and another Robinson-themed shirt.
This section is different. Here, the hits sound louder. The mistakes sting more.
From here, you can reach out and touch the bass drums in the Michigan band. When a Notre Dame wide receiver was open on the goal line, the parents shouted and pointed, so Thomas Gordon bumped over and covered.
Robinson’s supporters sat in the fifth row, tucked in between friends and family of freshman linebacker James Ross III and the family of fifth-year senior J.T. Floyd.
Robinson’s parents come to games “very rarely, very rarely,” J.T.’s father, James, said. Normally the Robinson clan gathers in Robinson’s grandmother’s house in Deerfield Beach, Fla. around a television.
“Every Saturday,” Durrel said. “Everybody (goes). I can’t even tell you who don’t go.”
Would you like frustrating losses scored? Of course you would.
“ ’Sup. Where’s your glasses?”
I didn’t want to look cerebral today.
“It’s up to you.”
MGoYouAreStaringAtMeButIHaveNothingToSay: So. Norfleet.
“You’re not even going to ask me about my daughter first?”
MGoOfCourse: HOW'S KINDERGARTEN?
“She learned about caterpillars. And you know what the word of the day is? Metamorphosis.”
They haven’t gotten to bubble screens in kindergarten yet? [Ed: This was not me.]
“Psh. Bubble screens. No. They blow bubbles.”
Are you expecting a metamorphosis from last year’s performance against Notre Dame?
“I’m hoping it’s better than that. Holy smokes that was just awful.”
What didn’t go right early last year that all of a sudden clicked in the fourth quarter?
“Well we completed some passes. That’s the thing, when people are crowding the line of scrimmage like that, kind of forcing the issue. They were keenly aware of what Denard had done the year before. They restructured their defense to kind of stop him and force the issue with the passing game. We just weren’t early on completing many. We made a couple adjustments at halftime with the run game, and it helped us a little bit, but they played good, too. They came out ready to play and, you know, we were still so unpolished at that time -- not that we’re real polished now, but we did not play well at all and they played well.”
News bullets and other important things:
- Desmond Morgan and Richard Ash should return this week. Stephen Hopkins seems probable, Brennen Beyer is questionable, and Brandon Moore will be out.
This filter is called "file."
“Thanks for coming. It was good to win on Saturday, obviously. We have a lot that we need to keep doing better. I think we did some things better than we did a week before, but we’re still growing as a team in a lot of ways. We have to improve every week if we want to be the team that we want to be. So we just have to keep making progress from fundamentals, from techniques, everywhere across the board, do a better job up front on both sides of the ball. You’ve heard that many many times before, and you’ll probably continue to hear it. That’s where the game is played, and that’s where it starts, and for us going on the road playing a Notre Dame that’s 3-0 and has played very well -- they’ve been in tight games. They played in East Lansing well, they had a tight game with Purdue, won the football game at the end, so you look at them as a team and their front seven on defense is playing real well together. Disruptive. And offensively I think Everett Golson has done a nice job running the offense, managing it, a lot of tight ends involved, and they’re a good football team. We’re going to have our hands full, and we need to get a lot better as a football team.”
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.
Dave Reginek/Getty Images
A half-empty student section, a press box full of beat writers already finishing their game columns, a field littered with walk-ons and freshmen; with eight minutes remaining in the final stanza, Michigan Stadium exhibited all the telltale signs of a blowout. A one-yard touchdown run by Justice Hayes had just given the Wolverines a 63-13 lead, one that stood as the final margin.
After the last two weeks, this was a welcome sight indeed.
Denard Robinson overcame an ugly pick-six to complete 16-of-24 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground to lead the way offensively. Robinson spread the ball around to nine different receivers, led by Drew Dileo's 91 yards on three receptions. The stars from last week, Devins Funchess and Gardner, each recorded a touchdown reception—Gardner's on a stellar effort to tightrope the sideline and dive for the pylon—and the enigmatic Roy Roundtree found paydirt for the first time this season.
It was a rebound performance for Fitzgerald Toussaint, as well, as he gained 85 yards on 15 carries, showing off the agility in tight quarters that made him so effective last season; after finding little room to operate against Air Force, Toussaint reached the edge on his 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter with help from an A.J. Williams block. Vincent Smith added a pair of touchdowns from inside the ten, Thomas Rawls doled out more punishment than he took, Justice Hayes recorded his first career score, and Dennis Norfleet made his offensive debut with a 15-yard jet sweep that surely made Brian one very happy blogger.
Michigan fans were even treated to a Fat Guy Touchdown, courtesy of a Taylor Lewan recovery after Denard fumbled into the end zone. Lewan, for his part, appeared more concerned about his quarterback's error than excited for his own fortune, sheepishly pointing his palms towards the sky when the officials belatedly signaled touchdown.
The defense limited UMass to 259 yards of total offense, though there was still reason for concern. The Minutemen doubled their offensive scoring output from their first two games—six points—and strung together three first downs in a drive for the first time this year. This should not cause PANIC, of course—six points, fergodsakes—but there are still issues to be resolved, especially on the interior of the D-line.
UMass got paid. Michigan got a chance to breathe easy and give their backups plenty of run. Now the team can look ahead to Saturday night's matchup with Notre Dame; for today, they can feel content about handling business as expected. With the baby seal emphatically clubbed, it's time to move on to the real season, not unscathed but with the ultimate goal—a Big Ten championship—still within reach.
Formation notes: The Air Force defense is the opposite of their offense when it comes to formations. They run their 3-4 on virtually every play. They started off in some unusual (for them, anyway) formations, got burned for 79 yards on the second, and then decided to do this every play:
That may look like a four-man line but the line is directly over the C and tackles; the standup end is a linebacker, with AF's other linebacker flared out over the opposite hash.
For Michigan this is "double stacks," BTW.
I did not call this out specifically—it's just shotgun twins twin TE but note the inversion of the line TE—Kwiatkowski—and Funchess, who is in an H-back spot inside of him. Michigan used this mostly to get Funchess on wheel routes.
Substitution notes: A mishmash at WR with Gardner, Gallon, and Roundtree all seeing about the same number of snaps. Jackson and Jerald Robinson were next in line. Funchess, Kwiatkowski, and Williams split a good number of TE snaps.
Toussaint was the only tailback all game save for a few Smith snaps; the line was all starters.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun triple stack||1||0||4||Nickel under||Run||QB counter||Robinson||1|
|Looks like read option in the backfield; Lewan pulls around into the hole. Omameh(-2) lets a DT go straight upfield into the Lewan pull; Lewan delays to prevent a TFL and Denard has to deal with that unblocked LB in the hole. RUN-: Omameh(2)|
|M21||2||9||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Okie||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||79|
|AF goes with a six man front and one MLB behind it with a cover two shell in the secondary. They send five, backing two out, those two are tasked with covering the receivers. They're looking at a bubble screen fake, and bug out. They're gone. Michigan blocks the four frontside guys, with Mealer(+1) and Barnum(+1) getting a scoop on the DT that gets Mealer(+1) to the second level, where he pancakes a safety. Gardner walls off a corner, and then Robinson(+3) is one on one with the last guy. You know how that ends. Ermagerd. RPS +3. This was easy, really.|
|RUN+: Robinson(3), Mealer(2), Barnum||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0. 8 min 1st Q. By the time M gets the ball back plays are 24-2 AF.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB iso||Robinson||-1|
|This is either a run blitz or a really great read; one AF MLB shoots forward at the snap, getting past Mealer(-1) before he can come off a combo block. Maybe Molk makes this play, but it's not awful to not be able to do it. The DT Mealer and Omameh(-1) are trying to combo is shooting way left at the snap, so this is a blitz, I bet. Omameh totally loses the guy. Hopkins(-2) runs right by the blitzer, and this gets Denard buried in the backfield. RPS -1. RUN-: Omameh, Mealer, Hopkins(2)|
|M26||2||11||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||PA TE seam||Funchess||21|
|Why, hello. LBs suck up on run fake, Funchess wide open, nailed, caught, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +2)|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||1|
|AF tips a blitz like whoah and Michigan does not check. They send a corner and LB, slanting the line away from that blitz. Barnum(-2) gets confused and lets a DT through untouched. This is not good. Toussaint dances through it for a yard or two. Omameh(-1) also did not pick up the blitz and let that LB through clean. Bubble? Open. RPS –1, gotta have a check. RUN-: Barnum(2), Omameh(1)|
|M48||2||9||Shotgun double stack||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||PA drag||Gallon||8|
|Gallon comes in motion as the ball is snapped; M fakes the zone and flips it out to him in space. Same play that he got open on against Alabama but Denard overthrew it. This one is on the money. Gallon gets the edge on the slowish AF defense and nears the first down. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|O44||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||7|
|AF running another blitz up the middle with stunting action. Michigan's pulling outside of a TE and Omameh(+1) plugs a blitzer, ending that backside threat. On the playside, Kwiatkowski(+1) seals the playside end, Toussaint(+0.5) kicks the OLB (easy), and Barnum(+0.5) pulls through to get an OK second-level block. Robinson is about to test those safeties again when a linebacker who was originally blitzing to the backside recovers for the ankle tackle. Nice recovery by that guy. RPS +1; blitz put AF in a bad spot.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Barnum(0.5), Hopkins(0.5), Kwiatkowski||RUN-:|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun triple stack TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB counter||Robinson||7|
|Run to the other side with Schofield pulling. AF blitzes right in the intended gap; Schofield(+1) slows up to wall the guy off… guy goes after Toussaint. If Schofield keeps going and bips a safety... oh well. Denard now has a big hole thanks to a big kickout from Lewan(+1) and Barnum walling off a LB who bit on Toussaint. S fills well, Denard tries to go around him and is chopped down by pursuit.|
|Mansome block from Hopkins(+2) who takes a blitzing LB, stands him up, and thrusts him out of the hole. Mealer(+1) adjusted well to a moving LB and escorted him out of the way; Omameh(+1) put a potentially problematic DT on the ground. Safety fill is rapid since he was moving forward on the snap as AF went to an eight man front.|
|RUN+: Hopkins(2), Mealer, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||-1|
|This is just an old Rodriguez inside zone and that it doesn't work is kind of on three people. One: Denard. End isn't crashing but a keep is attractive here. Two: Mealer(-1), who can't get much of a block on a playside LB. Three: Toussaint(-2), who refuses to cut it up and ruins excellent blocks from Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) on the backside. Maybe the end shuts this down, but probably not for zero yards. Also... we could use some belly here. FWIW, yeah, Omameh and Schofield are in the backfield but this is essentially fine on zone blocking. That's where they went. Toussaint needs to cut.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Barnum||RUN-: Mealer, Toussaint(2)|
|O26||2||11||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB iso||Robinson||-8|
|AF tips a safety blitz, no checks on either side. Michigan runs directly into it. Lewan is expecting to kick a DE who screams inside of him; nothing he can do. Denard runs around and goes down. RPS -3. This was dead. Moar checks. This was so tipped.|
|O34||3||19||Shotgun double stack||1||0||4||Dime||Pass||Rollout out||Gallon||Inc|
|I think. This is a rollout flood route on which AF blitzes and still has everybody blanketed. Denard eventually throws it at a double-covered Gallon, getting it batted near the LOS. Given the situation I don't really mind the attempt—it's a crappy punt in a world of crappy punts if it gets picked off. He had Roundtree if he wanted to throw across his body... does he? I don't know. He's there for a reason, I guess. I'm just going to punt and BA this. (BA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 13 min 2nd Q. Gallon costs M 25 yards by not catching a punt before the next drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M12||1||10||Shotgun triple stack TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB iso||Robinson||6|
|AF blitzes right up the intended gap; Toussaint(+1) takes that guy out of the play. Mealer(+0.5) does an okay job with the NT; Barnum(+0.5) gets a linebacker he released directly into. Robinson(+0.5) gets a half for moving past the blocks in an optimal way.|
|M18||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Zone stretch||Toussaint||0|
|AF stunts, sending the playside DT right into Mealer. He goes low, submarining him and taking out Barnum. Not sure what Mealer can do about that. Omameh and Schofield now have to block guys inside of them that are at angles they are not expecting; they don't do this well. Even if they do, the peel-off leaves an unblocked guy waiting to fill. Williams(-1) did get owned on the edge and that didn't help. Rest of it seems RPS -2. Bubble open, BTW.|
|M18||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Out||Jackson||8|
|Stacked to the boundary. Bubble yawningly open. Michigan does it the slightly harder way by sending Jackson on an option route at about six yards. He breaks open, but not by much, and Denard shoots it in there like he's a WCO QB. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Wheel||Funchess||24|
|Play action fake to Smith sucks up the OLB, who dodges Funchess like he's blocking. He and Gallon break deep against one safety, who takes the inside. Funchess is open, Denard sees it and hits him. Big paws man. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Run||Broken play||Robinson||2|
|Denard(-1) bobbles the snap. I was going to call this an iso since the play worked out like that but after watching it a couple times, Smith is definitely expecting a mesh point and just improvises after he figures out it's not coming. This is a half-step from breaking big, in fact, but a blitz from the OLB gets Denard around the legs just as he's about to burst. Barnum(+1) and Omameh(+1) paved the way.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Barnum||RUN-: Robinson|
|O43||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||1|
|This one is on the right side of the line as AF slants to get it to the backside. Schofield(-2) is supposed to latch on to that slant and push him past where he's trying to go; instead he just whiffs and dude makes contact in the backfield. This is really all Schofield; Barnum is looking for someone to block in his zone and this is not a tough thing to do. All Schofield has to do is push the guy and Toussaint has a nice lane on the cutback he did find. RUN-: Schofield(2)|
|O42||3||7||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Hitch||Gardner||12|
|AF brings the heat. Both Mealer (-1) and Omameh(-1) get blown by, with Omameh's being more relevant. Denard has a guy in his face, and where previously he may have backfooted something turrible this time he shoots one out to Gardner in rhythm. It's a little upfield, but that's fine. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Mealer -1, Omameh -1)|
|O30||1||10||Ace Big||1||3||1||Base 3-4||Pass||PA TE corner||Funchess||30|
|PA gets Funchess one on one with a safety and Denard all day. Funchess loses the S because he's thinking waggle, and Denard fires it. It's a little short, but the S is still running as Funchess finds the ball, so it's not really very off. Much better this than missing. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +3). FUNCHESSSSSSS|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-3, 7 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M38||1||10||Shotgun twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||QB iso||Robinson||7|
|Looks like Toussaint(-1) blows an assignment and heads into the wrong gap. He ends up running into Omameh near the LOS; unblocked MLB. Robinson(+1) bounces it and gets the edge thanks to Schofield(+1) driving his guy a couple yards off the LOS. Interior blocking looked good, FWIW|
|RUN+: Robinson, Schofield||RUN-: Toussaint|
|M45||2||3||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||0|
|AF walks down a safety and blitzes him right into this. They tipped this too, but no checks never checks. RPS -2.|
|M45||3||3||Shotgun double stack||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Dumpoff||Smith||Int|
|Pass is a little high and hard for the 5'6" Smith, bouncing off his hands and getting intercepted. Denard had all the room in the world to run, but this was also wide open for a first down. (MA, 2, protection 1/1) On replay I don't even know if this is MA. Very catchable.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 14-3, 5 min 2nd Q. Next drive starts with 1:16 in the half and two TOs.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||10|
|AF shows blitz and backs out of it. Funchess's guy is backing out at the snap. Funchess ends up chasing him a bit, then decides to release downfield. Denard(+1) pulls since there's no one containing him and shoots up in the gap for a first down. Funchess probably should have clocked a linebacker instead of going for the safety, but oh well. RPS +1.|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Rollout hitch||Roundtree||5|
|A crappy throw takes Roundtree off his feet, robbing him of YAC and keeping the clock running. Accurate and this is 8-10 and a stopped clock. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|M34||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||In||Gardner||5|
|Eight men in coverage; Denard can't find anything except a short one to Gardner at the sticks. Accurate, at least. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Deep hitch||Gardner||19|
|Three man rush again; Denard surveys and finds Gardner open between levels in the zone, zips it for a first down. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1). They burn nine seconds before the next snap.|
|O42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Post||Dileo||Inc|
|AF sends seven; picked up. Denard stares down Dileo and does not see Gardner coming open beneath him. He forces it into three guys. No es bueno. (BR, 0, protection 3/3)|
|O47||2||15||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Post||Jackson||Inc|
|I'm not charting this given the situation. May as well force it. Do think Gallon was a better option, but whatever. (NC, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 14-10.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||58|
|AF sends a blitzer off the corner. Toussaint(+1) deals with him. Omameh has to get around that issue and does. Robinson slows up for him. Now both are on the edge with a linebacker. Omameh(+1) blows him up. Robinson cuts inside that. Lewan(+2) has donkeyed a slanting DL all the way to Schofield(!), so there's a gap. Mealer(+1) sealed away another DT. Williams and Barnum are doubling a linebacker. Denard(+2) has a big cutback lane. Dileo(+1) cracks down on the other OLB and gets a bonus block on a DB who wasn't making the play anyway. Gardner's stalk-blocking the corner to that side; Denard(+1) jukes that guy inside out and seeya. No shoes necessary.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-10, 14 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||1|
|M pulls Omameh and Schofield around two tight ends to the boundary. AF is stunting things; Williams(+1) does a good job to shove the playside DE past everything. Another DL has stunted himself out of the play, and Lewan(+1) gets the third despite the stunting. Michigan crushes the second level, and the only thing that can prevent Robinson from getting five or six yards is Robinson(-2) not cutting upfield and instead jogging out of bounds.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Williams||RUN-: Robinson(2)|
|M36||2||9||Shotgun triple stack TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB draw||Robinson||10|
|AF tips that blitz again, and this time it seems like we do get a check. Robinson fakes a WR screen to Gallon and takes off. Just like his opening run, the two linebackers haul for WRs on the outside, so if Denard can get past the line he will get yards. Pump fake gets one for free; Lewan(+1) stuffs the other blitzer and there's an avenue outside. No gap in the middle, unfortunately, or this could have been a massive gain. As it is it's an easy first down. Denard(+1) for speed and things. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||5|
|Barnum(+1) pulls and gets there. He takes on a run-blitzing LB at the LOS and wins. Toussaint(+1) kicks the OLB. No chance on the safety because Barnum got used at the LOS but he's got to be cautious and it's a decent gain.|
|RUN+: Toussaint, Barnum, Williams||RUN-:|
|O49||2||5||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Slant||J. Robinson||10|
|That's not Milliner. The Other Robinson gets inside position and uses his body to wall off the DB; Denard nails him. Body-caught, but results-based charting. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Wheel||Funchess||26|
|TEs both in two point stances. Michigan runs a Toussaint fake and then goes pass, with Funchess running a wheel down the sideline. Man coverage, AF linebacker tries a chuck or something, and that's over. Denard floats a perfect touch pass over the LB. Funchess bobbles it but does bring it in. Great throw maximized YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|O13||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||6|
|This time the other way. Kwiatkowski(+1) seals the DE; Lewan(+1) shoves a slanting DT and then gets a second level block. LB spins off it but is significantly delayed. Robinson(-0.5) gets spooked by that fellow and runs a little outside where he should, giving up some yards when a guy Dileo cut decently can make a tackle from his knees.|
|O7||2||4||Ace Big||1||3||1||Base 3-4||Pass||Waggle out||Gardner||7|
|Play action fools the entire AF secondary; easy pitch and catch for Denard and Gardner. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-17, 6 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M1||1||10||I-form Big||2||2||1||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||1|
|Ugh, just throw the damn ball to Gallon and see if this AF corner's eight-yard cushion is something he can make up. That's a guaranteed five yards. Instead, M runs a power. Williams(-1) loses a DE to the inside. Omameh(-1) does not get there, and that's all she wrote. RPS -1.|
|Extremely token run fake and max pro. Robinson fires a hitch, accurate but maybe a tiny bit late. Gardner gets his hands on it but ends up dropping it as the CB rakes it out. Could be route here, as separation was not gained. (CA, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M2||3||9||Shotgun double stack||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Out||Jackson||Inc|
|Zone blitz gets two ILBs in Robinson's face, so he flings a dart to Jeremy Jackson that he bobbles and then the OLB backing out knocks down. Dileo had separation and could have turned up for the first; Jackson is just slow. In any case, this was probably a yard or two short of the first down unless Jackson did some mansome OLB dragging after the catch. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, team)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-17, EO3Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||6|
|Omameh's back to pulling really badly, as he ends up two yards in the backfield at one point and Robinson has to slow up for him. He does plug the linebacker that shows, I guess. Tentative +1. Lewan(+1) and Williams(+1) club the playside DE with Williams coming out on a LB. Barnum(+0.5) gets the easy NT block; Toussaint(+0.5) kicks the DE, and Denard only has a safety to deal with.|
|M40||2||4||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||PA seam||Dileo||Inc|
|Robinson gets instant pressure from the edge as a blitz comes and has to dump it immediately. Dileo is covered by one of those linebackers coming out from the center of the field and Denard chucks it high of everyone anyway. I'm filing this PR. I don't mind this from Denard. (PR, 0, protection 0/1, team, RPS -1).|
|M40||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Out||Jackson||9|
|Three-step rhythm throw (except this is a shotgun). This is west-coasty. It's Purdue-y. It's a short out to Jackson for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1). Jackson gets some bullish YAC, too.|
|M49||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Toussaint gets a great cut block on a blitzing OLB that gives Denard time. He pumps, indecisive, and then he's got to go. He runs up in the pocket and as he's getting tackled by that OLB unloads 50 yards downfield to Roundtree, who is open by a step; pass is way long. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M49||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB draw||Robinson||7|
|AF sends a double A gap blitz, backing off an OLB. Barnum(+1) catches one LB and escorts him out of the hole. Toussaint(+1) kicks the other one. Crease. Williams(+1) gets a good downfield block on that OLB who backed out. Robinson is one on one with a safety and ends up trying to cut behind Williams; Safety chops him down by the ankles.|
|O44||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||11|
|DE slanting inside on the playside makes Omameh move around him, which slows him. Denard slows, too. By the time he's finished doing that, Williams(+1) has shoved that DE all the way past the back of the line, Schofield(+1) has blown the playside DE past Barnum's guy, and a big cutback lane opens that Robinson(+2) takes. Dileo(+1) cuts off a linebacker and bang secondary.|
|O33||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||Waggle corner||Gardner||20|
|Toussaint again gets a nice cut block on the OLB coming hard on the edge. Denard is now in plenty of space and can leisurely pick out Gardner breaking open 20 yards downfield. Hit in the numbers, easy catch, big gain. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|O13||1||10||I-Form twins||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||Iso||Toussaint||-1|
|S nominally covering the slot comes on a Kovacs blitz and nails Toussaint for no gain. RPS -2. No blocking matters here.|
|O14||2||11||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Delayed slant||Gardner||Inc|
|Gardner hitches up at five yards and then extends his route when a LB comes up to cover, and Denard goes for him. He's about to have a completion nearing the sticks when an DL who's not even bothering to rush gets a hand up at the LOS and bats it down. Foiled again! RPS +1, great little route. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O14||3||11||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Dumpoff||Toussaint||Inc|
|Air Force sends six. Picked up but Robinson is spooked and dumps it to Toussaint, low and tough. Not caught, not getting the first down even if caught. RUN THE BALL DENARRRRD. Taking off here has possibilities, man. (IN, 1, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: FG(31), 31-25, 8 min 4th Q|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power||Robinson||2|
|Playside LB splits Toussaint and Barnum, getting upfield of Barnum and forcing Denard inside away from blocking. This gives AF a free hitter, who tackles Robinson in the hole. Think Toussaint(-1) has to go at this guy and cut him so Barnum can come around. Stunt made the blocking down very easy FWIW.|
|M45||2||8||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||QB sweep||Robinson||2|
|Williams(-1) gets shoved back and loses his guy, which picks off Brink and gives Brink's guy an avenue to flow. Toussaint(-1) never actually gets a hat on the contain guy, and these folks combine on Robinson for a short gain.|
|RUN+: Schofield||RUN-: Toussaint, Williams|
|M47||3||6||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA rollout hitch||Gardner||Inc|
|Wide open as the smash route takes the corner to that side deep. Robinson finds it and leaves it short, but catchable. Gardner cant' bring it in. (MA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-25, 2 min 4th Q. Michigan's final snaps are kneels.|
I like this not playing Alabama thing.
Yeah, it's pretty cool.
My favorite bits are Denard running until your brain melts.
My second favorite bits are when Denard throws the receivers are not coated in a blood-red harbinger of doom.
I feel you.
I'm even feeling pretty good about this chart you're going to hit me with.
Do… you want to? You know, do it? The thing where I say—
—chart and you interrupt me to say—
--chart. The love is back!
[Hennechart legend is updated.]
|2011 through MSU||13||66(12)||11(1)||34(1)||17||2||3||10||4||55%|
|2011 after MSU||9||77(9)||7||17||9||6(1)||5(2)||9||5||69%|
Boom. Denard's misses:
- Dumpoff to Smith that's a little high and hard marked MA. This was the INT.
- Two iffy throws on sideline stop routes, one of which takes Roundtree off his feet inbounds on Michigan's hurry-up drive at the end of the first half, one of which forces Gardner to try and dig out a low throw on Michigan's final real snap. Both MAs.
- Fifty-yard bomb to Roundtree thrown while on the move and getting tackled. IN, but not a big deal.
- Dumpoff to Toussaint as he's getting pressure on third and eleven. IN.
There was also a crappy read right at the end of the first half. That's it. Denard Robinson killed Tacopants tag: deployed.
I mean, I'm just like you guys. Wheels on the money, corner routes on the money, even one of those dinky Purdue routes in traffic squeezed in there. He stood in against pressure and shot darts out to his WRs. QBs make mistakes. There are those little frustrating moments when the guy won't just RUNNNNNNN and you're going HNNNNNNGGGG because look at all that space on third and three. But if you're trying to tell me this is not a significant leap forward, you crazy.
This is pretty.
I am so Funchized right now you guys.
I am Funchized to the max.
that's not even a thing
Oh, man, this is great stuff.
Fine, fine, I am so Funchized.
I clipped all four of his catches not because I set out to do so but just because it happened. Each was a big gain, each was virtually unstoppable for safety or linebacker, and all but one made you think that Funchess was going to have awesome hands as he plucked the ball out of the air with the twelve-inch skillets attached to his wrists. Was the seam a little behind him? Maybe if it's Dileo the throw forces a spin and a tough catch. Funchess just reaches out for it. Was the touchdown a little short?
Maybe if we're talking about Martavious Odoms or Jeremy Gallon going for that. In Funchess's case, feed the man up high.
Let's do another variety of chart first.
|Lewan||8||-||8||Blew some guys off the ball; locked out edge guys.|
|Mealer||4.5||2||2.5||Seems like a decent player.|
|Omameh||5||5||0||Pulling getting bad again; got blown by a couple times.|
|Schofield||3||2||1||Not tested that much.|
|Funchess||-||-||-||Blocking is for saps.|
|TOTAL||34||14||71%||What they needed to do against Air Force.|
|Toussaint||5||5||0||Pretty good day blocking on rollouts FWIW.|
|Hopkins||2||2||2||Denard running meant not much Hopkins.|
|Protection||33||5||87%||Team –3, Mealer –1, Omameh –1.|
|RPS||17||13||+4||A lot of RPSes.|
Those line numbers have extremely low amplitude because Michigan only got off 28 rushes—Air Force had 71!—and the high RPS numbers mean that I attributed a lot of stuff to play design/response instead of blocking. Like, on the 79-yarder there was only one second level player who needed thumping. That means fewer treats to pass out to the OL and more for Borges. Similarly, getting whacked in the backfield by an unblocked blitzer is not on the OL.
When the line did get called upon, they did well. Mostly.
Okay. Now: Aigh Toussaint?
I'm not sure it was much about Toussaint. He missed one cut pretty badly. Other than that, I'm not sure what he was supposed to do:
Air Force tipped blitzes a lot and Michigan didn't check out of their play but once or twice (and I didn't actually clip the check). Not sure if that's on Denard or Borges, but a lot of the time when Toussaint was getting the ball he was dodging unblocked guys in the backfield. Lewan said this was "embarrassing" OL performance; I do think they had some problems but I think it was mostly Toussaint getting the wrong chamber in Air Force blitz/slant roulette.
Michigan's success in the air was the flipside of that business. Michigan's final TD was easy easy because even Air Force's corners freak out about run.
But the right side of the offensive line is a problem?
I'm not sure Schofield had enough relevant reps in this game to make any sort of declaration. Omameh was pretty bad, though. I was probably too kind when gave him a +1 on some of his pulls. He's back to that arcing thing where he ends up running eight yards when he can run five. And too often yesterday did he let slanting guys right by. Here's the first play:
Have to get a shove on that guy even if he hops past you. Schofield had a similar error on a zone where Air Force slanted hard playside and the only thing preventing Toussaint's good-idea backside cut from working was the whiff. I don't see stuff like that from Lewan.
Robinson only had 4.5 YPC if you take out the big touchdowns, though.
Thanks, Danny Kanell. The way Air Force was playing left them exposed to monster plays. The 79-yarder saw a blitz and both LBs bugging out into a potential bubble screen:
the youtube url for this play has "Wee" in it
There is no one on the second level, period. Air Force did a lot of stunting and slanting blitzing in order to make up for their size deficiencies, and when it worked it got Michigan in second and long. The long runs were a cost they were hoping not to pay. You can't just take them out and expect to say anything meaningful.
Yo I got your magic midget right here.
He'll get some carries Saturday.
Did you forget something?
[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.]
Notice the large drop in 0s. Obviously. The only routine drop was a Jackson out when Michigan was backed up on the goal line. Wouldn't have gotten the first down but would at least have gotten Michigan away from the goal line and give Hagerup an opportunity to boom one. Smith's 0/1 was of course painful.
Denard! Also Funchess.
Omameh had a rough day on the OL.
What does it mean for UMass and the future?
UMass will be a walkover.
As for the future, if Denard puts up the same sort of accuracy against UMass that ND game will be monstrous for the fan excitement level. Put up a bunch of completions against the Irish and keep that streak going and it's that MSU game for the Roses. Revert and we're all feeling pretty crappy about ourselves.
Toussaint gets an INC; the right side of the line is the biggest worry now, along with the tight ends holding up against bigger teams.
But, hey, Funchess and a rapidly developing Gardner combine with Denard's running to pose a tricky question for upcoming defenses. The passing just has to be for real.