Peppers at 10, which seems low.
News bullets and other important items:
- Kickoffs: There was one bad kick and nine missed tackles, but kicking it short and to the right was on purpose to avoid Raheem Mostert.
- Denard's wrist is fine.
- Gallon's job as punt returner is not in danger.
- Hoke did not consider putting in Rawls earlier for Toussaint.
“Thanks for coming. Very pleased with the win. It’s great to win, obviously. I thought we set a tone early defensively and great to win on the road is what I should say because you look at this league on the road, it’s a tough place to play. I thought we set the tone with the three-and-out on the defense, and offensively, 17-play drive, almost nine minutes, really was what we needed to do. We play really good defense watching our offense out there on the field. That’s a good deal. I think we practiced well for the week. We prepared well. Liked how our guys came to work every day, and we need to continue to do that. We know we’re in a championship game every Saturday, so our mentality and attitude needs to reflect that by our actions in practice. We had a good day yesterday, and hopefully we can continue that.”
10/6/2012 – Michigan 44, Purdue 13 – 3-2, 1-0 Big Ten
For three hours on Saturday, October 6th, 2012, a rapidly-expanding event horizon engulfed the Indiana town of West Lafayette. Inside, gold chains were cool, Playboy featured natural breasts, you could lose four-year-olds in your carpet, and mass colorblindness reigned. Hair erupted from everywhere. Do not talk to central Indianans about storm drains.
A Jed Smithson from nearby Frankfort found his balding pate mysteriously replaced with a resplendent afro. Leaping atop a teal Chevy the size of a city block, he proclaimed a quest to fornicate with every hot broad in the county. He was a half-dozen hot broads into this project when the effect dissipated as mysteriously as it had arrived; the aftermath was even more appalling than that of the average middle-aged central Indiana sexual congress. Do not talk to Frankfort residents about what you can find in storm drains.
Unfortunately, due to the remote location of the event the only video evidence of this supernatural phenomenon was a foot-ball game between the University of Michigan and Purdue University in which the former team ran on every down for six yards a carry and the latter meekly accepted its place in the college football firmament. Up eighteen points at halftime, Michigan's head coach groused about his offensive line and said "you can't win football games like that" in reference to a fumble at the end of the first half. His team won by thirty-one. They ran for 300 yards and grudgingly passed for 100.
It was the greatest three hours of Jed Smithson's life, and pretty all right for Michigan fans watching on TV.
Michigan stewed for a week after intercepting away the Notre Dame game and came back resolved to boringly suffocate opponents. Thanks to Greg Mattison's ability to turn anything more coordinated than a tube sock into a functional defensive tackle and those things on Denard Robinson that aren't arms—leargs or something—their first experiment in 1970s death football was a resounding success. There were no interceptions, and one lost fumble. Michigan won by many points.
Iowa fan Adam Jacobi crashed in the guest room en route to and from Blogs With Balls 5; at some point he complained that his job required him to actually watch that incredibly dull game from start to finish, and the two halves of my brain high-fived each other. I have taken walks to the other end of sanity where Michigan beats Illinois 67-65 or loses to Penn State 41-31 and feel like settling down with a vacuum cleaner repair manual for a while just now. There are worse things than boredom.
Call it Lloydball or MANBALL or Every Michigan Game Before 1986 or whatever. The plan was obvious, and executed, and would have resulted in a resounding victory even if Purdue hadn't thrown in a free touchdown. Lloydmanbopigball it was, and it was beautiful for being so ugly.
After Michigan's first drive, a 17-play Viking saga that ended with a one yard plunge into the endzone, I told twitter that was the second half of the Notre Dame game continued. As that expanded into the whole game it seemed like Jesus had indeed been come to by both Al Borges and Denard Robinson. Borges put his head down and rammed various players into the line; Robinson threw the ball away once and pulled the ball on the read option lots.
How long will it last? Ask again later. This was an easy game to get away from your comfort zone as a playcaller, what with the enormous lead and the instant success and the 9.8 YPC from the quarterback. When things get tight and boredom threatens to send Michigan into a grim Big Ten loss with both teams in the teens, will Borges and Denard be able to find a middle ground that does not lead to crippling interceptions? Will folks be blocked, will throws be on, will anything be anything?
We've seen these moments before, moments where Michigan dials it back for Denard. Once that works and everyone's feeling good about themselves, the playbook sets to exploring the exact contours of Denard's competency, usually with slate gray results. Trash Tornado. Iowa. Etc.
At some point this year Michigan may be forced into dropping back and throwing over and over again; let's make sure we give the leisure suit offense every chance to succeed before flinging the doors open to this modernity business. Given the state of the league there's a pretty decent chance that gold chains and chest hair are all you need to make reservations in Pasadena.
Boring, Boring Bullets
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point of the week. This could go to Denard Robinson, obviously, but in the aftermath of a 213 yard performance by the opposing offense it feels more appropriate to hand it to Jake Ryan, whose sack leads this column. He picked up a second TFL, as well; more importantly he was tasked with sitting out on the perimeter against trips sets and annihilating anyone who took a step backwards in preparation for a WR screen.
Purdue was so discombobulated by this their WR-screen-heavy offense was reduced to a series of short passes in front of JT Floyd that were unsustainable as a method for driving the field. Ryan's performing at an All Big Ten level, easy.
Honorable mention: Al Borges (running the damn ball), Brady Hoke (for establishing the tone on the first drive by going for it on fourth down and likely for sitting Borges down and saying "get the gold chains, Al, and run the damn ball"), Denard Robinson (for running the damn ball), Kenny Demens (six solo tackles including the key stuff on Purdue's first three and out), defense in general.
Epic Double Point standings.
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass), Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama)
I be like dang. When you only throw 16 times, your freshman tight end is not going to get a ton of looks but um guys I think he's pretty good anyway.
That's Funchess's third and long catch that set M up on the goal line, which was impressive on the TV and more so in that shot. Mandich watch still won't return this week—may not return until Michigan has completed the Denard era if the ground game keeps this pace up—but I'm pretty sure he'll get there even with a freshman year detour into a 1970s offense.
Funchess did get pushed out of bounds on a long wheel route later, but I'm not sure if that's on him or just excellent coverage by the Boiler safety checking him.
Shoeless Shoelace. I don't remember more than one or two incidents in Denard's career where his shoe actually came off until this year, when it seems there's a 50-50 shot that any long run will feature one of Denard's socks. Tighten up that velcro, man.
Denard given time. …makes better decisions, and he's often given time because of his legs. Your nervous "oh God is Denard going to throw an INT" sickness was finally—at long last, sir—unnecessary, as on third and long Michigan just dropped back and threw, no funny stuff. The Funchess catch above saw Denard step forward in the pocket and shoot that ball in between three defenders:
Rollouts probably can't be dumped entirely but reducing them, as they were reduced in this game, is a good idea.
If someone on the schedule can stop Michigan's offense from the Purdue game and put up enough points to win, tip your cap and say "well done." I'm not sure anyone in the Big Ten eligible for the postseason can do both.
The Fitz issue. I don't know, man. I think some of his ineffectiveness was on Denard, who gave when he should have kept a couple times. Some of it was on the line, which was not getting creases except when the veer made it easy to do so. And some of it was on Toussaint, who got impatient and started going BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE.
There was a particularly egregious instance in the second half where the line had gotten decent push and he could have gotten three to five by running up the backs of his linemen; he decided to go backwards around a Lewan kickout and got a yard for his trouble. He is getting impatient.
I'm not sure Rawls is going to be much of a solution because the veer is Michigan's best play and a moose like that is not going to be much of a threat going laterally as that play demands the RB do. I wouldn't mind seeing Norfleet get some cracks at that, though.
As for Rawls, Michigan can fit him into the spread offense. Think Brandon Minor: a lot of plays that go right upfield. Michigan tried a couple belly plays against ND and got defeated by shifts into the 3-4; that shouldn't be a problem going forward and is a way to get a power back going straight downhill at the snap.
Where is the stuff that fits with the other stuff? The one lingering issue with the offense was a lack of play action off the plays Michigan actually runs. I count two first down passes in the entire game(!), one of them a bubble to Gallon, the other a long bomb also to Gallon that was IIRC run from under center. Michigan's other attempt to get a big gainer was a shot at Funchess down the sideline that played off the throwback screen that always works (even when it's deflected).
That was covered pretty well, and I get why. After watching Borges for a year and a half he has a tendency to iterate through different things you can do with a new (or recycled from a while back) package. He runs that fly sweep off the veer look, then runs the veer, then runs play action. He runs the throwback screen, then runs play action off that throwback screen. He runs an iso from the gun, then runs play action from iso from the gun. He runs a pitch play, then runs a halfback pass off the pitch. The pattern may be too obvious to get guys wide open downfield.
If you're running play action off stuff you run a lot, not just once, it become a lot harder to say to yourself "okay, this time they're going to fake it." As long as Michigan's staple plays don't have ways to dick with the safeties built in, there will be a lot of Epic Viking Saga drives and not much of the five-play, 80-yard stuff. That could come back to bite M against the better teams in the league.
Here's hoping that Michigan has it but decided to keep all that stuff under wraps for another week since there was no point at which Michigan needed to do anything other than choke the game out after the Taylor INT. I'm still waiting for Michigan to get a wide open dude way downfield.
Speaking of that bomb to Gallon. I'm just like man you gotta be a half-foot taller there, Jeremy Gallon. No excuse for still being 5'9" as a redshirt junior.
Raymon Taylor entered a "free touchdown" coupon code. The game swung from plausible matchup to laugher on the fourth and two on which TerBush throws high and the WR deflects it directly to Taylor's meh coverage for a touchdown—that's 14-7 or 14-3 versus 21-0 and kind of a big deal. Given the yardage disparity, not enough of a big deal that it could have flipped the game but it is a big swing.
Holy pants defense. Film necessary to be sure but the DL kept those linebackers clean and kept contain, which led to a lot of nice sticks in or around the LOS. Kenny Demens set the tone when he shut down an outside run that looked like it was going to pick up a first down for the Boilers; he was allowed to do so because the DTs didn't allow anyone to get to him on the second level. Funny how he looks like a better player when he's not getting cut by multiple 260 pound Air Force guys on the same play.
Purdue's rushing output in this game was awe-inspiringly terrible. Restore seventeen yards lost on two sacks and Purdue still only gets to 73 yards on the day, barely over three yards a carry.
Purdue's only other relevant datapoint comes against a Notre Dame defense that's looking elite after a 41-3 stomping of Miami. Remove sacks and Purdue averaged 4.3 yards an attempt there—point Michigan.
Illinois hasn't put up more than 14 against a BCS opponent yet and have only managed to crest 300 yards once, that thanks to an 87 yard drive at the end of the Penn State game while down 35-7, so expect another outing like the last two before the Michigan State and Nebraska games define Michigan's season.
Kickoff WTF. The wind was not a factor Saturday so why did Wile cease booting things deep into the endzone? Did he get tired? Is he inconsistent? Is Michigan doing this on purpose for some reason, like maybe forcing a turnover when a returner tries to make a tough running catch?
We saw Michigan start screwing around with kickoffs in the UMass game, put all available into the endzone against ND, put all available into the endzone against Purdue until Michigan was up 14, and then more screwing around. Tentative guess is that it's experimentation with the new rules and that wind permitting we won't see anything fancy tried against MSU or Nebraska unless they've got something in their pocket.
A shorter version:
Bryan Fuller's full photoset can be found in a previous post.
Denard didn’t throw any interceptions, and actually threw a ball out of bounds. Whoo-hoo!!!
Remembering the Touchdown Rabbit.
I think it was easy to believe that "Bad Denard" was going to show up because we only tend to remember the last thing we have seen. But Denard's apology after the Notre Dame game, and all of the right things we heard from the team and the coaches during the bye week* brought me to the conclusions that this was going to be an OK day. It didn't make me any less fearful about the game, but I had staked out my position ahead of the game on that ground.
I'm all like man how do you even get Bad Denard when he throws 16 times. It's a lot harder, at least.
Also I can't agree with this bit from Touch The Banner…
Denard Robinson zone read anger. Twice in this game, Robinson held onto the ball too long before pulling it out of the running back's stomach. The first time it worked okay for him because he gained a bunch of yards, even though his running back (Toussaint or Smith, I can't remember) got smoked. The second time it was disastrous because he got Smith crushed and, oh yeah, Robinson fumbled the ball in the process. He gains a lot of yards because he's a dynamic runner, but he's never been adept at running those plays.
…when yanking the ball from his running back was something he did three times for huge gains on the veer. Michigan stayed away from a lot of reads when he was a sophomore and then de-emphasized them when Borges came in; we haven't been given a chance to see what would happen if he is put in a situation where he's doing it all the time. Probably too late now, but declaring anger after ten yards a carry against a DL featuring a first round pick that held ND to like 50 yards rushing… uh.
JAKE RYAN – After watching #47 do his thing again, one word came to mind – MANSTER. In the late ‘70s, Bob Ufer recalled how UM D-Tackle Chris Godfrey was called “manster” by fellow wolverine Ron Simpkins. Why manster? He was half man, half monster. Jake Ryan – ‘nuff said!
Michigan came out and did exactly what I hoped it would do: run, run, run. In my preview post for this game, I predicted (hoped, really) that Borges would call a run-heavy game, something to the tune of a 65:35 run-pass split. The Gorgeous One blew that figure away, with Michigan running it 51 times (not including the kneel downs) and passing only 16 times, good for a 76:24 run-pass split. It was the perfect gameplan for a team like Purdue: good tackles and good corners (with good playmaking ability) but not much else, particularly at linebacker, is basically a flashing neon sign saying RUN DENARD.
This game was also another building block in the not-so-straw house of Michigan's defense. This Boilermaker offense, while not prolific, is still the most recent team to score an offensive touchdown on Notre Dame and had properly rolled the cupcakes you would expect from a good offense (48 against Eastern Kentucky, 54 against Eastern Michigan, and 51 against Marshall). Putting aside Raymon Taylor's gift pick-six* Michigan held Purdue to just 56 yards on 26 carries (2.2 YPC) and only 157 yards through the air on 23/35. Perhaps the most promising stat of the game is that Michigan's top four tacklers were all front-seven guys (Kenny Demens, Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan, and Craig Roh). Michigan was controlling the line of scrimmage and hitting Purdue ball carriers at the point of attack. When Jordan Kovacs only makes one tackle in a dominating defensive performance, you know things are looking up.
Linking this just for the bizarre headline:
Pur"don’t": A Gravy Train With Biscuit Wheels
iseewhatyoudidthere.jpg AND lolwutpear.jpg in the same headline: well done.
Purdue POV. As you might imagine, the Purdue folk are not taking Saturday well. Purdue: Saturday :: Michigan : Alabama game.
From the opening drive by Michigan yesterday Purdue was simply outmanned, outclassed, and quite frankly outcoached. Purdue looked lost on offense for much of the game and seemed completely baffled that Denard Robinson was running with the ball. Everyone knew coming in that Robinson was THE GUY that Purdue needed to stop in order to defeat Michigan. Purdue failed miserably to do that. Robinson ran for 235 yards in the game. That’s more yardage than Purdue had on offense. Wrap your head around that.
That was an embarrassing display in Ross-Ade Stadium this afternoon. Truly shameful. There's simply no way Michigan is that much better than Purdue. And to lose like that at home? In the first conference game of the season? When there are high hopes and getting off to a good start could quite possibly catapult you into the Big Ten title game? Much more easily than in most years? To come out like that and just stink up the joint so disgracefully?
Aaand Boiled Sports:
If you didn't watch it, congratulations. Those hours that you spent coaching your children, watching better football, gardening, painting, napping or hunting for the perfect pumpkin were hours well-spent. But the three hours that I spent in one of my favorite places in the world, I'll never get back.
Postgame thread from Hammer And Rails:
I love Purdue football and basketball like a battered spouse loves their abuser, which is why I continue to spend my hard earned money to watch games like Saturday’s debacle. I am more disappointed for the program and students than anything. This was a chance to get some fans back. This was an opportunity to win some hearts and minds. No such luck. The fact the game wasn’t sold out was sad. The michigan fans sitting behind me were semi-mocking the stadium and number of fans and I could say nothing because they were right. …
I don't know why some of you guys have to hit the special ed kid in the face. BE NICE.
MSM stuff. Michigan is ranked in the AP poll. I'm not sure where but probably first. Air Force and getting pounded by Alabama still distorting Michigan's pass D stats. Michigan had lots of time of possession, so therefore they outgained Purdue 2-1. I'm pretty sure that's the direction it goes.
Hoke is grumbling about penalties in the manner of an affronted walrus:
"We had some bad penalties, really three dumb penalties," Hoke said. "We don't want to play football that way."
This is a good sign when you have four penalties all game.
Grades of A for everyone! Except you, Fitz. Angelique suggests that maybe the defense is okay. Denard ties Ron Dayne for most B10 offensive player of the week awards. M-MSU won't have a set gametime until October 20th. Also Joe Rexrode should explore the "rotate" option in his friendly local paint program.
ESPN predicts M to the Rose Bowl.
News bullets and other important items:
- Man it is awfully humid outside.
- UPDATE: Iss gon' rain.
“Thanks for coming out. We had a really, really good practice yesterday. Really liked the speed, tempo that we practiced with. Liked the execution from an offense and defensive standpoint. When you look at mistakes or missed assignments or whatever, had very minimal of those. Competed really well with each other, and I thought it was a good day. Now we have to come back and have a [good] back-to-back [practice].”
Taylor Lewan said you had an unusually high number of mistakes (23) on offense. What do you attribute that to?
“Yeah. And I don’t know if it was quite 23. There was a number of them from different guys and different plays. Some of that is you look at how much you’re doing. Maybe you have too much in, maybe they don’t undersatnd it well enough, but for a lot of it, we’re playing at night, you get a little extra time with walkthroughs. I think it always comes down to your focus on every play. When you don’t do that you’re not going to play as well.”
Notre Dame has a very good defensive line, possibly great. If they still had Aaron Lynch holy pants man. They don't, but Tuitt is a 300 pound pass rusher, Nix is hard to move, and their Kapron Lewis-Moore/Prince Shembo combo at the other DE is a quality option. They've been making a lot of plays so far, and some of them against Lewan, who has a bunch of NFL hype and has shut down virtually every DE he's ever gone up against, including guys like Adrian Clayborn.
So Michigan was up against it against the Irish. They compounded those troubles with a spate of seemingly bizarre play calls that made it even harder for Michigan to execute since they often left key players unblocked, with the results you saw.
Here's a two yard run in the second quarter. It's first and ten on the first play of Michigan's first drive after the Smith interception. ND comes out showing a four-man front with one-high coverage, but will shift into their standard 3-4. Zeke Motta, currently 16 yards off the LOS, will approach the LOS for an eighth run defender against eight players in the box.
Post-shift, this is about standard for ND. Note that the secondary is showing extremely soft man coverage on the receivers, which is par for the course when you are in cover zero with three converted offensive players. Or at least, I'd imagine it's par for the course if anyone else ever did this.
Now, you may be thinking "AAAAAH DAMN AAAH BUBBLE." I am too. The defense is allowed to align like this because Michigan won't take a shot at that gooey soft edge. Constraint plays constrain what a defense can do, simplifying life for QBs. Here we've got a play, and it's a run despite the D showing a cover zero look.
On the snap it's revealed to be an inside zone play…
…but Lewan does something unusual by flaring out to go block Shembo as Denard reads Lewis-Moore. Meanwhile, look at Toussaint's upfield angle of attack:
This was supposed to be a midline type read. When ND showed a four-man front, Nix was shaded outside of Mealer. He would hit the frontside A-gap, allowing Barnum to release into the second level. Instead he's head up on the center and fights back, forcing Barnum to try and deal with him.
What Michigan thought it was doing
Meanwhile, Lewan's flare out on Shembo was supposed to be useful. Instead he's blocking a contain guy on a run up the middle. Lewis-Moore is not tearing up in a gap like a one-gap DL would but coming upfield under control.
So instead of a quick hit that got Michigan past the DT they get this:
Which is two yards thanks to an unblocked LB in the middle of where your belly is supposed to go.
This Looks Familiar
Denard's second interception is a terrible throw helped along by a totally unblocked Te'o as Barnum tries to help on Nix.
Terrible throw and all that but also not a shining example of coordinator mastery. This is a position to fail in, when you can't step into your throw because you'll get hit if you do so.
Things and Stuff
RB angle gives you the intended hole. Look at how vertical Toussaint is going. This is designed to go backside.
Checks: none. Once ND shifts to the three-man front, this play is in trouble, and once Motta slides down you're up against zero safeties. This would be a nice time to check. To what? Well, you are maybe probably getting some yards if Lewan changes his assignment and releases directly into that LB, or, you know…
…that OLB has eyes only for the backfield, so you've got one guy within twelve yards of the slot receiver. Who isn't a slot receiver, sure.
Since this was the first play of the drive I assume there was time to do this after the shift; nothing comes. This might be on Denard, or there just might not be a check for this. Rodriguez took that check burden onto himself with those plays where Michigan would call for a snap and then everyone would look to the sideline.
Constraints: none. A little later Michigan will block a QB sweep well but Motta will show in the hole as an unblocked eighth guy. Denard will abort and get three. ND again went cover zero with pudding soft outside coverage:
They're sitting out there waiting to give you their money! It's not the stupid little bubble itself that helps—though the yards from 2-8 averaging about 6 aren't bad—but the things that the defense can't do because they can't align with their secondary in Bolivia and bring down a run defender that erases your numerical advantage.
This alignment cannot be allowed to exist without a quick easy throw that invalidates it. Have we mentioned that both corners are converted offensive players? And one is a freshman?
Oy OL. Note that Nix not only drew a double but ripped through it to the backside hole, and that Tuitt has gotten inside of Schofield with ease. It may have been possible to get some yards here by getting Nix sealed and hitting a gap further to the playside, but none of that happens. I haven't gotten to the bit where Michigan just grinds on them yet, but so far there have been a lot of plays like this where Michigan OL get nowhere with their guys.
Why are we running a play that seems designed to go at a 4-3? ND will go to it but they are a 3-4 at heart and when they show a four man line it's usually short yardage or a passing down. I would expect an incoherent play like this to fire off when ND is giving Michigan a 4-3 curveball instead of the 3-4, especially after Michigan spent two weeks preparing exclusively for this defense. That Lewan flare-out is deadly to this play because Barnum has to help on a NT who is not shaded—and is rarely shaded. Meanwhile that guy on the edge is not a threat to Toussaint. RPS –1.
It was there for the taking.
It was there when Michigan had a first-and-goal on their third possession, when Vincent Smith—yes, Vincent Smith—threw an interception in the end zone.
It was there on each of the next four drives, each ending with a Denard Robinson interception.
It was there when—despite the above—Michigan faced just a ten-point deficit on their first possession of the second half, when they drove to the Notre Dame 16, only to lose a Robinson fumble.
It was there when the defense forced a do-or-die third-and-four with 2:35 on the clock, only to see Tyler Eifert beat J.T. Floyd down the sideline for a 38-yard completion.
In a game that felt like karmic retribution for the last three years, however, Michigan never seized control, instead making error after crippling error until there were no more errors to make. The defense did everything in their power to overcome the offense, holding Notre Dame to just 239 yards on 4.8 yards per play and forcing two interceptions of their own. They could not stop Robinson from turning the ball over, though, and in the end it was a triumphant Tommy Rees kneeling the clock out.
The turnovers overshadowed a stellar defensive effort, one that will sadly be forgotten in the aftermath. Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson was completely ineffective, completing just one fewer pass to Michigan (two) than he did to his own team. The Irish rushing attack never got going, gaining 94 yards on 31 carries. Jordan Kovacs (7 tackles, 1 TFL) and Jake Ryan (5 tackles, all solo) both turned in outstanding games. With no margin for error, however, all it took was two poor plays on third downs—a pass interference by freshman Jarrod Wilson on the goal line and the final pass to Eifert—to foil an otherwise textbook Mattison game.
On offense, the bright spots are fewer and farther between. Fitz Toussaint finally got some holes to run though and looked like his nimble 2011 self when he found them. Roy Roundtree make a few crucial catches after largely disappearing from the offense this year. Al Borges added a promising wrinkle when Devin Gardner took an end-around only to throw downfield to fullback Joe Kerridge, drawing a pass interference on the opening drive. That's about it.
As I'm sure will be said ad nauseam in the coming bye week, all of Michigan's goals are still within reach. The Big Ten is awful and still very much there for the taking. If the Wolverines are to seize that chance, however, they'll have to be far more opportunistic than they were tonight, when a fourth straight victory over the Irish slipped through their fingers and into the hands of a team more willing to take advantage.
Formation notes: Nothing particularly new from Michigan except the Norfleet-end-around thing, which I just called 2-back. The plays run from it are being called "triple veer" since there's a third option there, not that I think any of these things are reads.
This was early; Dileo did not come in motion. Same formation plus Norfleet coming in == triple veer series against UMass.
Funchess means a lot more 2 TE formations. Reminder: TV never shows substitutions so I'm usually just describing the formation for the defense here, not the personnel. IIRC UMass was in 4-3 personnel the whole time; sometimes they would commit a LB to the slot, which I called nickel.
Substitution notes: Also nothing too unusual. Kwiatkowski was the starting TE and did pretty well; Funchess saw a lot of time; the usual WR rotation occurred. When Michigan pulled Lewan late they made the same flip they did at the end of the Alabama game, moving Schofield to LT, Omameh to RT, and inserting Burzynski at RG.
As promised, Hoke did not put any of the freshman linemen on the field. At this point we know who the staff is trying to redshirt. On offense those folk are: Braden, Kalis, Magnuson, Bars, Chesson, and Johnson. Norfleet, Funchess, Williams, and Darboh are playing.
|M35||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||3|
|Funchess off line, both TEs in two-point stance. Implies pass. M runs, shooting Funchess backside and sending Kwiatkowski to the frontside. Blocking bust as Barnum(-2) does not ever pop off the DT he is doubling with Mealer; unblocked LB in the hole. Kwiatkowski(-1) gets stuck between cracking down on this guy and trying to get a DB, eventually doing neither; Lewan(+1) gets big movement on his kickout when Toussaint(+1) bounces it outside. Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) had gotten nice movement on the backside.|
|M38||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||13|
|Omameh(+1) seals the UMass DT inside quickly, allowing Schofield(+1) to move out on a linebacker without delay. Either the hand or the keep works here; Denard(+1) keeps and manages to run through an ankle tackle attempt. Funchess(+1) is inline here and releases downfield, getting a block on a safety at about ten yards after running a fake dig. Barnum pulled through the hole but took a line way outside and did not block the last dude, the FS, who tackles. Denard is riding this mesh point longer [BWS].|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Sprint counter||Toussaint||7|
|MLB reads the Schofield pull and immediately starts heading for wherever he's going. SLB also reads the play and gets into the intended hole before Dileo can crack down on him. Mealer(+0.5) got a free release and pushes the MLB past where he wants to go, but Toussaint doesn't have anywhere to go on the playside. Omameh(+1) has blasted the backside DT back, though, and Funchess(+0.5) escorts a DE way downfield—mostly the DE being bad, not Funchess devastating him. Toussaint(+1) cuts back ably, juking a filling safety to his butt and picking up a nice gain. RPS -1? Nah, but I thought about it.|
|O42||2||3||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||TE Out||Kwiatkowski||16|
|Safety rolls down for eight man front, slot CB tight on the line. Both linebackers run right at the LOS on a straight dropback, Kwiatkowski comes wide open, Denard hits him, easy conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1) Kwiatkowski gets some YAC by running through a tackle.|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||PA TE Seam||Funchess||26|
|This is my candy now, baby. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). BWS picture pages.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q. I say, these chaps don't appear to be very good.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||14|
|Or LAZER, whatever. LB two yards inside of Gallon who takes off at the run on the snap, M throws the bubble, which is wide open. Gardner(+1) dominates the CB out of Gallon's way and it's an easy first down. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||-1|
|Mostly on Toussaint(-2). Kerridge takes on the playside DE a couple yards in the backfield, and Omameh goes upfield of that. Toussaint goes outside when a quick cut upfield is definitely positive yardage, possibly lots. Mealer(+0.5) had locked out a DT, Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) blew up the other guy. Instead Toussaint runs into an unblocked LB. Well... maybe. This does seem to be asking a lot of him to make a cut when he's going outside so clearly. But with Kerridge where he is Omameh has no shot of getting outside effectively and it's never a good idea to bounce when you have to go around stuff.|
|O41||2||11||Ace twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||PA Fly||Gardner||Inc|
|They're on to us: this is our passing formation. UMass brings both safeties up and the MLB reads the pull, shooting outside. Barnum's pulled and has two guys to block in space. He doesn't really block either. Denard has two options with his short stuff covered: bomb it against cover zero or start running around. He chooses the latter, missing Gardner by a few yards. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)|
|O41||3||11||Shotgun trips TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Rollout Fly||J. Robinson||Inc|
|A three-part flood on which the deep corner opens up. JRobinson is open as the CB to that side comes up on Roundtree's route, so Denard fires into the endzone. JRobinson is looking over both shoulders and may be able to do better than this, but Denard did leave it too far inside. It's still decent for a 40-yard pass. JRobinson has a shot at at a one-handed spear, but the S rakes it out. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||2|
|Barnum(-2) falls, allowing the DT right up the A gap. Toussaint manages to squeeze for a yard or two.|
|O43||2||8||I-Form 3-wide tight||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle drag||Gallon||Inc|
|UMass suckered and this will get turned up for a first down; Denard just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|O43||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch tight||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Hitch||Funchess||8|
|Lots of time as UMass sends three. Denard finds Funchess at the sticks and zips it in there, hard and low. This is between two defenders so I'll give Denard the benefit of the doubt. We don't get a replay, unfortunately, so I can't tell how good of a catch this is. I will go with my initial thought that is was really good. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||20 (Pen -0)|
|Backside DE does not contain, so Denard pulls. Neither LB to that side is scraping over the top, and then the playside guy is staring right at Denard with the ball and still runs away. Denard again ditches a shoe and still gets outside for a big gain. Uh... I guess Denard +1 for the read, but this was free yards from a bad, bad D. Roundtree(-1) gets a dubious holding call, but just let go, man.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|O40||1||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Pass||Screen||Toussaint||17|
|Both of the UMass LBs to the playside move towards the LOS as they see the OL release, but they move inside, which is not a good idea. Toussaint ends up in a ton of space; Barnum(+1) gets a block in space but I'm not sure he even needs to. Toussaint(+1) jukes a safety and picks up the first down; a second juke attempt at the sideline gets him tackled awkwardly. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1).|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||QB iso||Robinson||5|
|Barnum's guy fights inside of him, which is not a real good idea when you don't have any LBs behind you. Robinson cuts behind that as Lewan(+0.5) as eliminated the end; Toussaint(+1) gets through the other hole and redirects into a filling safety. Denard's cutting behind that when Barnum's guy tackles. I'm a little leery about Barnum's role in all this but I'll forgo the minus. Mealer(+0.5) got a nice release into the MLB and Omameh got some push on the other DT.|
|O18||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||7|
|I think they've worked on the veer the past couple weeks. Denard's riding it longer and the FB, here Kerridge, is flaring out immediately so that that DE cannot take him out. Kerridge(+1) books for the playside LB and blasts him; Denard(+1) reads that the end is not containing Toussaint and gives. That's about it. A safety fills; Toussaint(+1) moves the pile another three yards.|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||11|
|This seems like a blown read by Denard(-1) as they block the backside OLB and let the 3-4 DE free. He hugs Schofield's back and shoots down the line, so Denard is one on one with the safety for six. He gives anyway. The line has caved in the Minutemen but Toussaint(+2) has to run away from the DE and finds a hole outside. Safety fill is going to take him down after two yards but he busts a tackle and tiptoes down the sideline for six. Lewan(+1) got the movement that created the gap; Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the backside DT and erased any potential LB pursuit.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||PA quick seam||Dileo||66|
|The usual. Linebackers suck up, Smith wide open behind them, etc. Denard's throw is a bit in front of Dileo but not too bad; Dileo makes a nice catch and keeps his feet, stiffarming a safety down but getting caught from behind by one of their linebackers. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +2)|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||5|
|Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blow up the playside DT, and that's about it. Barnum had some issues with his guy but managed to fend him off; Smith(+1) was decisive.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M12||1||10||Shotgun twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||4|
|This is probably a called play and not a read as there is no unblocked player. The run fake takes out the linebackers but UMass is run blitzing their FS right into the hole. Denard(+1) jukes him and is about to hit the jets when an OLB who stunted through clean makes a shoestring tackle. Oooooh. Too bad. Schofield(+1) blew up the playside DT; Kwiatkowski(+0.5) kicked the other guy well. RPS -1, but I like the creativity. Without this call on this is a nice gain.|
|M16||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Out||Jackson||INT|
|The fugly INT. If accurate this is a fine idea. It's not accurate. Also insert complaints about Jackson separation, or lack thereof. (INX, 0, protection N/A) Wow... on replay this route sucks. Jackson's post fake is basically vertical.|
|Drive Notes: Defensive Touchdown, 21-10, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||6|
|Giving it by alignment, M takes it. Aggressive DB gets upfield of Gardner and manages a shoulder tackle that gets Gallon off his feet. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M31||2||4||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||24|
|UMass puts one of their LBs over the second slot guy and goes six in the box, thus opening this up. The power of a stupid little play. UMass gets out of a lane and this opens up big. Toussaint(+1) gets a good LB block; Dileo(+1) does work on another LB, and Mealer(+1) gets a safety in space. Robinson(+2) sets his blocks up well and sets sail before that #9 again prevents a Michigan TD.|
|O45||1||10||Ace twins||1||2||2||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||25 (Pen -15)|
|LB blitz sent and picked up by Toussaint, who goes low. Mealer is backing out of a block and makes contact at the same time, which draws a chop block flag because they're throwing that on anything that even vaguely resembles a cut block with two guys. Unfortunate. That pickup gives Denard a ton of space, which he decides to use. Please be a trend. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|M40||1||25||Ace trips bunch||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||12|
|Always works; works. Lewan(+1) donkeys the corner, Gallon goes outside, safety fills. (CA, 3, screen) RPS +1? Sure.|
|O48||2||13||I-Form twins||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||6|
|Lewan(+1) blows one DT off the ball; Barnum(+0.5) finishes sealing him. Williams(+0.5) takes on a DE, then moves to the second level, passing the DE off to Kerridge. Williams can't quite lock that LB out, though, and he falls to tackle Smith just as he's breaking through to the secondary with Omameh(+0.5) as a safety-destroyer in front of him. Potential TD otherwise.|
|O42||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||Okie||Pass||Drag||Gardner||42|
|UMass sends the house. Unblocked guy right up the gut who Smith blows up, allowing Denard time to step around and up into the pocket. Everyone else is taken care of. Gardner's drag has taken him past a LB; Denard hits him. Gardner then just barely outruns #9 (who can play) and tiptoes the sideline for a spectacular TD. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3, special Smith commendation issued)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-10, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M45||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||8|
|DL overplays to the playside here and the WLB is sucked out to the corner because Denard must be contained. Toussaint(+1) finds the cutback after Omameh(+1) shoots an aggressive DT past his hole. Schofield(+0.5) walls off the backside DE. Barnum and Mealer(+0.5) each combo to the second level.|
|O47||2||2||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||10|
|Barnum(+1) has a one on one matchup with playside DT and gets motion on the guy, driving him back a couple yards. SLB runs himself outside aimlessly. Williams and Lewan double playside DE and kick him out; would like to see Lewan climb to second level but this may be short yardage approach. Toussaint(+1) beats a filling safety to the edge and turns a first down into a small chunk. Mealer(+1) got a free release and beat up the MLB.|
|Nice play by the MLB to find the hole immediately, shooting past Mealer's block and arriving to tackle just as Kerridge is kicking out the SLB. Mealer(-1) could have taken a better angle to the second level, but this is mostly an RPS -1. Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) had provided a nice big hole with one on one blocks.|
|O36||2||9||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Pass||Waggle throwaway||Roundtree||Inc|
|Everyone covered; LB specifically containing this play. Denard pumps and escapes outside, then just dumps it as he nears the LOS and it becomes clear he doesn't really have a running lane. Assumption is this was just putting the ball in the turf. (TA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O36||3||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||36|
|Has forever as UMass rushes three, then sends a spy late. Denard eventually decides to use those feet things, at which point laughter happens. Kerridge +1 for getting the downfield block that ends any chance of pursuit. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2, Denard +3 on ground)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-10, 4 min 2nd Q. They get it back with 2:02 to go and run a two minute drill.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Wheel||Smith||19|
|Play action with the three WRs running vertical. LB has to sink into the boundary route, opening up a wheel for Smith; Denard floats it in nicely. Smith(+2) then stops on a dime and spins inside the tackle attempt, turning eight yards into 20. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide tight||1||1||3||4-3 even||Pass||Cross||Gardner||Inc|
|Same route Gardner had for a TD. No pressure this time and Denard just misses this one. This was going for 20+ too. (IN, 0, protection 2/'2)|
|M36||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||4-3 even||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||-3|
|Denard appears to be looking for a Jackson hitch. There's a LB under it and he decides against the throw. LB then turns his back to chase downfield; Denard decides to run. Good decision, but he bumps into Mealer before he can get his motor running and falls. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2) Scramble awarded because this was a good idea that went bad; if Denard escapes the pocket he's got at least ten.|
|M33||3||13||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Cross||Dileo||16|
|This one is in between Dileo's numbers; route is a yard or two short of the sticks but the throw allows him to turn it up for the first down easily. No pressure. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||In||J. Robinson||9|
|Has just forever and eventually zings it to JRobinson just in front of a defender. Probably should have looked for Smith, who is abandoned, but he hit the guy so okay. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O42||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Pass||Hitch||Dileo||9 + 15 pen|
|Another pump, this one at Funchess on a little out; he decides against that and nails Dileo on a hitch. Against better opposition these delays may be a problem. Here Schofield(-1) did get beat; Robinson gets a faceful of DE. (CA, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1) This turns into a dodgy flag.|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||QB draw||Robinson||16|
|LBs way back, expecting pass and backing out at the snap. As soon as Omameh(+1) shoves the playside DT way down the line this is easy money. Mealer(+1) got a good downfield block; Robinson(+1) is fast and stuff and knows to burrow behind Mealer. RPS +2.|
|O2||1||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Iso||Toussaint||0|
|Kwiatkowski(-1) does not get any push as a lead blocker and ends up stalemated; Kerridge runs up his back but can't actually contact an opponent, and Toussaint has no crease.|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Penalty||Illegal sub||N/A||1|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Speed option||Robinson||1|
|If this is a real option, Denard should pitch(-1), but doesn't. He gets tackled by a blitzer in too quickly on Lewan(-1), the fumbles(-2) as he reaches out to the goal line. Lewan, or someone anyway, recovers. Ah, hell. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-13, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun trips Te||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||13|
|DE is not containing Toussaint; give. That's about it. Rest of the D is in the box in case Denard keeps. Gardner, Jackson, and Roundtree(+0.5 each) all get okay to good blocks on DBs downfield. RPS +1.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel even||Run||Inverted veer give||Toussaint||11|
|Identical thing to other side. DE does not show hard upfield, give. MLB gets outside of Dileo but for naught as there's a ton of space. Lewan(+1) pancaked the other guy, that's why. Jackson(+1) gets a good extended block downfield and Toussaint(+1) takes what's he's given, accelerating past fallen bodies until the sticks. RPS +1.|
|O17||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||-1|
|UMass slants; this catches Mealer(+1) but surprise but he adjusts to starts shoving the slanter by the play. Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) had comboed the backside DT and climbed to the second level; Toussaint gets past the Lewan block, downshifts to hit this gaping hole... and gets roped down by a hand. Bad luck, that.|
|O18||2||11||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Slant||Gallon||Inc|
|Batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O18||3||11||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel even||Pass||Post||Roundtree||18|
|Excellent time; Denard finds and nails Roundtree on a post the safety probably should have covered but does not. Must have overplayed the route further inside. Not sure if this is too far outside or if Denard is playing it safe but he does hold Roundtree up some. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 49-13, 10 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Toussaint||11|
|Playside DT ends up coming through the line but not sure if that's a big problem since by doing so he gets shoved way past where he wants to be by Mealer(+1). Toussaint cuts behind. Barnum(+1) is doing to the same to the next guy. He cuts behind. Kwiatkowski(+1) has blown the last guy two yards downfield; Toussaint(+2) bursts outside. He anticipates and leaps past the safety's attempt to fill, then jukes a corner, and he's in the clear. Pursuit takes him down at the sticks.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple veer around||Norfleet||14|
|Norfleet on the outside, he motions in and takes a quick handoff. Unblocked DE to that side is playing an inverted veer and lets Norfleet by. JRobinson(+1) cracks down and blows up the playside LB; the press corner goes with him. Gyarmati is leading now and has only the S to block. He does so; Norfleet tries to shoot past him, ankle tackle. Nice play by that S; if he only maintains leverage this might be six points. RPS +2.|
|O47||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||3|
|Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) bury the playside DT. Williams(+1) shoves the DE outside and then comes down on a linebacker; Gyarmati finishes kicking the DE. Barnum(-1) freaks out when Wiliams's guy starts moving upfield and hits him instead of continuing outside. He bounces back off this; Toussaint runs into him. That delay gets safeties involved; Toussaint gets what he can surrounded by white shirts.|
|O44||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 even||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||0|
|DE splits the two runners very well, getting Denard(-1) to keep and still tackling. Barnum(-1) flat lost his guy one on one, straight up, no slant, and he penetrates to prevent any Denard funny stuff.|
|O44||3||7||Shotgun empty TE||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Cross||Gardner||6|
|Back out from heavy pressure look to three man line. Gardner sets up on a hitch and then starts drifting across the field; Denard doesn't like the deeper look and zings it underneath. A tiny bit short of the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O38||4||1||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Rawls||18|
|They've replaced Lewan. Schofield(-0.5) now at LT, he does not get his DL moving and allows some penetration that ends up delaying a pulling Burzynski. Gyarmati(+1) plus a guy on the edge, who does not keep the edge; Rawls(+1) sees that and heads out there. He breaks contain, picks up a bunch of yards, and then lowers the boom on a pretty hefty dude to finish it off.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Triple veer give||Rawls||4|
|Playside DE goes straight at the pulling G and submarines him; Kerridge is trying to seal him inside so that the G can get out but he's got no shot. That's a two for one for the D. Corner is now the contain guy. He sees Rawls has it and is agile enough to crash down to tackle. Rawls takes a hit from the guy Burzynski couldn't block, too. RPS -1, but I like the concept.|
|O16||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Pass||Triple veer PA||JRobinson||Inc|
|Backside DE is going straight for Denard and gets instant pressure. Denard throws off his back foot at an open-ish Robinson and misses. Torn between IN and PR here. He had few alternatives and didn't put up a punt, so PR. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)|
|O16||3||6||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Out||Roundtree||7|
|WCO precision route with Williams taking a corner out and opening up a small window for the conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||4-3 even||Run||Inside zone||Smith||9|
|UMass blitzes from the edge; Kerridge(+1) does a good job to come down on him and clock him, clearing the edge. The edge should be win UMass but the LB just biffs it, taking a crappy angle. Smith(+1) outruns him to the corner and gets in. An RPS -1, probably, but results.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 56-13, 3 min 3rd Q. Backups the rest of the way, including the walk-on OL. Charting ceases.|
Indubitably, I say.
You said these chaps weren't very good after the first drive.
Oh, right. They're not. Let's do the numbers. So I've got these—
[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%|
An easy day with a lot of open guys and a few worrying misses. Those were the INT, the cross to Gardner flung over his head, and the little Gallon drag similarly flung to Tacopants. The fourth one was a bomb on which he was long, which happens. But hey no BRs (UMass covered no one so there could not be any) and some scrambles (UMass managed to both not cover anyone and give up huge running lanes).
As I was saying, indubitably.
BOOM 1987 CEREAL COMMERCIAL
This is burned into my head.
Let's talk about actual things. Denard accuracy monitoring?
Still feeling pretty good about it. Though UMass was actually a slight step back in the Downfield Success Rate metric, its impact on our hypothesis ("Borges + Denard == Tate Forcier passing") is positive since we need more data here.
He's still good for the one or two ARGH NO throws a game nothing will ever get him to stop. Look at those Throwaway numbers: three games, one ball I thought was not an attempt to complete a pass. Four more got filed as scrambles, but that's still a vanishingly low percentage of balls tossed away. Everett Golson doubled that in one game against MSU.
We got some more screens.
Yes, as Heiko's on-going, not-serious-but-actually-deadly-serious bubble/lazer-off with Borges highlights, Denard is throwing more stuff at or behind the LOS. The four throws marked as screens in the last game are almost half of Denard's output from the entire second half of last year.
Bubble bubble yes but there was also an honest to God screen-screen that Toussaint turned up for a bunch. Michigan hasn't been throwing those under Borges because when Denard has tried it he has gotten pressure in his face and launced balls well over the intended receiver's head. Maybe that's technique, maybe it's the fact that he's maybe six foot tall and there is no angle that he can throw the thing that won't get stuffed back in his face and not overshoot the mark dangerously.
On the linked screen above, Michigan actually gets it done by blocking the end and shoving the DT, giving Denard a window. The horizontal aspect also helps prevent disaster—previously a lot of these RB screens were going straighter up the field. I'm still not sure how much that's ever going to be a staple since teams tend not to blitz Denard hard, but having that option is a nice.
Also: throwback. Believe it.
What happened on the next play after that bubble you linked above?
UMass put about five and a half players in the box and got a QB draw in their face for 24 yards. Panacea, no, but an effective play that opens up the rest of your offense when people on the edge are accounted for man-to-man.
Denard doing stuff with legs?
Michigan's been working on the veer. Michigan has moved from a stationary quick pull to the more common hop-hop-hop-decide process where the QB rides that fake as long as possible and only makes a decision when he feels the DE has committed. Even when he doesn't commit that movement and delay gets results on the second play of the game:
You'll notice that the pulling G actually runs by that DE (and then widens out so far that he ends up blocking a guy already being blocked many yards from Denard, so they're not exactly a machine yet).
Michigan's also screwing around with some additions/alterations, like the Norfleet end-around series Michigan broke out in the third quarter.
There the DE is like "veer veer veer" and Norfleet just zooms by him. Once he's outside of that, a big gain is guaranteed. Michigan came back with a handoff and a play action pass off that, neither of which were as successful.
This was kind of like the Minnesota game last year when Michigan test-drove their sprint counter against the twitching corpse of a long-dead opponent. I like seeing new stuff enter the offense, but I'd rather bring it out against Notre Dame. What's the deal with all the secrecy around the program if they're just going to bring out the toys against the UMasses of the world?
Offensive line. 43 runs in this one, so numbers should approach normal… and would if I hadn't chalked up many of the yards gained as UMass being UMass. Remember that it's the ratio that is important for the OL. On a lot of plays they do okay and get a push.
|Lewan||7.5||1||6.5||Dominating in this game.|
|Barnum||7||6||1||Pretty concerning. Fell down some, got straight up beat a couple times.|
|Mealer||9||1||8||Mobility in space a pleasant surprise.|
|Omameh||7.5||-||7.5||Beating up on little guys, but Nix will be a load.|
|Schofield||3.5||0.5||3||Got beat once in pass pro, but fine. Think people got a little panicked because of Alabama.|
|Funchess||1.5||-||-||HE DOES EVERYTHING (against UMass sometimes)|
|TOTAL||39||10.5||79%||Meaningfulness: not meaningful.|
|Robinson||10||5||5||Hit him for the fumble.|
|Toussaint||13||2||11||Did a lot of bouncing, hit a lot of holes, juked some guys.|
|Rawls||1||-||1||Lowered the boom on a pretty big dude.|
|Smith||4||-||4||Spin move was sweet.|
|Kerridge||3||-||3||Insert complaints about scholarship FBs.|
|TOTAL||31||7||24||Gyarmati was also +1.|
|Protection||32||2||94%||Team –1, Schofield -1|
That's what happens when you average almost 7 YPC without a run longer than 36 yards. Note also the near-flawless day in pass protection. Denard had forever, and on that 36 yard run he had two forevers before finally deciding to take off.
So, yeah. Complete obliteration of a foe that can only be obliterated and causes panic if you do not obliterate them. File under necessary and not meaningful.
POWER OL POWER RANKINGSSSSS
Barnum had problems?
Yeah. He fell down a couple times; once he just never popped off a double and exposed Toussaint to an unblocked LB, and late on a veer-type run he got beat straight up. By ND transfer Hafis Williams, so not a total scrub, but from a confidence perspective guys who transferred away from the team you're about to play are not the best guys to beat your OL.
Last game I thought Omameh struggled and Barnum did pretty well, so jury is out on both guards.
Toussaint's pretty good again?
Yeah, man. Independent of the opponent he tiptoed the line for a TD and I love a particular aspect of this zone that cuts all the way across the field. Try to figure out what it is:
If you guessed "the little hop he takes when he perceives that an ankle tackle is coming from behind," you win an MGoPoint.
[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.]
A bit of a fuss was made about Gardner only bringing in 8 of 20 targets this far. I'm missing one, but of my 19 he's got seven with no shot and three really tough ones. It's somewhat about his routes, but I chalk most of that up to "is deep threat".
I've mentioned this already this week, but Dileo is increasingly a guy who I'm comfortable with getting lots of playing time. He's not big, he's not super fast, but he catches everything in his area…
…and has a knack for keeping his feet as he does so. Usual slot-dot drawbacks apply; Dileo adds a fourth or fifth guy who I think is a pretty good receiving option.
QB Oh Noes returns?
A point of order is in… order after I saw a bunch of @replies in the twitter and BWS pointed out the vast open Funchess TD. QB Oh Noes was coined here to specifically refer to plays on which Denard himself takes a step towards the line as part of a run fake and then backs out. The PA fake made here:
Is something RR did a bit but not a ton. Borges, on the other hand, does run it a ton, and did last year as well. Now that he's got Funchess running down that seam expect even more of it.
[Also, BWS points out that Omameh is not quite Air Force-level illegally downfield. Illegal downfield: go for it, OL!]
Special commendation Vincent Smith needs out-of-table love.
"Why isn't Norfleet playing more?" the message boards ask. That is why. Fingerguns Smith.
BONUS: that's the play of which Borges said this:
I’m knocking on wood. I never assume anything, but his footwork is like night and day. He’s pulling balls down now and working up underneath the pocket and taking off and buying beats. He had a play during the game and it was a zero blitz where he got underneath the rush, gave Vince a chance to chip off a blitzing linebacker and threw the ball to Devin for a touchdown. A year ago he would have run backwards, and they’d have chased him for about an hour, and he’d probably end up throwing it out of bounds.
I'm ready to upgrade the Denard Can Throw hypothesis to a theory if he can just do it on Saturday.
BONUS BONUS: Smith spin move swag featuring Denard touch pass.
If you're really mean and stuff, Barnum could have done better.
What does it mean for ND and the future?
Sadly, not much. The worries about the OL will go one way or the other on Saturday and I'm not sure which one it will be. Schofield's going to come in for scrutiny—I'm guessing he handles it fine. More concerned about the guards.
Meanwhile, inching towards the idea that Denard can throw… sidling up to it, not looking at it directly, maybe giving it an eyebrow. Saturday is maybe not an acid test against a young secondary featuring three position switch starters, but after last year yeah it's an acid test. Let's do some stuff not on Gary Gray's back.