Formation notes: I called whatever the heck this is "Nickel rush". The two DT types next to each other stunted, FWIW:
This was "okie one": man to man on the outside with a free safety and six guys on the LOS. Okie was rare.
Substitution notes: Roh and Clark went the whole way save for a drive or two on which Ojemudia spotted Clark. Washington and Campbell got the large majority of the snaps on the interior; Black was pretty marginalized. He seems to only be playing in the nickel package, of which there wasn't much.
The usual ILB rotation went down with Demens and Morgan getting a solid majority of playing time but Ross and Bolden featuring as well. Ryan played every snap, I think. Secondary was Taylor/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon the whole way with scattered nickel plays featuring Avery.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O9||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||Fade||Taylor||INT|
|All day; Taylor jams his guy and ends up losing him deep a little. Golson leaves it short and Taylor(+2, cover push) snags it as he recovers. There was a window here between Taylor and Kovacs that was missed, but it's not the easiest thing in the world. Taylor is sinking in cover two, and you never want to throw over a sinking corner.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Ace||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Cutback zone||Floyd||8|
|End around fake to the boundary and the WR headhunting Kovacs from the start of the play implies this is a designed cutback. Clark(-1) gets pushed way too far down the line and opens it up. Floyd(-1) again totally fails to read a WR cracking down on a block a la Air Force and the corner opens up after Kovacs tries to fill the hole Clark left and gets blindsided by the WR.|
|O33||2||2||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Clark||5|
|Campbell(+1) takes a double and doesn't move, or get sealed, and takes two guys all the way to the end of the play. They're also doubling the backside end, bizarrely, so no second level guys. Wood has to go all the way outside. He gets the corner and I'm not sure if it's Morgan slowing up instead of hauling for the outside or Clark getting sealed inside that's the culprit. I think Clark(-1) since I haven't seen Michigan not use the end as the contain guy.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter||Demens||2|
|This looks grim for a moment as Clark gets sealed inside (ND's game plan is clear) and a tackle pulls around, but a couple of nice LB plays save it. Ryan(+1.5) delays, then jets past a center who got a free release. He comes around him in a flash and shoots up into the interior gap, taking the lead OL. Demens(+1.5) reads it, shoves a slot WR past him, and fills near the LOS.|
|O40||2||8||Shotgun 2TE||Nickel even||Pass||N/A||Sack||Ryan||0|
|Yeah, they didn't credit Michigan with a sack, but I don't care. ND has one guy in this route, and it's not there as Avery(+1, cover +1) drops pack into the slant Eifert is running. Golson starts scrambling. Ryan(+1, pressure +1) grabs him by the ankles as he threatens to break into space and scramble a bit.|
|Golson has a hitch route right at the sticks that is going to be 50-50 depending on whether Taylor can stick the guy right on the catch, but Golson airmails it. Probably a first down.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ross||5|
|Ross in at MLB. He gets a free run as ND goes at Clark(+1) again. This time he stands up to a double and gets a little push, forcing a cut up. Campbell(-0.5) is flowing down the line, too, but eventually gets sealed. Ross can't quite get to the hole and impacts from the side, riding Atkinson to the ground but giving up 3 YAC. Like his decisiveness but not quite there on this one.|
|O25||2||5||Ace 3TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Clark||6|
|ND combos Campbell(+0.5) and gets out on Ross; Campbell comes through the block and shows in the hole, but it's too big and Ross(-0.5) does not funnel to help, but the real issue is probably Clark(-1) getting kicked out too far. He ends up way outside, so even though Ross does get outside of the G eventually he can't shut it down because of the big gap. Floyd and Kovacs fill after the sticks.|
|O31||1||10||Ace twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Clark||4|
|Michigan seems to be running a run blitz here as Clark(-2) pops outside immediately and Kovacs and Ross shoot into a backside hole. Campbell(+0.5) prevented anyone from getting out on Ross(+1), who saw the gap forming and flew up into it. Kovacs(+0.5) also there, and he didn't have to pick a gap. Michigan has this stoned until Clark is pancaked on the edge and the bounce opens up.|
|O35||2||6||Ace 3TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Roh||2|
|Roh(+1) slants outside past the T and gets into the backfield, picking off H-back Eifert and forcing a cutback. Campbell(+0.5) appears to block the guy supposed to get to Morgan on the second level. Morgan has a free run as a result. Bolden(-1) again gets tentative and then fights inside the blocker, momentarily giving Atkinson a lane outside that Morgan(+1) shuts down with a flash of speed. Could have been no gain and a thumping Morgan hit if this doesn't open up outside. Picture-paged.|
|O37||3||4||Shotgun empty||4-3 even||Pass||4||Tunnel screen||Ryan||1|
|Ryan(+3) is sucked out to the edge by the formation. He runs up hard to the outside of the TE, gets that TE moving out to block him, then pulls up short and dives back inside, making a tackle(+1) in space on Riddick as the DL recovers to cut off angles further inside. Great, great play.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||Ace||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Washington||1|
|Washington(+2) shoots under the center and forces a cutback into an unblocked Ryan(+0.5). Campbell(+1) had also gotten push and effectively two-gapped his blocker if the play went playside.|
|M16||2||9||Ace twins||4-3 under||Pass||4||TE seam||Demens||Inc|
|Eifert does beat Demens down the field and is separating as he reaches the endzone, but he's close enough to force a very tough throw out of Golson, who has to drop it over Demens's head before Gordon can get over. He misses. Cover +1.|
|M16||3||9||Shotgun 2TE twins||4-3 even||Pass||4||TE seam||Demens||Inc|
|Roh(+2) roars off the ball and plows over the LT, hitting Golson from behind as he throws (pressure +2). Pass is still amazingly accurate, but Demens(+2,cover +2) is step for step with the TE and there is literally nowhere the ball can be that will be a catch.|
|Drive Notes: FG(33), 0-3, 10 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||Dumpoff||Demens||13|
|No pressure(-2) as Roh oddly makes a fake pass drop before rushing on a a four-man pressure. Clark got off the ball late. Coverage downfield is good but they run everyone off and Demens gets stuck in space with Riddick and that doesn't go great. Considering the situation, Demens(+0.5) does well to hold Riddick relatively stationary until the cavalry arrives. (Cover -1, RPS -1)|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||Dig||Bolden||10|
|Bolden(-1, cover -2) slides out of his zone, opening up a dig route before the safeties. Again little pressure(-1) but it was better this time.|
|M10||1||G||Ace 3TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power||Campbell||0|
|Campbell(+2) slides over on the snap, moving past a couple of DL, one of whom falls. He takes on Eifert head up, sheds him to the inside, and hits in the hole. Roh(+1) had slanted all the way from the backside of the play to help close the hole. Washington(-0.5) ended up blown up a bit but I don't think that's too bad since he got doubled and downblocked.|
|M10||2||G||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||Improv||Gordon||INT|
|Clark(+1) gets a bull rush that spooks Golson even though it's pretty harmless. He gets held so maybe that's why it ends up harmless. Roh(+0.5) also gets held on the edge as he's trying to contain the rollout; he still manages to cut Golson off before he can reach the LOS. Golson makes a decision as bad as Denard's first INT, chucking up a moonball Gordon(+2, cover +2) is in coverage on and intercepts. No one open at all. WTF.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 8 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||TGDCD||Morgan||-3|
|Morgan(+1) reads this all the way and shoots up into the intended hole unblocked, forcing a bounce. Ryan(-1) allowed that to happen by trying to close down and giving a ton of ground; Kovacs(+1) flows up quickly to cut off the outside, at which point Atkinson hesitates and is lost. Kovacs with the open-field TFL(tackling +1). RPS +1; Michigan did not bite on the action.|
|O49||2||13||Shotgun empty TE||4-3 even||Pass||N/A||Improv||Roh||16|
|Dig in the middle of the field is open but Rees doesn't like it for some reason; Campbell(+1) bulls his way into the pocket and spooks Rees out; Roh(-1) loses contain and allows that to happen, at which point the zone has been dragged open by all manner of things. It seems like Bolden is running vertical with a TE, opening it up, FWIW. (Cover -2, Pressure -2)|
|M35||1||10||Ace||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Bolden||2|
|Line makes a very shallow slant away from the play that ends up preventing anyone from getting to the second level. The DTs get sealed away by three guys and Roh ends up taking on two. Bolden(+1) sees the gap forming in front of him and starts flying up into it before the handoff is even made, forcing a bounce; Gordon(+1, tackling +1) fends off a block from a WR, tossing him away, and tackles near the LOS. I'm not even sure which ND player is hypothetically supposed to block Bolden. RPS +1.|
|M33||2||8||Ace||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Roh||3|
|Exact same play. This time Roh is not banging into two guys as M plays it straight. G releases into Demens, single blocking on front. Roh(+0.5) gets some push and comes off to tackle; Washington does the same(+0.5); Demens(+0.5) gets outside of the G and the RB runs right into him thanks to the narrow crease.|
|M30||3||5||Shotgun empty TE||Nickel even||Pass||4||Fade||Taylor||24|
|RT moves a hair early but no call. Taylor(-3, cover -1) is in the right spot to make a play on this ball if he turns around or could just play NOBODY CARES coverage, but when the WR slows up he overruns it a little bit, getting out of position and drawing a PI flag. Catch is made.|
|M6||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Angle||Ryan||5|
|Roh chucks the TE as he comes out of his stance, which slows any pass rush from him considerably. This play looks like a guaranteed quick hitter to the RB, which is caught in front of the zone picket-fencing the endzone. Ryan(+0.5) does get a hit on the RB to make it short of the endzone. (Cover -1)|
|M1||2||G||Ace||Goal line||Run||N/A||Dive||Kovacs||0 (Pen -5)|
|Kovacs(+1) blitzes inside of the tight end and into the middle of the formation, which takes away any lanes there, forcing a bounce. Morgan(+1, tackling +1) and Demens are moving hard to the bounce at the snap, with Morgan chopping Riddick down for no gain. RPS +1. Illegal motion takes it back a little.|
|M6||2||G||Shotgun empty||Nickel under press||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|M11||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||3||Corner||Avery||Inc|
|LBs threaten double A blitz, back out. Michigan's dropping eight into coverage; Avery(-1, cover -1) does not get depth as he's trying to drop to the corner of the endzone with the slot WR and ends up beaten. Ball is overthrown; M escapes.|
|M11||3||G||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Dig||Wilson||Inc (Pen +9)|
|Wilson(-2, cover -1) gets beaten by Eifert in man and holds, drawing a flag. RPS -2, why is M in man coverage with no deep safeties from the eleven? And why is a freshman safety one on one with ND's best WR?|
|M2||1||G||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||QB draw||N/A||2|
|Just one LB in the box and he's too far away; RPS -1. Five guy box against six blockers from the two is not going to go well very often.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-10, 1 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Ace twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Kovacs||0|
|I'm not sure about Clark here. He gets a big push on the RT and forces the back to change directions but does so outside, where Morgan is cut off and Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) is dealing with a WR crackdown. Seems like this is what they want to have happen and Clark needs to flare out to force it back away from blocking. OTOH, Kovacs gets a jump outside early that gets him past the block because Clark forced a quick decision from the back. Okay, +0.5. Kovacs in space, TFL, the usual.|
|O25||2||10||Shotgun empty||4-3 even||Pass||5||TE out||Ryan||Inc|
|This TE out is going to be open as Morgan was tasked with coverage and is way far away from Eifert; an unblocked Ryan(+1, pressure +1) is in the throwing lane and leaps to bat it away. RPS push, I guess? Open guy, blitz did nerf it, kind of risky.|
|O25||3||10||Shotgun empty||Okie zero||Pass||3||Hitch||Floyd||7|
|Michigan backs everyone out; Rees hits a hitch a few yards short of the sticks that Floyd escorts OOB. Cover +1, RPS +1 as Rees ended up throwing this way faster than he had to as he assumed blitz.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-10, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O8||1||10||Ace||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Floyd||15|
|Campbell(+0.5) drives single blocking back, but this is always going way outside so his angle is not tested. Floyd(+0.5) does recognize the crack down this time and comes hard, cutting off the outside and forcing it back; he also gets an ankle tackle in; Kovacs(-0.5), Morgan(-0.5), and Ojemudia are each coming off blocks to hold it down. Would like Ojemudia(-1) to hold his ground better to maybe get this down to minimal yardage, and definitely want him to keep his feet and actually tackle. He ends up on his knees as Wood manages to stay on his feet (tackling -2) and burst for a first down.|
|O23||1||10||Ace||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ojemudia||4|
|Morgan blitzes and threatens to shoot a gap, causing the ND LT to pull off of Ojemudia(-2) just as the TE releases outside to block Taylor. This leaves Ojemudia alone in space with Wood; he gets juked and beat to the outside(tackling -1). Taylor contains. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) fills well.|
|O27||2||6||Ace||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Morgan||2|
|Washington and Campbell(+0.5 each) get playside of their guys and don't give ground; no creases. Roh(+0.5) also makes this true. Ojemudia(+0.5) is in the cutback lane, forcing Wood to feint outside. He hops outside. Morgan(+1) has blown past a block now to show up in the hole and tackles at the LOS.|
|O29||3||4||Shotgun empty TE||Nickel rush||Pass||6||Hitch||Ross||Inc|
|Formation explained above. Michigan sends six, getting Ross(+1, pressure +1) in basically clean and forcing a crappy inaccurate short throw from Rees that's wide of a decently covered WR.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-10, 5 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Swing||Gordon||8|
|Ryan(+0.5) reads it and gets outside the slot TE trying to block him, forcing the play inside to Gordon(-1, tackling -2), who comes up hard and whiffs; Bolden(-1) tries to go upfield of a block and does not get there so there is no support to the inside.|
|O33||2||2||Ace twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ryan||4|
|Washington(+2) blows this play up by slanting and getting under the C. He's into the backfield. Ryan(-1) is not holding the edge well—he's downfield of Roh and not prepared for a bounce and Floyd(-1) is late reacting. He tackles, but really this should be a TFL after Washington forces the bounce.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter||Bolden||5|
|Roh(+1) dives under the G and ends up absorbing the pulling T. That seems like a bust by the T but results based charting. Bolden(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked in a big hole that rapidly constricts and misses a tackle. Morgan(-0.5) got blocked out of the play but he was going to have a hard time with this guy's angle.|
|O42||2||5||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Washington||6|
|ND flips both TEs, M flips in response. Washington(-1) gets penetration but this is a stretch and he gets too vertical, opening up a seam. Campbell(-1) got pushed down field and let a blocker into Morgan. That makes cutback lane that is hit up for first down yardage. If you go upfield of a blocker I will minus you unless you make a play. UFR guarantee.|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 over||Pass||4||Rollout hitch||Floyd||12|
|Actually pretty good coverage by Floyd(+1, cover +1), who breaks on the hitch and has a play on the ball. Unfortunately it's high and he can't quite rake it out. A lower ball and he's got a PBU coming. Great throw or lucky, you make the call.|
|M40||1||10||Ace twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Washington||2|
|Washington(+2) is again boom gone past the center and directly into the frontside hole. He can't quite make a tackle as Wood runs through him as the C pushes him past the ballcarrier. Kovacs(+1) shows up in the cutback hole and puts him to the ground.|
|M38||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Flare||Gordon||5|
|No response to Eifert motion and M's soft zone gives up a lot of room on the edge. This time Gordon(+1, tackling +1) comes up well and tackles. RPS -1.|
|M33||3||3||Shotgun trips TE||Okie one||Penalty||N/A||Offsides||Washington||5|
|M28||1||10||Ace twins||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Clark||1|
|Heaps of bodies, no holes. Washington(+0.5) holds up to a double. Campbell(+0.5) flows down the line. Roh(+0.5) holds up. Clark(+0.5) gets under a blocker and tackles from behind.|
|M27||2||9||Ace twins||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Demens||5|
|Morgan inexplicably starts moving to the field right before the play. M is in full nickel with Roh/Black as DTs and slanting hard to the playside. This does force a cutback; Black(+1) got good penetration; Ryan(-1) ends up buried. LBs both come under blocks as the slant has fouled angles; Demens(+1) does a good job to do this and tackle as Riddick threatens to cut behind this into space. Still a little dangerous because Riddick didn't have to cut it as outside as M wanted with the Ryan fall.|
|M23||3||4||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Demens||1|
|Again the TE flip again the front flip. M seems lucky or prepared this time with Gordon(+1) blitzing off the corner and Ryan(+0.5) slanting inside to pick off a second level guy and get a two for one, allowing Demens(+1, tackling +1) to flow. Gordon forces Riddick inside at the hash and Demens tackles. RPS +1.|
|Drive Notes: FG(39), 3-13, 7 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Ace 3TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power||Morgan||2|
|ND doubles Washington(+0.5) and moves him out of the hole but no one releases, so good job Washington I guess. G pulls around for Demens. Morgan(+0.5) is unblocked in the hole and tackles.|
|O27||2||8||Ace twins||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Campbell||4|
|Campbell(-0.5) gives a little too much ground in his quest to keep Morgan clean, which ends up opening up a cutback lane; Morgan gets blocked by the other guy as the RB comes back. Kovacs fills. There's too much space to shut it down entirely and the block on Morgan prevents him from holding this another yard or two shorter.|
|O31||3||4||Shotgun empty TE||Nickel under press||Pass||5||Fade||Floyd||38|
|Floyd(-2, cover -2) tries to chuck and ends up stumbling as Eifert moves past him, which opens up the fade for an easy completion. Too bad.|
|M31||1||10||Ace 3TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Gordon||-1|
|Gordon(+0.5) walks to the line and blitzes past Eifert; Riddick tries to pop outside of him and is slowed by the tackle attempt. By the time he moves outside, Demens(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) have converged to tackle.|
|M32||2||11||Ace twin TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Demens||2|
|Gordon again just flying up; Demens(+0.5) also flows into the same hole with a tougher assignment; cutback handled by Washington(+0.5), who got a free pass from the line but did take a good angle to close down the cutback lane.|
|M30||3||9||Ace 3TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power||Washington||9|
|Washington(-1) ends up giving up way too much ground on this double, which forces Morgan to hold up in case of cutback and gets him chopped by the center. Campbell(-1) also got pushed back, which gets Morgan's blocker out on him and prevents a scrape. Morgan(-1) does get cut and ends up out of the play. Demens takes on a lead guard and funnels, but to no one.|
|Drive Notes: EOG, 6-13.|
That was rather delightful.
It was. Michigan was one stumble away from holding Notre Dame to under 200 yards of total offense. ND drives started at the Michigan 17, 39, and 48 in the first half and Michigan still gave up a total of 13 points on nine drives (ND had a tenth on which it was not trying to score, FWIW.)
How did that happen?
Well, this ND offense probably isn't very good. Michigan forced a QB switch after Golson's second horrible interception, and neither Purdue or Michigan State had too much trouble shutting down the Irish.
You'd better have a "but…"
Okay: but Purdue gave up nearly 400 yards on 11 drives. ND had 314 on the nose against MSU on 12 drives before kneels took away 14; even if you chalk that long Goodman TD up to punt chuckin' Michigan is about even with what was supposed to be the league's best D, and their performance was on the road instead of at home. Michigan blew up the counter draw MSU fell victim to and the rush yardage comparison goes to M. MSU gave up 4.9 YPC once a sack and some kneel-downs are excised. Michigan gave up 3.3 after taking out a zero yard not-quite-sack on Golson and a knee. Purdue did even better but gave up nearly 300 yards passing to the guy M chased from the game.
It was a bit of a downer that the D couldn't hold at the end when Michigan pulled to within a score twice, but that Michigan was even within striking distance after six turnovers was a little miracle.
You still haven't said how.
I think I need a—
probably pretty dang good CHART
--chart to answer that question.
|Roh||7||1||6||I call him mini-RVB. /self high five|
|Campbell||8.5||3||5.5||whoah whoah whoah|
|Washington||8.5||3.5||5||what what what what|
|Black||1||-||1||Hardly got a snap.|
|Clark||3||5||-2||Targeted extensively, got smashed a bit.|
|Ojemudia||0.5||3||-2.5||Miss in space on Wood.|
|TOTAL||28.5||15.5||13||Take the money and run.|
|Morgan||5||2||3||Solid tackling day, looked pretty athletic.|
|Ryan||8.5||3||5.5||Great tackle on screen.|
|Ross||2||0.5||1.5||Hard to get a lot of PT when the vets play so well.|
|Bolden||1||4||-3||Work in progress.|
|TOTAL||23||9.5||13.5||Combo the DL numbers with the ILB numbers and that's the run D.|
|Floyd||1.5||4||-2.5||Stumble unfortunate, edge softness frustrating.|
|Avery||1||1||0||Rarely appeared since ND so TE heavy.|
|Taylor||2||3||-1||Had a play on the fade he gave up but didn't make it.|
|Kovacs||5.5||0.5||5||Excellent on edge. No deep stuff on S.|
|T. Gordon||7.5||1||6.5||Also quality.|
|TOTAL||16.5||11.5||4||Safeties got a workout and passed.|
|Pressure||5||5||0||This was a little bit of a downer for the DL.|
|Coverage||8||11||-3||Close enough to even.|
|Tackling||9||6||60%||Most of the minuses on two bad runs.|
|RPS||5||5||0||The Wilson PI does grate.|
So, like, yeah. I pulled out that Picture Pages on the linebackers because that was night and day from Air Force, when poor Kenny Demens was picking OL out of his teeth on every play. ND hardly ever got a release and when they did their blocks got beat fairly often.
Defensive tackles! We has them?
Okay, I think ND's interior OL sucks. Sucks pretty hard. Let's put on our caveat berets before we wade in here. Secured? Have your baguette of skepticism prepped? Let's go.
Dang, ND could not single-block these guys. When they tried it Campbell two-gapped dudes and Washington flashed into the backfield. This could have happened last year:
All DL there. Both get penetration and Washington forces a cutback into an unblocked Ryan. A Riddick spin manages to prevent a loss; I'll take it. So ND doubled, and we got results like the ones we saw in the Clean Linebackers picture pages. Occasionally one DT or the other would give too much ground, like on the last run charted. Most of the time they held their ground well enough to make cutbacks awkward and allow linebackers to flow. Like so:
No crease, forced cutback, OL is robbed of his blocking angle, and Morgan gets around him to make the play. There were a lot of half-points handed out for this sort of thing where PLAYS are not MADE but the tailback has nowhere to go. After getting shredded by Alabama, anything approximating quality against a BCS level opponent—one with a veteran line—is welcome.
Washington in particular was impressive with his repeated penetration. He's probably as shocked as anyone about this, so he's continually overrunning things, but whatever, man, he's blowing up blocking. I told you this would happen after UMass! (Pay no attention to the Robinson prediction behind the curtain. Also I didn't really.)
So we're back on the immediate post-Ezeh Demens-is-a-god thing I see.
Hey, man, find a tackle he missed or hole he didn't fill and I'll fire up my minus machine. It's possible his coverage on that Riddick dumpoff was subpar but I chalked that up to RPS because he was one man in all of the space. He managed to hold Riddick basically in place for two moves to limit the damage there.
Meanwhile, Kenny Demens is sneaky good in coverage. This is perfect:
And he flung dudes past him (along with Ryan) to impressively shut down a dangerous looking counter:
Ryan's ability to get around that OL is a squee moment.
Michigan kept guys off their LBs and they responded well. The hesitation was gone, the tackles were made, and everyone said a little prayer of thanks.
Caveat: against a team more likely to screw with your linebackers in a play action game this may go more poorly. ND quickly committed to the run in this game. Teams that can throw a bit are going to make it harder on these guys.
Speaking of Ryan, I'm about two games from declaring him All Big Ten caliber. There's that above and then he shows the same ability to change directions faster than a guy his size should as he comes under the TE on this screen:
I have developed certain rules for grading these things as we've gone along. One is losing leverage == minus… unless you make a play. Ryan would get away with a zero here if he just forced the guy inside of him; instead he gets +3 because of his ability to charge and redirect, which both keeps contain and makes a play. Sometimes he goes a little too far in the "make a play" direction, but M has another 2.66 years out of the guy.
I'd like a bit more pass rush on the edge, please. Other than that, would recruit again A++++.
Little stingy on the Taylor INT, no?
Ah, man, I'm not giving three points unless the coverage is actually blanketed. Golson had room to drop it over the corner. He is sinking and it is a tough throw to get it over a guy, but this was not exactly Woodsonesque.
Later Taylor would blow a coverage on a similar play in which he was in man press on a fade like that, thus his minus, but so far he hasn't been a big problem. Tentatively hoping he'll get through the season well and we get to be pumped up about Michigan's starting corners going into next year. He certainly looks the part athletically.
What about our corners this year?
Floyd stumbling out of a break sucks but it'll happen. I'm more annoyed by the guy is still not coming hard on outside runs on which the receiver is booking for a block along the LOS:
Now, Clark—this is part of ND's Kill Clark gameplan at the beginning of the game—gets blown way down the line and this forces Kovacs to come further inside than is ideal on his contain, because otherwise the RB is going upfield. Okay. That's some yards ceded already.
Floyd is still eight yards downfield when he breaks down to tackle. He should be reading run a lot quicker. At this point I don't think that's in the cards consistently, though he did make a couple good reads late. One was on the 20 yard Wood run, but that wasn't his fault.
Let us all say a prayer of thanks that we can be annoyed about this kind of thing from cornerbacks these days.
Kill Clark, you say?
Clark was obviously IDed as a weak point by the Irish and they spent most of the first quarter running at him. He got blown up a lot. He ends up even with Campbell in the video above, which is bad. (SCIENCE!) In this one he ends up pancaked:
That's a loss thanks to Ross and Kovacs hitting the hole lickety-split if Clark can just hold the corner; he ends up buried. He took a bunch of minuses for that and then ND went away from it because they weren't getting much more than you see on the play above. Also, Clark started getting some upfield push to rescue his day a little bit.
If that's going to be the cost of running him out there you'd like to see some pass rush from him; Michigan did not in admittedly limited opportunities. He got one kind of good rush on which he persuaded Golson to exit the pocket and drew a hold; other than that he was not much of an impact guy. Youth, etc. He's a guy to keep an eye on as one of the remaining wildcards on the D.
Kickoff thinkin': do you have some?
I've gotten some questions about what I thought about Michigan's kickoff strategy at the beginning and end of the second half. To the answermobile!
At the beginning of the half, Michigan is kicking from the 50 after a PF on Notre Dame. Q: should Michigan onside kick? Probably. You're giving up 15 yards of field position for a shot at a turnover. ND had not aligned in a way to discourage that so your chances are pretty decent. Even if they've been told to watch for the thing, the punishment is slight.
Now I have a Q: what would have happened if Michigan booted it out of bounds? The rule says it's 30 yards from where you kicked, which would be the 20. Which is better than a touchback. mindblown.gif
At the end of the game, Michigan has 3:27 on the clock and two timeouts. ND aligns to prevent an onside, and M kicks it deep. The ball hits at the three and squeezes into the endzone. Q: onside? Probably not. With the rule change you have to commit an Iowa-level boner to not recover onside kicks and you have a pretty good setup to get the ball back. ND ended up throwing a bomb on third and four. I'd rather take my chances on that than try to drive from the ten.
Anyone in the front seven other than Clark (and Bolden was iffy). Also safeties.
Stretching: Clark was exploitable on the edge.
What does it mean for the Big Ten season?
Increment your hope meters a good chunk, as getting this kind of play out of the defensive tackles was way above expectation. If they can continue that into league play all of a sudden this defense looks plausible or better, if lacking certain components that would make it truly elite—like a big-time pass rusher.
Meanwhile, the linebackers played well, the safeties played well… I mean, 190 yards of offense before final drive. ND got a couple of chunk runs when Wood was improbably not tackled and a couple of fades were completed; other than that ND got essentially nothing. The line was all but impeccable save for some Clark stuff that only gave up 4, 6, 7 yards a pop. The LBs got to the ball and tackled, and Gordon and Kovacs had one and a half missed tackles between them as they cleaned up.
I'm trying to keep things in check… that performance relative to MSU and Purdue's plus the in-season improvement we saw from a lot of players last year makes it difficult. That game was so far beyond the reasonable best-case scenario that it shifts hopes upward.
Offense? Never heard of it.
Depart posthaste. Go read this Hinton piece on Denard Robinson vs Notre Dame or I swear I will find you and glare at you:
Give us some of that old time Denard Robinson religion
Aside from certain injuries and Colorado's existence, generally, the most depressing moment of the early season is Alabama's crisp, methodical bludgeoning of Michigan on opening night, a lopsided dominance display that confirmed everything we already knew about the Crimson Tide defense as the taker of souls. In this case, the life force the Tide consumed belonged to the most exciting player in the country, Denard Robinson, who was hounded, hit, picked and demoralized by a cold, calculating, perfectly calibrated machine bent on snuffing out any hint of spontaneity or creativity in its path. Pick your synonym: Blowout, rout, trouncing, debacle, shellacking – it was the opposite of a "classic." Mere mortals were not spared.
Vamanos. Please leave him some comments that are not ND sprotstakes.
Also highly recommended. OSU got gashed by Cal on Saturday; Ross Fulton breaks down the various ways in which that happened. Some of it's schematic, with Cal busting outside of OSU formations without a force player. OSU runs the same under Michigan does and they were also aligning it to field like Michigan has been, so that's something I'll be looking out for in the future.
Some of it is Shazier being Shazier. He was at least partially responsible for both of Cal's long rushing TDs. The second:
Oy, –3 right there. The first one was the guy getting way too aggressive and shoulder-blocking a tailback who popped outside. He makes a lot of plays for both teams.
"How to knit a stadium in 15 days." Wot it says on the tin:
This has just become the most intriguing blog post in this site's history for my mother. The above is composed of 2670 yards of Andes Bulky wool, 14 of the skeins "hand-dyed in various patterns to simulate the crowd." This woman is deadly with needles.
Oy. A bunch of emails sent back and forth between NCAA folk in the aftermath of the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit dropping have just been released. Highlights include UNL chancellor Harvey Pearlman telling the group they're totally boned, a Texas administrator coming off very poorly…
"I view these cases as being the result of the entitlement attitude we've created in our revenue sports," Plonsky wrote. "We now have threatening s-a's -- many of whom, based on grad rates of the '80s and '90s, sucked a whole lot off the college athletics pipe -- and now want to buckle the system at the knees of the expense of today's s-a's."
…and the admission that EA puts the student athletes in the game and only scrubs them right before launch.
The picture painted is of a lawsuit that has the NCAA in a panic because they know they're SOL. Which, good. I'd rather have old athletes people remember get some money than "today's s-a's," by which they mean "athletic department employees."
Police work. BWS is also talking packaged plays by looking at something Michigan ran against Air Force that turned into the usual zone, but featured the fake
bubble LAZER on the outside:
This is interesting to me because it was a standard part of the RR offense. This is different in that it's the inverted veer being run, not inside or outside zone, but the bubble attachment is pure RR. I watched a video of Calvin Magee giving a coaching clinic talk last summer and in it there was an interesting discussion of this very thing. Magee talked about sometimes they called this presnap, but sometimes they "read it out," i.e. allowed the QB to make this read after the snap. There are two ways they did this:
- allow QB to abort mesh point entirely and just throw the bubble.
- give the QB a post-keep option in the event he gets a guy in his face.
Usually this was #1. In a way this was the ur-packaged play. It's a run, it's got a pass built in. The innovation Oklahoma State and WVU added was going vertical with it after they realized refs aren't throwing illegal man downfield penalties. The bubble is behind the LOS and thus invulnerable to that call.
BTW, when they called stuff presnap the bubble route still got run, but just to demand someone cover it, as you can see the linebacker is doing in this frame. Borges said something about not liking the bubble because they prefer their WRs to block, something that didn't make much sense to me because of plays like this. That LB is not going to be relevant in the run game.
Anyway, this could be any of three different things:
- straight called handoff
- zone read
- zone read w/ attached bubble
Given how wide open that bubble is I don't think they've hooked that up yet, and since they let both the playside and backside ends go, I'm guessing this was a straight handoff.
Rocky's really doing it. If you haven't been paying attention to SDSU coach Rocky Long's assertion that he's just going for it all the time, he actually did it a couple weeks back. Result:
Then, with 4:50 remaining in the fourth quarter and SDSU down 21-12, Katz drove the offense 66 yards to the Washington 8.
Conventional wisdom dictated that if the Aztecs converted a 27-yard field goal and stopped the Huskies on defense, they’d be in prime position to go for the tying touchdown, and potential game-winning extra point.
Instead, once again, the offense stayed on the field. Katz’s attempt to squeeze a touchdown into the end zone for tight end Gavin Escobar fell incomplete, and thousands of Aztec armchair quarterbacks screamed at TVs all over the West Coast, wondering why Long hadn’t just opted for the safer field goal.
They talk to a professor about this. It turns out it was fourth and six. My initial reaction there is that's a tight decision. Fourth and six is not easy and when the defense is packed in near the goal line it's even tougher. You need two scores either way. Let's run over to that Advanced NFL stats calculator, which says…
…kick. An NFL kicker has a 95% shot at that field goal, you convert about a third of the time from that distance, and the expected points are dead even. You're still not in good shape but it's a big difference: kicking is 16% win, going 10%. You'd have to think you have a two-thirds shot at making it to justify going. It's NFL so it is not precise, but the differences aren't large enough to swing that.
Moral of the story: if you need two scores you'd better make sure you get one on your second to last drive. Also maybe the Aztecs don't have a kicker—they were down two scores because they went for two twice and failed.
Turns out not so much. Remember the guy who got beat up by a bunch of MSU hockey players? Turns out he's been charged with various things including "making a false police report." Dialing back mass-violence-against-students jokes.
Etc.: Last year's ND game synced with Ufer. Eamonn Brennan considers this year's edition of Michigan basketball, says if things break right they could be a national title contender(?!), which is optimism on a level I am unprepared for.
Hope for Pahokee, the kickstarter. Martavious Odoms's charity for his hometown has set out to kickstart themselves:
They've got 16 days to get to 35k and are 25k short. Hit it up.
Also, don't forget the Colt DelVerne fundraiser on the 15th.
Transition costs: steep. Not here, but in Madison, where their new OL coach just got canned two games in. This was no Adam Braithwaite, either:
When UW coach Bret Bielema hired Markuson in the offseason, it was considered to be a coup at the time. Markuson spent the last 14 years coaching offensive lines in the Southeastern Conference at Arkansas and Mississippi. Since 2003, he coached six different players who earned All-America honors.
The Badgers had 35 rushing yards against Oregon State, 70 if you take out sacks.
The new guy is basically Adam Braithwaite. Bart Miller is a quality control coach who graduated from New Mexico in 2007 and hasn't had a full-time assistant job yet. Now he's in deep. Bret Bielema may be less lovable than Brady Hoke.
The numbers from that Oregon State game are shocking: 1.5 yards a carry for Montee Ball, 4.4 yards a pass, and 206 total yards against a team that was 3-9 last year. The 2011 Beavers were in the triple digits in rushing D and pass efficiency D and gave up 35 points to the Badgers. Nobody turns that around that quickly. I'll have to torrent that thing to see what happened.
Boo 3:30 starts. If we'd had the Air Force game at noon we all could have watched Iowa and Wisconsin implode and Notre Dame nearly do the same. Boo 3:30 starts, boo.
Ticket prices: still approaching breaking point. OSU's game against pretty decent UCF was not a sellout:
#OSU to stop raising ticket prices? Last week's game was the first under 105,000 since New Mexico St. in 2009.
Bowl ban, yeah, but add it to the pile.
Lloydballin' it? Michigan punted from the Air Force 34 in the first quarter Saturday, causing a couple people to anticipate a twitter rage coming from yours truly. I guess I'm too prone to rages.
I didn't have a problem with it. If you don't think your kicker can hit it, punting is the move, yes even from the 34. I plugged the situation into Advanced NFL Stats's fourth down combobulator and it spake thusly:
The field goal is the best option if you've got an NFL kicker. Michigan doesn't.
So then you've got to think you have a 30% shot at converting to make it a 50-50 shot. Yeah, college defenses are more prone to breakdowns, especially Air Force's, but at worst the punt is a close call you can't get exercised about either way.
The clock butchery at the end of the first half did bug me. As a general rule, any time the clock is running after a play and you have >1 timeouts, use it. As soon as they ruled Roundtree in bounds they should have called their first timeout.
For whatever reason, Michigan's had issues with that sort of thing. Last year's Iowa game was the most frustrating example:
Is that a freaking huddle as the ref signals the game clock with 31 seconds on the play clock? Yes.
NASCAR? MORE LIKE SLOWCAR ZING
That's Michigan snapping it seventeen seconds later. /head asplode
Hopefully they get it together before that burns them again.
Adorable child. From the comments of the game column:
I was on my couch, not in the stadium (get off my back, I'm 2500 miles away). I was wearing my t-shirt. My two year old son was beside me, cheering gamely for "Deenarr WOB-inson!" as the team stood on the sidelines before kickoff. (SoullessHack, Jr. refers to both #16 and the entire team as Denard Robinson... although any non-Denard player is "the guy.") It was nice. Nice. Not the gut-churning excitement I've felt every other year. But it was nice. I guess.
Then Denard made the MLB miss. I counted three steps straight upfield and said, calmly, "They're not going to get him." SoullessHack, Jr., though, jumped up on the couch and started screaming, "DENARR WOBINSON DENARR WOBINSON! RUNNING! RUN RUN RUN!" When they cut to the cheering crowd, SHJr took his cue began to clap and jump up and down.
"HE DID IT! DENARR WOBINSON RUN SO FAST WIFF DA FOOTBAWL!!"
As long as this is not kicking me for three hours it is adorable. (There were children directly in front of and behind me at the Air Force game. Somehow they both kicked me. A lot.)
Etc.: Sticking this way down here because people are going to yell at me for mentioning him, but this shot from SMQ featuring Rich Rodriguez and his kids after the Wildcats upset Oklahoma State reminded me of of all those Rhett and Rich Rodriguez photos from his M days.
It's never too late to link Stuffing the Passer. It's okay to cheer, ND fans! (It's not. Stop it.) Webb on potential 2013 basketball addition Reggie Cameron. Duke may be in some NCAA hot water. I'm so happy SMQ is back. Here's UCLA-Nebraska recapped by Mr. Hinton.
1/3/2012 – Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 (OT) – 11-2, 6-2 Big Ten
Michigan got outgained better than two to one and probably squeezed the last bits of magic out of Brady Hoke's rectal horseshoe, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter until the Very Serious bullets that have no time for sentiment, the Very Serious bullets that didn't feel deeply guilty for not including Junior "Junior Megatron" Hemingway amongst the hallowed group of seniors who maybe could have sort of made Michigan itself again… except insofar as "again" is inappropriate to apply to a program that has not exactly made a habit out of winning BCS games doing so. The Very Serious Bullets were not ready to declare war on God for smiting David Molk—OF ALL PEOPLE DAVID MOLK—in the moments before the culmination of his career. And screw that. Screw a Very Serious bullet. Also logic, and reason, and causality, and all the other things that had no bearing on which team walked off the Superdome field happy.
This is what matters: Molk standing on the sideline watching the first offensive series and the feeling in his gut as he watched the last 60 minutes he'd wear the uniform evaporate. Logan Thomas saying something like "damn I'm tired" or "damn you're tired" to Ryan Van Bergen in the second half after yet another play on which a broken Van Bergen harassed—but did not sack—the brobdingnagian Tech quarterback. Mike Martin slicing his way into the backfield to put Tech into another third and long. Hemingway's hands finding the three inches of space needed for a touchdown. Confetti, the right confetti, and ugly shirts, and Chris Fowler talking to Junior Megatron, and people smiling.
What matters is that when Brendan Gibbons was asked what he thought about before the winning kick, he said "brunette girls" because Brady Hoke told him that's what he should think about.
This is not the best Michigan team ever assembled. It's not the most dominant. You know a lot of it was assembled by smoke and mirrors and Jon Falk's super-secret loose-fumble-magnet gloves. You're not eyeing that Alabama game next year and thinking "those rednecks are in for an… education. [YEAAAAAAAA]."
You, cold-eyed realist who gravitates to this place, are going to tell work colleagues who went to universities other than your own that Michigan deserved to win this game in no way whatsoever. And then your shit-eating grin is going to drive them from you.
I haven't watched the NFL in going on a decade now except in somnambulant Thanksgiving not-give-a-craps, but this holiday season happened to coincide with weekends and I was a guest without remote privileges. I caught a few last week. Amongst other exercises in vacuous non-speech, I ended up watching Aaron Rodgers make his publicist very proud after he respectfully dispatched Generic Opponent and then said things about his teammates.
The things he said were not so very different from what we usually get in college—like the game itself, public relations in the NFL is metal refined from NCAA ore—but in college things are rawer, emotions felt instead of managed. The brutal look on Danny Coale's face after his redemption was overturned is evidence enough of that.
The stakes in these games come from the stories of the players, and we get a relatively honest look at them over the course of their four years. After what must have been a crushing loss, The Key Play took to the internet not to light up coaching decisions or instant replay or VT's offensive line but to do this:
That team made me proud.
No we didn't win. I'm sure a lot of y'all are pissed about some play calls. I am. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan, especially on short yardage situations. But this wasn't the Orange Bowl last year. We didn't get our balls beat in. We didn't get throttled. We didn't get out-coached. We didn't get out-played. No one punched us in the throat... And that's why it hurts.
I have an ache in my chest right now too painful for words to describe. We came sooooooooo close, but failed. That's a strong word, but it's accurate--we failed. We came to play. We came to fucking play this game.
That comes from Coale, a guy pressed into service as a punter who was asked to make a weighty decision and failed. A guy who was a centimeter away from redeeming himself by staking Virginia Tech to a seven-point lead as tall as Everest who then had his anguish revisited time and again by ESPN as Michigan positioned themselves for the identical field goal Tech had just missed.
VT fans love Danny Coale even if they hate the way his last game played out. He is why they care, even if their memories are bittersweet. God, have we been there. Entire generations of Michigan seniors came and went without beating Ohio State.
For the first time in a long time, we don't have to eulogize. Michigan beat OSU and won a
bowl BCS game for the first time since the 1999 season. Martin Van Buren was president of East Rhodesia and logic gates were chiseled onto rocks the last time a group of Michigan seniors went out like this:
Or a season ended like this:
Yeah, the game was the definition of a "yes, but…" experience. In the cold-eyed light of the offseason it will dampen expectations for next year. So what? Virginia Tech fans are thinking of Danny Coale this morning.
I'm thinking of Martin and Koger and Hemingway and Molk and Van Bergen and how there is no thought of what could have been, no thought of opportunities missed or goals fallen short of. Just that they stayed, and they made a BCS bowl, and they were champions of it. In the end, the seniors of Team 132 got what they came for. Now they will break the last link on the chain and tell those who follow they can make it anew.
NOT VERY SERIOUS BULLETS
Smooth. In the same fashion friend of blog Jerry Hinnen said "yes, thank you, finally" to someone dubbing Oregon's shinybits in the Rose Bowl "Destro helmets," I welcome the comparison of brunette-loving, Scott-Van-Pelt*-.38-Special-comparison-inspiring, suddenly-nails kicker Brendan Gibbons to Keith Stone:
Psyching himself up for NAILS
hangin' w/ Mister Cooper
Well done, unknown Iowa fan who knows iawolve, well done. After a season in which Gibbons has been sarcastically exhorted to put the ball through the uprights in all caps and with question marks, it is only right to break out some H tags in tribute:
GIBBONS: YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS!
Yea, and it came to pass that the season preview gave the kicker spot at least a 3 next year. Now please stop probably deserving false start penalties.
*[SVP is reminiscent of the Dan & Keith ESPN heyday. He is capable of making me enjoy an hour of Sportscenter. Like Gus Johnson and Alton Brown, he is a rare being of pure awesomeness that can exist in a lowest-common-denominator setting. SVP for president.]
Further evidence. Via BWS:
Nike shirts: making you glad your school is Adidas even if they did dress the team like the bumblebee girl from "No Rain" this year. If you thought copping a Def Leppard lyric was gauche, you did not see the Fiesta postgame.
Nike is now run by the immature cheese from Cheez-It commercials.
Stop complaining about being passed over. Mathlete:
For all the K St fans upset about the Sugar Bowl snub, Michigan won this one in honor of you, can't imagine winning 10 games like that
Kansas State did play in the Sugar Bowl. They were wearing Michigan's uniforms.
This is why you're Sparty. LeVeon Bell:
UofM proud that they had 8 home games, didn't play Wisconsin OR Penn St, AND lost to us? Yall can beat a average VA Tech team, be proud then
Sparty being Sparty. Just like this guy wearing green and white in the endzone where Gibbons nailed the winner:
I hope you enjoyed the last few years, guys.
VERY SERIOUS BULLETS
ALL RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A TALK. Holy pants the offense. This was the third time this year Michigan's offense was just beyond terrible; they lost the other two but horseshoed themselves the Sugar Bowl.
It was imperative that Michigan establish something VT had to react to, but they never did. Their big tactical innovation for this game was a not-very-spread formation with a TE, a tailback, and Odoms in motion for a jet sweep fake. That worked on the first play of the game when Odoms got the edge and then hardly ever again. I don't understand Michigan's emphasis on running to the perimeter against a defense like VT's that thrives on getting their safeties to tackle in space.
Meanwhile, Michigan receivers got zero separation all night, allowing VT to tee off on the run with impunity. Michigan needs an athleticism upgrade there.
It's apparent Borges wants to put guys in the box instead of spreading them out, forcing the opponent to respect the horizontal aspects of the defense, and then making you tackle and fill one on one; maybe that will work against a VT when Shane Morris is throwing to LaQuon Treadwell. It did not here.
Robinson likely shares some responsibility but it's hard to tell since the Sugar Bowl shorted replays for more commercials. I did notice a late third down and medium on which Robinson tried to fit it in a nonexistent window to Koger when Gallon was breaking open underneath. But mostly it just seemed like there was never anything there. It's one thing if the opponent is beating a block. Against VT it seemed like there was always an unblocked guy fitting the run and no one was ever open. Hard to move the ball like that.
Interior DL FTW. We in the M blogosphere may have been excessively optimistic about the offense but man did we peg the other side of that matchup: VT's crappy interior line pass protected well but could not get RVB or Martin blocked to save their lives. Wilson got hacked down at the line time and again, got some yardage outside when Michigan's run support on the edges was missing. Logan Thomas was not pressured much and picked Michigan's secondary apart with lethal accuracy.
This is kind of why I am worried about next year: taking away Martin and Van Bergen is going to be huge, and the rest of the defense is short of guys who seem like certainties to be players at their level next year. I've got Ryan and Kovacs and then…
Mattison's going to earn his money next year if Michigan treads water defensively despite returning eight starters.
Holy Van Bergen. Not only did RVB play every snap, and play well, he was injured early in the game and ended up like this:
"My foot just feels like rubber,” Van Bergen said after the game. “I couldn’t plant on it or anything like that.
“It actually went down, like parallel to my chin when I was in a pile. The next time I was trying to plant, I was trying to overcompensate for it, and I put it the other way and got chopped, so my toe was coming up to like the top of my ankle.”
Can we retroactively make him a captain? I'm serious. If the Bentley doesn't list RVB as a captain I might have to hack their site so it does.
Richt'd… right? Hoke game theory bits were a mixed bag. By decision:
- Fake FG near end of first half. Yes, it was a called fake. The problem was that a big chunk of the team didn't get the call, including Dileo's intended receiver, thus resulting in the Yakety Sex that was the deflected long-snapper reception. Hoke's verging on the territory where all go/kick situations on which there's a reasonable debate seemingly decided in favor of the kick will be expected to be fakes, thus depressing the EV of faking. At this point he's going to have to kick some dumb field goals if he's going to get that back.
- FG at end of first half. I was okay with it. A fair chunk of the reason it's a good idea to go for it on fourth down in those situations is the crappy negative-value field position it leaves your opponent in if you fail. When the half is ending that's not a factor, and given the way that half played out I was not super confident Michigan would punch the ball in from the two.
- Sending out the punt safe team on the fake punt. Obvious move given the situation and one that paid off when Coale pulled a Zoltan-vs-MSU miscalculation on the rugby option. If you're going to go there you should put it in the hands of your huge QB, not rely on a converted WR to make a high-pressure decision he's never made in a game before. This bullet is more about Beamer than Hoke.
- Not calling TO in an effort to get the ball back at the end of regulation. Also okay with that. Immediate TO sees you get around 35 seconds when the ball is kicked off; given Michigan's offense to that point in the game and season-long crap kickoff returns that did not seem like it had much value. Calling TO has a slight chance of flipping the opposing coach's thinking towards going for it, or at least it might if this wasn't Frank Beamer.
Richt-ing it in OT. It wasn't a full-on Richt. Richt idiotically threw away two downs to attempt a 42 yard field goal with a kicker who had been 6 of 16(!!!) from 40+ that range this year. Hoke/Borges at least shaved a meaningful five yards* off the attempt and went with a guy who was at that point 11/15 on the season. Given the way Michigan's offense had been moving the ball (not at all with plenty of OH SHI— near-INTs), the equation is significantly different than when you've got Aaron Murray. While I was a little annoyed they didn't flip it out to the WR and his massive cushion, I wasn't livid at the thought process.
Still, man… let Denard run the ball with the extra blocker in a spread formation and instructions to keep both hands on the ball. Upside is greater there.
The theme here is when your offense can't pick up two yards to save its life, old-timey decisions are correct. When the game is going to end with a score worthy of 1950, playing 1950s-era football is the move.
*[The Mathlete's preview post contains an apropos FG success graph showing a whopping 15% difference in success rate between a 42 yard field goal (around 55%) and a 37-yarder (around 70%) for an average D-I kicker, which I'd say Gibbons is. Same difference for a bad one, FWIW. It's only when you've got a Kaeding or the like that playing as conservatively as Richt did makes even the slightest amount of sense.]
The not quite catch. Someone on the twitters put it best:
Here it is:
It's incomplete because the tip of the ball hits the ground and it shifts in his arms when it happens. The ball has the potential to slide through his upper arms when it impacts the ground; ground aids catch; not a catch.
VT fans and players are pissed off and I can understand why. Again, they should remove the uncertainty here and say the ball hitting the ground equals no catch until you have made the proverbial "football move." That is a bright line rule that removes the controversy from plays like this and the 49% Hemingway touchdown against Iowa and the 48% Coale TD above. If it swings the game a bit towards defense that may not be a terrible idea these days.
More on the fake FG. I thought surely the refs had missed an illegal man downfield, but it does appear that when the pass is thrown Michigan linemen are within three yards of the LOS:
Whatever the screwup was it looked like VT had that well covered. Hoke's going to have to shelve the fakes for a while.
Countess. Hoo boy was that a rough ride for him. I hope you caught that first bubble screen of the second half—after Countess let his guy get to the sideline Mallory lit him up. He got burned on a double move that Thomas overthrew, generally could not match up with the extremely talented Jarrett Boykin*, and was a problem on both outside Wilson runs and a variety of 7-8 yard bubble screens.
*[Another way in which Beamer handed this game to M was continuing to run the ball when your QB is completing 70% of his passes for almost 8 YPA. M loses if Beamer pulls the Carroll and tells his OC to call no runs in the second half.]
Bubble screens. Ain't saying nothin'.
Woolfolk took a short video in the locker room and posted it to the twitter:
It's not 90 degrees off, it's artistic.
Comment of the week from beenplumb:
Go back to last year and tell us that our defense and kicker would win us a BCS bowl and try not to get punched in the face for lying.
Diarists are too hungover to chip in just yet. Seth did excellent work on the no catch in OT, but that's on the front page so you probably know about it already.
Players. Ryan tweets some photos from the field. Roh with the dudes I promised to name my firstborn after*:
Roundtree and… uh… I don't know.
This is a disturbing moment. Who is that dude?
Blog substances, local. BWS bullets:
Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen, and perhaps more importantly, the Virginia Tech offensive line, were as advertised. The interior of that offensive line is dysfunctional. Martin and Van Bergen were three yards into the backfield on basically every running play. The only reason they can pass block is that they keep retreating into Logan Thomas, at least long enough for him to zip a pass to one of his many wide receivers. I have no idea how a team with an offensive line that bad can win 11 games.
In a way, this is how the 2011 season had to end for Michigan. At the end of the Rich Rodriguez era, Michigan was a great offfense and then a smoking heap of wreckage. The defense was unconscionably bad. The special teams were barely above that level, most notably because the Wolverines could not kick a field goal. Michigan did dumb things like not knowing that a blocked field goal is a live ball. The turnover rate was terrible. This year was a palate cleanser in every way. In the end, Michigan won a game despite the offense being completely stymied. The Wolverines won by being good on defense, very good on special teams, and smart enough to avoid the mistakes that killed their otherwise superior opponent.
Blog substances, national. EDSBS:
It was a complete mess in so many ways, and in so many different ways than the other BCS games thus far. the numbers were appalling in their own unique way: Michigan had 184 yards of total offense, got doubled up by VT in terms of total production, had 12 first downs to Virginia Tech's 22, and still ended up covered in maize and blue confetti watching Junior Hemingway losing his shit gloriously when Chris Fowler asked him about the long path to getting here. This is not a very good Michigan team, but they are a very good Michigan team.
That should make sense if you've watched this team dodge bullets and narrowly avoid putting the car in the ditch on so many occasions this year, or come back against Notre Dame, or hold on despite doing almost everything they could to lose a late lead to Ohio State, or in this game scratch, claw, and somehow hold a more productive Hokies team in check until the final and inevitable kicking mistakes. This team was more fun than any other team Brady Hoke will ever have because they were not supposed to have eleven wins, and could not conceivably have piled them up like this. This team is the pound dog that saved your family from the fire. They are the college car that would not die no matter what you put in its gas tank. They are the party that came out of nowhere on a Tuesday night, and resulted in no hangovers.
Easily one of our favorite teams of 2011, and not just because we like calling Brady Hoke "Ol' Pizzafarts."
Bill Connolly breaks down the numbers:
4: Tackles for loss by Michigan's Jake Ryan. Michigan's defense played the bend-don't-break routine to perfection. They allowed five yards per play and seven trips inside their 40, but they forced five field goals and a turnover on downs at their four. Part of the reason for the success was that Ryan (must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time...) was always around to make a big play. Ryan, Jordan Kovacs and Desmond Morgan combined for 22.5 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, and Michigan as a whole severely limited Tech's big plays. Just force them to keep inching down the field and eventually force a fourth down.
All of that sentimental bunk about Brady Hoke returning Michigan to its meat-eating essence or whatever, well, it actually worked out that way. It worked out far beyond the expectations of the most observant pilgrims of Oosterbaanian lore. No one in August was going out on a limb for a 7-6 outfit with no defense transitioning to a new coaching staff. As collapse-prone as the Wolverines were after fast starts under Rodriguez, no one was going out on a limb for them in early November, after losses at Michigan State and Iowa seemed to leave them back at square one. Since then, Michigan is 4-0 with wins over Nebraska, Ohio State and now Virginia Tech and abides in a state of Bo-like balance. Those who stayed fended off a fourth quarter Hokie rally to complete the circle.
I enjoyed this comment after the post:
This game proved that there is no pride or character in the big ten. When the only way you can win a game is by cheating and you are proud of it . I guess no one should surprised by the level of scandal in the conference. the attitude of the only real harm in disgusting behavior is being held accountable and the ends always justify the means is as base as it gets. to be beaten on the field as thoroughly as Michigan was on the field and be proud of a win that was a gift from whomever controlled that officiating crew is banal. That kid caught the ball everyone who has seen the replay from the angles available knows it including the replay officials and all of the Michigan coaching staff. ESPN made the staement that the only thing that matters is the final score. They and their Mid east Ohio valley values may be the real problem here.
Tom Fornelli has a format that demands he put words after the bullet HOW MICHIGAN WON. He begins "This is not an easy question to answer."
This was beyond weird, and exhausting to decipher. The Hokies controlled play, and had an apparent 20-yard touchdown pass in overtime overruled by replay. That gave the Wolverines their shot, and they took a BCS bowl victory and improbable 11-2 record with it.
11/26/2011 – Michigan 40, Ohio State 34 – 10-2, 6-2 Big Ten
Odoms via the Detroit News. Koger/Fitzgerald and Denard via Eric Upchurch.
Slightly more than a week ago, people better-prepared than I commemorated the fifth anniversary of Bo's death. I remember where I was, sitting in the room I was renting in a house that would be foreclosed on as Tom Orr, a Buckeye fan whose wife still worked for the TV station Bo did a show for, emailed me the things I didn't want to hear.
I had a thing I'd mostly written the night before about that year's Game, the one I did and still call Football Armageddon. It was an overdramatic thing based on a Sufjan Stevens song about the apocalypse. I wasn't sure about it. As I read it, panicked because I had to say something and what would I say, two things occurred to me. One, that the overdramatic thing was now on point. Two, that the part I hadn't written the night before about my father burning into coal—because it was impossible to—now sat there, obvious.
Ryan Van Bergen was in high school. He'd committed to Lloyd Carr months before. He was going to Michigan, fergodsakes. David Molk had ten thousand zits on his face. He was going to Michigan, too. Neither had the slightest idea.
Four years and two coaches later, the two of them sat in a room. They decided. What they decided was: that was not happening again. They decided they would stay. They loved Michigan, and they weren't going out in a disjointed mess. Their new coach reinstated an old tradition and they became captains unlike any in 40 years. They found their own way. There was no one save Brandon Graham to learn from, and there's only so much Brandon Graham can do.
I'm not really sure how or why but Denard Robinson stayed, too. It's possible Molk threatened to kill him.
In these decisions, in these moments, in these actually-kind-of-idiotic thought processes that led all of these players to stay here for a second or third coach, in a place that too easily booed them when they failed to live up to the expectations set for them, Michigan became Michigan again.
What is Michigan but a succession of players who chose the winged helmet and spent their four or five years in it trying to perform to the level previous players had? And how difficult would that be when your predecessors had either not lived up to that standard or abandoned you? Who was Ryan Van Bergen supposed to look up to?
By the time everyone else came back, Molk and Van Bergen and Martin and Koger and Woolfolk and the rest of the roster had already decided. Amongst themselves, for themselves.
This program needed that to pay off. It needed to stop feeling sorry for itself, being at war with itself, sabotaging itself, stop hopping on the radio to trash this that and the other, stop needing to be trashed on the radio for this that and the other. It needed to finally bury Bo, and move past the strife caused by his absence. Only one thing could do that: beating Ohio.
They did, and now there are legacies.
That picture is David Molk to me. Hugging his quarterback and killing a press conference. Sealing a blitzing linebacker on a second-half stretch. Piloting one of the best rushing attacks in Michigan history.
That picture is Ryan Van Bergen to me. Destroying that Indiana drive after botching the call on the line; leaving OSU with his winged helmet thrust as far in the air as his 6'6" frame would take it.
Amongst the tackiness, that was real. That's what I waited for. One story of redemption from someone who did nothing wrong. I've sneered at the "Michigan Man" concept ever since it became a cudgel to use against the wrong head coach. The idea there was anything particularly special or deathlessly loyal or kind or mature about the program's alumni was ridiculous after the way the last three years played out. But no more.
These are Michigan Men; this is their season.
After the game I loitered at my family's tailgate until the champagne was gone and then walked home. These days I make the walk to and from the game by myself. The people I used to walk with aren't around anymore.
At first this seemed lonely. I remember walking down Packard behind a father and his kid after The Horror. An elderly guy who kind of seemed stoned came out onto his elaborately flowered lawn and asked "they didn't really lose, did they?" The father nodded ruefully; the elderly guy shook his head. I remember getting body-checked into a car after last year's State game. I remember shivering the whole way after Northwestern '08.
On Saturday the sky was slate, the gunmetal November sky that goes with head coaches in shirtsleeves and sleet and the grim reconciliation with the elements via which the Big Ten footprint acknowledges both winter and mortality. Being outside, in Michigan, in late November, is usually a defiant variety of stupidity—a last taste of being outdoors before December closes in and the world becomes a thing briefly tolerated between heated areas. In the Midwest, football is to winter what spit from a condemned man is to a firing squad.
Saturday was also warm, warmer than any Ohio State game in memory. As I walked, alone, past the lurid green turf the field hockey team plays on I watched fathers play with sons. A tailgate across the tracks provided play-by-play as I passed by: a speed option the kid playing quarterback turned into a trick play by going out for a pass after he pitched. He was open; he dropped it; I filed it (CA, 3, RPS +1). The tailgate burst into sympathetic "awwws."
I kind of lost it passing behind the bleachers, just then. I came out the other side, and looked back, and saw two #16s and a #1 running around, catching and throwing, four-foot-five at best. Mottled clouds passed overhead. Two shades of gray were pushed by wind. It seemed to me like the closer, darker ones were giving way to the lighter background.
It felt like spring.
Photoset from Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer:
This is a great shot you might see in next year's season preview:
Molk brought his trident:
WE MUST EAT
Pregame hype video:
Give it to Old Hat Creative. Two consecutive years these have been great. Aaand JBrons provides a panorama:
BRADY HOKE EPIC DOUBLE POINT OF THE WEEK. 14/17 for 10 YPA, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 170 rushing yards at 6.5 YPC and two more touchdowns… uh… yeah. It was Denard Robinson's day. If he'd played like that week-in, week-out he's in New York and Andrew Luck is asking for his autograph. Alas, it was not to be.
Robinson didn't eat up passing yards with screens or long busted coverages, either. His long on the day was the 28-yarder to Dileo that CJ Barnett jumped. That's a disaster if it's even a little bit off; Denard made an NFL throw into Dileo's outstretched hands. The post TD to Hemingway was a 20-yard dart and the Odoms touchdown was thrown into space so tight I'm not even sure you could call it a "window." It was more like a keyhole.
Hypothesis: do you think Borges did something to Denard's throwing motion? That might explain his progression from inept in the nonconference schedule to decent, if limited, in the Big Ten to assassin against OSU. If Denard can extend that performance across a season… holy pants. The scrambles and draws have opened up for him the past couple weeks because his passing has been enough of a threat to demand attention.
Honorable mentions: Brady Hoke (for reasons discussed below), Al Borges, Fitzgerald Toussaint.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.
3: Denard Robinson (Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Ohio State)
2: Brady Hoke (San Diego State, Northwestern), Fitzgerald Toussaint (Purdue, Nebraska)
1: Jordan Kovacs (Western Michigan), David Molk (Minnesota), Ryan Van Bergen (MSU), Mike Martin (Iowa), JT Floyd(Illinois).
Future annoying conversations may be (unsuccessfully) pre-empted by "Ohio State 2011." On the podcast last week we talked about Hoke's natural aggression and how there would be a point in the future when it does not work out, thus spawning a week of extremely annoying conversations. This game is an uzi in the math camp's arsenal.
Hoke went for it on fourth and one on the OSU 40 in the first quarter. Hopkins got it easily and Michigan punched in a touchdown. Ohio State punted on fourth and four from the Michigan 36; Michigan moved the ball to midfield before the disastrous Hagerup non-punt set Ohio State up with the same field position they'd have had if they'd picked up the first down. Later, Fickell kicked on fourth and goal from the Michigan four down six.
I punched all these decisions into Advanced NFL Stat's fourth down calculator; it spat out that Hoke was right and Fickell wrong with a total margin of 3.2 expected points and a total shift in win percentage of 7%*. And their assumptions are based on NFL models where four yards to go is an automatic passing down; taking the game situation into account (it's spread mad college and both quarterbacks are unstoppable on the ground) it seems like much, if not all, of Michigan's final margin of victory came from the decisions the head coaches made.
How much more of a travesty is the Toussaint overturn if it puts Michigan in fourth and goal from the 25 down four? Orders of magnitude. How confident are you that Michigan wins that game without the offense ripping down the field in the fourth quarter? Not at all. Michigan does not win this game without…
*[I know you can't just add WP differences up like that but the differences are small enough that it shouldn't matter.]
Controlled aggression. How would you characterize the first year of the Hoke era if given only two words? I don't think you could do better than sniping a couple Hoke used to describe Denard's game:
"Denard went out there as a quarterback of Michigan and went out there to help his teammates and be accountable to his teammates. He couldn't do it by himself and no one ever does, but I thought he played an aggressive, controlled football game."
Controlled aggression. From Mattison's okie blitzes that get an unblocked guy while dropping seven to Borges going for points in the fourth quarter Saturday to Hoke's decisions to go for it on fourth down to Hoke's ability to not strangle Hagerup (better man than all of us), "controlled aggression" is the story of Michigan's 2011… and its future.
I could not have been more wrong about Hoke. He's not the milquetoast win-by-not-losing sort. He's not even average. He has a gut feel that is on par with every RPG minimaxing engineer out there. Forged by the fires of MAC defenses, Hoke has learned to push when he should and pull back when he should. I would not want to play poker against him.
I know Hoke talks about toughness and physicalness even if the latter isn't really a word, and that's fine and important. It's half of the equation. The other half is putting your guys in position to take advantage of that. Hoke does that. MANBALL: pretty much not pejorative anymore.
Speaking of the Toussaint overturn. So the overturn at the end had the stadium baying for blood. Mike Pereira on that:
Why they even considered overturning this as a touchdown, I’ll never know. There were two definitive replays that the booth had to look at, and in my opinion, one showed that the ball might have been a foot short and the other one looked more like it was a clear touchdown.
This decision seemed to be based on the first angle only. Even that, to me, was not conclusive, because when the video was stopped it was not clear whether the knee was down.
Pereira also tackles the Odoms catch/recatch that got Michigan down to the six, saying it was the right call. Myself, I'm not sure why they reviewed it or why it took so long. I do wonder how you align this logic with the Junior Hemingway 49% touchdown against Iowa:
The fact the ball hit the ground does not make the pass incomplete. It becomes a question of maintaining possession. Odoms’ hands remained on the ball, and though the ball moved a bit, he did not lose possession. In order to reverse this ruling, I think you have to see the ball come out of his hands after it hit the ground.
I think ball hitting ground should be no catch unless you've already made the proverbial football move. That's clear. What we've got now is ambiguous.
And, then after the game, the fans just like, start banging their hands together. Michigan's grenade celebration caught the ire of Zach Boren:
"I lost so much respect for michigan after they won [and] threw the ball in the air acting like it was a grenade.
This is a great rivalry, and to take it to that level of disrespect is just so uncalled for. Act like you have won before [and] treat this rivalry like it should be treated."
Their family would never participate in anything so crass as celebrating amongst their teammates. They are a respectful bunch.
A stoic group of respectful people, those Borens.
[HT on the bolded zinger to MichFan1997.]
To get the bags of urine thrown at you you have to be in Columbus, though. Atmosphere skeptics will not be cowed, but this is high praise from a guy who would know:
The OSU-Michigan game today was the closest thing to a big soccer game I've ever been to. Kept thinking of USA-Mexico in Mexico.
Carey has been to USA-Mexico in Mexico, which… whoah. That is a hell of a comparison to make.
Weekly Borgeswatch. Beat up or not, that was an Ohio State defense that entered the game 16th in total defense and 12th in FEI*. Michigan rolled them. Eliminate the Hagerup disaster, a sack, and the kneeldown and Michigan averaged 6.4 YPC. Denard hit 9.8 YPA. They should have scored 44. They won that game with a functional turnover margin of –2—the Hagerup disaster is a 60-yard loss of field position and the Avery INT was superfluous—and their defense giving up 34. That's fantastic.
Borges's last three weeks have been superlative. It's still frustrating that a couple of poor gameplans cost Michigan against MSU and Iowa but Borges corrected course and lit up defenses ranging from excellent to okay the last three weeks of the season. Before the season I predicted that Michigan's YPC would drop by a yard; with the bowl game to go it's only down about a quarter of that. Passing efficiency has dropped (23rd to 39th) but YPA is actually up a couple tenths of a yard. The interceptions are the major issue, and a decent chunk of those featured wide open receivers the QBs ignored.
Some regression was expected even if Rodriguez stuck around, so the net transition cost on offense kind of seems like… zero. Fumbles have been a huge factor (last year: 29, 14 lost; this year: 17, 6 lost) and I don't think there's a whole lot of coaching in that, but at this point there's no denying Borges has kept the offense humming.
Imagine how good they could have been with bubble screens! [kidding! srs.]
*[Although… I'm getting suspicious of that metric when it has Rutgers #1 in defense and Miami(!!!) #2 in offense. Miami hasn't gone over 20 points since beating Duke; they lost to FSU 23-19 and to BC 24-17. They beat USF 6-3 and are 73rd in total offense, 64th in scoring. There is no combination of circumstances that could make them the #2 offense in the country. FEI is failing sanity tests this year.]
BCS hootenanny. Michigan actually fell a slot in the BCS standings this week thanks to Wisconsin turning Penn State into paste. They're 16th; they need to creep up two spots* to be eligible for hypothetical Sugar Bowl against Houston. One of those is a given since the Big Ten title game loser will fall behind them. The next is likely as long as Georgia loses the SEC title game.
If Georgia doesn't things get dicey. Then you're hoping for Iowa State to beat KSU or Oklahoma State to annihilate Oklahoma to the point where disgusted voters drop them immensely. With KSU a 12 point favorite and Oklahoma State a 3.5 point favorite, neither of those things seem particularly likely. Baylor is also a threat to jump Michigan if they beat Texas—if it's close the computers will likely side with the Big 12 team. Baylor's favored by around 3. MFan_in_Ohio has a complete rooting guide.
The only scenario in which Michigan feels entirely safe is Georgia and Baylor both losing. Anything else and it's going to come down to the margins. Not getting the BCS game would be disappointing, but mostly from a program prestige point of view. The likely opponent would be better in the Citrus: Arkansas, Georgia, or South Carolina. Also, New Orleans vs Orlando is a blowout.
If fewer than 10 teams are eligible for selection, then the Bowls can select as an at-large team any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible, has won at least nine regular-season games and is among the top 18 teams in the final BCS Standings,
Otherwise it's top 14.]
Fitzkrieg* III. If Brady Hoke gets It, Fitzgerald Toussaint has It. Fitz is averaging 5.8 YPC this year and that's with a majority of his carries coming against Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State. That is tied for the 14th best YPC in a single season (100 carries minimum) since 1949 and the second-best since Biakabutuka's 1995 campaign. (Denard's 2010 beats him out at an incredible 6.6 YPC. Tyrone Wheatley's 1992 season stands alone as the best in Michigan history. Wheatley picked up 1357 yards on 185 carries—eleven more than Toussaint had this year. He averaged 7.3 YPC. Holy pants.)
[active players bolded. also players from the last 15 years.]
Adjust that for schedule strength, and… well, Toussaint is pretty good, especially when Denard Robinson is taking a lot of attention for himself. If Michigan can find a tight end (possible) and adequately replace Huyge (likely) and Molk (er…), an Al Borges with a year of experience dealing with these guys could put up some silly numbers.
Have to keep that line healthy, though.
*[Now spelled right and everything!]
I'm just sayin'. Fitz did bust a long one on I-Form power late, but it didn't exactly go as planned:
That cuts behind something that's supposed to be a downblock. Usually that's doom, though not when you've blasted the DT five yards downfield.
With Denard and Toussaint propelling Michigan to its best running game since the Big Ten was only vaguely competitive, can we assert that running quarterbacks do work in the Big Ten and that the spread is a pretty good system for running the ball? After all was said and done, Michigan beat OSU—put up more points on OSU than they ever had—by running a shotgun centered offense that tore it up with the inverted veer. Kudos to Borges for adjusting; I hope we don't say "that was interesting" and go back to statues for the next decade.
I say recruit 'em all and let Borges sort 'em out. Mobile QBs who don't pan out can turn into Marvin McNutt; I don't think M should turn down Shane Morris but if there's a Devin or a Denard around… man, this stuff really works.
Everyone's spent the last year comparing this offense to RR's last one, and saying there's no dropoff. That's true. Now let's compare it to the Carr offenses featuring oodles of NFL draft picks. Hmmm.
Facepalmin': THE REVERSAL. Facepalm guy after the OSU game:
That's goddamn right.
Epic photobomb. Via the internets, here's Josh Garnett, Jake Long, and Eric Magnuson* plus a Heisman-level photobomber:
The wife saw this picture and said "why does Jake Long look strange" and I said "because he's next to people approximately his size."
*[Hockey fans will appreciate that I almost called him "Kevin." #hardcore]
Where are the safeties? So the disturbing thing about the game was Braxton Miller trashing the secondary. It could have been a lot worse than it was, but Miller's accuracy rating is still in the 50s so he overthrew a bunch of dudes.
No one was exempt: Floyd, Countess, Woolfolk, and Gordon each got burned (Kovacs was mostly used in the box and did not have an opportunity.) Some of that is Michigan showing a consistent one-high and Bollman exploiting that with receivers that, for the first time all year, seemed way more athletic than Michigan's secondary. Other parts were just inexplicable, like whoever the free safety was on the first touchdown sucking up on a covered Posey instead of covering the deep guy. I'll have to check the tape; I'm kind of concerned this is an '06 situation where whoops we have this huge throbbing vulnerability.
Floyd getting suckered on a double move on OSU's last drive was the worst. Have to stay over the top then and make Miller execute his way down the field.
Special K's magnum opus. Piping in "Build Me Up Buttercup" during Ohio State's final drive. Well done, you flatulent twit. Eleven Warriors:
"Sweet Caroline"? "Don’t Stop Believin’"? Nice traditions you’ve got there. I didnt think anything could make the car keys thing less embarrassing. I stand corrected.
Chris Grovich of BSD:
Note how lame the Big House is with Journey blaring? That's you, Penn State gameday experience. A million times over.
Apparently Hunter Lochmann openly admits he's courting casual "families of four from Grand Rapids." Court casual fans and you get casual fans. Michigan's athletic department has no understanding of how to build long-term loyalty. The concept does not occur to them.
I would like to point you to Those Who Stayed, the post-Minnesota game column, again.
The play of the game, or at least one of them, is not recorded in the boxscore in a meaningful way. After Hagerup’s failed 4th down conversion, osu took over at our 31. They got down to our 5 yard line, and had 1st and goal. A couple strong defensive efforts lead to 3rd down.
On the next play, according to Chris Spielman (we were never shown this,) osu tried their TD pass to Stoneburner play, the one that got him TDs on ~ half his receptions this year. Only this time, Kovacs stayed with Stoneburner, and forced Miller to keep it. Jibreel Black (Jibreel Black? Yes, Jibreel Black) kept outside leverage, wrapped up Miller and forced the FG.
At the other end of the field, we did the same thing, only their 3rd string strong safety, Storm Klein, bit on the playfake leaving Koger wide open for the TD. (It may not have been Storm Klein, but for the purposes of this narrative, I’m going with Storm Klein.)
It was Zach Domicone, and it only serves him right for being such a tool on special teams. More than once I saw him attempt to goad Michigan players into personal foul penalties, but no sale.
I am also tweaked for the option fumble when they finally ran it with Odoms in motion, which fair enough. Denard got instant pressure which made the pitch a difficult one and the corner was wide open. Hopefully they get that straightened out eventually. Also we totally need to add the Braxton Miller speed option-whoops-seeya play.
Fitz Toussaint - Denard is light-years more effective with a true home-run threat in the backfield with him. The read option becomes almost impossible to stop if read correctly. Only having 2 negative yards against Ohio in 20 carries is remarkable. It is a crime that the zebras took your TD away, go get 3 next year.
There is narrative about the point that doesn't work with a blockquote but is worth clicking through for. Also more Hagerup hilarity.
[escape pauses gifs]
And MichiganMan2424's cool story bro about meeting Fitzgerald Toussaint's mom on his way home from the game spawns other cool stories on the board.
Media, as in unwashed blog masses. Hoke pointing from Hoke Points and the AP:
MGoVideo provides a Hoke Nyan Cat:
We need one of these with a Denard head and football body, I think.
Michigan fans had hoped for an easy victory over Ohio State. A blowout. A cake walk. But that's not how good stories are told. Even ones written not on the page, but between the lines of a college gridiron. For after 7* consecutive losses, the task was too important. After three years staring into the football abyss, the final push toward the mountain top demanded it be the hardest.
The hero's journey must never be easy.
For future reference, reasonable Joseph Campbell reference == autolink.
Sap's decals. TWB bullets. MVictors bullets plus cookie photo. Maize and Go Blue recap. TTB bullets. MZone autopsy. Holding the Rope gets the word "gyre" in there, one-upping Maize and Blue Nation's "whirlwind." Smiling Kovacs hug leads The Michigan Fanatic. BWS column.
The HSR is all in my head with their theme:
If you're a Michigander, you know that winter is miserable. As much as the first snow fall of the season might be entertaining and even maybe a little bit pretty, while snow days may be a nice respite from the daily grind, the reality is that it's cold, dark, wet, and miserable. You stay inside, you may get seasonal affective disorder, and you wait for spring. You may be so desperate for any sign of spring, you seize false hope, only to see the snow return with a vengeance, the darkness fall. No matter what the calendar says, the end of winter is a feeling and you know it when it happens.
Forever Saturday leads with the Van Bergen photo above:
I was briefly concerned yesterday that I would wake up at some point and realize that it was all just a dream and Michigan had in fact not beaten Ohio State for the first time since shortly after I graduated high school. It's Sunday now. It's really over.
The words: I do not have them. I just keep telling people "Michigan beat Ohio State!" and making weird sounds that apparently are some combination of exhilaration and relief. That's all I can do after that.
The national view comes from Jacobi:
WHAT MICHIGAN WON: Michigan beat Ohio State. Wait, let's try that again: MICHIGAN BEAT OHIO STATE. The 10-win season is absolutely nice for the Wolverines, but they've been circling this game on their calendars since time immemorial, and to get a win in this rivalry after eight years of futility is a major, major accomplishment for Brady Hoke and his charges.
LOSER: Michigan's classless fans
Look at them, rushing the field and celebrating after Michigan beats a 6-6 team. Act like you've been there, guys, right? The nerve of it all!
We're kidding, of course, because the cathartic value of a win like that, erasing eight years of misery and futility hard-wired into to Michigan's identity as a football program, would be off the charts even if Ohio State were coming into the game 0-11. But we're still talking about a bowl team here in OSU, and one that gave Michigan all sorts of fits over the course of the game. You have our full blessing on this field-storming, Michigan. And if anyone says otherwise, well, haters gonna hate. Feels nice to have haters again, doesn't it?
Yes. Exactly. Boren butthurt tweets == Tears of Unfathomable Sadness. So sweet.
In the context of the entire season, though, it was an exclamation point on a legitimate return to form. Unlike 2007 and 2008, the Wolverines didn't endure an embarrassing flop against a major underdog. Unlike 2009 and 2010, they didn't blow their fast start with a depressing November fade against the meat of the Big Ten slate. They were never blown out, and after their dramatic comeback to beat Notre Dame in September, none of their subsequent wins were close. Last week's evisceration of Nebraska was Michigan's best game in five years, a complete win over a real opponent, and the first unmistakable line of demarcation between Brady Hoke's first team and Rich Rodriguez's last.
Media, soon to expire variety. Dispatch, you disappoint but do not surprise:
You tools should have the MANBALLS to reverse your cute little counter, but since you don't have the resources to find out anything about OSU's compliance, or lack thereof, it's not a surprise you don't. You suck.
It probably was tougher and crazier than they expected, but when the Wolverines finally beat the Buckeyes 40-34 Saturday and the fans swarmed the field, one thing was clear: It's back on, mercifully and manically.
Reset the clock. Reset the rivalry. After seven straight losses and 2,926 days, Michigan ended the agony against Ohio State and took another big step back to national relevance.
Michigan had just ended an eight-year drought — it was 2,926 days, to be exact, as coach Brady Hoke's sign not-so-subtly reminded his players inside Schembechler Hall — by beating archrival Ohio State. And Michigan's senior class had just ended a perfect home season the way few, if any, of them could've imagined.
So as the students came streaming onto the field to celebrate in Michigan Stadium, and the Wolverines started running off it to do the same in their locker room, a trio of defensive linemen — Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen and Will Heininger — lingered just a bit longer.
Mienke assembles facts about Denard Robinson's day:
Robinson's five touchdowns are the most by a Michigan player in one game against Ohio State.
Robinson is the first Michigan player in the modern era to score at least two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns in back-to-back games, and is the first Big Ten quarterback to accomplish the feat since Iowa's Brad Branks in 2002. He had two of each against Nebraska.
More at the link.
The Daily's Tim Rohan:
Those who stay will redeem themselves.
Ryan Van Bergen stayed.
While his teammates mobbed Courtney Avery, whose interception for the Michigan football team sealed the 40-34 win over Ohio State on Saturday, Van Bergen slowly walked to the sideline, his hands on his head.
He flipped off his helmet, collapsed on the blue bench and wept.
The crowd’s roar was deafening as Jake Ryan pulled Van Bergen close, whispering in his ear. Then Craig Roh did the same. They told Van Bergen how much his leadership meant, how much of an impact he had on them.
11/19/2011 – Michigan 45, Nebraska 17 – 9-2, 5-2 Big Ten
In the aftermath of Saturday's flamethrower job, everyone from the coaches down to emailers is saying that felt like Michigan, usually with emphasis. Picking one at random:
Great game Saturday - I think it was at least partially Nebraska-fueled, but man that FELT like Michigan.
Quick, it's any game from 1998 to 2007 against a spread offense or mobile quarterback. How do you feel? Good? Bad? Have you stopped reading this column to shiver in a corner at the idea of Carlyle Holiday? Troy Smith? Donovan McNabb? Armanti Horror Edwards?
Yes, you have. For the Ohio State fans who persist in reading this column because it's willing to send Michigan fans into catatonic seizures, Michigan fans felt pretty damn bad about going up against mobile quarterbacks during the Carr era. They also felt this during the Rodriguez era but it was a lot harder to parse out a specific mobile-quarterback-related fear when Indiana's putting up more than 30 every year.
Quick! It's any game in which Michigan has an 18 point lead against a mid-level Big Ten team from 1998 to 2007. Nevermind. You're still having a seizure.
Quick! It's a team with Tom Brady, David Terrell, Anthony Thomas, Steve Hutchinson, Mo Williams, and Jeff Backus. How many yards per carry do they average?
No, seriously. I'm asking this one. How many yards per carry did the Orange-Bowl-winning, Tom-Brady-featuring, three-NFL-OL-including-a-hall-of-fame-guard-deploying 1999 Michigan Wolverines average?
Seriously. Michigan finished 79th in rushing offense, 24th in passing offense, and ran more than they passed. Tom Brady—Tom Brady!—averaged 7.2 YPA. In the Orange Bowl they fell behind 14-0 because they kept running their awful run offense at Alabama's #2 run defense. They'd finish with 23 carries for 27 yards.
Quick! Fourth and four from the Ohio State 34 up two with three minutes left. What does Brady Hoke do?
I was wrong. I was mad when Michigan hired Brady Hoke because I though it was a capitulation, that it was Michigan returning to the things that made it such a frustrating team to root for once Lloyd Carr stopped having the best defense in the universe.
Carr coached his team like they had an awesome run offense and an awesome defense no matter the facts on the ground, which led to the most frustrating stat anyone's ever compiled. From Vijay Ramanujan's article in your copy of HTTV 2007:
Michigan's fourth quarter woes from 2000 to 2005 … have been the thing holding it back from truly elite status the last several years. Alarmingly, Michigan entered 18 games over that period of time with a lead smaller than 10 points and went 8-10 in those games. They were under .500 when entering the fourth with a small lead! When tied or facing a similarly small deficit, Michigan was 6-1. In all games in which Michigan trailed by any margin they were 8-8.
That is the kind of thing that gets you pawing at the air in your sleep, moaning "no… not again." It's incontrovertible evidence of terrible game management. Hiring Hoke felt like returning to that, like returning to debates about "scoring offenses" and looking at every mobile quarterback on the schedule like it was a loss waiting to happen.
This is not the case. It turns out as I was sitting in the stands burning up inside as Rocky Harvey scatbacked Illinois to victory or Michigan punted itself into oblivion against OSU, Brady Hoke was standing on a sideline burning up inside, whether it was at Michigan Stadium or somewhere in the MAC. Hoke does not want to lead by 17. He wants to lead by 21, dammit. If anything, the playcalling this year has been too aggressive what with the constant unleashing of the dragon.
Al Borges wears a t-shirt with this on it every Casual Friday
That made me mad in the immediate aftermath, but what happens when you put a Michigan program together and… like… use it? What happens when you're Lloyd Carr without the crippling fear of something going wrong? What happens when you go from weak-tight to loose-aggressive?
For one, you leave the desiccated corpses of Nebraska strewn around you as you leave the field. Afterwards, Bo Pelini sits in his locker room shaking like Don Cheadle in "Hotel Rwanda." When you win games, you win games comfortably. No one gets nervous in the fourth quarter of San Diego State. The offense is pretty much the offense; when its horns get pulled in it's because you're on your own four up 21 and that's the move. Sometimes you do the audacious thing in the important game, not the tomato can before the important game. Mobile quarterbacks don't automatically rack up a billion yards. And when the right move doesn't work out and someone asks you about it, you say "that's how it's going to be."
So when people say this "feels like Michigan," I agree and disagree. In the immediate post-hire column featuring Will Smith robots I said "to me, getting back to being Michigan means going 9-3 and losing to Jim Tressel." Since 1993, Michigan has lost at least three games every year save '97, '99 and '06; since Jim Tressel's arrival Michigan has beaten Ohio State once.
If this feels like getting back to Michigan, it's the Michigan of your dreams, the Michigan you left back in Peoria when you shipped to Saigon. You've got one good picture of her and she's that pretty every day in an ugly place.
"This Is Michigan" is about the idea, not the reality—at least not a reality from the last 20 years. So far. Days like Saturday inch us closer to the picture in our heads.
There were enough videos to warrant a VOAV, which was posted yesterday. This from Boyz in the Pahokee is worth a repost, though:
Via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer, our Nebraska photoset:
As always, the above photos are Creative Commons licensed.
I'm just sayin'.
via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer
BRADY HOKE EPIC DOUBLE POINT OF THE WEEK. I'm tempted to hand this to Lavonte David for 17 tackles, 14 of them solo, 2 of them Y U SO FAST ankle-grabs on a Denard Robinson one step from engaging turbo. But he plays for Nebraska and we only talk about players who play for Michigan.
If we can't give it to David, it's again Fitzgerald Toussaint's to have and hold. He's got his own bullet below explaining why. Runners up: Mike Martin, Denard Robinson, and Jordan Kovacs.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.
2: Denard Robinson (Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan), Brady Hoke (San Diego State, Northwestern), Fitzgerald Toussaint (Purdue, Nebraska)
1: Jordan Kovacs (Western Michigan), David Molk (Minnesota), Ryan Van Bergen (MSU), Mike Martin (Iowa), JT Floyd(Illinois).
Fitzkreig continues. 138 yards on 29 carries and three monster games in the last four. The exception was a 16-carry, 58-yard performance against Iowa when many of his attempts were run from under center.
As a result, I saw Toussaint compared to the following tailbacks over the weekend: Mike Hart (this was me but not just me), Tim Biakabutuka, and Chris Perry. Except fast! I went with Hart because the way Toussaint dodges guys in a phonebooth is reminiscent of #20 and his cuts in narrow areas are what makes the zone game work. Toussaint doesn't have Hart's pile-pushing power but he compensates with Except Fast! He's also been very secure with the ball. (Knock on wood.) I don't recall any fumbles from him this year; that's pretty good for 143 carries.
It took longer than everyone wanted, but I declare him broken out. He needs 191 yards against OSU and in the bowl to crack 1000 for the season; I bet he gets that and enters next year in the conversation for best back in the league. I'll have to go back and check how Northwestern held him to 25 yards on 14 carries. That's nuts.
Weekly Borgeswatch. It's to the point where the scattered –1 yard power plays from the I don't even bother me anymore. They're like old friends reminding me of the spread's superiority for this personnel and how our offensive coordinator has also come to this conclusion, albeit grudgingly.
I thought this was another strong game from Borges. He debuted a pro set that saw Michigan bust a couple of big gains; the flare screen got blown up the second time he went to it but it was effective overall. Outside of that he largely let the offense do what it was recruited to do: run zone from the gun. It worked to the tune of 238 yards.
While the averages for Denard (4.4 YPC) and Fitz(4.8) aren't electric a lot of that is due to Michigan's struggles near the goal line. Those two had eight carries from within the Nebraska seven on which they gained 7 yards total; carries outside of goal-to-go situations averaged 5.3 between the two main weapons. Without Lavonte David who knows what they would have been.
Unfortunately, goal to go is kind of important. Those struggles combine with last week's goal line stand by Illinois* to create the closest thing to a worry possible coming off a 45-17 win. Michigan got lucky on a dubious pass interference call and had to resort to a fake field goal to punch in short touchdowns; on both short yardage TDs Michigan had to bounce to the sideline. Going up the middle was futile.
I wonder why Michigan has never tried to replicate** the virtually unstoppable Gator Heavy package that was Florida's go-to short yardage package during the Tebow era. This was a complaint I had during the RR years, too. I like the idea of giving the D seven gaps to defend and providing Denard two lead blockers that can attack any of them, plus a tailback.
*[I guess you could toss in Iowa's successful goal line stand but that was executed in adverse conditions.]
**[Michigan did briefly feature a double H-back set in 2009 that was kind of like Gator Heavy but they never used the full-on heavy. They always had two WRs.]
Weekly Denardwatch. There were a couple of scary throws I'll have to see on replay to determine whether they were bad ideas or fit in narrow windows—guessing the former—but 61% completions and 10 YPA are pretty good. Yeah, a big chunk of those was a chuck-and-pray to Roundtree but at least that wasn't into double coverage. The safety couldn't get over in time. Roundtree also had a step on Dennard… it wasn't in the same class some of the ND armpunts were. Meanwhile, the Odoms touchdown gets an "I be like dang."
I thought the INT was fluky; some people on the twitters disagreed. I'm not saying the batted ball was fluky, but the dude knocking it to himself and catching it… eh… doesn't happen so often. That's more on the playcall than Denard. Asking a short guy to float it over a tall guy has resulted in two interceptions this year that I'm not sure Denard can do much about other than be six inches taller or eat the ball on a screen that seems open.
There was progress.
The above was part of that. When Denard pulled up to throw to a short dude streaking across the endzone my Michigan rolodex flipped to the first interception he threw against MSU last year, where he had the exact same route open and chucked it well behind his guy.
I'm guessing Denard's DSR is in the mid-60s range he seems to have established as his Big Ten baseline. That's a step up from the days when he was struggling to complete anything against the Eastern Michigans of the world. Transition costs here seem mostly paid. Now it's about getting him that extra increment.
The rumors are not true. Do not listen to Heiko: I had nothing to do with the lack of power in Michigan Stadium. I did not make a commando raid Friday night after seeing the image of Pop Evil in the stadium and Do What Had To Be Done. I have an alibi—I was at the hockey game—and if I had done it I would have taken out the north scoreboard, where Special K's speakers are.
Way to go, whoever you are. Excellent work by random student who I assume is an engineer to start counting down the playclock after M took a false start penalty near the goal line in the first. Note that Hoke stepped forth to take blame for the penalty:
"That's on me," he said. "I should have called timeout. For me to not do that, that's bad coaching."
Second Zookian clock management incident. Coaches are always too conservative with their last timeout and this tendency bit Michigan after they ran a couple times at the end of the first half. After Robinson biffed by trying to get to the sideline instead of reading the block Toussaint had made on the closest defender, the clock burned 30 seconds before the third down snap.
I know you want to have that timeout for a field goal attempt but in a situation like this you know the clock is going to run and you're not sure that will be the case down the road. A spike is a quality option with five seconds left; not so much with 48.
This is a nit. I'm going to name my firstborn "Hoke Gametheory."
Helmet to ball. Yes, people who keep telling me about fumbles, the last few have been Michigan's doing. Not so much the ones where people just drop the ball. Terrence Robinson may have just earned a fifth year—it looks like Michigan will have room for him even if they take 28.
Fluck. Michigan's still recovering an inordinate number of the fumbles caused. No, this is not coachable.
I don't always talk about game theory*, but when I do I prefer it to be about going up 17 or 21. Last week I was totally cool with Michigan running a QB draw with Gardner on third and goal from the ten to go up 17; I was similarly cool with the field goal team running out for a chip shot on the fourth and one.
It's a similar situation: up 14 about halfway through the third quarter against a team that's struggling to move the ball. Getting that third score is all but game over. That said, Hoke made it clear in the postgame presser that they had scouted that particular situation and got the look they wanted:
Can you talk about picking the spot to fake the field goal? “We had put it in. It’s the one Penn State used against us in ’95? I think it was ’95 up there. [We] wanted it on the right hash, [and] they gave us the look that we wanted. Even if we had kicked the field goal, Drew Dileo -- having him as a holder, he’s such a smart football kid. He did a tremendous job with it. You got it, you might as well use it.”
Until he runs a fake field goal against the same team he ran a famous fake field goal the year previous—and takes a timeout before doing so—it's all good.
Less than a season into the Hoke regime it's clear his natural inclination is to be aggressive in close situations. That should pay off down the road—it hasn't so much this year because when Michigan wins they win by a lot.
BCS watch. Saturday night's events all but guarantee Michigan a spot if they take care of business on Saturday. They're now ahead of the Big 12 runner-up, which will either be a three-loss Oklahoma or an Oklahoma State team coming off back-to-back losses, one of them to Iowa State. Pecking order:
- Houston (auto)
- Big 12 runner up
- ACC runner up
You can flip Stanford and Michigan if you like. There are no scenarios that see a 10-2 Michigan left out; even if the SEC can put a third team in because of an all SEC West title game, Michigan is an easy pick over a 10-2 Arkansas. To be safe you're rooting for Okie State in Bedlam.
Now, about getting to 10-2…
[UPDATE: a reader informs me that this is misunderstanding of the way three teams get into the BCS from a single conference. #1 and #2 have to not win the conference, so LSU would have to lose to Georgia and Alabama and LSU would still have to be 1-2. That is… not impossible, actually.]
Inside the Box Score has cat photos and commentary:
In the first half, with us up 10-7, Denard threw an INT on a screen pass. I’m starting to think he’s too short to throw middle screens. Anyway, the defense responded with a Kovacs TFL, a Van Bergen pass deflection, and Demens and Martin tackling a WR on a screen for minimal yardage. It wasn’t quite the three-play sequence that bursted impetus against Illinois, but it reminded me of that. Neb had to settle for a 51 yard FG. Our defense basically said, we’ve got our O’s back.
The announcers thought Kovacs was acting a little when injured to slow down Neb’s hurry up offense. For the record, he stayed out for the duration of that series, so I don’t think he was faking. Screw you Urban Paschman for suggesting such a thing.
Are we really at the point where a team that has two injuries in a game gets accused of slowing the game down on purpose? This wasn't the Michigan State defense's fainting couch act against Iowa.
When I think of NU, I think of Northwestern. Since they have B1G seniority over Nebraska, they should get the NU acronym. That leaves either UNL or Neb for Nebraska.
Blog policy is to bestow "NU" on the winner of the NU-NU game. When not in possession of "NU," Northwestern shall be "NW" and Nebraska "UNL." It is my hope this eventually spawns a rivalry trophy: large block N and U letters that the winning team paints their colors after a victory.
Hoke For Tomorrow on various people who had good days:
Denard Robinson - The best game in a long time for our leader and best. Denard looked completely in control of the offense. He was patient, waiting for plays to develop before zinging a TD pass to Gallon or cutting behind his blockers for a TD on the ground. Best of all, Denard finally hit a receiver perfectly on an endzone bomb. He made some more questionable reads on the read option, but overall it was a great performance.
If you hit up Blue Seoul's OSU/Nebraska scouting report the Cornhuskers' long touchdown probably looked familiar:
So there you go: the coaches don't read the blog.
Unwashed blog masses. Maize and Go Blue has a newspapery recap. Schadenfreude can be had at Corn Nation's game thread and post-game thread. TTB runs down the recruiting visitors. MNBN has a wrap up. BWS talks about Rich Rodriguez. I only talk about coaches who coach for Michigan. M&GB gives thanks. So does the HSR. MGoFootball bullets.
Want a little more perspective? In its 13 games last year, Michigan gave up 458 points. Through 11 this season, they've surrendered 172. In other words, to equal the punchline that was 2010, Michigan would have to give up 144 points -- in EACH of its remaining two games (OSU and the bowl).
I am annoyed that this is followed by a reference to the scoring offense as if the defense doesn't have anything to do with putting said offense in a position to succeed. The offense has dropped off a bit, and criticisms leveled at Borges after MSU and Iowa are still valid.
Meanwhile, Touch The Banner officially enters haterz territory:
Obligatory discussion of J.T. Floyd. Nebraska's one huge play was a 54-yard touchdown bomb to Brandon Kinnie, who torched Floyd so badly that all Floyd could do was grab onto Kinnie and hope for a pass interference flag. Prior to that play, Kinnie had 19 catches for 192 yards and 0 touchdowns on the season.
This is true. Also true: that was the first 50 yard play Michigan has given up all season and the first time Floyd has been burned deep on a pass, complete or not, all year. Even Woodson got burned by Boston that one time. JT Floyd is a good corner.
WHAT MICHIGAN WON: Michigan's bid for an at-large BCS bid is still alive as the Wolverines begin preparation for Ohio State. We're told that's a rivalry. What Michigan proved beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the defense is legit. Nebraska managed just 11 first downs and 254 total yards on the day, and while that's partly a function of the turnovers, it's also a function of Michigan's performance; the Wolverines forced 10 4th downs on 13 opportunities.
And it was, if not exactly the kind of vintage "This is Michigan" mashing Brady Hoke invoked throughout the offseason, at least as close as this particular team has come to its own platonic ideal. Denard Robinson took every significant snap at quarterback, carried 23 times, looked sharp as a passer and accounted for four touchdowns. Tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint went over 100 yards on the ground for the third time in the last four games, adding a pair of scores of his own. The offense as a whole held the ball for almost 42 minutes. The defense held Nebraska to a season-low in total yards and matched a season low in points. The 'Huskers didn't convert a third down until the end of the third quarter.
In a matchup of apparent equals, the only aspect of the game Nebraska "won" — or came close to winning — was average yards per punt. And that doesn't include the punt Michigan blocked.
Media, conventional. My man Nick Baumgardner on the lopsided time of possession:
One of the residual effects of Michigan's stellar defensive day was a lopsided time of possession battle.
The Wolverines held the ball for 41:13 while Nebraska had possession for just 18:47.
"Residual effects." My man.
Jerry Palm has placed us back in his BCS predictions in an odd place:
New Orleans, La.
SEC vs. at-large
8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
|Comment: With both SEC teams in the championship game, the Sugar Bowl will need a replacement and Michigan will be very attractive. It ends up taking an undefeated Houston over the Big East champion.|
Palm has the LSU-Bama rematch as the title game, which opens up a weird slot for M. I'd rather play a running team than Case Keenum. BONUS WEIRDNESS: Palm puts Penn State in the Hawaii Bowl in place of someone else who can't fill a commitment. No idea why he thinks the #3-5 Big Ten team isn't locked into an actual Big Ten bowl. SIDE NOTE: Adding Nebraska makes the Big Ten's bowl matchups far more palatable.
This wasn't the final piece of evidence, but it certainly was the most compelling. What happened Saturday in Michigan Stadium is what used to happen. A big, physical foe rolled into town and ran smack into a wall of pads. The Wolverines' 45-17 rout of the Cornhuskers was their best game of the year, by far, and the loudest statement of the Brady Hoke era, by far.
As the final minutes ticked away, the crowd began an old-new chant. "Beat Ohio!" cascaded from the student section, in homage to Hoke, whose personal homage to the rivalry is to refer to the Buckeyes simply as "Ohio."
Beat Ohio? Uh, that's a good idea. After seven straight losses in the rivalry, Michigan (9-2) has a great chance to do it, with Ohio State (6-5) in complete disarray.
I quote him because he's the only columnist in a 500 mile radius who doesn't compulsively hit enter after each mark of punctuation. Also he had cake.
The defensive improvement is perhaps the most shocking element of Michigan's renaissance. The Wolverines did not sign a bunch of five-star freshmen who raised the talent level. They have succeeded largely with the same players who finished 2010 ranked 110th in the nation in total defense (450.8 yards per game) and 108th in the nation in scoring defense (35.2 points per game). We knew coordinator Greg Mattison could coach, but we didn't know he could work miracles. Through 11 games, the 2011 Wolverines have allowed 312.6 yards per game and 15.6 points per game. "Fundamentally and technically, they're playing what they're coached to do, and they're playing together," Hoke said of his defense. "It's been fun to watch."