10/13/2012 – Michigan 45, Illinois 0 – 4-2, 2-0 Big Ten
Six games into year two of the Hoke and Mattison defensive regime, Michigan stands 10th in total defense. Last year they finished 17th. The year before that they languished in the triple-digits, unsure of who they were, what they were doing, and how life was supposed to have any meaning. Now, they know.
The flow thing is no coincidence.
RYAN THE BARBARIAN
Yeah, you can use the advanced numbers to push the exact measure of Michigan's improvement to and fro—Michigan is 16th in S&P+ with FEI pending—but who cares? The exact magnitude of the improvement is difficult to measure in the same way an exploding volcano is. It is organized and has long hair and will hit you very hard. Volcanoes. Dig it.
Michigan has not quite swept across the steppes, burning all in its path yet. They're still waiting for a real test after they got run over in the opener and had to survive an option attack they were ill-prepared for. Since those two games they've played UMass, a Notre Dame team that seems to score 13-20 against any opponent more competent than Miami, Purdue, and Illinois. Competent quarterbacks have exited. Chaos reigns even before Michigan gets involved.
But but but, by whatever measures you care to look at Michigan is providing novel horrible experiences to the hapless in their path:
- Illinois was held to under 150 yards of offense. In blowout losses against Arizona State and Penn State, the former without Scheelhaase, they racked up over 300 and scored. They neared 300 against Wisconsin last week.
- Purdue's worst yardage output of the season was versus Michigan; they've played ND and Wisconsin.
- Michigan held Notre Dame to under 250 yards, also their worst output of the season.
When life gives you lemonade stands, all you can do is pillage five-year-olds. Nickels in hand, Michigan faces a recent nemesis this weekend. They've got a real nice stand set up. Would be a shame if something happened to it.
It's mostly lemonade stands from here on out. Only two of Michigan's remaining six opponents squeeze into the top half of the total yardage rankings—Ohio State (34th) and Nebraska (12th). Hypothetical Big Ten Championship Game foe Wisconsin is cooling its heels at 87th. Thanks to the BIG TENNNNNN nature of the Big Ten, Michigan's defense can get along despite being rickety in parts.
Six weeks in it's getting hard to figure out what those rickety parts are. Kenny Demens has just spent three weeks attacking third and one with abandon and dropping into all the deep seams. He's been able to do that because the defensive tackles are keeping him clean. Raymon Taylor is being avoided by opponents who would rather go at JT Floyd. Craig Roh's move to strongside end has been successful beyond all reason.
The big hole on the defense is…
…weakside end? Maybe Floyd himself? It's unknown, really.
We do know now what we hoped—maybe suspected—at the beginning of the year: the GERG to Greg turnaround was 10% fumble fluke, 90% sustainable development. I watch Michigan play defense and think about watching Greg Mattison get distracted by an endzone shot of his four DL making the exact same step on a particular cutup at a coaching clinic. The line moves with perfect choreography and Mattison's supposed to be talking about higher-level stuff but is simply incapable of looking at that beautiful synchronicity and not stopping to talk about it:
Mattison did not select the cutups himself—that was delegated to a video coordinator—and didn't know exactly what would come up. This made for an interesting dynamic as he evaluated each play live. He repeatedly digressed from his main topic to note the footwork of his linemen: Van Bergen is getting distance with his first step. All of these guys have identical footwork.
The tape winds back and forth; Mattison beams like a proud father. He fumes at imaginary people who would not direct their weakside end to put his outside foot back when he gets a tight end to him. He passes the geek test.
The same folks who made Will Heininger a key piece of a top 20 defense have reconstituted Michigan's defensive line from a converted OL, a five star at the bottom of the sea, and a 250-pound weakside end. When not battered by a once-in-a-generation outfit in Tuscaloosa, they've stoned everyone they've come up against*. That line is not where Michigan's going, but it's good enough to be amongst the best in the conference.
That is the brick on which Hoke's program is built. They will take whatever they've got and turn it into a well-oiled machine. Some years they will be undersized and coping well. Some years they will be rampant. The next ten years will feature an endless procession of mashing defenses. There will be one blip to the downside and two units that put Michigan in national championship contention.
Year in, year out, lemonade stands across the Midwest will burn. Toddlers in Elmo t-shirts will weep. Winged helmets will look on impassively, knowing what is best in life.
*[Air Force's success was not on the DL, at least not much.]
Highlights from parkinggod:
The Ford presentation:
Upchurch photos went up this morning.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point of the week. Jake Ryan, come on down. Obviously. He's got a bullet down the page, but: 11 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and a number of plays made that didn't even show up on that statline.
Honorable mention: Denard Robinson (7/11, > 10 YPC, no turnovers), Patrick Omameh (seems to be destroying Akeem Spence on a few of Denard's long runs), Kenny Demens (INT, two third and short thumps), Greg Mattison (knows what is best in life).
Epic Double Point standings.
3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama)
I know, man.
My God, It's Made Of Funchess note of the week. From my vantage point in the stadium, I thought the play-action rollout that eventually turned into the Funchess touchdown had been defeated by coverage. I thought that Denard saw this too and was chunking the ball out of the endzone, which I was pleased with—WOO NO INTERCEPTION—as I saw the ball soar into the stands… at least the dance team… well past Devin Funchess's outstretched… oh.
Ace made this. ESC to stop it, unless you're on Chrome.
Wow. Is that legal? Should I clap now? Is touchdown? Is touchdown. Clap. Smile. Turn to wife and console her that the Illinois people are probably used to this anyway and she shouldn't feel bad for them because… um. Return to clapping, wait for day when Michigan throws more than 15 passes and Jim Mandich Watch returns.
norfleetwatch. hai guys here's this punt i should probably fair catch this syyyykkkkkkeeeee hey i'm going this way syyyyyyykkke I PUT OUT MY HAND AND YOU STOP BECAUSE I HAVE POWERS goodbye tackler goodbye tackler goodbye tackler hello sideline i am sorry i will never touch you sideline i just don't feel like that about you ZOOOOOOOOOOOOM wait wat is punter
wat is punter wat is
Kicking from the one. Michigan pooted in the shortest possible field goal late in the first quarter, which normally would have driven me bonkers. IMO that was a close enough call that I wasn't super peeved. The situation:
- Denard is out so you've got a freshman at QB.
- Barnum is out so you've got your 6'1" walkon at LG.
- You've just been stuffed twice consecutively since Illinois knows you're not throwing, not least because…
- It's a rainstorm that could easily degenerate into an MSU-Iowa-ish slopfest in which points are at a premium.
If an 18-yard field goal in the first quarter is ever going to be the right move, it's there. It was really hard to disentangle any emotions about the kick from the momentary dread experienced as I watched Michigan's season circle down the drain in an injury deluge, but before it was a laugher it seemed like the kind of game where the first team to 17 wins and the field goal is defensible.
This is an extension of my being fine with a similar chip shot field goal in last year's Illinois game; that one came later and extended Michigan's lead from 14 to a probably-insurmountable 17. Early in this game any points seemed like a good idea in case the skies truly opened up.
Not that it mattered, but this wouldn't be MGoBlog without minute dissection of every possible game theory decision.
Even if you didn't like the kick you should note with approval that Michigan tried to take their two-minute opportunity at the end of the half only to be foiled by a bad snap after they'd moved the ball 19 yards.
Never again. Hey, guys, we're past Annual Denard Versus Illinois Injury Scare, and this one was the best of all because Denard came back and Illinois scored no points anyway. High five.
Michigan has now survived half the season with only one major injury, that to Blake Countess. While Wormley and Brink being out strips Michigan of some of its DL depth, neither guy was playing much or projected to play much—hard to imagine Wormley being a major step up from Michigan's current three-tech/SDE production.
That's getting off relatively light. Anyone glancing at Iowa City or East Lansing will get quick confirmation of that. Brady Hoke poops magic, still going strong.
Everything is not a bubble screen. I got a half-dozen tweets after the Gallon touchdown about bubble screens, and I knew that there had been a disturbance in the force due to announcer incompetence. Watching the highlights, I found out: the PBP guy thinks any throw to a wide receiver behind the line of scrimmage is a bubble screen.
That's not true, obviously, and the Gallon touchdown was the Always Works Every Time Except That One Time Against Iowa throwback screen. That play has little to do with the various critiques leveled around here about the lack of edge pressure applied by the Borges spread. It works by getting the playside tackle out on the edge without blocking that DE, and that gets you a chunk of yards. Michigan's broke huge as Michigan picked up +++ downfield blocks from Schofield and Kwiatkowski:
Schofield got a piece of the safety 20 yards downfield. That's a throwback to his days as a guard and a reason Rodriguez was so hyped on acquiring him. Michigan's OL can still get downfield like a boss.
Anyway, the throwback screen has been a strange disconnected bit of the offense that Borges pulls out once a game that picks up between 15 and 70 yards without fail except that one time against Iowa. It's always run from under center; it's obviously a pretty awesome play but it isn't yet anything more than a dime store novelty because the core of the offense remains spread.
Lewan injury scares. Taylor Lewan wasn't the first choice in warmups and again exited before the rest of the offensive line; a couple of people have mentioned to me that he seemed to have a limp as he went back to the locker room at half-time. This is fine, because Lewan is in fact powered by injury. Tom Gholston will rip his leg off, laugh evilly, and turn around only to be faced with a being of unimaginable power created by his very own hands.
PROTIP: let's not try to throw screens over that guy.
Fitz vs Rawls vs Hayes vs Norfleet fight. The Toussaint Job Threat watch is still on after his YPC was the worst of anyone who got more than one carry—and the guy who got that one carry also almost took a punt return 90-some yards.
Rawls has earned some more playing time—if he's not taking over short yardage duties posthaste I'll be surprised—and will be given an opportunity to take some chunk of the carries, but Fitz is going to remain the starter, I'd imagine. Michigan did hand it off to Rawls on an inverted veer, FWIW.
Rotation. Michigan had more of it in this game, especially one Pipkins:
That started early on Illinois's somewhat annoying early successes straight up the gut. I'll have to see what was going on there in the UFR; live it seemed like a thing that Michigan was not quite expecting but quickly got fixed. Think early Rodriguez offenses in the first half versus the second.
Moore return, maybe not so much. Brandon Moore was back and still apparently behind Kwiatkowski and Funchess, possibly also Williams. I saw him whiff a block badly on one of his limited snaps. I don't think he's getting much playing time back.
Everybody Hates Russell. It was bad enough that Michigan receivers reacted to Russell Bellomy's passes like they were radioactive, but does the media have to pile on? Daily:
Bellomy struggles in spotlight
Apparently the offense couldn’t move a single yard without Robinson under center, and the Wolverines settled for a field goal…
Fans’ expectations for the quarterback position could be a bit exaggerated because they’ve been spoiled by the exhilarating play of Robinson, but Bellomy didn’t do a great job of living up to any expectations in his brief role on Saturday.
On the following drive, he tossed a pair of incomplete passes — granted, the second was dropped by fifth-year wide receiver Roy Roundtree — before Michigan punted on a three-and-out.
Russell Bellomy wasn't exactly sparkling in mop up duty for Robinson. He took over with the ball inside the five in the second quarter, and couldn't get Michigan into the end zone. He also lost a fumbled snap in the second half.
Michigan's backup quarterback situation is shaky. Russell Bellomy struggled somewhat. He let a snap squirt right through his hands, and he completed just 1/3 passes. I'm not a huge fan of what I've seen out of Devin Gardner as a quarterback, and I do think Bellomy has potential down the road . . . but boy, does he look shaky right now. He wasn't helped out by his receivers, though, who had their hands on both incompletions; but Bellomy looks afraid to push the ball down the field, and he's not very crisp running the plays.
Come on guys, he handed off a couple times and threw a few passes that were dropped. Given the conditions, the fumbled snap is not a huge surprise—I file Bellomy's performance under incomplete.
Hoke likes him. Yeah.
Another lost shoe. An epidemic. This never happened before. What's the deal?
Roh pretty damn good. Two of Michigan's WDE's switched positions in the offseason, and that was pretty worrying. At least one of those seems to be working out pretty well: SDE Craig Roh. Check out Michigan's first third and short stop. Watch 88, the DE to the top of the screen:
Shift a step before snap to line up right over the TE, get under the TE, move upfield and pop the pulling guard. That's why Demens is free to tackle. That's a full point in UFR that doesn't show up at all in the box score, and Roh has been doing that consistently for the first six games. There's a stretch at 2:14 that's similar: Ryan gets a TFL because Roh beats his guy playside.
Also on that first play Jake Ryan pops his guy back and disengages to make that Demens tackle a matter of stopping an already-falling guy's momentum. Funny how Demens is a lot better now that he's not eating guys on a free release. Speaking of…
JAKE F RYAN. Ryan needs no explanation, and in this game he put up the kind of stat line that makes even distant observers sit up and take notice: 11 tackles, 7 solo, 3.5 TFLs, a sack and a half. He also got some of those Roh plays—the stuffed fourth and inches was Ryan getting the two-for-one with a slant under the tackle and letting Demens roar up into the hole untouched.
Repeat of all things previous about all Big Ten, verge of—the next two weeks will either solidify that or delay it.
A screen worked, to a running back and everything. That's an everything's coming up Milhouse moment.
Scheelhaase out. At least one team in the Big Ten is willing to remove a guy with a concussion. Terry Hawthorne didn't play, either. Objection from UV withdrawn.
OL doing stuff. Big Robinson runs resulted from:
- Omameh blowing up Spence one on one.
- Lewan blowing up a DE on the easy Denard draw TD.
- Omameh blowing up Spence again on the 49-yarder
Student section fight. Michigan State:
Difference is that Michigan was up by a billion in a noncompetitive game, and they look to have about twice the people. Win for Michigan.
Yakety sax pending. THE KIDS ARE PLAYING THEIR TAILS OFF AND THE COACHES ARE SCREWING IT UP
FURMAN DESTROY. My only disappointment with the above highlight reel is that it leaves out a fifteen-yard penalty on Michigan, when Josh Furman went Fresno State on an Illinois punt returner. A personal reaction:
OHHHH HE'S GONNA LIGHT THAT GUY UP
/ball hits ground
That punt had ridiculous hangtime, is what I'm saying.
Damn you, Special K. Damn you. You know, you get through two full games without hearing the Dog Groomers play "In The Big House" and you think you're out of the woods and then they bring it back. False hope is worse than death.
I am so with you HSR:
Really, I could have like six anti-Special K bullets here, but will it really do any good?
The weirdest thing was the soulful acoustic guitar thing they played for like an entire commercial break. YEAH I'M FIRED UP HIT ME WITH THE JOSE GONZALEZ I CAME HERE FOR WARRRRRRRR.
Now you can't do it. Ace mentioned the on-field proposal after everyone had cleared out Saturday, and now the gentleman who totally one-upped you passed along the event itself:
Jonathan San declares "I've never made that many girls scream before," and he's got you topped. Unless you're Steve Breaston—in which case respext, you are good at football.
Dang big gap. The MSU line opened at M –11.5 and currently stands at M –10.5.
After watching the Spartan fan-fail, I was curious to see how UofM's students would approach the game. Even though the weather was basically the same - rain - the stands looked full to me. There were a few who left the game in the 2nd half, but I'm sure if we would have gone to double OT, the stands would have been full. So even though State may have won the last four games in the series, they have a long way to go to match the University of Michigan on the field, in the classroom, and in the stands.
Also, ST3 goes to badminton practice. MICHIGAN MENZ.
Turd Ferguson kicks off a rivalry week with a dossier of Michigan State's recent achievements, as well:
Michigan State athletics programs have become pioneers in 21st-century teambuilding. Concerned about the rapid decline of face-to-face contact, MSU athletes have repeated come together, in large groups, to contact the faces of their fellow athletesand classmates.
Spartans are known to generously extend a hand to those in need. They’ve developed a prison-to-work program seen by many as a model for how to reduce to an absolute minimum the time between prison and work. Their athletic director moonlights as avolunteer career counselor and their football coach as a public speaking coach, offering their time even to supposed athletic rivals. When one of their neighbors could use help just stretching his neck, scratching his eye, massaging his arm, or bludgeoning his face, a Spartan is always there to assist.
As I mentioned a moment ago, I was lucky enough to play football, first on Ferry Field and then in the stadium. And I was lucky enough to start a few games in the football season of 1934–and that was quite a year. The Wolverines on that memorable occasion played Ohio State, and we lost 34 to 0. And to make it even worse, that was the year we lost seven out of eight of our scheduled games. But you know, what really hurt me the most was when my teammates voted me their most valuable player. I didn’t know whether to smile or sue. [Laughter]
It’s seems like a simple expectation but you forget, especially in the aftermath of the Alabama and Notre Dame games, that these coaches have a track record of making players better. You are seeing it. The defense confident and fun to watch and they’ve retooled the gameplan with Denard and it’s clearly working. I’ll take this stat line 24/7: 7-11, 2 TD, 0 INT.
If yesterday was a heavyweight title fight it was over in the first round. The only drama came when the champion hurt his hand because he was hitting the challenger's face too much. TKO Round 1 - UMass played harder in the Big House.
One thing we do know is the defense put in an amazing performance against Illinois. They were held to 3.3 yards per carry (with a standard deviation of 5.1 yards). These two stats indicate that not only did the D hold the Illini in check, but that they kept them from pulling off many big runs; in fact, Illinois only had one run of over ten yards all day, the Nathan Scheelhaase dash that knocked him out of the game. If you calculate the standard error about the mean, it's 0.14 yards, suggested that if U-M and Illinois face of again and again, Michigan would hold them to under 3.5 YPC again and again and again. That's consistency. That's dominance.
Al Borges continues to pare down his play calling to suit this team, and it has worked the past two weeks as Michigan has run for just under 330 yards per game and thrown the ball only 27 times total. The
When Odysseus* returned home, he was met with a cohort of unruly suitors. Like those suitors, Illinois simply did not have the strength to string the bow and fire.
RAMROTH FINNEGAN declares Michigan by far his best visit. I know the kid is destined to end up at Cincinnati, where all the best names go, but let's savor this moment when it is just fate, not fact.
In our last nine Big Ten games, we’ve scored 7, 14, 7, 14, 17, 7, 7, 14, and 0 points. 9.7 points per game. Has to be the worst such stretch since the 1970′s, right? We had huge offensive failings in 2005 and 2003 and 1997 and even 1993. But we’ve never had a stretch like this, have we? I mean, since the days of 0-0 ties with Northwestern and such in the 70′s. Can anyone remember anything this bad?
Less than two years ago, we scored 63 points at Michigan. With Nathan Scheelhaase at quarterback. How could we fall that far in 24 months? Yes, Michigan’s defense has improved tenfold over RichRod’s 2010 defense. But from 63 points to zero? How is that even possible?
Mainstream folk. Grades are somewhat good from Meinke. Daily game story. Smith sat out with a hamstring issue, "boo-boo" resurfaces as nonspecific Denard injury term. Helfand on Michigan's defense. Estes on Kenny Demens. Meinke on MSU week. Baumgardner on lack of turnovers.
- Vincent Smith was held out due to a hamstring.
- Kenny Demens jumped the route and got the interception because he knew it was coming based on film study and preparation.
- Fitz's job isn't necessarily in danger; Hoke says he just wanted to get the other tailbacks some quality work.
- Hoke made the decision to pick Desmond Morgan for No. 48 before realizing the Grand Rapids connection, but learning of it made it cooler.
File, because I forgot to bring my camera and I forgot to take a picture of Hoke with my phone because I was a little out of it because I wasn't feeling well because I was ... dehydrated. Yeah. Dehydrated.
“It was good to win Homecoming. It’s good to win any time. And really thought complete game-wise, a lot of ways this was the most complete we played. Running the ball with the running backs, Denard obviously had some great runs in there. I thought defensively, after the second series, third series, we started playing Michigan defense. Played well against the run. And then I thought when we did that on first and second down it gave us an opportunity to try and put some pressure on the quarterback and helped the guys do a nice job. Some things in there -- we had some penalties, running the ball early, [penalties] against our defense we weren’t happy with, but overall it’s probably as complete as we’ve played, but it’s not near good enough.”
Both fronts look very solid. Your assessment?
“I think really up front defensively, I didn’t think we were playing with gap integrity and getting of blocks as well as we needed to. They were hitting in there and getting four or five yards, or five or six yards. That wasn’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage. I thought we had some more work to do there. I thought we played better as the game went on. I think at the same time there was a lot of improvement. From an offensive standpoint, as we continue to grow to some degree, I think we’re playing a little better when you look at pad level, I think we’re playing a little better with the speed we want to play with.”
There were a couple critical fourth down stops by your defense when the game was still in doubt. How important were those plays?
“Those were critical, but the one where they went for it on fourth down and our defense stepped up and did a nice job, we got the ball [with] two minutes, and we got nothing. That’s frustrating because we felt coming in the locker room after half time that we left some points on the board. You can’t do that when you play for championships.”
Quinton Washington and Kenny Demens?
“And I’ll tell you. Quinton has improved every game. It’s exciting as a coach when you see a guy who steps out there and gains confidence and plays better, and he’s a big part of our football team, and he’s a wonderful young man. Kenny, I tell you, the interception, he had seen the route. He was prepared. And that’s one thing we’ve done better as a team is the preparation. He knew formationally, he knew route-wise, he knew when they lined up what route was coming so he could jump the route. That’s the maturity that you like to see in your football team. Kenny being a senior, you expect that, but when it works out you’re excited about that.”
Can you assess how Russell Bellomy played, and how important is it to give him some good game experience?
“It always is, you know. Russ, we’re very excited about Russ Bellomy, and have been. He came in there with a lot of confidence. We had the one exchange problem alter in the game, and I think the ball slipped or we didn’t get it up enough, but he’s a guy that we think is a good quarterback. That’s why we recruited him. It was good to get him some work. Obviously meaningful work, but any work is good work.”
At what point do you start thinking about Michigan State?
“I don’t know. I mean I hope the guys enjoy this right now. I don’t know if you ever don’t think about rivalry games. I think that’s always part of what makes us special being Michigan.”
Why did you choose Desmond for the jersey, and did you lay any special expectations for him with Gerald Ford being a president and all that?
“Yeah. And I’ll tell you, it was very easy to choose Desmond because of his character and his integrity, because of how he comes every day in our building, I think in our classroom, in the community. He’s a great kid. It would really -- the grand rapids connection didn’t have a whole lot to do with it until I felt that I was going to do it with Desmond and then it kind of clicked in.”
What was the thought process behind using Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls earlier in the game?
“Um, you know, we just wanted to give them both some more carries. I think competition is always healthy for everybody, so giving those guys out there some time. Vince, we didn’t play him at all becaues he had a little bit of a hamstring, and that’s where Justice got some more reps because of that. Giving Thomas more carries was part of it.”
Is it still Fitz’s job?
When Denard went out, how confident were you that you could win with your defense?
“I’d like to tell you I was very confident. I felt good that our guys on defense, and then the other piece of it I thought our kicking game -- I thought we had kind of challenged that group, challenged ourselves as coaches. Our kicking game had to make improvements and has to continue to. At that part of it, I was comfortable if that’s the way it would have gone.”
Was Denard’s boo boo a hand injury?
“Just a boo boo.”
How relieved were you that it wasn’t that serious?
“Any time any guy gets dinged up with boo boos and stuff, you always worry about it.”
It’s two games in a row that Denard hasn’t thrown an interception. Is that comfort with the game plan or just maturity?
“I think it’s a combination of both. I think he obviously reassessed probably after Notre Dame a little bit. I think we all did. I think game plan-wise, we were bound and determined that we were going to run the football. In the passing game, the play-action part of it, the part of the passing offense that he felt most comfortable with.”
Can you assess Fitz’s play today? Did he get the jumpstart he needed? Second question is how much did you stress not peeking to Michigan State?
“I’ll answer the second question first. I didn’t even talk about it because our guys never even mentioned it, looked at it. I was really surprised, but I felt real confident about every week for us is a championship game no matter what. So they have to prepare for every opponent like a championship game. There was none of that in the locker room or anywhere else. It was Illinois and how we wanted to play and how we wanted to prepare. I thought Fitz ran the ball hard. I thought he got more north and south. Jump starting? I hope. But at the same time, I think there were two runs I didn’t really like, but other than that, I thought he really started getting vertical.”
Is it fair to say he needed a jump start?
“Eh, I don’t know. You gotta explain jump start. Is that when your battery dies and you -- ”
“Well we didn’t do that with him. But I just think, and I said this before -- it’s not always the back. There’s 10 other guys other there. If Denard doesn’t carry out fakes very well, then that’s not going to be effective. And I just saw that as a piece of coaching and how you put an offense together.”
You always preach relentless effort. Can you talk about Jake Ryan missing the quarterback, hitting the ground, and then coming back to force the fumble?
“You know, Greg and the defensive staff do a tremendous job when you talk about effort and the toughness that you need to play football at Michigan with, and defense at Michigan with. And the pride that, number one, the self-pride that Jake has and how this is a football player. It’s more of a Michigan pride than team pride and a defensive pride -- that’s not why he got off the ground and forced a fumble, but that’s part of who he is and who we want to represent.”
Outside of a two-possession stretch when Michigan fans held their breath as Denard Robinson was sidelined with a pinky injury, the Wolverines couldn't have made it any easier to look ahead to next week's game against Michigan State, pounding a hapless Illinois squad, 45-0.
If anything, the final score belied Michigan's dominance. The offense moved the ball at will, rushing for 353 yards on 6.9 per carry and adding 174 through the air on just 15 attempts. The defense held the Illini to a mere 134 yards, including an unheard-of 29 yards on 16 passes; while it didn't help matters when starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase exited in the second quarter with an upper-body injury, his four yards on six attempts weren't lighting the world on fire.
Seemingly every play called by Al Borges worked as intended, starting with a 71-yard touchdown to Jeremy Gallon on a bubble screen* to open the scoring; Gallon weaved through the Illini defense, helped by stellar downfield blocking, most notably by tight end Mike Kwiatkowski. The next drive stalled near the goal line for a field goal after Denard exited the game with a banged-up pinky; it was the only moment when Michigan fans felt even a hint of concern.
The Wolverines continued to establish their identity as a run-first, run-second outfit on Denard's first possession back in the lineup, gaining all 68 of their yards on the ground en route to a six-yard scramble for Michigan's dreaded wonder. When Robinson opened the second half with a physics-defying 49-yard scamper to paydirt, the rout was on in earnest. Illinois's next possession ended after one play, a Kenny Demens interception of Reilly O'Toole. Three plays later, Devin Funchess hauled in a Robinson lob in the back of the end zone, bringing the score to 31-0 before many fans had returned with their halftime hot chocolates.
On the other side of the ball, Jake Ryan flashed his All-American potential again and again, amassing 11 tackles (7 solo), four TFLs, 1.5 sacks, and a devastating forced fumble as he flushed O'Toole out of the pocket, doubled back, and blindsided him to jar the ball loose. Denard Robinson may have finished with four touchdowns, 159 yards passing, and 128 yards rushing, but Ryan made a legitimate claim for best Wolverine on the field.
Ryan wasn't the only standout, as seven Wolverines tallied tackles for loss, neither Illini quarterback could find an open receiver, and Greg Mattison's blitzes hit home time and again. Two years ago, Michigan faced this same Illinois squad—with the same starting quarterback, even—and gave up 561 yards and 65 points. Against this defense, the Illini would need almost a full 17 quarters to rack up that same yardage; no matter how long they went, they'd obviously never reach that point total.
Safe to say, times have changed for both programs.
Michigan has found their perfect match at head coach and defensive coordinator. The offense under Al Borges has had their growing pains, but it's clear that they've found a suitable balance since the bye week to maximize Denard's remaining time as a Wolverine.
After the game, the marching band spelled out "Marry Me, Danielle?" as a band member dropped to a knee at midfield. Like everything the Wolverines dialed up on Saturday, the play was a success. On a cold, grey, rainy day in Ann Arbor, only the weather could dampen the spirits of those in Maize and Blue.
*On second look, it wasn't exactly a bubble screen, as Gallon started downfield before stopping and coming back to the line; a very well drawn-up play regardless.
- Trouba is the truth. Three assists, one leveling open-ice hit, and defensive responsibility until everyone got sloppy up a ton in the third. A tape to tape breakout pass machine. Money money money.
- Andrew Copp is an interesting guy to keep an eye on. Not a big recruit by any stretch of the imagination but Copp stood out as a big dude with some jump; he split time between football and hockey in high school and may develop into something a bit better than Danny Fardig 2.0.
- Moffatt-Treais-PDG looks to be your top line, at least for now, with the wingers on that line seeming to have good chemistry. Looking for a bustout year from PDG, who was young enough to get drafted after his freshman year and should improve greatly.
- Brennan Serville is another guy I'll be watching early for signs of improvement, especially with Merrill out six weeks and Serville skating every night as a result. Initial impression was not much different than last year's struggles, unfortunately, but confirmation bias and all that.
- I miss Hunwick. Rutledge gave up a soft goal in his period and looked like he had holes all over. This may be paranoia.
The mid-tier guys (Moffie, Bennett, Guptill, Old Lynch, Hyman) were scratched, FWIW. Hyman's another guy I'm hoping will start producing more after his freshman hype fizzled.
Jake Ryan, basically. Roh on Ryan:
“He’s like a Tootsie Pop,” Roh said. “No matter how many times you talk to him, you really never know what you’re going to get until you get to the chocolatey center.”
Zach Helfland asks the obvious question:
Meaning what exactly?
“I don’t know,” Roh said. “You can’t describe him, really. He’s like, I don’t know, he’s like smart but dumb at the same time, but he’s also just random, just like, ‘Yo,’ randomly.”
YO. Elsewhere in that article, Ryan is an alien. Read it.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO JT FLOYD WHYYYY
"I told him right before I cut them, 'Man, 'Lace, I'm going to cut 'em,'" Floyd said. "He's like, 'No you're not, no you're not.'
"He was the first guy I saw. He just looked at me and smiled, 'Man, I can't believe you did it.' We had a little dreadlock bond, I guess. Now I'm trying to persuade him to cut 'em"
but it's not going to happen. Not going to happen."
Ticket pricing update. To be fair The M Zone needs to continue their scalping project into next year to see what it's like trying to grab OSU tickets online, but so far so good for the idea we're closing in on the max amount people will pay to go to Michigan games:
Endzone Seats on StubHub:
UMass - Saved $64.72
Illinois - Saved $31.72
Total Endzone StubHub Savings So Far - $96.44
Maize Seats on StubHub:
UMass - Saved $87.38
Illinois - Saved $43.38
Total Maize Section Savings So Far - $130.76
Victors Seats on StubHub:
UMass - Saved $165.24
Illinois - Saved $98.12
Total Victors Section Savings So Far - $263.36
MSU is looking like a win for season ticket holders but that's the only one, and that's with Stubhub's massive cut (15% from the seller plus 20 bucks in "convenience fees" from the buyer) taken into account.
Willis Ward to be honored. Michigan's going to do it, and it's all thanks to an eight year old girl:
"A lot of people like to listen to little kids, and you should speak up and make a difference," said Genna, a Brighton third-grader.
She addressed the university's board of regents in March and lobbied state legislators in June to name a special day after star U-M football player Willis Ward, who was benched for a game against Georgia Tech in 1934 because he was black.
Genna succeeded, and Willis — a friend and teammate of future President Gerald Ford — will be honored by the state and school next week.
Like flies. Blocking-type Michigan State people continue to get injured at an alarming rate. TE Dion Sims may or may not play against Michigan; if he doesn't they probably won't be throwing his backup many passes:
Andrew Gleichert, a walk-on who was awarded a scholarship before the opener against Boise State, has a broken wrist and will have to play with a cast the rest of the season.
"We got concerned with him being a point-of-attack blocker," Roushar said. "We feel like he's got to do a better job. He's working on it. With the loss of Dion, you're looking for something stronger at the point of attack."
Meanwhile, former megarecruit Lawrence Thomas went from linebacker to 295-pound fullback and can't move down to tight end this week because he picked up a concussion against Indiana—his second since August. He's expected to play against Iowa because obviously.
[AFTER AN UNUSUAL UV JUMP: THINGS PEOPLE DID TO THE DANNY HOPEDOKEN GIF]
Formation notes: Michigan set to blowing up Purdue's screen game by sliding their linebackers over to any trips formation like so:
The guy nose to nose with the WR on the LOS is Jake Ryan. I called this "4-3 even slide." Here's a closer look on another play:
Kovacs would come down on the other side to play tiny linebacker.
A couple of times Purdue went to formations like this and Michigan split their linebackers way out wide:
Yeah that looks super-vulnerable to the run but Purdue couldn't get any creases so it's not. Nice trick to put five in the box with two deep safeties and not get gashed.
Note that M spent most of the game in an even front instead of an under. This appears to be their default against spreads.
Substitution notes: Secondary was as usual: Taylor/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon with Avery coming in for nickel packages. Morgan and Demens got almost every meaningful snap; Ryan saw most but Cam Gordon did get a couple drives.
The line was more Washington/Campbell regular stuff than the nickel business that didn't work so well against the UMass spread.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Quick hitch||Ryan||4|
|M ends up way spread out by Purdue in a double stack-ish formation. Purdue goes with a dink pass that Ryan(+0.5, tackling +1) is close enough to get a no-YAC tackle on, but only just. He would have delayed the receiver long enough for the D to rally even if he hadn't managed to get the receiver down.|
|O29||2||6||Shotgun trips bunch TE||4-3 even slide||Run||N/A||Zone belly||Kovacs||5|
|M moves Ryan all the way out to the hash where the bunch is and has Demens a bit further inside; Morgan is the only actual LB in the box; Kovacs overhangs to the short side. Purdue tries to take advantage by running a belly zone at the backside. Clark contains; give. Campbell(-0.5) gives a little too much ground and Kovacs(-0.5) is hesitant when he's got a free run at the ballcarrier—seems like he doesn't entirely trust Clark, which fair enough. Clark comes down to tackle with help from Kovacs near the sticks.|
|O34||3||1||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull counter||Demens||0|
|Fullback goes away from the play and RB takes a counter step as two linemen pull around the other way and TerBush pitches. This probably should have worked but one of the pulling linemen goes for Taylor instead of looking for a linebacker flowing from the inside. The other blocks Ryan(+0.5) who sheds quickly and comes upfield but does get in a shoestring tackle attempt that helps make the RB an easy target; Demens(+1) did flow quickly and get to the hole to tackle(+1) short of the sticks. Mostly just a Purdue screwup but M did execute some.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. See you in ten minutes, D.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 under||Pass||4||Sack||Ryan||-11|
|Clark flares out just as the field WR goes in motion, which gives M more of a 3-4 look but the DEs are tucked inside. Anyway, he's upfield to deal with the potential-end around on the snap. It's play action; no one open as Gordon(+1, cover +1) pulls up and moves out on the TE drag coming across the field. Ryan(+2, pressure +2) is unblocked backside and making for the QB all the way. He has the agility and discipline to not overrun the QB and makes a massive sack as Terbush can't risk the throw to the covered safety valve. RPS +3—this was dead to rights.|
|O21||2||21||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Counter trap||Morgan||10|
|Roh(+0.5) actually does a good job to not run way upfield once the G over him releases and comes down on a the trapping OL, which forces the RB to go outside of him. Demens(-0.5) and Morgan(-1) do not take that opportunity. Morgan doesn't read the G pull right over him and gets locked out by a tackle releasing. Demens goes upfield of his blocker and doesn't make a play; probably not relevant because Morgan didn't read it but still bad. Kovacs fills for his only tackle of the day(!).|
|O31||3||11||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||4||Rollout hitch||Floyd||Inc|
|Rollout gets TerBush all day (pressure -2) but no one is open at all (cover +3) and Floyd(+2) is there to break on the ball and get a PBU when TerBush eventually has to pull the trigger on a throw as he nears the chalk.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 even slide||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||11|
|Floyd(-1, cover -1) is unable to tackle on this five-yard hitch and turns it into a first down.|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun double stack||4-3 even split||Pass||4||PA bubble screen||CGordon||3|
|Ish, anyway. Cam Gordon(+1) is getting blocked by the outside WR in an almost-stacked formation as TerBush throws to the inside guy who is shuffling backwards on the catch. That's one on one with Taylor but Gordon's blown his blocker back and cut off the inside so the WR has nowhere to go and gets sandwiched by Taylor and Gordon after a small gain.|
|M49||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Rollout fly||Beyer||Inc|
|Beyer(-1, pressure -1) is hacked to the ground by the tailback and just kind of stops there; he didn't get cut, he got CUT. This gives TerBush all day on the edge. Demens is coming up to turn that pressure on and TerBush misses badly on a WR who had an okay gap between Avery and Kovacs. Coverage push; this wasn't too bad in the secondary.|
|M49||3||7||Shotgun 2-back||Okie two||Pass||5||Hitch||Morgan||5|
|Slot blitz from Avery plus a hash to hash zone drop from Morgan that he holds up on; notably, this h2h drop features the guy looking all the way. Avery(+0.5, pressure +1) gets in free, forcing a quick throw. Morgan(+0.5) is combining with Gordon(+0.5, cover +1) to box in the obvious hot read from the corner blitz and get the guy down short of the sticks. RPS +1; M got exactly what they wanted on this play.|
|M44||4||2||Shotgun trips||4-3 even slide||Pass||4||Hitch||Taylor||INT|
|This should be a five yard completion for the first down, which okay. Terbush throws it high, WR deflects, Taylor(+1) is like okay free touchdown yay. Cover –1.|
|Drive Notes: Defensive TD, 21-0, 12 min 2nd Q. Boilers fumble ensuing KO.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Quick pitch||Floyd||0|
|CGordon(+1) in for Ryan, playing with his hand down. He is upfield on the snap as the T releases downfield and forces a scary pitch that is well behind the RB and almost dropped. RB brings it in, spinning. The spin takes him outside into Floyd(+1), who has set up at the numbers at the LOS and forces it back to the pursuing CGordon, except not actually because the RB runs his face into Floyd's.|
|O27||2||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||11|
|Another five yard hitch Floyd(-1) is lax on and turns into a larger gain. He's indecisive, taking a couple false steps before attacking. I'm not too mad since getting beat over the top is worse against this flailing O but be there to tackle before the sticks plz.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Roh||3|
|Roh(+0.5) holds up pretty dang well to a double for a guy his size at three tech. Clark(+0.5) is unblocked on the backside, keeps contain, and comes down quickly. Washington(+0.5) doesn't really know what's up but has blasted a single block back and will ass tackle if Clark doesn't actually tackle; more to the point there's nothing to burst through because of Washington.|
|O41||2||7||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Improv||Floyd||7|
|Floyd(-1) in press along with Avery; they're backed by safety help. Aggressive on the short routes, Terbush finds nothing (cover +2) and rolls. Token pressure from Clark; Terbush does find a WR late, with Floyd getting lax as TerBush rolls out. Get up on your man; he's not going anywhere that close to the sideline.|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch||4-3 even slide||Pass||N/A||Scramble||Ryan||2|
|Ryan(+1) is destroying things before they even exist on this play as Terbush aborts a WR screen so that Ryan doesn't kill all the people. Roh(+0.5) contains; Pipkins(+0.5) helps tackles, but this is RPS +2 mostly.|
|50||2||8||Shotgun double stack||4-3 even split||Pass||4||Improv||Beyer||20|
|Cut blocking so they want a quick throw. Ryan(+0.5) and Taylor(+0.5) are all over the routes TerBush wants and then he has to exit pocket posthaste. Roh(+1) avoided that cut and leapt, preventing a throw. Beyer(-1) overruns the QB and lets him outside the pocket, at which point Kovacs(-1) gets beat by the TE for a big gain.|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||4-3 even slide||Pass||4||Slant||Demens||Inc|
|Purdue fakes the WR screen Ryan is set to destroy and goes for a short slant behind it; ball is in front of the WR and dropped. Demens(+0.5, cover +1, RPS +1) was right there on a deeper slant and would have likely tackled this for a minimal gain if complete.|
|M30||2||10||Shotgun trips bunch||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||4||Improv||Gordon||3|
|Nothing at first(cover +2) as TerBush goes through a couple reads. Internal timer goes off and he starts trying to find a way out of the pocket. Roh(+1) gets pressure(+1), forcing a TerBush throw off the back foot that loops to his WR. He's penned in by three Wolverines and it's third and long. This ball is obviously fumbled but the refs screw it up by calling forward progress. Gordon +1 for the strip, refs –2.|
|M27||3||7||Shotgun empty||Okie one||Run||N/A||Inverted veer keeper||Morgan||4|
|Slot comes in motion for the handoff. Okie stuff gets three guys blocking the backside DT as two folks drop to LB depth. Morgan(+1) reads the pull and stands up a pulling G two yards downfield despite having no momentum; Ryan(+1) is unblocked on the backside and has the speed to close and tackle near the LOS; Demens(+0.5) reads it and finishes the play unblocked.|
|Drive Notes: FG(40), 21-3, 7 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O31||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Yakety snap||N/A||-2|
|O29||2||12||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||4||Waggle hitch||Floyd||Inc|
|Again they get the edge (pressure -1) but Roh is pursuing so it's not super easy. Coverage(+3) is excellent downfield for a long time; TerBush finds an open-ish guy that Floyd(+1) is there to break up. PBUs are usually two but this was pretty easy on a stationary WR.|
|O29||3||12||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||N/A||1|
|Michigan looks like they're trying something fancy as both DTs move way way outside, opening up a huge lane for TerBush to step into. He does, and he's looking to find someone downfield when he runs into his own tailback; the delay forces him to start moving again, at which point it's too late for him. Um. Pressure -1, Cover +2? I think we got a little lucky here.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-3, 2 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA WR screen||Kovacs||8|
|Play action allows Purdue to get a TE out to the edge without drawing LB attention. Kovacs(-1) sucks in a step or two and doesn't read the TE; he gets stalled many yards downfield. Floyd comes up to keep leverage okay. Kovacs does get off the block and Ross starts dancing around, eventually getting stuck(+0.5, tackling +1) by Morgan in space.|
|M28||2||2||Shotgun 2TE twins||Base 3-4||Pass||4||Bubble screen||Beyer||3|
|Beyer's(+1) flared out as an OLB type as Michigan goes with more of a 30 look. He's got a blocker he gets outside of, forcing the WR inside of him. Campbell and Morgan are coming out and are now useful because of the leverage but can't cut him off before the sticks. That'll happen.|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Trap||Morgan||9|
|Tough to defend this with 5.5 in the box and DTs Black and Roh. Black(-1) gets blown out as CGordon shoots upfield unblocked but also useless; two guys move through the center of the field to find one guy, Morgan(-1), who gets cut really badly. Demens(+0.5, tackling +1) flowed down the line and smashed the TB just as he breaks to the secondary; fortunate. RPS -1.|
|M16||2||1||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Flare||CGordon||Inc|
|CGordon gets a hand up but doesn't actually deflect the thing; it's just a crappy pass. I guess he gets +0.5 for maybe making the pass go badly. Taylor was coming up, with indeterminate results if this is complete.|
|M16||3||1||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Trap||Morgan||3|
|M slanting, which means the DT Purdue is running at ends up running at the trapping G and kind of seals himself, but at least this time Morgan(+0.5) is moving fast at the snap, knowing the playcall, and ends up in the hole before the tackle coming out on him can block. He can't quite get out there, though, and while he makes the tackle it's not the thumper required to prevent a first down. Demens(+0.5) did a good job to pop a guard releasing and come off to finish the tackle. RPS push; good idea but evidently tough to execute.|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Slant||Morgan||9|
|Purdue pulls a guard and Morgan(-1, cover -1) does suck up on it, but I'm not sure I'm even mad. Demens(+0.5) is not coming up and almost drops right into the route, getting a hand out and coming about an inch away from a PBU. Gordon(+1) gets a good tackle(+1) right away.|
|M4||2||1||Shotgun trips||Nickel even press||Pass||4||Slant||Taylor||4|
|Taylor(-1, cover -1) is lined up with inside leverage, bites on a feint outside, and gives up the easy slant.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-10, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Sweep||Roh||0|
|Roh(+1) bursts upfield and outside of the TE, as he's aligned outside of him and is tough to seal. That blows up any sweep type ideas as he's now cutting off the outside, which is 3 for 1! Morgan(+1) flows, takes on an awkward block by a redirecting G, and those two combine to tackle for no gain. RPS +1. Mattison blew this up with alignment.|
|O21||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even split||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||11|
|Floyd(-1, tackling -1) again turns a four yard hitch into a first down or near it by being unable to tackle on the catch.|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun double stack||4-3 even split||Run||N/A||Trap||Washington||0|
|Five guys in the box, Purdue wants to test it. Washington(+1) goes boom into the center, driving him back; this picks off the trapping G. Campbell(+0.5) gets into him in the backfield and forces an awkward bounce. Roh(+1) is riding a tackle so he can't get into Demens; as he sees the cutback he releases upfield and makes the tackle for no gain. BWS picture-paged.|
|O32||2||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||4||Slant||Floyd||Inc|
|Credit to Floyd(+2, cover +2) on this one: he is right there on this slant and gets a PBU.|
|O32||3||10||Shotgun Trips TE||Okie one||Pass||5||Tunnel screen||Avery||3|
|Clark(+1) reads the tackle releasing and starts moving outside. This doesn't get a tackle in or anything but it does force the WR vertical before he wants to go vertical; Avery(+1) is charging at the WR and tackles after a modest gain. Got lucky, as the tackle coming out should have pounded Avery and then Gordon is the man who is basically the only thing between Purdue and a TD. He probably makes the play but would have been do or die right there.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-10, 11 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||Rollout hitch||Demens||Inc|
|Coverage(+2) is good on the rollout. Ryan(+0.5) picks up a flat; Floyd(+0.5) has a deeper route; Demens(+0.5) has a hitch to the inside. Heitzman(+0.5) is delivering nominal pressure, and TerBush eventually chucks it across his body wildly; Demens almost gets a hand on it and likely would if this was more accurate.|
|O36||2||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Slant||Clark||2|
|Demens(+0.5) seems to have the inside slant; Purdue runs a bubble fake to the outside and Floyd(+1, cover +1) is definitely all over the slant that's supposed to be the gotcha counter. TerBush throws it anyway; Clark(+1) bats it as he is wont to do. Inside slant guy catches it for a few.|
|O38||3||8||I-Form twins||Nickel even||Pass||4||Rollout dig||Floyd||Inc|
|Clark is containing but there are three guys on the edge blocking so he's got no shot. This looks like it's designed to suck Michigan to the edge of the field and then hit them back inside as the outside WR runs a dig; Floyd(+2, cover +2) is all over it and gets a diving PBU.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 5 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 even slide||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Washington||-3|
|Washington(+1) shoves his man into the backfield and picks off the pulling G. Roh(+1) chucks the tackle trying to block down on him; Demens(+1) beats a WR block; Ryan(+1) does likewise and attacks, getting a diving TFL. If he misses he's still forced the guy upfield and Demens and Gordon will blow him up anyway. Morgan(+0.5) was scraping to the hole if it went further upfield. Ain't nowhere to go.|
|O20||2||13||Shotgun 2TE twins||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hook and ladder||N/A||20|
|More like a fake tunnel and ladder but whatever. Okay, they get M. I'm not minusing the D, but this is an RPS -2.|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun empty||4-3 even||Pass||4||Out||Taylor||14|
|A five yard out Taylor(-0.5, cover -1) can't tackle on the catch. CGordon(-1, tackling -1) is coming out as the WR turns upfield and overruns it. Gordon fends off a block to slow the guy and gets an ankle tackle as Taylor recovers to tackle.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Sprint counter||Pipkins||11|
|Heitzman left unblocked; he flows up to contain the QB. The line hasn't gotten gapped on the backside but there's a big hole between Heitzman and Pipkins(-0.5), who doesn't slow the back...I think he may be right to cut this thing off but I'd like to see him realize where the ball is going faster and at least bother the guy. Demens was pass-dropping; he gets into a blocker and contains about three yards downfield. Morgan(-0.5) went around a blocker upfield and almost almost makes a nice play to hold this down but cannot. Kovacs fills; pile falls past sticks. RPS -1.|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||WR screen||Taylor||2|
|M shows cover one and that they will send CGordon off the edge. Purdue shows a sweep to the left and just throws it at a single receiver to the right. Taylor(+1, tackling +1) comes up to make a stop after a minimal gain. Beyer flowing out from the line helped, I guess, but not really sure what Purdue is trying to accomplish here.|
|M33||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||4||Scramble||N/A||6|
|Again all of the time on the edge. Clark(-1) gets sealed inside, though the RB leading out there is just looking to block. Pressure –2. No one open (cover +3) despite all day, Marve runs for a few.|
|M27||3||2||Shotgun 2TE tight||4-3 even||Pass||4||TE out||Kovacs||1|
|Kovacs(+0.5) and Floyd(+0.5, cover +1) are right there on one yard pass and force a fourth down. RPS +1.|
|M25||4||In||Ace trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||QB sneak||N/A||1|
|They get it.|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||4-3 even||Pass||4||Scramble||Beyer||2|
|Initial read is covered and then Beyer(+0.5) and Campbell(+0.5, pressure +1) collapse the pocket, with Beyer going around the edge and Campbell bulling an interior OL back. Still nobody open(a total over cover +2) as Marve gets the edge; he scrambles for a couple.|
|M22||2||8||Shotgun trips||4-3 even slide||Pass||4||Throwaway||Morgan||Inc + 11 Pen|
|Looks like miscommunication but Marve is just throwing this away; his OL cut the interior guys so the WR's route is right. That's a slant that Morgan(+1, cover +1) is going to pick six if thrown. Roh(+0.5) and Beyer(+0.5) are beating guys upfield and meeting at the QB so Marve has to get rid of it. Pressure +1. Washington(-1) gets a personal foul. No idea why, no replay.|
|M11||1||10||Shotgun 2-back TE||Nickel even||Pass||5||Sack||Ryan||-6|
|Max pro with two WRs. Marve thinks they're covered(+1) and starts rolling, unwisely, as Ryan(+1) avoids a cut and charges at him. Ryan can't bring him down but does force him to the sideline. Roh(+0.5) pursues fast and finishes forcing him OOB.|
|Purdue's OL derfs as both guys blocking Roh(+1) let him go and move to the second level. Roh does contain the back and force him back to the rest of his DL; Beyer(+0.5) finishes the tackle.|
|M19||3||18||Shotgun empty||Okie zero||Pass||4||Throwaway||Ryan||Inc|
|Mattison zone blitz as Demens is lined up over the G, fakes like he's coming, and backs out. That occupies a G; C occupied by Black. Ryan(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) gets to roar straight up the middle of the pocket untouched and level Marve, who chucks it out of the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: FG(36), 31-13, 12 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Reverse||Roh||11|
|Ryan and Roh are on the edge here. Ryan goes straight upfield to cut off the outside; Roh starts running straight for the sideline, opening up a lane. Roh(-2) should have let Ryan handle the contain. Gordon comes up to tackle.|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Out||Taylor||5|
|Taylor(+0.5, cover +1) in cover two and tackles on the catch.|
|O32||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||5||Drag||Ryan||INT|
|Ryan(+1) blitzes, stunting inside into the center, beating him and again shooting straight upfield at Marve. Clark(+1) beat the RT with a speed rush. Those guys are going to crush Marve, so he throws. It's a drag route Demens(+0.5, cover +1) is going to blow up short of the first down; WR deflects it directly to Gordon(+1), who makes the easy INT. Pressure +2, cover +1.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 34-13, 9 min 4th Q. Rob Henry gets the next drive but M starters are still mostly in so okay.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 even slide||Run||N/A||QB draw||Campbell||-2|
|Campbell(+1) drives the G back into the intended crease, convincing Henry to go outside, where he and Ojemudia(+1) combine to TFL.|
|O25||2||12||Shotgun trips||4-3 even slide||Pass||4||Hitch||Demens||5|
|Five yard route, immediate tackle. Demens +0.5|
|O30||3||7||Shotgun trips bunch||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||5||TE out||Ojemudia||4|
|Three man front with two LBs flanking. Ojemudia(+1) swims past a guard, as does Black(+0.5), though Black is not as quick. Ojemudia looks held, no call. QB chucks another short dink route; Floyd(+0.5) there for an immediate tacke. Pressure +1, cover +1.|
|O34||4||3||Shotgun trips||4-3 even slide||Run||N/A||Inverted veer keeper||-1|
|Ojemudia(+2) shuffles down a bit, then moves upfield as the back gets there, which causes a pull... and causes the pulling G to go for him. Ojemudia goes upfield of that block and starts making an ankle tackle; Morgan(+0.5) was unblocked thanks to the Ojemudia play and helps finish with CGordon, who came from the backside quickly.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 37-13, 5 min 4th Q. One more drive but mostly backups so fin.|
I almost kind of expect this.
I know. Like… I know. But even if you kind of expect that you can't actually expect that, you know?
I don't know, you know?
Well, the thing is I've been doing these things for a while and I kind of know what a reasonable number is for a lot of this stuff and the numbers for this game are just not reasonable. I think we should look at
|Roh||8.5||2||6.5||Reliable. Active. Mini-RVB.|
|Campbell||2||0.5||1.5||Purdue only bothered to test M DTs a couple times.|
|Washington||2.5||1||1.5||So like whatever.|
|Clark||3.5||1||2.5||Another batted pass.|
|Beyer||2.5||2||0.5||Got cut pretty badly that one time.|
|Heitzman||0.5||-||0.5||no comment possible for one half point|
|Ojemudia||4||-||4||All of this on last drive but that was impressive on the veer|
|TOTAL||24.5||8||16.5||When Purdue tried to run at hilariously few guys in the box they got zip.|
|Morgan||5.5||3.5||2||Overshadowed with +2, is this real life?|
|Demens||6.5||0.5||6||As I said after ND: !!!|
|Ryan||10||-||10||I call him mini Clay Matthews.|
|C. Gordon||2.5||1||1.5||Getting some run now.|
|TOTAL||24.5||5||19.5||That is incredible. Has to be the best +/- LB ratio ever.|
|Floyd||10.5||4||6.5||Got 3-4 PBUs to go with 3-4 not quite tackles on short stuff.|
|Avery||1.5||-||1.5||Tunnel screen stick.|
|Taylor||3||1.5||1.5||TD was a little bad.|
|Kovacs||0.5||2.5||-2||Plz ignore, see "coverage"|
|T. Gordon||4.5||-||4.5||Playing pretty well these days.|
|Pressure||11||7||4||Rollouts a little annoying but…|
|Coverage||34||5||29||I don't even know what to do with myself.|
|RPS||11||4||7||Mattison must break you.|
Okay, so the LB numbers and the coverage numbers I will tell you flat out without even looking are completely unprecedented. Linebacking is hard, and covering people is hard, and I've been tolerant of scores around zero for both groups. To come out of a game with 80-90% good marks just never happens.
When something like this goes down I naturally would like to sanity-check it, so… yup, eleven drives, a flat 200 yards on those drives and 13 points. 10% of Purdue's yards on a hook and ladder. Purdue starting QB averages 4.4 YPA. When hook and ladder removed, all Purdue QBs combine for 4.2 YPA and throw two INTs. Purdue rushes for 3.0 YPC. Sanity checked. Sanity is like "maybe those numbers should be a little higher."
So, yeah, don't look at the –2 for Kovacs on like the few plays he was on the screen for, look at the coverage metric, and nod your head and say woo pig sooie. (Do not say that.) This was the quintessential play from yesterday: good play action from Purdue sucks Morgan up a fraction and…
…Demens almost bats it down and Gordon tackles the guy as soon as he touches the ball. College teams cannot execute in these windows very often, and even when Purdue's stuff was working they were operating with a tiny margin for error.
I started a tweet BOOM on Saturday and later thought to myself that was out of character; now I kind of wish I had added the SHAKALAKA deserved.
I thought you were kind of mad at JT Floyd?
I am still a little when 33 of Purdue's scanty yards are acquired on little five yard hitch routes Floyd cannot tackle on immediately:
(It happened to Taylor once, FWIW. These plays were about a quarter of Purdue's entire offensive output.) Reviewing the film I found 4 PBUs—even though the official stats only give him two in my book you get a PBU for being in position to catch a ball no matter how ugly the duck that misses the WR is. PBUs are hard and get points and again, no yards for Purdue and massive coverage metric.
Floyd also had a good run fill on a quick pitch, so there's that.
Is it weird they're just going at Floyd all the time?
A lot of those were rollouts and it's easier to roll out right for a right handed quarterback and then when the play is over you're on the right hash and Floyd is the boundary corner. I bet that if Michigan had swapped their guys Purdue still would have been throwing rollouts to the boundary, only at Taylor.
That said, it is a little weird. Taylor did give up that slant on fourth and two and just got lucky; he also gave up a slant on first and goal that was not so good. If that guy beats you to the outside and they complete the fade, okay. That's a much tougher recipe than chucking that easy slant.
Taylor's still doing very well in general—again, holy coverage metric. The bet here is that Floyd's frequent targeting was just a symptom of the limited offense Michigan was going up against.
JAKE F. RYAN
Yeah man yeah yeah. Okay, so he spends a big part of the day hanging out on the edge making or threatening to make plays like he did against that one ND screen on third and four. Purdue eventually just had to abandon that part of their gameplan entirely after they couldn't even throw the ball:
Another part of the day is spent pass rushing. He's unblocked here but TerBush is decently mobile and how many times do you see guys set loose overrun opponents?
Brandon Harrison sucked at that* and he was about half Ryan's size.
Mostly Mattison but again demonstration that Jake Ryan has a killer size/speed combo. On the next drive Ryan would do that again, and Marve was all like ball gone please leave me alone.
+10, no minus, yeah baby.
*[No offense Mr. Harrison. Brandon Harrison should have been much more involved in the 2008 defense, which insanely benched him until Minnesota when the 4-2-5 nickel came back.]
Demens now has a +14, –0.5, +13.5 line the last two games. Morgan hasn't had that kind of eye-popping UFR production but he's not that far off as a true sophomore. Note that in this game the veterans kept the rookies entirely off the field—that should tell you the coaches are a lot happier with them than they were a couple games ago.
Against a team that runs as much dinky pass stuff as Purdue that's mostly a compliment to their pass coverage.
I'll have to take a pass this week as Purdue barely tested the DTs. When they did, Michigan responded, as BWS documented in a picture pages. I will say that Roh is handling SDE duties just fine so far; he's becoming the half-point machine RVB was last year where he's not lining up the opposing QB for killshots but is getting to him consistently, is stringing stuff out and closing off holes and doing all the littler things that make life easier for everyone else.
Anyone new emerging?
I was impressed by Mario Ojemudia's brief cameo at the end of the game. He swam past an offensive guard on a play reminiscent of his high school tape, and then he played an inverted veer just right. So here he delays the QB's decision, forces a pull, occupies the pulling G, and helps tackle:
Can't do that better. Just getting the two for one (contain and the pulling G) is a major win; doing that and making the subsequent tackle easier for the unblocked LB you caused to be unblocked is great.
While I'm not sure how much more we'll see him in important moments with Beyer back, he's shown the first flashes of quality play. Whoever wins the WDE dogfight going into 2013 is going to be pretty dang good.
Jeez. Pick someone. Entire secondary, Jake Ryan, Demens, and Roh. There you go.
Srs. GTFO, man.
What does it mean for Illinois and the future?
Illinois will put up 14 or fewer points and totally fail to move the ball consistently.
As for the future, it seems like the veteran ILBs have reasserted a hold on their jobs, and for the best reason: playing better. We'll see more of the freshmen when the defense isn't booting the opposition off the field in three plays while Michigan takes 17 to matriculate down the field; I don't think they'll be huge threats to displace the oldsters. Michigan's LBs are clean and playing a lot faster.
We got a few extra hints that the DL was pretty good, and that whatever coverages Michigan is running are being executed extremely well. Michigan's short a couple elite athletes in the secondary; other than that there's not much to criticize.
Mattison must break you. Jake Ryan is his tool.