"This is really important to be here," Lewan said. "I'm here to give back and help out my teammate."
DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE
- S Jordan Kovacs. Long time safety blanket specialized in open-field tackles, especially on fourth down, and was rarely victimized by his brain. Speed exposed by speedy South Carolina receivers, but you'll miss him early when someone screws up and you remember what it's like to have a safety biff a tackle and turn not much into lots.
- SDE Craig Roh. Journeyman switched positions every year, finally finding a home at SDE. Four sacks were second on the team to Jake Ryan; did a lot of non-boxscore stuff. Quality player; never quite panned out into the QB terror he was purported to be. Production should be replaceable.
- MLB Kenny Demens. Started every game, finished second on team with 82 tackles, 50 of them solo. Surprisingly quality in coverage; never great; guy you can win with.
- DT Will Campbell. Long-time disappointment got serious in 2012 and turned in adequate, blocker-absorbing season. Not an impact player—1.5 TFLs on the year. May go late in NFL draft thanks to sheer size.
- CB JT Floyd. Three-year starter turned career around after debacle of 2010, but was always kind of a sore spot as teams went after him and his lack of speed over and over again. Rarely cracked; had to be covered for at times. Iffy run defender. NFL FA type.
- WLB Brandin Hawthorne. Nonfactor.
Ryan, Ross, QWASH
- SLB Jake Ryan. Barbarian was Michigan's sole impact player on defense; shut down screens consistently, explosive rusher led team with 16 TFLs and four forced fumbles. Remember that thing he did? Yeah.
- MLB Desmond Morgan [probably]. With James Ross champing at the bit to enter the starting lineup, the stout Morgan is likely to move over to middle linebacker, allowing Ross to flow freely. Morgan was third on the team in tackles last year—M's linebackers were 1-2-3 like nature intended, with Gordon and Kovacs next—and displayed tackling prowess. He'll get pushed; he'll have to be forcibly unseated.
- NT Quinton Washington. Season surprise turned nose tackle from looming liability to actually kind of a strength. Not a Martin-type penetrator but ended up powerful and difficult to block. Range spans from merely okay to All Big Ten. Has future as wrestler named QWASH if football doesn't work out.
- CB Blake Countess. Freshman starter was hyped up as next great Michigan corner before being hewed down in the first game covering a punt. Will likely return to the field corner spot he locked down in the offseason.
- CB Raymon Taylor. Stepped in for Countess after Courtney Avery didn't seem up to the task and held his own for the most part. Teams mostly went after Floyd, leaving him alone. Did get burned for a touchdown in the bowl game. Tendency to get lost on zones should attenuate; has better size than any other experienced corner and will probably end up at boundary with Floyd's departure.
- WLB James Ross III. Bloodhound as a true freshman but too slight to take on blockers and big tailbacks effectively. With a season in the weight room should go from promising to excellent. 2012 : Jake Ryan :: 2013 : James Ross.
- FS Thomas Gordon. Unsung counterpart to Kovacs has not made as many flashy TFLs but is part of the Michigan defense's remarkable ability to prevent big plays over the last couple years. Probably takes over Kovacs's frequent blitzes.
- MLB Joe Bolden. Played a lot as a true freshman and will push Morgan and Ross equally. Survey says he loses the starting job but gets so much time he's essentially a third ILB starter. Needs to get a little meaner, work on pass drops, all that freshman business. Will be quality.
- Nickelback Courtney Avery. Diminutive but quality underneath cover guy; PBU and INT sealed OSU game; also a crappy edge tackler; fine option as a third corner.
- DT Jibreel Black. Spotted Roh, could not take his job; may be a candidate to move to SDE if he can put on the weight; emergence of Frank Clark threatens to cut into playing time.
- WDE Brennen Beyer. Best of the three WDEs at run D; nonfactor getting to the QB. Let's all focus our Heininger Certainty Principle at him.
- WDE Frank Clark. Co-starter at WDE made more plays behind the line (9 TFLs) and batted down a lot of passes, but had trouble beating blocks—thus all the batted passes—and still blows contain responsibility on the read option a maddening amount. Up or out for him.
- SDE Keith Heitzman. Redshirt freshman flashed a couple things in the spring game and came on as a rotation guy about halfway through the year, grading out okay. Could emerge into SDE starter or could maintain that rotation thing another year.
- NT Ondre Pipkins. Massively hyped recruit was rotation partner with Washington. Got knocked over by a running back once; did bull his way into the backfield impressively a couple times. DTs need time; Pipkins should make a leap in the offseason.
- WDE Mario Ojemudia. Hilariously undersized high school DT promised to be mini-Martin… still working on that. Needed size, technique; may burst past WDE competitors with strong offseason.
WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY
A couple guys on the DL. Last season this post focused on the three departures from the line, found only Washington and Campbell and what seemed like a woefully undersized Roh, and was pushing any button available whether it was marked "PANIC" or not. A year later, Roh was good, Washington dang good, Campbell at least serviceable, and we're all like COME AT ME ATTRITION BRO.
The problems here are insignificant compared to last year. Michigan gets Matt Godin, Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel off redshirts. They'll add an early-enrollee in Taco Charlton plus a couple of guys who just showed very well at their respective all star games in Maurice Hurst and Henry Poggi. They return Washington, Pipkins, Black, Heitzman, and three guys who saw time at WDE. They will find folks to fill in the gaps.
They do have to figure that out. First up: dollars to donuts Black moves to SDE. It's a better fit with his size, he spent that fateful final drive of the Outback Bowl running around the South Carolina left tackle, and even if it's a horde of redshirt freshmen who would hypothetically replace him, there is a horde.
At the now-vacated three-tech spot, pick from Wormley, Henry, and Godin. I bet Wormley is the winner there. There will be rotation, and improvement, and you will feel fuzzily positive about this in September.
Lineback—nevermind. Demens was missed in said bowl game, but with another offseason behind Morgan, Bolden, and Ross the ILBs should actually get better next year.
Not having an utterly reliable tiny linebacker at safety bailing your ass out for four years. Miss you, small guy xoxo.
WHAT'S THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Keith Heitzman is like a living breathing miracle of having a two deep
DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH WOOOOO! We covered the line. Each positions has a two-deep of non-true freshmen, many of them proven or hyped. At linebacker there are three quasi-starters plus a solid rotation at SLB. The secondary is a bit dodgier but Terry Richardson should be serviceable as a sophomore.
Experience. Michigan loses five starters, yeah, but that's almost literally all they lose. Mike Jones may or may not return for another season of staring from the bench, other than that the only player they lose is Brandin Hawthorne, who was exclusively special teams as a senior. They return 16 heavy contributors to the D, 17 if you count Jarrod Wilson.
Linebackers. Ryan, of course, and then you've got Ross/Bolden/Morgan returning in the middle. Many people will pine for Michigan's linebacking corps next year.
My difficulty in thinking about bullets for the following two sections. Only got two in each.
WHAT'S THE LAST SEASON OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
looks good; was Mattison getting a free rusher at Miller's backside
Getting to the quarterback. Mattison generates lots of free blitzers with his schemes; other than that the only guy to consistently generate pass rush was Ryan. WDE, the glamor spot in a 4-3 under, barely produced. Three guys had three sacks between them last year. All of those guys are back, and Charlton gets added in. The time for someone to step up is now.
Matters should be a bit better on the interior, as whoever replaces Campbell is going to be a leaner, quicker guy who can get more penetration than he did.
A lack of outright stars. You've got Ryan, and I think Ross will get there next year, and then… maybe Countess, but that's asking for a lot after an injury like he had, and… dot dot dot.
WHAT'S INEXPLICABLE JIMI HENDRIX
Will not having Jordan Kovacs doom Michigan to a Yards After Safety kind of life? I don't think so but the parade of incompetents (and Jamar Adams) before him makes me leery.
Can anyone step in right away and be a QB terror? Looking at you, Taco Charlton. He and Ojemudia seem like the best bets for a truly fearsome edge rusher—we've seen a lot of Frank Clark this year and he just hasn't done much.
MANDATORY WILD-ASS GUESS
I was worried about a backslide last year. If there was one, it was exceedingly minor. In 2011 Michigan was 17th in yardage, 6th in scoring defense, 36th in pass efficiency D, and 39th in rushing D. Last year those numbers were 13th/20th/50th/51st, and if you'd added Blake Countess for the whole year, well…
I tend to trust the poorer numbers there since Michigan moves at such a slow pace and their YPC average allowed—3.8—is pretty meh. Pre-Outback Bowl, FEI has them 20th, and that feels about right.
Michigan is probably still a year away from being capital E elite, but you could see how they get there ahead of schedule. It requires three things:
Countess comes back and is a "war daddy," to use super secret football lingo.
Someone emerges as as serious pass rush threat at WDE.
Kovacs, peace be unto him, is adequately replaced by Jarrod Wilson.
#1 is possible. #2 seems doubtful, and #3… I hesitate to predict anything about that because it will blow up all over.
Anyway. Michigan tightens up its run D, moving from around 3.8 YPC allowed to under 3.5. The pass defense looks worse superficially because the Big Ten isn't as terrible at throwing the ball next year (right?) but is actually better since neither starting corner spends the entire year getting balls thrown over his head. The D moves up to around tenth in the advanced stats, stays static in yardage and improves pass D efficiency.
Reading your 11/26 post about "The Game", I noticed you made mention of the question of whether huddling is necessary anymore. As a high school coach and former small college player who has used both the huddle and the no-huddle, my first reaction is to disagree with your point that the huddle is archaic and a bit of a dinosaur. But I am also intrigued.
My overall response would be that there are obvious advantages to both. Points and tempo are the obvious gains, but tempo is also a negative from the no huddle (as we learned circa 2009-2011) when an offense has too many three and outs and a team's defense bears the brunt of it all. In short, it's hard to praise a defense, especially an overachieving bunch like our boys, while touting an offensive style that so often seems to lead to a loss in defensive production.
In short, what data is out there to suggest that the no huddle would not obliterate our defensive gains?
There are two issues here being conflated here. Not huddling is not necessarily synonymous with going at a high speed. Ohio State runs the same no-huddle style as Oregon but does not push the pedal down nearly as much:
|Team||Offensive Plays||Defensive Plays||Total||% Plays on offense|
Oregon games had 24% more plays in them than Michigan games; Ohio State games had just 10% more, and I'm guessing the difference there is more Michigan being exceptionally slow than Ohio State being fast: decidedly MANBALL Wisconsin games featured a little over 1600 plays this year. If OSU is over the national average for plays run it's not by much.
The benefits of getting to the line immediately are the same whether you're going fast or slow: the defense is hampered in its ability to substitute and you can see how they align as you make your playcall. You can sprinkle in tempo plays when you have an advantage without cracking the whip up and down the field.
The other issue is how a high tempo affects your defense. This is the reason people invented tempo-free basketball statistics: how fast you go can distort how your offense and defense look. A high-tempo approach artificially inflates the former and deflates the latter.
Take the most extreme possible example: Oregon. The Ducks are are decent but essentially mediocre in yardage statistics. They're 47th in rushing, 60th in passing, and 46th in total D. But they faced 915 plays. Michigan's defense faced 791, and in there is a large part of the gap between the two defenses. Michigan is still better on a yards-per-play basis, but there's no question that Oregon played more good offenses.
Advanced stats that try to account for tempo look a lot more favorably on Oregon's defense than conventional ones. The Ducks are eighth in FEI*, one spot in front of Alabama. They're 21st in S&P, which I don't like as much because it's play-focused instead of drive-focused.
As this year's Michigan team proved against Nebraska and OSU, a three and out is a three and out and you're in trouble no matter what if that's what your offense is doing. In games you can win, the price you're extracting from your defense is going to be similar to the price you extract from the opposition.
And, like, I don't think it would have mattered if a Greg Robinson defense played opposite the Lombardi Packers. They were cooked.
*[A note on FEI: that ranking looked pretty strange on offense last year; this year it passes any sanity test you want to give it with Florida/ND/Stanford/MSU as the top 4. It seems to be overrating some small schools but that's inevitable.]
Are we running the Air Raid next year? Taking out Denard, Michigan had a pretty atrocious rushing offense this year. It's obviously going to look different next season without a primarily rushing QB but even still, with a starting RB coming off a serious leg injury, and replacing 3 or 4 offensive lineman, this looks bleak right?
Look on the bright side: at least Borges has shown to be more willing to adapt to a throw-first mentality than Carr-era coordinators. And the interior line literally cannot be worse! Woo!
It does look bleak. Michigan has to hope that Mike Schofield can hold up at left tackle (I think he can against non-elite pass-rushers and will probably be a Stenavich-level player) and then fill in the rest of the line with n00bs. There are some assets:
- Extremely fast QB.
- "College-ready" five star Kyle Kalis at guard.
- Guy who has played center all the way, Jack Miller, at center, presumably making much better line calls.
- Enormous guy Chris Bryant
- Enormous guy Ben Braden
It… yeah, it looks grim-ish. While any of the above could work out Michigan is still working through the disastrous RR OL recruiting and will have a similar problem to the one they had this year: few, if any options to turn to if the starters are not performing. Things are little better at tackle, where Erik Magnuson is available to back up instead of nobody, but on the interior you've got a redshirt freshman on the 3/4 star borderline (Bars) and Joey Burzynski, who is still 6'1".
But there's a bunch of hype for the freshman class and Bryant was reported looking good before the leg injury. Michigan may have to go with more Gardner running than they might want. I certainly hope they don't ditch the veer, for one.
First of all, I'm very surprised by Hoke's prediction that Devin's redshirt will go through, given his history of never saying anything specific, ever.
With that in mind, do you think Devin is a good fit for Borges' style of West Coast offense? Or will we still be "making due" with some Frankenoffense for the next two years, give or take, until Shane is ready?
Like most fans, I've been pleasantly surprised by Devin over the past month, but I don't know enough about Borges' dream offense to know how well his QB skills translate.
I was surprised, too, and assume he was told by the people who had talked to the Big Ten that they would get it. Which hurray, one less argument about how dumb Rich Rodriguez is and extra year for starting QB.
Gardner is clearly a better fit for what Borges wants to do than Denard was. He's tall, he can stand in the pocket, and he has an excellent deep ball when he's not being asked to throw it on the run for some strange reason. He also tends to run when he should run, thus rescuing various plays that aren't going so well.
I am actually hoping for something of a Frankenoffense, though. Running big epic "play action" from an I-form that is really just a max-protect setup doesn't use Gardner's legs particularly effectively, and we've seen that when you get a guy who can run and throw trying to stop both is super hard. Hell, run-and-kinda-throw is pretty hard. I'd like Michigan to still run most of its offense from the shotgun and use Gardner's legs to mitigate some of the problems that will arise on the offensive line. With Morris backing Gardner up you won't have to be as overcautious as it seemed Michigan was this year.
Maybe the OL will surprise and DeVeon Smith or Derrick Green will show up as a grinder and it will work. If a traditional manball running game isn't in the cards, though, the Frankenoffense may be the best one available.
Do you think Hopkins gets a long look in the spring back at tailback with Fitz's status up in the air?
Seems like they have some depth now at fullback with Kerridge and Houma. I know he has ball security issues so maybe he has to walk around campus all spring, summer and fall carrying a football. Could he have the potential to be a Leroy Hoard-type in 1988, '89 as a featured, ball-carrying back?
While that's a possibility I doubt it will amount to much if they do try it. Hopkins may be marginally better than Rawls if he doesn't fumble, he has. Rawls hasn't done much but he also has not fumbled.
A Hoard-back requires Hoard-blocking, and more speed than Hopkins brings to the table. If Derrick Green ends up committing he's the early favorite to get a plurality of carries.
Any chance that Michigan starts Pipkins and Washington in a similar way that they used Washington and Campbell this year?
Probably not. Nose tackle is a draining position staffed by enormous men and requires that two people play it. Michigan probably wanted to use Pipkins more than they did a year ago; they couldn't because he wasn't very good. Michigan will probably stick with him as the backup nose in preparation for a two year starting run. Big guys take some time.
11/10/2012 – Michigan 38, Northwestern 31 (OT) – 7-3, 5-1 Big Ten
College sports are a rich-get-richer kind of operation. American pro sports reward their best teams with crappy draft picks and salary caps that make it hard to keep successful operations together. Yes, successful operations can keep their heads above water for periods, and the Lions can be awful for 50 years. A relentless gravity still pulls everyone towards .500.
In college, success adds to success. You can tell recruits they'll go to the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl instead of, like, Nashville or wherever. Your pile of money is larger than someone else's pile of money and you can put up buildings where every brick is an XBox. You can point to some guy making millions in the NFL and promise recruit X will as well. You can tell recruits that you're not going to be fired and replaced by some guy from the Sun Belt, unlike every other school recruiting Derrick Green. The more you win, the higher your draft picks are.
Gravity has no place in college sports, just entropy. Entropy: the tendency of things to move from ordered states to disordered ones. Entropy: the gradual decline and fall of the Carr era. Entropy: Greg Robinson. Entropy: Northwestern football. With 18 seconds left there's a fifty-yard pass on the way, and things are about to get disordered.
I mean, what can you say when your glorious victory is so clearly a gift from the cosmic random number generator? I have seen many things in my time as a sports fan. None of them have been an opposing safety taking a pass that is about to sail into the turf 10, 20 yards further downfield and flailing at it in such a way as to send it into the arms of the Michigan receiver he'd battered to the ground, gently. Feather-like. After all of that… easy.
Meanwhile, that event had been immediately preceded by a Northwestern fourth-and-one conversion on which the ref had to make sure every chain was ramrod straight and get his nose down to the field level before awarding the Wildcats a first down they probably didn't get but could not be overturned from above. Fitzgerald Toussaint's only decent run of the day ended with a bizarre pop-up fumble. Trevor Siemian came in and tore Michigan's secondary to shreds.
I like it better when the randomness is under a nice ol' narrative. When it's in your face so spectacularly, it's like the gods of math are taunting you for daring to care about anything they have their fickle fingers in. Go home, get a pen, and root for Fibonacci psuedo-randomness, they are saying. What you are doing is the equivalent of rooting for 3, they say. The number. The literal number. Woo 3. Go 3. You are so much more prime than 4. That's so 3! Oh god those people who like 4 are just animals. They poop in coolers, you know, and drive trucks. They're so… divisible.
Stripped of the narrative bit the mind goes back to a game of partial information, high stress, and plain evidence that worshipping the gods of math gets you nowhere. Big stacks matter in tournament poker, too. With many chips you can lean on people, play with the numbers on your side, and force people to decisions for all their chips. You get to be the gorilla. You get the good recruits.
Back in the day when laws were unclear and jerks hadn't yet banned online poker by attaching a rider to a bill about port security, I played a lot. I was pretty good. I played online satellites until I'd gotten a buy-in to the World Series of Poker, and went. I made the second day in rough shape, and started repairing my busted stack by chopping off preflop raisers. While I'd risk more, I'd be in fewer hands, give off a tight image and get 5-6 blinds instead of 1.5. I would have no illusions about whether I should GTFO if someone played back at me. It was working, and I caught a couple hands. I was on my way to day three.
I'd done this to the guy to my right two or three times already, and his frustration was evident the last go-round. He raised preflop again, and I looked at kings. Long story short, we ended up all-in, he turned over aces instead of anything else, and I did not suck out. Short-stacked after, it was a matter of time.
Brady Hoke hasn't had kings, but he has sucked out, and sucked out, and sucked out.
With 11-2 and a BCS win in the rear view, Michigan picked up the kind of momentum that saw them lock down a top-five class by March. Getting there took a series of desperate heaves to Junior Hemingway. This year the heaves have been a little less desperate but twice Michigan has had 18 seconds and needed big chunks of yards to set up do-or-die field goals and got them. They're not getting every break—see refs in all Nebraska games—but with a combination of skill and fortune Hoke is building quite a stack for himself.
The latest chip is a 2013 starting quarterback out of nowhere, a guy who had looked basically awful in any extended playing time before Denard's elbow injury forced Devin Gardner into the Minnesota game. And even if Saturday was too transparently chaotic to go down as an all-timer, it's another step through this rough patch as Michigan waits for the large, mean cavalry to arrive.
In the meantime let's all just stay here on the floor breathing heavily and slathering narrative over the terrifying randomness of the universe.
Football looks hurty sometimes, and by sometimes I mean all the time.
Also, here's Gardner chucking that TD to Funchess:
Brad at Maize and Blue Nation had a day with his shots. He's the guy who grabbed the shots that lead the post and then this is pretty great too:
Also, nightmare fuel!
Full gallery here.
The News got a great shot of Gardner:
That's Bryant in the extremely large track jacket BTW.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Roy Roundtree, come on down. Not only did you spawn a strange and likely short-lived meme when the Larrys, about whom more later, made a bizarre joke about how he would be better at catching the ball if his name was "Squaretree"—because square things are good at catching I guess—but you also put up 139 yards receiving, including the game-saving deep miracle. Also on 'Tree's docket: a beautiful corner route catch, getting run over on third and seventeen, and a critical hitch-and-run in OT.
Honorable Mention. Devin Gardner (at this rate will be Vince Young by next year, too bad about plateaus and such), Jeremy Gallon (hitch/bomb/punt return/let's ignore those other punt return opportunities), Kenny Demens (a close, close #2 with back to back OT TFLs).
Epic Double Point Standings.
3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois) deytikerjerbs
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1.3: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama, 1/3 Minnesota), Drew Dileo (Michigan State, 1/3 Minnesota), Roy Roundtree (1/3 Minnesota, Northwestern)
1: Craig Roh(Nebraska).
Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW
This must be awarded to the play that spawned it, which is Demens decleating Northwestern to end the game. In the future awarded to the BOOM YES play of the week.
Honorable mention: Kenny Demens stones Northwestern on third and one too, Treezy to the rescue, Devin Gardner kind of balletically flings a ball way high except it's to Devin Funchess so it's on the money, Jibreel Black forces a Colter fumble, Jordan Kovacs implodes Colter's back.
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
11/10/2012: Mattison baits Fitz, Kenny Demens decleats Northwestern, game over.
Our hipster quarterback. WHICH ONE OF THESE DUDES IS DEVIN GARDNER
you've probably never heard of me
Probably the one on the left. PROBABLY
Open contempt. Northwestern fans were pretty hype on Nick Van Hoose as the cornerback who might rescue their secondary from its overwhelming Northwesternness; Van Hoose did not play. The Northwestern secondary was overwhelming in its Northwesternness.
This manifested on second down after second down when Michigan generally followed up a one yard run by going with a 2TE I-Form set and throwing a hitch in front of a helpless cornerback, or a corner at a helpless cornerback, or a hitch and go well past a helpless cornerback. I get pretty irritated when Michigan, which cannot run from under center even a tiny little bit, goes OOPS POW SURPRISE PLAY ACTION on obvious passing downs, but in this game it worked because every hitch route came with either a first down or some YAC baked in.
I have no idea why Northwestern didn't just bracket Michigan's single WR hard and dare Michigan to make them pay by getting to the second level—something it seemed they were four or five blocks from on every play. But they didn't. So, yeah.
RUUUUUUUUUUUU—oh you are nevermind. IIRC, Michigan did not have any called runs for Gardner except the goal line rollout (and that did have a pass option). He got sacked once. That means his seven other rushing attempts were all scrambles. That's more than Denard has acquired in eight games. They were also effective—an average pickup of almost seven yards without any of those coming on fruitless third and longs.
Yeah, that is Vince Young-like. The combination of effective deep balls and a willingness to take off is potentially deadly. Covering four verts and containing Gardner seems hard, and add in dumpoffs to space players like Norfleet and Hayes, and that's a nice recipe. Hopefully Michigan explores that once they don't have to minimize QB impact at all costs.
[UPDATE: After checking out the Gardner errysnap video, Michigan did have another called QB run in a goal-to-go situation that went for five or six yards, so six scrambles.]
not always pretty, but so far so good / Upchurch
Air check. We should erase the desperation bomb to Roundtree, which was a throw Gardner had to attempt, missed, and got a miracle deflection to complete it. That excised, Gardner was 15 of 28 for 8.3 YPA, two touchdowns, and a turrible interception. Add in the scrambles and that's good in a vacuum. Your context: Gardner was playing a poor defense minus its best cornerback and on an offense that can't run the ball even a little.
Those probably balance out, leaving Michigan with a good performance from a guy who'd been playing WR two weeks ago and has eligibility next year. That is huge.
Unlike last week, I can't remember anything particularly outlandish that happened to alter Gardner's stats since we've already set aside the desperation heave at the end of the game. Gardner actually lost a long completion to Jerald Robinson, and there was nothing on the order of Roundtree, Dileo, and Gallon going all circus for their QB in the Minnesota game. When Gardner missed, it wasn't by much. Minnesota was some good throws interspersed with a lot of shaky ones on which the receivers were great; Northwestern required a lot less heroism from the WRs.
You'd expect rapid improvement from a guy getting almost his first extended playing time and transitioning back to reps at QB from reps at WR; Gardner leapt even that high bar.
Y'all be jumpin'. Michigan has now pulled opponents offsides five times in two weeks with Gardner under center, with Northwestern threatening to go three or four more times.
That's a credit to Gardner's hard count and evidence of how much more comfortable Borges is with an offense that operates from under center. To run those freeze plays you have to be under center quickly enough to try it and then try something else if it doesn't work, something that has not often been the case for most of the year when Michigan was struggling just to get plays in. Against Northwestern, how often did you think "GET OUT OF THE HUDDLE" to yourself? For me, it was zero times. That's down a half-dozen from most games this year.
SIDE NOTE: I've seen a lot of credit going to Gardner for having the awareness to fling those fades when guys go offsides. That's a misunderstanding of what's going on. The way it works is this:
- Gardner huts his hut real hard, and then waits.
- Guy jumps or does not jump.
- If guy jumps, Mealer snaps it, free play.
- If guy does not jump, Michigan checks into something else.
So if Gardner gets the ball he knows someone is offsides and he has a free play and just throws the fade. He only gets the ball if he has a free play. The credit should go to Borges and Mealer.
SIDE SIDE NOTE: Yeah, Michigan did try to do similar things under RR from the gun. Bizarrely, what seemed to happen is that Michigan would get a guy to jump but he would get back before Michigan could snap the ball, leaving Michigan to burn a down on a low-percentage play.
Hello, Fitz. Not that Fitz. Hey, three broken tackles en route to a touchdown on a nothing dumpoff: that is a play. I enjoy Fitzgerald Toussaint making plays. he also picked up a bunch of bonus yards on his 50-yard inverted veer give, and then fumbled. That's his first fumble, right? I guess he gets a pass for it. Even Mike Hart finally broke.
A tip, I say, a palpable tip. Did anyone else notice Michigan removing AJ Williams for Devin Funchess on the third and goal in OT, and think to themselves "rollout to Funchess's side"? Lo, it transpired, and Northwestern covered Funchess but had no one else on the edge once a playside LB tried to shoot inside Omameh and got walled off.
I require more Dileo. Michigan finally had enough of seeing punts hit the ground and put Dennis Norfleet back there in place of Gallon; Norfleet let the next punt hit the ground. Dileo fair-caught the next one. Meanwhile, balls are being tossed at the thus-far ineffective Jeremy Jackson and Jerald Robinson as Dileo watches from the sideline. I humbly request more targets for Dileo, who gets separation and catches passes, instead of larger receivers who do neither of these things
Maize and Blue Nation
Kenny Damn Demens. Remember when he was getting lined up two inches behind a nose tackle on a three man line and obliterated by guards releasing clean? Yeah. Demens isn't going to be a guy who makes every #25 in the future wear his name on the chest, but any time he walks into a bar for the rest of his life sporting that mustache of his someone is going to be like "CONSECUTIVE TFLS TO WIN 2012 NORTHWESTERN" and buy him a beer, and I love it when that happens. See also: Jerome Jackson, 2005 Iowa.
Demens did get beat by Northwestern's #1 WR on their last touchdown, but that's an RPS thing and a function of Michigan's LB slide plus Northwestern consistently gashing Michigan on the corners. Projected % of Michigan fans instantly reminded of Chris Graham against Anthony Gonzalez: 37%.
So sexy. Michigan came out with a a weird three man line featuring Jibreel Black as the NT that all but begged Northwestern to run up the middle on their fourth down, with the results noted above: Ryan gets cut off by the backside G, Black shoots playside of the tackle and forces a cutback on the handoff NW was baited into, BOOM.
That was exactly the plan:
“The last tackle there — number one, I like the call that (defensive coordinator Greg Mattison) made because it was one where it may have talked (Northwestern) into running the football because of some of the space inside,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. “And then Kenny just did a nice job of just working inside out to the ball, where maybe a little bit earlier he was maybe getting too far ahead of it.”
Michigan's defense finally got gashed, but man did they dial it up at the end.
Will it happen again? Ohio State is going to be checking out the Northwestern film quite a lot, but I'm not sure they have a Mark-like back to hit that edge. They've got a couple thumpers who will challenge tackling skills more than speed.
Linebacker switching. I didn't notice this live but a lot of people have said Desmond Morgan had a rough game, which seems logical since after a couple weeks of limited linebacker swapping we saw a lot of James Ross, including on the final two Northwestern drives. Ross was the guy who came an inch away from stuffing the Northwestern fourth and one. I'll get to the bottom of what went down in the UFR.
Pipkins comes on. Also receiving a lot more PT: Ondre Pipkins, who had a rough few plays against Minnesota before getting the hook. Again not sure why but probably based on Northwestern being one of those hurry-up outfits that puts a heavy demand on opposing defense's depth. Insert usual desire to be a team that puts that kind of pressure on the opponent.
Getting edged. Michigan's really got to do something about their option scheme, probably. I'll have to check it out to see if it was much different than what happened against Air Force.
Oblig. Kovacs number switch bitching.
Me = Dude (obvs)
Car = Kovacs
Flame = #11
Nihilists = Brandon (obvs)
He's still JKovacs32 on twitter, at least.
“I’ve worn No. 32 for quite some time, I think I’ll always be No. 32,” Kovacs said
Yes. Dammit that needs to be the walk-on-who-plays number. Does no one understand how to make things? /wireseason2
Oblig. game theory bit. Big points to Pat Fitzgerald for going for it on fourth and short with around three minutes left. That is a spot in which it's easy to go NFL and derp your way to shrugging postgame coverage, but the obvious play is going. One yard and you've got the other team trying to complete a 50-yard miracle to tie. Punt and even Michigan's languorous two-minute drill still has time to ease down the field.
Northwestern got it by a few molecules thanks to what seemed like a favorable spot, albeit not one that is ever going to get overturned by the Big Ten's milquetoasty replay officials. (After the Penn State TD debacle they are now the Rod Gilmore Memorial Big Ten Replay Officials.)
Fitzgerald gives back about half of those points on the punt. You hate variance if you are Northwestern punting the ball back with 25 seconds left. NW…
- took a delay of game penalty instead of using a timeout
- ran out their rugby guy to bash a line drive into Gallon's chest
- got a net of 11 yards as a result
Rugby punts are generally effective but tend to be more unpredictable than regular stuff: shanks are easier, and if the returners are positioned correctly they get an opportunity like Gallon got. The play there was to take a timeout and hang one in the air to force a fair catch. The upside of that is about equal to the rugby punt and the downside is nil.
Michigan didn't really face any major decisions. They could have taken a shot at the endzone after the Roundtree completion but chose to kick. The difference between that decision and the end of last year's ND game was one second on the clock and a timeout, which they had against ND but not here. The Roundtree completion took six seconds, and it's easy to see that last one slip off the clock for any number of reasons.
FWIW, Michigan played their TOs right by taking all of them immediately once they were facing do-or-die time on defense.
Git R Done, for values of R that equal racism. If you don't follow me on twitter you missed the saga of the Larry The Cable Guy clan in my immediate vicinity, a group of redneck yahoos that said a lot of things like "LEZ GO CUMONG" and "GIT EM CUMONG," which was annoying when they did that really loudly after a four yard run—now my hopes are all up and it's second and six—but mostly harmless.
That ceased on a Norfleet kickoff return on which one of them screamed "run like you stole it" and I was processing the I am somewhat uncomfortable with the racial overtones that statement displays thing when one of them almost certainly dropped the n-word. I looked at the MGoWife, and she looked at me to confirm, and then I just really hoped that it wouldn't come up again because if that happens a second time, well… words will be exchanged and I'm trying to panic myself to death at a football game thanks, please let's not get in a screaming match.
It did not come up again. Hurrah. There's no real lesson here except it's not very fun to be surrounded by Larry the Cable Guy.
BONUS BONUS BONUS: a Larry next to me left after the Gardner INT, which lol. I moved over because there was a tall guy in front of me… directly into the path of a woman with four pom-poms whose thought process in relation to those was:
I bet if I shake these really hard they're invisible.
If only, lady. If only.
* NW ended up with 431 total offense yards. That's the same amount that Alabama,
the greatest team ever assembled, a pretty good offense, had against us. I never would have guessed that Alabama and NW would be equivalent at anything. After the Alabama game, I wrote, "If we can hold everyone else under 431, I’ll be happy." NW didn't get more than 431, so I'm not unhappy, I'm just confused.
* Thomas Gordon led us in tackles with 11, not a good sign. Demens and Morgan were next with 9 apiece. Considering Mattison substituted freely with the LBs, that's a lot of tackles.
I bumped Best And Worst but in case you didn't click through:
…this week’s game definitely felt like the first one to showcase Al Borges’s “preferred offense.” It was a number of shorter passes, a dedication to running the ball with the RB, and play-calling that couldn’t fall back on a Dilithium-fueled QB if the first and second reads were not open. Minnesota showed this a bit in the first quarter, but that game felt over at halftime and so I’m not sure what you could glean from it except that the offensive line still couldn’t get a push inside.
Does it need to be said much more than that? Inches decide ball games, particularly close ball games. Against Nebraska inches separated Northwestern from a clinching interception and a devastating blown lead and loss. Against Michigan, those inches mattered even more.
You can slake your schadenfreude needs if you're weird and hold some sort of grudge against Northwestern at the SoP postgame thread.
Blog stuff. The Ann Arbor Chronicle has a photoessay documenting everyone recording the football game. Meta.
not actually photos of the Roundtree catch
KENNY DEMENS – He didn’t play a perfect game but he did make the tackle of his life – TWICE! It’s a play and situation you dream of as a kid growing up playing Pop Warner Football. Demens not only made the big stop to win the game on 4th Down, but he also made the stop the play before on 3rd Down! OUTSTANDING!
Michigan struggled on defense in this game for a number of different reasons. Jake Ryan and Frank Clark both lost contain frequently which gave Northwestern big gains on the ground. In addition, and I think Mattison figured this out before the fourth quarter, but Michigan was defending the speed option in an unsound manner. The playside linebacker was always playing the quarterback, forcing a pitch to the running back who had nothing but blockers in front of him. I think Mattison assumed his corners and safeties could get off of their blocks on the outside the help contain the rushing attack, but Michigan's corners aren't very good at doing this. By the fourth quarter, Michigan started forcing the runs back inside.
I cannot agree with Maize and Blue Nation about this:
The running game. It showed signs of life this week. I think the more pro-style offense that Gardner runs suits Michigan better on offense. We're still trained to run the spread-option, but I don't think it's working for Fitz. He's a downhill runner. I really like that Rawls can come in and compliment Fitz...although, it might be the other way around, actually. I thought the line blocked better this week. Hoke stayed with the same lineup he's had all year across the line, so it was encouraging to see the interior especially, play better.
Michigan got a 50-yard gain on an inverted veer give—blocking not relevant unless you're a WR—and 41 yards on six Gardner scrambles. They also lost six yards on a Hayes jet sweep that's now scouted by opponents. Their other 23 carries went for 49 yards. Death. If Michigan finds itself trailing against OSU there's going to be a point at which it'll be time to run the quarterback from the shotgun even if it's Gardner and the backup option is Jack Kennedy. Michigan just can't move the ball on the ground without the numerical advantage provided by using the QB.
U-M Student Section Sucks
And I thought the key play nonsense was bad.
The empty seats are past the point of ridiculous now. Michigan has been reduced to having its football players make videos begging fans (read: students) to show up on time for the games. WTF?! This isn't Ball State. Bo's probably rolling over in his grave.
I'm not sure what more can be done since the athletic department already instituted the points system. But seeing all those empty seats up there after the game starts is a slap in the face to Hoke and the Michigan players.
That should be "30% of the student section sucks." 70% of them are there. The solution is to give out t-shirts.
FWIW, the key play thing has not been done in probably ten years.
It wasn't a perfect day. The Toussaint fumble was maddening, but a great play by the Wildcat defense. Special K remembered where "In The Big House" was on his hard drive. There weren't enough holes in the offensive line to run through, things of this ilk.
But it was sunny, warmish for a November day. Al Wistert got a tremendous ovation from the Michigan Stadium crowd, the MMB put on a funny show, Devin Gardner continued to look good, Roy Roundtree remembered that he's a heck of a receiver, Gibbons is still money, and in the end, Michigan was victorious, Really, that's more than we should be able to ask for from the football gods. After all, you need to stay humble.
Warmish? High standards over at the Hoover Street Rag.
For Michigan, it's never over until the last pass is thrown, and tipped, and cradled, and caught. For Devin Gardner, same thing — it's not over even when others think it is.
Nothing is over for the Wolverines, and it's just getting started for Gardner. How many times can a game, or a season, or a young career twist? Gardner was a receiver a couple of weeks ago, hoping to be a quarterback again. Now he's directing a team contending for the Big Ten title.
The Daily on Brady Hoke's magic:
The last time Brady Hoke and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald were at Michigan Stadium together was Oct. 7, 1995.
Hoke was a first-year defensive line coach on the home sideline. Fitzgerald was Northwestern’s burly junior middle linebacker, wearing a white No. 51 jersey and terrorizing Michigan quarterback Brian Griese.
With the Wildcats leading 19-13 and just 1:40 remaining on the clock, Griese and the Michigan offense were 41 yards from the end zone facing a third-and-15. Fitzgerald had ended the previous drive by tipping a pass out of harm’s way.
Nesbitt FTW; great great angle there. Hadn't even thought about it. Also Estes on not saying sorry.
Gardner saying the right things:
Gardner on Denard Robinson : "This is Denard's team, and this is always going to be Denard's team. He's done way too much for two games to change that."
Formation notes: Michigan actually spent most of this game in an over front, i.e. shifted their line towards the strength of the line and held Ryan over the slot. Like so:
Michigan would normally put Ryan over that TE to the top of the screen and shift the line the other way. Not sure why they went with the over this time.
Michigan did this once, too: an under shifted line with Demens on the LOS, Morgan in a more conventional ILB spot, and the SAM (in this case Cam Gordon) over the slot.
This was "4-3 under slide." Lingo as per usual is supposed to be consistent and descriptive.
And I clipped this for some reason so here's a reminder of what I mean by "okie":
Seven guys on the LOS, with one deep safety off the screen and three DB type guys. This is of course zoneblitzapalooza.
Also here is Dooley creepin' on the jug:
hey baby wanna get painted?
Substitution notes: Secondary as usual. Wilson got a snap or two in a dime package. After a couple weeks of minimal substitution at linebacker, Bolden, Ross, and Cam Gordon got drives. Gordon left early with an injury of some sort and didn't return.
On the line, Clark and Beyer alternated at WDE with Beyer seeming to get slightly more snaps. Black and Campbell were at three-tech and split about evenly; Pipkins got a few snaps behind Washington; Roh actually got a breather or four as Keith Heitzman emerged to get more playing time than he had yet seen. Roh didn't get a lot of points, and that was a reason why. Seemed like Michigan was comfortable with where they were most of the second half and how Heitzman was playing so they let it ride.
[AFTER THE JUMP: the usual destruction of the enemies.]
Formation Notes: Michigan actually spent a lot of this game in the plain old 4-3 even, which seems to be a spread adjustment for M.
That's Ryan to the top of the screen at LB
This is against a 2TE set, which usually saw Michigan go to their default under; against three- or four-wide going even (with Ryan at DE) was the play.
In the past I've used "Diamond" to indicate a formation with four skill players to one side of the field in a diamond formation—invariably used for a screen or surprise backside TE thing—but I had to pull it our for the Holgorsen pistol thing that is a backfield diamond like so:
Note that Michigan's in the under there.
Substitution notes: Secondary same as it always is: Taylor/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon with nickel Avery. Marvin Robinson came in once things got out of hand to replace Kovacs, thus giving us a hint of what next year's safety configuration is likely to look like.
The vets have fended off the challenge from the two freshmen at linebacker, it appears. Ross got a few snaps before garbage time; Bolden got none. Ryan was omnipresent until things got out of hand; Cam Gordon came in and did pretty well for himself.
Rotation on the line was more frequent. The starters were the same (Roh, Washington, Campbell, Clark) but both Beyer and Ojemudia took their turns at WDE; Pipkins and Black featured frequently at DT. Roh was replaced far less frequently. He gave way to Heitzman for only a few snaps before garbage time.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O15||1||10||Pistol twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Demens||7|
|WR comes for an end around fake. This draws Ryan(-1) well upfield and opens up a big crease. Roh(+0.5) comes under a down block to chase from the inside out; Demens(-1) runs into a block from the TE and gets stood up; he can't get outside, which allows a bounce. Gordon had come down late to be an extra guy in the box and tackles with a scraping Morgan.|
|O22||2||3||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 under||Pass||5||Out||Taylor||Inc|
|Pass is to Tacopants. Ryan(-0.5) had opened it up a little by coming up on play action but the end result here was going to be five yards with Taylor(+0.5) coming up to tackle on the catch. Cover push.|
|O22||3||3||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 even||Pass||5||Comeback||Washington||4|
|Illinois flips their two TEs, drawing little response from M except Roh and Washington widening out a bit. Illinois has some tepid inverted veer PA; Demens (+0.5) and Ryan(+0.5) are charging up the middle. Both get picked up but only momentarily and threaten to come through. Washington(+1) beats a block clean and takes out a second guy when the RB has to cut him. Scheelhaase has to throw it off his back foot. The throw is upfield and ends up being three yards; Floyd(+0.5) is there to tackle on the catch. Refs correctly spot the WR short of the first down since his own momentum took the ball short of the 25; replay guy is an idiot and overturns it. Woo replay guy. Pressure +1, Cover +1.|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||A gap power||Washington||4|
|Washington(-0.5) gives a little ground and gets sort of kind of sealed by what's really a one on one block as the G nominally doubling him moves to the second level quickly. This provides a small crease. Roh(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) make it smaller by bulling a TE and pulling G backwards, respectively, and everyone sheds to tackle the back as he hits it up in the only available lane.|
|O30||2||6||Pistol twin TE||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Morgan||9|
|Same play as their first. Either Morgan or Clark busts here as both of them fly hard upfield outside, containing the end-around, but also leaving a huge gap behind them. Think it's Morgan(-2) since the action suggests he is supposed to stunt behind Clark's attack, which ends up drawing two blockers and the end-around fake. Kovacs(-0.5) is rolled down into the box and reacts a little late; Ryan(-0.5) is folding back from a DE spot and has no threats anywhere near him and doesn't scrape down the line in time to make a tackle short of the sticks and set up a third and short; RB runs between arm tackles from both. Demens ate a free release but hard to blame him.|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inverted veer keeper||Ryan||5|
|Again TE flip; M is in an over to start and ends up in an under after the switch. Ryan flies upfield at the handoff, pull. I'm not sure if this is right since it seems M is slanting to the weakside and Ryan(-1) should attack the QB to force a handoff into a containing Gordon. Once that doesn't happen Scheelhaase has a lot of space and three blockers on the two LBs. Roh(-0.5) gave up a lot of ground, too. Demens(+1) sets up in a great spot to force a cutback and then surges through two blockers to cut off a lane inside of him. Morgan(+0.5) fends off a block to tackle downfield.|
|O44||2||5||Pistol twin TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Black||4|
|Pipkins(+0.5) bursts into a double, delaying a release from the G. Black(-1) gets blown down the line and sealed away; good cut from the back to take that hole. Ryan(+0.5) is keeping it down as much as he can; Demens(+0.5) uses the time Pipkins afforded him to pop up in the frontside hole and then scrape to the backside once he sees the cut; those guys tackle from the side.|
|O48||3||1||Pistol twin TE twins||4-4 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Roh||0|
|I said this was +1 in the game column but Roh(+2) gets two here because he is the whole play. He destroys the TE, comes under him hard, and seeks out the pulling guard to blast him. This slows the tailback and allows Demens a free run. Washington(+1) had popped two DL, who get confused and also allow Morgan a free run. The TE Roh destroyed is collapsing to the ground down; Ryan(+0.5) reaches out to grab a foot and Demens(+0.5) grabs the guy's upper body to prevent him from falling over the first down marker. Morgan(+0.5) had also arrived to help if necessary.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 10 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Trap||Washington||9|
|This looks like a draw, actually a trap where the G pulls around the center. Washington(-1) and Campbell(-1) split as the both try to get a pass rush in a situation where that's not wise. Morgan is now one on one in a ton of space with a blocker as Demens was dropping into man coverage against a tight end. Morgan(+0.5) does avoid a block and get the tackle in as Kovacs fills, which prevents this from being super dangerous. RPS -1.|
|O34||2||1||Pistol 3-wide||4-3 even||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|Michigan was late lining up and accidentally got Ojemudia(+1, tackling +1) in for a TFL, but it gets called back.|
|O29||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||5||Bubble screen||Kovacs||0|
|Or close to it anyway. WR just kind of stands there instead of moving towards the LOS as another guy comes down to block Kovacs, who motioned down late after Ryan blitzed off the slot. Taylor is unblocked; Kovacs(+1) blew past the block anyway. Morgan(+0.5) aborted the blitz quickly enough to be useful as well; Taylor(+0.5) comes up to fill with help from those two and there's nowhere to go.|
|O29||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||Okie two||Penalty||N/A||Offsides||Morgan||5|
|Morgan goes early. -1.|
|O34||3||1||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inverted veer sax||Ryan||-5|
|M flips their line when Illinois flips. This looks like it's going to be a veer; bad snap. Campbell(+0.5) and Ryan(+0.5) do put an end to any ensuing wackiness before it can start.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||QB sweep||Ryan||6|
|Michigan's run a lot of this this year. Playside TEs block down; C and playside G pull. Roh(-0.5) lets the play outside of him; not too bad but doesn't quite make a play. Ryan(+1) tosses away a RB trying to block him and comes inside, making contact a few yards downfield. Demens(-1) got cut pretty badly and thus can't help; Scheelhaase falls forward for a decent gain.|
|O31||2||4||Pistol Diamond||4-3 under||Pass||4||Hitch||Taylor||Inc|
|Airmailed. Beyer(+0.5, cover +1) had dropped off into a short zone and may have had a play on the ball if more accurate. Taylor in decent position for quick tackle on five yard hitch.|
|O31||3||4||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Penalty||N/A||Offsides||Morgan||5|
|Morgan(-1) does come across the line to induce a false start.|
|O36||1||10||Pistol Diamond||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Pipkins||2|
|I guess, anyway. Not sure what Illinois is trying to do. Roh(+0.5) left unblocked, charges at the handoff point, gets picked off by one of the tailbacks flaring backside. Contains. RB now has to cut inside into a backside B or C gap, depending on what you believe constitutes which when a tackle releases downfield immediately. Pipkins(+1) has absorbed two OL entirely; Demens(+0.5) has an easy job to scrape behind him and tackle. Campbell(+1) had blown back a G one on one and there was nowhere else to go.|
|O38||2||8||Pistol twin TE twins||4-3 over||Pass||5||Bubble screen||Gordon||Inc|
|Ryan slides down from the slot, WR again stationary, Gordon(+1) shoots in to blow him up on the catch. Dropped. RPS +2, but a lolzook +2.|
|O38||3||8||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||3||Improv||Avery||Inc|
|Ojemudia(+0.5) kind of gets the corner and Roh(+0.5) kind of spins through to get pressure on a three man rush; Scheelhaase has to bail but can. Ryan is spying and shoots up into him. (Pressure +1). Scheelhaase throws a back foot pass that turns into a great back shoulder fade on Avery(-1, cover -1) that's dropped. Oh, Illinois.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 14 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||QB sweep||Roh||-3|
|Same play as the first play of the last Illinois drive. This time Roh(+2) gets under the TE, drives him back, fights playside, and shows up in the gap Scheelhaase wants to hit just as he tries to hit it. Ryan(+2) got upfield of a pulling blocker after taking a false step and bursts upfield like he always does to finish the TFL.|
|O31||2||13||Shotgun trips bunch||4-3 even slide||Run||N/A||QB draw||Morgan||8|
|Pretty well played by M as there is not a huge gap but with the LBs pulled and Demens booking for the edge instead of checking QB there's only Morgan against two guys releasing downfield. When the crease does just barely open up it's yards. Morgan(+1) does set up, boom into an RB, and almost tackle Scheelhaase near the LOS. He slows him and keeps leverage, allowing Campbell(+0.5) to peel back and tackle. He got good push in a lane so not too mad about letting the QB through. Demens(-1) was really tardy recognizing and the slide seems like something Illinois felt they could exploit. RPS -1.|
|O39||3||5||Shotgun twin TE twins||Nickel over||Pass||6||Scramble||Ojemudia||23|
|TE flip, Ojemudia and Ryan flip at DE. M sends a blitz, getting Demens(+0.5) through with Ryan(+1) beating a block to join the party; Scheelhaase dodges to the other side of the field; Ojemudia(-2) has gotten out of his lane badly despite clearly setting up to contain an escape like this and gives up the corner. Kovacs(-1) does not trust that Floyd will keep contain and ends up running into him; Black tackles on the cutback behind. Scheelhaase hits his head, is concussed, and out for the day. Wow... this did not look that bad from the stands.|
|M38||1||10||Pistol twin TE twins||4-3 under||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|M43||1||15||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power||Black||3|
|Washington(+1) holds up to a double; when the G pulls he has very little crease to attack. Heitzman(+1) closes down the POA as well, getting a yard or so penetration; Black(+1) shucks the backside G and makes contact when the RB hits the LOS. RB does a good job to spin for yardage but there wasn't anything here more than YAC.|
|M40||2||12||Pistol twin TE twins||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power||Demens||3|
|Campbell(+0.5) gives some ground but does not get sealed at all and Demens(+0.5) can scrape over the top of him without worrying about the wrong OL popping out on him. The one who does has the wrong angle. Washington(+0.5) avoids a cut and flows down the line a gap behind the play, so no cutbacks. Morgan(+0.5) moves and pops the lead guard, funneling to Demens, who tackles.|
|M37||3||9||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 even||Pass||N/A||Scramble||Taylor||5|
|Couple of short routes are covered(+1, Morgan +0.5, Taylor +0.5) by M and O'Toole is bailing after. More crappy QB play than anything great from M; Demens and Ryan are rallying to tackle in short zones against a not that mobile QB.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(50), 10-0, 8 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Throwback screen||Ross||12|
|WR comes on ostentatious orbit "I'm gonna option" motion to the wide side of the field. O'Toole stares at him as it appears Illinois is screening over there, and then pivots to a throwback screen. This works a lot. Clark(-1) could be helpful on a peel back; instead he's cut. Don't' really blame the DTs. Ross(+1) attacks hard and gets cut to the ground but did get a two for one, for all the good that does M since there are still two guys to block Taylor. That does let Kovacs fill without getting bothered and holds this down. RPS -2; burned pretty good here and it took a nice play from Ross to prevent a potentially large play.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Draw||Campbell||4|
|Campbell(+1) gets a lot of push and threatens to fill the gap in the middle of the field. RB has to pick a hole further outside and start moving laterally. Would like Roh(-0.5) to not get so far upfield and maybe have a play when this happens. Demens(+1) beats a block and flows outside to force yet more lateral motion. Eventually RB has to turn it up into Demens and Ryan for a small gain.|
|O41||2||6||Shotgun twin TE twins||Nickel even||Pass||5||Dumpoff||N/A||9|
|M sends all three linebackers up the gut, dropping off both ends. Ross gets through clean but nobody really takes the RB and an easy dumpoff picks up the first down. Cover -1, RPS -1. Ross might have been late, not sure.|
|50||1||10||Pistol twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Demens||3|
|This turns into a quick hit at the left side of the line. Black(+0.5) does okay to narrow the gap; Ross(-1) gets into a blocker near the LOS and is outside of him but weirdly ends up trying to fight away from the guy with the ball, which gives a small crease; Demens(+1) scrapes down the line, gets a small pop on the OL trying to get into him, and then moves past the Ross block to tackle after a meh gain. Kovacs helps clean up.|
|M47||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Draw||Black||6|
|Huge gap as Black(-1) and Washington(-1) split in an effort to get pass rush; no delay for the RB. LBs are pass dropping and eh. Ross(+0.5) beats a guy, as does Ryan(+0.5); Demens(-0.5) gets blocked and disengages late, falling on the pile the other two guys already made.|
|M41||3||1||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||QB power||Campbell||0|
|Ojemudia is standing up on this, which may tip mischief. Campbell(+2) slants playside on the snap and gets past an attempted downblock; he gets penetration and fouls the play. One blocker is taking him. A second squeezes through the closing gap and is now useless since he has no angle. A third runs up the back of that OL. Ross ends up washed out in the pulling G; Demens(+0.5) reads where O'Toole is going and puts in a hit that stop him in his tracks; Ryan(+1) had blitzed from the backside and was tackling as this happens. RPS +1, slant caused blocks to fail and exposed runner to Ryan.|
|M41||4||1||Pistol twins twin TE||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Ryan||-1|
|Ryan(+2) blows inside of a tight end, getting upfield and picking off the pulling G. Demens(+2, tackling +1) has a free run and makes it count, making contact well in the backfield and tackling by himself. Boom. RPS +2. Perfect call.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 17-0, 1 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||TE post||Demens||INT|
|Orbit motion from slot WR. Play action fake. No sale from either LB; Demens(+3) gets a fantastic drop (cover +3, as no one is open anywhere) and picks the ball off as O'Toole chucks it into his chest.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 24-0, 11 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun twin TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter||Campbell||1|
|Campbell(+2) dominates the G, gets penetration, releases into intended hole, forces cutback; Washington(+1) has also gotten penetration and can release as RB cuts behind him to tackle; Demens(+1) finishes it off by beating a block and plowing the RB, already going down to the QW tackle.|
|O26||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Draw||Washington||-7|
|Zone blitz from M sends Washington and Campbell playside while dropping Clark. Ryan(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) both zoom into the hole on the backside. Washington(+2) fights past a block from the center and is there to shoot upfield when the RB cuts away from the blitzers. He TFLs. RPS +2, dead meat.|
|O19||3||16||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Screen||Kovacs||Inc|
|Blitz gets a free run from Morgan(+0.5, pressure +1) , which forces a too quick, inaccurate throw. Kovacs(+1) had zipped past a defender and got blocked by another; two for one, very likely enough of a delay on the screen to allow the cavalry to rally, certainly before the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-0, 9 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O4||1||10||Shotgun twins||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Washington||2|
|Campbell may move early, not called. He gets(+0.5) decent penetration on the backside. Washington(+1) gets push on the down-blocking G and fights playside. Roh's(+0.5) being doubled but doesn't give much. Demens(+1) reads and hits the G at the LOS. Nowhere to go, heap of bodies, pile falls forward a couple yards.|
|O6||2||8||Pistol 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power||Demens||3|
|Kickout on Roh as the play goes inside. Campbell(-1) blown out by a double, big hole. G releases into Morgan. Demens(+2) reads, attacks, gets past the pulling G and gets in a tackle after funneling to help; that help is Washington(+1), who got push on the backside and came under to flow down the line and finish the tackle.|
|O9||3||5||Shotgun trips||Okie one||Pass||5||Sack||Ryan||-4|
|Kovacs moves up late and blitzes off the edge. Two more DL attack to that side as Ryan(+2) stunts inside past them at great speed. He's in clean (pressure +3) and flying at the QB; QB side steps and he flies by. Scrambling now; Morgan(+1) reads it and flows up to prevent the scramble from going anywhere. O'Toole prepares to throw and is annihilated by a recovering Ryan from behind. Fumble, recovered by M. RPS +2. I mean, goddamn watching Ryan find the hole and accelerate through it is not that much different than seeing Denard do it.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 31-0, 4 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Counter||Campbell||3|
|Campbell(+1) dominates the G, gets penetration, shows up in gap, forces cutback. Pipkins does even better with the penetration but does not understand where the ball is going and can't disconnect to tackle at the LOS, push. Morgan(-0.5) gets slashed to the ground and is lucky that the hole is narrow enough that he can reach out an arm from his knees and do something useful. He does, though.|
|O27||2||7||Pistol 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||CGordon||6|
|M slants under. Heitzman(+1) is past his guy and into the backfield. Two guys follow. CGordon(-1, tackling -1) is now all alone on the edge with the back; he gets beat to the outside. Gordon(-1) is set up outside of a blocker after a few yards and also lets the back outside when he had a ton of pursuit helping out. Taylor and MRobinson combine to tackle at the sticks.|
|O33||3||1||Pistol twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power||Bolden||2|
|Double just gets enough movement on Heitzman for a crease; Bolden(+0.5) gets a good hit at the line on the pulling G, restricting and funneling; Morgan(+1) scrapes over to hit right at the first down marker, and it looks like it's short, generous spot. Very generous.|
|O35||1||10||Pistol twin TE||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Bolden||6|
|Washington gives some ground on a double; he also chucks a guard to the ground, so a push since that guy never blocks anyone. Bolden(-1) gets too aggressive and picks a hole that the back cuts out of; CGordon(-1, tackling -1) is coming down from the slot and overruns the play; RB runs through a tackle. Roh(+0.5) tackles from behind.|
|O41||2||4||Pistol Diamond||4-4 even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Morgan||3 (Pen -15)|
|Black is doubled and gets pushed out, so the inside guy releases into Morgan(+1); Morgan goes boom and stands him up. The backwards motion takes away potential cutbacks and forces him in between that block and that of Black, where MRobinson(+0.5) is there to fill as the extra guy in the box. Illinois OL Morgan popped loses a helmet and gets a penalty for continuing to block him. Not a big fan of the rule here since the guy is already engaged. For some reason play is yardage gained minus yardage penalized but the down doesn't count? Someone screwed up I think.|
|O29||2||16||Shotgun trips TE||4-3 even||Pass||5||Dumpoff||Clark||Inc|
|Blitz comes as Illinois cuts everyone; Clark(+1, cover +1) is dropping into this short out thing the RB is running and will kill it for minimal yards if caught; dropped. RPS +1.|
|O29||3||16||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie one||Pass||5||Sack||Ryan||-7|
|Another stunt gets Ryan(+2) under a guard before he can react to seal off the hole. This time Ryan doesn't quite run by the QB and gets a hand on; he's starting to bring him down when Roh(+1, pressure +3) beats his block to join in and make it a sure thing. RPS +2.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, EO3Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Screen||N/A||-1|
|RB falls down as he catches the ball for no reason. ILLINOIS! Ross and Pipkins may or may not have held this down.|
|O40||2||11||Pistol 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||WR screen||Gordon||-1|
|Outside WR the target with slot guy blocking. Not a bubble, but not sure what it actually is. Anyway, Gordon(+2, tackling +1) reads this and is out on the receiver when he catches the ball, picking up a TFL. ILLINOIS|
|O39||3||12||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Pass||4||Dig||Taylor||Inc|
|Ojemudia playing DT, a la HS. M stunts, sort of picked up, sort of not. CGordon(+0.5) and Clark(+0.5) threaten to sack; a containing Roh(-1) slips when QB starts moving around. He finds a guy running a dig a yard short of the first down. Taylor(+1, cover +1) reads, adjusts, and whacks the guy as the ball arrives, jarring it loose. Would have been short anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 11 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O13||1||10||Shotgun twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||End around||CGordon||1|
|Actually a touch pass to the WR end around but whatever it's an end around. Heitzman unblocked, lets it outside, does cause some delay, push. CGordon(+1) is taking on two blockers and moves inside when the WR threatens to go vertical but has the ability to redirect to the corner once he play goes all the way outside; Taylor(+1) beats a block and joins to tackle after a minimal gain.|
|O14||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||PA rollout cross||Bolden||Inc|
|Bolden(-2, cover -2) is way late to read the PA and opens up a first down and more; ball is behind and incomplete. ILLINOIS.|
|O14||3||9||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 even||Pass||4||Sack||Ojemudia||-2|
|M stunts; CGordon(+1) gets inside a tackle and pressures(+2). He's too far upfield and can only force the QB to move around in the pocket, but that's an accomplishment. O'Toole still readjusting when Ojemudia(+1), who flew past a chip from a releasing TE without getting touched and got chopped by the back, gets up and sacks from behind.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 7 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O28||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ross||3|
|Nowhere to go; Black(+0.5) gets in a crease as Heitzman(+0.5) shuts down a frontside one; Ross(+0.5) shoots a backside gap to force the RB outside. Ojemudia gives too much ground, permitting the bounce, but does come off to tackle so a push.|
|O31||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||N/A||WR screen||N/A||6|
|Black tracks it down from behind. GAF... expiring.|
|O37||3||1||Pistol twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ross||-2|
|And the reason I bothered with the drive. Pipkins(+0.5) and Black(+0.5) get quality push; Ross(+2) shoots the gap with perfect timing and goodbye Illinois.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 4 min 4th Q. EOG for D.|
I AM ENJOYING THIS A GREAT DEAL
Hey remember the 67-65 game
It just happened two years ago
WHAT IS THIS TWO YEARS AGO BUSINESS
THE BIBLE SAYS FOOTBALL STARTED IN 2011
No it doesn't
MY BIBLE IS GREG MATTISON'S WIKIPEDIA PAGE
Oh then it probably does… n't
DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MY CHOICE OF BIBLE
No not at all, I mean—
HOLY SCRIPTURE ANNOTATIONS
|Roh||8||2.5||5.5||Half sack, half points, half ten|
|Campbell||9||2||7||just Illinois just Illinois just Illinois|
|Washington||8.5||2.5||6||ditto ditto ditto please don't just be Illinois|
|Black||2.5||2||0.5||Definitively backup three tech.|
|Pipkins||2||-||2||Getting some push, still learning what to do with it.|
|Heitzman||2.5||-||2.5||Hope he can give Roh some breathers later.|
|Ojemudia||2.5||2||0.5||Half point WDE party.|
|Morgan||7.5||4.5||3||This is relatively bad!|
|Demens||16.5||3.5||13||Thanks for playing, freshmen.|
|Ryan||14||3||11||I call Clay Matthews mini Jake Ryan.|
|C. Gordon||2.5||2||0.5||Could probably step in without huge downgrade.|
|Ross||4||1||3||Knifing knife guy with knives.|
|Bolden||0.5||3||-2.5||Basically one blown coverage on last drive.|
|TOTAL||45||17||28||excuse me I'm going to go run in circles now|
|Avery||-||-||1.5||Oh yes please|
|Taylor||3.5||-||3.5||Cream and sugar?|
|Kovacs||2||1.5||0.5||Oh no thank you|
|T. Gordon||3||-||1||Here is your tea|
|M. Robinson||0.5||-||0.5||I like tea|
|Wilson||-||-||-||is there football?|
|TOTAL||7.5||2.5||5||not for the secondary|
|Pressure||11||1||10||Multiple unblocked Ryans.|
|Coverage||7||4||3||what is this pass you say of speaking|
So that's what a UFR chart looks like when I do a whole game in which Michigan holds the opponent to 130 yards.
Again, Demens has Stepped Up with capitals after picking OL out of his teeth for many of the first three games. Demens had an easy outing with Illinois OL virtually incapable of getting to him, and made the most of it with a series of third down stops and the track-and-follow INT. While I seriously doubt he'll ever scrape a +13 again if only because the opponent has to cooperate extensively for that to happen, this is a third straight game in which he has performed well as Michigan throttles an opponent's ground game (and everything else game).
Ryan is basically what we expect of him now. I would like to emphasize that sometimes when he comes on blitzes and accelerates through a hole in the OL after a change of direction, the feeling in your scalp is not entirely unlike that when Denard does it. He is a man of unusual speed. I mean, goddamn he hits this hole HARD:
And hey hey hey, defensive tackles. We has them, at least against OLs like Illinois. Let's check the schedule… yeah, lots of Illinois type outfits on the docket, not many Alabama's.
The metrics are pretty much irrelevant but a big part of Illinois's inability to pick up more than a couple yards per passing attempt was Michigan flinging its way at O'Toole whenever he tried. 11:1 is a pretty good ratio there.
Yeah, I don't know man. Illinois was turned into goo, and helped the process themselves.
Well, the Illinois offense hasn't been this throttled yet.
- vs Wisconsin: 284 yards
- vs Penn State: 364 yards
- vs Louisiana Tech: 324 yards
- vs Arizona State: 332 yards
The Arizona State game is particularly relevant since Scheelhaase missed it. Illinois put up 14 points, which is more than Utah and three less than Cal and Colorado have managed on ASU.
I mean, things happen to defenses. Guys blow stuff and then yards are acquired. Michigan hardly blew anything except a couple of contains on Scheelhaase; safety blanket Jordan Kovacs went virtually unused. This is kind of like picking through a UMass game for something useful, but even in that context what Michigan did was impressive.
Any, like, other things?
It does seem like Michigan's getting a bit better at containing short stuff. Illinois's screen game was non-existent:
RPS somewhat, also Kovacs beating a block like whoah. Gordon had a similar event late. I wonder if that will continue against teams that have a prayer of completing a pass longer than five yards.
So sort of a thing.
Hey, here's Will Campbell getting under the pads of what's probably an awful guard:
And doing it again:
Also, the other DT there eats a double team without giving more than a yard—that's Pipkins. We'll all be watching for signs of progress from him over the next few games, as a Pipkins-Washington DT combo next year seems like the best available option. Both are nose tackles now, but Pipkins moving to the three-tech may be possible.
Also, add another to the pile of Craig Roh plays that don't show up in the box score:
I just love how effective he has been. That's pretty nice above; the TE chuck featured in picture pages is an elite play. Just Illinois disclaimers, sure—he's already made more plays this year than he did last year. That development is another data point for what we'll call the Heininger Theory: Michigan's DL is going to be awesome at technique for the foreseeable future. [UPDATE: Heiko suggests "Heininger Certainty Principle," which SOLD."
What about that extremely disturbing section of the game in which Illinois gained like 30 yards?
Just random stuff. On this play the end-around fake opens up a lot of room and holds Gordon outside; Demens and Morgan end up in the same gap:
Remember yesterday's picture pages? This is the same thing from M—note Beyer folding back. The difference? Ryan is way way outside because of the end around fake when that's probably not his job. Thus… seven yards. And a stop two plays later incorrectly overturned by replay.
After that overturn Michigan gives up nine yards when it looks like Desmond Morgan gets the wrong call and does not blow up a play by stunting inside. These things happen. For Michigan they are turning into 8, 9, 10 yards and that's it. Anemic opposing offenses, yes yes. We pillage the lemonade stands.
A couple of times they got RPSed by draws:
They'll figure that out, in all likelihood. After zero(!) shotgun runs from MSU a week ago they will undoubtedly break tendency a couple times.
Aaaand… that's all.
Essentially everyone but Ryan and Demens bear special mention; DTs and Roh are vying to show.
What does it mean for MSU and beyond?
Demens and Morgan are about to get a stiff test against LeVeon Bell. Even if they're getting in clean, Bell is more than capable of juking you or running you over. Bell YAC is the key stat for Michigan's defense, and I don't know how that's going to go. For all of Demens's excellent play in the last three games he has not faced a back of that caliber.
I am pretty confident that Demens will get his chances, though, after watching the Michigan DL and the post-injury Spartan OL. Chris McDonald has been getting knocked back a lot, and he's their #1 guy. Both MSU tackles were susceptible to slants against Iowa, which means guards won't be getting where they're going and holes will be filled by clean linebackers.
On the outside, Burbridge will be a challenge. He's probably the best receiver Michigan has faced to date—yes, already—and if Maxwell is protected (maybe) and dry (probably) M will probably get some yards in its face that you wouldn't expect given the stats. Other than that?
Ignore the part at the end where he catches one.
MSU will be a step up from the previous two offenses—I know I know you don't believe it—but I'm expecting them to score under 20.
I TOLD YOU ABOUT THE BIBLE
News bullets and other important items:
- Brandon Moore and Stephen Hopkins still have unclear injury status. They may or may not play Saturday.
- The staff is wearing the Chuckstrong t-shirts on the way to the stadium.
“Uh, thanks for coming. Good practice yesterday. Liked how we’re preparing right now. I think the intensity level hopefully will be the same today from an offensive standpoint. I think talking to Al, they got a lot of good work done yesterday. Defensively, I’d say the same thing. I think both coordinators were pleased. I mean, not happy, but pleased with the preparation that we have.”
Were the practices as good as they were last week?
“Uh, I think it was comparable. I think coming off the bye week and not playing for a week, I think you always have a little more intensity it seems like. I think they’re comparable.”