We shall have to *press* our *quarters*. Ha ha! do you smoke the pun dear Maturin?
We've been talking about how Michigan State's defense worked and how Michigan's this year and in the future could be using that as a model. I've brought up how the 4-3 over works, but the genius of Dantonio's defense is really in how he does coverage. Since it seems this is what Michigan will be doing, I thought a lay understanding of it wouldn't go amiss just now.
Coaches, you can offer corrections or tune out because this is going to be a little more basic. Spartans, try not to be too offended at the butchery I make of your wonderful defense. You are truly our state's top program and in no way does continuing to whine about a statement a 21-year-old made in 2007 make you petty.
Now let's go to the alignment above. We're looking at a 4-3 over; the defensive line is shifted to the "strong" side (technically Michigan's offense is balanced but the side with the two TEs is strong. Also that's the field side). We're also looking at a defense that is really creeping up. The safeties are 7 and 8 yards off the line of scrimmage, the linebackers are 4 yards off, and the cornerback at the bottom of your screen is in press. The variant on the 4-3 over is the defensive ends spread out (the SDE is in a wide-9 tech, the WDE completely outside the RT's shoulder), and the linebackers group in closer to compensate.
This is "aggressive." The guys apparently in charge of the deep part of the field are further off the line of scrimmage than the running back. There's a mismatch on your right, where a cornerback is matched against a tight end (Butt), but that hardly matters since any run is going right into a pile of bodies.
Cover 2 and Cover 2 Man
Getting up and bothersome to any receivers near the line of scrimmage has big benefits. The receiver will have a hard time getting into his route, throwing off the timing of the play and ensuring the offense gets nothing cheap like a quick out or in. A good press corner will prevent his receiver from getting into an easy route like a slant (the old fashioned man-coverage beating route). The danger of this is the press doesn't work all the time and then you've got a receiver accelerating downfield past a cornerback who's facing the wrong way. For this reason press teams would leave the safeties back to help. It ends up functionally not that different from Cover 2.
Of course that has a downside as well. While each receiver has 1.5 guys occupied with him, you've got the safeties and outside linebackers chasing the passing game instead of manning the run gaps. Defensive rule numero uno is don't be easy to run on.
A very popular alternative these days is Quarters. The link will explain further but simply put, with quarters coverage the cornerbacks and safeties have option routes depending on what the receivers do. They watch the inside guy (in a stack it's the back guy). If he goes vertical the safety has him; if he goes into the flat, the cornerback does and the safety plays Cover 2.
Watch this gif from the above link until you get a feel; the left side is the #2 receiver going vertical and the right side is him going into the flat.
"Going vertical" as I learned it, is the receiver going 8 or more yards downfield before making a turn. This is a strong coverage technique to cover the outside and downfield stuff the receivers will do, and leaves the linebackers available to cover short Cov 2 routes and react to the run. It's very base; the best way to beat it is to have your running game outmatch their front seven. The safeties are able to stand back and read, so like Cov 2 they're available to cut down whatever made it through. That's good enough for Virginia Tech, who's been running Quarters and been solid against the run for a decade and a half. But it wasn't good enough for Dantonio.
Very Aggressive Quarters
You may have already smoked out the difference between Michigan State's alignment against Michigan and the Cover 4 look that quarters starts out in. You've got that cornerback pressing a guy, for one. And the other thing: if the coverage is waiting until the inside guy is 8 yards downfield to be sure of their decision, and the safeties are standing 7 yards off the line of scrimmage, aren't they setting themselves up for one of those "hey maybe I oughtta be chasing this guy who just ran by me." things?
State will pack their guys in the box so linebackers and safeties are right there to stop the run. The linebackers squeeze laterally into the box, so the coverage is strongest inside (knowing this, offenses don't typically expect to find open guys there, leaving those LBs free to run Narduzzi's favorite Double-A gaps blitz).
That makes them very stout against the run, but should have a weakness tradeoff against outside passes. If the #2 receiver goes vertical the safety has to turn and go with him, meaning there's zero help for the cornerback.
State's answer to that: "So what!" This is where stretching the boundaries of pass interference comes into play, because the cornerback's job is to grab anything, pay off anybody, or sacrifice however many livestock and virgins it takes to keep that receiver from getting downfield.
Here's where Dantonio's program development comes into play, because it takes a long time for cornerbacks to get to the point where their press will work often enough that the quarterback stops expecting that guy to be open. Also they have to be ready for what coaches will do to screw with them.
It's also where finding good players comes into play. You can't get away with this if you have crappy Indiana safeties. There's tremendous strain put on the defensive backs to play up and still cover deep; if they can't handle it (and the offense has any kind of downfield passing ability) the jig is up.
In the defense's favor: in the college game, especially the game today where Tom Brady wannabes are less common than Denard Robinson wannabes (i.e. guys who are running threats but hardly devastatingly accurate deep passers), an offense that can rip you over the top is a rare cove indeed. The talent-depleted Big Ten has been short on defense-stretching receivers; a good 40% of Big Ten wideouts who'd pose a major threat to this scheme play for Maryland. Braxton Miller has a lot going for him but he tends to sail such passes over his open guys' heads. Devin Gardner, especially a beat up Devin Gardner, has a tendency to underthrow, turning open receivers into a game of Five-Hundred. Hackenberg might have success but his best targets are tight ends; Sudfeld has a similar problem now that his slot dude is the last man standing. And omigod can you just imagine what happens when this thing meets Gary Nova? "Like a Wrecking Ball" don't enter into it!
Last year Borges tried to screw with the Quarters reads by making it unclear who's the #1 or #2 receiver to that side, either with stacks or putting 3 receivers to the same side or like this (watch the WRs at the top of the screen):
Michigan ran just a two-man route, motioning the outside receiver into the inside receiver. Ultimately Funchess leapt a million feet in the air to beat Drummond to the outside, but look how seamlessly the Spartan defensive backs executed this and made it hard.
A novice might have a hard time with who's 1 or 2, but not a 5th year senior. Dantonio built his program, like Wisconsin's, on retention. He'll hold onto guys for three or four years usually before they see the field (or else the kids have to beat out the upperclassmen). It also makes those elders kind of crucial because the depth chart carries a lot of pressmen in training.
So for the first few seconds of the play, it's kind of Cov 2 man with everybody so bunched near the line of scrimmage that the run game will be right there and obvious, and thus easy to stop. Then quarters rules take over. And it can't be cracked wide open because pass interference isn't likely to be called unless you're playing at Notre Dame.
Can Michigan do this? Actually it's probably the best thing for the defensive personnel the coaches have collected, since the one thing we seem to have a glut of is really good cornerbacks, and more in development.
Let's smother this meme in its crib, okay? In the aftermath of Nussmeier's hire you can't throw a rock without hitting an article that broaches the possibility of a QB controversy next year. [Picture at right: Adam Glanzman.]
Gentlemen. Let me first say that you are upstanding writers of things on the internet and I respect you all greatly. That dispensed with:
ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR COTTON-PICKIN' MAIZE AND BLUE MINDS
FOR PANTS SAKE
WHEN IS THE LAST TIME MICHIGAN REPLACED A FIFTH YEAR SENIOR QUARTERBACK WITH A UNDERCLASSMAN VOLUNTARILY
DON'T LOOK IT UP I'LL TELL YOU NEVER
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT SHANE MORRIS'S PERFORMANCE IN THE BOWL GAME THAT CONVINCES YOU HE'S THE GUY, EXACTLY
THAT ONE SCREEN PASS HE THREW THAT WENT A LONG WAY
OR THAT OTHER SCREEN PASS HE THREW THAT WENT A LONG WAY
OR THAT END AROUND THAT TECHNICALLY COUNTS AS A PASS
THE DUDE AVERAGED 5.2 YPA, WHICH IS THREET/SHERIDAN PRODUCTION
HE THREW AN INTERCEPTION THE INSTANT MICHIGAN LET HIM THROW DOWNFIELD
MICHIGAN SCORED SIX MEANINGFUL POINTS
DEVIN GARDNER WAS 80% DEAD MOST OF THIS YEAR AND STILL HAD 8.6 YPA
Right. I have high hopes that Morris and his cannon arm will develop nicely, but a senior Gardner coming off a season that's statistically quite promising despite having absolutely zero help from his running game is not getting replaced. Period. Guy was literally playing on a broken foot for most of the OSU game and still put up 41. He smoked Notre Dame. He had a lot of wobbly moments midseason, but when you're getting sacked 21 times in a month that will happen.
I'm sure there will be some rumbles about competition; I will believe each and every one of them just as much as I believed Saban to Texas.
200 pounds of twisted blue steel. Via MVictors, here is an OMG shirtless Bo in 1976 post heart-surgery:
1981 Rose Bowl. Here's all of it. Dick Enberg, not Keith Jackson, unfortunately:
Goodbye, Jeremy. A Gallon tribute:
Goodbye, NCAA. Underclassmen are leaving college for the pro ranks in increasing numbers, with last years record high of 73 already broken. This draft may feature as many as 100 underclassmen. This is partially due to CBA changes in the NFL that have prevented rookies from getting big first contracts, which changes the equation as to whether they should stay or go:
The new system doesn’t remove huge contracts. It delays them. To get a huge contract, a player must have at least three years in the NFL. And so it now makes sense to get to the NFL ASAFP, and to put in the time necessary to get the second contract.
The increasing money all around the kids probably isn't helping, either.
While this hasn't affected Michigan or—sigh—Ohio State much (Roby was gone either way), Notre Dame has taken a couple of unexpected hits, first RB/KR George Atkinson then TE Troy Niklas. Atkinson's departure is firmly on the "nuts" side of the scale since he's unlikely to get drafted at all; Niklas is projected as a second-rounder. ND has also lost WR Davaris Daniels to academics for the upcoming semester, but he should be back for fall as long as he crosses his Ts and dots his Is instead of having someone else do it.
A familiar name. Notre Dame is still looking for an offensive coordinator, and it might be someone you've heard of.
A source told Blue & Gold Illustrated that former Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges, current Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn and Quinn’s former assistant Don Patterson are on the short list.
Yuuuuup. Unfortunately, twitter is no longer showing the cavalcade of Michigan fans responding to Steve Lorenz's tweet on this topic, otherwise I would count up the AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA-variant responses and compare them to the LOL-type responses.
Meanwhile in "really?" Bobby Petrino has swiped Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for a reported five-year guaranteed contract of one million dollars per year. Louisville is throwing money at their problem like you would not believe, but unlike Doug Nussmeier, Grantham's track record is pretty iffy. Georgia yards per play of late:
- 2013: 5.4, 54th.
- 2012: 5.2, 34th.
- 2011: 4.5, 7th.
- 2010: 5.2, 39th.
- Georgia was in that 30-40 range just before Grantham showed up, so this is a guy with the best coordinator contract in all the land and he's had one legit defense in the past four years.
I wonder what the real numbers are. The GoDaddy bowl reported attendance of 107% of capacity. This may be slightly optimistic.
On the whole, bowl attendance declined marginally this offseason, but with the rampant number-fudging going on attendance could be collapsed and the official numbers would just be bolder and bolder lies.
Sounds familiar. The Seattle Seahawks have a pass defense that is almost unprecedented in the recent history of the NFL. How do they do it?
Quietly, the Seahawks have achieved a 13-3 record and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs by exploiting a loophole: NFL referees are reluctant to throw endless flags for pass interference and defensive holding, even if defenses deserve them.
"They look at it and say, 'We may get called for one but not 10,'" said Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating who is now a Fox analyst.
League insiders say this divisional-round matchup between the Seahawks and Saints, the NFC's top passing offense, may be Seattle's rule-bending masterpiece.
"They just seem to not care about the rules," said New York Giants wide receiver Louis Murphy, whose team was routed 23-0 by Seattle this season.
This is also Michigan State's strategy, not that Michigan could protect Devin Gardner long enough for anyone watching that particular game long enough to find out. The Seahawks are masters of the art, trading off less than one pass interference penalty a game (they picked up 13 on the year) for play after play where routes are disrupted and balls fall incomplete.
Since the NFL is the NFL, I'd expect them to come down with some sort of point of emphasis ruling, but college doesn't respond nearly as quickly and the penalties are far less punitive, so the jam-and-grab style with big corners projects to be effective into the future. Jabrill Peppers fits that mold, and once you put a bunch of weight on Channing Stribling he does as well.
Small changes. The NCAA is exploring allowing athletes to do stuff other than athlete, so the Boise State running back whose name I can forget can make hats and rappists can rap, etc.
Etc.: Urban loses Mike Vrabel to BOB's new Texans regime, which is a surprise. Vrabel's supposed to be Urban's ace recruiter; I'm not waiting for OSU's recruiting to fall off a cliff.
I know we no longer have Borges, Hoover Street Rag, but I say you should cram your existing OC-O-Meter philosophy onto whatever OC we currently have. Illinois was ranked, but they just lost to Northwestern so they will no longer be ranked. Probably ever. Meanwhile, Tre Demps is the Big Ten's Marshall Henderson.
Michigan's program is worth as much as an NFL team despite vastly lower revenues. I do not wonder why this is.
11/3/2012 – Michigan 35, Minnesota 13 – 6-3, 4-1 Big Ten
The only press box I've ever been in is Eastern Michigan's, and I was there to watch Devin Gardner play. He was at Inkster; Inkster was in the Big Day Prep Showdown. We even live-blogged it. The cadre of grizzled preps guys sat a few seats down. Their silverback called Gardner "high school superman" and Paul taped him from the sideline.
In an eerie prefiguring of Denard Robinson's career, Gardner had a ridiculously high percentage of Inkster's yards and made everyone feel ill when he got knocked out of the game. Inkster was on a grinding fourth quarter drive with Inkster down two. They had no kicker, so on fourth and seven from the eight they went for it. Gardner did a Vince Young impression down to the one and did not get up.
The backup came in to guide Inkster to minus three yards on the next three plays. Gardner was reinserted for fourth and the game. He rolled out into heavy resistance, drew coverage to him, and threw a weird mechanics-free jump pass that scored the go-ahead touchdown. His teammates celebrated; he laid under a defender. Defender removed, Gardner got up like a glacier tired of gouging lakes out of mountains. Weary. A thousand years weary.
In the press box, the preps silverback spake thusly: "and on fourth down, he rose again."
[UPDATE: Damn my memory. This was actually a Tim tweet. Sorry I didn't remember it right and work you in all fancy-like, Tim.]
With Gardner on the sideline, Pioneer went 68 yards in 49 seconds to win. At halftime, the Free Press had launched their Rodriguez jihad, sucking any attention his Lazarus comeback may have generated out the airlock.
That's just how being Devin Gardner has gone. He arrived with an armload of hype and fell prey to an avalanche of it wearing dreads. He didn't even get to preserve his redshirt year thanks to Tate Forcier's inability to keep on the sunny side of life and Denard going out in about 2/3rds of Michigan's games. He moved to receiver, but called himself a quarterback. He saw the Nebrasaka game up close and personal. What was he thinking then about where he had ended up?
Things happen and you feel certain ways about them and you can only figure out why you felt the things you felt in the moment later, after. From distance I think my extremely complicated yesssnononononoyessss response to Gardner's rolling out stopping neh neh neh no lets turn around and run the other way touchdown heave was comprised of these three things:
Seeing that Dileo had broken open by twenty yards.
Remembering Devin's high school superman act.
Remembering what happened when he tried to matriculate that upwards. Yeah, it's the MSU yakety sax clip. I didn't need to tell you this.
It was third and seventeen and Michigan hadn't been able to move the ball a lick against Minnesota, so that colored my expectations as well.
Mostly I expected that something hilariously bad would occur and I would tweet out gallows humor while scouting out Goldy for some Ohio Bobcat action. This expectation got much better when Gardner cleared the containment and broke to the backside of the play. It got worse again when Devin chucked it without setting his feet, and then it was a touchdown and I'm just like…
…oh. That was madcap. That's not happening again but at least we're seven points closer to not losing this game. I wonder how we will get any more? I think we should try the triple reverse throwback bomb to Lewan. Works every time when the universe has turned into a cartoon.
Michigan went with "fade route to 5'8" receiver in jet boots." Close enough. No one adjusts to the laws of physics going all looney tunes like the Michigan Wolverines.
Yeah, Minnesota is just a high school team with a nice stadium that disguised their pass defense in the wreckage of 2012 Big Ten quarterbacking. Yeah, everyone is getting way ahead of themselves praising Gardner when his performance seemed split about 50/50 between yakety sax (but good!) and receivers bailing Gardner out on balls they have no business catching. Yeah, Gardner's mechanics still look bizarre. The main takeaway from that game was uh-oh, Ohio State. Sure.
I don't think Devin Gardner cares after years of being a two-snap sideshow. That ridiculous heave was the first hint that he might be able to hack it next year, and that's a huge relief for everyone. It took three years and third and seventeen, but Devin Gardner got up and recaptured some of that old magic.
John T. Greilick/Detnews
Obligatory jug shots from same:
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week.
A close race this week. I did tweet "JMFR" after that and meant it. Nine tackles, five solo, three TFLs, various other things that don't show up on the scoreboard but let other people make plays. However, Jake Ryan got edged again and I'm pretty sure he was the guy who let Minnesota's tight end get so wide open on their touchdown.
So… Wide Receivers As A Unit, come on down! Drew Dileo: I'm not even laughing at the inevitable Wes Welker comparisons. Jeremy Gallon: separate like a boss, leap like a man with rocket boots. Roy Roundtree: Devin Gardner TARP. If those three guys don't collectively play out of their minds the narrative about Gardner is quite a bit different today.
Honorable Mention. Devin Gardner, about whom more in a bit, Jake Ryan(beastmode on several plays), Jordan Kovacs (damn you fluck), Desmond Morgan (when he hits you on third and short stops happen).
Epic Double Point Standings.
3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1.3: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama, 1/3 Minnesota), Drew Dileo (Michigan State, 1/3 Minnesota)
1: Craig Roh(Nebraska).
0.3: Roy Roundtree (1/3 Minnesota)
Brady Hoke epic double troll of the week. This is just magnificent:
Coach Brady Hoke said after the game Gardner now is entrenched as Michigan's backup quarterback while Bellomy deals with an undisclosed injury, although he was guarded about what exactly is ailing the redshirt freshman.
"Russell's situation is a little different," Hoke said. "Not one I want to discuss."
Asked to clarify whether the issue is injury related, Hoke said "Most likely. Yes. A boo boo."
There's an art installation about the nature of truth and reality in Hoke press conferences. UMAA, get on that.
The Michigan Athletic Department delivered the sobering news minutes before kickoff: senior quarterback Denard Robinson would not start against Minnesota due to an “undisclosed injury.”
Hoke is "very optimistic" he'll be back next week. Amazing thing: that was the first game Denard has ever missed with injury.
Obligatory Gardnertake. Obviously he'll be the backup QB the remainder of the year what with Denard being even more fragile than normal and Russell Bellomy being both injured and the primary author of the second half of the Nebraska game. And he's finally done something other than worry everyone about his future not living up to what people were hoping it would be. This is major progress.
I still find myself way on the conservative end of reaction to Gardner's performance. Some other blog takes to set the table:
"After a frightening start, Gardner was amazing. I’m amazed that he can spend basically one week preparing for this game and do that. Yes, I realize it was The Gophers and like everyone else I’m prone to oversteer after a win, but that was remarkable. So that is the 5 star guy that everyone was salivating over out of high school."
Also at MVictors, Steve Sapardanis:
WOW!!! His performance evoked three words from me: Poise, Confidence and WOW!!
Robinson didn't play at all, and converted receiver Devin Gardner made him look utterly expendable. Lining up at quarterback for the first time this season, Gardner was 12-of-18 for 245 yards – he had three completions covering at least 45 – and two touchdowns, good for a sky-high pass efficiency rating of 206.6.
Meinke's headline-writin' guy:
Devin Gardner's stellar performance leads Michigan to rout
This may be an effect from sitting in the stadium instead of catching it on TV: Gardner had plenty of wide open dudes, and his throws were erratic. On the one hand, there was the picture-perfect bomb to Gallon; on the other, Dileo and Roundtree bailed Gardner out hardcore on the touchdown drive that put the game out of reach. The Dileo catch was a circus catch all the way, one that could have been made much easier.
Roundtree == Gardner TARP. MVictors
Meanwhile Roundtree broke open by yards and would have had an easy touchdown if Gardner had gotten the ball to the endzone on the opposite hash. As it was he had to circus Michigan out of an interception. I'm torn on pressured completions to Jerald Robinson and Roundtree that were wobblers but did pick up big chunks.
Gardner does have a much better sense of when to run around like a lunatic than Denard. His High School Superman mode picked up the Dileo touchdown and a critical third down conversion on Michigan's second touchdown drive. He's still having trouble adjusting to what he can get away with in college, as his second attempt to reprise his MSU 2012 Yakety Sax (except good(!)) ended in a crazy whip-around throwaway that is easy to see resulting in something worse than a harmless ball out of bounds.
Compounding everything is the complication that Minnesota is Minnesota, and Minnesota, despite being Minnesota, was the top pass efficiency defense in the league entering the game. I tend to give more credence to the Minnesota bit of that given Ace's FFFF of Jared Abbrederis hand-wavingly wide open and seeing plenty of that in person Saturday. Gardner had doorwalls, not windows.
Okay, yeah. Michigan called maybe one or two runs for Gardner, which was frustrating but…
The passing game wasn’t difficult to acclimate to, Gardner said, but recognizing new protections and familiarizing himself with the ground game took some time. He called offensive coordinator Al Borges’ gameplan a “safe” one, due to the extreme lack of depth at quarterback.
“They couldn’t run the quarterback,” Gardner said. “I’m comfortable with doing that, but there was no way we could have done that, it just wouldn’t have been smart.”
…okay yeah I'm with you.
Running game, turrible. Michigan got a short-yardage romp from Fitzgerald Toussaint in garbage time to make the final numbers look okay. Extracting the final two drives (four Thomas Rawls runs for 6 yards and four Toussaint runs for 50), suck out sacks (three for 23), and Michigan's run game did this:
- 30 carries for 122 yards.
That is a hair over four yards a carry, and suuuuuucks. Even if you add in the garbage time they only get up to 4.7 YPC, which is almost two yards worse than Minnesota's best performance to date in the Big Ten.
Kids, it's sackcloth and ashes time. I had a little fit in the stands when Michigan ran an iso on one of their first couple drives and it went for three yards because it was Rawls running into an unblocked linebacker instead of Toussaint running into an unblocked linebacker and getting two yards. Things got marginally better from there, but only marginally. Michigan's long run other than the Toussaint TD was a Gardner scramble. Their next two were 1) a Gallon end-around that didn't require much blocking, and 2) the Rawls counter pitch that required none. I'm guessing that when I do the UFR the offensive line won't come out much better than they did against Nebraska.
That's mystifying after they did pretty well against a rampant ND defense and throttled a couple bad Big Ten teams. Minnesota and Nebraska aren't much better than Purdue and Illinois on defense. Michigan crushed the latter two, and essentially got crushed by the former two. Denard's absence has a lot to do with that; it's still depressing to think of Michigan's rushing offense as the worst in the Big Ten minus #16.
Hagerup dup. Will Hagerup, please report to the garage for a tuneup: three punts for an average of 29 yards each. Yorp.
Minnesota trip report section. The Gophers' new stadium is nice, as you would expect. Unlike Northwestern—the Big Ten stadium of comparable size I've been to—even the far reaches in the corner are pretty good seats, and the video board is far superior to Michigan's. I looked it up on the wikipedia: their main board is 5184 square feet to M's 3,991 and has a higher resolution. Michigan's down to 14th on their list of biggest screen things; kind of feels like the boards installed just a couple years ago are already dated.
I was on the aisle. I spent most of the game looking around people going up or down, because 1) they serve beer and 2) Minnesota fans in our section made Michigan students look like ruthless drill instructors with their punctuality. I guess it was an 11 AM local start. Even so my strategy as a Minnesota fan would be to show up for the part of the game where you're competitive and exit early if and when that ceases to be true. At least they were nice. I didn't see a single negative interaction between Michigan and Minnesota fans.
The chintz factor was pretty high, largely because the announcer would prompt everyone with "THAT'S ANOTHER GOLDEN GOPHER…" and then a variable number of fans would say "FIRST DOWN." The PA guy's mood shifted wildly with the fortunes of the game, too. By the end of it he was almost surly. The Minnesota marching band is 350 strong and the only thing I remember them playing was the Mortal Kombat theme sometime in the third.
Logistically, the stadium is in a good spot. We tailgated at the state fairgrounds in St. Paul, which was a ten minute bus ride from the stadium on a private university road. That last bit is key: no traffic. After the game I went to a sportsbar to watch an epic Sparty No moment with various folk; another set of companions went right back to the car. The bus line: about ten minutes and then you're out of all traffic.
Oh so Sparty. Oh, Sparty. You sonsabitches. First you have to run out to a two-score lead and then salt the game away before getting their world-class Sparty No(!) moment in on a personal foul on a pick six—one of like six you sonsabitches took after being on your best fairy godmother behavior against Michigan because really you're just misunderstood—and then getting outright screwed in a fashion that I couldn't even enjoy because you needed to win that game.
And then. And then after the game you took a shot at Denard for no damn reason:
"He's faster than Denard, even though he thinks he's faster than (Usain) Bolt," Narduzzi said. "He's flat-out fast. He's a good football player."
And then players hopped on Twitter to claim they had not lost but one game this year:
The post-MSU-win column truly could not have been anything but what it was. So Sparty.
It took exactly two weeks to go from "where's the threat" to Same Old Spartans. Well, okay. I actually hope you sonsabitches make a bowl game because thanks to the ineligible teams you'll get sucked into a NYD thing against an SEC team and lose by 600.
BONUS BONUS BONUS
Kid's got a future with Vince McMahon if the football thing doesn't work out.
All that said. I'm with MGoGadfly KJ on the validity of that penalty.
The player is trailing the play, looking at what's going on. He's Kenny Bell—he's fast. There is a possibility the play cuts back to where he's relevant, and Adams doesn't hit him in the head, he just shoulders him to the ground. It's not dirty or excessively violent. It's the equivalent of the PF Michigan got last week for hitting Martinez late—overprotective busybody stuff done in the name of PR. Unlike last week, it swung the game.
AND I DIDN'T EVEN GET TO LIKE IT ARRRGH
Fake field goal thing. Minnesota folk were livid at it but after seeing it on replay I think Kill almost got us.
Kill had something up his sleeve and used it, getting his quarterback wide open on the sideline with no one covering him. If he'd run downfield and the guy had thrown downfield, touchdown. Bizarrely, despite setting this up and getting a quick snap in the throw was on the LOS and Michigan could recover because they were not rushing seriously. It didn't seem like it was a screwup by the guy throwing the ball, either: Nelson just sat on the LOS instead of running downfield.
I don't get that bit, but the idea worked. The execution/play design was busted.
Side note: if you're wondering how that happened after the rules were changed such that anyone checking into the game has to do so between the numbers: Nelson was already on the field and just stayed on as the rest of the offense jogged off. I'm not sure why you'd put Nelson out there instead of a receiver in that case, another strange thing about that play.
So… yeah, everything that happened after the snap was weird and bad. The gamble itself I can get behind when your kicker is .500 on the season.
A plea for pass interference sanity. I'll probably expand this into a larger post after the season but Saturday really crystallized how much I hate the pass interference rule as currently implemented. I actually thought this when Michigan got the benefit of it on the long incompletion to Roundtree on which the DB had excellent position and Roundtree kind of flung himself all over the dude's back.
IMO, if the DB is over the top of the WR, he's earned the right to slow down and prevent the guy from getting to the ball. If he's behind him and the ball is crappy and underthrown that is the offense not executing. You should only be able to commit pass interference with your arms or by actually hitting a guy. You have a right to your momentum, and to exist. Grabbing, holding, blowing a guy up before the ball gets there—all of these are legitimate calls. Running over a guy because he suddenly stops because the QB left the ball 10 yards short is not. I'm really tired of plays on which the offense is bailed out when a terribly-thrown ball turns into 15 yards.
Defensive backs are corporeal beings! Let's treat them like that! I'm founding the We're Made Of Matter Too League.
LOLWUT. I'm with Heiko:
Michigan by 13.5 over Northwestern? That's higher than the opening line for Michigan vs. Minnesota.
Home/away yeah but Northwestern is competitive against teams not named Purdue. This does make me feel so much better about that game. PREVIEW PREVIEW: Not picking the spread this time, probably.
Oh, right, defense. The defense held Minnesota to 13 points and under 300 yards—though if pass interference penalties were credited as offensive yards they would have gone over—and other than some Jake Ryan chatter above this 4000-ish word post has nothing to say about it, because that's just what happens. Being seventh in yardage defense just happens. Hail Mattison.
It's Michigan versus Minnesota week, at Minnesota, which means one thing. A University of Michigan quarterback is going to have a career day. In 2008, Nick Sheridan was 18 of 30 for 203 yards and a 127.8 QB rating. In 2006, Chad Henne was 17 of 24 for 284 yards, 3 TDs, and a QB rating of 211.5. That may not have been his best performance, but I don't ever remember seeing a QB rating greater than 200. In 2003, John Navarre was 33 for 47 for 353 yards and 2 TDs. During my college years, we put up these scoring numbers at Minnesota: 49, 52, 58, and 44 ('89, '91, '93, '96.)
I guess what I'm saying is, we shouldn't have been surprised by what transpired yesterday, but after that first quarter, I'm betting that I'm not the only one that was shocked by the next three quarters. After 9 consecutive TD-less quarters, we scored 5 in the next 3.
Blog folk. MVictors also made the trip, where he took in the game from the resplendent comfort of the press box. He was also not impressed by Gopher timeliness, and reminded me that I was also astounded by how into the Kiss Cam everyone was.
QUINTON WASHINGTON – To me it seemed like every time a Golden Gopher ball carrier got up from a run up the middle, Big Q was at the bottom of the pile. There may have been some questions about the strength of UM D-Line, but Washington is starting to clog up the middle, making it tough sledding for opponents to run on Michigan this year.
I think one of the hardest things college football fans have to reconcile is the ephemeral nature of players. When you consider depth charts, redshirting, and the like, we may get about three years with them at most, four if we're really lucky. We get to know them, we come to appreciate them for what they can do, and then, like that, as quickly as they came, they are gone, leaving only memories, and occasionally questions of what might have been.
Gardner looked like a Jim Tressel-led Terrelle Pryor: an athletic, tall quarterback being forced to play under center and make plays only when he's asked to while allowing the defense to carry the load. In this game, Gardner was able to do so, but this was against a Minnesota team that allowed 44 points to New Hampshire and 28 to Western Michigan and Purdue. Does Gardner's obvious improvement actually resemble a sustainable winning offense? That's debatable.
Tremendous bullets. Ditto TTB bullets. Maize and Blue Nation bullets. Maize and Go Blue recap. They're SEOing Drew Dileo's name into post URLs at SBN! (Don't bother with the "RESURGENT POWER RUNNING GAME?!?!?" comment if you hit up that article, as they have been taken care of.) Gopher takes from Fringe Bowl Team and Daily Gopher. I agree with TDG on Phillip Nelson—guy was extremely impressive. Holding the Rope column.
Repeat After Me: There is NO QB CONTROVERSY
After Devin Gardner's amazing game (minus the 1st quarter), I joked on Twitter that the easiest way to identify a so-called "Walmart Wolverine" on sports talk radio this week will be the guy calling in asking if there's a QB controversy now in A2.
There is not.
Devin was outstanding (minus the 1st quarter). He was outstanding by any measure, but more so since he hadn't gotten any meaningful game reps at quarter back since... Illinois 2011? But as soon as he's 100% again, Denard is Michigan's QB this season. Period.
Also yes so hard
Paid folk (and the Daily). Come on Baumgardner diviiiiiide and take into account connnnntext before you praise RB production. Numbers from same. Michigan had its first consecutive 90-yard TD drives ever, which… like… wow.
When Michigan has needed to scramble this year, it has turned to Gardner.
Gardner was never really given a fair shake. He came in as a five-star recruit marooned behind a once-in-a-generation talent. Next year, he’ll have to compete with another hyped recruit, Shane Morris, who better fits Michigan’s pro-style system.
This year, he was asked to move to receiver, though it’s unclear whether he had a choice. The extent of his protest was to say he still considers himself a quarterback.
On Saturday, Michigan thrust him into uncharted territory: a wide receiver given one week to prepare for quarterback. There was little run game to bail him out, and even with Robinson, Michigan hadn’t scored a touchdown in two games. Gardner had taken reps at quarterback in his first two years, but he had to learn new protections and run packages in days.
“I was pretty nervous coming in to know how I would handle that,” Gardner said. “But I feel like I handled it pretty well.”
It looked as though Gardner, a junior who moved to receiver following two seasons as Robinson's backup, was back at home -- and he said that's exactly how he felt.
"I play quarterback," he said, "so I feel good."
Is it possible Gardner is a better quarterback, now that he doesn't play quarterback?
Formation notes: Michigan debuted something sort of like Gator Heavy:
This isn't different personnel than the shotgun 2TE set that Denard scored on to beat Notre Dame but deploying the two TEs as H-backs gives Michigan added flexibility and unpredictability in the run game. I called this "Shotgun 2H," since if I did call it Wolverine Heavy I'd have to come up with something else if and when we see a formation that adds McColgan or Brandon Moore to the mix by taking one of the WRs off the field. Wolverine Super Heavy? Wolverine Weis*?
Other than that it wasn't too exciting. Bowling Green stuck with base personnel the whole game, deployed a ton of eight-man fronts either by alignment or a safety walking down before the snap, and played way more man than any previous opponent. You can see their "base 4-4," as I called it, above. Here's what I called "nickel 4-3," as the slot LB is way outside the box:
This almost always saw a safety walk down, FWIW, and often had the nickel LB blitz for contain.
Substitution notes: You know all about the carousel of incredibly dangerous quarterbacks. Lewan started at left tackle and Huyge did not get in until Dorrestein came off with a slight injury. On the last series before Michigan sent in the backups, Barnum replaced Schilling at left guard.
At tailback, Shaw and Smith remained the starters with Hopkins getting the first non-those-guys opportunities. When he fumbled it was back to the starters for a while, then Cox, then Toussaint, then Teric Jones. With Shaw and Toussaint "doubtful" for Indiana per RR, Hopkins and Cox are poised to get more first-team opportunities against Indiana.
At wide receiver, the usual rotation with less Terrence Robinson and more Jeremy Gallon.
*(Fairly indifferent to you at this point, xoxo.)
On with show:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||5|
|Lewan starts at LT. BG slants a bit and the backside DT gets into the A gap past Schilling; Omameh tripped and so the frontside doesn?t look to good; Smith(+1) cuts it back behind Schilling. DE is moving laterally down the line and is in good position until Shaw pops him backwards, allowing Smith to snake his way for decent yardage. Lewan clamped onto a LB downfield, FWIW. He was not blocking for the cutback so it didn't really matter.|
|M25||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-4||Pass||Rollout quick out||Roundtree||7|
|Man coverage so Roundtree has plenty of room working against a safety. Robinson seems a little late on this but this is not a good D and it doesn't matter; Roundtree has time to catch and cut back inside past the safety overrunning the play to pick up some YAC and a first down. (CA,3, protection 1/1)|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-4||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||5|
|BG flowing hard, so Molk and Omameh have no chance of scooping the playside DT; Omameh ends up taking him and riding him down the line; Shaw stands up a LB in the playside B gap. Molk(+1) sees what's going on and adjusts, picking off the MLB as he shoots up into the gap and giving Smith(+1) a crease he finds and hits. Schilling(-1) could do nothing with the backside DT, who did a good job of not getting sealed and makes a diving tackle just as Smith looks to be off to the races.|
|RUN+: Molk, Smith||RUN-: Schilling|
|M37||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-4||Pass||Corner||Roundtree||35|
|BG has been putting their DBs in man on Michigan receivers and being very aggressive up front so Michigan goes after it, running a hitch/corner combo that opens up as Roundtree gets his man turned and ends up with yards of separation. Robinson reads it and pulls up on his roll, hitting Roundtree in the numbers. This was pretty easy but I usually DO any long pass that's right on the money and this is a 30-yarder to the edge of the field that could not be thrown better. (DO, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +2)|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||12|
|Similar to the last stretch but to the other side: playside BG DT does not get sealed and neither does the backside guy. I'm not minusing either G here because they do control their guys well enough; neither manages any penetration. Molk(-1) whiffs on the MLB, though, and he's through on Shaw. Shaw(+1) runs through a tackle, then spins through another one(+2) past four BG defenders, stumbling his way for a first down. Lewan(+1) engaged the DE, who then attempted to shuck him upfield; Lewan was off balance for a moment but maintained contact and finished the kickout, providing a large amount of space for Shaw to operate in. Smith isn't getting a plus but I appreciate his instinct to bash the DT flowing past Schilling; too often in these situations under Carr guys just ran by and problems resulted.|
|RUN+: Shaw(3), Lewan||RUN-: Molk|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power||Robinson||9|
|A down G scheme where Koger and Dorrestein block down on the playside DL and Omameh pulls around to the outside. Omameh(+1) has the agility to wall off the MLB, who charges outside to force Robinson back into safety help; Molk(+1) got out on the WLB, providing a ton of space that Robinson hits it up into. This was the GTFO play.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Robinson, Koger||RUN-:|
|O7||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Dive||Shaw||3|
|A power look with Lewan and Schilling doubling the backside DT; Molk and Omameh double the playside DT. Koger kicks out a DE and this leaves the WLB unblocked. Schilling(+1) peels off the double to get a shove on the MLB blazing into the picture, giving Shaw a spot to cut up behind Lewan, who's burying a dead donkey. A note: I try to keep +/- about in line with how good a play was; as the field compresses I get more generous since a two-yard run from the six is much better than a two yard run from the 50.|
|RUN+: Schilling, Lewan||RUN-:|
|O4||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||2|
|Omameh(+1) gets under one DT and kicks him out. Schilling gets a good shove on the BG DT but doesn't seal him away; there is still a big gap right up the middle. Molk again lets the MLB by him but I think that's partially on Schilling not getting his block exactly right. I won't minus Schilling because he did hit this guy back far enough that it's still two yards in a situation when you do that twice and you get a TD.|
|O2||2||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|BG actually does a good job of coming underneath the blocks on to the playside but in doing so they just open up the outside, which Robinson(+1) reads, using his agility to walk in.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M12||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA circle||Grady||9|
|This curl-flat combo was picture paged against ND. It looks like BGSU is running almost all man here, so the guy covering this is the safety. He is nowhere near the LOS when the play starts so it's a fairly simple read for Denard to see the open guy and hit him. Grady turns upfield for some YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M21||2||1||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||24|
|Hopkins in. Schilling(+1) locks out his DT; Omameh(+1) locks on to his guy and starts driving him downfield, which is important because the BGSU LB is attacking the LOS. Hopkins(+1) gets a good block on him but the quick reaction and Molk(-1) missing another LB means Robinson can't cut it behind Omameh's excellent block but has to hit up the small crease Hopkins has provided. Second level and more because of excellent blocks from Stonum(+1) and Grady(+1).|
|RUN+: Schilling, Omameh, Hopkins, Grady, Stonum, Robinson||RUN-: Molk|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Pass||Flanker screen||Hemingway||7|
|Hemingway is the outside WR; the other two guys attempt to get him blocks, with Roundtree doing okay since the BGSU CB attempts to go inside of him, opening up the outside and a good gain. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O48||2||3||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||Belly||Hopkins||2|
|Correct handoff(ZR+1) as BGS blitzes from the backside, getting two guys in unblocked. Hopkins is immediately tackled by the second guy, falling forward for a couple. (RPS -1)|
|RUN+: N/A||RUN-: N/A|
|O46||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||46|
|Schilling(-1) does not get a seal again and this time his guy shoots into the backfield, which is bad. Robinson(-1) misses a pretty obvious cut since Omameh(+1) had sealed the backside DT and there was a crease up the middle. He heads outside, running past both Schilling's guy and a charging linebacker, then stopping on the sideline for a safety to overrun him and slide to the ground. He leaps past a tackle attempt from a corner and is then into the open field, at which point it's academic. Points to Dorrestein, Stonum, and Webb for getting downfield blocks that assured no BG players had angles. Oh, yeah: Robinson +4. BWS picture-pages.|
|RUN+: Robinson(3), Webb, Dorrestein, Omameh, Stonum||RUN-: Schilling|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 9 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M9||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||42|
|BG slanting again; this time Molk(+1) realizes it and starts a combo block with Schilling on the backside DT, bashing him downfield; Omameh(+1) seals the playside guy. Schilling(+1) peels off the combo to take out the WLB and there's a big hole; Smith is one on one with the MLB and gets a hat on the guy; hole is big enough for Robinson to move through it. Robinson(+2) then smoothly jukes a safety down in the box and is off, getting great downfield blocks from Odoms(+1) and Grady(+1); the last guy has an angle and tackles him as Robinson crosses the 50. Robinson bangs his knee and is done for the day.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Omameh, Molk, Schilling, Odoms, Grady||RUN-:|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Gardner||1|
|Gardner in. Correct read(ZR+1) as the DE crashes down and there's no one scraping over, but instead of slamming it upfield into acres of space he cuts outside and gets tackled by the cornerbacks.|
|O48||2||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA fly||Stonum||35|
|Stonum(+2, though I don't track this) smokes the corner with a great double move, getting yards of separation. There is no deep safety. Gardner has okay protection and launches it deep but the ball is well underthrown, forcing Stonum to cut back and haul it in underneath. This is something Stonum could not do last year; he's made a leap. Some part of the throw ending up short was Dorrestein(-1) letting his guy in on Gardner, shortening his release. Still... (MA, 2, protection 2/3, Dorrestein -1)|
|O13||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Gardner||2|
|Incorrect read since the crashing DE is not the guy to read since Shaw is going to cut him; it's the scrape backer who keeps contain. Gardner is run down from behind by a late blitzer who came free and either would have nailed Smith in the backfield if the handoff was made or (more likely) run right by him and given Smith a good shot at a TD. (RPS -1)|
|O11||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||11|
|Just man on the edge and Gallon's guy is ten yards off the LOS so unless he tears at this immediately he's not in great shape; he does not. Hemingway(+1) blocks his corner into the sideline, leaving Gallon(+1) one on one with the safety, who he beats for a touchdown. (CA, 3, screen)|
|RUN+: Gallon, Hemingway||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 4 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||Belly||Hopkins||4|
|Slot LB is the contain and is tearing downhill so probably a correct handoff despite the DE crashing on Hopkins (ZR +1, RPS -1). Hopkins(+1) does well to carry the tackler four yards.|
|M30||2||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||PA circle||Roundtree||5|
|Same play as earlier; BG again in man and the safety too far away to effectively combat this, overrunning the play. Roundtree cuts past him but slips as he goes and stumbles short of the sticks when he had an opportunity to pick up a lot of YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M35||3||1||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||7|
|Omameh(+1) latches onto and controls one DT with help from Molk(+1), who then pops off and whacks the MLB. Schilling and Lewan double the other guy and handle him, though really they should. Hopkins slams it up in the crease, picking up the first down and a bit more.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Molk, Schilling, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Hopkins||19|
|The classic stretch we haven't really seen much of this year. Molk(+2) and Omameh(+2) execute a textbook scoop block, which seals the playside DT and dooms BG. This is tough to do and they make this look easy. After they seal the guy Molk crushes him backwards and Omameh peels off to batter the MLB; Webb(+1) kicks out another LB and Schilling(+1) successfully delays the backside LB with a cut; Lewan(+1) cut the backside DE. Essentially everyone on the OL except Dorrestein dominated his man on this play, and Dorrestein still did a good job of kicking out the DE. Hopkins has huge lanes to hit, which he does, running through an arm tackle and into the secondary. (Run+: Molk(2), Omameh(2), Schilling, Webb, Lewan.)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|BG slants under the blocking, which gives M trouble as Omameh and Dorrestein are split on the backside and Molk and Schilling have a tough time with the playside DT. The latter guys do get their guy under control but do not get out on LBs; Omameh(-1) does not help seal the other guy and he comes through Dorrestein. Dorrestein avoids a minus for pushing the guy beyond the play; allowing Smith(+1) to cut behind it and pick up an excellent edge block from Hopkins(+1) to pick up a few.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Smith||RUN-: Omameh|
|O35||2||6||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Hopkins||-2|
|Well, first Michigan gets a deserved chop block call as Schilling(-1) engages with the backside DT and then Lewan chops him. I blame Schilling since Lewan had this guy. On the frontside BG again slants under, this time getting past Molk(-2) and Omameh(-1), leaving Hopkins facing down two guys in the backfield. He gets hit and fumbles. Fumbles are not a part of the run tracking.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Omameh, Molk(2)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 1 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||9|
|Gardner should have pulled with a TE coming to block the backside DE and Lewan moving out on the WLB (ZR -1). Schilling doesn't get a seal but manages to control his guy enough that he can't make a play in the backfield. With an unblocked linebacker coming up into the playside B gap the cutback's where it's at. BG DE does a good job of flowing down the line and cutting it off but Koger(+1) gets enough of him to provide Smith(+1) a window behind him; Lewan has engaged the WLB and though he ends up playside Lewan just donkeys him to the ground, giving Smith another cutback lane he takes; a safety fills at this point.|
|RUN+: Smith, Koger, Lewan||RUN-: Gardner|
|M33||2||1||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||11|
|Lewan(+1) gets a face-planting cut block on the backside DT, leaving him crumbled on the ground. On the frontside Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) get a good scoop on the playside guy; Omameh pops out on a LB. BG brought a safety down late and has a guy in the gap, though, as Webb got caught up in some wash and can't get out front. Because of the Lewan cut, though, there's a huge cutback lane. Schilling(+1) gets a shove on the WLB and Smith has a lane, leaving a guy over the slot receiver to recover and tackle. Handoff was correct (ZR +1).|
|RUN+: Lewan, Molk, Schilling, Omameh, Smith||RUN-:|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Gardner||3|
|Should hand off with the DE maintaining responsibility; this is compounded by a safety filling fast, leaving three guys out on Gardner with no shot for him to do much (ZR-1).|
|M47||2||7||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel 4-3||Pass||PA Fly||Gardner||Inc|
|MICH obviously pissed about all this cover zero safety nonsense, so they go deep. Gardner sets up in the pocket and this time the pocket is excellent. He lays one out to Hemingway, who's got a step on the DB; DB falls; ball hits Hemingway in the hands at the ten... dropped. Breastonian. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M47||3||7||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Post||Gardner||53 (pen + 2)|
|Gardner knows he has Grady on a linebacker and goes right to him, feathering a ball on a post route that fits perfectly in a window between that LB and the safety, who takes a terrible angle and turns a big gainer into a touchdown. Molk gets it called back for whacking some guy. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M49||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Hemingway||16|
|Zone this time; double slants to one side of the field. Roundtree's interior slant drags a defender and opens up Hemingway's; Gardner nails it for the first down. Finally. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA circle||Gallon||Inc|
|BG prepared for this after seeing it a few times and blitzes into it, getting a guy in free(RPS -1). Gardner has an opportunity to make a play but his pass is inaccurate as he gets hit as he throws. Still think his delivery gets poor when he's under duress. I am going to mark this IN because the ball is out before he gets hit. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, team, RPS -1)|
|O35||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3-||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||3|
|BG again slanting under blocks. Lewan(+1) does an excellent job to react to it, latch onto the guy, and shove him out of the RB's path, giving Shaw a lane with Koger(+1) kicking out a blitzing LB. Schilling blocks a linebacker on the second level but Dorrestein(-1) could not do anything with the WLB, who flows down the line and tackles. RPS -1.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Koger||RUN-: Dorrestein|
|O32||3||7||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Shaw||2|
|Great read by one of the BG DTs, who takes off after Omameh as soon as he feels him release. A safety is screaming down past blockers as well but while this play looks grim Shaw might have a cutback lane for big yardage if the DT(!) isn't quick enough to get out there and tackle him from behind. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O30||4||5||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Pass||Drag||Hemingway||Inc|
|Zone behind a four-man rush; Gardner cannot find anything and tries to hit Hemingway on a drag. He is between two guys, and one of them almost intercepts. Very poor decision since he was short of the sticks anyway. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 21-7, 4 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M31||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Pass||Flanker screen||Odoms||2|
|Tate in. TRobinson(-1) gets chucked by the guy he's blocking and Roundtree(-1) whiffs on a cut, leaving Odoms dealing with two guys and no blocks. He gets what he can. (CA, 3, screen)|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Roundtree, TRob|
|M33||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||0|
|TRobinson(+1) gets a good cut this time, but instead of heading straight upfield and either juking the linebacker coming out on him or plowing into him and getting somewhere between 4 and 8 yards Roundtree(-1) spins around and falls to the ground in an attempt to get outside. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M33||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep hitch||Odoms||13|
|Just a very long pitch and catch; worry that he does not have the arm strength to get this out there against top competition, because as it is this BG CB isn't exactly miles away here. Nevertheless today it's good enough and Odoms evades the CB for a few YAC, though it could have been more if he had kept his feet. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Forcier||5|
|Eh? probably the right read since the DE was sliding down the line to prevent the belly and the LBs both came in(ZR+1). Tate ends up on the edge with the slot LB and I still want him to just run upfield until he gets tackled but he tries to juke the guy to the outside and gets tripped up.|
|O49||2||5||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||10|
|Backside DT gets completely donkeyed by Lewan(+1) and Schilling(+1), ending up somewhere around the first down marker by the time Shaw flies by. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) had done basically the same thing to the other DT, with Lewan and Molk getting easy popouts on the BG LBs. One of them gets a diving tackle attempt that Shaw spins out of but he's lost his momentum and goes down. If this was a read it was the right one with a DE in an inconvenient place and a scraper over the top(ZR+1).|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schilling, Molk, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Bubble||Roundtree||10 (pen -6 lol)|
|Forcier fakes the inside zone and immediately goes to the bubble; Odoms pounds a guy in the midsection for a good block and somehow gets called for a chop block because these guys are pure Sun Belt. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O45||1||16||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Throwback screen||Stonum||-3|
|The counter to the flare screen; Robinson(-2) gets confused and doesn't block the slot LB at all, which blows up the play. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O48||2||19||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Pass||Improv fly||Roundtree||Inc (pen +15)|
|Ton of time as M stones four rushers; no one open for Forcier so he starts rolling in the pocket. His receivers break deep and he picks out Roundtree but throws the pass well short. Roundtree is run over, drawing a flag. I don't really know what to tag this. It was good play to chuck it because the DB was definitely in trouble but the ball was not great. I'm going with... (MA, 0, protection 3/3)|
|O33||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Pass||PA Bubble||Roundtree||23|
|All Roundtree(+3) as he jukes two different guys and turns this into a big play; Stokes(+1) did get a good block on the corner and finished it off by shoving the guy past Tree as he cut back for his final six or so yards.|
|RUN+: Roundtree(3), Stokes||RUN-:|
|O10||1||G||Shotgun 2H||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||8|
|Wolverine heavy, sort of. It works, with Omameh(+1) controlling and shoving his man to seal him just as Shaw approaches the line; Dorrestein(+1) kicks out the DE and Koger(+1) gets an excellent lead block on a filling LB; Molk(+1) moves to the second level and plants the MLB. Shaw bursts through and gets cut to the ground by a desperate safety.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Koger, Shaw, Dorrestein||RUN-:|
|O2||2||G||Shotgun 2H||1||2||2||Base 4-4-||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||2|
|Pretty much the same thing, with BG slanting heavily to the inside; Dorrestein(+1) caves his guy in and Shaw(+1) reads that, slipping outside and running over a linebacker who tried to fill. Webb(+1) got a good edge block.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-14, EOH.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||2|
|No cutback with Schilling(-1) unable to do anything with the backside DT; he is moving into the backfield. This is relevant because BG has slanted heavily and the frontside guy is shoving Omameh(-1) well into the backfield, forcing Shaw outside the tackle. Smith(+1) plugged the LB to that side, actually pancaking him, which does give Shaw a little crease; the delay allows a BG safety to thwack him just past the LOS.|
|RUN+: Schilling, Omameh||RUN-: Smith|
|O49||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA cross||Roundtree||21|
|BG again getting good pressure on this PA rollout protection scheme by having a linebacker zip up into the hole between the line and a pulling Schilling, so Forcier doesn't have much time. The BG linebackers jump the circle route M's thrown a few times today, opening up Roundtree behind them. Forcier reads it and finds Roundtree. Ball is a little high but just in front of the safety and Roundtree brings it in as he's hit. The guy in the face increases the DOD. (DO, 2, protection 1/2, team -1)|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||8|
|Schilling(+1) owns one DT on a single block, shoving him back three yards. Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) do the same to the other, with Molk popping out on a middle linebacker. All that beef moving downhill means Shaw is met four yards downfield and the pile lumbers another four. Lewan flashed his impressive agility here, too, though for no real purpose.|
|RUN+: Schilling(2), Molk(2), Omameh||RUN-:|
|O20||2||2||Shotgun 2H||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone counter||Shaw||2|
|At least I think this is designed to cutback with both TEs headed to the backside of the play, the line blocking down, and Shaw ready to cut back real fast. Lewan(+1) helps cave in the playside DT and then pops out on the LB. Webb(+1) takes out the slot LB and Shaw looks like he's about to be in the clear with Koger ahead of him and just one BG safety left; he heads outside, Koger(-1) watches the safety run by, and that guy makes a desperate arm tackle to prevent six.|
|RUN+: Webb, Lewan||RUN-: Koger|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 2H||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||9|
|Slanting under again and moving an eighth guy in the box. Molk(+1) moves past the playside DT and then realizes what's happening. He peels off and seals that guy. Lewan and Schilling are dealing with the playside DE who is threatening to slant between them as Koger(+1) kicks out a blitzer. Webb(+1) is leading Shaw and kicks out the playside LB, giving him a lane between that block and the Lewan/Schilling double. Shaw(+1) did a good job of finding and hitting a small crease.|
|RUN+: Shaw, Koger, Webb, Molk||RUN-:|
|O9||2||1||Shotgun 2H||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||0|
|Confusion between Lewan(-1) and Webb(-1) as Lewan starts moving to the second level and then gets held up by the DE; DE is now in good position to eliminate a cutback. Webb runs by this for a second level block; this is not so good. Forcier could have kept but I don't know if he actually has a read here; since it would have been successful and he didn't keep it I have to ZR -1 him. Smith(-1) should have just run to the frontside of the play, where Omameh(+1) had blown out the playside DT badly and there was a gap for the first down and maybe more.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Koger||RUN-: Webb, Lewan, Smith|
|O9||3||1||Shotgun 2H||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||3|
|These are not all the same play as the H-backs keep going in different directions, FWIW. Here Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) pancake a BG DT; Schilling(-1) falls and loses his guy, drawing Webb's block and allowing a BG guy to come in to tackle after a short gain, but the obliteration of the DT was sufficient for the first.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Molk||RUN-: Schilling|
|O6||1||G||Shotgun 2H||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||4|
|Good handoff (ZR+1) with lots of guys unblocked on the backside. BG is running down the line fast, preventing anyone from getting a seal, so the OL just rideS guys down the line. Omameh(+1) gets the relevant block, controlling his guy and keeping him at the LOS, driving him far enough along that there's a cutback hole between him and the unblocked backside DE; Dorrestein and Molk(+1 each) get second level blocks. Smith hits it up and is lassoed down by the DE.|
|RUN+: Smith, Dorrestein, Molk, Omameh||RUN-:|
|O2||2||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Iso||Shaw||0|
|No push from the line but there is a gap for McColgan to hit, which he does(+1), blowing his guy into the endzone. If Shaw(-1) had run up his FB's back it's a touchdown but he hesitates and then has nowhere to go.|
|RUN+: McColgan||RUN-: Shaw|
|O2||3||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Pass||PA boot FB flat||McColgan||2|
|McColgan wide open as BG bites (RPS +1) and he flips it in for the easy TD. (CA, 3, protection NA)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 37-14, 9 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Fly||Stonum||Inc (pen +15)|
|Forcier fumbles the snap on what was going to be a bomb and just chucks it after he recovers. TA? IN? MA? I don't know. I'm going to file it TA since I think he's just getting rid of it to live another down. BG's corner has great position on the play and gets an awful flag for pass interference. This is raw, throbbing injustice in a can. A perfect example of the kind of play a cornerback in position should be allowed to make. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout quick out||Gallon||14|
|No PA, just a plain old rollout that sees Shaw cut the playside DE, giving Forcier plenty of time to find Gallon yards in front of a slot LB that appears to be in man coverage. Easy pitch, catch, and YAC. (RPS +1, CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O8||1||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||8|
|Molk(+2) gets a great reach block on the playside DT, creasing the line; Omameh(+1) gets a second level block, and Lewan(+1) cuts two(!) guys on the backside. Schilling(-1) whiffed his second-level block but Smith(+1) runs through the tackle into the endzone. Dorrestein(+1) pancaked his guy too.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Lewan, Smith, Dorrestein||RUN-: Schilling|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 44-14, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M38||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||2|
|I am officially in half-ass mode, FWIW. Good play by a deep corner to charge this down. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M40||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Cox||3|
|Corner blitz provides contain on the QB so BG has a DE and a LB on the backside; they slant hard to the playside and don't get sealed. Cox cuts up in a big hole between Omameh and Dorrestein and sort of avoids two tackles before being whomped by a safety. RPS -1. Could have minused Dorrestein if I was feeling mean.|
|M43||3||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-4||Pass||PA Deep comeback||Stonum||10|
|PA rollout sees a BG blitz get in Forcier's face; he pulls up and nails a comeback route to Stonum. It's weird to remember he can do these things. (CA+, 3, protection 1/2, team -1)|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||16|
|This one is wide open by alignment and M takes it; Roundtree gets a block from Hemingway(+1) and it's easy. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||6|
|Little room as BG slants under again and Molk(-1) gets driven into the backfield some. Smith(+1) cuts back and gets outside thanks to a crushing block from Webb(+1) on the edge and jukes a tackler for decent yardage.|
|RUN+: Smith, Webb||RUN-: Molk|
|O25||2||4||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Power off tackle||Forcier||16|
|This is a broken play since Shaw just takes off to block someone on the backside as Forcier holds the ball out for a mesh that never comes. Okay, so Forcier just runs the play, which features Dorrestein(+1) and Webb(+1) blocking down as Omameh and Molk pull. Smith(+1) kicks out a linebacker; Omameh(+1) demolishes his guy, and Forcier hits the gap, makes a safety miss, and would be gone if he was Denard but is not Denard and gets a shoestring tackle for his troubles.|
|RUN+: Forcier(2), Omameh, Smith, Dorrestein, Webb||RUN-: Shaw|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Down G||Smith||6|
|Other side of the line with Webb(+1) sealing the playside DE and Schilling pulling around. Schilling(+1) and Cox(+1) both kick out second level guys and Smith is one on one with a safety in some space; he lowers his head and is tackled. Meh.|
|RUN+: Webb, Lewan, Cox, Schilling||RUN-: Smith|
|O3||2||G||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Cox||2|
|Omameh(-1) whiffs on his guy, who ends up falling in the backfield in the path of the runner, forcing Cox outside where he runs through one arm tackle and then meets a safety while still off balance, getting stood up. This was possible thanks to Huyge, now playing RT, kicking his guy out far enough for Cox to have a lane.|
|RUN+: Huyge||RUN-: Omameh|
|O1||3||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||1|
|Omameh, Huyge, and Webb all blow their guys out and Omameh actually has a moment in this play where he's blocking two separate BG players by pushing them in the chest simultaneously. McColgan doesn't even have anyone to block as Smith strolls in.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge, Webb||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 51-21, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M6||1||10||Ace twins||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Cox||4|
|Barnum in. Okay, I will do some vague charting here but I'm not going to bother with RPS since M is just running the game out. Here blitzing linebackers hit the gaps too fast for the linemen to get out on them, forcing a cutback from Cox(+1). He runs through a tackle and drags another guy forward four yards; would have gotten a couple more if the refs hadn't whistled it down for lack of forward progress that seemed to be progressing still.|
|M10||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Cox||2|
|Also discarding ZR since I don't want QBs carrying at this point, but this should have been a keep if it wasn't a 30 point game in the fourth. Omameh(-1) gets stalemated and then his guy fights inside; Dorrestein is only doing OK on the edge so Cox does not have gap to the outside and has to cut back into a crashing DE. He keeps his feet impressively on a tackle attempt but the delay allows BG to converge and he only gets an extra yard out of it.|
|M12||3||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||7|
|Five guys come and Michigan blocks them all; Forcier actually has Koger wide open for the first but sees a lane open up in front of him and knows he can get the first with his legs; he does so. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Forcier||2|
|Forcier keeps; no idea what or who he's reading here since the blocking is unfamiliar. He fakes the bubble as he attempts to get to the edge but a linebacker runs him down; Molk was blocking for the handoff and the LB read keep too fast. Denard gets the corner here but you knew that.|
|M21||2||8||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Cox||10|
|Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) fire off to double one DT, who gives a ton of ground; Molk pops off on the MLB. The other DT is crushed by Barnum(+1) with help from Lewan; a crashing DE is taken out by Koger(+1). Cox just has to run up in the gaping hole and does.|
|RUN+: Barnum, Omameh, Molk, Koger||RUN-:|
|M31||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Gardner||3|
|Gardner returns, and should definitely keep this since BG is cheating on the RB but still gets run down for two yards by taking an angle not far enough outside. I think he's plenty fast but he's got a lot of work to do as a runner.|
|M34||2||7||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||60|
|Features a pull from Omameh as Huyge(+1) blocks down on the playside DT and provides a big hole. Koger(+1) kicks out a DE; a blitzing MLB has taken himself out of the play and Omameh(+1) clubs the last LB out of the way, opening up green pastures for Toussaint.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Omameh, Koger, Toussaint||RUN-:|
|M6||1||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Zone stretch||Toussaint||6|
|Backside DT is cut to the ground by Lewan(+1) and the frontside guy kind of lunges in at Molk, forcing Toussaint around him but falling uselessly; Omameh(+2) controls and then destroys the playside DE, who is blocked into the endzone. Toussaint with an easy TD. Barnum(+1) also did well to get a block on the second level.|
|RUN+: Omameh(2), Lewan, Barnum||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 58-21, 7 min 4th Q. Backup OL comes in and charting ceases, as we're not going to learn anything about this year's team from this game. You can watch Cox's long run, on which Quinton Washington obliterates some dude, though. And here's Gardner's touchdown.|
*Elaborate yawning mechanism.*
Yes, yes, steampunk fictional questioner who does not appreciate where he has come from.
Well, is there really even a point?
No, not on this side of the ball. I would have cut this off sooner but for BG's annoying persistence on offense and our first extended look at Devin Gardner. The offensive line was crushing to the point where it was tough to tell whether or not I should be handing out pluses to the tackles on plays where the interior linemen were ridin' that donkey five, six, seven yards downfield. Here's Fitzgerald Toussaint's touchdown. Watch Omameh:
This was most of the day. So take everything below with a grain of salt. Michigan won't face a defense this bad after this weekend again.
We demand low-information charts anyway.
Low information charts, then.
Hennechart comes with a reminder that numbers in parentheses are screens! I've also added the zone read metric to these charts instead of spreading it out. It's in the format correct decisions / opportunities.
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||-||44%|
Nobody had enough downfield throws to warrant a downfield success rate, but everyone impressed. Denard hit a 30-yard corner route, Devin had two long should-have-been touchdowns, the second a beautiful touch seam, and Forcier rolled out and pulled up to hit Roundtree over the middle.
My only complaint/worry here was the short toss to Gallon on which Gardner was pressured. He defaulted to that pushing motion, it looked, and the resulting pass was well off target. Oh, and there was the failed fourth down attempt. In any case, it certainly looks like Michigan is more loaded at quarterback than they've ever been.
Who works for number two?
Uh… if that's a question about the second-string quarterback, I think it should be Tate, but not because of any of the passing numbers above. It's the zone read stuff, where Gardner's barely above 50%, and the numbers from the—
Run chart, but whatever. BEHOLD THE DONKENING
|Huyge||2||-||2||Couple of good plays at RT late.|
|Lewan||11||1||10||Was very effective on cuts, too.|
|Schilling||10||5||5||Had some trouble with BG slants.|
|Molk||16||5||11||Wish he'd be more consistent on MLBs.|
|Omameh||20||6||14||Most of Michigan's long runs came over his side of the line.|
|Barnum||2||-||2||I'll take it from the back of the rotation starter.|
|Dorrestein||6||1||5||I'll take it from the back of the rotation starter.|
|Webb||9||1||8||Fetch me the club…|
|Koger||7||1||6||…and smite the heathen seals.|
|TOTAL||83||20||63||Even more obliteration.|
|Robinson||8||-||8||Not bad for four rushes.|
|Gardner||-||5||-5||Yeah… about that.|
|Forcier||2||1||1||Was limping, too.|
|Shaw||10||2||8||Broke some tackles, seemed to hit all the right holes.|
|Smith||10||2||8||Smart blocking, good cuts, an occasional broken tackle.|
|Cox||2||-||2||Physically impressive. Good balance again.|
|Toussaint||-||-||-||Runs were super easy.|
|Hopkins||3||-||3||Fumble not included.|
|Jones||-||-||-||Stopped charting by the time he got in.|
|TOTAL||36||10||26||Shaw again most impressive.|
So this was more of the same, with Lewan being impressive for a tackle just because he is noticeable on so many run plays. Tackles mostly just lock out DEs who are happy to cut off the outside; Lewan is making an impact comparable to an above-average guard. Also, the tight ends were just clubbing guys all day.
At tailback, Smith and Shaw came out about even in the numbers above and the official ones (both had 12 carries; Smith had three more yards) but if I had to pick it would be Shaw and it wouldn't be that close. The three backups who got charted all flashed some ability and didn't screw up except for the Hopkins fumble. Cox really is physically impressive, capable of dragging tacklers and again flashing great balance. I'm hoping we get to see more of him as the season goes on.
So about number two?
Right, so, Gardner has a –5 up there, the only minus of the day aside from Terrance Robinson. This came about because he pulled the ball on three separate instances when he should have handed off and got roped down for little gain; on a couple other runs he eschewed certain yards for more of that high school stuff where you just cut it outside all day on the assumption you are faster than everyone else. Tate has more experience at the college level and when he cut it way outside he had a block and got tracked down by a linebacker from behind; he also seems to be better at ascertaining when to hand it off.
That plus Tate's excellent day throwing makes me lean towards Forcier in the unfortunate event of a serious injury to Robinson.
I still have a couple more charts, by the way. Receivers:
A fairly boring day here. Just one drop, but it was a big one: Hemingway's oopsie on Devin Gardner's first shoulda-been touchdown.
And this isn't a chart but PROTECTION METRIC: 26/31, Dorrestein –1, Team –4.
The "team" minuses were for blitzes into Michigan's favored rollout package that got Forcier and Gardner in trouble a couple times. Michigan might have to go way from that now that Bowling Green has demonstrated how to pressure it consistently. M got away with it against a team with little talent, but add some speed to that linebacker or some competence to the secondary and bad things might happen.
Did we see anything new?
Obviously the Wolverine Heavy look was new, but Michigan also started responding to BG's tendency to slant like there's no tomorrow by breaking out the pulling OL. Watch Omameh:
That's a completely standard run play I've seen Michigan defend dozens of times over the past few years. I've even got an automatic link for it: Down G. See? It linked.
On Down G you've got a tackle and sometimes a tight end blocking down on the line as Michigan pulls one OL and finds a lead blocker from somewhere else, whether it's a tailback or a H-back or whatever. This is a response to BG's uber-slanting. If the DL slant in the direction of the play, they meet the downblockers head on and get blown up as they do above. Then there's lots of space off tackle and usually the linebackers will be hanging out on the backside of the play where the cutbacks are on a zone. On this play one blitzes right up the middle, another heads to the backside, and there's just one guy in a big hole starting down the mobile death that is Patrick Omameh. And then you get a lot of yards.
Here's another example, on which Shaw busts his assignment but BG is so confused that it doesn't matter and Molk doesn't even have anyone to block:
Michigan has not shown this much in the RR era (and literally never ran it during the DerpBord stretch-and-stretch-only era). I wonder why they chose to do so in a game they'd salted away already. It's not like this is rocket science—it's a totally standard play—but I'd rather break it out against Michigan State than BG.
What does a can of injustice look like?
Poor BG cornerback. This is my least favorite iteration of pass interference, where a guy is running in front of or even with a receiver who tries to run through the DB. The DB has great coverage and is penalized for it. They should clarify the rule to express that a player who is even or deeper with a wide receiver can't be penalized for not changing his momentum. If you're beaten and the ball's underthrown and you run a guy over, fine, flag. But that stuff above is painful even when you're on the right end of a wrong call.
Again, you could almost pick anyone. Special commendation to the offensive line and tight ends.
Hopkins fumbled, Molk got that personal foul, and Devin Gardner had some iffy running plays, but that's it when you score touchdowns on 9 of 11 drives.
What does it mean for Indiana and beyond?
Indiana is going to get nuked. They are currently sporting the 92nd-best rushing defense in the land thanks to the dynamic ground attacks of Towson, Western Kentucky, and Akron. None of those teams have a win over a I-A opponent, and they're actually 1-3 against I-AA thanks to Towson sucking and Gardner Webb beating Akron in OT. Akron exceeded their season average in yards by over 100 and their opponents other than the I-AA team were Syracuse and Kentucky. They are donkeys.
As for the rest of the season, Taylor Lewan seems to have locked down the left tackle job and pushed that position from average or slightly above to good, potentially verging on great. His emergence gives Michigan spare bodies on the OL and makes the offense close to bulletproof without an Angry Michigan BLANK-Hating God injury monsoon with the lone exception of quarterback, where your prayer vigil should be unceasing.
Even there, both Michigan quarterbacks showed well. Michigan gave up a couple scores late in the first half and there was a rumble of worry in the stadium when it was 21-14, but Rodriguez just threw Forcier out there and watched him march down the field for a touchdown, another touchdown, some more touchdowns, additional touchdowns, etc.
I'd ratchet up expectations another half-notch here. Lewan gives the offense more depth, Denard's added a few more items to his "not a fluke" pile, and the backup quarterbacks look solid. Also they just put up 721 yards, and I don't care who it's against if it's a I-A team: 721 yards means your offense is scary.