This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
Oh herro prease. I'm back for spring practice. There will be two or three pressers every week leading up to the spring game, and I will be transcribing all of them. Huzzah!
News bullets and other important things:
- Ricky Barnum is practicing at center.
- Rocko Khoury, Terrence Robinson, Mike Cox, and George Morales are all graduating this spring and will not return for the 2012 season
- Justice Hayes is staying at running back but will be considered for kickoff return duties.
- The spring game will be a scrimmage due to lack of bodies on offensive and defensive line.
On wearing pants today: “I put them on just for you guys.”
“First, this is off-topic a little bit, but we had severe weather yesterday and the damage and all that was out there in Dexter, and I don’t know too many other places -- I think that was the worst hit, but our thoughts and prayers are with those folks who went through that. We had our guys here for training table and when the campus alert went out they were all in the locker room and it was one of those situations. Our thoughts and prayers really go out to those people who were affected by it.
“We also yesterday had our pro day, which is a part of your program that the guys who have given so much, the opportunity, the dream they may have about continuing after they get a great degree from Michigan and continuing to play the game of football. I thought they represented Michigan well, and we’re proud of them for that.
“As far as this team, Team 133, I think we have a lot of questions. I know I do from the perspective of who’s going to emerge as the leaders, who’s going to have the toughness to lead and the sacrifice to lead. I think we’ve had a good winter. You can see some guys developing, you can see some guys really working hard, but I think you put the pads on, spring football, those things, you learn a little bit more about your football team. Starting tomorrow morning we get to do that. It’s going to be fun because you get to wear shorts again, get out on the field … it’s going to be good.
"When you look at where we’re at, there’s some obvious holes that we need to fill from the standpoint of our defensive line with the three seniors graduating at the position who played a lot of snaps for us a year ago. When you look at our offensive line there’s some good competition, but at the same time we’ve got to see improvement from young guys like Chris Bryant. He’s done a good job with the weight room and that part of it, but how he continues and matures. And Ricky Barnum, we’re going to play him at center to start with and see where he ends up there. Elliott Mealer getting an opportunity at the guard position, and Schofield will go out to right tackle, and obviously Taylor will obviously be the left tackle. Really for us we were very fortunate from an injury (standpoint) on both sides nad both fronts when you look at the guys up front defensively who stayed relatively healthy until the bowl practices and the six guys who were really responsible for the front. Those were the obvious places. Obviously Junior, Odoms, and Kelvin Grady. There’s a rotation there, and Junior obviously having most [contribution] statistically and all those things. There’s heavy competition and there will be competition.
"That’s probably the longest I’ve ever spoke.”
On your defensive line, how big of a spring is this for Will Campbell?
“I think it’s big, but I think he’s made great progress [in] what he’s done from a physical standpoint how he looks and all those things. I think his leadership and that part of it, with Quinton Washington, Richard Ash, when you start looking at that nose position, the ability for Will to slide from the 3-technique to the nose position is important.”
What’s the biggest issue with moving a guy like Ricky from guard to center?
“I think number one, snapping the football is always a little different. Now we did quite a bit with Rick when he got back healthy last year, playing both. I think Darrell and Al both had that mindset, if we did get beat up somewhere else where we had to rotate those guys -- at the end of the day the best five guys have to play, however that rotation works out. But I think snapping the ball, the shot gun snaps, you’d like to see centers be able to snap and step at the same time.”
Is the reason you’re moving Ricky to center because you’re not confident in guys like Rocko Khoury or Jack Miller?
“Well …” (ominous pause) “… I think there’s some unknowns there. I think that’s the best way to put it.”
How has Craig Roh embraced the move to strongside and Jibreel Black with the move inside?
“I think they’ve really embraced it. I know when we had the conversation and Greg met with Craig after we discussed it staff-wise. It was like, okay. I get to eat a little more. If someone said that to me I’d be happy. He really has embraced it. They’ve done some senior drill work and all that where all those guys -- him and Jibreel both are really excited about it.”
Do you expect there to be greater competition on the offensive and defensive lines since a lot of positions are up for grabs?
“I think so. I think these guys have learned to compete more and more as far as what our perception of competition is and our expectation of competition. I think they understand what’s at stake and I think they also understand that September 1st is going to be here before we know it.”
Borges said on the radio that he wished he would have spent more time using the spread early on in the season before transitioning to the pro-style. Is there an opportunity to spend more time in the spread now?
“I think the more we get comfortable in this scheme, you may see a little more, but for us, I think Al when he’s talking about that, [he meant] maybe we could have had a little more success, but we were pretty good early. I think you could because of some things that we’ve looked at.”
How have the three early enrollees progressed through the winter?
“I think they’ve had a really great winter. The first thing you always look at is how they adjust from being away from home, mom not cooking, mom not doing your laundry. I think classes, and that responsibility -- I think Joe and Kaleb and Jarrod have all really done a good job. Talking to coach Wellman in the weight room and how their work ethic is, I think all three of them have done a tremendous job.
Have any of the three stood out in any way?
“I think they all have maybe not exceeded but have adjusted well.”
“Yeah, we’ve got some guys … George Morales is going to graduate. Rocko’s going to graduate. Terrence Robinson will graduate, and Mike Cox is graduating. I think that’s it.”
Is that this spring?
“Yeah. A couple of them have like six hours in the summer, because this is the winter quarter.”
So they will not be back in 2012?
“Hmm mm. (No.)”
Ws that their decision?
“I think it’s their decision.”
Could they take advantage of the post graduation transfer rule?
“Mm hmm. (Yes.)”
What do you expect out of Roy this season? Who do you have hope for at the receiver position to step up?
“I think the first guy you look at is always Roy. I think that Jeremy Gallon is a guy who has shown tremendous ability. You look at his year and he was pretty successful. You look at Jeremy Jackson and his development and his growth. Dileo is a really valuable guy to our team. Jerald Robinson is a guy -- he was down most of the year with us. He can be pretty productive. Joe Reynolds is a guy who’s worked awfully hard.”
What’s different going into the second spring here vs. a year ago?
“For us, I don’t know if you look at it a whole lot differently. I mean you’re always trying to meet expectations of competitiveness, toughness, leadership, development, discipline, and all those things. At the same time it’s probably a little -- I never want to say the word easier -- but they do know what certain terms mean now from an offensive schematic or defensive schematic in how we coach or how we call things.”
What’s the next step in leadership that you want to see Denard take?
“He’s done a really good job of leading this winter. He’s done a good job when you look at -- he’s always been an unselfish player, so that’s always something that his teammates have seen. But he’s always taken it and been a little more … you hear him a little more I guess. Holding guys accountable a little more.”
From a passing standpoint, how big is going back to the fundamentals and footwork?
“There’s no question. That’s an everyday thing, and that’s an everyday thing for every position. The fundamentals and techniques. Our guys do a lot of seven-on-seven in the offseason. Continually they work drills at every position, so that’s huge.”
Last year the defensive line set the tone for the defense. Do you set that kind of expectations for this group?
“No question about it. Your expectations don’t go down. They better increase because the bar is always going to be set high here at Michigan and should be. Those expectations are for the position, not the person who plays the position.”
How does their lack of experience change the way you approach that this season?
“It doesn’t. Maybe you are a little more patient when they don’t do it exactly like we want them to, so that might be part of it, but it really doesn’t.”
Do you anticipate growing pains with that group? What’s the kind of thing that will drive you crazy during spring practice?
“A guy not playing with toughness and a guy not running to the football. That will drive me crazy.”
How good do you feel about your back seven? All of them are returning.
“I think as a whole, as a unit, I feel good -- I feel good about the kids themselves. As a unit that’s going to play at the level we need to play, I don’t feel very good because we didn’t play as well as we needed to a year ago. I’m not a huge statistic guy, but you go in and you look at opportunities that we missed either in passes broken up or interceptions on that end or supporting the end, getting off a block and doing that, and you’re looking at your linebackers a little bit -- your inside guys, are they missing tackles or making tackles? I’ve always been from the school that we’re going to be really critical, so I like the guys who we have. I like the guys who are coming in. I think we’ll have great competition by the time September 1st gets here. That part of it’s good, and I like that. I like having guys how have had some experience. Now where can they take the next step with the fundamentals and schematically of what we’re trying to do so that we don’t get beaten by Michigan State or we don’t get beaten by Iowa or we don’t give up this many points against somebody.”
With the attrition, you seem to be pretty low in terms of numbers.
“Well we’ve been low in numbers for a while, especially at the offensive line position from a scholarship standpoint. I think last year we had eight guys. Usuaully that number is 14 to 16. From a defensive line standpoint, if you’re going to have a four-man front, you better have 14 to 16 scholarship guys. We weren’t even close.”
Are you happy about how 2013 recruiting is going?
“Well number one, this is not an exact science and you don’t really know what you get until they get here because this is a hard game to play and hard to be championship teams and play. I think our coaches have worked extremely hard. I think they do a tremendous job evaluating and we’ll see. That’s why there’s a signing date. First Wednesday in February. But we’ll see. We have a long way to go.”
Punting struggles with Will Hagerup?
“The punting situation is one that will be competitive. I think both guys are very capable. I think the consistency we need to have by whoever that guy is is going to be an important part.”
How do you see the running back situation shaping up since Fitz locked down the starting position last season?
“Well he’s going to compete. He’s going to compete there. I think I’ve said this since day one. There’s nothing sacred. There’s no position that’s given an entitlement. He ended the year doing a nice job for us. You have to love the kid -- I do -- because of his competitiveness. I think he grew up a lot during the course of the year with whatthe expectiations are for a Michigan back. But Thomas Rawls and Vince Smith and Hayes, you know, there’s guys there. He can’t have a bad day.”
You mentioned Justice Hayes. Are you keeping him at running back or moving him to another position?
“No, he’s a back. We’ll see how he transpires. The good thing about him, he does have that talent where he can go out and catch the ball and he’s got great explosion. Kickoff returns -- he’d be a guy we want to look at because he’s got a gear to him that’s a little different.”
Spring game format?
“It’ll probably be a lot like last year. We’d love to have a true spring game, there’s no doubt about it. I said some numbers earlier about your most physical two positions on your team, and our numbers aren’t where they need to be.”
Are you taking walk-ons this spring?
“We’ll wait more until the fall.”
no more really good runs at the end of MAC blowouts
Brady Hoke's kicking off spring practice with a press conference and has announced the following players are departing:
- RB Mike Cox: we'll always have you dancing on the internet.
- C Rocko Khoury: we'll always have that Iowa game you played decently well in last year.
WR Terrence Robinson: we'll always have Dream Shake and your sexy cocked eyebrow.
I look forward to your Old Spice commercial.
- LS George Morales: we'll always have mortified punter gif even if you had no involvement with it.
Cox never played and was never going to play even if Michigan was down to Paki O'Meara as an alternative; Khoury was the backup center you may remember not snapping it to Denard on the first drive against Virginia Tech; teeny tiny Robinson found a role as a punt gunner last but will will not reprise it. Morales is only notable as the walking embodiment of Late Carr Era recruiting failures; he was never actually on scholarship after the first year, IIRC.
Zero of these guys had eligibility for 2013, so this frees up no scholarships for that class. Hoke said all are graduating, so no need to fret about APR issues. As far as team issues: I'd rather have Khoury and Robinson around to contribute, even if slightly. Chopping down the center race from three guys to two is worrying, and we don't even get to expand our 2013 class projections. Boo to that.
DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE.
Molk, Huyge, Koger
- C David Molk. Rimington winner, four year starter, epic team glue guy, man whose body does not narrow in its transition from shoulders to neck.
- RT Mark Huyge. Not great but consistently unkillable long-term starter who graded out well as a senior and must be replaced by exactly one person.
- TE Kevin Koger. Did not see production increase significantly from RR years; capable of circus catches and routine drops; decent but not spectacular blocker; zero depth behind him.
[serious worry stops here]
- WR Junior Hemingway. Fairly ponderous leaper with inexplicable YAC knack; decent hands; should be replaceable if Darryl Stonum makes it back. Given the lack of swift action to boot after Stonum got pulled over, I assume that is the case. In the event Stonum is dismissed Hemingway moves up to #2.
- WR Martavious Odoms. The very first slot ninja; missed big chunks of the season due to injury and lack of trust from the coaching staff but came on late; mountain goat with arms; Jeremy Gallon is basically Odoms except quicker.
- TE Steve Watson. Used mostly as a blocker. Was okay at it.
[slight worry stops here]
- RB Michael Shaw. BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE
- WR Kelvin Grady. Infrequently targeted slot receiver will be ably replaced by an expanded role for Drew Dileo.
- FB John McColgan. Lost his job to Hopkins mid-year.
- WR Terrance Robinson (maybe). Has a fifth year available but will have to earn it as a gunner on punts.
- RB Michael Cox (in all probability). Fifth year available, but highly unlikely to get it since he can't remember which endzone to run at.
Robinson, Lewan, Fitzgerald
- QB Denard Robinson. Oh my gawd.
- LT Taylor Lewan. Should be the first of two first-team All Big Ten years.
- RB Fitzgerald Toussaint. Will put himself in the conversation for best back in the league.
- RT (presumably) Michael Schofield. Established himself a quality Big Ten OL despite playing out of position at guard. Will likely shift over to tackle, his natural position, because there ain't no one else to play it.
- WR Roy Roundtree. Converted to outside WR and saw production collapse as Worst Waldo plays on which he acquired free 50 yard touchdowns evaporated; still managed some deep balls; should be reliable B+ option as a senior.
- WR Jeremy Gallon. Diminutive guy with extensive quicks; throwback screen merchant; seemingly good hands; cloaking device available.
- OG Patrick Omameh. Struggled early and still too light for Michigan's long term desires; improved his ability to pull by the end of the year.
- OG(?) Ricky Barnum. Won the left guard job over Schofield, who proved an able contributor once Barnum went down with injury; graded out decently before that; may move to center.
- RB Vincent Smith. Uninspiring runner; fantastic pass blocker; also a throwback screen merchant. Third down back.
- FB Stephen Hopkins. Fumble issues threatened to bury him on the bench before midseason shift to FB; tailback-ish agility serves him well; quality option; may have extensive role next year thanks to lack of TEs.
WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY
One Of Three Guys On The Interior Line. The world assumes Schofield is the heir apparent at right tackle. This is a good assumption since the list of scholarship non-freshman, non-Lewan tackles on the roster reads "Michael Schofield." That paves the way for one and a half new starters on the interior.
The half is all but certainly Barnum, who had a few starts early in the season before ankle issues took him out of the lineup. He will start at center or guard, in all likelihood. Candidates for the one include:
- Redshirt freshman Chris Bryant, a 350-pound mauler who needs to trim down if he's going to get on the field.
- Redshirt freshman Jack Miller, a 260-pound dancer who needs to bulk up if he's going to get on the field.
- True freshman Kyle Kalis, a five star reputed to be college-ready like a mofo. Moved to guard at the Army game and seems to acknowledge his long term future is on the inside.
- Redshirt senior Rocko Khoury, the long-presumed replacement for Molk who snapped some balls not so well when suddenly pressed into service against VT. Khoury has a start against Iowa in 2010 to his credit but the buzz is he is not a preferable option.
- Redshirt senior Elliot Mealer. Mealer was a utility guy deployed after Barnum's exit whenever Taylor Lewan needed a limb reattached. He is useful depth but seems likely to be passed by one of the above on the depth chart.
Losing Molk is brutal but finding a serviceable replacement from one of the above three seems likely.
Someone at tight end. With two departures and a bad gamble in last year's recruiting class the only tight ends on the roster are redshirt senior Brandon Moore and redshirt sophomore Ricardo Miller. Moore supposedly has stone hands; his main contribution to last year was blowing his assignment on Michigan's ill-fated fourth and one attempt versus Michigan State. Miller is a converted WR who needs to add 20 pounds if he's going to press for playing time.
Reinforcements will come from two or three freshmen; 280 pound AJ Williams is probably the most pret a porter. He's big, you see, and Devin Funchess is not. Williams spent his senior year of high school impressing people at tackle and is likely to be more of a sixth offensive lineman than a dynamic receiver.
Stonum being indie
Sort of Darryl Stonum, maybe. The WR corps gets a one for one replacement on both of its departed slots and may/should/could return Darryl Stonum, who was suspended for the 2011 season after his second DUI. His latest legal trouble consists of driving to a probation meeting, which may or may not move Hoke's needle.
If he's back, Michigan gets its most physically gifted WR, someone who can beat you over the top and could have an explosive final season on the end of Al Borges's copious deep balls. Or he could be another version of what he's been most of his career: an athlete who doesn't really know how to play WR. Stonum's availability and play is the biggest wildcard on the 2012 offense.
WHAT'S ROD STEWART 1972
Senior Denard, you'd think. Robinson panicked and reverted against the swarming VT defense; before that he'd put together a solid second half as he began to understand the offense and maybe possibly got healthy. With another year in the system he should improve on his throwing numbers.
Tailback, probably. Fitzgerald Toussaint is for real as long as he's healthy and Vincent Smith is a quality third down back. Depth still looks hairy.
The starting tackles. Lewan was impenetrable this year and Schofield had a strong debut at guard. Dollars to donuts they're the best bookends in the conference.
Going from year one to year two with the same coaches. Everyone was a freshman last year. Now they've got some sophomores.
WHAT'S ROD STEWART 2012
Tight end. After a couple years playing with Koger and Martell Webb it appeared that Rodriguez had come around on the idea of tight ends, as he recruited a half-dozen over the course of his last year at Michigan. Unfortunately, he struck out on all of them. When Hoke came in he grabbed Arkansas decommit Chris Barnett without checking into the guy; he was gone before his first fall camp ended.
With Koger and Watson out the door, this leaves very little at a position Borges loves. Fifth-year-senior-to-be Brandon Moore's most significant contribution to the 2011 season was busting his assignment on Michigan's ill-fated fourth and one against Michigan State; he's the only tight end on the roster now. To bolster that depth Michigan will bring in two or three in the fall and I bet you a dollar a defensive lineman with a Z in his last name finds himself on the other side of the ball this spring.
This does not mean things can be expected to go well here.
Offensive line depth. Rodriguez's 0-fer on the OL two years ago really begins to squeeze in 2012. The interior will probably be fine, with three of Khoury/Mealer/Bryant/Miller available to spot any starters that go out. Five-star freshman Kyle Kalis turns out to be 6'4" and is talking about how much he likes guard; plugging him in there will probably not be a disaster.
It's at tackle where there is a terrifying cliff after the starters. Past a couple of guys who could end up bookending the All Big Ten OL there is nothing but walk-ons and true freshmen. Michigan's best bet in the event of an injury to Lewan or Schofield is probably flipping Barnum or Omameh outside.
Gamebreakers at WR. Stonum, Roundtree, and Gallon isn't the worst unit Michigan's run out at WR in the past decade or so but it's no Edwards, Avant, and Breaston. Stonum's breakout junior year was only a breakout relative to his underclass performance: 49 catches for 633 yards.
WHAT'S HEISENBERG ROD STEWART UNCERTAINTY
Will Borges go with the flow? This blog spent most of the summer demanding a shotgun-exclusive offense that incorporated Borges's passing trees with some of the power blocking Hoke could not stop talking about. By the end of the year that's basically what we got en route to what was probably Michigan's best-ever offensive performance against the Indianapolis-Fort Wayne Mad Antz. The numbers, helpfully recompiled by Seth* after that game, are stark:
|Formation||Pass YPA||Run YPA||Total YPA|
The Ace numbers are a small sample and are heavily dependent on Fitzgerald Toussaint's long jet in the Purdue game, FWIW.
When Michigan runs from the shotgun, holy pants. Downshifting into the I-Form may be appropriate for short yardage situations and as a change of pace, but that's all it's good for, especially when you consider that Michigan's ripped their tough closing slate for 5.5, 4.5**, and 6.4 yards a carry without dropping into the I for much more than goal line duty. As I said in the OSU game recap, by the end of the year it kind of seemed like the transition costs of moving from Rodriguez to Borges were zero.
So that worked better than anyone expected it to after Michigan learned a couple of harsh lessons. Q: will they accept that verdict in 2012 or try to change it? Despite the clear advantages of running from the shotgun in 2011, it's clear where Borges wants to take the offense long-term. With a lot more BEEFCAKE on the interior line it could work better… but…
[thousand word rant about removing Denard's legs from the equation]
…in the EYE with a FORKING FORK.
How much will Denard progress? It became less about accuracy late in the year and more about just knowing where to go with the ball. His default action when he doesn't know what to do should be take off; instead it's unleashing the deep-ball dragon. Michigan has to find a way to not completely bog down against elite defenses, because a quick glance on the schedule shows quite a few that promise to approach that level.
Will the real Toussaint injury vulnerability please stand up? Brionte Dunn has cast his lot with Test Drive U, leaving Michigan with a non-obvious answer to "what happens if Toussaint is injured?" It could be Vincent Smith but Toussaint's emergence has reminded us all of what a nice bonus it is to have a playmaker at tailback. Thomas Rawls comes Fred Jackson approved, for what that's worth. Justice Hayes is coming off a redshirt year with a lot of recruiting hype… that said he was a great fit for a spread.
MANDATORY WILD ASS GUESS
Static yardage-wise, more under center stuff I'll loathe, significantly reduced interceptions from Denard, about the same with less tendency to get totally shut down by top tier Ds. A slight upgrade overall.
*[Is it as much of a relief to everyone else that you no longer have to figure out how to pronounce "Misopogon"?]
**[Nebraska; these totals were depressed by a lot of predictable Michigan plods into the line in the fourth Q. Seth's numbers only include the first three quarters in games closer than 18 points, FWIW, which slashes out big chunks of Minnesota.]
|Taylor Lewan||So.*||Ricky Barnum||Jr.*||David Molk||Sr.*||Patrick Omameh||Jr.*||Mark Huyge||Sr.*|
|--||--||Chris Bryant||Fr.||Rocko Khoury||Jr.*||Elliot Mealer||Jr.*||Michael Schofield||So.*|
Readers are advised to follow the same procedure as they might for the defensive line: look at the soothing, soothing starters and not the precarious dropoff—this time including a true freshman and non-entity "Dash Dash"—immediately after them.
Here the fainting should be kept to a minimum. Michigan returns four starters, inserts a well-regarded redshirt junior into the open slot, and ran for a crapton of yards last year. And the depth isn't all that bad. At various times new offensive line coach Darrell Funk has expressed a desire for seven or eight guys who are ready to play. That's how many they have: seven or eight, depending on which way the wind is blowing about Elliot Mealer today.
While not having a backup at left tackle looks ominous, in the event Lewan is forced off the field Michigan will just rearrange some guys and pull Schofield onto the field. The coaches have proclaimed their faith in both Schofield and Khoury, so Michigan won't get to serious collar-puling time until the third injury/suspension/abduction. Even that would likely bring a redshirt junior out of mothballs.
They'll be okay this year. The depth bomb hits next year as Khoury and Schofield draw into the starting lineup, leaving just Mealer and a horde of redshirt or true freshman behind the starters, including zero (0) backup tackles who won't be going to prom in a few months. At least those backups are backed by panting recruiting rankings. But that's for another season preview.
This season preview is concerned with the above offensive line and how well it will transition to MANBALL downhill running. It's not that they don't know how to do this. Here's the line doing this:
This is the third time I've pulled a different gap-blocked play from last year to claim they can pull, so… yeah, they can pull. (FWIW, that is not Power O but Down G.) If you don't believe me, believe Mark Huyge:
"Last year, our primary play was outside zone, and this year it's coming at you. Really, they're not that much different. We ran the power last year, so we knew the footwork already, basically. [Offensive line coach Darrell] Funk tweaked us here and there a little bit. But it's just doing it more often."
Taylor Lewan also dismisses the idea the new offense incorporated anything he wasn't being taught a year ago:
"We have the same plays … Instead of an outside zone we might run a lead zone."
The issue is what happens when power goes from a constraint play designed to keep the defense honest to the bread and butter designed to make the defense cheat. The conventional wisdom is that power requires massive road graders a la the Wisconsin offense while the zone game requires guys who, while big compared to civilians, are less likely to annihilate a tackle one-on-one than dance their way into an advantageous position. Boy howdy can these guys do that.
They can do the other stuff when opponents are expecting an outside zone. Can they make it the base? And can they pass protect well enough to open up a full pro-style route tree? Well, we just don't know, Dude.
Rating: 4 of 5
Taylor Lewan started getting hyped up as the next Jake Long as soon as he committed. That hype never waned until Lewan managed to start his RS freshman year on the bench behind Mark Huyge.
That dip was brief. Lewan forced his way into the starting lineup by the second half of the UMass game and quickly established himself as a man who perceives men in other football uniforms as donkeys and himself as the last survivor of a species destroyed by donkeys. Result:
|hate you, donkey|
|donkeyed DT plus LB|
|caves in Clayborn|
|Ogbu through endzone|
|mobility matches Martez|
|enjoy 0 tackles Clayborn|
|goodbye PSU DE|
|reads scrape, adjusts(!)|
|not so good|
|gets QB pwned|
That was pretty exciting, and when he turned Adrian Clayborn off in the Iowa game the Jake Long hype hit fever pitch. Not even Long had started at left tackle as a freshman. Then Lewan took sixteen straight holding or false start penalties and harshed everyone's buzz good and proper.
This happened in the same game…
After the third Lewan penalty Michigan Stadium was ready to throttle the guy. It would have taken most of the stadium to do so, but the "AWWWWWWWWW" coming from the stands suggested it was possible.
He's good. The Clayborn line: one solo tackle, two assists, a half sack on the last desperate Michigan drive. Last year Clayborn had 70 tackles, 20 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Against Penn State earlier this year Clayborn had ten tackles, three TFLs, and a sack. He's a holy lock first-rounder, and Taylor Lewan all but erased him. …
That was a star-making performance. Lewan == Long has gone from optimistic ceiling to serious possibility.
…and Lewan established himself as the Mouton of the offense. He continued to sabotage Michigan drives with false starts and holds the rest of the year; when he wasn't doing that he was all but impenetrable.
He's not dumb. He knows he's got one big thing to work on:
"Last year, I had a lot of penalties and that's one of the main things I've tried to work on," he said. "My biggest problem was the penalties, absolutely. Everybody saw that. My biggest thing is to focus on that, stay onsides, stay aggressive between the whistles and not after.
"(But) I'm not trying to tone down the aggressiveness, because the offensive line, I feel, should be one of the most aggressive on the field. Have a defensive mentality on the offensive line."
The Mouton comparison is ominous since we just watched that guy start for three years without getting any better, but Lewan hasn't suffered at the hands of poor coaching yet and won't in the future. This should be the year he drops the crazy hot girl act and establishes himself as an All Big Ten left tackle. He'll still be a little penalty-prone but it will be worth it.
|wipes out Lloyd|
|could do better on S|
|decent at POA|
|washes scraper out|
|again washes scraper out|
|pulls a bit|
|down G LB|
|can't maintain block|
Opposite Lewan, Mark Huyge is barely holding on for the third straight year. A who-dat recruit Michigan snatched away from the MAC in the first year of Mike DeBord's zone transition, Huyge's done well for himself to be a sort of kind of three year starter.
That hasn't prevented him from losing his job over and over. Two years ago it was a rotating cavalcade of missed blocks at right tackle as Huyge swapped with Perry Dorrestein and got sucked inside to play guard in David Molk's absence. Late in the year Patrick Omameh emerged at right guard and Huyge was finally exiled to the bench.
Last year it was Lewan bursting onto the scene. Huyge popped up from time to time when Lewan's penalties were too infuriating for Rodriguez and when Dorrestein's back injuries cropped up again. He was okay, his pass blocking issues covered up by the offense and Denard, his rushing numbers usually a little bit above zero.
This year he's in another "dogfight," this one with redshirt sophomore Michael Schofield and, oddly, Omameh. Funk:
“Mark’s played all over the place, been a starter at three different positions. He’s set himself up to have a great senior year,” Funk said. “He’s a great kid, great with the young kids. He defers to Dave [Molk] in the leadership role, but they are both seniors who are always both counted on to be leaders. He’s playing right guard and right tackle, has that flexibility that he could play left tackle if we need him.
“I’m happy with how Mark is doing. It’s a little dogfight between him and Patrick [Omameh] and Michael Schofield, who is doing a nice job."
I hope that's just a motivational device for Omameh, who needs to get better against elite DTs but… well… more on him later.
Huyge has the lead for now, so he goes here. I wouldn't be surprised if some pass blocking issues crop up and give Schofield a shot at the job—Huyge has never been able to hold off elite rushers. The difference between him and Lewan in that Iowa game was stark:
…the Huyge/Lewan battle [was] resolved in the exact same way the Demens/Ezeh battle was: by some Iowa guy running over the backup. In Ezeh's case this was Iowa OL Julian Vandevelde. In Huyge's it was Adrian Clayborn.
Huyge wasn't terrible but when you play a third of a game and you don't get a single +/- on the run chart you're being avoided to some extent and just doing okay at when you're not. He got a –4 in pass protection; Lewan has a –3 in twice the time. Lewan was +7 on the ground, tied with Denard for the best score.
He'll be better, and he'll be needed unless the line miraculously skates through the season without injury. I'm just not sure he'll be the first choice at tackle when the Big Ten schedule rolls around, because...
Schofield and… Schofield
The aforementioned Michael Schofield is it, man. Jake Fisher's post-firing defection to Oregon and Tony Posada's instant exit leave Schofield the only scholarship tackle on the roster who's not, like, starting, man. That's not good.
At least Schofield was a consensus four star who picked Michigan over Notre Dame back when all our OL recruits belonged to Weis. He's spent a couple years bulking up and is now the obvious #6 offensive lineman:
"Schofield would be a top back-up if we started today ... but he could easily be a starter. He’s playing most days at a starter level. His big deal is he’s inconsistent, and that’s the whole group. We’ve got go make sure we’re consistently good.”
Huyge's flexibility will allow Michigan to flip Schofield onto the field if anyone other than Molk goes down. He's likely to start a few games in preparation for a full time role in 2011… unless he rips the job away from Huyge right now.
Given the way Huyge's career has gone and the general vibe coming from camp chatter and Funk's public statements, that's a strong possibility. Huyge's never been much of a pass blocker and Michigan's offense is going to require quite a bit more of that as Robinson starts making more and more five and seven step drops.
There's no one else thanks to Rodriguez's failures in the 2010 class and The Process. A discussion of the walk-on options would be pointless since in the event two tackles explode Michigan will flip Barnum (who played LT last year on the second team) or Omameh (who was widely regarded as the tackle of the future before he was needed as the guard of the present) outside and bring in Khoury.
Rating: 4.5 of 5.
This would be a five if Rich Rodriguez was still around. I've been badgering people about how awesome David Molk is since he was a redshirt freshman; Patrick Omameh's full-season debut was not quite spectacular but promised it right quick; Ricky Barnum is a touted recruit who's hitting the field as a redshirt junior. All were prepped to reach-block the living daylights out of opponents this year.
Now I'm not so sure. I think they'll still be pretty good, but worry that their strength is not their strength, if you know what I mean. I think they'll end up running a lot of zone blocking, whether it's by choice or hard lesson.
Your starting center for the fourth straight year is MGoBlog fave-rave David Molk. He drops f-bombs in press conferences, openly disdains stupid questions, and frequently makes the toughest block in football look easy. I love David Molk. This is what he does:
That was against freshman Akeem Spence but here's one of a few ass-kickings he handed veteran Penn State DT Ollie Ogbu:
|reach destroys you|
|a tough seal|
|a classic stretch|
|execute the scoop|
|another textbook scoop|
|lewanesque donkey hating|
|latches onto the NT|
Sometimes he joins Taylor Lewan in his donkey hating campaigns. He's getting a little All-America hype, and I think he could deserve more: CBS has him on the second team behind OSU's Mike Brewster. If my OSU blog interpretation is correct I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Buckeye fan who wouldn't complain about the frustrating lack of dominance from their OL.
Molk is the perfect spread 'n' shred center, a major reason Michigan put up an unprecedented-this-millennium 5.6 YPC last year. If he's got weaknesses they apply to the transition he may or may not have to make.
While it's usually guards who end up pulling in gap-blocked rushing attacks, having a center who can do likewise is an asset. It opens up extra possibilities. Molk has the agility for that sort of thing but it seems like the act of pulling right after you've snapped the ball is one of those things you have to practice a ton to get right. Molk's spent his time doing other things. Additionally, when Molk takes on a DT with the intent of blowing him off the ball he's almost always doubling with an intent to peel off after a scoop. If he's asked to go one-on-one with bigger guys that might not go so well.
That is admittedly me trying to find a concern. David Molk is great. You can never tell which interior linemen are going to be up for postseason awards but I'll be incensed if he's not All Big Ten after a healthy year. I think he'll be a Rimington finalist.
in space, where he belongs
Returning next to Molk is redshirt junior Patrick Omameh. Omameh broke into the stating lineup at the tail end of his freshman year and immediately displayed an agility I'd never seen in a Michigan guard before. Last year he built on that. You know what I am about to embed, but are you sick of it? No, you are not sick of it.
|completely plows Te'o|
|finishes the job|
|seals and pancakes the DT|
|controls, then destroys DE|
|kicks out Reyes|
|dominates the playside DT|
|combo onto LB|
|Clayborn in space|
|Te'os a PSU LB|
That was no fluke. He did the same thing to the same epic linebacker later in the game, did it to Penn State, did it to Adrian Clayborn, did it to a lot of people. If you get Patrick Omameh to the second level he is liable to turn an opposing linebacker into a safety-destroying club.
His weakness was a lot more obvious than Molk's, though: he had a lot of trouble with beefy, high quality DTs. He actually picked up a negative in the opener against UConn due to his struggles with Kendall Reyes…
He didn't exactly lose out, but as the only guy on the line anywhere near even he stood out as a sophomore. UConn's Kendall Reyes was a problem all day, bursting into the backfield on the Shaw ten-yard loss and causing most of the bounce-outs. Sometimes this just happens. I remember Eastern Michigan's Jason Jones doing a lot of damage, pointing out how good he was, and hoping this was true both for credibility and what it said about Michigan's offensive line. Jones eventually went in the second round of the NFL draft. I both think and hope Reyes is really good, headed for All Big East recognition. If not, Omameh has a lot of work to do.
…and had a rough day against Corey Liuget ("when he did get Liuget he struggled … Many times Schilling or Omameh had not been able to keep pace with that spring into the backfield [that Molk did.]")
There are worse things. Reyes did end up first team All Big East. Liuget was a first-round pick over the summer and Reyes may be one next year. A lot of players have bad days against them. But that is a downside that will be relevant this year when Michigan sees Jared Crick and John Simon roll into town. It'll help out immensely if Omameh can stand up to them mano-a-mano. I'm not sure if that will happen unless the zero extra pounds he's credited with is gamesmanship, which has been rumored. That seems like an obvious rationalization to me.
Omameh's lack of out-and-out POWER to run POWER, his agility, and Lewan's donkey-hating ways mean that when Michigan does use POWER to run POWER they are going to be heavily left-handed. Remember when the first play of every game was zone left over Jake Long for two yards? I'm hoping Borges isn't as predictable as Mike "The Avalanche" DeBord, but the breakdown of left-right might be similar to 2007.
As for Omameh's performance, he should get towards the fringe of All Big Ten. They spread these things out amongst linemen and Lewan and Molk are ahead in the pecking order so he probably won't get it; I don't think he'll necessarily deserve it but he won't be far off.
Ricky Barnum is the line's only newcomer. He'll fill in for the departed Steve Schilling. As a backup offensive lineman we don't know much about him; his only appearances on the field to date have been in uncharted garbage time. We do know he was a touted recruit who backed out of a Florida commitment to follow Rich Rodriguez north—which, wow, dude, that's a hell of a decommit.
He's gotten good reviews from insidery types for the bulk of his career, and these have spread to his coaches and teammates as he prepares for the big stage:
Barnum, a junior, however has received rave reviews from Funk and his teammates. Funk described him as most improved from last spring, and Lewan said he's been playing like an experienced, fifth-year senior.
In classic offensive lineman form, Barnum laughed off the praise and spoke about the big picture.
"It's not what I've done," Barnum said. "It's what we do as a team. We worked really hard in the offseason, and we're dedicated. We want to get better as a group."
"Ricky keeps making tremendous strides," Huyge said. "The kid works really hard. I know in spring ball, he took a lot of reps, and that helps, and he's come a long way, as well."
Borges makes him sound a lot like the guy on the other side of the line:
On Barnum: "Ricky is as athletic as anyone on our line. Ricky is a tough guy." Biggest problem is that he's a little underweight, but he's gotten stronger, doesn't get pushed around, and "looks like a back out there sometimes when he runs."
"Underweight" in this case is 292; "looks like a back out there sometimes" is like looking in the Omameh mirror. File this under yet more evidence they're going to have to remain a primarily zone team the next couple years.
The only issue with his acquisition of the starting job is that he didn't have to fight too hard for it. Rocko Khoury and Elliot Mealer are the only plausible alternatives. While Khoury did an admirable job against Iowa, he's primarily a center. Beating out just one guy means you're necessarily more of a risk than someone who emerged from a thicket of a depth chart with a machete in his teeth.
The one thing that might hold him back early is injury. As of a couple weeks ago he was held out of the punting demo because of a knee issue. He still dressed, so it can't be too serious. He seems to have dumped the brace in recent photos; he'll probably be just fine.
Khoury against Iowa; Elliott with brother Brock
|doubles w/ Schilling|
|shoves on DT|
|not quite omameh|
|shed on second level|
There are only two before you get down to walk-ons and freshmen. Rocko Khoury is the only one who won't cause some hyperventilation. When Molk was knocked out for the Iowa game last year he stepped in and performed ably. Most of the clips at right are Khoury doubling DTs with Schilling, which isn't the toughest job in the world. He does display a bit of ability on the second level; he does not reach someone into oblivion.
If Khoury draws in it will be a downgrade since he's not likely to do any of the exciting Molkomamehwan things I embedded above. It won't be a disaster. Michigan averaged 4.5 YPC in his start against the #6 rush defense in the country, almost a yard and a half better than Iowa gave up against the rest of their schedule. They'll live if he plays.
Redshirt junior Elliot Mealer is the sole other non-freshman option. That qualifier is probably unnecessary since the freshmen are either 340 or 270 pounds—he's the last line of defense between Michigan and someone totally unprepared to play in the Big Ten. The coaches clearly have him behind Khoury and Schofield and while they do make encouraging noises about him from time to time…
Elliott Mealer and Rocko Khoury are vying for back-up positions on the interior line, ‘right on the cusp’ but depth guys right now, Funk added.
…the overall impression is that they'd like to avoid having him on the field just yet. He's still much better than the alternatives.
Notes from Brady Hoke's final press conference before the Spring Game. Photo from file.
Spring game - not enough depth to have a draft "and that would be what we'd wanna do, have the seniors draft." 1s will go against 1s, 2s against 2s. "We'll keep a score of some sort, but there's no scoreboard anyway." Winners get steaks, loser get hot dogs. The teams tied last Saturday. Scrimmage - "It will go until I think we've done enough plays."
Offense and defense will both be on the field the whole time. Al will coach the offense, Greg defense. "So that they can get the mechanics of gameday and getting the plays and personnel in and all that," Borges has been away from the field in the last couple practices.
Alumni returning - "It's great to have all these guys back. I think they've got close to 85 for the flag game they're gonna play. We've got over 300 coming in Friday night for a team meeting."
Team meeting: "We're gonna have a conversation. You know. We're just gonna talk about Michigan football." Introduce the new staff to the former players, and talk about how they're accountable. Current players will not be present.
Held out Saturday - Woolfolk, Floyd, Lewan, Demens, that's about it. Shaw and Molk are both back. Woolfolk has done very little. "He's done some individual drills and stuff like that. He maybe has taken a few snaps in 1-on-1 and a few snaps in 7-on-7." Floyd is behind in his recovery compared to where Woolfolk is.
Hoke always participates in hands-on coaching "I couldn't just walk around and watch stuff."
"We're heading down the home stretch of spring, obviously. We've got two days left to keep evaluating." Mindset, mentality, etc. will still be evaluated in the final two days. "We've made some progress in some of those areas but we're a long way from being the football team we want to be in the fall."
Koger, Herron, RVB leaders. Hard for Molk to assert himself since he's been out so much. "Your definition of a leader can vary. It doesn't have to be a vocal guy."
There's better communication, especially on defense, at this point than there was at the beginning of spring. It starts with communicating changed fronts. "I think that there's a pride that those guys are starting to feel as a defense." Defensive communication - "I think Ryan [Van Bergen] has done a really good job. I think he gets it." Cam Gordon and JB Fitzgerald, Kovacs, Carvin Johnson have been vocal out there.
Defensive coaching chemistry: "It's great. It's like they've coached together forever... As soon as recruiting was over, we started those meetings, how you wanna coach it, how you coach it."
"I think we're OK" with how much they've gotten done this spring. Really depends on how the next two practice days go. "I usually like to compete in 2 minute offense/defense] 3 or 4 times throughout the spring." They'll work that in earlier in fall camp to make sure they get it done.
Individual evaluations with every player, with Hoke and their coordinator and their position coach. "Expectations, where they're at, what they need to do. Where their weight needs to be when they report. What their role right now will be in the fall... The evaluations at the end, believe me, they'll be very specific."
Freshmen contributing this fall: "Really haven't thought about it much yet." Depth concern at OL and DL might provide some opportunities, but it's too early to say. Corner? "Maybe. We'll see. Greg Brown's really, in the last week and a half he's really stepped up." Courtney Avery has stepped up as well.
Lloyd Carr - "He's been over. Hasn't been to a practice, but he's been in and we've talked a little bit. Coach Moeller has been around a little bit, and Coach Hanlon is here every day [laughing]."
Denard and Devin: "I think Devin is a very talented guy and I think he's learned the offense well. I think he's got a good handle on it. There's some consistency we've gotta coach better with." QBs will organize 7-on-7s in the summer. What will Denard take into the summer to work on? Footwork issues, ball mechanics, play action game. He needs to settle his feet on dropbacks. "The mental aspect of getting you in the right plays" based on safety alingment, defensive fronts, etc.
Running back - "I think Hop's had a pretty good spring... Toussaint's been pretty steady." Mike Cox hasn't practiced as much because he has a class during Tuesday practice time "so that doesn't help him." Smith has played well. Incoming freshmen will have a chance to step in. "Hopkins is a guy right now who has been probably the most consistent." He can also line up at FB and do some things there.
Tight ends - they have the guys to run what they want. Koger was out early in spring "but he didn't miss much." He's been good on the line, Ricardo's more of a "move guy" right now. "I think the 4 guys you mentioned [Moore and Watson] all have done a good job in the offense, and that will be an important part of what we do offensively."
Molk - "He's been doing some individual, and then yesterday he did more of some of the team stuff." With Lewan out, Huyge has played both tackle positions, Schofield has been good, Ricky Barnum has been kicked out to tackle a few times. "You have 7 or 8 guys who will form kinda the nucleus of the group."
Rocko Khoury has gotten a lot of good snaps. Omameh has taken most RG snaps, played a little bit at RT. "A guy like David who's played a lot of football, sometimes you need to give snaps to more of those other guys."
Barnum: "I tell ya, Ricky's a good football player. He's a tough kid, he's a smart kid, he plays with good technique. That's why he's a good football player." He's been as consistent as any player up front this spring.
Defensive Linemen: Mike Martin - "He's done a good job. We're doing a couple different things with him." "I think think Will Campbell has made strides, but the consistency has to be there. You know Quinton, I think he's going to be a good football payer here at Michigan."Jibreel Black "Jibreel is a guy that, as his body composition changes a little bit, he's gonna be a good football player. I think him and Craig at the rush have had pretty good springs." Roh has progressed better than they thought this spring.
Linebackers - "Marell's done a pretty good job. We moved Brandon Herron back to a Mike." Mike Jones and Brandin Hawthorne at Will. "Cam Gordon's getting better, and I think Cam will have a very good summer." Jake Ryan also at Sam. Those six plus JB Fitzgerlad who "has started to come along a little bit."
Safety situation is fluid. "Carvin Jonhson, I would say of anybody, and Kovacs" know the defense best. Marvin Robinson has also come in and made plays, along with Thomas Gordon.
Kicking game: "I think it's a work in progress." Everything from snapping, to punting, etc. needs to continue improving. Long snappers are competing. Placekicking is a "huge competition with 4 guys in there." Seth Broekhuizen, Kris Pauloski, Jeremy Ross, and Brendan Gibbons. They kicked 14 or 15 times during last week's competition at the stadium. "They haven't been there probably as much as we'd like for them to." The field is the same indoors, the elements are the only difference. "We've got a lot of work to do in that area of it." Wile will get a chance to compete when he comes in. [Author's note: those two statements weren't said back-to-back, so don't read too much into it. Hoke said every freshman has a chance to compete for playing time].
Substitution notes: Obviously Tate came in for Denard. I think the injury Denard went off with was not one that would have prevented him from returning, but more on that later. On the line, Khoury came in for Molk when Molk left injured on the first drive; Huyge played about a third of the game after the Lewan penalty exhibition. Lewan returned late in the third.
Shaw continues to be limited, so Smith was the primary back. Hopkins continues to get more carries as the season progresses. At receiver, Stokes got more time in Odoms's absence (but not nearly as much as Odoms would have) and Gallon appears to be eating into Grady's playing time.
Formation notes: Iowa spent most of the day with one of their linebackers lined up over the slot. Since I am an idiot I did not take a snapshot of this, but that's "slot 4-3": two deep safeties with a linebacker outside the box on the slot guy. "Base 4-3" in this case was a 4-3 in the box with one of the safeties moving up on the slot guy and Iowa showing one-high. "Split 4-3" was a pass defense with the linebackers spread out; it was mostly featured late when Michigan was in pass-only mode.
Michigan didn't do anything new other than show a lot of I-form featuring one of the tight ends as a lead blocker.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||11|
|Simple as Molk(+2) and Schilling(+1) momentarily double Klug and then Molk gets a tough seal as Schilling pops out on SLB Hunter. Lewan(+1) kicks out Clayborn and Smith has a crease with no one filling until the safeties show up. Actually think a pull would have been correct here too as the backside end was getting blocked and there was no scrape but this worked. I'm not sure this is a read so no ZR.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Schilling, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) club Ballard out of the hole, cutting off SLB pursuit; Koger meets the MLB near the LOS and gets knocked back a little, allowing Dorrestein's guy to come off and tackle. Dorrestein -0.5 for a less than authoritative kick. Molk is injured and leaves.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Dorrestein(0.5)|
|M40||2||6||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Hopkins||4|
|The FB in this package was almost always a TE, FWIW. MLB is screaming downhill at this and runs into Koger at the LOS, standing everything up. Omameh and Khoury did an eh job on Ballard this time; Hopkins(+1) runs into beef at the LOS and lurches the pile forward four yards.|
|M44||3||2||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Waggle deep comeback||Hemingway||18|
|Inside zone fake with a rollout from Robinson. He's got Koger for the simple first down but also has Hemingway deeper so he goes for that, hitting it with perfect timing for a big chunk. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O38||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Hopkins||7|
|Schilling(+1) and Khoury(+1) again abuse Klug, bashing him out of the hole. MLB comes up to pop Koger at the LOS again but this time there's a crease because Lewan(+1) has kicked out Clayborn. The difference on this play and the QB lead draw and other iso is Lewan giving Michigan more room behind the DE. Hopkins is tripped going through the small hole and manages to fall through a tackle for a nice chunk.|
|O31||2||3||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||?||Hopkins||2|
|Watching a replay of the previous play; impossible to make out what happens.|
|O29||3||1||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Hopkins||0|
|Once too many times: Schilling(-1) loses a prepared Daniels, who fights playside and crams the hole, forcing a Hopkins cutback that could get the first down if he was left one-on-one with a linebacker. He's not; Omameh(-1) also couldn't kick out Ballard. The two guys submarine the run for nothing.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Omameh|
|O29||4||1||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||8|
|High snap takes an extra beat to bring in, screwing up the play somewhat. So I'm not sure if Omameh and Dorrestein have gotten pwned or if it just looks like it because Robinson is a step behind where he should be. It certainly looks like this is designed to go up the middle with Khoury(+1) and Schilling(+1) killing Daniels; Khoury then pops out on the MLB to erase him. Denard(+2) then cuts past the two linemen flowing outside and has room for the first because of that Khoury block. An arm tackle a yard downfield changes his momentum and sends him past another linebacker, but he's been slowed significantly and the secondary gets there after decent yardage. I do think the right side of the line should have done better here.|
|RUN+: Khoury, Schilling, Robinson(2)||RUN-: Omameh, Dorrestein|
|O21||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Waggle FB flat||Koger||5|
|Iowa adjusts and runs a zone that has a safety coming over the top so the deeper route isn't there; Robinson checks down to Koger for a few. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O16||2||5||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||7|
|Inside zone looks just like an iso so the backside DT fights to what he think will be yet another run right in his face. The handoff is made on the other side of Robinson and all he's done is lock himself out. Schilling(+1) helps. Khoury(+1) and Omameh(+1) destroy Ballard and Lewan(+1) releases downfield to club the MLB, providing a lane for Smith to hit. He fails to see it and tries to cut outside, where there's is no blocking. Fortunately for M this is blocked by Dorrestein's ass. Smith comes to a stop, but the blocking is so good he can start up again in the same lane. Clayborn, given time by the missed cut, tracks down to tackle from behind.|
|RUN+: Khoury, Omameh, Schilling, Lewan, Dorrestein||RUN-: Smith|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||1|
|Safety moves down on the slot and all three LBs are in the box as Iowa shows one-high. I'm not sure what Michigan is doing with their backside reads here but since they're blocking the backside end (Clayborn) the guy to read is the SLB. He's not going anywhere and he's about to get a blocker in his face so there's a lane Robinson can take if he pulls; he gives (ZR -1). Because the interior OL has lost this round (-0.5 for Schillling, Molk, Omameh) Smith has nowhere to go and ends up cutting back into the hole Robinson could have hit if he'd kept it. He's there much later, though, and it closes off.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Khoury(0.5), Schilling(0.5), Robinson|
|O8||2||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Yakety sax||?||Inc|
|Snap fumbled. This isn't on Khoury; it's a perfect snap. Robinson recovers it and manages to avoid a tackle before chucking the ball. No idea where it's going or if he's trying to complete it because it's knocked down. (BA, N/A, N/A)|
|O8||3||G||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Slant||Smith||8|
|Smith smokes a LB over and gets inside of him where there is no help; Robinson hits him for the easy TD. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||7 -13 pen|
|Webb's guy on the end fends him off and forces Robinson to head back inside, where he just has enough room to slice upfield because Schilling(-1) got a couple shoves on Daniels and fell in his path, knocking him off stride but not cutting him or seriously delaying. Khoury(+1) and Omameh(+1) have obliterated Ballard and Dorrestein(+1) has walled off a linebacker, opening up a lane. Robinson runs by Clayborn; Daniels grabs him from behind and manages to ride him to the ground. This was opening up big but for the Schilling mess. Lewan then gets a dumb personal foul afterwards. That's not going on the run chart but guuuuuh.|
|RUN+: Khoury, Omameh, Dorrestein||RUN-: Schilling|
|M14||2||16||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||4|
|Fakes a flare screen. Indecision from Schilling and Khoury at first; Schilling then pops the NT, who falls, but falls well in the backfield right in Robinson's desired path. He has to improvise. Dorrestein(+1) does a great job of getting his guy back and giving Robinson the corner, but Hemingway(-1) whiffed on the outside and the charging corner forces the play back inside to help.|
|RUN+: Dorrestein||RUN-: Hemingway|
|M18||3||12||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||TE flat||Webb||3|
|No one open so Robinson checks down to a hopeless route and Michigan punts. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||7|
|Just six in the box for Iowa still so this is a play with a lot of room to operate; Robinson decides to cut outside since there's no linebacker over there and he can get outside Dorrestein's(+1) good block; Omameh(-1) lost Ballard on a single block, cutting off that hole. Webb has lost the playside LB because he was blocking like Robinson would head inside the tackle; Hopkins runs by the guy in an effort to get to the safety and the LB disconnects to tackle, but not before a good gain. (RPS+1)|
|RUN+: Robinson, Dorrestein||RUN-: Omameh|
|M34||2||3||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||9|
|Okay, this is pretty much the same play but operates differently since both lead blockers are heading inside the tackles. Michigan thinks is is different; I'm just a blogger talking to laypeople. Schilling(-1) gets chucked away by Daniels—impressive strength display there--but Hopkins(+1) sees this, changes his planned blocking path, and clubs Daniels out of the play at the LOS. Webb(+1) hits the MLB and Lewan(+1) again kicks Clayborn out, giving Robinson a lane he takes.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Webb, Lewan||RUN-: Schilling|
|M45||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||2|
|Gurghelgasghas. Iso with Smith? Probably wouldn't have mattered if it was Jim Brown here because Khoury(-1) slips as he comes out of his stance and can't get the MLB; Omameh(-1) was beaten by Ballard. Both guys tackle downfield. Webb(+1) did help by getting a good block on the SLB, so this isn't zero.|
|RUN+: Webb||RUN-: Omameh, Khoury|
|M47||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Hemingway||3|
|Rollout catches Iowa by surprise and Smith gets outside of Clayborn, opening up the corner. Hemingway is open, though, so Robinson throws. Ball is short and well upfield, turning an easy first down into something less than that. Hemingway makes a good catch to dig it out. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|50||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|M45||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Fly||Stonum||Int|
|So this is pretty much terrible. Illinois stunts. Schilling sees it and picks it up; Khoury(-1) has been bowled over by the DT. Robinson could stand there and fire. Instead he shows his inexperience and rolls back, then sets up to bomb it deep. Underneath he probably had Smith with a 50-50 shot at the first. Instead he chucks it deep. 1) this is covered. 2) it is so far away from Stonum that the WR can't even tackle on the INT and turn this into a glorified punt. Given the three guys around Stonum I'm giving this the bad one (BR, 0, protection 1/2, Khoury -1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||7|
|With Binns shuffling down the line to take away the cutback this is open and the keep is correct (ZR +1). Binns does recover enough to help out from behind when Sash fills.|
|M27||2||3||Shotgun empty H-back||1||1||3||Split 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||7|
|Koger(+1) blasts the MLB and Lewan(+2) caves in Clayborn to give Robinson an easy decision to slash it outside. Khoury and Schilling had also destroyed the playside DT, FWIW.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Webb||RUN-:|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Pass||PA bubble screen||Gallon||18|
|Iowa changes up their D and for the first time all day they do not have a linebacker over the slot to kill the bubble; Michigan goes with the bubble (CA, 3, screen). Stonum(+1) gets a good block on the corner and Gallon(+1) makes the most of it, smoothly cutting past the Stonum block and almost taking advantage of a falling safety before the slot LB manages to shut it down. RPS +1.|
|RUN+: Gallon, Stonum||RUN-:|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|You can tell Iowa's cheating a bit with the slot LB, and he blitzes. Michigan still has a decent crease for Robinson up the middle but Robinson decides to cut back, screwing up all the blocking angles. He gets past one DT, has to cut up behind Koger on the backside DE, and then Hunter has a clear shot since Robinson's cutback screwed up the angles. Not going to offer plus/minus here.|
|O42||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||3|
|Again cheating the slot LB and blitzing him; this is not good awareness. Khoury(-1) is beaten by the frontside DT and Robinson has to cut back. Dorrestein had no chance to cut a slanting backside DT, and that guy tackles after a short gain. RPS –1.|
|RUN+: Robinson||RUN-: Khoury|
|O39||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||TE cross||Koger||13|
|Koger actually falls down out of his stance but gets back up and finishes the route. It's tough to tell if he's coming to Koger second or staring him down all the way. Either way he goes to him in a pocket in the zone, getting the ball over a linebacker covering Stonum and getting it into him just before the safety can close him down. For the record, Clayborn did get by Lewan eventually, though not enough to warrant a minus since Robinson had been sitting in the pocket a while and Clayborn still had to pull up lest he pick up a late hit. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||5|
|Schilling(+1) cuts the backside DT down, but Lewan misses his difficult cut and there's no cutback. Playside guys do a great job of stringing it out as Dorrestein and Omameh fight the Iowa OL to a draw. Shoving knocks both Omameh and the playside Iowa DT off the ball a bit, leaving Robinson a small hole to hit, which he does.|
|RUN+: Schilling, Omameh(+0.5)||RUN-:|
|O21||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Gallon||4|
|Michigan notices the cheating LB and throws the bubble at it. For some reason they're not running the adjustment where the outside WR blocks down on the safety, so Sash has a shot at Gallon for a major loss; Gallon(+1) jukes him out of his shorts and is off... to the.... tripping four yards downfield. Argh. Seriously, nothing tripped him but his own feet here. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O17||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|Khoury(+1) does an admirable job of fighting off an attempted stunt by the playside DT. This gives Michigan a gap that a charging LB is filling; Smith(+1) pops him and gives Robinson a chance outside, where Lewan(+1) has blasted Clayborn's backup off the line two yards; Robinson burrows in for the first.|
|RUN+: Khoury, Smith, Lewan||RUN-:|
|O14||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Penalty||False start||Lewan||-5|
|This is straight up WTF. I don't see Lewan moving at all. If he does it's a millisecond early. Incredibly ticky-tack.|
|O19||1||15||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||-2|
|Iowa all over this with the playside DE moving outside before the snap and using that leverage to get outside Webb; Gallon(an unfair –1) is dealing with a LB who shifted right over him and gets owned, forcing Robinson back into the DE. (RPS -1)|
|O21||2||17||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Smith||Inc|
|Both Iowa LBs on the slot guys to the playside get chucks on the routes, disrupting them. Smith tries to sit down in front of the safety and Robinson throws accurately to him but he's got such a tiny window that this would be an NFL-level throw. LB deflects it for the incompletion. Maybe Gallon had a better shot at a window here; the checkdown to Koger was available but probably not more than five or six yards. Excellent play from Iowa; if you can do this you are not going to have many QBs, let alone Denard, put it in your face. I have no idea what to chart this. I am going to go with MA; Robinson had a tiny window and missed it by a foot but this was probably his best option. (MA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M21||3||17||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||Inc|
|A good throw into more excellent coverage; this is a deeper throw that's not going to pick up the first but will get them into chip-shot FG range or give them the opportunity to go. CB Hyde is right there and reaches into break the pass up. Throw was high but had to be so the LB didn't bat it. Stonum would have had to be a magician to bring this in. (CA, 1, protection 2/2) Stonum gets flagged for not being close enough to the LOS, anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG(38), 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q. Last series is three impressive plays from Iowa D and, on the first, whoever's calling the plays absent Norm Parker. I'm not even mad. Except about special teams, of course. Note that next drive would have started at 25 minus irrelevant, dumb block in the back.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M7||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||1|
|Huyge has entered the game, FWIW. Playside DT fights through the initial double, getting playside of Schilling(-1) as the backside guy slides down the line because Omameh(-1) can't ward him off. Smith has two ugly options: run into nothing on the frontside of the play or cutback into an unblocked Hunter. He picks A.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Omameh|
|M8||2||9||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||2|
|Clayborn maintaining contain as Webb heads outside him for a lead block; looks like M was hoping Iowa would switch it up and crash the backside DE, giving Robinson a pull opportunity. They do not; handoff (ZR+1, RPS -1). Schilling(+1) gets an excellent block on the backside DT, sealing him, but Khoury(-1) and Omameh(-1) do nothing with their double, failing to move the playside guy at all. No crease; Smith runs into bodies for a limited gain.|
|M10||3||7||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Deep comeback||Stonum||9|
|Looks like cover two man from Iowa; Robinson drops back and surveys but doesn't have time because Huyge(-2) has been pancaked backwards and Clayborn is about to eat him. He has to hop back and throw off his back foot. The pass is to an open Stonum but is well short; Stonum digs it out for the first. The replay doesn't look like it's a catch but it's not clear so they let it stand. Given the difficulty of the throw I'll mark this MA. (MA, 1, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|Iowa fakes the one-high but backs out. Khoury(+1) and Schilling(+1) bash one DT back and then Khoury hops out on the MLB. MLB sets up in a spot that convinces Robinson to cut back, which he does; DT and MLB come off now-invalid blocks to tackle. Still a nice gain; think Robinson should have tried to shoot right up the middle instead of cutting.|
|RUN+: Schilling, Khoury||RUN-:|
|M25||2||4||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10|
|Same thing; this one sees Webb pull across the formation and meet the MLB right in the hole. Schilling(+0.5) and Khoury(+0.5) have again beaten the playside DT back, so the MLB has to attack; he cuts off the hole but is walled off by Webb. Robinson(+1) slices outside too fast for Clayborn to react as Smith(+1) gets a solid block on the charging Sash, giving Robinson a lane that is only closed down by a pursuing Hunter.|
|RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Khoury(0.5), Robinson, Smith||RUN-:|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Hemingway||8|
|Simple pitch and catch that's open; Hemingway grabs it for a decent gain and picks up a few more YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M43||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||6|
|Khoury(-1) owned, driven far into the backfield and closing off what looks like a well-blocked play otherwise. Robinson has to cut back, way back, which kills the blocks on both backside DL. He has to run outside. A corner comes up; he cuts back inside, dodging that guy and sliding past Binns. Binns tackles desperately.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2)||RUN-: Khoury|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Long handoff||Stonum||2|
|Ball thrown low on a play that had a chance to get six, eight yards. Stonum digs it out for a couple but is on the ground as he brings it in. (IN, 2, screen)|
|O49||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Webb||Inc|
|Good route package gets Webb wide open on a short hitch he'll be able to turn up for a first down, but Robinson inexplicably pumps and then wings it well high. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|O49||3||8||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||4|
|Robinson's looking at the left side of the field on which two Michigan WRs are drawing zone defenders deep; he should throw the out to Smith, who is probably going to have the first if the ball is thrown. Then he should hit Grady on the improv but doesn't, instead scrambling for a few yards. This was an easy read he biffed. (BR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, EO1H. Give Michigan an extra 18 yards here and they can go for it. Penalty is a killer. I can see why they punted: hard to have a ton of faith in Robinson at that exact instant after he'd blown three straight plays.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||1|
|I don't understand what they're doing with Webb here. They send him out to block no one; if he just blocks down on Clayborn, Robinson is in a ton of space running away from a MLB. Instead they just send him down to block no one at all. So Robinson hands off (ZR +1, RPS -1). Omameh(-1) and Khoury(-1) get killed by the playside DT and Shaw has nowhere to go. Schilling(-1) falls over so there's no backside block.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Omameh, Khoury, Schilling|
|M25||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||-1|
|Webb(-2) is owned by the slot LB. Just make him go inside of you and this is good yardage; instead he gets beat outside and Roundtree is tackled for loss. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M24||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Drag||Hemingway||4|
|Same patterns they ran on the third and eight before the half; this time Robinson checks down to the inside drag, which is caught but has no chance. Maybe should have looked at Grady deeper, but had to step up in the pocket because Clayborn beat Huyge(-1) around the corner and probably felt he had to dump it. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Huyge -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||12|
|Show one-high and back out. Michigan rolls out and tries to hit a pass but Iowa has covered everything reasonably well and Robinson doesn't feel comfortable throwing. He cuts up just as Omameh(+1) gets an open-field shove on Clayborn, using his speed to pick up the first down. He takes a hit as he goes down and comes up holding his hand; he is done for the day.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||PA Hitch||Koger||8|
|Forcier in; inside zone fake to a short hitch to the TE. PA had drawn the LB; open, hit with good timing; good YAC. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|M35||2||2||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||5|
|Playside double gets the DT blown back (+0.5 Schilling, Khoury), but Omameh(-1) lost the DT to the inside and there's no hole. Shaw(+1) reads it, leaps over the fallen Omameh, and hits a cutback hole; Khoury gets the other half of his plus for shoving Hunter along the line and giving Shaw a gap for the first.|
|RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Khoury, Shaw||RUN-: Omameh|
|M40||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||5|
|Hitches on this play covered, partially because Koger blocked Clayborn before releasing and knocked him back into a perfect accidental zone for his route. Forcier starts scrambling as Omameh lost Daniels on the interior; Khoury does well to pick him up but Forcier's moving. He cuts upfield into space, diving forward for a decent gain. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|M45||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||0|
|High snap Forcier manages to corral; this looks like a stretch but they're not blocking it like one so I guess it's inside. Omameh(-1) can't seal the playside DT; Khoury(+1) does a great job of getting control of and blocking the backside guy downfield. Shaw cuts back and would have a lane but for Schilling(-1) falling, providing a lane for an unblocked LB to force Shaw upfield and into traffic.|
|M45||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||4|
|This is very well covered but Forcier chucks it anyway, away from the defender and in a spot only his receiver can get it. Hemingway makes a diving grab to set up fourth and inches. (CA+, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M49||4||1||I-form twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Hopkins||15|
|Iowa tightens the line so there are two 1-tech guys right over Khoury; the backside guy is unblocked and lunges for Forcier, tackling him as he makes the handoff. He does make the handoff. Schilling(+1) and Khoury(+1) pick up the other NT and deposit him a couple yards downfield; Huyge gets an okay block on Clayborn and then McColgan(+1) thumps him backwards, opening up a crease; Hopkins sails through it.|
|RUN+: McColgan, Khoury, Schilling||RUN-:|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||PA Hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Corner blitz on Stonum's side of the line finds Stonum open after he forced the safety to respect the vertical route; Forcier wings it wide. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O36||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Improv||Stonum||Inc|
|Iowa again covering these short hitches so Forcier starts wheeling around; Michigan is not switching their routes and Iowa is dropping into three deep (RPS -1). Forcier wanders around and tries to find Stonum at the sideline for a few; throw is high and at the sidelines and isn't brought in. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O36||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Drag||Stonum||9|
|Same route set from before; why no ever the outside drag that actually has people dragging defenders too deep? Stonum has a step on his guy and Forcier hits him right in stride, allowing him to turn it up for near first-down yardage. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O27||4||1||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Waggle inside hitch||Roundtree||12|
|Iowa way less aggressive this time, probably because M tips pass by bringing in a TE at FB instead of McColgan. Roundtree sits down inside as Iowa players fly out towards Koger on his little flat route (which was open and I thought he should have taken). Forcier sees it and throws a nice catchable pass high so no one knocks it down en route; Roundtree goes up to get it. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O15||1||10||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||0|
|The fumble. Schilling(-1) gets chucked by Klug and then Koger(-1) just runs right by him, allowing the guy to kill Smith in the backfield; Smith fumbles.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Koger|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-21, 6 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Hemingway||Inc|
|Corner blitz; Forcier looks to the other side of the field and finds Hemingway open on a deep slant since a shallower one sucked in Hunter. Throw is high to get it over hands but catchable; it is dropped. Hopkins whiffed on his block on Clayborn as M slid its protection. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Hopkins -1)|
|M35||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Belly||Hopkins||5|
|Omameh(+1) blasts the playside DT down the line. Dorrestein(-1) is moving to the second level but gets a push from the playside DE that makes him also block the already blown-out Iowa DT, leaving the playside LB free. Webb(+1) kicks that DE out and Hopkins runs directly upfield for decent yardage. Unblocked MLB does tackle.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Webb||RUN-: Dorrestein|
|M40||3||5||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Improv||?||Int|
|Forcier drops back and can't find anyone on his first read, at which point three Iowa DL come through the line, with Schilling, Omameh, and Huyge all picking up minuses. Forcier rolls out and throws a completely terrible INT right at an Iowa defender. (BR, 0, protection 0/3, Omameh, Schilling, Huyge.)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-21, 4 min 3rd Q. That interception is a swing of 60 yards of field position relative to an average punt, or would be but for a personal foul on Iowa that brings it back to about the spot of the INT.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Penalty||False start||Schilling||-5|
|Lewan returns. He does not cause the crowd to ask for his doom by false starting here.|
|M10||1||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Hemingway||11|
|Again the slant opens up with an interior slant dragging a zone defender along. Pitch, catch, tackle. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M21||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||9|
|Easy again; thrown with great timing as Hyde plays conservatively. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Smith||14|
|Virtual replay of the first TD with the three WR side drawing a lot of attention and Smith beating the LB over him on the slant despite the guy having inside leverage; he bites on the out step. Good route. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|Just five guys in the box as the trips drags two LBs to the outside. Michigan runs right at the five guys and can't get much because Klug beats a double from Khoury(-1) and Schilling, hopping inside and forcing Smith to bounce it behind. Khoury didn't get enough push on him to seal him before releasing. Smith does cut behind Klug as Schilling pancakes him but this robs Khoury of his angle on the LB in the box and forces Smith to the side with all the dudes on it.|
|M48||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Improv Hitch||Stonum||7|
|Forcier looks for Hemingway but decides that hitch at the sticks is covered, at which point Lewan(-1) gets run around by Clayborn; Forcier has to roll out. I'm going to toss in a bonus point for the protection because Forcier has all kinds of room to roll because Dorrestein walled off the playside DT and Webb and Smith took turns on the DE, giving Forcier a relaxing amount of time to survey. Stonum comes back to the ball and Forcier hits him with a hitch for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/3, Lewan -1)|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Rollout stop and go||Stonum||Inc|
|Michigan rolls the pocket, then Forcier stops as he pulls up and tries to exploit the safety over-reacting to the roll. Stonum suckers the CB in and gets open deep; the half roll has gotten the safety out of position to defend this and Michigan has an opportunity. Throw is good but Stonum seems to lay out unnecessarily (trip?) and the pass clangs off his hands. Would have been incomplete anyway because of the dive. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O45||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Max pro and a three-man route. Schilling(-1) gets beaten by Daniels and Forcier has a guy coming at him up the middle; must throw. He's got a window to hit Roundtree on a post, but it's a small one. He's close but it's in front of him. Good timing, tough throw to see and make, but did not quite execute. (IN, 0, protection 1/2, Schilling -1)|
|O45||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Improv Hitch||Stokes||11|
|Forcier gets happy feet here and starts rolling around when protection is decent. His roll puts a stunting DT in his face but Stokes is breaking open on a hitch anyway, so Forcier chucks it accurately. Stokes spins through one tackle then drags Hunter two yards past the sticks. Nice play. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Stonum||17|
|Iowa adjusting to this but it's not enough. Sash is sitting down in a robber zone and attempts to blow Stonum up, but the ball's already in and caught by the time he gets there; Stonum runs through that hit and almost breaks into the open field; corner drags him down by one foot. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O17||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||6|
|Iowa with a late shift and stunt that gets Klug through Khoury(-1) and the other DT almost past Schilling(+1) before he reacts and knocks him out of the hole. Khoury then tackles Klug and gets away with it. Lewan is doing a good job on Clayborn but he manages to get a handful of jersey as Smith passes. This slows him and ends up being beneficial, allowing Dorrestein(+1) to get a bizarre but effective block on the MLB; Smith(+1) runs through the tackle and picks his way for decent yardage.|
|RUN+: Smith, Schilling, Dorrestein||RUN-: Khoury|
|O11||2||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Fade||Stonum||Inc (Pen +6)|
|Slant fake to a fade from Stonum fools Hyde. Hyde bangs him and then continues impeding his progress with the ball in the air; the flag is obvious. Probably should have been a PI with the ball at the two but was called holding so it's half the distance. Not charted.|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||3|
|Hopkins displays surprising agility here. Interior double kicks out the DT but Iowa is slanting Binns inside of Dorrestein and there's not going to be a hole. Dorrestein starts driving Binns further inside, turning a nothing play into an opportunity and actually gets +1 here. Webb(+1) heads outside to block a scraping LB and Hopkins shows good agility for a beef machine to follow him, getting sliced down by that LB making a nice play. Yes, you can get +3 for a 3 yard run if it's from the five.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Dorrestein, Webb||RUN-:|
|O2||2||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||2|
|Same play. This time Hopkins says eff it and just goes straight upfield; a gap-shooting Iowa LB has a narrow lane and a slight adjustment in Hopkins's path results in Hop running through an arm tackle. From there Omameh(+1) pancakes Ballard and Khoury(+1) improvises, pulling around the falling pair to pop Hunter; Hopkins is untouched into the endzone.|
|RUN+: Hopkins, Omameh, Khoury||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-28, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep hitch||Stonum||18|
|Deep in the hole again; Iowa gets a delay on Stonum and the safety is coming over to club. Forcier pumps and then lays a ball in that takes Stonum off his feet just as the safety comes over to nail the guy; Stonum avoids the hit thanks to the throw and makes a moderately difficult catch. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Out||Grady||8|
|Grady catches a quick out and then makes a linebacker charging out miss, turning five yards into eight. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O49||2||2||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||3|
|Another stunt from the DTs. Schilling(+1) seals off Klug, preventing him from getting into the backfield, and Lewan(+1) kicks out Clayborn; Smith does have to deal with a DT right in the hole but manages to fall forward for the first.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schilling||RUN-:|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Fly||Hemingway||46|
|Slot LB blitzes and it looks like Hyde massively busts a coverage on what should be three-deep. Forcier recognizes and tosses a soft floater that hits Hemingway in stride at the five for a touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-35, 10 min 4th Q. This color guy is outstanding, by the way.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M31||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Stonum||13|
|Same story, no adjustment this time from Iowa: double slants and Forcier hits the deeper one when the inside zone is cleared. Disadvantage of running a 4-3 all the time. At this point it's RPS+1 time. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stonum||11|
|Hyde bails out deep and Stonum pulls up; Forcier nails him with excellent timing. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Hyde makes a good play to force Stonum OOB; this is a quick throw that Forcier thinks he has but doesn't because of the chuck. Not sure what to chart this as. He had an out he could have gotten a few yards on, but this isn't a terrible read or throw even though it has no chance. I guess this is a very weak (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|O45||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Split 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Stonum||11|
|Same thing, man: double slants. What does it mean? (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Fly||Hemingway||31|
|Adjustment, as Iowa goes to a three-man line and rushes only those three. Michigan slides the protection, which is dumb because that leaves a DE one on one with Smith. Smith does what he can but that's only "delay the guy." Forcier pump fakes, then rolls away from the pressure a bit. He pulls up and launches a bomb to Hemingway on the other side of the field. Hemingway's beat his guy but the pass is well short; Hemingway adjusts to the ball much better than the corner and since it's short the safety is not a factor. Hemingway high-points the ball and brings the catch in. Uh... (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O3||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 5-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Forcier||3|
|Forcier pulls. Not sure why since the backside DE is getting blocked but he does seem to have a lane up the middle. That lane closes as Clayborn comes off Lewan (a yard downfield so no minus); Webb(+1) is blocking a LB and has control of him, pushing him downfield as he tries to fight inside and banging him into a filling safety; Forcier(+1) bounces outside as Clayborn dives at his feet and lunges for the endzone. Not Denard, but shifty.|
|RUN+: Forcier, Webb||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-35, 6 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Tampa 3-4||Pass||Fly||Stonum||Inc|
|This is very well covered by both the corner and the safety coming over and should not be thrown. Inaccurate anyway. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M37||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Tampa 3-4||Pass||Sack||?||-9|
|Lewan(-2) smoked by Clayborn on a three man rush, forcing Forcier to scramble around. He slips during this yakety sax exhibition, but this was going to end badly either way. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Lewan -2)|
|M28||3||19||Shtogun trips||1||0||4||Tampa 3-4||Pass||?||?||Int|
|Dorrestein(-2) smoked by Binns; Forcier steps up and throws to? no one. This is some kind of miscommunication or insanity, because only Iowa players can catch this ball. (BR, N/A, protection 0/2, Dorrestein -2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 28-38, 2 min 4th Q; EOG.|
That was schizophrenic.
Yeah, no kidding. Michigan went from ground-based to lighting up the sky with Denard's exit—I didn't even register a Zone Read +/- for Tate. Iowa didn't cope well with the change, unless they did by picking Tate off twice. –7 turnover margin over two weeks makes evaluation difficult.
I heard on the talk radios that Tate should start now.
Riiiight. About that, first we're going to need—
Yes, with a z:
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||-||44%|
Tate's number is justifiable since he averaged 9.2 YPA on 26 attempts; again, since the system doesn't weight things like throwing an awful interception more heavily the first Tate INT is not anything more than a single BR. (I'm not that concerned about the second INT. If you don't try something there you're facing fourth and nineteen and you're pretty much done anyway.)
Robinson, meanwhile, completed a lot of passes but didn't get many yards on them. He ended his day with a Scheelhaase-like 7.3 yards per completion. So the CAs there aren't inspiring, and neither is the DSR, a season low. For the second straight week Denard killed his own drives. On Michigan's third drive he threw an easy hitch well upfield and forced Hemingway to dive to catch it. That turned a sure first down into three yards. Lewan false-started and then he threw the ugly interception on the next play. On Michigan's final drive of the first half they were moving the ball, the drive stalled entirely because of Denard:
- First down: long handoff to Stonum is thrown in the dirt and Michigan only gets two yards.
- Second down: Webb is open on a hitch he can turn up for a first; Denard pumps for no reason and then throws it over Webb's head.
- Third down: Denard misses a read and does not dump it down to Smith, then does not see Grady as he rolls, then scrambles for four yards.
He was off.
Come on now. I think Michigan could have put Denard back in the game but given his shaky performance throwing and the score they decided to roll with Forcier after he drove them down the field on the Smith fumble drive. In the press conference afterwards Rodriguez said he'd re-aggravated a shoulder injury he'd been dealing with. If that's healed and he returns to the accuracy levels he displayed in the first few weeks of the season he's the guy.
Michigan might be more confident they can turn to Forcier if Michigan's offense isn't doing anything, but that doesn't seem particularly likely.
How did the offensive line do?
For that we'll need another chart:
|Huyge||-||-||-||Did not register a run plus minus, which is probably a win against Clayborn|
|Lewan||8||1||7||The biggest part of limiting Clayborn to one solo tackle and two assists.|
|Schilling||10.5||8||2.5||Won his battle but not by much.|
|Molk||3||-||3||Good start, then sideline.|
|Omameh||6.5||9.5||-3||Struggled in a fashion similar to his first start against a beefy UConn tackle. Probably still progress since the Iowa guy is probably better.|
|Khoury||10||7.5||2.5||Had his share of issues but was not a liability; backup situation this year so much better than the Moosman shuffle last year.|
|Dorrestein||6||2.5||3.5||Binns also had one solo.|
|TOTAL||50||31.5||18.5||A solid day against a very tough line.|
|Robinson||8||1||7||Could not find space often.|
|Smith||3||1||2||Okay, but still averaged 3.9 YPC.|
|Hopkins||4||-||4||Effective in short yardage, getting more trust, led backs in YPC, good blocker.|
|McColgan||1||-||1||One play but made it count.|
|TOTAL||18||2||16||Did what they could, with Hopkins grinding in short yardage and .|
|TOTAL||2||2||0||No screens, no long ones, no numbers.|
Also while we're talking line we should throw in the PROTECTION METRIC: 54/68, Lewan –3, Huyge –4, Schilling –2, Khoury –1, Omameh –1, Dorrestein –2, Hopkins –1. That's about 80%, which is good, and on the last drive-type substance when Iowa was all out of GAF and could rush like madmen Michigan was 1/5 with Dorrestein and Lewan picking up –2s.
This would be a good point to explain Taylor Lewan, the beginning and end of all things.
After the third Lewan penalty Michigan Stadium was ready to throttle the guy. (Good thing it's impossible to get guns in the stadium!) It would have taken most of the stadium to do so, but the "AWWWWWWWWW" coming from the stands suggested it was possible.
Huyge came in, and everyone thought that was a good idea to settle Lewan down. This provided a window in which the Huyge/Lewan battle—such as it is after Lewan cemented a place in the starting lineup—was once and forever resolved in the exact same way the Demens/Ezeh battle was: by some Iowa guy running over the backup. In Ezeh's case this was Iowa OL Julian Vandevelde. In Huyge's it was Adrian Clayborn.
Huyge wasn't terrible but when you play a third of a game and you don't get a single +/- on the run chart you're being avoided to some extent and just doing okay at when you're not. He's got a –4 in pass protection; Lewan has a –3 in twice the time. Lewan was +7 on the ground, tied with Denard for the best score.
He's good. The Clayborn line: one solo tackle, two assists, a half sack on the last desperate Michigan drive. Last year Clayborn had 70 tackles, 20 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Against Penn State earlier this year Clayborn had ten tackles, three TFLs, and a sack. He's a holy lock first-rounder, and Taylor Lewan all but erased him. Also, his second false start does not seem to exist. Presenting the first and only clip of a false start penalty in the history of football:
Pinky twitched or something.
That was a star-making performance. Lewan == Long has gone from optimistic ceiling to serious possibility.
And the rest of the guys?
I thought they were "dominant" in the game column at the beginning of the week; they were not. The rest of the line settled in an area around +3 each save Omameh, who again had difficulty with a big strong DT and finished in the negative.
Losing Molk was a chunk of that. While Khoury didn't seem out of place he's the backup for a reason and his lack of experience contributed to a couple of screwups; the occasional iffy snap that threw timing off was not included in the numbers. I don't think I saw him get a tough seal like this all day:
Even so a redshirt sophomore backup notching a positive number against Iowa's veteran, deep line is encouraging.
However, Michigan's inability to crease those guys consistently was key until Forcier came in. Iowa bent but did not break because their defensive line afforded them the ability to put a guy over Michigan's slot receiver to erase the bubble screen and keep two deep safeties; Iowa spent the bulk of the day with six guys in the box against Denard Robinson and did not get crushed. That's why Iowa's defense is so tough: they can do that when in theory it should get you crushed against up to seven blockers.
For a given definition of "crushed," anyway. Thanks to turnovers, bad field position, and the &#*$ing field goal kickers Michigan exited the first half with 223 yards and 7 points. That's bend but don't break. We've got break sooner or later. Also when the Tate Forcier Air Show started going off, it was not seriously bothered by pass rush until the last drive. That's an accomplishment.
Weekly plea for Hopkins.
Weekly plea for Hopkins, except he's clearly getting more run as the season progresses. I like his vision and surprising agility. A lot of beef machine types would not be able to make this cut:
And a lot of freshmen would not peel off to effectively block a guy who's just chucked away Schilling:
Rumors about fumbling in practice dog him—Rodriguez said Smith is "not a fumbler" after the game, thereby implying that some other guys were—and that's a good reason for his time to be limited. I'm anxious for those problems to recede.
His size makes him a far more effective blocker than anyone else Michigan has available. Unless Brandon Moore emerges (possible), I think we're going to see a lot more two tailback sets in 2011. Webb will be gone and Hopkins brings that kind of blocking.
Are you forgetting something?
Oh, right. Receivers:
The receivers had a great day, with just one drop, that by Hemingway, and three very tough catches on poorly thrown balls. (Stonum's may not have actually been a catch but it was ruled one.) Hemingway bailed Forcier out on the late bomb and made up for his drop with some key conversions on tough balls. With the screen game limited and downfield runs almost nonexistent, all they had to do was catch and they did.
Also Rock Paper Scissors was 5 – 5 = 0, though it could have been slanted more heavily in Michigan's direction if I'd started dinging Iowa for giving up all those identical slants earlier.
Lewan turned Adrian Clayborn into just a guy. Stonum and Hemingway were major positives in the second-half comeback.
Lewan helped kill two drives with actual penalties and may have killed a third if that false start wasn't phantom. And… yes… Denard's two-week streak of playing like a sophomore was extremely harmful.
What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?
Penn State's injury situation will have a lot to say about that, but Michigan has to get Robinson healthy and find enough of a tailback rushing game to force teams out of two-deep coverages. If anyone can do what Iowa did—which not only removed the bubble but removed all those games Michigan plays with it for good yardage—Michigan's base offense is going to have to slog downfield and will be vulnerable to the kinds of mistakes that have plagued them these last two weeks. (Aside for TOP junkies: Michigan won TOP against Iowa because their drives weren't two-play TDs. Was that helpful to either offense or defense? Not so much.)
I'm not sure whether this Denard shoulder injury is a good thing or a bad thing. Will it heal? Is it just an excuse? Is it more evidence that he will shatter into a thousand pieces? If his inaccuracy the last couple weeks was a temporary shoulder thing that will heal and he can get back to his earlier sharpshooting—even chucking short routes was a problem this week—it's good, I guess.
The other skill positions are getting better as the season progresses. The outside receivers are establishing themselves as good options and if Hopkins and Shaw can get an even rotation with Smith Michigan will have a variety of different looks they can go to depending on what's working well. Smith showed he's an asset as a quasi-slot in this game, as linebackers have difficulty covering him in man and zone opens up those double slants.
On the line, Lewan showed he should be able to neutralize any defensive end in the conference if he can just keep from going Yosemite Sam on the world and the rest of the line showed itself slightly inferior to Iowa's excellent DL. I'll take it.