“He was on the other side of the court, screaming: ‘Good shot, Kev!’” Durant said, shaking his head in delight. “I’m thinking, this guy’s an All-American type of teammate right there.”
Photoshop is a very dangerous tool if left in the wrong hands, which is why nobody should've ever let me get a copy of CS5. Seth's post this morning contained this nightmare-fuelish mashup of Jordan Kovacs and Ernest Shazor, his version of the Bill Walsh ideal strong safety:
Most people's instinct, upon seeing such a picture, is to turn and run and not stop running until they've reached a technological wilderness that makes it impossible to see said picture ever again. Because of my tenuous grasp on sanity, especially during the offseason, I decided instead to create a few more Frankenplayers. If these three rather horrifying creations ever donned the winged helmet, Michigan's offense would be unstoppable, albeit a bit strange-looking:
Denard Robinson and Tom Brady took wildly divergent paths to quarterback stardom. Denard's running exploits were the stuff of legend, while his passing left something to be desired, especially when he was out of the comfy confines of Rich Rodriguez's spread offense—one perfectly tailored to his strengths. Brady, meanwhile, was never fully appreciated during his time in Ann Arbor despite his pinpoint passing—only in retrospect, after multiple Super Bowls, was he fully acknowledged as an excellent college player. As a runner, though... he was a great pocket passer.
So what do you get when you jam Brady's upper body onto Denard's legs? (While, of course, still harnessing the power of the dreadlocks.) Only the most fearsome dual-threat quarterback in college football history, not to mention one charming franken-guy.
As a college running back, Mike Hart was just about everything you could ask for—productive and durable, coupling great vision and agility with surprising power and an inability to fumble. Despite lacking in top-end speed, Hart famously made the journey from three-star recruit to Michigan's all-time leading rusher.
Sam McGuffie, on the other hand, came in with a world of recruiting hype and plenty of athletic talent—his high school highlight tape featured him jumping over linebackers when he wasn't able to use his top-end speed to simply take the top off of the defense. Unlike Hart, McGuffie had the potential to be unstoppable in the open field. When it came to absorbing punishment, however, McGuffie fell short at Michigan, transferring to Rice after a disappointing and injury-plagued freshman season in 2008.
Stick McGuffie's legs (not pictured) onto Hart, though? Now we've got the production, durability, between-the-tackles running, and open field explosiveness no Michigan running back has possessed since Tyrone Wheatley. Do you want to claim Samichael McHart wouldn't front-flip over Will Gholston in the open field if given the chance? I thought not.
Jeremy Gallon emerged last season as Michigan's best wide receiver, proving especially productive when Devin Gardner took over at quarterback. The former high school option quarterback is both shifty and fast with good hands and explosive leaping ability. Unfortunately, he's also about 5'8", which limits his potential as a downfield threat.
Enter Tacopants, Jason Avant's 11-foot tall imaginary friend whose career high point was Chad Henne's inconsistent sophomore season. Combine him with Gallon, and, well—it's a giant wide receiver, guys, he's going to be pretty good.
In sum, it's barely May and I've already stooped to this for offseason content. I'm so sorry. Carry on.
Sometimes I make my girlfriend read me MGoblog articles while I'm doing something else. That way, she learns a little more about football, and I get to multitask.
Today when she was reading to me the Hello: Ross Douglas post, she came up with a pretty good question. She wanted to know: does Douglas project to nickle-corner, vs. boundary or field-corner only because of his size? Her rationale was that with gurus praising his technique and reliability, but not labeling him a star because of his lack of big play risk-taking, wouldn't it serve better to put a CB who is more of a gunslinger risk-taker in the nickel role where he has safety help at all times, and line Douglas up outside at either field or boundary corner?
Don't worry, I know I have a keeper on my hands if she was able to come up with a question like that. :)
Size is a suggestive but not determining factor. When we do these things we're peering at the roster and seeing where player X fits in and trying to figure out how the coaches see their players, but often the coaches are surprised when the kid shows up and they figure out what they actually have. If Douglas is the best guy to play on the outside, he'll play on the outside.
With bigger and more touted corners in the same class it would be an upset if he's the guy tasked with running down the Michael Floyds of the world. Insert mental image of Boubacar Cissoko trying to do that here. Sometimes this happens: Desmond Morgan isn't the ideal size for WLB, Craig Roh is probably going to be a little light for SDE, etc. In an ideal world it seems like Michigan wants six-foot-plus guys on the outside.
That's easier said than done. Michigan is swinging for the fences with Conley and Stribling, hoping they can be 6'2" cover corners the NFL has a riot about. If that doesn't work out, Lewis and Douglas are less risky prospects with lower upside.
In re: wanting more of a gambler underneath with the solid and unspectacular guys outside: I don't think defensive coaches think like that. They give you an assignment and they want you to execute it, and not executing it is always very bad. If player X comes to college doing this thing a coach doesn't want, the coach will try to stop it. In Douglas's case that may be taking advantage of his athleticism and being more aggressive. In hypothetical gambler's case that would be not giving up big plays. Whether a corner is on the inside or outside, I bet they prefer the former.
I'm watching the a rerun of Under the Lights game on ESPN and watching some highlights of the 97 defense on my computer…
…and I can't stop thinking about what would happen in a matchup between Floyd and Woodson. Woodson has the speed and size to keep up with Floyd but then again Floyd looks so much bigger and stronger than CW. I know it's a huge hypothetical but what do you think would happen there?
And what size should we be looking for at corner to stop big receivers like Floyd in the future?
Also, I notice Mattison has a tendency to slant the DL pretty often in the 97 highlights and honestly, it's working. Is this the style of slants Mattison we should expect to see this season?
Thanks for the time and Go Blue!
- AJ, UM 2014
Woodson took on a huge, elite outside receiver in 1997: David Boston. He is 6'2" and went 8th overall in the next NFL draft. Floyd is 6'3" and went 13th overall. Boston had a body-building/roid freakout at the next level, but in college he was at Floyd's level. What happened in the 1997 game between the two was one Woodson slip and fall leading to an OSU touchdown and nothing else. Michigan won with 189 yards of offense.
Woodson's gone on to prove himself an NFL hall of famer (7 times all pro). Let's not forget how ridiculously good he was and is. Woodson probably would have fared a little worse than he did in 1997 since the personnel surrounding him wouldn't have been as good, but you can pick a college receiver in the past 20 years and I'm taking Woodson and the points.
In re: cornerback size, see above. Woodson is listed at 6'1", and Michigan is hoping to put out a steady stream of 6-foot-ish cover corners. Again, easier said than done.
In re: DL slants. Yeah, one of the advantages of the under is that you can have the line go one way, drop the WDE into coverage, and send the SLB. By doing this you've flipped your defense at the snap, and this is often confusing to opposing OL. I don't think it'll be much of a problem for Bama and its veteran, All-American-laden line; others may have a bear of a time trying to figure out exactly who they're supposed to block on any given play.
The upside of having a couple of undersized guys at the five and three is that Michigan will be much better able to play games that shoot guys into the backfield unblocked. The downside is when that doesn't work and someone gets manhandled one-on-one. The linebackers are going to have to take on a lot of blocks this year.
I spotted this graffiti on the back of a stop sign near my office in Los Angeles. Could Taco Pants be considering a transfer to USC?
A "these are my readers" moment.
A little something I made for you guys
Made it for my dad, who lurks on your blog. Thought I would share. You can use it if you like. There are definitely bronies reading the blog.
I have no idea.
Previously here: ACE FFFF!
|WHAT||Michigan vs State|
|WHERE||Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, October 15th 2011|
|THE LINE||State –2.5|
|TELEVISION||National on ESPN|
|WEATHER||mid-50s, partly cloudy, 10% chance of rain, windy|
Run Offense vs. Michigan State
Jerel Worthy: self-trolled
This is an irresistible force versus immovable object matchup that pairs the nation's #7 rushing offense against its #1 rushing defense. Massive schedule strength caveats apply to both numbers.
Michigan State has played a I-AA team and I-A's #111, #94, #48, and #31 rushing offenses. The two good opponents were Ohio State, against whom MSU got a healthy dose of Bauserbombs and nine sacks, and Notre Dame, whose primary tailbacks combined for 126 yards on 26 carries—4.8 a pop. MSU did shut down an Ohio State rushing offense that did well against Nebraska, Colorado, and Miami (That Miami). There is plenty of there there.
A large part of the there is in the person and Missouri-themed tattoo of NT Jerel Worthy. Worthy is being talked about as a potential first round draft pick and has tormented Michigan the last two years by jumping snap counts and generally being impossible to to run against. Michigan will have to block him, and get his snap-timing ways off guard. If you let him jump a snap your play is done. Trap him, counter him, do various things to him that exploit his aggression.
The rest of the line is inexperienced. With Tyler Hoover out for the year the ends are one-time Michigan prospect Marcus Rush, a redshirt freshman, and hyped true sophomore William Gholston. Gholston got a lot of hype during the Ohio State game but that turned out to be mostly for running down the backside of the play and tackling for loss when State's massive blitzing forced tailbacks to cut back. When Ohio State blocked him he stayed blocked; his pass rush moves are rudimentary. He remains a physical marvel. Rush is a smaller DE in the mold of a Roh who's quick around the edge and has some issues holding up.
Chris Norman, Max Bullough, and Denicos Allen are the linebackers. Allen you may remember executing the flying squirrel sack on Bauserman late in the OSU game. Norman and Bullough are four-star types with a modicum of experience. They aren't Greg Jones, but they're obviously not a huge downgrade.
As for Michigan, their merry train of destruction was slowed considerably by Northwestern. Denard managed his hundred or so yards but the tailbacks had grim days. This was due in part to Northwestern stacking the line to the point where they gave up 13 YPA. Michigan State is like Iowa in that they are loathe to do that, preferring a standard 4-3 cover two against all offenses from maximum spread 'n' shred to maximum MANBALL. They blitz from time to time but rarely.
Michigan has had issues running power, first from under center (now abandoned) and increasingly from the shotgun. They've started running a lot of two-back, one-TE sets from the shotgun, de-spreading the spread and packing the box, and they've been running away from Taylor Lewan, their best drive-blocking OL, because they evidently don't trust RG Patrick Omameh to pull. Finding a way to make Michigan State defend both sides of the line and giving them things other than plain old power will be important—MSU sees that stuff every day all day in practice and Michigan's line is not built to move guys off the ball.
Key Matchup: Borges vs finding ways to get the edge. Michigan State's linebackers are young and the defensive ends younger. Worthy is large and the interior OL is not prepped to drive-block him. Speed options, veers, pitches, rollouts, zone read variations, stretch blocking—Michigan has to get outside the tackles effectively.
Pass Offense vs. Michigan State
Tacopants via Spawn of MZone; MSU's Johnny Adams
Denard Robinson's interception rate has shot up this year to a staggering 8.6%. He thrown 9 picks in 104 attempts after throwing 11 in 291 last year. That is a hell of a step backwards. If Denard's INT rate remains at that level Saturday, Michigan loses.
Denard INTs have come in two flavors this year: extremely bad decisions to throw deep into coverage (all three against ND) and massive overthrows (all three against NW), with some combining both aspects into one debilitating cocktail of depression. Over the past two weeks Denard has shown considerable progression in his accuracy (65% against NW, much better than that against Minnesota) at the same time he's made a ton of horrible overthrows. He seemed to fix his issues in the second half against Northwestern—maintaining that through the Michigan State game, especially in the face of pressure, will make Michigan's path to victory much clearer.
Michigan's receivers are the opposite of MSU's: a deep bunch without a true star. Junior Hemingway and his ability to high-point underthrown deep balls are the closest thing.
State's secondary is pretty good. Their safeties make mistakes from time to time but not too many; the cornerbacks are tough guys who make you earn your completions short and long. That's the impression from the Notre Dame game, anyway. There is no other data worth looking at.
Their line is 21st in sacks thanks to the nine against Ohio State; they have five in their other four games, one against Notre Dame on a stunt that was not picked up. Michigan is first nationally, allowing two in five official games. Part of that is Michigan not passing much—they're just over 20 attempts per game—and part of that is defenses sitting back lest they get too aggressive and spring Robinson into the secondary. Unfortunately for Michigan, even token pressure has caused Robinson to fling inadvisable or inaccurate balls—they don't need to swarm him to be productive.
State will sit back in a cover two and play a ton of zone, forcing Denard to be patient for holes to open up and hit spots in the zone with good timing. He's done it before… he's also imploded spectacularly.
Key Matchup: Denard vs Accuracy. Forever and ever this key matchup until Denard's missing at a rate that forces defenses to fear him in the air. Is this possible? Absolutely—a lot of spread QBs have light-on moments. Until it happens it hasn't happened.
Run Defense vs. Michigan State
Edwin Baker; Dan France having a sad last year, wearing a DL number
A year after... actually, nevermind. I was going to contrast this year's MSU run offense with last year's but it turns out Michigan State was mediocre in 2010, finishing 64th in yardage and 49th in YPC. Their 249 yards against Michigan said more about Michigan than State, but you knew that already.
That was with the assistance of an offensive line. This year they don't have one of those. Both guards return and are okay, though Joel Foreman was the guy getting schooled by Aaron Lynch late in the Notre Dame game. It's the other three spots that are a concern. At right tackle, redshirt freshman starter Skyler Burkland broke a bone in his ankle and is out for the year, leaving fresh-off-the-JUCO Fou Fonoti the starter. At left tackle, converted DT Dan France has emerged as the starter after Jared McGaha proved to be not very good at football. Redshirt freshman Travis Jackson returns from injury to replace injured converted DT Blake Treadwell—he was supposed to be the starter at the start of the season.
As a result, the same tailbacks who were okay last year can't run this year. Like, at all. In their two games against BCS competition, Michigan State has rushed for 2.2 YPC against Notre Dame and 3.3 YPC against Ohio State, sacks removed.* They managed 4.2 against Florida Atlantic, an 0-5 Sun Belt team, and 4.6 against Central Michigan, which lost to Western Michigan by about the same score they did against State. That is their rushing year against I-A competition. Opponent with pulse == shut down. Without pulse == mediocre production.
So, does Michigan's rushing defense have a pulse? Unfortunately we can still do no better than "maybe" at this point in the season. Plausible opponents to date:
Non-plausible opponent Eastern Michigan also managed 4.5 YPC. Those numbers aren't any more encouraging than State's.
The UFRs have detailed one of the major causes of the big numbers put up by opponents: weakness on the edge. Freshman SLB Jake Ryan has been a major source of these issues but indecisiveness from the other linebackers has also "helped." Last week Northwestern exposed yet more edge weakness on a series of option plays. State will try to exploit that, but Kirk Cousins isn't running the triple option and while their tailbacks have some quickness, Bell and Baker are more north-south guys whose effectiveness wanes when their shoulders are square to the LOS. Expect Martin jet sweeps, possibly out of a wildcat look.
On the interior, Michigan isn't great. Neither is State—their OL cannot get to the second level. A couple of screwups by Michigan linebackers will grant State a few chunk runs and the steady power diet will chew up 2-4 yards at a time; Michigan will still put up its best YPC effort of the year against the Spartans.
Key Matchup: Will Heininger and Will Campbell against the MSU interior line. Michigan's three-tech has been a sore spot against the pro-style formations MSU figures to spend much of its day in. If the three tech can hold up, Michigan State isn't going to move anyone else on the line and those erratic yards on the edge will be easy enough to weather.
*[I also removed a -12 yard carry from Cousins against OSU and two "team" carries for -9 yards. IIRC the Cousins thing was a fumbled shotgun snap he fell on.]
Pass Defense vs. Michigan State
oh good, an enormous NFL wide receiver wearing #3 again
Kirk Cousins is Kirk Cousins: pretty good, not great, somewhat prone to the yips when pressured. He was 20 of 32 against OSU for 7.8 YPA; he also threw a touchdown and two interceptions. Against ND they had to rely on his arm almost exclusively and he put went 34 of 53 for 6.2 YPA, a touchdown, and an interception.
In both games a large bulk of his production came through BJ Cunningham, the hulking senior who is the Big Ten's best Michael Floyd impersonator. Cunningham has 38 catches for nearly 600 yards already. He's a lock to be all Big Ten and Michigan's going to give up ten catches for 150 yards. Brace yourself.
There's little past Cunningham. Slot guy Keshawn Martin figures to get involved on the edge as Michigan State tests out Michigan's evident weakness against bubble screens—Cunningham doubles as a tight-end-sized blocker out there—and former QB Keith Nichol has made catches here and there. WR depth remains a major issue. MSU runs out a bunch of tight ends, computer distribution expert Dion Sims most prominently, and throws screens and dumpoffs to the backs. Downfield threats begin and end with Cunningham. MSU does expect Bennie Fowler back. He had 14 catches last year as a freshman and may be a better non-Cunningham option than the guys on the field to date.
The line is also an issue here. Though Cousins was only sacked twice against ND and zero times against OSU, the line picked up a bunch of holding calls trying to keep their QB alive and it seems like Cousins's internal clock has accelerated to the point where he's not letting certain plays develop.
Though Michigan's remarkable streak of not being totally awful continued against Northwestern, the M secondary exposed some flaws against Dan Persa and company. Persa averaged 7.5 YPA and his interception was of the WR gift variety*. Freshman Blake Countess got beat on a 39-yard fade and Michigan gave up an average of 7.1 yards on nine bubble screens. JT Floyd has emerged into a reliable, average-ish Big Ten corner and Countess is promising, but Troy Woolfolk's perpetual injury issues have seen him rendered largely ineffective. He's been pulled for Countess before garbage time each of the last three weeks.
And Michigan's safeties are extant. Jordan Kovacs and Thomas Gordon have not let a long run past them this year, nor have they blown a deep coverage. They are clueful. Things get a little dodgy when Gordon slides down to the nickel and Carvin Johnson comes in, but Michigan's days as Free Touchdown U have come to an end. Michigan showed a little nickel with Courtney Avery in and Gordon deep against NW, but pulled that once the bubbles rained down—on passing downs I bet Michigan goes with the three corners and keeps Johnson on the bench.
Michigan's pass rush has been okay. After a slow start they've picked it up; Dan Persa was sacked four times last week. Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen are capable of getting pressure by themselves, but a lack of consistent production from the defensive ends has been a problem. Mattison compensates with frequent zone blitzes.
*[Northwestern also managed an incompletion charged to "Team." What?]
Key Matchup: Mattison zone blitzing versus Cousins's head. This should be the perfect situation for Mattison to loose his devious NFL blitz packages against a rag-tag bunch of crappy, confused offensive linemen. The catch is the veteran senior quarterback behind that OL. Cousins has proven ill-equipped to handle pressure in the past—how he deals with it Saturday is a major key.
State's punting looks atrocious thanks to a blocked or fumbled zero-yarder; when actually getting punts away Mike Sadler has been okay. He averages about 40 yards. Nick Hill has done well in limited opportunities as the kick returner, and Martin is a large threat to rip off a long punt return when Michigan's gunners don't get the job done. On the other hand, State has given up a kick return touchdown of its own this year. Kicker Dan Conroy is 6 of 9 on the year after going 14 of 15 last year.
Michigan can now kick field goals up to 38 yards, maybe, has terrible kickoffs—they were a bit better against NW but Wile put one out of bounds—can't return anything for any yards, and has a punter who should hypothetically be righteous but missed the first four games due to suspension and is averaging 38 yards on three kicks since that suspension expired. Advantage MSU.
Key Matchup: AAAAAH GIBBONS YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS
- Michigan again lets State win the overpreparation-for-a-single-game battle.
- The State run defense shows up at maximum legitness.
- Denard isn't stepping into throws.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Jerel Worthy is picking up offsides calls early.
- Mattison blitz packages cause OL head explosion fiesta.
- Borges has a crazy package that is crazy effective.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 7 (Baseline 5; +1 for Oh Good It's Michael Floyd Again, +1 for Actual Road Game Instead Of Neutral Site Chicago, +1 for Spartan Overpreparation Now Actually Working, –1 for Opponent Offensive Line Best Compared To Michigan 2008, –1 for Strong Possibility Terrible Interception Battle Is A Draw, +1 for Even A Fraudulent #1 Run Defense Is Probably Pretty Good.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for Must End The Brahgasm, +1 for This Is Not 2009 Or 2010, +1 for Winner Is Strong Division Favorite, +1 for We Have A Countdown Clock For This Now, +1 for Juggalo Invasion Revenge Tour.)
Loss will cause me to... scream "I HAVE TWO COMPUTER ENGINEERING DEGREES" to thousands of people in green Affliction t-shirts.
Win will cause me to... unironically proclaim Brady Hoke gets it, chant "just like basketball," post Vincent Smith fingerguns.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Flip a coin.
I have no feel for how the game will go. I can see blowouts both ways. Michigan State: M OL cannot get push, coaches cannot invent ways to run, Denard throws three picks. Michigan: MSU OL combines with Martin and Mattison zone blitzes to leave the MSU offense a quivering hunk of goo and youth on the edge for Michigan State lets Denard rack up video game numbers.
None of that seems particularly likely. Neither do a lot of points, especially with wind potentially hampering deep balls on both sides. Offenses move in fits and starts with Borges getting some gashes and Michigan's addiction to power it can't run very well putting Denard behind the sticks; Michigan State can't run consistently either, and they can't protect Cousins well enough to convert third downs.
Special teams look like a tiebreaker to me, with State's field goal kicker an established one and their return units far more likely to rip off a long one, especially since Michigan can't get more than two guys within 20 yards of a punt returner on the catch.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Newly stride-y Denard looks more like he did in the second half against NW than the first half, cuts down on the terrihorrible overthrows, and puts up numbers that surprise many. Still throws mind-bending INT.
- Mattison blitzes Cousins into two turnovers.
- Something goes very wrong on special teams, likely a long return.
- Michigan State, 22-19
So there's this.
Attached is a picture I took at the game. I'm sure you've seen people wearing Tacopants jerseys before, but thought it was apropos per Denard's 3 INTs.
I'm not sure what's weirder: that there is an extant "Tacopants" jersey or the guy who emailed it to me thinks I've seen people—multiple people!—wearing them before.
I wonder why the Tacopants jersey guy picked 12. If I was going to create a Tacopants jersey he'd probably be 11 (his height in feet) or 8 (he's Jason Avant's imaginary friend) or 8i (obvious, probably not available). 12 seems random. I guess we are talking about a guy wearing a Tacopants jersey. Random is his middle name. Jason Random Tacopants.
Tacopants man! Explain your decision-making process!
The internets have been all "lolzook" this week after the Illini's esteemed coach decided to go for 2 after scoring to take a 20-13 lead, then told a reporter in the postgame presser that they had a 5-point lead when asked to explain his decision. I'm not trying to push back on the lolzook, because obviously, but the situation brought to mind a piece of anti-CW Game Theory I've always held, although without a single shred of evidence to back me up. Maybe you can draw upon your vast resources to look into this so that next time I bring this up while watching a game with somebody, they won't look at me like I'm Ron Zook at that postgame presser.
Now, to be clear, in the Ill-Ind game, I'd have kicked the extra point there. With that much time left, you maximize expected value.
BUT, if it were the 2nd half with the same situation (scoring 6 to go up 7), I believe that the correct Game Theory move is to go for 2. With possessions limited, the opportunity to make it a 2 score game far outweighs the advantage you gain by forcing a 2-point conversion, rather than an extra point, to tie.
Additionally, if you miss the conversion, and if the opposing team comes back to score, the opposing coach will virtually always elect to kick the extra point to send the game to overtime rather than go for 2, and the win, in regulation. In essence, with a standard-issue coach on the other sideline, the worst-case scenario in the "go-for-2" situation (miss conversion, opposing team scores, and kicks the extra point for a tie) is exactly the same as the worst-case scenario in the "take-the-point" situation (make the kick, opposing team scores and makes the 2-pointer to tie). But, the upside to going for 2 in that situation is significantly greater.
I'm interested to know what you think. I have a similarly insane Game Theory belief about going for 2 when you score to go from down 14 to down 8, but I'll save that for another day.
Brian in Charlottesville
I don't think I agree. In the event of going for two:
Tie: 1 - P(you2)
Going for one:
Win: 1 - P(them2)
With 2PT%s generally under 50% it doesn't seem like the right move. You want the burden of making the two pointer to fall on the opponent.
Also, as the team with the upper hand I also think you want the information about whether the two-pointer is successful to remain unknown. If you get it you've changed the opponent's calculus about how to win by collapsing the waveform. Armed with more perfect knowledge of their situation they will press forward knowing they are down two scores. The temptation to think "we're just one score down" when they are actually 1.6 scores down is strong. It causes a lot of lackadaisical behavior you do not see in teams down two scores late, which you like. So don't accidentally make the opponent play better.
If you pick up a penalty or are Wisconsin or have a gotcha two-pointer or are in a game that's going to end 58-51 the probabilities could swing in favor of going for it yourself; in an average situation leave it to the opponent. As always, context matters.
As for your "insane" theory you should go for it when you score to draw within eight, that is never going to happen in a game but has already been discussed by stat nerd types. This piece even uses the 2005 Notre Dame game as an example:
On September 10th, 2005, the University of Michigan football team was trailing by 14 points when they scored a touchdown with 3:47 left in their game against Notre Dame. Their coach decided to kick an extra point to get within seven points. Even though this strategy is followed in the NCAA and the NFL almost without exception, it is, in general, incorrect. In this paper I will show that the correct strategy in this situation is to immediately attempt the two-point conversion.
This is because you can make your choice about the second two-point conversion with the knowledge about whether the first one succeeded. So your chances, assuming that the 43% number given in the article is correct:
TIE: 57% * 43% = 24.5%
LOSE: 57% * 57% = 32.5%
By adopting that strategy you shift your chance of winning should you come back from the two TD deficit from 50-50 to about 55-45. They use a lot more detailed numbers to reach that conclusion but that's it in a nutshell.
A much better strategy is not be down 14 points.
On the armpit jerseys never dying.
Any thoughts or ideas as to why the defensive linemen switched to the road jerseys of the RR regime in the second half with the yellow piping? Also, Denard was wearing that one of those jerseys on the last drive. I like the look of this year's road jerseys without the yellow piping but wondering if if it is a fit or comfort issue although this year's home jerseys looked like they have the same fit with the wide, open arm-pit area.
Let's let another emailer answer this for me:
You've probably observed the same, but there are issues with the new Adidas techfits. I've seen them getting ripped to shreds at various points this season, and so you have guys like rvb, martin, roh, switch to last year's model in previous games. They were presumably asked to wear the new ones tonight given the more drastic change in appearance with elimination of the thick yellow piping. However, we've already seen rvb change back anyway despite the old piping.
I wouldn't normally care about this except for fact that underlying issue appears to be their tendency to be grabbed in a game-impacting way. Even fitz changed to the old jersey last game against Minn after being dragged down by the new techfit variety. We've seen the same thing happen to denard, although he hasn't switched. This is more annoying than anything else, especially to see potential big(ger) gains get stopped shorter than they should because some defender who was beat desperately was able to get a few fingers on some cloth.
We have seen a lot of guys dragged down by the jersey this year, haven't we? Could the Nike zealots have a point all of a sudden?
On OSU timelines.
I’m writing because I am a little confused about the status of the Ohio State Investigation. I understand the NCAA came out with some findings earlier this year, but is that it? Are there still ongoing investigations? When will the findings/punishment be released?
OSU has proposed (laughable) self-sanctions at this point and had their meeting with the NCAA; they are now waiting for the final word. The comparable moment in the stretching Jihad is the middle of last season for Michigan, when they'd proposed and implemented the practice time penalties. Three months later the NCAA slapped on a token extra year of probation and issued their final report. OSU is in that period now.
Their ongoing issues with Posey, et al., complicate things. The NCAA is supposed to get back in 90 days—which would have been in the next few weeks—but has notified OSU that even more cripplingly obvious evidence the Buckeyes lack institutional control will have to be considered and then ignored.
So we just don't know, dude. Hopefully the new information pushes the decision date past the end of the season, just in case the NCAA decides to toss a bowl ban out. I'm actually surprised Gene Smith didn't announce one after the Nebraska game, because there's nothing the OSU athletic department loves more than brazenly late, transparently insincere actions designed to piss off the nation.
On instant replay ritual.
I'm noticing more and more people are saying that when referees say: "The ruling on the field is confirmed" versus saying: "The ruling on the field stands as called", that they mean two different things, as if there's a level of indisputability that you need to "confirm" a call. I think that it's just two equal ways of saying that there wasn't enough indisputable evidence to overturn.
Can you clarify?
They do mean two different things now. The "ruling is confirmed" means the replay official agrees with the call and "the ruling stands" means he just doesn't know, dude. This doesn't prevent replay officials from being violently wrong all the time, as they were when they did not overturn the Hawthorne interception, and still declaring the ruling "confirmed." This is because replay officials are crazy old Estonian men who have never seen football before in their lives.
I THINK I MIGHT BE EXCITED THIS IS 9000 WORDS
NEW! So I've finally decided I'm going to try to hand out +/- for run blocking, which has been a sore spot when it comes to numbers since UFR started. With Michigan running 75% of the time against UConn, I can't just go by gut feel anymore. I've got enough of a handle on it to at least give it a try. I'm adopting the same sort of +/- format Genuinely Sarcastic uses, because that seems like a good idea, and hope he continues doing his version since different eyes will see different things.
Also, Denard Robinson demands some changes to the way UFR does passing. I'm adding a new SCR indicator for a scramble that is clearly a good idea given Robinson's speed and the down and distance situation. A four yard run on third and fifteen is still a TA.
Formation note: UConn didn't seem to do much, if any substitution. By the end of the game it was clear that they essentially had two defenses, a one-high formation…
…and a two high formation…
…and that the only thing that changed other than that was the alignment of the linebackers based on the position of the WRs—when Michigan went to trips a linebacker lined up over the #2 WR. There was a slight variant of the one-high defense deployed when Michigan went to two TE sets that saw one of the linebackers drop down to the line and the others slide over; I called that "Base 5-3," FWIW. As always, nomenclature is an attempt to be clear about what I'm talking about, not a guarantee of fidelity.
Michigan didn't do anything too exciting except debut this formation I called "Shotgun H-back":
Here Martell Webb is lined up as a quasi fullback; usually he would pull to the backside and block the crashing DE, who always crashed on a… wait for it… scrape exchange.
Substitution note: Nothing you don't already know. No substitution on the OL except for Molk's momentary cramp. Robinson and Grady were rotating in at slot frequently even before Roundtree went out, with Robinson seemingly ahead of Grady when it came to PT. Koger and Webb rotated, with Webb more of a blocker and Koger a receiver. Jeremy Jackson got in some spot duty; Je'Ron Stokes did not see the field.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M4||1||10||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||6|
|Basically an iso designed to go just outside the TE; Koger and Dorrestein double and drive back the playside DE, with Koger popping off on the linebacker scraping over the top. McColgan has the short side corner; all these blocks are very well done. Unfortunately Omameh(-1) is overpowered by the DT and lets him into the backfield, forcing Shaw to bounce it outside. This robs Koger of the angle on the MLB and he has a free shot at Shaw for about one; Shaw(+1) spins through the tackle and gets six.|
|RUN+||Koger, Dorrestein, Shaw||RUN-||Omameh(2)|
|M10||2||4||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Stonum||7|
|UConn walks down the strong safety, so the corner on Stonum gives him an eight yard cushion. The quick hitch is open and Robinson hits him in the numbers. Pass was late and from the stands this looked a little dodgy--there will be a couple additional plays like this--but you can't ask for more when it comes to accuracy and velocity. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run?||Scramble||Robinson||9 - 13 Pen|
|Michigan fakes a belly handoff to Shaw, doubling both DTs and hypothetically leaving Shaw one on one with the unblocked MLB. Not a convincing fake. it's supposed to go to a short bubble, but Robinson pulls it down and takes off, zipping by the MLB and scurrying around a safety, finally getting hacked down near the first down marker. Was the bubble open? Eh, probably, but not for 9 yards. Should Forcier have thrown this? Yes. Robinson? Run, jackrabbit, run. (SCR, --, protection NA) Omameh gets a personal foul for a hit well after the whistle.|
|M13||2||14||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||22|
|UConn's nickel 4-3 is a 4-3 with one of the LBs lined up over the #2 WR outside. There are also two safeties about ten yards downfield. Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) execute a classic scoop block, springing Schilling out on the the MLB, who he blocks out of hte play. Shaw(+1) takes out the other LB. Roundtree(+1) cuts a safety. Dorrestein(+1) gets a free release and has no one to block so he just runs downfield walling off the short side corner. A charging safety forces Robinson outside, where the corner manages to make a desperate lunging tackle, preventing an 85-yard touchdown. BWS picture-paged this play.|
|RUN+||Schilling, Molk, Roundtree, Shaw, Robinson||RUN-|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly keeper||Robinson||10|
|This is a variant on the zone read but I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to be yet or who Robinson reads. I think it's the WLB, actually, as Koger kicks out the DE and all the linemen get blocked. Here Huyge(-1) and Schilling(-1) get split by an active DT and Shaw would be dead but Denard(ZR +1) pulls it out. He's now past the slanting DT and Schilling has released downfield along with Molk. Molk(+1) clocks Lloyd. Omameh(+1) controls the other DT and drives him two yards downfield, allowing Robinson to cut back behind when the LB avoid Schilling and Shaw. Dorrestein is again walling off a guy downfield; Robinson cuts behind; Stonum(+1) nails a corner, giving Robinson room to the sideline.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Molk, Stonum, Robinson(2)||RUN-||Schilling, Dorrestein|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||5|
|Michigan blocking the backside DE; they are going to be reading LBs all game. With the WLB crashing down on the stretch, this is a missed read by Denard(ZR-1). Still hypothetically has a shot at succeeding but Omameh's guy has gotten a bit of push and is set up in the B gap; he absorbs Smith's block. Shaw(+1) has nowhere to go and cuts behind blocks into the wide open gap Denard should have taken, managing to fall forward after barely avoiding the guy Schilling was blocking.|
|RUN+||Shaw, Schilling||RUN-||Omameh, Robinson|
|50||2||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Double the playside DT and contain him, run right at the MLB, with Shaw getting a decent block; Robinson runs decisively, taking a hit from said MLB as he bounces off Shaw's block.|
|O46||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Bear 5-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||2|
|Do isos just go in a gap or can that change based on the D? Because UConn slants into this gap, leaving a big hole between Schilling and Omameh that has two linebackers, Molk, and could have McColgan if they went there. Instead it's just straight ahead at because Omameh(-1) and Dorrstein(-1) have lost out on blocks there are two tacklers and nowhere for Shaw to go; Shaw(+1) manages to fall forward for the first.|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||4|
|Not sure if this is the right read or not; DE is sliding down the line but maintaining some contain; definitely a handoff if Forcier, but Robinson? Benefit of the doubt since the DE did hesitate on Robinson. ZR+1. Omameh(-1) blocks down on the DT from an advantageous position and sees his block spun off of, forcing a cut outside where the backside DE is; the delay allows him to tackle. Crashing safety also there, but one-on-one that could have been a play.|
|O40||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA TE cross||Koger||16|
|Zone stretch fake with Schilling pulling around to provide pass protection on the unblocked backside DE. Linebackers suck up like whoah (RPS+2), leaving Koger wide open as the guy who should be covering the zone he's entering is actually trying to tackle Robinson. Dart hits him between the numbers 15 yards downfield, caught, first down. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||-1|
|Frustrating, as UConn has six in the box and literally not enough guys to tackle if they run another draw. This is a stretch, and Robison makes the correct handoff decision (ZR+1) since the WLB is charging right at him. Omameh's(-1) DT does get a little penetration and closes off the frontside B gap, forcing Shaw to cut back; Molk(-1) and Schilling double team the NT and eventually pancake him but don't block anyone else. Blitzing WLB makes the play. (RPS-1) Run minus: Omameh, Schilling.|
|O25||2||11||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10|
|This is just too easy, as UConn does the exact same thing. With two deep safeties and six in the box they literally have no one to tackle the QB. WLB runs into a frontside crease, leaving no one for Shaw to even block until he's ten yards downfield. Molk(+1) controlled and pancaked the playside DT; Robinson and Shaw banged a safety, leaving the slot LB to come from behind and tackle. RPS+2.|
|O15||3||1||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|SIX GUYS IN BOX ON THIRD AND ONE AT THE 15. Edsall derp. A slightly short yardage variation as Molk and Schilling double and crush the playside DT. Weakside LB reacts quickly and defeats Smith's block but has no chance to keep this under three yards, let alone one. RPS+1. Millen's praising Lloyd, and praising him correctly, and this had no chance.|
|O12||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||12|
|Almost all Smith. Schilling(-1) gets driven back and thrown almost into the path of Smith; he ends up with his back to the DT looking at him. On the frontside, Molk and Omameh just manage to wall off the playside DT; Omameh pops off on the charging SLB. Smith manages to slip through this mess into a totally unblocked safety, who misses, at which point he can cut behind Roundtree(+1) and get into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. 108 yard drive with two passes. Bo, man. Bo.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M23||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||4|
|This is on Denard because the unblocked DE was hauling ass after the RB and he needs to pull it out (ZR -1). If he does he has Webb as a lead blocker, Huyge on Lloyd, and the slot LB between him and the safeties--first down probably, touchdown maybe. As it is Shaw(+1) does well to hop around the DE and pick up a few yards.|
|Watching Rice-Texas instead of this play, come back just as Stonum's catching a zinger from Denard. (CA, 3, ?)|
|M32||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|Corner rolled down into the box as a WLB, allowing the LBs to slide over. This lets them send two guys into the hole the draw has gone into already, forcing Robinson behind the ineffective Molk/Schilling double and into the path of the backside DT, who has shucked Omameh; SLB comes up unblocked to fill but not before Robinson's quickness picks up the first. (RPS -1)|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly lead keeper||Robinson||12|
|Same play as the first snap on this drive and Denard has learned (or just been told to pull the damn ball, getting a ZR+1). He yoinks the ball out as the DE against crashes down and finds himself in plenty of space with Webb as a lead blocker. Huyge(+2) gets a great pancake block on MLB Lloyd and Robinson jets past the first down; would like to see him try to set up the safety inside and hop outside in an effort to get a touchdown. Also Odoms does a great, if ultimately irrelevant, job on the outside.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Huyge(2), Odoms||RUN-|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Shaw||16|
|Seven guys in the box now and UConn sends a safety-type player on a blitz. Four men are in a deep umbrella, leaving just two guys underneath, and they don't know where to go because Michigan is sending two OL each way. Michigan hits the flare. Odoms and Dorrestein get cuts downfield; Grady gets a decent block that springs Shaw through, leaving him one on one with a safety for six. Off balance, he can't put a move on and gets tackled. (CA,3, screen, RPS +1)|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||5|
|Essentially an identical play to the first one on the drive, where DE hauls ass after Shaw, Denard makes a bad read (ZR-1), Shaw(+1) evades the DE and hits the backside of the play. This time Denard actually gets out to block, Webb totally walls off the slot LB, Huyge gets another good block on Lloyd, and it's still six yards.|
|RUN+||Shaw, Webb, Huyge||RUN-||Robinson|
|O32||2||5||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||32|
|You cannot draw up a scoop block better than this. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) drive the playside DT back and then Omameh pops out on the MLB. A pulling Webb(+1) wipes Lloyd out, Shaw(+1) takes out the weakside safety type thing and Millen drops "that's six" as Robinson crosses the LOS. He really is a fantastic broadcaster. Replay.|
|RUN+||Molk, Omameh(2), Smith, Robinson, Webb||RUN-|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||15|
|Variant on the belly series from the last drive. On this one Webb pulls to clock the backside DE and Omameh(+1) blocks down on the playside DT; both linebackers have sucked to the backside because they're worried about Denard and not expecting this to go so far off tackle the other way since Shaw is lined up in the belly spot behind his QB. Ton of space; Shaw just runs by the SLB until he's forced inside by the corner. SLB tackles. RPS+1. Don't think this is a read, think this a called play, so no ZR.|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||-3|
|UConn adjusting to this by slanting the DE into the gap instead of letting the OT kick him out. This creates a mess. Denard slows up and tries to cut back, but Omameh(-1) has been driven back and he still tries to go around, eventually getting tackled for a loss. Should have just cut it outside. The evolution of dance here is for Tebow-style play-action fakes that consist of a single step forward. RPS-1. Run Minus: Omameh, Robinson|
|O32||2||13||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Jailbreak screen||Grady||3|
|Fake the flare screen to Shawn and come back with the jailbreak on the other side of the field. This has sucked a lot of people out of position, leaving three blockers and three defenders before Grady is jetting for the endzone. Koger(+1) picks off the slot LB. Molk(+1) blocks MLB Lloyd. Schilling(-1) totally overruns the safety, who tackles unmolested. (CA, 3, protection NA)|
|O29||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||TE cross||Koger||4|
|Not sure how restricted Robinson's read is here, but M is hoping for man and gets zone so Koger gets nailed as soon as he catches it. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 14-0, 13 min 2nd Q. Shankapotamus punt sets M up with good field position on the next drive.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||Reverse||Grady||-3|
|PEDANTRY NOTE: Since the action of the play goes one way with what looks like a QB sweep and then has a pitch to the WR, I'm calling this a reverse instead of an end around. The play: Michigan runs QB sweep action and pitches it to Grady as Koger takes out the backside DE. Problem: this 4-4 has a weakside alley defender like a Kovacs and no one is doing the thing where they run with Stonum on a fly route for 20 yards. This guy bites but is so far to the backside that he can easily recover in time to hit Grady. Grady, for his part, just runs right into the guy when he could have cut it inside and gotten some yards, possibly lots, and then he fumbles. Not a great play for Grady.|
|O41||2||13||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|Best block of the day for Omameh, who gets under the DT and pushes him back a couple yards. LB is flowing downhill at this very fast so Robinson decides to cut back rather than chance a pileup with that guy and Webb at the LOS. Omameh's guy pops off to try to tackle but falls over backwards thanks to Omameh and Denard runs through it; MLB ate Molk(+1) and Denard can fall forward, stiffarming as he falls.|
|Smith runs the flare screen route, Roundtree heads straight downfield, and Odoms slants inside. Denard throws what looks like a dangerous pass, but the safety coming down isn't even looking at Odoms, he's trying to get out for the screen, only realizing his error as the ball arrives. Odoms catches and quicks his way past the safety, picking up the first down and considerably more. With Odoms coming to a stop and a guy in Denard's face he can't wait any longer to make this throw; it is on rhythm. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Omameh -1)|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|Backside blitzer makes this a correct read (ZR+1) Omameh and Schilling(+1 each) successfully crease the DTs, leaving Molk one on one with SLB, who beats him(-1). Smith is tackled by that guy.|
|O15||2||6||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||-2|
|This one also appears designed to go right up the middle, but Omameh(-1) is beaten by the slanting DT and there's nothing. Robinson has a chance to hop outside and maybe beat the backside DE but slips and is tackled for a loss. RPS -1; this slant killed the play. Run minus: Omameh, Dorrestein|
|O17||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10|
|UConn stunting, which takes the playside DE inside. He's walled off by Huyge(+1); Schilling(+1) absolutely blasts the playside DT, erasing him; Smith shifts outside the DE when he sees the way the play is developing; Smith and Roundtree get blocks downfield and it's first and goal.|
|RUN+||Schilling(2), Huyge, Smith, Roundtree||RUN-|
|O7||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||3|
|Correct read with a backside blitz. Schilling kicks out his DT; Molk plows the MLB; Omameh cannot handle his DT, who comes off him to make a play a few yards downfield. Not minus-worthy but I was thinking about it.|
|O4||2||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||4|
|Basically the same play; Schilling(+1) again does a great job of kicking out the DT; Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB, and Omameh does enough on the other guy, falling to the ground but getting in the way of him.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 9 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O8||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|Robinson correctly reads the crash (ZR+1) and pulls it out, finding himself in open space. Huyge can't maintain his block on the outside but he's blocking the handoff so not his fault. Robinson jets for eight.|
|O16||2||2||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|They do get the intended crease this time (no slant from the DE) but the MLB fills immediately, bashing Smith close to the LOS. Robinson(+1) darts around Molk and has the acceleration to dart up into the crease behind him before Omameh's guy can come off and grab him. He does manage to reach out an arm and spin him down.|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||0|
|The read here should be keep but this might not actually be a read since he just ran twice. I have to assume it is, though, so: ZR-1. Smith has no hole because Omameh(-1) did not seal his man; that delay is enough for the backside DE to tackle for nothing. Run minus: Omameh, Robinson|
|O22||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Pass||PA throwaway||Roundtree(?)||Inc|
|UConn blitzes right into this, getting an unblocked guy in Robinson's face before he even has a chance; a slanting player has slashed past the fake run blocks and is also in the backfield. Robinson avoids one guy, then the other guy, in a remarkable Houdini act. With another couple guys coming in to crush him he just chucks the ball hard, deep, and on a line well past Roundtree. Was he trying to complete this? Does he just throw everything like this and has no deep ball? I don't know, but the benefit of the doubt goes to the guy who just escaped two defenders and is chucking the ball away. (TA, 0, protection 0/2, team, RPS-1)|
|O22||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Stonum||4|
|UConn prepared for this, with the SLB in a position where there's no way anyone is going to be able to block him. Stonum(+1) does well to run through his tackle but he can't make the second guy miss. (CA, 3, screen)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||ZR Bubble||Roundtree||-1|
|Denard pulls it out with the DE crashing (ZR+1) but Huyge(-1) and Webb(-1) both have ineffectual blocks so DR goes to his safety valve; Odoms(-1) can handle his guy and it's a loss. (CA, 3, screen) Run minus: Huyge, Webb, Odoms|
|M18||2||11||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Quick out||Roundtree||Inc|
|This is a quick rollout with the two guys running an out and a fly to test the cornerback in a presumed zone; Denard throws the quick out before the play develops, allowing the corner to come up and crush Roundtree, separating him from the ball and knocking him out for the game. Another beat and he would have probably had Stonum, or the corner would have backed off Roundtree. (BR, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M18||3||11||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep hitch||Grady||16|
|Great protection leaves Robinson all kinds of time, and there's a fifth guy spying. Robinson waits for Grady to clear the linebacker level and sit down in the hole in the zone, then zips one in a decent window right on the numbers for a first down. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|Same as previous plays; Webb(-1) just runs by the backside DE; Omameh(-1) cannot contain his man, and both of these guys get arms on Smith at the LOS. He does a good job of running through those tackles and getting a decent gain anyway. Schilling got his guy sealed again.|
|RUN+||Schilling, Smith||RUN-||Omameh, Webb|
|M38||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||3|
|Molk(+1) gets a seal on the stretch block against that DT Omameh's been struggling with as Omameh heads to the second level, where the LB heads outside of him; Dorrestein(+1) pancakes the DE. Robinson should cut it up in between the C and T but heads outside, where Smith manages to wall off the SLB Omameh had no angle on. This leaves an unblocked safety to fill.|
|M41||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Odoms||9|
|Smith runs the flare again, drawing up the WLB and opening a window in which Robinson zings a first down completion. Slightly high, but ok. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||1|
|Correct handoff with a S waiting for him and Webb going to block the crashing DE. Story is again the same: Omameh(-1), even with help from Dorrestein, cannot contain DT99, who forces himself over into the hole, leaving nothing for Smith to do except run up the back of his OL. If I was grading the UConn D he'd be en route to +10 or better. ZR+1. Run minus: Omameh|
|50||2||9||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|No crash; correct handoff(ZR+1). Omameh(+1) does seal and kick the DT this time; they're running it to the opposite side. Unfortunately, Schilling(-1) can't get any drive or seal and Smith has to cut it back; Huyge(-1) whiffed on the SLB. Smith meets two guys two yards downfield and burrows for two more.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Robinson||RUN-||Schilling, Huyge|
|O46||3||5||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||11|
|The flare again sucks a linebacker up to it, leaving Stonum in a big hole in the zone. Zing, bobble, catch, first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Grady||4|
|Safety walks down. This bubble is the short bubble where the receiver does not run the full route in the hopes of finding space between the freakin' out LB over the slot and the interior defense. This not so much. Odoms does manage to cut his guy but a safety charges up as soon as it looks like a bubble and snuffs it out. Michigan will use this later. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O31||2||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||5|
|Dorrestein(+1) cuts the backside DT to the ground, removing him totally. Molk(-1) gets pushed back and Robinson has to cut behind; this open because of the Dorrestein chop. Omameh releases into the second level but ends up blocking no one, which is unfortunate because Denard squeezes through arm tackles only to take his first real shot of the day from a safety a yard short of the sticks.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Dorrestein||RUN-||Omameh, Molk|
|O26||3||1||?||?||?||?||?||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|TV misses this play.|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|This again. Omameh(+1) does get enough of the DT for the RB to skip by; Schilling seals his guy out. Unfortunately Molk(-1) has a really weird whiff where he just runs away from the MLB, the only person he can reasonably expect to block, and that guy tackles.|
|O19||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare||Smith||-1|
|Incorrect read by Robinson as the LB is flying out of the zone and Michigan again has the slant they've worked for a bunch of first downs. He instead throws the flare, getting Smith whacked by the corner. (BR, 3, protection NA)|
|O20||3||7||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||11|
|UConn in zone and does a great job of covering a slant/wheel to the top of the screen Denard is looking at. Same thing on the bottom, same coverage. No one open, he takes off, darting past outstretched hands for the first down. Bonus: Smith's wicked blitz pickup. (SCR, --, protection 2/2)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||5|
|Playside DT just surges forward and falls, almost cut-blocking Molk. A charging LB darts past Webb, leaving two guys for Smith to block on the outside; the DT's fall has provided a cutback lane. Dorrestein(-1) could not cut the backside DT at all so he's there, but Robinson's hesitation move gets him to delay in case he cuts back around him, opening up a hole to dart into.|
|O4||2||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Belly Keeper||Robinson||-3|
|DR seems en route to endzone when he bobbles and drops the ball. Never really had it after the exchange.|
|O7||3||G||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||0|
|Blitz into the play cuts off the outside and gives UConn another guy on the inside to snuff this play out. RPS -1. Michigan will use this later, too.|
|Drive Notes: FG(24), 24-10, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M11||1||10||Ace 4-wide||1||1||4||Base 4-3||Run||Dive||Shaw||5|
|End around fake from Odoms; this is just a straight handoff up the middle. Omameh(+1) and Schilling(+1) crease the DTs and Molk(+1) nails the MLB; OLBs converge to tackle.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Schilling, Molk||RUN-|
|M16||2||5||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||-10|
|Omameh(-2) completely pwned by the DT, who I will name for you at this point: Kendall Reyes. Shaw(-2) compounds matters by dancing backwards instead of just trying to cut behind the mess and get back to the LOS, getting shoved and tackled for a huge loss. Run minus: Omameh(2), Shaw(2)|
|M6||3||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||15|
|A give up and punt play, which is reasonable given the game situation and your sophomore QB. Except, uh? first down. UConn rushes four and has three LBs in the middle of the field. Smith(+1) gets enough of the MLB; Grady and Robinson get in the way, and the other Robinson(+1) gives a tiny hip fake that causes one of the LBs to hop outside the blocker; he continues upfield, getting submarined, flying for the first down, and giving his hip an owie.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Smith, T. Robinson, Grady||RUN-|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Gardner||-4|
|Correct read (ZR+1) as the DE crashes but a terrible decision by Gardner(-2) to attempt to go outside of Koger and his man when the interior line was crushing that side of the line downfield. Koger(-1) also should have done better.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Dorrestein||RUN-||Gardner(2), Koger|
|M17||2||14||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Zone read belly||Smith||13|
|Another good read (ZR+1) with an outside blitzer and the fake is good enough to suck two guys outside and give Smith a big cutback lane he takes. Omameh(+1) crushed Reyes on this play; Dorrestein(+1) sealed off the SLB.|
|RUN+||Gardner, Omameh, Dorrestein||RUN-|
|M30||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Surprise. LBs flying downhill at this, filling the hole, but Koger(+1) and Dorrestein(+1) have doubled the playside DE, driving him well back and giving Robinson a lane outside he takes for the first down. Robinson is too quick for the alley guy. (RPS-1)|
|RUN+||Koger, Dorrestein, Robinson||RUN-|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare||Smith||8|
|Fourth or fifth time they've run this; this time the LB sticks in the middle of the zone and Robinson nails Smith with a perfectly placed touch pass that he can ramble up the sidelines with. (CA+, 3, screen)|
|M42||2||2||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Bubble Post||T. Robinson||43|
|Dorrestein(-1) completely whiffs his cut block as Michigan goes for a fake handoff, then a fake bubble that sucks the UConn linebacker corps to the LOS in a fashion I've never seen before. Robinson has two guys running wide open and picks Robinson's post because it's probably the primary read; he does this with a guy in his face so it's kind of a tough throw. It's on the money 20 yards downfield, providing Robinson the ability to run after the catch, so it gets a DO. (DO, 3, protection 0/1, Dorrestein, RPS+3)|
|O15||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||5|
|Eighth guy in the box is coming down hard in the G-T gap so Smith has to squeeze between the two guards; both have maintained good blocks. At this point the backside DE is crashing in and the eighth guy has adjusted, so the tackle. Smith does a good job of getting some YAC. RPS-1.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Schilling, Smith||RUN-|
|O10||2||5||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-1|
|PA rollout finds no one open for Robinson so he tries to run it; this is well defensed. Good D by Uconn, correct decision by Denard. (TA, --, protection NA)|
|O11||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Smith||11|
|UConn blitzes right into this, and gets DOOM'D for their trouble; you can hear Michigan Stadium go "yeeeeeah" as soon as they see what the playcalls are. RPS+2. There are only two guys to the same side of the field as Smith and four blockers; Huyge(+1) and Odoms(+1) do excellent jobs and Smith can walk it in. (CA, 3, screen)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed XP), 30-10, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M23||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||3|
|UConn is pouring downhill at these so I won't judge too harshly on a drive when Michigan's just trying to put a game that's already put away fully underground. Omameh(+1) gets a good block; Molk's angle out of the line does not take him through defenders, and the crashing DE is crashing so hard Shaw again has to go behind a guy and get what he can, which is three since there are linebackers everywhere. I'm not going to ZR this either because the game's done and Robinson doesn't need more carries.|
|M26||2||7||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||9|
|Okay, I will. UConn pulls an LB down to the line to combat the second TE, Webb(+1) kicks him out. DE crashes, Robinson pulls (ZR+1), Huyge wipes out Lloyd (easy), and Robinson shoots up in the gap provided by Schilling and Webb, cutting behind the SLB after five yards to pick up nine.|
|RUN+||Webb, Huyge, Schilling, Robinson||RUN-|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|Basically same thing as M finally starts testing a UConn D intent on shooting the DE down the line. Here MLB Lloyd is the scrape guy and starts hauling ass after Denard immediately, but Denard just outruns him to the corner easy. Koger got a block on the playside DE. (ZR+1)|
|M43||2||2||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||3|
|Reyes submarines Omameh and falls; Schilling(+1) seals his DT; Molk(-1) whiffs on Lloyd, who meets Shaw a yard past the LOS thanks to the excellent Schilling block; Shaw just blows him and gets the pile to fall the right direction.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||1||2||Base 4-4-||Run||Broken play||Shaw||-1|
|Shaw and Smith bump into each other, almost certainly because Smith gets the wrong playcall. Not going to bother with the blocking because who knows?|
|M45||2||11||Ace||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Pass||Waggle TE flat||Koger||10|
|This sucks the WLB to the fake and gets Koger open in the flat. Robinson gives him a soft toss and he turns it up to get near the first down marker. (CA, 3, protection NA)|
|O45||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|Dorrestein(+1) and Koger(+1) totally obliterate the playside DE, catching the linebackers up in the wash and letting Robinson just run up their backs for five. This is a variant of the regular draw where they're doubling one particular member of the DL on short yardage.|
|O39||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||0|
|At this point I'm not really interested. WOOOOO. Omameh gets the main demerit, but I'm not sure what Molk is doing either? at this point whatever.|
|O39||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||3|
|I understand this blocking so I'll chart it: again with the inside zone; Omameh(+1) gets a goot block; Schilling a bleah but acceptable one; Molk(-1) gets the ole job by Lloyd. Kind of disappointed in Molk's downfield blocking this game.|
|O36||3||7||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stonum||7|
|Simple pitch and catch, well timed if a tiny bit upfield. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||4||1||Ace||1||1||3||Base 5-3||Run||QB sneak||Robinson||2|
|They get it.|
|This is Omameh(-2) getting smoked. Run minus: Omameh(2)|
|Playside DT submarines Molk, taking himself and Molk out and opening a frontside crease. McColgan(-1) makes a really weird decision by hitting one of the contain guys instead of going right upfield and putting his facemask on the MLB's chest. Dorrestein can't cut said MLB and he tackles Smith near the LOS.|
|O26||3||9||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 5-3||Run||Iso||Smith||0|
|Seriously, at this point whatever.|
|O26||4||9||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 5-3||Pass||Waggle hitch||Grady||Inc|
|Can't see this from the tape but I had a good line on this in the stadium and it was open but Denard did not get the ball out fast enough. You can see that Stonum was open on the outside, too. I usually go with IN for balls that aren't bad ideas but are thrown too early/late but with Stonum sitting out there it's BR time. (BR, 0, protection NA)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-10, 2 min 4th Q. EOG.|
I'm dizzy because I keep running around in circles screaming "wheeeeeeeeeeee!" I know it's Thursday, I don't care.
Yeah, let's just get right to the—
Chart. I've included our Denard Robinson All of 2009 chart for comparison:
[Hennechart legend, or hover over the table headers]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?|
Downfield success rate: 68%.
I know. There has never been a UFR passing chart devoid of MAs and INs. The full dossier of things Robinson was dinged for:
- Chucking the ball away deep after escaping two unblocked rushers.
- Running out of bounds for a one-yard sack on a waggle play.
- Throwing a flare instead of a slant and getting Vincent Smith hit for a one yard loss.
- Getting Roundtree killed on an out that he caught until it was violently separated from him.
- Throwing a waggle hitch late on the last offensive play Michigan had.
That's it. The first is a good play. The second was a good decision since he had nowhere else to go and is Denard Robinson approaching the line of scrimmage. The other three were passes as deadly accurate as his other 18 but weren't the best options; only on the last was their any chance of a turnover. Everyone's worried about Tate Forcier transferring because of a lack of playing time… but what about Tacopants? He got zero balls.
UConn's secondary has to be terrible.
Yeah… UConn's secondary is probably terrible. They were starting a bunch of freshmen and failed to take advantage of a couple moments where it looked like Robinson was late on hitches. Also all that other stuff happened. Here is the avalanche of caveats and stern looks designed to keep your pants on—
—or put them back on—
TMI—and put Robinson's performance in perspective. Many of his downfield throws were either simple hitches or the slant/flare combo they ran about eight times where Smith would run a flare route, the linebacker to that side would start charging it down, and Robinson would zing a wide-open slant in the vacated space. Once the linebacker charged it down and Robinson threw the flare for no yardage; once he stayed home and Robinson threw the flare for good yardage. Michigan didn't show a whole lot, and for the most part avoided plays that could be risky.
The only play I gave the hallowed DO other than the wide open TRob (apologies for the use of that annoying shorthand but I'm not going to distinguish between the two Robinsons with full names for the next three years) post was this:
And while that's wicked sweet it's the only time he really fit it in a window. Not that I'm worried about his accuracy anymore*. It's more about what happens when his receivers are covered. Can he come off a primary read? Can he consistently recognize when guys are covered? Can he process information fast enough to get the passes out on time? Answers:
- Don't know, as both times UConn covered the primary read they covered everyone and Robinson ran.
- Don't know. He made three bad reads, but didn't throw anywhere truly dangerous.
- Not consistently yet. Some of the CAs above were late but he got away with them, and the last incompletion was very late.
Notre Dame and their veteran secondary will be another test.
On the other hand, how many times did you see Pat White zinging balls to hopelessly, almost unbelievably wide open receivers? Part of the magic of the offense is that when you can run 70% of the time and still put up first downs and string together long plays, things like that Robinson-to-Robinson pass where there isn't a defender in the same time zone as the receiver happen. The burden on Robinson to read defenses is going to be so much lower than it would be for a Henne or Tate because it's impossible to leave two high safeties against him (or at least a terrible idea) and taking a step forward is the best play-fake in the world.
Also, on third and 11 up 11 with this guy who wasn't even a quarterback last year, Rodriguez let 'er rip. They have some level of confidence there.
More charts! Receiverchart:
An exceptionally unchallenging day, but one on which they made no mistakes. Having Koger go 3/3 is encouraging. The only hypothetically catchable pass that wasn't was the one on which Roundtree got blown up. Hard to blame a guy for that.
PROTECTION METRIC: 12/16, Dorrestein –1, Omameh –1, Team –2.
Low sample size makes it tough to get a read but since the Dorrestein –1 was a failed chop block on the TRob post and the team minus was getting overwhelmed by a blitz into play action the initial returns are pretty good. No minuses from the tackles when they're actually setting up to pass block is win.
Rock-paper-scissors: +13, –7, TOTAL +6.
This may even be pessimistic since I started dinging Michigan points for running the same stuff over and over again when they probably put away the tricks because they didn't need them and I think I even RPS-1ed a successful QB lead draw on third and one because UConn was all over it. Is it really a bad decision if they leap all over it and still can't stop it?
It'll be interesting to watch this over the course of the season—Robinson's promise is that he can drop more RPS+3 plays this year than Michigan has in the last two seasons combined.
All right, now… the run game, which was the bulk of the offense?
Right, so this is the first time I'd ever systematically done this and it could end up being totally whack but here it is anyway:
|Huyge||7||2||5||No pass rush minuses, too. Excellent day.|
|Schilling||13||6||7||Clearly the best interior OL on the day.|
|Molk||10||5||5||Had some downfield whiffs.|
|Omameh||15||16||-1||Major issues with Kendall Reyes.|
|Dorrestein||9||4||5||Couple of pancakes.|
|Gardner||1||2||-1||Should have cut his loss upfield for a big gain.|
|Shaw||7||2||5||Lot of hopping on bad ZR decisions.|
|Grady||1||3||-2||Negs on the bad reverse.|
|Zone Read||10||3||7||Just Robinson. Gardner also had a 2-0-2.|
I have no idea what the context is here and think I should separated out carrying and blocking +/- for the RBs, since the former seems more important than the latter but it essentially bears out what I thought when watching the game. The tackles were surprisingly good but not that involved on a day when Michigan did almost all of its damage up the middle. Schilling took a major step forward, something that's echoed by NFL draft types:
Steve Schilling/G/Michigan: Schilling, who looked liked a star in the making as a freshman, has struggled the past few seasons adjusting to Michigan's motion offense. On Saturday, he showed signs of major improvement in his ability to block on the move and annihilate opponents at the point.
Molk was good but did not execute many of his patented reach blocks because of the interior focus and whiffed on MLBs a bit too often for my tastes.
And Patrick Omameh struggled. 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.
What if Robinson explodes or something?
Well, we're in trouble. This might happen. Quarterbacks get injured frequently. But it doesn't appear that they get injured any more frequently when they run a lot, as MCalibur's diaries have shown. There is a slight increase in injury rate that does not rise to the level of statistical significance, which is to say that the numbers suggest there might be a slight uptick, but the rate at which this happens is low enough that we can't be sure. In any case, an extra 2-3% chance your QB goes down is so worth the added explosiveness a guy like Robinson brings.
Almost everyone to some extent but special mention goes to Robinson (obviously) and Schilling.
The only person who even remotely qualifies is Omameh and even he did all right.
What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?
Next week's game is going to be interesting on the interior of the line since ND is running a 3-4. Omameh won't have a DT lined up directly over him; that will fall to Molk, who will endeavor to put Ian Williams on rollerskates for the third straight year. Williams has supposedly bulked up and didn't spend most of the last year rehabbing a knee so that matchup should be more even. If Molk can win it consistently, Schilling and Omameh will spend most of their time trying to stay in front of Carlo Calebrese and Manti Te'o, ND's MLBs. Those three matchups will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the game. I expect considerably more variation in the run game, with a lot more stretch plays to test the historically immobile Williams.
In the passing game… well, if Notre Dame leaves primary reads open Robinson will hit them. They will probably have an answer to the slant/flare combo that worked so well for Michigan against UConn, but with so few tricks pulled out of the bag in the first game they'll have to deal with a larger than usual set of plays they have not seen before. That combined with Robinson's legs demanding attention should set him up with a large number of makeable throws as long as he's not stuck with long-yardage situations. That goes back to the interior line, then.
We don't know much, but we'll know a lot more after Saturday.