This started out as a focus on a great play that James Ross made en route to 8 tackles and several TFL in less than a full games snaps. Safe to say this kid might be pretty good. Anyways, it somewhat evolved into realizing that however talented and large our interior offensive line may be, they're still developing and gelling this spring. Usual caveats apply, I am not a football coach, just an educated fan and former high school player - let me know if you disagree with any assesments.
Link, thanks to mgovideo, one of the biggest free perks for Michigan fans. Play starts at 1:11
Michigan comes out in what Al Borges would probably draw on the first page of his autobiography: offset I with a tight end (the size of a small tackle) and a full back with his hand on the ground. All that's missing is Funchess lined up next to Lewan with Jake Butt in motion and this would turn into what Al Borges probably dreams about at night. The tight camera angle doesn't show the wide receiver personnel or formation, but I'd bet it's some combo of Gallon/Darboh/Jackson/Chesson based on my memory. Lewan appears to be trying to make a check of some kind, but that's just my hope based on the breakdown that happens on the interior. It was not uncommon for him to make line calls last year apparently, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's still encouraged to do so, if not moreso.
The defense, meanwhile is lined up in basically its base 4-3 under, with Beyer and Ross only slightly outside of their normal positions. Ojemudia is offsides, too. Get onsides there, terminator eyes. Your D-lineman are Ojemudia, Willie Henry (who played a lot), Pipkins and Godin (I think).
As the ball is snapped, it's apparent why James Ross was a half a yard closer to the line of scrimmage than Desmond Morgan - he was real excited about his A-gap blitz. Coach Mattison probably was too. We already see that Kalis is pulling: he's opened up his hips well and his first step is directly for the spot Devin Gardner is vacating. Everyone save Kalis and Williams will down block. Kerridge is headed for Godin. Notice that Miller has his sights set on double teaming Henry despite James Ross and his reckless abandon for the A gap. I think this is the first breakdown, and Miller ends up being a non-factor when he probably could have picked up Ross and turned this into a gain. I think he could be good, this is just a growing pain of a young center in the spring.
As Devin reverse pivots and prepares to hand off to Drake Johnson, most of the offensive lineman have done their road grating jobs. Lewan has joined Braden on Pipkins, and Peewee doesn't have a shot against the All-American and his young giant friend. AJ williams has left Ojemudia for Willie Henry and Schofield is prepared to help see him off. Miller, in hopes of sealing off the back side, has now taken himself completely out of the play as I mentioned. Desmond Morgan has read run as well, but I think he heads for the wrong gap. James Ross is already going to be in Kalis' hip-pocket shortly - that's his guard read anyways. Guard pulls, you run right through where he left straight to the ball carrier. Meanwhile, Morgan should be scraping playside as fast as possible until he sees daylight and or Drake Johnson with the ball.
Kalis has his sights for Brennan Beyer. Schofield has Henry sealed and Williams has left him to chip Ojemudia and keep ole laser eyes away from flying down the line. Ross continues his plan to arrive early for his scheduled meeting with Johnson.
Kerridge has stalemated Godin, Kalis is headed upfield ready to for either Beyer, a hypothetical Desmond Morgan or a safety. But, James Ross is not only deadly, but apparently silent. Kalis needs his head on a swivel here - I have a feeling he got a little excited for 5 yards of momentum and a one-one matchup in the open field. Then again, he thinks the backside should have been handled. Anyways, at this point it's pretty clear to Drake Johnson that things are not going to end positively. Could Braden have left Pipkins earlier and found Ross? Possibly, but I'm pretty sure his job is to donkey the guy who is head up on him until there can be no more donkeying and then find someone else.
Drake Johnson, I have a Mr. James Ross here to see you. Again we see Morgan could've taken a better angle, and if Ross were picked up, there is a lane and a freight train named Kyle Kalis headed downfield.
Two yard loss.
P.S. Devin please calm down when celebrating and wrap yourself in bubble wrap.
900. 68-32-5. 113,833. 12-0. 40-3.
Those are the most important numbers this weekend, and only one of them showed up in the boxscore. 900, of course, is the total number of wins that the University of Michigan football teams 1 through 133 have accumulated. That's against only 312 losses and 36 ties. Michigan State, by comparison, has 629 wins. That's more than I thought, but still, cue Nelson Muntz:
68-32-5 is our record against MSU. My dad is always ready to answer two questions. One, "how many days are there to kickoff?" and, two, "What is Michigan's record against MSU?" That's a helpful way to survive living in East Lansing. It's nice to see that 67 change to a 68. Let's not wait that long to make it 69.
113,833 was the attendance for the game. It was the third most attended game in Michigan history, which makes it the most attended game in MSU history. 12-0 is now Brady Hoke's record as head coach at Michigan Stadium. He's given us a few scares over the past season and a half, but so far, he remains perfect.
40-3 is the record of the team that gained the most yards rushing in this game, in the last 43 games. For some reason, the TV-types have chosen to look at the past 43 games which coincides with the number of games I've been alive for. Maybe that's why I'm a defense-loving, MANBALL enthusiast. OK, you've been patient enough. Here's your link.
Burst of Impetus
* Holy impetus, Batman, where do I begin? After two conference cakewalks, we had to battle down to the last 0:05 seconds. However, I didn't get the feeling that either team ever got much momentum going. The defenses were just too strong.
* That said, there were several plays where momentum COULD have been seized, for example, if we had recovered either of State's fourth quarter fumbles, I thought we could have put them away. If Toussaint or Robinson's long runs had gone to the house, we might have broken them. Instead, we had to settle for FGs.
* State's fake punt was a huge play, but they lost the game, didn't they, so I guess it wasn't that big. Suck it, Dantonio.
* Defensively, the Kovacs interception was big, but the biggest play of the game was 3rd and goal, when State ran to the wide side of the field and our defense knocked Bell out of bounds short of the goal line. Last year, they scored TDs twice (I believe) on similar plays. Not this year.
* Le'Veon Bell was held to 68 yards on 26 carries, for a 2.6 YPC average.
* I remember in Ron Dayne's Heisman season, when he gained 1800+ yards and was in total beast mode all season, we held him to 88 yards. Le'Veon Bell isn't Ron Dayne, but he is one powerful runner, and the Michigan Defense shut him down.
* 19 players registered a defensive stat, lead by Desmond Morgan with 11 tackles. Keep that up, and we're going to forget all about Gerald WhatsHisName...
* Ryan was second with 10 tackles. I'm thrilled that sparties around sparty nation - basically East Lansing and parts of Bath, Pewamo and Westphalia - are dreading that they have to face Morgan and Ryan for two more years.
* Ryan got the lone sack on the day and forced one of State's two fumbles.
* Dernard carried 20 times for 96 yards, for a 4.8 YPC average, helped out immensely by his 44 yard run. I know we want Denard to stay healthy, but in the 4th quarter against state, I want every yard we can get. The plays following his long run backfired and we were left with no choice but to punt.
* Denard didn't quite get to 50% passing, but he did just enough for us to win, and avoided the costly turnover. (The one INT was at the end of the half, and basically meaningless.)
* The TEAM had one incomplete pass. I don't remember the TEAM throwing that pass.
Bunches of Funchess
* Dileo was the star of the day with 4 catches for 92 yards.
* Fitz caught 3 passes for 2 yards. Ugh. The last one he should have let fall to the turf. Instead, the clock kept running and we had to burn our last timeout.
* Funchess only caught one pass and wasn't a big part of the offense. That was basically true for all the younger guys. Brady and Borges put this game in their veterans hands, and they came through.
And Justice for Rawls
* Last week, I asked for suggestions for this section title. I was thinking of going with a Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis inspired name, and call it FitzJustice Smith-Rawls. I emailed that to my brother and he responed with "And Justice for Rawls." It seems fitting, considering how much time we wasted playing air guitar to that album.
* The section title would have worked a lot better last week, when Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls actually got some carries, but at least between this and Bunches of Funchess, I've got two sections covered for a few years.
* Fitz chipped in 52 yards, most coming on a 38 yard run. I had nightmares last night of Fitz getting the ball 6 yards behind the LOS, and immediately facing two spartan defenders.
* Vincent Smith had one huge 12 yard gain late in the game, where Borges went against tendency and actually ran someone other than Fitz or Denard.
Norf and Souf
* Punts were 7-290 for State, and 7-295 for us. They did have a slightly longer net, FWIW. Each team only returned one punt.
* Norfleet had one KR for 21 yards.
* Over the years, it seems the one advantage State has consistently had over us was in the kicking game. This goes way back to Morten Andersen. But this time, we hit the long FG, we made all our attempts, and they missed an easy one.
* We had Witvoet's crew for the game. After calling a penalty on State, he let Hawthorne have it. I'm not sure what Brandin did, but I'm just glad he didn't draw an unsportmanlike penalty call.
* The officials let it be known early that they weren't going to stand for any shenanigans this year, calling Lewan for a somewhat touchy late hit. I wish they would have sent a message by calling a penalty on the team responsible for all the shenanigans last year, but they kept things under control, so no complaints.
* Penalty yards were roughly even, 50 for them, 55 against us.
* I thought they let the defensive backs play aggressively, which I'm fine with, but that seems to benefit State's defensive approach more than ours.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
* First downs were even, 16-16. Each team had 7 rushing, 8 passing and 1 by penalty. Yeah, it was that close.
* Even though the rushing first downs were even, because of the two long runs, We outgained them on the ground 163-112, and as a result, won the game. History don't lie.
* Turnovers were even (Boy, do I feel like I'm repeating myself) at 1 apiece, but their's was much more costly.
* Third down conversions were almost the same, as they were 6 of 17 (~1/3) and we were 5 of 15 (exactly 1/3.)
Outside the Boxscore
* A win is a win, and this was a particularly huge one, but I'm a little concerned about the mental errors late in the game. Roundtree had a false start penalty, Fitz caught that pass with 19 seconds left, the punt defense let a gaping hole open for state's punter, and the guys had a penalty for excessive celebration at the end. I'm sure Brady will address these and other points this week. The Legends Division is there for the taking, but we've got to cut out the mistakes.
* With about 8 1/2 minutes left in the game, I saw Lloyd Brady for the first time this season. Lloyd, where have you been? At that point, I knew we were going to win, because even AIRBHG isn't mean enough to make Lloyd Brady sad. That would be like kicking a cat or something.
Announcers’ Derpity Derp
* Glen Mason claimed that Dantonio called a timeout to remind his defenders not to "rough the holder." After thinking about it for second, I figured he was probably correct, because you can never be sure about who sparties are going to rough.
* Can they just replace Glen Mason with J Leman, is that possible?
Now that’s more like it.
Burst of Impetus
- Before checking the boxscore, I thought that Purdue wasn’t as bad as the score indicated, and that the game came down to a couple key fourth down plays. I mean, we only had four more first downs than them, 19-15. However, I quickly came across the “TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS” line which showed MICH 409, PUR 213. Yeah, we crushed them.
- The 4thdown plays were still key to setting the tone early. On Purdue’s first drive, they were stalled at their own 34, 4thand 1. They could have made a statement there. They punted.
- On our first drive, we stalled at their 22, 4thand 4. That’s 5 yards within Gibbons range, as we later found out. We could have put some points on the board and been happy. Instead, Brady made a statement. You cannot stop us. Denard to Gardner for 8 yards and the drive continues, leading to an eventual TD.
- Fast forward to the 2ndquarter, now Purdue has 4thand 1. This time, Hope goes for it. The ball bounces off the receiver’s hands, into the awaiting arms of Raymon Taylor, who Rayces into the endzone for six. UM 21, Purdue 0, game effectively over. And if it wasn’t over then, the fumble on the ensuing kickoff confirmed to Purdue that it just wasn’t going to be their day.
- Have I mentioned before how much I love good defense? We held TerBush and his brother Akeem and his other brother Akeem to 213 yards. (Nothing racial intended here, just playing off of the, “I’m Larry, and this is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl” from the old Newhart show. The theme of this season is rapidly coalescing around old sitcoms.)
- Purdue was 1 of 11 on third down and 1 of 3 on fourth down. When we had an opportunity to get off the field, we did.
- 22 players show up in the defensive stats, including the mysteriously named, “TEAM” with ## “TM.” TEAM had 1 solo tackle.
- Demens, Ryan, and Morgan all lead us in tackles with 6 apiece. Notice something about that, they’re ALL linebackers!
- We had 6 TFLs, 2 INTs, 3 pass breakups (2 from J.T. Floyd) and 2 sacks.
- Neither team recorded a QH.
- There was a thread earlier this week about Kovacs’ tackle totals. He only had 1 this week. He basically wandered around centerfield watching everything happen in front of him. That’s how impressive our defensive performance was.
- Denard ran 24 times for 235 yards. His one TD rushing was not awarded by some weird replay officiating. The Purdue catch was conclusive enough to be overturned, but Denard’s TD wasn’t?
- Denard averaged 9.8 yards per carry with a long of 59 yards. It seemed like Purdue’s gameplan was to not let Fitz beat them again. OK, fine. Let Denard run for 235. Had Denard kept on all the handoffs to Fitz, I bet he could have run for 400 yards. He set some records or something. What else is new.
- Denard didn’t throw any interceptions, and actually threw a ball out of bounds. Whoo-hoo!!!
Bunches of Funchess
- Gardner’s TD reception was smoooth.
- Denard completed one pass on 3rdand 11 to Funchess. It was behind him, much like the throws against ND that were deflected and picked off, but Devin reached back with one giant meathook and snagged the ball out of the air. First down Michigan. On the next play, Toussaint scored making it 14-0.
- Gallon lead with 3 receptions for 37 yards.
- Purdue was the more interesting team at least in this regard. They had a 4D, 2D, and a 7D record tackles, they wore pink for awareness, and their students raise shoes during kickoffs. What is that all about?!?
- They also have players named Akeem, Akeem and Raheem, and Bush and TerBush.
- On defense, they have Kawann Short (pronounced KAY-wann, and all this time I thought it was Kah-wann,) Schmeig, and a Higgs. I hope they recruit a Boson for next year.
Norf and Souf
- Norfleet continues to impress with his “get as many yards as you can, as quickly as you can” approach.
- Apparently, we don’t like punting in Indiana. After punting once against ND, we did not punt in the first half. In the 2ndhalf, Hagerup boomed a 57 yarder.
- Gibbons doinked one off the cross-bar from 44 yards. He made his three other attempts from 27, 29, and 42 yards. Two FGs from <30 yards? That score could have been a lot worse.
- Dileo had a punt return for 10 yards. I like the fact that they are putting a 2nd guy back there to prevent the "punt plus roll" which usually costs another 10-20 yards.
- Wile only had 1 touchback out of 9 kickoffs. While that did lead to a Purdue fumble, it seemed odd not watching him kick it 5 yards into the endzone.
- This was at least our second game with LeMonnier’s crew. Very few penalties were called. They basically didn’t factor in the game, and for that, we can be grateful.
Outside the Boxscore
If it’s true that defense wins championships, I like what these scores say about our ability to win the Legends division:
- MSU 31, IU 27, yeah, they beat IU, but they gave up 27 points
- PSU 39, NorU 28
- OSU 63, NebU 38
- Iowa 31, CMU 32 (Iowa had a bye, so we get to relive the CMU shocker for another week. Heck, let's relive this all season long.)
- Minn 13, Iowa 31, after getting beat by Central, Iowa blows out Minnesota.
- OSU and PSU are probably the two best teams in the Leaders division, and both are ineligible for the championship game. This is the year to win the Legends if you want a cakewalk in the championship game.