Mike Spath points out that doing an interview for the official site is a pretty good indicator he'll be back.
So this is the last post in the JeepinBen Holiday Content Creating Blitz... but over at Maize Pages:
there's a good writeup on VaTech's defensive front 7. The gist is that VT is slightly undersized most places, but fast and athletic.
There's a lot of real insight as well, and I dunno how many people know of Maize Pages, but hey, everyone's on vacation and looking for MOAR content, check it out, you won't be disappointed. Just a snippet below:
"Because of Denard Robinson’s running ability, Foster could implement what he did against Georgia Tech by moving Collins to defensive tackle and substituting Tyrel Wilson in his spot. Wilson is perhaps the smallest defensive end one will see in FBS, standing at 6-1 and weighing only 220lbs. With that said, Foster likes the redshirt sophomore’s added speed and agility at the position and feels he is a weapon in containing speedy quarterbacks. On the season, Wilson has 29 total tackles with 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss."
There are also writeups on the other position groups (save the seconday) on the page I linked.
Happy holidays all,
Programming note: Next week will be pretty busy with thanksgiving break and all, so I'm gonna go ahead and put up all my OSU stuff this week. The Nebraska game wrap might be a week late too, especially if we don't win.
Old Scouting Report is Old
There are just way too many red and white teams in this league now.
I had watched this game when it happened and had written up some notes and was planning to post it after the MSU game, but then I spent the week cursing at inanimate objects and hoping MSU's random bands of roving thugs would target Gholston.
There's been a lot of personnel changes since then so I've thrown out the old notes and started from scratch.
Both teams were coming off loses, Nebraska had just been blown out by Wisconsin thanks to a handful of Martinez interceptions and OSU had been blitzed to death by sparty. You can see the effect of both those games on some of the early playcalling in this one.
OSU on offense
No Dan Herron, and Shugarts hadn't gotten hurt yet. The offense was all about Hall and Stonebrunner and Miller's legs until he got hurt.
Miller is a scrambler
Like I said in the QB comparisons, Miller is more of a natural scrambler rather than an option runner.
On this play, the left side of the Nebraska D-line is going to stunt to get pressure on third down.
There's a missed holding call, but whatever. The DT gets around and tries an outside speedrush against Shugarts
This is a mistake against Miller. You want to keep him in front of you and don't open up big lanes like this. As soon as he feels the end rushers go past him, his first instinct is to scramble upfield. If you rush under control, he'll scramble laterally and can be coralled for a sack.
MSU had a lot of success the previous week by timing the snap and sending blitzers up the A gap. Nebraska tried it early, but didn't really get there because their timing wasn't as good. After this play they didn't really blitz much until Bauserman was in the game.
This is a 6 man blitz with one of the linebackers dropping into coverage.
There's a little bit of a twist going on with the right DE, but this was a called QB lead draw all the way. The blitzer gets blocked by the RB and Miller jabs his back foot and is off into the secondary.
Without any LBs on that side and the secondary playing man coverage, this turned into a big run for MIller.
This play shows just how quickly Miller will bail on a play. It's just a flare to hall at the top of the screen, but the Nebraska rusher gets a good bull rush.
When the defender jumps, Braxton decides he's seen enough and pulls down the ball.
Instead of looking for another target, he tucks the ball and runs.
Hyde got a lot of carries in the early part of the season when both Hall and Herron were doing their NCAA penance. That's dropped off considerably since Herron came back. He's got good straight line speed, especially for being a larger back, but his vision isn't very good. He's like Stephen Hopkins but with more speed. He still gets some duty on kickoffs, but mostly as the lead blocker for Hall.
You can see OSU's commitment to zone blocking on this play. It looks like a lead play because of the FB, but Hyde's route on the handoff indicates that he's free to pick whatever hole opens up. At the snap, all the motion is to the left. The Nebraska D-Line responds by moving with the slanting linemen. Miller does a reverse pivot.
But Hyde's aiming poing is not following Boren, the FB, instead he's aiming for the center of the line and bending back against the grain. For some reason, nebraska has a DB playing backside contain, and the Will linebacker has been fooled by Boren's path.
That DB doesn't understand "run fits" so he wasn't flowing the the D-Line and there's a huge gap between him and the DE that Hyde thanks him very much for. The weakside LB has over run the play and can't get back to make an arm tackle. Once Hyde gets past those two, he's pretty much untouched all the way to the endzone.
Throwback to Stonebrunner
With Corey Brown out and no one sure what Devier Posey will do, the RB's and Stonebrunner will be the focus of the passing game. This throwback screen should look familiar to Michigan fans, with the exception of the TE getting the ball instead of Vincent Smith.
Miller is going to roll out to the right while the O-line shows pass blocking.
Stonebrunner does an excellent job of selling the block and the OLB is completely caught flatfooted.
Stonebrunner comes off of contact and opens up for the pass, it's the center that gets the OLB and the other interior linemen are heading downfield
The blocking is setup well and Stonebrunner has enough speed for an easy 30+ yard TD
Nebraska on offense
Nebraska does a lot of different things on offense. They have the spread/zone read stuff, the power running game, and also the veer option offense. Burkehead will even get back in the shotgun to run some wildcat, probably because he's better at READING on the zone read plays than Martinez.
After taking a lot heat for the interceptions against Wisconsin, you got the feeling that he started out the game a little gunshy against TSIO.
That's his passing chart with about 4 minutes to go in the first half. Nothing deep or risky, and a double digit deficit to show for his 100% completion percentage. So Nebraska gets the ball realizing they've got to pass deep to soften up the defense.
This is Martinez trying to throw a deep ball.
And this is the result. That receiver is kinda open. I mean, yes, he's got 4 guys around him, but none within a 5 yard radius. Nebraska fans understand our pain when it comes to armpunts.
Where Martinez is realy dangerous is when he gets to accelerate straight ahead. This is a midline option keeper even though it looks like an outside zone read. You can tell by the pulling guard who goes off tackle. I think the sideline tells Martinez before the play whether or not to keep the ball on most plays. That would explain a lot of his "bad reads" and it makes sense that Bo Pelini would be a control freak (see below).
Burkehead's fake holds the contain man. The pulling lineman takes out the LB and the rest of the O-line is getting a good push up the middle.
This is the kind of run that Martinez loves. He's not the kind of guy that will cut back across the entire field, but he's very good at reading the blocks in front of him and making quick cuts without losing any speed.
Inverted T series
The way you design an offense is that you have a series of plays that work together or are out of the same formation. Sometimes during the game you have to scrap a series if the first couple plays don't work. But if the first play works for a big gainer, you can expect the defense to adjust and that opens up the companion plays.
Nebraska stumbled across such an opportunity in the middle of the 3rd quarter with this Inverted T formation. Some people call this a Diamond, but with the QB in the shotgun it looks more like a "T" to me. But the stumpy part is away from the LOS so I call it inverted. Here's what the standard T form looks like.
This is just a power sweep option. The odd thing is that Burkehead has a longer ways to go to get to his block, but he's a fast guy, so it's not a problem. The neat thing about this formation is that you can envision all kinds of counters and double option plays where the person in #2's position can pitch it to Burkehead or handoff to the the other HB coming back on the counter.
OSU is overreacting the motion and the whole right side of the defense is flowing. Ironically, the backside of the defense isn't reacting enough and the result is a gaping hole down the middle of the field.
I don't the think DE ever actually saw the ball because he keeps running with #2 even after Martinez zooms past him.
Against a normal QB, the safety and LB should have been able to stop this for a large gainer, but because they reacted slowly and because Martinez is already up to full speed, he blows by them like they're standing still.
From the endzone shot you can see just how wide open that running lane was.
A little later, they come back to the same formation, but this time the give is called. It doesn't work as well because the ball is on the hash and they're running into the sideline. But the point is to see how the defense has adjusted. The weakside linebacker is way closer to the play this time and #7 Howard is up in bump and run to take on the blocking in case there's a counter or reverse coming.
The DE is completely befuddled by this play. He's nowhere near the mesh point so he can't help on a Martinez keep. He's pointing out Burkehead to .....uh.... And he's not quick enough to get #2.
Again the backside has been completely sealed off, and Martinez woulda had plenty of room for a big gain if not enough for a TD like before. But I'm getting more convinced that he's not actually allowed to "read" the play. As it is, this play gets about 10 yards which coulda been a lot more if they hadn't run into the sideline.
A little later comes the payoff. They've got bump and run on the short side and they give them the same backfield motion.
But if the LB's and Safeties had been reading the O-line better, they'd have seen this was a pass.
Martinez drops a couple steps to give his receiver time to get open.
And the safeties are both dead. It's interesting that they run the same route with both WR, this shows a kind of lack of sophistication in the passing game. And it's only a 2 man route. But both WR had gotten a step on the DB's and this play get's Nebraska back within one TD.
He's not the fastest guy, but he's a solid football player. Martinez is probably more dangerous, but you've got to stop Burkehead first to slow down this offense.
This is an inside zone that should look pretty familiar to michigan fans. the H-back is coming across to either block the DE or go out in a pass route. There's also some bubblesceen motion with the slot receiver.
The DE is crashing hard and the H-back completely misses him. Martinez either missed the read, or it was a give all the way called by the sideline. .
If Martinez had kept it, there was a lot of open space once he cleared the DE. The lead blocker would have taken out the safety, 54 is taking to strong of an angle, and the other DB is too concerned with the bubble to have stopped Taylor. Instead #94 gets the TFL on Burkehead since #93 had gotten good penetration and Burkehead had to stop his feet.
On the game tying TD, Burkehead showed a nice jumpcut. (If you're not sure what a jumpcut is, here's a nice example of Miller doing one.) He gets the ball on the flare after Martinez scrambles around a bit to avoid the pressure.
The DB had him lined up for a big hit, except he jumps out of the way.
And with the big blitz called, the rest of the secondary is in tight man coverage and Burkehead has no one between him and the endzone.
So it was raining off and on during that game, which led to some amusing moments and a lot of slipping.
Martinez's throwing motion is even uglier when he's falling down.
Both sides were having trouble with it.
And Miller turned his ankle as he slipped on a cut.
Then Bauserman came in and promptly did this.
At least on that previous picture he was under pressure. On this one he's got no one to blame but himself.
That ball is JUUUUUSSST a bit overthrown.
Ok, maybe a bit more. But if you're wondering about the genesis of the the Bauserman Passing Chart, it was probably this play.
- Bo Pelini has anger issues.
"Not such a great passer, but dangerous running the ball"
To the casual fan, it's easy to think that these three QB's have a lot in common, but the fact of the matter is that they are very different in their styles. They have different strengths and weaknesses that have as much to do with their football IQ and personality as their athletic ability
Taylor is the only one of the three to enjoy a redshirt season and the only one who hasn't had a change of head coaches. Because of that, he has slightly less playing time than Denard, but more time in the same system.
Taylor likes to run. He's got great acceleration and gets up to full speed in a hurry. He runs with urgency. He's not afraid of contact and will get north and south to maximize yards. He will try to run through small creases.
Shoulder shake. He likes to keep both hands on the ball as he's running and so his shoulders are naturally moving back and forth. He doesn't have elite change of direction but is quite shifty and has quick feet.
Most Dangerous Running Play:
Veer Option. He has a good sense of when to hold and when to pitch. He will hold the ball and suck in the defender before pitching late. He is good with the fake pitch to open up running lanes for himself.
Honarable Mention: Midline option keeper.
He keeps the ball too much on zone read plays. Against Penn State, he misread several zone read options like he had already decided to keep the ball.
He has a bit of a sidearm motion. He likes to zip the ball in on a frozen rope. Doesn't show much touch. Not a great scrambler, he doesn't have the strongest arm and can't get much velocity on the ball when his feet aren't set. He's very inaccurate on deep balls, especially deep sideline routes.
Most Dangerous Passing Play:
Intermediate in's and crossing routes. He's not very good at hitting receivers on the fly so he likes to have a nearly stationary target to throw at. Because of his low trajectory, he needs clear passing lanes and a direct line of sight to the receiver.
How to defend:
Attack Martinez with a free rusher. Assume he's going to keep the ball on 60% or more of the option plays, and force early pitches by commiting to hitting the QB. (Like Jake Ryan did on Sheelhaassseeee last week).
On passing downs, try to get underneath zone coverage in the passing lanes. Try to make him throw over a linebacker. And the coverage should flow to the rollout side.
Braxton played in a shotgun passing spread offense in Highschool. He's a true freshman pressed into duty because Terrelle Pryor is stupid and never met a handout he wouldn't take, and also because Joe Bauserman just sucks.
So, he's been learning a lot this season about things that worked in H.S. but don't work as well in college. He is also without any experienced receivers until Posey gets back this week, so we'll have to see how much that affects his game.
He's like a gazelle. He runs away from danger. He has exceptional speed. He likes to improvise and runs on his instincts. He will not force himself to go where the play is designed to go. Very dangerous once he breaks contain.
He runs around like he thinks other people can't catch him, but this is only sometimes true at the college level.
The reverse cut and the jump cut. He will go backwards to make people miss and has enough acceleration and speed to make it pay off enough times that his coaches let him keep doing it. He has elite change of direction, great balance, and will duck under tacklers who go too high.
Most Dangerous Running Play:
QB lead draw. He does not like to run through tight spaces and traffic. On the draw play, if the DE's rush past him, his instinct is to head upfield. He's very dangerous in space. If it's 3rd and long, there's a high probability that the lead draw has been called.
Honarable Mention: Scramble
Inexperience. He does not read blocking very well. He will cut back against the grain even when there are decent holes in front of him. Even if a guy is blocked, his instinct is to run away from traffic.
He doesn't read the zone option or the pitch option very well.
Not as bad as advertised. He doesn't throw a tight spiral, so the ball will flutter on him. This causes inaccuracy, especially on deep routes. But he has better touch and a better throwing motion than Martinez. His low completion percentage is due more to the lack of talent at WR, and his inexperience rather than his arm.
Most Dangerous Passing Play:
Wheel route to the RB's. Boom Herron and Jordan Hall are the biggest threats when Miller isn't running. All eyes will be interested to see what kind of impact Devier Posey will make this week (and then we'll wonder about how much money he made for the game).
Honarable mention: Throwback screen and short routes to Stonebrunner
How to defend:
Corral him on the pass rush and play coverage. (May I suggest man-free). This is not the game for speed rushes around the outside. I'd blitz him up the middle and have the the DE's stay home (like what MSU did). He will cut back into free pursuing defenders if you give him the chance. The pass rush needs to be under control so that you make him move laterally without losing contain.
Anyone reading this blog probably already knows everything they need to about Dilithium, but just to complete the comparison. here goes...
Patience with great vision. Denard is a team player and he relies on his blockers to open up running lanes for him. He has elite speed and elite change of direction. He has been a little more tentative in traffic this year, but is a determined runner on the goal line and is able to avoid the really big hits.
He is better at reading the zone read than the other two guys.
He is not a great improvisor and will not cut back all the way across the field by giving up yards. He usually makes a few cuts and then heads to the sideline or upfield.
Being fast. Denard doesn't do a lot of shake and bake, instead he just changes direction quicker than the defenders are able to.
Most Dangerous Running Play:
QB power lead. With the defense spread out, if the two running backs are good blockers he's a threat to go all the way on any play where every defender is accounted for.
Honarable Mention: Inverted zone read.
He does not have a good feel for when to pitch and when to keep of veer or triple option plays. He tends to get injured often over the course of the season.
He has a very strong arm but struggles with footwork. He is very accurate when his feet are set. But he has trouble with his deep accurace when on the rollout. When he scrambles, he's looking to pass. This has evolved a lot and is almost a 180 from his freshman year. He's very good on seams and jump balls.
Most Dangerous Passing Play:
QB dive pull-up. (a.k.a. the "QB, OH NOES!") Has excellent touch throwing while running forward in a fluid motion.
Honarable mention: The throwback screen
How to defend:
This weekend, I took a trip to Happy Valley. Yes, your read that right. Why, you ask? This had been planned for months as a good time to visit a friend in grad school there on a Michigan away game week, that conveniently matched up two good teams that should've been talking about a rematch from their last contest and the possible budding of a new rivalry. My ticket was purchased, my friend expected me, so I went. I'll delve a little into the awkwardness of everything but mostly wanted to give an in person preview of what Michigan can expect when Nebraska comes to Ann Arbor in a few days.
The tailgating to start the day was more than slightly subdued. Sure, they still had beer, brats and music, but it did not feel like a matchup between two ranked teams vying for a possible path to the inaugural B1G Championship game. Appropriately so given the awful tragedies that had taken place. How much was out of respect for the kids and how much was the fact that they missed JoePa is up for debate, but I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt and lean towards the former. Those of you that watched the game on TV likely saw the pregame honoring of the victims, which was done quite well. When the teams met at midfield to pray, you could faintly hear the man speaking at the 50 from 20 rows up around the 5 yard line. It was that silent. Small groups of people tried to start chants but were appropriately shushed. The crowd eventually got impatient and started a slow clap, which was not really disprespectful but did somewhat dampen an otherwise nice moment. As the game started, there was cheering from the student section, but it all felt quite hollow, as it should have. Late in the game it got as loud as I assume Beaver Stadium normally gets, but only for a brief period of time. Overall, the weirdest and most awkward game I've been to by a longshot. Downright eery. Anyways, on to football things.
Taylor Martinez - boy oh boy is it tough to watch him throw. But you already knew that. What perhaps you didn't know is that every throw he makes is a frozen rope about 6 feet off the ground. And this is not a good thing for him. It appears that his chicken wing delivery doesn't afford him the ability to put any touch on his throws. If I were the coaching staff, I would put a tremendous amount of emphasis on the D line getting their hands up. Having not watched a ton of their offense this year, I was suprised to see how often they went to the air early. It appears that their game plan was to try to relax Penn State's stout defense, then run the ball late. They stuck with the passing game despite its ineffectiveness for quite a long time.
Rex Burkhead - Quick as hell and incredibly frustrating to try to stop. They frequently will line up in the I and have Burkhead and Martinez switch places. Burkhead is such an effective runner and Martinez such a terrible passer that it sometimes feels like they should do this permanently. He's a decisive runner with solid vision and decent power who always seems to fall forward. They've got a power runner whose name escapes me that they used in goal line. He's effective.
The punter - Yea, the punter. He's the third player I'm talking about. The punter. He's that good. He's like the space emperor. He can coffin corner better than anyone I've seen in a long time and he'll bomb it as well. Someone nearby asked what the name for the punter of the year award in college football was and suggested it be renamed after the Nebraska punter.
Nebraska's corners - they're good. It's hard to tell how much of Penn State's ineffectiveness passing was due to McGloin - or, as he's known, "The Scranton Slinger", and how much was due to the corners, but I felt like receivers were consistently well-covered. Penn State doesn't have world beaters, but Moye is a solid receiver and I often watched him get locked down. Obviously everyone knows about Alphonso Dennard, and he was as advertised. The rest of the secondary was also great, though.
I had more to say, but my memory escapes me on a few of my mental game notes. Overall, Nebraska definitely seems beatable. They execute the triple option damn well, and can eventually burn you with it, but their offense feels like a middle of the road B1G one, and I think the statistics bear that out. Their defense is meh, but the secondary does worry me. An ability to lock down several receivers with man coverage could pose problems. This will definitely be a game where I'd like to see a lot of 4 wide with zone running. Getting into an Ace formation and the like and running play action pass probably won't fly as they'll be able to both confidently load the box and shut down whoever is on the outside.
Don't have time to do a full write up and the game with NW is tomorrow anyway so here's some random observations
- Active front seven, not very large.
- Lots of blitzes
- They like 3 man fronts on passing downs, looked like some 3-3-5 with delayed blitzing (I hope they do that against us, Denard and Vincent will eat that up all day)
- Lots of coverage breakdowns
- Not a lot of elite speed anwhere except the one CB
- One of their safeties got dinged up, wasn't all that great before the injury
- Good tackling from their front seven, pretty decent against the run
- Losing Trumpy is a big loss for them, was a big part of their offense
- #9 is essentially and H-back with a little more speed, lines up at WR and all over the place
- Persa throws a nice fade, but the WR's are really dominating
- Persa looks a little down on acceleration, injury might still be bothering him
- #11 Ebert is their main receiver
- QB Coulter at 100% looks better than Persa at 80%.
- Offense is basically same as RichRod's
- #99 Buchanan is a player to be concerned with
- B1G worthy front seven
- Not very impressed with their left tackle
- Sheelhaus (sp? who cares) is more of a touch passer, not great zip on his balls. But he's got good ball handling skills, good playfakes.
- Sheelhaus is better rolling to his right than his left
- He also throws a nice corner route against the zone
- #8 Jenkins is their main receiver, deep corners and deep crossing routes
- #80, tall receiver, good hands
- Never go for 2 early in a highscoring game (unless you're a team like oregon that always goes for two)
As long as passing Denard is on target and we get a good game from our CB's, we should beat NW by a few TD's.
The defenses are yelling spoon!
And the offenses are the little guy pleading "Not in the face! Not in the face!"
This was a fun game to watch if you don't like either of the teams. Both teams have pretty good defenses and horrible, horrible offenses. MSU's only threat is B.J. Cunningham and OSU's passing offense is reminiscent of 2008 Michigan (The wonderful Threet/Sheridan days). Both teams have major issues with their offensive lines. MSU's problems can be explained by a lack of experienced personnel, but this is a little surprising for OSU.
Luke Fickell will not be the head coach of OSU next year. The only question is whether or not his replacement gets hired before the end of the season.
Balls were slippery...
But before we get too giddy here, it should be noted that there was a misty rain and the ball was wet, so that accounts for a tiny bit of the Herpy-derpy-ness. Like this:
The punter actually recovered the ball and got off one of his ugly-ass rugby kicks.
Stanton Nichols Cousins doing his best Tommy Rees impression.
MSU on D:
When you don't respect the other team's passing, you can walk up your safeties and do a lot of run blitzing.
On this play, the short side safety walks up before the snap even though 2nd and 9 is often a passing down.
The flanker comes in motion which makes the other safety tip off that he's in cover 1. The CB is playing run support all the way. The safety is blitzing the C gap.
The OSU TE is oblivious to the blitz and 76 (the RT) is doubling down the DT for some reason. Notice how the MSU MLB is completely free to clean up the place. OSU's O-line had trouble getting to the LBs all day long. I don't know if they've had a major philosophy change, but it looks like their linemen are not getting the right assignments on the zone blocking scheme.