Some things that are inevitable are impossible to call until they happen. Like that Google AdSense would eventually find the perfect sponsor to reach the massive and growing audience of Michigan/cat readers. Or that Michigan would eventually run a fake from the FB dive.
It's 4th and short. Michigan has cut MSU's lead to 7 and has the ball on the MSU 9 with a little over 6 minutes to play thanks to a State fumble on its own 32. Michigan has already converted a 4th and 1 on this drive (the ZR where Denard pulled it after his RB was already being tackled). A fumbled snap, a short pass to Koger and a dead-on pass to Gallon at the sticks for 11 yards (had Michigan challenged the spot we would have gotten it) later it's 4th and inches. Then everything goes wrong:
Do you wish you would have called a running play on the fourth and one? “No. I liked the play. If we execute the play, Koger’s in the endzone. We don’t make a block that we need to make, and that’s part of it. That play’s been very successful for us. It’s a nice complement to the dive. We just didn’t execute it.”
WE DON'T MAKE A BLOCK THAT WE NEED TO MAKE
Before the snap the TE on the top of your screen (Moore) is looking inside for the snap and misses the CB start his blitz. By the time Moore is out of his stance the CB is already past him. The fake doesn't work because the corner is coming from the edge and knows exactly who has the ball.
IF WE EXECUTE THE PLAY
There was more than just the missed assignment. MSU's strongside end managed to hit both Watson (the TE) and Koger (the H-Back), which occupied Koger long enough to throw off his route. By the time Denard was on the ground, Koger still hadn't made it out of the backfield, and had picked up a safety escort.
BUT THE DIVE-FAKE WAS SET UP!
How many times in a short situation has Michigan come out in the I, shifted the RB outside, then run a FB dive? Eventually there was going to be a wrinkle off of this. Such a wrinkle was primed like a Guitar Hero Star Power Meter. Or was it?
Here's all the goal-line dives this year:
4th and 1 from WMU's 19. Toussaint gets 3 against the 3-4 defense.
2nd and goal from WMU 1. Well defended but Toussaint just barely gets the nose of the ball to break the plane.
3rd and goal from ND 3. ND stuffs, Hopkins fumbles, Denard picks it up and runs in unmolested.
3rd and goal from EMU 1. Because it's EMU they are slow to react and Toussaint leaps over the pile.
2nd and goal from Minn 1. Michigan gets a yard.
1st and goal from NW 1. Wildcats spot the play, meet Toussaint's leap, stopped just short.
2nd and goal from NW 1 (the next play). Toussaint doesn't jump, they stop it.
In Star Power terms this is Note-plink-plink-plink-plink-plink-plink = U No Haz Str Pwr.
DeBordian thinking would tell you a fake off the dive is perfectly set up. MSU knows the dive by heart. They're even tempting Michigan to run it by shifting the alignment. There's a hole to the left of Molk that either Toussaint or Norman will get to first. This is Man-Ball at maximum chest hair.
Because of Molk's block (he's 3/4 of the way to a seal before anyone else is out of their stance) and Toussaint's athleticism, the dive probably would have worked. It would depend on the spot, and be close.
The point is a fake off this thing was as incredibly surprising as a DeBordian waggle. MSU had seen it defended, and knew just like the rest of us that a fake was eventually inevitable. Their answer: blitz the corner in case of a keeper and having Norman shoot the hole they left.
IT'S THE WRONG OFFENSE AT THIS MOMENT
I am totally fine with the FB dive and its variations this year. It is a staple of power offenses, and except in terrible, cat-abusive situations, saves Denard from taking hits. Saves him, for example, for those times you're down a score and deep in your opponent's territory late in the 4th quarter against a rival with a three-game streak against you.
That was the dumbest goddamned $%&*^-*$#*ing #&!$brained dip*&%$ mother*(%$ing horse_+$# goat-&^%t &%$*y-infested $%^&stick playcalling I have ever &*$ing seen in my life.
…wasn't any of the execution problems. It was conceptual. Hoke and Borges are betting that MSU sells out against the dive—never mind the plinking—and he can use that to take an easy touchdown. This is the opposite of correct, the equivalent to Weis throwing a bomb on 2nd and 10, and giving Tate and company an extra 28 seconds for the comeback. It's throwing away a huge advantage for the advantage of surprise. It's making lemonade when God gave you apples and an apple crusher.
Every second the quarterback is moving backwards or isn't facing the line of scrimmage is a second that the quarterback isn't going to be running forward. Even if it was properly blocked. Even if Koger wasn't held up by a great rush by MSU's end, it's a terrible play call because it leaves Michigan's biggest weapon—Denard Robinson's legs—in the garage, while trusting Denard's arm (not good in a garbage tornado), Koger's catching (iffy all day), and Michigan State to not play disciplined defensively (between the whistles they were fine).
I haven't changed my opinion about these coaches: we have awesome coaches and I'd rather have them than any other person who's coached in this state the last four years. But that was a terrible, terrible call.
I posted this yesterday and it's the 1st time I have seen the Gallon catch again and I was correct that he was way over the line. For those of you that thought this was a good spot, as soon as you catch it that is where the spot should be. He is at least a ball or 2 past the line and they spot it behind the line. This was a brain fart by Hoke not to ask for a check of the spot.
As for the play itself. I need to call in the experts here, but doesn't Denard have to check and see that someone is on Hopkins. It all happens pretty fast but if you watch the video no one goes with Hopkins. The play was a quick pass to Hopkins on an automatic. Well the real play was a sneak once you see a gap between the center and guard, but you know what I mean.
If you catch the ball and your own momentum is carrying you back toward the line of scrimmage, you don't get forward progress to where you catch the ball (at least in my understanding--please let me know if I'm wrong). If the defender knocked Gallon back, you would think we would have the first down, but I think it's Gallon coming back to the ball that gets him behind the first down marker. I think the spot was pretty good.
At any rate, it's hard to complain about an extremely close spot when we were pretty gifted on the fake field goal spot on the first scoring drive.
I've seen that spot given more generously, but I don't think there's any way we were getting that overturned on review. Forward momentum in that situation is largely a judgement call and that wasn't egregious enough to be overturned.
It looks to me from the clip above that the ball's spotted just short of the 8, which definitely marginal given the photo above but I'm not sure they would have overturned. But it was probably worth a challenge, because, who knows what a Big Ten replay official will do.
The assumption seems to be that we would have scored a TD if the first down was made. That was far from certain. The benefit of the call was to increase the chance of scoring a TD. The goal was not to make a first down -- it was to score.
This is not a completely insane point. The question is whether you think M had a better chance of scoring with 1st and goal from the 7-ish or with Denard throwing a 9-yard pass to Koger on 4th down in a trash tornado when he hadn't hit the broad side of Shinola pretty much the whole game.
I absolutely hated this call at the time and still do. It's a run all the way. The whole world can know it's a run. Hell, Denard could have told State that he was going to keep the ball and sneak for the 1st down and I would have had more faith in him getting the 1st down than anything that this play could have gotten.
Seriously, how often does Denard get 0 or fewer yards on a designed run? Now how often does Denard get 0 or fewer yards on a pass play? You go from probably a 90/10 play to a 50/50 play (and that's in no wind). WHY BORGES WHY? WHY DO YOU HATE KITTENS SO SO MUCH?
Another factor on 4th and 1 - check the play clock.
Yep, at 0. Denard had to snap the ball. This was not a one-play anomaly, either; for some reason the offense did not set up and snap earlier in the playclock all game.
For a while I thought they were trying to run clock in the quarters in which they were going into the wind. But then... in the 4th quarter, down two scores, maybe it's time to pick up the pace? At that point you need to think about extending the game, gain some more possessions. Yet the offense didn't do that.
I'd be interested to see (in the UFR maybe?) how often the ball got snapped with more than 2 seconds on the playclock. One result, I'm convinced was that it gave MSU's D the ability to time the snap. Shoot, they didn't need to read the signals - everybody on State's D who could count to 0 could time their rushes all afternoon.
We would have pissed and moaned and bitched up a storm and shown picture pages of why running it was stupid.
It's what we do.
No coach ever tries for a 4th and 1 and just plain misses it. No, every coach that tries for a 4th and 1 and misses it is mentally and philosophically deficient and has just revealed to all of us a serious inate character flaw that has been hiding since birth.
I'll never, ever understand why the play call on 4th-and-1 isn't a quarterback sneak every time. I've yet to see anything close to 50% failure rate on a QB sneak. Hell, I bet the success rate is closer to 85%. Does anyone have data to support/debunk the idea of calling a QB sneak on every 4th-and-1??
Exactly. Watch the Patriots on 4th-and-1 or less. Tom Brady will sneak it 90% of the time. Maybe a pro O-line is stronger and more reliable so they sneak it more? I'll just never understand it and I know my wife is sick and tired of hearing me rant about it.
That is something I had not thought of in this context. I've just always assumed that even I could get under center and get 1 yard by taking the snap (which I would likely fumble) and instantly move forward behind the center. If, for some reason, the center gets blown backwards, even a desperate reach for the line would probably work (at which time I would likely fumble if I hadn't already fumbled the snap).
I totally agree with you guys. I have always wondered on fourth an inches why anything other than a QB sneak would be called. Even handing the ball off allows defenders extra time for penetration. Denard behind Molk should equal a first down everytime. I wonder if any of the stat guys around here know the odds of picking up fourth and inches with a sneak vs hand off vs pass. I would sneak it everytime and guess that the odds of success drop off with other play calls!
(quite possible) but aren't the situational results in this post saying we were successful 3 out of 7 times in similar situations, against much worse competition? (Not counting the Denard fumble recovery as a planned successful play). If that's the case, maybe they thought some trickeration would give them about as good a shot at a TD as they had at a 1st down.
The 3-for-7 only includes short yardage plays from this formation. Didn't Denard pick up a 4th down on a run against NW (it was picture paged)? At any rate, none of the failures were 4th-and-inches QB sneaks.
Hell, any play where Denard sprints toward the line on a designed run gets positive movement > 80% of the time, even if it's bleeding obvious that that's what's going to happen.
I don't totally agree with the assessment of a terrible call. I mean honestly, we saw Northwestern of all teams crush this. Denard's legs are greater than his arm. No dispute there. But everyone else knows this too. MSU knew it almost to a fault.
And how loud are our groans if we run and don't get it? We've enjoyed Hoke bucking the conservative now and again, and this would've been HUGE. It would've been further proof of us bucking the traditional; Lloyd-ball be damned. Looking at it from the other side, if we nail this play and score:
1. 4th and inches to a touchdown? Crowd dies.
2. Dantonio and his machismo turtles as his uber-agressiveness finally bites them in the ass. The rest of the game sees some conservative MSU play.
3. Crowd experiences slight second death at the thought of, "Oh no it's happening again."
4. Repeat step 3 and apply to MSU D in general.
You can say it's Weis 2nd and 10. I see it as OSU play action on third and short with a Troy Smith bomb for a touchdown. Complete and utter soul destruction, and at a time that we needed it most.
I don't hate the playcall. Calls should never be informed on the expectation of your team failing to execute. That means you've already admitted defeat.
"Calls should never be informed on the expectation of your team failing to execute."
You call every play with an expectation of your team failing to execute -- a perfectly executed play is hugely rare and gets you 7 to 99.999 yards; any play you call you are expecting it to be executed mostly right, and there are built-in protections for one or two things to go wrong.
Playcalling is also knowing what they execute better. You're taking a risk with anything. But 4th and short with Denard is a huge advantage which remains part of the equation so long as Denard is facing the line of scrimmage. If you want to surprise MSU and use their selling out for a TD chance, there are ways to hedge, for example by Denard having a read.
If they run a fake dive TE pitch from the shotgun (and we've run way more dives from the shotgun this year than from the Ace, which is what this is after the RB splits out -- an Ace with an H-back), at least the CB can't come blazing after Denard on the edge because he has to keep contain.
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See to me, this play is purely about the TE missing corner blitz. If he picks this up, even if the throw isn't there, Denard can STILL run and get the first in this short yardage. I think he is most dangerous when a play breaks down in that fashion. I just see him getting stuffed at the line as we tend to do when we need that yard.
Ultimately, its fourth and short. You probably DO get it. But to me, running it here, after you've already struggled to do anything most of the day, is like getting into 3rd and 10 and throwing the ball 5 yards short of the sticks. I absolutely HATE that.
That's a very good point. Another poster below (above? I don't know your settings) mentioned too that Denard missed a key read when the CB showed blitz, meaning Hopkins was going to be left uncovered. However there wasn't enough time left on the clock to adjust to this, which just adds to the cat-kicking derp.
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And of course, one of the most famous touchdown receptions in Michigan history (Desmond's clincher against Notre Dame) came on a 4th and inches. That playcall was even more of a gamble - a fade into the corner of the endzone from 25 yards out. It's a results-oriented business.
That goes both ways, though. Conversion --> TD = MSU sadness. Fail to convert (as we did) and MSU is revitalized and secure in themselves and we're disheartened. In a case like this, given the fact that it was the fourth quarter and probably the most important play of the day, you go with what you're good at and run Denard.
Denard has spent the offseason working really hard and smiling at people.
There is a vast, vast difference between 3rd and short and 4th and short in terms of play-calling "cutness." If the situation this past weekend had been 3rd and short and we ran this play, even to such miserable effect, then I would have had far less problem than I do with going for it on 4th and short. 3rd down means you have another crack, but are expected to be conservative. Getting creative there might mean that the upside outweighs the potential effects. 4th down means this is it and we just need to get it as simply as possible.
Of course, it was arguably the greatest playcall in Michigan history. That said, if it failed, there would have been hell to pay and it would be talked about today as one of the worst playcalls in Michigan history. I'm as unconventional as the next guy but, like I mention above, there is no reason to call anything other than a QB sneak there.
I don't know much about the situation surrounding that 1991 play
Situational evidence feels much different tho. The 1991 one was a completely unexpected play. This year we have a team that's more and more shying away from power plays simply because its not a strength, so to have Denard keep the ball for any play there was not in the least bit surprising. Running play action doesn't do anything, because you can't play-action Denard with himself and our RBs had about 2 carries all day. The blitzing CB would hone in on Denard whether he ran or passed there. So opting for a play that took longer to develop doesn't make sense to me.
Either run the middle dive, or do an outside option play. Denard pitches it to his RB right before getting hit by the CB, and the RB should hopefully have enough speed to beat the defenders to the coupleof inches you need.
Either way, that specific play seemed like the last type of risk you'd want to take at that moment.
I can't believe you don't have the 5 point max right now. Like Ernie Zampese (NFL offensive coordinator for Air Coryell San Diego and the mid-90s Cowboys) said: a good call is one that works. By that definition this was a bad call, unless it worked. So Desmond's catch was was a great call, but man did it have lots of ways it could have ended up as a bad call. Especially when you had a line and backs like Michigan back then.
I have the ultimate respect for everyone's knowledge on here, especially Brian, but my eyes told me everything was a dice roll the way our line was getting manhandled most of the afternoon. Would have rather seen a sneak, but the play may have worked fine if we make that initial block. It is nearly impossible to say.
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The '91 play was great (beyond it working b/c) it put your best player, Desmond, one-on-one to make a play. Also, Grbac was freakin' 20-22 that day! Passing the ball makes a bit more sense in that situation. In other words, you take a red-hot QB and tell him to put the best player in America in position to make a play - that's a reasonable, if risky, call.
Also, as pointed out, Michigan was leading at the time by 3. If it doesn't work, ND still has to go the length of field against a very good defense.
As opposed to last Saturday, you have a QB completing 35% of his passes, throwing in a gale force wind, against a pass rush which is caving in your offense line (moreso on passing downs than on rushing downs). You take Denard almost unsurpassed ability to make people miss out of the equation and instead have him sit there in the pocket. Also, you are down by 7 points, so if you don't score, you are really up against it.
In sum, it wasn't a "dice roll" either way - Denard is GREAT at picking up short yardage. I'd say it was 75%+ getting the first down (or more) against 33% getting the first down (or perhaps a TD). You go with what works. Use your best player's skills. Borges and Hoke screwed up.
It only ends once. Anything that happens before that, is just progress.
Although both are gutsy play calls, there is one major difference here. Our biggest weapon on offense without question is denard's legs. Back in 91 our biggest weapon was Desmond Howard and Grbac was an excellent passer so in a way that call made some sense. This playcall did not play to our strengths as an offensive football team.