At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
Last time on Picture Pages, Denard Robinson got Roy Roundtree killed against UConn by being too impatient to throw on a curl-flat combo. This time things will go a bit better.
The setup has Michigan in a four-wide formation with ND in a two-deep shell and a 3-4 defense—this is slightly unusual since ND spent most of the day in a 4-3:
Michigan starts the play with a zone stretch fake, pulling Schilling around to act as the lead blocker Shaw was on the previous play:
Roundtree's come in like he's going to block as Odoms heads upfield:
Roundtree then breaks outside as Walls rubs Odoms, pushing him out of bounds briefly. If this was man coverage Roundtree would be open, but if it's zone it'll be Odoms, or you can also take a look at Grady running well behind the linebackers, all of whom have sucked up to either the zone stretch fake or the threat of Robinson on the edge:
It was right about here, if not earlier, that Denard threw the ball against UConn:
But as you can see from the downfield perspective, that would have been a bad idea since the corner is disconnecting from Odoms and coming upfield. If he had thrown it above, the ball would be about halfway to Roundtree right here:
This probably would have led to another decleating hit. But Denard sees the play developing and waits. A split second later Odoms sits down on a fifteen-yard hitch. He's wide open:
ND's Harrison Smith doesn't know what to do with both Grady and Odoms open in front of him. Robinson zing:
Odoms picks up some YAC…
…and it's 21 yards.
Most of the same stuff from the last post. Michigan will see a lot of zone. Most of the routes they run will be designed to beat it. Robinson is going to be expected to high-low cover two corners a ton, not least because a hard cover two corner gives the defense much better containment on the edge than a cover three where the corners bail out into deep zones.
Holy pants wide open receivers again. The Roundtree and Odoms catches were more spectacular and the end result of this play had nothing to do with the linebackers, but Kelvin Grady is screamingly wide open on this play too because Manti Te'o is hurtling towards the line of scrimmage and Calabrese sucked in towards the zone stretch fake. Michigan should have run more play action, though I guess it's hard to criticize what the offense did when it wasn't getting flags in its face.
Denard is learning stuff. Obviously. I haven't gotten through everything yet and do remember a period in the fourth quarter where he was looking pretty wobbly, but the coaches probably spent a bunch of time this week working on Denard's mistakes and getting his patience right for various plays. So far there haven't been any plays against Notre Dame where I thought "that throw is way too late/early" except one on which Robinson dodged a blitzer and had his timing disrupted.
Odoms is just fine as an outside receiver. It would be nice if he was a towering colossus of speed but given Robinson's strengths it's better to have a reliable mountain goat and experienced route-runner who can sit down in the right spots and catch the balls zinged to him. It seems clear that going over the top is not one of Robinson's strengths, at least not right now.
These kinds of posts demonstrate just how effective and varied our offense can be. I read stuff like this and realize how much is happening on every play that leads to the desired result -- but that I simply don't see because I'm too focused on Denard.
Initially I was thinking it was poorly thrown. However, when my buddy and I saw the replay it was very catchable. He should have caught it. It was juset salt in the wound that we also missed the FG.
I also agree about the points left on the field. This was a close win that didn't really need to be nearly as close as it was. I think that is why Denard made that comment when he came out for that last drive, which was something along the lines of "let's put these guys away....we have let them hang around too long".
I'm thinking back on the last two games, and I don't remember a single pass in which I said, "Whew, we're lucky that wasn't picked off." Seems like his incompletions have either been drops, throwaways, or killing Roy Roundtree. I attribute it to the coaching -- they are either drawing up plays in which there is always a first or second read that cannot be doubled, or Denard is uber-prepared for these coverages through film work, or Denard has been drilled so thoroughly on ball security that he will always take off rather than try to force it in.
There was one in the ND game - the one Brian alluded to in this post where Denard evaded a sack and tried to dump it off to a receiver on the near sideline. ND's safety was jumping the route and nearly picked it off (he was on his back and bobbled it around until it thankfully fell onto the turf.)
like that, doesn't this essentially become the old 5-2? It's a run stopping D from the days of yore (and HS). The ROLB is crashing immediately - whether you call that a blitz or playing as an end, it seems like the same thing. The LOLB is playing coverage, but this is the same thing a swing-end did (when run wasn't indicated) in the 5-2.
Now that I pay attention again when I watch 'ball, it seems like I see this formation at the college and pro level over and over
It is great to see how much Denard continues to improve. This is a testament to Denards football IQ, his incredible work ethic, and the coaching staff. Going forward were going to see him continue to get better and even scarier for opposing defenses to defend. The deep ball is one of the toughest routes to get down as a QB, but I believe before the season is over he will be much improved in that area as well. Nice post Brian, I love breaking down film so this was awesome.
Great breakdown as usual Brian. There were acres of space open behind the LBs all day, and most times there were 2-3 options for Denard. It is great to be on the positive end of a mobile QB who can really draw in those LBs and safeties. Will be interesting to see how the offense fairs against teams that can contain with their base packages, but right now the offense is immensely dynamic. I would like to see the RBs establish themselves a bit more, but I expect the next two weeks to be fertile grounds for them to grow in the offense.
One of these times Denard is going to stop and zip a pass to Grady coming across on that post. Our offense is great because we have a counter for everything the defense tries against us.
With Denards work ethic and drive to get better everyday I really do believe this offense is going to be near impossible to stop. If our Rbs can step it up, it could happen much sooner rather than later.
HAIL TO THE VICTORS VALIANT, HAIL TO THE CONQUERING HEROES!
Great analysis - learn a ton from these breakdowns of plays.
What is obvious is that Denard, in spite of two weeks of some of the most amazing football I have ever seen, still has so much to learn. He is a second year player with two starts. He needs to play at least a half of each of the next two games. The more playing time, up to a point, the better. There is simply no substitute for game experience. We shall see defenses down the road that are better than what we have seen the last two weeks. It is hard to imagine him playing much better, but as he learns to read defenses and slows the game down - scary thought for opposing teams.
Question about Odoms...to me he looks thinner and a bit quicker than he did last year. Does anyone else see the same thing or am I imagining things?
This kind of break down shows just how damned complicated this offense is - or at least it sure seems that way to me. While the QB has to make decisions, everyone has to execute well - especially the O line.
Also at least half the commentary I have seen about the UM offense is how Robinson could be hurt and the assumed but unstated consequences of that. This shows us how the health of the receiver corps really depends on his decision making. A bunch of our guys have been getting smacked around in space and hopefully things will get better over the next 2-3 weeks so that there are less serious hits happening on a regular basis. But I guess my point is that up until now it is not so running plays that overexpose our guys, but rather pass plays that open up both our WRs and SRs, as well as our RBs, to some pretty vicious hits.
At 8:48 in that video (the every offensive snap one), with 6:30 remaining in the 3rd, does Denard throw a no-look pass to Roundtree? Roundree gets blasted, but hangs on with enough for the first, but man, that's a ballsy throw to make. It looks like the outside receivers were open, so I'm wondering if D-Rob thought he could look off the coverage and get Roundtree some space.
When you look at the early touchdown by Roundtree, you could see Notre Dame being sucked in trying to use numbers to overwhelm the line and screw with Denards zone reads. Do you think Michigan state for example will try to do this with their linebackers being a purported strength?
Plays like that show that cheaters doth never prosper as Denard sees more and more and gains greater knowledge.
I love the versatility of the offense through the first two games. It is like there is always a counter punch if teams start to get exotic to shut down the basic Denard right play.
“First, understanding what their intent is, what our team’s intent is going to be. You’ve got to be willing to work for that. You’ve got to be willing to earn that..." 12-30-2014
I love the picture posts. This is anlaysis is what separates mgoblog from the rest of the MSM and other blogs. I was just arguing with someone yesterday who was complaining about how "simplistic" the UM offense was and how we will be killed in the Big 10 season. I just wish he would read these posts to learn more about our offense. Keep the posts coming!