I remember in 2011 against Illinois and Nebraska that Fitz routinely made yards out of nothing plays, able to juke in a phonebooth and making the "Mike Hart, but FAST" hyperbole true. Between his suspension, play calling, lack of blocking, etc. it seems like he has been unable to get into a flow. Hopefully he can get things going as defenses begin to key in on Denard running.
Picture Pages: Toussaint's Sad Day
[Special Toussaint Mini-UFR is what this is but it didn't seem like a good title.]
The single downer from the Purdue game was Fitzgerald Toussaint's anemic output: 17 carries, 19 yards, and at least one kicked cat in the Toussaint household after his return from West Lafayette. What happened? Should Thomas Rawls be inserted as a replacement? Let's look at pictures and try to find out.
First, let's set aside three short-yardage carries. One was a third and one power that just made it; two were goal line attempts that got in. (There was a third goal line attempt that did not wiped out by penalty.) Now we've got… 15 carries for
22 16 yards, one of which went for two yards but was wiped out by an irrelevant chop block. Dios mio, man.
How much of this is on Toussaint, how much the OL, and how much the line? Let's find out. Toussaint's non-goalline carries ordered by play type.
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel even||Run||Inside zone||2|
|Poor damn Toussaint. Again he's eating an unblocked guy in the backfield. The end shuffled down and then collapsed on the handoff; give or not is a push for Denard because the corner was blitzing. Play was dead on the snap. RPS -1.|
Barnum gets blown into the backfield here by a Short slant that can happen because of a corner blitz:
Toussaint is forced to cut behind that and then the end shuffling down behind makes the play.
VERDICT: 75% RPS, 25% blocking.
|O22||2||7||,Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||6|
|OLB comes off slot; Kwiatkowski blocks him out. Purdue slides its line playside and has a linebacker behind who's unblocked thanks to the blitz. He's staying outside, so handoff. The slant gets the Purdue OL past the M OL but the M OL gets good push on a couple guys. Mealer(-1) lets Short by him in frightening fashion; Lewan(+1) gets his guy two yards downfield and makes him give up a lot of space. Toussaint(+1) cuts backside and avoids that linebacker, stumbling as he manages to power through the arm tackle. Short can now finish the job from behind.|
This worked well enough that we can dispense with the Verdict Of Blame.
|O15||2||10||Ace big||1||3||1||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||0|
|Michigan runs an inside zone away from the strength of the formation and into five guys against four blockers. This doesn't work, especially when the playside ILB bugs out to beat a block. Maybe this should have been a cutback. Yeah, maybe, but tough when Barnum(-1) has just caught a guy and is a yard in the backfield. Still, Toussaint -1.|
This was not set up well from the start:
Michigan's running to the left of the center, where there are four Boilermakers and three blockers. A cutback develops and I have a sneaking suspicion that this run is supposed to cutback just because it can't work if it's run directly at where the action goes.
VERDICT: 50% Toussaint, 25% RPS, 25% blocking.
[AFTER THE JUMP: BLAME! BLAME! BLAME!]
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||2|
|Purdue selling out now and M just killing clock so I'm not going to be too tough. Toussaint would have a shot at a cutback for some yards but the MLB is ripping at the LOS at the snap and bowls Barnum(-1) over backwards; Lewan can't get on him because he's just charging. Situation, whatever. Toussaint does well just to get a couple.|
VERDICT: 100% RPS, not that anyone cares given the game situation.
|O14||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||0|
|This is the frustration play where Toussaint(-1) has 4-5 just by running up his OL's back but bounces for zip. Lewan(+1) had pounded a DE. Mealer(+0.5) locked the NT out.|
VERDICT: 100% Toussaint, but at this point the guy is stir crazy.
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||-1|
|Exact same thing except Denard(-1) hands despite the DE crashing. At least five if he keeps.|
Denard has just busted a 60 yard run when the DE takes off for Toussaint and he keeps. DE takes off for Toussaint again, he hands. Also Schofield gets shoved into the backfield:
This doesn't end well.
VERDICT: 50% Denard, 50% blocking.
|O33||2||3||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 3-4||Run||Inverted veer give||3|
|The playside end comes down a little bit, enough to convince Denard to give. DE can chase Toussaint outside but not catch him, so maybe this is right? I'm not sure. Dileo(-1) runs by the slot LB, who forces Toussaint to bounce upfield; Darboh(-0.5) also gets beat by his blocker. Toussaint(+0.5) bounces out side of the first guy and then tries to do the same with the second, getting slowed by one DB and bashed by a second when just hitting it up is a first down.|
VERDICT: 50% okay since it's essentially a first down, 50% blocking by frosh WR.
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||6|
|The slightly odd shotgun iso Michigan broke out against Minnesota a while ago. Gap to get is between Lewan(+1) and Barnum(+1). Lewan gets movement and a kickout; Barnum's guy helps him but Barnum locks him out well despite a hands to the face that goes uncalled; Kerridge(+1) thumps a linebacker. Toussaint's got a good hole and hits it; overhang guy is unblocked and tackles.|
Likely what happens on the following iso if Toussaint just runs them.
|M6||1||15||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Iso||0|
|Safety overhanging is an unblocked guy in the box as M bizarrely doubles the backside DT. I guess Denard could pull and go vertical again; he doesn't. There is a DE that seem to be containing but I'm not sure if he can do anything about this. Anyway, blocking is good for the iso; Toussaint(-2) sees the overhang guy and tries to bounce away from him, turning five yards into zero. Lewan(+0.5) got a good kick; Kerridge(+1) bombed the MLB. Barnum only did eh with Short, understandably.|
A couple times Toussaint refused to take a meager gain and tried to dance for long ones, with poor results. This is a first and fifteen iso on which the blocking is fine. Toussaint's got a crease, Kerridge impacts a linebacker across the LOS, and the unblocked guy is a safety:
Pretty sure Rawls thunders into that guy and falls forward for five. Toussaint tries to hop around Kawaan Short…
…and that goes about how you'd expect. Okay yeah this could happen if Barnum is getting movement on short, which he's not, because he's one on one with a first round draft pick.
VERDICT: 25% RPS, 10% blocking, 65% Toussaint.
|O49||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Pin and pull zone||-1|
|Michigan gets caught by a corner blitz that allows Purdue to slant towards the playside. Kwiatkowski(+0.5) shoves the playside end past the play. Omameh(-0.5) gets no movement on Gaston and loses him to the frontside; Short beats a scoop by Barnum(-0.5) badly, and when the LBs keep leverage on the pulling linemen the two DTs flow from the interior to eat up Toussaint. RPS -1.|
Toussaint's got no shot on this play:
Secure in the knowledge they've got a corner blitz behind them, the Purdue line sells out to the playside, giving Michigan's blocking scheme little chance to get a seal. Toussaint makes the cut he should, whereupon he is buried by Short.
VERDICT: 75% RPS, 25% blocking as Barnum is not able to handle Short.
|O14||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||0|
|Funchess in as an H-back. This looks like the veer but they don't let anyone go so I assume this is an actual no read power to screw with folks. Schofield(-1) doesn't fire off, ends up catching a DE, lets him inside, and then Barnum(-1) blocks him too as he fills the hole. Toussaint bounces outside, unblocked LB, no gain. Barnum should be moving outside of the iffy Schofield block instead of dealing with the guy who shows.|
Michigan kind of sucks at power.
Here Schofield lets a guy under him, who then picks off Barnum. Unblocked MLB on power is bad.
VERDICT: 100% blocking.
|O26||2||10||I-Form twins covered||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Power off tackle||0|
|FB offset, TE covered. A big gap develops between the Mealer block and Barnum on the playside DT. LB shoots the gap, Toussaint gets nailed. Not sure what to do here; Barnum has to block that guy, need that playside double from Kwiatkowski and Lewan on power, Purdue gets unblocked LB in backfield; RPS -2. Insert rant about running from the shotgun.|
Sucks at power!
That's a Purdue run blitz (or LB flowing so hard he's essentially blitzing) shooting a backside gap to make a TFL. Nice play, pretty sure no one on Michigan's team is able to do anything about this.
VERDICT: 100% RPS.
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Sweep||3|
|Well blocked, with Kwiatkowski(+0.5) bashing the DE inside. DE trips as he spins upfield past the block; would prefer this to not look like it's going to work before it doesn't but the movement Kwiatkowski gets is the reason someone steps on him. Lewan(+0.5) kicks; Barnum(+0.5) gets the ILB, and Toussaint... has an eighth defender in his face because Purdue is in pure cover zero. He makes a good cut past the containing safety and is about to get some nice yards when Short, unblocked on the backside, tackles from behind. RPS -1, technically, not that I'm all upset about it or anything.|
Other times it's just Purdue going nuts on run defense. Here they go pure cover zero and shoot their last safety into the box to provide a guy in the hole despite this play getting blocked well:
In a perfect world, center Mealer gets out on the linebacker who Barnum eventually takes, leaving the safety for Barnum and Toussaint runs for 80 yards, but once the LB flows hard that's never happening.
VERDICT: 100% RPS.
|O15||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Sweep||0|
|Kwiatkowski(-1) does not get a seal on the end this time. Schofield(-0.5) loses the OLB upfield because he's attacking aggressively there. Mealer and Barnum can't get a seal on the backside DT. Toussaint has to arc outside that DT and then try to hit it up; Mealer(-1) couldn't get to a LB despite leaving early and he and Short blow it up at the LOS. Nobody got blocked here. RPS -1.|
I'm serious, nobody is blocked on this play. It's to the point where it has to be an issue with both the blocking and the call.
VERDICT: 50% RPS, 50% blocking.
|O17||2||11||I-Form twins covered||2||1||2||4-3 even||Run||Sweep||2|
|LB overhanging goes upfield and gets a two for one as he picks off Kerridge and forces Toussaint inside. Williams(-1) loses his block; both LBs are flowing hard, and there is a safety. Four Boilers, one blocker. Ball game. Schofield(-1) gets called for a chop block.|
Here's the moment of truth for Toussaint on this play:
That's not on him. I called this "Four Boilers, One Cup."
VERDICT: 75% blocking, 25% RPS just because all power from the I gets an owlish glare from me.
Toussaint's crappy day was a combination of:
Getting caught in bad situations. Corner blitzes blew up a couple plays. A wholesale lack of safety held others down. Approximate total blame: 25%.
Michigan's lack of give a damn. With the counterpunches to Michigan's bread and butter plays wisely stowed in the garage, Purdue was free to get an extra defender in the box even when they had to account for Denard's legs. That guy held plays that otherwise would have picked up big chunks down. Approximate total blame: 40%.
Crappy blocking. It happens. Against Short it happens with frequency. Approximate total blame: 20%.
A furious Fitz making anti-plays. Late he clearly started pushing; on a couple of plays where it was just like get your five yards dude he started getting all fancy and got as many yards as an 18-year-old in Appalachia wearing a come-hither dress would have. Approximate total blame: 15%.
Now: you expect your ballcarriers to make plays. That's been the whole complaint with Smith as a runner—he doesn't get more than you give him much. Fitz didn't get more than Michigan gave him at all in this game.
What about Rawls?
Well, Rawls had those things what are they called oh yeah, holes:
At this point Purdue had thrown in the towel. I'm not ready to throw out Fitz's extremely good 2011 because a guy broke a couple tackles on backups with three minutes left in the game.
That said, Rawls seems a better fit for certain plays Michigan is running, like those isos and inside zones that tend to cut back. He probably can't be the feature back because the veer is so key to Michigan's offense, but it's not like they can't run the thing a couple times a game with him in there. Defenses are going to contain that by default and won't be able to put in a special Rawls veer defense package unless it's getting a ton of snaps.
Meanwhile, you can still test the edges of opposing defenses by using Rawls as a lead blocker on Denard sweeps and other such things. The Denard Iso made a comeback in this game—I'll talk about that more later in the full UFR—and a 5'10", 215 pound tailback is going to be pretty effective bashing linebackers into the turf on stuff like that.
We still don't know how Rawls is at pass blocking or if he's fumbling in practice, so there may be a couple good reasons he's not seeing the field. If he's being secure with the ball I expect to see some more of him; the spread is diverse enough to handle a power back package (see Brandon Minor). The persistent awesomeness of the veer puts a ceiling on his use, though.
I think we'll see a lot of him against the Illini, and Michigan will go to him if Fitz struggles early against State.
Borges and Denard have to be able to check out of run blitzes. Several of these would have been rps+ for us if we are able to check to a pass.
meh. given the game state I'm fine with running into blitzes and cover zero for most of it.
For Purdue, sure. But against a real defense stacking the box, checking to a different play would be swell.
If we don't have a counter for MSU putting 8 in the box and bringing a double A gap this year I'm going to rage against the machine.
But this was Purdue.
In a game that was over.
Right, but is there a better time to depart from vanilla MANBALL (and try to execute something other than relying on talent and execution) than when the game is no longer in question?
I don't buy that we are saving it, not that anyone has argued that. Elite teams are capable of checking to different plays when its an obvious rps situation and I'd like to see us join them.
Who are you people that upvote Brian's own replies? Do you think you get extra Mgopoints for brown-nosing?
Watch as I upvote and reap mad points (774 after this comment).
Edit: Fuuu yeahhh. Gonna go find some mods to upvote...
When I was watching the game in real time I was wonding about the lack of Fitz yards as well. But since I was almost caught up on DVR I decided to rewatch some plays to see what was happening. It was clear, especially when two Perdue players followed him when Denard had the ball, they were trying to take him away. I noticed on several plays he would have gotten more yards but instead he decided to channel Shaw.
I have a theory:
When my, um, friend was in college he desperatly wanted a girlfriend. When there was a girl he liked he tried too hard to impress and ended up doing the opposite. When he finally got a girlfriend he ended up having meaningful conversations with the fairer sex because he was just enjoying the conversations and not all in his head about what was happening.
What I think is after the trouble this summer he has been thinking too hard about MAKING PLAYS, and getting extra yards and maybe a highlight run rather than just instinctively hit a hole and use his talent to gain a few more. I think he will start having good games again when he stops trying to have good games.
Or maybe the loss of Mulk matters that much.
I eagerly await the complete UFR to see why the run blocking (20% of Fitz's problem) didn't seem to be an issue when both Denard and Rawls had the ball in their hands.
Purdue quit by then?
Purdue quit during Denard's 6 first-drive carries?
They quit by the time Bellomy and Rawls got in.
From the Borges presser:
Did you feel like they were trying to take away Fitz?
“Oh no doubt. If you watch the tape, they were following Fitz all over the field. Fitz had very good running opportunities on 17 carries. I went over the whole tape. It was the good news and the bad news though. We pulled a couple zone reads when they were all over Fitz, and Denard was wide open down field. It wasn’t like it was bad. It just didn’t make Fitz’s numbers look very good, but he helped us win the game, you know, kind of like a guy that has a sacrifice bunt. Helps you win the game. That was kind of the way they decided to defend us.”
I don't know why Purdue would decide to prioritize taking away Fitz over taking away Denard, but apparently that's why Denard had a lot more running room. It's a lot easier when the unblocked defenders are chasing after the other guy.
Last season Fitz had 170 yards and Denard only had 75. I guess they are just picking their poison.
Just not many places for the guy to go. Fifteen percent seems about right to me. I also maintain that Denard is the priority--if he sees a hole for himself, then he keeps the ball. If he sees no hole he hands, which doesn't mean there IS a hole for Fitz.
I want to see more Rawls myself, as a change of pace and more punishing runner. And I don't think that Borges is fully adapting to what Denard gives us. But I think that he and Hoke are right not to bail on Toussaint.
Under the "Toussaint's got no shot on this play" I don't agree he made the correct cut. If you freeze it at the end 0:04 you can see him lackadaisically turn up field while running upright inside the soon-to-be cut block from Mealer. He has a good block from Schofield sealing out the contain man out of the play but he doesn't use it by running inside Mealer's block.
To me, he looked hesitant when he attempting to cut up field. If he instead would of attempted to sprint right off Schofield's back and outside Mealer's cut block he has a 1 on 1 with the DB 5 yards down field. I thought Toussaint had a great short area burst last year and its one of the main reasons he was so successful. Am I being unrealistic in thinking he is capable of shooting between Schofield's back and Mealer's cut block on this play?
You see lackadaisical, I see a guy trying to set up a block. He doesn't know if the LB is inside or outside until Short is tackling him. The default assumption is that the LB will contain so he is going vertically until he's proven wrong. He doesn't expect those DL flowing so hard from the inside on a power sweep.
If he decides right away that the LB is inside and bursts outside maybe he does run away from the pursuit; I don't think that's natural or realistic.
I see it as our guards getting their asses kicked.
yeah, but the setup of the play really hurts them. They're hurt by that CB blitz since the line is moving towards the play relentlessly at the snap.
That's fine, but the guards first rule is to not let the guy cross their face, most ESPECIALLY when they're slanting in the direction of the play. Our OGs first step play side is meant to prevent the DL from crossing their face. Hell, both of them could have cut their guys and we would have been in much better position.
Yea, but did you see that crack-back pancake by the slot in the first clip?
20% of the blame on blocking? Man, you are lenient on the OL.
From what I saw....
Clip 1 - agree RPS 75% but Barnum gets his face crossed/beat
2 - Kiwatowski -1, Omameh -1, Barnum -1
3 - Schofield -1
4 PRS 100%
5 - RPS and Fitz 50/50
6 - Barnum -1, Mealer and Kwiatowski -.5 each
7 RPS 50% FB and Mealer 25% each
To me, this is what makes MGoblog so great - ESPN and all of the other media outlets just report "Man, Fitz really needs toget himself going so that M has another alternative to Denard running the ball every play." This blog goes a step further and looks into every possible contributing detail.
Awesome work, Brian.
In general, what portion of a RBs success/failure is attributed to the actual player as opposed to blocking or RPS/play calling? I've always thought of RB as being one of the most teammate-dependent positions in comparison to something like DB where even on a weak team a standout player can excel.
Now we've got… 15 carries for 16 yards, one of which went for two yards but was wiped out by an irrelevant chop block. Dios mio, man.
Not sure I'm glad that I didn't hurt the team, or sad because I'm irrelevant.