spoiler alert: i linked this
UFR note: The first torrent didn't go up until yesterday afternoon, so I haven't embarked on my usual journey of discovery yet. The UFRs will be a day late. So in lieu of figuring out the tao of Demens I took a look at a couple games featuring teams in this critical upcoming stretch…
I picked the game they lost by 11 to a MAC team and haven't seen them beat Northwestern yet. This is probably the worst game they'll play all year. Even so…
Jesus. Jesus, they're bad.
QB. Marve went out like EMU's quarterback did last year—untouched. He was facing a totally unblocked DT up the middle, FWIW.
Rob Henry, the guy Michigan will face, is very erratic. Many of his throws were wildly off target and his interception was completely doomed. He stared at a guy on a hitch route, decided not to throw it, kept staring at him, and then finally let it rip. A linebacker met the receiver and took it away.
Henry's main assets are his legs. He's a decisive upfield runner with good speed. This will be the closest Michigan gets to playing Denard Robinson this year—not very close at all. (Pryor is an entirely different animal, a tank more concerned with its paint job than anything else.)
Skill position melange. With Smith and Bolden out they're just guys. Dierking is obviously a bottom-three tailback in the Big Ten and their receivers didn't do anything of note. Cortez Smith dropped a couple balls.
Offensive line. Terrible. Toledo stoned Purdue short yardage thanks to their DT getting underneath the 6'6" Boiler center and discarding him. When Purdue went to stretch plays the Toledo DTs always got playside of their guys and forced the play back inside. Also, Boiler OL could not find a second level block for the world. When there were creases in the line most of the time Toledo linebackers would run right by ponderous OL and tackle after a few yards.
A couple exceptions came on runs by WRs right up the gut on the inside zone where doubled Toledo DTs got blown way off the ball. I have no idea how Purdue managed 220 yards on the ground; they had trouble with Henry on the outside.
In pass protection things were a little better but on Purdue's final drive Toledo ripped into the backfield and sacked Henry on consecutive plays. Those were just straight-up four-man rushes on which Toledo DTs and DEs smoked Boiler OL.
DL. Ryan Kerrigan is really good. I've seen him be really good against real teams, too—this is just confirmation. Purdue doesn't have much else on the line.
LB. Lost. Toledo is a passing spread with some read-option elements, and their quarterback found guys shockingly open on simple drag routes all day. Purdue had a knack for vacating the area directly in front of the quarterback's face. Junior linebacker Joe Holland stood out as not very good, as it seemed like every attempted tackle from him was run through. His coverage was dismal, too.
Toledo got a long touchdown on a read option keeper when the contain guy didn't contain and the safety jumped the handoff.
Secondary. As mentioned, a deep safety went off schedule and turned a twenty-yard gain into a 58-yard touchdown on a simple option keeper. I didn't look too closely at this group but Toledo was finding wide open guys 15, 20 yards downfield with consistency.
Overall worry level: I'll withhold final judgment until I see a couple more games but Michigan should shred this team; Henry won't be able to throw enough to keep up unless he gets radically better. FWIW, Toledo ran the midline a few times with good success. Maybe this is where Hope got the idea.
QB. Bolden rolled out for one eighty-yard touchdown pass to Derek Moye; he completed 7 of his other 20 attempts for 62 yards. Illinois's defense didn't give him anything easy and he responded with hopeless checkdowns and lots of inaccurate balls. Penn State's completely abandoned running the quarterback as long as Bolden's in the game, by the way. Strange since he's plenty fast enough to do some damage in space.
RB. Royster is Royster, but he's got problems in front of him. He did seem to lack some of his old Hart-like spark, FWIW. Penn State boards are flying with rumors about him having issues.
WR. PSU's got two enormous WRs that aren't going to beat you deep much. Bolden must not be able to throw a fade to save his life, though, because not once did Penn State try to use the fact that they're rolling out two 6'5" guys on the outside to their advantage. Slot guy Devon Smith is a quick little YAC guy who I can see doing some damage against an erratic Michigan LB corps.
OL. It's shocking that a stable program like Penn State can have such a pasted-together line. I know they lost their starting RT for the year but the four guys on the line who weren't pressed into the lineup because of injury weren't much better. An early fourth and one:
That's four OL on three DL getting no push. Martez Wilson, the MLB, will shoot into a gap unblocked and tackle at the LOS. Penn State tailbacks had 64 yards on 20 carries and weren't obviously leaving a bunch of yards on the field.
DL. While other bits of the Penn State defense may be suffering, the defensive tackles are up to the usual standard. Devon Still and Ollie Ogbu were in the backfield a lot, and if they'd gotten anything from the linebackers they may have made it a game. Tough to judge the defensive ends. They were so injury-wracked that a 309 pound true freshman DT played a big chunk of the game outside. I'm not sure how close to the starting lineup #44 Kevion Latham will be against Michigan but I was not impressed with him.
LB. MLB Chris Colasanti is not up to the usual standard. He's slow mentally and physically and while he'd be an upgrade at M he's just a guy. PSU fans are pushing for hyped recruit Khairi Fortt to play more but he's got the same freshman issues big chunks of Michigan's defense does. When he was in there he was vulnerable to cluelessness against run and pass. Same goes for Mike Yancich, who abandoned a flat zone on one of Illinois's long pass plays.
Underneath zone coverage was atrocious:
That second and fifteen drag went for 18 yards, Scheelhaase's second longest completion of the day. That's starting linebacker Nathan Stupar pulling the Courtney Avery by turning zone coverage into man there; Sukay could not get an angle on the guy before the sticks.
Here's the exact same thing on another 18 yard pass that would be the first Illinois touchdown:
That's a result of DE Pete Massaro and Fortt dropping into the same zone. Clueless youth, but maybe not clueless youth that's going to play against Michigan.
Secondary. Cornerbacks had the day off against Illinois. Safeties were hard to tell because Nick Sukay tore a pectoral muscle and won't be playing against Michigan; by the time he went out Illinois was cruising and content to run. Drew Astorino didn't stand out good or bad.
Overall worry level: This may not be a representative sample of what Michigan sees from Penn State on defense. The Nittany Lions were down to Talbott-equivalents all over the field and their errors opened up large chunks of Illinois yardage. Still, the complete ineptness of the offense is stunning—their line cannot block anyone. If Michigan plays bend but don't break against Penn State it should work because eventually Bolden's going to get stuck in long yardage and he's uncomfortable trying to fit throws in windows. Meanwhile, the defense is obviously a step down from previous editions. How much of one depends on their health level going into the game.
Illinois is a triple option team. They run it from the pistol…
… but their offense is 60% old-school Nebraska with a modern twist:
Scheelhaase is about Henry's equivalent on the ground, maybe a bit faster.
QB. Scheelhaase's passing ability is primitive. He managed to go 15 of 19 for 151 yards against Penn State but save a swing pass to Leshoure that Yancich busted that went for 32 his long on the day was 18 yards. Literally all routes were little hitches or drags. I'm not even sure if Scheelhaase looks deep, ever. This post (on the far right) on the earlier drag route is about to be a billion yards open:
Sukay is already heading towards the TE who Stupar is getting out of position on.
Scheelhaase's three longest completions were three-yard passes taken for lots of yards after the catch. His other completions averaged 6.9 yards. The book is clear: sit in zones and tackle.
RB. Leshoure is Yet Another Big Ten Back I'd Kill For. He's got a good size-speed combination. He drags piles and hits the holes hard. He doesn't have much shimmy, though—think a poor man's Edwin Baker. Leshoure backup Jason Ford is also pretty good.
WR. AJ Jenkins is the main target in the passing game. His ability to pick up YAC is impressive, Penn State had a tendency to leave crossing routes in the middle of the field shockingly open. Obviously.
OL. Not sure about the OL, which seemed to allow a lot of penetration from the DTs but since Illinois was running at the DEs all day it didn't matter. The Illinois passing game is all short stuff so Penn State did not have time to get pressure.
Defense. Defensively, also hard to tell since Penn State is decimated. Martez Wilson finally has acquired a clue to go with his intimidating physical ability; he came on a blitz designed to blow up play action and showed up in Bolden's chest frighteningly quickly. On the line, Clay Nurse and Corey Liuget are legit playmakers.
Bolden's inaccuracy has something to do with the Illinois secondary. You can never tell about these things for sure but I think a reason he threw a lot of inaccurate passes were guys getting in the way of short routes and knocking off the timing—Bolden doesn't have the experience to adjust yet. Another set were deeper throws on which Bolden's first read was covered. His instinct seems to be "let's see if I can fit this in a tiny window and my receiver can make a spectacular catch."
Dreads. Illinois has fewer players with dreads but they make up for it by having the dreads guys have crazy Marley dreads that end up halfway down the kid's back.
Overall worry level: The Illinois offense moves the ball based on your mistakes only, which means Michigan will have a frustrating day but maybe not one that sees Illinois put up 30 points. Third and long will mean lots of guys in zone and checkdowns Michigan will have to tackle; getting them there will mean implanting Kovacs's brain into the rest of the D.
Defensively, I'm more alarmed by what the Illinois defense did to the MSU run game than anything that transpired here. There is no comparison between the Penn State OL and the Michigan OL. They're clearly good, though, and this should be the toughest game in the upcoming stretch.
all 3 are winnable. I think Illinois worries me the most.
Purdue and Penn State have dreadful offenses and mediocre defenses and we should beat them fairly easily as long as we don't self-destruct. Illinois is a good team, but they're the type of good team that we can beat because their one glaring weakness (pass offense) will likely prevent them from taking advantage of our glaring weakness (pass defense).
I know, our run defense isn't very good, but at 4.05 yards per carry it's 7th in the conference and doesn't sink to the level of glaring weakness.
We can't take any of these 3 for granted, but if we could pull off a sweep then maybe, just maybe, we might win one of the final two.
be able to pass much? Yesplz.
I have comments, mostly the chicken little variety, that I'll just keep to myself.
Here's to hoping 2 weeks of preparation and rest brings out the best in us.
Of the 3, Illinois worries me the most. Their D was really, really good for about 3 quarters vs. MSU. They finally wore down in the 2nd half when the Illinois offense kept going 3 and out. Scheelhaase is just a terrible passer, so if you can stack the box and keep Illinois at 3rd and long, like MSU kept doing, you have a great shot to beat them.
Penn St. looks just awful every week. And Purdue? I pray that we crush them by 30 points, and then RR looks across the field and just shrugs at Danny Hope, the coach I despise the most in the Big Ten.
Am I the only one who thinks the read option/speed option thing they do is awesome? There was one play against PSU where the QB kept it initially, got to the corner, and pitched it to the other RB way past the line of scrimmage. Just a cool little throwback play. At the same time, I'm a little worried about that game now- does not seem like the auto-win it did in August.
Why do I think that Brian is being a little too optimistic here?
I guess me and due51 are in the same camp.
The last 2 PSU, Illinois, and Purdue games are still in my head.
Until RR's football teams can find ways to win Big Ten games against a team other than Indiana, my default expectation (to preserve my dong) is that this team will find ways to lose.
I'm anxious for them to prove me wrong.
are winnable for Michigan.
I don't understand why PSU offense being bad is stunning since they are starting a true freshman and Royster has been overrated. The problem with Royster is he doesn't make people miss and can't create a lane for himself. The only OL worth talking about is Stefan Wisinewski. Mike Martin vs. Wisinewski will be an interesting matchup. PSU offense can't keep up with Michigan offense so this should be a win for Michigan.
Purdue is bad, really bad. Purdue don't have the offense to keep up with Michigan offense. This should be a win for Michigan.
Illiniois may be the toughest team out of the three, surprisingly but Zook hauled in a couple of great recruiting classes and they're JRs and SRs. Maybe, we should've seen it coming but they have improved steadily as a team especially on the defensive side. I still think that Michigan offense should have no problem moving the ball on Illini. This one will be a shootout similar to ND game.
That game is definitely the most important of the three. Not only does it look like the most winnable, but a loss would cause all the "2009 Redux" and "No Bowl" talk to get amped up to 11, increasing the pressure on the other two games.
It's interesting that these teams seem to struggle with true freshmen or players unprepared to play are forced out onto the field. I would have never thought that, I just thought are coaching staff wasn't getting the true freshmen ready fast enough.
Oh well Joe Pa just hasn't had time to get his scheme in place or coordinate his recruiting to make sure this wouldn't happen. Give him a few more years to get it ironed out.
your dripping sarcasm earns a +1 from me..
Would it be accurate to say that Purdue has improved since Henry replaced Marve?
All 3 squads are major step downs in play for our Defense.
All three of those O's vs our D is like a pillow fight. But, we've got key stops against ND, IU, MSU and Iowa--all four of whom are better and more dangerous on O than the trio of teams focused on above. So, I like the team's chances to look more like the D we saw vs UConn
When we are on offense, I dont think they will stop Michigan. 491 yards a game in 3 Big 10 games. I expect 500 yard days.
I like our chances to win all 3.
Michigan is not ready to compete at the top of the Big 10. That echeleon is four teams strong. But, I do feel MICH is the best of the rest. Here's hoping the next three games bear out my prediction.
See you at the Gator Bowl, folks.
At least on paper, these should seem like JV offenses to the defense after what they've seen the last 3 weeks. I'm sure PSU, Illinois and Purdue will score some points but unless the offense and/or special teams turn the ball over I'm not expecting these teams to put 30+ pts on the board.
I still laugh everytime I think of the AD for Penn St saying they had no games on their schedule worthy of a "white out". He is correct in one sense. His team blows so bad they have no meaningful games this year. On the other hand the games against other teams that blow like Ill and ourselves are in theory going to be tight entertaining games so he has a bunch of games to choose from now.
All three of these games are winnable. On paper, our 500 yards per game offense should roll all three of these teams, putting up 35-40 points per game.
However, last year, we all said "man, thank goodness we are playing Illinois and Purdue, so that we can pick up these 6th win to go to a bowl." Last year didn't turn out so good.
I know, everyone is saying that this is not 2009. But, until the team does something to show me that this is, in fact, not the same team as last year, I will continue to worry that we will lose all (or even 2 of 3) of these winnable games.
2009: 0-4 on the road, looking mostly clueless along the way
2010: 2-0 on the road, coming up with clutch performances and winning in a building that has been doom to great Michigan teams
It is a different year. We'll be fine.
I'm feeling really good about the next 4 weeks after reading Brian's spectacular post coupled with your stats above. First, Michigan is getting a much-needed weekend off both physically and mentally. Next, if Michigan could win the next 3 very winnable games, I would be very okay with them losing to Wisconsin and OSU. A final record of 8-4 would be outstanding, better than many prognosticators' expectations!
And this is the thing.
Before the season most of us said 7-5 or 8-4 and we'd be happy considering the state of the defense.
I think after seeing Denard run wild in Weeks 1-5, we all became a little too blinded by the fact that Denard is awesome and the offense was firing on all cylinders, assuming we could outscore anybody.
But it is imperative we take at least 2 out of the next 3. That gets us to at least 7-5 and a middling bowl appearance.
It's progress. Which is what I think we all wanted.
I am with you in concern (and recurring nightmares), but I am not throwing in the towel. This past Saturday Molk, Denard, and the Hulk went down, and we were a few stupid mistakes away from a game, putting up 500 yards on one of the best defenses in the FBS.
Our guys can and should win all three of these games. They need to set their mind to it, focus, and prepare for it.
You said it yourself. Last year we had 4614 yards of offense (384.5 ypg). This year we currently have 3724 yards through 7 games (532 ypg). That's 150 more yards each game (roughly two TD drives) and projects to 6384 yards through the regular season.
Demens gives our defense hope IMO. Having two competent LBs might give us the ability to move Roh back to DE considering our Spur and Bandit positions also. Stopping the run against these 3 teams is essentially going to stop their offenses. Our offense should be able to put up points against any of these teams assuming that they don't shoot themselves in the foot again.
Edit: I just realized that we will likely pass last year's offensive output sometime in the Illinois game.
in 1958,1959, 1960.
Except for the last 2 years, Michigan has won at least 5 Big Ten games every year since 1967.
So we have nothing to worry about!
The only other three consecutive losing conference seasons were in 34-35-36 under Kipke. The last thing RR needs is to become another entry in that list of dubious achievements, but if we go 6-6 like I think he won't avoid it.
An interesting but ugly side note to the 1934 through '37 teams: against OSU they were outscored a combined 0-114.
I've been tracking this all season. The point spread for the UM/PSU game
It opened this summer as PSU -10. Went down to -7 after Week One. Was down to -3 at the end of September.
It moved to a pick 'em after the Big 10 opening weekend....and despite MSU's smackdown of us, it moved against to Michigan -2 a week ago.
Right now at Sportsbook.com, the line is PSU -2.5
I would expect that line to change it get closer to a coin flip if the Nits struggle at Minny this weekend. If they woodshed them, the line might pop up towards PSU -4.
It would be outstanding to have a MICH +10 ticket from the summer. I still think MIchigan wins this game
out of these three and finish up with losses to Wisky and OSU. We'll beat the daylights out of somebody in whatever bowl we end up in, which will be much less important than the extra practice time we'll be getting, setting us up nicely for 2011.
is so key to the bowl game especially with young teams. Get a lot of the players more reps.
I thought we already practiced too much . . . .
Just curious, how do you see these teams beating us? Or, do you think we beat ourselves?
Combination of both.
Others beat UM due to horrifying defense.
UM beats themselves with mistakes on offense.
either the int's, or the penalties (especially the Iowa game), or the lapses on defense that lead to big plays, I feel we would of had a good chance of winning those two games. You take two of the facets away, we win them both; yeah, I take my hat off to both the Sparties and the Hawkeyes, but I honestly don't think they win those games had we executed as well as they did. The experience of those two losses will paying off in Happy Valley; I don't see our team imploding and finally the football world will see Coach Rod's Wolverines have turned the corner and are on their way to being relevent again. I would say 'return to glory' but the Domers have wore that one out. They probably have it patented anyways...
Cosigned. I just hope they get to 2011 with the same staff and team.
I said 6-6 from the beginning as well. However, I didn't expect "The Denard Robinson Experience" to happen and certainly didn't see us being 5-0 to start. Made me rethink things a little bit. I think we lose to PSU on the road which sets us up for "must wins" for RR against ILL and Purdue.
Obviously, our defense can't stop anybody. Offense has to execute (near)perfectly to win. With as much youth as we have and the pressure situation they're in, I don't see it happening. They are just too young. They'll likely lose 2 out of 3. I hope I'm wrong, or it will be a long offseason.
With losses to OSU and Wisky coming as almost certainties, winning 2 out of 3 against Purdue/PSU/ILL needs to happen or the dogs calling for RR's head will make serious headway with little to refute them. 7-5 or bust for this team and this coach.
But I didn't expect (a) our offense to be that good or (b) Penn State and Purdue to be so weak. Now my best guess is 8-4. I think we'll beat PSU, Purdue, and one of the others, most likely Illinois.
Saying "obviously our defense can't stop anybody" is a silly thing to say. Agreed, our defense struggles against good offenses, and most of our opponents have had that. But they are approving week by week, and against average or below offenses (BGSU or UConn) they are able to play well.
None of these teams have good offenses. Our D will do just fine against them.
We all approve of the week by week improvement (I got your back, man) the defense has made. And we will continue to approve...the improvements. Okay???
I am victors2000 and I approve this message...
What's silly is pretending that UMs defense is anything but patchwork this year. They can't stop a nosebleed, man.
That said, I hope they approve soon! :-)
"Dreads. Illinois has fewer players with dreads but they make up for it by having the dreads guys have crazy Marley dreads that end up halfway down the kid's back."
We are MICHIGAN is it UNACCEPTABLE to have other teams with LONGER DREADS than us! FIRE RR for not making all our players have ultra long dreads! THIS IS COACHING!
If I remember my physics, I believe the equation is 1/2mv^2. The mass of the dreads does far less than the velocity of the dreads. Denards insane amounts of v gets squared, thus overpowering any difference in dread mass that may occur.
I'm confident coaching staff will waste no time in implementing some...hair grooming...techniques...
Even though it is a home game the ILLINI defense looks quite physical and may cause some problems for DROB. I think if we can get the magical 6 th win against a weak PSU team.
their defense is very disciplined. they do all of the fundamental things that we struggle with - maintain gap integrity, etc.
Would anyone trade wins against all three of these teams for one victory over OSU to end the season?
Not me. We need to beat the teams we're suppose to beat, and not become bowl eligible because of a flukey upset.
Agree with this.
Also, I would think it's easier to sell "hey we're 8-4 and the future is looking bright" to a recruit from say Florida than it is "well we ended up 6-6 after a 5-0 start but hey we beat OSU!" Particularly since they might not care about the OSU rivalry.
For obvious reasons, this particular stretch of games is absolutely pivotal both for our success this year and Rodriguez’s future at Michigan. Personally, I feel pretty confident about our chances of winning all three of these games coming out of the break. This would put us at 8-2 by the time Wisconsin comes to town, and if our offense can hold onto the ball and play penalty free football, you never know what could happen at home against the Badgers. I think we have a good chance of winning three straight games coming out of the bye week for the following reasons:
1. Because of the bye week, Mike Martin, David Molk, Michael Shaw, Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint will all be fully healthy and ready to go. This means that by the Penn State game our team will pretty much be at full health.
2. The off week gives the coaches a chance to evaluate our performances the last couple weeks and make valuable adjustments and changes where necessary (for instance, moving Kenny Demens to the MLB spot for the remainder of the season). The break is also a chance to coach up some of the younger guys like Avery and Talbott while cleaning up some of the penalty issues. Overall, due to youth and inexperience, I think that a bye week is more valuable for our team than most other teams in the Big Ten.
3. The overall talent level of Penn State, Illinois and Purdue is much lower than Iowa and Michigan State’s talent level this year. Talent wise, Illinois and Purdue are probably analogous to Notre Dame this year. Purdue lost to Notre Dame earlier in the season and Penn State lost to Illinois badly a couple weeks ago. Penn State is also having major injury problems and depth issues this season—not to mention they are starting a freshman quarterback.
4. The last two games have proven that our offensive talent is for real (I know some of you probably think that I am crazy for saying this). In both the Michigan State and Iowa game, our offensive line consistently dominated the line of scrimmage in the running game. We drove the ball up and down the field at will against both of these teams. Our receivers have proven to be skilled and trusted commodities. With Shaw and Toussaint back, our stable of running backs will be explosive and talented. Finally, a mixture of Robinson and Tate at quarterback will be more than effective enough to beat an injured Penn State team and mediocre Illinois and Purdue teams.
5. The turnovers that we have endured the last two games will not continue against the lesser talent of Penn State, Illinois and Purdue (see the first five games for a reference).
6. Lastly, because of the talent deficiency, our defense will have an easier time stopping these offenses (I don’t expect too much progress here though).
but I ain't gonna be talking about 8-2 until we're 7-2...