"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Upon Further Review: ND Defense
|1||10||O24||Pass||6||Man coverage against a crossing route, Stovall versus Chris Graham(?)|
|2||4||O30||Run||7||Woodley loses outside contain(-1)|
|1||10||O37||Run||9||Walker bounces outside, no contain again. Biggs(Biggs? -1) gets wasted by Levoir|
|1||10||50||Pass||Inc||Wide open Smarjajajaj, Mason(-1) blows the coverage. Woodley(+1) does beat the tackle but is too far away to affect the play|
|2||10||50||Pass||12||Corner blitz gets telegraphed (Hall -1) and picked up and they have a route right in the vacated area.|
|1||10||M38||Run||9||Wow. Biggs(-1) gets pancaked and gives up the corner for a big gain.|
|1||10||M27||Pass||10||Slant in front of Mason off a blitz. Not bad by Mason, just the right call for the blitz. Good read, inaccurate throw.|
|1||10||M17||Pass||9||Dump off to Walker in the zone, Mason(-1) allows Walker about 4 yards he could have stopped with a good tackle|
|2||1||M8||Run||3||Lucky this wasn't a touchdown, double OL pull looked like it was going to crush but the linebackers (Harris +1, Burgess +1) managed to hold at the point of contact.|
|1||G||M5||Pass||5||Touchdown. What is Hall(-1) doing? Already playing off McKnight and backpedals off the snap.|
|Drive Notes: Jesus. Two of these plays are pretty much guaranteed first downs due to the offense winning the rock-paper-scissors battle. No Watson at all on this drive and Rondell Biggs? Rondell freaking Biggs? He's getting run over.|
|1||10||O22||Pass||4||Walker is the outlet. Seemingly good coverage downfield.|
|2||6||O26||Pass||8||Quinn finds Fasano in the zone's hole. I think Graham should have been in better position, there was no threat to the inside.|
|1||10||O34||Pass||Inc||Woodley(+1) comes around the corner, forcing Quinn up into the pocket and forces the throwaway.|
|2||10||O34||Run||5||Draw should have been stuffed but both linebackers take the middle hole when Burgess(-1) should have had contain.|
|3||5||O39||Run||-7||This is either an idiotic call or a missed check by Quinn. Motion reveals UM to be in a zone, so Trent's obviously going to come up. Unblocked Biggs(+1) keeps contain.|
|Drive notes: Weis overthinking things with the reverse. The short passing was working.|
|2||6||O27||Pass||6||Another Walker dumpoff.|
|1||10||O33||Run||6||Stretch play to one side is pretty well strung out but no one from the secondary is there at the very end. Mason(-1) is the guy who should be there|
|2||4||O39||Pass||Inc||Ton of time but Quinn misses Smarjajajaja.|
|3||4||O39||Penalty||-10||Holding drawn by Branch(+1). Good coverage downfield.|
|3||14||O29||Pass||Inc||Corner blitz from Hall(+2), who nimbly avoids the tackle and flushes Quinn. Receiver drops it, Engelmon was there for the tackle even if he caught it.|
|Drive notes: Fortunate on the Smarj miss. We see our first instance of "Grant Mason, downfield tackle specialist." Breaston hit immediately on the PR. This has bothered me for two years now: why don't we double the gunners?|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Inc||another Quinn f-up. Biggs was coming. Guy was open.|
|2||10||O20||Run||1||OMG OUTSIDE CONTAIN. Engelmon(+1) lets everyone else catch up.|
|3||9||O21||Pass||Inc||Again an open receiver and Quinn misses him.|
|Drive notes: Quinn can't throw. Only reason we stop this drive.|
|1||10||O20||Run||-1||Woodley(+1) destroys his man and makes the TFL all his ownself.|
|2||11||O19||Pass||-5||Safety blitz from Engelmon(+1), who's unblocked , and makes the sack|
|3||16||O13||Pass||18||They rush three here, completely inexcusable call. Absolutely terrible.|
|1||10||O31||Run||3||No cracks in the interior of the line, which is Massey and Johnson.|
|2||7||O34||Pass||-6||TE screen after a fake, Burgess(+1) slices up and makes the tackle.|
|3||18||O22||Pass/Scramble||7||Holding call is declined after Branch(+2) just kicks the ass of the C and G, forcing Quinn to scramble.|
|Drive notes: Great series except for the insane rush three on third and 16 thing.|
|1||10||O28||Run||4||Woodley can't quite get to Walker outside and the help is a little late.|
|2||6||O32||Pass||7||Fasano in a hole in the zone.|
|1||10||O39||Pass||Inc||Quinn can't find an open receiver and Woodley(+1) forces him to dumpoff inaccurately to Walker.|
|2||10||O39||Pass||3||Flare to Walker against a zone, that's not gonna work.|
|3||7||O42||Pass||9||Again Fasano, again a three step drop against the zone.|
|1||10||M49||Run||8||A doubled Will Johnson gets crushed, and the pulling guard nails Burgess.|
|2||2||M41||Run||4||I think it's Watson(+1) that drives the guard way back into the backfield but Graham(-1) misses the TFL and allows the first.|
|1||10||M36||Pass||Inc||McKnight catches the ball but gets plugged by Engelmon(+1), forcing the drop and probably ending his career, unfortunately. Looks really bad.|
|2||10||M36||Run||13||Draw to Walker. Just hard to stop him when he moves up into the hole and just decides to go the other way. Could have been holding on Van Alstyne, maybe.|
|1||10||M23||Run||17||Jesus. Michigan appears to have six guys in the box against 3WR, and Walker takes advantage, the OL just crushes every Michigan player in its path.|
|2||G||5||Pass||5||Goddammit. You lucky bitches. (Graham +1 for the deflect, despite the result.)|
|Drive notes: The second and last effective ND drive of the day, again based on short passing and Walker, who proves himself to be a really good back today. Some of those yards are just due to his excellence, but there are still major contain issues, and I'm surprised UM hadn't decided to just screw deep coverage and make Quinn get off the short-yardage stuff.< br />|
|1||10||O28||Pass||0||Screen to Walker, Harris(+1) cuts between the blockers and blows it up.|
|2||10||O28||Pass||4||Three step drop and fire.|
|3||6||O32||Pass||-9||Corner blitz from Hall(+1) is unblocked. Total pickup bust, as the TE, lined up wide, stays into block and completely ignores Hall, who's running right by him.|
|Drive notes: Three and out with one nice play, one meh, and then some fortune.|
|2||7||O15||Pass||4||Another three step drop, Burgess makes the tackle. They aren't even trying to throw anywhere downfield.|
|3||3||O19||Run||4||Draw to Walker that works entirely because Massey(-1) gets doubled and pushed back a couple yards and then the guard pops off on Harris.|
|1||10||O23||Run||3||Massey(+1) does better here, holding his ground and making the tackle.|
|2||7||O26||Pass||-2||Corner blitz again from Hall (+1). Walker's cut attempt is weak and Hall just goes around him.|
|3||10||O23||Pass||26||Double blitz from Mason(-1) and Trent(-1), both of whom miss. Quinn jump throws and it's right on the money, somehow.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Inc||Stovall is open and Quinn reverts to his normal inaccurate ways.|
|2||10||O49||Run||-4||Massey(+1) avoids a block and pops up into the hole, when Walker tries to bust it outside, Woods(+1) is there for the TFL.|
|3||14||O45||Pass||-9||Snap goes over Quinn's shoulder, totally his fault. Woods is there to clean up.|
|Drive notes: Quinn stepped up and made a crazy jumping, floated, accurate touch throw between two zone defenders, but other than that Michigan is doing well.|
|1||10||M33||Run||3||This is jammed up nicely. Walker cuts it back, then cuts it back outside, catching Woodley a little off guard.|
|2||7||M30||Run||4||Watson(+1) plows his guy into the backfield and trips up the FB, but he falls three yards forward because there's no one else behind him.|
|3||3||M26||Run||1||Quinn fumbles the snap.|
|Drive notes: The drive starts with a really nice punt and the both Harrison(-1) and McClintock(-1) miss tackles. Three and out, FG anyway. ND is now in total clock-kill mode.|
|1||10||M23||Run||Harris(+2) slices up into the hole and forces the fumble.|
|Drive notes: What drive?|
|1||10||O5||Pass||9||All day for Quinn, but can't find anyone downfield and hits the outlet.|
|2||1||O14||Run||5||Harris(-1) runs into the wrong hole.|
|1||10||O19||Run||1||Powers-Neal into an 8 man front, which goes nowhere, largely because of Watson(+1)|
|2||9||O20||Run||3||Again they run into an 8 man front, Adams comes up to make the stick.|
|3||6||O23||Pass||Inc||Quinn lofts a jump ball out to Smajajja. Morgan Trent(+1) is fast and there. He finds the ball, and makes the play. Nice.|
|Drive notes: run-run-inc-punt.|
|1||10||O20||Run||0||Harris(+1) takes on a blocker and forces it outside. Mason comes up.|
|2||10||O20||Pass||-5||Why was this even called a fumble originally? Quinn was obviously down.|
|3||15||O15||Run||1||Perfunctory run and punt.|
|Drive notes: Another instance of Weis out-thinking himself.|
|1||10||O20||Run||5||Watson is held but there's no call made, else he swallows this at the line.|
|2||5||O25||Run||-1||Burgess(+1) penetrates immediately and Watson and Engelmon clean up.|
|3||6||O26||Pass||Inc||Harris comes on a slightly delayed blitz between the G and T off a stunt as Biggs(+1) plunges into the G and shoves him into the C.|
|Drive Notes: Sigh.|
Plus/minus? What the deuce?
Call it an experiment, a very rough one. You get a + for a good play (one that's out of the ordinary) and a - for a bad one. Certain plays garner greater + or - than others. I'm still tweaking it; I think the scale is too low because I wanted to give out a lot of half-plusses and half-minuses. It's a work in progress, and will probably never be comprehensive.
|Woodley||4||1||3||Not enough from him.|
|Biggs||3||2||1||Got crushed early in the run game but was relatively solid afterwards|
|Watson||3||-||3||Did this with very limited playing time, all instances of crushing opposing blockers and gumming up inside runs.|
|Branch||3||-||3||A holding penalty drawn and another instance of explosive interior pass rush, that precious thing long reserved for the Florida States of the world.|
|Burgess||3||1||2||A few more contain issues|
|McClintock||-||1||-1||Bad play was a missed tackle that led to a good return|
|Harris||5||1||4||Night and day from McClintock.|
|Graham||1||1||0||Didn't really do much.|
|Mason||0||4||-4||16 tackles for a cornerback == bad day.|
|Hall||4||2||2||+ mostly from blitzing.|
|Trent||1||1||0||The + was a very nice, very important play on third down towards the end.|
In fairness to the cornerbacks, there were several instances of Quinn getting copious time to find receivers but failing to do so and dumping the ball off to Walker. I assume everyone had good coverage downfield in those instances, but it's impossible to confirm that. It's obvious when they screw up.
So... how did we do?
The stats (like 230 yards allowed) are too kind. Michigan was often bailed out by Brady Quinn and The Hilarious Attempts To Throw Downfield and in the fourth quarter the ND offense, nursing a persistent two-touchdown lead, was largely content to run-run-inc-punt. But 230 yards is 230 yards; this was a decidedly better performance than against NIU. The zone seemed to work well. There were many instances where he couldn't find anyone downfield. The blitzes Michigan sent were consistently effective.
There remain issues with the DL pass rush and the linebacker containment, though. No sacks were logged by non-defensive backs and other than a couple hurries from W oodley and Branch there was little threat from the linemen. Walker got outside the defense several times and kept the two ND touchdown drives moving forward when the hole was jammed up. Maybe that's a don't get burned on play action move? Note that the free safety, Barringer, is not mentioned once anywhere in this recap. No 76 yard runs today, but Walker still busted 100. Damned if you do, don't, etc.
What was the deal with the DL?
Rondell Biggs took more snaps than anyone at DE and Will Johnson and Pat Massey probably logged more DT snaps than anyone else. Watson and Branch played less but made more plays. I don't understand the substitution patterns at all. What happened to Van Alstyne? Why Johnson instead of the consistently-threatening Branch? And for God's sake can we get a linebacker to clean up some of the Watson destruction? When he was in there he was really good. I understand that he's not the fittest guy and everyone was pissed after NIU, but come on now.
Who is the MLB?
David Harris, end of story.
Who is the nickelback?
Morgan Trent, apparently. He was tested only once and came up with a very nice play. ND fans generally think that Smarj and Shelton are good WRs and ND went with a lot of three wide sets, so he must have been doing something right to not be thrown at, especially as a redshirt freshman in his first game experience.
Charles Stewart has seemingly contracted underwood.
You want to "huggle" Engelmon?
You're goddamn right. No screwups yet.