and... i like them? I think I like them.
Upon Further Review: Offense vs Minnesota
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|M32||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||3||Brown||Zone left|
|Seven in the box, so, like, okay. But Minnesota is lying in wait for this, shifted to the strongside. As a result, Boren doesn't have an angle for his second level block and there's a linebacker ready to meet Brown a few yards downfield. Fairly well blocked save for the Boren thing, which wasn't really his fault.|
|The TE-pull makes its first appearance since it showed up once against Penn State. Except instead of a tight end the pulling guy is a wide receiver. Seems like this would be a dead giveaway, no? It doesn't matter, though, as Minnesota bites like whoah. Mallett holds onto the ball â€“ there's no one in his face this time as the backside DE had crashed down on the run play â€“ until he finds Arrington open for a significant gain. Like the ability to take the deeper route here. (CA+, 3)|
|O46||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||-1||Brown||Zone left|
|Boren(-2) doesn't bother to block the strongside DE. Bleah. Think this was supposed to be a counter thing as the FB headed to the backsie; no matter.|
|O47||2||11||I-Form Twins||Pass||Inc||Hemingway||WR Screen|
|Mallett horribly underthrows a screen. I think this is a fumble; it's called incomplete. Fortunate. (IN, 0)|
|DE speed rush almost gets past Long but does not; Schilling, however, is beaten. Mallett steps up past the pressure but can't find anyone and is eventually collapsed upon. (TA, 0, protection 1/2, Schilling -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt,0-0, 11 min 1st Q. Stewart(-1) lets a Zoltan punt bounce at the five and into the endzone.|
|Mallett checks into a pass with Minnesota showing eight in the box and everyone fairly close to the LOS. He can't find anyone, checking down to Moundros. Throw is late and behind him; a linebacker, drawn up by the delay, hits him as the ball gets there. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|M33||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Minor||Zone right|
|Pretty crappy block from Mathews as Minor goes for the edge; Minor does very well to stiffarm a corner and get outside the safety and up the sideline for a few. Minnesota all over the frontside of the play, in a 5-3-1-7 split of their own; counter counter counter dammit.|
|No idea what Minnesota is thinking on the coverage, as they pull up a safety in sort of a robber zone but he's nowhere near anyone. A simple slant is wide open to the outside. This is a completion so I can't be too hard but I think the placement of this ball is too far in front of Arrington and if he was being tightly covered, or someone had jumped the route, is a potential interception. Results based charting service says: (CA-, 2, protection 1/1)|
|50||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||8||Brown||Zone left|
|Long(+1) and Butler(+1) seal the corner, giving Brown an opportunity to use the jets. If Schilling can get a block on the WLB this could go the distance; he doesn't. Tough assignment, but worth noting. Brown doesn't switch arms, fumbling the ball as the WLB gets there; turnover.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-3, 5 min 1st Q.|
|Pass interference called; looked weak live and still looks weak to me. Ball is way too far inside â€“ Manningham has a ton of room to the sideline â€“ and could have been intercepted if this corner wasn't ten. (IN, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|O46||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||0||Minor||Zone left|
|Kraus and Ciulla attempt to execute one of these zone blocks we've seen of late wherein the first blocker blows the guy back and the second blocker picks him up as the other peels downfield. These need a name: they are now handoff blocks. This one is executed poorly, as Kraus(-1) never gets into him and Ciulla can't get there; the result is the DT tackling at the LOS.|
|Linebackers take steps back and get themselves in trouble; three second-level blockers get out to their man and momentarily this looks like a brewing big play; Ciulla(-1) loses his guy, who forces Minor outside, robbing a couple second level guys of their angles and limiting this to a small gain.|
|Minnesota sends the house; Mallett reads it and finds an open Manningham. The ball's knocked down; IMO just bad luck and a good play from the Gopher DL. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 1 min 1st Q.|
|50||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-4||--||Free touchdown|
|Hey, that sucked ass. One clarification from earlier: this was intended to be a run play, not a pass.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-10, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|M21||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||3||Minor||Zone left|
|Michigan seals the edge, as Butler, with some help from Long, blows the DE off the ball and gets out on a linebacker. If he wants it Minor can get the corner; he inexplicably cuts it up. He does get a good push after making contact, but this was a missed read.|
|Minnesota blitzes, opening this up. Good throw and catch; little YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|We get this, but another example of why I hate the stretch on third ands hort. Minnesota loads up the frontside with two linebackers and has eight in the box with one deep safety; Butler takes a hit from a charging LB, eventually stalemating him and driving him back a bit; his one-armed tackle attempt is warded off by Minor at the LOS. The backside pursuers fall, and Minor has a lane.|
|Lead draw fake with Minnesota showing eight in the box. Arrington has one-on-one coverage, running a comeback route that's ends up pretty well covered. Not sure if this was a poor route or poor timing. In any case, the window here is small and Mallett hits it. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2) Curry says this is a horrible read. I don't think it's so bad.|
|M42||2||3||Ace 3-wide||Run||5||Minor||Zone right|
|Excellent push from the right side of the line but four players end up sprawled on the ground in a mess. Minor hops over them, getting popped by Steve Davis after picking up the first. Clay Matvick is always wrong about the yardage. I hate him.|
|M47||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||22||Arrington||Stop and go|
|Mallett pumps; the corner bites on a stop route. Mallett then lofts it into the space vacated. The ball is a little long â€“ Arrington lays out, making a gorgeous grab â€“ but catchable enough. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|We're watching replays as this snaps. Looks like Ciulla can't maintain his block.|
|Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw is a week late. Next time be infinity weeks late. Minnesota's MLB shoots up between OL as if this play is sort of... predictable.|
|Batted down. Bleah! (BA, 0, protection 0/1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 3-10, 10 min 2nd Q. Lopata called a senior; he does have another year.|
|M37||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||5||Brown||Zone left|
|Again attacking the edge; a combo block from Long and Butler drives the DE back as Criswell takes on the corner. There's a gap between the two. Butler eventually loses the Long-provided momentum and allows his guy to come free to tackle with the help of a linebacker.|
|M42||2||5||Ace 4-wide||Pen||-5||Boren||False start|
|Butler spread wide; Mallett tosses a short out that's well covered. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Mallett with all day, eventually firing it long to Manningham in virtually the same spot on the field Arrington was. Like that pass, this is a little long and outside, but Manningham makes a fantastic juggling catch. (CA, 1, protection 3/3)|
|O15||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||8||Minor||Zone left|
|Going after the edge. Helmuth in as a second tight end. Butler can't really seal his guy (Long does a great job to make him the only relevant player) but does stalemate him. Minor meets him two yards downfield; he, Butler, and Helmuth combine to make a train that plows its way inside the ten. Powerful running.|
|O7||2||2||I-Form Twins||Run||-2||Minor||Zone left|
|Ciulla's asked to make a near-impossible block as Boren ignores the NT lined up directly in front of him. Ciulla can do little but chase him to Minor. Minor manages to get past him, but the play's messed up. Stretch on short yardage.|
|Overthrown. (IN, 0, protection 2/2) Curry says he's just throwing it away, but there's a window here since Arrington can jump out of the stadium; Mallett misses it entirely.|
|Drive Notes: FG(26), 6-10, 6 min 2nd Q.|
|Arrington runs a stop route; a Minnesota player plows him. Mallett has to take off. After initially trying to get something downfield, he settles for a decent run. (TA, protection 2/2)|
|Eight in the box for Minnesota. We have an inverted TE set with Webb [erroneously IDed as Butler earlier. -ed] in a two-point stance on the line next to Moundros in the backfield; we run a draw off this. Webb(+1) gets an outstanding block on the linebacker attempting to contain; two guys come up inside; Moundros does a good job with one. This time Minor makes the right read, shooting outside into acres of space for a big gain. Long also excellent here.|
|O45||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||12||Minor||Zone right|
|Shuffle right, run right, away from the TE. This time we get an actual zone block from Ciulla and Boren, who drive the DT back; Ciulla(+1) peels out on to a linebacker as Helmuth hits the hole. Long has made the tough stretch block on the backside DT, the one Ciulla could not make on the last drive. This allows Boren to head downfield and flatten a linebacker. With a crease and no chasers, Minor hits the secondary again. (Replay)|
|Miscommunication between Long and Boren; both head out to the second level, allowing the frontside DE in unmolested. Think this is on Boren because, well, obviously, right? Brown runs past the DE; he makes a shoestring tackle.|
|Minnesota stacks the line and sends them all, six in total. Arrington gets a step on the seam and has the opportunity to make a catch with only a safety to juke for the endzone; Mallett overthrows it. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Excellent coverage from Minnesota: a bump and no separation; Manningham forced to the sideline. Mallett loads up and threads it in there; Manningham makes a good catch as the corner fails to locate the ball. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O5||1||G||Ace Twins||Pen||-5||Ciulla||False start|
|Ciulla(-1); he's yanked for McAvoy.|
|A horrible decision; an equally horrible throw bails him out or Mallett throws an interception here. What's worse is he had a simple dumpoff to Mathews on the "TE" pull with no one within ten yards of him. Maybe a touchdown; definitely five yards. (BR, 0)|
|O10||2||G||Ace 3-wide||Pass||6||Manningham||WR Screen|
|Mathews in the backfield; he motions out to two guys at the top of the formation; I mutter "screen"; Michigan screens. Excellent blocks from Arrington and Mathews; I wish Manningham had attacked this a little harder and picked up another yard or three. (CA, 3)|
|O4||3||G||Ace 3-wide||Pass||2 (pen)||Manningham||Slant|
|Manningham abused; flag. (CA, N/A, protection 1/1)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||Run||2||Minor||Zone left|
|Can I use a touchdown as a further example of why I hate stretches on short yardage? The Minnesota MLB shoots into the backfield, nearly tripping Minor at the five. Minor manages to run past him, then cut up into a massive hole as Boren(+1) blocks a mofo into the wall.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 13-10, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|We motion the TE to the side oppose our FB offset, then run to the offset. Ciulla and Kraus combine on a crushing zone block that drives the Minnesota DT five yards downfield; there's a gaping hole up the middle as a result. Good job by Boren to seal the backside DT, and good downfield block by Long. Helmuth uselessly runs up the back of the zone block, allowing the MLB to tackle unblocked, but only after six yards; Minor carries him for three more.|
|Kraus has a tough time with the DT, getting no push and no seal; escorting him down the line to Minor. They meet at the LOS; Minor pushes forward for the first down. Think Minor misses a cutback opportunity here, as Schilling cut the backside DT to the ground.|
|Schilling(-2) lets this guy in, sure, and this is another instance where he's been shaky in pass pro. But Mallett has to help the guy out and step up in the pocket instead of running right into the DL and fumbling. (PR, 0, 0/2, Schilling -2)|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 13-10, EOH.|
|M31||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Minor||Zone left|
|A late-blitzing safety makes this a seven-man front with another cornerback coming up to cut off the outside. Kraus again does an adequate but not great job on the DT. No penetration but no push and no seal. There is still a small gap between the DT and DE that Mallett flows up into. The Gopher safety does a good job of picking through traffic to pop Minor after he squeezes through the hole; more Gophers converge, including the aforementioned DT.|
|Same story with Kraus and the DT except a charging Moundros does a great job of chipping him as he plunges through the hole, knocking him backwards and to the ground. Moundros then continues on, helping Minor get a cutback lane by shoving a linebacker on the second level. Minor into the secondary. A Dudley-level play from Moundros here. Also, kudos to Schilling for getting a late cut on a backside DT.|
|Minnesota brings an eighth guy in the box and blitzes a linebacker right into the G-C gap on the frontside where the last two plays have gone. He gets through and tackles for loss. On Debord.|
|M40||2||13||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||WR Screen|
|Michigan motions a TE out to two receivers at the top of the screen; I mutter "screen"; Michigan screens. Mallett throws it over Manningham's head. (IN, 0)|
|Mallett with time; can't find anyone. He steps up, continues to look around, and eventually scrambles for a few yards. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-10, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|Miss the first portion of this play coming back from commercial... I mean, no big deal, it's just a 48-yard run. Even better: the replay is from ground level. From what I can tell, Kraus gets a seal on aDT; a frontside zone double shoves the other guy out of the hole, and Boren(+1) plows the MLB. Long must have gotten a good cut as tehre's no one on the backside when Minor cuts back. From there he's off to the races.|
|O43||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||0||Minor||Zone left|
|Eight in the box; Kraus(-1) has a bit of a hard time with his guy and Minor decides to take it outside instead of heading upfield in the gap. Butler(-1) doesn't to a good job on Davis, forcing Minor further outside; the play is strung out.|
|Minnesota blitzing up the middle; one unblocked linebacker picked off by Moundros; the other is forced to halt by the traffic. Unfortunately, McAvoy has peeled off in a futile attempt to get the second blitzing linebacker, allowing Davis to fill on a play that otherwise would have worked for near first-down yardage.|
|Mallett one-hops a stop route that wasn't going for the first down, anyway. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 13-10, 9 min 3rd Q. Zoltan, angry, boots it into the endzone.|
|M25||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||8||Minor||Inside zone|
|A rare zone play that's not a stretch. Michigan is fortunate the unblocked Davis doesn't shoot into Minor on this play; as it is he's a foot away. Minor cuts out of the intended hole, finding a crease between Butler and Schilling; he meets resistance 3-4 yards downfield, powering forward for a sizable gain a
|M33||2||2||Ace 3-wide||Pen||-5||McAvoy||False start|
|A well-timed corner blitz gets to Minor in the backfield; the corner trips him up by his ankles. Kraus(-1) defeated on a second level block; this wasn't going anywhere anyway.|
|Well, yeah, of course he makes this throw. Wish it was a little bit inside, as then it's a touchdown, but that's a tiny nit to pick. Manningham blew by on a straight fly route. Oh, I hope you're really really back. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Minnesota shifts very late, bringing up an eighth guy and throwing two linebackers at the strong side of the play. In the stands, I go "noooooooo" as Michigan snaps it and runs right into it; Brown breaks it big. Outstanding job by Helmuth to stone one of the strongside linebackers; Brown heads outside of him. Long blows the DE back; Boren... uh... definitely gets away with holding, dragging the DT to the ground. Criswell loses another LB but manages to block him out of the Long-generated crease. Secondary time. Five yards downfield, Brown meets up with Long still driving his guy back; a filling safety trips over the Minnesota DE's legs. Brown slips down to the five. This should go on Long's Heisman reel.|
|O4||1||G||I-Form||Run||4||Brown||Inside zone left|
|Key to this play is a powerful zone double from Boren and Kraus that drives the DT back four yards; McAvoy just barely gets enough of a cut on the backside DE; Schilling heads out to the second level and gets a good cut on a LB. Helmuth stones a guy on the fronside; Brown runs up the backs of Boren and Kraus for the TD.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-10, 3 min 3rd Q.|
|The Minnesota LBs are washed out; the MLB shoots upfield and is shoved to the ground by Kraus; Long engulfs the SLB. A safety heads outside for contain; Minor follows the FB between Butler and Boren(+1), who got the DT sealed at the last moment â€“ no grasping arms. Minor bolts through the hole and into daylight. (Replay)|
|Not sure what Moundros(-1) is thinking here, as there's a cavernous hole on the frontside that Davis is trying to fill. He peels off and hits a backside DT who's not a threat, leaving Davis alone. Minor manages to cut back for a few because the drive blocks mentioned previously (Boren +1, Kraus +1, Long +1) have opened up major space.|
|O48||2||7||I-Form Twins||Run||6||Brown||Zone left|
|Our unbalanced line that we toyed with against Eastern; still a 100% run formation. Minnesota appears to know this, shoving an eighth guy in the box and shifting to the overloaded side; doesn't matter. Boren(+1) again gets the DT sealed; Long and Butler have crushed the DE downfield. A desperate arm tackle from a pancaked backside DT and Schilling's inability to cut his guy lead to a tackle, but it's six yards downfield.|
|O42||3||1||I-Form Twins||Run||1||Brown||Zone left|
|The unblocked backside DE comes in to make this play... actual blocking was definitely sufficient for the first. I dunno... Brown sometimes goes down too easy for my tastes. Not much YAC in his legs.|
|I disagree with Bill Curry on everything. I just wanted to say that. Everything. Except an Englemon tackle earlier in this game. Mallett sneaks it.|
|Perfect throw; Manningham toast his guy; ballgame. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-10, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Criswell(-1) gets beat; the delay that causes allows the backside unblocked guys to close it down.|
|Critical error from the Gopher DT, who takes a step back instead of slanting hard left; this allows McAvoy to slide out on him and get a block as Kraus heads to the second level. Boren does a good job on the other DT; Moundros crushes one linebacker; Schilling cuts the other one. Brown jets for the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 34-10, 8 min 4th Q. Charting? Over.|
Well, that was... confusing.
Indeed. I mean, just look at the--
Those three DOs were all near-perfect bombs; two more CAs were further bombs that receivers laid out for. Other than that, though... ugly, ugly, ugly. Many of those incompletions were on screens and stops. The BR was also IN or Mallett throws a terrible redzone interception; in general TAs and BAs and PRs are not held against the quarterback unless they start to pile up... six is starting to pile up. And then there was the free touchdown. This was without question the most schizophrenic quarterback performance I can remember.
As a result: several scoring drives when the long completions came in with bupkis otherwise. Frankly, Mallett is a C- quarterback at the moment, and Henne's health will be critical for the stretch run.
It is nice that when Mallett does something right it's often damned impressive. He seems to have terrific command of the pocket and has arm strength for days. He was supposedly very accurate in high school; both Navarre and Henne had skittish days where they sailed a lot of balls before working their mechanics out and getting accurate. Mallett has a world of potential; still, I'm concerned that he will remain thoroughly bad through most of next year.
A flawless day from the wideouts, albeit in limited opportunities to actually catch the ball. The first two bombs from Mallett were circus catches.
Protection: 27/31, Schilling -3, Team -1.
A great day from anyone who wasn't Schilling, and Schilling wasn't awful. Just Minnesota, though.
Why did we run so much better in the second half? Was it the Ciulla-McAvoy switch? Something different we did schematically?
Not in my opinion. The key, IMO, were a few truly outstanding blocks from Boren and Kraus on some of Michigan's many zone lefts. Long was also near flawless, but he is always near flawless. During the Illinois game it was clear that Michigan was one block away from breaking into the secondary time and again. Against Minnesota they were again one block away through much of the first half; in the second half they started getting those blocks. I'd like to see Boren match that level of performance against a defense that isn't the worst in I-A before anointing him Arrived, but it was a really encouraging performance from him.
Also, Mark Moundros spent much less time flopping at the feet of linebackers and more time punching them in the facemask with his head; this was the first time this year the fullbacks were a definite positive.
As far as the scheme goes, there were a few instances where we saw true zone doubles on the interior of the line -- Brown's first touchdown run for one -- instead of the stretch blocking we've gotten used to over the past year and a half. These were generally very effective, perhaps because the Minnesota DTs were in no way able to stand up to them. That might not be as effective against lumbering tubs of goo.
Long, Kraus, and Boren; Manningham. Minor, I thought, was the better of the backs, consistently running with power and picking up YAC.
Mallett was the main reason the offense sputtered early. Schilling appears to be a weak link in pass protection.
What does this mean for Michigan State?
Very little assuming Henne and Hart plays. I think everyone's more worried about Henne now that Hart's backups have shown they aren't straight off the short bus, if that's a takeaway lesson.
Other things that might be relevant: Boren is quickly playing himself out of "oh God, so young" status. Manningham looks to be back to the form he
flashed before the meniscus injury last year; Spartan cornerbacks beware.
Overall, this offense was sabotaged/saved by a freshman backup quarterback playing against the nation's worst defense. Little can be gleaned.