Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
Upon Further Review: Offense vs Penn State
|O42||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Run||1||Hart||Zone left|
|Penn State in their base set here and in man cover one. Corners are playing soft... this is an opportunity for an easy slant or something. Instead, run it into a stacked front. We shuffle the fullback; Dan Connor immediately steps over and starts towards the LOS even before the ball is snapped. Boren(-1) is the main problem here, getting blown back by the DT over him. With a guy in the backfield and linebackers all over the second level there's nowhere to go.|
|O41||2||9||Ace Twins||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Penn State showing a two-deep zone with soft coverage. Mike Massey(-1) is shoved two yards backwards by one of PSU's undersized DEs, forcing Hart to cut up behind him. The rest of the blocking is actually pretty good; I think Hart screws up his cut here. If he wanted to dart outside he could have probably outrun a defensive tackle and maybe picked up a nice gain. As it is he burrows for four behind his linemen.|
|Embarrassing whiff on a blitz pickup by Massey(-2) leaves Hart attempting to block two guys. This does not work. Mallett's real short read, Matthews, has run himself into coverage and there's nowhere to go; sack. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Massey.)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 10 min 1st Q. Mesko drops this inside the ten; Stevie Brown misjudges it badly. Oh... and can we make Carson Butler the starting tight end, please? What is it with Lloyd and guys named Massey?|
|O10||1||G||I-Form Twins||Pass||0||Manningham||Slip screen|
|Mallett throws this behind Manningham slightly, forcing him to delay and robbing this play of the timing it needs to succeed. (IN, 3, protection N/A).|
|Well, it's a touchdown. Mallett said he should have thrown this in the postgame, so... (BR, 0, protection 2/2). I am so mean. Should be noted that Massey(+1) gets a key block here.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q.|
|Boren and Mitchell cannot move the DT â€“ think it's Ogbu â€“ and there is no second-level block. Hart cuts behind here and up unto a couple of unblocked linebackers. Excellent job by Mitchell(+1) to seal the other DT, giving Hart enough of a crease to pick up a few.|
|M6||2||7||Ace Twins||Run||11||Minor||Zone left|
|Excellent job by Butler to turn the DE out â€“ PSU is undershifted here for more of a 5-2 look. Kraus does a great job on the DT, getting a little help from Boren late, and Long is free to go out and engulf Lee. Minor darts through an open left side.|
|Motion into a twins look. Butler is wide open off the waggle action, catches it a few yards downfield, and turns it up, making a tackler miss in the process. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|Neither Boren(-1) nor Schilling(-1) can get his guy blocked here; they meet Hart in the backfield and snow him under in tandem. Massey's block is also pretty crappy.|
|Thrown well behind Manningham, so much so that it actually hits King in the chest. Was there if accurate. (IN, 0, protection 2/2). This route had all of two guys in it, BTW.|
|Excellent blitz pickup from Hart. Mallet has plenty of time, can't find anyone, and scrambles out of the pocket. (TA, 0, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 2 min 1st Q. An important couple of first downs on this drive, one of them on a wide open first down pass that we don't even bother trying again all day. But Mallett is pretty shaky so far. I think I am reconsidering my playcalling complaints.|
|We start with Arrington in the backfield; he motions out. I wonder what the point of this is? Mallett throws a slant; King interferes. (CA, 0, protection 1/1) Toney Clemons(-1) lines up on the line, making Massey an ineligible receiver. Also he is wide, wide open on a simple stop route.|
|M31||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||13||Hart||Zone left|
|Overshift from Penn State has an extra linebacker to the playside, but for some reason he darts inside the defensive end, allowiing Butler to ignore him and block Lee; the outside is wide open. Nice downfield block from Arrington. Long(+1) seals with authority.|
|M44||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||0||Hart||Zone right|
|Ogbu, slanting hard, splits Mitchell(-1) and Boren(-1). He ends up falling all over himself but Hart runs right into him and goes down. Play is otherwise well blocked and would have been a good gain.|
|Again with the Arrington motioning out of the backfield. The pass is batted down by a blitzer; it wasn't going for anything anyway as Mallett stared the route down. Three or four even if completed. (BA, 0, protection 0/1). Manningham open on a slant on the other side of the field.|
|A badass throw on a rope between two guys that Brett Favre would be pleased with. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Buried in the backfield as seemingly no one gets a block. Boren and Mitchell most prominently, Butler as well. I have always hated this playcall, even when it works.|
atted away; dangerously close to a pick. Mallett starts off by looking at Manningham but I get the feeling this is a decoy and not a real read for him. He comes off to Butler, who ran down the sideline for seven or so yards, then cut into zone coverage. The trick: Arrington ran right into the DB, kinda-sorta-blocking him momentarily, then released. Mallett was probably late with this ball. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)
|O42||3||14||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Hart||Insane flip thing|
|Blitz is momentarily picked up very well until Kraus(-1) lets Connor spin free and nearly sack Mallett. The only thing preventing said sack: Mallett sort of insanely flipping the ball towards Hart to avoid the sack. (TA, 0, protection 2/3, Kraus -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 14 min 2nd Q. Maguire says he'd be shocked if there weren't twice as many passes in this game as there are runs, which is insane if you consider who the coaches are.|
|Mallett has his pick of open tight ends and goes for the deeper one. This one is to Tacopants, who just caught a fairy touchdown for Penn State. Busy guy. (IN, 0, protection N/A)|
|Kraus flattens his guy and Boren stands up Connor; Hart splits the two linebackers and plows through for a nice gain.|
|M26||3||2||I-Form Big||Run||6||Hart||The Impossible|
|FB shuffle... we run away from it! Connor's so shocked that he falls down on the ground. Massey and Kraus seal a bunch of guys slanting the other way and Hart picks up a first down easily. Now debate amongst yourselves whether this play is worth tipping 20 others.|
|Pump fakes, then fires it in to Manningham past the sticks. (CA, 2, protection 2/2).|
|M44||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|No creases but excellent push from Kraus and Long turns this into a standard wad play for a few. Didn't see the start because of poor production.|
|Penn State slants opposide the direction of this play, shooting a defensive end past Schilling(-1) and screwing up the blocking such that Hart has to deal with the DE and an unblocked Connor two yadrs in the backfield. He manages to make this a positive two instead of a negative two.|
|Bump and run for the other two corners; Arringtons guy much softer. He just runs a little in route after Butler drives off the coverage. No reason for PSU to be playing this soft on third and short-ish, IMO. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O43||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||10||Hart||Zone left|
|Kraus(+1) in a tough position here, asked to block a DT lined up slightly playside of him. He's driven back a yard or two but manages to get his helmet across him and seal him before Hart gets to him. Butler kicks out the DE. Boren and Long are on the second level shoving linebackers back.|
|Mitchell(+1) impedes the backside DT, opening up a hole up the gut that could be a nice gainer except that Long's(-1) second level block is tetchy, defeated by Lee, and Hart ends up submarined after a few.|
|O30||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||-1||Minor||Zone right|
|Again PSU slants against the playside. This completely screws up any chance we have of getting a second level block; Connor fills unmolested. Mitchell is hurt on this play. Cuilla comes in.|
|Same playcall from PSU with DL slanting hard to one side as Connor comes around the backside on a blitz. This time they're caught out, though, as the draw allows the DL to run themselves out of the play and Connor gets picked out by Moudros. Result is gaping hole for Hart. (This is how hard PSU slanted: Jake Long ends up blocking the PSU DE where Boren started the play.)|
|Overshift to the pay side and PSU defends this more conventionally. Boren seals his guy to the inside but lets him slip past; he takes a dive at Hart's legs and nearly takes them out. But he doesn't and there's a hole. Zone block from Long and Kraus blows out the other DT; Butler(-1) completely whiffs his cut against the DE, who tracks Hart through the hole and brings him down from behind.|
|Minor heads right up the middle into an unblocked Connor. I have a major problem with this playcall. It's second and a yard and you're on the 11; this is a down on which you can take a shot at the endzone on a really safe route like a fade or try to pick up five or six so your first and goal is from the five and you can plausibly batter your way in.|
|O10||1||G||Ace Twins||Run||-2||Hart||Zone left|
|Arrington brought in motion to be an extra blocker; all he does is bring another defender, who he whiffs on, basically, as Ogbu gets serious penetration from behind and Hart is snowed under. Cuilla goes down; Mitchell comes back in.|
|Penn State is all over this one; Mallett just gets rid of it. (TA, 0)|
|Overthrown, possibly intentionally because Mathews had guys all around him. Could file his as BR, IN, or TA... uh. I'm sure the message was don't turn it over. A generous TA. (O, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(29), 7-3, 2 min 2nd Q. Ugh.|
|M27||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|Just before the snap PSU rushes a linebacker to the line outside of the tackle on the the playside; he's totally unblocked and in the backfield already. Meanwhile, the heavy slanting has gotten more PSU guys in the backfield; Hart has no chance.|
|Yeah... it's kind of sad that it's second and eleven with two minutes left in the first half and 1) Penn State still has seven guys in the box against this spread formation, 2) we still run against it, an
d 3) we run a freakin' draw when they're obviously expecting run. Connor is unblocked and ends the play near the LOS.
|Mallett rolls out past a crashing PSU DE, then finds Manningham wide open between levels in a zone. Excellent poise. (DO... for the scramble and playmaking, 3, protection 1/2, Schilling)|
|Batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Arrington comes underneath zone coverage driven off by a deeper route, then fights for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|This is a much better place to run the draw. Six guys in the box, linebackers preparing zone drops and soft coverage behind it. Hart doesn't meet opposition until he's four yards downfield. Boren(+1) with an excellent block in the center of things.|
|Missed blitz pickup leads to a throw into the stands. (PR, 0, protection 1/3)|
|Hart stones Connor on a blitz; Mallett waits for Arrington to clear the DB in zone and rifles it in a small window. A little behind but catchable. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Excellent blitz pickup; Mallett finds an open Arrington... and misses him by a million yards. (IN, 0, protection 3/3)|
|Undercut by Seargeant; very nice play from him. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, EOH.|
|M33||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||9||Hart||Zone left|
|You can just see this is going to work on the snap. Penn State is in a base 4-3 that's actually shifted to the side away from the WRs; Michigan motions Butler over to them, balancing the TEs, and there's precious little adjustment from Penn State. Boren gets his head across the DT, allowing Kraus to get out to the second level immediately; Hart has a crease and space and a nice gain.|
|PSU more aggressive this time; Michigan can't seal the DT like on the last play. Hart cuts back behind the mess of the Boren/Mitchell double and a cut backside DE for three and the first down.|
|M46||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||-3||Hart||Zone right|
|Ogbu shoots into the backfield past Boren(-1), and behind him. He should stop to wall him off but he's still doing that "I'm going to run next to you" block as Ogbu gets into the backfield for a TFL. Rest of the frontside was blocked very well.|
|M43||2||13||Ace Empty||Pass||Inc||Manningham||WR screen|
|Michigan does its usual thing where it motions a TE out to a pair of receivers on one side with an empty backfield; this is pretty much always a screen. Mallett short-hops it. (IN, 0) Butler(-1) was moving forward at the snap; declined.|
|PSU blitzes; Hart stones Connor again, but Schilling(-1) whiffs on his guy; Mallett scrambles out of big trouble and dumps it off to Massey. About as well as he could have done given the situation. (CA, 3, protection 1/3, Schilling -2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|Near identical setup to the first, successful run on the previous series, but #91 for PSU dominates his Boren-Kraus double team(-1 each) and blows this play up before it can even get started. I checked: this is Jared Odrick. (NOT Dan Connor, TV persons.)|
|M35||2||12||Ace Twins||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|Schilling(-2) gets beaten badly, badly by the defensive end.|
|Mallett right on the money a yard or two short of the sticks. Arrington hesitates and cannot stretch for the first down; punty time. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 10 min 3rd Q.|
|So, this is one of the playcalls that really bothers me. Penn State has a true, no BS eight in the box with one deep safety and the corners playing eight yards off the LOS. A quick hitch or an out to Arrington or even a long handoff is open here, simple throws against this sort of stuff. We go with the day's first zone counter play, but there's no fricking way Hart can get to the backside because Ogbu has blown past MacAvoy(-1) and well into the backfield. So he goes up the frontside, where somewhat miraculously there's a tiny wedge he can fit through for like three yards.|
|Linebacker runs up into the hole between Long and Kraus, but this is going outside, so he's just run himself into a really easy block for butler. Long(+1) seals his guy and there's no one to the outside. Hart powers through Scirrotto impressively to finish.|
|Frontside all jammed up. As Hart cuts back Schilling(-1) loses his block and his guy sticks Hart for a small gain.|
|Kraus(-2) humiliatingly discarded by Chris Baker and attacked in the backfield. Baker can't tackle but the play's screwed up, as you might imagine. He turns it into two.|
|Wide open; Mallett's throw is a little high and hard but catchable. A
rrington brings it in. (CA-, 2, protection 2/2)
|Aw, come on, Ryan. This is the fifth one in two and a half games.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-3, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|Arrington motions across the formation into a twins look; Mallett fakes the zone but Maybin is out on him quickly. Butler is covered short, and there doesn't appear to be anyone open. Mallett sort of runs up into Butler; two guys converge to sack. Should have thrown this away. (TA, 0.)|
|A dead simple stop route that Manningham catches three yards downfield without a guy between him and the first down marker. This stuff was open all day, as PSU tipped three-deep coverage more often than not. (CA, 3, protection 1/1) Manningham gets some nice YAC.|
|Exact same play to the opposite side of the field, as Penn State tips three-deep again with a corner ten yards off the LOS. (CA, 3 protection 1/1)|
|O48||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||7||Hart||Zone left|
|Penn State again gets superior penetration on the frontside, causing Hart to cut back. Since we're in a balanced formation we have a TE to block the backside LB â€“ PSU in a 5-2 look â€“ and Schilling(+1) walls off his DE. Hart cuts behind the penetrating DT and goes outside of Schilling's block; Connor is caught up in the mess. Something similar happened on a previous drive but Schilling lost his guy. Hart stiffarms his way for a nice gain.|
|PSU's LB blitzes on the backside right into this. To his credit, he reads it well, but Manningham manages to get around him and turn this into a small gain.|
|Mathews open on the out; Mallett throws it to Tacopants. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Penn State's DL slants into some trouble here. Massey is lined up well off the LOS over Long and pulls around to act as a fullback. To his credit, he really thumps Connor and makes a crease between him and a double on a DT from two OL. (+1 Massey)|
|O28||3||In||Ace Twins||Run||8||Hart||Zone left|
|Odrick again gets penetration past Kraus(-1) â€“ we are having major problems with PSU DL swimming past our OL â€“ but can't grab Hart's legs. There's a hole created by the DL's penetration. Hart moves up into it, smartly cutting behind a linebacker getting shoved downfield by Moundros; Connor also caught up in the wash.|
|O20||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||8||Hart||Zone left|
|We set up with both TEs to the wide side of the field, bringing Butler in motion short. They remain shifted to the wide side of the field. This time Boren(+1) manages to get Odrick under control; Long kicks out the DE as Butler and Kraus head to the second level. Kraus gets a decent block on Lee; Arrington's guy disconnects downfield to tackle.|
|O12||2||2||Ace Twins||Run||-3||Hart||Zone left|
|Exact same formation, motion, and play, except this time PSU is loaded up to stop it with an eighth guy in the box and shifted towards the playside. They slant hard; Baker beats Boren and with the frontside jammed up Hart's delay means a TFL. Virtually no one got blocked on this play.|
|Arrington looked criminally open from my seats, but maybe he wasn't. Mallett stands in, waiting for Mathews to come underneath the zone; he does. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O6||1||10||Ace||Run||1||Hart||Outside zone left|
|This is pretty awful from Kraus. He gets blown back yards into the backfield, disrupting this play's timing. I think this was designed to go outside, but we'll never know. Hart manages to get a yard.|
|Penn State's in the backfield before this play even gets started. Both Massey(-1) and Long(-1) lose their guys instantly.|
|Clear contact after the ball is in the air; an obvious call. (CA, 1, protection 1/1)|
|Wad wad wad wad wad.|
|O1||2||G||Goal line||Run||1||Hart||Zone right|
|The "Lionized" run. All effort.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-6, 8 min 4th Q.|
|PSU lines up with a sizable gap between DT and DE on the playside that's supposed to be filled with a blitzing linebacker. Kraus(+1) takes his momentum and shoves him back as Boren and Long get their blocks; no linebacker support with the blitz and Hart is into the secondary.|
|Penn State crashes into this, getting a guy past Kraus(-1) into the backfield immediately; the frontside is overrun and Hart has nowhere to go.|
|PSU with an extra man in the box; we're obviously running; it's a draw. What? Schilling(-1) gets driven back yards by the defensive end, Hart has to orbit around him in the backfield. The rest of it is jammed up.|
|Mallett's to-and-fro pocket
scrambling thing; Mallett rolls out and finds Mathews open. Replay shows that no one was open at first. Excellent play (DO, 3, protection 3/3)
|Massey beaten by his guy, who closes and tackles near the LOS on an otherwise well-blocked play.|
|Michigan allows the DL to slant upfield as they pass block; there's a crease created by this. Moundros crashes into Connor's legs, which is only mildly effective. Hart's only option is to run up into the mess.|
|Interesting: PSU so committed to the run here that they have basically no deep safety with Scirotto moving up at the snap; if Mallett waits like two extra seconds he has Arrington wide open on a seam running free. But a completed slant for a first is good, too. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Schilling(-1) again blown backwards. Very tough game for him.|
|Connor stands up Moundros in the Long-Kraus gap and Hart's cutback is into a bunch of bodies.|
|Apparently ABC just decided not to show this. It was a swarmed zone left IIRC.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 1 min 4th Q.|
So, Mr Grumblypants, what about this playcalling stuff?
Well... after going over the tape I am less offended. Frequently Penn State was lined up in decently attractive fronts to run against and Michigan just couldn't execute its blocks. Also, Mallett was extremely shaky in the first half and was clearly an option not to be leaned on. Still, I question the lack of simple routes against Penn State's frequently-displayed three deep zone.
Also bothersome: two instances upon which Michigan found itself in second and very short in the redzone and declined to use the opportunity for anything other than a three-yard run. The one at the 11 was the biggest disappointment. If Michigan gets down to the five or something, pounding it into the endzone is a real possiblity. First and goal from the ten is basically a field goal attempt when you're running against this Penn State defense.
|Oregon - Henne||1||13||6||3||1||0||3|
|Oregon - Mallett||3||7||2||3||1||1||2|
|ND - Mallett||2||7||4||1||0||2||0|
|PSU - Mallett||3||12||6||3||6||1||2|
This is a seriously rough outing; things were seriously rougher in the first half. At one point I looked down and I was checking off a fifth IN and Mallett was like on 4 CAs, one of them generous. Kid was very shaky early aside from that ridiculous post dart to Arrington. In the second half, things improved greatly.
Special Mallettchart addendum as requested by some commenters:
I... wow. This has to be something of a coincidence, right? I am not a believer in Shotgun, the Curer of Ills, but my God that's stark.
Oh, and protection: 42/51, -3 Schilling, -2 Massey, -1 Kraus, -3 "team" on missed blitz pickups or a batted ball. More on Schilling and the blocking later. First, receiverchart:
An outstanding day. Anything that was catchable was caught.
What was the deal with all the Penn State defensive tackles all up in Mike Hart's grill?
One: Penn State appears to have an outstanding DT rotation. Though Michigan had played three very sketchy defenses to start the year, they were moving guys like Trevor Laws around like they were on skates. The Lions had guys overpowering Michigan players time and again. They're young but Penn State's defensive line was extremely impressive in the run game.
Two: I think PSU had a plan coming into the game that was high-risk, high-reward. Time and again Ogbu or Odrick would actually duck behind the OL firing out to one side or the other, engaging momentarily, then swimming behind the guy. This was one source of all that penetration. Sometimes it worked to the tune of a three yard TFL. If the DEs and linebackers did well enough to slow Hart at all, the DT coming from behind would crush him. However, when this did not happen the out of position DT would end up diving at Hart's legs and there was a major gap for him to exploit. Thus the infuriating pattern of Hart running for 13 or 9 or whatever alternating with three-yard losses that put Michigan behind the eight ball. Note the pattern above: hardly any three-and-outs for Michigan and a lot of first downs but there's always one series that starts out with Hart getting tackled for no gain or a loss and usually a punt that follows shortly thereafter.
Three: Steve Schilling and Justin Boren both had poor outings, Schilling moreso than Boren. This is not entirely unexpected in both's first start against class-A competition. Schilling got blown into the backfield multiple times, and though he maintained a few blocks nicely he was overall a liability.
Four: Mike Massey's not much of a blocker.
The end result was the most negative rushes in Hart's career. Hart lost 22 yards on various carries; his total for the entirety of last year was 39 yards.
So the PSU defensive plan was to bleed a couple first downs and play it safe until they could put Mallett in third and long?
Yes, and it worked. Penn State held Michigan to ten points, basically, if you discount the ten-yard touchdown drive and credit Michigan with the drive that ended in a Brabbs special 29 yard missed field goal. It was a good idea, and if they had any help from their offense it probably would have resulted in a win.
Is there anything we can do about this?
I don't know, man. I think Iowa employed a similar strategy to good effect last year until we started running what looked like intentional zone counters. Why didn't we go with some of that TE-pull stuff that worked so well the last couple weeks? We only ran it once and on that play it was blown up by DT penetration, then we went away from it entirely. Our single other misdirection play was the near-disastrous end-around that PSU was fortunate to blitz an aware defender into. Other than that, bupkis. The lack of misdirection seems a major problem with this run game against competition with guys who can slash into the backfield. See: the Rose Bowl, when Trojan NT Sedrick Ellis crushed Mike Hart over and over, and Iowa, when the undersized but slashing Iowa DL held Michigan down for a half and most of a game.
So what does it mean for Northwestern?
Given Northwestern's performance year to date, probably nothing. It does portend ill for the end of year matchup against OSU and Wisconsin and possibly the upcoming Illinois game. We'll have to find a way to combat PSU's strategy or there will be lots of stops and starts and punts.