The stat line was inflated because Borges kept setting downs on fire when he should have gone for the kill. I guess it's ok for at minimum half of the fanbase to think that it's a good idea to run your worst plays and put the game on the foot of a kicker.....twice. It's too bad that anyone who is critical of an obviously poor pattern of play calling just doesn't get it like the coaches who know so much. I'll say it again: Borges and Hoke know a ton about teaching technique that I know nothing about, but all the knowledge they have that we as fans don't just makes it more egregious to stick to the plays that they do. It is insane. I think it's great that the blind supporters think ripping apart an incompetent defense makes up for all the times the offensive plan/play calling has shit the bed. Sorry that opinion turns off all the "manballers."
What To Expect When You're Expecting MSU
Michigan State has a pretty good defense, as you may have heard, and this deep into Michigan State having pretty good defenses there's nothing you can say about it other than "I wish that was not the case." There is some Bud Foster action going on in East Lansing.
Let's review what went down the last two years, in an effort to figure out what Michigan's looking at and what they might do in response.
The trash tornado game. With winds howling around Spartan Stadium, Borges put the game on the arms of Robinson and Gardner and got little in return.
Shotgun or under center? This was almost entirely a shotgun game, and when Michigan went under center it was to throw. Setting aside the disastrous fourth-and-inch from the nine on which Michigan went goal line play action and Brandon Moore didn't block his guy, Michigan saw five snaps from the I-form (two more were penalties, one on each team). One of these was a pitch to Toussaint for four yards. The others were throws. The first was a wild, jinking 15-yard touchdown scramble for Robinson on Michigan's first drive; the others were a sack, a one-yard throwback screen, and an incompletion to Hopkins in the flat off play action.
First down approach? 16 passes, 11 runs. Not that it really mattered. Michigan got a 34-yard touchdown when Roy Roundtree broke a tackle on a slant. They had one other good gain, a 29-yarder acquired when Robinson ignored two open guys, threw at Hemingway as a linebacker was undercutting him, and threw it high enough to get over the LB but short enough for Hemingway to grab it—a lucky fluke. Their other first-down passes acquired a total of –3 yards.
Running was no better, with 36 yards on their 11 attempts. Four of these were Denard's (18 yard total), which boggles. Michigan had 27 opportunities to run Denard Robinson on first down and did it four times. But that's not really relevant with Gardner, who's much more of a dual-threat.
What worked? Virtually nothing. That one long completion where Roundtree beat a tackle in cover zero was the longest play, Denard's should-have-been-pick-six was #2, and #3 was a double A gap blitz on which Vincent Smith was hit in the backfield but managed to pop through a tackle. Breaking tackles to get more than five yards is no way to live.
The rest of it was Robinson running around: a scramble, a jet sweep, a run-around improv throw, a jet stretch, and a QB draw were Michigan's most successful plays outside of the aforementioned.
Was it really as bad as all that? Yes and no. Borges did rip open the MSU defense for several plays that should have been big gains only for his quarterbacks to throw it at covered guys.
Spielman's faith that Robinson would have found the open guy is probably optimistic, but inserting a clearly overwhelmed Gardner was a huge tactical misstep, as he blew multiple opportunities to gash MSU. This in turn may have led to the WR move, which in turn led to the Nebraska game, which… let's stop the counterfactual history of the Michigan program before our heads go numb.
On the downside: Michigan had no answer for MSU timing their snaps, both with double A blitzes and plain old running at the quarterback. This was maddening since it had just happened the year before; there were no adjustments. And they relied on Brandon Moore, who had seen virtually no meaningful snaps in his career, on that deadly fourth down. When that guy doesn't execute, you share in the blame for putting a guy who'd never seen live bullets in a stressful situation. But he's a tight end, and all tight ends must tight end even if they obviously can't tight end.
Wurrfle furffle torghern furfen. Michigan abdicated without really trying here. See: 4 first down Denard runs. The constant snap issues were a coaching issue, not a toughness one. Ditto the thing where Molk put his head up a nanosecond before the snap and had to figure out which of the two linebackers he was going to block and which one he was going to let scream up the middle unmolested.
[2012 and 2013 after the jump]
Shotgun or under center? With Denard returning for his senior year, Michigan entirely abandoned the notion of going under center. Their four snaps from under center last year were two throwback screens for 22 and –1 yards, a goal-line fade to Funchess (incomplete) and a play action hitch to Gallon that was batted at the line of scrimmage.
This sort of helped. Both Toussaint and Robinson squeezed out respectable days on the ground, combining for 148 yards on 30 carries. However, half of these came on a 44 yard Robinson QB draw and that Toussaint run where Joe Reynolds sliced down a safety. Eleven of Michigan's 32 runs were TFLs or zero yard gains; ten more were 1-4 yards. In that environment it's difficult to do anything consistent since eventually you end up behind the chains, and Denard Robinson behind the chains against MSU is not a recipe for great success. Michigan's drives into MSU territory petered out into field goals as they acquired 326 yards.
First down approach? Run run run. Michigan attempted six passes on first down, one the 35-yard quick post to Dileo that would have been a touchdown if Dileo was fast…
…the other five incompletions or a TFL on Toussaint. Michigan ran 18 times for 108 yards, with five failures (<2 yards), six meh(2-5 yards), and 7 successes.
What worked? The inverted veer. Aside from the two big plays, Michigan's five most successful runs were inverted veers (two gives, three keeps), at the cost of two TFLs. Michigan successfully blew MSU DT James Kittredge off the ball all game. Unfortunately, Kittredge is now third-string.
Also: Drew Dileo, who racked up a number of catches in the seam.
Was it really as bad as all that? Well, they won, and few teams really did better against MSU than Michigan did last year in a yardage sense. The snap timing and jumping receded despite Michigan going from the 'gun the whole game. Michigan had a productive day running the ball, all things considered, and avoided the fatal turnover. Michigan should have scored the touchdown that would have put them ahead, but Denard threw an easy pass hard and behind Gallon in the endzone.
On the downside, Michigan's general incoherency hurt them in big spots. Kerridge ran by a DE on a first-and goal inverted veer that Denard gave on:
Either someone's got to crack back on the safety there or Kerridge needs to pop the DE, because once he gets out there there's no one for him to block. Michigan has been terrible at executing their runs mentally for going on three years now, and when things got tight in the redzone the costs were steep. On the ensuing third down from the seven, a double-A gap blitz saw Toussaint whiff and Denard threw it away. MSU is still not getting burned at all on that.
Also: the two minute drill was an abomination, taking Michigan down to 18 seconds before the Dileo bacon-saving completion when a relatively competent offense still has 41.
Wurrfle furffle torghern furfen. LeVeon Bell ran for 2.8 YPA, Michigan actually ran productively, and Andrew Maxwell threw it 34 times. Toughness was not an issue.
Shotgun or under center? Even after the Penn State game, Michigan stuck much closer to their under center dreams, splitting plays almost down the middle. Since it was Indiana, it's tough to draw conclusions, but even against the Hoosiers, running from under center was iffy.
One thing that's over, or at least should be: tackle over. Michigan ran seven times from it and acquired 10 yards against the worst defense known to man; the payoff was one comeback route and a throwback screen that went for 70 that should have gone for six. Short yardage, fine, but if it comes out elsewhere it'll probably be to run super tricky play action.
As for regular under-center business, the rest of Michigan's under-center runs (goal line and the Toussaint pitch fumble excluded) included 5 for 45 on their final drive, and 20 carries for 47 yards the rest of the day. Add in the debatably-useful data from the final drive if you like; either way under four yards a carry against Indiana corresponds to down-burning against MSU. Michigan may be able to get compensation for that with the Jimmy Clausen/Golden Tate/Michael Floyd gameplan wherein you go max protect and go deep, hoping to win one on one downfield.
Any semblance of an offense that moves the ball on the ground will be from the shotgun.
First down approach? Probably more 2011 than 2012. Gardner is proficient deep and has two excellent threats; the run offense has been one of the worst in the nation at avoiding TFLs. With Funchess and Gallon available to test MSU defensive backs in multifarious and sundry ways, unleashing the dragon seems like the way to go.
Wurffle furffle torghern furfen. 27 for 27 pretty much says it all, especially after Penn State got annihilated on the ground by OSU. Evasive action required.
Its not that. Live in the real world man. Here.
Its not that IU makes up for PSU, its that IU shows the guy is not an idiot who knows less than us. That's all. Stop with the straw men.
I would be interested in the resulting plays after. I remember in the interview with heiko, Borges said each play was a counter of sorts, to set up the next play.
is that 27 for 27 in that particular game isn't misleading at all, it's perfectly indicative of return on investment we were getting throughout the game. It wasn't a final total skewed by a sudden downgrade in rushing yards per attempt in the handful of cases where there was an argument to be made (by some) to go 100% Martyball.
I am VERY interested to see what we do given this is the first big game I can remember where we had a bye week to prepare. Seems like we usually get our bye in front of Minnesota, Purdue or Indiana - type teams most years and not when it might actually help us like this one.
ESPN looked at post-bye-week performance in the NFL: http://espn.go.com/fantasy/football/story/_/id/9748736/qbs-home-d-sts-road-show-most-improvement-coming-bye-weeks
Mostly from a fantasy stat standpoint, but interesting nonetheless. Especially that QBs tear it up at home coming off a bye.
Looking at season openers, bowl games and post bye week games-- it usually does portend good things and when it doesn't there are mitigating factors.
Openers: WMU, Alabama, CMU
Three blowouts, two of which UM was on the right side of.
Yea but: CMU and WMU
Well sure but: Countess went down right away and given Alabama's dominance UM's performance against them was relatively 'ok'
Bye Weeks: Purdue, @Purdue, Minnesota
UM won all three by a combined score of 122-40
Yea but: not the stiffest competition
Well sure but: not GopherQuest, IlliniQuest or PurdueQuest level teams either
Bowls: VT, S. Carolina
1 win, 1 moral victory
Yea but: secondary torching against SC still burns, Orange Bowl was a bit of a mess
Well sure but: Torching or not, UM played well enough to beat a very talented S Carolina team. Against VT, Molk injury was crippling to offense.
Thanks for looking that up. It does validate what I thought to be true - that historically the B1G usually makes sure to give us our bye when we need it the least. Somehow they screwed up this year and gave us one right before a critical game.
I'm sure if we win on Saturday they will NEVER do that again......
Bye before MSU next year too!
Don't forget that J.T. Floyd was suspended for the bowl game
I feel like this matchup isn't getting any attention.
I may be in the minority but to me the the defensive performance against Indiana was the very rare exception, not the norm. And the fact that Mattison is the DC and Michigan also just had a bye week I expect to see a dominant defensive performance. Remember 2011 when Mattison got emotional after the ILL game when the defense turned the corner? That's what will happen Saturday.
I've also seen too many "MSU offense is coming on" comments. If Michigan's 63 points against IU is being dismissed how is MSU's 42 against ILL being accepted? They needed a defensive TD and a trick play to beat the worst team in the B1G only two weeks ago people.
I predict complete and utter domination by the UM defense against the MSU offense and the only way MSU even scores is if UM turns it over. I'm sticking with my score prediction from Monday:
UM 38 MSU 0. Go Blue!
(Edit: And one more thing.... Ryan is 100%)
against one of the best defense in the country?
Yep I sure do. Ok maybe 31 with a defensive or special teams TD.
That doesn't mean Michigan is going to go on 80 yard drives all day and rack up 500 yards of offense.
If you read my post you can see my prediction is predicated on Michigan's defense dominating. If that does indeed happen the Michigan offense will be awarded good field position and be working against a worn out defense who's offense has gone 3 and out all day.
Come on guys, have some faith.
Shocked you will be. I'm with MVictors. I don't know that they'll be dominant as he states but I hope Mattison comes out firing and has these guys fired up and playing sound ball; I happen think it can be done. I think Sparty will score, probably on a drive or two, one of which happens to be in the very beginning or out of the gates of the second half. So a TD or two and a two field goals. We should be able to put up 4 TDs on these B-holes and that should be enough.
think Michigan will score more than 3 TDs against one of the best defense in the country.
I'm saying as an objective fan and you're just being a Michigan homer. Didn't you not watch Michigan offense this season? The defense they faced are all mediocre at best and MSU defense is thousand times better than all of them.
Call me what you want but a homer I am not. Sometimes one gets that feeling and I have the feeling and faith that this team can score on mighty Michigan State. Am I going to go wager money and talk a big stink about them doing so? No, I'll absolutely, gladly admit to being wrong but I won't deny I've some confidence in these guys this week; this in oppostion to straight homerism* as you'd like to think.
*This may sound like blind faith, i.e. homerism, but I've seen quite a bit of both teams to come to such a conclusion. I've seen the always fail-safe stats, yes, but have also utilized the eye test. I've seen the offense struggle, for numerous reasons that we've all discussed ad nauseum around here and understand the potential to struggle is there. I just don't see it happening; I foresee a good gameplan by Borges (and Mattison for that matter) and know the athletes on the team are more than capable of executing and playing very good football.
I'll possibly be around Saturday night. We shall see who's right and who's forced to admission on either overestimating or underestimating this team!
I have a feeling too B-Nut. Don't let that Debbie Downer get to you.
If all the defenses Michigan have faced are crap what are the offenses MSU has played? The one decent offense they faced put up 28pts.
And the point of the whole argument was that the MSU offense is going to be so piss poor IMO that UM will be given a lot of oppurtunities against a worn out defense. And of course one of the big disclaimers was to not turn the ball over as well. Like I already stated once, I am not predicting UM to roll up 500 yards and go on epic 80 yard drives all day.
The pessimism on the board this week is flat out sad. From the sounds of it, UM should just forfeit and save the embarassment. I don't want see what this place will look like when its OSU week.
Yea I'm not sure if people are listening to the pundits too much or what (i.e. they all pretty much think we have no shot. I'm thinking these same people thought we had better shots in 08'-09' than we do in 2013). I do somewhat get some of the pessimism, I actually am a realist (not a homer) and have always had my doubts and hesitations about Michigan teams (I had no clue they were that close to being a National Championship basketball team this past Spring), but at the same time we've seen what this football team is capable of; the notion of Michigan St. shouldn't hinder those facts as much as they really are.
has had 3 or 4 straight 100-yd games, but Iowa held him to 43.
Michigan has a stingy run defense, and I think they will do well against MSU there, even with Cook trying to run Tebow style. That said, MSU's run offense is better than Michigan's right now, even with Gardner.
UM's passing defense is not good, and does not have a decent pass rush. MSU is not a good passing team (8th in the league). I do think Michigan gives up some big plays passing with Cook throwing to Fowler and Kings, but will hopefully nab some INTs.
Having Jake Ryan back and 100% is a big plus for Michigan.
I'd like to see a bit more of Mattison's signature creative pressure on Cook, especially early - State's offense is not good, but they have demonstrated that they are capable of executing if Cook has time to throw and the opportunity to get in rhythm. Getting his jersey dirty early would go a long way to discombobulating State and making sure we see the vs. Purdue edition of the offense and not the vs. Illinois version.
We haven't seen much of that so far this year, but hopefully JMFR is back to close enough to 100% for Mattison to confidently dial up a few early blitzes.
The likelihood is that it will be tough going for the Michigan offense, and State's D will probably grab a turnover or two, so it's critical that we dominate the State offense on every "standard" possession.
I think he's getting better, more confident.
Got to stop Langford. He's responsible for most of MSU's scoring.
In MSU's loss to ND, the stat that just screams out at you with both teams pretty even (horrible) was MSU had 10 penalties for 115 yards.
MSU's d-backs are of course very aggressive, which is to their credit, but it does leave them open to drawing pass interference and holding calls.
Cook is still wildly inconsistent though - the week before last was the awful MSU/Purdue game, with only one offensive score, and then you've got a great showing against awful Indiana preceded by a middling to poor peformance against maybe decent Iowa.
Actually, if you look at their "every other week" performance, Sparty is "due" for a bad offensive week
/correlation is causation.
Point is, Cook has yet to show that skill and efficiency in a pressure situation. The more we can rattle him, the better.
The last thing I want to see is a predominantly bend but don't break game plan for UM's defense so Cook can settle in and get somewhat comfortable. I gotta believe there's going to be some butterflies floating around in his stomach when the game starts. You don't need to go all out blitzing every play but I'd like to see them dial up some pressure to force Cook to hopefully make some quick decisions.
if you watch MSU play, you won't find many passing rouths other than a comeback or slant. 94% screams DUH to me.
to Funchess and Gallon and in doing so open up the running lanes...sparty has a great D, but they haven't faced the likes of Funch and Gallon this year which will require more than 2 DB's to guard both of them
I think Michigan has to let it rip on offense on Saturday. I don't think they can expect to win by scoring twelve points this year. I think they have to live by Gardner and die by him.
M is going to win.
They delay blitz, they send multiple guys through gaps, they corner and safety blitz. And the blitz packages are a steady part of their defensive game. Their corners play press virtually every play and the safeties are quick to commit to run support, creeping up depending on down and distance.
You would think that double move routes, stop and go, verticals, deep stuff would burn them more frequently. But their guys hold, disrupt routes and the pressure they generate gives their dbs enough time ahd help to stay with their guys long enough that they don't get burned.
I still think that the way you attack this team is head on, both with quick-hitting running plays, or stuff to the perimeter. You run a lot of clear out routes between Funchess and Gallon as they did against Indiana. and you create a lot of shifting and motion to set up the receiver coverage you want.
Their backers do a great job in penetrating and dropping in coverage. And their corners and safeties do a good job of setting the edge.
This would be a game where adding some packages for Norfleet and giving him an offensive role would be a good change of pace. But having not done anything with him before now sort of precludes giving him anything to do, especially given the nature of the hitting in this game.
Pass first to run. Use receiver stacks, option routes, play action, motion, qb runs, both scrambles, draws and read plays to force their defensive hand, and go deep with Funchess. Throw to Fitz out of the backfied on swing passes to make their backers respect that threat. Attack the LOS directly and to the perimeter.
and I agree entirely...some screens/swing passes to Fitz and Norfleet would be great and spread out Sparty's D and open up the running lanes
Borges said it doesn't matter if you play tight or spread out against the MSU defense. While that sentence makes me uncomfortable, he does have a point. MSU is going to do what they do no matter how Michigan aligns.
Damn, I need a drink now.
from what I've seen, Langford like to start inside the tackles then break to the outside for most of his yardage. Stopping this will the key to shutting down the MSU rushing attack, and the odds for a Michigan win increases if MSU must rely on the pass.
That this was in reference to a Mgobaby. (This coming from someone who had no idea of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" was until I and Mrs. medals were, indeed, expecting . . . .)
Then there's K.O.K.Law's Diary about raising your child to be a Wolverine fan. Maybe he know's something too.
I think the higher risk/higher reward blitzes need to be more prevalent this game. Cook is an inexperienced QB, pressure him into mistakes.
Cook is vet inaccurate as a passer, but is actually good when he has all day like he did against Illinois last week. Need to get pressure on him early to rattle him.
I agree with Cook looking much better with time. Between that, the inability of our defensive line to get pressure rushing four, and MSU's question marks at WR, I wonder whether we'll see more aggressiveness from Mattison than we've been seeing. It seems like it could work here. Then again, he might also look at MSU's offense and figure, "Let's see these guys string together 10 well executed plays to get points."
I think it's a little tricky. We have to bring pressure, but keeping him in the pocket seems important. He seems to look a little better when he's throwing on the run. We need to get pressure while at the same time forcing him to throw from the pocket.
Expect a fake kick or punt on every single occasion! Its coming, it should not be a surprise when it happens!!
MSU just sets up in punt formation every down besides fourth and passes for 400 yards. We are in deep trouble my friends.
Borges decides to run verts every play.
Gardner throws 10 touchdowns to Gallon.
5 to Funchess
Gardner scrambles for one.
We kick field goals at the end of each half but sadly Gibbons breaks his streak of extra points when MSU jumps the snap and blocks it.
MSU scores on 6 pick sixes and a safety via yakety sax.
Jake Ryan eats Connor Cook.
Thomas Gordon has 2 picks but records 0 tackles.
Stribling catches the ball.
34-27 We run into their linebackers far too often, and bend but break just often enough to let MSU stay close. Or we completely shut down their offense but Gardners throws a TD to the wrong team. A very successful screen pass will occur, Norfleet or Gallon, probably the latter. Special teams does not go our way.
Having the bye to constantly think this one over has only made it harder for me to analyze.
Listening to the announcers pronounce Dileo's name Dil-E'-o was painful.
Michigan wins this 14-10. And I'm willing to bet I giggle at the ineptitude of MSU's offense around 18 times.
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27 for 270 next year baby!
It will be our third string receiver that decides the game. MSU will focus on neutralizing the run and our top two threats in the passing game. Either Jackson, Dileo, or Chesson will get some of the most meaningful opportunities if Narduzzi tries to make us earn it at our positions of least strength. He will blitz all day.
Fingers crossed Gardner rises to the occasion and can handle the pressure. And for the love of God please let him not run backwards and not to take a sack / learn to throw the ball away. He barely holds up and we win 33 - 23.
Go Blue. Beat those green sons of bitches.
I miss when Spielman used to be like, " I don't like this one single bit, you don't take your electricity away from your most electric player." Those were the days.
is the bonehead, completely unexplainable interception that we have seen Devin throw vs PSU and whomever else I am forgetting - you know, the one where he is already locked on prior to the snap as to where he is going to throw it, takes the snap looks directly at the receiver and the 1-2 defenders directly in the path of the ball and throws it anyway....Those types of turnovers will blow this game open even with the sparty offense.
Notre Dame was pretty bad. The throw from the endzone into the hands of a DE when the play started on like the 15 yard line.
Akron pick six on a screen pass. I think if he can't see the receiver now he won't throw it. Back then, just fired it in there.