Ohio game wrap (with pics!)
Finally! No,... FINALLY!!!!!
So that game was closer than it should have been. Raise your hand if you think the replay official had taken Ohio against the spread. A touchdown would have made it a 10 point game with Michigan covering the 9 point spread. But let's bitch about that later.
10-2 with wins against ND and OSU! It's beyond all expectations. If we hadn't laid an egg at Iowa and gotten screwed by the refs that game, we'd be sitting with just one loss, 3 close wins, and 8 curb stompings. You could say that I'm sold on this coaching staff. I had no idea the coordinators and position coaches would be this good. We still have a lot of issues with our WLB and our secondary, but we're light years ahead of where we were last season.
On to the pics!
I have to give him credit for coming out with an aggressive gameplan that put a lot of pressure on Braxton Miller's arm and Posey's ability to get separation. It almost worked. But the punt from the 36 yard line was a pure Zookian moment.
It's 4th and 4, the game is a high scoring affair, you've been moving the ball pretty well with your mobile QB and there's a strong possibility that you'd only be gaining 16 yards with a punt anyway. There's no debate. This was a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE decision. Their punter did a good job executing the coffin corner kick, but that still doesn't justify the thought process.
Add that to Fickell's continued clock mismanagement, and I doubt you'll find a single bucknut fan who is sad to see him go (or demoted, or whatever). Not forcing a punt at the end of the first half was not that bad with a one point lead, but wasting 16 seconds for a 3rd down spike on the last drive was just awful. You could even hear Spielman rolling his eyes at that.
F* That guy
Miller is going to be a problem going forward. He fits "Urban Meyer's offense" as Spielman called it during the game (so much for the two weeks of pretense) almost perfectly. He doesn't throw a very accurate ball but *cough*tebow*cough* that doesn't mean he can't be successful in that offense.
It is interesting to note that Miller had 9 TD's and only 3 picks. Yeah, he didn't have many yards or attempts and was under 50% passing, but that's still pretty remarkable for a true freshman. He's been missing his receivers in safe ways and pulling it to run if the coverage doesn't look right. That's pretty good ball security for someone you'd expect to misread coverages due to inexperience.
He started out the game doing what we expected, we just weren't ready for his speed on the first couple of plays. On this 2nd and long, Ryan is blitzing from a walked off OLB spot.
But his path is a little too much to the outside. I know he's thinking about contain, but he's got to aim more directly at Boren and then use his arms to stay off the block.
Instead, he gets pushed outside and the tackle is free to release onto Demens.
Morgan has to do a better job of reading that lineman crossing the LOS and react quicker to Miller. Ryan would adjust later, but this gave them an important early 1st down.
Mattison really sold out on stopping the run and stopping Miller's scrambling. On Kovacs' delayed blitz, you can see we did a much better job of filling the running lanes on the rush. Morgan is playing spy (which was kind of useless...) and the D-line is free to shoot the gaps away from the blitzer.
But Miller is very elusive and showed great leg strength in getting away not only from Kovacs, but also RVB. Fortunately Demens and Martin have followed the play allowing Kovacs a second shot at the sack. Meanwhile, Morgan is .... well I think Ohio watched a lot of film on Morgan and decided to go after him all game.
Martin and RVB were great all day (of course), and they were twisting on most passing downs. This is a pretty good idea when the O-line you're facing is known to have communication problems. On this play RVB is supposed to go around Martin, but Brewster gives Martin a pretty good pop.
That's no problem for the two seniors, RVB just decides to go first and Martin swings around.
The center and guard are so concerned with Mike, they let VanBergen go free for the easy TFL.
Miller picked up 1st downs with his legs all day. The early bombs really messed with our gameplan and gave him more room to run. On this 3rd and long, we've got Kovacs in the box in our crazy lineup with all the guys on the line and different people dropping out. Because of the earlier passing success, three people are dropping into coverage, even though Ohio LOVES to call the QB draw in this situation.
The result is that Morgan got caught with his weight going the wrong direction and Miller galloped over Kovacs for a big gainer.
But I think Mattison just decided he wasn't going to let Boom Herron beat us. I think Herron ended up with less than 40 yards because of plays like this. Here we've got Kovacs coming off the receiver to run blitz.
And again you can see the linemen shooting gaps away from him.
Kovacs gets in there so fast that both Boren and Posey are blocking air. Jordan gets the TFL and the Ohio is stuck in another 3rd and long.
Miller ran the speed option a lot the last few games and that continued against us. On this touchdown, he cuts against the grain and makes Roh miss in space. Spielman was babbling about how great a play call this was and how it was a counter speed option.
I call bullshit. They definitely do have a counter speed option, but this play wasn't it. You can tell because Roh is unblocked. On the designed counter, the tackle engages the end and tries to seal him inside or kick him outside.
This looks more like improvisation by Miller. I think they just tell Posey to block on the backside like he means it on every play. They got a TD here simply on Miller's talent, not on any blocking scheme. You can see he takes a hard jabstep upfield that fools Roh just enough so that he can get outside.
After that he makes an amazing jumpcut and his momentum carries him into the endzone.
THIS is the counter speed option, except it's a playaction pass. The tip off that it's a pass is that Miller turns away from the LOS instead of going nose towards it.
It's a well designed play that turns into a rollout to the right. They've got three layers with a deep corner, the intermediate cross, and Stonebrunner is going to release into the flat. If the Defense over pursues the rollout, there's even a throwback available to Herron.
But Stonebrunner doesn't hold his block long enough or Miller doesn't get enough depth and Roh is right up in his face.
A more experienced QB might have tried to hit #11 who is open, but like I said before, Miller has been very safe with the ball. Morgan does a good job of knowing who he's playing against and comes up expecting the run instead of uselessly trailing the TE.
He was wide open though. And Denard made a similar play that turned a sack into a short gain. Maybe Miller will be making those plays in the years ahead. Guh.
I'm just glad we'll have Mattison. Because when push came to shove and we needed a stop on the goal-line in the 4th quarter, Mattison basically declared that Miller wasn't going to run the ball in. And credit Kovacs for picking up the TE on playaction so that Miller didn't have an easy throw.
F* this guy too
With only one game of film to watch, our DB's were not prepared for Posey's talent.
But after a couple of short passes to him, they were very concerned about his presence. A little too concerned.
If Gordon hadn't screwed the pooch on this, the ball was not well thrown and he could have given Brown a harder time catching it since Miller threw it to the wrong shoulder and brown had to turn around to find it.
I'm going to give our DB's a tiny little bit of slack in saying they haven't faced anyone with Posey's skill except for Michael Floyd. And they had a lot of safety help against Floyd that they didnt' get for this game. Posey is as close to Mario Mannigham that I've seen on an oposing team. He does a great job of getting on the DB's toes and making them turn their hips. But still...
Even though this is a triple move, (headfake outside, cut inside, cut outside)...
You can't let a guy get that wide open. Lucky for us this duck was overthrown.
If you're going to put 8 men in the box and play man up against the WR, then freaking play man up. Troy has Posey one on one, but because he's lined up so far back, there's no chance for him to make a play on anything but a fly.
This deep cross was not a fly.
And it didn't help that Posey turned Troy around with an outside fake. Amazingly, Miller hit him in stride (no it wasn't a tight spiral).
Posey did it to all three of our DB's (Kovacs was essentially a LB this game). On the last drive he turns around Floyd. J.T. was thinking about getting an interception, and we almost paid dearly for it.
We were about a yard and a half from being down by a point. There would have still been 1:30+ left on the clock, but I was pretty happy to see this ball hit the ground. Our offense was pretty good, and Denard was pretty accurate, but no offense to Gibbons, I'm glad we didn't have to drive for a winning field goal.
[hit the jump for the remainder]
F* the refs!
It does seem a little strange to be so upset with the refs after a game we won and didn't have an accepted penalty against us until the 4th quarter.
But the Sin of Omission is still a sin. That's pass interference in the 1st quarter. And by now, why should I expect us to get that called, EVER again.
And I don't know how you don't at least handout offsetting personal fouls after this scrum.
Or miss this holding...
Or miss this holding. . .
Or not understand the definition of the word 'INDISPUTABLE'.
That might be short at the 1 INCH line.
Or it might be over by 3 inches. Either way, there's a dispute.
And in no world should the ball be spotted at the one FOOT line.
And this is offsides, assholes. I'll grant Watson's late hit was a legit call. But the holding should have been negated by this guy lining up in the neutral zone. The difference between 2nd and goal from the 15 and 3rd and goal from the 25 is pretty big.
Looking back on the whole season, Borges has done a wonderful job. The thing I'm most happy with is that he said he'd keep Denard healthy and unleash him for the big games, And that's exactly what he did.
And the guy has a playbook that's bigger than many libraries.
This is a look we hadn't seen all year. Jr. comes out of the backfield giving us a man/zone indicator.
Denard does a great job of selling the playside pass by staring at Hemingway,
Which opens up the backside flare screen. I know some people (ok, ME) have been pining for the bubble screen, but if you have other plays that can make #52 and #10 look stupid, then it's all good. If the goal was to keep those backside defenders honest and take advantage of them when they're not, then 'mission accomplished'.
And kudos for going after the guy I hoped you'd go after.
Although, I still don't know why you're in love with the Denard Jet formation, as it hasn't really produced much.
Which, every now and then, results in crap like this.
But if these kinds of 'go nowhere' (3 yards on first down, but only because Vince is a tough S.O.B.) plays are part of the tapestry that puts up 40 points per game, you get on with your bad self. But if we can't crack 20 against MSU at home next year, people (ok, ME) are going to get cranky again.
Full Throttle Denard
The 40 yard TD was all Denard. It starts out with nice blocking to seal the backside.
But the pulling guard has two unblocked LB's to pick from.
He picks the faster guy and leaves Sabino in the hole for Denard.
Denard leaves him in his dust and Fitz does a great job of realizing the play is still going.
So he helps out Omameh and they pick off one of the safeties in the process. But what do I keep saying is the difference between just a long run and a homerun. That's right, downfield blocking.
Gallon does an excellent job sustaining his block on #4 and they manage to trip up #19, and that's what really sent Denard on his way. So Gallon gets a twofer on that TD.
("No passion" may ass.)
But it wasn't a perfect game. One of Denard's two fumbles was caused by him carrying the ball in the wrong hand. (Running to the right, ball in the right, running to the left, ball in the left).
Talk about turning it on at the end of the season. Fitz ended the regular season with another 100+ yard effort and topped 1000 for the year. A great game for the O-line, but Fitz really is starting to live up to the "Mike Hart but with Speed" hyperbole. Let's pray he continues his newfound healthy ways (and that we get a certain 5* early enrollee to follow in his footsteps)
This is the play that had Brian smiling. It's the sprint draw counter, although we hit it a little quicker than some teams, so it's more of just a draw counter. At this point in the game Shazier was already down to one leg, so it didn't really matter if our timing was too quick.
#93 actually did a good job of beating Huyge, but Taylor was there to pick him up and Shazier fell down on his own.
And you've got to love that instead of going out of bounds, Fitz cut back inside to get a few extra yards. (But Denard, YOU go out of bounds and stay healthy!!)
Here's a nice jumpcut from Fitz on #4, who isn't the best tackler, but it's still a nice move.
And Hemingway. gets a nice block to give us about a 10 yard gain on 1st down.
Shazier had to resort to Gholston tactics to slow him down.
I try not get on any individual kid's case too hard unless he deserves it. Desmond Morgan has played great at times. But he's fighting against some limitations. Granted he's only a true freshman, but he lacks the strength, size, speed, and technique needed to be an All B1G linebacker. Maybe that can change, because he's playing with all his heart and I don't wince every time I see him on the field as I have with certain defenders in the past few years. But I do wince when I see him sprawled on the ground as a ball carrier runs past.
There's got to be a reason why he's playing when the guys behind him on the depth chart are more athletic, and I'm betting it has a lot to do with coachibility. So I'm hoping one of two things happens in this offseason. I hope either Morgan hits the weight room like a beast and puts on a few pounds, or one of his backups gets their head screwed on to compete for playing time.
His biggest problem right now is that he's just not shedding blockers the way a stud LB would.
Roh gets kicked out and there's a hole for Miller, but at least Roh can shed his blocker and dive at the play.
Morgan more or less got pancaked.
And here he is getting blocked by Adams, who is a very big man, but that looks like David and Goliath, and David's pad level is too high.
It's one thing to completely whiff on Braxton Miller in open space, he'll do that to a lot of people. But a starting LB at Michigan should be able to get off of blockers.
Watch how Mike Martin and Craig Roh do it. It looks like there's a lane on this QB draw.
Roh has gone a little bit too far upfield, but look at the way Martin uses his hands to stay off the blocker. He can see which way Miller is going to cut.
So he comes underneath to fill the lane. Roh comes back down too. And Demens is in space and reads the draw play. Meanwhile Ohio has decided to doubleteam Morgan because they figure that's where the soft spot of the defense is.
Speaking of Roh and Martin.
This forced fumble on the kickoff (3rd in two games!) coulda been a gamechanger. If we had gotten it and gone up 23-7 early, Ohio might have become one dimensional, we could have dropped more people into coverage, and won the game by a comfortable margin.
Nice hit by Avery who also had the game ending PBU and INT.
The dance squad was looking about as good as I can ever remember them looking. But who let the 5th grader on the squad?
This girl knows how to get about 5000 blogstalkers. It'd be nice if we could get her to hook up with Lloyd Brady.
Speaking of, what a diverse fanbase (student section) we have! It's not easy make Lloyd Brady unremarkable, but check out this lineup. You got Mideastern, Caucasian, Indian, Special Needs, Asian, and Nick Frost! And isn't it ironic that a ghillie suit actually makes you stand out more.
Obligatory Derp Moment: