"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."
Well, that went better than expected. There's plenty of good things to see, but almost all of them come with caveats:
We shut down a QB with a decent arm who was pretty productive last year
Denard's running WOOOOO!
DLine got good pressure
We're causing lots of turnovers
Defense looks more sound in general
We kind of dominated a decent team
He was missing his NFL caliber WR's
Denard's passing, eeerrrrr....
DLine kept losing contain
We're giving away lots of turnovers
Every now and then we look like the keystone cops
Brady Hoke has their playbook, signals, and personell memorized.
We were 4-0 the last two years...
Next week won't be much of a challenge or informative either. Especially if Marquis Gray is injured or hampered. So the good news is that we look like it's an easy road to bowl elligibility, but whether or not we can beat any decent bigten teams remains to be seen for a couple of weeks.
I don't know if his throwing arm/shoulder is tweeked, or if he's still just struggling with his footwork, but his accuracy is way off from last year. He had a terrible overthrow on the deep ball, the interception that got batted up was due to placing the ball too high when throwing at the TE, and the other interception was due to him missing the zone coverage. He's also staring down the screen receiver and other receivers sometimes.
But hey, HELLLOooooo speed option!
This play works because of two things. Two of their defenders just flat out over-run the play because they're freaking about Denard's speed
And we get great downfield blocks that are sustained. It really is as simple as getting a hat on a hat when you've got dilithium in the backfield. The play is setup so nice that Vincent is celebrating the TD before Denard even passes the line of scrimmage!
Here's the same moment from behind. That's a nice hole.
Give some credit to SDSU, they stuffed this play when we ran it again in the 2nd half. But when you've got a guy who can do this:
You can't win just on positioning.
You can have perfect position, and Denard can stil make you look silly.
Lloyd Brady Approves! (drink)
Various Defensive Awesomeness
Mike Martin is awesome. I think all D-Linemen should have a background in Judo or Wrestling or both. On this play he doesn't get to the QB, but he causes a rushed throw with his bull rush.
First, he's quick off the line and gets underneath the pads of the guard and pops him back.
Then he drives him back so hard that the tackle has to come down and help out.
But he's got so much momentum that he's buckled the guards legs and knocks him over.
At that point there's nothing left to do except laugh at your defeated foe and scream bloody murder at the QB. RVB also does a nice job of beating his man on his speed rush.
Kenny Demens is often awesome. On this play Demens demonstrates the textbook definition of "fill the hole and blow up the blocker".
This is your typical power iso play with a FB and a pulling linemen leading the way. Demens recognizes run action and gets on his horse.
RVB does a great job on his slant to fill the hole. This bounces the play outside. Demens reads this too and accelerates to take on the blocker.
Hawthorne is a little slow to react and gets blocked too easily here. But because Demens hits his man so hard, the ballcarrier has to stop his feet and go backwards.
Meanwhile, Jake Ryan has beaten his blocker with a quick step (Dude has a quickstep, this is my meme for Jake Ryan from now on.) and cleans up the play with a TFL. Hawthorne is getting held, but he has to do a better job of reacting and shedding his blocker. This is probably why he got benched for a bit.
Craig Roh is still fighting for more playing time in the DE rotation, but on this play he shows how to shed a blocker using leverage.
Roh is kind of tall and lanky, that can be a good thing or bad thing depending on how you use it. Here he pushes his blocker sideways and gets him off balance.
Then he just tosses him aside and has eyes on the ball carrier. Results in a TFL and great play.
From the other angle you can see how Roh uses the blocker's arm as a lever and just dismisses him. Hawthorne could learn a thing or two from this.
But it's not all sunshine and rainbows.
In last week's tardy diary, I discovered a new pet peeve. That pet peeve now has a name. It's called FUCKING AROUND WITH ALIGNMENT IN SHORT YARDAGE SITUATIONS. (FAWAISYS)
It's one thing to flop the defensive alignment when it's 1st or 2nd and 10 or even 3rd and 5. No one's in a rush and it doesn't really matter if you give up an easy yard or two. But when it's 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1, you're really pissing me off with chinese firedrill bullshit. It makes you vulnerable to the quicksnap and if you're all worried about where you're supposed to be, you're not thinking about the play, the snap count, or the 600+ pounds of blockers that are coming at you shortly.
It happened all game. And it's not like we're forced to do it. It's just that some d-calls have us locked onto their formation strength.
This is the most egregious example:
This is a three man shift, the two TE's on the left are moving to the right and the FB that was at flanker is moving into an I form. Jake ryan is perfectly at rights to be moving. Nothing wrong yet.
And then the ILB's see it and swap places. Okay, nothing big about keeping the Fritz and Mike responsibilities on Hawthorne and Demens respectively.
But do the DE's really need to flip on this play? Are their responsibilities and talents that different? Why can't RVB just squeeze down and Jirbeel Black flex out a bit? Or is it that Black can't take on two blockers and needs to speed rush from the uncovered end?
So now we got 8 guys moving around and they've got about 1.4 seconds to get their shit sorted out.
Which is made harder when the two DE's collide 0.o And the secondary is completely lost and in no position to support the run.
It's 3rd and Fricken 1!!!
So, let's summarize. It's 3rd and 1, our DE's are hugging each other, our OLB is out of breath from sprinting into position, our DB's are in a cover 2 umbrella, there's about Umpteen million different ways for SDSU to pick up 1 yard without having to touch anyone, and we've got about 0.7 seconds to get lined up on 3rd and fucking 1.
Yes it's true that the offense has to reset for a second after the shift, so you theoretically have time to get setup. But one of these days it's going to bite us for a critical conversion. So far, Brady Hoke's Magical Golden Poop actually got SDSU to false start while we were running around like chickens with their heads chopped off.
I'm not thrilled with our FB play. #44 doesn't seem to get his pad level low enough or drive through his blocks.
Hopkins.... HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
WTF is this? Does SDSU have some new cheerleader wannabe's?
I always enjoy your pictures because of the "?"s and funny captions. My favorite has got to be Theo Riddick saying "why dis so hard?" after fumbling a kickoff reception. I hope that we see a ridiculous amount of red question marks in your wrap up for the game against ohio.
and glad to see your message is consistent ("This is why you don't teach players to play only strongside or only play weakside").
Unfortunately, it seems like it's mostly a personnel issue right now, correct? That is, we simply can't afford to have our WDE at the point of attack, especially in short yardage situations. So the problem is exacerbated, since short yardage situations are the most likely to exploit our defense. Maybe in short yardage, we should sub in a SDE for the WDE, so there are two SDE's?
Your Notre Dame edition was one of my favorite two or three diaries ever. I e-mailed it to non-Michigan fans, one of whom replied: "that is very, very cool."
Your point on the Chinese fire drills is well taken. Mattison was asked about it and insisted they will keep doing it and get it right. I could be wrong about this, but I can recall very few opponents quick-snapping after getting set; maybe it has to do with the rules on how long you have to wait. But I agree, it's a short-yardage disaster waiting to happen.
You don't really need them except for the beginning and the end. You need a guy to go "OK, everybody . . . start!" and then "OK . . big finish. . . NOW!" And that's about it. The middle is just for show.
Totally agree about the defensive flip flops. Teams are going to start taking advantage of this (looking at you, MSU). I think Dantonio would be the first to notice and exploit something like that and I will be surprised if we don't see him try to do that in a couple weeks.
If memory serves, there are MMB directors positioned around the field so that the members always have a director in their line of sight. They all direct all the time to make sure they're all continuously synced with each other. I think. Maybe that's just during halftime performances.
It's not necessary during pregame. Not to mention that only the people on the edges could see them. Boerma claps and does the HAIL fist pumps during pregame and is responsible for giving the drum major the tempos. That's about it.
If I were an opposing OC, on EVERY 3rd and 1 (until Michigan stops doing dumb things) I would simply flip the formation and quick snap and do the Tom Brady run up the middle thing while our DL is running around like idiots. It's pretty much guaranteed to pick up 3+ yards and likely much more if guys still haven't settled in. I agree that we need another solution to this problem.