Mike Lantry, 1972
That wasn't a football game.
In hockey, there's an unwritten rule that an enforcer isn't supposed to go after a goal scorer. There's a reason why guys like Yzerman and Gretzky have teammates like Probert and McSorely. If Gholston wants to fight a left tackle and get suspended for his WWF moves, then he's an asshole and he deserves an ass whooping, but it's not that big of a deal.
But the moment he starts taking cheap shots at Denard, that's when someone needs to 'show him the error of his ways'. In the clip above, Macguire fights Yzerman while Probert is being held by the linesman. Probert can't fight Macquire honorably because the refs are in the way, but a message needed to be sent. "YOU DON'T DO THAT." And if the refs aren't going to do their job (30 yard penalty on the late hit and facemask, ejection for the punch), then someone on our team needs to say "fuck it" and take matters into their own hands.
And frankly, I'm disappointed in our team. We didn't fight back. You can't let that happen to your teammate, you can't let that go unpunished. Charles Woodson wouldn't stand around and take that. He and Marcus Ray would be looking to hit someone.
Hockey players have long memories, will our football team?
So I waited a while before starting to write this because I didn't wan't it to be a profanity laced rant. (Waiting was only mildly effective.) I hate rewatching losses. And this week, there's really not much point. We lost that game because of pretty simple and obvious reasons.
- We got out hit
- We got out blocked
- We got out tackled
- We got beat on playcalling
- We got beat in the film room
- We got beat in the passing game
- We got out rushed
And even with all that, we were a horrible pick six away from tying the game. Mostly because Pat Narduzzi is a dirty coach.
I'm trying to not be a negative nilly, but holy fuck. How do we not call a single screen or misdirection run when we know they're blitzing up the middle? How do we abandon the running game in the 2nd half? What happened to "manball?" The first drive worked, what happened to the zone reads? Not a single fucking bubblescreen? IT'S FUCKING WEEK 7, WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE BUBBLE SCREENS?
And can we find a defensive back who can tackle Martin? Two field goals instead of two TD's makes that a completely different game.
And to all those saying "Blah, Blah, Blah wind", the wind is a fucking excuse. Good teams adapt.
Keeping it in perspective
I think we can pretty much stop worrying about any division titles. You don't have to be a stats major to realize that the probability of us winning out, multiplied by the probability of MSU losing twice after having already beaten OSU, us, and WISC, (even if it did take special teams and home field miracles) is pretty small. Yes it could happen, but we need to focus on beating a rejuvenated Purdue team. At this point, I wouldn't mind if we end up going 2-3 the rest of the way, so long as one of those wins is against TSIO.
I think we've got the talent and coaches to win out. But having said that, there's not a game on our schedule that won't be a challenge and our odds of winning the last 5 are not that much bigger than losing 4 out of 5.
Keeping up appearances
So, about that jersey stunt, FUCK YOU DAVE BRANDON, FUCK YOU. I'm sure there's a whole list of people I should be directing my anger at (starting with Addidas and Nike and ending somewhere near the equipment manager's office), and Brandon has done lots of things that are good, so it's not a general "fuck you". But regarding the jerseys and the marketing B.S., FUCK YOU DAVE BRANDON, FUCK YOU.
Taking the long view
Mattison is still impressive, but I worry about what's going to happen next year when we lose Mike Martin and RVB. I don't follow recruiting very closely anymore so I hope we've got some studs coming in on both the O-line and D-line, and for crissakes, would it be too much to ask for a 5* runningback? I hear rumblings of a pretty good recruiting class, but we've got lots of playing time available for any blue chips that want to help Michigan get back to our championship days.
That used to be us...
It wasn't so long ago that we had an interesting offense full of lowly recruited who-dats that would spread you out and infuriate opposing defensive coordinators. At least until we committed a few turnovers and fell apart in the second half.
But now we've returned to the pre spread and shred days. Now we've got an offense that can grind out the clock when needed. And now we've got a defense that can come up with the crucial stops and force critical turnovers. I think this game finally proved that we're not the same team as last year or the year before. Because this is exactly the kind of game we would have lost back then, i.e. it was a conference game against a team with a pulse.
But lets not start celebrating a division title just yet. Next week will be the toughest challenge yet and we've got lots of problems we need to correct.
It does bode well that we seemed to address many of the problems in the 2nd half, but let's take a moment to understand what went wrong in that first half.
1st half Denard
He's not a tailback playing QB. But he is still a young QB who makes bad reads sometimes. All three of his interceptions were due to him not reading zone coverage.
His first INT is probably the worst of the misreads. #45 is an OLB covering the slot, he's not going to be man to man with Jr. The free safety is drifting back at the snap, and the corners are playing off. I really don't understand how Denard could read this as anything other than a soft zone. And if he read it that way and threw it anway, then it's a terrible throw. The lack of a bubble screen is still bugging me as this play would have picked up an easy 5 or more yards with a good block on 2nd down.
Even without the bubble screen, Roundtree is wide open for the sideline hitch, but Denard is locked in on Jr. probably because he'd already hit him for one jump ball.
The 2nd INT was on a QB dive OH NOES! except NW had the right defense called.
When Denard looks to the right, he sees the safety has walked up, but if he had looked to the left, he would have seen zone coverage.
Denard starts towards the line, but the TE releases quick. The safety must have done a good job in film study, because he starts backing off to get into his zone.
Denard gets some pressure right in his face, which probably contributed to the pick, but the main point here is that the TE is supposed to drive off the safety to free up Vincent on the wheel route. This doesn't work if the safety is playing zone.
So with the ball in the air, and not much zip on it thanks to the pressure, the safety has an easy job of coming off the TE to get the pick. I think putting Koger on a steeper angle, more like a slant or a true post instead of this skinny post will make the read easier for Denard.
The third INT was due to Denard getting locked in on his man, not surveying the field, and not reading the safeties. He also had a terrible underthrow.
Before the snap, this looks like a straight up cover two. The playside CB moves up late.
Denard thinks he's in man and gets all excited when the WR zooms past him. But the CB has flat responsibilities on this play.
Because the ball is badly underthrown, there was some debate about whether it was really an overthrow to Jr. I hope not, because Jr. is bracketed with double coverage. I think Denard is staring down the outside fly route. But because he's looking that way the whole time, he's pulled the safety into perfect position for the INT.
Denard also had one more throw that should have been intercepted.
This pop pass to Koger was delivered too high and with too much steam. Too much adrenaline. This is a bad no-no.
Because if that safety is in the right position, this is the kind of tipped ball that gets taken back for six.
I'm not worried about the jump balls, so long as we're actually getting man coverage. Especially against the kinds of athletes Northwestern fields in its secondary, our WR ought to outfight most DB's for an underthrown jumpball. I am worried that if we try it too much against the likes of MSU or TSIO that have B1G caliber DBs, it'll blow up in our faces.
ND has good athletes at CB, but we showed it could work against half of them. Gary Gray got exposed, but Robert Blanton had a nearly soul crushing pick and another pass break up. I haven't studied MSU's DB's enough to see which are vulnerable, but hopefully Denard and Borges have. The game could easily turn on whether or not we get a couple of TD's or a couple of INT's on the jump balls.
1st half option woes
The defense wasn't looking very good in the first half either. When people talk about a return to the Lloyd Carr days, I hope that doesn't include an inability to stop the option. You hear it said all the time (because it's true) that stopping the option comes down to communication and being responsible on the edges. We didn't do a very good job of either of those things in the first half.
On Northwestern's first TD, they come out with a covered (and thus inelligible) slot receiver. This probably means it's going to be a run, because we're too close to the endzone for most double pass plays. The corners have to recognize this and be screaming at the far side OLB that he doesn't have support. (Really Ryan should recognize this on his own, but in the heat of battle, it really helps to get those cloud/eagle calls, or whatever we call them. Kovacs bears some responsibility for this miscommunication too.
At the snap, both MLB's get sucked in by the dive. Ideally, if you know the option is coming at you, Ryan should be drifting wider, Hawthorne should be scraping C gap and trying to get to the QB, leaving Demens with the dive and pursuit. I feel like in a split back situation, Hawthorne needs to be reading both backs, instead, he's only keyed in on the frontside back. That's fine, but it means Demens has a much harder task to follow the option man to the edge.
So yeah, all three of our LB's are blocked and Colter sees a lot of empty grass between him and the endzone
Kovacs almost saves our bacon on the play, but Colter puts a nice move on him.
And our other safety is way too far away to help out.
This next option play is from a trips formation.
I feel like Demens should slide over a bit against this formation. He's going to be in zone coverage on this play anyway.
NW runs the speed option from the pistol. The playside tackle pulls out and hauls ass to seal the edge and get to the 2nd level. This leaves RVB free, because he's the man that Colter is going to option. Demens is a little slow to react.
Mike Martin does an excellent job of beating his man on the slant, if RVB had seen that, he should have gone more upfield and tried to get in between the QB and pitchman letting Mike clean up the QB. The two slot WRs double down on the nickelback.
He does get held, which wasn't called.
Mark ran through some arm tackles and picked up a huge gain. Gordon has to do a better job of fighting through his blocker to make the tackle.
This next option is from the Colt 45 (what I call the heavy pistol).
The FB is really more of a secondary threat, as I think this play is designed to disguise the standard belly dive. This is also designed as a key buster, because normally it's the FB who takes the dive fake and the TB who goes into pitch relationship.
I think Hawthorne is reading the FB which is why he takes himself out of this play.
Kovacs is in no mans land because he has to respect the option pitch.
Give credit to NW's O-line who opened up a nice hole, although it does look like #76 is getting away with a bit of a hold. J.T. is not in run support on this play.
So we end up giving up a pretty big play to the first man through, but the first man through was the tailback. If you're looking for a silver lining, check out the pursuit. That's 5 guys who haven't given up on the play and it's this kind of thing that keeps a 20 yard play from turning into a TD. And if the ball happens to get knocked out, then we've got a lot of guys around it to fall on any potential fumbles.
On their 2nd TD, we've got pretty good alignment to stop the play
If you play a lot of DE against the option, you learn how to outside shade the QB so that you can bait him into keeping it and then collapse back into him and the pursuit. If he pitches it, you end up in good position to clog up any cutbacks. RVB runs a little too directly at the QB (and he looked gassed at the end of this long drive). The safety is in good position to make the tackle, but the DB's have to shed their blocks as soon as they sense linemen drive blocking (this is where people shouting RUUUUUN! RUUUUN! helps).
Floyd is getting pushed way too far back for this redzone play. And Carvin takes a bad angle and doesn't break down to make a solid tackle.
So he overruns the cutback.
Northwestern, who sees the option a lot in practice, shows you how you're supposed to defend it.
Their in a base 4-3 against this splitback slot. But the OLB is flexed way out to help with the zone coverage.
Both the Mike and the Sam read option and start flowing playside.
Hopkins doesn't sell his fake very well on this play. Huyge does a good job of scraping off his man, but he doesn't get to the LB who is on his horse, having correctly recognized the play.
The DE goes to Denard to force the pitch, but OLB has kept discipline and is playing the pitchman (who didn't get a good pitch relationship to Denard).
The Mike easily beats Huyge's block and Denard just has to eat it.
But the good news is that when it counts, our defense stopped a huge 4th down option because Kovacs is all heart and smarts.
Roh does a great job of playing outside shoulder on the TE and forcing the pitch. Morgan does an ok job of taking on the FB, which leaves Kovacs to clean up the pitchman. He didn't wrap up, but he took out the ball carrier's legs and he get a huge turnover on downs.
If you're a Northwestern fan, I can understand why you might be upset after that game. But on closer inspection I think the refs did a better job than it appeared on first blush. (Better than the announcers)
Let's start with one that went your way.
On 1st down, Colter gets tackled with 40 seconds on the clock, and you've got a T.O. that you don't take. O.k. w/e. Maybe you can get to the line and get off another play quickly...
BUT you DIDN'T. The ball isn't snapped until there's only 12 seconds left. That's pretty bad clock management.
And you're lucky to have those 2 seconds to try a field goal. Watching it live, I thought the clock had expired. Remember, it's not basketball, the clock doesn't stop until the ref signals it to stop. I've seen lots of games end this way, because it takes the ref a second or two to wave his arms and then for the clock operator to push the button. In this case, you can see that the ref made his incomplete signal with a second (not two) still on the clock.
Now let's look at one that went our way.
Gordon and Demens have stood up Ebert after NW had been killing us on bubble screens. Gordon strips the ball even though Ebert has two hands wrapped around it. You can see that the ball is coming out before his knee has hit the ground.
And Brian, please stop saying that fumble recoveries are mostly luck and are 50-50 as to who recovers them. Some fumbles are. But the ones that aren't tip the scales. Here we've got 5 guys hustling towards the ball versus one guy who is going to have a mountain of defenders on him and another guy who is flat footed. The odds for us recovering this fumble were very high.
And I almost feel sorry for this guy. He had a great game. It wasn't good enough to beat us, but it was a good effort.
Both of those plays look like good calls to me. The only one I think you've got a fair complaint on is the helmet removal.
Kovacs is coming on a delayed blitz (which, those are some big balls Mr. Mattison) on this all important 4th down.
Because Persa ducked, it doesn't look like a facemask from this angle. Just the friction of the defender's body can often remove a helmet in a situation like this.
But on the slow-mo replay you can see his hand in the grill.
And on this frame you can see that Kovacs actually Goatse'd the thing off with both hands, one in the facemask and one under the ear pad.
So I don't blame you if you felt like this. That's a pretty likeable coach turning Brian Kelly Red (Kudos to the liveblog commentator who came up with that). Howeva, to quote a quote:
Media, as in badge-wearers. Fox Sports's resident officiating expert on the Kovacs/Persa decapitating:
Some face mask penalties an official should never miss. This is not one of them. When I watched this play in real time and even after the first replay, I did not think the face mask was grabbed. So many helmets come off, and often it has nothing to do with the face mask being pulled. In this case, however, the last replay indicated that Kovacs did grab the mask with his left hand. The referee, who is behind the quarterback, would never see this, and he is the only official who is watching the quarterback. It was a foul, but not all fouls can be seen. Coach Fitzgerald was penalized for running out on the field to argue, which is absolutely the correct call. You cannot let a coach come as far onto the field as Fitzgerald did to scream at the officials. It makes no difference whether there is a missed call. That cannot be allowed.
The helmet came off pretty quickly, so it's hard to fault the refs. But I'm of the opinion that slightly less prideful officials might have huddled up, sneaked a peak at the big screen and then quietly dropped a flag. Flag coach Fitz, but also Kovacs, assess the liveball penalty, then march it back 15 for the deadball penalty, 1st and 10 Northwestern, but at the same LoS.
And lastly, we've got the interception by Hawthorne.
From the front angle it looked like he got his hand under the ball.
But from the back angle it looks like the tip of the ball hit the ground and the ball moved. This is the kind of play that is inconclusive and would have gone whatever way it was called on the field. So I guess we got lucky on that one.
- Jersey switch
Several players (including the entire D-Line) switched Jerseys at halftime. I didn't notice it on the fuzzy streams, but the board commentators pointed it out.
Depending on who you believe, it was either because the old jersey's are tighter, or because the new jersey's rip too easily. Either way, our D-line was being held a lot and not getting the calls.
- Mike Martin is still awesome (when not getting held).
- Good Shaw: getting to the pylon ala Chris Perry
That DE can't match his speed.
And Gallon gets an excellent block.
- Bad Shaw; juking a man that has been pancaked.
The play got about 7 yards, but it could have been much more. Seriously stop dancing when you don't need to. This is the kind of thing that Nick $aban would cut you for, just so he could recruit another 5* freshman to replace your indecisive ass with.
- The BTN is still more of a mickey mouse operation than the mickey mouse network.
- And the announcers are not very good with facts.
- Hey Spartans, guess who's next.
The defenses are yelling spoon!
And the offenses are the little guy pleading "Not in the face! Not in the face!"
This was a fun game to watch if you don't like either of the teams. Both teams have pretty good defenses and horrible, horrible offenses. MSU's only threat is B.J. Cunningham and OSU's passing offense is reminiscent of 2008 Michigan (The wonderful Threet/Sheridan days). Both teams have major issues with their offensive lines. MSU's problems can be explained by a lack of experienced personnel, but this is a little surprising for OSU.
Luke Fickell will not be the head coach of OSU next year. The only question is whether or not his replacement gets hired before the end of the season.
Balls were slippery...
But before we get too giddy here, it should be noted that there was a misty rain and the ball was wet, so that accounts for a tiny bit of the Herpy-derpy-ness. Like this:
The punter actually recovered the ball and got off one of his ugly-ass rugby kicks.
Stanton Nichols Cousins doing his best Tommy Rees impression.
MSU on D:
When you don't respect the other team's passing, you can walk up your safeties and do a lot of run blitzing.
On this play, the short side safety walks up before the snap even though 2nd and 9 is often a passing down.
The flanker comes in motion which makes the other safety tip off that he's in cover 1. The CB is playing run support all the way. The safety is blitzing the C gap.
The OSU TE is oblivious to the blitz and 76 (the RT) is doubling down the DT for some reason. Notice how the MSU MLB is completely free to clean up the place. OSU's O-line had trouble getting to the LBs all day long. I don't know if they've had a major philosophy change, but it looks like their linemen are not getting the right assignments on the zone blocking scheme.
Blah, blah, punching bag, blah...
I thought it was going to be easy, I didn't think it was going to be that easy. And while it might be fun for a little while, by the 2nd half it was kind of embarrassing and pointless; unless you're a second stringer. We got a glimpse of some of the younger players, so I guess that's good from a program standpoint, if not from a viewer's POV.
You had me at hello...
Ok, so maybe I hadn't ever heard of you before you got hired, Mr. Borges. But what you did on Saturday, well, I haven't smiled like that since 1947, and I wasn't even alive in 1947.
You found a way to effectively use two of our best (highest rated) players on the same play. You sowed confusion and hesitation into opposing players and DC's. You called a halfback pass that was freaking WIDE OPEN.
To be true, I was a little worried about some of the playcalling in the first halves of the previous games. But after demonstrating so much flexibility and creativity in that game, you've won me over.
My hat is off to you, sir.
It's the simple things ...
At its core, football is really just about blocking and tackling. Almost anyone can draw up a play (or copy it from someone else). But it really is about how well the players execute that makes the difference between good teams and bad teams. Of course, it is easier to execute when your guys are bigger, faster, and more talented.
Denard's first TD was a good playcall, but the blitzing OLB didn't take himself out of the play like he was supposed to.
He almost brings down Denard from behind.
But I'm really impressed with the increase in Denard's leg strength this year. He's broken through a lot more arm tackles than last season. Other than the blitzer, we've got a hat on a hat. It's up to the QB to make one man miss, and he does, because he's awesome.
And the highest praise I can give a WR is to note when they sustain blocks downfield. Here we've got three guys making me think good things about them.
This next play is a type of sprint draw to Shaw
The blocking is setup perfectly by the fake and there's a wall to the outside.
Unfortunately Shaw misreads this great crackback block by Gallon and dances too much. He loses momentum and gets tackled for a modest gain. (more on this later)
When your players are too small, or slow, or confused to execute properly, you end up looking like Gophers.
The Minny O-line has actually gotten their assignments correct and have a small crease opened up. The pulling linemen has to choose which of the run-blitzers he needs to pick up.
He chose ... poorly. And the rest of our front seven collapse the hole.
And when you've got guys like Mike Martin and Will Campbell that can just run over people, that's nice.
If you're wondering who was supposed to block BWC, it's that lump of white that RVB is trampling over while he drives his own blocker into the backfield.
That looks painful.
So underneath all the fancy chalk talk, it really helps to have guys that can win one on one battles, and go to the correct places. It's all just blocking, tackling, and misdirection.
And throwing to guys who are wide open.
And throwing to guys who are wide open.
The RB Committee.
At this point in the season, Fitz and Vince have clearly established themselves as options #1 and #2 on the depth chart. I think Fitz can be that everydown back we need, but we'll have to see how well he holds up against non-laughable bigten defenses. With his TD trifecta, Vince just proved he's not a runningback. Vincent Smith is just a football player. And a damn good one.
Shaw... step into my office son. As a senior, you should be a team leader. You have track star speed. Your ball security has dramatically improved from the RR era. And we can really tell that you run with great effort and determination. But dude, STOP DANCING. You're not a dancer.
You're wasting all that great speed because during the time that you should be accelerating, you're two footing around in the backfield. You're not setting up and reading your blockers well enough. And you're still lacking that certain leg strength to run through arm tackles.
When someone grabs Denard's jersey, he runs so hard that the jersey rips away. You looked like someone hooked a towing cable to your bumper.
You've got a lot of potential. But just cut down on the moves. Make one cut and get upfield. Or better yet, make one cut and race fools to the sideline. Chris Perry made a career of that. And learn to fall forward fergodsakes. Instead of trying to dance around the tackler, deliver a blow and fall forward. If we really are going to play man ball, the difference between a 3.3 ypc average and 4.0 ypc average caused by simply falling forward is going to be a big deal.
And that goes for all the youngsters too.
Hopkins looks like he might have a bright future as a B.J. Askew-esque FB. It's just Minnesota, but he got one of those fabled 'double blocks' that all FB's dream about. And he seems to catch the ball pretty well.
And we learned a little bit about Rawls, albeit in garbage time. Early returns show good balance, decent speed, but not terribly explosive or shifty. He kinda reminds me of Kevin Grady, but not quite as chiseled. Let's just say he's got a low aspect ratio for a tailback. Looks pretty strong around the thighs and midsection. I'm thinking he could eat himself into a starring FB role in a year or two.
- If Denard is called "Shoelace", maybe Devin can be called "Shoeless"
- The FG kicking is quietly becoming a non-ulcer-inducing facet of our team.
- However, the kickoff coverage still sucks, I'm so glad we got to practice 11 of them this game.
- I really like it when crowd's continue to sing a song after the band/PA system has to cut off. But there's a time and place for it. Livin' on a Prayer should be reserved for something like near the end of a close Redwings game where the line "We're halfway there" makes sense. Leading by 40+ in the third quarter calls for something more like "Sweet Caroline" because "Good time never felt so good." (Even if it is cliche')
The more things change...
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
- We're 4-0!
- 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?
- Who does this band director think he's fooling?
1 Drum Major
12 Alto Saxophones
12 Tenor Saxophones
4 Bass Trombones
6 Snare Drums
4 Bass Drums
AND NONE OF THEM ARE LOOKING AT YOU!
I didn't have internet for the past week, so I'm getting to this diary pretty late. Almost everything that occurred to me has already been said. But here's a few things that stood out and could use repeating if you have already heard it.
This is why you don't teach players to only play strongside or only play weakside.
A single shift into an unbalanced line made 6 of our guys change position. I feel like this calls for some joke about Chinese fire drills, but it's too easy. If the motion man hadn't taken the jet sweep and actually realigned on the other side, I wonder if those 6 guys would have been thinking about flopping back. Ugh... ...
Our defense is still young and has a lot to learn. We're a year or two (or three) away from being able to shut down serious opponents.
Vincent looked good, I still worry about his durability. There are some indications that ND's D-line and scheme are legitimately good against the run. So this might not be as bad as we fear. My hopes are still on Fitz to be the main workhorse until someone younger distinguishes himself. Looks like we'll be RB by committee for the rest of this year.
What about Denard?
Good thing: Denard is still awesome running the ball against weaker competition
Bad thing: We were forced to run Denard against a middling' MAC team
Good thing: Denard is getting better at getting out of bounds without taking a big hit
Bad thing: Several times he ran into a NT, DT sandwich
Good thing: The return of QB dive TROLOLOLOLO!!!! (Brian "QB draw-OH NOES!" is a great name, but it's not a draw fake, it's a dive fake.)
Bad thing: Bubble screens still MIA
MSU @ ND notes
- The game was closer than the score reflected. MSU failed a fake FG and got intercepted in the redzone, ND had a kickoff return TD. ND still wins handedly, but probably only by one score or 10 points instead of 18.
- MSU's O-line has big problems. This is not news to anyone. But I think it's showing up in some of their playcalling.
For example, they used this weird formation
And then they pitched the ball around the short side TE/Guard. It's like they don't trust their interior linemen, so they might as well try to run away from the muck. (sometimes with a pulling lineman)
There's a reason why people don't normally line up like this. It's not usually effective.
- Wood's first TD was not a TD.
First of all, there was a blatant holding at the point of attack,
And he was down at the 1 yard line anyway.
- Bawk! Bawk! Dantonio.
It's 4th and 17 at midfield, down two touchdowns with 4 and half minutes left in the game. And he decided to PUNT. C'mon, after last (last) week, we know that 4 minutes against ND is time enough for at least 6 touchdowns.
- Nick Hill on Kick Returns
He looked good at finding the hole and they had some designed returns to break off to one side of the wedge. This dishearteningly matches up with one of our weaknesses.
- It's all about stopping Cunningham
They still have the triplets at RB. But with the issues they have with the O-line, Cunningham becomes the key to stopping MSU.
- Cousins is still a good QB, but I feel like we can trick him into a couple of INT's.
He likes to throw the crossing routes to the WR. And in the hurry-up, they seemed to favor square-ins and slants. ND stepped in front for a couple of picks and tips. Cousins is very good at throwing the checkdown and hitting late leakers from the backfield. And all the backs seemed to be good at making them selves available after scraping past the rushers.
MSU likes to call a fair number of screens and draws, but these are hard to do well for inexperienced linemen.