so much for that
*edit: my embed-fu has failed, anyone know how to correctly embed youtube?
This week is going to be full of familiar faces. ND's two deep is overflowing with juniors and seniors, and I could probably just rehash last year's game wraps (ND vs us, ND vs MSU) and only have to change a few names. Well, let's do this:
ND on O
It's the passing spread. Look for lots of short routes, screens, crossing routes, and when they get you in man coverage, look out for the sideline fly or wheel route. If you play a soft zone, they'll leak out a late check down running back or tight end. They like to use their big tight end as a possession receiver, but he's got enough speed for skinny posts and such.
The running game is almost exclusively from one-back sets. If they need a lead blocker it'll be a TE, H-back, or pulling lineman. Most of the running plays are built into the the passing game, play action dives, shotgun mesh, draws, and the dreaded sprint draw. On obvious running downs, they tend to zone dive or counter. And there's the odd stretch play from the shotgun.
#11 Tommy Rees has been named the nominal starter, but between our blitzing and Brian Kelly's anger issues, I'd bet on seeing #10 Dayne Crist for at least a handful of series. Crist is the 5* golden boy and senior. But he's been plagued by injuries and only has about 10 starts to his name (and he sat behind Jimmah! Clausen for much of his career). Rees is the baby faced redshirt sophomore who led the team to a short winning streak last season.
Crist is a bit taller and heavier. But he's very athletic. Neither of them are very fiery, rah rah guys, but Rees is the cooler customer and if it were up to me, he'd be my starter and Crist would be a tight end that we could design a lot of trick plays around. Why? Just look into their eyes...
I used to think that Crist looked that way because of a series of concussions. But now I think it's like how your mom used to say, 'if you keep making that face, it'll stay that way.' Crist looks befuddled. He looks like he's got the weight of the world on his shoulders and he can't figure out what to do about it. Rees is calm and collected and gives the impression that he's focused on executing. Crist looks like he's focused on not screwing up.
Some people toughen up when you put them under pressure, some people crack. You want your QB to be more towards a wild stallion, a risk taking, confident gunslinger with the eyes of a tiger. As a coach, it's a better problem to have to keep reigning in the guy, than having to dig your spurs in deep to light a fire under his ass.
So which of these two looks like someone who can deal with what's coming for him, and which looks like a horse whose spirit has been broken?
And if you think I'm cherry picking, Crist stood in that pose nearly the whole time he was on the sideline (is there something wrong with his shoulder pads?), with no one really around him, and Rees looked like that on most snaps as he reads the defense.
If that furrowed brow looks familiar, you might be thinking of this guy:
#20. It's the Cierre Wood show for ND these days. Apparently Kelly likes to have one main workhorse. And sad to say, Wood is a more complete back than anyone we have. His pass blocking isn't all that great, you could probably bull rush him or jump over him if he goes low. But he's got everything else you want in a back. He's super fast, shifty, great vision, soft hands, and leg strength. You're not going to be pulling him down by tugging on his jersey.
He's not the biggest guy in the world, so ND will bring in #25 Jonas Gray for short yardage situations or as a battering ram to soften up the defense for a few plays. Folks around here will remember when Gray got passed over for Mike Cox (who has fallen off the face of the earth since the advent of Hoke). Gray has bulked up *cough*foundsteroids*cough*cough* since then, but he's still got great straight line speed, you know, when he's not being stood up and having the ball ripped from his hands for 99 yard fumble return touchdowns...
We're really going to have to focus on Wood, the front seven will have a huge task in following him around. Hopefully he'll get tired later in the game, stamina might be an issue for a guy who might still be getting acclimated to having full time starter duties. He didn't look winded last week, but there were all those weather delays... I'd have a guy tackle/hit him on every play just to try to wear him out, even if he doesn't have the ball. Make him block people. Big people, big angry people, big angry people who weigh more than him. And don't let him get into the endzone, because he's kind of a douche when he gets there.
This should be a penalty if he does it again.
#80 is the new starter, filling in for Rudolph. He's not as fast, but he's got very good hands and is a pass catching threat over the middle. He had one drop on a pass that was behind him, and a couple of passes were broken up by good coverage, but he's going to be a concern.
Here's Kelly showing him the finer points of catching a ball thrown to your back hip:
#83 is the other TE, who looks ok, if not spectacular.
Dear god, why is this guy still suiting up against us? #3 Michael Floyd should be off in the pro's or enjoying a redshirt year to think about the meaning of life and his DUI's. He's All-American material when he's not injured and will end up owning just about every meaningful receiving record in ND history. USF couldn't stop him, and they tried just about everything. They tried playing soft, so they threw him underneath stuff. They tried playing tight, so they threw him a sideline fade. They tried to beat him up with a LB and cover over the top with a safety, so he juked out the LB and ran a sharp slant.
The only thing that really stopped him, other than Crist's inaccuracy, was being bracketed by two DB's, but you just can't do that all they time or other people will start to kill you. The only bad thing I can say about his on the field behavior is that he's been known to take plays off in the past. If you can get into his head, and keep him frustrated, you might be able to limit his damage.
Mental problems are also rampant with the other WR's. #7 Jones was the guy that had the ball bounce off his helmet which almost caused Brian Kelly's head to explode
He's a little lanky with good speed and decent hands (when he's looking for the ball).
#6 Riddick is the slot receiver, converted rb, and his hands are not so good. He muffed two punts and had numerous drops. Both muffs were after he signaled for a fair catch but had a guy standing in front of him. I would be ordering our punters to practice high but short punts and figure the chances of getting a muff are worth 10 to 15 yards of punt distance, especially since we're no longer running the spread punt, and our gunners haven't been very good. With the ball in his hands, Riddick is a dangerous runner. So be wary of him on screens, and short routes.
Not much to say here. They're more on the large rather than nimble side of the spectrum. Good run blockers, decent pass blockers, but with Rees getting rid of the ball so quickly from the shotgun, they don't need to hold their blocks very long. Kelly still can't run his complete inside screen game with these guys, and didn't even call many (any?) during the USF game.
The right tackle #75 looks to be the most vulnerable. He doesn't have very good lateral movement. I suspect you could set him up for a few speed rushes. Otherwise, they're a pretty good veteran group. Boo.
ND on D
This will be one of the biggest and strongest D-lines we face all year. #9 is an especially large wide-body, he reminds me of Jerry Ball. They looked pretty tough in short yardage. This isn't the game where we should be grinding out 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Again, lots of upperclassmen on the two deep here. On the goal-line, the middle three will submarine allowing Teo and Co. to jump over the scrum.
What more can I say about #5 Teo? Get a body on him, and design your plays based on where he's gonna be. Don't let him use that killer speed. He will blow things up, although he did have a relatively quiet game against USF. Still had a bunch of tackles and a sack or two.
The OLB's are probably the weak link. They had trouble with contain, except for when the defensive play call sold out on the edges. ND likes to use the 4-3 and for early downs and even for shorter 3rd downs, so if we use many 3 WR sets, we'll likely see an OLB over one of our slot guys. We should take advantage of this.
These are the same guys that have failed to impress me for the last three years, and about the only thing that's changed is that they're a year older. They're pretty good in run support, the CB's are fairly athletic. But the safeties are very beatable with the talent we have at WR.
- They still run the spread punt formation, which I always think is ripe for a block. Send 3 men against the smallest upback and runover the punter. You might get a penalty once, but the odds of getting a block or even a TD might be worth it, depending on the situation.
- For a team that is full of upperclassmen, they looked really undisciplined. I wonder if Kelly's outbursts are falling on deaf prima donna ears. Turnovers, penalties, the whole team played tight. Sometimes it seems like they're so afraid of making mistakes, that they end up making a lot of mistakes.
- Crist played the first half, when it was dry, so you can't blame his problems on the rain. You might chalk it up to the heat, or first game jitters, but I tend to think he just doesn't have "it"
- By the same token, the field was pretty slippery in the second half when Floyd was doing most of his damage. So you might discount his production a tiny bit, if it weren't for the fact that we already knew he was a beast.
- 99 yards of ND's offense came on the final drive with less than 2 minutes when USF was playing pretty soft, already up by 10.
- Floyd didn't hustle on the final onsides kick. He had a chance to sacrifice his body and jump up for the ball, instead it was the USF guy flying through the air to end the game.
- I think Brian Kelly gets excited when he's angry.
[Ed: bump in case anyone doesn't know to read these yet.]
So, we're almost 3 quarters into the Brady Hoke era, and what have we learned? Not a hell of a whole of a lot. Western was a cupcake, and we provided the vanilla frosting, the vanilla defense, and the vanilla offense. There's plenty to criticize and the few good things all come with cupcake's caveats. Next week will be the real barometer of our progress .
Somewhere in the back of my self-important mind, I worry that breaking down our offensive and defensive systems might give a very tiny advantage to our opponents. So this year I'm going to do less system stuff and focus on individual plays and players when it comes to our team. I'll save system analysis for scouting reports of other teams.
But first, I just have to say:
You sir, have an awesome mustache.
Let's start with the bad:
Their first drive was cause for concern. Just getting aligned was a problem on many plays.
I'm pretty sure this isn't how you're supposed to defend a 3rd and 1.
And on this next play, the confusion is so thick, you can cut it with a knife. You could roll it into a batter and make... hmmmm... I'm hungry...
Despite being in a shotgun look, this is clearly a run formation. What's the giveaway?
How about the covered slot "receiver" making this an unbalanced line. We've got 3 guys defending air, and the DB's are so far back, they're practically giftwrapping a 10 yard run.
The QB meshes with the fullback to give an option look, and he wisely hands it off since our linebacker is way out of position.
The ball carrier cuts back to the GAPING HOLE. Meanwhile, our contain guy is so concerned with both the QB and pitchman, neither of whom have the ball, that he can't make a play on the FB.
But I'm encouraged by the fact that we got it figured out before the drive was even over.
Here we are against the same exact formation and play a few downs later. That's a quick adjustment, or maybe it's just that nobody f'd up this time. Notice that the DB's are in a position to support against the run and we clog up the middle to stop the FB for practically no gain.
Carvin Johnson was misaligned on the next play, but Avery did a good job to make a solid tackle and delay the TD. But as a whole, the defense looked like most of them have had 3 or 4 different coordinators in the last 4 years.
I'm also concerned about the size of our front seven, and when we go against the likes of MSU, Neb, OSU, and god willing - Wiscy, well.... let's just hope things get better.
[Ed.: more after the jump.]
Be forwarned, the following will not be pretty nor useful. (mods, feel free to delete or censor). If you don't want to read a rage filled post, please close this tab and move on with your lives.
ok, we good? Are the kids' eyes safely diverted? Then let the Fuuuuuuuuu machine engage:
Fuck it all.
Brian's not in a swearing mood. I am.
I'm not angry that Hoke is now the coach.
He may someday turn into a decent coach.
I'm pissed off at the state of College Football.
It's clearer than ever that the NCAA is full of a bunch of Cross Eyed Hypocrites.
It's painfully obvious that the newspapers are full of fucktards with their asses so far up their own asses that their noses are covered in their own shit and they can't smell the truth even if they were wearing ski masks without nose holes and they could pull off the ski masks and their noses wouldn't be covered in shit. IT WOULDN'T MATTER, THEY'RE STILL FUCKING ASSCLOWNS.
Cam Newton just showed he was worth the thousands of dollars that Auburn, FUCKING AUBURN, FUCKING CHEATING MOTHER FUCKERS AUBURN WHO HAVE BEEN CAUGHT REDHANDED MORE TIMES IN THE LAST 20 YEARS THAN ANY OTHER FUCKING SCHOOL I CAN THINK OF, got some booster to donate to Cam Newton's dirty motherfucking religious dirty, and probably pedophile supporting, motherfucking father's church.
So the story is that someone from UF tipped off the NCAA to Newton's dealings with MSU (NNTMSU, the MSU that kicked our fucking asses into oblvion because our defensive coaches quit sometime back in november since they didn't get any vote of confidence and knew they were all going to be out of jobs. well good luck assholes, may god have mercy on anyone that hires you). Gee, I wonder how they knew. It's not like anyone with Florida connections is at Mississippi State now. Oh, wait...
But Urban Meyer can't just come out and say that Florida paid for Newton too. No, then he would be a villian, he would be throwing HIS OWN program under the bus. Instead he can go on ESPN and blow sunshine up the WWL's asses while leaking left and right to try to hurt a rival school.
But is it surprising that Florida is shelling out the money? In today's game, that's the only way you can win on a consistent basis. Especially in the S.E.C. We know USC was paying, we now know that OSU is paying, the entire SEC thinks the rulebook is quaint. FUCK THEM ALL.
And I don't blame them. FUCK YOU, NCAA, FUCK YOU. Fuck your fucking hypocrisy. Fuck you making millions off the BCS and EASports and then claiming that football players are "amateurs". Fuck you punishing Michigan for an extra 20 minutes of stretching per week when the corrupt bastards down in Columbus are driving new cars every week. If there's any loyal Michigan fans in Ohio, they should camp outside every car dealership in that god-forsaken town and record every time an OSU player does a "test drive". Not that it would matter, the players could just use the "but I wasn't looking" defense and they'd be allowed to play in any meaningful (profitable) game. Fucking bullshit. Fuck you, OSU AD and your fucking lies.
And fuck you detroit free press. Fuck you for focusing on kids stretching when half of MSU's (YTMSU, the green and white thugs in ski masks) team is on probation, in jail, or randomly putting other students in the hospital. Fuck you. I don't care that Glenn Winston is a two time convict. I care that Dantonio would suit him up tomorrow if he had a chance, and you would still ignore it and write about how Richrod has a stupid accent and a "win at all costs" attitude. FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU.
FUCK YOU MICHAEL ROSENBERG. I hope you go to jail and people bugger you till you bleed from the nose. Maybe that will clean your palate and you can smell your own fucking bias. If anyone in the athletic department had any balls they would sue you for libel and slander. HAVE YOU FINALLY LEARNED WHAT A FUCKING COUNTABLE HOUR IS, YOU DUMB BITCH? ARE YOU WILLING TO ADMIT IT, YOU FUCKING COWARD?
FUCK YOU DREW SHARP, BECAUSE FUCK YOU. YOU ARE THE WORST KIND OF FUCKING ASSCLOWN. YOU ARE THE REASON PEOPLE DON'T BUY THE FREEP ANYMORE. I HOPE WHEN YOU GET TO HELL, THAT GOD MAKES YOU SUCK HIS COCK FOR ALL ETERNITY. YOU'VE NEVER HAD ANYTHING NICE NOR CONSTRUCTIVE TO SAY ABOUT ANYTHING OR ANYONE, EVER. EVER! FUCK YOU.
Fuck you ESPN. FUCK YOU AND YOUR CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. Fuck your "Sources". Fuck herbstreit, fuck corso, fuck anyone that had anything to say about the coaching search, because FUCK YOU, YOU ALL DIDN'T KNOW SHIT. FUCK JOE SCHAD, FUCK Andy who da fuck cares how to spell your fucking name. How many times did you all declare that 'XYZ' coach was coming to michigan? FUCK YOU.
And finally, fuck you whiny players and your sense of entitlement. I know you work hard, I know you deserve money. But I hate your fucking attitudes. I hate that you quit and transfer if you don't get your way. I hate that you bring in your jackass sportscasting fathers when you get disciplined. I hate that you think you can lie your way through life. I hate that you usually can. FUCK YOU KENYON RAMBO, FUCK TED GINN, SR AND JR. FUCK YOU TROY SMITH, FUCK YOU TERELLE PRYOR. AND FUCK ALL THE DIRTY BACKROOM DEALING BOOSTERS AND AGENTS WHO GAVE YOU EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED.
FUCK ALL OF YOU. I was pretty good this season and kept my posting polite. Well it turns out that it was just building up until this release. And so if you have a problem with my post because you didn't heed the warning at the top, well then, fuck you too.
Here's to four more years of mediocrity. It's whiskey time.
Time to summarize what I think I've learned from watching (almost) all of MSU's games this year. I'm not gonna do a season recap, instead I'm going to lay out where I think we can get some advantages or what we should prepare for.
Sorry that this is thrown together at the last moment. I'll probably do something a bit more in-depth for the game wrap. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I fantasize that the coaches or players actually read my spewings and can get something useful out of it.
But it's probably just helping the Mgocitizens waste a few minutes of work or ignore their families during the holiday ^^. Either way, I hope people get some use out of my posts.
WHEN MSU HAS THE BALL
Starter: Relf (#14 but will wear #36 for the bowl game).
He's a big guy, tall, 240ish. Doesn't have breakaway speed but can chew up yardage quickly. He is most dangerous on QB traps and draws.
He has average arm strength. He's fairly accurate within 30 yards, but loses accuracy the further he throws. He can put good touch on intermediate slants and posts over the middle. But he has lower percentage on deep outs and corner routes. He can throw the flare. He can make a shovel pass, and he can option pitch going in either direction. He can throw the screen. He is not as good of a passer when rolling to his left.
As a runner, he has good vision and decent cuts and moves. Tends to fall forward on contact and can run over smaller defenders. It's imperative that we get to him before he can build up momentum.
He will probably carry the ball close to 20 times and have between 10 and 20 passing attempts. (unless we get a big lead early)
He has big hands, but is sometimes careless in his ballhandling. All defenders should be trying to punch the ball out on east-west plays.
When he gets pressured, he sometimes throws the ball up for grabs. If he throws off his backfoot, the ball will hang in the air. He rarely throws the ball out of bounds. It's either going to an intended receiver or he'll pull it down to run with it.
He's not great at reading coverages, so he'll hold the ball longer than he should. The coaches call safe passes for him. If we can get them to third and long, be prepared for screens and draws.
An athletic pocket passer. But a redshirt freshmen. He got a lot of playing time early in the year, but practically disappeared in the second half of the season as Relf established himself as 'da man'. He's a gunslinger with a little too much confidence in his arm and not enough game experience. He can run the zone read, but is not nearly as a big of a threat to run as relf.
Starter: #28 Ballard. Juco transfer. Bigger guy with a good burst.
This is your classic pounder, ala wisconsin or MSU (YTMSU). He has good speed, but not great change of direction. His instincts are to cut back to the inside instead of bouncing it to the outside, unless he's within 5 yards of the goal-line.
He will get the ball between 10-20 times.
He isn't great at maintaining proper pitch relationship on the option, so MSU has gone him having him be the mesh guy and having someone else take the pitch, or simply letting Relf keep it.
Has not shown himself to be a threat in the passing game.
He is most dangerous on inside iso's, dives, and counters.
Backup: #27 Perkins. speed guy.
Freshman (maybe redshirt, don't remember). But he came on strong as the season wore on. Had a break-out game against Ole miss in the last game of the season. Expect him to be a large part of the offense for the bowl.
With Bumphis out, he becomes their fastest skill player.
He's extrememly dangerous on edge running plays. Especially the sweep. Expect him to cary the ball 5-10 times. But they'll probably have another 5-10 plays designed to go to him on either screens, wheel routes, or some other trickery.
With the extra practices, expect him to line up in the slot and then motion around, possibly to the backfield or to get the ball on a jet sweep.
3rd string: #2. Meh. will carry the ball 2-4 times.
FB: #35. Not the biggest player, but he has the heart of fullback. He really sells out on blocks and is an excellent lead blocker. Soft enough hands to catch the ball in the flat, but not much of a threat with the ball in his hands. Also not much of a running threat, even in short yardage. (Relf and Ballard are more likely to get the ball in short yardage.)
It's hard to talk about this group due to the lack of passing, but here's some notes:
Starter: #1 Bumphis, Injured. WOOOHOOO!
When he was in the game, the OC designed many plays specifically to get the ball to him. He would line up in the slot but then move all over the place. Relf had a tendecy to lock in on him. Most of their creativity on offense revolved around his skills.
Now that he is out of the lineup, expect #27 Perkins to take on most of his roles. If Perkins is in the backfield, then #86 becomes the next fastest guy. But #86 lacks experience.
Backups: #9 and #8 were both tall recievers with decent speed and hands. One of them is injured, whichever one is named Berry. So #3 becomes the next in the lineup. He showed a little bit of skill on the bubble screen
#19 caught a few balls but was basically meh.
TE: One of the TE's remains injured, the other has decent size and soft hands. But he wasn't targeted much this year.
A veteran group with a lot of starts. LT #79 is a senior with a lot of NFL hype. The center is also a senior. These guys do a lot of pulling in all directions, and have enough agility to get in front of plays. Most of them have severe guts, so passblocking in the 4th quarter might be an issue when fatigue starts to set in.
The only weak spot is #62. He is a good run blocker, but has made several mistakes in pass protection. I suggest running a lot of two man stunts or blitzes on his side making him choose who to block and who to let go.
There seems to be a significant talent/experience dropoff when the backups come in. In the one game where they had to shuffle linemen around because of injuries, Ballard was held in check and things were not pretty.
If any backups come in, such as #61, we should attack them like crazy until they run back home to momma with tears in their eyes.
This is a run first team. They don't throw very often on first down. If they do, it'll be short stuff like bubble screens or quick slants or hooks. Their most effective play action is quicker because the long developing playaction is practically usesless with Relf's poor deep ball accuracy. If they run playaction on early downs, the targets will be 15-30 yards downfield against the zone.
They try to spread out the defense so that they can run right up the middle. Running plays will usually involve a lead blocker or an option mesh handoff.
The offense relies heavily on misdirection. They use a lot of motion and counter plays. They like to capitalize on the defense lining up wrong, or not adjustion to the motion. Over the course of the year they've used tons of formations, but in spurts. About 80% of it will be shotgun with a RB or two. But they've run some I-form, some wildcat, and even some single wing in a couple of games.
Their running plays are generally slow developing with pulling linemen or lead blockers from the backfield. The running backs, especially Ballard, have shown great patience in picking the hole and then accelerating through it.
They want to control the clock. The strength of the team lies with their veteran offensive line. They may not be the biggest and strongest, but they don't make many mistakes. Because they run the ball so much, they don't show as many plays per game.
It has been interesting to see that they will use certain formations or series of plays for one game, and then you won't see it again at all for many weeks, if ever. But if they do show a play or have a series of plays installed for the week, expect them to go back to it if it works the first time. They may use that series 3-5 more times the rest of the game if you don't adjust to it.
With the extra practice time, expect to see at least two brand new formations that they haven't shown all year up until now.
The OC will not hesitate to design plays just to get the ball in the hands of Perkins or some other speed guy in space.
Their main threats are on inside runs.
They are not afraid to go for it from about their 40 and beyond. They will likely have 1 or 2 trick plays ready.
BLITZ! Blitz! BUH-LI-TZZZZZ!!! Is what I'd be saying if we had better/more experienced DB's. But we gotta go with the personnel that we have. I'd also prefer if we used more 4 down linemen this week, but the previous caveat applies.
Even so, this is not a game for us to be sitting back in an 8 man zone all day long. With their deficiencies in the passing game, we should have 8 in the box on early downs.
Ideally, I would suggest that we blitz heavily on early downs. About a 30-60% mix of outside blitzes and inside blitzes. If we can get penalties against them or TFL's, we can kill their drives.
The key to stopping their offense is to disrupt their backfield. Well timed outside blitzes will destroy their sweeps and bubble screens. Inside blitzes that outman their blockers will make Ballard and Relf stop their feet. We need to slow them down before they build up momentum, otherwise they'll just keep leaning forward for first downs. If they can run downhill against us like the sParties did, it'll be a long afternoon.
Once we get them into passing downs, blitz and stunt and twist up the middle like there's no tomorrow (which there might not be for certain defensive coaches). Relf is much more dangerous when he pulls down the ball to run, so we need to keep him inside. The outside rushers should back off to maintain contain or string out the corner and try to bat down balls.
The best way to get Relf to throw bad interceptions is to put pressure right up in his face, not from the side. Don't let him step into throws with good body mechanics. His arm isn't strong enough to just wing it without his legs. (Unlike Denard who can whip a fastball with a flick of his wrist).
I know all about our DB's. But this is a favorable matchup for us. Our DB's should play inside leverage most of the game and deny a straight path for the ball. Make Relf throw over people and at odd angles. We'll take the percentages.
WHEN WE HAVE THE BALL
Against our running spread, expect them to be in a 4-2-5 of some variety for most of the game. They use a lot of substitutions among the front seven and so sometimes it looks like a 4-3 or even a 3-3-5, but this defense revolves around the MLB #50 White, outside pressure, and a bend but don't break philosophy in the redzone.
In our territory, they will blitz and use high risk, highly variable defenses with a very deep safety. Once we get closer to the redzone, they will mix it up more with 8 man drops.
In the 2 minute drill, with a lead, they will do the opposite. They will play a soft zone to eat up the clock and then start to bring pressure as we get closer to the redzone. With our kicking situtation, this will be a problem.
These guys are space eaters and gap controllers. Their main job is to keep people off of the middle linebackers. And since I haven't really talked about them much in the game notes and the LB's have been darn good, that must mean they've been doing their job well.
The only standout is #90 Mcphee. He'll need to be doubled or rolled away from on passing downs.
#50 White, sideline to sideline player with a great motor. Smart. Not huge. We must get a body on him if we expect to run the ball. He's good with his arms and shedding blocks. He doesn't seem to get tired, and will be a thorn in our side ALL DAY. He doesn't have elite speed, (he's no Junior Seau from back in the day) comparing him to the only other MLB i've scouted in depth this year, he's a lot smarter and more experienced, but quite a bit slower than Manti T'eo (but who isn't?) so Denard should be able to get to the corner against him. And the bubble screens will be available, although they like to roll up coverage to take that away sometimes.
#34 Wright, taller, more athletic than #50. He's a hybrid OLB/DE playing weakside middle linebacker, (if you can figure that out). He loves to jump up to bat the ball down. Would have about 6 interceptions this year if he didn't have hands of stone. We need to block him with a shoulder pad in his gut to keep his arms down. He's also very good at shedding blocks. (reminds me a little bit of shawn crable, sorta)
#48 OLB. Had a quiet season. He spent most of his time blitzing and getting blocked. But he seems to fit his role in the defense well. He'll be the first LB off the field for extra DBs
#10 OLB/SS hybrid. Didn't play much in the last couple of games. But he spent a lot of time covering slot receivers or as a flexed out OLB.
Cornerbacks #25 and #13 will play most of the game. Of the two, #25 is the more aggressive and therefore more susceptible to double moves or playaction. #15 has been moving back and forth between offense and defense, so we might be able to take advantage of him. Depending on the coverage, #13 will give a big cushion, opening up the the comeback routes.
Safeties #4 and #5 are hard hitters. #4 has been slightly better in run support. #5 can be too agressive at times and is not as good in coverage.
#5 has been battling for his position with #7, a younger player. But #7 has made many mistakes in the few opportunities he's had, so expect to see more of #5.
Oh, who am I kidding? Despite what we saw against TuoOSU, this offense doesn't need any recommendations from anyone. If Denard can bust an 80 yarder against ND, he can do it against these guys, just like the kid from Alcorn St. did.
If we can pass with impunity against illinois, our WR should be able to get open and get yards tomorrow.
I suspect that our running backs won't be able to shake loose much, but how will that be different from what we've seen from the 2nd half of this year?
If we take care of the ball, no turnovers and no drops, we'll be fine.
The only thing they seemed especially vulnerable to were tunnel screens (where the outside receiver is heading back towards the linemen) and plays were a really fast guy managed to get outside and run away from them.
If the safeties start cheating towards the sidelines, there'll be plenty of room against the zone in the middle of the field, as Mallet and Arkansas showed.
This game will rest on Denard. The pressure will be coming, and he can't throw bad picks to guys he doesn't expect to be dropping off into coverage. Hot reads have to be deeper, otherwise the LB's or DE's will be right in the passing lanes.
So once again, how will that be different from anything we've seen from the 2nd half of the season?
On paper, this looks like a game that could go either way. Either MSU will dominate us on the LOS and grind the clock to a 28-14 win that isn't really that close, or we'll be able to get some stops and make a shootout of it.
This game rests firmly in the hands of Denard on offense (well, duh) and Jonas Mouton on defense. If Denard can pop some big plays and connect with his receivers, we should be able to trade scores with them. If Mouton can shadow Relf and not get fooled by ball fakes, we have a shot to outscore them.
Some years ago there was a picture of Tressel with some writing on the board in the background. It appeared to be his gameplan against us. I can't find it right now, but it basically had 4 bullet points that said something like:
- Stop #20 (mike hart)
- Pressure #7 (henne)
Well, maybe those last two were different, but it didn't matter. Based on the results, you'd have to say that Tressel has been a master when it comes to The Game.
If RR were going to make one of those for the gator bowl, it should read something like this:
- Stop #28
- Stop Relf with run blitzes
- Pressure Relf up the middle on passing downs
- Don't let Relf pull the ball down on a scramble and head up the middle
- Yes, this means designed draws too! Especially on the designed draws!!
- For god's sake, if you have to choose between going after Relf or someone else, go after Relf!!!!
- Seriously, RELF!
On a personal note, I really want us to win this game. No, I mean I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, want us to win this game.
First of all, I'm a fan and alum, so OF COURSE I want us to win every game. But in addition to that, a win would make Dave Brandon's job so much easier.
I don't want to get into a whole CC debate, but in every possible universe, winning this game is better for everyone. At 8-5, there is zero chance that RR will be fired and replaced with anyone other than Harbaugh.
At 8-5, if he keeps RR, he's keeping a guy that's improved the team by a significant amount every year and we're looking at a 10 win season in 2011.
At 8-5, if he brings in Harbaugh, he's doing it because we want him as an upgrade over a guy with a decent record. It's like buying a new car. If you're buying a car because your old one broke down, you're kind of forced into it. But if you're buying a new car because it's just that much more awesome than the one you've already got that is still working fine, well that gives a different kind of impression.
At 7-6 we're going to have to suffer the idiotic posts of the Brady Hoke following and their ilk.
I hate making predictions, especially when the two teams are close. So instead I'll just put what I hope happens.
28-26 Michigan. Denard breaks a 40+ yard run and we get long TD's from our WR's. MSU kicks 4 field goals but misses a ridiculously long 5th attempt as time expires.
Game 9 (no torrent, but Brian looked at their offense)
Game 6 (couldn't find a torrent)
Other than this being a Rivalry game, there's not much new to learn from it. Although Ole Miss does have a run first QB in Oregon transfer Masoli. Ole Miss was 1-7 in the SEC, only beating Kentucky and also lost to I-AA Jacksonville St.. They gave up nearly as many points as we did this year.
- #34 was being used to spy on Masoli. We can expect either #34 or #50 to be keying on Denard on just about every play.
- #8 was stripped of the ball for a turnover. Might be reproducible.
- Ole Miss gets the first TD immediate after with an inside counter
- #19 is getting more passes thrown his way this week.
- Every week, MSU's OC introduces a new series or a new wrinkle that they use 3 or 4 times that game that they hadn't used before. This week's addition is the screen to the RB which worked for big yardage.
- Relf gets a 70 yarder on that inverted option up the middle. Same play that I dissected from last week, except they ran it to the right. Didn't have the speed to take it to the endzone.
- #8 gets the TD against pretty soft man coverage. It's imperative our DB's shade inside the wide man, make relf throw the outside routes.
- Masoli has the Tebow wind-up on deep balls, I doubt he's a QB at the next level, not that anyone was thinking that.
- Aha, that's where Bumphis broke his collarbone. Relf threw a nice deep ball down the middle for about 40 yards and he came down on it wrong.
- Perkins scores on the "wheel of doom" play. Somehow I imagine this play spread across the college football world after everyone watched the highlights from our game against Illinois.
- #15 is playing some at CB. Haven't seen him on defense in a while. #42 is another new face as MSU is playing a lot of bodies on D.
- Relf threw up a duck when the RG got pushed back into him and he couldn't step up into the throw. Bad read too, throwing into double coverage
- Perkins gets a TD on the screen from about 35 yards out, just before halftime.
- 21-9 at the half.
- RT # 62 gives up yet another bad sack when he just let the DE go by untouched as he's focused on the delayed blitz from the LB. He's the weakest link on that line on pass plays.
- Perkins takes over punt return duty for bumphis (heh, "doody")
- #3 getting more PT with bumphis injured
- Perkins takes the sweep for about 30
- A bad mesh between perkins and relf results in a lost fumble
- Perkins takes another screen for about 70. Relf's passing yards from this game are going to be inflated since Perkins has nearly 140 yards receiving.
- Ballard has a slightly higher tendency to bounce outside when near the goaline. Like 10% instead of 1%
- 31-9 at the start of the 4th
- MSU's FG kicker missed from about 45, but he's been pretty consistent all year.
- Ole Miss gets a TD on the fake bubble slant. This bodes well for us.
- Ballard has been bottled up this week. Ole miss was cheating towards him. I agree with that philosophy. But they let perkins do too much damage
- #3 took the sweep that bumphis would normally do, but he doesn't have nearly the same speed. Couldn't get to the corner and had to cut up too early.
- Ole Miss got the ball with a chance to drive for a TD and tying 2pt conversion, but a chop block penalty snuffed that.
Game 9 (no torrent, but Brian looked at their offense)
Game 6 (couldn't find a torrent)
This game is probably the most representative of what we'll be seeing. Arkansas is about on par with us in terms of talent, but they run a passing spread instead of a running spread. This is also MSU's most recent game against real competition since their final game was against ole miss. Onto the bullets:
- Nothing against emotional tributes but what does it say if you go into the game with signs that read "win it for ***" and you end up losing?
- #7 gets the start over #5 at FS
- They're nominally listed as a 4-3, but you only see that on short yardage, most of the game is 4-2-5 or 3-3-5.
- Ballard has a pretty good burst accelerating through the hole, but he's not real comfortable keeping a good pitch relationship on the option play, Relf had to eat one because he was too close to pitch it.
- Relf is just deadly on that "inverted" option QB choice play. (below)
- Ark. #7 takes it to the house on a 60+ yarder on a student body left type play. Again, these DB's will give up big plays against real speed. Thankfully we've got a lot of that at WR. (not so much at RB, this would be a great team for Carlos Brown to play against). MSU's #7 let himself get blocked on the play when he didn't need to and could've saved the TD (14 yards downfield, but that's still better than a TD)
- When Ballard runs off-tackle he has a hesitation cut that will usually go back inside or upfield instead of outside.
- Relf is about 50-50 on those deep out passes, but that's an improvement from earlier in the year. His WR and TE are fairly tall, giving him nice targets to aim for. Still throws that intermediate slant pretty well.
- Ark #7 looks like a big guy, easily shedding the tackle attempt from #13
- I'm a fan of the stickers on the helmets. It's college, gold stars for everyone. I do think that the ones we used to have were a bit big and distracting, but that can be fixed by using smaller ones or ones that have more blue and less maize.
- Ark gets their 2nd TD on a really well executed delayed screen. MSU is in pretty good position but Ark gets some great blocks and some pretty nifty running, going all the way across the field. #50 got shaken up, looks okay.
- #2 with a pretty weak fumble on a flare pass.
- But MSU gets it back on a nice strip from #34 on the very next play.
- on 4th and 2, MSU tries a fake punt, nothing special, just a straight run left by the punter. MSU motioned two guys to the far right giving an unbalanced look (ball was on left hash) but had the three up men close to the punter with two on the left side.
- Relf isn't the fasted guy (he's not vince young) but he's got really good vision for picking out the holes even if it isn't where the play was designed to go. Plus, his O-line is getting good movement on ark's front 7. Makes him dangerous on QB draws and scrambles up the middle. We're gonna need a big game from our DT's to not get moved out of the middle.
- nice diving catch by #8 on a ball that should've been batted down.
- Solid hit by #25 on Kickoff coverage, but he didn't wrap up.
- #10 not seeing much PT this week. He's nominally a backup but maybe he's dinged up.
- #90 got a good sack playing from a 2 point stance. Great speed for a guy his size, hadn't gotten many sacks this year, but a lot of pressure. This was a bit of a twist having him line up in a MLB position
- Ark is having their DE's pushing upfield, blew up one of those jet sweep plays.
- MSU's O-line looks much better. #70 is at center instead of #55 who shifted over. #61 is not in the game, and #62 is over at right tackle where he's not as much of a liability. My suspicion is that there's a sizeable dropoff once subs have to come in. #62 and #61 seem fine in run blocking, but not as good in pass blocking.
- Seems like #8 will be the primary receiver with Bumbphis out for the bowl, Relf hasn't been looking at #19 much even though he's in the game a lot.
- Relf nearly scored again on that inverted option. Different lead blocker this time.
- Ballard takes it to the pylon for a short TD, fumbled snap might have allowed him to get outside on the pitch.
- Late hit by #5
- Jebus, enough talk about cam newton. Yes, auburn probably paid his dad. When a paper trail is discovered years down the line, maybe we'll get a reggie bush type rebuke of them then, but not until there's proof.
- Pretty entertaining game MSU 21-17 at the half.
- Ark's DB's are playing inside leverage. Makes sense against relf.
- When Relf is pressured he usually misses high.
- #5 gets an INT on the sideline up. Misread by Mallet, the safety was playing pretty far over. I doubt we'll see much of #7
- FB in the flat again. Only his 3rd catch of the year, converting 4th and 3.
- Relf fumbled. He wasn't careless on this one, just a really good hit by the defender putting his helmet on the ball.
- #5 beaten for an 88 yard passing TD on playaction. Too aggressive on that play. Amazing to see #50 being the guy who never gives up on the play again. He's been impressive from game 1. He's got a great motor.
- #62 gave up a sack, blocked the wrong guy, maybe he thought the back was supposed to pick up the DE. No, that's just a mistake by him.
- Missed tackle by #25. looks like he slipped on the turf.
- Nice hit by #34. He hasn't been lining up at DE as much lately. He's more like a Fritz middle backer, even though he's listed at OLB.
- Ark #3 shows some speed on the bubble screen getting about 20 yards
- Haven't seen much of Perkins this week. Heavy doses of Ballard and Relf up the middle.
- Exciting finish, MSU recovers a fumble with Ark trying to run out the clock with a 3 point lead.
- #19 gets a big catch.
- Ballard chewing up yards on the counter run
- 31-31 going to OT
- Ballard fumbles, Ark misses a FG.
- 2nd OT MSU doesn't cover the back out of the backfield for an easy TD.
- And #62 gives up a sack on 4th down to end the game. Actually it was the speed rush against the left tackle, but they both got there pretty quick.
The dreaded "inverted option":
We'll be seeing a lot of this play or some variation of it. Although this one isn't really part of their option series, it is third play of their sweep series. (The first 2 being the sweep and the counter sweep.) You can tell that this play is a designed QB keeper by the blocking assignments. It doesn't matter what you call it, Relf will have the ball, and he will be running between the tackles with 1, 2, or even 3 lead blockers.
MSU is in a split back slot right. Ark responds with a 4-3 and a late shift into an outside blitz. The safety moves up into man coverage and the MLB fakes a blitz.
The MLB has responsibility for a pretty big bubble in the d-line. MSU takes advantage of that by pulling the right tackle all the way into the 5 hole. Arkansas's blitzer is going way upfield to cut off any bubble screen, flare pass, or sweep. (This was the LSU blue-print).
The running backs show sweep motion to the right and both the playside guard and tackle have gotten great leverage on their men, so there's a pretty big hole for the pulling tackle to lead through.
The MSU linebacker goes for the fake, Relf keeps the ball and sees what is now a huge hole in front of him.
Looking at it from behind we can see how Arkansas should have defended it. The RT takes a pull step right at the snap. But the DE doesn't even notice it. With the blitzer to his side going upfield, he doesn't have contain responsibility and his path should be directly towards the QB/RB mesh point. If you follow a pulling linemen, you'll almost always be taken right to the play.
One of the MLB goes with the fake and the DE is in no man's land about to tackle a guy who doesn't have the ball. The MSU O-line is getting great movement on their guys.
Relf actually makes the wrong cut here, the outside corner is in man and should be blocked. But because he's a big guy, going north and south is never a bad choice for Relf. The FS is in good position to make a tackle, but he gets juked out of his shorts and then Relf is too strong to get taken down by the guys in pursuit. He bounces around into the endzone getting about 10 yards of YAC.