Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
- LSU likes to run heavy sets more than Auburn, so Miss st. ran alot more 4 and even 5 DL fronts on first and second down 3rd down was almost exclusively 3 DL
- LSU's QB's were able to break contain on scrambles and get to the outside.
- ESPN U cameraman can't find the fricken ball, missing plays with stupid graphics, ARRRRGGGGHHH!
- Audible's come from the sideline
- Trips formation is about 60% bubble screens in 2+ games so far.
- Relf looks slow to pickup corner blitzes.
- punt formation was back to normal this week, but maybe just cause the punt was from deep in their own territory
- LSU adjusts to the 4 man line by going spread on 1st down. to pickup a nice gain, then back to heavy sets.
- #34 DE, team captian. Looks small for a DE, (maybe it's just his number) but has good ups. Knocked down a screen pass.
- 4th and inches on the 45, ran the option and gave to the full back instead of qb iso. strange.
- #28 ballard is pretty strong, can move the pile
- Relf looks to have decent accuracy over the middle, but he's not gonna beat you on deep outs and corner routes. ball has too much air under it.
- Trips, when LSU has two men up in bump and run, it's a straight up zone option, when LSU's corners play off, they throw the bubble.
- triangle trips (where the middle WR is on the line) is more of a passing formation.
- Terrible interception by Relf, just throwing up a prayer under a blitz pressure. hopefully he hasn't grown out of that yet.
- LSU is back in spread on 1st, so MSU goes 3 man line, so LSU runs right at it for big yardage.
- LSU 3rd and 15, only 2 DL but brought a 5 man blitz in the redzone, interesting.
- Relf is pitching the ball more when they run the option left this week, probably got coached up on that.
- 12-0 LSU at the half, Miss State's redzone D brought a lot of pressure, but LSU's ineffeciency at redzone passing probably had more to do with the stops. Very conservative playcalling by miles that the bulldog D jumped all over. procedure penalties also hurt LSU.
- the previous comment about tony dungy was obviously incorrect, it's Herman Edwards who is stuttering up in that booth.
- Miss st. is moving the the RB late to change the direction of the zone option
- Relf shaken up with a mild concussion, once you get the first it becomes more of risk every subsequent time.
- Russell can throw the deep out, hope he's out for the bowl game.
- not real impressed with miss state's FB on short yardage. he's better on option dives, but LSU does have a good DL, so that might be skewing my opinion. Either way, ballard and relf are the much bigger threats in short yardage.
- Still not very impressed with #4 safety, in 3 games I've seen him only make one great play when he was in the box and read the hole. Other than that, he's been a lot of meh.
- FB will take you to the play 90% of the time, he's either the first man on the option or the lead blocker, they almost never use him as a backside blocker or in cross buck motion. The closest to misdirection with the FB i've seen is when they dive off the guard's outside shoulder and option it the the other way
- up 26-7 start of the 4th quarter, fourth INT of the game for LSU and that's the ball game.
- LOL is there really a baseball player called FUKUDOME?!? I saw it on the scroll and thought it was the name of a stadium. the Fuk - U - dome.hahaha
- Without the massive # of turnovers this would have been a closer game, but LSU just dominated the LOS on both sides of the ball. they brought lots of heat on defense and heavy sets on offense and just pushed around their counterparts. Unfortunately this is not really something we'll be able to do. We won't have the weight advantage LSU had.
Game 2: Random Notes:
- #4 Safety looks like he doesn't get off blocks well, could be some opportunity there. not a lot of speed for a safety.
- Relf doesn't like to pitch when running the option left.
- concerted effort to get bumphis the ball in a variety of ways, doesn't matter much since he's injured, but it shows the OC's thinking and willingness to adjust plays to players.
- funky punt formation, left tackle was split out to the wide side, extra linemen was on the boundary side.?? looks like they're setting up some kind of fake. the kicker doesn't seem to be kicking it to the right, so there's something else going on.
- Auburn's #90 DT looks real good, beating double teams. hopefully a healthy mike martin can replicate those kinds of plays.
- Their option series of plays looks deadly. especially PA off of it.
- down 17-7, get a TD to open the 3rd quarter to trail by 17-14 and execute the perfect surprise onside kick. Absolutely the correct game theory call. at that point in the game, coaches are crunching data and thinking about adjustments. great call.
- but then they go 3 and out on 3 inaccurate passes.
- ugh, this does not help my confidence about this game.
Sorry, no pics yet.
My plan is to watch all the games available in order and put up a post with notes on each game, and then do a big picture pages summary of their offensive and defensive systems.
So this post will just be some random notes from the game as I think of them. But since this is the first diary on them, I'll also include some general first impressions.
- #14 Relf is the starter at QB and looks like a DE. Doesn't quite have the running skill of Cam Newton, but he has the same size and a pretty decent arm. Not the strongest arm, but he puts good touch on mid range seams. He likes to roll to his right and will hold the ball longer than he should. Can run the option.
- #17 Russell. QB More of a pocket passer, much smaller, but he "looks like a QB". Excellent at throwing PA post.
- #27 Perkins RB Likes to bounce it outside. Good acceleration, not world class top end speed.
- #28 Ballard RB, More of a straight ahead runner. Looked real good on iso and dive plays.
- #50 MLB. White, Not the most athletic guy but looks smart in the middle.
- #15 DB, got a nice interception on an agressive cut on the comeback route. Might be susceptible to double moves.
- Mostly ran 3 down linemen on D.
- Linebackers like to fake blitz on passing downs by aligning between the DL and bailing out.
- Ran out to a 21-0 halftime lead that coulda been 35-0 if not for first game miscues, but Memphis was 1-11 so take it with a grain of salt.
- I previously said that their offense looks like ours, but actually they run a much more diverse variety of formations and personell. They like to go 5 wide in long passing downs, can run basic I formation and have a whole series of plays from that. Most of the game was in shotgun, but I've seen them run some single wing (can't remember if it was this game or another).
- The cowbells are loud and obnoxious and definitely do not stop at the snap of the ball. memphis was really affected by the noise. Think vuvuzela loud.
- #1 Bumphis is their speed threat, but I heard he's not playing in the bowl game.
- ESPN U coverage sucked and Tony Dungy might have been a great coach but he's not much of an announcer.
- Isn't the Georgia mascot a bulldog? hurrah for original mascots. /sarcasm.
- Oh, didn't know that Mullen was florida's OC with Tim (I touch filipino boys' penises) Tebow. That explains a lot, like the shotgun power QB iso on the goaline.
- #93, DL looks like a good wide body guy. looks like he's got some talent in short yardage situations.
- 49-0 with 11 minutes to go and the backups are coming in. But Memphis got blown out by any team with a pulse. Like 56-0 against Louisville and 50-14 to Tennessee, both those teams finished 6-6.
- Now I know why I think Gerg should be fired. He's just not young and firey. D-coordinators at the college level usually have a lot of fire and brimstone. Miss. State's DC has the look of a guy on the rise. I think Gerg is a liability in recruiting just because of his age and personality. JMHO.
- One thing that I think a lot of people miss is that when the scrubs come in, you really get to see what the "Base" plays are. Simply because they're not very good or don't know the entire playbook. Although sometimes they run stuff they picked up from being the scout team for the week.
- #10 Looks a bit thin for an OLB but looks like a solid tackler.
Question; can a game that unfolds almost exactly the way you thought it would unfold be considered "weird?"
Chappell looked like a great pocket passer. Willis did his damage in limited oportunities. Denard was Denard (except when he wasn't).
But here's the weird thing. That game made me feel a whole lot better about the years to come, but it also made me feel a whole lot worse about the rest of this season. That is to say that I've come back down from the ND high of WOOOOOO dENARD!!!! WHOOOOHHHOOOO! Back down to 7-5 or 8-4 reasonable expectations. (Yes it is entirely possible we go 2-5 from here on out, and I'm steeling myself against that scenario. Still hoping for 12-0 of course!)
I know the mathlete just put up some good predictions that has us at 9 or so wins. Unfortunately our defense has a couple of things that just aren't going to be fixable for this season. Those two things are named 'inexperience' and 'James Rodgers'. It's never nice to get on a kid's case and call him out by name, but...yeah.
HOWEVAH! In the near ironic board meltdown following the close win, I had to take a stand against some of the negativity and offer up some silver lining for the maligned defense. After breaking down the tape, I'm even more convinced that Robinson knows what he's doing, and that we've got brighter days ahead next season and beyond.
We are soooo close to having a good defense. I mean it is litterally just a matter of inches, a few fractions of a second. A defense needs to be consistent to force punts and end drives. We actually managed quite a few of these in the second half. The 2nd half drives read Punt, TD, TO on downs, TO on downs, Punt, TD, Game. That's not that bad.
Right now we're getting a mediocre play, a good play, and then a breakdown that extends a drive or gives up a TD. If we could just get to mediocre, mediocre, mediocre, good, we'd be stopping teams left and right. But like a chain, we're only as good as our weakest link, and right now we've got lots of young babby links out there that need to get battle hardened.
The good thing is that it looks like some of them have very high ceilings. Talbott, for one, looked half decent in man coverage. Floyd is impressive, even though he still makes lots of mistakes. At least he's making them at full speed. To be as good as he is, as young as he is, is a very good sign. (Of course if JT is reading this, just know that you're no Chuck Woodson, sorry can't let you get a big head)
No it wasn't perfect, no it wasn't good, no it wasn't even satisfactory in any way other than that we got the W. But if you're looking for positive signs, there are plenty to be had. Against 90-some odd plays, the defense only really had 3-4 really bad schematic clusterf*CKs. And it's only fair, (and in fact constructive) to point these out.
Constructive criticism is specifically pointing out mistakes in particular situations. It's not being a chicken little crying for someone to be fired and whining "WHY DID WE ONLY RUSH THR3333??!" If you want to be like that, please do us all a favor and take it somewhere else *cough*mlive*cough*.
When I look at this defense, I'm reminded of watching our offense from 2 years ago. You can see how the scheme is supposed to work. But we've just got too many mental errors or people that can't quite get to where they need to be fast enough. As they get more reps and things become reflexive, this defense will get better. (A few stud bluechips at DB and LB would help a lot too).
So Let's do this.
The 2nd play from scrimmage!
The line gets good movement (as they should against the Hoosiers)
There's an unblocked safety.
But Denard makes him miss.
AND! He gets downfield blocks that send him on his way.
Every week he provides more evidence that he's the real deal. Have you ever seen a cooler customer on the final drive? It's 2nd and 2 with :47 seconds to go.
The clock is running, he just picked up 8 yards on a rush. TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK. Get the damn play called! But Denard is completely zen. He even drops his mouth piece after calling the play, scoops it up,
and calmly rushes the ball to midfield.
Receivers are MAKING PLAYS!
Roundtree, Stonum, and Hemingway are all threats with the ball in their hands. The national media is of course focusing on Denard! (WOOO!) But when receivers are catching the ball, making people miss, and then running 70 yards to the house, they deserve some major props.
This is a base zone read bubble pass:
Both defenders on the end get taken in by the fake.
The hoosiers are actually in great position to either blow up this play or stop it for a moderate gain. There's only one blocker for two defenders.
But because the ball is put perfectly in front of Roundtree, he's got upfield momentum and gets past the first man who had beaten his block.
Then he just runs around the unblocked safety to take it to the distance. Even tho' it is only Indiana, this is still awesome.
Hemingway had his best performance that I can remember.
This is a play Brian gave RPS +4 on, I might argue for more. BOTH safeties and both linebackers are selling out to stop the run.
The man covering the slot is concerned with the bubble pass, leaving an empty mid-zone, i.e. no one between Hemingway and the ball.
And then he displays a nice stiff arm to free him on his jog to the endzone.
And I will never get tired of this play.
Denard takes one step towards the line and the defense craps its pants.
It's just wide open. Make that "Oh, WIDE OPEN."
Griese to Tuman or some other TE on a rollout was my favorite play for a long time, but this has replaced it.
When you're facing 4 or 5 WR, a 3-man rush is not a bad idea because it allows you to run combo coverage behind it.
2-Deep, looks like man coverage underneath, but really it's zone. The man on the slot has good position for run support. The near cornerback is in bump 'n run with the tall and dangerous, but not necessarily quick, Belcher.
Everyone is covered. Rodgers even manages to stay close enough to his man to dissuade a throw against the confusing look, and the 3-man rush gets pressure because Martin beats a double team. Plus we've got 4 extra men in coverage that are just waiting for Chappell to misread it as man coverage and try to force a ball in, so they can get an interception.
Chappell cooly throws it away.
How the D is supposed to work.
Everyone hates the "Bend but don't break" philosophy especially when you end up being broken on half the drives. But in some situations, it is the right call.
It's 3rd and 10 near midfield. If you get a stop, they probably have to punt. Both corners are playing soft. Rogers is playing a bit more soft to compensate for his lack of speed (and reflexes, and acceleration...)
This 2-deep coverage is meant to give the impression of man-to-man (and it would have if Rodgers was in the same time zone as his receiver...)
We've got 4 guys along the first down marker, the only man open is the short crossing route, which we gladly give up because we've got two men in position to make the tackle. Result is a punt.
Mike Martin continues his path of destruction
Sometimes it's nice to have a good scheme.
Sometimes it's nice just to have a player who's been around the block and is a man beast that can lift small cars with one hand.
This is a really well-executed screen by Indiana's linemen.
They get 4 (FOUR!) linemen out in front of the play. But something clicks in Martin's head and he diagnoses what's up.
How many nosetackles can run down a running back from behind? WOW. Mike Martin; Killing ragdolls and savin' our bacon. This would have been an easy TD for them.
Going to the Chappell
In retrospect, we gave this guy way too much time to pick us apart, and he delivered. His decision making was excellent, and he was very quick with most of his reads. The interception was both a bad throw and a bad read, but when a guy throws for 480 on you, there's not much to criticize.
Quit Dossing around
I was impressed with how many ways Indiana was trying to get the ball to Doss. They did an excellent job of taking what we were giving, and taking it all day long. But they had a lot of wrinkles prepared.
On the 1st drive they put him in motion to get an unexpected bubble screen.
Floyd rolls back into a deep cover responsibility. The problem is Rodgers who is probably supposed to move up into more of a run support role. Of course, he's so untalented that the coaches are probably not trusting him to play close to the line, so he stays back.
It looks like a run to the right, and our end man is completely sucked in and roh doesn't go with Doss, leaving him wide open for the bubble screen.
With Rodgers playing so far off his receiver we have what looks like a three deep.
This play picked up huge yards as both of their blockers are holding, which wasn't called.
Later when we faced this motion, we made good adjustments to it schematically.
Because of his offensive line, I think he's going to be an underrated back all year long. He reminds me of a slower version of Evan Royster.
On this play he's got enough burst to split the partially blocked linebackers.
And he nearly runs through Floyd's arm tackle to go the distance, but looks like Floyd put some stickum on and he gets dragged for a lot of yards before finally bringing Willis down.
Here he is releasing to the flat:
We've got the bunch formation well covered, but the OLB to the bunch side is showing a blitz.
It's a disguised coverage meant to get Roh an interception.
Unfortunately, Kovacs is too far beyond the sticks. Chappell sees this and takes advantage.
We're so close to stopping this drive. But the walkon safety doesn't have the speed, so he's playing too far back, and can't come up quick enough.
But we adjusted to it later.
On this play, Floyd reacts to Willis going into the flat.
T-Gord on the other side has the bubblescreen covered. And since it's zone, Floyd is free to pass his man to the LB.
What blows up this play for a TFL is Floyd's aggressiveness coming up and a nice job by the D-linemen to track down the ball.
Talbott had a pretty quiet day, which is a good thing for a DB. He spent most of his day locked onto Belcher in man to man. This is one of the reasons Doss got so many balls thrown to him.
Here they are at the bottom of the screen.
Belcher is bigger and phsyical, but Talbott is fighting nicely.
The combo slant and outcut was just too finely executed on this play to stop. But if you can force the receiver to make a great diving catch to beat you, that's not something to be too broken up about. It's way better than the automatic 7 yards that was being given up wherever Rodgers lines up.
Wait what? Yeah, this is here just to be nitpicky coaching pursuit of perfection stuff. After Denard tweeked his knee, we had a bunch of bad drives in a row. He missed a wide open Hemingway on a pump-and-go:
Had three overthrows in total.
This should have been 6 pts.
And he needs to throw the damn bubble screen more!
Not every play needs to be a 70 yard TD. (MWAHAHAHA, I love that I can even type that sentence). There's 3 defenders for two blockers, but the OLB is flat-footed. Denard needs to read that and take the 5-yard minimum gain. When you've got WRs like ours that can MAKE PLAYS!! you need to give them the ball and not take unnecessary hits to your bruised knee.
Here's another one, This time it's 2 defenders for 1 blocker. But with the corner that far off, it's an automatic 5 yards. Denard, your mission from now until OSU is to win games and DON'T GET HURT!
FWIW, Tate's only pass of the day was a bad screen flare where he put the ball on the wrong shoulder and that killed his only drive.
Inexperience on D
It's really difficult for young players who are seeing funky formations and plays for the first time.
Indiana has 5WR and puts one in motion all the way to the far sideline. We've got 4 deep, (IN THE REDZONE!!?!?) And there's mass confusion.
Nobody goes with the motion man, and we're so far off the ball, we're inviting a 7 yard hitch on either side.
Both OLB's blitz leaving Avery? to cover three men in space. Lucky for us that Chappell decided to take the easy seven yards. Had he thrown to either short man on the right, this would have been an easy TD for them. You have to say this was a bad scheme on this play.
But Indiana tried to come right back to it.
This time, we're locked into tighter man coverage. Maybe that's only because we're on the goaline, but at least this alignment doesn't look completely insane like the previous one did.
I'm a big advocate for this kind of combo package coverage where you've got some men in zone coverage, but the others 'look' like they're in man. The whole point is to make it difficult on the opposing QB. And only rushing 3 allows us to do that.
And when Mike Martin is busting through the line, it makes you think you can get away with a 3-man rush.
But Chappell is a cool customer and sidesteps the rush just enough to buy some time and find the open man, who gets behind a flat-footed Mouton.
A lesser QB could not have made this play against this D. We've got good coverage all over the field and a man about to run him over. But he still finds the right receiver and delivers a good ball under pressure.
Good call: Mouton is just a step slow to react. Chappell makes a great read and throw under pressure.
Sometimes, we've got guys in position, but they're just not quite aware of the sticks or reacting quick enough to what's in front of them.
On this play, #5 is in position to make the tackle, he's just too far behind the sticks.
So Doss muscles forward for the 1st down. It would have helped if Roh had taken a better angle.
Does the "J" in J.T. stand for Journeyman?
Floyd spent his second week in a row being moved all over the place. I can understand why they're doing this (he's probably our best DB and we need to get our best athletes on the field.) But with all this moving around, you expect him to get confused occassionally.
On this play he gets caught looking at the underneath crossing route when what he needs to be doing is getting depth in his zone to squeeze off the seam route. The cross will be picked up by Mouton, so his false step here was not going to help anyone. And of course Rodgers was in his usual position.
Floyd leaps for the ball, but between his mistake, and the safety playing way too soft, there's a ton of room for Chappell to lob the ball into. If only Floyd could jump as high as the linebackers in NCAA05, it would have been an automatic interception...
C-Gord does lay a nice lick on the TE who does a good job of holding onto the ball. Gordon had lots of good hits, he just needs to not be giving up so much room underneath.
Here's another play where the safety is back way too far against the bunch formation.
I mean, he's not even in the picture. Literally.
We've got 2 out of 4 receivers decently covered.
But Gordon is way too far off to make a play on this deep out.
Roh in space
So the big controversy on defense this week centers around whether Roh is better utilized as a pass rusher or can he be a true OLB? I tend to lean towards the camp that says he should rush more often than drop, but his athleticism makes it tempting to try more things with him.
Here he is in pass coverage:
He takes one false step going wide instead of getting depth.
And that gives Chappell just enough room to hit the slant.
Schematically he's in the right position. But he's just slow to recognize the play. You need lightning-quick reactions on defense and that comes from experience, film study, and repetitions. Like Alvin Mack, you need to know who to kill and where to go against a huge number of plays.
But for anyone who wants to pick on GERG, just look at this later play when Roh gets it right:
Against the bunch formation, Roh gets depthin because Rodgers (who again isn't in the same area code as his receiver) has outside flat responsibilities.
This was one of the few poor decisions Chappell made (the other was the interception). He has the flat for the 1st down, but gets greedy and goes back to the seam route. This time, Roh is in position to make it a more difficult throw.
Chappell has to get it over his tall reach and overthrows the receiver.
On this play Roh is in a more traditional stack look.
But he doesn't see Doss coming in motion.
And because he doesn't go with Doss, it makes for an easy blocking assignment for the bubble screen.
You can tell that it's a mistake by Roh because the DE is already upfield making Roh's instinctive rush redundant.
But later in the game, he sees it and makes the play:
From virtually the same alignment, this time he picks up Doss and slides outside of the DE.
Kovacs (who is by far our smartest player, if I could put his mind and heart into Mouton's body, and then clone them, we'd be just fine on Defense) is not letting the TE get a free release, something I think we should do more of. One of the LBs is going with Willis.
Everyone is in pretty good coverage, except the comeback route is open for a 1 yard gain. I don't mind giving that up.
The Gordons and Talbot look fairly talented and will get better with more PT; they just need to tighten up to the receivers and react a hair quicker, but they look like they'll be solid next year.
Denard's fumbled snap.
He also put it on the ground on another run. This needs to be fixed. When WVU was really clicking, the only time they lost was when they had oodles of turnovers. With our defense we cannot afford to not score on drives.
James "Serta" Rodgers.
I've probably covered this enough already, but just to summarize, he is the weakest link. No, that's not surprising given what's happened to the depth chart at corner.
It's so bad that it's hard to tell who he's covering and whether he's supposed to be in zone or man. He's just kind of over there on one side. By the 2nd half, Indiana was actively targeting him on a large percentage of plays. He's giving up the 7-yard out:
ALL THE FREAKING TIME.
It's like he has no idea what the down and distance are. Either that, or he's just not capable of doing anything about it.
This was a 3rd and very long, and he gives up an easy first down.
At this point he needs to be taken off the field on some plays. With opposing offenses looking for him, maybe his absence will cause them a moment of confusion. There's a great story about how QBs were so focused on finding Lawrence Taylor before the snap that one time when he was on the bench, the QB was so confused he had to take a time out.
Seriously, if Cullen Christian or any converted WR can pull a Talbott and just give the impression of being able to cover someone, it'll be a step up from what we've got now. It certainly can't be any worse.
Clusterf*ck against the unbalanced line.
This was probably the single worst defensive play from a schematic standpoint. Give credit to Indiana for coming up with a good play, but we were completely out of position on this and we played it bad on top of that:
Indiana comes out in an unbalanced line. Unfortunately NO ONE sees it. Or at least no one adjusts to it. Doss goes in motion and Floyd floats back as if that was a short corner with no WR over there.
Patterson? is in the wrong gap. It's up to one of the safeties or Ezeh to see the formation and get the nose tackle to slide over. Instead, we've got 4 guys covering two linemen. Just days after I ripped Indiana for doing the same thing against one of their cupcakes, -- guess what -- we did the same thing:
C-Gordon reacts to Doss's end-around fake, and the O-line takes a hard first step to their right. So now, not only are we not lined up right against the unbalanced, they've put us essentially two men down on that side by their at-the-snap movement.
Mouton and Ezeh get sucked in by the fullback heading to the left, and we've got three guys covering air. Meanwhile, since the center has no one to block, he's free to release onto Ezeh.
Floyd takes himself out of the play by following Doss (which is not a terrible thing if he gets the end-around, but it's entirely unnecessary against this unbalanced look. Roh has got it in his mind that he's pass rushing, and that makes for an easy kickout block. Carvin Johnson (#13) is about to be destroyed by someone who weighs about 150 lbs more than him. And C-Gord is so far out of position that there's nothing he can do. But hey, we've got 4 guys who could stop the end-around...
And so Willis gets to run through a hole you could drive a truck through, and laughed his way to the endzone completely untouched.
Not sure what happened with Taylor on the last TD because the cameras cut away. But it might have had something to do with the awesome DOUBLE pancake block he got after Denard had leapt through the hole.
Denard is still TEH AWESOEM! But he has things he needs to work on.
WR, major props.
GERG is not the problem. (Rodgers is)
And Roh has the capability to get better as a LB in space.
Forget ND. Here comes the first REAL test of Michigan's defense? Why do I say that? Because Indiana is 11th in the nation in passing and 10th in points scored and has a senior QB with 30 career TD passes. Last year they scored 33 points on us while rushing for nearly 200 yards.
Are you scared yet?
Okay, maybe that's because you looked at their scedule and realized that while they were scoring close to 40 points a game, they were doing so against what amounts to the equivalent of Bowling Green's JV team.
No, seriously. They've played three games, against something called "Towson", Western Kentucky, and Akron. I'm not exactly sure, but I think some of those might be division 1 opponents. Let's compare:
Michigan is pretty good from year to year, Michigan State is usually hovering around .500. Western Michigan is a middling MAC team. Kentucky SUCKS, Kentucky State exists? (maybe) So what does that say about Western Kentucky?
Yeah, Michigan played FCS UMass, but at least that SOUNDS like it could be a FBS school. "Towson"?? Is not exactly a two time defending nation champion of the lower level.
How bad are these teams? They're a combined 1-11 with the lone win coming in OT against *drumroll please* COASTAL CAROLINA! Although Akron did almost beat GARDNER WEBB in OT. In the other ten games, Indiana's opponents were outscored by an average of about 40 points (no I didn't actually do the math, but I'm not really that far off).
So while I did manage to dig up some film on them, there's not much we can learn other than formations and base plays (and the fact that IND is wearing some uglyass 1970's uniforms).
Grannie grab your gun.
Hey, remember when ND played Nevada? And Nevada had Gumar from 'Harold and Gumar goto whitecastle' playing QB. They ran this funky type of offense with the RB 5 yards behind the QB who was already in the shotgun. That's called the pistol. It's also what UCLA just used to depants Texas and will probably be the next fad spreading across the college football world, if it isn't already.
The point of this alignment is to get a little bit more downhill momentum for your running back so that he can hit the holes with speed.
You still get the ability to do playaction, but you lose the lateral fakes. To regain the lateral motion, the RB will line up next to the QB in the shotgun like this:
On Running downs, they might put a fullback into the formation. If the QB was under center it would just be an offset I formation. But with the group of them back an extra 5 yards, we have to call it something different. I'm gonna call it the .38 caliber.
Here we have both the FB and the TE to the right, so this is likely to be a run to the right 60-70% of the time. In this case, they ran a zone dive to the left.
When they go spread, they like to use three receivers in a bunch so they can run pick plays.
Here's a running play with the bunch formation.
The middlebackers and the safety are confused and out of position.
The middle backer blitzes to the wrong side, opening up a huge running lane.
So the hoosiers get an easy 50 yard TD with 4 blockers on 2 defenders at the point of attack.
QB Ben Chappell is the same guy that put 30 some points on us last year. 5th year senior? Not a super strong arm, throws with his body. Good size. Not fast. Decent pocket presence. Likes to do 3 step drops for quick routes or playaction boots. Has good timing with his receivers, can hit them on a fly in stride. Doesn't throw well on the run. His strength is in reading the defense and picking the right receiver to go to. I suggest we run more pressure and man coverage with a single high safety this week.
#88 Belcher is their deep threat. Tall kid, not blazing speed, but chews up a lot of yardage with long strides.
TB Darius Willis is their main running threat. He's 6 foot, 220 ish and can run through arm tackles. Has a good head fake. He also had an 85 yard TD against us last year.
TE #83. Tall, soft hands. Less athletic version of rudolph.
O-Line. They look small and meh. This is probably what separates Indiana from most big ten teams. There's just not a lot of talent there.
They run a base 3-4 on 1st and 2nd down, will not substitute against a spread, instead they flex out their OLB to cover the slots. On 3rd down they like to switch to either a nickle, or a cover 1 to put extra DB's on the slot receivers.
Not a lot of speed. Towson's QB had a 40 yard scramble against them on a broken play. So like WOOOOO DENARD! They've given up oodles of yardage against teams that really don't run the ball very well.
Their safety #10 looks like a weaklink. (He may even have been replaced already.) Takes a lot of bad angles. Towson managed several plays over 40 yards against them.
They've given up huge amounts of yards to teams that don't sport very good offensive lines. Here's an example of what might be the reason why.
This is Indiana's short yardage defense. If you're saying, 'but wait a minute that looks just like their base 3-4!" then you've been paying attention. Do the hoosier's have a defensive coordinator? Because this personell package, in this situation is almost criminally stupid.
It's 3rd and 1 and they're in a base 3-4.
It's 3rd and 1 in THE REDZONE and they're still in a base 3-4!
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a DOUBLE TIGHT formation and they're in a 3-4?!
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation WITH A FULLBACK MEANING THERE ISN'T A SINGLE WR IN THE GAME, and they're still in a base 3-4 with 4 DBs!!!?! (well hey, at least they walked up one of the safeties...)
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with a fullback and there are EIGHT OFFENSIVE LINEMEN AGAINST YOUR 3 DOWN LINEMEN!!!!!!!!! THEY ONLY NEED TO GAIN 1 FREAKING YARD!!!!!!!
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with a fullback AND IT'S AN UNBALANCED LINE TO THE RIGHT!!!!!!OMG HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT?!!?!
It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with extra o-linemen, no WR, in an unbalanced formation to the right WITH THE H BACK IN A WING TO THE RIGHT!!!! THE UNBALANCED SIDE!!!! THERE ARE 9 OFFENSIVE PLAYERS FROM THE BALL TO THE RIGH!!!!! AND INDIANA HAS 4 (FOUR!) PLAYERS COVERING 2 (TWO!) ON THE OTHER SIDE!!!?! WTF ARE YOU DOING??!
So you won't be surprised that WKU ran to the right and scored a TD on this play.
They use a spread punt formation.
Had an okay return against Towson and got a 70+ yard return against WKU, so they must at least know their blocking assignments on kickoff returns.
Tandon Doss, who some of you might remeber is a pretty nifty runner, even if he doesn't have a world class top gear.
Should be a high scoring game. And most likely a preview of things to come. If the offense doesn't score more than 45 points, they should hang their heads in shame. The key will be in stopping Chappell. If we can hold them to 30 points, I'll be happy. (not really, but I'll take it.) Their running back is talented enough, but that O-line just doesn't run block very well, and we should have a sizeable advantage there.
I'm gonna say 48-28 good guys.
After the positive response to last week's diary, I thought I'd do another. But I couldn't compel myself to breakdown our game with Umass because really, what would be the point? There's not a whole lot to learn from that game that we didn't know already. i.e. Denard is teh aweseom, mike martin is a beast, craig roh is evolving into a beast, but our LB's and secondary are uggghhh, but that has been expected.
So instead, I thought I'd breakdown the ND vs. MSU game because
- It was a more interesting game that doesn't make me want to reach for massive amounts of alcohol
- I can continue my analysis of ND's personnel problems
- ND runs many plays that are similar to ours, so breaking them down will actually be transferrable to our team's scheme
- It'll be good for when I write up a scouting report for the MSU game
- I really hate ND and hope they lose the rest of their games, so if I can give any of their opponents some insight, yea! (btw, stanford will blow them out)
So let's do this:
Notre Dame's screen game
As noted before, ND's linemen are not a good fit for what Brian Kelly wants to do. I feel a little bit silly criticizing an offense that is putting up nearly 30 points a game and a ton of yardage. But they're really failing to live up to their full potential.
Here's ND's first screen.
They split Armando Allen up to the top of the field with the ball on the hash, so it's a much shorter distance for the linemen to run. I like this adjustment by kelly. Get the ball to one of your best players in space and make things easier on your slow linemen.
With three WR on the other side of the field pulling 4 defenders with them, this play should really go to the house.
But look how close to the LOS Allen has to go to get behind his linemen. Faster D-linemen or even a d-line spy will completely blow this play up.
Anyway, ND manages to get 2 linemen in front of Allen and there's a blocker for every defender, but BOTH linemen miss their blocks and this play only gains about 7 yards instead of being a 60 yard TD.
Here's the other play from the same formation.
The formation is flipped because the ball is on the other hash. Rudolph will run the bubble screen to the top of the field
With a normal slot receiver, like odoms, or steve breaston, this play is an automatic 7 yards against this defensive alignment and maybe breaks for 20. All the slot receiver has to do is outrun the LB to the corner. The safety is unblocked, but if he gets caught up in the wash or takes a bad angle, this could be a big play.
But Rudolph is not exactly nimble and Crist doesn't put very good touch or placement on this ball since he's used to being a downfield gunslinger instead of a spread and shred point guard. And so it's just an incompletion and a waste of what should have been a decent gain.
They followed this up with the third option from this formation which was crist running up the middle on a QB draw, but he's not exactly denard and only got like 3 yards. All of this was on the first series, so it's probably scripted, and it wasn't really setup well. You don't run that QB draw until you see the LB's are bailing out to cover the screens, but since ND's wide screens didn't pose much of a threat on the first two plays, the LB's were sitting at home and gobbled him up.
Later in the game, crist missed riddick on a bubble, cause he doesn't have the touch for the flare pass, so they came back to the screen to riddick on the other side, again to the short side of the field.
The play starts with crist either misreading he RB bubble to the top of the field, or it was a called screen to riddick all the way
One linemen does manage to get a block. He's too slow to get downfield, but at least he's being useful. You can't say that about the other two linemen who are BEHIND riddick.
If not for riddick's nifty spin move, this play gets destroyed for a minor gain.
Here's the fake screen slant. This is the play that we sprang odoms on for wide open TD's.
The problem with ND's execution is that they're not selling the fake very hard.
Combine that with their ineffective previous attempts and the fact that Crist isn't much of a threat to run, and it's easy for the safety to stay at home. He has no reason to bite on either the bubble screen fake or the qb run. When Denard takes one step up into the hole, the safeties panic and you get easy TD's
The result is a tough throw for crist to fit into a tighter window, and the safety breaks up the play for an incompletion.
Here's MSU showing the proper execution of the bubble screen.
ND shows 2 deep, but rolls up late just before the snap
But with a fast enough slot man it shouldn't matter. The ball is placed in front of the receiver so he can make the catch with forward momentum.
And even if the safety hadn't missed the tackle, it would have been an easy 7 yard gain. It's like stealing.
MSU did this many times for a lot of yards.
Here's virtually the same play, but to the other side.
The OLB has all his weight forward and the safety is in no position to do anything on the bubble option.
The handoff fake holds the OLB even more.
Resulting in a wide open keshawn martin with a ton of room to make an easy first down.
When you've got a new coach and a new system, and probably new jargon, you expect there to be a few clusterf*cks. Here's ND totally screwing up a screen just before the half.
So MSU is doing their 3rd and long thing by having one of the extra DB's bail out into a really deep third just before the snap. Again, the OLB are blitzing.
It looks like the two slot receivers were on the wrong side. There's two linemen releasing, but they're on the wrong side for riddick's screen action. Crist is looking at rudolph the whole way, but rudolph thinks he's blocking. And the amazing this is that this gem of an f'up came after a timeout.
Late in the 4th quarter, Kelly decides he's had enough of the cutesy screens and goes with something a little more tradition that his lineman can handle.
The left tackle pops up for just a brief moment to show pass blocking, but then hauls ass downfield to lead the play.
The tackle doesn't really get much of a block on the safety, but at least he's out in front of the play.
Rudolph gets away with a slight hold. Good pursuit and the lack of the spread option fakes results in Allen only getting about 10 yards. But it's a positive play, just with a lower ceiling.
I'm going to keep harping on this; until crist really settles down (which may be very soon, and ND's offense will be scary when that happens), stopping Allen is the key to stopping ND.
Here he is on a simple shovel pass. ND ran this twice to great effect.
MSU is bringing pressure from the edges. The slot receiver is pointing out that 'his man' is blitzing allowing the qb to change the play. MSU's defenders start off in a cover 2, but one of the nicklebacks bails out at the last second to take the deep middle.
This is meant to give the qb, an automatic check down to the slot receiver who will be wide open, but only for a gain of 7-10 yards with the 2nd line of defenders holding at the sticks. This is a staple of most defenses these days, where you show one look, wait for the QB to change the play, and then switch into a different defense.
Kelly should get an RPS +2 on this because with both OLB's blitzing, they take themselves right out of the play. The middle backer is covering one of the seam routes, but the seam route on the bottom of the field would probably have gotten a first down, or close to it. If you weren't running the shovel pass, the proper thing to do against this defense is to attack that deep safety who a) is playing out of position, b) just had a 20 yard sprint to get into position and is still moving backwards, and c) is 10 yards beyond the the 1st down marker.
The blocking is set up ok, but ND's linemen can't maintain their blocks. It doesn't matter as Allen eludes them and picks up about 20 yards with some nifty cuts.
But WTH, refs? Is it illegal to call holding against ND? sheesh!
Here's Allen on a counter trap from the shotgun
Notice he's aligned even with the QB. This indicates a lateral mesh.
But instead of the normal motion, the LB's need to key his feet, as he does more of a choppy step mesh so that he can bend it back against the grain. The line blocks down on the nose, the tackle lets his pass rusher go upfield, and the pulling lineman is isolated on the LB.
Floyd doesn't know his assignment, leaving the safety unblocked. Had he done his job Allen would have been able to cut to the sideline.
Instead he's forced into a safety sandwich.
Here's the straight play from that same alignment.
For some reason, Floyd has decided to take this play off.
The slot man is always wide open for 5 yards against this alignment if the LB doesn't cheat the flare. Allen goes through the mesh quicker to get around the far tackle. ND gets a nice lead block from the guard who twists around the tackle into the hole.
Floyd just kind of ignores his man and wanders into the middle of the field. Contrast this to the guard who is on his horse to hit someone.
So guess who makes the tackle.
Here's yet another way to give him the ball.
It's shotgun, trips right, Allen is also to the right of Crist
At the snap, both Allen and Crist sprint to the right, but Allen will peel back to take the handoff.
With all the action going to the right, and the formation strength that way too, the safety and LB are both sucked in and Allen gets over 10 yards on this carry.
One way to stop Allen on the zone dives and inside traps is to blitz the corner.
After Rudolph finishes his motion, the corner shows blitz and the safety slides over to 'cover' his WR.
This is a similar play to something we run. And it's up to the QB to see the blitzing corner and audible out or throw the checkdown to the WR. Here Allen just gets gobbled up.
The kid from Hawaii
Here's MSU running a sweep.
Teo reads the action flowing with the line
When he sees the ball, he's just gone.
That's impressive. To get that big of a TFL when you're not even blitzing takes some crazy speed.
In the 4th quarter he made a similar play
The H-back and FB are leading around the corner on the sweep.
But this time the OLB is doing a slightly better job of extending the corner, if he doesn't really have contain.
Teo just shoots through that tiny gap with blazing speed.
Making the fullback's head spin.
But he still needs to learn to wrap up better.
On this 3rd and long, he's spying the RB.
MSU manages to get 3! linemen out in front of the RB. (Hey ND, what a novel idea!) Teo reads the screen and gets on his horse to lay some lumber on Bell.
He reacts so fast that he beats all three linemen to the punch and gets a good pop on the ball carrier.
But Bell is strong enough and has good enough balance that he shakes off the hit, spins around and heads upfield. And because all 4! of ND's linemen have been fooled on the play, Bell manages to get 1st down yardage even though Teo completely confused MSU's 3 lead blockers, otherwise this play might have gone the distance.
When he's not blind in one eye and thinking he's batman, he can be a very effective QB. Just not a spread QB. It'll be interesting to see what kelly does with him in the future, especialy if Floyd or Rudolph or both are in the pro's next year. Already he is very strong at the intermediate routes and hitting receivers that are moving across his vision. He has a lot of trouble with overthrowing flys and putting touch on flares as documented above.
But they did manage to hit some bubble screens in the second half, and when he underthrows Floyd for jump balls, it's a deadly combination. Of course we saw the one time he connected on a fly with rudolph, so the future is bright for him.
He's never going to be a one step darter like denard, but other than mike vick, who can be? Teams are not going to respect him on the zone read option, or they'll hope he keeps it and gets his head knocked in again.
He did throw one bad interception, but I credit MSU's defense on that play. It was an interesting play for many reasons.
Before the snap, crist reads man coverage so he changes the play. The MSU LB's see this and they change the defense.
But it still looks like man coverage
The only giveaway is the two deep safeties, but sometimes teams will play man underneath the 2 deep.
The far right WR runs a little hook, and crist is trying to hit the corner route thinking he's got a LB on his slot receiver.
But the corner comes off his receiver to make the interception.
This was well disguised by MSU.
And it got another classic reaction from Kelly
In nearly an identical situation in the 2nd half, crist again audibles thinking it's man coverage
Which it is.
MSU is in an all out blitz. But the line blocks down as crist rolls away from the unblocked blitzer.
The big change here is that the two outside receivers both run square in's taking their men with them. This eliminates the possibility of a corner coming off his man to get the pick.
Rudolph beats the man coverage from the safety and crist hits him in stride for the TD.
Notes on MSU's offense:
Keshawn Martin, has some good moves on the bubble screen, very dangerous, tall, fast, and he's got some shake n' bake to him. Made a bad decision on one kickoff return.
Cousin's looks very sharp, but he did totally favre an interception in the endzone by rolling left and throwing back to the right very late when nothing was open.
They like to run a lot of I slot and double tight formations. The counter quick pitch works well for them, they get decent blocking from their WR.
Here we have MSU in a doubletight formation and an H back in a power set to the left.
ND is seriously misaligned against this formation. Because the replay was still showing, I don't know if MSU motioned to this formation and ND didn't adjust, or if they just screwed the pooch coming out of the huddle.
The H-back has no one to block because the OLB is on the wrong side.
So he just goes looking for someone to hit, which ends up being one of the safeties and it's an easy 15 yard run on 1st down.
Here's another example of the shifts and motion MSU will use to try to get teams out of alignment.
It starts as a double tight ace set. ND is in a base 3-4 instead of their usual 4-3.
The flanker moves up and the TE drops to an H-back position. ND is doing some WEIRD corner blitz. Weird because they're showing it very early, and inviting the qb to throw to the uncovered man.
The H-back ends up in an offset I. This is a strong indication of a run to the left. A good checkdown would be a 3 yard sitdown to the uncovered WR, anything longer will be vulnerable to the sneeky safety who is 'covering' him.
Both the corner and the OLB come hard off the edge. This is an assignment run blitz with the corner responsible for the QB and the OLB for the RB. But the play is going away from them, so they can't do anything. The playside OLB has lost contain almost immediately
The guard get's just enough of Teo to trip him up and prevent him from blowing this up for a TFL. The H-back is now just a lead blocker and he gets a great seal and the play results in another big chunk of yards for MSU
On this next play, MSU is in an unbalanced line.
Both the TE and WR are on the same side making the TE covered and inelligible. The slot man goes in motion but comes back to the heavy side. From this formation, this indicates a run to the left 99.99% of the time. There's a couple ways to deal with an unbalanced line. One is to just shift the entire defense over and pretend that the left guard is the center. Instead, ND rolls up a safety to maintain contain. The weakside corner backs off, and the remaining safety moves over to give a 3 deep look (on what is obviously a running down).
At the snap, the right guard pulls and the line blocks down to the right. For some reason, the D-line is slanting to their left. I have no idea why. (This play was going to the D's right from square one.) It might be because the FB takes an initial step to the right as the QB gives a cross buck handoff to the TB who has what amounts to 3 lead blockers on this play. (The pulling guard, the slot man, and the fullback)
This leaves a big crevice in the front seven that MSU runs right through. The slot man kicks out the safety playing contain. The TE just takes his slanting OLB away from the play. The pulling guard gets a great seal on DE, leaving the FB looking for someone to block.
That someone ends up being the remaining safety, TD MSU.
Baker, Bell, Caper
Their RB's have deceptive speed. You don't expect men that big to have such a good initial burst and acceleration. On Baker's long TD's this season, safeties have taken bad angles on him.
This play starts as a zone dive to the right from a double tight, double flanker right formation.
There's an option to throw the bubble to the top, but it's pretty well covered with 3 defenders. The playside OLB is unblocked. The sneaky part of this play is that the left tackle just pushes off on the man lined up on him and releases to the 2nd level.
A gaping hole opens up for the cutback as baker bends it back against the grain because the backside DE has gotten way too far upfield and gets sucked in by a good QB rollout fake. QB fakes are one of my pet peeves. They seem like such small things, but they can make the difference on a lot of plays. Denard has been great at this. Crist, not so much.
The safety is in position to stop this play after 10 yards, but he misjudges Baker's speed
He doesn't breakdown, gets his feet tangled, and Baker is off to the races (thanks to some good downfield blocking by the WR). And as anyone who's been watching Michigan football the last few years knows all too well, when the safety misses a tackle, the result is usually DOOM.
Here's another play that either shows the speed of MSU's RBs or the lack of speed by ND's safeties.
The formation is a simple I slot left. The OLB is in good position to defend the bubble screen.
On the snap, the QB reverses out and the left guard pulls. This is in the 4th quarter and the entire front seven gets sucked into this power iso dive look.
The tailback takes one plant step to the right and then cuts hard left to take the quick pitch. The slot man needs to get a block on the OLB, but the safety is unblocked.
But he takes a terrible angle. The DE has no hope of catching Baker.
The result is a 15 yard gain.
Karma is a bitch
Ok, ND fans have a right to some whining this week, sort of.
Yes Cunningham was out of bounds on his tying TD catch, and yes it should have been a flag because he wasn't really pushed out.
Yes, the play clock was at zero on the fake field goal.
Yes, there could have been holding or offensive pass interference called on the fake field goal.
ND just got spartied in spartan stadium by the spartans. We feel your pain, domers. It is written somewhere that every signature MSU win must come on a controversial play. Like when Desmond was interfered with in the endzone. Like when TJ Duckett scored thanks to spartan bob and a blatant hold that wasn't called.
But after the last century of favorable calls, phantom TD's, and other crazy BS that has gone ND's way, it was bound to balance out eventually. Just consider the last two decades as balancing the preceding one hundred.
"Little Giants" was a ballsy call, nearly as good as Texas's fourth down 'roll left', and the football gods reward gutsy moves.
So hopefully Dantonio will continue to make them, if it doesn't kill him first. Get well soon, and thanks for an entertaining game coach D.