[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.]
Putting the 'special' into special teams
Our special teams are still not great. At least we HELD ONTO THE DAMN BALL. I'm not counting the missed extra point because that was due to a high snap. Yes the kicker has a low trajectory, but that and the snap are things that can be corrected fairly easily.
I'm more concerned by our kickoff coverage. First of all, our guy doesn't have the strongest of legs, and then we were not maintaining lane discipline. And then T-wolf got hurt. Gah....
See how it only takes one or two guys to screw up, and boom, you've got a 45 yard return.
Fitz looks serviceable as a starting RB. He's got decent acceleration coming out of his cuts. Shaw has a bit more raw speed. But I can see why Hoke and Co. chose Fitz. He's a good north-south runner with a nose for the hole. He kinda bobs his upper body and spring steps/slides to the opening. His style is a little reminiscent of Emmit Smith (SEE I CAN HYPEBOLE TOO, MR. JACKSON) in that he's not really explosive or dynamic, but he gets to the hole and takes what's available. Of course Emmit had a lot more power and legstrength than Fitz does.
Shaw has slightly happier feet, but isn't really as elusive as he thinks he is. Vincent is by far the shftiest, as we've seen from years before, but he didn't get loose this game.
On the twin long runing plays, we got good blocks, especially from the umpire.
"NICE BLOCK UMP!"
For being in a completely new system, he looks pretty relaxed and comfortable out there. Light years beyond his freshmen year. He had some inaccurate passes, and his throwing stance looks a little wide. But he seemed to be reading the defense well, making checks and run audibles at the line. On the pass to Grady over the middle, it looked like he came off his primary reciever to find the open target. Good stuff.
Herron got the glory, but we really should praise the guy beating the double team to bat the ball into the air.
And then he got up and hussled all the way to the endzone providing a little interference.
"Nice work, son."
The DB's looked better from last year. No, that's not a compliment. But they seemed to be in the same area code as the receivers most of the time. We played a lot of soft zone, 2-deep, bend but don't break stuff, but we mixed up a bit too. Avery looks a little stiff in the hips yet.
Kovacs had the big day on blitzes, but we know about his speed problems. I've said it before, but if I could take his brain and heart and put it into a body like donovan warren's or jonas mouton's, dude would be all-american, easily.
Mattision looks to be the real deal. GERG was always good at adjusting to things, but I feel like he kinda failed at anticipating what was going to be thrown at our D. Gregg, oth, seems to be doing more dictating to the offense with his system and then anticipating the adjustments they make. Without getting too specific, he would give one look, that might seem a bit odd or risky, and then later that same series would have a companion call for it designed to get a free rusher or put a defender in the passing lane.
Herron needs to improve his pass defense, a lot of times he's running to get into position where his back is to the QB. He's got to get his head around to see the ball and swat it down.
Kovacs knocked one down on a similar play. He got right into the hot read passing lane on a fake blitz. It's kinda like a zone blitz philosophy, except Kovacs was blitzing so much, that dropping him instead of the d-linemen was the surprise. Funny.
We got a phantom pass interference. Just putting that out there for when rival fans say that we never admit when we get favorable calls. A spade is a spade. Just remember this in the future when I point out bullshit that goes against us.
The stadium looks great with the luxury boxes and scoreboards, very classy. It's a bit disappointing that they don't have the game stats up all the time. It might be nice if they added an old fashioned scoreboard part above or next to the video boards.
Will we ever have cheerleader uniforms that are flattering? We must lead the country in uniform disparity between our football team and the sideline girls.
They've been Bejazzled.
At least the new unis are better than the soccer mom outfits from a few years ago. What was wrong with this?