At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
Around suppertime Monday my synapses kicked in again, and I could think about anything from that game other that GURGLE GURGLE, BAWWHHHH, and 'WHHAAAAT?'. The first thing that came back was the 77-yard pass to Hemingway while wearing Kapron Lewis-Moore as an ankle bracelet. Then the rest of the memories returned, and I remembered I was getting aggravated earlier about how ridiculous it was to be using Denard Robinson like John Navarre. Chris Brown's Twitter feed wasn't helping:
…and neither was watching Henne and Brady demolish each others' defenses from under center on Monday. Of course Denard is Denard and makes magical unicorn rainbows, so hell why not have the best rushing QB in history sit in the pocket then lob an end-zone fade to a 5'9 receiver? I'm not being totally sarcastic: the guy may be 6'0 but he can also stand outside the pocket with a 300-pound defender hanging on his legs like your sister's kids after dessert, then chuck a perfect zinger from his back shoulder to a receiver behind the coverage. By this point any other QB would be eating turf; Ben Roethlisberger would be eating turf.
Magical Denard is magical and is actually capable of throwing perfect spirals with a rusher in his face from a 7-step drop if you ask him to, and he is getting better at doing so. He's obviously still learning the technique—Hoke in the Monday presser:
He was the first one to come off the field after one [bad play] and say, ‘My footwork was bad.’ So that’s good to see.
I think we can safely extrapolate this was after the first interception. To actually say the I-form is responsible for any more than that (and that flimsy) we're gonna need to dig a bit deeper. And since memory of formation beyond that and the "Shades of Aaron Shea" fullback pass betrays, let's just look at all the plays run under center vs Notre Dame (mega thanks to Boyz n da Pahokee, who gets a long overdue points bump for his Every Snap Videos):
"DRV" = which play in that drive, so 3 is 3rd play, etc.
|1||3||M33||1st||10||RUSH||Hopkins, S.||2||MANBALL 1|
|2||1||N45||1st||10||RUSH||Hopkins, S.||2||MANBALL 2|
|3||2||M29||2nd||10||RUSH||Hopkins, S.||3||MANBALL 3|
|3||4||M43||1st||10||PASS||INTERCEPTION||0||Footwork was bad.|
|4||2||N45||2nd||15||PASS||McColgan, J||15||1st Down|
|4||3||N26||1st||10||PASS||INTERCEPTION||0||Why? Why did you throw this?|
That's 8 plays where bad things happened (<4 yards to turnover) from under center, and 7 where good things happened (counting Hopkins getting stuffed and fumbling as a "good thing"), and accounts for about 35% of the offensive plays yet 100% of Michigan's scoring plays on the day (WHHAAAAAAT?). Those six in microcosm:
- Jump ball to Hemingway in single coverage. Is short (that's good) and Hemingway makes a play then dives for the pylon. (GOOD)
- Denard rolls out, finds nobody, magically picks his way through a forest of ND defenders to get to the 1. (LUCKY…that we have Denard)
- Goal Line. Hopkins runs straight into leaping linebackers, fumbles, Denard picks it up and accelerates into the end zone.* (LUCKY)
- Perfectly executed Incredibly Surprising Waggle that finds McColgan open on a wheel, and brings back memories of Aaron Shea. Then again if Carr did this on 2nd and 15… (GOOD)
- Drops back, has to loft ball over collapsing defenders, Gallon goes up to get it, and Gary Gray becomes the Stevie Brown(-3) of Notre Dame. (LUCKY)
Perfectly executed fake-bootleg screen. Smith makes this happen by out-accelerating a tackle then slipping through a few more before 'Tree can get the last block. Note: this was out of ACE Twins. (
LUCKYEDIT: GOOD--I hear you board. This is the kind of under-center play that plays to these guys' strengths)
- Smith motions out of the TB spot to split end and…Ah hell, you deserve to relive it. (Ufer style)
Let me know when your synapses are functioning again. Actually, don't. Watch that a few more times.
When you've woken up and convinced yourself all over again that this is indeed real life and the score will be like that forever, I see 15 plays run under center of which eight did nothing and at least four or five only did something only because a fumble bounced right to Denard or Gary Gray can't cover. The touchdowns are red herrings. Wonderful, magical, sapphire herrings.
Not counting goal line, kneel downs, 3rd and long/short, and times when we needed to get 80 yards in 30 seconds or whatnot (i.e. the last two drives), Michigan ran 61.76% of its plays out of the shotgun. So this is still a 60% spread offense. When you break out the yardage on the remaining plays, it's easy to see why:
|Formation||PASS YPA||RUSH YPA||TOTAL YPA|
(the one sack was from the shotgun, and counted as passing yards)
It's early in the season and Denard is still learning how to run this offense and by "this offense" I mean like 40% of the offense, with the rest being the stuff mostly similar to what he did last year. It does seem his recurring accuracy problems are related re-learning dropback QB footwork but except for when he says so directly it's hard to see how that affects the efficacy of formations.
The big thing is the rushing! Small sample and all but against our first real competition (and ND is a good rush defense) Michigan put up better-than-Rich-Rod numbers out of the gun and was broken-Hart-vs.-mid-aughts OSU out of the I. The staggering difference in rushing yardage out of the I versus shotgun may be as simple as Denard's rushing ability versus that of the RBs: had Hopkins found the cutback lanes in his two rushes under center perhaps that I-Form rush YPA is up around a Lloydball-ian 3.5. That's still a huge difference. Denard in the gun means Denard as a rushing threat. Notre Dame mostly chose to play the rushing threat and force him to pass (and this worked pretty well), and yet he still got 7.46 YPA because one guy in the hole is never enough.
Two games into a new staff, got the W, very limited sample, receivers are the receivers, his legs are his legs, not likely to face a better MLB than Te'o, caveat caveat caveat caveat, but at this point (caveat caveat) I don't think lining up under center is working.
* It was watching this play that I realized I had seen enough of Denard running that I can recognize his unique style…like you know how you could pick out a Mike Hart moving silhouette with no other clues? I think I could do that with Denard now.
News bullets and other important items:
- Hawthorne and Campbell did well enough to get more playing time.
- Woolfolk played really well for a guy with one arm. Has a sweet cut on his nose, but his ankles are fine.
- Borges calls his offense a westcoast/spread hybrid (not transcribed)
- Wants less shotgun to feature tailbacks more. “The best teams don’t depend on one player, yet they have that one player that can win for them. But when push comes to shove, I want the ball in his hands.”
Opening remarks: “I guess 2-0 is a good way to start. I think we have to still play much, much better on defense. We’ve got to correct some of the mistakes that are allowing some yardage. The one thing I wasn’t happy with was one of the bigger plays that broke on the run, that was the first time all year we didn’t pursue like we had to on the back end. That was something we talked about that they’ve been doing a good job on so far. We just have to make sure we crowd that football and make that ball be inside, but it was a great win for the program.”
Did you see good enough play from Hawthorne to give him more playing time? “Yeah, oh yeah. He showed some things in the spring. He showed some things in the fall. And then he sprained that ankle. One thing I’ve been impressed with him was even when the ankle was not good earlier, he came out and practiced hard, and limped and tried to do everything he could. He shows you he’s a tough kid. I was happy for some of the things he did, and he really helped us.”
Are you disappointed in the defensive line, and are you concerned about having to blitz so much? "I don’t know if you’d say I’m disappointed. We’ll always blitz, and we’ll always pressure. You’d like to make sure we can get pressure from a four-man rush on a more regular basis. To be able to do both, then you really have it, and that’s something we’ll address, and that’s something we’ll work on right now.”
Did creating turnovers help solidify the defense during the game? “No question, no question. Our ability to get those turnovers -- this was a really good offense. Make no mistake about it. This was a very, very good offense that we played against. There’s a great deal of experience on the offensive line. We won’t face a wide receiver than Floyd. The tight end, in my opinion, is a big time football player. Their offensive line is all older. That did help us a great deal to be able to [get turnovers], but its’a mindset that we’ve been able to build, that no matter if teams are moving the football on you, as long as you have a place to stand and they’re not in the endzone, something good can happen. The other thing, when you’re getting turnovers -- I think when you get turnovers it means they’re around the football. We’ve all seen times before where the ball’s lying on the ground and there’s nobody there to get it. We’ve got to keep doing that. That’s something we’ve got to keep doing until we get better at our fundamentals and get more seasoned.
Was Notre Dame’s last touchdown due to a breakdown in communication? “No it wasn’t. We didn’t execute it exactly like we wanted to. I’ll be dead honest with you, there’s sometimes calls a guy makes that afterwards you say, God I wish I hadn’t made that call. That was the same call we got the interception on earlier in the game. It looks exactly like the blitz, and we had blitzed right before that, and they knew we were going to blitz the closer they got down there, so I just thought to myself, you know what, maybe we can do the same thing. Show that blitz and come out of there. We didn’t execute it as well as we did the first time, and they hit it. I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not always 100%, and if it was all over again I probably wouldn’t have called that.”
Is disguising coverage more important in college than in pros? “The thing about disguising is you’ve got to be pretty experienced. A lot of times out there you’re just saying, ‘Guys, make sure you’re in the right place.’ Disguising is the next phase. The first thing we have to make sure is we don’t bust on coverage and make sure we’re in position to make the plays we can make. As they get more seasoned and as they get better, then you can say, ‘Okay, now you got that down, now let’s make it look like this and go to this.’ But we haven’t been able to disguise as much as you’d like to, and we’ll get there.”
How many of your linebackers are you comfortable with? I’m comfortable with anybody on that football field. Anybody that practices and goes through what they go through … Anybody on the field for Michigan I feel comfortable with, because that means they’re the best. We just have to keep getting them healthy, trying to make sure they’re 100%, making sure they’re improving. You’ve got a bunch of linebackers there that haven’t played a lot of football. You get thrown in a ballgame like that, for them to make some of the plays they made, I’m proud of them. There’s always mistakes. The one thing I’ve said all along that I’m so proud of this defnsee about is they come in everyday after the game’s over trying to correct those mistakes. I hope there’s someday where we don’t have to correct those mistakes but that’s what we’re working on right now.
Longer runs when Mike Martin dropped into coverage. How do you protect the middle of field? “The same blitzes that hit the quarterback from western -- [Notre Dame] obviously saw that and didn’t want that pressure to come at them, so what they did was check to a run whenever they saw that look. We have defenses that look exactly the same that are run defenses, and it’s the same thing. I called the pressure thinking it was pass, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I should have called the pressure for the run because maybe they’re going to do that, and sure enough they did do it. And the next one they ran it on third-and-seven. If a team’s going to run it on third-and-seven, you aren’t ever going to pressure if you’re worried about it. And some of the overloads on both sides -- they aren’t great run defenses.”
What do you see from Martin that allows you to drop him into coverage? “He’s a very good athlete, and he’s a very intelligent football player. And that’s what it takes. A bigger guy like that, showing that he’s a defensive lineman and then dropping out, can cause problems. You can only do that when a guy’s enough of an athlete to do it. I don’t want to do it too much because he’s a great run player, and all of a sudden he’s dropping out, and they’re running the football at you, it’s not very smart.”
What did you see from Will Campbell? “I thought that when he went in, he gave us a spark. I thought he played with a lot of passion, and that’s a big body that can move. Again, everybody buys in and everybody steps up the way we want it at different times and at different levels. And he’s one that when he was out there, he said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do it the way they want it done.’ I do believe he’ll probably get more playing time. We’re rotating anyhow, but I do think he’s earned it by what he showed right there. The biggest thing the guys have to do is earn it at practice. The game is the reward for how you practice, so they’ve got to continue to practice hard and go out there, and that’ll be their reward.”
Does a healthy cam Gordon allow you to do some different things? “He was a safety, and a very good athlete, but all those factors -- most of [the linebackers] are pretty good athletes and can cover. I don’t think we ever think, ‘well Cam’s not in there, we can’t run this defense.’ ”
What have you seen from Craig Roh the last two games? “Craig played much better. Craig played much better in this game than he did the first game. I think Craig’s another guy that all of a sudden he sees that the bar is higher than maybe he expected it to be. He’s bought in, and he’s going to be an outstanding football player. I’ve got all the confidence in the world. And just to see the way he’s practicing since that first game and then played better in this game, I look forward to him playing much better in this game.”
In the past two games, the other team has moved the ball on you easily at the beginning, but then you seemed to figure them out. Can you explain that? “Maybe I need to do a better job with the pep talk. I looked at that, and I don’t know if it’s us adjusting. I think every game you have to adjust. That’s part of coaching, and that’s part of the players really understanding our whole package. That’s why I always talk about bullets. If something isn’t working, then you’ve got to have something else to go to. We were fortunate to call some other defenses that the kids executed very well, and got some big plays off of them. I don’t know if that’s adjustments, that’s maybe just the way defense is, if you have enough in there, don’t stay out there and let yourself to continue to not do well. Change it up, and do something until you find that mix, and luckily our players kept playing. A real credit to them. They believed all the way, and they played all the way. That’s why we’re going to be good. That’s why our defense is going to be a Michigan defense. We’re not there yet, by any means, but as long as those players keep doing that, then we’re going to be fine.”
How many kind of defenses do you run? “We’ll always put in different things each week. We’re never going into the game with the same game plan, and usually it means pressures. I don’t think you can say, this is our package in the spring, and it’s the same thing you run throughout the whole year, so we will always tweak things, we’ll always add some things, we’ll take something out. We have a number that I kind of look up on the board, and I say this is the number of defense we have to have in this game, and no more because you can’t get enough practice time on them. I look at how many times I can call a defense in a practice to decide whether I can call it in a game, because you don’t want to put a defense out that they aren’t prepared with.”
Has that number changed every week? It’s usually a set number. It all goes by what they can handle, but I don’t know what you’d say the number is, but I know when I look at that board, if I see too many defenses on that ready list, I’ll be taking them down by tonight or tomorrow, saying, ‘No no, we can’t, this is too much.’ I’d like to do it, we’d all like to do it, but it isn’t going to get called. Or if you do call it, you’re hoping it’s run right, and that’s not fair to the kids.”
Are you hesitant to play Troy Woolfolk because of his cast? “No, no. In fact, after watching the film, Troy Woolfolk played unbelievable for a guy with one hand. He made one tackle with one hand that might have broke. I was proud of him. He’s a Michigan man. He came up to me before the game, and said, ‘Coach, you can count on me, I’ll go. I think there’s a lot of programs where people -- seniors and everything -- might have said, ‘Oh, I can’t go.’ Not him. I’m proud of him for doing that.”
(Borges after the jump. ball.)
Derp. The Shredder grabbed a great shot of Tommy Rees's "oh shiiiiii—" moment in the fourth quarter on Saturday:
That's not supposed to be there.
Let's play the 'Freude. ND features above the fold in TWIS for the second straight week. If you clicked through on twitter you've already seen this but you probably want to see it again:
I cried like an asshole.......
by guilfordnd (2011-09-11 00:32:33)
......for `15 minutes in the bathroom. and i[''m still drunk. I wanted to be as positive as I could the entire game until the pass. I crumpled up after that and cried and cried like I lost a good friend or some s--- after that pass. Tonight I let the small bluegill and two other panfish that were in my aquirium into the creek down the street. I figured I can't have anymore pussies in my man cave. I will catch some fish that will be a f---ing asshole ( like a bass) where every time I feed it it will dominate, and then s--- out the remains. call me wierd but I got nothing left. I don't know what else to do. I look forward to the fall but the gets harder and harder each year.
But wait, there's more: just after I posted it I hit up my Big Ten feeds and came across We Never Graduate's running diary of the game. The choicest bit:
10:32 TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWNNNNNN IIIIRRRRRRIIIIISSSSSHHHHHH! TJ JONES ON THE CROSSING PATTERN! THE IRISH HAVE TAKEN COMPLETE CONTROL OF THIS GAME. Let’s see if ‘Nard Dog can pass them back.
Wait, let me think about that…HAHAHAHAHAHA.
The whole glorious brain-melting thing is worth your time.
Kirk Spartans, meet Branden Georgia. MSU's marketing violence uniforms have been revealed and yes they're all like LOL USF. It's hard to get exercised about this kind of thing at MSU, which changes its uniforms every few years, but I hope this is just a model thing and not a reprise of the Georgia uniforms:
I doubt it, though. That nameplate is very dark. Kirk Spartans is going to throw to BJ Spartans unless Dan Spartans can't block, and Edwin Spartans is probably going to run for a 60-yard touchdown.
Look, Nike: I give up. You're going to give people uniformz and they're often going to be playing Michigan when they wear them. Whatever. But can we at least keep the names on the jerseys? I like having names on jerseys so I can figure out what's going on better. They are a public good. Penn State is the only school that doesn't raise my ire about not having them.
McGary McGary McGary. Mitch McGary has checked in with an update on his recruitment with two encouraging parts. Part the first:
First up was Michigan. It went really well. I had a ball there. The fans just showed me so much love at the football game. Everyone talks about Michigan being a football school, but when I sat in the student section everyone just started chanting “Mitch Mc-Ga-ry” and started clapping. They definitely know their basketball at Michigan, that’s for sure. …
I would say that the part that stood out most about the visit was the fans and just how much love they showed me. I really wasn’t expecting all of that. People talk about the Cameron Crazies at Duke, but that’s how it was at Michigan too. Those fans showed me the most love of the three visits.
Excellent work, Max.
Part the second:
I still want to go to Kentucky, Maryland and Florida, but I’m not sure that I’ll get to those schools just yet. I’d like to get there, but we’ll just have to see.
Don't get me wrong, McGary said nice things about his trips to Tobacco Road and is keeping things close to the vest, but I've incremented my "this is happening" meter another inch. If he's not sure about visiting his other three finalists and Sam Webb's gut feeling is that Michigan, Maryland, and Florida were the leaders… well, the process of deduction to get from those facts to a happy place isn't complicated.
Now it's just about holding off Duke and North Carolina. No problem, right?
Also in the small world of the SYF Players AAU team, UMHoops interviews Glenn Robinson III. Optimistic spin: since he was three months premature he's three months younger than he actually is and can be expected to improve more than a baby born at the proper time. That's the ticket.
Joe Paterno was only twelve. Michigan gameday, 1938:
That's not a joke, by the way. Joe Paterno is old enough to remember this.
Etc.: Brooks has a hot tip on OSU violations! This one is totally backed with legitimate sources and is not pulled directly out of a rectum that is already inside three other rectums! The Big 12 is "done." Iowa's roster is hurting due to attrition—they may be less intimidating than we thought it would be this year. Ohio State did virtually nothing on standard downs against Toledo. Can they move the ball against Miami?
I want one of these coaches in the fourth quarter and the other at all other times.
Yes, that one. Seriously.
When Michigan took a knee at the end of the first half on Saturday I was frustrated. One of my fears when Hoke was hired is that we were returning to not only the bits of the Carr era that were pretty good, like winning some games and recruiting like the dickens, but the ones that made you crazy, like punting from the 34 on fourth and four against Ohio State. Hoke stoked those a little bit with a press conference statement about liking touchdowns "too," or something. It was a statement that could be read either way; people mostly read it as Lloydball.
I was reminded of this today when I hit up my feeds and found that confirmed puntasaur Kirk Ferentz is getting heavy fire from the normally even-keeled guys at BHGP for a couple of milquetoast decisions he made in the midst of Iowa's triple OT loss to Iowa State. The first was tossing away his final possession from the 20 with 1:17 on the clock, two timeouts, and a kicker who'd already hit from 50. The second was not going for it on fourth and one in the final OT.
No one who remembers the 2005 Iowa game will be surprised by this. Trailing by three, Drew Tate was carving up a flimsy Michigan defense until Iowa got in field goal range, whereupon Ferentz clammed up and kicked for overtime. Iowa lost.
But even people who know about this can be pretty pissed off about it. Patrick Vint:
Not risking a late drive despite having virtually every circumstance in your favor might be MANBALL dogma, passed down from Schembechler to Carr to Tressel to Ferentz, and it might indeed be smart in aggregate to go hyperconservative in close games. The problem is that, while "the percentages" worked for Carr and Tressel, they quite clearly don't apply for Ferentz and his "unique" brand of endgame decisionmaking. On the contrary, Kirk Ferentz is an especially poor coach in close games, and his philosophy is counterproductive on both sides of the ball in late-game situations.
Michigan fans might have some words to say about Carr's effectiveness at playing the percentages—here we recycle the amazing stat that Carr was more likely to win a game if he entered the fourth quarter trailing by a score than winning by one. That's another drunken lament, though, and Vint brings Iowa's startlingly poor record in close games out like a hammer. It's bad.
The thing this reminded me of is that I hadn't mentioned Hoke's decision to go for the win at the end of the game. That seems like a slam dunk but I'm not sure Ferentz or Carr wouldn't have passed it up. It was risky enough to be called "baffling" and draw a comparison to Les Miles from Michigan Monday even though it's not at all baffling. But that's the point: there is a certain brand of football coach/observer that only thinks about the downside, and there's a brand that thinks about expected value. The former would have sent Brendan Gibbons out to kick for OT; the latter eats some grass and lets 'er rip.
In this situation it's a simple equation: is it more likely you score on a fade from the 16 (against Gary Gray) or that you turn the ball over or run out of time? A sack is not a consideration. The fade is the fade and is always thrown. So it's Gray INT or Roundtree TD? That's not close, and it's even further apart when you consider the chances of making the field goal (far from certain) or winning in overtime (less than 50-50). It's easy to kick and lose later. It's hard to man up and take the risk. Hoke took the risk and in doing so a chunk of the pejorative edge off MANBALL.
That's an encouraging data point for people worried that Hoke will bring back Carr's tendency to recruit an NFL All-Pro team on offense but let it idle in neutral because he's too afraid of what might go wrong to push in his chips. It's more than encouraging. It's trend-establishing. Hell, Hoke even said he'd think about going for for it with two seconds left:
Is the 30-second drill different from the two-minute drill? What was the decision like to go for the TD vs. settle for the field goal and then OT? “With eight seconds left? We had two timeouts, so we were at least going to give it a shot in the endzone. If Denard would have scrambled and got tackled, I think we had enough time to call a timeout. I may have gone for the touchdown and gone for the win [anyway]. Why not? I mean, you play to win. That was a good win.”
That is a filthy lie, but lie to me, baby. Back in the day when people were excited about Rodriguez I said he'd come up from nothing and wouldn't expect to win as long as nothing went wrong. That's something that applies to Hoke, who's endured crappy campaigns in the wildfire MAC and knows that when the opportunity to win presents itself, you'd better take it.
we'll try, but no promises
Michigan's got that return date with UConn in 2013 scheduled so there were never going to be any cool surprises when it came to Michigan's two TBA opponents that year. But they must be scheduled. According to Ohio.com, the first has been revealed: Akron on September 14th.
At the moment Akron Buckeyes are terrible. They lost to the Akron State Golden Bobcats, an instate rival, 42-0 and followed that up by losing to Temple, which is Temple, 41-3. Last year they were 1-11. They've got two years to stop being just unwatchably horrible, but at best they'll be a middling MAC team by then.
You may carry on not really caring about the details of the 2013 schedule.
HEY TOMMY REES
CHECK IT OUT I'M ALL GONNA BLITZ YO
LOL LOOK HOW CLOSE I AM TO THE LINE
WHY IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT YOU?
HEY MAN… I'M NOT BLITZING BE COOL
LOL JK YES I AM. HEY… THAT GUY IS OPEN
IF I WAS NOT BLITZING I MAY HAVE BEEN IN THIS AREA
TOMMY REES IS A JERK
I HOPE HE THROWS A BALL BACKWARDS FOR NO REASON LATER
This happened a lot. Michigan would line up, show something unsound, and Rees would check into something that would punish the defense. Blue Seoul highlighted another instance where Michigan tipped its blitz:
Also a result:
Michigan would line up in its okie package on plausible running downs like third and five, which caused Rees to check to runs up the middle. With no linebackers and Mike Martin dropping into coverage these went for about 20 yards.
Hell, even when good things happened this was going on. Look at this dude on Kovacs's interception:
That is a 65-yard touchdown waiting to happen if Rees's brain isn't going FLOYDFLOYDFLOYDFLOYDFLOYDFLOYD. The difference between a great call and an idiotic call is Rees not being a true sophomore in his fifth start with deep man love for Michael Floyd.
Seriously. Michigan's defensive RPS is going to have huge numbers because Mattison is doing all sorts of crazy stuff. This defense is the philosophical opposite of the bland 4-3 cover twos of Iowa, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.
They show a bunch of different fronts, blitz from everywhere, don't bother to cover guys in the seam when there are no safeties… it's a freak show out there. Sometimes it works. When it doesn't it's ugly. ND's last touchdown is especially galling because Michigan had to know ND would see this massive bust on the Kovacs INT and check into "free seam touchdown" when Michigan checked to cover zero. In this instance there was at least a guy vaguely in the area, but they've got a lot to work on.
Blitzing is not such a good idea when you wave your hand and say "sir: I am blitzing." In the first half Michigan tipped their blitzes a lot. Matters improved when Hawthorne came in—I watched him blitz without so much as taking those anxious shuffle steps, let alone going LOL I'M AT THE LINE—but it's disconcerting to watch the Michigan defense freak out on a QB handclap so consistently. They should know by now that the clap often leads to a check, because the offense did that a ton last year.
So… where is Michigan's check after ND checks? You can't check all the time because then ND's check will be "let's change their play without changing ours" but you have to check some of the time, particularly early.
Avery could have done better here. He's beaten to the inside too easily and can't tackle on the catch. He is not capable of dealing with Mike Floyd. Not many are, but predictions in this space of a bust-out year are not off to a good start. It's early yet.
Not that it would have mattered: Avery can run his slant for Floyd and Eifert is still hand-wavingly wide open. Dude could have gone for 150 against us if Tommy Rees's brain wasn't going FLOYDFLOYDFLOYDFLOYD.
Another reason for worry. This defense is unsound. Does Mattison want it to be unsound because it makes Kovacs pop up for turnovers or does he have little choice in the matter because he's starting a walk-on (Heininger—Kovacs has graduated), a couple freshmen, and only 2.5 non-walkon seniors (RVB, Martin—Woolfolk is the half)?
I don't know, but I'm betting it's the latter. I am glad they've got a week to practice not leaving guys wide open all day. They're busting coverages every other play.
This week on Weekday Warriors, Chris Wormley continues his assault on Canada, Ondre Pipkins dominates at nose tackle, Dymonte Thomas celebrates his impending Michigan commitment with a touchdown, and Shane Morris hurdles a guy.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell fell to 1-3 on the year with a 23-16 loss to Baylor.
This week: The Big Red host the awesomely-named Battle Ground Academy on Friday at 7.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Colerain's incredible 61-game home winning streak was snapped by St. Xavier, 17-14, on a game-winning field goal with under four minutes remaining. No stats were available for Bolden, but you can see him making a nice tackle on the right.
This week: The Cardinals will look to start a new home winning streak on Friday at 7:30 against Mason.
MI OL Ben Braden
Braden returned after sitting out last week with a concussion and helped Rockford run for 290 yards in their 42-30 victory over Grand Haven.
This week: Rockford (2-1) plays at home against West Ottawa on Friday at 7.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
No defensive stats are available, but Brown recorded an offensive touchdown in Brush's 31-27 loss to Kenston. Brush is now 0-3 on the season.
This week: The Arcs host Valley Forge on Friday at 7.
MI TE Devin Funchess
Funchess hauled in a 69-yard touchdown pass and finished with two catches for 77 yards in Harrison's 37-0 shutout of Stoney Creek. Harrison has been dominant in jumping out to a 3-0 record this season.
This week: The Hawks welcome Oxford to Farmington Hills on Friday at 7.
OH S Allen Gant
Despite a strong defensive effort from Gant, who recorded 12 tackles and forced a fumble, Southview fell to 2-1 with a 28-22 loss to Toledo Start.
This week: Southview hosts Napoleon on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin was the subject of this week's Creeper Van Original, recording (by my unofficial count) two tackles, three QB hurries, and a sack in Detroit Catholic Central's 48-0 evisceration of Inkster.
This week: The Shamrocks host Highland Park on Friday at 7.
UT FB Sione Houma
Houma's game was cut short early when he went down with an ankle injury after a 70-yard kickoff return in Highland's 56-41 loss to Lone Peak. He had one carry for three yards in the game.
This week: The Rams (3-1) take on Clearfield at home on Friday at 7.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Cass Tech notched their second straight blowout victory, beating Detroit Southeastern 51-0. Still tracking down stats from the game.
This week: The Technicians host Cody on Friday at 4.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
After missing the first two games with a knee injury, Kalis returned to the field and helped St. Edward to 232 yards on the ground in their 34-17 win over Cardinal Mooney.
This week: The Eagles play on Saturday night at 7 at home against Elder.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
La Costa Canyon dropped to 1-1 with a 28-14 loss to Poway. Included in the game recap, however, is this fantastic picture of Magnuson leading his team onto the field:
This week: The Mavericks travel to San Clemente on Friday at 7.
MI DE Mario Ojemudia
Ojemudia helped Harrison jump out to a 16-0 lead by blocking a punt in the end zone for a safety in the Hawks's 37-0 win over Stoney Creek. He also recorded five tackles and two sacks.
This week: The Hawks host Oxford on Friday at 7.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins
Pipkins recorded nine tackles in Park Hill's 13-7 defeat at the hands of Park Hill South. He was the subject of a Rivals AMP feature, which has several highlights from the game as well as post-game quotes from Ondre.
This week: The Trojans play Truman at home on Friday at 7.
MI CB Terry Richardson
No stats are available for Richardson from Cass Tech's 51-0 victory over Detroit Southeastern.
This week: The Technicians host Cody on Friday at 4.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer
Northmont dropped to 0-3 on the season with a 63-12 loss to Archbishop Moeller. No stats are available for Ringer.
This week: Northmont plays host to Sidney on Friday at 7:30.
MI LB James Ross
Orchard Lake St. Mary's crushed Highland Park 44-0, but no stats were made available for Ross.
This week: The Eaglets host U-D Jesuit on Friday at 7.
OH OL Caleb Stacey
Stacey helped Oak Hills improve to a 2-1 record and amass 221 rushing yards on just 13 carries in their 32-13 triumph over Loveland.
This week: The Highlanders play at home against Middletown at 7:30 on Friday.
IL CB Anthony Standifer
Standifer told me via Twitter that he recorded 15 tackles, a forced fumble, and a blocked punt in Crete-Monee's 37-13 win over Moline.
This week: Crete-Monee hosts Glenbard South on Friday at 7:30.
OH DE Tom Strobel
This week: The Cardinals (3-0) play at Mayfield on Friday at 7.
OH TE A.J. Williams
Williams didn't record a catch in Sycamore's ground heavy attack, but he helped pave the way blocking for a rushing attack that recorded nearly 400 yards in the Aviators's 33-20 defeat of Springfield. Sycamore is now 3-0 on the season.
This week: The Aviators look to stay undefeated at Fairfield on Friday night at 7:30.
OH S Jarrod Wilson
No stats to report for Wilson as Akron Buchtel fell to Solon, 28-2, dropping to 0-3 in 2011.
This week: The Griffins look to record their first win on the road against Garfield on Friday at 7.
OH DE Chris Wormley:
I was emailed two differed eyewitness accounts of Whitmer's 63-0 win over Brantford (Ontario) Collegiate, the second consecutive blowout of a Canadian squad by the Panthers. First comes this video highlight from reader Matthew, who added, "Wormley played almost the whole first half and did nothing much of note except in the second clip on this video he appeared to have gotten at least a half sack and perhaps a forced fumble. Brantford realized quite early the folly of attempting to pass and basically ran the ball up the middle for the rest of the first half even on third and long.":
Also pitching in with a report was Mason Lowry, Whitmer's play-by-play man on WRSCSports.com:
If you'd still like a little Wormley write-up, I'll start with this week. Considering the opponent, I'm happy to report that there's very little to report. This was a Baby Seal U game in every respect (Baby Seal Prep, perhaps?); it was a 63-0 final with a running clock being employed for the entire second half, and Whitmer's final offensive possession of the game involved throwing a 115-tailback out there, having him run down the 20, and then kneeling for four downs. Chris looked fine for the couple of series that he did play. He did get to the quarterback a couple of times on the first couple of series, including one particularly comical occasion in which the entire defensive line/linebacking corps got into the backfield untouched. BCI's offensive line was physically massive, but they didn't carry, shall we say, "good weight," and their movement was, shall we say, "nonexistent."
Next week should be more interesting. Toledo St. Francis is always tough, and although they're 1-2 at this point, they've lost to Allen Gant's Sylvania Southview and Birmingham Brother Rice. They've got a pretty good running back, too, which is something Whitmer hasn't seen yet this season.
One other thing: I have seen some discrepancy over Chris' height. I'm a legit 6'3, and in bare feet and face-to-face, he's three or four inches taller than I am. The 6'7 he's listed at in the program is about right.
Thanks to Matthew and Mason for pitching in, and it will be nice to hear some reports of Wormley when he's playing against a real opponent.
This week: The Panthers go to St. Francis De Sales at 7 on Friday.
KY S Jeremy Clark
No stats available for Clark as North Hopkins blew out Hopkinsville, 62-7.
This week: The Maroons (3-1) host Union County on Friday at 7.
MI QB Shane Morris
Morris completed 7-of-20 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns to lead De La Salle to a 31-28 victory over Fordson. Some brief highlights are available from the game, including Morris icing the game by hurdling a defender to get a late first down:
I wonder if Brady Hoke considers that epically MANBALL or not? It certainly looked cool.
This week: The Pilots travel to Brother Rice for a rare Sunday afternoon game at 2:30.
OH RB/S Dymonte Thomas
Thomas scored on a four-yard touchdown run to help Marlington defeat Poland, 41-23. A first-hand report was provided by Jerry Beeson on the Duane Long Report, though it should be noted that he started off the article with some rather bitter comments about Thomas committing to Michigan, so grains of salt and all that:
Now to the newest north-bound talent in the state of Ohio; Dymonte Thomas. He is just a great looking athlete. He's long and lean and looks like a dream for a collegiate strength coach. He is so explosive out of his breaks with the ball in his hands. Most, however, like him best on defense as a safety. I was of that opinion going in and haven't changed having seen him in person. Getting in and out of breaks is huge for a safety and he has the tools. Playing outside linebacker right now, Marlington dropped him into coverage for the majority of the first half. He was taking good angles and being an athlete covering ground quickly. This shows me he has taken to his coaching well. He failed to get enough depth on several occasions with nothing in front of him and the ball went deep over his head. This shows me he's still a step back on natural understanding and instincts. In the run game he seemed a step behind on recognition and wasn't making an impact until they started bringing him off the edge in run blitzes later in the game. Before Friday I was arguing that Warren Harding's Jalyn Powell is closer to Thomas than the experts might think. After seeing them both in person, I feel that it is Thomas that is just behind Powell.
More on that in this week's Thursday Recruitin'.
This week: The Dukes play at Louisville on Thursday night at 7.
[Ed: Bump. I am not entirely sure I want to ride again. A nice, relaxing weekend against Eastern sounds pretty good right about now.]
I wanna ride again!
Words can't describe it
So here's a graph:
This is a graph of what I thought our chances of winning were throughout the game. That really erratic part at the end is the reason why my neighbors knew I was watching a sporting event.
I don't really know what to say that hasn't already been said, and I don't know where to start. All I know is that it was amazing, and horrifying, and awesome, and I wish I had been there. So I guess I'll just start at the beginning.
Buckle in kids, this is going to be a long ride (warning some NSFW language).
Maybe? I don't know. Home field, under the lights, Brady Hoke's Magical Golden Poop. So what if they got higher rated recruits and have had an extra year of experience in that system. We got Denard and Mattison, so the defense CAN'T POSSIBLY be as bad as last year. With so many unknowns, it might as well be a coin toss, but vegas favored ND. Vegas is almost always wrong in this series.
Three and out on the opening drive, no reason to panic yet.
Desmond Morgan didn't look very good early. He started the game with 2 missed tackles in 2 plays
[Ed-M: We're doing more breaks so you don't have to scroll so much. Much more after the jump]
News bullets and other important items:
- Eastern Michigan is 2-0 and is averaging 331 yards rushing, which is scary to Hoke. Fear level now up to 2.
- Fitz Toussaint (shoulder) will likely return this week.
- Brandon Herron (unknown), and Cam Gordon (back) are questionable. Will need good week in practice to return.
- Woolfolk had a bit of a nose injury, but re: his ankle -- "He's fine." Period.
- Marell Evans still working on eligibility. Currently operating as scout team linebacker.
- Jake Ryan playing with hand down primarily in nickel package.
- Need to see more from Will Campbell in practice for more playing time.
- Odoms working his way back into rotation.
- No student-body tryouts until January.
- No. 21 jersey will likely go to wide receivers in the future. Unknown whether Raymon Taylor is wearing the Desmond Howard patch.
Press Conference (filmed)
"Does that make sense? It does to me ..."
Opening remarks: “You guys ready? Thanks for coming.
“Saturday was obviously very exciting in a lot of ways. The crowd, the passion, how both teams played 60 minutes of football. It was a neat environment, fun, all those things. Obviously a record crowd to see a college football game, and it was good to have the outcome the way it did. It was hard fought, not a perfect game. When you look at it offensively and defensively, things that we need to get a lot better at before we’re going to be any kind of a football team -- we need to focus in on those things, and as a team, we’ve gotta do a good job of coaching, number one, and teaching, and then playing. Our expectations are high, and we won’t get that way if we don’t possess the ball offensively to help the defense, and if we don’t do a better job in third-down conversions from a defensive standpoint.”
What did you see from Brandin Hawthorne and Will Campbell? “I thought Brandin got in there and did a nice job and made some plays. I think it was good to see him be productive in that role. Part of it [was] he did a nice job reacting and seeing the ball and focusing in on keys and finishing plays. And that was good to see from him. He had been banged up about the last week of camp. He practiced, but he had an ankle problem and still does to some degree, but it was good to see him play full speed.”
Overcoming adversity, was it especially hard trying to overcome a 24-7 deficit or trying to score with 30 seconds left? “Probably both. Our team stayed together. At halftime, we went in, and we just talk about -- asked a pretty simple question, ‘Have we played our best football?’ … ‘Are we playing our best football?’ and ‘Are we coaching our best football?’ and it was a unanimous ‘No.’
“Al and the offensive staff did a good job in some adjusting that they did. You’ve got to get Notre Dame a lot of credit. They’re a pretty good football team. Their biggest Achilles heel is they’ve turned the ball over, and you can’t do that. I’m not coaching them, but I’m sure Brian is sick about that. I thought the guys complement each other as a team, and they stayed together.”
What did you say to the team yesterday to get them to move past Notre Dame? “We were going to spend Sunday talking about the things that we did [well] and didn’t do [well]. Eastern -- they’re 2-0. They’re a confident team. I think Ron’s done a nice job. They’re averaging 331 yards per game rushing the football. That’s pretty impressive -- I don’t care who you’re playing. I think you’ve got a staff over there of guys -- with Mike [Hart] and Kurt Anderson, Steve Morrison, who are all products of this program as players -- that understand about coaching hard and doing those things, and you know just from being around those guys that’s how they coach their kids. And you can tell, with Ron’s influence as a defensive coach and defensive minded guy and an aggressive personality guy -- that’s the way they’re playing football. They’re impressive. They’ve got 10 sacks in two games. They’re doing a lot of good things.”
Did Denard have a rough game, great game, or little of both? “Probably a little of both. Obviously he made some plays when we needed to have some plays made, which a guy of his capability and caliber can do, but we also needed to make better decisions at times. He was the first one to come off the field after one [bad play] and say, ‘My footwork was bad.’ So that’s good to see. The whole thing is a process to some degree, and we’re learning everyday.”
What is Fitz Toussaint’s status, and are there concerns about repeated injuries to him? “I don’t know much of his history. I think he’ll be okay. He just bumped up his shoulder a bit against Western. Didn’t see as much as we’d like to for him to be ready for the Notre Dame game.”
You’re blitzing a lot. Are you concerned that it’s taking the linebackers out of the running game? The middle of field did look pretty open. “Well … honestly it shouldn’t have been. It’s open for a second, and then we’ve got to execute a little better at closing it off. You can get hurt, no question. If they want to take that gamble depending on who they are, depending on down and distance, they can check into a run, and sometimes you want them to. But you got to execute the defense when you want them to.
“Does that make sense? It does to me …”
Do you need to blitz more based on pressure (or lack thereof) from the front four? “I think yes, we have had to be more aggressive. At the same time, you’ve got to look at your match-ups pretty hard, and what you want to do with your guys in the back end, and how you feel about that.”
What was postgame like for you? “I have a lot of family in the Midwest, believe me. We had 35 or 40 people at our house. Nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters, and in-laws -- the whole deal. Everybody found a place on the floor and went to bed, but it was late. 3:30 maybe by the time you say hello and talk to everybody and be as gracious as I can be.”
Other health updates? Anybody definitely out for Saturday? “We’re pretty healthy. We’ve got some nicks and those kind of things, but I’m trying to think if, uh … Cam is gonna see what it feels like tomorrow. He feels better. Brandon Herron felt better but we’ll see what he’s like. I think Fitz is going to be fine. I don’t think we’re in too bad of shape.”
When you were down 17 points, was the offensive play-calling based more on Borges’ offense or 2010-Denard’s offense? “One of the key plays in the game was McColgan’s catch. Coming off the play-action, and we didn’t run a whole lot of play-action with I-backs and all that. A lot of the stuff was just being basic third-down offensive stuff and being in the gun anyway on third downs. It was a good mix, I would say.”
How much of last couple drives was within framework of offense, and how much of it was Denard making rainbows? “The rush lanes kind of went like this. And he did what he’s coached to do. Step up, step up in there, and keep pushing the pocket up when you feel it on the perimeter. It was pretty open. They were spying at times – one of the linebackers – but in that situation, they were playing pretty far off, so it bought time for Gallon. It really bought time for the sail routes, the cross, to take and suck their secondary that way, and Gallon was there by himself.”
Are you still trying to identify playmakers on defense? “I think we still are. Practice is one thing. Game time stuff is a little different. I think who plays with the lights on … we’ll see. It was good to give Will [Campbell] some snaps against good competition. Like I said, they’re a good football team, they’ve got good personnel. Right now the difference for them probably is turnover margin.”
What’s going on with Brandon Herron? “He’s got a little bit of a leg problem.”
Linebacker rotation/competition … how many linebackers are you comfortable with? “I think J.B. [Fitzgerald], all those guys, we feel pretty comfortable. I think it’s who you identify as taking most of the snaps. You work through. Kenny is pretty solid in what he does. J.B. has an opportunity to get in there and rest Kenny a little bit, which is important in the fourth quarter. There will be a rotation, and it really depends some on what package we’re in, if we’re playing out of our base front, or if we’re in our dimes and nickels.”
How would you assess D-line play? Are there things you see in practice that aren’t translating onto the field? “We’re not near to the expectations that we have. I think the kids feel the same way at that position. I think there are things that Ryan Van Bergen has done at times that are really well. I don’t want to get specific, but I think we have to feel those guys. We need to get a little big more pressure with four guys rushing the quarterback, so you don’t put J.T. or Courtney Avery out there on an island. I think we’re a work in progress in a lot of degrees. Some of it is because it’s a little different schematically, and how you attack the line of scrimmage, take on blocks, and get off blocks. We would think we’d be further along.”
Talk about efficiency of red-zone offense (Michigan was 5/5). “I think we’ve got a pretty good package down there, and the kids are executing. I don’t think it’s anything more than that. Certain teams, defensively, always are going to have certain teams they like in the red zone, and I think the kids have been executing what the plan has been.”
(we're bringing back the jump. so ... more after the jump!)
We have successfully done this two straight weeks. This one comes in at just under an hour. Feed may not be working quite yet, unfortunately.
That. We mumble for a bit about whatever that was and how much sleep we have not acquired.
Offense bitchin'! We complain about the general unsustainability of what worked on offense, praise Junior Hemingway, wonder why Denard can't throw straight no more.
Defense analyzin'! We had no expectations for the defense; we talk about it anyway.
Ace is flagged for inappropriate touching. We also talk about what it was like on the field at the end there and if I actually have to pay him to do this job. Survey says: probably not.
Big Ten Previewin'. There are a half-dozen interesting games in the league this weekend, if you count the vague upset possibility lurking in Temple-PSU, which we do. Jamiemac returns to preview the slate. Toledo-OSU is also batted about for fun, and some sighing about the Rocket QB not keeping the ball on that one zone read.
There is not one word about Eastern Michigan.
World's most bizarre Notre Dame alumn Ted Leo is the featured musical guest.
The usual links:
- Helpful iTunes subscribe link
- General podcast feed link
- Direct download link
- What's with the theme music?
Next week: more!