good luck with that
Denard Robinson and Vincent Smith
Why was the passing game better today? Denard: “We just clicked. We worked on it in practice, and we just had to put it forward in games, and that’s what we did today.”
When the last time you had a rushing, receiving, and passing TD in the same game. Also, can you talk about the game plan that utilized you in a unique way? Smith: “I was just put in the right place at the right time. The coaches know what I’m capable of. What I have to do for the team to help them out.” Was it fun? “Real fun. And the last time I threw a pass was in high school, but not like three [TD’s] in one game.”
When did the 2-QB thingy arise? Denard: “We’ve been doing that in practice. We’ve been working on it. Coach said he’d throw it at us, and just be ready. And he called it, so we were ready.” Were you expecting it that early? “Oh yeah.”
That was an unorthodox offense today. Is that exciting for you? Denard: “Oh yeah … Just going out and having fun with my teammates.”
Denard, how comfortable did you feel in the passing game? You looked more comfortable. Denard: “Oh yeah. I mean, we’ve been practicing getting it down with the receivers, and we were just on the same page.” How much you looking forward to going on the road? “Both of us are looking forward to that.” Smith: “I mean it’s just another football game, and that’s what we love to do. We just love to come out to compete, and it’s another night game.”
You guys have been putting up a lot of points. How does the team feel about this new offense? Denard: “We’re confident. I mean, we’ve been playing [well], and we trust Coach Al to give us the right play and make things happen, because we have some playmakers.”
Are there other things we haven’t seen that you might show us? Denard: “We can’t tell them that …” Smith: “Not that I know of.”
(more after the jump)
Misdirection plays were a big part of offense. Will we see more? “Maybe. It just is kind of the offensive package. It’s kind of, when you have a quarterback that threatens people because of his ability to run, that’s part of it. That stuff is like the old counter play, which you don’t see a whole lot of people running anymore. It’s a lot of traction one way and then going back the other way.”
Talk about Denard’s passing. Is that more like what you see in practice? “Yeah. The sky’s never going to fall. We’re going to make it through. He throws the ball well, and we like how he throws the ball. [He] set his feet well and we ran good routes and completed some balls.”
Talk about the intensity of tackling and sacks. “I think Jerry Montgomery has done a tremendous job with our front, and the pride that a guy like Van Bergen or Martin have in how they play is a big part of it. I think this whole thing is a process what the kids are going through and how you do things. I think it’s just one of the things that we emphasize and they really did a nice job on some of those things. As far as tackling goes, if you fit the defense right, and wherever the support is or the cutback player -- all those different intangibles you have to have on defense -- I think you tackle better.”
Talk about Denard/Devin formation. What kinds of problems can that create for defense? “They’re both pretty talented. I think who’s back there in the backfield with them have some talents. It’s just something that Al has had for a while and something that we thought would be a good thing to do.”
Talk about Vincent Smith. “He does everything you want him to do, when you look at him as a football player and how he prepares and his toughness. All those things that -- Vince is a guy that you can count on. If he makes a mistake or doesn’t do something as well, it’s not because of lack of effort or lack of toughness. He’s done a good job for us.”
How pleased are you at the 58-0 effort to start your Big Ten career? “It has nothing to do with my career. It really has to do with these kids and that jug, and keeping that jug in Ann Arbor. And us going out to play better football every time we take the field whether it’s tomorrow when we practice or if it’s on game day. Believe me we have a lot of mistakes from a personnel standpoint. We take a daggone penalty, and that’s my fault. We didn’t have a guy out there on the punt team. You can’t do that and win championships, and that’s my fault.”
Why did you choose this game to unleash all this offensive creativity? “You work on it during fall camp, you put it to bed for a little bit, but you work on it so the kids have a knowledge of it so when you bring it back out, it’s just something we thought was a good time to bring out.”
What was your reaction when Borges brought the 2-QB package, and is this the most complete game you have played this season? “Well Al and I have talked about that package in March? April? And believe me, Al Borges is very, very creative. So that’s not just that package. I’m sure his creativity will show up again. We played probably our best game to this point, but the schedule is -- we’re going away. We’re going on the road. We haven’t been on the road. They don’t know how we like to travel. And I say we as a staff. They have an idea, but there’s a lot of unknowns out there, and there’s a lot that we have to get better.”
Did you practice any jug security so you wouldn’t drop it, and does a game where everybody gets to play give you a boost in practice the next week? “I’ll answer the second question first. No question the morale of your football team -- those other guys, and I’ll use an example: Richard Ash, I don’t know how many plays he got, maybe four or five. But he goes down there on that look team and does a tremendous job down there and has the ability to come out there and play some. I would think he would feel pretty good about that. So I think that’s always important. You get guys live reps in games.
“Jug security is always at a premium.”
(more after the jump)
How did the game plan defensively change for you after you learned Marqueis Gray wasn’t going to play? Also, how did your defensive front do against Shortell? “We really didn’t change it at all. We do a lot of things by personnel groups, what personnel groups they have in. So all the calls were based on those groups. So they would have had the same calls if Marqueis would have been in there. So there was no change at all.”
Is the confidence level of players high enough where they expect to win a Big Ten championship? “I hope so.”
Are you eager to get this Michigan team out on the road, and will it give you and your staff a better indication of where they’re at? “We like playing at home. Now if Dave can do a 10-game home schedule, it would be wonderful. It’s pretty convenient. I’m kind of interested in seeing how we react. I really am. To see what we’re made of -- see our mentality, our mental toughness, see if we’re business-like in how we go about the work that we have to do, and the preparation and all those things.”
The defensive line wasn’t where you wanted it to be. Talk about progression? “I think they were disruptive. That’s what I like and that’s what you have to do if you’re a guy who plays up front. As you look at the schedule and you look at teams you’re going to play, I think there’s some offensive lines in this league that are pretty stout. We’ve got to make sure that we’re making our gains and our progression on a daily basis with great urgency and intensity.”
Three things: Troy Woolfolk looked like he was limping. What did Denard have done to his arm? How did Schofield play? “I didn’t notice Troy limping, so that’s new to me. Denard had a boo-boo. Schofield I imagine did okay in there. I can’t tell you for sure because of not [having watched] the film yet.”
Helmet numbers? “That was my decision, and we will have those numbers on there throughout the rest of the season when we get into Big Ten play because we want to honor the guys who wore those numbers before, and the 42 championship teams. And the guys who have represented Michigan. It’s important to us.”
McColgan was out. “He got banged up a little bit.” Is it serious? “Week to week, day to day.”
Did you sense more physicality up front? Also, how did Fitz Toussaint run? “I think, up front, you try and gauge yourself. Molk’s played a lot of football, and I kind of, being a defensive line coach, I like watching other defensive lines and how they play and how we block them. I thought there was football being played at the point of attack. And … why are you laughing at that? It was pretty obvious football was being played. But you could hear it. You could feel it and sense it. When you look at your line and you look at, if the back has to start making his decision and his cuts further back from the line of scrimmage, then you’re not doing a good job. And you could see when Shaw and Fitz and those guys were coming, they got more downhill, pressed the line of scrimmage more, and that tells you those guys were working hard. Fitz, I thought he ran well. He’s a tough little burger who did a nice job.” [ed-M: I doublechecked the video: he definitely said 'burger.']
Re: Two-QB formation. How much does that help that other teams have to prepare for it? Also, what’s that called? “Uh, you know, two quarterbacks, whatever. It doesn’t matter what it’s called. It really is, yeah. People have to prepare.”
Talk about your secondary and how guys like Avery and Countess are playing. “Well, you know. Courtney and Blake, and there’s Raymon Taylor, [who] is going to be a good football player also. Our young guys have done a good job. It starts in my opinion with Jordan Kovacs and his leadership and his directing traffic out there. I think they have a lot of confidence in each other. I think there’s a chemistry. I think J.T. has done a nice job. When he focuses in, he’s pretty doggone good. I think there’s number one, there’s some competition, because there’s a lot of guys in that room that all want to play.”
Talk about Thomas Rawls? “It was good to get Thomas some carries. He’s a freshman that’s learning the game of football at the Division I level. I think he’s got some skill sets that are pretty good. I think you saw some of that today. So it was good to see him out there.”
Gibbons was 3/3. “Someone has said that he’s kicked really good during fall camp. Ahem. Someone did. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him, and hopefully that injects even more confidence into him.”
Denard was 11/11 before his first incompletion. He’s a pretty confident guy, but how important is it to re-establish that confidence that he can be a succesful passer? “Yeah, because all he hears is he’s not. Not from us, but other people. (Ed: Looking at you, buddy.) I think getting off to a good start helps us with the run game so much. People want to put nine guys, and they played a lot of quarters, and they were doing a lot of good stuff with their safeties depending on where the back was. And then they changed during halftime, which is good coaching. Bill Miller’s a good defensive football coach. It was good, and being able to throw the ball was a big part to our offense.
Can you be successful in the Big Ten relying on Denard to get most of your yards? “I don’t think so. You become too one-dimensional. People are creative. We’re going to play a lot of good coaches and some teams with very good personnel. When good coaches give good personnel the game plan and scheme, they can be a problem. The ability for our running backs to do a nice job running with the football and the ability to do a nice job in the passing game is a big part of it.”
As a defensive coach, you must love a shutout. “Right.”What did you like specifically, and what can you improve on? “Yeah. They broke two runs that got outside that shouldn’t have. Then they fumbled. We got fortunate at the end [when] They fumbled the ball -- and the daggone end doesn’t squeeze when the tackle blocked … Just simple. Basic. Football. Stuff. That we didn’t do. As many times as we’ve done drills and as many times -- that’s unacceptable, because that’s a discipline that you have to have.”
Greg Mattison said during the halftime radio show, “An average defense comes out and goes downhill during the second half.” Were you concerned about a letdown during the second half? “I think we communicate with them pretty well. I think Greg and his staff -- I think we challenge them. This was a first step to what the goal of this football program is and has been, and that’s a Big Ten championship. You can’t go out there in the second half and slop around and not tackle well and not have an urgency and not have an intensity. That doesn’t get you any better. You go backwards, and I’m not a believer in going backwards.”
So here's a still from Friday's walkthrough video:
Watch the thing in full if you need to assure yourself that this is not a hallucination and is actually a bandage on his elbow.
What is it? Denard had a procedure earlier this week for an abscess on said elbow. The bandage is the after-effect. An abscess is an irritating, fairly quick-healing thing that may have affected his accuracy earlier in the year. It won't cause him to miss any time but may be a reason the passing game has been minimized so far. If he suddenly gets a lot more accurate in three weeks that might be why.
What was up with Roh. Mike Rothstein has more details on Craig Roh's fall camp malady:
Before Michigan's fall camp started, Craig Roh went back to Arizona and spent time with his family. His brothers had mononucleosis over the summer, but Craig returned to Michigan feeling fine.
Three days into camp that changed. He was tired. By the end of the day, he ended up in bed with the chills.
Was it possible? Could he have contracted it, too?
He didn't know. What he did know, his father, Fred, said, is he was in bed and uncomfortably sick. The next day, Craig woke up with fever of 102 degrees. He went to the doctor searching for answers, and received antibiotics. Doctors had diagnosed him not with mono but a respiratory infection.
He skipped one day of practice and began to feel a little better. Cleared by doctors, even though his energy level wasn't at 100 percent, Roh returned to practice of his own volition. The sickness, though, had done its damage.
Coaches started dogging him, Roh got down on himself when he didn't play that well the first couple games, but he had his epiphany and now he's picked it back up. Hopefully we see him hit the level of performance everyone was projecting before the season.
Hatchdate. Austin Hatch is a few days away from returning home:
Per Caterbury HS head coach (and close friend) Dan Kline… Michigan recruit Austin Hatch will come home Oct. 9. Kline said rehab went amazing.
FCOA costs. The Bylaw Blog breaks down the full cost for full cost of attendance scholarships:
Q: How much would it cost?
Because the proposal covers all sports, cost depends on how many sports an institution sponsors. Stanford’s associate AD of business strategy and revenue enhancement estimated it would cost the school $750,000. Stanford runs the largest athletic department in the country, so that number might be considered to be something of a maximum.
To figure out a rough estimate of cost, we need to figure out the average athletic department. The NCAA’s membership report has the average number of men’s and women’s sports sponsored by FBS, FCS, and non-football institutions. The NCAA’s sport sponsorship and participation report lists which sports are sponsored by the most institutions. So combining the two, we can figure out an “average” athletic department and estimate the costs based on scholarship limits. And those costs are:
- FBS: $504,400
- FCS: $436,400
- Non-Football: $282,400
Obvious in those figures is the effect of football. An FBS football team can expect an increased scholarship bill of up to $170,000 while an FCS program should set aside $126,000. The range for athletic departments that fully fund all their teams would probably be somewhere between $200,000 and $750,000.
Good by me; any schools sponsoring sports can hack a small amount out of administrative and coaching salaries to cover that. And if you can't, the rule is conference-based. Not everyone will have to adopt it. Those that do will have to do it for all athletes.
This won't have much of an impact for Michigan's bottom line or recruiting prospects in major sports since everyone they're recruiting against will immediately adopt the FCOA proposal. It will help a bit in hockey, especially if schools in the NCHC can't make that decision without making it for their entire athletic department. Is the MAC going FCOA? What about whatever conferences North Dakota and UMD are in?
BONUS: The Bylaw Blog shares my skepticism that the four-year scholarship proposal is anything more than window dressing unless the same restrictions on revoking scholarships mid-year are applied for the period.
Break even? I what aah? The Mathlete's numbers on the Hoke fourth and two:
Brian is in love with it, but how much was it worth? Punt from 48 gets to the 17. Team down 14 with the ball around the 17 with 2-3 minutes left in the first half win about 8.0% of the time. A successful conversion gives Michigan a 93.2% chance of victory where a failed attempt drops your chances to 88.2%. To break even, Michigan would need to have a confidence that they had about a 75% chance of conversion. National average on 3rd and 2 is about 58.5%. Michigan has been a top 25 level 3rd and short team so the decision was probably about a break even if you account for Michigan’s offense.
This case is a bit closer than I expected, but if you believe our offense was bound to score, which it obviously did, a 21 point half time lead is good for a 97.1% chance of victory. Even if Michigan can get a field goal and run out the clock, an average conversion rate makes the decision break even
If this seems like a weird result given the other Mathlete chart…
…it is an effect of being up 14-0. If the score was tied the win percentage effect would be a landslide in favor of going for it. If you're measuring by projected margin in the final score it's a large +EV decision, but if all you care about is having one more point than the other team it's about break-even for average teams going up against each other. At the time it seemed like the defense could fall apart at any time, which still swings the decision to an easy go-for-it to me.
You need to get another MBA. Angelique Chengelis put up a story on In The Big House, which everyone hates, that included this quote from our new Chief Marketing Officer:
"It's gaining traction," Lochmann said. "We know there are people who love it and some people who hate it, but our core customers — the players — they want to hear it."
This sentence displays a lack of knowledge about public relations, marketing, economics, taste, and common sense. The "core customers" are your customers, who hate In The Big House.
Meanwhile, the Defilement is hinted at further in a caption:
“We’d love to get into the Big House and play it,” says Pop Evil lead vocalist Leigh Kakaty, who grew up in Grand Rapids.
Let's murder our brand for WWE entrance music.
Yay. This debacle will go down as Dave Brandon's halo.
More Trouba. Local hockey expert Jim Lahey on Michigan's newest commit:
Trouba is a total package defenceman with elite ability. Looked like a man among boys in AAA, and that pretty much continues in the USHL. Has excellent size, will probably grow an inch or so and end up somewhere in the range of 6'2 215lbs as a pro.
Trouba makes a clean, smart first pass out of his zone and plays with perfect position on breakouts. Stays calm, never panics, and consistently loses the forechecker completely behind the net to create odd man rushes. This won't happen at the next level as often, but he shows the poise needed to create good breakouts at the next level.
Takes care of his own end, does not allow himself to get pushed around in front of or behind the net. Superb zone awareness.
Jacob Trouba already has four assists on the young season. The recent University of Michigan commit is going to do very well against USHL competition thanks to his tremendous strength and toughness. The big test will come against the college teams where there’s going to be less time and space, forcing Trouba to make quicker decisions. The first major test for Trouba and his teammates comes right away as the U18s will take on Trouba’s future school Monday at Yost. The fellas from The Pipeline Show caught up with Trouba about his recent college commitment and the way he plays.
Another note on Trouba: TPS brought up that some have compared Trouba to former NTDP defenseman and current Anaheim Duck Cam Fowler. If you know me, you know I hate comparison scouting reports. While it may give people a basic picture of what a player might play like, they are often taken as gospel by those that read it and that’s pretty unfair to the prospect.
Trouba and Fowler are similar in these ways: They are American, played at the NTDP, are good offensive defensemen. That’s it. Trouba plays with an edge and brings an important physical element to his game. He has good offensive instincts and a powerful shot. Fowler is a heady defenseman that makes plays with his skills, defends with good positioning and is a pure puck mover. I’ve seen both play multiple times and I just don’t get the comparison. Jacob Trouba plays like Jacob Trouba. /dismount soap box.
Is it just me or does Michigan have a much better track record of reeling in elite, top-ten-pick defensemen than forwards? Michigan's last top ten pick at forward was Eric Nystrom, and even at the time people thought that was a huge reach. Trouba, JMFJ, and Mike Komisarek were all top ten picks.
Etc.: Hockey exhibition preview from somewhere in Canada mostly notable for naming the opponent the "UOIT Ridgebacks." We have declared Minesota a "Maize Out." RIP Maize Outs. Holdin' the Rope takes stock a third of the way through the season.
[Ed: you know what? I'm just going to bump this instead of linking it again.]
[Quick JCB plug: We’ve got you covered on all the weekend action, including a great preview on the stellar prime time schedule tomorrow night from SteveY and a breakdown of the Evil Empire vs Little Brother match tomorrow afternoon. More to come later today including a deeper look at the Nebraska-Wisconsin showdown and, of course, my weekend card of picks, so bookmark us already!]
October is hours away. And so is the start of the 2011 Big 10 conference season. Out of conference games are more or less over and we're about to begin an historic Big 10 season, one with Nebraska in it, two divisional races and a winner-take-all championship in, of all months, December. This will be season to remember, but will Michigan be a factor? The numbers from September are in, and the early math points to the Wolverine's showdown with Nebraska in November being for the division title.
But we've all been here before with Michigan looking good on the verge on the conference campaign only to see the September numbers wither with the changing seasons. I have a feeling this year will be different, but that doesn't mean the Wolverines will run the table or boss their division. My prediction for the division has always been its pretty mediocre and that we'll see three teams tied atop at 5-3. Michigan has as good a chance as anyone to hit that 5-3 mark. My other prediction was if they beat ND, they would be one game better through ten games than a year ago, so that's 8-2 heading into the nasty double date at the end of November with the Huskers and Ohio State coming to town.
There are plenty of storylines to be had in tomorrow's league opener for Michigan against Minnesota. The Little Brown Jug is on the line, fer gawd's sake!! We get another data point in the evolution of the new offense. How does Minnesota look with the whole Jerry Kill situation? Can these young, new playmakers on the Michigan defense continue their progression. And, of course, in my world, can Michigan cover the point spread. Generally speaking, I don't consider covering the line or not a true storyline for the masses. But in Michigan's case this season, I do. Don't forget, the Wolverines didn't cover a single point spread in Big 10 play a year ago. That's only the fifth time in the last decade that any FBS school didn't cover against the closing game in all their league games.
The paranoid ninny in me is naturally not happy that Michigan is the biggest chalk on the Big 10 board in the wake of last year's 0-8 ATS mark and 4-20 ATS mark the last three years against the Big 10. Obviously part of that is Minnesota's serious sucktitude so far this season. But some of it is indeed a changing mindset towards Michigan within the gambling community. Back in the summer, not only was nobody betting on Michigan, but everybody and their pet cats was betting against the Maize and Blue. However, a month into the season, Michigan has showcased some defensive competency, they still have Denard Robinson and, well, the rest of the Big 10 just looks terrible. The result? A major shifting of the odds in favor of Michigan. The Wolverines used to be 8th in line on the board with Big 10 Championship odds, checking in at +1600. But with the shifting Big 10 odds, today they are third in line at +800, behind Wisco and Nebraska. And when books re-released lines for future games on Monday, Michigan, which had been an underdog in almost every Big 10 game available, is now the favorite in almost all those games.
[ed: specifics after the jump. Thanks for being terrible, Big Ten.]
|WHAT||Michigan vs Minnesota|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||Noon EDT, October 1st 2011|
|THE LINE||Michigan –20|
|WEATHER||mid-40s, cloudy, 20% chance of rain|
Run Offense vs. Minnesota
Despite being a raging tire fire of a team, Minnesota's run defense has been somewhat solid so far. Solid against teams that can't run worth a lick, but you've got to start somewhere. USC had three "team" carries for –34 yards—punts winged over someone's head?—that distorted their numbers but still only managed 4.0 YPC on 25 carries. That is downright respectable. Miami (Not That Miami) was also shut down.
Raincloud stickers apply for the Gophers' games against New Mexico State, who managed to get their main back over 100 yards at 4.9 YPC, and North Dakota State, who put up 141 yards on 27 carries. The
Lobos Aggies went out the next week and put up 16 yards on UTEP. So… yeah.
While the initial returns are encouraging—at least relative to Minnesota expectations—the Gophers were 98th in rushing defense last year, giving up a whopping 5.3 YPC. They basically made their opponents look like they all had Michigan's rushing offense. The Gophers do return the vast bulk of their front seven and can expect to improve. Enough to hold Michigan under control? Probably not.
Michigan enters the game in the top ten in rushing offense despite [TEDIOUS THOUSAND WORD ESSAY ON THE MORAL FAILINGS OF RUNNING POWER FROM THE I-FORM EXCISED] thanks to Denard Robinson being Denard Robinson and a couple of running backs emerging from the pile of muck. Fitzgerald Toussaint can make yards with his shimmy…
…and Vincent Smith blocks and catches screens like a champ and can even make some yards of his own from time to time. While neither is an All-American, Michigan's tailback situation is much better than it was a year ago.
It's hard to see anything other than an elite defense shutting the Michigan ground game down as long as Denard's around. In this game of immoveable object versus irresistible force, the object projects to be pretty moveable.
Key Matchup: The offensive line using POWER. A main issue with Michigan's shift to a power-based power system for power running is the offensive linemen being ill-suited to picking up opponents and placing them downfield. They did this with aplomb against a very small defense; doing it against a much larger—though probably not a lot better—opponent would bode well for the meat of the Big Ten schedule.
Pass Offense vs. San Diego State
If Denard Robinson can throw the ball to the guys he might have one of those games where you get more than 100 yards passing. Ace keeps battering this and it's worth battering:
Mentally strikethrough Stoudemire, the star-type substance of the unit—he's out with a hand injury—and you've got something resembling last year's Michigan outfit. They've played like it. It's one thing to give up a 300-yard passing day to Matt Barkley and entirely another to drop these lines on the world:
NMSU's Andrew Manley: 20 of 31, 288 yards, 3 TD/2 INT
NDSU's Brock Jensen: 16 of 21 for 197 yards.
That's two quarterbacks repping schools you need four letters to abbreviate averaging 9.3 YPA. Compounding matters: last year Minnesota finished dead last with nine sacks. This year they're on pace for three.
Michigan will be permitted to acquire yards. Actually taking advantage of that opportunity has been problematic for Michigan so far, what with Denard's shoddy Burmese guidance chip malfunctioning and all. This will be an opportunity to get Denard going with some screens and short passes:
It appears as though we are content to give up everything underneath up to 12-15 yards at a time. I do not recall giving up a deep pass all year but we give up an average of 11.5 yards per completion.
Ace saw that in FFFF, as well:
I mean, this is just way too easy:
That happened, oh, all game. Before USC got stupidly conservative in the second half and forced quarterback Matt Barkley into a lot of third-and-long situations, he had completed 18 of 20 first-half passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns, all to Robert Woods, who had 11 first-half catches for 115 yards. Only one of Barkley's throws in that span went beyond ten yards at the point of the catch, that being a 43-yard touchdown bomb to Woods when Minnesota tried to play tighter coverage, and Woods ended up setting the USC single-game mark with 17 receptions, almost all of them coming on screens, slants, quick hitches, and short out routes.
With Borges stating that he needs to work within Denard's capabilities a little bit better in this week's press conference, expect more of a ball-control passing game this week. It will be there, it will be like passing skeleton, it will be up to Denard to take advantage.
Key Matchup: Denard versus Borges. This seems like a great opportunity for the yin and yang of Michigan's passing offense to figure out what works together. You can relax, get in a rhythm without worrying about defensive linemen, and enjoy the luxurious passing lanes afforded by the Gopher secondary.
Run Defense vs. Minnesota
Much of this hinges on the "questionable" MarQueis Gray, the QB/WR/QB who moved back to QB this fall and is the Gophers' leading rusher by a considerable margin with 351 yards in the first four games. Ace detailed the various ways in which Minnesota gets Gray yards, which look an awful lot like the ways most spread offenses get their QB yards.
But Gray is injured:
"I'm hoping he'll be ready for Saturday and be able to give us minutes," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said about Gray during his radio show Thursday. "But I don't know. We got a lot of time before Saturday, and we'll take it all the way until game time to see what we do."
And their line is a mess:
3. What are some of the other challenges facing the Gopher’s offense? A weak running game, or struggling offensive line?
Offensive line is a pretty significant issue. We have a freshman and a sophomore starting at RT and LT respectively. Then we have three seniors on the interior. Unfortunately the seniors are the larger problem. Both of the tackles have been solid while the interior line has really struggled. It is a very good thing that Gray is strong and fast because he rarely has a pocket before it collapses on him. 11 sacks allowed through four games is only slightly better than Indiana’s 12 but it is bad no matter how you look at it. The run game has actually been fairly solid, at least when compared to our passing game but both rank 8th in the Big Ten.
Gray's injury is a toe/foot issue that may allow him to play at the same time it limits his effectiveness on the ground. If Gray's reduced to a pocket passer you might as well replace him with Max Shortell, the true freshman pocket passer Jerry Kill yoinked from Kansas last year. (Or possibly Brazil: the NCAA's website calls him just "Shortell".)
Aside from Gray, Minnesota has relied on senior Duane Bennett (4.3 YPC a year ago, 3.7 this year) and sophomore Donnell Kirkwood. Kirkwood's been more efficient but both appear to be JAGs stuck behind a porous offensive line. FFFF shows a lot of misdirection as Minnesota tries to compensate.
Key Matchup: Jake Ryan, and to a slightly lesser extent the other linebackers, against lack of contain and misdirection. Michigan basically shut down Ronnie Hillman when SDSU was not getting Michigan to bust alignments or lose contain. Minnesota will again test Michigan's ability to line up right, something they're getting better at. They still need work.
Pass Defense vs. Minnesota
This will also depend on Minnesota's quarterback situation. Gray is completing 50% of his passes for 6.7 YPA and is coming off a terrible game against NDSU—5 of 12, 53 yards, 1 INT—in which he was pulled for performance reasons. Shortell is the better passer… or is at least reputed to be the better passer. His numbers to date are almost identical to Gray's: completion percentage around 50, YPA around 7, equal numbers of TDs and interceptions.
Neither is likely to be much good. The two-headed Minnesota quarterback will be less threatening than any Michigan's gone up against save Alex Gillett, but unlike EMU Minnesota will probably throw the ball around a bit. Certainly more than the Eagles, anyway. They attempted six passes, none in the second half.
Minnesota does have its usual quota of a single wide receiver you'd really like to see in a winged helmet. This year's edition is Da'Jon McKnight (right), a strapping senior with NFL potential. McKnight had 750 receiving yards and ten touchdowns last year; he'll be a tough, physical matchup for whoever he lines up against. It'll be interesting to see whether Michigan matches JT Floyd, who seems like their best and most physical corner, with McKnight or is content to play field/boundary. That would expose the slight Courtney Avery or Blake Countess to a 6'3", 220-pound opponent. (The assumption here is that Troy Woolfolk will rest is comically large array of minor injuries this week.)
As for Michigan, last week they showed stunning competence against a passing offense that was supposed to be pretty good. This could be a week-to-week fluke or Michigan taking advantage of playing an offense they literally designed, but one thing seems like an indisputably encouraging sign for the future: pressure. Ryan Lindley was forced to chuck a dozen off-target ducks because he rarely had time to get to a second read. Mike Martin tore through the interior of the line time and again; Ryan, Roh, and Black helped out on the regular.
Martin via Blue Seoul:
In the secondary, Thomas Gordon continued to solidify himself as a non-cringe-inducing safety and all corners not named Woolfolk played well. Debutant Blake Countess was the talk over the past week but as mentioned, it's JT Floyd who's made a remarkable transformation from outright terrible to at least average. Michigan defensive backs are making life hard on opponents. For his next trick, Curt Mallory will teach Luke Fickell how to take a timeout.
Key Matchup: Defensive line versus a lack of gaudy sack totals. If the seniors on the interior are the problem relative to the freshman starting tackles, Michigan should be living in the backfield.
Will Hagerup returns. While Hoke is making noises about an open competition between the prodigal son and freshman Matt Wile, Hagerup has a cannon attached to his leg and Wile does not. Hagerup will get the job back and push Zoltan Mesko's punting average records. Kicker Brendan Gibbons missed his first real attempt of the season against SDSU, but at least it looked plausible. It did not spin sideways. So that's cool. (Gibbons did make a glorified extra point against EMU.)
Gopher special teams are less of a tire fire than the rest of the team. The Gophers haven't done much on kick returns but are averaging 30(!) yards a punt return… on one return. Small sample size disclaimers have never applied more thoroughly. Their punting has been legitimately awesome (46 yards a kick with just three returns on 12 punts); their kicker started off 1/4 but has made his last four.
Key Matchup: GIBBONS YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS AAAAAA
Twenty point spreads do not require intangibles until the current head coach has proven this assertion to be false. But here's this… item from Midnight Maize:
- Minnesota can block anyone on the line.
- Michigan can't handle the zone read, man.
- Y U NO 2010 DENARD, DENARD.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Michigan can take advantage of the porous Minnesota secondary.
- The Avery/Countess duo turns in a second solid game.
- Minnesota shows up instead of the Disguised Vikings.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 1 (Baseline 5; –1 for Minnesota Secondary Resembles Michigan 2010, –1 for MINNESOTA SECONDARY RESEMBLES MICHIGAN 2010, –1 for And They Rush The Quarterback Like A Pack Of Mewling Tajiks, –1 for Freshmen At QB And Both Tackles, –1 for Lost To Not Even The Good New Mexico, –1 for Would Not Finish in The Top Three In A Dakotas State Championship, +1 for Lingering Fear Of Losing These Sorts Of Games From Last Four Years of Experience.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for Not Having The Jug Would Crush MVictors, +1 for Would Like To Believe Michigan Could Be State Champ Of North Dakota, +1 for Losing To A 20-Point Dog Would Be A Carr Era Flashback I Would Not Enjoy, +1 for Oh No Not Again, +1 for Except This Would Be Even Worse.)
Loss will cause me to... never say anything nice about the defense again.
Win will cause me to... spend next week repeating "this is not 2010" and "this is not 2009" to myself over and over.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Come on, man.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Denard picks up another 20 carries, the last few inexplicable. 150 yards.
- Black, Ryan and Roh combine for three sacks.
- The positive turnover margin run continues.
- Michigan, 39-14.
Title ref (this time with apple flavor cause L'shana tovah)
We have waited far too long to recognize Blue Indy for his wallpaperin' ways. The above background has been maized to remind you it's Maize Out week. There's a wallpaper too from cjm but no I'm not putting a naked gopher with a tattoo on my work laptop again (long story).
Plus man I am drinking down a pitcher of that myself. Not about the 4-0 start and a 4-point come-from-behind win over Notre Dame—we've seen that before. About this coaching staff. Whatever nits we pick around here, an overwhelming majority of Michigan fans are in agreement that our coaches are all of the following: top-of-line recruiters, good teachers, competent playcallers, sound schemers, and good guys. We've been demanding that combination so long it's easy to not fully appreciate how rare it is.
Okay BlueSeoul diarist extraordinaire, about those nits:
It's 3rd and Fricken 1!!!
He doesn't much care for flipping the front 7 to keep SDE and WDE accurate. Any other complaints?
Who does this band director think he's fooling? [pic]. There are: 1 Drum Major, 4 Twirlers, 24 Flags, 12 Piccolos, 24 Clarinets, 12 Alto Saxophones, 12 Tenor Saxophones, 48 Trumpets, 12 Horns, 33 Trombones, 4 Bass Trombones, 12 Euphoniums, 14 Sousaphones, 6 Snare Drums, 4 Bass Drums, 4 Cymbals
AND NONE OF THEM ARE LOOKING AT YOU!
NCAA Rule 448: All band leaders think they're Professor Harold Hill. The other 60% of the weekly breakdown is breaking down wonderful happy things like the sprint option and Craig Roh using an OL's extension against him. Bonus: BlueSeoul did one for EMU too.
Tailgaters: Send in Your Photos and Recipes
Some dude posted a forward from his wife in the diaries looking for tailgate recipes and photos to be made into a cookbook sold for charity purposes. Since it's for a good cause, and the dude's name is eerily similar to the one on my paycheck, I'll abide by not calling "kiosk" this time.
What Kind of Rivalry are You? Since this is a "rivalry" week, turd furguson's deep thought is timely. He breaks the nation's collegiate rivalries into those where you love the rivalry more than you care about the rival, those where you just hate those guys, and those where somebody gets noogies. He does a good job at categorizing but I think there should be way more to it. Like what about the one where you have an annoying little brother who's actually sometimes really sweet? (chicken soup diary by Shaqsquatch). I maintain a more interesting theory of rivalries is to make them analogous to relationships that 4th graders have. 100 pts. to whoever makes the best Brown Jug rivalry analogy between South Park characters. Bonus points for incorporating MIT vs. Harvard-Yale.
Bust on through into the backfield (post jump) and I'll show you the diary of the week, the weekly things, and shed light on a few memes from the depths of the board.
THING OF THE WEEK. No thing. :(
Formation Notes: So here's this:
See that guy way at the top of the screen? That's Hopkins. WTF? I don't know. Michigan showed a half-dozen snaps with this formation, often motioning the RB (sometimes it was McColgan) out of the backfield to his position on the edge of forever. They didn't seem to use this for anything.
As for SDSU, I gave this a passing mention in the Toussaint picture pages and here it is again: this was not what I expected the 3-3-5 to be. As you can see above, SDSU would often align in a four-man front—the above is over-shifted—by using one of their teeny linebackers as a standup DE. Only rarely did they deploy a true stack:
They did blitz off this to create different fronts, but mostly it was an array of standard fronts run with really small guys. I was disappointed—I wanted to see what this thing was all about.
Michigan didn't bust out much else worth noting.
Substitution Notes: Nothing out of the ordinary save Watson supplanting Moore at the second TE spot. Not good for next year—he's a senior. Smith and Toussaint got the vast bulk of the RB snaps, with Hopkins getting a few. Hopkins also saw a little time at FB. Schofield came in for Barnum after he got injured.
At WR it was the usual.
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 man||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||2|
|Late shift by SDSU sees backside end slide towards the C and a linebacker come down over Koger. Seems like a D meant to defend ZRD and it does. Backside LB scrapes over to take Robinson; handoff. Late-shifted DE has an advantage on Huyge on the backside; Omameh(-1) should have paused to offer a scoop there but thought he was uncovered, which he was until the late shift. Huyge(-0.5) could have done better here, too. RPS -1. RUN-: Omameh, Huyge(0.5)|
|M41||2||8||Shotgun trips TE||2||1||2||3-3-5 man||Run||QB power||Robinson||3|
|First of a number of plays that sees a second tailback, this time Hopkins, flare out into a WR position. Michigan never makes this relevant, so its purpose remains a mystery. Man... there are eight guys in the box here and no one deeper than five(!) yards save a corner way out over Hopkins. Robinson checks, flipping Toussaint, and runs power at the overloaded side of the formation. I'm not sure what he thought he saw. Koger(-1) gets beat up by the playside DE, forcing an early cutback from Robinson. Lewan and Barnum(+1) blow the NT up; Lewan does not peel fast enough to take out a linebacker. Molk(+1) seals away the other DT, leaving a cutback lane for Robinson. He takes it; it's filled by the extra guy in the box pursuing down the line and the LB Lewan did not get out on. RPS -1.|
|RUN+: Barnum, Molk||RUN-: Koger|
|M44||3||5||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||3-3-5 two deep||Run||QB draw||Robinson||19|
|I thought this was a scramble live but the receivers aren't running routes. Also, Huyge goes after a LB after it's clear he's dropping into a short zone. SDSU blitzes up the middle; Michigan picks it up thanks to Barnum(+2) shoving one guy past where Molk(+1) can pick him up, then popping out on one of the blitzers to shove him past Robinson. Smith(+1) blows up the blitzer to the other side. Robinson(+1) is through the gap Barnum provided. He makes a linebacker miss and is into the secondary. As he's angling away from a pursuing safety one of the linebackers comes back to trip him.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Barnum(2), Molk, Smith||RUN-:|
|O37||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||3-3-5 man||Pass||Waggle WR flat||Odoms||Inc|
|Open but well overthrown. Not even much pressure on him. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)|
|O37||2||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||3-3-5 man||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||32|
|God, I want Michigan to run QB oh noes to the RB on a streak right up the middle here. Maybe later. SDSU has seven in the box against five blockers, M runs anyway. Backside LB running right at Robinson; handoff. Molk(+2) takes a hit from a lineman and bounces down the line as Omameh(+1) pancakes said DL. Molk shoves a blitzer past Smith. Omameh's blocked a dude with his back as Huyge shoves a man down the line; Lewan(+1) fends off a DE for a long time. Barnum pops out to the second level after letting that LB Molk picked off run by him and does wall off a pursuing LB but no plus since that was easy and he might have screwed up. All this is is just enough for Smith(+3) to have a tiny, tiny crease that he stumbles through inexplicably. Nice thing about getting through seven guys in the box is there is no second level; he runs a long way. RPS -1|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Omameh, Smith(3)||RUN-:|
|O5||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||3-3-5 under||Run||QB power||Robinson||5|
|More of an under look with 3-3-5 personnel. Michigan runs at the 250-pound DE pretending to be a three tech and crushes him. Huyge(+2) gets under the guy and starts crushing him towards the endzone. Omameh(+1) helped, then popped off to steamroll a linebacker. Barnum(+1) pulls around to do the same to another linebacker; Molk(+1) and Watson(+1) kick out their guys to make this easy.|
|RUN+: Huyge(2), Barnum, Omameh, Watson, Molk||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||3-3-5 man||Pass||Fade||Roundtree||Inc|
|Tough to complete this with very good coverage from the Aztec corner. Denard floats it up in a decent spot; Roundtree comes underneath the coverage to get a one-handed stab at the ball. Shouldn't they be throwing this to Hemingway, not Roundtree? There are better ways to test this cover zero look. (CA, 1, protection 2/2) BWS picture paged this, though I disagree with the conclusion. More later.|
|M39||2||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||3-3-5 two deep||Pass||Throwback screen||Gallon||8|
|Not a tunnel screen since this play goes well outside the tackle box. Lewan is flaring out to help; Barnum is supposed to get out there too but gets hung up at the line. Linebackers are gone and Denard hits the easy screen; Lewan can't actually block the corner but does delay him enough for Gallon to scoot upfield for a good chunk. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)|
|M47||2||2||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||3-4 tight||Run||Speed option||Robinson||53|
|Outside zone blocking. I'm just saying? I'm just saying. Huyge(+1) and Omameh(+1) execute a beauty scoop block that seals the playside DE and gets Huyge out on the weakside LB. That plus a good block from Koger(+1) on the edge plus two San Diego State guys taking the pitchman means that when Robinson cuts upfield he is one on one with some grass for a touchdown. Credit to Watson(+1), the backside TE, for getting out on the backside safety to remove all doubt. RPS +3.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Omameh, Watson, Koger, Robinson||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q. Lloyd Brady sighting.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 under||Pass||Oh noes hitch||Roundtree||10|
|Draw fake into a ten-yard hitch. Robinson nails it this time; had Hemingway screamingly wide open but his first read is there, so no complaints. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M40||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||3-3-5 under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||6|
|This should have been a bigger gainer, but Smith made a bad cut. He makes it because Barnum(+1) pancaked the NT and he thinks he can cut back for a big gain. He ends up running into the fallen Barnum and slowing down; doesn't matter too much because Omameh(+1) destroyed the playside G with help from Molk; Huyge(+1) out on the playside LB. Without the delay by Smith(-1) he's out on the corner nearing a first down before being angled OOB. With it the MLB has time to shuck Molk's block and the playside DE has time to recover after getting way upfield.|
|RUN+: Molk, Barnum, Omameh, Huyge||RUN-: Smith|
|M46||2||4||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||3-3-5 under||Pass||PA slant||Roundtree||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Zone read fake to patterns that SDSU have covered pretty well. Robinson is getting pressure and has to get rid of it. He picks the most open of the routes—still not very open—which is Roundtree's slant and throws a ball that looks like it is sailing high. It's close enough that Roundtree being interfered with matters, though, and Michigan picks up a flag. Not charted since I can't really tell if this is accurate or not. (N/A, 0, protection N/A)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 even||Run||QB iso||Robinson||4|
|Playside DT holds up well enough against a double from Barnum and Molk. They can't seal him away. They do get some push. Outside blitz eliminates one linebacker, leaving two for Smith and the peeling Barnum; they both get blocks. SDSU maintains leverage, forcing it back inside, where the DT makes the tackle. Adequate all around.|
|O35||2||6||Ace 3TE||1||3||1||3-3-5 under||Pass||PA dumpoff||Smith||8|
|Gallon lined up as a TE. This does not sucker SDSU: the safeties are moving backwards at the snap. The two guys in the route go deep; Gallon has like three guys surrounding him. No one takes Smith as he leaks out of the backfield, so Robinson checks down when the deep stuff is uber covered. Smith shoots for a first down, then fumbles. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, Smith -3)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||3-3-5 under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||4 (Pen -10)|
|Late shift inside by the playside DE; he goes straight upfield at Barnum. Barnum seems to throw him to the ground with his strength but picks up a holding call. I guess he's got his arm around the guy's shoulder but he's not pulling it; this seems pretty weak to me. Smith still has to cut upfield behind Barnum's block, which puts him in a bunch of traffic. Omameh(+1) got a good seal on a guy playside of him, which allows Smith(+1) to pick his way for a couple yards. Barnum -1 for allowing the penetration and picking up the flag. On replay this is a really bad penalty. He's not holding the dude, he's pushing him. Refs -2.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Smith||RUN-: Barnum|
|M19||1||20||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||5-3 stack||Pass||Quick hitch||Roundtree||5|
|Quick three step strike to Roundtree. Fine on first and ten. First and twenty, though? (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M24||2||15||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||5-3 stack||Pass||PA quick seam||Koger||Inc|
|Zone read PA gets Koger and Hemingway wide open in the short seams. Robinson takes the easier throw to Koger, nailing him in the numbers. Dropped. If caught a certain first down and maybe more. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)|
|SDSU stunt gets Barnum blocking no one and almost gets Denard sacked; Molk comes off his guy and manages to hand him to Omameh at the last second to prevent total chaos. Team minus there but pretty decent work by those two. Denard has a lane thanks to a Smith pickup and comes up through the pocket, where a couple spies are. He's got no one open so he takes off. Maybe he had Gallon on an out but not seeing that is no surprise given the heavy pressure. (PR, N/A, protection 1/3, team -2, RPS -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||3-3-5 even||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||6|
|Lewan and Watson momentarily double the playside DE-type substance (actually a LB), with Lewan chucking him upfield and Watson(+1) sealing. Molk(+1) controls the center well, so there's a crease frontside for Toussaint. Lewan(+1) and Omameh(+1) get good second level blocks; Barnum(-1) gets shoved off balance by his guy, forcing Toussaint to slow up and cut outside of him, where an aggressive safety is there after just a few yards.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Watson, Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Barnum|
|M25||2||4||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||3-3-5 stack||Run||Speed option||Toussaint||5|
|Barnum hurt; Schofield in. Toussaint motions to the option from the opposite side just before the snap. SDSU blitzes into this; Denard(+1) makes sure to suck up the edge guy before pitching. Toussaint(+1) has to dodge the charging safety, which he does; QB guy then gets stiffarmed; pursuit now tackles the slowed Toussaint. Two broken tackles for five yards = RPS -1.|
|RUN+: Toussaint, Robinson||RUN-:|
|M30||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Run||QB iso||Robinson||3|
|Oh, man, Robinson misses a huge cutback lane. SLB moves to the line late and blitzes upfield; Koger(+1) kicks him out way out of the picture. SDSU line slants playside, beating Molk(-1) to the point where Smith has to hit this guy on the LOS. Lewan(+1) has managed to get playside of his guy and wall him off, allowing a cutback lane. Robinson(-1) begins to take it but instead of exploding outside into open space he inexplicably bowls over the guy Lewan's blocking.|
|RUN+: Koger, Lewan||RUN-: Molk, Robinson|
|M33||2||7||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||7|
|Denard misses a keep read. Play still works as Schofield(+1) gets enough of the NT to give Toussaint(+1) a crease he hits speedily; Omameh(+1) kicked out a blitzing LB and Molk nailed the MLB. Safety comes up to hit at the sticks.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Toussaint, Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Robinson|
|M40||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||3-3-5 stack||Run||Busted play||Robinson||-1|
|Robinson tries to hand off but Smith thinks it's a pitch. Robinson manages to get somewhere near the LOS.|
|M39||2||11||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA RB flat||Smith||Inc|
|Blitz gets two guys in Robinson's face immediately and he just dumps it off to the flat thinking that will be open; it's not. This is actually a good throw considering—he's under a lot of pressure and the coverage is there; he places it in a spot where Smith can get it and pick up some YAC if the LB doesn't make the diving PBU, which he does. Instant pressure plus coverage on the hot route == RPS -1. (CA, 0, protection N/A)|
|M39||3||11||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 under||Pass||Out||Hemingway||9|
|Half roll does nothing to prevent pressure; Smith does not cut an edge blitzer and Molk(-1) lets another guy through to block no one. Robinson gets lit up. He throws just before that, hitting Hemingway in front of tight coverage. It's a bit high but not so much that Hemingway can't go up and get it. (CA+, 2, protection 0/3, Smith, Schofield, Molk)|
|M48||4||2||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||3-3-5 stack||Run||Speed option||Robinson||7|
|NT goes right by Omameh but is not flat enough to make that count. Molk(+1) slides down the line, finds no one to block, and sets up. He never actually impacts the LB twisting from the inside but delays him with his presence. Lewan(+2) hates the playside donkey, donkeying him into the donkeyground. Koger(+1) kicks out the LB on the end; Robinson slashes up for the first.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Molk, Robinson, Koger.||RUN-:|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun twin TE twins||1||2||2||3-3-5 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||34|
|Robinson sees something he likes and checks. This flips the RB to the strongside; Michigan runs power over there. SDSU twisting, I think. Barnum(+1) adjusts to the twisting DL over him, kicking him down the line and into the guy next to him. That erases both. Lewan(+1), Koger(+1), and Watson(+1) are two on three on guys on the strongside POA and blow those two off the ball. The combination is a cavernous cutback lane for Robinson(+2) that he takes. Molk(+1) has wandered out to the first down line, where he takes out a safety; Robison accelerates behind and is again angling away from the last man when someone trips him from behind.|
|RUN+: Molk, Barnum(2), Lewan, Koger, Watson, Robinson(2)||RUN-:|
|O11||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||3-3-5 over||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||9|
|SDSU misaligns and does not adjust to TE motion. Lewan(+2) annihilates and pancakes the playside DE. McColgan(+1) kicks out EMLOS. Koger(-1) releases into the MLB and actually gets his butt kicked, falling backwards. This is fortunate as it impedes the progress of the backside DE, who Molk(-1) bumped but did not seriously delay. Toussaint(+1) zips into the hole, steps through an arm tackle, accelerates once clear, and nears the goal line.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), McColgan, Toussaint||RUN-: Koger, Molk|
|O2||2||1||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||1|
|SDSU guesses right and gets linemen into the backfield by diving; not much you can do there. This could still make it if Barnum(-1), the puller, doesn't whiff between two linebackers. Toussaint's following him and manages to split those two guys for a moment before they rope him down. Run-: Barnum|
|O1||1||G||Goal line||2||3||0||Goal line||Run||Naked boot||Robinson||1|
|Does not fool two guys on the edge; fools everyone else. Schofield(+1) is left standing, realizes what's happening, and gets out to wall off the interior guy who knows what's going on.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||3-4 tight||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||0|
|No safeties. A 3-4 front and man on the WRs. They twist two DL, getting a guy in to roar down the line like an unblocked EMLOS on a scrape. They also have a linebacker forcing the handoff. Schofield(-1) is beaten badly by the playside DE. DE is in the hole ready to tackle; Smith(-1) should have cut it up behind that block, but realistically that's not much better. Too many guys when you've got five blockers against seven defenders. RPS -2. RUN-: Schofield, Smith|
|M20||2||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||1||2||2||3-4 base||Run||QB power||Robinson||8|
|Huge hole as Koger(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) cave in the playside DE; blitzing LB comes outside and is kicked out by Smith(+0.5). Robinson hits it straight up. Schofield(+1) was pulling and got a downfield block that buries a DL; Koger gets his extra half-point by moving out into the second level. RPS +1; this was wide open.|
|RUN+: Koger, Huyge(0.5), Schofield, Smith(0.5)||RUN-:|
|M28||3||2||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-4 tight||Run||QB inside zone||Robinson||7|
|Twist stunt by the playside DE and NT. Schofield(+1) manages to adjust, pushing the DE past the play and giving a last lunge once on his knees that gets that guy to the ground; Molk(+1) rides the twisting NT way out of the play; Denard(+1) sees the crease and hits it. Huyge(+1) got a great driving block on the backside DE; Koger(-0.5) lost the backside LB; Omameh got a decent shove on the MLB. Denard has room for the first and can grab some extra yards before Koger's guy makes an ankle tackle.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Huyge, Robinson||RUN-: Koger(0,5)|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||3-4 tight||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||-3|
|Major error by Robinson(-3), who was definitely covered and should have given. Toussaint looked like he had a lane for either some yards or a very large number of yards. He manages to pop outside and looks like he will be able to run to the corner but then compounds his error by stopping and trying to cut back against the grain. No sale. Just run to the corner, man, it's not like this SDSU DE is going to catch you. RUN-: Robinson(3)|
|M32||2||13||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||3-4 base||Pass||Rollout curl||Jackson||Int|
|Rolling the pocket. I don't know why. This is "smash," which is similar to a curl-flat concept with the outside receiver running a circle route and the inside guy running a corner, but it's against man and Denard stares it down, allowing the underneath guy to sink into the route. It's picked off. It didn't help that the rolling pocket cuts off his reads, makes it harder to find spaces to run, and exposes both backs to cut blocks they miss, pressuring Denard. Stop rolling the pocket, fergodsakes. (BR, 0, protection 1/3, Toussaint, Smith, RPS -2... this route got no receivers open and got Denard pressured.)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-0, 12 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 over||Run||QB power||Robinson||4|
|Lewan(+2) obliterates the playside DE. He is not slanting and he ends up on his chest yards away from where he started. His block is so good it's a problem for Schofield, who gets clipped by the donkey Lewan is hating and can't get out on the MLB. File under one of those things. Omameh(-2) should be there to pick up the slack but even though it looks like he looks right at him he moves on to someone else. Instead of hitting a crease up the middle Denard has to bounce away from the MLB, robbing Hopkins of his angle on the other LB. Koger(+1) got a good driving kickout that put a guy on his butt, too.|
|RUN+: Lewan(2), Koger(2)||RUN-: Omameh(2)|
|M28||2||6||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||3-3-5 under||Pass||PA FB flat||Koger||Inc|
|Playside LB gets straight upfield, pressuring Denard. This opens up the FB flat for probably first down yardage; Denard misses entirely. (IN, 0, protection N/A)|
|M28||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 even||Pass||TE Hitch||Koger||Int|
|Roundtree starts in the backfield before motioning out. SDSU sends three; they get picked up and provide a lane upfield. RUN! You don't run. Y U NO RUN. He throws it to a covered Koger and I believe the DB does bat this skyward; he had Dileo coming open on a not covered hitch and he's DENARD ROBINSON RUN. (BR, 0, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-0, 10 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M7||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||3-3-5 under||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||5|
|Hopkins at FB. Koger(+1) blasts the playside LB/DE well inside. Watson(+1) kicks out the safety type guy outside. Molk(+1) seals one DT; Schofield momentarily does the same to the other but lets him spin off. Hopkins bashes into a LB a couple yards downfield as Lewan(+1) blows out a LB. Omameh(-1) is pulling around into this cavernous space and runs directly into Hopkins. If he pulls inside of Hopkins he gets a block and Toussaint can hit it up for seven or eight. As it is he bumps Hopkins and Toussaint bumps him. Toussaint has to bounce outside, which Omameh also does; this is where Lewan has kicked his linebacker . Buncha dudes converge.|
|RUN+: Koger, Molk, Lewan, Watson||RUN-: Omameh, Schofield|
|M12||2||5||Shotgun twin TE twins||1||2||2||3-3-5 under||Run||QB power||Robinson||6|
|Same check that led to the post-fourth-and-two touchdown earlier, with Smith flipping sides and Michigan running at the heavy side. Lewan(+1) and Schofield double the playside DT, eventually depositing him three yards downfield in a heap. Watson(+1) scoops the playside DE-ish person with Koger, getting him sealed. Koger eventually passes him off; Omameh(+0.5) does whack him on his pull. Still not getting out into the second level there but he blocked someone. Molk(+1) has sealed away the backside DT so Robinson can just run up the backs of his OL until he nears the first down and jump over them to get it.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schofield, Watson, Omameh(0.5), Molk||RUN-:|
|M18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-4 base||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||0|
|This is probably a good keep since Toussaint gets annihilated but Koger(-2) just fans out, blocking no one. This leaves a DE unblocked and a twist stunt gets another guy free to contain from the inside and Denard has little choice but to go down near the LOS. RPS -2... defense had this beaten up even without the Koger fan. RUN-: Koger(2), Huyge|
|M18||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 under||Run||QB iso||Robinson||3|
|Another twist stunt is handled better, with Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) blowing one twistee down the line and Omameh(+1) picking off the other one. It looks like Robinson is about to burst through the small crease provided when he's hacked down from behind by a guy who got upfield of Lewan(-3), beat him, got up, and tackled. That should never happen.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Molk, Schofield||RUN-: Lewan(3)|
|M21||3||7||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Screen||Smith||32|
|SDSU sends five and they all suck upfield. Grady's in the slot and has press man over him; he takes that guy away from the play and blocks the spying MLB. That's seven defenders gone. Denard dumps it off to Smith and he's got a convoy with nothing to do. I guess I would like Smith to maybe set up his blocks a little better here but you never know when you're going to get cut down from behind. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3)|
|O47||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||0|
|SDSU plays to spill, shooting the playside LB down the line and blowing up McColgan(-2), who topples backwards. Koger(-1) ran past the first threat, and those guys tackle. RUN-: McColgan(2), Koger|
|O47||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA quick seam||Dileo||18|
|Zone fake to the quick seam, ain't no linebackers, nails Dileo, catch, first down. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)|
|O29||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||3-3-5 under||Run||Dive fake to pitch||Smith||1|
|We never run the dive, LB gets out on it, Smith doesn't do anything but run OOB, grumble grumble this play.|
|O28||2||9||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||3-3-5 under||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||2|
|Twist stunt dominates Schofield(-2), who gets shoved back into Smith after a correct handoff Smith(+1) manages to get past the LOS after keeping his balance on the bump and accelerating into the gap left by the stunt.|
|RUN+: Smith||RUN-: Schofield(2)|
|O26||3||7||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||3-3-5 even||Run||Speed option||Robinson||3|
|This is not a great check to the short side of the field on third and seven, but it's also a missed cut from Robinson as Schofield(+1) and Lewan(+1) had comboed the backside DT and Denard had a huge cutback lane he does not see. Instead he goes playside, where Watson(-1) couldn't do much with his man; he gets out on the edge and allows one of the LBs to flow up on Robinson without opening the pitch. Denard does cut up, but late, and guys come off now-bad blocking angles when he has to go behind because of the safety charging on him.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Lewan||RUN-: Robinson, Watson|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(40), 3 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M30||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Hopkins||8|
|No twist stunt and M still runs the same thing; with Watson's motion and little reaction from SDSU they are misaligned and have little chance to stop this. (RPS +1) Watson kicks out the EMLOS as Lewan and Schofield double on the pinched-in DT. Easy all around. Koger(-0.5) gets a free release and does a crappy job blocking the playside LB but that's okay because McColgan(+1) and Omameh are there to help on this one dude. Hopkins runs up dudes' backs before taking a stiff shot from a filling safety and fumbling.|
|RUN+: McColgan||RUN-: Koger, Hopkins(3)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 2 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||3-4 tight||Run||Zone read dive||Smith||-2|
|Twist stunt screws Michigan. Schofield(-1) gets knocked back by his guy and Molk can't do anything about the guy disengaging over the top; no cutback with a guy slanting behind and a player for Denard. Smith is nailed by the twister. RPS -2. RUN-: Schofield|
|M18||2||12||Ace twins||1||2||2||3-3-5 even||Pass||PA Deep post||Roundtree||Inc|
|Play action. Both safeties are bailing at the snap because it's second and twelve but somehow they manage to let Roundtree behind them. Robinson lets it go over the top but is just long. (IN, 0, protection ½, Toussaint)|
|M18||3||12||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Dumpoff||Smith||5|
|Plenty of time; Robinson can find no one open. Robinson thinks about running but he's about to get tackled so he slings a dumpoff to Smith. He's immediately tackled. (TA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 14 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M8||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||3-3-5 under||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||11|
|So the hidden reason this play works: Watson holds a dude who beat him badly. Refs +2. Anyway, same thing as earlier Hopkins power that worked: motion Watson to the strong side, watch SDSU fail to react, run power at it. Koger(-1) gets slanted under and his guy bangs Omameh, who goes backwards and bangs Toussaint. Watson(-2) is beaten by his LB and flings him to the ground without a call, otherwise this ends two yards in the backfield. The hold gives Toussaint a bounce, which he takes. It should be noted that if this play managed to go where it was supposed to, Lewan(+1), McColgan(+1), and Schofield(+1) had all gotten great blocks.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schofield, McColgan||RUN-: Watson(2), Koger|
|M19||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||3-3-5 under||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||-1|
|This time they just line up with Watson over Koger, no motion, and the same LB who just got held shoots into the backfield past McColgan(-1) as a twist stunt gets a lineman past Huyge(-1) and the pulling Omameh(-1) and the MLB runs past Lewan(-1). Three unblocked guys meet Toussaint in the backfield. RPS -2. RUN-: McColgan, Lewan, Huyge,|
|M18||2||11||I-Form||2||1||2||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||0|
|Playside DE slides outside when he sees the downblock, avoiding Huyge(-1) entirely. Koger(-1) has to take him and doesn't do well with it; since two OL are now blocking no one there are two LBs for the single pulling Schofield since McColgan had to kick a dude out. RUN-: Koger, Huyge|
|M18||3||11||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Dig||Roundtree||Inc|
|Denard has a very tight, NFL-style window he can fit it in over a level in a zone here and wings it high. Chad Henne could make this throw... some of the time. It would be a DO if complete, and he did find the one small window in which he could hope to pick up the first here. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 10 min 4th Q. Boy do I hate this drive. So, so hard. On the next SDSU drive the announcers will complain about not running any time off the clock. But... but... they used power?|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-4 base||Run||QB iso||Robinson||30|
|Twist stunt. Schofield(+1) initially has trouble with it, giving ground, but does lock out the DT and eventually pancake him Molk(+1) tracks and kicks the guy coming around. That combo means cutback. This is possible because Koger(+1) kicked out the backside EMLOS. Huyge(+2) dominates his DE, and Omameh(+2) pops out on a MLB. By the time Robinson cuts back behind the twist stunt Huyge and Omameh are essentially carrying their guys downfield. He has an absolute cavern. By the time these guys stop moving backwards they're almost at the first down line! Robinson into the secondary where I give him a token +1 for being fast as hell.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Koger, Huyge(2), Omameh(2), Robinson||RUN-:|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 even||Run||Zone read counter||Toussaint||11|
|RR-era play with the H-back peeling backside to pick off EMLOS and the RB hitting the hole that leaves hard. Schofield(+1) blocks the playside DE inside. Koger(+1) kicks out EMLOS; Lewan(+1) donkeys a linebacker, Toussaint(+1) makes one hard cut and is free.|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone read counter||Toussaint||9|
|Different D means blocking doesn't work nearly as well. Huyge(-1) has a guy right over him and releases downfield; this means that guy is creeping down the LOS. Koger(-1) probably should block him but goes for the kickout on the contain guy on Robinson. There is nowhere to go for Toussaint(+2) until he takes a lovely jab step into the unblocked DE. DE slows a bit to form for a tackle. More importantly, the NT—who Omameh(+1) is blocking well but blocking to the wrong side now that everything is all futzed—sees it and fights outside. Toussaint then starts running back towards the nominal playside, where Molk(+0.5) and Schofield(+0.5) took on a blitzing LB, stalled his momentum, and start driving him downfield. Toussaint runs up their backs until the pile stops.|
|O7||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone read counter||Smith||7|
|This is what a 3-3-5 is supposed to be: three man front, late arriving fourth from unpredictable direction. This time MLB is 3 tech, and he zooms upfield of Omameh(+1); Omameh kicks him out admirably. Blitzer is shooting the gap behind a slanting NT, expecting Smith will end up there. He thinks about it, then sees Omameh's block on the MLB, bouncing past a diving tackle attempt impressively. Another guy is coming at him, bro, and he stops on a dime, running through his arm tackle, stumbling. The last guy has gone to his knees to take him down; Smith powers through him for the final two yards. Bad. Ass.|
|RUN+: Smith(3), Omameh(2)||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-7, 6 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M33||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 over||Run||Zone read counter||Toussaint||6|
|Opens right up; Molk(+2) takes on a DT and plows him back. Huyge(+1) gets a reach on the other DT, though he was slanting to him. Omameh(+1) shoots out on a linebacker; Toussaint(-1) misses the cut behind and runs into an unblocked LB.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Huyge||RUN-: Toussaint|
|M39||2||4||I-Form Big||2||2||1||3-4 base||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||-4|
|LB shoots into McColgan(-2) who again buckles backwards, causing a pile that sucks in the puller. Toussaint bounces but is tackled. I mean, really, if power loses yards in this situation... RUN-: McColgan(2)|
|M35||3||8||Shotgun twins twin TE||1||2||2||3-3-5 under||Run||QB power||Robinson||2|
|Okay, I'm not going to nail people for a meaningless run here. I will mention that Miles Burris was very impressive and I bet he gets drafted in the mid rounds at least. Huyge whiffs on him here, robbing Denard of a possible cutback.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-7, 2 min 4th Q|
That was okay.
Weekly run game breakdown. Hit me.
I cut out two goal-line carries from the one as distorting and didn't count one broken play out of the I (it lost a yard), leaving the following:
- Eight power plays from the I: 3.5 YPC
- One dive-fake-to-pitch: 1 yard
- 1 QB draw: 19 yards
- 1 QB inside zone: 7 yards
- 4 QB iso: 10 YPC
- 7 QB power: 8.8 YPC
- 4 speed option: 17 YPC
- 4 zone read counter: 8.3 YPC
- 11 inside zone read plays: 5.5 YPC
Under center YPC: 3.2.
Shotgun YPC: 8.8
None of the power plays were in short yardage situations. Five were on first and ten, one was on second and eleven, one was on second and four. Five of the seven were "big" formations with two TEs and one WR.
Running power under center sucks, full stop. It sucks against a terrible run defense on first and ten. It sucks even more when Michigan puts two tight ends on the field. There is no reason to do it—any theories about wearing the defense down have to account for the fact that when you run for 3.2 YPC you do not wear the defense down because it is not on the field. This is not just because you can run Denard a lot better from the shotgun: RBs averaged 6.9 YPC on carries from it.
And the under center numbers would have looked even worse if Watson was flagged for a blatant hold on Toussaint's bounce-off-the-OL 11-yarder.
people don't go that way by themselves
I cringe every time a fullback hits the field.
That's depressingly consistent.
Speaking of depressingly consistent, let's talk about inconsistency.
Don't do this to me.
[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation.]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
|Notre Dame '11||6||7(1)||1||6(1)||5||1||1||1||-||50%|
Four games and we have a trend: a 15% reduction in Denard's DSR despite laying a lower caliber of competition than the common opponents we winnowed last year down to. Michigan called 42 passes in last year's ND game, a number that is completely incomprehensible this year. The regression: it's real, it's depressing, it's got to get fixed in the next two weeks if we're going to capitalize on the Big Ten sucking more than a sucky bunch of sucks have ever sucked before.
Just the one drop, but it was a drag: the Koger quick seam that was going for 20 if caught.
For the OL, keep in mind that Michigan had 44 carries that averaged 7.3 yards an attempt. Numbers ho.
|Lewan||15||4||11||MOST EXTREME DONKEY ELIMINATION|
|Barnum||6||3||3||Only played about half the game.|
|Molk||16.5||2||14.5||I guess that stuff about no big plus days from him does not apply to tiny teams who are tiny.|
|Omameh||14.5||5||9.5||Ditto him: his lack of POWER was irrelevant because the guys over him were like 250, tops.|
|Huyge||9.5||3.5||6||Surprising amount of power run over him.|
|Schofield||10.5||5||5.5||Erratic but not a huge dropoff.|
|Watson||7||2||5||Did surprisingly well; will it hold up outside of the Lollipop Guild?|
|Koger||10||8||2||Too many misses.|
|TOTAL||79||32.5||46.5||+41 last week against EMU, FWIW. Expect something similar this weekend.|
|Robinson||8||6||2||I should probably just give him +10 to start for being ridiculously fast.|
|Toussaint||6||1||5||Darting runs for nice yardage. Same YPC as Smith w/ long of 11 instead of 32.|
|Smith||8.5||5||3.5||Big chunk of the minus his fumble.|
|McColgan||3||5||-2||Got rocked on two separate power plays.|
|TOTAL||31||9||22||Contributions from non-Denards: can they last?|
|Protection||16||8||66%||Team 2, Smith 2, Toussaint 2, Schofield 1, Molk 1|
|RPS||13||15||-2||Twist stunts were a problem.|
So: epic thumping delivered by that offensive line, as you would expect given the size of the opposition. Michigan's problems came on a lot of twist stunts. Denard had 200 yards on 21 carries and I give him a +2, which is laughable even to me. I gave him a –3 for one bad keep read that he compounded by not getting to the corner with his speed; instead he held up and got tackled for a three yard loss. He also missed a couple of gaping cuts and some of the holes he had to run in were ridiculous. Like this one:
He did get a +1 for the cut but by the end of this play Huyge and Omameh will deposit their guys on the first down line. So… yeah. Give it up for the OL.
I thought they were totally overrated?
They suck out loud at running power from the I, if that's what you're asking, and might suck out loud running it from the shotgun against bigger teams, but you don't rush for 320 yards with a bad offensive line. When permitted to do what they do they do it well. When asked to do what they don't do they don't do it well. SCIENCE!
Meanwhile: how often have you thought about Taylor Lewan this year? Not often, right? Mostly when he takes some donkey and punches it so hard in the nose shards of cartilage come out the back of its donkeyhelmet, right? (In a non-personal-foul acquiring way, of course.) That is the mark of a great left tackle. There hasn't been a whisper of pressure from the left side all year.
Power! We use power.
You know the drill: we can sort of do it from the shotgun with the extra blocker/more spread out environment, but going big, as we do frequently and inexplicably, is a recipe for second and long. Even when it works it's not exactly because we're dominating guys. This was the setup on the last carry Hopkins is going to get for a while, an eight-yard power:
They ran off the right side of the line. Notice that Steve Watson has motioned to the strong side, where there are three SDSU players to the five on the weak side. SDSU does not slant. With the fullback that gives Michigan five blockers on three guys. Even our wack power running game can make that work.
If they are going to give up the free yards we can take the free yards. If they aren't… eh… not so much, and I'm talking like one yard not so much, not the four yard not so much that is the version of Denard not so much.
JOIN THE TUNNEL SCREEN AND POWER FROM THE I-FORM LIBERATION SOCIETY
STILL WORKING ON THE COLOR SCHEME
NOW ALSO WORKING ON THE NAME
tTSAPFTILS DOES NOT ROLL OFF THE TONGUE
What happened to the zone read?
As was expected/feared, the momentary light of day Denard saw does seem to be an effect of facing spread derp defensive coordinators. If Denard got a pull read on Saturday it happened maybe once; the two times he did pull he got zero and negative three yards. Tweaks are required to keep it going.
Weekly inquisitiveness about what's wrong with Denard.
There are infinite theories, all of which have some validity. Here's one from that BWS picture pages referenced earlier:
In Rodriguez's option offense, the focus was always to pick up yards and stay ahead of the down and distance. Any time they did take a shot downfield, it was the QB Oh Noes that were wide open. In this pro style offense, the coaching staff expects Michigan's players to simply out perform the defense, rather than keeping them guessing with simple routes and reads that would produce 5-6 yard gains and possible yards after catch*.
There's nothing wrong with this style of offense if you have the players to do it (the Chad Hennes and Braylon Edwards of the world). Michigan. however, is loaded with players that aren't necessarily able to out perform their counterparts, rather, they're able to make something out of nothing. Denard needs to recognize the cushion that the weakside defenders are giving Dileo and Hemingway and pass on the single coverage against Roundtree, who isn't much of a leaper.
I sort of agree but don't think the fault is on Robinson. The coverage matchup is exactly what Michigan expects and Robinson can't know how Roundtree will do with it by the time he throws the ball. You don't check away from a fade against one-on-one press coverage. You check to it. Denard threw a decent ball and the corner played it well. That's life when you are taking low-percentage shots down the sideline at Roy Roundtree.
Why you'd throw this at Roundtree is something of a mystery, but Borges is used to having pro-style receivers, not Purdue++ guys, on the outside. I don't like the playcall, don't like having Roundtree on the outside—it's killing his production—and don't like using Henne+Edwards plays when your assets are elsewhere. To me this kind of thing is on Borges. To his credit, Borges seems to acknowledge this:
Can you talk about Denard’s progress as a passer? “Well, it’s a work in progress with our offense. That’s the thing … because it’s different. Now part of that, too -- and I’m going to take the rap for that a little bit. I’ve got to get him some better throws. I’ve got to put him in position to complete some more balls so he can gain some confidence and gain some rhythm. Get in a little bit of a zone. He’s a capable passer, you know, but as a playcaller you have to consider everything we’re calling in terms of the passing game. This kid really threw the ball well in two-a-days and threw the ball well in spring. He did. All his numbers were better numbers than now. I think game situations are different. As he learns about how to do this, you’ll see progress. Because he does have a good arm, and he has an accurate arm when he’s comfortable. But part of that has to be my responsibility to get him in better situations to complete some throws.”
He's still getting his head around an offense where you don't need to seek out big deep chunks as aggressively because just you can stay on the field with your 6+ YPC running game.
Pick an offensive lineman, special commendation to Lewan and Molk. Also the collective tailback.
Air Denard again, I-form power.
What does it mean for Minnesota and the future?
Michigan's going to plow the Gophers like they did the last two opponents. That's not that interesting.
Down the road, the Denard conundrum continues. Is he injured? Incapable of throwing these new routes? Uncomfortable? Was last year just a mirage? The answer to that series of fragments is the difference between contending for the division and contending for a middling bowl game. We just don't know, dude. I'm still clinging to the hope that there's something wrong with him physically.
Against Minnesota I'm hoping to see some dinkier routes Denard can hit in rhythm and no new wrinkles in the run game—none should be necessary. Can Michigan break 4 YPC running from under center against a tire fire of a team? Let's hope not!
They are coming. Hide the mascara. I'm still waiting for the last few survey responses to roll in but, man, people hate In The Big House. This may be an effect of this blog's readership but with the vast bulk of the responses coming from the 22-34 range I'm guessing the results would not be good amongst the much older general population.
So, like, what to do about this?
That is a show at the Blind Pig the day before the Nebraska game in November. If this is a prelude to these guys showing up inside Michigan Stadium I think my head might explode. The only consolation would the groomers getting an Ashlee Simpson reception.
HIRE THESE PEOPLE NOW. So. We have the dog groomers above inflicting their terrible garbage on Michigan Stadium, and then there's Minnesota. Land of misery and no money and people who know what they're doing when it comes to internet videos that transcend irony. Go ahead, watch this with your jaundiced eye. You'll give up your cynicism about 30 seconds in when Goldy Gopher spins his head 360 degrees:
So… I'm just saying… we should fire the entire marketing department and replace them with whoever did that. This is in no way a joke.
GODDAMMIT AGE OF IRONY. I can't even say "this is in no way a joke" without it seeming like an ironic joke. It is not.
Good times. News that the God Hates Figs lunatics will be picketing Ohio State brings back nostalgia for that one time when I was an undergraduate and they hit up Michigan for some fake outrage or another. Tactical error: holding up "M = figs" signs while wearing Kansas City Chiefs jackets. At the time, KC's quarterback was Elvis Grbac and #1 WR Derrick Alexander. A fig to fig connection, as it were, which we loudly let them know about.
Unfortunately for OSU fans, the only Buckeye on the Chiefs' roster is backup DB Donald Washington, so they'll have to come up with something else. Just pretend they're Michigan fans and you'll do fine.
Speaking of. This popped up on the tubes recently. It is an anti-anti-gay PSA that you, the wine-and-cheese-consuming Michigan fan, will be hectored with at some point in the near future:
So that's settled then. No one is ever going to say something inappropriate again. This is all your fault, double-bird guy.
Hey, good point. Taylor Lewan hasn't had a false start/holding meltdown yet, so that's cool:
This year, that has been a point of emphasis. The result?
Zero penalties through four games.
"I'm due, aren't I?" Lewan said, laughing. "I've definitely noticed that. I've been very cautious about penalties. I'm not ever going to let up, just got to be smart. Got to be a smarter player."
What's more, Lewan hasn't even been close to a holding penalty that I've seen. He's been a dominant run blocker and hasn't picked up a pass minus. He's a third of the way to All Big Ten.
You have a Nard dog? Wait, what?
That's our Nard Dog. Thomas Nardo, Iowa's newfound starter at defensive tackle and owner of the porn-iest name in the starting lineup with Shane DiBona on the sidelines, was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. Nardo had himself a pretty monster day for a defensive tackle: 12 tackles, 2.0 TFL, and 0.5 sacks. He doesn't do much to help our problems keeping contain on the outside, but he's exactly the sort of plugger we need to keep from getting gashed up the middle.
This aggression will not stand, Iowa. There can only be one Nard Dog. Shotguns at noon on November fifth to settle it.
More relevantly: this Nardo kid is a fifth-year senior walk-on (sounds familiar) who "won't make anyone forget" a half-dozen Iowa DTs of the recent past but is offering "solidity to an Iowa defensive line that was looking woefully porous earlier in the year." Which… whoah. Iowa suddenly has Michigan's defensive personnel?
Apparently they also have a bomber already on par with Stanzi, so don't chalk that win up just yet. Not that any Michigan fan is chalking up a win against a Big Ten team not named Minnesota.
Stick, baby. Fresh hockey commitment Jacob Trouba is a big deal, like top-half-of-the-first round big deal, and unfortunately these days that means his commitment will be questioned until he shows up on campus. He's even been drafted by one of the more convincing OHL programs, and by "more convincing" I mean "freer with under the table payments."
Anyway. Through no fault of his own, Trouba has the profile of a flight risk. Therefore he gets to answer questions about it whenever he's interviewed. An example:
I asked if Michigan fans have a reason to feel confident that they would see him wearing Maize and Blue next year.
"Yeah they do, I'm a Michigan Wolverine," he stated, "That's why I wanted to wait this long; just so I knew, I didn't want my mind to change over a year and I really wanted to know what I wanted to do next year. I wanted to wait because I didn't want to back out on any decisions, I wanted to stick with my word. I waited until I was sure with what I wanted to do."
Prominent CHL defections usually occur because the player in question is tired of cooling his heels in a lesser league, especially Canadian Junior B. (FWIW, AHL equivalencies imply the USHL is not much worse than the CHL, if it is at all anymore.) Once a kid is locked into his final year before he'd be in college he's usually set. John Gibson is a prominent exception to that, but he was staring down a platoon (at best) with Tiny Jesus. Trouba has no such concerns since he'll probably slot right into the top pairing a la Merrill, and he's got no reason to make a college commitment after he's already been drafted by one of the league's Lane Kiffins.
So… I don't think he'll bolt. If he sticks he makes Michigan's 2012 class pretty impressive. F Boo Nieves is frequently projected as a late first-rounder. D Michael Downing was the third pick of the USHL Futures Draft and was the captain of the U17 5 Nations team. D Connor Carrick is on the NTDP and Michigan took him pretty early. Still need a goalie. Who wants to play behind Trouba? Bueller?
BONUS: While w'ere talking hockey, Michigan Hockey Net and local MGoUser Yesman221 have season previews. (Yesman is a a bit conservative with freshman deployment, FWIW.) There won't be one forthcoming from me due to football season, but Ace might have an official one.
Full cost, sort of. It sounds like the NCAA will bump scholarship awards:
A committee weighing a number of potential changes is expected to recommend that the value of individual scholarships be raised by as much as $2,000 in the top-tier Division I, moving them closer to covering the athletes' full cost of attending school. Full grants currently cover only room, board, books and tuition.
The proposal covers the gap between "full cost of attendance" and the current scholarships as long as that is less than 2k. A step in the right direction. There's also a push to allow multi-year scholarship awards, except it's apparently a push to better market the current system:
Multi-year scholarships also are seen as an athlete-welfare issue, and Swarbrick said his committee favors that proposal even though it might not bring athletes the security many expect.
"The process for nonrenewal of an annual grant probably would look just like the process for terminating a four-year grant," he told ADs. "… But we did think the statement that would be made about our commitment to student-athletes was worth doing and made this a change worth pursuing."
So… he'd like to make a statement about committing to student athletes without actually committing to student athletes. The NCAA has always been at war with the English language.