Last week in Picture Pages we saw one of Michigan's counters to the "scrape exchange" that Western ran constantly last game. Michigan ran a ton of bubble screens or "long handoff"* routes and gave Forcier another option after he decided to pull the ball out: run or toss it to a (usually) wide open receiver. Once Forcier got over some early jitters, this worked well.
Notre Dame was determined to take that away:
This is Michigan's first drive of the second half. Michigan's moved the ball and just got a gashing Brandon Minor run on a zone stretch. They're going to play off that success here.
You can see Notre Dame's response to what they saw in the Western game: line up in press coverage all day, including over the slot receiver. There will be no bubbles here. To prevent Notre Dame from being outnumbered in the box, 80% of the time Notre Dame walks one or both safeties up just before the snap. And to deal with the zone read, Notre Dame is running a scrape exchange every play. (Reminder: on a scrape exchange the backside DE just hauls ass for the tailback and a linebacker pops out to contain the QB.)
Notre Dame has countered Michigan's counter to their counter and pretty much shut down Michigan's rushing attack in the first half. But it's time for the counter-counter-counter-counter.
Here's the snap as it approaches the handoff point. Note that 1) there's no bubble available and 2) Kevin Koger is pulling across the formation. Oh and 3) Moosman, who is the second OL from the top, is just drive blocking his guy instead of taking zone steps to the left in an attempt to get his helmet across. His ability to shove the DT back a yard or two is key to this play.
A couple of moments later, Michigan's diabolical plan is revealed:
Points of interest:
- Kevin Koger's pull block pops the backside defensive end, providing a lane between that guy and RG David Moosman.
- Mark Huyge gets a free release on the linebacker, who you can see moving upfield and to the outside to contain Forcier. When he realizes Forcier does not have the ball he will have run himself into a spot where Huyge has a great angle to block him.
- Molk and Moosman have terrific angles to block their guys. Why are these blocks so easy? Notre Dame is anticipating a stretch play, which is what Michigan usually runs from this formation, and if it was a stretch play it would be imperative for them to get playside of their blockers. On this counter, that expectation runs them into places where it's easy to seal them away from the play.
This is basically over. A moment later, you can see the motion of the scrape linebacker has taken him into Huyge's block and that Moosman and Molk have locked up their defenders. Brandon Minor doesn't even have to cut:
The play ends at the one yard line. Watch it in glorious Youtube-o-vision:
Minor misses a cut on first down, Forcier fumbles on second, and a pitch gets blown up on third; Michigan misses a chip shot field goal, providing yrs truly with a wave of despair. But it ended well: Michigan was provided a short field on the next drive after a Notre Dame fumble and went from the 26 to the 7 with a six-yard stretch and 13 more on this play; that drive ended in a touchdown.
*(I don't have good lingo for that. Basically, the outside receiver stands there.)
BOX FTW. That's right. He does. I think he even enjoys it.
"Terror." It's terror. Weird press conference interlude via Angelique Chengelis:
My favorite moment from Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez's press conference Monday was when my esteemed colleague, Larry Lage of the Associated Press, asked if Rodriguez was on the field before the game when the Wolverines do "the circle of death"?
Rodriguez smiled uncomfortably and then replied.
"Oh, yeah, circle," he said. "I speak politically correct here. What are you talking about? That's our team unity circle that we have. Wow, Larry. You can get in trouble for saying stuff like that.
"It's our team unity circle. We're out there for that."
Apparently Lage pressed it, claiming "Circle of Death" sounds more intimidating, for which he gets 46 points, only to get shot down. But it's not "circle of death." It's Circle of Terror, as coined by MVictors. And it is terrifying. Never forget how terrifying it is.
Stop looking at the cheerleaders for a second. I've given Gregg Easterbrook the business before, but never has so much ignorance about college football been encapsulated in a single sentence:
As TMQ noted last month, going no-huddle all the time is just another way to be predictable, plus leads to rapid three-and-outs that send the defense back onto the field; but going no-huddle once in a while creates the element of surprise. … Michigan surprised Notre Dame by going no-huddle for the entire game, but the key word is surprised.
Michigan, of course, hasn't huddled since Rodriguez's arrival, and virtually every spread team in the country eschews the huddle. Gregg Easterbrook is either that guy from memento or hasn't watched a Michigan game in over a year, which means he should probably not talk about them.
Wait, wait. Yesterday I noted the Mouton punch-type action and opined that I thought he should miss Eastern Michigan, but that if previous similar actions didn't draw sanctions he wouldn't. I forgot about these twin Irish incidents:
The latter was flagged, the former was not, and neither player was suspended by Charlie Weis. I don't recall any media attention in the aftermath of either, probably because the opposing coach didn't specifically note he wasn't complaining about it.
There's zero precedent for suspending a guy who didn't even get flagged, AFAIK, and Mouton would be rightly pissed off if he was the first. This from Mike Rothstein…
Whether it was a punch or not, Mouton should sit against Eastern Michigan
Editor's note: I asked Tim to ask about shading the coverage to Warren's side and about Renaldo Sagesse's play to date.
On the shade:
"You can do a lot of things. But if you rotate your defense to one side or the other, they can throw to the other side or they can run the football. I thought our defensive coaches had a pretty good plan. They [Notre Dame] made some plays and we didn't. Boubacar didn't have his best game, but he's a good football player, and he's a competitor, and I'm sure he'll come back and play better the next time"
"He played pretty well. He didn't get a lot of reps, but he's continuing to get better. He's a big guy that we need to keep progressing because we want to play him more. You know, Greg Banks is a guy that's played very, very well, and we're gonna get him more snaps because he's shown that he's a guy that we feel comfortable that we can give 20-30 snaps a game. And Renaldo, hopefully we can get him to the same spot."
So sounds like no thought to realigning the DL.
- Junior Hemingway practiced yesterday and looked pretty good. Hopefully he'll be moving around better today. He was wearing a green (limited contact) jersey.
- The OL Lineup Saturday will depend on David Moosman's progress. Moosman was wearing a red non-contact jersey and riding the stairmaster. They're trying different right side combinations. David Molk has played well so far, which is exciting because it's just his second year. There's 7-8 guys that will play on OL. Err on the side of caution with all injuries.
- On Jonas Mouton's "punch," Rodriguez said he didn't see anything that he thought was a penalty, and if something had happened, the refs would have called something. There will be no additional punishment.
- Eastern is an intense team, they have good fundamentals and blocking. They almost won their last game. They made a great improvement from week 1 to week 2, and they'll make the same progress this week. They're focusing on Eastern instead of ND. Hungry to prove themselves each week.
- Getting more players in. "Our plan... is to get more guys ready to contribute, and particularly the young guys... If they're not ready, we can't put them in there. It's not fair to them or the team."
- Talking to guys about sportsmanship. "Let me make it perfectly clear. No personal fouls will go unpunished (by the coaches)." It's emotional, and sometimes emotional things happen. Play between the whistles and play fair. Penalties can be due to lack of discipline, but the team is doing OK in that respect so far. Saturday didn't seem to be much chippier or physical than most games.
- Brandon Graham hasn't gotten too much more attention from the first teams than you'd expect. Notre Dame is a heavy max-protect team, so they would probably double him no matter what. He still got some good pressure, and made plays in the run game.
- Denard Robinson will not be a package guy. "We want him to continue to be an every-down quarterback." He can make all the throws, he's just still learning the offense. The college game is pretty complicated. In the walkthrough, Nick Sheridan seemed to be getting fewer reps than either Tate or Denard.
- Troy Woolfolk is very active, and has made some big plays, very fast. Safety is the right position for him.
- The walk-on tryouts went well. 2-3 guys will get asked to join the team for a couple weeks. Looking for a bit of athletic ability, size, or speed. If guys look good, their HS film will be evaluated.
- Vincent Smith is just a freshman, so blitz protection against TAH-NOO-TAH blitz was the main reason he didn't play against Notre Dame.
A couple of notes: Michigan spent the entire game in its base formation and never once substituted at linebacker or in the secondary except when forced to by Mike Williams's injury. They rotated along the defensive line, with eight players (starters plus Heininger, Sagesse, Banks, and Herron) seeing time. The 4-3 under is just the base defense now and there's not a whole lot of surprise in what they're doing. The 30 front is a pass D 90% of the time. I think when you saw it on run plays it was actually what USC calls "double eagle" and was more of a 5-2, but I'm still a little rough on that.
Notre Dame went back to its 3-wide personnel as a base set and used Rudolph a lot like M uses Koger.
Also, make sure to check out Steve Sharik's defensive analysis. I haven't read it yet, so these opinions are not mingled with his.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Martin||0|
|This appears to be targeted at the gap between Graham and Martin, but Martin(+0.5) slashes past the center and Graham(+0.5) holds up against a double team, forcing Allen to bounce it to Brown, who's held up on the outside(+0.5) and tackles with safety help.|
|O20||2||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Draw||RVB||25|
|Yikes, terrible play from two players opens up a huge hole. One: Van Bergen(-2) tries a cute pass-rush move around the RG and gets crushed; the guard gets under his pads and just drives him out of the hole. Two: Ezeh(-2) fails to read this or the direction of the play and actually moves into a block he didn't have to take. The center of the field is wide open.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun Empty||4-3 under||Pass||TE Bubble screen||Brown||6|
|Tough to defend for Michigan from the snap because they've only got two defenders in the area plus deep safeties shaded over. Brown(+1) actually does a good job to avoid a cut block and track down Rudolph, slowing him until help can arrive. (Cover -1)|
|M49||2||4||I-Form||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Post||Woolfolk||Inc|
|Clausen has all day(pressure -2) and finds an open Rudolph as he streaks past Woolfolk (cover -1); he throws it long. Both backs stayed in to help; Roh's guy has his hands way outside his shoulder pads but doesn't make a spin sort of move in an attempt to draw a hold, instead he just bull rushes to nowhere.|
|M49||3||4||Shotgun Empty||30 front||Pass||Slant||Ezeh||24|
|I don't know if this is a bust or what but Michigan sends five and leaves the short middle wide open, so Rudolph runs a little slant that's wide, wide open (cover -2). Michigan, bizarrely, had Ezeh 10 yards off the LOS—safety depth—on third and four, which explains the wide open section of the field. WTF? Ezeh(-1) misses a tackle, turning ten yards into 25. Fail.|
|M25||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Bubble screen||--||10|
|Another bubble that's wide open from the snap, something that ND can apparently adjust to in ways OSU can't. With Brown pulled up to the LOS—Michigan is basically in an eight-man front against three-wide, this has no chance of not working. (Cover -2)|
|M15||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Brown||5|
|Michigan's linebacker alignment makes no sense here, with Ezeh and Mouton lined up almost on top of each other and Brown on the edge. Brown(+1) manages to get to the outside of Kamara and valiantly strings the play out, but with no linebackers in any spot to track Allen down he manages to fall forward as Mouton trips him from behind.|
|M10||2||5||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||PA corner||Williams||Inc|
|Williams(-1) blitzes off the corner into the running back, who doesn't have the ball, and ends up getting blocked by that guy. Clausen drops back about nine yards and has a ton of time (pressure -2) with the rest of the defense playing the run; he wings it wide of a sort of open Tate.|
|M10||3||5||Shotgun Empty||4-3 under||Run||QB draw||Graham||0|
|Graham(+2) owns his guy to the inside and tackles Clausen for no gain despite having an ND OL's arm wrapped around his neck. Missed holding call #1.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG (28), 0-0, 10 min 1st Q. A lot of structural deficiencies in the defense on this one: both bubbles were basically indefensible and the Rudolph slant was a WTF formation. Ezeh off to a poor, poor start.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O28||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Comeback||Warren||5|
|Pressure(-2) is stoned and Clausen has a ton of time; downfield coverage(+1) is good and Clausen comes back to a short comeback route that Warren is in front on. Cissoko(-1) had totally lost Floyd on a dig, though, and if Clausen had seen it Floyd would have had 20 or 30 yards.|
|O33||2||5||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Graham||3|
|Defensive line does a great job on this, but the linebackers are nowhere. Graham(+1) drives his guy back, forcing a cutback, and Martin discards his blocker and just can quite tackle for loss. Mouton avoids a block but it slows him up and it's actually Van Bergen(+0.5) coming from behind who makes this play. I'm not sure if the linebackers should have done this better.|
|O36||3||2||Ace 3TE||30 front bear||Pass||PA Fly||Williams||Inc|
|Who saw this playcall coming? The entire stadium? Okay then. Williams(+2), on a blitz, shoots through two blockers and makes a bee-line to Clausen (pressure +2), who chucks it off his back foot and OOB. Inside the tackle box, this is intentional grounding, but it isn't called. Warren(-2), by the way, had gotten smoked by Floyd(cover -2) and without the pressure this was going to be a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 8 min 1st Q. Dodged a bullet.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|Michigan is pretty much boned on this from the snap as the defensive line slants away from a quick-hitting play and it's Stevie Brown and Ezeh trying to deal with a monster hole. Ezeh(-2) is pancaked by Rudolph, who sucked as a blocker against Nevada, and there's a huge hole into the secondary. Williams and Cissoko just barely keep this from being a long touchdown. I mean, this sucks from Ezeh. Michigan has a chance if he gets outside Rudolph and funnels the play back inside; he does not and it's very nearly six points.|
|O40||1||10||Ace Twin TE Empty||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Cissoko||15|
|Ugh. This is painfully, bizarrely open as Cissoko(-2) spends his time staring at the QB instead of the receiver, leaves this wide open(-1), and misses a tackle to compound everything and give Notre Dame eight extra yards.|
|Martin(+1) stands up to a double team and would hold this to no or little gain until Graham(-1) starts giving way against single blocking and a crease opens up. Mouton avoids a tackler and manages to wrap up but Ezeh(-0.5) has run himself into another blocker and can't help, thus allowing Allen to fall forward.|
|M40||2||5||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Screen||--||18|
|The overturned touchdown. This is just Michigan sending the house and getting caught. And yes, he's out of bounds, and they got it right.|
|M22||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Mouton||1|
|Williams at the line and gets picked off by Rudolph, leaving a fullback and a pulling guard against the Michigan linebacking corps on the edge. Mouton(+1) blazes out to the corner and submarines the fullback, forcing it back inside where Brown(+0.5) tackles.|
|M23||2||9||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||Checkdown||Warren||4|
|Four-man rush against max pro is 7-on-4 and doesn't get much of anywhere (pressure -1), but the coverage is good (+1) and Clausen is forced to check down to Allen; Warren(+0.5) makes a solid tackle on the catch.|
|M18||3||5||Ace Twin TE Twins||4-3 under||Pass||Throwaway||Graham||Inc|
|Max pro again; three man rush. Graham(+1, pressure +1) is threatening to burst through (and is blatantly held) so Clausen decides to just chuck it because that's what he always does. Well out of the endzone. Cissoko(+1) gets praise from Millen for the coverage so OK. (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG (34), 7-3, 1 min 1st Q. Ensuing kickoff is returned for a touchdown. This is good. It's seven points. But it also throws the defense right back on the field after they've been out for a seven play drive. What stoutness existed, which wasn't much, gets very wobbly for the rest of the half. For instance: Graham is out for most of this drive, replaced by walk-on Will Heiniger.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O24||1||10||Wildcat||4-3 under||Run||End around||Mouton||5|
|Jeez... ND overloads the short side and has two extra blockers over there, something Michigan does not react to. Mouton(-1) is ridiculously hesitant and gets blocked out of the play, leaving the safeties to come up and tackle after a good gain.|
|Unsurprisingly, they run right at Heininger, who gives ground(-0.5). Ezeh(+0.5) does come up to cut off the outside and take out one of the doublers, allowing Heininger and Mike Martin to tackle slightly short of the sticks.|
|O33||3||1||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Ezeh|
|It's third and one and ND runs a no-deception pitch sweep and ND's no block tight end ends up blocking Ezeh six yards downfield. -2. Brown(-1) jumped inside on the snap and gave up the corner, too, but Roh's ability to get outside forced an Allen cut that might have been no gain if our MLB wasn't six yards away from the play facing 180 degrees in the wrong direction.|
|Ugh. Nothing at all from the line not named Graham and Graham is doubled by a FB and stalemated (pressure -2). Clausen has his choice of wide open receivers (cover -2) as neither linebacker(-1 each) bothers to get a pass drop and cover Rudolph and Cissoko(-1) gets no help over the top and gets burned badly by Floyd. Result is an easy long completion.|
|Max pro again but why bother when neither of your RBs has to bother picking anyone up? No one gets within five yards of Clausen (pressure -2) and Clausen has forever to find Tate on a dig; Williams tackles immediately. Can't blame the secondary here.|
|M10||1||G||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Run||Inside zone||Ezeh||6|
|Eight man front. Sagesse(+1) does a great job of driving the center, who's playside of him, back into the play and forcing a cutback. Tailback now has two gaps, one of which is filled by a charging Mouton, the other filled with... air because Obi Ezeh(-1) has also hit that gap. Gaaaah. Allen slams up into the hole and three guys are now shoving Roh and the pile moves; Allen does a good job of squirting for some extra yards but this should have been no gain.|
|M4||2||G||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Out||Cissoko||4|
|Terrible coverage from Cissoko(-1, cover -1) makes this super easy. You're on the four, man.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-10, 12 min 2nd Q. Ezeh is killing us in the ground game and no one on the line can get any pressure.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O31||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Screen||--||13 (Pen -10)|
|Young gets a holding call for tackling Graham(+1) as he attempts to get to the QB. Notre Dame is constantly doing this. Stupid play on a screen. ND sets this up well and gets Ezeh blocked and a cutback safeties come up to tackle.|
|O21||1||20||Shotgun Empty||30 front||Penalty||Delay of Game||--||Pen -5|
|Well, that's one way to get out of first and twenty five. Again max protect again a four-man rush, again Graham gets doubled and the rest of the line does nothing, and Cissoko is on an island against Floyd and can't do anything about it. (Cover –2, pressure -1) It seems insane that Michigan is shading the safeties over Warren and selling Cissoko out to dry.|
|O49||1||10||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Warren||Inc|
|Superior deep coverage as ND loads up and goes after Warren(+2, cover +1) this time one-on-one with Tate. Warren is a half-step behind and rakes the ball away as it arrives. No pressure(-2) at all again.|
|O49||2||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Brown||11|
|Ezeh(+0.5) actually does a good job of cutting off one inside gap and gets to the right side of a blocker to do so. Graham's flowed down the line and can make a tackle if this gets slowed at all but Brown(-1) attempts to cut back into a gap that's not his and falls, opening a lane for Allen.|
|M40||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Inside zone||Herron||4|
|Kamara motions in to make this sort of a 2TE look. ND doubles and easily seals Herron(-1), opening up the outside, and with Brown trying to get inside of Kamara really what Gray should do is shoot it outside into huge space; he doesn't, instead cutting it up because of Brown's aggression. +0.5, I guess, for results-based charting. Ezeh's got sort of a tough job because Rudolph got a quick release, but he just sort of shoulder-blasts Rudolph and ends up on the wrong side of the play and Gray's error goes from zero yards to four. –0.5.|
|M36||2||6||Ace 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Out||Cissoko||11 + 12 Pen|
|Michigan in a 3-4 look and what the hell is Herron doing? He's just sort of hopping around the LOS, not rushing or dropping. Screen protection? Michigan gets Ezeh in on a delayed blitz but it's too late as Tate comes open on a deep hitch against Warren, again on an island. (Cover -1) Rouging the passer on Ezeh(-2) provides 12 more.|
|M12||1||10||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Sagesse||1|
|Michigan stunting and Sagesse(+1) comes from the interior to the outside, shoving his guy back, holding his ground, and delaying the tailback long enough for a slashing Mouton(+1) blitz to come home. What... a positive play?|
|M11||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fade||Warren||11|
|This is pretty close to indefensible. Cover -1, I guess.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 7 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O42||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Delay||Mouton||15|
|Terrible, terrible from Mouton(-3), who just turns his back and heads into a pass drop on a play that has a pulling guard. Hey... maybe that's a run. Yep. Meanwhile, Herron(-1) gets sealed inside and Allen has an easy time of getting to the secondary.|
|O27||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Delay||Graham||-1|
|Same play. Michigan's flipped their formation, though, and has Graham(+2) on the side the run goes to. He shucks a blocker, darts through the line and crushes the run with help from an aggressive Warren(+0.5). This time Mouton decides to see what the play is before reacting.|
|O28||2||11||Ace 3-wide||30 front||Run||Off tackle||Woolfolk||1|
|Same play from an earlier drive with Kamara motioning in for the 2TE look. Michigan is in a man look, as Woolfolk moves with Kamara, and this allows him to attack as soon as he sees Kamara set up to run block. The quick reaction gets Woolfolk(+1) in; he sets up outside, forces the play back to help, and tackles on the cut. No one blocked Ezeh, so he helps out. That was because Graham(+0.5) took two blockers.|
|O27||3||10||Ace 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Screen||Brown||18 (Pen -5)|
|This is a three man rush, and a screen gets Notre Dame down to the nine. Ugh. Brown(-2) and Ezeh(-1) are late reacting. Flags help out, though. Michigan turns down a downfield hold and accepts an illegal shift.|
|O32||3||15||Shotgun 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Dumpoff||Roh||7|
|Another three man rush works, forcing Clausen to check down(cover +1) and get within reasonable field goal range.|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 14-20, 3 min 2nd Q. Very fortunate, again.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||Scramble||Graham||6 (Pen -10)|
|Williams rolled up for 8 in the box. Notre Dame goes play action and Graham(+1) is about to burst through until he gets collared by the LG, drawing a holding flag. Clausen scrambles out for a few yards. (Pressure +1)|
|O10||1||20||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Long handoff||Cissoko||9|
|Cissoko, petrified, is ten yards deep and moving backwards at the snap; “duh” read for ND. (Cover -1, Cissoko -1)|
|O19||2||11||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Slant||Warren||12|
|Michigan sends five and drops into what looks like a very deep zone, opening up Floyd(cover -2) underneath for big yardage. This kind of looks a tiny bit like man but it's hard to tell; if so that would be a minus for Warren. Graham was closing here so no minus on the pressure.|
|O31||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||Draw||Brown||-5|
|Another five man rush gets Brown(+1) in unblocked; he reads the play correctly and attacks the tailback, which doesn't actually make the guy fumble—he just fumbled—but does prevent him from getting it back. Mouton(+1) recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-20, 9 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|Eight in the box. This seems like a screwed up read from Allen because Roh flies upfield and both linebackers get swallowed up, leaving a big lane to bounce outside in. Instead, Allen runs into the back of one of his OL so hard he falls over. +0.5 for RVB and Martin for holding up and preventing creases. After the bounce, Brown(+1) disengages from Rudolph and tracks Allen down for loss with help from Warren.|
|M46||2||11||Shotgun Empty||30 front||Pass||Throwaway||Ezeh||Inc|
|Michigan sends six against five blockers and math says they get someone through (pressure +1). They actually get two, one of whom is Ezeh(+0.5) and Clausen just wings it because that's what Clausen does immediately whenever anyone comes within five feet of him. Not that we have a whole lot of evidence for that assertion in this game.|
|M46||3||11||Shotgun 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Screen||RVB||Inc|
|Three man rush, which I hate except it ND throws a screen so we win RPS. RVB(+1), stunting, reads this and starts tracking Allen, slashing past a blocker, and Warren(+1) also attacks the ball effectively, causing Clausen to turf it. (Cover +2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-20, 6 min 3rd Q. Big stop after a long KO return from ND.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O4||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Cissoko||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Who's surprised by this call? No one. Roh's held in the endzone, but no call, and Cissoko is running with Tate along the sideline, looking for the ball. It falls incomplete, and the guy staring right at it says incomplete. Five seconds later the back judge, who was 30 yards away, throws a flag. This is super ticky-tack, because Cissoko is arm-fighting with Tate. But I guess if you whine all day about it the backjudge gets misty. Results-based here (Cover -1, Cissoko -1)|
|O19||1||10||Ace Twin TE||4-3 under||Pass||PA Out||Williams||71 (Pen -10)|
|Lot of eight man fronts in this half. On this one, ND runs play action that sucks the entire linebacking corps way up, leaving Rudolph unbelievably wide open ten yards downfield with no one even near him (cover -3, -1 Ezeh, -1 Wiliams). Woolfolk(-2) then misses a tackle 40 yards downfield and gives him the rest. Holding brings it back, as Young locked his arms into Roh's and wrestled him to the ground with another hand outside his shoulder pad. “Pancake blocks” don't happen on pass protection. Roh gets a +1. (Pressure +1)|
|O9||1||20||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||PA Out||Cissoko||12|
|I still fail to see why the coverage is shaded towards Warren all day and Cissoko is just left to rot against Floyd. This is way open but it's hard to blame a guy on an island with Mike Floyd. (Cover -1)|
|O21||2||8||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Bubble screen||Inc|
|Dropped by Kamara. It seems like Woolfolk(+1) reacted quickly and would hold this down anyway. (Cover +1)|
|O21||3||8||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Throwaway||Graham||Inc|
|Wow, Michigan loads up and sends seven(!), which gets Graham(+1), through unblocked (pressure +2) and Clausen, as always, just chucks it.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-20, 2 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Bubble screen||Woolfolk||6|
|Woolfolk(+0.5) reacts immediately, takes a blocker, and bounces off to tackle but Warren(-0.5) seems to react much more slowly, allowing Kamara five instead of just a couple.|
|O26||2||4||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Mouton||5|
|Excellent push from Martin(+0.5) and Graham(+0.5) forces a cutback but Mouton(-1) is tardy, and gets blocked downfield and cannot help Roh, who's crashing down from the backside to tackle. With nothing from the linebackers, everyone falls forward.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Deep hitch||Graham||Inc|
|Graham(+1), finally single-blocked, smokes the RT and hits Clausen as he's throwing (pressure +1) to Tate, blanketed by Warren(+1, cover +1)|
|Michigan sends five; their big halftime adjustment to this point is to get more aggressive. Ezeh(+0.5) eventually splits two blockers and forces Clausen to launch at Tate, covered by Warren(+1), who recovers and rakes the ball away. This is not a drop. It's a PBU. (Cover +1)|
|O31||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Dig||--||14|
|Argh backing out into a zone and rushing three here. Clausen, accordingly, has all day (pressure -2) and can even roll out at a leisurely pace and find Floyd cutting across the field. I absolutely do not understand a call like this when you can hardly stop these guys except when you get pressure. If you're worried about a screen leave a spy in. Mouton(-1) vacated his zone, opening up the throw.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Slant||Woolfolk||12|
|Kovacs is in the game now... they never showed Williams go out, but he will play the rest of the fourth quarter. This was thrown in front of Woolfolk(-1, cover -1), and neither he or Ezeh can tackle immediately, giving up another five.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Slant||Cissoko||Inc|
|This appears to be on Floyd for being a wuss, as Michigan drops Mouton into a zone over the slant and he just pulls up on it instead of take a chance of getting lit up. As a result, it goes directly to Cissoko, who drops it. I won't minus him but here's a stern look. (Cover +1)|
|M43||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||30 front||Penalty||Delay||--||-5|
|This batty formation with Ezeh at safety depth, but it's delay of game.|
|M48||2||15||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Comeback||Cissoko||10|
|Well-executed in front of Cissoko and behind Herron in what looks like zone. (Cover -1) This is the “headless Graham” play, which does not get flagged. CONSPIRACY|
|M38||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Pitch sweep||Mouton||6|
|Michigan appears to be blitzing Ezeh away from the direction of the play, which makes this tough to stop. But what is Mouton(-1) doing? He's flowing down the line and is determined to get outside when he's the only linebacker to the inside and this is a third and five. So he cedes ground voluntarily, actually ending up seven yards downfield, before finally cutting up when he sees that Graham(+0.5) has forced a cut up. Martin tackles from behind but again: with no linebacker help the tailback just heads forward. This has been a constant theme over the last two weeks.|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Cissoko||Inc|
|Just a straight fly Cissoko(-2, cover -2) gets smoked on. Tate catches it but it pops out when he hits the ground for an incompletion. Roh(+1) would have gotten to Clausen on the backside if not for the LT holding him around the corner. On replay it looks like Cissoko may have had some small impact on the drop so I'll bump him up to -1, -1.|
|M32||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||30 front||Pass||Hitch||Cissoko||8|
|Easy pitch and catch in front of that guy again(cover -1, Cissoko -1), and this time it's not even one of the big stars, it's a freshman. Blitz came but Clausen was clean (pressure -1)|
|M24||3||2||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Delay||Roh||2|
|This is actually a play from Ezeh(+2), who slashes up into the backfield, takes on the outside shoulder of a blocker, and delays Allen, almost tackling him for loss. He gets no help, though, with Roh(-1) blasted off the ball and Cissoko in press against Floyd, and Allen manages to get the corner... sort of. He's pushed OOB about a half yard shy of the first.|
|M22||4||In||Ace||4-3 under||Run||QB sneak||--||1|
|They get it.|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Cissoko||21|
|All, all, all day as Michigan rushes three and drops a couple DEs, including Graham, into coverage. Doesn't matter. Tate gets Cissoko to turn his hips and then breaks off a hitch just past the sticks; Cissoko recovers and actually makes his best break on the ball of the day, coming an inch away from getting a PBU. He doesn't, and he doesn't make a tackle, and Tate walks into the endzone. (Cover -1, Cissoko -1.) Results-based charting but hey, at least he had a shot at it this time. Pressure -2, by the way.|
|M3||2pt||2pt||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Rollout flat||Brown||Inc|
|Allen is offset, which tips no run and indicates a rollout, which happens. Michigan covers everyone(+1) and Kovacs(+1!) zips through the line on a blitz, forcing Clausen to get rid of the ball earlier than he might otherwise. Pass is broken up. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (2pt failed), 31-26, 9 min 4th Q. At this point I just don't understand not blitzing the hell out of Clausen. He's just going to torch the secondary if no one gets to him and when someone's gotten to him he hasn't made one play. He just chucks it.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||TE out||Rudolph||8|
|Supposed to be a quick pass as ND chops all the linemen, and Rudolph comes open as ND high-lows a zone. (Cover -1)|
|M28||2||2||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Cissoko||Inc|
|Just chuckin' it deep on Cissoko again; this time he's actually got good position and can get himself between Floyd and his route, which he does... and then flagrantly bumps him, drawing a flag (-1, cover -1) that's deserved, then waved off because the throw was yards out of bounds. Michigan sent a blitz and this is another Jimmah chuck special. (Pressure +1)|
|M28||3||2||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Draw||Ezeh||3|
|Martin slices through the line and could be in line for a plus here but doesn't make his tackle attempt, or even slow Allen down, so nothing. Ezeh(+1), on the other hand, reads, sets up the downfield blocker, and then slashes past him to tackle, though not before Allen picks up a first. Good play; tough to stop a third and two run when you have six guys in the box.|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Cissoko||Inc|
|Blitz gets Ezeh through clean and Graham(+1) beats his guy. Jimmah: chuck. (Pressure +1). Cissoko is in good position (+1, cover +1); the ball drags Floyd out of the endzone with help from Cissoko. We should just be sending guys in waves.|
|M25||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Warren||8|
|Sending the house again (seven), no one clean through but Clausen has to fire quick. Warren(-1) gets turned and allows an eight-yard hitch(cover -1).|
|M17||3||2||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Graham||9|
|Graham(-2) does not maintain outside contain, moving inside and getting sealed by the ND LT, which provides a massive cutback lane no one can do anything about. Martin actually tracks him down from behind, saving a touchdown. For now.|
|M8||1||G||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||RVB||8|
|Same play flipped. RVB(-1) gets crushed out of the hole; Martin avoids a cut but cannot close down the hole because RVB's been so hammered and Ezeh(-1) just sort of waits for the play to come to him. It does. In the endzone.|
|M3||2pt||2pt||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Statue of liberty||--||3|
|Michigan is sending the house and just runs by it.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (2pt), 31-34, 5 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O16||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||Ezeh||13|
|Michigan draws up and blitzes from the string side of the field, away from where the run goes. Roh(-2) just sets up way too deep, giving Ezeh a choice between trying to fill a hole between he and RVB or bouncing outside; he picks inside and lets it bounce. Wrong answer(-1 Ezeh). Allen just jets outside for a first down. Roh is dragged to the ground on a hold... sort of.|
|O29||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||Zone stretch||RVB||0|
|RVB(+1) gets under Stewart and blows him back, forcing a cutback that's swarmed by Graham, Ezeh, and Kovacs. +0.5 for Ezeh for taking on a block and cutting off the gap; the other guys were pursuit.|
|O29||2||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Fly||Warren||Inc|
|Hey, that's a good idea. Warren(+2) running stride for stride with Tate, looks for the ball, and has an equal chance of getting this. (Cover +2). If this is interference, DBs have no right to the ball ever.|
|O29||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Cissoko||Inc|
|Bring the house and Clausen throws it wide. This one, I think, is on Jimmah. (Pressure +1) Cissoko(-1, cover -1) beat... on third and ten in this situation when you know Michigan is bringing the house. That's just dumb.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-34, 2 min 4th Q. Final play is academic and not charted.|
Wow, so you really want to start the UFR with a downer this week, eh?
It's time to get your pie-in-the-sky ideas about winning the conference out of your head, bolded alter-ego.
Who says I have those?
That bad, was it?
Yes, basically. I was hoping that the tape would show a huge array of awesome plays by Notre Dame that valiant Michigan defenders just could not stop because Tate and Floyd are future NFL receivers and Rudolph is awesome and so forth and so on. I didn't, really, especially in the run game, I just saw a ton of horrible play by Michigan.
Sounds like something you'd explain with a chart?
|Graham||12||3||9||Generous, IMO, since a few pluses came when he came free when Michigan sent the house, but he was the main source of pressure and was doubled on almost every play..|
|Heininger||-||0.5||-0.5||His play responsible for a big chunk of the negative pressures in the second half.|
|Roh||2||3||-1||Drew a key hold but mostly neutralized. Looked like a freshman.|
|Martin||2.5||-||2.5||Decent tracking down the run but zero pass rush.|
|Van Bergen||2.5||3||-0.5||Looked a lot like an out of position DE.|
|Sagesse||2||-||2||Actually did pretty well. I wonder if Michigan might think of moving Martin over and starting Sagesse? That would also give Graham a backup.|
|TOTAL||20||11.5||8.5||Seriously mitigated by the –8 pressure number; front four could not get to the QB. Poor overall performance.|
|Ezeh||5.5||14||-8.5||That is the biggest number in the minus column in UFR history.|
|Mouton||3||8||-5||Major regression from last year; often went into pass drops without bothering to see if it was a run.|
|Brown||4.5||4||0.5||One eyed man in the land of no tackles.|
|Demens||-||-||-||Don't think he played.|
|TOTAL||13||26||-13||An outright disaster.|
|Warren||8||1.5||6.5||Excellent day against tough customers. Good run support.|
|Cissoko||2||12||-10||The biggest negative day from a DB in UFR history.|
|Woolfolk||2||3.5||-1.5||Was not tested often with M in cover one much of the day.|
|TOTAL||13||19||-6||Warren, and then nothing, coverage to compound.|
|Pressure||11||19||-8||No pressure from front four, blitzes in second half got M its few stops.|
Recall that as you move away from the ball UFR tends towards negative numbers, so the worst position group on the day were the linebackers, who were a disaster, and that the DL's mildly positive performance is nothing to get excited about. No one other than Graham, Warren, and the rotating NT had anything approximating a decent day.
Aaaaaargh aaargh my eyes.
Words cannot describe how bad Obi Ezeh was in this game. It was a disaster, and this is a guy who's in his third year starting. Maybe the double switch of defensive coordinators has him behind the times for a third-year starter but that doesn't go much towards explaining a –8.5 that would have been worse if he hadn't been turned loose on a couple blitzes. Meanwhile, Jonas Mouton has been negative in both games so far after a promising finish to last year.
Is it Ezeh? Is it Mouton? A lack of depth? A scheme change? I know none of these things, but I look at Stevie Brown, who also switched positions and schemes, in his case more severely than either of the inside linebackers. He's doing okay. He came out of this game slightly positive, which made him the third-best player on the field. He is the property of Greg Robinson.
Mouton and Ezeh belong to Jay Hopson, and the inside backers are the only guys who belong to Jay Hopson, and they're playing terribly. As far as recruiting goes, Hopson got shut out of Mississippi last year and was the guy responsible for recruiting both defensive tackles who bolted on Signing Day. Michigan got shut out, and I don't recall any recruit mentioning Hopson this year. This blog's even got a tag about Mississippi because of it, and this year Michigan has shifted its focus away from all the places Hopson has connections. The number of kids they're recruiting in Mississippi is zero, and I can't recall anyone they're seriously involved with who's in the deep south.
Unless the two inside guys get radically better over the rest of the season, I wouldn't be surprised if Hopson was replaced.
Cissoko: the second coming of Markus Curry?
Man, he was bad, but on review I saw some of the things people were talking about. Michigan appeared to play field/boundary with Warren the boundary guy—ie, the guy who lines up to the short side of the field—and Cissoko the field guy. Then they shaded the safeties over Warren. So Warren got a good bit of help and Cissoko was often just one-on-one with death receivers.
This was really weird to me since Warren is the veteran at full health you'd expect to get stuck on an island and Cissoko the dinged n00b dwarf attempting to check Mike Floyd. That went horribly. And it can't be blamed entirely on Cissoko. But… yeah, it went horribly and there were flags and many, many completions and Cissoko looked like a guy who's going to get picked on all year. And there's nothing M can do about it, probably, with the corner depth as impossibly low as it is.
So this Sagesse guy is okay?
He hasn't seen much time but I have him down for +5 in that time with no minuses. Given the depth situation at DE and RVB's seeming inability to hold up—not surprising at 6'5" 270 something—doesn't it make sense to try Sagesse out as a starting NT and slide Martin over to the 3-tech? RVB can then back up the 3-tech and Graham. The line adds 30-40 pounds and doesn't have to roll out a walk-on when Graham needs a blow.
This is dependent on Sagesse's play not being a mirage based on small sample size, but he's looked at least functional to date, and as Will Campbell comes on line there will be some depth at DT.
Man you were wrong about Notre Dame, weren't you?
In some ways, yes. I underestimated how competent their offensive line was badly, and in retrospect expecting Notre Dame to forge ahead with I-form sets when Michigan basically can't go to a nickel and the starting fullback is out was idiotic. But, man, every time Clausen got the slightest bit of pressure he just chucked the ball, usually off his back foot, and never accurately. Future ND opponents should spy for screens and send the house again and again.
I do have some questions about what the hell Michigan was doing schematically. No help for Cissoko, a lot of cover one that made those fly routes available, erratic blitzing that didn't really get in gear until the second half… at least they adjusted somewhat, but I think Robinson had a subpar game. Not that he was working with gold here.
Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren performed like the 1st or 2nd round NFL draft picks they're likely to be. After two games you should feel free to upgrade your opinion of Warren to near-lockdown corner. Brandon Graham should remain Brandon Graham in your estimation.
Basically everyone else. But Ezeh, Cissoko, and Mouton come in for special approbation.
What does it mean for Eastern Michigan and the future?
This is not a good defense even at full health. I don't think anyone on the schedule will be able to take advantage of its specific deficiencies quite as easily as Notre Dame did, but much of ND's day was just easy. The lack of depth on the defensive line will be a constant problem as Michigan will be rotating to walk-ons and poor replacements. The inside linebackers look completely lost. And power running teams are probably going to be able to blast Michigan off the ball. And I don't think Cissoko is any good, injured shoulder or not.
Michigan had better hope that Notre Dame's defensive line has gone from subpar to outstanding with the OL coach switch, because if the DL's performance looks more like the ND game than the Western game going forward Michigan is going to be in a lot of shootouts.
Apologies for the delay and the brevity. A software issue resulted in my first go-round at this week's update being wiped out. All updates can be found on the Recruiting Board.
Aramide Olaniyan, Come on Down?
“I really had an amazing visit,” Olaniyan said. “The game exceeded my expectations a lot. The whole game, the fans were alive and I would say I’ve never been to an environment like that until (Saturday). I had an awesome time.”
It's not a certainty at this point, but it sounds like a Duke decommitment may be in the cards, eventually. Olaniyan's visit was just an unofficial, and he plans to make it back to Ann Arbor this winter. Keep an eye on Olaniyan.
Though he's a Stanford commit, there was some talk of FL OL Torrian Wilson taking other visits. The rumors have died down, and it might be about time to remove Torrian from the board. I'll give him another week or so.
OH S Latwan Anderson has finally received the Ohio State offer he'd been coveting, and that seems to mean bad news for the Wolverines.
With that, Anderson’s list is likely complete. He has stated his list of final schools consist of West Virginia, Georgia, Cincinnati, Miami (FL), Florida and Ohio St. A notable team missing from this final list that was on it before is the University of Michigan.
Michigan State got the same treatment, for what it's worth. They had been considered among his favorites. It appears as though Anderson is nearly off the table for Michigan.
CT LB Khairi Fortt has a top 3 of Penn State, Georgia, and North Carolina, and will decide within the next couple weeks. That doesn't bode well for Michigan, since he hasn't taken a campus visit. It's highly unlikely he'll end up in Ann Arbor now, and will probably go to UGa or Penn State.
A definitive happy trails to MD FB Zach Zwinak, who committed to Penn State.
NC QB Christian Lemay has apparently been offered by Michigan, but only if you go by the photo, not the text:
Starting with the first, they included Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Tennessee, East Carolina and Maryland.
Uh, there's pretty clearly a "University of Michigan" envelope on that table, but whatever. By the way, you get your BOOM, TATER'D on, Mr. Lemay.
MI LB Lawrence Thomas has not received a Michigan offer, which is odd, considering he's a top-2 in-state prospect, along with DeAnthony Arnett. His coaches sent Michigan some game film, so there's a chance Michigan might be able to get in on him. He currently favors Michigan State, in part because Renaissance has sent a bunch of kids there in the past couple classes.
NC DT Gabe King is still considering Michigan ($, info in header). MN DT Beau Allen has received a Michigan offer and will consider the Wolverines. Michigan target (who they aren't landing, by the way) CA RB Anthony Barr will miss his senior season with an injury.
|2||Southern Cal (13)||23.3||1.4||1|
It brings a tear to my eye. I had to remove Straight Bangin' from the poll last year ago when the huge number of blogs focused on Michigan football made keeping a vaguely M-affiliated blog mostly about the Knicks and rap infeasible, but today he'd be able to under-vote Michigan again. Woo. And since his beef was with Carr's style of coaching, he might not even.
The rest of the thing at CBS Sports, as per usual. After the jump, this blog's final ballot from Tim.
It's tiny and it's in the corner but it's something. (Via MVictors.)
ISO. I'm looking for an iPhone programmer for a startup project. Email me if you're interested.
WHOAH. Yes Forcier woo but hold on just a dang minute here:
It's only two games, but you would not be completely unreasonable to start worrying about Michigan as Penn State's main competition in the conference.
That's Black Shoe Diaries, and yes it would be completely unreasonable. A
five three-point loss to USC does not destroy Ohio State's status as a team that doesn't run out walk-ons on defense. Let's keep the increased expectations at the Alamo/Outback level, plz, lest Michigan failing to hit the BCS this year is cause for another round of "I'm not saying Michigan should fire Rich Rodriguez, but did you know he uses babies as fuel for his Hummer?" stories. This team still has huge problems on defense and the offense is currently held together by Forcier's insane magic, something that's probably going to lose Michigan a game or two when the freshman in Forcier bites back.
Also from that post halol:
If there's one thing Penn State and Michigan fans can get together on, it's Terrelle Pryor schadenfreude.
Quick kickin'. Tate Forcier's quick kick ended up downed at the four and it sounds like Michigan will be inclined to use it in similar situations in the future:
Forcier, Michigan's true freshman quarterback, doubled as a punter (and defensive back) for his high school team in California, and Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez said Forcier worked occasionally on the skill during fall camp.
"He's very good at it," Rodriguez said.
Later in that article Rodriguez points out he won't call that on third down, which uh thanks for that clarification. Shades of Brian Griese and a much better alternative than Carr's well-loved fake-FG punt that hardly worked and often saw teams put a returner back anyway. Michigan hurrying to the line and threatening to go for it means no one can get back lest a fake happen.
Rising. I always like it when the assessments I make in UFR are echoed by other people, as it makes me think I'm not totally bats in said assessments. So here's a rising guy for the NFL draft after two games:
Donovan Warren/CB/Michigan: Warren, the Wolverines well-sized cornerback, seems to have his game back on track after a disappointing sophomore campaign. He broke up three passes during the victory over Notre Dame and was forceful helping to stop the run. The junior's game comes with a great amount of upside potential and should Warren consistently play at a high level, he will eventually move into the draft's initial 45 selections.
That would be just about perfect: an excellent season, a mid-second round rating, and a reason to come back to school.
What in the hell? Deadspin's gone downhill ever since Leitch (mostly) left but I didn't know they'd turned into an LSU message board:
Have you ever been to Auburn? No? Well, I have, and IT SUCKS! Which is why, in order to "attract" recruits, the program has to dispatch its illiterate boosters to harass the nation's top prep talent into signing with them.
I have been to Auburn, and I can say confidently that it sucks far less than "The Cajun Boy" and his post. Don't they pay people to write there? I don't understand.
Point of clarification. The Only Colors took some exception to gentle—you might say brotherly—ribbing at the bottom of Monday's game column:
1. To me, this [the press box announcer stating that the MSU-CMU score was an exception to "no cheering in the press box"] is a hell of a lot less defensible than MSU fans cheering on the HORROR. (That video, of course, being one which Michigan fans have alternately whined about and made fun of for two years now.) Fans aren't supposed to maintain any pretense of objectivity …
First, this isn't about defensible or not. What we are talking about here is talking, and the worst of it rises to "ha you lost." This blog has always been wildly in favor of press conference trash-talking from anyone from the pope on down. The whole "moment of silence/little brother/Mike Hart is short/pride comes before the fall" sequence was awesome. It raised the stakes in the rivalry to the point that OSU fans entering a tailspin of self-doubt, regret, and pining for Tate Forcier was only my third favorite thing that happened over the weekend. In no way do I disapprove of Dantonio taunting Mike Hart. In that spirit, press box announcer trash-talk adds fuel to the fire. Fuel is good until Ned gets involved.
Second, I don't know what he's referring to about the fans. I've never seen Michigan fans suggest State fans shouldn't enjoy The Horror—maybe the occasional dig at brahs wearing App St gear around, which is sad. But "pride comes before the fall" and "should we have a moment of silence?" are direct quotes from the head man and definitely deserve comeuppance mocking.
2. For our purposes, I'll assume that Freep writers weren't among those cheering. Still, how exactly does this square with the Michigan-fan meme/persecution complex that the lolmsm has effectively become an arm of the MSU athletic department?
I think that's restricted to the Free Press, FWIW. Also, the Michigan press box is full of your Ebling and (lol) Spartanmag equivalents too; every press box is divided between aloof observers and homers.
In summation: I can't complain about Michigan fans playing the comeuppins' card, especially when my team choked as badly as they did on Saturday. But, playing that card also forfeits the high ground they've staked out for themselves, as Dex from WLA essentially admitted. Welcome to the muck.
What high ground? We mock you for being dunderheaded nitwits who can't get into the country club, you accuse us of never getting laid. It's the circle of life. It's a circle.
Falcon punch? Jonas Mouton got a little pop on one of ND's offensive linemen on Saturday:
This is really weird. It looks like a punch, but on the complete tape Mouton just jogs away after it and in the second or two before the camera angle cuts the ND OL appears to get up like nothing happened. Contrast that to the reaction when Greg Mathews kicked an Oregon player. Slightly different. If there'd been any problems afterwards I'd think you'd suspend the guy—though Mathews didn't get a game for a far more blatant case of poor sportsmanship, nor did that Wisconsin punt scrub who twisted Breaston's knee—but no one seems to have a problem with it except Charlie Weis. I might sit Mouton down anyway. That's not likely if Robert Reynolds got all of a game for choking out Jim Sorgi.
Etc.: Old timers will remember unofficial MGoBlog editorial cartoonist Joel A Morgan; he's taken his stuff to Mustaches with Michigan. MfM wasn't just a one-off, by the way. They're around for the long haul. Michigan Monday is always more entertaining when we're not awful. LSUFreek tackles last weekend's game.
Apparently it's ND Nation week on MGoBlog. Eh.
This is, without question, a first:
I was there too, with a UM friend of mine. He was at the UM game against WMU the weekend before, and he said the music was not played that weekend. In fact, he said he's never heard music played at any Michigan home game. Yesterday was his first ND/Michigan game in the Big House. Maybe it's just something they do for us. Wouldn't surprise me.
We both thought it was bulls---. With those new press box/fan suite things they've built at the top of the stadium, that place got really loud. The Eminem songs only made it worse.
I guess that's why they call it home field advantage.
Leaving aside this guy's probably-fictional Michigan friend who went to the Western game and didn't notice the RAWK MUSIC, this is an opposing fan complaining about the noise level in the stadium. Even if this is just more complaining to complain, it's still a 180 from the usual laughter at the 110,000 quietest people in America or whatever. As a group of people naturally inclined to laugh at all things Michigan, statements like this are as close to proof as you're ever going to get about the effect of the new boxes:
I thought the place seemed so much more intimidating
by BigEND (2009-09-13 21:09:28)
with the skyboxes there. It was louder and felt like you were really in a "big house". I still can't understand why so many people complained when the plan was originally announced. That stadium will be 10 times better with those boxes finished.
You and me both, BigEND. Meanwhile, email from people who would know confirms the third-party impressions:
I attended the WMU game with siblings who are recent graduates and former band members. The word they got from contacts still in the band is that the on-the-field noise is significantly louder, even if it doesn't seem so to the layman sitting in the 67th row.
Without having any sort of technical knowledge, my guess is that the new structures are aiming sound back into the bowl. Clearly not all of it, but enough to make it louder the deeper you are inside. (That's what she said?)
So, it might not seem much louder to us, but clearly LOUDER FIELD > LOUDER STANDS from a competitive standpoint. In other words, my screaming is more directly helping Brandon Graham to murderfy Jimmah this weekend.
And this was just for Western. The initial take, then, appears to be that the optimistic projections this blog's scoffed at more than once are basically accurate. The luxury boxes are a huge aid to the noise on the field to the point where complaint-inclined opposing fans focus on it. This is a major win.
So, then, the other matter at hand. Last week everyone had a little conniption fit and I posted a poll about whether piped-in music should be slain out of hand or not. The results:
Of the 75% who care, respondents were evenly split between pro-and-con, but the con side was more strongly opposed. This was shocking to me, but I guess this blog's readership skews away from bluehairs. I also have one main explanation: it's the band's fault. Multiple band members have sent in emails about the shift in the MMB's focus over the last ten or so years, and 90% are along these lines:
I was in the band for the last few years of Professor Nix's turn at the helm, from 2003-2007*, and I would say that there was plenty of "blame" to spread around for the quieter band. During my years, we frowned upon bands like Notre Dame's that would sacrifice precision for loudness. I believe most of us felt this way, and while it's reasonable to say this mentality started at the top, which would mean Professor Haithcock, I think Professor Nix and his appreciation for the newer, drum corp influenced style of a marching ensemble was the biggest factor. And now, with Director Boerma, who also has strong drum corp ties, I'm sure that influence is just as strong or stronger. But, Haithcock did hire them, so we can just blame him.
I've got other emails claiming Nix was a huge proponent of loud and that Haithcock asked about making the band louder and etc etc etc and I don't care about who is at fault for what, all I know is that the main reason that poll above came out the way it did is because the band is not doing its job. Saturday I could barely make out the Victors on any of Michigan's touchdowns. About the only thing I heard at halftime was the drum corps. I've gotten plenty of complaints from kids in the student section who say they can barely hear the band and it's 30 rows away from them.
This does not have to be the case. I vividly remember going down to Auburn last year. I sat in the upper deck on the 40; the LSU band was stuck in the corner of the opposite endzone, and I could hear them loud and clear. They were blasting it. Auburn's band was also louder than the MMB. Click the link and see where we were, man… we were in orbit around a football game.
And then there's the SWAC:
That's Southern University making a strong argument for Michigan scheduling a SWAC school, any SWAC school, the next time it reaches into the I-AA ranks for an opponent.
What's the point of a marching band? To be audible outside in a stadium of 110,000. If you want musicality, there are a dozen other bands on campus you can join. Scott Boerma and his superiors are completely missing the point, and if the band is being marginalized on gameday it is entirely their fault. Personally, I hate it. I want the band to be awesome and wish piped-in music would die a fiery death. But when "Lose Yourself" gets vastly more reaction than anything you do and large sections of the stadium can't hear you at all, that's on you. What the hell is the point of a piccolo when the only people who can hear it are the ones playing it? Have you ever thought about the poor schmucks in section 16 who have never once heard The Victors after a touchdown? Think of the children, and do this:
On the band: I used to play clarinet in the Ann Arbor Huron marching band. (Why? Beats me. I should have learned how to play guitar like Slash instead.) Clarinet, while fine inside, is a waste of time outside. It cannot be heard. Ditto the flute and the piccolo.
What the MMB needs to do is (1) get rid of all the clarinets, flutes and piccolos, and (2) add 150-200 more trumpets and trombones. Made the band bigger, and sacrifice a measure of technical proficiency (which 98% of the crowd wouldn't notice) in exchange for a big ol' Wall of Sound.
Or something. Your prime directive should be loud; if it's not no one can help you fight your slide into irrelevance.
PS: and dammit the hockey band director should dance, you communists.
I addressed a couple of the Notre Dame officiating complaints after the game in yesterday's UV but didn't get around to the big one (other than what I'm pretty sure will be specious complaint about the holding call on Rudolph's screen touchdown, as I've seen a number of Michigan DL hogtied in the first half already). That would be the overturn of Armando Allen's screen touchdown, which was… you know… correct:
Notre Dame fans are accusing Big Ten referees of bias because they did not call Allen out of bounds despite the fact he was, and they are complaining that the video review made a correct call. This may be the most very special instance of internet Notre Dame mentality ever.
The argument here relies on the idea that the review was "inconclusive" given the replays shown on the TV, but those things are not necessarily the same things the replay guy sees. If we are parsing the shadows and whatnot—some Notre Dame fans see that picture and suggest that Allen's heel is not out of bounds—then we're back to semantics. What is "voluntary"? What is "conclusive"? If I close my eyes, does the universe cease existing?
The call was correct. You are not allowed to complain about a referee getting something right. That's not how complaints work.
Brian, when was the last time that Michigan won and all 3 of our traditional rivals lost (like on Saturday)? Has this ever happened?
The answer to this can be found about 15 minutes deep into yesterday's podcast. Mwa ha ha.
Okay: Jamiemac did the research and the last time this happened was October 2nd, 2004.
- Michigan blew out Indiana 35-14.
- Ohio State lost in overtime to Northwestern 33-27.
- Michigan State got smoked by Iowa 38-16.
- And Notre Dame got annihilated by Purdue 41-16.
I'll take Saturday over those results easy. We also brought this up on the podcast: this sort of event needs a name so we can refer to [NAME] I, [NAME] II, and so on with Saturday marking the AFL-NFL merger, as it were. If we want we can count backwards from there and let the 2004 event be 0—it predates the blog—and any previous be negative. But we need a name. MGoMinions, you have your charge.
On that play at the end of the game when Clausen went deep on 2nd and 10 against Warren, I am pretty confident that the fly pattern was not called from the huddle. I think Weis probably had a much more conservative play called (like a hitch or quick out or comeback on the sideline) but as soon as Warren rolled up into press-man, the WR and the QB automatically know that the WR is going to run a jet. So, while I agree 100% that Weis should have run the ball on second - or at least gone away from Warren, who was in his guy's shirt on all but two plays - I don't think he called for the Home Run.
What a game for tons of recruits to attend, btw. Perfect.
Whoah: I've been arguing that throwing the ball on second and ten is a good idea as long as it's not some crazy bomb. Just because Warren is in press coverage doesn't mean you can't get Rudolph open or slip Hughes out of the backfield or do any number of other things that don't involve a long sideline route against Donovan Warren. And you certainly don't let your QB check to a balls-to-the-wall call when going 35 is called for. Especially with timeouts you don't care about. Take one and get it right.
Aaaand now lets get to the emails that have flooded my mailbox about quarterbacks not named Tate Forcier:
I understand that we need to have two viable QBs b/c of the always possible (GOD-FORBID) chance of injury to the one, but what are the chances that we can utilize DR as a WR? If not this year, how about next year (When Gardner is here)? It seems that DR would burn almost everyone trying to cover him, if he has the ability to catch. Thanks!
This, or a variant of it, has been rampant speculation anywhere one Michigan fan can communicate to another: what do we do with a man who is made of dilithium now that we have all converted to the Church of Tate? In two words: I dunno.
This year you have to keep him at quarterback and work on his ability to play the position as extensively as possible. If Michigan's up 38 against Eastern all remaining offensive drives should be Robinson throwing every down. Establishing himself as a viable option at QB will make his cameos throughout the rest of the season more effective and provide Michigan some non-Sheridan depth at a position that really needs it. That's the rest of this year.
As for next year, and beyond… even that's tough. At this point I assume you dearly want to redshirt Devin Gardner (about whom more in a sec), which would be difficult if Robinson moved to another position. At the same time, you don't want Robinson wiling his time away on the bench; you probably want both Forcier and Robinson on the field.
How do you do that if Robinson's a quarterback? I think you play two quarterbacks. We saw a little bit of this in the last game when Forcier motioned out into the slot and Robinson basically became a wildcat QB; in the future, especially when Minor and Brown leave, I think you might see a good deal of both QBs in the same backfield, with Robinson acting as a sort of Percy Harvin jet ninja who actually throws several time a game. If it works really, really well it might be the base offense.
While we're on the topic, here's a prescient email from before the ND game:
After watching the Michigan-Western Michigan on Saturday, not only was I relieved by finally attending a win in the season-opener, but I was also intrigued by the possibilities of the two-quarterback system (not even going to say three-quarterback system, because that would mean DEATH). Tate and Denard reminded me of a very-poor man's version of Florida in 2006 with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. With Tate in the game the defense expects him to throw but he has a threat to run (Leak), and with Denard in the game the defense expects him to run with a smaller threat to throw (Tebow). This opens the door up for big plays with the defense cheating one way or the other. If Denard can get into the game around 20-25 plays per game, and can be semi-effective throwing the ball I think the ceiling for the offense is very high. Then again, we are talking about two freshmen, and it was only Western Michigan, but even the possibility that Michigan has two viable, complementary quarterbacks (that aren't last year's quarterbacks) got me excited for the rest of the season.
So, I was wondering what you think we can expect from the two-quarterback system for the rest of the year... and if this scheme is successful going forward, should we plan on this being the norm, or just a way to see which quarterback will separate himself from the other?
We all witness Forcier achieve separation last week but that does not mean Robinson, who should improve more rapidly than Forcier because he's farther away from his ceiling, won't get viable towards the end of the year. It's going to be very hard for opposing safeties to not come up when Robinson starts running around, and at some point this year he will pull up and hit someone running wide open. Against Notre Dame's blitz-mad offense in his second game, Robinson was not prepared. He'll be way more viable two months from now against mid-level Big Ten teams. Don't expect him to be as small a part of the offense going forward as he was against Notre Dame.
And now to Devin Gardner:
Has the success of Tate Forcier in the early going had any affect on the commitment of Devin Gardner?
U of M in TX
This is another question I've gotten a dozen times and can only really answer with "I don't know." But when Gardner committed he knew there were two freshman quarterbacks in front of him and that one of them would likely be an entrenched starter when he arrived. He's made several comments in the aftermath of his commitment to the effect of "I am a strong Michigan commitment," and yes everyone says that up until the point they don't but he can't say much else to reassure us and has made no motion that would indicate a soft commitment.
So I don't think so. And it's not like the situation anywhere local is much better. Ohio State snubbed him in favor of Montana's kid and with "Lebron in Cleats" looking decidedly un-Lebron he'd have to wait for two years behind Pryor anyway, and given the quarterback depth at Ohio State (virtually none) a redshirt might not be possible. And no other major local program is spread friendly except Penn State, which already has Kevin Newsome, Paul Jones, and Robert Bolden in the last two classes.