Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
|Last week's ballot|
Not a lot of change near the very top. Ohio State is a big mover on the basis of their victory over Iowa. I may have punished the Hawkeyes a bit too much, but I think the loss to Northwestern (at home) should have been punished a little more harshly. Of course, now there's the matter of Ohio State's home loss to USC looking much, much worse.
The biggest riser in the poll is Stanford. Despite their bad loss to Wake, they have two of the most impressive wins in the country, beating the crap out of a top-10 team and a top-20 team in consecutive weeks.
LSU confirmed my skepticism of them, squeaking by Louisiana Tech in a game that wasn't really decided until well into the fourth quarter.
I kinda think Texas Tech should drop out, but that raises the familiar problem of finding a team to plug in. Might Navy be that team? Their only losses are to Ohio State, Pitt, and... uh... Temple. But wait! Temple is actually kinda good this year! It is a mystery. I'm open for suggestions on what to do towards the end, always.
Comments on anything and everything in the ballot are welcome.
Michigan (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
When a college basketball player scores a triple-double, it's likely his team had a pretty good game. When he does it after 29 minutes of play, and is able to take to the bench for significant garbage time, it's guaranteed. Manny Harris did just that, recording only the second triple-double in Michigan basketball history last night in the Wolverines' 97-50 romp over D-2 Northern Michigan. He finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Just about the only thing that made Wolverine fans unhappy was Beilein's decision not to go for the century mark in the final minute.
For much of the game, it seemed like the offense wasn't running that smoothly, and the majority of Michigan's points were coming in fast break situations (or only shortly thereafter). There are a number of things that probably factor into this: freshmen getting used to the pace of an actual game in college, including one at point guard; overmatched opponent didn't require running too much of the offense; early season jitters. I think the jitters may have played a role, as the team started sketchy from the line, with Manny Harris missing one, and LLP and Anthony Wright each having a bad miss. They settled down from the stripe as the game went on, and the team missed just one freebie in the second half.
Freshman Matt Vogrich showed he can shoot the hell out of the ball, making all 5 of his shot attempts, each of them from behind the arc. Zack Novak, on the other hand, was unable to continue his hot streak from the last game, missing on both of his 3-balls. DeShawn Sims led all scorers with 22 points. Zack Gibson is still good for a couple really athletic plays per game and a couple awkward ones, including having a guard rip a rebound out of his hands. I still don't like Anthony Wright as a useful piece of this team. He misses 100% of the shots he doesn't take... and nearly all the ones that he does take. Sure, he can get hot at times (see: NCAA Tournament game against Oklahoma), but that's the exception, not the rule.
Other personnel notes: Laval Lucas-Perry didn't score a lot, but did a pretty good job running the point when he was asked to do so. A host of walkons got in at the end of the game (Akunne, Bartelstein, Puls, and Person), and they played with Ben Cronin. After the game, Beilein said that he would have liked Cronin to get a bit more time, but he has a hand injury (his right hand was heavily taped during the game) that limits him from shooting or catching the ball. That injury should be fine by Friday.
The defensive intensity looked really good to start the game, and the players were being really aggressive in the zone. I can see why it's so helpful to have a 6-4 guy at the top of the zone, rather than somebody who's generously listed at 6-0. There were instances where the team was able to trap Northern's players, but they didn't actually record too many turnovers. As the game wore on and it became apparent that the Wildcats wouldn't be posing a serious threat, the intensity cooled off a bit, and I think there might have even been more reliance on man defenses, though I haven't re-watched the game to confirm.
- "They told me I had three assists to get [the triple double] and that's when I knew and I kinda counted from there." Manny Harris, on whether he knew he was approaching the triple-double.
- "I think anybody could get 10 assists, because we shoot the ball so well." Manny Harris.
- "He'll probably miss one or two [in practice], but we know he can shoot." Manny Harris on Matt Vogrich's shooting performance. "Class of 2013 right there. I was real happy for him. He's a shooter and I think he proved that out there today. I think you guys will be seeing a lot more of that from him." Darius Morris on Vogrich's performance.
- "For Manny to go out there and make plays, that's what he does: he's a playmaker." Darius Morris on Manny Harris's triple-double.
- "He trusts these shooters, and he relishes the assists as much as he does the points." John Beilein on Manny Harris's performance.
- "I like Stu coming in at that 13-minutes mark, because he's got that arm warmed up and ready to roll." John Beilein on bringing Stu Douglass off the bench.
- "I think he'll be fine by next weekend but he can't shoot right now and catch right now because his right hand still bothers him." John Beilein on Ben Cronin's injury.
- "Our defense has to improve, and I thought this was a good start today. Tomorrow when we watch film, there will be 50 or 60 cuts, and we'll spend an hour in there telling them what we gotta do better." John Beilein on the team's defense.
Michigan takes on Houston Baptist (0-2) Friday at 7 in Crisler Arena, available online at BigTenNetwork.com. The Huskies have another game before they head to Ann Arbor, taking on Rice tonight. Full preview of the game as it approaches.
Henri the Otter of Ennui is the new mascot of posting restrictions.
Post-Illinois restrictions back: 20 to comment, 500 to start new threads/diaries. Will be in effect until Monday morning.
Justification I probably don't need to provide: seriously dislike new registrants who sign up just to flame and would rather proactively cut them off than have to read it. Criticism is fine from people who have established themselves as part of the community.
Rounding up the week's best in user-created content.
A little off the wall choice for the diarist of the week. Captain Obvious writes an awesome set of lyrics about the state of Michigan's football team:
It's a punt block when it's already too late
It's a no-punting sign on your Space Emperor's leg
It's like ten thousand Slots when you need is a MIKE
It's meeting the Center of my dreams
And then meeting his shredded up knee
And isn't it ironic... don't you think
A little too ironic... and yeah I really do think...
It's like rain on Homecoming Day
It's a blown punt when you've already faked
It's the three points that you just couldn't take
Who would've thought ... it figures
Congratulations, Captain Obvious, you are the Diarist of the Week.
michelin looks at similarities between the overall trajectories of the Notre Dame and Michigan football programs.
The promising thing is that, unlike ND, UM has more, not less, starters coming back for the next two years. Clearly, it’s way too early to tell—as Brian has intimated today—but I can't help worrying that we might end up like ND if we keep getting rid of coaches before they can build their program.
I think at this point, there's no (rational) fan calling for Rich Rodriguez to be fired at least until the end of next year, so this overall worry may not be an issue. I still recommend clicking through because lolnd.
On a similar note, Brady2Terrell looks at the 47 coaches who have started their Big Ten coaching careers with 2 consecutive losing seasons:
*5 (10.6%) have won even a single Big Ten title;
*5 (10.6%) have finished their tenure with even a winning record;
*2 (4.3%) have won at least one Big Ten title AND finished with a winning record; and
*0 have won national titles.
The numbers aren't pretty, but there's still hope ahead for Michigan fans. Like he says, it's not that we're screwed, it's that we're in uncharted territory here. A positive comparison would likely require winning one or both of the last two games. Hey, then Rich can be like... Jackie Sherrill?
TAMU was 5-5 going into its final game at Texas, which was playing for the SWC Title. TAMU blew out the Horns in Austin, something like 38-12, sending the Horns to one of those nondefunct bowls. The 6-5 record wasn't good enough for a bowl game in those days (unless you were ND or UM) so TAMU stayed home but the win in Austin took all of the heat off of Sherrill.
TAMU went on to win 3 consecutive SWC titles in 85-86-87 and beat Texas each year. Sherrill had finally "arrived" at a school where Football is king over the other sports.
Let's hear it for positivity!
The week started off with some seriously emo posts following the Purdue loss. Geaux_Blue said:
I guess why I made this diary is simple. For those of us All In, the road is narrow and uphill. The likelihood is 5-7 and the off-season is going to be months of looking at checkbooks and wondering "why did I spend $50 to drink at the bar and watch non-Siller shred us in November." This is difficult and not even close to the experience of overcoming kneeshoulderelbowhead like Forcier or any player is facing. But the fanbase has its own wounds. And they're licked (that's what she said).
A rational take for the fanbase that continues to support Michigan.
Lordfoul sums up what we know coming out of the Purdue game. In condensed form:
- Michigan has the worst defense in the B10.
- The offense continues to improve.
- This confluence of probabilities is not favorable for the current coaching staff. Michigan is known for giving its coaches time and not being hasty in firings. That said this situation may not right itself in time to save Rich Rod and friends even given the extra slack.
- I would put it at at least improbable that we will win either of our last two games this season.
- Danny Hope is an asshole.
I disagree with point #3. Dude, there's no way Rich gets fired after two years, and a (highly likely) bowl game is probably enough progress to save his hide for another year. He may get fired after that, but it wouldn't be because there wasn't enough time, it would be because he was given enough time and failed.
hekdchi looks at what has improved between year 1 and year 2 of the Rodriguez era:
This entry will list the raw numbers of Michigan's 2008 season versus the 2009 season thus far to demonstrate where the team has and has not improved in the Rich Rodriguez era.
Hint: offense good, defense bad. This is probably not terribly surprising to anyone. Of note is that the defense is giving up fewer points than last year, and has improved in a couple other categories (though slightly). Expanding on that idea is clarkiefromcanada, who takes umbrage with the use of the term "regression":
Like all of you I am totally frustrated with how this is working out this year; however, I am sick and tired of the naysayers, trolls and newbie idiots posting the exact same material on "regression".
Amen. Especially since it's totally fair to expect a defense that lost half of its starters will get a little worse. Speaking of losing all those starters, Misopogon gives a handy graphical representation of his stellar "Decimated Defense" series. There are kittens involved. Jokewood also shows that even the sheer numbers, especially of upperclassmen, are a sign that Michigan isn't going to be a great defense:
The rest of the Big Ten averages 50% more upperclassmen on defense. We are dead last in the conference by a wide margin in terms of experienced defensive players. Purdue and Notre Dame - the two teams closest in terms of youth - also have terrible defenses, against which Michigan averaged 35 ppg this year.
It may be a while before the numbers are worked out, too.
Steve Sharik's awesome X-and-O post was frontpaged; you're probably familiar with it.
Familiarize yourselves with the veer, fools.
Etc.: Wolverine in Exile runs down the BCS rankings. 909Dewey talks about expectations for Rich Rodriguez coming in, how they've shifted, and how he's living up to them. stubob previews the ugly games of the week. The Mathlete looks at the Purdue game by the numbers. I recommend you stop reading before you get to pass defense. The man... the myth... THE_KNOWLEDGE predicts coaching changes.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Northern Michigan|
November 13th, 2009
|THE LINE||No line, junkie|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
Year 3 of the John Beilein era gets off to its official start Saturday at 7 as Michigan takes on the Wildcats of Northern Michigan in Crisler Arena. Though he's been a coach for over three decades, Beilein still feels butterflies heading into the year. "My gut feels the same... You're excited about it, and at the same time there's nervous energy."
If everything goes according to plan, the Wildcats will provide little competition. Instead, it should be an opportunity to get the kinks worked out, and a rotation established, before Houston Baptist comes to town next Friday—and hopefully even that is just a tune-up for the Old Spice Classic. The game against Northern will count as a win in the record books, but doesn't have an effect on Michigan's final RPI.
Manny Harris is still not 100%, though he's finally practicing in full with the team. Jordan Morgan has yet to hit the court with his teammates, though it should come soon. He and Blake McLimans will be kept on a redshirt track until the team absolutely needs them, in hopes that it never does.
A number of players are looking to improve their versatility. "I'm here to do what Coach Beilein needs me to do," says Laval Lucas-Perry, "I think I'm a little bit of both: point guard and a shooting guard." Darius Morris needs to learn when to simply go to the bucket, instead of setting up an offensive play (he also needs a winter coat). "As a point guard, you have to know when it's your opportunity to go out there and be a scorer... when you have to make that extra pass or go straight to the basket," Morris said. Stu Douglass is learning that sometimes it's OK to just trust his shot, even when running the point.
The rebounding and three-point defense continue to be issues, as they probably will be throughout the John Beilein era, though not to the extent they were last year. "The zone, at times, will give up a higher percentage than we'd like to, but it also creates turnovers," says Beilein. The team size will improve over last year, hopefully fixing some of those issues.
This team is still very much a work in progress. But isn't it fun to be able to enjoy the process?
As discussed in yesterday's non-conference roundup, Northern is, like, not very good. Against D-2 competition, they were below .500. They split the season series with Wayne State, a team that gave Michigan a comfortable victory in their exhibition last week. This is the Wildcats' first game of the season, in the largest arena they'll visit all year. They placed nobody on the pre-season all-conference squads.
Their players to watch are guards Marc Renelique and Raymont McElroy. They were atop last year's squad in scoring, and McElroy is the three-point shooter. The Northern Michigan roster from their website has some differences from ESPN's website, so take any personnel notes with a grain of salt. Hopefully, it shouldn't be too relevant for this game.
No tempo-free breakdown for this game, as it's the first game of the year against a D-2 opponent. We'll see about Houston Baptist getting the statistical preview, but it should make its permanent debut for the Old Spice Classic.
UMHoops has a little more on the Wildcats and six questions going into the season, which makes Rothstein's five questions seem very sad and small and alone. AnnArbor.com has plenty of coverage; Morris and LLP are the point guards with Douglass a third option. Jay Bilas has gone from emotional problems to crazy Michigan homer. Also Dick Vitale said something I'm betting was annoying.
|WHAT||Michigan at #21 Wisconsin|
|WHERE||Camp Randall, Madison, WI|
November 13th, 2009
|THE LINE||Wisconsin –9*|
|TELEVISION||Nationwide on BTN
|WEATHER||Around 50, cloudy,
slight chance of rain
Run Offense vs. Wisconsin
The stats here are grim. Wisconsin may have gone up against a I-AA snackycake but it was a I-AA snackycake that runs the triple option and put up 214 yards on 55 carries: their 1-AA game actually distorts their run defense negatively. There are probably four teams in I-A that can say that.
In the Big Ten, rushing has been near pointless for opponents lately:
Michigan State fell behind big in that game, which helps explain how the meh Spartan rushing offense got 5.1 YPC and why they wouldn't go to it more than 20 times if they were picking yards up at such a good clip. Then you've got a decent performance by Minnesota, a good one by Ohio State, and three obliterations. Despite a ton of sacks—about which more later—Wisconsin's stats hold up under scrutiny. This is one of the best rushing defenses Michigan has played, with only Penn State and Michigan State(!)* anywhere in the statistical ballpark.
Michigan's rushing game never got untracked in a bizarrely short game against State, but the more recent outing against Penn State saw three separate rushers crack four yards per carry; erase five sacks for Penn State—about which more later—and Michigan finished the day with 138 yards on 34 carries, 4.1 yards per attempt. This was accomplished with a long run of 17 yards and without David Molk, so there aren't any factors that suggest Michigan won't be able to replicate that performance against the Badgers.
Well, there may be one: Michigan's senior tailbacks have come down with their usual array of minor injuries. According to Rodriguez, Brandon Minor was "day to day" earlier this week after re-emerging as the primary option against Purdue. He was almost entirely absent from the Illinois game. Carlos Brown, the primary guy against Illinois, was hampered with tendinitis against Purdue and saw one carry. Neither was on this week's injury report, but they weren't on the injury report either of the last two weeks. Either or both could be limited and we won't know until their mysterious absence lasts into the second quarter.
I'm expecting something similar to the Penn State game, where the rushing is effective but erratic enough that Michigan can't just pound it all day; a big play or two is a possibility but not a major one. Unless Michigan can get some pass blocking drives will be hard to sustain.
*(Seriously: MSU is 15th in rushing defense, which makes that game earlier this year far less weird.)
Key Matchup: Brandon Minor's ankle versus Everything Good And Holy.
Pass Offense vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin's been far more vulnerable here when Purdue receivers aren't making Danny Hope's mustache droop and opposing passers aren't arm-punting all day. Ben Chappell, who you will remember as a polished, entirely average sort of fellow:
If that looks familiar, Ben Chappell against Michigan:
I'll take any statistic that suggests the opponent's secondary is on par with Michigan's. Please.
The wider view isn't as kind but it does suggest some vulnerability: the Badgers are 65th in pass defense efficiency, and those numbers Wisconsin's stats are probably about right relative to how they've performed. The Purdue game may have been a break but Wisconsin scrubs also gave up two long aerial touchdown drives to Michigan State after that game had descended into garbage time.
The secondary is vulnerable. The problem will be getting to it. Magically delicious Badger defensive end O'Brien Schofield has seven sacks this year and the run stats above required serious extraction to separate the actual runs from the copious sacks Wisconsin has racked up. They're 27th nationally, and remember they basically did not have a I-AA game in this statistic. Michigan is 82nd in sacks allowed despite being 82nd in pass attempts: the pass protection has been really, really bad. Michigan's responded with rollouts and screens and crazy huge dropbacks from the shotgun, so they might be able to get around the pass protection issues by it's going to be a matter of mitigation.
Roy Roundtree might be key again. He was the bulk of the pass offense against Purdue and while Wisconsin will adjust to that, the slot receiver is a guy who will be open in seams and on bubble routes when linebackers are cheating to the run game and having a rangy, sure-handed target like Roundtree can provide Forcier with an array of quick options on which magically delicious defensive ends are spectators. Then the weakside linebacker must choose between eating Brandon Minor facemask seven yards downfield or watching Roundtree grab a short seam route or four. Part of the slot receiver's popularity in this edition of the Rodriguez offense is borne of necessity: guy is close and you can get it to him quick.
I'm heartened by the relative inexperience of the Badger linebackers and think Forcier will have a good day in the short to intermediate stuff, with Koger and Roundtree frequent targets and that RB wheel route re-emerging into a threat. On passing downs Michigan will be ineffective and Forcier flushed or sacked frequently. The usual.
Key Matchup: Huyge or Dorrestein versus Large Minus In Next Week's UFR. This is easy, right: the RT spot has been a sore one in pass protection all year.
Run Defense vs Wisconsin
To adequately address the Michigan defense this weekend we have to address the rumors that there's been a major shakeup in the secondary. The rumors are so rampant that they just about must be true. "Guy is practicing at this position on the first team" is a rock-solid piece of information that comes with future intent; "OMG Forcier transfer!" is the opposite of that.
So: Michigan is likely to reconfigure its defense. The obvious thing to do is pull the overmatched or underperforming safeties off the field; rumors are focused on Brandon Smith, linebacker as of two weeks ago, as a replacement. This makes sense against Wisconsin, as Michigan figures to be in an eight-man front on any reasonable rushing down. Then you've got one deep safety who will probably not be Jordan Kovacs because Kovacs has shown over the past few weeks that he has magically un-delicious walk-on speed. Woolfolk may move, or it may be Warren, who's been playing a two-deep safety in various formations for much of the year after the Woolfolk move. This means JT Floyd gets another crack at corner.
To the run defense: despite rumors that the Big Ten is a huge power running sort of conference from people who haven't watched a college football game in ten years, this will be the first actual test of Michigan's defense against a team of neanderthals who know and love rock, only rock. Previous traditional running teams have not done that well…
[Note: QB/WR runs excised for tighter focus on 'rock' style running.]
…but none of those teams is actually much good at running. Iowa and Michigan State are terrible; Penn State is 42nd.
To boot: many of those yards have not been Michigan getting overpowered by their opponent but Michigan doing something dumb like Mouton leaving a 41-yard cutback lane for Royster, Kovacs whiffing on Robinson, or Mike Martin stopping his flow down the line against Caper. This is the opponent-invariant bit. Michigan's defense has been bad for reasons other than physical limitations.
Unfortunately, if there's a team out there more likely to expose Michigan's physical limitations it's the last game on the schedule. Wisconsin is Wisconsin except this year they've replaced an overweight plodder with John Clay, a true moosebeast of a tailback who looks like Beanie Wells or Adrian Peterson, a guy it's hard to believe is playing college football instead of the NFL variety. Clay had some issues early in the year of the practice fumbling or disciplinary variety that saw him lose time to decent backup Zach Brown, but once he emerged he did so with vigor. He is currently the leading rusher in the Big Ten and is averaging 5.1 YPC.
A few teams have held him in check but one of them is Ohio State, with whom there is no possible comparison to Michigan's defense. The other—outside of a strange 15 carry, 45 yard day against NIU in the opener—was Iowa, though, and we saw that Iowa's rushing defense was pretty mediocre this year. However, Clay's crushed Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, and Michigan State. Put Michigan's defense in one of those two categories, and it's the wrong one.
Michigan is already slant happy and will remain even more so against a Wisconsin line that is much bigger than they are; I think you''ll see a lot of cutbacks because guys are hitting it into the backfield. These cutbacks will meet late and ill-prepared linebackers and Clay is going to get his 2-3 YAC on most plays and grid like he usually does. He'll also break a long one when someone screws up. Fact of life. He should easily clear 100 yards.
Key Matchup: Whoever is at linebacker versus overpursuit. This week's key matchups are "things I expect Michigan will not do well."
Pass Defense vs Wisconsin
Death by tight end. I know that our Wisconsin guest suggested that Garrett Graham had disappeared after the Michigan State game—in which he and Tolzien had a creepy mind-meld—but Michigan has a knack for making tight ends re-appear. The dossier is extensive at this point: Moeaki, Quarless, etc. Last week against Purdue Kevin Leach got lost on a mesh route and turned a third and five dumpoff crossing route into a 56-yard completion. Garrett Graham will be hand-wavingly wide open on a series of waggle plays/seam routes, especially if Michigan goes to a one-high eight man front as the previous section suggests they will. Linebackers will bite, and Graham will be open, and he will probably get 100 yards.
That out of the way: Tolzien's been decent in his first year as a starter. He's 51st in efficiency and is completing 62% of his passes. His main issue has been interceptions; he threw five in the two losses against Ohio State and Iowa; those were huge factors in their losses. If Michigan can cover some guys, he might screw up, especially if Brandon Graham is attempting to eat his face.
That might happen. Wisconsin's sack numbers are decent on the surface—they're 49th—but that conceals a passing offense that doesn't get a whole lot of work. The Badgers are 94th in pass attempts. If Michigan can get Wisconsin into passing situations, Graham can nibble on a cheek here and there. Those figure to be few and far between.
When Wisconsin gets protection, the deep threat is Badger legacy Nick Toon. He's Wisconsin's best deep threat and a guy who can probably get open downfield against Woolfolk—who's been vulnerable—but not Warren. He's averaging 14.5 yards per catch but only has two touchdowns on the year.
And then there's Michigan's presumably reconfigured secondary. I assume Toon will draw the non JT Floyd corner, which means second receiver and infrequent target Isaac Anderson will get a lot of work. Given what we saw from Floyd earlier this year he's going to play off and hope for the best.
That'll be the recipe, I guess. Tolzien won't have a lot of attempts, but the ones he gets will be efficient.
Key Matchup: Roh/Leach/Ezeh vs Graham. If they can get a chuck or read the play action or just do something long enough for the dodgy pass protection to matter, maybe?
This should be a solid advantage for Michigan. Darryl Stonum continues to prove himself the conference's best kick return specialist. He's already broken the single-season kick return yardage record set by Steve Breaston a few years ago. That's largely because of sheer volume, but Stonum took one back for a touchdown against Notre Dame and has interspersed excellent returns throughout the rest of the year. He took two over the 50 against Purdue. Wisconsin, meanwhile, ceded a kick return touchdown of its own against Ohio State and Adam Hoge of Bucky's Fifth Quarter thought they might be vulnerable despite a recent improvement in performance.
Michigan's punt returns have been substandard all year, so that's not much of a threat; Wisconsin is about average in net punting.
When Michigan kicks to Wisconsin, expect little. Wisconsin's in the triple digits in both punt and kickoff returns and David Gilreath has taken a major step backwards this year. Kicker Phillip Welch has been okay, not great. He's hitting two-thirds of his attempts and missed an extra point against Wofford. He was very good last year, going 20/24. Jason Olesnavage is 10/12 with a far costlier missed extra point.
Key Matchup: CATCH THE DAMN BALL.
- Wisconsin has adjusted to the Roy Roundtree show and Michigan is forced to rely on pass protection more than they'd like.
- Michigan has no answer for the beast machine.
- Forcier doesn't play on the second drive.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Wisconsin's OL can't handle the quickness of Martin and Van Bergen.
- The reconfigured secondary makes you wonder what the hell took them so long.
- It's 2010.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 8 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +1 for The Scales They Fall From My Eyes, +1 for We're Winless On The Road And Camp Randall Is Slightly More Intimidating Than Memorial Stadium, +1 for I Bet Totally Changing The Defense In Game 10 Is Going To Work Great, –1 for I Guess It Can't Be Worse, +1 for Forcier Aigh!).
Desperate need to win level: 9 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +1 for Bowl Game, +1 for Partial Cessation Of Hostilities In The RichRod War, +1 for Escape Big Ten Basement, +1 for Tip The Scales Back Towards Not Doom.)
Loss will cause me to... work on my Henri the Otter of Ennui impression even more.
Win will cause me to... relax.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
To reiterate on the Forcier thing: I expect he will miss the first series and then return. If that assumption does not pan out, head for the hills and re-emerge in two weeks.
Given that: I can see many ways for Wisconsin to move the ball against Michigan's defense, reconfigured or not, and have explained them in detail above. I think Michigan will have a decent day on offense but be poor on third-down conversions because of the pass protection issues; they'll need about two huge breaks to win.
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Garrett Graham goes over 100 yards receiving.
- Minor is the primary back and also goes over 100 yards.
- Robinson gets more work in the backfield than he has to date.
- Wisconsin, 30-20.
We've got a guest this time! Woo! It's Adam Hoge from Bucky's Fifth Quarter, the SBNation Wisconsin blog—and only extant one, it appears. Unfortunately, logistical issues—read "sleep schedule of a 70-year-old"—prevented regular guest Jamiemac from making an appearance this week. We persevere.
This week's edition is far less suicidal. Also, for the record: I was not drunk for last week's podcast, but I can understand how one might think I was.
Links of use:
Personnel notes: Omameh played the whole game at right guard; Huyge played the whole game at RT. Roundtree was the only slot the whole day. Brown saw about four plays late; he was replaced by Grady, Shaw, and Smith.
Formation notes: A lot more two-back sets without a tight end against Purdue. Don't know why.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||10|
|Excellent scoop block from Moosman(+1) and Omameh(+1) seals the playside DT and gets Omameh out on the MLB. Shaw shoots up in the hole ahead of Minor and does get enough of the OLB to clear him out of the path; Minor's got a crease and takes it, raging his way until two Purdue guys close him down as he nears the marker.|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||2|
|Purdue brings a safety to the line and blitzes two linebackers. Minor heads to the backside of the play to take out the backside DE as Purdue stunts. Ortmann(-1) can't block the DE to his side and Omameh(-1) loses the playside DT as he slants outside; those two guys come down to tackle. Good playcall from Purdue, I guess (RPS -1)|
|M31||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-7|
|Purdue blitzes a linebacker right into this and he gets in on Forcier as soon as he rolls out; Forcier manages to school the guy and make him miss. Unfortunately, Minor(-1) loses the DE and that guy cleans up for the sack. Almost a great play from Tate. (PR, 0, protection 0/1, Minor -1, RPS -1)|
|M24||3||15||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Seam||Roundtree||26|
|Michigan gets to the line very quickly and catches Purdue unprepared for the snap. Roundtree immediately bursts open on the seam; Forcier is looking elsewhere. He comes off the outside receiver and goes to Roundtree, but only after scrambling forward. His pass is way, way short and gives the tampa-2 MLB a better shot at the ball than Roundtree, but Roundtree adjusts and manages to wrestle himself into a simultaneous possession call. If thrown deep this is a touchdown, as Roundtree had the deep middle by yards. (IN, 1, protection 2/2) Replay opinion: absolutely simultaneous possession.|
|50||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Short bubble||Roundtree||10|
|Differentiating here from the full bubble, which threatens to get outside the outside WR's block, and this adjustment Michigan put in after people freaked out about the bubble where the WR runs a shorter route and heads directly upfield, as Roundtree does here. This is open as the short LB is focusing on the run and the safety is in a soft, soft man on Roundtree. Roundtree's not fast but he is quick in short spaces and does a great job of getting upfield quickly here. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||11|
|Linebacker freezes because of a Minor dive fake, which opens up a slant for Roundtree that Forcier nails with perfect timing; Roundtree brings it in and drives for another first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||29|
|They've made that adjustment I wanted them to make last week: again the lead blocker shoots up into the hole as Michigan gives the playside DT a true double. Shaw(+1) blocks the OLB and Minor hits the the gap in the line, cutting up behind Shaw's block and running through a poor tackle from the Purdue safety. Slowed, he manages to split three more Purdue defenders, stiff arm the safety, and dive in for a touchdown. Probably the first run on Minor's NFL highlight reel. BONUS: Watch Roundtree(+1) realize what's happening on the play and run downfield to truck a safety. How did Kelvin Grady ever get on the field ahead of this guy?|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 10 min 1st Q. Roundtree may have already had the best game of any Michigan receiver all year. Stonum returns kick for nice field position on next drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||5|
|Same deal with the scoop block on the frontside tackle getting him sealed and Shaw taking on the OLB. Shaw(-1) ends up getting plowed over by his guy, which forces Minor outside; OLB makes an ankle tackle with help from the safety. Could have broken bigger. Omameh(+1) is doing a very good job so far.|
|O35||2||5||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Out||Roundtree||6|
|Very simple as Purdue is in man and the safety, way off the line, has responsibility here. There's no way he can close down the space before Forcier can hook up with Roundtree for a first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Triple option pitch||Minor||-5|
|Sharik says that the problem here is that Forcier screws up the read because the DE is containing, not crashing, and that he needs to give on the dive. More on this later. Small problem: dive won't work anyway because Omameh(-1) blew past the slanting DT and he's into the hole; Shaw will have to cut back into that DE, I think. That, at least, is a better outcome than what happens: Forcier keeps, DE forces an early pitch, and and unblocked safety comes crashing down to smoke Minor in the backfield. (ZR -1) BWS picture-paged this.|
|O34||2||15||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Throwaway||--||Inc|
|Max pro and Purdue still gets through because Ortmann(-1) gets beaten by one DE and Huyge(-1) loses the other one; Purdue's gotten outside their rush lanes, though, and Forcier can scramble out. Savoy is covered, Roundtree doubled, and Forcier signals Savoy deep before chucking the ball OOB. Maybe had a few yards if he just took off but this is a net positive given the protection. (TA, 0, protection 0/2)|
|O34||3||15||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Hemingway||Inc|
|Pass tipped by a stunting Purdue DT. Play was well set up, with room for Hemingway to get at least ten or so and maybe a first down. (BA, 0, screen)|
|Drive Notes: FG(51), 10-10, 6 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Short bubble||Roundtree||4|
|Same short bubble with the LB lined up over the second slot receiver getting to the outside, which is right where Michigan wants him as Roundtree again heads upfield inside. Safety reacts more quickly this time and holds it down. (CA, 3, screen)|
|M31||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read veer||Robinson||-3|
|Robinson in as an RB, and they block down, leaving the frontside DE unblocked. He keeps contain; Forcier hands it off anyway (ZR -1) and Robinson gets smoked.|
|Forcier has plenty of time and a nice pocket, but can't find anyone open. He's only got three options and Purdue has dropped off very deep, so no one's open. He decides to take off, and gets the first down. As per new policy, not charting good scrambling decisions as TAs. (Protection 2/2)|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Dive||Minor||7|
|Not a read: Michigan blocks the backside DE and pulls Omameh around after Schilling down-blocks the playside DT into oblivion. LBs are not expecting this and Omameh gets a block on the MLB, allowing Minor to hit it up for good yardage.|
|M46||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||4|
|Roundtree loses his footing as he brings this in and is unable to cut this upfield; he ends up stumbling into the WR/DB block and pushing ahead for a few. (CA, 3, screen)|
|50||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Penalty||False start||Mathews||-5|
|M45||1||15||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||55|
|Purdue shifted a bit towards the wide side of the field, where Roundtree awaits a potential bubble. Instead the stretch. Michigan cuts the lead blocker up into the hole this time as Schilling(+1) and Moosman(+1) execute an excellent scoop block on the playside DT, sealing him. Schilling releases to kick out the OLB; the MLB is hunting around the backside of the play. Grady(+1) then gets just enough of the safety to spring Minor into the secondary, where he shows a good top gear. Hurray for actually using the lead blocker on the stretch.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-10, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M8||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Minor||-1|
|Purdue MLB is flowing very fast downhill here and Omameh has no shot at releasing into him despite going downfield immediately. Moosman(+1) has sealed the playside DT and there is a crease for Minor but that linebacker fills it and the play goes nowhere. Not sure what's wrong with this play; as designed it looks like it can't work. Waggle would probably catch guys out of position, I guess.|
|M7||2||11||Pro Set Twins||2||1||2||4-3 under||Pass||Hitch||Savoy||5|
|Don't know why this isn't from the shotgun but okay whatever. Simple rollout hitch that's basically on time; immediate tackle. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M12||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Hitch||Koger||10|
|Excellent timing from Forcier this time as the ball is already halfway there by the time Koger turns around, which prevents Purdue from getting to Koger before he catches it; Koger even gets a yard or two after the catch. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout fade||Savoy||22|
|Michigan has run this all year; usually they end up hitting the underneath receiver running an out as they run their version of a cover-two beater. Here the CB pulls up a bit and Forcier goes for the fade. Excellent timing and location away from the safety; nice catchable ball for Savoy. Precision. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep Post||Roundtree||Inc|
|This is a deep, deep drop, as Forcier wanders back from his shotgun position and ends up tossing the ball ten yards back from the LOS. First time I've seen this all year. Purdue is blitzing and leaving man coverage on the outside. Michigan in max protect and sliding the coverage; Shaw and Grady both do just okay on their guys and I think Forcier has to throw this a half second before he wants to. Roundtree is breaking past the safety on a post but the ball, thrown off the back foot, is well overthrown. (IN, 0, protection 2/3, Shaw –1, RPS +1)|
|M44||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Forcier||17|
|With Purdue thinking pass after the last four plays Michigan goes with the draw and it opens up as Omameh and Moosman down-block the playside DT out of the picture and Grady(+1) gets a pop on the OLB; the other linebackers were heading into man coverage. Watch Omameh(+1) peel off the DT and run downfield to get a block on the MLB after the sticks.|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-4|
|Intended to be a bubble screen but the Purdue corner jumps it and Forcier decides not to throw the ball. Good decision. Better decision would have been to wing it out of bounds. Forcier starts scrambling around but that's not going to work. (TA, 0, screen, RPS -1) Need to hit them up with the fake bubble-seam thing to keep 'em honest.|
|O43||2||14||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 3-4||Pass||Deep Post||Roundtree||57|
|Michigan's got a tipoff on Purdue's blitzes or something because the Boilers bring six this time and leave two guys manning up on the RBs; it's again man zero on the wideouts. Forcier takes another deep drop and this time gets protection, throwing a 20-yard dart downfield to Roundtree(+2) on the post. Roundtree then stiffarms the safety at the 15 and rolls in for a touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 3/3, RPS +3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-10, 8 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||7|
Purdue slants the line away from the direction of the stretch—never happens in one RB sets—and this gives Smith the corner as Huyge does a pretty decent job of sealing the playside DE and preventing him from darting into the backfield. Er. Correction: Huyge holds the hell out of him. No call.
This gives Smith the corner; the MLB flows to the ball too quickly for Schilling to get out on him and makes a good tackle after a few yards; Smith almost runs through it but bangs into Minor and falls.
|O42||2||3||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-8|
|Same play that was the Roundtree TD and it again catches Purdue in man zero. Forcier pumps, which makes me think they're running a stop and go but there's no confirmation of that. After the pump he loads up to throw... and gets killed by a guy who beat Schilling(-2) one-on-one. (PR, 0, protection 0/2) Forcier fumbles and Schilling recovers.|
|50||3||11||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Stonum||Inc|
|Stonum was dead meat anyway because a stunting DT came around and knocked Schilling to the ground as he tried to release downfield and the guy Schilling was supposed to block was coming in to murder-death-kill Stonum. Still... gotta catch the ball. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-10, 5 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||6|
|Hard to tell exactly what's going on here because BTN is checking out the suites; when we cut to the play Moosman(+1) has sealed the playside DT and Minor is heading through the gap; Grady gets a lead block on the OLB and Omameh(+1) is killing the MLB; safety comes up to clean up after seven.|
|M27||2||4||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||4|
|Virtual replay; seal isn't quite as good this time and the OLB attacks the hole more quickly; Grady ends up cutting him but Minor has to gingerly pick through the mess. He does so, falling forward for near first-down yardage.|
|M31||3||In||Ace 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB sneak||Forcier||2|
|Insert complaint about Illinois goal line stand here.|
|M33||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||0|
|Em... maybe some variation? Purdue slants under the play; Omameh(+1) does a good job of adjusting to it; he's getting driven back but gets playside of the guy and prevents him from making a tackle. Minor to the edge, but the MLB has again leapt past the attempted second-level block from Schilling and filled the hole, where he does a great job of forcing Minor out for no gain. Michigan's not doing enough to make him hesitant.|
|M33||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Triple option pitch||--||-14|
|DE is totally crashing down so the pull is the right move, but the cornerback to the playside is either blitzing or has this play dead to rights because he is coming in for the triple option on the snap. He's the guy who's out on Forcier, which is weird because he should probably take Minor; Forcier does a terrible job of reading this and ends up making a huge mistake by pitching the ball; corner deflects it and Purdue recovers. (RPS -2)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 24-10, 13 min 3rd Q. Stonum gets another good return.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch(?)||Minor||1|
|This is like the sixth play the BTN has missed part of. This is ridiculous. Minor gets a yard; I don't know what went wrong.|
|O45||2||9||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Quick wheel||Minor||Inc|
|Looks like it's breaking open as Purdue is in cover three so the CB to this side is bailing out and Minor will get the ball with an opportunity to thump some guys; Forcier throws it at Minor's knees and he can't dig it out. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|Not going to get a first down but it's a hot read with Purdue blitzing; Mathews(+2) breaks a tackle from the Purdue CB and turns it into a big chunk of yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1) Better read was probably the TE seam but it works.|
|O17||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Short bubble||Roundtree||7|
|Another play they miss the start of because they're showing eight replays. Michigan runs the short bubble again and Roundtree zips upfield, juking past the safety and getting down to the ten. Good timing on these things and Roundtree is good about catching them in a spot where he can dart immediately upfield. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O10||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||Power O(!)||Minor||4|
|Gap-blocked play with a pulling Schilling. Omameh(+1) kicks the Purdue DL down the line by himself; Huyge releases into the MLB; Koger(-1) loses the DE and forces Schilling to block him instead of head to the second level. Good adjustment from Schilling. Minor cuts behind that and the Huyge block to plow for a first down.|
|O6||1||G||Shotgun Twins 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Forcier||6|
|Excellent read from Forcier here as the Purdue DE crashes on Minor; the OLB has sucked up to the line and is eliminated by Webb(+1) and the MLB is not scraping so Forcier's got a lane. Safety hits Forcier(+1) at the two but he manages to fall in. (ZR +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(Missed XP... sigh), 30-17, 11 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M18||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Forcier||1|
|DE crashes down so Forcier pulls it but Purdue has shifted right before the snap and brought a safety down for QB contain; he gets out on the keeper and shuts it down. A perfect play for the RPS metric. This one is a -1.|
|M17||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Short bubble||Roundtree||0|
|Back to the well one too many times; OLB is right there on the catch. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)|
|Max pro. Purdue in zone coverage that looks like a cover-3. Forcier decides to scramble up as Koger(-1) is chucked out of the way by a DE; there he meets a guy who's shot by Schilling(-1) then come around his futile attempt to resume the block; Forcier gets sacked. Seven blockers, four rushers. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 30-31, 3 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M16||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA short seam||Roundtree||16|
|The counter to the well they went to too many times on the last drive: bubble fake, Roundtree runs straight upfield, Forcier nails him, some nice YAC.. (CA, 3, protection NA, RPS +1)|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||3|
|Michigan now expects the MLB to have to respect the play they just ran and runs it directly where he probably shouldn't be. Play opens up pretty well but Omameh(-1) gives too much ground and Minor has to slow down as he awkwardly cuts past the mess, which gives the OLB time to react. Some seam PA would kill these guys.|
|M35||2||7||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout scramble||Forcier||4|
|Roundtree's out is covered by the Purdue OLB and the deep route is doubled, so Forcier's out of throwin' options and decides to take off behind the pass block of Minor. Guy comes off the block to make a tackle as Forcier passes; nice play. (TA, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M39||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Forcier||4|
|Purdue prepared for this, with the playside DE slanting inside Ortmann and forcing Forcier outside. Minor reads it and heads outside, as does Forcier; Minor pops the MLB but Forcier has no choice but to hit it up into the same guy. Their combined momentum pushes the pile forward and over the line.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Power dive||Minor||0|
|Omameh pulls around. Schilling(-1) doesn't do well with his guy and Omameh gets delayed, which allows the MLB to attack his block near the LOS and forces Minor to hop around, delaying this and turning it into not much of a gain.|
|M43||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||4-3 under||Run||Zone read veer||Minor||21|
|This is the inverse of the play that was picture-paged Tuesday, with the line blocking down, Minor heading upfield, and Forcier the threat that needs to be contained. This time Tate hands it off as the DE is running upfield at him; to me this is an angle that makes it really hard to tell what to do. Zone read stuff is hard. (ZR +1) I think the key is that the DE here is taking an angle and running at a speed that makes it hard for him to defend anything. Anyway: handoff, Minor zips past the DE and the rest of the Purdue D is anticipating a stretch so Minor can run behind the block of Schilling; Ortmann doesn't even have anyone to take on. MLB reacts late and can only dive at Minor's feet; from there he's gone until the safety manages to make a touchdown-saving tackle from behind.|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||4|
|Play is well blocked with Moosman(+1) getting the playside DT seal he's gotten virtually all day and Grady getting out to pop the OLB that should be the last thing between Smith and a big gainer; Purdue's safety was coming up for a short zone/run contain on the snap, though, and is there to fill as Smith pops out of the crease.|
|O32||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||1|
|Same play from O and D. The Purdue DT doesn't get sealed quite as authoritatively and Smith only has a small crease to dart through, that one it takes a little bit longer for him to get to. This allows the meh backside scoop block to screw up the play; Ortmann is escorting his guy down the line—delay, no seal, and when Smith pops through he's there along with the guy Schilling(-1) failed to cut downfield. No joy.|
|O31||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Oh, man. Forcier does see Stonum open is and darts it to him, at which point a Purdue safety makes a great play to come up and bat the ball away from behind. All credit to that guy. Terrific play. But, a necessary consequence of that is Roundtree's wheel route opening up for a potential TD. He'd have to see it quick and get rid of it quick with a guy coming up to contain but maybe that's a play he makes later in his career? (CA, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(48), 30-31, 12 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||2|
|Forcier has to scramble out because Omameh(-1) and Moosman(-1) get split by a DT as they're trying to slide the protection, and then Minor(-1) gets owned by the DE he's trying to pick up. Forcier does well to move up, move out, and scramble for a few yards. (PR, 0, protection 0/3)|
|M24||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Edge pitch||Brown||6|
|Roundtree gets outside of the OLB, which isn't too hard because the OLB is lined up inside of him, and gets Brown the edge. Safety fills quickly, forcing Brown back into the flowing linebackers.|
|M30||3||2||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||1|
|Thought this was a called play live but apparently not; the WRs are running routes. Forcier just sees the hole open up in front of him as a DT stunts around and thinks he can take it; he doesn't account for Huyge(-1) getting tossed aside like a rag doll and that guy making a tackle. Unfortunate; this really looked like it was an easy first down. Not charted.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 30-38, 9 min 4th Q. Zoltan launches one after a stupid delay call because Michigan thinks about going for it.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Minor||11|
|Purdue still fighting to the stretch side of these block and Minor gets a cutback lane as Michigan is blocking the backside DE and Schilling's(+1) escorted the backside DT away, leaving a crease. Moosman(+1) releases downfield late but manages to get a block on the MLB that Minor can cut behind. He then jukes the safety and is trying to cut behind another LB when he trips to the ground over Roundtree.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||20 (Pen -10)|
|Omameh and Moosman are trying to scoop the playside DT and manage to do it okay. Koger(+1) blocks the playside CB and the MLB misses a tackle, springing Minor into the endzone. For naught, as Huyge(-1) gets called for holding his guy. Stupid, as he got his arm up around the neck for no reason. This did not affect the play.|
|O30||1||20||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-1|
|Michigan trying to get Purdue to bite on a bubble fake and go to the fade; Purdue is not having it. Forcier might have an opportunity to do something else but Huyge(-2) has gotten beat around the corner and he has to scramble up, where a linebacker and DT combine to sack. (TA, 0, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)|
|O31||2||21||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Forcier||11|
|Forcier does this mostly by himself as Minor(-1) whiffs his block and Forcier has to make the OLB miss; he does. He then spins through the corner's tackle and falls forward through an ankle tackle from another linebacker. Excellent run.|
|O20||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Out||Savoy||Inc|
|I'm not 100% sure this is accurate but it looks like it will be; Savoy stumbles out of his break and is nowhere near the ball as it falls to the turf. Argh. (CA, N/A, protection 1/1)|
|O20||4||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel||Pass||Crazy Thing||Brown||8 – 5 Pen|
|On Forcier. He's got a pocket he can step into, and does, and no one's coming for him and it's fourth and ten and he chucks a lateral to Brown that has virtually no hope of getting the first down. Brown makes a meal of it, though, breaking a couple tackles and attempting to pitch the ball as he's going down. Huyge grabs it and gets the first but on review it's ruled a forward pass. Correct call. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-38, 4 min 4th Q. Hemingway gets a big punt return.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O11||1||10||Shotgun 2-backTE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Minor||2|
|Great reach by Moosman(+1) as the DT does not flow down the line; this opens up a crease. Lead-blocking RB heads outside. Argh. This leaves the MLB unblocked when Minor cuts up and he makes a tackle after a short gain.|
|O9||2||8||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Forcier||7|
|This seems like a busted route by someone, probably Koger, since both WRs to that side just run right into the endzone. Maybe they're clearing out for Brown, but that doesn't work as an OLB is dropping directly into the area he is. Forcier does have a lot of room on the edge and eventually takes off, nearing the first down. Not filed as a TA.|
|O2||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Power O||Minor||1|
|Schilling pulls around as Michigan attacks the edge. He and Grady double the unblocked DE on the end of the line, blowing him into the endzone, and Minor runs through a diving tackle from the OLB, falling just short of the goal line.|
|O1||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Power O||Minor||1|
|Same play, though on this one Purdue is slanting and it's just a mess and Minor decides to head right upfield, picking up a touchdown when a crease magically opens just as he nears the line.|
|Huyge(-2) gets mauled and Kerrigan comes around to crush Forcier. I think Purdue had covered the first read, Koger, and he was moving up to find another guy. After the game he said he was about to throw it. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(Missed 2PT), 36-38, 2 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted as it is under extreme conditions.|
Well, that wasn't too terrible.
No, it wasn't. And though Purdue is not a great defense they've been decent so far this year. They're currently #67 in total defense at about 370 yards per game, and Michigan gained 427 on 12 drives, 397 of those on the 11 actual drives they had before the looney tunes at the end. That's exceeding the average performance of Purdue opponents and I'll take that against anyone at this point in the year. Michigan got big gains on the ground, stretched the field vertically, broke out some new wrinkles, and didn't turn the ball over a billion times.
After 20, 21, 10, and 13 points of offensive production plus sufficient turnovers to choke a horse, this was a major step forward and the best performance from the unit since the Indiana game.
To show this I'll need some—
[Hennechart legend; MA is "marginal", screen results are in parens.]
|Notre Dame||5||20 (6)||2||4||3||3||-||4|
|Eastern Michigan||1||8 (2)||1||1 (1)||1||4 (1)||-||-|
|Indiana||3||13 (3)||1 (1)||2||5||3||-||2|
|Michigan State||5||19 (3)||2||4||3||3||-||5|
|Delaware State||-||2 (1)||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Penn State||3||9 (3)||-||4 (2)||4||2||1||1|
|Purdue||2||13 (6)||1||2||1||4||1 (1)||5|
The Purdue zone read metric—still in its infancy—was +2 – 2 = 0. More on that a bit later.
|Eastern Michigan||-||1||1 (1)||2 (1)||-||-||-||-|
Screens held down Forcier's downfield throws. This week's downfield success rate: 9 / 16 = 56%. Not great, but the DSR is only a vague metric and I think this was one of Forcier's best games. One of the INs was a bomb under pressure, the BR was the ill-fated Brown pitch on fourth and ten, and the rest of it are TAs where his receivers were all legitimately covered. He didn't make a big mistake all game, and many of his unsuccessful attempts were making the best of a bad situation.
The big downer was the fumble, which was a huge error on Forcier's part but also an understandable one since Purdue blitzed right into the option and Forcier was not prepared to deal with the corner there. He should have eaten the ball and taken the loss, but he's a freshman running his second live triple option. I don't blame Forcier for freaking out, or Rodriguez for calling it; sometimes you do something well in practice and screw it up the first time you let it loose in the wild.
[Receiver chart explanation: throws are rated on how difficult they are to catch. A 3 is a totally routine ball that would induce groans if dropped. 2 is moderately difficult; you'd like to see players catch 50-70% of these. 1 is a circus catch on which the QB is bailed out by a great play from a WR or, more usually, not bailed out. 0 is totally uncatchable and mostly exists to chart how often a player is targeted.]
A good day from the receivers, and by "receivers" we mean "Roy Roundtree." The one drop didn't hurt much since it was on a screen that was going to get blown up anyway. Minor could have helped out by pulling in a low throw by Forcier, too. Other than that: Roundtree, Roundtree, Roundtree. The 1 he pulled in prevented an interception on Michigan's first drive of the day, converted a first down, and lead to a touchdown.
Plus he did this:
Martavious Odoms just saw his job come under howitzer fire. Odoms has been valuable, too, so he won't just go away, but Kelvin Grady's time just got eaten up and I think Roundtree is the starter even when Odoms is healthy. This might also presage some dual-slot formations that have been absent so far in Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan. Kid's pretty good, and quicker than you'd think given the Hawthorne incident last week.
And this will come as no surprise given the 5 in PR above, but the protection metric is ugly again:
PROTECTION METRIC: 14/29. Huyge –5, Schilling –3, Minor –2, Ortmann –1, Shaw –1, Koger –1, Moosman –1, Omameh –1.
That is by far the lowest percentage in UFR history. The culprits are the usual by now: Huyge on the edge, Schilling getting blasted back into the pocket, and several other folk having individual moments of struggle. The only way Michigan could threaten deep was to max-protect and drop Forcier back like he was a Madden 2005 QB, and even on one of those play Forcier ended up throwing off the back foot because Shaw could not contain the guy. The two point conversion was Huyge getting beaten by Kerrigan clean.
Yuck. Is there any hope for the OL going forward?
Well, Omameh had a very good day, and not just for a redshirt freshman. His agility is as advertised:
He was sealing DTs with Moosman all day; he seemed to have a grasp on pass protection, too. He was so obviously good that he's now your starter at RG, no questions asked, as Huyge and Dorrestein fight it out at right tackle. That's an important step forward for him. If he's languished on the bench as Ferrara got the start the hype on him would be heading towards Grady Brooks territory; as it is he's beaten out some more experienced options and played well as a redshirt freshman. You can now put him in pen somewhere on next year's line.
As for the rest of the line… man, the pass protection issues are not letting up and the second-most vulnerable guy other than whoever the right tackle is has been Schilling, which isn't good. You can sort of understand why a two-star sophomore who had only MAC offers is struggling at tackle. Schilling's at an easier spot and is a five-star junior. At this point he's probably not going to live up to the hype. That's not to say he's bad, but pass protection breakdowns from the LG spot are really frustrating, especially when there are many incidents where Schilling doesn't lose his guy but gets shoved so far back in the pocket that Forcier has nowhere to go when someone comes tearing around the right tackle.
Why does our option play make us die when we haven't run it all year?
I suggested in the game column that Forcier was maybe not at the point where the dive is an actual read, which has been explained to me is a very silly thing to suggest. More likely: it is a read that Forcier screwed up. Steve Sharik:
Purdue can defend it b/c the QB missed the read. Both times the DE was shuffling, not crashing. Tate should've handed it off on the dive both times. Tate misses a ton of reads in the zone read scheme, and these times were no different. We can't defend it b/c our defenders aren't sound in their assignments. So, whether it's us on offense or us on defense, the simple matter is that we aren't doing what we're coached to do and the opponent is.
It doesn't make a difference what option it is, if you miss the first read (the give/pull) then bad things happen, especially if the QB pulls when he should've given. If the QB gives when he should've pulled, the dive gets tackled for no gain. If the QB pulls when he should've given, a negative yardage play is the best result. And then if the QB compounds this error by pitching off a defender who is not the pitch key, then that pitch key is free to attack the pitch player, with a turnover the not just possible but likely outcome.
This is not hugely surprising given Forcier's lack of experience. I doubt we see this option the rest of
Roundtree, Forcier, and Minor.
Not so heroes?
The entire offensive line in pass protection, especially Huyge and Schilling.
What does it mean for Wisconsin and beyond?
After a brief period of suck, the Wisconsin defense has resumed being pretty good: they're 19th in rushing D and 22nd in total D. They've got some issues in the secondary—Ben Chappell just went off for 323 yards on 25 of 35 passing, and the Purdue implosion was mostly on Purdue receivers—but are good about getting to the quarterback, which means Michigan might see a bunch of receiver run open as Forcier scrambles for his life.
Michigan's rushing offense continues to be good, not great, and I think they'll be able to grind out a respectable total if Minor is healthy. Whether Michigan scores a lot will be up to the pass protection and Tate.
For the long-term future: the sudden emergence of Roundtree and Omameh, both freshmen, is an excellent sign. The slot position now seems solid and picking up another solid lineman for next year means Michigan will have kind-of-sort-of four starters back; this is the silver lining of the Molk injury. The dark cloud: if Molk is available, Michigan probably wins at least one of Michigan State, Iowa, or Purdue, right? Aigh.
With basketball season fast approaching, let's take a look at Michigan's non-conference schedule, and see what the Wolverines are up against this winter. A more thorough rundown of Saturday's opponent may be coming later this week, but it's pretty difficult to find information on D-2 teams.
November 14: Northern Michigan
Home, Big Ten Network
2009 Record: 11-16, 6-16 GLIAC
2009 Final RPI: N/A (Division 2)
2009 Final Pomeroy: N/A (Division 2)
Key Players: Guards Marc Renelique and Raymont McElroy led the team in scoring last year, with 14.2 and 13.0 points/game, respectively. Both have good size, at 6-2. McElroy is the team's sharpshooter, making 42.2% of his threes last year. Fellow guard Chris Warner was third on the team with 10.4 points/game, and he specialized at getting to the free throw line, with 136 attempts. Unfortunately, he only shot 68.4% from the stripe. He also led the team in rebounds and foul-outs.
Key Losses: Wing Tyler Kazmierkoski was fourth on the team in scoring at 10.4 points/game. He's not listed on the Northern roster, but was only a sophomore last year. 6-6 forward Kyle Greene is also not listed on the roster, and he was second on the team in boards last year. Both players are still on the team, per ESPN, so I don't know what to think.
Notes: If the GLIAC sounds familiar, it's because Michigan's only opponent to date, Wayne State, also hails from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Last year, Wayne finished 10-12 in the GLIAC, though they played in the opposite division. The teams met up twice, with the road team emerging victorious in each contest.
November 20: Houston Baptist
2009 Record: 4-25, Independent
2009 Final RPI: 312
2009 Final Pomeroy: 324
Key Players: Mario Flaherty is a 6-9 white guy with an Italian and Irish name. He played about 50% of the team's minutes last year, which doesn't sound like much. Except it's by far the most of any returning player. He's a banger down low, as the tallest guy on the team last year, he led in blocks and was second in drawing fouls. The only other contributor from last year's team that returns is 6-7 forward Fred Hinnenkamp, who had the worst offensive rating of anyone on the team, at 55.3.
Key Losses: This should be a pretty robust category, considering Baptist played 10 seniors last year, in addition to one sophomore, Jeremy Havard, who is no longer with the team. Just look at what Flaherty and Hinninekamp did last year, and keep in mind that EVERYTHING ELSE has been lost from the team. That includes the top 4 in minutes played, and the team's two most important players, forward Gordon Watt and guard Brandon Sauls.
Notes: This team was bad last year. This team loses almost every single ounce of production, both offensively and defensively from last year's team. It shouldn't be pretty in Crisler Arena come next Friday.
November 26: Creighton
Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic), ESPN2
2009 Record: 26-7, 15-5 Missouri Valley
2009 Final RPI: 40
2009 Final Pomeroy: 76
Key Players: Junior guard P'Allen Stinnett led the team in minutes played and steals last year, in addition to getting fouled and going to the line frequently. Senior forward Justin Carter was the team's top rebounder both offensively and defensively, despite standing just 6-4. Senior Cavel Witter was the team's second point guard last season.
Key Losses: Creighton actually fielded a fairly young team last year (making them dangerous this season), but they did lose two important contributors. Guards Booker Woodfox(!) and Josh Dotzler were second and fourth, respectively, in minutes played. Dotzler led the team in assists, and was second nationally in steal percentage. Woodfox has an awesome name, and was by far the team's best shooter.
November 27 & 29: TBA
Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic), ESPN or ESPNU
Notes: Michigan's 2nd and 3rd-round opponents will be determined by the results of Round 1. Possibilities for Round 2 are Marquette and Xavier. A more thorough preview of the Old Spice Classic as it approaches.
December 2: Boston College
Home (ACC/Big Ten Challenge), ESPN2
2009 Record: 22-11, 10-8 ACC
2009 Final RPI: 60
2009 Final Pomeroy: 69
Key Players: The Eagles only played one senior last year, so they return lots and lots of depth, particularly in their 6-man junior class. Forwards Joe Trapani and Corey Raji and wing Rakim Sanders are the most important returners form last year's team. The 6-6 Raji led the 2008-09 Eagles in offensive rating, rebounding, and HOLDING ON TO THE DAMN BALL. Trapani, at 6-9, was the best blocker and defensive rebounder. Sanders took the most shots on the team, on with good reason - he was the best shooter for BC. However, like junior center Josh Southern, he was known to get in a bit of foul trouble.
Key Losses: Tyrese Rice was the only Eagle who graduated this offseason. He played the most minutes on the team by a healthy margin, and racked up a good number of assists. He was also the only BC player who could consistently get to the free throw line.
Notes: Rice is a big loss, but Boston College should be able to absorb the departure of just one player. This should be the first really good test for the Wolverines. A home win here would also give the Big Ten a chance to (finally) win the BigTen/ACC Challenge. More on that as the event approaches.
December 5: Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Home, BigTenNetwork.com or ESPNU
2009 Record: 13-18, 12-8 SWAC
2009 Final RPI: 250
2009 Final Pomeroy: 311
Key Players: Senior guard Terrance Calvin was the team's leader last year, playing the most minutes, dishing out the most assists, and consistently drawing fouls. 6-7 forward Tyree Glass, a senior, took up the most possessions for the Golden Lions, while pulling down the most offensive rebounds and drawing the most fouls. Sophomore guard Savalance Townshend has an awesome name, and played the second-most minutes on the team, while committing the fewest fouls. Senior forward Tavaris Washington was the team's best shooter, and he was also second in both block percentage and steal percentage. He got to the foul line more than any other player for Pine Bluff.
Key Losses: Arkansas-Pine Bluff didn't have any seniors last year, but forward Ricky Parks and guard Eric Brooks are not on this year's roster. Parks got limited playing time and didn't accrue any meaningful stats, but Brooks played 41% of available minutes, and was the team's steals leader.
Notes: Pine Bluff will be Michigan's second experienced opponent in a row, though they don't have nearly the talent that Boston College does. They were a poor team last year, but should be improved. Off three days' rest, this could be a tough turnaround for Michigan, but both games are at home, and it's difficult (though not impossible) to see an upset in the making.
December 9: Utah
Away, CBS College Sports
2009 Record: 24-8, 15-4 Mountain West
2009 Final RPI: 9
2009 Final Pomeroy: 30
Key Players: Utah was a very experienced team last year, and they lost a lot of talent. The key returners for the Utes are junior guard Carlon Brown, who was a liability shooting the ball, but assisted others at a good clip, while pulling down a ton of rebounds, and Luka Drca, another big guard (both are 6-5) who led the team in assists and was a good shooter. 6-11 Frenchman Kim Tillie will likely occupy the middle in his senior season, and sophomore wing Jace Tavita will hope to get more playing time than he did last year. Redshirt sophomore David Foster hasn't played for Utah yet, but he is an enormous center at 7-3.
Key Losses: Center Luke Nevill played the most minutes on the team, absorbed the most possessions, and led the team in rebounding, blocks, and drawing fouls. He is a big loss, both literally and figuratively. Wing Lawrence Borha and guard Tyler Kepkay played the second- and third-most minutes on the team, respectively. Forward Shaun Green had the team's best offensive rating, as he led in shooting and turnover percentage, and was third in assists.
Notes: Though Utah lost a ton of talent from last year's team, this is still Michigan's first true road game, which should be a good test. The Utes have lots of size, and that could cause matchup problems for Michigan's slightly-smaller team.
December 13: Detroit
Home, Big Ten Network
2009 Record: 6-23, 2-17 Horizon
2009 Final RPI: 281
2009 Final Pomeroy: 279
Key Players: 6-7 forward Thomas Kennedy, a senior, used the most possessions (and took the most shots) of any Titan last year. Alas, he wasn't particularly good at shooting, which is pretty much the same story for the rest of the team. 6-7 forward Xavier Keeling returns after missing most of last year with a foot injury. Senior guard Woody Payne played the most minutes on the team, leading in assists, steals, and free throw rate. Fellow senior guard Eulis Stephens has better size at 6-5, but took a lot of shots and didn't make very many of them.
Key Losses: Forwards Nemanja Jokic and Michael Harrington are no longer with the team, and Harrington was a key part of the Titans' effort last year. He led in rebounding on both ends of the floor, and also drew a bunch of fouls from the opposition.
Notes: Detroit was a bad team last year, and there's no reason to expect any thing other than that for this year as well. Having Keeling all season might help, as he played one season for Indiana back before the Hoosiers were a laughingstock. Still, he's not a can't-miss prospect, on a team that direly needs one.
December 19: Kansas
2009 Record: 25-7, 14-3 Big 12
2009 Final RPI: 11
2009 Final Pomeroy: 10
Key Players: Oh god, just take your pick. Point guard Sherron Collins is on the (very) short list of Naismith candidates, Center Cole Aldrich is a terror in the paint, guard Tyshawn Taylor is exceptional at getting to the basket (or getting fouled on the way there), and guard Brady Morningstar is not only Lucifer, but a deadly 3-point shooter. This team is frickin' loaded.
Key Losses: Nobody. The Jayhawks didn't lose a single important contributor.
Notes: Oh, so that's why they're the consensus number one team in the country, huh? If there's one thing the Jayhawks don't have, it's a ton of size. Still. Kansas is freakin' loaded, and Michigan's goal will probably be not getting blown out.
December 22: Coppin State
2009 Record: 12-19, 10-8 MEAC
2009 Final RPI: 221
2009 Final Pomeroy: 266
Key Players: Sophomore wing guard Michael Harper was Coppin State's most effective offensive player last year, and also the team's best shooter. He'll probably lead Coppin this year. Guard Vince Goldsberry will play a bigger role, and senior Sam Coleman will hold down the middle after leading the team in rebounding and blocks last year.
Key Losses: Guard Tywain McKee did everything for Coppin State last year, playing nearly every available minute, taking up a ton of possessions, leading in assists, stealing the ball a bunch, and drawing fouls. Yeah, he's gone, as is Chuka Iloegbu, a 6-3 forward who played about half of the team's minutes.
Notes: One really interesting thing pops out about Coppin State - they don't foul a whole lot, with 4 players from last years roster coming in ranked for fewest fouls committed per 40 minutes. They're also a pretty small team, and MIchigan should be able to take care of them pretty easily.
January 17: Connecticut
2009 Record: 27-4, 15-4 Big East
2009 Final RPI: 8
2009 Final Pomeroy: 3
Key Players: Senior guard Jerome Dyson led the team in steals last year, and was pretty good at drawing fouls. He was pretty good (though not great) in a number of other categories as well, though he missed 12 games for the Huskies. Sophomore guard Kemba Walker was a good assist man, and got to the line at a decent clip. Senior forward Stanley Robinson has been a good offensive rebounder and blocker.
Key Losses: You may have heard of this Hasheem Thabeet fellow, who went #2 overall in the NBA draft. Guard AJ Price was also drafted, though in the second round. Other losses include forward Jeff Adrien, who actually played the most minutes of anyone on the team, and guard Craig Austrie, who took very good care of the ball last year.
Notes: Michigan fans may remember that, despite Thabeet getting the full Blake Griffin treatment from the officials, the Wolverines lost by just 8 at UConn this year. The 2009-10 Huskies are not nearly as good (though they still do have a couple projected draft picks on their team), and MIchigan has them at home. This should be a tough battle, and it's too bad it has to come in the middle of a tough conference stretch with Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan State.