it's a major award
No video, sorry. Still downloading.
|M24||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone counter|
|I don't know exactly what to call this, but this is actually a variation on our traditional zone left to start the ballgame. Massey is lined up off the line and on the snap cuts to the backside of the formation to block the defensive end tradtional zone schemes leave alone. The rest of the play is basically a zone left except Hart knows he's cutting back. This works well, but Hart miscalculates in an attempt to get outside the linebacker and leaves three or four yards on the field.|
|M28||2||6||Ace Twins||Run||7||Hart||Zone counter|
|Virtually the same play but this starts right and comes back left. Butler's actually in on this snap and is the TE cutting across the LOS as Oregon attacks the frontside fiercely. Hart hurdles some traffic and plows out for a first down. These first two plays do a good job of playing off our tendencies.|
|Same set as the last play: two Tes to on side, two WR to the other. We play action the waggle and bring Butler along the same route he took on the last play. This suckers the weakside linebacker something fierce and Butler is wide, wide open. (CA, 3, protection N/A)|
|Beautifully blocked with a gaping hole off the right side; unfortunately Schilling falls down as he moves to the second level, leaving the WLB to fill the hole without having to deal with a blocker.|
|O31||2||6||Ace Splits||Pass||-5||Manningham||WR screen|
|DeBord's done a great job of mixing up his stuff, playing off our tendencies, and generally proving he's not a dumb robot... but he kind of blows it on this play, which is the same screen we've run a dozen times over the past two years where Michigan takes two Tes but lines up in a four wide, then motions one TE to a cluster at the top of the screen featuring the other TE and the designated screeny guy. Michigan always runs a screen when they motion into this formation. They do so here. Oregon has this scouted and attacks; Butler hauls down a defender for a penalty. Holding, but five yards downfield. (CA, 3)|
|A completely inexcusable ball into a safety who hardly has to move to pick the ball off. (BR, 0) A replay shows Adrian Arrington open by ten yards for a huge gain. (Protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. Debord starts the game off with a series of clever plays that play off both each other and Michigan's tendencies, then blows it on two downs by doing something predictable and then something just dumb. Henne cannot throw this ball, either. What the hell could he be looking at?|
|M29||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|Here endeth the Debord smartness: Michigan puts three wide receivers and a fullback on the field, then shuffles the fullback. If you're counting at home, fullback shuffle is currently reading 100% run. Oregon is counting, runs the safety up to the side of the shuffle and stuffs this in the backfield. This had no chance because Oregon knew exactly what was coming.|
|M28||2||11||Ace 3-wide||Run||17||Hart||Zone right|
|Massive backside hole because Justin Boren deposits one Oregon DT in the stands and Long cuts the other to the ground. By the time Hart gets the ball there's one DE futilely chasing and a linebacker who has to deal with Kraus. Hart can just scoot up without delay for a big gainer.|
|M45||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Hart||Zone right|
|Eight in the box this time. But Michigan runs anyway because like whatever. Schilling doesn't get any push on his guy and the zone block in the middle is similarly stonewalled. Hart rushes up into a wad.|
|Wide open for an easy first; Manningham(+2) dodges a tacker and gives a few yards to set up a picket fence of blockers along the sideline to turn this from a twelve yard gain into a big gainer. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1) I don't like how Manningham just runs out of bounds here. He could pick up another couple if he tried to cut inside.|
|Waggle; this isn't shown but from my seats it was plainly obvious that Arrington was wide open. (BR)|
|O15||2||8||Ace 3-wide||Run||6||Hart||Zone left|
|Oregon's DT does not react quickly enough to Butler's motion across the formation â€“ the middle linebacker has to come up and tap him â€“ and Michigan catches he guy as he's still moving into position; he gets blown off the ball. Hart ends up cutting behind the two guys plowing him, bumping into Mitchell as he does so and falling forward for six.|
|This is jammed up and crushed, no lanes anywhere; Hart bounces outside and manages to plow through two guys for a first down. Hart's essential Hart-ness.|
|O6||1||G||Ace Twins||Penalty||-5||Mitchell||False Start|
|Again, this doesn't show up on TV but Arrington is wide open for a sure touchdown on this. Instead, a checkdown to Butler for four. A tentative CA. (CA-, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Hart is set up offset. This is always a pass. He flares out into the flat; Henne wings it well over his head. Hart was going nowhere on this anyway. (IN, 0)|
|Thrown high, but within Arrington's range. He skies and stabs his foot down for the touchdown. (CA, 2). Arrington made this look easier than this is.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 5 min 1st Q.|
|M38||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone right|
|Hole is between Boren and the DT on the backside who Kraus cuts. No second-level blocks so Hart can't get more than a few.|
|M42||2||6||I-Form Weak||Pass||18||Manningham||PA out|
|Arrington motions in tight here and makes like he's going to block; the only person in this route is Manningham. Again this
is supposed to play off our incredible predictability... we never pass out of something like this.(Hardly anyone does with one-man routes, too) It works; Manningham is wide open and Henne hits him. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
|Jake Long obliterates the defensive end, shoving him yards downfield. Kraus walls off the DT and there's a gaping hole Hart makes the most of, juking his way to extra yardage.|
|O29||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||6||Brown||Zone counter|
|Same TE pull. The immediate reaction: of course we put in the guy with a broken hand and he fumbles. But this is probably just the general bloody-mindedness of the universe more than anything else. Other than the crushing fumble, this is a nicely blocked play and Brown did just fine cutting up into the hole.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-11, 3 min 1st Q. Seriously, God. WTF?|
|We motion Massey away from the playside. Pretty decent push from the OL but no creases for Hart, he runs up into a wad for three.|
|Same exact play we ran earlier that got Manningham 18. This time Manningham is covered and the zone blocking that imitates a run play turns a DT loose; Henne hammered as he throws. Re-using this play is stupid. It's a one-man route that has no backup plan if that's covered other than a throw to Hart in the flat after he's been faked to and has lienbackers in his face. Henne's throw is an atttempt to use this option, but is wildly inaccurate because of the hit. (PR, 0, protection 0/1)|
|Manningham brought in motion in close; Oregon blitzes the hell out of this. The drag route is wide open, Henne lays it in. (CA, 3, protection 3/3). Nice blitz pickup.|
|Simple play where Arrington's guy is eight yards and bailing off the snap of the ball. He sits down after five yards, beats the corner with a juke, and picks up major YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Manningham to the short side of the field in tight to the line. Manningham comes around and the crashing defensive ends give up contain. Result: open field. We haven't run one of these in forever and I don't know why... the zone forces defensive ends to chase down from the backside like crazy and this sort of thing is likely to be open frequently.|
|O17||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||0||Hart||Zone left|
|We run into seven guys, the equivalent of eight when we have three wide receivers, for little as Oregon's linebackers are slanted heavily to the playside. Predictability? I hate this because the other guys are in an umbrella. Our two receivers to the weakside are in a position where they can run a combo route with the outside guy running the cornerback into the endzone and then the slot guy will be open for a guaranteed eight yards. It's an easy read we don't make. Henne? Debord? We'll never know who's at fault.|
|Henne stands in confidently and fires high to Mathews streaking towards the endzone. He had few options here; everyone covered. Mathews himself was doubled and got knocked out anyway... very marginally CA. (CA-, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Henne hesitates and gets murdered by an unblocked, delayed blitzer. Has to read this and get rid of the ball. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(43), 7-11, 12 min 2nd Q. Hits the upright. If Henne gets rid of the third down ball, this is good.|
|Open for a decent gain. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M27||2||3||Ace Twins||Run||1||Hart||Zone counter|
|Oregon is wise-ish to this now, but Hart still has a nice lane if not for a crappy block/nice play on the part of Butler and the DE he's supposed to block. The DE refuses to get cut and fills the hole. Otherwise, a first down.|
|M28||3||2||Ace Trips||Pass||1 (10)||Manningham||Out/Holding|
|Bunch of wideouts all jammed into the short side of the field. Henne does a half-roll towards them as they spread into their routes, then fires high and hard to an open Manningham a yard downfield. Manningham makes the catch but the ball carries him OOB before the first down marker. (IN, 2, protection 1/1). Michigan gets bailed out by a holding call.|
|M38||1||10||Ace Trips||Run||18||Hart||Zone right|
|Manningham runs Breaston's old slip screen route as the handoff goes to Hart. It doesn't do anything â€“ both linebackers are charging upfield â€“ but the run goes for mucho yard as Long and Kraus crush their guys down the LOS and Massey(+1) gets his helmet across the defensive end.|
|O44||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||13||Hart||Zone left|
|We spread them out and it actually pays off: they have six in the box this time, perhaps expecting our default bomb when we cross midfield. We run to the weakside of the formation, away from the overshifted linebackers. Oregon expects a zone to the strong side and the DE to that side slants inside on the snap. Long walls him off. Butler, spread wide, walls off the guy lined up over him and the late-filling safety can't prevent Hart from getting outside.|
|Wide open as the corners are playing off. Henne gets it to him but is late and outside such that Arrington has no chance to turn it upfield. (CA-, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O26||2||5||Ace 3-wide||Run||2||Hart||Zone counter|
|There's no hole here as we do the same TE pull. The video does not provide evidence of why, probably on Alex Mitchell.|
|Zone blitz from Oregon sends a linebacker and a corner from the left. Kraus momentarily picks up the DE, then attempts to pick up the linebacker; a DE turned loose then sacks Henne. Hart(-2) spends this play on the other side of the formation, looking for someone to block. Boren doubled a DT instead of attempt to pick up a blitzer. This route was a slow developing one; I watched Manningham do the drag cross that was Breaston's favorite route a year ago when a quick out was an easy first down.
(PR, protection 0/2, Hart -2)
|Drive Notes: Idiotic Punt, 7-18, 7 min 2nd Q. Yay we get 13 yards of field position when our defense can't stop them. Quintessential Carr error.|
|Arrington bumped before the ball is there... potentially interference, but not called perhaps because he's looking at and possibly going for the ball. Good defensive play. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|Wings this one out of bounds at no one. (TA, protection 2/2)|
|Manningham is wide open on this one but Henne throws it well outside and Manningham can't track it down. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-25, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|M29||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||8||Hart||Zone left|
|Oregon's backed off and has only six in the box; neither do they overshift their linebackers. Long kicks out his guy, Boren and Kraus seal the DT, and Kraus gets out to the second level along with Massey. Textbook.|
|M37||2||2||Shotgun 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||Long handoff|
|Henne throws this in the turf. (IN, 1)|
|M37||3||2||Ace 3-wide||Run||14||Hart||Zone left|
|This hole is enormous. There are huge splits between the DT and DE on the strong side and Michigan goes between them. All they have to do is wall off guys moving in the wrong directions; nice block from Kraus on the second level on a blitzing linebacker.|
|O49||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||8||Minor||Zone left|
|Same huge split, same result. This is completely insane and crap defense. WTF. There's been no shift on either play when Michigan motions the TE. Maybe they're afraid of the TE pull counter game. Must be it.|
|O41||2||2||Shotgun 3-Wide||Pass||11||Arrington||Delayed slant|
|Pitch and catch, a rare one. Massey runs a seam up the middle; Henne reads the linebacker and goes with the shorter option. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Tackles set up to pass block as the interior line drive blocks; TE pulls around to help out in that effort. No matter as Kraus(-1) is beaten by a Samoan dude and he sticks Hart like whoah.|
|Crossing route is open for the first as Henne steps up into the pocket and throws. Some issues with guys as his feet but this is a makable throw. It's well behind Arrington and eventually dropped. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|The insane scramble for yards that he backs out of and tries to throw from. He eventually gets run out of bounds for a loss. The guy has lost it, man. The kicker: he had already crossed the LOS when he decided to start heading backwards. (BR, 0, protection 1/3)|
|Wide open; fired right in for the first. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O14||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||8||Hart||Zone left|
|Backside cut again as the backside DT gets blown off the ball by Mitchell and Schilling.|
|O6||2||2||Ace 3-wide||Run||-2||Hart||Zone left|
|Boren(-2) gets owned by the DT with all the vowels in his name, who swallows Hart in the backfield.|
|O8||3||4||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Arrington||Deep cross|
|Same route as the earlier touchdown; Henne overthrows him. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|Manningham totally covered here. Actually, every receiver was covered here despite Oregon sending six rushers. Henne had few options. Still (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, 7-32, EO half.|
|M18||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-2||Hart||Zone right|
|Boren plowed backwards by the DT again.|
|M16||2||12||Ace 3-wide||Run||2||Hart||Zone right|
|Uncharacteristic trip by Hart... because he's injured. I hate life.|
|Into double coverage, nearly picked off. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-32, 12 min 3rd Q.|
|M39||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Run||-3||Minor||Zone left|
|A repulsive playcall. We're down 25, have three wideouts on the field, and they have a legit eight men in the box. They fear a pass not at all. This is stuffed; it didn't have a chance from the moment Debord called it.|
|Eight men drop into coverage this time; Mallet checks down for three. But by God, it's a poised three yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Ton of time... great protection. Mallett rifles it directly to Manningham, who appears to be falling down as the ball gets there. He deflects it: TO. (DO, 2, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-32, 9 min 3rd Q.|
|Nice second level block from Kraus; effort reduced from here on out on running plays. Just Mallett.|
|Almost Clausenesque in its magnificence, this screen. (CA, 3)|
|Dunno why Oregon isn't being more aggressive here but they aren't. Given Oregon's actions all Minor has to do is run up into open space.|
|Whatever. This play was screwed from the start anyway.|
|M12||1||20||Ace 3-wide||Pass||-3||--||Fumbled snap|
|Sure, this is a tough situation, but this is a give up and punt call. Down four scores towards the end of the third.|
|This is a little bit inside and well covered, allowing the CB to get a hand on it. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-32, 3 min 3rd Q. Note: we're in stupid time now. All drives from now on end in no points, so I'm just going to chart what Mallett does irrespective of drives and so forth and so on.|
|Thrown into coverage. Not sure if this is innacurate or a bad read. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Mallett flushes out of the pocket and hits Manningham smartly for a good gainer. Excellent accuracy to keep it away from the DB and give Manningham a tough but catchable ball. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Batted at the line. Stared this one down a bit. (BA, 0)|
|Never had a chance. Did Mallett lead them to him with his eyes? Debatable. (CA, 3)|
|Manningham sort of gives up on this route too early, but this was well overthrown anyway. (IN, 0, protection 1/2). Mallett took a guy at his feet as he threw this.|
|Sort of across the middle(!) for Mallett. Rifled high and hard, still catchable. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Basic. (CA, 3). Mathews kicks out at one of the defensive backs after the play.|
|Massey gets obliterated by this DE, who comes off the backside just as Mallett starts his throwing motion. He brings it down for the sack. Not his fault at all. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Massey -2)|
|Mallett flushes away from heavy strongside pressure, waves Arrington downfield, and hits him for the first down. This is sort of badass. (DO, 2, protection 0/2)|
|Double covered and badly overthrown. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Mallett gets blitz presssure â€“ Schilling(-2) whiffs on a guy â€“ and lofts a ball into double coverage. (BR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Overthrown. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|O40||3||9||Ace 3-wide||Pass||--||--||Fumbled snap|
|A little outside, but maybe to keep it away from coverage. Mathews drops it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Needs to check this down sooner. He has enough time to find someone. (TA, 0, protection Â½)|
We gained 65 yards with Mallett under center against a crap defense. We're gonna die.
That's not a question.
We're gonna die?
Maybe. Let's look at the...
|Oregon - Henne||1||13||6||3||1||0||3|
|Oregon - Mallett||3||7||2||3||1||1||2|
(Legend for this one.) I was initially skeptical of Mallett's performance...
I'll go in and grab all the Mallett plays to evaluate how he did. (Not well is your answer.)
...but after reviewing the tape I think it was considerably better. If Manningham hadn't tripped, the interception would have been a rifleshot completion. Arrington also dropped a ball he could have gotten a first down on. Only once did he sit in the pocket to take a Sack of Ultimate Poise (the other sack was a blindside hit from a guy that schooled Masssey); twice he rolled out of trouble and found receivers downfield for long gainers. Michigan's failure to move the ball in the second half boils down to the following things:
- Predictable playcalling. It's bad even when we have our senior QB in there; with Mallett things were worse. Most egregious was the I-form zone play with six blockers against eight men in the box that had no chance. Michigan pissed away downs in an attempt to protect Mallett.
- Non-throwing errors. A holding call and a fumbled snap put Michigan in second and twenty-four on one drive; a punt soon followed.
- Dropped balls and misfortune. As noted, the interception should have been a completion; Arrington and Mathews also dropped balls.
I fear the first will not change. Michigan is going to run the ball from the first play from scrimmage and probably on most first downs, which might not be a bad strategy against a Notre Dame defense that's thin and prone to tiring as the game drags on, but you can't grind someone into dust if you're getting yourself in second and nine. The other stuff isn't really on Mallett. I mean, obviously he is less effective than a senior Henne, but when he got the ball and threw it the results were okay. Two th
ings that are concerning: the fumbled snaps and the throws into coverage. Mallett was responsible for those things. I don't think the latter will get fixed, but since we've worked the shotgun into our passing offense maybe Mallett can work from that on all obvious passing downs? Texarkana ran that exclusively; he's used to it. There appears to be no reason whatsoever to go from under center on passing downs. I wonder if Michigan will ignore this because the expectation is for the position. I fear they will.
As for Henne: his worst performance since some of the really ugly ones in 2005. The opening pick was inexcusable: two Oregon players had better shots at the ball than Manningham did. Many of his throws were off, and the pocket presence thing remained an issue. The best summary of his day was the play he got injured on: instead of running up for six or seven yards and a makable fourth down, he scrambled out of the pocket, crossed the line of scrimmage, and then ran back behind it in an attempt to find someone to throw to, but could not even come close to squaring his shoulders and ended up losing two yards.
All told, I don't think Mallett's performance was any less effective than Henne's, though there's at least a chance Henne was having a bad day and is better than he showed. Mallett is likely to wing a couple balls directly into coverage Saturday.
I think the most notable thing here is the staggering amount of 1s -- passes that would require a circus catch to haul in -- for Manningham. Some of those were instances of short coverage, but mostly that was deep balls he had no or little shot at. Some people are getting on Manningham for not putting in full effort, but I didn't really see that in my review of the game. There was nothing he could have caught that he gave up on, and he remains a slight guy unsuited for going up and getting a jump ball; none of the vaguely accurate passes hung up that much anyway... they were just a little off. His main problem is that he's not getting open as much.
Yeah, what's the deal with that?
No doubt this will come off as a damned if you do, damned if you don't sort of criticism, but Mike Debord's fondness for the deep ball appears to be hurting the offense. Several times this year Michigan quartebacks have lofted balls into three-deep coverage where there is very little hope of anything positive coming. Michigan's deep routes have almost all been well covered (when they have not, Michigan quarterbacks have missed their passes), probably because the timing of their shots downfield has been predictable. The most frustrating thing about watching this year's offense has been it's refusal to take advantage of two things:
- Adrian Arrington being eight inches taller than anyone on Appalachian State and
- the huge cushion Oregon was giving to both receivers all day.
Quick outs and slants would have been easy completions on several key plays -- I am thinking most prominently of a third and three in the second quarter that resulted in a sack -- but Michigan instead chose their traditional drag routes that depend on tremendous protection. It's really frustrating to see the Oregon defense in an obvious three deep zone when Michigan lines up two receivers to one side of the formation and then see Michigan throw a bomb into that coverage designed to stop it.
This is Michigan's problem in a nutshell. Far too often they run plays into obviously bad situation. You can blame this on the quarterback, I guess, but I think I've seen enough bullheaded rushes into stacked fronts to tell you that the quarterback is not the main issue. Many times Chad Henne will come to the line on first down with two options: a run and another run. This is the only way to explain our run-pass distribution on first and ten. Michigan would be better served if Henne was permitted to check into whatever would exploit the defense. He obviously does not have this power.
Meanwhile, Oregon loses Gary Crowton to Les Miles and brings in Chip Kelly, a guy who lit up I-AA at New Hampshire, and Kelly destroys the Michigan defense with plays both conventional and non-. That's the difference between Michigan and most programs: Oregon goes out and grabs a guy with a proven track record of beating other programs with similar talent; Michigan hires Lloyd Carr's old buddy without any sort of search because he needs a job after failing utterly at Central Michigan.
Why are the coaches sending in a kid with a broken hand to fumble?
Actually, I chalk this one up to the general bloody-mindedness of the universe. Brown should be able to hang on to one friggin carry even if he's got a small cast. No one will ever be able to convince me it was a good idea to not only play Broken Tim Massaquoi during the Year of Infinite Pain but throw him and his sizable cast rockets on third down, but this seems like a criticism we can
My opinion: should be suspended for the Notre Dame game. That's not tolerable.
What does it mean for Notre Dame?
I remain encouraged we can score on them despite the issues against Oregon pending the healthy existence of Mike Hart, who has missed sections of both of Michigan's first two games. Minor is an obvious step down. Notre Dame has been okay in the early going of games but their run defense has worn down as the games have rolled on; if we can get offense going early we can duplicate the success of GT and Penn State. This will mean staying on the field, which will likely require some passing against a defense that knows it's going up against a true freshman.
How will this go? Well enough, I think. Mallett's numbers were not great but his performance belied that, and not just in a "what a poised screen" sort of way. Mallett's screen went for -4 yards. His completions were darts on rollouts, some of them in the middle of the field, and the receivers made about as many mistakes as he did. I assume the fumbled snap thing should go away; I further assume that not even Michigan is doofus enough to put this kid under center for no reason on passing downs. This may be a dodgy assumption. I don't think 50 points is in order, but 24-30 is doable. The keys will be not wasting downs coddling the kid and how many mistakes he makes. Michigan should come out throwing, because Notre Dame is going to assume run and sell out for it. I don't think they will; the low end is likely.
A dual-barrel guest post on some theories why we suck so bad at defending the spread. I was at a bit of a loss to explain exactly why Michigan was getting gashed by lowly Appalachian State and not-so-lowly Oregon. These gentlemen take shots at the question.
First, Alan Weymouth:
Well, the scheme in the first game to twist the LBs was not well thought out, or executed. Twists and stunts are designed to confuse the blocking assignment of the offensive line, even just a little hesitation up there can doom a play. But its a gamble by the DC, as it makes you very vulnerable to certain kinds of plays.
Let me pause a bit to say, that stopping a run/pass QB is the toughest job in sports right now. It essentially breaks the game down to a one on one matchup, and makes things much easier from an offensive standpoint. It's hard to find guys who can really execute the scheme though (like Vince Young), and in my opinion, it's a huge gamble for a team. If your QB goes down, you tank, because you most likely don't have another guy like him on your team ready to step in.
The team was poorly prepared to play Appalachian State. It didn't look to me as if we had actually scouted them much at all. So the stuff they showed us offensively, we weren't prepared for. That is why the adjustments and personnel changes made at halftime had the impact they did.
I really can't point to a single unit on the defensive side of the ball, that I think is performing well, but LB play and Secondary play stood out against Appalachian. During the Herrmann era, our front four basically functioned as blockers if you will, to keep offensive linemen off our LBs. Our recruiting at the DL positions suffered, because no one wants to play that way anymore. The DLs want to make plays too. With English, the DLs have a little more freedom to attack their gaps and make plays...but this means your LBs have to play at a new level. They must diagnose plays early, and be responsible for their gaps, and then flow quickly to the ball. We aren't getting any of that done. In addition, our tackling has fallen way, way off. I miss David Harris more than any of the other guys who left last year.
Our overall defensive effort against Oregon was pathetic. We had very few of our players who managed to play with proper technique. DEs running around blocks instead of covering their responsiblities .LBs who won't or can't properly fill to the ball. Safeties and CBs who don't understand their coverage properly, and know where help is and how to use it. Honestly, I can't believe English still has his job.
As an example, our DE play against Oregon was really poor. Crable at DE is not the answer against a D1-A team. He's too light. But our other DEs just don't play with the right technique. When rushing against a guy like Dixon, you push up field until your even with the QB, then you must check the gap inside of you to see if he runs. If you can't disengage from the OT in time, it's easy pickings for a running QB. Our DTs against Oregon couldn't push the pocket back and help. At DT, you have to maintain your rush lane and "push" the pocket backward..if you don't, you open up a large gap in the middle..with apparently noone to fill it. By pushing the pocket backward, you narrow the gap between DT and DE and make it easier to defend.
I'm not a big fan of rushing only four guys against a run/pass QB. In my opinion, you try to force a guy like that to make quick decisions with the ball, and force him into errors. I'd never rush fewer than five. But, that means your secondary has to cover well, and...well...ours doesn't. We saw blown coverages against Appalachian, and we saw more of them against Oregon. Either we've become "Herrmanesque" in the number of coverages our players are expected to learn, or we've got a collection of dunces unparalleled in the history of football playing in our secondary. Those guys don't understand what they are doing. If we have trouble with zone, you usually go to man...but we didn't do any better there either. Simple pick plays caused us all kinds of problems.
Defense shouldn't be this hard. It's really pretty simple. Cover your gaps, get off blocks and move to the football.
Our weak LB recruiting over the last several years is hurting us. C.Graham isn't very good and won't ever be. Mouton will replace him as soon as he's healthy I think. Thompson is okay...but hasn't tackled nearly as well as I hoped. Ezeh must get more snaps. Panter must be a total bust. I'd still try him at some point though.
We won't see a huge improvement on this defense, until the staff gets these guys to play the correct techniques, and find the best 11 to put on the field. To me, it's like they accomplished nothing in camp.
Meanwhile, frequent commenter DanK makes a convincing case that Michigan's issue with the spread can be traced to their decision to run a standard 4-2-5 nickel against these spread option offenses instead of the 3-3-5 that was so frequently successful a year ago. This isn't blockquoted because of killer graphs and charts, but here goes:
That book I told you about [Obscene Diaries of a Michigan Fan -ed] contained some interesting thoughts about the spread offense NW, Purdue and later MSU ran a few years ago. That specifically talked about the even-man front vs the odd-man front on the Dline. From what I recall in the book, we used an even front vs NW in 2000 (L,54-51) and they absolutely shredded us in epic proportions. The most points & yards given up by a M defense in like 50 years, if not ever. Sure, there were other factors like youth on the M defense (especially @ LB, iirc) and maybe NW was truly an NFL-level-talent filled offense that year (not so much). Yea, they could have executed perfectly and yea Herrmann was the coordinator. But 600 yards & 54 pts? The book's thesis then, as is mine now, is that scheme had a vital role in the epic failures of the D in these games (NW then, ASU & UO now). And although I have no evidence, the author recalls games subsequent to NW2000 in which the scheme changed to an odd front vs spread teams (not a 3 man Dline scheme exactly, but more like a 4-2 with the front 4 shifted to an unbalanced 4-man line). The point was that Herrmann (& Carr I assumed) learned something from that NW2000 game. Again, since I don't have film from the Herrmann era and I haven't figured out the whole torrent/seed thing, I can't speak to that 1st hand. I would trust the author simply b/c he seems to have taken good notes from each game he mentions.
However, the following file contains a few slides representative of what I saw in the ASU & UO games this year. It certainly confirms what I & the book's author recall about the NW2000 game: even-man fronts (4-3...well 4-2-5 Nickel is more precise) vs the spread-option offense. clearly, the results were the same: namely, AAAAAARRRRGGGGG!
1) the purpose of the spread (especially the spread-option) is to obviously spread the defensive personnel sideline-to-sideline. BUT, the primary goal is NOT to throw the ball downfield or throw the ball all around the field. The primary goal is to run up the middle, between the tackles. Logically speaking, why design a formation that guides the ballcarrier toward the bulk of the defense (toward the outside in this case)?
2) the even man front (usually the 4-3, but vs the spread it's 4-2 b/c of all the WRs on the field) is fundamentally ill equipped to defend against this attack. I
think this formation is best suited to defend a pro-style offense with the fullback/multiple TEs for reasons I don't want to get into now. I will show in the slides exactly how the even man front fails based on the film i've seen in the ASU & UO games. In spite of the fact that the Dline in the odd man front has fewer linemen (3, not 4), it seems to actually be more equipped to handle the inside run game. Basic reasoning:
a) even-man fronts don't put pressure on the center. the DTs line up in the 1-technique (over the A-gaps between the center & guards). This makes the center's life pretty easy compared to, say, knowing Terrance Taylor was about to SMASH you as soon as you moved. In the odd man front, the DT (NG) lines up over the C and engages him immeadeitely. In this case, the C needs to execute a good shotgun snap and hold his ground. Anything less is failure for him. b/c of the snap itself, at the instant of the snap the DT is the only lineman with an advantage over his counterpart on the Oline.
b) as will be seen in the slides, the DEs in the even man front tend to run themselves so far up-field that they take themselves out of the play.
- 4(even front)-2-5 (Nickel).
- DEs line up wider than tackles (5-technique); have contain responsibility.
- DTs line up at C-G gap or over guards(1-technique or 2-tech); have 2-gap responsibility.
- No man over center == easy job for center; can snap ball & release easily toward MLBs.
- No other defenders within 10-15 yards of ball: thus 'spread.' Key here is to spread the field in order to make it easier to run up the middle, not pass or run E-W (where the rest of the D is positioned).
- Nonetheless, looks like 6-on-5 in favor of the D.
- Ends run themselves out of the play! Now it's 5-on-5!
- No man over center == easy job for center; can snap ball & release easily toward MLBs.
- Guards contain D tackles, I think b/c each DT has 2-gap responsibility, thus they can't overwhelm the guards.
- RT ignores Crable for the MLB: Crable has contain & QB keeper responsibility, so he can't pursue too aggressively.
- Tackle & guard wash out MLBs: the middle is a free 5-8 yards since the secondary is spread out: RB has choice to follow the center or take the huge hole on the left.
c) in the odd-man front there seems to be less opportunity for linemen (interior linemen especially) to release and engage the 2nd line of defenders (namely, the LBs). this is partly due to the C-NG dynamic, but there's more to it, I suspect.
[more slides! -ed]
- 3(odd front)-3-5
- Taylor lines up over C (0-technique); has 2-gap responsibility.
- DEs line up between tackle & guard (3- technique); have 1-gap responsibility.
- OLBs have contain responsibility.
- Man over center == center not happy; must snap ball & prepare to be demolished. I think just holding his ground here is a win for the center. Demand for double team also likely.
- Still, 6-on-5 in favor of the D.
- Ends do NOT run themselves out of the play: still 6-on-5.
- Taylor has 2-gap responsibility? Maybe just 'Taylor SMASH!' Responsibility? Either way, with him over the nose, there's a lot of pressure put on the center to execute a good shotgun snap and engage the guy 3cm from his face.
- I don't see how a successful inside run is executed here, b/c there's less oppurtunity for interior linemen to advance to the 2nd level (to wash out the LBs). This is basically b/c no one has the opportunity to run themselves out of the play, and only the NG has 2 gap responsibility.
- A double on Taylor allows a DE into the heart of the backfield (same if a guard immediately releases to the 2nd level).
- Assuming Taylor's goal is to SMASH!, major disruption in the backfield is likely w/o a double team.
- Assuming Taylor's goal is to control 2 gaps (no double needed), the MLB (and OLB) is free to flow to the ballcarrier. If there are no doubles at all, the tackles are free to washout the OLBs, allowing for a potential break in containment. BUT:
- If Crable (or the other OLB) can get contain, the MLB is still free to flow to the ballcarrier. Plus, that safety has had more time to move up toward the LoS in run support since the RB has had to dance away from the point of attack & find another lane toward the outside.
- Recall: the purpose of the spread IMHO, is to create more room to run up the middle, NOT to allow the ballcarrier to run outside (this is where half the defense lies). I mean, why spread the defense sideline-to-sideline just to have the ballcarrier run that way?
- Isn't it better to have the RB run E-W instead of N-S? Especially when the formation is designed to run up the middle?
3) the key to any defense is it's ability to stop the run, specifically and most especially up the middle. IMHO, everything else defensively is built on that single basis. It forces teams into 2nd & 3rd & longs, predictable passing situations. General discomfort. These of course lead to Turnovers & changes of possession. Certainly, if one can stop the run without creeping a safety up or all out run-blitzing, your D should be in good shape to allow your team to regain possession.
4) The LBs in the odd-man scheme should tend to crowd the line and not drop back too far into a deep zone on a pass. First, we'd rather have these QBs pass into 7-8 man coverage. Second, most pass plays in this offense are quick slants or hitches, not deep routes over the middle or the long sideline up & out where the QB needs a rocket to complete the pass safely. Third, the LBs need to be aware of the ISQD or scramble.
About the slides: the 1st 2 (pre-snap & post-snap) are representative of the formations when UO (or ASU, iirc) were in a 4-wide 2-back set (QB + RB). It's the Option run where almost every time, it was a handoff up the middle (especially in the UO game). We just got gashed. A few times UO motioned a 3rd guy into the backfield to disguise the direction in
which the QB could take the ball (or to show the possibility of a traditional triple option). Results were the same: 2 OLs released to engage the 2 MLBs waaaaay to easily. DEs running up-field out of the play. The 2nd 2 slides show what I imagine would be the most logical way for a odd-man front to handle this offense. I haven't accounted for the passing options, but as I said, it's not the offense's preference to throw the ball and I figure no matter what D formation you're in, you need to cover the WRs pretty tight in zone, man or otherwise.
I do want to say that this theory is by no means foolproof. Hey, I'm no football coach, hell I never even played organized football. But I have read a few books and heard a few coaches talk (sometimes they let something slip that is more than fluff). This certainly doesn't guaruntee a win over UO. It probably doesn't do much to stop the perfect passes Dixon threw for long TDs, or the statue of liberty plays, taken on their own. But I do think the game would have at least been competitive. I mean, who knows, if they get 1-3 YPC up the middle instead of 5-8, maybe that's more 3rd & longs, more predicitable passing situations, more discomfort for UO: a kind of football butterfly effect. It might have led us to a win over ASU, but just about any single thing, if done differently, would have led to a win there (literally EVERY individual event in that game led to the worst case possibility for M). But I do think that this scheme gives us the best chance to win. Especially when you consider that it really just means playing Crable standing up off the line (no change in personnel needed- the last thing we need is more LBs on the field who couldn't beat out C Graham for PT).
I also can't explain why, if LC & Herrmann did indeed employ this tactic vs the spread 3-4-5 years ago in the aftermath of NW2000, they aren't using it now. Maybe LC is delegating too much to English, who really doesn't know about this idea. I do know that, after 9/1/07, anything is possible. It's not just the score of that game, but the decisions the defensive staff made: stunting Dlinemen every 3 plays in the 1st half against the spread-option, dropping Taylor off the line as a spy for the QB in that last drive. To me, it's these very specific, very illogical decisions made by the defensive staff that has led to the failures so far this season. Not so much the offensive predictability or play-calling or team speed. I think the coaches literally did not put the defense in the best position to be successful.
Well, I hope you find this interesting, if not comforting. I know that after the ASU game, I needed concrete reasons for how & why M could have lost that game. Good or bad, it led me to think that the coaching staff is not making the best decisions from a defensive formation perspective. For me, there's comfort in knowing how it happened. Plus, it gives me more hope that we can beat teams who don't run the spread-option.
So there you have it. I should point out that Michigan may not have the personnel to run this odd man front. Taylor can probably swing the NT and Johnson one of the DE spots, but where does Tim Jamison play? Not as a defensive end except on passing downs. And who is the second DE? John Ferrara? Who rotates in when folks get tired? Etc. Also, Michigan often went with an even front a year ago against spread option teams and crushed that all the same. (In no game did Michigan deploy the 3-3-5 exclusively or even situationally; generally Michigan would come out in it for one drive and then go back to the nickel, swapping off irregularly throughout the day.)
But... the arguments made *do* sound convincing, and I think a major problem with our run defense against both Oregon and Appalachian State was the inability of our DTs to control two gaps. The holes were usually between one of our DTs and our DEs running themselves upfield. Our linebackers hardly ever had the luxury of flowing to the ball without dealing with a blocker, usually one who got out to the second level in a hurry.
I'm trying to pull down the game so I can bring forth some highlights... this is not going that well. So a double-barrel UFR blast tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to do video clips, but maybe not. There's not that much to discuss about the defense: it sucks.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Wow. I believe this is the first time in Blogpoll history that voters have spit on the general consensus for #1 and gone their own way, and not only is AP/Coaches #1 USC not first but they aren't even second. Oklahoma and LSU have surged into the top two spots on the strength of their opening two weeks; USC gets to return serve this weekend against Nebraska. Other major gaps between the bloggers and the AP:
- Penn State is the highest ranked Big Ten team instead of third. The three suffered to be in the poll:
PSU 8 12
Wisc 9 7
OSU 11 10
I'm obviously biased, but the BP ordering makes much more sense given Wisconsin's narrow escape over UNLV and OSU struggling with Akron. PSU, meanwhile, clunked Notre Dame... though it remains to be seen how meaningful that is. Initial returns: not very.
- Bloggers are much higher on Oregon (#14) than the AP (#19).
- They're also sufficiently impressed with Washington and South Florida to move them in at #22 and #21, respectively; both are unranked by the AP.
- Virginia Tech, barely hanging on at #25 in the blogpoll, is #18 to the AP.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:We now have some ammo:
- Rakes has some weird placement for a lot of teams, probably because of resume ranking stuff, which I will get to later. Anyway: Arizona State #5?
- Bruce Ciskie is still holding on to Boise at #21. The Fiesta Bowl is so over, Bruce.
- One of many totally egregious rankings from Dawg Sports this week: Cal #21. This is also a "resume" thing.
- Saurian Sagacity drops Cinci in at #10 after their fluky turnover fest win over Oregon State. No other voter has them higher than 17th.
- They also have Clemson #4. WTF?
- They also have Florida #17... WTF WTF?
- And they're not even the most pessimistic about UF: Rakes has them #20, Dawg Sports #23.
- The Hoosier report holds on to Miami at #22. Miami(OH)? No.
- Dan Shanoff puts Rutgers #3.
There are more wack anomalies with the ballots of Rakes and Dawg Sports. It's all pretty weird out here in week two.
Hey, at least no one put Appalachian State #13. Not that they could have if they wanted to anyway.
Note: the CSS below is messed up. Sorry. Will fix ASAP.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
This week's Mr. Bold. is not SMQB but another proponent of this "resume ranking" thing I railed against last week: Dawg Sports. To get a number like 9.0 in this category, you have to be totally insane. One glance at this ballot confirms: UCLA #3, Washington #4, Missouri #5, BC #6, etc. etc. etc. Because beating one of the worst schools in a BCS conference (Stanford and Syracuse for UCLA and Washington) and a respectable mid-major (BYU and Boise, respectively) is much more impressive than beating Auburn on the road (#9 USF)? And beating Tennessee thoroughly means nothing if a couple quick scores in a road game against Colorado State narrows that game and causes you to rank Cal #21? Pure resume ranking often produces incoherent results in the first few weeks, but this ballot doesn't even make internal sense and comes dangerously close to the level at which I would spike a ballot.
Look: it's good that bloggers have paid attention to the first couple weeks enough to elevate LSU and ding VT and do all the things that made this week's poll an interesting item, but there is a happy medium between rote AP "they win they stay" and this stuff. At this point, polls should still have some element of projection if only because many teams haven't actually shown their wares on the field. When we get into week five and week six, resume rank all you want (and by the end of the year, you should have completely discarded your preseason projections for Actual Events), but at the moment is leads to incoherent, silly-ass ballots. All things in moderation.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award Ramblin' Racket returns to wrest the CK Award away from Bruins Nation after a one-week hiatus. Last year any blogger with the hubris to rank high in this category saw his team immediately struck down... GT #5 deserves some smiting, oh yes.
Holy crap, what did Florida do last week that so soured Saurian Sagacity? The Straight Bangin' Award is theirs for dropping UF from #5 to #17 after the Gators beat Troy 59-31. Maybe the 31 alarms? Were there no meaningless garbage time touchdowns?
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive also goes to Dawg Sports. When you entirely throw out your previous ballot in favor of something insane, you tend to win here.
Falcon Nation, a Bowling Green blog, was unmoved by last week's events and wins Mr. Stubborn. LSU clattering Virginia Tech really only warrants a four-spot drop from #5 to #9? (Also: Oregon drops a spot after beating Michigan like a mule? I mean... obviously Michigan isn't that good, but that's harsh.)
The obviously starting point for Saturday's game is Jimmy Clausen, and while pundits who note it's hard to take much away from a game where he was limited by both the offensive playcalling and defensive expertise are somewhat right, I saw enough to be happy. There were several times when he held onto the ball for too long, including the first sack of the day where simply stepping up in the pocket and delivering a strike to any of the open receivers (they all had separation to some degree, including a lonely John Carlson in the middle) would have warranted a first down, but these are correctable issues. If our biggest problems from Clausen in a game starting against those linebackers in that atmosphere is a moderate case of happy feet in leaving the pocket too soon and a willingness to hold onto the ball instead of just throwing it away, I think that's a very good thing.
Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have found our quarterback. He wasn't perfect by any means, but there were a lot of positives to Clausen's play. He throws a great ball, both accurate and quick. He was sacked a few times, but considering the line's play and the amount of times he was able to get rid of it, I can't really put too much blame in his hands. He seemed like a quarterback with a purpose, a leader that the offense sorely needs. Perhaps what I was most impressed with was his toughness. We hear about him being this prima donna, but that wasn't the case at all. He got up after every hit and was even getting on some of the wide receivers when they weren't on the same page as him.
Jimmy Clausen is going to be very good. He handled himself about as well as could be expected.
Clausen's statistics are nothing special, and he occasionally held onto the ball too long or tucked and ran too early. Yet Clausen did show the resilience and poise that Brady Quinn demonstrated in the losing effort against Purdue in 2003.
A complete dossier of all Clausen pass attempts: DRIVE ONE
- five yard swing to Armando Allen
- Allen dumpoff.
- Allen screen.
- Long handoff to George West.
- Nine yard scramble; does not see wide open Carlson in endzone.
- Swing pass to Allen for loss of one.
- Three yard scramble.
- Incomplete Armando Allen screen.
- Six yard completion to Duval Kamara on third and twenty-five.
- Long handoff to David Grimes.
- Pass to David Grimes for eight yards. Not specified what this is but probably a slant or an out given the description.
- Long handoff to David Grimes.
- Incomplete fade to George West.
- Pass to Armando Allen for seven yards. At the end of the half, Penn State is in a prevent.
- Scramble for ten yards. This runs out the clock.
- Armando Allen swing pass for one yard.
- Pass incomplete to John Carlson. Possibly dropped or batted away, apparently a good throw.
- Six yard dumpoff to Will Yeatman on third and eleven.
- Out incomplete to David Grimes on a sprintout.
- Scrambles for three yards on third and twenty. A roughing the kicker call gives them another opportunity.
- Pass complete to Golden Tate for 42 yard gain -- not specified what the route was; called back for holding.
- Dumpoff to Carlson for five yards.
- Incomplete to Grimes; details omitted.
- Incomplete to Grimes... nearly intercepted?
- George West screen for four yards.
- Pass complete to Robby Paris for 35 yards... lots of YAC apparently.
- Completion to Grimes for 14 yards.
- "Decent pass" behind Kamara that is dropped.
- Interception by Justin King on overthrown ball.
All this adds up to:
I was very encouraged by what I saw of Jimmy Clausen on Saturday. Did he miss some reads? Of course. Did he hold on the football a couple of times? Absolutely. But there was much to like about his performance on Saturday. The most important thing was his poise. ... Jimmy Clausen is special. The Irish have a future star.
Maybe he threw downfield three times and mostly against Penn State's backups long after the game was decided, but by God that's a special swing pass to Armando Allen.
The final word goes to Black Shoe Diaries:
Jimmy Clausen is the best screen passer I've ever seen.
Official Naming. From the comments of SMQB comes the official name for this game:
He's not dead yet. The Free Press, citing the always reliable "people with knowledge," reports that Henne's knee injury is a 2-3 week thing:
People with knowledge of Henne's left knee injury expect him to be out at least 2-3 weeks.
(Nice blockquote there, Brian: it communicates nothing that the opening sentence didn't. God. Where's my mojo? It's gone.) If true, this would render the "OMG what if he medically redshirts" conversation moot. Mallett gets a three-week audition, probably loses to Penn State badly, and then Henne returns for our Insight Bowl push.
FEEL THE EXCITEMENT! Michigan is playing Notre Dame on Saturday and people are so desperate to get rid of their tickets on the frickin' 40 that they're offering them up for face on their blogs:
I have 4 excellent seats for sale for the upcoming ND game.
Section 22, 40 yrd. line, 75 rows up under the press box.
Would just like to recoup my cost only which is $60 face value + the
preferred seating surcharge of $63 or a total of $123 per ticket.
Let me know if anyone is interested.
Do they make winged stovepipe hats? Autumn Thunder discusses some more unconventional Michigan coaching candidates:
Meanwhile... if you think it's straightjacket time around here, Notre Dame fans have really gone off the deep end:
Make no mistake about it, the Notre Dame team we had out there could have beaten that Penn State team. Unfortunately, it's becoming rapidly apparent that our greatest opponent is ourselves. But fortunately, when you are your own worst enemy, you get plenty of time to work on beating that opponent. Schizophrenia, once again.
I love the idea that "schizophrenia" is the reason Notre Dame's players will make one good play amongst a host of bad ones, and not a lack of "talent" or "experience." Notre Dame net yards against Penn State: 199. Notre Dame rush offense: 119th. They're averaging -4 yards per game. Total points generated by Notre Dame's offense against Penn State: zero.
Sure, here it's kittens and crying children, but goddammit at least we know we suck.
Also in the realm of delusion:
Michigan lost, again. At least everyone thought we were going to be bad. But Michigan? Dayum. The pain of a Notre Dame loss is generally mitigated by 30% whenever Michigan also loses, but that number can go as high as 45% when Michigan's loss is at home to a Division 1-AA would-be powderpuff or by 30+ points. I say this acknowledging that Notre Dame sucks this year and will probably lose to Michigan on Saturday, but I am loving the fact that this is just the beginning for UM. This is the beginning of the implosion. We're rebuilding now, but they don't even get to start rebuilding until next year after they fire everyone except Bo's ghost(who, quite frankly, is not pulling his weight either). Icing on the cake: watching a certain UM blogger take his site offline rather than face the music. OMG sooooooo teh bedwett0r!
This would be accurate only if Michigan had sucked down Ty Willingham recruiting classes the past two years instead of consecutive top-ten classes (after evaluating everyone who got to campus). This year it will be tetchy and probably ultimately disappointing, but still decent enough to bridge the gap to a new regime. Michigan won't be throwing out like two contributing seniors or whatever at any point. As long as you're dreaming, you could ask for a bowl win and a college down that's not a hole.
Also: tough words from a dip who waited a full two weeks to deal with his own team's crap sandwich, but ND fans are always criticizing Michigan for not living up to standards they don't meet themselves.
Na ga da. Les Miles ain't talking:
"I know you guys want me to get into this, but I'm not," Miles told reporters. "I am at a great school with a great team. I'm at a place I love. I am not going to talk about any other school. That would be a waste of productive time for my team."
Someone start harrassing Tedford, please.
No deltas since I didn't vote last week. Lack of voting was Appalachian State self-pity related, obvs, and a general lack of knowledge about WTF happened in week one after the Hindenburg blew up. So some of the above may be spotty. Of note: the exclusion of the SEC trio I was pessimistic about preseason: UT got clunked good by Cal, Auburn blew it against South Florida, and Georgia's offense squeezed out four field goals in a loss to South Carolina.
Oregon is clearly a good offensive team, but they have no run defense and had the luxury of playing Michigan's disjointed crew. Still, six billion yards is six billion yards and the final score of that game could have been 56-7 with a couple breaks.
I am skeptical about UL after that Middle Tennessee game, and the end of the poll is a melange that is mercifully mid-major and Hawaii free. It does not matter what Hawaii does the rest of the season: I will not rank it except as a 20-25 afterthought given their schedule, the Boise loss, and the LTU game.
Any comments or corrections are most welcome.
Yeah, I've gotten a lot of email of late, as you might imagine. Quickly, quickly:
Did I miss it or did you not criticize Lloyd for the 2 point conversion in the 3rd quarter? [note: this email came after App St. -ed] Of all the gaffes in that game, that one was just crystal clear and indisputable. You don't go for 2 in the 3rd quarter unless you are a zillion behind. It is incorrect mathematically and it sends a message to the other team that you are desperate. Just what A State needed at the time. Bo would have said - "Kick the point, stuff 'em and let's go back and get some more".
UM Ken in Troy - Old Guy - '68 BS, '84 MBA
PS - I have always admired Lloyd's integrity and what he has accomplished. That should not be dismissed. But it is now time for a regime change. The king (Bo) is dead, long live the king!
I did not criticize Carr for that decision because I'm not exactly sure what the right move is there. I lean towards that being wrong because 1) you have not established your field goal kicker and should prefer touchdowns (er... "more heavily prefer" would probably be better) and 2) your offense is racking up lots of yards against Appalachian State and you should expect to score another touchdown. So... yes, I think that was the wrong call but there was so much to criticize some thing slipped through the cracks.
A positive note on recruit Elliot Mealer from an Ohioan:
I got to see '08 early commit, Elliott Mealer of Wauseon. My former high school football team played Wauseon last Friday, and he is probably a little more than 300 pounds, yet stil playing TE. They ran off-tackle to take advantage of the huge down block Mealer provided. They seriously ran the ball 90-95% of the time and 80-85% of runs went to his side. It seemed like he was taking about three or four defending players out of the play every down. Additionally, he played some defense even though he wasn't the focal point of the defense like he seemed to be on offense. Defensively he ended up with three or four sacks against a sub par offensive line and a clueless quarterback.
Watching this game really changed my mind about Mealer. I played against him his sophomore year and my brother played against him his junior year and this year. We both thought he was a bum prior to this year. He changed both of our minds this year and now I'm thinking he might not be a complete bust. With his size and some toughing up, maybe he will see the field when he gets a little older. Its hard to say how good he really is though, because he plays mostly Division 4 and 5 teams (In Ohio, the higher the division the smaller the school).
"Might not be a complete bust"... sweet! It might not matter; if Ohio State offers Mealer (looking more and more possible with Josh Jenkins looking unlikely and targets getting thin on the ground) and Carr retires Mealer, a lifelong OSU fan, is probably one of Michigan's biggest flight risks.
One of the nice things about this blog is that there are a lot of intelligent commenters. The post about who was responsible for the field goal block got a lot of interesting responses; Aaron Lewis provides the most definitive answer over email:
I played football down the road at Albion College. While I was there, a guy by the name of Dave Arnold (http://csurams.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/arnold_dave00.html) was the offensive line coach so he also was the coach for the FG team. He coached under Dennis Erickson when Miami won the national title and with the Seahawks.
Anyhoo, I played Crable's spot several times on FGs. You DO NOT LUNGE for ANYBODY. You step with your inside foot and simply lean to the inside. Stepping with your inside foot creates a stronger bond, for lack of a better word, with the guy inside you so that guys cannot creep through an inside gap and have more of a direct line to the kick point. Anything and everything must go to the outside for it is the longest and lengthiest route from a time perspective.
That said, Crable and Banks have a second step for their job. Once they step and lean to secure their inside gap, they also must look (literally just turn their heads) to their outside gap and throw up an arm jab once their inside is secure because they are blocking at the weakest protection points. Everyone else (save for the guys playing the exact same position on the opposite end) has direct protection on their outside gap from their fellow lineman. You step to the inside, lean to the inside, and arm jab late to the outside if you can. If you look at the video, the end on the right side has no inside pressure after stepping so he takes on the guy to his outside.
The worst case scenario happened for this team with Banks and Crable. Banks got much too wrapped up on his inside gap with a man who was essentially blocked, taking himself out of the play by willingly washing himself down to the inside. You can see the offensive tackle's left leg is even past the midpoint(!) of Banks stance in the second frame, when Banks right knee should simply be behind the tackle's left knee.
Crable compounds a small mistake into an utter disaster by wholeheartedly going after a guy who is the least threat, essentially taking himself out of the play and opening up the kick for a disaster. Which, of course, it was. I would say that as a senior he should know this, but people often forget that even the most important special teams roles are taken on by guys who have little to no experience at them. Coaches often throw together a mix of veterans (who they assume won't lose their heads) and young players who they want to get on the field, but normally none are comfortable unless they play the same role throughout the season. You could probably say with a more informed opinion, but I have little doubt that Crable did not play that position last year. Nobody plays the same special teams role for three or four years straight save for kickers.
So there you go: blame to both Crable and Banks and the Michigan special teams coach, who doesn't exist.
Question on the Offense UFR...I was at the game and it seemed like a recurring problem was Henne struggling to get the play off as the play clock was winding down. Tough to tell if this would be Henne's fault or Debord's but it just looked like Henne was rushing the calls to get the snap off (while trying to set guys in motion or check to another play) and maybe this led to some of the false starts because everyone was out of synch?
Did you notice this being as much of a problem as I am remembering it?
I did not notice this particular issue in either game except in certain instances where the playcall got in late and the result was either a timeout or the world's most disastrous delay of game call. But I could be wrong. Commenters?
I'm glad I didn't have a blog following last week's loss, because I probably would have put some shit out in a rage that was regrettable later. I'd just like to point out, though, that your unconditional surrender was included in the ESPN Page 2 piece, and I was kind of embarrassed to think that everyone reading that would see UM as a program surrounded by fairweather quitters. (You're making me look stupid, panda jerk!)
Much more importantly, such a statement also reinforces the existing culture among a lot of younger fans that they should throw in the towel as soon as anything goes wrong with the team, and that only undefeated teams really deserve their support. Even when I was on campus (2000-2004), that attitude was way too widespread, and when someone as widely read and respected as you puts their imprimatur on that behavior, it can only make things worse.
uld ask as a favor on behalf of all UM fans who don't want our fan base to be labeled as - and who especially don't want to it actually become - spoiled, golf-clapping, whiny and spineless that you please refrain from surrendering our superiority again. I can understand surrendering for the season, but not for all time. I also truly think that almost any group of fans can concoct a list of Times My Team and the Universe Generally Tried to Fuck Me in the Pooper, and the lists would be largely comparable. I don't think we're unique in that regard, even though it certainly seems like it as a fan. The Lions, on the other hand, have a list that is head and shoulders above anyone in sports.
(STW P. Brabbs)
I'm all for profiles of potential coaches, and the limitless optimism you and I usually share certainly would be suspect at this point, but come on already! My friends and I have thanked the big guy upstairs many a time for having intelligent, entertaining discussion of M Football (read: not collegefootballnews.com or anything mainstream) finally, and we need you -- stop bitching out and sack up! Please:
1. Ditch the Emo Week banner with the crying already - it was funny and appropriate for a week, but we're Michigan after all - let's act like it.
2. Rally the base with the ups and downs -- obvious down being "defense = suckitude," but optimism is possible in watching the offense rack up 300 yards in the first half -- if we stop throwing picks and getting freak "lose points" moments (Brown's fumble with the cast on, two sacks that pushed back/eliminated the possibility of field goals, etc.) and if Henne hadn't gone down, the 2nd half could have at least made the score look respectable. The Big Ten doesn't have the speed/schemes to screw with us, etc. We have to believe the defense can not blow this much all year, and if they even bandaid it, the offense should dominate as they mature together.
3. IT'S NOTRE DAME WEEK -- let's do it proper (although humor is probably necessary) with some Holtz-laughs, some bashing of Rudy, etc.
4. Notre Dame stat of the week:
*Charlie Weis 20+ point losses in his last 13 games: 5
*Lloyd Carr 20+ point losses in his 13 year career: 3
5. Positive coaching search omen worth mentioning:
1930s -- Kipke suffered four 32+ point losses; he was replaced by FRITZ CRISLER.
1960s -- Elliott suffered three 32+ point losses; he was replaced by BO SCHEMBECHLER.
2007 -- Lloyd suffered one 32 point loss; he was replaced by _______________???
Before those two guys you have to go back to the 1800s for 32+ point losses, which were obviously wiped clean by (a) happening during the first 10 years of the program and (b) Yost being God.
Sorry for the ramble -- just please come back and be badass for Michigan again. If you fold up in the blogosphere because of a couple of losses, those other bitch bloggers (i.e., the terrorists) win.
These men are right. In our time of trial we must remember our hatred. Hatred makes us strong. We are weak without it. I have declared this "Emu" week. I dedicate it to all the ways in which Jimmah Clausen and Charlie Weis are the very embodiment of earthly evil. I will be relentless.
Hey... Clausen, the spiky-haired douche with fey gestures store called... they're all out of you!
I'll work on it. I'm rusty.
|Head Coach, California|
|Offensive Coordinator @ Oregon||1998-2001|
|QB Coach @ Fresno State||1992-1997|
|Offensive Assistant @ Calgary (CFL)||1989-1991|
|Grad Assistant @ Fresno State||1987-1988|
|Six years as a quarterback in the CFL; before that four years at Fresno State.|
Jeff Tedford has been California's coach for the past five years and is entering his sixth with the Bears as a top ten team. This is a remarkable turnaround with a program historically on par with Kentucky, Minnesota, and Iowa State. This Stassen query for the years 1980-2001 demonstrates Cal's historic peers:
75t Indiana 0.42540
75t Kansas 0.42540
80 Missouri 0.40121
81 Cincinnati 0.39549
82 California 0.39474
83 Minnesota 0.39271
84 Kentucky 0.39069
85 New Mexico 0.38627
86 Rutgers 0.38382
87 Iowa State 0.38320
(I would also like to highlight this baby for future reference:
97 Texas Tech 0.32738
) From these ashes, Tedford has wrought near magic. Tom Holmoe left the Cal program in total disarray, going 4-7, 3-8, and 1-10 to close out his tenure there. From this meager straw Tedford spun a 7-5 2002, Cal's first winning season since 1993. He won Pac-10 coach of the year. Two years later he had the Bears at 10-2. Other than Cal's 1991 10-2 season, this was the program's high water mark since the 1950s. Ayoob was not booya the next year and Cal dropped to 8-4 before rebounding to 10-3 a year ago; this year Cal has beaten Tennessee and Colorado State. The Colorado State game was an uncomfortably narrow 34-28 win fueled by two CSU touchdowns scored on reserve defensive backs akin to Michigan's hiccup against Ball State a year ago.
|As UO OC|
Xs and Os Proficiency: Vast on the offensive side of the ball. A former quarterback at Fresno State and in the CFL, Tedford has developed a reputation for developing first-round NFL draft picks at quarterback who subsequently are collosal busts: Trent Dilfer, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller, and Aaron Rodgers were all Tedford-tutored quarterbacks drafted high by the NFL. Dilfer managed to carve out a career as a game manager after imploding spectacularly early in his career. Smith was an epic bust. Harrington and Boller are still playing but have looked awful. Aaron Rodgers will replace Brett Favre when he retires in 2430.
Tedford's remarkable ability to dupe NFL scouts into drafting his system quarterbacks speaks to an offensive scheme that maximizes the abilities of his players. At right, Cal's total offense and scoring offense in the Tedford era year-by year, plus the last two years of his tenure as Oregon's offensive coordinator. (The NCAA does not have data before 2000 available on the internet.) While not quite as dominant as Brett Bielema's numbers as a defensive coordinator, Tedford has turned in offenses somewhere between very good and great every year since 2000 save for his first season with a Cal team that was 1-10 the year before. (Cal's scoring offense that year was bolstered by five touchdowns in the kick return game and the nation's third-best turnover margin.)
Recruiting: (All ratings here are Rivals' for expediency's sake.) This could be something of a concern. Tedford's recruiting at Cal has been JUCO heavy; Michigan takes JUCOs at a rate of about once a decade. Tedford's first class was an ugly assortment of two-stars, but as a first-year coach coming into a disaster of a program that's to be expected. His second year things were better but still not good: mostly three stars with the occasional four mixed in. He did pick up a lightly-regarded athlete named Daymeion Hughes and a JUCO quarterback named Aaron Rodgers, though. 2004 was a major step forward with six four stars, including quarterback Nate Longshore and almost totally shirtless running back Marshawn Lynch, Rivals #28 player in the country. An unhealthy concentration of two-stars dotted the back end of the class, though. In 2005, he picked up some guy named DeSean Jackson -- his first five star -- and cut out most of the two stars. 2006 was similar without a player of Jackson's caliber; last year was a minor step back.
En toto: Tedford was obviously hamstrung by the Cal program's vortex of suck his first few years; since he has picked it up. He still operates under the shadow of USC and, increasingly, UCLA for most California recruits but occasionally nets a major score like Jackson or Lynch. Cal's dismal facilities and lack of instate cachet makes recruiting a tougher go that it presumably would be at Michigan. He's had a couple high profile classes and would probably be able to at least maintain Michigan's current recruiting level.
Potential Catches: Tedford has still not managed to best the USC behemoth, but that's a flimsy criticism at best. More to the point: he may not be able to recruit quite as well without the JUCO option (though I think this also flimsy); he hasn't had defenses commensurate with his offenses, and he's never actually reached a BCS bowl. A disappointing loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl during their 10-2, top ten season, is a disturbing indicator.
Relative Compensation: Tedford makes $1.8 million annually at Cal, approximately 300k more than Lloyd Carr. He also receives a $1 million bonus if he completes the 2008 season with Cal; a $1 million dollar signing bonus must be repaid if he does not complete the 2007 season with the Bears. His buyout is $150k per year if he leaves before the Memorial Stadium renovation starts and $300k afterwards. Tedford contract extends to 2013, so the fee would be $900k or $1.8 million depending on how long the hippies in the trees can halt construction.
Bottom line: Tedford would be expensive. Carr was undercompensated relative to his position and Michigan has the money with an athletic department running millions of dollars in the black every year, so they should be able to make it worth Tedford's while.
Would He Take The Job? Maybe. There were rumblings the past couple years about a potent
ial departure that Cal strove to quash with promises of massive facility upgrades. These have hit a snag -- hippies and all that -- but are still likely on the way. He's a West Coast guy through and through with no connection to the area and may not want to uproot his family when he has a good thing going at Cal. Still, the football environment is far friendlier in Ann Arbor than Berkeley, and the talent level is much higher.
Overall Attractiveness: I reserve the right to change my mind about this pending a review of the other attractive candidates (and the results of the forthcoming season), but Tedford should be the first name on the list*. What he's done at Pac-10 Indiana is staggering. He runs a pro-style offense that would fit Michigan's current talent well (and better than, say, Rich Rodriguez' spread option). He turned Joey Harrington into the third pick in the NFL draft. He's young enough to coach Michigan for 20 years but experienced enough (and in one place) to have built the sort of track record Michigan can be secure in. If he wants it, he should be the guy.
*(assuming that the real pipe dream guys like Meyer, Stoops, etc. are excluded; this list contains only reasonable candidates.)
9/10/2007 - Michigan 7-39 Oregon - 0-2.
Bo is dead.
And, apparently, when he died the spirit of the program went with him. I don't know where it went. Probably Tibet. There is probably a 9-month-old child somewhere in Tibet who has the spirit of the Michigan football program. What a dick, hoarding all that spirit we need. I hope his yak butter goes rancid. But here we are.
I posted the above on the eve of the season as part of a hype post featuring Bo's "The team, the team, the team" speech. On the left: Bo, weirdly confident, almost bemused by all this crap he has to put up with just to get the job. In the middle: a young, petrified-looking Don Canham. There are few expressions easier to read than the one he's sporting: "God, I hope I didn't screw this up." On the right: Bump Elliot wondering if someone off camera has a sandwich. "I'm hungry. I wonder if that guy has a sandwich. I wonder if he would give me his sandwich... probably not. I probably shouldn't have lost to Ohio State 50-14. This seriously compromises my sandwich-acquisition capabilities. Shit. I knew that two-point conversion was bad news."
In two games Lloyd Carr has gone from a potential mini-Bo, pending the successful resolution of his final season, to a definitive mini-Bump and Michigan is searching for the man on the left again ten games too early. And while I would still give Lloyd Carr a sandwich, I no longer want him mucking around with my football program. This is an opinion now universally held by Michigan fans, and the alternative is too mindboggling to consider. So going forward, the assumptions:
- Carr will retire at the end of the season.
- His assistants will be given nice severance packages and a firm handshake.
- Martin conducts Michigan's first open, national search for a new football coach since 1968.
There are competing theories out there. Tom Kowalski, who's a Lions guy and probably should not be trusted, asserted on the radio this weekend that Carr will wait until the last possible moment to retire to ensure his assistants get a crack at the job. This assumes that Carr has completely lost his mind and that this will not cause a major revolt among donors and fans. It can't be taken seriously.
There's also a hilarious debate amongst various Detroit columnists about whether Carr should be fired right now or resign right now or wait until the end of the year or whatever, which is a quintessential example of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Who cares if Carr goes now or at the end of the season? What matters is the man who replaces him. The conversation going forward here will focus on that.
As I was searching for the pictures of Bo featured in the above-linked post, I stumbled across a page the Bentley put up with items from their library; the above was weird and wonderful and did not quite fit with the post I was putting up, so I squirreled it away for another time, which is apparently now. The Bentley caption:
Bo Schembechler leaving hospital after heart attack at 1970 Rose Bowl [with Hal Coombes, University Entertainment, Tournament of Roses and Mrs. Helen Fowler, R.N. ] Date: 19700119
Bo, struck down after his program-defining victory over Ohio State, leaves the hospital and is accosted by some photographer. He wants a picture. Hal Coombes, University Entertainment, Tournament of Roses and Mrs. Helen Fowler, Registered Nurse, are appalled, but Bo accedes. Hal Coombes, UE, ToR and Mrs. Helen Fowler, RN, can't quite get over the awkwardness of the situation -- this man, just out of the hospital, still in a wheelchair, asked for photographic evidence of his weakness -- and end up looking like extras in a zombie movie.
But Bo does not care. Bo says what the hell, and smiles, and by all appearances actually means it, and Mrs. Helen Fowler, Registered Nurse, is confused and alarmed into inaction but thinks that if this guy here is so capable of dealing then things will probably be all right. We have lost that; it is time to go seeking again.