I used to be mad at my school. The defensive play was not cool. But I can't complain.
Sports fans and pundits often make the mistake of treating the last contest as too exemplary of the current state of things. Michigan's offense isn't so good to typically put up 500 yards on an okay Big Ten defense by halftime. Maybe its defensive mean isn't giving up 65 points after three overtimes. We probably won't give up five turnovers, or leave receivers on our 1 yard line with acreage of openness like -- what was it, two, three times? -- in every game.
But I will say that yesterday's 67-65 triple-overtime victory over Illinois is Michigan 2010 in extremis: the defense isn't going to stop anybody; kickers will miss; and with Tate or Denard, our offense won't stop unless it stops itself.
Sgt. Barwis's Lonely Harts* Club Band
White Boy, if you're out there, GET HER BACK TO WORK! You're our only hope.
4th quarter, man! Remember when not too long ago we were rooting for a team that routinely struggled to hold a two-score lead in the 4th quarter**? If it's possible to overstate the transition from Massey-Eat-Pizza to Eeeeee Barwis!, surely this blog will get there without me, but how happy were you, when the rounds of this game starting piling up like a Rocky Balboa fight, that we were the guys with the wolf-man's conditioning program?
This is a Rich Rodriguez team: more deserving of admiration than awe. It's both by design, and a design flaw, because Justin Turner giving 80 percent is probably better than Ray Vinopal's 110% effort, and the going theory is that we don't have Turner because 80 percent of anything doesn't get to play for Michigan these days. It's inspirational, and maddening, and really young, and it apparently can beat an average Big Ten team 67-65 in triple overtime.
I don't need a reason to root for Michigan, but I like to have one. I rooted for Lloyd because a man who could coach football and speak intelligently about Emerson was unique and good. Rich Rodriguez's team earned their playing time not just be being better than the other guys, but trying better. They are the ones who went through Barwis hell. They are the ones who stayed.
* Cause they've all got HART, get it?
** and when 7-5 was a "Year of Infinite Pain?"
Beating Illinois 67-65 isn't an end, unless it is made so. We have a sophomore offense and a freshman defense, and regardless of what traspired yesterday or in the next month, we have very good reason to think we'll be better. Let me show why...
Do You Need Anybody?
This comes from a conversation this week in response to an excellent diary by I Blue Myself about the huge leap Michigan is expected to take next year, simply by returning most of what's already a very good offense, and the defensive starters being more than a few months from senior prom.
Allow myself to quote... myself:
Would you trade Schilling, Webb, Dorrestein, Mouton, Banks, and the backup NTs and MLBs for another year of experience for Denard/Tate, the entire RB corps., Koger, the entire receiving corps., the other three offensive linemen plus all of their young backups? Maybe.
Would you trade them for that plus a magic wand that gets Jibreel Black and Craig Roh 40 lbs. heavier, puts another year under (and within) the belts of the young and hyped linebackers, transforms freshman DBs into sophomore corners, and transforms James Rogers into Troy Woolfolk. Um, yes please.
This got me thinking about when the last time we expected such a leap. I know this place likes charts, so I made a big one (er...three) for other recent annual transitions. What it does is try to put a value of performance that Michigan attained from each position in the years 2006 to '10, and project that of next year.
The positions are weighted, so like out of 56 "points" of performance that the offense can attain, 8 are attributable by the quarterback, 6 by the running backs, 5 each for linemen, etc. A 100-percent score for any given position is what you would expect from a well-scouted 4-star upperclassman. Ryan Van Bergen is a 100-percent positional fulfillment. The thinking goes that a team getting RVB production at every spot is the kind that can beat any team in the country.
For guys like Brandon Graham '09, there's an extra point awarded beyond the positional weight. A team full of these guys would not only be able to beat any team, but would be favored to do so. But that's not our expectation, and I'm trying to create an expecation percentage. Think of it as the chance that a given team will be an average (Illinois) Big Ten team.
The full spreadsheets are here (same link) so you can see how I rated everybody. Tabs at the bottom get you to different pages. Feel free to argue my numbers. Below are the conclusions:
The returning numbers are the weighted percentage of returning starters by position, so if a quarterback's coming back, that's 14% of the offense returning, whereas a returning fullback is 1.7% of an offense returning.
So if nobody gets hurt or transfers or makes a major regression, etc., we can look at the 2011 team and say they will about as good as the last Lloyd team. The point is that we're set up next year for a huge year-to-year progression:
|'06 to'07||'07 to '08||'08 to '09||'09 to '10||'10 to '11|
And Rocking Horse People Eat Marshmallow Pies
Am I fooling myself? I'm certainly worried about it. After all, this was said by Brian:
So… yeah. Michigan's defense improves in real, non-running-in-place terms. Maybe not much. But given the schedule they should claw their way to slightly above average, just like the offense.
...in the 2009 defensive preview. That preview projected improvements in BG, Ezeh, Mouton, Steve Brown replacing Thompson, Warren getting healthy, and Woolfolk taking over FS. It expected Mike Martin as a sophomore to be about as good as Taylor as a senior, Cissoko as a sophomore to be equivalent to Morgan Trent as a sophomore, Mike Williams to be on par with Charles Stewart, and then dropoffs from Will Johnson to RVB and Tim Jamison to Herron. How did that work out?
Better than expected: RVB being okay, and Roh being a better Jamison than Herron.
About as expected: Graham Beast Mode, Brown being good at linebacker, Woolfolk at FS when he could be a free safety, Martin.
Worse than expected: Ezeh>Ezeh, Mouton>Mouton, Warren>Warren, Cissoko=Trent, M.Williams=Stewart
Nothing in that preview mentioned a walk-on playing safety, Mike Williams being worse than said walk-on, J.T. Floyd as the best cornerback option opposite Warren, or the nuclear test site that was free safety.
I ran this again, using expectations as of the previous November, to see if this overrating of the future was endemic.
It is, especially the last couple of years. This is the result of all of the attrition and busts and whatnot. Each of these years we've been expecting Mouton and Ezeh to turn their respective lights on. We figured Martin would remain healthy. We figured the backfield this year would have a senior 2nd team Big Ten candidate (Woolfolk) opposite a sophomore blue chip (Turner) at corner, a 4-star sophomore (Emilien) or maybe a 5-star freshman at deep safety, and for Kovacs to be the worst, rather than the best, player in the backfield. Voila: minus-22.
Considering this exercise, I am starting to think the problem is not in our expectations for the future, but in a serious problem, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, to meet generally conservative expectations for improvement. Injuries to the defense's best two players can't be helped. Obi and Mouton should have some noticeable improvement. Your 4- and 5-star defensive backs (Cissoko, Emilien, Turner, Dorsey) should, as of mid-way through their sophomore years, be...I dunno...if not on the field, at least on the friggin' roster.
has destroyed so much goodness in the world that it would take a herculean effort by incredibly talented, system-perfect, quickly trained and generally healthy offensive players coached by a football genius to make up for it. (more about that in a minute).
The point of this is to see whether we should expect such disappointments again next year, and adjust accordingly. Here's the things that I am expecting to go right:
- Mike Martin returns, is healthy and an NFL-ready beast (+3)
- Jibreel Black makes a sophomore jump (+1)
- Roh makes a Junior jump, and is used at DE instead of LB (+2)
- Two of Jones/M-Rob/Furman/Fitzgerald/Herron are as good as Mouton and Obi have been this year (hold)
- Demens improves as a junior, isn't Ezeh in Sept-Oct (+2)
- Gordons become sophomores (+1)
- Kovacs remains Kovacs-ian (even)
- Woolfolk replaces James Rogers (+4)
- Floyd/random sophomore 3-star project is the soft corner instead of, like, a guy who was a high school QB this time last year (+2)
- Dime and nickel backs are sophomores, exist (+2)
That's 17 improvement points, not including any surprises or freshmen playing. Most are some version of replacing a guy who has played his position for two months going to a guy who has been there a year or more. Injuries will knock that back some since we are thin all over the place. But if I even yank that down to 11, we're talking about the same improvement the offense had between 2008 and 2009.
(flip the disc for Side 2)
Hey, remember when Michigan won games and people put lots of video on the internet? Me neither. But apparently they do. There's an SD torrent up already.
This week's headliner is Roy Roundtree being fantastic, as per usual:
The official site's highlight reel necessarily leaves out almost everything, but if you're looking for a quick primer on about 20% of the scoring here it is:
Wolverine Historian put together an extensive clip package that's after the jump.
Tim caught the on-field celebration:
Tim's photo gallery:
The halftime show was epic (and was recapped by the Hoover Street Rag):
This is an official petition for the band to have their insane wildcat tackle fake Brutus every week. For twenty minutes straight.
More interviews, highlights, and random bits after the jump.
Notes from today's postgame. Pictures, etc. coming tomorrow.
On the play where the ball hit the Illinois defender in the back of the head, it popped in the air, and Junior just stayed with the ball.
Everybody excited and smiling in the locker room. Players, coaches, staff, trainers, everybody was happy.
Sense of history with high score? "We really didn't realize it or pay attention. We were just out there playing." Never been part of a game with that level of excitement.
Couldn't really tell what happened to Denard when he went down. "We've got faith in our quarterbacks. Tate came in, he held his own, kept his poise, and drove us into the endzone."
The offense had tension in OT, knowing they didn't have any choice but to score.
Final 2-pointer: "Went inside, broke back out. Tate had me in sight, he threw the ball, and I just caught it." Juggled it a bit, but caught it. Falling down at the end was relief and happiness.
Bowl eligibility? "We didn't really discuss it because we know we've gotta keep going." Each additional win gets them into a better bowl.
On Rountree's day: "I was like 'damn, Roy can we get some?'" Told him to keep doing his thing. It's a team game, and they weren't concerned about him getting all the balls. The players knew from film study that the safeties and corners were going to play a certain way to leave that route open for the slots, and Roundtree took advantage.
When you woke up this morning what did you think? "I'm hungry." Didn't think he'd have a day like this, even though he's been working hard. When the ball comes his way, he has to make the most of his opportunities.
"[The offense] is wide receiver friendly. You know, we all gotta get open." They'll get the ball if they get open. QBs are making the right reads.
First big play: Denard read the safeties, and left him open. The Illini were scared of the run. "Last year, when I got hawked down, I just thought like man, I got the ball, I gotta score. When I saw it wide open like that, I said 'ain't nobody catching me today.'"
On setting a single-game receiving record: "Wow, that's crazy. Just gotta keep working, man. Today was a great day." Not worried about stats. "If we score, we've gotta score again. That's our motto on the offense."
Really not sure how Illinois was playing their D a lot of the time. His covered man was blitzing a lot, giving him 1-on-1s with the safeties.
Was the Illinois defense talking between plays or getting chippy? "We don't really get to hear what they're talking about." The fast tempo offense means no time to listen to the D.
"We can move on anybody. Any quarterback that gets in, that's how it is in practice. We rotate quarterbacks so we get used to all of them. It really wasn't a big deal. Just, if we play like we play, I don't think nobody can stop us."
Proud of the way the guys played. They showed heart and fight with their backs against the wall. "When your back's against the wall, you can go two ways. You can go forward or slump down. I didn't want anybody to slump down, and I don't think anybody did."
Experienced vet of triple OT games. "That's not easy on the heart." Feels good to be up by 8 at the end, but it's hard to make plays on D the longer the game goes. "I've been in triple overtime before. I think it was in the 40s, it wasn't in the 60s." Knew that the team's conditioning and the student section would make the difference at the end.
"We're still growing offensively. Again, we had five turnovers, which usually would kill us." Illinois does a lot of different things defensively, so the O got some new stuff this week. "Sometimes it was a grind, because we didn't get a lot of big runs." The runs helped set up play-action.
Denard was probably hurt on the helmet-to-helmet hit. "Certainly for his safety, you're not gonna put him out there." He had a smile on his face after, but you're going to be careful with a kid going forward. "We'll see where he's at tomorrow and go from there."
WRs made a lot of big plays.
Courtney Avery - "He battled." 3 true freshmen in the secondary, with a redshirt frosh underneath. "That's why I'm so excited about the future. They're playing, the guys that are injured will be back, we're gonna be a whole lot deeper." Glad to see how the young guys played today.
Bowl eligibility - "We talked about it last night." Every win after that elevates bowl status. "Our guys realize that, partilcularly our seniors." Each win going forward is even more important, but "It's been a month or more since we had that good feeling in the locker room."
GERG and Gibby both told him they were bringing the house on the last play. The pressure left a man open for Scheelhasse, but it got to him before he could make a throw. "On that one we sold out. It was a complete sellout and we're fortunate we got some pressure." The defense making a play "that's a perfect ending, in my opinion." Defense won the game for the team at the end.
"It's been a good week. Mr. Brandon and I both talked about that on the way over here. It's been a good week."
When Hemingway caught the tipped pass, Rich thought "we got our lucky break." When Gallon's big gain near the end of regulation was called back, he knew they'd need to catch a break in order to win.
Nothing particular on film they saw that would lead to Roy being open all day. "Last year he caught a long one and got caught." Didn't get caught on the first one today.
"I'm really proud of the way the players have handled everything." They've been ignoring the outside crap, staying focused. Even when they aren't playing the best, they hang together. "That's one of the main reasons we won today, because we talk about being all-in, and our guys are always all-in."
"We came up with some big stops when we had to." Young guys stepped up.
Knowing they had an all-out blitz on the last play, all he thought was "Let's stop 'em. I'll do my part, and I'll trust my teammates to do their part."
They were put in some tough situations defensively, and responded well. "Overall it was a great game on both sides, and we're just excited for the win."
Proud of bowl eligibiity, they were hungry after the past couple years.
On Vinopal's 3rd-and-1 tackle. "Ray. He played a great game. That was a huge stop for us. I was just proud of the way he payed, and same thing with Courtney and all those other young guys." There's still progression being made on D. "Ray's play. That was probably one of the best plays by a safety all year." Courtney had a similar one on the first half.
Huge win, finally bowl eligbilie, still some corrections to be made, but they're continuing to fight. "As long as we continue to fight, we'll be fine."
"The o-line played outstanding. That's one thing, I don't think they've been getting enough credit this year for the way we've been able to run the ball." Mike was just trying to run behind them and make the right reads.
In a game like this "I'm still feeling those hits, but it was well worth it."
Getting the sixth win under their belt allows them to focus on bigger things. It felt good to be able to sing the victors, and to give the home crowd something to cheer for.
At the end, everybody knew the defense was going to be able to get the final stop that they needed.
A triple overtime game is all about will and determination, and the result today just shows how hard they've been working.
When they were turning the ball over during the game, they knew they just had to count on the defense to make the stops (which they did) and be ready to score the next time out.
The team practiced short-yardage situations hard this week, so it was no surprise the defense was able to get the final stop they needed.
This was his first ever overtime game. "It wears on me. I'm a little tired right now."
"That was the craziest game I've ever witnessed, let alone be a part of it."
Being eligible to play in a bowl game: "Oh man. I'm so happy for myself, just to finally get that opportunity, but I've got two more years to still go to more bowl games. I'm more happy for our seniors, they've been fighting so hard."
On his first fumble: "I actually had a touchdown. That's what actually made me mad." His hands were a little sweaty from his handwarmer, and he lost the handle on the ball. He was able to move on though.
Being hit out of bounds in overtime "That hurt. I think I hurt the guy that I hit more than it hurt me though."
The pace of the game made it seem really frantic, even in the overtimes. "We won. You can't be mad about it." Going back and forth so much in overtime keeps you in a rhythm.
"I heard Roy Roundtree had a record day. That's one of my best friends, so I'm real happy for him." Glad that so many different guys got to score today, as well.
Illinois has a very diverse defense. Iowa and Indiana do fewer things, and focus on doing them well, but Illinois throws a lot more at you.
On Hemingway's off-the-helmet catch: "Junior saved me on that one."
Five turnovers are a sign that the team is young. When they start eliminating those mistakes, they'll be a better team for it.
Mike Barwis and his staff do a great job with conditioning. The team's ability to close out in a long game like this one is a credit to those guys.
At the end, "you're just thinking about getting a job done, and winning a football game."
The defensive performance: "We did a lot of different things today that we just put in this week. So the numbers may say otherwise, but guys came out and fought, and we got a win."
Defensive changes "Everybody seemed to take to it fine. You know, if we were playing what we've been playing I still think guys would have taken to it the same way. The coaches obviously felt like we needed to change some things up and they did it, and we got a win today... Just a few schematical changes and moving a couple guys around to different positions, and we had a chance to put a lot more different players in the game this week. Guys took to it."
On Vinopal and Avery: "They played with a lot of confidence, they know that everybody believes in them, and they made some great plays today."
It's great when the defense gets 3-and-outs, but in the end, the win is the most important part.
"This won't be my first bowl, but it's great for the younger guys to experience that, and for me to be here to experience it with them." Every win now is to get to a better bowl. "I felt for the guys the past couple years that couldn't make it."
On the final 2-point conversion, the defensive linemen did a good job flushing the QB out, and Jonas was just there to clean up at the end.
It's great to have Mike Martin contributing again, but Adam Patterson also does his job when he's in there. "Obviously when Mike came back out there he made some plays and he caused some ruckus."
So. That happened. If you are feeling like David after Dentist, you are not alone.
And you can't have one without the other…
Let's not blow it against Purdue!
|WHAT||Michigan vs Illinois|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, November 6th 2010|
|THE LINE||Michigan –3(?!?!?)|
|TELEVISION||National on ESPN|
Clear, around 40
Run Offense vs Illinois
Illinois appears to have a for-real defense this year after bringing in Vic Koenning, an established collegiate defensive coordinator with a recent history of success at Clemson and Kansas State. The three years before his hire, Koenning's Ds were 9th, 18th, and 39th in total defense, with that last stop a one-off year at Kansas State where he took the Wildcat D up from 117th. Ahem.
Illinois has been shutting down guys on the strength of a good defensive line (one that features MGoSouldongmate Corey Liuget) and the emergence of Martez Wilson (right) into something resembling the uber-hyped recruit he was. Wilson's by far Illinois's leading tackler with 68; he's second to Liuget in TFLs and sacks. Against the Big Ten:
That is pretty impressive, with the MSU game standing out as intimidating. The saving grace for Michigan are the numbers against Purdue and OSU, both teams that feature running quarterbacks. (Purdue actually featured two—they started off with fingerless Rob Henry until it was obvious he couldn't throw, then brought in Sean Robinson, using Henry as a tailback in their version of the inverted veer. It was freaky.) Pryor broke off a 66-yard run en route to 121 yards on just eight carries, but blew up his quad in the third quarter and did little but hand off when he returned, or Ohio State may have gotten some distance from the Illini. Unfortunately, Purdue's respectable YPC was on the back of a single 57-yard run from Al-Terek McBurse; the Purdue quarterbacks combined for 31 yards. Dan Dierking did average 5 YPC on 10 carries, FWIW.
Neither OSU, which tends to regard the spread option as a backup plan and had a Navarre-level statue for most of the second half, or an injury-decimated Purdue team is a particularly good comparison for Michigan. Neither are the rushing games of MSU and PSU (pro style) or Indiana (both injury ravaged and pistol-based). So we don't know much about this specific matchup.
Illinois has proven throughout the year that they'll be tough sledding, though, with Liuget a constant threat to penetrate and Wilson capable of running down Denard wherever he ends up. Getting a good release on him and chopping him to the ground will be important.
Key Matchup: Denard's Reads versus His Desire To Not Be Shattered. I'm pretty sure at this point that Michigan's read option plays are really just handoffs that attempt to get the opponent to respect the idea of a pull. Denard's already running so much that he invariably hands off even when it seems like he's got the edge like whoah. In a critical, critical (yes, another) game I'd like to see him take advantage of those opportunities.
Pass Offense vs Illinois
Michigan had an off week against Penn State, with Denard making a number of poor throws and/or poor decisions. When the receivers had an opportunity to rectify some of those mistakes they did not take them, and Robinson had his worst completion percentage of the year by a healthy margin. Penn State got no pressure, at least, and Denard's one-man play action continued to be very effective.
Meanwhile, Illinois is 25th in pass efficiency defense. They intercepted Ben Chappell three times, held him to just over 50% completions, and generally blew him up. Kirk Cousins was just over 50% himself but put up a good YPA thanks to some deep balls to BJ Cunningham; Illinois destroyed Robert Bolden. They got a pass against OSU since the wind and Pryor's injury limited the Buckeyes to 18 attempts, two of which were from the backup. They've got a good track record.
They've done this despite losing Terry Hawthorne to a stress fracture and Supo Sanni to something or other. Illinois moved a cornerback to safety and dropped two new starters in at corner, one of them a converted tailback. The difference between Justin Green and the guys Michigan is rolling out is one of experience—he's a sophomore—and talent, as he was a top 100 recruit who made a strange switch from Ohio State to Illinois. Still, he's a position switch starter and the team isn't suffering from it. A dollar to that position coach. Hawthorne's working his way back to health, which means that Illinois has three more competent cornerbacks than Michigan and now this is just getting depressive.
Anyway: Michigan should have success in the same vein they did against Penn State, where the threat of the run opens up passing plays that eat up big chunks of yards but third and long is almost futile. Michigan's success here will be dependent on Denard's accuracy and the situation Michigan finds themselves in.
Key Matchup: Denard and His Receivers MAKE PLAYS. Illinois, having seen Michigan's jagged passing success, will probably play it cool, giving Denard some opportunities to hit guys and those guys opportunities to bring balls in.
Run Defense vs Illinois
Last week's bold prediction was stupid indeed—encouraged by a not-awful performance against Iowa and anticipating that Penn State's offensive line would be a far less serious challenge, I suggested Michigan would hold Penn State under four yards a carry. Close! Except not close: PSU averaged 4.7 as Michigan switched from a four-man front to a debacle of a 3-3-5. Like the 2008 Purdue game, rumors are flying that Michigan is scrapping their bye week spectacular for something else, and with Craig Roh seemingly ready to put his lost year behind him and get his hand on the ground that will be more of a conventional 4-3 look, I'm guessing.
If the Iowa game is any evidence, that could be not awful against a conventional rushing attack even minus Mike Martin. Unfortunately for Michigan, their array of freshmen, position converts, freshman position converts, and LSD-tripping ferrets is going up against a shotgun triple option attack. Michigan doesn't even know where they're supposed to be on an inside zone. Illinois has used the option, a healthy dose of zone reads of all varieties, and some Nathan Scheelhaase scrambling to do this against relevant opponents:
Unfortunately, the "relevant" bit of the Big Ten numbers is definitely more Indiana-Purdue-PSU than OSU-MSU.
As mentioned in the scouting post from the bye week, expect to see a lot of this:
Illinois runs a lot of triple option. Against Purdue they were content to run basic zone reads since the backside DE was crashing down all day, but Michigan's guys should be experienced at dealing with that. The triple option not so much. With Martin on the injury list he figures to be limited, leaving Mouton, Demens, Spur Of The Week, and Kovacs to play the proverbial assignment football and tackle in space. Kovacs seems suited for this, and Demens may be—still too early to tell—but I'm worried about Mouton and the other guy, whoever it is. Also I'm worried about…
Key matchup: Freshman cornerbacks and safeties [Ed-M: and ferrets] tackling on the edge on the option. The option puts a lot of pressure on your safeties to come up and fill ably, which apparently means we're going to have the privilege of watching Ray Vinopal try to tackle guys fifty pounds heavier than him.
Pass Defense vs Illinois
Two weeks ago I would have said this will be a sidelight on third and long and Scheelhaase will do well not to turn it over, but then Michigan played Penn State and Scheelhaase averaged 9.7 YPA with 4 TDs against Purdue. His long was again a pass to his tailback and no receiver brought in anything longer than 17 yards, but even if Illinois's passing game is an all-dink affair Scheelhaase is getting comfortable with it. He was 16 of 20 against Purdue, 13 of 21 against Indiana, and 15 of 19 against Penn State, all in grindingly effective games for the Illinois offense. His only bad day in the past moth was against Michigan State. That was a very bad day (3 INTs), but we can't expect something like that to recur, especially against this secondary.
I'm not sure Courtney Avery could have been worse than JT Floyd against Penn State but "secondary just as good as it was against Penn State" is a recipe for disaster. Moving the safeties around worked about as well as it did last year, and the year before. James Rogers was out for most of the PSU game in favor of Talbott so we may see our long-held dream finally come to fruition: a secondary made up of nothing but true freshmen without a fourth star to any of their names.
Key matchup: Demens and Mouton getting their zone responsibilities right. I mentioned this in passing but to reiterate: I now think it was Demens screwing up against Iowa since in the PSU game the guy lined up over the slot receiver carried him all the way several times, leaving the linebackers to deal with problems underneath. Illinois gets a large chunk of their passing yards after the catch, so dealing with mesh and whatnot will be important against a passing attack that looks short almost without exception.
For the first time in a while it looks like the opponent's return game is about as bad as Michigan's. The Illini are 118th(!) in punt return average at just over two yards a pop and have had a Michigan 2008-level epidemic of muffed punts. Two of those gave Penn State its (sigh) only points outside of an eighty-yard touchdown strike. Kick returns aren't much better at 89th.
Illinois has the usual massive advantage at kicker (15 of 17 on the year). Their punting has also been outstanding; they're sixth nationally.
Key Matchup: STOP KICKING THE DAMN BALL
- Martin's ankle prevents him from doing anything useful.
- Michigan doesn't look like they know what they're doing against the option.
- The secondary.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- We get some sort of bizarre Minnesota-2008-like turnaround as the coaches finally realize they should be doing something basic with all these noobs.
- Denard's hitting his passes more accurately and Illinois can't deal.
- Pryor's success running presages success.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 8 (Baseline 5; +1 for What The Hell Was That?, +1 for If James Rogers Really Got Beat Out By Talbott Last Week The Secondary Is Literally Three True Freshmen and Kovacs, +1 for And Then We're Throwing a Freshman Spur Out There Against The Option, +1 for Assuming That Martin Is Not Useful Until He Is Again, –1 for Denard, –1 for Denard Plus Bonus Ninja Tricks, +1 for FFFFFFUUUUUU.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for God, A Win, Any Win, +1 for Rich Rodriguez Job Reclamation Project, +1 for Denard Career Flight Path Maintenance, +1 for Seriously That A Win, Any Win Bit, +1 for A Brief Respite From The Enduring Misery Of Life Is Needed In These Dark Times, Oh Lord, I Beseech Thee, Hear My Call And Respond To Your Good And Faithful Servant, Or At Least, You Know, Your Middling And Somewhat Forgetful Guy Who Resents The Idea Of Servitude, Oh Lord, Lord.)
Loss will cause me to... drink.
Win will cause me to... open one eye and look around in case the falling building didn't actually hit me.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
WTF, Vegas? Michigan being favored here seems insane after last week on both ends. I foresee Illinois's offense tearing through Michigan's like it's almost not there on both air and ground, with some rough spots from Scheelhaase ending a drive here and there and Michigan's return to a somewhat sane defense making the going slightly tougher this week. The Illini won't score on 7 of 9 drives. More like 5 of 9.
Michigan's offense, meanwhile, will have the same promising-but-not-quite-there style they've had since the Big Ten sledding got tough, exploding for a couple of long touchdowns and putting together a number of long drives that get Michigan into the high twenties but sputter out in missed fourth downs, missed field goals, and penalties.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Michigan goes back to a 4-3 under look and it seems like an improvement.
- Mike Martin does not play effectively.
- Courtney Avery has a less bad day than JT Floyd did against Penn State.
- Illinois, 37-30.
Newsbits of importance from Tom. Dark I'm-not-saying-I'm-just-saying rumors about Craig Roh and Demetrius Hart have been flying around the internets this week. Tom clarifies. On Craig Roh:
My source told me that Craig has been concerned with his position switch to linebacker, and believes he is much more effective as a defensive end.
Craig actually vocalized his concern about his position to the coaches after the Penn State game, and my source says that he has been playing much more on the defensive line during practice this week.
Roh's apparently been handed to Bruce Tall and will no longer be mostly a linebacker. This is both good and another instance of players coaching themselves. Meanwhile, Demetrius Hart decommit rumors are false:
There was a slight mix up with Demetrius' enrollment with Michigan, but it has been cleared up. That was the issue, it wasn't that anyone was recruiting him harder, or anything along those lines. Everything has been straightened out, and his mom says Demetrius will be at Michigan in January.
Insert the usual CYA boilerplate about how anything can happen, but you can focus your panic elsewhere.
Crowded. JT Floyd is officially out for the year with "freak" ligament damage in his ankle. Hooray.
The Never Forget banner guy has updated it, and if any further members of the secondary wish to make themselves unavailable they'd advised to do it quickly because we're running out of room:
New additions are Michael Williams (concussions), JT Floyd (ligament damage), Jared Van Slyke (leg injury), and Vlad Emilien (transfer). Available locations are limited to that patch of maize underneath the crying wolverine. Given the state of the secondary this is getting considerably more RR-fault-ridden as the year goes along. Justin Turner and Vlad Emilien's transfers are big deals with the free safety depth chart reading "Ray Vinopal" and the corner depth chart reading "Random Three Star Freshman Projects and James Rogers."
At least the Floyd injury has been a productive one for the legions of Michigan photoshoppers:
So we've got that going for us. Courtney Avery will draw into the lineup for Floyd.
Okay, a final final final word or two. It's unfortunate that Anchorman references are vastly overused because sometimes there's nothing you can say except…
…I'm not even mad, I'm impressed. That is amazing. I'm sitting on this pile of ninja corpses, covered in blood. As the sun rises over a scene of indescribable gore I laugh, because what else is there to do?
Probably not in the special section about how naughty Michigan's been:
the committee wrote that "though serious," the overage was "far less extensive than originally reported and that no student-athletes were substantially harmed."
Though this was obvious as soon as the smoke cleared last August because the piece was so shoddily written, it is now official. Hurrah for pyrrhic victories.
Watch this. The House Rock Built's "Stuffing The Passer" series is the best thing going in the CFB blogosphere right now:
If "Shit My Dad Says" is being made into a sitcom, Stuffing The Passer can't be far behind.
Elsewhere in coach grumbling. You've probably seen this but Brandon Graham has some depressing quotes that point towards the Those Meddling Kids theory:
I’m surprised they didn’t stick with what Coach Robinson was running,” Graham said of the 3-4 the team deployed in 2009, its first year under Robinson. … “Let Coach Robinson play his defense,” Graham said. “Let him do what he knows. He was thrown off, I would say. I know the 3-3-5 is what he (Rodriguez) has been doing for so long. He’s just got to adjust to the Big Ten.”
Michigan ran a 4-3 under last year but that's beside the point. Those quotes from a guy who was in the program last year indicate that no one who doesn't know a 3-3-5 like the back of his hand is ever going to be comfortable as a defensive coordinator at Michigan as long as the WVU guys are around saying things like "hey it's a bye week, I've got this great idea."
While everyone says "scheme is overrated," Michigan's offense puts the lie to that. It's not necessarily the 3-3-5 itself—this is not a BLANK can't work in the Big Ten argument—but attempting to run an exotic niche defense with a guy who doesn't know it (and evidence suggests is a terrible coach anyway).
I'm pretty sure this is as close as we'll get to an opinion from Angelique Chengelis, if that's actually what it is:
Hope for next year?
Much has been made about Michigan's defense, which is near the bottom of several national categories, including total defense. Illinois was in a similar spot last year, but has made strides under new defensive coordinator Vic Koenning:
Scoring defense: 30.2 (96th) in 2009, 16.8 (12th) in 2010
Total defense: 403.3 (91st) in 2009, 301.4 (15th) in 2010
Pass defense: 248.8 (100th) in 2009, 183.9 (19th) in 2010
Rush defense: 154.4 (76th) in 2009, 117.5 (26th) in 2010
That certainly reads like a "hint, hint."
Defensive antidote. Via Wolverine Historian:
Penn State jerkos. As an internet fanbase, Penn State has a remarkable knack for accusing others of pathologies they're displaying literally within the accusation itself. The latest example is a piece at Black Shoe Diaries the author probably thinks is Swiftian satire that takes a sentence from the game recap, some random comment I don't recognize and didn't make about the Terrence Talbott whiffed PBU that turned into 40 yards, a somewhat maudlin paragraph from Maize and Brew supporting Rodriguez, and a random quote from pissed off David Molk. It combines these to show how self-centered Michigan fans are… in a post whining that Michigan fans didn't give Penn State its proper respect.
BSD can talk about self-centered behavior when they do this:
Indiana has a legitimately very good pass offense. They had 41 opportunities to make catches and made 40. Chappell almost never went to the wrong guy and missed on maybe five of his 65 attempts. Their receivers are tall and fast and shifty. One dollar they're the most productive pass offense in the conference at the end of the year.
Michigan State has somehow acquired the without-question best stable of tailbacks in the league; Iowa's Adam Robinson isn't bad but he's not the equivalent of Baker/Bell/Caper, and there's only one of him.
Indiana imploded and Michigan State's run game is pretty mediocre. We tried the credit-the-opponent bit and then all of the opponents turned out to be much worse on offense than Michigan made them look. Doing it now against your gritty moxie ginger neckbeard quarterback would be delusional. Penn State sucks and Michigan is worse. But I said Ogbu is a beast, so your pathetic insecurities can be a tiny bit less pathetic. Let's hold hands.
Now go talk about how arrogant we are as you caress each other's soft places while whispering "what if Michigan never comes back" and we discuss whether we should keep Rich Rodriguez and worry about falling into a Notre Dame-like fallow period. Tim was right to describe BSD as a place utterly incapable of recognizing irony.
Etc.: Craig Roh's eyebrows, and the rest of Craig Roh, are attractive to some guy who ranks him the #13 "hottie" of the year in CFB. Yost Built has ten things to know about Alaska. Amani Toomer is running marathons now.
Note: I'm really going to try to keep this from being an opinion piece, as I'm sure everyone is sick of those "Hey look, it's my opinion and it deserves it's own thread" threads. I'll do my best to to keep from doing this, but I must admit that I'll probably stray from that a little bit.
This poll was conducted at the end of this article, and most of the questions were about Coach Rodriguez. Here is the data (for just over 1,200 responses):
Questions #1-3: Should Rich Rodriguez be retained after the season? (Answers sorted by final records given in each question).
|I'm not sure||11%||19%||24%|
I don't think that this is very surprising; as the record falls, the amount of respondents who replied "yes" fell, and the amount of respondents who replied "no" or "I don't know" rose considerably. The main thing to take from this is that MGoBlog seems to support keeping Rodriguez if Michigan has a winning record.
|Responses from the previous poll:||6%||48%||38%||8%||1%|
So if we can combine our probably optimistic predictions and The Mathlete's realistic predictions, there is less than a 10% chance of having a losing record.
This data agrees with Question #6: Take a guess: will Rich Rodriguez be Michigan's head coach in 2011?
- Yes - 80%
- No - 15%
- I'm not sure - 5%
I agree. I believe that Brandon will stick with Rodriguez, but, as always, this is 100% pure e-pinion.
I think that Question #4: Can Rodriguez succeed at Michigan if he's given two or three years? is a more interesting question however.
- Yes – 72%
- No – 7%
- I’m not sure – 21%
Here's what people responded to the first three questions (Should Rich Rodriguez be retained after the season?), broken down by their choice in question #4.
Yes, Rodriguez can be successful at Michigan if he's given a few more years:
|I'm not sure||5%||19%||29%|
No, Rodriguez cannot be successful at Michigan, even if he's given a few more years:
|I'm not sure||12%||1%||0%|
I'm not sure if Rodriguez can be successful at Michigan if he's given a few more years or not:
|I'm not sure||30%||25%||13%|
What's really intriguing here is that the respondents who stated that Rodriguez can succeed at Michigan do not necessarily think that he should be back for next year. Obviously those who said that they didn't think that he could succeed here pretty much all want him gone, but it is really interesting that those who think that he can succeed in a few years do not necessarily think he should be given that. It seems as if those who aren't sure if Rodriguez can succeed at Michigan or not are waiting for the end of the year: if the team finishes with a winning record, then he should stick around, but if not, he should be let go.
Question #6: Will the 2011 season be more successful with or without Rodriguez? provides another chance for an interesting breakdown.
- With – 87%
- Without – 13%
(It was probably a mistake not to add another "I'm not sure" option, but oh well, my bad)
2011 will be more successful with Rodriguez than without:
|I'm not sure||8%||21%||21%|
2011 will be more successful without Rodriguez than with him:
|I'm not sure||32%||8%||2%|
Again, it's interesting to see that more of the "with" respondents wished to get rid of Rodriguez if Michigan finishes 5-7 than those who wished to keep him. Doubtlessly some of that can contribute to the fact that there would be a pretty painful transition if Michigan hired a coach with a pro-style offense for next year, but still, I thought that there would be more support for Rodriguez for those who think that next year would be better with him than without. Those who do not think that the team will be better with Rodriguez next year unsurprisingly think he should be removed, and rightfully so.
The last two questions deal with the possibility of a coaching change, and we will cross that bridge if or when we get to it. I was just curious to see what the answers would be and...
Question #5: If a coaching change is made, should it be done before or after the bowl game?
- Before – 51%
- After – 37%
- I’m not sure – 12%
Question #8: Would Jim Harbaugh be the best candidate if Rodriguez is fired?
- Yes – 48%
- No – 19%
- I’m not sure – 33%
There isn't really correlation between these two and any other of the questions, so there isn't really much to be gained other than just an answer to my curiosity, I suppose. By the way I don't think that this is a place to start a "'Jim Harbaugh is awesome!' 'No he's not!" flamewar (which are kind of annoying anyways)
So there it is, MGoBlog has spoken, and it has said that we should probably keep Rodriguez if Michigan wins at least one more game and achieves bowl eligibility, but if not, a change might be in order.
University of Michigan Football Injury Report
vs. Illinois, Nov. 4, 2010
OUT (0% PLAY)
Floyd, J.T. Ankle
Jones, Mike Leg
Odoms, Martavious Foot
Toussaint, Fitzgerald Shoulder
Van Slyke, Jared Clavicle
Williams, Mike Head
Woolfolk, Troy Ankle
QUESTIONABLE (50% PLAY)
Dorrestein, Perry Knee
Stokes, Je’Ron Knee
PROBABLE (75% PLAY)
Martin, Mike Ankle
All the guys in "out" are guys we know are out for the year with the exception of Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, it seems like Huyge is likely to get another start at right tackle on Saturday—which fine he's about as good as Dorrestein—and there is an explanation for Stokes's absence for much of the Penn State game.
Martin… well… reports said he sprained his other ankle, so if that's true he's got a better shot at returning effective than if he was suffering a high ankle sprain. But I'm not confident he'll have an impact. We'll see.
Formation notes: Reduced use of the I this week, which evaporated after Magee felt a disturbance in the force when Vincent Smith ran for nothing on third and short on Michigan's first drive.
Substitution notes: Huyge played the entire game for an injured Dorrestein at right tackle. Smith still got the bulk of the snaps at tailback with Hopkins getting a decent chunk; Shaw was around but not for much.
At receiver Stokes didn't see any time after an initial catchable ball was dropped; Roundtree and Grady saw all or almost all of the snaps in the slot. TE rotation was as per usual, and Forcier got his weekly snap after Robinson got dinged.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Yakety sax||Robinson||1|
|You'll have to forgive any misidentifications; this is an SD torrent and it's fuzzy. Michigan's going to run a power off tackle, pulling Omameh around into what looks like it will be a cavernous gap, but Robinson fumbles the snap, misses the handoff, and takes off to the other side of the field, picking up a yard.|
|M29||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Midline option||Robinson||7|
|Hey: midline. Still sets up, then bites on Smith, so Denard pulls(ZR+1). Colasanti bites on the handoff, too, splitting the two OL who get downfield. This draws attention from both, leaving the slot LB unblocked. He's well outside and can only make a diving ankle tackle from behind; I think Lewan made the right choice by blocking Colasanti because he was in position to do better than this and Schilling had no shot at him.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M36||3||2||I-form 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Smith||0|
|Aaaaaargh Vincent Smith short yardage iso. This is inexplicable. They have three wide versus seven in the box so there's an extra defender they can't block. Schilling(-1) loses Still to the inside and though the playside double crumples Ogbu, Colasanti's just shooting into the play untouched because Koger(-1) ran right by him to block the SLB. Smith runs into both and goes nowhere. (RPS -1) A terrible, terrible play call. Michigan should never run from a three-wide in the I on third and short.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Schilling, Koger|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||4|
|I'm not sure if this is actually a read because the blocking scheme here is different: Huyge kicks out the backside DE and the TE heads up in the hole between the T and G to act as a lead blocker; Smith is running into a hole where there is no lead block and never will be one. Robinson keeps, then. Huyge(+1) got a great kick. Omameh(+1) got his DT a yard downfield, there's a gap; Webb(-1) did not get playside of the linebacker. He comes off to tackle at the LOS, with momentum pitching the crew forward.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge||RUN-: Webb|
|M24||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Seam||Webb||15|
|Linebackers suck up on no playfake at all and Webb runs into the vacated space behind them; Robinson nails him for a chunk of yards. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Midline stretch||Smith||2|
|Midline; handoff this time. Playside DT is playside of Molk and Smith has to cut back, where Still runs him down from behind to hold the gain down. Still did a good job of forcing the handoff and recovering. Not sure if Denard should have kept it or not but I kind of lean towards yes? I think i have to (ZR -1) a play where the guy optioned off made a tackle for three yards.|
|M41||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||9|
|Molk(+2) gets a tough reach block on Ogbu by himself. Nice. Molk cuts the guy and gives Denard a crease; Omameh(+1) was getting out to kick out the playside LB, who fell… very likely he's done anyway. Schilling(+1) got a cut on the MLB and Robinson has room to slash, which he does very quickly.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Schilling, Robinson||RUN-:|
|50||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Power veer||Smith||9|
|Never seen this before. Michigan runs a zone read. It's a veer, which mean chunks of the line block down, but it's power, meaning the backside G pulls around and the intended gap is between the playside G and T. WLB shoots up in the backside uselessly. Playside DT is obliterated by Lewan(+0.5) and Schilling(+0.5). Omameh(+1) blows up the LB at the LOS and Smith(+1) hits the gap between him and Webb(+1) quickly, cutting behind a Roundtree block and getting tackled by the safety Willis, who made a good fill.|
|RUN+: Lewan(0.5), Schilling(0.5), Omameh, Smith, Webb||RUN-:|
|O41||2||1||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|Would rather see someone else take the hit on a down like this, or throw the seemingly open bubble in this offset formation. Playside double on Ogbu gets him back a yard but he comes through it and threatens to close off the hole; Omameh(-0.5) and Molk(-0.5) share culpability. Huyge(+1) got a good kick on the DE, though, and when he tries to come inside to close the hole off Huyge drives and pancakes him, giving Robinson the lane outside he takes for the first. These DTs can play, man.|
|RUN+: Huyge||RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Molk(0.5)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||1|
|Confused as to why Michigan is blocking the ponderous backside DE here instead of optioning him; but they are. Omameh(-1) blown back by the DT, forcing a cutback by Smith into an unblocked fellow at the LOS. Think they need to hit the bubble here with the slot S thinking contain instead. Smith(-0.5) got no YAC against a single tackle; Hopkins probably makes this decent yardage.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Omameh, Smith|
|O38||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Roundtree||6|
|Excellent timing in a tight window, but I question the decision to go to the slot when PSU's been playing off the outside guys all night. Stonum is open for an easier throw and much more YAC potential. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O33||3||3||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||PA QB draw||Robinson||33|
|Fake the bubble and Robinson jets. Bubble fake erases the two outside guys in man on the receivers, but there's still a lot of work to do. PSU blitzes one linebacker to the outside, which deletes him. Molk(+1) gets Ogbu inside; Omameh(+2) gets another one of those driving blocks that take out a second player trying to get an angle. Robinson's through; Hemingway(+1) shoves a corner to the ground and Roundtree picks off the last man; touchdown. (RPS +1)|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh(2), Hemingway, Rountree, Robinson(2)||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 4 min 1st Q. New stuff.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA short seam||Grady||18|
|The lead-draw-to-anything fake. This one is impressive from Denard because the DE has slanted inside Lewan(-1) and is in Robinson's face as he pulls up to throw; the resulting ball is a bit behind Grady but he spins to catch it, stays on his feet, and picks up some YAC. Heavy pressure on the safety here to make a tackle; he does. (DO, 2, protection 0/1, Lewan -1)|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Hopkins||4|
|Seems like the bubble is pretty open in this setup with PSU clearly in three-deep, but they don't go to it. With the backside DE getting blocked not sure what he should do here but there is a WLB keeping contain so okay(ZR+1). On the stretch Lewan(-1) gets slanted under and Still fights Molk into the backfield but Omameh(+1) has taken care of Ogbu so there's a cutback lane; Molk(+1) got a good second-level block on Colasanti. Hopkins(-1) has some room and could cut for good yardage or just bowl over a linebacker for some YAC; instead he crumples to the ground as soon as he's hit.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Hopkins, Lewan|
|M49||2||6||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||11|
|Odd looking play where Robinson seems to take off too fast for Hopkins to get in front of him. He repairs that after a couple steps, allowing Hop(+1) to club the playside LB with an excellent block that springs Robinson into the secondary. Lewan(+1) got a good kick and Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) pancaked the playside DT. No one else in the picture with PSU shaded towards the other side of the field because of the trips; Robinson hits the secondary and is contained there.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Hopkins, Schilling, Molk||RUN-:|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stokes||Inc|
|Snag concept with Smith running a flare under this route. Linebacker vacates so Robinson goes to the slant. I'd love a replay here because the original shot is pretty fuzzy and this could be more on Robinson or Stokes than it seems. I don't have one, though, so: this seems a little in front of Stokes and is coming in hot but this is still catchable, hitting the receiver in the hands. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|O40||2||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||PA QB draw||Robinson||5|
|Hole opens up momentarily but Still shucks Schilling(-1) to the playside after taking a momentary double and he's able to force it outside. Smith is unable to do more than harry the playside LB as he breaks outside. Robinson(+1) takes a hard fall as he heads OOB and misses a couple plays.|
|Frustrating: Stonum moves because a PSU DE moves into the neutral zone. This should be a Michigan first down, or is that only for linemen?|
|O40||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Improv||Stonum||Inc|
|Hard to tell but this looks like a four verts concept. DL rush hard up the edge but Michigan's got it contained; Forcier steps up into a nice pocket and then gets happy feet, scrambling out. As he nears the sideline he tosses a soft pass to Stonum for the first down but it appears that the PSU safety Willis knocks it down or out of his hands--again, hard to tell. Forcier should have hung in and found someone, maybe his checkdown Smith. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||5|
|Probably not a read. Backside DE kicked out by Huyge. Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) double the backside DT and blow him yards off the line, with Omameh popping off on the linebacker. Hopkins his the hole and cuts behind Omameh, which has the potential to break big but for that DT fighting through the Molk block to tackle. Not even a starter—83 if you're interested.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-:|
|M30||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Belly fake to a hitch that looks like it should be open—Stonum is wide open on the other side of the field and this should be obvious from before the snap. This is a run call so whateva. You can tell because the OL are releasing downfield. Omameh(+1) and Molk (+1) batter that backup DT pretty good and there should be a hole but Huyge(-1) got shoved inside by DE-type-object Jordan Hill and he's right in the intended path. Because of the crushing double on the playside DT Robinson can just run straight upfield for four.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh||RUN-: Huyge|
|M34||3||1||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB iso||Robinson||3|
|Not a read, this is not a mesh. Just a PA fake to Hopkins basically and then Robinson runs an iso with Koger as a lead blocker. Schilling(+1) stalemates and kicks Still out, which combined with Molk just managing to get enough of Ogbu (and Koger getting a piece) gives Denard the first.|
|RUN+: Schilling||RUN-: Molk(-0.5)|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Hemingway||Inc|
|Michigan going to the wide open hitch they saw on the lead draw play; it is indeed wide open, with Hemingway five yards downfield and likely to pick up another 6-8 YAC. Throw is a bit low but eminently catchable. Dropped. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M37||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||18|
|Down G scheme with Huyge(+1) blocking down on Still and taking him out of the play as Omameh pulls around him. Koger(+1) blows the playside DE upfield, providing a big hole. Omameh gets a second level block on Colasanti; Hopkins kind of whiffs but that was because the OLB hopped inside of him and opened up the corner, which Robinson(+1) smartly takes. Stonum(+1) gets a cut to erase the playside corner and Robinson is barely run OOB by the last safety.|
|RUN+: Robinson(2), Huyge, Omameh, Stonum||RUN-:|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly||Hopkins||2|
|With Koger coming around to block the backside DE and no real contain this is a missed keeper opportunity (ZR -1). Because of this, there is a WLB in the area to engage Lewan after he and Schilling double the playside DE. RPS -1. It's frustrating to see Michigan not exploit this... Denard on the edge here could be deadly.|
|O43||2||8||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA short seam||Hemingway||21|
|This again. Linebackers suck up and Robinson fires a dart to Hemingway for a goodly chunk of yards. (DO, 3, protection N/A)|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||2|
|Inverted veer! I've undoubtedly ranted about this before you got here. Here Robinson makes the right upfield read as the DE is way in the backfield and hopping outside (ZR+1) but Molk(-2) has gotten so crushed by Ogbu; Ogbu comes around the outside and grabs at Denard as he heads upfield. Denard steps through the tackle but his momentum--his moment--is gone and he has to dance back to the LOS without getting killed. On replay... wow. This opens up like whoah.|
|O20||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA slant||Hemingway||Inc|
|PA fake, bubble fake, slant. Excellent play by the PSU corner (who I believe is the converted WR) to hit right on the throw and make this more difficult. May have been a tiny bit early, which makes Hemingway demand a flag, but you're never going to get this call. Hemingway still has an opportunity to make this catch; he does not. This is an example of what good Ds do that ours doesn't. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O20||3||8||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Cross||Stonum||8|
|One deep read he doesn't like and the checkdown, which he throws on time and accurately, allowing Stonum to cut the four yards up for three more and make this an obvious opportunity to go for it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O12||4||In||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power zone read||Hopkins||2|
|Doubles on both DTs and Hopkins just roaring downhill; Omameh(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) drive their guy back and Hopkins runs up their backs.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge(+0.5)||RUN-:|
|O10||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Hopkins||0|
|Hopkins fumbles. Not his fault as Denard put it in his shoulder pads. Not sure it made much of a difference since Colasanti was totally unblocked. Maybe a yard or three. Bubble getting breathtakingly open.|
|O10||2||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Midline inside zone||Smith||2 (Pen -10)|
|Molk(-2) gets shoved upfield into the crease between himself and the tackle, then draws a holding call that seems legit as the player fights inside of him. Denard(ZR -1) hands off again and the tackle reads and reacts to grab Smith at the LOS and hold down the gain anyway. Not a very good play. Denard has acres of space and one guy in it--beat him, yo.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Molk(2), Robinson|
|O20||2||G||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep slant||Stonum||Inc|
|Robinson looks to the trips side of the field, drawing the MLB out of his zone, and immediately comes back to rifle a slant to Stonum that will pick up about half of the distance. Ball is a little high but still very catchable; it goes right through Stonum's hands. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O20||3||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant and go||Hemingway||Inc|
|Route not that successful, as you might figure on third and goal from the twenty, but if he gives it up to Hemingway in the right spot he might have a shot. His throw is well long and a safety nearly intercepts. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: FG(38), 10-14, 8 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M2||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA rollout hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Play action rollout picks up a good cut from Smith on the edge and Robinson finds Stonum open for a would-be first down. It's not well thrown and incomplete. Without a replay it's tough to assess whether this is MA or IN and whether the catch is a 1 or 2. My guess is the harsher one towards Robinson. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|M2||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|Double the playside DT and pull Schilling around. Huyge(-1) and Omameh get a good push on Still and if they keep driving they can probably open up a crease with the two lead blockers taking on the playside LBs but Huyge peels off the block to take on the MLB, who Schilling's already moving out towards, and Still comes through to tackle as Denard cuts back. PSU jumping this and with all the LBs on the field this had little chance of success. Tough situation, but (RPS -1).|
|M4||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||Inc|
|Linebacker running right underneath the route. He tips it skyward; Robinson lucky this wasn't a pick six. (BR, 0, protection 1/2, Smith -1 for having his cut block leapt over.)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-21, 2 min 2nd Q. The Gallon error and the poor throw on first down here are killers.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun empty||0||1||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Roundtree||4|
|Again with the hitches and again Robinson throws the covered slot one instead of an easy first down on the outside. I don't BR completions but this is the second time this has happened. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M33||2||6||Shotgun empty||0||1||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stonum||Inc|
|Hitches on the other side of the field; this time PSU jumps the outside one and leaves Roundtree open; Robinson throws to that guy and is fortunate his throw is inaccurate or this is another possible pick six. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|M33||3||6||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||PA QB draw||Robinson||5|
|Bubble screen fake to a draw that opens up with a DT running upfield fast. Robinson avoids him and heads into open space. He should have the first down but for FR Hill, the other DT on this snap, tackling him from behind. Mansome for a FR DT. Michigan lets the clock run out.|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 10-28. Forcier Hail Mary not charted.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10 (Pen -7)|
|In this four wide package one of the LBs flexes out on the boundary slot receiver, so this is sort of a nickel look. Michigan is trying to block the playside LB with Smith and that playside LB is reacting *very* quickly so there's no hole to the inside. Lewan(+1) gets a great kick on Hill, then drives him downfield as he tries to get inside, giving Robinson(+1) the corner. Robinson's heading for near first down yardage when Stonum(-2) stupidly clips a PSU player that he could have just walled off with the same result, turning a near first down into long yardage.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Robinson||RUN-: Stonum(2)|
|M13||1||17||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Power veer||Smith||4|
|Playside DE slants inside Webb(-1) and draws attention from the pulling lineman Schilling as result. Playside DT is doubled by Omameh(+1) and Huyge(+1) to drive him back two yards; Omameh pops out on the MLB. Unblocked SLB has a clear path to Smith, who runs up the backside of the DT double for a few. Still think Robinson needs to keep here periodically to put the fear of God in folk but I don't know if this is actually a wrong read. Hard to tell. No ZR.|
|M17||2||13||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Run||Inverted veer keeper||Robinson||18|
|BWS already picture-paged this, which is a shame because I totally would have if he hadn't. This is the it play in college football right now, a staple of Oregon's offense and Auburn's, and I'll talk about it more later. Anyway: Schilling pulls around. Molk(+1) shoves Still way out of the play as he's expecting something different so when Ogbu pwns Omameh(-1) it doesn't matter because Robinson's optioned off the playside DE (ZR+1) and has so much space that he just runs right past Ogbu. Huyge has released straight downfield into Colasanti but because of the Omameh screwup he's blocking the wrong side; no matter, as CC fights through the block only to find the QB is headed the other way. Koger(+1) walls off the linebacker to the backside of the play and fights with him as he starts to cut back outside once Robinson heads out there. Stonum(+1) gets a good downfield block on the corner and forces him to release real late; that guy makes a saving tackle after the first down. (RPS +1)|
|RUN+: Molk, Robinson, Huyge, Stonum, Koger||RUN-: Omameh|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||4|
|Missed read of some variety because Robinson has plenty of room and should keep; the slot safety is crashing down but that should allow him to throw the bubble if he has no room. Instead he hands off. Huyge(+1) does a great job of driving the backside DE well off the LOS; Shaw runs right into the LB not really keeping contain on Robinson. (ZR -1)|
|RUN+: Huyge||RUN-: Robinson|
|M40||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Improv TE seam||Koger||60|
|Robinson's first read is a couple of hitches PSU is running under. He starts to throw but manages to prevent himself from making another INT-possible throw. Next he's got to dart through a bad block from Lewan(-1), who let his guy inside of him, and a bad cut from Shaw(-1). He smoothly steps up and as he does so finds Koger wiiide open about 25 yards downfield. Playside safety is gone because of the pump. Denard's throw is short and soft but in this situation that's the right idea; Koger brings it in and can set sail for the endzone with Roundtree running some slight interference on the safety. The WR/CB guy gives Koger a frustration facemask for PSU's only penalty of the day. (CA+, 3, protection 1/2, Lewan –1, RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-31, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA seam||Grady||19|
|Robinson pumps a fake to the left side of the field and then comes off to Grady, who is running into a gap between levels in the zone; Robinson nails him in the numbers right on time. Nice gainer. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||Inc|
|Corner in excellent coverage. Probably gets there early but it doesn't matter since the ball appears to be one-hopped. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)|
|O36||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||1|
|Ogbu makes a terrific play by getting into Omameh at the LOS, seeing where the play is going because he's set up inside, and spinning off as Robinson nears the LOS to make a tackle for nothing by himself. All Conference player, Ogbu. Awesome individual play. Also -2 Omameh.|
|O35||3||9||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Smith||19|
|Here's the effect of all those PA draws: neither linebacker gets out on this, or even attempts to. Roundtree(+1) gets a downfield block on the playside guy; Hemingway(+1) stalks the corner like whoah, and Lewan(+1) has the mobility to get out in front of the safety and force him to play it very conservatively. Smith just has to head outside and he's got the first down and more. (RPS +1)|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||8|
|PSU sends a blitzer off the edge and Robinson seems to perceive this, because he's looking at the backside of the play from the start. Once Webb(+1) locks on to the blitzing LB and starts shoving him back Robinson slashes outside, where the blitz came from and there's no one left to deal with him. On the corner there's room for a good gain.|
|RUN+: Webb, Robinson||RUN-:|
|O8||2||2||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|Terrific single block by Molk(+1) on Ogbu controls him and shoves him a yard downfield. Omameh and Huyge can't do much with Still, however (-1 Omameh, –1 Huyge), and Smith(+1) does well to see the LB crashing in on him from the outside and hit it up in the crease Molk's block provided. Schilling(+1) released into the MLB and got an effective block.|
|RUN+: Molk, Schilling, Smith||RUN-: Omameh, Huyge|
|O4||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||3|
|Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) scoop Ogbu and Molk gets out on the MLB. Omameh(+1) gets a good block on Still and all Smith has to do is run right behind the scoop to get near the goal line.|
|RUN+: Molk, Schilling, Omameh||RUN-:|
|We don't get to watch this, but we do get a replay.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-38, 1 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||6|
|Penn State way off with the LBs and with a guy over the trips side for bubble protection. Ogbu splits Omameh(-0.5) and Molk (-0.5), coming right up the center as Denard tries to get loose; Huyge(+1) walls off then pushes back the DE, giving Robinson(+1) the corner.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Huyge||RUN-: Molk(-0.5), Omameh(-0.5)|
|M34||2||4||Shotgun empty TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||4|
|Omameh pulls around. PSU looking for it, though. The MLB is right in the hole, getting outside of Omameh and forcing Robinson back into the middle. Lewan(+1) and Schilling(+1) have pancaked the playside DT, giving Michigan all but a first down. (RPS -1)|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schilling||RUN-:|
|M38||3||In||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||8|
|Same play except Smith is in the backfield as a lead blocker. Omameh pulls and the MLB gets a double this time, with Smith(+1) leading the charge, and Robinson squeezes past the DT Lewan(+1) followed to the ground when he fell, getting the first down and a considerable chunk more.|
|RUN+: Smith, Robinson, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||12|
|Pump fake to a draw. One DT rushes upfield and takes himself out with help from Schilling; other is doubled and pushed away by Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5). Big lane for Robinson. He takes it, getting a good downfield block from Webb(+1) to open up the first down.|
|RUN+: Molk (0.5), Omameh(0.5), Webb, Robinson||RUN-:|
|O42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||3|
|Correct handoff with a LB running up the lane Robinson is looking at (ZR +1). Huyge(-1) gets slanted inside by Still, forcing Smith behind him and into the guy checking Denard. Other DT is doubled and Omameh(+1) gets a nice downfield block on the MLB to give Smith a little crack of daylight before he's tracked down.|
|RUN+: Omameh||RUN-: Huyge|
|O39||2||7||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||0|
|Essentially what happened on the last play, with Omameh(-2) getting blown up by Ogbu. Ogbu funnels Smith into the unblocked LB checking Robinson.|
|O39||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Slot 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Smith||17|
|PSU overloaded to the short side of the field with four guys near the hashmarks or outside of it. To the field there's just two guys. Michigan throws the flare screen to the field and since the one linebacker inside the hashmarks takes his initial steps away from it there's acres of space for Smith (CA, 3, screen) after the catch. Hardly anyone to block; Omameh(+1) peels off to set up that linebacker; Huyge(+1) gets a cut block on the free safety(!), and Roundtree and Stonum do adequate jobs on the outside guys. Smith runs straight upfield, getting tackled by backside pursuit after a big gain. (RPS +2, but mostly because PSU screwed up.)|
|RUN+: Omameh, Huyge||RUN-:|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|MLB pops Smith at the line and erases the intended crease. Robinson has to cut back, slithering in between the DTs since Omameh got a decent block before literally being chucked to the ground by Still. That is a strong dude. Doubles everywhere, guys everywhere, Robinson manages to minimax himself some yards. RPS -1.|
|O18||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Roundtree||5|
|Finally throw the bubble and it works, but Roundtree has to cut it upfield because Hemingway(-1) could not seal the safety, who bounces of his block and tackles Roundtree. He gets bowled over doing it but still a good play. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O13||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||9|
|Molk(+2)makes this. He gets a great reach block on Ogbu, first getting his helmet across and then getting under Ogbu as he tries to shuck and come back around. Molk then drives Ogbu four yards downfield. This allows Robinson to cut behind Schilling and Colasanti, who are moving rapidly playside since Colasanti read and attacked the play; Schilling(+1) did a good job to push him but that should be a win for the defense if the DT is anywhere near the LOS. Lewan(+1) got a cut block on Still, so he's done, and that cut takes out the backside DE, too. The WLB can't flow because of the awesome Molk block. The other members of the front seven are flowing to the frontside, so it's into the secondary and first and goal.|
|RUN+: Molk(2), Schilling, Lewan, Robinson||RUN-:|
|O4||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||4|
|Finally, man. Backside DE is let free and crashes; not used to standing up at this point. Robinson pulls (ZR+1) and there's no one to contain him. Koger(+1) gets a block on the playside LB; Lewan(+1) and Schilling(+1) crush the playside DT, and it's a walk-in for Robinson.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Schilling, Koger||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-38, 9 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||Inc|
|Still drives upfield of Omameh and gets his hand on the ball. (BA, 0, protection 0/1, Omameh)|
|M26||2||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|No hole as the Molk(-1) and Schilling(-1) double fails to contain Ogbu, who forces Robinson outside where a linebacker has had time to come down and tackle.|
|RUN+:||RUN-: Molk, Schilling|
|M28||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Comeback||Stonum||Inc|
|Play action; Robinson has to step up to get past a charging DE that Schilling picks off. Once he's done that he's got some space and time; he finds Stonum open for the first down and throws it well short. Stonum cannot dig it out. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|M28||4||8||Shotgun empty||1||0||4||Slot 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Smith||Inc|
|This isn't actually terrible. It's well overthrown but it has to be since PSU has everything blanketed and there's a LB right in front of Smith. Robinson gets it over him but Smith mistimes his jump and the ball goes over him by a few inches. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 31-41, 4 min 4th Q. EOG.|
Sigh. My ennui.
It grows large.
There was this episode of House where an amply proportioned lady who came to the clinic was told she had a 25-pound cyst in her stomach that had to be removed and she was livid because her husband likes amply proportioned ladies.
Is there a question coming?
If Michigan football is good again what are the chances that my entire body consists of ennui and I'll evaporate into a fine mist when Michigan looks like a national championship contender in October?
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||-||44%|
Michigan averaged 5.6 YPC against Penn State, which is second only to Alabama's 5.9, and yet the offense seemed sluggish at times. That's mostly the above chart, especially when you consider that a couple of Robinson's CAs were throws that should have gone farther outside where first downs were to be had. As the season goes along it's becoming clear that Robinson's accuracy is something of an issue. He's still light years from where he was last year but the last few weeks he's thrown some errant balls, made some bad decisions, and generally looked like something other than a golden God.
The zone read metric above is also less than great, though since most of those minuses were plays on which Denard should have kept the ball the low score may be part of an attempt to keep him from carrying on every snap. I do think part of the tailback's lack of effectiveness is in the rarity of zone read keepers. Many times this year it's seemed like a small alteration to Michigan's blocking scheme could punish teams that get too predictable with what they do on the backside.
The other part of the offensive sluggishness is here:
Michigan had five reasonable opportunities to help Robinson out and only took one of them. Add in a flat drop from Hemingway and an o-fer for Stonum on three catches labeled 1—a couple of which were borderline—and it was easily the worst day of the year for Michigan receivers. They didn't do anything egregious but they didn't help out much either.
Hemingway's hands are verging on officially iffy—he's got four of Michigan's seven drops in just 18 opportunities.
And while we're talking about the passing game,
PROTECTION METRIC: 30/34, Lewan –2, Omameh –1, Smith -1
Excellent day from the line in pass protection but with Penn State scrambling at DE and content to sit back that's not a big surprise.
|Huyge||7.5||4||3.5||Not much, if any, dropoff from Dorrestein|
|Lewan||8.5||1||7.5||Much easier task this week, same results.|
|Schilling||8.5||3||5.5||Did not suffer some of the big failures his interior linemates did.|
|Molk||12.5||6||6.5||A winning effort against a great pair of DTs. Two outstanding solo blocks.|
|Omameh||14.5||8||6.5||A little more eventful, which is overall worse than Molk, but still a nice day.|
|Webb||3||2||1||Michigan didn't use H-backs much.|
|Koger||3||1||2||Also some of these points should belong on the other play, but can't be sure.|
|TOTAL||53.5||25||28.5||Solid performance from the interior line.|
|Robinson||13||6||7||That six is a big negative. Some errors, some zone read misses.|
|Smith||3||0.5||2.5||Par for the course.|
|Hopkins||1||1||0||Did not get many opportunities.|
|Stonum||2||2||0||Clip was pretty dumb.|
By now this is the usual, right? The four guys who aren't the right tackle do okay to very well and the right tackle does okay. The lone exception was some tough swimming against Iowa; here Michigan ends up solidly positive across the board, though it's a step down from some of their earlier performances. Averaging 5.6 YPC when you're running two-thirds of the time against Ollie Ogbu and Devon Still is pretty impressive.
Ogbu, by the way, is a beast. I'm probably going to put together an All Big Ten team this year since I've been watching a ton of games and he's a lock. So Molk doing this…
…speaks pretty well to his ability.
You said some stuff about new stuff?
Yes. Michigan's added some tweaks to the run game. They ran the midline a couple times, but went away from it after Ogbu or Still (forget which exactly) formed up, forced a handoff, and then tackled that handoff twice. Penn State probably saw a ton of midline against Illinois, so they were ready.
Then there's this. I called it "power veer" but I'm not sure what it is, really:
So okay: this is similar to the veer play Oregon runs and a Illinois used to run and probably still does except the frontside end that you usually option off of is being blocked and instead of the line blocking down and the tackle rushing out to meet the playside LB, you pull a guard around. I'm not sure if this is a read at all since it's not apparent what Robinson would be reading or where he would go if he kept the ball. Maybe he pulls if the DE slants inside hard?
And then there's the inverted veer, AKA "That Thing Cam Newton Runs A Billion Times A Game." The first one didn't work so well but if you wait for the replay here you'll see that the only thing preventing this from being a Denard waltz into the endzone is Ogbu crushing Molk and coming around a block to make a great play:
The other time they ran it they grabbed 18 yards on second and thirteen. BWS broke that down; that play worked so well that Omameh got totally killed by Ogbu (surprise) and Denard still had vast amounts of room to cut past him.
You must have offensive annoyances, too, right?
Given the way opposing LBs continue to freak out about Denard's running they should spam the run-to-the-line play action far more heavily than they do. You'll have to vary the routes but some way to get opponents to loosen up against Michigan's isos and draws and whatnot would be helpful; a lot of times these days the problem with a particular run play isn't awful blocking but ravenous linebackers nailing guys at the LOS.
But other than that most of the stuff with the offense seems like execution. Michigan had the ball first and ten on their own two and called a rollout pass that had a critical first down but Robinson's throw was meh and Stonum couldn't help him out. You have to build your players' abilities into your playcalling model and it's hard to argue with the balance they've pitched right now. Also I'd like to see a few more bubbles. Michigan only ran one in this game and it certainly appeared like PSU was vulnerable. It took a great play for the Nittany Lions to hold down the one bubble they ran to five yards.
But mostly I like that in this game they could hypothetically only run one bubble without the world imploding. The last time we saw the flare screen actually run was, what, against Notre Dame? Michigan went back to it late in the Penn State game for two important twenty-yard gains on third and medium-to-long.
The offensive line as a whole.
The receiving corps and a little bit of Denard.
What does it mean for Illinois and beyond?
Michigan will be able to score on anyone to some extent but three of the next four weeks feature challenging defenses. To score as consistently as they have been Michigan has to eliminate a good chunk of the execution errors in the passing game.
As for the offense itself, they're adding new wrinkles to the run game that should make it harder for opponents to key in on any one thing. It's night and day from the DeBord stretch left, stretch right offense. Michigan runs power, iso, inside zone, stretches, veers, damn near everything, and runs all of it at least decently.