FWIW. Michigan doesn't seem inclined to get re-involved.
Yes, Max Martin is gone, not only from Michigan but from Alabama. Martin, dismissed for the proverbial "violation of team rules," has now gotten himself booted from two universities in the span of nine months, so anyone out there still complaining about his misuse last year can probably stop.
Penn State is getting banged up: offensive linemen are injured and being shuffled around. Star Levi Brown is out this week versus Minnesota, though he's expected to go versus Michigan. Also out are guard Robert Price and DE/LB Jim Shaw. All could be back for Michigan, but may not be 100%.
Meanwhile, our injury situation is looking up a bit. Morgan Trent will play and Carson Butler will return from suspension versus MSU according to Carr:
About the status of Morgan Trent, Tyler Ecker and Carson Butler ... "I think Morgan Trent could have played in that game. The only reason I took him was because he was cleared and he wanted to play, but he missed Tuesday and Wednesday, so we decided not to play him. I felt he missed so much practice, but he wanted to play. So I feel very good about him being ready to play this week. And Carson Butler will be ready."
Ecker was reported to have a high ankle sprain by Dynamic Sideline Reporter Holly Rowe during the Minnesota game and is likely out. No word on what, exactly, is wrong with Jamar Adams, who missed the second half versus the Gophers. Anyone participate in recreation activities with his parents? Probably not.
Hockey nominally starts this weekend, though both games are exhibitions. Coverage here will be woeful until football season is over, but I'll try to maintain some level of coverage. Positive: Red Berenson's being given the Lester Patrick award for outstanding service to hockey in the United State. Negative: Jack Johnson was traded to the Kings. If the sign him before the year is over everyone gets to see gibbering rage in this space... so there's that. Sad: legendary Michigan hockey coach Vic Heyliger has died.
Etc: This is too dorky even for me: college football teams as superheroes. Okay, maybe not "too dorky." Maybe more "a different genre of dorky." A guy in Wisconsin likes Michigan Stadium. Dangerous Logic has highlights from the last three years of Michigan-Michigan State; The Realests ask you to match the crime/embarassing but petty outburst to the Michigan player or coach. Fun for the whole... well, fun for Ohio State fans, I guess.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Fallers: Virginia Tech had a flimsy resume and a lofty ranking, fell behind 21-0 at home versus Georgia Tech, and eventually lost by 11 despite a couple patented Reggie Ball moments. This equals a massive 11 spot plunge for the Hokies. Iowa also took it on the chin after falling flat versus Ohio State. TCU dropped out entirely after their 31-17 loss to Mormons.
Also of note: minor moves downward for Georgia (a second straight inept offensive performance versus presumably overmatched competition), Nebraska (overtime? Against Kansas?), and Texas (voters don't cotton to Sam Houston State matchups).
Risers: Georgia Tech shoots up after the aforementioned victory. A bunch of other schools move up one to three slots after Iowa and VT thud to earth.
Also of note: last week the top five were split into three tiers: OSU at about 24.5 points per ballot, Auburn and SC with about 23, and Michigan and Florida with about 21. This week, both Auburn and SC lose ground. They've mostly ceded it to Michigan, who now hoever around 22.
Wack Ballot Watchdog: Featuring Things That Just Plain Don't Make No Sense:
- Dawg Sports: UT #10 (up five after defeating mighty Memphis), UF #12 (down two after beating Alabama and possessor of a win at Neyland).
- JournoRock has Georgia #4. LISTEN TO THE GEORGIA BLOGGERS.
- Pitt Blather and Rambling Racket have GT above ND... I guess you can make a plausible argument for that based on loss quality or something.
- TAMABINPO still has Iowa #9.
- Penn State? Really? Miami? Utah?
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.
Mr. Bold is House Rock Built for a third straight week. Ballot contains nothing truly odd until you get to #10 Boise -- didn't we have this discussion last year? -- #14 LSU, #19 WVU, and #20 Texas. All right, a lot of people dropped Texas for its flimsy resume, but come on now. At least a portion of the disagreement will be solved with this weekend's games, so expect someone else in this slot next week. (Right?)
Mr. Numb Existence is also a repeat from last week: Men of the Scarlet and Grey. Congratulations, and may your entire football team come down with scurvy November 17th.
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 has apparently expended much of its fell power already this season, failing to punish Ramblin' Racket for last week's transgression. This week the RR ballot features the Wreck #10... four slots ahead of Notre Dame, who beat them. The voting gods are displeased.
Straight Bangin' Award is again the exclusive domain of Georgia bloggers... anyone think we should be listening to them? Co-winners this week are Hey Jenny Slater and The Cover Two, both of whom rated the Dawgs 7.38 points worse than the poll average. Congratulations: that's a gap worthy of this award any day.
Swing is essentially 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 is Navy blogger Pitch Right... and come on now, Boise #6? Purdue rises four to #21? Rutgers up four after a 2-point win over the very tip of America's Wang? Arkansas?
Mr. Stubborn was kiboshed by further ballot snafus. It'll be back next week.
|M20||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||10||Hart||Zone Left|
|A major reason this works is that Minnesota is lined up with only seven in the box and the seventh guy is offset to drop into a zone coverage behind Arrington, the slot guy. Ecker(+1) and Long(+1) drive their men off the line; Breaston takes out the closing safety, and Hart(+1, 5 YAC) drags the late-filling corner another five yards after contact.|
|Outstanding job by Mike Massey(+2) to seal a defensive end lined up inside of him and open up a big cutback lane for Hart(3 YAC). Also Kraus and Bihl double-team the tackle to that side, pancaking him.|
|M43||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone Left|
|Steve Davis runs upfield at the snap, ceding a cutback lane. Riley has an easy job: push him in the direction he's going. No one gets out to the second level, allowing an unblocked linebacker to meet Hart a few yards downfield.|
|Minnesota's started creeping a safety up on the last two plays. He's not quite in the box but he's getting there. Grady's a little hesitant, taking a step towards the wrong hole before finding a crease between Long and Kraus. Unfortunately, Manningham(-1) whiffs a block on the safety, who fills. It's hard to judge but I think Hart does better with this.|
|M49||3||4||Ace 3-Wide||Run||10||Hart||Zone Left|
|Massey(+1) again does a great job one-on-one with the DE, allowing Long to get out on a linebacker and Hart to make the corner. This should be about a four-yard gain but Hart(+1, 6 YAC) pops out of a tackle and makes a few more yards.|
|O41||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||8||Hart||Off Tackle|
|Massey(+1) seals the DE inside for the third time on this drive, opening up the corner. Hart busts through another tackle but steps out of bounds in the process of doing so. Todd Blackledge(+1) is on top of this Massey thing, which I thought was overstating things live but upon review is totally true.|
|O33||2||2||Ace||Pass||16||Breaston||PA Deep out (2)|
|Grady in. Henne looks off the Minnesota defense, coming to a wide open Breaston on a second read. Ball is catchable but certainly not an easy catch for Breaston with his feet on the very edge of the sideline (CA, 1)|
|O17||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||3||Hart||Zone Left|
|Gophers stem late into a run-d look. Riley seals the backside DE, providing a cutback lane. The Minnesota DT to that side manages to get an arm on Hart, slowing him, and two unblocked players tackle him in the hole.|
|O14||2||7||Ace 3-Wide||Run||-2||Hart||Zone Left|
|Corner blitz from Banks catches Arrington(-1) by surprise. He's in, unblocked, and tackles Hart in the backfield. Shame, too, because if Arrington makes that block it's a touchdown, as the rest of the defense was sealed inside.|
|Henne looks off the defense, causing the safety to slide left. Arrington is wide open as a result. (DO, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, ??? 1st Q. (No clock.) A clinic. Massey and Long abused the opposing DE the entire drive.|
|M16||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone Right|
|Away from the strength of the formation. Hart ends up cutting back; Mitchell(-1) doesn't get much push on the Minnesota linebacker on what could have been a big hole.|
|M20||2||6||Ace 3-Wide||Run||7||Hart||Zone Right|
|Carbon-copy of the last play except Mitchell(+1) meets his man farther downfield and gets good push, allowing Hart to take the intended hole. Should be stopped just before the first down marker but Hart limps forward a bit more (2 YAC). Of note on these last two plays: we've loaded the left side (the wide side) with players. Minnesota responds by splitting the DE to Riley's side ridiculously wide, essentially ceding this hole presnap.|
|M27||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||10||Hart||Zone Right|
|Massey's lined up next to Riley this time. Minnesota brings an eighth guy up late, but Hart(+2) squeezes through no hole and about three Gophers for six, then cuts it outside for additional yardage. Uh... 6 YAC. Riley gets a good pop on a Minnesota linebacker, opening up some space earlier in the play. Hart on pace for 80 carries.|
|Eight guys in the box. Grady(-2) makes a ridiculously bad decision to cut up into two Minnesota tacklers when the backside is WIDE OPEN.|
|M40||2||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||PA Deep Post|
|Henne misses this bomb. Uh, I think we forgive him. (IN, 0)|
|This skycam thing is awesome. A replay from it shows that Henne had nowhere to go with the ball and instead took a coverage sack. I do think that if he had stepped up in the pocket earlier he could have gotten enough time to hit someone. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q.|
|M23||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||7||Breaston||Slip screen|
|This play is a guaranteed eight yards against this defense: Minnesota in their base formation, a linebacker shaded over to Breasto n but only slightly, Gophers obviously in a deep zone. Would like to see more of it when our opponents try to cover two wide WRs with a single DB and a linebacker shaded inside of the slot guy. Also, the line blocks like it's going to be good old Zone Right again, causing the linebacker's first step to be inside. (CA, 3)|
|Three step drop and fire with Manningham's guy playing way off him. Henne's excellent arm strength allows him to get this ball out there in time to provide about 9 YAC. (CA, 3)|
|M45||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||2||Hart||Zone Right|
|Same setup as the first two plays on our second drive, but Mitchell(-1) can't seal the linebacker and the hole between him and Riley never materializes.|
|Er... this is a slant that turns into an out, which has a name. Circle, maybe? Anyway, Breaston's wide open on this and could run for days but Henne drops it at his feet. (IN, 0)|
|Another three-yard throw on third and long, but it's well timed and gives Massey a step on a linebacker coming up in the zone. Massey turns upfield for the first but is tripped by his shoe, coming up just short. (CA, 3)|
|O45||4||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||8||Hart||Off Tackle|
|Wow... designed to go outside. Oluigbo gets submarined by a blitzing corner. No problem for Hart(+1), as he bounces around the minor inconvenience and up the sideline.|
|Goddamn. Henne again looks off until come back to a wide open Arrington. Throw between the numbers means six points. (DO, 2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|M18||1||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Zone Right|
|Nice job by Bihl, Mitchell and Riley to single block their guys effectively. The Minnesota MLB is unblocked and makes the play a few yards downfield. (2 YAC)|
|Henne checks into this with seven men in the box versus a 2TE set. Corner blitz and a missed block by Massey(-1) close off the backside... Hart follows the surge in the middle of the line for a few.|
|M26||3||2||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||7||Breaston||Slip screen|
|Again taking advantage of the shaded linebacker thing. Arrington(+1) gets a nice block and Breaston heads outside of him for the first. (CA, 3)|
|Henne drops back and fires to an open Breaston. (CA, 3)|
|M47||1||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Run||0||Hart||Zone Left|
|Long can't seal the Minn DE Massey was owning, forcing a cutback into a mess.|
|Designed to hit Massey in the flat, as Breaston starts blocking before the ball is even thrown. (CA, 3)|
|Brian Thompson(!) runs a seam that opens up a little space underneath the Minnesota zone for Arrington on the shallow cross. (CA, 3)|
|O41||1||10||Pass||Pass||41||Manningham||PA Deep Post|
|Duuude. Henne's not even putting air under these. He's just throwing it right to Michigan's WRs 40 yards downfield. (DO, 2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|M13||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-5||Massey||False Start|
|Key blocks from Mitchell(+1) and Massey(+1) spring Hart downfield.|
|Less room on the identical play. Mitchell(-1) misses a block, cutting off a potential cutback lane.|
|M20||3||3||I-Form 2TE||Run||5||Hart||Zone Right|
|Riley(+1) and Massey(+1) cave in the right side of the line. By the time Hart meets resistance he's already at the sticks.|
|By the time Grady reaches them, Bihl(+1) and Mitchell(+1) are four yards downfield. Last couple plays the Minnesota DL is getting blown off the ball.|
|Easy pitch and catch for the first down becomes a bigger chunk when the Minnesota DB whiffs his tackle, allowing Manningham(+1) 7 more. (CA, 3)|
|Greg Mathews in == run. POA jammed up, Hart tries a cutback, they've blitzed a corner past Mathews == no gain.|
|Rifled unnecessarily low and hard. Manningham gets a hand on it but can't bring it in. (IN, 1)|
|M43||3||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||27||Manningham||Cross < /a>|
|Ton of time. Manningham comes wide open in the zone and Henne fires it right to him. (DO, 3)|
|O30||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||-5||Grady||Zone Right|
|The Grady fumble. Breaston comes in motion tight and tries to get a block. This doesn't work so well, as his man shoves him off then pops Grady(-2), who fumbles the hell out of the ball. Breaston alertly picks it up and mitigates the damage.|
|I think if Hart(-1) cuts this back to the left right away he's got a hole. He delays, eventually getting caught behind Mitchell and Riley.|
|O34||3||14||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Massey||Deep out|
|Delayed blitz fools Riley. Hart cuts the guy to the outside; another guy coming inside delays long enough for Riley(-1) to decide to double team the DE. Linebacker runs right by him and plows Henne, forcing a barely incomplete throw to a wide open Massey. (PR, 0, protection breakdown 1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 5 min 3rd Q. First time all game Henne gets pressure. Almost pulls off the conversion anyway... we punt from the 34. Ewwww, but 4th and 14.|
|M47||1||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Pass||9||Breaston||Slip screen|
|Breaston cuts inside of Arrington's block and gets everything he can. (CA, 3)|
|I believe this is an attempt to go deep. We fake a zone left but do not run the true waggle â€“ Henne sets up in the pocket. Pressure comes eventually, before he can throw, and he manages to toss the ball away before the sack. (TA, protection breakdown 3)|
|O44||3||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||13||Hart||Zone Left|
|Massive cutback lane after he picks up the first, which he takes. If he was faster he could do a lot more with this... but he's not. Nice cut block from Mitchell.|
|Another corner blitz. Banks comes in unblocked and should have Hart for a four-yard loss, but he bounces off the tackle attempt and manages to crawl past the LOS despite the disruption in the play. Backside, where the blitz came from, wouldn't have been nearly as relevant if the Minnesota DE opposite Long(-1) hadn't shot upfield, forcing a cutback. (Hart +1, 4 YAC)|
|Time for Henne, but no one open. Eventually he throws it away. Before he did, Riley(-1) got beaten (eventually) by Steve Davis, who draws a holding call. (TA)|
|O40||2||19||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||1||Breaston||Flat checkdown|
|Breaston runs a little stop route clearly intended as only a last option. Henne eventually comes down to him, but there's no YAC here as Minnesota closes quickly. (CA, 3)|
|O39||3||18||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||35||Manningham||Ridiculous Flag|
|Henne's best throw of the night fits in a teeny hole in the zone and drops right into Manningham's hands for a third and long conversion. (DO, 2)|
|O4||1||G||Goal line||Run||1||Hart||Zone Right|
|Rare instance where Hart just sort of goes down when he should, gaining but a yard. Seemed well blocked enough for a play from the four.|
|Arrington pushed out of bounds and can't get a foot down. Excellent job by the CB. (CA, 1)|
|O3||3||G||Goal line||Run||-2||Hart||Zone Right|
|Davis pantsed Massey(-1), got penetration, and ended the play before it started.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG (22), 21-7 14 min 4th Q.|
|M40||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||5||Hart||Zone Left|
|Nothing to the playside, but there's a huge cutback lane. Steve Davis isn't even bothering to read the play before heading upfield. As a result, all Riley has to do is engage him and he's done. Mitchell drives his man down the line of scrimmage, opening up a major lane that Hart uses to get five before the safeties close him down.|
|Hart ends up taking this one right up the middle. Long and Kraus (+1 each) both drive their men off the ball, creasing the Minnesota line. Hart breaks a tackle for about four YAC.|
|Backside opens up again, though this time Davis is blocked down the line by Thompson. Grady takes the lane, then meets the undersized Minnesota safety and goes down immediately.|
|O42||2||4||Ace 3-Wide||Run||1||Minor||Zone Left|
|Note: we start Breaston on one of those slip-screen routes where he runs parallel to the LOS in the hopes it'll freeze that corner to his side. This basically works: he stops, confused, and Arrington plows him. Unfortunately, the left side of the line can't provide Minor any lanes to run through. Long doesn't get a seal on the DE or push him wide enough to allow him to go through the T-G gap; Kraus is also stuffed at the LOS.|
|Slant is right there but goes through Manningham's hands. I mean, sure, it's a tiny bit high, but come on. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 10 min 4th Q.|
|Same play as before where Breaston starts blocking before the ball is thrown. This block is weak (Breaston -1) and Massey has no opportunity to run after the catch. (CA, 3)|
|Riley fakes a pass block momentarily, then attempts to get out on a linebacker. Davis, unblocked, does not take the edge-rush bait and closes Hart down.|
|Hart motions out wide, taking a linebacker in man coverage with him. Henne looks left, comes to Breaston, then finds Hart â€“ his third read â€“ open at the sticks. Hart cuts outside of the bewildered linebacker for mucho YAC. Incidental face mask on Henne is half the distance. Patrick's assertion on the face mask replay that the Minn DE is being held is ridiculous... Long is pushing the guy and doesn't have ahold of him at all. (CA, 3)|
|Two Minnesota defenders come through the line. Grady(+1) does very well to split them and turn this into a two-yard gain.|
|A replay of the last play, down to the two guys who should have him. Grady(+1) spins off the first tackler and into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-7, 5 min 4th Q. Excellent work by Grady on the goal line. Probably could have been stopped for a loss on both plays.|
|They're stacking the box, obviously.|
|Run run run.|
So how do you like me now?
Uh... Mike? DeBord?
Much, much better? There were very few instances where we tried to rush into stacked fronts until it got late and that was the sensible thing to do. We played off our screen tendencies on a couple plays. We abused the Minnesota safeties so badly they woke up Sunday screaming about Henne's lying eyes.
All told, the offense was stupidly efficient. Michigan only got eight possessions. (A ninth was strictly run-out-the-clock.) Four of those ended in touchdowns and a fifth ended at the five. The other three all covered at least twenty-five yards. Only one didn't end up in Minnesota territory. The touchdown drives went 80, 77, 82, and 40 yards. Another drive ended with a missed 22-yard field goal. The offense went three-and-out zero times.
Uh, yeah... any criticism directed towards the offensive braintrust is going to have to wait a week. Happy?
All right then. Just one thing: if you could throw the ball some when Greg Mathews is in the game, that would be great. There was one throw to him -- the waggle that nearly got him killed versus ND -- but the rest have been runs. Charlie Weis has created this thing called "self scouting" that w
Certainly. Now with explanatory legend.
Commenters questioned whether or not that was the best performance of Henne's career and waited for chart to decide. Chart says? Probably, and it would say "almost definitely" if it could accurately reflect how ridiculous every one of those DOs was and remind you that one of the INs was another bomb.
The delightful thing is: it's not all that different from his performances over the past three weeks. He had a rough game against Vandy, but since then he's been insane. It would be one thing if the Minnesota game was an aberration, but Henne's been laying it in between his WR's numbers for three weeks now. The deep ball has gone from a high-risk maneuver to a staple of the offense.
This puts the offense in a tremendously advantageous situation. No one's stopped the Michigan rushing game without bringing guys in the box; no one has been able to put their safeties on the line of scrimmage without Henne lighting them up. Pick your poison.
What's with the numbers after all the passes?
They're rated on a degree of catch difficulty, which is then charted for receivers.
- 0: totally uncatchable. Charted only to give an indication of who is being targeted.
- 1: extremely difficult catches.
- 2: moderately difficult catches.
- 3: easy catches.
Note that even though Henne's bullets downfield were as accurate as possible, most of those got filed as 2s because they're moving at a high rate of speed. Table format is Caches / Opportunities. "Catches" is omitted for the zero category. By definition those are uncatchable.
A good day for the WRs as well with only one Manningham drop, although that was a drive killer. Arrington got open deep -- good -- but couldn't haul in his second fade of the year -- bad.
And the rest of the numbers?
Still working on those. I hope to roll out something for run and pass blocking next week.
Henne, obviously, and Hart, obviously. And Manningham and Arrington and Breaston and Mike Massey for his crushing blocking on the first drive. Also, the line gave Henne a ton of time. He was hit twice, and one of those was a coverage sack.
Uh... Riley, I guess? He had a blown blitz pickup, took a holding penalty, and was beaten once. But that's stretching.
Also, Kevin Grady fumbled and missed an opportunity for thirty yards when he cut back into a Minnesota linebacker instead of cutting to the wide open side of the field. His two goal-line carries we re both impressive, but at this point I'm a little leery of having him come in unless its short yardage. And the ball has been taped to his arms.
What does it mean for Michigan State?
We should kill them. I mean, you saw their corners in the Notre Dame game, right? Think "Minnesota, only crappier." They don't have the beef up front to stop our running game straight up and I think Michigan has shown that putting anyone not named Breaston in one-on-one coverage with a cornerback is going to end badly for the opponent. Now that Henne is looking of safeties like a pro, even cover-one looks like a dodgy proposition.
Michigan is still susceptible to execution breakdowns -- drops, Riley whiffs, the occasional wrong cut from a running back -- and Michigan State should hope to score, so expect the Spartans to come out in bend-don't-break mode, hoping to slow down Michigan long enough for Stanton et al to decide whether or not they're going to be able to move the ball. Hart's gone for 200 on MSU both previous times he's faced them and will approach that again. WR screens for everyone, too, and potentially nasty red-zone breakdowns.
DO: "Dead on." Generally reserved for impressive throws above and beyond the call of duty. Examples:
- A bomb that hits a guy in stride.
- A fifteen-yard cross into a zone with only a narrow window between defenders.
- A useful completion in the face of heavy pressure that would normally be an incompletion.
Generally any throw that can be thrown on a three-step-drop (slants, quick outs, screens of all varieties) is going to receive a "CA" at most.
CA: "Catchable." Run of the mill accurate throws. Encompasses a rather wide range from perfectly thrown short throws to downfield stuff that's a bit off but still feasible to catch. There's a subset of throws that live on the CA/IN boundary, which are...
MA: "Marginal." A slant that takes a guy off his feet, or a seam that is way behind a guy but catchable, or a deep ball that is way short but is a jump-ball situation. These are iffy throws that are still capable of gaining yardage... just not as much as they should.
IN: "Inaccurate." Passes that are plain uncatchable but for extraordinary intervention on the part of the wide receiver. All passes destined for Tacopants, Jason Avant's invisible 11-foot-tall imaginary friend, end up here. Completions can show up here if they're relatively simple throws that require a receiver to make a circus catch. Screens that have their timing disrupted because of a quarterback error also show here, as do open three-yard TE outs that would go for first down but for a late throw. If that should ever occur.
BR: "Bad Read." The grand bull-moose category of quarterback errors, these are throws that should not have been made due to excellent coverage, a lack of awareness of the situation, or inability to locate an open receiver.
UPDATE: Lately, I've started calling things "BRX" for XTREME. These don't get filed separately and are just for discussion of QB performance.
TA: "Throwaway." Passes which are not intended to be caught since the quarterback can find no one open. If the QB clearly has an open receiver that he did not find, these throws are usually slotted in the "Bad Read" category, though they're venial sins compared to throws into coverage. Due to the limitations of television coverage this reclassification is rare, but when there are a lot of these despite the quarterback having good time an eyebrow is officially cocked.
BA: "Batted." Balls which are deflected at the LOS. These are generally regarded as fluke occurences and are not held against the quarterback.
PR: "Pressure." Instances where the quarterback is snowed under before he has an opportunity to make a throw. If he hesitates and does not throw despite being given time, that's either BR or TA. PR is reserved for plays that are blown up because of pass rush, not coverage.
SCR: "Scramble." Instances where a quarterback sees a bunch of running room and takes off to good effect. Usually this has to be an obviously good idea--pick up the first, get eight yards on first down--for it to get filed here. Running for three yards on third and eight will get filed under TA.
Note: Due to an inconveniently timed snafu at my hosting company, this week's poll will be posted in the afternoon.
Bumped Tennessee two spots since that win over Cal is looking pretty good right now and they have been a bit better than Clemson and GT to date. Dumped Wake -- ok, you're 5-0, congratulations -- for new #23 Washington.
New thingy: "pressure" charted much like "coverage" is. First attempt seems generous.
|O23||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||14||PA Deep comeback|
|Waggle on the first play; a nice call from the Minnesota OC. Wheelwright drives Hall off, then breaks back to find a perfectly placed ball. Excellent execution. (DO, coverage -1, pressure -1)|
|Biggs is unblocked by the tackle on that side. Minnesota pulls a WR to block him, but his attempted chop is avoided, leaving Biggs(+1) free to dive at Pinnix and stop this for a minimal gain.|
|Branch(+1) comes free a bit late, forcing a dumpoff to Pinnix. Harris(+1) comes up to prevent any YAC. Cupito had some time to find a receiver but not much. (coverage +1, pressure +1)|
|Essentially a replay. Some time for Cupito but not much. Biggs(+1) spins free, forcing a checkdown which is read and tackled by Harris(+1) (coverage +1, pressure +1, CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, ??? 1st Q. Michigan didn't get a sack or even a hit on this drive, but on second and third down they did get enough pressure to force a Cupito dumpoff and vanishingly few yards.|
|O21||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||20||Pitch sweep|
|Spaeth, lined up wide, comes in motion towards the line and crushes Jamison to the ground. I'm cereal: he's blown off his feet. The WR remaining to that side comes in and gets a block on Burgess as two OL pull around. One steamrolls Stewart, the other gets a block on Mundy downfield. End result: 20 yards, none of which I think we could have done a damn thing about. I think we were in trouble when we shifted our linebackers towards the wide side of the field, where Minn's second TE was lined up, and forgot about the omnipresent threat of Spaeth clocking someone. Stewart (-1) could have done better downfield.|
|Branch(+1) penetrates into the backfield, getting a hit on Pinnix just as he reaches the LOS. Burgess(+1) cleans up.|
|O40||2||11||Base 4-3||Pass||Inc||PA Throwaway|
|Branch(+1) breaks through the line almost immediately, forcing a Cuptio scramble and errant throw. (IN, pressure +1)|
|Good protection for Cupito, who fires behind Payne. Marginally catchable. Some discussion about Jamar Adams getting in Payne's way potentially being interference... and it probably is. Without it, Payne's way past the ball and it's probably a Hall interception, actually. (IN, pressure -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 2 min 1st Q.|
|Goes right up the middle with Minnesota in a three-wide formation. A disappointing play. Branch is doubled and driven back; Taylor's penetrating move upfield is used against him. (-1 for Taylor.) Result: hole up the gut. Both Burgess and Harris have to take on blockers and can only make a downfield tackle as a result.|
|Both DTs get caved in again (-1 Branch, Taylor). Adams in in the box; he makes a stop downfield.|
|I think this is our first blitz of the game. Crable(+1) gets in on Cupito quickly, forcing a dumpoff to Spaeth. Adams(+1) closes quickly but is dragged a couple yards. (Pressure +1, CA)|
|O42||2||6||Base 4-3||Run||-1||Pitch sweep|
|Good job by Crable(+1) to fight through a block and get to the outside of his man, forcing a Pinnix cutback. Woodley(+1) and Harris(+1) converge to make the tackle.|
|Outnumbered to the wide side of the field, as our linebackers are shifted to the weak side. Pinnix takes the handoff and doesn't meet a Michigan player until he's past the first down marker. Stewart, lined up in press, doesn't recognize the play at all â€“ but when you're in press coverage on third and seven that's not a shock. I don't like Harris'(-1) tentative play here. He pauses in the middle of the field for a moment despite two Minnesota OL pulling to the outside, which gives Pinnix the corner and the first down.|
|Jamison(-1) bites hard to the inside, opening up the short side. When Jamison figures out that Pinnix doesn't have it he takes a couple steps towards Cupito, not Payne. Burgess also gets trapped inside.|
|M38||2||3||Base 4-3||Run||1||Pitch sweep|
|Alex Daniels in. He fumbles the pitch momentarily. Burgess(+1) cuts up between two OL to make a play near the line of scrimmage.|
|M37||3||2||Base 4-3||Run||0||Pitch sweep|
|Pinnix decides to cut this up, right into the waiting arms of Branch(+1). He probably ends up with about as many yards if he moved to the outside, as Crable(+1) was coming up hard.|
|M37||4||2||Base 4-3||Run||10||Zone Right|
|Again we seem misaligned. They're in a straight I with a tight end on each side of the line. We have Crable lined up just wide of the TE to the short side, a cornerback lined up a yard and a half behind him, and two linebackers in the middle of the field. They run away from Crable's side to the vacated area of the field, and despite Terrance Taylor(+1) driving his guy way into the backfield, neither linebacker can get to Pinnix, partially because the Minnesota fullback levels Burgess.|
|Daniels runs right into the waiting arms of Taylor(+1), who spun off a block and closed the hole at the LOS.|
|Token fake to Pinnix. Woodley(+1) discards a blocker and pressures Cupito, who hits Pinnix against the motion of the play. Hall(+1) comes up to make an immediate tackle. (Pressure +1, CA)|
|Payne just outruns Stewart(-2). I know Payne's good and all but I can't imagine this happening to Trent. (DO, coverage -1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 8 min 2nd Q. Already we've lined up in an odd formation that gives Minnesota an advantage should they run to one side or the other three times. Each time, Minnesota has taken advantage of that opportunity and gashed us. Shades of the disastrous Russell run that cost us last year's game.|
|O31||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||14||PA Comeback|
|Hall(-1) is there at the catch but misses a tackle, yielding 6 extra yards he didn't have to. Michigan was coming if this route wasn't open. (Coverage -1, CA)|
|O45||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||Inc||PA Fly|
|Cupito is way long... Hall in good coverage but not great coverage. (IN)|
|We blitz past Pinnix, opening up a bunch of space for him. Harris and Burgess (-1 each) get obliterated by blockers.|
|M41||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||-4||Zone Right (2)|
|Woodley(+3) twists around the tackle, getting penetration into the backfield and stoning the play.|
|We send five; no pressure. Stewart(-1) is way off Payne, open for a good gain. (CA, coverage -1, pressure -1)|
|M35||3||4||Base 4-3||Run||0||Pitch sweep|
|Brandon Harrison blitzes into the sweep. He's eventually crushed backwards, but his momentum manages to convince Pinnix to cut inside. On the inside, Biggs(+2) has done an excellent job to spin off his blocker and meet Pinnix at the LOS.|
|M35||4||4||Base 4-3||Penalty||-5||False Start|
|Convinces them to punt.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, EOH.|
|Hall closes on Wheelwright immediately for a minimal gain after the catch. (CA)|
|Big hole up the middle because Taylor's almost tackled by the guard, otherewise he picks up a TFL. Downfield, Burgess is getting doubled and Harris is blitzing away from the play. Should have been a holding call.|
|Backup center in. Taylor(+1) gets quick penetration, delaying a blocker destined for Burgess. Unblocked, he quickly fills the hole and tackles.|
|O48||2||11||Base 4-3||Pass||Inc||PA Deep out|
|Not great pressure but Branch does drive his man back and discard him, forcing Cupito to throw. The throw is a very tough one, as Decker is bracketed by Hall and Mundy in the zone. (IN, Coverage +1)|
|Terrible play by Harrison(-1). Run off by a deeper route, he reacts to the cross to Payne by coming up hard instead of trying to get wide and funnel Payne back to the help coming to the inside. If he takes a shallower angle it's highly likely this is stopped short of the first down. (Coverage -1)|
|M39||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||-10||Misdirection bomb|
|Mundy(-1) toasted on this play. Holding called on a Minnesota guard trying to block Terrance Taylor(+1). I've seen worse go uncalled and it was not relevant to the play, but Taylor had gotten free except for the Minnesota player's arm clearly grabbing him outside of his shoulder pads.|
|M49||1||20||Base 4-3||Run||-1||Off tackle|
|Slow developing because we blitz. Englemon takes on the fullback, blocking off the outside. Crable's(+1) blocked by a DL but sheds him and attacks the LOS. Englemon finshes the tackle.|
|50||2||21||3-3-5 Stack||Run||2||Zone Left|
|Biggs(+1) holds up outside, forcing Pinnix back into the defense. Will Johnson flows down the line and closes down the cutback.|
|M48||3||19||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Deep Cross|
|Crable(+1) and Woodley(+1) force Cupito out of the pocket. He lofts a hopeful ball to Wheelwright, batted down by Hall(+1). Barringer also around. (Uh... CA, coverage +1, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 11 min 3rd Q.|
|O20||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||0||Off tackle|
|Woodley(+1) penetrates into the backfield before being spun out of the play. Pinnix tries to come up inside, but that's filled by Burgess(+1), leaving him to try the outside again... Woodley there to make the stop. The entire backside was full of un-cut Michigan defenders, as well.|
|O20||2||10||Nickel||Pass||Inc||Out and up|
|Cupito lays it inbetween a beaten Stewart(-1) and a quickly closing Barringer. Should have been a completion for a first down but Wheelwright can't handle the somewhat difficult throw. (CA, coverage -1)|
|Burgess's blitz stunt is unblocked and results in a QB hurry for Michigan. Cupito throws a comeback that's unlikely to result in a first down even if Crable(+1) doesn't deflect it at the line. (BA, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|Jamison(+1) gets some penetration, cutting off the outside. Pinnix cuts behind the man blocking Jamison, but Harris(+1) fills the gap, avoiding the cut block of the late-arriving pulling guard.|
|O20||2||10||Nickel||Pass||Inc / -10||Deep Out|
|Cupito needs a second or two more for this route to finish, but Harrison(+1) avoids a block on his blitz and Branch(+1) spins off a tackle. Cupito has to throw it early and Decker isn't ready for the pass. (IN, pressure +1) Holding penalty backs Minnesota up to the 10 but no replay is provided. I don't see it from the original angle. Weak call.|
|The kind of play you cede in this situation to get a third and long. Five Michigan players converge on Pinnix downfield. Hall(+1) came up to cut off the outside, removing any potential for major yar dage.|
|Uh... okay. Nice job by Englemon(+1) to get off the block and tackle.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 12 min 4th Q. They give up after the holding penalty. Glen Mason coaches to win!|
|Stewart versus Wheelwright this time. Stewart(+1) gets a bump right before Cuptio throws, disrupting the timing of the route. Probably irrelevant since the throw was not going to be catchable anyway. (IN)|
|We zone blitz; Minnesota is prepared for it. Biggs fakes a rush then drops back awkwardly, not in time to get between Spaeth and Cupito. Hall probably tipped this pre-snap when he threatened a blitz from the corner, as we've run a lot of zone blitzes this year where the DE opposite a corner blitz drops into coverage. (CA, coverage -1)|
|Either miscommunication or a really poor ball. Decker is missed by yards. (IN)|
|Cupito has time. Good coverage(+2) for a while, then Cupito flushes himself out of the pocket and gets rid of it. (TA, pressure -1)|
|O20||3||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||Inc||Deep Cross|
|Decker wide open (coverage -1) about 20 yards downfield. Cupito throws way behind Decker. (IN) Reason it was so open: Barringer bangs into Hall.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, ??? 4th Q. Clock malfunction again.|
|Good coverage from Burgess(+1, coverage +1). Spaeth wings it wide anyway. (IN)|
|O16||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||23||Deep Out|
|Some guy named Chambers gets a step on Mundy(-1). Cupito puts it on the money â€“ tough throw, especially as he's about to get hit. (DO, pressure +1)|
|Burgess comes free on a delayed blitz, forcing a throw from Cupito. It's accurate but Hall(+1) gets a deflection, I think. (CA, pressure +1, coverage +1)|
|Good protection. Crable is about two inches away from hitting Cupitos arm but can't quite get there. Payne gets open underneath the safeties and Brandon Harrison (coverage -2, pressure -1)|
|Stewart(-1) hit with pass interference, as he impedes the receiver's progress with the ball in the air with his body. Sort of like the Trent call in the ND game except without the obvious offensive PI afterwards. Probably unnecessary. (coverage -1)|
|A simple six-yard stop. Stewart(-1) manages to whiff on the tackle and let him outside, equalling touchdown. That's not a good play. (CA, coverage -1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-14, 4 min 4th Q.|
|We blitz but don't get there. Mundy(-1) is man-on-man with Spaeth and is beaten badly on the post; Cupito lays it out there for him (DO, pressure -2, coverage -1)|
|Crable(-1) and Burgess(-1) both miss tackles that would make this a minimal gain.|
|Spaeth sits down in front of the zone. (CA)|
|Hall has a big cushion on Wheelwright and backpedals on the snap. Wheelwright stops ten yards downfield and Hall is way off him, moving backwards. Makes no sense on the 19 yard line. (Hall -1, coverage -1).|
|Receiver never breaks on the route. Not charted.|
|Caught but out of bounds. Johnny Sears now in. (Coverage -1, CA)|
|Harris(+1) right with Spaeth, making the high and hard throw almost impossible to catch. (CA, coverage +1)|
|They roll the pocket. Michigan's all over the side of the field where the pocket rolls to and gets fairly quick pressure. (Coverage +1, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-14, 3 min 4th Q.|
Was that a letdown?
Well... yeah, a bit. You can point to the total yardage allowed when Minnesota got the ball back down 28-7 (it was essentially 400 yards to 200 yards), but in terms of possessions this was a remarkably short game. By that point in the game Michigan had only faced eight Gopher drives. Only one of those had ended in a score, but Michigan narrowly escaped letting in a second touchdown when the referee threw a tenuous flag for holding and only one of the Gopher drives went three-and-out.
It's hard to get really righteously angry when your opponent has seven points when the game is over (and with five minutes left in the game down 21 it was over, despite the wackiness at the end), but Minnesota was more successful than any opponent to date against our defense.
|Woodley||7||7||Same as last week. All plays came against the run, though.|
|Taylor||3||3||0||Uneven but all right.|
|Branch||5||1||4||Quieter day than normal.|
|Jamison||1||1||0||Not the sort of opponent he excels versus.|
|Crable||6||1||5||Solid day from all the linebackers.|
|Mundy||3||-3||Didn't really cover anyone.|
|Trent||-||-||DNP due to broken hand suffered against Wisconsin. Expected to play versus MSU.|
|"Pressure"||11||7||4||A little generous, perhaps, but Cupito was forced to throw when he did a lot of the day. Any hesitation from him would have resulted in a few sacks.|
|"Coverage"||10||15||-5||Was approximately even until desperation drives from Minnesota.|
Pressure is a work in progress. In general: three step drops are not charted. Longer drops get plusses if the QB has no opportunity to find a player downfield because of incoming players. Sacks generally get bonuses. Minuses appear when a QB has a ton of time. The scale shifts towards the negative when a blitz comes, as it should be easier to get to the QB then.
With that in mind...
The front seven did a good job holding the Minnesota rushing game in check. About half of Minnesota's yards on the ground came on three plays where we were misaligned before the snap and unable to compensate afterwards, including the sweet 20-yarder where Spaeth knocked Jamison into next week. There was but one minus on that play, handed out to Stewart, because we were essentially dead on the snap. That's on the coaches, not the players.
When the players were in a position to halt the Minnesota ground game they did so, getting contributions from everyone. Woodley would make a play, then Branch, then Biggs, then Taylor or Harris.
It doesn't take obsessive tape review to see that Charles Stewart wasn't particularly good. He was beaten for both Minnesota touchdowns, had an unnecessary pass interference call, and didn't exactly display the fierce run support that was rumored to be his calling card. His momentary presence as a starter in name only now looks like a motivational ploy aimed at Morgan Trent more than a reflection of reality. It could just be one rough game, but I was skeptical about his contribution in the offseason and am more skeptical now.
Also: Brandon Harrison's tendency to take bad angles on guys running short crossing routes was cute when it was the only thing wrong with the defense against ND. It's less cute now.
The safeties were less than stellar on Minnesota's deep passing, getting reprieve by flag once, then watching as Minnesota took huge chunks of field late in the game.
So, Morgan Trent was injured, huh?
Yup. Respect my authorita!
He should be back next week. No word yet on Jamar Adams, who missed the second half with an undisclosed injury.
What does it mean for Michigan State?
Depends on whether the Spartans have packed it in for the year. Without Ringer they're down to two big, pounding tailbacks who don't seem like huge counter draw threats, and they're still shuffling their offensive line around. Illinois had five(!) sacks against them. All signs point to the defensive line wreaking havoc. Expect a lot of the 3-3-5 Michigan's deployed this year with Crable featuring as a roving blitzer.
Michigan State will move the ball, IMO. They'll come out fired up and play competently because they're Michigan State and that's just what they do to spite Michigan. Stanton's struggles over the past two games are aberrations in a fine career. And the Spartans put up 37 on ND, anyway. They have talent.
That said, things are lining up nicely for Michigan: Stanton's ribs are bruised, Ringer's out, and the interior of their line is having issues. Their running game is severely hampered. If they get in a lot of third and longs as a result the returns from Illinois indicate that Stanton is going to be buried under Branch, Woodley, et al, until his ribs go splat.
- Some movement based on the action from last week but some based on reconsidering teams to date.
- Notable re-evaluation: who has Texas beat? They lost decisively to OSU at home and have beaten up on North Texas, Rice, and Sam Houston State. Any and all assertions of their powah are totally without evidence.
- By that measure, I may want to curtail my enthusiasm about LSU, since their best win is against Arizona. They did stick much closer to the elite team they lost to, though.
- I'm finally over the Oregon-Oklahoma thing, I guess.
- ND gets a boost less for a win over a Purdue team seemingly destined for 3-5 in the Big Ten and more for Georgia Tech's pantsing of Virginia Tech. They also benefited from the Texas re-eval.
UT, Cal, and OU movement more due to not looking at previous ballots than anything else.
- Missouri gets a healthy boost. I saw about half of their game versus Colorado and was impressed with Chase Daniels and Tony Temple. Also it seems right to put an undefeated team with a flimsy schedule to date above another undefeated with a similar profile when one handled Colorado comfortably and the other needed divine intervention to win.
- I give up on Iowa.
Games seen: MSU-Illinois (hur hur hur), enough of UW-Indiana, Michigan-Minnesota, UF-Alabama, portions of Purdue-ND, the second half of Auburn-South Carolina, approximately half of Missouri-Colorado.
- BREASTON'S TRAITOROUS HANDS: are yo-yoing like Oprah's weight. This week, he made all the catches he had the opportunity to, including a tough one along the sideline. Yes, messed up that onside kick but the chances of that recurring are slim.
- FIRST DOWN PLAYCALLING: DeBord chose between "ten yard run" and "40 yard touchdown"... uh, I'm okay with that.
- JAMES KAMOKU: Horrible oversight from last week. You intentionally try to injure a player, you get on the board.
- CRAPPY NEW PSA: Michigan's glorious year of "Space, Bitches" is over, replaced with a well done but totally generic collage of smiling Asians in chem lab, smiling professors ruminating over a book, and so forth and so on. If they absolutely had to change it they should have gone with the medical school one.
DEAD TO ME
BRET BIELEMA: Way to make an impression in your first season as a head coach. A player tries to rip someone's leg off, you play Indiana the next week, and he's not suspended. Also, your hair looks ridiculous.
9/30/2006 - Michigan 28-14 Minnesota - 5-0, 2-0 Big Ten
When you're a freshman in high school, your English teacher -- the one people call "Thunderthighs" behind her back, because they are cruel children -- teaches you all about the idea of conflict, in a literary sense. Man vs. Man: Mike Hart disposes of tacklers. Man vs. Nature: Steve Breaston battles through stone hands and willow-thin legs to become a highly useful player. Man vs. Self: Chad Henne, no explanation needed.
There is little drama in the first two -- Hart is Hart and Breaston is Breaston at this point -- but Chad Henne's seemingly never-ending battle with hennebriation has had Michigan fans quietly muttering prayers to whatever deities they possess for almost two solid years. As they should. Henne makes an outstanding object of worship, but in an Old Testament sense. He possesses within himself the power to bring great joy but, like rain and women and most things that are fearfully worshiped, Michigan's quarterback has been cruelly fickle with his attentions. Thus last year's cottage industry dedicated to coming up with ways to describe his insufficient performance just so. Warren St. John chipped in "hennebriation". I invented Tacopants, Jason Avant's invisible, 11-foot-tall imaginary friend. A Google search for "Henne" over at RBUAS turns up all manner of evocative comparisons, the best being this one:
For the most part I thought what I had thought all year. That "Henne # 7" was just a jersey, and that various talents ranging from NFL quarterbacks to high school band members put it on at random points of a game.
Which was the aberration: Wisconsin last year? Or OSU last year? We all live in fear of Evil Henne and sometimes wonder if he was the real one.
Passing Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
Henne, Chad 22-13-1 220 3 69 2
Henne, Chad 25-18-3 211 2 38 2
Henne, Chad 24-17-0 284 3 41 1
...this is the point in a movie that takes "Man vs. Self" in the most literal sense possible when the man who jumped through the mirror or grew from Bruce Campbell's shoulder finds itself on the wrong end of a shovel blow and collapses wheezing to the ground. Evil Chad is on the verge of expiring. He has taken one laser-guided smart bomb too many. Seen Good Chad look off one safety too many. Seen Tacopants starve to death.
And, right, we're not allowed to think that because to do so inevitably brings tragedy. But it's true.
Bullets Much Akin To The Ones Chad Slings Downfield With Regularity:
- I disliked DeBord's playcalling against UW, but against Minnesota it was brilliant. I get the impression it's far easier to look brilliant against Minnesota than Wisconsin, but still. Devoid of anything resembling a short field or a Minnesota turnover, Michigan drove the length of the field five times, often because DeBord was willing to take advantage of Minnesota walking a guy up to the LOS. I hesitate to give the coaching staff credit for playing tight against UW because they had nothing to fear from their offense when Occam's Razor states it was just Michigan being Michigan, but it's a possibility.
- We punted on fourth and fourteen from the 35. I don't hate that call, since it was fourth and fourteen, but I do think it's slightly wrong. If you have faith in Zoltan the Inconceivable to sky the ball a million yards in the air and land it at the one -- that was some Orin Incandenza stuff right there, BTW -- then it's the right call.
- Speaking of that play: is the college touchback the least understood rule in the game? Everyone assumes that it's the same as the NFL, but all college cares about is where the ball is. Steve Brown didn't know the rule, and neither did the refs, though they got it right on review. Almost every punt that can be downed around the one across college football features some guy who thinks he can't put his foot in the endzone.
- Yeah, Mike Hart is slow. I'll deal.
- Adrian Arrington is kind of good. Hopefully his ability to get open deep was due to surprising speed instead of general Gopher incompetence.
- Morgan Trent did not play because of a hand injury suffered during the Wisconsin game. He was on the bench with a cast on. Charles Stewart was not inspiring in his stead.
- I would characterize the Minnesota surge after it was 28-7 more "irritating" than anything else.
Update: Yay we win. Not terribly concerned about the goofiness at the end, as it seems largely attributable to sensible prevent D up three touchdowns and Charles Stewart not playing very well. Everyone who's on Breaston's jock constantly will focus exclusively on the onside f-up and overlook his otherwise outstanding game.