"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
- RUEBEN RILEY: Was fine -- not great, but fine -- against Victor Abiamiri. Gave Henne enough time to bomb to Mario once, twice, three times a touchdown.
- KICKOFF COVERAGE: Notre Dame got no good returns and fumbled once on their ten (ten! HA!) opportunities to return kickoffs.
- STEVE BREASTON'S TRAITOROUS HANDS: I have to put something from the team on notice, don't I? Steve's dropped slant is about the only thing that can be seriously pointed at as a major difficulty.
- THE NATION: Awwww yeah.
- WEIS E. COYOTE: Now the nickname can return. Look, here's his card: it says "Super Genius." Look, the picture has gone all freeze-frame: it says Coachus Arrogantus in faux-latin at the bottom of the screen. Look: 47-21.
- PUNTING (IN GENERAL): Dude, like, Zoltan, you're totally harshing my Space Emperor buzz with those 37-yard ducks.
Reaction everywhere: for some reason, an Irish fan put up an impressive slide show of images from Saturday's game. His reasons are unknown, but the end result is great fun for Michigan fans. Dangerous Logic has put all variety of highlights up on YouTube and captured this outstanding image of Brady Quinn:
That image alone should cost him millions of dollars in NFL signing bonuses.
Elsewhere, Johnny gives the proverbial bird to haterz(!). Maize 'n' Brew echoes my game column, saying "Don't call it a comeback / I been here for years." Stadium and Main chips in; IBFC is back from ferreign parts and has reaction, highlights, and historical perspective on Michigan-ND; Whatevs captures the Carr ice bath; SMQB recaps:
And future Wolverine opponents: if Michigan's between about the 35 and 15-yard-lines, don't leave one guy to cover Mario Manningham, or he'll be crashing into your trombone player in the back of the end zone, and the pain will be transferred to you.
It is the SANDWICH OF VICTORY. Uh... I get some weird things from time to time, but this takes the proverbial cake. A different Dave files this report from South Bend:
I was at the ND/Michigan game thanks to my ND fan friend Matt. After the game, we stayed at his mom's house in South Bend, where she encouraged me to make a sandwich. Well, after the beatdown my Wolverines handed his Irish, I didn't need any more encouragement. SANDWICHES, BITCHES! Some turkey, some cheese, some mustard and mayo.... all there except the ham.
Anyway, I thought y'all might appreciate the photo of this victory sandwich made in the Notre Dame kitchen.
So, without further adieu, the Sandwich of Victory:
God, it's beautiful.
Another onsite report, this one from reader Bill Buhr:
I've been reading your site for several months, and when you put the shirts up, I snagged the Mario one. Anyway, so I rock it yesterday, and needless to say, I'm getting a lot of confused looks. I had a lot of ND people come up to me and ask me what it meant. I'm embarrassed to say a few Michigan fans also weren't sure what it was supposed to represent.
Anyway, after my explanation to a few ND fans, I got the "whatever" look from them. I actually said to one guy "Don't worry, you'll know who he is after the game is over" on a total whim. But I just had a feeling about this one. I think a lot of Michigan people did, you included.
So halftime rolls around, and NOW people get it. I had several Michigan fans staring at it while I was in line getting a hot dog, and they were like "It's INSANE that you have that on right now. You are a PROPHET!" And the ND people, who were still in shock from what they had just witnessed, are now looking at me and just shaking their head. The only parallel I can think of from the ND side would be if a few ND fans printed up shirts that said "Ready for Lift-off" before the 1989 Mich-ND game in Ann Arbor and wore them to the game.
Anyway, the game ends, (a lot of ND people stayed until the bitter end, by the way) and it was pandemonium in the area right behind the Michigan Band. Jake Long's parents were hugging each other and his Mom looked like she was crying. When the Band
played "The Victors" for the final time, and the team came over to sing, I can honestly say that I have never felt more proud to be a fan of this program.
One last thing, I had several ND fans come up to me after the game, shook my hand, and told me "You guys better beat Ohio State this year." They were really classy, and I feel the way the fans of these two teams treated each other yesterday is the way a rivalry should be.
A note: I give the deranged loons at NDNation quite a bit of guff, but I do have to second Bill's assessment of the ND fanbase in person. When I went in '02 they were unfailingly polite.
A second note: buying shirt makes you a prophet. Don't you want to be a prophet?
What are these "other sports" you speak of? Maize 'n' Brew somehow found time last week (last week!) to put up a thorough update on basketball recruiting. WCH has a great post on the idiocy spawned by Jack Johnson's decision to stay in school.
NDNation is the craziest place on the Internet, probably because their moderators treat it like that prison planet from Star Trek... III? V? Whatever. Anyway, I loves me some schadenfreude and you do too. NDNation nukes the board after tough losses to wash away the "whining," but intrepid reporters (me) C&Ped some of the very dumbest thing to show up in the wake of the &*#!ing beat down. They've gone down the memory hole, unfortunately, but I promise you all of these things are real.
If Michigan beats OSU, they're stuck with Lloyd for a while
.... and, uh, probably going to the national championship game.
Charlie is learning that the Big Ten coaches aren't all that bad----and he has been beaten badly now by both Tressel and Carr----and it won't get any better next year---this was the year. Thank God we don't play in the SEC.
...or any other conference.
At least ND and Quinn can now play out the string without the pressure of national title or Heisman trophy aspirations.
Hey, there's something we can all agree on!
Hey, at least we'll still beat Navy.
I am not familiar with all of Michigan's defensive players, but it looked like they had most if not all of their defensive starters in late in the game. When you're up by 27 points with a minute and a half left in the game and we send in our second string offensive, it seems pretty slimy to leave your starting defense in the game.
We ran up the non-scoring!
As disappointing as this loss is/was/will be, do not forget how Pete Carroll struggled in years 1, 2 and 3.
In year two, Carroll struggled to an 11-2 record and Orange Bowl victory over Iowa. In year three, Carroll struggled his way to national championship.
just got back from the michigan game ....sat behind some Michigan fans who were worshipping Satan throughout the game. Classless.
Wait... worshipping Satan? Like how much worship are we talking about? Did they hold a black mass on an altar of nubile flesh? Or did they just go "HAIL SATAN!" at the beginning of the game, immediately watch Prescott Burgess rumble into the endzone, and quickly figure that one soul seemed a fair trade for a #*&ing BEAT DOWN of Notre Dame?
I want to applaud ND's three opponents on their remarkably clean play to date.
After three games, the players from GaTech, PSU and UM have not held a Notre Dame player once while ND has held ten times.
A special shout-out to UM for only commiting one penalty through three quarters of play today (the one early offsides penalty, a call that can't be ignored by the b10 crew).
Thanks. I would like to give you a "shout-out" for turning the ball over five times.
And this is just... well... desperate:
Who is in charge of our footballs? The way the first one went through Carlson's hands made me wonder. He barely slowed it down before it hit his helmet. It reminded me of a basketball game I played when the first pass to me went through my hands because the ball was so slippery. There were a few passes, even one completion where BQ got the nose down on the ball which usually means the ball is slipping out of your grip as you are throwing. And, of course, the big slip when pulling the ball back that went for a UM touchdown. Brand new balls are slippery. They need to be worked on to remove the slime. Colleges get to provide their own balls don't they? That means we should be able to prepare them so they aren't the least bit slippery.
The best part?
(By the way, if there is a problem here I better not read about it as we don't need to be offering up excuses like that for that game)
Implausible Excuses: The Sequel:
Does anyone know if our pregame routine might have resulted in our boys being tired and exhausted? Did they have tests to take this last week that might have kept them up late?
And, uh, file under "My Eengleesh, Ees No So Good":
Did Michigan get called for holding even once? If not, then game tapes should be sent to the head of the officials and ask them to review them.
This is not a "sour grapes" post.
What is these "grapes" you speaking of?
Finally, a commendation for these intrepid readers:
I couldn't help but notice the "ND Returning to Glory since 1993" shirts worn by some of the more obnoxious Michigan fans. I'm thinking of printing my own shirt for next year in AA: "Michigan Football Tradition: One Shared Title in 60 years".
Update: commenter Chris points out that this post is not truly complete without this:
9/16/2006 - Michigan 47(!)-21 Notre Dame - 3-0
They did it, you know. Notre Dame read the damn preview and decided to execute the Plan of Fear outlined therein. They shoved every available player within six yards of the line of scrimmage and dared him. They dared him to do something about it. To prove it.
One double move from The New Math and a ball that sizzled fifty yards through the air before nestling itself between the "8" and "6" that at once seem so wrong and so right on Mario Manningham's jersey, he lined up three dots in a triangle, placed a comma, and said: QED, MFer. This problem is solved. But they asked twice more, and he repeated the proof.
Sometimes -- not always, but sometimes -- Chad Henne is just gangsta like that.
And thus the biggest win since... OSU 2003? Probably farther back in the mists of prehistory than that. Certainly the biggest win since this star-crossed blog came into existence. 47-21. Aided, certainly, by Notre Dame's five turnovers, but when one team is forced to bring every player available within ten yards of Mike Hart to prevent getting ground to bits and the other spends its time definitively proving that Laura Quinn may not have gotten the family's looks but she definitely picked up its balls the outcome of the game is something of a foregone conclusion. As long as Chad dots that triangle. Which he did: quod, erat, and demonstrandum. (via IBFC)
And God, it feels gooooooood. Last year provided but one comparable moment, not coincidentally also delivered by The New Math, and even that was a momentary blip that prevented us from falling under .500. This is different. This is staring at an apparently weak Big Ten with a defense that can be compared to that of 1997 with a straight face for once.
Yes. It's time: 1997. Not to be lost in the point orgy is the 248 yards yielded by a Michigan defense in the full phoenix-bloom of remembered glory that Ron English has brought forth. Even Georgia Tech's blitzing monstrosity yielded almost 400; Penn State's dedication to bending, then breaking held down the possessions enough to keep them under 400. Neither did anything approximating what Michigan did. Notre Dame averaged 4.6 yards per pass and 0.2 per run. Seven of the points yielded were a gift from Henne's first pass; seven more were due to a Hermannesque soft zone on the final drive before the half (English would later say "that's more on me than the players"); Notre Dame's final touchdown was heavily aided by questionable refereeing decisions.
This was domination. Notre Dame totaled four rushing yards. Brady Quinn spent the day attempting to remember where he was, then quickly attempting to pretend he was anywhere else. Sorry, kid: there's no happy place on this field. There are only angry places filled with men named Crable, Woodley, Branch, and Burgess. By the end, Quinn was scrambling from freshman Brandon Graham and cipher Jeremy Van Alstyne, flinging passes anywhere in an attempt to prevent the next crippling blow. It was less fooball and more bloodsport by then.
By the time Crable and Burgess doused Lloyd Carr with a well-deserved shower of ice water, Michigan had demonstrated they are not back but simply here. There is a resiliency in this program dating back to the day Bo took Michigan out against Woody in 1969 and beat the Buckeye monstrosity back to Ohio. You tell them they cannot, and they do. You tell them they don't matter, and they do. They are constant, something that has been more curse than blessing over the past few years, but now Michigan says: I am here. I have been here. I will be here. I have proven that much.
This week's game thread is a little different: it starts insanely early. One of the downsides to posting lots is comment threads slip off quickly. This will be an opportunity for commenters to engage in more extended conversation. As always: please no flaming. Unless it's really funny.
UPDATE OF COMPLETE AWESOMENESS:
One note: last year it was very irritating when Irish fans flooded my comment section. Let's let 'em stew without rubbing it in. To understand the pain of the defeated is the zen of the true fan. Or something. New Math! English defeat Irish (again)! WOOT.
Good game, mister.
My mind is melting into a pool of adrenaline and incoherence it is unlikley to emerge from until the game is safely behind us. One final exhortation before the speech centers in my brain shut down:
Win, you bastards. Win. Win for Michigan. Win for America. Win for that little boy in the hospital. Win for me. Don't lose. Win.
Run Offense vs. Notre Dame
All this has been discussed before, but to recap...
Evidence, scanty as it is, suggests this is a major advantage for Michigan. PSU's pitiful performance on the ground against Akron was followed by Tony "Definition Of Average" Hunt going for 6.2 yards per carry against ND. Georgia Tech was moderately successful on the ground as well, though their shotgun zone reads and QB draws bear little resemblance to anything Michigan will run Saturday.
Notre Dame's linebackers are fast but undersized and inexperienced. Travis Thomas was the backup running back (and apparently still is) until spring; now he is their starting weakside linebacker. And ND fans are talking him up as a conquering hero... well, we'll find out tomorrow. One thing the zone does is provide copious opportunity for linebackers to overrun the play. Fast, undersized linebackers just get further out of position when Mike Hart cuts all the way to the backside or Henne runs out on the waggle.
Notre Dame fans have talked up their penetrating defensive linemen but the stats put the lie to them. There are two TFLs amongst all of Notre Dame's defensive linemen, one of them a sack from Victor Abiamiri. Last year, Abiamiri had 7 TFLs on running plays, Landri 5, and the entire rest of the DL 2. Sometimes the stats lie, but in my observations of ND's first two games the only man liable to shed a block was Abiamiri. Notre Dame stopped the run when they overwhelmed the point of attack with numbers and infrequently otherwise.
Meanwhile, Michigan ran, ran, and then ran some more against Vanderbilt and Central Michigan, pounding lesser foes into submission with a steady diet of Bronco-style zone running. Questions at center and right guard have been answered ably by Mark Bihl and Alex Mitchell, and though converted guard Rueben Riley has been extremely iffy in the first two games he has a history of being an able run blocker. Mike Hart is healthy and has been impressive; Kevin Grady is much improved; Obi Oluigbo has proved a capable fullback. The results have been inspiring against teams that are not your typical tomato-can run defenses, if the early returns from Vandy's game against Alabama and CMU's statistics from 2004 are to be believed.
Michigan spent the entire offseason installing this package for this game. If it works, Michigan wins. If it doesn't, they lose.
Key Matchup: DeBord versus Minter. Properly timed blitzes have disrupted Michigan's zone in the first two games. If you sell out you will stop it. If DeBord is too predictable with his playcalling Michigan will be overwhelmed with numbers at the line and forced into too many second-and-longs to sustain drives.
Pass Offense vs. Notre Dame
Michigan's pass protection issues have been part missed assignments and part Rueben Riley versus McBain (CMU defensive end Dan Bazuin, who is really for realz). The good news: missed assignments are fixable. The bad news: Victor Abiamiri is McBain's extremely tan brother. Last year he had 15 TFL and 8 sacks -- Woodley numbers -- and he just wrecked Penn State's right tackle in ways that should not be seen by small children and the elderly. Is Riley better than that right tackle, who was starting his second game ever? Probably at least a little. But probably not enough to neutralize the one real playmaker in ND's front seven. Michigan will have to help him with TE chips or straight doubles and keep running backs shaded to his side when Michigan tries five- or seven-step drops.
That figures to be relatively rarely, but if Michigan pounds the ball sufficiently to force a Notre Dame safety into the box they'll have opportunities to make big plays in the passing game -- if Henne is given time to go deep. One thing to note: if eight in the box is coupled with corners playing soft, preparing for a three-deep zone, the simple "long handoff" WR screen will be extremely effective. Notre Dame corners are not good at tackling in space. They had problems containing Calvin Johnson on a number of simple WR screens and while he is a dominating man-beast of a wide receiver, he's not exactly Steve Breaston when it comes to ankle-breaking cuts.
The big fear is that Notre Dame sells out against the run, brings their corners reasonably close to the line of scrimmage, and dares Michigan to throw deep. We have no idea whether they can or not. Only Manningham seems like a reasonable option on the long ball, and the right side of the line has pass protection issues that are real and not fantastic. Plus, no one must be told of Henne's inconsistencies.
Key Matchup: Riley (and friends) versus Abiamiri. Here's a bold, stupid-pundit-style pronouncement for you: if Riley stones Abiamiri Michigan waltzes away with this game. If what I expect will happen happens, this is a dogfight all the way.
Run Defense Vs Notre Dame
Michigan's defense has been improbably perfect so far this year, having yielded a total of 58 rushing yards across two games. Football statistics often lie, though, and this is a case in which they have been naughty indeed. A bevy of sacks, one of which turned into a fumble stampede 40 yards into the Central Michigan backfield, have artificially depressed those numbers. The prospects for a repeat of those astounding numbers are low. Opponents have managed a good run here and there but these have usually been quarterback draws or scrambles. Running backs have found the sledding not merely tough but entirely impassable save for one Goddamned Counter Draw by Central Michigan that found Prescott Burgess out of position.
How is this, when Michigan featured a historically weak rush defense in 2005? Terrance Taylor appears set to adequately replace the production of Gabe Watson -- who was often in the doghouse and when out of the doghouse was often on the sidelines, asking for oxygen and pie -- as a penetrating bull-moose of a nose tackle. Meanwhile, the gap between Alan Branch and Pat Massey stretches from here to Alpha Centauri. Add in returning starters everywhere else and a new linebackers coach who chooses not to confuse the hell out of his charges and things are looking up.
Branch and Taylor have made the few conventional running attempts they faced this year futile and project to do so against Notre Dame as well. Perhaps a team dedicated to pounding running drives could wear out the relatively thin DTs -- only one backup, Will Johnson, has figured into the gameplan before garbage time -- but with Notre Dame likely to feature spread formations with frequency, Michigan will put out a 3-3-5 with regularity to reduce their exposure.
Key Matchup: Shawn Crable and Prescott Burgess versus Walker bounce-outs. There figure to be quite a few. Crable and Burgess have to be in the proper positions to contain them. Outside linebackers are rarely blocked when plays intended to go inside suddenly pop outside, so it's all a matter of running down the slow-ish Walker. Crable is a bullet and should do fine, but Burgess struggled a year ago and has already made a major mental error overcommiting this year. He could get victimized.
Pass Defense vs. Notre Dame
The choice is clear: sit back and be diced, blitz and have a chance. That is, unless the front four gets consistent pass rush all by its lonesome but while we're ordering up fanciful pipe dreams I'll take a million dollars, a tipsy and lonesome Elizabeth Hurley, and a banana split. Not necessarily in that order.
Fortunately, Michigan seems inclined and able to blitz. They've done so with frequency this year: three members of the secondary have sacks and Shawn Crable crosses the line of scrimmage more often than not. Frequent blitzing and the all-around impressiveness of the defensive ends have netted Michigan defensive ends seven sacks, giving them a total of ten in just two games. Just Vandy and Central, of course, but certainly an indicator that Michigan has de
cided to pin their ears back and come after quarterbacks. That total is nearly half of last year's 24 after only one sixth of the season. Brady Quinn will not have Penn State Backfield Tea Party on Saturday.
That will leave Michigan open to two separate and distinct modes of attack: screens to Darius Walker and bombs to presumably single-covered, towering wide receivers against whoever isn't Leon Hall. Quinn will no doubt mix in a fair number of intermediate passes, but the bet here is the Irish offense will be closer to Georgia Tech than Penn State. 10, 11, 12 play drives are highly unlikely. 14 points? Probably not. Notre Dame missed two shortish field goals versus Georgia Tech and one would assume some of the glitches that plagued them on the road in their opener will be resolved for their third game of the season at home. Even an aggressive, excellent Michigan defense is going to give up a number of long plays: perfectly thrown seam routes, bombs versus overmatched corners, and times when Michigan blitzes into a screen or calls a soft zone in fear of one. Notre Dame will take big chunks of yardage a number of times and score on those drives.
Key Matchup: Shawn Crable versus Whoever Tries to Block Him. Michigan coaches have been talking up his pass-rushing ability since the spring and have used him as a blitzer and defensive end on passing downs, but the guys with the sacks are Rondell Biggs and Lamarr Woodley. Crable's been effective when deployed but Notre Dame is a step up. He must get to Quinn.
Michigan's kickoff coverage has been bad, but Notre Dame doesn't have anyone to return them, really, though slot receiver David Grimes returns from injury and if healthy may pose a problem. Punting seems even; Michigan should have an edge in the return game with Breaston... if he ever gets a chance to return a punt.
Field goal kickers: Rivas has a track record of being all-right-but-frustrating, ND newbie Carl Gioia is 2/4 with all four attempts coming from within 42 yards. Slight advantage Michigan.
Key Matchup: Field goal kickers versus their own idiocy. Gioia is unproven; Rivas has a history of missing field goals at exactly the wrong time. This game will be close. If a kicker botches something, it'll be critical.
Anyone else think Notre Dame's redzone offense might be kind of suspect in relation to Michigan's? One thing a punishing ground game is nice for is first and goal from the eight. No? Just sayin'.
Also: kittens. We're just about fed up with the performance of kittens after last year. They get one more chance, then it's seppuku time:
That's right: MGoBlog kills this kitten if Notre Dame wins.
- First-down runs get stuffed with regularity.
- We don't get a pass rush.
- We fumble four times, there's a phantom touchdown, a deflected pass caught for a touchdown, and God himself comes down to play tailback.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- They bring eight in the box and it doesn't matter.
- Brady Quinn gets happy feet.
- Henne turns in an OSU-esque performance.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for 2004, +1 for 2002, +1 for Road Opener, +1 for Rueben Versus Abiamiri, +1 for What Is This Program Cursed Or Something?).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for We Are The Last Best Hope To Prevent Weis Media Bukkake, +1 for Nothing Good Has Happened Since This Blog Started (No Offense, Mario); +1 for You Remember 7-5, Right?; +1 for I'd Like To Open With A Road Win Once Before I Die; +1 for Did I Mention The Media Bukkake?)
Loss will cause me to... drink heavily, cry myself to sleep, and wake up chained to a bed in Bangkok.
Win will cause me to... drink heavily, drive to South Bend, and personally give the finger to every resident.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: Michigan runs a lot. They pass some. They move the ball consistently but only punch a few drives in because of breakdowns from Henne, drops from the wide receivers, or penalties. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has difficulty moving the ball consistently but hits a number of big plays. It all adds up to a close game late in the fourth quarter. Rivas from 35.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Woodley is neutralized.
- Hart goes for 150.
- 27-24, Michigan.
House Rock Built has a podcast featuring me(!) wonderful me(!) on his weekly Friday Night Lites. Thrill to the following:
- A discussion of when I put on pants!
- Two moments of extremely uncomfortable dead air!
- Shameful, shameful failure to accurately peg the apex of America's space program!
Also featured is the MZone's Yost. I don't know if he talks about pants yet, his interview just started.
Update: There's porn, though, that arises from a discussion of Ralph Friedgen. Dude.
|Hart ends up cutting this almost all the way back, slicing past Alex Mitchell(+1), who's driving CMU supahstar Dan Bazuin downfield on the first play of the game. Hart(-1) fumbles, Manningham recovers.|
|Something I've noticed: Henne does have the proverbial "command of the offense". On this play and several others he saves Michigan from confusion or penalty by correcting presnap alignments. Here he reminds Breaston to get up to the LOS after a TE goes in motion. The play? Easy as pie stop route to Manningham with the Central corners playing in East Herrmannistan. (CA) Would prefer he not stare down Manningham, though.|
|Dan Bazuin is from McBain, Michigan. It all seems so obvious in retrospect. This play is joined in progress and is thus hard to understand. Jake Long appears to miss a block on a filling linebacker, but as the play was going away from his side of the line I don't think you can blame him too much.|
|O39||2||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||10||Breaston||WR screen|
|We motion Breaston over to a stationary pair of Arrington and Manningham. I tell my cousin "screen" as the motion comes. I am so right. May have been a bit hasty on declaring the WR screen dead last week. This time Arrington(+1) gets a nice block to spring Breaston. Manningham(-1) is angry with himself after the play; he attempted to cut the corner and whiffed, preventing this from going a bit farther. (CA)|
|Bring in Oluigbo and fake an ISO. Henne starts looking deep but is rudely interrupted by Bazuin, who went around Riley(-2) like he wasn't there. Henne scrambles away from pressure nicely and hurls it in the general direction of Hart. (TA)|
|Play probably wasn't going anywhere anyway but it's notable that Riley(-1) got beat to the inside, and his man makes the tackle on a play run to the left side of the line. Oluigbo(+1) with another pounding block.|
|O26||3||7||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Arrington?||Med. Out?|
|Bazuin again. This time he feints going outside, gets Riley(-1) moving that way, and swims back inside. Hart's staying in to help but Bazuin's right in the passing lane. Henne throws, he jumps and bats the pass. (BA)|
|Hart's again tasked with doubling Bazuin. McBain does essentially the same thing he did the play before, but the throw goes to the other side. Henne rifles it in a small spot in the zone for the first. (DO)|
|Er. Ecker lines up on the left side of the line, then motions to the right. We zone to the left side of the line. So either Kraus has to somehow seal the defensive end by himself or Long has to momentarily scoop w/ Kraus and then get out on the outside linebacker. Neither of these things happen... the DE is upfield immediately, forcing Long to pivot and get a glancing block on him. The OLB is thus free. Hart does some dancing for a couple yards. Weird play design? An attempt to catch them off guard? I dunno. I think this is Long(-1) but don't quote me on it.|
|Again we run away from the strength of the formation â€“ 2 TE on the right side. It looks like this particular zone play is actually designed for a cutback behind the RG, but Ecker(-1) can't block guess who and he's forced to run behind his OL... which works out pretty well as the left side has blown CMU yards off the ball. (Long, Kraus +1)|
|Good lord. We motion Ecker to the side we run to this time but he's window dressing. Long and Kraus KILL the CMU d-line with an assist from Bihl. (+1 for everyone!)|
|O5||1||G||Offset I-2 TE||Run||5||Hart||Zone|
|Touchdown. Couldn't ask for a better exemplar of Mike Hart's(+2) zone goodness than this play, in which Bazuin ends up penetrating into the backfield. Past Long(!, -1). A potential TFL goes bye when Hart zips upfield. Outstanding work on the backside by Riley and Mitchell.(+1 each)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q. Riley's inability to block Bazuin almost terminates this drive but everyone else on the O was picture-perfect.|
|Riley(-1) is blown into the backfield, forcing Hart to cut back into the heart of the defense. I really, really hope this Bazuin guy is a top five pick in the NFL draft.|
|Good protection this time, as Central stunts Bazuin into a Mitchell-Bihl double team. (WTF?) This might provide some evidence for the crowd who declare Henne coached into timidity, as he has plenty of time but just dumps it down to Hart for a meh gain. (CA and I really wish I could see what was going on downfield.)|
|This is closer to a third and two and an instance similar to that at the end of the Vandy game where we were merrily zoning away against a defense that was going to come hell-bent against us on a fairly obvious run down. Here, as there, our running is ineffective. A downside of the zone game? I thin k I'd prefer bringing Obi in and dropping the hammer. Anyway, the play: motion Ecker to the left side, zone there, safety on that side blitzes, Ecker's(-1) block is fey, and the timing is busted.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st, I put all the analysis in the third down play. Drat! So, uh... this Dunkin Donuts commercial with the "beard of bees"... that has to be They Might Be Giants, right? (TMBG +1)|
|Breaston comes in motion to the left (and short) side of the field; Michigan zones that way. His block (-1) is mediocre but enough to delay the safety such that Hart makes the corner. If he does a bit better Hart gets ten.|
|O38||2||5||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Off tackle|
|Good lord part six or whatever: Riley(-1) again blown into the backfield by Bazuin; Hart's path is fortunately not disrupted. Everyone on the outside gets good seal blocks except Arrington(-1), allowing Hart to reach the corner. (Ecker +1 for the block.)|
|O32||1||10||Offset I slot||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Stop|
|Henne(-1) makes this a much tougher catch than it has to be, throwing it really hard and about a yard inside. Still hits him in the hands and could be caught. (very nominally CA)|
|Grady(+1) does well to power through a a tackler and stumble forward for a good chunk of yards. Could have been stopped for two yards.|
|Again with the zone-short-yardage I mentioned earlier and a similar, disappointing result. Mitchell(-1) got driven back a bit.|
|O23||4||1||Offset I 2TE||Penalty||5||--||Offsides|
|Extremely fortunate for us, as the man offsides was not on the playside as was thus completely irrelevant. Otherwise we turn the ball over on downs. Don't like running to the weak side of this formation when they've overloaded said side. Henne(-1) has to get us out of that.|
|Right up the gut for a touchdown. Presnap Henne corrects Oluigbo's position â€“ he had moved to an offset. Postsnap, Oluigbo(+1) crushes a blocker, allowing Hart a hole between the last linebacker and the endzone. A blitz from the outside linebackers anticipating another zone opens up all the space. Our rock to their scissors.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 1 min 1st. I'd rather have Oluigbo in there on these short yardage plays.|
|They're playing way, way off Manningham. He stops after five yards, catches the pass, and has plenty of room for more. (CA)|
|Grady(+1) cuts back and is momentarily caught in an ankle tackle by Bazuin, but breaks it and plows ahead for a nice gain.|
|O11||2||1||Offset I 2TE||Run||3||Grady||Iso|
|Awful camera angle. Grady(-1) cuts this to the backside, too, and unnecessarily. He risks a TFL here when the hole ahead was clearly sufficient to pick up the first down. Another good stick from Oluigbo(+1), though it was moot.|
|Dagnabit. I like my heroes and goats clear. On this play the POA is clogged by a ton of CMU players. There would be a wide open cutback lane between Kraus and someone if Kraus(-1) hadn't been ripped to the ground by the DT and free to close on Minor. Touchdown if Kraus makes the block and Minor makes the cut.|
|Bihl takes a little too long on his double-team at the line. When Grady cuts up the MLB is still unengaged, making a cutback unpalatable, so heads to the right of Bihl for a few yards. Made a couple after contact.|
|Long(+1) ends up burying his man five yards into the endzone. A nice, solid cut by Grady(+1) splits two converging defenders. Touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 12 min 2nd Q. Grind grind grind grind.|
|Lots of time. Henne gets to his second or third read, which is Hart, lined up at WR, on a six yard stop. Hart(-1) drops the ball. (CA)|
|Massive cutback lane as Central gets caught stemming into another defense right at the snap, one with only three DL. Since Riley is getting blown back again Hart cuts it up for a first down. CMU safety Curtis Cutts tatoos Hart.|
|Massey wiiiide open on the waggle. Excellent throw on the run. (DO, Henne +1)|
|Thompson at fullback. He decides to flail at a player already on the ground(-1), thus allowing a couple linebackers to fill.|
|O35||2||8||I-Form Twins||Pass||16||Breaston||PA deep cross|
|Breaston wide open after play action on the sideline about 12 yards downfield. Manningham's go route has run off the player originally in that zone. Henne puts it right on the money. (DO, Henne +1)|
|The play where Curtis Cutts comes up and goes Batman (POW!) on Minor. Great job by Bihl and Kraus to open up the cavern he runs through. (+1 for both)|
|Goofball in seat near me says "he's running tentative because of that hit," which draws muttered snark from me. It's hard to run anywhere when a defensive end is entirely unblocked. I'm pretty sure this is on Long(-2).|
|Man. Kids, Dan Bazuin is for real. On this play he starts out on the left, then has a delayed stunt inside Long. Kraus is trying to deal with the stunter and Bihl(-1) whiffs, forcing Henne to scramble and eventually take a sack. Can't blame Henne here: Michigan went max-pro, keeping 2 TEs in to block. The routes weren't ready by the time Bazuin was on him. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal, 24-7, 6 min 2nd Q. A couple of breakdowns on the left side of the line terminate this drive.|
|Oluigbo(-1) does not do the job here. I hate this playcall: there are nine men in the box. Nine.|
|Ditto. Nine guys in the box. Arrington single covered out to the right with his man eight yards off him. Stupidly conservative.|
|M7||3||6||Ace 3-Wide||Penalty||-4||Butler||False start|
|Butler(-1). His second of the day.|
|Well, clearly you don't want to hover in the pocket all day when you're in your own endzone, but Henne should be able to find someone. There's an out just offscreen that looks open. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-7, 2 min 2nd Q. Hate this drive for its predictability and clear indication that the idea of a "scoring offense" is alive and well. Tactically it's saying "we don't want you to get a cheap touchdown before the half," which I dislike mucho because the best way to prevent a cheap touchdown before the half is to get a first down here and kill their drive dead before they even start it.|
|M49||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||26||Breaston||Slip screen|
|Nice block from Arrington(+1), Breaston(+2) does his "I'm Steve Breaston" thing. (CA)|
|Very nice job by Bihl(+1) to seal off the DT. Mitchell and Riley(+1 each) create a gaping hole between themselves and Bihl. Hart(+1) makes another five or eight with a nice cutback once he gets through the hole.|
|O10||1||10||Ace 3-Wide Bunch||Run||5||Hart||Draw|
|Excellent blocking by the line. Hart is tackled by his shoes and falls forward.|
|Cuts up between Long(+1) and Kraus(+1). Just pushing them back, glacier-style.|
|Oluigbo(+1) pounds the outside linebacker, freeing Hart to waltz in to the outside. Michigan motioned a tight end to the left and ran right.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-10 10 min 3rd Q.|
|Cut is right up the gut.|
|Tight ends are open by five yards when we run this. Throw is right on the money (DO, Henne +1); Butler cartwheels to the turf after the catch.|
|Time to throw. Henne(-1) checks down to Massey, who's covered, and throws it well wide anyway. This could be evidence for those who think Henne has been coached into timidity. (IN)|
|There's a massive hole here but Grady makes a terrible decision, running back into the defense.(-1) Kudos to Kraus(+1) and Bihl(+1) for the blocking.|
|Kraus(-1) gets lost on a stunt, allowing his man to come in unblocked on Henne. He had just enough time to get it away but missed Manningham. (IN, though perhaps harsh.)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 7 min 3rd Q|
|A promising hole off tackle is closed just enough when Carson Butler(-1) can't hold his position and bumps into Grady as he passes. Grady(+1) digs for extra yards after contact for a decent gain anyway.|
|Works to perfection this time: Long(+1) shoves his man over enough for Kraus to seal then gets to the second level. Massey kicks out a linebacker, and Minor finds the gap behind Long for the first down. Minor finishes this run by delivering the pop this time.|
|Carson Butler(+1) dismembers the linebacker to the play side on this snap. Arrington(+1) dominates the cornerback; Minor gets the corner with ease. He finishes the run with powah!|
|Butler can't handle Bazuin on this play. There's nothing to the outside so Minor cuts it up into a bunch of bodies to get what he can.|
|Riley(-1) killed by Bazuin again. Jackson is out of options and, much like the last play, a Michigan running play ends in a mass of flailing limbs. Oh, and a fumble.|
|Time to throw ends abruptly when Bazuin stunts past Mitchell(-1) and into Henne's chest. Henne does manage to get a pass off to Butler for a few yards. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal, 34-10, 1 min 3rd Q|
|POA jammed up so Hart cuts back. Dodges an arm tackle. Dodges another arm tackle, and now he's got the whole right side of the field, which he starts running up. NO NO NO NO CHAD IT'S 34-10 DOOOON'T. (+2 for Hart.)|
|Time, checkdown, timidity. (CA)|
|CMU blitzes into it... the guy up the middle is blowed up by Oluigbo, but too much traffic in the middle.|
|Flag is picked up. The contact was indeed before the ball was thrown, but this still seems like it should be a penalty. No justice no peace. Not charted since Manningham's fall makes it impossible to judge the throw.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-10, 12 min 4th Q. Garbage time ensues, though the first team gets another drive.|
Dude, there's like numbers and stuff.
Yes, we're trying out a very experimental +/- similar to that seen weekly for the defense. I forsee some problems:
- OL never get credit for good pass blocking but do get slammed for bad pass blocking.
- It's impossible to see if receivers are running good routes.
- A zone running game sometimes makes it difficult to assign blame or credit.
- Mike Hart got shorted.
But we'll try anyway. I added some +/- to Henne but I don't think that practice will continue since he's been the subject of much finer-grained analysis for a while.
|Long||5||4||1||Still missing a few blocks.|
|Bihl||3||1||2||No longer concerned about center.|
|Riley||2||7||-5||Plain murdered by Bazuin, who didn't even confine his damage to Riley.|
|Butler||1||3||-2||Stop false-starting, kid.|
|Oluigbo||4||1||3||Actually want to see more fullback. Who would have ever predicted that?|
At first glance, this might need significant work. Michigan crushed Central on the ground but the numbers don't really reflect it, though that was due almost entirely to Bazuin playing like Lawrence Taylor. And I have a feeling wide receivers are going to have mostly negative scores for dropping balls. We'll see.
IMO, a good game. There were a couple throws on the CA/IN border; one got dropped in each bin. The bullet to Breaston that was a yard off is the kind of pass that gets caught by Avant. So: a couple wobbly throws, one plain bad one, and then good results. Two tough-ish waggle throws made on the run hit TEs between the numbers. That deep cross to Breaston was perfectly placed and not a difficult catch. The BA wasn't his fault at all.
There wasn't much evidence to go on, but he came through when he was asked to throw. I do have some concerns about his tendency to check down when he has a lot of time, but with the umbrella CMU was putting around the deep receivers it's understandable. He should have some opportunities to go deep against Notre Dame.
If he is in rhythm at all. WTF haven't we thrown more?
I think the usual reasons trotted out (working on the zone game, DeBord and Carr treat the forward pass like apes encountering the Monolith) are probably part of it, but consider this: Michigan has essentially no backup quarterback. David Cone is a true freshman from a veer option team. Jason Forcier is a redshirt freshman who is not at all ready, if rumors are to be believed. So it might make some sense to keep your quarterback protected against teams that have very little chance of winning, especially when your right tackle is more door than wall and double especially when McBain is coming to kill you.
Speaking of McBain, good Lord.
No kidding. The word "unblockable" gets thrown around way too often -- I've heard people describe Woodley's first two games as "unblockable" when a better adjective would be "unblocked" -- but goddamn, that kid is unblockable. It wasn't just Riley, either. He blew past interior linemen on a couple stunts and would have ended Hart's first touchdown for a four-yard loss after shucking none other than Jake Long if not for Hart's unbearable awesomeness of being. I think he might be the best defensive end in the country. I know that I really want him to be the best defensive end in the country.
We'll find out when Abiamiri lines up versus Riley. I'm pulling for you, McBain.
And what does it mean for Notre Dame?
As previously discussed in the PSU tape review, Abiamiri is going to be a major problem. His matchup versus Riley is the key one for the Michigan offense, period. I expect him to get beat a lot. Just how much will determine the fate of the universe. Michigan will chip and offer RB support but when ND blitzes his help will be stripped away, leaving him one on one with the beast. I expect screens-a-plenty.
Michigan's run game is very good. Everyone on the line is capable of drive-blocking well. Oluigbo has established himself as a punishing blocker. Hart, Minor, and Grady are all good backs. Given what I've seen I think Michigan will be able to run on Notre Dame when they have seven in the box. Eight will work sometimes but not frequently enough for Michigan to go into a shell the entire game and come out with a win. Variety will be key.
We don't really know much about Michigan's passing game other than Riley's scary and the tight ends are heavily featured. I expect the TEs to remain heavily featured in an attempt to keep ND's linebackers from crashing the LOS. Waggles and seam routes should feature. Also, WR screens should be effective if the GT game is any indication of the open-field tackling ability possesed by ND's cornerbacks. Breaston and Manningham can make these guys miss. Ndukwe and Zbikowski might dislodge their fillings ten yards downfield, but ten yards is ten yards.
I'm still not sure what to expect except a lot of zone blocking and panicked scrambles from Henne when Riley whiffs. We could grind up and down the field on them, or we could succumb to an avalanche of tiny mistakes like we did last year. I think we score in the 24-27 point range.