10/6/2007 - LSU 28, Florida 24 - LSU all #1 and stuff.
Five times, LSU found itself facing fourth and short against the Gators. Five times, they went for it. Five times, they got it, and that's the primary reason LSU is #1 today. What does it take to sell real estate?
It takes brass balls.
Brass balls alone lead into the land of Weis E. Coyote and leads to things like running a Brady Quinn option on second and short against USC. This was more than that. David Romer, the patron saint of coach-strategery-questioning, would have approved of each call. A listing:
- With fourth and goal from the one, Ryan Perriloux cuts an option up for a touchdown, bringing LSU to within 3.
- On fourth and five from the twenty five, Matt Flynn scrambles for a first down. LSU goes on to score a touchdown. (At this point LSU K Colt David has already missed a 43-yarder; Miles is passing up on a 42 yard attempt.)
- On fourth and three from the Florida four, Matt Flynn rolls out, fakes a run, then pulls up to hit Demetrius Byrd in the endzone for a touchdown.
- LSU converts twice on the final, game-winning drive, once on fourth and one from their own 49, again on fourth and inches from the Florida five. Both times Jacob Hester bulls his way to first down yardage.
Three decisions to go were on fourth and short deep in Florida territory, and each turned a field goal attempt with a shaky kicker (David isn't very good and would finish the night 0-2, with one of the misses from 36) into a vital touchdown. One kept David from attempting a 42-yarder and eventually turned into another LSU touchdown; the last was the fourth and short on LSU's side of the field. Taken together they are a breathtaking tribute to offensive efficiency: four of LSU's nine drives against the Gators ended in the endzone. A further two ended in makable field goal attempts. There is a difference between this and mindless aggression.
The final call is the least debatable. Kicking a field goal is not automatic (LSU's kicker had already missed a 36-yarder) and gives Florida the ball back with about 2:30 on the clock to drive for the win. Going, on the other hand, either leads to Florida with the ball on their own six, needing a first down to kill the game, or what actually happened: first and goal, eventual touchdown, harried Florida drive that needs to go the length of the field to win the game. Anyone with a passing familiarity of the probabilities involved here should understand that going for it is the far superior choice, but how many coaches would pass up the temptation of a chip-shot field goal there? Certainly not our current set, and probably very few across the country.
Anyone protesting that had one of these attempts failed the consensus here would be "Les Miles is an idiot" has not lingered long over these passages or has forgotten certain things if they have. If ever I was going to turn my back on the Gospel of Expectation, it would have been after the Wisconsin game during the Year of Infinite Pain, when Carr decided to go for it on fourth and goal from the one. Matt Lentz tripped, Kevin Grady got stoned, and Michigan would go on to lose by a field goal. That game's UFR (a truly embryonic edition... the feature has come a long way in two years) makes one brief mention of it:
Still the right call.
So there you go. Miles made the right call five times and turned a loss into a victory.
Meanwhile, even the best coaches occasionally succumb to brainlock in the heat of the moment. Everyone's -- and this blog includes itself in this everyone -- prodigal coaching genius Urban Meyer blew 20 seconds after Hester's conversion before calling timeout, then failed to call another timeout after Florida's opening play on their final drive ended up in-bounds short of the sticks. When the Gators managed to cross midfield they had twelve seconds and had to settle for one harried play and a Hail Mary. If Meyer had used his timeouts appropriately by immediately calling timeout after every LSU or Florida play that ran the clock after Hester's conversion, Florida would have had a minute and a half to play with and an excellent shot at a game-winning touchdown of its own. That was coaching malpractice on a staggering scale.
There's a post about this on the Fanhouse, but I will repeat myself here: that game should forever dispel the notion that Les Miles is just an empty hat along for the ride with an epic amount of talent. Said talent bumper-crop doesn't appear to be materializing, at least not on offense. Matt Flynn threw horribly behind his receivers several times, finished with 144 yards passing, and threw an ugly interception. Primary Flynn target Early Doucet missed the game. Jacob Hester, who is From Nebraska even if he's actually from Louisiana, was admirably effective at battering his way forward and is now a local hero for all time but will make the NFL at the same time I do. The LSU offense replaces three first-round picks, returns (I believe) only five starters, and is breaking in a quarterback with only moderate talent and one career start. This is not a team that should put up 28 points (with two missed field goals) against the #9 team in the country on just nine drives.
The reason they reached that number is that Les Miles took stock of the options he had and let 'er rip. Average coaching loses that game. Good coaching loses that game. Miles and his staff were brilliant in one of the marquee games of the season, and LSU is #1.
I am sold. I will sign on the line that is dotted. Get some coffee, Les.
- Harbaugh? No. A group of friends and I watched the afternoon and late games together and everyone watching the USC-Stanford game started out conflicted save our resident Auburn guy, but when an impossible fourth and twenty turned into a first and goal, everyone whooped, and when that kid with a 1570 SAT stabbed his foot down for the winning points, everyone whooped again, and for a moment all that crap over the summer was forgiven. But it's just one game. The parallels between grabbing Harbaugh after that and Notre Dame dumping a ten-year extension on Weis are too eerie. He hasn't proven anything yet, and while I think there's plenty of evidence he'll be very good he's too much of a risk when Miles is out there, even leaving aside the garbage over the summer.
- Did we play a game? I guess we did. And of course this is the game that DeBord decides to open with something other than zone left and balance his run-pass ratio against a weaker opponent. He even threw the ball with Savoy in the game. Does he just do these things to spite me? Hey, Debord, I really hate it when we put up 50 points. Loathe it.
- An unwelcome addition to the playbook: an unbalanced line with two wide receivers in a twins look with a tight end to their side. The tight end is covered up in this look and is an ineligible man if he goes downfield. Michigan was 100% run out of this, IIRC. It worked well, albeit against Eastern Michigan, and clearly seems like a Debord Trickery special.
- Final special teams tally: one KO return inside our twenty, another instance of our punt gunners failing to do
wn a Zoltan hanger before it rolled into the endzone, two onside kicks recovered (to be fair, the second was about as perfect as onside kicks get), one instance of a punt returner failing to pick up a bouncing ball at the nine and getting Michigan pinned at the one, and one blocked extra point run back for a conversion. Michigan puts the 'special' in special teams.
- Blaming our special teams failings on our lack of a special teams coach is a shallow reading of things. I don't think many teams have a dedicated special teams coach, but they manage to do without. I do think it's indicative of a larger pattern: this team is not well coached. From the blocked field goals to the extra-point where Mike Hart ran on the field to be an eleventh guy, special teams has been a clusterf*** all year... just like our defense against even the wussiest spread option teams. Also, there were an epic number of off-field incidents in the offseason; this has lasted into the year. Manningham, Minor, and Babb all missed this game. Warren was also held out of the first series for a disciplinary matter. The overall picture painted is of a team rapidly spiraling into disarray.
- Michigan's learned nothing from redshirts blown in the past. It's mind-bogglingly frustrating to see Martell Webb, James Rogers, Troy Woolfolk, and Zion Babb on the field. Not one of these players is going to do anything this year to help the team, and whatever tiny experience they pick up this year is absolutely not worth blowing a potential starter's fifth year. Two words: Prescott Burgess.
- The mind boggles even further when Michigan's refusal to run their actual offense in garbage time is considered. If they think that getting Ryan Mallett reps in garbage time is not a useful way to increase his readiness, why the hell are so many scrubs not redshirting this year?
- Carlos Brown showed nothing in extensive time, and Brandon Minor hasn't been very impressive this year either. Both seem like very fast guys who can run straight ahead into a major hole but provide no YAC and can't make anyone miss. McGuffie has a wide open shot at the job. (Also, he's healthy again: 272 yards on 18 carries, 6 TDs. Schwing!)
- No Graham or Thompson this week, and no Mouton until very late. After the first play he was in on, Mouton started limping around, so maybe his ankle injury was pretty severe and is still lingering? I certainly hope so; if that's not the case he's really unlikely to be a contributor down the road.
- One bright spot: the corner play, IMO, has been pretty good for a few weeks now.
- Slocum finally played. Woo.
Not that Emu.
|Head Coach, LSU|
|Head Coach @ Okie State||2001-2004|
|TE Coach w/ Dallas||1998-2000|
|Offensive Coordinator @ Okie State||1995-1997|
|Assistant @ Michigan||1987-1994|
|Assistant @ Colorado||1982-1986|
|Grad Assistant @ Michigan||1980-1981|
|Two-year letterman at Michigan|
If you've spent the last two months somewhere other than Pluto, you might be familiar with the background of Les Miles. A former offensive lineman under Bo, Miles gave up his job to work for 8k per year as a grad assistant in the early 80s, joined Colorado's staff when McCartney was hired there. He returned to Michigan in the late 80s, leaving for the offensive coordinator position at Oklahoma State. (I can't find out what Miles' exact role was at Colorado or Michigan during his years as an assistant; I assume given his background that he was an OL coach with some TE sprinkled in.) After a successful three-year stint, he spent three years in Dallas as a position coach before being named Oklahoma State's head coach. At Oklahoma State, he took over a program that had gone 5-6, 5-6, and 3-8 in the three years after Miles' term as offensive coordinator. Accomplishments at Oklahoma State:
2001: OSU upsets Oklahoma 16-13 in the final game of Miles' debut season.
2002: The Cowboys are 2-4 midway through 2002 but turn the season around with their first win over Nebraska in 41 years.
2002: OSU defeats Texas A&M the week after the Nebraska win. It's the Pokes' first win over A&M since the conference was formed.
2002: Miles is the only coach in the nation to defeat OU coach Bob Stoops twice when the Cowboys roll past the Sooners 38-28 in the 2002 regular-season finale. With his second consecutive Bedlam win, Miles becomes the first OSU coach to defeat Nebraska and Oklahoma in the same season.
2002: Miles is named Big 12 Coach of the Year.
2002: The Cowboys win their first bowl game since 1988 with a 33-23 win over Southern Mississippi in the Houston Bowl.
2003: OSU defeats Kansas State, the eventual Big 12 champion, to end a nine- game losing streak against the Wildcats.
2003: The Cowboys post only their second win over Texas Tech since the Barry Sanders era.
2004: OSU plays in the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys' first January bowl game in 55 years. OSU loses 31-28 to Ole Miss.
2004: The Cowboys open the season with a road win over UCLA, OSU's first season-opening win in the Miles era.
2004: OSU plays in its third consecutive bowl for only the second time in school history.
After a 4-7 first year, Miles was 24-14 at a school that had experienced very little success... ever. Stassen comparables for the span from 1990-2000:
Oklahoma State's 9-4 2004 was their best year since back to back 10-2 years in 1987 and 1988 driven by Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders.
On the strength of this excellent performance at Big 12 Kentucky, he was hired to replace Nick Saban at LSU. In about two and a half years at LSU, he's lost four games. The Tigers are #1 in the blogpoll and face Florida this weekend; win and a trip to the national championship game is likely. It's not often you can pick off a coach coming off a national championship run.
Xs and Os Proficiency: This is the great unknown with Miles. His three years as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator came before 2000, the point at which comprehensive statistics are available online via the NCAA, so we're left with only season totals from James Howell's database:
That appears to be a nice upward trajectory, but even the 8-4 '97 season featured a couple stinkers: a 27-3 loss to Texas Tech, 21 points in a season opening win over 1-10 Iowa State, 20 points against Purdue in a bowl loss (though this might have been a year when Purdue had a surprisingly stingy defense).
The numbers at right are those of LSU and Oklahoma State w
ith Miles as head coach, provided on the assumption that as a former offensive assistant and coordinator he has something to do with them. They're good but not Tedford-good; the interesting thing is that there seems to be a clear disconnect between Miles' scoring offense and total offense. Each Miles team is significantly better at the latter than the former (save last year, when it would have been hard to be better), occasionally by remarkable margins. Is this luck? Turnover margin? (In the case of 2005, yes, as OSU was second in the country. Other than that, no.) Excellent special teams? A refusal to punt from inside the opponent's 40? I don't know. It does seem like an indicator that Miles is doing something subtle right that most coaches are not.
That's nice, but the most appealing thing about Miles is that this section might be something of a moot point. Miles, like Mark Richt and Bobby Bowden, has positioned himself as a CEO sort that does not get into the nitty-gritty details of coordinating. Instead, he goes out and hires the best available guys to coach his offense and defense, then replaces them with the best available guys when they get poached. Witness defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and offensive coordinators Jimbo Fisher/Gary Crowton. No hiring your buddies despite some clear evidence they aren't Michigan-caliber tactically.
Recruiting: It would be nice if Miles had a stop somewhere between recruiting purgatory and recruiting Nirvana to evaluate, but he does not. At LSU, things have been outstanding. Miles signed the #4 class last year, the #7 class the year before, and the #22 class in 2005 despite only having 13 scholarships to give.
Is this entirely an artifact of LSU's status as the lone major football school in the nation's most talent-dense state? Let's break it down:
|2006||26||13||3||1||2||7 (3 GA, 1 FL, 1 AL, 2 MS)|
|2007||26||11||5||--||--||10 (1 MI, 2 AL, 2 FL, 1 GA, 2 MS, 1 NC, 1 TN)|
Survey says... sort of. Anytime you can load up on 11-13 instate kids and have 8 or so of them be four or five stars, you are starting ahead of the pack. But Miles' most recent class has 15 out of state recruits, every one of them four stars or better save two(?!) kickers and a three-star tight end out of Texas. This includes potentially huge flake Joseph Barksdale from Cass Tech, a guy the Michigan coaches either screwed up with or passed on because of the potentially huge flake thing. You can spin this as a Miles negative if you want, but LSU doesn't seem to have more problems than most teams with bad apples. They were a nonfactor in the Fulmer Cup -- Michigan finished like fifth -- and don't appear beset by internal strife like the current Michigan team is rumored to be.
One other note: Miles' distinct lack of JUCO/prep guys is a positive. The prep guy, Keiland Williams, went to Hargrave Military for a year; the two JUCOs were offensive linemen to plug a hole. Michigan went to the prep route for Marques Slocum and took a JUCO last year; Miles might take the occasional guy from these sources and that will probably be fine.
Potential Catches: There are many. One: the maelstrom of rumor and innuendo suggesting that Miles is a nefarious win-at-all-costs type who will tie Michigan's virtue to the train tracks and skitter off into the night. This can be uncleverly dubbed the "Loose Morals" issue. Said maelstrom has its genesis in the current coaching staff and the insiders attached to them. This is a group of people with every motivation to tar potential external candidates who are likely to clean house, so chances are things are exaggerated or really old -- the last time Miles was around the program was 15 years ago -- but that isn't. Even if the accusations levied turn out to be false or piddling, they serve as an indication that the entrenched regime would prefer a dead gopher to Miles. And I don't mean Glen Mason.
There are some indicators Miles might not be the best fit that have better documentation, though. From a post this summer titled "Les Miles Isn't A Candidate For Anything":
When Mike Gundy replaced Les Miles as coach he instituted, um, something other than anarchy:
"Several players said the day [new OK State Coach] Gundy replaced Les Miles as head coach he established guidelines that players attend class, be on time for team meetings, adhere to workout routines, represent the program well and play hard."
Nine kids thought these were ridiculous guidelines and left the team.
Um... not good. Maybe this is sycophantic reporting that chooses to phrase things in a way maximally flattering to Gundy and maximally insulting to Miles, but when a new coach comes in and has to clear out 10% of the team that's not a good sign. Then there were the dual outbursts of this summer:
First of all, the guy has a verbal diarrhea that fits in at Michigan about as well as John L Smith controlled his emotions. This very week Miles said a bunch of intemperate things about the Pac 10 on a radio show that stand in marked contrast to Carr's reticence to do anything that could be construed as campaigning during the Michigan-Florida election window last December. A few months ago he told an alumni gathering that LSU has "a new rival in fucking Alabama," which is not only a sentence that can change directions radically based on punctuation ("we have a new rival in fucking: Alabama!") but the sort of public utterance that would cause the Michigan establishment to get woozy and collapse, Southern Belle style, into Mary Sue Coleman's arms.
I don't care if Miles opens every press conference with more profanity than "It Hits The Fan" as long as he never punts from inside his opponent's 40, but I am not the man with the plan here. Others may see this as a major hurdle.
I dunno... do you want your head coach to sound like this? (Not a rhetorical question; I don't know if I do or not.)
(Miles, not Godzilla.) This is after getting thrashed by Oklahoma 52-9. He seems pissed, which is a change, but all in all he holds it together in what must be a difficult moment.
Relative Compensation: As of November, Miles made $1.5 million, which is approximately equal to Lloyd Carr's current salary. Michigan will have to up this significantly. There is also the hurdle of $1.25 million buyout should he take the Michigan job. Miles would be expensive-ish. Probably less so than Tedford and Ferentz but not Brian Kelly cheap; this should not be a concern for an athletic department seeking to maintain its cash cow.
One potential hitch: Miles' success seems more tied than most to his ability to locate (and pay) high profile assistants, so the true cost of hiring him might be higher than just his salary. Dollars to donuts Michig
an lays out more for an OC under Miles than they would under Tedford.
Would He Take The Job? Yes. Local columnist Scott Rabalais:
Since Michigan's 39-7 embarrassment Saturday against Oregon, just about everyone I've spoken to in and around the LSU program (except Athletic Director Skip Bertman) believes Miles would take the Michigan job if offered should Lloyd Carr retire or resign.
I personally think Les absolutely leaves LSU for Michigan (assuming the season unfolds such that they still want him by the end of it), and I wouldn't blame him at all. Michigan is his alma mater. He's a Bo Schembechler guy, and who WOULDN'T take the opportunity to pay tribute to his hero by following in his footsteps?
Former teammate and close friend John Wangler:
"When and if the opportunity comes up, I think Les will consider it strongly," said John Wangler, a former Michigan quarterback and a close friend of Miles. "I don't think there's reason to tap dance around it. He'd have to look at it seriously."
This is such a slam dunk that all coaches clearly less attractive than Miles need no consideration, assuming institutional hurdles don't eliminate him... and after Appalachian State I think the chances of that are slim.
Overall Attractiveness: I don't know. Obviously what he's done at LSU has been impressive, but pockmarked by things like this:
That is not encouraging. On the other hand, I don't care that Okie State lost this game 52-9...
...the idea of a Michigan head coach saying, let alone meaning "let 'er rip" gives the tingly bits some tingle.
Accusations that he's living off Saban's players ring hollow. This is his third year, and while the guys playing may have been recruited by Saban they have largely been coached by Miles. Tyrone Willingham is not responsible for Notre Dame being 0-8 and Nick Saban is not responsible for LSU being #1. Maybe he's not a super genius like Weis E. Coyote, but he's forged a gorilla with a chainsaw for a penis out of an acknowledgment of his own limitations, a willingness to defer to those more expert than him, and general good management of players and coaches. There is a skill in that generally gets you paid lots of money, be it on a football field or in a boardroom, and it should not be dismissed.
Meanwhile, Miles has proven in the past couple years that his recruiting is not solely because of LSU's status as the flagship program of Louisiana. He can recruit monster classes to a school with a lot of built-in advantages. Michigan is one of these programs. There is unlikely to be a huge dropoff if Miles should leave; will they accuse the next coach of winning with Miles' players?
Improprieties proven are insufficient to disqualify him from the job, and those rumored are just that: rumored. Miles has never been in trouble with the NCAA; he played and coached at Michigan for a total of 15 years; he knows what the program and the school are about. Unless there is some proof he he cutting corners, the insiders should be ignored and Miles should be a strong candidate for the job. Just hire someone (me!) to call timeouts.
Eastern! Respected intra-county rival! How we respect you and your respectable program which is worth respecting!
Run Offense vs. EMU
Pittsburgh, last seen losing by ND-like margins to UConn and Virginia, is the best team Eastern has played this year, and they're still 83rd in rush defense. But things, while uneven, haven't been totally humiliating. Vandy put up 173 yards but needed 44 carries to do it. Ball State's RBs combined for 35 carries at 3.4 YPC. It hasn't been a total slaughter.
Those numbers came against Howard, which isn't a guy (or a duck) but a I-AA HBC. While Michigan is no stranger to giving up mind-bending numbers of rushing yards to I-AA schools, neither is it in the practice of having the equivalent of a I-AA rushing attack. Though there were significant struggles against Northwestern, apparently John Gill is one of Northwestern's anomalous badasses; no one on Eastern will come close to matching that performance. If this is not a steady grind reminiscent of the first three games, it will bode very unwell for future contests.
One note: there are well-sourced rumors flying around that Brandon Minor is going to miss this game. Carlos Brown might get extensive time, assuming we don't trail at the half.
Key Matchup: Interior OL versus DT penetration. Mike Hart has had to deal with DTs in his grill for two straight weeks, breaking 100 yards only via repetition and, well, that's it: repetition. Also his ineffable greatness, but mostly just getting pounded into the line 30 or 44 times. If Eastern Michigan DTs cross the LOS just cancel the season. Again.
Pass Offense vs. EMU
Henne is back as Michigan's full-time starter, so the training wheels can come off the offense and we can risk things like simple outs against terrified three-deep coverage. Like the rush defense, EMU's pass defense has been erratic. They held NIU's QB to 128 passing yards in a win and intercepted Vandy's Chris Nickson four times but also gave up 308 yards and four touchdowns to Ball State's Nate Davis and allowed Pitt's Bill Stull to have an efficient 14 for 20, 177 yard, 1 TD day. I am confident in saying that Henne is better than Davis or Stull and whatever grab bag of wideouts and tight ends we have still includes a few guys who Eastern is going to cower before.
One item to look for: who replaces Massey? Tight end depth was a major issue in the spring when Carson Butler was off the team and Massey was dinged up. The spring game featured Chris McLaurin, a converted linebacker, and Andre Criswell, a converted fullback, conclusively proving McLaurin couldn't block, and Criswell couldn't run, and neither could catch. We could just go with a three-wide set and force opponents to respect it by, like, passing out of it. We could more heavily feature Mark Moundros, though he's been uninspiring and with Moudros comes the dread fullback shuffle. More likely we'll try to sort through the wreckage at TE to find an acceptable alternative. McLaurin saw Massey's time against Northwestern.
Key Matchup: Mike Debord versus throwing only when we have to.
Run Defense vs. EMU
Eastern ran for 37 yards against Pitt and 62 yards against Vandy. Only one anomalous 68 yard romp against NIU is keeping their 100th-ranked rushing offense from levels of epic suck matched only by Notre Dame. They run a spread unless they've vastly changed their offense from last year, so there's always the chance Michigan implodes and Eastern puts up like 300 yards, but... uh... no.
Key Matchup: Ron English versus Getting Too Cute. Stunting all over creation has gotten Michigan in trouble against both Appalachian State and Northwestern; simply driving EMU's crappy OL back should be sufficient.
Pass Defense vs. EMU
EMU QB Andy Schmitt against Vandy:
Yikes. Eastern's passing attack is thus far even worse than their run game, 110th in the country largely because Schmitt went nuts against Howard.
Meanwhile, Michigan's secondary turned in an excellent day versus Northwestern a week after leaving a lot of Penn State receivers open but getting away with it due to a fierce pass rush and the tao of Morelli. Things are on the upswing after the worst performance ever by a Michigan secondary against Oregon -- probably not even exaggeration, that -- and Eastern seems more likely to threaten themselves instead of Michigan.
Key Matchup: Safeties versus enormous screwups that cost Michigan touchdowns. We had another against Northwestern; these must halt.
...will not be relevant, and if they are you probably don't want to know about it.
Key Matchup: KC Lopata, please don't suck..
Vast spreads against MAC teams do not warrant kitten talismans.
- Eastern runs for anything at all.
- Eastern throws for anything at all.
- We can't run. Worry lots if that.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Mallett plays the second half...
- ...with Carlos Brown.
- Uh... we kick off? It's EMU.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 2 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for MAC Opponent, -1 for MAC Opponent From Michigan, -1 for ...That Doesn't Have Brian Kelly, -1 for MAC Opponent From Washtenaw County, +1 for The Horror).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (B
aseline 5; +1 for We Must Maintain In-County Bragging Rights, +1 for If This Happens Twice In One Season My Brain Might Melt, +1 for It's EMU, +1 for Seriously, +1 for SERIOUSLY.)
Loss will cause me to... iiiiiiiiit's kitten time!
Win will cause me to... shrug, watch OSU-Purdue with great interest.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Eastern Michigan is the worst team Michigan will play all year and should roll over and die. Yeah, there's a chance things implode but... no.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Mike Hart sets the record at the end of the first quarter.
- 6 sacks.
- 42-17, Michigan.
Ah duh duh duh:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Big Ten Conference Compliance and Reinstatement Subcommittee ruled today (Thursday, Oct. 4) that the University of Michigan will not be required to forfeit any 2007 football games.
This will go down as the most tempestuous teapot since nineteen dickety-two.
Rates. The NCAA has published this year's GSR rates. Michigan football is at 73%, up from 71% last year. This is third in the Big Ten, behind Northwestern and Penn State. The more detailed report that Jim Harbaugh and NDNation nuts used to hammer Michigan over the summer hasn't come out yet.
Most Youtubey Thing Ever. There's something low-rent about many youtube videos, as you might imagine. Set up a camera, roll tape of you in your living room drinking beer and giving your take on whatever, etc. But I've never seen something quite as goofily amateur as this:
Mock up powerpoint presentation? Check. Insert Survivor tape in cassette player from 1985? Check. Get wobbly child to hold camera? Check. We are go for launch.
For the record: Henne, you daft powerpoint enthusiast, you.
Oh, God, Terrance, noooooooo.
Post Northwestern, Terrance Taylor decides to share the ample, ample love...
...lawsuit for crushing six juniors pending.
JoePa not interested. On the forfeiture:
"I know we got licked," Paterno said Tuesday. "I don't have any interest in it. We lost. That's up to somebody else to make the decision."
The Realests are pleased.
Well, maybe it wasn't so bad. Lake The Posts on John Gill, who just got done owning our interior line:
Mel Kiper recently donned Gill as the 2nd best junior DT in all of CFB. Chris Martin has told me that scouts LOVE this kid and he may project to be one of the highest drafted picks we've ever had.
I believe it after that performance; hopefully he's just this anomalous super badass at NW and not an indication that the Michigan running game is about to crumble.
Great. Michigan now has its very own Level Of Losing in an updated Bill Simmons meme:
Level VII: The Drive-By Shooting
Definition: A first cousin of The "This Can't Be Happening" Game, we created this one four weeks ago to describe any college football upset in which a 30-point underdog shocks a top-5 team in front of 108,000 of its fans and kills its title hopes before Labor Day.
Best Example: The unprecedented "Assassination in Ann Arbor," which trumped The "This Can't Be Happening" Game for three reasons. First, it's an understatement to say that nobody saw Appalachian State coming (in some Vegas casinos, they didn't even have a line for the game). Second, it was one of the most humiliating defeats in college football history. And third, it killed any realistic chance for Michigan to win the national title, only it happened in Week 1 and the Wolverines still had to play out the rest of their suddenly meaningless season. Just for the record, the "Drive-By Shooting" can only happen in college football.
Awesome. Remember this whenever anyone defends the coaching staff that permitted The Horror to happen.
no video; sorry.
|A simple out turns into a huge play because the receiver ends up on top of two defenders and manages to get up and sprint downfield. It's hard to get exercised about this. It's a fluke. (Cover -1)|
|Bacher gives a pump fake and two Wildcats leap as if the ball is coming to them on short screen routes; the third receiver to that side runs a wheel that Trent(+1) covers excellently. Ball OOB; probably just a throw away. (Cover +1)|
|M16||2||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|The center and tackle move out to the second level immediately; Crable is unblocked. Taylor(+1) fills the gap where this play is supposed to go; Conteh is forced to run it into Crable for a minimal gain.|
|Zone blitz with a DT backing off at the snap, probably BGraham. Bacher takes a short stop route; Adams(+1) closes on it short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: FG (26), 0-3, 13 min 1st Q. It's hard to blame the D for the big play on this drive, since by all appearances the guy was down and to continue hitting him only invites late hit flags. It's a fluke.|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Stop|
|Stunting abounds as we line up with one DT and huge, huge splits out the DEs. Seems like an invitation to run; they do not. Terrance Taylor(+1) plows his man directly back into Bacher, who throws inaccurately on an eight-yard stop. (Pressure +1). Stop was open enough.|
|O21||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Out|
|BGraham(+1) avoids an attempted cut block and comes in on Bacher, forcing a hasty throw. This is to a TE on a little out; CGraham(+1) is there to put his helmet into the ball and knock it loose. Four yard gain even if caught. (Cover +1)|
|O21||3||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Out|
|Trent(-1) beaten and leaves his man open past the sticks. Bacher finds him but throws it well in front of the guy, he bats it in the air and allows Trent time to close.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 8 min 1st Q. Most of this is on Bacher. He had open guys twice and couldn't hit them.|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||-3||Zone read handoff|
|Taylor(+1) pushes into the backfield, impeding the course of Conteh and checks on Bacher; Crable(+2) also drives his guy into the backfield, sheds, and tackles for loss.|
|O13||2||13||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||12||Zone read handoff|
|Another instance where we have huge splits between our DT and our DEs; Crable lines up outside the DE and Ezeh is the only guy in the middle. Oh, and guess what? Taylor stunts at the snap. End result: gaping hole up the middle, the center moving to the second level without even having to think about blocking Taylor, and one redshirt freshman linebacker in his first start getting blocked. This is a twelve yard gain and no minuses except to the coaching staff, who begged the Wildcats to run it down their throat.|
|O25||3||1||Shotgun 2-TE||Base 4-3||Pass||3||RB Flat|
|BGraham(+1) cuts through some blockers to pressure Bacher; it's too late as Conteh is open on a little flat route. Can't blame CGraham in coverage since this is a tough route to cover in man and there was a pick that impeded his progress. (Cover -1)|
|This is the second week someone has claimed Morgan Trent is from San Diego. WTF? Bacher misthrows a screen that probably would have worked.|
|O28||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||8||Zone read handoff|
|Major push from Taylor and Crable cuts off the outside; Jamison is cut to the ground and makes an ankle-tackle attempt from his knees. BGraham(-1) ridden out of the play; Ezeh(-1) hesitant and there's a gap. Adams fills competently.|
|Lane runs a little stop route right in front of the sticks and Bacher throws it in. CGraham(+1) in tight coverage; this a nice throw. (Cover +1)|
|Bacher has all day to throw (pressure -2) after a little draw fake that the linebackers bite on; he finds Lane in between Adams and Trent(-1); Adams complains at Trent after the play. (Cover -2)|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-3||Zone read boot|
|Bacher keeps this; Crable(+1) is unblocked and nearly overruns this but manages to track him down for a loss.|
|M49||2||13||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||49||Zone read counter|
|I don't know what Michigan is doing here. They come out in a four-man line, then move around as if confused, eventually shifting into a three-man line much like the one they got gashed on earlier in the drive. We're stunting again, blitzing Chris Graham around the edge as NW pulls a tackle on a zone read counter. I believe John Ferrara(-1) is in the game getting blown off the ball as the lone NT against two blockers â€“ unsurprising â€“ and the stunting Graham gets picked off by the OT. Crable(-1) has run himself out of the play from his DE spot. Big hole. Brandent Englemon sits on the outside -- probably what Carr means by "maintaining leverage" and waits. When he collapses down he fails to tackle(-1). Jamar Adams(-2) overruns the play. Brandon Harrison(-1) overruns the play. It's a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 3 min 1st Q. Twice on this drive Michigan finds itself in second and long, lines up in a 3-3-5 with huge gaps between their defenders and personnel ill-suited to defend the run with Obi Ezeh the only linebacker actually playing linebacker, and gets burned. This drive is all on Ron English.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||13 + 15||Zone read boot|
|Sadly, this was going for big yardage either way. Crable(-1) gives up contain on Bacher, though I can't be too hard on him because if he had handed the ball off the only way this doesn't get to the safeties is if he tracks it down from the backside. Bacher, freed, goes zip. Weak, weak late hit on Englemon. Frickin' hate th
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Jailbreak screen|
|This comes paired with a fake RB screen to the other side. Think this is more a screwup by the NU OL than good play from us, but Ezeh(+1) manages to slice through a guy who overran his spot a bit and tackle for a small gain.|
|M32||2||6||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Fuzzy on this because of poor production that misses the start of the play. And as we come back Terrance Taylor is spinning off a guy around the LOS, forcing the RB into CGraham for a minimal gain. This was 3 or 4 if the guy runs N-S.|
|BGraham(+1) works his way to the QB and forces him to throw off his back foot. This allows Adams(+1) to close and get a PBU. (Pressure +1, cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG (48), 7-13, 14 min 2nd Q. Can't really blame the D too much here, since there was one first down and a questionable penalty.|
|Sigh. This is actually a great read and play by Brandon Harrison(+1) to jump in front of the slant. Unfortunately, he deflects the ball into the air and it's caught for a first down. 80% of the time this is an interception. (Cover +2)|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||3||Option shovel|
|NW shows a speed option and drags a TE across the formation. Crable forms up on the QB until the Bacher pitches it inside; closing after a moderate gain. (Crable +1)|
|O42||2||7||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read counter|
|Same play that went for the TD, this time against a straight nickel. It still finds a huge hole as Ezeh(-1) is late reading it.|
|O47||3||2||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||10||RB Flat|
|Depressingly wide open; we blitz Harrison from the weakside and leave the short zone opposite him completely open. (Cover -2) Why are we playing so soft on third and two?|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Horrible production focuses on Lloyd Carr instead of the play on the field and we get a blimp view of this play... hard to tell what happens. I think Taylor(+1) stones two guys to submarine it.|
|M42||2||9||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Out|
|Crable(+1) avoids a chop, forcing an immediate throw; Adams(+1) reads and attacks this, causing a drop. (Cover +1, pressure +1).|
|Will Johnson comes straight up the middle; Crable also applies pressure. Bacher's forced to chuck an out short of the sticks. Harrison(+1) is there for the immediate tackle. (Cover +1, pressure +1_|
|Drive Notes: Punt(!), 7-13, 9 min 2nd Q. Fourth and three from the thirty-six and you punt. We're bailed out by Fitzgerald's idiotic call. Finding a guy who will never do this is a top priority when it comes to a new coach. Fourth downs are the one thing Charlie Weis gets absolutely right.|
|I don't know if this is an intentional underthrow or what, but Trent has this locked down. Unfortunately, he does not adjust to the ball(-1), allows Lane to come back and grab it, and then has serious trouble tackling(-1). Poor play. (Cover -1)|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Taylor(+1) discards his guy; Adams has snuck up to the line before the snap and charges into the hole; the two of them converge at the LOS.|
|M36||2||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||7||Zone read keeper|
|CGraham(-2), unblocked, overruns this and turns it from no gain into a solid play and probably a first down but for Bacher tripping.|
|Adams is an extra guy in the box; we tighten up the coverage. Rush package in. Bacher throws a slant right to Trent, who intercepts (+2, cover +2).|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-13, 6 min 2nd Q. Trent redeems himself.|
|Attempted pump-fake draw like we saw from Penn State a lot. I guess the plan is for Taylor(+1) to chase it or something, as the center sort of discards him and the guard to that side pulls around. This leaves him all alone in the hole. He misses the tackle but Crable is free to finish the play.|
|Harrison lets Lane inside of him for the slant. (-1, cover -1)|
|Blitzing with man behind it; blitz is ill-timed. Warren in good position here but does not get his head around for an available play on the ball, but does force the receiver to stab his foot in while being harrassed and gets a hand on the ball as it comes in... just an excellent play from NW here. (+1, cover +1, pressure -1) Carr challenges this, which I thought was dumb at the time but have come around. More later.|
|Another one of NW's misdirection screens. Bacher pump fakes to the tailback who flails like the ball is coming, then comes back to their TE/H-back guy for a middle screen. Unfortunately for them, he's run into an OL and is not in position to receive the pass. Would have been a big gainer, probably, otherwise.|
|Pretty simple out against man coverage. Harrison beaten (-1, cover -1)|
|Bacher tosses this away, though I'm not sure why as he's got a couple guys looking open. First read was not, though, and pressure was coming. (Cover +1)|
|Michigan is not blitzing and this is not well executed and should be hit for a minimal gain, but Harri
son(-2) overruns this CGraham style.
|M16||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||-5||Zone read screwup|
|Bacher and Conteh bump into each other and Bacher ends up with the ball. He seems surprised by this. It does not end well for him.|
|NW decides to take a shot at the endzone. Warren(+1) and Adams(+1) are bracketing the WR; Bacher throws it away. (Cover +2)|
|M21||3||15||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||12||QB Draw|
|This is a give-up-and-kick playcall that's almost disastrous. Englemon manages to make the tackle; NW kicks.|
|Drive Notes: FG (29), EOH.|
|O9||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||11||Zone read handoff|
|Adams comes up to provide an extra man. Not sure who to blame here. Johnson drives his guy into the backfield so easily and so far that I think this might be rope-a-dope to open up a hole. Crable and CGraham close that hole, but Crable(-1) has given up outside contain and Conteh bounces it out for a major gain.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||5||Zone read handoff|
|More stunting as Taylor slides off onto a guard and CGraham blitzes into the other guard, who picks him up. Crease between Johnson and CGraham with no one behind it. Englemon(+1) makes an open field tackle... barely.|
|O25||2||5||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||9||Speed option|
|BGraham(-1) gives up outside contain, and there's no way CGraham can get off the block of a tackle who didn't even need to look at the DE. We had shifted our linebackers away from the playside here; our rock, their paper.|
|O34||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Nickel||Run||-2||Speed option|
|NW doesn't hurry to the line; Michigan takes the opportunity to get something on not guaranteed to bleed rushing yardage. This time CGraham(+1) is moving outside at the snap and the tackle can get out on him. Crable(+1) is less reckless, forcing the pitch but not taking himself out of the play. The two of them converge to tackle.|
|O32||2||12||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||13||Off tackle|
|Zone blitz! Stunting! Whee! Crable hops inside DE BGraham and gets clocked by the lead blocker. CGraham(-1) caught way too far inside and there's no linebacker support. This is like Appalachian State redux.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Out|
|Warren(+1) in excellent coverage(+1); Bacher doesn't find a second receiver and throws it away.|
|More stunting; this time miscommunication on the OL sends Renaldo Sagesse in unblocked. Bacher flushes from the pocket and just runs OOB for an unncessary loss. (Pressure +2, cover +1)|
|O43||3||12||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Cross|
|Both RBs run upfield and cross. This completely confuses CGraham(-2), who lets the guy in his zone run completely wide open for a sure first down and possibly a very big gain. Bacher throws it behind him. (Cover -3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-16, 9 min 3rd Q. We luck out like whoah. Chris Graham... arrrrgh.|
|Our splits are really improbably wide here. NW flings a little swing pass. Harrison(+1) does a good job tracking it down and tackling. (Cover +1)|
|O25||2||12||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Run||4||QB Draw|
|Again with the wide splits. Ezeh blitzes into this and gets cut but does fill the hole; Bacher bounces it through the other side. Jamison's hugely wide split has led to a rush upfield and there's a gap you could see coming before the snap. Johnson and Adams close him down after a moderate gain.|
|Warren(-2) lets this inside of him too easily. (Cover -2). We were blitzing late with Adams... what's the point? (Pressure -1)|
|No idea what happens on this play due to crappy production.|
|Bacher pumps and hesitates, apparently staring down Warren's(+1) guy. (Cover +1) Jamison(+2) comes around the end, harrassing Bacher but missing him; his own OL sacks him by running into him. (Pressure +1)|
|We send five as NW max-protects and picks it up. Bacher has time (pressure -2), finding Lane in front of Trent. Pretty good coverage by Trent.|
|Another misdirection screen that goes to their H-back TE guy. CGraham(+1) reads it and closes. It helps that the other RB fell down and could not block him.|
|M34||2||5||Shotgun Trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||-1||Zone read keeper|
|More stunting; Crable(+1) loops in from the outside, coming past the pulling tackle and hitting Bacher for a loss. Dangerous; if Crable doesn't make a good play here this is wide open.|
|Corner blitz causes Bacher to hurry a bit; he throws it behind a guy open for the first. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-16, 1 min 3rd Q. Fitzgerald bails us out with a terrible decision to punt yet again.|
|O1||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 4-3||Run||0||FB Dive|
|Taylor(+1) holds up against a double team.|
|O1||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Seam|
|Play action fake results in CGraham(-1) bite; Englemon(+2) comes up to dislodge the ball with a nice hit. (Cover +1) Graham injured.|
|O1||3||10||Ace||Base 4-3||Pass||20||Out and up|
|So stupid. It's third and ten, but it's from their one-yard-line so we load the box with eight guys and have a base set on third and long. Does it really matter if they run it out to the five? No. Anyway, they playfake it, we have eight guys within two yards of
the LOS three seconds after the snap, and Lane is wide open for the conversion. Awful coaching. (Cover -2.) Just because we would always run it and punt doesn't mean everyone else does.
|We miss this entire play. Whee big ten!|
|O23||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||0||Scramble|
|Bacher delays, first guy covered. (Cover +1) He sees a seam in the line and decides he'll run; Taylor(+1) grabs him as he passes and slows him up. Help comes.|
|O23||3||8||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||-7||Sack|
|BGraham(+3) beats his man plus a potential chip from the RB and swats the ball free from Bacher. Crable(+1) recovers. (Pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-16, 10 min 4th Q.|
|Obviously some sort of three-step drop as two guys go for cut blocks. Crable(+1) avoids his and starts baring down. Bacher throws it to a covered guy on a stop route. Harrison(+1, cover +1) there.|
|O34||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read counter|
|Michigan fortuanate this doesn't go for more. Logan(-1) fails to read this and is in no position to stop the ball; Taylor(+1) reaches out and gets a hand on the RB's leg to tackle.|
|Adams a seventh man in the box. We play soft on the corners and they take the easy out. (Cover -2)|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||3||Zone read handoff|
|Tim Jamison(+1) beats his blocker and grabs the RB's leg in the backfield.|
|Despite the completion, tough to blame Harrison, who was in tight coverage and made this a difficult throw and catch. (Cover +1) No plus because he failed to tackle. Ah, no, on replay he gets a +1 anyway.|
|Harrison threatens blitz, backs off, and then comes at the snap. The OT does not get out on him and, because this is on the blindside, Bacher does not sidestep him. The ball is ejected as Harrison impacts him; Jamison comes down with it and starts running. (+1 Harrison, +1 Jamison, +3 pressure)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-16, 7 min 4th Q. This is probably Harrison's best game of his career.|
|Bacher wings it wide. Warren(+1, cover +1) all over it.|
|Bacher pumps but decides his guy is covered(+1); Crable(+1) charges through at the same time, disrupting his timing and perhaps contributing to that decision. Bacher rolls out and is collapsed on after a short gain. (Pressure +1)|
|Behind his guy on a crossing route that Logan was going to shut down before the sticks(+1 cover); tipped to Ezeh; interception.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-16, 5 min 4th Q.|
|Patterson(+1) and BGraham(+2) both shred their blockers and come up on Bacher before these deep-ish routes can come to fruition. No chance. (Pressure +2)|
|Miss the entire play.|
|Jamison(+1) discards his guy, as does Crable(+2); Crable gets to Bacher first and does a sack/strip. (Pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 28-16, 4 min 4th Q.|
Aiigh 300 yard first half burn!
We should really look at the chart.
Chchart it is.
|Taylor||9||-||9||Really effective when permitted to drive NW blockers directly backward, but asked to stunt often.|
|Ferrara||-||1||-1||Not really his fault, but he was a major issue on the long touchdown run.|
|Crable||12||4||8||Yeah, five TFLs and a FF and a FR and all that gets you a nice score.|
|B. Graham||8||2||6||Another strong game.|
|Ezeh||1||2||-1||Seemed like a major dropoff to some, but I don't think he's that responsible for any of NW's gashing runs. Sold out by the scheme, he was.|
|C. Graham||4||6||-2||Bailed out by Bacher a couple times.|
|Trent||4||1||3||Quietly pretty solid this year.|
|Harrison||5||5||0||Ok, so it grades out as a zero. But -3 went to him for screwing up running plays. (+1 was for the blindside sack.) His coverage was 4-2-+2, and he jumped a lot of little slant routes. Usually when someone gets targeted a lot he's|
|Warren||5||2||3||Big bounce-back day.|
|Adams||4||2||2||Major culprit on the long run.|
|"Pressure"||17||6||11||Again, a large portion of the positive here came towards the end of the game when Northwestern had to pass.|
|"Coverage"||24||18||6||Any positive coverage number is a very good job; this was a fine performance from the secondary.|
Are you high? We gave up 300 first half yards to a team that lost to Duke and ran for six inches against Ohio State and you hand out pluses like it's ecstasy at a rave?
Uh. Right, this was my impression as things progressed: "why are all these numbers so high?" It's like I'm suddenly dependent on assistant coaches for the information I receive. Some possible explanations:
- 64 of Northwestern's yards (ok, 56, we can give them an eight-yard out there) came on that fluky he's-down-no-he-isn't opening play. I didn't assign blame here.
- Michigan came out in this funky 3-3-5 that was not what reader DanK suggested in that guest post about slowing down the spread running attack. (More on this later.) Then they stunted out of this thing; several times when they did this Northwestern played paper (hey, no fair!) and Michigan was screwed from the snap. Several gashing runs have no minuses, the occasional five-yarder has a plus, etc. This is a sign you got outcoached. Maybe I should start tracking some RPS stats. I should.
- The D forced five turnovers. This tends to inflate numbers.
- Bacher had a weird day where he was either throwing something horribly behind his intended receiver or feathering a beauty sideline pass. A couple completions actually came coupled with pluses: the slant Harrison jumped that he deflected to a Wildcat, the sideline completion against Warren that was hugely difficult for both WR and QB, a few short throws that were snuffed out immediately upon the catch.
So... yeah. I think the defensive line and secondary both had excellent days. The linebackers, no so much, but whatever.
Speaking of that sideline completion late in the first half...
Right, we challenged it, and I'm totally on board with that.
The addition of the challenge has been mostly superfluous in college. Since every play is reviewed (and referees have apparently taken to standing over the ball waiting for the booth to get a look after potentially controversial game-changing plays, a change I am totally in favor of) anyway, the coaches' challenge usually sits unloved on the sideline, deployed as often as Notre Dame scores a touchdown. I believe this is the first time that Michigan has ever deployed a challenge, and it was a good use of the resource. 1) We were highly unlikely to use it in the second half. See the previous couple sentences. 2) We didn't need the timeout for anything else. 3) It was a close play.
So what about this 3-3-5 thing?
That was ugly, especially since this space ran (and endorsed) a guest post claiming that a 3-3-5 would be a more effective run defense against the spread option that shredded us so in the first couple games. A recap: since defensive ends usually run themselves upfield in a 4-2, you're asking both DTs to have two-gap responsibility. This is kind of tough. A formation like this:
...this is a snapshot from the 49-yard touchdown run. Note the splits between the DT and the DEs. In our diagram above, the DEs are lined up between the guard and tackle. This is 3-technique (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong). Here the DEs are lined up outside of the tackles, which is 5-technique. This is basically a 4-2 with one DT lined up over the center. Also one of the DEs is Shawn Crable and the DT is John Ferrara (I think). This is not what is suggested above. We stunt off this, slanting Crable inside and looping Graham around...
...and from there Jamar Adams misses a tackle and he's off. This was the most disastrous instance, but several other times we lined up in this on second and long and got burned by it. You can't have one guy between the tackles and expect to defend anyone's run game.
Yeah, what is the deal with all the stunting and looping and stuff?
I don't know. It seems too cute, especially on downs the offense can run against. We did this frequently against Appalachian State and paid for it. (Oregon, I believe, was more conventional but against a really fantastic trio of runners.) Meanwhile, whenever Taylor is in the game he's playing Gabe Watson and driving someone's ass into Bacher. Like... line up and out-execute them.
You did not just say that.
Well... I was being sort of ironic. What I don't like from the defense is its slight case of Weis-itis. The 3-3-5 with canyon splits on second and long. The third and ten from NW's one on which we assumed they would run and gave up a long conversion. The stunting around an Appalachian State line that should have spent the day eating Taylor's facemask five yards in the backfield.
There is one aspect of this I do like: when Michigan has gotten its opponents in situations that have no threat of a run, they have been deadly. See either NW drive where they trailed late, the final PSU drive, and the entire Notre Dame game. When permitted to tee off on an opponent that can't threaten a run, Crable and Jamison and BGraham have been dominant, often because of the stunting.
My problem with the defensive playcalling is game theory based. Sev
eral times in this game Michigan put Northwestern in a second and long. In this situation you want to lower variance, since most second and longs result in a punt. Michigan frequently deployed that 3-3-5 with huge splits and stunted; this is a high variance strategy that either results in an unblocked guy or two or a gaping hole. Similarly, on third and ten from the one you want a low-variance play call that results in fourth down from the one or the five or the nine... just fourth down. Instead, Michigan puts eight in the box and bites on play action, leaving Ross Lane open for a twenty-yard conversion.
(Note that you want to avoid predictability here, too, so the occasional unexpected/"wrong" sort of call is okay. No one call can be wrong, like no one raise can be wrong in poker, but over time exploitable patterns emerge.)
Adams was the big culprit on the long touchdown run. As per usual, Michigan got little production from the linebackers. Chris Graham is an opponent big play waiting to happen.
Crable, obviously, but also Taylor -- finally as dominant as we expected -- and Harrison. I thought the coverage in the secondary was very good all around; hopefully that signals improvement and not merely "we played Northwestern."
What does it mean for Eastern or, more likely, Purdue?
We will get an immediate check to see whether or not the secondary is actually getting better with the Boilers rolling into town. They're like an upgraded version of Northwestern: scatter-shot QB in a spread offense that's more pass than run. Except Purdue has a better RB with Sutton out, way better receivers, and probably a better offensive line. We'll know lots more after this weekend versus Ohio State.
sorry about the video; had to do it myself this week and it's taken directly from a 480x480 source, so the aspect ratio is a little wonky. if you're viewing in a good player you can change it to 4:3.
|Kickoff OOB. Holy crap, Kraus(-2) just gets his ass kicked by John Gill. He's driven yards into the backfield, directly into Hart's path, and Gill makes the TFL. Awful. Eight in the box. Maybe Gill sort of knew we were going to run zone left because that's what we always do?|
|M35||2||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||Inc||Manningham||Slip Screen|
|"Zac Cuillo" is not our left guard. NW giving our wideouts 12-yard cushions, so we go with the slip screen. Logical enough. Henne throws it in front of Manningham and a bit too hard. It's dropped. (IN, 2)|
|M35||3||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||Pass||15||Arrington||Deep out|
|The 15-yard out that you need a gun for, unless you're playing Northwestern. This is looped out a bit, but to a wide open Arrington. He makes a tough-ish diving catch. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|50||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|Eight in the box with man on the outside and a single deep safety. Let's run. Ok! Zone block from Schilling and MacAvoy does not go well; MacAvoy(-1) blown back a bit and Schilling(-1) late getting out on the linebacker, so he's right in the hole. Hart bounces it outside, where Massey's guy is set up; he tackles for loss.|
|Manningham comes in motion and runs like a five yard stop. There is no Wildcat within five yards of him as he catches the ball and he heads upfield for the first down. Could not be easier. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Same exact play flipped to the other side of the field. I love it when opposing linebackers step forward at the snap without so much as a play action fake. Anyway, Manningham hit on the stop again. Coverage is a little tighter this time but not much. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||2||2||Ace 3||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|Seven in the box as a strongside corner is clearly coming on a run blitz. Michigan runs away from it. I'm not sure what the play design is here but I think Gill crashes into Boren, preventing him from doubling the other DT. So no zone block and thus an unblocked linebacker. Hart stuffed for nothing.|
|Pretty open, this play. Henne throws it a little too far downfield and Manningham sort of short arms it. (CA-, 2, protection 2/2). Only six in the box this time.|
|O30||4||3||Shotgun 3-Wide||Pass||1 (15)||Manningham||Cross|
|Press man from NW. MacAvoy(-1) beaten, forcing Henne to get rid of the ball before he might like to. He hits Manningham on one of those hideous little crossing routes that's a yard past the LOS; he's tackled immediately. (CA, 3, protection 1/2) Fortunate penalty bails us out.|
|O15||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Safety runs up to the line to give an eight-man look late. He ends up shooting into the frontside gap; Hart cuts back. There is actually some room here but Schilling(-1) has merely escorted his man down the line; he tackles.|
|Fake to Arrington and then come back to the other side for the long handoff. Deante Battle just screws this up, allowing Manningham to waltz in unimpeded. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 9 min 1st Q. Goodbye, passes.|
|M42||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||1||Hart||Zone left|
|NW shows zone; a simple combo route on between Arrington and Manningham where Arrington runs a five-yard out and Manningham just runs a fly would be guaranteed to get one open. Instead: run into quasi-eight guys. The safeties attack at the snap; Boren(-1) gets driven into the backfield; Long(-1) gets pushed back a yard; Butler(-1) can't block his man either.|
|M43||2||9||Ace Twins||Run||3||Hart||Zone right|
|Zone again; safety comes up into the box. A play very similar to those against Penn State where the DT goes behind Boren in an attempt to get penetration. This time Hahn dives at Hart's feet but can't reach him. MacAvoy(-1) loses his guy on the second level and he holds this down to a minimal gain despite the vacant area that could be a big gainer.|
|Three wideouts bunched tight to one side. Northwestern sends six guys, then drops one man right into the crossing route we always run. Mallett scrambles up into the pocket, finds an open Arrington, and fires it well behind him. A tough IN to hand out, but... (IN, 1, protection 2/3, team -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 7 min 1st Q. What is going on? Our OL is getting its ass kicked by Northwestern. Is this an S&C problem or just the fact that we're predictable as hell? Meanwhile, this drive is what people are talking about when they accuse the offensive staff of putting Mallett in a position to fail. On first down Mallett had the easiest read in the world as Michigan could have put two guys in a space one Wildcat was trying to cover because they were overcommitting to the run; they run anyway. Then they end up in third and medium and Northwestern sends a blitz that puts Mallett in a tough spot. The best way to protect a young QB is to give him easy throws; Michigan eschews this for predictable ones.|
|M23||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||4||Hart||Zone right|
|Hart misreads; the outside is wide open as the OLB seals himself against Butler. He takes it up inside into a decent hole but since Hart has misread the zone block â€“ Schilling leapt out on the LB and is on the outside of him â€“ that guy can disconnect and tackle. One thing: NW is showing zone here and the safety nominally covering Arrington is actually running forward at the snap to cut off the outside. This might not be as open as it looks if Arrington can get a seal... and God, are you kidding me? Arrington runs a post and this is a 76 yard touchdown. Arrgh.|
|Unbelievable! It's second and six, a potential running down, against a team that is selling out against us. We spread the field a
nd offset Hart, a formation we have never ever run from. It's like we're playing with a handicap. (-ed offensive coordinator.) We run four short routes; Hart(-1) doesn't cut his guy and he leaps to bat it down. (BA, 0, protection 0/1)
|We have a new habit I haven't mentioned: we line up in a four wide and then always motion in Massey to a more conventional TE spot. Kraus(-2) lets Gill right by him and Mallett is sacked. Awful. (PR, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 2 min 1st Q. WTF is wrong with Kraus?|
|M20||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||11||Hart||Zone right|
|NW in a 3-front with four LBs, and a couple DBs creeping towards the LOS. Not quite a nine man front, but not far from one. Again a zone combo route on the near side of the field has to leave one guy open. We run it anyway. This time it works. Three man lines... not so good this game. The DE runs out to the frontside in an attempt to keep contain and is isolated. Boren(+1) gets across the DT and Kraus helps drive him downfield. MacAvoy(+1) gets his second level block and Hart has space. Bet a dollar we don't see a three man line on a run down from NW the rest of the day.|
|M31||1||10||I-Form||Run||-10 (pen)||Hart||Zone left|
|NW undershifted with a linebacker over the TE; we shuffle and run to from it. Kraus(+1) gets a goot cut on the backside DT. MacAvoy has trouble with his guy but Moundros(+1) blasts him back, allowing Hart a seam between that an Schilling's(+1) block on the DE. Boren's downfield block on the LB and Manningham's job on the WR give Hart a lot of room. Aaaand holding. On MacAvoy(-1) and it's relevant to the play. Sigh.|
|A screen on first and twenty, with one blocker, Kraus. Northwestern swarms it. (CA, 3) The announcers think "population" is a tough word to know.|
|M25||2||16||I-Form 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Massey||TE stop|
|Massey spread out as a reciever; he's open for 10-12; Mallett overthrows him. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|A zone blitz that sees a NW DE drop 10 yards downfield, right into the path of an Arrington crossing route. Which is where Mallett goes. Sigh. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-13, 12 min 2nd Q.|
|Seven in the box but both safeties charge forward at the snap as the corners bail out into deep please-don't-bomb-me coverage. Moundros goes for a block on the backside DT, who wasn't cut that effectively by MacAvoy. Boren goes out to the second level but because of the charging safety has two players to deal with; they set up on either side of them and Hart slams it up the middle for a few yards.|
|3-4 look from NW. MacAvoy(-1) escorts his man to the hole; Hart has to leap into a mess of bodies.|
|It's really depressing to watch NW get up in our grill on third and short-ish when we played really soft on a third down just before. Anyway, Arrington runs a circle route right into coverage when our traditional cross was going to be wide open. I think these are option routes and this is on Arrington. The ball was catchable if Arrington wasn't double-teamed but also not going for a first down. I love routes short of the sticks! You think maybe NW can get away with this because they know Michigan will run three yard routes on third and four and not attempt to pick up a big chunk of yards? (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-13, 8 min 2nd Q. Oops let's punt.|
|M22||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|Also depressing: this is against six-ish guys in the box, but Boren(-1) gets plowed into the backfield and MacAvoy(-1) can't seal the DE, leaving Hart to cut back into unblocked guys. He makes two of them miss, turning this from two to five.|
|FB shuffle; we throw. Arrington drives off the DB and gets his hips turned, then runs a simple out. Wide open for a chunk. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Northwestern blitzes; picked up. Mallett pumps and lets one fly downfield to Manningham at the sidelines. He manages to get a foot in, then re-clutches the ball. Very close. (DO, 1, protection 3/3)|
|O32||1||10||Ace Twins||Pass||7||Manningham||Slip Screen|
|Breaston's old play, as Michigan finally takes advantage of having a linebacker lined up over Manningham. Arrington's block on the corner is kind of crappy, but it still picks up seven. (CA, 3) Mallett fumbles the snap, by the way.|
|O25||2||3||Ace Twins||Run||-2||Hart||Zone left|
|Yet another instance of defensive tackles shooting into the backfield against our guards. This time both Kraus(-2) and MacAvoy(-2) get shoved way into the backfield. Hart has absolutely no chance.|
|O27||3||5||I-Form 3-wide||Pass||11||Arrington||Deep out|
|Another zone blitz. Moundros has trouble picking up a blitzer so Hart has to help out. This leaves no one to help when Schilling(-1) loses his guy on a spin move. Mallett rolls out, stiffarms away a sack, and finds Arrington for the first down. (DO, 3, protection 2/3)|
|Thrown at his feet. (IN, 0)|
|Butler gets open for a seven-eight yard gain plus perhaps some YAC; Mallett throws behind and hard. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|Another zone blitz. Hart cuts his guy, who goes flying over him and threatens to get up. This convinces
Mallett to scramble out. This time he runs despite having Arrington open running across the back of the endzone, picking up a few. (TA, protection 2/3, Hart -1)
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(29), 7-13, 2 min 2nd Q. Is it any coincidence that Mallett's most successful drive â€“ and the only one on that lasted more than four plays â€“ features a bunch of throws on non-obvious passing downs?|
|Henne's back. The simple out that the coverage has been begging for all day. It's wide open.(CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Basically the same thing, but a shorter route with the terrified three-deep of NW literally 12 yards away as Manningham hauls it in. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Should not have been thrown, as the DB is still in his panicked cover-three and has great position on Manningham. This could be intercepted; Manningham and the DB fight for the ball; it finally pops free for the incomplete. (BR, 1, protection 3/3) Nice blitz pickup from Long. Actually, on replay I think Manningham caught this. Why no review?|
|M49||2||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||Run||9||Hart||Lead draw|
|NW with six in the box and safeties respecting the deep pass. We have Massey in the kinda-TE-kinda-FB spot we deploy occasionally; he's used as a lead blocker. He screws it up(-1), getting shoved back and away by the only guy who can prevent this from being a 15-yard gain. Hart's shirt is grabbed, he powers through the tackle attempt and nears the first down.|
|Tampa-two from NW (== MLB flying back at the snap to occupy a deep middle zone); Mathews drags across the zone and Henne lays it in a small window caused by Arrington's route. Perfect timing required. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Not a zone L/R but nothing I can identify either. Long sets up to pass block. Both DTs slant past their guys (Boren -1, MacAvoy -1), and an unblocked corner blitz means there are three guys in the backfield. Anyone who can advise me as to what the goal of this play is? (BTW, Hart miraculously turns this into a yard gain.)|
|Butler lines up at FB, then motions out to TE. The reasons behind this shift are mystifying. NW runs a linebacker out to the little flat route Manningham caught earlier on the drive; Henne does not pick this up and throws it to a covered Manningham. LB breaks it up. Should have come down to Mathews on a crossing route for 6-8-ish. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Yet another zone blitz. Henne throws it behind an open Mathews on a cross that may or may not have picked up the first down (note for potential complainers about routes short of the first down: at this spot on the field I don't mind this on the assumption that picking up 7-8 sets you up to go for it on fourth down.) I can't really tell but I think Henne's arm is hit as he throws, causing the inaccurate throw. (BA, 1, protection 1/2, Long -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-16, 12 min 3rd Q. Zoltan drops it at the eight, where it's fair caught. He has really been excellent this year.|
|Boren(-2) owned by Gill again. WTF is going on? Hart shakes a couple tacklers and tries the other side of the field; no gain. I don't understand how NW is getting PSU-level penetration against us.|
|FB shuffle; we throw. NW runs a linebacker into that same flat zone designed to eliminate the little stop route; Michigan runs an out behind it and Henne floats it in over the LB's head. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Arrington, Manningham, and Mathews all to one side of the field; we toss a little screen out there. NW is not surprised by this and gets a safety up immediately but he comes up too hard and Manningham runs around him, cutting inside Butler for a decent gain. (CA, 3) NW had a linebacker out covering Mathews... they were expecting something like this. Mathews still blocked him out of the play, but you know predictability and all that.|
|M42||2||4||Ace 3-wide||Run||18||Hart||Zone right|
|Gill again in the backfield, this time working on Kraus(-1). With Henne in NW is backing off and only has six in the box here. So when Hart sidesteps around the DT everyone near the LOS is dealing with a blocker. Massey picked up the DE after Long had him initially; Long out on the second level with Boren. Hart is into the secondary.|
|NW zone-blitzing, dropping a DE off into a flat zone over Arrington. Michigan picks it up and Henne has options everywhere. He takes Arrington, as his corner is in a cover three and has turned his hips; Arrington ducks inside on a post and Henne hits him with perfect timing. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)|
|O17||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||1||Hart||Zone right|
|Again a DT into the backfield, this time on MacVoy(-2). Hart is forced to cut behind him into unblocked players when the outside was going to be open for a nice gain.|
|This is not a good time to try this as NW is in the three man line that got them burned in the first half. The backside linebacker just drops off into a short zone and is in perfect position when Manningham comes around. The DE had lost contain, so this would have been a good gainer otherwise.|
|Butler shift from FB to TE. Mathews comes on the crossing route and has just enough room to burrow for the first. (CA, 3 protection 2/2)|
|No penetration, but no holes either. I can't make much sense of this.|
|O5||2||G||Ace 3-wide||Pass||5||Butler||TE Out|
|Manningham drawing attention on a flag route; a guy in NW's picket fence zone hops back a second in case it's a post. Henne takes the opportunity to toss it to Butler, who makes it in. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-16, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|M6||1||10||Ace Twins||Pass||3||Manningham||Slip Screen|
|NW expecting this; a LB and safety get out on it immediately. (CA, 3) Martin calls it a bubble screen? Terminology check?|
|Simple throw to a wide open guy against NW's three-deep. Henne throws it quick enough to give Manningham an opportunity to turn it upfield. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|NW stacks the box; this throw is a little behind Arrington and slows him down a bit. Two NW guys converge. (CA-, 3)|
|M30||2||6||Ace 3-wide||Penalty||-5||Schilling||False start|
|Hart offset. NW drops a DT off right into Manningham's crossing route, who bumps him and disrupts the timing of the play. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Definitely open for the first; Henne makes this tough for Mathews by throwing it a little outside. He manages to stretch the ball out and get it, barely. (CA-, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Moundros(-2) is plowed over by a Northwestern blitzer, who falls at Henne's feet and causes this ball to sail. Arrington hit before the ball gets there, but no call... they haven't seen Adrian leap, I guess. (very harsh IN, 0, protection 1/3, Moundros -2)|
|3-4 look for NW. Safety walks up for an extra guy. Hart decides not to follow the fullback, cutting it back into Gill, who's stalemated and controlled Kraus(-1).|
|Henne has plenty of time; we max protect. Arrington is covered; Manningham bracketed. The only guy left is Mathews on a crossing route that's pretty well covered. Henne throws it wide. (IN, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-16, 13 min 4th Q. Mesko uses MIND BULLETS to make Ward fumble is 50+ yard punt.|
|Boren(-2) owned again. Hart has to deal with a guy in the backfield immediately. Long and Butler give him no options on the frontside.|
|Second and ten and we have one wideout in the game. Uh... okay. Henne can't find anyone and steps up past the pressure. As he does this, Gill sticks out his leg and trips him. Isn't that a penalty? Henne flips it in the general direction of Hart but just to prevent a loss. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|A dart between two defenders reminiscent of the Penn State stuff from last year. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-16, 9 min 4th Q. We take timeout... then kick an extra point. Woo.|
|Run blitz from the NW linebacker gets him in between the backside guard and tackle before anyone can react. He grabs Hart in the backfield and is dragged for a couple yards.|
|Or at least it was going to be. Henne fumbles the snap.|
|Sailed; Arrington wide open for the TD otherwise. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 6 min 4th Q.|
|Hart heads outside but the safety is coming up Hart and makes it to the corner just as Hart reaches it.|
|Nowhere to go at all; Hart decides to cut back behind the charging end. Ok. Now there's a corner coming at him; he induces him to overpursue and slip to the turf. Then he's into the secondary and down to the one.|
|O1||1||G||Goal line||Goal line||1||Hart||Zone left|
|Key block is MacAvoy(+1) cutting the backside DE, allowing Hart space when he cuts behind a meh Kraus effort. Good job by Boren, too.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-16, 4 min 4th Q. Ballgame.|
|This is a situation in which it makes sense to pound the ball and try to pick up a first down along the way, so I'm ok with it. The difference between a one score lead here and a two score lead is large.|
|Lather, rinse, repeat.|
|Looks like Mathews will be stopped short here; he pulls a Breaston-vs-Oregon, except in slo-mo, and picks up the first. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Manages to slip through a crack past two NW defenders and squeezes into the second level despite it being stacked up.|
|Yeah... that stacked up thing.|
|Drive Notes: EOG, 28-16.|
Can you express my seething rage via the medium of embeddable flash video?
Can you express my seething rage in a numerical fashion?
- Average yards on first down passes: 8.7.
- Average yards on first down runs: 1.6.
- Number of first down passes: 14.
- Number of first down runs: 16.
(Note that a holding penalty against Tim MacAvoy was counted against the runs; remove that and the average skyrockets to 2.4. The last drive was not included in these numbers; they are not distorted by time considerations.) For the record, Mallett's average yards on first down: 10.5.
So is Mike Debord retarded or what?
Basically. Mallett's one successful drive was the one in which they gave him multiple shots at testing the Northwestern secondary. The thing about Mallett's performance so far is that, while it's not good, he will blow a down doing general freshman things and then do something badass. If you run it for four yards the first two downs, his freshman down means punt. If you give him some margin for error against possibly the worst secondary on the planet, he moves the team. Not as effectively or efficiently as Henne, but better than one first down in four drives.
But the most frustrating thing is that Debord has shown the ability to be at least average and maybe even good at his job. Against Penn State last year we opened up with something like 17 of 21 passes. Against OSU our first drive was a beautifully executed touchdown march; we broke out a couple of successful Arrington wheel routes; we scored 39 points. There is a clear indication that when Debord/Carr/Michigan respects and fears an opponent we get the full toolkit. When we don't we get the first half against Northwestern. And usually this leads to a win. But the arrogance behind the strategy was a major reason for The Horror ending up a loss instead of an uncomfortably close game we win 45-34. And as they say, we must Never Forget. Whenever you see someone wearing an Appalachian State shirt, think back to our two-deep zone against a team we didn't even bother to scout. Think back to Hart riding a bike through most of the second and third quarters. All vestiges of the mentality that permitted The Horror must be seen for what they are and purged.
This game could easily have become The Horror II; no forgiveness is offered to the coaching staff that learned nothing from the most humiliating loss in NCAA history.
Why are we so predictable?
This is not noted above, but the return of Laterryal Savoy has also brought with it the return of the Jermaine Gonzalez/Carl Tabb Memorial Wide Nonreceiver Package. Several times in the game Michigan lifted the actual receivers for Savoy and Hemingway. Every time this was a run. There is, of course, the run left on every starting play of every game. There is the mindboggling decision to offset Mike Hart on second and six on Mallett's second drive. We're running except when we have no other option, it's a potential run down, and we come out and tell them we're passing. We spit on you, deception.
A quick review of the plays above should reveal one startling thing: the letters "PA" appear nowhere. Michigan ran play action zero times. (They attempted to run a waggle once; Henne fumbled the snap.) Hell, we ran exactly one misdirection play, an end-around to Manningham, the entire game. Whenever our offensive line starts moving to one side or the other, defenders can sell out to stop a zone play and be right 95% of the time.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Some of it is truly the coaches being arrogant/stupid/whatever, like the WR package thing. There is no possible justification for it. Other things appear to be systemic flaws in the zone running game we've adopted. For whatever reason, the only play action we can run off of it is the waggle, which exposes the quarterback to a charging defensive end and is ill-suited for deep balls, at least as it is currently conceived. And our counter options are limited, I guess, though we do have a couple that just aren't being deployed. But the primary motivation goes back to Bo. This is the mentality of the program:
"Now I have to admit â€“ since I'm being as honest as I can be here â€“ there was a time when I doubted if fundamentals were still enough to produce top-notch football teams. I even wondered if the game had passed me by.
This crisis of confidence occurred after our infamous 1984 season, when we finished 6-6. In the off-season I went to one of these national coaching conferences with a few hundred other coaches, and they had some hotshot young high school coach from California explain his new whiz-bang system of defense.
He had zones two deep, three deep, man-to-man, and combinations of the two. That really caught my eye. I'm thinking, Maybe you've got to do all those things to win these days. Maybe our approach at Michigan is just too simple too succeed in the modern eara. Boy, that was an awful feeling.
But after this guys finishes his slide show, someone in the audience raises his hand asks, "If your defensive schemes are so great, then why did your team give up 400 yards a game last season?"
Well I wanted to hear this! The hotshot replied â€“ and I will never forgot this â€“ "We were just a poor tackling team."
Well, hell! That tells you all you need to know! Throw out 50 percent of that fancy stuff and spend fifeeen more minutes every day practicing the most basic thing in football: TACKLING, that's all...I walked out of that auditorium and I knew what were going to do: Get back to basics! Get back to Michigan football! And I was determined we were going to do it better than anyone else...
Want the whole thing in a nutshell? Just talk to Bubba Paris. It's midseason, 1981, we're ranked sixth in the nation and we're playing an unranked Michigan State squad. We're ahead maybe 14-0, and we drive down the field again, bang, bang, bang â€“ until we're looking at first-and-goal on their three-yard line.
We get in the huddle and call our play â€“ but Smiley Creswell, State's defensive tackle, thinks he's got our signals figured out, so he starts yelling to his teammates "Off-tackle right! Off-tackle right!"
Now, on this 1981 team we have a front line of Ed Muransky, Kurt Becker, George Lilja, and Bubba Paris â€“ every one of them an All-American. This is not a line you want to be messing with. Bubba hears all this commotion coming from the Spartans, but he just saunters up to the line as only Bubba could do â€“ he was 6-5, 310 â€“ and calmly gets down in his stance. Then he looks across the line at Smiley Creswell and says, "That's right. It's an off-tackle play. It's coming right over you. And there's nothing you can do about it."
Three seconds later Bubba flattens Creswell. Our tailback just walks through the hole Bubba made, and he's in the Spartan end zone, untouched
, handing the ball to the referee, Michigan-style. Touchdown!
We didn't fool 'em. We just beat em!
Now that is execution! That is confidence! THAT IS MICHIGAN FOOTBALL."
That's from Bo's Lasting Lessons, and it definitely worked in 1969 and 1979 and 1985. Obviously, it no longer does in an era of 85 scholarships and transfers and the increased profile and desire to win across the country. No longer can Michigan expect to out-work and out-execute its foes without getting any help from the men calling the plays.
|Oregon - Henne||1||13||6||3||1||0||3|
|Oregon - Mallett||3||7||2||3||1||1||2|
|ND - Mallett||2||7||4||1||0||2||0|
|PSU - Mallett||3||12||6||3||6||1||2|
|NW - Mallett||2||5||4||1||1||1||1|
|NW - Henne||1||19||4||1||1||1||0|
(Legend for this one.)
Henne outperformed the freshman, as you might expect. But the thing is to look at the negative categories forced by the opponent: just seven instances against 35 plays that the NW defense did not seriously impact. Compare that to Penn State: 12 instances against 21 other plays. Clearly, the NW pass defense is way behind just about everyone on the schedule, and there's no reason the coaching staff wouldn't see that coming -- see the Duke QB's numbers -- and no reason not to start off exploiting the big flashing weakness, especially when NW was loading up against the run.
- 0 == totally uncatchable.
- 1 == very difficult catch requiring circus-like propeties.
- 2 == tough but makable
- 3 == routine.
Another fine day for the receivers. I am thinking about softening my expectations here, since it doesn't make much sense to have one category that's "impossible to catch" and another that is being caught at a 4% rate.
Aaand Genuinely Sarcastic has your Hart Chart. Not nearly as negative as I thought it would be, though it grades out at a +3 overall, down from +14 against Penn State. It does reflect my opinions of Boren (second straight tough game) and Massey (can't block).
Henne. QB controversy that did not exist in the first place is over. And Manningham had an excellent day that should have put those "he's a sulky baby" rumors to rest, except now he's suspended for EMU. w00t.
Boren has an excuse as a first year starter. MacAvoy has an excuse as the third-string right guard. But how can Adam Kraus justify getting his ass kicked all day by Northwestern defensive tackles? The interior OL was awful all day against a NW defense that has been sliced like ginsu. Our penetration problems can no longer be chalked up to Penn State being this run-stopping machine. (By the way, Illinois had 216 yards rushing against Penn State despite having the infinite suck of Juice Williams as their quarterback.)
Oh, and whoever thought spending the entire first half running into the line against the nation's 114th-ranked pass efficiency defense was a good idea. Hmmmmm.
What does it mean for Eastern or, more likely, Purdue?
Purdue's defense might be totally horrendous, but it m
ight just be prone to packing it in with seemingly safe leads in the second half. Purdue led Minnesota 24-3 at the half and 38-17 after three quarters and ceded two meaningless fourth quarter touchdowns; the Boilers were up 23-0 on ND before letting the Irish back into the game, or at least as "back into the game" a team as bad as Notre Dame can be. The preseason prognostication on this team was much better against the pass, crappy linebackers, and wildcard defensive line... initial returns should be downgraded a bit. We'll see what happens against Ohio State. Henne's back and the full playbook should be available.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Chaos! After a week in which the only real movement was Penn State taking the pipe, all hell breaks loose. Most teams move up by default after a wide array of ranked teams bite it at the hands of the unranked; one shining(?) exception is South Florida, up ten after a Friday-night turnover blizzard against West Virginia and Auburn's last-second field goal against Florida. The Bulls now sit #5; SMQB stews. (`And omits BC entirely due to oversight.)
Voters were kind to Oregon, six inches and one erstwhile five-star recruit's hands away from overtime against Cal, and Florida -- relatively -- while being vicious towards Texas, Clemson, and Rutgers.
Two notes: South Carolina is now pegged a spot in front of Georgia, which makes me ever so skippily happy, and LSU's margin over USC is now truly prodigious, which strikes me as odd since LSU was leading by, like, one at the half against Tulane and Washington's flukily close game against USC featured in Life on the Margins this week.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- Your three Cal enthusiasts: Card Chronicle, Buckeye Commentary, and Frank McGrath.
- The House Rock built is unnaturally positive about Clemson at #12.
- Uh. Crap. MGoBlog is a huge outlier for Florida State, ranking them #13; the most enthusiastic voters other than that idiot say #17.
- Jonathan Tu is currently touring the country at 82 Sluggo Win; he must be banking on the Zooker scoring him some babes: Illinois #16. Vote redacted. (Not actually.)
On second thought, retract the accusations of babe-trolling. Mr. Tu is doing just fine.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
This week's Mr. Bold. is Saurian Sagacity; their ballot is just plain weird. As mentioned, they drop USC to #7 while shooting struggling (but barely winning) Wisconsin up to #4; BC moves ahead of the Trojans after two uninspiring weeks against Army and UMass. Hawaii is #12, Purdue #13, UConn #14. Florida plummets to #21, Oklahoma #22. Go figure.
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 guided another team to a painful loss this week, as Michigan State went down 37-34 to Wisconsin. Perhaps this is not painful enough for you? The award's hatred was probably still focused on Jou
rno Rock, who you will remember called out the award after winning it two weeks ago, promptly was subjected to an overtime loss, and then went out the next week and finished second. Alabama lost to Florida State; Journo Rock does not appear on this week's list.
Next up? The Enlightened Spartan is back again, ranking MSU #20. This does not qualify as totally awful and next week the Spartans get Northwestern, so the award's streak of inflicting pain on its winners may come to a temporary halt. The lesson is still learned, though: don't screw with the CK Award.
During the season, the Straight Bangin' Award is often the property of blogs covering a highly-ranked team coming off a dispiriting loss. This week Saurian Sagacity goes flapjack nuts, as mentioned, ranking UF #21.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive goes to Badger Sports... probably because said blog totally forgot to include Florida. You know, Florida? Winners of the last like billion national championships in everything? Quarterbacked by an Ewok? Etc? This is why you should always post your draft ballots, so people can say things like "hey, idiot, where's Florida?"
This week SMQB wins for totally omitting BC.
Duck blog Addicted to Quack is your Mr. Stubborn. In marked contrast to some voters, AtQ dropped Florida only one spot and Oklahoma four.