Wow, the announcer on those clips ... makes me never want to watch a game on the MTN.
In an effort to expand my ninja skills beyond the realm of recruiting, we (okay, Brian) decided I should do a weekly feature breaking down down film from the previous game (and potentially other games, as well) of Michigan's upcoming opponent. That feature is, at least temporarily, titled Fee Fi Foe Film, and today I attempt to draw conclusions about San Diego State based on an 11-minute highlight film produced by their vanquished opponent from last week, Washington State.
Normally, I'll have a full torrent at the ready and get into deeper detail about tendencies as well as specific plays, but unfortunately there wasn't one available this week. Instead, here's what I was working with, and I'll use clips from the following video to look at a few areas where I think Michigan can exploit the Aztec defense (as well as one clip of Ronnie Hillman, just for objectivity's sake and as a reminder that we should all be scared of Ronnie Hillman):
After watching 11 minutes worth of highlights put together by the other team, there are a couple areas where I think Michigan can attack the San Diego State 3-3-5 defense, and luckily for the Wolverines these advantages appear to fall right into their offensive wheelhouse. All of this should be taken with a grain of salt, as you must remember I'm using (1) a highlight reel, and (2) a highlight reel put together by the other team showing their best plays of the day. This shouldn't be an issue in the future when I'm using full-game torrents to put these together.
QB O NOES: WE HAZ IT? The first clip displays a recurring weakness for SDSU, and that's the throw right up the seam—this time off of play-action—which seems to set up more QB O NOES for Denard:
As you can see, Washington State operated from out of the spread, and here the play-action handoff either froze the safety for the split-second required to beat him deep or he's just slow—unfortunately, it's impossible to tell from this camera angle. Either way, it appears Michigan can take advantage of SDSU's safety play in this area of the field, as later in the game WSU connected for another touchdown on the same route, this time just without the play-action (note: you might have to scroll down slightly when you hit that link for the video to appear in the pop-up window, since TubeChop videos apparently don't work using the normal pop-up video method).
We've seen Al Borges work in the 'Denard take a jab-step, suck in entire defense, throw to wide-open receiver up the seam' play to relative effectiveness when Robinson puts the pass on target, and I expect that play will be utilized with success this week. If there's a game for Roy Roundtree to revert to last year's form, I think this is it, though the Aztecs's inability to handle speed up the seam may open up the opportunity for Jeremy Gallon to continue his breakout season in style.
RUNNING AGAINST THE 3-3-5: BANNER DAY FOR MOLK AND LEWAN? Two WSU running plays out of the shotgun bode well for Michigan's chances of great success against Rocky Long's 3-3-5 defense. While the Aztecs have a fair amount of experience on their defensive line, starting two seniors and a sophomore, neither defensive end weighs more than 245 pounds and their starting nose tackle, Jerome Long, is 6'5", 285. On this particular play, Long—wearing #94, lined up directly over the center—gets blasted out of the hole:
While David Molk has had his troubles against bigger defensive tackles when not working his zone-blocking magic, he should have success here regardless of how Borges decides to utilize his offensive line. If Washington State's center, whom Phil Steele tells me is not among the top 44 in the country (Molk is #2), can open up lanes like that, Molk is in for a good day.
Meanwhile, the pint-sized defensive ends may be in even bigger trouble against Taylor Lewan. Watch as the left defensive end on this play gets completely sealed off from the outside, allowing the Cougar running back to gain the edge and scamper for a first down:
I'm guessing SDSU's rather tiny defensive ends will be trying so hard not to become the next contestant on "Donkey Rides With Taylor Lewan" that throwing in a couple runs off the edge will keep them off-balance and allow for plays like the above to occur. Obviously, Michigan also has a luxury that Washington State does not, and that is Denard Robinson—the QB stretch could work quite well against the Aztecs if their ends can't maintain control of the edge.
PAGING JUNIOR HEMINGWAY: YOU ARE WANTED ON THE POST. On this next clip, you'll see that San Diego State—much like the Michigan teams of GERG—stays in their base defense with what appears to be their base personnel even when faced with a four-receiver look. In this case, WSU picks up a blitz out of the 3-3-5 and the quarterback hits the post in a post/flat combo on the wide side of the field for a relatively easy first-down pickup:
With Junior Hemingway's ability to gain position on just about any defensive back and box them out for the ball, I think he can have a big day when faced with man-to-man coverage on the outside like in the above play. It's a quick, easy read for Denard and a throw he's shown the ability to make (mostly last year, admittedly), though we'll have to see how aggressive SDSU gets with the blitz when faced with the paralyzing fear of Shoelace running wild if they can't get to him in a hurry
THE TUNNEL SCREEN FINALLY WORKS? I know Brian has ranted about Borges's use of the tunnel screen instead of the bubble (which theoretically should give the receiver more room to work with if executed properly off the zone-read fake), and I'm in agreement with him, but then I saw this highlight clip and realized maybe Borges was simply preparing for the team he coached last year:
Running the 3-3-5 necessitates bringing some extra pressure beyond the defensive line, unless you're GERG and have no idea how to run the damn thing, but there are obviously ways to counter the blitz. In this case, SDSU shifts their line to the short side of the field, where the running back is lined up, and brings all three of their linebackers without dropping any linemen into coverage. There are still five defensive backs in coverage on the play, but the safeties covering the slot receivers play far off their man, and this really opens up space for the tunnel screen. If Borges catches SDSU on a similar play, this is another way Roundtree or Gallon could rip off a big one.
For the record, I still think Michigan should re-incorporate the bubble screen, which should also work well against a six-man blitz with loose coverage against the slot, but this shows that the tunnel screen the Wolverines have been running could finally have some success.
RONNIE HILLMAN IS GOOD. Your reminder that running back Ronnie Hillman—who already has 497 yards and eight touchdowns on 77 carries this season (and though he beat up on Cal Poly in the opener, he also had 191 yards and four TDs last week)—should be your main point of concern if you're worried about an Aztec upset:
Jordan Kovacs would probably come up and make that tackle in the secondary, but that's only if he can catch Hillman first, and if Hillman can reach the second level that quickly and he's on the opposide side of the field as Kovacs, I'm skeptical that will happen. This is going to be a huge test for the outside linebackers (presumably Jake Ryan and Brandin Hawthorne—Cam Gordon is not in shape to start quite yet, according to Brady Hoke). Keep Hillman from getting to the outside and breaking off big runs, and I think Michigan wins this game handily. Allow Hillman to get the edge with regularity—something that has been an issue for Michigan so far this year, and Hillman may be every bit as good as Notre Dame's Cierre Wood—and this one could be uncomfortably close.
While I'm guessing next week's form of this post will look quite different, presuming I have a full game tape to look at, I'm still very much open to suggestions as to how to improve this feature. Let me know if you'd like to see anything added to these posts, and I'll do my best to incorporate some suggestions into the Minnesota Fee Fi Foe Film.
Wow, the announcer on those clips ... makes me never want to watch a game on the MTN.
I'd like to get your take on their game against Army. We don't run the triple option, but we do run a lot of misdirection, and the read option has worked very well this year. Plus, it looked to me after watching just the first quarter that the Aztecs are soft up the middle and couldn't stop the fullback dive.
Videos seem to be missing.
Well all of them except the first, maybe its just me.
if that makes you feel any better
Browser and version?
The videos after the first (full) clip are all TubeChop videos, and those show up as flash objects instead of iframes (like normal YouTube videos). Could that be the issue? I'm editing the post now to include links to the TubeChop clips for the people who can't see the embeds.
Possibly, I've never heard of TubeChop but I would like to think my browser(Firefox) would support it unless it requires another flash player download that I don't have.
I'm using the latest version of both Firefox and Flash, and it works fine for me. I know that's totally not helpful, but maybe you just need the newest flash update?
Thanks for putting this together Ace, I will enjoy your analysis
One thing that jumps out at me is the grizzly mane of #59 for WSU, I suspect that he is actually Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria in disguise.
score 60 points this weekend. That is, if we remember to play in the first quarter.
According to the box score WSU ran 28 times for 1.8 YPC.
Thus is illustrated the much mentioned danger of scouting via highlight video.
Whatever running plays were on that video were not representative.
ALTHOUGH, the WSU QB did have 8 'carries' for -31 yards.
If we assume all of that is sacks, WSU ran 20 times at about 4 YPC.
That QB is replacing their starting QB, Jeff Tuel, after he went down in week one with a broken clavicle. I think their starting center may have been out as well.
If all of those QB carries aren't sacks, most of them have to be. Either way, their QB isn't a runner so take those out since they aren't running plays.
This means that WSU was still able to get 4 ypc against them, despite being a poor running team. We should be able to get at least that without counting QB oh noes. With Denard, I predict 6 to 7 yards per carry.
new feature. Have longed for something like this. Will review it again before the game.
We've got enough versions of Picture Pages floating around, we don't need one more. Stick with the "Key Plays (/jangles keys)" idea: pick one or two plays that Michigan does/doesn't do well and what the opponent does against them.
So, -here's Michigan running a tunnel screen, -here's SDSU defending a tunnel screen, -here's QB Oh Noes, -here's SDSU defending QB Oh Noes, -here's SDSU getting the edge, -here's Michigan losing contain.
there is no defending QB Oh Noes!
/also I do like your idea. That would be great. my guess is setting up that video would take a lot more time however. I think a written breakdown (similar to this) is quite helpful. How does our bread-and-butter stack up to the other team's?
...should not include the name of this feature. Fee Fi Foe Film is incredible.
solid work. i think you should wait to make changes to the format until you have a full game tape to work with. i like stubob's idea about matching up plays from UM and from video of their opponent - which would be made easier by having a full game to use instead of highlights. maybe include a few more players in the way you did with ronnie hillman ("guys to watch" - you can come up with a better title im sure) or a unit that might guys UM trouble (O-Line, LBs, whatevs) and include a couple from both side of the ball and special teams. again, that would be made easier by havign a full game tape. "look at the game tape!" nice work though; keep em comin.
So... Fee Fi Foe Film + Unverified Voracity + UFR = FFFFUVUFR?
An interesting thread worth perusing through for the further scouting of SDSU. It's obviously lots of what-ifs, sour grapes, and bias, but it provides some insight into what SDSU did in the second half.
I'm not as worried about SDSU as many are. They've played 3 bad teams and really didn't pound any of them (the WSU game was close until middle of the 4th). They're vulnerable against the run, and we can run the ball, even if it's with our QB. If we can hold them to 28 points, we win.