"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
Video trouble? Try VLC.
|M29||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||8||Hart||Zone left|
|Kraus appears to be the permanent center, BTW. This is all Hart: there's a crease as Moundros and Kraus take out the playside DT â€“ barely â€“ and Long(+1) does his thing as Boren picks off a LB. A safety run blitzes at the snap and should have this at the LOS; Hart jukes him and heads for eight.|
|M37||2||2||I-Form Twins||Run||5 (pen)||Hart||Zone left|
|Butler starts out wide; we motion him in. A commenter informed me that this "handoff" block I was searching for nomenclature on was actually a scoop block, so that's what we'll call it. Anyway, a scoop on the DT between Kraus and Ciulla doesn't go so well; the DT runs down the line and tackles. Rest of the play well done. Doesn't matter, as MSU is offsides.|
|M42||1||10||Ace Twins||Pass||5 (pen)||Arrington||Waggle|
|Arrington starts out on the other side, motioning to Manningham as the play starts; we have a TE off the line on the side of the waggle tasked with blocking the DE who often shoots into the backfield. Arrington gets open on a circle route; Henne hits him but takes him off his feet doing so. A short gain is negated for another offsides penalty. (CA-, 2, protection 1/1)|
|M47||1||5||Ace Twins||Pass||15 (pen)||Manningham||Fly|
|Inverted TEs here, with the guy lined up off the line inside the one on it. Michigan drops back and bombs it for the first time; live I thought this was inadvisable but results-based and all that. (CA, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|Minor in. This is the stupid playcall I mentioned Monday where Arrington is covered up; Butler comes in motion and they run right. Schilling(-2) is owned by The Sackmaster; the DE is right through and tackles for loss. Might Hart break this tackle?|
|Henne misses Butler busting wide open on a seam route, instead settling for a little dumpoff to Manningham that's covered. MSU blitzed; M picked it up. This should not be a one-yard completion. (BR, 3, protection 3/3)|
|Oh, this Henderson guy got owned by a double move and fell down; Henne whiffs badly on a potential touchdown. Announcers claim this could be a penalty, but it looked to me like Henderson was trying to commit one but couldn't manage it. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 8 min 1st Q.|
|Inverted TEs; Arrington motions out of the twins. Henne looks at Manningham, then comes off him and has his pick of three wide open guys on little stop routes on the other side of the field. Maybe a decoy read? He picks Butler out; he rumbles for a first down. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Motion Butler to the right side of the line and run left; both safeties fly up. By the time Hart gets the ball both are committed to the run. I always hate seeing this; where is our play action? Anyway, Hart should be thinking cutback and eventually does; Ciulla(-1) failed to cut the backside DT, who meets him at the LOS. Butler(-1) also completely whiffed on The Sackmaster. Not relevant to the play, but a really poor job of blocking.|
|O49||2||7||I-Form Twins||Run||38||Hart||Inside zone?|
|I'm not sure what this is, but I'm sure that this wasn't supposed to happen. It looks like Hart's supposed to pick a hole on the right side of the line; Boren is defeated by the weakside DE; Hart decides that the intended hole is not for him. On the backside, oddly, Long is blocking the DE as Butler just sort of wanders off downfield. Moundros ran up and plugged the MLB; the WLB, however, is unblocked and shooting through the hole. Hart hops around him as both safeties come up way too hard. Hart runs for a long while. Like the first play of the game this required Hart to make an awesome play to avoid a TFL. I have my doubts about the long-term viability of such a strategy.|
|Reach block for Ciulla on the backside DT just doesn't work; he flows down the line. No minus, as these are hard when the DT slants right away. Kraus gets no push on a Spartan linebacker on the second level; neither does Moundros.|
|Manningham takes a couple of stutter steps off the line, then bursts outside Henderson. Henne lays it in perfectly. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 4 min 1st Q. Hart's long run here reminiscent of one of the long ones the last time M played at Spartan stadium: some poor blocking that Hart makes do with and safeties who get way too aggressive.|
|M46||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||-1||Hart||Zone right|
|MSU again swarming this at the snap. Ciulla and Kraus end up doubling a DT, but no one gets out on the LB, and since he's really selling out on the run he's at the LOS almost at the handoff. Long can't make a reach on the backside DE; Schilling doesn't get any push but doesn't get beat, either.|
|you are so SMRT|
|A token draw fake as MSU blitzes; Michigan picks it up. Henne finds an open Arrington for 15 yards; he drops it. DB made a hit but this is a drop. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3)|
|Wide open; Henne has a 2005 flashback. (IN, 0, protection 2/2) Butler(-2) gets an MSU-level personal foul afterwards.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, EO 1Q. A really crappy punt combines with the personal foul to change the field position..|
|O42||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||32||Hart||Zone left|
|Again, this teeters on the edge of a TFL. MSU has shifted its defense to the left side of the line; the weakside DT is shaded well inside Mitchell (new to the game), so when Michigan shows zone left he shoots into the backfield. Mitchell has no realistic chance to block him; Hart runs through his tackle. On the frontside, Moundros, Kraus, and Long have all gotten crushing second-level blocks and Boren has sealed away the DT. Long's block also picks off a DE tracking back, Hart runs up into Moundros' back for a moment before popping outside and motoring downfield. +1s for all mentioned, +2 for Moundros, whose driving, extended block sprung Hart into the secondary.|
|O10||1||G||I-Form||Run||-1 + 5||Hart||Zone right|
|MSU swarms this; Mitchell(-1) blown back and Boren(-1) fails to do anything useful with the backside DT Moundros trips on fallen bodies as he gets to the hole; virtually no one is blocked and Hart is snowed under. A personal foul on MSU follows the play. Sparty, no!|
|O5||1||G||Ace Twins||Pen||-5||Mitchell||False start|
|We motion Butler away from the offset TE; perhaps as a result of this the backside DT does not flow down the line on the snap of the ball, instead taking his first step upfield and immediately putting himself behind Mitchell. A big hole results, as Long and Boren kick their guys out. Kraus takes out one LB, Moundros the other; Hart is taken down from behind by The Sackmaster, who got chopped but got up and made a good play; without it high probability of a cutback behind Butler and a TD.|
|MSU blitzes a corner right into this; Hart has no option to cut it up as an MSU LB dashed inside of Long(-1). Maybe the -1 is harsh here, since Long has to expect the guy to attempt to keep contain. Without the corner blitz here this would be suicide on his part. Hart spectacularly leaps the CB, avoiding a loss, but the delay means he's swarmed under.|
|Yeah, MSU blitzes seven(!!!) guys. Michigan has Manningham on one side and runs three guys on different levels to the other side of the field. Henne lofts it to an open Butler. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3). Say goodbye to Good Chad. It's Evil Chad for the next two quarters plus.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-3, 12 min 2nd Q. If I can digress for a moment: I think the five-yard run on our second first-and-goal on this drive is an example of how Michigan's playcalling hurts them. To wit: we almost never see this sort of error out of a DL. The first step upfield was deadly and opened up an immediate, huge hole for Hart. This never happens: it's all slant slant slant as Michigan hardly ever runs misdirection. 80% of our run plays are zone stretches; how easy to defend is that? Quite.
Also, put on your ugly hats, folks.
|Butler spread out wide to start; he motions in. The MSU DT times the snap perfectly â€“ tipped by the Butler motion? -- and drives Mitchell back instantly; Hart has to cut up, powering through arm tackles for a couple yards. No minus; excellent play from MSU.|
|M8||2||8||I-Form Twins||Run||5||Hart||Lead draw|
|MSU gets split immediately as the defensive tackles slant, anticipating a stretch. On the second level, Moundros(+1) effectively cuts the MLB; Butler(-1) whiffs on an OLB, forcing Hart to leap over the FB detritus and turning a potential first down into five yards.|
|Hart(-1) left to take on a DE; he cuts him but not that well and he gets up; Henne decides to scramble out. The ball's punched loose and there's a scramble for it; a Michigan OL falls on it. (PR, 0, protection 1/2, Hart)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 10 min 2nd Q.|
|M7||1||10||I-Form Big||Run||1||Hart||Zone left|
|Butler(-1) blown back and controlled by the DE, causing Hart to cut back up into a mess of bodies when otherwise it looked like he could shoot into a gap between Butler and Long and maybe beat a safety for a nice gain. As it is, he's tracked down by the backside DT, who Mitchell(-1) could not do much with.|
|M8||2||9||I-Form Big||Run||6||Hart||Zone left|
|Frontisde completely jammed by Spartan jumping the play, but the extra TE in this formation allows Michigan to block the backside DE and there's a cutback lane Hart takes for a decent gain. Hart limps off.|
|Schilling owned by the Sackmaster and shoved aside as he comes up inside, forcing Henne to get rid of it early. He does find an open Minor leaking out of the backfield, but throws off his back foot and sends it wide. (IN, 0, protection 1/2, Schilling -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 5 min 2nd Q.|
|Mitchell(-1) and Boren(-1) both get beaten by DTs, and when that happens your play dies.|
|M20||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Arrington||Skinny post|
|Butler(-2) gone right around by Saint-Dic, forcing Henne to get off a hurried throw on a skinny post to Arrington. This is actually excellent given the situation, a tough catch for Arrington with great coverage from the DB, who knocks it loose. (CA+, 1, protection 0/2, Butler -2) If Henne had more time he could have come down to Manningham on a wide open stop for the first.|
|M20||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Manningham||Stop and go|
|Saint Dic goes right around Butler again, who should probably be flagged for holding; as it is Henne's forced into a quick throw to Manningham on an stop and go. There's room to make this completion, though not much, and a MSU DB leaps up and just gets a hand on it. Maybe a little bit harsh, but (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Butler -2) On review, no... this is just way short and the IN is not harsh.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 3 min 2nd Q. Mesko launches one.|
|Mathews comes in motion, revealing zone as no one follows him; Arrington driv
es off the CB with a deep route and Michigan hits Mathews on a short out with decent room in front of him. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
|O35||2||4||Ace 3-wide||Pass||-2||Arrington||Long handoff|
|I mean, seriously, can we block the frickin' DT on a WR screen? This has to be the only WR screen in history to be broken up because of pressure. Kraus(-2) just ignores the man lined up directly over him, causing the throw to be low and forcing Arrington to his knee to make the catch. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Kraus -2)|
|This is open for the first down but Henne's throw is upfield, forcing Manningham to come back and allowing the Spartan DB to close him down before the sticks. (IN, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Excellent play by the DB to chuck Arrington, then start watching Manningham; when he moves to the slant he jumps it and finds the ball, intercepting. Poor decision. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 14-3, 1 min 2nd Q. IMO, two clock errors on the 4th down play. 1) why wouldn't Michigan run the clock down all the way? 2) why would MSU, which will have a minute and field position at the 35 if they stop Michigan, waste a TO?|
|A stunt gets a DE in unblocked and Minor has to cut it outside. He does so â€“ Long(+1) has stoned his guy and driven him back â€“ and gets a decent gain out of it.|
|Henne throws it wide; a potential completion, otherwise. Butler was holding anyway. (IN, 0, 1/2 Butler -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|A 65 yard touchdown waiting to happen; Henne overthrows it but only just. Manningham needs to lay out for this ball. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Ah, the incredibly surprising second and ten draw. MSU blitzes right into it. Also, Boren(-1) lets his guy inside of him.|
|Protection is fine, but Henne can't find anyone. Saint Dic eventually gets loose and sacks. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|MSU, as you might expect, jumps all over this. There are just too many to block; Boren(-1) didn't do a good job on a Spartan DT.|
|Arrgh, stay on your feet! Uh... yeah, other than that a perfect pitch and catch. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Manningham wide open again; Henne overthrows him. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Mitchell(-1) blown back into the backfield on what might be a designed cutback... we again motion the TE to the backside of the play and block the DE out there; Minor hops out there but the penetration slows him up enough to make this a short gain.|
|Saint Dic stunts around two other defenders, getting in clean. He hits Henne as he throws, the resulting pass is to no one. Don't know how you pick this up, but someone busted. (BA, 0, protection 0/2, team)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 1 min 3rd Q.|
|M27||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-1||Brown||Zone left|
|Long passes Saint Dic off to Butler(-1); Saint Dic just splits the pair and forces Brown up into bodies.|
|State in a four deep coverage with cornerbacks bailing at the snap; Henne bombs away despite the DB having yards on Manningham and it falls incomplete. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Boren(-1) gets fooled on a stunt between a DT and a linebacker, picking up the DT and allowing the LB in unfettered; Minor(-1) attempts to chop the guy and does a crappy job of it; Henne sees the pressure and sets up to throw but is sacked by the LB; corner coming unblocked meant he had to get rid of it right away anyway. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-17, 13 min 4th Q. Another bad punt from Mesko.|
|Arrington wide open on the sidelines, catching it nine yards downfield and running up for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2) Henne limps off.|
|Wooo Hart! Can't really blame Mallett for this, as the corner is totally unblocked as there's a protection screwup and he's looking at the other side of the field. Hart scoops the ball up and motors. (PR (not charted), N/A, protection 0/2, team)|
|Manningham this time; same play to the other side of the field. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||4 + 15||Mathews||Quick out|
|Henne throws this little out late, so Mathews can't turn it upfield. The play's over by like ten seconds when MSU pops him. Sparty, no! (CA-, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Virtual replay of the first catch. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Our second time out. Debord, you only have two plays, please get one of them in. Henne misses Arrington largely because Arrington was shoved with the ball in the air 15 yards downfield. No call. I'm not charting this one. (N/A, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|Henne loops it over the DB's head; a perfect throw that needed to be. A stunt got a DE in unblocked again. (DO, 3, protection 1/2, team)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-24, 6 min 4th Q. Good Henne.|
|And it's wide open again. Henne throws it upfield, forcing a tough diving catch from Arrington. (CA-, 1, protection 2/2)|
|M44||2||1||Ace 3-wide||Run||1||Minor||Zone left|
|MSU's trying to stunt here; Boren(-1) can't seal the DT and no-one bothers blocking the stunting DE; all Butler(-1) had to do was step inside and he was auto-sealed; the DE is free to track Minor down. Minor manages to reach out near the first-down marker and gets it.|
|Way long; Henne complains for a flag afterwards; ABC shows a replay of Mathews, so his complaint goes unevaluated. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Jesus Christ, Mario, get the first down! Aaaaigh! (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O46||3||1||Ace 3-wide||Run||-10 (pen)||Minor||Zone right|
|Butler(-1) driven back and holds as Mitchell and Schilling double the DT, driving him back; Minor manages to squeeze through the MSU tackle.|
|And it's a long, long drag as MSU rushes three and gets no pressure. Henne puts it just past the outstretched arms of the LB to Arrington, who has room up the sideline for the first. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|MSU sends the house; Manningham's drag route is wide open. Henne hits him. Good pickup from the OL. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)|
|Kraus(-2) driven way back by Baldwin, lined up as an NT; Minor has to bounce it out. Manningham(-1) doesn't even bother blocking the CB opposite him.|
|Manningham falls down. (N/A, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Well... goddamn, son. (DO, 2, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-24, 2 min 4th Q.|
I can't decide if I should be mad or thrilled. I hate Henne! I love Henne! I hate Manningham! I love Manningham!
Yes. God willing, any ESPN Classic replays of this game will excise the vast majority of the second quarter. I've never seen such a schizophrenic performance. We should just head right to the--
That's a tough day. Making it weirder is the breakdown (Good Henne == up until the second touchdown; Robot Henne == final two drives; Evil Henne == everything in-between):
There is some mitigation here: there were a lot of bombs into a swirling wind, Henne was playing hurt, and it's no coincidence that the three PRs came when Henne was in Evil Henne mode. During the middle of the game, Henne got pounded time and again.
In fact, to fully appreciate Henne's day we should check...
PROTECTION: 58/74, Hart -1, Schilling -1, Butler -5, Kraus -2, Minor -1, Boren -1, Team -5.
Minuses assigned to "team" were generally stunts that got MSU players through.
Ugly, ugly, ugly, especially on the part of Butler, not only complete fail in pass protection but also the culprit on several run plays that went nowhere and the recipient of two critical penalties, one a stupid personal foul and the other a comically inept holding call on Michigan's final drive.
We can break this down further, as well. The final two drives were 26/29, and one of the minuses was on Henne's touchdown throw to Mathews. The rest of the day was 32/45. That's a failure rate of 29%, well into the completely unacceptable range.
A glimpse at the Hart Chart tells a similar story in the run game. For the first time all year the totals are negative, and that's only charting Hart's 15 carries. The numbers would undoubtedly be uglier if Minor and Brown's collective eight carries for -4 yards were included. Our line got straight up owned.
What happened in the shotgun offense?
Part of it was the exceptional generosity of the MSU corners. Time and again they got driven off and receivers were wide open. I don't think Henne had to find a second read on either drive; if I was, god forbid, an MSU blogger the D UFR on the the last drives would be something like:
AAAAARGH they're running the same out for the FIFTH STRAIGHT TIME and no one is even in the same ZIP CODE as these guys. (Cover -2) Someone give me a kitten to strangle.
#*$#!!!!! What are you thinking, Kendall Davis-Moron? I hate you! I hate you so much! I hate you so much I am giving up on saying anything clever about you and just calling you Davis-Moron! Where is my whiskey? I drank it during the Northwestern game? AAAARGGGHHHH
When kids are that open it's hard to get to the QB. Also, MSU started dropping eight guys into coverage, which was something they actually did to good effect earlier in the game, as the faked blitzes often would end up getting The Sackmaster one-on-one on Butler anyway, resulting in pressure against an eight-man zone. Michigan managed to fix that protection somehow and the same three-man rushes were just invitations to give up yards. It was an outstanding performance that pushed the final protection numbers up to mediocrity. Football is so weird sometimes.
Oh, yeah. Ye receive:
Nothing of particular note except the "8" in Manningham's uncatchable column, which was 50% of his season total before this game.
Yes... yes. I do hate to be That Guy, and plead guilty to some That Guy pessimism earlier in the year, but one of my bedrock beliefs about football is that it's stupid to be as predictable as Michigan is and this game was a good exemplar of that.
Simply-titled Michigan blog Blue, run by oft-cantankerous commenter Meechigan Dan, helpfully points out Michigan's first down playcalling, which was... not particularly creative. Here's the first half:
1-10-MI29 (11:14) Mike Hart rushed for 8 yards.
1-10-MIST38 (9:00) Brandon Minor lost 4 yards.
1-10-MI28 (5:45) Chad Henne passed to Carson Butler for 10 yards.
1-10-MI48 (5:27) Mike Hart rushed for 3 yards.
1-10-MIST11 (4:35) Mike Hart rushed for no gain.
1-10-MI44 (1:31) Mike Hart lost 1 yard.
1-10-MIST42 (14:40) Mike Hart rushed for 32 yards.
1-10-MIST10 (14:04) Mike Hart rushed for 5 yards.
1-10-MI6 (11:15) Mike Hart rushed for 2 yards.
1-10-MI8 (6:50) Mike Hart rushed for 1 yard.
1-10-MI20 (4:17) Mike Hart rushed for no gain.
1-10-MIST41 (1:57) Mike Hart rushed for 6 yards.
1-10-MI18 (0:16) Chad Henne lost 1 yard.
The last one is a kneeldown and doesn't count, but that's 11 runs out of twelve opportunities. Things got slightly better in the second half; before the dual de
speration drives started Michigan had three runs and two passes. Total: 14 runs, 3 passes. I don't care how much confidence Michigan has in its ground game, that ain't right.
Exemplar: I had an odd moment whilst reviewing the game for UFR. Michigan was on its final touchdown drive and had just gotten down to the MSU 29. They went under center and ran Brandon Minor on a zone left. MSU's defensive end bizarrely cut inside the DT and I couldn't understand what in the hell he was doing; for a moment it looked like he had lost his mind. Then it occurred to me: they were stunting. Why was it so hard to identify this? I mean, look at the above. Many of the mentions of pressure on Henne involve a stunt. MSU stunted all the time when Michigan found itself in obvious passing downs. But not once did they ever stunt when Michigan was running the ball until they were in, yes, an obvious passing down.
If Carson Butler had just decided to block the DE Minor would have had a nice gain, but he did not and it was a TFL. So... didn't work out so well, but MSU put itself in a bad position. By my estimation they did this all of once the rest of the day, that on Hart's run from the MSU 10 to the 5 on Michigan's second touchdown drive. Michigan opponents make very few mental errors because Michigan hardly ever puts them in a position where they can make a mental error. Scant misdirection; limited play action; low variety in the run game. This thinking belongs to another era of football.
Caveats can be extended for this game: the pass blocking was bad -- though no worse than the run blocking -- Henne seemed dinged, and the wind was nasty. But this is no one-game trend.
I'm sorry, I know: beating a dead horse. Or dying horse. Or retiring. Whatever. Beating a very tired and old but not quite dead horse over and over again. I'm obviously never going to stop or I would have by now, but please accept my profuse apologies.
Robot Henne, Mike Hart's one good leg, and Mario. And Long, always Long.
Evil Henne, Mike Hart's one bad leg, and Mario. And OH MY GOD CARSON BUTLER BLOCK SOMEBODY. Seriously, I would not be surprised to see a lot of Criswell coming up. We don't really need a dynamic receiver at TE. We do need someone who can block.
What does it mean for Wisconsin?
There's a VEQ coming up; in it Bruce Ciskie says the UW safeties have been atrocious and Ikegwuonu pretty average; second starting corner Allen Langford is also out. Ciskie also says the run defense has been atrocious; starting DT Jason Chapman is also out. So all right we run them the hell over yay!
Uh... probably not. Wisconsin is likely to note Michigan's difficulties on the right side of the line, which only get worse when Carson Butler is put over there, as the expectation of nonexistent help is worse than the cold knowledge of your infinite loneliness versus The Sackmaster, and blitz like hell. The return of Alex Mitchell probably says more about the situation at right guard than Mitchell's health and motivation -- dude looks way out of shape -- and Debord... well... if he ever sat down at a poker table I was at I'd get tingly. It'll probably be MOTS: ugliness interspersed with good and 20-something points.
|O26||1||10||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Hey, wow, no nickel. I'll attempt to distinguish between a conventional 4-3 with actual linebackers and a 5-2 where two MLBs sit behind five guys on the LOS. On MSU's first play they motion the TE across the line, then bring him behind the guard as the play snaps; he acts as a lead blocker. BG(-1) is shoved downfield after a momentary double; Taylor(+1) refuses to get sealed and bashes into the pulling guard; no hole. Ezeh(+1) picks through the traffic and makes a tackle as Ringer tries to bounce it out.|
|Handoff fake coupled with an end-around to Thomas in approximately the same area the play would go, except more outside. Jamison(-1) manages to shoot past the blocker intended for him but comes too far up inside on the initial handoff fake; Thomas runs around him. Englemon comes up to tackle after a decent gain.|
|O33||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||17||TE Out|
|Adams(+1, cover +1) is right there, swiping as the ball arrives. Unfortunately, it's high and outside; Davis reaches up but can only bat in the air. It comes right back down to him, and he rumbles for significant yardage. Bad luck and a great catch.|
|50||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||3||Iso|
|Caulcrick in the game. Not sure why he decides to cut away from the fullback â€“ looked like a good gain was possible â€“ but he does; the backside looks open but two guys are attempting to block Pollock and another two have engulfed a DT, allowing Graham to close unblocked.|
|M47||2||7||I-Form Twins||Base 4-3||Pass||8||WR Screen|
|This WR screen is actually a RB screen as the "WR" in question is Ringer, who's motioned out of the backfield. This is not good: we're zone blitzing Crable and Ezeh, leaving Graham to chase Ringer down all the way from the backside. Adams does a good enough job of forcing the play back to him; Ringer slips between two tacklers, nearing a first down.|
|Johnson(+1) dives into Hoyer's knees just as he throws; the resulting pass is has no velocity on it. But it is accurate, as there's a ton of room in front of Trent. (Cover -2, pressure +1) This was man, so -1 Trent, too.|
|M21||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Adams comes up and is clearly in man cover over a motioning tight end. This play is the same as the previous off tackle but run to the opposite side of the line. Johnson(+1) reads his man pulling and starts flowing down the line; CG(+1) shoots into a gap, forcing Caulcrick to bounce it out a bit; Johnson is there to tackle with help from Ezeh.|
|M19||2||8||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Pass||Inc||TE Corner|
|Davis wide open for a touchdown (cover -2, CG -1), but Hoyer throws off his back foot and sails it to Tacopants. Taylor(+1) was coming and may have helped save the TD, as another second or two and Hoyer might be more accurate. (Pressure +1)|
|Wow. Michigan clears out the center of the zone; one LB chases a TE on a corner route as the other deploys a very, very delayed blitz that has no hope of getting home. (CG -1, pressure -1). A shallow cross to Thomas should be wide open except for Englemon(+2) reading this from the instant Thomas cuts his route inside and clubbing him just as the ball arrives. Outstanding. (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(36), 0-3, 11 min 1st Q. In our 4-4 package Max Pollock comes in as a strongside linebacker over the TE. I can't remember another non-FB walkon who played actual downs on something other than special teams. Can anyone?|
|O18||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||0||Pitch sweep|
|Well, if you're not going to block the CB on this he's probably going to come up and do something about the run. Trent does this (he's in zone, allowing the quick reaction). Ringer cuts up into Jamison(+1) and Taylor for no gain.|
|O18||2||10||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Run||5||Iso|
|Man, we shift the front again, leaving that 5-3-1-7 gap between Johnson and Jamison; they run right at it. CGraham shoots up, burying himself under the fullback as Johnson is doubled and a major hole opens up. A safety eventually fills. Hard for Michigan to stop this given the shift.|
|Excellent coverage (+1) forces Hoyer to come down to Thomas; Harrison(+1) is right there and tackles immediately.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 6 min 1st Q.|
|O20||1||10||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||5||WR Screen|
|Don't know if this is poor timing or what, but it seems like this play has no hope of succeeding as Hoyer throws a pass a couple yards backwards to Thomas. Trent(-1) meets him at the LOS and should have him for no gain but gets bowled over for five yards.|
|O25||2||5||Shotgun 2-TE||Base 5-2||Penalty||-5||False start|
|O20||2||10||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||-7||Swing|
|The swing pass CGraham(+2) reads and destroys. (+1 cover)|
|Jamison(+1) bats it down. Usually this is a pressure +1, but Michigan blitzed and didn't get anywhere near Hoyer.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 2 min 1st Q.|
|O41||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Pass||Inc||PA Fly|
|A miscommunication here as Trent(-2) obviously thinks he has deep safety help and lets Thomas go by him without even pretending to cover until it's too late. No pressure(-2); Hoyer loads up... and underthrows his guy badly. (Cover -2)|
|O41||2||10||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||1||Counter|
|MSU motions the TE away from the offset fullback, then runs to his side after a counter fake from the RB, pulling an offensive lineman around with him. CGraham(+1) picks his way up into the hole and makes initial contact; a mass of bodies ends up with Ringer on the ground.|
|Hoyer throws the seam without bothering to check if Jamar Adams might be in the middle of the field, which he is. He breaks and picks it off(+2). (Cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|O37||1||10||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Run||-2||FB Dive|
|Ringer motions out. They hand it to the FB, but Taylor(+1) shoves into the backfield right in his path and BGraham(+1) finishes the play.|
|O35||2||12||I-Form||Base 5-2||Pass||Inc||PA TE Flag|
|A play action fake kills the pass rush, giving Hoyer lots of time (pressure -1); he throws to Davis, blanketed by Adams(+1, cover +1). Adams breaks the play up.|
|Wow... Michigan sends three delayed blitzers. Crazy. I don't necessarily mind one delayed blitzer, but Jamar Adams from eight yards off the LOS? None of them get anywhere near Hoyer, but that's okay because Taylor(+1) and BG(+1) both bust through from the DT spot after a moment or two. With the crappy blitz, good job by the secondary to cover(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 12 min 2nd Q. Mathews lets the punt go over his head; a disastrous shift in field position from a seventy-yard punt.|
|M44||1||10||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||Inc||PA Out|
|Thomas open (cover -1) as a State deep route pulled off the coverage and the linebackers bit; Jamison(+1) manages to get free of a pulled pass blocker and knock Hoyer as he throws, forcing the one-hopper. (Pressure +1)|
|M44||2||10||Shotgun 2-TE||Base 5-2||Run||3||Counter|
|Thomas comes in motion as a potential end-around target. Taylor(+1) reads the counter action, fighting his way back inside; CGraham(+1) had also popped up in a hole. Ringer's fortunate to fall forward after finding himself surrouded by Wolverines.|
|M41||3||7||Shotgun 2-back||Base 5-2||Pass||-10||Holding|
|Good coverage(+1) but no pressure(-1) ends up with Hoyer rolling out of the pocket and finding his TE on an out for the first down. It comes back for holding, as Taylor was tackled trying to chase down the rolled out Hoyer.|
|O49||3||17||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||5||Screen|
|Thompson(+1) does a good job of tracking back on this; Adams comes up and tackles.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 7 min 2nd Q.|
|M49||1||10||I-Form||Base 5-2||Run||9||Pitch sweep|
|Johnson(-1) late reacting and allows a TE to block him out of the play. Taylor does a good job of fighting down the line, but his dive at Ringer's feet fails to trip him up. CGraham eventually tracks him down after picking through a lot of traffic.|
|M39||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||1||Iso|
|This time it's MSU with the unbalanced line, as soon as Crable sees the shift he demands a safety come up and shifts the LBs to the overloaded side; MSU duly brings the other TE in motion to the unbalanced side of the line. CGraham(+1) knifes through the line and gets a hand on Ringer; Ezeh finishes. Taylor absorbed a double team; no second level blocks were offered by the MSU OL.|
|M38||2||9||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Pass||Inc||PA Out|
|Ton of time(pressure -1); Hoyer eventually throws it way high to a pretty well covered Thomas(+1 cover, Warren +1).|
|CGraham(+1) times a blitz well and is in too quickly for the RB to do anything but knock him off balance; Hoyer has to throw. Hoyer overthrows Thomas, who blatantly interferes with Warren and doesn't get called for it. (pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 5-2||Run||-2||End-around|
|Thomas motions into the backfield as he's done before; this time he gets the handoff and Ringer acts as a lead blocker. Crable(+1) stands his guy up and drives him back, forcing Thomas wide. For some reason, two guys go to block Adams; Ezeh(+1) read and picked through the traffic, hammering Thomas in the backfield for a loss.|
|5-3-1-7 shift to the strongside; we don't adjust as they motion the TE. Odd. They're trying to run a trap right at the gaping hole but the OL bumps Hoyer and he never makes the handoff. After scrambling out for a bit he falls over. Fortunate, as this looked bad if they didn't screw it up.|
|O20||3||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Seam|
|No pressure(-1) whatsoever; CGraham(+1) in great coverage, tipping the ball and getting the PBU. (Coverage +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 2 min 2nd Q.|
|Michigan in a zone; Warren(-1) stops on a shorter route, allowing this flag to come open as CG can't possibly cover this guy any longer. (Cover -1, pressure -1)|
|Michigan sends six but does not get there; Hoyer does roll out. He eventually finds a guy open on the sidelines, but throws it wide. (Pressure -1)|
|M48||2||10||Shotgun Empty||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Cross|
|A huge bust in the middle of the zone has Davis open for a TE cross with a ton of room in front of him; he drops it. (Cover -2)|
|M48||3||10||Shotgun Empty||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Stop|
|Jamison(+2) schools an OT, forcing a quick throw from Hoyer as he's hit. It's high. (Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, EOH. Lucked out a bit there. Where's Crable?|
|O25||1||10||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Run||2||Inside zone|
|State OL s
till having major issues getting off their blocks and into the second level; this time Taylor(+1) fights off a double and tackles in the hole with help from an unblocked Ezeh.
|We shift to the 5-3-1-7 shaded front before the snap, they run right at the gap. Why are we doing this? Johnson(-1) doubled and gone, CGraham blocked out of the play by the FB. Ezeh(-1) meets Caulcrick three yards downfield and gets trucked.|
|O34||3||1||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||2||Iso|
|Taylor(+1) gets great penetration here, forcing Caulcrick to cut back; Ezeh(-1) and Graham(-1) are late, missing an opportunity to punch MSU off the field.|
|O36||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||6||Off tackle|
|Taylor(-2) clubbed out of this play by the double., ending up four yards downfield and getting Ezeh caught up in the wash. Everyone else did fine, but when your NT gets blown four yards back and they're running right at him it's ugly.|
|O42||2||4||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||2||Iso|
|Johnson(+1), not even the playside DT, drives his guy into the hole behind the penetration of Taylor; Caulcrick is robbed of his momentum and gets surrounded by Michigan defenders.|
|O44||3||2||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||3||Iso|
|Taylor does an okay job on the POA; Crable comes from the backside to grasp; the linebackers flow up but Caulcrick squeezes through.|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun Big||Base 5-2||Pass||21||PA TE Cross|
|They fake the end-around they've run to Thomas before; both LBs bite (Ezeh -1, Graham -1) and Davis is wide open. (Cover -2)|
|M32||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||9||Pitch sweep|
|BGraham(-1) slants inside, giving up the outside immediately. Adams(-1) has filled, as Michigan is coming up hard against the run, for a minimal gain but Ringer spins past him and stumbles near first down yardage.|
|M23||2||1||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||6||Counter|
|BG(-1) blown down the line, opening up a considerable hole as Crable gets cut. Ezeh gets thumped by a blocker, reaching out to slow Caulcrick as he passes, but that's a tough job.|
|M17||1||10||I-Form Twins||Base 4-3||Run||8||???|
|We get to this play late; CGraham(-1) has overpursued and left a huge cutback lane, which Caulcrick uses. Should probably be another minus in here but I can't tell with the late showing of the play. And if this isn't a fumble â€“ which it isn't â€“ has the tool who called the exact same play a fumble when it happened to Antonio Bass been tarred and feathered?|
|M9||2||2||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||1||Iso|
|No creases and a good fill by CGraham(+1) causes a cutback for minimal yardage.|
|M8||3||1||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||2||Iso|
|F***, CGraham, you bolt into the backfield all awesome like and should have this dead to rights, then miss a tackle. Come on. No plus/minus, as CG did slow him up at least.|
|Yeah, we have ten guys on the field after a bunch of switching. Awesome. Anton Campbell(-1) in the game; he should have Caulcrick for a one-yard gain but gets trucked. Why is Anton Campbell in the game? Englemon got knocked out a few plays earlier.|
|Plowed in from six inches.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6 min 3rd Q. Well, that was repulsive.|
|O28||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||9||Pitch sweep|
|Fairly simple explanation as to why this works: Crable is held blatantly without a call. Ringer pops outside, as Crable's understandably lost contain.|
|O37||2||1||Ace||Base 5-2||Pass||15 (pen)||Fade|
|Warren(+1, cover +1) blankets Dell, but gets the world's weakest PI call, which happens to be like ten seconds late. Awful.|
|M48||1||10||Ace||Base 5-2||Run||4||Off tackle|
|Ringer shoots through a hole that appears to not exist, as Ezeh came up and took out the lead-blocking pulling guard and did well; Taylor stood up to a double team okay. Somehow he leaks through between the two and darts for decent yardage.|
|M44||2||6||I-Form||Base 5-2||Run||-2||Pitch sweep|
|Crable(+2) blows the trapping guard into the backfield, discarding him and closing Caulcrick down for a loss.|
|M46||3||8||Shotgun Empty||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||6||Out|
|Michigan sends six, but the blitz is ill-timed and doesn't really get there fast. Johnson(+1) eventually hits Hoyer; he still gets a pass off, which is complete but close enough to the sidelines that the WR can't turn it up.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 3 min 3rd Q.|
|O17||1||10||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||6||WR Screen|
|Stevie Brown(-1) in, coming up and moving in on Caulcrick, ignoring the WR screen. Trent has to fight off a cut and get up to tackle with no help; he does so.|
|O23||2||4||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Run||71||Pitch sweep|
|Well, hell, Crable(+1) busts into the backfield and slings Ringer around. 99% of the time this is a TFL by him or someone else; he didn't tackle him but he also set MSU up for a big loss. Jamison(-1) relaxes, thinking the play's over, and Ringer shoots out to the other side. Brown(-1) has also vacated the backside. Ringer takes off, you know the rest. I don't know who to blame.|
|M6||1||G||???||???||Pass||6||PA TE Seam|
|My copy of the game doesn't actually have this play. As I recall, MSU ran play action and had a guy wide, wide open. (Cover -2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 15 min 4th Q.|
|O48||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||7||Off tackle|
|BG(-1) blown off the ball by a double; a pulling guard comes through and blocks one LB as the guy on the double peels off.|
|M45||2||3||Ace Twins||Base 5-2||Run||4||Inside zone|
|5-3-1-7 shift and they run at the overloaded side... maybe. This might be an intended counter, as
the predictably large gap opens up on the backside and they've motioned Davis right over that spot. For some reason Davis and the OT double Jamison, though, leaving CGraham unblocked in the cutback hole; he tackles but only after Ringer picks up the first down.
|M41||1||10||Ace Twins?||Base 5-2||Run||-5 (pen)||Inside zone|
|Hard to tell what happens here â€“ poor production â€“ but Taylor(-1) and BG(-1) are blown off the ball... possibly another shifted front since there's a big hole and it looks like Johnson is offset. Caulcrick just pounds ahead. Illegal formation brings it back.|
|M46||1||15||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Pass||9||Bubble screen|
|Michigan in obvious zone; Brown lined up significantly inside of Thomas and can't get an angle; Trent playing back. (Cover -1)|
|M37||2||6||I-Form Twins||Base 5-2||Run||16||Iso|
|Massive cutback hole as Johnson again tries to flow down the line of scrimmage, but it's CGraham(-2) who abandons the backside here instead of meeting Caulcrick in the developing hole.|
|M21||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 5-2||Run||5||Iso|
|Johnson(-1) blown back by the double, allowing an MSU OL to peel off and hit a LB.|
|Slocum(+1) is in at NT; he's double but holds up, causing Caulcrick to slow as he reaches the hole; Crable comes around and grabs him, but Caulcrick falls forward.|
|M15||3||4||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Pass||9||Broken play|
|MSU runs the fumblerooski throw that worked for a touchdown versus Notre Dame; Michigan is not fooled. (Cover +1). Trent, initially up on Thomas, gets too close and lets him run past him to the sideline; Hoyer makes his best throw of the day and completes it for a first down.|
|M6||1||G||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||2||Iso|
|Johnson(+1) holds up on the frontside; Caulcrick cuts back into an unblocked Adams and falls forward for two.|
|Michigan has this stopped, or should, but Thompson(-1) falls down as he attempt to tackle, allowing Caulcrick to grind forward. A big play that turns this from third and goal and the three to third and goal at the one.|
|Tape does not have this play.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-24, 7 min 4th Q.|
|O25||1||10||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||1||Off tackle|
|Jamison(+1) makes this play. driving Davis back and into the center of the line, taking out a pulling guard and allowing CGraham to close and tackle unblocked.|
|O26||2||9||Ace||Base 4-3||Run||7||Off tackle|
|Well, this isn't exactly great by the DL but it's not horrible either. Jamison(-1) is effectively controlled and pushed back, though. Ezeh(-1) is hesitant, allowing a man to peel off onto him and CGraham(-1) does not close the hole.|
|O33||3||2||I-Form Big||Base 4-4||Run||0||Pitch sweep|
|Crable(+1) gets enough push on the pulling guard to convince Caulcrick to cut it up, where a host of Michigan defenders meet him. Taylor(+1) did a good job flowing down the line and creating the pile.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-24, 5 min 4th Q.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun Empty||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||7||Stop|
|A little stop in front of soft coverage. (Cover -1)|
|O38||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||4||Circle|
|Curry beats Harrison; a blitz was sent but did not get there. Harrison does make an immediate tackle. ( Pressure -1)|
|Jamison in unblocked due to a blitz (Pressure +1); Hoyer finds a quick stop route that Warren escorts out of bounds for a minimal gain. (Cover +1)|
|Again blitzing more guys than they can block; Hoyer finds Davis for a short gain. (Pressure +1).|
|I think this is a combo coverage with zone on the left side and man on the right; Warren breaks out to a deep zone and the safety takes the short flat. This would make this bust CGraham's, as he got way too far inside on the TE and allowed Thomas to cross into the middle of the field with no one within 10 yards of him. (Cover -2) On replay.. i dunno. This could be Ezeh, as the swing was covered by Englemon and he was flying up towards it. I think it's Ezeh(-2).|
|Six men cross the line, one of them is an unblocked Crable(+1); Hoyer hesitates on his stop route â€“ Crable just too fast â€“ and is lost. (Pressure +2, cover +1)|
|Max pro for MSU; Michigan rushes only four and still gets pressure from BG(+1), forcing the drag dumpoff. It's dropped; Brown(+1) comes up to tackle anyway; two yards even if caught. (Cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Morgan Trent(+1) jumps this out, which is late, and breaks it up. (Cover +1)|
|M42||4||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Seam|
|Harrison in good coverage(+1); ball is overthrown anyway; Hoyer had to rush it because of a blitz and Jamison(+1) coming free of a blocker.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-24, EOG.|
I'm so confused. Was that a good performance or not?
I tentatively suggest it was. Obviously, the first half was great: 85 yards and three points despite facing a ton of possessions, many of which started near midfield. After halftime things got dicey, but the end results were still 352 yards -- about 75 under MSU's season average -- and 24 points on 15 MSU possessions. That's around 24 yards per drive.
Also, how much do you want to blame the D for Ringer's reverse-field 70 yar
der? I tend to look at those things as fluke occurrences and not reflective of defensive quality; that was fully 20% of their yards. (This is the second straight year Shawn Crable has missed a potential TFL and an opponent has turned it into a long run by using the impetus provided; last year it was Beanie Wells. Crable, wrap up plz.)
But what happened in the second half?
Well, let's look at the char--
|Jamison||7||3||4||Quiet statistically but batted a pass and caused a few others to be inaccurate with his pressure.|
|Taylor||8||3||5||A couple diving tackles that really helped out the befuddled linebackers.|
|Crable||6||-||6||A couple plays on those pitch sweeps; no real pass-rush presence until the end.|
|Trent||1||4||-3||Was fortunate not to give up two big plays.|
|Warren||2||1||1||Still can't believe that PI call.|
|Adams||4||1||3||I will miss these safeties...|
|Englemon||2||-||2||...such a weird thing to think.|
|"Pressure"||10||10||0||In reality worse than this, as many of the +1s came on MSU's final drive when State went empty and M sent six.|
|"Coverage"||17||18||-1||Decent day, though the D was fortunate not to|
Right, on Ezeh: Carr provided effusive praise for him in the postgame and I'm not so in love with my numbers to totally dispute him... but I didn't think he did much, and I assigned a couple pieces of blame to him that I may or may not be right about. Thirteen tackles is a lot, but on most of those he was cleanup or getting the benefit of the doubt in a pile or getting run over by Caulcrick.
I tentatively suggest this was confidence building and pride in his work ethic more than praise for his play. It is nice that we have a mediocre starting MLB who's a freshman; he should have an excellent career by the time things are said and one.
So, anyway, what happened in the second half?
A couple things: sometimes we shifted into that shaded 5-3-1-7 front with the big NT-DE gap and State usually ran right at it, picking up good yardage. Also, they attacked Brandon Graham successfully. He's got a -2 up there, by far his worst total of his career, and it was largely because he got booted out of the line by double teams frequently.
About that shaded front: I don't get it against this offense. I understand its purpose against the zone read, but when MSU is lining up under center and can hypothetically attack any portion of the line without a shift it seems... odd.
A contribution from Greg Simmons, who you may know if you've been reading the comments. He's a defensive coordinator at a NC high school. He thinks the problems in the second half were not schematic but rather on a player level. These are paraphrased:
- DTs getting blown off the ball or collapsing, leaving a hole no non-All-American LB could fill. These were three or four different people. (I thought Taylor was pretty good, though he did get blown out once. Johnson was similar, and Graham a frequent culprit.)
- Missed tackles; LBs and safeties putting their heads down and diving for feet, instead of wrapping up and driving. [This was definitely an issue on a particular second and goal that should have been one yards and was instead three.]
- LBs and safeties not correctly scraping to open gaps on the power off tackle, either out of stack [labeled Maryland I above] or out of I with a pulling tackle or guard. They suck up on the iso, and fail to scrape when the linemen squeeze the down blocks in front of them.
Too many people on Michigan's defense are trying to make all the plays themselves. Why is Taylor trying to spin his way into the backfield when he is getting a double team from a nose and a guard? Because someone is teaching or allowing him to try to make every big play, instead of making a pile and allowing unblocked LBs to make the play.But what if you think your LBs are terrible, and the strength is the DTs and ends? Then don't play gap responsibility, which means dropping the 4-4 scheme or the 3-4 50 scheme that Michigan has employed since I was born.
I do think the scraping issue is something that is a real problem but it's a subtle one I don't quite understand as a layman. When and how a linebacker should move remains one of the truly arcane aspects of football to the interested observer.
What does seem clear is that whereas last year our linebackers were always thumping people at or near the LOS and gaps were hard to come by, this year guys are squeezing through small gaps and blowing through large ones; some of that is on the linebackers and their scraping.
I also have some disagreements, most prominently on Taylor and with the schematic issues, as the shaded front seem an invitation to run right at the gap... but it's food for thought, anyway. Anyone with technical thoughts is invited to comment.
(A clarification for those who fear my latent grumpiness: it's not like they're terrible. Remove the Ringer thing and MSU backs averaged just under 4 YPC. They are what they are, average. )
Terrance Taylor was Michigan's best player on the day, often in the backfield and always occupying two guys.
Trent gets to be a quasi-goat as he was beaten deep twice but Hoyer bailed him out. Other than that, Brandon Graham could not hold up as an every-down SDE against a pounding attack -- he's not Woodley yet -- and the linebackers were erratic.
What does it mean for Wisconsin?
Michigan has to be concerned that the Badgers can find something in the second half to exploit, although to this amateur's eyes it didn't seem to be a schematic change. BGraham's inability to stand up in the run game could prove problematic the final two weeks of the season (or it could be a fluke or something correctable).
At this point we know what to expect from the secondary: solid, but not great coverage and (knock on wood) reliable safety play. The linebackers are good for a bust or two a game.
Wisconsin's almost identical to MSU on offense, though their #1 receiver may be less of a threat and PJ Hill is banged up, and Wisconsin should move the ball sporadically with an eye on making it to the mid-twenties.
11/3/07 - Michigan 28, Michigan State 24 - 8-2, 6-0 Big Ten
It was the middle of 2004. A then-freshman Henne strode onto the turf at Michigan Stadium facing a four point deficit against Minnesota. The ball was on the Michigan thirteen; the clock read 3:04.
Five plays and 56 yards later, Henne zeroed in on Z45 Part A Subsequence C Tight End Tyler Ecker, Rabbit-Hunting Mormon, crossing in front of a Minnesota linebacker; various servos and hydraulics kicked in. Henne flung a pass into Z45PASCTETERHM's outstretched arms, declared GOAL COMPLETED, and initiated nailcoeds.exe.
This weekend, now-senior Chad Henne strode onto the turf at Spartan Stadium facing a ten point deficit. He was 6 for 19 for 83 yards at that point, 47 of which came on a single bomb to Mario Manningham. The clock read 7:35.
Henne had been awful. Whether it was the unpredictable wind or his separated shoulder or some combination of the two doesn't really matter. He had been missing open receivers all day, flinging balls into the turf or the sideline or taking sacks he didn't have to. He and Brian Hoyer were locked into a duel to see who could torpedo his team's chances more thoroughly; Henne was winning. In the Michigan section, faith was running low. On the Michigan State sideline Jehuu Caulcrick was exhorting the Spartans to remember this moment, the moment they beat Michigan.
If clutch exists it is not the ability to raise one's game in the most critical situations, but rather an ability to not think about the matter at hand. Clutch, simply, is an immunity to choking.
Malcolm Gladwell has an article on the strange phenomenon of the choke job that presents a convincing diagnosis: sometimes in extremely high pressure situations, people forget how to forget. People have two systems via which they learn: the explicit, conscious level, and the subconscious level. As you continue to improve at something ever more gets snipped out of your consciousness, allowing your mind to focus on ever more arcane and high-level aspects of the task at hand. (At this point, all Tom Brady thinks about is nailing supermodels.) This is why experts so often cannot explain how they do the things they do. They have no idea.
In 1993, Jana Novotna held a commanding lead in the Wimbledon final, then collapsed. Why? How?
When Jana Novotna faltered at Wimbledon, it was because she began thinking about her shots again. She lost her fluidity, her touch. She double-faulted on her serves and mis-hit her overheads, the shots that demand the greatest sensitivity in force and timing. She seemed like a different person--playing with the slow, cautious deliberation of a beginner--because, in a sense, she was a beginner again: she was relying on a learning system that she hadn't used to hit serves and overhead forehands and volleys since she was first taught tennis, as a child.
Novotna started thinking about how to hit and forgot how to hit. The pressure reached up and crushed her trachea. Clutch is the ability to not do this, the ability to keep all that submerged and to robotically execute the things you don't even think about anymore. Clutch is for robots.
Caulcrick forgot one thing: Chad Henne is a robot.
On the last two drives he was 12-14 for 129 yards, flinging wide open outs, finding Mathews on a critical third and long, and looping perfect touchdown passes to Greg Mathews and Mario Manningham. He was ruthless, precise, and busy calculating digits of pi deep into the millions. He has a heart of nails and lungs made from old tires; his hair consists of pipe cleaners cropped short and his bones are discarded pipes. You have to whack him in just the right spot at just the right time to get his late-model Soviet guidance chip to seat itself in his shoddy southeast Asian motherboard.
Stripped of the ability to contribute on-field, Mike Hart summoned his chi and delivered the feather blow as Michigan State drove for the "winning" touchdown. He laughed about it afterward. Sometimes Mike Hart isn't very nice.
It is Henne's great misfortune that so many of his clutch moments have been obliterated by, depending on your point of view, an even clutcher performance by someone else -- most notably Vince Young and Troy Smith -- or the flailing incompetence of various Michigan defenses and, occasionally, special teams units. This is not to say that Henne has always been good or that he has not been a primary culprit in Michigan losses past. Sometimes the guidance chip has been locked on Tacopants. But stainless steel knees don't buckle when you them in situations a squishy hoo-man would find intolerable.
Little about the scene postgame was unfamiliar. Michigan had leapt out to a lead, shut down the offense, and gotten itself in a heap of unnecessary trouble. Michigan State had blown it again with help from a stupid personal foul. Michigan had beaten Michigan State for the sixth straight year. From my vantage point in the upper deck the final Manningham dagger looked like a virtual replay of 2004's Braylonfest. And Henne had once again proven that nothing but oil runs through his metallic veins. As we near the end of the Hart Era and the Henne Era and the Carr Era, there are few things that surprise. This is the program's blessing and its curse.
There was one thing. Henne was unusually alone as he exited the field, his teammates busy holding a moment of silence for Michigan State. He leapt and gamboled off the field, fist pumping as he went. Data would never do that. Solitary, he was a mesmerizing, jarring sight. But just as perceptions threatened to shatter Henne encountered a stadium staffer removing the padding from the goalposts. He sprawled on the ground for a moment, then completed his egress in a manner more befitting a pile of scrap iron with a heart of nails. Goal completed.
- Two "holy crap" State-fan moments: I'm sitting in my seat -- or, rather, standing on it -- midway through the first quarter when some MSU knob chewing on an unlit cigar demands that I move. I show him the stub, tell him to go to hell, and ask for his. He fails to produce one, saying "it's in the car"; ten minutes later, after one of his knob associates grabs an usher to boot me, he finally yanks it out of his pocket. It says seat 4. I'm standing in seat 3. If you can't get into college...
Also, some harpy turned around at some po
int in the second quarter and started chanting something indecipherable. After some parsing and reparsing, we finally realized what it was: she was chanting "Art Fag U." Classy! This prompted the guy next to me to chant "skank" at her whenever she stood up for the rest of the game. Also classy.
(Everyone else was cordial enough; MSU remains a place where you can expect a verbal barrage from totally wasted meatheads but little else.)
column coming early PM.
Recap. BTN highlights:
Bow Down. RCMB:
Did anyone see the huge "Bow Down Sparty" sign?
Some UM fans hung it from the upper deck and it flew like a flag over OUR stadium while myself and the rest of the Spartan Marching Band stood and listened to the Michigan band play their Victory march. We then had to play our postgame show for a crowd of primarily UM fans.
You mean this "Bow Down Sparty" sign?
I will show you a lack of respect. If Gerry Dinardo hadn't said "Howdy Doody could coach LSU" earlier this year, Jehuu Caulcrick's postgame interview would win "least self-aware comment of the century".
Hey, Jehuu, remember this?
Dear Mr. Caulcrick,
You're in this video. Hell, you appear to be one of the ringleaders of this stunt. You're number 30. That's a squiggly backwards "E" next to a big thing that looks like your gaping mouth after Manningham's touchdown. You should probably shut up about winning with class.
PS: Ha, ha.
Weekly Les Miles opinion-giving. Game + walking + traffic meant that I only caught the final quarter of Alabama-LSU, and that without the benefit of the announcers clarifying things, so nothing too strident, but...
- Yes, the annual mental implosion of LSU does give me the heebie-jeebies. This would be more convincing...
"We kept hanging in there, kept fighting," Miles said. "We found a way to win. I've never seen that many mistakes in a game. We'll never play that poorly again."
...if LSU hadn't turned it over six times in a shoulda-woulda-coulda loss to Florida last year. 14 penalties for a million yards is not good. I'm not so much with the blaming Miles for Matt Flynn's interceptions, since by this point in the season it's become clear that Flynn's a mediocre system guy prone to errors and poor throws.
I wonder how much of LSU's self-destruction gene is ingrained in the culture of the program, how much of it is luck or misperception, and how much of it is actually symptomatic of a flaw in Miles' coaching.
We just saw yet more evidence of State's remarkable ability to bring in coach after coach and still be the same bunch of slack-jawed chokers with all the discipline of Charlie Weis at Old Country Buffet. (Zing!) At least part of this has to be State's role as the raccoon of Midwest recruiting. They scoop up the refuse of Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc, etc., kids of questionable character, work ethic, intelligence, or talent, and are fighting uphill from day one. In sum: Michigan has the luxury of passing on Eric Knott and Damon Dowdell, and it shows on the field. Maybe LSU's recruiting base is just prone to wild burst of cajun passions that draw flags?
There's also the possibility Miles' reputation for penalty-laden, undisciplined teams is a media creation based on a couple high profile occurrences that does not reflect reality. This infrequent observer of LSU believe this to be unlikely, but it is a possibility. When something settles into the conventional wisdom it becomes very hard to dislodge, and the next time a mainstream college football writer does some independent research and comes up with a conclusion based on actual facts will be the first.*
And then there are the bizarre results of an offseason SMQB study of stat relevance:
First counterintuitive result: the most penalized teams were slightly better as a whole than the least penalized teams. Penalty yardage, over the course of an entire season, had no discernible effects
on winning and losing. You can probably think of a situation that would specifically argue otherwise, cuz penalties are definitely bad, mmmkay?, but they're bad more as situational mistakes than an overall, cumulative drain.
It got weirder, and consistently so. When SMQB went game by game, calculating the "record" of various salutary statistical indicators like "better yards per pass" (#1 at 78.5%) and "more rushing offense," (#5 at 67.8%), "fewer penalty yards" finished dead last by a country mile. Hell, it was actually a negative indicator of victory, and a significant one: the Fewer Penalty Yards Fightin' Flags finished 119-175, a mere 40.5% winning clip and the only "team" to finish below .500. So... yeah... go get them penalties, Les!
In retrospect, this entire section is definitely the lady protesting too much. It's a concern. It doesn't change the fact that Miles is exceedingly likely to end up in the SEC championship game (beat Ole Miss and they're in no matter the Arkansas result) and the BCS for a second consecutive year. Unless Tedford (who I still heart) decides to bolt -- unlikely -- there's no one with the sort of track record Miles has out there.
*(I don't even mean this snarkily. I mean it literally. Not once in years and years of reading college football writers has anyone bothered to challenge the CW with analysis.)
Softened. Noted on the sidebar, but important enough to re-note: three important Wisconsin players went out against Ohio State and are unlikely to play next week. Starting cornerback Allen Langford is definitely out. Starting DT Jason Chapman's injury is also "significant". Starting OT Eric Vanden Heuvel is not definitely out but is doubtful (or questionable or something). The Journal-Sentinel article makes it sound like the most concerning injury is Chapman's, then Langford's; Vanden Heuvel has a decent backup in Jake Bscherer.
Biff. Cool, calm, collected. Chad Henne: