Dear Diary in Masterpiece Theater

Dear Diary in Masterpiece Theater Comment Count

Seth September 21st, 2012 at 8:27 AM


It's strange that Notre Dame is considering giving this up for more Syracuse and stuff. In the relatively short time since bringing this thing back, it accounts for some of the greatest moments of the season's first quarter. It's Remy Hamilton, and Desmond laying out for a 4th down dagger, and time running out at the 11, and Denard going DENNIS BERGKAMP! (compare to Wheatley with a crease), and several more increasingly preposterous ways to beat them by 4. Even when it's terrible, it's crazy-ass yakety-sax in a freshman quarterback terrible. And oh, TD Jesus knows this rivalry has seen its freshman quarterbacks, from Henne, to the stork-off of 2007, to The Jedi of Moxie, and now the Golson Show. So whether you're making the drive to South Bend or the walk to your living room, start off with a stroll through inthebluelot et al.'s special gallery of Great Images from the Battle of the Winningests. Bonus 2012 exhibit: first blood Michigan.

Since we're leading with Best of the Board, here's the rest of that:


3kHMrPSU 1003 JRH

The first two episodes of that famous M-ND saxophonic trilogy were submitted along with Bauserman, Buffalo's Alex Zordich last week (4-22 with 2 INTs), and "any game where Lovie Smith said 'Rex is our quarterback.'" #loldabears. Then came the Mathlete:

Pulled the old database up and Brian Luke from Kansas gets the worst showing at -28 in a 2005 game against Oklahoma. 11/30 86 yards, 3 INT and -40 yards rushing

Henne's 11/34 against Ohio in 2007 is Michigan's worst showing (-20), although if you adjust for defense, Nick Sheridan's 2008 against NW (-15) takes the cake.

Juice Williams narrowly edges out Henne for worst B1G game, with a -20 in 2008 against Penn St

If my fist had ever stopped shaking at 2007 it would start shaking again. The opposite side of this coin is the Charles Woodson vs. All Time Best NFL DBs thread.

ETC. Mgrowold (who's spending time in the pony box for illegal use of avatar), apparently has the right tailgate spot, since both Hoke and now Mattison have stopped by it. Adidas, which is supposed to be a friggin' soccer company, manages to totally biff the soccer uniforms. Ultimate UFR experience: offense, defense.

The diaries, after THE JUMP


The Music Of The Slightly Damned

The Music Of The Slightly Damned Comment Count

Brian November 15th, 2010 at 12:26 PM

11/13/2010 – Michigan 27, Purdue 16 – 7-3, 3-3 Big Ten



I lasted a quarter and a half before giving in to my inner old man and muting the television. Chris Martin had not just said that the receiver Roy Roundtree reminded him of was Braylon Edwards, but that's all I remember from the first hour. I love the Big Ten Network's picture quality and was pleasantly surprised when Saturday's director consistently cut away from highlight packages to show the game. Not so much the people paid to talk.

I was home alone since the last time I tried to watch a game in the company of people it was the Penn State game. I went home at halftime after demonstrating my severe case of sports Tourrette's. I didn't trust the team enough to expose the world to me for those three hours on Saturday, and that turned out to be a good call. Slop happened, swears were deployed, and sometime in the third quarter Sean Robinson threw a ball directly at James Rogers for the ninth turnover of the day.

It was a this point that Yakety Sax spontaneously started playing in my otherwise silent apartment.

Possibilities washed over me. One: I have been driven insane by last four years of Michigan football. Two: I am now dangerously, thrillingly super-sane and will walk-around hearing situationally appropriate music everywhere I go. I will hear "Yes We Have No Bananas" and know I don't need to bother with the produce section. People will have to tell me what Mark Dantonio says as "Breakin' The Law" thunders in my skill. I will stop complaining about Special K because instead of "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor," I will hear the marching band.

I ONLY EAT BANANAS AND HEAR YAKETY SAX SPONTANTEOUSLY WOOOOOOO—damn. It turns out that I still had a liveblog window open and when you post a video it auto-plays because it loves breaking the cardinal rule of the internet. Elaborate sigh, dreams deferred.

I'd forgotten because I don't participate in the liveblogs mostly because I'm at the games. Even when I'm not I avoid them—I don't like my own furious overreactions, let alone the furious overreactions of hundreds of other people.


What have we learned in week ten? Eh… I'm not sure you can take much out of this game except a growing concern for Denard Robinson's turnover issues and healthy fear of Ryan Kerrigan. Football played between good teams gets ugly when the rain is constant and the field starts coming up in big sliding chunks; football between bad teams causes spontaneous yakety sax. I don't think we're under the illusion that Michigan is a good team.

The footing issues were most apparent with the tailbacks but applied to everyone, so I'm not sure how much the offensive line getting owned was the conditions and how much was Kerrigan being Brandon Graham 2010 and how much was just the offensive line getting owned. The rest of the problems extended from that—Denard got the first serious, consistent pressure of his career and responded like most quarterbacks dealing with their first case of happy feet do. The running game was a slog. This week's epidemic of dropped passes has a good reason.

Unfortunately, the same logic applies to the other side of the ball, where Michigan took on Gritty Eckstein at tailback and went to work against a team that got the ball down 11 with no timeouts and a minute and a half left and decided this was the best course of action:

  1. Throw in the flat from one freshman quarterback to the other freshman quarterback, who had lined up at wide receiver.
  2. Tunnel screen.
  3. Five yard hitch.

The scariest thing Purdue's offense did all day was start Justin Siller. We have finally found the team whose offensive incompetency outstrips Michigan's defensive incompetency.

There is no data here not obviously affected by the opponent and the weather. Next week when the footing is solid and the opponent has a quarterback whose default option is not a dumpoff to the other quarterback everything will be completely different. Since it was a win—one that was in retrospect not in much danger after Michigan scored to go up 20-13—this game will be relegated to the scrap heap of mud-ugly games past and forgotten.

Now if I can just figure out where "Livin' on a Prayer" is coming from, we are in business.

Non-Bullets Der Wet Catten

This did not happen. Remember that these things can be much, much worse. The saddest picture in the history of Michigan football came from the 2008 Fandom Endurance III game:


Lon Horwedel/

The Orin Incandenza Award. The play of the game is Will Hagerup's 72-yard bomb early in the fourth quarter that put Purdue on their own three. Courtney Avery would biff a long handoff on the next play but give the ball back on a fumble. Michigan punt, Purdue punt, Michigan excellent field position for clinching touchdown. Watching this game was a blast from the past; feeling my decision matrix switch from GO FOR IT GO FOR IT GO FOR IT to "it's third and seven, we should run it and then punt" was like being possessed by the ghost of Lloyd Carr*.

That thing flipped the field position in a game where field position is a tug of war instead of a minor inconvenience en route to the endzone. It soared. The returner is a lithe whippet of a man somewhere around 20 years old and he didn't bother to run since it was too long. Ain't running that far. That's going to China, yo.

*(The author is aware that Carr does not actually have a ghost.)

Growing concern for turnover issues. The interceptions were bad but maybe that just happens because of the weather and the pressure which may have been caused by the weather, etc., but the fumble was the continuation of a bad habit we've seen all year: when Denard gets outside he does not switch the ball to the outside arm. On Saturday that allowed some guy to come from the inside and strip the ball as he spun Denard to the ground. That's a basic coaching point and I'm not sure why a guy who runs as much as Denard hasn't had it hammered into his skull.

Quarterback rotation. I thought putting in Forcier here and there was the right move even if it didn't result in any of those yard things (Forcier was one for four and his one completion was blown up by a Molk hold, leading to another pooch punt) since the offense wasn't going anywhere and the two quarterbacks are different enough that it's plausible Forcier could do something Denard couldn't, especially after the two INTs.

I also liked Rodriguez's response to some question about "benching Denard." To paraphrase: benching is a strong word. If he's a tailback or wide receiver he's getting a rest. We put him back in. You are making 1000 times less than me for a reason.

Last part probably another hallucination.

Might as well try it.


Right, I mean? Right? I think the headphones are key.

Grim weather past. All games played in driving rain on shoddy turf kind of melt into each other, a never-ending parade of fumbles, third and eight runs, five yard throws that hit spectators in the face, and either shots of people looking wet and cranky in ponchos or looking grim and cranky in a poncho yourself.

But in one specific way, this game reminded me of a previous slopfest around 2002 or so when a to-that-point disappointing Justin Fargas had the first and only 100 yard game of his Michigan career in a mud pit against Northwestern. Fargas was much better than Michigan's other backs because he was small* and could change direction without engaging pratfall warp drive. I thought of him as Vincent Smith changed direction relatively quickly and came up a yard short of the first 100 yard game of his career not played against baby seals.

I also was like "aaargh why aren't you a step faster" several times. Smith's had a good couple games but unless he's not really 100% after the knee injury it seems like it's cost him some of his giddyup.

*(He would get Brian Cushing roid huge at USC—at Michigan he was diminutive.)

A moment of pure terror. Was anyone else about to have a conniption fit after Avery let that WR zip by him with nothing but Ray Vinopal between that guy and the endzone? Rogers was pursuing to the backside so if Vinopal missed he just had to slow the guy or make him cut back, but watching a true freshman two star scurry down his angle as the last thing between Purdue and a 97-yard wide receiver screen touchdown is a whiskey-inducing experience.

Vinopal made a fine tackle and Purdue had the decency to fumble on the next play, so the moment passed successful. But jeez.

I-form: die. Die die die. Die die die die die.


Oddities. One: Gallon was clearly not making a fair catch signal and shouldn't have been flagged. Two: Purdue kicked off from the 35 once. WTF?


No Video of All Varieties yesterday because the pickings were understandably slim, but here's a bird talking about the game. Stay tuned for the twist ending:

I wish this would happen to certain WTKA callers. There is also a Wolverine Historian clipreel:

The official site has a briefer version and the defense every snap video is already up. Also SD torrent.

Purdue bloggers say their defensive back who scored "displayed shades of Deion Sanders" by having a ball thrown directly at him whilst  being five yards from the nearest receiver. They do post video of girls fighting. The guy who guaranteed a win declares the game the "ugliest football game" he's ever attended, which yeah pretty much. The comments are weirdly negative. If mean, if anyone deserves a pass it's Purdue and their new mascot:


On to Michigan blogs: the Hoover Street Rag drops a Warren G. Harding reference that I misread as a "Warren G" reference when they tweeted it out. Alas, these guys are still bandos and history teachers (I'm guessing, anyway) and we don't get to find out what bandos/teachers would say in re: Warren G and Michigan football. The Harding bit:

Harding was widely reviled for his incompetence, his willingness to let his friends do as they pleased, the general sense of fail that emanated White House followed him until his death in 1923. Except, when historians look back, they see that things were not as bad as they once thought. Harding was blamed when things went wrong, but got little to no credit for the things that went right. People saw what they wanted to see and argued their points as they chose a new path to their future. Then again, Harding never got America bowl eligible, so we'll see.

Chances Sarah Palin adopts "get America bowl eligible" as a campaign slogan: 50-50. The Big House Blog has a very silly picture of a dog in a poncho and The Wolverine Blog grabs a shot of Lewan rumbling with the ball.


Dear Diary Hands Over the Badge

Dear Diary Hands Over the Badge Comment Count

Seth November 14th, 2010 at 6:34 PM

Purdue2 Purdue

Second photo courtesy of

Dear Diary,

Someone (*cough* Penn State) once said that Michigan fans act as if our team is playing only itself, i.e we attribute all good things to great Michigan play, all bad things to bad Michigan play; Good luck = return to the mean; Bad luck = somebody on Mount Olympus with a bug up his ass.

Well, today is not that day.

Throughout Saturday, I kept envisioning 3rd-and-7 Denard side-arms or Tate scrambly moxie-ducks turning into the Pick-Six that finally put the Boilermakers ahead. At no point however, even with the worst Michigan defense of my lifetime on the field, did I think our 4-point lead was actually in danger from Purdue's offense, especially after Hope got the silly idea that he should try passing the ball.

I am hereby opening up the MGoWarehouse and donating all of our leftover, unused boxes of

patches to the good people in Black and Gold who managed to depart Ross-Ade Stadium after 3:30 p.m. yesterday without kicking a cat. Don't worry about stocks running low: there's about 90,000 left from the people who walked out of a one-score 2008 Michigan-Northwestern knowing the combination of a sleet monsoon and a mediocre Big Ten defense was too much for an offense made of broken down car parts, duct tape, and the guy in the front row eating fat free pretzels. It happens.

This was 2008 all over again, except it was happening to someone else. At least Danny Hope kind of deserves it.

As for our offense, I'll abide by ruling of the UFRs but my take on the game was that the containment of Rich Rod's Traveling Flag Football Stars and Spread Kings (for lack of a better barnstorming nickname) was about 10 percent Denard's increasingly worrisome accuracy issues (diary by papabear16), 45 percent whatever pissed off Poseidon, and 45 percent Ryan Kerrigan = Brandon Graham only maybe better at football.

Nuclear Disarmament Poll

My personal meme for Jonas Mouton has been to compare him to some sort of devastating yet unstable goblin weapon that is capable of causing unfair levels of damage to your opponent, but so long as he is on your side there is an almost equally likely chance that he will explode spectacularly on friendly targets. In video games and the like I have generally avoided such weapons, then become enraged when they're used against me to effectiveness.

After seeing Mark Moundros trying to fill Mouton's spot for one game – a game by the way that featured the statistically best defensive performance of the year – I'm ready to go back to Weapon X. The UFR will know for sure, but the supposedly stable Moundros didn't really differentiate himself that much from Obi Ezeh on live watch. I'm interested to know what you folks think. Poll time:

If Mouton's not available, who do you want at WLB against Wisconsin/Ohio State?

Public Service Announcements

Before moving on to the others, a couple of abuses of power public service announcements:


Last year I was very proud to see the visible level of MGoInvolvement in this annual charity event. Basically we go to two Detroit homeless shelters on Saturday, Dec. 4, and throw a Christmas party for the kids while the parents shop for gifts among donated items. We need volunteers and gift donations, and specifically I am casting about for a functional photo printer and a place that makes bagels who would like to donate bagels for 200 people, maybe plus cream cheese but I won't press that. One thing you can do is buy a gift on Amazon (which gives Brian credit) and have it sent to one of the parties.



    Help Design Officially Officious History Dept. T-Shirts

    4mkmnoq2History majors, remember when you were spending 90 percent of your life reading coursepacks and deleting e-mails from Kathy Evaldson?

    Kathy is still there, and is currently trying to get a good design locked down so new History students can walk around in cool t-shirts. Current plans are to have them available for alums/current students on a specific time and day because they really don't have the time to get into shipping and selling online. The ones they are currently considering are pathetic, but Kathy has given MGoBloggers a shot at coming up with better. Get something to Kathy by November 17 to have your design put in.

    Recruiting Fans: I….I Didn't Know.

    Listen to Yourself


    Saginaw native and Tennessee commit DeAnthony Arnett is taking his talents out of Michigan, but not before giving the closest followers of his recruitment the Randall Monroe treatment. The four-star receiver spent his commitment eve posting twitvids of him committing to all of the following:

    • USC
    • Michigan
    • Central Michigan
    • Tennessee
    • Slippery Rock
    • The University of Michigan State
    • University of Cal

    The kicker: on the last video DeAnthony unveils what I'm pretty sure is, verbatim, the script for the entire production, which was taken directly from Internet message boards:

    To everyone who filled threads on this site and elsewhere with responses to the effect of "Arnett's an attention whore," I think you're wrong: he's just clever and has an ironic sense of humor. In fact, just to spite you all, and because this is bar none the best mockery I've seen yet of the Internet's sordid obsession with college football recruiting (in which I'm a participant), I'm naming DeAnthony the Diarist of the Week.

    What, like the MGoDiarists didn't have anything good this week?

    Oh, they did…

    Things Strategic/Tactical/Fundamental

    If wasn't being a dick and giving the award to a future Tennessee wide receiver, it would have gone to maizedandconfused for his Must-Read analysis on tackling over UConn, ND, MSU, and Iowa:

    A few notes from the individual analysis:

    • Kovacs is by far our best tackler, with Mouton, Johnson and surprisingly Gordon #15 as the 2,3,4 respectively. 
    • Of the guys on this list, the biggest surprise was Martin, however I think it is important to remember that this tackling eff. calculation puts weight on total tackles made, and Martin gets doubled. A lot. (in review of my stats, Martin only missed 3 tackles total, with 2 by bad form)
    • In the two games Demens played, he was an absolute tackling machine.
    • Ezeh really cannot tackle.

    Of course tackling doesn't do any good if the opponent has an eligible receiver on your 1-yard line and your nearest defender is in the Delta Quadrant.


    I claim this great expanse in the name of Lincoln

    Hey, remember when RB wheel routes were hand-wavingly open against us and stuff? Well dnak438 wasn't about to wait for Brian or other Brian or Not a Girl Named Brian to picture-page the thing and took the initiative

    Avery, meanwhile, has taken the outside receiver into the center of the field.  T. Gordon doesn't stay with LeShoure, presumably because he sees Pollard in the flat. The result is that LeShoure is wide open.

    It's a two-for-one PP, as both the original and the just-as-awful sequel make it in:

    Same mistake as Wheel of Doom #1: Avery (red arrow) is following the inside receiver who is running a post, leaving vast amounts of green behind him. Mouton is on the 13 yard line, stopping the in route of the outside receiver.

    For the record, the lady with the shrill voice in my section who finds things "UNACCEPTABLE" found both of these plays "UNACCEPTABLE." Shrill Lady is angry, Mr. Robinson; what are you going to do about it?

    And because we can't get enough of Picture Pages around here, Chris of Dangerous Danger Logic that is Dangerful (We're from Danger!) has obliged us with two more Moving Picture Pages this week, one on the Snag Package, and another on Michigan's adjustment to Illinois blitzing behind the optioned DE.

    While we're on tactics, Blue_n_Aww takes a look at whether Michigan should have gone for two points after scoring in the 2nd overtime:

    I did a bit of research and found a study that showed that the team that starts on defense wins about 52.25% of the time in the third overtime and later. You can find the study here. And, looking at M’s kicking statistics I’ve found that the team is 46/47 on extra point attempts, 98%. I used that for our success rate in this spot. So when we kick the extra point we’ll win .4775*.98= .468. So if we can convert the 2pt conversion 47% of the time, we should go for 2.

    papabear16, as linked above, discussed Denard's mechanical issues and how fixing those might make him a Heisman candidate again next year.

    We also get a collection of scrape and contain plays for discussion from tasnyder01, who, diary-wise, is still pretty raw, but he's starting to use the WYSIWYG. Campbellian patience is urged.

    Things Statistical

    Wow did things get stat-y this week. In chart form:




    Money Quote/Chart/Graphic

    Statistical Analysis of Defense During B10 Games - *Updated Through Purdue* matt D Compares the D performance in each game by metrics like Stop%, Pts/Drive, etc. 1
    Progress, Quantified Coach Schiano A real comparison btw '09 and '10 performance 2

    Communist Football's Almanack of Broken Records - Purdue Edition

    Communist Football Weekly update (as of Purdue) of records broken this year 3
    Illinois Recap: I was there when… The Mathlete PAN recap after Illinois game image
    What would Michigan look like with a better defense? The Mathlete The O can't get much better but if D is avg. how good are we?

    An offense at this level plus an average defense in the Big Ten will probably mean at least ten wins.

    Bradley-Terry Statistical Rating (KRACH) for FBS Football quakk Bradley-Terry method applied to BCS standings 4

    Grid of Expectation





    Over/Under: Michigan at Purdue jamiemac Vegas lines M, 41-31
    Purdue Preview The Mathlete Brings the PAN M, 35-30
    Week #10 National Rankings and Predictions for Purdue Enjoy Life Sagarin, Fremeau M – 4.8 pts.
    Post Week 10: Yardage Analysis and Predictions + Score Predictor tpilews YPP, PPD, etc. M, 48-24
    Preview: Purdue 2010 Brian
    M, 35-24
    Weather Charts on the NET NOAA Highs, Lows Yarrr!



    This epic diary from Billy Shears was front-paged because the guy who owns this blog is the kind of person who will constantly foist The Smiths on his friends because he has seen Morrissey's hidden genius and believes the rest of us will be able to listen to that crap and pick out the ideas that sparked alt rock and post punk while ignoring the bleeding of ears. Also: it really captures the feel of this season (right down to the part where you're squinting and trying imagine how these concepts will coalesce into a National Championship season eventually).

    Those who have been enjoying monuMental's weekly Windows backgrounds will delight to see how one of these artistic masterpieces comes together:

    bklein09 makes the case for Denard to win the Heisman this year, and a statistical glance like this does make a hell of a case. But the picks, man. The picks.


    Upon Further Review: Defense vs Northwestern

    Upon Further Review: Defense vs Northwestern Comment Count

    Brian November 21st, 2008 at 12:14 PM

    Again, no video because Viddler has blocked my account. I'll work on a locally hosted solution for next year.

    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Penalty False Start -- -5
    O14 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Penalty Hitch Ezeh 5
    Running back—wearing 80, more of a TE they've lined up in the backfield—runs a little hitch in front of the zone coverage; immediate tackle. No plus or minus.
    O19 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor 3
    Johnson(+0.5) gets playside of the center trying to reach block him and Taylor(+0.5) evades a cut block; Simmons has to bounce it outside the tackle, where Ezeh(+0.5) runs him down.
    O22 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Penalty Post Brown Int
    Bacher drops back and has little time as a stunt has gotten Graham(+1, pressure +1) in up the middle; he threatens to sack. Bacher chucks it on a post that Brown(+3) has read, jumped, and intercepted. He returns it to the eight. (cover +2)
    Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O20 1 10 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel Run QB sweep Ezeh 3
    Kafka in and they're running, attempting to go off tackle. I'm not sure if this a good play from Jamison or not. He shoots way, way upfield, forcing Kafka inside of him but also opening up a major hole. Johnson(+0.5) has absorbed a double team as the playside DT, though, so Ezeh(+0.5) can flow to the ball unimpeded. He does, forcing Kafka into Harrison's arms.
    O23 2 7 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Cross Mouton Inc
    NW's RB, lined up as a slot in a bunch formation, starts dragging on a crossing route, which Mouton(+1) reads and attacks, blowing up the receiver just as the ball arrives. (Cover +1)
    O23 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Rollout – hitch -- Inc
    Northwestern rolls out, with Graham(+0.5) fighting his way through two blockers to force Bacher up the field; unfortunately there's no one to follow up the pressure(-1). Bacher does find a receiver open for first down yardage, but ends up chucking it low; the receiver drops it.
    Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q. Odoms muffs the punt and Northwestern gets it right back.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Counter Harrison 5
    Northwestern's line starts blocking to the left; the RB takes the handoff and sprints right, trying to get outside the tackle. Harrison(-0.5) reads it a little late and gets himself in a bad position—he's given the slot receiver an angle to block him—but recovers decently from that mistake; Stewart(-0.5) overruns it a bit, allowing the RB to spin through his tackle and gain a few more yards.
    M34 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Bubble screen Warren 6 + 15 pen
    Sort of, anyway. NW will run this screen several times for good yardage. It relies on a play action fake to the RB holding the LB inside as the outside WR runs what looks like a five yard hitch before blocking the CB; on this play Mouton(-0.5) bites on the fake and Warren(-0.5) fails to get off his block, allowing first down yardage. (Cover -1). Bonus: a facemask penalty.
    M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor 1
    Taylor(+2) stands up his blocker, who slips to the turf, then disengages to engulf the RB.
    M14 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Sack Jamison -9
    Jamison(+2) beats the LT around the edge, immediately; Bacher tries to scramble out but is confronted by Graham(+1) coming around the other edge; he tries to reverse field and gets hit by a passing Jamison, falling. (Pressure +2)
    M21 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Draw Ezeh 21
    Michigan's not even blitzing on this! Johnson(-1) somewhat overaggressive and ends up blown down the line; Ezeh(-1) for some reason decides to slow up and fails to take on the blocker such that the RB has to bounce into Harrison, providing a crease; Brown(-2) whiffs on the tackle on the second level. This missed tackle is the difference in this game: NW had many opportunities to blow this same play and made every tackle.
    Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O11 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read keeper Graham -2
    I think this is supposed to go well outside with both slot receivers to the trips side blocking down on Graham and Harrison, but this just ends up with Graham(+1) unblocked and crushing Bacher. I don't think that's the way that is supposed to work.
    O9 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Counter Graham 0
    Same play they ran as the first play of the last drive. This time Graham(+1) is outside of the tackle and well upfield, which forces a cutback into various unblocked folks.
    O9 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run Draw Ezeh 3
    Ezeh(+1), blitzing, slams into a guard and drives him back, getting to the correct side of him and forcing the RB to bounce it out, where he is run out of bounds.
    Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 5 min 1st Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Bubble screen Brown 4
    Warren reads it and tries to jump on it but NW's receiver is there to clock him; Brown(+0.5) reads this quickly and helps close it down.
    O24 2 6 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read keeper counter(?) Jamison 11
    The counter they've been running with a twist: the QB makes a handoff fake, then keeps, then runs the same way the RB does, using him as a lead blocker. Jamison(-1) crashes down, giving up contain, and Harrison(-1) gets caught inside; there's a crease between outside receivers and it's a first down.
    O35 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor 2
    Martin(+0.5) slants inside the guard and is pretty blatantly held; no call. Taylor(+1) fights down the line, closing off the hole, and tackles.
    O37 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Counter draw Taylor 6
    Michigan blitzing; the linebackers have run upfield so once NW is through the line they've got some room. Martin(-1) booted out of the intended hole and Taylor(-1) cut to the ground; crease right up the middle.
    O43 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Inside zone Martin 0
    Martin(+2) takes on a double, giving some ground at first before suddenly splitting it. He bursts into the backfield and tackles; Taylor(+1) held up to his man and there's no way the RB can fall forward.
    Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 13 min 2nd Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O26 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Sack Johnson -6
    Johnson(+3) blows back his guy, disengaging and sacking up the middle; good push from both DEs prevented Bacher from going anywhere (pressure +2).
    O20 2 16 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Inside zone Taylor 1
    Taylor and Johnson both stand up to their doubles; Mouton takes the opportunity provided by the late release of Taylor's second blocker and slashes into the hole; Graham sets up and disengages as the RB nears the line; nowhere to go. +0.5 for all.
    O21 3 15 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Draw Taylor 0
    Taylor(+1) again stands up a momentary double, then pushes his guy a couple yards into the backfield, directly into the RB's path. Mouton(+1) reads, reacts too fast for the OL to get out on him, and closes it down when Simmons tries to bounce.
    Drive Notes: Blocked Punt(TD return), 14-7, 7 min 2nd Q. Michael Williams blocks the punt; Ricky Reyes scores el touchdown.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Circle Mouton 7
    Play action stretch gets Mouton(-1) to step the wrong way and opens up this little circle route that the TE turns up for good yardage. (Cover -1)
    O44 2 3 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel Run Jet sweep Jamison 0
    I guess. Weird that this goes to the short side of the field. Jamison(+1) blows his guy back off the ball, forcing the WR to cut inside of him, where Mouton(+1) has slashed past a downfield blocker and tackles authoritatively.
    O44 3 3 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Hitch Warren 8
    A bunch formation here but all the fancy stuff goes away and NW just runs a hitch in front of Warren(-1, cover -1) for the first down.
    M48 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Post Brown Inc
    Good pocket for Bacher as Johnson drops off into a short zone and there are only three rushers (pressure -1); he steps up and fires a post route that Brown(+2, cover +1) jumps and breaks up impressively.
    M48 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Bubble screen Warren 8
    Warren(-1) manages to get his guy upfield after an initial bail into cover three, but doesn't get to the sideline and allows the WR to slip by him, turning three yards into eight.
    M40 3 2 Shotgun 2TE Nickel Run QB power Graham 5
    This is basically Michigan State's running game with guards pulling around and whatnot; Graham(-1) fails to read the play, staying too far outside, and does not bounce the play; there's room for the first.
    M35 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Fly Warren Inc
    Jamison is basically tackled as he rounds the LT; no call. He does cause Bacher to flush up in the pocket a bit and throw it deep; Warren(+1, cover +1) is running step for step for the WR and it's wildly overthrown anyway.
    M35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run Zone read stretch Graham -4
    I think they're baiting NW into a run here; they'll do this again. Okay, three man line which gets gashed all the time, right? So they put it in and wait for the playcall, then tighten the splits such that you're really looking at 3 DT look here with no one lined up wide except for linebacker/safety types. Snap is high and that delays things; Graham(+2) has used his advantageous position on the tackle to blow past him and into the backfield, where he makes a major TFL. Credit to Shafer on this one.
    M39 3 14 Shotgun trips Okie Run Zone read dive Ezeh 0
    Michigan sends two blitzers to the playside, one intent on the QB, the other selling out on the RB. It's handoff so it's Ezeh(+1) who gets to smash the RB at the LOS.
    Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 3 min 2nd Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O40 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read dive Mouton -1
    Mouton(+2) evades the releasing center and shoots into the gap, tackling Simmons for loss. NW says halftime.
    Drive Notes: Half, 14-7, EOH.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    M40 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Improv -- 20
    Johnson(+1) beats the center on a small slant and gets pressure up the middle, forcing Bacher to flush. (Pressure +1). He gets outside Graham and just as he's approaching the sideline finds a receiver who's broken open five yards past Trent(-1, cover -1) at the sideline. Great throw and catch follow.
    M20 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Hitch -- 10
    Triple bunch to the bottom of the screen; excellent timing between the receivers and Bacher finds Lane open(cover -1) between Harrison and Ezeh. This is excellent timing against a zone and it's hard to fault either player.
    M10 1 G Shotgun empty Okie Pass Sack Harrison -7
    NW attempts to snap it fast as Michigan is changing personnel late and they hope to get a flag or a misalignment or something; this backfires as Harrison(+2) moves up to the line right before the snap to blitz and NW busts the pickup, allowing him a free backside run at Bacher a sack results. (Pressure +2)
    M17 2 G Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass Flag Stewart Inc
    This is wide open as Stewart(-1) is toasted in man coverage(-1), but Bacher overthrows it.
    M17 3 G Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Post -- 17
    Okay. I again have to bitch about this coverage. It's third and goal from the 17, and Michigan drops a DL into a short zone instead of having him rush the QB. Furthermore, there are three or four defenders well short of the endzone when this is thrown. I don't get it. This is a post; Warren(-1) beaten, as well as the safety and the linebacker (cover -2), touchdown.
    Drive Notes: Touchdown,14-14, 11 min 3rd Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O34 1 10 ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? 5
    Copy of tape doesn't have this play.
    O39 2 5 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor 2
    Taylor(+1) completely defeats the attempt to reach block him and sits in the hole ready to crush the RB as he reaches the LOS; he does so. Help from Graham(+0.5), too; Taylor suplexes the RB to end the play. Oh snap.
    O41 3 3 Shotgun empty Okie Pass Out Harrison 5
    Again they shift into tight splits before the snap and blitz, getting Graham in unblocked; Harrison(-1) is beaten on an out route and NW converts. (Cover -1)
    O46 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Post ??? 54
    I don't think this is the fault of either safety, as NW is running four verticals and both Brown and Stewart are trying to cover other otherwise wide open receivers. Either on Harrison or Trent; Harrison was the guy who let Peterman run right by him and Trent was the guy who let the outside receiver go, forcing Stewart to head over there maybe. Actually, maybe this is on Stewart because usually you want to make the QB go outside, right, instead of giving him a super-easy throw over the middle? I don't know. I do know this: (cover -4). Watch the replay: the LT gets his arm all the way around Jamison's shoulder and clotheslines him, basically.
    Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-21, 9 min 3rd Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O23 1 10 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel Pass Hitch Trent 8
    Michigan in man coverage; Trent(-1) beaten for an easy completion. (Cover -1)
    O31 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Slant Mouton Inc
    Blitz gets Mouton(+1) in unblocked and forces Bacher to throw off his back foot; the pass is short and bounces in front of the receiver. (Pressure +1)
    O31 3 2 Shotgun 2TE Nickel Run QB draw Taylor 0
    Taylor(+1) stands his guy up, driving him back; Ezeh(+0.5) shoots into a couple blockers near the LOS, creating a wad of bodies, and Van Bergen(+0.5) maintains good position; Bacher tries to cut outside everyone and gets nothing.
    Drive Notes: Punt, 14-21, 6 min 3rd Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O35 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Hitch -- Inc
    Bacher finds a receiver open underneath Michigan's zone on a quick hitch; said receiver drops the ball, nearly batting it to Trent. (Cover -1)
    O35 2 10 Shotgun trips Okie Run Zone read dive Van Bergen 1
    Major gap between one DE and the DT; NW attempts to run at it. The gap appears way open, but for some reason the RB cut back into Van Bergen(+1), who slanted into the backfield, and a blitzing Mouton.
    O35 3 9 Shotgun trips Okie Pass Fly Warren 19
    Michigan sending six but doesn't really have to as Taylor(+1) smokes the center and gets in on Bacher immediately; he has to chuck. The ball is well short, one of those back-shoulder throws, and the receiver adjusts while Warren(-1) does not. (Cover -1, pressure +1.) Maybe that minus is a little harsh; this is a tough throw to deal with as a DB.
    M46 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Hitch Trent 5
    Trent a bit better on this quick hitch, tackling immediately and preventing any YAC.
    M41 2 5 Shotgun empty Okie Pass Bubble screen -- Inc
    Dropped by NW; Van Bergen gets a penalty for not getting off the field in time.
    M36 2 In Shotgun trips Okie Run Zone read dive Mouton 1
    Replay of the other dive on this drive with Michigan seemingly inviting this play; Mouton(+0.5) reacts quickly, standing up the OL and cutting off any hole, and Martin(+1) beats his guy down the line to tackle. Still a first down because they had like six inches to go.
    M35 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Improv -- 4
    Bacher drops back and finds no one open (cover +1) despite having good time (pressure -1); when pressure does come he rolls out and looks for all the world like he's chuck the ball away but actually finds a receiver for a few yards. WTF, yo.
    M31 2 6 ??? Nickel Pass Rollout – out -- Inc
    Well overthrown, apparently because of good pressure(+1); can't make much out because they come back to this play late.
    M31 3 6 Shotgun trips Okie Pass     Inc
    This is another one of those maddening two man rushes with a D dropping into a short spy zone that I dislike. Bacher hesitates because it looks like the first read is covered(+1), at which point Jamison(+0.5) fights his way to Bacher. Bacher happens to be throwing the ball when this happens and the resulting ball is into the sidelines.
    Drive Notes: Punt(!!!), 14-21, 2 min 3rd Q. !!!
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O33 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read dive Johnson 1
    Johnson(+1) takes on a blocker and beats him to the inside, forcing the RB to attempt to take it between Taylor and Graham, where there is not much of a hole. Mouton is about to thump the RB when Johnson tackles from behind. +0.5 to Taylor and Jamo and another +0.5 to Johnson.
    O34 2 9 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Rollout – hitch -- 11
    Geez, Graham(+1) blows past a tackle and obliterates the RB, forcing Bacher to pull up and attempt a jump pass instead of complete his rollout. This jump pass is accurate! And open! And a first down. Argh! (Pressure +1, cover -1.) Bacher has made some excellent plays in this game; the gap in ability between the respective QBs is vast.
    O46 1 10 Shotgun trips Okie Pass Fly Mouton Inc
    Mouton(+1) sent on a blitz and jukes the RB, getting in unblocked. Bacher attempts the fly route but is getting hit as he throws; OOB. (Pressure +1) Good coverage from Warren(+1, cover +1)
    O46 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Johnson 7
    Johnson(-1) slashes between a couple defenders and gets in unblocked; he's unable to pull up fast enough, though, and the RB gets around him. When you have an unblocked DT who does not make a tackle there's usually a lot of room behind him, and that's the case here.
    M48 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass TE out Warren Int
    TE out marginally open in front of Mouton—hard to defend this in man—and Bacher hits him about two yards downfield; the ball ricochets to Warren(+1), who intercepts it and runs for a touchdown except a referee blows it dead because he hates me.
    Drive Notes: Interception, 14-21, 13 min 4th Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run QB sweep Harrison 0
    Not even a ball fake here, just the RB heading to the side he would if he was getting a stretch handoff and Harrison biting on it. I think the NW TE screws up, though, hesitating, and this allows Harrison to get the edge on him, causing Bacher to cut it back into a chasing Johnson(+0.5). I guess +0.5 to Harrison, too.
    O20 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Fly Warren Inc (Pen+15)
    Both linebackers come; a singled Taylor(+1) powers past the center and threatens to sack, causing Bacher to chuck it. Warren is in good coverage; Ward catches it OOB. (Cover +1, pressure +1) Oh, wait, Taylor(-2, erase the +1) got a roughing the passer call.
    O35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Mouton 4
    Not much fault in the defense here, IMO. Mouton(+0.5) again hops past the guy intending to block him and gets into the hole to meet Simmons, doing so after about a yard, but Taylor and the OL are falling into them now and the whole pile lurches forward; Simmons finds his feet and manages to squirt for a couple.
    O39 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Mouton 0
    Mouton(+1) again flies by the OL attempting to block him and right into the intended hole; Simmons cuts back, meeting Ezeh(+1) and the pair tackle.
    O39 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run QB draw Martin 4
    NW blocking down on Martin and pulling a guard into a big gap occupied only by Mouton; Mouton attacks, getting outside of the pulling guard and forcing him back upfield; no chance of actually shutting down the hole. Martin(+0.5) has spun free of the down block but can't close it down; he does force it into Johnson, who tackles short of the sticks.
    Drive Notes: Punt, 14-21, 7 min 4th Q.
    Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
    O34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Taylor 7
    Q: why on God's green earth does Michigan not have a safety in the box? Eh. Anyway, Taylor(-1) fights inside of his blocker when it looks like Simmons will try to shoot it up there but in doing so provides a cutback lane that Mouton can't hope to fill because his gap was the one Taylor is moving into; no safety help and Simmons gets a good gain.
    O41 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Graham 0
    Graham(+2) blows back the tackle, shoots inside of him, and tackles from behind as Johnson(+1) had shoved his man back and forced Simmons to take a looping path around him.
    O41 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Rollout – scramble Ezeh 0
    Intended to be a throw but Ezeh(+1) blitzes, beating the guard and forcing Bacher upfield, he decides to take off, where Jamison and others close him down. (Pressure +1)
    Drive Notes: Punt, 14-21, 2 min 4th Q.

    I'm so confused.

    I am also so confused.



    Defensive Line
    Player + - T Notes
    Jamison 4 0.5 3.5 Good
    Johnson 9.5 - 9.5 Excellent
    Taylor 9.5 2 7.5 Excellent
    Graham 10.5 - 10.5 Excellent
    Patterson - - -  
    Butler - - -  
    Van Bergen 1.5 - 1.5  
    Martin 4 1 3  
    TOTAL 29 3.5 26.5 Dude.
    Player + - T Notes
    Ezeh 6.5 - 6.5 Hey, wow.
    Thompson - - - DNP
    Panter - - -  
    Evans - - -  
    Mouton 9.5 1.5 8 Monster day, best of his career. Really got freed up to attack and constantly shot past guys trying to block him.
    TOTAL 16 1.5 14.5 Encouraging.
    Player + - T Notes
    Trent - 2 -2  
    Harrison 3 2 1  
    Warren 3 4.5 -1.5 Eh.
    Cissoko - - - DNP.
    Dutch - - -  
    Stewart 0.5 1 -0.5  
    Brown 5.5 2 3.5 Two pass breakups, one of them an INT, and one huge missed tackle.
    Williams -   -  
    TOTAL 12 11.5 0.5 Caveat approaching.
    "Pressure" 14 3 11 Virtually unblockable.
    "Coverage" 8 17 -9 Back to it again.

    A schizophrenic day from the defense. You can see the huge numbers put up by the front six, and they're deserved. Northwestern ran for 2.4 YPC excluding sacks and Michigan got to Bacher three times. Michigan picked off Bacher twice. When Bacher passed and was not sacked he was usually making a throw in the face of heavy pressure; on several occasions he made plays where you throw your hands up and say "if he's going to do that, more power to him." Outside of those plays and the three enormous disasters, Michigan's D obliterated Northwestern.

    Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

    Well, yeah.

    So what happened on the three disaster plays?

    Disaster one was the third and eighteen draw from the twenty-one that went for a touchdown. There were a couple of errors that allowed the RB through the line, but that's to be expected on third and forever. Then Brown comes up way too fast, overruns the play, and sends the RB into the endzone. Brown ended up with a net positive because he made two other big plays, one INT and a pass breakup, but that's quintessential Brown: poor angles and poor awareness of the situation on the field.

    Disaster two was third and goal from the seventeen. Michigan ends up rushing three with Will Johnson dropping into a short zone, and playing zone behind it. Remarkably, on third and seventeen Michigan does not get sufficient zone drops from Harrison and Ezeh and the post opens up. This, too, has been a bugaboo all year.

    Disaster three was the long touchdown that is definitely someone's fault, but whose? Varsity Blue went inside the play and tentatively settled on Stewart. GSimmons had a take I agree with:

    Stewart might have over played the fade...impossible to tell if Trent has lost on the fade or not, i would bet he did, since he sometimes has a tendency to over play the shallow in cover two, so he can get those big hits he lies to do underneath.. you can see warren at the top of the screen doing a good job of carrying the fade, even if Trent is within arms length Stewart shouldn't be over playing number 1 that hard, especially with three vertical threats to your side.

    but i put a lot of blame on Harrison for not holding the vertical of number 2.... if the guy will do anything to at least get in between the receiver and the passer, he could at least discourage a throw, forced a bad throw, or at least forced a higher throw which probably wouldn't have helped since Stewart was so far away. a common theme all year of holding inside verticals... first OLB's now nickel backers.... of course the easy thing to do is to blame the free safeties and corners, but often times are coverage problems have been due to lb's.. or perceived lb weaknesses being in the back of the mind of safeties and corners...

    This goes back to the safeties (Stewart way out wide) and dodgy play from the corners. Also a problem all year.

    West Virginia fans were none too enamored with Tony Gibson as a DBs coach; is he a problem?

    The correct answer, as per usual, is "I don't know," but I also don't think so. Michigan had one all conference safety since 1999: Ernest Shazor, and that was based more on one spectacular, Dorien Bryant decapitation than his actual play on the field, which you will no doubt remember was responsible for such things as "Deandra Cobb 80 Yard Touchdown 1" and "Deandra Cobb 80 Yard Touchdown 2." Shazor entered the draft early and was completely passed over. Until Jamar Adams managed to stick on the Seahawks' practice squad, the only Michigan safeties who made it to even the periphery of the NFL (Hendricks and Cato June) got moved to linebacker.

    This is the long way of saying that Michigan has a rich history of horrific safety play and that there must have been something wrong in the recruiting and development of them during the Carr era.

    Meanwhile, Ryan "Yards After" Mundy transfers to West Virginia and suddenly becomes a competent starter on a good defense. Then he gets drafted by the NFL. One player who was a safety at Michigan was drafted to play safety in the NFL in the entire Carr era: Charles Drake, the #240 pick in the 2003 draft.

    Yeah. We got problems. I think the overall trend at safety will be upward.


    The entire defensive line was excellent save Jamison, who was just okay; Mouton had the best day of his career and Ezeh did decently, too.


    Probably Stewart, maybe Harrison and Trent.

    What does it mean for 2009?

    Well, the bad news: as we approach the end of 2008 I think we can say that the defensive line actually lived up to the hype. These guys are really good, and at least three of them will be gone. Mike Martin looks like a great prospect, but I think he'll prove mediocre at best as a sophomore starter. When you can surround a sophomore DT with two guys who require massive attention you can get away with it (see: Terrance Taylor, 2006), but unless Graham comes back Martin will be the #1 priority of opposing defenses and it's the rare sophomore indeed that can deal with that kind of pressure.

    On that topic: please, Brandon, come back.

    The good news: man, was Jonas Mouton good in this game. He consistently shot past blockers and into the backfield, reminding this observer of Larry Foote and Ian Gold. He's got the recruiting accolades and consistently improved over the course of the year. He still needs work in coverage; other than that I don't think you could have painted a rosier picture at WLB as the year comes to an end.

    Also, Stevie Brown remains Stevie Brown, ready to implode at any given moment, but at least in this game he made a couple of good plays to offset the one he gave up. Maybe you can see the tiniest bits of progress in his season to date? Maybe we can foresee a guy who gets to be Ryan Mundy next year?

    Best not to get your hopes up about that.