This Week's Obsession: The Best Game

This Week's Obsession: The Best Game

Submitted by Ace on July 11th, 2014 at 2:14 PM

The question this week is a simple one. Of the Michigan games you've attended, which one is your favorite, and what makes it stand out so much?

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Seth: I've got so many Michigan memories with my dad that I can't separate (or I'm just not ready to think about) them, but even if I could it would still be the one when I started going without him that sticks out: The '98 Penn State game.

It was a chilly, kind of overcast, sweatshirty Michigan fall afternoon and I was a first-year flying solo. My freshman year came right after the national championship and the "Halo" stadium expansion, and that meant fewer student seats available with way too much demand. The freshmen were at the bottom of that list, thus I wound up with the option of getting only a "half-pack" or no tickets. Since I went to all the games with my dad and his friends anyway, what did it matter? So it wasn't until the PSU game, when my dad wasn't going, and Steve Kyritz offered me his ticket, that I got to see my first game from the student section. Since I'd been informed not sitting in your seat was SOP in that mass of human bodies, I wound up squeezed and standing sideways on a bench in the 30-somethings.

And it was a hell of a game to do that. That PSU team was very good (they came in ranked #9) and the last time we'd faced them was Judgment Day/Party at Bollinger's House. Michigan was still floundering in the #20s because of the two losses to open the season.

What made the day was each time Penn State got near us they'd get blown back by three sections of 18- to 21-year old raging psychotics possessed of toilet paper rolls and marshmallows. The Nits didn't arrive until later in the 1st quarter, and Michigan blocked a FG. They came down again and Michigan stood them up on the goal line three times before PSU let time expire in the quarter to get the hell away from us (they didn't get in on 4th down either). In the 4th quarter Penn State kept getting pinned deep against us, and the linemen couldn't hear the calls, meaning we were treated to a TFL fest. Michigan won 27-0 and by Mondaywas back in the top 15.

Michigan with my dad was this paced thing we enjoyed like a baseball game while he and his best friend worked through their complicated lives. His standard cheer was a clap-clap-fistpump. PSU '98 was the first time I experienced the Big House as a visceral thing I did with my whole body. I still sat with my dad at least a game a year, but when it came time to sign up for '99 student tickets I was one of the first in line.

The Mathlete: I don't think that was the real ticket, I didn't see the official game sponsor noted anywhere.

[Hit THE JUMP for the obvious answer, a far less obvious answer, and one that falls somewhere in the middle.]

Unverified Voracity Sees Jon Merrill's Pores

Unverified Voracity Sees Jon Merrill's Pores

Submitted by Brian on June 21st, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Great. Let's never do this again. Because it's June and someone had a pretty good idea for June, the Big Ten Network had its own awards show. They named Denard Robinson the breakout player and possessor of the "most dominant performance," that his 500+ yards against Notre Dame. Michigan 67, Illinois 65 was Game of the Year:

There wasn't much competition—the other candidates were Wisconsin's 13-point win over OSU and a basketball game.

Something interesting might happen next time. The NCAA hockey rules committee didn't do much other than the bi-annual point of emphasis about this or that (this time around it's hits to unsuspecting players and diving), but there are four interesting things under consideration for the next cycle:

  • Four-on-four OT. This is "strongly" under consideration along with other methods to get a winner including a lengthened OT period. Shootouts will continue to be allowed, but support for mandating them is "limited."
  • Awarding obviously imminent goals if the net is dislodged by the defense. This may be in direct response to an event at the Big Chill:

    Michigan State did score, though. They put in a power play goal when a puck deflected high off Hunwick and fluttered to the goal line to be batted in, but a nanosecond before that happened Hunwick fell into the net and knocked it off. While the refs got the call right, it was totally unfair: you definitely scored, you didn't do anything to get the net off, and you still get nothing. They should probably change it so that if your goal is imminent when the defense knocks the net off you still get it.

    I'm in favor, obviously.

  • Dumping cages for visors. This is mostly to look as cool as CHL players. Red was in favor of this, IIRC, but I have a hard time seeing it pass in the safety-first NCAA.
  • Allowing hand passes everywhere or disallowing them entirely. At first blush allowing hand-passes in the defensive zone only does look weird but I think this is one of those rules that evolved over time to be the least annoying option. Allowing a guy on the ground to slide a puck to a teammate for a goal seems ridiculous to me; banning defensive-zone hand passes will just mean more whistles since players will do it anyway. The alternative—an ugly turnover by a guy not in position to recover—is worse.

Sadly, the hockey rules committee remains ignorant to the existential threat posed by too many offsides whistles.

Hockey now plz. That exhibition against a Canadian team is going to be the most exciting exhibition against a Canadian team ever:

yost-scoreboard

Brandon uber alles. I hope to yell "I CAN SEE YOUR PORES, WHICH ARE CALM AND EXCELLENT PORES, LET ME TELL YOU" at Jon Merrill next year.

Yost yesterday, Yost today, Yost tomorrow, Yost forever. It's kind of a duh statement to make after Yost has just had its fifth renovation since the mid-90s approved, this one a 14-million-dollar one, but Yost Ice Arena is not going anywhere. Red:

“I think Michigan has been really happy with our building and our program for the most part and they’d like to maintain that at this point,” Berenson added. “I think they like Yost so much that they don’t see a reason to build another building. And so, if we like Yost that much, well then why don’t we fix it up?”

This renovation costs twice as much as the other four combined and with the new scoreboard is a definitive statement Yost is the future for the hockey program for at least the next 20 years.

This might be surprising coming from a guy who is militantly pro-tradition, but I have some mixed feelings about that. A lot of Yost's sightlines are sub-optimal and the weird overhang from the club seats/press box means the last few rows are surprisingly bad places to see a game in a 7,000 seat arena. That'll be even more true next year when people stuck in those seats are peering at the 90's-vintage tube TVs used as a substitute for the scoreboards. Whenever I go to Munn I think "this is a nice building even if it is filled with zombie monks" because there are many fewer bad seats.

I'm not sure if this is even possible but if they want to maintain the building as is without it being so cramped they might want to think about lowering the ice surface ten feet or so, which would allow them to reclaim those rows at the back of the arena and make the seating steeper to provide better viewing angles.

Let's destroy college baseball to save it. Man, Jim Delany has some crazy ideas about college baseball:

Perception says the Big Ten doesn't care about baseball. But no administrator in America has pressed harder to revamp the system. Delany's biggest ideas:

• Adopt a national start date in March or April and move the season deeper into summer.

• Devalue the RPI, which favors Sun Belt schools.

• Ditch the current method of national seeding and return to regional qualification for the College World Series.

College baseball's answer: No. No. No.

Then, last summer, Delany formally proposed the CWS move from eight teams to 10, with the two new slots reserved for cold-weather schools. Cold shoulder again.

“I've got no more proposals,” Delany told the World-Herald. “I'm out of ideas. What else can we possibly do?”

There is one alternative. Delany expresses interest — though he hasn't officially proposed it — in an even bolder plan: Secede from the South. Form a new college baseball division. Compete for a different national championship.

"Hey, guys, I know you think this is insane and want to spit on my grave, which is in Transylvania next to Joe Paterno's, but wait until you hear these proposed Division names…

wait for it…

wait for it…

this is so exciting…

Leotards and Leopards."

The article linked above follows that list of wacky ideas up with a lot of Southerners laughing at Jim Delany and telling him he's killing his conference by not allowing oversigning. Southerners reading this post may have just involuntarily done the "just like football clapclaplclap" chant.

BONUS WEIRD ITEM: Jim Delany's first presentation to the NCAA about equity in baseball was made one day before 9/11. #coincidenceithinknot

(HT: The Bylaw Blog.)

Etc.: TSN's final NHL draft rankings are a little more down on John Gibson than most—he's 37th, one spot in front of OHL defector Lucas Lessio—but surprisingly include D commit Brennan Serville at #60. They don't have a picture or explanation for this, but that's quite a rise from Canisius commitment to fringe second rounder.

Doctor Saturday profiles Nathan Scheelhaase, the main reason Illinois is a potentially frightening opponent next year. Eamonn Brennan on Michigan basketball's sudden turnaround. The Daily profiles Zach Hyman.

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Illinois

Submitted by Brian on November 11th, 2010 at 2:51 PM

[Ed-M: video problems now fixed.]

Formation notes: Nothing fancy from Michigan. I will note with pleasure the complete abolition of the I-form. Illinois took the ND approach by parking someone right over the slot receiver and either bringing a safety down or blitzing a corner or the slot LB to consistently generate seven man fronts. A presnap example:

snaghq-1

Substitution notes: Huyge again went the distance at RT. Shaw got more snaps than he has since his injury. Gallon appeared to eat most of Grady's snaps. Jeremy Jackson took up the Stokes role of WR who never gets thrown at.

And here we go, kids, the first (and hopefully last) 10k word post in MGoHistory:

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA slot seam Roundtree 75
Hey, that's a nice start. Illinois comes out with a guy over the slot receiver and will spend a big chunk of the game blitzing that guy off the corner for contain on Robinson while bringing the safety to that side down. On this one the slot LB does go with the bubble route; Roundtree is lined up inside of that. He goes straight downfield. One safety comes up in a robber zone as Illinois run blitzes; a linebacker comes free on the backside, then forms up(!) to contain, giving Robinson time to find Roundtree down the slot. Free safety was moving towards the centerfield zone, then bit on the run play, leaving Roundtree wide open (RPS +3). Denard hits him in the numbers 20 yards downfield and he's got a five yard head start on everyone. Touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 14 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB down G Robinson 4
This is supposed to go outside with Lewan pulling around the down block of Koger(-1), but Koger got beat badly and the playside DE shoots upfield. There's a massive cutback lane, though, because Molk(+2) got a great reach block on the playside DE and erased him. The backside DE is flowing down the line just like that picture pages I did earlier in the year, however, because Omameh is releasing downfield. Robinson makes a good cut but misses a huge cutback lane outside after Lewan(+1) clubs his guy, Robinson gets run down from the backside of the play, fumbling. Michigan loses a couple yards on the exchange.
RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Schilling RUN-: Koger, Robinson
M21 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Edge pitch decoy Robinson 2
We get to this play late so it's tough to tell what happens. Michigan fakes that edge pitch they ran a few times last year in the hopes of getting someone out of position but there are three UI players to two blockers in the area and there's no room. Looks like Huyge(-1) missed a block but don't hold me to that.
RUN+: RUN-: Huyge
M23 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 11
Michigan runs a snag concept. Linebacker drops deep on the seam/corner, giving Hemingway a pocket of space at the sticks. Robinson's a little late with the throw, which could hypothetically get him tackled short of the sticks but Hemingway does that little orbit step that gets him around the inside pursuit and sees him pick up 6-7 YAC. Nice play. Picture paged. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M34 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 13
They shoot the H-back to the backside on this; pretty typical inside zone for M. Illinois is using the slot LB as the contain guy so Webb doesn't really have anyone to block. Michigan's going at the gap between the weakside DE and DT on Illinois' overshifted line. Omameh(+1) momentarily doubles the playside DT to help Molk seal, then pops out on the MLB. Huyge(+1) walls off a crashing DE, giving Smith(+2) a crease that he sees and hits quickly. He then gets low and into the safety's shoulder, spinning off his tackle and turning five yards into 13. ZR+1.
M47 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 2
Lewan leaves a fraction early; the genesis of a later false start maybe. Schilling(-2) gets blown through like he isn't there on this one, sending Liuget into the backfield like a shot. Denard tries to take it outside but Liuget grabs him from behind, tackling for a short gain. Looked well defended otherwise but no one else seemed to get a good or bad block; mehs all around.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling(2)
M49 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Midline stretch Smith 8
DE reads the play and slants under Lewan, sending him into the second level and giving Schilling(+1) a tough task to shove him by the play; he does. Molk didn't get a seal this time but did a decent enough job to harry the playside DT; he can't make a diving tackle on Smith, and the edge is open because Lewan's(+1) mobility and size are match for Martez Wilson's. Smith(+1) downshifts past the mess and cuts outside, getting run down by a safety. ZR+1 with Liuget forming up on Robinson. Illinois is the team best prepared for this in the league, I bet.
RUN+: Smith, Lewan, Schilling RUN-:
O43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Midline keeper Robinson 2
The DT shuffles down the line and opens up a huge pocket of space; Denard keeps. Schilling gets a free release downfield and bashes the playside LB out of the play. Hooray beer? No, because Martez Wilson is exchanging with that LB and fills the hole. Michigan got baited. Robinson has to try the outside, which does not work very well. (RPS -1, but I'm not mad. That's clever. No ZR since I think Denard made the right read based on who he's reading.) Michigan drops the midline after this. It's clear the Illini are all over it.
O41 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree Inc
Michigan takes advantage of the crashing slot LB by rolling Denard to his side and having him pull up to hit a wide open Roundtree for first down yardage and possibly a lot more if he can break a tackle, but he drops a ball in his hands. Tree! Why Tree, why! (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O41 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Flare screen Smith Int
Guh. Illinois blitzes from the side of the field where the screen is going and there are a lot of M dudes out there and not a lot of Illini, but as Denard throws one of the blitzers bats it in the air, allowing Wilson to make an athletic interception. Is this just one of those things? Should I RPS-1 this? RPS+1? I don't know. Huge two-play swing there. (BA, 0, screen)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA TE seam Webb Int
Illinois changes it up a bit, with the safety coming down into the box and the slot guy staying on Roundtree. Michigan does the lead draw PA, shooting Webb wide open into the secondary as one safety is biting like a mofo and the other one is headed out to the slot. On replay: wow. Wow. This seriously could be a TD if accurate, but Robinson wings it over the head of Webb and Webb seems slow to react. It's not a throw he can't get a hand on at least. It zings by his head and the safety digs it out. Major missed opportunity. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 5 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Hopkins 32
Illinois blitzes the playside corner. Molk(+2) with another defense-debilitating reach block on the playside DT. He is D-E-D dead. Schilling(+1) releases into the MLB and cuts him to the ground; he's done too. Omameh(+1) releases into the second level and doesn't actually have to get a block but does eliminate the SLB; Hopkins has one cut and acres of grass. Stonum(+1) cuts the safety who's come over to cover him because of the blitz and Hopkins is off to the races. He loses the race because he's 230 pounds. Check the replay for super Molk pwnage.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Schilling, Stonum RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 6
So after this guy tries to get upfield and gets burned the poor bastard nose tackle (who I just looked up: RS FR Akeem Spence) gets murdered off the ball by a double team. Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) shove the guy three yards off the LOS and Molk seals him away from the hole; Schilling peels off to pick off a linebacker to the backside. Though Wilson is filling quickly the Spence ownage has given Denard a crease he hits. Unfortunately, he falls as he hits it and gives up a couple yards.
RUN+: Molk, Schilling RUN-:
O40 2 4 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 5
Michigan runs the stretch towards the Illinois line shift instead of away this time so the blocking is different. Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) have to scoop Spence, which they do. Spence ends up sealed two yards downfield and Molk pops off on a linebacker. Because of this, Smith(+1) can make a smart cut past Liuget, who beat Omameh(-1). Huyge and Shaw trip to the ground because of the Liuget penetration so folk can converge but not before another first down.
RUN+: Molk, Schilling, Smith RUN-: Omameh
O35 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 1
Spence fights back here, defeating a Schilling(-2) single block and tossing him to the ground. He's in the hole, forcing a bounce out and minimal yardage.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling(2)
O34 2 9 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA RB flat Shaw Inc
Play action sucks the WLB in like whoah and Shaw breaks open into the flat. Easy first down and more on the way as Denard flicks it to him… dropped. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O34 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 1
Illinois slants its line a little bit and gets a guy in on Omameh one-on-one that catches him off guard. He doesn't let him through but he does give ground in the pocket. Doesn't warrant a minus but does cause Robinson to scramble out after he doesn't like his first read. He should either take off immediately or find Stonum on the sideline. He does neither, hesitating and pulling up, then deciding he has nothing and taking off too late to gain any yardage. Better than a bad throw, I guess. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O33 4 8 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-2-6 dime Pass Cross Roundtree 33
Three linemen come plus the corner; Michigan picks up all of them and gives Robinson a ton of time. He sits in the pocket and fires a dart to Roundtree. I think he sees this late, which is why it's behind him; there's a guy coming over and he has to put it there. The throw forces Roundtree to spin around to make the catch but it's not too bad and the spin just takes him upfield faster. He's a step past the linebacker and there's no one filling as he hits the endzone for the second time. (CA, 2, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-14, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 ? Pass Hitch Robinson Inc
Late to this play so not sure but I think this is the exact same play Roundtree dropped the ball on right before the Wilson INT. Here Robinson gets some more pressure but 'Tree is just as wide open. The ball is zinged hard and to the outside, taking Roundtree off his feet and making this a difficult catch. He can't make it. Borderline MA/IN, 1/2 here. I think... (IN, 2, protection N/A)
M36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 13
Molk(+2) again reaches Spence one-on-one. They are killing him. Lewan(+1) kicks out the playside DE, Schilling gets a free release on Wilson. Omameh can't do much more than run after the WLB but does wall him off. Webb(+1) blew up the backside DE and provides a lane for Robinson ten(!) yards downfield. Robinson's first cut is easy but then he makes yards on his own.
RUN+: Molk(2), Schilling, Webb, Robinson RUN-:
M49 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA rollout hitch Roundtree 9
Third time it's wide open(RPS+1) and this time Roundtree brings it in. Sarcastic cheer from the crowd is super harsh for a guy who's already got 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns, eh? (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O42 2 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 8
Omameh(+1) kicks out Liuget. Schilling gets chucked to the ground by Spence but Spence is way out of the hole a yard downfield after getting blasted and is in no position to make a play, so that's a weird looking +1 for him. Smith(+0.5) has a gaping hole between the tackles. He takes on two linebackers after about five yards, picking up 3 YAC.
RUN+: Schilling, Omameh, Smith(+0.5) RUN-:
O34 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
Omameh stalemates a backup DT but does not move him or seal him. Molk can't get playside of Wilson, so both those guys can shed and tackle Robinson as he creases the line. -0.5 each. Needs moar play action?
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh(-0.5), Molk(-0.5)
O31 2 7 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 6
Spence manages to not get crushed this time. Molk does fine with him but this not an obliteration. Thanks to a monster kickout by Lewan(+1), Spence's flow isn't enough to close down the hole and when Hopkins(+1) comes through he clobbers Wilson. Wilson's already engaged with Schilling so this is not a fair fight but that block goes from one yard from the LOS to five in a snap. Smith follows it but can't make anything more than the blocking gives him this time.
RUN+: Hopkins, Lewan RUN-:
O25 3 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Penalty False start Lewan -5
Yes: he rocks a fraction early and they get him.
O30 3 6 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA Rollout fly Stonum Inc
This is a decent throw but a bad decision. He's got Webb in the flat for a sure first down after Illinois bites on the playfake but decides to go for a covered Stonum near the goal line. Tough throw, very tough catch. Tough throw is made and the catch isn't. Robinson had a guy coming into his face and had to throw it quickly, but I'm not sure why they're reading long to short on third and six. (BR, 1, protection N/A)
O30 4 6 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-2-5 nickel Pass Cross Roundtree Inc
Illinois safety chases after another underneath route and opens Roundtree for the first; if the guy trailing him can't tackle it's a touchdown. Unfortunately the ball is well behind him and this allows trailing guy to break it up. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Midline zone Shaw 1
Huge error by Robinson (ZR-1) as the DT is too aggressive and with one linebacker hitting it up past any block and the other flowing hard he's gonzor unless this DT makes a ridiculous play. Lewan(+1) again kicked the DE outside the hashmark; keep the ball, Denard. Illinois flows hard, which is why the keeper is vastly open, and a linebacker gets in untouched. He can tackle because the hard flow prevented any linemen from sealing off frontside creases. I think I have to minus Molk here, too.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-: Robinson(2), Molk
M21 2 9 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Post Roundtree 75
So of course on the next play Robinson throws a gorgeous, could-not-be-better deep ball to Roundtree. Michigan slides the protection to combat the thing that gave them a little trouble earlier and the result is a ton of time for Robinson. He sits in the pocket and absolutely nails Roundtree on a re-enactment of that 97 yard touchdown from the spring game (ff to 1:05), except this time the guy chasing is faster and Roundtree gets run down inside the five. (DO+, 2, protection 3/3)
O4 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Inside zone Hopkins 4
Some backups in for Illinois. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) obliterate one DT; Schilling(+1) hits the other back far enough and Hopkins just has to slam it up for four yards. This year Roundtree can get caught at the one all he wants.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-21, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inverted veer handoff Smith 3
Late moving safety adds another guy to the box. Michigan runs the Cam Newton at them, and with the DT staying inside this looks like the right read (ZR+1) but it's so open it could go either way. Late filling safety does a fantastic job to get outside of Shaw(-1) and gets some help from the LB who is coming off Robinson. Omameh(+1) got a driving, awesome block on the DT left in space to delay that LB and give Smith room, but defeating that Shaw block means Smith goes down hard after a few.
RUN+: Omameh RUN-: Shaw
M30 2 7 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
A wad o' bodies. Blocks are all adequate but not great. This is a staple now and folks are ready for it.
RUN+: N//A RUN-:
M33 3 4 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA rollout deep hitch Stonum 15
Illinois not surprised here; after the DE keeps contain he shoots upfield at Robinson in the same manner he did on the previous deep ball to Stonum. This time Stonum is breaking his route off after selling the fly, though, and he shakes the corner by yards. Robinson dodges the crashing DE and zings it high to Stonum to get it over hands; Stonum leaps and brings it in. (DO, 2, protection N/A, RPS -1)
M48 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 3
Illinois slanting the line playside and having linebackers scrape to the backside with one of their safeties filling on the front. Lewan(-1) lets his guy playside, which costs Michigan some yards as he tackles near the LOS. A safety was filling at the same time but that was going to be at least a few more yards if the DE isn't tackling from behind. Double from Schilling(+0.5) and Molk(+0.5) had again destroyed Spence.
RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Molk(0.5) RUN-: Lewan
O49 2 7 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw 4
Adjustment from Illinois. They send linebackers over the top and blitz a corner. This means the linemen have easy blocks but Schilling gets hit by the DE and can't get out to the second level. Lead blocker has to hit the corner, leaving Shaw one on one with an unblocked LB. Contact made at the LOS; Shaw picks up four. RPS -1; Illinois sold out here and got it right.
RUN+: Shaw RUN-:
O45 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Improve comeback Hemingway 45
Three man rush from Illinois. None of them get anywhere near the QB. First read covered, Robinson starts rolling and has huge amounts of space to pick up the first down. Instead he pulls up and zips a dart right on Hemingway's numbers 20 yards downfield. Hemingway is fenced in by three Illinois DBs but does a moog dance around them, turning 20 yards into 45 and making me be like dang. (DO+, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-21, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 6
Illinois zone blitzes, which throws off this play a bit since the expected lanes aren't there. Wilson blows through Smith and it's looking grim before Schilling(+1) shoves an over-aggressive Liuget past him, opening up a crease that Robinson(+1) sees and exploits. The blocking's all messed up so Omameh has no chance to get the linebacker he's tasked with and Molk's guy can peel off to run Robinson down from behind.
RUN+: Schilling, Robinson RUN-: Smith
O20 2 4 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Dime 4-3? Run QB draw Robinson 2
Thoroughly bizarre, as it looks like a DE lines up over a slot receiver. It's a 6-6, 225 pound DE, yes. I'd probably audible into this too. Molk(-1) is stood up and then shucked by Spence. He does maintain his feet and stay in contact but Robinson has to slow as Spence shows up in the hole. Molk re-engages and Robinson goes to cut behind him. It looks like he may be able to squeeze out the first down when he slips.
RUN+: RUN-: Molk
O18 3 2 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA slot seam Gallon Inc
Another "aaargh run it" play as Illinois does not get out on the edge here and Robinson can pick up the first down easily if he just takes off. Can't blame him for the decision, though. The UI safeties split and Gallon breaks hand-wavingly open. Robinson throws it way, way too short and turns a potential touchdown into a near interception. (IN, 0, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: FG(35), 31-28, 40 sec 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M11 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Dime 4-3? Run Zone stretch Hopkins 2
DE again hanging out near the bubble. Three down lineman, two linebackers, one blitzing guy on the frontside. Blitzing guy and playside DE get upfield of their blockers by attacking hard; this means that Smith and Lewan are both blocking one LB. Molk(+1) easily seals the NT and there's a huge gap... that Wilson is sitting in by himself. RPS -1.
RUN+: Molk RUN-:
M13 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA rollout deep hitch Hemingway Inc
Michigan rolls the pocket towards the open side of the field, where a large number of Illinois players are shifted. Nickel blitzer forces Robinson to hold up and throw to one of two receivers on the curl/flat but he hasn't had enough time to let the route develop and the corner to that side can sink into the ball and get a hand on it. Otherwise well thrown. Still, a dangerous ball. (BR, 0, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
M13 3 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson -7
Yeah, this was actually a run. Both RBs release downfield to block, as does Omameh, and the DEs are permitted to roar upfield because that's where Michigan wants them. The problem is Liuget, who crushes Schilling(-2) backwards and shucks him. He's charging at Denard, delaying him and allowing those DEs to converge for an ugly looking finale.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling(2), Huyge
Drive Notes: Punt, 11 min 3rd Q. Ugly stretch.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree 17
Michigan finally tests Illinois on the edge here as they keep blitzing this LB on the slot. They do so here. Safety fills but is a little late, at which point Roundtree(+2) smokes him on a juke and then spins through two more tackles at the sticks to turn a nothing play into a chunk of yards. Hemingway(+1) with a good block on the corner helped. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Roundtree(2), Hemingway RUN-:
M39 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run PA QB Draw? Robinson 2 + 15 Pen
This is QB Lead Oh Noes, except the pass is a fake and Robinson takes off. This is a play action draw. So… yeah. Robinson has a lane between Hopkins and Huyge that the other Illinois MLB is trying to close down. He decides to cut back. This is not a good idea; Wilson comes off a block and tracks him down after not much. Illinois gets a weak, weak PF call for 15 more.
RUN+: RUN-: Robinson
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Hopkins 6
Liuget again smokes Schilling(-2) and is through immediately. Hopkins(+2) beats an arm tackle from him, runs through a Wilson tackle, and can get upfield; Lewan(+1) got a great second level block and Koger(+1) kicked out the playside DE
RUN+: Hopkins(2), Lewan, Koger RUN-: Schilling(2)
O38 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB down G Robinson 0
Looks like a stretch at first but not because that was the intent. Michigan blocks down on the playside DE with Koger and pulls Omameh and Huyge around. Koger(-2) does not get anything approximating a good block. He loses his guy to the outside on a down block. Not so good. Molk(-1) loses the playside DE. Huyge has to kick out Wilson and Omameh has no choice but to go behind Koger and block Molk's guy; with guys flowing down the line Robinson has nowhere to go and just tries to get back to the LOS.
RUN+: RUN-: Koger(2), Molk
O38 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Dime Pass Snag Stonum 17
Seems like the Illinois cornerback just busts here; everyone else is in man and he appears to be in zone, so he lets Stonum inside of him as he sits down on a snag; Robinson sees this quickly and zips it in for the first, with Stonum picking up some decent YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O21 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
I figured out what Liuget is doing. He's taking jab steps one way, convincing Michigan linemen that he's slanting, then coming back underneath as the other lineman releases downfield. That means he splits doubles by convincing one lineman he should immediately release downfield. That quickness is supremely impressive. This time he gets Molk(-1) on it, though he doesn't shoot through the line. Molk can only escort him upfield; Smith has to cut behind. Backside DT was doubled but no linebackers got hit because of the awkward cut; several free guys combine to tackle.
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh, Molk
O19 2 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone veer Shaw 19
This looks just like the inside zone but it's a counter, and kind of a veer. The entire line blocks down. Schilling(+1) gets a driving block on playside DT Spence; Lewan donkeys(+1) Wilson. Koger(+1) pulls to the backside to plug the DE, who was held outside by the threat of Denard. Shaw takes the handoff as if it's a regular inside zone, sucking linebackers and safeties to the frontside, cuts hard to the backside of the play, then drags tacklers the final five yards. RPS+2
RUN+: Lewan, Schilling, Koger, Shaw RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-31, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 5
Molk blocks the playside DT, Schilling hits one MLB, and the play is basically a one-on-one matchup between Hopkins and Wilson. Stalemate, basically, and Wilson can come off to tackle at the LOS. Denard has room outside because of another good Lewan(+1) kick that opens the hole up wide enough for him to get decent yardage.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-:
M25 2 5 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree 9
Illinois has been leaving the outside guys in man all day with these slot blitzes and Michigan uses that here, running a simple ten-yard hitch that the safety can't get out on. He's already been burned crispy, after all. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 4
Playside DE slides inside; Schilling(+1) steps up to seal him away. It's Lewan and Hopkins versus linebackers. Lewan engages Wilson about a yard downfield; Wilson gets outside. Lewan keeps driving and gets some more depth as they flow outside. Blitzy McSlotGuy is holding contain; he steps up through Hopkins's block, sending Hop to the field uselessly, and tackles as Robinson hits it up. Robinson was going to get tackled by the other MLB but he might have gotten a few more yards without the whiff.
RUN+: Schilling, Lewan (0.5) RUN-: Hopkins
M38 2 6 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 16
Wilson screws up, giving Smith the wrong shoulder and sending Denard outside away from his fellow MLB. Good block from Molk(+1) to deal with the playside DT and Huyge(+1) kicked out the DE effectively; Omameh(+1) nailed the other LB, who also screwed up by shucking to the wrong side. Robinson has space, cutting outside to pick up eight or ten more yards.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Huyge, Robinson RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 3
Liuget beats Omameh(-1) badly, shoving him back and coming off inside; Illinois is running a scrape exchange and sends the DE shuffling down the line as Wilson pops out to contain Robinson. Bizarrely, Webb just ran out to block a safety instead of doing something at the line, so this was damned either way. No ZR. Smith is swallowed. He gets three because Schilling(+0.5) blew the DT downfield some. RPS -1.
RUN+: Schilling(0.5) RUN-: Omameh
O43 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass TE Fly Webb Inc (Pen +15)
Robinson has a million years to survey. He looks left, finds nothing, and then comes back to his TE running a fly downfield against the overhang corner. Robinson chucks it up there and puts it in the right place, sort of. It's a bit short. This allows the corner to come through and break it up, but he gets a flag doing so. He did grab the arm but this is a real rinky-dink call. (MA, 0, protection 3/3)
O28 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 7
Nothing, really. Just a wad of bodies with no holes. Backside DE is shuffling down the line; Koger can't do much but hit him and drive him inside, which he does; Smith cuts behind it. Wilson hops out to cover the cutback; Lewan(+1) adjusts and gets a block that Smith(+2) can cut behind again. Tacklers hit him about four yards downfield; he gets three more.
RUN+: Smith(2), Lewan RUN-:
O21 2 3 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Scramble? Robinson 0
I have no idea if this is a called draw or Robinson just decides not to throw for whatever reason. I think it's the latter from the mannerisms but that's a WAG. Robinson scrambles upfield and then tries to break it outside into two basically unblocked defenders, getting chopped down. Pretty bad all around from DR. Just throw the bubble. (TA, N/A, N/A)
O21 3 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Nickel 4-3 Pass TE circle Webb Inc
I like bringing in the 2TE set and then going pass. Illinois sends six but no one gets home and Webb's circle route is open for the first. It's high-ish and forces a leap out of Webb but it still goes through his hands. Come on, man. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(38) 38-31, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Yakety sax ? -9
Forcier in. He fumbles his first attempt to pass. YAY.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 38-38, 14 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Roundtree 11
Illinois actually shifting the outside corner onto this route as the safety drops back, maybe trying to bait Forcier, but his first read is Roundtree and Forcier nails him for a first down. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M48 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw 8
This PBP guy calls everything a trap handoff. WTF? Anyway, Illinois slants the other way and Huyge(+1) seals the playside DE immediately. This does not happen often. Shaw has a clear lane outside and the rest of the DL are done. Smith(+1) gets a feisty block on Wilson as Shaw cuts it up and though Schilling couldn't cut the other MLB Omameh(+1) moves out on him and harasses him; Shaw is tackled from behind after about four yards and ends up with eight.
RUN+: Huyge, Smith, Omameh RUN-:
O44 2 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Scramble Forcier 6
PA rollout from a stretch fake. Illinois covers everything including Smith's little flat route, but in doing so they open up the edge. Forcier brings it down and picks up the first with ease. (SCR, N/A, N/A)
O38 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 2
Molk(+1) again seals the playside DT on a reach. Schilling(-1) falls to the ground, unfortunately, so Wilson's unblocked as Smith hits the huge obvious gap. Smith tries to cut outside, where Shaw's(-1) cut block attempt is easily stepped over by Wilson. At that point it's time to get whatever you can.
RUN+: Molk RUN-: Schilling, Shaw
O36 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA Throwaway Roundtree Inc
Been running this PA rollout too much and the backside DE sees it quickly. He shoots up at Forcier, who manages to dodge the guy. At that point he chucks it well long of a double-covered Roundtree because otherwise this guy is going to nail him. RPS -1. (TA, 0, protection N/A)
O36 3 8 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Pass Cross Gallon 35 (Pen -10)
Virtual replay of an earlier play on which Robinson had Roundtree by a couple steps on a crossing route and threw it behind him. Here Forcier nails Gallon in significantly tighter coverage; Gallon is hit in stride and the trailer can't tackle, so he cuts it up and dives for the endzone, coming up just short. It comes back because Lewan got a legit holding call. (DO, 3, protection 0/2, Lewan -2)
O46 3 18 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Fly Hemingway Inc
Forcier sets up and bombs it deep to Hemingway. Coverage is decent but Hemingway has a step and room to the outside and could have a less contested catch if the throw is perfect. It's not. It's still very good, hitting Hemingway in the hands and falling to the turf as he gets bumped by the DB. I think this was deflected a little and even if not the DB was disrupting him, so this isn't a pure drop but you'd like to see him bring this in. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-45, 9 min 4th Q. Can't blame Forcier for any of this, man. Sharp after the 'sax.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Throwaway ? Inc
Serious miscommunication on the M line sets Liuget free. Forcier tosses it well OOB. (TA, 0, protection 0/2, team)
M20 2 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Improv comeback Hemingway 21
Illinois stunt gets Liuget somewhat through. He shoots into the backfield but Omameh does shove him through and Forcier can roll. Hemingway's open on a hitch route at the sticks so Forcier throws it; Hemingway attacks the ball to make sure no funny stuff and orbits past the corner. He sets off down the sideline for another ten yards. (CA+, 3, protection 1/2, Omameh-1)
M41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 11
No contain at all so Forcier pulls (ZR +1) and is into the secondary. Umpire gets in the way or this could have been a few more before folks converged. This never happens when Denard is in.
RUN+: Forcier RUN-:
O48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Pass Quick out Smith 5
Forcier reads man and hits Smith for what he thinks will be a good gainer but the Illinois safety is very aggressive and comes down on this fast, tackling after minimal YAC. And by that I mean zero. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O43 2 5 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Forcier 3
Should/would be massively open with big Illinois line splits but Koger(-1) gets smoked by the DE and Forcier has to cut outside of him. DE gets an ankle tackle on the cut; Forcier falls forward for a few.
RUN+: RUN-: Koger
O40 3 2 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 4
Schilling(+1) and Lewan(+1) crush the backside DT so when Omameh(-1) loses Liuget Shaw has a cutback lane he can hit. Molk(+1) also got a good downfield block on the MLB.
RUN+: Lewan, Schilling, Molk RUN-: Omameh
O36 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Quick out Shaw 3
This time it's the outside corner coming up to hit immediately after the catch. Illinois has these route packages pretty well scouted. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O33 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Dime Pass Hitch Hemingway 6
Forcier rolling out again and Illinois all over it, attacking with two guys and basically covering everything. Forcier chucks it as he gets hit to Hemingway along the sideline; two Illinois guys are there. The ball flutters over the first; the second comes up to plow Hemingway after the catch but cannot prevent him from dragging a toe. Illinois had this dead and Michigan beat it with a ridiculous play. (DO, 1, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O27 3 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 12
Illinois scraping this time after the Forcier keeper. Forcier hands off (ZR +1). This pulls the MLB to the contain side out of the middle. Lewan(+2) is moving to block him, reads this, and pulls back to nail the DE shuffling down the line. That's great. The scrape is designed to get that tackle blocking no one and Lewan has been coached here to read and react to that. I'm delighted by this. The backside DT is escorted down the line by Schilling(+1) and the hole opens up wide for Smith, who hits it. Molk cluelessly blocks some guy with his butt, allowing Smith to cut upfield, where the two linebackers hit him from behind.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Schilling, Smith RUN-:
O15 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
Liuget blows through Omameh(-2) and makes a tackle at the LOS. This time the Illinois scrape comes from the other linebacker, so the shuffling DE gets inside too and there's nowhere for Smith to go. Michigan went at tempo here and Illinois adjusted quickly. I know Koenning got bombed but this is impresssive. RPS -1!
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh(-2)
O13 2 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA Rollout Fly Hemingway Inc
The usual play action rollout. Illinois has a hard corner so the Koger route isn't super open but it looks open enough for some yards; instead Forcier tries to go for the endzone to a well covered Hemingway and ends up winging it OOB by a considerable margin. (BR, 0, protection N/A)
O13 3 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Dime Pass PA rollout flat Koger 4 (Pen +5)
UI jumps so Forcier spends the play looking for the endzone and can't find anything. He checks down to Koger. Not charted.
O8 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Improv circle Stonum 8
Lewan(-2) gets crooshed by the Illinois DE and Forcier has to deal with a guy coming right at him after a beat or two. Forcier dodges him easily and is now on the edge. He sees Stonum on the sideline in the endzone, and throws a ball low and outside. Stonum digs it out. (CA+, 1, protection 0/2, Lewan -2.) Stonum made an *outstanding* play to get himself open once he realized what was going on.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 45-45, 2 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree 6
Another quick hitch underneath the coverage; filling safety is there in time to prevent much YAC. I think a momentary bobble by Roundtree also delays him a little. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M37 2 4 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree 11
Same exact pattern and throw except this time Roundtree orbits outside, away from the safety, and gets a few extra yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M48 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree Int
The third time in a row is a little much (RPS -2) and the route is jumped and picked off. Ball was inside, making it easier to pick off, and shouldn't have been thrown anyway. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Interception, EOregulation
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA rollout throwaway ? Inc
The usual stretch fake and rollout. Forcier looks deep and with a couple of Illini players coming up on him he chucks it away. Webb was momentarily covered underneath but came open late; Forcier should have taken the short throw for at least a few yards. (TA, 0, protection N/A)
O25 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Snag Stonum 6
Snag concept again. Webb's deep corner is momentarily taken by Wilson, which opens up Stonum. Forcier zings it in; Wilson has come off and is there to tackle on the catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O19 3 4 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Rollout deep hitch Hemingway 13
Forcier's got Roundtree at the sticks for the first down but decides to go deeper as Hemingway is sitting down about eight yards behind Roundtree. The corner to that side isn't really covering anyone, stuck halfway between the safeties. Forcier's got a smallish window that he hits. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)
O6 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 1
Safety in the box because it's first and goal and while Omameh and Molk effectively double Liuget and get out on Wilson that gives the safety a free run into the hole created. Shaw tries to cut back, where a shuffling DE has gotten inside the attempted pull block from Webb and tackles. Forcier should have kept as he'd be one on one with a safety with a decent chance of beating him and probably getting good yardage anyway (ZR -1).
RUN+: RUN-: Forcier
O5 2 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw 5
Liuget shoots into the backfield; Molk(+2) has an easy time getting playside of him then but now has to slow up his momentum and prevent him from getting to Shaw. He does so, pancaking Liuget as he tries to come through. Omameh(+1) gets a second level block, Lewan scoops the other DT with Schilling but got it for free as that DT saw the Liuget play and hesitated because he thought a cutback was coming. Schilling(+1) gets a downfield block on Wilson and Shaw's got an easy five yard touchdown.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Schilling RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 52-45, OT1
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA throwback wheel Smith 14
Anything you can do I can do somewhat as well. Michigan runs virtually the same play Illinois just got another touchdown on and gets a big chunk of yards. The corner dropping in zone to that side does come off his receiver as he reaches the safety level and manages to tackle, but not before a big chunk. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS+1)
O11 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
Curveball from Illinois as they send their DE upfield and use the blitzing slot guy as a cutback contain. This works as Koger(-1) picks the wrong guy to kick out. Omameh(+1) had nailed the backside DT and Huyge released on Wilson, leaving Smith a big cutback lane if Webb attacks the LB. Picture paged.
RUN+: Omameh RUN-: Webb
O9 2 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA throwaway ? Inc
First two options covered, Forcier stands in until he can't anymore… he should definitely take off and try to scramble for yardage. It's wide open. Instead he does his scramble around thing and chucks it OOB. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O9 3 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Slant Hemingway 9
Forcier throws a slant that's blanketed by the cornerback. The ball deflects in the air and Hemingway snags it. Hooray skill! (BR, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 59-59, OT2
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 8
I can't tell if this is a good decision and a terrible play by Webb or Illinois getting Michigan. Forcier sees the DE crash and pulls; Illinois has Wilson scraping outside. Webb(-1) bizarrely releases outside and wanders downfield, blocking no one, so Forcier cuts it back inside and basically runs what Shaw would have run if the handoff was made. Molk(+1) seals Spence and Omameh(+1) releases, finds no one to block, and helps double the playside DE. Both linebackers saw the keep and went outside so there's an obvious crease. Shaw runs up it and hits a linebacker; Forcier runs up it and gets tackled from behind by about three guys.
RUN+: Forcier, Omameh, Molk RUN-: Webb
O17 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 13 + 3 pen
DE shoots down the line and Illinois brings the corner in to contain. Forcier keeps(ZR+1) and will have the first down because Lewan got out and got enough of a shove on the backside LB to get him off balance. Could have done better but okay. The corner's crashing down; Forcier(+2) jukes him to the outside and nears the goal line. Two Illinois personal fouls put it at the one.
RUN+: Forcier(2) RUN-:
O1 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-4 Run Inside zone Shaw 0
Schilling(-1) gets driven into the backfield, forcing Shaw to cut back. A crashing DE tackles him as he does this; Shaw falls forward to about the foot line.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling
O1 2 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-4 Run QB lead draw Forcier 0
Schilling(+1) wins this one, getting a much better push on a play designed to go behind him anyway. Shaw gets a lead block on the LB in the hole and Forcier just has to burrow behind it for a touchdown. He instead tries to leap. Wilson says no.
RUN+: Schilling RUN-: Forcier
O1 3 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 1
Same curveball that Webb screwed up on in the second OT with the nickel guy coming down to contain; this time Webb(+1) correctly diagnoses the blitz and heads out on the slot guy. Never gets a block but does make the guy go around him and that's enough. Picture paged.
O3 2pt 2pt Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Circle Hemingway 3
Hemingway sells the slant on the same CB that just blew one up and got unlucky in the last OT, and a rolling Forcier has an easy throw for the game-winning points. Hemingway almost drops it, but does bring it in. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), 67-59, OT3

Oh my god.

Seriously. That table is 8400 words. I am openly campaigning for the return of those hated clock rules starting now.

But at least this was the happy bit?

Yes, absolutely. Michigan comprehensively destroyed an excellent defense by land and sea. Despite Denard Robinson averaging 3.3 yards an attempt, the Illini rush defense gave up more than a full YPC relative to their season average. They consistently went one-high to do so, which opened up passing lanes that allowed Robinson to average over 15 YPA(!). Illinois' defense dropped from 15th nationally to 34th after the game, and while overtime has something to do with that Michigan gained almost 600 yards of offense in regulation.

That's all very impressive. Is it more or less impressive that it could have been a lot worse? Illinois shot themselves in the foot on offense from time to time but I think Michigan topped them by dropping balls, fumbling, and Robinson throwing inaccurately. It's one thing to fail to convert a third and three. It's another to miss a wide open tight end who's going to run until someone catches him from behind. Michigan did that plenty; there were opportunities to score even more points than they did.

It all makes for an interesting—

Chart?

Chart.

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? - 44%
UConn 2 15(6) - - 3 2 - - 2 - 68%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - - 71%
UMass 4 10(3) - 1 1 - 1 1 - - 73%
BGSU 1 4(1) - - - - - - - 1/1 N/A
Indiana 2 8(2) 1(1) 5(1) - - - - - 9/11 66%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 N/A 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 3/4 64%
Penn State 3 12(3) 1 4 2 - 1 - - 6/10 63%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 3/4 60%

TATE FORCIER

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
Iowa 3 14 1 2 4 - - 1 1 N/A 74%
Illinois 2 11 - - 2 3 - - 1 3/4 72%

A schizophrenic day from Robinson, who was either throwing picture-perfect balls to wide open receivers headed for the endzone or badly missing wide open receivers headed for the endzone. There were three of each; Robinson hit Roundtree twice and Hemingway once but badly missed Webb (INT), Gallon (near INT), and Roundtree (breakup) on wide open routes.

Meanwhile, Forcier was robotically efficient when he wasn't going yakety sax on the first play of the game. He didn't pick up the same yardage numbers Robinson did but that wasn't all his fault. On his second drive he had a 35-yarder to Gallon called back and then Hemingway did not bring in a makeable 46-yard touchdown catch. He's clearly more comfortable sitting in the pocket.

This is the nicest thing I can say about Forcier: I no longer want to die when the inevitable Robinson ding comes. I want Robinson to return ASAP but I do not want to die.

And what about the receivers?

More schizophrenia here, where drops from Roundtree, Shaw, Webb, and a makeable touchdown catch dropped by Hemingway combine with a couple of 1s and a lot of yards:

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum - 1/1 1/1 2/2 9 2/7 7/11 18/18
Odoms : ( - - - 1 1/1 3/4 11/11
Hemingway 2 1/1 0/1 5/5 4 3/3 3/5 19/23
Stokes - - - - - - 1/2 -
Roundtree 2 - 2/3 7/8 10 2/3 5/8 26/38
Grady - - - - 4 1/1 3/3 8/9
T. Robinson - - - - - 0/1 - 2/3
Gallon - - - 1/1 1 - - 4/4
                 
Koger - - - - - - 2/3 7/7
Webb 2 - - 0/1 2 - - 3/4
                 
Smith 1 - - 2/2 2 - 0/2 12/12
Shaw - - - 1/2 1 0/1 0/1 5/6
McColgan - - - - - - - 1/1
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

The drops were kind of a big deal. Webb's third and three drop forced Michigan into a missed field goal attempt. Stonum's immediately preceded the Wilson interception, and Hemingway's coulda/shoulda been a touchdown. Michigan did overcome the moderately tough Roundtree drop; Shaw's eventually saw Michigan convert a fourth and nine into a touchdown.

And the run game?

As with the defense you'll want to turn down the volume down (by about 20%) to get a relatively normal day at the office.

For context, Michigan averaged 4.9 YPC on 53(!) carries. They threw the ball 40 times, so that's slightly more pass oriented than normal. Those passes broke open for big gains because Illinois was bringing guys into the box consistently.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge 3 2 1 Did a lot of okay stuff. Not beaten, but didn't MAKE PLAYS either.
Lewan 12.5 1 11.5 Major cutback lanes provided on the regular.
Schilling 15 10 5 Got beat by Liuget a lot, but held up despite that.
Molk 16.5 4.5 12 Clobbered Akeem Spence consistently. Move to the stretch plays into his strengths.
Omameh 10 6.5 3.5 Easier day than Schilling since a lot of the time he had no one over him and Molk was killing Spence; when he did get Liuget he struggled like Schilling.
Khoury - - - DNP
Dorrestein - - - DNP
Webb 2 1 1 Reduced role?
Koger 2 5 -3 Not so good.
TOTAL 61 30 31 A slight step back from the Penn State game—slightly more positive but a lot more plays (53 vs 42) to get that number in.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 3 4 -1 Not a lot of room to make magic and some bad decisions on cuts.
Gardner - - - DNP
Forcier 4 2 2 Shiftiness paid off in overtime on a couple keepers. Desire to fly not so much.
Shaw 2 2 0 Fully healthy, it seems.
Smith 8.5 1 7.5 Excellent day. Hopefully he can keep it up.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Hopkins 3 1 2 Established as the third guy, it seems.
McColgan - - - DNP.
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 20.5 10 10.5 Still not great, but at least Smith had a nice outing.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum 1 - 1 --
Odoms - - - --
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree 2 - 2 One bubble.
Grady - - - --
Gallon - - - --
Hemingway 1 - 1 Does not get a number for this but the moog dance for the TD was wicked.
TOTAL 4 - 4 Moog dance.
Metrics

I think I may be paying more attention to Lewan than Huyge and will try to see if that's the case next week, but the number of runs that work because Lewan's kicked a guy outside the hashes or driven someone three yards downfield and opened up a cutback lane is significant, where Huyge is just a guy. Huyge did get a win in one other area:

PROTECTION METRIC: 37/44, Lewan –4, Team –2, Omameh –1

That's a tick over 80%, which is good. It might be pessimistic, too, because this is just 3/3:

And so is this:

I value consistency in protection over individual good plays, and that was a four man rush, and people are terrified of Denard scrambling. But Denard and Tate had Navarre-like time on several important plays, something that would be unimaginable last year, and don't get me started on 2008.

The only exceptions were when Lewan got beat a couple times, drawing a holding call that wiped out a Gallon crossing route that got down to the one and forcing Forcier to become MacGuyver again on the game-tying touchdown. He also turned a third and one into third and six on a false start. Lewan's the Jonas Mouton of the offense [Ed-M: except the guy making the occasional, drive-altering freshman mistakes is a redshirt freshman, not a 5th year senior]. I did love this, though:

That's a scrape designed to get Lewan blocking no one. I see OL release downfield and look around in vain for someone to hit all the time. Here he sees his linebacker head outside, knows it's an exchange and the DE is flowing down the line, and pulls up to kick the DE out. Result is a big gain.

As for the rest of the ground game, Smith's good day was offset by a bad one from Robinson. Michigan pulled out the inverted veer and the midline a little bit but dumped the midline after Illinois ran a crazy scrape Michigan was unprepared for that got Martez Wilson unblocked on Robinson. They dumped it after that. After four years of Juice Williams Illinois has more experience defending that stuff than anyone else in the Big Ten, so

I see a lot of Liuget above, and a lot of big negatives for the interior line.

Yes. Liuget went ham. Whenever someone was tearing into the backfield untouched it was him. He did this by feinting one way, as if he was going to slant. This would cause the lineman to the other side to release downfield. Then Liuget would change direction and burst through a double that didn't really happen. Bad things (or great play from the tailbacks) ensued.

That's why this was impressive from Molk:

 

Many times Schilling or Omameh had not been able to keep pace with that spring into the backfield; here Molk gets playside of him, hurls him to the ground, and sent Liuget to the ref making a flag motion.

But they were still positive?

Michigan abused the NT all day by running stretches away from Liuget and having Molk reach block Spence like he was stationary. Spence is a freshman and while he displayed impressive strength on a couple plays where he chucked Michigan blockers to the ground he was dead meat when Michigan got him moving. Molk was a beast. Watch him on this play:

I have seen more zone stretches than anything else in my time doing this and I can tell you that getting that seal on that reach block is rare and powerful. if that happens the defense is giving up at least five yards and usually a first down. Molk did it probably five times in this game.

The tailbacks seemed much better, right?

Yeah, though they dropped off a bit in the second half. Smith had a couple of impressive cuts and one spin cycle [Ed-M: video didn't make it] past a tackle; the other two guys ran hard and didn't seem to make any obvious mistakes.

Goats?

No one had an out and out bad day, really. I mean… 67 points, 45 in regulation, against a good defense.

All right then. People responsible for the few times Michigan didn't score?

Robinson's inaccuracy burned Michigan a few times, though Robinson's ability opened those passing lanes wide open. Lewan did kill a couple drives with mistakes. The tight ends did not have a great game.

Heroes?

David Molk, Roy Roundtree, Tate, Denard, Lewan, and a partridge in a pear tree.

What does it mean for Purdue and beyond?

This offense is going to move the ball on everyone, and will be stopped mostly by its own mistakes. Robinson's erratic accuracy is the biggest problem facing the offense now, and that's the #11 guy in passer efficiency we're talking about. Tate is an excellent backup Michigan could rotate in from time to time without enduring much of a dropoff.

The deep passing game was the main development here; if Michigan has that working good luck, everyone. I think they'll be able to put up points on anyone the rest of the year, even Ohio State—probably not enough points, but points.

Picture Pages: A Final Adjustment

Picture Pages: A Final Adjustment

Submitted by Brian on November 11th, 2010 at 11:42 AM

This pair of plays is striking only in comparison to the defense. They're both inside zone runs Michigan gets about a yard on, but one's a third and goal from the one so that's all you can get from there. The first is in the second overtime; Michigan has just executed a throwback wheel of its own for a first down at the eleven. They come out in a three-wide.

two-1

Illinois does their usual bit with a linebacker over a slot receiver, but this time he's going to walk  down and blitz:

two-2

Michigan's running an inside zone. This can go anywhere but on this play the hole opens up behind everything as Illinois is slanting away from their blitz. By the mesh point something odd is happening:

two-3

The backside defensive end is headed directly upfield. Most of the time the DE will either sit and contain, shuffle down the LOS, or roar down it. Here he's getting way upfield. Two reasons for this, I think: 1) he really really has to contain because of the corner blitz and must not let the QB outside of him, and 2) by doing this he guarantees a handoff.

Meanwhile, Webb's pulling to the backside of the play to get a block on whoever the cutback guy is for Illinois. Because of the switch this is not the DE but the slot LB. Webb does not realize this:

[Update: commenters point out this is actually Koger, which it is. Apologies to Webb.]

two-4

Oops. With Webb blocking the guy who the zone read is supposed to option off Michigan's left a free hitter on the backside. He tracks…

two-5

…and hits:

two-6

Michigan gets two yards and eventually has to resort to a Houdini escape when Terry Hawthorne jumps a third and eight slant. The deflection miraculously bounces to Hemingway.

The second play is Michigan's second to last play of the game. It's third and goal from the one. On first down an inside zone run was stuffed when Schilling got slanted under. On second down a QB lead draw was stuffed when Forcier went airborne unnecessarily. On third down Michigan comes out in a three-wide package. From the one.

td-1

Before the snap the corner walks down again:

td-2

Illinois runs the same curve, shooting the DE directly upfield after several plays where he was tearing downhill at the RB; he made the tackle on first and goal. Webb, however, is taking a much different angle:

td-3

Huyge and Omameh are blocking downfield but not that well. Spence chucks Omameh to the ground and shows up in the hole; Webb is still headed for the slot LB:

 td-4

Shaw hits it directly upfield in this useless screenshot and does get the ball over the plane, but here's Tate celebrating:

td-5

So… that's an adjustment to an Illinois adjustment. After getting fooled by this the one(!) time it came out earlier, Michigan goes to the sideline for mere moments—the offense has to come right back out. In these moments someone grabs Webb and says "if the DE goes straight upfield your assignment is the linebacker crashing in from the slot." Then Michigan seems to invite that very play by coming out in a three-wide formation on third and goal from the one. They want that DE to erase himself and for a LB to get singled up on the 260 pound Webb. His block provides the extra momentum that barely gets Shaw over the plane.

The reason I'm so down on the defense and high on the offense is that these things seem to happen on one side of the ball but not another. It should be clear that no one's on the keeper when Scheelhaase takes it for big yardage, but then he does it again on the exact same play. It should be clear that something's not right in the way you're defending the option but nothing really changes. Etc. Michigan's offense adapts in ways the defense doesn't, and I don't think it's youth when the players who can't contain a keeper are Roh and Mouton.

Chitownblue asked about an RPS plus on the final play of the game, but that's an example of what I'm talking about. Illinois runs the same play they got their earlier conversion on and Michigan runs the same defense. You've got a rub route against man coverage and a seven-man protection you're blitzing into. If Illinois had gotten to pick Michigan's defense on that final play, they would have picked a man-zero all out blitz. They got it, but Jonas Mouton saved the day by making a great play. If he gets cut or just blocked Scheelhaase rolls away from Roh and has a receiver wide open for a score.

It is in these ways that Michigan's defense is different from its offense.

Bonus: you know that corner who jumped the slant in the second OT and should have had Michigan in fourth and long but for some Notre Dame-level BS? Michigan ran a circle route (a fake slant to an out) on the two point conversion and got Hemingway wide open.

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Illinois

Submitted by Brian on November 10th, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Formation notes: More of the same mad scientist business, with Michigan rolling out a 3-4, a 4-3, and a 3-3-5 on various occasions. With Roh's move to the defensive line the fourth "defensive lineman" in the 4-3 was either Obi Ezeh or JB Fitzgerald, which had predictable results. Michigan seemed to save the stack mostly for spread alignments and used the other two in more traditional situations.

Substitution notes: The secondary was Vinopal, Rogers, Avery, and Kovacs the whole way. Fitz and Ezeh seemed to get equal time at the OLB/DE spot, with Cam Gordon getting maybe 80% of the time at spur. Thomas got some snaps. Demens and Mouton went the whole way at MLB. On the line Martin, RVB, and Roh started; Patterson, Black, and Banks spotted them periodically.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Triple option pitch N/A 11
So Michigan comes out in a four man line with Fitzgerald as a standup DE, Mouton and Demens behind them, and Gordon flexed out over the slot receiver. Kovacs is rolled up a bit so it's like 6.5 guys in the box. Avery is at FS with Vinopal over the slot. Illinois goes to their bread and butter and Michigan is badly outflanked. The way they've lined up against it I don't think they can stop either the dive or the pitch (RPS -2). Kovacs is taking off for the backside of the play; Mouton is sitting on the dive because I think he has to, and Cam Gordon's on the edge with a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. He crashes on Scheelhaase; pitch back wide open. I'm not sure who to minus, so the RPS just has to stand. I guess I do think Rogers could have kept LeShoure from getting outside of him and held this under a first down so -0.5.
O44 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide tight 4-3 Light Pass Cross Demens 4
RVB(+0.5, pressure +1) swims through a double team and comes up the middle of the field, forcing Scheelhaase to dump it. Jenkins is a dangerous YAC guy that Demens(+0.5) is tracking through the zone; he makes a diving tackle after two. Jenkins can fall forward but that's a pretty good play in space.
O48 2 6 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Power dive Mouton 4
FB charges through a hole that's massive as Fitz(-0.5) gets kicked out and Martin slants outside. A guard pulls around to get a hat on Demens, which happens somewhat close to the LOS. That block is not tested as Mouton(+0.5) takes on the FB about a yard downfield, giving the RB the impression he should hit it outside. Mouton fights through the block and gets help from a filling Kovacs(+0.5); the pair tackles.
M48 3 2 I-form big 4-3 Light Run Down G Fitzgerald 5
No chance of stopping this power formation with this set of personnel on the field; they run right at Fitz(-1), who comes inside as a guard pulls around and gets plowed. He actually does a good job to get off the block and force the play back inside, where Kovacs and some linemen tackle. Michigan got caught shooting both linebackers up the middle of the field and left an obvious vulnerability open. RPS -1.
M43 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Roh 1
3-4 look is less goofy in terms of personnel. Illinois runs an inside zone; Roh(+1) flows down the line to shut off the hole and Martin(+1) reads the direction of the RB, slowing up and cutting inside his blocker instead of getting pulled down the line as if it's a stretch. The two converge to tackle at the LOS.
M42 2 9 Shotgun trips Base 3-4 Pass 4 Hitch Mouton 11
Gordon blitzes off the edge for a fourth rusher. Everyone's picked up, massive pocket (pressure -1); Scheelhaase finds a receiver in between three guys in the zone (cover -1). I think this is a bad drop from Mouton(-0.5), as Demens is going with one receiver on his little cross and Fitz is moving out to get the flat.
M31 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Triple option dive Black 4
Black in. Black(-0.5) shoots upfield and opens up the dive but at least recovers enough to force the RB inside a bit, where Demens(+0.5) can fight through the free release of the playside tackle to hit the tailback after a few yards; help arrives.
M27 2 6 Shotgun trips Base 3-4 Pass 4 Scramble Patterson 10
Michigan covers(+1) a series of short hitches perfectly; Patterson(-2, pressure -2) gets way out of his rush lane, ending up next to Black, and gives Scheelhaase a wide open lane he exploits for the first.
M17 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Base 4-4 Pass 4 Throwaway Van Bergen Inc
Kovacs rolls up. Illinois runs mesh and both linebackers cover it(+1) so Scheelhaase doesn't have his first read. He can't get his second because Van Bergen(+0.5) drove into the backfield and got a hand up, causing a scramble and eventually a throwaway.
M17 2 10 Pistol FB twins Base 4-4 Run Triple option pitch Demens 0
Michigan stunting here, sending Roh inside of the DTs, which causes Scheelhaase to keep and sends Roh right into the hypothetical dive. Gordon(+1) gets out on Scheelhaase immediately, forcing a very quick pitch that Demens(+1) is assigned. In space with a good back, Demens comes up quickly but under control, forms up, doesn't bite on two different fakes, and delays LeShoure until he has to take off and get what he can. Rogers(+0.5) came in after a while to tackle but this is Demens making a play in space. (Tackling +1, RPS +1)
M17 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Scramble Roh 9 (Pen -10)
Roh(+2) smokes the Illini RT to the inside and forces Scheelhaase to scramble; would have been worse for UI if the RT hadn't held Roh up, drawing a flag. Scheelhaase scrambles for near first down yardage because Demens(-0.5) overran the scramble by getting too aggressive on an underneath WR. (Pressure +2)
M27 3 20 I-form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass FB screen Martin Inc
Martin(+1) comes through the line even faster than they want on a screen, nailing the fullback in the backfield and eventually sending him to the ground. Scheelhaase has no one to throw to and just gets rid of it. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: FG(44), 7-3, 9 min 1st Q. This isn't awful, really. Only the first play was a groaner. Everything else is understandable or actually good.
M47 1 10 Pistol FB twins 3-3-5 stack Pass PA corner Rogers 34
Triple option fake with McGee at QB and he pulls up to throw. We never get a good replay but Michigan is in cover three here and Rogers is going with the outside guy on a post instead of coming off on a guy running a corner route 25 yards downfield, so I think this is on him (cover -3, -2). McGee got plowed by Martin as he threw so no pressure minus.
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Ezeh 4
Ezeh in for Fitz at OLB. Mouton actually in the middle on this play. Roh comes down so Scheelhaase pulls it, but he's to the short side and he's got two WRs out there so Ezeh(+0.5) and Avery(+0.5) don't have a ton of room to close down once they come off their blocks, which they both do ably. With not much room and two guys coming at him Scheelhaase can't get much more than three.
M19 2 6 I-form 4-3 light Run Down G -5
Again going right at Fitz/Obi; here Obi gets blown off the ball. I can't tell if this is going to be nothing or a touchdown; Mouton(+0.5) gets outside of the pulling T and is either going to tackle for nothing or the RB is going to run right by him because Kovacs(-1) went way too far upfield and created a huge hole. We'll never know because the RB drops the ball and Michigan recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-3, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Mouton 4
Roh(+0.5) is shuffling down the line and should have a handoff dead to rights if it's actually made but pulls off when he sees the RB doesn't have the ball. I think Mouton(-1) is supposed to be scraping outside but he doesn't read the play quickly and gets blocked by the RT, leaving Kovacs to fill quickly and cut off the outside; Mouton is flowing down the line and when Scheelhaase cuts back he bangs into the LT, allowing Roh to tackle from behind.
M29 2 6 I-form twins 4-3 Light Run Down G Kovacs 3
Again going at the LB/DE substance. Illinois gets everyone blocked but Avery and Mouton take on their blocks appropriately and Kovacs(+0.5) is in overhang mode, so he crashes down in the relatively small gap to make a solid tackle after a meh gain.
M26 3 3 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Flare Kovacs 0
Illinois slides their protection away from the spur and Gordon blitzes, getting in free immediately(RPS +1, pressure +1); dumpoff on the swing route as Kovacs is undercutting the slant. Kovacs moves to the swing and attacks. He whiffs but he whiffs to the outside and forces the RB to come to a near-complete stop. Mouton whiffs, Avery whiffs, Roh and Demens come in to clean up.  Kovacs +1 for an angle that allowed the gang tackle. BWS picture-paged this.
Drive Notes: FG(43), 7-6, 3 min 2nd Q. Gallon fumbles the ensuing kickoff.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Power dive Mouton 3
Mouton(+1) attacks the leading fullback at the line, shedding him to the outside and forcing the RB back to his help. Still a big hole because Patterson(-1) got blown up; Demens(+0.5) scrapes to tackle without getting a blocker; it's clear the pulling guard did not expect Mouton to do this and had to improvise in space; he ends up blocking no one.
M29 2 7 Ace 4-wide tight 3-3-5 stack Pass N/A PA rollout cross Kovacs 13
Fake pitch with Scheelhaase rolling out. Kovacs is attacking but then pulls off, which is smart because there's a guy coming to the sideline right behind him. Unfortunately, as Scheelhaase nears the LOS Kovacs(-1, cover -1) blows his earlier good work by coming up and opening up a little flip pass at the sideline. This was going to gain yards either way but Mouton was coming, too, and it would have been less damaging to allow the scramble.
M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Black 9
Zone read look; Ezeh is the contain and forces a handoff. Major problem here is Black(-1) flowing way too fast down the line of scrimmage on the backside, giving the RB a cavernous cutback lane behind him and away from any of the linebackers. I think Ezeh(-0.5) does come up too hot and makes the read and cutback easy, but there's a lot of room.
M7 2 1 I-form big Base 3-4 Run Down G Ezeh 4
3-4 look but the same idea from Illinois: run at the guy out of position, which is still Ezeh(+1). This time he's not getting blocked at the line because of the alignment and gets into the pulling G in the backfield, which cuts off the interior hole. Black(+0.5) helped by not getting blown out this time. Ezeh then pops out to rub the FB, making it a tough bounce for the tailback and hypothetically a no gain. Kovacs(-1) is caught off guard by this development and takes an angle inside, then overruns it; he does tackle but this was set up to be a better play by Ezeh.
M3 1 G I-form big Base 3-4 Run Iso Martin 1
Nothing in the middle with Martin(+2) shucking the C, moving past a G trying to block him, and absorbing the lead block. RB cuts back, where three separate M players are with just one guy to block; they do an adequate job of getting him down. The cutback does gain a yard.
M2 2 G Goal line Goal line Pass N/A PA rollout scramble Demens 0
This is more run than pass here, I think, with just one option in the endzone, and that one decently covered by Mouton(+0.5, cover +1), though I think a more confident QB tries this. Scheelhaase is on the edge; Gordon(+0.5) bumps the underneath receiver and gets outside, cutting off the corner. This allows Demens(+1, tackling +1) to flow hard from the interior, grabbing the QB at the LOS and allowing Gordon to pound him for no gain. Gordon brings a physical intimidation factor the other two spurs don't.
M2 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run QB draw Kovacs 2
Ezeh(+1) blitzes right into the play, taking out the RB and the pulling guard and hypothetically giving Kovacs(-2) a free shot on Scheelhaase on an obvious playcall here, but Kovacs is wandering out towards the tight end for some reason and instead of a thumping TFL and a field goal Michigan gets scored on.
M3 2pt 2pt Shotgun twins 2TE Base 4-3 Pass 6 Cross Vinopal 3
A rubtastic rub route with rubbing rubs, although Illinois does it so that it's all on the up and up. Vinopal is in man over the slot guy and has to take slight deviations around one of his own men and an Illinois receiver, which is just enough for the Illini receiver to get into the endzone; Michigan sent six and was closing in with two guys just as Scheelhaase, who's had to back ten yards off the LOS,throws. Good coverage, good pressure, good play from Illinois. Nothing to get despondent about here.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), 7-14, 14 min 2nd Q. Comin' up: despondency!
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O46 1 10 I-form twins 4-3 Light Run Inside zone Kovacs 6 (Pen -10)
Martin(+1) beats his man to the inside and is tackled, drawing a holding call. Play goes outside anyway, where there's no one blocking Kovacs after Fitzgerald does a mediocre job and Avery gets kicked out. Kovacs(-1) takes a crappy angle and can only make a desperate ankle tackle(-1) after two yards, giving the RB another four.
O36 1 20 Pistol FB 3-wide 4-3 Light Run Triple option pitch Mouton 64
Martin limps off the field after the last play. Determining blame on this one is difficult because it's hard to tell whose assignment is whose.If Kovacs is blitzing the dive he's fine. If he's blitzing the QB he makes a fatal mistake by getting sucked inside by the slot blocker and removing himself from contain. If he's blitzing the dive Mouton is at fault for not scraping over the top. Vinopal comes up and forces a pitch. He should be taking the pitch guy, who's most dangerous; Mouton is flowing from the inside after sucking in and has an angle to tackle after about 15 yards but inexplicably slows up and allows the RB to run past him, turning a frustrating gain into an enormous touchdown. Kovacs –3, as later we'll see these blitzes are to contain the QB; Mouton –3 for a really poor missed tackle(-2) that doesn't even slow the RB and turns a gain into a TD.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-21, 11 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Triple option pitch ??? 14
This one is just broken. Kovacs rolls up to the line and blitzes, forcing an immediate pitch from Scheelhaase, and then there's no one on the pitch. Mouton is again the closest linebacker to the pitch and is not getting out on it. (RPS -2)
O44 1 10 I-form twins 4-4 Light Run Off tackle Demens 5
Ezeh(-1) single blocked and buried as a DE, but that's not really his fault. This allows Illinois to downblock Martin and get a free release on Mouton. Avery has to contain against a lead blocker. Demens(+1) is about to take a cut block when he takes a step back, dodging it, and flows down the line past the Mouton blowup to tackle after on a play where everyone on offense had an easy play because Ezeh is not a DE. (RPS -1)
O49 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 Light Pass 4 Dumpoff Gordon 1
McGee at QB. His first read is covered(+1) and then Black comes around on a stunt up the middle and he has to dump it. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) is there as the ball is brought in and cuts the RBs legs out as he turns upfield.
50 3 4 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Hitch Demens Inc
Demens passes one hitch route off and is caught a little inside but reads Scheelhaase and recovers to make a leaping PBU on a five-yard hitch. Demens! (+2, cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-21, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Pistol FB 3-wide 4-3 Light Run Triple option keeper Banks 4
Somewhat bizarre as it looks like the pitch is again wide open but Scheelhaase decides to keep it and follow the dive play he just decided against instead of toss it. Patterson(+1) actually gets into his blocker and shoves him back, then sets up so he can come off on either side. He does so as Scheelhaase passes, tackling after a few yards. Banks(-1), in for RVB, got crushed, though, and it's five yards. Still fortunate, IME, but can't tell for sure.
O33 2 6 I-form twins 4-3 Light Run Off tackle Mouton 4
Virtual replay of the off tackle play on the last drive. Fitzgerald(-1) proves he's not a DE, going down to single blocking. This time Mouton(+2) evades a free release from the TE and pounds the RB as he crease the LOS; no YAC(tackling +1).
O37 3 2 Shotgun trips 4-3 Light Pass 4 Corner Vinopal Inc
Incredibly depressing as RVB(+1) has beaten the RT to the outside and slid inside the RB, coming up on the rollout to force a throw… to a vastly wide open receiver on a corner route for another 25 yards… which is dropped. Salutations! Vinopal the nearest guy but none of these replays are providing actual information. (Cover -3, pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-21, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Vinopal 16
Vinopal rolls down into the box on the snap. This is an inside zone; Patterson and RVB get doubled and don't go anywhere but don't penetrate. With nowhere to go on the inside LeShoure cuts it out, where there's a major gap because Gordon(-1) got way too far upfield. Demens has to scrape through a blocker to get outside but Vinopal is there as a free hitter... and whiffs(-2, tackling -2) entirely. Compounding matters is that he let LeShoure outside of him and did not funnel to help. He's into the secondary, where Rogers dives at his legs to tackle after 15.
M44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Power dive Van Bergen 1
Michigan slants the line and sends Gordon from the edge, which gets RVB(+1) past a down block attempt and into the intended running lane, where he absorbs the pulling G. Gordon(+0.5) keeps under control and tackles on the slow cutback. (RPS +1)
M43 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Scramble Ezeh? 8
Michigan sends Ezeh off the edge and slants the other way, which gets good pressure except for the fact that Roh and Ezeh split like the Red Sea and there's a huge lane for Scheelhaase to scramble into. I think this minus goes to Ezeh(-1) since he got way upfield; Roh was coming right up the middle and if he got out of a lane it wasn't by much. Downfield Mouton(-0.5) makes a dodgy tackle that gives more yards.
M35 3 1 Ace 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Ezeh 2
Kovacs comes down into the box and Gordon backs off to cover the slot. Patterson(+0.5 and Roh(+0.5) slant past OL and cut off any hope on the frontside. Ezeh(-0.5) is blitzing on the backside and can't quite get there to close off the cutback lane. He tackles but the RB's momentum takes him forward.
M33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Batted Gordon Inc
MOTS, with one of the OLBs coming off the edge. This time it's Gordon(+1, pressure +1) coming around the outside to hit Scheelhaase's arm as the throws. The resulting duck hits the ground harmlessly.
M33 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Fly Avery 33
Same blitz, but picked up better this time. No one bothers Scheelhaase (pressure -1) and he launches a deep fly route to a well-covered receiver that juuuuust evades the fingertips of Courtney Avery and is brought in for a touchdown. This is actually a +1, cover +1 that just got beat by a perfect throw.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-28, 1 min 2nd Q. Swanky kick return follows.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Cross Fitzgerald 6
Roh(+1) smokes the left tackle with a sweet move, heading inside and then spinning out to get quick pressure(+1) on Scheelhaase. He's forced to dump it to Fayson on a zero yard route; Fitzgerald(-1, tackling -1) comes up hard and misses a tackle, allowing Fayson to the outside for decent yardage.
O41 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improve Mouton? 25
Roh(+0.5) does the exact inverse, this time threatening outside and spinning inside of the other tackle. He slips as he gets free but he does cause a scramble (pressure +1). Unfortunately there's a guy wide freaking open. Michigan moved to a three-deep late with Avery rolled up and the linebackers and Gordon underneath; at the end of the play Avery, Mouton, and Demens are all near a guy on a short out and no one is dealing with the slot guy's seam route. This is either on Vinopal or Mouton, the LB who was over the slot receiver and did not go vertical with him. Minus two for both? Sure. (Cover -3) I think Illinois was running four verts, BTW.
M34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Scramble Roh? 8
A carbon copy of the scramble earlier on the drive where a gap opens up between Roh and Ezeh. This time Roh gets the minus; Ezeh was a lot less irresponsibly upfield and Roh seemed to be the one opening it up. (Pressure -1)
M26 2 2 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Fly Rogers Inc
Rogers(+1, cover +1) in excellent position and the ball's overthrown anyway. Not +2 here because this was pretty obviously endzone or bust.
Drive Notes: FG(43), 31-31, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Pistol FB ? Run Triple option dive Ezeh 3
Probably. We get to the play late. No idea what happens; Ezeh tackles after three so let's call it even.
O46 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Roh 1
Roh(+1) slants past the tackle and into the running lane. He gets pushed past the play and the RB can cut back but he must slow considerably, and then Roh gets an arm on him. Demens(+0.5) scrapes from the inside to get there at about the LOS and prevent the RB from falling forward.
O47 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 2 Improv Rogers 5
Starts out as a 3-4 then Michigan checks into the stack when Illinois audibles. Michigan rushes two(!), with Martin dropping off to act as a screen/QB spy. Coverage(+1) is good and then Scheelhaase's timer goes bing and he starts scrambling to the sideline. Martin runs at him. Gordon escorts the RB deep, leaving Scheelhaase an improv dumpoff for five yards. Rogers(+0.5) and Ezeh(+0.5) are there to tackle(+1) short of the sticks. RPS+1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-31, 12 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass N/A Waggle out Van Bergen Inc
Cameraman fooled, and so is Michigan. RVB(-1) is tasked with edge contain and gets beaten outside. The coverage(-1) is not so good as Scheelhaase has a wide open guy for a first down with linebackers chasing way out of position, and at the very least he's a fast guy on the edge against Thomas Gordon he can pick up some yards. Instead he chucks a ball at the sideline, which goes out of bounds and would have been very tough for the receiver anyway.
M31 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run QB draw Martin 4
Martin back in, woo. He shoves his man back into the pulling guard(+1) and causes him to be very late. Van Bergen(-0.5) gets blocked well out of the play on his slant. Demens takes on a blocker, funneling it back, and Mouton(+0.5) can tackle relatively clean since Martin delayed the guard. Martin also comes from behind to make sure.
M27 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Scramble Van Bergen 5
Van Bergen(+2) swims through an Illinois OG like he is not there, but Roh(-1) got blasted inside and opened up another scrambling lane for Scheelhaase. It looks like he's going to get the first down easily when Avery(!!!, +1, tackling +1) sets up in just the right spot and '>'>takes out Scheelhaase's legs as he tries to cut outside.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 31-31, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun H-back twins Base 4-4 Run Zone read keeper Demens 1
Black(-1) crashes in on something or another as the pulling FB bypasses him—this is a called keeper, not a read. He's gone. Demens(+2) starts scraping outside, taking on the FB block low and coming through it without damage. Gordon(+0.5) has set up outside so there's nowhere to go; Demens tackles(+1) in space.
M41 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Hitch Ezeh Inc
Four guys don't get there right away and Ezeh(-1) faked towards the LOS then dropped straight back, so he's about two yards from Mouton and this hitch is wide open. Receiver juggles and drops the ball; Avery(-0.5) was also late-ish and though he's there to tackle he doesn't jar the ball free, it just comes out by itself. (Cover -1)
M41 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv Van Bergen Inc
RVB(+1) beats the tackle clean ot the inside and forces Scheelhaase to scramble (pressure +1). There's a ton of guys in the area; Ezeh does some chasing and Scheelhaase launches an ill-advised pass off his back foot; Mouton(+1, cover +1) is there to knock it away. Actually not the world's worst decision in the situation. INT here is almost as good as punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-31, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Triple option dive Banks 3
Patterson takes a momentary double and does okay; Demens(+0.5) pops up and takes the peeling C at the LOS and there's no hole for the dive. Banks(+0.5) reads the cutback and comes off the now wrong-side block to tackle.
O25 2 7 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Counter Banks 20
Kovacs rolls up late to make this an eight man front and blitzes; TE kicks him out. Fitz(-1.5) gets crushed by the tackle. Banks(-1.5) gets crushed out of the hole by the guard, and Mouton(-1.5) attacks the wrong shoulder of the first guy through, so LeShoure is through a massive hole without being touched. Vinopal and Avery manage to prevent a TD.
O45 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Power dive Mouton 4
Virtual replay of the last play without the counter step from the RB. Fitz(-1) kicked out wide, Mouton(-1) sits and eats a block two yards downfield. Patterson(+0.5) did a little better this time and the pulling G bumps his linemate, allowing Demens(+0.5) to run in to the hole and plug him at the LOS. Wad of bodies moves forward because Mouton got blowed up so good.
O49 2 6 Pistol 3-wide 4-4 Light Run Triple option pitch Kovacs -8
Kovacs(+1, RPS +2) again blitzes off the edge, but there's no TE this time to stop him and he smashes Scheelhaase almost before the dive fake. Scheelhaase still tries to pitch and chucks it over the RB's head. Mouton(-2) had again sucked in on the dive fake, leaving the pitch wide freaking open, but gets bailed out.
O41 3 14 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Post Fitzgerald 21
Three man rush on third and fourteen and a wide open guy in the middle of the field because Fitzgerald(-2, cover -2) did not get enough depth on his drop and opened up a post. Van Bergen(+0.5) was getting there to tackle Scheelhaase just as he released; time but not a ton of time. One more moment.
M38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Read option keeper Vinopal 3
Scheelhaase pulls as it looks like T. Gordon(-1) gets too aggressive, but Vinopal(+2) comes up, avoids a block, and makes an excellent open field tackle(+1) to hold it down.
M35 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Martin 8
This is so bizarre that I think it must be a stunt or something but Martin(-1) kind of sets up instead of attacking and then gets blown out of the hole. With Black slanting hard this seems like Martin's supposed to pull around him. Instead he just gets crushed. Mouton(-1) doesn't read the guard right over him pulling and sits in an area with no holes and a backside pursuit guy. Demens(-1) is outside and it seems like that's his assignment but then he engages a guy and goes further outside when it's clear where the ball is going. Van Bergen and Black reach out arms, slowing Scheelhaase, and Kovacs cleans up from behind.
M27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back twins 4-3 Light Pass 5 Wheel of doom T. Gordon? 27
New formation for Illinois and Michigan is confused before the snap. Also after. Illinois runs a weak stretch fake and rolls out; both outside receivers run posts that drag Avery and Vinopal with them, and LeShoure runs wheel route with nothing but grass around him. Who's responsibility is this? I'm not sure anyone's except GERG. T. Gordon does not know to carry the running back vertical. If he does the other running back will be vastly open in the flat because Demens is bugging out for the deep middle. Avery's going with the post, as is Vinopal, and Rogers is covering no one on the far side of the field. So... who and what can Michigan do to make no obvious touchdowns on this play? Don't know. T. Gordon -2, Cover -3, RPS -3.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-31, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Pistol FB 3-wide 4-3 Light Pass 4 Triple option pitch Gordon 11
Scheelhaase pulls and now has Demens and Roh chasing at him from the inside, so he pitches. Cam Gordon's(-2) on the edge against a WR, gets too close to the LOS, gets blocked, gets held a little, and gives up the corner.
M17 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Off tackle Mouton -2
Michigan slanting their DL, including Ezeh, and this is still not a super idea since it just gives Illinois a hole and Mouton has to deal with a free releasing tackle. Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to the outside well, forcing a cutback the RB apparently did not expect. Mouton(+3) gives the TE an ole job and fills in the hole, tackling for no gain. (RPS -1)
M18 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Kovacs 17 (Pen -10)
Michigan gets lucky here, picking up a holding call on what looks like the Illinois LT just tossing Ezeh to the ground like a rag doll. I guess he grabbed him outside the shoulder pads but I've seen a thousand worse things let go every week. Zone read from Scheelhaase and he makes a questionable decision to pull with Demens scraping over. He has to cut inside, where Mouton(+0.5) is scraping to the play, and then he has to cut all the way to the backside, which is possible because Roh(-1) got way upfield and Kovacs(-2) started running to the frontside of the play instead of attacking the cutback lane. Vinopal has to scrape past the umpire and can only make a diving tackle at the sticks. The bad hold call brings it back.
M29 2 22 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass 3 Slot seam Mouton 23
Strange to have seven guys at nor near the LOS in this position. Slot guy runs right by Mouton(-2, cover -3), who stops his drop at ten yards for some reason, leaving an absolute cavern between the linebackers and the three-deep. Again, Michigan DL are getting to Scheelhaase--Roh this time--but because of crap like this it's always irrelevant.
M6 1 G Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Speed option Roh -1
Roh(+1) reads the play and hops out past the tackle before he can react. This forces a quick pitch. Gordon(+1) has to deal with the FB. He gets outside and strings it out perfectly; Rogers (+0.5) comes up to help tackle once the RB finally decides he has to go inside Gordon.
M7 2 G Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Power dive Van Bergen 6
RVB(-2) gets doubled and crushed backwards as LBs ably fill the gaps on both sides of him. RVB can't anchor and ends up five yards downfield with his back to the football; LeShoure just has to run up those OLs' backs to get to the one.
M1 3 G Goal line Goal line Run Iso 1
LeShoure manages to burrow in, but it's not easy.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-45, 11 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O11 1 10 I-Form 4-3 Light Run Off tackle Black 7
Black(-0.5) gets a little push but not much and gets sealed inside by a single guy; TE gets a free release on Demens and seals him. FB kicks out Gordon; Vinopal(-0.5, tackling -1) fills after about three but has to hang on for dear life, giving up a chunk afterwards.
O18 2 3 I-form twins 4-4 Light Run Off tackle Van Bergen 2
Van Bergen(+2) crushes the C into the backfield, picking off a pulling guard and forcing LeShoure to dance outside the mess. This gives Martin(+1) time to flow down the line after beating his guy and tackle at the LOS. Could have been a no gainer or loss but for Banks(-1) getting blown off the ball.
O20 3 1 I-form big Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Martin 1
Both safeties move down into the box and Avery sets up deep. Fitz(+0.5) blitzes off the edge and gets into the pulling G in a good spot, occupying both him and the FB and giving no creases for the RB. Martin(+1) flows into the gap behind him, beating an OL, and it's the two LBs versus the backside G and LeShoure. They've got him short until a second effort just gets him over the line. I'm fine with this, really.
O21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Fitzgerald? 12
Not sure if this is on RVB or Fitz, but no one goes with the QB and this is easy. (RPS -2)
O33 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run QB power dive Fitzgerald 6
Martin absorbs two and does okay. Demens reads it and moves up to hit the pulling G at the LOS. Fitzgerald(-1) started running outside, read the play late, and is easily popped out of the hole by the RB, giving the QB an avenue for a nice gain.
O39 2 4 I-form 4-4 light Run Off tackle Roh -1
Vinopal rolled up too so this is nine in the box. Michigan stunts. RVB(+1) slants past the playside G, cutting off the intended hole and forcing a cutback. Roh(+2) splits two OL not expecting him on his stunt and comes through to TFL by himself. RPS+1.
O38 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Quick out Kovacs 4
Quick out thrown a yard short of the sticks and since it's not precise Kovacs(+0.5) can escort a leaping WR out of bounds short of the first.
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-45, 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Improv Demens Inc
Demens(+0.5, cover +1) drops into the hitch that is Scheelhaase's first read, and then Martin comes around to get pressure on a stunt. No rush lanes this time and Scheelhaase has to roll outside, where everyone is still covered(+1, with Vinopal(+1) tipping a dangerous pass away.
O18 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Mouton 9
Michigan seems to expect pass here, which is frustrating since given the down and distance and time Illinois almost has to run lest they give M another possession on an incomplete pass. Line slants down but there's no one filling the cutback lane after Roh gets past the tackle. This is either on Roh for slanting down the line too hard or Mouton for sitting back and eating a block--one or the other has to stay outside. Ezeh sits outside to dissuade the keeper then crashes down after the handoff, but he's too far away to help with Mouton getting blocked to the outside; Demens was dropping into a short zone to take away a slant, allowing Gordon to blitz from the frontside. Roh -1, Mouton -1, but I lean towards Mouton being the responsible party here for the usual reason: if you're a linebacker getting blocked flat-footed four yards downfield you're doomed.
O27 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Vinopal 0
Vinopal rolls up late for another guy in the box. RVB(+1) gets under his blocker and into the intended running lane; Mouton(+0.5) fills a frontside gap hard, leaving Vinopal(+1, tackling +1) a free hitter in a constricted area. He brings enough wood to stand LeShoure up and the cavalry arrives.
Drive Notes: Punt, 45-45, 1 min 4th Q. Illinois' final drive of regulation is not charted because it's an extreme outlier. On to OT.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-form 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA Scramble 6
PA is covered all over (cover +2) but Scheelhaase has epic time (pressure -3) and a rushing lane he takes for six.
M19 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Roh 15
Another instance where the DE shuffles down the line and no scrape from the LB. Mouton is blocked, Roh out of the play, and a big gainer happens. RPS –1.
M4 1 G Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run QB draw Mouton 2
Mouton(+1) recognizes the pull this time and slams into the guard at the LOS. He takes a hit from a tailback too, and gives ground. Demens comes up slightly tardy; Scheelhaase has to burrow behind the double on Mouton, allowing Michigan players to converge.
M2 2 G Goal line Goal line Pass 4 Waggle cross Inc
Michigan bites, with Gordon(-0.5) getting out way late on the corner and Mouton(-0.5) losing the TE(cover -1); Scheelhaase tries the more covered TE and ends up throwing it well behind him.
M2 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run QB draw Mouton 1
Demens(-1) reads this too slowly and gets hit a yard downfield, so there's a gap. Mouton(+2) jukes the RT, sliding inside of him and tackling at the LOS. Scheelhaase dives to about the inch line.
M1 4 G Goal line Goal line Run Down G Mouton 1
They block down on RVB and shoot the FB right at Mouton, who can't make a great play this time. LeShoure finds the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 52-52, OT
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 2-back twins Base 4-4 Pass Wheel of doom ??? 25
Literally the exact same thing happens, though they're thrown at Mouton and Ezeh as the linebackers this time. RPS -4.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 52-59, OT2
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Triple option pitch Avery 1
This is different than the other pitches since they run it away from the twins side of the field instead of to it. So. Fitzgerald comes down on the dive; a pull. Mouton(+0.5) gets outside his blocker and starts flowing; Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to take away the QB run. Avery(+1, tackling +1) was on the TE and got outside, shutting off the corner. He comes off to tackle, and Michigan finally stops an option pitch.
M24 2 9 Ace twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA TE throwback Fitzgerald 14
Really delayed this time as the TE gets caught up on Van Bergen before releasing. Kovacs has to go vertical with one tight end and Fitzgerald(-2, cover -2) starts running playside, getting way out of position and opening this up vastly. (RPS -2, because at least on this play I can tell who probably should have had the play.
M10 1 G Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Roh 7
Same fricking thing, with Roh shuffling down the line and Mouton(-1) not getting in position to do anything on either the dive or the keeper; Scheelhaase pulls it and gets down to the three. RPS-2. They've had 100 plays to fix this.
M3 2 G Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Run Zone read handoff Roh 3
Fitz blitzes off the edge for contain and M slants; Roh(-1) gets pushed too far down the line and opens up a cutback lane; Mouton was moving inside his blocker and cannot adjust once the bounce happens, though he tries.
M3 2pt 2pt Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 light Pass 6 Sack Mouton -7
Same play as the previous one and Michigan is caught in man but Mouton(+2) leaps over a cut attempt from the LT and Roh(+1) stunts inside, coming free. Scheehaase has to try to get around Mouton but can't, getting ankle-tackled as he rolls out and going down to end the game. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT failed), 67-65, EOG.

 So this sounds insane after a 67-65 game but that was… less depressing?

Yeah? Penn State had nine drives on which they tried to score. On those drives their average field position was their 32. They scored 4.6 points per drive. They were the worst offense in the Big Ten before the game. Illinois was not a good offense, but they had 19(!!!) drives with an average starting position of their own 48 and scored 3.4 points per drive. Michigan forced six punts and had two other three-and-outs that Illinois got field goal attempts on because they started around the Michigan 30. Two of Illinois's touchdown drives also started around the Michigan 30.

By the Mathlete's reckoning, an average offense would expect to score 40 points given the 16 drives with great field position Illinois had in regulation; Michigan gave up 45. That is almost not awful.

But still pretty depressing?

Also yeah. "Almost not awful" does not include the three consecutive TDs Illinois scored in overtime. Also, an average defense going up against an average offense would expect to put up 40. Illinois does not have an average offense. Even after Saturday they're 71st in total offense; before it they were 85th. Illinois put up 43 on Indiana and 44 on Purdue. Multiple breakdowns were plays Illinois ran over and over again (triple option, wheel of doom, a simple zone read keeper) on which there was no Michigan defender with even a plausible chance of defending. The sheer number of wide open guys on passes, option pitches, and zone read keepers caused me to burble in disgust as I saw carbon copies of previous errors made deep into the game.

In addition, a number of the stops were of the Illinois-stops-self variety. UI receivers dropped two third down conversions, one of them a very long gainer, and their fumble was just a guy dropping the ball. Michigan had some fortunate breaks go their way to get the not-awful-by-the numbers performance.

I think there's some hope from individual players, but when some of that hope comes from Craig Roh checking in with a positive number because he's at DE after he was moved to LB in the fall, did poorly, played DE against Iowa and MSU, did well, and then was put back at a linebacker against Penn State and Michigan puts Obi Ezeh and JB Fitzgerald at defensive end for big chunks of the game, your coaching sucks.

I keep talking like this? Inflecting my sentences to make them questions?

You do. I wasn't going to say anything but you brought it up.

Chart?

oic. Chart. Remember that these are going to be high amplitude because of the sheer number of plays and that you should turn the volume down by a third or so.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 10.5 3.5 7 Developing into a fine player. Now consistently putting up points.
Martin 8 1 7 Was more back than it looked live, but still out a lot more than usual.
Banks 0.5 3.5 -3 Little PT with the move.
Sagesse - - - DNP?
Patterson 2 3 -1 The usual dropoff but held his ground a bit better.
Black 1.5 2 -0.5 Off day.
Roh 10.5 8 2.5 Eventful; some minuses may be someone else's fault.
TOTAL 33 21 12 Not great; no production from the backups and too much time for them.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 3 4 -1 Didn't do anything outlandish, a lot of minuses not really his fault.
Mouton 15.5 16 -0.5 The most Mouton day ever.
C. Gordon 5 3.5 1.5 Far more clueful this week but also a lot more blitzy.
T. Gordon - 3 -3 Had the misfortune of being only plausible coverage guy on Wheel of Doom 1.
Leach - - - Did get in at least one play.
Moundros - - - DNP
Demens 10.5 2.5 8 Can play, yo.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald 0.5 11 -10.5 Um… not so good.
TOTAL 34.5 40 -5.5 Let's have linebackers play DE.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd - - - DNP
Rogers 2.5 2.5 0 I'll take it!
Kovacs 4.5 11 -6.5 Very bad day early.
Johnson - - - DNP.
Talbott - - - DNP.
Christian - - - DNP.
Avery 3.5 0.5 3 Two key tackles.
Ray Vinopal 4 4.5 -0.5 Some great tackles, a couple ugly whiffs.
TOTAL 15.5 18.5 -3 I'll take this, too.
Metrics
Pressure 12 8 4 If only they covered anyone…
Coverage 13 24 -11 But they don't.
Tackling 9 7 2 Meh.
RPS 7 21 -14 Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

[RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]

Shave about a third off all of those and you get approximately a normal game. The defensive line did decently. The linebackers were slightly below par, the secondary was all right individually but as a whole there were vast openings in the zone that probably fall more on the LB's heads than anything else, and everything that's ever happened good or bad is because of Jonas Mouton.

Isn't Mouton supposed to be one of our better players?

Yes, I guess. I have been complaining about him all year, so not to sound like a broken record but man, whenever something awful happened to Michigan it seemed like the linebacker running his ass off in a vain attempt to get back in position was Mouton. Sometimes it's tough to tell exactly who has what assignment when Michigan is defending the option but 1) almost all of Illinois's successful option pitches came to Mouton's side of the field*, 2) on most of them they were playing three deep and blitzing a rolled up safety into the QB, and 3) Mouton was hanging out on the inside when a DE was crashing the dive.

This was the most blatant example—watch Mouton as Kovacs screams in on Scheelhaase:

There is absolutely no reason for Mouton to be anywhere near the interior of the play. Kovacs has the QB. The line/DE/Demens has the dive. The secondary is in a three deep. He should be the force defender and is so far out of position that if Scheelhaase manages to make an accurate pitch this is at least ten yards and possibly another touchdown. Either this is his responsibility or GERG's scheme to defend the option literally cannot work. I'm honestly not sure which it is.

On the 64-yard TD Mouton probably was supposed to be inside and Kovacs got blocked out of his blitz but man this is ugly when he tries to tackle:

 

Vinopal comes up and lets the play outside of him but either way Michigan's giving up lots of yards here since Kovacs blitzed inside the tackle and Mouton never scraped.

But wait! There's more! I'm not exactly sure who this was on, but Roh kept shuffling down on Illinois's inside zone keepers and Scheelhaase pulled, finding tons of open space because Mouton was sitting on the interior again. Since Roh is younger and just moved back to DE I thought it was on him, but I'm not sure if Mouton should get the benefit of the doubt. He gives up contain a lot. Roh shuffled on the third drive of the game and led to a keeper that Kovacs had to deal with, and kept shuffling, and Mouton never, ever scraped. One of these two people must be told to do something differently.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that these things kept happening. Michigan did not change their scheme at all and the option pitch was still open and Scheelhaase could pull in overtime just like he did before. No Michigan player altered their play, which makes it difficult for me to tell who was at fault because no one changed their behavior.

In Mouton's defense, he also made his usual array of flat-out great plays. The most obvious was the final one where he leapt an offensive lineman and shot in on Scheelhaase before he could force a fourth overtime, but scattered in between all that contain business was a guy who took on a lot of blocks, made a lot of tackles, and displayed the athleticism that made him a hot recruit and will probably get some NFL team to take a flier on him. So he's not all bad.

*(The one that worked and didn't featured Cam Gordon failing to maintain leverage on the RB as he was getting blocked by a slot, but at least in that instance there was a player in the vicinity who just made a mistake; there was not an obviously blown assignment.)

This will be a good segue: how intense does your GERG hatred run this week?

I'm keeping steady at a thousand suns. The inability to adjust to the option—the one time Michigan stopped it late they ran away from the twins side into Kovacs and Avery, who was in overhang mode and could get outside the TE easily to contain—or the wheel of death or a simple zone read keeper led to another monster negative RPS day. Whenever I'm not sure which Michigan player is making errors on a dozen different massive gains the defensive coordinator is going to get a huge negative RPS.

Meanwhile, Michigan finally put Roh where he should be but we're addicted to playing guys out of position so for long stretches of the game we had the privilege of watching two linebackers try to play defensive end, which they did not. They got no pressure and were blown up in the run game. They were better as 3-4 OLBs but Michigan had a gameplan and stuck with it, putting four men on the line in power situations much of the day and paying for it. I know Greg Banks isn't spectacular but he does make the occasional good play, unlike Fitz and Ezeh when they're shoehorned into playing defensive end. Fitz was particularly woeful. I'm not sure how he even got that massive minus but there it is. He only had one tackle, so there's some circumstantial backup.

This game provides no evidence Greg Robinson should be kept. Not that I have to tell you that.

Heroes?

Demens was again consistent on anything that got pushed to him, making a couple impressive tackles in space and making a breakup on a short third down attempt. Avery didn't seem victimized on anything and made a couple big tackles

Goats?

Greg Robinson, for putting Ezeh and Fitzgerald in a position they'd never played before, and for moving Roh to linebacker in the spring, and for moving Cam Gordon to safety, and for never ever adjusting to 1) simple zone read keepers, 2) the basic triple option play that is Illinois's offensive staple, and 3) the wheel of death. I'm not even sure he knew what was going wrong. On film it's instantly obvious that either the DE or LB is not containing and something must be changed, but in the third overtime Roh was still shuffling and Mouton not scraping as Scheelhaase ran down to the three.

The alpha and omega, beginning and end of all things, the snake that eats its own tail, the world tree, the ever-expanding universe itself, the very Big Bang that brought matter into existence?

Jonas Mouton.

What does it mean for Purdue and beyond?

Michigan should either scrap the four man line or play an actual lineman on it. The 3-4 seemed to work much better, but what I really want to see is a personnel package that is simple and makes sense instead of Michigan trying to shoehorn every front they can think of into the same personnel. Be one thing and be good at it. I was so wrong about this in the preseason.

Long term, Demens now has three games to his name and is on the verge of establishing himself a guy Michigan can expect somewhat big things out of next year. Van Bergen is becoming a guy with some impact, Roh (surprise!) can rush the passer and is a much more effective DE than LB, and the guys moving around in the secondary seem less bewildered; Cam Gordon brings some pop and potential to spur if he can just get settled.

I'm not sure what to expect against Purdue. Maybe they'll play Denard at nose tackle. More likely they'll stick with the 3-4 that was the default against spread sets against IU and try to corral the Purdue running game. I hope to see a coherent defense next week, but don't expect one.

MGoPodcast 2.3: Barns Are Burning

MGoPodcast 2.3: Barns Are Burning

Site note: UFR is going to be late today, say five-ish. OT, yo.

You will get your podcasts erratic-style and you will like it.

This week's excuse about last week is that Tim was in State College and we now have a restricted window in which to get these done. This week we talk about whatever happened last weekend and the road ahead, with a little bit of talk about Penn State thrown in mostly to get our hairshirting done. Jamiemac of Just Cover stops by to talk about the Big Ten schedule coming up, albeit without the benefit of lines, and I ask Tim if he's a Buddhist. The EXCITING ANSWER lies within.

The usual links:

Unverified Voracity Quantifies Special Teams

Unverified Voracity Quantifies Special Teams

Submitted by Brian on November 9th, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Profiling, again. The Daily continues its streak of crushing everyone out there with Michigan football profiles, this time hitting up Deerfield Beach for the Denard Robinson story. Cue adorable child who doesn't like you stealing her soul:

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Also let's not forget that making Shoelace, Denard Robinson, for uh, shirt, you know, within the NCAA—that isn't legal.

The story itself is another epic five-pager. Sounds like he was a natural:

“He loved to run that ball,” Huggins says, looking over his old stomping grounds at Westside Park. “He’d tell me, ‘Coach, call quarterback sneak!’ I’d tell him no, to hand it off, and so he’d fake the handoff and keep it and run for a ton of yards.”

Zone read from the start. This is a read the whole thing situation.

From "it won't work in the Big Ten" to this. Illinois blog Hail to the Orange (wait… what?) on Saturday:

The difference is, and the major problem on Saturday, was that with Michigan when we bit, we paid dearly, every time. It seemed as though just one missed tackle, one bad angle and the punishment was a touchdown. We were running a contain game most of the day against Denard, and we paid because there was relatively little pressure against him, giving his receivers too much time to get open, and when combined with a play action always were open. The result: 305 PASSING yards from the Nard dog.

There were of course some bright spots. We have continued the trend of taking the ball away from the other team and not giving it back. (Five TO's recovered, to one lost.) Against teams not made out of tiny track stars coated in butter, this will equate to a win.

We will not see another team this offensively talented this season (pending a bowl bid) generally we can improve our decision making in the secondary enough to not give up constant 75 yard bombs, at least I hope not.

Here's the crazy thing: that first bit on "paid dearly, every time" isn't even true. You know that interception Denard zinged over Webb's head? That's either a touchdown or Webb gets run down from behind as Michigan switched up the QB Lead Oh Noes from the slot receiver to the TE. The safety who intercepted the ball was headed for Roundtree and dead meat until the ball went ZING. I've got two separate RPS+3 plays that end in disaster for Michigan already. If anything, Michigan's immolation of the Illinois defense is even more impressive on review because it could have been considerably worse if Denard makes a few better throws. I think we've established that Denard's not going to make great throws all the time, but man… in the UFR Michigan's going to have a huge RPS number.

The whole thing's driven Vic Koennig to despondency:

"They get you in a run, run, run mode then they drop back and hit a pass on you. They had us running around and not doing anything well."

Srs, his postgame presser is like watching a dog get kicked. Meanwhile on the Michigan sideline, Illinois has just scored to go up 45-38 aaaaand…

gergdigginforgold

Fair? No. Accurate? Yes. User Tom Pickle with the win.

Sorry about nearly killing you. That guy who got plowed on the sideline during Tate's double personal foul keeper in overtime was actually Channel 7's Don Shane. The two shared a heartwarming moment afterwards:

He's got the flags to prove it, Don.

More advanced metricing. Michigan's moved up to #3 nationally in FO's S&P ratings… on offense. They're just behind Auburn and Boise State, #1 on "standard downs" and #6 on pass downs. Ohio State(!) is a surprising #5, and then the next Big Ten team is #17 Wisconsin. Michigan is #98 on defense. Woo.

I also asked Brian Fremeau for Michigan's kickoff numbers to see if that aspect of the game is actually hurting them much. I asked him last week and never got around to posting them, so these are a little out of date. In an effort to reduce confusion I'm going to flip signs so negative is always bad and positive is good. The units here are in average points away from expectation.

Kickoffs: –0.054 (79th)
Kick Return: –0.099 (95th)

Punts: +0.101 (13th)
Punt return: –0.023 (77th)

What this means is for every ten Michigan punts Michigan has saved a point in expected field position; for every ten kick returns they've lost a point in expected field position. So.

  • Points on kickoffs (58): -3.1
  • Points on kick returns (56): -5.5
  • Points on punts (30): +3.0
  • Points on punt returns(40): –0.9

Grand total: around –6.5 pending how Michigan's performance against Illinois changes the numbers (I'm guessing it doesn't change much since Michigan gave up some good returns but also busted the long one before the half).

Meanwhile, Michigan's no longer national-worst kickers (up to 117!) are –1.0 per FGA. They've attempted 11, so the field goal situation is almost twice as damaging as the rest of it. All told Michigan's losing about two points a game on special teams, which doesn't sound like much until you consider that flipping that stat would take Michigan's scoring margin from +5 to +9.

Belated Free Press denouement. I had football to talk about and didn't get around to this but a few bits and pieces to wrap up the jihad. A national take from Doc Sat:

The tepid infractions that came to light as a result of the Freep's digging are the minimum you'd expect to find at any sprawling program operating under a massive handbook, as the basic cost of employing fallible human beings while continuing to dead-lift with the Joneses. Other programs, however, weren't the target of an investigation by a major metropolitan newspaper that left no stone unturned in its efforts to make a splash against a high-profile coach who almost immediately cleaved the fan base down the middle. Michigan was, which is why it was Michigan that was forced to roll its eyes and slap itself on the wrist in halfhearted contrition as the "probation" label is applied for the first time in school history.

Chait drops Chaitbombs to the point where the fiancée thinks she should use this

Here's the headline of one report: "RichRod gets win, but still needs more on field" Here's the headline of a second: "UM's violations deemed major, but not serious" And here's a third: "NCAA's verdict: Rodriguez ignored rules; U-M gets more probation"

Those headlines came from ESPN, the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press. You can probably guess which was which.

…as part of a media framing discussion in future classes she teaches. MVictors has audio from Brandon's appearance on WTKA wherein he said

“We apologized yesterday because we made mistakes.  I’m kinda waiting for somebody from the media to apologize for mistakes they made.  And I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen, but that would be a nice thing, wouldn’t it?”

And of course the guy who asked if Rodriguez would be fired and got a death glare was Drew Sharp. Brandon should have asked "when is the Free Press going to fire you?"

Etc.: Wisconsin's John Clay and starting center Peter Konz are "iffy" for this week's game against Indiana. Sounds like they should be good to go for Michigan but sprains can be weird. This Week In Schadenfreude does not feature Colorado because no Colorado fans care anymore. Anything can happen in dead coach walking situations and fans will just shrug and talk about who the next guy is going to be. Michigan State is 9-1 for the first time in a million years and they still can't sell out their game against Purdue without resorting to two-for-one deals.

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 11-8-10

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 11-8-10

Submitted by Tim on November 8th, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.

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Actual News

Denard was suffering symptoms similar to a concussion, so they held him out Saturday. Trainers came to Rich and said Denard should be held out. He was tested yesterday and should be fine. Will be full-go this week. Might have been the helmet-to-helmet, not positive. Denard's arm "felt a whole lot better" against Illinois, the knee isn't 100%, but it's good. "I'm hoping he'll be feeling as good as he's felt in weeks this weekend."

Teric Jones has a torn ACL and is out for the rest of the season.

Mike Martin is better, Mouton is limited with a chest muscle issue. He might be held out of full-contact tomorrow. Not sure if Mouton will be available this weekend. "I'll know more tomorrow." He was able to play through it for part of the game, so it may not be that serious.

Will know today if Fitz Toussaint will be available this weekend.

Perry Dorrestein could have played against Illinois if they needed him. He's a lot better now than he was the past couple weeks.

JT Floyd had his surgery. Troy Woolfolk is out of his walking boot, working out upper body only. Mike Jones is good after his surgery. Tae Odoms "is fine after his surgery." Not sure if any of those guys will be able to go in spring practice, but they're doing well.

"I think Craig [Roh] - that move putting him at end is probably gonna stick." That's his better position, and he's more physically suited for it than he was last year with more bulk. "Playing him at end, especially at open-side end is better for him." JB Fitzgerald played pretty well in the same spot. "Obi's got some experience, Kevin Leach played a bit too." Mark Moundros should be in line for more playing time.

Illinois and Team

They rotate through the backs by feel. Vincent Smith is the most well-rounded, Michael Shaw has good burst, and Stephen Hopkins is the big guy. If a fourth guy steps up, they'd like to roll 4 backs in and out.

Roy Roundtree is a good athlete with great ball skills, and he's getting bigger. He has a good feel for getting open. "Roy's got kind of a natural feel for that." They saw that when he was in high school. #1 jersey - "I'm not touching no number things... Nobody's asking for it - it might be because they don't want to deal with all the drama either, I don't know." Roy likes #12, even if it's not a top seller in the stores.

Mark Huyge has done well in place of Perry. "We wouldn't hesitate at all to put Michael Schofield in there either. Michael Schofield can play too. He's just a redshirt freshman, but he's ready to play." Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury are also good young players on the OL.

Been good most of the year with not turning the ball over outside of a couple games, but they're disappointed in their inability to gain turnovers. "We're not quite creating turnovers, and we talked about that a lot with the defensive staff." Are they not in position to make plays, or not causing confusion for the opponent? There's no simple answer, but they're addressing it. Through the turnovers, the team managed to bounce back.

"The things that our guys kept doing was they kept competing." Didn't matter if they were down, up, after a turnover, etc. Young guys kept their poise, even though many of them should be redshirting in a perfect world. "There's a lot of growing lessons happening." There was no one particular thing that led to turnover problems. There was a great play by Illinois, poor ball security for Gallon, Tate coming off the bench cold, a couple missed reads. "It wasn't all just one thing."

In light of some of the inexperience the defense puts on the field (which really doesn't happen anywhere else), they competed well. Forced a few 3 and outs, 5 or 6 stops. The offense put the D in a couple bad spots with turnovers, and they responded well.

"Illinois is one of the most athletic teams in the league, and we frankly have to get more athletic." That comes through development - size too. Have to address it in recruiting as well. "Recruiting is going well, and our strength staff I think is the best in the country."

Not sure why the wheel routes were open - not same RB, not same coverage. "To be open is one thing, to be that wide open is another thing." A couple guys just made mistakes in coverage. "I would expect we'll probably see a play similar to that in every game going forward (laughs), so we'll be working on it quite a bit."

"I thought we tackled OK. we didn't tackle great." Didn't get off blocks well, especially on the perimeter on options. Part of that is Illinois's ability.

Not worried about offensive swagger "but our defense needed some." A defensive play won the game at the end, which will hopefully give them confidence going forward.

On the final 2-point conversion, Illinois was running a rub route, Michigan was bringing 7 rushers. "They got us rubbed off pretty good, but the pressure got to him first."

If you had veteran corners, you can blitz more. Michigan doesn't have that, so they have to be careful and pick their moments. "Nobody wants to sit there and die a slow death." Working a lot on mixing up defensive looks so opponent won't know coverage pre-snap.

"I'm the hardest one on our defensive coaches, because I think there's a certain standard we should be playing at." Playing this many freshmen and young guys is probably unprecedented. "It was a perfect storm of injuries and misfortune that got us here."

Quinton Washington played goal line and short yardage D. "I think that move may stay." Not sure how long it will take until he's ready to play in base defense. "Hopefully he'll get a little closer this week with that."

Kenny Demens - "He was really pretty consistent in the game Saturday. This was one of his better games." He was in the right spot and made some big tackles. He's not really experienced, but this is his first extended playing time.

Ray Vinopal is a young guy, so will make some mistakes. He was well-coached in high school, and is a smart football player. "We make all of our own judgments on our guys. These recruiting sites really do a pretty good job for the most part rating them, but we don't ever make our judgments based on what a recruiting site rates them."

Courtney Avery - "They got the one touchdown on him, and he wasn't that far out of position." He was nervous, but didn't show it. "I think he'll be able to grow from that, and I'm really excited about him." Getting quality experience will add depth when Troy and JT return too.

Worry about opponents' athleticism for kickoff coverage. "We had been pretty solid all year covering kicks, but we let a couple get out of there Saturday."

When there's not dropoff between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams, you'll be a good football team because you can handle injuries. "We're there at some positions this year, but most positions we're not." QB, RB, and OL to a degree. "Nowhere on defense are we there."

Winning an exciting game is maybe even more important than getting the 6th win from an emotion level in the post-game celebration. "The guys have been through a lot, they have been. That's why I've been so proud of the focus that they've kept." Even when they've faced adversity, they know that have to move past it. "If it helps them have a little enthusiasm and a little pep in their step, that's good" to get confidence, etc. after a win. Even if some people didn't play well, they'll be more confident after a win and that's positive going forward.

Purdue

Hasn't had a conversation with Danny Hope about what happened last year. Have only briefly spoken during the conference meetings.

Motivation won't be an issue, especially with Purdue getting wins in the past two meetings. Purdue has had some QB injuries, fast skill guys, two good defensive ends. "I want our guys to feel good for a couple days" but that doesn't mean they'll overlook Purdue.

They match up in certain spots with Purdue, particularly at QB and WR, but Purdue is athletic up front on the OL. "Defensively, we have some athleticism, but not enough. Not enough speed yet."

Not yet sure which quarterbacks Purdue will have back this week - if Rob Henry will be available.

Etc.

On getting to a bowl - "No question it was a sense of relief, not only for the staff and the players, but particularly for the seniors." They earned the chance to extend their college career for one more game, and they'll get another month as members of the team.

Important if you have a lot of young players to get those 15 bowl practices. "We have a lot of young players that they're going to have to develop and they'll have to get ready to help us, especially on defense." Early enrollees can't participate in bowl practices. RR thinks that's a good policy.

Not necessarily more injuries (across the country) now, just more public. Guys are getting bigger and faster, so maybe there are more injuries. FieldTurf has probably saved 25% of knee injuries vs. Astroturf.

Injury report - want it to be fair to the kids by being accurate from the source. Families know first, but don't want to have incorrect reports published.

Won all three times he's been in a triple OT game. Couldn't imagine how tough it would be to lose one. "We have a hard time sleeping anyway as coaches. I can imagine how many plays you'd replay in your head over at night... there's so many plays that can make a difference in the game, and if you win them, you think about them and move on." If they won a 10-7 overtime game, it would be a shock (to only score that much), but they'll take any win they can.

Wins help the players stay confident for the future, prevent spiraling. "Even though it might not have been a really good game for them individually, it was a good game for Michigan." The guys get to enjoy that moment.

Assistant coaches tell Coach Rod about negative recruiting stories they hear on the road. "I think we have enough positives here that we can accentuate the positive."

Has never had a non-kicker/punter have to attempt an extra point. Thought Suh's kick was going to be good, and he just barely missed it.

Hide Ya Kids, Hide Ya Wife

Hide Ya Kids, Hide Ya Wife

Submitted by Brian on November 8th, 2010 at 11:15 AM

11/6/2010 – Michigan 67, Illinois 65 (3OT) – 6-3, 2-3 Big Ten

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Ariel Bond/Daily

At the risk of convincing everyone that the first impossibly apropos moppet was fiction, let me tell you about this impossibly apropos moppet a few rows in front of me.

He was about ten. He was wearing a number seven jersey and when he took his hat off for the national anthem his hair was staticky. Before the game he was hopping up in down in an attempt to burn off nervous energy, and when Michigan ran out to touch the banner his mind was blown. He exclaimed "this is so AWESOME" as only a ten-year-old boy can. The words forced themselves out in self defense—if they hadn't the pressure would have given him an aneurysm. I know what that excitement is like. I remember getting a Nintendo.

I can't imagine what his mind is like four fighter jets, three overtimes, 132 points, and one last-play win later. He's probably sitting at his desk right now, mouth slightly ajar and drooling, involuntarily twitching out the words "so" and "awesome" as the rest of the class learns to count to 15 in Spanish. Plans to put him on ritalin have been temporarily shelved. His father has been asked "what did you do to the boy?"

The father can only shrug and say "talk to Ron Zook, Rich Rodriguez, and Greg Robinson."

---------------------------------

What can you say about a game like that? You can say it was entirely appropriate for Special K to play the Bed Intruder song. Yes. Michigan and Illinois just went Rasputin on that barn. They burned it, then they napalmed it, then they nuked it, then they shot up the radioactive wasteland for the hell of it, then they poisoned a flat expanse of glass with holes in it, then they dug it up and threw it into the river for it to drown. And then it was halftime.

While the kid was getting the football equivalent of heroin in his eyeballs it seemed like the rest of the stadium was strangely muted once it became clear that touchdowns were more like baskets than goals. Any individual event was far less important in a game that would last until mid-day Sunday.

I was with them. I still remember thinking "that's 30% of the points we need to win" after Michigan's first touchdown in the 2006 Ohio State game. I was raised on three yards and a cloud of dust, and while I could not be more grateful that Michigan's offense now has run plays beyond "zone left" and "zone right," this style of football is all frisson. It piles up and up and up. It's amazing, but when you're not ten your mind only has so much to give before it gets complacent. Things don't build up, they just happen. So when Roy Roundtree scores on the first play of the game you're happy but you're also wondering how they're going to blow it.

The answer was "in all ways possible with a special emphasis on running back wheel routes." But they kept setting things right until Jonas Mouton leapt over a cut block and Craig Roh stunted inside and Nathan Scheelhaase finally had nowhere to go but down. My reaction to this was very strange. After feeling dampened most of the day I cracked and hugged my fiancée—making her annual pilgrimage—long and hard and relieved. So relieved.

This team isn't good at all but I love it. If Craig Roh gets to class early he runs up and down steps in his spare time. Roy Roundtree does a Donald Duck impression and wakes up hungry. Tate Forcier's gone from sulking on the bench and "out" to leaping around like a madman after leading a comeback win over Illinois and coming somewhat close to the same against Iowa. And then there's Denard, and the most put-upon man on the planet, and I just want them to succeed because it will make them happy.

A lot of sports fandom does degenerate into rooting for you in that sad Nick Hornby way. While I'm not anywhere near sports Buddhism, more and more prominent among the millions of reasons I want Michigan to win is because of how it will validate all this crap they have to put up with.

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Even if that goes with the territory at Michigan, what's gone on the last three years long ago crossed the line from disappointed and upset to nastily personal, on everyone's part.

Almost everyone, anyway. After the game we're walking up the bleachers and the kid's right in front of us, trying to show his father his hand. His father seems to acknowledge the hand, but not enough for the kid's taste. "I'm never washing this hand again," he says. "Denard gave me a high five." He wears an Adidas wristband like the players. He doesn't care about anything other than Michigan won and I touched Denard and this is awesome. I think about White Noise, a Don DeLillo book I don't actually like that much* about the paralyzing fear of death driving middle aged academics literally insane, and how the only moments of respite in the book are thanks to the presence of an infant named Wayne or Warren or something.

So Saturday was awesome, and this is my favorite bad team ever, and goddammit I'm going to their nondescript bowl.

junior-hemingway-illinoistate-forcier-illinoisroy-roundtree-illinois

via Tim

*(The moment in American literature when ironically capitalizing marketing messages to assert that the background radiation of advertising has become our national discourse has mercifully passed—David Foster Wallace got away with it a few times but only just, and not always.)

Non-Bullets, Amazingly Long

Head injuries. Michigan's bombing Illinois with Denard and pulls him because of a headache and some concussion-like symptoms in a game that is almost make or break for Rich Rodriguez's career. And he could even see:

"Certainly for his safety, you're not going to put him back out there," Rodriguez said. "I'm not a doctor, so I can't tell you where he is, but he had a smile on his face and he was talking, but obviously, you're going to be precautionary.

"Anytime you get hit there and you've got some headaches, you're going to watch that."

Is there anyone who's been unfairly demonized more than him? "Win at all costs." Right.

  

(HT: the Wolverine Blog.)

Skill position contributions. My takeaway from the offense other than "duuurrrr" was that's what it looks like when the skill position players are adding yards of their own. Vincent Smith made a lot of great glide cuts on the zone stretch, spun through a couple tackles, and had his best day as a runner at Michigan. Junior Hemingway's sideline rain dance created another touchdown from 15-20 yards, and Roy Roundtree was finding epic YAC. That's something we've been missing most of the year save for Stonum's screen touchdown against UMass, which is UMass and was not the #15 defense in the country entering the game.

Stretching it. Speaking of the stretch: it came back. Michigan had gone almost exclusively to an inside run game earlier in the year, and that worked well enough, but I think part of the issue with getting Denard some zone keepers has been that move away. The stretch makes it tough on the backside defensive end because if he's going to tackle the tailback on a cutback he has to flow down the line hard. On all the inside zone stuff Michigan's been running he can hang out and do whatever and still have a decent chance of making a play. That's why Michigan has been blocking the backside guy all year and probably why I'm always a little frustrated by Denard never keeping the ball.

They brought it back for Illinois and I'm pretty sure what I'll see in the UFR is an ass-kicking day from David Molk. On Michigan's last touchdown they went to the stretch on second and goal from the five. Corey Liuget, who is an all-conference type of player, shot into the backfield; Molk walled him off and eventually sent him to the ground. There wasn't a hint of a hold on the play, but a frustrated Liuget did the flag motion thing to the referee and just stood there exasperated as Michigan celebrated a touchdown that came on a gaping hole from the five because Liuget had just gotten owned.

The stretch also seemed to revitalize Vincent Smith, who had the opportunity to make darting cuts past traffic and find the creases as they developed. I'll be interested to see how it holds up on film.

End of half game theory stuff. Reverse on the kickoff was a beautiful playcall because in that situation if you get hammered for a loss you can probably just run the clock out. A perfect time for that call and one that got Michigan in scoring position with a minute on the clock. That's a win.

In retrospect, the decision to kick was not so much. I didn't think about this at the time so I'm not blaming anyone else for not thinking about it either, but with Michigan's defense and 42 seconds (IIRC) on the clock the argument for going for it is a lot stronger than it would be with 12, because if you get it you're robbing Illinois of the opportunity to get that last possession in. Even if you don't get it, most coaches will just head to the locker room if they get the ball on their own 15.

Defensive moves. While the defense remained horrendous, it wasn't nearly as horrendous as it was against Penn State (and Matt McGloin did just bomb Northwestern for 35 points despite Robert Bolden playing the first two series, so that performance was only 90% completely awful). PSU had 41 points on nine real drives; Illinois had 45 in regulation on 16, many of which started in advantageous field position after Michigan turnovers and one Hagerup punt from his endzone.

Moving Craig Roh back to defensive end seemed to pay immediate dues, but Michigan kept flipping between three and four man lines with the fourth guy on the line either Obi Ezeh or JB Fitzgerald. Illinois ran right at that and had good success—that was the setup on the first and twenty option that went the distance, though I'm pretty sure the culpable party there was Mouton. Anyway, Cam Gordon looked a lot better in his second game at spur and you can tell the difference in tackling technique between him and Ray Vinopal—Vinopal uses his arms. Sweet.

Gordon looks like a much better fit as his current position. He was surprisingly adept at blitzing—he'd get the edge on the Illinios tackle and come around to flush Scheelhaase a few times.

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Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com

Demens,  yo. Another thing that will have to wait for the tape but: I'm pretty sure Kenny Demens had a great game unless he blew a lot of coverage (which is possible). The number of runs that were heading outside the tackles for what looked like big gains until they were suddenly cut down by Demens after he cut through a block seemed like it was around a half dozen.

Not a controversy but not a clear cut thing either. I was thinking this myself but Adam Jacobi already wrote it and blockquoting is easy:

Forcier is clearly not Denard, but the fact remains that Forcier is good enough that he should be spelling Robinson periodically throughout Michigan's game regardless of Robinson's health. Michigan has two starting-quality quarterbacks, and as Robinson's accumulation of minor injuries demonstrates, they clearly need to use them! It's just up to Rich Rodriguez to use both on his own terms, rather than waiting for Robinson to get knocked out of the game first.

The frequency of Denard Robinson dings has seen Forcier enter most games this year, with extended relief appearances in the fourth quarter of the Iowa and Illinois games. When Forcier comes in Michigan generally punts quickly (or Forcier yakety saxes an unforced fumble). Forcier gets his feet under him a bit later and things are fine. It may be time to put Forcier in on the regular, say two or three drives a game. This would reduce wear on Robinson, have Forcier ready to play each week, throw defenses a curveball, and lessen the chances a desperately-needed Forcier lights out for somewhere else after the season. The offense doesn't seem quite as good when Tate's in there but the difference isn't vast and the benefits are tangible.

Special K, I hate you. The level of odiousness from Special K was exceeded by a factor of 100 on Saturday when he played "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" and "Down with the Sickness." We've gone from minor league hockey to WWE. Thanks, Special K. This is the no-BS one thing that makes me think the Brandon era will be something other than a success: he hasn't taken this guy and put him in stocks on the diag.

Elsewhere

The game broke SBNation's animated drive chart widget. MVictors covers the Mud Bowl and has a photo gallery from the game. Cake:

mmb-cake

Some photos from an Illinois guy. AnnArbor.com has an extensive collection as well.. Purdue blogger guarantees victory over Michigan. The Hoover Street Rag riffs on A Better Son/Daughter. Doc Sat's take:

If for some reason you were kidnapped by maniac who forced you at gunpoint to make sense of Michigan's roller-coaster season in 12 words or less, you'd probably settle for something like this: The offense is unstoppable. The defense is horrible. Denard Robinson got hurt.

If you hadn't seen a single one of the Wolverines' first eight games, that would pretty much bring you up to speed coming into today, except for one minor detail: Against a string of respectable competition over the last month, you could also add "Wolverines lose."

And a random video of the Michigan drumline:

There's another one on the tubes as well.

An finally, Maize n Brew headline:

Hallelujah!!!! Holy [email protected]#%

Illinois Video Of All Varieties

Illinois Video Of All Varieties

Submitted by Brian on November 7th, 2010 at 10:35 AM

Hey, remember when Michigan won games and people put lots of video on the internet? Me neither. But apparently they do. There's an SD torrent up already.

This week's headliner is Roy Roundtree being fantastic, as per usual:

The official site's highlight reel necessarily leaves out almost everything, but if you're looking for a quick primer on about 20% of the scoring here it is:

Wolverine Historian put together an extensive clip package that's after the jump.

Tim caught the on-field celebration:

Tim's photo gallery:

The halftime show was epic (and was recapped by the Hoover Street Rag):

This is an official petition for the band to have their insane wildcat tackle fake Brutus every week. For twenty minutes straight.

More interviews, highlights, and random bits after the jump.