Opponent Recap: Illinois

Opponent Recap: Illinois Comment Count

Heiko February 14th, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Previously: Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, San Diego StateMinnesotaNorthwesternMichigan StatePurdue, Iowa

Illinois

Schedule:

  • Arkansas State, 33-15 (W)
  • South Dakota State, 56-3 (W)
  • No. 22 Arizona State, 17-14 (W)
  • Western Michigan, 23-20 (W)
  • Northwestern, 38-35 (W)
  • @ Indiana, 41-20 (W)
  • Ohio State, 7-17 (L)
  • @ Purdue, 14-21 (L)
  • @ No. 19 Penn State, 7-10 (L)
  • No. 24 Michigan, 14-31 (L)
  • No. 17 Wisconsin, 17-28 (L)
  • @ Minnesota, 7-27 (L)
  • UCLA, 20-14 (W), Emerald Bowl

Record: 7-6 overall, 2-6 B1G, 5th place Woody Division

Stats:

  Offense Defense
Rush: 171.7 ypg, 41st 123.8 ypg, 25th
Pass: 184.0 ypg, 91st 162.3 ypg, 3rd
Total: 355.7 ypg, 85th 286.2 ypg, 7th
Scoring: 22.6 ppg, 91st 19.6 ppg, 15th
T/O Margin:  -6, 95th

Recap: Ron Zook’s last season at Illinois was the mirror image of Rich Rod’s last season at Michigan. Instead of a stellar offense trying to keep pace with a defense that kept giving up free touchdowns, it was a stellar defense trying to hold up long enough for the offense to maybe fall forward into field goal range.

The offense wasn’t that horrible at the beginning of the season. At least, it wasn’t supposed to be. The Illini returned QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who had a breakout freshman season of sorts in 2010. They lost RB Mikel Leshoure to the Lions, for whom he couldn’t play because he tore his Achilles tendon (but hey, who’s bitter about that), but they had seemingly quality options behind him in Jason Ford and Troy Pollard. At receiver they had a quality deep threat in A.J. Jenkins, who finished 6th in the Big Ten in yardage the previous season.

  

Scheelhaase, Ford, Jenkins

(more after the jump)

Comments

Opponent Watch: Week 12

Opponent Watch: Week 12 Comment Count

Heiko November 23rd, 2011 at 11:32 AM

(Wait. Which one is Michigan playing again?)

About Last Weekend:

No. 16 Nebraska 17, No. 18 Michigan 45 (W)

"Guess why I smile a lot."

"Why?"

"Uh, 'cause it's worth it."

 

The Road Ahead:

Ohio State (6-5, 3-4 B1G)

Getty / via the Huffington Post

Previously:

  • Akron, 42-0 (W)
  • Toledo, 27-22 (W)
  • @ Miami, 24-6 (L)
  • Colorado, 37-17 (W)
  • Michigan State, 10-7 (L)
  • @ No. 14 Nebraska, 34-27 (L)
  • @ No. 16 Illinois, 17-7 (W)
  • No. 15 Wisconsin, 33-29 (W)
  • Indiana, 34-20
  • @ Purdue 26-23 OT (LOL)

Last game: No. 21 Penn State 20, Ohio State 14 (L)

Recap: Recap. Have to do a recap. Last recap. Gotta finish by the end of Tuesday. Tuesday's over. Damn. Gotta finish by Wednesday. One-day-late Championship recap. Okay.

... Ohio State fell into a hole early. Penn State RB Stephfon Green took a run up the middle, evaded some tackles, and sprinted 39 yards for a touchdown. 7-0 Nittany Lions.

The ensuing Buckeyes drive stalled because Ohio State C Mike Brewster snapped the ball into his ass while QB Braxton Miller was in shotgun formation. (I think this is when this particular bad snap happened. Bad snaps happened many times throughout this game. I think Brewster ended up blaming it on his gloves.)

Penn State drove and got a field goal, miring the Buckeyes in their third 10-0 deficit in as many weeks.

Ohio State wasn’t dead, though. Not yet. Miller ran the option to good effect and scored on a 24-yard keeper; most of the Buckeyes’ large chunks on the ground came from his option keepers, which is to say he kept the ball every time. He and Denard are both members of the “never pitch” movement.

That’s not anything relevant, but I google imaged “option keeper” and it’s what I got.

Also, WR DeVier Posey returned from suspension. He didn’t make a huge impact (4 catches, 66 yards), but he was pretty much the entire passing offense, and he did do this.

All of this game’s points were scored in the first half before the allure of B1G football got the better of both teams. Penn State scored another touchdown and field goal in the first half but failed to convert on a redzone opportunity in the second half when Ohio State turned the ball over on a fumble.

On that possession, the Buckeyes defense mounted an impressive goal-line stand to keep the Nittany Lions out of the end zone.

The second Buckeye touchdown came in the second quarter when Braxton Miller found TE Jake Stoneburner on a deep crossing route in the end zone. It was an impressive throw. Something tells me that he might eventually be pretty good when he’s given a real offense to work with.

You probably know the rest. Ohio State drove ferociously for a Hail Mary opportunity in the final minutes, but the first fourth-down conversion fell short when a Miller scramble, set back by a false-start penalty, fell short of the first down marker. The second attempt after a quick Penn State three-and-out fell incomplete because Penn State actually knows how to cover receivers. Unlike you, Wisconsin. For shame.

Right now they are as frightening as: Voldemort down to his last Horcrux.

Michigan should worry about: When you look at Miller’s highlight reel, the thing that stands out is that he scrambles effectively to buy time for his receivers to get open. He keeps his eyes downfield, and his instincts are usually good when it comes to finally tucking and running. A lot of his game-winning or almost-game-winning touchdowns came when he danced around in the backfield for some length before finding his target.

To get to him, Michigan’s secondary will need to stay on receivers for a lot longer than they’re used to, and D-line discpline will be essential. If he’s able to break through the containment, Miller will make plays.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: The Nittany Lions rushed for 239 yards on not that many carries. Their running backs consistently found enormous holes in the Buckeyes defensive line and frequently had to be tracked down from behind by linebackers. It looked like Ohio State’s defensive line was caught in pass rush mode at the wrong times -- the ends were way overcommitted, allowing the backs to run right by them.

Next game: No. 15 That School Up North 

(more after the jump)

Comments

Unverified Voracity Thumps Tigers

Unverified Voracity Thumps Tigers Comment Count

Brian November 22nd, 2011 at 11:30 AM

image

Sponsor thanks. It's The Game week, when tailgates are packed with people you haven't seen all year and space is tight. If you plan with our local sponsor Park n Party you get peace of mind and a total lack of implied eyebrow cocking at your lack of support. Visit their Ohio State reservations page. Or I'll lift that bad boy.

NOM. So this was weird.

Explanation:

"This program's been starving for a while," Robinson said Monday. "It's time for us to make something happen.

"We've been starving. It's time for us to eat."

BONUS THING YOU CAN HEAR IN YOUR HEAD LIKE FARNSWORTH:

Michigan hasn't beaten the Buckeyes since 2003, when Robinson still was in the seventh grade at Deerfield Beach Middle School.

"Oh man, that's crazy!" Robinson said.

Kablam. Memphis: you officially suck worse than Western Illinois. Sorry.

This would likely not be true if Trey Burke wasn't as horrendously underrated as Tim Hardaway was last year. Check the postgame presser transcript at UMHoops for Trey Burke's opinion on that item.

The constant referencing of five-star Joe Jackson makes the lines to read between less than cryptic. Good thing Rivals dumped him lower after his Ohio Mr. Basketball high school season. Credibility: shot. ESPN is currently the worldwide leader in Michigan-basketball-related recuiting cred.

Anyway. Big win against a team whose flaws won't be exposed much against a Conference USA schedule and should end up a nice neutral-site feather in the cap when it comes tourney time. Most impressive aspect of it: defensive rebounding. Even with Morgan out big chunks of the game and Michigan playing with Smotrycz at the 5 a for a not-inconsiderable period of time, Michigan rebounded something like 80% of Memphis misses. That should mitigate your otherwise understandable Smotrycz frustration.

Chad Ford checked the game out and reported back on a couple of players the NBA finds notable. On Burke:

What stood out most was Burke's poise in the face of an athletic and aggressive defense from Memphis. A number of NBA scouts are keeping a close eye on Burke. While he's not an elite draft prospect yet, the potential -- thanks to a great NBA body, quickness and poise -- is there.

    On Hardaway:

Hardaway grew an inch to 6-foot-6 this summer, but where he's really grown is in his shot selection. Last season, Hardaway shot 42 percent from the field. He's now at 49 percent for the season and is playing under control more and more. While scouts saw him as a marginal pro prospect coming into the season, they are warming to him. Several told me after Michigan's practice on Saturday that they were impressed by his maturity and leadership. If he keeps playing like this all week, he could be a potential late first-round pick.

I've heard that the Hardaway plan is three and out, which makes sense in that context. Establishing yourself as maybe a late first rounder is usually not a reason to leave unless you're jumping into the weakest NBA draft in a long time, like Morris.

Ford also pointed out the various massively ranked Memphis players who struggled against Michigan, particularly post Tarik Black, who "should have dominated the Michigan bigs." He made one field goal.

Beilein owned Josh Pastner, which makes sense. Pastner is a glorified agent. Seriously:

"We're not a big zone team," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner, whose team went 19-for-57 from the floor. "(Michigan is) very good at what they do."

That is not about Memphis playing zone. It's about them playing against it. Josh Pastner: agent.

Other Memphis items: UMHoops recap and a David Merritt photo gallery. Michigan plays Duke at 7 tonight.

Seniors. The Daily on Michigan's seniors:

“There were rumors that Denard (Robinson) was going to transfer,” said fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen. “There was going to be people going all over the place. Everybody was going to jump ship.”

“We’ve seen it before — we saw it when coach (Lloyd) Carr left and Rich Rodriguez came in — where everyone who was on that swing fence, where they could either leave or stay, they left,” added fifth-year senior center David Molk. “And we kind of disbanded as a team. And it wasn’t good for our team in a lot of ways.”

In early January, Van Bergen and Molk called a team meeting to make sure everyone bought in — not to a coach, but to themselves.

“We didn’t really have (a coach),” Van Bergen said. “There was speculation it was going to be the coach from Stanford or LSU. And we’re just like, ‘We need to stick together. Whatever happens, we’ve got a good thing going that people don’t necessarily see.’

“We wanted to see this thing through.”

One more win.

We be having the moneys. Random bit of an enormous XKCD chart on money:

image

Injury whine. I try not to use the word whine, but Nebraska complaining about Michigan simulating injuries in Saturday's game is a straight-up no-evidence whine about getting annihilated. Michigan had all of two defensive injuries on Saturday. Jordan Kovacs went out. Kovacs:

  • is one of Michigan's best players
  • did not return for the rest of the drive
  • was clearly getting attended to on the sideline
  • had been on the field for like twenty plays all game because of Nebraska's offensive incompetence

Sure, that's definitely an injury Michigan faked. The other one was Brennen Beyer; I watched that happen from the stands and knew he was hurt as soon as it happened. This is not MSU falling over and winking about it in the postgame.

Why you should not be mad at Borges for Illinois. Is anyone? Probably not. In case you are, this bit from A Lion Eye in a post containing various items on their impending coach search emphasizes the wind conditions in Champaign:

Wind.  It plays a role in 60% of the games played in Memorial Stadium.  There are no hills in east central Illinois, and because of that, the wind rolls in off the plains unabated.  And the design of the stadium doesn’t help – the balconies concentrate the wind towards the center of the field.

As head football coach, I will make that wind my obsession.  The wind is there for nearly every October and November game, so when those games arrive, my team will have an advantage. 

I will have had my quarterbacks work on giving it a little extra and taking a little off.  I will train my punters to read the flags and set their angle accordingly.  And my returners – yes, I will pull my returners out to practice on a windy day, put them on the turf inside the stadium, and have each and every one of them learn how far a ball will drift (or die) because of the wind.  My kickoff returners will be ready at the 20 instead of the 8, my punt returners will never let a ball sail over their heads, and my field goal units will be well-versed in the wind swirl that sometimes happens at the south endzone.

Michigan played Illinois on a particular windy day even for that section of the country; after the MSU game and the way the defense set up against the Illini offense any complaints about play selection are complaining for complaining's sake.

Penn State bowl apocalypse scenario. I wondered why Jerry Palm had Penn State in the Hawaii bowl when they're going to be 9-3 at worst; Ryan Terpstra pointed out an article on CBS sports suggesting bowls will look at the Nittany Lions like poison.

I thought that was silly because this is not 'Nam. There are rules. Rules that I thought would preclude the Big Ten bowls from selecting a 7-5 team over a 9-3 team. There is a rule, but not one strong enough to help Penn State out:

CITRUS BOWL — Can select any eligible team after the BCS except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team.

OUTBACK BOWL — Can select any eligible team after the Capital One Bowl except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team. BUT if a second Big Ten team moves up to the BCS, the two-win/loss differential no longer applies.

There are no rules past those two bowls. Penn State is boned since Nebraska and the title game loser will be more attractive candidates.

Even so, I'll believe someone takes Purdue over Penn State when I see it and if I was Delany I'd be leaning on the Fiesta Jr. or Gator to take the Nittany Lions. Dropping them out of the bowl selection order will hurt the league's bowl slate and probably their record.

Worst cheer ever. You know that thing Akron State does when they sing about how they don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan? Yeah, somewhat dumb. One percent as dumb as this in the aftermath of Tennessee's OT win over Vandy:

The team goes on to sing, "Don't give a damn for the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt. Don't give a damn about the whole school of Vanderbilt, we're from Tennessee." Catchy, right?

Tennessee would like you to know that their pathological hatred for Vanderbilt extends to the entirety of… Vanderbilt.

The game, understood. Ramzy on the weekend:

The reality is that like Notre Dame, Michigan has long been everyone's rival, and that's fine for everyone. But Michigan - not the recent odorous, incompetent Michigan, but the traditional pain-in-the-ass Michigan - cannot reciprocate. It can have big national games, it can even have a state championship, but it can only have one arch-rival.

Hoke understood that, and he's given each opponent the appropriate focus and esteem. This isn't great news for Ohio State, who had made this rivalry one-sided in part because Tressel also understood the philosophy that Hoke has clearly embraced.

He is now at the brink of a ten-win season in what had been scheduled to be a year of cleaning up the wreckage of the last three years. Neutralize Ohio State to end his first run and the tone for the Hoke era is established. It would be the ultimate validation of his stewardship and confirmation of his methods.

Should Michigan lose - as an 8.5-point favorite at home to an Ohio State team that is as listless as it is lacking any cohesion - then not only is Hoke's eventual legend weakened, but the success of the 2011 season will be questioned.

This game is ripe for Michigan to take, and convincingly. Failing to do so would lacerate healing wounds. Schembechler won his first Ohio State game. So did Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr. Rodriguez did not, annually losing in a disastrous manner so abysmal it practically had style points.

Whole thing recommended.

Tagged. OSU's Mirror Lake, where people will jump in stuff on Friday:

DQWO3[1]

Via a reader. SWAT teams are been deployed to erase this as we speak.

Etc.: Alumni Association interview with Desmond Howard. Dave Brandon talks economics and stuff, but the Daily's four page transcript gives you access denied after page one. WSJ bombs Paterno with an interview with a "former chief disciplinarian" who Paterno got fired for wanting to, like, discipline people and stuff. Rich Rodriguez hired at Arizona.

Comments

Dear Diary Plays Michigan Defense

Dear Diary Plays Michigan Defense Comment Count

Seth November 18th, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Click for Genesis House Wish ListClick for Booth Shelter Wish List

News note: Late last night 11Warriors posted a tweet claiming two sources and 99.7% certainty of Urban to OSU. If it happens it happens.

Hey look, it's MGoBlog's gift-giving grinch, Gohblue. I do this thing every year where we go to a homeless shelter and throw the kids there a Christmas Party, complete with Santa and gifts, and the past few years MGoBlog has been the difference between two sizes too small and playing Michigan defense. If you can't volunteer, you can still buy something for the kids on Amazon. The date this year is Dec. 3 so if you can contribute now's the time. I still need a photographer. The diary explains in further detail.

And while you're in a holiday donation mood you know what else we need? Your blood, for the annual Michigan-Ohio State blood drive. M-Wolv sent in the details, which you can find here.

THE SLINGER, THE CUTTER, AND THE SHOE

taylor-martinez-5b9a39cfd342c587Denardheisman2

One throws like a girl, one says "WHAAAT?" like a girl, and one's a little bitch. BlueSeoul breaks down some other comparisons between our QB and two very different dual-threats remaining on our schedule, by running style, favorite move, most dangerous running play, weakness, passing style, most dangerous passing play, and how to defend.

You saw the post-Illini weekly 'With Pics' article on the front page. But did you know you can also read his scouting report on Nebraska and Ohio State from when they played each other (or is one of them Wisconsin—damn these exactly alike uniforms).

I know, right -- THREE diaries in one week from BS? We are not worthy! BS is supposed to be out of the running for Diarist of the Week, and there is another good candidate, but three of the best four diaries in a 7-day period means he can share with the other guy.

That other guy was also front-paged. It is Space Coyote, who explains the Drag-Follow play (video) in the latest session of his Football Fundamentals series (link to article). Want to be a Diarist of the Week too? Become a football coach, watch tons of video of Michigan and their opponents, then spend hours putting together an article that can make important trends comprehensible to the masses. Easy.Slide3 Michael Scarn also has a Nebraska preview from his visit to "Happy" Valley* that gave us the tag "Taylor Martinez Seizure Throwing Motion."

MATTISON PLUS ALL THE POINTS

You can also just get good at maths. We got two diaries this week from dnak438, the second (better) an update of the first, tracking M's defensive performance since the year I was a freshman, and Donovan McNabb was running all over us, and everything bad in the world became the fault of James Whitley. For example you see how that red line is higher in 2000 than any year but last? Whitley. See the big blue dip in '06? That's how good Michigan was against Illinois. Mattison plus all the points!

Recruitniks we got two for ya: Ace (the good one) received two very detailed, very glowing reports from Hardware_Sushi and Justin on M targets Stefon Diggs, Wes Brown, Ryan Watson and Kendall Fuller (the last two are juniors) from Blake Countess's alma mater in MD. MGoGarbs and joeyb saw Catholic Central take on Pioneer and came back with scouting reports for Godin and The Drake.

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* We joke, we're all kidders around here. Can I give you my headshot?

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BRIAN ASKS AND YE SHALL RECEIVE:

M Fanfare provides a review of Black and Blue, which is that documentary about Willis Ward, President Ford, and that '34 Georgia Tech game. There's also one up at MVictors.

After the jump, the boards and the weeklies

Comments

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Illinois Comment Count

Brian November 17th, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Thing of the week. Introducing Vampire Denard, as MVictors dubbed him.

vampire-denard

Formation notes: Michigan went heavy shotgun in this game. I've only got nine I-form snaps, two of which came in garbage time. As for how those snaps worked out… more on that later.

Michigan operated with a lot of 2-back sets in this game, from which they deployed a variety of zone runs; when they went three-wide with a TE he was usually aligned as an H-back a la Rodriguez.

Substitution notes: Nothing you don't already know. Line was Lewan/Schofield/Molk/Omameh/Huyge, WR rotation was the same as usual, Denard was knocked out when he hit his hand on a pass-rusher's helmet midway through the third, Toussaint got the bulk of the carries.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Toussaint 0
Wow, good thing I didn't see this live: the NT times the first snap of the game. Anyway: Odoms is in the slot to the short side and comes in motion at the snap; he then appears to get in a pitch relationship with Robinson. Denard hands off on a dive to Toussaint; this is a mistake with the MLB headed to the dive. NT shoots past Omameh thanks to the snap timing and has time to come all the way around to tackle at the LOS. Toussaint had no other options because of the LB, who prevents a yard or two of YAC. RPS -1 for snap jump. RUN-: Robinson(2)
M20 2 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 65
The big run opened by the safety overplaying Robinson. M uses Koger and an H back and shoots him to the backside of the play to get a linebacker crashing down. Denard reads the exchange and hands. There are three second level defenders left with the scrape. One drops into coverage on the snap since the slot blitz left Hemingway open and Michigan threatens passes in these situations. A second tries to blitz the backside belly gap between Omameh and Huyge; Huyge(+1) just manages to get over to slow him down. LB is coming through because he's gotten in too fast but a significant slowdown is enough. The last guy is the free safety, who is still checking Denard by the time Toussaint bursts past the LOS. With Watson(+1) releasing downfield and sealing the cornerback there is nothing but grass in front of Fitz; the other S manages to grab his shirt because all long Toussaint runs this year end with someone grabbing his shirt. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) provided the frontside crease; Toussaint(+2) saw it and hit it immediately. RPS +1. I would normally give this more since there are three guys checking Denard but this is a basic spread play Illinois should not get clunked on like this. Picture paged.
RUN+: Molk, Huyge, Toussaint(2), Schofield, Robinson(0.5), Watson RUN-:
O15 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple option dive Toussaint 6
Denard slightly in front of the TBs, implying inside zone. Hopkins motions into a pitch relationship with Denard on the snap. This pulls both linebackers to the wide side of the field; slot guy comes in to contain and Robinson hands off. Hopkins never even looks at Denard so I don't think this is a read. Schofield(+1) kicks one DT; Molk(+1) another. Omameh(+1) comes off a momentary double to seal the SLB after he stepped the wrong way on the option fake. Lewan(+2) rides a DE five yards downfield. Toussaint hits the crease provided and hops outside... I think he gives up some yards by cutting back behind Lewan instead of just running right for the corner. RPS +1.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Schofield, Molk, Omameh RUN-:
O9 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 9
Slot LB stays with the slot this time; Illinois makes it up with a safety. They blitz a LB right into the intended hole; Smith(+2) hacks him to the ground as Robinson(+1) darts around him. Molk(+1) seals the playside DT; Schofield(+1) and Koger(+1) get downfield to wall off the last two guys. Lewan(-1) almost gets it all blown up by losing his guy; Robinson(+1) glides past that guy and into the endzone.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Smith(2), Molk, Koger, Schofield RUN-: Lewan
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 13 min 1st Q. Craig James says the last play is 'almost like a designed quarterback run'. O RLY?
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Illinois keeps the LB over the slot and sends the guy on the short side; M runs another inside zone. The linebackers slide a little to the backside since Hopkins shooting into that end threatens both a Denard keeper and a Toussaint cutback; the corner has the frontside gap. Or at least he would if Gallon(+1) didn't read his blitz and crack down on him, shoving him past the hole and helping Omameh(+0.5) out on his WLB block. With Molk(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) not doing anything too bad on their blocks Toussaint hits the open hole for a good gain.
RUN+: Gallon, Huyge(0.5), Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5), Toussaint(0.5) RUN-:
O46 2 3 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 1
Bubble complaint lodged. Anyway, Illinois has a corner on one side of the line with no one in his zone since the TE is offset to the WR side. He can run at this as soon as he sees the RB move away from him. He does. On the playside the optioned DE heads upfield so Robinson keeps. Omameh(+1) kicks the playside LB effectively. Cutback means the corner tackles Robinson from behind; even without that Lewan(-1) lost a downblock and Schofield(-1) couldn't get out on a linebacker. RPS -1. Picture paged.
O45 3 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 1
Twinned WRs stacked over each other; Toussaint motions outside of them. No one really goes with him; Illinois is still playing a full two deep so it's six on six in the box. Illinois charges upfield, opening up a draw; a blitzing LB seems like he's supposed to deal with that possibility. Molk(+1) shoves him past the play. Mercilus beats Huyge(-1) upfield in a flash, which wouldn't normally be a problem but the guy actually catches Robinson from behind just as it looks like he's going to burst into the secondary. He can't tackle; he does redirect Denard into the DT peeling back. Omameh(-0.5) could have done a little better here and still made this a big play. Hopkins(+1) got a good block on the last LB. RPS +1; Michigan had this for big yardage but for Mercilus being great.
RUN+: Molk, Hopkins RUN-: Huyge, Omameh(0.5)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q. Boo punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
It's back. This one works because there isn't even a corner anywhere near the WR on the catch since Illinois bit hard on the play action and played soft behind it. Koger(-1) whiffs his block, unfortunately, and Lewan(-1) did not adjust to that reality; meanwhile Schofield(-1) also whiffs. Hard on these guys in space but man, I think one block here is a big, big gainer. RPS +2. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Gallon RUN-: Koger, Schofield, Lewan
M25 2 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson -2
I think this doesn't go anywhere like where it's supposed to go because Molk(-1) cannot react quickly enough to a blitz to prevent a linebacker from getting in past him. Both RBs are headed to the left side of the line but that's no longer an option. Instead of redirecting Toussaint bangs the blitzing LB. Robinson is now alone in some space with two Illinois players. He hesitates(-2) and tries to go back to the play he had already abandoned. If he hits it up directly he may get a yard or two. Instead he loses four; the refs inexplicably say he lost only two. Refs +1, RPS –1.
RUN-: Molk, Robinson(2)
M23 3 4 Shotgun trips bunch 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Delayed slant Hemingway 8
Lovely little route combo here as Odoms runs a drag across the field and Koger releases deep as Hemingway just kind of hangs out at the line waiting for everyone to GTFO. Denard stares down the drag, drawing a zoning DE, and then comes off on a wide open slant for the first. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1) This was explained in the Football Fundamentals diary.
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Toussaint 9
Old friend. Illinois is way undershifted on the line and Molk can release immediately; Omameh(+1) cuts the NT to the ground. Molk ends up missing the MLB but only because he's charging straight upfield; he runs right by the play. Schofield(+1) adjusts to chuck the other blitzing LB to the ground; Lewan(+1) kicks the playside DE and Toussaint(+1) zips into a gaping hole. Illini have two safeties back so they combo to hold this down. RPS +1; Illinois reacted poorly to this.
M40 2 1 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 3
Illinois slants to this play, which makes life difficult. Koger gets good push on a downblock; McColgan(+1) blows up the EMLOS; the two good blocks on this play give Toussaint enough of a lane to slam it up for a first down.
RUN+: McColgan, Koger RUN-:
M43 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Toussaint 0
Classic Molk reach(+2) sees the NT buried in the middle of the field. With the slot LB sticking to the WR and a backside blitz from the other corner plus two deep safeties there is now one player with any hope of preventing this from breaking big. Omameh(-2) runs by the guy and he makes the tackle. RPS +1.
M43 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Dime even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 25
The WTF Zook play. Illinois wants to defend this by slanting to the right and shooting a linebacker underneath into the belly gap to tackle for loss; Molk(+2) starts releasing left, reads this play that I don't know if he's ever seen before, and rudely ejects the LB from the box. Lewan(+1) and Schofield(+1) crease the backside DT and DE and Toussaint runs fast into a gaping cavern. RPS+2, but sort of a play where I'd like to RPS-2 Zook without giving a plus to anyone else.
RUN+: Molk(3), Schofield, Lewan, Toussaint. RUN-:
O32 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Power off tackle Shaw 5
I think Michigan tips this by lining McColgan to the weak side, but whateva. Illinois blitzes the MLB to no effect. Think that's a Denard blitz. Huyge(+1) does a good job on the playside DT. There's now two Illinois players to the outside and one scraping from the inside. McColgan gets an iffy bump on the outside guys; Schofield(-1) realizes he needs to turn inside to get a scraping LB too late and lets him by. Shaw(+1) makes one hard cut upfield and runs into three arm tackles. He goes down. Did well to get yardage there and if he had a little more room could have creased this for a big gain.
RUN+: Huyge, Shaw RUN-: Schofield
O27 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Robinson 4
The backside DE starts shuffling down the line to defend the belly and Robinson(+1) pulls. This is the right read and it takes a series of unfortunate events to hold this down. Event one: shuffling DE reads the pull and manages to bang Koger upfield. Event two: NT decides before the mesh point is complete that Denard is pulling and chucks his blocker to head backside. (This is why the handoff looked so open.) Event three: Hemingway's block on the slot guy is crappy. He gets upfield and takes Koger's block; Denard has to cut behind all this. Thanks to Lewan(+1) pushing that shuffling DE past the play he does have a cutback lane that he takes to the sticks. Unfortunately he puts the ball on the turf(-3). Addressed in a picture pages.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-: Robinson(2), Hemingway
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple option dive Toussaint 6
WLB blitzes right at Molk(+1); Molk picks him up and walls him off. Triple option makes the MLB run upfield. Illinois is filling hard with a safety; Roundtree(+1) cracks down on him. Michigan has adapted to this Illinois strategy well; their WRs are picking up the right guys in the secondary. Change from last week. Anyway, Toussaint is now breaking free. Roundtree's block is tough and his man gets an arm tackle attempt that slows Toussaint; Huyge's man comes off to tackle with the corner. Omameh did a good job on the DT.
RUN+: Molk, Roundtree, Omameh RUN-:
O35 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB iso Robinson 10
Schofield(+2) gets playside of a guy who is playside of him on the snap and buries him. Toussaint(+1) reads the block of Omameh and cuts inside; Robinson follows. Omameh's block is kind of crappy but as the DT is coming off he eats Toussaint. Robinson darts by. Molk(+1) takes out the MLB. Hemingway(-1) basically whiffs his block; Denard(+1) runs through that arm tackle attempt and gets a chunk more than the first.
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield(2), Robinson, Molk RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Hemingway
O25 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Illinois now scraping down the line with that DE; I think this is actually a bad read by Denard(-1). With Odoms in the slot the corner opens up; Koger is running by the DE's block and should have any scraper DOA. (Hemingway's blocking is really an issue in this game.) Anyway, the DE should snuff this out at the LOS but inexplicably derps just as the guy with the ball runs by him. Toussaint(+1) runs through an arm tackle from that guy. That done he rides behind a great diving block from Schofield(+2) that sees the playside DT deposited five yards downfield. Half of Toussaint's plus is using this block to its fullest. Molk(+0.5) helped with a momentary double and then walled off a linebacker.
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield(2), Molk(0.5) RUN-: Robinson
O18 2 3 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 8
MLB blitz; Lewan(+1) shoots him down the LOS and eliminates him. Playside DT is already slanting away; Molk and Schofield help him but not plus. Hopkins(+1) walls off the DE containing Robinson. Slot LB is in no-man's land; Toussaint(+0.5) hits it up for a quality gain. RPS +1.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5), Hopkins, Lewan RUN-:
O10 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
With Koger pulling around it seems like Denard has a blocker for the scrape LB and is one on one with a safety. Anyway. Handoff is made. Molk(-2) is chucked to the ground by the NT; seems like it should be defensive holding but results based charting. Omameh(+1) is still blocking this guy but he's got a two for one. Schofield(-1) falls down and allows the backside DT to flow behind this business. Toussaint(-1) still has a lane thanks to a good Huyge(+1) kick but hesitates. For what reason I don't know. Angling outside and just slamming for whatever you can get seems like 4; he gets two.
RUN+: Huyge, Omameh RUN-: Molk(2), Schofield, Toussaint
O8 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 6
Michigan's blocking changes, possibly based on opponent alignment. Lewan(+1) kicks the DE; Koger(+1) dives inside that block and picks off an aggressive LB. Schofield(+1) comes off a double to get another LB and Toussaint dances through the blocks to get down to the four. From there it's push the pile.
RUN+: Lewan, Koger, Toussaint, Schofield RUN-:
O2 3 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Speed option Robinson 2
Omameh(+2) slashes the backside DT to the ground and that is all she wrote. Molk(+1) gets the last linebacker with a chance and Robinson(+1) reads the situation for an easy six.
RUN+: Omameh(2), Molk, Robinson RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 0
Okay, now Illinois has this down. Shuffling DE comes down the line and tackles Toussaint as he cuts behind Omameh. M is running the Odoms end-around fake; without that—with a bubble—it seems like the keeper is open. As it is I don't even know if this is an option. RPS -1.
RUN-: Robinson
M41 2 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA TE Flat Koger 2
Robinson has to dump it immediately and can only be sure Koger is safe; he hits him; a cover two corner comes up to tackle on the catch. Koger fell down anyway. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS -1)
M43 3 8 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Rollout out Hemingway 15
Man, this rollout gets three Illini defenders running at Robinson unfettered but he does have enough time to zing a great pass into a well-covered Hemingway for the first down. Hemingway has to leap for it but it's not particularly tough catch and putting it at the height Robinson does is a good way to keep it from prying hands. (DO, 2, protection 0/2, Toussaint -1, team -1)
O42 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass TE wheel Koger 40
Finally we get a derp easy play based on a team overreacting to something. M runs PA and then fakes the throwback screen. When the corner comes up hard on Gallon, Koger releases downfield and gets crazy wide open a la 2010. Denard has a touchdown... and leaves it short. To be fair, an Illinois blitz did get a guy in on Robinson, forcing him to throw off the back foot. Still... lay it a little further out here, man. (MA, 3, protection ½, team -1, RPS +3)
O2 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read dive Toussaint -3
Bandit type player actually looks like a DL; he charges hard at the LOS when Molk pops that head up. Another LB blitzes behind this. Both these guys get in free. Toussaint has no chance. RPS -2; Michigan dead on snap.
O5 2 G I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Delay Toussaint -3
Guh, man. Michigan runs a delay on the five after passing like five times in this game. I'd rather just throw here. Illinois blitzes right into it and again gets an unlbocked LB into the backfield. Molk(-2) doubled a DT and was the primary culprit. Still not a fan of the call. RPS -1.
RUN-: Molk(2)
O8 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Scramble Robinson 7
No one open, Robinson finally just runs and almost gets a huge reward for it; unfortunately he does step OOB early. Review picks up the ref error. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
O1 4 G Shotgun trips 2 3 0 Goal line Run Speed option Robinson -4
I do think the snap takes this from a low chance to zero chance but man... they didn't try to manball once on this series. If this is a good snap Robinson might pitch and then Toussaint either gets crushed by the guy flaring out or dives inside of him and drives the unblocked LB into the endzone. Still... when RR did this he threw two TEs on the line to give his runners more gaps to probe. RPS –1.
RUN-: Molk.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB iso Robinson 0
Illinois shifts as Molk puts his head down, sliding one LB to the line and putting another guy right over the NT. Robinson has few good options once Molk(-1) gets beaten playside. He can wait and get tackled from behind by the shifted LB or not wait and get tackled by the NT. He chooses door #2. RPS -1.
RUN-: Molk
M13 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Shaw -8
W/ Illlinois in a true even set Molk cannot reach anyone. Omameh(-3) is then tossed to the ground by the playside DT, which blows up the play. Normally you can cut to one side or the other other of that guy; here Omameh fails to exist and Shaw is doomed either way. Shaw(-3) compounds matters by not cutting straight upfield and accepting his loss of a couple. Instead he bounces outside and loses eight.
RUN-: Omameh(3), Shaw(3)
M21 3 18 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Sack -- -6
Zone blitz confuses the M D line; live this looked like Huyge got destroyed but really this was just a complicated protection executed poorly. Huyge sets up to maybe block an OLB who drops off; Omameh eventually peels off Mercilus because a blitzer is coming unblocked up the middle and he does not have faith—or does not know—that Smith is about to slice the guy down. Mercilus annihilates Robinson as he delays because he isn't actually looking at the dude; ball pops up and is either recovered or intercepted. (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, Omameh -1, Huyge -1, Team -1) No replays show the routes, but M got killed on a zone blitz and had no obvious short options. RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Starts out with the triple stack; Odoms motions to the other side of the field. Illinois ends up with just six in the box; M runs at it. DE contains; handoff. Huyge(+1) picks up the WLB's blitz and kicks him out. Omameh(+2) gets an excellent driving block on the playside DT and a sizeable hole forms. Molk(-0.5) reads another LB blitz late and can't cut his guy off; he does impede him enough that Toussaint can run through an arm tackle. He cuts past a safety that Odoms isn't blocking in the back but is walling off; the delay allows the guy containing Robinson to come back and tackle from behind.
RUN+: Omameh(2), Huyge, Toussaint RUN-: Molk(0.5)
O36 2 3 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint -2
Schofield(-0.5) gives too much ground here, making the angle of attack awkward. Lewan(-1) whiffs on a linebacker as he releases downfield, which spooks Toussaint into bouncing outside despite the fact that he's still got Hopkins and will probably get something by just slamming it up. As it is his bounce is a bad idea since it's into a guy with excellent position.
RUN-: Lewan, Toussaint, Schofield(0.5), Hopkins(0.5)
O38 3 5 Shotgun trips bunch tight 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Drag Odoms 19
Part II of drag-follow, this time with the drag opening up. Illinois corner starts pointing at the Odoms motion and gets no response; he ends up having to make a hopeless march through traffic and has no shot of catching Odoms as he makes the turn upfield. Pattern got M an easy first down on a dead simple catch. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS+1)
O19 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint -2
Playside end dives under Koger(-1) and gets upfield into Schofield, picking off that puller. Aggressive MLB now shoots into the gap unmolested and Toussaint has nowhere to go. Hopkins had to flare out to block the blitzing slot guy, bubble complaint etc. RPS -1.
RUN-: Koger
O21 2 12 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Dime even Pass Screen Smith Inc
Smith gets bashed as he tries to get into the pattern and Mercilus gets a free run as Lewan(-1) is suckered by a zone blitz, so Robinson doesn't have time to let this set up or find a receiver. He throws it away. (TA, 0, protection ½, Lewan -1, RPS -1)
O21 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout fly Odoms Inc
Guhhhhhh. Odoms runs right by a zoning corner and is wide open for a touchdown. Denard throws it on a line and zips it just past the outstretched hands of Odoms. He deflects it but no way. If Odoms isn't 5'8” it's a TD easy. Still, Robinson had this and if he puts a little more arc on it this is an easy six. (IN, 0, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 14-0, 1 min 2nd Q. Michigan gets the ball back for a final play; Hail Mary not charted.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Yakety snap -- -9
On Robinson; snap is perfect.
M33 2 19 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 11
Koger(+1) drives the playside end inside. The WLB is gone upfield to the other side of the line. Toussaint(+2) gets a crushing block on the MLB that blows him downfield; Hemingway(-2) does nothing with the slot LB. Robinson feints inside as that guy threatens to do bad things upfield; Omameh(+1) pulls into him, at which point Robinson bounces back outside and jets for the corner, stiffarming a safety.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Toussaint(2), Omameh, Koger RUN-: Hemingway(2)
M44 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout what -- Inc
Rollout just gets Robinson killed when he has to pull up since the edge is not clean, which exposes him to a free run from the backside end. Robinson pulls up and ends up chucking a ball directly at an Illinois DB, which is dropped. I have no idea what he saw; should have thrown it away. Possible this was deflected? These rollouts are more trouble than they're worth. (INX, N/A, protection 0/2, team, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 10 min 3rd Q. Robinson is done for the day.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Zone read dive Toussaint 9
Hopkins comes around for the speed option; DE forms up so Gardner hands off. Toussaint(+1) squeezes through the backside hole between the OL and that DE. That's thanks to Schofield(+1) giving him some extra room. Schofield's guy eventually spins off to get an arm tackle attempt in; that slows Toussaint and allows a LB to come from behind. Lewan(+1) did a good job to erase the MLB on the play. RPS +1. Play design gets the gain here by optioning off the DE.
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield, Lewan RUN-:
M38 2 1 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Power off tackle Toussaint 0
Playside DT slants away from the play into Huyge, who is essentially blocked and cannot get out on the MLB. The rest of the play goes as intended but unblocked LB in the hole means a cutback into a mess for no gain because Omameh(-2) got shoved to the ground and a DT is sitting there unblocked. RPS -1.
RUN-: Omameh(2)
M38 3 1 I-Form Big 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 0
Eight guys in the box and a safety coming down. M doubles the playside DT; Koger(+1) pops off and gets a driving block on the MLB. Playside DE slides down; Hopkins does kick him but Schofield has to slow up significantly to get through the hole. He ends up blocking the overhang corner as Toussaint(-2) runs into two unblocked players; had to follow Schofield and Koger for the first.
RUN+: Koger RUN-: Toussaint(2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 7 min 3rd Q. Runs from the I so far: 6 for -4 yards. Illinois muffs subsquent punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Delay Toussaint 3
Corner blitz overruns the play but the guy recovers well. Toussaint finds considerable running room at first until the DE on the edge gives it up to fill the hole; Toussaint bounces out smartly only for that blitzing corner to tackle from behind. Molk(+0.5) and Schofield(+0.5) got good looking blocks that weren't tested; Lewan couldn't really be blamed since the DE released in a way he had no ability to combat. The corner blitz gets the play. RPS -1.
RUN+: Toussaint, Molk(0.5), Schofield(0.5) RUN-:
M29 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout hitch Odoms Inc
Edge acquired this time but this is going to be a five yards and immediate tackle sort of pass despite the roll. Ball winged to Tacopants. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M29 3 7 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Rollout cross Hemingway 20
I think the snap is too early here; a guy is coming across the formation but ends up not even getting to the center by the snap. He ends up useless when he's supposed to be a drag route underneath, I bet. Gardner gets pressure thanks to a Smith(-1) whiff on the cut but at least he whiffs to the outside and sends Mercilus inside; Gardner manages to run through the tackle attempt. Once he does that he lobs a wobbler to Hemingway that's brought in for a good gain. (CA+, 3, protection ½, Smith -1)
M9 1 G Ace 2TE tight 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Pitch sweep Smith 0
Pitch formation and pitch play picture paged last week, except Hemingway(-2) runs by the playside LB, leaving him to a pulling Molk, who has no chance to get this guy shooting upfield for leverage. Hemingway then whiffs on the safety. So he blocked the wrong guy and didn't even block the guy he was trying to. Smith has to cut back behind Molk because the LB has shot out to the corner; heavily flowing MLB Molk should be blocking and safety Hemingway whiffed on combine to tackle.
RUN-: Hemingway(2)
M9 2 G Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Rollout drag Hemingway Inc
Blitz w/ DE flying upfield and LB coming behind it cuts off the roll and forces a quick, bad throw from Gardner. Hemingway can't haul it in; it's three yards if he does. (IN, 1, protection ½, team -1, RPS -1)
M9 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Gardner 5
Give up and kick.
Drive Notes: FG(27), 17-0, 4 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
Playside DE contains; Koger(+1) moves out on the slot LB, who is coming down. That erases him way outside. Omameh does an okay job on the backside DT; Huyge(+1) gets a good block on the MLB, and Toussaint has a huge cutback lane... that he totally misses. Instead he runs to the wrong side of Omameh's block and turns a good gain into a crappy one.
RUN+: Omameh, Koger, Huyge RUN-: Toussaint(2)
M22 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Gardner 2 (Pen -11)
Backside DE shuffles down and Gardner pulls. Depending on Hopkins's assignment his either fine or insane, because Hopkins slams that DE. Gardner now dealing with a scraping LB and a safety shooting down and has to bounce all the way outside, where he gets a couple yards. Hopkins gets a chop block PF for his block of a technically engaged DE, but I don't really blame him since the whole point of this offense is that guy is not actually blocked. So... someone's wrong. Hopkins or Gardner? I'm guessing Gardner.
RUN-: Gardner(2)
M11 2 19 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 9
Illinois clearly backing out into safe coverage so M runs at a six man box. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) blow out the playside DT; Schofield(-1) has a tough time with his guy and he almost blows up the play but the great work on the frontside gives him a crease; Molk pops off on a LB. Toussaint does good work to make one dash cut right upfield after clearing the arm tackle attempt from the backside DE. He's into the secondary, where everybody is. Everybody tackles him.
RUN+: Toussaint, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Schofield
M20 3 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Okie Run PA Scramble Gardner 4
A blitz off the edge gets two guys in on Gardner almost before the fake mesh point and erase any thought of a throw. Gardner manages to scramble for decent yardage. PA on which you are not blocking a guy on third and ten? Come on. (PR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 13 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Toussaint -5
Yeesh: not only does the slot LB blitz but so does the corner. Both of these guys are on the playside. Slot LB charges upfield; Hopkins(+1) manages to shove him past the play and Toussaint hops past him. With the playside DE sealed and Huyge(+1) out on the playside LB this is opening up but for that blitz; Hemingway(-1) again is watching his guy make a tackle after barely or not touching him; quicker reaction here maybe gets Toussaint a bounce. As it is he almost does before getting chopped down by an ankle tackle. RPS -2.
RUN+: Hopkins, Huyge, Omameh RUN-: Hemingway
O27 2 15 Ace 4-wide tight 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA Whatever ??? Inc
Fake toss; WLB is blitzing upfield and is instantly in on Gardner. He chucks an ugly dangerous duck off his back foot that lands yards in front of Hemingway. He might have been open. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, team, RPS -1)
O27 3 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Dime even Pass Dig Odoms 27
Three man rush gives Gardner all day. He gets a crease and steps up into the forever pocket, then hits a wide open Odoms breaking into the endzone. Yeesh, Zook. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2, though again this is more of an RPS -2 for Illinois than anything else.)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-7, 10 min 4th Q. Game is over when M gets the ball back but for posterity...
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 13
This is all RB. Lewan(-1) downblock is beaten by a slant; that guy cuts off the pulling Omameh. Toussaint has no crease and if he's going anywhere it's into the arms of an unblocked LB. Backside blitz should have this dead on the cutback but Illinois has two guys go after Gardner's waggle, allowing Toussaint(+2) to cut back hard and fast into the secondary. No RPSes now but this is not something that should have worked.
RUN+: Toussaint(2) RUN-: Lewan
O27 1 10 I-Form big 2 2 1 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 27
Everyone runs right at this and misses; Molk being a culprit. This is just here because Toussaint(+3) did silly things.
RUN+: Toussaint(3) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-14, 2 min 4th Q. M gets the ball back and kneels. EOG.

I AM SO CONFLICTED

Illinois gives up 280 yards a game and hasn't had anyone score more than 21 against them save Northwestern; Michigan had more yards in the first half than OSU and PSU did in their entire games against the Illini; they spent most of the second half trying to strangle the game with their backup quarterback; one extra yard and one field goal pushed a little further inside and they put up 41.

Be happy.

BUT THE NO POINTS

Bothersome. Less bothersome than not moving the ball at all, like Iowa and MSU.

I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO HATE BORGES

I hate the pro-style-with-Denard-and-Zoney-McOffensiveline, not the man. Are you Joe Paterno again?

IT'S NOT LIKE I HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO NOW

Would you like to scream—

CHART

—chart?

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%
Northwestern '11 4 12(3) 1 7 2 - - - 1 59%
MSU '11 1 8(1) 4(1) 6 5 - 1 7 1 40%
Purdue '11 1 7(1) - 1 2 1 - 2 - 66%
Iowa '11 2 21 2 7 1 - 3(1) 2 - 69%
Illinois '11 1 4(1) 1 2 - 1(1) - 1 1 66%

Gardner had two CAs, three INs, and a PR.

Denard's DSR is an incredibly small sample size—4/6—so read as little into that as possible. His two bad throws were the "argh, why aren't you six feet tall, Odoms" overthrow and his last insane pass that was so off and wobbly it seems like it must have slipped or been deflected. He did have an impressive throw to Hemingway:

He gets an INC for his passing in this game, but if you look at his season trend he does seem to be getting better. The last three games he's been hovering in the md-60s, which is acceptable. The MSU debacle is a heavily mitigated outlier in a decent Big Ten season.

My problem with Denard's game was not in the air, but on the ground:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 8 5 3 Had some mistakes in space.
Barnum - - - DNP
Molk 14 7.5 6.5 Off to roaring start and then hit a wall on the goal line stand.
Omameh 14 7.5 6.5 Had a really good day except when getting tossed to the ground on two plays that lost a ton of yards.
Huyge 7 1 6 Very solid day against Mercilus.
Schofield 11.5 5.5 6 Doing well, solid starter.
Mealer - - - DNP
Watson 1 - 1
Koger 6 2 4 Back to the usual after fun with Purdue DEs.
TOTAL 61.5 28.5 68% A solid B day from the line against a good D.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 6.5 8 -1.5 Fumble, bad reads, hesitancy.
Gardner - 2 -2 Blew one read.
Toussaint 18.5 6.5 12 +5 on the meaningless last drive but still a quality day both running and blocking.
Shaw 1 3 -2 Turned in the ultimate Shaw run, at least.
Smith 2 - 2 Supplanted. M may have tipped screen by throwing it to him.
Hopkins 2 0.5 1.5 Marginalized in spread.
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan - - - DNP
TOTAL 30 20 10 Good day from Toussaint; everyone else bler.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway - 7 -7 Huge, huge problem. I hate having him in the slot.
Odoms - - -  
Gallon 2 - -  
Roundtree 1 - -  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo - - - --
TOTAL 3 7 -4 Paging Floridian mountain goats to slot STAT
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 14 13 52% Team 8, Omameh 1, Toussaint 1, Huyge 1, Lewan 1, Smith 1. NO MORE ROLLOUTS
RPS 18 20 -2 +8 before goal line stand; that was  big chunk and then Borges was just bleeding the game out w/ Gardner mostly. That'll happen.

So… yeah. Denard being negative on the ground is a recipe for bad things happening. A chunk of that is the fumble, but even if you take that out he barely edges above even. He danced too much and gave up yardage, he missed reads on the zone, and he didn't have any runs on which he could truly deploy his speed. That is part of Toussaint's day, obviously, but Denard's trend on the ground is now in the land of cocked eyebrow.

When the playside LB is doing this…

triple-option-2

…and you're handing off you have messed up. That kind of thing is getting distressingly common.

Good god, I've never even seen a relevant wide receiver. What happened?

I don't know, man, but the difference between Hemingway and the little headbutting goats from Florida is stark. Having Hemingway in the slot against an opponent that loves to bring a linebacker off the corner is asking for trouble, and then there were plays that were just bad. Michigan ran that same pitch sweep I picture paged from the Iowa game to Hemingway's side; instead of blocking the playside LB Hemingway ran right to the safety. And then he whiffed. Molk had no shot at cutting off that LB when he ran free and Smith had to cut back into bodies. And then there was this:

fumble-no-bubblefumble-no-bubble-2

I get that you might not be able to seal the guy to the outside but at least shove the dude somewhere. Like… touching him would be a start.

Meanwhile, Michigan's throwing go routes into the endzone at Odoms. I get moving Hemingway around a little bit but let Odoms headbutt people and catch touchdowns from the slot. Needs moar tiny bastards.

Barely relevant WR chart?

And here's the barely relevant WR chart.

[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - - 2/2 10 0/2 8/9 18/21
Roundtree - - - - 10 1/5 5/7 9/10
Odoms 2 - - 2/2 4 - - 2/2
Grady - - - - 4 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon -

-

- 1/1 7 - 2/2 21/21
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - - - - 0/2 2/3 2/2
Jackson - - - - - - 1/1 1/1
                 
Koger - - - 1/1 6 1/3 3/4 10/11
Moore - - - - 2 - 1/1 -
                 
Toussaint - - - - - - - 2/3
Shaw - - - - - - - 1/1
Smith 1 - - - 4 0/2 1/1 7/8
Hopkins - - - - 2 - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

The only thing to say to this is "whatever."

I thought running Denard on the goal line was instant touchdown, smart guy?

It's a good idea when you're in a power set… maybe not so much when you've only got five blockers against seven guys. When RR wanted to power it into the endzone he would put two TEs on the line without fail, which spread the defense further out—harder to get around the edge—and gave Denard more gaps in which to cut. Heck, Borges did it:

That is tough to stop with everyone spread out and one guy going down enough to give Denard a crease. Going four wide is asking for trouble. Think of it like a power play for the defense, which always has one extra guy to tackle: would you rather be killing a 5 on 4 or 4 on 3? (Note that this equation is reversed when there's a lot of field left and two deep safeties are back: then you've got the power play.)

The snap didn't help either, obviously.

Is it just me or do you also want to cry into the pillow when they come out under center?

It is not just you. We've been tracking the efficacy of Michigan's running game from the shotgun versus under center all year. It's been a blowout in favor of shotgun most weeks, but never so much as it was on Saturday. Michigan ran ten times from under center and collected 39 yards.

It's even worse than that sounds. 40 of those yards—ie, more than all of them—came on the two Toussaint runs after the Illinois onside kick that I only charted to demonstrate how good of a back the kid is. On the first he cut to the backside of the play on a power, which rarely goes well; on the second he had to dodge three tacklers on the backfield on an iso and bounce all the way to the sideline before finding open grass. At no point did Michigan open up the hole it wanted to from the I.

Shotgun runs averaged 5.8 yards a pop. If you take out the 65-yarder they get hacked down to 3.9… so… yeah. Take out the best run of the day and Shotgun Michigan had an average outing against the Illinois defense. Leave it in and it's the best performance of the year by over a half-yard. Under Center Michigan was two garbage time carries away for being negative on the day.

Those are the numbers.

stretch-argh

AAARGH TEN MAN FOOTBALL

Anecdotally, it felt like all of Michigan's under-center runs were doomed from the start and a lot of  Michigan's unsuccessful shotgun runs were close to breaking long. This Toussaint zero-yarder is one easy Omameh block from being a big gain:

Guhhhhhhhhh. Omameh gets even a weak shove on the linebacker he's way playside of and Toussaint is shooting at the safeties with a lead blocker. That's thanks to the Classic Molk Reach Block, something that just about kills any attempt to defend a stretch play and a thing I hope we see more of as the season concludes.

On another Michigan caught a double A gap blitz and ran right by it.

That's playing with fire, though given the different alignments of the QB in stretch versus inside zone alert opponents might pick up on it.

To be fair, it didn't work consistently in this game. There was a nine-yarder, the missed opportunity above, the WTF Shaw play, and a late stretch that lost a chunk of yards because M was in murder-the-clock mode and Illinois blitzed not just the slot but the corner from the playside. The numbers don't suggest using it more. But I'm telling you: with its sparse use so far this season there is a big stretch play in the near future if Michigan just runs it 6-8 more times.

So they ran the stretch. Did that feel like an RR-esque gameplan?

Moreso than any we've seen so far. The TE-as-H-back was straight out of the RR playbook and allowed Koger to attack both the frontside and backside of the line depending on what was called for. The stretch came back, and Michigan used the belly to good effect. They attacked various places along the line and didn't expose themselves to the monotonous repetition of the blitz.

Will we see something similar this weekend? Who knows. Borges changes like the wind.

Is the offensive line actually any good?

Molk is very good, Schofield has been consistently above average, Lewan is solid in the run game and people don't even bother testing him on passes. Huyge… variable. Not good in pass protection. And Omameh clearly has size and strength issues even if he had a good game this time out. Watch Akeem Spence toss him to the ground on the Shaw BOUNCEBOUNCEBOUNCEDERP play:

That is a big no-no and it happened twice. He also biffed that block on the coulda-been stretch.

Despite all that I had him +7.5 on the day, so he's not just a liability. It's just that when he does something wrong it's very wrong.

Heroes?

Toussaint and the interior offensive line.

Goats?

Hemingway's blocking was terrible. Michigan needs more from Denard on the ground if they're going to win the next couple weeks.

What does it mean for Nebraska and beyond?

Do you think this will be the final straw for playing from under center? I don't, either, but there's no way either of the last two games sees play distributions like the Iowa game. Probably. We'll get the usual dosage of POWER that has no POWER and is actually kind of like A GAP ADULT CONTEMPORARY. Hopefully it will be on second and third and one and actually pick up yards, unlike this game.

But anyway: this is a shotgun running team still, and seems to be doing some more shotgun running things. The triple option stuff was clearly a decoy in this game, which is why they dumped it after it worked a couple times. If I know Borges that means an actual triple option is coming. That plus a little more stretch and maybe a return to that sprint counter once the stretch is established could break some stuff open. Look for misdirection against Nebraska—Lavonte David is fast but if you get fast running the wrong way you are in business.

We didn't learn anything about the passing game on Saturday; you might be able to put a grain or two in the "Denard isn't as bad as as it seemed early in the season" pile, but that's it.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Illinois Comment Count

Brian November 16th, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Formation notes: They did the usual 4-3 under stuff and went to a nickel package against spread sets. On passing downs the seven-guys-on-the-line okie package was a frequent deployment; on short yardage we saw the return of the Beyer/Ryan 4-4 under.

Then they did some weird stuff. If this looks a bit like a 3-3-5, yeah, sort of :

3-3-5-stack-ish

That's clearly a pass defense D with the ends lined up outside of the tackles and both the spur/bandit-type dudes on the strong side of the formation, ready to drop into man coverage.

This is another exotic pass defense featuring nose tackle Mike Jones (serious) and DT Craig Roh (also serious):

dime-even

Illinois ran at this; Jones and Roh actually forced the play behind them into tacklers; pile fell forward for five.

Personnel notes: Secondary was Floyd/Countess/Kovacs the whole way and mostly Woolfolk but Gordon did pop up from time to time; I'm pretty sure Woolfolk left permanently on the Scheelhaase touchdown since he seemed to aggravate one of his many available injuries. Avery was the nickelback; when Floyd cramped up briefly he moved outside onto Jenkins and Gordon came in at nickel.

Demens and Morgan went the whole way at LB; Ryan played most of the game but gave way to Beyer a little.

The line was mostly the usual RVB/Heininger/Martin/Roh setup with cameos from Black, Clark, and Campbell. Brink got some plays at the tail end.

Show? Show. W00t.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Emblematic.
O15 1 15 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA scramble Woolfolk 1
Iso fake draws heavy attention but Scheelhaase only has two options in the route and they must both be covered(+2). I find that hard to believe but I'm guessing Woolfolk(+2) jumped the corner route behind Countess and convinced Scheelhaase to scramble. Ryan(-0.5, tackling -1) misses a tackle that would have been a sack, giving up three or four yards.
O16 2 14 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd Inc
M shows a blitz from Morgan on the outside. Illinois checks, Michigan still runs it. It's picked up. All short routes; Scheelhaase goes to Jenkins on a five yard out that Floyd(+2, cover +2) breaks up. Prelude to ownage.
O16 3 14 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Throwaway Roh Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +2) dives inside on a stunt that gets the Illinois OL. He gets held a little and ends up falling just short of the QB's feet (I might be done typing Scheelhaase); Martin(+0.5) runs after to contain, forcing a throwaway. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run N/A Triple option keeper Van Bergen 3
Kovacs rolls down for an eighth guy. M gets lucky here. RVB(+1) stays on QB throughout the play; Ryan(-2) dives inside the slot receiver and gives up the corner. He's got to have the pitchman here. This should be a pitch for a big gain. Instead QB tries to beat RVB one on one and can't do it. Still a decent gain because M had destroyed the dive, which fine.
O17 2 7 I-Form 4-3 under Pass N/A Long handoff Countess 6
Countess(-1, tackling -1) comes up a little hard and to the inside and ends up getting stiffarmed as Jenkins breaks to the outside. He does manage to delay Jenkins long enough for Ryan(+0.5), flowing hard from the inside, to tackle before the sticks.
O23 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Martin -1
Beyer/Ryan package. Heininger(+1) drives his OL a couple yards into the backfield. Martin(+2) takes a pop from the center and still does the same to the backside G, putting him on his knees at the LOS and forcing a cutback. This screws up the blocking angles and forces Ford back into Ryan(+1, tackling +1), who came down to the LOS on the snap and took a good angle into the backfield; RVB(+1) beat a block and comes into help prevent any YAC. RPS +1 for the slant forcing the play back into an unblocked player.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun 2back trips 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option dive Heininger 0
Covered slot receiver. Michigan aligns differently than normal with DTs over the guards and Illinois runs a triple option. QB hands off since DE is on him and Countess is hanging on the pitch. Dive goes nowhere thanks to Martin(+1) and Heininger(+1) blasting single blocks back; Roh(+0.5) comes in from the side to finish Pollard after he confirms the give was made.
O23 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Roh Inc
Roh and Black your DEs. Kovacs rolls down. Straight dropback. Illinois looking for the drag; Roh(+1, pressure +1) beats the tackle to the outside and is held; no call. This along with Black(+0.5) falling at the QB's feet causes some shuffling and a back-foot throw that ends up going wide of Jenkins. Completion likely if accurate but Gordon(+0.5, cover +1) seemed to have this locked down for a not so big gain.
O23 3 10 Ace 3-wide Okie Run N/A Down G Van Bergen 5
Scheelhaase checks from a shotgun formation to an inside run out of ace. They're trying to run at the middle of the line as Morgan drops out into a zone; Martin(+1) fights inside a pulling guard—mismatch—and RVB(+1) comes off a block when the second guy moves downfield. Those two combine to tackle for a meh gain.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA curl Woolfolk 7
Beyer in. Illinois runs PA. Play develops with no LBs underneath the Jenkins comeback; QB fires it to him. Immediate tackle from Woolfolk(+0.5, tackling +1) and Countess(+0.5). Coverage push, pressure -1.
O27 2 3 I-Form 4-3 under Penalty -- False start -- -5
Erf.
O22 2 8 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd 14
Kovacs rolls to a slot receiver as M shows one high. Floyd(-1, cover -1) is beat on a ten-yard hitch and can't tackle on the catch. He has to set up and gives up a few more in the name of being safe.
O36 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Stop and go Floyd Inc
RB motions out into the slot. Michigan sends Beyer off the edge, dropping Roh; stoned. (Pressure -2) QB has all day to pump and then chuck deep. He ends up throwing it away because Floyd(+2, cover +2) was over the top of a double move to the point where throwing it was stupid.
O36 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Ryan 0
Ryan(+2) momentarily dives down but recovers impressively to force Scheelhaase outside, outside, outside. Floyd(+1) beats a Jenkins block to slow him, whereupon Ryan tackles from behind.
O36 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4   Martin 7
Okie package gets the Illinois OL to bust (pressure +2, RPS +2). Martin(+0.5) gets a free run. Scheelhaase actually gets a pass off and completes it but it's off and takes the WR off his feet. Demens(+1) was there to tackle if necessary.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O5 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Heininger 7
Not entirely sure what the problem is here. Both DTs only take single blocks; Martin fights through his to almost kill this in the hole but can't quite. Morgan takes on the FB basically at the LOS and does funnel to the inside but Demens is getting blocked out of the play since the DTs have not absorbed an extra guy between them. I think this is on Heininger(-1) as the playside DT he's not absorbing a double and doesn't even get an arm-tackle attempt. You would like Morgan(-0.5) to get this closer to the LOS and Demens(-0.5) to not get sealed away totally but they both have tough jobs. RB into the secondary, where Kovacs(+3, tackling +2) puts his helmet on the ball and gets Michigan a turnover.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Hitch Countess Inc
Scheelhaase clearly late on a lot of these by now but Countess(+2, cover +2) is still there for a quality PBU on a pass that could have been intercepted.
O32 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Drag Countess Inc
This may be batted but there's no replay so can't be sure. Demens(-1, cover -1) does get way out of position on another WR's route, dragging well into Morgan's zone. Countess(-1, cover -1) appears to make the same error he did against Iowa, and if Jenkins catches this it's a first down and maybe a bunch more. Jenkins has to delay because the umpire gets in the way; incomplete. Lucky.
O32 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4 Sack Ryan -14
Okie set gets Ryan(+1) and Demens(+1) roaring at the QB with one guy to block them (pressure +3, RPS +3); Van Bergen(+1) comes off a block to help sack when Scheelhaase understandably bugs out. QB overwhelmed by three guys on a four man rush == +3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Morgan 7
Good time on a four man rush (pressure -1). QB has time to survey and fire to a TE for about nine; Morgan(+0.5, tackling +1) puts him down immediately. Given situation coverage fine.
O28 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Yakety snap -- -14
Derp.
O14 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Down G Van Bergen 1
RVB(+1) shoots inside a downblock and gets enough penetration to force Ford well upfield; Roh is out there on the bounce but gets shoved past the play. Still, that took a long time. Martin flows down the line and forces Ford behind; Avery(+0.5, tackling +1) makes a nice low tackle that takes Ford to the ground immediately. Fumble is ruled but overturned, which costs Michigan seven important seconds. Irritating.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA out Kovacs 12
Kovacs(-1) hesitates on the play action and only belatedly shoots out on his zone; with the outside WR going deep Countess has other responsibilities. Out open, easy pitch and catch (cover -1, pressure -1)
O32 1 10 Pistol twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 11
Reading RVB; he stays responsible and the handoff is made. Martin(-1) fights to the wrong side of his block and Heininger(-1) gets penetration too far upfield, so Illinois gets a crease without doubling any DL. This means LBs are getting thumped; Morgan(-1) is the guy on the playside gap and he starts moving to the LOS before actually stalling and taking a step back before being engulfed. RB into the secondary. Demens(-0.5) also caught a block.
O43 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Down G Campbell 2
QB checks into an ace from the same pistol set they just ran. Campbell(+1) takes the guy downblocking him and ends up driving him into the backfield, forcing Pollard away from blocking; the playside G is pulling around outside but Pollard isn't going out there. Live I thought this was a missed cut; on tape it's clear this would be a ++ move from the back to cut up and then immediately back out. So Morgan(+2, tackling +2) gets credit for powering through his blocker and decleating Pollard.
O45 2 8 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Kovacs -4
Ryan(+2) reads the option action and tears ass for the QB, leveling him just as he pitches. FB makes a mistake, peeling back on Ryan in a hopeless chase, and this opens up Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) to do the thing he does by taking a good angle at speed; Pollard cuts inside and gets TFLed. Martin(+1) had blown through blocking and was there to help if necessary, which is crazy impressive.
O41 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -12
RVB(+2) splits two blockers confused by the okie package; Clark(+1) gets a good drive on a tight end to prevent any lane to move upfield, and Ryan jumps on the QB's back for very large sack. This was a six-man protection on which the QB had zero chance to even look at read one. Pressure +3, RPS +3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 12 min 3rd Q. Riley O'Toole gets the next Illinois drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Pass 6 PA TE Flat Morgan 7
Roh ends up free on the edge and gets some decent pressure; this means a TE has released behind him and O'Toole hits him for a decent gain; Morgan(+0.5) reads it pretty well and escorts the guy OOB to prevent a significant one.
O32 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 RB flat Martin Inc
Martin(+2, pressure +2) beats two blockers and roars up the middle of the pocket, forcing a terrible throw Floyd(+1, cover +1) is in a better spot to catch than the RB flaring out.
O32 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide tight Nickel even Pass 4 Quick out Floyd Inc
Quick throw does not allow time for pressure; Floyd(+1, cover +1) is there with a play on a well thrown ball (but not a great one); Toole's ball is too far outside and not caught.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Martin 12 (Pen-10)
Roh(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) pressure(+1) Scheelhaase, forcing a scramble up into the pocket that picks up some yards but probably would have been a sack but for Martin(+1 again) drawing a holding call. Demens(-1) gave up the outside here and turned this from a few into a hypothetical first down.
O15 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Martin 8
Here Martin(-1) gets shoved out his lane without actually getting to the QB; Black(-0.5) gets shoved way upfield, albeit by a double (pressure -1); Scheelhaase can find no one (cover +1) and runs for a good gain. This time Demens is blocked out of the play.
O23 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Dime even Run N/A Zone read dive Jones 5
Mike Jones lined up as the NT. Yeah, I know. Roh the DT. Yeah. Daring Illinois to run; they run. Jones(+1) actually drives the center back(!), forcing a cutback into Roh(+1), who slanted inside and gets a tackle attempt. He's getting blocked and the attempt is run through; it gives Michigan time to rally to the ball and hold the play down. RPS -1? I don't even know. I guess not.
O28 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Scramble Ryan 7
Scheelhaase looking for an out Avery(+1, cover +1) has covered well enough to dissuade; Countess the other guy over there on the deeper route. Zone blitz is coming through now to the outside with Demens(+1) beating a block; Ryan(-1, pressure -1) is out of his lane and allows Scheelhaase to run straight upfield. Martin and Morgan are there to catch him after about five but the pile manages to surge forward just over the line. Impressive power by Scheelhaase.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Fly Floyd Inc
Plenty of time (pressure -1); Illinos goes four verts and everyone is covered(+3); Floyd(+1) is step for step with Jenkins and would have a play on the ball if it was accurate. It's not.
O35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Avery 14
Plenty of time (pressure -2) without Martin in the game; Avery(+0.5) is actually in pretty good coverage here, forcing a throw high and to the sideline that is executed. Made it tough.
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Back shoulder fade Floyd Inc
Too much time (pressure -1), though the pocket isn't as clean on this outing. Floyd is in press and they test him deep; he is step for step. He can't quite adjust to the back-shoulder fade but this is still a +1, cover +1 because it required a DO and tough catch to complete. This is basically unstoppable if you can execute it. Illinois thinks they do but on replay it turns out they do not—Jenkins juggled it.
O49 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 Slant Floyd Inc (Pen+8)
Michigan sends six and is getting there but not in time to prevent a throw here. Floyd(-1, cover -1) picks up a legit PI call for arriving too early but I don't mind this. Much better than arriving late and you don't always get this call on you.
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 TE out Morgan 11
Late blitz from a very deep Kovacs; Morgan(-1) gets a chuck on a dragging WR but does let him past into open space since this is raw man coverage. Scheelhaase hits the guy and he can turn up for some YAC. Pressure -1, cover -1. Morgan does make a good tackle(+1).
M32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 0
Kovacs rolled up for a seventh guy in the box. Martin(+1) surges through the line and forces it outside. Roh(+0.5) forces it further outside by getting inside and diving at Ford's legs; Kovacs(+0.5) is out there containing. Ford turns it up directly into a scraping, tackling(+1) Demens.
M32 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack? Pass 7 Slant Avery Inc
This is kind of stack-y but not really with two pass-rush aligned DEs, three guys in man on the WRs, and both overhang safety types to the same side of the field. M sends every damn body. QB is about to eat Kovacs(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5, pressure +2) as he chucks. He's got a WR on a slant in front of Avery(+1, cover +1), who's tackling on the catch and making life difficult. He may rake the ball out. We can only say may because the WR runs into another Illini WR and goes down as if he'd taken a shot from Reggie Nelson.
M32 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass 5 Tunnel screen Morgan 19
Michigan gets RPSed here with five guys blitzing and no one thinking to peel back. Line is Campbell, Demens, and Roh... so... yeah. Morgan(-1, cover -1) doesn't read the WR screen quickly at all and gets easily blocked; Floyd(-1) is getting blocked but shouldn't let the WR outside like he does. Big gain. RPS -2.
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Clark 13
Clark(-3) forms up, then decides Ford has the ball after Scheelhaase pulls it. This opens up the corner; DBs are in man and not in any position to help. Woolfolk(-1) may be able to tackle before the endzone but pulls up gimpy and can't make it.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-7, EO3Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Comeback Floyd Inc
Scheelhaase has this open for a first down and just misses it. Floyd(-1, cover -1) beaten. Pressure was getting there.
O38 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Penalty -- Offsides Martin 5
Martin -1.
O43 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 3
Martin(+2) drives his guy so far into the backfield that he impacts the runner three yards behind the LOS; this delay allows Black(+0.5) to flow down and tackle after keeping contain on Scheelhaase. Wish the LBs did a little more here.
O46 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Black 8
Black(-3) does the same thing Clark did on the last play, diving down on the back after the mesh point. Juice Williams ninja ballfake reprise.
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Morgan 2
Belly play where the backside DT is getting doubled off the ball. RVB(+0.5) does an okay job holding up; Demens(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) react quickly enough to remove creases. Martin(+0.5) flows down the line to tackle after his second blocker releases into Morgan.
M44 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Roh 4
DT stunt gets Martin(+0.5) in thanks to RVB(+0.5) threatening to dart past the G. Roh(+1) beats the tackle straight up and Scheelhaase is about to get destroyed(pressure+2) and has to let it go. He's got a quick drag from his TE that Demens(+1, cover +1) is there for an instant tackle on.
M40 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Hitch Floyd INT
Kovacs late blitz; he is moving right into Scheelhaase's face as he throws but may get blocked. Pressure push. Floyd(+4, cover +3) is breaking on the ball as the WR cuts his route off and picks the ball off; he is one avoided Scheelhaase tackle from a pick six. Monster play.
Drive Notes: Interception, 17-7, 10 min 4th Q. M scores and Illinois gets it back with 10 minutes left down three scores, which informs Michigan's defensive style. I'll keep it in mind as I chart Comeback Ishtar.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle scramble Roh 9
Roh(+0.5) cuts off the corner but gets pushed past the play. QB can't find anyone (cover +1) as he rolls up and scrambles; Demens(-0.5) is not reacting very well and ends up running into a guy trying to block Martin as Scheelhaase cuts behind. RVB tackles from behind.
O29 2 1 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Improv comeback Heininger 12
Heininger(+1, pressure +1) beats an OT around the corner(!) and is held; no call. This does flush Scheelhaase up; Ryan tries to disconnect from his guy and is held as well, so Scheelhaase can fire to a Jenkins comeback for the first. Instant tackle. Cover -1. Refs -2.
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read keeper Morgan 3
Morgan is over the slot; w/ Roh tucked inside the TE there basically is no backside DE. Scheelhaase pulls as Morgan(+1) comes down on the run. Morgan jukes the TE coming out on him, sliding past the block and forcing the QB to cut up into Demens(+1, tackling +1), who puts him on the turf in space.
O44 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 6
Illinois lets 27 seconds run off the clock after the play. RT falls; Roh gets a free run. Martin(+1) and RVB(+1) have again stunted and get in Scheelhaase's face (pressure +2). He has to throw hot. That's to the RB leaking out of the backfield. He catches it; Floyd(+0.5) and Morgan tackle(+1) the guy short of the sticks in bounds.
50 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Campbell 0
Cambpell(+3) in at the nose. He drives the center back and does not give ground when the FB impacts the block. RB cuts back and he sheds, making impact in the backfield. Heininger(+2) beats a blocker as well and is there to help; Roh(+0.5) is getting his body in the way as well. Dang third and one. Dang Campbell.
50 4 1 Goal line 4-4 under Run N/A Down G Demens 1
Roh gets sent inside by the TE as M's interior line prepares for something in there; Illinois is going outside the tackle. Not a big problem and he does have awareness to spin back outside. Beyer(+0.5) takes on a kickout block in a pretty good place; Morgan(+1) gets the pulling G at the LOS and forces it back inside. Demens(+0.5) scrapes over and makes contact with Ford in the hole but can't get square to him and Ford just manages to fall forward. Even when they make it it's not easy.
M49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 1
Happy feet; no immediate pressure for the line but Scheelhaase goes to the RB dumppoff; Floyd(+1, tackling +1, cover +1) is there on the catch to tackle in bounds for a meh gain.
M48 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Throwaway Kovacs Inc
Scheelhaase fires OOB; seems he didn't have an immediately open guy and I think he does not trust his OL to go to the next read. Kovacs(+1, cover +1) over the top as this s again Floyd vs Jenkins. Another cover +1 for good stuff everywhere else.
M48 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Improv comeback Martin 12
Martin(-1) gets a free run but for the peeling back, who chops him to the ground. This lets Scheelhaase outside the pocket, where he can wait and zip it to Jenkins in a lot of space (cover -1, pressure -2).
M36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dig Gordon Inc
Backups on the DL give Scheelhaase a lot of time (pressure -2); he steps into a deep in to his tight end that Gordon(+2, cover +2) breaks on and nails on the catch. I think this is complete but it's ruled to not be so; in any case this is a safety making life as hard as possible for a WR.
M36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Improv comeback Van Bergen Inc
Okie business gets RVB(+1, pressure/RPS +1) through the line, whereupon he jerks back as if held; no call. Scheelhaase has to scramble and gets the corner; Roh is coming hard and he has to throw. It's back across his body to Jenkins with Floyd coming hard but not quite there to make a play; ball is too far out in front and eventually dropped. Floyd cramps up and has to come off briefly.
M36 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Roh -16
Four man rush annihilates, with Roh(+2, pressure +4) roaring around the corner as Clark(+2) does the same and a stunt gets RVB(+1) up the middle; with nowhere to go Scheelhaase tries to back out and is engulfed.
O48 4 26 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Post Clark? 32
Scheelhaase has time and steps through the line, which is bad because it makes this into fourth and 16 instead of fourth and 26 (pressure -3). RVB(-2) and Clark(-2) get way outside. Martin does too but he is stunting and supposed to. Would like Mattison to have a guy close to the LOS on a delayed blitz to prevent this; no dice. Scheelhaase steps up and rifles it to Jenkins in front of Kovacs(cover -2); this is really all about letting Scheelhaase through the line and not pressuring him at all.
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE Drag Demens 5
Michigan in man so this is a tough cover with a sort of pick route taking Demens a little off an ideal path. He still gets in position to force this OOB after an okay gain. Cover push, Demens +0.5.
M15 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Morgan? 11
Scheelhaase keeps and sees Clark has kept contain this time; he screwed up. So he just runs the RB's play. This works so well I think M should put it in the playbook. Michigan defends the RB fantastically but this pulls RVB out of the middle of the field as he tackles his assignment. Morgan(-1) takes on a block and doesn't shed it; he's really the only guy with a shot at holding this down and can't do it. Scheelhaase into the secondary, where Kovacs forces him into a good tackle from Countess(+0.5, tackling +1). RPS -1?
M4 1 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive N/A 3
Going backside and with no scrape it is really hard to hold this down without giving up contain on the QB. Clark keeps contain and then comes down, making a good play to tackle as the guy passes the LOS but this can't prevent him from picking up three. I won't RPS this but I kind of want to.
M1 2 G Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A QB sneak Martin 1
They don't get it. RVB(+1) and Martin(+1) are basically the whole play. Illinois does get a yard, but they needed slightly more than one.
M1 3 G Goal line Goal line Run N/A Iso N/A 1
They get it.
Drive Notes: Pyrrhic touchdown, 24-14, 3 min 4th Q. Oh, all right, I'll do the last one because it's fun.
Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -8
M stunt gets Martin(+1) and RVB(+2) through (pressure +3) and RVB gets there first. Two guys block air and one tries to block Martin.
O12 2 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE out Roh Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets driving pressure that forces Scheelhaase out of the pocket; Scheelhaase has a TE breaking open but has to float it because underneath coverage(+1) is there and overshoots.
O12 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Scramble Martin 1
Avery comes from the corner; Martin(+1, pressure +1) shoves a tackle into him and then bursts upfield. Scheelhaase can scramble out because of some dudes falling and stuff, but cannot find anyone open(cover +1); Avery comes back to tackle. Would be a sack but the guy manages to fall over the line.
Drive Notes: Punt. 31-14, EOG

So who do we pick up next?

What?

We have Woodson. Now we need to go back to medieval Europe or ancient Greece to pick up babes and/or Socrates.

Wouldn't it be better to go get other people who can play football?

Do we need any?

I…

I don't know. I just don't know what to do with myself when there's a three play series on which:

  1. Morgan decleats the RB in such a way as to get Craig James hootin'.
  2. Ryan decleats the QB on a speed option in such a way as to get the stadium going "ohhhhhhhh I hope he's not dead."
  3. Later on that same play Kovacs makes a textbook tackle in space.
  4. Ryan Van Bergen roars up the middle of the pocket and jumps on Scheelhaase's back like he expects to round up cattle on the sideline.

It almost can't be real. By the time the punter hit the field I was afraid I would wake up to someone rubbing a beaver in my face.

kenny-demens-beaver

No… no… NONONONO… It was all a dream… no… no… I want to go back

So we're totally getting ahead of ourselves, right?

We have to be. I mean, last week's performance was exactly acceptable and we were happy with this. We are not the '86 Bears. We must not get hopes up. Illinois couldn't score on Purdue until there were 10 minutes left.

Hopes are totally up.

I can neither confirm nor deny that statement. I can only point you towards the most insane, ridiculous, beaver-pelt-laden congregation of numbers I may have purveyed in the history of doing this. I present

DOOMCHART

Doomchart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 14.5 2 12.5 To be fair, two points in garbage time. HAHAHAHA
Martin 19 3 16 HAHAHAHAHAHA
Roh 9 - 9 Oh… oh wow.
Heininger 5 2 3 Didn't get in on the sack explosion largely because he's lifted in the nickel.
Clark 3 3 0 Zone read WTF was kind of magnificent. More later.
Black 1 3.5 -2.5 Other guy to WTF a zone read.
Campbell 4 - 4 Time to get excited about him again until next week.
TOTAL 55.5 13.5 42 That is nuts.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 5.5 4.5 1 Step forward from last week; still freshman.
Demens 7.5 3.5 4 Second consecutive solid game. Pretty good in coverage.
Ryan 6.5 3.5 3 Showed the guys above how to do it on the zone read.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Beyer 0.5 - 0.5 Few plays.
Hawthorne - - - DNP.
Jones 1 - 1 Charts as a DT. HAHAAHAH
TOTAL 21 12.5 8.5 I'll take it from two freshmen and a junior.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 14.5 3 11.5 You think the DL is nuts, Floyd thinks. I'll show you nuts.
Avery 3 - 3 Good day. Quality option as a third guy.
Woolfolk 2.5 1 1.5 Floyd made him not entirely necessary. May still be hurt.
Kovacs 7 1 6 Forced fumble, good tackling, is Kovacs.
T. Gordon 2.5 - 2.5 Thumping hit forced technical incompletion.
Countess 3 2 1 Also had a jumped Jenkins PBU.
Van Slyke - - - DNP
TOTAL 32.5 7 25.5 NUTS
Metrics
Pressure 31 18 13 Stunts and okie annihilated OL.
Coverage 30 12 18 HAHAHAHA.
Tackling 13 2 87% I can't even remember a broken tackle.
RPS 11 3 8 Annihilation.

So… yeah. There is something seriously wrong with the Illinois offense. There has to be, because you can't do the above without the offense helping you out quite a bit. I think Scheelhaase is perpetually late on his throws, and that they're tipping their passes, and that their offensive line is a total sieve. All that makes their offense really, really bad.

Even so… good gravy. Michigan had two DL at Brandon Graham levels of performance and a third not far off. I can't remember any cornerback ever hitting double digits before, and I can't remember a near 75% coverage day. I'm usually happy when coverage is a push. On Saturday, this is what they did to four verts:

four-verts-2

There's a dude behind the one slot guy that you think might be open. He is not open. No one is open.

That is easily the best performance since 2006.

JT FLOYD?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!???!?!!??

Word. Guy may not be the fastest player in the world but has he been beaten deep once this year? Not really. Michael Floyd got a 30-yard fade on him but even on that play he was there making life difficult and I +1ed him. He's had problems in run support… okay. He just spent a day breaking up a ton of short stuff, never getting threatened deep…

…and putting the cherry on top:

Even when Jenkins did get something on him it was often tough:

That guy is right on the sideline, which contributes to the overturn when he juggles it. If that's what Floyd's giving up, okay. I'll take that and a PI on which you broke for the ball too early.

These posts have started off cautious, moved towards "I know you won't believe this but…," and are now at a crossroads. People: JT Floyd is a legitimately good Big Ten corner. If he maintains this level of performance the last two weeks he should get consideration for All Big Ten.

TONY GIBSON MINUS ALL OF THE POINTS

Minus all of the points.

Are we at Alan MFin' Branch levels on third and one yet or what?

Not quite, but sort of yes. Alan MFin' Branch levels:

You can see 6'6", 330 of angry New Mexican hauling the tail end of that graph down like a black hole in spacetime. That's Alan Branch. 33 percent! On third and one! Six of eighteen! SIX OF EIGHTEEN!

!!!

Seth did the legwork for this year on Tuesday and came up with 44%, which isn't quite Michigan 2006. It is, however, insanely good. What's more, when he chopped out the MAC opponents from this year the numbers were six of… nineteen.

image

If you look at a third and one as an opportunity to boot the opponent off the field Michigan is literally doubling an average success rate and doing better than that against the meat of the schedule. The entire front seven shares in this accomplishment, as does Mattison, but IME the main guy in this success is Mike Martin.

The guy is the center of most of these plays. He gets doubled and he still gets penetration; the tailback cuts back and meets unblocked dudes.

I mean… we're talking about comparing this defense to 2006—the very best part of the 2006 defense—and saying "not quite as good except against real competition." My jaw has made it halfway to the Orb of Zot. Big Ten Wonk has authorized use of the word "stunned." THIS IS SURPRISING.

Remember last year when sometimes we'd line up with a three man line on third and one? And not even blitz anyone? HAHAHAHA

Aren't you a little harsh on those zone reads that got outside?

No. I mean, seriously:

clark-er-2

This is cool. We've got this.

clark-er-3

GUH?

clark-er-4

Duh.

That's a nothing play—maybe a loss—turned into a touchdown because Clark's not looking at the ball, which is literally right in front of his face. This is how it is done:

Run at the guy with the ball.

That okie package was lethal, wasn't it?

Check BWS for a breakdown of the different blitzes run from it. Chris identified six, seemingly all of which ended with Scheelhaase running for his life or losing it. Por ejemplo:

Now that Michigan is keeping a deep safety on these things and not offering free touchdowns—Mattison learned that lesson in one try—they are increasingly difficult to deal with as new players and stunts get added to them. It's almost like Scot Shafer was on to something.

This is the week we get excited about Campbell again, isn't it?

Yeah. Check that Morgan decleater and see who forces the cutback into death: Campbell. On a late third and one that Michigan stuffed it was Campbell, not Martin, who blew the play up:

Get push, take on a fullback, shed and tackle… that's a good play right there. Illinois OL caveats apply; we'll probably be back to fretting next week.

What went wrong on the fourth down play?

The main problem was the fact that it turned into fourth and 18, not fourth and 26, when the line split like the Red Sea and allowed Scheelhaase to run up in the pocket:

With another ten yards to close the distance Kovacs probably gets there. I'd like to see a delayed blitzer in there to prevent that from happening.

Have any random notes for Borges he will roll his eyes at?

This botched decision by Scheelhaase worked out well:

Man, I think we should do that. We should run a fake inside zone that Robinson ostentatiously keeps on with the intent of pausing and then running up in the same hole the tailback is hitting. The ol' fake inside the fake.

Heroes?

Everybody. Especially Martin, Van Bergen, and Floyd.

Goats?

WTF, get out of here with your goats.

What does it mean for Nebraska and the future?

I think we're in for a bit of a letdown; Nebraska's wacky option system does a lot of stuff that Michigan has not seen before—last week they turned the inverted veer into a speed option and I was like "oh that is so cool"—that attacks Michigan's still-youthful edges. I can see Nebraska effectively attacking the outside and making the Martin/Heininger/RVB axis a smaller factor than it's been the past couple games. Also that just can't happen again. My heart has already burst out of its little box; if Michigan holds Nebraska to 30 yards rushing it will emerge from my chest.

That said, it's suddenly hard to envision Nebraska having much success in the air even if Taylor Martinez is on a relative tear. They'll probably pick some stuff up on play action and the like, but Nebraska's had a hard time moving the ball against… quality defenses… like Michigan has. /faints

Anyway: 270 yards against MSU and victory only because they did to the MSU offense what Michigan did to that of Illinois, 331 against Penn State, 335 against Wisconsin. They did put up some points and yards in the frenetic final quarter against OSU; other than that it has been tough sledding.

As for the future… man. Woolfolk and Gordon seem like a push, so if Michigan can find some defensive linemen they are set for next year. Come on, Campbell.

Comments

Picture Pages: Final Bubble Treatise

Picture Pages: Final Bubble Treatise Comment Count

Brian November 16th, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Complaining about the lack of bubble screens in Michigan's offense has become a hobby-horse here. Some people find this weird. I admit that a focus on one particular play, no matter what it is, is often missing the forest for a tree, and my focus on a play that picks up eight yards if run well is a little maniacal. But I see a lot of things not work and think 1) the bubble is open and 2) that might have worked if the bubble wasn't open.

While the bubble seems like an option you can take or leave, it's actually a key way to make every player on the offense an effective blocker every play. When Magee goes to his cutups in those videos about the spread 'n' shred philosophy, the guy asking most of the questions* wants to see bubbles first.

*[who I think is Harvard's coach since he talks about playing Columbia and a pizza place on "Comm Ave" that Google reveals is in Boston.]

The bubble is a constraint that opens up other things and forces the defense into positions it would rather not take. Michigan saw this first hand, as a series of first half bubbles forced Jake Ryan into the slot against Northwestern. Even that wasn't enough to hold down the single bubble the Wildcats ran in the second half before fumbles and interceptions and Michigan scoring on every drive terminated Northwestern's ability to use them.

It's not just a play. It's part of a coherent whole. Spreading the field stresses the defense only if you make the D cover everyone horizontally. Smart Football explained a long Oregon touchdown in the recent Stanford game and I was struck by the difference between the way Stanford defends this play

grantland_e_Oregon-101jr_576[1]

…and the way Illinois defended a similarly unbalanced formation from Michigan:

bubble-complaint-1

That is a similar setup with one extra guy in the backfield. The highlighted defender to the top of the screen is the equivalent of #3 at the top of the Stanford defense (not the guy on the line)… unless the highlighted guy at the bottom—the corner—is. Someone on this defense is not respecting the threat of Junior Hemingway.

Michigan will run the play I've been calling "inverted veer", which is probably not the best terminology since various people say people call it "dash" and since it features a guy pulling to the frontside of the play it's not really a "veer"—if you care about these things. It's too late for me since I've got a tag, but you can still save yourself.

Anyway, on the snap, before the mesh point, it is clear that both highlighted defenders are going to get involved in the run defense. 

bubble-complaint-2

Where is the equivalent guy in the Stanford play?

grantland_e_Oregon-201jr_576[1]

His feet are the ones bugging out for the bubble at the top of the screen. This effectively blocks a defender without having to engage that receiver's potentially crap blocking skills.

Junior Hemingway's existence, in contrast, is pointlessly lonely:

bubble-complaint-3bubble-complaint-4bubble-complaint-5

There isn't anyone within five yards of him by the time the mesh point passes. Even before the mesh it's clear the bubble is going to be open, if it was being run.

Anyway, at the mesh point the containing DE is containing so Denard pulls.

bubble-complaint-3

This options off a DE; the slot guy is being taken by Hopkins; the playside LB will get kicked by the pulling Omameh. There is no one for the corner, and this has turned into a run up the middle.

bubble-complaint-4

This is pretty much dead at this point. Michigan's got some problems on the line, too: you can see that the Lewan/Schofield combo block hasn't even sealed the playside DT, let alone the WLB… but that's just another reason the play isn't going to work since Denard is tackled in the backfield by that backside CB:

bubble-complaint-5bubble-complaint-6

Pile of bodies, no gain, third down.

bubble-complaint-7

Video

Items of Interest

This isn't to say I think Borges did a bad job in this game. I did get a little frustrated by the forays into the I that were spectacularly unsuccessful—before the Toussaint runs in garbage time Michigan had run seven times out of the I for –1 yards—and the lack of responses to the increasingly aggressive Illinois defense. HOWEVA, in context the move was to go conservative and get out of Dodge; before that was the move he tore up a good defense and was thwarted largely by things out of his control.

There are multiple issues with this play and I'm not suggesting the bubble is a panacea. I am saying it is going to work for tons of yards here, but it's not the only reason this play gets thumped.

The threat of the bubble effectively options off another defender. This means more space for people who are good in space, one more opportunity to blow something for the defense, and mitigates the following.

Receivers' blocking eh… not so good. On the play where Denard fumbled he actually had a good setup for the pull: the backside DE has shuffled down the line and Koger went around him to the edge.

fumble-no-bubble

Unfortunately, Junior Hemingway's consistently crap blocking reared its head on this play and the slot LB—who is actually covering the WR on this play—created problems.

fumble-no-bubble-2

Denard has to cut back. If Michigan's running a bubble this guy is either outside of the hash or Denard's throwing it to Hemingway or the Illinois defense is getting super aggressive and opening itself up to a Worst Waldo play. Since he's just a wide receiver who can't block Denard loses an opportunity to burst into a ton of space.

Lack of bubbles = lack of big plays (that aren't chuck and hope)? If you're looking for a culprit when it comes to the lack of long plays that are very open, the lack of the humble bubble screen is a candidate. When you spread the field and make the defense defend all eleven players on every play, a single breakdown means big yards. If you're covering every WR man to man and trying to leave two deep safeties, this is the result:

6346037042_7a30917b96[1]6345287519_2492ff5405[1]

Michigan has put a lot less stress on safeties this year because they run a bunch of plays from a formation in which opponent safeties think "if they run it will be for half a yard" and when they're in the shotgun they aren't really in the spread, if you catch my drift. By not attacking the outside consistently Michigan lets opponents defend them with two deep.

In the inverted veer above the guy on Hemingway starts 13 yards off the LOS, which means the free safety can come down on the run without worrying about an Oh Noes.

Also bubbles work, yo. I mean, sure, opponents freaked out about them in the RR era since they were a foundational component of the offense but when they were run they worked, and when opponents run them against Michigan (or State vs Iowa) they pick up chunks. When you can get a chunk on first down you have a low-pressure environment to probe with your run game.

This is clearly a philosophical thing that is permanent. I'll drop it now, and this is not a criticism of Al Borges's overall philosophy—we have no idea what that's going to be like. It's clear, however, that the vast bulk of teams who use the quarterback as a runner believe the bubble is an integral part of the effectiveness of the offense. Michigan doesn't, and unless Borges can explain that in a way better than "don't ask me about it" its absence will rankle.

Comments

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-15-11: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-15-11: Greg Mattison Comment Count

Heiko November 15th, 2011 at 10:52 PM

Greg Mattison

From today.

Opening remarks: “Well. We have another big one ahead of us. This next one, I guess you’d say that every game is really really big, but I think this one will pose a real challenge to our defense because they’re like three offenses in one. They’re a power attack -- their running back is a really good downhill runner. They go from that to being able to be an option attack with the quarterback. I think they have 4000-some yards, and 3000 and some of those are the quarterback and the running back. You see where their offense is. It makes the defense have to be sound in all phases. You can’t load up and play the power because you may be getting optioned. You can’t go in there with an idea of being a finesse or assignment totally or you’re going to get the power run right at you. This is going to be a big test. And he can throw it. He’s put some yardage on people. The last thing they do that challenges your defense is they have a fast pace, so they do that to try to get your defense so they’re not in great alignments. Just to be a little sloppy because they hurry up and if you’re not a real disciplined defense, you don’t get set correctly, and you know as well as I do that we’re not good enough to not be perfect in our assignments and our alignments.”

After rewatching film, are you still as happy with your defense? “Yeah. I watched the film and we were very very cirticial while we were watching film, but Michigan defense is built on … up front, you play aggressive. You knock them back, you are physical, you rush the passer. [In the] secondary, you challenge receivers. As a defense, you swarm and tackle. For the most part our guys did that during the game. It’s never perfect. Obviously coach always wants us to have a number of clips good and bad to show the whole group on Sunday. Yeah, I probably could find some bad ones to spend more time than he gave us. There was improvement. I just really was proud of how hard we played and to be able to go back out there and stop them again and stop them again. That’s what Michigan defense does, and that’s what we’re going to be called upon to do if we’re going to be a Michigan defense.”

How big of a concern is tempo with Nebraska? “That’s a concern. Any time a team tempos you, you have to find out how mature your defense is. You have to be a very disciplined defense, and you have to be a tough-minded defense to know that you’re going to get the call at the spur of the moment, and you have to line up at the spur of the moment, and you have to play. That’s something our guys have already addressed with them.”

Does chasing Denard in practice prepare you for Taylor Martinez? “Yeah, it’s a different deal, though. Chasing Denard around is really -- that’s after the fact. It’s a different play. For us, it’s going to be getting set, play your assignment, and then if you have to chase him around, chase him around. That’s why it’s different. Brady does drills with our guys every Tuesday after practice -- chasing the rabbit drill with our defensive linemen. That’s emphasizing what you have to do, but that doesn’t happen in the game like that all the time. It’s a lot better playing against a Denard than it would be playing against a drop-back guy all day for sure.”

(more after the jump)

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Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-15-11: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-15-11: Al Borges Comment Count

Heiko November 15th, 2011 at 9:34 PM

Al Borges

New photo. 

In terms of Denard’s progress, what do you see on film that most people can’t see? “Well the issues with Denard, I think in the last game, were pretty much ball security deals. Other than that, he didn’t really throw the ball too bad. We didn’t throw the ball a lot with him, and he got hurt later in the game, so you didn’t see as much, but he’s managing the game pretty well. When he doesn’t get the yards, somebody else does. When nobody gets the yards, then we have issues, and that’s happened in a couple games -- those games we shouldn’t have lost. Denard’s growing in our offense. Nobody wants to hear that. I told them in the beginning, that I told him he’s not going to gain 1700 yards. We’re going to try and get somebody else involved. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. There’s certain games he’s going to get more than he’s going to get in other games. As long as we’re getting productivity from our running game, if it isn’t him, that’s fine.”

How has his role changed since the emergence of Fitz? “It hasn’t changed much at all, it’s just a matter of who’s getting the opportunities. Sometimes they’re taking Denard away. By taking him away -- if you watch the second play of the game it’s probably the best example. We ran a little misdirect divide zone, and he carried out the fade fake and three guys went with him, which gave Fitz an opportunity to run through a big cavity where there was nothing left but a corner or a safety, or I don’t remember what. People don’t understand the residual effects of Denard. Sometimes it’s not always him running for 200 yards, but him getting someone else to run for big yards. He helps in that respect.”

Why has ball security been an issue? “Well a couple times we dangled it in the pocket. He was doing a good job with it for the most part. We dangled it in the pocket one time. We have to keep the ball inside the perimeter of your shoulders so that you naturally brace when you get hit. That’s one of them. And he got the ball away from his body one time when he was running. He’s been pretty good running the ball, taking good care of the ball. We got a couple close calls where I think the ground caused the fumble in a couple games, but that’s generally it. You usually fumble when you’re fundamentally bad. You don’t keep the ball with five points of pressure and it gets away from your body and somebody strips it.”

(more after the jump)

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