Unverified Voracity Chucks Some Stuff Out

Unverified Voracity Chucks Some Stuff Out Comment Count

Brian September 16th, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Five on Friday with a bunch of tabs I couldn't close without posting on 'em, so quickly:

RBUAS. It took until freakin' Friday but RBUAS is all writing about Notre Dame and Denard.

Explosion recapping. A couple of videos from the stands on Saturday follow. First the Smith touchdown:

Then the game winner:

The greatest profile in the history of running backs coaches. The Daily hits up Fred Jackson:

“I know I can sell this place as well as anybody,” Jackson said. “I’ve known about this place since the '70s.”

The rest is right out of Bo's textbook.

“This is Michigan. Whatever you put in this article you’ve got to know that that’s what I sell kids. This is Michigan. This is not any other school.

“Like Bo said, ‘Those who stay will be champions.’ You feel like you’re a champion here.”

No one is declared the ____ ever, unfortunately.

A man after my own heart. TOC's HeckDorland previews Notre Dame, which is only indirectly relevant to your interests, but I enjoyed this paragraph:

Anyone making a prediction on how "up" or "down" Notre Dame will be for this game is likely dumb. This sort of armchair psychology is insufferable, typically unsupported by data, and seemingly everywhere, even forming the crux of some predictions.

HOWEVA, drawing comparisons between Michael Floyd and BJ Cunningham after Floyd played two BCS defenses (at least technically, in Michigan's case) and Cunningham went up against some Penguins and Owls… eh… not sure if I agree with that policework there.

On what's supposed to happen. I totally forgot to link BWS's picture page items this week, but here's a mailbag on the last ND touchdown that goes into even more detail about what happened than you've already gotten.

If you say so. Gary Moeller on the Desmond Howard edition of The Catch:

Moeller: "You know what we’re gonna do right now?  He’s gonna throw it to Desmond and Desmond’s going to score a touchdown…”

Audio at MVictors.

Etc.: Penn State fans not so happy with Beaver Stadium atmosphere. Yes, I'm an old man. Let's at least be careful here. More Denard good, Denard bad breakdown from Dreaded Judgment. Picture-paging of the early Hemingway TD. Pick Six standings and results. I'm as happy as I can be w/ my picks since Notre Dame is the only laggard. Austin Hatch continues to get better, eats chicken wings.

Comments

Picture Pages: How To Press Michael Floyd And Live

Picture Pages: How To Press Michael Floyd And Live Comment Count

Brian September 16th, 2011 at 12:07 PM

todd-howard-illinoisavery-face-punch

A few rows in front of me at the Western game was one of those guys who exasperatedly yells out a piece of football wisdom he's picked up over the years whenever he is affronted by its lack. His wisdom was "turn around for the ball," which he yelled at Herron a couple times and the cornerbacks a couple times.

I was with him, but then a funny thing happened: no one could complete a fly route on these mediocre corners. Here's everything I've got marked fly/go/fade (which I am totally inconsistent about) from the first two weeks:

Opp Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Rush Play Player Yards
WMU M25 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press 6 Fly Floyd Inc
Demens's delayed blitz gets him in free(pressure +1, RPS +1) but I wonder if he didn't time it quite right. Another step and Carder is seriously harried. As it is he gets off an accurate deep ball on Floyd's guy, who's got a step. Floyd runs his ass off, starts tugging jersey early, and... I'll be damned. He strips the ball loose(+2, cover +1). That was textbook. Gibson -1.
WMU M19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Eff It 7 Fly Avery Inc
Sends: house. Obviously something gets through(pressure +1); Carder chucks it deep to a fly route Avery(+2, cover +1) has step for step. He's right in the WR's chest as he goes up for the ball. WR leaps, then reaches out and low in an attempt to stab the ball. Avery rakes it out. Gibson -2. Demens(+1) leveled Carder, BTW.
Opp Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Rush Play Player Yards
ND O36 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even 5 Fade Woolfolk Inc
Hawthorne as a standup DE-ish thing and Ryan as an MLB. Blitz telegraphed? I don't remember this play. Survey says... yes. Ryan blitzes, Hawthorne drops into coverage, ND picks it up. Rees wants Floyd on a fade covered by Woolfolk. Woolfolk(+2) is step for step and uses his club to knock the ball away as it arrives. Robinson(+0.5) was there to whack him, too. (Cover +1)
ND O44 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even 4 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
No question about this. Avery shoves Floyd OOB on a very catchable fade (-2, cover -1).
ND O43 2 26 Shotgun 3-wide Okie 5 Fade Floyd 26
Floyd on Floyd action. Floyd(+1, cover +1) has excellent, blanketing coverage on Floyd but the back shoulder throw is perfect and his hand is a half-second late. Floyd stabs a foot down and Floyd can't do much other than ride him out of bounds. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. This is one of those times. That is hard. That is why Floyd (not our Floyd) is going to be rich in about nine months.
ND M21 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie 5 Fade Van Bergen Inc
They back out the MLBs this time and send the DL plus the OLBs. RVB(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) is instantly past the G assigned to him because of a poor pickup; Rees chucks a ball off his back foot that's not catchable. Eifert gives it a go, though.
ND M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even 5 Fade Floyd Inc
Floyd(+2, cover +1) in press here and stays step-for-step with Floyd on the fade, breaking it up as it arrives. Fade is not well thrown, which helps.
ND M22 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even 5 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
Kovacs rolls up; check. They take advantage of the man to man to take a shot at the endzone. Avery(+1, cover +1) is right in the WR's face as the ball comes in; it's low and to the outside and Avery can't do anything about the futile one-handed stab the WR makes, but it's a futile one-handed stab. Avery is hit with a terrible PI flag (refs -1)
ND O39 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even 5 Fade Floyd Inc (Pen 15)
Hawthorne(+1, pressure +1) gets a free run at Rees so he chucks it to Floyd, Floyd(-2, cover -2) is beaten instantly and starts yanking the jersey in a desperate bid to not be an instant goat.
ND M29 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Okie 6 Fade -- Inc
Miscommunication between QB and receiver means pass is nowhere near anyone. Blitz was just getting home.

Your score excluding the miscommunication: two legit pass interference penalties, one horsecrap call, one 26-yard completion to Michael Floyd, five incompletions. What's more, in each case save one pressure-forced incompletion and the two legit PI calls the corners are 1) there and 2) making a play on the ball.

That's seven out of nine legitimately good plays from the DBs on accurate deep balls. On all but one—the legit Avery PI—the corners were on an island as Mattison sent at least five. No bracket here. The Avery PI was a zone, the rest of it was man coverage, much of it press.

Michigan's press-ish coverage success in fly routes in 2011 including a game against Michael Floyd: 88%. The exception was virtually unstoppable and still drew a plus from the ol' softie who does these things. That's miraculous in last year's context. Hell, it's miraculous in a lot of contexts. How has this happened?

Michigan Press Coverage As Explained By Underpants Gnomes
IN STEREO

STEP 1: Line up a yard off the LOS with inside leverage.

fade-1avery-1

STEP 2: When receiver releases outside, turn hips and run with him real fast.

fadeb-1avery-2

STEP 3: NOBODY CARES WHEN RECEIVER LOOKS FOR BALL

fadeb-2avery-3

STEP 4: NOBODY CARES!

fadeb-3avery-4

STEP 5: When receiver reaches up for ball, punch him in the face.

OPTIONAL: grab his jersey a bit and get away with it
OPTIONAL: scream SHORYUKEN.

fadeb-4avery-5fadeb-5avery-face-punch

STEP 6: Profit: arm-waving motions indicating that the pass was incomplete.

OPTIONAL: shake head to indicate "no."
OPTIONAL: pick up horsecrap pass interference call.

fade-7fade-8fade-9

Videos

Floyd on Floyd action:

Avery on Jones action:

Interesting Items

Why it works. That whole find-the-ball thing is hard. Todd Howard was coached to do it but always did it late, whipping his head around just in time to see the ball zing by. When you do that you've given yourself an even tougher job than the WR, who's been tracking the thing since it left the QB's hand. Lots can go wrong there. He can slow up and you bowl him over. He can slow up on a deliberately underthrown ball. He can slow, then extend a la Manningham. Or you can just not find the ball quickly enough.

In contrast, the shoryuken technique seems pretty easy. Focus on the WR's chest. When his arms go up, get your arms/head/body in between those arms. Faceguard the guy for bonus points. Net result: incompletion or spectacular Prothro-style catch. Mostly the former.

It's hard to get lost because you're following the WR's chest everywhere, and the only bomb you can't defend is the one that's just past your outstretched arms. That's hard to throw and hard to catch.

Gibson –8. Two games in I am a believer in Tony Gibson Was The Worst. These are the same guys as last year making these plays. Notre Dame clearly identified these fades as a weakness to exploit, especially in press coverage, but got little out of them. If you discount the Avery PI, on the eight fade attempts against press coverage opponents got 41 yards, just over five yards per attempt. Even if you count the Avery PI that hops up to 6.9 YPA—still worse than the NCAA average of 7.2 YPA.

Compare that to last year, when even doing something right meant you did something wrong:

Small sample size disclaimers apply, but Tony Gibson? The worst.

Downsides and low upsides. So this style of coverage seems pretty effective, obviously. There are two major downsides to my eyes:

  1. Low upside. Since you are never looking for the ball you are highly unlikely to intercept it.
  2. A tendency to pick up PI calls. Refs give you more leeway when you are looking for the ball. Bumping a guy with your back to the ball is always going to be an issue, but you can get away with "look and lean," as Spielman calls it.

I'm a little concerned about our corners' speed when asked to run real fast. Against Western Floyd gave up a yard or two of separation to a MAC receiver on his successful fly defense; in the second clip above it kind of feels like on a longer route Jones will pull away from Avery. Those are hypotheticals, though, and whatever limitations of Floyd and Avery have do not currently include a tendency to get burned deep.

This allows cool stuff. Michigan can press with one high safety because of this, which opens up the blitz possibilities that produce big plays. While the coverage style precludes big plays from the cornerbacks it allows them from other parts of the defense, and those big plays are bigger. What would you rather have, an interception 30 yards downfield or the quarterback fumbling the ball?

Tony Gibson. The worst!

Comments

Dear Diary Thanks Fielding Yost for That One

Dear Diary Thanks Fielding Yost for That One Comment Count

Seth September 16th, 2011 at 11:05 AM

ThankYouFieldingYost

Note: You can always find the most recent diaries here. Long DD thanks to ludicrous amount of great user content. [Ed: Seriously. User generated content FTW.]

Last week I used this space to make light of the Under the Lights hype, figuring an 8:00 start would be the only real difference between this and any other ho hum game at Michigan Stadium against a ho hum opponent. Well ho, hum.

I should have remembered whose house we were lighting. Today I'm looking up at Fielding H. Yost in football's Valhalla and saying "Thank you, Fielding Yost! Thank you Fielding Yost for that one!" In 'the hole that Yost dug, Crisler paid for, Canham carpeted, and Schembechler filled,' Denard finally hooked up with Roy Roundtree to cap a night that will be heard until another 132 years of Michigan football is played.

Sometimes a UFR and a Picture Page will tell you all you need to know about a certain play. This week even those of us from the School of Gary Gray Can't Cover ought to take a cue from diarists like Michael Scarn and 2e8f7723f4a6ae3b53bf2733ecfd86ad-getty-124665861appreciate how unbelievably great it is to be a Michigan Wolverine:

That’s how last night is for me.  I need to do write about it and hope that I can do it 100th of the justice it deserves, so that maybe one day I can look back and remember just the amount and consistency of the emotions I felt.

So felt pretty much everybody, since pretty much everybody wrote a diary. Michael's is titled "Trying to Take a Picture of Big Foot" and used the tag EEEEEEEEEEEEE. Another tag rediscovered this week: HOLY @#$%, by Foote Fetish in New Friends. Even our resident oddsmaker jamiemac got home and just needed to exhale about letting good times roll.

Lordfoul has been haunted for years by the number 72, or more specifically the absence of it. While the rest of us sweated out the last two noisy drives, LF knew that Smith's score at 72 seconds signified the W was secure. MAgoBLUE watched the game in a Boston sports bar fresh from saying goodbye to the person who introduced him to sports fandom. It's stories like these that remind Enjoy Life and the rest of us to feel sorry for folks who don't care about sports.

Posts With More EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

This is the evidence jhackney gave for how he knew ND was bound to lose:

His gonzo take is gonzo (read: awesome) but what's this about not being able to see the first couple of plays for the end of Georgia-S.Carolina—did anyone else have trouble finding the start on ESPN3 (ESPNews)?

BlueSeoul (+200 pts.) took us on a rollercoaster of a game wrap with time stamps. YOU MUST READ THIS because it is like a complete game journal except with % chance of winning (in head) give every few minutes. Promise you'll click the link and I'll let you relive the last part (language NSFW):

0:30 5%

Riddick TD. FUCK! Fuckity Fuck, fuck fuck fuck, FUUUUUCK!

0:23 1%

Incomplete. We spent 7 seconds for zero yards.

0:08 45%

Gallon WIDE OPEN!!! HOLY SHIT! WE CAN KICK A FG TO TIE! Oh shit.  Not a field goal....

blueseoul1

0:06 30%

OMG IT'S A JUMP BALL! NOOOOOoooooooo

blueseoul2

0:04 99%

OMG HE CAUGHT IT, YES YES YES, OMG!

0:03 50%

Fuck, they're reviewing it

0:02 99%

It's good.

THE_KNOWLEDGE goes here.

(More analysis, aesthetics, best of the board, and Diarist of the Week after the jump.)

Comments

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 15th, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Gratuitous Video of the Week: here's Will Campbell showing men of Thor who Thor really is:

More on him later.

Formation Notes: Michigan ran a lot of nickel against ND since ND ran a ton of three- and four-wide sets; this was usually an "even" front:

counter-1

IE, both sides of the line are set up essentially the same way. You can see Thomas Gordon over the slot to the bottom of the screen.

When ND went to more conventional sets it was the 4-3 under. Here's an example you might recognize:

power-off-tackle-2

They also did their okie thing and nickel eff it, but you know about the latter from momentarily horrifying touchdowns.

Substitution Notes: much less rotation on the defensive line this time around. Roh and Black split time at WDE. Martin was almost always the nose. Van Bergen split time between three-tech and SDE, as did Heininger. Heininger also spotted Martin at the nose when he took a breather. Washington got in for a few plays; Campbell replaced Heininger late to excellent effect. Both were three-techs.

As you can see above, it seemed like Michigan had two different packages on the line:

  • Pass rush: SDE Ryan / NT Martin / 3TECH RVB / WDE Black/Roh
  • Run D: SDE RVB / NT Martin / 3TECH Heininger/Campbell/Washington / WDE Black/Roh Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens went the whole way at LB. The WLB was Desmond Morgan for the first four or so drives and then Brandin Hawthorne the rest of the way. Ryan also lined up at defensive end plenty when ND went to packages with lots of wideouts.

In the secondary it was mostly Avery and Floyd with Woolfolk rotating in from time to time. Kovacs and Robinson played the whole way at safety; Thomas Gordon got all but a handful of snaps as Michigan spent most of its time in a nickel package.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 11
Morgan starts and immediately gives up a play. Wood's headed straight up the middle of the field but Demens is there, unblocked. Martin(+0.5) was momentarily doubled and then gets the inside guy to release downfield. He then sets up inside of the G. That plus Demens means Wood has to cut outside of the Martin block and inside of Roh. Morgan(-2) fails to read the play quickly enough and does not get outside to stand Wood up in the hole. Have to get here if you're unblocked. If he's there Wood has nowhere to go and this is a no gain. Instead he's late, missing an arm tackle(-1) and sending Wood into the secondary for Kovacs to tackle.
M46 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle Morgan 5
Heininger at the three tech with RVB at the five, except this is an even front with Roh on the strongside. Michigan slants its line away from the play; Roh(+0.5) shoots under the TE quickly enough to bang the pulling G. He's not far enough upfield to stop him cold but does slow him up and prevent him from effectively blocking Morgan. I am not entirely sure but I think Demens may have screwed up here—usually when you see a slant like this both linebackers will flow over the top behind it. Instead Demens goes straight upfield, getting knocked out by a tackle releasing downfield. HOWEVA, Gordon is blitzing off the edge so maybe Demens is doing what he should and it's Morgan who is making the error by not getting inside to bounce the play to his force help. So I just don't know. I think this is Morgan(-0.5) because of the blitz, and he did fall off the tackle(-1), but Demens(-0.5) also comes in for a wag of the finger.
M41 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle out Floyd? 21
Looks like the same slant. Roh(-1) is left unblocked on the end, sees the TE pulling across the line, and crashes down the line at said TE. He gets chucked to the inside as he releases into the route. Rees has no pressure on the corner and finds Floyd wide open for a big gainer. (Cover -2, Pressure -2, RPS -1) Either on Floyd for going deep when he had help over the top or Gordon for not getting over fast enough. I'd be guessing.
M20 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Martin 11
TE originally spread out before coming in as an H-back over the gap between Martin and Heininger. Both linebackers flow to to the wrong side a step as the RB takes a counter step before cutting backside. Heininger(-1) was easily kicked out of the hole and sealed. Martin(-1) is slanting, I think, and also gets blown out of the hole. Morgan(-0.5) and Demens(-0.5) both get blown up by ND OL on the second level, and Wood just shoots straight upfield. Yuck.
M9 1 G Ace twins twin TE 4-4 over Run N/A Yakety snap -- 0
Fumbled snap.
M9 2 G Shotgun 4-wide Nickel over Run N/A Quick pitch Black 2
Eifert split out. Slightly, Michigan shifted towards him in case there is funny stuff. Morgan telegraphs his blitz, Rees checks. He checks to a quick pitch outside that takes advantage of that blitz(RPS -1). Black(+2) is left unblocked and starts charging up at the quarterback; on the pitch he changes direction impressively, gets out on the RB, and manages to tackle(+1) just as Wood crosses the LOS. Terrific individual play.
M7 3 G Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 7 Rollout out Gordon 7
Michigan sends the house; Notre Dame rolls away from the pressure and towards the out route Riddick is running on Gordon; Gordon has to set up with inside leverage and has no real chance at doing anything with this. Cover -1, RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel under Pass 4 Dumpoff Morgan? 15
This director is very frustrating because his shots are all super-tight. You can see literally three yards downfield. Is this zone or man? I don't know. I believe it's zone given the reactions after the dumpoff. Problem: Morgan(-2, cover -2) takes off on a drag route as if it's man, opening up this stupid dumpoff for a big gain. No pressure(-1), either. On replay, definitely zone except for Morgan.
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel under Run N/A Pin and pull zone Martin -3
Martin(+3) gets under the blocker assigned to him and shoots into the backfield for a TFL. Roh(+1) had set up outside in good contain position, removing any chance of a bounceout. Heininger(-1) got clobbered, though it didn't matter. RPS+1 for the slant.
O29 2 13 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle N/A 16
Kovacs and Morgan telegraph a blitz; Rees checks out of it; Michigan does not check out of their blitz. The check is a power play to the strong side of the line, where there are two Michigan defenders and four blockers with the pull. RPS -2. Hopeless. Heininger(-1) makes things worse by getting destroyed. RVB(-1) flew upfield, opening a big hole. Demens is almost triple-teamed as a result. Wood can go to either side. Gordon has to keep leverage and heads outside; Wood cuts in. Robinson(-1) comes up hard, misses the tackle, and gets lucky that Wood is forced into Floyd.
O45 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Out Demens 6
Zone blitz sends Morgan and drops Black. This gets a free run for Morgan and does see Black cover Eifert effectively, but no RPS because ND has a hot route they hit. Demens is in man on Riddick; Riddick runs an out; he was lined up way outside of Demens; all Demens can do is tackle. It is possible Gordon was supposed to be in zone here but I think it's just a tough cover for Demens as Mattison tries to confuse ND.
M49 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Why does ND always have at least two linemen with full-on Viking manes? I can't think of a team more likely to have hair sticking out of their OL's helmets.
O46 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Drag Kovacs 11
Washington in. Morgan(+1) blitzes and gets in clean, lighting up Rees as he throws (pressure +2), but Demens has been run off (cover -1) underneath and a short crossing route is turned up for 8 YAC. This is not Demens's fault—he actually did a great job of passing Floyd off to the safety. Kovacs(-1) is the culprit I think; two ND receivers jumped inside and he was the nearest available defender.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Bubble screen Demens 8
Gordon(+1) does a great job of avoiding a cut block and is right there; Demens(-2) is flowing from the inside. He overpursues and lets Floyd back inside of him when the two of them had him pinned for a minimal gain. (Tackling -1)
M35 2 2 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 6 TE In -- 13
Morgan and Ryan blitz and are picked up(pressure -2). Once that happens it's an easy matter to find the hole in the zone. Kovacs and Demens were the guys nearest but this is on the blitz not getting close to home.
M22 1 10 Shotgun empty bunch Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Morgan 14
Morgan(-1) again telegraphs his blitz, Rees checks, Michigan does not check, and it's easy as pie to throw it where Morgan blitzed from (RPS -2.) It's a matter of picking the wide open WR. Mattison getting torn apart so far. Kovacs(-1) misses a tackle(-1), ceding another half-dozen yards.
M8 1 G Ace Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 5
Michigan still slanting these. Unlike Roh earlier, Ryan(-1) does not get underneath his blocker. He's kicked out. The slant isn't helping Heininger but he gets annihilated(-1). Big hole. Morgan(-0.5) gets pancaked, but he wasn't done any favors. Held down by safety help near the goal line.
M3 2 G Ace Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Black 3
Same play they ran for 11 yards on the first drive. Black(-1) blown out by a double. Martin(-1) fights to the wrong side of his blocker; Morgan(-1) again goes with the counter step and again gets pancaked in the end zone. Demens(-0.5) can't do much. This is easy, yo.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-14, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Trap? Van Bergen 2
Hawthorne in. G pulls around Martin(-0.5) as the C kicks him upfield. Tough job to stay disciplined there but Martin could have done better. Hawthorne shoots the gap outside and misses but does get an arm on Wood, causing him to stumble. RVB(+1.5) fought inside a double and now gets in the way, forcing a spin; Demens(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) converge to thump him down.
M37 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Out Floyd Inc
Zone blitz sees both DEs drop off as the MLBs blitz and Kovacs comes from way back. Rushers get picked up and Rees has a guy wide open on an out for the first (pressure -1, cover -1, Floyd -1), but instead of throwing it at the WR he throws it in the direction of Floyd five yards deeper. That's a letoff.
M37 3 8 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Hawthorne Inc
Hawthorne(+1) sent on the same blitz Morgan was earlier, but he doesn't tip it off, getting in free right after the snap (pressure +2, RPS +1). Rees chucks it in panic. General direction of a drag that probably won't get the first down; turfed. I have a new respect for giving free rushers +1s after watching Morgan earlier.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-14, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel over Pass 5 Bubble screen Gordon 22
Blitz from JT Floyd in the slot and ND bubbles right at it (RPS -1). Gordon gets a chuck in press man on Riddick, then disengages as Kovacs comes up. Riddick takes Kovacs. Gordon is now alone with Floyd on the edge. Floyd smokes him(-2, tackling -1) to the outside and turns a moderate gain into 20 yards.
O36 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Power off tackle Martin 0
RVB(+1) stands up to a double right at the LOS. This allows Martin(+1) to read the pull and pull himself, getting into the hole. Demens attacks and gets there at about the LOS; he turns it inside but I think he got bashed out the hole and would have given up a lane if not for Martin. Black(+1) set up, chucked the DE, and dove at Gray's feet as he passed—he's actually the first guy to tackle(+1). Well done all around by the DL.
O36 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Woolfolk Inc
Hawthorne as a standup DE-ish thing and Ryan as an MLB. Blitz telegraphed? I don't remember this play. Survey says... yes. Ryan blitzes, Hawthorne drops into coverage, ND picks it up. Rees wants Floyd on a fade covered by Woolfolk. Woolfolk(+2) is step for step and uses his club to knock the ball away as it arrives. Robinson(+0.5) was there to whack him, too. (Cover +2)
O36 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 3 Hitch Kovacs Int
Massive coverage bailout: the one that worked. ND rolls away from pressure that doesn't exist and still lets the backside DE roar in free. Rees has a timer in his head and needs to chuck it; he does. Kovacs(+3) backs out into a zone, reads the roll and the QBs eyes, and undercuts Floyd to intercept. Only problem: Eifert is wide open in the seam for a touchdown. Um (cover +1, RPS +1). I guess. Picture paged by dnak438.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-14, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Screen Black Inc
Black(+2) reads the screen, gets upfield, shoots out on the running back, and tackles him as Rees turfs the ball. (RPS +1, cover +1)
O24 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Run N/A Draw -- 20
Michigan shows the okie package on second and long; Rees checks, Michigan does nothing, and even after it's like “they called a play where they think we have no MLBs,” they still drop Mike Martin into a zone like it's third and twenty. Black did try to stunt inside and get crushed to the ground, so that's a -1. Everything else is on Mattison here. RPS -3. Little chance to defend this. I do wonder if the draw defense here was supposed to be Fitzgerald plunging down the line from outside.
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
No question about this. Avery shoves Floyd OOB on a very catchable fade (-2, cover -1).
M41 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel press Penalty N/A False start -- -5
I bet they all saw “Thor” on opening night.
M46 1 15 Shotgun trips Okie Pass 5 Tunnel screen Fitzgerald 3 – 15 Pen
Michigan drops a couple linebackers and sends five. The blitz prevents any ND OL from getting out just because they're getting blocked, essentially, and Fitzgerald(+0.5) just has to form up; RVB(+0.5) tackles from behind. RPS +1. Thor gets a personal foul.
O43 2 26 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Fade Floyd 26
Floyd on Floyd action. Floyd(+1, cover +1) has excellent, blanketing coverage on Floyd but the back shoulder throw is perfect and his hand is a half-second late. Floyd stabs a foot down and Floyd can't do much other than ride him out of bounds. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. This is one of those times. That is hard. That is why Floyd (not our Floyd) is going to be rich in about nine months.
M36 3 In Goal line 4-3 under Run N/A Dive Hawthorne In
Linemen just fall all over each other, leaving Hawthorne(+1) to leap over the pile with beautiful timing and nail Wood in the backfield. Could be a stop but Wood does burrow for the first. Refs got this spot on the money.
M36 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Heininger 5
Heininger(-2) crushed out of the hole. He has to take the double there; he does not. He gets sealed instantly and in one motion the T is out on Hawthorne. LBs have blockers in their faces. Demens(+0.5) sets up well and gets Wood to commit inside, then pops off and falls backwards and causes Wood to fall; Hawthorne(+0.5) had taken the hit and gotten playside. Not heroic work but they held this down without involving a safety despite both getting blocked.
M31 2 5 Ace trip TE Base 3-4? Run N/A Down G pitch Demens 3
Ryan(-2) is on the edge against three freaking tight ends and doesn't try to not get sealed. He's not even slanting. He rushes straight upfield, gets sealed by Eifert, and doesn't delay the puller. Hawthorne(-0.5) is on the LOS inside of Ryan and meets the same fate. Hard to blame him. Floyd sets up outside to force it back; Demens(+2, tackling +1) is running his ass off to beat the blocker coming out on him and catch Wood. He does just as Wood tries to break outside of Kovacs(+0.5), who had taken on the last TE and gotten outside all textbook and stuff.
M28 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Penalty N/A Delay of game -- -5
Brian Kelly thinks he's coaching basketball yo.
M33 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel stack Pass 4 Out Avery 15
Avery on Floyd; I think Floyd pushes off here to get separation but there is no call. Avery -1, cover -1.
M18 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 5 Rollout dumb Floyd Int
Rees goes “FLOYDFLOYDFLOYD” and throws it to him despite Floyd having three defenders around him, one directly in front of him. JT Floyd(+2, cover +2) picks it off.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Avery 12
Play action fake with a pull does suck Hawthorne(-0.5) out of position, but it's hard to not suck up given what's been happening. The bigger problem is Avery(-1.5, cover -1, tackling -1), who has no other threats than Floyd and would be fine if he just tackled on the catch here. He doesn't; Floyd breaks the tackle and turns five yards into a first down.
M38 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Nickel even Run N/A Down G pitch Black 3
Black(+1) slants inside the TE assigned to him, getting into the backfield. He draws one of the pulling OL and cuts off the outside, forcing a cutback. The TE peels back to try to deal with him and then thinks better of it. Wood cuts inside the Black engagement and would be in trouble if Heininger(-1) hadn't been completely handled by one-on-one blocking. If Heininger is just okay here this is no gain. Instead he's crushed, leaving a gap. Hawthorne(-0.5) was cut as well but gets up crazy fast; Demens(+1) avoided his cut and fills to thump.
M35 2 7 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Heininger 2
Good fightback from Heiniger(+1.5) here. He takes a one on one block and gets playside. This is definitely not supposed to happen since the H-back is running straight at this gap. Heininger is there; H-back runs into him. He holds. Running back now hits the pile; he starts to yield a little bit. He's still taken on two blockers and forced a bounce. An unblocked Demens(+0.5) is in the right place to lead the tacklers.
M33 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A Draw -- 12
Same thing that went for 20 on an earlier drive, with Martin backing out into a zone as ND runs a draw right at it. It's even worse this time as there is no one in the center of the field not dropping into a zone. RPS -3.
M21 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Rollout throwaway -- Inc
Good coverage(+2) causes Rees to throw it away as he nears the sideline.
M21 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 5 Fade Van Bergen Inc
They back out the MLBs this time and send the DL plus the OLBs. RVB(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) is instantly past the G assigned to him because of a poor pickup; Rees chucks a ball off his back foot that's not catchable. Eifert gives it a go, though.
M21 3 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Gordon Inc
Gordon(+2, cover +1) gets an excellent jam at the line and disrupts the route. I think this was destined for the slot but it could have been Floyd. Throw was less awful if it was the slot.
Drive Notes: FG(38), 7-17, 1 min 2nd Q. Greg Mattison's getting a little fancy here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Roh 4
Heininger out, Campbell in. I think Mattison knows Heininger has been getting manhandled. ND tries to run at Campbell; his(+0.5) response to a double is to burrow his way straight upfield. This does occupy two blockers for the duration of the play but I'm a little worried he went too upfield and didn't go down the line. This is still better than Heininger's output. Roh(+0.5) is also doubled and manages to split it after giving ground. This forces the RB outside, where Hawthorne can flow; Roh couldn't tackle but his penetration robbed the G of any ability to block Hawthorne. Would like Hawthorne to get to the hole quicker to hold this down a bit.
O24 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Quick out Floyd 7
Martin(+1, pressure +1) beats the center and threatens Rees up the middle. Doesn't matter because Floyd(-1, cover -1) is in the parking lot on a quick out for Floyd. Way too easy.
O31 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Martin 19
TE as H-back and lead blocker. Martin(-2) is clubbed, getting hit by a single momentary double and then sealed away by one guy after the G releases downfield. RVB(-2) gets upfield and is pancaked. Linebackers really have no chance here. Floyd(-1, tackling -1) is in overhang mode; he misses a tackle near ten yards and Wood ends up picking up 10 more.
50 1 10 Ace 2TE twins 4-3 over Penalty N/A False start -- -5
I bet they're all drummers, too.
O45 1 15 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen -- 8
Tough to defend as aligned(RPS -1), with Woolfolk bailing out and Gordon trying to hold his ground at about five yards getting blocked. Gordon does force it back inside, where Demens and MRobinson tackle.
M47 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 5 Hitch Floyd 6
Heininger back in; they've flipped him to SDE with RVB at three tech. Hawthorne blitzes and is picked up (pressure -1); Rees hits Floyd on a hitch near the sticks in front of Floyd. Floyd probably gets the first down if he doesn't fall, but he does fall, so he doesn't. (Cover -1)
M41 3 1 Ace twin TE 6-2 Bear Run N/A Iso Van Bergen -2
Bear? Why the hell not. This is a line of six dudes across ND's line with the DL shifted one way and two linebackers lined up above SDE Heininger. Demens is the lone LB; Kovacs also ends up in the box at LB depth as Eifert motions in. RVB(+2) blows through his blocker and is into the backfield; Ryan(+1) blitzed untouched from the outside; Martin(+1) avoided a submarine block from the center and leapt into the path of Eifert up the middle, allowing Demens(+0.5) to charge through the gap unmolested and finish off the tackle RVB and Ryan started. RPS +3; big big stop.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-17, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Run N/A Counter Ryan 38
Man, we suck at counters. This one is tough as Michigan has just six in the box against six blockers. Ryan(-2) plunges down the line and get annihilated by the RT. He is gone, he is being shoved into Martin, game over for the DL. Hawthorne(-1) sucked up to the LOS and gave the C a great angle to block him. I would be interested to know why Mattison doesn't key on OL pulls. There's got to be a reason. Anyway, with Hawthorne and the DL out of the picture, Kenny Demens(+1) is one on one with the pulling OL in acres of space. He sets up inside, realizes Gray is going outside of him, gets out to force a slow-down and cut-back, then gets plowed. Valiant effort there. Marvin Robinson(-3) then turns ten yards into many more by losing leverage. Kovacs had this covered at the sticks if Gray does not get outside.
M30 1 10 Ace 2TE tight 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Ryan 0
Excellent work by the entire DL here, as they flow down the line in textbook fashion. Martin(+1) controls the center and drives him back, flowing. Campbell(+1) takes a double but stays playside of it and occupies both blockers for the whole play. Ryan(+2) dominates the TE assigned to him, not only driving him into the backfield two yards but shoving him into Martin's lineman; Woods has nowhere to go except up his blockers' backs. RVB took a double too; he gave ground but it didn't matter. Wood then puts the ball on the turf; Campbell recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-17, 7 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle MRobinson 24
Simply untenable, this. RVB(-2) shoots straight upfield. He does bump a puller and delay him, but he falls to the ground and is useless. Martin is on the backside and wasn't going to be able to do much but now he's totally out of the play. Black(-2) locks in with Eifert and then makes a critical error: instead of bulling him back and stringing the play out he attempts to disengage. He gets playside but gives up two yards of penetration and gets way too far outside in the process, now getting caught up with Hawthorne. Then he falls. Big cutback lane. Robinson(-2, tackling -2) whiffs so bad he hardly slows Wood, turning a nice gain into a huge one.
M47 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel under Run N/A Inside zone Black 0
Floyd(-1) telegraphs blitz, no check. ND runs away from it and might have a big gainer if they can get the edge sealed. This time Black(+2) stands up, chucks Eifert inside of him, and pops up on the edge a yard into the backfield, forcing a cutback. Martin(+0.5) has flowed down the line to cut off the immediate cutback and Demens(+0.5) comes in from behind to tackle.
M47 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A Delay Demens 5
Michigan sends Ryan and Kovacs from the outside while dropping Demens and Hawthorne back to linebacker depth. This initially fools the LT, who ends up having to chase Demens(+1) as he scrapes to the hole to tackle. Demens ends up missing the tackle because the OL blocks him in the back (refs -1); Martin(+0.5) set up well and came off a block to finish the tackle. Should have been two yards or negative ten, but that's life. RPS +1
M42 3 5 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Pass 5 Rollout out Floyd 16
Floyd(-2, cover -2) gets killed on this little rollout out. Giving up the first down is one thing. Getting so far out of position on a five yard out that you can't even miss a tackle until the safety comes up and the WR has to delay is another. Easy.
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Van Bergen -4 (Pen +10)
M waits to tip its blitz until after the check, getting Gordon(+1, RPS +2) in off the edge on the playside. Michigan slants under the zone blocking and RVB(+1) gets through to tackle immediately on the cutback Gordon forces. Heininger(-1) erases all of that by yanking an ND OL by the jersey as he's cut to the ground.
M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Floyd Inc
Floyd(+2, cover +2) in press here and stays step-for-step with Floyd on the fade, breaking it up as it arrives. Fade is not well thrown, which helps.
M16 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 two deep Run N/A Inside zone Demens 1
Three man line with Ryan as a Crable DT; they send him and Demens at the same gap. ND runs away from it. Trouble? Maybe. Martin(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) flow away from the blitz against single blocking and hold up; Demens(+2) keeps his head up, reads the play, gets into his blocker, and then releases down the line to tackle.
M15 3 9 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 two deep Pass N/A Drag Van Slyke 15
Three man rush leaves Rees all day(pressure -1) but does force a checkdown. Slot WR is running in front of Van Slyke(-2, tackling -1), who's too far behind to do anything but make a desperation dive that does not bring the WR down. That's the first down; the TD is mostly due to a stellar block by an ND WR that cut off three guys.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-24, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 TE out Hawthorne Inc
Herbstreit is now circling our telegraphed blitzes. Rees is still checking out of plays. This time it's Kovacs rolling up and blitzing; ND rolls away from it. Rees seems to have a WR open but goes to Eifert, who is blanketed by Hawthorne(+2, cover +2). Hawthorne comes over the top to break it up. Impressive.
O10 2 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne 8
Van Bergen(-1) is battered out of the hole but Ryan(+0.5) sets up right this time and Demens(+0.5) scrapes to hit the lead DE at the LOS. Narrow gap for the tailback that should be filled by Hawthorne(-1) but isn't because he shuffled to the LOS instead of flowing over the top and allowed the C to block him. Picture paged.
O18 3 2 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne -2
Same play. Michigan sends Hawthorne on a blitz this time. RVB(+2) shoots upfield, getting his blocker in trouble and picking off a pulling G. He is surging through both these guys two yards in the backfield as Wood approaches. Ryan(+0.5) again sets up well on the edge. Wood is going to try to bounce, which will test Ryan severely because Demens(-0.5) is not in position to bounce with him. Moot, though, as Hawthorne(+2) has zipped through the crack provided by the pulling G and tackles for loss. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-24, 13 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 PA TE drag Hawthorne 5
Rees goes play action and then finds his tight end for a moderate gain. Hawthorne tackles immediately. Pressure was getting-there-ish, coverage was okay, throw could have been better... this is average all around.
O45 2 5 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 2 (Pen -10)
Campbell(+1!) bowls over the backside G. RVB(+1) has cut through his blocking on the frontside, which forces a cutback. Campbell might have as shot at a TFL but is held, allowing the RB past; Demens(+1) reads and slices through a gap to make an ankle tackle as Wood gets to the LOS. Black(-1) got blown up and pancaked by Eifert on the backside, which is why this became dangerous.
O35 2 15 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 3 Tunnel screen Black 0
Hawthorne sent; Black drops off. Think Rees puts this too far outside but Black(+2) takes advantage. He's chucking a TE on his drop who turns into his blocker; Black shucks him and tackles Floyd at the line. (RPS +1, tackling +1)
O35 3 15 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 TE post -- 21
No pressure(-1) on a four man rush allows Rees to step up and sling it in a very small gap between Hawthorne and Demens(+1); this is good coverage(+1) that Rees beats with a fantastic throw. Demens was right there, man.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel spread Run N/A Inside zone Gordon 2
Hawthorne split out in man and I think this baits ND since it looks like Demens is the only LB. On the snap, Gordon blitzes and the line slants. RVB(+0.5) gets some penetration and Wood cuts back. Gordon(+0.5) is there to contain; Demens(-0.5) gets too far outside and doesn't provide a thump to hold this to one yard. RPS +1
M41 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Slant Ryan 11
ND is taking a long time to get their plays called and M takes advantage, sending Gordon and Demens and dropping off Ryan. This is almost deadly. Rees hurries his throw and it's right at the zone Ryan(-1, cover -1) is dropping into except he's too far into the flat, so instead of going right to him it passes just by his outstretched hand. He drops properly and we could be talking pick six. (RPS +2)
M30 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 two deep Pass 5 Slant Woolfolk 8
ND runs double slants and Woolfolk(-1) is beaten to the inside; he does tackle immediately. (Cover -1)
M22 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
Kovacs rolls up; check. They take advantage of the man to man to take a shot at the endzone. Avery(+1, cover +1) is right in the WR's face as the ball comes in; it's low and to the outside and Avery can't do anything about the futile one-handed stab the WR makes, but it's a futile one-handed stab. Avery is hit with a terrible PI flag (refs -1)
M7 1 G Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 6 DERP DERP DERP
DERP. Michigan had blitzed and gotten Black(+1, pressure +1, RPS +1) in Rees's face so if this goes forward it's almost certainly getting batted anyway.
Drive Notes: DERP, 21-24, 6 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell? 3
Campbell does okay with a double but only okay and starts getting shoved back. ND RT releases downfield into... no one. Weird. I guess I have to give Campbell +0.5 since one of his guys was probably supposed to get Hawthorne. Hawthorne is now unblocked so he is headed to the frontside gap; Wood cuts behind. Demens(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) combine to tackle.
M23 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Out Woolfolk 6
No pressure(-1); easy throw for Rees as Woolfolk is in man. No minus here since it's a six yard completion with an instant tackle. That's kind of a win for the cornerback.
M29 3 1 Ace trips TE 6-2 Bear Run N/A Inside zone Ryan -2
Credit could go to either Ryan or Campbell. Campbell(+2) destroys the RT. He gets under him and pancakes the dude. He dead. This constricts the hole and picks off the pulling TE. Wood has to take it inside slightly, where Ryan(+2) blazed past the other tackle on an outside blitz and took a perfect angle to Flying Squirrel Tackle Wood; Demens(+0.5) was there to clean up if necessary. Either Ryan or Campbell was enough to stuff this. Both and you look dominant. (RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-24, 2 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Floyd Inc (Pen 15)
Hawthorne(+1, pressure +1) gets a free run at Rees so he chucks it to Floyd, Floyd(-2, cover -2) is beaten instantly and starts yanking the jersey in a desperate bid to not be an instant goat.
M46 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 3 TE In Demens 12
All day (pressure -2) on a three man rush; Rees patiently waits until he finds Eifert for a first down. Demens right there to tackle.
M34 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Rollout out -- 5
No pressure on the roll but lots of coverage(+1) in the area because of the extra defender means Rees has to check down for a few yards.
M29 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 6 Fade -- Inc
Miscommunication between QB and receiver means pass is nowhere near anyone. Blitz was just getting home.
M29 3 5 Shotgun trips Nickel eff it Pass 3 Seam MRobinson? 29
This has to be a bust by someone but it's also hugely risky in an area of the field where you have another ten yards before you can really start bringing the heat. It must be Robinson(-2), but this is such a ridiculously hard thing to ask this kid to do that an RPS -3 is warranted. Picture paged by dnak438.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-31, 30 sec 4th Q

So how was that?

I don't know, man.

I sentence you to death!

I'm already a condemned man.

I sentence your face to death!

Great. So Michigan gave up 31 points and 513 yards on Saturday. They acquired four turnovers, only two of which could plausibly be declared forced—the two fumbles were just ND players dropping the ball—and one of the plausibly forced also featured a hand-wavingly open coverage bust. Without Notre Dame literally handing the ball to Michigan they likely score between 37 and 45 points. Yeesh.

There is one major mitigating factor: drives. Notre Dame had 13. That's a lot, even more than last year's opponents averaged (12.4) during a time when every other play was a long touchdown. It's still tough to be encouraged when the opponent threw for 8.1 YPA and ran for 6 YPC.

But Notre Dame's offense is really good!

This I buy. Eifert and Floyd are a hell of a receiving combo, their line consists entirely of veterans who Michigan would have loved to have, Brian Kelly is an established offensive super genius, and I love Cierre Wood. If Rees ever stops turning the ball over they could rack up some silly numbers. Big if given Rees's tunnel vision for Floyd, granted.

A quick glance at the schedule suggests the only offense that looks anywhere near as talented is at—ugh—Michigan State. If your line coming out of this game is "this is the most talented offense we'll face," I'm inclined to agree given the dodgy nature of the State offensive line.

And we got a lot better late!

Also true, but first let's get some context, let's get—

WILLCAMPBELLCHART

He does make an appearance.

SAY IT

Will Campbell chart.

SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT

WILLCAMPBELLCHART

SUFFICIENT

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 11 6 5 Two huge plays on third and short pull him above average.
Martin 9 4.5 4.5 Had one trademark slash for TFL, was otherwise kinda eh.
Roh 2 1 1 Do something!
Brink - - - DNP
Heininger 2 8 -6 Consistently blown up by single blocking.
Black 11 5 6 Made a lot of plays on the edge.
Campbell 5 - 5 Please be real.
TOTAL 40 24.5 15.5 Decent but the "pressure" metric below is a downer.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 13 4.5 8.5 Twelve tackles and few errors.
Herron - - - DNP
Ryan 6 6 0 Had some trouble holding up on the edge when asked to slant
Fitzgerald 0.5 - 0.5 About two plays.
Jones - - - DNP
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer - - - DNP
Hawthorne 6.5 4 2.5 Alternated nice plays, coverage, with slow reads.
Morgan 1 7 -6 Yanked. Back problem time?
TOTAL 27 21.5 5.5 Can Hawthorne hold up?
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 5 8 -3 Good PBUs deep, couldn't keep on the radar underneath
Avery 1 4.5 -3.5 Struggled, but PI unfair.
Woolfolk 2 1 1 Limited.
Kovacs 4 2 2 Less explosive day, rarely blitzed, but didn't get beat.
T. Gordon 4.5 2 2.5 I like him.
Johnson - - - DNP
Robinson 0.5 8 -7.5 Lost leverage twice, blew deep coverage twice.
TOTAL 17 25.5 -8.5 FS play killing them.
Metrics
Pressure 7 13 -6 Front four not getting anywhere.
Coverage 17 18 -1 Good deep in press man.
Tackling 4 10 -6 Very poor day.
RPS 22 18 4 Big recovery late with third and short stops worth +8.

The defensive line generally emerged positive but throw in that pressure metric and it's a below-average day. No one is getting to the quarterback. Their big positives came when ND could not pick up third and short.

I struggled with what to do with plays like the Kovacs interception, on which I gave Kovacs a big plus and Mattison/coverage a small one. (Given Rees's rolling out the TE throw would have been tough.) The surprising net result: a positive RPS day after a lot of big minuses. That is due in large part to Mattison bringing out blitzes that stoned Notre Dame on third and short three times. Those are critical turning points that, according to the Mathlete, swung Michigan's run defense from –4 points above normal (PAN) in the first half to +4 in the second.

Would you like to debate the semantics of the word "sound"?

There's been some pushback (at BWS and also on twitter) on my declaration the defense is not "sound" after pointing out the various ways in which Mattison plus Michigan's inexperience yield a bunch of holes in the D. Some of this is my fault since I did not make it clear that when I was describing something as unsound it was the defense as a whole, not necessarily any individual play. I say this because of plays like this:

Is this a massive missed assignment that leaves essentially no one in the middle of the field? I suppose that's possible, but it doesn't sound like it:

Longer runs when Mike Martin dropped into coverage. How do you protect the middle of field? “The same blitzes that hit the quarterback from western -- [Notre Dame] obviously saw that and didn’t want that pressure to come at them, so what they did was check to a run whenever they saw that look. We have defenses that look exactly the same that are run defenses, and it’s the same thing. I called the pressure thinking it was pass, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I should have called the pressure for the run because maybe they’re going to do that, and sure enough they did do it. And the next one they ran it on third-and-seven. If a team’s going to run it on third-and-seven, you aren’t ever going to pressure if you’re worried about it. And some of the overloads on both sides -- they aren’t great run defenses.”

Sometimes Mattison runs sucky run defenses on second and ten. Sometimes he calls plays where there's no one deeper than five yards and would like a true sophomore in his first extended playing time to cover not only the deep middle but a seam route he's not even looking at. Sometimes he asks the WLB to run hash-to-hash with his back towards the QB and then do something about a seven-yard hitch. Are these plays sound? Maybe some of them are… on paper. In practice the kinds of zone blitzing Mattison uses give certain defenders massively difficult tasks.

Is that sound? Yes, technically, but only technically.

I don't have a problem with this, by the way, since it's the equivalent of taking over Michigan's 2008 offense. Do whatever you want. Caviar dreams appreciated.

Do we have a weakside linebacker?

I think we might. Desmond Morgan got a shot and looked like a true freshman. He tipped his blitzes, failed to scrape to the hole despite being unblocked, and had at least one instance in which he did the "I'm in man, everyone else is in zone" thing we saw too frequently last year and from Herron in the opener. Sad fugee faces.

Then Hawthorne came in, and while he had his errors he also flashed impressive coverage skills…

…and the ability to Ian Gold his way into the opponent's backfield:

[update: wrong video. fixed.]

The sample size is small but in retrospect that practice where everyone freaked out because Campbell wasn't starting, then breathed a sigh of relief because Brandin Hawthorne was in there at WLB so it couldn't have actually been the first team defense, was prescient. Hawthorne leapt to the top of the depth chart in the aftermath of his performance and will likely stick there until Northwestern, Michigan State, and Iowa test him down the road.

Do we have a three tech?

Come on, baby. It eventually became clear to Michigan's coaches that Will Heininger was a problem on the interior and they started rotating other options into the game. Quinton Washington got a few snaps and didn't do anything of note. Will Campbell, though, not only features in the above Gratuitous Video but a couple other instances where he all but threw Notre Dame offensive linemen into the ballcarrier. Here he's held!

By the end of the game he'd racked up a +5 with no minuses. This came a week after WMU lit him up and he got promptly yanked.

What changed? Michigan's scheme probably helped. Against WMU they ran a lot of three-man lines with a nose tackle and a couple ends. Against ND it was all four-man lines in which Campbell was the three-tech. That makes him harder to double and apparently allows him to chuck a three-hundred pound redshirt senior like he's Sam McGuffie.

This almost can't be real, so let's say it's not. Likely scenario: Campbell is making some progress but needs to be constantly reminded of his technique, applied in limited situations in which he can succeed, and gets tired really quickly.

Do we have a free safety?

No. Best hope there is for one of the corners to take over at nickelback and get Thomas Gordon back there.

Do we have a weakside defensive end?

Maybe, but it's not the one people expected. Jibreel Black didn't get any quarterback pressure on his own but he still racked up a nice day thanks to athletic plays like this:

He's chucking tight ends out of his face and holding up on the edge (usually) and may have passed Roh. Now about that pass rush…

Heroes?

Kenny Demens was probably Michigan's best defender on the day, and when Campbell and Hawthorne's powers combined on the final four drives Notre Dame averaged 3.3 YPC on twelve attempts.

Goats?

Marvin Robinson lost leverage frequently and busted the final TD. Anyone covering Floyd on anything but a fly route was helpless, but that can't really be held against them. Morgan and Heininger were poor before being lifted.

What does it mean for Eastern Michigan and the future?

The next three weeks will be spent consolidating a starting position for Hawthorne, working out what Campbell's role can be, working on reducing the number of busts, and hopefully finding someone to play free safety. IME this has to be Thomas Gordon, so look for Blake Countess to begin rotating in as a nickelback so Michigan can develop the corner depth they'll want to keep Gordon at safety full time.

They could look okay by the end of that period. I'm extremely worried about the pass rush from the front four, though. I assumed that would be a strength and it has not been anything close. If they don't get more they'll be totally reliant on wacky blitz packages Michigan's transitioning defense clearly isn't doing a great job of executing. That will make for a  rollercoaster.

Comments

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-14-11: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-14-11: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko September 14th, 2011 at 5:52 PM

News bullets and other important items:

  • Cam Gordon is healthy, but conditioning might be a problem at this point.
  • Troy Woolfolk is fine, so stop asking.
  • Fitz Toussaint will return for EMU.
  • Ricky Barnum is clear starter at left guard.
  • Will Campbell will get more playing time.
  • Freshman RBs may play depending on how things go.
  • Justice Hayes is lining up as a receiver on scout team at times.
  • Brendan Gibbons is still primary placekicker, with Wile/Paulowski handling long FGs.
  • No redshirting decisions made yet.
  • Blake Countess looks likely to be a contributor at some point.
  • Saturday is Hoke's 100th game as head coach, but it ain't no thang.

Brady Hoke

"Let’s not be sticklers on what’s morning and what’s not."

Opening remarks: “We’ve got a lot of work, and I’ve said that before, and you guys say, ‘Yeah, right,’ but we have a lot of work to do as a football team. Tuesday, yesterday, was an okay day. I didn’t think it was a great day. A lot of that was the mental things of game planning. It always seems to happen that way. Every Tuesday is not near as good as Wednesday and not near as good as Thursday, because you tweak your plan a little bit, and you’ve got to have something that your kids, number one, can execute and perform well, but at the same time, you want to take advantage of some things that you want to from your opponent.

“Eastern is a very good football team. I’m talking about how they play the game. You can tell Ron’s done a great job in his footprint on that program. I’ve known Ron for a number of years, and his toughness that they want to have as a team is evident. If you look at 331 yards per game, I don’t care who you’re rushing the ball, if you’re averaging that, that’s pretty significant. So they’re blocking pretty well up front. There’s a number of guys that have spent time here in Ann Arbor on that staff who are very good coaches, and guys who understand and have a philosophy on how you play the game of football. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’ve got to play much better. We have to have some improvement as a team if we want to reach our goals, so believe me. We’ve got full attention on what Eastern Michigan does."

What’s practice like during game week, re: position drills, scrimmaging, etc.? “Tuesday and Wednesday are big work days -- big physical days and we’re going to compete against each other in some of the drills because of the speed and the look that you want. You break up part of practice to get a good switch of personnel so you can get a look at the plays that you have to defend and the defenses that you want to try and block. The kicking part of it – we do coverage teams on Tuesday, return teams on Wednesday, and do them both on Thursday. All those things, as you look at your opponent, you’re trying to put the best plan together.”

Does Eastern’s emphasis on the run help you shore up things up front? “I don’t know if it helps. I think they’re very good with formations. I think they leverage defenses pretty well. I think they do a nice job in and out of personnels and formations to leverage a defense. It all goes back to the same thing on defense -- you have to play with your eyes, and you have to make sure you’re honed in on what that key is -- that key at every position so you can react in the proper manner.”

Has Cam practiced this week? “He practiced yesterday, ran around, did some things. My biggest concern right now for him is his conditioning level because he’s missed a lot of time. I think we’ll get through that, but right now he’s available.”

You’ve talked about improving from week one to week two. What did you do better against Notre Dame, and how do you plan on continuing that trend? “I think there’s a lot of truth to that, and then you've got to continue to be championship teams, you’ve got to continue every week. A lot of that comes from the mental process of how you prepare, and that’s what we as a team have to do a good job of -- the way we prepare every week.

“I think we did some good things on third downs in the second half from a defensive standpoint. I thought we adjusted well offensively at halftime. When you look at some of the runs Denard had, and how Al changed up some blocking offensively to expose it a little more and help it. So there was good reaction from what Notre Dame was doing. I thought that was a good part. I think kickoff coverage was good.”

Do you expect to get Fitz back for Eastern? “Yeah he should be. He did everything yesterday, so we hope to.”

Taylor Lewan got pissed off yesterday because someone told him that the running backs didn’t really do much in the run game. What does O-line have to do to allow RBs some consistency? “You have to be better at the point of attack. You have to finish if you’re combination blocking, make sure you get up to the next level, make sure you’re getting the movement that you want on the line of scrimmage. There’s multiple things, because there’s perimeter people you have to count on harassing the guys from the secondary so your bigger plays can come from that. I think Taylor and all those guys have a lot of pride, and it’s good to hear that.”

Did you think Vincent Smith made a bigger difference in the passing game than rushing game? “I couldn’t tell you that. I think we have to block better. That’s where the game starts, so it’s like everything else. It’s all of us, coaches, players, and everybody.”

What does Vince bring on third down? “He’s tough. He knows what he’s doing, he’s tough, he’s not afraid to put his face on somebody, and he’s good out of the backfield. Catches the ball well. I like that little guy.”

Is there ongoing competition at left guard (Barnum vs. Schofield)? “I think Ricky has probably cemented himself decently to some degree in there, but if he practices badly or plays badly, then it’s nice to have a little bit of an option with Mike.”

Have you given any thought to Saturday being your 100th game as a head coach? “No.” Does it mean anything to you? “Not really.”

You referenced improvement on third down stops. Overall number isn’t very good yet, but is there a common theme in what worked on those plays? “I would think a couple things -- number one, we’ve got to challenge a little more in the back end. That would be first. We let some runs that were … I think there were one, two … three runs on third downs that broke because of one reason or another that we’ve got to execute better.”

Mike Hart’s going to be on the opposite sideline. What’s your relationship with him like? “I know Mike. I wasn’t here when Mike was here, but I have a lot of respect for Mike, and what he did for Michigan. I know him well enough. He’s a good man, and I like the heck out of him.”

If the opportunity arose, would you welcome him back to Michigan? “I think all of those guys are welcome back.”

After you get done with a noon game, do you spend the rest of the night looking at other teams? “Well, I’ll take the laptop home and first thing I’ll do is watch what we did, and then there’s usually next opponents on there gamewise, and may look at that a little bit.”

Are you going to give Will Campbell more playing time? “Yeah, in fact I asked him -- I guess I’m a little naïve -- I said, ‘Is that the most you’ve ever played?’ and he said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘Really?’ I guess I should have known that. He did some good things in there. I think he’s gaining a little bit more confidence. He is a guy that can help us an awful lot if we can get the consistency and the improvement.”

Has lack of PT lit a fire under him in practice? “I think he just is -- I think we all get to a point that he’s settled in a position, number one, and I think that helps on a daily basis on what you do from a fundamentals and technique side. I think that part of it is real positive for our football team, and positive for him.”

Just makin’ sure … Is Troy limited at all in practice? “No. He did everything yesterday. I really like where he’s at in a mental state right now.”

Michael Floyd got his yards, but JT had him one-on-one and did a nice job considering it was against Michael Floyd. What did he do well? “I think JT’s improved. I think he’s got a long way to go, but I think he’s done some things better. I think he has the confidence level you want to have as a corner, without being too cocky. I think that’s an important part of it. There’s a lot of plays in there where he’s got to play a little better, too.”

Can you talk about your depth at linebacker position? “I think with Mike Jones, and Hawthorne being healthy, Fitzgerald and Desmond being healthier than he was Week One, that helps. Brandin’s still trying to get himself back. Cam, we’ve talked about, he’s an outside linebacker. Kenny’s done a pretty good job. I would say we’re okay. We’re not the deepest group anywhere, to be honest with you.”

Lots o’ guys playing at the WILL position during the last two games. How much of that is just rotating them, and how much is just trying to find a clear starter or two? “Some of that depends on what defense you’re in. If you’re in a nickel or dime package, who’s out on the field, or if you’re in our base package. So with what Western Michigan wanted to do, it was more of a nickel/dime kind of setup [with their four-wide formations]. But [with Eastern Michigan] rushing the ball for 331 yards a game out of two base personnel groups, you’ll be a little more with your base defense.”

Does it help having stability in the middle with Kenny Demens? “I always think it does. You have a guy who has experience, you have a guy who’s pretty sharp when it comes to making the calls, setting the front, and adjusting at that level, so yeah. Kenny does a good job, and J.B. does a good job when he’s in.”

Will you consider playing your freshman RBs? “Maybe.” What will that depend on? “It will always depend on how fast they learn, maturity-wise, and all those things.” Have they caught up a little more? “I think they’re okay. Depending on where we get, they may play.”

What have you seen from them? “I think Rawls is a strong runner, he’s got good vision and pretty good balance. He’s got a pretty good burst. Justice is a guy who’s got great quickness. Catches the ball well. He’s doing a lot of things for us now on our look teams, sometimes lining up as a wideout, just because of numbers, and he’s matured.”

You’re not Kirk Ferentz, so you’re probably not going to take a knee on third down just to kick a field goal, but how important is it to get a couple attempts in the next couple games to get to the meat of the schedule? “I don’t know if it’s as important as we all may think. I think we’re kicking everyday. [Gibbons] is going up to the stadium everyday. He’s shown good consistency. We’ve come at him everyday. We put pressure on him, and I think right now he’s hitting the ball pretty well.”

Is that still one of those things where you don’t really know how well he kicks until you get into a game situation? “It’s like anything else in life. I don’t know what’s going to happen ten minutes from now. I don’t worry about that.”

It looked like Wile was taking a few practice kicks during the Notre Dame game when it looked like the FG attempt would be longer. Is Wile still handling long field goals? “I would say him or Paulowski. Either one of those two guys. They to have a little bit of a stronger leg.”

How were the players mentally yesterday? “They were pretty good that way. I think your Tuesday, no matter what -- because of a couple wrinkles here or there, and they are students also -- they come in here and they have to focus on this part of it now, and some do a better job than others.”

Any scholarships for walk-ons? “Bum. Bum bum. Bum. Um … I don’t think so. I think we’ve renewed some that were given a year ago.” No one new? “No.”

Any redshirting decisions? “You know, not really. We’re not going to be afraid to play freshmen, obviously. The best player's going to play. They’re still learning to some degree, but from the fundamentals standpoints, if they’re the best, they’ll play.”

How do you get more out of your return game? “Gotta block better. The punt return that Gallon had the other night was huge, when you look at field position, but on the kickoffs, we have to do a better job of picking guys up. I think our vision was okay back there as far as the return part of it. We just have to be more consistent staying on guys longer.”

Is Countess putting himself in a position to contribute? “I think so. I think he will.”

Comments

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 14th, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Gratuitous Video of the Week:

Formation Notes: The most interesting thing was Michigan's deployment of an unbalanced line on several plays to good effect. The PA FB flat and throwback screen both game out of the unbalanced line, as did a two-yard Hopkins power.

Substitution Notes: Barnum went the whole way in place of Schofield. Shaw, Smith, and Hopkins seemed to alternate snaps about evenly. Odoms got in for a little bit towards the end; other than that the WR rotation was about how it was.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel tight Run QB power off tackle Robinson 7
It's Nix, not Cwynar in for the first snap, FWIW. Michigan runs at the left side off the line, pulling Omameh and using Shaw as a lead blocker. Molk(+1) and Barnum(+1) double Nix, blowing him off the line; Lewan(+1) handles Johnson by himself. ND is not exactly surprised by this playcall and has the intended hole full of bodies. However, Nix has started to flow hard and Molk(+1 again) has peeled off to kick out KLM, so there's a cutback lane... Molk then peels off KLM to get a third(!) block on the play. Safeties ten yards off the LOS come in to keep the gain down.
RUN+: Robinson, Lewan, Barnum, Molk(2) RUN-:
M30 2 3 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel tight Run Zone stretch Robinson -3
Excellent diagnosis by Teo, who flows hard right into the intended lane. Shaw and Huyge both try to pick him off but he gets outside their blocks. Denard(-2) needs to cut his losses and cut behind this mess to pick up a minimal gain and a third and short; instead he tries to bounce it out. If he'd cut it up Nix had fallen (he is a battleship of a man) and he might have picked up the first. This is the kind of fast flow stuff that Michigan exploited last year. Didn't really do so this year. RPS -1.
RUN-: Robinson(2)
M33 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Penalty False start Barnum -5
Nerves from the debutant.
M28 3 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel press Pass Out Grady Inc
You can tell how scared ND is of Denard's legs. They rush four and have two linebackers flowing upfield right in the middle of the line, which opens up a huge gap for one of them to shoot. Instead they gingerly approach the line. Smith releases into a flare route that Fox belatedly realizes is his responsibility, he starts peeling out for it. Denard checks down to a three-yard out on third and eleven and throws it way upfield of Grady. He can't bring it in; even if he did this was zero yards. This is both a bad read and and inaccurate pass; this was a covered nothing route when he had full view of two linebackers in the middle of the field. A dumpoff to Smith had a much better chance of getting it done even without considering routes that are, you know, somewhat near the first down. (BR, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Grady Inc
LBs very spread out because of the... uh... spread. One safety creeping up, another at about 12 yards. This is the same route Robinson just missed, and there's an ND safety flying up on it to tackle on the catch if it gets there. It doesn't, as it's batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 1/1.) Can't really blame Lewan here because he has to pass protect; he can't just cut because this is not necessarily a screen.
M23 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone read dive Hopkins 2
This is our first indication that the zone read keeper is going to work all day. Michigan has Koger on the backside of the play; instead of going downfield he kicks out the backside OLB. Both MLBs flow hard to the playside. Denard(-2) should keep; he doesn't. If he keeps he's one on one with the FS for a big gainer. Since he handed off the blocking is five on five with Omameh(-1) doubling the playside DE instead of doing something about those charging LBs. Hopkins has to cut back and gets cut down by the backside DE, who Lewan(+1) had sealed away. Molk(+1) had blasted Nix way off the line, FWIW.
RUN+: Lewan, Molk RUN-: Robinson(2), Omameh
M25 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide bunch trips 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Dumpoff Smith 6
Good protection but Robinson can't find anyone. He checks down to Smith, who is immediately set upon by two ND LBs. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q. Robinson's second-down errors have killed both these drives.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 4-3 Pass Waggle (sack) -- -1
Yeesh. Waggle suckers this entire insanely aggressive ND defense and gets Denard on the edge being chased by a single DE. Moore was late getting out because he got caught up in traffic but is wide open. Also wide open is the corner. Denard should run, or throw. He should do one of the wide open things. Instead he points a little bit, then slows up as he nears the line, then stops, then is snowed under. Horrible. (BR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS +1)
M19 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB Iso Robinson 14
Notre Dame defends this well, then loses contain. Mediocre blocks along the line provide smallish creases but nothing major; Omameh(-1) whiffs on Calabrese, who fills the cutback hole Denard was aiming for. Let's cut back further. Koger(+1) is still blocking the backside end after all this time; that end has started to give ground in case he has to pursue and gives up the corner. Hypothetical ND UFR guy just gave him -2. I give Denard +3 for making 12 yards on his own.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Koger RUN-: Omameh
M33 1 10 I-Form Big Unbalanced 2 2 1 4-4 Under Run Power off tackle Hopkins 2
ND essentially has nine in the box with a safety eight yards off the LOS and charging at the snap. Michigan has a bunch in the box, too I guess. Barnum(-1) pulls and I'm not sure because I'm no expert on power yet but it seems to me like his path to the hole takes too long. When he gets there Fox is already at his feet chopping his knees out. Maybe that's too harsh, since this contact is happening right at the LOS. Maybe not. Bear with me. I've yet to see any attempt to exploit the insanely aggressive ND defense with misdirection. RPS -1.
M35 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Screen Smith Int
ND rushes three and lays everyone else back so even if this is complete this is going to die immediately (RPS -1). Denard pumps, then tosses it over the head of Nix... and Smith... and into the arms of Gray. (INX, 0, screen)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-14, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 18
Reminiscent of a phase in RR's second year when shooting that TE backside was all the rage. Koger is lined up as an H-back and pulls across the formation as Denard executes the read. ND is so aggressive Michigan's inside zone blocking looks like they're blocking down on power with Koger the puller; Lewan(+1) blows Johnson down the line and Koger(+1) kicks out the OLB. Denard(+1) pulls, then hits the hole right next to Shaw. Johnson does a valiant job to shuck Lewan and almost get out, as does Teo, but Denard is too fast(+1) and hits the corner. This play does exploit the aggressive ND defense—suckering in Teo was key. Roundtree had a nice block downfield. RPS +1
RUN+: Lewan, Koger, Robinson(2), Roundtree RUN-:
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Rollout post Hemingway Inc
Looks like a pin and pull zone on the line, but there are WRs. This does erase the safeties(RPS+1) while getting Denard time. He's got Hemingway with inside position on a post route, which is the perfect situation to put up an arm punt and let Hemingway get it... but he misses by five yards. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M31 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA Corner Roundtree Inc
A preview of the Great Gary Gray Garbage ExtravaGanza: dude just falls down after Roundtree fakes outside and then back to the inside. This is the WR equivalent of breaking someone's ankles on a crossover dribble. After a play action fake that does NOT suck the safeties in—contrast between this PA and the previous play is stark—Robinson sets up and hits Roundtree's corner. He zings it on a rope just out of Roundtree's outstretched hands. Live I thought this was a drop but on the tape it looks like it just glances off his fingers. Would have been a very tough catch. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
M31 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 3
ND moves a safety down into the box and sends a fifth guy. M picks up a looping stunt but the delayed blitz from the LB comes around and gets in; Denard has had some time but can't find anyone and has to roll out. Nowhere to go, he scrambles for a few. (TA, N/A, protection ½, team -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-14, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 2
ND super aggressive linebackers are super aggressive, submarining the FB Watson at the LOS and giving Hopkins nowhere to go. RPS -1. The blocking is fine. It's just that there's no way for this play to work if the FB is going to get cut-blocked a yard behind the LOS and Teo is going to flow over the top.
O43 2 8 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass Fade? Hemingway 43
Ah, the first of the impossible to chart things. Hemingway comes in motion to the short side, causing ND to reveal zone. The FS bails at the snap, not even considering play action. ND rushes five against seven blockers and gets nowhere. Robinson has all year. He eventually sets up and chucks a... back shoulder... fade? Is that intentional? Can it possibly be given what we've seen earlier today? It is to the outside and upfield and Gray is nowhere near it as Hemingway spears the ball, so... results based charting service. (DO, 2, protection 4/4) Hemingway catches it at the four and lunges in.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone read dive Shaw -2
Same thing: ND sells out on the keeper and does not leave enough backside. Denard(-2) hands off and there's just no chance because both MLBs are shooting up in holes and there is no contain on Denard. If he keeps he's got Lewan crushing a guy, Koger blocking the backside LB, and he's one one with a safety.
RUN-: Robinson(2)
M16 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Fly Roundtree Inc
ND rushes three and is stoned. Robinson pumps and then lets a sideline fly route go; way long. Robinson throwing a fly to Roundtree with nothing relevant. This is what I am saying by grab-bag: when this happened last year the pump was to a bubble they'd thrown several times. This year it's to nothing. Roundtree is covered well and the throw is long. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M16 3 12 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Rollout out Hemingway Inc
Michigan rolls the pocket; Smith cuts the OLB to the ground to give Denard enough time to throw. He forms up and fires to Hemingway, who he did identify in a window past the sticks. Unfortunately, it's a couple yards too far inside. He could have hung it up for Hemingway to get, but not this time. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, special commendation Smith)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 4 min 2nd Q. M's next possession starts at the six with 1:31 left; they run the half out.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 39
They probably should have run this until ND stopped it. This is a virtual replay of the earlier zone reads: ND's linebackers are insanely aggressive and have already committed to the dive before the mesh point even happens while Koger peels off to block the OLB over the slot. There is no one assigned to Denard Robinson! Koger(+1) and Lewan(+1) do get blocks but this is just easy. Robinson(+2) for the read and the speed, Roundtree(+1) for good downfield blocking. RPS +2, though mostly because Diaco's kind of a twit.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Koger, Lewan, Roundtree RUN-:
M49 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 4
Thirty Borgeses agree. This time Teo is slightly more responsible but has still ceded the corner to Robinson; the difference on this one is the FS, who is ten yards deep at the snap and flows downhill on the read fake. If you're running play action out of this, what happens? Does Robinson throw into double coverage? No. This is our assertion. Right here. RPS -1.
RUN+: Huyge, Robinson, Koger RUN-:
O47 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson -6
Line sets up to pass block but doesn't actually do it at all. Molk(-2) gets beaten clean; Lewan(-1) and Omameh(-1) let Johnson into the backfield and don't try to, like, block him, until he's four yards upfield and right in Denard's path. I have no idea what they were trying to do here; it looks like they were maybe trying to go off tackle but then you kind of have to block the playside DE. RPS -2. ND gets an illegal substitution afterwards.
RUN-: Molk(2), Lewan, Omameh
O48 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel Pass Hitch Hemingway Inc
Four rushers and the fifth guy coming on a contain blitz. Barnum is driven way back in the pocket, which may contribute to an iffy throw. Throw is not on time and Hemingway is not particularly open but does have position on the DB to box out; throw is okay but a little low and Hemingway cannot dig it out. (CA, 2, protection ½, Barnum -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-17, 8 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 Base 4-4 Pass PA Deep Out Hemingway Inc
Zone read fake sucks up the linebackers and after the snap there are eight ND players within a yard of the LOS. Two of them eventually come through the line but it's too late; Hemingway has broken his route off and is wide open. Denard throws and hits him. Dropped. Throw could be a bit better but this is one you have to catch. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M29 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Delay Hopkins 3
Safeties are rolled up just inside the first down marker; Denard checks; ND safety backs off into a deep zone, then rolls right back to where he was. This is fairly well blocked but KLM does not get far enough upfield to open up a big hole. Johnson does on the backside and Omameh releases into the linebacker back there; a cutback is the play. Hopkins(-1) misses it.
RUN-: Hopkins
M32 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide tight 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Koger 11
Johnson gets out of his lane as he tries to rush past Molk, giving Denard a lane to step up into. As he does this Te'o sucks up, understandably; Denard rifles one to Koger for the first down. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2, Molk had this under control IIRC)
M43 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA Post Gallon Int
The nadir right here. Play action on first down fools no one except Fox, who sucks up on it and falls down trying to re-direct on the wheel, leaving McColgan open forever. It is amazing how irresponsible these ND LBs are. Denard doesn't see it, instead throwing a post to a double-covered Gallon. It's easily intercepted. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-17, 6 min 3rd Q. If Denard had looked for the FB this would have been a big +RPS, but he didn't.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass PA Drag Hemingway 77
Zone stretch fake into a rollout... should I not comment on Nix, the NT, getting reached and thrown to the ground by Barnum? No? Okay. Denard's looking, should dump it to Koger but doesn't, and then KLM is on him. He dodges the tackle, KLM latches onto him, and doom is en route. Denard throws a flat-footed pass 12 yards downfield that could not be better placed, and there aren't any safeties since Hemingway is free of Gary Gray. (DO+, 3, protection N/A.)
O6 1 G I-form 2 1 2 Base 4-4 Run Down G Shaw -3
Blitz off the edge gets a LB into the backfield before anyone can pull around. LB impacts puller three yards in backfield; slant under from below negates any cut inside. Barnum(-1) is the only player truly at fault. Shaw has to bounce and loses three yards. Nothing he could do there. RPS -2.
RUN-: Barnum
O9 2 G I-form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Pass Waggle (scramble) Robinson 8
Not even ND's insanely aggressive LBs bite on this because it is bloody obvious (RPS -1). As a result everyone is blanketed and Denard(+3) is chased from behind. He makes a miracle happen to get down to the one.
O1 3 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Dive Hopkins 1
Shaw as the I-back and he motions out. Hopkins will run the same dive M ran against WMU. ND is prepared for this and sends everyone at the dive, getting both linebackers to contact Hopkins as the pile forms at the 1. (RPS -1.) Hopkins(-2) fumbles; Denard picks it up and saves everyone a nervous fourth down.
RUN-: Hopkins(2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-24, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA sack -- -5
Man, I still think they should be running the read. Teo is less nuts now but I'll take my chances. Instead they go play action and Fox blitzes. Barnum(-2) doesn't read it and lets him through to double a DE; Smith(-1) does not cut him on the run fake. Fox sacks. (PR, 0, protection 0/3) RPS -1.
O45 2 15 I-Form Big Unbalanced 2 2 1 4-3 over Pass PA FB flat McColgan 15
I am in disbelief ND could be so dumb to let this work, but I think the unbalanced thing screwed them up. Still, Michigan's running for 2 YPC from under center and it's first and 15. ND's 55 picks up a hypothetical -3 by crashing inside and McColgan releases into epic space. Denard dumps it off and it's a first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2). This was easy. Not much tonight has been easy.
O30 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 13
Pretty much the same story except now Teo is more responsible. He is not plunging right into the line. He stops and peels outside when Denard keeps but Lewan(+2) got an excellent block on KLM, forcing him down the line and causing Teo to stumble; Smith(+1) is now a lead blocker an finishes the job. Denard(+1) takes off for a first down.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith, Robinson RUN-:
O17 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Run Down G Smith 3
Barnum(+1) cuts Nix out of the play as Molk, Omameh, and Huyge pull around Koger. ND shifted late to put the playside DE in a two point stance and he gets immediately upfield, forcing a cutback and making Molk useless. Because of the Nix cut Smith does have a cutback. Johnson ends up chucking Koger(-1) away after defeating his block to both sides. RPS -1.
O14 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass Back shoulder fade Gallon 14
Extra guy in the box, so one on one on the outside, Gallon vs Gray. So... like... what the hell do I do with this? Given Denard's accuracy earlier this may be a terrible read and a mistake. But it works. Is this brilliant? Lucky? Insane? I don't know. Since this is a results based charting service we will give the benefit of the doubt, and Gray did seem to have tough job given the timing and placement of the throw. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-24, 10 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA Deep hitch Roundtree 15 (pen -5)
Four man rush with a contain guy. Robinson sets up and finds Roundtree with a dart between two zone defenders for a big chunk. Quality throw. (DO, 3, protection 2/2) Michigan picks up a hold on Huyge that is exceptionally weak. Not relevant to the play at all and not much of a hold, either.
M4 1 15 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 6
Okay, ND has adjusted. Calabrese shoots the backside gap and tackles Smith. Robinson's read this and pulled; Teo is scraping over and waiting. Lewan(+2) pancakes Johnson, giving Robinson a cutback lane. Cavalry arrives. (RPS -1)
RUN+: Lewan(2), Robinson RUN-:
M10 2 9 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA Post Hemingway 45 + 15 pen
I was willing to give Denard the benefit of the doubt on the previous one but this is a throw into double coverage when he's got a huge lane in front of him that he can run up into for positively ages. It's underthrown and Hemingway high-points the ball but I can't condone chucking it up into double coverage. (BR, 2, protection 2/2) ND gets a terrible roughing the passer penalty after the play (refs +1)
O30 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass Fade Gallon Int
A terrible throw to a blanketed WR. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-24, 4 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power off tackle Robinson 8
Omameh(-1) does not release downfield, instead doubling the NT that Molk has dealt with. God, Nix is such a tub. Huyge(+1) and Koger(+1) destroy Johnson; Smith and Barnum kick out guys who are maintaining outside leverage, forcing the play back to Teo. Denard(+2) WOOPs him and the safety who had come down, with help from Hemingway. A corner comes in to finish him.
RUN+: Koger, Huyge, Robinson(2) RUN-: Omameh
50 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Post Hemingway Inc
Wide open post since ND again has a single high safety who is ten yards deep at the LOS. Hemingway wide open for 30; Denard misses him. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
50 3 2 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB power off tackle Robinson 2
Molk(+1) chucks Nix to the ground again. Omameh(-2) again delays instead of getting out on Teo; Koger(+1) and Huyge(+1) flatten Johnson. Teo and Robinson meet at the first down line. I think this spot is accurate.
RUN+: Molk, Koger, Huyge RUN-: Omameh
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Corner Grady 27
Rush four this time with man coverage and a single high safety. Grady breaks a corner route off and gets open against a safety—mismatch. Denard hits him in stride, allowing Grady to rip off some YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O21 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Throwback screen Smith 21
The dagger for these linebackers. No one is keying Smith and six ND players are hammering after Robinson as the entire left side of the line fans out to block for him. Robinson flips the ball to Smith and he turns upfield to see... well, he should see nothing but green except Lewan(-2) totally whiffed on the OLB. Smith(+2) cuts upfield past him, then heads back outside as Roundtree(+1) blasts the last corner infield. Touchdown. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-24, 1:15 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Deep hitch Gallon Inc
Omameh(-2) gets beaten and is lucky that he doesn't get called for a hold; he shoves the OL past Robinson and Robinson steps up. He finds Gallon open for 20 yards and misses him (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Omameh)
M20 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Wheel Gallon 64
Better protection this time; ND does loop a guy around to flush Robinson up. As he's moving he finds Gallon open again, this time deeper, and nails him in stride about 35 yards downfield. Gallon rips off another 30 on the ground before being angled OOB. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O16 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Nickel Pass Fade Roundtree 16
This is only an okay throw; if Gary can get his head around he's got a play on the ball. But he's Gary Gray. He's all interfering and such, not looking back, and Roundtree makes the catch anyway. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-31, EOG

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Yeeee.

Your enthusiasm is insufficient. I sentence you to death.

Look, man… it's just that… thanks to poker I have a model of the world in my head that holds two things as very different things: what happened and the likelihood of it happening. This remains a results-based charting service but that doesn't mean the charts are the be-all and end-all. They've always been useful guides but sometimes I disagree with my own numbers, for one. For two, results-based charting has always been an offshoot of the humility that comes from being amateur trying to figure out a very complicated thing. I'm not sure "chuck it up and hope" is that complicated.

As you'll note above, I did provide some credit to Denard/the offense for chucking it up. The diverse and sundry skyward heaves:

  1. Hemingway 43-yard touchdown: dead on
  2. Roundtree fly route: inaccurate
  3. Rollout post to Hemingway: inaccurate
  4. Double-covered Gallon INT: bad read XTREME
  5. Back shoulder fade for Gallon TD: dead on
  6. Hemingway 45 yard double covered arm punt: bad read
  7. Single-covered Gallon INT: bad read XTREME combos with inaccurate
  8. Roundtree touchdown: catchable

2 DO, 1 CA, two IN, three BR, two of the X variety. I don't know if that's sustainable. For whatever reason, Denard's accuracy is in the crapper this year, so having him heave it to covered WRs is a 50-50 proposition. I mean, what happens when the guy defending them isn't "atrocious"?

In a lot of scouting circles, Notre Dame CB Gary Gray was considered a draftable prospect entering the year with a possible mid-round grade according to some. However, when watching him on tape this summer I didn’t really like what I saw then and I certainly didn’t like what I saw Saturday night vs. Michigan as Gray was victimized time after time vertically down the field. And it wasn’t’ the fact he struggled to keep pace, as he is a solid straight-line athlete. It was his ability to look, lean and find the football that was downright atrocious. And it doesn’t matter how good a defensive back’s coverage skills are, if he can’t find the football he’s never going to make plays, which is my biggest fear concerning Gray as he looks nothing more than an “athlete” free agent at this stage.

What would the results-based charting look like if we tried that against someone average instead of atrocious?

So why is it the offense's fault instead of Denard's?

The possibilities as I see them:

  • The accuracy issues are a short-term fluke. Denard's only had a game's worth of opportunities to throw so far. People have bad games.
  • Last year Denard was restricted to a set of easy, short routes that he could hit and is now being asked to do other things. IE: last year was a mirage because he just threw hitches.
  • Denard is worse now for whatever reason. IE: he is legitimately regressing.

Hoping for the fluke explanation, but there seems to be some merit to Door B. He's a breakdown of passes in last year's Notre Dame game:

  • Hitch: 9
  • Flat, seam, bubble: 6 (one waggle FB flat!)
  • Deep curl, flare: 3
  • Tunnel screen: 2
  • Post, corner, fly: 1
  • Throwaway: 1
  • Run around like Tate: 2

This is a dedicated short passing game that ran a ton of curl/flat. Denard completes 60% for 1 TD and no INTs, averaging 6.1 YPA. This year we've got the eight downfield chucks, two throws behind the line (8% of attempts) instead of 11 (over 28%), and a total lack of free touchdowns in the seam or hitches to stationary targets that worked well last year when Roundtree wasn't dropping them.

This is kind of sexy in the long term since it indicates that Borges is partial to bombing it downfield; in the short term it leads to things like nasty—

I don't want to see your chart.

Charts anyway. I've left common opponents from last year in, because it will be interesting to compare.

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%

Hello massively bipolar day and worst DSR since we crammed his entire freshman year together to get a single game. The number of throws were way down; the number of tosses into coverage and badly missed balls were way up. Why? Too early to tell.

Adding to Denard's tough day were a few bad decisions on the ground. On the first drive he could have cut it up on second and three for near first-down yardage; instead he lost three. It took him a bit to recognize that ND's linebackers had lost their minds, so he handed off for nothing gains a couple times on the zone read. He did manage a bunch of yards on the ground by being Denard, though, most importantly the Dance of Waggle Chicken Salad:

Mmmm waggle chicken salad.

As the season develops we'll get a better idea about whether this is momentary jitters, an adjustment to a new offense, or a straight-up limitation that needs to be gameplanned around. Survey says ask again later.

But his receivers sucked.

No. There was one drop and a couple of maybes.

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway 2 - 2/3 1/2 2 - 3/4 1/2
Roundtree - 0/1 1/1 1/1 - 1/2 1/1 2/2
Odoms - - - - - - - -
Grady 1 - 0/1 1/1 2 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon -

-

- 2/2 - - - 4/4
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - - - - 0/1 1/1 -
Jackson - - - - - - - -
                 
Koger - - 1/1 - 1 1/1 1/1 1/1
Moore - - - - 2 - - -
                 
Toussaint - - - - - - - -
Shaw - - - - - - - -
Smith - - - 2/2 - - - 2/2
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
McColgan 1 - - 1/1 1 - - 1/1

That's basically fine, better when you consider Gallon and Hemingway bailing Robinson out on jump balls. The receivers were a net positive.

The OL:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 7 3 4 A couple impressive pancakes.
Barnum 2 2 0 Down block, pull around, kick out, etc.
Molk 3 2 1 JAG in power scheme
Omameh 0 6 -6 Inexplicably doubling DTs on outside power instead of getting to Teo on second level.
Huyge 3 - 3 Comboed with Koger effectively.
Schofield - - - DNP
Mealer - - - DNP
Moore - - - Still pretty anonymous in limited PT
Koger 6 1 5 Gave team lot of room outside tackles.
TOTAL 18 13 5 Couldn't run for crap unless ZR was pulling LBs out of position
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 15 4 11 The only thing M had going.
Gardner - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Shaw - - - Hardly got a carry.
Smith 3 - 3 Screen weaving a game-changer.
Hopkins - 3 -3 Welcome back to the doghouse
Cox - - - DNP
McColgan - - - One slamming block.
TOTAL 18 7 11 Just Denard again.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum - - - --
Odoms - - - --
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree 3 - 3 Very helpful on screen, couple of Denard runs.
Grady - - - --
Gallon - - - --
Hemingway - - - --
TOTAL 3 - 3 Eh.
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 44 6 88% Team 1, Barnum 3, Smith 1, Omameh 2

FWIW, I have the RPS as 10 – 14 = –4. Not quite enough exploitation of those LBs.

Getting a little concerned over here that the offensive line is being asked to do something it's not very good at even when there seems to  be an obvious reason to go back to the old well: a 340-pound nose tackle who's about as mobile as Woody Hayes. Sean Cwynar didn't play at all so this Nix battleship came in and fell over every time he was asked to move down the line. This seems like the perfect opportunity to zone stretch some dudes—and when they used stretch play action the backside G was usually throwing him on the ground—but we didn't get a single one all day. Thus Molk coming out of a game with a +1.

Misopogon already calculated this but it's something I was going to do anyway: runs from under center averaged 2.3 yards. Runs from the shotgun averaged 7.5. Small sample sizes apply; they are less small this time around.

What is your problem with the offense, buddy?

Mostly I miss the tender caresses of Rich Rodriguez, the moonlit walks we'd used to take as he described his decision to hire Greg Robinson's hair and have it run a 3-3-5 Greg Robinson's hair had never heard of, or his decision to recruit one OL in that one recruiting class, that a center, and lose 30% of his players a year in. I have no good reasons for thinking this and can be safely dismissed because I don't know what I'm talking about.

For my mother, the only person who can muster up enough love to keep reading this far: so the thing is, here's a screenshot. It's from the first play of what would eventually be Michigan's first go-ahead touchdown drive.

qb-draw-oh-noes_thumb[4]

Denard's taken about two steps towards the line of scrimmage and all eleven Notre Dame players are within eight yards of the LOS. They are in man with no reasonable safety help. If Denard was to pull up and look for a receiver he'd have Odoms breaking open on a corner or post from the slot. This kind of thing didn't happen when Michigan went under center. Notre Dame did blow some stuff because their linebackers are stupidly aggressive; they were not forced to put every player they had level with the umpire.

Here's the next play, which is just a straight drop-back pass. This is a full two seconds after the snap:

deep-safety_thumb

You see that guy at the edge of the screen ten yards deep? That's the free safety. The deep middle is now ten yards. There are 100 seconds left! The free safety is ten yards off the LOS and Notre Dame is rushing three! This is the planet of Denard's legs!

Result:

open-dude_thumb

A receiver wide open for 30 yards who Denard misses. This is easy. Two plays later ND will show a straight-up 3-4 on first and ten with one high safety and man coverage; Grady will break a corner route against man and Denard will hit him for major yards.

Michigan did not get much that was easy based on the structure of the offense. Te'o and Fox/Calabrese running headlong at anything that moved got them open FB wheels, those zone reads, and the Smith throwback screen, and then everything else was chuck and pray. It worked; I have doubts it is a tenable solution long-term.

This is not easy

Not easy

Not easy

not-easy

The deep middle is 25 yards downfield on first and ten from under center. Yeah, all of Michigan's touchdowns came from under center. But they weren't, like, open except insofar as anyone covered by Gary Gray is open, nor was there anything about the structure of those plays that required playing from the I-Form—Michigan scored on a throwback screen to Martell Webb last year.

If you want to rely on Denard being able to diagnose and consistently throw back-shoulder fades against good, sometimes double, coverage, um… okay. I'd rather have him throw at the blitheringly wide open dudes. I think that the shotgun + Denard makes guys blitheringly wide open This is no doubt because I make my wife wear a Rich Rodriguez mask at night and not because I spent last year copiously documenting it.

Do you have an annoying disclaimer for us?

Yes. I spent large chunks of the offseason praising the coordinators and I'm not throwing that out the window after two games. There are a lot of things that concern me but these are not GERGs. I'm guessing we'll see things get figured out. God, this is tedious isn't it? Should I bother explaining things to the kind of people who see this as an attack on the coaches? Sure, I don't want Michigan to win anymore because Rodriguez is gone. That makes sense given the last six years of content here. Nevermind.

But Notre Dame's defense is really good!

I'm skeptical of that argument. ND finished 50th last year in standard yardage, 25th in FEI* and Bob Diaco is a weird guy. They coach their linebackers to be super aggressive, which is great when it works and stupid when it doesn't, like when a simple zone read with hardly a tweak opens up for big gashing runs. I suspect they might be vulnerable to misdirection all year.

*[If this sounds good in the context of 120 teams, it's in the Illinois-Iowa-UNC area, so… good, not great.]

So Bob Diaco is…?

I think not very good. His linebackers are incredibly irresponsible. You know about the two McColgan openings caused by linebackers not covering him and the zone reads where Teo flew upfield:

What you may not have noticed was that on two other zone reads where Denard handed off they did the exact same thing. This was the fifth(!) basic zone read where they had no one for Denard Robinson. Maybe they wanted the OLB to be the contain guy but dude was getting blocked. They did manage to adjust on the sixth one, though. Good job, Diaco!

This is how they did it:

By getting the free safety to tackle him four yards downfield. Which goes back to the earlier point, I think.

Heroes?

Denard. Also Hemingway, Gallon, and especially Gary Gray.

Goats?

Denard.

What does it mean for Eastern Michigan and beyond?

I've already given you my take above. They'll work on their stuff and try to get Denard more accurate and their tailbacks gaining more than two yards a carry out of the I, but when push comes to shove I don't think they really have a choice. We'll see.

Comments

Picture Pages: Jake Ryan Fights The Power, Again

Picture Pages: Jake Ryan Fights The Power, Again Comment Count

Brian September 14th, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Last week we highlighted a couple of power plays on which Jake Ryan Brennen Beyer was out of position to disastrous effect. He screwed up the second one in a totally different way than the first one, though, so at least he's trying something new, and while Michigan got scorched by Cierre Wood I haven't run across too much that's his fault this week. [Ed: uh… because he didn't play. I have a nasty cold that is damaging my brain; bear with me. This is still a good example of where the guy on the end needs to be when power gets run at him.]

I hadn't run across a power run at him, either, until early in the fourth quarter. I wonder how he's doing?

Here's the setup. ND is in its two-TE set; Michigan undershifts their line and has Ryan over their third-stringer in the slot—by this point Mike Ragone is out with an ACL tear:

power-off-tackle-1

ND motions the TE in to act as an H-back so Ryan slides down to the more traditional SLB spot.

[SIDE NOTE: I really like what ND does with their TEs. This was a consistent theme: spread it wide and motion the TE in as an H-back. Provides a tough decision for a defense when you've got TEs as athletic as ND does. He's way more of a threat as a receiver than a generic fullback.]

Eifert's going to block Ryan. Presnap:

power-off-tackle-2

An instant post-snap:

power-off-tackle-3

Check that out compared to Ryan's Beyer's earlier adventures against power:

counter-not-so-much-3second-counter-3power-off-tackle-3

LEFT: Three yards upfield against WMU. His porridge is too hot.
CENTER: At the LOS having lost outside leverage against WMU. His porridge is too cold.
RIGHT: One yard upfield w/ outside leverage against ND. His porridge is just right.

He was blitzing in the first still, granted, but I wonder what his angle would be if sent on a blitz this time around.

By the time the tailback gets the handoff he's set up in a good spot. He can release outside on a bounce and string it out for the secondary. He has restricted the available space between himself and Van Bergen:

power-off-tackle-4

Unfortunately for Michigan, they've still got problems. Look at Hawthorne(#7) and the ND center currently releasing from Van Bergen. Demens will take the pulling G, leaving Hawthorne as the free hitter…

power-off-tackle-5

…unless he doesn't read the play fast enough, runs upfield, and gets blocked by the center.

power-off-tackle-6

Flarb.

power-off-tackle-7

Closer, though.

Video

Object Lessons

By positioning himself correctly Ryan takes the bounce away and makes the rest of the defense's job easier. The porridge just right shot means the RB has to start running laterally, even bouncing upfield, if he's going to get outside the tackle. His positioning maybe a yard inside his starting position restricts the available space on the interior, making it easier for the linebackers and three-tech to shut down the hole. This is "squeezing" power.

This is a lot closer to successfully defending the power with a base defense. On the very next play Notre Dame will line up on third and two to run this again and get stuffed thanks to a run blitz that gets Van Bergen penetration and allows Hawthorne to slice through the backside of the line when the guard over him pulls:

That's an RPS play. Michigan needs to get better at defending things without RPS getting involved, because it doesn't always get involved in a good way. Here it's second and ten and Michigan gives up a chunk, but it's not nearly as open as Western's counter power schemes were.

On second down, all Hawthorne has to do is step playside of the ND center and fill that little crease and this play is a minimal gain; Michigan also might have gotten a bit better play from Van Bergen and gotten that crease closed off without help from the linebackers. It's a lot easier to diagnose what went wrong here because the answer isn't "everything."

Given what happened the rest of the game it's obvious they've got a long way to go. You can see the beginnings of improvement.

Jake Ryan is getting better. He does this again on the next play and seems in position to at least string the run out if Wood gets to bounce, which he doesn't because Hawthorne makes the play before he has to.

I've got him with a big minus on a 38-yard counter on which he is crushed inside, but on the next play—the Wood fumble—he's in even better position on an inside zone that goes nowhere. Michigan's defense obviously has a lot of problems but he wasn't the major issue on the line. Heininger, sorry to say, was.

Hawthorne can play. Needs work, but that second play is a thing of beauty. I wonder if that run blitz is specifically designed to hit that gap caused by a pulling OL or if was just a fortuitous occurrence; either way that's beautifully timed and executed. Two plays earlier he got a PBU on Eifert with beautiful coverage. He's ascended to the top of the depth chart; hopefully he secures that over the next couple weeks. That would be an Ezeh to Demens upgrade at the sorest spot on the D if it pans out.

Comments

Michigan Museday is Uncomfortable Under Center

Michigan Museday is Uncomfortable Under Center Comment Count

Seth September 14th, 2011 at 1:30 AM

e53581dd780c60213df0cc3caf9f71ce-getty-124546817e02f4bf5c06a493bd9b9aedef9642487-getty-124546818109cc6914b2e96cff14e6ccb8988f751-getty-124579644

Yahoo gallery. HT: hart20.

Around suppertime Monday my synapses kicked in again, and I could think about anything from that game other that GURGLE GURGLE, BAWWHHHH, and 'WHHAAAAT?'. The first thing that came back was the 77-yard pass to Hemingway while wearing Kapron Lewis-Moore as an ankle bracelet. Then the rest of the memories returned, and I remembered I was getting aggravated earlier about how ridiculous it was to be using Denard Robinson like John Navarre. Chris Brown's Twitter feed wasn't helping:

smartigriese

…and neither was watching Henne and Brady demolish each others' defenses from under center on Monday. Of course Denard is Denard and makes magical unicorn rainbows, so hell why not have the best rushing QB in history sit in the pocket then lob an end-zone fade to a 5'9 receiver? I'm not being totally sarcastic: the guy may be 6'0 but he can also stand Denardcantbestoppedoutside the pocket with a 300-pound defender hanging on his legs like your sister's kids after dessert, then chuck a perfect zinger from his back shoulder to a receiver behind the coverage. By this point any other QB would be eating turf; Ben Roethlisberger would be eating turf.

Magical Denard is magical and is actually capable of throwing perfect spirals with a rusher in his face from a 7-step drop if you ask him to, and he is getting better at doing so. He's obviously still learning the technique—Hoke in the Monday presser:

He was the first one to come off the field after one [bad play] and say, ‘My footwork was bad.’ So that’s good to see.

I think we can safely extrapolate this was after the first interception. To actually say the I-form is responsible for any more than that (and that flimsy) we're gonna need to dig a bit deeper. And since memory of formation beyond that and the "Shades of Aaron Shea" fullback pass betrays, let's just look at all the plays run under center vs Notre Dame (mega thanks to Boyz n da Pahokee, who gets a long overdue points bump for his Every Snap Videos):

"DRV" = which play in that drive, so 3 is 3rd play, etc.

Qtr DRV Ball Dwn Dst Play Player Yds Note
1 1 M20 1st 10 SACK Robinson, D. 0  
1 3 M33 1st 10 RUSH Hopkins, S. 2 MANBALL 1
1 3 M31 2nd 10 PASS INCOMPLETE 0  
2 1 N45 1st 10 RUSH Hopkins, S. 2 MANBALL 2
2 2 N43 2nd 8 PASS Hemingway, J 43 TOUCHDOWN
3 2 M29 2nd 10 RUSH Hopkins, S. 3 MANBALL 3
3 4 M43 1st 10 PASS INTERCEPTION 0 Footwork was bad.
3 2 N6 1st G RUSH Shaw, M. -2  
3 3 N8 2nd G RUSH Robinson, D. 7  
4 4 N1 3rd G RUSH Hopkins, S. 0 TOUCHDOWN
4 2 N45 2nd 15 PASS McColgan, J 15 1st Down
4 5 N14 2nd 7 PASS Gallon, J. 14 TOUCHDOWN
4 1 M13 1st 10 PENALTY PENALTY -4  
4 3 N26 1st 10 PASS INTERCEPTION 0 Why? Why did you throw this?
4 5 N21 1st 10 PASS Smith, V. 21 TOUCHDOWN
4 3 N15 1st 10 PASS Roundtree, R 16 TOUCHDOWN

That's 8 plays where bad things happened (<4 yards to turnover) from under center, and 7 where good things happened (counting Hopkins getting stuffed and fumbling as a "good thing"), and accounts for about 35% of the offensive plays yet 100% of Michigan's scoring plays on the day (WHHAAAAAAT?). Those six in microcosm:

  1. Jump ball to Hemingway in single coverage. Is short (that's good) and Hemingway makes a play then dives for the pylon. (GOOD)
  2. Denard rolls out, finds nobody, magically picks his way through a forest of ND defenders to get to the 1. (LUCKY…that we have Denard)
  3. Goal Line. Hopkins runs straight into leaping linebackers, fumbles, Denard picks it up and accelerates into the end zone.* (LUCKY)
  4. Perfectly executed Incredibly Surprising Waggle that finds McColgan open on a wheel, and brings back memories of Aaron Shea. Then again if Carr did this on 2nd and 15… (GOOD)
  5. Drops back, has to loft ball over collapsing defenders, Gallon goes up to get it, and Gary Gray becomes the Stevie Brown(-3) of Notre Dame. (LUCKY)
  6. Perfectly executed fake-bootleg screen. Smith makes this happen by out-accelerating a tackle then slipping through a few more before 'Tree can get the last block. Note: this was out of ACE Twins. (LUCKY EDIT: GOOD--I hear you board. This is the kind of under-center play that plays to these guys' strengths)
  7. Smith motions out of the TB spot to split end and…Ah hell, you deserve to relive it. (Ufer style)
Thank you Fielding Yost! Thank you Fielding Yost for that one!

Let me know when your synapses are functioning again. Actually, don't. Watch that a few more times.

When you've woken up and convinced yourself all over again that this is indeed real life and the score will be like that forever, I see 15 plays run under center of which eight did nothing and at least four or five only did something only because a fumble bounced right to Denard or Gary Gray can't cover. The touchdowns are red herrings. Wonderful, magical, sapphire herrings.

Not counting goal line, kneel downs, 3rd and long/short, and times when we needed to get 80 yards in 30 seconds or whatnot (i.e. the last two drives), Michigan ran 61.76% of its plays out of the shotgun. So this is still a 60% spread offense. When you break out the yardage on the remaining plays, it's easy to see why:

Formation PASS YPA RUSH YPA TOTAL YPA
I-Form 12.00 2.33 7.64
Shotgun 14.63 7.46 10.19
Total 13.50 6.06 9.31

(the one sack was from the shotgun, and counted as passing yards)

It's early in the season and Denard is still learning how to run this offense and by "this offense" I mean like 40% of the offense, with the rest being the stuff mostly similar to what he did last year. It does seem his recurring accuracy problems are related re-learning dropback QB footwork but except for when he says so directly it's hard to see how that affects the efficacy of formations.a8eb27e0bb451b0bb4c51a4ebc2ef966-getty-124586767

The big thing is the rushing! Small sample and all but against our first real competition (and ND is a good rush defense) Michigan put up better-than-Rich-Rod numbers out of the gun and was broken-Hart-vs.-mid-aughts OSU out of the I. The staggering difference in rushing yardage out of the I versus shotgun may be as simple as Denard's rushing ability versus that of the RBs: had Hopkins found the cutback lanes in his two rushes under center perhaps that I-Form rush YPA is up around a Lloydball-ian 3.5. That's still a huge difference. Denard in the gun means Denard as a rushing threat. Notre Dame mostly chose to play the rushing threat and force him to pass (and this worked pretty well), and yet he still got 7.46 YPA because one guy in the hole is never enough.

Two games into a new staff, got the W, very limited sample, receivers are the receivers, his legs are his legs, not likely to face a better MLB than Te'o, caveat caveat caveat caveat, but at this point (caveat caveat) I don't think lining up under center is working.

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

* It was watching this play that I realized I had seen enough of Denard running that I can recognize his unique style…like you know how you could pick out a Mike Hart moving silhouette with no other clues? I think I could do that with Denard now.

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Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-13-11: Coordinators

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-13-11: Coordinators Comment Count

Heiko September 13th, 2011 at 10:04 PM

News bullets and other important items:

  • Hawthorne and Campbell did well enough to get more playing time.
  • Woolfolk played really well for a guy with one arm. Has a sweet cut on his nose, but his ankles are fine.
  • Borges calls his offense a westcoast/spread hybrid (not transcribed)
  • Wants less shotgun to feature tailbacks more. “The best teams don’t depend on one player, yet they have that one player that can win for them. But when push comes to shove, I want the ball in his hands.”

Greg Mattison

from file

Opening remarks: “I guess 2-0 is a good way to start. I think we have to still play much, much better on defense. We’ve got to correct some of the mistakes that are allowing some yardage. The one thing I wasn’t happy with was one of the bigger plays that broke on the run, that was the first time all year we didn’t pursue like we had to on the back end. That was something we talked about that they’ve been doing a good job on so far. We just have to make sure we crowd that football and make that ball be inside, but it was a great win for the program.”

Did you see good enough play from Hawthorne to give him more playing time? “Yeah, oh yeah. He showed some things in the spring. He showed some things in the fall. And then he sprained that ankle. One thing I’ve been impressed with him was even when the ankle was not good earlier, he came out and practiced hard, and limped and tried to do everything he could. He shows you he’s a tough kid. I was happy for some of the things he did, and he really helped us.”

Are you disappointed in the defensive line, and are you concerned about having to blitz so much? "I don’t know if you’d say I’m disappointed. We’ll always blitz, and we’ll always pressure. You’d like to make sure we can get pressure from a four-man rush on a more regular basis. To be able to do both, then you really have it, and that’s something we’ll address, and that’s something we’ll work on right now.”

Did creating turnovers help solidify the defense during the game? “No question, no question. Our ability to get those turnovers -- this was a really good offense. Make no mistake about it. This was a very, very good offense that we played against. There’s a great deal of experience on the offensive line. We won’t face a wide receiver than Floyd. The tight end, in my opinion, is a big time football player. Their offensive line is all older. That did help us a great deal to be able to [get turnovers], but its’a mindset that we’ve been able to build, that no matter if teams are moving the football on you, as long as you have a place to stand and they’re not in the endzone, something good can happen. The other thing, when you’re getting turnovers -- I think when you get turnovers it means they’re around the football. We’ve all seen times before where the ball’s lying on the ground and there’s nobody there to get it. We’ve got to keep doing that. That’s something we’ve got to keep doing until we get better at our fundamentals and get more seasoned.

Was Notre Dame’s last touchdown due to a breakdown in communication? “No it wasn’t. We didn’t execute it exactly like we wanted to. I’ll be dead honest with you, there’s sometimes calls a guy makes that afterwards you say, God I wish I hadn’t made that call. That was the same call we got the interception on earlier in the game. It looks exactly like the blitz, and we had blitzed right before that, and they knew we were going to blitz the closer they got down there, so I just thought to myself, you know what, maybe we can do the same thing. Show that blitz and come out of there. We didn’t execute it as well as we did the first time, and they hit it. I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not always 100%, and if it was all over again I probably wouldn’t have called that.”

Is disguising coverage more important in college than in pros? “The thing about disguising is you’ve got to be pretty experienced. A lot of times out there you’re just saying, ‘Guys, make sure you’re in the right place.’ Disguising is the next phase. The first thing we have to make sure is we don’t bust on coverage and make sure we’re in position to make the plays we can make. As they get more seasoned and as they get better, then you can say, ‘Okay, now you got that down, now let’s make it look like this and go to this.’ But we haven’t been able to disguise as much as you’d like to, and we’ll get there.”

How many of your linebackers are you comfortable with? I’m comfortable with anybody on that football field. Anybody that practices and goes through what they go through … Anybody on the field for Michigan I feel comfortable with, because that means they’re the best. We just have to keep getting them healthy, trying to make sure they’re 100%, making sure they’re improving. You’ve got a bunch of linebackers there that haven’t played a lot of football. You get thrown in a ballgame like that, for them to make some of the plays they made, I’m proud of them. There’s always mistakes. The one thing I’ve said all along that I’m so proud of this defnsee about is they come in everyday after the game’s over trying to correct those mistakes. I hope there’s someday where we don’t have to correct those mistakes but that’s what we’re working on right now.

Longer runs when Mike Martin dropped into coverage. How do you protect the middle of field? “The same blitzes that hit the quarterback from western -- [Notre Dame] obviously saw that and didn’t want that pressure to come at them, so what they did was check to a run whenever they saw that look. We have defenses that look exactly the same that are run defenses, and it’s the same thing. I called the pressure thinking it was pass, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I should have called the pressure for the run because maybe they’re going to do that, and sure enough they did do it. And the next one they ran it on third-and-seven. If a team’s going to run it on third-and-seven, you aren’t ever going to pressure if you’re worried about it. And some of the overloads on both sides -- they aren’t great run defenses.”

What do you see from Martin that allows you to drop him into coverage? “He’s a very good athlete, and he’s a very intelligent football player. And that’s what it takes. A bigger guy like that, showing that he’s a defensive lineman and then dropping out, can cause problems. You can only do that when a guy’s enough of an athlete to do it. I don’t want to do it too much because he’s a great run player, and all of a sudden he’s dropping out, and they’re running the football at you, it’s not very smart.”

What did you see from Will Campbell? “I thought that when he went in, he gave us a spark. I thought he played with a lot of passion, and that’s a big body that can move. Again, everybody buys in and everybody steps up the way we want it at different times and at different levels. And he’s one that when he was out there, he said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do it the way they want it done.’ I do believe he’ll probably get more playing time. We’re rotating anyhow, but I do think he’s earned it by what he showed right there. The biggest thing the guys have to do is earn it at practice. The game is the reward for how you practice, so they’ve got to continue to practice hard and go out there, and that’ll be their reward.”

Does a healthy cam Gordon allow you to do some different things? “He was a safety, and a very good athlete, but all those factors -- most of [the linebackers] are pretty good athletes and can cover. I don’t think we ever think, ‘well Cam’s not in there, we can’t run this defense.’ ”

What have you seen from Craig Roh the last two games? “Craig played much better. Craig played much better in this game than he did the first game. I think Craig’s another guy that all of a sudden he sees that the bar is higher than maybe he expected it to be. He’s bought in, and he’s going to be an outstanding football player. I’ve got all the confidence in the world. And just to see the way he’s practicing since that first game and then played better in this game, I look forward to him playing much better in this game.”

In the past two games, the other team has moved the ball on you easily at the beginning, but then you seemed to figure them out. Can you explain that? “Maybe I need to do a better job with the pep talk. I looked at that, and I don’t know if it’s us adjusting. I think every game you have to adjust. That’s part of coaching, and that’s part of the players really understanding our whole package. That’s why I always talk about bullets. If something isn’t working, then you’ve got to have something else to go to. We were fortunate to call some other defenses that the kids executed very well, and got some big plays off of them. I don’t know if that’s adjustments, that’s maybe just the way defense is, if you have enough in there, don’t stay out there and let yourself to continue to not do well. Change it up, and do something until you find that mix, and luckily our players kept playing. A real credit to them. They believed all the way, and they played all the way. That’s why we’re going to be good. That’s why our defense is going to be a Michigan defense. We’re not there yet, by any means, but as long as those players keep doing that, then we’re going to be fine.”

How many kind of defenses do you run? “We’ll always put in different things each week. We’re never going into the game with the same game plan, and usually it means pressures. I don’t think you can say, this is our package in the spring, and it’s the same thing you run throughout the whole year, so we will always tweak things, we’ll always add some things, we’ll take something out. We have a number that I kind of look up on the board, and I say this is the number of defense we have to have in this game, and no more because you can’t get enough practice time on them. I look at how many times I can call a defense in a practice to decide whether I can call it in a game, because you don’t want to put a defense out that they aren’t prepared with.”

Has that number changed every week? It’s usually a set number. It all goes by what they can handle, but I don’t know what you’d say the number is, but I know when I look at that board, if I see too many defenses on that ready list, I’ll be taking them down by tonight or tomorrow, saying, ‘No no, we can’t, this is too much.’ I’d like to do it, we’d all like to do it, but it isn’t going to get called. Or if you do call it, you’re hoping it’s run right, and that’s not fair to the kids.”

Are you hesitant to play Troy Woolfolk because of his cast? “No, no. In fact, after watching the film, Troy Woolfolk played unbelievable for a guy with one hand. He made one tackle with one hand that might have broke. I was proud of him. He’s a Michigan man. He came up to me before the game, and said, ‘Coach, you can count on me, I’ll go. I think there’s a lot of programs where people -- seniors and everything -- might have said, ‘Oh, I can’t go.’ Not him. I’m proud of him for doing that.”

(Borges after the jump. ball.)

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Unverified Voracity Kills Its Fish

Unverified Voracity Kills Its Fish Comment Count

Brian September 13th, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Derp. The Shredder grabbed a great shot of Tommy Rees's "oh shiiiiii—" moment in the fourth quarter on Saturday:

IMG_1220[1]

That's not supposed to be there.

Let's play the 'Freude. ND features above the fold in TWIS for the second straight week. If you clicked through on twitter you've already seen this but you probably want to see it again:

I cried like an asshole.......
by guilfordnd (2011-09-11 00:32:33)


......for `15 minutes in the bathroom. and i[''m still drunk. I wanted to be as positive as I could the entire game until the pass. I crumpled up after that and cried and cried like I lost a good friend or some s--- after that pass. Tonight I let the small bluegill and two other panfish that were in my aquirium into the creek down the street. I figured I can't have anymore pussies in my man cave. I will catch some fish that will be a f---ing asshole ( like a bass) where every time I feed it it will dominate, and then s--- out the remains. call me wierd but I got nothing left. I don't know what else to do. I look forward to the fall but the gets harder and harder each year.

But wait, there's more: just after I posted it I hit up my Big Ten feeds and came across We Never Graduate's running diary of the game. The choicest bit:

10:32 TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWNNNNNN IIIIRRRRRRIIIIISSSSSHHHHHH! TJ JONES ON THE CROSSING PATTERN! THE IRISH HAVE TAKEN COMPLETE CONTROL OF THIS GAME. Let’s see if ‘Nard Dog can pass them back.

Wait, let me think about that…HAHAHAHAHAHA.

The whole glorious brain-melting thing is worth your time.

Kirk Spartans, meet Branden Georgia. MSU's marketing violence uniforms have been revealed and yes they're all like LOL USF. It's hard to get exercised about this kind of thing at MSU, which changes its uniforms every few years, but I hope this is just a model thing and not a reprise of the Georgia uniforms:

AZOWvUZCQAIOfXB[1]

I doubt it, though. That nameplate is very dark. Kirk Spartans is going to throw to BJ Spartans unless Dan Spartans can't block, and Edwin Spartans is probably going to run for a 60-yard touchdown.

Look, Nike: I give up. You're going to give people uniformz and they're often going to be playing Michigan when they wear them. Whatever. But can we at least keep the names on the jerseys? I like having names on jerseys so I can figure out what's going on better. They are a public good. Penn State is the only school that doesn't raise my ire about not having them.

McGary McGary McGary. Mitch McGary has checked in with an update on his recruitment with two encouraging parts. Part the first:

First up was Michigan. It went really well. I had a ball there. The fans just showed me so much love at the football game. Everyone talks about Michigan being a football school, but when I sat in the student section everyone just started chanting “Mitch Mc-Ga-ry” and started clapping. They definitely know their basketball at Michigan, that’s for sure. …

I would say that the part that stood out most about the visit was the fans and just how much love they showed me. I really wasn’t expecting all of that. People talk about the Cameron Crazies at Duke, but that’s how it was at Michigan too. Those fans showed me the most love of the three visits.

Excellent work, Max.

Part the second:

I still want to go to Kentucky, Maryland and Florida, but I’m not sure that I’ll get to those schools just yet. I’d like to get there, but we’ll just have to see.

Don't get me wrong, McGary said nice things about his trips to Tobacco Road and is keeping things close to the vest, but I've incremented my "this is happening" meter another inch. If he's not sure about visiting his other three finalists and Sam Webb's gut feeling is that Michigan, Maryland, and Florida were the leaders… well, the process of deduction to get from those facts to a happy place isn't complicated.

Now it's just about holding off Duke and North Carolina. No problem, right?

Also in the small world of the SYF Players AAU team, UMHoops interviews Glenn Robinson III. Optimistic spin: since he was three months premature he's three months younger than he actually is and can be expected to improve more than a baby born at the proper time. That's the ticket.

Joe Paterno was only twelve. Michigan gameday, 1938:

That's not a joke, by the way. Joe Paterno is old enough to remember this.

Etc.: Brooks has a hot tip on OSU violations! This one is totally backed with legitimate sources and is not pulled directly out of a rectum that is already inside three other rectums! The Big 12 is "done." Iowa's roster is hurting due to attrition—they may be less intimidating than we thought it would be this year. Ohio State did virtually nothing on standard downs against Toledo. Can they move the ball against Miami?

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