Opponent Recap: San Diego State

Opponent Recap: San Diego State

Submitted by Heiko on January 17th, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Let's talk about something else, yeah?

Previously: Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan

San Diego State

Getty Images

Schedule:

  • FCS Cal Poly, 49-21 (W)
  • @ Army, 23-20 (W)
  • Washington State, 42-24 (W)
  • @ No. 22 Michigan, 7-28 (L)
  • TCU, 14-27 (L)
  • @ Air Force, 41-27 (W)
  • Wyoming, 27-30 (L)
  • New Mexico, 35-7 (W)
  • @ Colorado State, 18-15 (W)
  • No. 10 Boise State, 35-52 (L)
  • @ UNLV, 31-14 (W)
  • Fresno State, 35-28 (W)
  • Louisiana-Lafayette, 30-32 (L) -- New Orleans Bowl

Record: 8-5 overall, 4-3 MWC, 4th in conference

Stats:

  Offense: Defense:
Rush: 184.5 ypg, 30th 169.5 ypg, 78th
Pass: 242.9 ypg, 49th 221.7 ypg, 56th
Total: 427.4, 27th 391.2, 68th
Scoring: 29.8, 46th 25.0, 57th
T/O Margin: +12, 9th

Season recap: In 2011, San Diego State lost nine starters, their head coach Brady Hoke -- you may have heard of him -- and their bubble screen-hating offensive coordinator among others in their coaching staff.

Despite that, defensive coordinator Rocky Long, known as one of the key developers of the 3-3-5 defense, took over the program and led the team to eight regular season wins and a bowl game. While they didn't really beat anyone good, given the circumstances and school (San Diego State, fergodsakes), I’m going to go ahead call that a successful season. 

The Aztecs lost decisively to three teams: Michigan, TCU, and Boise State, but those three teams had a combined 34-5 record in 2011. Their other two losses were decided by their kicker missing a pair of field goals (39 and 27 yards) against Wyoming, and Louisiana-Lafayette’s kicker making his -- a 50-yarder -- as timed expired in the New Orleans Bowl.

Kickers win championships.

Other items of note: RB Ronnie Hillman, who was last year’s fourth most prolific rusher in the nation, edged out Virginia Tech’s David Wilson by two yards to finish third with 1,711 yards, and that was despite Hillman missing most of the Boise State game due to injury.

QB Ryan Lindley had an okay season. He cut down significantly on his interceptions, throwing 23 TD with just 8 INTs compared with last year’s 28 to 14, but his QB rating actually dropped from 149.4 to 125.7. I’m guessing that’s what happens when you don't have WRs Vincent Brown and Demarco Sampson to throw to.

Best win: @ Air Force. They were the only team San Diego State beat with a winning record.

Worst loss: @ Michigan. All postgame reports indicate that they were so devastated by the loss to their former coach, they didn’t even make it to the presser.

At the time, we thought they were frightening as: Some convoluted analogy about ex-fiancées, which put them at around a 4.

But now we know they are as frightening as: About the same -- still can't figure out how they feel about you -- but when you meet them you find out they're two inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than you are. 3.5.

What the win meant for Michigan: First the bad. Denard’s arm made us feel queasy again when he completed fewer than half of his passes (8 of 17) for the third game in a row, throwing for just 93 yards, zero touchdowns, and two picks. His QB rating of 69.5 that game was the lowest of his career as a starter.

But Borges ran him 21 times for 200 yards and busted out the speed option, which was kind of cool. Additionally Denard was in the middle of fighting a nasty staph infection, so extenuating circumstances and all that. Credit to Michigan's offensive line for bludgeoning through San Diego State’s wispy defensive line -- even the tailbacks, who were just so-so at the time, combined for 100+ yards to give the Wolverines their second 300-yard rushing game of the season.

What made this game memorable was the defense finally returning from its two-year hiatus. Michigan played bend-but-don't-break to perfection; San Diego State racked up 376 total yards of offense and entered the Wolverines side of the field nine times ... only to come away with just seven points. The Aztecs’ drive summary reads like this:

  • Fumble 
  • Fumble 
  • Turnover on downs 
  • Three and out
  • Punt
  • Fumble 
  • Three and out
  • Fumble 
  • Three and out
  • TOUCHDOWN
  • Punt
  • Turnover on downs
  • Fumble
  • Turnover on downs

It's a pretty sight when it happens to other people.

Hillman got his yards but fumbled away two possessions. Lindley was hurried all game and couldn’t get in sync with his receivers, completing less than half of his passes.

Many of you will probably remember that many of Lindley's incompletions were due to the emergence of Blake Countess, who made his debut in place of a struggling/injured Troy Woolfolk.


PBU. And Jelly.

Finally, we also got our first real glimpse of Brady Hoke the aggressive, calculated risk-taker when he went for a fourth down that robbed the Aztecs of a possession at the end of the first half. This decision and subsequent decisions of a similar nature helped redefine MANBALL and appease Lloydball-Hating Bloggers at Cook family tailgates everywhere.

And it totally felt as awesome as: Making it through the non-conference schedule undefeated for the third year in a row.

Opponent Watch: Week 12

Opponent Watch: Week 12

Submitted by Heiko on November 23rd, 2011 at 11:32 AM

(Wait. Which one is Michigan playing again?)

About Last Weekend:

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

"Guess why I smile a lot."

"Why?"

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

 

The Road Ahead:

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

Getty / via the Huffington Post

Previously:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next game: No. 15 That School Up North 

(more after the jump)

Opponent Watch: Week 11

Opponent Watch: Week 11

Submitted by Heiko on November 15th, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Finally, a post on Tuesday. November is championship football, and championship football requires championship opponent watching.

(Fear scale: 0 = Bye week; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team Lloyd Carr will announce his retirement a second time; 5 = Illinois any given year; 8 = Best in B1G, which may or may not actually be any good; 9 = National title contender somewhere in the SEC; 10 = Hold me, Ace)

About Last Saturday:

No. 24 Michigan 31, Illinois 14 (W)

***

The Road Ahead:

No. 19 Nebraska (8-2, 4-2 B1G)

David Swanson / Philadelphia Inquirer

Previously:

  • Chattanooga, 40-7 (W)
  • Fresno State, 42-29 (W)
  • Washington, 51-38 (W)
  • @ Wyoming, 38-14 (W)
  • @ No. 7 Wisconsin, 48-17 (L)
  • Ohio State, 34-27 (W)
  • @ Minnesota, 41-14 (W)
  • No. 11 Michigan State, 24-3 (W)
  • Northwestern, 28-25 (L)

Last game: Nebraska 17, No. 12 Penn State 14 (W)

Recap: Nebraska shrugged off last week’s upset loss to Northwestern as well as the national scandal that has been monopolizing headlines to win a football game on the road.

Their rush offense steadily churned out a 17-0 lead midway through the third quarter before Penn State finally put together a cohesive touchdown drive. A Rex Burkhead (25 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD) fumble at the beginning of the fourth quarter gave the Nittany Lions a short field, so with the help of some trickery, Penn State was able to find the endzone again to cut the lead to 17-14.

That’s when the Huskers defensive front, led by LB Lavonte David, who had been quiet for most of the game, stiffened. Three times they stuffed Lions running backs for no gain on short yardage. 2nd and 1 turned into 3rd and 1 turned into 4th and 1, which ultimately led to a turnover on downs.

Miraculously, the Penn State defense was able to force a Nebraska four and out to get the ball back with 49 seconds remaining, but Nittany Lions QB Matt McGloin (16/34, 193 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs) had trouble finding receivers on the desperation drive, and his last pass under pressure fell incomplete.

Huskers QB Taylor Martinez had a pedestrian day, completing 13 of 26 passes for 143 yards and no TDs or INTs. He was also limited on the ground, carrying the ball 19 times for just 56 yards -- only one of those carries was a sack. He did manage the game well, however, and the offensive play of the game was his last-second option pitch to Rex Burkhead that went for a touchdown.

Right now they are as frightening as: The mounting sense of unknowing you get as you stare down the betting lines this week. 7.

Michigan should worry about: Option offense, which is something Michigan doesn’t really know if it can stop. Northwestern ran it successfully but then outsmarted themselves by abandoning it in the second half. Illlinois used it in limited quantities, and while Michigan stifled the hand-offs, the Scheelhaase keepers were effective and therefore worrisome.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Numerous reports indicate that Nebraska’s offensive line is about as deep as Michigan’s, i.e. drowning is a hazard only for the very young or the very intoxicated. The Wolverines D-line play has been steadily improving since the bye week, so that matchup looks to be favorable.

Additionally, if you’ve ever watched Martinez throw … eesh. Imagine Denard passing, but instead of an arm he has a chicken wing. Expect to see Jordan Kovacs nuzzling the line of scrimmage frequently.

DE Jared Crick has been out with a torn pectoral muscle, so Mark Huyge at least can sleep a little better.

When Michigan plays them: Both teams are going to try to make each other take to the air, at which point it’s anyone’s guess.

Martinez thrives on the kind of passing game that made Denard a 2500+ yard passer last year -- as teams choke up on the run game, receivers find themselves wandering alone in areas of the field large enough to raise a horse. Michigan’s safeties have done a good job of not blowing these sorts of assignments or getting beat deep so far, but again, they haven’t been tested by a true option offense where the whole point is to get safeties to bite on play-action. Worry if the Wolverines can’t stop the Burkhead-Martinez tandem early.

As far as Michigan’s passing game goes, jump balls are probably not such a great idea. Nebraska boasts one of the B1G’s best cover corners in Alfonso Dennard, and the guy playing opposite him is not so bad either. The Wolverines’ passing game does seem to be more sophisticated than the Huskers’ and relies less on establishing the run game, so there’s that.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see both teams combine for six turnovers.

Next game: at No. 18 Michigan

(more after the jump)

Upon Further Review: Offense vs SDSU

Upon Further Review: Offense vs SDSU

Submitted by Brian on September 29th, 2011 at 2:53 PM

THING OF THE WEEK. No thing.  :(

Formation Notes: So here's this:

trips-te-rb

See that guy way at the top of the screen? That's Hopkins. WTF? I don't know. Michigan showed a half-dozen snaps with this formation, often motioning the RB (sometimes it was McColgan) out of the backfield to his position on the edge of forever. They didn't seem to use this for anything.

As for SDSU, I gave this a passing mention in the Toussaint picture pages and here it is again: this was not what I expected the 3-3-5 to be. As you can see above, SDSU would often align in a four-man front—the above is over-shifted—by using one of their teeny linebackers as a standup DE. Only rarely did they deploy a true stack:

sdsu-stack

They did blitz off this to create different fronts, but mostly it was an array of standard fronts run with really small guys. I was disappointed—I wanted to see what this thing was all about.

Michigan didn't bust out much else worth noting.

Substitution Notes: Nothing out of the ordinary save Watson supplanting Moore at the second TE spot. Not good for next year—he's a senior. Smith and Toussaint got the vast bulk of the RB snaps, with Hopkins getting a few. Hopkins also saw a little time at FB. Schofield came in for Barnum after he got injured.

At WR it was the usual.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 man Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
Late shift by SDSU sees backside end slide towards the C and a linebacker come down over Koger. Seems like a D meant to defend ZRD and it does. Backside LB scrapes over to take Robinson; handoff. Late-shifted DE has an advantage on Huyge on the backside; Omameh(-1) should have paused to offer a scoop there but thought he was uncovered, which he was until the late shift. Huyge(-0.5) could have done better here, too. RPS -1. RUN-: Omameh, Huyge(0.5)
M41 2 8 Shotgun trips TE 2 1 2 3-3-5 man Run QB power Robinson 3
First of a number of plays that sees a second tailback, this time Hopkins, flare out into a WR position. Michigan never makes this relevant, so its purpose remains a mystery. Man... there are eight guys in the box here and no one deeper than five(!) yards save a corner way out over Hopkins. Robinson checks, flipping Toussaint, and runs power at the overloaded side of the formation. I'm not sure what he thought he saw. Koger(-1) gets beat up by the playside DE, forcing an early cutback from Robinson. Lewan and Barnum(+1) blow the NT up; Lewan does not peel fast enough to take out a linebacker. Molk(+1) seals away the other DT, leaving a cutback lane for Robinson. He takes it; it's filled by the extra guy in the box pursuing down the line and the LB Lewan did not get out on. RPS -1.
RUN+: Barnum, Molk RUN-: Koger
M44 3 5 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 two deep Run QB draw Robinson 19
I thought this was a scramble live but the receivers aren't running routes. Also, Huyge goes after a LB after it's clear he's dropping into a short zone. SDSU blitzes up the middle; Michigan picks it up thanks to Barnum(+2) shoving one guy past where Molk(+1) can pick him up, then popping out on one of the blitzers to shove him past Robinson. Smith(+1) blows up the blitzer to the other side. Robinson(+1) is through the gap Barnum provided. He makes a linebacker miss and is into the secondary. As he's angling away from a pursuing safety one of the linebackers comes back to trip him.
RUN+: Robinson, Barnum(2), Molk, Smith RUN-:
O37 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 man Pass Waggle WR flat Odoms Inc
Open but well overthrown. Not even much pressure on him. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O37 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 man Run Zone read dive Smith 32
God, I want Michigan to run QB oh noes to the RB on a streak right up the middle here. Maybe later. SDSU has seven in the box against five blockers, M runs anyway. Backside LB running right at Robinson; handoff. Molk(+2) takes a hit from a lineman and bounces down the line as Omameh(+1) pancakes said DL. Molk shoves a blitzer past Smith. Omameh's blocked a dude with his back as Huyge shoves a man down the line; Lewan(+1) fends off a DE for a long time. Barnum pops out to the second level after letting that LB Molk picked off run by him and does wall off a pursuing LB but no plus since that was easy and he might have screwed up. All this is is just enough for Smith(+3) to have a tiny, tiny crease that he stumbles through inexplicably. Nice thing about getting through seven guys in the box is there is no second level; he runs a long way. RPS -1
RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Omameh, Smith(3) RUN-:
O5 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 5
More of an under look with 3-3-5 personnel. Michigan runs at the 250-pound DE pretending to be a three tech and crushes him. Huyge(+2) gets under the guy and starts crushing him towards the endzone. Omameh(+1) helped, then popped off to steamroll a linebacker. Barnum(+1) pulls around to do the same to another linebacker; Molk(+1) and Watson(+1) kick out their guys to make this easy.
RUN+: Huyge(2), Barnum, Omameh, Watson, Molk RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-3-5 man Pass Fade Roundtree Inc
Tough to complete this with very good coverage from the Aztec corner. Denard floats it up in a decent spot; Roundtree comes underneath the coverage to get a one-handed stab at the ball. Shouldn't they be throwing this to Hemingway, not Roundtree? There are better ways to test this cover zero look. (CA, 1, protection 2/2) BWS picture paged this, though I disagree with the conclusion. More later.
M39 2 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 two deep Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
Not a tunnel screen since this play goes well outside the tackle box. Lewan is flaring out to help; Barnum is supposed to get out there too but gets hung up at the line. Linebackers are gone and Denard hits the easy screen; Lewan can't actually block the corner but does delay him enough for Gallon to scoot upfield for a good chunk. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
M47 2 2 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-4 tight Run Speed option Robinson 53
Outside zone blocking. I'm just saying? I'm just saying. Huyge(+1) and Omameh(+1) execute a beauty scoop block that seals the playside DE and gets Huyge out on the weakside LB. That plus a good block from Koger(+1) on the edge plus two San Diego State guys taking the pitchman means that when Robinson cuts upfield he is one on one with some grass for a touchdown. Credit to Watson(+1), the backside TE, for getting out on the backside safety to remove all doubt. RPS +3.
RUN+: Huyge, Omameh, Watson, Koger, Robinson RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q. Lloyd Brady sighting.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Pass Oh noes hitch Roundtree 10
Draw fake into a ten-yard hitch. Robinson nails it this time; had Hemingway screamingly wide open but his first read is there, so no complaints. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M40 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 6
This should have been a bigger gainer, but Smith made a bad cut. He makes it because Barnum(+1) pancaked the NT and he thinks he can cut back for a big gain. He ends up running into the fallen Barnum and slowing down; doesn't matter too much because Omameh(+1) destroyed the playside G with help from Molk; Huyge(+1) out on the playside LB. Without the delay by Smith(-1) he's out on the corner nearing a first down before being angled OOB. With it the MLB has time to shuck Molk's block and the playside DE has time to recover after getting way upfield.
RUN+: Molk, Barnum, Omameh, Huyge RUN-: Smith
M46 2 4 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 under Pass PA slant Roundtree Inc (Pen +15)
Zone read fake to patterns that SDSU have covered pretty well. Robinson is getting pressure and has to get rid of it. He picks the most open of the routes—still not very open—which is Roundtree's slant and throws a ball that looks like it is sailing high. It's close enough that Roundtree being interfered with matters, though, and Michigan picks up a flag. Not charted since I can't really tell if this is accurate or not. (N/A, 0, protection N/A)
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Run QB iso Robinson 4
Playside DT holds up well enough against a double from Barnum and Molk. They can't seal him away. They do get some push. Outside blitz eliminates one linebacker, leaving two for Smith and the peeling Barnum; they both get blocks. SDSU maintains leverage, forcing it back inside, where the DT makes the tackle. Adequate all around.
O35 2 6 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 3-3-5 under Pass PA dumpoff Smith 8
Gallon lined up as a TE. This does not sucker SDSU: the safeties are moving backwards at the snap. The two guys in the route go deep; Gallon has like three guys surrounding him. No one takes Smith as he leaks out of the backfield, so Robinson checks down when the deep stuff is uber covered. Smith shoots for a first down, then fumbles. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, Smith -3)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 4 (Pen -10)
Late shift inside by the playside DE; he goes straight upfield at Barnum. Barnum seems to throw him to the ground with his strength but picks up a holding call. I guess he's got his arm around the guy's shoulder but he's not pulling it; this seems pretty weak to me. Smith still has to cut upfield behind Barnum's block, which puts him in a bunch of traffic. Omameh(+1) got a good seal on a guy playside of him, which allows Smith(+1) to pick his way for a couple yards. Barnum -1 for allowing the penetration and picking up the flag. On replay this is a really bad penalty. He's not holding the dude, he's pushing him. Refs -2.
RUN+: Omameh, Smith RUN-: Barnum
M19 1 20 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 5-3 stack Pass Quick hitch Roundtree 5
Quick three step strike to Roundtree. Fine on first and ten. First and twenty, though? (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M24 2 15 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-3 stack Pass PA quick seam Koger Inc
Zone read PA gets Koger and Hemingway wide open in the short seams. Robinson takes the easier throw to Koger, nailing him in the numbers. Dropped. If caught a certain first down and maybe more. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
M24 3 15 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Okie Pass Scramble Robinson 11
SDSU stunt gets Barnum blocking no one and almost gets Denard sacked; Molk comes off his guy and manages to hand him to Omameh at the last second to prevent total chaos. Team minus there but pretty decent work by those two. Denard has a lane thanks to a Smith pickup and comes up through the pocket, where a couple spies are. He's got no one open so he takes off. Maybe he had Gallon on an out but not seeing that is no surprise given the heavy pressure. (PR, N/A, protection 1/3, team -2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 6
Lewan and Watson momentarily double the playside DE-type substance (actually a LB), with Lewan chucking him upfield and Watson(+1) sealing. Molk(+1) controls the center well, so there's a crease frontside for Toussaint. Lewan(+1) and Omameh(+1) get good second level blocks; Barnum(-1) gets shoved off balance by his guy, forcing Toussaint to slow up and cut outside of him, where an aggressive safety is there after just a few yards.
RUN+: Lewan, Watson, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Barnum
M25 2 4 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Speed option Toussaint 5
Barnum hurt; Schofield in. Toussaint motions to the option from the opposite side just before the snap. SDSU blitzes into this; Denard(+1) makes sure to suck up the edge guy before pitching. Toussaint(+1) has to dodge the charging safety, which he does; QB guy then gets stiffarmed; pursuit now tackles the slowed Toussaint. Two broken tackles for five yards = RPS -1.
RUN+: Toussaint, Robinson RUN-:
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run QB iso Robinson 3
Oh, man, Robinson misses a huge cutback lane. SLB moves to the line late and blitzes upfield; Koger(+1) kicks him out way out of the picture. SDSU line slants playside, beating Molk(-1) to the point where Smith has to hit this guy on the LOS. Lewan(+1) has managed to get playside of his guy and wall him off, allowing a cutback lane. Robinson(-1) begins to take it but instead of exploding outside into open space he inexplicably bowls over the guy Lewan's blocking.
RUN+: Koger, Lewan RUN-: Molk, Robinson
M33 2 7 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Denard misses a keep read. Play still works as Schofield(+1) gets enough of the NT to give Toussaint(+1) a crease he hits speedily; Omameh(+1) kicked out a blitzing LB and Molk nailed the MLB. Safety comes up to hit at the sticks.
RUN+: Schofield, Toussaint, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Robinson
M40 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Busted play Robinson -1
Robinson tries to hand off but Smith thinks it's a pitch. Robinson manages to get somewhere near the LOS.
M39 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass PA RB flat Smith Inc
Blitz gets two guys in Robinson's face immediately and he just dumps it off to the flat thinking that will be open; it's not. This is actually a good throw considering—he's under a lot of pressure and the coverage is there; he places it in a spot where Smith can get it and pick up some YAC if the LB doesn't make the diving PBU, which he does. Instant pressure plus coverage on the hot route == RPS -1. (CA, 0, protection N/A)
M39 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Pass Out Hemingway 9
Half roll does nothing to prevent pressure; Smith does not cut an edge blitzer and Molk(-1) lets another guy through to block no one. Robinson gets lit up. He throws just before that, hitting Hemingway in front of tight coverage. It's a bit high but not so much that Hemingway can't go up and get it. (CA+, 2, protection 0/3, Smith, Schofield, Molk)
M48 4 2 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Speed option Robinson 7
NT goes right by Omameh but is not flat enough to make that count. Molk(+1) slides down the line, finds no one to block, and sets up. He never actually impacts the LB twisting from the inside but delays him with his presence. Lewan(+2) hates the playside donkey, donkeying him into the donkeyground. Koger(+1) kicks out the LB on the end; Robinson slashes up for the first.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Molk, Robinson, Koger. RUN-:
O45 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 over Run QB power Robinson 34
Robinson sees something he likes and checks. This flips the RB to the strongside; Michigan runs power over there. SDSU twisting, I think. Barnum(+1) adjusts to the twisting DL over him, kicking him down the line and into the guy next to him. That erases both. Lewan(+1), Koger(+1), and Watson(+1) are two on three on guys on the strongside POA and blow those two off the ball. The combination is a cavernous cutback lane for Robinson(+2) that he takes. Molk(+1) has wandered out to the first down line, where he takes out a safety; Robison accelerates behind and is again angling away from the last man when someone trips him from behind.
RUN+: Molk, Barnum(2), Lewan, Koger, Watson, Robinson(2) RUN-:
O11 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 over Run Power off tackle Toussaint 9
SDSU misaligns and does not adjust to TE motion. Lewan(+2) annihilates and pancakes the playside DE. McColgan(+1) kicks out EMLOS. Koger(-1) releases into the MLB and actually gets his butt kicked, falling backwards. This is fortunate as it impedes the progress of the backside DE, who Molk(-1) bumped but did not seriously delay. Toussaint(+1) zips into the hole, steps through an arm tackle, accelerates once clear, and nears the goal line.
RUN+: Lewan(2), McColgan, Toussaint RUN-: Koger, Molk
O2 2 1 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Power off tackle Toussaint 1
SDSU guesses right and gets linemen into the backfield by diving; not much you can do there. This could still make it if Barnum(-1), the puller, doesn't whiff between two linebackers. Toussaint's following him and manages to split those two guys for a moment before they rope him down. Run-: Barnum
O1 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Naked boot Robinson 1
Does not fool two guys on the edge; fools everyone else. Schofield(+1) is left standing, realizes what's happening, and gets out to wall off the interior guy who knows what's going on.
RUN+: Schofield RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read dive Smith 0
No safeties. A 3-4 front and man on the WRs. They twist two DL, getting a guy in to roar down the line like an unblocked EMLOS on a scrape. They also have a linebacker forcing the handoff. Schofield(-1) is beaten badly by the playside DE. DE is in the hole ready to tackle; Smith(-1) should have cut it up behind that block, but realistically that's not much better. Too many guys when you've got five blockers against seven defenders. RPS -2. RUN-: Schofield, Smith
M20 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-4 base Run QB power Robinson 8
Huge hole as Koger(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) cave in the playside DE; blitzing LB comes outside and is kicked out by Smith(+0.5). Robinson hits it straight up. Schofield(+1) was pulling and got a downfield block that buries a DL; Koger gets his extra half-point by moving out into the second level. RPS +1; this was wide open.
RUN+: Koger, Huyge(0.5), Schofield, Smith(0.5) RUN-:
M28 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 tight Run QB inside zone Robinson 7
Twist stunt by the playside DE and NT. Schofield(+1) manages to adjust, pushing the DE past the play and giving a last lunge once on his knees that gets that guy to the ground; Molk(+1) rides the twisting NT way out of the play; Denard(+1) sees the crease and hits it. Huyge(+1) got a great driving block on the backside DE; Koger(-0.5) lost the backside LB; Omameh got a decent shove on the MLB. Denard has room for the first and can grab some extra yards before Koger's guy makes an ankle tackle.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Huyge, Robinson RUN-: Koger(0,5)
M35 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read keeper Robinson -3
Major error by Robinson(-3), who was definitely covered and should have given. Toussaint looked like he had a lane for either some yards or a very large number of yards. He manages to pop outside and looks like he will be able to run to the corner but then compounds his error by stopping and trying to cut back against the grain. No sale. Just run to the corner, man, it's not like this SDSU DE is going to catch you. RUN-: Robinson(3)
M32 2 13 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-4 base Pass Rollout curl Jackson Int
Rolling the pocket. I don't know why. This is "smash," which is similar to a curl-flat concept with the outside receiver running a circle route and the inside guy running a corner, but it's against man and Denard stares it down, allowing the underneath guy to sink into the route. It's picked off. It didn't help that the rolling pocket cuts off his reads, makes it harder to find spaces to run, and exposes both backs to cut blocks they miss, pressuring Denard. Stop rolling the pocket, fergodsakes. (BR, 0, protection 1/3, Toussaint, Smith, RPS -2... this route got no receivers open and got Denard pressured.)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-0, 12 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 over Run QB power Robinson 4
Lewan(+2) obliterates the playside DE. He is not slanting and he ends up on his chest yards away from where he started. His block is so good it's a problem for Schofield, who gets clipped by the donkey Lewan is hating and can't get out on the MLB. File under one of those things. Omameh(-2) should be there to pick up the slack but even though it looks like he looks right at him he moves on to someone else. Instead of hitting a crease up the middle Denard has to bounce away from the MLB, robbing Hopkins of his angle on the other LB. Koger(+1) got a good driving kickout that put a guy on his butt, too.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Koger(2) RUN-: Omameh(2)
M28 2 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Pass PA FB flat Koger Inc
Playside LB gets straight upfield, pressuring Denard. This opens up the FB flat for probably first down yardage; Denard misses entirely. (IN, 0, protection N/A)
M28 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Pass TE Hitch Koger Int
Roundtree starts in the backfield before motioning out. SDSU sends three; they get picked up and provide a lane upfield. RUN! You don't run. Y U NO RUN. He throws it to a covered Koger and I believe the DB does bat this skyward; he had Dileo coming open on a not covered hitch and he's DENARD ROBINSON RUN. (BR, 0, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-0, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 5
Hopkins at FB. Koger(+1) blasts the playside LB/DE well inside. Watson(+1) kicks out the safety type guy outside. Molk(+1) seals one DT; Schofield momentarily does the same to the other but lets him spin off. Hopkins bashes into a LB a couple yards downfield as Lewan(+1) blows out a LB. Omameh(-1) is pulling around into this cavernous space and runs directly into Hopkins. If he pulls inside of Hopkins he gets a block and Toussaint can hit it up for seven or eight. As it is he bumps Hopkins and Toussaint bumps him. Toussaint has to bounce outside, which Omameh also does; this is where Lewan has kicked his linebacker . Buncha dudes converge.
RUN+: Koger, Molk, Lewan, Watson RUN-: Omameh, Schofield
M12 2 5 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 6
Same check that led to the post-fourth-and-two touchdown earlier, with Smith flipping sides and Michigan running at the heavy side. Lewan(+1) and Schofield double the playside DT, eventually depositing him three yards downfield in a heap. Watson(+1) scoops the playside DE-ish person with Koger, getting him sealed. Koger eventually passes him off; Omameh(+0.5) does whack him on his pull. Still not getting out into the second level there but he blocked someone. Molk(+1) has sealed away the backside DT so Robinson can just run up the backs of his OL until he nears the first down and jump over them to get it.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield, Watson, Omameh(0.5), Molk RUN-:
M18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Run Zone read keeper Robinson 0
This is probably a good keep since Toussaint gets annihilated but Koger(-2) just fans out, blocking no one. This leaves a DE unblocked and a twist stunt gets another guy free to contain from the inside and Denard has little choice but to go down near the LOS. RPS -2... defense had this beaten up even without the Koger fan. RUN-: Koger(2), Huyge
M18 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Run QB iso Robinson 3
Another twist stunt is handled better, with Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) blowing one twistee down the line and Omameh(+1) picking off the other one. It looks like Robinson is about to burst through the small crease provided when he's hacked down from behind by a guy who got upfield of Lewan(-3), beat him, got up, and tackled. That should never happen.
RUN+: Omameh, Molk, Schofield RUN-: Lewan(3)
M21 3 7 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 stack Pass Screen Smith 32
SDSU sends five and they all suck upfield. Grady's in the slot and has press man over him; he takes that guy away from the play and blocks the spying MLB. That's seven defenders gone. Denard dumps it off to Smith and he's got a convoy with nothing to do. I guess I would like Smith to maybe set up his blocks a little better here but you never know when you're going to get cut down from behind. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3)
O47 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Smith 0
SDSU plays to spill, shooting the playside LB down the line and blowing up McColgan(-2), who topples backwards. Koger(-1) ran past the first threat, and those guys tackle. RUN-: McColgan(2), Koger
O47 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass PA quick seam Dileo 18
Zone fake to the quick seam, ain't no linebackers, nails Dileo, catch, first down. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
O29 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 under Run Dive fake to pitch Smith 1
We never run the dive, LB gets out on it, Smith doesn't do anything but run OOB, grumble grumble this play.
O28 2 9 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 2
Twist stunt dominates Schofield(-2), who gets shoved back into Smith after a correct handoff  Smith(+1) manages to get past the LOS after keeping his balance on the bump and accelerating into the gap left by the stunt.
RUN+: Smith RUN-: Schofield(2)
O26 3 7 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Run Speed option Robinson 3
This is not a great check to the short side of the field on third and seven, but it's also a missed cut from Robinson as Schofield(+1) and Lewan(+1) had comboed the backside DT and Denard had a huge cutback lane he does not see. Instead he goes playside, where Watson(-1) couldn't do much with his man; he gets out on the edge and allows one of the LBs to flow up on Robinson without opening the pitch. Denard does cut up, but late, and guys come off now-bad blocking angles when he has to go behind because of the safety charging on him.
RUN+: Schofield, Lewan RUN-: Robinson, Watson
Drive Notes: Missed FG(40), 3 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Hopkins 8
No twist stunt and M still runs the same thing; with Watson's motion and little reaction from SDSU they are misaligned and have little chance to stop this. (RPS +1) Watson kicks out the EMLOS as Lewan and Schofield double on the pinched-in DT. Easy all around. Koger(-0.5) gets a free release and does a crappy job blocking the playside LB but that's okay because McColgan(+1) and Omameh are there to help on this one dude. Hopkins runs up dudes' backs before taking a stiff shot from a filling safety and fumbling.
RUN+: McColgan RUN-: Koger, Hopkins(3)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read dive Smith -2
Twist stunt screws Michigan. Schofield(-1) gets knocked back by his guy and Molk can't do anything about the guy disengaging over the top; no cutback with a guy slanting behind and a player for Denard. Smith is nailed by the twister. RPS -2. RUN-: Schofield
M18 2 12 Ace twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Pass PA Deep post Roundtree Inc
Play action. Both safeties are bailing at the snap because it's second and twelve but somehow they manage to let Roundtree behind them. Robinson lets it go over the top but is just long. (IN, 0, protection ½, Toussaint)
M18 3 12 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Dumpoff Smith 5
Plenty of time; Robinson can find no one open. Robinson thinks about running but he's about to get tackled so he slings a dumpoff to Smith. He's immediately tackled. (TA, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 14 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M8 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 11
So the hidden reason this play works: Watson holds a dude who beat him badly. Refs +2. Anyway, same thing as earlier Hopkins power that worked: motion Watson to the strong side, watch SDSU fail to react, run power at it. Koger(-1) gets slanted under and his guy bangs Omameh, who goes backwards and bangs Toussaint. Watson(-2) is beaten by his LB and flings him to the ground without a call, otherwise this ends two yards in the backfield. The hold gives Toussaint a bounce, which he takes. It should be noted that if this play managed to go where it was supposed to, Lewan(+1), McColgan(+1), and Schofield(+1) had all gotten great blocks.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield, McColgan RUN-: Watson(2), Koger
M19 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint -1
This time they just line up with Watson over Koger, no motion, and the same LB who just got held shoots into the backfield past McColgan(-1) as a twist stunt gets a lineman past Huyge(-1) and the pulling Omameh(-1) and the MLB runs past Lewan(-1). Three unblocked guys meet Toussaint in the backfield. RPS -2. RUN-: McColgan, Lewan, Huyge,
M18 2 11 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Smith 0
Playside DE slides outside when he sees the downblock, avoiding Huyge(-1) entirely. Koger(-1) has to take him and doesn't do well with it; since two OL are now blocking no one there are two LBs for the single pulling Schofield since McColgan had to kick a dude out. RUN-: Koger, Huyge
M18 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Dig Roundtree Inc
Denard has a very tight, NFL-style window he can fit it in over a level in a zone here and wings it high. Chad Henne could make this throw... some of the time. It would be a DO if complete, and he did find the one small window in which he could hope to pick up the first here. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 10 min 4th Q. Boy do I hate this drive. So, so hard. On the next SDSU drive the announcers will complain about not running any time off the clock. But... but... they used power?
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Run QB iso Robinson 30
Twist stunt. Schofield(+1) initially has trouble with it, giving ground, but does lock out the DT and eventually pancake him Molk(+1) tracks and kicks the guy coming around. That combo means cutback. This is possible because Koger(+1) kicked out the backside EMLOS. Huyge(+2) dominates his DE, and Omameh(+2) pops out on a MLB. By the time Robinson cuts back behind the twist stunt Huyge and Omameh are essentially carrying their guys downfield. He has an absolute cavern. By the time these guys stop moving backwards they're almost at the first down line! Robinson into the secondary where I give him a token +1 for being fast as hell.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Koger, Huyge(2), Omameh(2), Robinson RUN-:
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Run Zone read counter Toussaint 11
RR-era play with the H-back peeling backside to pick off EMLOS and the RB hitting the hole that leaves hard. Schofield(+1) blocks the playside DE inside. Koger(+1) kicks out EMLOS; Lewan(+1) donkeys a linebacker, Toussaint(+1) makes one hard cut and is free.
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read counter Toussaint 9
Different D means blocking doesn't work nearly as well. Huyge(-1) has a guy right over him and releases downfield; this means that guy is creeping down the LOS. Koger(-1) probably should block him but goes for the kickout on the contain guy on Robinson. There is nowhere to go for Toussaint(+2) until he takes a lovely jab step into the unblocked DE. DE slows a bit to form for a tackle. More importantly, the NT—who Omameh(+1) is blocking well but blocking to the wrong side now that everything is all futzed—sees it and fights outside. Toussaint then starts running back towards the nominal playside, where Molk(+0.5) and Schofield(+0.5) took on a blitzing LB, stalled his momentum, and start driving him downfield. Toussaint runs up their backs until the pile stops.
O7 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read counter Smith 7
This is what a 3-3-5 is supposed to be: three man front, late arriving fourth from unpredictable direction. This time MLB is 3 tech, and he zooms upfield of Omameh(+1); Omameh kicks him out admirably. Blitzer is shooting the gap behind a slanting NT, expecting Smith will end up there. He thinks about it, then sees Omameh's block on the MLB, bouncing past a diving tackle attempt impressively. Another guy is coming at him, bro, and he stops on a dime, running through his arm tackle, stumbling. The last guy has gone to his knees to take him down; Smith powers through him for the final two yards. Bad. Ass.
RUN+: Smith(3), Omameh(2) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-7, 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 over Run Zone read counter Toussaint 6
Opens right up; Molk(+2) takes on a DT and plows him back. Huyge(+1) gets a reach on the other DT, though he was slanting to him. Omameh(+1) shoots out on a linebacker; Toussaint(-1) misses the cut behind and runs into an unblocked LB.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Huyge RUN-: Toussaint
M39 2 4 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-4 base Run Power off tackle Toussaint -4
LB shoots into McColgan(-2) who again buckles backwards, causing a pile that sucks in the puller. Toussaint bounces but is tackled. I mean, really, if power loses yards in this situation... RUN-: McColgan(2)
M35 3 8 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 2
Okay, I'm not going to nail people for a meaningless run here. I will mention that Miles Burris was very impressive and I bet he gets drafted in the mid rounds at least. Huyge whiffs on him here, robbing Denard of a possible cutback.
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-7, 2 min 4th Q

That was okay.

Yeah.

Weekly run game breakdown. Hit me.

I cut out two goal-line carries from the one as distorting and didn't count one broken play out of the I (it lost a yard), leaving the following:

  • Eight power plays from the I: 3.5 YPC
  • One dive-fake-to-pitch: 1 yard
  • 1 QB draw: 19 yards
  • 1 QB inside zone: 7 yards
  • 4 QB iso: 10 YPC
  • 7 QB power: 8.8 YPC
  • 4 speed option: 17 YPC
  • 4 zone read counter: 8.3 YPC
  • 11 inside zone read plays: 5.5 YPC

Under center YPC: 3.2.
Shotgun YPC: 8.8

None of the power plays were in short yardage situations. Five were on first and ten, one was on second and eleven, one was on second and four. Five of the seven were "big" formations with two TEs and one WR.

Running power under center sucks, full stop. It sucks against a terrible run defense on first and ten. It sucks even more when Michigan puts two tight ends on the field. There is no reason to do it—any theories about wearing the defense down have to account for the fact that when you run for 3.2 YPC you do not wear the defense down because it is not on the field. This is not just because you can run Denard a lot better from the shotgun: RBs averaged 6.9 YPC on carries from it.

And the under center numbers would have looked even worse if Watson was flagged for a blatant hold on Toussaint's bounce-off-the-OL 11-yarder.

power-works-2power-works-3

people don't go that way by themselves

I cringe every time a fullback hits the field.

That's depressingly consistent.

Speaking of depressingly consistent, let's talk about inconsistency.

Don't do this to me.

CHART

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation.]

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

Four games and we have a trend: a 15% reduction in Denard's DSR despite laying a lower caliber of competition than the common opponents we winnowed last year down to. Michigan called 42 passes in last year's ND game, a number that is completely incomprehensible this year. The regression: it's real, it's depressing, it's got to get fixed in the next two weeks if we're going to capitalize on the Big Ten sucking more than a sucky bunch of sucks have ever sucked before.

Receivers

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - 1/1 - 2 - 4/5 1/2
Roundtree 2 0/1 - 2/2 1 1/3 1/2 4/4
Odoms 1 - - - 1 - - -
Grady - - - - 2 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon -

-

- 1/1 1 - - 8/8
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - - 1/1 - 0/1 1/1 2/2
Jackson - - - 1/1 - - - -
                 
Koger - - - 0/1 2 1/1 1/2 3/4
Moore - - - - 2 - - -
                 
Toussaint - - - - - - - 0/1
Shaw - - - - - - - -
Smith 1 - - 2/2 1 - - 4/5
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

Just the one drop, but it was a drag: the Koger quick seam that was going for 20 if caught.

For the OL, keep in mind that Michigan had 44 carries that averaged 7.3 yards an attempt. Numbers ho.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 15 4 11 MOST EXTREME DONKEY ELIMINATION
Barnum 6 3 3 Only played about half the game.
Molk 16.5 2 14.5 I guess that stuff about no big plus days from him does not apply to tiny teams who are tiny.
Omameh 14.5 5 9.5 Ditto him: his lack of POWER was irrelevant because the guys over him were like 250, tops.
Huyge 9.5 3.5 6 Surprising amount of power run over him.
Schofield 10.5 5 5.5 Erratic but not a huge dropoff.
Mealer - - - DNP
Watson 7 2 5 Did surprisingly well; will it hold up outside of the Lollipop Guild?
Koger 10 8 2 Too many misses.
TOTAL 79 32.5 46.5 +41 last week against EMU, FWIW. Expect something similar this weekend.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 8 6 2 I should probably just give him +10 to start for being ridiculously fast.
Gardner - - - DNP
Toussaint 6 1 5 Darting runs for nice yardage. Same YPC as Smith w/ long of 11 instead of 32.
Shaw - - - DNP(!)
Smith 8.5 5 3.5 Big chunk of the minus his fumble.
Hopkins - 3 -3 Fullback
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan 3 5 -2 Got rocked on two separate power plays.
TOTAL 31 9 22 Contributions from non-Denards: can they last?
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway - - -  
Odoms - - -  
Gallon - - - --
Roundtree - - -  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo - - - --
TOTAL - - - Nothin'
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 16 8 66% Team 2, Smith 2, Toussaint 2, Schofield 1, Molk 1
RPS 13 15 -2 Twist stunts were a problem.

So: epic thumping delivered by that offensive line, as you would expect given the size of the opposition. Michigan's problems came on a lot of twist stunts. Denard had 200 yards on 21 carries and I give him a +2, which is laughable even to me. I gave him a –3 for one bad keep read that he compounded by not getting to the corner with his speed; instead he held up and got tackled for a three yard loss. He also missed a couple of gaping cuts and some of the holes he had to run in were ridiculous. Like this one:

donkey-3donkey-4

donkey-5

He did get a +1 for the cut but by the end of this play Huyge and Omameh will deposit their guys on the first down line. So… yeah. Give it up for the OL.

I thought they were totally overrated?

They suck out loud at running power from the I, if that's what you're asking, and might suck out loud running it from the shotgun against bigger teams, but you don't rush for 320 yards with a bad offensive line. When permitted to do what they do they do it well. When asked to do what they don't do they don't do it well. SCIENCE!

Meanwhile: how often have you thought about Taylor Lewan this year? Not often, right? Mostly when he takes some donkey and punches it so hard in the nose shards of cartilage come out the back of its donkeyhelmet, right? (In a non-personal-foul acquiring way, of course.) That is the mark of a great left tackle. There hasn't been a whisper of pressure from the left side all year.

Power! We use power.

You know the drill: we can sort of do it from the shotgun with the extra blocker/more spread out environment, but going big, as we do frequently and inexplicably, is a recipe for second and long. Even when it works it's not exactly because we're dominating guys. This was the setup on the last carry Hopkins is going to get for a while, an eight-yard power:

power-works

They ran off the right side of the line. Notice that Steve Watson has motioned to the strong side, where there are three SDSU players to the five on the weak side. SDSU does not slant. With the fullback that gives Michigan five blockers on three guys. Even our wack power running game can make that work.

If they are going to give up the free yards we can take the free yards. If they aren't… eh… not so much, and I'm talking like one yard not so much, not the four yard not so much that is the version of Denard not so much.

tunnels-screen-liberation-society

JOIN THE TUNNEL SCREEN AND POWER FROM THE I-FORM LIBERATION SOCIETY
STILL WORKING ON THE COLOR SCHEME
NOW ALSO WORKING ON THE NAME
tTSAPFTILS DOES NOT ROLL OFF THE TONGUE

What happened to the zone read?

As was expected/feared, the momentary light of day Denard saw does seem to be an effect of facing spread derp defensive coordinators. If Denard got a pull read on Saturday it happened maybe once; the two times he did pull he got zero and negative three yards. Tweaks are required to keep it going.

Weekly inquisitiveness about what's wrong with Denard.

There are infinite theories, all of which have some validity. Here's one from that BWS picture pages referenced earlier:

In Rodriguez's option offense, the focus was always to pick up yards and stay ahead of the down and distance. Any time they did take a shot downfield, it was the QB Oh Noes that were wide open. In this pro style offense, the coaching staff expects Michigan's players to simply out perform the defense, rather than keeping them guessing with simple routes and reads that would produce 5-6 yard gains and possible yards after catch*.

There's nothing wrong with this style of offense if you have the players to do it (the Chad Hennes and Braylon Edwards of the world). Michigan. however, is loaded with players that aren't necessarily able to out perform their counterparts, rather, they're able to make something out of nothing. Denard needs to recognize the cushion that the weakside defenders are giving Dileo and Hemingway and pass on the single coverage against Roundtree, who isn't much of a leaper.

I sort of agree but don't think the fault is on Robinson. The coverage matchup is exactly what Michigan expects and Robinson can't know how Roundtree will do with it by the time he throws the ball. You don't check away from a fade against one-on-one press coverage. You check to it. Denard threw a decent ball and the corner played it well. That's life when you are taking low-percentage shots down the sideline at Roy Roundtree.

Why you'd throw this at Roundtree is something of a mystery, but Borges is used to having pro-style receivers, not Purdue++ guys, on the outside. I don't like the playcall, don't like having Roundtree on the outside—it's killing his production—and don't like using Henne+Edwards plays when your assets are elsewhere. To me this kind of thing is on Borges. To his credit, Borges seems to acknowledge this:

Can you talk about Denard’s progress as a passer? “Well, it’s a work in progress with our offense. That’s the thing … because it’s different. Now part of that, too -- and I’m going to take the rap for that a little bit. I’ve got to get him some better throws. I’ve got to put him in position to complete some more balls so he can gain some confidence and gain some rhythm. Get in a little bit of a zone. He’s a capable passer, you know, but as a playcaller you have to consider everything we’re calling in terms of the passing game. This kid really threw the ball well in two-a-days and threw the ball well in spring. He did. All his numbers were better numbers than now. I think game situations are different. As he learns about how to do this, you’ll see progress. Because he does have a good arm, and he has an accurate arm when he’s comfortable. But part of that has to be my responsibility to get him in better situations to complete some throws.”

He's still getting his head around an offense where you don't need to seek out big deep chunks as aggressively because just you can stay on the field with your 6+ YPC running game.

Heroes?

Pick an offensive lineman, special commendation to Lewan and Molk. Also the collective tailback.

Goats?

Air Denard again, I-form power.

What does it mean for Minnesota and the future?

Michigan's going to plow the Gophers like they did the last two opponents. That's not that interesting.

Down the road, the Denard conundrum continues. Is he injured? Incapable of throwing these new routes? Uncomfortable? Was last year just a mirage? The answer to that series of fragments is the difference between contending for the division and contending for a middling bowl game. We just don't know, dude. I'm still clinging to the hope that there's something wrong with him physically.

Against Minnesota I'm hoping to see some dinkier routes Denard can hit in rhythm and no new wrinkles in the run game—none should be necessary. Can Michigan break 4 YPC running from under center against a tire fire of a team? Let's hope not!

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs SDSU

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs SDSU

Submitted by Brian on September 28th, 2011 at 3:41 PM

INTERESTING SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK

sdsu-lady-board

Hey, that's a lady. BTN didn't show any shots of people you'd recognize, so this is the closest thing to evidence that they were holding up pictures of people who left. She must be support staff or something.

Formation notes: Mostly under, which they ran almost all the time when they were actually running what they wanted to. When SDSU went to spread formations the nickel package came in, with a good amount of one-high press…

slants-1

…and some regular old nickel even. IE: the usual. No funny stuff.

Substitution notes: Kovacs and Gordon went the whole way with Carvin Johnson re-claiming his spot as the fifth defensive back in nickel. Gordon is the nickelback; Johnson came in as a safety. Woolfolk went out with an ankle issue in the second quarter and Avery came in; Floyd went out with a ding in the third quarter and Countess came in. When Floyd returned it was Avery, not Countess, who took a seat.

At LB it was Ryan-Demens-Hawthorne almost the whole way. Morgan, Fitzgerald, and Beyer got a series or two each spelling the starters.

On the DL, the same four starters (Roh, RVB, Martin, Heininger) with heavy rotation from Campbell and Black with lesser rotation from Brink. I don't think I saw much of Washington. In the nickel package they lifted one of the DT types and left Ryan out as a DE.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Martin 3
RB takes the handoff to the right of the QB as the FB goes left—a bit of counter action here. Martin(+2) pushes the C into the backfield, forcing an awkward cut from Hillman; RVB(+0.5) has also gotten penetration, forcing Hillman to hit it up in the small crease between the two DTs. Martin chucks his blocker and comes off to tackle. I'm trying to figure out why this is three yards instead of zero—think it's the linebackers not being aggressive enough, but no minuses.
O21 2 7 I-Form twins unbalanced 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 6
First of many flips by M's DL as SDSU flips the formation. This will have to get sorted out. They actually end up in an even formation with LBs from strong to weak Demens, Hawthorne, Ryan. Given the alignment of the other LBs this appears to be a bust by Ryan(-2), who did not flip when the rest of the line did. As a result they run power off the left hand side and one guy has no one to block. Demens heads straight upfield, taking on an OL peeling off RVB right at the LOS. This forces a bounce that may have been coming anyway because of the Ryan misalignment. RVB gets caught inside but I don't blame him since this is probably how he's supposed to play it when he's got an SLB. M gets lucky that the FB jets downfield instead of trying to block Hawthorne, who is scraping quickly from the interior. Hawthorne(+0.5) shoots between the FB headed for Kovacs and the pulling OL, forcing Hillman outside. He misses a tackle(-1) but his ability to get out in a flash forces Hillman outside into Kovacs(+0.5), who set up in a good spot; Hillman cuts back under where Ryan makes some amends by tackling before the sticks. Not an RPS minus because the error here is w/ player, not call.
O27 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power off tackle Roh -1
Pulling guard trips as he comes out of his stance, which helps quite a bit. Roh(+3) is one on one with a tight end, pushes him into the backfield, and then throws him to the ground. He meets Hillman head-on a yard in the backfield for a thumping tackle. Strong possibility this is still stuffed with the pull since Hawthorne(+0.5) had flown up into the gap outside Roh and was in position to tackle behind the LOS.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Jet sweep Ryan 10
Ryan(-2) straight upfield again, giving up the edge. When you're let into the backfield without being blocked and don't make this guy at least change his flight path you messed up. There's no way for the LBs to remain responsible on the inside run here and get outside to track the jet sweep down unless Ryan delays the guy; he does not. Gordon keeps leverage forcing it back; Demens is pursuing and Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle at the sticks.
O30 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Pass 5 Throwaway Heininger Inc (Pen -10)
Not really a blitz as this is a two-man route. Deep guy is bracketed by Floyd and Woolfolk; Kovacs is going with the TE who motioned out. I think Lindley sees Hawthorne in his throwing lane and decides to chuck it at his RB's feet, which causes Hawthorne to vacate that lane when he sees the QB's eyes leave. Also, Heininger(+1, pressure +1) got in Lindley's face, drawing a holding call. It kind of looks like the TE hitch might be open, but results-based charting. (Cover +2, Kovacs +0.5; Floyd +0.5; Woolfolk +0.5)
O20 1 20 I-Form 4-3 even Pass N/A Long handoff Woolfolk 8
Played poorly by Woolfolk(-1), who lets the play outside of him and gives up eight yards on a nothing screen. Either have to tackle more quickly or force it back to help; Hawthorne was probably there if forced inside.
O28 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Floyd 11
SDSU shifts from an I-form and gets a too-easy pitch and catch in front of Floyd(cover -1). Not really his fault as this was a zone blitz they had a good route on for (RPS –1).
O39 3 1 I-Form big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Martin 7
TEs flip and this time Ryan has his head on straight. Martin(+1) slides through the center instantly. He's into the backfield, picking off a puller. This provides Michigan a free hitter, which is a hard-flowing Demens(+1), who is in position to tackle for loss; Hillman bounces. Woolfolk(+1) is there on the edge but is held to the point where his shoulder pads pop out; no call. Refs -2.
O46 1 10 I-Form twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne 7
So this is what happens when Michigan does not flip the formation: not good stuff. Michigan's defense makes no sense: they're outnumbered on the strong side so they slant weakside and blitz Floyd(?!?) from the weakside as well. Black(-1) is not done favors by the play call but gets nailed inside; Hawthorne(+1) takes on a lead block and gets crushed but manages to keep his feet and draw the attention of a second blocker, who kicks the poor guy's ass. Hawthorne falls backwards right into Hillman's feet, which he grabs. Woolfolk was also there. Demens did okay considering the circumstances; Ryan(-0.5) was lost on the backside of the play; would not have been available to pursue if needed. RPS -2.
M47 2 3 Shotgun twin TE 4-4 under Run N/A Zone read dive Demens 7
Neither DT needs a double. Brink(+0.5) and Campbell(+0.5) stand up single blocks and get upfield, so the A gap is where the play must go. Heininger(-2) ends up sealed a yard and a half downfield after only a momentary double. The linebackers take on blocks near the first down marker and converge to tackle. Hillman and various OL start pushing the pile, whereupon Hillman fumbles because Demens(+2) ripped the ball out.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. Not too peeved about this drive since it should have been booted off the field on a third and short but for a hold.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 5 PA Deep out Gordon 21
Morgan in for Hawthorne. Late motion stacks the two WRs over each other; one runs deep and the other cuts out an out route. Deep guy has run off Woolfolk and Gordon is coming from the inside so there's a big hole in the coverage(-2). Martin(+0.5) had gotten some pressure on Lindley to force him to throw it off his back foot a bit; Morgan(-1) sucked way up on the playfake and let Hillman out into the flat with no one around him. Gordon(-1) didn't read this very well.
M49 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 3
Another formation flip, causing Michigan to do the same. TE then motions into the backfield as short side is overloaded. This time Ryan(+0.5) is in the right spot. He takes on his blocker quickly, standing him up at the LOS and further inside than he wants to be. Pulling G impacts him. RVB, Martin, and Heininger all do their jobs without doing anything spectacular, so there are no holes and a wad of bodies forms about two yards downfield. Half points for RVB and Heininger; Martin got pushed back a bit trying to shed and is the reason there's a little push.
M46 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 6 Out Woolfolk 10
Rhythm throw from Lindley comes too soon for serious pressure unless someone doesn't get picked up; SDSU stones the blitz (pressure -1, RPS -1). Woolfolk(+0.5) is there to tackle on the catch and has a decent shot of raking the ball out; he's about a half step from a PBU.
M36 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Pitch sweep Gordon 1
Both TEs block down as both guards pull. Ryan again flies straight upfield, avoiding the downblock but not doing anything useful. If he slows up here and picks off the pulling G he gets a plus, but he doesn't. Hillman is in business if he cuts upfield but he widens too much and too fast for his OL to keep up with him, allowing Gordon(+1) to flow hard upfield. Hillman tries to cut inside; Demens(+0.5) slows up and is blocked by the guy Ryan did not pick off. He is in a good spot to prevent bad things from happening, though. Hillman bounces back outside, where Gordon has beaten the other G's block. He can't make a tackle but does slow Hillman enough for Demens, Martin, and Morgan to tackle for little gain. One yard gain only gets 1.5 plus because I think this is a poor job by Hillman of reading his blocks.
M35 2 9 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 5
TE motions in and Floyd moves down in as a quasi SLB. Michigan slanting playside; Heininger(+0.5) gets upfield of his guy but Campbell(-1) does not, getting sealed away. Heininger's move robs SDSU of some of its blocking angles; there's an OL out on Morgan but no one on Floyd or Demens so those guys can shut it down after a few yards provided by the Campbell crease. Would like to see Demens(-0.5) hit this more authoritatively; he gives up YAC by making a bleah arm tackle.
M30 3 4 Shotgun trips Nickel press Pass 6 Slant Van Bergen Inc
Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) bats it at the line.
M30 4 4 Shotgun 2TE Okie press Pass 6 RB flat Demens Inc
So they do leave a guy wide open here, but they might have done it on purpose. SDSU misaligns, leaving a TE covered up. Johnson points him out out Floyd, and, then Floyd ignores him to double the RB coming out of the flat. Is Johnson IDing the guy as ineligible or telling Floyd to cover him and getting ignored? Don't know. In any case, Michigan sends six. Ryan gets a free run(+0.5, pressure/RPS +1) but Lindley has time to try to find a guy. It's his RB leaking into the flat after giving Demens(+2, cover +2) an ole; Demens pivots and is maybe a step behind him, making this throw all but impossible. Lindley has about a yard where the RB can catch it but it won't bounce off Demens's head, and Floyd(+0.5) is coming up to hit him at or near the sticks anyway.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q. The coverage is just night and day. Sometimes guys get open but this is suddenly a much, much tougher secondary to go up against.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 even Pass 5 PA TE Seam -- Inc
I don't know what the hell they pulled to get this but Ryan is now lined up over the slot receiver. Michigan runs zone behind a blitz; Lindley throws a seam to a TE who is running an out. With three guys around this TE it was going to be a tough window on the seam.
O27 2 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Campbell 4
So... Campbell(+0.5). He gets doubled and holds his ground as NTs are supposed to do. Hurrah. This allows both LBs to flow to the hole unimpeded. Ryan(+0.5) gets into his blocker at the LOS, forcing the pulling G and RB outside; Fitz(+1) takes on the G at the LOS and forces it back to Hawthorne, his help. This should be a textbook stop except Ryan(-0.5) has started to cede ground quickly and is now behind the LOS. Cutback lane opens up. Campbell should be there to cut it off but has spent the entire play just burrowing into his two dudes. Gordon(+1) has flowed down with the time provided by the jam-up on the front and makes a solid-wrap up tackle(+1) to mitigate the damage but this probably should have been zero.
O31 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Dig Gordon Inc
This is so good. One: Martin(+2) rips through a double team and forces Lindley to throw to his first read(pressure +1). Two: Hawthorne is ripping upfield as Michigan sends three blitzers up the center as Black peels off to pick up the TE drag. Three: Gordon(+2, cover +2) reads the TE cut and jumps the route, arriving at the destination in front of the TE. If this is accurate Gordon has a shot at an INT; Lindley wings it wide. This is what a damn strong defense looks like.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass 4 RB flat Martin Inc
Martin(+2, pressure +1) roars up the center of the pocket, eventually pancaking the center(!) and causing Lindley to dump it inaccurately to a flat route Hawthorne(+1, cover +1) had blanketed anyway.
O17 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 5 Out Woolfolk 13
I think Beyer needs to get some more depth on his drop here but this is a 12-yard out he can't help on. Far too easy for the WR here as Woolfolk(-1, cover -1) is beaten clean and can only shove the guy out after he turns upfield.
O30 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle TE Flat Roh Inc
Roh(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) don't bite on a weak fake and are right in Lindley's face(pressure +2), forcing him to turf it. Hawthorne(-1, cover -1) had gotten way out of position and this would have been open otherwise.
O30 2 10 I-Form twins Nickel press Run N/A Iso Van Bergen 9
Michigan goes nickel on second and long versus a standard set, and are one guy away from stuffing a run anyway. Martin(+1) slants under the backside G and just misses taking out the FB. Instead he's in the path of the RB, forcing him to stop and cut back behind. Both linebackers shed blocks and are about to tackle when Van Bergen(-2) gets blown way off the line after standing up initially, providing a cutback lane with no one in it because Black(-1) ran around upfield. Hawthorne nailed with a block in the back; no call. Johnson(+0.5, tackling +1) does fill well.
O39 3 1 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Campbell 2
Seems like M is playing this too conservatively, with two deep safeties and the LBs five yards off the LOS. Campbell(+0.5) stands up a G and comes off to tackle but it's not enough with the LBs having to come down from far away.
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Post Woolfolk Inc
Good pocket(pressure -1) and Lindley seems to want a post on Woolfolk—you can tell how they're picking on him and avoiding Floyd. The receiver thinks it's a run play and starts blocking.
O41 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Out Gordon 9
Gordon(-1) allows a five yard out, which fine, but then overruns the play (tackling -1), turning the five yards into nine. He does manage to tackle from behind when the WR slows up.
50 3 1 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Penalty N/A False start -- -5
This is why you don't talk into conch shells.
O45 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 6 Slant Woolfolk 9
No time to get to the QB here as it's slants; Woolfolk(-1, cover -1) is beaten, and while I wouldn't usually be so harsh here he's got a WR juggling the ball and if he hits him at all it's incomplete. Instead he's a step away. It's instructive to compare Floyd on the other side—he is covering his very well. Woolfolk leaves the game limping at this point.
M46 1 10 Goal line 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Hawthorne 4
Nothing on the frontside as Martin(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) hold up; Heininger(-1) is blown up but Hawthorne(+1) slices into the gap before the guy coming off Heininger can pop him. Roh(+0.5) is flowing down the backside and forces a bounce all the way behind into an unblocked Avery, who tackles.
M42 2 6 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass N/A Long handoff Floyd 5
Kovacs is charging hard from the inside and Floyd does play this better than Woolfolk, making a tackle instead of forcing him OOB. This means five yards instead of eight. Still less than ideal.
M37 3 1 I-Form Big 46 eagle Run N/A Down G Fitzgerald 2
Going at Fitz, lined up over the TE. He does an okay job to stay at the LOS but gets no penetration. Playside DE is RVB, who shoots into the backfield and gets blown out of the play. That is something that happens when you're gambling on short yardage. Demens(+0.5) gets to the lead blocker at the LOS and forces Kazee up the back of the TE; Hawthorne(+0.5) comes under a block to tackle but Kazee can fall forward for the first.
M35 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Deep comeback Ryan 21 (Pen -10)
Ryan(+2, pressure +1) is blitzing off the edge and gets inside the fullback; he's held. Otherwise a sack is likely. Lindley steps around the hold and lofts an impossibly accurate back-foot deep comeback that nails a WR at the sticks 16 yards downfield in front of Avery. Dude made a lot of bad throws, but dude... this is dude. Avery(-1, tackling -1) compounds matters by missing a tackle.
M45 1 20 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Campbell 0
Campbell(+1) and Heininger(+1) both shove single blocking into the backfield, forcing the play behind into the unblocked Ryan(+0.5) for a TFL.
M45 2 20 Shotgun 2TE Nickel press Pass 4 TE flat Avery 2
Ryan(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5, pressure +1) bullrush right back into Lindley, forcing a quick throw for nothing that Avery(+1, cover +1, tackling +1) is all over.
M43 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Post Floyd Inc
Martin(+1, pressure +1) flushes Lindley up into the pocket; he has to throw as RVB threatens to come outside to take him out. It's a post. Similar to the previous incompletion on fourth down, here the Michigan defender is in very good position and Lindley's window is tiny. Floyd(+1, cover +1) doesn't get his head around for the ball and so doesn't pick up an extra plus; if he did you could have filed this under passes Lindley was lucky he didn't throw more accurately.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA throwaway Martin Inc (Pen -10)
Martin(+2) blows through the center's block before Lindley can even turn around and his held. Lindley is all like GET IN THE CAR IT'S MIKE MARTIN and chucks the ball away. (Pressure +2)
O42 1 20 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Demens -2
Hoo! Demens(+2) reads the play and roars to the LOS, blasting the pulling OL on his ass. Ryan(+2) set up the FB's block so that it would be in the wrong place, Harris-style, then explodes upfield at about the same time Demens is giving this OL the business, tackling for loss. Greg Mattison, man.
O40 2 22 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Slant Floyd Inc
Lindley wings a slant behind his receiver. Floyd(+0.5) seemed in position for an immediate tackle, which is fine in this D&D.
O40 3 22 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Black 8 (Pen +5)
Black(-1) jumps offside. Lindley checks down (cover +1) despite having a free play.
O45 3 17 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Comeback Martin Inc
Zone blitz with both LBs headed up the middle as the DEs drop off. Kovacs comes late. This is telegraphed and picked up; Martin(+2) quickly battles through the OT's block and gets a hurry on Lindley, forcing him to get rid of the ball. Comeback is well wide. Short of the sticks but in go for it range if complete. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 11 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 2
Michigan slants the line away from the strength of the formation. This takes RVB(+0.5) into the playside G, eliminating him from downfield blocking. Ryan(+1) impacts both lead blockers, delaying the lead guy and taking the second one. Fitz's initial burst is taking him outside, where he'll need to be if there is a bounce against this slant, so he can't change direction fast enough to do much other than impact the FB that Ryan delayed. That's fine since the slant has left Hawthorne(-0.5) a free hitter. If he's as fast to the LOS as Fitz this is no gain; as it is he's a little late. He does tackle(+1). RPS +1.
M37 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd Inc
WR beats Floyd(-1, cover -1) clean and Lindley can throw on rhythm. WR drops it. Pressure was getting there if there was a second read. (Pressure +1)
M37 3 8 Ace twins twin TE Okie press Run N/A Pitch sweep -- 22
Massive RPS here as Michigan is lined up in its okie set with one guy on deep and does not react when SDSU motions in a TE who was already split out. When the Aztecs run the toss to that side they've got Roh, Hawthorne, Kovacs, and Avery versus four OL. Yay. Roh(-1) crushed inside like Lewan is blocking him; Kovacs(-2) takes fatal steps to the interior. Hawthorne manages to spin outside one block only to get buried by another OL. Avery keeps leverage but has little hope of doing anything else. Johnson(+0.5) manages to dive at Hillman's feet as he nears the 15 despite taking on a block; Hillman runs through it but this slows him down enough for a pursuing RVB(+2) to tackle from behind, punching the ball free as he does. Ryan recovers. RPS -3. It is super inane that the replay focuses on Jake Ryan instead of the DT WHO RAN DOWN RONNIE HILLMAN. Guh.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 9 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Yakety snap -- 1
Fumbled snap is picked up by Hillman, who rushes to the edge. Ryan gets lit up on a crackback block; Floyd cleans up. He's dinged on the tackle, paving the way for Countess.
O24 2 9 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 TE Corner Martin Inc
This is open for a big chunk and just missed; Avery(-2, cover -2) has no threats in front of him and has to get much deeper on this to take it away. Ryan(+1) and Martin(+1) had both beaten blocks to pressure(+2) Lindley, possibly causing the incompletion. If Avery covers this is a sack.
O24 3 9 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Skinny post Countess Inc
Time, but no one open(cover +2); Countess(+2, cover +1 again) is tested and is running this skinny post for the WR; he's even got his head around. Ball is well behind the WR and incomplete.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA something Countess Inc
Plenty of time(pressure -1); Lindley throws sort of in the direction of Countess and his guy but not, like, near them.
M38 2 10 I-Form twins 4-3 even Run N/A Iso Ryan 4
Ryan in space over the slot receiver. Campbell(+1) takes a double and doesn't move, then fights playside of his blocker. Hole is small. Fitz(+1) pops the FB right at the line; RVB(+1) fights outside to keep the bounce from happening; Ryan(-1) is hesitant about the bounce and fails to fill the last remaining crack of space Hillman has; he does tackle but the delay allows Hillman to get four where there were none. It is possible this is on RVB for bouncing out, but I doubt it since he's the senior.
M34 3 6 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Avery 7
This seems like about as good as you can defend this. Avery(+1, cover +1) does give up the inside but only barely; he's right on the WR's back and the throw has to be perfect and the catch good since Avery whacks the WR's hand just as the ball arrives, then tackles.
M27 1 10 Ace 3TE Nickel even Pass 4 PA TE Wheel Kovacs Inc (Pen -5)
Black(+1) beats a blocker and hurries Lindley(pressure +1), forcing a throw. This one is way off and wouldn't have mattered anyway since Kovacs(+2, cover +2) had run the guy's route for him, forcing the TE OOB of his own volition. Another good-thing-you're-inaccurate-buddy throw. TE was covered up anyway, illegal man downfield. I would not have taken a five yard penalty instead of an incompletion here.
M32 1 15 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 6 PA RB flat Hawthorne 13
Blitz gets a guy in but there is an easy dumpoff because of it; Hawthorne(-2, tackling -2) is running out to keep this down to a moderate gain but overruns the play badly, barely touching Hillman. Gordon comes from behind to tackle near the sticks.
M19 2 2 Goal line 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle TE Flat Ryan 3
Hillman takes three yards on a TE flat. Okay.
M16 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Post Avery 16
I actually tend to blame Gordon more than Avery here; as soon as that TE in the slot goes horizontal you are no longer threatened in the deep middle and it's time to find the other WRs. That's speculation from me. Avery does get beat on the post but not by much. He's again on the back of the WR and forces a perfect throw, which Lindley provides. Am I being too nice here?
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, EO3Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
50 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Black 0
Black(+2) ducks under the OT's block and penetrates into the backfield, forcing Hillman away from blocking lanes and getting a diving arm tackle attempt that brings him to a near halt. Martin(+0.5) has held his position and pops off into a lane that Hillman might hit; he comes back inside, where Demens(+0.5) is there to finish the job.
50 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Slant Countess 10
Blitz up the middle with dropping DEs. I can't tell if this is Ryan's fault, Countess's fault, or no one's fault. Ryan drops back into the slot's slant instead of the outer slant, leaving it open; Countess is off the line. I'm watching Floyd on the other side play an identical slant and he's in much better position, so Countess(-1, cover -1) gets the ding. He does recover to tackle before the sticks. Also pressure -1.
M40 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 5 Post Countess Inc
Ryan off the line. He approaches it on a late shift; Gordon comes down over the slot for a one-high look. Play action with the outside receivers going deep; Countess is in man with a guy on a post. He runs it for him (+2, cover +2) and Lindley adds to his list of thankfully inaccurate passes. Pressure -1.
M40 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Floyd Inc
Big personnel with Hillman spread out wide and a FB next to Lindley. They run a little hitch to Hillman, which might work okay if they'd successfully motioned out a LB on him, but it's Floyd(+2, cover +2), who breaks on the ball for a PBU. RPS +1.
M40 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 6 Fade Countess Inc
Blitz gets Morgan(+1, RPS +1, Pressure +2) a free run up the middle. Lindley makes a back-foot chuck a la Carder but this one is deadly accurate, a fade outside of Countess's guy(-1, cover -1) that he just drops.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Outside zone Ryan 14
I think. It's not really stretch blocking but the playside tackle is definitely sealing RVB inside. It bounces outside spectacularly because Ryan(-2) is hacked to the ground by a fullback block, giving up the corner. Demens(-2) is also cut to the ground, meaning there's zero chance anyone can get out there before the secondary.
O48 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Jet sweep Van Bergen -5
A tiny little adjustment murderizes the play. Michigan goes to an even front, which shifts RVB outside over a TE. TEs fan out and RVB(+1). goes straight upfield to tackle(+1) for loss. Normally the TEs would block Ryan and the T would get Van Bergen but the shift to the even confused them. More bust than tactical checkmate but still RPS +1.
O43 2 15 I-Form twins Nickel even Run N/A Draw Van Bergen 4
Van Bergen(+1) blows his guy back as they make contact, forcing Hillman behind him and away from his blocking. Countess(+0.5) realizes what's going on and sees Hillman coming; he can't disengage smoothly but does manage to sort of arm tackle him; Demens(+0.5) finishes it off. I'll take a four yard run on second and fifteen when you're in nickel and they're in a regular set.
O47 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide Okie press Pass 6 Slant Countess 10
Countess(-1, cover -1) is beaten a lot easier than Floyd and Avery have been so far this game and can only tackle afterwards; no chance at a breakup. This sets up a fourth down.
M43 4 1 Ace 3TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA TE Seam -- Inc
PA is wildly effective and this guy is wide open (RPS -2, cover -2) but either Lindley misses or his TE turns the wrong way and it's incomplete.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 21-7, 8 min 4th Q. Michigan scores quickly and SDSU gets the ball back with 6 minutes left down 21. Both starting units stay on so I'll keep charting, but with game situation in mind big minuses for chunks will be slim. I'm mostly just trying to get a grip on the D.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Out Kovacs Inc
Lindley badly misses on an out or the WR should have run a hitch; either way Kovacs(-1, cover -1) is way far off after a Floyd corner blitz.
O27 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Flat Countess 2
Okay pressure; Lindley has to check down (cover +1). Countess(+1, tackling +1) is the hard corner in the zone and comes up for an immediate tackle.
O29 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide Okie press Pass 5 Skinny post Van Slyke 23
Van Slyke in tight man against an SDSU TE and just gets outrun by yards. Man. That guy cannot play in real games, I don't think. No cover because I don't think this is relevant to actual games.
M48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 3 Dig Hawthorne 15
Hawthorne(-2, cover -2) busts, flying out on an out route and leaving a big hole in the zone.
M33 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Post Gordon 14
Out and and a post behind it; Gordon starts moving out on the out, then realizes that's not a good idea and sinks back. On the throw he's right there but the WR undercuts him a little and gets to the ball first, making a juggling catch. He's there and he's got a shot at an INT; could have played it better when the ball got there. (-0.5)
M19 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Sack Roh -8
Not instant BG death pressure here as Lindley sits for a second or two before trying a deep corner route, but Roh(+2) does beat the OT and hit the QB as he throws, forcing a drive-ending fumble. Pressure +1.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 28-7, 5 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 TE seam Demens 30
Martin and Lindley are out there so I guess I'm charting. I have no idea what to do with this one since Demens is in great position and actually has this ball go off his head before the TE Prothros him. I think (+0.5, cover +1) but please get your head around son before you Todd Howard us all. I mean... this throw was really hard and so was the catch and Demens could have done better but he didn't do bad.
O47 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Countess? 13
This may be on Countess (-1, cover -1), as this appears to be zone; Countess sits down on a short hitch, opening space up behind him that Gordon and the S can't cover. He should definitely be dropping deeper in this situation; who cares about a little hitch?
M40 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen Countess 1
Michigan misaligns and SDSU busts. Opa! Hawthorne(-1) lines up wrong but the WR out on the bubble doesn't block so okay. Countess tackles for a minimal gain.
M39 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Gordon Inc
Gordon on the slot; pocket is okay; Black is getting there but Lindley can step up. Zinged to Denso, who makes a one-handed grab with Gordon in pursuit. Gordon was riding him but couldn't make a play on the ball. -0.5. It's dropped because of the tough throw.
M39 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Screen Ryan Inc
Ryan(+1) and Campbell(+1) read screen and snuff it out; Lindley turfs it. RPS +1. Black(-1) was offside.
M34 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Gordon 9
Gordon(-1, cover -1) beaten, and fairly easily.
M25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Countess 6
Six yard slant with instant tackle... I usually don't ding these on first down since you have to be wary about longer routes.
M19 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide tight Nickel even Pass 4 Out Countess Inc
Wide. Probably right at the sticks if completed.
M19 3 4 Shotgun trips Nickel press Pass 4 Hitch Hawthorne 6
Hawthorne in tight coverage but Lindley fits it in and Hawthorne can't rake it out.
M13 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Throwaway Black Inc
Black(+1) gets some pressure and Lindley chucks it OOB due to good coverage(+1).
M13 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel press Pass 4 Corner Countess Inc
Corner route against man is a TD if well thrown; this is too far inside. Countess(+0.5) is there and can make a play on the ball as it gets there, though, so there's that. M making it tough.
M13 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie press Pass 7 Seam Floyd Inc
Unblocked guy, naturally, Lindley chucks it off his back foot inaccurately; Floyd(+1, cover +1, RPS +1) was riding the WR before the throw to make sure that was the case.
M13 4 10 Ace twins twin TE Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Gordon Inc
Gordon in trail position again and seems beaten but as the WR catches it he double clutches; Gordon(+1, cover +1) punches it loose.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-7, EOG.

OH MAH GAWD WE HELD A ACTUAL-ISH TEAM TO SEVEN POINTS

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

EEEEE—all right.

Yes. Right.

Composure.

Yes. Yes, smooth out the jacket.

Insert bubble pipe.

Adopt calm, professional mien.

How about a chart?

Yes, that will help.

image

That's not very professional.

I took out the reference to "sex."

You have multiple exclamation points… and did you put the title at a jaunty angle? IS THAT AN EMO-KID LOWERCASE LETTER AMONGST CAPITALS IN THERE?

It's not in comic sans at least.

Pretty soon you'll be referring to Michigan's coaches as "CBH, CGM, and CAB."

Hater. I'm not even going to let you say chart.

Already did.

Oooooh. Fine.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 8.5 2 6.5 Forced fumble was big deal; solid otherwise.
Martin 15.5 - 15.5 Unblockable today.
Roh 6.5 1 5.5 Not bad for splitting time.
Brink 0.5 - 0.5 Sporadic PT.
Heininger 3 3 0 I'll take it.
Black 4 4 0 Not much impact; two offsides calls.
Campbell 4.5 1 3.5 Keep hope alive.
TOTAL 42.5 11 31.5 Martin wrecked these guys. Check the pressure metric.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 9.5 2.5 7 Not sure what to do with his Howard-esque coverage but I liked it.
Herron - - - DNP
Ryan 9.5 8 1.5 Paging Jonas Mouton to aisle reincarnation.
Fitzgerald 2 - 2 A couple plays.
Jones - - - DNP
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer - - - Did not register.
Hawthorne 4.5 6.5 -2 Half of minuses came on final drive, fwiw, but he did bust a coverage there.
Morgan 1 1 0 Eh.
TOTAL 26.5 18 8.5 A better day from most; Ryan makes plays but really needs to settle down on the edge.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 5.5 1 4.5 Tony Gibson -1000
Avery 2 3 -1 Tough completions made against him.
Woolfolk 2 3 -1 Didn't seem right even before the injury.
Kovacs 3.5 3 0.5 Got him on the long RPS run.
T. Gordon 5 4 1 All safeties > 0 against real QB.
Countess 6 4 2 Not as rapturous as we thought but still pretty good, full stop.
Johnson 1 - 1 A couple of fills.
TOTAL 25 18 7 Stunning.
Metrics
Pressure 20 4 16 Jeepers.
Coverage 25 19 6 Flabbergasting.
Tackling 5 5 0 Could use work.
RPS 8 10 -2 Blitzing reduced as not necessary; did get RPS-3ed on a big run

To sanity check those numbers, SDSU had thirteen drives and got seven points. Four drives started at midfield or worse. When Michigan punched in their final TD to end the game with about six minutes left, SDSU had 266 yards. Michigan at least sort of forced three turnovers.

I think they're right. With a few exceptions on too-easy short passes and busts on edge contain, San Diego State got dominated.

But Lindley was terrible. This means nothing!

I don't think Lindley was good by any means, but in a way the Aztecs were lucky he was so off. On multiple plays Michigan had defensive backs in position to either get PBUs or intercept the ball only to see Lindley miss by miles. A lot of the time the reason those balls were so off was pressure applied by Martin or others.

Lindley is no joke, either. He is a legit NFL prospect:

Overall, he’s got a strong arm, showcases the ability to look off defenders, find a secondary option and when given time he can get his feet around toward his target. However, he doesn’t possess the kind of coordination/balance from the waist down that you want to see from an NFL quarterback, especially in today’s NFL where you need a QB who can escape pressure both inside and outside the pocket, settle himself quickly and burn a defense that wants to bring the blitz. Something I have a hard time seeing Lindley doing consistently at the next level.

Lindley is certainly worth a draft pick and has the skill set to go somewhere in the early/mid round range, depending on how well he performs the rest of the year/post-season. However, if he doesn’t improve his overall footwork/coordination from the pocket, it’s going to be tough for him to make plays in the NFL when he doesn’t have a clean pocket.

While he's not Tom Brady I don't have to remind anyone reading this of the murderer's row that carved Michigan up last year.

ben-chappellllllllmatt-mcgloinfootball-cat

The Michigan secondary held a fifth year senior NFL prospect QB to 5.3 YPA, which is also known as "Threet/Sheridan production." Take whatever coaching-upgrade-based optimism you held going into the season and triple it.

Okay, okay, no receivers and a lot of Mike Martin tearing through the line. Sure. San Diego State is going to backslide this year. I refer you to the above murderers row, though. Upgrade: massive.

Here's where I want to embed several plays that showcased Michigan's newfound talent for making life tough on opposing receivers, but I'm still trying to figure out what my status is there. But, man, even when SDSU was completing stuff they had guys in their grill. Lindley had to make some perfect passes to complete slants on Avery and often just missed because a guy like Demens had given him the choice of throwing it high/wide or throwing it into his helmet.

And the run defense?

There are still problems on the edge. Ryan did end up positive but is dinged for losing contain on three separate occasions that resulted in 30 yards. So there's that. There was also the massive minus rock-paper-scissor run that ended in the Hillman fumble. That was another 30 yards. So the SDSU run game:

  • Ryan losing contain on edge (w/ assist from Demens once): 3 carries, 30 yards
  • That one RPS play: 1 carry, 30 yards
  • Everything else: 24 carries, 77 yards

As a wise groundskeeper in a Snickers commercial once said, great googly moogly. Say what you want about Lindley and his receivers, SDSU returned essentially their entire running game and was shut down when not exploiting one freshman's issues with keeping the edge or running that one play. Those things seem fixable. Even if they aren't, Michigan held the Aztecs to 4.2 YPC.

I'm getting closer to believing that Campbell can be an average three-tech in the Big Ten. Like, a guy who doesn't get blown up and is mildly positive. Weakness at LB outside of Demens is going to be an issue that prevents Michigan from having a really good run defense, but I think they're 80% of the way to the best case scenario already.

So you're down on Ryan, then.

Relative to the rest of the internet, yeah. I think he's promising. I also think he's making four or five really obvious mistakes per game. Maize Pages picture paged the second play of the game, a six yard run that was the first of Michigan's Flip You For Real plays. Notice something?

flip-you-for-real-5

The middle linebacker is… Brandin Hawthorne. The line is… undershifted. Jake Ryan is… definitely not in position. When Michigan meant to run an even front this is what it looked like:

even-for-real

Demens in the middle, line slid more playside. Maize Pages dinged the D for not adjusting but they didn't have to; a safety slid down when the TE went in motion. If Ryan's where he's supposed to be Michigan probably defends this play.

COUNTESS!

I'm a little less thrilled than I was on gameday but I'm still pretty impressed. Even more impressive: when SDSU runs double slants and I look across the field at Floyd to see if he's playing it better, he is. Maybe we should be saying FLOYD!

Seriously. When the starters were in there, SDSU went after Woolfolk. When Avery was in there, they went after Avery. Floyd came up with a jumped-route PBU and ended up significantly positive despite being a corner. I'm still leery about the depth of the transformation here but each game adds evidence to the pile indicating Floyd can play now and Pitt fans should get used to shootouts.

Back to Countess: he ran some routes for guys, which puts him in a group with Gordon, Kovacs, Floyd, and not quite Avery. I be like dang.

image

Speaking of being like dang…

Yes. Mike Martin in full effect, never more so than when he literally ran over the SDSU center en route to the QB. A large number of Lindley's hopeless mortar shells can be directly attributed to Martin ripping through those guys like they were not there. This was a solid offensive line he did it to; with his quietly plus-double-digit day against Eastern (no passes to be devastating on) he seems poised to wreck the Big Ten. I can't wait to see him matchup against MSU's center, who will be a freshman coming off injury or a converted DT.

Why is your eye twitching?

BOY I'M GLAD TERRANCE ROBINSON CAN TACKLE DESPITE BEING SIX INCHES TALL

punt-wtf

That's a lot of grass, man. That is all.

Heroes?

Mike Martin, JT Floyd(!?!), RVB, and Kenny Demens.

Goats?

If I had to pick a guy it would be Ryan, but even that is a guy who ended up positive on the day. Black also should be mentioned—if you're going to take two offsides penalties you need to have one big negative play to compensate and he didn't.

What does it mean for Minnesota and beyond?

They should do about what they did to SDSU to Minnesota, a team in disarray that can maybe run a little bit when Gray is in there. I actually expect them to hold the Gophers to not many points.

As far as beyond, it seems like they've plugged a lot of their holes. I'm still worried about what happens when Michigan goes up against a serious offensive line but it's hard to find any until the last couple weeks of the schedule. There has been ever less firedrill confusion as the season progresses and in two weeks when they start the Big Ten schedule in earnest it's not too much to expect it to be largely gone. Then it's just a matter of getting improvement from Ryan/Hawthorne/Campbell/Johnson to bring the starting defense up to "decent to good Big Ten team." There's still a lack of out and out stars behind Martin but it's hard to point to a truly gaping hole at the moment, either.

This could all blow up against Northwestern if they've got Persa back. Right now, though, the defense is currently executing the best case scenario.

Picture Pages: Toussaint Jab Step

Picture Pages: Toussaint Jab Step

Submitted by Brian on September 28th, 2011 at 12:07 PM

I like Fitzgerald Toussaint. Think the kid has a bright future if his various limbs stay functional. Enjoy his running style. Get emails from time to time declaring "I don't know what you see in this kid." Sit and ponder these emails. Shake fist. Decide to write post about it. Fitzgerald. Toussaint.

So here's a reason I like Fitzgerald Toussaint: I think his vision and his shake are plus pitches, to borrow from another sport. Here's an example. It's first and ten on the SDSU 16 late in the fourth quarter with Michigan driving to clinch the game. On the next play Vincent Smith will jackrabbit his way into the endzone, but to set that up Michigan's going to Toussaint.

The setup:

toussaint-1

If this looks familiar, it should. This was one of the staple formations of the Rodriguez years. Here's Tate running it in the 2009 ND game:

qb-counter-1

Rodriguez would often send the TE backside to block the otherwise unblocked EMLOS as a counter to scrape exchanges. TE kicks out the guy coming down the line; WLB flies out to contain Robinson on the zone read, and viola:

[one of many examples that have been DMCAed by Thought Equity Motion.]

Michigan did this on the previous play. It was the first time they'd run it all game and it worked like a charm, opening up a huge lane for Toussaint to hit. He did so for eleven yards. When Michigan goes back to the well a second time things will be different.

SDSU's 3-3-5 was less dynamic than advertised. Instead of blitzing like mad from everywhere to mimic different fronts, it was mostly content to line up as very small 3-4s and 4-3s and run twist stunts from them. On this play they actually line up in the stack, which was rare.

On the snap the TE pulls backside as the mesh approaches.

toussaint-2

Robinson sees the OLB headed upfield at him and hands off:

toussaint-3

The problem is Koger is kicking out the QB contain guy:

toussaint-4

This is very similar to problems Michigan had running this play against Illinois last year. When the scraper is hugging the backs of the OL TEs often miss him and head to the obvious guy on the outside. Once your pulling TE whacks the contain guy you've given up the advantage gained by optioning him off and are back to—horror—regular old 3.9 YPC running. When this happened against the Illini, Michigan gained a yard.

Since Huyge has released downfield there is an unblocked EMLOS tasked with the tailback on a play that usually tries to go backside. (This is a zone, but it is a zone with an idea of where it's going to end up.) Omameh is actually doing a good job on his guy since the play design nominally expects the ball to go behind him. Unfortunately, that means there's nowhere to go further playside. There is no room.

So Toussaint makes some. In the above frame you can see he's evaluated his situation and is about to take a critical step. This is what he does with it:

jab-1jab-4jab-5

That's weird. It's easier to see on the video, but Toussaint takes this jab step outside and then bursts back upfield.

This little jab step… what is it? He slows for a half-beat and sticks that leg out as if he's going to veer outside, then shifts direction and heads away from the scraper. Is it just instinct, or is it a deliberate attempt to set up his block? Does Toussaint even know? This happened in a blink. This may be one of those things even the person doing it can't explain.

The result is most apparent on the guy Omameh is blocking:

jab-6jab-7

In frame one the NT has already committed his momentum to the other side of Omameh's block because of the jab step; in frame two he's kindly GTFOed, giving Toussaint a lane as Schofield and Molk donkey a linebacker who blitzed into them. Toussaint set this up with the step, which convinced the NT he needed to fight to the other side of Omameh without slowing him down enough for the unblocked scraper to catch him.

Result: Toussaint runs up his OL's backs for nine yards.

jab-8jab-9

Video

Watch it twice. Watch the step, and then focus on Omameh and the guy he's blocking. See that yank that suddenly repositions the defender? That's the NT moving himself to where he thinks he needs to be.

Interesting Stuff

Will this be consistent from Toussaint? This is a play SDSU RPSed that Toussaint made into nine yards almost by himself with that jab step. Is that a fair representation of his vision and his ability to make split-second decisions that get him lanes other guys don't, or was it getting lucky? I don't know, but I do know that the last couple weeks I've had occasion to use "lovely" more than once to describe a Toussaint run. Early returns are "not lucky."

Back to the well. Yeah, this wrinkle was a Rodriguez staple. It worked like you draw it up the first time. This time it worked like you don't draw it up; Smith would come in and run it a third time for a touchdown, but he'd have to weave his way through defenders to do so. I'm not sure whether running it three times in a row was a good idea—it worked but clearly SDSU adjusted to it. Against better run defenses this might end up going splat. To be fair, the third one was a second and one from the seven.

Coaching points with coach Rod. In the Illinois game Michigan adjusted to the Illinois adjustment by the end of the game, coaching that pulling TE to ID the scraper hiding behind the line and blocking him into the endzone for a touchdown. It'll be interesting to see whether Michigan makes that adjustment if necessary in future games.

Further wrinkles. So there was this, which was brought out right at the end of the game, and the speed option you've heard and read so much about, a speed option that seemed to use outside zone "basketball on grass" blocking. That's an encouraging echo of the Rodriguez ground game, when most games of import saw new features being deployed.

Monday Presser Transcript 9-26-11: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 9-26-11: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 26th, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Brady Hoke

News bullets and other important things:

  • Weekly tailback musical chairs update: Fitz and Smith. No mention of anyone else.
  • Cam Gordon still not 100%.
  • Barnum is questionable for Minnesota at the moment.
  • Woolfolk was up and running last night.
  • Two of Denard's bad throws were the result of bad routes.
  • Justice Hayes didn't dress because he had a "bump."
  • Hagerup has to compete to get his position back. (I have a feeling this is nominal, but we'll see.)

Press Conference (filmed)

Opening remarks: “Again, as always, thank you for coming out. This is really loud.

“Ahem. It’s good to win football games. It’s bad to lose games, so it was good to win. I thought from a perspective as a team, I thought we played as well as we have to this point for the first quarter and maybe three quarters. Then I think we struggled a little bit for one reason or another from an offensive standpoint. You can’t turn the ball over four times. That does nothing for you as a team, and I thought defensively they hung in there and they played hard. I thought our front played probably their best football to this point of the year.

“It’s got to get much better as we get into Big Ten play offensively. Three-and-outs and turnovers in the third quarter -- time of possession affects your football team in a lot of ways … momentum and all those things. So we have to do a much better job executing and being more consistent blocking at the line of scrimmage. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.

“In the kicking game, I thought Matt Wile did a nice job punting the football, and I thought his kickoffs -- he really placed the ball well. He had one kickoff that was in the middle of the field, but everything else I thought he did a tremendous job. And that was a good sign of a guy that’s maturing as a freshman.”

Is Will Hagerup’s suspension over, and does he have to compete to get his position back? “They’ll compete. We’re going to compete in everything we do. I think that’s an important part of your development as a program. I think that’s how you improve as a program. They’ll compete during the week.”

Cam Gordon dressed but did not play -- at this point is it his conditioning or is the injury still affecting him? “I think he’s just not 100% yet. I think he’s just not where he needs to be yet.”

13 for 13 in the Red Zone. What makes you so successful there? “I don’t know if there’s a magical answer. I mean, I think part of it is always you have some pretty good luck. Things are going well. I think we’re blocking it decently. I think the different options that Al presents to some degree within the offense makes [us] a little bit tougher to defend.”

Denard’s incompletions. You said it wasn’t all Denard. When you look at the film did you see problems with other things, too? “It’s definitely not all him. I mean, route running -- we blew two routes. We didn’t convert on another route. That’s part of it. He’s got a lot of pride, and he’s going to also help himself with some of the technical and technique -- fundamental parts of being a little more patient with his feet and doing a good job with that.”

What led to strong start against SDSU, and how do you replicate that? “It’d be great to replicate it every week. I think we had a great week of practice. I think our preparation was good. From a defensive standpoint, they really did a nice job of preparation. I thought Greg did a nice job with the plan, and Al did too.”

(more after the jump)

MGoPodcast 3.4: And There Was Much Rejoicing

MGoPodcast 3.4: And There Was Much Rejoicing

This week on the podcast:

I fixed the iTunes feed.

I eeee like a little girl about fourth and two. Naturally.

Offensive bitching is considerably more restricted. We get a little bit in but focus more on things we liked.

Jake Ryan is polarizing. At least in the short term.

Turnovers are debated. Luck or skill? Actually it was more like lots of luck and some skill or equal parts luck and skill.

Ace kills segments like a rock star. They dead, yo.

Jamiemac appears. We discuss the Big Ten slate, which is mercifully devoid of MAC snackycakes. Just Cover is his blog, which you should go to.

Musical interludes this week include a double shot of Stars's "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," which is lovingly dedicated to Kyle Turley, and R.E.M.'s "Fall On Me" for no reason other than R.E.M. ceasing to exist.

The usual links:

Next week: more!

Boot On The Other Throat

Boot On The Other Throat

Submitted by Brian on September 26th, 2011 at 11:11 AM

9/24/2011 – Michigan 28, San Diego State 7 – 4-0

imagebracelets-doylebrunson2005hokesmug

A long, long time ago now a Lloyd-Carr coached Michigan team was struggling through the 2005 season when they met Northwestern. A lot of throws to Tacopants (Jason Avant's 11-foot-tall imaginary friend) on both sides later, Michigan emerged with a 33-17 win and I embarked on one of the first of an endless procession of stat-nerd diatribes about the evils of punting.

You've probably heard it already: punting decisions have not kept pace with the increasingly offensive nature of the game, leaving coaches in a perpetual state of risk- and win-avoidance. Romer paper, Pulaski High, Mathlete chart. Etc.

In this particular Northwestern game, though, Carr went for it on fourth and five from the Northwestern 23, a decision I thought was too aggressive(!). When paired with a number of similarly aggressive calls from earlier that season, it seemed like a sea change for the old man:

In multiple cases he's made tough, correct decisions: going on fourth and goal from the one against Wisconsin, pounding it into the line twice against Michigan State, etc. Even when the strategy has backfired, he accepts the downside and persists in a more aggressive posture.

In context, the Penn State gaffe seems more like one last hit of that sweet Bombay Popsicle* snuck in-between rehab sessions than evidence of 1970s thinking taking hold. Lloyd Carr has checked himself in to the Betty Ford Center for Coaches Addicted to Low Variance. I wouldn't expect a flying-colors discharge any time soon, but he's made the first, biggest step.

*[I don't know either.]

That change lasted into the fourth quarter of that year's Ohio State game. Having acquired a two-score lead by converting a fourth and inches around the Michigan 40, Carr reverted to his primitive instincts at the crucial moment. With three minutes left from the Ohio State 40, he called for a wide receiver screen on third and ten. It gained six yards. With a two point lead, three minutes on the clock, no Ohio State timeouts left, and a fourth and four on the Ohio State 34, Carr punted. Ohio State drove for a touchdown; Carr would never again have the opportunity to kill a game against the Buckeyes.

In the moment, Carr choked. Six years on that single decision seems like the best way to explain why a lot Michigan fans found his tenure frustrating despite its high rate of success: the program was perpetually making poor decisions because a combination of fear and arrogance. Something could go wrong if you made a high variance decision, and Michigan could spit on expected value because This Is Michigan. See any game in which Michigan acquired an 18-point lead or the first half of the Orange Bowl for confirmation.

Carr coached like he had a kickass running game and killer defense no matter the facts, which was the difference between being a legend and a being a B+ coach who lost the battle with Tressel authoritatively. Hell, even Tressel blew games when he failed to adjust to the reality that sometimes his defense and special teams were not enough, and he ran roughshod over the Big Ten for nine years.

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

Part of the reason a segment of the Michigan fanbase (including the author) blew up at Hoke's hire is because it seemed to represent a return to that expectation-spurning 1970s decision-making.

Brady Hoke put a lot of those fears to rest by going for—and getting—the win against Notre Dame with eight seconds left. That decision was a no-brainer. If the field goal team had run out onto the field, I would have been livid. That was a test he passed, but it was one with a low bar.

On Saturday, Hoke sent out the punting team with about two and a half minutes left in the first half. It was fourth and two around midfield, and I was mildly peeved. It was not the percentage play, but I've watched a lot of football and it seemed too much to hope that even the rootin'est, tootin'est, eyepatch-wearingest pirate of a head coach would go for it. Needing more than a sneak and up fourteen in the first half, the world punts. My peevishness was directed at football coaches in general, not Hoke in particular.

And then.

And then an angel came down from the sky, and signaled timeout. Great trumpets erupted from the flagpoles, playing a fanfare as a golden staircase descended. Each of the steps was engraved with the names of World Series of Poker winners. Down from the clouds strode Doyle Brunson, clad in a jacket of hundred-dollar bills. And lo, Texas Dolly spaketh unto the people: "check-raise." Brady Hoke sent the offensive line onto the field.

This was a really, really good decision. Even if you don't believe the exact outlines of the Mathlete's calculations, it is not close: average offense versus average defense means the break-even line is around eight yards. This was not an average situation. Michigan had Denard Robinson against a pretty horrible run defense. And that number does not take into account the game situation. If Michigan gets the first down they are almost certainly robbing San Diego State of a possession. Punting gets you thirty, forty yards of field position. Getting the first down puts you in good position to score and is essentially another +1 in turnover margin. You need two yards and you have Denard Robinson.

(caption) Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson breaks away from the San Diego State defense for a big gain in the second quarter. Robinson rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, a 9.5-yards-per-carry average. He struggled in the passing game, however, completing just 8 of 17 passes for 93 yards with two interceptions.  *** After jumping out to a 21-0 lead by halftime, courtesy of three rushing touchdowns by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, the Wolverines turned the ball over three times in the second half, but held on to beat coach Brady Hoke's former team, the San Diego State Aztecs 28-7 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Photos taken on Saturday, September 24, 2011. ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )

stealing a joke from the internet: the guy on the right looks like he just looked into the Ark of the Covenant. via the News.

One speed option later Michigan was en route to the endzone and had essentially ended the game. Without that massively +EV decision they go into halftime up maybe 14, maybe 11, maybe 7 points. That ugly third quarter becomes the gut-check time most were predicting before the game. Maybe Michigan comes out on top (24-21, say). Maybe not. That didn't happen because when Michigan had its boot on San Diego State's neck, Hoke called Z 22 stomp right.

The Lloyd Carr example above shows we don't know that Hoke's going to do this consistently, that he'll stick to the non-pejorative MANBALL when the pressure is at its greatest, but so far so good. Even my doubts about Hoke's ability to math up in the waning moments of an Ohio State game are faint. When things go wrong he does not scowl or pout or throw headsets like Rich Rodriguez or Brian Kelly or Bo Pelini. He does not go on tilt. He calmly talks to guys about what in the hell they were thinking.

Hoke continues to leave best-case scenarios in the dust. Saturday night I watched Dennis Erickson punt on fourth and five from the USC 37 and thought "my coach would never do that." Then I watched Erickson chew out the punter who put the ball in the endzone because that's what happens when you punt from the 37 and thought "my coach would never do that."

That felt good. It felt invent-a-time-machine-to-assure-yourself-its-all-going-to-be-okay good. It feels like Michigan has finally learned how to gamble.

+EV Non-Bullets

Boy do I want to play poker with certain people on the internet. Evaluating the decision has popped up on every Michigan message board. It's mostly been met with praise, but man, there are a lot of people who can't estimate and multiply out there. Maybe it's Carr Stockholm syndrome.

Photoset. The SDSU photoset comes via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer:

A reminder: anything on the MGoBlog photostream is creative-commons licensed, free to use for non-commercial applications. Attribution to Eric Upchurch, the Observer, and MGoBlog is appreciated.

Mark Huyge is delighted to be here. From the above SDSU photoset.

huyge-1huyge-2huyge-3

It's not quite the Molk death glare. It's more like Shifty-Eyed Dog.

Try to look at Mark Huyge ever again without having that play in your head.

Eric also managed to get a picture of Denard looking sad after a win, which I thought was not possible, and this shot of a fully-padded Van Bergen about to opine on Kant:

ryan-van-bergen-kant

That's a great question. Just as our rationality leads us to a belief in an objective reality, Kant believed there is an objective morality we can locate from the same process. The Categorical Imperative is an absolute, fundamental moral law on par with Minnesota losing to teams from the Dakotas. Things are either right or wrong—there are no gray areas, and context does not apply. You could call him the BJ Daniels of philosophy*.

*[Ten-cent summary of Kantian philosophy cribbed from Three Minute Philosophy, which is terrific. Philosophers wishing to quibble with my paraphrase of a comedic summary are invited to consider the moral consequences of their actions and also jump in a lake. USF fans wishing to WOO BJ DANIELS can skip to the latter.]

And the internet eeeed Countess. When Troy Woolfolk headed to the sidelines, all Michigan fans everywhere winced. When Blake Countess replaced JT Floyd in the third quarter, all Michigan fans everywhere prepared for the deluge.

It never came, and as a result everyone from my uncle to the internet to the newspapers are having little freakouts about Michigan's #4 corner. I am with all of you. The only thing stopping Countess from having a few PBUs or interceptions was Ryan Lindley's inability to throw the ball anywhere near the guys Countess had blanketed but Lindley targeted anyway.

For most of the third quarter I stopped watching the offensive backfield and started watching downfield coverage and while I won't be able to confirm this on the tape I think Countess was doing really well even when people weren't going after him. I'm with the rest of the internet when I suggest that Troy Woolfolk should take the Minnesota game off to recover from his multiple nagging injuries so we can see some more of the freshman.

I thought Avery did well, too. He had a third-down slant completed on him and was the DB victimized on the touchdown but in both cases he was right there tackling/raking at the ball. Is he doing something wrong I'm not perceiving yet? Because I think he's playing better than Woolfolk, who gave up some groan-worthy easy completions. (I don't blame him for allowing Hillman to bounce on one third down conversion because he was clearly held.)

Release the Martin. This week in the I-told-you-so files: Mike Martin is just fine. His good day last week was obscured by EMU never throwing and having quite a bit of success attacking away from him. Against SDSU he was nigh unblockable, bowling a veteran offensive line over backwards multiple times and drawing holding calls left and right. Craig Roh had two big plays and will show up doing little things when I do the UFR; Will Campbell had a couple of line-pushing plays. Hillman's YPC was still over five, so there are issues but I think a big chunk of them are localizable to…

Problems. So… everyone's talking up Jake Ryan, too. I'm with everyone in a general, long-term sense but a little less enthused about his performance on Saturday. One of the results of the first few weeks of UFRing/picture paging is that whenever the opponent tries to get outside I immediately focus on Ryan. Result from last week: three "aaargh Ryan" screams that no one in my section comprehended. He's still giving up the corner way too easy.

Also, there are two caveats to an otherwise encouraging performance from the secondary. One: Lindley and his receivers were flat bad as a group. Drops, bad routes, and bad throws artificially boosted Michigan's efficiency against him. Some of that was caused by pressure. Some of it was just a crappy opponent. Two: I wonder if Michigan's familiarity with the SDSU offense allowed them to beat the Aztecs' favorite routes into Michigan DBs heads.

Still, 5.3 YPA and actual depth at corner. +1 Mallory.

Offensive construction bits. Another week, another confirmation that running Denard is the offense. While I still groan whenever they line up under center, snaps from there were limited. I would really prefer it if they never ran I-form power on first and ten again, though. They've mixed in some inexplicably effective short play action so far; if they can't run that will probably dry up.

Things I liked: That screen to Smith. The essence of an RPS+3 is when three offensive linemen have no one to block for 30 yards. And then the much-discussed speed option debuted. I'd gotten a couple insider emails telling me it was part of the offense but thought it would be extremely bad form to publish that, so I'd been waiting. It was quite a debut.

I'm hoping we see Borges add wrinkles at the same rate Rodriguez did. He'll have to to keep the run offense ahead of the wolves. He's off to a good start.

vincent-smith-sdsu

via the Detroit News.

Tailbacks. I'm suddenly happy with Michigan's tailback situation after Vincent Smith made a lot of yards on his own, including the above touchdown where he kept his balance at about the five and managed to drag a safety into the endzone. There was also the zone play where he squeezed through a crack in the line it's possible literally no other D-I back would have fit through.

Toussaint, meanwhile, didn't have the yards Smith did but ran hard on the inside; I still like him best but understand if they're going to split duties between the top two. I feel bad for Shaw—maybe it's time to put him on kickoffs? He's got speed Smith does not.

The Denard question. So they did run a curl-flat. Denard went to the curl way late and threw his first interception. Not sure if that was schemed or just bad execution by the offense. If it's the latter that might be attributable to not running it over the offseason as Borges attempted to install his route packages, route packages that now seem like things Denard just can't do.

A three-point plan in an attempt to get Denard back on track:

  1. Stop throwing on the run.
  2. Provide some easy throws early—all hitch, snag—in an effort to get him calmed down.
  3. Develop some sort of counter-punch to the opponent getting all up in Denard's face on the rollout PA. A shovel pass?

Bending but not breaking. Michigan's giving up a lot of yards but not a lot of points. Frankly, some of this is luck. They are acquiring turnovers at an unsustainable rate. Not unsustainable for a mediocre defense, unsustainable for Michigan 1997. When the well dries up they'll do some more breaking.

The other thing is the secondary. Michigan's newfound ability to make plays on deep balls and Jordan Kovacs being stone-cold reliable (so far /crosses self) have erased cheap touchdowns for the opposition. WMU's touchdown came on a 15-play drive. ND touchdown drives went 7, 10, 7, and 4 plays. San Diego State's took six plays but started from the Michigan 38. The only quick drive Michigan's given up all year was ND's desperation drive, on which Michigan gave up chunks on purpose because of the time situation and then tried an NFL-style defense they weren't ready for and blew it. The longest touchdown other than that was the 16-yard pass Lindley hit in the third quarter.

Opponents have ripped off chunks on occasion, but they have not been handed free touchdowns. Michigan's at least making them earn it. That's a necessary first step on the road away from completely awful.

The next opponent. When Minnesota managed to hang with USC on the first weekend of the season they seemed like they might be more intimidating than your average Minnesota team. Then they lost to Not Even The Good New Mexico and North Dakota State and seemed even less intimidating than your average Minnesota team. Compounding matters: Jerry Kill is again out of commission with his seizure issue.

Drumline? Drumline:

Here

I did not VOAV this week for reasons of being spooked. Boyz In The Pahokee provided the usual bounty if you are jonesing.

ST3 goes Inside the Box Score:

Matt Wile. Wait, let me try that again. MATT WILE!!! Yeah, I think he was properly pumped up to play his Dad's team. Net yards per kickoff were 50 for SDSU and 49.2 for UofM. To be even on kickoffs is a win for us. Net yards per punt were 34.7 for SDSU and 43.5 for Michigan. To gain almost a full first down per punt is huge. Two punts were inside the 20, and two were 50+ yards. #82, Terrance Robinson had 2 ST tackles and did a great job as the gunner on punts.

Wile's just lost his punting job; if that allows him to improve his kickoffs and compete for the field goal job, Michigan's kicking could be one of those strength things by midseason. 

Lordfoul's weekly Hoke for Tomorrow:

Michigan needs Hagerup back.  Maybe Hagerup isn't the only answer.  Wile's kicks are improving it would seem, both on KOs and punts, possibly because his nerves are settling down.  Kickoffs regularly made it to the goal line and only 1 of 4 punts was returned for much while they averaged 49 yards per with a long of only 51(!).

Player participation notes from jtmc33.

Elsewhere

Media, as in files: Brady Hoke pointing at something. Hugs and Ryan Van Bergen's ripped jersey. AnnArbor.com's photo gallery.

MVictors got a few sideline shots, including SDSU's mascot:

1montazuma_thumb[1]

You see that conch shell he's got in his hand? At some point in the first half he was talking into it like it was a cell phone. That is all.

Media, as in blog rabble. BWS hops aboard the Countess bandwagon and points out Denard can't throw.

MGoBlog : The Big Lebowski :: The Hoover Street Rag : The Hunt For Red October:

After the Notre Dame game, I tweeted very simply: "And the singing, Captain?" "Let them sing."  The moment was too good to start worrying about the future.  But at some point, the future arrives and you need to deal with it.  How well prepared you are for that future plays a large role in how well you're able to handle it when the moment arrives.  The non-conference schedule, particularly one played as four games at the start of the season should, theoretically, be a nice combination of challenges and the working out of kinks.  Before the mission starts, you must know the capacity and capabilities of your crew.

Touch the Banner provides the usual breakdown, says we should see "no one" less on the defense. Whoah. MGoFootball highlights the tailbacks, says D is a live.

Media, as in local newspaper. John Niyo on the defense, which is extant. Chengelis on the fact the team is not vintage. San Diego State had big pictures of their former coaches as signals. The Daily on RVB's Hillman chase:

Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen caught Hillman from behind inside the 10-yard line and knocked the ball loose for the second fumble.

Try reading it this way: a 288-pound defensive tackle caught the nation’s second-leading rusher from behind in the open field — 30 yards away from the line of scrimmage.

Van Bergen got a block from fifth-year senior defensive tackle Mike Martin, but most of his help came from practice.

“But when it comes down to it, we have the most explosive player in the country in our backfield,” Van Bergen said. “We get to play against (junior quarterback) Denard (Robinson), so we’ve learned how to take angles at guys who have speed.

“I took off on my horse just thinking, ‘I’ve almost caught Denard before, maybe I can catch this guy.’ ”

AnnArbor.com writes similarly. The San Diego perspective:

“They were very emotional after the game, depressed, disappointed, upset, however you want to say,” said Long, whose team dropped to 3-1 after Saturday’s 28-7 defeat. “It was a very emotional locker room after the game and not in a good sense.”

They probably would have done a “poor job” of answering questions, Long said, so he kept them behind closed doors. “It’s my job to protect them,” Long said Sunday. “This is not pro football.” …

"The defense got shocked by the speed of especially one guy (Robinson),” Long said. “They got shocked by the strength they had up front and the speed of quarterback early in the game.”

Nesbitt on Denard's twitter adventure. Meinke points out Michigan's massive uptick in red zone efficiency:

• Offensively, Michigan is 13-for-13 on red-zone opportunities. It is one of 13 teams in the country to have scored on every trip inside the 20-yard line this year.

• Even better? The Wolverines have scored touchdowns on 12 of those 13 trips. That 92-percent touchdown rate trails only Texas Tech nationally.

One of the main arguments made in favor of Shotgun Forever is that red zone efficiency is not a stat that shows much repeatable skill year to year and that the huge chunks of yards Michigan picked up without, you know, scoring in 2010 would turn into points if you just left the damn thing alone (and got a kicker). The early returns are excellent.

National takes. Smart Football:

- Michigan 28, San Diego State 7. Brady Hoke’s new team faced his old team, and I’m still not sure, despite their 4-0 record, that we know anything about this Michigan football team. The defense seems to be improving under DC Greg Mattison, but they’ve been using so much movement and motion to cover up their talent weaknesses it’s unclear how the defense will fare against a polished opponent. And while the offense has found a better rhythm running a Rich Rodriguez-lite Denard Robinson attack — including Denard’s long TD run on the speed option — his passing line was abysmal: 8 of 17 for 93 yards, no TDs and two interceptions. He’s obviously uncomfortable in the new offense. He looked like a more polished and comfortable passer last year. I chalk some of this up to the fact that the very techniques he’s using are new, but he’s going to have to improve for UM to have success. That said, given Michigan’s favorable schedule — no Wisconsin and the easy part of the Big 10 schedule up next — we may not learn anything about Michigan until the last three weeks of the season, when they play Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio State.

No one else bothered. A couple weeks after puntosauring himself into a loss against Iowa State, BHGP documents Kirk Ferentz opening Iowa's game against ULM in a shotgun spread, demonstrating the Carr thing above perfectly.