Opponent Watch: Week 5

Opponent Watch: Week 5

Submitted by Heiko on October 4th, 2012 at 6:25 PM

The Road Ahead:

Purdue (3-1)

Last game: Marshall 41, Purdue 51 (W)

Recap: Purdue’s defense gave up 534 yards and 41 points to a middling C-USA team, but this was okay because Purdue had a 42-14 lead going into halftime and ended up with four takeaways on the day due to the fast and loose nature of Marshall’s offense. The Boilermakers were never really in danger of losing, but for argument’s sake let’s go with the storyline that QB Caleb Terbush’s brilliant performance (27/37, 294 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT) saved the day. Who needs Robert Marve when you have Drew Brees under center. Yeah.

(As Ace noted in his FFFF yesterday, most of these were screen passes, so really, credit goes to the skill guys).

Purdue didn’t do much on the ground, where they averaged a little under 3 ypc. Most of their offense was generated by screens and quick passes. If lingering concern still exists about Michigan’s defensive front, it shouldn’t matter much against Purdue. Most of the action will go outside.

Defensively the Boilermakers got papercutted to death. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato (45/68, 439 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT) … well you can just read his stats to see how that went. Unfortunately Michigan has eschewed the dink-and-dunk offense for a Big Boy NFL vertical passing game, so it’s unlikely that Denard will have as much production through the air compared with Cato. But for the amount of hype Purdue CB Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen have generated over the offseason, that kind of a ho-hum day (although they each did record a pick-six) seems reasonable to believe that there is room to get guys open against them. Again, different offenses, different game plan, but there is room for optimism.

This team is as frightening as: Notre Dame lite. Fear level = 5.

Michigan should worry about: This is the team Michigan will likely need to beat twice in order to reach the Rose Bowl.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: If Michigan can beat them on the road, they can beat them on a neutral site, eh?

When they play Michigan: The same sorts of matchups and opportunities exist against Purdue that existed against Notre Dame: a stout defensive front with key weaknesses behind them and a mediocre offense led by solid but uninspiring quarterback play. Michigan should succeed with a more conservative game plan on offense that emphasizes the ground game (just don’t run at Kawann Short) and easy reads for Denard. Michigan’s defense should take care of the rest.

Next game: vs. Snake Oil Emporium.

Opponent Watch: Week 4

Opponent Watch: Week 4

Submitted by Heiko on September 27th, 2012 at 11:38 AM

About Last Saturday:

Happiness - 6, Unhappiness - 13. 

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images


The Road Ahead:

Purdue (2-1)

Last game: Bye.

Recap: This was the B1G’s best performance last weekend in which cruelty to animals was not involved.

Next game: vs. Marshall

Opponent Watch: Week 3

Opponent Watch: Week 3

Submitted by Heiko on September 20th, 2012 at 5:17 PM

About Last Saturday:

Baby Seal 13, Club 63

The internet is a strange place.


The Road Ahead:

No. 11 Notre Dame (3-0)

Last game: Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 3 (W)

Recap: Another Michigan fan on twitter suggested that watching this game was like watching two douchebags trying to get with your sister at Rick’s. If that’s the case, congratulations to Notre Dame for the equivalent of having more than three dollars to pay for her drinks.

Anyway, Football. Right. The Irish beat Michigan State by a healthy margin. After scoring twice in the first half to get to a 14-3 lead, Sparty never came close to breaking the chokehold despite holding the Notre Dame offense to a pair of field goals in the second half. The Irish front seven was just as impressive as Michigan State’s. Their defensive line ran through Sparty’s offensive line on nearly every play, which made life miserable for MSU QB Andrew Maxwell (23/45, 187 yards) in passing situations. They limited RB Le’Veon Bell’s (19 carries, 77 yards) effectiveness such that Michigan State had to abandon using him in the second half. More importantly, the pass rush allowed the inexperienced secondary to make a few plays on Sparty’s equally inexperienced receivers.

The linebackers impressed as well, and Manti Te’o (12 tackles, 2 PBU) was Manti Te’O, despite dealing with the tragedy of losing both his girlfriend and grandmother just days earlier. There are lots of Notre Dame players who are very easy to root against. Te'o is not one of them.

Offensively Notre Dame was underwhelming but relatively error-free. The game plan was to rely on the defense to win the game, so offensive playcalling focused on the ground game save for a couple spectacular big plays that ultimately resulted in points. The conservative approach resulted in some ugly stats like 1 of 14 on third down conversions, but it won the game, so I won’t criticize. I’d be surprised if the Irish deviate from that plan against Michigan since offensive errors cost them the last two games in the series.

This team is as frightening as: Windows 7. The previous version was buggy and unintuitive and too complicated with all the bells and whistles -- it sucked. This one looks like it could actually be viable for the long term, but by this point pretty much everyone owns a Mac. Bill Gates was so last century. Regardless, fear level = 8.

Michigan should worry about: An Alabama redux. If Michigan doesn’t hit a bunch of passes early, there will be no room for either Denard or Fitz to run.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: With S Jamoris Slaughter out, Notre Dame’s secondary looks an awful lot like NEVER FORGET. Michigan might actually be able to hit a bunch of passes early.

When they play Michigan: If this were any other game, I wouldn’t bother getting my hopes up for a Michigan win. But it’s Notre Dame, and weird things happen when Michigan plays Notre Dame.

Next game: vs. No. 18 Michigan


Dear Diary Killed the Last Honorable Man

Dear Diary Killed the Last Honorable Man

Submitted by Seth on September 14th, 2012 at 3:07 PM

"That was the finest beating I ever took."

Define the scope of the problem. After the Bama game I texted with my best friend Tres. Tres lives deep in SEC country, where the only conversation anyone ever has about college football is about how the SEC is better at it. So of course big Michigan—the Michigan that tripped up Tebow and outscored Shawn Alexander—getting gutted by the Crimson Tide has made his life oh so pleasant the last two weeks. Tres suggested that game was like when Amsterdam first tries to kill the Butcher. Walking into Bill's great big Dallas party and chucking it long to Devin Gardner while not getting Denard lit up was always doomed to fail, and in such a way that not even a moral victory might be claimed. So was going toe to toe and talent for talent with Saban the Butcher. But it's also that point in the movie when you learn what it takes to beat Bill: recruit your own army and come at him from the front.

hokeandlloydHere's Ball State's old head coach talking to his players—among them mgouser IncrediblyBLUE—after "quieting the Big House" and losing…

He told us we needed to build on the positives, that we needed to use the energy we had taken with us to Ann Arbor and move forward to the rest of the season.  This my friends, is when Coach Hoke told us that "a moral victory is still a .... loss."

This is how far you need to get, and if you don't get there you lose. Let it be a lesson.

I've almost exhausted the amount of times I can be like "I met this football player once" but there's one last important nugget from when I chatted up MSU LB Chris Norman for an hour at an airport. This is about when they played Alabama in that Citrus Bowl a few years ago. It was a blowout but according to Norman it was the most important game they ever played. Paraphrasing, facing Bama showed them exactly how far they needed to get. Players don't care who was a 3-star and who in the Rivals 100—they get on the field with guys like Dont'a Hightower or Courtney Upshaw and see linebacking done right.

We now know how far Michigan needs to get to win Hoke a championship.

More problem solving after the jump

Opponent Watch: Week 2

Opponent Watch: Week 2

Submitted by Heiko on September 13th, 2012 at 7:37 PM

About Last Saturday:

Air Force 25, Michigan 31

Your wings got helmets.


The Road Ahead:

UMass (0-2)

Last game: Indiana 45, UMass 6 (L)

Recap: A baby seal walks into a club and says, "Ow."

This team is as frightening as: A couple reps with a five-pound dumbbell in the middle of a workout that has so far consisted of bench-pressing an elephant and 60 minutes of CrossFit. Fear level = 1.

Michigan should worry about: Hey guys, I really don’t think we need to worry about this one.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Like for real.

Mike Cox: Is three inches bigger.

When they play Michigan: Key matchup will be me (-7) vs. press box food. “Ermahgerd” over/under is set at 10.5.

Next game: No. 17 Michigan


Mailbag: Unbalanced Lines, Turkmenistan, The Nature And Purpose Of Slanting

Mailbag: Unbalanced Lines, Turkmenistan, The Nature And Purpose Of Slanting

Submitted by Brian on September 7th, 2012 at 10:58 AM

In re: "who are you optioning?"

This is a weird formation, right?  Lewan is eligible receiver, Kwiatkowski is not?

It's a little weird. Neither Lewan or Kwiatkowski are eligible in that formation. Lewan wears an ineligible number; Kwiatkowski is covered up by a receiver outside of him. I call these formations "unbalanced" when I talk about them.

They're not that weird, though. Teams do it to screw with the defense's alignment, test various things, etc. If the play ends up being a pass you've declared that you've only got four receivers, but since the tight end can pass block you're still playing 11 on 11.

Occasionally you'll see Michigan line up with two receivers on the line of scrimmage to the same side. This drives me nuts since the slot guy may as well not exist. This was more common under Rodriguez but IIRC Borges did do it a couple times last year. These are always runs, and usually short ones if the defense notices the alignment, which it seems like they always do.

Why do coaches do this? They're trying to mess up a defense's alignment keys and get easy yards. It's the same principle at work whenever a wide receiver lines up at fullback and motions out to the flank, or when a running back ends up lined up way on the outside.


welcome to turkmenistan

Join our flaming crater!

What effect do you think the 'Bama game will have on recruiting? Much to my surprise many fans think neutral or positive.

Peter F

I don't think it will have much, if any. Michigan's down to a couple of scholarships in the next class. By the time the 2014 kids start committing in numbers, Michigan will have played 12-13 additional games and the Alabama debacle will be a lot less relevant than it seems right now.

If it's going to hurt, it'll be with Derrick Green and LaQuon Treadwell. I don't think anyone was optimistic about Green after Auburn popped up even before Saturday; Treadwell is more of a mystery. We'll see.

In general, short-term results are not the be all and end-all in recruiting. See Charlie Weis, Ron Zook, etc. You either have it until such point as your job is under threat or you're at Kansas, or you don't.

An update on the Stubhub thing.

Hi Brian,

Just a quick heads up that UM still appears to have their relationship in place with StubHub.  I received an email on Friday from the Michigan Ticket Office proclaiming, “Don't forget to use our online Marketplace (in its second successful year in service) to easily resell your tickets electronically.”  I know you mused about whether this relationship was still in place after StubHub referred to UM as a former partner, so I wanted to pass along.

Take care,


False alarm. Still amazed at that MBA who managed to make counterfeit tickets incredibly easy to manufacture unless you were selling through Stubhub. Probably laughing moooooohahahahaha right now in a lair somewhere.

fbz3gg[1]Inversion. Also, this section sponsored by Slanty the Gecko, inexplicably the first hit in Google Images for "line slant football," or at least it was a year ago.

Steve Sharik, a former high school who you may remember posting some great diaries a couple years back, sent me an email about what happened to the defense; I responded with a question, and he answered. So let's put me in a yellow box:

It looks like Michigan is slanting the DL a lot to get their guys in gaps between the massive OL and set up an obvious cutback lane in which the LBs are supposed to be 2v1, but rarely do both of them get there. It's so consistent that it almost seems like I have to be wrong. I want the LBs to absolutely tear ass for the gap behind the slanting DT (usually they leave the DE to contain the backside). Instead they check up for cutbacks constantly that seem like the DL's job. Am I crazy?



Slanting does two things to zone blocking:

  1. If I'm an OL zone blocking to the right, and the guy on my outside who I'm supposed to block goes left, there is a natural tendency to go after my guy.
  2. More importantly, slanting the DL gets penetration, which wreaks havoc on zone blocking.

Recall how effectively OSU slanted against us in 2007 (yes, that screen shot).


the most infamous

What would continually happen was the ball would show in a hole a LB was supposed to fill, which was done fine, but the hole was created so well that there essentially are two gaps where there was once one: there is space on both sides of the lead blocker, so the filling LB has to pick one, meaning the extra LB/S/C has to fill the other one. Consistently this second, unblocked defender was late and too far away, creating a seam in the run defense.

[ED: This came up last year too. I complained about Brandin Hawthorne not getting past a blocker against EMU. Michigan has been short on free hitters.]

BONUS: we also had a discussion on that seam route Alabama hit early and Floyd tackled immediately on. I am still in a yellow box.

Sharik: Even the normally reliable Kovacs was bad.  Demens was in the wrong gap a few times, Morgan doesn't have a great feel for when to attack now or where to fit, and Kovacs and JT Floyd were very tentative.  In other words, our extra run defender (when the QB is turning around and handing it off, they're playing 10 v. 11, so we should have an extra, unblocked defender vs. the run) was late to the party or in the wrong gap, creating the huge seams you saw.  Even vs. the pass, on their conversion on a 3rd and long, Kovacs went to wide and too aggressively to re-route a seam, and ended up being outside the numbers and too close to the LOS, thereby giving up the seam right behind him.

I caught that Kovacs thing, but thought the problem there was a crappy chuck on the guy. If he really jams him there the blitz should have time to get there or Floyd has time to get over. yes/no?

Against the pass, the defender responsible for the seam must stay on that seam--reroute the receiver off the seam.  You do this with both your horizontal and vertical position.  When Kovacs was so aggressive he took himself outside of the seam and stayed too close to the LOS, creating an open window for the seam.  The technique is to not gear up to hit the guy, but to shock, catch, and run.  If a guy is running in the seam, it almost looks like man coverage if the defender is playing his technique correctly.  (Actually it does look like man, the way to tell man or zone is by what other defenders are doing.)  Also, Floyd can't come over b/c he has deep 1/3 and the outside receiver was running a go route.

If Kovacs stays in the seam window, he doesn't have to take his eyes off the QB and he can eliminate the possibility of a throw without touching the WR.  And if their QB holds the ball b/c the seam isn't open, the blitz gets home (or at least has a better chance).

Actually, I think the designed route was an inside skinny; designed to be behind the Mike and in front of the Free.  The WRs job is to clear the seam defender, then post to the middle at about 10-15.  (Different coaches teach different depths, and different defenses command slightly different depths, as well as the drop of the QB--3, 5, 7 step.)


I am now out of a yellow box. When Steve mentioned that the slot defender on the seam often looks like man coverage, it made me think back to Courtney Avery consistently carrying receivers deep on similar routes, and wondering if that was what the intent was. We eventually figured it was—this was a BWS debate—and then last year Mattison flat out said so after Avery carried a seam route deep and Iowa got a 44-yard gain out of a simple crossing route; we asked what happened there and he said Countess got out of position.

Thanks to Steve for the input. Long way to go.

Opponent Watch: Week 1

Opponent Watch: Week 1

Submitted by Heiko on September 6th, 2012 at 5:41 PM

(Fear scale: 1 = UMass. 10 = Alabama)

About Last Saturday:

14 - I’m totally over it!, 41 - Haha over *twitch* what?

I do not remember this happening.


The road ahead:

Air Force (1-0)

Michael Ciaglo, Colarado Springs Gazette

Last game: Idaho State 21, Air Force 49 (W)

Recap: Let’s be honest: I didn’t watch this game. Nobody did. Not even Ace. Poor guy, though. Had to go down to Dallas and sit through the worst three hours of Michigan football since the Gator Bowl, and then had to break down film from a Notre Dame game. You know, my heart really goes out to him. He has a Facebook page. 1,000 likes and I’ll donate him half of my liver; 10,000 and I’ll throw in a kidney, too.

So word on the street is that Air Force bulldozed Idaho State for half a kilometer on the ground. This is completely unsurprising. Triple option teams are designed to put up 300 yards rushing on opponents like Alabama despite having far less talent in the traditional sense. 49-21 is therefore what happens when such a team plays someone that has even less talent than they do -- Idaho State is FCS.

News item: Air Force’s center Michael Husar, Jr. (Dad was a tackle for Michigan from ‘85-‘88) went down with an ACL/MCL tear. He was reputedly their best lineman, so look for their offense to be somewhat less impressive against Michigan. Get well soon, Michael.

This team is as frightening as: A fleet of MiG-15’s; Michigan is a squadron of B-52’s. Michigan will be fine as long as they get to their base before the other guys ever get off the ground. I realize that sounds a little strange, and I’m trying really hard not to say “bomb,” but the analogy works because the MiGs are smaller and have less firepower than the B-52’s, and during the Korean War … you know what screw it. Go read a book. Maybe you’ll learn something. Fear level = 3.

Michigan should worry about: Defense vs. triple option stuff. Close your eyes, cross your arms, and yell “LALALALALALA” if Kenny Demens never takes a step toward the line of scrimmage and as a result gets plowed by their backup center every other play.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: All their linemen are undersized because they’re the Air Force and the Air Force doesn’t make cockpits for fatties.

When they play Michigan: I will be sober. I promise.

Next game: In the Big House.

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Alabama

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Alabama

Submitted by Brian on September 6th, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Formation notes: Nothing unusual. Here's a kitten in some marshmallows.


Substitution notes: On the line we got a ton of people: the starting four (Roh-Campbell-Washington-Black), Ash, Pipkins, Beyer, and Brink. James Ross rotated through both MLB and WLB, replacing Demens or Morgan on about half the drives. Cam Gordon saw a few snaps in place of Ryan.

In the secondary, Michigan first moved Gordon down to nickel and brought in Jarrod Wilson. After the long touchdown on Avery they brought in Raymon Taylor as a one for one replacement for Countess.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 1
Michigan comes out with their nickel, moving Kovacs down into the box. Line is Ryan-Campbell-Roh-Beyer. Campbell(-1) and Roh(-1) get blown a yard or two off the ball Demens(+2) and Morgan(+2) have to flow very hard very fast; they do so, meeting linemen near the LOS before they can fully disengage. Demens gets outside his man and forces it back to Morgan; Campbell is also there.
O26 2 9 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 5 Hitch Floyd Inc
Ryan (+0.5, RPS +1, pressure +2) gets a free run off the edge. McCarron has to throw immediately and does to Lacy; dropped. Floyd looked like he was in okay coverage.
O26 3 9 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 4 Throwaway Ryan Inc
Morgan shows blitz, backs out. Michigan stunts; Ryan(+2) ducks inside the LT and runs through a crappy chip from the RB, getting pressure(+2) right up the middle as Black(+0.5) comes around the outside to contain. McCarron chucks it away.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Iso Demens 9
Countess gone now. Kovacs rolled up for an eighth guy. The second TE is lined up as an h-back on the boundary and roars up in a gap. Demens(-2) eats him two yards downfield and lets him outside; Morgan(-1) gets lost on the counter action. Roh(+0.5) had disengaged and tackles; could have tackled near the LOS if Demens hadn't gotten blown up.
O48 2 1 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Demens 2
Michigan slants away from the play, sending Ryan as they pull Black off the LOS. Roh(+1) ends up slanting into a double and gets buried, but holds up okay and does not allow anyone to get on the LBs. Demens(+1) flows into the hole next to Roh and gets a diving tackle on Lacy as he leaps; Morgan(-1) gets caught up in Roh's trash and cannot help. Otherwise this could be no gain.
50 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5? Waggle hitch Avery 7
I think this was a blitz the PA screwed up. There is no one on the edge(pressure -1) as McCarron turns, and it's an easy pitch and catch for him. Avery in coverage, not that close, does tackle on the catch.
M43 2 3 Ace 4-3 under Penalty -- False start -- -5
you gonna die now kid saban's gonna eat you
M48 3 8 Ace 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 5 Seam Floyd 19
Ryan gets dragged way out in to the slot. Play goes to the other side anyway. Michigan sends both LBs, dropping off Black short. Kovacs(-2, cover -2) goes for a chuck on the interior WR and doesn't get much; the routes are all past Black's little drop-off and the blitz is slow (Demens -0.5, Morgan -0.5, pressure -1); McCarron sees the big gap in the middle of the defense and hits it. Floyd tackles; he really had no choice here but to split the two WRs running in his zone and tackle. Kovacs has to get depth here as his man goes vertical. RPS -1.
M29 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Demens 14
Floyd rolled up. Michigan slants away from the playside again, which means the line gets sealed inside. The LBs have to be hauling ass. Demens(-1) gets caught up in a lineman who is falling as he releases, but is releasing on the snap so that is tough. Have to have some DL make a play. . Morgan is trying to reach but wasn't done any favors by his DL; Roh(-2) and Ryan(-2) end up getting blown back two yards by single blocks and Morgan ends up in a pile of bodies. Gordon comes up to keep leverage and is kicked by the FB; thanks to Demens there is no one Gordon is funneling to. Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) comes up to make a nice openfield tackle to prevent a TD. RPS -1; slant made things tough.
M15 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Roh 5
Morgan(-1) rushes at the LOS on some sort of blitz and gets chopped to the ground again. Roh(-1) gets blown out of his lane by his blocker. Brink(-1) also chopped to the ground on the backside. Washington(+0.5) actually gets some push and forces Yeldon into a relatively small hole. Demens is one on one with a guard and can't do much more than a helpless dive at feet. Gordon(+0.5, tackling +1) fills well.
M10 2 5 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Ash 5
Ash at NT. He's blown up(-2); Morgan(-1) is thumped backwards by the FB. Demens had no chance thanks to Ash getting blown up so fast.. They comboed him like it was nothing.
M5 1 G I-Form Big Goal line Run N/A Lead zone Heitzman 3
Michigan just chucking guys out there, anybody. Heitzman(-2) hurled to the ground and pancaked. This is the gap. Demens(+0.5) gets a good thwack on the FB at the LOS and forces it back inside, would be a no gain if that DE could just not die immediately. Guy who hurls Heitzman to ground then gets out on Morgan(-0.5); Black actually makes the tackle near the goal line.
M2 2 G I-Form Big Goal line Pass N/A PA TE corner Ryan 2
Ryan(-1, cover -1), loses the TE on the PA, but you can't blame him much.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q. Ugh, turn out the lights. Pick a DL, he got his ass kicked.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 PA throwaway Gordon? Inc
Ross has already replaced Morgan. Wilson playing FS. So much for no freshmen. Coverage(+2) is good off the PA; McCarron can't find anyone, at which point Ryan and Beyer are getting some pressure. He backs out and throws it away.
O33 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 16
Morgan back. M slants again. This gets the two DL past their blockers; Morgan(+1) flows hard to the cutback lane these guys just vacated. Center comes out on him but he's at the LOS already and has funneled. Demens(-2) sits and waits for the ball, getting blocked by a fullback three gaps away from the play. Campbell(-2) didn't help by getting pushed past the play.
O49 1 10 I-Form 4-3 even Pass 5 PA fly Avery 51
Play action. All day for McCarron (pressure -2); Avery (-3, cover -3) falls on the double move and guy is wide open.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-14, 5 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fly Floyd Inc
Overthrown and OOB. Floyd might have had a play.
M17 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 8
Pipkins in. Roh(+0.5) does a nice job to fight upfield of his guy at the numbers and force it back. Michigan has slanted to the boundary; Campbell's(-2) quickness gets him past his guy, and then he takes a terrible angle that is not along the LOS, so when the RB cuts back he's got a lane. Linebackers nowhere near the cutback, which I don't get since the line is slanting. They get swallowed.
M9 3 2 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Roh 9
Demens(+1) thunders into the FB at the LOS and forces a cut. There is one because Roh(-2) fought out of his gap and got shoved back; Floyd(-1, tackling -1) whiffs on Lacy afterwards. Mattison: "One of the touchdowns, for example, where Floyd missed the tackle in the hole, which would have been a two-yard gain, and he got a touchdown on it. Craig Roh just tried to make the play inside and should have stayed outside."
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-21, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ross 50
Nobody takes the C gap to the field. The line again slants to the boundary, and get under their guys. Penetration. Black is containing to the outside. Neither linebacker goes to the hole the line is funneling them to. Ross(-3), Morgan(-2), Kovacs(-0.5, tackling -1) for missing a tough tackle but not keeping leverage, Gordon(-1, tackling -1) for whiffing as he comes up, Taylor (-1, tackling -1) for whiffing, Ryan(-0.5, tackling -1) why am I doing this
M26 1 10 whatever whatever Penalty N/A False start -- -5
M31 1 15 Ace 3-wide Okie Run N/A Inside zone Morgan -3
M seven across the front, and they send six with Ross dropping off to clean up. Ryan gets upfield and forces it back, but he's way upfield, I don't think that's ideal. Beyer(+1) gets a little penetration and cuts off a cutoff lane the RB thinks about. Morgan(+2) beats a block and surges upfield as RB tries to break outside the tackles. RPS +1
M34 2 18 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Scramble Roh 15 – 15 pen
Roh(+1) fights inside the tackle and his held, but no call; hold makes him fall. This spooks McCarron and Beyer(+1) coming around the outside flushes him totally. Contain is broken and McCarron gets a bunch of yards, but the missed hold probably made that possible. Bama guy gets a PF for hitting Floyd in the head at the end of the play. Refs -1.
M34 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Screen -- 26
Michigan gets RPSed hard(-3), sending everyone to the same side they blitz on. Yeldon has a free first down.
M8 1 G I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Morgan 4
Again the slant, again LBs not flowing. Ross(+0.5) at least tears ass. Into a blocker, but okay. He pushes some guys back and makes the hole smaller. Kovacs cuts off the lead blocker and maintains leverage; Morgan(-1) slows up inexplicably and can only make contact from the side. Gordon(+0.5, tackling +1) meets him at the same time, preventing this from getting to the two.
M4 2 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Fade Avery Inc
M4 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 Throwaway N/A Inc
Michigan sends the house and gets free rushers(pressure +2, RPS +1). McCarron chucks it away. This should be grounding, as he's in the pocket.
Drive Notes: FG, 0-24, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Cross N/A Inc
No pressure (-2); decent coverage(+2) and a checkdown. With Ryan coming up probably a 4-6 yard gain if caught; dropped.
O47 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Ross 7
Big gap on the backside as the line slides towards the TEs. Alabama pulls one to the back, which neither LB reads, and kicks Black. Brink(-1) is blown up. Ross(-1) and Demens(-1) are gone. Kovacs is nominally in the box and comes down to tackle(+0.5, +1) as Hart breaks into the second level.
M46 3 3 Shotgun empty 4-3 under Pass 5 Sack Ryan -6
TE standing up a yard or two outside the line points Ryan out but no one picks him up. Ross is sent; Beyer backs out. Ryan(+1) flushes McCarron up into the pocket, where Ross(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) combine to sack.
Drive Notes: Punt, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Zone counter Kovacs -2
Not sure what to call this. Looks like standard inside zone blocking; QB flips the handoff around and gives it to the back going to the other side and he's headed backside from the start. Michigan is totally screwed on this with Beyer(-2) fighting inside and losing outside contain but for Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) shooting up past an attempted WR block and making a TFL.
O23 2 12 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 3
Ryan (+1) gets into the FB at the LOS to the inside and clogs up the hole; Roh(+1) also fights through a block and ends up taking the pulling guard as well. Lacy slows up, confused, and shows why he'll lose his job to TJ Yeldon by not shooting outside immediately. Michigan should have had a guy there but Demens(-1), unblocked, is just sitting behind the line. The delay allows an unblocked Beyer(+0.5) to tackle near the LOS.
O26 3 9 ??? ??? Run N/A Draw ??? 9
We're watching a close-up of JT Floyd for this whole play.
O35 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Quick out Demens 13
A five yard hitch turns into more as Demens(-1, cover -1) overruns the play.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Floyd 12
No pressure(-2), WR wide open for about 15 (Floyd –1, cover -1). Easy.
M40 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Roh 11
Roh stunts with Beyer and gets into the LT, knocking him back on his heels. LT then tackles him. No call. because Bama needs that kind of help. McCarron scrambles out and dumps it off to Lacy. (Pressure +1, Roh +1, Refs -2) Lacy gets a first down but runs out the clock as he does so. Fumble pops out, because this is when we really need a turnover.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-31, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle out Gordon 28
Coverage is fine here with Gordon prepped to make a tackle after this guy catches it three yards downfield; Gordon(-2, tackling -2) whiffs, turning this into big yards. Morgan(-1, tackling -1) compounds matters.
O48 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Pipkins 5
Pipkins in at NT. He gets good push(+1), driving the C back a couple yards and constricting any frontside hole. RB has to slow up awkwardly and cut back. Roh(-2) has taken a cut and gets up, then tries to do what he did on the earlier TD by over pursuing and getting out of his lane, opening up the backside. If he's more responsible likely TFL. Ryan then brings Yeldon down after he slices back upfield.
M47 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 15
Campbell(-2) ends up shoved two yards downfield and well down the line, opening up a big cutback lane. Pipkins(-1) took an angle too far upfield and helped open it up, too. Demens(+1) does a good job to dodge an attempted cut block and tackles as Yeldon shoots upfield; this is probably a touchdown-saving play.
O38 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 5 PA sack Campbell -16
Coverage(+2) is good, causing McCarron to hesitate. He spooks. Campbell(+2) has blasted the OL's hands down and starts coming around the edge. He has to go even further around as Black is now bull-rushing his guy back, but manages to get all the way around that and run the QB down for a sack. Impressive. (Pressure +2) Washington(+1) also beat a guy and forced a RB up; that's probably the reason for the McCarron spook.
M46 2 26 Ace Nickel even Pass 4 PA scramble -- 4
McCarron has nothing (coverage +2) and despite not getting any pressure just decides to take off. He gets a few.
50 3 22 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Tunnel screen Kovacs 15
Despite only sending four this gets dangerous. The LB to that side is sent and Michigan sends Beyer and Demens to the field; this goes to the boundary. Kovacs attacks this fantastically, getting past an attempted blocker, and... misses the tackle. He does delay the WR considerably, which helps the D rally. I'll give him a pass as this was a tough play. Gordon comes into tackle after a big gain, RPS -2; without that Kovacs play this could have been six. Bama has our screen number in this game.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(52), 7-31, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Zone counter Beyer 12
Again the backside DE here fails to keep contain. Beyer(-2) is the culprit. Kovacs is in man coverage and is not very useful; Michigan blitzed Morgan so there is no playside LB (RPS -1). Gordon(-0.5, tackling -1) comes up and misses a tackle but at least slows the guy and keeps leverage. Brink(-1) ended up on the ground, so even if Beyer contains there's a big hole to exploit.
M41 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 8
Brink(-1) is instantly doubled away and sealed; quick G release on Morgan. Morgan(+0.5) gets to the G about a yard downfield and does get outside of him, funneling back; Demens(-2) is slow to the hole and then misses the tackle(-1). Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) also there and spun through.
M33 2 2 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Ash 0
Ash(+2) beats a block by swimming under it and coming back behind the OL so that he's still in the hole. He takes on the lead blocker and forces Lacy to slow up. Demens(+0.5) is free and comes up to hit. Campbell(+0.5) helped out, too.
M33 3 2 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle flare -- Inc
McCarron doesn't have it long(cover +1) and tries to flip it to the back leaking out but biffs it. Hard to tell if this makes it.
Drive Notes: FG(51), 7-34, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Kovacs 8
M does not adjust to motion (RPS -1) and Black gets sealed inside by the TE. Demens(-2) runs up in that same gap and is sealed by same TE, so it's Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) on the outside with a blocker and a ton of space. Kovacs damn near makes an awesome play but doesn't and loses leverage, so the minus. Black(+0.5) was actually in position to tackle if Kovacs forces it back.
O33 2 2 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 18
Campbell(-2) drives his man back, but his angle is way too far directly upfield and then he gets cut, falling over. Morgan(-1) and Ross(-1) both got blown up. Black(-1) ran way too far upfield and opened this gap up even further. I screenshotted this. It's turrible by everyone relevant. Long way to go. Long way.
M49 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Ross 5
Michigan gets flanked a la MSU last year. Ross(-2) runs straight upfield, eliminating himself. The TE in position doesn't even have to block him, Kovacs gets walled off a bit but does come up to tackle once Floyd provides leverage at the numbers.
M44 2 5 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Pipkins 7
Pipkins(-2) blown up. Ross(-2) runs into his own OL instead of the FB.
M37 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Ross 0
Ross(+1) pops the FB at the LOS and shucks inside. Washington(+1) sheds his block around the LOS and provides a guy in the hole. Cam Gordon comes from behind to help out.
M37 2 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass N/A PA TE corner Taylor Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +1) is unblocked and dodges an RB block to get some token pressure that may see McCarron miss long on his TE; Taylor(-1, cover -1) had gotten sucked up on PA and this was open, but not mega-open.
M37 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Corner Avery Inc
Press coverage, Avery playing inside leverage, gets no chuck, lets slot have a step. Overthrown. Ryan and Roh got decent pressure from the edge, but it's a push.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-34, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 3
Washington(+0.5) holds up to a double decently; Campbell(+1) gives ground on a double at first but comes through it after the second guy releases to block Ross(+0.5), who is trying to shoot the gap and at least a little aggressive. Black comes through a block but I'm not sure if I like this or not because if the back is aware enough to cut outside of this it could break big. Back doesn't, instead grinding for a few yards.
O46 2 7 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 5 Waggle TE out Gordon 16
Gordon(-2, cover -2) bites hard on the play action, opening up not only the catch but a ton of YAC. RPS -1.
O38 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 11
Campbell(-2) gets clubbed to the ground by a double, which is a super quick release on Ross as a result. Kovacs(+0.5) attacks hard this time—makes me think he has not being doing well all game previous—and gets in for a tackle attempt at the LOS. He misses but at least forces the back away from the gaping hole Campbell left. Ash(-1) also got kicked pretty badly. Campbell could make a tackle now if he wasn't on the ground. Ross fights through his block and... misses a tackle(-1). Taylor comes in from the side to finish it.
O27 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ash 6
Ash(-2) blown three yards off the ball by a single block from the center. Morgan comes up hard and takes on a G near the LOS, forcing it back, but Ash getting blown up doesn't make that relevant. Ross(-1) also got chopped. If he remains up he could make a tackle at about three yards. Pursuit catches up after a few more.
O21 2 4 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power Brink -1
Brink(+2) manages to shoot between the gap left by the pulling guard, aided by the OT's odd decision to flare out on Beyer. He's falling but a couple yards oin the backfield, and tackles(+1) at his feet. Looked well defended otherwise. Heitzman(+0.5) and Washington(+0.5) but like whatevers.
O22 3 5 Shotgun trips TE Okie Pass 6 Fly Floyd Inc (Pen+15)
Mattison's zone blitz gets Roh(+1, pressure +2, RPS +1) in unblocked, forcing McCarron to chuck a hopeful one off his back foot. It is of course dead accurate. Floyd(-2, cover -2) is in good position but just gets outrun and ends up hooking the WR's arm, drawing a legit flag.
O7 1 G Ace twins twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Ross 6
Ross(-1) is sent on a blitz and shoots the gap between two blockers. He goes to the inside, gets shoved, and thus vacates his gap. RB hits gap. Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) gets run over at the five; Morgan has impressively leapt a cut block and manages to get him down before the goal line.
O1 2 G Goal line Goal line Run N/A Iso -- 1
They get it.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-41, 5 min 4th Q. Backups for both teams on the next two drives, charting ceases.

why are you doing this to me


i'm not doing anything


just leave me alone


Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Roh 7.5 8 -0.5 Surprised he came out this well.
Campbell 3.5 11 -7.5 Minor downgrade at this position.
Washington 3.5 - 3.5 ?!?!?!?!
Black 1 1 0 I guess.
Brink 2 4 -2 Blown up a couple times.
Ash 2 5 -3 See above.
Pipkins 1 3 -2 Etc.
Beyer 2.5 5 -1.5 Etc.
Heitzman 0.5 2 -1.5 Didn't register.
TOTAL 22.5 39 -16.5 erg
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 5.5 10 -4.5 And this was the best ILB play!
Demens 6 12.5 -6.5 Seemed marginally worse than Morgan.
Ryan 4.5 3.5 1 I may have not picked up some things he was doing that were bad.
C. Gordon - - - Nothing of note.
Ross 2.5 11 -8.5 Welcome to college.
Bolden - - - Garbage time.
Hawthorne - - - DNP.
TOTAL 18.5 37 -18.5 urgh
Player + - T Notes
Floyd - 4 -4 Bad PI extended Bama TD drive.
Avery - 3 -3 Big TD on his fall.
Taylor - 3 -3 One long TD on him.
Kovacs 4 5.5 -1.5 Poor day by his standards.
T. Gordon 1 5.5 -4.5 Missed tackles a plague.
Holowell - - - DNP
Wilson - - - Did not chart.
TOTAL 13.5 26.5 -13 Thanks for being inaccurate, Miller.
Pressure 12 8 4 Do I hear bright spot?
Coverage 9 13 -4 Could have been worse.
Tackling 5 14 26% This probably could not have been worse.
RPS 3 8 -5 Blitzes exploited a couple times.

So that's a demolition, too. If you want to sanity-check those numbers, Alabama averaged 6.2 YPC while running two-thirds of the time. Other than the Avery fall, Michigan kept the Alabama passing game in decent check, but it doesn't matter when you get crushed that badly on the ground.

I'm shocked that Washington didn't pick up any negatives and can't vouch for that. It may be that there were just other places to run all the time. We'll see what happens this week.

Oy, Campbell.

Yeah. He flashed impressive closing speed to track down McCarron on his sack but unfortunately also vacated lanes like whoah. By the time Yeldon hits this hole, he is behind Desmond Morgan, like literally directly behind him on the field:

And, like… come on, man:

The last-second switch on the defensive line seemed ominous when it was made and even considering the opposition I think that disquiet is confirmed now.

So it was all on the line?

The numbers say no but I have to admit this was hard sledding for me as I tried to figure out what was going wrong. On last year's defense, it was usually a single thing, maybe two things. On certain plays against Alabama it became extremely difficult to pinpoint what was wrong because it seemed like everything was.

So take this Yeldon run.

Michigan is slanting away from the playside blocking, which is going to leave a gap to the outside. Alabama has a lead blocker who kicks a charging Gordon, which is fine for Gordon, as he's turning it upfield at the hash.

Everything else is broken. Three Michigan defenders are on the backside of the play with two Alabama blockers. Then there is a cavern. Roh and Ryan are both clubbed off the ball by single blocks. As a result Demens is slashed to the ground because the OL assigned to him doesn't even have to provide a token double. Morgan is trying to flow to the hole but has to jump over Demens because the lineblob has gotten back to him. Once Yeldon reaches the LOS there is no one to even slow him. He hits the secondary, where Kovacs makes an impressive touchdown-saving tackle on a guy who wasn't even touched before he passed the sticks.

Who is at fault here? That side of the line, definitely. Demens? I mean, he's trying to read in the backfield and he's already got a guy in his legs before the ball is handed off. Morgan? He probably could have taken a more conservative angle… and tried to tackle where Kovacs got him. Trying to judge linebackers under these conditions is trying to find out who's the best guy at reattaching limbs in a field hospital stocked only with Elmer's Glue and old copies of Guns and Ammo. When they just single-block the entire line and roar out on you on the snap, life as a linebacker is a sad, sad existence.

BWS said the linebackers were hesitant.

Yeah, he's right. I'm not saying the linebackers were good—they got hammered numerically—and hesitancy is the main problem to my eyes as well. Here's a very similar defensive call on which the line gets excellent penetration:

This leapt off the screen to both myself and Chris, who focused on it in the above-linked post.

Here your slant closes off most of the holes. Campbell gets shoved past his ideal location, and that's a problem, but watch Morgan and Demens mostly. Morgan is aggressive, getting to the hole at around the LOS and funneling to his defensive partner. Demens then gets blocked by an h-back(!) three gaps away from where the play is. Morgan's at the LOS; Demens is two yards behind it. Is Campbell at fault here? Yes, if he is in the right spot there is no gap in the line.

Did Demens screw up? I think so, but this happened with enough consistency that in an ideal world Michigan wants that to happen so Demens can track down that RB when he has to slow up and awkwardly pick a hole.

Here there isn't going to be one so you need to slam hard into that big gap. How do you know this? You probably don't. Your peripheral vision picks it up and you go, because you have instincts. Or don't, as in this case.

These are what James Ross are supposed to have, yes?

Reportedly, yes. It didn't take him long to leap Joe Bolden and become the #3 LB on the depth chart. He rotated in at both MLB and WLB and did a bunch of stuff wrong but at least was damned decisive about it. Here's a replica of the first play above, the lead zone. This one is still a lost down (four yards on first and goal from the eight) but the differences between Ross and Demens are notable:


Ross pounds into the guys at the line and gets himself sealed, but at least the POA is still at the LOS and there isn't a huge body in the way of Morgan. Morgan then takes a false step and can't get to the hole despite this being Yet Another Slant on which cutbacks should be doomed. Watch Morgan slow up as the blocker reaches him despite Campbell being obviously unblocked directly in front of his face. Blocker gets into him a bit and instead of meeting the tailback in that hole, he does it three yards downfield from the side.

So what's the point of all the slanting?

This is one of those things that I still need coaching up on, but IME executing that slant where you pick a gap and get in it is designed to force the tailback into a specific gap your DL are not covering by design. This gap is ideally one-person-sized and can be filled by the nearest LB plugging a FB or leading guard at the LOS. This allows the other LB to play it a little cooler. When the gap is big enough that the back can pick either side of the block the fullback laid down then you need that second linebacker to haul ass, beat the block (which is almost always coming from a difficult angle for the offense to get you on the slant), and finish as a free hitter.

Michigan was getting large gaps without free hitters. Is this on the DL? Or LB? Or both? Hand me the glue and the March 1987 edition—you know, the one with that guy using an AK47 on a bear.

Because, man, the linebackers seem clueless. Michigan slants left on this play, leaving Black as backside contain. the linebackers go… left. so you've got a huge hole you were planning on putting there and honey linebackers don't care.

Long, long way to go. For everybody.


Was not a step up or down in this environment. Is that good? If you want it to be, I guess. He did force a cutback by getting good push, something we didn't see much else of:

In general, ask again later.

Any unrelated complaints recycled from last year?

Spread punt plz.



I know Hagerup's kicking the dickens out of the ball, but that's all the more reason to get those interior guys gone on the snap. Most of college football probably isn't wrong about this.


Nobody. I don't trust my Washington number.


Oh hell let's just move on.

What does it mean for Air Force and beyond?

This made me feel much worse than the offense. Denard flashed greatly improved accuracy, we didn't have Fitz, Alabama is Alabama, etc. Here it's just a complete crapfest. You expect to lose the battle against this OL with Michigan's DL but they got so comprehensively owned that I'm worried this ends up being a harbinger.

Campbell was bad. Campbell is playing because Michigan has no other choice. Campbell can remain bad and not get pulled off the field. There is no reason to think Campbell will ever be not bad, etc. I'm expecting the DL causes Michigan to get gashed by Air Force—like, a lot—and we have an uncomfortable outing Saturday.

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Alabama

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Alabama

Submitted by Brian on September 5th, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Formation notes: Just the usual array of stuff. Mostly shotgun, etc.:


Nothing really jumped out.


Substitution notes: OL was steady until Lewan went out with a thankfully minor injury, at which point it went from Lewan-Barnum-Mealer-Omameh-Schofield to Schofield-Barnum-Mealer-Burzynski-Omameh. At TE, Moore went out early and it was mostly Kwiatkowski with Williams appearing in two-TE sets. Funchess got in very late.

WR starters were Roundtree, Gallon, Gardner. Jeremy Jackson and Dileo were the next most-frequent participants; Jerald Robinson got a little run. At RB, Smith and Rawls and only them. Only Hopkins at FB.

Show? Show.

[Note: I forgot about my RUN+/- separation, but got them for the run chart. I'm probably going to dump the extra confirmation since it's useless.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Pass Deep slant Gardner Inc
Safety walks up on slot and Bama shows seven man front. Michigan goes play action at Gardner, who runs a deep slant after being given inside leverage. I think this is a crappy route that does not get the requisite separation because he just kind of drifts inside instead of cuts. Throw is accurate, Milliner makes a great play to break it up. (CA+, 0, protection 1/1)
M22 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Flare Smith 9
Gallon motions into a trips. Moore releases downfield, holding the corner in a little bit, Denard reads it and hits Smith on a little flare. Smith runs through an ankle tackle and nears the first down; gets a crappy spot. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1, would like to RPS +half this but let's not get crazy)
M31 3 1 I-Form Big 2 1 2 ??? Run Iso Smith 3
Lewan(+0.5) and Kwiatkowksi(+0.5) combine to kick out the OLB; Barnum(+0.5) just does handle the playside DE, and Hopkins(+0.5) gets enough on his lead block to give Smith a gap.
RUN+: Lewan, Kwiatkowski, Hopkins, Barnum(0.5 all) RUN-:
M34 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Slant Roundtree Inc
Safety rolls up. Michigan repeats their first play with the same result. Milliner is all over Roundtree (in a legal way) and breaks it up. (CA, 0, protection 1/1). If this is in front of Roundtree more maybe there's a shot, but that's an NFL window.
M34 2 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 Nickel even Run Inverted veer Smith -1
Eight in the box with the safety rolled up; this is unbalanced so TE cannot go downfield. Michigan pulls Barnum and uses Hopkins as a lead blocker. Playside DE is inside of Hopkins, so if this is a read it's a give, but then why block the guy? (Because he blocked you.) Denard gives and Smith heads outside, but there's a free guy on the edge and he shuts it down. RPS -1. This is not the blocking's fault, it's Alabama defeating the play. Picture-paged.
M33 3 11 Shotgun trips stack 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Scramble Robinson 8 (Pen -15)
Alabama rushes three; Lewan(-3) gets beat one on one, ripping off the DE's helmet in the process for a 15-yard penalty. (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, Lewan -3)
M18 3 26 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Rollout corner Roundtree Inc
Borges actually gets Roundtree open at the sticks, but they let the backside guy go and he pressures Denard, who doesn't really have time to set and step into it. Ball sails. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 11 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 Nickel even Run Inverted veer Rawls 0
Alabama sends the corner down and plunges the DE inside. Denard reads that the DE is diving down and hands off. Corner nails Rawls. RPS -2. Also picture-paged.
M29 2 10 Shogun 2-back tight 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Pass PA corner Gallon Inc
Corner pulls up on the short route, opening up a corner for about 15 yards. Denard misses; again, some token pressure on the edge seems to have spooked him. Just overthrew it. (IN, 1, protection 1/1) If Gallon was 6'2 he's got a good shot at this.
M29 3 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Penalty 12 men -- 5
yoooo deeeed
M34 3 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Fly Gardner Inc
Gardner gets a step but takes a weird gallop as he does so and drifts a step or so inside. Denard's throw is pretty good but Gardner's not getting there fast enough. He leaps and gets a hand on it, but that's it. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 6 min 1st Q. Yay 30 yard throw on third and medium.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 nickel Pass Bubble screen Gallon 8
Almost ceases being there on the snap as the LB to that side backs out closer to Gallon. Still not enough as Jackson(+1) hacks down the LB out there and Gallon(+1) turns it up quickly enough to burst past the LB despite being a yard or so inside the numbers. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Gallon, Jackson RUN-:
M32 2 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Iso Smith 1
Mealer(-1) leaves his block too early and Barnum can't keep the guy outside; he does okay. Omameh gets stalemated by the other DT, Schofield same, the end result is a big pile of dudes a yard past the LOS.
M33 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under Run Iso Rawls 2
Barnum(+1) takes a DT who's trying to slant and buries him. Lewan(+0.5) prevents the guy he's got from coming under him, creating a crease. Two guys are coming up that crease; Hopkins(+0.5) submarines one and Rawls falls forward for the first.
M35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Sprint counter Rawls -2 (Pen -10)
One high with a seventh guy in the box. They run the sprint counter from last year (what is it a counter to, though?). Lewan pulls. Schofield(-1) gets chucked by the DE as Lewan nears; Lewan is now running directly into Schofield. Rawls(-2) still has an opportunity to just go straight upfield for a few yards. Instead he tries to bounce it, which works about as well as you might expect. Refs get Lewan for holding, which I don't see, and miss an obvious facemask on Rawls. Refs -3. Hoke said something about this being a BS call on Lewan, FWIW. BWS picture-paged.
M25 1 20 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA corner Gardner Inc
Bama does not care that we are running PA from the I. They're all over all three guys. Denard throws it at Gardner and does get it over the corner. It's also over Gardner. Could be IN but Robinson had no better options. (CA, 0, protection 2/2) Also, watch Gardner's route. He holds up. If he runs through the route this is a potential DO.
M25 2 20 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass PA fly Roundtree Int
Milliner chucks Roundtree OOB and intercepts. It's hard to tell but it certainly looks like this happened after the ball was released. Either way, this is a frustrating playcall. Second and twenty with Roundtree matched up against their best corner, let's have guys with free runs at Denard and see what happens. (BR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-14, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Bubble screen Gallon 9
Robinson actually double clutches this, which is bad, but it still works as the WRs come through. Roundtree(+1) puts a safety on the ground. Gardner does likewise, and then Roundtree gets another block that Gallon(+1) runs behind for good yardage. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Roundtree, Gardner, Gallon RUN-:
M35 2 1 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Pass PA slant Gallon Inc
This one's actually open. Not sure if Gallon is more of a threat or it's just because this is not Milliner. Robinson misses somewhat, but this is catchable. Gallon doesn't catch it. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
M35 3 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Speed option Robinson 3
Smith flares out for a pitch but Denard is just running this one from the word go. Blocking is okay on the frontside except for Williams(-1), who gets beat. Schofield(+0.5) just manages to delay the backside pursuit and Denard(+1) hits a very small gap to convert.
M38 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Run Iso Smith 2
Running at the backside. There is a S containing Denard so he hands, but not sure this is really a read. Bubble open, but again these are not reads. Omameh(-1) lets his guy spin back to the hole. Schofield(-1) does as well. Hopkins blocks one LB; the other is there to help tackle. Possible that Smith could have cut to a backside hole if Schofield doesn't lose his block. RUN-: Schofield, Omameh
M40 2 8 I-form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Smith -2
Schofield(-2) loses his guy on the backside of the play and he tackles. That's the easy stuff. Barnum(-1) loses his guy on a double, too, despite blocking down. I do like Hopkins(+1) blocking the stuffing out of a guy, may have gotten the edge. BWS picture-paged.
RUN+: Hopkins RUN-: Schofield(3), Barnum
M38 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Fly J. Robinson Inc
It's third down so we throw it 30 yards. Alabama blitzes, sending six. Michigan picks it up. Robinson panics and chucks a back-foot throw when just scrambling out of the pocket probably puts him in epic space against man coverage. J. Robinson is blanketed, DB knocks it away. Pass was actually right on the money, but the coverage was superb. (CA, 0, protection 3/3) Where's the dig route?
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-21, 13 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M5 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Inside zone Smith 0
Bubble wide open, no threat of Denard, OL cannot get any push, Smith runs up the backs of his guys for nothing. Barnum(-1) pushed back. Smith(-1) could have run behind the double but did not.
M5 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Jackson 4 (Pen +5)
Late move to a seven man front. Safety comes down on Jackson, Denard throws the out accurately, instant tackle. Alabama offsides. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M10 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
AAAAARGH. Anyway: hole almost forms. Barnum manages to get his body across the backside DT, but only with his back; that guy comes around. Omameh(-0.5) and Mealer(-0.5) can't kick the other DT and the narrow path is closed down by the guy coming around Barnum.
M12 3 3 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Flare Smith 2
Denard makes a somewhat bad read on the LB and should go to Kwiatkowski underneath as the LB bugs out for the flat. He had a window. This is still complete and has a shot at the first so I won't BR it, but he could have done better. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-24, 7 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M2 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA fly Gardner Inc
Plenty of time for Robinson as Michigan goes with just three guys in the route. Denard tries it deep to Gardner, who's covered again, but he has no other options. Pass is a tiny bit short but 40 yards downfield. Gardner has it in his hands; Milliner punches it out. (CA+, 1, protection 3/3)
M2 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Rawls 1
Williams tears through Omameh(-2) and is right in the hole. Barnum ends up going outside of the Hopkins block as the playside LB comes in to spill power outside. Rawls goes inside. Barnum is not a factor on the LB, who tackles at the LOS. Not sure if this is a Rawls problem or a Barnum problem. I get why both of them did that. I'm guessing Rawls, but tenuous. RUN-:  Omameh(2), Rawls
M3 3 9 Shotgun trips stack 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Post Gardner Int
Denard throws it directly at a linebacker underneath the route. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Defensive TD, 0-31, 4 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Inside zone Rawls 3
Okay crease but only okay. Omameh(+0.5) gets decent push on the nose, Mealer gets out to the LB, Barnum is eh on the other DT, and Rawls can fit in this gap until the LB sheds Mealer in a tight space.
M28 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA stop and go Gallon 71
Max pro again and Alabama is containing, so plenty of time. Denard can load up and fire deep to Gallon, who's the first M receiver to have an inch of separation all night. Denard hits Gallon right in stride at the 20; Gallon gets to the goal line before he can get tracked down. (DO, 2, protection 3/3), RPS +1. Why aren't we throwing at this corner instead of Milliner?
O1 1 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line Penalty Illegal sub -- -5
O6 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Goal line Run QB power Robinson 6
Schofield(-2) gets beat by the backside DT as Omameh pulls.This guy gets into Omameh in the backfield and destroys his pull. LB in the hole now gets cut by Smith. Denard his headed outside where there is contain, which gets the Alabama DE to pull upfield. Denard(+2) changes direction in a flash, heading straight upfield. Omameh(+1) gets to the hole now and picks through Smith, blocking the guy he just cut. He blows the LB off the ball; Barnum(+1) does the same, and Denard can burrow behind those guys to fall into the endzone.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Barnum, Omameh RUN-: Schofield
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-31, 2 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Inverted veer Smith 3
Same stuff minus Hopkins. DE comes down, Denard hands off, Smith ends up on the edge against an unblocked guy as Dileo comes down on a linebacker and Jackson flares out on one of the three guys in M2M to the trips side. That leaves another guy, who tackles with help from that DE peeling back. RPS -1. No run plus minus, as there were no relevant blocks.
M25 2 7 Ace 3-wide 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Penalty False start Lewan -5
M20 2 12 Shogun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Pass PA quick seam Dileo 20
Not sure if this is an iffy pass or an attempt to keep it away from the defender but knowing Denard it's probably the former. An easier catch would probably not have resulted in anything bad. Dileo spins 360 degrees, grabbing the ball halfway through, and keeps his feet for a nice gain past the Bama secondary. This a borderline 1 or 2; I'll give the one for keeping his feet. (MA, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB sweep Robinson 2
Mealer and Omameh both pull. Kwiatkowski(+0.5) seals the playside end. Barnum(-1) gets out but his attempted cut is not effective; that LB gets up and gets outside, hitting near the LOS. Smith just ran into the secondary; would prefer it if he helped out here. At least this time we're asking them to beat a block. A great play by the LB here; if Smith had doubled down on this Denard is getting some yards.
M42 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Pass Flare Gallon Inc
Michigan brings Gallon across the formation and then fakes a stretch(!) into the boundary(!) that fools the backside LB. Denard has Gallon wide open for quite a few yards and misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)
M42 3 8 Shotgun trips stack TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Scramble Robinson 5
Michigan rolls to the field, right into a safety blitz. Smith can only chop one of them; other guy is right in Denard's face, forcing a scramble that doesn't get there. (PR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-31, 12 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Zone stretch Rawls 5
Bubble is open as they've got two safeties back, but M runs. It's a stretch into the boundary, which is a little odd. Rawls(-1) misses the cutback lane behind the backside tackle that would have gotten him going NS against a DE trying to contain Robinson and only coming back later. He ends up bouncing off Omameh and going around to the outside, which somehow works. Lewan(+1) bludgeoned the DE there and Gardner(+1) spent a long time fending off a corner. Lucky, lucky.
M40 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Scramble Robinson 5
Denard is looking at Jackson on a little slant at the sticks and decides against it... I think if he throws it on time it gets there but hard to tell. Instead he decides to take off and run for stuff. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
M45 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Run QB inside zone Robinson 9
Alabama slants under the line and blows up the blocking. Mealer(-1) is left in a heap, Lewan(-1) also falls to the ground as his guy gets inside of him, and Barnum(-1) releases to the second level without checking. Alabama's guys fall, too, which gives Denard(+3) an opportunity. He hops, then hops again outside; Schofield(+0.5) does a decent job maintaining his block and this gives Denard the edge. Once he's out there he uses a dodgy block from Gardner to get outside and jets for near first-down yardage. Standard bitching about lack of Denard. Musberger finally gets to tell us Usain Bolt story with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
RUN+: Denard(3) RUN-: Lewan, Mealer, Barnum
O46 2 1 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Inside zone Smith 0
Odd blocking here as AJ Williams goes backside into the gap just inside Lewan; Bama NT two-gaps on Barnum(-1) and when Smith picks the hole to the frontside comes off to tackle. Crappy read by Smith? I don't know. Don't know why you send a guy to the second level and not help on Williams here.
O46 2 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Speed option Rawls -2
Bama has everyone within a few yards of the LOS; Sunseri is deepest at eight. Michigan orbits Rawls and runs a speed option; they block it well enough but Sunseri is tearing like a bat out of hell for Rawls and plants him two yards in the backfield. Ingram Rawls is not. RPS -1; this probably gets the first down except for no deep safeties.
O48 4 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Broken play Robinson 2
Robinson(-1) fumbles the snap, picks it up, and starts running around on a broken play. He gets tripped up, reaches for the first down, and doesn't quite make it. Overturn is correct.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 7-31, 4 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M14 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Sprint counter Smith 1
Schofield(-2) gets destroyed by the LB he's assigned to. That guy comes through the block and tackles Smith. Otherwise this is okay, though it's not fooling anyone. Since M never runs any plays that look like this but are not the counter, the counter action does not work.
M15 2 9 Shotgun trips stack 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Screen Smith Inc (Pen +15)
Blitzing LB is straight up the middle too fast. Denard is hit as he throws and the ball is behind Smith. (PR, 0, protection 0/1, RPS -1) M gets bailed out by the LB getting a hit on Denard's head. Very marginal call.
M30 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA fly Gardner Inc
Fake inside zone with Barnum pulling to the backside, which they don't do. Three guys go out, two going deep another sort of deep. No one is really open. Denard chucks it deep at Gardner, who has a shot at it before being tripped by the safety. They throw a flag, and then pick it up. [fumes] This was a fifty yard throw that beat bracketed coverage and was a yard inside the edge of the field. (DO, 0, protection 2/2).
M30 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Zone stretch Smith 22
Omameh(-1) can't get a cut or any control on the backside DT so Smith(+3) can't really find anything on the cutback despite Barnum(+1) and Mealer(+1) blowing the frontside guy almost to the sideline. That guy eventually splits the two and comes up on Smith, who miraculously hops outside and shoestrings the sideline for 22. Lewan(+0.5) and Hopkins(+0.5) had a hand in it.
O48 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 4
Alabama tips a huge blitz from the field with six guys at the line and no one within the two outside receivers except one guy eight yards downfield. Michigan runs at the boundary again. Kwiatkowski(-2) whiffs on the playside DE entirely, allowing him outside. He runs into Barnum, cuts off Smith, and forces Denard to cut up. Denard is into that hole before Omameh can get there, unblocked guys, tackle.
O44 2 6 Ace twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA Fly Gardner 44
No pressure; Milliner looks back, gets his legs tangled up with Gardner, and goes down. Denard hits Gardner in stride for the TD. (DO, 2, protection 2/2.)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-34, EO3Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M8 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Run Iso Smith -1
Nickel rolls down. I think this is an iso but it's hard to tell since the blocking gets blown up so hardcore. Mealer(-1) loses his guy into the gap Hopkins is attacking, and Barnum(-1) is stood up at the LOS. Smith goes away from the gap Hopkins did because there is no gap and unblocked guys tackle. RUN-: Mealer, Barnum
M7 2 11 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA corner Gallon 19
Unbalanced, Michigan goes PA, no one is buying it. Schofield(-1) is beaten but does manage to maintain contact and shove the guy who beat him past Denard, who sidesteps, sets up, and threads a dart to Gallon 20 yards downfield. Same throw he made to Gardner earlier except the WR didn't misjudge it. Tough play all around. (DO, 2, protection ½, Schofield -1)
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Iso Smith 2
They try the other side of the line. Omameh(-0.5) does better with his guy but can't really control him; Schofield(-1) cannot kick the DE. Those two guys converge to tackle as Smith passes the LOS.
M28 2 8 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA fly Roundtree Inc
Everyone is bracketed, Denard chucks it deep to Roundtree, overthrown by five yards, almost intercepted. (BR, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)
M28 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Deep hitch Gardner Inc
Ugh, Musberger calls M and Alabama two of the great brands in college football. Shoot me. Mealer(-1) gets over aggressive on a stunt and a rusher slides through right up the middle. Smith takes him out, Denard gets squirrelly and chucks one over Gardner's head. (IN, 0, protection ½, Mealer -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-34, 10 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Rollout hitch Roundtree 5
Short pitch and catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M40 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Slant Roundtree 7
Milliner turns for three-deep and the slant opens up. Now just trying to bleed yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass TE out Kwiatkowski 6
Again open underneath as Alabama is playing off. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O47 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 1
Omameh(-1) and Mealer(-1) fail to combo the NT at all.
O48 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Sack -- -6
Schofield(-2) smoked; Burzynski(-2) fails to read a stunt and two guys converge on Robinson. (PR, N/A, protection 0/4, Burzynski -2, Schofield -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-41, 4 min 4th Q. Final snap is a Bellomy INT and not charted.


Which kind of YAAARGH FALARGH is this now?

There are multiple kinds of YAAARGH FALARGH?

Yes. There is the YAAARGH FALARGH that YAAARGHs about Denard getting about two carries in the first half and FALARGHs about the idea that fate has consigned us an offensive coordinator who can make delightful minute adjustments in a West Coast passing offense and a quarterback who can't run them that. Then there is the YAAARGH FALARGH that YAAARGHs about the idea that Rich Rodriguez might have some good ideas when it comes to offense and FALARGHs whenever this here guy points out that Borges is not an invincible superman.

Didn't Rich Rodriguez almost get West Virginia to a national title game?


And put up 48 against Oklahoma and 38 against Georgia in BCS games?


The former then.

An excellent choice.


Like, oh my God. Alabama does that to everyone. It is virtually impossible to tell how Michigan will do against an earthly defense when this is basically the best defense since M 1997 minus some important guys and the guys replacing the important guys are dudes like DeMarcus Milliner, who is insane. Insaaaaaaaaaaane.

What happened Saturday may not have any bearing at all on what happens the rest of the year.

Okay, good UFR, let's go home.

Not so fast.

But I want to go home. You have no idea.

There are things to learn! Expectations to tweak!

I would rather not.

Scriven away, Bartleby, this is happening.

Not saying it.


[A reminder about what this means can be found in the UFR FAQ. Note that screens behind the LOS are in parens, so in the first half of 2011 Denard threw 66 balls labeled catchable, 54 downfield and 12 screens. The DSR metric is Dead On and Catchable balls divided by all throws not marked Marginal, Pressure, or Scramble.]

2011 through MSU 13 66(12) 11(1) 34(1) 17 2 3 10 4 55%
2011 after MSU 9 77(9) 7 17 9 6(1) 5(2) 9 5 69%
Alabama 4 15(2) 1 4 3 - - 3(1) 1 71%


lol wut

I know. A couple caveats: three of those CAs were late when Milliner had lost interest and a fourth was borderline on a slant that took Gallon off his feet (but was still very catchable), and one of the BRs was of course the BRX—the X stands for XTREME—on the pick six. On the other hand, I marked the Dileo seam an MA because it was behind the guy when you can make a case that he was keeping it away from the defender, and now I feel guilty for asserting that "knowing Denard" it had to be inaccurate. Blame on the first interception can be split between Denard, Borges (no other options), Roundtree, and possibly the refs. Call it a push.

In terms of accuracy, Denard had a good day. Maybe very good. Those first two slants are in the receiver's chest. The problem was that Milliner was also in said chests.

That kid is nasty, and Michigan's wide receivers could not get separation from him unless he fell down. Maybe there was a square foot in which the ball could be caught without Milliner making a play on it… maybe. I doubt it.

Sometimes when it looked like Denard missed, it was his receiver blowing the play. This deep corner looked like an overthrow live, but the replay shows that 1) ain't nobody open, really, and 2) despite that if Gardner does not first slow up and then misjudge the ball once it's in the air this is probably a fantastic completion:

Later in the game, Gallon would run the route correctly for a twenty-yard completion. Even when Denard chucked a back foot throw to Jerald Robinson thirty yards downfield on third and ten, it was right on the money. It was broken up by Milliner, of course, and I'm leery of him trying that again, but we're a results-based charting service.

And then you've got a couple of perfect deep completions plus a third that would have been if not for the Alabama safety coming over and tripping Gardner. He plain missed about as often as McCarron. The difference was in the defenses and the wideouts.

This was actually encouraging. Possibly really encouraging. I know, I know.

But the horrible horrible interceptions!

Yeah, we got the three NOOOO Denard throws: the two picks and a chuck-and-pray to a bracketed Roundtree that was five yards to long and almost intercepted. You'd like for Denard to find someone else, but on at least two of those there was no one else open. So then you'd like him to throw it away or RUN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST RUN, but we're stuck with it, I guess.

This is a situation that, like all situations, may improve when you're not playing Alabama. Various YPAs from veteran QBs against Alabama the last couple years:

  • Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: 5.3
  • Clint Moseley, Auburn: 3.4
  • Ryan Mallett, Arkansas: 9.4
  • John Brantley, Florida: 6.5
  • Kirk Cousins, MSU: 7.5
  • Denard Robinson, M: 7.7

If Michigan's receivers were capable of getting separation—or Michigan had manufactured some with play action Denard—things would have been fine. If Robinson's accuracy continues against mortal defenses he'll have outstanding numbers and Borges will get a gold star.

What about Gardner?

Well, first, the receiverchart. I'll leave the season numbers blank because obviously.

[Passers are rated by catchability:

  • 0: uncatchable
  • 1: very tough
  • 2: moderately tough
  • 3: routine

The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]

Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Gardner 4 0/2 1/1            
Roundtree 2 0/1   2/2          
Gallon 1 0/1 2/3 1/1          
J. Robinson 1                
Dileo   1/1              
Jackson       1/1          
Kwiatkowski       1/1          
Smith       2/2          

So there's obviously a huge difference between the accuracy credited Denard above and the catch rankings above. Part of that is Milliner and other guys always covering everything. Part of that that I didn't adjust for crappy routes. This is supposed to be a hands measure. I can only hand-wave at the routes.

Anyway, a routine day in limited opportunities. Hands were fine, separation was not.

And Gardner?

Obviously looked very, very raw. The corner route above is evidence enough of that, and on the touchdown I don't think the 360-degree spin-around is a standard move. His routes suck, but he's a 6'4" guy who can leap out of the gym. We'll see how good that speed is against mortal teams. He should get better day by day; Michigan really needs him.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the freshmen as early as next week.

The run game.

Look away.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 2.5 1 1.5 Above zero!
Barnum 3.5 6 -2.5 Not above zero.
Mealer 1 4.5 -3.5 Now a lot more worried about Molk transition after flip
Omameh 1.5 7 -5.5 Blown up, but not a surprise
Schofield 1 9 -8 woof
Kwiatkowski 1 2 -1 Current nominal starter.
Moore - - - Injured early.
Williams - 1 -1 Hard to tell.
Funchess - - - One play.
TOTAL 10.5 30.5 26% All time worst.
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 6 1 5 I don't want to talk about it.
Bellomy - - -  
Toussaint - - - DNP
Rawls - 4 -4 Pretty much Mark Ingram.
Smith 3 1 2 Basically the one sideline jaunt.
Hayes - - - DNP
Hopkins 2.5 - 2.5 Hard to judge since he rarely had a shot at going one on one
Kerridge - - - DNP
TOTAL 11.5 6 5.5 I don't want to talk about it.
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 1 - 1  
Roundtree 1 - 1  
Gallon 2 - 2  
Jackson 1 - 1  
Dileo - - - --
J. Robinson - - -  
Darboh - - - --
TOTAL 5 - 5 omg bubble bubble bubble
Player + - T Notes
Protection 26 10 72% Lewan –3, Team –2, Schofield –2, Mealer –1, Burzynski -2
RPS 4 9 -5 Not like it mattered but it didn't help.

So that's the line getting annihilated and getting no plays from the runners save a couple from Denard. Let's not take any of this too seriously until next week.

Ugh, Rawls?

Yeah, for a north-south mooseback he had a case of the Shaws. Go upfield, young man.

Other running type things?

Fitz will obviously be a huge boost. Neither of the guys who got carries broke tackle one, both missed holes, neither juked guy one. I really, really want to reserve judgment on the offensive line until next week. They were straight-up destroyed; let's see what happens later in the season.

Borges said he didn't regret how little Denard ran, and that Alabama was doing stuff with its safeties that prevented Michigan from going with him.

I find that… unconvincing. For one, two of the three runs all night where someone made something despite the blocking being poor were from Denard:

(The other was Smith's 22-yarder.) For two, you can just call his number. There is nothing preventing you from doing that instead of handing off to Rawls or Smith. If you're going into the game thinking "don't get hurt!" why are you even playing it?

By the time Michigan was down a billion, okay, whatever, the next two quarters are an exhibition. If this happens in a critical Big Ten game that Michigan ends up losing, though, the torches and pitchforks will be out in force.

It's not about scheme!

That's the DeBord way to look at it. Players can get beat; so can coaches. Both played a factor in the loss. When you hand off and there's an unblocked guy waiting for you…

…the blocker isn't at fault. Because there isn't one. I'm not sure why Michigan thought they could get away with straight-up inverted veers against Saban nine months after they tore up OSU.

In a weird way, I'm actually encouraged about Borges long-term since his response to a defense that stacks the box is to throw at it. Once you get the receivers and the line and Morris in, that stuff is going to work, and we won't have to facepalm after yet another run into a stacked front on first and ten.

But it is about scheme, in addition to the players getting whipped. A failure that comprehensive touches everyone. E-fact.


Gallon. Maybe Denard? Sort of Denard.


Even adjusting for level of competition the OL was very disappointing. While Lewan got off easiest in the run chart, he also got three penalties, two of them legit.

What does it mean for next week and the future?

God willing, nothing whatsoever.

A few things I'll be looking to confirm or disconfirm before Notre Dame:

  • Is Denard way more accurate now?
  • Will Denard be less interception-prone against humans?
  • Is Schofield in trouble at tackle?
  • Is Gardner a real actual receiver?

If the OL can't move Air Force I'm going into full on bunker mode.

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-5-12: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-5-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 5th, 2012 at 1:55 PM

News bullets and other important items:

  • Taylor Lewan is fine.
  • Blake Countess has not had his ACL surgery yet. 
  • WR Joe Reynolds is simulating the Air Force QB.
  • Courtney Avery will start at corner. No final decision on Fitz yet, but he'll probably start.
  • The player receiving the Oosterbaan jersey has basically been chosen.

Brady Hoke

Oh Taylor you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Taylor.

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming. Game week’s going well. Thought we had a good practice yesterday. Thought we were physical. Thought we had a great tempo. Did a lot, had to learn a lot. You’re playing a new offense and they’re unique defensively at the same time because of some of the 30 stuff that they do. We have a good work day again today. They’re a good football team. Troy’s always done a good job. [I] have some familiarity with the Mountain West from playing them. They’re always going to be a team that plays 60 minutes, and they’re going to run and be disciplined in what they’re doing on both sides of the ball, so we’ve got to be at our best.”

(After the jump, Hoke discusses Air Force, the secondary, tight ends, weight loss, twitter, and health)