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.

Unverified Voracity Is Sportmanteaing

Unverified Voracity Is Sportmanteaing

Submitted by Brian on October 3rd, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Marve: available? Robert Marve's ACL isn't completely torn this time so he may give it a go this weekend, which would give Purdue a second option if TerBush struggles. Emphasis on "may":

Marve said he participated in the full practice for 1st time since his latest injury. As for the game "I hope I can help out some" #Purdue

If he ends up in the game that's probably good news since it sounds like it will be a desperation move by the Boilers.

dangit should have titled this section "marvailable?"

Oklahowat. Of all the crazy things to do to save a couple lousy bucks:

Four-star offensive tackle Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) had been mentally preparing for two weeks, but that didn't make the news any easier to take.

Beyer said he was told Tuesday by Oklahoma offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle that his scholarship offer to Oklahoma will not be honored, Beyer confirmed to SoonerNation on Thursday night.

Beyer, who committed to the Sooners on July 2, has been forced to give up football because he was diagnosed with the spinal-cord condition cervical stenosis about three weeks ago.

The Bylaw Blog notes that OU could sign him and immediately give him a medical scholarship. So… like… why not do that? Your program + Rinaldi profile of this guy – cost of scholarship > Your program + perception you're heartless + cost of scholarship. I don't get it, man.

Morgan head thing. Michigan is very cautious about head injuries:

Morgan said the word "concussion" never was used by doctors, but his symptoms were enough that he was held out against the Minutemen.

"Just got knocked and was a little out of it for a little bit," the sophomore said Tuesday. "A lot of it was precautionary, just doctors making sure on everything. But I haven't had any symptoms since and I'm feeling good.

"I haven't had a head injury, so I didn't know what to expect I guess going into it. But the doctors were really positive and honest through the whole thing and I was real upfront and told them exactly how I was feeling every day."

A plague of missed assignments. ND film review was ugly. Not for me. Not just for me. Also the players:

Against Notre Dame, the Michigan offense had 23 of those missed assignments, according to redshirt junior tackle Taylor Lewan, a number he called “unbelievably high.” The mistakes could range from missed blocks to improper reads to poor communication.

“You should have one or two maybe in a game,” Lewan said. “I’ve never seen (23 missed assignments) happen before, personally.”

Yeesh. Two were on the Smith INT, I'm sure, and various others are in Denard's lap. I hope they get these things fixed, because I don't like watching games like the Notre Dame game. Also I enjoy oxygen and water.

Epic troll? So I'm thinking about making some sort of George Clinton joke about this article on Denard Robinson…

Denard Robinson's funk 'lasted for days' after Michigan loss to Irish

…and end up looking at the comments. I've just read a bunch of "Ken M" trolling posts and this sets off the alarm bells: 

Chuck Luck · Top Commenter

"Denard Robinson's funk 'lasted for days' after Michigan loss to Irish".

Glad this young man is not in the military, people die when their fellow soldiers act like this.

Troll: successful.

In a nutshell. The SF Weekly profiles Bleacher Report and in doing so captures the thing's essence:

The exemplar of contrarian thinking offered within the site's curriculum is a Bleacher Report article titled "Why Tom Brady Is the Most Overrated Quarterback in NFL History."

This piece epitomizes much of what frustrates the site's detractors. The article's author, an affable 19-year-old college sophomore named Zayne Grantham, tells us he still thinks Brady is an overrated "system quarterback" who largely succeeds thanks to his team's capable defenses. (The New England Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl last year with the 31st-ranked defense in terms of passing and overall yardage in a 32-team league.) But even Grantham doesn't believe Brady to be history's most overrated quarterback: "In hindsight, I may not have used that headline. I'll be one of the first to say he's one of the best quarterbacks we've ever seen."

And there you have it: Anyone baited into responding to these hyperbolic stories finds themselves debating a non-starter argument with a teenager from Shreveport who doesn't even buy the premise of his own article.

Somewhere in the Bleacher Report salt mines is the next generation's Drew Sharp, who will be forced to write slideshows about the top tittays in tennis and why LeBron James is bad at basketball until he gets paid 600 dollars a month to write SEO filler under predetermined headlines. Don't tell me you don't believe in the narrative of progress.

Shades of that Illinois game, except weirder. Remember way back in the day when refs botched two massive fumble calls against Illinois and publicly apologized afterwards? This got Michigan fans in a lather because they'd experienced their share of refereeing mishaps without getting a reassuring pat on the shoulder, and did nothing to actually correct the issue. Well, in the Big 12 they've "apologized profusely" for this:

That's a lot more ambiguous than two clearly wrong calls against Illinois. Q: why are Oklahoma State fans taping horrible angles on TV the best we can do here? Shouldn't there be some cameras on the LOS, like, for all games?

[UPDATE: Big 12 says "never happened."]

Compher "marquee." The USHL just had a prospects game and reviews are rolling in. This is from The Hockey News:

J.T. Compher, LW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Along with Fasching, Compher is the marquee name on the NTDP this season and though he doesn’t have his teammate’s beastly size, Compher gets in the mix. At the AAPG, the University of Michigan commit demonstrated a dogged determination around the puck, never giving up on a play. He’ll be one of the team’s leading scorers this season. Draft eligible in 2013.

Michigan Hockey Net rounds up reactions to Compher, Allen, and Downing and provides season-to-date stats in his weekly hockey recruiting update.

Exit CCHA. MLive has a good article on the end of the CCHA. Relevant bit on the Mason Cup:

“I’ve been asked a lot about that. Does the final winner take it? Just like the Stanley Cup, there are two Mason Cups. There’s one where (current CCHA tournament champion) Western Michigan has it on display and we have another we keep on display at the Joe (Louis Arena) during the season.”

Pletsch said no option is being kept off the table. He said he has contacted the Hockey Hall of Fame to gauge the interest there. He said he has also thought about giving the Mason family one of trophies to keep.

In a respectful gesture Pletsch said he has even reached out to the Big Ten about possibly donating the trophy to the league that ultimately led to the CCHA’s demise.

“If they wanted it we would consider donating it to them,” he said.

I doubt any of the other five teams in the newly formed Big Ten are going to be enthusiastic about that idea. Given the hodgepodge of trophies they created for football, the new trophy will probably be the Comley-Markell-Gadowsky Cup.

Etc.: As part of my trip to Georgia I got to deploy my best Marvin the Paranoid Android impression in an AIRBHG t-shirt. Stuffing the Passer. Hockey season preview from Yost Built.

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-3-12: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-3-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 3rd, 2012 at 1:33 PM

News bullets and other important items:

  • Man it is awfully humid outside.
  • UPDATE: Iss gon' rain.

Brady Hoke


Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming out. We had a really, really good practice yesterday. Really liked the speed, tempo that we practiced with. Liked the execution from an offense and defensive standpoint. When you look at mistakes or missed assignments or whatever, had very minimal of those. Competed really well with each other, and I thought it was a good day. Now we have to come back and have a [good] back-to-back [practice].”

Taylor Lewan said you had an unusually high number of mistakes (23) on offense. What do you attribute that to?

“Yeah. And I don’t know if it was quite 23. There was a number of them from different guys and different plays. Some of that is you look at how much you’re doing. Maybe you have too much in, maybe they don’t undersatnd it well enough, but for a lot of it, we’re playing at night, you get a little extra time with walkthroughs. I think it always comes down to your focus on every play. When you don’t do that you’re not going to play as well.”

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-2-12: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-2-12: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on October 2nd, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Al Borges


“What’s up?”

MGo: Not much. How are you?


MGo: How’s kindergarten?

“Kindergarten is wonderful. Every day is just a new experience. It’s awesome.”

Think you’re going to pass?

“I already passed.”

Word of the day?

“I don’t know. I didn’t get one. I’ve been kind of -- no I didn’t get one. I’ll get you one next week.”

Not an easy loss to sit on for two weeks. Did you work on rebuilding Denard’s confidence over the bye?

“Yeah. I think to a degree. I don’t think his confidence is waning too much, though. The biggest thing about that situation is getting back to some of the basics of reading the defense and making good decisions and things like that. I think that’s really the biggest factor. A couple footwork issues that hadn’t shown up until that game too much. … The good thing about two weeks is you get a chance to really evaluate everything you’re doing, and that’s what we’ve kind of done is look at how we’ve played, you know, on the road particularly because we haven’t played well on the road, but overall just see what the structure of the offense is and get back to sending a message and knowing that we’ve got to play better in those scenarios.”

Is there a common thread with the road games and offensive inefficiency?

“I don’t know. Not any more than any place else I’ve been, I guess. It’s harder to play on the road. It’s always an issue, but you can’t always use that as an excuse because good teams win on the road. I mean the biggest issue, we had some breakdowns, but we just can’t turn the ball over. That’s the biggest -- you hear it every week and it sounds like coach speak but it’s so true. When you turn the ball over as many times we turned the ball over you have no chance. We were fortunate it was as close as it was.”

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-2-12: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-2-12: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on October 2nd, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Greg Mattison


Opening remarks:

“Well, it’s getting going in the Big Ten season, and you know we’ll see where we are and we’ll see how much we’ve improved. This is a good football team we’re playing. Purdue’s a much better team than they were last year. Watching them on film, they’ve done some good things, so this will be good. This will be good for us to take the next step.”

What are the things they do offensively that concern you the most?

“Well they throw a lot of screens. They throw a lot of screens, a lot of bubble screens, a lot of X screens, and that’s their way of getting the ball outside, so what they’re going to do is show you a running play and either hand it off in the run, or if they don’t feel like you’re covered down well enough, then they’re going to throw it out there, and they’ve been very successful on it.”

Is there a big difference between how they play this year vs. last year?

“Probably executing much much better this year. The quarterback’s making good throws, and they just look like a much better football team. The thing about it is you always look at who do they play, well they played Notre Dame pretty darn well. I’ve been watching a lot of them against us last year, too, and they beat Ohio, you know. They’ve shown that they can go.”

Hokepoints: Am I Living it Right?

Hokepoints: Am I Living it Right?

Submitted by Seth on October 2nd, 2012 at 9:28 AM

It's been two weeks since Michigan's last home game, and for me and the wife it meant two Saturdays at someone else's stadium: Notre Dame and—unrelated to the Great Meeting of the Bloggerati—Georgia. The first I went with my cousin and her kid, who's about the age I was when his father took me up to campus and I got Desmond'ed. The second was with two of my best friends from college, one of whom married a major Bulldog fan and couldn't bring his kid because you don't bring kids to SEC conference games—maybe Florida-Atlantic, but people still look at you strange.

I thought I'd use the bye week opportunity to share the experiences as compared to Michigan.

Notre Dame



South Bend and Notre Dame du Lac vs. Ann Arbor: If not for the signs (which you should ignore because they tell dirty lies) you wouldn't realize there's a city here. Northern Indiana once you leave the part you pass to get to Chicago is right out of Rudy: small industrial belt homes nooked close together right up to the point campus has to start. We parked (for free) on the south side of Coquillard Park and at this point you notice or somebody informs you that Notre Dame is a fifth of the size of your IMG_1670median Big Ten school. The closest thing they have to a State Street or South University is a one-block collection of chain-ish restaurants in a pair of newer building complexes that straddle Eddy Street.

Their Main Street/downtown is about 2 miles southwest of the stadium and reminds me of Kalamazoo or a smaller Grand Rapids. The College Football Hall of Fame is here but we wanted to tailgate and it's something you rope Greg Dooley into doing with you but probably not a 12-year-old.

Coming from the south you are hitting a collection of buildings constructed or heavily renovated after 2004. The stadium owns this area. Once past (and to the left of) that and the new stuff you're in something a late Bourbon king probably commissioned. And it's here you remember or someone tells you that despite the mascot this started as a French institution, and was designed to French tastes. Having been to Ireland extensively and lived in France, this is a good thing.

On to the stadium and such, after a  jump.

Monday Presser Transcript 10-1-12: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 10-1-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 1st, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Brady Hoke

News bullets and other important items:

  • Bye weeks. They are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal.
  • Aside from the guys who are out for the year, everyone except maybe Brandon Moore and maybe Marvin Robinson should be back for Purdue.
  • Also except for Nathan Brink.

Televised presser


Opening remarks:

“You know, the bye weeks, I think you never know when a good bye week is, when it’s not a good bye week -- I don’t think you really know that until you go through it. I think it was good because of the productivity that we got from having the bye week. I would hope we have that, the productivity, anytime the bye week was, but I think we got to really re-evaluate where we’re at and what we want to do. I think you evaluate yourselves a little bit as coaches. I think that’s always a big part of it. Different things in the aspects that you’re involved with, from the kicking, the defense, the offense. You always look at self-scouting, see where you’re at, what you might want to do different or what you like, what you’re doing.

"I think the other part of it is the teaching part, the fundamentals, and those things that go along with it. I think the other part, which was big, was the guys who are traveling who are freshmen have not been home since June 25th. We have a lot of those guys from the state, got a lot of those guys within driving distance from Ohio and Chicago. It was good to give them about 36 hours to be a human being and go home and maybe watch their high school play, see mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncles, whoever -- I thought that was positive. And then from the academic side also I think it’s always a help.

"So we’ll find out obviously Saturday. We’ve got a tremendous challenge because I think Purdue’s playing as well as anybody in our league right now. Three and one. Went to South Bend and played a hard-fought tough game, had a chance to win the game. So we got our work cut out for us.”

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Notre Dame

Submitted by Brian on September 28th, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Formation notes: "second and seven under center play action":



Substitution notes: usual. When Lewan went out temporarily they made the same OL switch. No Rawls, FWIW.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB sweep Robinson 5
End around fake gets Te'o chasing Gallon way away from the play after he initially reacted quickly to the actual run. Kwiatkowski(+1) seals Tuitt inside impressively; Mealer cannot pass Nix off to Barnum and the other ILB and Motta are flowing freely. Schofield makes contact with the playside OLB at a hash; OLB tries to force it inside but Robinson just runs past him, jogging OOB as Motta comes up. Probably a push as far as yardage goes, but upside was greater on the cut.
M30 2 5 I-form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass FB wheel trickery Kerridge Inc (Pen +15)
Kerridge offset. Gardner comes in motion and takes a pitch from Robinson, then sets up to throw. This doesn't really fool the OLB covering Kerridge but he is checking for a potential run and ends up a step or two behind. Gardner leaves it short, giving the LB a chance to catch up and interfere. (MA, 1, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M45 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 3
ND shifts from an under look back to their standard presnap. Lewan(-1) is smoked by Tuitt on the backside. Omameh and Mealer(-1) double Nix; when Nix takes the contact he pulls Mealer with him so that when Omameh releases he's free to run at the play, too. Denard pulls as he sees the playside LB bug out for the frontside but the two DL cut off the vertical hole and he ends up having to go back outside, which blows up all the blocking angles and lets a bunch of guys converge after three. +0.5 for Schofield, I guess, for fending off Lewis-Moore decently enough and giving Denard the little chunk he did get.
M48 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide tight 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Slant Gallon Inc
I don't think this is a bad throw, actually, since the OLB was backing out into this route and if he leads Gallon he is potentially throwing an INT. Gallon gets his hands on it but it's behind him and dropped. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)
M48 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Scramble Robinson 7
Forever to look, but he can't find anyone. Kind of looks like a delayed drag from Gardner is his primary read after the other guys run off the coverage, but for whatever reason he doesn't like that and takes off, reaching for the first down dangerously. He's down before it comes out. (SCR, N/A, protection 3/3, Robinson +1 on ground.) On replay, he didn't really have anyone.
O45 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA fly Roundtree Inc
Under center PA fools no one, nobody open. ND only rushes three, leaving a spy back. Time and Robinson chucks it in the general direction of a blanketed Roundtree. That's so overthrown I think he's throwing it away, but if so just run the ball. There was room to pick up something. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)
O45 2 10 I-form 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 2
A corner blitz submarines this. A slant got Nix upfield of Barnum but Barnum gets a shove and Nix runs by the play, leaving a gap; Toussaint tries to hit it but is run down by the corner and a LB coming around the outside. RPS -1.
O43 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Dig Roundtree Inc
Double A gap blitz. Michigan almost picks it up. Toussaint chops down one LB, but he is fortunate enough to roll over to his feet quickly enough to get up and hit Robinson as he throws. He'd found an open guy but the pass sails since he literally cannot step into it. (BA, 0, protection ½, Toussaint -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Ace trips bunch 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Pitch sweep Toussaint -2
Play asks Roundtree(-1) to block a 250 pound OLB with predictable results. OLB beats him, strings it out, pushes Roundtree back, etc. Te'o shoots up in the gap to the interior of this block and convinces Lewan(-1) he must abort his pull outside Roundtree to take him. Toussaint ends up with no space and unblocked guys in his face. RPS -1.
O12 2 12 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Pass PA sack N/A -3
Play asks Toussaint to block Tuitt with predictable results. He whiffs, Lewan gets beat by Shembo, down goes Robinson. (PR, N/A, protection 0/4, Lewan -2, Toussaint -2) Also no one was open because not one ND player took a step towards the line of scrimmage, but hey when you can get Michigan's incredibly deep TE corps on the field on second and goal from the twelve, you gotta do it. RPS -2.
O15 3 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Sack N/A -10
Barnum(-1) is shoved back into the pocket by KLM; Schofield(-2) gets crushed back by Tuitt and Denard has no pocket and an edge rusher, with predictable result. Looks like Tuitt got his rush by smashing Schofield in the face, which isn't legal, but it also isn't called. Meanwhile, everyone in the pattern is double covered. Woo! (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, Barnum -1, Schofield -2).
Drive Notes: missed FG(43), 0-0, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M12 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run End-around Gallon 8
Similar to the Norfleet play from UMass. The OLB and corner to that side both hop out to contain; Gallon cuts it up. M gets lucky after a terrible block from JRobinson(-1), who's supposed to crack down on a linebacker and gives a weak shoulder shove as he falls to the ground. This means he accidentally trips KLM as he tries to release from Schofield(+1, I guess), and KLM falls into the linebacker who was gently caressed by JRob. Gallon(+0.5) cuts behind a charging Te'o on the corner and picks up an extra few yards.
M20 2 2 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Yakety snap N/A -6
Was going to be an inverted veer, it looks like.
M14 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Dig Gardner 18
Good protection; Robinson zings it in a tight window just as Gardner breaks open between two zone defenders. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M32 1 10 Ace 3TE 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass Throwback screen Gallon Inc
Third TE actually Kerridge, no Funchess. This one isn't going anywhere even if accurate, as Lewan got bumped by the OLB and cannot get out on the corner. OLB and CB will probably combine to TFL if caught. Denard turfs it. (IN, 0, screen)
M32 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Hitch Roundtree 9
Barnum pulls and falls over but ND is just containing, really, and there's no pressure. Big difference between this and the passing downs above. Corner to this side is playing three deep and is run off by a corner route; Roundtree is wide open underneath it as a linebacker tries to get out on him. This is a read he was making in his first start, FWIW. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M41 3 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run QB power Robinson 2
Safety blitz almost blows this up as ND slants under the blocking and sends Motta; Omameh(+1) almost accidentally blocks him, but block him he does. Robinson(+0.5) can blast straight ahead to barely get it. Williams(-1) got slanted under dangerously; Lewan(+0.5) got enough movement on his guy to provide the tiny window exploited.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Inside zone Toussaint 0
Slant sends Toussaint into a corner blitz. Mealer(-2) got beat up by the slant and ends up in the backfield, forcing Toussaint into the unblocked contain. If the corner didn't get him the other unblocked LB would. RPS -1.
M43 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass PA rollout dig Roundtree 11
PA half roll thing puts Denard in space with unblocked Tuitt. Denard stops, finds Roundtree in a spot on his dig route, and zips it to him without stepping into the throw. Flat footed, a dart. I bet this goes as well all other times. (DO, 3, protection N/A)
O46 1 10 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 4-3 under Pass PA hitch Gallon 12
Two guys in this pattern and ND still gets pressure as Barnum(-1) and Mealer(-1) get split. Denard has to roll away from that and zings it to Gallon, dangerously. CB was breaking on the ball and almost had a play. (CA, 2, protection 1/3, Barnum -1, Mealer -1)
O34 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA comeback Gardner 9
Great protection this time, though again we're talking two guys in a route so maybe that's expected. Gardner comes open, Denard slings it to him. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O25 2 1 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Nickel even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 15
Kwiatkowski(+1) erases the end, who I can't ID. Backup? OLB contains, Denard sees a lane, he pulls. Barnum(+1) gets a block on Te'o. Schofield fell as he released but did make the other ILB run around him enough for Denard(+2) to burst into the open field, where he does not get a block from Roundtree(-1) and ends up chopped down by a safety.
O10 1 10 Ace trips bunch 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Halfback pass Dileo INT
You know about this. RPS punt; ND getting Te'o in Smith's face so fast he panics is because the line busts. Smith gets a BRX, if you're keeping score at home.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint 2
Kind of a midline look as Lewan flares out to block OLB Shembo and the 3-4 DE is let go. He's outside, so give. The end result of blocking Shembo is to remove Lewan from blocking the backside LB. Toussaint wants to cut back, but unblocked LB, so he has to go back into the interior, where he's dead meat. Given the angle of Toussaint's attack this is probably what he's supposed to do. Not sure what they think ND is doing that will make this work, but it doesn't. Mealer and Barnum managed to get enough push to crease Nix a little but that's a push at best; Schofield(-1) got beat up by Tuitt. RPS -1.
M36 2 8 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even Penalty False start Toussaint -5
M31 2 13 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson 2
They fake the bubble screen, which only proves that the bubble would have picked up like ten yards on this play. Of course, this should have as well, but Te'o makes Omameh(-2) whiff and Barnum(-1) does not get much of a block on the other LB.
M33 3 11 Shotgun trips 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Pass Corner Gallon INT
Toussaint motions out. M rolls the pocket to the field, which only succeeds in getting a three man rush instant pressure when Kerridge(-2) is assigned to Shembo and fails to cut him. Three guys block Tuitt, though. Guy in Denard's face, throws worst possible pass ever. Absolutely no one open, FWIW. Throw it away, Denard. (BRXXX, 0, protection 0/2, Kerridge -2) RPS -1, as best case this playcall is a sack since you singled up a freshman fullback on a great pass rusher on a three man rush.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 11 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass PA slant Gardner INT
PA leaves Te'o unblocked, who then runs into Denard's face. Denard finds Gardner, who's open, and throws it way in front of him. (INX, 0, protection 0/2, Smith -2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 9 min 2nd Q. FWIW, the production on this game is fantastic. Great replays, no missed plays, Maycock saying a ton of smart things.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run QB sweep Robinson 3
PA fake with Toussaint going hard the other way doesn't hold anyone. Kwiatkowski(+1) gets a block on the playside end that forces him to give a ton of ground to come around it. That should secure the edge but a late move from Motta brings a ninth guy into the box and he aggressively fills that hole unblocked. Roundtree is hypothetically the guy who is supposed to block him but he's running downfield at the guy in man over him. (Who is twelve yards off the LOS. Bubble, etc.) Denard decides to cut back, which is worth three yards. Going at unblocked Motta is probably the same, so push. I liked Barnum(+1) sealing Te'o inside and giving Denard a lane; Lewan(+0.5) got a good kick so there is a spot. Mealer(-1) did not help Omameh seal Nix very much and he ended up not blocking anyone on the second level. RPS -1.
M23 2 7 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 8
Lewan(+2) and Kwiatkowski(+0.5) get great push on the playside DE, which makes the LBs' jobs very tough. DE contains, Robinson pulls. Lewan then comes off a crushing block on the playside DE to get a LB. Barnum(+1) has cut off Nix; Robinson has a big lane and hits it up. He's about a foot from busting outside for a big gain but can't quite get behind Williams(+0.5) who had an extended backside block that fended off Shembo.
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 3
Schofield pulls. Barnum and Mealer get motion, but a LB shoots the gap on the backside. Te'o shows hard and gets outside at the LOS, funneling back; with the other LB pursuing Robinson doesn't have much of an option other than running up Schofield's back for a few. I think Nix was holding Mealer, FWIW, but it was subtle enough to not get called, because you never get called unless you literally tackle a dude. I think this is push all around.
M34 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Waggle derp Gallon INT
Notre Dame may be expecting this! Tuitt is on the edge, unblocked, and immediately shoots up at Robinson; nobody open, Robinson should just take a sack, but throws something in the general direction of Gallon that is both a terrible decision and inaccurate, turnover. (BRX, 0, protection 0/2, team -2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 6 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 2
This is set up pretty well with Lewan(+1) blowing up one LB and two blockers hitting it up in the hole to block Te'o. Robinson(-2) should hit it up like the play is designed, but instead tries to cut back, where Nix hacks him down since he's just invalidated Barnum's block. Funchess(+1) kicked out Shembo well.
M18 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB sweep Robinson 20
Kwiatkowski(+1) seals Shembo; Lewan and Barnum pull around. LBs are charging hard upfield at the snap, which gets one of them blocked by a releasing Mealer(+1). Te'o gets super aggressive and tries to shoot inside of Barnum to attack an outside run, which runs him out of the play. Lewan(+0.5) easily kicks the OLB, and the nose is the nearest guy as Robinson hits the LOS. Boom secondary. Robinson ducks OOB after picking up a bunch. RPS +2: caught the LBs with a play that exploited their aggression.
M38 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Hail Mary Roundtree INT
Why is Roundtree just jogging down the field? Why is Michigan throwing a Hail Mary with 16 seconds on the clock and a timeout? We may never know. Not charted.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-10, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 31
M seems so much more comfortable running at a four man line. Omameh(+2) takes on Nix one on one and blows him off the line. Mealer(+1) releases and kicks one of the ILBs. Te'o is not trying to hit the frontside gap and contains backside as he is again expecting this to be the belly. It looks like it but the Toussaint angle indicates it is not. The slight change gets two guys on the backside, where they're useless. Toussaint(+1) glides through the gap; Lewan(+0.5) gets an eh block on the corner, who gives up the edge, and Toussaint breaks a big one. RPS +1.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone stretch Toussaint 4
Again two guys end up containing Denard. Te'o is creeping forward at the start as Motta comes down over the TE to check any of those PA seams and bursts upfield in a flash past Omameh(-1), who does not recognize this and get a shove. Toussaint(+1) makes a cut behind this and gets some yards thanks to the double delay on Denard; Nix got moved by Mealer(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) and this helps as well. RPS push; guys on backside are good, but allowing Te'o to attack like this bad; bubble yadda.
O44 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run QB power Robinson -1
Toussaint runs to the opposite edge on a fake that holds some backside guys as Barnum pulls around the TE and Lewan. Te'o is running at the gap on the snap after having read the Barnum pull, presumably, and is aligned in such a way so that Mealer had no shot anyway. He shows in an otherwise well blocked hole (Kwiatkowksi, Lewan(+0.5 each), Barnum(+1). Denard has to run up the backs of his blockers and gets nil. RPS -1. Unblocked guy in hole due to ND D alignment.
O45 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Drag Gallon 8
Straight dropback; four man rush with Te'o spying. He comes on a delayed rush and the other LB bugs out for Toussaint flaring out of the backfield, opening up a cross. Denard steps into it and hits Gallon against three guys on the first level of the zone. He turns it up for the first. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O37 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 9
OLB contains, pull. Kwiatkowksi(+0.5) seals a slow-reacting Tuitt inside. Te'o is outside of an attempted block from Schofield, which isn't really his fault. Barnum(+1) pulls around and nails him. Te'o contains, forcing it back inside. Motta assumes this is not happening and hops outside; Roundtree(+0.5) gets a block; Denard cuts behind. No flow from the inside as Omameh(+1) hammers Nix on a double. This is momentarily super exciting until Robinson(+1) runs into the overhanging corner as he tries to get the edge. Nice tackle but I think Denard needs to keep going straight upfield since this guy didn't screw it up this time. Schofield(-1) tried to block Te'o, missed, and then peeled back instead of just going further downfield, or he could have blocked the CB and put Denard one on one with the S for six.
O28 2 1 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 4 (Pen -10)
This is all Toussaint(-2), who has a gap to slam it up for a first down in as Omameh(+1) gets push on Nix; Barnum is giving ground but has fended off an OLB. Toussaint's going to get a yard or four and not much more, but that's a first down. Instead he bounces around a guy three yards in the backfield and a second guy further outside two yards in the backfield, into the boundary, which draws holding calls and gets him the same number of yards he would have had anyway.
O38 2 11 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 over Run End-around Gallon 5
Almost but not quite a big gain as FR Day is in at this end and is the guy M is trying to confuse. He pops up and contains the QB as Gallon gets the ball. Nix goes straight upfield, knocking back Barnum(-0.5) and delaying Omameh's pull, so he can get to Day before he realizes who's got it and starts chasing. JRobinson(+1) cracks down on the playside LB very well; Lewan whiffs on Te'o but to the outside, which makes him not relevant. Corner contains at the numbers and Day manages to run Gallon down from behind. Nice play by Day.
O33 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Drag Roundtree 10
Double A gap gets a guy in immediately, M has a route right beneath that from Roundtree. No one within 10 yards of him, easy completion and YAC for first. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O23 1 10 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint -1
Schofield(+1) locks out Tuitt and pushes him upfield. Linebackers flow hard to the playside, Toussaint(-1) sees massive cutback lane provided by Schofield, cuts into it... and falls down untouched. Glarble. Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) had blown up KLM, FWIW; Omameh and Mealer had a tougher time with Nix but did okay.
O24 2 11 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Run Lead zone Toussaint 8
Nix starts pushing into the intended hole; Mealer(+0.5) and Barnum(+1) push him down the line and eventually pancake him, with Barnum popping out on a LB. Kerridge(+1) eases past the detour and booms the other ILB. Toussaint(+1) has a big gap now thanks to Lewan(+1) kicking the backside DE way out and cuts behind Kerridge into a big gap. He starts dancing as pursuit converges and picks up a nice gain.
O16 3 3 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Speed option Robinson 5
Kwiatkowski(+1) and Schofield(+1) blow Tuitt out, knocking him downfield; Mealer(+0.5) just manages to get his helmet across Nix and there's a crease Robinson(-3) hits. An arm rakes the ball out, drive over.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-10, 8 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Iso Toussaint 2
Argh bubble etc. Schofield(-2) is head up on KLM and doesn't really get anything. No motion, beat to inside. Omameh(+0.5) and Mealer(+0.5) beat up on Nix pretty good and Kerridge(+1) plowed the MLB; Toussaint has to cut away from his blocking because KLM is all over it. OLB who should be covering bubble contains.
M45 2 8 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 1
DE comes down on Robinson so give. Smith hits him not too well but enough; Omameh is pulling around to block the LB trying to contain; Toussaint(-2) should bounce it outside after feinting in but just decides to run into defenders. Barnum(+0.5) neutralized a penetrating Nix and Omameh(+0.5) got to the POA despite some delay caused by that; Lewan(+0.5) seemed to have a pretty good handle on Te'o.
M46 3 7 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass TE out Funchess 5
Gallon runs the corner off and Funchess goes out to exploit the space underneath. Denard hits him but it's kind of a slow, looping pass that allows the corner to recover quickly enough to prevent any YAC and force Michigan in to a fourth down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O49 4 2 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Out Dileo 4
Toussaint motions out to give an empty look. A couple of quick outs to the short side of the field are paired with a corner blitz so both Dileo and Gardner are open. Denard's pass is dodgy and low but Dileo digs it out. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)
O45 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Run Iso Toussaint 5
ND reacting hard to inside zone action from the OL. Te'o is gone a gap away from the play as Mealer(+1) moves out on him after doubling Nix, who Omameh(-1) seals away. Nix comes upfield of Omameh's block and pursues Toussaint from behind. Kerridge(+1) pounds the LB and gets movement on him. Schofield(+1) blows up a backup DE and there's a gap; the Omameh block makes it smaller than it should be. Pursuit harasses Toussaint into the filling S.
O40 2 5 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 1
Mealer pulls here. ND is just too aggressive on this one, but they have to have gotten help from a Jackson(-2) bust as he runs right by the OLB to this side to hit a safety. OLB contains, getting outside the Mealer block, Te'o fills unblocked, Robinson bounces out for a minimal gain. Man, Kwiatkowski(+0.5) is just sealing guys every time. Easy job? Or is he killing people?
O39 3 4 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Speed option Robinson 6
Omameh(+1) gets across the playside DT, who is a backup, and gets to the second level; Mealer(+1) then takes over and eventually puts this guy five yards downfield as he tries to flow. Schofield(+1) and Kwiatkowksi(+1) do the same thing to the DE, who is FR Day. Robinson sees the world caving in and just rams it up the backs of his OL for the first. Pitch was open too. Lewan leaves with a shoe issue.
O33 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 5
ND has slid its LBs to the field and Robinson is reading the OLB, as M blocks the line. OLB contains, pull. Kwiatkowski(+0.5) and Schofield (now at LT, +0.5) seal Day, with Kwi popping out on a LB. Burzynski(+1) pulls around and hits Te'o. Hole. Robinson hits it up then cuts behind, which seems like a good idea, but Mealer(-1) lost KLM after getting a good seal on him and he flows down the line to tackle.
O28 2 5 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint 3
Again they're flaring out to block that OLB and letting the 3-4 DE go; DE does not really commit anywhere and there is a handoff. Ride that mesh longer or you're not really getting anywhere here. Toussaint is attacking farther outside, but this time no holes. Mealer(-1) got pushed too far by Nix; Schofield(+0.5) got a decent push on KLM and Toussaint can run up his back for a few.
O25 3 2 Shotgun 2back 2TE 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 3
Lewan back in. He(+1) blows KLM back a yard on the snap and to the inside. Kwiatkowski and Williams(+0.5) both take on players at the POA. Kwiatkowski has a DE, who wins easily but not fast enough to be relevant. Williams stalemates a LB. Omameh shoves him forward, Robinson burrow up behind. RPS +1; this was a pretty easy conversion with a spare blocker pushing a pile past the sticks.
O22 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB sweep Robinson 0
Oof. This is one block away from being huge, and that block is Omameh(-2) not getting any kind of seal on a DT shaded inside of him. He fires out straight while everyone else steps right, Nix gets the edge on him. Kwiatkowski(+1) gets Tuitt sealed. Schofield and Mealer pull around. Schofield doesn't actually kick the OLB but he's moving way outside to contain. Mealer(+1) chops Te'o but the contain and pursuit from Nix ends the play when this is probably at least a first down otherwise. Denard tries to cut after being chased outside and slips, giving up a few yards.
O22 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 4
Barnum(-1) does not step around Nix after he takes a Mealer bump and loses him to the playside. Omameh(-1) just gets beat by KLM. Toussaint(+1) bounces outside past both DTs and picks up a few thanks to Kwiatkowski(+0.5) and Schofield(+0.5) getting the playside DE back a couple yards.
O18 3 6 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA scramble Robinson 3
Play action fake does nothing except get two ND defenders in as they take off for Robinson. LBs suck up a little but get back on a little drag over the middle, and Funchess is blanketed by two guys. Denard dances around and gets tackled short of the sticks. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, team -2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: FG(33), 3-10, 13 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA post corner Gardner Inc
Gardner starts in the backfield and then motions out. Denard gets great protection this time and can sit and survey until Kwiatkowski finally gets beat, whereupon he finds a miraculously open Gardner 40 yards downfield. Gardner again does the 360 as Denard takes him away from the safety; pass is in his hands; dropped. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2) No idea why this could possibly work in this situation but it did. Borges sorcery ++.
M30 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 2TE 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Pass RB wheel Toussaint Inc
Toussaint motions out to the boundary, which is WR-free. Token play fake to Kerridge, protection pretty good but Omameh does make Robinson move his feet a little. He's staring at a bunch of covered guys and manages to put it over the head of a guy in great coverage on Toussaint, who has the ball in his hands a moment before Motta comes over the top and separates it from him after disengaging from Funchess, who he's covering. We don't get a wide shot to see if he had someone somewhere else; this is a great deep throw and a play equal to that from Motta. (DO, 1, protection 2/2)
M30 3 10 Shogun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Improv Gardner 13
Only a three man rush. Robinson steps up through it after his initial survey finds no one. This draws a couple of underneath zone defenders up; he tosses it over them to Gardner, who is still just a hair in front of the safety. Completion, tackle, first down. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Bubble screen Gallon 13
Boy am I glad it took 54 minutes to throw this. It's not a true bubble as the throw is delayed and guys get downfield to block but it's so open Gallon cuts inside of the OLB despite Roundtree setting up to block him so Roundtree can get outside. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1!)
O44 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA corner JRobinson 20
PA kind of threatens dread waggle. Barnum is flaring out to the waggle-ish side to block, though, and Smith has enough time to shut down Shembo on his otherwise unblocked charge. Denard sets up and now has a simple high low read on the corner, who is not sinking, so he throws the corner. Nails the other Robinson in the numbers on rhythm. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass TE drag Funchess 5
Double A blitz. It's not timed as well as the MSU ones, which allows a pickup. Smith gets a cut but the LB does force a throw; it's the same drag M used a couple times earlier and is complete but this time ND is ready for an immediate tackle. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O19 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson 12
ND sends only three and starts dropping the LBs; by the time M releases downfield all those guys are at the sticks and moving backwards. Mealer(+1) shoves the NT to one side and that's Denard through the line. Funchess(+1) and Omameh(+1) pick up blocks on virtually stationary downfield defenders and Robinson shoots between them, getting chopped down by a safety inside the ten. RPS +1.
O7 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 1
Funchess(-1) is blocking down and gets blown up by Day, which picks off Barnum's pull and makes Denard(-2) decides to go under it... which is where Day is. Go outside, take your chances, maybe get OOB.
O6 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Sack N/A -8
All day, no one open. Robinson's timer goes off and he wants to scramble around; Day grabs him as he tries to break the pocket. Not Schofield's fault at all. Just a thing that happens on the goal line sometimes. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O14 3 G Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Corner Gardner Inc
OL collapsing all around him as ND knows he has to throw and is really coming hard this time w/ Te'o spying. Gardner is his best option and is kind of open. Denard misses, putting it off Gardner's hand but well OOB. (IN, 0, protection 2/3, team -1)
Drive Notes: FG(33) 6-13, 3 min 4th Q. EOG for offense

Dispensing with chatter.

This was the structural problem with the Michigan offense against ND.




  • often showed extremely soft coverage,
  • ran cover zero behind it,
  • never had their corners tested, and
  • never had their OLBs put in a bind.

I'm not just talking about bubble screens here. In either of the top two frames, a simple smash concept…


A and Z are running a smash concept that high-lows the corner

…is an easy read Michigan—one Denard was doing way back in the day—is in advantageous position on. Michigan ran some of these. They either should have kept going to that and curl-flat or bubble screens until ND was forced out of this defense.

They should also have protected Denard at all costs. Even in this game, when Robinson had time he was zipping it in.

Borges's late under center passes were max-protect sorts that kept Robinson clean and resulted in big gains (or should have) as ND's inexperienced corners got lost on Gardner, sucked up on a short route, opening up a longer one, etc.

On each interception*, Denard got quick pressure. On the first it was a three man rush with a rolling pocket that got a redshirt freshman fullback singled up against Shembo. On the second, Te'o flies up in the pocket unmolested. Smart Football suggested that Smith needs to abort the mesh point and just go block the guy, and yeah if that's what ND is doing and Michigan is prepared for it go for it. They apparently weren't. I've never seen M abort a mesh like that, or have to.

The third is second and seven under center play action that gets Tuitt in Denard's face. Is Gallon open? Yeah. Does that somehow erase the fact that Denard has thrown INTs on his past two throws thanks to pressure, has has thrown the ball away once this year and was amongst the worst guys in the country in interception rate last year? I mean, we know this happens. It has just happened against Air Force and UMass, at home. It is not going to stop happening. Calling plays that emphasize this flaw is insane. Everyone in the stadium knows that when Michigan goes under center a defender or two will make their top priority Denard containment. He'll be unblocked, and Denard will have to form up and make a throw with a guy in his face. Which he sucks at.

If you don't think that's stupid, I don't know what else I can tell you. Robinson was 24 of 40 for 244 yards, a TD, and no INTs two years ago against the Irish in a year when they finished with the #25 pass efficiency D. His regression is obvious despite having two solid years of QB coaching from Borges to raise him up.

If it's not the structure of the offense, what is it? Is Denard in Flowers for Algernon?

*[we're setting aside the Hail Mary because it's a Hail Mary.]

Now, Denard.

Losing this game was of course a joint effort. Passing table:

[Hennechart legend is updated.]

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%
Air Force 1 14 3 2 1 - 2 1 - 75%
UMass 1 16(4) - 4 - 1 1 1 3 68%
Notre Dame 4 10(1) 2 4(1) 2 1 1 3 1 65%

Gardner had an MA, Smith an INX. UFR charts don't fully weight the horribleness of any particularly horrible throw and so the DSR does not reflect the horrible horrible INTs. It's still pretty bad. The run chart is worse for Denard: he ends up –2.5 after fumbling and missing some cuts.

I've gotten so many conflicting opinions on the Gardner route on INT 2 that I don't know what is going on there, but he's staring right at Gardner so even if the route is not as expected he should be adjusting to that. The most authoritative word I've heard said the route was fine in the eyes of the coaches, so the final verdict is it's on Denard (and the combination of events that literally prevented him from stepping into the throw).

Meanwhile, taking sacks or just chucking the ball away on the other two throws saves Michigan 100 yards of field position, with another 71 thrown away by the fumble. Thanks to the heroics of the defense, it took both Denard and Borges having awful games to lose it, but lose it they did.

FWIW, Denard did abort a throw in the second half, which resulted in… a failure to convert a third down and a field goal attempt after he got instant pressure on ill-conceived play action. If he had done that in the first half, Michigan punts and ends up in third and long on the two passes that were just WTF—ie, not the Gardner miss. FWIW, in that half he was 8 of 11 with two of the incompletions deep balls in the hands of his WRs on the final drive. Notably, he was not eating unblocked pass rushers as he did this.

How could the pieces fit together better?

Bubble, etc. Posts written about it before. Or flash screens or what have you, anything that forces opposition corners and linebackers to think about the slot guys on every play. They're more effective as in the box blockers when they are dragging guys out of the box than trying to deal with guys much bigger than them.

That brings the secondary up, and then you're either looking at a deep safety and a more consistent run game, opportunities to hit shots over the top, or zip gone TDs. Here's a nine-yard inverted veer from the second half:

They option off the OLB. The safety sitting twelve yards off the LOS flashes into the screen at the end; he's the guy who forced Denard into the cornerback. If Michigan has forced him to react to the possibility of a bubble screen, he is not available and this defense has just ceded a 42 yard touchdown, or Motta has made a fantastic recovery—look how he's beating Roundtree's block to the outside—and Michigan still gets nine yards.

Meanwhile, Michigan's best running play is that inverted veer.

Michigan has no play action off of it. They have no counter from it. They just kind of run it. And it's great! But if you want to get the explosion back you need to start screwing with opponents by faking your good plays. Michigan tried it last year, couldn't block it, and dumped it. They took an offseason and kept it dumped. Oy.

Michigan should be running more max protection schemes. Keep Denard clean, give him a couple options, and then tell him to take off. Maybe leak Toussaint or Smith (or Norfleet) out of the backfield after a delay.

What was with the Vincent Smith play? That didn't look right.

It wasn't. A reader pointed out what Michigan did against Minnesota, pulling both playside linemen. On the initial pitch play, Michigan pulled both playside linemen. On the ill-fated trick play, nobody pulls. According to Borges that's a call that did not get to the line, which yeah. I punt on the RPS there, shading to plus since if Smith didn't have to pull up so quickly it looked like Dileo was coming open.

Consider my objections there retracted. The play likely would have worked but for the bust on the line call.

Please give me something positive?

The offensive line went from battered to batterer at halftime, inexplicably. Michigan's first play of the half set the tone when Patrick Omameh(!) of all people blows Nix off the line of scrimmage:

Michigan manballed up late and blew a dump-truck sized hole in the ND OL plus got a Dudley-level thump from Kerridge:

On a speed option late, Michigan picked up a third and four by blowing ND down the line so far that it didn't matter that the pitch was unbelievably wide open.

Here's the run chart:

the ratio that is important for the OL. On a lot of plays they do okay and get a push.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 8.5 2 6.5 Got quality motion.
Barnum 7.5 3.5 4 Much better day than UMass.
Mealer 8 6 2 Big time struggles early, did better, also bad snap.
Omameh 8 7 1 I'll take a positive day for him against that line.
Schofield 7 6 1 Roughed up a little, but came through okay.
Kwiatkowski 10.5 - 10.5 I must be giving him too much credit for easy stuff?
Moore - - - DNP
Williams 1 1 0 Kwiatkowski is getting more PT than these guys though.
Funchess 2 1 1 Not really tested.
TOTAL 53.5 26.5 67% Burzsnyski also +1. That's quality but the Kwiatkowski thing worries me about this number.
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 4.5 7 -2.5 Didn't really get many Denard yards.
Bellomy - - - DNP
Toussaint 4 5 -1 Couple of WHAT ARE YOU DOING cuts
Rawls - - - DNP
Smith - - - DNCarry
Hayes - - - DNP
Hopkins - - - DNP
Kerridge 3 - 3 Insert complaints about scholarship FBs x2
TOTAL 11.5 12 -0.5 Need better from the ballcarriers.
Player + - T Notes
Gardner - - 1-  
Roundtree 0.5 2 -1.5  
Gallon 0.5 - -  
Jackson - 2 -2  
Dileo - - - --
J. Robinson 1 1 0  
Darboh - - - --
TOTAL 2 5 -3 [Comment not found]
Player + - T Notes
Protection 32 19 63% Toussaint –3, Lewan –2, Schofield –2, Barnum –2, Kerridge –2, Smith –2, Mealer –1, Team -5
RPS 12 13 -1 I was super super kind on the Denard INTs.

So, the protection sucked, and the line was in tough but came out okay, and the ballcarriers didn't do much, and I must be Mike Kwiatkowski's secret dad or something. I don't know about the Kwiatkowski stuff, but he sealed guys away every time when Michigan went for the edge. That gave him a ton of relevant blocks that he accomplished and boosted those numbers up there. I probably should have started with the half-points more, but I'll keep an eye on him in the future. There is a reason he is playing a lot more than Williams in single TE sets (and sets with Funchess).


[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Gardner 2 - - 3/4   9 0/3 1/2 10/11
Roundtree 1   - 3/3   4 0/1 1/1 7/7
Gallon 2   1/1 2/2   5 0/1 3/4 9/9
J. Robinson       1/1   1 0/1   1/1
Dileo     1/1     1 1/1 2/2 2/2
Jackson           1     3/4
Kwiatkowski                 2/2
Funchess       2/2     1/1   7/7
Toussaint   0/1   1/1     0/1 0/1 1/1
Smith       1/1       0/1 3/3
Kerridge   0/1         0/1    


Nothing to see here, really.


Kwiatkowski was a major part of Michigan's success on the ground, along with Lewan.


Denard, Borges, Denard, Borges, Denard, Borges, Denard, Borges, offensive line pass pro.

What does it mean for the Big Ten schedule?

I don't know, man. I'm guessing they'll finally look at themselves and say "okay, let's just assume this is what happens when Denard gets pressured" and move to avoid that at all costs. That means more running, fewer plays on which they put Denard on the edge against an unblocked dude, and please sweet baby Jesus more easy quasi-running game throws that get Gallon more touches.

Even in this dismal game, Denard's passes when he did not get pressure were quality, so max protect the guy, give him easy hot reads against those double-A blitzes, and run the ball.

They can and will do better against the Big Ten. Yes. I believe this.

Dear Diary Mitheth Them Alweady

Dear Diary Mitheth Them Alweady

Submitted by Seth on September 28th, 2012 at 9:38 AM


See if you can spot Upchurch in his bucket hat | my phone

There’s a Kryk article in the 2011 HTTV about how Nebraska and Notre Dame spent much of the first bit of the 20th century beating down the doors to the Big then-Nine (actually nine). In the days when everyone had to travel by train, Lincoln was WEST man. As for Notre Dame, they were well within the conference footprint, but far outside the preppy conference’s idea of a fit. Said Kryk:

“[Expanding beyond nine members] wasn’t the biggest reason for keeping Notre Dame out. Academic snobbery was, followed closely by religious prejudice. The Big Nine was run by academic elitists, and they viewed the education provided by religious institutions of higher learning such as Notre Dame as purely second-rate.”

If you know your University of Michigan history, you’ll remember James Burill Angell’s biggest battles with regents and the rest of the brass were around his hiring Catholic  faculty and saying nice things about papists. It’s a little snapshot of the prevailing prejudices of the day, and the genesis of the Notre Dame psyche.

You’ll also know that from these early days we too were arrogant enough to go it independent for a time. But while Michigan evolved toward benchmarks of greatness that involve our in-conference rivalries, Notre Dame’s established IMG_1670themselves as a fearless lone wolf. It’s why we balk when our chief rival is moved to another division, while they see nothing untoward about canceling the Michigan series to guarantee one West Coast game per year.

Fast forward a century with plenty of independent glory and this is what we hath wrought: a group of exceptionalists who are in many ways truly exceptional. Like how a mountain range of new or recently renovated megaliths spring out of an industrial Northern Indiana town. Like how in this craven era they can play on dirt and grass in an 80,000 seat bowl with no jumbotrons, no bad seats, and overlooked by a great big mural of religious figure who may be praying, may be calling touchdown, or may be exclaiming “Oy vey.” And yet they will also exclaim six times, with Michigan in attendance, that their fight song is the greatest. They will mike their band and have them drown out the visitors’ whenever our guys strike up. They’ll blare pump-up music deep into the opponent’s snap count on 3rd downs. And they’ll scoff at our 100-years-late invitation to finally sign on as half-members of the Virginia and Duke conference, keep the extra home game of this now odd-numbered series, and then tell Yost’s team to go screw.

Calling them arrogant when we’re the school that shows up to other stadiums with a trailer painted all over with the message “mine’s bigger” is pot-kettle-ish. They are the hot chick, and we can’t have them anymore. Cue the diaries of Notre longing. Start with conference realignment at the end game as oakapple, rehashes the four axioms that drive college football relationships. Then DanRareEgg reminisces over the latest series that spanned, with a few two-year hiatuses, from Dan Devine to Denard’s derps. Big Will the Gazelle thinks canning the Michigan rivalry to keep MSU and Purdue is a departure from the “We’ll play anybody, any time” ethos that built the ND brand. And if you’re really not ready to let go, here’s k.o.k.Law with a present tense poetic retelling of his ‘06 experience.

Let’s do THE JUMP here, and rejoin for the weeklies and the best of the board.

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Notre Dame

Submitted by Brian on September 27th, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Formation notes: I called whatever the heck this is "Nickel rush". The two DT types next to each other stunted, FWIW:


This was "okie one": man to man on the outside with a free safety and six guys on the LOS. Okie was rare.


Substitution notes: Roh and Clark went the whole way save for a drive or two on which Ojemudia spotted Clark. Washington and Campbell got the large majority of the snaps on the interior; Black was pretty marginalized. He seems to only be playing in the nickel package, of which there wasn't much.

The usual ILB rotation went down with Demens and Morgan getting a solid majority of playing time but Ross and Bolden featuring as well. Ryan played every snap, I think. Secondary was Taylor/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon the whole way with scattered nickel plays featuring Avery.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Fade Taylor INT
All day; Taylor jams his guy and ends up losing him deep a little. Golson leaves it short and Taylor(+2, cover push) snags it as he recovers. There was a window here between Taylor and Kovacs that was missed, but it's not the easiest thing in the world. Taylor is sinking in cover two, and you never want to throw over a sinking corner.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Cutback zone Floyd 8
End around fake to the boundary and the WR headhunting Kovacs from the start of the play implies this is a designed cutback. Clark(-1) gets pushed way too far down the line and opens it up. Floyd(-1) again totally fails to read a WR cracking down on a block a la Air Force and the corner opens up after Kovacs tries to fill the hole Clark left and gets blindsided by the WR.
O33 2 2 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Clark 5
Campbell(+1) takes a double and doesn't move, or get sealed, and takes two guys all the way to the end of the play. They're also doubling the backside end, bizarrely, so no second level guys. Wood has to go all the way outside. He gets the corner and I'm not sure if it's Morgan slowing up instead of hauling for the outside or Clark getting sealed inside that's the culprit. I think Clark(-1) since I haven't seen Michigan not use the end as the contain guy.
O38 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Demens 2
This looks grim for a moment as Clark gets sealed inside (ND's game plan is clear) and a tackle pulls around, but a couple of nice LB plays save it. Ryan(+1.5) delays, then jets past a center who got a free release. He comes around him in a flash and shoots up into the interior gap, taking the lead OL. Demens(+1.5) reads it, shoves a slot WR past him, and fills near the LOS.
O40 2 8 Shotgun 2TE Nickel even Pass N/A Sack Ryan 0
Yeah, they didn't credit Michigan with a sack, but I don't care. ND has one guy in this route, and it's not there as Avery(+1, cover +1) drops pack into the slant Eifert is running. Golson starts scrambling. Ryan(+1, pressure +1) grabs him by the ankles as he threatens to break into space and scramble a bit.
O40 3 8 Shotgun empty Dime Pass 4 Hitch Taylor Inc
Golson has a hitch route right at the sticks that is going to be 50-50 depending on whether Taylor can stick the guy right on the catch, but Golson airmails it. Probably a first down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ross 5
Ross in at MLB. He gets a free run as ND goes at Clark(+1) again. This time he stands up to a double and gets a little push, forcing a cut up. Campbell(-0.5) is flowing down the line, too, but eventually gets sealed. Ross can't quite get to the hole and impacts from the side, riding Atkinson to the ground but giving up 3 YAC. Like his decisiveness but not quite there on this one.
O25 2 5 Ace 3TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Clark 6
ND combos Campbell(+0.5) and gets out on Ross; Campbell comes through the block and shows in the hole, but it's too big and Ross(-0.5) does not funnel to help, but the real issue is probably Clark(-1) getting kicked out too far. He ends up way outside, so even though Ross does get outside of the G eventually he can't shut it down because of the big gap. Floyd and Kovacs fill after the sticks.
O31 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Clark 4
Michigan seems to be running a run blitz here as Clark(-2) pops outside immediately and Kovacs and Ross shoot into a backside hole. Campbell(+0.5) prevented anyone from getting out on Ross(+1), who saw the gap forming and flew up into it. Kovacs(+0.5) also there, and he didn't have to pick a gap. Michigan has this stoned until Clark is pancaked on the edge and the bounce opens up.
O35 2 6 Ace 3TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Roh 2
Roh(+1) slants outside past the T and gets into the backfield, picking off H-back Eifert and forcing a cutback. Campbell(+0.5) appears to block the guy supposed to get to Morgan on the second level. Morgan has a free run as a result. Bolden(-1) again gets tentative and then fights inside the blocker, momentarily giving Atkinson a lane outside that Morgan(+1) shuts down with a flash of speed. Could have been no gain and a thumping Morgan hit if this doesn't open up outside. Picture-paged.
O37 3 4 Shotgun empty 4-3 even Pass 4 Tunnel screen Ryan 1
Ryan(+3) is sucked out to the edge by the formation. He runs up hard to the outside of the TE, gets that TE moving out to block him, then pulls up short and dives back inside, making a tackle(+1) in space on Riddick as the DL recovers to cut off angles further inside. Great, great play.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Washington 1
Washington(+2) shoots under the center and forces a cutback into an unblocked Ryan(+0.5). Campbell(+1) had also gotten push and effectively two-gapped his blocker if the play went playside.
M16 2 9 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 4 TE seam Demens Inc
Eifert does beat Demens down the field and is separating as he reaches the endzone, but he's close enough to force a very tough throw out of Golson, who has to drop it over Demens's head before Gordon can get over. He misses. Cover +1.
M16 3 9 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 even Pass 4 TE seam Demens Inc
Roh(+2) roars off the ball and plows over the LT, hitting Golson from behind as he throws (pressure +2). Pass is still amazingly accurate, but Demens(+2,cover +2) is step for step with the TE and there is literally nowhere the ball can be that will be a catch.
Drive Notes: FG(33), 0-3, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Dumpoff Demens 13
No pressure(-2) as Roh oddly makes a fake pass drop before rushing on a a four-man pressure. Clark got off the ball late. Coverage downfield is good but they run everyone off and Demens gets stuck in space with Riddick and that doesn't go great. Considering the situation, Demens(+0.5) does well to hold Riddick relatively stationary until the cavalry arrives. (Cover -1, RPS -1)
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Dig Bolden 10
Bolden(-1, cover -2) slides out of his zone, opening up a dig route before the safeties. Again little pressure(-1) but it was better this time.
M10 1 G Ace 3TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power Campbell 0
Campbell(+2) slides over on the snap, moving past a couple of DL, one of whom falls. He takes on Eifert head up, sheds him to the inside, and hits in the hole. Roh(+1) had slanted all the way from the backside of the play to help close the hole. Washington(-0.5) ended up blown up a bit but I don't think that's too bad since he got doubled and downblocked.
M10 2 G Shotgun 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Improv Gordon INT
Clark(+1) gets a bull rush that spooks Golson even though it's pretty harmless. He gets held so maybe that's why it ends up harmless. Roh(+0.5) also gets held on the edge as he's trying to contain the rollout; he still manages to cut Golson off before he can reach the LOS. Golson makes a decision as bad as Denard's first INT, chucking up a moonball Gordon(+2, cover +2) is in coverage on and intercepts. No one open at all. WTF.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 8 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A TGDCD Morgan -3
Morgan(+1) reads this all the way and shoots up into the intended hole unblocked, forcing a bounce. Ryan(-1) allowed that to happen by trying to close down and giving a ton of ground; Kovacs(+1) flows up quickly to cut off the outside, at which point Atkinson hesitates and is lost. Kovacs with the open-field TFL(tackling +1). RPS +1; Michigan did not bite on the action.
O49 2 13 Shotgun empty TE 4-3 even Pass N/A Improv Roh 16
Dig in the middle of the field is open but Rees doesn't like it for some reason; Campbell(+1) bulls his way into the pocket and spooks Rees out; Roh(-1) loses contain and allows that to happen, at which point the zone has been dragged open by all manner of things. It seems like Bolden is running vertical with a TE, opening it up, FWIW. (Cover -2, Pressure -2)
M35 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Bolden 2
Line makes a very shallow slant away from the play that ends up preventing anyone from getting to the second level. The DTs get sealed away by three guys and Roh ends up taking on two. Bolden(+1) sees the gap forming in front of him and starts flying up into it before the handoff is even made, forcing a bounce; Gordon(+1, tackling +1) fends off a block from a WR, tossing him away, and tackles near the LOS. I'm not even sure which ND player is hypothetically supposed to block Bolden. RPS +1.
M33 2 8 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Roh 3
Exact same play. This time Roh is not banging into two guys as M plays it straight. G releases into Demens, single blocking on front. Roh(+0.5) gets some push and comes off to tackle; Washington does the same(+0.5); Demens(+0.5) gets outside of the G and the RB runs right into him thanks to the narrow crease.
M30 3 5 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Fade Taylor 24
RT moves a hair early but no call. Taylor(-3, cover -1) is in the right spot to make a play on this ball if he turns around or could just play NOBODY CARES coverage, but when the WR slows up he overruns it a little bit, getting out of position and drawing a PI flag. Catch is made.
M6 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Angle Ryan 5
Roh chucks the TE as he comes out of his stance, which slows any pass rush from him considerably. This play looks like a guaranteed quick hitter to the RB, which is caught in front of the zone picket-fencing the endzone. Ryan(+0.5) does get a hit on the RB to make it short of the endzone. (Cover -1)
M1 2 G Ace Goal line Run N/A Dive Kovacs 0 (Pen -5)
Kovacs(+1) blitzes inside of the tight end and into the middle of the formation, which takes away any lanes there, forcing a bounce. Morgan(+1, tackling +1) and Demens are moving hard to the bounce at the snap, with Morgan chopping Riddick down for no gain. RPS +1. Illegal motion takes it back a little.
M6 2 G Shotgun empty Nickel under press Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
M11 2 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 3 Corner Avery Inc
LBs threaten double A blitz, back out. Michigan's dropping eight into coverage; Avery(-1, cover -1) does not get depth as he's trying to drop to the corner of the endzone with the slot WR and ends up beaten. Ball is overthrown; M escapes.
M11 3 G Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Dig Wilson Inc (Pen +9)
Wilson(-2, cover -1) gets beaten by Eifert in man and holds, drawing a flag. RPS -2, why is M in man coverage with no deep safeties from the eleven? And why is a freshman safety one on one with ND's best WR?
M2 1 G Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A QB draw N/A 2
Just one LB in the box and he's too far away; RPS -1. Five guy box against six blockers from the two is not going to go well very often.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-10, 1 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 stretch Kovacs 0
I'm not sure about Clark here. He gets a big push on the RT and forces the back to change directions but does so outside, where Morgan is cut off and Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) is dealing with a WR crackdown. Seems like this is what they want to have happen and Clark needs to flare out to force it back away from blocking. OTOH, Kovacs gets a jump outside early that gets him past the block because Clark forced a quick decision from the back. Okay, +0.5. Kovacs in space, TFL, the usual.
O25 2 10 Shotgun empty 4-3 even Pass 5 TE out Ryan Inc
This TE out is going to be open as Morgan was tasked with coverage and is way far away from Eifert; an unblocked Ryan(+1, pressure +1) is in the throwing lane and leaps to bat it away. RPS push, I guess? Open guy, blitz did nerf it, kind of risky.
O25 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie zero Pass 3 Hitch Floyd 7
Michigan backs everyone out; Rees hits a hitch a few yards short of the sticks that Floyd escorts OOB. Cover +1, RPS +1 as Rees ended up throwing this way faster than he had to as he assumed blitz.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-10, 13 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O8 1 10 Ace 4-4 under Run N/A Zone stretch Floyd 15
Campbell(+0.5) drives single blocking back, but this is always going way outside so his angle is not tested. Floyd(+0.5) does recognize the crack down this time and comes hard, cutting off the outside and forcing it back; he also gets an ankle tackle in; Kovacs(-0.5), Morgan(-0.5), and Ojemudia are each coming off blocks to hold it down. Would like Ojemudia(-1) to hold his ground better to maybe get this down to minimal yardage, and definitely want him to keep his feet and actually tackle. He ends up on his knees as Wood manages to stay on his feet (tackling -2) and burst for a first down.
O23 1 10 Ace 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Ojemudia 4
Morgan blitzes and threatens to shoot a gap, causing the ND LT to pull off of Ojemudia(-2) just as the TE releases outside to block Taylor. This leaves Ojemudia alone in space with Wood; he gets juked and beat to the outside(tackling -1). Taylor contains. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) fills well.
O27 2 6 Ace 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 2
Washington and Campbell(+0.5 each) get playside of their guys and don't give ground; no creases. Roh(+0.5) also makes this true. Ojemudia(+0.5) is in the cutback lane, forcing Wood to feint outside. He hops outside. Morgan(+1) has blown past a block now to show up in the hole and tackles at the LOS.
O29 3 4 Shotgun empty TE Nickel rush Pass 6 Hitch Ross Inc
Formation explained above. Michigan sends six, getting Ross(+1, pressure +1) in basically clean and forcing a crappy inaccurate short throw from Rees that's wide of a decently covered WR.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-10, 5 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Swing Gordon 8
Ryan(+0.5) reads it and gets outside the slot TE trying to block him, forcing the play inside to Gordon(-1, tackling -2), who comes up hard and whiffs; Bolden(-1) tries to go upfield of a block and does not get there so there is no support to the inside.
O33 2 2 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ryan 4
Washington(+2) blows this play up by slanting and getting under the C. He's into the backfield. Ryan(-1) is not holding the edge well—he's downfield of Roh and not prepared for a bounce and Floyd(-1) is late reacting. He tackles, but really this should be a TFL after Washington forces the bounce.
O37 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Bolden 5
Roh(+1) dives under the G and ends up absorbing the pulling T. That seems like a bust by the T but results based charting. Bolden(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked in a big hole that rapidly constricts and misses a tackle. Morgan(-0.5) got blocked out of the play but he was going to have a hard time with this guy's angle.
O42 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Washington 6
ND flips both TEs, M flips in response. Washington(-1) gets penetration but this is a stretch and he gets too vertical, opening up a seam. Campbell(-1) got pushed down field and let a blocker into Morgan. That makes cutback lane that is hit up for first down yardage. If you go upfield of a blocker I will minus you unless you make a play. UFR guarantee.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Pass 4 Rollout hitch Floyd 12
Actually pretty good coverage by Floyd(+1, cover +1), who breaks on the hitch and has a play on the ball. Unfortunately it's high and he can't quite rake it out. A lower ball and he's got a PBU coming. Great throw or lucky, you make the call.
M40 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Washington 2
Washington(+2) is again boom gone past the center and directly into the frontside hole. He can't quite make a tackle as Wood runs through him as the C pushes him past the ballcarrier. Kovacs(+1) shows up in the cutback hole and puts him to the ground.
M38 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Flare Gordon 5
No response to Eifert motion and M's soft zone gives up a lot of room on the edge. This time Gordon(+1, tackling +1) comes up well and tackles. RPS -1.
M33 3 3 Shotgun trips TE Okie one Penalty N/A Offsides Washington 5
M28 1 10 Ace twins 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Clark 1
Heaps of bodies, no holes. Washington(+0.5) holds up to a double. Campbell(+0.5) flows down the line. Roh(+0.5) holds up. Clark(+0.5) gets under a blocker and tackles from behind.
M27 2 9 Ace twins Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Demens 5
Morgan inexplicably starts moving to the field right before the play. M is in full nickel with Roh/Black as DTs and slanting hard to the playside. This does force a cutback; Black(+1) got good penetration; Ryan(-1) ends up buried. LBs both come under blocks as the slant has fouled angles; Demens(+1) does a good job to do this and tackle as Riddick threatens to cut behind this into space. Still a little dangerous because Riddick didn't have to cut it as outside as M wanted with the Ryan fall.
M23 3 4 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 1
Again the TE flip again the front flip. M seems lucky or prepared this time with Gordon(+1) blitzing off the corner and Ryan(+0.5) slanting inside to pick off a second level guy and get a two for one, allowing Demens(+1, tackling +1) to flow. Gordon forces Riddick inside at the hash and Demens tackles. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: FG(39), 3-13, 7 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3TE 4-4 under Run N/A Power Morgan 2
ND doubles Washington(+0.5) and moves him out of the hole but no one releases, so good job Washington I guess. G pulls around for Demens. Morgan(+0.5) is unblocked in the hole and tackles.
O27 2 8 Ace twins 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 4
Campbell(-0.5) gives a little too much ground in his quest to keep Morgan clean, which ends up opening up a cutback lane; Morgan gets blocked by the other guy as the RB comes back. Kovacs fills. There's too much space to shut it down entirely and the block on Morgan prevents him from holding this another yard or two shorter.
O31 3 4 Shotgun empty TE Nickel under press Pass 5 Fade Floyd 38
Floyd(-2, cover -2) tries to chuck and ends up stumbling as Eifert moves past him, which opens up the fade for an easy completion. Too bad.
M31 1 10 Ace 3TE 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Gordon -1
Gordon(+0.5) walks to the line and blitzes past Eifert; Riddick tries to pop outside of him and is slowed by the tackle attempt. By the time he moves outside, Demens(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) have converged to tackle.
M32 2 11 Ace twin TE 4-4 under Run N/A Zone stretch Demens 2
Gordon again just flying up; Demens(+0.5) also flows into the same hole with a tougher assignment; cutback handled by Washington(+0.5), who got a free pass from the line but did take a good angle to close down the cutback lane.
M30 3 9 Ace 3TE 4-4 under Run N/A Power Washington 9
Washington(-1) ends up giving up way too much ground on this double, which forces Morgan to hold up in case of cutback and gets him chopped by the center. Campbell(-1) also got pushed back, which gets Morgan's blocker out on him and prevents a scrape. Morgan(-1) does get cut and ends up out of the play. Demens takes on a lead guard and funnels, but to no one.
Drive Notes: EOG, 6-13.

That was rather delightful.

It was. Michigan was one stumble away from holding Notre Dame to under 200 yards of total offense. ND drives started at the Michigan 17, 39, and 48 in the first half and Michigan still gave up a total of 13 points on nine drives (ND had a tenth on which it was not trying to score, FWIW.)

How did that happen?

Well, this ND offense probably isn't very good. Michigan forced a QB switch after Golson's second horrible interception, and neither Purdue or Michigan State had too much trouble shutting down the Irish.

You'd better have a "but…"

Okay: but Purdue gave up nearly 400 yards on 11 drives. ND had 314 on the nose against MSU on 12 drives before kneels took away 14; even if you chalk that long Goodman TD up to punt chuckin' Michigan is about even with what was supposed to be the league's best D, and their performance was on the road instead of at home. Michigan blew up the counter draw MSU fell victim to and the rush yardage comparison goes to M. MSU gave up 4.9 YPC once a sack and some kneel-downs are excised. Michigan gave up 3.3 after taking out a zero yard not-quite-sack on Golson and a knee. Purdue did even better but gave up nearly 300 yards passing to the guy M chased from the game.

It was a bit of a downer that the D couldn't hold at the end when Michigan pulled to within a score twice, but that Michigan was even within striking distance after six turnovers was a little miracle.

You still haven't said how.

I think I need a—

probably pretty dang good CHART

--chart to answer that question.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Roh 7 1 6 I call him mini-RVB. /self high five
Campbell 8.5 3 5.5 whoah whoah whoah
Washington 8.5 3.5 5 what what what what
Black 1 - 1 Hardly got a snap.
Brink - - - DNP
Ash - - - DNP
Pipkins - - - DNP
Beyer - - - DNP
Heitzman - - - DNP
Clark 3 5 -2 Targeted extensively, got smashed a bit.
Ojemudia 0.5 3 -2.5 Miss in space on Wood.
TOTAL 28.5 15.5 13 Take the money and run.
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 5 2 3 Solid tackling day, looked pretty athletic.
Demens 7.5 - 7.5 !!!
Ryan 8.5 3 5.5 Great tackle on screen.
C. Gordon - -   DNP
Ross 2 0.5 1.5 Hard to get a lot of PT when the vets play so well.
Bolden 1 4 -3 Work in progress.
Hawthorne - - - DNP
TOTAL 23 9.5 13.5 Combo the DL numbers with the ILB numbers and that's the run D.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 1.5 4 -2.5 Stumble unfortunate, edge softness frustrating.
Avery 1 1 0 Rarely appeared since ND so TE heavy.
Taylor 2 3 -1 Had a play on the fade he gave up but didn't make it.
Kovacs 5.5 0.5 5 Excellent on edge. No deep stuff on S.
T. Gordon 7.5 1 6.5 Also quality.
Holowell - - - DNP
Wilson - 2 -2 Critical PI.
TOTAL 16.5 11.5 4 Safeties got a workout and passed.
Pressure 5 5 0 This was a little bit of a downer for the DL.
Coverage 8 11 -3 Close enough to even.
Tackling 9 6 60% Most of the minuses on two bad runs.
RPS 5 5 0 The Wilson PI does grate.

So, like, yeah. I pulled out that Picture Pages on the linebackers because that was night and day from Air Force, when poor Kenny Demens was picking OL out of his teeth on every play. ND hardly ever got a release and when they did their blocks got beat fairly often.

Defensive tackles! We has them?

Okay, I think ND's interior OL sucks. Sucks pretty hard. Let's put on our caveat berets before we wade in here. Secured? Have your baguette of skepticism prepped? Let's go.

Dang, ND could not single-block these guys. When they tried it Campbell two-gapped dudes and Washington flashed into the backfield. This could have happened last year:

All DL there. Both get penetration and Washington forces a cutback into an unblocked Ryan. A Riddick spin manages to prevent a loss; I'll take it. So ND doubled, and we got results like the ones we saw in the Clean Linebackers picture pages. Occasionally one DT or the other would give too much ground, like on the last run charted. Most of the time they held their ground well enough to make cutbacks awkward and allow linebackers to flow. Like so:

No crease, forced cutback, OL is robbed of his blocking angle, and Morgan gets around him to make the play. There were a lot of half-points handed out for this sort of thing where PLAYS are not MADE but the tailback has nowhere to go. After getting shredded by Alabama, anything approximating quality against a BCS level opponent—one with a veteran line—is welcome.

Washington in particular was impressive with his repeated penetration. He's probably as shocked as anyone about this, so he's continually overrunning things, but whatever, man, he's blowing up blocking. I told you this would happen after UMass! (Pay no attention to the Robinson prediction behind the curtain. Also I didn't really.)

So we're back on the immediate post-Ezeh Demens-is-a-god thing I see.

Hey, man, find a tackle he missed or hole he didn't fill and I'll fire up my minus machine. It's possible his coverage on that Riddick dumpoff was subpar but I chalked that up to RPS because he was one man in all of the space. He managed to hold Riddick basically in place for two moves to limit the damage there.

Meanwhile, Kenny Demens is sneaky good in coverage. This is perfect:

And he flung dudes past him (along with Ryan) to impressively shut down a dangerous looking counter:

Ryan's ability to get around that OL is a squee moment.

Michigan kept guys off their LBs and they responded well. The hesitation was gone, the tackles were made, and everyone said a little prayer of thanks.

Caveat: against a team more likely to screw with your linebackers in a play action game this may go more poorly. ND quickly committed to the run in this game. Teams that can throw a bit are going to make it harder on these guys.

Speaking of Ryan, I'm about two games from declaring him All Big Ten caliber. There's that above and then he shows the same ability to change directions faster than a guy his size should as he comes under the TE on this screen:

I have developed certain rules for grading these things as we've gone along. One is losing leverage == minus… unless you make a play. Ryan would get away with a zero here if he just forced the guy inside of him; instead he gets +3 because of his ability to charge and redirect, which both keeps contain and makes a play.  Sometimes he goes a little too far in the "make a play" direction, but M has another 2.66 years out of the guy.

I'd like a bit more pass rush on the edge, please. Other than that, would recruit again A++++.

Little stingy on the Taylor INT, no?

Ah, man, I'm not giving three points unless the coverage is actually blanketed. Golson had room to drop it over the corner. He is sinking and it is a tough throw to get it over a guy, but this was not exactly Woodsonesque.

Later Taylor would blow a coverage on a similar play in which he was in man press on a fade like that, thus his minus, but so far he hasn't been a big problem. Tentatively hoping he'll get through the season well and we get to be pumped up about Michigan's starting corners going into next year. He certainly looks the part athletically.

What about our corners this year?

Floyd stumbling out of a break sucks but it'll happen. I'm more annoyed by the guy is still not coming hard on outside runs on which the receiver is booking for a block along the LOS:

Now, Clark—this is part of ND's Kill Clark gameplan at the beginning of the game—gets blown way down the line and this forces Kovacs to come further inside than is ideal on his contain, because otherwise the RB is going upfield. Okay. That's some yards ceded already.

Floyd is still eight yards downfield when he breaks down to tackle. He should be reading run a lot quicker. At this point I don't think that's in the cards consistently, though he did make a couple good reads late. One was on the 20 yard Wood run, but that wasn't his fault.

Let us all say a prayer of thanks that we can be annoyed about this kind of thing from cornerbacks these days. 

Kill Clark, you say?

Clark was obviously IDed as a weak point by the Irish and they spent most of the first quarter running at him. He got blown up a lot. He ends up even with Campbell in the video above, which is bad. (SCIENCE!) In this one he ends up pancaked:

That's a loss thanks to Ross and Kovacs hitting the hole lickety-split if Clark can just hold the corner; he ends up buried. He took a bunch of minuses for that and then ND went away from it because they weren't getting much more than you see on the play above. Also, Clark started getting some upfield push to rescue his day a little bit.

If that's going to be the cost of running him out there you'd like to see some pass rush from him; Michigan did not in admittedly limited opportunities. He got one kind of good rush on which he persuaded Golson to exit the pocket and drew a hold; other than that he was not much of an impact guy. Youth, etc. He's a guy to keep an eye on as one of the remaining wildcards on the D.

Kickoff thinkin': do you have some?

I've gotten some questions about what I thought about Michigan's kickoff strategy at the beginning and end of the second half. To the answermobile!

At the beginning of the half, Michigan is kicking from the 50 after a PF on Notre Dame. Q: should Michigan onside kick? Probably. You're giving up 15 yards of field position for a shot at a turnover. ND had not aligned in a way to discourage that so your chances are pretty decent. Even if they've been told to watch for the thing, the punishment is slight.

Now I have a Q: what would have happened if Michigan booted it out of bounds? The rule says it's 30 yards from where you kicked, which would be the 20. Which is better than a touchback. mindblown.gif

At the end of the game, Michigan has 3:27 on the clock and two timeouts. ND aligns to prevent an onside, and M kicks it deep. The ball hits at the three and squeezes into the endzone. Q: onside? Probably not. With the rule change you have to commit an Iowa-level boner to not recover onside kicks and you have a pretty good setup to get the ball back. ND ended up throwing a bomb on third and four. I'd rather take my chances on that than try to drive from the ten.


Anyone in the front seven other than Clark (and Bolden was iffy). Also safeties.


Stretching: Clark was exploitable on the edge.

What does it mean for the Big Ten season?

Increment your hope meters a good chunk, as getting this kind of play out of the defensive tackles was way above expectation. If they can continue that into league play all of a sudden this defense looks plausible or better, if lacking certain components that would make it truly elite—like a big-time pass rusher.

Meanwhile, the linebackers played well, the safeties played well… I mean, 190 yards of offense before final drive. ND got a couple of chunk runs when Wood was improbably not tackled and a couple of fades were completed; other than that ND got essentially nothing. The line was all but impeccable save for some Clark stuff that only gave up 4, 6, 7 yards a pop. The LBs got to the ball and tackled, and Gordon and Kovacs had one and a half missed tackles between them as they cleaned up.

I'm trying to keep things in check… that performance relative to MSU and Purdue's plus the in-season improvement we saw from a lot of players last year makes it difficult. That game was so far beyond the reasonable best-case scenario that it shifts hopes upward.

Offense? Never heard of it.