Opponent Watch: Finale

Opponent Watch: Finale Comment Count

Heiko December 14th, 2012 at 3:25 PM

No. 2 Alabama (12-1 overall, 8-1 SEC)

Last game: Beat Georgia 32-28 in the SEC Championship after Georgia futzed a last-second goal line play.

As frightening as: Rome, ca. 450 A.D. Currently idling between sacks. Fear level = 9 but waning.

Superlative: Best cry after a win.

If Michigan could play them now: The humanity would overwhelm.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not scheduled them.

Bowl game: Will play No. 1 Notre Dame in a battle of which team Michigan fans want to cheer for less.

Prediction: It’s Notre Dame.

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Air Force (6-6 overall, 5-3 MWC)

Last game: Blown out by Fresno State 48-15. It’s like people know how to defend the triple option. Crazy.

As frightening as: Kryptonite. Ostensibly harmless, inert substance that glows green around Michigan players and makes them appear slow and weak. Fear level = 5.

Superlative: Most infuriating to root against due to nameplates bearing noble ideals.

If Michigan could play them now: Nobody needs that twice in one season.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Scheduled them later, as in not right after Alabama.

Bowl game: Will play Rice in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Prediction: The ratings will be higher overseas.

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UMass (1-11, 1-7 MAC)

Last game: Lost to Central Michigan 42-41.

Mike Cox!: 17 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD.

As frightening as: A flap of a butterfly’s wings. Every once in a while it might trigger a tiny vortex that blows a nearby butterfly off course. In this case that other butterfly would be 1-11 Akron. Fear level = 0.

Superlative: Most likely to appear in highlight reels of other teams.

If Michigan could play them now: It would be a nice glamour photo shoot for Michigan’s tailbacks complete with dramatic lighting, airbrushing, and green space.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not scheduled them. This game didn’t do anything for Michigan other than show us that Denard can throw a pick-six to even the worst defenses.

Bowl game: There should be an anti-playoff to determine the worst team in Division I.

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No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0 overall)

Last game: Failed to lose to USC, 22-13.

As frightening as: MRSA. Fear level = 8.

Superlative: Most referees on payroll.

If Michigan could play them now: Michigan would probably find another way to lose again, which is fine. This year, as they say, is Not Ours.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Run the ball more, which sounds crazy now, but back then people had luxuries like ulnar nerves and tibias. This kind of thing worked.

Bowl game: Notre Dame is 60 minutes away from Returning to Glory. Agasp.

Prediction: Either way Ohio State won't end up No. 1 in the AP. 

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Purdue (6-6 overall, 3-5 B1G)

Last game: Won rivalry game against Indiana 56-35, fired coach.

Arithmetic: WALRUS minus STACHE equals MANATEE.

If Michigan could play them now: It would be a semifinal match for the title of “B1G Team with most season-altering injuries.” In the other bracket of this hypothetical tournament is Iowa, which has a bye because of its self-explanatory No. 1 seed.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Savored this win more.

Bowl game: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Oklahoma State.

Prediction: Oklahoma State is 7-5. All five of its losses have been to teams that were ranked at one point or another during the season; Purdue lost to Minnesota. In conference play, Oklahoma State beat TCU, No. 24 Iowa State, West Virginia, and No. 23 Texas Tech by multiple scores; in conference play, Purdue beat Indiana by multiple scores.

This should go real well.

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Illinois (2-10 overall, 0-8 B1G)

Last game: Could not overcome five-score deficit; lost to Northwestern.

As frightening as: Someone else’s septic leak. Schadenfreude level = 4. It’s been a few years since they last beat Michigan, so it’s difficult to relish their misery.

Superlative: Most likely to develop oropharyngeal malignancy.

If Michigan could play them now: Be careful what you wish for, or Jim Delany might put them in Michigan’s division so Michigan can play them year after year after year until Fresno State joins the B1G and they have to redo the thing again. Playing Illinois every year doesn’t seem so bad, though. I just wish they could go back to being interesting rather than sad.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not injured Denard’s arm, since the arm issue would turn out to be kind of disastrous two games later. This is foreshadowing, for those of you who suffered from alcohol-induced retrograde amnesia after the OSU game and are now trying to piece the events of the season back together.

Bowl game: Ha. (By the way, what is with people typing “ha” over text or gchat? I normally have a two-“ha” minimum when I laugh electronically, unless I’m feeling derisive. Is being stingy with the “ha’s” a Michigan thing? I only ever notice this when communicating with people from Michigan.)

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Michigan State (6-6 overall, 3-5 B1G)

Last game: Beat Minnesota 26-10, avoided a losing record.

As frightening as: A rock.

Fear level = 5.

Superlative: Most likely to throw up on self en route to Disney World, ruining the trip for everyone.

If Michigan could play them now: Maybe Michigan could have some fake audibles. Like, okay, you don’t want to play chess with Narduzzi, but wouldn’t it be fun to pretend like you are? “Alert alert alert!” = base play. “Blue 42! Blue 42!” = base play. “We’re going to throw it to Dileo!” = We’re going to throw it to Dileo.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Anticipated the most obvious fake punt situation ever, which has only become more obvious in hindsight.

Bowl game: B-dubs vs. TCU. Should be fun to watch actually.

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No. 16 Nebraska (10-3 overall, 7-2 B1G)

Last game: Lost 70-31 to Alabamasconsin.

As frightening as: A teenager who finally gets his license after failing twice. Fear level = 7, to others and self.

If Michigan could play them now: Oh if only.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: I hate them so much.

Bowl game: It’s more loathing than hate. It’s how you would feel about someone who you let copy your homework and then gets both of you in trouble.

Prediction: Nebraska plays Georgia. Good luck!

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Minnesota (6-6 overall, 2-6 B1G)

Last game: Lost to Michigan State 26-10.

As frightening as: Anything that can be described as “scrappy.” Fear level = 3.

Superlative: Best tire fire mitigation effort.

If Michigan could play them now: Same story, different day.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Prepared Devin Gardner to play quarterback a week earlier. This is purely a hindsight thing, though.

Bowl game: Ritual gopher slaughter at Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas vs. Texas Tech.

Prediction: The gods will be pleased.

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All the better to play Monopoly with.

No. 20 Northwestern (9-3 overall, 5-3 B1G)

Last game: Managed to hold onto a five-score lead, beat Illinois 50-14.

As frightening as: Receiving an email with the subject line “Remove Me From This List!” Fear level = 7.

Superlative: Worst utilization of Kyle Prater.

If Michigan could play them now: I liked the screw-with-their-reads plan Mattison used late against Northwestern and Ohio State. Mattison knows how to play chess.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Michigan had a good game plan. Northwestern put up a good fight. Not much to change.

Bowl game: Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State.

Prediction: No idea actually. This will be a good match, oddly.

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Iowa (4-8, 2-6 B1G)

Last game: Lost to Nebraska 13-7. What a tease.

As frightening as: Nomads indigenous to the Great Plains who believe most bright colors to be evil and think the best cure for a gangrenous running back situation is to sacrifice linemen to a deity named AIRBHG. Recently discovered fire and a vertical passing game, no idea how to use either. Fear level = 3.

Superlative: Most unexpectedly overrated. People thought I was being harsh when I predicted Iowa to go 6-6.

If Michigan could play them now: It would just be sad.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Saved some of the game plan for Ohio State. This was the annual “We wasted the good surprise on you” game.

Bowl game: Iowa is a proud people who do not believe in bowl games.

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Ohio State (12-0 overall, 8-0 B1G)

Last game: 1,000 newborns in the state of Ohio were named “Urban.”

As frightening as: VRSA. Fear level = 9.

Superlative: Worst thing ever.

If Michigan could play them now: By the end of the game, Braxton Miller will have sustained his tenth concussion (but still play anyway). Michigan will employ Denard and Devin in the same formation but hand it off to Vincent Smith anyway, because Ohio State would never expect it.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Scored some points in the second half.

Bowl game: Gator Bowl vs. Florida, last year.

Comments

Opponent Watch: Week 11

Opponent Watch: Week 11 Comment Count

Heiko November 15th, 2012 at 3:05 PM

About Last Saturday:

A 10-point lead late in the third quarter - 31, Is not enough points when you are Northwestern - 38 (OT)

The best wide receiver in the B1G at right; My new favorite Northwestern player at left. (h/t @shane_heck)

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The Road Ahead:

Iowa (4-6 overall, 2-4 B1G)

Last game: Purdue 27, Iowa 24 (L)

Recap: You know things are pretty bad when you play the second-worst team in the conference (which is incidentally the second-worst conference in the BCS) and then all of a sudden you’re the second-worst team in the conference.

What is going on, Iowa? What’s the deal? Why do you have only one running play? Why do you refuse to throw a pass farther than five yards past the line of scrimmage? Why does your offensive coordinator still have a job? (Why did you hire him in the first place?) Why does your defense give up 500 yards of offense to an offense run by a guy who doesn’t have an ACL? How do you fail to beat a team when you’re plus 3 in turnover margin and have just two penalties for 16 yards to their 10 for 100?

These are the tough, existential questions I hope will never be asked about Michigan. /knocks on wood.

At this point, it seems like Iowa isn’t even trying. Let’s look at their season to date:

  • vs. Northern Illinois, 18-7 (W)
  • vs. Iowa State, 6-9 (L)
  • vs. Northern Iowa, 27-16 (W)
  • vs. Central Michigan, 31-32 (L)
  • vs. Minnesota, 31-13 (W)
  • BYE
  • @ Michigan State, 19-16 OT (W)
  • vs. Penn State, 14-38 (L)
  • @ Northwestern, 17-28 (L)
  • @ Indiana, 14-21 (L)
  • vs. Purdue, 24-27 (L)

That’s a couple of so-so games against randos, a couple of embarrassing close losses to Steele Jantz and Central Michigan, a close win against Michigan State that no one can really figure out, and then a bunch of games where they’ve gotten their asses handed to them, which have been disguised by final scores that belie reality.

Something isn’t working when Minnesota is the only convincing win of the season.

Okay, fine, there have been extenuating circumstances. The offensive line turned into a mess after the Penn State game when two linemen went out with injury, and then there’s AIRBHG, too, who wouldn’t even spare a fullback from his wrath. That shouldn’t be the end of the world, though. The Hawkeyes have a senior quarterback (best B1G pocket passer!), an All-conference caliber tight end, a bunch of fairly competent receivers, and a defense that … well, plays defense. Surely they could have mustered a better showing against Indiana.

Even more concerning: how will this team be any better next year? 

After the game, head coach Kirk Ferentz passionately defended his “dog crap” team. A few days later he dropped an F bomb. I’m half tempted to grab some popcorn to see what happens over the next two weeks -- Iowa plays Michigan and Nebraska. This promises to be more entertaining than an MGoBoard flamewar.

And I say “half” tempted only because, on the other hand, I don't want to support Nebraska’s economy. Not for another year, anyway.

/refuses to eat any food that contains corn.

/starves to death.*

This besmacks of: Societal failure.

Michigan should worry about: Not beating up on Iowa too badly. Michigan needs them to be as intact as possible when they play Nebraska next week since they could be Michigan’s last hope to hand Nebraska another loss. Although right now I like Minnesota's chances better.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: This has to be the easiest week of film study. Like ever.

When they play Michigan: It's Senior Day.

Also, bring tissues. It's going to get dusty.

Next game: No. 21 Michigan

*Joke stolen from Ace.

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Comments

Opponent Watch: Week 10

Opponent Watch: Week 10 Comment Count

Heiko November 9th, 2012 at 10:41 AM

About Last Saturday:

Jug Half Full - 35, Jug Half Empty - 13

Tom Olmscheid / AP

Get well soon.

May I suggest a bacta tank?

/ runs away giggling.

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The Road Ahead:

 

"This big?" / "No, THIS BIG."

No. 24 Northwestern (7-2 overall, 3-2 B1G)

Last week: Idlecats.

Recap: 

Mmm bokeh.

This team is as frightening as: A guy who shows up to a fight armed with only a Maglite. Except it's not a Maglite. It's a lightsaber. And he is Luke Skywalker. Fear level = 10

Michigan should worry about: Northwestern possesses the best wide receiver in the world. His name is Kyle Prater, and you don't know this because they have been keeping him a secret. They have been saving the surprise. Michigan has no idea what's coming. 

But I do.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: There is no shame in getting beaten by a player who is so elite that his presence at USC violated the laws of competitive fairness, which forced him to transfer to a small liberal arts school in Evanston and wear purple for the rest of his life.

When they play Michigan: Prater will have 12 catches for 170 yards and four touchdowns. 

Next game: @ Michigan.

Comments

Opponent Watch: Week 9

Opponent Watch: Week 9 Comment Count

Heiko November 1st, 2012 at 6:46 PM

About Last Saturday:

Funny bone 9, Serious bone 23.

Upchurch

Denard suffered an ulnar nerve compression. [UPDATE: Mgoreader drbogue suggests that it is more likely classified as a traumatic neuropraxia of the ulnar nerve, and I think that's accurate. The following explanations still apply because tomato tomato. 90% of you just tuned out anyway.]

Whence the ulnar nerve? Brace yourself for the fancy artwork below. Please direct your attention to the stringy yellow thing.

As you can see, the ulnar nerve innervates the interosseous muscles that are primarily responsible for grip. It also innervates the skin covering the pinky and half of the ring finger. When the ulnar nerve gets injured, the symptoms therefore manifest as loss of strength and coordination while gripping and a tingly burning sensation in the pinky and ring finger.

How long does such an injury typically take to heal? The internet suggests anything from "immediately" to "weeks" depending on severity, i.e. I don't really know. UPDATE: I just found a journal article that says that if there is "compression of a sufficient magnitude to sever axons," recovery will require several weeks during which even normal physical stress on the nerve should be avoided. Yikes. Let's hope it's not that.

Why is it sometimes called a funny bone injury? Usually the ulnar nerve is compressed at the elbow. It gets banged into the humerus. Now if you look closely at the humerus ...

You can see that it is indeed a funny bone.

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Comments

Opponent Watch: Week 8

Opponent Watch: Week 8 Comment Count

Heiko October 25th, 2012 at 7:17 PM

About Last Weekend:

Michigan State 10, Michigan 12

Apologies -- Spartyfreude is a little blurry. In any case, what are these people looking at? Oh I know. Anything but the scoreboard.

"You're good looking, and I'm good looking. We should be good looking together."

What TheOnlyColors and MaizeNBrew should do if they haven't done so already.

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The Road Ahead:

Nebraska (5-2 overall, 2-1 B1G)

Last game: Nebraska 29, Northwestern 28 (W)

Recap: When a team plays Northwestern, no deficit is too great to overcome. This is a fundamental law of football. With his team down 12 points in the fourth quarter, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez (27/39, 342 yards, 3 TD) led the Huskers offense on two 80-yard touchdown drives to eke out a win. The Wildcats had an opportunity near the end to regain the lead but, as they are wont to do, they missed a long field goal.

For Michigan, this wasn’t the ideal outcome. While Northwestern had a nice streak going and remains one of the B1G’s two bowl-eligible teams, it would have been preferable to contend at home with a hypothetical one-conference-loss Northwestern team for the division rather than go to Lincoln to play a critical tie-breaker (sort of) game against a one-conference-loss Nebraska. If Michigan loses this weekend it no longer controls its own destiny. But you knew that.

So let’s focus on why the Huskers were down 12 to the Wildcats in the first place. For one, they didn’t have much rhythm on offense until Martinez went pass-happy against Northwestern’s defense, which plays a 4-3-Gibson scheme. The run game never broke anything big with the longest run being 15 yards. Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah both got nearly 20 carries a piece and averaged 4.5 ypc, though the Wildcats have a decent run defense, so that’s not a total surprise.

Defensively they did a good job against most aspects of Northwestern’s attack – they kept Trevor Siemian (15/35, 116 yards, 2 TD) to 3.3 ypa and almost limited the Wildcats otherwise effective run game to less than three yards per carry … had it not been for one spectacular bust that allowed an 80-yard TD run by Venric Mark (16 carries, 118 yards, 1 TD) from a triple-option handoff up the middle. That the Blackshirts linebackers busted an assignment is an understatement.

As a final note, Nebraska turned the ball over three times over the course of the game. They fumbled twice (the one at the end was maybe meaningless) on offense and had one epic puntmuffin, which led immediately to a Northwestern touchdown.

Huskers fans prefer to downplay these mistakes, particularly the ones on special teams, when projecting how their team will do against upcoming opponents. Against Michigan, though, they won't be able to afford to play sloppy no matter how many yards they end up racking up on offense.

This team is as frightening as: The Detroit Tigers. Brilliant when in a groove but somewhat subject to horrifying derailment. Fear level = 6 +/-2.

Michigan should worry about: Limiting mistakes on the road at night. I think Brady Hoke and Al Borges have that down at the infuriating expense of offensive play calls that adjust intelligently to defensive scheme. This means that Michigan is just going to have to wait for the opponent to make mistakes on defense. I’m actually kind of okay with that in this case, because …

Michigan can sleep soundly about: I do not believe in Nebraska’s defense. Their most impressive performance to date has been against nobody. Serious. They’ve failed to hold any of their BCS opponents under 27 points. Maybe they did well against Wisconsin by holding Montee Ball to 90 yards rushing on 32 carries, but that was when the Badgers were going through an offensive crisis that resulted in the defenestration of their offensive line coach.

Maybe the Huskers have an okay secondary and a couple playmakers in the front seven, but that does not an Al Borges Denard Fusion Cuisine-busting defense make.

When they play Michigan: Michigan will try to win on the ground; Nebraska will try to win through the air. The Huskers have at least four viable receiving options in their receivers and tight ends, and it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the secondary to stick to their assignments, particularly if Raymon Taylor isn’t 100%. Plus, Michigan is overdue for giving up a big WTF play or two on defense. On the bright side, if the Huskers can’t do it, no one left on the schedule save Ohio State will be able to.

Next game: vs. No. 22 Michigan.

Comments

Opponent Watch: Week 7

Opponent Watch: Week 7 Comment Count

Heiko October 18th, 2012 at 6:09 PM

About Last Weekend:

Illinois 0, Michigan 45

Poetry.

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Michigan State (4-3 overall, 1-2 B1G)

Last game: Iowa 19, Michigan State 16 2OT (L)

Recap: That this game went into double overtime should have been an NCAA violation. If not the NCAA, then at least the FCC, because gratuitous ugliness is just as indecent as sex and four-letter words.

Ace has the breakdown in his weekly FFFF. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a visual summary:

Sometimes humor is controversial. Thankfully, dinosaurs are not.

The highlight of the game was the botched call at the end of the first half where half the team is running off the field, then running back on, then the offensive line shuffles (because that’s helpful), and then a guy who isn’t even the quarterback attempts to spike the ball as time expires. 

The best part of the sequence is that Iowa’s defense is all like, LOL, and celebrates like they’re not down 10-3 with 20 yards of total offense or anything.

Your Quarterback Throws Like Denard*: Andrew Maxwell -- 12/31, 179 yards, 5.8 ypa, 1 INT.

BONUS Your Quarterback Throws Worse Than The Quarterback Who Throws Like Denard: James Vandenberg -- 19/36, 134 yards, 3.7 ypa, 1 INT.

This team is as frightening as: A large rock.

Fear level = 5.

Michigan should worry about: Right now, with Michigan State’s playcalling as imaginative as a law school textbook and with how well Michigan is playing on defense, it’s hard to see the Spartans moving the ball much at all. Although Le’Veon Bell will probably convert a couple short third downs here and there and Maxwell will maybe complete a bomb or two to Keith Mumphery or Aaron Burbridge, the maddening 80-yard, 13-play drives probably won’t happen.

BUT.

The Wolverines defense has been so good despite not having super duper talent is partially due to their preparation. Like any smart coordinator, Greg Mattison coaches to tendencies. The problem with rivalry games is teams often break tendency (see 2011 Ohio State), especially if what they’ve been doing previously hasn’t been working (see 2011 Ohio State).

I wouldn’t be shocked if Michigan State comes out pretending to be Northwestern. If they're smart about it, they should.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Northwestern scored 21 points against Minnesota by pretending to be Michigan State.

When they play Michigan: If I were Michigan State, this is what I would do (on offense, because defensively they’ll be just fine):

  1. Stop sucking.
  2. Use a lot of four-wide, one-back sets and throw screens and quick passes. Pass on first down when Michigan is keying on the run. If anything, this mitigates Michigan State’s offensive line problems. “But Michigan defended the dink and dunk offense so well against Purdue!” That’s because Purdue never had a run game to threaten the middle of the defense. The Spartans, on the other hand, have …
  3. Le’Veon Bell. Get him going with counters and halfback draws. Illinois early success running against Michigan appeared to result from their offensive line screwing with the Wolverines’ keys. One of their biggest gainers on the ground was a halfback draw when the offensive line showed pass and fooled the linebackers into dropping into coverage. 
  4. Throw deep to Burbridge when he’s one-on-one with Raymon Taylor. I fear this will be a frustrating matchup for Michigan.
  5. Quarterback draw with Andrew Maxwell. It would be the most epic trolling of all time.

Next game: @ No. 24 Big Brother

*There was an MSU College Gameday sign a couple weeks ago that read: “Braxton Throws Like Denard.” This was supposed to be some sort of insult.

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Comments

Dear Diary, Can You Read My Mind?

Dear Diary, Can You Read My Mind? Comment Count

Seth October 12th, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Wondering why you are all the wonderful things you are.

Don't tell Danny Hope, but there was more than one hard-G GIF animating the boards this week. The Flying Denard Photoshop thread, as cropped by blue95, was almost as fruitful as the Lewan twosie and worth your visit. Denard can be seen attacking imperial walkers, pulling Santa's sleigh, riding Falcor, and traveling via DeLorean back to 2011 to screw Tommy Rees. Drkboarder wins two internets for that last. More from the board later; first diaries.

They can be a great people, Kal-El, if they wish to be. In case you missed it among the 10/10/2012 post-a-thon, turd fuguson's graphic representation of the B1G 2013 classes is quite helpful so long as you can resist the urge to defrag it:

index

Why do so many people have to die for the crime of the century? The newest addition to the weeklies is a preview of the opponent's defense, Illinois being the flavor du semaine. This is death by trident, the guy I bumped for his Purdue front 7 preview last week. He followed up with the Purdue secondary after that. The Illinois one covers personnel, stats, and a lot of scheme: You'll recognize some of Ohio State's terminology on this one. He nailed the thing about Supo Sanni. He also brought up the thing about how this is another game Toussaint dominated last year, not that they're all that likely to try the same "force Denard beat us with his legs" gambit that worked so well for Purdue. Diarist of the Week, this. Other weeklies:

ST3: Inside the Box Score was quickly disabused of any notion that the Purdue game was closer than it looked. Revel.

Enjoy Life: Statistics and FEI Prediction is starting to come back to common perception, with Michigan ranked 24th overall. And here's a weird thing that shows just how far we've come: the defense is ranked ahead of the offense. Turnover Analysis shows just one forced fumble all year, which may be keeping the recovery rate depressed.

That's Clark, nice: A program. A wallpaper.

[After THE JUMP, the board produces an NFL depth chart of Wolverines, and we grieve for some heavy losses to the world of sports.]

Comments

Opponent Watch: Week 6

Opponent Watch: Week 6 Comment Count

Heiko October 11th, 2012 at 4:06 PM

About Last Saturday:

Michigan 44, Purdue 13

Mike DiNovo / US PRESSWIRE

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The Road Ahead:

Illinois (2-4 overall, 0-2 B1G)

Last game: Illinois 14, Wisconsin 31 (L)

Recap: Illinois scored first at Camp Randall on a Nathan Scheelhaase keeper, which was so exciting that they forgot to do anything on offense again until the fourth quarter, when they were trailing 24-7.

Two years ago -- maybe even last year -- this game would have been much more impressive to behold. Tough defensive battle. Field position chess. Making Plays. Manball. But given the way both teams have been riding the strugglebus since September, I don’t think either team left the field being overly excited about anything. 

Wisconsin got back on track in the running game with RBs Montee Ball (19 carries, 116 yards, 6.1 ypc) and James White (6 carries, 42 yards, 7.0 ypc) against a decent Illini rush defense (ranked somewhere between 30th and 40th), but they got most of their yards late in the game when the game was pretty much out of hand. They did nothing before the end of the third quarter.

Badgers QB Joel Stave (16/24, 254 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) proved himself an apt replacement for Danny O’Brien, but the offense did an awful job on third down, converting only two of 10 attempts. Stave threw one bomb in the fourth quarter to WR Jared Abbrederis (7 rec, 117 yards, 1 TD), but was otherwise unremarkable. His other long TD was a screen to White.

So … what about Illinois? Illinois has a running quarterback and a couple scary-ish guys on defense. The rest of the team wears jerseys with nameplates that alternatingly read “Despair” and “Self-pity.”

Personnel note: CB Terry Hawthorne was involved in a nasty collision during the game (he got flagged for the dangerous hit), lost consciousness for several long moments, and had to get carted away in an ambulance. He’s deemed “questionable” for Saturday and needs to clear a bunch of concussion tests and cardio workouts, and then endure practice. Yeah. I don’t think he’s playing.

This team is as frightening as: Once upon a time Illinois was a rock: full of inertia, heavily influenced by gravity, a hazardous roadblock. Then someone stuck a stick of dynamite beneath it and blew it into a pile of rubble. Now all anyone needs to do is roll over it slowly and watch for jagged edges, of which there are few. Fear level = 2.5.

Michigan should worry about: Every once in a while a flailing team coordinates all its movements to put together an improbably coherent and effective performance against a confidently unsuspecting opponent. You can’t have followed Michigan football over the last several years and not experience this feeling on a weekly basis.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: The fact that they were better under Ron Zook, which is kind of like saying chocolate was better with orange juice because now all you have is tobacco juice.

When they play Michigan: Home game Big House wooooooo.

Next game: No. 25 Michigan

Comments

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Purdue

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Purdue Comment Count

Brian October 11th, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Formation notes: Michigan set to blowing up Purdue's screen game by sliding their linebackers over to any trips formation like so:

4-3-slide

The guy nose to nose with the WR on the LOS is Jake Ryan. I called this "4-3 even slide." Here's a closer look on another play:

trips bunch TE

Kovacs would come down on the other side to play tiny linebacker.

A couple of times Purdue went to formations like this and Michigan split their linebackers way out wide:

4-3-even-split

Yeah that looks super-vulnerable to the run but Purdue couldn't get any creases so it's not. Nice trick to put five in the box with two deep safeties and not get gashed.

Note that M spent most of the game in an even front instead of an under. This appears to be their default against spreads.

Substitution notes: Secondary was as usual: Taylor/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon with Avery coming in for nickel packages. Morgan and Demens got almost every meaningful snap; Ryan saw most but Cam Gordon did get a couple drives.

The line was more Washington/Campbell regular stuff than the nickel business that didn't work so well against the UMass spread.

Shoe shoe.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Quick hitch Ryan 4
M ends up way spread out by Purdue in a double stack-ish formation. Purdue goes with a dink pass that Ryan(+0.5, tackling +1) is close enough to get a no-YAC tackle on, but only just. He would have delayed the receiver long enough for the D to rally even if he hadn't managed to get the receiver down.
O29 2 6 Shotgun trips bunch TE 4-3 even slide Run N/A Zone belly Kovacs 5
M moves Ryan all the way out to the hash where the bunch is and has Demens a bit further inside; Morgan is the only actual LB in the box; Kovacs overhangs to the short side. Purdue tries to take advantage by running a belly zone at the backside. Clark contains; give. Campbell(-0.5) gives a little too much ground and Kovacs(-0.5) is hesitant when he's got a free run at the ballcarrier—seems like he doesn't entirely trust Clark, which fair enough. Clark comes down to tackle with help from Kovacs near the sticks.
O34 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Pin and pull counter Demens 0
Fullback goes away from the play and RB takes a counter step as two linemen pull around the other way and TerBush pitches. This probably should have worked but one of the pulling linemen goes for Taylor instead of looking for a linebacker flowing from the inside. The other blocks Ryan(+0.5) who sheds quickly and comes upfield but does get in a shoestring tackle attempt that helps make the RB an easy target; Demens(+1) did flow quickly and get to the hole to tackle(+1) short of the sticks. Mostly just a Purdue screwup but M did execute some.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. See you in ten minutes, D.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Sack Ryan -11
Clark flares out just as the field WR goes in motion, which gives M more of a 3-4 look but the DEs are tucked inside. Anyway, he's upfield to deal with the potential-end around on the snap. It's play action; no one open as Gordon(+1, cover +1) pulls up and moves out on the TE drag coming across the field. Ryan(+2, pressure +2) is unblocked backside and making for the QB all the way. He has the agility and discipline to not overrun the QB and makes a massive sack as Terbush can't risk the throw to the covered safety valve. RPS +3—this was dead to rights.
O21 2 21 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel even Run N/A Counter trap Morgan 10
Roh(+0.5) actually does a good job to not run way upfield once the G over him releases and comes down on a the trapping OL, which forces the RB to go outside of him. Demens(-0.5) and Morgan(-1) do not take that opportunity. Morgan doesn't read the G pull right over him and gets locked out by a tackle releasing. Demens goes upfield of his blocker and doesn't make a play; probably not relevant because Morgan didn't read it but still bad. Kovacs fills for his only tackle of the day(!).
O31 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Rollout hitch Floyd Inc
Rollout gets TerBush all day (pressure -2) but no one is open at all (cover +3) and Floyd(+2) is there to break on the ball and get a PBU when TerBush eventually has to pull the trigger on a throw as he nears the chalk.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 even slide Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 11
Floyd(-1, cover -1) is unable to tackle on this five-yard hitch and turns it into a first down.
O48 1 10 Shotgun double stack 4-3 even split Pass 4 PA bubble screen CGordon 3
Ish, anyway. Cam Gordon(+1) is getting blocked by the outside WR in an almost-stacked formation as TerBush throws to the inside guy who is shuffling backwards on the catch. That's one on one with Taylor but Gordon's blown his blocker back and cut off the inside so the WR has nowhere to go and gets sandwiched by Taylor and Gordon after a small gain.
M49 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Rollout fly Beyer Inc
Beyer(-1, pressure -1) is hacked to the ground by the tailback and just kind of stops there; he didn't get cut, he got CUT. This gives TerBush all day on the edge. Demens is coming up to turn that pressure on and TerBush misses badly on a WR who had an okay gap between Avery and Kovacs. Coverage push; this wasn't too bad in the secondary.
M49 3 7 Shotgun 2-back Okie two Pass 5 Hitch Morgan 5
Slot blitz from Avery plus a hash to hash zone drop from Morgan that he holds up on; notably, this h2h drop features the guy looking all the way. Avery(+0.5, pressure +1) gets in free, forcing a quick throw. Morgan(+0.5) is combining with Gordon(+0.5, cover +1) to box in the obvious hot read from the corner blitz and get the guy down short of the sticks. RPS +1; M got exactly what they wanted on this play.
M44 4 2 Shotgun trips 4-3 even slide Pass 4 Hitch Taylor INT
This should be a five yard completion for the first down, which okay. Terbush throws it high, WR deflects, Taylor(+1) is like okay free touchdown yay. Cover –1.
Drive Notes: Defensive TD, 21-0, 12 min 2nd Q. Boilers fumble ensuing KO.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Run N/A Quick pitch Floyd 0
CGordon(+1) in for Ryan, playing with his hand down. He is upfield on the snap as the T releases downfield and forces a scary pitch that is well behind the RB and almost dropped. RB brings it in, spinning. The spin takes him outside into Floyd(+1), who has set up at the numbers at the LOS and forces it back to the pursuing CGordon, except not actually because the RB runs his face into Floyd's.
O27 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 11
Another five yard hitch Floyd(-1) is lax on and turns into a larger gain. He's indecisive, taking a couple false steps before attacking. I'm not too mad since getting beat over the top is worse against this flailing O but be there to tackle before the sticks plz.
O38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Roh 3
Roh(+0.5) holds up pretty dang well to a double for a guy his size at three tech. Clark(+0.5) is unblocked on the backside, keeps contain, and comes down quickly. Washington(+0.5) doesn't really know what's up but has blasted a single block back and will ass tackle if Clark doesn't actually tackle; more to the point there's nothing to burst through because of Washington.
O41 2 7 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Improv Floyd 7
Floyd(-1) in press along with Avery; they're backed by safety help. Aggressive on the short routes, Terbush finds nothing (cover +2) and rolls. Token pressure from Clark; Terbush does find a WR late, with Floyd getting lax as TerBush rolls out. Get up on your man; he's not going anywhere that close to the sideline.
O48 1 10 Shotgun trips bunch 4-3 even slide Pass N/A Scramble Ryan 2
Ryan(+1) is destroying things before they even exist on this play as Terbush aborts a WR screen so that Ryan doesn't kill all the people. Roh(+0.5) contains; Pipkins(+0.5) helps tackles, but this is RPS +2 mostly.
50 2 8 Shotgun double stack 4-3 even split Pass 4 Improv Beyer 20
Cut blocking so they want a quick throw. Ryan(+0.5) and Taylor(+0.5) are all over the routes TerBush wants and then he has to exit pocket posthaste. Roh(+1) avoided that cut and leapt, preventing a throw. Beyer(-1) overruns the QB and lets him outside the pocket, at which point Kovacs(-1) gets beat by the TE for a big gain.
M30 1 10 Shotgun Trips TE 4-3 even slide Pass 4 Slant Demens Inc
Purdue fakes the WR screen Ryan is set to destroy and goes for a short slant behind it; ball is in front of the WR and dropped. Demens(+0.5, cover +1, RPS +1) was right there on a deeper slant and would have likely tackled this for a minimal gain if complete.
M30 2 10 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Improv Gordon 3
Nothing at first(cover +2) as TerBush goes through a couple reads. Internal timer goes off and he starts trying to find a way out of the pocket. Roh(+1) gets pressure(+1), forcing a TerBush throw off the back foot that loops to his WR. He's penned in by three Wolverines and it's third and long. This ball is obviously fumbled but the refs screw it up by calling forward progress. Gordon +1 for the strip, refs –2.
M27 3 7 Shotgun empty Okie one Run N/A Inverted veer keeper Morgan 4
Slot comes in motion for the handoff. Okie stuff gets three guys blocking the backside DT as two folks drop to LB depth. Morgan(+1) reads the pull and stands up a pulling G two yards downfield despite having no momentum; Ryan(+1) is unblocked on the backside and has the speed to close and tackle near the LOS; Demens(+0.5) reads it and finishes the play unblocked.
Drive Notes: FG(40), 21-3, 7 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Yakety snap N/A -2
Fumbled snap.
O29 2 12 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle hitch Floyd Inc
Again they get the edge (pressure -1) but Roh is pursuing so it's not super easy. Coverage(+3) is excellent downfield for a long time; TerBush finds an open-ish guy that Floyd(+1) is there to break up. PBUs are usually two but this was pretty easy on a stationary WR.
O29 3 12 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble N/A 1
Michigan looks like they're trying something fancy as both DTs move way way outside, opening up a huge lane for TerBush to step into. He does, and he's looking to find someone downfield when he runs into his own tailback; the delay forces him to start moving again, at which point it's too late for him. Um. Pressure -1, Cover +2? I think we got a little lucky here.
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-3, 2 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA WR screen Kovacs 8
Play action allows Purdue to get a TE out to the edge without drawing LB attention. Kovacs(-1) sucks in a step or two and doesn't read the TE; he gets stalled many yards downfield. Floyd comes up to keep leverage okay. Kovacs does get off the block and Ross starts dancing around, eventually getting stuck(+0.5, tackling +1) by Morgan in space.
M28 2 2 Shotgun 2TE twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 Bubble screen Beyer 3
Beyer's(+1) flared out as an OLB type as Michigan goes with more of a 30 look. He's got a blocker he gets outside of, forcing the WR inside of him. Campbell and Morgan are coming out and are now useful because of the leverage but can't cut him off before the sticks. That'll happen.
M25 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Trap Morgan 9
Tough to defend this with 5.5 in the box and DTs Black and Roh. Black(-1) gets blown out as CGordon shoots upfield unblocked but also useless; two guys move through the center of the field to find one guy, Morgan(-1), who gets cut really badly. Demens(+0.5, tackling +1) flowed down the line and smashed the TB just as he breaks to the secondary; fortunate. RPS -1.
M16 2 1 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Flare CGordon Inc
CGordon gets a hand up but doesn't actually deflect the thing; it's just a crappy pass. I guess he gets +0.5 for maybe making the pass go badly. Taylor was coming up, with indeterminate results if this is complete.
M16 3 1 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Trap Morgan 3
M slanting, which means the DT Purdue is running at ends up running at the trapping G and kind of seals himself, but at least this time Morgan(+0.5) is moving fast at the snap, knowing the playcall, and ends up in the hole before the tackle coming out on him can block. He can't quite get out there, though, and while he makes the tackle it's not the thumper required to prevent a first down. Demens(+0.5) did a good job to pop a guard releasing and come off to finish the tackle. RPS push; good idea but evidently tough to execute.
M13 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Morgan 9
Purdue pulls a guard and Morgan(-1, cover -1) does suck up on it, but I'm not sure I'm even mad. Demens(+0.5) is not coming up and almost drops right into the route, getting a hand out and coming about an inch away from a PBU. Gordon(+1) gets a good tackle(+1) right away.
M4 2 1 Shotgun trips Nickel even press Pass 4 Slant Taylor 4
Taylor(-1, cover -1) is lined up with inside leverage, bites on a feint outside, and gives up the easy slant.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-10, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Sweep Roh 0
Roh(+1) bursts upfield and outside of the TE, as he's aligned outside of him and is tough to seal. That blows up any sweep type ideas as he's now cutting off the outside, which is 3 for 1! Morgan(+1) flows, takes on an awkward block by a redirecting G, and those two combine to tackle for no gain. RPS +1. Mattison blew this up with alignment.
O21 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even split Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 11
Floyd(-1, tackling -1) again turns a four yard hitch into a first down or near it by being unable to tackle on the catch.
O32 1 10 Shotgun double stack 4-3 even split Run N/A Trap Washington 0
Five guys in the box, Purdue wants to test it. Washington(+1) goes boom into the center, driving him back; this picks off the trapping G. Campbell(+0.5) gets into him in the backfield and forces an awkward bounce. Roh(+1) is riding a tackle so he can't get into Demens; as he sees the cutback he releases upfield and makes the tackle for no gain. BWS picture-paged.
O32 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Slant Floyd Inc
Credit to Floyd(+2, cover +2) on this one: he is right there on this slant and gets a PBU.
O32 3 10 Shotgun Trips TE Okie one Pass 5 Tunnel screen Avery 3
Clark(+1) reads the tackle releasing and starts moving outside. This doesn't get a tackle in or anything but it does force the WR vertical before he wants to go vertical; Avery(+1) is charging at the WR and tackles after a modest gain. Got lucky, as the tackle coming out should have pounded Avery and then Gordon is the man who is basically the only thing between Purdue and a TD. He probably makes the play but would have been do or die right there.
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-10, 11 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips bunch TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Rollout hitch Demens Inc
Coverage(+2) is good on the rollout. Ryan(+0.5) picks up a flat; Floyd(+0.5) has a deeper route; Demens(+0.5) has a hitch to the inside. Heitzman(+0.5) is delivering nominal pressure, and TerBush eventually chucks it across his body wildly; Demens almost gets a hand on it and likely would if this was more accurate.
O36 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Clark 2
Demens(+0.5) seems to have the inside slant; Purdue runs a bubble fake to the outside and Floyd(+1, cover +1) is definitely all over the slant that's supposed to be the gotcha counter. TerBush throws it anyway; Clark(+1) bats it as he is wont to do. Inside slant guy catches it for a few.
O38 3 8 I-Form twins Nickel even Pass 4 Rollout dig Floyd Inc
Clark is containing but there are three guys on the edge blocking so he's got no shot. This looks like it's designed to suck Michigan to the edge of the field and then hit them back inside as the outside WR runs a dig; Floyd(+2, cover +2) is all over it and gets a diving PBU.
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 5 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 even slide Run N/A Power off tackle Washington -3
Washington(+1) shoves his man into the backfield and picks off the pulling G. Roh(+1) chucks the tackle trying to block down on him; Demens(+1) beats a WR block; Ryan(+1) does likewise and attacks, getting a diving TFL. If he misses he's still forced the guy upfield and Demens and Gordon will blow him up anyway. Morgan(+0.5) was scraping to the hole if it went further upfield. Ain't nowhere to go.
O20 2 13 Shotgun 2TE twins Nickel even Pass 4 Hook and ladder N/A 20
More like a fake tunnel and ladder but whatever. Okay, they get M. I'm not minusing the D, but this is an RPS -2.
O40 1 10 Shotgun empty 4-3 even Pass 4 Out Taylor 14
A five yard out Taylor(-0.5, cover -1) can't tackle on the catch. CGordon(-1, tackling -1) is coming out as the WR turns upfield and overruns it. Gordon fends off a block to slow the guy and gets an ankle tackle as Taylor recovers to tackle.
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Sprint counter Pipkins 11
Heitzman left unblocked; he flows up to contain the QB. The line hasn't gotten gapped on the backside but there's a big hole between Heitzman and Pipkins(-0.5), who doesn't slow the back...I think he may be right to cut this thing off but I'd like to see him realize where the ball is going faster and at least bother the guy. Demens was pass-dropping; he gets into a blocker and contains about three yards downfield. Morgan(-0.5) went around a blocker upfield and almost almost makes a nice play to hold this down but cannot. Kovacs fills; pile falls past sticks. RPS -1.
M35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 WR screen Taylor 2
M shows cover one and that they will send CGordon off the edge. Purdue shows a sweep to the left and just throws it at a single receiver to the right. Taylor(+1, tackling +1) comes up to make a stop after a minimal gain. Beyer flowing out from the line helped, I guess, but not really sure what Purdue is trying to accomplish here.
M33 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Scramble N/A 6
Again all of the time on the edge. Clark(-1) gets sealed inside, though the RB leading out there is just looking to block. Pressure –2. No one open (cover +3) despite all day, Marve runs for a few.
M27 3 2 Shotgun 2TE tight 4-3 even Pass 4 TE out Kovacs 1
Kovacs(+0.5) and Floyd(+0.5, cover +1) are right there on one yard pass and force a fourth down. RPS +1.
M25 4 In Ace trips Nickel even Run N/A QB sneak N/A 1
They get it.
M24 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 even Pass 4 Scramble Beyer 2
Initial read is covered and then Beyer(+0.5) and Campbell(+0.5, pressure +1) collapse the pocket, with Beyer going around the edge and Campbell bulling an interior OL back. Still nobody open(a total over cover +2) as Marve gets the edge; he scrambles for a couple.
M22 2 8 Shotgun trips 4-3 even slide Pass 4 Throwaway Morgan Inc + 11 Pen
Looks like miscommunication but Marve is just throwing this away; his OL cut the interior guys so the WR's route is right. That's a slant that Morgan(+1, cover +1) is going to pick six if thrown. Roh(+0.5) and Beyer(+0.5) are beating guys upfield and meeting at the QB so Marve has to get rid of it. Pressure +1. Washington(-1) gets a personal foul. No idea why, no replay.
M11 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE Nickel even Pass 5 Sack Ryan -6
Max pro with two WRs. Marve thinks they're covered(+1) and starts rolling, unwisely, as Ryan(+1) avoids a cut and charges at him. Ryan can't bring him down but does force him to the sideline. Roh(+0.5) pursues fast and finishes forcing him OOB.
M17 2 16 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Draw Roh -2
Purdue's OL derfs as both guys blocking Roh(+1) let him go and move to the second level. Roh does contain the back and force him back to the rest of his DL; Beyer(+0.5) finishes the tackle.
M19 3 18 Shotgun empty Okie zero Pass 4 Throwaway Ryan Inc
Mattison zone blitz as Demens is lined up over the G, fakes like he's coming, and backs out. That occupies a G; C occupied by Black. Ryan(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) gets to roar straight up the middle of the pocket untouched and level Marve, who chucks it out of the endzone.
Drive Notes: FG(36), 31-13, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Reverse Roh 11
Ryan and Roh are on the edge here. Ryan goes straight upfield to cut off the outside; Roh starts running straight for the sideline, opening up a lane. Roh(-2) should have let Ryan handle the contain. Gordon comes up to tackle.
O27 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Out Taylor 5
Taylor(+0.5, cover +1) in cover two and tackles on the catch.
O32 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Drag Ryan INT
Ryan(+1) blitzes, stunting inside into the center, beating him and again shooting straight upfield at Marve. Clark(+1) beat the RT with a speed rush. Those guys are going to crush Marve, so he throws. It's a drag route Demens(+0.5, cover +1) is going to blow up short of the first down; WR deflects it directly to Gordon(+1), who makes the easy INT. Pressure +2, cover +1.
Drive Notes: Interception, 34-13, 9 min 4th Q. Rob Henry gets the next drive but M starters are still mostly in so okay.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 even slide Run N/A QB draw Campbell -2
Campbell(+1) drives the G back into the intended crease, convincing Henry to go outside, where he and Ojemudia(+1) combine to TFL.
O25 2 12 Shotgun trips 4-3 even slide Pass 4 Hitch Demens 5
Five yard route, immediate tackle. Demens +0.5
O30 3 7 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 nickel Pass 5 TE out Ojemudia 4
Three man front with two LBs flanking. Ojemudia(+1) swims past a guard, as does Black(+0.5), though Black is not as quick. Ojemudia looks held, no call. QB chucks another short dink route; Floyd(+0.5) there for an immediate tacke. Pressure +1, cover +1.
O34 4 3 Shotgun trips 4-3 even slide Run N/A Inverted veer keeper   -1
Ojemudia(+2) shuffles down a bit, then moves upfield as the back gets there, which causes a pull... and causes the pulling G to go for him. Ojemudia goes upfield of that block and starts making an ankle tackle; Morgan(+0.5) was unblocked thanks to the Ojemudia play and helps finish with CGordon, who came from the backside quickly.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 37-13, 5 min 4th Q. One more drive but mostly backups so fin.

I almost kind of expect this.

I know. Like… I know. But even if you kind of expect that you can't actually expect that, you know?

I don't know, you know?

Well, the thing is I've been doing these things for a while and I kind of know what a reasonable number is for a lot of this stuff and the numbers for this game are just not reasonable. I think we should look at

CHART

a chart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Roh 8.5 2 6.5 Reliable. Active. Mini-RVB.
Campbell 2 0.5 1.5 Purdue only bothered to test M DTs a couple times.
Washington 2.5 1 1.5 So like whatever.
Black 0.5 1 -0.5 Again marginalized.
Clark 3.5 1 2.5 Another batted pass.
Beyer 2.5 2 0.5 Got cut pretty badly that one time.
Pipkins 0.5 0.5 0 eh
Heitzman 0.5 - 0.5 no comment possible for one half point
Ojemudia 4 - 4 All of this on last drive but that was impressive on the veer
Ash - - - DNP
Brink - - - DNP
TOTAL 24.5 8 16.5 When Purdue tried to run at hilariously few guys in the box they got zip.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 5.5 3.5 2 Overshadowed with +2, is this real life?
Demens 6.5 0.5 6 As I said after ND: !!!
Ryan 10 - 10 I call him mini Clay Matthews.
C. Gordon 2.5 1 1.5 Getting some run now.
Ross - - - DNP
Bolden - - - DNP
Hawthorne - - - DNP
TOTAL 24.5 5 19.5 That is incredible. Has to be the best +/- LB ratio ever.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 10.5 4 6.5 Got 3-4 PBUs to go with 3-4 not quite tackles on short stuff.
Avery 1.5 - 1.5 Tunnel screen stick.
Taylor 3 1.5 1.5 TD was a little bad.
Kovacs 0.5 2.5 -2 Plz ignore, see "coverage"
T. Gordon 4.5 - 4.5 Playing pretty well these days.
Holowell - - - DNP
Wilson - - - DNP
TOTAL 20 8 12 LOL
Metrics
Pressure 11 7 4 Rollouts a little annoying but…
Coverage 34 5 29 I don't even know what to do with myself.
Tackling 5 2 71% Eh.
RPS 11 4 7 Mattison must break you.

Okay, so the LB numbers and the coverage numbers I will tell you flat out without even looking are completely unprecedented. Linebacking is hard, and covering people is hard, and I've been tolerant of scores around zero for both groups. To come out of a game with 80-90% good marks just never happens.

When something like this goes down I naturally would like to sanity-check it, so… yup, eleven drives, a flat 200 yards on those drives and 13 points. 10% of Purdue's yards on a hook and ladder. Purdue starting QB averages 4.4 YPA. When hook and ladder removed, all Purdue QBs combine for 4.2 YPA and throw two INTs. Purdue rushes for 3.0 YPC. Sanity checked. Sanity is like "maybe those numbers should be a little higher."

So, yeah, don't look at the –2 for Kovacs on like the few plays he was on the screen for, look at the coverage metric, and nod your head and say woo pig sooie. (Do not say that.) This was the quintessential play from yesterday: good play action from Purdue sucks Morgan up a fraction and…

…Demens almost bats it down and Gordon tackles the guy as soon as he touches the ball. College teams cannot execute in these windows very often, and even when Purdue's stuff was working they were operating with a tiny margin for error.

I started a tweet BOOM on Saturday and later thought to myself that was out of character; now I kind of wish I had added the SHAKALAKA deserved.

I thought you were kind of mad at JT Floyd?

I am still a little when 33 of Purdue's scanty yards are acquired on little five yard hitch routes Floyd cannot tackle on immediately:

(It happened to Taylor once, FWIW. These plays were about a quarter of Purdue's entire offensive output.) Reviewing the film I found 4 PBUs—even though the official stats only give him two in my book you get a PBU for being in position to catch a ball no matter how ugly the duck that misses the WR is. PBUs are hard and get points and again, no yards for Purdue and massive coverage metric.

Floyd also had a good run fill on a quick pitch, so there's that.

Is it weird they're just going at Floyd all the time?

A lot of those were rollouts and it's easier to roll out right for a right handed quarterback and then when the play is over you're on the right hash and Floyd is the boundary corner. I bet that if Michigan had swapped their guys Purdue still would have been throwing rollouts to the boundary, only at Taylor.

That said, it is a little weird. Taylor did give up that slant on fourth and two and just got lucky; he also gave up a slant on first and goal that was not so good. If that guy beats you to the outside and they complete the fade, okay. That's a much tougher recipe than chucking that easy slant.

Taylor's still doing very well in general—again, holy coverage metric. The bet here is that Floyd's frequent targeting was just a symptom of the limited offense Michigan was going up against.

JAKE F. RYAN

Yeah man yeah yeah. Okay, so he spends a big part of the day hanging out on the edge making or threatening to make plays like he did against that one ND screen on third and four. Purdue eventually just had to abandon that part of their gameplan entirely after they couldn't even throw the ball:

Another part of the day is spent pass rushing. He's unblocked here but TerBush is decently mobile and how many times do you see guys set loose overrun opponents?

Brandon Harrison sucked at that* and he was about half Ryan's size.

Also, murderdeathkill.

Mostly Mattison but again demonstration that Jake Ryan has a killer size/speed combo. On the next drive Ryan would do that again, and Marve was all like ball gone please leave me alone.

+10, no minus, yeah baby.

*[No offense Mr. Harrison. Brandon Harrison should have been much more involved in the 2008 defense, which insanely benched him until Minnesota when the 4-2-5 nickel came back.]

Demens? Morgan?

Demens now has a +14, –0.5, +13.5 line the last two games. Morgan hasn't had that kind of eye-popping UFR production but he's not that far off as a true sophomore. Note that in this game the veterans kept the rookies entirely off the field—that should tell you the coaches are a lot happier with them than they were a couple games ago.

Against a team that runs as much dinky pass stuff as Purdue that's mostly a compliment to their pass coverage.

DL marveling?

I'll have to take a pass this week as Purdue barely tested the DTs. When they did, Michigan responded, as BWS documented in a picture pages. I will say that Roh is handling SDE duties just fine so far; he's becoming the half-point machine RVB was last year where he's not lining up the opposing QB for killshots but is getting to him consistently, is stringing stuff out and closing off holes and doing all the littler things that make life easier for everyone else.

Anyone new emerging?

I was impressed by Mario Ojemudia's brief cameo at the end of the game. He swam past an offensive guard on a play reminiscent of his high school tape, and then he played an inverted veer just right. So here he delays the QB's decision, forces a pull, occupies the pulling G, and helps tackle:

Can't do that better. Just getting the two for one (contain and the pulling G) is a major win; doing that and making the subsequent tackle easier for the unblocked LB you caused to be unblocked is great.

While I'm not sure how much more we'll see him in important moments with Beyer back, he's shown the first flashes of quality play. Whoever wins the WDE dogfight going into 2013 is going to be pretty dang good.

Heroes?

Jeez. Pick someone. Entire secondary, Jake Ryan, Demens, and Roh. There you go.

Goa—nevermind.

Srs. GTFO, man.

What does it mean for Illinois and the future?

Illinois will put up 14 or fewer points and totally fail to move the ball consistently.

As for the future, it seems like the veteran ILBs have reasserted a hold on their jobs, and for the best reason: playing better. We'll see more of the freshmen when the defense isn't booting the opposition off the field in three plays while Michigan takes 17 to matriculate down the field; I don't think they'll be huge threats to displace the oldsters. Michigan's LBs are clean and playing a lot faster.

We got a few extra hints that the DL was pretty good, and that whatever coverages Michigan is running are being executed extremely well. Michigan's short a couple elite athletes in the secondary; other than that there's not much to criticize.

Mattison must break you. Jake Ryan is his tool.

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