EMU Postgame Presser Transcript: Players

EMU Postgame Presser Transcript: Players

Submitted by Heiko on September 18th, 2011 at 6:28 PM

Denard Robinson and Vincent Smith

When you guys went exclusively to running in second half, how much of that was by design, and how much of that was your reads? Denard: “Reads. I mean, most of the time it was just reads, and that’s what happened.”

Why did that happen? How did this game turn into having to run the ball a lot in order to win the game? Denard: “We just go with the flow of the game, and what happens happened.” Smith: “The big guys up front, they did an excellent job of blocking, and we just took what the defense gave us. Eastern came out and played a good game of football.”

Vince, how many carries can you handle per game? Smith: “Whatever the team needs to win, I’m there. However many carries I need for my team to win, that’s how many carries I can handle.”

You had more than 100 yards rushing, which is usually really good for a running back. Is it intimidating that your quarterback has nearly twice that? Smith: “Not at all. We don’t even look at it that way. It’s whatever for the team. If we need the quarterback to score a touchdown [rather] than the running back -- we both compliment each other on the game.”

Can you comment on your slow start on offense and how important the 97-yard TD drive was? Denard: “We came out a little flat, but on the 97-yard drive, we picked up some momentum, and that kept us going the entire game.”

Does starting slow bother you? Denard: “We wanted to come out fast, and that’s what we’ve been focusing on everyday. Talking about coming out fast and getting off to a good start.”

Is there a reason? Denard: “No, there’s no reason. There’s no reason for it.”

Can you comment on Thomas Gordon’s 1-handed INT? Smith: “I saw it from the big screen. It was a great catch.” Denard: “When he first came in my freshman year I saw him do crazy stuff like that, so I knew he could do it.”

Can you breakdown the TD pass to Dileo, and can you talk about other throws today where you were off? Denard: “The pass to Drew Dileo. It’s a read, basically. I just read it out, and he came open and I gave it to him.”

Vince, do you feel like you have to prove you’re an every down back? Smith: “Just like I said, it’s all about the team. Whenever we needed a running back to step up when the game’s not going well, we feel like whatever for the team. Somebody’s going to step up and get the job done.”

How did you feel about your performance in passing game? Denard: “I mean, I always have time for improvement and room for improvement, so that’s the biggest room.”

Coach wanted to get tailbacks going. How big was it to get Vince going? Denard: “It was big, I mean, when he starts running well, they start crashing down on him, I can get the ball and read it out and get the ball and run some. When things like that start happening, it’s kind of hard for the defense to stop.”

What do you think you need to do better in passing game? Denard: “Come back on Sunday and come to work. Do everything coach tells me to do.”

Anything you want to address specifically? Denard: “We’ll see on film. Have to see the film first.”

Did you feel like you’re seeing the receivers and the passing lanes all right? Denard: “Oh yeah, oh yeah. We’ve been practicing for weeks, so I can see pretty good.” Looked to me like you were throwing behind guys a lot. “No. I don’t think -- no.”

Your numbers were like some games last year. Did you feel like last year or was it different? Denard: “I don’t know. I get caught up in the game, so whatever’s going on is going on.”

You had that one long run where you cut across the field. What did you see? Denard: “Which one are you talking about?” It was your longest run, I believe. It was 53-yarder or something? “I was kind of being patient. I thought ‘Tree was probably going to push the guy down or something. I should have just sped up and gotten up there and not taken the side.”

After the Notre Dame game, was it a little bit tough to get going in a noon game? Denard: “Everybody was just getting ready for the game. We had Kevin Koger in the locker room talking to us. We call him Hypeman86. We were just ready to go. We have another chance to play football, and that’s what we’ve been working on all summer.”

(more after the jump)

Opponent Watch: Week 2

Opponent Watch: Week 2

Submitted by Heiko on September 15th, 2011 at 4:37 PM

(Last week there was some confusion about opponent fear levels. Let me explain my scale: 0 = Bye week?; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team somebody’s going to get fired; 5 = This team will have a winning record; 8 = Best in conference/will play in a BCS bowl; 9 = National title contender; 10 = Hold me, TomVH. Also, I’ve made some minor tweaks, but again, I welcome your suggestions for how I can make this more informative. Disclaimer still applies -- these analyses carry little weight until we’re through with the cupcakes or N=3.)

[ED: Yo. Heiko accidentally overwrote last week's opponent watch, so the first 45 comments are from that post last week. Do not be confused. Or do, I guess, but that's on you.]

About last Saturday:

Notre Dame

Last game: Notre Dame 31, UM 35

Question: Where were you when Roy Roundtree caught Denard Robinson’s pass to allow Michigan to beat Notre Dame with two seconds left on the clock?

Right there.

I was cheering so hard I forgot to take pictures, and when I finally did, this is all I got:

 

And it was awesome.

The Road Ahead:

Eastern Michigan (2-0 (! ? .))

Last game: Alabama State 7, EMU 14 (W)

Recap: Let’s start out nice and easy with a backhanded compliment. Brady Hoke:

How do you make sure EMU is not a letdown game? “I can tell you one thing -- Eastern’s 2-0. They haven’t been 2-0 since 1989.”

So … Eastern Michigan managed to schedule a pair of FCS teams to begin their season and not lose to them. Bravo. You know what happened during week one, right? They crushed a bad, bad Howard team 41-9. Last Saturday they played against Alabama State, which according to MGoUser mikoyan, is not that bad. There is some merit in that assessment:

“I'm not sure Alabama State is a worse team than Eastern, they blew out their opening week opponent 41-9.  If I recall, they are a fairly good 1AA team.”

I fact-checked to confirm that, indeed, a team coming off a 41-9 week one victory had squared off against another team coming off a 41-9 week one victory. #Destiny. #LoveIt.

#SoTellUsWhatHappened!

You should stop holding your breath is what happened. It was unwatchable/I didn’t watch any of it.

The teams matched each other closely for first downs -- the Hornets accrued 18 and Eastern Michigan had 20 -- but each averaged only about 1.5 first downs per drive. (I know, I know, that sounds like … Michigan against Notre Dame!) The Eagles won by relying heavily on their ground game, which was good for 336 yards, because their passing was atrocious (which is the negative descriptor of the week). Eastern QB Alex Gillett put up a 2011-Notre-Dame-Denard-like completion percentage (7 for 19, 1 TD, 1 INT) without the 2011-Notre-Dame-Denard-like yards (61). Gillett actually gained more yards running (74) than passing, which officially makes him the Little Sister of the Poor Man’s 2011-Notre-Dame Denard. Wow, that’s two rivalry references in one.

Their defense did manage to convince Alabama State to run backwards for -13 yards on 30 attempts. Woo.

Right now they are as frightening as: The common cold. At worst it’s an inconvenience, and a week later, nobody ever remembers you were sick. 1. A canker sore. You worry about it only if you think it might be Herpes. It’s not. 1.

Michigan should worry about: It’s possible (but not probable) that Mike Hart may have some kind of fifth-year/grad/transfer eligibility left. Hart’s comments about not cheering for Michigan. Aww. =(

Michigan should sleep soundly about: The highway that separates Ann Arbor and Ypsi. Those three-game Putterz vouchers never expire.

If Michigan had played them last Saturday: Dave Brandon would have argued that the game was in hand before the game even started. At least GameDay would have been covering two teams with winning records.

Next game: That Team A Couple Miles West On Washtenaw.

San Diego State (2-0)

Last game: San Diego State 23, Army 20 (W)

Recap: San Diego State has now beaten all three service academies within the last year, which is more than Notre Dame can say for itself.

This game was close. Though Aztec RB Ronnie Hillman had another 100+ rushing performance, Army outrushed San Diego State 403-146. How did Army not win? Their passing was crappy (not that the Black Knights’ triple-option offense ever passes), and they turned the ball over three times, plus a forced fumble that was almost a fourth turnover on the last drive (they turned it over on downs on the next play regardless). The Aztecs had zero turnovers:

"Yards don't win games," Army coach Rich Ellerson said. "Turnovers is what correlates to the final score."

I know, says Brian Kelly. I know. =’(

San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley was 8 for 18 with 146 yards and a TD. He wasn’t as good as last week, but he got the job done. More importantly though, Lindley seems to be courting a favorite wide receiver from the depths of the depth chart. His name is Colin Lockett, he’s a sophomore, and he didn’t even make it onto Tim’s 2011 Opponent Preview, but he did catch five passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, so Michigan should keep an eye on him.

The obligatory defensive report: they gave up three more rushing touchdowns. Man, defense is so boring to write about.

Right now they are as frightening as: The ex-fiancé of a girl that you dated before they were together to whom you are now married. Yeah, you were there first -- and he totally understands -- but you accidentally mailed him an invitation to your baby shower. Oops. 4. The ex-fiancé says he’s doing well, doesn’t miss your wife at all, and even got re-engaged … to your wife’s former defensive coordinator. Fear level remains at 4.

Michigan should worry about: Lingering toughness and accountability from San Diego State’s Hoke era. In all seriousness, shoring up that run defense against Hillman.

Michigan should sleep soundly about: The best scouting report EVER. They don’t have much of a run defense, either.

If Michigan had played them last Saturday: Ryan Lindley, meet Jordan Kovacs. Kovacs, Lindley. I would love to see a noon game with the lights on.

Next game: Washington State

(more after the jump)

Monday Presser Transcript 9-12-11: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 9-12-11: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 12th, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Brady Hoke

News bullets and other important items:

  • Eastern Michigan is 2-0 and is averaging 331 yards rushing, which is scary to Hoke. Fear level now up to 2.
  • Fitz Toussaint (shoulder) will likely return this week.
  • Brandon Herron (unknown), and Cam Gordon (back) are questionable. Will need good week in practice to return.
  • Woolfolk had a bit of a nose injury, but re: his ankle -- "He's fine." Period.
  • Marell Evans still working on eligibility. Currently operating as scout team linebacker.
  • Jake Ryan playing with hand down primarily in nickel package.
  • Need to see more from Will Campbell in practice for more playing time.
  • Odoms working his way back into rotation.
  • No student-body tryouts until January.
  • No. 21 jersey will likely go to wide receivers in the future. Unknown whether Raymon Taylor is wearing the Desmond Howard patch.

Press Conference (filmed)

"Does that make sense? It does to me ..."

Opening remarks: “You guys ready? Thanks for coming.

“Saturday was obviously very exciting in a lot of ways. The crowd, the passion, how both teams played 60 minutes of football. It was a neat environment, fun, all those things. Obviously a record crowd to see a college football game, and it was good to have the outcome the way it did. It was hard fought, not a perfect game. When you look at it offensively and defensively, things that we need to get a lot better at before we’re going to be any kind of a football team -- we need to focus in on those things, and as a team, we’ve gotta do a good job of coaching, number one, and teaching, and then playing. Our expectations are high, and we won’t get that way if we don’t possess the ball offensively to help the defense, and if we don’t do a better job in third-down conversions from a defensive standpoint.”

What did you see from Brandin Hawthorne and Will Campbell? “I thought Brandin got in there and did a nice job and made some plays. I think it was good to see him be productive in that role. Part of it [was] he did a nice job reacting and seeing the ball and focusing in on keys and finishing plays. And that was good to see from him. He had been banged up about the last week of camp. He practiced, but he had an ankle problem and still does to some degree, but it was good to see him play full speed.”

Overcoming adversity, was it especially hard trying to overcome a 24-7 deficit or trying to score with 30 seconds left? “Probably both. Our team stayed together. At halftime, we went in, and we just talk about -- asked a pretty simple question, ‘Have we played our best football?’ … ‘Are we playing our best football?’ and ‘Are we coaching our best football?’ and it was a unanimous ‘No.’

“Al and the offensive staff did a good job in some adjusting that they did. You’ve got to get Notre Dame a lot of credit. They’re a pretty good football team. Their biggest Achilles heel is they’ve turned the ball over, and you can’t do that. I’m not coaching them, but I’m sure Brian is sick about that. I thought the guys complement each other as a team, and they stayed together.”

What did you say to the team yesterday to get them to move past Notre Dame? “We were going to spend Sunday talking about the things that we did [well] and didn’t do [well]. Eastern -- they’re 2-0. They’re a confident team. I think Ron’s done a nice job. They’re averaging 331 yards per game rushing the football. That’s pretty impressive -- I don’t care who you’re playing. I think you’ve got a staff over there of guys -- with Mike [Hart] and Kurt Anderson, Steve Morrison, who are all products of this program as players -- that understand about coaching hard and doing those things, and you know just from being around those guys that’s how they coach their kids. And you can tell, with Ron’s influence as a defensive coach and defensive minded guy and an aggressive personality guy -- that’s the way they’re playing football. They’re impressive. They’ve got 10 sacks in two games. They’re doing a lot of good things.”

Did Denard have a rough game, great game, or little of both? “Probably a little of both. Obviously he made some plays when we needed to have some plays made, which a guy of his capability and caliber can do, but we also needed to make better decisions at times. He was the first one to come off the field after one [bad play] and say, ‘My footwork was bad.’ So that’s good to see. The whole thing is a process to some degree, and we’re learning everyday.”

What is Fitz Toussaint’s status, and are there concerns about repeated injuries to him? “I don’t know much of his history. I think he’ll be okay. He just bumped up his shoulder a bit against Western. Didn’t see as much as we’d like to for him to be ready for the Notre Dame game.”

You’re blitzing a lot. Are you concerned that it’s taking the linebackers out of the running game? The middle of field did look pretty open. “Well … honestly it shouldn’t have been. It’s open for a second, and then we’ve got to execute a little better at closing it off. You can get hurt, no question. If they want to take that gamble depending on who they are, depending on down and distance, they can check into a run, and sometimes you want them to. But you got to execute the defense when you want them to.

“Does that make sense? It does to me …”

Do you need to blitz more based on pressure (or lack thereof) from the front four? “I think yes, we have had to be more aggressive. At the same time, you’ve got to look at your match-ups pretty hard, and what you want to do with your guys in the back end, and how you feel about that.”

What was postgame like for you? “I have a lot of family in the Midwest, believe me. We had 35 or 40 people at our house. Nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters, and in-laws -- the whole deal. Everybody found a place on the floor and went to bed, but it was late. 3:30 maybe by the time you say hello and talk to everybody and be as gracious as I can be.”

Other health updates? Anybody definitely out for Saturday? “We’re pretty healthy. We’ve got some nicks and those kind of things, but I’m trying to think if, uh … Cam is gonna see what it feels like tomorrow. He feels better. Brandon Herron felt better but we’ll see what he’s like. I think Fitz is going to be fine. I don’t think we’re in too bad of shape.”

When you were down 17 points, was the offensive play-calling based more on Borges’ offense or 2010-Denard’s offense? “One of the key plays in the game was McColgan’s catch. Coming off the play-action, and we didn’t run a whole lot of play-action with I-backs and all that. A lot of the stuff was just being basic third-down offensive stuff and being in the gun anyway on third downs. It was a good mix, I would say.”

How much of last couple drives was within framework of offense, and how much of it was Denard making rainbows? “The rush lanes kind of went like this. And he did what he’s coached to do. Step up, step up in there, and keep pushing the pocket up when you feel it on the perimeter. It was pretty open. They were spying at times – one of the linebackers – but in that situation, they were playing pretty far off, so it bought time for Gallon. It really bought time for the sail routes, the cross, to take and suck their secondary that way, and Gallon was there by himself.”

Are you still trying to identify playmakers on defense? “I think we still are. Practice is one thing. Game time stuff is a little different. I think who plays with the lights on … we’ll see. It was good to give Will [Campbell] some snaps against good competition. Like I said, they’re a good football team, they’ve got good personnel. Right now the difference for them probably is turnover margin.”

What’s going on with Brandon Herron? “He’s got a little bit of a leg problem.”

Linebacker rotation/competition … how many linebackers are you comfortable with? “I think J.B. [Fitzgerald], all those guys, we feel pretty comfortable. I think it’s who you identify as taking most of the snaps. You work through. Kenny is pretty solid in what he does. J.B. has an opportunity to get in there and rest Kenny a little bit, which is important in the fourth quarter. There will be a rotation, and it really depends some on what package we’re in, if we’re playing out of our base front, or if we’re in our dimes and nickels.”

How would you assess D-line play? Are there things you see in practice that aren’t translating onto the field? “We’re not near to the expectations that we have. I think the kids feel the same way at that position. I think there are things that Ryan Van Bergen has done at times that are really well. I don’t want to get specific, but I think we have to feel those guys. We need to get a little big more pressure with four guys rushing the quarterback, so you don’t put J.T. or Courtney Avery out there on an island. I think we’re a work in progress in a lot of degrees. Some of it is because it’s a little different schematically, and how you attack the line of scrimmage, take on blocks, and get off blocks. We would think we’d be further along.”

Talk about efficiency of red-zone offense (Michigan was 5/5). “I think we’ve got a pretty good package down there, and the kids are executing. I don’t think it’s anything more than that. Certain teams, defensively, always are going to have certain teams they like in the red zone, and I think the kids have been executing what the plan has been.”

(we're bringing back the jump. so ... more after the jump!)

2011 Opponents: Eastern Michigan

2011 Opponents: Eastern Michigan

Submitted by Tim on August 2nd, 2011 at 3:30 PM

This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.

EMULogo.jpg

The Offense

Eastern Michigan Offense 2010
Category Raw Rank
Yards Per Game 333.42 91
Points Per Game 19.00 108
Yards Per Play 5.05 89
Yards Per Pass 6.81 76
Pass Efficiency 116.88 96
Yards Per Rush 4.07 72
Playcall Distribution 1.81 Rush:Pass

Per expectations, Eastern was really bad on offense. Despite being below-average on a yards-per-rush basis, they pounded into the line almost twice as frequently as they passed (adjusted for sacks, they still ran 1.61 times for each pass attempt).

Where they were truly terrible, however, was the passing game. Their yards per pass attempt was slightly boosted by the rarity with which they actually threw it, but the efficiency number was amongst the worst in the nation.

Long story short, Eastern is bad at football (just you wait until we get to the defense).

AlexGillett.jpg

Quarterback

Alex Gillett started every game for Eastern last year, but that's not to say he saw a whole lot of success: his completion percentage, yards per attempt, and interception percentage all range from mediocre to horrible. The one area that he did see success? The running game, where he led the Eagles on the ground.

Last year's backup, Devontae Payne, is no longer with the team, meaning that Gillett's backup will be a guy who has yet to play college football.

Eastern Michigan QBs 2010
Name Comp Att % Yds Yds/Att TD Int
Alex Gillett 127 229 55.46 1633 7.13 13 13
Devontae Payne 22 52 42.31 217 4.17 0 1
Eastern Michigan QBs Rushing 2010
Name Att Yds Yds/Att TD
Alex Gillett 179 766 4.28 5
Devontae Payne 2 -7 -3.50 0

Grade: 2/5. Gillett was bad last year (except on the ground), and now there is nobody else on the roster who has seen any playing time in college football. Gillett's legs are actually pretty impressive - if you remove sacks, he was near 6 yards/carry - so I gave him a slight bump. Still, as a pure passer, he has a long way to go.

Running Back

The primary reason Dwayne Priest didn't lead the Eagles in rushing as a senior was an injury absence of three games. That did, however, give a few returning players a chance to step up. Official White Guy Corey Welch got the most carries, but he was outshined by freshman Javonti Greene on a down-to-down basis. Expect Welch to get some carries, but Greene should be the featured back. Dominique Sherrer and Joe Fleming should also get a few carries, and Sherrer chould even see a large role if he stays healthy. Despite all that, Phil Steele projects true freshman Ryan Brumfield to start, but color me a skeptic on that take.

Eastern Michigan RBs 2010
Name Att Yds Yds/Att TD
Dwayne Priest 168 716 4.26 8
Javonti Greene 50 277 5.54 2
Corey Welch 58 195 3.36 2
Chaz Mitchell 21 61 2.90 0
Dominique Sherrer 20 47 2.35 0
Joe Fleming 1 2 2.00 0
Eastern Michigan RBs Receiving 2009
Name Rec Yds Yds/Rec TD
Corey Welch 8 60 7.50 0
Javonti Greene 9 52 5.78 0
Chaz Mitchell 3 29 9.67 1
Dwayne Priest 4 21 5.25 0
Dominique Sherrer 1 6 6.00 0

Grade: 2/5. There's a bit of potential here, with the general EMU-ness of things dragging down expectations a bit. Javonti Greene has shown that he's ready to perform if given the opportunity, and Sherrer has shown off a bit of speed on kickoff returns. Still, this is a results-based grading service, and the Eagles haven't managed to get it done on the ground yet.

Receivers

Kinsman Thomas was Eastern's most-used wideout last year, but still managed to gain a very-respectable 18 yards per reception. The second-most deployed wideout, Donald Scott, wasn't far behind. Unfortunately for the Eagles, those two combined for fewer than 40 receptions on the year.

With Gillett's favorite target, tight end Ben Thayer, graduating, the wideouts should see an increase in receptions, but will probably a regress to the mean in yards per catch. Garrett Hoskins (whose also-lofty YPC average is boosted by a 73-yard trick play reception) will step into the starting lineup, but it's tough to say whether a second tight end or a new wide receiver will step up to grab the last spot. Expect either Trey Hunter or Kevin Wheeler - who took an injury redshirt last year - to get the nod.

EMU Receivers 2010
Name Rec Yds Yds/Rec TD
Kinsman Thomas 26 473 18.19 4
Ben Thayer (TE) 30 386 12.87 3
Garrett Hoskins (TE) 8 217 27.125 2
Donald Scott 12 199 16.58 2
Tyrone Burke 19 182 9.58 1
Josh LeDuc (TE) 17 155 9.12 1
Trey Hunter 8 100 12.50 0
Kyle DeMaster (TE) 3 19 6.33 0
Terrance Gourdine 1 18 18.00 0
Corey Manns 1 4 4.00 0
EMU WRs Rushing 2009
Name Att Yds Yds/Att TD
Ben Thayer (TE) 1 32 32.00 0
Donald Scott 4 10 2.50 0
Tyrone Burke 1 1 1.00 0

Grade: 2/5. The Eastern receiving corps has actually proven to be explosive, despite (or in part due to) their lack of opportunities. With three of the top 6 gone, however, those who remain are going to have to step up and maintain their past performance while getting more attention from the defense. I'll believe that can happen when I see it.

Offensive Line

Eastern returns three starters (at least part-time) from last year, but there will be some position shuffling going into this fall. Andrew Sorgatz, who has started at left guard for the past two years, switched to center this spring, and redshirt freshman Campbell Allison is expected to take over his old spot. Bridger Buche has started two years at tackle, and will likely reprise his role from last year. Redshirt junior Korey Neal was a part-time starter at right tackle last year, and is expected to start once more (replacing longtime starter Dan Demaster). There are a few options for right guard, with Josh Woods and Orlando McCord strong options.

Grade: 1/5. Though the Eagles didn't give up a lot of sacks last year, a big reason for that is their heavy, heavy slant toward the run over the pass. Seeing as how they were unable to move the ball on the ground despite that emphasis, I'd say this unit was very weak. Losing two starters isn't going to help much, and I think they'll have to pass more (meaning more sacks) and not see much improvement in the ground game.

The Defense

halolEnglish.jpg

Notre Dame Defense 2009
Category Raw Rank
Yards Per Game 454.08 113
Points Per Game 43.92 118
Yards Per Play 7.26 120
Pass Yards Per Game 223.50 66
Pass Efficiency 173.49 119
Yards Per Pass 9.00 118
Sacks Per Game 0.83 118
Rush Yards Per Game 230.58 118
Yards Per Rush 6.11 120

Ladies and gentlemen, defensive guru Ron English!

The only thing Eastern wasn't absolutely terrible at was... having other teams feel bad for them, I guess. They faced the third-fewest defensive plays in the nation (the country's best defense, TCU, saw the fewest, with Minnesota right on their heels), but each of those defensive plays was practically a guaranteed success for the opposing offense.

The pass yards per game look alright... until you realize that teams simply didn't have to pass the ball, because they could get more than six yards every time they handed it off. All told, Eastern was in the bottom three of every metric that matters.

Terrible, horrible defensive team as they have been every year under Ron English, and every year before that.

Defensive Line

As you might expect, the defensive line didn't exactly cover themselves in glory last year. At least three starters return alongin addition to a key backup. A pair of seniors "anchor" the middle in Brandon Slater and Jabar Westerman, with their classmate Javon Reese returning on one side. Junior Andy Mulumba will like come off the edge on the other end of the line, with Devon Davis and Brad Ohrman also in the defensive end rotation.

Undersized Kalonji Kashama (whose name you may recognize - he's the younger brother of former Wolverine Alain) can play either inside or outside, but since EMU needs more help on the interior, will probably do most of his damage there. Phil Steele is also high on incoming JuCo Devin Henderson, also an inside/outside guy.

EMU Defensive Line 2010
Name Tack TFL Sack
Brandon Slater 27 2.5 0
Javon Reese 25 4.5 3.5
Jabar Westerman 22 3 1.5
Ryan Leonard 18 3.5 2
Andy Mulumba 17 2 0
Devon Davis 14 1 0
Kalonji Kashama 14 3 2
Brad Ohrman 13 1 0
Jasper Grimes 5 0.5 0

Grade: 2/5. Nobody had more than 30 tackles for the Eagles last year (for comparison, Notre Dame's scheme - which only plays 3 linemen and doesn't expect them to make plays - had 4 guys over 30 tackles, and one over 60), and just about everyone struggled to get penetration. With another year of experience - and not that many key contributors from last year's roster departing - they should improve a bit, but to expect their progression to get anywhere better than "bad" is wishful thinking.

Linebacker

When your team was horrible at defending both the run and the pass last year and you lose your top two tacklers, both of whom were linebacker, you're in serious trouble. Marcus English, a multi-year contributor, seems like the only sure starter. So of course, Phil Steele predicts he'll be displaced by incoming JuCo Sean Kurtz. I think it's more likely that those two will combine at inside and strongside linebacker on the starting unit, leaving the weakside position to Steve Brown. Phil Steele also projects starting spots for a pair of JuCos (meaning his starting linebacker unit for Eastern is composed of 3 junior college players and no returners) Justin Cudworth and Blake Poole. If none of the JuCos can earn starting spots, it'll probably be Matt Boyd on the strongside as well.

EMU Linebackers 2010
Name Tack TFL Sack Int
Neal Howey 95 7 0 0
Tim Fort 68 4 0 0
Marcus English 37 3.5 0 0
Steve Brown 31 10.5 1 0
Matt Boyd 31 1.5 0 0
Darius Moffett 17 0 0 0
Colin Weingrad 10 5 0 1
Herb Watts 9 0 0 0
Nate Paopao 5 0 0 0
Garrett Gronowski 1 0 0 0

Grade: 1/5. Jeeeeeeeesus this has a great chance to be a terrible defense, unless Ron English is some miracle-worker who has been sandbagging for the past two years. The returning ilnebackers bring very little to the table, as the two best players are out the door (without so much as a sniff from the NFL). Barring unprecedented individual improvement, or the junior college players stepping in as uber-sleepers, this unit should not expect much success.

Defensive Backs

Like linebacker, a bad unit lost a couple of its best players. Corner Marcell Rose and safety Martavius Cardwell both return, but the Eagles will have to replace the other two members of their secondary. Willie Williams, a strong safety/LB type, is expected to start at SS, and UCLA transfer Marlon Pollard will probably lock down the other corner spot. There's experience mixed in among the backups, much moreso than at any other position, especially since a number of JuCo players will be added to the mix.

EMU Defensive Backs 2010
Name Tack TFL Int
Ryan Downard 60 2 0
Marcell Rose (CB) 56 1 1
Arrington Hicks 46 1 0
Martavius Cardwell (FS) 46 4 0
Willie Williams (SS) 35 4 0
Alex Bellfy 23 0.5 0
Kelip Goodwin 22 0 0
Latarrius Thomas 18 0.5 0
Ja'Ron Gillespie 6 0 0
Brandon Pratt 6 0 0
Antwan Reed 2 0 0
Nate Wilson 1 1 0

Grade: 1/5. Eastern Michigan's pass defense, despite losses, has to be better than last year's, if only because there's nowhere to go but up (the whole team had 2 picks last year!). Adding a player who was good enough to sign with UCLA out of high school should be a boost to a team starved for talent, but there's a long way to go to reach "bad," much less "mediocre."

Special Teams

Both EMU specialists from last year return. Jay Karutz will handle the punting (rugby-style, yo), and Sean Graham will reprise his role as the Eagles' field goal kicker.

Eastern Michigan Kicking 2010
Name FGM FGA % Long XPM XPA %
Sean Graham 5 8 62.50 42 23 25 92.00
Kody Fulkerson 0 1 0.00 - 4 4 100
EMU Punting 2010
Name Att Yds Yds/Att
Jay Karutz 68 2632 38.70

Grade: 3/5. Neither Eastern Michigan specialist was particularly good last year, but at the same time, neither was a serious liability (and that's a big deal for a team where seemingly everyone else was a liability). With a year of game experience under each of their belts, it's reasonable to expect a bit of improvement.

Upon Further Review: Offense vs Eastern Michigan

Upon Further Review: Offense vs Eastern Michigan

Submitted by Brian on September 24th, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Formation notes: I usually don't try to determine what personnel the opponent has on the field because it's nearly impossible and the TV announcer men never tell you. So EMU may have just run the same sets of folks out there the whole game, I don't know. I do know that I dubbed this the "nickel" look:

emu-nickel

The guy over the slot receiver there is in man. This would normally leave only six in the box but EMU would walk a safety up, as you can see. The "base 4-3" is basically this with the linebackers slid over and EMU in a two-deep shell. Why would Ron English do this against a high powered spread run offense? I don't know. Ask Armanti Edwards YES I'M STILL A LITTLE BITTER.

Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M49 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Brown 30
This basically never happened last year no matter how much Michigan tried: this is an outside zone that gets outside the tackle. When that happens it's nice play by the tackle in question, so +1 for Huyge. Also excellent work by Molk(+1) to seal the playside DT—reach block—and Koger(+1) to crush the OLB to the playside. Brown has huge space, darts into the secondary, and is on his way to six points when a diving safety manages to trip him up from behind.
O21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Odoms Inc
With EMU not directly over the slots this is open, though there's a chance a crappy block by the outside WR ends this play near the LOS. We never find out, though, as Forcier throws it way high. (IN, 0, screen)
O21 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 0 2 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Brown 4
Ortmann(-1) fails to cut the backside DT and the playside guy is slanting really hard; Molk eventually does get a seal but it's too late for there to be a crease. The hard slant opened up a cutback lane and Schilling(+1) cut the MLB to ribbons, so Brown's got a lane he takes. The backside DT tackles from behind.
O17 3 6 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Forcier -3
Eastern waiting for it, blitzing right into it. Forcier can't make the blitzer miss and loses three. Their rock, our scissors.
Drive Notes: FG(37), 3-0, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read inside Brown 6
Maybe? This could just be a quick read; I'm not great at differentiating inside and outside zone plays. Anyway, the backside DT gets playside of Ortmann but it doesn't matter much because EMU is not running a scrape exchange and the DE, pulled upfield, leaves a big cutback lane for Brown. He takes it, slashing upfield and into a couple of linebackers for a good gain. Help here from experts and laity requested.
M46 2 4 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Grady(19) 3
Hard-charging EMU corner forces Grady to cut it up inside of Webb, who does a good job blocking the guy. Grady's got a choice between slamming it upfield for a first down and not much more or trying to pop it outside for lots. He picks the latter and gets taken down; mistake on his part. (CA, 3, screen)
M49 3 1 I-Form covered twins 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Off tackle (Down G) Brown 14
Oooh, look, a pulling guard. This is our version of that EMU play, I believe. EMU's playing this pretty soft, with both safeties relatively far back and the linebackers off the LOS. They are trying to slant inside and Michigan catches them with an off tackle play. Huyge(+2) gets an excellent downfield block and Webb(+1) seals away the slanting DL, leaving Grady and Schilling on the edge against one EMU player; Grady(+1) takes him out. Brown makes a quick cut upfield into lots of space. Huyge's block is really excellent.
O37 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Minor 13
Michigan again gets outside the tackle, so give Ortmann +1 and another +1 for Molk, who sealed his guy on a reach. Second level blocks from Schilling and Ferrara are good; Huyge manages to push his guy past Minor as the trio comes together a few yards downfield and Minor runs through the traffic for another first down. First time I've seen Michigan get outside the tackles consistently in the RR era.
O24 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read inside Minor 5
Virtual replay of the earlier Brown run where EMU slants hard to the playside, leaving a cutback lane because they're not scraping.
O19 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read inside Minor 3
Here Molk(-1) gets blown back into the backfield as the playside DT gets an outstanding jump. Minor's forced to cut up way inside of where he wants to go, and the timing of the play is blown up. Only reason this isn't a bigger loss is that Michigan down-blocked with Ferrara and pulled Huyge around him to get to the second level, so there was no pursuing backside DT this time. Shows some faith in Huyge to expect him to be agile enough to make this block.
O16 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Grady(19) 11
Zone read fake with Schilling pulling out to provide some pass protection on Forcier's rollout. He delays the backside DE, giving Forcier time to zip an accurate bullet to Grady for eight or so plus a little YAC. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O5 1 G Shotgun 2-back 0 2 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Brown -4
On Forcier, I think, as the EMU DE sells out on the stretch, as does the rest of the defense. A keeper has Forcier 1-on-1 with a linebacker and is either a touchdown or close to it. EMI has thrown eight guys at this and it's pretty well blown up; if I had to finger one blocker I think it's Ferrara(-1), who got blown back and allowed the backside pursuit to be relevant when Brown tried to cut back
O9 2 G Ace 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Brown 9
Michigan might have gotten away with one as Huyge moves what looks like a fraction early. He downblocks the DT, blowing him off the ball (head start probably helped); the unblocked DE gets confused by a Grady end-around fake, opening up a lane for Brown that he runs straight up into, getting chopped down just as he crosses the goal line.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-3, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 0 2 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA Corner Odoms 26
Michigan's trying to take advantage of the EMU linebacker on Odoms and running routes on him as he's in man coverage. This coverage is actually pretty good but Forcier lays it in there and Odoms makes a tough catch along the sideline. Excellent execution except maybe on the route. Odoms should be more open than this. (DO, 2, protection 1/1)
O43 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 2
EMU shows cover one, so there are seven in the box. Forcier reads the crashing DE and pulls it and Huyge's out to block the WLB. Forcier doesn't read that aspect of the play and takes it too far outside. Slicing upfield immediately would have gotten him into the secondary one-on-one with a single safety; instead his outside angle allows the WLB to come around Huyge and tackle for little gain.
O41 2 8 ??? ? ? ? ? Pass Hitch? Hemingway 7
Miss this entire play for a replay of the last one. Here's a guess from memory: (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O34 3 1 Ace 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Shaw 22
Poor job by Ferrara(-1) of sealing his guy to the outside; he just gets beat, which means the hole Schilling(+1) blew open by crushing the other DT is not open. Shaw(+2) cuts back into an unblocked safety, then makes him look stupid. Damn that kid is fast. Steps out, barely, or this is a touchdown.
O12 1 10 Ace 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 7
Extremely aggressive by EMU, with nine guys in the box. A similar result to the last play except with all the guys jamming the LOS the lack of creases is understandable. Shaw again goes backside, picking up good blocks from Ortmann and one of the TEs—can't make out who—before the ninth guy, unblocked on the backside, tracks him down from behind.
O5 2 3 I-Form covered twins 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Down G Shaw 5
Same play as the earlier I-form, with Schilling pulling around as everyone else blocks down. EMU SLB must be in man on Koger or something because he runs himself a couple steps inside when Koger blocks down, which just about takes him out of the play. Koger and Huyge crush the playside DE; Grady(+1) blasts the SLB, taking another linebacker out with him, and Schilling picks off a filling safety; Shaw into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-10, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone counter dive Brown 90
You know this play, as it's been discussed in Picture Pages. Michigan runs it again, with Webb(+1) kicking out the DE, Schilling(+1) pancaking the DT, Ortmann and Molk(+1 each) getting solid second-level blocks on the EMU LBs. One EMU safety is charging to the line on a scrape exchange with the DE and the other one heads outside a bit in anticipation of a stretch. Maybe the latter guy recovers against Brandon Minor, but not against Brown. Woop. Gone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-10, 7 min 2nd Q. OH NOES THE TIME OF POSSESSION. Robinson gets the next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Throwback screen Mathews Inc
Great playcall that drags nine EMU defenders to Robinson's side and is one Schilling block on a safety from being six points. Robinson's throw is way outside and high though; instead of leading Mathews back inside where the corner can get walled off by Ortmann he throws a pass that's too high to catch and too outside for the corner to get blocked. (IN, 1, screen)
M13 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB draw Robinson 11
EMU has adjusted and is now dedicating a player to the slot receiver and walking up a safety. Robinson reaction? Also why the hell couldn't English figure this out against Armanti Edwards? One thing English hasn't figured out: aggression. All three LBs sit back and wait for the play to come to them; easy double for Schilling and Molk gets the playside DT out of the picture and Shaw(+1) pops the MLB, springing Robinson into the secondary. Robinson impressively drives for an extra three or so yards. BONUS: WMU replay sees color guy compliment Robinson for—no foolies—having the “headiness to pick the ball up.”
M24 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Shaw -1
Mplk(-1) driven back by the DT and Ortmann(-1) also gives ground, forcing Shaw to cut it up into a linebacker who Schilling can't block because the players in the backfield have robbed him of his angle.
M23 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Rollout corner Odoms Inc
Man coverage on the receivers; Odoms gives a good shimmy to the inside, getting the corner to turn his hips and breaking himself open outside. Robinson lays it in excellently; Odoms bobbles it and on replay the play comes back. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1) Ugh. On replay, this is a dodgy overturn. It looks like Odoms secures the ball and still has a foot down. CONSPIRACY
M23 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Post Odoms Int
Live I thought this was a horrible decision; it's not. Odoms is two steps inside the defender and a step past him with no deep safety. If this ball is on the money it's a touchdown, but it's way short, undercut, and intercepted. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 24-10, 4 min 2nd Q. Well... if you want to look at the bright side, if Robinson ever completes a pass it'll go for huge yardage because the defense is freaking out about him.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass PA TE flat -- -9
Ends in a sack as EMU is shooting a safety towards the line of scrimmage to cover the TE (was he the contain on a scrape?) and he's covered despite the man coverage that would normally see him burst open. Playside LB is charging hard, forcing Forcier to hold up and attempt to reverse field. He's surrounded and sacked. Interesting note: Brown was wide open on a wheel finishing his route here. Wonder if we see that added where Forcier pulls up on the rollout and hits that on a throwback. Forcier(-2) fumbles, BTW. (TA, 0, protection N/A)
M22 2 19 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone counter dive Brown 14
Same play as the touchdown; this one is a great example of the scrape backer running himself out of the play and giving the tailback huge room. Safety takes a better angle this time and prevents another touchdown.
M36 3 5 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Hitch Webb 4
Either Webb's got to run this past the sticks or Forcier has to look at the guy on a hitch right next to him who's open for two more yards and a first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-17, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Slant Stonum 10
Our zone-read-bubble-fake-to-slant play, which gets Stonum open for a nice gain. Good timing, good catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M35 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 0 2 3 Nickel Run Zone counter dive Brown 7
This is a modified form of the dive play that Brown took for 90 earlier with Grady(+1) functioning as the H-back and an end-around threat from Grady(er...) supposed to hold any potential scraper outside. This is M beating the EMU coaches, as the playside EMU DT is slanting away from the hole and gets blasted downfield by Schilling(+1). Good downfield blocks from Molk and Ortmann help; good safety fill holds this down somewhat.
M42 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Brown 3
Seven guys in the box and a blitzing corner—aggressive run D—to the stretch side. Molk(+1) manages to get his reach block on the playside DT; Brown has a hole to shoot up into but I think he's trying to take it outside the tackle, which has been closed off by the CB blitz, and he's a little late hitting it, allowing the crashing DE to tackle from behind. Momentum takes them forward and to the first down.
M45 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Tunnel screen Mathews Inc
Excellent play by the DE to the playside to avoid a cut from Huyge(-1) and leap in the passing lane, forcing Forcier to throw it high and uncatchable. Poor downfield block from Koger would have seen this blown up anyway. I'm filing this as a TA since it could have gone a lot worse and I'm giving Forcier the benefit of the doubt. (TA, 0, protection 0/1, Huyge)
M45 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Fly Stonum Inc
Great protection; Forcier loads up and tosses it to Stonum, who does have a step on his guy. Forcier leaves it short. I'm grabbing this just so people can maybe talk about Stonum's adjustment to this. I think it's poor. He misjudges the ball and doesn't slow up enough and turn, which would probably have led to the DB running him over and a PI call. Mike Floyd catches this, right? (MA, 1, protection 3/3)
M45 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Sack --
EMU gets a delayed, looping blitz and drops into an effective zone on the short side, where Forcier's first read is. Neither the slant nor the wheel is open, so Forcier hesitates, at which point the blitzer is on him. Time to take the sack, and he does. (TA, 0, protection 1/3, team -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-17, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 0 2 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Shaw -1
Molk(-1) gets blown back and into the running lane, forcing a cutback into the crashing DE and no gain. Bubble was open, FWIW.
M46 2 11 Shotgun 2-back 0 2 3 Nickel Run Zone read keeper Forcier 3
Forcier pulls it out and runs into the scraping WLB near the LOS. He heads outside and manages to pick up a few.
M49 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Seam Webb Inc
Weird camera angle so I can't tell you much. Webb gets hit between the numbers, though, for easy first down yardage, and drops it. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-17, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Twins 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Brown 4
This is something different, with Michigan shooting the FB backside but apparently intending this to go more up the center, possibly into the A gap between C and G on the strongside. Schilling and Ortmann are doubling the backside DT but can get him to the ground and he dives over Schilling to tackle Brown; Brown could have taken this outside, maybe, but wasn't expecting the DT.
M44 2 6 Shotgun 2-back Twins 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Brown 3
Koger pushed too far back to take it outside; Molk gets a seal and Huyge/Ferrara scoop the playside DE; so Brown's got a crease. Lot of guys in a small area, though, and Huyge(-1) actually gets blown back on his attempt to block a LB downfield, so not much room.
M47 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Scramble Forcier 20
Excellent protection gives Forcier some time and then a lane to step up into when he can't find anyone open downfield. With EMU in man Forcier recognizes the tons of space and just takes off. (TA, NA, protection 2/2)
O33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Odoms 7
Been wondering why they haven't gone to this a little more when EMU shows it's open. Here they do and Forcier takes the simple play. (CA, 3, screen) Good block from Stonum.
O26 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone counter dive Shaw 18
Man, we're just gashing people on this all the time. Wonder how it will hold up during Big Ten play. Pretty much the same thing: TE pulls and blows out the crashing DE, line downblocks, and the scrape backer pulls himself out of position. Shaw zips into the secondary and puts a sick, sick move on the safety that doesn't result in a touchdown because the safety reaches out and manages to get a desperate handful of jersey. Robbed of a TD. I like that Shaw tries to juke these guys; seems like Brown and Minor just run into 'em.
O8 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Shaw 0
Ortmann(-1) lets his guy way upfield and forces a cutback; Huyge couldn't do anything to impede the backside DT and he and the backside DT converge to tackle.
O8 2 G I-Form 3-wide 2 0 3 Nickel Penalty False start Schilling Pen -5
Multiple guys move, actually.
O13 2 G Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel Run Reverse Odoms 13
Odoms comes across the formation as M shows a speed option look. He gets the pitch. Backside guys are the DE, who is crashing and just gone, the WLB, who Savoy(+1) crushes, and two members of the secondary that Ortmann and Grady take care of. Odoms sets up his blocks well and cruises into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-17, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass PA rollout -- Inc
Zone read fake an a rollout on which Forcier is contained and needs to get rid of the ball. He's got a little out for at least four and maybe more if Grady(19) can beat the guy in man on him, but instead of throwing it he starts running around, eventually getting crushed as he attempts to throw it way. Filing this as a mild bad read. (BR, 0, protection NA)
O21 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone counter dive Brown 8
Robinson in. Ferrara(+1) blasts the DT down the line, Webb(+1) again pops the crashing DL, and the linebackers 1) follow Webb in man, 2) attempt to scrape on Robinson, and 3) shuffle anticipating a stretch. Brown into the secondary; quick safety fill.
O13 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 13
Not sure if this is improvisation or misdirection as Brown shoots up towards the right side of the line, which draws some linebackers from that side but the hole opens up on the left; Robinson sees it and jets, moving too fast to be seen or caught. Good blocks from Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) to open the crease.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-17, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M5 1 10 Ace twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Shaw 5
Good read from Shaw as the backside DT slants too heavily and the DE to that side is sealed away; he hits it up. He should probably try to go between the linebackers, who both have blockers on them, but heads outside and is chopped down by CB pursuit.
M10 2 5 Ace 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Shaw -2
Nowhere to go as both Schilling(-1) and Ferrara get banged back and Koger(-1) slips. Shaw runs into Schilling's back and goes down.
M12 3 7 Shotgun 2-back 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Pass Fly Mathews
Safe either get the first down or punt stuff. Borderline interference, way way worse than the Cissoko one, but not called. (CA, 0, protection 2/2). Actually, yeah, this is totally interference as the CB is riding Mathews to the sideline.
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-17, 8 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O46 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 10
DL again slants into the backfield, leaving Smith nowhere to go. Smith should get crushed by the backside DE but zips around him and to the outside where Robinson gets a block on an OLB and springs Smith for a good gain.
O36 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 36
Weeeee. Double on the NT drives him back and blitzing linebackers attempt to fill both holes; Smith(+1) gets a pad-popping block on one and Robinson shoots into the secondary, where he is not caught because obviously.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 47-17, 7 min 4th Q. All backups for the rest of the game so charting stops here. Robinson's bomb is filed IN 0 and is at Roundtree. Here's Cox's run, though.

We kind of sucked, couldn't complete a forward pass, and still put up 45 points on an opponent. Woo spread 'n' shred?

Woo spread 'n' shred. The last time Michigan rushed for that many yards was the 2003 Houston game that preceded the 38-0 shellacking of Ty Willingham and ND that saw the student section chant "Houston's better" at the Irish, which latter point I bring up for no reason whatsoever. Remember this?

Before the Ohio State game I mentioned a remarkable statistic: in this year of safeties living in the box and injuries and a makeshift offensive line and just all-around disaster on offense, Michigan actually had a higher yards per carry than they did the year before.

!!!

It was close, though, and Ohio State stomped that. Michigan finished the year averaging 3.91 YPC. 2007 beat that out by six hundredths of a yard. Okay, that's still pretty remarkable. Here's a pop quiz: where does that YPC rank over the past eight years?

# Year YPC
1 2006 4.27
2 2003 4.25
3 2007 3.97
4 2008 3.91
5 2005 3.89
6 2004 3.83
7 2002 3.82
8 2001 3.59

Fourth! Above average!

Through three games, Michigan is obliterating every mark on that list by more than a full two yards. They're currently cranking out 6.39 YPC. Yes, two of those games were against MAC opponents and the third was against the nation's #74 rush defense, one that would rank considerably worse if they were going by YPC, etc etc etc. And yes that number is going to come down precipitously as Michigan churns through Big Ten play.

But the question here isn't "will this be Michigan's best rushing offense of the decade?" It's "by how much will this be Michigan's best rushing offense of the decade?" Here's another handy—

Chart?

—chart I put together for Hail To the Victors 2008 comparing the rushing offenses of West Virginia, Northwestern, and Michigan over the same timespan:

Year West Virginia Northwestern Michigan
YPC Nat'l Rank YPC Nat'l Rank YPC Nat'l Rank
2001 4.19 36th 4.1 45th 3.59 78th
2002 5.16 8th 4.31 39th 3.82 66th
2003 4.6 19th 4.65 18th 4.25 44th
2004 5.14 9th 4.64 26th 3.83 68th
2005 5.23 11th 5.03 14th 3.89 57th
2006 6.68 1st 4.04 52nd 4.27 42nd
2007 6.15 1st 3.61 85th 3.97 61st

Northwestern ran the exact same offense Rodriguez did and crushed Michigan in YPC every year until Randy Walker's untimely death and Northwestern's ensuing descent into disarray. Four of Northwestern's seven marks on this list would be Michigan's best rushing year in the 21st century, and they never had the luxury of playing their own generally-horrible defense. Leap. This is it. The leap.

Okay, woo spread 'n' shred is stipulated. But how, exactly, is Michigan doing this?

I've beaten one aspect into the ground over the first month of the season: Michigan has devised a  suite of highly effective counters to the scrape exchange that exploit the opponent's over-reaction to the frontside and backside of the play to gash defenses not quite right up the middle but slightly to the left or right of the middle.

The other bits are an extension of what was happening at the tail end of last year, when Michigan's run game went from abysmal against Not Notre Dame to above average. The line learned their assignments better and stopped being such a sieve. Brandon Minor RAGED his way into the starting lineup and blasted through tackles instead of meekly submitting to them. The quarterbacks… uh… were the quarterbacks. So this year you've got a pair of senior tailbacks and and improved, non-gimpy version of Mike Shaw. You've got a line of veterans, though Molk's injury will provide some drag over the next 4-6 weeks. And you've got a pair of quarterbacks who either add to the YPC themselves (Robinson) or force opposing defenses to stop selling out against the run (Forcier). A reminder: over the second half of last year Michigan's rushing offense was about 30th nationally. The leap up to third is a fluke of scheduling and fortune, but once it settles down in the 10-20 range it's likely to stay there.

Surely you have more charts?

Charts, but they're not very useful since all the offensive charts focus on the passing game.

(Hennechart again; MA is "marginal", screen results are in parens.)

TATE FORCIER

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR
Western Michigan 2 14 1 2 1 2 - 3
Notre Dame 5 20 (6) 2 4 3 3 - 4
Eastern Michigan 1 8 (2) 1 1 (1) 1 4 (1) - -

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR
Western Michigan - 1 1 1 2 - - -
Eastern Michigan - 1 1 (1) 2 (1) - - - -

Forcier was just 7 of 13 for 68 yards but his chart isn't too bad. Our Downfield Success Rate is 7 / 11 = 64%, which is about on par with what he's been doing so far, and one of those TAs (throwaways) was actually a 20-yard scramble. Forcier did zing a screen high, though.

Robinson… well. I don't actually think he made any bad decisions, he just made bad throws. On both of his interceptions he had guys running open downfield and left the ball way, way short. And he did mess up a tunnel screen throw that would have been vast yardage if he'd gotten it right. And the did lay a pretty pass in to Martavious Odoms only to see Odoms juggle it and (eventually) drop it. But I am searching for a bunch of excuses for an 0/4 2 INT day.

Receiverchart:

This Game Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - - - - - - 4/4
Mathews 2 0/1 - 1/1 4 1/4 1/1 6/6
Stonum - 0/1 - 1/1 1 0//1 1/2 4/4
Savoy - - - - 1 - 0/1 2/2
Odoms 2 - 1/1 1/2 3 1/1 1/1 5/6
Grady-19 - - - 2/2 2 - 1/1 5/6
Roundtree 1 - - - 1 - - -
Rogers - - - - - - - -
Koger - - - - - 1/1 1/1 5/5
Webb - - - 1/2 1 - - 1/2
Minor - - - - - - - -
Brown - - - - - 1/2 1/1 3/3
Shaw - - - - - - 0/1 -
Smith - - - - - - - -
Moundros - - - - - - - -

This was a less than great day from the receivers, as in limited opportunities two balls got filed as straight drops: the corner route to Odoms that was overturned on review (I still think he actually caught it but it's really close and result-based charting) and the seam to Webb that hit him between the numbers.

Also, let's talk about Darryl Stonum, deep threat. I mentioned this in the play minutiae most of you don't read so let me replicate it here:

Okay, Forcier left this short and Stonum had a step or step and a half on a guy that can't press him. But from above:

I'm grabbing this just so people can maybe talk about Stonum's adjustment to this. I think it's poor. He misjudges the ball and doesn't slow up enough and turn, which would probably have led to the DB running him over and a PI call. Mike Floyd [or Braylon Edwards] catches this, right?

Even if there's no catch, Stonum should at least give himself an opportunity to get both hands on it. And then there's this from the Notre Dame game:

Stonum is running a fly down the sideline with a guy sort of in tow and plenty of room to the sideline and Forcier gets it to him. Stonum turns inside and ends up doing a 360 on a ball that was perfectly placed to the outside. He turns a very catchable ball into a circus attempt. It was open.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a clip of this; it was worse than the above. Stonum's got speed to burn and a great frame, so what's preventing him from being Michael Floyd is the stuff you see above. Floyd is huge, great at adjusting to a ball in flight, and brilliant at using his body as an asset. Same with Braylon Edwards. Mario Manningham was probably the best I'd ever seen at it; he was as good as those guys without having their height. Stonum doesn't have it, at least not yet. I don't know if that's talent or coaching or a combination of both. Junior Hemingway seems pretty good at it. Could just be a thing you've got or you don't. If Steve Breaston had it he would have won the Heisman.

Anyway, that's why I think Stonum is behind where you'd expect he'd be given his recruiting profile.

Offensive line whatnot?

The most useless protection metric ever:

PROTECTION METRIC: 17/20, Huyge –1, Team –2.

Nothing to see here.

Heroes?

Pick a tailback, any tailback, and an offensive lineman, any offensive lineman.

Goats?

Well, you know… made of dilithium and all but Denard Robinson did throw two interceptions.

What does it mean for Indiana and the future?

The Hoosier's run defense is currently #15 nationally but it's hard to tell how legit that is when the opening opponents are Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, and Akron. Given that we're talking about Indiana, the answer is probably "not particularly legit." Michigan wants to continue the pounding ground game against the Hoosiers without showing more of their hand, and you'd imagine they'll be able to. Not to the tune of 10 YPC or even the 7.6 Michigan got outside of the third-longest run in Michigan history, but 5-6-7 in a game where Michigan hopes to spend the second half running out the clock would be fine.

We did get further indication that Denard Robinson is not a suitable replacement for Tate Forcier at the moment, though I figure at this point he's got to be above Sheridan just because I've seen him move.

John Ferrara did pretty well in his first start of the year, though it was against weak competition. The dropoff from the starting line to the Molk-free line might not be too severe. (Though I am pumped to hear Rodriguez describe Molk as not only one of the team's best linemen but "one of the team's best players" when discussing his injury. I lived in moderate fear that the insider reports about Khoury pushing Molk were anywhere near accurate, which would have been a black eye given the David Molk Hype Machine that lives in my keyboard. Then I am not pumped because Molk is out for a month.)

Farther down the road, Michigan looks in excellent shape next year at tailback, where all three backups performed well. Shaw was especially impressive; you could tell that all the stuff about being slowed by a sports hernia was no BS. Guy looked Brown fast. Maybe even faster. Smith and Cox had impressive runs as well, and Fitzgerald Toussaint's highlight tape from high school is a 0.8 McGuffie.

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Eastern Michigan

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Eastern Michigan

Submitted by Brian on September 23rd, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Personnel notes: Michigan didn't change much at all from the Notre Dame game. Leach played basically the whole game for Mouton. Kovacs again got the fourth quarter when Mike Williams tweaked his ankle. Substitution on the DL continued as before. The only difference is that JB Fitzgerald did get in some as a replacement for Leach or Ezeh.

Michigan did debut a couple of new looks in this game, as described by Steve Sharik earlier this week. One was a pure 3-3-5 look that could have come right out of the West Virginia salad days; the deathbacker played as a MLB. The other was an aggressive eight-man front run defense Sharik calls "split" that M ran against a lot of their ace sets. I noted the 3-3-5 stack somewhat but not the split, which looked like an under to me. I'll work on it for next week. If Robinson stops adding packages I'll eventually be able to ID them consistently.

BTW: This completes Michigan's collection of fronts: They've run even and under 4-3 fronts, a 3-4, and the 3-3-5. Robinson was not kidding about "multiple fronts." The under is still the base, though.

Steve also talked about the "Down G" play that EMU ran a lot. The basic principle here is much like the basic principle was against Michigan State's power ground game the past two years: you are an unblocked DE; there is a guard pulling around who wants to kick you out and open up a crease inside you. You have to get into the guard and make the tailback bounce it outside, where a linebacker will pursue and clean up.

BONUS! In my never-ending quest to make UFR more complicated every year I've added a third defensive metric: tackling. Missed tackles get minuses, as do routine tackles on which the ballcarrier picks up YAC. Open field tackles, tough tackles, and tackles where the guy goes down right where he's hit get pluses. It's very experimental.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace trips 4-3 under Run Zone stretch right Van Bergen 9
Michigan in a two-deep shell and in man over the WRs so this is six blockers on six defenders even without the QB counting. RVB(-1) gets doubled momentarily and falls to the ground, opening up a lane, and Ezeh(-1) is tentative, which gives the OL sliding to the second level an angle; Ezeh attempts to go around him and takes himself out of the play. RB jets to the second level. Good open field tackle(+1) from Williams(+0.5).
O29 2 1 Ace Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch right Williams 0
Eight-man front from M with press man free on the outside. Williams(+1) times a blitz well and shoots into the playside OT before he can peel off Martin, knocking the OL back and erasing any potential lanes. On the bounce, Graham(+0.5) cleans up.
O29 3 1 Ace 4-3 under Run Zone stretch left Martin 2
Martin(+0.5), slanting, slips past a momentary block from the center and avoids getting scooped, which along with a quick reaction from Ezeh forces a cutback. RVB is flowing down the line behind Martin & Co and makes a good tackle(+1), but momentum carries the back forward for the first.
O31 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Fly Graham Inc
Williams rolled up and press man on the outside again; EMU attempts to test it. M blitzes Williams, drawing the OT, and a RB has to attempt to cut Graham(+0.5, pressure +1), who dives over the cut and gets into Schmitt a bit, causing him to shorten his follow-through. Receiver has a step on Cissoko (-1, cover -1) and room to the sideline, but it's overthrown.
O31 2 10 Ace Twin TE 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Martin -3
Tackle blocks down on RVB(-1), blowing him out immediately, and the guard to that side pulls around as EMU tries to attack the gap between RVB and Roh. No dice though as Martin(+2) shoots into the intended hole, forcing a bounce into Roh(+1), who's held up well and drives his man back. The bounce takes a circuitous route, allowing Brown(+0.5) to read everything and come up to make a solid, no-YAC tackle(+1).
O28 3 13 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5-ish Pass Screen -- Inc
Graham(+1, pressure +1) comes around the corner too fast for this screen to develop properly and forces Schmitt to throw it inaccurately. Looked like Brown and Leach had this well sniffed out. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q. This drive is actually pretty solid, with one bad play followed by five good ones that saw Michigan defeat Eastern instead of Eastern defeat itself.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run Zone stretch right Van Bergen -3
Eight man front. Michigan slanting into the play here, which gets Van Bergen(+1) and Martin(+1) deep into the backfield directly in the RB's intended path. Surrounded, he's got no choice but to end up in RVB's arms. (Tackling +1) Martin twists an ankle and is replaced by Sagesse.
O22 2 13 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Hitch Ezeh 10
Six yard hitch Ezeh(-1) is about four yards off of when it's thrown, allowing the TE to turn it upfield and pick up four more. (Cover -1)
O32 3 3 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Slant Ezeh 2
Ezeh(+1) reads Schmitt's eyes and immediately takes off for the slant, arriving in time to tackle(+1) short of the sticks. (Cover +1) Very decisive here.
O34 4 1 Ace 4-3 under Run Dive Sagesse 22
Michigan still getting into alignment as the ball is snapped, which seems like poor planning since the snap comes with two seconds on the clock. Eight man front with press man and big spreads between the DL; Michigan is coming after it. Sagesse(-1) steps inside and gets sealed. This cedes a big crease with help from similarly creased Brown(-1). No linebacker help since everyone's selling out on fourth and one, and the RB is into the secondary immediately. Woolfolk takes a good angle and comes up to tackle after about ten, but misses it (-1, tackling -1), giving up another ten before Warren can haul him down.
M44 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Pass Fly Cissoko Inc (Pen +15)
Eight man front. Can't say M's not being aggressive here, though on this play the corners have backed off. You've seen this before. Cissoko(+1, cover +1) is running this guy's route and gets called for the world's worst PI. Roh was working his way to the QB, FWIW. Not plus-warranting but pressure was coming.
M29 1 10 Ace 3-3-5-ish Run Zone stretch right Sagesse -1
Sagesse(+2) shoots past the center's block and slants past the attempted scoop from the backside guard, jetting into the backfield and forcing the RB outside. With help from Roh(+1, tackling +1), Michigan picks up a TFL.
M30 2 11 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Hitch Cissoko 9
Michigan sends three rushers against max protect so there are eight zone defenders and only three guys in patterns and there's still a wide open hitch five yards downfield that Cissoko is five yards away from at the catch. I usually don't give out personal negatives on zone coverage I can't see but here's a stern look (cover -1).
M21 3 2 Ace Big 3-3-5-ish Run Zone stretch right Sagesse -4
Slightly less impressive on replay than it was live because it's revealed that Sagesse was basically let into the backfield unmolested, as he's lined up in a zero tech (directly over the center) and slants right into the play. It's a good angle and he makes an excellent tackle(+1) so here's a +1. Graham(+1) also burst through so this was truly going nowhere.
Drive Notes: FG(42), 3-3, 5 min 1st Q. Not bothered by this drive, which was basically a couple of sloppy zone coverages, a gamble EMU won and M lost, and the world's worst PI call. Note that Michigan's running a lot of their 30 front and slanting directly into the stretch plays. This is progress from last week, when M had to discard the stretches because the angles were poor, and I'm betting is an adjustment EMU will make after this drive to open up their run game.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Down G Banks 2
Pulling guards and whatnot, a very Dantonio/Carr play. Michigan stunts, shooting Banks(+1) into the backfield and forcing the back away from the hole. Herron(+1 tackling) cleans up on the cutback.
O23 2 8 Ace 3-3-5-ish Pass PA TE flat Warren 2
Graham is unblocked and flies upfield at Schmitt after he diagnoses the play action, hypothetically opening up the TE flat sort of play that got Koger a big gainer last week but M is in cover two and Warren(+1, cover +1, tackle +1) reads it well and pops the guy as he makes the catch.
O25 3 6 Shotgun 2-back Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Brown 13
Brown(-2) overplays the zone fake badly and loses contain, opening up huge space for a first down. Worse: this is the backup FR QB, so obviously the run is a preferred option. Very poor.
O38 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5-ish Run Inside Zone Martin 2
EMU finally tries to run right at this three-man line. Leach(+0.5) kind of sort of cuts off an outside hole, which causes a cutback into a doubled Martin(+2), except Martin's shucked his blockers and tackles(+1) at the LOS.
O40 2 8 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass PA Cross Leach 7
Play action with a rollout and this is on Leach(-1, cover -1) for vacating his zone and aimlessly running forward to contain a rollout Banks(+0.5) has covered.
O47 3 1 Ace tight 4-3 under Run Dive -- 4
Fully ten guys in the box as EMU lines up in a tight set with both wideouts acting as quasi-TEs. They run right at a sizeable gap between Martin and Graham that Leach(-0.5) doesn't attack fast enough. Looks misaligned or mis-called or something because this didn't seem like a defense likely to prevent a quick burst up the middle.
M49 1 10 Ace 3-3-5-ish Pass PA rollout scramble Ezeh 24
Man, I don't know what the hell Ezeh(-2) is doing on this. Okay, I do: he's way over-reacting to where Schmitt's looking downfield. He takes himself so far out of his zone that he can reach out and touch Herron, opening up acres of space for Schmitt to either dump off to the running back or take off; he chooses to take off, getting huge yardage. (Cover -2, pressure -1)
M25 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Counter pitch Heininger 0
Yeah, this is a counter, with an H-back pulling backside to block the defensive end as you've seen in Picture Pages frequently. Heininger(+1) reads it, gets into his blocker, and pushes him upfield, necessitating a cutback. Martin(+1) gets blown back by a double team before shucking his guy, reading, hopping to the LOS, and tackling.
M25 2 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Martin 10
Eight man front. Can't blame Ezeh on this one, as he reads and fills and probably had this snuffed out for little or no gain except for a cutback from the tailback that's open because Martin(-1) got chopped. Leach(-1) failed to read the play and got hooked by a downfield OL, leaving him out of position to deal with this slow-developing play and getting EMU's tailback into the secondary.
M15 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Down G Graham 4
Trap blocking on this; Graham(-1) comes in unblocked but fails to read the pulling guard and doesn't get under him to spill the play outside. RB shoots untouched through the line where Leach(+0.5) makes a solid tackle(+1). This could be on Ezeh, actually... depends on what was called. He was heading outside, though, so I think Graham has to spill the play.
M11 2 6 Ace tight 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Graham 11
Well, one: Graham(-2) irresponsibly charges after the tailback, opening up the QB keeper. Weird how this basic zone read defense step is one we can't get right. And two: JB Fitzgerald(-2) makes just an epically bad read, fighting to the inside of his blocker two seconds after everyone else on the defense is chasing the QB.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-10, 11 min 2nd Q. I'm actually way less bothered by this drive than I thought I'd be. It's basically four dumb plays, two on QB contain, two on boneheaded zone drops, and not any sort of EMU-blowing-M-off-ball sort of thing.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace trips bunch 4-3 under Run Down G X 2 Roh 2
EMU pulls two linemen around to the outside but the tailback just shoots straight upfield. Miscommunication? Roh(+0.5) charges from the backside to tackle; Graham(+0.5) had read the play and helped out, too. (Tackling +1)
O29 2 8 Ace 4-3 under Run Dive RVB 4
Running right at the gap between Martin and RVB; RVB (-0.5) gets trapped and creased; can't spill the play outside. Ezeh(+0.5) reacted swiftly, though he wasn't blocked, to tackle in the hole.
O33 3 4 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5-ish Run Triple option dive Ezeh 1
I don't know if this is good play or bad from Ezeh since there's a triple option going on outside and the only contain is Brown; this is probably not assignment football. But he's right, and results based charting and all that. Here he attacks the dive aggressively(+1), getting into the RB's feet and helping Graham(+0.5) pursue to the ball and stop EMU short of the first down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace tight 4-3 under Pass PA Sack Roh -5
Roh(+1) is unblocked on the backside, reads the play, and tackles(+1) as soon as the QB turns around to survey downfield. Excellent read and good job to keep under control to make the sack. (Pressure +2)
O20 2 15 Shotgun empty 2TE 30 front Pass Hitch Warren 13
This is a whatever hitch for five yards if Warren(-1) makes a tackle(-1); he does not. Receiver spins around and picks up eight more because of the error.
O33 3 2 Ace 4-3 under Pass Hitch Warren Inc
Warren(-0.5) one on one with the WR; turns his hips and gets beaten by a little hitch route just past the sticks (cover -1). Ball is dropped.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-10, 5 min 2nd Q. Rough couple plays from Warren there.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run Down G Fitzgerald 11
Well... dammit. They've stuck JB Fitzgerald in the game and it's clear why he doesn't get more playing time. Herron(+0.5) gets into a pulling guard early enough to close off any potential off tackle crease, spilling the play outside where Fitzgerald(-2) should be there to clean up. He's come down inside and run himself out of position so he can't make what should be a TFL. The play springs outside for first down yardage.
M25 1 10 Ace Big 3-3-5 stack Run Counter off tackle Leach 9
They run a counter, pulling a guard across; Banks(+0.5) again gets into him and spills the play but Leach(-2) has gone into a pass drop already and is eight yards downfield before he realizes this was a bad idea. He runs around some blocks; Ezeh(+0.5) is the WLB here and runs from the backside to tackle. Good athleticism there from Ezeh.
M16 2 1 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Zone stretch right 4
Pretty good job by Sagesse(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) to hold up against blockers and force a cutback, but there's no one on the backside to clean up because Williams(-1) got clocked. Cissoko cleans up.
M12 1 10 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Counter off tackle Williams 6
Michigan cramming the box now; Banks(-0.5) blown off the ball by a double team and Herron(-0.5) sets up too far outside to squeeze the hole and spill the play. Still, Williams(-1) is sitting unblocked in the hole and fails to tackle(-1) at the LOS, turning this from like two into five. Michigan TO.
M6 2 4 Ace 4-3 under Run Down G Leach 2
Slight variant here with EMU blocking down on the DE and bringing one guard around into two linebackers. Leach(+1) reads the play and attacks it, closing in at the LOS and tackling(+1) with help from Ezeh. Michigan TO.
M4 3 2 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Off tackle Williams 4
This is just tough when they line up two TEs to one side of the line and the three guys you've got over there are Roh, Williams, and Cissoko. Roh(-1) gets doubled and blown back; Williams(-1) gets crushed into the endzone, which prevents any chance of LBs flowing over. M should have been in a goal line set here. Error by Robinson.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-17, 2 min 2nd Q. Note the timeouts! Rodriguez has played enough XBox 360 to understand when he can get an extra possession out of the first half. Can you imagine Carr taking these? There is one run play before halftime but it's academic and not charted.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O12 1 10 Ace trips 30 front Run Dive Williams 6
Williams(-1) is half-rolled up and fills on this simple dive play; a solid tackle means this is like three yards (Leach(-0.5) crushed out of the hole by a G), but Williams lets the guy spin through (tackling -1) and pick up extra.
O18 2 4 Ace Twin TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Graham -1
Graham(+2) blows through his guy and crushes the play in the backfield with help from unblocked Roh(+0.5) on the backside. (Tackling +1)
O17 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Hitch Warren Inc
Warren(+1) reacts considerably more rapidly to this hitch than the last one and appears to get a hand on a poorly thrown ball breaking it up (cover +1). Effective blitz got a couple edge guys in (pressure +1) and may have contributed to a hurried throw.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-17, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Off tackle Ezeh 3
Michigan slanting away from this so a little fortunate to hold this down. Only one player to the second level, who takes out Leach; Ezeh(+1, tackling +1) has a free flow to the POA which, to his credit, he attacks swiftly and makes a solid tackle at.
O12 2 7 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass TE cross Herron 5
I'm not sure what they're running here as it looks like man with Ezeh dropping into some sort of zone and Leach freaking out and attacking the LOS once the RB sets up to block a blitzing Williams. Fire blitz? Herron's in man on the TE, close enough to force a tough throw and no YAC, which is a win, I think. +1 for him, but not on the cover.
O17 3 2 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Dive Williams -2
Williams(+1) times a blitz well and shoots into the backfield, keeping under control and snuffing this out in the backfield with help from Martin(+1), who just crushed his guy, and Ezeh(+1) who aggressively sought the play out and cut through trash to make this a party in the backfield.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-17, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace Twins 30 front Pass PA TE cross -- Inc
EMU finally goes to a bootleg and gets Schmitt on the edge. Ezeh comes up to contain but not quickly so Schmitt has time to find the TE running open for a decent gain. Poor throw and an incompletion. (Cover -1)
O20 2 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass PA Hitch Warren 4
Martin(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) are busting through the line to force a quick throw (pressure +1) on a hitch; Warren(+0.5) tackles(+1) immediately.
O24 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 2TE 4-3 under Pass Deflection Ezeh Int
Michigan sends a zone blitz, getting Ezeh(+1) in unblocked. He leaps in the throwing lane and bats the ball skyward, directly to Roh(+1), who brings it in for an INT. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 31-17, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 ??? ??? Pass ??? ??? 9
We totally miss this play. Arbitrary cover -1.
O49 2 1 Ace Big 4-3 under Pass PA Fly Warren Inc
Going for the home run with an almost-free play. Warren(+2) runs the guy's route for him(cover +2) and this has no chance of success. FLAG? Lol jk no.
O49 3 1 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Down G Roh 3
Kovacs is in the game for Williams, BTW, and will play the rest of the game. EMU goes back to their down G play, running right at Roh. Roh(-1) is in good position to squeeze the gap and force a bounce but basically gets run over by the G, which provides enough crease for the first. Should go low here, I think.
M48 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Pass PA Fly Banks Inc
Banks(+1) blows through the line on a slant, getting hooked and drawing a holding flag. Schmitt flushes from the pocket and chucks it deep to a double-covered WR, who falls. Woolfolk almost intercepts. (Cover +1, pressure +1)
O42 1 20 Shotgun 2-back 30 front Pass Screen Ezeh 9
Only rush four but playing man behind it so Ezeh is the only one looking at the tailback here and he's got a tough job against two OL. I guess you can ding him for reacting slowly(-0.5). He does force the play inside, where it dies after a good gain.
O49 2 11 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Hitch Graham 6
Graham(+1) bursts around the corner (pressure +1), forcing a quick throw. It's open in zone; Brown and Warren tackle(+1) immediately.
M45 3 6 Shotgun empty 2TE 4-3 under Pass Hitch Woolfolk 13
Brown gets a free release on a blitz as Michigan goes man with no safeties; Woolfolk is playing off (cover -1) a bit and Schmitt makes a good throw for the first. Woolfolk(-0.5) then struggles to tackle(-1), providing another three or four.
M32 1 10 Ace Big 4-3 under Pass Flare Lynch 9
Little flare screen on the edge sees Kovacs(-1) and Leach(-1) both get engaged by blockers who drive them off the screen and entirely out of the play. Cissoko has no help and all he can do is delay the RB and wait for help to arrive downfield. (Cover -1)
M23 2 1 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Down G Kovacs 0
Kovacs rolled up. He attacks the pulling guard, standing him up and delaying the back. He tries to bounce outside, where Lynch is, and eventually just runs up into Kovacs(+1) for a loss.
M23 3 1 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Martin 3
Martin(-0.5) gives a yard or two, as does Ezeh, but that's not really his fault, and there's enough of a push up front to get the first.
M20 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run End around Brown 5
Not sure who's got the contain here but it's either Brown(-0.5) or Graham, and I think it's probably Brown's late reaction that barely opens the corner here for an okay gain.
M15 2 5 Ace Twins 4-3 under Penalty False Start -- Pen -5
Oops.
M20 2 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Down G X 2 Brown 11
Variant of the down G here that's supposed to get outside the tackle. TE downblocks on Roh and the T and G both pull around into Brown(-1) who gets planted as you might imagine a safety playing LB would, and the play heads outside with ease. Ezeh(-1) also misreads the play and runs himself into a block.
M9 1 G Ace Twin TE 4-3 under Pass PA rollout -- 5
Zone stretch fake into a rollout that finds no one despite(cover +2) no pressure(-1) for a long time. Schmitt is able to cut it up for a few yards.
M5 2 G Ace 4-3 under Run Off tackle 2 Warren 2
Same play that just got 11 yards with a bonus blocker as one of the WRs motions in. So close to the goal line the secondary is active, though. One of the pulling blockers is picked off by Graham(+0.5) getting some penetration. Woolfolk pops up under the last guy, forcing a bounce into Warren(+0.5) who tackles well but does allow the guy to fall forward.
M3 3 G Goal line Goal line Run Down G Brown -2
Wing blitzes from Kovacs(+1) and Brown(+1) jet past blockers and the two meet the RB in the backfield for a TFL.
M5 4 G Ace 4-3 under Pass Fade stop Cissoko Inc
Receiver does get Cissoko to bite on a fade by turning his head inside, then whipping around to get open at the start of the endzone but can't keep his feet and the throw isn't perfect so it's incomplete. (Cover -1)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 38-17, 9 min 4th Q. Jeez that was a long, uncomfortable drive. More on it later.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass Sack -- --
The ugly play where Schmitt tears his ACL for no reason.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 38-17, 7 min 4th Q.
O14 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run Triple option keeper Roh 3
Roh(+1) is unblocked, reads the dive fake, and comes out to tackle the QB by himself. Athletic move there; this is not a guy you want to read, I don't think.
O17 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Hitch Graham Inc
Graham(+1) is in the passing lane and bats it down. (Pressure +1)
O17 3 7 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Screen Leach 7
Leach(-1) drops in his zone, reads it slowly, and can't recover to tackle. (Cover -1)
O24 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 5
No one open (cover +1); decent pressure flushes the QB and he scrambles for a few.
O29 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 30 front Run Zone read keeper Fitzgerald 14
Fitzgerald's(-1) the guy with the QB, but reacts slowly, takes a block, and gets cut behind as the QB cuts it up.
O43 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 30 front Pass Hitch -- Inc
Wildly inaccurate for no particular reason.
O43 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 5
Replay of the scramble earlier in the drive (Cover +1)
O48 3 5 Shotgun 2-back 3-4 Base Run Triple option dive Banks 1
Banks(+1) shucks a blocker and delivers a thumping tackle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 45-17, 4 min 4th Q. Charting ceases as the second team is put in for the rest of the game.

So that was concerning, wasn't it?

Slightly, yes, but after looking at the tape I'm more encouraged than I was immediately after the game.

How can that be?

To explain that I think I need a—

Chart?

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 10.5 3 7.5 Very little opportunity to get after the quarterback. Was good against the run, though he was one of the people responsible for Schmitt's touchdown run.
Heininger 1 - 1 Made one nice play.
Patterson - - - Scrub time only I think.
Roh 6.5 3 3.5 A couple of nice plays when EMU put him on the edge and tried to fool or read him. Athleticism should be an asset against zone read teams.
Herron 1.5 .5 1 Eh, ok.
Martin 7 1.5 5.5 Much better job getting off blocks this week and more active; this is probably because of the competition. Still, he's promising. Probably needs another year before he's truly an anchor.
Van Bergen 1 2.5 -1.5 Not holding up very well against doubles.
Banks 4.5 .5 4 Rodriguez mentioned he'd been playing well last week and he did make some plays here.
Sagesse 3.5 1 2.5 Big fourth down stop was a gift but made some other plays. Needs more PT.
TOTAL 31 11.5 19.5 Nice number, so the rushing yards were on…
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 6 5.5 0.5 Well, at least it's positive.
Mouton - - - DNP.
Brown 1.5 4.5 -3 Blew a zone read contain for some of his minus points, and got blasted back by guys 60 pounds heavier than he is on some others. Didn't think he played that bad.
Fitzgerald - 5 -5 Yipes. Huge missed reads for all five negative points. Looked lost. Athletic, but lost.
Leach 2 7 -5 Didn't make any of his tackles near the LOS, did the Mouton thing where you go into a pass drop on a run play.
TOTAL 9.5 22 -12.5 Could have gone better. 
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Warren 5 1.5 3.5 Mostly run support and a couple open hitches/blanketed deep routes.
Cissoko 1 1 0 "Hey, that guy isn't Michael Floyd."
Floyd - - - Scrub time only.
Turner - - - DNP
Woolfolk - 1.5 -1.5 Almost zero to in coverage. Missed a couple tackles but nothing serious.
Williams 2.5 4 -1.5 Like Brown, got a share of minuses just for being 100 pounds smaller than the guy blocking him.
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs 2 1 1 Hasn't cost Michigan anything yet..
TOTAL 10.5 9 1.5 Almost had the day off.
Metrics
Pressure 10 2 8 Probably why they hardly passed.
Coverage 12 13 -1 Also a reason.
Tackling 18 5 13 No idea if this is generous or what to compare it to or what. I'm just building data here.

So… there you go. I'm still working on the tackling bits, obviously. I wouldn't take the minuses on the safeties too seriously.

Why does this make you less concerned than you were before?

We already knew that Ezeh is the kind of guy to get dragged out of position and open up a 24 yard scramble, and we had a strong suspicion that even though the starting linebackers were poor their backups were worse, and all this bore out. Most of the defensive line played up to expectations except Van Bergen, and Banks may add some additional interior depth going forward. The secondary was par for the course, too, and the tackling was pretty good.

Come on, look at that 36-yard all-run touchdown drive. This is Eastern Michigan!

Is that a question?

This is Eastern Michigan?

Fine, fine, okay, yes. It's not like I expect the defense to be good or anything. It's just that the EMU game didn't reveal anything particularly surprising or new. And ten of their points were on the world's worst pass interference call and a thirty-six yard drive. They gained under 300 yards and Michigan outgained them by 180-some. I'm fine with what happened, mostly.

The most disturbing bits were the zone read breakdowns. How does that happen when you practice against it all day every day? I don't know, but when any EMU QB pulled the ball out he had plenty of space.

Any hope for defensive depth in the future?

In the secondary and at linebacker, no. Leach slotting in ahead of Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald proving that wasn't a crazy decision with some really bad play indicates that there's no cavalry coming in the backups. Michigan is riding with Mouton and Ezeh, like it or not. Pray they improve. (To his credit, Ezeh was better at hitting the hole in this game. Baby steps.)

Meanwhile in the secondary, Michigan went the whole game with the starters until Williams got tweaked and Kovacs returned; no corner other than the starting pair saw a snap until uncharted garbage time, and that didn't even include uber-frosh Justin Turner. I did include converted WR/RB Teric Jones, whose redshirt is burned. Burning that redshirt is a whopping statement about where the secondary depth stands: next to Charlie Weis on a precipice, looking down at disaster.

The line, though, looks like it might pick up another contributor in Greg Banks and at some point you figure they will unleash Will Campbell on short yardage. He was part of the goal line set that saw a few snaps and probably should have been in on a few more. He's a tough guy to move.

So… no on Fitzgerald?

Not yet, at least. Watch the linebacker to the top of the screen (not the guy on the line, the guy lined up on the 32, which is Fitzgerald) here:

Michigan was playing that play to spill all day, spilled it, and Fitzgerald was nowhere to be found. He is not mentally ready to play.

The safeties look halfway competent, don't they?

Um… well… mentioning this will probably doom them forever, but maybe? None of ND's long plays can be blamed on the safeties, though part of that was the defensive scheme and part of that was the ability of Notre Dame to exploit an injured, short Cissoko in his first start against a good offense. And Eastern didn't find anything long. The only play on which a safety got a big negative was the long Western touchdown. Just MAC teams, sure, but by this point in any other season there would have been two or more plays from the safeties that make you groan and clutch your rosary. Obi Ezeh's "so we got that going for us" quote about Woolfolk may be accurate.

Heroes?

The starting defensive line outside of Van Bergen, who didn't do much.

Goats?

All linebackers not named Ezeh, who was decent.

What does it mean for Indiana and the future?

I'll keep it brief since this was a game against Eastern Michgian and you overrate it at your peril: the team is basically what we thought it was. If you want to load up against it and grind down the field you'll have success doing it, though I wonder if teams will manage to score a lot of touchdowns with that sort of approach. Michigan's going to bend a lot; hopefully they won't break.

Greg Robinson is busy installing all sorts of different stuff and slants and various games to cover up for the fact that he's got no depth, two seniors, and three walk-ons contributing. I think we're going to see a lot of instances where the games work and Michigan swarms something and a lot of instances where Michigan gets caught and gashed. There are places to attack this defense, and the safeties are going to have to do a lot of cleanup in Big Ten play.

Is there any upside for these guys? Maybe. It is a new system so Michigan is behind mentally and should improve more than veteran units whose failings are more likely to be physical shortcomings than mental errors. Look at Eastern's long touchdown drive: mental error after mental error. If Michigan can fix those things—or, more conservatively, mitigate them—they appear to have the horsepower to be completely mediocre. Again: getting Ezeh and Mouton up to a level where they are decent is the key to the defense's season.

Monday Presser Notes: 9-21

Monday Presser Notes: 9-21

Submitted by Tim on September 21st, 2009 at 1:49 PM

David Molk had surgery this morning on his broken foot, and will be out 4-6 weeks. David Moosman will be back this week, and replace Molk at center. Rocko Khoury and Tim McAvoy will be healthy now as well. In other injury news, Tate's going to be fine, he just bruised a rib, which prevented him from moving around quite as well in the Eastern game. A rib shot is a good way to teach a quarterback that he needs to get rid of the ball quicker.

Mike Williams and Brandon Minor are both day-to-day. Minor is a guy who will play through a lot of pain, so the coaches have to be careful with how much they let him practice.

Offensive Line. Mark Huyge and Patrick Omameh can both play interior and exterior positions on the offensive line. Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield have both been running with the 2s recently, and might be able to earn a little bit of playing time. There are a few more freshmen that haven't played yet, but probably will before the season is over. Justin Turner is among them. According to Donovan Warren, "He just needs to be a little more comfortable, and have the coaches trust him." Mike Jones and Brandin Hawthorne, who are backups at the SAM linebacker position, will probably see a bit more time as well.

Walk-ons. The walk-on program is important to Michigan Football as a whole, and it's going well so far. Kevin Leach, Jordan Kovacs, Jon Conover and fullback John McColgan are examples of its success. Rodriguez isn't going to publicly announce which walkons have received scholarships, because that's a downer for some of the guys who may have been close but didn't quite get one.

TOP. One of Rodriguez's big defensive goals is to force the opposition into at least 6 three-and-outs per game. That helps in time of possession, and getting them some rest. He doesn't worry about time of possession that much, because it isn't a meaningful stat - especially if you have a quick-strike offense. [Editor's note: woooooooo!] The defense hasn't been able to get a ton of pressure on quarterbacks yet, because opposition has gone to max-protect set and a quick-hit passing game.

Indiana. Indiana is a surprisingly experienced team defensively. They have two of the best defensive ends in the conference, which could cause some trouble. As far as the conference at large, Rodriguez doesn't know how his team stacks up, because they haven't played anyone from the league yet. He's worried about taking care of Indiana for now. As Ryan Van Bergen said, the 3-0 start means nothing towards winning the conference.

Troy Woolfolk gave Carlos Brown a little bit of grief for only having the 3rd-longest run in Michigan history. Brown: "He was like, 'look, my dad's got number 1." I was like 'We've got 9 more games to go.'"

Warren. All three defensive cordinators so far in Donovan Warren's career have been excellent coaches, who are very similar and passionate about the game. They have their differences, but all are good. Warren briefly talked to Coach English on the field after the game on Saturday.

Donovan doesn't notice if an opposing team is trying to avoid him. He just goes out there and plays his assignment, and gets to the ball. He likes that the offense can score, but wishes they'd do it a little slower so he could rest. The team's conditioning has helped him be ready to get right back out there, however.

As far as halftime defensive adjustments go, both Donovan Warren and Ryan Van Bergen pointed out that opponents have given some looks in the first half of games that they hadn't yet shown on film. The coaches are able to make the necessary changes at halftime to slow the opposition down.

Grady (Small). Kelvin Grady talked a long time about the transition from basketball to football, and the decision-making process that resulted in ending up on the football team. He worked in a factory at Amway over the summer, and had a lot of time to think about what he was planning to do. His dad provided him guidance, "He's the father that I want to be someday."

Grady said it would be a great experience to play in an NCAA tournament and a bowl game (knock on wood) within a year of each other.

Handle With Care

Handle With Care

Submitted by Brian on September 21st, 2009 at 1:46 PM

[Editor's Note: Mad Men spoilers below. Abort now if you care even a little bit. UPDATE: you'll be safe if you skip the blockquote.]

9/21/2009 – Michigan 45, Eastern Michigan 17 – 3-0

Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier grimaces in pain after being leveled during third quarter action of the Wolverine's 45-17 win over Eastern Michigan, Saturday, September 19th at Michigan Stadium. Forcier left the game briefly, but returned to action later in the contest.
Lon Horwedel | Ann Arbor.com

I'd never heard 100,000 people moan before. I've heard gasps and anger and worry and fretting and relief. I've heard an involuntary yelp of hope after Drew Stanton went down in the game that would be Braylonfest. I've heard way more than my share of discontent grumbling. I know all the tiny permutations of discontent grumbling, actually. I could write a PhD thesis on discontent stadium grumbles.

I had not heard a unified, angst-ridden moan until Saturday when Tate Forcier got blasted as he threw the ball away and rolled around on the Michigan Stadium turf like he'd just been stabbed. I sort of felt like I'd been stabbed, too, and I went "uhhhnnn." So did everyone else as we simultaneously contemplated the Sheridans of yesteryear. But before we could open up the flak jacket and find the secret, Forcier popped up and Rodriguez stuck him in to hand off a few times, thus saving everyone an extra hour or two of painful contemplation. The most interesting thing to happen in the Eastern Michigan game expired without impact.

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

It's quite a comedown to go from the Notre Dame game to this game in just about every way. Emotional involvement and excitement are obvious to anyone who saw the two teams listed as opponents. Hidden to folk who just saw the final score, but not the halftime one, was a reminder that the program remains, yes, under construction and that we should all be enjoying the competence instead of spinning out hopes for New Year's Day.

The main problem: Eastern Michigan ran the ball decently, and it wasn't on one long run on which Michigan can blame a random safety. EMU's long for the day was a 24-yarder by the quarterback and the dual-headed tailback pounded out 113 yards on 32 carries. That's 3.5 a pop and would have been totally acceptable if Michigan had flipped their first and second halves. (In the second half, Eastern put up 98 yards and no points on seven drives.) They didn't. Michigan gave up an 11-play, 79 yard touchdown drive and a 6-play, 36 yard touchdown drive, and did it mostly by running right at the side of the line not containing Mike Martin and Brandon Graham. For the day, Michigan was slightly better than Army and evidently terrible Northwestern defensively, which bodes unwell for the sky-high hopes you know you're secretly harboring. Search your heart. You know it to be true.

The evidence was clear enough on a selected few defensive snaps in the second half. With Mike Williams nursing a slight ankle injury on the sideline and Brandon Graham taking a breather, Michigan's purported first-team defense had three walk-ons playing. I can't remember a single non-fullback walk-on other than Nick Sheridan in recent Michigan history who saw playing time as extensive as three separate players have already gotten this year, and everyone remembers how Sheridan's experiment went. If Michigan is going to win games in the Big Ten, they're going to have to score a lot of points. They'll probably do this, but at the end of the year the stats are going to look more like one of those good-ish Northwestern teams from the late 90s, all shiny offensive stats and horrible defensive ones and entertaining games that give you no impression the team in question can hang with college football's elite.

And all of this is fine, of course. If Michigan's offense follows through on its first three weeks and the defense holds it together well enough to suggest competence in 2010, Michigan fans will and should be delighted. I'm not exactly breaking new ground by suggesting this team is not at the talent level you'd normally expect a Michigan team to be at, and I'm probably not surprising anyone by cautioning for patience. But I feel it has to be said after Orson Swindle and I had a conversation like this:

(11:23:10 PM) Orson: I cannot emphasize how improved by a random act of violent gore an episode of Mad Men was.. Paul being splattered with blood should happen every episode

(11:24:58 PM) Orson: "I live in Montclair." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD
(11:25:28 PM) Orson: "I went to Princeton." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD

(11:25:53 PM) Brian I prefer Harry, actually. "I cheated on my wife and actually regret it." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD. I also loved how the English guys immediately treated him as a horse that had to be put down.

(11:26:52 PM) Orson: "Oh no, he's done." "Quite right. No foot. Dead to us."

(11:27:04 PM) Brian "never play golf again"!!!

[Several more minutes of Mad Men discussion segues into this]

Orson: BTW, let me congratulate you on having a player sucker punch an ND player in the gut I'm serious. That is nothing but a great sign for your program.

(11:39:46 PM) Brian: It was the chin, actually. And we even got a totally unprecedented "you're going to be Miami" suspension out of it.

(11:40:57 PM) Orson: You are starting to get an idea of the vast power of the dark side.

[This continues for a while until:]

Orson: For once, I enjoy watching Michigan thanks to them. I think you're going to beat the f-- out of Ohio State this year.

You know me: I immediately attempted to convince Orson—who is awesome but prone to wild prognostications based on things the thinks are going to be fun—otherwise. It didn't take. "Whoah," I said, and then overreacted as you can see above.

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

carlos-brown-eastern-90-yarder (caption) Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson (16) sprints to the endzone for a 36-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.  Robinson rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns, but went 0-for-4 passing with two interceptions.  *** Michigan defeated Eastern Michigan 45-17 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, rushing for 380 yards, but passing for just 68 yards. Photos taken on Saturday, September 19, 2009. ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )

Right now, Michigan is an Easter egg dropped out of a window during an engineering competition. It's small. It's moving extremely fast. It's brightly colored and looks like it contains a good time. It is heading inexorably for something large and uncompromising, and all it has to protect it is a rickety structure slapped together last night out of Busch Light cans, foam, and an unidentifiable oozing substance someone found next to the refrigerator. It's probably not going to make it, but for the moment it's time to enjoy the wind.

BULLETS

  • Wooo complete Michigan wave cycle!
  • Man, I do not like the fact that Michigan has scholarship players who aren't true freshmen at DE and LB but chooses to play walk-ons over them. No offense to those guys, but they were walk-ons for a reason. Unless they are spectacularly advanced thinkers at the game, their ceiling is low and Michigan's defense has little upside as the season goes along. Brandon Smith can be excused since he was a safety until fall camp, but how do Kenny Demens and JB Fitzgerald not see the field in front of Leach? That's a bad sign for both their futures. Ditto Adam Patterson, who looks set to go down as one of the all-time pure talent recruiting busts. Even a huge disappointment like Kevin Grady has gotten regular playing time every year.
  • I do think I have an idea why Fitzgerald wasnt seeing the field: when he did he did not play well. I'll have to check the tape but IIRC one of Eastern's TDs was on his head. I really, really hope someone emerges from the linebacker morass this year. Right now it's terrifying.
  • Losing Molk is bad but it's way less bad than it was last year. Michigan has three or four options to bring into the lineup at RG—sounds like Moosman will slide over to C. Who were Michigan's options last year? Tim McAvoy?
  • Man, the backup tailbacks looked good. Remember this run?

    091909_UMFB vs EMU_MRM

    Michael Shaw has got to start wearing crazy tight oily jerseys, because he juked that Eastern safety out of his jock and deserved a spectacular touchdown run on this play; he didn't get it because that grab you saw actually held up. Shaw looked like Carlos Brown 2.0 in some ways and the opposite of Carlos Brown in others. The difference: Brown always looks like he's perfectly balanced and then falls over; Shaw always looks like he's about to fall over but stays up.

    Meanwhile, Vincent Smith's lone run featured an impressive juke of the backside defensive end and a first down thanks to a heads-up block from Denard Robinson, and Mike Cox got it YGM style on a weaving run on which he displayed his own impressive balance. With Fitzgerald Toussaint, Austin White and Stephen Hopkins on the way, the tailback spot will be just fine next year.

  • Meanwhile, how the hell did Carlos Brown end up getting tackled by this?

    carlos-brown-eastern

    Great game and all but sometimes the things that cause Carlos Brown to fall over are mystifying.

  • Students: it's impolite to start up chants when someone's hurt. "Tate Forcier" was fine, but there was a "Go… Blue" chant at some point when an Eastern guy was down. Poor form.

Eastern Michigan Video of All Varieties

Eastern Michigan Video of All Varieties

Submitted by Brian on September 20th, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Wolverine Historian's got a highlight reel:

You'll get better quality at youtube itself.

And there is a standard def torrent up on TYT. I know MGoVideo is working on a swank one but they have logistical issues when the games are on BTN and it may be delayed. Will inform when more is known.

Liveblog: Eastern Michigan

Liveblog: Eastern Michigan

Submitted by Tim on September 19th, 2009 at 11:23 AM

As always, check out the Live Blog Chaos Mitigation Post for information on what this is and why your comments aren't showing up (it's moderated and if every comment published it would be unreadable).

CAW!