Fee Fi Foe Film: Florida Offense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Florida Offense Comment Count

Seth December 7th, 2018 at 2:01 PM

Resources: My charting, UF game notes, UF roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

This foe is getting a little too familiar. We never did a film post for last season's opener, but these guys are pretty much those guys plus two transfer receivers, a new center, and a massive upgrade in coaching. Last year's 4-7 debacle was enough to cut bait on McElwain, and after losing out on the Scott Frost sweepstakes Florida found former Meyer assistant/onetime Michigan candidate Dan Mullen all too happy to be rescued from post-Dak Starkville.

Despite four-stars galore and getting back some stars lost to injury/credit card fraud, this offense is still climbing out of last year's (108th to S&P, 111th in scoring) crater. The running game suffers from a lack of QB legs and line strength in the middle. The passing game suffers from the QB's wonky arm. Mullen makes up what he can with offensive tricks, and for big games he always has something prepared that the defense hasn't seen before. Against LSU it was a triple-option that read two backside edge players. Against Georgia it was a pistol screen and RPO package that debuted with a flea-flicker that got Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson open on the first play of the game.

The film: I didn't want to choose a midseason game for a new coach but Florida plays in the weaker half of a top-heavy conference that pads its win totals with a mere eight conference games and FCS opponents (Florida played two of them this year: S-E-C!) they schedule well into November. UF's normal end-of-the-year litmus rival, FSU, is terrible right now. That left South Carolina (61st in defensive S&P), Vanderbilt (80th), or blowout losses at the hands of Missouri and Georgia. I watched Georgia again to track any recent developments, but for scoring purposes I went back to October 6th versus then 5th-ranked LSU. Like Michigan, the Tigers run a mostly Cover 1 defense with a secondary full of NFL prospects, a defensive line that's excellent on the edges but shaky in the DT depth chart, and are led by an all-American linebacker named Devin, though the Butkus winner was truthfully more Gil than Bush in this game.

Personnel: My diagram:


PDF Version, larger version (or click the image)

The only new faces since Michigan's 2017 opener are C Nick Buchanan, and sophomore transfer WRs Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes, who are both more big body types. The rest of the receivers are speedsters: Tyrie Cleveland, the starter whom Grimes supplanted mid-season, and Slots Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain, and Kadarius Toney.

The rest of the OL has been around forever, notably LT Martez Ivey, who was the #2 overall prospect to the 247 composite in 2015, has been starting since 2015, was all-SEC in 2016, and still occasionally looks like a true freshman. Ivey had two false starts in this game, though that sort of thing is often on the center not knowing the cadence. RT Jawaan Taylor and RG Frederick Johnson are a JBB/Onwenu mauler crew. On the other hand Taylor needed constant tight end/backfield help in pass protection, and Johnson got pulled for a long stretch after a pair of instant pressures he allowed. LG Tyler Jordan might be the best of the bunch—they're a right-handed running team because of the maul brothers but also because Jordan's their best pulling guard. RG Brett Heggie, who started 7 games last year, came in for Johnson and was fine, but seemed confused on the protections.

The caveat here is pass pro:

# Player Pos Run Prot- FS
73 Martez Ivey LT +0.5/-4 4 2
64 Tyler Jordan LG +4.5/-1 2 -
66 Nick Buchanan C +3/-12 3 -
74 Fred Johnson RG +2/-2 2 -
65 Jawaan Taylor RT +2/-3 - -
61 Brett Heggie RG +5/-2 2 -

I did some UFR-style tracking of protections and came up with 41/56 (73%). That is bad. Buchanan is particularly bad in all facets of centerhood—including and especially not snapping it over your quarterback's head.

[the rest of the breakdown, after THE JUMP]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State 2018 Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State 2018 Defense Comment Count

Seth November 23rd, 2018 at 11:57 AM

Previously: The Offense

Resources: My charting, OSU game notes, OSU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats, 11W Snap Tracker

To be a college football fan in the Midwest in 2018 means moonlighting as Urban Meyer's sideline psychologist. The cameras are all too happy to oblige us, helpfully cutting to our patient's emotive state after every important event, capturing our client exhibiting all manner of worrying behaviors. He squats. He runs his hands through his hair. He paces. Squats again. Squeezes his face. Buries it in his hands. You have to wonder.

Since I happen to be married to an actual Psychologist I showed her the tape I've been analyzing for weeks, and asked the thing we've all been thinking since Brett McMurphy slimed through a noxious fissure named Zach Smith and revealed what's beneath the program that has owned our league since 2012: Does Urban Meyer look like he's losing it?

I'll spare you the professional details but the gist of her diagnosis was 1) Except in literally the most extreme case of megalomania with narcissistic personality disorder ever recorded, it's impossible to make a clinical diagnosis by watching a person on television, and 2) That's exactly what I look like when I watch Michigan.

Man Watches Sports is a controlled mental disorder. Our fake association with the outcome of a meaningless competitive event decided by randomness and an unequal system of advantages does in fact serve a few purposes. It's a way to belong, and a way to feel unmitigated success in a complex world where the payoffs of victory are abstract and delayed. The losing is good for a different reason: It is a way to break from the constraints of our rational lives and practice being in a state of distress. Your human brain is not wired to believe, on any given Friday, that today is the day you'll lose your livelihood, lose your dog, lose your dad, or find out your best friend at work has to retire at 30 from a disease that the social net doesn't even believe is real. The preparation you put in in practice will show on the field when it's your turn.

That wiring is also the reason that extremely lucky humans tend to mistake felicity for the natural way of things, and pout like spoiled children when they get a small taste of life for everyone else. Ohio State in the Age of Meyer has had it too good. The first time Urban coached The Game the elite athletes he inherited carried pharisaical Tressel off the field. He won a national championship two years later with the all-NFL defense Tressel left him, and a third string quarterback who meritocratically ought to have been starting over the other two. USC got caught lying about the same emolument schemes at the same time, and they're still in Clay Helton Hell to this day.

Urban's record in The Game is both a perfect 6-0, and extremely lucky not to be 2-4, despite a vastly superior team in all but one contest. Last year he again got ham blasted in every aspect of coaching except the recruitment of third string quarterbacks. It's no wonder that a man so favored by fortune should think he could tell bald-faced lies about the garbage assistant he covered for for years, then squeal at the unfairness of it all when the failed institution he so thoroughly corrupted could only get his fireable offense reduced to a week's vacation and three days off from televised therapy.

It's also the reason that Ohio State fans—including Meyer—are doing so much Man Watches Sports this year. Their offense, though schematically closer to the modern NFL than the college game Urban helped shape, is just as lethal as ever. This bad new feeling that's got Buckeyes pacing their living rooms and sidelines is all about having to work through what the common man's defense feels like. It's not a disaster like, say, Michigan's offense last year. Ohio State is 52nd in scoring defense, and 38th in S&P+, in a word: average. They've got a hole at boundary safety, and not quite enough first-class mercenaries trained up to cover for it.

But they're also already a lock to finish at least a game-and-a-half over their expected win total by coming out ahead in two coinflip games and two more dice rolls where they had to get a three or higher. One more catchable throw by a backup QB last week and Michigan's already the Champions of the East while Ohio State fans are left to grumble that the receiver was only open because an offensive lineman blatantly blocked his coverage. Every other sports fan outside of Alabama knows exactly what that's like; an Ohio State student today believes misfortune is having to spend a year with Luke Fickell in charge. Roll a five or a six tomorrow and the super-privileged will get to parade around in their gold pants yet again.

Probabilities, however, cannot account for individual mental states, nor the result of long-developing processes when the payoff has been artificially delayed. Judging by the last three years, Harbaugh's best offensive gameplan in 2018 will be tomorrow's, and the entire arc of his program has been toward preparing this year's charges to play the best game of their careers. That's no guarantee of a win—Michigan remains one snap away from another third-string quarterback, Runyan and JBB/Stueber get another elite edge test, and the interior of Warinner's reclamation project hasn't faced a pair of DTs of this caliber since their 2017 Orange Bowl practices.

I'm terrified, as any sane Michigan fan ought to be given the circumstances. But given what I've seen of Ohio State's defense on film, rationally, I think it's time that the Buckeyes to get some practice for life's real disasters.

The Film: Indiana because I wasn't going to waste last week actually watching Indiana, and Maryland because it's the most recent game against the most recent personnel, and because Maryland's offense is built around a running quarterback in an advanced, condensed, whipsaw scheme that mercilessly tests your assignments, and has to live with an offensive line of basically five guards. I also watched the rest of their games this year in the course of being a Big Ten football person.

The diagram:


PDF Version, full-size version (or click on the image).

The Charting:


[the breakdown after THE JUMP]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State 2018 Offense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State 2018 Offense Comment Count

Seth November 22nd, 2018 at 10:09 AM

Resources: My charting, OSU game notes, OSU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats, 11W Snap Tracker

The longer a leader lasts, the more that leader's followers will take on his or her personality. Ohio State's offense is in its seventh year of Urban Meyer, and for the most part it remains a model of efficiency. Their base play is "Mesh," the play ruled the most efficient in football, which formed the basis of the Air Raid offense. Their base run is an inside zone with a bubble read that gets two yards from the offensive line and three more from a running back burrowing forward.

His roster is built with the 4- and 5-stars statistics say will most likely be ready to contribute early and round into all-conference and NFL sorts—all but one player who gets significant snaps was in the composite Top 250 out of high school, and most of these guys were Top 100. Every offensive lineman was somebody's coveted left tackle, every receiver a gamebreaker, every tight end a matchup nightmare, every back a five-tool player. While everybody's talents are out there in theory, they're rarely used because the most efficient way to move the ball is burrowing through zone gaps and outpacing linebackers on crossing routes.

Rumors of this offense's demise with the graduation of JT Barrett are unfounded: They were 7th last year to MGofavorite fancystat S&P+; this year they're 8th. But the character has changed.

The film: I charted two games—one against a bad defense and one against a good one. The bad was Indiana because I could do it while pretending to give two fucks about Indiana all last week. The good was that awful, O'Neill-officiated Michigan State game from a couple weeks ago. That went into the 4th quarter 9-6 despite Sparty QBs throwing a combined 18/48, and three Rocky Lombardi carries accounting for 49 of State's 54 (non-sack adjusted) rushing yards. I did not watch that part. I had to watch the other part, however. MSU is 4th in S&P+ defense. The only other defense in the Top 40 that the Buckeyes have faced all year is Penn State, on September 29th, and after that game they changed their approach, dumping the RPOs in favor of just letting Haskins sling it to the slots.

Personnel: My diagram:


PDF Version, larger version (or click the image)

My cyan'ing is relative, but I actually charted everybody for this game. We'll scoot through the guys you know because we'll meet them again further down: QB Dwayne Haskins is sawft Chad Henne, RBs JK Dobbins and Mike Weber are compact guys with extremely good balance and vision, and H receivers Parris Campbell and KJ Hill are videogame sprites from an early version of Madden that overdid it on the speed burst button. Like Indiana last week, OSU's offense is built on getting the slots the ball with room to YAC.

The non-slot targets are all fast and athletic but each has a pair of extra positive characteristics: WR Terry McLaurin (14 yards per target) is the most dangerous deep man and can run after the catch. WR Johnnie Dixon (10 YPT) is a plus blocker and the better route runner. WR Binjimen Victor (11 YPT) is the large, leapier dude. They're finishing the season without the burly possession type Austin Mack, playing surehanded freshman zone-slicer/former badly desired Michigan target WR Chris Olave (12 YPT) in his stead. TE Luke Farrell is a lot like Ian Bunting—a big target with skillet hands who's willing and unable at blocking. Backup TE Rashod Berry is a DE convert and better blocker, but he can get you a stiff arm and some YAC in the passing game.

As for the offensive line, we're going to have to talk after the jump.

[the talk, after THE JUMP]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Indiana 2018 Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Indiana 2018 Defense Comment Count

Seth November 16th, 2018 at 9:49 AM

Previously: The Offense

Resources: My charting, IU game notes, IU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats Also a huge thank you to MGoArchive for providing the footage.

Tom Allen's single-year turnaround of #CHAOSTEAM can't be understated. It earned him the head coaching job when Kevin Wilson was let go. Last year proved it was no fluke; Allen's defense finished just outside the Top 25 in most fancystats, and littered my diagram with stars.

This year was expected to be the rebuild, Discount 2017 Michigan, if you will, when the Indiana Hills and Longs and Bushes and Winovichia replace the inherited Lewises, Striblings, Gedeons and Tacos, take a step back because they're all sophomores, but portend great things once Allen's guys in Allen's system are all shaving. So far, those guys are all no-shows. Other than some part-time starters in a shaky secondary everyone on the field either was in Bloomington or committed to be before Allen was.

The film: What if Michigan was an up-tempo spread team with a stand-and-deliver quarterback who got the ball out quickly to his slot receivers all the time? And then imagine if it went against Indiana's defense? What would that even be like? I was wondering the same thing so I found…okay you got me. Also I've been using Tom Allen's defense as a stand-in for Michigan's all year so I didn't bother wasting precious The Game scouting time for another game.

The diagram:


PDF Version, full-size version (or click on the image)

Whereas last year Indiana had a star on every level this year each position group has a problem. The official depth chart has NT Mike Barwick starting over NT Ja'Merez Bowen but both rotate equally, with Syracuse transfer NT Kayton Samuels occasionally spelling them. DT Jerome Johnson split time last year with DT Jacob Robinson who is expected back for this game. None of these guys is liable to do more than push back and maybe knock a lineman upfield. Ditto SDE Gavin Everett, but his pass-rushing freshman backups are a huge liability on standard downs. WDE Allen Stallings and backup WDE Nile Sykes have just 4 sacks and 8.5 TFLs between them.

Linebacker issues were expected, and are extant. MLB Dameon Willis is that undersized guy we played last year and gets positive press for being second on the team in tackles, but PFF (54 grade on the year) hates him, and my charting (+6/-10) was hit-and-miss, with lots of missed tackles and coverage issues. Both of his ILB mates might be out. WLB Reakwon Jones (+10/-13 in this game) is volatile: a knife when he knows where to go and hesitant when he's got to read something. He is listed as questionable and the less likely to be available. Backup WLB T.D. Roof, a Georgia Tech transfer, returned from his own ding against Maryland but is back to questionable this week. He's also hesitant and tends to wander out of his lanes. The next guy on the depth chart, LB Thomas Allen, is a redshirt freshman and played some in this game but I couldn't get much of a read on him. LB Micah McFadden is a true freshman and  "Husky" #HybridSpacePlayerTerms Marcelino Ball is a serious athlete but much less of a threat now as a cover 2 slot defender, which exposes his tendency to bust assignments. Backup HSP Cam Jones is another in Ball's mold.

The corners are all guys who've started opposite Rashard Fant, and none are Rashard Fant. CB Andre Brown is better at Fant's boundary role than he was playing in all that space. The two guys who used to start ahead of him, CB A'Shon Riggins and CB Raheem Layne have to be driving Allen mad: Riggins gives up a ton of cushion while Layne tries to pick off everything. Both strategies are justifiable in this defense because they're often covering for SS Khalil Bryant, a lost puppy who was finally replaced last week with redshirt freshman SS Bryant Fitzgerald, who is a younger lost puppy. Classmate Juwan Burgess was supposed to win that job, but has been grooming instead to replace FS Jonathan Crawford, who has been starting so long he features on Jehu Chesson's highlight reel, and is back to his photobombing pictures of other peoples' touchdowns ways. If CB Jaylin Williams (#23) steps on the field throw at him immediately.

[after THE JUMP: meh]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Indiana 2018 Offense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Indiana 2018 Offense Comment Count

Seth November 15th, 2018 at 10:38 AM

Resources: My charting, IU game notes, IU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

I respect Indiana. When we talk about the vast ethical shortcomings of our division rivals, Indiana is our version of nisi Vanderbiltum. Kevin Wilson, their best hire since Mallory, built a modern, terrifying stretch zone & bomb machine that tore up Michigan's 2015 defense on the ground. And IU fired him immediately when concerns surfaced about player safety in Wilson's tough-guy program culture, despite what that would mean from a competitive standpoint.

Indiana also took the extra, and unnecessary, step of hiring Mike DeBord to run their offense.

Tell me that's not how every college football program ought to act?

The film: I tried to choose another defense with linebackers athletic enough to try to man up IU's slot receivers and pressure the quarterback, since so many IU opponents this year were content to sit back and let sophomore QB Peyton Ramsey pick away. I had to go back to early October, but I found a ranked Big Ten East matchup with some team Michigan hasn't played. This game ended 26-49 but competitive until well into the 4th quarter. In fact IU's kicker missed a 50-yard field goal at the end of the 3rd that would have put the Hoosiers within 6 points, ground that might have been covered by any of several wide open bombs that Ramsey overthrew. It got away from them in the end, but still, IU got to run their offense in a hostile environment against a team that likes to blitz, and that's why I chose this game. Why, what reason did you think?

Personnel: Bad news guys: No Whop.

FFFF IU Offense 2018

PDF Version, larger version (or click the image)

The roster is very spread and features the slot receivers in hopes of running them into space for YAC. Slot Luke Timian, the multi-transfer walk-on, missed this game, however he was legitimately ahead of name-fave Whop Philyor before the latter lost most of this year to a high ankle sprain. Whop's role has been filled by J-Shun Harris, the exciting little bugger who's spent most of the last four years recovering from his own ailments, plus freshman ATH Taylor Reese, and the rest of the RB depth chart he's shared with. All of these guys have more targets than Grant Perry.

The OL are mostly Frey recruits who barely crested 300; C Nick Linder grad transferred from Miami (yes THAT Miami) and took over midseason from (and still cedes snaps to) last year's starting C Hunter Littlejohn. Littlejohn is vastly more likely to screw up his assignment, but Linder seems much more likely to screw up everyone else's. RT Brandon Knight and LG Wes Martin are good pass blockers. RG Simon Stepaniak is more volatile. LT Coy Cronk has been starting since he was a true freshman, and got worked like one even with plenty of RB and TE help. That may have been a result of going against an excellent young DE the announcers liked whose name was Chase, but if Cronk's weakness is all-conference-ish edge rushers named Chase I've got bad news for him this week. Cronk's also had a hard time staying healthy. IU tried Stepaniak, then a backup guard, then a 6-8 freshman when Cronk has to step out. A quick review of the last box score shows this still happens.

WR Nick Westbrook is a major threat because he can adjust so well to deep balls; fellow experienced WR Donavan Hale does not, and is in the process of getting passed by the kid, WR Ty Fryfogle, an underrated athlete and ultra-rare escapee from the black hole of Mississippi. Tight ends are non-blocking, bigged-up WR types; freshman Peyton Hendershot will chunk you on a seam route once a game but TE Austin Dorris is just a short range guy. The slots are the main method of moving the ball.

Nominal running backs are just that, except the 20% of the time that they're slot receivers. With Morgan Ellison out all year large freshman RB Stevie Scott gets most of their carries; top backup RB Mike Majette is a 3rd down specialist with more receptions than handoffs. 3rd stringer RB Ronnie Walker, another freshman, has just 12 touches in the last five weeks.

[the rest of the breakdown, after THE JUMP]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Rutgers 2018 Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Rutgers 2018 Defense Comment Count

Seth November 9th, 2018 at 10:18 AM

Previously: The Offense

Resources: My charting, RU game notes, RU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

You gotta wonder right now if Ohio State and Rutgers ever thought of trading back. Buckeye secondary coach/DC Greg Schiano is a legend in Piscataway, but the single-high man-all-day defense he's installed there, while a good way to use that talent advantage without having to do a ton of coaching, isn't putting up the results Ohio State fans came to expect during their Quarters Period with Ash. Meanwhile at Rutger Ash has proven himself an eminently capable secondary coach. Three years of recruiting the secondary and installing his schemes in the secondary is finally starting to pay off in the secondary. And if opponents ever did have to pass against Rutger, I'm sure they'd be wary about passing into that secondary.

The film: Wisconsin shoved Rutgers downfield all day. Sometimes they went down and snapped it again, but that wasn't always the case.

That came after a very Wisconsin drive that featured 12 straight runs down the middle.

The diagram:


PDF Version, full-size version (or click on the image)

They're 94th in S&P+ defense but the personnel isn't as hopeless as on offense on an individual level. NT Willington Previlon will play either DT spot and I don't know why they spend more time with DT Jon Bateky on the field than NT Julius Turner, a guy I compared to Renes last year because he's a burrower. SDE Kevin Wilkins is another DT type I like less than his backup, redshirt freshman DE Mike Tverdov, who rotates equally with both DEs and leads the team in sacks. The new rush end is WDE Elorm Lumor, who leads the team with 6 TFLs and yes you can find an article that points out this is more than Rashan Gary has this year. On passing downs they go to a 3-3-5 with Previlon, Tverdov, and Lumor.

The secondary is again with out 2016 star corner Blessuan Austin but has the poor man's Marlin Jackson CB Isaiah Wharton around, though there's no reason to throw his way. When they lost all three of last year's safety rotation—one a transfer to FIU, one a behavioral dismissal, and their slot-turned-SS to the San Diego Padres—in the offseason I suggested Wharton might move to safety, but Rutgers instead moved the guy who was Austin's quite decent replacement last year, now-SS Damon Hayes. They also got back athletic (once earned a Don Brown offer) FS Saquan Hampton, who was injured last year. Hampton had two picks in this game but isn't a great help in run defense. When they go nickel they bring back that FIU transfer, SS Kiy Hester, who had to cancel his Florida plans because he hadn't graduated. Hester comes in as the safety while Hayes moves down to the slot.

You'll note I skipped the linebackers. They're still the same guys from last year.  Two-year captain and beatwriter-beloved MLB Deonte Roberts is probably a very honest guy because he doesn't believe in counter action or play-action. HSP Tyreek Maddox-Williams is back off a medshirt and splitting time with the more safety-like OLB Olakunle Fatukasi, who's the better blitzer. And then there's longtime WLB Trevor Morris, who I'm going to try not to bag on too much. Wisconsin ran half of their base offense (24 plays) at him or his backup WLB Tyshon Fogg, and those rushes averaged 8.04 YPC. Michigan did the same last year. It probably really sucks to be the reason your team sucks.

[after THE JUMP: bagging too much on Trevor Morris]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Rutgers 2018 Offense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Rutgers 2018 Offense Comment Count

Seth November 8th, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Resources: My charting, RU game notes, RU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

I thought Chris Ash's first hire at Rutgers made a lot of sense. Coming from Ohio State, Chris Ash had access to Urban Meyer's offensive tree and plucked the nearly ripened slot bug zealot Drew Mehringer to run spread smurf Janarion Grant all over the place. But Mehringer left within a year to be Texas WRs coach, and Ash replaced him with Jerry Kill.

This made some sense. Kill was best known for his Minnesota offenses made out of meatball power-blocking linemen, a 6-5 running back at QB, and motioning slot receivers. Hang some muscle on whatever linemen are around, find a bowling ball for a running back (Rutgers is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the Every RB Rutgers Recruits is Good rule) and convince a tight end prospect he doesn't really have to give up QB, and the spread smurfs of the Northeast can fill in the blanks. But of course Kill couldn't last, nor make Gio Rescigno into a halfway competent FBS quarterback except for one slot fade against Tyree Kinnel that one time.

John McNulty? Uh… He's a… Well he's a former Penn State guy who cut his teeth as a Gary Moeller receivers GA at Michigan. He's spent the better part of his career as a WR (occasionally QBs) coach in the NFL. Really this 1990s pro-style offensive coach makes exactly one kind of sense: He was Schiano's OC at Rutgers.

The film: Maybe the most recent game against Wisconsin would be a better example of what they'd look like against Michigan, except Tom Allen's defense is better and more like Don Brown's. So: INDIANA! Also this is the only opponent they've faced since Texas State in which the Bill C postgame win expectancy (35% in this game) or the percentile performance (23%) for the offense climbed over 15%. Is that Michigan's next opponent? I didn't realize. One game at a time.

Personnel: So here's a good week to remind everyone that Foe Film is an exercise in relativity—dangermen and trouble spots are somewhat relative to the rest of the team. Anyway my diagram:


PDF Version, larger version (or click the image)

McNulty doesn't have much to work with, which isn't that surprising considering he's the ninth OC in the last nine years at Rutger (and the only two-termer). The closest thing to a top-250 composite player on the field is former Michigan target (and Ahmir Mitchell teammate) WR Bo Melton, who was 252nd and had even a Rutger-relative dangerman star far just out of his grasp like half the passes thrown his way. The rest of the receivers are freshmen collecting 5 yards per target or less. WR Shameen Jones is only object that at all resembles an outside receiver, and his 34% catch rate and 4.4 YPT could stand in for the whole team's downfield success rate. True freshman WR Eddie Lewis has better stats but 111 of his 173 yards came against Texas State, Kansas, Buffalo, and Illinois. The only consistent targets are the star running back, who doubles as a slot receiver, and senior TE Jerome Washington.

That running back though. RB/Slot Raheem Blackshear is the Rutger offense. Since he's tiny, returns kicks, and runs all over the field, grad transfer backup RB Jonathan Hilliman gets a lot of run, especially near the goal line. Hilliman had 2,000 yards as the plowhorse for Boston College before a certain Michigan decommit usurped his job. Third RB gets as many carries as #2; true freshman QB convert ATH Isaih Pacheco is a Chris Evans type right down to the listed weight that seems 15 pounds too high.

True freshman QB Artur Sitkowski started last year for IMG so he's more polished than your usual 18-year-old, but that's Rutger-relative: the guy has already thrown 15 picks this year and given how many balls he flung at defenders in this one he's insanely lucky that's not 20.

He's also standing behind that awful offensive line. Light-footed LT Tariq Cole is closer to a cyan than the NFL prospect PFF made him out to be a few years ago. RT Kamaal Seymour is still a some-run no-pass pro problem they're stuck with. Ditto C Michael Maietti, who's no better at line calls this year. RG Jonah Jackson is the only guy the Rutgers beat has any confidence in, and that confidence disappears after they're done talking about his run blocking.

The other guard spot has been a disaster. LG Mike Lonsdorf is a good enough guess if you're trying to peg the worst starter on a Power 5 team this year. Despite getting pulled all the time, DORF is unkillable due to the state of his backups. Top-150 sophomore Micah Clark is taking a redshirt after failing to solve the Seymour problem last year, preseason competition Sam Vretman is out for the season, and the starting career of Nick Krimin lasted one week in September. This week Rutgers will try OL Zach Venesky, who's fresh off getting owned by Wisconsin's DEs (remember them?) DORF is also the only guy they have if a tackle goes out.

[the rest of the breakdown, after THE JUMP]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Penn State Defense 2018

Fee Fi Foe Film: Penn State Defense 2018 Comment Count

Seth November 2nd, 2018 at 10:18 AM

Previously: The Offense

Resources: My charting, PSU game notes, PSU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

In 2016 a banged up, still-forming Penn State team came to Ann Arbor starting a too-small DT, a too-small CB, and whatever they could scrounge up at linebacker, which turned out to be a guy who looked like a tight end, a walk-on they found on the wrestling team, and a safety who converted to 4-3 under SAM that week. Last year none of them were full-time starters (the TE-shaped man and the safety platooned at SAM). Now they are again.

Penn State's defense graduated a lot of guys and is hanging in there thanks to a 15th-ranked pass defense to S&P+. And finally, for once, the stats accurately describe the team you see on film. They have found some decent pieces among the new guys, but since their only true linebacker is a redshirt freshman (and not ready for extended play) they are having to play the linebackers hyper-aggressively against the run. In due course their safeties are substantially more chill. That results in the 54th run defense but the 19th in stuff rate--either they'll get you down after 1 or 2 yards, or you'll get 11 or 12 beneath the shell. Their pass defense has been helped by rain and comically bad quarterbacking (especially Nate Stanley last week), but Bill C thinks they've got terrible turnover luck and that evens things out. After watching a few games and charting the dumbest one, I think the defense has the same profile as the offense: linebackers chasing things that don't exist, and nobody can catch a dang ball.

The Film: Heh. I went with Iowa. Yeah the one in the rain last week with Nate Stanley throwing everything to Tacopants and Nachoshorts. The one where the punter threw a touchdown pass to a lineman, and Iowa threw an interception near the endzone because Fant didn't think he had to play football that moment. At one point Iowa's center snapped it into Stanley's balls when he wasn't expecting it, and that doesn't make the top three worst snaps in the game. I did this because the rest of their Big Ten competition so far has been Ohio State, Michigan State, and Indiana. Plus I only got to listen to this game on the radio last Saturday and needed a reason to watch it. Also they have functional tight ends. Most of the time.

The diagram:


PDF Version, full-size version (or click on the image)

So a week before this the backup DE Shaka Toney was PFF's player of the week. He's a slippery pass rusher but the guys he's behind deserve to be ahead of him. DE Shareef Miller belongs on the weakside but they're using more wide fronts now that let him play like an MSU DE or dive inside. The reason Miller's out there is sophomore DE Yetur Gross-Matos, a top-200 player last year, has bulked up and exploded, leading the team with 12.5 TFLs and 6 sacks. It's graduation day.

On the inside are a couple of light DTs with good rip moves. This makes 3T Kevin Givens a true dangerman in a future Dwumfour way—he is not a nose. NT Robert Windsor is another Dwumfourish character but that's less forgivable where he plays. Windsor is either moving guys backwards or getting blown down five yards—I came close to both cyan'ing and starring him in the course of this scout. Their shared backup Fred Hansard is out for the season after a play that should keep us the solidly second-most hated team in Michigan to PSU fans. That hurts: NT Antonio Shelton is big but plays high, and true freshman blue chip (74th in the 247 composite) DT PJ Mustipher is not quite ready.

The outside linebackers are the pair who used to platoon the hybrid spot. SAM Cam Brown is still a most unusual dude who can match a Gentry for height and speed and struggles in tackling. Former safety/WLB Koa Farmer bulked up to play inside but that just removed his speed and subjected him to blocks he was never meant to handle. MLB Jan Johnson is a former walk-on they borrowed from the wrestling team way back during Linebackergeddon'15. He's starting after an offseason of trying to slip Manny Bowen back onto the team without the serious academic people noticing (Narrator: They did.), and toying with whether their 5-star WDE prospect might be a secret Mike (Narrator: He wasn't.). The latter is nominal SAM Micah Parsons, this year's #7 overall prospect to 247, who this year more or less a Mario Ojemudia-in-high-school-style defensive tackle on passing downs. Fellow edge specialist DE/OLB Shane Simmons also rotates in on pass rush packages. Freshman MLB Ellis Brooks was a low 4-star and gets some run but hasn't played enough yet for me to get a read on him. Also he's behind all of that.

[after THE JUMP: the good part]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Penn State Offense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Penn State Offense Comment Count

Seth November 1st, 2018 at 10:18 AM

Resources: My charting, PSU game notes, PSU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

There's a kind of football coach who revels in the engineering of it. These coaches love to understand how a play works down to the barest detail, then design something new from it that works because of all these other reasons. Inevitably most of these tinkerers are victims of their own success. Mouse Davis ended his career the wide receivers coach of Hawaii. Hal Mumme is currently the OC of Jackson State. And Joe Moorhead is the latest in a long line of football coaches whose families severely regret not pulling up a Google Map street view of Starkville, Mississippi before agreeing to live there.

The neat gadgets and new ways to toy with read options are all still in the playbook, as are the RPOs, the play-action off RPO, the screens, every running play ever conceived with a zone read added to it, a thing that might be a fake screen to the backup quarterback tied to an inverted QB belly dive, and the quarterback they built to operate all of it. What it's missing is the architect. Also the bombs.

The film: I used the bye week to get ahead and watched the Indiana game, again because they run the closest thing to Michigan's base defense and Michigan's level of blitzitude. I also had the MSU game that I'd already charted for the Spartans previews.

Personnel: My diagram:


PDF Version, larger version (or click the image)

The new offensive lineman is C Miichal Menet, a top-30 2017 guy who pushed RG Connor McGovern out to guard. LT Ryan Bates was a PFF star last year and he's decent but not a great pass protector. RG Steven Gonzalez is a big leaner and was a few more bad plays from a cyan. Keeping him from hit was RT Will Fries, who was bad for a freshman last year and seems to have gotten worse. These guys all got worked against MSU's good defensive linemen but Fries struggled against everybody.

The receivers have struggled as a group despite some individual stars. Slot KJ Hamler is great but very much a slot. WR Juwan Johnson is way too fast for a guy his size but also has been a big part of PSU's league-leading drop rate. He's spelled by WR Cam Sullivan-Brown, a redshirt freshman who flashes both tantalizing potential and obscenely bad routes (WR at the bottom of the screen). The other receiver position rotates more slot guys. WR DeAndre Thompkins is spending his last year out of position and losing snaps to WR Brandon Polk, who's even smaller and droppier. The tight ends are alright—like Michigan they're receiver types. True freshman TE Pat Freiermuth has future star potential, runs excellent routes, and already stole the job from TE Nick Bowers, who still gets half the snaps.

The backfield is stocked for the foreseeable future with 5-star running backs. RB Miles Sanders isn't Barkley but he was a top-25 recruit, is a receiving threat out of the backfield, and can put on a show:

He was a bit of a fumbler last year and that popped up against last week against Iowa. Since QB Trace McSorley carries half the running load RB Ricky Slade, a scattier version of Sanders, doesn't get a lot of run.

[the rest of the breakdown, after THE JUMP]


Fee Fi Foe Film: Michigan State Defense 2018

Fee Fi Foe Film: Michigan State Defense 2018 Comment Count

Seth October 19th, 2018 at 10:07 AM

Previously: The Offense, MSU's defense last year

Resources: My charting, MSU game notes, MSU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

Michigan State runs a…

Lemme guess: a match quarters defense.

Yes, which…

squeezes the linebackers inside and plays their safeties super-aggressively against the run.

Right, and this…

stifles outside runs, but opens up deep passes behind the safeties who are not super-athletic. But they get away with that because the quarterbacks they face are either butt, or playing in a rainstorm, or suddenly become butt when they're playing Michigan State for no reason, or just forget they're allowed to throw.

I feel like you're read this before.

They return 10/11 starters from last year. Also I have been living in this state this millennium. Do they have a Bullough at middle linebacker?

Yes, but he's not starting. Instead there's a guy named Joe Bachie…

…who can cover multiple A gaps and won't stay blocked, so you don't want to run at him, and anyway their DTs are excellent at squeezing those gaps shut, but they're also built to stop all outside runs so it's either run over Bullough…


…Bachie or throw over the safeties, which we can't do because we have a Big Ten quarterback who can't hit wide open bombs?

Dude, Shea is GREAT at wide open bombs!

Oh? What's the forecast on Saturday?

Rain, but only from 12 to 3pm.

So Dantonio just has a deal with the…

interim president of Michigan State University, John Engler.

eo nomine.

The Film: PSU-MSU again. Michigan's not a Speedy Eaglet offense (and yes, we're sore about that), but it was always going to be this game. FWIW the officiating atrocities didn't quite even out but Penn State won back a lot of OL tackles.

My diagram:


PDF Version, full-size version (or click on the image)

[after THE JUMP: same story, same names]