Let's Not Talk About Slight Indigestion

Let's Not Talk About Slight Indigestion

Submitted by Brian on September 27th, 2010 at 12:00 PM

9/25/2010 – Michigan 65, Bowling Green 21 – 4-0

Torehan Sharman/Daily

It's been a long time since this has happened, but in the aftermath of a 721-yard outburst against a I-A opponent there's no grand emotional narrative arc to relate. Last year there was a sense of relief after the Western game; the Eastern game was a reminder that sometimes Michigan plays teams obviously worse than they are and beats the pants off them and isn't that nice but sometimes the quarterback goes down and that's not nice at all. The Bowling Green game was that minus a loss to a 3-9 MAC team the year prior—i.e., a pleasant nothing in which crappy special teams play was just an opportunity to rack up more yards on offense.

There was a bout of slight indigestion when it was 21-14, but in the aftermath of an offensive performance in which Michigan scored 9 touchdowns on 11 drives (and kind of scored two more on the drives that technically came up empty) complaining about that would miss the forest for the trees. I mean, Michigan took the admonition to "STOP KICKING THE DAMN BALL" from the preview literally. I can't even make yet another impassioned plea against I-AA games since Bowling Green is part of the MAC, as I did after last year's silly offensive yardage number. So let's just get to the bullets.

Well, one thing first: Tate Forcier seems pretty level-headed for a guy the internet spent most of eight months deriding as an immature quitter bound to transfer ten seconds after Denard stepped on to the field against UConn and he declared himself "out" in the aftermath.

Somehow he's still here. He could have gone. He could have put in his papers like LaLota or Turner and spent a redshirt year somewhere else and preserved a year of eligibility and had three years to compete on a two-deep that doesn't feature Denard Robinson. But he's here, picking up small children in #16 jerseys after going 12 of 12 and running around on broken plays despite being obviously gimpy.

TATE: "Hey, kid. The offense scored a touchdown on every drive I had a part in."
SMALL CHILD: "Hold me up higher so I can see Denard."

My fiancée starts rooting for the other team whenever they are obviously overmatched, something that happened seven minutes into Saturday's game. She made an exception when Forcier rolled on the field. After the game he said he loved Michigan and would never go anywhere. You can't blame him if that turns out to be untrue, but I hope he stays around. I've got a feeling Michigan is going to need him.


Denard. Fine. Jumping higher than mortals for no reason late in a blowout:

25 September 2010: Quarterbacks Devin Gardner (7) and Denard Robinson (16) of the University of Michigan jump in the air to celebrate a Gardner touchdown as the Wolverines defeat the Bowling Green State University Falcons 65-21 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI.

Lon Horwedel/AnnArbor.com

Would have liked to see him get a couple more drives and finish his day with 200 yards rushing on ten carries just on the off chance he leads Michigan to enough stunning shootout wins to hit up the Heisman ceremony with a serious chance to win, but the important thing is that he's healthy. If he doesn't stop doing this, however, I am going to die with worry.

Number two. IME, Forcier. Gardner was certainly impressive downfield but on first glance seemed to make a ton of mistakes running the zone read and even when he did get some room displayed a nasty tendency to cut everything outside like he's still in high school, turning 6-8 yard gains into 2-3 yard gains. Forcier was crisper despite his status as Michigan's nominal #3.

Devin Gardner redshirt conspiracy. Yes, I am a one man Rubicon when it comes to this: Forcier was warmly welcomed by the crowd and got another big cheer when he came off the field late, then spent the postgame press conference saying things about how he will never, ever transfer. If that is true, that could be huge for the 2014 Wolverines because it might provide an opportunity for Gardner to redshirt next year. I want my fifth year senior Gardner, dammit.

Have I been advocating for this publicly? Someone gave me a shout out on the twitters when Michigan debuted a punt formation featuring three returners, so I must have been crabbing for it at some point.

I've been grumbling vaguely about the necessity for a second returner in this space for a while, but when Michigan came out in their new punt return formation on Saturday I was livid at myself for describing exactly what Michigan should do against spread punt formations during my Thursday WTKA appearance… during the commercials. Doh.

Anyway, the situation:

  • The spread punt formation has virtually erased punt returns.
  • Spread punting is almost impossible to fake out of as long as you rush the punter and cover the outside guys on the line.
  • A single punt returner is insufficient in an era of line-drive rugby kicks.

The response I suggested (in the commercials) and Michigan implemented exactly:

  • Two cornerbacks line up over the outside guys and cover/block them.
  • Six guys charge after the punter on every snap to prevent fakes and maybe block a couple punts.
  • Three returners are spread across the field so that Michigan fields almost every punt and maybe gets a return or two.

A friend of mine also pointed out that since punt coverage guys are focused on the returners, not the ball, having multiple guys back there has the potential to confuse them. If the ball's coming down to Dileo and Gallon's moving upfield like he's going to field a short one, the coverage team has an unpleasant choice between splitting their duties between all three guys and teaching their guys to look up and find the ball, forcing them to take their eyes off their destination and possibly exposing them to killshot blocks.

The results in game one of the experiment were encouraging. Michigan fielded all but one punt and got some of those return things—what are they called—oh yeah—yards. Dileo looked as smooth as promised, fielding punts and making one or two guys miss before getting tackled.

I don't think Michigan can pull off the triple return threat against a conventional formation since it would be vulnerable to fakes, but against spread punt teams they should use it all the time.

The other thing I was advocating for was the deployment of a Wolverine Heavy package and we sort of saw one near the goal line. Koger and Webb lined up as H-backs, there was a tailback, and Michigan ground forward as you might expect. That's not quite Heavy, in which there are two tight ends, two H-backs, and no one in the backfield except a tank, but the flexibility provided by the H-backs should make short yardage hard to stop; I'd like it if M put one of the TEs on the line and brought in McColgan.

Corner what. The third and final thing Michigan debuted was a dime package in which the MLB and one of the DEs come off the field in favor of two additional cornerbacks on passing downs. JT Floyd dropped back to deep safety with Gordon; Kovacs stayed underneath. This also gets a thumbs up assuming the freshmen corners can cover people. This is not certain, but it's hard to imagine them being worse at it than Roh or Ezeh, no offense to either.

Here's a confusing thing: Cullen Christian has practiced with the ones in warmups two of the last three weeks. I thought he was going to start against Notre Dame because of it. But when Michigan brought in its dime it was Talbott and Avery getting the PT; Christian alternated some with Rogers. The first bit implies that Christian is the #3 corner; the second implies he's the #5. Maybe the freshmen have different responsibilities in the dime package and they're working the players in at different positions until they learn both.

Running back mess, verdict, no verdict. Shaw continues to look like the best tailback available. As long as he's running hard and finding the lanes, something he's done a much better job of lately, he's the #1 guy. Smith was okay but as the games pass it seems more and more indisputable that he's lost some burst after the ACL surgery and probably won't be full strength until 2011.

Of the four backups, Cox seemed the most impressive in limited time since Toussaint's runs came on vast, gaping holes in the line. Also, he got run down by a MAC linebacker. What's up with that, Fred Jackson? (A: he's still wearing a knee brace and is not 100%. People of twitter: I was joking.)

Preview: 2011. Late in the game we got answers to obscure personnel questions:

  • What position does Brandin Hawthorne play? Spur.
  • What position does Steve Watson play? Defensive end.
  • Who is the primary backup at guard? Ricky Barnum.
  • What's the deal with Kenny Demens? Oh, there he is.

Michigan also got a preview of its 2011 offensive line when Perry Dorrestein "got a hangnail or something." Taylor Lewan was entrenched at left tackle so Huyge came in to play on the right, and Michigan lifted Steve Schilling for Ricky Barnum. That is 99% likely to be your '11 starting OL down to the positions: Lewan-Barnum-Molk-Omameh-Huyge. They got lifted for backups on the next drive.


Photo galleries from the Daily, MVictors, Maize N Blue Nation, . MVictors' pregame shots feature "Little Miss Buckeye State" decked out in the colors of her favorite team.

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs UMass

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs UMass

Submitted by Brian on September 23rd, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Formation notes: Nothing unusual from Michigan. UMass did not appear to do any substitution, staying in a 4-3 the entire game. They did occasionally shift their front to a 3-4, for what it's worth. This was usually what M went up against, with the standup DE sometimes up, sometimes down:


Substitution notes: The only major change is the one you've already heard plenty about: Taylor Lewan came in on the second series of the first half at left tackle and played the remainder of the game. Shaw and Smith again got all the RB snaps. Junior Hemingway came back and rotated in regularly; you could consider him a co-starter with Odoms and Stonum if you want. The slots were the same rotation between Roundtree, Grady, and Robinson.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 1
Correct handoff with two guys watching Robinson. Schilling(-1) and Omameh(-1) both get beaten by their OL, forcing Smith outside and allowing UMass time to shuck blocks; he's eventually run down by three guys. (ZR+1)
RUN+ RUN- Schilling, Omameh
M35 2 9 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Pass Skinny post Roundtree Inc
Linebackers bite without so much as a run fake and the OL locks out four rushers, giving Robinson a ton of time to throw. He stares down Roundtree, allowing one safety to come underneath his pass as he tosses it. He deflects the ball and the other guy, badly beaten by Roundtree, picks it off. This is exactly what happened on the pass Te'o broke up against ND: Roundtree is open for a TD but Robinson throws it on a line, allowing an underneath defender to bat it. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 9
Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) crush the playside DT backwards so far the MLB gets caught in the wash; Shaw gets a meh but good enough block on the SLB and Robinson has a crease he takes for near first down yardage.
RUN+ Molk, Omameh, Robinson RUN-
M16 2 1 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 5
We're watching OSU beat up Ohio. Thanks, BTN, I hate you. It was a short completion to Roundtree for the first. Guess: (CA, 3, protection 1/1) It's taken off the board with an illegal substitution penalty.
M21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Shaw 6
UMass shifts the line and uses the slot LB to the field side as a blitzer; correct handoff with the weakside LB scrape exchanging with the blitzer. Molk(+1), Schilling(+1), and Omameh(+1) completely destroy the NT and the single MLB, opening up a ton of room for a potential big gainer; Shaw does not perceive the backside guy and heads upfield before cutting out into the space, which gives the blitzer an angle to tackle from behind. He does get upfield quickly and drag the tackler, FWIW. (ZR+1)
RUN+ Molk, Omameh, Schilling RUN-
M27 2 4 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Yakety OMG Roundtree 73 (pen -5)
Get to this play late, too. This is Michigan's double screen play; Robinson fumbles the snap, then improvises, chucking it deep to Roundtree, who got open behind everyone just as he gets crushed; Roundtree jets for the endzone. It comes back for two separate penalties: not getting set before the play and Schilling ending up a few yards downfield. I thought you got some leeway with the latter, not that it matters. Uh... (CA+, 3, protection NA)
M22 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA circle TRob Inc + 15 pen
Half-roll after the zone fake and Robinson wings it too high for TRob on a pass that would have gained maybe five and then gotten him blown up. He still gets blown up and UMass gets a penalty for going helmet to helmet against a defenseless receiver. From the stands this looked pretty bad, FWIW. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
M37 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA slant Odoms 16
Zone read fake and then a bubble fake and then Michigan hits the slant behind it; UConn in tight man so Odoms has very little room in front of good coverage; Robinson zings it in right on the money. I'm still in a bit of disbelief when he does stuff like this. (DO, 2, protection NA)
O47 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson -1
Robinson gives a hard count and appears to get UMass offside but no call. The SLB blitzes with great timing at the snap, coming through the line, picking off the lead blocker, and forcing Robinson to cut to the backside of the play, where everything falls apart because the blocking angles are busted. (RPS-1)
O48 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Flat TRob Inc
Curl-flat combination against man; Robinson reads it right and hits TRob about three yards downfield with plenty of room to turn it up; TRob drops it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O48 3 11 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Fly Grady 43
With the safeties rolled up and a linebacker transparently in man on Grady this is a pretty easy read for Robinson. UMass loads up and sends six, with an unblocked guy coming right up the middle. Robinson steps back to give himself just enough time and chucks a 40-yard pass that basically hits Grady in stride; Grady brings in an over-the-shoulder catch and stumbles at the five. Super impressive. (DO+, 2, protection 1/3, team -2)
O5 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 4
Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) seal the playside DT and Omameh has an easy job of sealing the MLB since he's running up behind said DT. Dorrestein(+1) locks out the DE and it's Shaw one on one with a safety in a ton of space; he makes a good cut and falls forward to the goal line.
RUN+ Omameh, Molk, Dorrestein RUN-
O1 2 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Iso Shaw 1
Hurray touchdown. Molk and Omameh blow up the same DT; McColgan gets a good block on the LB, and it's easy.
RUN+ Molk, Omameh, McColgan RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 3 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Shotgun 2-back H-back 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 20
We get to watch Smith not have the ball as Robinson(+3) beats a DE set up to contain him, then beats a safety to the outside, then gets a good block from Odoms(+1) to the corner. This ends 20 yards downfield. We don't even get a replay. WOO BTN. I'd ZR-1 this but it kind of went 20 yards.
RUN+ Robinson(3), Odoms RUN-
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Sack ? -7
Looks like they're going with the zone read fake to seam combo and looks like they have Roundtree wide open; Robinson bobbles the snap and gets sacked by the blitzing LB. Not charted. This is all on Robinson; snap was perfect.
O47 2 17 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson 7
Stunt opens this up big time and this could go for a lot of yards if not for a great reaction from the MLB and Molk(-1) whiffing the block, allowing said MLB to come around and make a diving ankle tackle. (RPS+1)
RUN+ RUN- Molk
O40 3 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Sack ? -6
Robinson rolls out. UMass is blitzing a LB from that side of the field and scrapes another guy; first LB is picked up by Smith but there's no one to block the second. A pump fake from Robinson gets the guy in the air but he manages to crunch DR for an impressive sack. (PR, 0, protection NA, RPS-1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Zone read bubble Roundtree 5
First time this year they've actually thrown this, as Robinson pulls the ball with apparently no contain. A safety is coming up hard as the scraper though (first time I've seen that) and Robinson bails out into the bubble, which gets a few. (CA, 3, screen)
M21 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB off tackle Robinson 16
Opens up big as UMass slants the wrong way. Koger(+1) crushes the playside DE out of the play on a down block as Dorrestein pulls around. Shaw(+1) kicks out a LB, Dorrestein(+1) does the same, and Schilling(+1) shields the MLB out of the play. Omameh(-1) got turned around on the same guy and did not move to the safety, which is probably the only thing preventing a touchdown here. (RPS +1)
RUN+ Robinson, Koger, Schilling, Dorrestein, Shaw RUN- Omameh
M37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree 8
Not a read this time but does come with the zone fake. Stonum(+1) gets a great cut block, opening up the edge; Roundtree can probably get more than he does if he just runs up the sideline. (CA, 3, screen)
M45 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Flare Shaw 5
Snag concept minus the corner route, but the same slant/flare combo we saw a lot earlier this year. This time Robinson should probably hit the slant but chooses the flare, which he impressively drops over a retreating DE and right to Shaw, who has to deal with a LB charging at him immediately. He spins by for the first. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB stretch Robinson 8
Playside DE crushed back by Huyge(+1) and gets caught in wash behind Koger's(+1) block of the slot LB. With those guys giving ground the outside is where it's at and Robinson takes it out there, where Shaw(+1) takes out that playside LB once and for all and gives Robinson the corner.
RUN+ Shaw, Huyge, Koger RUN-
O42 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 0
DE has contain and doesn't crash so I guess this is a correct read but I'd like to see Denard pull since he's got a ton of space and can probably pwn this guy. But technically correct. So Shaw gets it. Interior line does its usual blow-back job on the interior UMass line but Dorrestein(-1) gets slanted inside of; no hole. Shaw(-1) should just run up the backs of the interior OL on second and two but attempts to spin by the backside DE and gets swallowed.
RUN+ Molk, Omameh, Schilling RUN- Robinson, Shaw, Dorrestein
O42 3 2 ? ? ? QB off tackle Robinson 17
Guh: let's watch a play from last week instead of one from this week. On replay we get some details, but the replay is a field-level view. PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH. Anyway: downblock and Omameh pulls around. Shaw(+1) gets a good block on the edge, as does Odoms(+1) and the corner is assured. No idea about the line. (RPS+1)
RUN+ Shaw, Odoms, Robinson RUN-
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 5
Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) crush the playside DT, providing a crease, with Omameh getting out on a LB and attempting to seal him to one side only to see Smith cut behind the block. Dorrestein has only done an OK job on the backside DT, who tackles. Smith(-1) could have done better here.
RUN+ Molk, Schilling RUN- Smith
O20 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith -1
UMass slants under the blocking (RPS -1), with Molk(-1) completely whiffing a DT and getting Smith nailed in the backfield. Handoff seems okay. Run minus: Molk(2)
O21 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA rollout Roundtree Inc
Rollout cuts off most of the field and a charging DE gets cut off by Schilling but still eliminates the outside and forces Robinson to pull up and throw to Roundtree, open-ish in the endzone but covered by the safety; he makes an excellent play to break it up. (CA+, 0, protection 1/1) I guess he got there a tiny bit early but i would hate it if this was called PI if I was a neutral fan.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 7-10, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Tunnel screen Stonum 67
This is mostly set up by the coverage, which is tight man on the edges. This gives Grady(+1) an easy block of the corner. Omameh(+1) comes out to plant the safety, Molk(+1) was out fast enough to make the MLB come upfield of him despite slipping, and Stonum(+3) has the speed to just plain outrun the one remaining deep safety, running through a tackle as he goes. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Run QB draw Robinson 4
Opens up big time with UMass only rushing three and dropping everyone else. Grady(+1) gets a good block on a LB; he sets up outside to keep contain. Omameh and Schilling end up double-teaming another linebacker; there's a crease between them and one UMass player trying to fill it, but Robinson slips as he tries to cut and eats the turf.
RUN+ Grady, Omameh RUN- Turf
M49 2 6 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Dig Hemingway 36
Three man rush is stoned by the OL; Robinson has all day to find Hemingway, who got deeper than the first wave and then cut inside about twenty-five yards downfield in front of the safety. Denard hits him in the numbers with perfect timing and Hemingway can pick up some YAC because of a poor angle by a safety. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O15 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA circle Grady 6
Looks like cover two and this is either a checkdown or a missed read, but the timing's good enough for Grady to pick up five, though he doesn't get OOB. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O9 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Grady Inc
Molk(-1) fails to cut the UMass DT here and he leaps to bat it down; probable touchdown otherwise. (BA, 0, protection 0/1, Molk -1)
O9 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Circle Stonum 9
Confusing set of routes here since Grady is running another circle and Stonum is doing the same thing except deeper. I don't know if I've seen this before. Stonum's route gets the CB to bite to the inside a bit, at which point he looks at Robinson and loses the plot; Robinson nails Stonum (but not before the ball flashes by Grady, who gets tackled and momentarily makes me think this is a disaster) for a touchdown. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-17, EO1H.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel Run QB lead draw Robinson 2
Only six guys in the box so Michigan naturally tries the lead draw since they hypothetically have no one to defend it. The UMass LB to the playside makes a great play to shoot into the backfield and hit Shaw a yard behind the LOS, cutting off a hole and forcing Robinson to cut back behind him, where Huyge(-1) has gotten chucked by the DE. DE tackles, Robinson manages some YAC. (RPS –1)
M33 2 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Reverse Grady 15
Robinson stretch fake sucks six guys to the frontside and the playside LB hesitates. Shaw(+1) gets out on him to cut him. Dorrestein gets out and bothers but does not get a safety down; Stonum(+1) maintains a stalk block a long time, providing Grady an alley outside; safety runs him out. (RPS +2)
RUN+ Shaw, Stonum RUN-
M48 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 9
Correct handoff (ZR+1) with the DE maintain contain; Webb was headed outside to provide a lead block on a scraping LB if the DE crashed. MLB is charging inside to cut off holes; Huyge(+1) walls him off and pushes him far enough inside that Shaw(+1) can make a decisive cut behind the entire OL, in which there are no holes, and burst into the second level.
RUN+ Huyge, Shaw, Schilling RUN-
O43 2 1 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
Schilling and Molk(+1 each) crush the NT back; Huyge(+1) shoves the DE back a couple yards and cuts him off as he tries to slant inside. Robinson is cutting outside, but a weak block from Shaw(-1) on the edge gives his man an opportunity to hit Robinson. As he's being driven back he makes a pitching motion to Shaw, causing the entire stadium to go noooooo, so he doesn't.
RUN+ Schilling Molk, Huyge RUN- Shaw
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 7
TE is on the backside of the formation and blocks the DE out there so it appears Robinson is reading the playside LB. He comes inside, so he pulls (ZR+1). The slot LB comes in to provide belated contain; Robinson jukes upfield and darts behind downfield blocks from Webb(+1) and Huyge(+1)
RUN+ Webb, Huyge, Robinson RUN-
O33 2 3 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Shaw 33
The longish Shaw touchdown on which he comes to a complete stop in the hole despite there being an obvious lane in front of him. Schilling(+2) gets a driving, sealing block on an NT lined up well inside of him. Omameh(+1) fights off the DE to that side of the field; Molk(+1) gets a downfield block on the MLB and Webb(+1) stones a player coming off the edge that would have crushed Shaw because of his hesitation. When Shaw finally decides to run up in the gaping hole in front of him, he is fast and cruises into the endzone easily because the safety to his side of the field tore after a Robinson keeper or something. Can you minus a tailback on a 33-yard touchdown? (BTW: ZR+1; Denard had a guy blitzing directly at him.)
RUN+ Schilling(2), Molk, Omameh, Webb RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-17, 12 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M6 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 4
Enter Taylor Lewan. UMass linebackers screaming downhill past the double of Schilling and Molk right in the frontside C-T gap. (RPS -1) On the backside Dorrestein(+1) gets enough of the backside DT to push him back and seal him, providing a tiny crease that Smith can dart into; that LB dives and ankle-tackles from behind, causing Smith to fall.
RUN+ Dorrestein RUN- Schilling
M10 2 6 Shotgun Twins 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 9
Omameh(+1) gets a reach block on the playside DT, opening up gap between himself and Webb(+1), who is crushing the DE out of the play. Dorrestein gets a free release. He walls off the playside LB(+1), but Smith(-1) does not get a good block on a crashing corner and he tackles, though Robinson runs through it for some bonus yards. Also: Taylor Lewan(+1) latched on to the backside LB and blocked him 15 yards downfield.
RUN+ Omameh, Webb, Dorrestein, Lewan RUN- Smith
M19 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB counter Robinson 4
Inside zone fake but this is not a read, it's just a called play. Playside DE slants between Lewan and Schilling without either of them picking up on it. Think this is on Lewan(-1) since its his third snap ever. This means there's an unblocked guy in the middle of the play and Robinson has to improvise, which he does by dodging the contain guy, getting out to the edge, and picking up a few by slinking past a corner.
RUN+ Robinson RUN- Lewan
M23 2 6 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA Fly Stonum 46
Michigan does a PA fake QB stretch and then Robinson pulls up after a slight roll. The playfake has erased the safety to Stonum's side of the field and the corner there is in tight man coverage. Ball is very slightly underthrown, which causes Stonum to slow up and should draw a PI flag on an early-arriving corner who's not even looking for the ball, but Stonum brings it in anyway. Maybe they throw it if he doesn't catch the ball? Anyway: this is a 40-yard deep ball and is accurate enough for the DO despite being a tiny bit short. If he can do this consistently, jebus. (DO, 2, protection 2/2) Credit to the corner: this is pretty good coverage given the situation.
O31 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 4
Molk(+1) reaches the playside DT, sealing him off. Lewan(+1) has driven the playside DE back—something that has almost never happened on M stretches in the RR era, or for that matter the Carr era—so Koger and Smith head outside, where there should be green pastures except for Schilling(-1) essentially whiffing on the OLB, who reads the play and makes a great tackle as Smith approaches the LOS. I would so trade our MLBs straight up for theirs.
RUN+ Lewan, Molk RUN- Schilling
O26 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 11
UMass line is slanting to the right and pushing the LBs left to compensate, but Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) successfully control the playside DT and Lewan(+1) locks out the DE, giving Smith a lane and no linebackers. He takes it, but slips as the safety comes up and is not able to make the man miss.
RUN+ Lewan, Molk, Schilling RUN-
O15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 7
Complete obliteration of the same guy by Molk and Schilling(+1 each); Schilling then pops out on the playside LB. It's only a corner blitz that provides anyone who can stop this; Smith runs through a terrible shoulder block of a tackle(+1) to pick up good yardage. Lewan dangerously close to a holding call here.
RUN+ Molk, Schilling, Smith RUN-
O8 2 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 8
No contain so Robinson pulls(ZR+1) and then beats a late-reacting DE to the corner, zipping up between him, a corner, and a safety for the TD.
RUN+ Robinson(2) RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-17, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 50
UMass does pretty well on the frontside of the play but on the backside Lewan(+3) completely destroys a DT. Turns him into goo. Massive cutback lane seen and taken by Shaw(+1). Shaw then breaks a tackle(+1) and takes off, with Grady, Webb, and Robinson(!!!) acting as downfield convoy. Webb(+1) kills a DB but the cutback forced allows the playside DE to ankle-tackle Shaw. Robinson should have peeled back.
RUN+ Lewan(3), Shaw(2), Webb RUN-
O22 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 3
Another big cutback lane as Omameh(+1) shoves the backside DT well out of the play, but Smith(-1) does not cut back enough and ends up running directly into Omameh's guy.
RUN+ Omameh RUN- Smith
O19 2 7 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 8
This time it's Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) doubling and shoving back the playside DT with Lewan(+1) kicking out the DE. Schilling can't get out on the MLB and he and a crashing slot LB tackle.
RUN+ Lewan, Schilling, Molk RUN-
O11 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 7
Molk(+1) blasts the playside DT, this time not attempting to reach him but content with pushing him back. This provides a cutback lane as Schilling(+1) and Lewan(+1) scoop the backside DE and Schilling pops out on the WLB. Shaw(+1) makes a good cut but can't shake the safety.
RUN+ Lewan, Schilling, Molk, Shaw RUN-
O4 2 3 Ace 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 4
Frontside totally jammed up; Koger(+1) drives the backside DE far, far inside, giving Shaw(+1) a cutback lane he takes for the TD.
RUN+ Koger, Shaw RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-24, 12 min 4th Q. Michigan has passed once in the second half and I hadn't even noticed until this drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-4 Run Inside zone Smith 1
Schilling(-1) does not dominate his man and there's no frontside crease; Smith(-1) misses a cutback lane behind Omameh, who got a decent block on the DT. Cutback open thanks to Dorrestein's(+1) excellent LB block and McColgan cutting off the backside DE.
RUN+ Dorrestein RUN- Schilling, Smith
M38 2 9 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 8
Heading way outside here. Koger(+1) gets enough of the playside DE to give the corner. Roundtree gets enough of a CB to force him inside; Jackson(-1) gets discarded by his guy but Robinson(+1) shoots past him and nears the first down.
RUN+ Koger, Robinson RUN- Jackson
M46 3 1 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Iso Smith -3
Unblocked backside LB blitzes and owns Smith in the backfield (RPS -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 42-30, 3 min 4th Q. Punt is blocked as Hagerup drops it.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 I-Form big 2 2 1 Base 4-4 Run Iso Shaw 7
Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) blow the NT off the ball, allowing Omameh to peel off on the MLB and giving Shaw a fairly large gap for a last-minute iso up the gut against a stacked line. He duly slams it up.
RUN+ Omameh, Molk, Shaw RUN-
O28 2 3 I-Form big 2 2 1 Base 4-4 Run Iso Shaw 2
Same deal, with Dorrestein more important since the play cuts back a little bit due to faster-reacting UMass LBs. Shaw does a crappy job of getting YAC here.
RUN+ McColgan, Dorrestein RUN- Shaw
O26 3 1 I-form big 2 2 1 Base 4-3 Run Iso Shaw 2
Hurray they get it runing behind Lewan(+1) and Schilling(+1)
RUN+ Lewan, Schilling RUN-
Drive Notes: EOG, 42-37.

Now this looks like what should happen against a I-AA team minus those ever-increasing scores for the opposition in the drive notes section.

Yes. This probably would have been abandoned early if not for the defense's inability to get the Minutemen off the field. Michigan punted twice. The first time Robinson bobbled a snap and got sacked on a play that was wide open. The second came on a drive when they were just trying to run clock.

For a stretch in the second half they ran on 19 of 20 plays and I didn't even notice because those were three consecutive touchdown drives. Michigan threw once in the second half and put up 42 points that should have been 45 with a makeable field goal; it was a dominant performance after Robinson's oops-I-forgot-I'm-awesome-now interception.

It's just against a I-AA team, sure, but it is further confirmation that this offense looks like the best since Henson and Terrell were lighting it up in 2000. We won't be able to say for certain until they get through the Indiana-MSU-Iowa stretch.



Hennechart comes with a reminder that numbers in parens are screens!


2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
UConn 2 15(6) - - 3 2 - - 2 68%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
UMass 4 10(3) - 1 1 - 1 1 - 73%

(I've added the Downfield Success Rate to the chart on the suggestion of a reader; hover over the column header for its definition.)

We all had a Letterman neck moment on that interception but Robinson recovered to have a very efficient day. The most important bit of his performance were the three deep balls to Grady, Stonum, and Hemingway. The first one was truly impressive since he had the footwork to hop a step back in the pocket, giving himself time to get the ball off:

Even after two games in which Robinson has established himself a quarterback who doesn't suck that's a stunning combo of poise, agility, and accuracy.

The second was a dead-on fly route of 40 yards; the third was Denard IDing a hole in zone coverage and throwing it to an area his WR would be in. All of that is advanced stuff, though standard quality of competition disclaimers etc. Another step forward in any case. Kid can throw:

He added one inaccurate pass to his brief gallery of misses but if those deep balls are hit consistently they take the offense from very good to napalm in cleats. Can this really keep up? As the weeks pass it becomes more and more likely. He is now 19th in passer efficiency against a tougher-than-average schedule.



This Game Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum - - 1/1 2/2 1 - 2/3 10/10
Odoms - - 1/1 - - - 3/4 7/7
Hemingway - - 1/1 - - - 1/1 -
Jackson - - - - - - - -
Roundtree 2 - - 4/4 4 2/3 0/1 11/11
Grady - - 1/1 1/1 2 - 1/1 4/4
Robinson - 0/1 - 0/1 - 0/1 - 2/3
Stokes - - - - - - - -
Koger - - - - - - 1/2 2/2
Webb - - - - - - - -
Smith - - - - - - 0/1 4/4
Shaw - - - 1/1 1 0/1 0/1 2/2
Cox - - - - - - - -
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

Not a lot of action with the limited throws but the guys came through. Stonum catching that deep ball under duress is an encouraging item, and Grady pulling in an over-the-shoulder grab is also progress from last year. The other Robinson did have the receiving corps' first flat drop of the season. That's one in 43 opportunities. The receivers are officially exceeding expectations.

And PROTECTION METRIC: 15/18, Molk –1, Team –2.

Not much to see there.


Right, well, for the running stuff we need a—

Chart II?

Chart II.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge 4 1 3 In just over a half of play.
Lewan 9 1 8 Start the hype machine, yo.
Schilling 12 4 8 Bounce back from the meh ND performance.
Molk 15 3 12 Totally dominant as you would expect.
Omameh 11 2 9 Didn't pwn anyone downfield, still doing well.
Dorrestein 6 2 4 I might not be giving the tackles enough credit for locking out DEs.
Webb 4 - 4 Plus eight between the TEs is impressive.
Koger 4 - 4 Word.
TOTAL 65 13 52 Complete obliteration.
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 11 1 10 Also check the ZR metric.
Gardner - - - DNP
Shaw 10 3 7 Didn't get a plus on the long TD but ran hard, found cutback lanes, and broke a couple tackles.
Smith 1 4 -3 Most of that is blocking but he did have some opportunities to pick up more yards than he has. I don't know if it's the injury but he certainly doesn't seem as agile as he did as a freshman. It's probably time to see some alternatives.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Hopkins - - - BEEF MACHINE, but DNP.
McColgan 2 - 2 Functional.
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 24 8 16 Shaw seems established as the #1.
Player + - T Notes
Stonum 5 - 5 Broke that screen for the TD.
Odoms 2 - 2 Goatman.
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree - - - --
Grady 2 - 2
TOTAL 9 1 8 Also a –1 from Jackson
Zone Read 6 - 6 Dangerous for opponents if M and Robinson have figured out scrape responses.

Finally, the RPS number was 6-7=-1.

Those numbers don't seem that high to me; Michigan averaged 7.7YPC minus the kneeldown and Robinson's sacks (UMass was only credited with one but the bobbled snap play was a pass; in any case it's not representative of the line's performance). If you are averaging nearly 8 YPC and running 80% of the time your OL should come out +52 or so.

Another item in Robinson's development: no bad reads on the zone play except one he may have gotten away with but 1) gained 20 yards on and 2) faked out the BTN cameraman to the point where it's impossible to tell if he should have pulled or not. I'm a fan of the play where Michigan pulls the TE all the way around to the outside (detailed in a Tate picture page), which Michigan has been showing intermittently and will destroy the scrape exchange against teams who run it consistently. It's just a matter of time before Robinson rips into the secondary.

Well, then: Lewan?

I have to agree with the hype. Wow. This is his second snap from scrimmage:

"Hello. My name is Taylor Lewan. I am here to inform you that, while you believe you are a linebacker, you are actually a donkey. Let's go for a ride."

And then there's Shaw's 50-yarder:

"I hate you, donkey. Sincerely, Taylor Lewan."

The standard UMass disclaimers apply. However, you are in a good situation when a tackle who seems to be playing somewhere between adequately and well is getting pushed out of the lineup by a redshirt freshman who racks up a 9-1=8 in just under a half of play in his first extended playing time. This is good for this year; it is very good for next year, when it seems like Michigan will be able to plug in whichever LT loses the battle this year without missing a beat.

This is the exact opposite of the MLB situation. At LT, a hyped player is forcing his way through an experienced veteran who's playing well. At MLB, an experienced veteran is not playing well and there's no one to pick up the baton.

Tailback situation any clearer?

I also have to agree with the mounting Smith criticism. In this game he had a couple opportunities to add plus yards on runs that broke open and couldn't do it. He's not breaking or dodging tackles and he obviously lacks the raw speed of Shaw; Shaw is also heftier and seems less prone to missing blocks. I'd say he's earned the first shot at the Big Ten schedule and Michigan should start rotating in Cox, Hopkins, Toussaint, and even Teric Jones to see if they can find something there.

Shaw, meanwhile, was making decisive cuts for the most part. The primary exception was the 30-yard touchdown, on which he came to a total stop in the hole and then burst upfield when it was pretty obvious there was going to be room directly in front of him. I can understand slowing up a bit to set up the blocks, but it looked like Shaw was considering a cutback. I think he's the best Michigan has right now but am hoping Toussaint lives up to Fred Jackson's hype. Or, like, 10% of it.

What about the I formation runs at the end?

It seems like a waste to have a running QB and then line him up in the I-form to hand off when everyone knows you're running. While you should expect to get it anyway against a I-AA team you are vulnerable to that guy tearing off the edge that might get blocked if you just had the QB take it ahead.

I mentioned this in the game column but to repeat: with two veteran TEs who are blocking well and a fullback who exists I'd like to see a Wolverine version of the Gator Heavy formation in which Tim Tebow tanked his way to the promised land. I can't find a shot of it except from NCAA players who complain about how it's an exploit:


Here the guys are using it as an exploit by shoving the leetle tailbacks in instead of the beef, but it seems like M's short yardage formation should be a 2TE set with McColgan and whichever other back is the best blocker (hypothetically Hopkins but probably Shaw right now). Robinson isn't Tebow but he's probably going to be about as effective in heavy since he can dart into any crease that opens up.

OTOH, they're doing pretty well right now without trying this.


Essentially everyone. Special praise for the interior OL.


Smith is about it.

What does it mean for Bowling Green and beyond?

Tackle, thought to be a potential weak spot going into the year, now has a competent or better player on the bench. I'm still waiting for the Iowa game to declare Frey a miracle worker; initial returns are excellent. The offensive line is meeting high expectations.

The receivers are catching everything and Denard flashing an accurate deep ball is the second to last thing he needs to add to his arsenal to be virtually unstoppable (the last: a seam with some touch). His progression continues to be remarkable, and while there will be at least a couple bumpy roads in the Big Ten we're nearing the point where Denard is just Denard and we're all lucky for that.

Tailback is the only spot at which it seems Michigan could improve. I'm trying to keep expectations in check after last year but this feels different; this feels like the best offense at M in a long time.