What Is: Inverted Veer Option

What Is: Inverted Veer Option Comment Count

Seth April 28th, 2017 at 12:00 PM

This series is a work-in-progress glossary of football concepts we tend to talk about in these pages. Previously:

Offensive concepts: RPOs, high-low, snag, covered/ineligible receivers, Duo, zone vs gap blocking, zone stretch, split zone, reach block, kickout block, wham block, Y banana play, TRAIN

Defensive concepts: Contain & lane integrity, force player, hybrid space player, no YOU’RE a 3-4!, scrape exchange, Tampa 2, Saban-style pattern-matching, match quarters, Dantonio’s quarters, Don Brown’s 4-DL packages and 3-DL packages, Bear

Special Teams: Spread punt vs NFL-style


So today we’re going to get into a play that we’ve discussed a ton on this site: The Inverted Veer, also called a Power Read. From 2011-2013 it was the Michigan offense’s best play (even if Borges might have run it incorrectly). Since 2012 it’s also been the staple play of Ohio State’s offense. If you close your eyes and think of a collegiate Tim Tebow or Cam Newton or Cardale Jones play where they fake handoff to the running back before a QB plunged straight ahead for an unstoppable 6-8 yards, that was probably an Inverted Veer.


The best way to think of it is the reverse of the zone-read option. Whereas Rich Rodriguez’s option play was all about reading the backside edge defender, Inverted Veer is about optioning a frontside guy.


Basically the QB and RB will option a frontside EMLOS (end man on the line of scrimmage) by having the RB jetting outside while the QB reads the unblocked end and decides to give it to his buddy as he passes, or if the DE leaves enough space, charging downfield.

That’s it. I showed power on the diagram because that’s probably the best way to block it, but you can run this successfully with a variety of blocking so long as the DL are all secured on the backside. Major variations on it are whether you go inside or outside of the last DT you blocked, and how you want your TEs and receivers and whatever other material to execute various stalk blocks, kickouts and cracks.

It’s also a sort of personnel reversal from a zone read. On ZR the running back ends up reading his blocks and finding an interior gap, while a QB keep puts the quarterback out in space. With Inverted Veer the RB is the one threatening to edge the defense while the quarterback is charging headlong into it. That last bit is why it’s such a great play for all of those truckstick quarterbacks I mentioned: Once the defense converges that big QB will have a lot of downhill momentum.

Course a jitterbug with ridiculous change of direction is cool too.

[Hit the JUMP for some good ol’fashioned bedreaded one fun]


Neck Sharpies: Don Brown Blitzes IV

Neck Sharpies: Don Brown Blitzes IV Comment Count

Seth October 11th, 2016 at 12:11 PM

Okay so I’ve talked about this before. Maybe more than once. But Ohio State loves this play, so much that its variations account for 3 of the first 4 plays on Curtis Samuel’s Oklahoma highlight reel (and 2 more are counters off it).

Inverted Veer (again)

This play is called “Inverted Veer” or “Power Read.” It was the staple of the Borges-Denard/Devin fusion cuisine era, because it is the mullet of offensive plays: manball business in the front, spread party in the backfield.

Here’s a basic setup:


The offensive line is blocking like power C: block down and pull from the backside, and cave the frontside.

A second after the snap reveals why it’s such a devastating play:


While a good ol’fashioned zone-read might option a backside defender, inverted veer options the playside end man on the line of scrimmage (EMLOS). That defender is allowed into the backfield and optioned: if he comes up too far, the ball is given to the running back, who accelerates away to the outside—You’ve been EDGED! If the end gets wide to prevent the running back from getting the edge, that opens up room for the quarterback to dive into the gap behind him—You’ve been GASHED!

[Hit THE JUMP for variations, and how Michigan defended this]


Neck Sharpies: Perimeter Run Support

Neck Sharpies: Perimeter Run Support Comment Count

Seth August 11th, 2016 at 2:09 PM

So this should never ever happen again:

You've been hearing all offseason that Don Brown will ask his cornerbacks to play more "trap" zone and be more involved in run fits, most recently in Adam's interview with Zordich:

MGoQuestion: How much more important, if at all, is run support from corners going to be this season compared to last season?

“Very important because of our trap system, the system that Don Brown brought in from Boston College. Our corners are going to be very much more involved in the run game.”

However they'll mostly be doing the same stuff they did last year. Brown indeed has a Cover 2 thing he'll bring out, but most plays his defenses are in a Cover 1 ("City") or Cover 3, just like D.J. Durkin's. How will that be different?


Before getting into that specific coverage we ought to understand the terminology and general thinking behind Brown's run fits. So you know how there are gaps between offensive lineman, and that these gaps are named alphabetically starting from the center. So the A gaps are between the center and the guards, the B gaps are between guards and tackles, C gaps are between tackles and tight ends, if the latter exist. From there some coaches are content to keep adding letters all the way to the sideline.

That's not how Brown names them, on pg 63-64 of the 2013 Boston College playbook, where he shows the lane responsibilities for his two base coverages: Cover 2 and Cover 1 (or 3):



Those terms:

CREASE: Brown defines it as the "zone run area outside the tackle box and inside the #2 receiver." The second part is not totally accurate; eligible receivers are counted from outside-in, so often enough the #2 receiver is a tight end lined up tight to the line, in which case the crease is outside of him. The point is the crease is the first big lane outside the tackle box, where a lot of zone runs take place.

ALLEY: To Brown it's the "run lane inside the corner but outside the [outside linbackers'] support window. The safety must keep his inside pad on the ball for example." In other words this is an extra crease created when there's more than one wide receiver on that side of the formation. Since it's way out there where OLBs usually can't get to, the alley usually has to go to a safety. However it's not always the case, especially once he's got his coverage hybrids out there in place of the OLBs.

OUTSIDE: The run support lane outside the wide (#1) receivers. This is where cornerbacks take if the WR doesn't just go downfield, and bubble territory.

[After the jump: How Michigan did it, and will do it]


Picture Pages: Predictability

Picture Pages: Predictability Comment Count

Brian October 23rd, 2012 at 11:50 AM


oh good this again

The great unresolved question we batted around Monday on the podcast was the perpetual great unresolved question of the last year and a half: "quien es mas falto, Denard o Borges?"

I'm not done with things yet but am I leaning Borges, except since Michigan went into a shell against a good defense and won the game instead of throwing five interceptions and losing it, by "blame" I might actually mean "credit." Michigan won, and outgained the other offense by about 50 yards, and was only about 50 yards short of the output spread genius Urban Meyer managed against the MSU D. In terms of the OH MY GOD TOTAL DEBACLES that have speckled the Borges/Denard partnership, this ranks much lower than having under 200 yards of offense before you're forced to chuck the ball all over the field. See: Iowa, ND 2011, etc.

That said, a quarter into the game, Spartan safeties have made tackles at the line of scrimmage twice, Chris Norman is regularly meeting lead blockers two yards in the backfield, and the only significant gains Michigan has acquired are on a Gallon throwback screen on which it looks like Norman busts hard and the ten-yard Kwiatkowski out. Here's an example of the first two phenomena:

This is a super-aggressive quarters defense that Indiana exploited against both MSU and Ohio State—which is attempting to run the same scheme—with various cover-4 beaters. Michigan elected for the shell, and won.

Even so, man. Michigan has spent weeks setting things up as they played Bye, Virtual Bye One, and Virtual Bye Two; Michigan State is coming off three consecutive hard-fought games. I'm not sure if Spartan Overpreparation is a real thing or not—I hope so. Otherwise we're putting all our chips on the idea that Borges really doesn't have the faintest clue how to run a spread offense and that things will get better once a Real Quarterback™ is in place*.

*[If you've ever made this assertion I hate you.]

An Example

Okay. So here's Michigan's end-around version of the veer that they've been putting on the field for a few weeks now. It looks different; it's really just the same thing as the veer, though.

[Please forgive the crappier than normal image quality—the BTN was taking wide shots, which is generally good for this sort of thing, but this week's torrent is bleah for whatever reason.]

Anyway: Gallon in the slot, Michigan in a Borges-standard three-wide pack. The alignment of Gallon hints at the end around motion, BTW. MSU is in their standard 4-3 even. The guys at the top of the screen are going to be the relevant ones. Gholston is the DE, Denicos Allen the LB.


As Gallon goes in motion, Allen—and only Allen—moves to the LOS outside of Gholston. Live this gave me a sense of disquiet. That's not sliding some linebackers over. That's an awfully specific thing to do.


A  couple of moments later, the snap has been made and Denard is in a quasi-mesh point with Gallon. I say "quasi" because the action here is so fast that it's hard to believe there's any real read component.

Anyway. Four MSU players are relevant here.


  1. The boundary corner blitzes. He is the contain guy if Gallon gets the ball.
  2. Allen is now the End Man On The Line Of Scrimmage—EMLOS(!). His goal is to get the two-for-one that allows Bullough to be the free hitter, or at least foul the hole and thus rob whoever gets to Bullough of his burst of impetus.
  3. Gholston is the main cutback defender. Once Allen is the primary hole he's got to prevent anything from cutting behind it.
  4. Bullough is the guy MSU would like to be the free hitter a la Demens. Bullough's ridiculously good at football and sheds blocks like whoah; having him as a free hitter is a luxury few teams have.

On the Michigan side of things, Lewan is adapting to the play as it develops and pulls out some of the old zone playbook. When Gholston dives inside of him he goes with it, using his momentum to take him past the point where he wants to go. Toussaint also reads the funny business going on and heads straight for Allen. Omameh is pulling; his eventual destination should be Bullough.

This is hard to see in the next still, so watch for it in the video: the legs you see poking out here like the Wicked Witch of the West with a house on her…


…are in fact the remnants of a killer cut block on Allen by Toussaint. But Allen has still gotten his two for one:


Omameh is literally hopping outside that block. A moment past this and the two players will be even, which means Denard can't follow him, which means he's not blocking anyone, which means two for one, which means Max Freaking Bullough is a free hitter.

Michigan's one saving grace on this play is the Lewan-Gholston matchup. Denard gets a cutback lane because Lewan has blasted Gholston to a point on the field even with the playside and backside DTs. Bullough is surprised by Denard's attack angle, as is Norman, and both have a tough time cutting back as fast as Denard can.


They're unblocked, though, and there are many of them. Denard can only squeeze out four yards…


…as Gholston lies pancaked underneath Lewan yards from the play.



On separate run-throughs check out:

  1. Toussaint chopping Allen
  2. Lewan dominating Gholston
  3. Denard picking through traffic
  4. Michigan getting four yards off of two great blocks.

Things And Stuff

UNLEASH THE EPIC RABBLING COMMENT THREAD. Guys, I'm totally sorry, but sheeeeeeeeeeeeit. This is happening all the damn time. The play above is MSU knowing what's coming as soon as Gallon goes in motion and having a plan to combat it. The plan works—pretty much, anyway—despite the playside defensive end ending up on his stomach eight yards away from the play.

Michigan's not getting anything of the sort in kind, and the first play on which Joe Reynolds makes an appearance features this defensive formation:


filed under "lol 100% run" in the MSU playbook

That wasn't a fakeout, man, those jakeryans came at the snap, leaving one corner anywhere near a simple curl/flat or smash combo with the twinned receivers.


This was a run. A –3 yard run. Yeah, sure, opposing defensive coordinators don't know about Michigan's substitution patterns. Probably just a coincidence.

That cannot happen. You cannot allow the opposing defense to align like that. Michigan allows it all the time.

Okay, okay, is going away from all run all the time a danger that makes Denard chuck interceptions? Possibly. I watched Denard make those curl/flat throws as a clueless sophomore, though, and you just can't let the above happen. I'm finding lots of wins for MSU based on their prep for this game, and few for Michigan. The throwback screen that worked was more Norman busting hard than anything schematic working.

I know they got some stuff later, so I'll probably be less peeved about this when the UFRs come out. I am pretty disappointed that M spent the first quarter running absolutely nothing new against Michigan State of all teams.

Lewan vs Gholston is no contest. It was no contest a year ago, it's no contest this year. He made a couple plays that didn't show up on the scoresheet when he was well-schooled on Michigan's sweep play and used his athleticism to shoot a gap—and Funchess took out Schofield in the process—but once he gets locked up, game over man. He did himself a disservice by not playing for a 3-4 team. He'd be a terror in ND's scheme. As a 4-3-even DE, he's the third-best player on his own defensive line.

Toussaint got a win here. This went a lot worse for him when he was trying to lead Denard into iso runs and Chris Norman was tearing ass at him. The lack of Rawls was pretty weird given the context.

Players don't really matter here except at the margins. Gholston got annihilated and Michigan got four yards. That was MSU's worst case scenario on this play.

Michigan's counterpunches to this sort of thing are not even really the Dileo completions. Dileo catches his first two balls on second and eleven and third and six; the last one was clearly not a play action situation, so all you've got to show for this is the single catch and run from the second quarter.

You should be able to punish the level of aggression shown by the MSU defense in some way. Michigan could not last year and could not this year—at least not in the structure of the offense. Last year, Roy Roundtree broke a tackle to turn a slant into a touchdown. This year, Denard juked and juked and juked to get his 44-yard run towards the end on a QB draw that had absolutely nothing to do with the base rushing offense.

The most alarming thing so far: Michigan's first pass on first down is three drives in. It has a play action mesh point of the sort MSU has been tearing after all game, and no MSU linebacker takes a step to the line of scrimmage. Why? The line sets up to pass block immediately, without anyone pulling. Michigan has not had a run play yet without a pulling lineman.


Denard doesn't have anyone open and ends up throwing his worst pass of the day, a near-INT that was so bad two MSU players had a better shot at it than any Michigan guys. Clearly he has not gotten through all his bad decision mojo, but I'm mystified that Michigan would not even try to draw those linebackers up by running plays that look like the ones they've already put on the field.


Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs UMass

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs UMass Comment Count

Brian September 19th, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Formation notes: Nothing particularly new from Michigan except the Norfleet-end-around thing, which I just called 2-back. The plays run from it are being called "triple veer" since there's a third option there, not that I think any of these things are reads.


This was early; Dileo did not come in motion. Same formation plus Norfleet coming in == triple veer series against UMass.

Funchess means a lot more 2 TE formations. Reminder: TV never shows substitutions so I'm usually just describing the formation for the defense here, not the personnel. IIRC UMass was in 4-3 personnel the whole time; sometimes they would commit a LB to the slot, which I called nickel.

Substitution notes: Also nothing too unusual. Kwiatkowski was the starting TE and did pretty well; Funchess saw a lot of time; the usual WR rotation occurred. When Michigan pulled Lewan late they made the same flip they did at the end of the Alabama game, moving Schofield to LT, Omameh to RT, and inserting Burzynski at RG.

As promised, Hoke did not put any of the freshman linemen on the field. At this point we know who the staff is trying to redshirt. On offense those folk are: Braden, Kalis, Magnuson, Bars, Chesson, and Johnson. Norfleet, Funchess, Williams, and Darboh are playing.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 3
Funchess off line, both TEs in two-point stance. Implies pass. M runs, shooting Funchess backside and sending Kwiatkowski to the frontside. Blocking bust as Barnum(-2) does not ever pop off the DT he is doubling with Mealer; unblocked LB in the hole. Kwiatkowski(-1) gets stuck between cracking down on this guy and trying to get a DB, eventually doing neither; Lewan(+1) gets big movement on his kickout when Toussaint(+1) bounces it outside. Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) had gotten nice movement on the backside.
M38 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 13
Omameh(+1) seals the UMass DT inside quickly, allowing Schofield(+1) to move out on a linebacker without delay. Either the hand or the keep works here; Denard(+1) keeps and manages to run through an ankle tackle attempt. Funchess(+1) is inline here and releases downfield, getting a block on a safety at about ten yards after running a fake dig. Barnum pulled through the hole but took a line way outside and did not block the last dude, the FS, who tackles. Denard is riding this mesh point longer [BWS].
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Sprint counter Toussaint 7
MLB reads the Schofield pull and immediately starts heading for wherever he's going. SLB also reads the play and gets into the intended hole before Dileo can crack down on him. Mealer(+0.5) got a free release and pushes the MLB past where he wants to go, but Toussaint doesn't have anywhere to go on the playside. Omameh(+1) has blasted the backside DT back, though, and Funchess(+0.5) escorts a DE way downfield—mostly the DE being bad, not Funchess devastating him. Toussaint(+1) cuts back ably, juking a filling safety to his butt and picking up a nice gain. RPS -1? Nah, but I thought about it.
O42 2 3 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass TE Out Kwiatkowski 16
Safety rolls down for eight man front, slot CB tight on the line. Both linebackers run right at the LOS on a straight dropback, Kwiatkowski comes wide open, Denard hits him, easy conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1) Kwiatkowski gets some YAC by running through a tackle.
O26 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA TE Seam Funchess 26
This is my candy now, baby. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). BWS picture pages.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q. I say, these chaps don't appear to be very good.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Bubble screen Gallon 14
Or LAZER, whatever. LB two yards inside of Gallon who takes off at the run on the snap, M throws the bubble, which is wide open. Gardner(+1) dominates the CB out of Gallon's way and it's an easy first down. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
O40 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint -1
Mostly on Toussaint(-2). Kerridge takes on the playside DE a couple yards in the backfield, and Omameh goes upfield of that. Toussaint goes outside when a quick cut upfield is definitely positive yardage, possibly lots. Mealer(+0.5) had locked out a DT, Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) blew up the other guy. Instead Toussaint runs into an unblocked LB. Well... maybe. This does seem to be asking a lot of him to make a cut when he's going outside so clearly. But with Kerridge where he is Omameh has no shot of getting outside effectively and it's never a good idea to bounce when you have to go around stuff.
O41 2 11 Ace twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA Fly Gardner Inc
They're on to us: this is our passing formation. UMass brings both safeties up and the MLB reads the pull, shooting outside. Barnum's pulled and has two guys to block in space. He doesn't really block either. Denard has two options with his short stuff covered: bomb it against cover zero or start running around. He chooses the latter, missing Gardner by a few yards. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)
O41 3 11 Shotgun trips TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Rollout Fly J. Robinson Inc
A three-part flood on which the deep corner opens up. JRobinson is open as the CB to that side comes up on Roundtree's route, so Denard fires into the endzone. JRobinson is looking over both shoulders and may be able to do better than this, but Denard did leave it too far inside. It's still decent for a 40-yard pass. JRobinson has a shot at at a one-handed spear, but the S rakes it out. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 2
Barnum(-2) falls, allowing the DT right up the A gap. Toussaint manages to squeeze for a yard or two.
O43 2 8 I-Form 3-wide tight 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Waggle drag Gallon Inc
UMass suckered and this will get turned up for a first down; Denard just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O43 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch tight 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Funchess 8
Lots of time as UMass sends three. Denard finds Funchess at the sticks and zips it in there, hard and low. This is between two defenders so I'll give Denard the benefit of the doubt. We don't get a replay, unfortunately, so I can't tell how good of a catch this is. I will go with my initial thought that is was really good. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
O35 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Robinson 20 (Pen -0)
Backside DE does not contain, so Denard pulls. Neither LB to that side is scraping over the top, and then the playside guy is staring right at Denard with the ball and still runs away. Denard again ditches a shoe and still gets outside for a big gain. Uh... I guess Denard +1 for the read, but this was free yards from a bad, bad D. Roundtree(-1) gets a dubious holding call, but just let go, man.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Penalty False start Lewan -5
O40 1 15 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Screen Toussaint 17
Both of the UMass LBs to the playside move towards the LOS as they see the OL release, but they move inside, which is not a good idea. Toussaint ends up in a ton of space; Barnum(+1) gets a block in space but I'm not sure he even needs to. Toussaint(+1) jukes a safety and picks up the first down; a second juke attempt at the sideline gets him tackled awkwardly. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1).
O23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB iso Robinson 5
Barnum's guy fights inside of him, which is not a real good idea when you don't have any LBs behind you. Robinson cuts behind that as Lewan(+0.5) as eliminated the end; Toussaint(+1) gets through the other hole and redirects into a filling safety. Denard's cutting behind that when Barnum's guy tackles. I'm a little leery about Barnum's role in all this but I'll forgo the minus. Mealer(+0.5) got a nice release into the MLB and Omameh got some push on the other DT.
O18 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 7
I think they've worked on the veer the past couple weeks. Denard's riding it longer and the FB, here Kerridge, is flaring out immediately so that that DE cannot take him out. Kerridge(+1) books for the playside LB and blasts him; Denard(+1) reads that the end is not containing Toussaint and gives. That's about it. A safety fills; Toussaint(+1) moves the pile another three yards.
O11 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint 11
This seems like a blown read by Denard(-1) as they block the backside OLB and let the 3-4 DE free. He hugs Schofield's back and shoots down the line, so Denard is one on one with the safety for six. He gives anyway. The line has caved in the Minutemen but Toussaint(+2) has to run away from the DE and finds a hole outside. Safety fill is going to take him down after two yards but he busts a tackle and tiptoes down the sideline for six. Lewan(+1) got the movement that created the gap; Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the backside DT and erased any potential LB pursuit.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA quick seam Dileo 66
The usual. Linebackers suck up, Smith wide open behind them, etc. Denard's throw is a bit in front of Dileo but not too bad; Dileo makes a nice catch and keeps his feet, stiffarming a safety down but getting caught from behind by one of their linebackers. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +2)
O5 1 G Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Inside zone Smith 5
Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blow up the playside DT, and that's about it. Barnum had some issues with his guy but managed to fend him off; Smith(+1) was decisive.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 13 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M12 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 4
This is probably a called play and not a read as there is no unblocked player. The run fake takes out the linebackers but UMass is run blitzing their FS right into the hole. Denard(+1) jukes him and is about to hit the jets when an OLB who stunted through clean makes a shoestring tackle. Oooooh. Too bad. Schofield(+1) blew up the playside DT; Kwiatkowski(+0.5) kicked the other guy well. RPS -1, but I like the creativity. Without this call on this is a nice gain.
M16 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Out Jackson INT
The fugly INT. If accurate this is a fine idea. It's not accurate. Also insert complaints about Jackson separation, or lack thereof. (INX, 0, protection N/A) Wow... on replay this route sucks. Jackson's post fake is basically vertical.
Drive Notes: Defensive Touchdown, 21-10, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Bubble screen Gallon 6
Giving it by alignment, M takes it. Aggressive DB gets upfield of Gardner and manages a shoulder tackle that gets Gallon off his feet. (CA, 3, screen)
M31 2 4 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 24
UMass puts one of their LBs over the second slot guy and goes six in the box, thus opening this up. The power of a stupid little play. UMass gets out of a lane and this opens up big. Toussaint(+1) gets a good LB block; Dileo(+1) does work on another LB, and Mealer(+1) gets a safety in space. Robinson(+2) sets his blocks up well and sets sail before that #9 again prevents a Michigan TD.
O45 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Scramble Robinson 25 (Pen -15)
LB blitz sent and picked up by Toussaint, who goes low. Mealer is backing out of a block and makes contact at the same time, which draws a chop block flag because they're throwing that on anything that even vaguely resembles a cut block with two guys. Unfortunate. That pickup gives Denard a ton of space, which he decides to use. Please be a trend. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
M40 1 25 Ace trips bunch 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Throwback screen Gallon 12
Always works; works. Lewan(+1) donkeys the corner, Gallon goes outside, safety fills. (CA, 3, screen) RPS +1? Sure.
O48 2 13 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Smith 6
Lewan(+1) blows one DT off the ball; Barnum(+0.5) finishes sealing him. Williams(+0.5) takes on a DE, then moves to the second level, passing the DE off to Kerridge. Williams can't quite lock that LB out, though, and he falls to tackle Smith just as he's breaking through to the secondary with Omameh(+0.5) as a safety-destroyer in front of him. Potential TD otherwise.
O42 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide tight 1 1 3 Okie Pass Drag Gardner 42
UMass sends the house. Unblocked guy right up the gut who Smith blows up, allowing Denard time to step around and up into the pocket. Everyone else is taken care of. Gardner's drag has taken him past a LB; Denard hits him. Gardner then just barely outruns #9 (who can play) and tiptoes the sideline for a spectacular TD. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3, special Smith commendation issued)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-10, 6 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 8
DL overplays to the playside here and the WLB is sucked out to the corner because Denard must be contained. Toussaint(+1) finds the cutback after Omameh(+1) shoots an aggressive DT past his hole. Schofield(+0.5) walls off the backside DE. Barnum and Mealer(+0.5) each combo to the second level.
O47 2 2 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 10
Barnum(+1) has a one on one matchup with playside DT and gets motion on the guy, driving him back a couple yards. SLB runs himself outside aimlessly. Williams and Lewan double playside DE and kick him out; would like to see Lewan climb to second level but this may be short yardage approach. Toussaint(+1) beats a filling safety to the edge and turns a first down into a small chunk. Mealer(+1) got a free release and beat up the MLB.
O37 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint 1
Nice play by the MLB to find the hole immediately, shooting past Mealer's block and arriving to tackle just as Kerridge is kicking out the SLB. Mealer(-1) could have taken a better angle to the second level, but this is mostly an RPS -1. Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) had provided a nice big hole with one on one blocks.
O36 2 9 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle throwaway Roundtree Inc
Everyone covered; LB specifically containing this play. Denard pumps and escapes outside, then just dumps it as he nears the LOS and it becomes clear he doesn't really have a running lane. Assumption is this was just putting the ball in the turf. (TA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O36 3 9 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Pass Scramble Robinson 36
Has forever as UMass rushes three, then sends a spy late. Denard eventually decides to use those feet things, at which point laughter happens. Kerridge +1 for getting the downfield block that ends any chance of pursuit. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2, Denard +3 on ground)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-10, 4 min 2nd Q. They get it back with 2:02 to go and run a two minute drill.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Wheel Smith 19
Play action with the three WRs running vertical. LB has to sink into the boundary route, opening up a wheel for Smith; Denard floats it in nicely. Smith(+2) then stops on a dime and spins inside the tackle attempt, turning eight yards into 20. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
M36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Cross Gardner Inc
Same route Gardner had for a TD. No pressure this time and Denard just misses this one. This was going for 20+ too. (IN, 0, protection 2/'2)
M36 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Scramble Robinson -3
Denard appears to be looking for a Jackson hitch. There's a LB under it and he decides against the throw. LB then turns his back to chase downfield; Denard decides to run. Good decision, but he bumps into Mealer before he can get his motor running and falls. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2) Scramble awarded because this was a good idea that went bad; if Denard escapes the pocket he's got at least ten.
M33 3 13 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Cross Dileo 16
This one is in between Dileo's numbers; route is a yard or two short of the sticks but the throw allows him to turn it up for the first down easily. No pressure. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass In J. Robinson 9
Has just forever and eventually zings it to JRobinson just in front of a defender. Probably should have looked for Smith, who is abandoned, but he hit the guy so okay. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O42 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Hitch Dileo 9 + 15 pen
Another pump, this one at Funchess on a little out; he decides against that and nails Dileo on a hitch. Against better opposition these delays may be a problem. Here Schofield(-1) did get beat; Robinson gets a faceful of DE. (CA, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1) This turns into a dodgy flag.
O18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 16
LBs way back, expecting pass and backing out at the snap. As soon as Omameh(+1) shoves the playside DT way down the line this is easy money. Mealer(+1) got a good downfield block; Robinson(+1) is fast and stuff and knows to burrow behind Mealer. RPS +2.
O2 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Iso Toussaint 0
Kwiatkowski(-1) does not get any push as a lead blocker and ends up stalemated; Kerridge runs up his back but can't actually contact an opponent, and Toussaint has no crease.
O1 2 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line Penalty Illegal sub N/A 1
All right.
O1 2 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line Run Speed option Robinson 1
If this is a real option, Denard should pitch(-1), but doesn't. He gets tackled by a blitzer in too quickly on Lewan(-1), the fumbles(-2) as he reaches out to the goal line. Lewan, or someone anyway, recovers. Ah, hell. RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-13, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Shotgun trips Te 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 13
DE is not containing Toussaint; give. That's about it. Rest of the D is in the box in case Denard keeps. Gardner, Jackson, and Roundtree(+0.5 each) all get okay to good blocks on DBs downfield. RPS +1.
O28 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 11
Identical thing to other side. DE does not show hard upfield, give. MLB gets outside of Dileo but for naught as there's a ton of space. Lewan(+1) pancaked the other guy, that's why. Jackson(+1) gets a good extended block downfield and Toussaint(+1) takes what's he's given, accelerating past fallen bodies until the sticks. RPS +1.
O17 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Inside zone Toussaint -1
UMass slants; this catches Mealer(+1) but surprise but he adjusts to starts shoving the slanter by the play. Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) had comboed the backside DT and climbed to the second level; Toussaint gets past the Lewan block, downshifts to hit this gaping hole... and gets roped down by a hand. Bad luck, that.
O18 2 11 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Slant Gallon Inc
Batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
O18 3 11 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Pass Post Roundtree 18
Excellent time; Denard finds and nails Roundtree on a post the safety probably should have covered but does not. Must have overplayed the route further inside. Not sure if this is too far outside or if Denard is playing it safe but he does hold Roundtree up some. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 49-13, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 11
Playside DT ends up coming through the line but not sure if that's a big problem since by doing so he gets shoved way past where he wants to be by Mealer(+1). Toussaint cuts behind. Barnum(+1) is doing to the same to the next guy. He cuts behind. Kwiatkowski(+1) has blown the last guy two yards downfield; Toussaint(+2) bursts outside. He anticipates and leaps past the safety's attempt to fill, then jukes a corner, and he's in the clear. Pursuit takes him down at the sticks.
M39 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple veer around Norfleet 14
Norfleet on the outside, he motions in and takes a quick handoff. Unblocked DE to that side is playing an inverted veer and lets Norfleet by. JRobinson(+1) cracks down and blows up the playside LB; the press corner goes with him. Gyarmati is leading now and has only the S to block. He does so; Norfleet tries to shoot past him, ankle tackle. Nice play by that S; if he only maintains leverage this might be six points. RPS +2.
O47 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 3
Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) bury the playside DT. Williams(+1) shoves the DE outside and then comes down on a linebacker; Gyarmati finishes kicking the DE. Barnum(-1) freaks out when Wiliams's guy starts moving upfield and hits him instead of continuing outside. He bounces back off this; Toussaint runs into him. That delay gets safeties involved; Toussaint gets what he can surrounded by white shirts.
O44 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 0
DE splits the two runners very well, getting Denard(-1) to keep and still tackling. Barnum(-1) flat lost his guy one on one, straight up, no slant, and he penetrates to prevent any Denard funny stuff.
O44 3 7 Shotgun empty TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Cross Gardner 6
Back out from heavy pressure look to three man line. Gardner sets up on a hitch and then starts drifting across the field; Denard doesn't like the deeper look and zings it underneath. A tiny bit short of the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O38 4 1 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Rawls 18
They've replaced Lewan. Schofield(-0.5) now at LT, he does not get his DL moving and allows some penetration that ends up delaying a pulling Burzynski. Gyarmati(+1) plus a guy on the edge, who does not keep the edge; Rawls(+1) sees that and heads out there. He breaks contain, picks up a bunch of yards, and then lowers the boom on a pretty hefty dude to finish it off.
O20 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple veer give Rawls 4
Playside DE goes straight at the pulling G and submarines him; Kerridge is trying to seal him inside so that the G can get out but he's got no shot. That's a two for one for the D. Corner is now the contain guy. He sees Rawls has it and is agile enough to crash down to tackle. Rawls takes a hit from the guy Burzynski couldn't block, too. RPS -1, but I like the concept.
O16 2 6 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Triple veer PA JRobinson Inc
Backside DE is going straight for Denard and gets instant pressure. Denard throws off his back foot at an open-ish Robinson and misses. Torn between IN and PR here. He had few alternatives and didn't put up a punt, so PR. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O16 3 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Out Roundtree 7
WCO precision route with Williams taking a corner out and opening up a small window for the conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O9 1 G Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Smith 9
UMass blitzes from the edge; Kerridge(+1) does a good job to come down on him and clock him, clearing the edge. The edge should be win UMass but the LB just biffs it, taking a crappy angle. Smith(+1) outruns him to the corner and gets in. An RPS -1, probably, but results.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 56-13, 3 min 3rd Q. Backups the rest of the way, including the walk-on OL. Charting ceases.

Indubitably, I say.


You said these chaps weren't very good after the first drive.

Oh, right. They're not. Let's do the numbers. So I've got these—




[Hennechart legend is updated.]

2011 through MSU 13 66(12) 11(1) 34(1) 17 2 3 10 4 55%
2011 after MSU 9 77(9) 7 17 9 6(1) 5(2) 9 5 69%
Alabama 4 15(2) 1 4 3 - - 3(1) 1 71%
Air Force 1 14 3 2 1 - 2 1 - 75%
UMass 1 16(4) - 4 - 1 1 1 3 68%

An easy day with a lot of open guys and a few worrying misses. Those were the INT, the cross to Gardner flung over his head, and the little Gallon drag similarly flung to Tacopants. The fourth one was a bomb on which he was long, which happens. But hey no BRs (UMass covered no one so there could not be any) and some scrambles (UMass managed to both not cover anyone and give up huge running lanes).

As I was saying, indubitably.




This is burned into my head.

Let's talk about actual things. Denard accuracy monitoring?

Still feeling pretty good about it. Though UMass was actually a slight step back in the Downfield Success Rate metric, its impact on our hypothesis ("Borges + Denard == Tate Forcier passing") is positive since we need more data here.

He's still good for the one or two ARGH NO throws a game nothing will ever get him to stop. Look at those Throwaway numbers: three games, one ball I thought was not an attempt to complete a pass. Four more got filed as scrambles, but that's still a vanishingly low percentage of balls tossed away. Everett Golson doubled that in one game against MSU.

We got some more screens.

Yes, as Heiko's on-going, not-serious-but-actually-deadly-serious bubble/lazer-off with Borges highlights, Denard is throwing more stuff at or behind the LOS. The four throws marked as screens in the last game are almost half of Denard's output from the entire second half of last year.

Bubble bubble yes but there was also an honest to God screen-screen that Toussaint turned up for a bunch. Michigan hasn't been throwing those under Borges because when Denard has tried it he has gotten pressure in his face and launced balls well over the intended receiver's head. Maybe that's technique, maybe it's the fact that he's maybe six foot tall and there is no angle that he can throw the thing that won't get stuffed back in his face and not overshoot the mark dangerously.

On the linked screen above, Michigan actually gets it done by blocking the end and shoving the DT, giving Denard a window. The horizontal aspect also helps prevent disaster—previously a lot of these RB screens were going straighter up the field. I'm still not sure how much that's ever going to be a staple since teams tend not to blitz Denard hard, but having that option is a nice.

Also: throwback. Believe it.

What happened on the next play after that bubble you linked above?

UMass put about five and a half players in the box and got a QB draw in their face for 24 yards. Panacea, no, but an effective play that opens up the rest of your offense when people on the edge are accounted for man-to-man.

Denard doing stuff with legs?

Michigan's been working on the veer. Michigan has moved from a stationary quick pull to the more common hop-hop-hop-decide process where the QB rides that fake as long as possible and only makes a decision when he feels the DE has committed. Even when he doesn't commit that movement and delay gets results on the second play of the game:

You'll notice that the pulling G actually runs by that DE (and then widens out so far that he ends up blocking a guy already being blocked many yards from Denard, so they're not exactly a machine yet).

Michigan's also screwing around with some additions/alterations, like the Norfleet end-around series Michigan broke out in the third quarter.

There the DE is like "veer veer veer" and Norfleet just zooms by him. Once he's outside of that, a big gain is guaranteed. Michigan came back  with a  handoff and a play action pass off that, neither of which were as successful.

This was kind of like the Minnesota game last year when Michigan test-drove their sprint counter against the twitching corpse of a long-dead opponent. I like seeing new stuff enter the offense, but I'd rather bring it out against Notre Dame. What's the deal with all the secrecy around the program if they're just going to bring out the toys against the UMasses of the world?

Offensive line?

Offensive line. 43 runs in this one, so numbers should approach normal… and would if I hadn't chalked up many of the yards gained as UMass being UMass. Remember that it's the ratio that is important for the OL. On a lot of plays they do okay and get a push.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 7.5 1 6.5 Dominating in this game.
Barnum 7 6 1 Pretty concerning. Fell down some, got straight up beat a couple times.
Mealer 9 1 8 Mobility in space a pleasant surprise.
Omameh 7.5 - 7.5 Beating up on little guys, but Nix will be a load.
Schofield 3.5 0.5 3 Got beat once in pass pro, but fine. Think people got a little panicked because of Alabama.
Kwiatkowski 1.5 2 -0.5 Eh.
Moore - - - DNP
Williams 1.5 - 1.5 Eh.
Funchess 1.5 - - HE DOES EVERYTHING (against UMass sometimes)
TOTAL 39 10.5 79% Meaningfulness: not meaningful.
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 10 5 5 Hit him for the fumble.
Bellomy - - - DNC
Toussaint 13 2 11 Did a lot of bouncing, hit a lot of holes, juked some guys.
Rawls 1 - 1 Lowered the boom on a pretty big dude.
Smith 4 - 4 Spin move was sweet.
Hayes - - - DNC
Hopkins - - - DNP
Kerridge 3 - 3 Insert complaints about scholarship FBs.
TOTAL 31 7 24 Gyarmati was also +1.
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 1.5 - 1.5  
Roundtree 0.5 1 -0.5  
Gallon - - -  
Jackson 1.5 - -  
Dileo 1 - 1 --
J. Robinson 1 - -  
Darboh - - - --
TOTAL 5.5 1 4.5 [Comment]
Player + - T Notes
Protection 32 2 94% Team –1, Schofield -1
RPS 14 7 +7 Veerin'.

That's what happens when you average almost 7 YPC without a run longer than 36 yards. Note also the near-flawless day in pass protection. Denard had forever, and on that 36 yard run he had two forevers before finally deciding to take off.

So, yeah. Complete obliteration of a foe that can only be obliterated and causes panic if you do not obliterate them. File under necessary and not meaningful.


Um, okay.

1. Lewan
2. Mealer
3. Schofield
4. Omameh
5. Barnum

Barnum had problems?

Yeah. He fell down a couple times; once he just never popped off a double and exposed Toussaint to an unblocked LB, and late on a veer-type run he got beat straight up. By ND transfer Hafis Williams, so not a total scrub, but from a confidence perspective guys who transferred away from the team you're about to play are not the best guys to beat your OL.

Last game I thought Omameh struggled and Barnum did pretty well, so jury is out on both guards.

Toussaint's pretty good again?

Yeah, man. Independent of the opponent he tiptoed the line for a TD and I love a particular aspect of this zone that cuts all the way across the field. Try to figure out what it is:

If you guessed "the little hop he takes when he perceives that an ankle tackle is coming from behind," you win an MGoPoint.


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

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

A bit of a fuss was made about Gardner only bringing in 8 of 20 targets this far. I'm missing one, but of my 19 he's got seven with no shot and three really tough ones. It's somewhat about his routes, but I chalk most of that up to "is deep threat".

I've mentioned this already this week, but Dileo is increasingly a guy who I'm comfortable with getting lots of playing time. He's not big, he's not super fast, but he catches everything in his area…

…and has a knack for keeping his feet as he does so. Usual slot-dot drawbacks apply; Dileo adds a fourth or fifth guy who I think is a pretty good receiving option.

QB Oh Noes returns?

A point of order is in… order after I saw a bunch of @replies in the twitter and BWS pointed out the vast open Funchess TD. QB Oh Noes was coined here to specifically refer to plays on which Denard himself takes a step towards the line as part of a run fake and then backs out. The PA fake made here:

Is something RR did a bit but not a ton. Borges, on the other hand, does run it a ton, and did last year as well. Now that he's got Funchess running down that seam expect even more of it.

[Also, BWS points out that Omameh is not quite Air Force-level illegally downfield. Illegal downfield: go for it, OL!]

Special commendation Vincent Smith needs out-of-table love.


"Why isn't Norfleet playing more?" the message boards ask. That is why. Fingerguns Smith.

BONUS: that's the play of which Borges said this:

I’m knocking on wood. I never assume anything, but his footwork is like night and day. He’s pulling balls down now and working up underneath the pocket and taking off and buying beats. He had a play during the game and it was a zero blitz where he got underneath the rush, gave Vince a chance to chip off a blitzing linebacker and threw the ball to Devin for a touchdown. A year ago he would have run backwards, and they’d have chased him for about an hour, and he’d probably end up throwing it out of bounds.

I'm ready to upgrade the Denard Can Throw hypothesis to a theory if he can just do it on Saturday.

BONUS BONUS: Smith spin move swag featuring Denard touch pass.




If you're really mean and stuff, Barnum could have done better.

What does it mean for ND and the future?

Sadly, not much. The worries about the OL will go one way or the other on Saturday and I'm not sure which one it will be. Schofield's going to come in for scrutiny—I'm guessing he handles it fine. More concerned about the guards.

Meanwhile, inching towards the idea that Denard can throw… sidling up to it, not looking at it directly, maybe giving it an eyebrow. Saturday is maybe not an acid test against a young secondary featuring three position switch starters, but after last year yeah it's an acid test. Let's do some stuff not on Gary Gray's back.


Picture Pages: Who Are You Optioning?

Picture Pages: Who Are You Optioning? Comment Count

Brian September 4th, 2012 at 2:04 PM

The option has always been about making a defender wrong about who has the ball, thus effectively blocking him. Since you don't have to actually block him this means you can take out a slavering rage-beast with even the daintiest of skill position players.

Rich Rodriguez's innovation was taking the hazard-laden option and turning it into a simple yes-or-no handoff. The read option makes a guy wrong without requiring a pitch, and without getting your quarterback lit up time and again. Pairing that with plays that stretch the defense across the field horizontally opens up the box, forces safeties down, and creates the kind of environments that see his teams run for nearly six yards a clip.

Borges and Hoke have a different outlook on football. Last year when the inverted veer was running riot over Ohio State, they were consistently blocking the guy a Rodriguez-style offense would consider optioned off.


This worked, but I wondered if it was working because Ryan Shazier was an injured freshman who was pretty horrible in that game. It's hard not to look at what's going on with Michael Schofield in this clip and not pine for the guy to move past the OSU DE and take on Ohrian Johnson, thus likely springing Denard for another huge gain.

Last year both myself and fellow guy who does the picture paging Chris Gaerig thought that this was an execution issue that would be hammered out given enough time, but Tyler Sellhorn, a high school OL coach who frequently emails me tips and corrections, thought this was a philosophical thing:

Dear Brian,

I think Schofield and Omameh were coached to block the DE. Hoke/Borges do not like leaving unblocked defensive linemen out there. A famous unattributed coaching axiom that I am sure that Hoke/Borges believe in is: "First level defenders cause fumbles, second level defenders make tackles." To me, this is the "MANBALL" component of M's "option" game.  True power running game people think like that.  I think that is the reason there have been fewer really long runs (the second level has been blocked less consistently this season). 

This is one philosophical difference: RR's first thought always was, "How can we mess with the safeties to get big yards when we break through the line",  Hoke/Borges first thought is "How can we mess with the DL so they are less aggro (in run and pass situations) and we don't ever have a negative play." Both work well as we have seen.

Tyler Sellhorn

The consistency with which Michigan guys were blocking the supposedly option DL was a point in his favor. At first I thought the Alabama game was the point at which this was undeniable, but now I think Alabama was blocking Michigan, not the other way around.

Optioning Nobody #1

It's Michigan's first drive. They've picked up a first down with a (horribly spotted) flare to Smith and a third down conversion from same. They come out in a two-back, three-wide set. Alabama responds with its base 3-4 set, half-rolling a safety into the box.


Michigan will run the veer. They pull Barnum (1), use Hopkins(2) as a lead blocker, and block down on the front side. This leaves the Alabama defender (3) there unblocked… for now, anyway.


Hopkins. You are not flaring out, my man. You are  doing something that isn't that.


At the mesh point, Hopkins (1) has contacted the "unblocked" Alabama defensive end. This means he is now blocked. (Science!) Hopkins is also blocked. They are mutually blocking each other. Neither can go forward very easily.

This happens really fast. The DE is doing this on purpose. His goal here is two-fold: one, to force the handoff, and two to pick off one of the lead blockers.

Barnum(2) is still pulling for the front side; since the guys blocking down have actually done a pretty good job of getting push he's got a lane. Denard(3) sees the DE underneath Hopkins and gives.


And now it's over. Hopkins has indeed eliminated the Alabama DE, and Barnum reaches the hole as Smith sprints outside. Also sprinting outside: the totally unblocked Alabama LB.

Michigan's got some other problems, too, as the playside DE came through the double on the playside when Kwiatkowski released—you can see Schofield hunched over in an "oops" way right at the LOS behind Barnum. Given Smith's angle and Barnum's this is only a further indicator that Schofield got hammered on Saturday, not an actual reason the play doesn't work.


And that's all she wrote.


Who did Michigan block with Denard's legs on this play? Nobody.


[After THE JUMP: oops they did it again :( ]


Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs OSU

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs OSU Comment Count

Brian December 8th, 2011 at 3:17 PM


they don't like it

Formation notes: Almost entirely shotgun this week. As far as OSU's defense goes: they run a nickel package on every down with Tyler Moeller the "star", a sort of hybrid safety/LB. OSU had two main alignments, one with Moeller over the slot and one with him in the box. Moeller slot == Nickel. Moeller box == 4-3. "Plus" means a safety has walked down all the way into the box.

Substitution notes: Status quo on the line and at WR. Toussaint was obviously the main guy at RB; Hopkins got some time as a single blocking back on passing downs and Denard runs. Not sure if Smith is still dinged up or if that's a shift in deployment. Moore seemed to be the second TE in this game.

In lieu of anything interesting on the Michigan side of the ball, here's an oddity from OSU: planetoid DT Jonathan Hankins spent almost the entire game playing DE. No idea why. While he made some plays out there he was useless in pass rush.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over plus Run QB sweep Robinson 5
Barnett rolled down as another LB with the SLB over the slot. Michigan pulls Schofield and Molk; Odoms runs an end around fake. Koger(+1) gets a good downblock on the playside DE, opening the corner. Toussaint has the cornerback; Schofield(+1) has Barnett. Barnett bugs out and is about to go for a ride; Molk(-1) does not see Sabino coming from the inside and runs past him. Sabino was slightly delayed by the end-around fake and he can't cut Denard off until he picks up a nice gain; could have been big time if block is made.
RUN+: Koger, Toussaint RUN-: Molk
M31 2 5 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read belly Toussaint 0
Odoms motions for the triple option look. Hankins is lined up at DE and is the unblocked zone guy. Weird. He shuffles down. Shazier is in the gray area as far as a handoff goes; playside CB is hard on the edge and will eat up a pitch. This is supposed to be a belly given the blocking but it's not there; MLB is unblocked and Toussaint has to dance around to get back to the LOS. The blocking does not make sense with Toussaint's angle of attack. Not sure who that screwup is on but assume Toussaint since the blocking is coherent. RPS -1; I can't figure out how Michigan is going to get yards here.
RUN-: Toussaint
M31 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Slant Odoms Inc
An accurate dart; Odoms is blatantly interfered with without a call. Refs -2. (CA+, 0, protection 1/1) Odoms got an illegal motion call so this would have offset.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 11 min 1st Q. Three and out plus sack plus crappy punt sets Michigan up with good field position on the next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Pro set 2 1 2 4-3 over plus Pass Flare screen Toussaint 6
Actually a T formation(!) until Hemingway motions out. Michigan runs a delay fake to Hopkins and then hits Toussaint on the flare screen. Hankins is the playside DE again and gets chopped; he's useless out there. Shazier sucks up. Gallon whiffs a block in space, as does Schofield, and Toussaint doesn't realize he's got a lot of room behind Molk, so he ends up running into the corner after a decent gain. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN-: Gallon, Schofield(0.5)
O41 2 4 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 41
Nickelback comes down off the slot to show blitz and then just forms up as LB. Short side corner does blitz. Hopkins ends up kicking him out as Denard pulls. Shazier covers Toussaint; Omameh is pulling and ends up ignoring Sabino, instead choosing to block Shazier. Robinson(+3) jukes Sabino as Omameh(+1) latches onto Shazier and pulls the Te'o special by driving him into a safety; Toussaint also improvises to help get that guy blocked. Gallon(+2) puts Barnett on the ground and that's all she wrote. Lewan(+1) crushed Hankins inside BTW. I thought Omameh screwed this up, which is why Denard had to juke, but it worked out in the end. I'm not sure about the screwup now; more later. RPS +1. Picture paged. Replay w/ Gallon block.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Omameh, Lewan, Gallon(2) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 9 min 1st Q. Safety gives M 9-7 lead and good field position on next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Denard jet 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Jet sweep Robinson 5
Basically the same play they started with from a new formation. Boise State "just plays" theory. OSU sends a guy off the edge who sets up in good position, making either the bounce or the cut upfield awkward. Michigan now running at Simon, not Hankins, and that's a big difference. Moore(-1) is owned. Denard has to bounce outside. Molk(+1) gets a shove on the contain guy Smith is blocking, giving Denard(+1) a little room before a safety comes up to contain; Smith's guy disengages to tackle.
RUN+: Robinson, Molk RUN-: Moore
O47 2 5 Ace triple stack 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 2
This is dead since the corner is sitting on it and is right on top of it to tackle on the snap. Not actually sure how this gained any yards at all. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)
O45 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 2
Well blocked and should actually be a nice gainer except Hopkins(-1) starts blocking the edge contain guy Odoms is already on, leaving Shazier free to flow to the hole. Koger(+1) got an excellent seal of Simon. Omameh did a meh job on his pull but did get a helmet on Sabino; Sabino gets playside and impacts Robinson, so when Shazier bangs into the pair their momentum stops dead.
RUN+: Koger RUN-: Hopkins
O43 4 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 5-3 eagle Run FB dive Hopkins 3
Easy because Omameh(+1) and Huyge(+1) crush one DT; NT submarines himself and Hankins isn't terribly useful; Molk(+0.5) gets enough of a shove on the MLB to prevent anyone from coming over the top and Hopkins gets it easily.
RUN+: Omameh, Huyge, Molk(0.5) RUN-:
O40 1 10 Denard jet 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Counter pitch Smith 3
No sale. Shazier reads it and gets outside of Lewan, flowing down to tackle when the corner maintains contain. Still an okay gain.
O37 2 7 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Rollout hitch Roundtree 8
With Simon doubled and Toussaint screening the edge is a given here since the slot LB is dropping into coverage. Denard finds Roundtree for a first down; throw is low and has to be dug out. Maybe that's intentional since he's keeping it away from coverage... but probably not. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)
O29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 3
Odoms in motion underneath and after the handoff Robinson fakes a bubble screen. Which was CRAZY OPEN. Borges did this to spite Heiko. The run is close to working too; expecting belly the two linebackers end up on the backside as Toussaint hits the gap between Schofield and Omameh; Shazier has bolted up into the backside of the play and is sealed away by Omameh. Schofield(-1) got shoved into the backfield, however, and Hankins has both gaps covered. He reaches out to slow Toussaint, allowing the safety to fill. Toussaint(+0.5) breaks a tackle to get some yards after contact.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5) RUN-: Schofield
O26 2 7 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Post Hemingway 26
Play action. Robinson has all day; great protection from the line and Smith lights up the LB when he comes on a delayed blitz. Live I thought this was late from Robinson but it's not really, Koger just screwed his route up by running a seam instead of what I'm sure must have been an in or something. With no safety over the top and Hemingway inside of his man all he has to do is box out. Denard underthrows it a smidge but nothing too bad; Hemingway's adjustment is simple. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 16-7
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
Schofield heads to the second level immediately and Molk(+1) has to block the NT one on one; he goes playside and Molk locks him up; Toussaint(-1) has to cut behind. He reads this late, slowing up in the hole and gingerly picking his way through the traffic. This delay allows Simon, unblocked on the backside, to hug Lewan's hip and then come around. (Koger is headed outside to potentially block contain guy Shazier, but no keep.) There's a hole because of the overplay by the NT and Omameh/Huyge comboing the DT; Omameh(-1) gets out on the MLB but is shed easily, robbing Toussaint of the ability to fall forward for a couple more or run through Simon's ankle tackle attempt.
RUN+: Molk RUN-: Toussaint, Omameh
M9 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 2
Okay, this is the second straight time the pulling guard has blocked the guy the read options off instead of heading to the second level. Michigan got away with it the first time; not so much here. Koger is blown up by Simon; Denard reads Klein shooting outside and pulls; Schofield(-1) blocks him anyway. Klein is so confused he runs after Toussaint well after the pull. This leaves Denard in a lot of space against Johnson, the safety. He makes a wrong move and Johnson makes a great open field tackle to prevent a big gain; Robinson fumbles but Michigan gets lucky on the recovery. Omameh(+1) got a good driving block to open up more room. RPS+1; this should have worked even with the screwup. (If it actually was.) BWS picture-paged.
RUN+: Omameh RUN-: Schofield, Robinson(3)
M11 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Sack -- -4
Koger motions out. Michigan rolls out to that side and gets plenty of time; Robinson can't find anyone open and eventually eats a sack. Hopkins could have done a better job cutting Simon, I guess. (TA, N/A, protection ½, Hopkins -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 16-7, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 3
Ten man football. Backside DT slants inside Lewan(-1) and Schofield(-1) and charges down the line; Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) have beaten up the other DT and Simon has to contain; Grady(+0.5) comes down on the safety and there is a developing gap. Toussaint has to run away from the backside DT and this gives Ohio State time to rally.
RUN+: Omameh(0.5), Molk(0.5), Gallon(0.5) RUN-: Lewan, Schofield
M23 2 7 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run PA scramble Robinson 5
After an inverted veer fake Robinson pulls and sets up to throw. I think Robinson needs to ride the fake longer here to get the DE to commit to Toussaint; as it is he pulls and has that guy plus a linebacker scraping over with just one blocker. DE comes in on him; Robinson takes off. Without the pressure, I think he's got Hopkins on a wheel route as Shazier is confused as hell. (SCR, N/A, protection 0/2, Robinson(!) -1, Team -1)
RUN+: Robinson RUN-:
M28 3 2 Shotgun 2-back 2TE 2 2 1 5-3 eagle Run QB power Robinson 3
Simon blows up Koger(-2), who loses him outside immediately; Simon takes out the puller and forces a bounce that Robinson can manage because Toussaint(+1) got a good block and he is Denard Robinson. He gets the first down before fumbling; this time Michigan is not so lucky. Shazier gets all limpy on this play. He'll continue but he won't be full strength. (Robinson only loses two on this play because he got a +1 for the run before the -3 for the fumble.)
RUN-: Koger(2), Robinson(2)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 16-10, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even plus Run Zone read keeper Robinson 1
One high with Moeller out on the slot and Johnson walking down. Sabino does a good job of getting outside Koger's block and Grady(-1) totally whiffs on the slot guy, so Denard can't just go outside. Would probably have gotten decent yardage if Grady gets anything on Moeller.
RUN-: Grady
M22 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass PA TE flat Koger 7
Both safeties back, for the most part. OSU blitzes a linebacker and has Simon drop off as a DT heads out on the edge for contain. No linebackers means the short flip to Koger is open; Robinson takes it. Moeller does a good job of filling; you'd still want Koger to maybe shake this guy a little and get more yards here. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M29 3 2 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-4 nickel press Pass Scramble Robinson 9
DL in a 3-4 alignment with Simon in a standup position on the edge. OSU offsides; no call. Refs -1. Their early movement reveals a slant/stunt that gets Simon past Huyge(-1); Huyge does keep shoving the guy and eases Robinson's step past him. With a DL upfield there's a running lane Robinson hits for the first, picking up another five by dodging a tackler. (SCR, N/A, protection ½, Huyge -1)
RUN+: Robinson(2) RUN-:
M38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even plus Run Sprint counter Toussaint 46
Sabino buries himself in the line on the counter action. Schofield(+1) seals one DT; Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) the other. Huyge(-1) gets chucked by the playside DE and falls to the ground; a pulling Lewan(+2) improvises to pick him up. Shazier is in a lot of space and Toussaint can go either side of the Lewan block because it's at the LOS and Lewan is shoving the guy downfield; Shazier tries to maintain leverage, forces the cutback, and slips. I don't think the slip mattered; Toussaint(+2) was one step and gone upfield. Barnett can't close him down because he hesitated, thinking Denard might have it. RPS +3.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5), Lewan(2), Toussaint(2) RUN-: Huyge
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 2
This is all about Simon. Schofield's(+0.5) guy gets upfield and is sealed away; Lewan(+0.5) gets downfield with alacrity to seal Shazier. Molk deals with the backside DT easily enough. There's Simon, unblocked, Koger on Sabino, and Hemingway(-1) on Moeller; Hemingway loses Moeller quickly to the outside and Toussaint has to cut upfield. Koger's block is okay; Simon plays this perfectly to get the handoff and still make the play on Toussaint on the cutback; he reaches out and spins him 360 with an arm tackle on the shoulder, allowing the safety to fill. I think Denard has to ride the mesh longer here to make Simon pick. He's the only guy who can deal with this.
RUN+: Schofield(0.5), Lewan(0.5) RUN-: Hemingway
O14 2 8 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle TE flat Koger 3
Nine guys tight to the line. Michigan runs PA because that's what they always do from this formation. Huyge(-2) inexplicably lets a DT go to block Shazier, DT pressures, Denard sidesteps. More guys come in now (Huyge whiffed on Shazier, too) but the threat of the run pulls Simon up and Koger is open on the sideline for a short catch and some YAC. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)
O11 3 5 Shotgun trips bunch 1 0 4 Okie Pass Drag Odoms 5
Three guys are sent up the middle; Molk and Hopkins pick up two. The last guy is unblocked as Schofield is blocking air with a DT dropping out. A guy is in Denard's face; he calmly hits Odoms on a drag route for the first. Ball is behind him but not too bad; Odoms gets hit by the safety and has to juggle and re-catch the ball as he goes to the ground. Tough, tough catch. (CA, 1, protection 0/2, team -2)
O6 1 G Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-5 umbrella Run Zone read dive Toussaint 0
Backside blitz sends contain DE Simon inside; Lewan(+1) blocks him. Koger, heading backside picks off the blitzer. Toussaint(-1) has a cut backside for six and misses it. Huyge(-1) has gotten shoved into the backfield and lost inside position on his DE; Toussaint bounces into a lot of trouble.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-: Toussaint, Huyge
O6 2 G Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even plus Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 6
DE upfield; obvious keep. Sabino heads outside for Hopkins, who he must be keying on to maintain leverage. Safety Johnson has no idea who has the ball and takes a step outside well after the mesh point. Huyge(+1) gets a good downfield block on Shazier, pancaking him; Omameh(+0.5) did enough with the playside DT, and Robinson(+1) strolls in. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-17, 3 min 2nd Q. Michigan gets the ball with little over a minute left inside their 20 and runs the clock out to end the half, then gets the opening kickoff in the second.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 8
DE is Hankins and he does not get upfield, so the handoff is made. Koger(+1) blocks Shazier, Omameh(+1) pulls and blocks Hankins, again leaving a rolled up safety one on one with Toussaint. Toussaint(+2) jukes him out of his jock with a jump cut reminiscent of his high school film. He's now on the edge; Sabino just manages to come around traffic to tackle with help from the corner, who chucked Hemingway upfield.
RUN+: Toussaint(2), Koger, Omameh RUN-:
M28 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB power Robinson 3
Odoms in motion for an end around fake. Denard keeps and it's power. OSU blitzes. Omameh(+2) crushes blitzing MLB to the ground, removing him and destroying backside pursuit. Playside DT slides outside, creating a big hole in the middle. Unfortunately, Koger(-1) is assigned to him and can't deal with it. He peels off; both Schofield and Toussaint see him as a threat so he ends up taking three blockers. Simon is to the outside of this so it's not that bad but it does leave Johnson unblocked. Robinson has a lot of space and should probably try to jet straight upfield. Instead he goes with the bounce and Moeller tracks him down, but after he picks up the first.
RUN+: Omameh(2) RUN-: Koger
M31 1 10 Ace triple stack 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
Hemingway blocks the near guy this time as eight OSU defenders are dealing with the zone fake. Odoms... heads inside. Argh. One of the two WRs has to go to the safety. Neither does. He's still about eight yards off on the catch and Gallon does juke him to the outside, but the delay allows other members of the secondary to fill, turning a potential big play into a decent one. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1.)
RUN+: Gallon RUN-: Odoms
M39 2 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 4
DE comes down so the give is made. Shazier heads outside to contain and is kicked by Hopkins(+0.5); Schofield(+0.5) comes around in time to bump the MLB. Zone stuff holds that DE inside long enough. Johnson is overhanging close to the LOS and fills quickly; Toussaint tries to bounce and Shazier closes him down. Johnson gets dinged, paving the way for Dominicoe.
RUN+: Hopkins(0.5), Schofield(0.5) RUN-:
M43 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even plus Run Triple option dive Toussaint 4
Or sort of anyway; Hopkins in motion on the speed and Toussaint runs after a handoff I bet a dollar is not a read. Toussaint sees nothing inside and bounces; Huyge(+0.5) did get the corner by not giving ground but this is not a slam dunk. Toussaint(+0.5) ducks under a Shazier tackle to turn a couple into a couple more.
RUN+: Huyge(0.5), Toussaint(0.5) RUN-:
M47 2 6 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Triple option keeper Robinson 5
Virtually the same play with Odoms coming in motion to replace Hopkins and a Denard pull. Not sure if this is a real read or not. Moeller blitzes off the edge; Koger pulls across, forcing him to delay but not actually getting a block. Robinson(+1) sees Lewan(+1) has shoved Simon down the line and shoots directly upfield, taking a shot from the MLB as he recovers from the playfake. Rolled up safety finishes it off short of the first, but very close.
RUN+: Lewan, Robinson RUN-:
O48 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 3
Odoms motion, fake jet sweep action. Lewan(+1) and Schofield(+0.5) double the playside DT, busting him back and sealing him; Lewan then pops off to the second level. Molk(+0.5) gets an easy seal on a guy lined up outside of him. Robinson leaps over the prone DT Schofield is sitting on and gets it easily.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield(0.5), Molk(0.5) RUN-:
O45 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA TE seam Koger 26
Blitz off the slot draws Lewan and leaves Schofield(-1) with Simon; Simon gets a dangerous rush. All for naught as Koger drives past Shazier after a not particularly convincing fake and Robinson lofts a perfect touch pass to him for a big gain. (DO, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1, RPS +1.) Shazier is in good position here but the throw is very good; need to make that fake better.
O19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB sweep Robinson 6
End around fake to Odoms as Molk and Schofield pull outside of Lewan and Koger. Lewan(+1) eliminates his DT. Koger almost loses Simon but manages to push him past the play as he threatens to TFL. OSU flows well to the play; Toussaint(+0.5) kicks out one LB and Schofield(+0.5) gets the MLB but those two have made creases difficult to find. Molk is also running at this situation; both he and Denard run up the back of Schofield and lurch the pile forward for a decent gain.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield(0.5), Robinson(0.5), Toussaint(0.5) RUN-:
O13 2 4 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-5 umbrella Pass Triple option pitch Odoms -7
Moeller moves late to the edge and blitzes off the corner, which forces a pitch from Robinson about a half second after the mesh point. The pitch is wildly off. I'm not sure why he kept; having that guy coming off the edge is bad news even if the pitch is completed and the handoff is the move.
RUN-: Robinson(2)
O20 3 11 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Dig Odoms 20
OSU gergs it, dropping Simon into a short zone and attempting to rush with three DTs (Hankins is still playing DE). With Hopkins protecting that's doubles for everyone and a billion years in the pocket. Robinson surveys and finally throws a dart to Odoms in between four defenders, two of whom derp each other, allowing Odoms the last three yards for the touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 3/3) Replay.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 30-24, 9 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Sprint counter Toussaint 1
Molk(+1) buries the NT. This has the unfortunate effect of taking out Schofield's legs from behind and freeing Hankins to flow down the line. Omameh(-1) whiffs on Sabino on the second level. Huyge(-1) is in a stalemate with the playside DE, who successfully forces the play back inside as Huyge kicks Shazier. Hankins whiffs as Toussaint jukes; Sabino makes the play. Somewhat unfortunate.
RUN+: Molk RUN-: Huyge, Omameh
M10 2 9 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel over Run QB draw Robinson 10
This screams QB draw but OSU can't do much about it. I assume this is a draw but the receivers mostly go into routes; Odoms is the only guy mountain goating up. Michigan doubles the NT and runs at the gap between that guy and the DE as OSU shifts their line; when neither of those guys fights into the gap it opens up wide. Huge room and Shazier can't close the space down. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5) RUN-:
M20 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel over Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 22
Omameh(+0.5) kicks the playside DT easily as he slants. DE and Shazier have to go out for the fake; Sabino picks up a hypothetical -2 by not being in the hole; he goes for Toussaint as well and this opens up huge. Huyge(+1) gets a downfield block on the filling safety. Schofield again goes for the DE; not sure I understand this but it seems like that is the way it's coached. Robinson(+2) jets for the secondary, getting a good block from Roundtree(+1) downfield. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Omameh(0.5), Molk(0.5), Roundtree, Huyge RUN-:
M42 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple option dive Toussaint 3
Hopkins motions as the pitch guy. Definitely good decision to hand as a LB is scraping over and they've brought Moeller off the slot. Huyge has a tough job as OSU aligns their playside DE inside of him and scrapes Shazier over the top of that, so the DE gets penetration and the bounce is not there. With Schofield(-1) getting busted back by Hankins there is no room; Toussaint(+0.5) wisely just burrows straight upfield, which gets Michigan a few yards when the pile is shoved forward.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5) RUN-: Schofield
M45 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA rollout out Dileo 4
Robinson's throwing on the move to his left, which is awkward, and leaves this ball short and upfield. It's catchable but Dileo is taken off his feet and denied the chance to turn upfield for a shot at the first down; probably third and one, though. (MA, 2, protection N/A)
M49 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even tight Pass Corner Grady Inc
Pure man from OSU with no one deeper than six yards. OSU sends two blitzers against five blockers, the second delayed, and there is obviously a free guy. Molk blocks both, actually, letting the initial blitzer go as Shazier comes. Not much he could do. No one is open, really—he could try Hemingway on a hitch and rely on him to box out his defender, but he's stopped and covered—and he tosses a corner route to Grady that's OOB. Torn between IN, TA, PR here. I guess it's (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1) but this is about as understandable of an IN as you can have. I also wonder about these routes. You know you're getting man, so a slant or a drag maybe? Hemingway had an opportunity to pick the guy covering Hopkins's flare but did not. RPS –1.
Drive Notes: PUNT DISASTER, 30-24, 1 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun triple stack 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB sweep Robinson 3
Odoms in motion for end around fake. Simon does a good job of stringing out the edge here; Koger(-0.5) cannot get a handle on him. This really slows things up and makes for a lot of people in the area when decision time comes. Simon does end up falling and Schofield is moving out; I think Denard makes a bad cut here as Toussaint(+0.5) got a good kick and the charging safety is coming up inside of Schofield; if he follows his lead guy he will burrow for decent yardage. Instead he cuts behind and gets tackled just past the LOS, almost losing the ball. Tough read in a brief window, but still lost yardage.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5) RUN-: Koger(0.5), Robinson(0.5)
M28 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Waggle deep out Hemingway 20
No real play action fake, just Denard spinning around to the outside as Schofield pulls to provide some edge protection. Simon dives inside and Schofield has an easy time kicking the contain-concerned LB upfield. Denard pulls up and finds a wide open Hemingway about 20 yards downfield. Better thrown ball picks up a bunch of YAC; at this depth that's the difference between a DO and (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). You can argue Denard is throwing the safe ball here and I get you.
M48 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Zone stretch Toussaint 11
Oh argh argh. Perfect time to call this as OSU sends a blitzer straight up the middle who Molk(+2) seals and disposes of. Backside guys are slanting outside and not useful; Omameh(+1) gets a seal on the other linebacker, who was almost moving away from the playside. Hankins is pushing hard to the the playside and forces it back inside, into the cavern just described. Lewan has a block on Moeller on the edge but Toussaint(+1) can't cut upfield and back outside quick enough to not bang into it; he stumbles a bit. Grady(-0.5) loses his block downfield and Hopkins(-1) doesn't block the safety, instead going to double the player Hemingway already has. Toussaint is stumbling forward when the corner and safety converge on him. RPS +2; Michigan was a block and a half from one BILLION yards.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Toussaint RUN-: Hopkins, Grady(0.5)
O41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 10
Robinson delayed by a stunt that gets Hankins thrumbling his way into the backfield. OL does a reasonable job with it and the stunt does open up a big running lane once Robinson(+1) gets around it, so RPS push. Omameh(+1) deals with the other DT well, holding his block a long time. Molk's looking around for someone to block and finds no one; Shazier beats Toussaint thanks to the delay but is delayed himself; Denard runs through his arm tackle attempt. Safety fills near the sticks. Hemingway(+1) gets a  great, extended block on his guy. RPS +1 overall.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh, Hemingway RUN-: Toussaint(0.5)
O31 2 In I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 5 + 13 Pen
Line slants away from the play; Schofield(+1) buries the playside DT. Hankins has slid inside and blows up Omameh(push, he is not expecting to deal with a cutback and gets on the wrong side) but the Schofield block means Toussaint(+1) can cut behind that easily. He picks up the first, at which point unblocked dudes converge since Toussaint has cut away from his blocking. Shazier rips his head off for 15 more. RPS +1
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield RUN-:
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read keeper Robinson 3
Cover zero with man. Michigan lets Hankins go and Koger(+1) flares out on Shazier, eventually pancaking him. When Hankins gets too aggressive Denard pulls. Good decision but Lewan moves to the second level and ends up blocking no one because his assumption is he's walling the defender off from the zone. Robinson ends up tackled by both those guys in space.
RUN+: Koger RUN-:
M10 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper   6
Simon comes HARD off the edge, unblocked, and crushes Toussaint in the mesh point. Denard pulls at the last second a la MSU 4th down conversion. Robinson gets bumped, too, and instead of heading straight upfield into open space he has to orbit around this mess. Shazier comes underneath a block; Robinson runs past him, jersey tugged but not enough. He cuts behind Roundtree(+1) blocking a DB and gets chopped down by the last man, Barnett. Dang, Denard(+3). Hemingway did a good job of moving on to another DB after Shazier got upfield, creating some of that space Denard used.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Hemingway, Roundtree RUN-:
M4 3 1 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Pass Waggle TE corner Koger 4
Hopkins and Toussaint offset, in a semi-pro-style thing. Michigan runs a deeply bizarre play action fake with OL blocking like it's a sweep and Toussaint coming in a counter motion; Koger releases downfield and is wide open for six. Confusion. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 37-27, 8 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Sweep Toussaint 2
Unbalanced. M tries to pull Molk and Schofield; Hankins goes straight upfield and removes Molk from the play while simultaneously forcing Toussaint outside. Koger(-1) is on Simon and Simon swims past him; Toussaint can only run to the corner. He does well to get a couple yards. RPS -1.
RUN-: Koger
M22 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Pass Rollout corner Dileo 28
M gets the corner, at least enough. Denard pulls up and fires as Sabino starts rushing at him, finding Dileo just breaking open in front of the safety and hitting him in the safest place possible; Dileo has to make a tough catch to bring the ball in. NFL all around. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Zone read dive Toussaint -1
Only six in the box and this should be money. Not so much. With the TE to the same side as the RB, this is a situation in which a cutback is your primary read off the handoff; since it's made the DE is upfield and since Omameh(+1) got a good block on the backside DT it's there. Toussaint(-2) cuts to the wrong side of Schofield, robs Molk of his blocking angle, and gets swarmed. Denard even cuts the backside DE! Cut back, Fitz!
M49 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 16
Shazier blitzes and is picked up by Hopkins(+1). Hankins is sliding into the lane; Molk(+1) blocks him into Schofield(+0.5) and then releases. Denard(+1) into the second level. He sets up Molk's downfield block and glides to an easy first down. RPS +1.
O37 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 20
Moeller over the slot, leaving just two LBs and the overhang corner plus a safety in the area. Omameh(+2) and Huyge(+2) destroy the playside DT. Molk(+1) throws Hankins to the ground. This plus a good read from Toussaint and the OSU LBs flowing hard to the intended hole gives a cutback lane that is hit with authority; Lewan(+1) walled off Simon on the backside with help from Denard's waggle motion. Toussaint into the secondary, where he's barely roped down.
RUN+: Toussaint, Lewan, Omameh(2), Huyge(2) RUN-:
O17 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 2
Well blocked but eighth guy in the box plus power from the I equals bad. Koger(+0.5) flares out on Moeller; Schofield(+1) seals Hankins; Omameh(+1) makes a much better pull, getting to the hole as fast as possible, getting a block on Sabino. Hopkins(+0.5) kicks Simon and this should work except for the unaccounted-for safety. RPS -1.
RUN+: Koger(0.5), Hopkins(0.5), Koger (0.5), Schofield. RUN-:
O15 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB power Robinson 11
Odoms end around fake. OSU has two LBs at the LOS and they blow themselves out of the play. Toussaint(+1) takes on a charging, unblocked Simon at exactly the right spot and shoves him out of the play upfield. Koger(+1) and Lewan(+1) donkey Hankins. Schofield(+1) seals blitzing Shazier. Denard has all of the room. Omameh(+1) gets a good block on the safety; Robinson cuts to the wrong side of that block and turns this from a TD into not quite a TD. I am not that mad since he plows inside the five. Push there. RPS +1.
RUN+: Omameh, Lewan, Koger, Toussaint, Schofield RUN-:
O4 1 G Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 Goal line Run QB power Robinson -1
A massive pile of bodies. Hankins beats Koger(-1) upfield. Schofield gets slanted under. A blitzing LB gets past Molk and takes out the pulling Omameh, removing any cutback lanes. Hopkins(-0.5) should pound the dude Schofield has sort of lost and helped the burrowing, but it's pretty much a lost cause by then. RPS -1.
RUN-: Koger, Hopkins(0.5)
O5 2 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Power off tackle Toussaint 5
NT slants outside and live I thought this was Toussaint making a great play; it's not, its Schofield(+2) reacting to push the slanting NT past the play. Toussaint(+1) does cut past the problem smoothly, but it's Schofield adjusting that makes this. With the NT gone it's Molk(+1) owning a blitzing LB and Huyge(+1) getting a downfield block on Shazier that gets Toussaint into the endzone. Sort of, anyway. There are two angles, one of which is obviously out and one of which is obviously in. SURPRISE: it's based on the angle of the camera. Refs -2.
RUN+: Molk, Schofield(2), Toussaint, Huyge RUN-:
O1 3 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Bootleg Robinson 1 (pen -25!)
This gets the corner; Omameh(-2) does hold the guy on the edge. Watson does plug this guy. I kind of wish they just did the QB sneak. The downside there is nil. RPS -1.
RUN-: Omameh(2)
O25 3 G Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Throwaway Roundtree Inc
I'm surprised this is a throw instead of free ten yards given the situation, but they go for it; Robinson has no one except maybe a check down and is being pursued so he just chucks it OOB. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(42), 40-34, 2 min 4th Q


All of the points. Michigan had not scored that many points against Ohio State since a 58-6 whipping by Fritz Crisler and company in 1946. If you give the safety to the defense 2006 beats it and 2000 ties it, but then you've got the whole touchdown fiasco.

And what's more, that was a short game. Michigan had only ten drives. None of them were turnover-spawned and many of them were long. Michigan put up 460 yards of offense. Against Ohio State. In ten drives.

How did this happen?

Remember the 2005 Rose Bowl, when Michigan felt the wrath of Vince Young? While Young did put up 192 rushing yards what lost Michigan the game was the invincible robot going 16 of 28 for 180 yards in the air.

Invincible robot chart?

Invincible robot chart.

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]

2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%
Northwestern '11 4 12(3) 1 7 2 - - - 1 59%
MSU '11 1 8(1) 4(1) 6 5 - 1 7 1 40%
Purdue '11 1 7(1) - 1 2 1 - 2 - 66%
Iowa '11 2 21 2 7 1 - 3(1) 2 - 69%
Illinois '11 1 4(1) 1 2 - 1(1) - 1 1 66%
Nebraska '11 1 12(3) - 2 2 1 1(1) 1 3 66%
Ohio State '11 3 10(3) 2 1 - 2 - - 1 77%

Lethal, lethal, lethal. His one IN was a corner route thrown to Grady on a third and medium when everyone was covered and he had an unblocked blitzer coming up the middle. His two MAs were completions. His DOs were fantastic. Finding Odoms on third and eleven was the best:

He sees that linebacker vacate his zone to chase Hemingway and lasers it in. Pray this is a consistent thing.

Meanwhile in open versions of Hemingway:

Various Buckeyes on twitter bemoaned the fact that Denard missed Koger so badly that he hit Hemingway, which is laughable, man.

Robinson dealt with a lot of pressure effectively, scooting out for a scramble and calmly hitting Odoms for a critical third down conversion in the redzone. There is nothing to criticize in his passing this game. You know what that performance warrants? The "Denard Robinson killed Tacopants" tag.

So… we have a pattern now. In the beginning of the year Denard had no idea what to do with this passing offense and his lack of comfort screwed up his mechanics. As he progressed and Borges adapted to his strengths the comfort level rose and he hit a plateau of totally acceptable performances before lighting up OSU. The progress is undeniable. He'll regress a bit against VT but if he nudges his DSR above 70% it's time to quietly hope he can have a ridiculous career capping year in 2012.

The best part of going 14/17 for ten YPA? Three QB draws for 10, 10, and 16 yards. Run and tell that, homeboy. If Denard is the QB he became after the trash tornado game, look out: 59% completions, 7-4 TD-INT, 8.4 YPA against Purdue/Iowa/Illinois/Nebraska/OSU translates into… I don't even know what.

Yea, and we looked unto his serene face and praised him.

So the big chart is the big chart and you are going to be skipping to the last bit:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 9.5 1 8 Effective against DTs, mostly, also getting to the second level.
Schofield 9.5 4.5 5 Fortunate to have a sixth OL as competent as this.
Molk 10 1 9 Great day picking up blitzing LBs.
Omameh 15 4 11 Has picked it up late.
Huyge 7 3 4 Had some issues but hardly a weak link.
Barnum - - - DNP
Moore - 1 -1 Heir apparent next year.
Watson - - - DNP
Koger 5.5 5.5 0 Simon was a tough matchup.
TOTAL 56.5 20 65% Slight step back from Nebraska but still a quality day. Very little penetration yielded.
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 16.5 8.5 8 A bunch of awesome and then two fumbles and a bad pitch.
Gardner - - -  
Toussaint 12.5 4.5 8 Step back from his 18(!) last week but consistently a playmaker.
Shaw - - - DNP
Smith - - - Did not register; did get a critical Mountain Goat.
Hopkins 2 2.5 -0.5 Bit of an off day.
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan - - - Did not register.
TOTAL 31 14.5 16.5 Two! Two fantastic runners. AH AH AH
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway 2 1 1  
Odoms - 1 -1  
Gallon 3 1 2 Key block on long Denard TD.
Roundtree 3 - 3  
Grady 0.5 1.5 -1 --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo - - - --
TOTAL 8.5 4.5 4 Solid.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 21 10 68% Team 4, Huyge 3, Robinson(!) 1, Schofield 1, Hopkins 1
RPS 19 7 12 BAM

The inverted veer tore Ohio State up and Borges got good mileage out of the throwback screen. There were plenty of open receivers and Borges pulled out some old staples that had been put in the barn for a while: the sprint counter and PA TE seam picked up huge chunks on Michigan touchdown drives. He even got an easy flip into the endzone on play action.

I want to focus on what happened in the fourth quarter. After the punt disaster Michigan gets the ball back on their own 20 up three points. Their drive goes like so:

  1. QB sweep for 3
  2. Waggle action rollout to deep, uncovered Hemingway for 20
  3. Zone stretch for 11
  4. QB draw for 10
  5. I-Form power for 5 on second and inches
  6. Zone read keeper for 3
  7. Inverted veer keeper for 6
  8. Waggle TE corner for 4 yards and a TD

These are all different; OSU had not seen plays 2, 3, 5, or 8. On second and medium in the fourth up three, Borges throws the ball downfield. On the next play he RPS+2s OSU by running a stretch against a linebacker blitz up the middle. A few plays later he does it again. Remember how we were talking about the Boise State "just plays" philosophy? The TD was that incarnate.

So you've got this pro-set sweep thing with counter something something and what the hell is going on? Michigan hasn't aligned in that formation all year. It hasn't run anything like that all year. There is nothing for the defense to key on. They have no idea what's happening in front of them and end up so mesmerized Koger can declare his corner of the endzone Kevin Koger's Kogerland and hold elections without anyone noticing. President for life of Kevin Koger's Kogerland: Kevin Koger. First order of business: a motion to put six points on the board. Vote: unanimously in favor. Ratify that baby, Vice Exchequer Gibbons.

And then on the next drive Michigan gets the ball up three with seven minutes left; on second and eight Borges dials up the Dileo corner for 28 yards. Michigan marches down the field and coulda-shoulda-did put the game out of reach.

That continued aggression got Michigan ten points on drives starting from the 25 and 20 in the fourth quarter. Without it Michigan does not win this game.

How about that offensive line?

Hey, remember early in the year when everyone was saying they were overrated and Michigan was doomed? Yeah. No. While they too experienced a frustrating transition period, once they got their feet under them they helped rack up Michigan's massive rushing numbers.

Against OSU they were executing at a very high level; when they were defeated it was because Hankins and Simon are very good players, not because of anything poor they did. Sometimes when runs went backwards it was the tailback's fault, not theirs. They even broke a power big when Omameh and Huyge thumped a DT five yards backwards:

mmmmm grasss

Watch Omameh pull along the line and get to the hole way before Robinson:

That is how it's done, and that's night and day from Omameh's kind-of-sad attempts to pull earlier in the year. Compare and contrast the above with a similar QB power from the MSU game:

Funk has brought him a long way in a short time. I'm not sure if Omameh will ever have the size and strength Michigan wants in their guards but he's a hell of a lot better now.

They're not great all along the line like some of Michigan's units from a decade ago but combined with Robinson and Borges they've put up better numbers than anyone in 15 years. Molk is an all-timer at center, Lewan is still on the Jake Long track (and past the half-way point), and Schofield is going to be a very good three year starter. The right side is a little shakier but I don't think I'd trade for any line in the conference save Wisconsin. OSU's went out the window when Mike Adams got thrashed in pass protection two or three times.

What about that third and goal from the inch call?

That is the one thing I had an issue with. From that spot on the field I would sneak it 100% of the time since the chance of success is very high and the downside is a yard loss, if that*. Putting yourself on the edge exposes you to the possibility of negative events without a commensurate increase in success rates.

There was a second thing: once you're back on the 26 I'm just taking the free chunk of yards OSU will cede and setting up a chip shot field goal. The chances of actually scoring from the 26 are close to zero and the field goal from the 43 is not a gimme. Running for ten yards makes your FGA a lot less harrowing and strips OSU of its last timeout.

*[If you're thinking about Chad Henne's fumble against ND in 2005, you have to make the exchange on any call you make.]


Ah, yes. Those guys. Very strong day.

[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - - 2/2 11 0/2 8/9 22/25
Roundtree 1 - 1/1 - 12 2/7 6/8 9/10
Odoms 1 1/1 - 1/1 4 1/1 1/1 5/5
Grady 1 - - - 6 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon -


- 2/2 7 - 2/3 25/25
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - 2/2 - - 0/2 4/5 3/3
Jackson - - - - - - 1/1 1/1
Koger - - - 4/4 6 1/3 3/4 14/15
Moore - - - - 2 - 1/1 -
Toussaint - - - 1/1 - - - 5/6
Shaw - - - - - - - 1/1
Smith - - - - 4 0/2 1/1 7/8
Hopkins - - - - 2 - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

100% on catchable balls with a 1 and three 2s. They were money.

Have you ever felt personally taunted by a college coordinator?

Not until last Saturday.

/shakes fist at Borges
/looks at above RPS numbers
/sheepishly ceases fist-shaking
/makes a golden idol or something

So what was with the pulling guards blocking optioned guys on the inverted veer?

I thought this was a mistake due to a lack of reps, but like Troy Woolfolk jumping short routes it happened with such consistency that it eventually became clear it was no mistake. Tyler Sellhorn has a possible explanation:

Dear Brian,

I think Schofield and Omameh were coached to block the DE. Hoke/Borges do not like leaving unblocked defensive linemen out there. A famous unattributed coaching axiom that I am sure that Hoke/Borges believe in is: "First level defenders cause fumbles, second level defenders make tackles." To me, this is the "MANBALL" component of M's "option" game.  True power running game people think like that.  I think that is the reason there have been fewer really long runs (the second level has been blocked less consistently this season). 

This is one philosophical difference: RR's first thought always was, "How can we dick with the safeties to get big yards when we break through the line", Hoke/Borges first thought is "How can we dick with the DL so they are less aggro (in run and pass situations) and we don't ever have a negative play." Both work well as we have seen.

Tyler Sellhorn

To me it's weird that you'd option a guy off and still block him, but we saw Denard keep on the inverted veer five times and these were the results:

  1. WOOPS unblocked Sabino in the hole and gets to the sideline for 42-yard TD.
  2. Does not WOOP unblocked Johnson in the hole, gains two yards.
  3. DE flies way upfield, Hopkins takes Shazier outside without having to block him, Schofield moves to second level to block Johnson, six yard TD.
  4. Sabino blows his assignment and heads out on Toussaint. Pulling G blocks DE.
  5. Simon annihilates mesh point, Robinson pulls and miracles his way into six yards.

We can't glean anything from #5 since it did not go as intended. On three of the other four the pulling guard blocked the optioned DE. On the other, he got to the second level. Why? My theory is because there was no one else on the edge but the DE. On the other runs OSU ran blitzes that forced Hopkins to block guys other than the DE, who was then in a position to make a play on the ball, hypothetically, and received the attention of the pulling G. On the six yard TD the DE flew upfield to contain Toussaint and the puller moved on.


Nobody. The only bad things to happen on the day were Denard's fumbles.


Everybody. Denard, Molk, Omameh, Lewan most of all.

What does it mean for Virginia Tech and the future?

It means we're going to be disappointed when Michigan does not execute flawlessly in the Sugar Bowl.

It also hints at fantastic things for next year. If Denard can maintain that level of play in the air the offense goes from dang good but inconsistent to


Can he? Well… probably not. We've got a lot more evidence pointing the other way. But you can't rule out something like the last five games, if not a little better, over the whole of 2012. That would be a great offense if they can just keep every single offensive lineman healthy throughout the whole year and find a tight end. And figure out what life without David Molk is like. So… some questions, but so much promise.


Picture Pages: Inverted Veer FTW

Picture Pages: Inverted Veer FTW Comment Count

Brian December 7th, 2011 at 12:35 PM

This will not be a surprise to BWS readers, but dangit I also have my veer package and I'm going to run it. Because so there.

NOMENCLATURE NOTE. This from Chris Brown on nomenclature complaints:

Also I saw your note on whether the play should be labeled an "inverted veer." Others may disagree, but to me the fact that there's a guard pull doesn't make it not a "veer" -- you can have a veer play with all kinds of block schemes ("down" schemes, inside zone schemes but leaving a guy unblocked). The regular veer is just where the RB and QB go to the same side and you leave a defender unblocked. I may be responsible for the "inverted veer" name from naming it that a couple of years ago but I hear coaches call it that all the time now. "Dash read" is the other way to call it but that's not all that descriptive.

I put up a post on the scheme from this year. I note in there that you can run the play with either power blocking and a guard pull or zone blocking; I know teams that do both. Just depends how you want to deal with the second level.

I've been calling it inverted veer for a long time and it's not wrong-wrong—"veer" generally means leaving a playside DE unblocked, which the play does. I'll keep calling it that and note when it does not feature a pulling G.


Show show. Michigan finally—finally—made the inverted veer a primary part of their offense, fulfilling a desire I've had ever since Smart Football posted on the thing way back when. It worked really well, from Denard's 41 yard touchdown to open the scoring to Denard's six yard touchdown to continue the scoring, to… yeah. You get it.

The veer was perhaps the core play of an offense that did this to Ohio State:

  1. three and out
  2. 47-yard touchdown drive
  3. 52-yard touchdown drive
  4. three and out
  5. Michigan gets a first down, whereupon Denard fumbles
  6. 80-yard touchdown drive
  7. 80-yard touchdown drive
  8. 40-yard drive from own nine followed by punt disaster
  9. 75-yard touchdown drive
  10. 80-yard touchdown drive that morphs into 54-yard field goal drive thanks to replay incompetence and penaltyfest

Without looking it up I guarantee you that is Michigan's best-ever offensive performance against the Great Satan in the modern era. That is a short game and 38 legitimately acquired points. Ten real drives, six touchdowns, four of them 75 yards or longer, two three and outs. An average of 46 yards a drive. As weird and disappointing as Michigan's defensive performance was, the offense made up for it in spades.

And the thing is, I'm not sure Michigan is even running the veer that well. You know how Denard had to juke that guy on his 41-yard touchdown? He shouldn't have had to. Omameh blocked the guy the play options off:


With a lead blocker taking the corner you can see the read is Shazier here. Shazier indicates he's flaring out (or Denard just pulls because that seems to be the default on the veer). The pull is a good default since Shazier has a nasty tendency to have no idea where the ball is on plays like this, a major reason Penn State tore up the Buckeye run D. (It's worth noting that for all the panting about Shazier once Sweat went out OSU opponents ran for 6.1 (PSU) and 6.2 YPC (Michigan).)

Here the mesh has already transpired, Denard has pulled, Shazier is still charging at Toussaint, and Denard is going to get a bunch of yards once Omameh blocks MLB Sabino.


SPOILER ALERT: Omameh is not going to block Sabino.




Now, Omameh does latch on to Shazier. And Shazier has no momentum since he held up and started going backwards; Omameh Te'o's the dude back into a safety with a little help from an improvising Toussaint. I'm a ol' softie so I gave him a plus one despite a missed assignment.


Denard sees grass. Denard runs. Some dude waves a pompom in front of his kneel, which is frustrating but apropos.


This is what pom poms are for: to block vision.


The replay:

Items of Interest

That is not how they draw it up. They draw it up with Omameh blocking Sabino and Denard jetting past Shazier directly upfield. Here it works out well, but the other play I hate BWS for beating me to had a sadface outcome:


Schofield did the exact same thing Omameh did on this play, blocking the guy who the play options off. The guy way behind the LOS who isn't John Simon? Dude ran himself there because he had no idea who had the ball. Schofield should be moving to the second level to pick off S Orhian Johnson.


This time Denard makes the wrong cut and gets two yards.

As BWS says:

For me, this isn't quite as frustrating as when Michigan fails to run from under center. This seems like a repetition issue. Neither Omameh or Schofield have practiced this blocking scheme as much as they probably should, and pulling across the formation and finding the right defender to block is probably one of those things that just takes getting used to.

That said ARGHHH. Block the right guy. I wonder what goes through Denard's mind during a play like this. "Yes, yes, got'em. Remember, take a knee. Troll Tebow. Chest bump. Hoke Point." Tackled.

This wasn't an issue on the six-yard Denard TD, on which the optioned guy was the way-upfield DE and Hopkins ran outside, taking Shazier with him before blocking him. Denard ended up cutting behind Huyge, who released downfield; Schofield pulled and got a block on Johnson.

BTW, the above-picture play was part of Michigan's second (and last!) three and out. Borges uber alles.

Even with that! Okay, the above is frustrating, but, God, look at all that space. How many times do you think Denard gets corralled there? And what is the payoff when he isn't?

Borges's wonky little adjustment from earlier in the season here is using a lead blocker for the sweep action, which pulls a second defender outside—one evidently unprepared to make this read since nobody ever thinks Denard has it—and makes the pull even more dangerous because of hockey power play analogy*. The veer forces that safety into the box and still works.

[You have a bigger advantage 4 on 3 than 5 on 4; here equal numbers with Denard in space is basically a power play.]

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: MOUNTAIN GOAT. Where is the safety? Jeremy Gallon turned him into a smoking heap of scrap metal.


And he knows it.



I don't know what it is about five-eight guys from Florida. Their agility helps them in open space, for one, and their height means they are unusually able to get into the chests of opposing defensive backs. And there's some mountain goat in those boys somewhere.

Rep that, rep that, rep that. There are things other than "pulling guard doesn't block the optioned guy" that seemed like they could be coached up: on one play that ended up a give John Simon split the difference between the two potential ballcarriers and managed to spin Toussaint around at the LOS.

Denard could/should be riding the mesh point a little longer to force that DE to commit when it's not obvious. Maybe not; that is a great play by a great player and sometimes that's just going to happen. I just remember Juice Williams holding that thing forever, until the DE freaked out and took off for the tailback, and then being a 500-foot-tall robot.

Play action lack frustrating. Michigan went to a play action look off of this that turned into a five yard scramble instead of a potentially huge play because there were two unblocked guys on the edge and one blocker (who didn't block anyone). This has been a consistent frustration going back to the last couple years of the Rodriguez era: Michigan struggles to effectively run deep play action because the nature of their shotgun run game often leaves players unblocked and forces quick throws.

Rodriguez avoided this with QB Oh Noes pop passes on which Denard faked his iso and then dropped to pass. No pulling linemen, no edge issues, no guys who must be left alone for the play to seem convincing. I'm hoping Borges works something out to get big plays off counters to this over the offseason.


Picture Pages: Final Bubble Treatise

Picture Pages: Final Bubble Treatise Comment Count

Brian November 16th, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Complaining about the lack of bubble screens in Michigan's offense has become a hobby-horse here. Some people find this weird. I admit that a focus on one particular play, no matter what it is, is often missing the forest for a tree, and my focus on a play that picks up eight yards if run well is a little maniacal. But I see a lot of things not work and think 1) the bubble is open and 2) that might have worked if the bubble wasn't open.

While the bubble seems like an option you can take or leave, it's actually a key way to make every player on the offense an effective blocker every play. When Magee goes to his cutups in those videos about the spread 'n' shred philosophy, the guy asking most of the questions* wants to see bubbles first.

*[who I think is Harvard's coach since he talks about playing Columbia and a pizza place on "Comm Ave" that Google reveals is in Boston.]

The bubble is a constraint that opens up other things and forces the defense into positions it would rather not take. Michigan saw this first hand, as a series of first half bubbles forced Jake Ryan into the slot against Northwestern. Even that wasn't enough to hold down the single bubble the Wildcats ran in the second half before fumbles and interceptions and Michigan scoring on every drive terminated Northwestern's ability to use them.

It's not just a play. It's part of a coherent whole. Spreading the field stresses the defense only if you make the D cover everyone horizontally. Smart Football explained a long Oregon touchdown in the recent Stanford game and I was struck by the difference between the way Stanford defends this play


…and the way Illinois defended a similarly unbalanced formation from Michigan:


That is a similar setup with one extra guy in the backfield. The highlighted defender to the top of the screen is the equivalent of #3 at the top of the Stanford defense (not the guy on the line)… unless the highlighted guy at the bottom—the corner—is. Someone on this defense is not respecting the threat of Junior Hemingway.

Michigan will run the play I've been calling "inverted veer", which is probably not the best terminology since various people say people call it "dash" and since it features a guy pulling to the frontside of the play it's not really a "veer"—if you care about these things. It's too late for me since I've got a tag, but you can still save yourself.

Anyway, on the snap, before the mesh point, it is clear that both highlighted defenders are going to get involved in the run defense. 


Where is the equivalent guy in the Stanford play?


His feet are the ones bugging out for the bubble at the top of the screen. This effectively blocks a defender without having to engage that receiver's potentially crap blocking skills.

Junior Hemingway's existence, in contrast, is pointlessly lonely:


There isn't anyone within five yards of him by the time the mesh point passes. Even before the mesh it's clear the bubble is going to be open, if it was being run.

Anyway, at the mesh point the containing DE is containing so Denard pulls.


This options off a DE; the slot guy is being taken by Hopkins; the playside LB will get kicked by the pulling Omameh. There is no one for the corner, and this has turned into a run up the middle.


This is pretty much dead at this point. Michigan's got some problems on the line, too: you can see that the Lewan/Schofield combo block hasn't even sealed the playside DT, let alone the WLB… but that's just another reason the play isn't going to work since Denard is tackled in the backfield by that backside CB:


Pile of bodies, no gain, third down.



Items of Interest

This isn't to say I think Borges did a bad job in this game. I did get a little frustrated by the forays into the I that were spectacularly unsuccessful—before the Toussaint runs in garbage time Michigan had run seven times out of the I for –1 yards—and the lack of responses to the increasingly aggressive Illinois defense. HOWEVA, in context the move was to go conservative and get out of Dodge; before that was the move he tore up a good defense and was thwarted largely by things out of his control.

There are multiple issues with this play and I'm not suggesting the bubble is a panacea. I am saying it is going to work for tons of yards here, but it's not the only reason this play gets thumped.

The threat of the bubble effectively options off another defender. This means more space for people who are good in space, one more opportunity to blow something for the defense, and mitigates the following.

Receivers' blocking eh… not so good. On the play where Denard fumbled he actually had a good setup for the pull: the backside DE has shuffled down the line and Koger went around him to the edge.


Unfortunately, Junior Hemingway's consistently crap blocking reared its head on this play and the slot LB—who is actually covering the WR on this play—created problems.


Denard has to cut back. If Michigan's running a bubble this guy is either outside of the hash or Denard's throwing it to Hemingway or the Illinois defense is getting super aggressive and opening itself up to a Worst Waldo play. Since he's just a wide receiver who can't block Denard loses an opportunity to burst into a ton of space.

Lack of bubbles = lack of big plays (that aren't chuck and hope)? If you're looking for a culprit when it comes to the lack of long plays that are very open, the lack of the humble bubble screen is a candidate. When you spread the field and make the defense defend all eleven players on every play, a single breakdown means big yards. If you're covering every WR man to man and trying to leave two deep safeties, this is the result:


Michigan has put a lot less stress on safeties this year because they run a bunch of plays from a formation in which opponent safeties think "if they run it will be for half a yard" and when they're in the shotgun they aren't really in the spread, if you catch my drift. By not attacking the outside consistently Michigan lets opponents defend them with two deep.

In the inverted veer above the guy on Hemingway starts 13 yards off the LOS, which means the free safety can come down on the run without worrying about an Oh Noes.

Also bubbles work, yo. I mean, sure, opponents freaked out about them in the RR era since they were a foundational component of the offense but when they were run they worked, and when opponents run them against Michigan (or State vs Iowa) they pick up chunks. When you can get a chunk on first down you have a low-pressure environment to probe with your run game.

This is clearly a philosophical thing that is permanent. I'll drop it now, and this is not a criticism of Al Borges's overall philosophy—we have no idea what that's going to be like. It's clear, however, that the vast bulk of teams who use the quarterback as a runner believe the bubble is an integral part of the effectiveness of the offense. Michigan doesn't, and unless Borges can explain that in a way better than "don't ask me about it" its absence will rankle.


Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Purdue

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Purdue Comment Count

Brian November 2nd, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Formation notes: We have lost control of the Denard categorization. Here's a quasi-Fritz with two twinned WRs:


They also ran this without the overload. Note the covered TE. Michigan's been covering the TE for big chunks of this year but never quite as frequently as they did in this game.

We also got Denard in the slot in a not-weird formation:


Denard was also an outside WR in a conventional ace set. On all of these plays he came in motion for a jet sweep fake or ran the end-around motion.

There was also the triple stack that featured in the Multiple Flood picture pages.


Michigan deployed a variant of this with double stacks on both sides of the LOS.

Substitution notes: The line was what it ususally is except Barnum got three drives towards the end of the half before tweaking his ankle and they finally pulled Lewan on the last drive I charted. Gardner you know about; he's getting a dozen or so snaps per game.

Hopkins played 80% of the FB snaps; Toussaint was the main back with Smith featuring in occasionally and getting his usual massive throwback screen; Shaw was the third guy. WR rotation was the usual. Jeremy Jackson may be getting a little more PT as the year progresses. Brandon Moore got in some actual snaps in place of Watson.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Power off tackle Toussaint 15
Koger and Lewan block down with Molk and Schofield pulling and Hopkins acting as another lead blocker. Lewan(+1) buries the interior of the Purdue line. Koger(+2) has a battle on his hands; he eventually wins it, sealing the playside DE and giving Toussaint the outside. Molk(+1) shoves a linebacker attacking from the inside to the ground and Schofield kicks out the playside LB. Toussaint has a crease and his FB has no one to block until the first down marker. This makes yards.
RUN+: Lewan, Koger(2), Schofield, Molk RUN-:
M45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run QB iso Robinson 5
WDE jumps the snap count; Denard fumbles said snap. This doesn't have much impact on the play since it's going up the middle on a QB draw/iso type thing and he was going to delay anyway; the delay is now just picking up the ball. Omameh(+1) takes on a heavy rush from one DT and shoves him upfield, out of the play. Molk(+0.5) gets an easy downfield block on one LB; Smith(+1) has to dance through some traffic to get out on his guy; Robinson starts cutting behind those blocks into the secondary when Huyge(-1) loses his guy upfield; that guy disconnects to tackle.
RUN+: Omameh, Smith, Molk(0.5), Robinson(0.5) RUN-: Huyge
50 2 5 Denard jet 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Jet stretch Robinson -1
This is basically an outside zone. DE blows way upfield of Koger(-1), cutting off the outside and taking out Smith. Robinson is now hesitant(-1); instead of bursting to one side or the other of Molk's block he slows up, slips to the ground, and loses yardage. The cutback was there because Schofield(+0.5) slashed the backside DE to the ground; hitting it up hard past Molk would have gotten a few.
RUN+: Schofield(0.5), Molk(0.5) RUN-: Koger, Robinson(2)
M49 3 6 Shotgun stack 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Comeback Hemingway 10
Three WRs stacked behind each other on the wide side of the field. They split, with Grady on an out, Roundtree a post, and Hemingway a comeback. Denard steps up into a clean pocket on a five man rush and zips it to Hemingway, who is covered well. Good timing. This looks like a passing offense. You know. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3)
O41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass TE Out Koger Inc
Robinson looks left, pumps left, comes to the TE out right, and nearly throws a pick as Holland undercuts the route and gets his hands on the ball. Preview of his INT here. Wonder if Borges saw something that looked vulnerable that Purdue changed. (BR, 0, protection 2/2) This isn't hesitation or anything—Robinson throws the ball just as Koger turns for it. Purdue only had six in the box, which screams “check to run” to me.
O41 2 10 Fritz twins 2 1 2 Nickel even Run Reverse Gallon 11 – 15 Pen
Screenshot above. Backside DE is keeping contain on Gardner; when he sees the handoff he takes off after Robinson. When Gallon gets it he's done. Gardner(+1) gets the key block on the containing corner; once that guy is being fussed with there's no one inside to deal with Gallon. Hemingway(-1) did not get out on the LB over him (Holland); that guy eventually runs down the line to tackle. This is pretty bad by Hemingway, who had all day to seal off a basically stationary opponent. RPS+2. Lewan gets a personal foul about 30 yards downfield; no replay.
RUN+: Gardner, Gallon RUN-: Hemingway
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Hitch Hemingway 6
Simple pitch and catch with Purdue evidently in man. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O39 2 4 Denard jet 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Counter pitch Smith 5
Jet motion, fake handoff, outside pitch with pullers. These are Huyge and Molk w/ Omameh and Koger blocking down. Koger(+1) seals his guy with authority; Huyge(+1) kicks out the corner; Molk(+1) picks off Holland; Schofield(-1) watched Holland, his intended block, run too far outside too quickly and turns around instead of trying to get out on the safety. Safety tackles
RUN+: Koger, Molk, Huyge RUN-: Schofield
O34 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Throwback screen Gallon 23
WR in the backfield motions out. They run the play that always works. It works. Huyge(+1) gets enough of the corner and that's all she wrote. Molk is sitting, waiting for someone to block who never actually makes contact. Ditto Omameh. Omameh(+1) did do a good job of maintaining a position that caused the safety to keep backing up; he can't do anything when the guy lunges at Gallon twenty yards downfield. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)
RUN+: Huyge, Gallon, Omameh RUN-:
O11 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Pitch sweep Toussaint 8
Same motion. With two TEs, one covered, to the same side of the line as a tucked-in Odoms this screams run outside. It is run outside. Playside DE is beaten by Watson(+2), ending up pancaked five yards downfield. With that edge gone Purdue is in trouble. Koger(+0.5) kicks the CB; Schofield(+0.5) gets a shove on the playside LB; Odoms blocks Holland, a LB, to the ground. Toussaint can run until the last guy cuts him down. This was also massively open on the cutback with Lewan(+1) crushing one TE and Molk peeling back to get the other when no one showed for him.
RUN+: Watson(2), Koger(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Odoms, Lewan, Molk RUN-:
O3 2 2 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 over Run Zone read belly Smith 1
Short clubs Schofield(-2) to the inside; all Schofield has to do is have a mediocre handle on him and this is likely a TD with the backside DT getting doubled and Denard holding that DE outside. As it is Smith has to cut back and still gets tackled by Short. He did a good job just to get his yard.
RUN+: Smith RUN-: Schofield
O2 3 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Goal line Run QB power Robinson 2
Purdue has a stunt on that clears a big hole right where the play is going. Two LBs flow hard into it. Omameh(+1) pulls into Holland and puts him on the ground; Toussaint(+0.5) stands up the other. Robinson(+1) cuts back behind them and reaches the endzone before the backside help can run him down.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh, Toussaint(0.5) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 2
Denard in the slot, running end-around action. This pulls the playside DE way upfield; Toussaint cuts back behind as Omameh(+0.5) and Huyge(+0.5) double and blow up the playside DT. Toussaint is cutting behind that block and is about to hit it up into the safeties creeping to the LOS when Schofield's guy fights through his block and tackles as he passes the LOS. -1 Schofield. I don't think Toussaint did anything wrong here since he's trying to hit it north-south and hugging the hip of that double. He can't expect this DT to come in out of nowhere.
RUN+: Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5) RUN-: Schofield
M39 2 8 Fritz 2WR 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass HB pass Gallon Inc
Counter pitch that's actually a halfback pass. Smith has pressure from a DE keeping contain and Gallon is covered; Smith chucks it anyway. Fortunately incomplete. Not charted as a pass because he's a tailback. RPS -1.
M39 3 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Dig Roundtree 12
Initial protection is okay until a stunt gets a DE in past Omameh. Toussaint picks the guy up in a Smith-like fashion, giving Denard time to whip it to an open dig route Roundtree is running. Ball is deflected near the LOS but still gets there. Tough to judge; results-based charting. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O49 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout hitch Jackson 5
Rolled pocket; Denard shoots it out to a short hitch Jackson is running. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O44 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 1

I don't get why the WRs run off their opposition, including Hemingway. Seems like Hemingway should block down on the playside LB over the slot, which would open up the outside run. This doesn't happen; shouldn't really matter because the DE leaps out on Smith, as does playside LB, and Denard(+1) pulls correctly. This opens up big except for Schofield(-2) losing a downblock—very bad—and the playside DT getting in the lane. Denard has to cut back behind him, which exposes him to Short once Molk trips over the now-prone Schofield. Robinson should have just kept running; he had a big enough gap to run outside the DT and pick up a few. Plus revoked. RPS +1.

RUN-: Schofield(2)
O43 3 4 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Okie Pass TE Out Koger INT
Smith's hitch is covered; Denard comes off it to another hitch. Holland fakes a blitz and backs out right into this TE out; Denard throws it anyway. The out further outside was open enough for the first (probably); a missed read based on a bad pre-snap assumption. (BR, 0, protection 1/1) RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Down G Toussaint -2
Barnum in on this drive until the end of the half. Schofield has struggled so far. Safety rolled up for an eighth guy in the box. Moore(-1) fires off well but gets inside of his DE and allows him to flow upfield. Omameh is pulling outside of the twin TEs and gets submarined in the backfield by the hard-charging safety. Not his fault. With Moore not sealing his guy Toussaint has no options other than bouncebouncebounce, but he's not Shaw and he reads it late, tripping over Omameh instead of trying to beat the linebackers to the outside. RPS -1. RUN-: Moore, Toussaint
M20 2 12 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over Pass Sack -- -8
Second and twelve I-Form Big play action is basically asking the defensive coordinator 'are you stupid?' Turns out the answer is no. The playside DE gives negative ten thousand respect to the run, instead shooting upfield past Schofield, who has no chance, and the RBs, who are faking a run, to sack Robinson. (PR, 0, protection 0/3, team -3, RPS -2)
M12 3 20 Shotgun stack 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Rollout corner Roundtree 49
Four rushers and a spy; Robinson rolls as the playside DT shoots playside, getting outside and forcing Robinson to pull up. He's got a huge pocket, so no problem. He's also got Roundtree for a big gain on a deep corner route, rifling it to him 40 yard downfield. Pass is a little short or this could be a touchdown. Still... man, do this more often. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1... getting a guy open deep on third and 20.) Featured in Picture Pages.
O39 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Fly Gallon INT
Denard slot, end around fake. Gardner actually has Hemingway coming open behind the Denard freakout but throws an awful pass sort of at Gallon that's easily intercepted. I complained about this on the podcast; I was wrong. This is all Gardner. Borges got a guy open for a 20 yard gain. (BRX, 0, protection 3/3, RPS +1) Also featured in Picture Pages.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q. Next play is a safety; Michigan gets a good return and 15-yard penalty to set them up in plus territory on the next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read stretch Toussaint 17
Oh, God, how I've missed this. Backside DE has contain; handoff. Molk(+2) reaches the balls off the playside DT. He gets a little help from Barnum but not much. This is mostly Molk bucket-stepping around the DT, taking the little bit of momentum Barnum took away from the guy and introducing him to the turf. That means you are dead, defense. Lewan(+1) kicks out the playside DE like whoah and Toussaint(+2) hits the gaping hole. He cuts inside a LB doing well to get out into two blockers and runs right past Holland, breaking one safety tackle and nearly cutting past the last safety for six; not quite. He settles for the first.
RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Toussaint(2) RUN-:
O28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB sweep Robinson 2
Barnum and Molk pull; Lewan(+1) blocks down on the playside DT and blows him up. Koger(+1) does likewise to the playside DE. Omameh(-0.5) and Huyge(-0.5) don't get a serious delay on the backside DT, leaving him to run down the line; Robinson is contained and about to cut it back behind the pullers to get as many yards as he can before that DT nails him (five or six) when he slips to the turf. Rats.
RUN+: Lewan, Koger RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5)
O26 2 8 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Sweep Smith 4
Safety in the box for eight. Michigan runs the same blocking scheme at the other side of the line, pulling Molk and Omameh as they try to get outside the TE. Koger(+1) controls, seals, and blows up the playside DE. Omameh(+0.5) kicks the playside LB. McColgan(+1) manages to duck inside of this and dives at the legs of the MLB, getting a two-for one; Smith(+1) cuts up in the right spot and bursts into the secondary. RPS-1; the reason this is so tough is because Molk got shot back by a DL when he tried to pull and was made useless.
RUN+: Koger, McColgan, Smith, Omameh(0.5) RUN-:
O22 3 4 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Speed option Robinson 2
Robinson checks and then Purdue flips their line at the last second in response. They're still moving at the snap. Michigan runs a speed option and Purdue is out on it, getting a guy to drive Lewan(-1) back without getting sealed; Odoms can't get a block on the edge, Watson sees two guys outside of him... the outside is screwed. Robinson cuts up, where there's no room because Molk(-1) didn't get any help for Omameh on a tough reach block on a guy he didn't expect to be there. That guy and a safety lined up about seven yards off the LOS combine to tackle. RPS -1.
Drive Notes: FG(37), 12-7, 11 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Power off tackle Toussaint 16
Purdue makes this easy, as they're zone blitzing. The playside DE starts to drop into man coverage on Koger... who is covered up by Gallon and can't go into a route. Derp. Koger(+1) blocks down. Toussaint(+1) sees the total lack of edge and bounces it out, outrunning Holland to the edge. Gallon(+1) got a sustained block downfield to help, but this is just a gift. RPS+1.
RUN+: Koger, Toussaint, Gallon RUN-:
M33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 2
Only six in the box so this should work; it doesn't. Omameh(-2) is chucked to the ground by Short. Since this is directly in the path of Robinson that is an issue. Gallon(-1) loses the corner lined up over him and those two combine to tackle. RUN-: Gallon, Omameh(2)
M35 2 8 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Penalty Offsides -- 5
Hard count gets them; Robinson kneels instead of taking the free play.
M40 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Sprint counter Toussaint 16
I think? Lewan pulls... away from where Toussaint is running. This may be a bust. Purdue dives inside and Lewan walls off Short as Toussaint runs to the backside, finding two unblocked defenders he simply outruns to the corner.
RUN+: Toussaint(2), Lewan(0.5) RUN-:
O44 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass PA fade Gallon 42
Aw, man, I don't know. Doug Karsch says he overheard Denard talking about throwing it outside($) here so I'll give the benefit of the doubt, but.. man. I don't know. Anyway, PA fake with Barnum pulling outside to get the containing DE. Toussaint(-1) then sets up to block a guy who is already blocked and lets a linebacker in on Denard. Robinson chucks it off his back foot to the outside; Gallon adjusts and makes the catch. (CA+, 2, protection ½, Toussaint -1)
O2 1 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Iso Toussaint 2
Interior line blows the DTs off the ball. Molk, Omameh +1. Toussaint can hit it straight upfield and get in unless a safety takes him down at like the inch line. Instead he bounces, making a move outside and then a second shift that gets him into the endzone. Not a huge fan of the bounce here so no plus.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Barnum RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 19-7, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 28
Barnum pulls; Smith takes the playside DE upfield and Denard pulls the ball out. Barnum(+1) kicks the too-aggressive Holland and Denard(+1) shoots up in the hole; Omameh(+1) dealt with Short well enough to prevent him from even waving an arm. Huyge(+1) is fighting a linebacker the whole play, gets turned around, and manages to latch back on; Grady(+1) blocks another dude and Denard(+1) jets between them. Smith actually breaks his stride by running past him as he threatens to run straight into the endzone; the jump outside gives the corner an angle. Denard runs OOB. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Barnum, Omameh, Huyge, Grady RUN-:
O24 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso Toussaint 0
Barnum(-2) driven back by Short. This is right in the lane Toussaint wants; he has to cut back. Omameh is chucked downfield by the other DT, which isn't really his fault because he's trying to seal him under the assumption the play will go to the other side. DT and unblocked backside DE tackle. RUN-: Barnum(2)
O24 2 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Counter pitch Smith 7
Denard at WR. Purdue doesn't seem taken in by the fake but Michigan manballs them anyway. Key is again Koger(+2) dominating the playside DE. He manages to get slightly outside the hash on the LOS and then is sealed. Barnum(+1) shot out on the MLB and got in his feet, delaying him. Huyge(+1) kicks out the corner; Molk(+1) blocks the playside LB and Smith has a big lane. He runs into it; Molk's guy does a good job to come off the block and deliver a thumping no-YAC tackle.
RUN+: Molk, Huyge, Koger(2), Barnum RUN-:
O17 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 4
Blitz up the middle sees Omameh(+0.5) knock the blitzer back but he bounces off and gets playside; Huyge(+1) buries short; Koger(+1) deals with another crappy playside DE. Smith(+1) pops the linebacker in the hole and Denard, after initially taking it too far outside, dodges a charging safety and picks up the first.
RUN+: Huyge, Koger, Smith, Omameh(0.5) RUN-:
O13 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Corner Roundtree Inc
I guess he has a shot at this if it's thrown to the corner of the endzone but it's way short and Roundtree ends up playing defense on it. He had Koger wide open on the other side of the field in the flat; guy could have probably walked into the endzone. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)
O13 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Throwaway Hemingway Inc
Ton of time but the routes here are weird with Hemingway running a corner route and both other WRs to the trips side just kind of hanging out. Robinson can't find anyone quickly and by the time he comes off the right side of the field everything's covered. He chucks it out of the endzone. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O13 3 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Nickel even Pass Hitch Moore 9
Protection is good; Molk's guy eventually comes around him on a DT stunt he manages to track and get a cut on. This is only a delay; Robinson steps and fires. Some confusion in the zone defense opens both Moore and Gallon up, Gallon on a drag and Moore on a ten-yard hitch. Drag is better but the hitch is there and zinged accurately; Moore makes the catch in traffic to set up fourth and short. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O4 4 1 Ace 1 2 2 Goal line Run QB sneak Robinson 3
They get it.
O1 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Goal line Run QB draw Robinson -4
This is the Zookian thing. Barnum's hopping around on one leg, Michigan's burning 20 seconds off the clock, they're running a QB draw from the one... not good ideas, these. Barnum(-2) is blown backwards and his guy annihilates Robinson in the backfield. I won't charge this to Barnum because he's clearly hurt. 
O5 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Throwaway Koger Inc
Michigan blows a stunt pickup spectacularly because Schofield(-2) does not get enough depth and allows the DE to dive inside of him. Robinson is instantly pressured. He avoids the first guy but has broken the pocket now and has little time. He backs up and throws one off his back foot that is in the general direction of Koger but not catchable. This is on the OL. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Schofield -2)
Drive Notes: FG(22), 22-7, EOH. Barnum leaves for rest of game.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over Run Pitch sweep Toussaint 3
Koger motions to an offset FB and tucked in WR. Let's have a pitch. Michigan... pitches. Purdue didn't really adjust much and is now shifted away from obvious pitch side. Denard almost screws it up but realizes where the play is going belatedly and gets the ball out. This time (finally) the playside DE holds the edge. Purdue has pulled the guy Michigan was killing off the field. Koger(-1) can't seal the guy, who ends up running all the way to the sideline. Roundtree(-1) shoulders the playside LB and runs by him; Schofield(+1) cuts the MLB. This is all pretty irrelevant because of the DE stringing it to the sideline, exposing Toussaint to a safety.
RUN+: Schofield RUN-: Koger, Roundtree
M36 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer sweep Smith 6 + 15 Pen
Playside DE forms up as if it's a zone read so Denard(+1) gives. Good read. Omameh is pulling into space with just one linebacker out there as Lewan(+0.5) got out on an unprepared WLB. Smith(-1) should cut off Omameh's rear to set up that block and burst to the safeties; instead he runs to the edge. Gallon(+1) gets a good sustained block; Hemingway can't prevent his guy from bursting upfield but I think he's in good shape if this actually cuts where it should. RPS +1. Facemask tacked on.
RUN+: Robinson, Lewan(0.5), Gallon RUN-: Smith
O43 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 2
This doesn't seem like a great idea with eight in the box. Hopkins(-1) fails to kick the DE, who comes under him. He can do this with impunity because there's a LB hanging over the slot ready to kill any bounces. Short comes through a double from Huyge(-1) and Omameh(-1) and the two DL combine to tackle at the line. Tempted to RPS-1 this... I used to do this for I-form runs at a stacked boxes.
RUN-: Hopkins, Huyge(0.5), Omameh(0.5)
O41 2 8 Fritz 2WR 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Throwback screen Smith 26
It always works and it works. Sweep handoff fake to Denard with Gardner rolling to the same side the fake is headed to, so anyone keying on anything is headed to the field. Lovely to watch the backside DE hold up on the fake and then start hauling after Gardner. By the time the pass gets to Smith, nine Purdue defenders are done. The one frigging guy left in the area beats Molk, but I don't really blame Molk, because he should be able to pass said guy to Schofield except both of the other OL are screaming downfield at one safety. Smith(+1) does well to avoid the guy and let Molk set up another block but the delay prevents this from being six points. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3)
RUN+: Smith RUN-: Schofield
O15 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Pitch sweep Toussaint 8
WR motioning out, Odoms tight to the 2TE side. Pitch? Pitch. Watson(+1) blows up the playside DE, who is the replacement for the other DE who was getting killed. Playside LB inexplicably hits it up inside of the Watson block, erasing himself. Molk peels unnecessarily. Toussaint still has plenty of room with Omameh and Koger leading; he hops outside of Koger, which is maybe not the best idea, but then makes up for it by dancing past a couple tacklers to pick up some YAC. RPS+1.
RUN+: Watson, Toussaint, Omameh, Koger RUN-: Molk
O7 2 2 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 5
Same story, really. Purdue's DEs suck. This time #2 dives inside late and submarines McColgan, which just bounces Omameh and Toussaint outside. Gotta get two for one to spill. Schofield(+0.5) seals Short with help from Lewan(+0.5); Lewan pops out on LB; Omameh(+1) pulls around to get the last LB after the McColgan business is dealt with, and Toussaint cuts straight upfield once Omameh sets the block up.
RUN+: Omameh, Lewan(0.5), McColgan(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Toussaint(0.5) RUN-:
O2 1 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Iso Toussaint -3
Omameh(-2) chucked immediately, blocking no one. McColgan(-1) peels to try to block the guy shooting past Omameh and blocks no one. Many people converge on Toussaint. RUN-: Omameh(2), McColgan
O5 2 G Fritz 2WR 2 1 2 Goal line Pass Scramble Gardner 4
Fritz-based rollout gets Gardner the edge and he correctly decides to run for it since his receivers are covered. He nears the goal line and slows up, which is the difference between falling forward into the endzone and getting spun 180 and not making it. (SCR, N/A, N/A)
O1 3 G Ace 1 2 2 Goal line Run FB dive Toussaint 1
Toussaint over the top again. This play has run its course and people know it's coming, but this is about an inch from getting in.
O1 4 in Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Goal line Run QB power Robinson 0
Omameh has no chance to pull as Short plunges into the line and nails him. Without that lead blocker and with a crappy block from Toussaint on the edge, two guys can converge on Robinson at the goal line. RPS -1. RUN-: Toussaint
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 22-7, 9 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso Hopkins 1
Schofield(-1) is beaten upfield; McColgan aborts to block Short. Omameh(-1) beaten as well and while it's not quite as bad his DT tackles at the LOS. Hopkins(-1) had a massive open cutback lane that makes me think the OL blocked this just fine and he should be running at the gap left by the Purdue defense pursuing playside while the end deals with an end-around fake. McColgan is the only thing that stops me from making this assessment. Still, this is pretty terrible by Hopkins. RUN-: Hopkins, Omameh, Schofield
M21 2 9 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Zone read dive Smith 6
Inside zone read for the first or second time today. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) blow the playside DT five yards downfield. This engulfs the LBs. Omameh(-1) loses Short and a less comprehensive asskicking on the playside DT would end this play. Gallon(+1) is cracking down on the safety and does well to push him past Smith(+1) who similarly does well to dance past the falling S. Corner is left; Smith makes contact at four yards and goes down at six.
RUN+: Smith, Molk, Gallon, Schofield RUN-: Omameh
M27 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Dig Gallon 14
WR stacks on both sides of the line. LB takes Hemingway's hitch, opening Gallon up on a dig route inside of it. Looks like Purdue is in man and got killed by the routes. Robinson nails Gallon in the chest for the first down. Well executed all around. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M41 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Counter pitch Toussaint 59
Purdue shows man on the motion and has their LBs shifted to the side this play eventually goes to. Purdue has gone back to their original DE; Koger(+2) again kicks his ass at the LOS, sealing him inside the hash. One LB blitzes. Another immediately peels outside looking for this play; there is a second LB on the playside and a safety. That's three. Lewan(+1) kicks one out. One LB keeps leverage, one safety overruns it. Toussaint cuts back. Molk peeled back to deal with the blitzer; blitzer read the play and then pursued out of Molk's reach. As Toussaint nears that guy's pursuit he cuts back behind the meta-pursuing Molk(+1), who picks off the over-pursuing safety. Toussaint slid past this guy on his own. Now past the first level he cuts inside the backside DE's pursuit, sees a gap between the last two guys, and engages the afterburners. Total carnage for Toussaint: four decisions, five Purdue players left in his wake. +4. Replay.
RUN+: Koger(2), Lewan, Molk, Toussaint(4), Omameh RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 29-7, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M14 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso Toussaint 6
Purdue is shifted to the strong side on the line and in the LBs, so M runs weak at the gap between their one tech and WDE. I think they've also subbed some backups in. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) deposit the playside DT five yards downfield and that's all she wrote on an iso. McColgan(+1) also gets a good block; Toussaint is about to burst into the secondary when he's chopped down from behind by a linebacker Schofield couldn't pop out on quick enough.
RUN+: McColgan, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Schofield(0.5)
M20 2 4 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 over Run Zone read stretch Toussaint 0
Fail by alignment here; line and LBs shifted playside before the snap. The frontside of this play is blocked really well, with Omameh(+1) cutting the backside DT , Molk(+1) getting into the playside guy and driving him downfield, and three guys getting blocked outside of this but Huyge has no shot at the WLB; he darts into the hole and tackles. RPS -1. Not that I should be tracking RPS anymore.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh RUN-: Schofield
M20 3 4 Shotgun stack 1 0 4 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 9
Just five in the box. You are in little jean shorts in a 1980s Heat of the Night episode, Purdue: asking for it. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) blast one DT; Molk moves out on the single LB. Omameh maintains a block on that DT forever w/ some help from Robinson, who sets the guy up one way, then cuts back behind. Linebacker comes up to hack him down, but this was easy. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson, Molk, Omameh RUN-:
M29 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint 10
Same play as first in this drive w/ no adjustment from Purdue. Schofield(+1) bangs the playside DT; Molk starts blocking him and Schofield pops out on the MLB. Lewan kicks out the DE; Hopkins(+1) gets a thumping kickout on the SLB. That's a big gap and no linebackers. Toussaint to the secondary. He feints outside and comes back inside, getting tackled by the filling safety. RPS+1.
RUN+: Hopkins, Schofield, Molk(0.5), Lewan(0.5) RUN-:
M39 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso Toussaint 5
Same setup, same play. LBs are quicker to the hole, forcing a cutback. Schofield and Hopkins still wall them off; Toussaint smoothly cuts behind them to bend it back. Eighth guy in the box comes from the slot to tackle. Molk(+1) made this by kicking backup NT's butt.
RUN+: Molk, Toussaint, Schofield(0.5), Hopkins(0.5) RUN-:
M44 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 19
Playside DE is in no man's land; Denard keeps. Playside DT held off by Omameh(0.5). SLB gone on the RB fake; Huyge(+1) gets a block on the MLB; Gallon(+1) is cracking down on the hard-charging safety and can't quite seal him but does give him a good whack that spins him backwards. That is one hell of a lot of room since the RB fake took two guys. Denard into the secondary, where he cuts outside, outruns Holland to the sideline, and tiptoes for a nice gain. RPS+2.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Huyge, Omameh(0.5) RUN-:
O37 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Iso Shaw 37
The iso culmination. End around-fake removes the playside DE. Schofield(-1) is hit back too much for the playside to remain relevant; Shaw cuts back behind. Instead of bouncebouncebounce he finds a lane behind Omameh(+1),who is riding a DT down the line, and Huyge(+1) who started to release downfield and then peeled back when no one showed and the backside LB stayed outside. Molk(+0.5) also got a block on a linebacker. Shaw(+3) shifts backside and hits the hole, bursting through a lame tackle attempt and hitting the afterburners. RPS +1 for pulling the DE out.
RUN+: Shaw(3), Huyge, Omameh, Molk(0.5) RUN-: Schofield
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 36-7, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M1 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Power off tackle Shaw 14
Mealer in for Lewan, Huyge to LT. Schofield(+1) makes perhaps the best pull I've seen from a guard this year, getting down the line quickly and planting the MLB. Short is doubled out of the play by Koger(+0.5) and Mealer(+0.5). Hopkins just manages to kick the playside DE, who almost makes a diving tackle near the LOS, but does not. Shaw(+1) breaks outside and outruns Holland to the edge.
RUN+: Schofield(2), Koger(0.5), Mealer(0.5), Shaw RUN-:
M15 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Power off tackle Shaw 3
Playside DE gets inside of the Hopkins lead block and Holland is actually on the edge for once. Shaw considers bouncing when he sees the DE get inside Hopkins but reconsiders and hits it up for a modest gain. Average all around, I guess. Tempted to RPS -1 this but it is 36-7.
M18 2 7 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Down G Shaw 1
Michigan just running into stacked lines now with Gardner on the field, so I should stop charting. Here the DE does dive inside again and cause some confusion; Molk has to get around this and get a block on one of the LBs; he does so but that guy still has the agility to get around and tackle from behind.
M19 3 6 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over Run Pitch sweep Shaw 3
Koger(+1) seals the edge; Huyge(-1) runs past a flowing LB that Molk can't get out on; Shaw is driven outside and should really do a better job of hitting this up but... whatever.
RUN+: Koger RUN-: Huyge
Drive Notes: Punt, 36-7, 7 min 4th Q. I shouldn't have even done this last drive.

I feel adrift in a sea of unknowing.

A sea of unknowing, yards and points.

Fair enough. What about this multiple business?

Well, the money quote from Borges that has been replicated all across the places-that-quote-Al-Borges-sphere:

“That’s really what we’ve wanted to do all year. With two weeks to get ready and some careful considerations with regard to not getting our quarterback beat up, that was a huge issue. We worked hard on trying to get back to what we originally wanted to do. We wanted to be more of a combination of pro to spread offense without, of course, completely divorcing ourselves from spread concepts. We still run a lot of it, but that is closer to what we wanted in the beginning. We just weren’t executing very well. Touss did a great job, and the offensive line moved some people, not only on the line of scrimmage but also on the perimeter.”

This is the direction the offense is headed long-term. There will be all kinds of formations that are rarely the same three plays in a row, shotgun mixed in with big I-form sets, presnap motion up the wazoo, and weird packages that change on a week to week basis.

You say long-term. Isn't this a post-bye week ability to insert more of the actual offense effective immediately?

Maybe, but I have my doubts about how well it will work against teams stouter than Purdue. I know the Boilers coped vaguely well with Illinois and Penn State. I just have no idea how they managed that. Purdue's run defense suuuuuuuuuuuucks.

They have two main issues: the defensive end who is not senior Gerald Gooden and their outside linebackers. Gooden was all right holding the edge, so Michigan ran away from him most of the day. This is because Purdue's other DE is terrible whether it's the starter or the backup. That guy got sealed all day:

That is Michigan's first play from scrimmage. Koger seals the playside DE and that's about it. When that guy isn't stringing the play to the sideline or taking out another blocker your pitch is 75% of the way to success. On this play the MLB taking a dumb angle upfield of the Koger block is the rest of it.

Compounding matters was Joe Holland, who may be one of Purdue's top playmakers but is also slow as hell:

I'm just like… okay. That's two guys alone on the edge with Toussaint and he outruns both of them. A real defense chops this down for a meh gain since the safety flares out to contain.

Even Gooden was subject to a few instances where he was deposited on his butt far away from the tailback:

It's cool that Michigan identified an issue with the opposing defense and exploited it. I don't know if they'll be able to execute something similar against teams with better defenses, which is all of them. Even Iowa.

Is there anything we can take from the run game here?

Boy, they did a lot of stuff. They ran a couple stretches, a couple of inverted veers, a bunch of power stuff… I'm hoping we see Borges pick and choose the things that work and Michigan can execute them effectively.

The veer in particular is something I'd like to see become if not a staple at least something they pull out a few times each game:

As I fruitlessly argued under RR, the zone read is a way to get the ball into your RB's hands while keeping the backside DE honest. The veer is a way to get the ball into your QB's hands while keeping the frontside DE honest. Needs moar veer.

I noticed slightly fewer hearts being ripped out of watchers' own chests when Michigan was throwing the ball this week. Yes?

For this let's—

Rip a chart from the still-breathing chest of an innocent.

Man, you do not like Danny Hope. Chart.

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]

2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%
Northwestern '11 4 12(3) 1 7 2 - - - 1 59%
MSU '11 1 8(1) 4(1) 6 5 - 1 7 1 40%
Purdue '11 1 7(1) - 1 2 1 - 2 - 66%

Gardner had a SCR, a CA on a screen, and the BR-extreme.

Denard was 9/14 and back into the range his sophomore year hung out at, hoorah. His misses were the INT, a play almost identical to the INT that Holland dropped, a way-short corner route, and two throwaways in the red zone. On the corner route he did not see a blitheringly wide open Koger.

That's still too many dangerous throws given the small number of passes but at least he wasn't missing much. That's a relief after Michigan quarterbacks made the V1 look accurate two weeks ago. Part of that is an increased emphasis on short stuff. BWS pointed out that this first triple stack completion…

…is just a gussied-up version of the snag triangle Michigan ran last year. Denard got a lot of hitches and other routes where he could step in and zing it to the player in question. I was torn on a few different plays about whether to DO them or not because they were slick darts with good timing. While most got filed CA I like it when I'm wondering CA or DO instead of MA or IN.

His one deep ball was thrown in the right spot for his WR to get it—and Gallon had run a good route to give himself a ton of space to the outside.

As for the receivers, they were again strong:

[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - - 2/2 7 - 7/8 12/13
Roundtree - 0/1 - 1/1 4 1/5 5/6 7/7
Odoms - - - - 2 - - -
Grady - - - - 4 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon 1


1/1 2/2 5 - 2/2 20/20
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - - - - 0/2 1/2 2/2
Jackson - - - 1/1 - - 1/1 1/1
Koger 3 - - - 6 1/3 2/3 8/9
Moore - - 1/1 - 2 - 1/1 -
Toussaint - - - - - - - 1/2
Shaw - - - - - - - 1/1
Smith - - - 1/1 2 0/1 - 6/7
Hopkins - - - - 2 - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

They didn't have much to do in the passing game but Gallon made a good adjustment to the deep ball and there were no drops. Gallon is pushing Hemingway for the most-targeted WR, though he gets a boost from the screens.

The run chart has a few surprises and a couple things that reinforce what I was suggesting above:

[note: I'm moving to a percentage on the offensive line for the total.]

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 7 1 6 Would like to see him more involved somehow.
Barnum 3 2 1 Also picked up a –2 on the last play he was in on but I didn't hit him for it since he was obviously injured.
Molk 15 2 13 Even got a killer reach block for old times' sake.
Omameh 13 7 6 Had some issues with Short.
Huyge 7.5 2.5 5 Easy time on the edge.
Schofield 5.5 10 -4.5 Big step back from two weeks ago. Did get a thumper late.
Mealer 0.5 - 0.5 On last drive charted.
Watson 3 - 3 Got in on some of the edge bashing.
Koger 14.5 2 12.5 Completely clobbered his DE whenever asked to.
TOTAL 69 27.5 72% Moore put up a –1, FWIW. Strong day almost hitting 3:1.
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 7.5 2 5.5 Four good reads on the veer.
Gardner 1 - 1 Probably should have scored on the boot.
Toussaint 12 2 10 I like it when he gets 20 carries instead of 2.
Shaw 4 - 4 Enjoy your TD sir.
Smith 6 1 5 Frustrating on that screen. Not his fault obviously.
Hopkins 1.5 2 -0.5 Now FB, as predicted.
Rawls - - - PT not charted.
McColgan 2.5 1 1.5 Not giving up without a fight.
TOTAL 34.5 8 26.5 Big positive day thanks to two long runs RBs did much of the work on.
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway - 1 -1  
Odoms 1 - 1  
Gallon 5 1 4 Don't know what it is about tiny receivers from Florida but they can block.
Roundtree - 1 -1  
Grady 1 - 1 --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo - - - --
TOTAL 7 3 4 Gallon had a day with and without the ball.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 22 6 79% Team 3, Toussaint 1, Schofield 2. Big bounce-back.
RPS 20 9 11 Throwback screens always work.

So, yeah, monster day from Koger and major, surprising struggles from Schofield. By the time he got pulled in the first half he was already –5 or so. When he came back in the second he was about even, a step forward but still one that saw him finish solidly negative on the day. Both he and Omameh had problems with Short. Short chucked Michigan guards to the ground multiple times—you know those plays on which they ran up the middle into seemingly no blocking? That was Short treating our guards like they were Dileo.

You probably don't need be told about Fitz or the rest of the ballcarriers. The best thing about Fitz's day was the raw speed he showed for the first time. He's been caught from behind more than once in his career. After yesterday…

…that seems injury induced. Also Purdue is slow as hell on D.


Toussaint and Koger may have been able to pick up 4 YPC playing the Purdue defense by themselves. Molk also had a strong game since he wasn't trying to block two guys he didn't know were coming on every play. Gallon was a threat running, receiving, and blocking.


Both guard spots were weak, with left guard particularly glaring. Gardner's INT was egregious and he missed an opportunity to punch it in on the goal line series Michigan was eventually stuffed on.

What does it mean for Iowa and beyond?

Though they didn't throw much I think the developments there may actually be more important as far as the rest of the season goes. Having Denard bounce back and have a strong, if still flawed, day is a relief after the Michigan State debacle. The receivers are pretty good and Borges is getting them open, a trend that should continue against the Iowa secondary or I will be sad. I like the routes Borges is developing; they're obviously more diverse than RR's stuff.

The running game seems like a one-off development based on extremely weak edge play by the Boilers. Toussaint's emergence is the main takeaway for future weeks; put him in situations he can find holes and let him go 15-20 times a game. I'm a bit worried about the OL with Lewan constantly rising from the grave, Barnum tweaking his other ankle, and Schofield having a mighty struggle, but I also think Short is an all Big Ten player next to Devon Still… so we might be able to get away with it against the rest of the schedule. There is no Liuget or Clayborn or Crick; the big flashing danger sign is OSU's John Simon.