Senior Day Haiku

Senior Day Haiku

Submitted by Brian on November 16th, 2010 at 4:14 PM

An annual tradition. Special bonus this year: holy pants there are no seniors. Usually I skip a bunch of anonymous walk-ons who never saw the field unless they have a silly name; this year this is it.

Michigan runningback Kevin Grady runs the ball  during the second half of the Wolverine's 2009 season opener 31-7 win, versus Western Michigan University at Michigan Stadium, Saturday, September 5th.
Melanie Maxwell| Ann Arbor.com
  Martell Webb

It goes thump. Sometimes
it catches or drops a pass.
Mostly it goes thump.

Perry Dorrestein

Bad back, outed grades
but through it all a kickin'
Punisher tattoo

Steve Schilling

Been around forever
Witnessed the Horror up close
Football purple heart

John Ferrara

Thrown into the fire
just two weeks after switching
'08: the nutshell

Adam Patterson

One last swing hits sod
A shaft of daylight strikes down
Hello two deep

Renaldo Sagesse

Hurling hockey kids,
the largest man in Quebec came
and he was all right

Greg Banks

Took the Moosman crown
as player most likely to
impress your TA

Obi Ezeh

Why did you tattoo
"Stand around, think about plants"
across your torso?

mark-moundros-nwBONUS NOT MEAN HAIKU

Like Schilling, lived
through every last awful bit
and never complained

Jonas Mouton

The west wind in fall
brings everything, and then
takes everything

Mark Moundros

Walk-on captains are
intimidatingly bald
pretty much always

James Rogers

The last vagabond
a-wander from spot to spot:
Dread Pirate Rogers

COMMENCE THE SYLLABLE COUNTING.

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 11-1-10

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 11-1-10

Submitted by Tim on November 1st, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press. Photo from file.

IMG_7907.JPG

Actual News

Mike Martin is going to be OK this week. "He's our best defensive... one of our best defensive players period. One of the best in the league when he's healthy." Other people need to be able to step in.

Perry Dorrestein should be able to practice by tomorrow. "Michael Shaw and maybe even Fitz Toussaint, we'll see if he can get back in the mix there." Will Heininger will be more in the rotation this week. "You'll probably see him more likely playing going forward."

Cam Gordon is now the starting Hybrid [Ed-M: Spur], backed by Thomas Gordon. Ray Vinopal is the starting Free Safety, backed by Carvin Johnson. "I thought the personnel moves defensively, I think were good for us in the short term and the long term." Cam Gordon more comfortable closer to the ball. Vinopal did "ok" for his first time out there. Staff is trying to figure out a unit that can get some stops, part of it is just getting them to play better.

There haven't been changes to the defensive coaching staff. "No. I've just met with the defensive staff the last couple hours, and we talked about some of our issues and talked about what to do to get ready for Illinois." "Y'all don't deal with rumors do you?" Everyone is frustrated, but it's always a collective effort, win or lose.

He'll be spending more time on defense this week, because the more inexperienced players over there might need more coaching. Injuries will affect lineups, different packages. "We have what we have." If there was somebody else there who could help, he'd be contributing by now. "I have a critical view of everything, every coach, every player, everything in our program every day... That's what head coaches do, you evaluate everything with everybody every day."

"Schemes are way, way overrated as far at 4-3, 3-3-5." There's no front that does or doesn't work in a particular league. "It's the execution of the schemes. We've gotta coach the schemes the right way, we've gotta execute the right way." They'll try moving Craig Roh around a bit. Laughed when he heard rumors of defensive staff changes.

Penn State

"They're a big screen-draw team." They hadn't done much of it with their fullback yet. Defensive recognition wasn't great on that, partially experience. "When an experienced player gets hurt [Mike Martin] - I'm not making excuses - whether you put a senior, junior, or freshman in there, when a guy hasn't played a lot of football, it's different."

"That was one of the positives of the game, is I thought Denard played pretty well." They were close to breaking a couple big ones. He landed on his hip the one time, but was able to come back from it. "His shoulder was better. It's good, but it's not 100%."

Speech to defense at the start of fourth quarter was just a pump-up one, nothing particular schematically.

Personal foul call? "Well, I don't want to get in trouble here. There's some plays I'll send in and get clarification on the rule." Turn in a few plays every week "there's a few more this week."

Illinois

Illinois - Not a rebuilding year, because they returned plenty of good athletes this season. "They're playing at a very high level right now - probably playing their best football." One of the more athletic teams in the league and that Michigan has played in the last two years. Illinois is playing with confidence.

Illinois has a bit of a rhythm, their young quarterback is playing well for them. They have really athletic guys.

Illinois has a similar offensive scheme to Michigan, it may help the defense be prepared for it. It'll be different to do it live, because they don't tackle Denard in practice.

Goods drive at the game (Gates 2 and 8) to send to troops and families in Afghanistan. Tim Horton's is donating 720 pounds of coffee to send as part of it. Team will be wearing a flag on the back of the helmets. The American flag will be embroidered on the coaches' hats (not the Adidas ones from the Sep. 11 game).

Etc.

Some of the D problems aren't going to get fixed overnight, etc. "Not just the freshmen, we've got a lot of inexperienced players playing defensively." There is a bit of improvement at this point, but not to the amount that they need.

"We've gotta get faster and more athletic defensively." That was painfully obvious from the film.

"I don't have any grand magic wands to wave [at the defense] and all of a sudden they're going to be playing better." Spending more time with the D is something he's done a few years in the past. If it was an easy fix, he'd have already done it.

Talking about defensive turnovers gained "We're almost like next to last in the country." They're trying to improve that by making sure they get guys in the right positions, working on recognition, aggressiveness. "If it doesn't work out, don't go in the tank the rest of the game."

3rd and long conversions: "If it was jut one particular thing, it would be easier to solve... or one particular guy." It's always something different. They need to look at doing enough third-down work in practice, already doing more than they've ever done.

"We're playing OK offensively, but I think we can play even better when we have more of a rhythm." Defense getting opponents off the field will help establish that rhythm.

"When you play a whole bunch of freshmen in the secondary, do you want to play a lot of man coverage or cover-0?" Need to find a balance with inexperience. Took a couple chances against PSU, and got beat.

Stop a slide like last year? "I don't have to think about it. Everybody else writes about it." People want to focus on the negative, because it sells papers. Team is better offensively, team is closer as a group, making strides in classroom and weight room. Young men are growing up. The wins and losses are bad, but there's more to it than that.

"These guys that are playing young and inexperienced from now, they're going to be experienced a year or two from now. I'm not happy, but I'm optimistic."

"Nobody's happy we've lost the last three games. We're still five in the good and three in the bad." People can't walk around moping, just need to learn from the mistakes, be mad for 24 hours, and start working on the next game.

Turnovers "I thought we were really pretty good at it most of the year." Denard used the bye week to go back and remember to have his eyes in the right spot. "Denard threw one ball he'd like to have back that could have been intercepted," and Hopkins had the fumble, but it was good other than that.

Defensive scheme change help? "we're gonna try." Trying to simplify some, but still give them the opportunity to be aggressive without exposing the secondary.

"I'm not sticking my head in the sand... we know what we have, we know what we've gotta have, and we'll try to fix that going forward."

Picture Pages: Backside DE Pursuit

Picture Pages: Backside DE Pursuit

Submitted by Brian on October 12th, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Over the past five years I've watched a lot of football plays over and over until I understood them (or threw my hands up and asked the peanut gallery). The play I've seen more than any other in that time is the zone stretch. DeBord ran almost literally nothing else, and it was the most common play in the RR offense's first two years. Though Michigan's gone away from it with Denard, boy do I have the zone stretch down.

This is not a zone stretch. It's a power off tackle QB run where the nearside guard pulls (AKA "down g") and the guys on the outside block down. But it does demonstrate a key element of defending outside runs of any variety where cutbacks are possibly lethal.

It's the first play of Michigan's fourth drive of the day. MSU has just scored a 61-yard touchdown on a zone stretch cutback that we'll address later. It's first and ten; Michigan comes out in a three-wide package with Stephen Hopkins as the back. The first shot is a little early; Robinson drops back so Hopkins is at stretch depth.

The key guy here is somewhat unusual given the play: the backside DE. He's to the top of the screen: backside-flow-1

On the snap Michigan sends Robinson to the strong side of the formation:

backside-flow-2

Key bits in the frame above: Webb and Lewan are blocking down on the playside DE and DT as Schilling pulls around. Hopkins is sprinting out as a lead blocker, leaving Schilling and Hopkins taking on the two playside LBs; Molk has to cut the WLB.

In the next frame Molk has gotten out on the WLB. Schilling has gotten shoved back by that playside DT, which we can't see yet but will in the next frame. The backside DE has read the direction of the play and is in the process of releasing from Dorrestein:

backside-flow-3

Molk chops the WLB. He's dead. Webb has crushed the playside DE inside. There's major gap. Problem: Robinson has basically caught Schilling already because of the shove from the DT:

backside-flow-4

…he's now a yard in front of Denard and not moving forward. This is the equivalent of being behind Denard.

Meanwhile, the backside DE has totally disengaged from Dorrestein by giving ground and is taking a pursuit angle slightly downfield. Dorrestein is caught up in the wash closer to the LOS, demonstrating why you give ground in pursuit. You can watch him get slightly further and further from the LOS as he flows down the line:

backside-flow-5

In the next frame Hopkins gets a good block on the OLB. Schilling is now a yard behind Robinson and useless, leaving a one-on-one matchup between Denard and Greg Jones:

backside-flow-6

WOOP!

backside-flow-7

Robinson jukes past the over-pursuing Jones. He has room to do this because the playside DT is off the screen upfield and the playside DE is still trying to get off Webb's excellent block. He is one step from cutting back outside and turning on the afterburners when…

backside-flow-8

The backside defensive end, now four yards off the LOS and running his ass off, makes a desperation lunge. Robinson trips and the gain is held down to seven yards.

[No video yet since I'm still converting.]

Object lessons:

  • Denard: pretty good at running. The vaunted Jones looked like Ezeh here.
  • Backside DE pursuit is important. It goes like this: diagnose run play headed away from you. Get playside of your blocker by releasing from him and flowing down the line of scrimmage at an angle that takes you about three yards downfield by the time you hit the point of attack. Hope someone funnels the ballcarrier to you and tackle.

    Without the backside DE doing this correctly, Denard has 15, 20, maybe 60 yards.

  • Why no cut from Dorrestein? In frames two and three it seems obvious that Dorrestein can get an easy cut block on the DE, eliminating him. Instead he tries to flow down the line with him, gets caught up in the wash, and loses the guy who eventually makes the tackle. I'm sure he's coached to do this, but I can't understand why the play doesn't call for an easy cut block on this guy. Even one step of delay and Robinson is off.
  • Webb is a major component of the run game. He's got a fairly easy block since MSU is intent on the inside zone and the belly and whatnot so the backside guys are attempting to slant into the gaps inside of the blockers. Even so he drives the DE way, way inside and holds that block long enough for Robinson to make up for the shove that eliminated Schilling from the play.
  • This play is a counter to the inside zone. I stole my thunder on this one in the last bullet but to reiterate: Michigan was running a ton of inside zone on which the backside DE was contain and the backside DT was blasted off the ball by double teams. MSU made an adjustment on Michigan's previous drive—the three and out on which Smith was stuffed on an inside zone on third and one—and Michigan comes out on their next play with this. They get the playside linemen blocked way out of the play and the WLB cut; they should have two lead blockers for Robinson against two guys but for the shove on Schilling. Even though they lose one of the lead blockers the linemen have been bludgeoned out of the play to the extent that Robinson can juke Jones to the inside and still pick up a good gain.
  • Hopkins pops guys. This is not a surprise since he's 230 pounds of near-fullback, but Stephen Hopkins has displayed superior blocking ability in his brief cameos. He gets in people and shoves them back; Smith and to a lesser extent Shaw get in the way of people and hope it's enough. I want more Hopkins. He makes Denard better and provides a thunderous counter to all that dilithium.
  • This was the story of the first half. This is one of maybe a dozen plays on which one player fails to execute and costs Michigan a touchdown. Here it was Dorrestein and somewhat Schilling; Robinson made up for one of them but not the other. Other times it was Lewan or Robinson or Roundtree or Grady. I think this was just one of those days. So far I've seen mostly domination from the offensive line. I wonder what changes in a rougher second half.

UFR Errata: Indiana 2010

UFR Errata: Indiana 2010

Submitted by Brian on October 8th, 2010 at 2:40 PM

It's back. Sorry for the two-week interruption, but Forces Beyond My Control intervened.

Offense

Dorrestein love. GS put up run charts for UMass, Bowling Green, and Indiana. In sum:

  • UMass: Molk excellent, everyone else solidly positive, Lewan goes donkey, Dorrestein majorly positive.
  • Bowling Green: candy for everyone. Omameh gets the gold star.
  • Indiana: everyone positive, numbers depressed because they scored too fast, WOO DENARD, Lewan gets the gold star.

The major difference between my charting and The Other Brian's is a difference of opinion on Dorrestein. I evidently think he's treading water and just okay; TOB has him approximately equal with the other four guys on the line. Also he was quicker to catch the effectiveness of Michigan's TEs.

Devin zone read issues. After the BGSU game, BWS put up a post about Devin Gardner's zone reads and how they are "rough" if you're being nice and "sucky" if you're not; this was in agreement with the UFR's assessment. Michigan's coaches probably saw too; it appears Tate has reclaimed the backup job. Or maybe Gardner has tendinitis.

I don't hate Vincent Smith. Most of the offensive UFR comments were taken over by the comment war about Vincent Smith. To clarify:

  • Smith is a good pass protector and reliable run blocker, though his size makes his run blocking a little sub-optimal.
  • He's a good option out of the backfield but the way Michigan's offense is going this year throwing to the tailback is almost pointless.
  • He seems to have lost a significant amount of shake-and-bake because of the ACL injury.
  • He does not make a lot of yards himself, but he doesn't miss reads often either.

This adds up to an average back.

Finally. BWS has an excellent breakdown of the final drive and the importance of this moment:

sideline-check

This offense is not only explosive but S-M-R-T, kids.

And now on to the WARZONE:

Defense

Rollout mitigation strategies. Our Helmets Have Wings has a post based on this previously-linked BWS piece about defending the copious rollouts Michigan has endured. It evades easy summary but the idea is to take someone out of a deeper zone and have him play a flat zone close to the area the rollout is intended to go so he can pressure the QB.

Crab man. The Indiana UFR did not pick up a whole lot in the way of disagreements that are supposed to be the reason for this series, but this is an informative comment for doubters about Roh's DE potential from ironman4579:

While Roh has good athleticism for his size, the key term is "for his size."  His hips are fairly stiff in coverage.  He has great speed for a DE, probably average at best for a LB. He's not great in space. He has elite athleticism for a DE. He has below average athleticism for a LB. He's just too stiff.

I'd also disagree that he's undersized. Yes, he's a little light (I'd agree that he's definitely lighter than I'd like to see my DE's, but there's enough successful, disruptive light DE's out there in a 4 man line that I think he'd be fine. He might struggle a bit against the run, but I'd give up some in the run game to get an, IMO, vastly improved pass rush), but a guy like Aaron Maybin of Penn State had 12 sacks and 20 TFL's at 235 pounds. O'Brien Schofield was 248 pounds when he went ahead and got 12 sacks and 24.5 TFL's. That's just two recent examples. There are many, many others. Leverage plays a huge part, which actually leads to my next point.

craigrohcrazyninjastance_thumb5 I want people to watch Roh this week when he's at DE and when he's at LB. When he's at DE, he's what scout's call a "flatback." He's incredibly low in his stance. When he comes out he stays basically in the same stance, getting very low with great leverage.  He gets his hands out and keeps guys away from his body, and has a great initial punch. He shows a variety of pass rush moves.

When he's at LB, he gets very high.  He goes into blockers almost straight up. He lets guys into his body and almost seems to forget his hands until he's already engaged and the blocker is into his body (this is especially evident last year against ND on the Armando Allen hold run at the end of the game, but throughout the season this was a problem). He loses leverage regularly. When he rushes, it's almost always a straight speed rush. He gets lost in space.

The difference between Roh as a DE and Roh as a LB are night and day.  He has flashed the potential to be a fantastic DE. As a LB, I don't think he's going to be much more than an average to slightly above average player

I added the picture demonstrating Roh's crazy leverage stance before the snap. I'd like to see a lot more four-man lines this week.

An aside: the debate that's raged between what people are calling a 4-2-5 but is really just last year's defense and the 3-3-5 that's Michigan's run most of this year is really just debating what Craig Roh should do.

Cam Gordon confusion. I solicited opinions on whether or not Cam Gordon should have been able to do anything more than tackle on that corner route

 

corner-7

…picture-paged yesterday. Many people said yes. Many others said no. Upon review I do think that Cam should have been a lot closer since there was no vertical threat from the inside. That probably wouldn't have let him make a play on the ball but he might have been able to tackle at the 25 instead of the 15. The counterargument:

The problem is, jumping the route too quickly can lead to long touchdowns.  Gordon does in fact make the right play here. If he jumps up, the experienced receiver will skinny his route and the 5th year QB will loft it over the crashing safety.  In a cover 2, the corner route will almost always beat the safety to the soft part of the zone; it's only when the corner drops back enough to disrupt this spot that this pass fails (and then the QB checks down to the out).  In a 3rd and long situation, the CB should focus on the deeper part of his zone, as it's always easier to stop a first down if the catch is made in front of the sticks.  A more experienced corner, or one that is just less hesitant to react, makes this a much more difficult play to complete.

As always, pass defense and linebacker play are mysterious since who's at fault can vary wildly based on assignments you're not privy to.

The larger point stands. Michigan's inexperienced secondary is not reading the opponent's routes at all (underneath) or quick enough (deep). Hopefully they develop this with time. Also, Chris Brown pointed out this is another variation on the snag concept that Michigan was running elements of earlier this season.

BONUS: Misopogon suggested that the issue was with JT Floyd not getting depth and letting Gordon out to the sideline, but I disagree. Sometimes I fail to explain things I picked up over the course of the game and people disagree based on the individual play, and that's the case here. Most of the time when Michigan went to this coverage, JT Floyd was acting as a Tampa 2 middle linebacker with responsibility in the deep seam. That's why he was at fault when IU hit a deep seam to the TE in the first half

Does the "J" in J.T. stand for Journeyman?

Floyd spent his second week in a row being moved all over the place.  I can understand why they're doing this (he's probably our best DB and we need to get our best athletes on the field.) But with all this moving around, you expect him to get confused occassionally.

floydLBzone

On this play he gets caught looking at the underneath crossing route when what he needs to be doing is getting depth in his zone to squeeze off the seam route.  The cross will be picked up by the other linebacker, so his false step here was not going to help anyone.

… later in the game when Michigan had covered this bunch snag route a few times they went to a different variation where the vertical receiver ran a post and Floyd dropped right into it. He is not playing a deep half; he's playing a robber. On this pattern he will be of use when the receiver running a dig to the top of the screen clears the CB.

Zone! Man! Fight. BWS's thing this week is advocating more man coverage, complete with a chart of the results when Michigan ran man:

So in 12 attempts, Indiana had six incompletions, one sack, and five completions for approximately 69 yards. Is this statistically significant or proof that Michigan should use more man coverage? Probably not and no.

I'm not sure all of those were man, as BlueSeoul's continuing epic game breakdown series touches upon: 

Combo Coverage

When you're facing 4 or 5 WR, a 3 man rush is not a bad idea because it allows you to run combo coverage behind it.

combocov

2 Deep, looks like man coverage underneath, but really it's zone.  The man on the slot has good position for run support. The near cornerback is in bump n run with the tall and dangerous, but not necessarily quick, Belcher.

combocov2

Everyone is covered, Rodgers even manages to stay close enough to his man to dissuade a throw against the confusing look, the 3 man rush gets pressure because Martin beats a double team. Plus we've got 4 extra men in coverage that are just waiting for Chappell to misread it as man coverage and try to force a ball in, so they can get an interception.

combocov3

Chappell coolly throws it away.

So those numbers may not be right. It seems clear that whatever Michigan is doing in the dime they need to keep doing until they can do it right, at which point they can mix some stuff up. Man coverage is playing with fire every time because of…

James Rogers finally getting exposed. One of the main takeaways from BlueSeoul's post is something that was obvious in the Indiana game after Michigan managed to get away with it through the nonconference:

I've probably covered this enough already, but just to summarize, he is the weakest link.  No, that's not surprising given what's happened to the depth chart at corner.

It's so bad that it's hard to  tell who he's covering and whether he's supposed to be in zone or man.  He's just kind of over there on one side.  By the 2nd half, Indiana was actively targeting him on a large percentage of plays.  He's giving up the 7 yard out

rodgersugh

ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

I don't mean to beat up on him but I agree; he's Nick Sheridan out there. I'm half-expecting he gets replaced this weekend, probably by Avery, though I imagine he'll still have a job in the dime package. Whither Cullen Christian? (Blowing coverages against BGSU, is where.)

Video Of All Varieties: Notre Dame 2010

Video Of All Varieties: Notre Dame 2010

Submitted by Brian on September 12th, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Shoes! Untied! Monday!

The biiiig torrent is up, a 19-gig uncompressed capture. The more manageable one's ETA is 3PM.

Goot bye 87 yards zing:

Fuller highlights from MGoBlue:

WMAX radio guy Ryan Terpstra's field-level video of Michigan's last drive, the final play of the game, and the aftermath includes some priceless shots of the ND student section right after they got Denarded:

Rodriguez and Denard postgame:

If you could bottle Denard Robinson's smile it would light up the universe.

Other bits after the jump.

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs UConn

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs UConn

Submitted by Brian on September 9th, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I THINK I MIGHT BE EXCITED THIS IS 9000 WORDS

NEW! So I've finally decided I'm going to try to hand out +/- for run blocking, which has been a sore spot when it comes to numbers since UFR started. With Michigan running 75% of the time against UConn, I can't just go by gut feel anymore. I've got enough of a handle on it to at least give it a try. I'm adopting the same sort of +/- format Genuinely Sarcastic uses, because that seems like a good idea, and hope he continues doing his version since different eyes will see different things.

Also, Denard Robinson demands some changes to the way UFR does passing. I'm adding a new SCR indicator for a scramble that is clearly a good idea given Robinson's speed and the down and distance situation. A four yard run on third and fifteen is still a TA.

Formation note: UConn didn't seem to do much, if any substitution. By the end of the game it was clear that they essentially had two defenses, a one-high formation…

  uconn-1-high

…and a two high formation…

tree-daed-1

…and that the only thing that changed other than that was the alignment of the linebackers based on the position of the WRs—when Michigan went to trips a linebacker lined up over the #2 WR. There was a slight variant of the one-high defense deployed when Michigan went to two TE sets that saw one of the linebackers drop down to the line and the others slide over; I called that "Base 5-3," FWIW. As always, nomenclature is an attempt to be clear about what I'm talking about, not a guarantee of fidelity.

Michigan didn't do anything too exciting except debut this formation I called "Shotgun H-back":

h-back

Here Martell Webb is lined up as a quasi fullback; usually he would pull to the backside and block the crashing DE, who always crashed on a… wait for it… scrape exchange.

Substitution note: Nothing you don't already know. No substitution on the OL except for Molk's momentary cramp. Robinson and Grady were rotating in at slot frequently even before Roundtree went out, with Robinson seemingly ahead of Grady when it came to PT. Koger and Webb rotated, with Webb more of a blocker and Koger a receiver. Jeremy Jackson got in some spot duty; Je'Ron Stokes did not see the field.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M4 1 10 I-Form Twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Shaw 6
Basically an iso designed to go just outside the TE; Koger and Dorrestein double and drive back the playside DE, with Koger popping off on the linebacker scraping over the top. McColgan has the short side corner; all these blocks are very well done. Unfortunately Omameh(-1) is overpowered by the DT and lets him into the backfield, forcing Shaw to bounce it outside. This robs Koger of the angle on the MLB and he has a free shot at Shaw for about one; Shaw(+1) spins through the tackle and gets six.
RUN+ Koger, Dorrestein, Shaw RUN- Omameh(2)
M10 2 4 I-Form Twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Stonum 7
UConn walks down the strong safety, so the corner on Stonum gives him an eight yard cushion. The quick hitch is open and Robinson hits him in the numbers. Pass was late and from the stands this looked a little dodgy--there will be a couple additional plays like this--but you can't ask for more when it comes to accuracy and velocity. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M17 1 10 Shotgun Trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run? Scramble Robinson 9 - 13 Pen
Michigan fakes a belly handoff to Shaw, doubling both DTs and hypothetically leaving Shaw one on one with the unblocked MLB. Not a convincing fake. it's supposed to go to a short bubble, but Robinson pulls it down and takes off, zipping by the MLB and scurrying around a safety, finally getting hacked down near the first down marker. Was the bubble open? Eh, probably, but not for 9 yards. Should Forcier have thrown this? Yes. Robinson? Run, jackrabbit, run. (SCR, --, protection NA) Omameh gets a personal foul for a hit well after the whistle.
RUN+ Odoms, Robinson RUN-
M13 2 14 Shotgun Trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 22
UConn's nickel 4-3 is a 4-3 with one of the LBs lined up over the #2 WR outside. There are also two safeties about ten yards downfield. Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) execute a classic scoop block, springing Schilling out on the the MLB, who he blocks out of hte play. Shaw(+1) takes out the other LB. Roundtree(+1) cuts a safety. Dorrestein(+1) gets a free release and has no one to block so he just runs downfield walling off the short side corner. A charging safety forces Robinson outside, where the corner manages to make a desperate lunging tackle, preventing an 85-yard touchdown. BWS picture-paged this play.
RUN+ Schilling, Molk, Roundtree, Shaw, Robinson RUN-
M35 1 10 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Belly keeper Robinson 10
This is a variant on the zone read but I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to be yet or who Robinson reads. I think it's the WLB, actually, as Koger kicks out the DE and all the linemen get blocked. Here Huyge(-1) and Schilling(-1) get split by an active DT and Shaw would be dead but Denard(ZR +1) pulls it out. He's now past the slanting DT and Schilling has released downfield along with Molk. Molk(+1) clocks Lloyd. Omameh(+1) controls the other DT and drives him two yards downfield, allowing Robinson to cut back behind when the LB avoid Schilling and Shaw. Dorrestein is again walling off a guy downfield; Robinson cuts behind; Stonum(+1) nails a corner, giving Robinson room to the sideline.
RUN+ Omameh, Molk, Stonum, Robinson(2) RUN- Schilling, Dorrestein
M45 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw 5
Michigan blocking the backside DE; they are going to be reading LBs all game. With the WLB crashing down on the stretch, this is a missed read by Denard(ZR-1). Still hypothetically has a shot at succeeding but Omameh's guy has gotten a bit of push and is set up in the B gap; he absorbs Smith's block. Shaw(+1) has nowhere to go and cuts behind blocks into the wide open gap Denard should have taken, managing to fall forward after barely avoiding the guy Schilling was blocking.
RUN+ Shaw, Schilling RUN- Omameh, Robinson
50 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 4
Double the playside DT and contain him, run right at the MLB, with Shaw getting a decent block; Robinson runs decisively, taking a hit from said MLB as he bounces off Shaw's block.
RUN+ NA RUN- NA
O46 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Bear 5-3 Run Iso Shaw 2
Do isos just go in a gap or can that change based on the D? Because UConn slants into this gap, leaving a big hole between Schilling and Omameh that has two linebackers, Molk, and could have McColgan if they went there. Instead it's just straight ahead at because Omameh(-1) and Dorrstein(-1) have lost out on blocks there are two tacklers and nowhere for Shaw to go; Shaw(+1) manages to fall forward for the first.
RUN+ Shaw RUN- Omameh, Dorrestein
O44 1 10 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Belly handoff Shaw 4
Not sure if this is the right read or not; DE is sliding down the line but maintaining some contain; definitely a handoff if Forcier, but Robinson? Benefit of the doubt since the DE did hesitate on Robinson. ZR+1. Omameh(-1) blocks down on the DT from an advantageous position and sees his block spun off of, forcing a cut outside where the backside DE is; the delay allows him to tackle. Crashing safety also there, but one-on-one that could have been a play.
RUN+ Robinson RUN- Omameh
O40 2 6 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA TE cross Koger 16
Zone stretch fake with Schilling pulling around to provide pass protection on the unblocked backside DE. Linebackers suck up like whoah (RPS+2), leaving Koger wide open as the guy who should be covering the zone he's entering is actually trying to tackle Robinson. Dart hits him between the numbers 15 yards downfield, caught, first down. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
O24 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw -1
Frustrating, as UConn has six in the box and literally not enough guys to tackle if they run another draw. This is a stretch, and Robison makes the correct handoff decision (ZR+1) since the WLB is charging right at him. Omameh's(-1) DT does get a little penetration and closes off the frontside B gap, forcing Shaw to cut back; Molk(-1) and Schilling double team the NT and eventually pancake him but don't block anyone else. Blitzing WLB makes the play. (RPS-1) Run minus: Omameh, Schilling.
O25 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 10
This is just too easy, as UConn does the exact same thing. With two deep safeties and six in the box they literally have no one to tackle the QB. WLB runs into a frontside crease, leaving no one for Shaw to even block until he's ten yards downfield. Molk(+1) controlled and pancaked the playside DT; Robinson and Shaw banged a safety, leaving the slot LB to come from behind and tackle. RPS+2.
RUN+ Robinson, Molk RUN-
O15 3 1 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
SIX GUYS IN BOX ON THIRD AND ONE AT THE 15. Edsall derp. A slightly short yardage variation as Molk and Schilling double and crush the playside DT. Weakside LB reacts quickly and defeats Smith's block but has no chance to keep this under three yards, let alone one. RPS+1. Millen's praising Lloyd, and praising him correctly, and this had no chance.
RUN+ NA RUN- NA
O12 1 10 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Belly handoff Smith 12
Almost all Smith. Schilling(-1) gets driven back and thrown almost into the path of Smith; he ends up with his back to the DT looking at him. On the frontside, Molk and Omameh just manage to wall off the playside DT; Omameh pops off on the charging SLB. Smith manages to slip through this mess into a totally unblocked safety, who misses, at which point he can cut behind Roundtree(+1) and get into the endzone.
RUN+ Smith(3), Roundtree RUN- Schilling
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. 108 yard drive with two passes. Bo, man. Bo.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Belly handoff Shaw 4
This is on Denard because the unblocked DE was hauling ass after the RB and he needs to pull it out (ZR -1). If he does he has Webb as a lead blocker, Huyge on Lloyd, and the slot LB between him and the safeties--first down probably, touchdown maybe. As it is Shaw(+1) does well to hop around the DE and pick up a few yards.
RUN+ Shaw RUN- Robinson
M27 2 6 ? ? ? ? ? Pass Hitch Stonum 5
Watching Rice-Texas instead of this play, come back just as Stonum's catching a zinger from Denard. (CA, 3, ?)
M32 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
Corner rolled down into the box as a WLB, allowing the LBs to slide over. This lets them send two guys into the hole the draw has gone into already, forcing Robinson behind the ineffective Molk/Schilling double and into the path of the backside DT, who has shucked Omameh; SLB comes up unblocked to fill but not before Robinson's quickness picks up the first. (RPS -1)
RUN+ Robinson RUN- Omameh
M35 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Belly lead keeper Robinson 12
Same play as the first snap on this drive and Denard has learned (or just been told to pull the damn ball, getting a ZR+1). He yoinks the ball out as the DE against crashes down and finds himself in plenty of space with Webb as a lead blocker. Huyge(+2) gets a great pancake block on MLB Lloyd and Robinson jets past the first down; would like to see him try to set up the safety inside and hop outside in an effort to get a touchdown. Also Odoms does a great, if ultimately irrelevant, job on the outside.
RUN+ Robinson, Huyge(2), Odoms RUN-
M47 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Flare screen Shaw 16
Seven guys in the box now and UConn sends a safety-type player on a blitz. Four men are in a deep umbrella, leaving just two guys underneath, and they don't know where to go because Michigan is sending two OL each way. Michigan hits the flare. Odoms and Dorrestein get cuts downfield; Grady gets a decent block that springs Shaw through, leaving him one on one with a safety for six. Off balance, he can't put a move on and gets tackled. (CA,3, screen, RPS +1)
RUN+ Odoms, Dorrestein RUN-
O37 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Belly handoff Shaw 5
Essentially an identical play to the first one on the drive, where DE hauls ass after Shaw, Denard makes a bad read (ZR-1), Shaw(+1) evades the DE and hits the backside of the play. This time Denard actually gets out to block, Webb totally walls off the slot LB, Huyge gets another good block on Lloyd, and it's still six yards.
RUN+ Shaw, Webb, Huyge RUN- Robinson
O32 2 5 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run QB lead draw Robinson 32
You cannot draw up a scoop block better than this. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) drive the playside DT back and then Omameh pops out on the MLB. A pulling Webb(+1) wipes Lloyd out, Shaw(+1) takes out the weakside safety type thing and Millen drops "that's six" as Robinson crosses the LOS. He really is a fantastic broadcaster. Replay.
RUN+ Molk, Omameh(2), Smith, Robinson, Webb RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O44 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Shaw 15
Variant on the belly series from the last drive. On this one Webb pulls to clock the backside DE and Omameh(+1) blocks down on the playside DT; both linebackers have sucked to the backside because they're worried about Denard and not expecting this to go so far off tackle the other way since Shaw is lined up in the belly spot behind his QB. Ton of space; Shaw just runs by the SLB until he's forced inside by the corner. SLB tackles. RPS+1. Don't think this is a read, think this a called play, so no ZR.
RUN+ Omameh, Dorrestein RUN-
O29 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson -3
UConn adjusting to this by slanting the DE into the gap instead of letting the OT kick him out. This creates a mess. Denard slows up and tries to cut back, but Omameh(-1) has been driven back and he still tries to go around, eventually getting tackled for a loss. Should have just cut it outside. The evolution of dance here is for Tebow-style play-action fakes that consist of a single step forward. RPS-1. Run Minus: Omameh, Robinson
O32 2 13 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Jailbreak screen Grady 3
Fake the flare screen to Shawn and come back with the jailbreak on the other side of the field. This has sucked a lot of people out of position, leaving three blockers and three defenders before Grady is jetting for the endzone. Koger(+1) picks off the slot LB. Molk(+1) blocks MLB Lloyd. Schilling(-1) totally overruns the safety, who tackles unmolested. (CA, 3, protection NA)
RUN+ Molk, Koger RUN- Schilling(2)
O29 3 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel Pass TE cross Koger 4
Not sure how restricted Robinson's read is here, but M is hoping for man and gets zone so Koger gets nailed as soon as he catches it. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 14-0, 13 min 2nd Q. Shankapotamus punt sets M up with good field position on the next drive.
O38 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4- Run Reverse Grady -3
PEDANTRY NOTE: Since the action of the play goes one way with what looks like a QB sweep and then has a pitch to the WR, I'm calling this a reverse instead of an end around. The play: Michigan runs QB sweep action and pitches it to Grady as Koger takes out the backside DE. Problem: this 4-4 has a weakside alley defender like a Kovacs and no one is doing the thing where they run with Stonum on a fly route for 20 yards. This guy bites but is so far to the backside that he can easily recover in time to hit Grady. Grady, for his part, just runs right into the guy when he could have cut it inside and gotten some yards, possibly lots, and then he fumbles. Not a great play for Grady.
RUN+ Koger RUN- Grady(3)
O41 2 13 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4- Run QB lead draw Robinson 6
Best block of the day for Omameh, who gets under the DT and pushes him back a couple yards. LB is flowing downhill at this very fast so Robinson decides to cut back rather than chance a pileup with that guy and Webb at the LOS. Omameh's guy pops off to try to tackle but falls over backwards thanks to Omameh and Denard runs through it; MLB ate Molk(+1) and Denard can fall forward, stiffarming as he falls.
RUN+ Omameh, Molk RUN-
O35 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel Pass Slant Odoms 16
Smith runs the flare screen route, Roundtree heads straight downfield, and Odoms slants inside. Denard throws what looks like a dangerous pass, but the safety coming down isn't even looking at Odoms, he's trying to get out for the screen, only realizing his error as the ball arrives. Odoms catches and quicks his way past the safety, picking up the first down and considerably more. With Odoms coming to a stop and a guy in Denard's face he can't wait any longer to make this throw; it is on rhythm. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Omameh -1)
O19 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Inside zone Smith 4
Backside blitzer makes this a correct read (ZR+1) Omameh and Schilling(+1 each) successfully crease the DTs, leaving Molk one on one with SLB, who beats him(-1). Smith is tackled by that guy.
RUN+ Schilling, Omameh RUN- Molk
O15 2 6 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4- Run QB lead draw Robinson -2
This one also appears designed to go right up the middle, but Omameh(-1) is beaten by the slanting DT and there's nothing. Robinson has a chance to hop outside and maybe beat the backside DE but slips and is tackled for a loss. RPS -1; this slant killed the play. Run minus: Omameh, Dorrestein
O17 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel Run QB lead draw Robinson 10
UConn stunting, which takes the playside DE inside. He's walled off by Huyge(+1); Schilling(+1) absolutely blasts the playside DT, erasing him; Smith shifts outside the DE when he sees the way the play is developing; Smith and Roundtree get blocks downfield and it's first and goal.
RUN+ Schilling(2), Huyge, Smith, Roundtree RUN-
O7 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 3
Correct read with a backside blitz. Schilling kicks out his DT; Molk plows the MLB; Omameh cannot handle his DT, who comes off him to make a play a few yards downfield. Not minus-worthy but I was thinking about it.
RUN+ Schilling RUN-
O4 2 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Goal line Run Inside zone Shaw 4
Basically the same play; Schilling(+1) again does a great job of kicking out the DT; Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB, and Omameh does enough on the other guy, falling to the ground but getting in the way of him.
RUN+ Schilling, Molk RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O8 1 10 Shotgun Trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read keeper Robinson 8
Robinson correctly reads the crash (ZR+1) and pulls it out, finding himself in open space. Huyge can't maintain his block on the outside but he's blocking the handoff so not his fault. Robinson jets for eight.
RUN+ Robinson RUN-
O16 2 2 Shotgun Trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB lead draw Robinson 6
They do get the intended crease this time (no slant from the DE) but the MLB fills immediately, bashing Smith close to the LOS. Robinson(+1) darts around Molk and has the acceleration to dart up into the crease behind him before Omameh's guy can come off and grab him. He does manage to reach out an arm and spin him down.
RUN+ Robinson, Molk RUN- Smith
O22 1 10 Shotgun Trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Run Belly handoff Smith 0
The read here should be keep but this might not actually be a read since he just ran twice. I have to assume it is, though, so: ZR-1. Smith has no hole because Omameh(-1) did not seal his man; that delay is enough for the backside DE to tackle for nothing. Run minus: Omameh, Robinson
O22 2 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Pass PA throwaway Roundtree(?) Inc
UConn blitzes right into this, getting an unblocked guy in Robinson's face before he even has a chance; a slanting player has slashed past the fake run blocks and is also in the backfield. Robinson avoids one guy, then the other guy, in a remarkable Houdini act. With another couple guys coming in to crush him he just chucks the ball hard, deep, and on a line well past Roundtree. Was he trying to complete this? Does he just throw everything like this and has no deep ball? I don't know, but the benefit of the doubt goes to the guy who just escaped two defenders and is chucking the ball away. (TA, 0, protection 0/2, team, RPS-1)
O22 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Jailbreak screen Stonum 4
UConn prepared for this, with the SLB in a position where there's no way anyone is going to be able to block him. Stonum(+1) does well to run through his tackle but he can't make the second guy miss. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass ZR Bubble Roundtree -1
Denard pulls it out with the DE crashing (ZR+1) but Huyge(-1) and Webb(-1) both have ineffectual blocks so DR goes to his safety valve; Odoms(-1) can handle his guy and it's a loss. (CA, 3, screen) Run minus: Huyge, Webb, Odoms
M18 2 11 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Quick out Roundtree Inc
This is a quick rollout with the two guys running an out and a fly to test the cornerback in a presumed zone; Denard throws the quick out before the play develops, allowing the corner to come up and crush Roundtree, separating him from the ball and knocking him out for the game. Another beat and he would have probably had Stonum, or the corner would have backed off Roundtree. (BR, 1, protection 1/1)
M18 3 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Deep hitch Grady 16
Great protection leaves Robinson all kinds of time, and there's a fifth guy spying. Robinson waits for Grady to clear the linebacker level and sit down in the hole in the zone, then zips one in a decent window right on the numbers for a first down. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M34 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Belly handoff Smith 4
Same as previous plays; Webb(-1) just runs by the backside DE; Omameh(-1) cannot contain his man, and both of these guys get arms on Smith at the LOS. He does a good job of running through those tackles and getting a decent gain anyway. Schilling got his guy sealed again.
RUN+ Schilling, Smith RUN- Omameh, Webb
M38 2 6 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 3
Molk(+1) gets a seal on the stretch block against that DT Omameh's been struggling with as Omameh heads to the second level, where the LB heads outside of him; Dorrestein(+1) pancakes the DE. Robinson should cut it up in between the C and T but heads outside, where Smith manages to wall off the SLB Omameh had no angle on. This leaves an unblocked safety to fill.
RUN+ Dorrestein, Molk RUN- Robinson
M41 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Odoms 9
Smith runs the flare again, drawing up the WLB and opening a window in which Robinson zings a first down completion. Slightly high, but ok. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M49 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Belly handoff Smith 1
Correct handoff with a S waiting for him and Webb going to block the crashing DE. Story is again the same: Omameh(-1), even with help from Dorrestein, cannot contain DT99, who forces himself over into the hole, leaving nothing for Smith to do except run up the back of his OL. If I was grading the UConn D he'd be en route to +10 or better. ZR+1. Run minus: Omameh
50 2 9 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Belly handoff Smith 4
No crash; correct handoff(ZR+1). Omameh(+1) does seal and kick the DT this time; they're running it to the opposite side. Unfortunately, Schilling(-1) can't get any drive or seal and Smith has to cut it back; Huyge(-1) whiffed on the SLB. Smith meets two guys two yards downfield and burrows for two more.
RUN+ Omameh, Robinson RUN- Schilling, Huyge
O46 3 5 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Stonum 11
The flare again sucks a linebacker up to it, leaving Stonum in a big hole in the zone. Zing, bobble, catch, first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O35 1 10 Shotgun Trips TE 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Grady 4
Safety walks down. This bubble is the short bubble where the receiver does not run the full route in the hopes of finding space between the freakin' out LB over the slot and the interior defense. This not so much. Odoms does manage to cut his guy but a safety charges up as soon as it looks like a bubble and snuffs it out. Michigan will use this later. (CA, 3, screen)
O31 2 6 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 5
Dorrestein(+1) cuts the backside DT to the ground, removing him totally. Molk(-1) gets pushed back and Robinson has to cut behind; this open because of the Dorrestein chop. Omameh releases into the second level but ends up blocking no one, which is unfortunate because Denard squeezes through arm tackles only to take his first real shot of the day from a safety a yard short of the sticks.
RUN+ Robinson, Dorrestein RUN- Omameh, Molk
O26 3 1 ? ? ? ? ? Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
TV misses this play.
O23 1 10 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Belly handoff Smith 4
This again. Omameh(+1) does get enough of the DT for the RB to skip by; Schilling seals his guy out. Unfortunately Molk(-1) has a really weird whiff where he just runs away from the MLB, the only person he can reasonably expect to block, and that guy tackles.
RUN+ Omameh, Schilling RUN- Molk
O19 2 6 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Flare Smith -1
Incorrect read by Robinson as the LB is flying out of the zone and Michigan again has the slant they've worked for a bunch of first downs. He instead throws the flare, getting Smith whacked by the corner. (BR, 3, protection NA)
O20 3 7 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 11
UConn in zone and does a great job of covering a slant/wheel to the top of the screen Denard is looking at. Same thing on the bottom, same coverage. No one open, he takes off, darting past outstretched hands for the first down. Bonus: Smith's wicked blitz pickup. (SCR, --, protection 2/2)
O9 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 5
Playside DT just surges forward and falls, almost cut-blocking Molk. A charging LB darts past Webb, leaving two guys for Smith to block on the outside; the DT's fall has provided a cutback lane. Dorrestein(-1) could not cut the backside DT at all so he's there, but Robinson's hesitation move gets him to delay in case he cuts back around him, opening up a hole to dart into.
RUN+ Robinson, Huyge RUN- Dorrestein
O4 2 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Belly Keeper Robinson -3
DR seems en route to endzone when he bobbles and drops the ball. Never really had it after the exchange.
O7 3 G Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 0
Blitz into the play cuts off the outside and gives UConn another guy on the inside to snuff this play out. RPS -1. Michigan will use this later, too.
Drive Notes: FG(24), 24-10, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M11 1 10 Ace 4-wide 1 1 4 Base 4-3 Run Dive Shaw 5
End around fake from Odoms; this is just a straight handoff up the middle. Omameh(+1) and Schilling(+1) crease the DTs and Molk(+1) nails the MLB; OLBs converge to tackle.
RUN+ Omameh, Schilling, Molk RUN-
M16 2 5 I-Form Twins 2 1 2 Base 4-4 Run Off tackle Shaw -10
Omameh(-2) completely pwned by the DT, who I will name for you at this point: Kendall Reyes. Shaw(-2) compounds matters by dancing backwards instead of just trying to cut behind the mess and get back to the LOS, getting shoved and tackled for a huge loss. Run minus: Omameh(2), Shaw(2)
M6 3 15 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 15
A give up and punt play, which is reasonable given the game situation and your sophomore QB. Except, uh? first down. UConn rushes four and has three LBs in the middle of the field. Smith(+1) gets enough of the MLB; Grady and Robinson get in the way, and the other Robinson(+1) gives a tiny hip fake that causes one of the LBs to hop outside the blocker; he continues upfield, getting submarined, flying for the first down, and giving his hip an owie.
RUN+ Robinson, Smith, T. Robinson, Grady RUN-
M21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Gardner -4
Correct read (ZR+1) as the DE crashes but a terrible decision by Gardner(-2) to attempt to go outside of Koger and his man when the interior line was crushing that side of the line downfield. Koger(-1) also should have done better.
RUN+ Omameh, Dorrestein RUN- Gardner(2), Koger
M17 2 14 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Zone read belly Smith 13
Another good read (ZR+1) with an outside blitzer and the fake is good enough to suck two guys outside and give Smith a big cutback lane he takes. Omameh(+1) crushed Reyes on this play; Dorrestein(+1) sealed off the SLB.
RUN+ Gardner, Omameh, Dorrestein RUN-
M30 3 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-4 Run QB lead draw Robinson 4
Surprise. LBs flying downhill at this, filling the hole, but Koger(+1) and Dorrestein(+1) have doubled the playside DE, driving him well back and giving Robinson a lane outside he takes for the first down. Robinson is too quick for the alley guy. (RPS-1)
RUN+ Koger, Dorrestein, Robinson RUN-
M34 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Flare Smith 8
Fourth or fifth time they've run this; this time the LB sticks in the middle of the zone and Robinson nails Smith with a perfectly placed touch pass that he can ramble up the sidelines with. (CA+, 3, screen)
M42 2 2 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA Bubble Post T. Robinson 43
Dorrestein(-1) completely whiffs his cut block as Michigan goes for a fake handoff, then a fake bubble that sucks the UConn linebacker corps to the LOS in a fashion I've never seen before. Robinson has two guys running wide open and picks Robinson's post because it's probably the primary read; he does this with a guy in his face so it's kind of a tough throw. It's on the money 20 yards downfield, providing Robinson the ability to run after the catch, so it gets a DO. (DO, 3, protection 0/1, Dorrestein, RPS+3)
O15 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Belly handoff Smith 5
Eighth guy in the box is coming down hard in the G-T gap so Smith has to squeeze between the two guards; both have maintained good blocks. At this point the backside DE is crashing in and the eighth guy has adjusted, so the tackle. Smith does a good job of getting some YAC. RPS-1.
RUN+ Omameh, Schilling, Smith RUN-
O10 2 5 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Sack -- -1
PA rollout finds no one open for Robinson so he tries to run it; this is well defensed. Good D by Uconn, correct decision by Denard. (TA, --, protection NA)
O11 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Flare screen Smith 11
UConn blitzes right into this, and gets DOOM'D for their trouble; you can hear Michigan Stadium go "yeeeeeah" as soon as they see what the playcalls are. RPS+2. There are only two guys to the same side of the field as Smith and four blockers; Huyge(+1) and Odoms(+1) do excellent jobs and Smith can walk it in. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+ Odoms, Huyge RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed XP), 30-10, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Belly handoff Shaw 3
UConn is pouring downhill at these so I won't judge too harshly on a drive when Michigan's just trying to put a game that's already put away fully underground. Omameh(+1) gets a good block; Molk's angle out of the line does not take him through defenders, and the crashing DE is crashing so hard Shaw again has to go behind a guy and get what he can, which is three since there are linebackers everywhere. I'm not going to ZR this either because the game's done and Robinson doesn't need more carries.
RUN+ Omameh RUN-
M26 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 5-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 9
Okay, I will. UConn pulls an LB down to the line to combat the second TE, Webb(+1) kicks him out. DE crashes, Robinson pulls (ZR+1), Huyge wipes out Lloyd (easy), and Robinson shoots up in the gap provided by Schilling and Webb, cutting behind the SLB after five yards to pick up nine.
RUN+ Webb, Huyge, Schilling, Robinson RUN-
M35 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 5-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 8
Basically same thing as M finally starts testing a UConn D intent on shooting the DE down the line. Here MLB Lloyd is the scrape guy and starts hauling ass after Denard immediately, but Denard just outruns him to the corner easy. Koger got a block on the playside DE. (ZR+1)
RUN+ Koger, Robinson RUN-
M43 2 2 I-Form Twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Iso Shaw 3
Reyes submarines Omameh and falls; Schilling(+1) seals his DT; Molk(-1) whiffs on Lloyd, who meets Shaw a yard past the LOS thanks to the excellent Schilling block; Shaw just blows him and gets the pile to fall the right direction.
RUN+ Schilling RUN- Molk
M46 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 1 2 Base 4-4- Run Broken play Shaw -1
Shaw and Smith bump into each other, almost certainly because Smith gets the wrong playcall. Not going to bother with the blocking because who knows?
M45 2 11 Ace 1 2 2 Base 5-3 Pass Waggle TE flat Koger 10
This sucks the WLB to the fake and gets Koger open in the flat. Robinson gives him a soft toss and he turns it up to get near the first down marker. (CA, 3, protection NA)
O45 3 1 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 5-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 6
Dorrestein(+1) and Koger(+1) totally obliterate the playside DE, catching the linebackers up in the wash and letting Robinson just run up their backs for five. This is a variant of the regular draw where they're doubling one particular member of the DL on short yardage.
RUN+ Dorrestein, Koger RUN-
O39 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 Base 5-3 Run Inside zone Smith 0
At this point I'm not really interested. WOOOOO. Omameh gets the main demerit, but I'm not sure what Molk is doing either? at this point whatever.
O39 2 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Belly handoff Smith 3
I understand this blocking so I'll chart it: again with the inside zone; Omameh(+1) gets a goot block; Schilling a bleah but acceptable one; Molk(-1) gets the ole job by Lloyd. Kind of disappointed in Molk's downfield blocking this game.
RUN+ Omameh RUN- Molk
O36 3 7 Shotgun 3-Wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Stonum 7
Simple pitch and catch, well timed if a tiny bit upfield. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O29 4 1 Ace 1 1 3 Base 5-3 Run QB sneak Robinson 2
They get it.
O27 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 5-3 Run Iso Smith 0
This is Omameh(-2) getting smoked. Run minus: Omameh(2)
O27 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 5-3 Run Dive Smith 1
Playside DT submarines Molk, taking himself and Molk out and opening a frontside crease. McColgan(-1) makes a really weird decision by hitting one of the contain guys instead of going right upfield and putting his facemask on the MLB's chest. Dorrestein can't cut said MLB and he tackles Smith near the LOS.
RUN+ Omameh RUN- McColgan
O26 3 9 I-Form Twins 2 1 2 Base 5-3 Run Iso Smith 0
Seriously, at this point whatever.
O26 4 9 I-Form Twins 2 1 2 Base 5-3 Pass Waggle hitch Grady Inc
Can't see this from the tape but I had a good line on this in the stadium and it was open but Denard did not get the ball out fast enough. You can see that Stonum was open on the outside, too. I usually go with IN for balls that aren't bad ideas but are thrown too early/late but with Stonum sitting out there it's BR time. (BR, 0, protection NA)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-10, 2 min 4th Q. EOG.

I'm dizzy because I keep running around in circles screaming "wheeeeeeeeeeee!" I know it's Thursday, I don't care.

Yeah, let's just get right to the—

CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAART

Chart. I've included our Denard Robinson All of 2009 chart for comparison:

[Hennechart legend, or hover over the table headers]

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ?
UConn 2 15(6) - - 3 2 - - 2

Downfield success rate: 68%.

!!!!!111!111!!!!!!!

!!!!1111!!!!!1111!

I know. There has never been a UFR passing chart devoid of MAs and INs. The full dossier of things Robinson was dinged for:

  • Chucking the ball away deep after escaping two unblocked rushers.
  • Running out of bounds for a one-yard sack on a waggle play.
  • Throwing a flare instead of a slant and getting Vincent Smith hit for a one yard loss.
  • Getting Roundtree killed on an out that he caught until it was violently separated from him.
  • Throwing a waggle hitch late on the last offensive play Michigan had.

That's it. The first is a good play. The second was a good decision since he had nowhere else to go and is Denard Robinson approaching the line of scrimmage. The other three were passes as deadly accurate as his other 18 but weren't the best options; only on the last was their any chance of a turnover. Everyone's worried about Tate Forcier transferring because of a lack of playing time… but what about Tacopants? He got zero balls.

UConn's secondary has to be terrible.

Yeah… UConn's secondary is probably terrible. They were starting a bunch of freshmen and failed to take advantage of a couple moments where it looked like Robinson was late on hitches. Also all that other stuff happened. Here is the avalanche of caveats and stern looks designed to keep your pants on—

—or put them back on—

TMI—and put Robinson's performance in perspective. Many of his downfield throws were either simple hitches or the slant/flare combo they ran about eight times where Smith would run a flare route, the linebacker to that side would start charging it down, and Robinson would zing a wide-open slant in the vacated space. Once the linebacker charged it down and Robinson threw the flare for no yardage; once he stayed home and Robinson threw the flare for good yardage. Michigan didn't show a whole lot, and for the most part avoided plays that could be risky.

The only play I gave the hallowed DO other than the wide open TRob (apologies for the use of that annoying shorthand but I'm not going to distinguish between the two Robinsons with full names for the next three years) post was this:

And while that's wicked sweet it's the only time he really fit it in a window. Not that I'm worried about his accuracy anymore*. It's more about what happens when his receivers are covered. Can he come off a primary read? Can he consistently recognize when guys are covered? Can he process information fast enough to get the passes out on time? Answers:

  • Don't know, as both times UConn covered the primary read they covered everyone and Robinson ran.
  • Don't know. He made three bad reads, but didn't throw anywhere truly dangerous.
  • Not consistently yet. Some of the CAs above were late but he got away with them, and the last incompletion was very late.

Notre Dame and their veteran secondary will be another test.

On the other hand, how many times did you see Pat White zinging balls to hopelessly, almost unbelievably wide open receivers? Part of the magic of the offense is that when you can run 70% of the time and still put up first downs and string together long plays, things like that Robinson-to-Robinson pass where there isn't a defender in the same time zone as the receiver happen. The burden on Robinson to read defenses is going to be so much lower than it would be for a Henne or Tate because it's impossible to leave two high safeties against him (or at least a terrible idea) and taking a step forward is the best play-fake in the world.

Also, on third and 11 up 11 with this guy who wasn't even a quarterback last year, Rodriguez let 'er rip. They have some level of confidence there.

*(WOOO)

My pants—

More charts! Receiverchart:

This Game Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum - - - 5/5 - - - 5/5
Odoms - - - 2/2 - - - 2/2
Hemingway - - - - - - - -
Jackson - - - - - - - -
Roundtree 1 0/1 - - 1 0/1 - -
Grady 1 - - 3/3 1 - - 3/3
Robinson - - - 1/1 - - - 1/1
Stokes - - - - - - - -
Koger - - 1/1 2/2 - - 1/1 2/2
Webb - - - - - - - -
Smith - - - 3/3 - - - 3/3
Shaw - - - 1/1 - - - 1/1
Cox - - - - - - - -
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

An exceptionally unchallenging day, but one on which they made no mistakes. Having Koger go 3/3 is encouraging. The only hypothetically catchable pass that wasn't was the one on which Roundtree got blown up. Hard to blame a guy for that.

PROTECTION METRIC: 12/16, Dorrestein –1, Omameh –1, Team –2.

Low sample size makes it tough to get a read but since the Dorrestein –1 was a failed chop block on the TRob post and the team minus was getting overwhelmed by a blitz into play action the initial returns are pretty good. No minuses from the tackles when they're actually setting up to pass block is win.

Rock-paper-scissors: +13, –7, TOTAL +6.

This may even be pessimistic since I started dinging Michigan points for running the same stuff over and over again when they probably put away the tricks because they didn't need them and I think I even RPS-1ed a successful QB lead draw on third and one because UConn was all over it. Is it really a bad decision if they leap all over it and still can't stop it?

It'll be interesting to watch this over the course of the season—Robinson's promise is that he can drop more RPS+3 plays this year than Michigan has in the last two seasons combined.

All right, now… the run game, which was the bulk of the offense?

Right, so this is the first time I'd ever systematically done this and it could end up being totally whack but here it is anyway:

Chart.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge 7 2 5 No pass rush minuses, too. Excellent day.
Schilling 13 6 7 Clearly the best interior OL on the day.
Molk 10 5 5 Had some downfield whiffs.
Omameh 15 16 -1 Major issues with Kendall Reyes.
Dorrestein 9 4 5 Couple of pancakes.
Webb 3 2 1 Seemed better.
Koger 6 1 5 !
TOTAL 63 36 27 Splat.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 17 6 13 Woo ha!
Gardner 1 2 -1 Should have cut his loss upfield for a big gain.
Shaw 7 2 5 Lot of hopping on bad ZR decisions.
Smith 7 1 6 TD killer.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Hopkins - - - DNP
McColgan - 1 -1 Eh.
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 33 15 18 Zip.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum 1 - 1 --
Odoms 4 1 3 Wha?
TRobinson 1 - 1 --
Roundtree 3 - 3 --
Grady 1 3 -2 Negs on the bad reverse.
TOTAL 17 10 7 !?!?!?
Metrics
Zone Read 10 3 7 Just Robinson. Gardner also had a 2-0-2.

I have no idea what the context is here and think I should separated out carrying and blocking +/- for the RBs, since the former seems more important than the latter but it essentially bears out what I thought when watching the game. The tackles were surprisingly good but not that involved on a day when Michigan did almost all of its damage up the middle. Schilling took a major step forward, something that's echoed by NFL draft types:

Steve Schilling/G/Michigan: Schilling, who looked liked a star in the making as a freshman, has struggled the past few seasons adjusting to Michigan's motion offense. On Saturday, he showed signs of major improvement in his ability to block on the move and annihilate opponents at the point.

Molk was good but did not execute many of his patented reach blocks because of the interior focus and whiffed on MLBs a bit too often for my tastes.

And Patrick Omameh struggled. He didn't exactly lose out, but as the only guy on the line anywhere near even he stood out as a sophomore. UConn's Kendall Reyes was a problem all day, bursting into the backfield on the Shaw ten-yard loss and causing most of the bounce-outs. Sometimes this just happens. I remember Eastern Michigan's Jason Jones doing a lot of damage, pointing out how good he was, and hoping this was true both for credibility and what it said about Michigan's offensive line. Jones eventually went in the second round of the NFL draft. I both think and hope Reyes is really good, headed for All Big East recognition. If not, Omameh has a lot of work to do.

What if Robinson explodes or something?

Well, we're in trouble. This might happen. Quarterbacks get injured frequently. But it doesn't appear that they get injured any more frequently when they run a lot, as MCalibur's diaries have shown. There is a slight increase in injury rate that does not rise to the level of statistical significance, which is to say that the numbers suggest there might be a slight uptick, but the rate at which this happens is low enough that we can't be sure. In any case, an extra 2-3% chance your QB goes down is so worth the added explosiveness a guy like Robinson brings.

Heroes?

Almost everyone to some extent but special mention goes to Robinson (obviously) and Schilling.

Goats?

The only person who even remotely qualifies is Omameh and even he did all right.

What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?

Next week's game is going to be interesting on the interior of the line since ND is running a 3-4. Omameh won't have a DT lined up directly over him; that will fall to Molk, who will endeavor to put Ian Williams on rollerskates for the third straight year. Williams has supposedly bulked up and didn't spend most of the last year rehabbing a knee so that matchup should be more even. If Molk can win it consistently, Schilling and Omameh will spend most of their time trying to stay in front of Carlo Calebrese and Manti Te'o, ND's MLBs. Those three matchups will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the game. I expect considerably more variation in the run game, with a lot more stretch plays to test the historically immobile Williams.

In the passing game… well, if Notre Dame leaves primary reads open Robinson will hit them. They will probably have an answer to the slant/flare combo that worked so well for Michigan against UConn, but with so few tricks pulled out of the bag in the first game they'll have to deal with a larger than usual set of plays they have not seen before. That combined with Robinson's legs demanding attention should set him up with a large number of makeable throws as long as he's not stuck with long-yardage situations. That goes back to the interior line, then.

We don't know much, but we'll know a lot more after Saturday.

Preview 2010: Offensive Line

Preview 2010: Offensive Line

Submitted by Brian on September 1st, 2010 at 1:10 PM

Previously: The story, the secondary, the linebackers, the defensive line, special teams, and the conference.

offensive-line-iowa

Rating: 4 of 5.

Depth Chart
LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Mark Huyge Jr.* Steve Schilling Sr.* David Molk Jr.* Patrick Omameh So.* Perry Dorrestein Sr.*
Taylor Lewan Fr.* Ricky Barnum So.* Rocko Khoury So.* Quinton Washington Fr.* Michael Schofield Fr.*
-- -- Elliott Mealer So.* Christian Pace Fr. John Ferrara Sr.* -- --

Last year the big stat was Michigan's rushing game over the second half of the season, which went from turrible to solidly above average and hypothetically would have been 30th nationally if they hadn't been flailing around the first half of the season. A 3.5 was offered here after the previous seasons oh-so-warranted 1, and that seemed slightly pessimistic as Michigan firebombed its first four opponents on the ground (sacks, kneeldowns, and bad snaps obscured a 222 yard day against Indiana in game four).

Unfortunately, once the opposition got serious the loss of David Molk for all but three snaps of the Big Ten schedule could not be overcome. The right side of the line resembled Drew Palmisano during the Epic Karma series (hey-o!), David Moosman was not as agile as Molk and had a nasty tendency to chuck snaps anywhere but the quarterback's chest, and snap counts got predictable enough for Michigan State players to commit what seemed like five or so uncalled offsides penalties.

The result was a gradual decline, probably an extra loss or two—it's not hard to see Molk's presence swing at least one of the Iowa, Purdue, or Michigan State games, especially since half of Michigan's negatives in the MSU game were attributed to his absence—and the team's failure to lock down this blog's giddy projections of Michigan's BEST RUSH OFFENSE EVER (since 2000) after the first third of the schedule. The resulting absence from a bowl game has us where we are now, on a rickety boat approaching Niagara Falls.

But, hey, silver lining: Molk's absence last year means everyone this year started at least three games and could be regarded a returning starter if you want to squint at it. Sure, the two guys who tried right tackle last year were wonky enough to provide a redshirt freshman his starts, but… hey… like… whatever. Compared to last year, there's a ton of depth and experience. Compared to 2008, there is a Weisload. (Miss you, big guy xoxo.) Ask Rodriguez:

“Two years ago, it’s not even close,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “… Now, we have four or five guys that have started, guys that have redshirted in (Taylor) Lewan and (Michael) Schofield and Quinton Washington that are now ready to play.

“We still have not as quite as talented in the ones and twos as we’d like to be, but we’ll have seven or eight guys when we’re done with camp in a week or two that we’ll feel comfortable playing.”

The interior line looks killer if Patrick Omameh can live up to the cascades of hype he's receiving, and the tackles… well… like… whatever?

Tackle

Rating: 3 of 5.

After a spring in which already-hyped Taylor Lewan found himself starting at left tackle thanks to Perry Dorrestein's back injury—thus picking up an extra, even shinier layer of hype—you couldn't find a Michigan fan who would have projected him to start the year on the bench. But that's apparently the case, as the two veterans who made the right side such a mess last year have held onto their starting spots by the skin of their teeth. Rodriguez says this is due to considerable improvement

“Yeah, the upper classman are battling to keep it. (Mark) Huyge and (Perry) Dorrestein have really done a good job in camp. The two young tackles (Michael) Schofield and (Taylor) Lewan have been pretty solid. They’re bigger, stronger and I think that competition has been pretty good. I’ve been really pleased they way Perry and Mark have responded to the challenge and really have their best camps since I’ve been here the last two years."

…but it is hard to imagine him saying anything else. I believe him, but like a lot of spots on the team the returning starters have a long way to go.

mark-huyge-psumark-huyge-pose

MARK HUYGE

DOWNFIELD NO
huge whiff on LB
fails to cut LB
DOWNFIELD YES
MLB erasure
springs Minor TD
GOOD TACKLE STUFF
on his way to six points
huge cutback lane
blocking the backside DE
BAD TACKLE STUFF
driven back
stretch fail
unnecessary hold

Your tentative starting left tackle is redshirt junior Mark Huyge. His issues in pass protection started as early as the Notre Dame game, when a Moosman injury forced Michigan to shuffle him inside. He picked up –6 points after being "driven back on multiple plays" on Forcier's game-winning drive and was so shaky against Michigan State that he was pulled for third-stringer John Ferrara; Ferrara "immediately gave up a crushing sack." This caused "So the right side of the line just can't block?" to become a UFR question and kicked off a stretch of ugly protection numbers that would span most of the rest of the season, with Illinois and Wisconsin standing out as late, hopeful exceptions.

By the Purdue game, Huyge's pass protection issues were "the usual" as he racked up a –5 on a day when the offensive line pulled a very poor 14/29 in the protection metric. He did manage to avoid any minuses on an "extremely shaky" performance against Penn State (Dorrestein got a –2). The clips at right are mixed, but since twenty-yard runs always get clipped and zero-yard runs are only taken out when they are important or seem emblematic of something, a 50-50 mix is not a great ratio.

So he wasn't very good last year. There's reason to expect a significant step forward, though. He enters the year at tackle and won't get bounced back and forth between different positions. He, along with the rest of the offensive line, got swoll in the offseason. After going into 2009 at 288, Huyge is now a strapping 306 pounds, and as a who-dat recruit on the offensive line you can expect a bigger leap forward between redshirt sophomore and junior years than, say, a tailback. And perhaps most importantly, he's held off the charging Lewan.

(CAPTION INFORMATION)
Michigan's Martavious Odoms jumps into the arms of teammate Perry Dorrestein after Odoms caught the game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.      Photos are of the University of Michigan vs. Indiana University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, September 26, 2009.  (The Detroit News / David Guralnick)dorrestein-shawdorrestein-mathews

Perry Dorrestein: GOOD AT HUGZ

Right tackle Perry Dorrestein, meanwhile, started the year off as Huyge's backup and only drew into the lineup when injury forced him to, first temporarily against ND and then permanently for the Big Ten schedule. His first extended action came against Indiana and their surprisingly talented defensive ends. He did not fare well:

PROTECTION METRIC: 22/32, Koger –1, Brown –2, Team –2, Dorrestein –5.

That is not good. That is bad, and all of it save the "team" category came when Indiana defensive ends pwned the opposition. That might be understandable when you're a pass-catching tight end or a tailback, but Dorrestein was responsible for a lot of the Forcier chaos and didn't do much to justify Mark Huyge's move inside. Huyge's struggled in pass protection himself; unless Patrick Omameh surges into the starting position he lost in spring—not likely at this point—it's going to be those guys the rest of the way and the protection will be dodgy.

He picked up a –4 in the ugly Michigan State game, coming in for the same "right side of OL? More like the right side of oh noes!" criticism Huyge did. He was strictly a tackle, never moving inside.

PERRY DORRESTEIN

RUNS
authoritatively pancakes him.
seals the playside DE
gets off the ball

Dorrestein, like Huyge, threw on a bunch of weight in the offseason, but since he's going from 306 to 321 that's less obviously positive. He wasn't the guy struggling at the back of the OL group in the fall scrimmage—that would be Quinton Washington—but 321 seems a little hefty for Rodriguez's offensive style. It's not nearly as important for tackles to have the crazy agility the interior line needs, but those backside DTs need to be chopped down by backside tackles if cutback lanes are going to open up. I thought this might signal an end to the tackle competition before it began, but this is obviously not the case.

For what it's worth, the tackles had good days against Illinois and Wisconsin, the latter against an intimidating defensive line. This was a significant factor in Forcier's excellent passing day against the Badgers; it could have been better but Forcier still had to "get used to the idea" that the pass protection could be, like, good. It was hard to tell who was at fault in the Iowa game, when Iowa stunts consistently fooled the Michigan OL.

So that's all kind of scary, but it's worth noting that last year I was full of consternation about Mark Ortmann, whose junior year saw stuff like this go down in a single game…

Ortmann(-2) totally smoked by a blindside rusher… Ortmann(-2) took a poor angle downfield, though, and the MLB beats him, prompting Threet to pitch it despite a State LB having decent contain. … Ortmann and McAvoy just run by an MSU linebacker … A three-man rush; Ortmann's guy spins inside of him and dives at Threet's feet [to sack] … Ortmann(-2) beaten pretty badly [on a sack].

…and left me asserting "I'd be surprised to see Ortmann keep his job." Ortmann not only hung on to it, he played well the whole year, hitting the preview's projected upside of Adam Stenavich. If Michigan had been good and stuff he might have made an all-conference team (second team, but still). The moral is that linemen can develop at any point and that old ones are usually good ideas.

This year will be a big test for Greg Frey, who's generally well-regarded by the fanbase and can now show his mettle by improving the returning veterans in the same way he turned Ortmann into a pretty good Big Ten player.

Backups

taylor-lewan michael-schofield

Lewan left, Schofield right

Taylor Lewan is currently a backup but it wouldn't be surprising to see him supplant someone for one of the starting tackle jobs during the season. He's one of those guys who had an avalanche of recruiting hype actually followed up by at-practice hype—far from a given for offensive linemen—and, as mentioned above, he was sufficiently impressive in spring for visions of freshman starter Jake Long to dance in Michigan fans' heads. This site's take from spring;

On the outside there's been some shuffling with Dorrestein and Huyge flopping left to right at times. This may be due to Taylor Lewan's (right) quick emergence. He's been called an "obvious future star" and  "reminiscent of Jake Long."  Reports are still conflicting on his readiness but all agree that his upside is as rapturous as the recruiting gurus promised; it seems like it's matter of time before he claims the left tackle spot. That timeframe may be September or it may be next year. The most recent move suggests the move may come sooner rather than later. Flipping Huyge to the right seems to be an effort to get Michigan's best five on the field. If I had to bet, I'd go with Lewan as the starting LT against UConn.

The timeline is going to be at least a little less aggressive than that, but he's also got Jibreel Black's vote:

“The best pass blocker I went against is probably Taylor Lewan, most definitely. Running wise, I would have to say (Steve) Schilling.

Lewan's recruiting profile constantly references Jake Long—constantly sees other people reference Jake Long, that is—and sooner or later it seems likely he'll be a star. Since he isn't actually Jake Long a more realistic timeframe may be the Omameh one where the redshirt freshman year sees some sporadic playing time and starts when needed due to veterans getting injured or not performing, leaving the breakout for next year.

Lewan's classmate Michael Schofield is the backup right tackle (though either tackle going down will see Lewan enter the lineup). A well-regarded and athletic but relatively slight four-star prospect coming out of high school, Schofield's put on 25 pounds over the last year and now stands at 293—his father posts enthusiastically on Scout about how none of his clothes fit any more. Despite that gain, Schofield is probably another year or two away from playing time. In the fall scrimmage he was one of the few linemen to draw Rodriguez's ire (pad level, naturally).

Somewhat frighteningly, there are no other scholarship backups, not even true freshmen. In the event Angry Michigan Secondary-Hating God gets bored and starts picking off tackles like it's going out of style, the last-ditch option is either moving Omameh outside or bringing in Ricky Barnum, who's practiced everywhere his first two years at Michigan.

Interior Line

091909_UMFB vs EMU_MRM

Rating: 4 of 5.

STEVE SCHILLING

FIRST LEVEL
seals Ethan Johnson
kicks out DT
seals Odrick
executes tough reach
excellent scoop block
gets a cutback lane
SECOND LEVEL
cuts the living hell out of LB
PROBLEMS
blocks no one
shoots upfield immediately
slanting DT into backfield

Steve Schilling, now a candidate for the Brooks Bollinger Memorial Eighth-Year Senior Award, returns for a fourth year as a starter. Unfortunately, none of those years have been super awesome. Persistent pass-protection issues at right tackle (perhaps understandable since Schilling's high school team almost literally never threw the ball) forced him to move inside last year, where his pass-protection issues were mitigated… but not exactly quashed. He came in for some worry after the Purdue game:

… man, the pass protection issues are not letting up and the second-most vulnerable guy other than whoever the right tackle is has been Schilling, which isn't good. You can sort of understand why a two-star sophomore who had only MAC offers is struggling at tackle. Schilling's at an easier spot and is a five-star junior. At this point he's probably not going to live up to the hype. That's not to say he's bad, but pass protection breakdowns from the LG spot are really frustrating, especially when there are many incidents where Schilling doesn't lose his guy but gets shoved so far back in the pocket that Forcier has nowhere to go when someone comes tearing around the right tackle.

Schilling did do well in Genuinely Sarcastic's run charting last year and get Black's vote for best run blocker, so he's not exactly bad. He's just not what people expected when he was the hotness picking Michigan over USC out of Bellvue, Washington.

He should take another step forward as a senior, obviously, and finish out his career a solid player. Reasonable expectations are being able to hold up against bull-rushes better and pick up more stunts, though that latter issue could be due to the problems at center once Molk went down.

 

david-molk-utahdavid-molk- nd 

DAVID MOLK

BURY
you go to ground now
sees it and jets
SECOND LVL
Gone
SEAL
on his way to six points
gets outside the tackle

David Molk didn't play in spring and had a green jersey through part of fall camp, so the question foremost in your mind is about his health. The good news is that he's basically Mike Martin when it comes to holding a guy out:

Is David Molk healthy now?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah. He scrimmaged yesterday a little bit. We didn’t have him go the whole time for precautionary reasons, but he got a few good series in and did pretty well.”

Hallelujah. Since he missed most of last year there's not a lot more to go on than this site's assessment of his redshirt freshman season, which was rapturous after the Penn State game:

He got dinged later in the year for being small, but in a system like this where he's reach-blocking all day his agility is an asset. Time and again against Penn State he successful executed these blocks, springing people into the secondary. Against Notre Dame he did the same thing.

The issues are obvious, though: too many missed blocks, and too many blocks where he's just not strong enough to deal with his man. But he's a redshirt freshman; strength should come.

As far as last year goes, he did pick up a couple of holding penalties against Western, resulting in a small cluck. The response of Rodriguez, who called him "one of the team's best players," and the offense when he went out with an injury indicates just how important he was to the team.

Healthy, back in shape, and ten pounds heavier than he was going into last year—twenty pounds heavier than he was the last time he got a lot of playing time against quality opponents—Molk should be the team's best lineman and in the conversation for All Big Ten at the end of the season, with a Rimington finalist kind of year his max upside.

patrick-omameh-pensive patrick-omameh-osu

Last but probably not least when it comes to the starters, redshirt sophomore Patrick Omameh is set to bust out. He was the Lewan of last year, the recipient of a torrent of practice hype who fans were surprised to see on the bench, even more surprised to see him still on the bench when Molk went out, and further surprised still when he danced his way into the starting lineup as a guard when he'd been hyped up as the next great Michigan tackle for going on two years. As late as February I was saying things like "Omameh has always been regarded a left tackle prospect."

This wasn't actually wrong:

But following weeks of pats on the back from his coaches, Omameh, in part of a widespread shift along the line, got the start at right guard in UM's third-to-final game of the year. Not only was it his first game action at the position, Omameh had never even worked at right guard in practice.

Why would Michigan make such a weird move? And then why would they stick with it? Well:

Yuck. Is there any hope for the OL going forward?

Well, Omameh had a very good day, and not just for a redshirt freshman. His agility is as advertised:

He was sealing DTs with Moosman all day; he seemed to have a grasp on pass protection, too. He was so obviously  good that he's now your starter at RG, no questions asked, as Huyge and Dorrestein fight it out at right tackle. That's an important step forward for him. If he's languished on the bench as Ferrara got the start the hype on him would be heading towards Grady Brooks territory; as it is he's beaten out some more experienced options and played well as a redshirt freshman. You can now put him in pen somewhere on next year's line.

PATRICK OMAMEH

NO
great, Hart-like run
YESSS
out on the MLB.
kicks the DL down the line by himself
CAN PULL
pulls Omameh around

In Michigan's offense the guys who can get 15 yards downfield and put a hat on a guy need to be guards. I can't tell you how many times I've UFRed a play where Michigan has creased the opponent's line and looks set up for a big play only for the guard releasing downfield to do an ole and for Michigan to get three yards. (Here's a Picture Pages from '08 that provides an example.) Last year when Huyge was forced inside his strike rate was iffy, as you can see in his "downfield no" section. Omameh and Schilling provide the potential for Michigan to have two guys who can get blocks downfield, sometimes way downfield, and turn those 3, 4, and 5 yard runs into 10, 15, 20, or more. That's why Omameh's inside.

There he's been getting buckets and buckets of hype, from here and anywhere else you want to look. Like most of the other guys on the line he's packed on the muscle, now checking in at 299 after last year's 276. The thing I remember most from the spring game was Omameh not only sealing but pancaking Renaldo Sagesse, a senior and decent Big Ten player, on one particular zone stretch. If this is true…

"The only way I can tell I'm heavier is by stepping on the scale," Omameh said. "I still feel like, and move like, the way I did when I came in. The strength is evident when I play."

…look out.

Backups

This will be fairly brief since no one on the interior has seen game time. At center the primary backup is Rocko Khoury, a middling three-star recruit who was passed over last year in favor of the crazy shuffling. Since he was a redshirt freshman that's not a huge black mark. The ease with which Mike Martin was crushing him in the fall practice is slightly concerning, but hopefully Martin will be doing that to all manner of opponents.

At guard, redshirt sophomores Ricky Barnum and Elliott Mealer plus redshirt freshman Quinton Washington are the primary backups, with Barnum and Washington the top two guys on the depth chart. All came in fairly highly touted and have enough experience that seeing one on the field—probably Barnum—won't be cause for too much alarm.

Senior John Ferrara has fallen to third-string and will probably be limited to special teams; solitary freshman Christian Pace is guaranteed to redshirt.

Spring Position Battles: Offense

Spring Position Battles: Offense

Submitted by Brian on February 9th, 2010 at 1:31 PM

patrick-omameh-pensive The kids are in and the winter sports are slowly strangling whatever hopes you had, so the next major event you won't stare at a bottle of pills after is spring practice. Time for primers. Positions I'll be looking at hard in a month or two:

Left Tackle

The Departed

Fifth-year senior Mark Ortmann graduates. Ortmann was no Jake Long but by the end of his career at Michigan he was a solid pass protector and okay in the run game. If Michigan can get an equal performance from a freshman or sophomore that's a win.

The Candidates

The favorite is redshirt sophomore Patrick Omameh, who drew into the lineup late last year when David Molk went down with injury and the right guard spot became persistently unsettled after David Moosman slid over to center. Omameh made a few impressive plays downfield…

…and was generally functional. Though he ended up at guard last year that was an effort to get Michigan's best five linemen on the field more than anything else. Omameh has always been regarded a left tackle prospect.

Omameh's main competition will come from two redshirt freshman. Taylor Lewan was a late-blooming prospect from Arizona who got acres of hype—the Long comparisons were rife—and has an enormous ceiling. Omameh has experience on Lewan but if those two are far and away the top two candidates for starting jobs they might leave Omameh at guard and insert Lewan. Michael Schofield is another redshirt freshman who was well-regarded as a recruit and will have a shot at the job, but he may be better suited for right tackle.

Hoping for… Lewan. Jumping into the starting lineup as a freshman would be Long-like for a guy who has drawn Long comparisons, and it would presumably allow Omameh to slide over to right tackle to help lock down the area from which most of Tate Forcier's wild-ass scrambles were born.

Expecting… Omameh. With three starts to his name and no current starters a threat to move to left tackle, Omameh is a prohibitive favorite.

Right Guard

The Departed

The aforementioned Moosman was Michigan's most consistent offensive lineman the last two years when not forced to play center due to Molk's injuries. Though he was consistent, he wasn't great; his prominence says more about the state of Michigan's line the last couple years than his future in the game. He wasn't invited to the NFL combine.

Since Moosman spent most of the year at center and his replacement was a combination of Huyge, Ferrara, and Omameh with the latter performing the best, Michigan should expect improved production here.

The Candidates

john-ferrara-osu If Lewan or Schofield blows up, Omameh is the likely starter here… unless he gets shifted out to right tackle. But that's another spot.

Assuming the tackles are not in such surplus that Michigan can toss them about the interior line willy-nilly, Michigan faces a choice between old and young. The old guy in the mix is fifth-year senior John Ferrara (right), a guy who was flipped from defensive tackle in Rodriguez's first year at Michigan and saw spot starts in 2008. He was supplanted last year by a couple of guys who displayed serious limitations, but he's more seasoned than the other options.

The other options are a pair of highly-touted southerners. Redshirt sophomore Ricky Barnum decommitted from Florida just before signing day and was actually the second-team left tackle last year. The assumption here is that Omameh was more ready to play and left tackle was not open, so the best backup lineman practiced at the most available spot—right guard after Molk went down—and the second best practiced at the toughest. That would be Barnum. He came highly touted and after two years prepping he's the most likely guy. If it's close, Michigan will probably go with the younger player.

The other prime candidates are Elliot Mealer, who saw a little time last year as a backup, and redshirt freshman Quinton Washington. The soft-spoken Washington picked Michigan over South Carolina late in last year's recruiting cycle and drew lavish praise from the coaches:

"To my understanding, he's their number one lineman they are going after in the nation. That's point blank what coach Rodriguez told me Friday night."

Washington is a rare combination of size and linebacker-erasing agility and could be a major star. His ceiling is very, very high. If he doesn't win a job this year he will be the heavy favorite to replace Steve Schilling in 2011.

Hoping for… Realistically, Barnum. He should be ahead of Washington at this point and Washington getting the nod over him would probably say more bad things about Barnum than good things about Washington. In fairy land where Michigan embarks on a four-year journey with Lewan as Jake Long 2.0 and Washington as Steve Hutchinson 2.0, Washington. No offense to Ferrara, but I'd take a starting spot for him as a very bad sign.

Expecting… Barnum.

mark-huyge-penn-state Right Tackle

The Departed

No one. Whoever's here this fall should be better, whether it's the same players with more experience or someone displacing them.

The Candidates

The reason this position is listed prominently is performance of the two semi-incumbents. Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge (right, holding the hell out of a Penn State lineman) were functional in the run game but revolving doors in pass protection. A not so random protection metric from last year:

PROTECTION METRIC: 14/29. Huyge –5, Schilling –3, Minor –2, Ortmann –1, Shaw –1, Koger –1, Moosman –1, Omameh –1.

That is by far the lowest percentage in UFR history. The culprits are the usual by now: Huyge on the edge, Schilling getting blasted back into the pocket, and several other folk having individual moments of struggle.

That happened to be a game that Huyge played right tackle; when Dorrestein got the start he was the guy leading the way with big minuses.

Michigan had little choice but to rotate those two last year. This year they have options. The aforementioned Lewan and Schofield come off redshirt years; Omameh will probably move back to tackle in spring, too. All these guys have been talked about already.

Hoping for… in the scenario where Lewan erupts, Omameh.

Expecting… early, a rotation similar to last year's. Huyge takes over late and his pass protection remains a major issue.

Tailback

The Departed

Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown were polar opposites in many ways but shared a knack for getting injured constantly. Despite having not one but two senior tailbacks, Michigan was forced to go to true freshman Vincent Smith late last year as both veterans looked on dourly from the sidelines holding various aching extremities.

Kevin Grady is also gone, though he was mostly a fullback last year.

Production should be about even; Brown and Minor were hardly at full speed last year.

The Candidates

They are diverse and sundry. With Vincent Smith out until fall with an ACL tear, five or six players will battle for carries. Mike Shaw is the one you've seen before. His freshman year was exciting, but his promise dipped as a sophomore. Shaw runs wildly. He's a zippy guy with the occasional fantastic move…

…but his vision is lacking and he's had fumble issues. This spring will be a turning point in his career. If he gets left in the wash by freshmen he's headed for kickoff return duties and not much else. Chances are he improves enough to be a part of the rotation; he has Brown-level speed.

Other folk are murkier. Mike Cox displayed impressive balance on a couple of garbage-time carries against weak opponents but has done nothing else so far and fell behind Smith almost as soon as he hit the practice field. He could find use as a short-yardage back or Soul Train extra. Cox is the only other player in the spring tailback derby to have seen a carry at Michigan.

The other three players are freshmen, be they redshirt or true. Fitzgerald Toussaint, the redshirt, is the most likely to have a breakout spring. He enrolled in fall—Smith got in early, giving us an early glimpse—and then broke his collarbone. That forced him out of a month of practice and relegated him to scout team duties, but before that he was a jump-cut maniac at Youngstown Liberty who racked up three or four 50+ yard touchdowns per game. When I profiled Toussaint prior to his enrollment, I was higher on him than Smith:

While I think Vincent Smith can be a good back in the Michigan offense, Toussaint has the bigger recruiting rep, better track numbers, and heart-stopping highlights; my bet is that he's the most successful tailback out of this class. I love the combination of moves, zone suitability, and flat-out speed cited by ESPN and demonstrated at track meets and football games.

And while Smith has outpaced even this site's positive take on him in year one, the main thing I'll be looking for this spring is Toussaint translating his sprinter's speed and audacious cuts to Michigan Stadium.

True freshmen Austin White and Stephen Hopkins have enrolled early and will get their shots as well. White is a slot/tailback who might be reminiscent of a Dorrell Jalloh or Darius Reynaud; he comes with less hype than Toussaint and I assume he will redshirt. Hopkins is the lowest-rated back of anyone on the roster but at 6-foot and 230-240 pounds there is a distinctly vacant role on the roster he might be the man to fill. Michigan needs a short-yardage moose.

Hoping for… Smith's healthy return and Toussaint living up to his crazy film.

Expecting… pretty much that, with Shaw factoring in as needed.

Others

My assumption remains that Devin Gardner is headed for a redshirt. Still, getting a look at the future of Michigan's quarterback position will be a priority for many. Roy Roundtree and Martavious Odoms have a stranglehold on slot receiver, but an extended look at Jeremy Gallon with an eye towards "please God, send us a punt returner" will be welcome. On the outside, Junior Hemingway is a lock and it will take some doing to displace Darryl Stonum. With Ricardo Miller, Jeremy Jackson, and Jerald Robinson all in early there's a chance someone displays an ability to adjust to deep balls.

Finally, I wonder if any of the tight ends can catch now.

Preview 2009: Offensive Line

Preview 2009: Offensive Line

Submitted by Brian on September 3rd, 2009 at 8:43 AM

Part five of the all-singing all-dancing season preview. Previously: The Story, 2009, quarterbacks, tailbacks, and receivers.

Note: video from last year is lightboxed; previous years will take you off the page.

reach-blocking

Rating: 3.5 of 5.

Depth Chart
LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Mark Ortmann Sr.* Steve Schilling Jr.* David Molk So.* David Moosman Sr.* Mark Huyge So.*
Perry Dorrestein Jr.* Ricky Barnum Fr.* Rocko Khoury Fr.* John Ferrara Jr.* Patrick Omameh Fr.*
Taylor Lewan Fr. Tim McAvoy Sr.* -- -- Quinton Washington Fr. Michael Schofield Fr.

Last year I grimaced at a two-deep that contained four freshmen, one of whom was slated to start, and one player (Steve Schilling) with an iota of starting experience and gave the sorry bunch the most well-deserved 1 rating since… well, 3000 words earlier when I slapped the dread number on the quarterbacks.

For six games this was painfully accurate. The Utah game was grim all around but perhaps grimmest on the offensive line:

Offensive line: their overall suck was obviously part of the gameplan in a huge way; I expect that will seriously impinge on Michigan’s attempts to forge an offense all year. Like 2005 except worse.

This persisted and persisted and we can skip the gory details but then something funny happened at about the same time Brandon Minor ascended to the starting tailback job: they got sort of competent. Let's hit this up one last time: over the last six games of the season Michigan outrushed a hypothetical average team by 25%. They didn't do this by piling on inordinate numbers of carries. If Michigan had extended that performance over the course of a full season they would have been 30th in rushing nationally.

This year, every single player who saw a snap last year is back. Intermittent starter Tim McAvoy has been booted to third-string, and Steve Schilling is no longer making a go of it at tackle, where he cannot pass block. Perhaps best of all, there are actual backups.

The line already took its quantum leap forward midway through last year and will be limited in certain spots, but further progress should see them end up… good? Yeah, maybe.

mark-ortmann-yo Tackle

Rating: 3 of 5.

Fifth-year senior Mark Ortmann returns at left tackle. Jake Long he is not. Ortmann picked up his share of negatives in pass protection last year, most notably against Penn State when he was –5 on a day when Michigan only got to 21 total pass-pro points. The minuses came on two players where Ortmann was "beaten badly by [Maurice] Evans"; the latter resulted in a game-killing sack/fumble. The next week against Michigan State he picked up a –6:

Ortmann(-2) totally smoked by a blindside rusher… Ortmann(-2) took a poor angle downfield, though, and the MLB beats him, prompting Threet to pitch it despite a State LB having decent contain. … Ortmann and McAvoy just run by an MSU linebacker … A three-man rush; Ortmann's guy spins inside of him and dives at Threet's feet [to sack] … Ortmann(-2) beaten pretty badly [on a sack].

It wasn't all bad—there were a couple of good plays sprinkled in there—but the end result was "I'd be surprised to see Ortmann keep his job once Dorrestein is healthy." I was surprised, it turned out. Ortmann was an unquestioned starter through spring but it would be a Joppru-level breakthrough for him to become even an honorable-mention all conference sort.

Being functional and unremarkable is a good target for Ortmann this year; his upside is more Adam Stenavich than Long.

Right tackle, on the other hand, is a battle that promises to go until kickoff of the Western game and probably beyond. Redshirt freshman Patrick Omameh was everyone's heavy leader until a week before the spring game, when redshirt sophomore Mark Huyge was surprisingly inserted into the starting lineup. Until that point Huyge, a guy who was considering MAC offers before Michigan came along, had been an afterthought. Huyge got good reviews, albeit against undaunting competition, and is your tentative opening-day starter.

It's worth pointing out that Huyge, like stating center David Molk, was recruited by Michigan after they implemented Mike Debord's zone-heavy ground game and is thus more likely to fit in with the spread 'n' shred than guys in the classes above them. It's too bad that line class consisted of two-count-'em-two players.

Neither tackle is likely to be a standout—all Big Ten is not happening—but there are options and backups and they're entering year two of the Barwis program and year two of the same offensive scheme and we should see a considerable step forward from this position in the run game. Last year, Michigan's outsize zones never got outside because the tackles were getting pushed back, which led to a lot of plays where Moundros shot outside aimlessly as the player he was supposed to be blocking for was forced to cut it up. A large number of Slaton's big plays came from getting outside the tackle, and Michigan should see at least a few instances where they successfully spring Shaw or Brown outside this year.

Pass blocking might be more problematic. Ortmann struggled some last year and the right tackle will be a new starter. There will be some ugly sacks against top-flight defensive ends.

Interior Line

steve-schilling-yo

Steve Schilling
2007
Clocking Illini
2008
Clearing for McGuffie
Sustained POA block
Frowns: Toledo holding
Downfield blocking

Rating: 4 of 5.

Steve Schilling's long-overdue move to guard promises to end the parade of ineffective LGs Michigan deployed last year. Last year they tried Tim McAvoy, John Ferrara, and even obvious tackle Mark Ortmann there before going with Schilling after the Illinois game. Schilling was needed at tackle soon after and moved back out. Ortmann's one-game experiment ended with a –6 in pass protection, an de- and impressively large number for an interior linemen. Ferrara was a defensive tackle weeks before the season. And McAvoy was the reason Ortmann and Ferrara were tried out. Anything that looks like a steady starter will be a massive upgrade.

Meanwhile, Schilling probably should have been a guard from day one. His two years starting at tackle featured plenty of pass protection struggles—he racked up a record –12 against Vernon Gholston as a freshman. By the Purdue game last year I'd just about given up on the idea of Schilling as a tackle:

I am leery of both tackles these days, BTW, and wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of reconfiguration that sees Schilling slide inside to guard next year.

Lo, it has come to pass. As a tackle, Schilling hasn't had the opportunity to display the athleticism that got him five stars at the fervent attention of USC when he was a recruit, but it still exists and after two years in Michigan's new-look strength and conditioning program he should be about as strong and agile as he'll get.

What Michigan needs from Schilling is pancaked linebackers, and while he hasn't proven he can do that quite yet, he is a guy entering his third year starting that has all the guru approval in the world (for what little that means for linemen). Signs point to above-average, with "meh" and All Big Ten the ends of the reasonable spectrum of expectations.

David Moosman
2008
Sealing vs ND
Doubling ND wsg Molk
Good downfield stuff

David Moosman returns at right guard. Like everyone at guard last year, he had some issues finding and taking out linebackers downfield—there's a Picture Pages with an example—but he wasn't obviously bad. This made him the line's best player early until the guy I am most unreasonably eeee about on the team came into his own. (That would be David Molk, about whom more next.)

The slightly problem is that Moosman didn't seem to improve much as the season wore on. He was just an okay player the whole year; in context that was a lot more impressive early than late. Another year like last, where he's functional but unremarkable, is on the docket.

Moosman is a really smart guy, for what it's worth, and not "for a football player."

molk-picture-pages

This blog fell a little in love with center David Molk as the season progressed and Molk started anchoring better against defensive tackles 50 pounds heavier than he was. The affair started in the second game of the year when Molk successful impeded the progress of some MAC defensive tackles…

I thought David Molk was great a week after being hurled back into the ballcarrier more than once. Against Miami he consistently got across the face of the defensive tackle lined up to the playside, allowing the guard a free release into the second level where he would either whack a linebacker and someone would run for 20 yards or whiff that linebacker and Michigan would get zero.

…a week after getting Sam-owned against Utah:

The lingering fear is that this is more a function of the opponent than any great leap forward. In retrospect, against Utah Molk was getting the same excellent position on his man but after he got that position the DT picked him up and dropped him in the RB’s lap.

David Molk
2008
Tough reach vs ND
Frowns: MLB whiff
Rare win v Newkirk
Sealing playside DTs
More of that
Textbook reach block

The next week against ND, Molk, Moosman, and McAvoy were named "heroes" for consistently blowing up the interior of the ND defense; the UFR section titled simply "McGuffie!" immediately shot credit to the guys on the inside:

Michigan had great success with the zone stretch and occasional dive because Molk and either McAvoy or Moosman spent the day crushing the playside DT downfield.

It wasn't to last, though. Wisconsin's veteran defensive tackles "murdered" the interior line against both pass and run. By that point there was a pattern: the Michigan interior line was good, even great, against substandard opponents but could not cope with big, veteran DTs. This held true until the Penn State game, when Michigan and Molk went up against one of the best defenses in the conference and at the end of it Molk ended up in the "heroes" list. He even got his own Picture Pages:

He got dinged later in the year for being small, but in a system like this where he's reach-blocking all day his agility is an asset. Time and again against Penn State he successful executed these blocks, springing people into the secondary. Against Notre Dame he did the same thing.

The issues are obvious, though: too many missed blocks, and too many blocks where he's just not strong enough to deal with his man. But he's a redshirt freshman; strength should come.

I like him. I like David Molk. I think he can be very good at football. Is this clear? Probably not. What Michigan needs from Molk this year is twenty more pounds, more familiarity with the offense, and that's it. 

BONUS: I don't remember any bad snaps last year except maybe one or two in the Northwestern game, when it was eminently forgivable.

Backups And Whatnot

Oh praise Jesus: there are some. Last year when Ortmann got dinged up early in the year, Michigan actually unearthed walk-on Bryant Nowicki to play left tackle until they could tell Perry Dorrestein to play on the other side of the line the following week.

Dorrestein and the loser of the pitched Omameh-Huyge battle will be the primary backups at tackle. If Huyge's grip on the job remains solid, the bet here is that Omameh flips to left tackle by midseason in preparation for 2010 and Dorrestein returns to the right, where the coaches apparently prefer him.

On the interior, redshirt freshmen Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury have been praised regularly in practice reports and are the top options at guard and center, respectively, in the event of an injury to one of the starters. Barnum's position is less solid than Khoury, as he's been afflicted with frequent minor injuries thus far in his Michigan career and missed most of the spring with a wrist issue. Also Khoury's the only guy around who's been snapping consistently.

Your other non-freshman options are John Ferrara, the converted defensive tackle who the coaches are keeping on the offensive side of the ball despite some serious depth issues at DT, tragedy-stricken Elliot Mealer, and journeyman Tim McAvoy. Of the group, Ferrara is the most likely to make an appearance. The coaches tried everything in their power to remove McAvoy from the starting lineup last year and moved Schilling inside to finally solve that particular issue. Mealer spent all of last year rehabbing a shoulder injury and is probably a year away from seriously competing for a job.

There are indeed freshmen, but if Rodriguez managed to redshirt all six guys from last year's class despite the patchwork nature of last year's line it will take truly epic misfortune for any of the incoming kids to see the field this year.

One man's guess as to the second unit: Omameh, Ferrara, Khoury, Barnum, Dorrestein.