Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian October 24th, 2013 at 3:45 PM

HELLO NOTES:

blue-guy

HELLO! HI! I AM BLUE! I AM A TUBE! I HOPE AT LEAST TEN OTHER STUDENTS MAKE BLUE TUBES! HELLO! ISN'T LIFE EXICTING!

THING NOTES: Torrent had no audio this week, so neither do the clips. Good news for people who get creeped out by the walrus lovemaking noises in the slow ones.

FORMATION NOTES: A note on nomenclature here: Indiana had a kind of weird system where they had a linebacker/safety type (6'1", 225) out over the slot.

o-iu-2-deep

That in itself isn't too weird against spread formations, but he still hung out over the slot when there was one in I-form twins packages and the like, and Indiana brought down a safety.

0-line-confugration

I designated IU formations  with that guy in the gray area (and no safety down) "nickel" since the defensive formation thing is more about what the O is looking at than personnel packages the opponent has in and I felt their slot LB was a Hybrid Space Player, but I understand if you think IU was just in a 4-3 all game.

As for Michigan, they did not do much exotic in terms of formations. A lot of shotgun 3-wide stuff, some ace, some I-Form, etc. A couple things: I've changed Funchess to a WR in my personnel set tracking, so if you see "shotgun 3-wide" with four WRs that's because Funchess is the TE-type-substance. Also, when there are only four skill position players that's because Michigan has brought in an extra offensive lineman. Tackle over was still employed but rather rare.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Hoo boy. First: QB and RB were pretty obvious, with Green getting more run than he has in some other games in the past. FB was about split between Kerridge and Houma.

WR was a ton of Gallon and Funchess. Dileo went out early with an injury, leaving Jeremy Jackson to pick up most of the slot snaps. Chesson got in a bit but has clearly ceded a lot of PT to Funchess; Reynolds got a few snaps.

TE was mostly Butt and Williams; Williams ceded snaps to a sixth OL and also Jordan Paskorz, who got in some good blocks in the middle of the game. Funchess also lined up at TE from time to time.

And the OL. Burzynski started, tore his ACL, was replaced by Bosch. Glasgow was the C. Lewan was the LT, Magnuson the RG, Schofield the RT, except when guys were flipping all over the place. This game's version of tackle over was almost always a 6 OL with Kalis reclaiming his RG spot and Lewan flanking someone else: Schofield on the left and Magnuson on the right. Much less likely to get your QB murdered.

I noted OL changes in the notes below. Anyone not mentioned is playing their usual position. Apologies for cutesy name shortenings, but you try writing "Burzynski" and "Magnuson" for 80 plays. (Schofield defies shortening.)

[After the JUMP: nuclear samba Gallon.]

Comments

Picture Pages: He Just Used Power, Part 2

Picture Pages: He Just Used Power, Part 2 Comment Count

Brian October 9th, 2013 at 2:34 PM

Last time, Michigan grinds out six yards on their first snap by using POWER.

Michigan's second snap against Minnesota was more of the same, but a little lighter. Chesson replaced Butt, and Minnesota responded by covering him. They also shifted their line towards Lewan instead of away. The end result was much the same except Michigan didn't have an opportunity to block the last guy because Minnesota didn't have a linebacker bail.

p2-1 - Copy

Yes, Michigan can go nuts in the passing game against this kind of alignment, and would later; this drive—this game—is about establishing something even if it's not the most efficient way to go about doing things. After Akron and UConn you can understand this line of thinking.

With the line shifted to Lewan, he's going to kick the guy outside of him, leaving Schofield and Kalis to double the playside DT; Bryant and Kerridge will again lead through the hole.

power2-1

On the snap, Bryant pulls out and heads around as the double is initiated; Bryant is out so quick that he's almost running into Devin Gardner:

pw-2 - Copy

This is a notable improvement from last year. Between the above frame in the next, Schofield blasts the playside DT such that he starts falling inside of Kalis. He'll end up moving to the second level, and picking up the WLB since that guy is not shooting a gap. Unfortunately, someone is shooting a gap: Hageman.

pw-3 - Copy

Hageman just about beats Glasgow clean. There is a little bit of delay here that prevents him from swallowing the play in the backfield; this is still pretty bad. But the gap is even more enormous this time at the handoff point. It stretches almost from the hashes to the numbers as Michigan pounds the two playside DL away from each other:

pw-4

This time Minnesota has sufficient bodies in the hole to deal with it as all three linebackers demand a body. Hageman is threatening enough from behind to force Toussaint to alter his path a bit, but with Kerridge latched onto one linebacker, Bryant about to pop a second, and a cavern to operate in he doesn't slow down the fatal step.

pw-5 - Copy

That safety is unaccounted for, though, and waiting two yards downfield.

pw-6

Toussaint pounds out some YAC.

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Video

Slow:

Items Of Interest

Sometimes you can do everything right and get five yards. At the end of the day there's always one more defender than you have blockers. Here every block save Glasgow's gets executed and contact is still made two yards downfield.

This is both a reason not to get too worried about YPC in this game and wonder about the long-term viability of the tackle over buddy cop movie. When you can execute every block just right and get five yards the opponents is overplaying you like whoah and you are either so confident you are able to get these five yards on every play or locked in a 12-10 death struggle kind of game. Here it turns out to be the former, as Michigan scores touchdowns on 5 of 8 drives, albeit with a lot of help from third and long conversions to Funchess after their grind game clunked out.

However: as mentioned in the last post, tackle over was literally 90% run in this one and when they ran it was 83% run to the tackle side. Is this configuration powerful enough to grind these yards out against actual defenses? Can Michigan get enough play action off of this to keep defenses honest and get the big chunk plays they'll have to if a ton of their offense is grinding out four yards against a stacked front? Is this anything more than a get-healthy gimmick effective against a terrible defense?

I don't know.

This is what Bryant expected to see on the last play. He pulls around and whacks the MLB, like he did on the last play; this time the MLB is not already being blocked because a differently-aligned Minnesota defense scrapes the MLB past Schofield releasing downfield. This is one of those things that may come with experience: the ability to improvise profitably.

Meanwhile, Bryant gets there, hits a guy, woot. This is night and day from last year's guards.

Glasgow did get smoked. Hageman's pretty good, though, and he was very quiet in this one. Hageman's play didn't end up making a tackle but I think it did impact the outcome of this play because…

Toussaint puts his head down and takes what he can get. With all this room Toussaint can threaten both sides of Kerridge's block, and we've seen him dip inside to pop out before. This would be an excellent time to do that if he was not being chased by an angry 300 pound man. As it is he just runs directly upfield into the safety and runs him over for near first down yardage. That's the when-in-doubt solution, and it's the one Toussaint took consistently in this game.

Speaking of which. The bye week seems like it was spent telling Toussaint that if he does not go hard north and south he will be dipped in uncomfortably warm pudding for hours at a time. This is the kind of run where bounce-it hesitation gets you clubbed and there is a guy waiting that he can see; previously he might have tried the thing I mentioned above and gotten tackled at the line. Instead we're talking about the yards he gained after contact instead of trying to calculate how many he lost by trying to avoid it. Thumbs up.

This is now Lewan's day. This is play two. The rest of the game is basically this for Lewan, whether it's pass or run: hello, overmatched donkey about 60 pounds lighter than me. It is time to go out to the numbers. I gave him a ton of half-points that maybe should have been full ones.

Comments

Picture Pages: Predictability

Picture Pages: Predictability Comment Count

Brian October 23rd, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Denard-Robinson[1]jorge-luis-borges-has-a-posse[1]

oh good this again

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Example

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

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

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

veer-defeat-1

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

veer-defeat-2

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

Anyway. Four MSU players are relevant here.

veer-defeat-3

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

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

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

veer-defeat-4

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

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

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

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

veer-defeat-6

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

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Video

On separate run-throughs check out:

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

Things And Stuff

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

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

Reynolds-run-1

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

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

Reynolds-run-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pa-no-sale

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

Comments

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Air Force

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Air Force Comment Count

Brian September 12th, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Formation notes: The Air Force defense is the opposite of their offense when it comes to formations. They run their 3-4 on virtually every play. They started off in some unusual (for them, anyway) formations, got burned for 79 yards on the second, and then decided to do this every play:

double-stacks

That may look like a four-man line but the line is directly over the C and tackles; the standup end is a linebacker, with AF's other linebacker flared out over the opposite hash.

For Michigan this is "double stacks," BTW.

twin-tes-passing

I did not call this out specifically—it's just shotgun twins twin TE but note the inversion of the line TE—Kwiatkowski—and Funchess, who is in an H-back spot inside of him. Michigan used this mostly to get Funchess on wheel routes.

Substitution notes: A mishmash at WR with Gardner, Gallon, and Roundtree all seeing about the same number of snaps. Jackson and Jerald Robinson were next in line. Funchess, Kwiatkowski, and Williams split a good number of TE snaps.

Toussaint was the only tailback all game save for a few Smith snaps; the line was all starters.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun triple stack 1 0 4 Nickel under Run QB counter Robinson 1
Looks like read option in the backfield; Lewan pulls around into the hole. Omameh(-2) lets a DT go straight upfield into the Lewan pull; Lewan delays to prevent a TFL and Denard has to deal with that unblocked LB in the hole. RUN-: Omameh(2)
M21 2 9 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Okie Run QB lead draw Robinson 79
AF goes with a six man front and one MLB behind it with a cover two shell in the secondary. They send five, backing two out, those two are tasked with covering the receivers. They're looking at a bubble screen fake, and bug out. They're gone. Michigan blocks the four frontside guys, with Mealer(+1) and Barnum(+1) getting a scoop on the DT that gets Mealer(+1) to the second level, where he pancakes a safety. Gardner walls off a corner, and then Robinson(+3) is one on one with the last guy. You know how that ends. Ermagerd. RPS +3. This was easy, really.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Mealer(2), Barnum RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0. 8 min 1st Q. By the time M gets the ball back plays are 24-2 AF.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Run QB iso Robinson -1
This is either a run blitz or a really great read; one AF MLB shoots forward at the snap, getting past Mealer(-1) before he can come off a combo block. Maybe Molk makes this play, but it's not awful to not be able to do it. The DT Mealer and Omameh(-1) are trying to combo is shooting way left at the snap, so this is a blitz, I bet. Omameh totally loses the guy. Hopkins(-2) runs right by the blitzer, and this gets Denard buried in the backfield. RPS -1. RUN-: Omameh, Mealer, Hopkins(2)
M26 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass PA TE seam Funchess 21
Why, hello. LBs suck up on run fake, Funchess wide open, nailed, caught, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +2)
M47 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint 1
AF tips a blitz like whoah and Michigan does not check. They send a corner and LB, slanting the line away from that blitz. Barnum(-2) gets confused and lets a DT through untouched. This is not good. Toussaint dances through it for a yard or two. Omameh(-1) also did not pick up the blitz and let that LB through clean. Bubble? Open. RPS –1, gotta have a check. RUN-: Barnum(2), Omameh(1)
M48 2 9 Shotgun double stack 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass PA drag Gallon 8
Gallon comes in motion as the ball is snapped; M fakes the zone and flips it out to him in space. Same play that he got open on against Alabama but Denard overthrew it. This one is on the money. Gallon gets the edge on the slowish AF defense and nears the first down. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O44 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 7
AF running another blitz up the middle with stunting action. Michigan's pulling outside of a TE and Omameh(+1) plugs a blitzer, ending that backside threat. On the playside, Kwiatkowski(+1) seals the playside end, Toussaint(+0.5) kicks the OLB (easy), and Barnum(+0.5) pulls through to get an OK second-level block. Robinson is about to test those safeties again when a linebacker who was originally blitzing to the backside recovers for the ankle tackle. Nice recovery by that guy. RPS +1; blitz put AF in a bad spot.
RUN+: Omameh, Barnum(0.5), Hopkins(0.5), Kwiatkowski RUN-:
O37 1 10 Shotgun triple stack TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB counter Robinson 7
Run to the other side with Schofield pulling. AF blitzes right in the intended gap; Schofield(+1) slows up to wall the guy off… guy goes after Toussaint. If Schofield keeps going and bips a safety... oh well. Denard now has a big hole thanks to a big kickout from Lewan(+1) and Barnum walling off a LB who bit on Toussaint. S fills well, Denard tries to go around him and is chopped down by pursuit.
O30 2 3 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Iso Toussaint 5
Mansome block from Hopkins(+2) who takes a blitzing LB, stands him up, and thrusts him out of the hole. Mealer(+1) adjusted well to a moving LB and escorted him out of the way; Omameh(+1) put a potentially problematic DT on the ground. Safety fill is rapid since he was moving forward on the snap as AF went to an eight man front.
RUN+: Hopkins(2), Mealer, Omameh RUN-:
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint -1
This is just an old Rodriguez inside zone and that it doesn't work is kind of on three people. One: Denard. End isn't crashing but a keep is attractive here. Two: Mealer(-1), who can't get much of a block on a playside LB. Three: Toussaint(-2), who refuses to cut it up and ruins excellent blocks from Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) on the backside. Maybe the end shuts this down, but probably not for zero yards. Also... we could use some belly here. FWIW, yeah, Omameh and Schofield are in the backfield but this is essentially fine on zone blocking. That's where they went. Toussaint needs to cut.
RUN+: Lewan, Barnum RUN-: Mealer, Toussaint(2)
O26 2 11 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB iso Robinson -8
AF tips a safety blitz, no checks on either side. Michigan runs directly into it. Lewan is expecting to kick a DE who screams inside of him; nothing he can do. Denard runs around and goes down. RPS -3. This was dead. Moar checks. This was so tipped.
O34 3 19 Shotgun double stack 1 0 4 Dime Pass Rollout out Gallon Inc
I think. This is a rollout flood route on which AF blitzes and still has everybody blanketed. Denard eventually throws it at a double-covered Gallon, getting it batted near the LOS. Given the situation I don't really mind the attempt—it's a crappy punt in a world of crappy punts if it gets picked off. He had Roundtree if he wanted to throw across his body... does he? I don't know. He's there for a reason, I guess. I'm just going to punt and BA this. (BA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 13 min 2nd Q. Gallon costs M 25 yards by not catching a punt before the next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M12 1 10 Shotgun triple stack TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB iso Robinson 6
AF blitzes right up the intended gap; Toussaint(+1) takes that guy out of the play. Mealer(+0.5) does an okay job with the NT; Barnum(+0.5) gets a linebacker he released directly into. Robinson(+0.5) gets a half for moving past the blocks in an optimal way.
M18 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone stretch Toussaint 0
AF stunts, sending the playside DT right into Mealer. He goes low, submarining him and taking out Barnum. Not sure what Mealer can do about that. Omameh and Schofield now have to block guys inside of them that are at angles they are not expecting; they don't do this well. Even if they do, the peel-off leaves an unblocked guy waiting to fill. Williams(-1) did get owned on the edge and that didn't help. Rest of it seems RPS -2. Bubble open, BTW.
M18 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Jackson 8
Stacked to the boundary. Bubble yawningly open. Michigan does it the slightly harder way by sending Jackson on an option route at about six yards. He breaks open, but not by much, and Denard shoots it in there like he's a WCO QB. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Wheel Funchess 24
Play action fake to Smith sucks up the OLB, who dodges Funchess like he's blocking. He and Gallon break deep against one safety, who takes the inside. Funchess is open, Denard sees it and hits him. Big paws man. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Run Broken play Robinson 2
Denard(-1) bobbles the snap. I was going to call this an iso since the play worked out like that but after watching it a couple times, Smith is definitely expecting a mesh point and just improvises after he figures out it's not coming. This is a half-step from breaking big, in fact, but a blitz from the OLB gets Denard around the legs just as he's about to burst. Barnum(+1) and Omameh(+1) paved the way.
RUN+: Omameh, Barnum RUN-: Robinson
O43 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint 1
This one is on the right side of the line as AF slants to get it to the backside. Schofield(-2) is supposed to latch on to that slant and push him past where he's trying to go; instead he just whiffs and dude makes contact in the backfield. This is really all Schofield; Barnum is looking for someone to block in his zone and this is not a tough thing to do. All Schofield has to do is push the guy and Toussaint has a nice lane on the cutback he did find. RUN-: Schofield(2)
O42 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Hitch Gardner 12
AF brings the heat. Both Mealer (-1) and Omameh(-1) get blown by, with Omameh's being more relevant. Denard has a guy in his face, and where previously he may have backfooted something turrible this time he shoots one out to Gardner in rhythm. It's a little upfield, but that's fine. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Mealer -1, Omameh -1)
O30 1 10 Ace Big 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Pass PA TE corner Funchess 30
PA gets Funchess one on one with a safety and Denard all day. Funchess loses the S because he's thinking waggle, and Denard fires it. It's a little short, but the S is still running as Funchess finds the ball, so it's not really very off. Much better this than missing. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +3). FUNCHESSSSSSS
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-3, 7 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run QB iso Robinson 7
Looks like Toussaint(-1) blows an assignment and heads into the wrong gap. He ends up running into Omameh near the LOS; unblocked MLB. Robinson(+1) bounces it and gets the edge thanks to Schofield(+1) driving his guy a couple yards off the LOS. Interior blocking looked good, FWIW
RUN+: Robinson, Schofield RUN-: Toussaint
M45 2 3 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Toussaint 0
AF walks down a safety and blitzes him right into this. They tipped this too, but no checks never checks. RPS -2.
M45 3 3 Shotgun double stack 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Dumpoff Smith Int
Pass is a little high and hard for the 5'6" Smith, bouncing off his hands and getting intercepted. Denard had all the room in the world to run, but this was also wide open for a first down. (MA, 2, protection 1/1) On replay I don't even know if this is MA. Very catchable.
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-3, 5 min 2nd Q. Next drive starts with 1:16 in the half and two TOs.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 10
AF shows blitz and backs out of it. Funchess's guy is backing out at the snap. Funchess ends up chasing him a bit, then decides to release downfield. Denard(+1) pulls since there's no one containing him and shoots up in the gap for a first down. Funchess probably should have clocked a linebacker instead of going for the safety, but oh well. RPS +1.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Rollout hitch Roundtree 5
A crappy throw takes Roundtree off his feet, robbing him of YAC and keeping the clock running. Accurate and this is 8-10 and a stopped clock. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)
M34 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass In Gardner 5
Eight men in coverage; Denard can't find anything except a short one to Gardner at the sticks. Accurate, at least. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Deep hitch Gardner 19
Three man rush again; Denard surveys and finds Gardner open between levels in the zone, zips it for a first down. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1). They burn nine seconds before the next snap.
O42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Post Dileo Inc
AF sends seven; picked up. Denard stares down Dileo and does not see Gardner coming open beneath him. He forces it into three guys. No es bueno. (BR, 0, protection 3/3)
O42 2 10 N/A       N/A Penalty Illegal substitution -- -5
Bleah.
O47 2 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Post Jackson Inc
I'm not charting this given the situation. May as well force it. Do think Gallon was a better option, but whatever. (NC, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: EOH, 14-10.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 58
AF sends a blitzer off the corner. Toussaint(+1) deals with him. Omameh has to get around that issue and does. Robinson slows up for him. Now both are on the edge with a linebacker. Omameh(+1) blows him up. Robinson cuts inside that. Lewan(+2) has donkeyed a slanting DL all the way to Schofield(!), so there's a gap. Mealer(+1) sealed away another DT. Williams and Barnum are doubling a linebacker. Denard(+2) has a big cutback lane. Dileo(+1) cracks down on the other OLB and gets a bonus block on a DB who wasn't making the play anyway. Gardner's stalk-blocking the corner to that side; Denard(+1) jukes that guy inside out and seeya. No shoes necessary.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-10, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run QB sweep Robinson 1
M pulls Omameh and Schofield around two tight ends to the boundary. AF is stunting things; Williams(+1) does a good job to shove the playside DE past everything. Another DL has stunted himself out of the play, and Lewan(+1) gets the third despite the stunting. Michigan crushes the second level, and the only thing that can prevent Robinson from getting five or six yards is Robinson(-2) not cutting upfield and instead jogging out of bounds.
RUN+: Lewan, Williams RUN-: Robinson(2)
M36 2 9 Shotgun triple stack TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson 10
AF tips that blitz again, and this time it seems like we do get a check. Robinson fakes a WR screen to Gallon and takes off. Just like his opening run, the two linebackers haul for WRs on the outside, so if Denard can get past the line he will get yards. Pump fake gets one for free; Lewan(+1) stuffs the other blitzer and there's an avenue outside. No gap in the middle, unfortunately, or this could have been a massive gain. As it is it's an easy first down. Denard(+1) for speed and things. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson, Lewan RUN-:
M46 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 5
Barnum(+1) pulls and gets there. He takes on a run-blitzing LB at the LOS and wins. Toussaint(+1) kicks the OLB. No chance on the safety because Barnum got used at the LOS but he's got to be cautious and it's a decent gain.
RUN+: Toussaint, Barnum, Williams RUN-:
O49 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Slant J. Robinson 10
That's not Milliner. The Other Robinson gets inside position and uses his body to wall off the DB; Denard nails him. Body-caught, but results-based charting. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O39 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Wheel Funchess 26
TEs both in two point stances. Michigan runs a Toussaint fake and then goes pass, with Funchess running a wheel down the sideline. Man coverage, AF linebacker tries a chuck or something, and that's over. Denard floats a perfect touch pass over the LB. Funchess bobbles it but does bring it in. Great throw maximized YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 6
This time the other way. Kwiatkowski(+1) seals the DE; Lewan(+1) shoves a slanting DT and then gets a second level block. LB spins off it but is significantly delayed. Robinson(-0.5) gets spooked by that fellow and runs a little outside where he should, giving up some yards when a guy Dileo cut decently can make a tackle from his knees.
O7 2 4 Ace Big 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Pass Waggle out Gardner 7
Play action fools the entire AF secondary; easy pitch and catch for Denard and Gardner. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-17, 6 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M1 1 10 I-form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Toussaint 1
Ugh, just throw the damn ball to Gallon and see if this AF corner's eight-yard cushion is something he can make up. That's a guaranteed five yards. Instead, M runs a power. Williams(-1) loses a DE to the inside. Omameh(-1) does not get there, and that's all she wrote. RPS -1.
M2 2 9 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass Hitch Gardner Inc
Extremely token run fake and max pro. Robinson fires a hitch, accurate but maybe a tiny bit late. Gardner gets his hands on it but ends up dropping it as the CB rakes it out. Could be route here, as separation was not gained. (CA, 1, protection 1/1)
M2 3 9 Shotgun double stack 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Jackson Inc
Zone blitz gets two ILBs in Robinson's face, so he flings a dart to Jeremy Jackson that he bobbles and then the OLB backing out knocks down. Dileo had separation and could have turned up for the first; Jackson is just slow. In any case, this was probably a yard or two short of the first down unless Jackson did some mansome OLB dragging after the catch. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, team)
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-17, EO3Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 6
Omameh's back to pulling really badly, as he ends up two yards in the backfield at one point and Robinson has to slow up for him. He does plug the linebacker that shows, I guess. Tentative +1. Lewan(+1) and Williams(+1) club the playside DE with Williams coming out on a LB. Barnum(+0.5) gets the easy NT block; Toussaint(+0.5) kicks the DE, and Denard only has a safety to deal with.
M40 2 4 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass PA seam Dileo Inc
Robinson gets instant pressure from the edge as a blitz comes and has to dump it immediately. Dileo is covered by one of those linebackers coming out from the center of the field and Denard chucks it high of everyone anyway. I'm filing this PR. I don't mind this from Denard. (PR, 0, protection 0/1, team, RPS -1).
M40 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Jackson 9
Three-step rhythm throw (except this is a shotgun). This is west-coasty. It's Purdue-y. It's a short out to Jackson for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1). Jackson gets some bullish YAC, too.
M49 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA post Roundtree Inc
Toussaint gets a great cut block on a blitzing OLB that gives Denard time. He pumps, indecisive, and then he's got to go. He runs up in the pocket and as he's getting tackled by that OLB unloads 50 yards downfield to Roundtree, who is open by a step; pass is way long. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M49 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson 7
AF sends a double A gap blitz, backing off an OLB. Barnum(+1) catches one LB and escorts him out of the hole. Toussaint(+1) kicks the other one. Crease. Williams(+1) gets a good downfield block on that OLB who backed out. Robinson is one on one with a safety and ends up trying to cut behind Williams; Safety chops him down by the ankles.
O44 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 11
DE slanting inside on the playside makes Omameh move around him, which slows him. Denard slows, too. By the time he's finished doing that, Williams(+1) has shoved that DE all the way past the back of the line, Schofield(+1) has blown the playside DE past Barnum's guy, and a big cutback lane opens that Robinson(+2) takes. Dileo(+1) cuts off a linebacker and bang secondary.
O33 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Waggle corner Gardner 20
Toussaint again gets a nice cut block on the OLB coming hard on the edge. Denard is now in plenty of space and can leisurely pick out Gardner breaking open 20 yards downfield. Hit in the numbers, easy catch, big gain. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O13 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Iso Toussaint -1
S nominally covering the slot comes on a Kovacs blitz and nails Toussaint for no gain. RPS -2. No blocking matters here.
O14 2 11 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Delayed slant Gardner Inc
Gardner hitches up at five yards and then extends his route when a LB comes up to cover, and Denard goes for him. He's about to have a completion nearing the sticks when an DL who's not even bothering to rush gets a hand up at the LOS and bats it down. Foiled again! RPS +1, great little route. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
O14 3 11 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Pass Dumpoff Toussaint Inc
Air Force sends six. Picked up but Robinson is spooked and dumps it to Toussaint, low and tough. Not caught, not getting the first down even if caught. RUN THE BALL DENARRRRD. Taking off here has possibilities, man. (IN, 1, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: FG(31), 31-25, 8 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 2
Playside LB splits Toussaint and Barnum, getting upfield of Barnum and forcing Denard inside away from blocking. This gives AF a free hitter, who tackles Robinson in the hole. Think Toussaint(-1) has to go at this guy and cut him so Barnum can come around. Stunt made the blocking down very easy FWIW.
M45 2 8 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run QB sweep Robinson 2
Williams(-1) gets shoved back and loses his guy, which picks off Brink and gives Brink's guy an avenue to flow. Toussaint(-1) never actually gets a hat on the contain guy, and these folks combine on Robinson for a short gain.
RUN+: Schofield RUN-: Toussaint, Williams
M47 3 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA rollout hitch Gardner Inc
Wide open as the smash route takes the corner to that side deep. Robinson finds it and leaves it short, but catchable. Gardner cant' bring it in. (MA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-25, 2 min 4th Q. Michigan's final snaps are kneels.

I like this not playing Alabama thing.

Yeah, it's pretty cool.

My favorite bits are Denard running until your brain melts.

Me too!

My second favorite bits are when Denard throws the receivers are not coated in a blood-red harbinger of doom.

I feel you.

I'm even feeling pretty good about this chart you're going to hit me with.

Do… you want to? You know, do it? The thing where I say—

CHART

—chart and you interrupt me to say—

CHART

--chart. The love is back!

[Hennechart legend is updated.]

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
2011 through MSU 13 66(12) 11(1) 34(1) 17 2 3 10 4 55%
2011 after MSU 9 77(9) 7 17 9 6(1) 5(2) 9 5 69%
Alabama 4 15(2) 1 4 3 - - 3(1) 1 71%
Air Force 1 14 3 2 1 - 2 1 - 75%

Boom. Denard's misses:

  • Dumpoff to Smith that's a little high and hard marked MA. This was the INT.
  • Two iffy throws on sideline stop routes, one of which takes Roundtree off his feet inbounds on Michigan's hurry-up drive at the end of the first half, one of which forces Gardner to try and dig out a low throw on Michigan's final real snap. Both MAs.
  • Fifty-yard bomb to Roundtree thrown while on the move and getting tackled. IN, but not a big deal.
  • Dumpoff to Toussaint as he's getting pressure on third and eleven. IN.

There was also a crappy read right at the end of the first half. That's it. Denard Robinson killed Tacopants tag: deployed.

I mean, I'm just like you guys. Wheels on the money, corner routes on the money, even one of those dinky Purdue routes in traffic squeezed in there. He stood in against pressure and shot darts out to his WRs. QBs make mistakes. There are those little frustrating moments when the guy won't just RUNNNNNNN and you're going HNNNNNNGGGG because look at all that space on third and three. But if you're trying to tell me this is not a significant leap forward, you crazy.

This is pretty.

MAINTAIN PLZ

I am so Funchized right now you guys.

you're what

I am Funchized to the max.

that's not even a thing

Oh, man, this is great stuff.

Fine, fine, I am so Funchized.

That's not even a thing.

I clipped all four of his catches not because I set out to do so but just because it happened. Each was a big gain, each was virtually unstoppable for safety or linebacker, and all but one made you think that Funchess was going to have awesome hands as he plucked the ball out of the air with the twelve-inch skillets attached to his wrists. Was the seam a little behind him? Maybe if it's Dileo the throw forces a spin and a tough catch. Funchess just reaches out for it. Was the touchdown a little short?

Maybe if we're talking about Martavious Odoms or Jeremy Gallon going for that. In Funchess's case, feed the man up high.

Aigh Toussaint?

Let's do another variety of chart first.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 8 - 8 Blew some guys off the ball; locked out edge guys.
Barnum 6.5 2 4.5 Solid.
Mealer 4.5 2 2.5 Seems like a decent player.
Omameh 5 5 0 Pulling getting bad again; got blown by a couple times.
Schofield 3 2 1 Not tested that much.
Kwiatkowski 2 - 2 Did okay.
Moore - - - DNP
Williams 5 3 2 Very blocky.
Funchess - - - Blocking is for saps.
TOTAL 34 14 71% What they needed to do against Air Force.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 11.5 3.5 8 XOXOXO
Bellomy - - -  
Toussaint 5 5 0 Pretty good day blocking on rollouts FWIW.
Rawls - - - DNP
Smith - - - DNR
Hayes - - - DNP
Hopkins 2 2 2 Denard running meant not much Hopkins.
Kerridge - - - DNP
TOTAL 18.5 10.5 8 fast
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Gardner - - -  
Roundtree - - -  
Gallon - - -  
Jackson - - -  
Dileo 1 - 1 --
J. Robinson - - -  
Darboh - - - --
TOTAL 1 - 1 Eh.
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 33 5 87% Team –3, Mealer –1, Omameh –1.
RPS 17 13 +4 A lot of RPSes.

Those line numbers have extremely low amplitude because Michigan only got off 28 rushes—Air Force had 71!—and the high RPS numbers mean that I attributed a lot of stuff to play design/response instead of blocking. Like, on the 79-yarder there was only one second level player who needed thumping. That means fewer treats to pass out to the OL and more for Borges. Similarly, getting whacked in the backfield by an unblocked blitzer is not on the OL.

When the line did get called upon, they did well. Mostly.

Okay. Now: Aigh Toussaint?

I'm not sure it was much about Toussaint. He missed one cut pretty badly. Other than that, I'm not sure what he was supposed to do:

Air Force tipped blitzes a lot and Michigan didn't check out of their play but once or twice (and I didn't actually clip the check). Not sure if that's on Denard or Borges, but a lot of the time when Toussaint was getting the ball he was dodging unblocked guys in the backfield. Lewan said this was "embarrassing" OL performance; I do think they had some problems but I think it was mostly Toussaint getting the wrong chamber in Air Force blitz/slant roulette.

Michigan's success in the air was the flipside of that business. Michigan's final TD was easy easy because even Air Force's corners freak out about run.

But the right side of the offensive line is a problem?

I'm not sure Schofield had enough relevant reps in this game to make any sort of declaration. Omameh was pretty bad, though. I was probably too kind when gave him a +1 on some of his pulls. He's back to that arcing thing where he ends up running eight yards when he can run five. And too often yesterday did he let slanting guys right by. Here's the first play:

Have to get a shove on that guy even if he hops past you. Schofield had a similar error on a zone where Air Force slanted hard playside and the only thing preventing Toussaint's good-idea backside cut from working was the whiff. I don't see stuff like that from Lewan.

Robinson only had 4.5 YPC if you take out the big touchdowns, though.

Thanks, Danny Kanell. The way Air Force was playing left them exposed to monster plays. The 79-yarder saw a blitz and both LBs bugging out into a potential bubble screen:

the youtube url for this play has "Wee" in it

There is no one on the second level, period. Air Force did a lot of stunting and slanting  blitzing in order to make up for their size deficiencies, and when it worked it got Michigan in second and long. The long runs were a cost they were hoping not to pay. You can't just take them out and expect to say anything meaningful.

Norfleet?

Yo I got your magic midget right here.

He'll get some carries Saturday.

Did you forget something?

Right, receivers:

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

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Gardner 1 0/1 0/1 5/5   5 0/3 1/2 5/5
Roundtree 1   1/1     2 0/1 1/1 2/2
Gallon 1     1/1   2 0/1 2/3 2/2
J. Robinson       1/1   1     1/1
Dileo 1         1 1/1    
Jackson 1     2/3         3/4
Darboh                  
Chesson                  
                   
Kwiatkowski                 1/1
Moore                  
Funchess       4/4         4/4
Williams                  
                   
Toussaint     0/1         0/1  
Smith     0/1         0/1 2/2
Rawls                  

Notice the large drop in 0s. Obviously. The only routine drop was a Jackson out when Michigan was backed up on the goal line. Wouldn't have gotten the first down but would at least have gotten Michigan away from the goal line and give Hagerup an opportunity to boom one. Smith's 0/1 was of course painful.

Heroes?

Denard! Also Funchess.

Goats?

Omameh had a rough day on the OL.

What does it mean for UMass and the future?

UMass will be a walkover.

As for the future, if Denard puts up the same sort of accuracy against UMass that ND game will be monstrous for the fan excitement level. Put up a bunch of completions against the Irish and keep that streak going and it's that MSU game for the Roses. Revert and we're all feeling pretty crappy about ourselves.

Toussaint gets an INC; the right side of the line is the biggest worry now, along with the tight ends holding up against bigger teams.

But, hey, Funchess and a rapidly developing Gardner combine with Denard's running to pose a tricky question for upcoming defenses. The passing just has to be for real.

Comments

Preview 2012: Offensive Line

Preview 2012: Offensive Line Comment Count

Brian August 28th, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Previous: Podcast 4.0, the story, quarterback, running back, wide receivers.

oline-vs-osu

Depth Chart
LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Taylor Lewan Jr.* Elliott Mealer Sr.* Ricky Barnum Sr.* Patrick Omameh Sr.* Michael Schofield Jr.*
Erik Magnuson Fr. Joey Burzynski So.* Jack Miller Fr.* Kyle Kalis Fr. Ben Braden Fr.

This again. One year after Michigan's offensive line looked pretty shiny as long as you did not consider the cliff after guy #6, Michigan's offensive line looks really shiny… as long as you don't consider the cliff after guy #5. Or maybe guy #4. In a best case scenario, still guy #6.

Last year, Michigan had Michael Schofield to step into the lineup, and needed him to. This year any injury will see a walk-on or freshman—probably a true freshman—hit the field. Yipes.

But let's not think about that. As long as the starting five stays intact, the line should be quality. Taylor Lewan is projected as a first-round NFL draft pick, Patrick Omameh is in his fourth year as a starter, Michael Schofield started most of last year and moves to a more natural position, and the other two guys are redshirt seniors. Michigan should have a better line this year even without David Molk.

That first step's a doozy, though.

Tackle

Rating: 5 of 5, not considering depth

(CAPTION INFORMATION)
Michigan offensive linesman Taylor Lewan and Purdue safety Albert Evans have words after a play.  Lewan was given a penalty for his troubles.               Photos are of the University of Michigan vs. Purdue University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, October 29, 2011.   (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)
(caption) Michigan OL Taylor Lewan (77) blocks Eastern Michigan Eagles linebacker Marcus English (42), paving the way for Denard Robinson's rushing touchdown  in the second quarter.    *** The Michigan Wolverines (2-0) host the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-0) at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Photos taken on Saturday, September 17, 2011. ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )

Guralnick/Greilick, Detroit News

At this point, "Taylor Lewan is the next Jake Long" is not hope or hype or projection but just a (pretty much) true thing. Lewan may not go first overall in the NFL draft but he's already being projected in the top half of the first round next year, should he choose to depart.

After a promising but penalty-filled freshman year, Lewan cut out the holding calls and stoned opposing pass rushers, snap in, snap out. The primary reason ultra-hyped MSU DE Will Gholston started playing judo chop with various Lewan limbs was that he had no hope of impacting the game in any other fashion:

TAYLOR LEWAN
AGILITY TO PULL
sprint counter
gets outside on p&p
another sprint counter
HATES DONKEYS
donkey McNaul
donkey Short
donkey Meredith
donkey some guy
donkey-ish Hankins
DONKEY HANKINS
ETC.
nice seal on Worthy
stands up Binns
gets Toussaint edge
DOES BIFF
loses balance
fails to cut on screen

In a game where the Michigan OL was overwhelmed, blitz or not (Mark Huyge got 7 protection minuses), Lewan had a measly +1. Across twelve games of fending off the opposition's best pass rusher he racked up a total of four protection minuses. Two of those were for not cutting a guy on a screen; a third was not getting out on a corner on an attempted double pass. The fourth is somewhere in that video above, and I'm not even sure what that was. Even counting that there was literally one QB hurry going one-on-one with Lewan last year, to say nothing of actual sacks. There is a reason he is getting the NFL hype.

(Note that when blitzes cause confusion not localizable to one or two players that sends in free rushers I file that under "team." Lewan's no doubt responsible for some of those. When he identifies a guy to block, it's over.)

The black lining in our silver cloud was Lewan's lack of impact in the run game. He started off well, with three games around +10 in the UFR run chart and a 7-3-+4 against ND in limited opportunities—Michigan did jack before eviscerating Gary Gray in the fourth quarter. This was noted.

how often have you thought about Taylor Lewan this year? Not often, right? Mostly when he takes some donkey and punches it so hard in the nose shards of cartilage come out the back of its donkeyhelmet, right? (In a non-personal-foul acquiring way, of course.)

After that, he struggled to register on the run chart until late. His Big Ten season:

Game Opponent + - T Comment
5 MINN 5.5 6 -0.5 Yeah, surprised me too: had a couple busts and one bad whiff.
6 NW 4.5 2 2.5 Why so low, numbers? Discussion later.
7 MSU 6 5 1 Lucky to have both arms in his shoulder sockets.
8 PU 7 1 6 Would like to see him more involved somehow.
9 Iowa 6 7 -1 Off day.
10 Illinois 8 5 3 Had some mistakes in space.
11 Nebraska 9 - 9 Finally some productive donkey hatred. Belly helps him produce; also got Toussaint the edge on a play that would have gone badly otherwise.
12 OSU 9.5 1 8 Effective against DTs, mostly, also getting to the second level.

There's a certain amount of busting plays that is part and parcel of being an offensive lineman, especially one learning a new offense. That doesn't bother me. What does is the overall lack of positives until the tail end of the season. Heavily involved linemen will be putting up twice the positives and negatives as the above—Omameh had eight games where his positives were above ten and five where they were 13 or greater. Lewan didn't get there, and I think this was because of Omameh, ironically:

What is with those Lewan numbers?

The system doesn't try to judge blocks that are far away from the play and often declares an easy thing done okay to be a zero, so backside tackles and down-blocking guys a gap away from the play rarely register. Lewan rarely registered and this week's picture pages were examples of Schofield pulling, Schofield pulling, and Schofield pulling. Why is Michigan pulling the converted tackle backup and running away from their donkey-hating first round tackle?

The only conclusion that makes sense is they hate pulling Omameh. When they did pull left, they pulled Molk or Schofield and Molk, only rarely trying Omameh.

We'll talk about that when we get to the right guard, but Omameh came on in those last three games in which Lewan finally got some traction. Once they could pull the right guard, the left tackle got to express his donkey hatred.

With Omameh figuring it out and another year of experience for both, Michigan figures to be more left-handed on the ground; combine that with the pass blocking mentioned above and factor the injuries Lewan dragged around all year and the projections for his 2012 should be sky-high. He should be an All-American, or at least play like one.

[hit THE JUMP to find out about the other starters, but probably not the backups.]

Comments

Upon Further Review: Offense vs SDSU

Upon Further Review: Offense vs SDSU Comment Count

Brian September 29th, 2011 at 2:53 PM

THING OF THE WEEK. No thing.  :(

Formation Notes: So here's this:

trips-te-rb

See that guy way at the top of the screen? That's Hopkins. WTF? I don't know. Michigan showed a half-dozen snaps with this formation, often motioning the RB (sometimes it was McColgan) out of the backfield to his position on the edge of forever. They didn't seem to use this for anything.

As for SDSU, I gave this a passing mention in the Toussaint picture pages and here it is again: this was not what I expected the 3-3-5 to be. As you can see above, SDSU would often align in a four-man front—the above is over-shifted—by using one of their teeny linebackers as a standup DE. Only rarely did they deploy a true stack:

sdsu-stack

They did blitz off this to create different fronts, but mostly it was an array of standard fronts run with really small guys. I was disappointed—I wanted to see what this thing was all about.

Michigan didn't bust out much else worth noting.

Substitution Notes: Nothing out of the ordinary save Watson supplanting Moore at the second TE spot. Not good for next year—he's a senior. Smith and Toussaint got the vast bulk of the RB snaps, with Hopkins getting a few. Hopkins also saw a little time at FB. Schofield came in for Barnum after he got injured.

At WR it was the usual.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 man Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
Late shift by SDSU sees backside end slide towards the C and a linebacker come down over Koger. Seems like a D meant to defend ZRD and it does. Backside LB scrapes over to take Robinson; handoff. Late-shifted DE has an advantage on Huyge on the backside; Omameh(-1) should have paused to offer a scoop there but thought he was uncovered, which he was until the late shift. Huyge(-0.5) could have done better here, too. RPS -1. RUN-: Omameh, Huyge(0.5)
M41 2 8 Shotgun trips TE 2 1 2 3-3-5 man Run QB power Robinson 3
First of a number of plays that sees a second tailback, this time Hopkins, flare out into a WR position. Michigan never makes this relevant, so its purpose remains a mystery. Man... there are eight guys in the box here and no one deeper than five(!) yards save a corner way out over Hopkins. Robinson checks, flipping Toussaint, and runs power at the overloaded side of the formation. I'm not sure what he thought he saw. Koger(-1) gets beat up by the playside DE, forcing an early cutback from Robinson. Lewan and Barnum(+1) blow the NT up; Lewan does not peel fast enough to take out a linebacker. Molk(+1) seals away the other DT, leaving a cutback lane for Robinson. He takes it; it's filled by the extra guy in the box pursuing down the line and the LB Lewan did not get out on. RPS -1.
RUN+: Barnum, Molk RUN-: Koger
M44 3 5 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 two deep Run QB draw Robinson 19
I thought this was a scramble live but the receivers aren't running routes. Also, Huyge goes after a LB after it's clear he's dropping into a short zone. SDSU blitzes up the middle; Michigan picks it up thanks to Barnum(+2) shoving one guy past where Molk(+1) can pick him up, then popping out on one of the blitzers to shove him past Robinson. Smith(+1) blows up the blitzer to the other side. Robinson(+1) is through the gap Barnum provided. He makes a linebacker miss and is into the secondary. As he's angling away from a pursuing safety one of the linebackers comes back to trip him.
RUN+: Robinson, Barnum(2), Molk, Smith RUN-:
O37 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 man Pass Waggle WR flat Odoms Inc
Open but well overthrown. Not even much pressure on him. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O37 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 man Run Zone read dive Smith 32
God, I want Michigan to run QB oh noes to the RB on a streak right up the middle here. Maybe later. SDSU has seven in the box against five blockers, M runs anyway. Backside LB running right at Robinson; handoff. Molk(+2) takes a hit from a lineman and bounces down the line as Omameh(+1) pancakes said DL. Molk shoves a blitzer past Smith. Omameh's blocked a dude with his back as Huyge shoves a man down the line; Lewan(+1) fends off a DE for a long time. Barnum pops out to the second level after letting that LB Molk picked off run by him and does wall off a pursuing LB but no plus since that was easy and he might have screwed up. All this is is just enough for Smith(+3) to have a tiny, tiny crease that he stumbles through inexplicably. Nice thing about getting through seven guys in the box is there is no second level; he runs a long way. RPS -1
RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Omameh, Smith(3) RUN-:
O5 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 5
More of an under look with 3-3-5 personnel. Michigan runs at the 250-pound DE pretending to be a three tech and crushes him. Huyge(+2) gets under the guy and starts crushing him towards the endzone. Omameh(+1) helped, then popped off to steamroll a linebacker. Barnum(+1) pulls around to do the same to another linebacker; Molk(+1) and Watson(+1) kick out their guys to make this easy.
RUN+: Huyge(2), Barnum, Omameh, Watson, Molk RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-3-5 man Pass Fade Roundtree Inc
Tough to complete this with very good coverage from the Aztec corner. Denard floats it up in a decent spot; Roundtree comes underneath the coverage to get a one-handed stab at the ball. Shouldn't they be throwing this to Hemingway, not Roundtree? There are better ways to test this cover zero look. (CA, 1, protection 2/2) BWS picture paged this, though I disagree with the conclusion. More later.
M39 2 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 two deep Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
Not a tunnel screen since this play goes well outside the tackle box. Lewan is flaring out to help; Barnum is supposed to get out there too but gets hung up at the line. Linebackers are gone and Denard hits the easy screen; Lewan can't actually block the corner but does delay him enough for Gallon to scoot upfield for a good chunk. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
M47 2 2 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-4 tight Run Speed option Robinson 53
Outside zone blocking. I'm just saying? I'm just saying. Huyge(+1) and Omameh(+1) execute a beauty scoop block that seals the playside DE and gets Huyge out on the weakside LB. That plus a good block from Koger(+1) on the edge plus two San Diego State guys taking the pitchman means that when Robinson cuts upfield he is one on one with some grass for a touchdown. Credit to Watson(+1), the backside TE, for getting out on the backside safety to remove all doubt. RPS +3.
RUN+: Huyge, Omameh, Watson, Koger, Robinson RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q. Lloyd Brady sighting.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Pass Oh noes hitch Roundtree 10
Draw fake into a ten-yard hitch. Robinson nails it this time; had Hemingway screamingly wide open but his first read is there, so no complaints. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M40 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 6
This should have been a bigger gainer, but Smith made a bad cut. He makes it because Barnum(+1) pancaked the NT and he thinks he can cut back for a big gain. He ends up running into the fallen Barnum and slowing down; doesn't matter too much because Omameh(+1) destroyed the playside G with help from Molk; Huyge(+1) out on the playside LB. Without the delay by Smith(-1) he's out on the corner nearing a first down before being angled OOB. With it the MLB has time to shuck Molk's block and the playside DE has time to recover after getting way upfield.
RUN+: Molk, Barnum, Omameh, Huyge RUN-: Smith
M46 2 4 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 under Pass PA slant Roundtree Inc (Pen +15)
Zone read fake to patterns that SDSU have covered pretty well. Robinson is getting pressure and has to get rid of it. He picks the most open of the routes—still not very open—which is Roundtree's slant and throws a ball that looks like it is sailing high. It's close enough that Roundtree being interfered with matters, though, and Michigan picks up a flag. Not charted since I can't really tell if this is accurate or not. (N/A, 0, protection N/A)
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Run QB iso Robinson 4
Playside DT holds up well enough against a double from Barnum and Molk. They can't seal him away. They do get some push. Outside blitz eliminates one linebacker, leaving two for Smith and the peeling Barnum; they both get blocks. SDSU maintains leverage, forcing it back inside, where the DT makes the tackle. Adequate all around.
O35 2 6 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 3-3-5 under Pass PA dumpoff Smith 8
Gallon lined up as a TE. This does not sucker SDSU: the safeties are moving backwards at the snap. The two guys in the route go deep; Gallon has like three guys surrounding him. No one takes Smith as he leaks out of the backfield, so Robinson checks down when the deep stuff is uber covered. Smith shoots for a first down, then fumbles. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, Smith -3)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 4 (Pen -10)
Late shift inside by the playside DE; he goes straight upfield at Barnum. Barnum seems to throw him to the ground with his strength but picks up a holding call. I guess he's got his arm around the guy's shoulder but he's not pulling it; this seems pretty weak to me. Smith still has to cut upfield behind Barnum's block, which puts him in a bunch of traffic. Omameh(+1) got a good seal on a guy playside of him, which allows Smith(+1) to pick his way for a couple yards. Barnum -1 for allowing the penetration and picking up the flag. On replay this is a really bad penalty. He's not holding the dude, he's pushing him. Refs -2.
RUN+: Omameh, Smith RUN-: Barnum
M19 1 20 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 5-3 stack Pass Quick hitch Roundtree 5
Quick three step strike to Roundtree. Fine on first and ten. First and twenty, though? (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M24 2 15 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-3 stack Pass PA quick seam Koger Inc
Zone read PA gets Koger and Hemingway wide open in the short seams. Robinson takes the easier throw to Koger, nailing him in the numbers. Dropped. If caught a certain first down and maybe more. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
M24 3 15 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Okie Pass Scramble Robinson 11
SDSU stunt gets Barnum blocking no one and almost gets Denard sacked; Molk comes off his guy and manages to hand him to Omameh at the last second to prevent total chaos. Team minus there but pretty decent work by those two. Denard has a lane thanks to a Smith pickup and comes up through the pocket, where a couple spies are. He's got no one open so he takes off. Maybe he had Gallon on an out but not seeing that is no surprise given the heavy pressure. (PR, N/A, protection 1/3, team -2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 6
Lewan and Watson momentarily double the playside DE-type substance (actually a LB), with Lewan chucking him upfield and Watson(+1) sealing. Molk(+1) controls the center well, so there's a crease frontside for Toussaint. Lewan(+1) and Omameh(+1) get good second level blocks; Barnum(-1) gets shoved off balance by his guy, forcing Toussaint to slow up and cut outside of him, where an aggressive safety is there after just a few yards.
RUN+: Lewan, Watson, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Barnum
M25 2 4 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Speed option Toussaint 5
Barnum hurt; Schofield in. Toussaint motions to the option from the opposite side just before the snap. SDSU blitzes into this; Denard(+1) makes sure to suck up the edge guy before pitching. Toussaint(+1) has to dodge the charging safety, which he does; QB guy then gets stiffarmed; pursuit now tackles the slowed Toussaint. Two broken tackles for five yards = RPS -1.
RUN+: Toussaint, Robinson RUN-:
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run QB iso Robinson 3
Oh, man, Robinson misses a huge cutback lane. SLB moves to the line late and blitzes upfield; Koger(+1) kicks him out way out of the picture. SDSU line slants playside, beating Molk(-1) to the point where Smith has to hit this guy on the LOS. Lewan(+1) has managed to get playside of his guy and wall him off, allowing a cutback lane. Robinson(-1) begins to take it but instead of exploding outside into open space he inexplicably bowls over the guy Lewan's blocking.
RUN+: Koger, Lewan RUN-: Molk, Robinson
M33 2 7 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Denard misses a keep read. Play still works as Schofield(+1) gets enough of the NT to give Toussaint(+1) a crease he hits speedily; Omameh(+1) kicked out a blitzing LB and Molk nailed the MLB. Safety comes up to hit at the sticks.
RUN+: Schofield, Toussaint, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Robinson
M40 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Busted play Robinson -1
Robinson tries to hand off but Smith thinks it's a pitch. Robinson manages to get somewhere near the LOS.
M39 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass PA RB flat Smith Inc
Blitz gets two guys in Robinson's face immediately and he just dumps it off to the flat thinking that will be open; it's not. This is actually a good throw considering—he's under a lot of pressure and the coverage is there; he places it in a spot where Smith can get it and pick up some YAC if the LB doesn't make the diving PBU, which he does. Instant pressure plus coverage on the hot route == RPS -1. (CA, 0, protection N/A)
M39 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Pass Out Hemingway 9
Half roll does nothing to prevent pressure; Smith does not cut an edge blitzer and Molk(-1) lets another guy through to block no one. Robinson gets lit up. He throws just before that, hitting Hemingway in front of tight coverage. It's a bit high but not so much that Hemingway can't go up and get it. (CA+, 2, protection 0/3, Smith, Schofield, Molk)
M48 4 2 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Speed option Robinson 7
NT goes right by Omameh but is not flat enough to make that count. Molk(+1) slides down the line, finds no one to block, and sets up. He never actually impacts the LB twisting from the inside but delays him with his presence. Lewan(+2) hates the playside donkey, donkeying him into the donkeyground. Koger(+1) kicks out the LB on the end; Robinson slashes up for the first.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Molk, Robinson, Koger. RUN-:
O45 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 over Run QB power Robinson 34
Robinson sees something he likes and checks. This flips the RB to the strongside; Michigan runs power over there. SDSU twisting, I think. Barnum(+1) adjusts to the twisting DL over him, kicking him down the line and into the guy next to him. That erases both. Lewan(+1), Koger(+1), and Watson(+1) are two on three on guys on the strongside POA and blow those two off the ball. The combination is a cavernous cutback lane for Robinson(+2) that he takes. Molk(+1) has wandered out to the first down line, where he takes out a safety; Robison accelerates behind and is again angling away from the last man when someone trips him from behind.
RUN+: Molk, Barnum(2), Lewan, Koger, Watson, Robinson(2) RUN-:
O11 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 over Run Power off tackle Toussaint 9
SDSU misaligns and does not adjust to TE motion. Lewan(+2) annihilates and pancakes the playside DE. McColgan(+1) kicks out EMLOS. Koger(-1) releases into the MLB and actually gets his butt kicked, falling backwards. This is fortunate as it impedes the progress of the backside DE, who Molk(-1) bumped but did not seriously delay. Toussaint(+1) zips into the hole, steps through an arm tackle, accelerates once clear, and nears the goal line.
RUN+: Lewan(2), McColgan, Toussaint RUN-: Koger, Molk
O2 2 1 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Power off tackle Toussaint 1
SDSU guesses right and gets linemen into the backfield by diving; not much you can do there. This could still make it if Barnum(-1), the puller, doesn't whiff between two linebackers. Toussaint's following him and manages to split those two guys for a moment before they rope him down. Run-: Barnum
O1 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Naked boot Robinson 1
Does not fool two guys on the edge; fools everyone else. Schofield(+1) is left standing, realizes what's happening, and gets out to wall off the interior guy who knows what's going on.
RUN+: Schofield RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read dive Smith 0
No safeties. A 3-4 front and man on the WRs. They twist two DL, getting a guy in to roar down the line like an unblocked EMLOS on a scrape. They also have a linebacker forcing the handoff. Schofield(-1) is beaten badly by the playside DE. DE is in the hole ready to tackle; Smith(-1) should have cut it up behind that block, but realistically that's not much better. Too many guys when you've got five blockers against seven defenders. RPS -2. RUN-: Schofield, Smith
M20 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-4 base Run QB power Robinson 8
Huge hole as Koger(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) cave in the playside DE; blitzing LB comes outside and is kicked out by Smith(+0.5). Robinson hits it straight up. Schofield(+1) was pulling and got a downfield block that buries a DL; Koger gets his extra half-point by moving out into the second level. RPS +1; this was wide open.
RUN+: Koger, Huyge(0.5), Schofield, Smith(0.5) RUN-:
M28 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 tight Run QB inside zone Robinson 7
Twist stunt by the playside DE and NT. Schofield(+1) manages to adjust, pushing the DE past the play and giving a last lunge once on his knees that gets that guy to the ground; Molk(+1) rides the twisting NT way out of the play; Denard(+1) sees the crease and hits it. Huyge(+1) got a great driving block on the backside DE; Koger(-0.5) lost the backside LB; Omameh got a decent shove on the MLB. Denard has room for the first and can grab some extra yards before Koger's guy makes an ankle tackle.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Huyge, Robinson RUN-: Koger(0,5)
M35 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read keeper Robinson -3
Major error by Robinson(-3), who was definitely covered and should have given. Toussaint looked like he had a lane for either some yards or a very large number of yards. He manages to pop outside and looks like he will be able to run to the corner but then compounds his error by stopping and trying to cut back against the grain. No sale. Just run to the corner, man, it's not like this SDSU DE is going to catch you. RUN-: Robinson(3)
M32 2 13 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-4 base Pass Rollout curl Jackson Int
Rolling the pocket. I don't know why. This is "smash," which is similar to a curl-flat concept with the outside receiver running a circle route and the inside guy running a corner, but it's against man and Denard stares it down, allowing the underneath guy to sink into the route. It's picked off. It didn't help that the rolling pocket cuts off his reads, makes it harder to find spaces to run, and exposes both backs to cut blocks they miss, pressuring Denard. Stop rolling the pocket, fergodsakes. (BR, 0, protection 1/3, Toussaint, Smith, RPS -2... this route got no receivers open and got Denard pressured.)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-0, 12 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 over Run QB power Robinson 4
Lewan(+2) obliterates the playside DE. He is not slanting and he ends up on his chest yards away from where he started. His block is so good it's a problem for Schofield, who gets clipped by the donkey Lewan is hating and can't get out on the MLB. File under one of those things. Omameh(-2) should be there to pick up the slack but even though it looks like he looks right at him he moves on to someone else. Instead of hitting a crease up the middle Denard has to bounce away from the MLB, robbing Hopkins of his angle on the other LB. Koger(+1) got a good driving kickout that put a guy on his butt, too.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Koger(2) RUN-: Omameh(2)
M28 2 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Pass PA FB flat Koger Inc
Playside LB gets straight upfield, pressuring Denard. This opens up the FB flat for probably first down yardage; Denard misses entirely. (IN, 0, protection N/A)
M28 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Pass TE Hitch Koger Int
Roundtree starts in the backfield before motioning out. SDSU sends three; they get picked up and provide a lane upfield. RUN! You don't run. Y U NO RUN. He throws it to a covered Koger and I believe the DB does bat this skyward; he had Dileo coming open on a not covered hitch and he's DENARD ROBINSON RUN. (BR, 0, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-0, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 5
Hopkins at FB. Koger(+1) blasts the playside LB/DE well inside. Watson(+1) kicks out the safety type guy outside. Molk(+1) seals one DT; Schofield momentarily does the same to the other but lets him spin off. Hopkins bashes into a LB a couple yards downfield as Lewan(+1) blows out a LB. Omameh(-1) is pulling around into this cavernous space and runs directly into Hopkins. If he pulls inside of Hopkins he gets a block and Toussaint can hit it up for seven or eight. As it is he bumps Hopkins and Toussaint bumps him. Toussaint has to bounce outside, which Omameh also does; this is where Lewan has kicked his linebacker . Buncha dudes converge.
RUN+: Koger, Molk, Lewan, Watson RUN-: Omameh, Schofield
M12 2 5 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 6
Same check that led to the post-fourth-and-two touchdown earlier, with Smith flipping sides and Michigan running at the heavy side. Lewan(+1) and Schofield double the playside DT, eventually depositing him three yards downfield in a heap. Watson(+1) scoops the playside DE-ish person with Koger, getting him sealed. Koger eventually passes him off; Omameh(+0.5) does whack him on his pull. Still not getting out into the second level there but he blocked someone. Molk(+1) has sealed away the backside DT so Robinson can just run up the backs of his OL until he nears the first down and jump over them to get it.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield, Watson, Omameh(0.5), Molk RUN-:
M18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Run Zone read keeper Robinson 0
This is probably a good keep since Toussaint gets annihilated but Koger(-2) just fans out, blocking no one. This leaves a DE unblocked and a twist stunt gets another guy free to contain from the inside and Denard has little choice but to go down near the LOS. RPS -2... defense had this beaten up even without the Koger fan. RUN-: Koger(2), Huyge
M18 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Run QB iso Robinson 3
Another twist stunt is handled better, with Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) blowing one twistee down the line and Omameh(+1) picking off the other one. It looks like Robinson is about to burst through the small crease provided when he's hacked down from behind by a guy who got upfield of Lewan(-3), beat him, got up, and tackled. That should never happen.
RUN+: Omameh, Molk, Schofield RUN-: Lewan(3)
M21 3 7 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 stack Pass Screen Smith 32
SDSU sends five and they all suck upfield. Grady's in the slot and has press man over him; he takes that guy away from the play and blocks the spying MLB. That's seven defenders gone. Denard dumps it off to Smith and he's got a convoy with nothing to do. I guess I would like Smith to maybe set up his blocks a little better here but you never know when you're going to get cut down from behind. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3)
O47 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Smith 0
SDSU plays to spill, shooting the playside LB down the line and blowing up McColgan(-2), who topples backwards. Koger(-1) ran past the first threat, and those guys tackle. RUN-: McColgan(2), Koger
O47 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass PA quick seam Dileo 18
Zone fake to the quick seam, ain't no linebackers, nails Dileo, catch, first down. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
O29 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 under Run Dive fake to pitch Smith 1
We never run the dive, LB gets out on it, Smith doesn't do anything but run OOB, grumble grumble this play.
O28 2 9 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 2
Twist stunt dominates Schofield(-2), who gets shoved back into Smith after a correct handoff  Smith(+1) manages to get past the LOS after keeping his balance on the bump and accelerating into the gap left by the stunt.
RUN+: Smith RUN-: Schofield(2)
O26 3 7 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Run Speed option Robinson 3
This is not a great check to the short side of the field on third and seven, but it's also a missed cut from Robinson as Schofield(+1) and Lewan(+1) had comboed the backside DT and Denard had a huge cutback lane he does not see. Instead he goes playside, where Watson(-1) couldn't do much with his man; he gets out on the edge and allows one of the LBs to flow up on Robinson without opening the pitch. Denard does cut up, but late, and guys come off now-bad blocking angles when he has to go behind because of the safety charging on him.
RUN+: Schofield, Lewan RUN-: Robinson, Watson
Drive Notes: Missed FG(40), 3 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Hopkins 8
No twist stunt and M still runs the same thing; with Watson's motion and little reaction from SDSU they are misaligned and have little chance to stop this. (RPS +1) Watson kicks out the EMLOS as Lewan and Schofield double on the pinched-in DT. Easy all around. Koger(-0.5) gets a free release and does a crappy job blocking the playside LB but that's okay because McColgan(+1) and Omameh are there to help on this one dude. Hopkins runs up dudes' backs before taking a stiff shot from a filling safety and fumbling.
RUN+: McColgan RUN-: Koger, Hopkins(3)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read dive Smith -2
Twist stunt screws Michigan. Schofield(-1) gets knocked back by his guy and Molk can't do anything about the guy disengaging over the top; no cutback with a guy slanting behind and a player for Denard. Smith is nailed by the twister. RPS -2. RUN-: Schofield
M18 2 12 Ace twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Pass PA Deep post Roundtree Inc
Play action. Both safeties are bailing at the snap because it's second and twelve but somehow they manage to let Roundtree behind them. Robinson lets it go over the top but is just long. (IN, 0, protection ½, Toussaint)
M18 3 12 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Dumpoff Smith 5
Plenty of time; Robinson can find no one open. Robinson thinks about running but he's about to get tackled so he slings a dumpoff to Smith. He's immediately tackled. (TA, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 14 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M8 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 11
So the hidden reason this play works: Watson holds a dude who beat him badly. Refs +2. Anyway, same thing as earlier Hopkins power that worked: motion Watson to the strong side, watch SDSU fail to react, run power at it. Koger(-1) gets slanted under and his guy bangs Omameh, who goes backwards and bangs Toussaint. Watson(-2) is beaten by his LB and flings him to the ground without a call, otherwise this ends two yards in the backfield. The hold gives Toussaint a bounce, which he takes. It should be noted that if this play managed to go where it was supposed to, Lewan(+1), McColgan(+1), and Schofield(+1) had all gotten great blocks.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield, McColgan RUN-: Watson(2), Koger
M19 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint -1
This time they just line up with Watson over Koger, no motion, and the same LB who just got held shoots into the backfield past McColgan(-1) as a twist stunt gets a lineman past Huyge(-1) and the pulling Omameh(-1) and the MLB runs past Lewan(-1). Three unblocked guys meet Toussaint in the backfield. RPS -2. RUN-: McColgan, Lewan, Huyge,
M18 2 11 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Smith 0
Playside DE slides outside when he sees the downblock, avoiding Huyge(-1) entirely. Koger(-1) has to take him and doesn't do well with it; since two OL are now blocking no one there are two LBs for the single pulling Schofield since McColgan had to kick a dude out. RUN-: Koger, Huyge
M18 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Dig Roundtree Inc
Denard has a very tight, NFL-style window he can fit it in over a level in a zone here and wings it high. Chad Henne could make this throw... some of the time. It would be a DO if complete, and he did find the one small window in which he could hope to pick up the first here. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 10 min 4th Q. Boy do I hate this drive. So, so hard. On the next SDSU drive the announcers will complain about not running any time off the clock. But... but... they used power?
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Run QB iso Robinson 30
Twist stunt. Schofield(+1) initially has trouble with it, giving ground, but does lock out the DT and eventually pancake him Molk(+1) tracks and kicks the guy coming around. That combo means cutback. This is possible because Koger(+1) kicked out the backside EMLOS. Huyge(+2) dominates his DE, and Omameh(+2) pops out on a MLB. By the time Robinson cuts back behind the twist stunt Huyge and Omameh are essentially carrying their guys downfield. He has an absolute cavern. By the time these guys stop moving backwards they're almost at the first down line! Robinson into the secondary where I give him a token +1 for being fast as hell.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Koger, Huyge(2), Omameh(2), Robinson RUN-:
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Run Zone read counter Toussaint 11
RR-era play with the H-back peeling backside to pick off EMLOS and the RB hitting the hole that leaves hard. Schofield(+1) blocks the playside DE inside. Koger(+1) kicks out EMLOS; Lewan(+1) donkeys a linebacker, Toussaint(+1) makes one hard cut and is free.
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read counter Toussaint 9
Different D means blocking doesn't work nearly as well. Huyge(-1) has a guy right over him and releases downfield; this means that guy is creeping down the LOS. Koger(-1) probably should block him but goes for the kickout on the contain guy on Robinson. There is nowhere to go for Toussaint(+2) until he takes a lovely jab step into the unblocked DE. DE slows a bit to form for a tackle. More importantly, the NT—who Omameh(+1) is blocking well but blocking to the wrong side now that everything is all futzed—sees it and fights outside. Toussaint then starts running back towards the nominal playside, where Molk(+0.5) and Schofield(+0.5) took on a blitzing LB, stalled his momentum, and start driving him downfield. Toussaint runs up their backs until the pile stops.
O7 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read counter Smith 7
This is what a 3-3-5 is supposed to be: three man front, late arriving fourth from unpredictable direction. This time MLB is 3 tech, and he zooms upfield of Omameh(+1); Omameh kicks him out admirably. Blitzer is shooting the gap behind a slanting NT, expecting Smith will end up there. He thinks about it, then sees Omameh's block on the MLB, bouncing past a diving tackle attempt impressively. Another guy is coming at him, bro, and he stops on a dime, running through his arm tackle, stumbling. The last guy has gone to his knees to take him down; Smith powers through him for the final two yards. Bad. Ass.
RUN+: Smith(3), Omameh(2) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-7, 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 over Run Zone read counter Toussaint 6
Opens right up; Molk(+2) takes on a DT and plows him back. Huyge(+1) gets a reach on the other DT, though he was slanting to him. Omameh(+1) shoots out on a linebacker; Toussaint(-1) misses the cut behind and runs into an unblocked LB.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Huyge RUN-: Toussaint
M39 2 4 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-4 base Run Power off tackle Toussaint -4
LB shoots into McColgan(-2) who again buckles backwards, causing a pile that sucks in the puller. Toussaint bounces but is tackled. I mean, really, if power loses yards in this situation... RUN-: McColgan(2)
M35 3 8 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 2
Okay, I'm not going to nail people for a meaningless run here. I will mention that Miles Burris was very impressive and I bet he gets drafted in the mid rounds at least. Huyge whiffs on him here, robbing Denard of a possible cutback.
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-7, 2 min 4th Q

That was okay.

Yeah.

Weekly run game breakdown. Hit me.

I cut out two goal-line carries from the one as distorting and didn't count one broken play out of the I (it lost a yard), leaving the following:

  • Eight power plays from the I: 3.5 YPC
  • One dive-fake-to-pitch: 1 yard
  • 1 QB draw: 19 yards
  • 1 QB inside zone: 7 yards
  • 4 QB iso: 10 YPC
  • 7 QB power: 8.8 YPC
  • 4 speed option: 17 YPC
  • 4 zone read counter: 8.3 YPC
  • 11 inside zone read plays: 5.5 YPC

Under center YPC: 3.2.
Shotgun YPC: 8.8

None of the power plays were in short yardage situations. Five were on first and ten, one was on second and eleven, one was on second and four. Five of the seven were "big" formations with two TEs and one WR.

Running power under center sucks, full stop. It sucks against a terrible run defense on first and ten. It sucks even more when Michigan puts two tight ends on the field. There is no reason to do it—any theories about wearing the defense down have to account for the fact that when you run for 3.2 YPC you do not wear the defense down because it is not on the field. This is not just because you can run Denard a lot better from the shotgun: RBs averaged 6.9 YPC on carries from it.

And the under center numbers would have looked even worse if Watson was flagged for a blatant hold on Toussaint's bounce-off-the-OL 11-yarder.

power-works-2power-works-3

people don't go that way by themselves

I cringe every time a fullback hits the field.

That's depressingly consistent.

Speaking of depressingly consistent, let's talk about inconsistency.

Don't do this to me.

CHART

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation.]

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%

Four games and we have a trend: a 15% reduction in Denard's DSR despite laying a lower caliber of competition than the common opponents we winnowed last year down to. Michigan called 42 passes in last year's ND game, a number that is completely incomprehensible this year. The regression: it's real, it's depressing, it's got to get fixed in the next two weeks if we're going to capitalize on the Big Ten sucking more than a sucky bunch of sucks have ever sucked before.

Receivers

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - 1/1 - 2 - 4/5 1/2
Roundtree 2 0/1 - 2/2 1 1/3 1/2 4/4
Odoms 1 - - - 1 - - -
Grady - - - - 2 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon -

-

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

Just the one drop, but it was a drag: the Koger quick seam that was going for 20 if caught.

For the OL, keep in mind that Michigan had 44 carries that averaged 7.3 yards an attempt. Numbers ho.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 15 4 11 MOST EXTREME DONKEY ELIMINATION
Barnum 6 3 3 Only played about half the game.
Molk 16.5 2 14.5 I guess that stuff about no big plus days from him does not apply to tiny teams who are tiny.
Omameh 14.5 5 9.5 Ditto him: his lack of POWER was irrelevant because the guys over him were like 250, tops.
Huyge 9.5 3.5 6 Surprising amount of power run over him.
Schofield 10.5 5 5.5 Erratic but not a huge dropoff.
Mealer - - - DNP
Watson 7 2 5 Did surprisingly well; will it hold up outside of the Lollipop Guild?
Koger 10 8 2 Too many misses.
TOTAL 79 32.5 46.5 +41 last week against EMU, FWIW. Expect something similar this weekend.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 8 6 2 I should probably just give him +10 to start for being ridiculously fast.
Gardner - - - DNP
Toussaint 6 1 5 Darting runs for nice yardage. Same YPC as Smith w/ long of 11 instead of 32.
Shaw - - - DNP(!)
Smith 8.5 5 3.5 Big chunk of the minus his fumble.
Hopkins - 3 -3 Fullback
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan 3 5 -2 Got rocked on two separate power plays.
TOTAL 31 9 22 Contributions from non-Denards: can they last?
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway - - -  
Odoms - - -  
Gallon - - - --
Roundtree - - -  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo - - - --
TOTAL - - - Nothin'
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 16 8 66% Team 2, Smith 2, Toussaint 2, Schofield 1, Molk 1
RPS 13 15 -2 Twist stunts were a problem.

So: epic thumping delivered by that offensive line, as you would expect given the size of the opposition. Michigan's problems came on a lot of twist stunts. Denard had 200 yards on 21 carries and I give him a +2, which is laughable even to me. I gave him a –3 for one bad keep read that he compounded by not getting to the corner with his speed; instead he held up and got tackled for a three yard loss. He also missed a couple of gaping cuts and some of the holes he had to run in were ridiculous. Like this one:

donkey-3donkey-4

donkey-5

He did get a +1 for the cut but by the end of this play Huyge and Omameh will deposit their guys on the first down line. So… yeah. Give it up for the OL.

I thought they were totally overrated?

They suck out loud at running power from the I, if that's what you're asking, and might suck out loud running it from the shotgun against bigger teams, but you don't rush for 320 yards with a bad offensive line. When permitted to do what they do they do it well. When asked to do what they don't do they don't do it well. SCIENCE!

Meanwhile: how often have you thought about Taylor Lewan this year? Not often, right? Mostly when he takes some donkey and punches it so hard in the nose shards of cartilage come out the back of its donkeyhelmet, right? (In a non-personal-foul acquiring way, of course.) That is the mark of a great left tackle. There hasn't been a whisper of pressure from the left side all year.

Power! We use power.

You know the drill: we can sort of do it from the shotgun with the extra blocker/more spread out environment, but going big, as we do frequently and inexplicably, is a recipe for second and long. Even when it works it's not exactly because we're dominating guys. This was the setup on the last carry Hopkins is going to get for a while, an eight-yard power:

power-works

They ran off the right side of the line. Notice that Steve Watson has motioned to the strong side, where there are three SDSU players to the five on the weak side. SDSU does not slant. With the fullback that gives Michigan five blockers on three guys. Even our wack power running game can make that work.

If they are going to give up the free yards we can take the free yards. If they aren't… eh… not so much, and I'm talking like one yard not so much, not the four yard not so much that is the version of Denard not so much.

tunnels-screen-liberation-society

JOIN THE TUNNEL SCREEN AND POWER FROM THE I-FORM LIBERATION SOCIETY
STILL WORKING ON THE COLOR SCHEME
NOW ALSO WORKING ON THE NAME
tTSAPFTILS DOES NOT ROLL OFF THE TONGUE

What happened to the zone read?

As was expected/feared, the momentary light of day Denard saw does seem to be an effect of facing spread derp defensive coordinators. If Denard got a pull read on Saturday it happened maybe once; the two times he did pull he got zero and negative three yards. Tweaks are required to keep it going.

Weekly inquisitiveness about what's wrong with Denard.

There are infinite theories, all of which have some validity. Here's one from that BWS picture pages referenced earlier:

In Rodriguez's option offense, the focus was always to pick up yards and stay ahead of the down and distance. Any time they did take a shot downfield, it was the QB Oh Noes that were wide open. In this pro style offense, the coaching staff expects Michigan's players to simply out perform the defense, rather than keeping them guessing with simple routes and reads that would produce 5-6 yard gains and possible yards after catch*.

There's nothing wrong with this style of offense if you have the players to do it (the Chad Hennes and Braylon Edwards of the world). Michigan. however, is loaded with players that aren't necessarily able to out perform their counterparts, rather, they're able to make something out of nothing. Denard needs to recognize the cushion that the weakside defenders are giving Dileo and Hemingway and pass on the single coverage against Roundtree, who isn't much of a leaper.

I sort of agree but don't think the fault is on Robinson. The coverage matchup is exactly what Michigan expects and Robinson can't know how Roundtree will do with it by the time he throws the ball. You don't check away from a fade against one-on-one press coverage. You check to it. Denard threw a decent ball and the corner played it well. That's life when you are taking low-percentage shots down the sideline at Roy Roundtree.

Why you'd throw this at Roundtree is something of a mystery, but Borges is used to having pro-style receivers, not Purdue++ guys, on the outside. I don't like the playcall, don't like having Roundtree on the outside—it's killing his production—and don't like using Henne+Edwards plays when your assets are elsewhere. To me this kind of thing is on Borges. To his credit, Borges seems to acknowledge this:

Can you talk about Denard’s progress as a passer? “Well, it’s a work in progress with our offense. That’s the thing … because it’s different. Now part of that, too -- and I’m going to take the rap for that a little bit. I’ve got to get him some better throws. I’ve got to put him in position to complete some more balls so he can gain some confidence and gain some rhythm. Get in a little bit of a zone. He’s a capable passer, you know, but as a playcaller you have to consider everything we’re calling in terms of the passing game. This kid really threw the ball well in two-a-days and threw the ball well in spring. He did. All his numbers were better numbers than now. I think game situations are different. As he learns about how to do this, you’ll see progress. Because he does have a good arm, and he has an accurate arm when he’s comfortable. But part of that has to be my responsibility to get him in better situations to complete some throws.”

He's still getting his head around an offense where you don't need to seek out big deep chunks as aggressively because just you can stay on the field with your 6+ YPC running game.

Heroes?

Pick an offensive lineman, special commendation to Lewan and Molk. Also the collective tailback.

Goats?

Air Denard again, I-form power.

What does it mean for Minnesota and the future?

Michigan's going to plow the Gophers like they did the last two opponents. That's not that interesting.

Down the road, the Denard conundrum continues. Is he injured? Incapable of throwing these new routes? Uncomfortable? Was last year just a mirage? The answer to that series of fragments is the difference between contending for the division and contending for a middling bowl game. We just don't know, dude. I'm still clinging to the hope that there's something wrong with him physically.

Against Minnesota I'm hoping to see some dinkier routes Denard can hit in rhythm and no new wrinkles in the run game—none should be necessary. Can Michigan break 4 YPC running from under center against a tire fire of a team? Let's hope not!

Comments

Preview 2011: Offensive Line

Preview 2011: Offensive Line Comment Count

Brian August 31st, 2011 at 11:47 AM

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

oline-nd-2010

Depth Chart
LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Taylor Lewan So.* Ricky Barnum Jr.* David Molk Sr.* Patrick Omameh Jr.* Mark Huyge Sr.*
-- -- Chris Bryant Fr. Rocko Khoury Jr.* Elliot Mealer Jr.* Michael Schofield So.*

Readers are advised to follow the same procedure as they might for the defensive line: look at the soothing, soothing starters and not the precarious dropoff—this time including a true freshman and non-entity "Dash Dash"—immediately after them.

Here the fainting should be kept to a minimum. Michigan returns four starters, inserts a well-regarded redshirt junior into the open slot, and ran for a crapton of yards last year. And the depth isn't all that bad. At various times new offensive line coach Darrell Funk has expressed a desire for seven or eight guys who are ready to play. That's how many they have: seven or eight, depending on which way the wind is blowing about Elliot Mealer today.

While not having a backup at left tackle looks ominous, in the event Lewan is forced off the field Michigan will just rearrange some guys and pull Schofield onto the field. The coaches have proclaimed their faith in both Schofield and Khoury, so Michigan won't get to serious collar-puling time until the third injury/suspension/abduction. Even that would likely bring a redshirt junior out of mothballs.

They'll be okay this year. The depth bomb hits next year as Khoury and Schofield draw into the starting lineup, leaving just Mealer and a horde of redshirt or true freshman behind the starters, including zero (0) backup tackles who won't be going to prom in a few months. At least those backups are backed by panting recruiting rankings. But that's for another season preview.

This season preview is concerned with the above offensive line and how well it will transition to MANBALL downhill running. It's not that they don't know how to do this. Here's the line doing this:

This is the third time I've pulled a different gap-blocked play from last year to claim they can pull, so… yeah, they can pull. (FWIW, that is not Power O but Down G.)  If you don't believe me, believe Mark Huyge:

"Last year, our primary play was outside zone, and this year it's coming at you. Really, they're not that much different. We ran the power last year, so we knew the footwork already, basically. [Offensive line coach Darrell] Funk tweaked us here and there a little bit. But it's just doing it more often."

Taylor Lewan also dismisses the idea the new offense incorporated anything he wasn't being taught a year ago:

"We have the same plays … Instead of an outside zone we might run a lead zone."

The issue is what happens when power goes from a constraint play designed to keep the defense honest to the bread and butter designed to make the defense cheat. The conventional wisdom is that power requires massive road graders a la the Wisconsin offense while the zone game requires guys who, while big compared to civilians, are less likely to annihilate a tackle one-on-one than dance their way into an advantageous position. Boy howdy can these guys do that.

They can do the other stuff when opponents are expecting an outside zone. Can they make it the base? And can they pass protect well enough to open up a full pro-style route tree? Well, we just don't know, Dude.

Tackle

Rating: 4 of 5

taylor-lewan-longish

Taylor Lewan started getting hyped up as the next Jake Long as soon as he committed. That hype never waned until Lewan managed to start his RS freshman year on the bench behind Mark Huyge.

That dip was brief. Lewan forced his way into the starting lineup by the second half of the UMass game and quickly established himself as a man who perceives men in other football uniforms as donkeys and himself as the last survivor of a species destroyed by donkeys. Result:

TAYLOR LEWAN
hates donkeys
hate you, donkey
donkeyed DT plus LB
pancakes DT
caves in Clayborn
lol donkey
Ogbu through endzone
elite agility
mobility matches Martez
blocks safety(!)
kickouts
enjoy 0 tackles Clayborn
part II
goodbye PSU DE
reads scrape, adjusts(!)
not so good
gets QB pwned

That was pretty exciting, and when he turned Adrian Clayborn off in the Iowa game the Jake Long hype hit fever pitch. Not even Long had started at left tackle as a freshman. Then Lewan took sixteen straight holding or false start penalties and harshed everyone's buzz good and proper.

This happened in the same game

After the third Lewan penalty Michigan Stadium was ready to throttle the guy. It would have taken most of the stadium to do so, but the "AWWWWWWWWW" coming from the stands suggested it was possible.

…as this…

He's good. The Clayborn line: one solo tackle, two assists, a half sack on the last desperate Michigan drive. Last year Clayborn had 70 tackles, 20 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Against Penn State earlier this year Clayborn had ten tackles, three TFLs, and a sack. He's a holy lock first-rounder, and Taylor Lewan all but erased him.  …

That was a star-making performance. Lewan == Long has gone from optimistic ceiling to serious possibility.

…and Lewan established himself as the Mouton of the offense. He continued to sabotage Michigan drives with false starts and holds the rest of the year; when he wasn't doing that he was all but impenetrable.

He's not dumb. He knows he's got one big thing to work on:

"Last year, I had a lot of penalties and that's one of the main things I've tried to work on," he said. "My biggest problem was the penalties, absolutely. Everybody saw that. My biggest thing is to focus on that, stay onsides, stay aggressive between the whistles and not after.

"(But) I'm not trying to tone down the aggressiveness, because the offensive line, I feel, should be one of the most aggressive on the field. Have a defensive mentality on the offensive line."

The Mouton comparison is ominous since we just watched that guy start for three years without getting any better, but Lewan hasn't suffered at the hands of poor coaching yet and won't in the future. This should be the year he drops the crazy hot girl act and establishes himself as an All Big Ten left tackle. He'll still be a little penalty-prone but it will be worth it.

mark-huyge-uconn

MARK HUYGE
decent downfield
pancakes LB
screen blockin'
wipes out Lloyd
could do better on S
decent at POA
washes scraper out
again washes scraper out
pulls a bit
down G LB
bad
can't maintain block

Opposite Lewan, Mark Huyge is barely holding on for the third straight year. A who-dat recruit Michigan snatched away from the MAC in the first year of Mike DeBord's zone transition, Huyge's done well for himself to be a sort of kind of three year starter.

That hasn't prevented him from losing his job over and over. Two years ago it was a rotating cavalcade of missed blocks at right tackle as Huyge swapped with Perry Dorrestein and got sucked inside to play guard in David Molk's absence. Late in the year Patrick Omameh emerged at right guard and Huyge was finally exiled to the bench.

Last year it was Lewan bursting onto the scene. Huyge popped up from time to time when Lewan's penalties were too infuriating for Rodriguez and when Dorrestein's back injuries cropped up again. He was okay, his pass blocking issues covered up by the offense and Denard, his rushing numbers usually a little bit above zero.

This year he's in another "dogfight," this one with redshirt sophomore Michael Schofield and, oddly, Omameh. Funk:

“Mark’s played all over the place, been a starter at three different positions. He’s set himself up to have a great senior year,” Funk said. “He’s a great kid, great with the young kids. He defers to Dave [Molk] in the leadership role, but they are both seniors who are always both counted on to be leaders. He’s playing right guard and right tackle, has that flexibility that he could play left tackle if we need him.

“I’m happy with how Mark is doing. It’s a little dogfight between him and Patrick [Omameh] and Michael Schofield, who is doing a nice job."

I hope that's just a motivational device for Omameh, who needs to get better against elite DTs but… well… more on him later.

Huyge has the lead for now, so he goes here. I wouldn't be surprised if some pass blocking issues crop up and give Schofield a shot at the job—Huyge has never been able to hold off elite rushers. The difference between him and Lewan in that Iowa game was stark:

…the Huyge/Lewan battle [was] resolved in the exact same way the Demens/Ezeh battle was: by some Iowa guy running over the backup. In Ezeh's case this was Iowa OL Julian Vandevelde. In Huyge's it was Adrian Clayborn.

Huyge wasn't terrible but when you play a third of a game and you don't get a single +/- on the run chart you're being avoided to some extent and just doing okay at when you're not. He got a –4 in pass protection; Lewan has a –3 in twice the time. Lewan was +7 on the ground, tied with Denard for the best score.

He'll be better, and he'll be needed unless the line miraculously skates through the season without injury. I'm just not sure he'll be the first choice at tackle when the Big Ten schedule rolls around, because...

Backup

michael-schofield-bgMichael Williams stands on the sidelines during the Michigan vs. Indiana football game in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Sept. 26, 2009. Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com

Schofield and… Schofield

The aforementioned Michael Schofield is it, man. Jake Fisher's post-firing defection to Oregon and Tony Posada's instant exit leave Schofield the only scholarship tackle on the roster who's not, like, starting, man. That's not good.

At least Schofield was a consensus four star who picked Michigan over Notre Dame back when all our OL recruits belonged to Weis. He's spent a couple years bulking up and is now the obvious #6 offensive lineman:

"Schofield would be a top back-up if we started today ... but he could easily be a starter. He’s playing most days at a starter level. His big deal is he’s inconsistent, and that’s the whole group. We’ve got go make sure we’re consistently good.”

Huyge's flexibility will allow Michigan to flip Schofield onto the field if anyone other than Molk goes down. He's likely to start a few games in preparation for a full time role in 2011… unless he rips the job away from Huyge right now.

Given the way Huyge's career has gone and the general vibe coming from camp chatter and Funk's public statements, that's a strong possibility. Huyge's never been much of a pass blocker and Michigan's offense is going to require quite a bit more of that as Robinson starts making more and more five and seven step drops.

There's no one else thanks to Rodriguez's failures in the 2010 class and The Process. A discussion of the walk-on options would be pointless since in the event two tackles explode Michigan will flip Barnum (who played LT last year on the second team) or Omameh (who was widely regarded as the tackle of the future before he was needed as the guard of the present) outside and bring in Khoury.

Interior Line

Rating: 4.5 of 5.

This would be a five if Rich Rodriguez was still around. I've been badgering people about how awesome David Molk is since he was a redshirt freshman; Patrick Omameh's full-season debut was not quite spectacular but promised it right quick; Ricky Barnum is a touted recruit who's hitting the field as a redshirt junior. All were prepped to reach-block the living daylights out of opponents this year.

Now I'm not so sure. I think they'll still be pretty good, but worry that their strength is not their strength, if you know what I mean. I think they'll end up running a lot of zone blocking, whether it's by choice or hard lesson.

molk-snappingmolk-illinois

Your starting center for the fourth straight year is MGoBlog fave-rave David Molk. He drops f-bombs in press conferences, openly disdains stupid questions, and frequently makes the toughest block in football look easy. I love David Molk. This is what he does:

That was against freshman Akeem Spence but here's one of a few ass-kickings he handed veteran Penn State DT Ollie Ogbu:

DAVID MOLK
reach destroys you
a tough seal
reaches Spence
reaches Purdue
combo blockin'
a classic stretch
"that's six"
execute the scoop
another textbook scoop
lewanesque donkey hating
latches onto the NT
second level
MLB thump
devastating cut

Sometimes he joins Taylor Lewan in his donkey hating campaigns. He's getting a little All-America hype, and I think he could deserve more: CBS has him on the second team behind OSU's Mike Brewster. If my OSU blog interpretation is correct I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Buckeye fan who wouldn't complain about the frustrating lack of dominance from their OL.

Molk is the perfect spread 'n' shred center, a major reason Michigan put up an unprecedented-this-millennium 5.6 YPC last year. If he's got weaknesses they apply to the transition he may or may not have to make.

While it's usually guards who end up pulling in gap-blocked rushing attacks, having a center who can do likewise is an asset. It opens up extra possibilities. Molk has the agility for that sort of thing but it seems like the act of pulling right after you've snapped the ball is one of those things you have to practice a ton to get right. Molk's spent his time doing other things. Additionally, when Molk takes on a DT with the intent of blowing him off the ball he's almost always doubling with an intent to peel off after a scoop. If he's asked to go one-on-one with bigger guys that might not go so well.

That is admittedly me trying to find a concern. David Molk is great. You can never tell which interior linemen are going to be up for postseason awards but I'll be incensed if he's not All Big Ten after a healthy year. I think he'll be a Rimington finalist.

patrick-omameh-psu

in space, where he belongs

Returning next to Molk is redshirt junior Patrick Omameh. Omameh broke into the stating lineup at the tail end of his freshman year and immediately displayed an agility I'd never seen in a Michigan guard before. Last year he built on that. You know what I am about to embed, but are you sick of it? No, you are not sick of it.

PATRICK OMAMEH
te'ownage
Engage turbo.
completely plows Te'o
finishes the job
flashes strength
seals and pancakes the DT
controls, then destroys DE
kicks out Reyes
dominates the playside DT
second level
combo onto LB
Smith seeya
Clayborn in space
Te'os a PSU LB
screen cutblock

That was no fluke. He did the same thing to the same epic linebacker later in the game, did it to Penn State, did it to Adrian Clayborn, did it to a lot of people. If you get Patrick Omameh to the second level he is liable to turn an opposing linebacker into a safety-destroying club.

His weakness was a lot more obvious than Molk's, though: he had a lot of trouble with beefy, high quality DTs. He actually picked up a negative in the opener against UConn due to his struggles with Kendall Reyes

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.

…and had a rough day against Corey Liuget ("when he did get Liuget he struggled … Many times Schilling or Omameh had not been able to keep pace with that spring into the backfield [that Molk did.]")

There are worse things. Reyes did end up first team All Big East. Liuget was a first-round pick over the summer and Reyes may be one next year. A lot of players have bad days against them. But that is a downside that will be relevant this year when Michigan sees Jared Crick and John Simon roll into town. It'll help out immensely if Omameh can stand up to them mano-a-mano. I'm not sure if that will happen unless the zero extra pounds he's credited with is gamesmanship, which has been rumored. That seems like an obvious rationalization to me.

Omameh's lack of out-and-out POWER to run POWER, his agility, and Lewan's donkey-hating ways mean that when Michigan does use POWER to run POWER they are going to be heavily left-handed. Remember when the first play of every game was zone left over Jake Long for two yards? I'm hoping Borges isn't as predictable as Mike "The Avalanche" DeBord, but the breakdown of left-right might be similar to 2007.

As for Omameh's performance, he should get towards the fringe of All Big Ten. They spread these things out amongst linemen and Lewan and Molk are ahead in the pecking order so he probably won't get it; I don't think he'll necessarily deserve it but he won't be far off.

ricky-barnum-smilesricky-barnum-victors

Ricky Barnum is the line's only newcomer. He'll fill in for the departed Steve Schilling. As a backup offensive lineman we don't know much about him; his only appearances on the field to date have been in uncharted garbage time. We do know he was a touted recruit who backed out of a Florida commitment to follow Rich Rodriguez north—which, wow, dude, that's a hell of a decommit.

He's gotten good reviews from insidery types for the bulk of his career, and these have spread to his coaches and teammates as he prepares for the big stage:

Barnum, a junior, however has received rave reviews from Funk and his teammates. Funk described him as most improved from last spring, and Lewan said he's been playing like an experienced, fifth-year senior.

In classic offensive lineman form, Barnum laughed off the praise and spoke about the big picture.

"It's not what I've done," Barnum said. "It's what we do as a team. We worked really hard in the offseason, and we're dedicated. We want to get better as a group."

Huyge echoes:

"Ricky keeps making tremendous strides," Huyge said. "The kid works really hard. I know in spring ball, he took a lot of reps, and that helps, and he's come a long way, as well."

Borges makes him sound a lot like the guy on the other side of the line:

On Barnum: "Ricky is as athletic as anyone on our line. Ricky is a tough guy." Biggest problem is that he's a little underweight, but he's gotten stronger, doesn't get pushed around, and "looks like a back out there sometimes when he runs."

"Underweight" in this case is 292; "looks like a back out there sometimes" is like looking in the Omameh mirror. File this under yet more evidence they're going to have to remain a primarily zone team the next couple years.

The only issue with his acquisition of the starting job is that he didn't have to fight too hard for it. Rocko Khoury and Elliot Mealer are the only plausible alternatives. While Khoury did an admirable job against Iowa, he's primarily a center. Beating out just one guy means you're necessarily more of a risk than someone who emerged from a thicket of a depth chart with a machete in his teeth.

The one thing that might hold him back early is injury. As of a couple weeks ago he was held out of the punting demo because of a knee issue. He still dressed, so it can't be too serious. He seems to have dumped the brace in recent photos; he'll probably be just fine.

Backups

rocko-khoury

Khoury against Iowa; Elliott with brother Brock

ROCKO KHOURY
played iowa
doubles w/ Schilling
more doubles
shoves on DT
not quite omameh
shed on second level

There are only two before you get down to walk-ons and freshmen. Rocko Khoury is the only one who won't cause some hyperventilation. When Molk was knocked out for the Iowa game last year he stepped in and performed ably. Most of the clips at right are Khoury doubling DTs with Schilling, which isn't the toughest job in the world. He does display a bit of ability on the second level; he does not reach someone into oblivion.

If Khoury draws in it will be a downgrade since he's not likely to do any of the exciting Molkomamehwan things I embedded above. It won't be a disaster. Michigan averaged 4.5 YPC in his start against the #6 rush defense in the country, almost a yard and a half better than Iowa gave up against the rest of their schedule. They'll live if he plays.

Redshirt junior Elliot Mealer is the sole other non-freshman option. That qualifier is probably unnecessary since the freshmen are either 340 or 270 pounds—he's the last line of defense between Michigan and someone totally unprepared to play in the Big Ten. The coaches clearly have him behind Khoury and Schofield and while they do make encouraging noises about him from time to time…

Elliott Mealer and Rocko Khoury are vying for back-up positions on the interior line, ‘right on the cusp’ but depth guys right now, Funk added.

…the overall impression is that they'd like to avoid having him on the field just yet. He's still much better than the alternatives.

Those alternatives are Chris Bryant, the 340-pounder, and Jack Miller, the 270-pounder. They are freshman OL. It would be best if they did not see the field.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Illinois Comment Count

Brian November 11th, 2010 at 2:51 PM

[Ed-M: video problems now fixed.]

Formation notes: Nothing fancy from Michigan. I will note with pleasure the complete abolition of the I-form. Illinois took the ND approach by parking someone right over the slot receiver and either bringing a safety down or blitzing a corner or the slot LB to consistently generate seven man fronts. A presnap example:

snaghq-1

Substitution notes: Huyge again went the distance at RT. Shaw got more snaps than he has since his injury. Gallon appeared to eat most of Grady's snaps. Jeremy Jackson took up the Stokes role of WR who never gets thrown at.

And here we go, kids, the first (and hopefully last) 10k word post in MGoHistory:

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA slot seam Roundtree 75
Hey, that's a nice start. Illinois comes out with a guy over the slot receiver and will spend a big chunk of the game blitzing that guy off the corner for contain on Robinson while bringing the safety to that side down. On this one the slot LB does go with the bubble route; Roundtree is lined up inside of that. He goes straight downfield. One safety comes up in a robber zone as Illinois run blitzes; a linebacker comes free on the backside, then forms up(!) to contain, giving Robinson time to find Roundtree down the slot. Free safety was moving towards the centerfield zone, then bit on the run play, leaving Roundtree wide open (RPS +3). Denard hits him in the numbers 20 yards downfield and he's got a five yard head start on everyone. Touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 14 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB down G Robinson 4
This is supposed to go outside with Lewan pulling around the down block of Koger(-1), but Koger got beat badly and the playside DE shoots upfield. There's a massive cutback lane, though, because Molk(+2) got a great reach block on the playside DE and erased him. The backside DE is flowing down the line just like that picture pages I did earlier in the year, however, because Omameh is releasing downfield. Robinson makes a good cut but misses a huge cutback lane outside after Lewan(+1) clubs his guy, Robinson gets run down from the backside of the play, fumbling. Michigan loses a couple yards on the exchange.
RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Schilling RUN-: Koger, Robinson
M21 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Edge pitch decoy Robinson 2
We get to this play late so it's tough to tell what happens. Michigan fakes that edge pitch they ran a few times last year in the hopes of getting someone out of position but there are three UI players to two blockers in the area and there's no room. Looks like Huyge(-1) missed a block but don't hold me to that.
RUN+: RUN-: Huyge
M23 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 11
Michigan runs a snag concept. Linebacker drops deep on the seam/corner, giving Hemingway a pocket of space at the sticks. Robinson's a little late with the throw, which could hypothetically get him tackled short of the sticks but Hemingway does that little orbit step that gets him around the inside pursuit and sees him pick up 6-7 YAC. Nice play. Picture paged. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M34 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 13
They shoot the H-back to the backside on this; pretty typical inside zone for M. Illinois is using the slot LB as the contain guy so Webb doesn't really have anyone to block. Michigan's going at the gap between the weakside DE and DT on Illinois' overshifted line. Omameh(+1) momentarily doubles the playside DT to help Molk seal, then pops out on the MLB. Huyge(+1) walls off a crashing DE, giving Smith(+2) a crease that he sees and hits quickly. He then gets low and into the safety's shoulder, spinning off his tackle and turning five yards into 13. ZR+1.
M47 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 2
Lewan leaves a fraction early; the genesis of a later false start maybe. Schilling(-2) gets blown through like he isn't there on this one, sending Liuget into the backfield like a shot. Denard tries to take it outside but Liuget grabs him from behind, tackling for a short gain. Looked well defended otherwise but no one else seemed to get a good or bad block; mehs all around.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling(2)
M49 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Midline stretch Smith 8
DE reads the play and slants under Lewan, sending him into the second level and giving Schilling(+1) a tough task to shove him by the play; he does. Molk didn't get a seal this time but did a decent enough job to harry the playside DT; he can't make a diving tackle on Smith, and the edge is open because Lewan's(+1) mobility and size are match for Martez Wilson's. Smith(+1) downshifts past the mess and cuts outside, getting run down by a safety. ZR+1 with Liuget forming up on Robinson. Illinois is the team best prepared for this in the league, I bet.
RUN+: Smith, Lewan, Schilling RUN-:
O43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Midline keeper Robinson 2
The DT shuffles down the line and opens up a huge pocket of space; Denard keeps. Schilling gets a free release downfield and bashes the playside LB out of the play. Hooray beer? No, because Martez Wilson is exchanging with that LB and fills the hole. Michigan got baited. Robinson has to try the outside, which does not work very well. (RPS -1, but I'm not mad. That's clever. No ZR since I think Denard made the right read based on who he's reading.) Michigan drops the midline after this. It's clear the Illini are all over it.
O41 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree Inc
Michigan takes advantage of the crashing slot LB by rolling Denard to his side and having him pull up to hit a wide open Roundtree for first down yardage and possibly a lot more if he can break a tackle, but he drops a ball in his hands. Tree! Why Tree, why! (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O41 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Flare screen Smith Int
Guh. Illinois blitzes from the side of the field where the screen is going and there are a lot of M dudes out there and not a lot of Illini, but as Denard throws one of the blitzers bats it in the air, allowing Wilson to make an athletic interception. Is this just one of those things? Should I RPS-1 this? RPS+1? I don't know. Huge two-play swing there. (BA, 0, screen)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA TE seam Webb Int
Illinois changes it up a bit, with the safety coming down into the box and the slot guy staying on Roundtree. Michigan does the lead draw PA, shooting Webb wide open into the secondary as one safety is biting like a mofo and the other one is headed out to the slot. On replay: wow. Wow. This seriously could be a TD if accurate, but Robinson wings it over the head of Webb and Webb seems slow to react. It's not a throw he can't get a hand on at least. It zings by his head and the safety digs it out. Major missed opportunity. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 5 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Hopkins 32
Illinois blitzes the playside corner. Molk(+2) with another defense-debilitating reach block on the playside DT. He is D-E-D dead. Schilling(+1) releases into the MLB and cuts him to the ground; he's done too. Omameh(+1) releases into the second level and doesn't actually have to get a block but does eliminate the SLB; Hopkins has one cut and acres of grass. Stonum(+1) cuts the safety who's come over to cover him because of the blitz and Hopkins is off to the races. He loses the race because he's 230 pounds. Check the replay for super Molk pwnage.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Schilling, Stonum RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 6
So after this guy tries to get upfield and gets burned the poor bastard nose tackle (who I just looked up: RS FR Akeem Spence) gets murdered off the ball by a double team. Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) shove the guy three yards off the LOS and Molk seals him away from the hole; Schilling peels off to pick off a linebacker to the backside. Though Wilson is filling quickly the Spence ownage has given Denard a crease he hits. Unfortunately, he falls as he hits it and gives up a couple yards.
RUN+: Molk, Schilling RUN-:
O40 2 4 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 5
Michigan runs the stretch towards the Illinois line shift instead of away this time so the blocking is different. Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) have to scoop Spence, which they do. Spence ends up sealed two yards downfield and Molk pops off on a linebacker. Because of this, Smith(+1) can make a smart cut past Liuget, who beat Omameh(-1). Huyge and Shaw trip to the ground because of the Liuget penetration so folk can converge but not before another first down.
RUN+: Molk, Schilling, Smith RUN-: Omameh
O35 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 1
Spence fights back here, defeating a Schilling(-2) single block and tossing him to the ground. He's in the hole, forcing a bounce out and minimal yardage.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling(2)
O34 2 9 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA RB flat Shaw Inc
Play action sucks the WLB in like whoah and Shaw breaks open into the flat. Easy first down and more on the way as Denard flicks it to him… dropped. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O34 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 1
Illinois slants its line a little bit and gets a guy in on Omameh one-on-one that catches him off guard. He doesn't let him through but he does give ground in the pocket. Doesn't warrant a minus but does cause Robinson to scramble out after he doesn't like his first read. He should either take off immediately or find Stonum on the sideline. He does neither, hesitating and pulling up, then deciding he has nothing and taking off too late to gain any yardage. Better than a bad throw, I guess. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O33 4 8 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-2-6 dime Pass Cross Roundtree 33
Three linemen come plus the corner; Michigan picks up all of them and gives Robinson a ton of time. He sits in the pocket and fires a dart to Roundtree. I think he sees this late, which is why it's behind him; there's a guy coming over and he has to put it there. The throw forces Roundtree to spin around to make the catch but it's not too bad and the spin just takes him upfield faster. He's a step past the linebacker and there's no one filling as he hits the endzone for the second time. (CA, 2, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-14, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 ? Pass Hitch Robinson Inc
Late to this play so not sure but I think this is the exact same play Roundtree dropped the ball on right before the Wilson INT. Here Robinson gets some more pressure but 'Tree is just as wide open. The ball is zinged hard and to the outside, taking Roundtree off his feet and making this a difficult catch. He can't make it. Borderline MA/IN, 1/2 here. I think... (IN, 2, protection N/A)
M36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 13
Molk(+2) again reaches Spence one-on-one. They are killing him. Lewan(+1) kicks out the playside DE, Schilling gets a free release on Wilson. Omameh can't do much more than run after the WLB but does wall him off. Webb(+1) blew up the backside DE and provides a lane for Robinson ten(!) yards downfield. Robinson's first cut is easy but then he makes yards on his own.
RUN+: Molk(2), Schilling, Webb, Robinson RUN-:
M49 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA rollout hitch Roundtree 9
Third time it's wide open(RPS+1) and this time Roundtree brings it in. Sarcastic cheer from the crowd is super harsh for a guy who's already got 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns, eh? (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O42 2 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 8
Omameh(+1) kicks out Liuget. Schilling gets chucked to the ground by Spence but Spence is way out of the hole a yard downfield after getting blasted and is in no position to make a play, so that's a weird looking +1 for him. Smith(+0.5) has a gaping hole between the tackles. He takes on two linebackers after about five yards, picking up 3 YAC.
RUN+: Schilling, Omameh, Smith(+0.5) RUN-:
O34 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
Omameh stalemates a backup DT but does not move him or seal him. Molk can't get playside of Wilson, so both those guys can shed and tackle Robinson as he creases the line. -0.5 each. Needs moar play action?
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh(-0.5), Molk(-0.5)
O31 2 7 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 6
Spence manages to not get crushed this time. Molk does fine with him but this not an obliteration. Thanks to a monster kickout by Lewan(+1), Spence's flow isn't enough to close down the hole and when Hopkins(+1) comes through he clobbers Wilson. Wilson's already engaged with Schilling so this is not a fair fight but that block goes from one yard from the LOS to five in a snap. Smith follows it but can't make anything more than the blocking gives him this time.
RUN+: Hopkins, Lewan RUN-:
O25 3 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Penalty False start Lewan -5
Yes: he rocks a fraction early and they get him.
O30 3 6 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA Rollout fly Stonum Inc
This is a decent throw but a bad decision. He's got Webb in the flat for a sure first down after Illinois bites on the playfake but decides to go for a covered Stonum near the goal line. Tough throw, very tough catch. Tough throw is made and the catch isn't. Robinson had a guy coming into his face and had to throw it quickly, but I'm not sure why they're reading long to short on third and six. (BR, 1, protection N/A)
O30 4 6 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-2-5 nickel Pass Cross Roundtree Inc
Illinois safety chases after another underneath route and opens Roundtree for the first; if the guy trailing him can't tackle it's a touchdown. Unfortunately the ball is well behind him and this allows trailing guy to break it up. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Midline zone Shaw 1
Huge error by Robinson (ZR-1) as the DT is too aggressive and with one linebacker hitting it up past any block and the other flowing hard he's gonzor unless this DT makes a ridiculous play. Lewan(+1) again kicked the DE outside the hashmark; keep the ball, Denard. Illinois flows hard, which is why the keeper is vastly open, and a linebacker gets in untouched. He can tackle because the hard flow prevented any linemen from sealing off frontside creases. I think I have to minus Molk here, too.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-: Robinson(2), Molk
M21 2 9 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Post Roundtree 75
So of course on the next play Robinson throws a gorgeous, could-not-be-better deep ball to Roundtree. Michigan slides the protection to combat the thing that gave them a little trouble earlier and the result is a ton of time for Robinson. He sits in the pocket and absolutely nails Roundtree on a re-enactment of that 97 yard touchdown from the spring game (ff to 1:05), except this time the guy chasing is faster and Roundtree gets run down inside the five. (DO+, 2, protection 3/3)
O4 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Inside zone Hopkins 4
Some backups in for Illinois. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) obliterate one DT; Schilling(+1) hits the other back far enough and Hopkins just has to slam it up for four yards. This year Roundtree can get caught at the one all he wants.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-21, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inverted veer handoff Smith 3
Late moving safety adds another guy to the box. Michigan runs the Cam Newton at them, and with the DT staying inside this looks like the right read (ZR+1) but it's so open it could go either way. Late filling safety does a fantastic job to get outside of Shaw(-1) and gets some help from the LB who is coming off Robinson. Omameh(+1) got a driving, awesome block on the DT left in space to delay that LB and give Smith room, but defeating that Shaw block means Smith goes down hard after a few.
RUN+: Omameh RUN-: Shaw
M30 2 7 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
A wad o' bodies. Blocks are all adequate but not great. This is a staple now and folks are ready for it.
RUN+: N//A RUN-:
M33 3 4 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA rollout deep hitch Stonum 15
Illinois not surprised here; after the DE keeps contain he shoots upfield at Robinson in the same manner he did on the previous deep ball to Stonum. This time Stonum is breaking his route off after selling the fly, though, and he shakes the corner by yards. Robinson dodges the crashing DE and zings it high to Stonum to get it over hands; Stonum leaps and brings it in. (DO, 2, protection N/A, RPS -1)
M48 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 3
Illinois slanting the line playside and having linebackers scrape to the backside with one of their safeties filling on the front. Lewan(-1) lets his guy playside, which costs Michigan some yards as he tackles near the LOS. A safety was filling at the same time but that was going to be at least a few more yards if the DE isn't tackling from behind. Double from Schilling(+0.5) and Molk(+0.5) had again destroyed Spence.
RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Molk(0.5) RUN-: Lewan
O49 2 7 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw 4
Adjustment from Illinois. They send linebackers over the top and blitz a corner. This means the linemen have easy blocks but Schilling gets hit by the DE and can't get out to the second level. Lead blocker has to hit the corner, leaving Shaw one on one with an unblocked LB. Contact made at the LOS; Shaw picks up four. RPS -1; Illinois sold out here and got it right.
RUN+: Shaw RUN-:
O45 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Improve comeback Hemingway 45
Three man rush from Illinois. None of them get anywhere near the QB. First read covered, Robinson starts rolling and has huge amounts of space to pick up the first down. Instead he pulls up and zips a dart right on Hemingway's numbers 20 yards downfield. Hemingway is fenced in by three Illinois DBs but does a moog dance around them, turning 20 yards into 45 and making me be like dang. (DO+, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-21, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 6
Illinois zone blitzes, which throws off this play a bit since the expected lanes aren't there. Wilson blows through Smith and it's looking grim before Schilling(+1) shoves an over-aggressive Liuget past him, opening up a crease that Robinson(+1) sees and exploits. The blocking's all messed up so Omameh has no chance to get the linebacker he's tasked with and Molk's guy can peel off to run Robinson down from behind.
RUN+: Schilling, Robinson RUN-: Smith
O20 2 4 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Dime 4-3? Run QB draw Robinson 2
Thoroughly bizarre, as it looks like a DE lines up over a slot receiver. It's a 6-6, 225 pound DE, yes. I'd probably audible into this too. Molk(-1) is stood up and then shucked by Spence. He does maintain his feet and stay in contact but Robinson has to slow as Spence shows up in the hole. Molk re-engages and Robinson goes to cut behind him. It looks like he may be able to squeeze out the first down when he slips.
RUN+: RUN-: Molk
O18 3 2 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA slot seam Gallon Inc
Another "aaargh run it" play as Illinois does not get out on the edge here and Robinson can pick up the first down easily if he just takes off. Can't blame him for the decision, though. The UI safeties split and Gallon breaks hand-wavingly open. Robinson throws it way, way too short and turns a potential touchdown into a near interception. (IN, 0, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: FG(35), 31-28, 40 sec 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M11 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Dime 4-3? Run Zone stretch Hopkins 2
DE again hanging out near the bubble. Three down lineman, two linebackers, one blitzing guy on the frontside. Blitzing guy and playside DE get upfield of their blockers by attacking hard; this means that Smith and Lewan are both blocking one LB. Molk(+1) easily seals the NT and there's a huge gap... that Wilson is sitting in by himself. RPS -1.
RUN+: Molk RUN-:
M13 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA rollout deep hitch Hemingway Inc
Michigan rolls the pocket towards the open side of the field, where a large number of Illinois players are shifted. Nickel blitzer forces Robinson to hold up and throw to one of two receivers on the curl/flat but he hasn't had enough time to let the route develop and the corner to that side can sink into the ball and get a hand on it. Otherwise well thrown. Still, a dangerous ball. (BR, 0, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
M13 3 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson -7
Yeah, this was actually a run. Both RBs release downfield to block, as does Omameh, and the DEs are permitted to roar upfield because that's where Michigan wants them. The problem is Liuget, who crushes Schilling(-2) backwards and shucks him. He's charging at Denard, delaying him and allowing those DEs to converge for an ugly looking finale.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling(2), Huyge
Drive Notes: Punt, 11 min 3rd Q. Ugly stretch.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree 17
Michigan finally tests Illinois on the edge here as they keep blitzing this LB on the slot. They do so here. Safety fills but is a little late, at which point Roundtree(+2) smokes him on a juke and then spins through two more tackles at the sticks to turn a nothing play into a chunk of yards. Hemingway(+1) with a good block on the corner helped. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Roundtree(2), Hemingway RUN-:
M39 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run PA QB Draw? Robinson 2 + 15 Pen
This is QB Lead Oh Noes, except the pass is a fake and Robinson takes off. This is a play action draw. So… yeah. Robinson has a lane between Hopkins and Huyge that the other Illinois MLB is trying to close down. He decides to cut back. This is not a good idea; Wilson comes off a block and tracks him down after not much. Illinois gets a weak, weak PF call for 15 more.
RUN+: RUN-: Robinson
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Hopkins 6
Liuget again smokes Schilling(-2) and is through immediately. Hopkins(+2) beats an arm tackle from him, runs through a Wilson tackle, and can get upfield; Lewan(+1) got a great second level block and Koger(+1) kicked out the playside DE
RUN+: Hopkins(2), Lewan, Koger RUN-: Schilling(2)
O38 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB down G Robinson 0
Looks like a stretch at first but not because that was the intent. Michigan blocks down on the playside DE with Koger and pulls Omameh and Huyge around. Koger(-2) does not get anything approximating a good block. He loses his guy to the outside on a down block. Not so good. Molk(-1) loses the playside DE. Huyge has to kick out Wilson and Omameh has no choice but to go behind Koger and block Molk's guy; with guys flowing down the line Robinson has nowhere to go and just tries to get back to the LOS.
RUN+: RUN-: Koger(2), Molk
O38 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Dime Pass Snag Stonum 17
Seems like the Illinois cornerback just busts here; everyone else is in man and he appears to be in zone, so he lets Stonum inside of him as he sits down on a snag; Robinson sees this quickly and zips it in for the first, with Stonum picking up some decent YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O21 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
I figured out what Liuget is doing. He's taking jab steps one way, convincing Michigan linemen that he's slanting, then coming back underneath as the other lineman releases downfield. That means he splits doubles by convincing one lineman he should immediately release downfield. That quickness is supremely impressive. This time he gets Molk(-1) on it, though he doesn't shoot through the line. Molk can only escort him upfield; Smith has to cut behind. Backside DT was doubled but no linebackers got hit because of the awkward cut; several free guys combine to tackle.
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh, Molk
O19 2 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone veer Shaw 19
This looks just like the inside zone but it's a counter, and kind of a veer. The entire line blocks down. Schilling(+1) gets a driving block on playside DT Spence; Lewan donkeys(+1) Wilson. Koger(+1) pulls to the backside to plug the DE, who was held outside by the threat of Denard. Shaw takes the handoff as if it's a regular inside zone, sucking linebackers and safeties to the frontside, cuts hard to the backside of the play, then drags tacklers the final five yards. RPS+2
RUN+: Lewan, Schilling, Koger, Shaw RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-31, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 5
Molk blocks the playside DT, Schilling hits one MLB, and the play is basically a one-on-one matchup between Hopkins and Wilson. Stalemate, basically, and Wilson can come off to tackle at the LOS. Denard has room outside because of another good Lewan(+1) kick that opens the hole up wide enough for him to get decent yardage.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-:
M25 2 5 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree 9
Illinois has been leaving the outside guys in man all day with these slot blitzes and Michigan uses that here, running a simple ten-yard hitch that the safety can't get out on. He's already been burned crispy, after all. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 4
Playside DE slides inside; Schilling(+1) steps up to seal him away. It's Lewan and Hopkins versus linebackers. Lewan engages Wilson about a yard downfield; Wilson gets outside. Lewan keeps driving and gets some more depth as they flow outside. Blitzy McSlotGuy is holding contain; he steps up through Hopkins's block, sending Hop to the field uselessly, and tackles as Robinson hits it up. Robinson was going to get tackled by the other MLB but he might have gotten a few more yards without the whiff.
RUN+: Schilling, Lewan (0.5) RUN-: Hopkins
M38 2 6 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 16
Wilson screws up, giving Smith the wrong shoulder and sending Denard outside away from his fellow MLB. Good block from Molk(+1) to deal with the playside DT and Huyge(+1) kicked out the DE effectively; Omameh(+1) nailed the other LB, who also screwed up by shucking to the wrong side. Robinson has space, cutting outside to pick up eight or ten more yards.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Huyge, Robinson RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 3
Liuget beats Omameh(-1) badly, shoving him back and coming off inside; Illinois is running a scrape exchange and sends the DE shuffling down the line as Wilson pops out to contain Robinson. Bizarrely, Webb just ran out to block a safety instead of doing something at the line, so this was damned either way. No ZR. Smith is swallowed. He gets three because Schilling(+0.5) blew the DT downfield some. RPS -1.
RUN+: Schilling(0.5) RUN-: Omameh
O43 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass TE Fly Webb Inc (Pen +15)
Robinson has a million years to survey. He looks left, finds nothing, and then comes back to his TE running a fly downfield against the overhang corner. Robinson chucks it up there and puts it in the right place, sort of. It's a bit short. This allows the corner to come through and break it up, but he gets a flag doing so. He did grab the arm but this is a real rinky-dink call. (MA, 0, protection 3/3)
O28 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 7
Nothing, really. Just a wad of bodies with no holes. Backside DE is shuffling down the line; Koger can't do much but hit him and drive him inside, which he does; Smith cuts behind it. Wilson hops out to cover the cutback; Lewan(+1) adjusts and gets a block that Smith(+2) can cut behind again. Tacklers hit him about four yards downfield; he gets three more.
RUN+: Smith(2), Lewan RUN-:
O21 2 3 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Scramble? Robinson 0
I have no idea if this is a called draw or Robinson just decides not to throw for whatever reason. I think it's the latter from the mannerisms but that's a WAG. Robinson scrambles upfield and then tries to break it outside into two basically unblocked defenders, getting chopped down. Pretty bad all around from DR. Just throw the bubble. (TA, N/A, N/A)
O21 3 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Nickel 4-3 Pass TE circle Webb Inc
I like bringing in the 2TE set and then going pass. Illinois sends six but no one gets home and Webb's circle route is open for the first. It's high-ish and forces a leap out of Webb but it still goes through his hands. Come on, man. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(38) 38-31, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Yakety sax ? -9
Forcier in. He fumbles his first attempt to pass. YAY.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 38-38, 14 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Roundtree 11
Illinois actually shifting the outside corner onto this route as the safety drops back, maybe trying to bait Forcier, but his first read is Roundtree and Forcier nails him for a first down. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M48 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw 8
This PBP guy calls everything a trap handoff. WTF? Anyway, Illinois slants the other way and Huyge(+1) seals the playside DE immediately. This does not happen often. Shaw has a clear lane outside and the rest of the DL are done. Smith(+1) gets a feisty block on Wilson as Shaw cuts it up and though Schilling couldn't cut the other MLB Omameh(+1) moves out on him and harasses him; Shaw is tackled from behind after about four yards and ends up with eight.
RUN+: Huyge, Smith, Omameh RUN-:
O44 2 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Scramble Forcier 6
PA rollout from a stretch fake. Illinois covers everything including Smith's little flat route, but in doing so they open up the edge. Forcier brings it down and picks up the first with ease. (SCR, N/A, N/A)
O38 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 2
Molk(+1) again seals the playside DT on a reach. Schilling(-1) falls to the ground, unfortunately, so Wilson's unblocked as Smith hits the huge obvious gap. Smith tries to cut outside, where Shaw's(-1) cut block attempt is easily stepped over by Wilson. At that point it's time to get whatever you can.
RUN+: Molk RUN-: Schilling, Shaw
O36 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA Throwaway Roundtree Inc
Been running this PA rollout too much and the backside DE sees it quickly. He shoots up at Forcier, who manages to dodge the guy. At that point he chucks it well long of a double-covered Roundtree because otherwise this guy is going to nail him. RPS -1. (TA, 0, protection N/A)
O36 3 8 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Pass Cross Gallon 35 (Pen -10)
Virtual replay of an earlier play on which Robinson had Roundtree by a couple steps on a crossing route and threw it behind him. Here Forcier nails Gallon in significantly tighter coverage; Gallon is hit in stride and the trailer can't tackle, so he cuts it up and dives for the endzone, coming up just short. It comes back because Lewan got a legit holding call. (DO, 3, protection 0/2, Lewan -2)
O46 3 18 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Fly Hemingway Inc
Forcier sets up and bombs it deep to Hemingway. Coverage is decent but Hemingway has a step and room to the outside and could have a less contested catch if the throw is perfect. It's not. It's still very good, hitting Hemingway in the hands and falling to the turf as he gets bumped by the DB. I think this was deflected a little and even if not the DB was disrupting him, so this isn't a pure drop but you'd like to see him bring this in. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-45, 9 min 4th Q. Can't blame Forcier for any of this, man. Sharp after the 'sax.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Throwaway ? Inc
Serious miscommunication on the M line sets Liuget free. Forcier tosses it well OOB. (TA, 0, protection 0/2, team)
M20 2 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Improv comeback Hemingway 21
Illinois stunt gets Liuget somewhat through. He shoots into the backfield but Omameh does shove him through and Forcier can roll. Hemingway's open on a hitch route at the sticks so Forcier throws it; Hemingway attacks the ball to make sure no funny stuff and orbits past the corner. He sets off down the sideline for another ten yards. (CA+, 3, protection 1/2, Omameh-1)
M41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 11
No contain at all so Forcier pulls (ZR +1) and is into the secondary. Umpire gets in the way or this could have been a few more before folks converged. This never happens when Denard is in.
RUN+: Forcier RUN-:
O48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Pass Quick out Smith 5
Forcier reads man and hits Smith for what he thinks will be a good gainer but the Illinois safety is very aggressive and comes down on this fast, tackling after minimal YAC. And by that I mean zero. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O43 2 5 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Forcier 3
Should/would be massively open with big Illinois line splits but Koger(-1) gets smoked by the DE and Forcier has to cut outside of him. DE gets an ankle tackle on the cut; Forcier falls forward for a few.
RUN+: RUN-: Koger
O40 3 2 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 4
Schilling(+1) and Lewan(+1) crush the backside DT so when Omameh(-1) loses Liuget Shaw has a cutback lane he can hit. Molk(+1) also got a good downfield block on the MLB.
RUN+: Lewan, Schilling, Molk RUN-: Omameh
O36 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Quick out Shaw 3
This time it's the outside corner coming up to hit immediately after the catch. Illinois has these route packages pretty well scouted. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O33 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Dime Pass Hitch Hemingway 6
Forcier rolling out again and Illinois all over it, attacking with two guys and basically covering everything. Forcier chucks it as he gets hit to Hemingway along the sideline; two Illinois guys are there. The ball flutters over the first; the second comes up to plow Hemingway after the catch but cannot prevent him from dragging a toe. Illinois had this dead and Michigan beat it with a ridiculous play. (DO, 1, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O27 3 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 12
Illinois scraping this time after the Forcier keeper. Forcier hands off (ZR +1). This pulls the MLB to the contain side out of the middle. Lewan(+2) is moving to block him, reads this, and pulls back to nail the DE shuffling down the line. That's great. The scrape is designed to get that tackle blocking no one and Lewan has been coached here to read and react to that. I'm delighted by this. The backside DT is escorted down the line by Schilling(+1) and the hole opens up wide for Smith, who hits it. Molk cluelessly blocks some guy with his butt, allowing Smith to cut upfield, where the two linebackers hit him from behind.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Schilling, Smith RUN-:
O15 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
Liuget blows through Omameh(-2) and makes a tackle at the LOS. This time the Illinois scrape comes from the other linebacker, so the shuffling DE gets inside too and there's nowhere for Smith to go. Michigan went at tempo here and Illinois adjusted quickly. I know Koenning got bombed but this is impresssive. RPS -1!
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh(-2)
O13 2 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA Rollout Fly Hemingway Inc
The usual play action rollout. Illinois has a hard corner so the Koger route isn't super open but it looks open enough for some yards; instead Forcier tries to go for the endzone to a well covered Hemingway and ends up winging it OOB by a considerable margin. (BR, 0, protection N/A)
O13 3 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Dime Pass PA rollout flat Koger 4 (Pen +5)
UI jumps so Forcier spends the play looking for the endzone and can't find anything. He checks down to Koger. Not charted.
O8 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Improv circle Stonum 8
Lewan(-2) gets crooshed by the Illinois DE and Forcier has to deal with a guy coming right at him after a beat or two. Forcier dodges him easily and is now on the edge. He sees Stonum on the sideline in the endzone, and throws a ball low and outside. Stonum digs it out. (CA+, 1, protection 0/2, Lewan -2.) Stonum made an *outstanding* play to get himself open once he realized what was going on.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 45-45, 2 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree 6
Another quick hitch underneath the coverage; filling safety is there in time to prevent much YAC. I think a momentary bobble by Roundtree also delays him a little. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M37 2 4 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree 11
Same exact pattern and throw except this time Roundtree orbits outside, away from the safety, and gets a few extra yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M48 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree Int
The third time in a row is a little much (RPS -2) and the route is jumped and picked off. Ball was inside, making it easier to pick off, and shouldn't have been thrown anyway. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Interception, EOregulation
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA rollout throwaway ? Inc
The usual stretch fake and rollout. Forcier looks deep and with a couple of Illini players coming up on him he chucks it away. Webb was momentarily covered underneath but came open late; Forcier should have taken the short throw for at least a few yards. (TA, 0, protection N/A)
O25 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Snag Stonum 6
Snag concept again. Webb's deep corner is momentarily taken by Wilson, which opens up Stonum. Forcier zings it in; Wilson has come off and is there to tackle on the catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O19 3 4 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Rollout deep hitch Hemingway 13
Forcier's got Roundtree at the sticks for the first down but decides to go deeper as Hemingway is sitting down about eight yards behind Roundtree. The corner to that side isn't really covering anyone, stuck halfway between the safeties. Forcier's got a smallish window that he hits. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)
O6 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 1
Safety in the box because it's first and goal and while Omameh and Molk effectively double Liuget and get out on Wilson that gives the safety a free run into the hole created. Shaw tries to cut back, where a shuffling DE has gotten inside the attempted pull block from Webb and tackles. Forcier should have kept as he'd be one on one with a safety with a decent chance of beating him and probably getting good yardage anyway (ZR -1).
RUN+: RUN-: Forcier
O5 2 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw 5
Liuget shoots into the backfield; Molk(+2) has an easy time getting playside of him then but now has to slow up his momentum and prevent him from getting to Shaw. He does so, pancaking Liuget as he tries to come through. Omameh(+1) gets a second level block, Lewan scoops the other DT with Schilling but got it for free as that DT saw the Liuget play and hesitated because he thought a cutback was coming. Schilling(+1) gets a downfield block on Wilson and Shaw's got an easy five yard touchdown.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Schilling RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 52-45, OT1
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA throwback wheel Smith 14
Anything you can do I can do somewhat as well. Michigan runs virtually the same play Illinois just got another touchdown on and gets a big chunk of yards. The corner dropping in zone to that side does come off his receiver as he reaches the safety level and manages to tackle, but not before a big chunk. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS+1)
O11 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
Curveball from Illinois as they send their DE upfield and use the blitzing slot guy as a cutback contain. This works as Koger(-1) picks the wrong guy to kick out. Omameh(+1) had nailed the backside DT and Huyge released on Wilson, leaving Smith a big cutback lane if Webb attacks the LB. Picture paged.
RUN+: Omameh RUN-: Webb
O9 2 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA throwaway ? Inc
First two options covered, Forcier stands in until he can't anymore… he should definitely take off and try to scramble for yardage. It's wide open. Instead he does his scramble around thing and chucks it OOB. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O9 3 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Slant Hemingway 9
Forcier throws a slant that's blanketed by the cornerback. The ball deflects in the air and Hemingway snags it. Hooray skill! (BR, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 59-59, OT2
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 8
I can't tell if this is a good decision and a terrible play by Webb or Illinois getting Michigan. Forcier sees the DE crash and pulls; Illinois has Wilson scraping outside. Webb(-1) bizarrely releases outside and wanders downfield, blocking no one, so Forcier cuts it back inside and basically runs what Shaw would have run if the handoff was made. Molk(+1) seals Spence and Omameh(+1) releases, finds no one to block, and helps double the playside DE. Both linebackers saw the keep and went outside so there's an obvious crease. Shaw runs up it and hits a linebacker; Forcier runs up it and gets tackled from behind by about three guys.
RUN+: Forcier, Omameh, Molk RUN-: Webb
O17 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 13 + 3 pen
DE shoots down the line and Illinois brings the corner in to contain. Forcier keeps(ZR+1) and will have the first down because Lewan got out and got enough of a shove on the backside LB to get him off balance. Could have done better but okay. The corner's crashing down; Forcier(+2) jukes him to the outside and nears the goal line. Two Illinois personal fouls put it at the one.
RUN+: Forcier(2) RUN-:
O1 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-4 Run Inside zone Shaw 0
Schilling(-1) gets driven into the backfield, forcing Shaw to cut back. A crashing DE tackles him as he does this; Shaw falls forward to about the foot line.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling
O1 2 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-4 Run QB lead draw Forcier 0
Schilling(+1) wins this one, getting a much better push on a play designed to go behind him anyway. Shaw gets a lead block on the LB in the hole and Forcier just has to burrow behind it for a touchdown. He instead tries to leap. Wilson says no.
RUN+: Schilling RUN-: Forcier
O1 3 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 1
Same curveball that Webb screwed up on in the second OT with the nickel guy coming down to contain; this time Webb(+1) correctly diagnoses the blitz and heads out on the slot guy. Never gets a block but does make the guy go around him and that's enough. Picture paged.
O3 2pt 2pt Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Circle Hemingway 3
Hemingway sells the slant on the same CB that just blew one up and got unlucky in the last OT, and a rolling Forcier has an easy throw for the game-winning points. Hemingway almost drops it, but does bring it in. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), 67-59, OT3

Oh my god.

Seriously. That table is 8400 words. I am openly campaigning for the return of those hated clock rules starting now.

But at least this was the happy bit?

Yes, absolutely. Michigan comprehensively destroyed an excellent defense by land and sea. Despite Denard Robinson averaging 3.3 yards an attempt, the Illini rush defense gave up more than a full YPC relative to their season average. They consistently went one-high to do so, which opened up passing lanes that allowed Robinson to average over 15 YPA(!). Illinois' defense dropped from 15th nationally to 34th after the game, and while overtime has something to do with that Michigan gained almost 600 yards of offense in regulation.

That's all very impressive. Is it more or less impressive that it could have been a lot worse? Illinois shot themselves in the foot on offense from time to time but I think Michigan topped them by dropping balls, fumbling, and Robinson throwing inaccurately. It's one thing to fail to convert a third and three. It's another to miss a wide open tight end who's going to run until someone catches him from behind. Michigan did that plenty; there were opportunities to score even more points than they did.

It all makes for an interesting—

Chart?

Chart.

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? - 44%
UConn 2 15(6) - - 3 2 - - 2 - 68%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - - 71%
UMass 4 10(3) - 1 1 - 1 1 - - 73%
BGSU 1 4(1) - - - - - - - 1/1 N/A
Indiana 2 8(2) 1(1) 5(1) - - - - - 9/11 66%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 N/A 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 3/4 64%
Penn State 3 12(3) 1 4 2 - 1 - - 6/10 63%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 3/4 60%

TATE FORCIER

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
Iowa 3 14 1 2 4 - - 1 1 N/A 74%
Illinois 2 11 - - 2 3 - - 1 3/4 72%

A schizophrenic day from Robinson, who was either throwing picture-perfect balls to wide open receivers headed for the endzone or badly missing wide open receivers headed for the endzone. There were three of each; Robinson hit Roundtree twice and Hemingway once but badly missed Webb (INT), Gallon (near INT), and Roundtree (breakup) on wide open routes.

Meanwhile, Forcier was robotically efficient when he wasn't going yakety sax on the first play of the game. He didn't pick up the same yardage numbers Robinson did but that wasn't all his fault. On his second drive he had a 35-yarder to Gallon called back and then Hemingway did not bring in a makeable 46-yard touchdown catch. He's clearly more comfortable sitting in the pocket.

This is the nicest thing I can say about Forcier: I no longer want to die when the inevitable Robinson ding comes. I want Robinson to return ASAP but I do not want to die.

And what about the receivers?

More schizophrenia here, where drops from Roundtree, Shaw, Webb, and a makeable touchdown catch dropped by Hemingway combine with a couple of 1s and a lot of yards:

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum - 1/1 1/1 2/2 9 2/7 7/11 18/18
Odoms : ( - - - 1 1/1 3/4 11/11
Hemingway 2 1/1 0/1 5/5 4 3/3 3/5 19/23
Stokes - - - - - - 1/2 -
Roundtree 2 - 2/3 7/8 10 2/3 5/8 26/38
Grady - - - - 4 1/1 3/3 8/9
T. Robinson - - - - - 0/1 - 2/3
Gallon - - - 1/1 1 - - 4/4
                 
Koger - - - - - - 2/3 7/7
Webb 2 - - 0/1 2 - - 3/4
                 
Smith 1 - - 2/2 2 - 0/2 12/12
Shaw - - - 1/2 1 0/1 0/1 5/6
McColgan - - - - - - - 1/1
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

The drops were kind of a big deal. Webb's third and three drop forced Michigan into a missed field goal attempt. Stonum's immediately preceded the Wilson interception, and Hemingway's coulda/shoulda been a touchdown. Michigan did overcome the moderately tough Roundtree drop; Shaw's eventually saw Michigan convert a fourth and nine into a touchdown.

And the run game?

As with the defense you'll want to turn down the volume down (by about 20%) to get a relatively normal day at the office.

For context, Michigan averaged 4.9 YPC on 53(!) carries. They threw the ball 40 times, so that's slightly more pass oriented than normal. Those passes broke open for big gains because Illinois was bringing guys into the box consistently.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge 3 2 1 Did a lot of okay stuff. Not beaten, but didn't MAKE PLAYS either.
Lewan 12.5 1 11.5 Major cutback lanes provided on the regular.
Schilling 15 10 5 Got beat by Liuget a lot, but held up despite that.
Molk 16.5 4.5 12 Clobbered Akeem Spence consistently. Move to the stretch plays into his strengths.
Omameh 10 6.5 3.5 Easier day than Schilling since a lot of the time he had no one over him and Molk was killing Spence; when he did get Liuget he struggled like Schilling.
Khoury - - - DNP
Dorrestein - - - DNP
Webb 2 1 1 Reduced role?
Koger 2 5 -3 Not so good.
TOTAL 61 30 31 A slight step back from the Penn State game—slightly more positive but a lot more plays (53 vs 42) to get that number in.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 3 4 -1 Not a lot of room to make magic and some bad decisions on cuts.
Gardner - - - DNP
Forcier 4 2 2 Shiftiness paid off in overtime on a couple keepers. Desire to fly not so much.
Shaw 2 2 0 Fully healthy, it seems.
Smith 8.5 1 7.5 Excellent day. Hopefully he can keep it up.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Hopkins 3 1 2 Established as the third guy, it seems.
McColgan - - - DNP.
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 20.5 10 10.5 Still not great, but at least Smith had a nice outing.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum 1 - 1 --
Odoms - - - --
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree 2 - 2 One bubble.
Grady - - - --
Gallon - - - --
Hemingway 1 - 1 Does not get a number for this but the moog dance for the TD was wicked.
TOTAL 4 - 4 Moog dance.
Metrics

I think I may be paying more attention to Lewan than Huyge and will try to see if that's the case next week, but the number of runs that work because Lewan's kicked a guy outside the hashes or driven someone three yards downfield and opened up a cutback lane is significant, where Huyge is just a guy. Huyge did get a win in one other area:

PROTECTION METRIC: 37/44, Lewan –4, Team –2, Omameh –1

That's a tick over 80%, which is good. It might be pessimistic, too, because this is just 3/3:

And so is this:

I value consistency in protection over individual good plays, and that was a four man rush, and people are terrified of Denard scrambling. But Denard and Tate had Navarre-like time on several important plays, something that would be unimaginable last year, and don't get me started on 2008.

The only exceptions were when Lewan got beat a couple times, drawing a holding call that wiped out a Gallon crossing route that got down to the one and forcing Forcier to become MacGuyver again on the game-tying touchdown. He also turned a third and one into third and six on a false start. Lewan's the Jonas Mouton of the offense [Ed-M: except the guy making the occasional, drive-altering freshman mistakes is a redshirt freshman, not a 5th year senior]. I did love this, though:

That's a scrape designed to get Lewan blocking no one. I see OL release downfield and look around in vain for someone to hit all the time. Here he sees his linebacker head outside, knows it's an exchange and the DE is flowing down the line, and pulls up to kick the DE out. Result is a big gain.

As for the rest of the ground game, Smith's good day was offset by a bad one from Robinson. Michigan pulled out the inverted veer and the midline a little bit but dumped the midline after Illinois ran a crazy scrape Michigan was unprepared for that got Martez Wilson unblocked on Robinson. They dumped it after that. After four years of Juice Williams Illinois has more experience defending that stuff than anyone else in the Big Ten, so

I see a lot of Liuget above, and a lot of big negatives for the interior line.

Yes. Liuget went ham. Whenever someone was tearing into the backfield untouched it was him. He did this by feinting one way, as if he was going to slant. This would cause the lineman to the other side to release downfield. Then Liuget would change direction and burst through a double that didn't really happen. Bad things (or great play from the tailbacks) ensued.

That's why this was impressive from Molk:

 

Many times Schilling or Omameh had not been able to keep pace with that spring into the backfield; here Molk gets playside of him, hurls him to the ground, and sent Liuget to the ref making a flag motion.

But they were still positive?

Michigan abused the NT all day by running stretches away from Liuget and having Molk reach block Spence like he was stationary. Spence is a freshman and while he displayed impressive strength on a couple plays where he chucked Michigan blockers to the ground he was dead meat when Michigan got him moving. Molk was a beast. Watch him on this play:

I have seen more zone stretches than anything else in my time doing this and I can tell you that getting that seal on that reach block is rare and powerful. if that happens the defense is giving up at least five yards and usually a first down. Molk did it probably five times in this game.

The tailbacks seemed much better, right?

Yeah, though they dropped off a bit in the second half. Smith had a couple of impressive cuts and one spin cycle [Ed-M: video didn't make it] past a tackle; the other two guys ran hard and didn't seem to make any obvious mistakes.

Goats?

No one had an out and out bad day, really. I mean… 67 points, 45 in regulation, against a good defense.

All right then. People responsible for the few times Michigan didn't score?

Robinson's inaccuracy burned Michigan a few times, though Robinson's ability opened those passing lanes wide open. Lewan did kill a couple drives with mistakes. The tight ends did not have a great game.

Heroes?

David Molk, Roy Roundtree, Tate, Denard, Lewan, and a partridge in a pear tree.

What does it mean for Purdue and beyond?

This offense is going to move the ball on everyone, and will be stopped mostly by its own mistakes. Robinson's erratic accuracy is the biggest problem facing the offense now, and that's the #11 guy in passer efficiency we're talking about. Tate is an excellent backup Michigan could rotate in from time to time without enduring much of a dropoff.

The deep passing game was the main development here; if Michigan has that working good luck, everyone. I think they'll be able to put up points on anyone the rest of the year, even Ohio State—probably not enough points, but points.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Iowa

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Iowa Comment Count

Brian October 22nd, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Substitution notes: Obviously Tate came in for Denard. I think the injury Denard went off with was not one that would have prevented him from returning, but more on that later. On the line, Khoury came in for Molk when Molk left injured on the first drive; Huyge played about a third of the game after the Lewan penalty exhibition. Lewan returned late in the third.

Shaw continues to be limited, so Smith was the primary back. Hopkins continues to get more carries as the season progresses. At receiver, Stokes got more time in Odoms's absence (but not nearly as much as Odoms would have) and Gallon appears to be eating into Grady's playing time.

Formation notes: Iowa spent most of the day with one of their linebackers lined up over the slot. Since I am an idiot I did not take a snapshot of this, but that's "slot 4-3": two deep safeties with a linebacker outside the box on the slot guy. "Base 4-3" in this case was a 4-3 in the box with one of the safeties moving up on the slot guy and Iowa showing one-high. "Split 4-3" was a pass defense with the linebackers spread out; it was mostly featured late when Michigan was in pass-only mode.

Michigan didn't do anything new other than show a lot of I-form featuring one of the tight ends as a lead blocker.

Show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 11
Simple as Molk(+2) and Schilling(+1) momentarily double Klug and then Molk gets a tough seal as Schilling pops out on SLB Hunter. Lewan(+1) kicks out Clayborn and Smith has a crease with no one filling until the safeties show up. Actually think a pull would have been correct here too as the backside end was getting blocked and there was no scrape but this worked. I'm not sure this is a read so no ZR.
RUN+: Molk(2), Schilling, Lewan RUN-:
M36 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 4
Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) club Ballard out of the hole, cutting off SLB pursuit; Koger meets the MLB near the LOS and gets knocked back a little, allowing Dorrestein's guy to come off and tackle. Dorrestein -0.5 for a less than authoritative kick. Molk is injured and leaves.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh RUN-: Dorrestein(0.5)
M40 2 6 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 4
The FB in this package was almost always a TE, FWIW. MLB is screaming downhill at this and runs into Koger at the LOS, standing everything up. Omameh and Khoury did an eh job on Ballard this time; Hopkins(+1) runs into beef at the LOS and lurches the pile forward four yards.
RUN+: Hopkins RUN-:
M44 3 2 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Waggle deep comeback Hemingway 18
Inside zone fake with a rollout from Robinson. He's got Koger for the simple first down but also has Hemingway deeper so he goes for that, hitting it with perfect timing for a big chunk. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O38 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 7
Schilling(+1) and Khoury(+1) again abuse Klug, bashing him out of the hole. MLB comes up to pop Koger at the LOS again but this time there's a crease because Lewan(+1) has kicked out Clayborn. The difference on this play and the QB lead draw and other iso is Lewan giving Michigan more room behind the DE. Hopkins is tripped going through the small hole and manages to fall through a tackle for a nice chunk.
O31 2 3 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run ? Hopkins 2
Watching a replay of the previous play; impossible to make out what happens.
O29 3 1 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 0
Once too many times: Schilling(-1) loses a prepared Daniels, who fights playside and crams the hole, forcing a Hopkins cutback that could get the first down if he was left one-on-one with a linebacker. He's not; Omameh(-1) also couldn't kick out Ballard. The two guys submarine the run for nothing.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling, Omameh
O29 4 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 8
High snap takes an extra beat to bring in, screwing up the play somewhat. So I'm not sure if Omameh and Dorrestein have gotten pwned or if it just looks like it because Robinson is a step behind where he should be. It certainly looks like this is designed to go up the middle with Khoury(+1) and Schilling(+1) killing Daniels; Khoury then pops out on the MLB to erase him. Denard(+2) then cuts past the two linemen flowing outside and has room for the first because of that Khoury block. An arm tackle a yard downfield changes his momentum and sends him past another linebacker, but he's been slowed significantly and the secondary gets there after decent yardage. I do think the right side of the line should have done better here.
RUN+: Khoury, Schilling, Robinson(2) RUN-: Omameh, Dorrestein
O21 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Waggle FB flat Koger 5
Iowa adjusts and runs a zone that has a safety coming over the top so the deeper route isn't there; Robinson checks down to Koger for a few. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O16 2 5 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 7
Inside zone looks just like an iso so the backside DT fights to what he think will be yet another run right in his face. The handoff is made on the other side of Robinson and all he's done is lock himself out. Schilling(+1) helps. Khoury(+1) and Omameh(+1) destroy Ballard and Lewan(+1) releases downfield to club the MLB, providing a lane for Smith to hit. He fails to see it and tries to cut outside, where there's is no blocking. Fortunately for M this is blocked by Dorrestein's ass. Smith comes to a stop, but the blocking is so good he can start up again in the same lane. Clayborn, given time by the missed cut, tracks down to tackle from behind.
RUN+: Khoury, Omameh, Schilling, Lewan, Dorrestein RUN-: Smith
O9 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 1
Safety moves down on the slot and all three LBs are in the box as Iowa shows one-high. I'm not sure what Michigan is doing with their backside reads here but since they're blocking the backside end (Clayborn) the guy to read is the SLB. He's not going anywhere and he's about to get a blocker in his face so there's a lane Robinson can take if he pulls; he gives (ZR -1). Because the interior OL has lost this round (-0.5 for Schillling, Molk, Omameh) Smith has nowhere to go and ends up cutting back into the hole Robinson could have hit if he'd kept it. He's there much later, though, and it closes off.
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Khoury(0.5), Schilling(0.5), Robinson
O8 2 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Yakety sax ? Inc
Snap fumbled. This isn't on Khoury; it's a perfect snap. Robinson recovers it and manages to avoid a tackle before chucking the ball. No idea where it's going or if he's trying to complete it because it's knocked down. (BA, N/A, N/A)
O8 3 G Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Slant Smith 8
Smith smokes a LB over and gets inside of him where there is no help; Robinson hits him for the easy TD. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 7 -13 pen
Webb's guy on the end fends him off and forces Robinson to head back inside, where he just has enough room to slice upfield because Schilling(-1) got a couple shoves on Daniels and fell in his path, knocking him off stride but not cutting him or seriously delaying. Khoury(+1) and Omameh(+1) have obliterated Ballard and Dorrestein(+1) has walled off a linebacker, opening up a lane. Robinson runs by Clayborn; Daniels grabs him from behind and manages to ride him to the ground. This was opening up big but for the Schilling mess. Lewan then gets a dumb personal foul afterwards. That's not going on the run chart but guuuuuh.
RUN+: Khoury, Omameh, Dorrestein RUN-: Schilling
M14 2 16 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 4
Fakes a flare screen. Indecision from Schilling and Khoury at first; Schilling then pops the NT, who falls, but falls well in the backfield right in Robinson's desired path. He has to improvise. Dorrestein(+1) does a great job of getting his guy back and giving Robinson the corner, but Hemingway(-1) whiffed on the outside and the charging corner forces the play back inside to help.
RUN+: Dorrestein RUN-: Hemingway
M18 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass TE flat Webb 3
No one open so Robinson checks down to a hopeless route and Michigan punts. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 7
Just six in the box for Iowa still so this is a play with a lot of room to operate; Robinson decides to cut outside since there's no linebacker over there and he can get outside Dorrestein's(+1) good block; Omameh(-1) lost Ballard on a single block, cutting off that hole. Webb has lost the playside LB because he was blocking like Robinson would head inside the tackle; Hopkins runs by the guy in an effort to get to the safety and the LB disconnects to tackle, but not before a good gain. (RPS+1)
RUN+: Robinson, Dorrestein RUN-: Omameh
M34 2 3 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 9
Okay, this is pretty much the same play but operates differently since both lead blockers are heading inside the tackles. Michigan thinks is is different; I'm just a blogger talking to laypeople. Schilling(-1) gets chucked away by Daniels—impressive strength display there--but Hopkins(+1) sees this, changes his planned blocking path, and clubs Daniels out of the play at the LOS. Webb(+1) hits the MLB and Lewan(+1) again kicks Clayborn out, giving Robinson a lane he takes.
RUN+: Hopkins, Webb, Lewan RUN-: Schilling
M45 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Iso Smith 2
Gurghelgasghas. Iso with Smith? Probably wouldn't have mattered if it was Jim Brown here because Khoury(-1) slips as he comes out of his stance and can't get the MLB; Omameh(-1) was beaten by Ballard. Both guys tackle downfield. Webb(+1) did help by getting a good block on the SLB, so this isn't zero.
RUN+: Webb RUN-: Omameh, Khoury
M47 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Hemingway 3
Rollout catches Iowa by surprise and Smith gets outside of Clayborn, opening up the corner. Hemingway is open, though, so Robinson throws. Ball is short and well upfield, turning an easy first down into something less than that. Hemingway makes a good catch to dig it out. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
50 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Penalty False start Lewan -5
ggrraaghrgahg
M45 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Fly Stonum Int
So this is pretty much terrible. Illinois stunts. Schilling sees it and picks it up; Khoury(-1) has been bowled over by the DT. Robinson could stand there and fire. Instead he shows his inexperience and rolls back, then sets up to bomb it deep. Underneath he probably had Smith with a 50-50 shot at the first. Instead he chucks it deep. 1) this is covered. 2) it is so far away from Stonum that the WR can't even tackle on the INT and turn this into a glorified punt. Given the three guys around Stonum I'm giving this the bad one (BR, 0, protection 1/2, Khoury -1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 7
With Binns shuffling down the line to take away the cutback this is open and the keep is correct (ZR +1). Binns does recover enough to help out from behind when Sash fills.
RUN+: Robinson RUN-:
M27 2 3 Shotgun empty H-back 1 1 3 Split 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 7
Koger(+1) blasts the MLB and Lewan(+2) caves in Clayborn to give Robinson an easy decision to slash it outside. Khoury and Schilling had also destroyed the playside DT, FWIW.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Webb RUN-:
M34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass PA bubble screen Gallon 18
Iowa changes up their D and for the first time all day they do not have a linebacker over the slot to kill the bubble; Michigan goes with the bubble (CA, 3, screen). Stonum(+1) gets a good block on the corner and Gallon(+1) makes the most of it, smoothly cutting past the Stonum block and almost taking advantage of a falling safety before the slot LB manages to shut it down. RPS +1.
RUN+: Gallon, Stonum RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 4
You can tell Iowa's cheating a bit with the slot LB, and he blitzes. Michigan still has a decent crease for Robinson up the middle but Robinson decides to cut back, screwing up all the blocking angles. He gets past one DT, has to cut up behind Koger on the backside DE, and then Hunter has a clear shot since Robinson's cutback screwed up the angles. Not going to offer plus/minus here.
O42 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 3
Again cheating the slot LB and blitzing him; this is not good awareness. Khoury(-1) is beaten by the frontside DT and Robinson has to cut back. Dorrestein had no chance to cut a slanting backside DT, and that guy tackles after a short gain. RPS –1.
RUN+: Robinson RUN-: Khoury
O39 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass TE cross Koger 13
Koger actually falls down out of his stance but gets back up and finishes the route. It's tough to tell if he's coming to Koger second or staring him down all the way. Either way he goes to him in a pocket in the zone, getting the ball over a linebacker covering Stonum and getting it into him just before the safety can close him down. For the record, Clayborn did get by Lewan eventually, though not enough to warrant a minus since Robinson had been sitting in the pocket a while and Clayborn still had to pull up lest he pick up a late hit. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 5
Schilling(+1) cuts the backside DT down, but Lewan misses his difficult cut and there's no cutback. Playside guys do a great job of stringing it out as Dorrestein and Omameh fight the Iowa OL to a draw. Shoving knocks both Omameh and the playside Iowa DT off the ball a bit, leaving Robinson a small hole to hit, which he does.
RUN+: Schilling, Omameh(+0.5) RUN-:
O21 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Gallon 4
Michigan notices the cheating LB and throws the bubble at it. For some reason they're not running the adjustment where the outside WR blocks down on the safety, so Sash has a shot at Gallon for a major loss; Gallon(+1) jukes him out of his shorts and is off... to the.... tripping four yards downfield. Argh. Seriously, nothing tripped him but his own feet here. (CA, 3, screen)
O17 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
Khoury(+1) does an admirable job of fighting off an attempted stunt by the playside DT. This gives Michigan a gap that a charging LB is filling; Smith(+1) pops him and gives Robinson a chance outside, where Lewan(+1) has blasted Clayborn's backup off the line two yards; Robinson burrows in for the first.
RUN+: Khoury, Smith, Lewan RUN-:
O14 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Penalty False start Lewan -5
This is straight up WTF. I don't see Lewan moving at all. If he does it's a millisecond early. Incredibly ticky-tack.
O19 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson -2
Iowa all over this with the playside DE moving outside before the snap and using that leverage to get outside Webb; Gallon(an unfair –1) is dealing with a LB who shifted right over him and gets owned, forcing Robinson back into the DE. (RPS -1)
O21 2 17 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Smith Inc
Both Iowa LBs on the slot guys to the playside get chucks on the routes, disrupting them. Smith tries to sit down in front of the safety and Robinson throws accurately to him but he's got such a tiny window that this would be an NFL-level throw. LB deflects it for the incompletion. Maybe Gallon had a better shot at a window here; the checkdown to Koger was available but probably not more than five or six yards. Excellent play from Iowa; if you can do this you are not going to have many QBs, let alone Denard, put it in your face. I have no idea what to chart this. I am going to go with MA; Robinson had a tiny window and missed it by a foot but this was probably his best option. (MA, 0, protection 2/2)
M21 3 17 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Stonum Inc
A good throw into more excellent coverage; this is a deeper throw that's not going to pick up the first but will get them into chip-shot FG range or give them the opportunity to go. CB Hyde is right there and reaches into break the pass up. Throw was high but had to be so the LB didn't bat it. Stonum would have had to be a magician to bring this in. (CA, 1, protection 2/2) Stonum gets flagged for not being close enough to the LOS, anyway.
Drive Notes: Blocked FG(38), 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q. Last series is three impressive plays from Iowa D and, on the first, whoever's calling the plays absent Norm Parker. I'm not even mad. Except about special teams, of course. Note that next drive would have started at 25 minus irrelevant, dumb block in the back.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Smith 1
Huyge has entered the game, FWIW. Playside DT fights through the initial double, getting playside of Schilling(-1) as the backside guy slides down the line because Omameh(-1) can't ward him off. Smith has two ugly options: run into nothing on the frontside of the play or cutback into an unblocked Hunter. He picks A.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling, Omameh
M8 2 9 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
Clayborn maintaining contain as Webb heads outside him for a lead block; looks like M was hoping Iowa would switch it up and crash the backside DE, giving Robinson a pull opportunity. They do not; handoff (ZR+1, RPS -1). Schilling(+1) gets an excellent block on the backside DT, sealing him, but Khoury(-1) and Omameh(-1) do nothing with their double, failing to move the playside guy at all. No crease; Smith runs into bodies for a limited gain.
M10 3 7 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Pass Deep comeback Stonum 9
Looks like cover two man from Iowa; Robinson drops back and surveys but doesn't have time because Huyge(-2) has been pancaked backwards and Clayborn is about to eat him. He has to hop back and throw off his back foot. The pass is to an open Stonum but is well short; Stonum digs it out for the first. The replay doesn't look like it's a catch but it's not clear so they let it stand. Given the difficulty of the throw I'll mark this MA. (MA, 1, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)
M19 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 6
Iowa fakes the one-high but backs out. Khoury(+1) and Schilling(+1) bash one DT back and then Khoury hops out on the MLB. MLB sets up in a spot that convinces Robinson to cut back, which he does; DT and MLB come off now-invalid blocks to tackle. Still a nice gain; think Robinson should have tried to shoot right up the middle instead of cutting.
RUN+: Schilling, Khoury RUN-:
M25 2 4 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 10
Same thing; this one sees Webb pull across the formation and meet the MLB right in the hole. Schilling(+0.5) and Khoury(+0.5) have again beaten the playside DT back, so the MLB has to attack; he cuts off the hole but is walled off by Webb. Robinson(+1) slices outside too fast for Clayborn to react as Smith(+1) gets a solid block on the charging Sash, giving Robinson a lane that is only closed down by a pursuing Hunter.
RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Khoury(0.5), Robinson, Smith RUN-:
M35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Hemingway 8
Simple pitch and catch that's open; Hemingway grabs it for a decent gain and picks up a few more YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M43 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 6
Khoury(-1) owned, driven far into the backfield and closing off what looks like a well-blocked play otherwise. Robinson has to cut back, way back, which kills the blocks on both backside DL. He has to run outside. A corner comes up; he cuts back inside, dodging that guy and sliding past Binns. Binns tackles desperately.
RUN+: Robinson(2) RUN-: Khoury
M49 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Pass Long handoff Stonum 2
Ball thrown low on a play that had a chance to get six, eight yards. Stonum digs it out for a couple but is on the ground as he brings it in. (IN, 2, screen)
O49 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Hitch Webb Inc
Good route package gets Webb wide open on a short hitch he'll be able to turn up for a first down, but Robinson inexplicably pumps and then wings it well high. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
O49 3 8 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 4
Robinson's looking at the left side of the field on which two Michigan WRs are drawing zone defenders deep; he should throw the out to Smith, who is probably going to have the first if the ball is thrown. Then he should hit Grady on the improv but doesn't, instead scrambling for a few yards. This was an easy read he biffed. (BR, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, EO1H. Give Michigan an extra 18 yards here and they can go for it. Penalty is a killer. I can see why they punted: hard to have a ton of faith in Robinson at that exact instant after he'd blown three straight plays.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 1
I don't understand what they're doing with Webb here. They send him out to block no one; if he just blocks down on Clayborn, Robinson is in a ton of space running away from a MLB. Instead they just send him down to block no one at all. So Robinson hands off (ZR +1, RPS -1). Omameh(-1) and Khoury(-1) get killed by the playside DT and Shaw has nowhere to go. Schilling(-1) falls over so there's no backside block.
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh, Khoury, Schilling
M25 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree -1
Webb(-2) is owned by the slot LB. Just make him go inside of you and this is good yardage; instead he gets beat outside and Roundtree is tackled for loss. (CA, 3, screen)
M24 3 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Pass Drag Hemingway 4
Same patterns they ran on the third and eight before the half; this time Robinson checks down to the inside drag, which is caught but has no chance. Maybe should have looked at Grady deeper, but had to step up in the pocket because Clayborn beat Huyge(-1) around the corner and probably felt he had to dump it. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Huyge -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 13 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 12
Show one-high and back out. Michigan rolls out and tries to hit a pass but Iowa has covered everything reasonably well and Robinson doesn't feel comfortable throwing. He cuts up just as Omameh(+1) gets an open-field shove on Clayborn, using his speed to pick up the first down. He takes a hit as he goes down and comes up holding his hand; he is done for the day.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh RUN-:
M27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Koger 8
Forcier in; inside zone fake to a short hitch to the TE. PA had drawn the LB; open, hit with good timing; good YAC. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M35 2 2 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Shaw 5
Playside double gets the DT blown back (+0.5 Schilling, Khoury), but Omameh(-1) lost the DT to the inside and there's no hole. Shaw(+1) reads it, leaps over the fallen Omameh, and hits a cutback hole; Khoury gets the other half of his plus for shoving Hunter along the line and giving Shaw a gap for the first.
RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Khoury, Shaw RUN-: Omameh
M40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Scramble Forcier 5
Hitches on this play covered, partially because Koger blocked Clayborn before releasing and knocked him back into a perfect accidental zone for his route. Forcier starts scrambling as Omameh lost Daniels on the interior; Khoury does well to pick him up but Forcier's moving. He cuts upfield into space, diving forward for a decent gain. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
M45 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 0
High snap Forcier manages to corral; this looks like a stretch but they're not blocking it like one so I guess it's inside. Omameh(-1) can't seal the playside DT; Khoury(+1) does a great job of getting control of and blocking the backside guy downfield. Shaw cuts back and would have a lane but for Schilling(-1) falling, providing a lane for an unblocked LB to force Shaw upfield and into traffic.
M45 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 4
This is very well covered but Forcier chucks it anyway, away from the defender and in a spot only his receiver can get it. Hemingway makes a diving grab to set up fourth and inches. (CA+, 1, protection 1/1)
M49 4 1 I-form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 15
Iowa tightens the line so there are two 1-tech guys right over Khoury; the backside guy is unblocked and lunges for Forcier, tackling him as he makes the handoff. He does make the handoff. Schilling(+1) and Khoury(+1) pick up the other NT and deposit him a couple yards downfield; Huyge gets an okay block on Clayborn and then McColgan(+1) thumps him backwards, opening up a crease; Hopkins sails through it.
RUN+: McColgan, Khoury, Schilling RUN-:
O36 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Stonum Inc
Corner blitz on Stonum's side of the line finds Stonum open after he forced the safety to respect the vertical route; Forcier wings it wide. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Improv Stonum Inc
Iowa again covering these short hitches so Forcier starts wheeling around; Michigan is not switching their routes and Iowa is dropping into three deep (RPS -1). Forcier wanders around and tries to find Stonum at the sideline for a few; throw is high and at the sidelines and isn't brought in. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
O36 3 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Drag Stonum 9
Same route set from before; why no ever the outside drag that actually has people dragging defenders too deep? Stonum has a step on his guy and Forcier hits him right in stride, allowing him to turn it up for near first-down yardage. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
O27 4 1 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Waggle inside hitch Roundtree 12
Iowa way less aggressive this time, probably because M tips pass by bringing in a TE at FB instead of McColgan. Roundtree sits down inside as Iowa players fly out towards Koger on his little flat route (which was open and I thought he should have taken). Forcier sees it and throws a nice catchable pass high so no one knocks it down en route; Roundtree goes up to get it. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O15 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Smith 0
The fumble. Schilling(-1) gets chucked by Klug and then Koger(-1) just runs right by him, allowing the guy to kill Smith in the backfield; Smith fumbles.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling, Koger
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-21, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Deep slant Hemingway Inc
Corner blitz; Forcier looks to the other side of the field and finds Hemingway open on a deep slant since a shallower one sucked in Hunter. Throw is high to get it over hands but catchable; it is dropped. Hopkins whiffed on his block on Clayborn as M slid its protection. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Hopkins -1)
M35 2 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Belly Hopkins 5
Omameh(+1) blasts the playside DT down the line. Dorrestein(-1) is moving to the second level but gets a push from the playside DE that makes him also block the already blown-out Iowa DT, leaving the playside LB free. Webb(+1) kicks that DE out and Hopkins runs directly upfield for decent yardage. Unblocked MLB does tackle.
RUN+: Omameh, Webb RUN-: Dorrestein
M40 3 5 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Improv ? Int
Forcier drops back and can't find anyone on his first read, at which point three Iowa DL come through the line, with Schilling, Omameh, and Huyge all picking up minuses. Forcier rolls out and throws a completely terrible INT right at an Iowa defender. (BR, 0, protection 0/3, Omameh, Schilling, Huyge.)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-21, 4 min 3rd Q. That interception is a swing of 60 yards of field position relative to an average punt, or would be but for a personal foul on Iowa that brings it back to about the spot of the INT.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Penalty False start Schilling -5
Lewan returns. He does not cause the crowd to ask for his doom by false starting here.
M10 1 15 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Deep slant Hemingway 11
Again the slant opens up with an interior slant dragging a zone defender along. Pitch, catch, tackle. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M21 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 9
Easy again; thrown with great timing as Hyde plays conservatively. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
M30 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Smith 14
Virtual replay of the first TD with the three WR side drawing a lot of attention and Smith beating the LB over him on the slant despite the guy having inside leverage; he bites on the out step. Good route. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
M44 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 4
Just five guys in the box as the trips drags two LBs to the outside. Michigan runs right at the five guys and can't get much because Klug beats a double from Khoury(-1) and Schilling, hopping inside and forcing Smith to bounce it behind. Khoury didn't get enough push on him to seal him before releasing. Smith does cut behind Klug as Schilling pancakes him but this robs Khoury of his angle on the LB in the box and forces Smith to the side with all the dudes on it.
RUN+: RUN-: Khoury
M48 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Improv Hitch Stonum 7
Forcier looks for Hemingway but decides that hitch at the sticks is covered, at which point Lewan(-1) gets run around by Clayborn; Forcier has to roll out. I'm going to toss in a bonus point for the protection because Forcier has all kinds of room to roll because Dorrestein walled off the playside DT and Webb and Smith took turns on the DE, giving Forcier a relaxing amount of time to survey. Stonum comes back to the ball and Forcier hits him with a hitch for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/3, Lewan -1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Rollout stop and go Stonum Inc
Michigan rolls the pocket, then Forcier stops as he pulls up and tries to exploit the safety over-reacting to the roll. Stonum suckers the CB in and gets open deep; the half roll has gotten the safety out of position to defend this and Michigan has an opportunity. Throw is good but Stonum seems to lay out unnecessarily (trip?) and the pass clangs off his hands. Would have been incomplete anyway because of the dive. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O45 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Post Roundtree Inc
Max pro and a three-man route. Schilling(-1) gets beaten by Daniels and Forcier has a guy coming at him up the middle; must throw. He's got a window to hit Roundtree on a post, but it's a small one. He's close but it's in front of him. Good timing, tough throw to see and make, but did not quite execute. (IN, 0, protection 1/2, Schilling -1)
O45 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Improv Hitch Stokes 11
Forcier gets happy feet here and starts rolling around when protection is decent. His roll puts a stunting DT in his face but Stokes is breaking open on a hitch anyway, so Forcier chucks it accurately. Stokes spins through one tackle then drags Hunter two yards past the sticks. Nice play. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep slant Stonum 17
Iowa adjusting to this but it's not enough. Sash is sitting down in a robber zone and attempts to blow Stonum up, but the ball's already in and caught by the time he gets there; Stonum runs through that hit and almost breaks into the open field; corner drags him down by one foot. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O17 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 6
Iowa with a late shift and stunt that gets Klug through Khoury(-1) and the other DT almost past Schilling(+1) before he reacts and knocks him out of the hole. Khoury then tackles Klug and gets away with it. Lewan is doing a good job on Clayborn but he manages to get a handful of jersey as Smith passes. This slows him and ends up being beneficial, allowing Dorrestein(+1) to get a bizarre but effective block on the MLB; Smith(+1) runs through the tackle and picks his way for decent yardage.
RUN+: Smith, Schilling, Dorrestein RUN-: Khoury
O11 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Fade Stonum Inc (Pen +6)
Slant fake to a fade from Stonum fools Hyde. Hyde bangs him and then continues impeding his progress with the ball in the air; the flag is obvious. Probably should have been a PI with the ball at the two but was called holding so it's half the distance. Not charted.
O5 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Hopkins 3
Hopkins displays surprising agility here. Interior double kicks out the DT but Iowa is slanting Binns inside of Dorrestein and there's not going to be a hole. Dorrestein starts driving Binns further inside, turning a nothing play into an opportunity and actually gets +1 here. Webb(+1) heads outside to block a scraping LB and Hopkins shows good agility for a beef machine to follow him, getting sliced down by that LB making a nice play. Yes, you can get +3 for a 3 yard run if it's from the five.
RUN+: Hopkins, Dorrestein, Webb RUN-:
O2 2 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Hopkins 2
Same play. This time Hopkins says eff it and just goes straight upfield; a gap-shooting Iowa LB has a narrow lane and a slight adjustment in Hopkins's path results in Hop running through an arm tackle. From there Omameh(+1) pancakes Ballard and Khoury(+1) improvises, pulling around the falling pair to pop Hunter; Hopkins is untouched into the endzone.
RUN+: Hopkins, Omameh, Khoury RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-28, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep hitch Stonum 18
Deep in the hole again; Iowa gets a delay on Stonum and the safety is coming over to club. Forcier pumps and then lays a ball in that takes Stonum off his feet just as the safety comes over to nail the guy; Stonum avoids the hit thanks to the throw and makes a moderately difficult catch. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Pass Out Grady 8
Grady catches a quick out and then makes a linebacker charging out miss, turning five yards into eight. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O49 2 2 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 3
Another stunt from the DTs. Schilling(+1) seals off Klug, preventing him from getting into the backfield, and Lewan(+1) kicks out Clayborn; Smith does have to deal with a DT right in the hole but manages to fall forward for the first.
RUN+: Lewan, Schilling RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Fly Hemingway 46
Slot LB blitzes and it looks like Hyde massively busts a coverage on what should be three-deep. Forcier recognizes and tosses a soft floater that hits Hemingway in stride at the five for a touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-35, 10 min 4th Q. This color guy is outstanding, by the way.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep slant Stonum 13
Same story, no adjustment this time from Iowa: double slants and Forcier hits the deeper one when the inside zone is cleared. Disadvantage of running a 4-3 all the time. At this point it's RPS+1 time. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
M44 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Hitch Stonum 11
Hyde bails out deep and Stonum pulls up; Forcier nails him with excellent timing. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep hitch Stonum Inc
Hyde makes a good play to force Stonum OOB; this is a quick throw that Forcier thinks he has but doesn't because of the chuck. Not sure what to chart this as. He had an out he could have gotten a few yards on, but this isn't a terrible read or throw even though it has no chance. I guess this is a very weak (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
O45 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep slant Stonum 11
Same thing, man: double slants. What does it mean? (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Fly Hemingway 31
Adjustment, as Iowa goes to a three-man line and rushes only those three. Michigan slides the protection, which is dumb because that leaves a DE one on one with Smith. Smith does what he can but that's only "delay the guy." Forcier pump fakes, then rolls away from the pressure a bit. He pulls up and launches a bomb to Hemingway on the other side of the field. Hemingway's beat his guy but the pass is well short; Hemingway adjusts to the ball much better than the corner and since it's short the safety is not a factor. Hemingway high-points the ball and brings the catch in. Uh... (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O3 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 5-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 3
Forcier pulls. Not sure why since the backside DE is getting blocked but he does seem to have a lane up the middle. That lane closes as Clayborn comes off Lewan (a yard downfield so no minus); Webb(+1) is blocking a LB and has control of him, pushing him downfield as he tries to fight inside and banging him into a filling safety; Forcier(+1) bounces outside as Clayborn dives at his feet and lunges for the endzone. Not Denard, but shifty.
RUN+: Forcier, Webb RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-35, 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Tampa 3-4 Pass Fly Stonum Inc
This is very well covered by both the corner and the safety coming over and should not be thrown. Inaccurate anyway. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
M37 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Tampa 3-4 Pass Sack ? -9
Lewan(-2) smoked by Clayborn on a three man rush, forcing Forcier to scramble around. He slips during this yakety sax exhibition, but this was going to end badly either way. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Lewan -2)
M28 3 19 Shtogun trips 1 0 4 Tampa 3-4 Pass ? ? Int
Dorrestein(-2) smoked by Binns; Forcier steps up and throws to? no one. This is some kind of miscommunication or insanity, because only Iowa players can catch this ball. (BR, N/A, protection 0/2, Dorrestein -2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 28-38, 2 min 4th Q; EOG.

That was schizophrenic.

Yeah, no kidding. Michigan went from ground-based to lighting up the sky with Denard's exit—I didn't even register a Zone Read +/- for Tate. Iowa didn't cope well with the change, unless they did by picking Tate off twice. –7 turnover margin over two weeks makes evaluation difficult.

I heard on the talk radios that Tate should start now.

Riiiight. About that, first we're going to need—

Charts.

Yes, with a z:

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? - 44%
UConn 2 15(6) - - 3 2 - - 2 - 68%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - - 71%
UMass 4 10(3) - 1 1 - 1 1 - - 73%
BGSU 1 4(1) - - - - - - - 1/1 N/A
Indiana 2 8(2) 1(1) 5(1) - - - - - 9/11 66%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 N/A 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 3/4 64%

TATE FORCIER

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
Iowa 3 14 1 2 4 - - 1 1 N/A 74%

Tate's number is justifiable since he averaged 9.2 YPA on 26 attempts; again, since the system doesn't weight things like throwing an awful interception more heavily the first Tate INT is not anything more than a single BR. (I'm not that concerned about the second INT. If you don't try something there you're facing fourth and nineteen and you're pretty much done anyway.)

Robinson, meanwhile, completed a lot of passes but didn't get many yards on them. He ended his day with a Scheelhaase-like 7.3 yards per completion. So the CAs there aren't inspiring, and neither is the DSR, a season low. For the second straight week Denard killed his own drives. On Michigan's third drive he threw an easy hitch well upfield and forced Hemingway to dive to catch it. That turned a sure first down into three yards. Lewan false-started and then he threw the ugly interception on the next play. On Michigan's final drive of the first half they were moving the ball, the drive stalled entirely because of Denard:

  • First down: long handoff to Stonum is thrown in the dirt and Michigan only gets two yards.
  • Second down: Webb is open on a hitch he can turn up for a first; Denard pumps for no reason and then throws it over Webb's head.
  • Third down: Denard misses a read and does not dump it down to Smith, then does not see Grady as he rolls, then scrambles for four yards.

He was off.

Tate start?

Come on now. I think Michigan could have put Denard back in the game but given his shaky performance throwing and the score they decided to roll with Forcier after he drove them down the field on the Smith fumble drive. In the press conference afterwards Rodriguez said he'd re-aggravated a shoulder injury he'd been dealing with. If that's healed and he returns to the accuracy levels he displayed in the first few weeks of the season he's the guy.

Michigan might be more confident they can turn to Forcier if Michigan's offense isn't doing anything, but that doesn't seem particularly likely.

How did the offensive line do?

For that we'll need another chart:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge - - - Did not register a run plus minus, which is probably a win against Clayborn
Lewan 8 1 7 The biggest part of limiting Clayborn to one solo tackle and two assists.
Schilling 10.5 8 2.5 Won his battle but not by much.
Molk 3 - 3 Good start, then sideline.
Omameh 6.5 9.5 -3 Struggled in a fashion similar to his first start against a beefy UConn tackle. Probably still progress since the Iowa guy is probably better.
Khoury 10 7.5 2.5 Had his share of issues but was not a liability; backup situation this year so much better than the Moosman shuffle last year.
Dorrestein 6 2.5 3.5 Binns also had one solo.
Webb 5 2 3 Opportunities reduced.
Koger 1 1 0 Eh.
TOTAL 50 31.5 18.5 A solid day against a very tough line.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 8 1 7 Could not find space often.
Gardner - - - DNP
Forcier 1 - 1 Shifty TD.
Shaw 1 - 1 Heal, MFer
Smith 3 1 2 Okay, but still averaged 3.9 YPC.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Hopkins 4 - 4 Effective in short yardage, getting more trust, led backs in YPC, good blocker.
McColgan 1 - 1 One play but made it count.
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 18 2 16 Did what they could, with Hopkins grinding in short yardage and .
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum - - - .
Odoms - - - --
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree - - -  
Grady - - - --
Gallon 2 1 1 --
Hemingway - 1 -1 --
TOTAL 2 2 0 No screens, no long ones, no numbers.
Metrics

Also while we're talking line we should throw in the PROTECTION METRIC: 54/68, Lewan –3, Huyge –4, Schilling –2, Khoury –1, Omameh –1, Dorrestein –2, Hopkins –1. That's about 80%, which is good, and on the last drive-type substance when Iowa was all out of GAF and could rush like madmen Michigan was 1/5 with Dorrestein and Lewan picking up –2s.

This would be a good point to explain Taylor Lewan, the beginning and end of all things.

After the third Lewan penalty Michigan Stadium was ready to throttle the guy. (Good thing it's impossible to get guns in the stadium!) It would have taken most of the stadium to do so, but the "AWWWWWWWWW" coming from the stands suggested it was possible.

Huyge came in, and everyone thought that was a good idea to settle Lewan down. This provided a window in which the Huyge/Lewan battle—such as it is after Lewan cemented a place in the starting lineup—was once and forever resolved in the exact same way the Demens/Ezeh battle was: by some Iowa guy running over the backup. In Ezeh's case this was Iowa OL Julian Vandevelde. In Huyge's it was Adrian Clayborn.

Huyge wasn't terrible but when you play a third of a game and you don't get a single +/- on the run chart you're being avoided to some extent and just doing okay at when you're not. He's got a –4 in pass protection; Lewan has a –3 in twice the time. Lewan was +7 on the ground, tied with Denard for the best score.

He's good. The Clayborn line: one solo tackle, two assists, a half sack on the last desperate Michigan drive. Last year Clayborn had 70 tackles, 20 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Against Penn State earlier this year Clayborn had ten tackles, three TFLs, and a sack. He's a holy lock first-rounder, and Taylor Lewan all but erased him.  Also, his second false start does not seem to exist. Presenting the first and only clip of a false start penalty in the history of football:

Pinky twitched or something.

That was a star-making performance. Lewan == Long has gone from optimistic ceiling to serious possibility.

And the rest of the guys?

I thought they were "dominant" in the game column at the beginning of the week; they were not. The rest of the line settled in an area around +3 each save Omameh, who again had difficulty with a big strong DT and finished in the negative.

Losing Molk was a chunk of that. While Khoury didn't seem out of place he's the backup for a reason and his lack of experience contributed to a couple of screwups; the occasional iffy snap that threw timing off was not included in the numbers. I don't think I saw him get a tough seal like this all day:

Even so a redshirt sophomore backup notching a positive number against Iowa's veteran, deep line is encouraging.

However, Michigan's inability to crease those guys consistently was key until Forcier came in. Iowa bent but did not break because their defensive line afforded them the ability to put a guy over Michigan's slot receiver to erase the bubble screen and keep two deep safeties; Iowa spent the bulk of the day with six guys in the box against Denard Robinson and did not get crushed. That's why Iowa's defense is so tough: they can do that when in theory it should get you crushed against up to seven blockers.

For a given definition of "crushed," anyway. Thanks to turnovers, bad field position, and the &#*$ing field goal kickers Michigan exited the first half with 223 yards and 7 points. That's bend but don't break. We've got break sooner or later. Also when the Tate Forcier Air Show started going off, it was not seriously bothered by pass rush until the last drive. That's an accomplishment.

Weekly plea for Hopkins.

Weekly plea for Hopkins, except he's clearly getting more run as the season progresses. I like his vision and surprising agility. A lot of beef machine types would not be able to make this cut:

And a lot of freshmen would not peel off to effectively block a guy who's just chucked away Schilling:

Rumors about fumbling in practice dog him—Rodriguez said Smith is "not a fumbler" after the game, thereby implying that some other guys were—and that's a good reason for his time to be limited. I'm anxious for those problems to recede.

His size makes him a far more effective blocker than anyone else Michigan has available. Unless Brandon Moore emerges (possible), I think we're going to see a lot more two tailback sets in 2011. Webb will be gone and Hopkins brings that kind of blocking.

Are you forgetting something?

Oh, right. Receivers:

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum 3 1/3 3/4 4/4 6 1/3 6/9 15/15
Odoms : ( - - - 1 1/1 3/4 11/11
Hemingway - 2/2 1/1 6/7 3 2/2 3/3 13/16
Jackson - - - - - - - -
Roundtree - - - 1/1 7 2/3 3/5 26/27
Grady - - - 1/1 4 1/1 2/2 7/8
T. Robinson - - - - - 0/1 - 2/3
Gallon - - - 2/2 1 - - 3/3
                 
Koger - - 1/1 2/2 - - 2/3 6/6
Webb - - - 1/1 - - - 2/2
                 
Smith - - - 2/2 1 - 0/1 8/8
Shaw - - - - 1 0/1 0/1 4/4
McColgan - - - - - - - 1/1
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

The receivers had a great day, with just one drop, that by Hemingway, and three very tough catches on poorly thrown balls. (Stonum's may not have actually been a catch but it was ruled one.) Hemingway bailed Forcier out on the late bomb and made up for his drop with some key conversions on tough balls. With the screen game limited and downfield runs almost nonexistent, all they had to do was catch and they did.

Also Rock Paper Scissors was 5 – 5 = 0, though it could have been slanted more heavily in Michigan's direction if I'd started dinging Iowa for giving up all those identical slants earlier.

Heroes?

Lewan turned Adrian Clayborn into just a guy. Stonum and Hemingway were major positives in the second-half comeback.

Goats?

Lewan helped kill two drives with actual penalties and may have killed a third if that false start wasn't phantom. And… yes… Denard's two-week streak of playing like a sophomore was extremely harmful.

What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?

Penn State's injury situation will have a lot to say about that, but Michigan has to get Robinson healthy and find enough of a tailback rushing game to force teams out of two-deep coverages. If anyone can do what Iowa did—which not only removed the bubble but removed all those games Michigan plays with it for good yardage—Michigan's base offense is going to have to slog downfield and will be vulnerable to the kinds of mistakes that have plagued them these last two weeks. (Aside for TOP junkies: Michigan won TOP against Iowa because their drives weren't two-play TDs. Was that helpful to either offense or defense? Not so much.)

I'm not sure whether this Denard shoulder injury is a good thing or a bad thing. Will it heal? Is it just an excuse? Is it more evidence that he will shatter into a thousand pieces? If his inaccuracy the last couple weeks was a temporary shoulder thing that will heal and he can get back to his earlier sharpshooting—even chucking short routes was a problem this week—it's good, I guess.

The other skill positions are getting better as the season progresses. The outside receivers are establishing themselves as good options and if Hopkins and Shaw can get an even rotation with Smith Michigan will have a variety of different looks they can go to depending on what's working well. Smith showed he's an asset as a quasi-slot in this game, as linebackers have difficulty covering him in man and zone opens up those double slants.

On the line, Lewan showed he should be able to neutralize any defensive end in the conference if he can just keep from going Yosemite Sam on the world and the rest of the line showed itself slightly inferior to Iowa's excellent DL. I'll take it.

Comments

Preview: Bowling Green 2010

Preview: Bowling Green 2010 Comment Count

Brian September 24th, 2010 at 2:07 PM

Note: for more on the BGSU perspective check out Oriental Andrew's Other People's Pressers series.

bgsu_logoEssentials

WHAT Michigan vs Bowling Green
WHERE Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN Noon Eastern, September 25th 2010
THE LINE Michigan –25.5
TELEVISION The saddest ESPN2 game ever
WEATHER Partly cloudy, around 60 degrees
0% chance of rain

Run Offense vs. Bowling Green

This should be the now-usual demolition job. Michigan's currently the #6 rushing offense in the country, averaging almost six yards a carry. Denard and all that.

On the other side of the ball, Bowling Green has struggled badly against their opening slate of Troy, Tulsa, and Marshall, ceding 5.3 YPC against teams not featuring Denard and all that. The slate:

Opponent Att Yards TD YPC
Troy 43 207 2 4.8
Tulsa 40 190 1 4.8
Marshall 26 185 3 7.1

They're 98th in rushing defense. By the Mathlete's reckoning they're 95th and giving up an extra touchdown per game than a hypothetically average team would; Michigan is eighth nationally at +11. If Bowling Green even slows Michigan that will be a win for them and an ominous omen for Michigan. They probably won't live up to the bounty promised by results to date—getting that +18 on the ground would be a truly stupendous day,.

One point in BG's favor: they kind of sort of shut down Marshall's primary tailback, who averaged 2.9 YPC on 14 attempts. Unfortunately, some other guy had a 68-yard run… and six other carries that averaged 8.8 yards apiece. They are not so good at the run defense.

denard-robinson-is-made-of-dilithium

They seem to know this. This is their plan to stop Robinson, according to FalconBlog:

TWB: How do you expect the Falcons to game-plan against Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense?

FB: Answer 1:  Not to give anything away, but it will include religious conversions, incense, and the sacrifice of a small animal.
Answer 2:  You can game plan for Denard Robinson?
Answer 3:  Let him score on every play and take our chances with the defense.
Answer 4:  OK.  Seriously.

My guess is that we will game plan for Michigan by trying to limit the damage Robinson does on the ground and try to force him to hurt us in the air.  I think he will get his yards, but we have to tackle him when we get the chance.

Not to get all arrogant or nothin', but Michigan's main concern in the run game should be finding another tailback to join the Shaw/Smith pairing. Fitzgerald Toussaint is "probable" this week and did dress against UMass; he and Cox should see some carries starting in the second quarter. Hopefully Michigan will get enough breathing room to limit Denard's carries.

Key Matchup: TAYLOR LEWAN HATES DONKEYS (if his ankle is okay)

Pass Offense vs. Bowling Green

BG is less of a disaster zone here thanks to the generosity of Marshall's quarterback, who served up four interceptions last week en route to a 71.2 passer rating. Their dossier to date:

Opponent Att Cmp Yards TD INT PCT% YPA
Troy 41 28 268 1 2 68% 6.5
Tulsa 48 27 356 2 1 56% 7.4
Marshall 47 20 191 1 4 43% 4.1

Not bad, but not consistent. The Mathlete has them a field goal below average; Michigan is +5 in their games against I-A opponents and saw Robinson put up a +15 in just 14 throws against UMass. BG will be a tougher matchup unless they get killed on play action after Michigan starts gashing them on the ground; they're 21st nationally in pass efficiency defense. They're only 87th in sacks, though, and a big chunk of their success against opponent passing attacks has been those seven interceptions.

The key for Michigan will be keeping themselves out of obvious passing downs and attacking linebackers and secondary members who are anticipating run plays. If Michigan has the sort of success on the ground the above section implies they will, Robinson should have another efficient day throwing to single covered receivers and the occasional guy who's ridiculously wide open.

Key Matchup: Denard realizing when he needs to put some air under the ball if Roy Roundtree is open deep.

Run Defense vs. Bowling Green

Bowling Green is not much of a running team but will it matter against Michigan? Let's hope so, since they might be more of one with their starting quarterback out. After two weeks in which BG threw almost two-thirds of the time, BG flipped that in the Marshall game. That's partially the injury, partially a desire to run out the clock late.

Either way, the results weren't great. Starting tailback Willie Geter netted exactly 100 yards on 31 carries, an average of 3.2; his backup did a half-yard better on six carries. Michigan's run defense might not be much better than Marshall's, but it probably won't be a worse. Or that much worse, anyway. The Herd is currently 86th nationally.

Michigan and BG are both about average nationally to the Mathlete, but those numbers don't include the bludgeration Michigan suffered against UMass. Reasonable expectations are yielding Geter's best day of the year… but not by much!

Key Matchup: Obi Ezeh against his many critics, those many critics against critics of the critics, and the original critics' criticism of the criticism of the critics' critics.

University of Tulsa Photography Pass Defense vs. Bowling Green

This is likely to be the bulk of Bowling Green's offense even with the expected absence of starting quarterback Matt Schliz, who seriously needs a T in his last name. Schliz put up 43 and 40 attempts in his two healthy games, averaging 5.1 and 6.6 YPA, which fits in with descriptions of the Clawfense as an offense mad for short passes.

In his absence it looks like Bowling Green will go with more of the same, except not that good:

The Wolverine Blog: How will the injury to quarterback Matt Schilz affect Bowling Green’s pass-heavy offense?

FalconBlog: The injury to Schilz will definitely have an impact on our offense.  He is the only QB on the team who has started a game, and has by far the most game experience.  Furthermore, he won the job pretty handily.  Our other QBs are talented but untested in game situations, and this is the Big House.  Now, they are both from the same general mold—drop back passers who are not real threats to run, so we probably can pretty much keep the same game plan in, only with a skinnier playbook.  I would expect the biggest impact to be accuracy and facing pressure.

Aaron Pankratz, who seriously needs an S in his last name, came in when Schliz was hurt, completing five of eight passes for 111(!) yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He may or may not start, with a walk-on the other primary option.

Whoever is the starter will make it a point to pepper Kamar Jorden with passes. The JUCO transfer already has 34 catches this year despite having a 42-yard Hail Mary and a 79-yard screen pass called back against Tulsa. The catch pictured above was brought in. BGSU's next leading receiver has twelve catches. The Falcons tend to have eyes for one guy—last year Freddie Barnes was the nation's leading receiver with a mindboggling 155 catches for 1770 yards.

Key Matchup: Kovacs and Gordon tackling. An offense like this puts a lot of pressure on the wing defenders to buzz flats, make solid tackles, and set up plenty of third downs that will eventually see the punt team show up. At least, that's the idea.

Special Teams

Guh.

Key Matchup: STOP KICKING THE DAMN BALL

Intangibles

Kittens still not warranted for a spread basically as big as the one against UMass even after, you know, the UMass game.

her life is in your hands

But, yeah, Michigan: her life is in your hands.

Aw, don't say that.

Her life is in your hands.

Cheap Thrills

Worry if...

  • Bowling Green's wack ground game is consistently picking up yards, like 6-8 yards.
  • Cam Gordon is tested and doesn't do so good.
  • AIGH KICKING GAME.

Cackle with knowing glee if...

  • Taylor Lewan reprises the donkey ridin'.
  • A tailback emerges from the depths and impresses, probably Toussaint
  • Denard adds another tool to his Batman utility belt.

Fear/Paranoia Level: 1 (Baseline 5; –1 for Denard!, –1 for Bowling Green's Run Defense!, –1 for The Combination Of The Two!, –1 for MAC Team, –1 for MAC Team Minus Their Starting Quarterback, –1 for Passing Oriented MAC Team Minus Their Starting Quarterback, +1 for Oh God What Was That Last Week, +1 for There's A Toledo Never Forget, Too)

Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for All That Stuff From Last Week Pretty Much Except With Slightly Less Force, +1 for But Not Really Any Less Force Since I Bet UMass Would Spank BG Minus Their Starting Quarterback, +1 for This Week Was Highly Annoying And Michigan Actually Won, +1 for Hey Who Wants A CHOCOLATE BOWL GAME, +1 for Constant Rich Rodriguez Job Savin' Campaign.)

Loss will cause me to... wrap myself into a eight-foot taco, label it "GIANT FOOD," and hope Taylor Lewan walks by hungry.

Win will cause me to... read hopeful signs into the defense's performance even if unwarranted.

The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:

Michigan wins.

Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:

  • Linebacker bounceback day, with Mouton having a good-ish game and Ezeh approaching zero.
  • This time we finally get some carries for non-Shaw/Smith tailbacks, with Toussaint getting half a dozen.
  • We get to see some backup quarterbacks this time around.
  • Michigan, 46-21.

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