Containment Field Down! Run For Your Lives!

Containment Field Down! Run For Your Lives!

Submitted by Brian on October 29th, 2012 at 12:27 PM

10/27/2012 – Michigan 9, Nebraska 23 – 5-3, 3-1 Big Ten

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Eric Upchurch

Well, it finally happened.

Pundits and opponent fans have been predicting the demise of Denard Robinson ever since he picked up that snap against Western Michigan, but the series of bumps and bruises that frightened Michigan fans every third game had never really cost Michigan anything. In 2010, Tate Forcier came off the bench to lead Michigan to a frenetic victory over Illinois and nearly did the same against Iowa. Last year, Devin Gardner shepherded Michigan through the second half of the Illinois game. When Denard's boo-boos knocked him out for halves instead of plays, Michigan got through just fine.

They were always tempting fate, though, and upped their bet that the football gods' vast malevolence was laser-focused on the Iowa running back situation by moving Devin Gardner to wide receiver in the fall. That seemed like a risk worth taking.

Unfortunately, the containment field is down.

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yes, it's true. this man has no elbow.

First it leaked from the Iowa running backs to their offensive line, which suffered two season-ending injuries minutes apart last week. This week, the Big Ten set to murdering football in the morning and afternoon, then this happened to Marcus Lattimore's knee:

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artist's conception

By the time Friday night rolled around the ambient malevolence levels in college football were so high that Notre Dame won a marquee matchup to enter the national championship shortlist.

So of course Denard would be knocked out of a potentially fun, definitely important game by falling harmlessly to the turf, thus turning the rest of it into a death-march trudge. AIRBHG is no longer contained. The forces of wheeeee that (mostly) preserved Denard through three years of running at top speed into Manti Te'o have been overrun by the forces of grinding doom football. Now we're all boned. Hail Saban.

And so it came to pass that words never before spoken—words so impossible CFL teams who don't even think it's weird they're all named "Roughriders" cock an eyebrow at their assemblage—came to pass.

Tate Forcier isn't walking through that door.

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I don't know, man. I felt ill for most of the second half but it's not like anyone is at fault other than everyone. I mean, if RR doesn't implode or Forcier is a normal person who goes to classes or Michigan doesn't hire Hoke three weeks before signing day, maybe the guy backing up Robinson has a prayer of moving the ball forward. Maybe the wide receiving corps is not so awful that it must include Devin Gardner.

In the aftermath you've got the columns declaring Gardner's move to WR a stupid idea, but I haven't seen anyone reference the column questioning it they wrote before last weekend. It's easy to be a backseat driver after whatever that was. Meanwhile, Gardner is this crappy receiving corps' #2 WR, #1 if you discount Jeremy Gallon's 150-some yards on screens.

Gardner's not good. The alternative is throwing more than four balls in the first half to Jeremy Jackson. They've needed their crappy, crappy receiver who is also a quarterback even if he is dropping a 50-yard pass in most games. Whether Gardner is worth an extra three scores against Nebraska is… debatable. His performances to date suggest he is not.

Michigan was always rolling the dice on Denard's health, and that was the move to make. Didn't work. That's life as a rickety program that's endured two coaching transitions in three years—when you have to go to the bench you get tumbleweeds.

We're now entering the period of time when most program shortcomings can be blamed on Rich Rodriguez's recruiting, which is only a slight transition from the period of time when most program shortcomings could be blamed on Lloyd Carr's recruiting fade and represents very little improvement when the one completely awesome guy at the most important position is removed from the equation. It turns out that Michigan 2012 minus Denard Robinson is pretty much Michigan 2008, and that the only thing saving us from the abyss was Denard staring down a decision to stay or go and not pulling the Mallett.

He stayed, but in the game that probably decided if he would be a champion or not he watched from the sideline because his elbow hit the turf the wrong way. Malevolence is out of control these days.

Media

Eric just posted the photos. You can enjoy them. You will not enjoy One Frame At A Time.  BTN highlights:

Also SD highlights from Michigan's official site and a Nebraska-oriented highlight reel; actual highlights start 3:20 in.

DOOOOOOOOOOOOM BULLETS

Injury item. So the thing is this:

Boo Boo[1]

Hoover Street Rag

It's the same thing that knocked him out briefly against Illinois. 

"He's got that nerve (injury), he hits it the wrong way (or) gets hit (and it's hard)," Hoke said. "The difference (today) was he didn't come back in. But, he gets better as the game goes on." …

Asked whether or not he was concerned Robinson wouldn't be available next week, Hoke replied "No." He also said the normal rehabilitation process for this type of injury is mainly rest and time.

He'll probably be fine by Tuesday and start against Gophers. Every time his elbow brushes up against the softest kitten in Minnesota the collective intake of breath will be audible. Sounds fun, and by "fun" I mean "paralyzing."

Frank Clark is also expected to be back next week, which is good because Mario Ojemudia limped off the field Saturday and was spotted in a boot today. He's probably sprained his ankle and won't be available. 

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3_thumbBrady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Craig Roh. Beastmode sack, generally unblockable, got a number of those stat things for himself instead of everyone else, as he usually does.

Honorable mention. Quinton Washington, Desmond Morgan, Kenny Demens.

Epic Double Point standings.

3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama), Drew Dileo (Michigan State), Craig Roh(Nebraska).

We won time of possession! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Time of possession is a garbage stat.

That said, there is a clear narrative of decline in the defensive performance. Nebraska's first eight drives gained a total of 148 yards. Their last four gained 178. It's not easy going out there after a blizzard of three-and-outs. This would be better measured by plays instead of TOP.

 

 

BLAME BLAME BLAME BLAME. Why are we here at QB? LET'S BLAME PEOPLE WOO

  • Rodriguez's horrible recruiting at the skill positions: 40%. If Michigan has a decent deep threat at WR, Gardner is playing QB and Michigan may salvage that game. Instead, RR recruited receivers are… 2011: nobody. 2010: Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson, DJ Williamson. 2009: Je'Ron Stokes. The only one of those guys to see the field is Jackson, and he's essentially a skinny tight end. That 2011 class may not be RR's fault, because there were…
  • Unavoidable transition costs: 10%. RR's WR recruiting would look slightly better if Sammy Watkins was included in that group, but once he got fired Watkins was gone.
  • Darryl Stonum's inability to just do what the court tells him to: 10%. Relevant to previous two bullets: we're desperate for a guy who has three catches for Baylor. Baylor's offense is pretty good, but he can't even get on the field.
  • The Process: 20%. Maybe Michigan gets a guy more ready to play if they're not scrambling with three weeks left. Maybe Michigan recruits one dang WR in 2011.
  • Hoke not taking a quarterback last year: 10%. Always take one every year. If Michigan has another freshman around maybe he's better than Bellomy.
  • Hoke inexplicably passing on Devin Lucien: 10%. Lucien has 10 catches as a sophomore for 6-2 UCLA and their #12 offense. He still wanted to commit to Michigan after the transition, and Michigan said no by saying they wanted him to play DB.

There. It has been blamed. Seriously, though, the Lucien thing drives me nuts.

Borges take. It's official, we have the first FIRE BORGES blog post, one made through blood-soaked tears in the third quarter of that game by The Big House Blog. The Daily is also getting testy.

I'm not there. As soon as Denard went out and it became clear that Bellomy was light years away from readiness I was pretty much like whatever. There's not much you can do when you already can't run without your QB and the guy you put in is overwhelmed and throwing moonballs.

Before that happened, Michigan was moving the ball decently and poised to score to go up 10-7. That's okay I guess—but we're also talking about a team that is 90th in the country in run defense, so…

I saw this: after Nebraska got torn up by Hundley and Miller it seemed clear they went back to the drawing board and were going to play it safe. When Michigan put 4 WRs on the field, Nebraska responded with two high safeties and 5.5 guys in the box. Michigan ran the ball and got five, six, seven yards virtually every time. That's stealing.

I mean, when I was learning about the spread some years back I watched the videos Rodriguez put out about his offense. When he talked about making a run/pass decision based on the safeties, his general rule was one deep safety was a run, cover zero was pass. The idea that someone would maintain two high safeties against his offense never even crossed his mind. Nebraska was doing it, and Michigan didn't force Nebraska out of it. I don't get it, man.

The truly crappy thing is it's going to be four or five years before we have any real read on whether Borges is any good. At this point, year three is going to be Michigan rolling with a true freshman QB—probably, anyway—and four new OL starters—probably, anyway—with what's likely to be a horrible WR corps. Anything other than an awful offense next year is a point in Borges's favor. Hurrah transition.

But Auburn? No. 2004 Auburn had the following guys on that team: QB Jason Campbell (first round pick), RB Ronnie Brown (first round pick), RB Cadillac Williams (first round pick), OL Ben Grubbs (first round pick), OL Marcus McNeill (second round pick), Ben Obomanu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 37 catches in 2011), Devin Aromashodu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 26 catches in 2011), and Courtney Taylor (sixth round pick, now in CFL after 2008 multiple sclerosis(!) diagnosis). When you can call anything and have future NFL players on both ends of the exchange that doesn't say much either. 

First Nebraska touchdown: where is that? Nebraska's first touchdown was a route that exploited Michigan's man coverage. An inside receiver ran a little hitch designed to pick the outside guy, the outside guy ran a post to eliminate the safety over the top, and the inside-inside guy used the pick to get open by yards. It didn't really matter if the receiver who ended up targeted was able to get separation naturally; the play got it for him.

Where is that from Michigan? I can't recall a wide open downfield guy that got open strictly by the play design. Gardner's been open some when DBs fall over or suck up on a double move or something; not so much the play bits.

This wasn't actually a problem last year, when Michigan quarterbacks made sport of ignoring the the wide open guys Borges was machining downfield. Is it just Junior Hemingway's absence?

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Upchurch

 

I think they watched film. Congratulations, Nebraska: you are apparently the only Big Ten team to ever watch tape of the Michigan offense and leap on the throwback screen. It's not exactly hard to find, since the first time Michigan goes under center in any game is virtually guaranteed to be the throwback. It's pretty bad when everyone in the room I was watching said "throwback screen" as soon as Michigan lined up in ace.

Q: why is that play consistently run from under center? There doesn't seem to be anything about it that would require it to be.

I'M GONNA DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEBellomy. Well… that wasn't very good. The most disturbing thing was probably one of Bellomy's few completions—a ten yard wheel-ish route run by Kerridge that picked up a first down and took just decades to get where it was going. Accuracy issues and a tendency to scream in horror during plays themselves (@ right by Upchurch) can be fixed with time. The arm strength deficiency probably can't.

That particular throw made me wonder why Michigan recruited the guy at all since it seems like the #1 thing on Borges's radar screen is the ability to laser it in just inside the sideline. Hurrah Process/unavoidable transition costs. Boy, is next year's offense going to be a wow experience or what I tell ya.

Offensive line. I'm not entirely sure how they did since once Bellomy came in it was open season and Michigan settled into a routine that exposed them to the same "eight of them, five of us" problems that Michigan experienced against MSU. Hoke was not impressed.

Ryan got edged. When Michigan gave up some yards it was often on the edge when various Nebraska players broke contain. The most spectacular incident was when Abdullah broke Cam Gordon's ankles…

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Upchurch

…but it happened to Ryan a few times. When Nebraska was not bouncing it outside they were getting very little; excellent day from the interior DL and the LBs.

Roh beastmode. Also Roh, who took the opportunity presented by Abudullah being assigned to block him to destroy Martinez in a hilarious beastmode sack. If you've ever wondered why tailbacks always cut block guys on pass protection, that's why.

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Upchurch

Where is Rawls? I don't know what happened to Toussaint but at this point I'm not even irritated at Vincent Smith carries because it's not like Toussaint is consistently making yards past what the blocking gets him. Meanwhile, Rawls ends up watching, even when Michigan deep into Bellomy panic time and trying to run from under center.

I'm sure there's a reason they don't trust him yet; whatever it is it must be pretty bad. If you're down to running power from the I-form—and Michigan was—you might as well find out if your backup guy can break some tackles.

Defense: stepping towards elite. Nebraska entered the game averaging 512 yards and 42 points a game, leading the league in rushing yardage, pass efficiency, total yardage, and points per game. Michigan held the Cornhuskers to 326 yards and 23 points. Six of those points were field goal drives of two and five yards in length. Without turnovers, that's 17 points.

Relative to the quality of opponent, that's their best performance of the year by far and a major step away from criticisms that Michigan's defense hasn't actually stopped anyone. If the offense doesn't implode with Denard out those numbers are undoubtedly better, probably under 300 yards for the game for the Huskers.

Not relevant but worth it. This happened after Northwestern's win over Iowa:

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Bo Cisek, walk-on DT and new internet legend

It speaks for itself except for the fact that guy's wearing #1.

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Upchurch

Michigan + Nebraska == refereeing atrocity. The Roundtree catch that was overturned was one of those plays where it's not clear either way because of the goofy fuzzy catch rule and should be left to stand, and then you've got that terrible terrible late hit call and some terrible terrible pass interference calls both ways. This combination of teams is not good for ref sanity.

Cats! So hey like if you follow me on twitter I'm sort of sorry for retweeting like 30 cats into your timeline except not really. People started sending them to me, so clearly there was a need. Here is another cat if you are not satiated.

Here

Inside The Boxscore:

* As bad as we played, the first downs were close, 20-18 in favor of Nebraska. Of course, 6 of our first downs came from Nebraska penalties.
* Nebraska's 20 1st downs translated to 326 total yards, we managed 188 total yards. At least we were efficient with our first downs. Why get 20 or 30 yards when you only need 10?
* We won the TOP, 31:36  to 28:24. Yippee. We did control the clock early, and I was expecting that to pay off in the fourth quarter when we should have been able to grind down their defense, but then, you know, Denard got hurt.

Also:

Edit: I forgot the main silver lining, BELLOMY CAN AUDIBLE!

Yeah, what was with that?

Yeoman scans Massey, comes back with Michigan having a 30% shot at winning the division now. Let's go Spartans.

Elsewhere

Blog stuff. Sap's decals hand out nothing to the offense. Nebraska fans are far too enthusiastic about snuffing Bellomy out. TTB. Maize and Go Blue. The M Block considers what happens next year at QB.

Hoover Street Rag:

Duct tape.  It's was held together with duct tape, hope, and rolling dice.  And now the questions will come for the coaching staff, although any questions to Greg Mattison will likely consist of "Why can't you guys score too?"  But we caught a glimpse of a future we will need to face all too soon, a future without Denard Robinson.  That future consisted of three field goals total output on offense.

MVictors:

You watched the second half perhaps with some hope that Spring Game Bellomy would emerge but save for a few late first downs it wasn’t really even close.  I swear I caught Jeremy Gallon staring off into space after the RS freshman was calling a pass play early in the second half and remember thinking, “Gallon knows this ain’t happening…”

1 gallon
That play was the horribly underthrown toss (yes, headed for Gallon!) which was easily picked off by Nebraska. 

Also, Denard's jacket was old school split M style now verboten.

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Probably got it off Jon Falk's back.

Regular stuff. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. AGGRESSIVE DECISION TO FALL ON HIS ELBOW GENTLY COSTS DENARD ROBINSON. RUSSELL BELLOMY MAY NOT HAVE DONE TOO WELL. ROBINSON'S EXIT REVEALS THAT MICHIGAN IS NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING AND SHOULD PROBABLY JUST DIERUSSELL BELLOMY WAS NEVER GETTING PULLED.

Stupid malevolence. Stupid offense.

Wait they're still saying this?

Three Bellomy interceptions rushed the defense back onto the field and into quick-change situations. Nebraska started drives in Michigan territory, including one on the four-yard line. There’s a good excuse.

“No,” Kovacs said. “We take pride in that. Our motto is: ‘Spot the ball.’ It doesn’t matter where the ball’s at, just put the ball on the field and we’re going to go play defense and not let them get any yards.”

That's a Rodriguez-era phrase that remains as mysterious today as it was when it was introduced and probably should have gone in the bonfire with GERG's playbooks and stuffed beavers and hair. I guess that's appropriate for the reappearance of the 2008 offense. If someone says "hold the rope" any time soon I'm going to hide under the bed.

wat

Michigan-Nebraska: The Sick Man of Europe

By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a

The red balloons floated upward, little harbingers of doom dotting the night sky. I didn't know what to make of it, but it could not have been anything else but that. Or, maybe they were just balloons.

By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a

HoldTheRope

HoldTheRope

/hides under bed

The Lamentation Of Their Women

The Lamentation Of Their Women

Submitted by Brian on October 15th, 2012 at 12:18 PM

10/13/2012 – Michigan 45, Illinois 0 – 4-2, 2-0 Big Ten

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Eric Upchurch

Six games into year two of the Hoke and Mattison defensive regime, Michigan stands 10th in total defense. Last year they finished 17th. The year before that they languished in the triple-digits, unsure of who they were, what they were doing, and how life was supposed to have any meaning. Now, they know.

The flow thing is no coincidence.

arnold-schwarzenegger-conan-the-barbarian-movie-image-2[1]x350[1]

RYAN THE BARBARIAN

Yeah, you can use the advanced numbers to push the exact measure of Michigan's improvement to and fro—Michigan is 16th in S&P+ with FEI pending—but who cares? The exact magnitude of the improvement is difficult to measure in the same way an exploding volcano is. It is organized and has long hair and will hit you very hard. Volcanoes. Dig it.

Michigan has not quite swept across the steppes, burning all in its path yet. They're still waiting for a real test after they got run over in the opener and had to survive an option attack they were ill-prepared for. Since those two games they've played UMass, a Notre Dame team that seems to score 13-20 against any opponent more competent than Miami, Purdue, and Illinois. Competent quarterbacks have exited. Chaos reigns even before Michigan gets involved.

But but but, by whatever measures you care to look at Michigan is providing novel horrible experiences to the hapless in their path:

  • Illinois was held to under 150 yards of offense. In blowout losses against Arizona State and Penn State, the former without Scheelhaase, they racked up over 300 and scored. They neared 300 against Wisconsin last week.
  • Purdue's worst yardage output of the season was versus Michigan; they've played ND and Wisconsin.
  • Michigan held Notre Dame to under 250 yards, also their worst output of the season.

When life gives you lemonade stands, all you can do is pillage five-year-olds. Nickels in hand, Michigan faces a recent nemesis this weekend. They've got a real nice stand set up. Would be a shame if something happened to it.

------------------------------------

It's mostly lemonade stands from here on out. Only two of Michigan's remaining six opponents squeeze into the top half of the total yardage rankings—Ohio State (34th) and Nebraska (12th). Hypothetical Big Ten Championship Game foe Wisconsin is cooling its heels at 87th. Thanks to the BIG TENNNNNN nature of the Big Ten, Michigan's defense can get along despite being rickety in parts.

Six weeks in it's getting hard to figure out what those rickety parts are. Kenny Demens has just spent three weeks attacking third and one with abandon and dropping into all the deep seams. He's been able to do that because the defensive tackles are keeping him clean. Raymon Taylor is being avoided by opponents who would rather go at JT Floyd. Craig Roh's move to strongside end has been successful beyond all reason.

The big hole on the defense is…

…weakside end? Maybe Floyd himself? It's unknown, really.

We do know now what we hoped—maybe suspected—at the beginning of the year: the GERG to Greg turnaround was 10% fumble fluke, 90% sustainable development. I watch Michigan play defense and think about watching Greg Mattison get distracted by an endzone shot of his four DL making the exact same step on a particular cutup at a coaching clinic. The line moves with perfect choreography and Mattison's supposed to be talking about higher-level stuff but is simply incapable of looking at that beautiful synchronicity and not stopping to talk about it:

Mattison did not select the cutups himself—that was delegated to a video coordinator—and didn't know exactly what would come up. This made for an interesting dynamic as he evaluated each play live. He repeatedly digressed from his main topic to note the footwork of his linemen: Van Bergen is getting distance with his first step. All of these guys have identical footwork.

The tape winds back and forth; Mattison beams like a proud father. He fumes at imaginary people who would not direct their weakside end to put his outside foot back when he gets a tight end to him. He passes the geek test.

The same folks who made Will Heininger a key piece of a top 20 defense have reconstituted Michigan's defensive line from a converted OL, a five star at the bottom of the sea, and a 250-pound weakside end. When not battered by a once-in-a-generation outfit in Tuscaloosa, they've stoned everyone they've come up against*. That line is not where Michigan's going, but it's good enough to be amongst the best in the conference.

That is the brick on which Hoke's program is built. They will take whatever they've got and turn it into a well-oiled machine. Some years they will be undersized and coping well. Some years they will be rampant. The next ten years will feature an endless procession of mashing defenses. There will be one blip to the downside and two units that put Michigan in national championship contention.

Year in, year out, lemonade stands across the Midwest will burn. Toddlers in Elmo t-shirts will weep. Winged helmets will look on impassively, knowing what is best in life.

*[Air Force's success was not on the DL, at least not much.]

Media

Highlights from parkinggod:

The Ford presentation:

Also pressers by Hoke, Denard and Desmond Morgan, Jake Ryan and Patrick Omameh, and Kenny Demens and his disco 'stache.

Upchurch photos went up this morning.

Real Bullets

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Ace

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3Brady Hoke Epic Double Point of the week. Jake Ryan, come on down. Obviously. He's got a bullet down the page, but: 11 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and a number of plays made that didn't even show up on that statline.

Honorable mention: Denard Robinson (7/11, > 10 YPC, no turnovers), Patrick Omameh (seems to be destroying Akeem Spence on a few of Denard's long runs), Kenny Demens (INT, two third and short thumps), Greg Mattison (knows what is best in life).

Epic Double Point standings.

3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama)

I know, man.

My God, It's Made Of Funchess note of the week. From my vantage point in the stadium, I thought the play-action rollout that eventually turned into the Funchess touchdown had been defeated by coverage. I thought that Denard saw this too and was chunking the ball out of the endzone, which I was pleased with—WOO NO INTERCEPTION—as I saw the ball soar into the stands… at least the dance team… well past Devin Funchess's outstretched… oh.

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Ace made this. ESC to stop it, unless you're on Chrome.

Wow. Is that legal? Should I clap now? Is touchdown? Is touchdown. Clap. Smile. Turn to wife and console her that the Illinois people are probably used to this anyway and she shouldn't feel bad for them because… um. Return to clapping, wait for day when Michigan throws more than 15 passes and Jim Mandich Watch returns.

norfleetwatch. hai guys here's this punt i should probably fair catch this syyyykkkkkkeeeee hey i'm going this way syyyyyyykkke I PUT OUT MY HAND AND YOU STOP BECAUSE I HAVE POWERS goodbye tackler goodbye tackler goodbye tackler hello sideline i am sorry i will never touch you sideline i just don't feel like that about you ZOOOOOOOOOOOOM wait wat is punter

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Upchurch

wat is punter wat is

wat

/dies

RESPAWN

Kicking from the one. Michigan pooted in the shortest possible field goal late in the first quarter, which normally would have driven me bonkers. IMO that was a close enough call that I wasn't super peeved. The situation:

  • Denard is out so you've got a freshman at QB.
  • Barnum is out so you've got your 6'1" walkon at LG.
  • You've just been stuffed twice consecutively since Illinois knows you're not throwing, not least because…
  • It's a rainstorm that could easily degenerate into an MSU-Iowa-ish slopfest in which points are at a premium.

If an 18-yard field goal in the first quarter is ever going to be the right move, it's there. It was really hard to disentangle any emotions about the kick from the momentary dread experienced as I watched Michigan's season circle down the drain in an injury deluge, but before it was a laugher it seemed like the kind of game where the first team to 17 wins and the field goal is defensible.

This is an extension of my being fine with a similar chip shot field goal in last year's Illinois game; that one came later and extended Michigan's lead from 14 to a probably-insurmountable 17. Early in this game any points seemed like a good idea in case the skies truly opened up.

Not that it mattered, but this wouldn't be MGoBlog without minute dissection of every possible game theory decision.

Even if you didn't like the kick you should note with approval that Michigan tried to take their two-minute opportunity at the end of the half only to be foiled by a bad snap after they'd moved the ball 19 yards.

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Upchurch

Never again. Hey, guys, we're past Annual Denard Versus Illinois Injury Scare, and this one was the best of all because Denard came back and Illinois scored no points anyway. High five.

Michigan has now survived half the season with only one major injury, that to Blake Countess. While Wormley and Brink being out strips Michigan of some of its DL depth, neither guy was playing much or projected to play much—hard to imagine Wormley being a major step up from Michigan's current three-tech/SDE production.

That's getting off relatively light. Anyone glancing at Iowa City or East Lansing will get quick confirmation of that. Brady Hoke poops magic, still going strong.

Everything is not a bubble screen. I got a half-dozen tweets after the Gallon touchdown about bubble screens, and I knew that there had been a disturbance in the force due to announcer incompetence. Watching the highlights, I found out: the PBP guy thinks any throw to a wide receiver behind the line of scrimmage is a bubble screen.

That's not true, obviously, and the Gallon touchdown was the Always Works Every Time Except That One Time Against Iowa throwback screen. That play has little to do with the various critiques leveled around here about the lack of edge pressure applied by the Borges spread. It works by getting the playside tackle out on the edge without blocking that DE, and that gets you a chunk of yards. Michigan's broke huge as Michigan picked up +++ downfield blocks from Schofield and Kwiatkowski:

Schofield got a piece of the safety 20 yards downfield. That's a throwback to his days as a guard and a reason Rodriguez was so hyped on acquiring him. Michigan's OL can still get downfield like a boss.

Anyway, the throwback screen has been a strange disconnected bit of the offense that Borges pulls out once a game that picks up between 15 and 70 yards without fail except that one time against Iowa. It's always run from under center; it's obviously a pretty awesome play but it isn't yet anything more than a dime store novelty because the core of the offense remains spread.

Lewan injury scares. Taylor Lewan wasn't the first choice in warmups and again exited before the rest of the offensive line; a couple of people have mentioned to me that he seemed to have a limp as he went back to the locker room at half-time. This is fine, because Lewan is in fact powered by injury. Tom Gholston will rip his leg off, laugh evilly, and turn around only to be faced with a being of unimaginable power created by his very own hands.

PROTIP: let's not try to throw screens over that guy.

Fitz vs Rawls vs Hayes vs Norfleet fight. The Toussaint Job Threat watch is still on after his YPC was the worst of anyone who got more than one carry—and the guy who got that one carry also almost took a punt return 90-some yards.

Rawls has earned some more playing time—if he's not taking over short yardage duties posthaste I'll be surprised—and will be given an opportunity to take some chunk of the carries, but Fitz is going to remain the starter, I'd imagine. Michigan did hand it off to Rawls on an inverted veer, FWIW.

Rotation. Michigan had more of it in this game, especially one Pipkins:

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Upchurch

That started early on Illinois's somewhat annoying early successes straight up the gut. I'll have to see what was going on there in the UFR; live it seemed like a thing that Michigan was not quite expecting but quickly got fixed. Think early Rodriguez offenses in the first half versus the second.

Moore return, maybe not so much. Brandon Moore was back and still apparently behind Kwiatkowski and Funchess, possibly also Williams. I saw him whiff a block badly on one of his limited snaps. I don't think he's getting much playing time back.

Everybody Hates Russell. It was bad enough that Michigan receivers reacted to Russell Bellomy's passes like they were radioactive, but does the media have to pile on? Daily:

Bellomy struggles in spotlight

Apparently the offense couldn’t move a single yard without Robinson under center, and the Wolverines settled for a field goal…

Fans’ expectations for the quarterback position could be a bit exaggerated because they’ve been spoiled by the exhilarating play of Robinson, but Bellomy didn’t do a great job of living up to any expectations in his brief role on Saturday.

On the following drive, he tossed a pair of incomplete passes — granted, the second was dropped by fifth-year wide receiver Roy Roundtree — before Michigan punted on a three-and-out.

Baumgardner:

Russell Bellomy wasn't exactly sparkling in mop up duty for Robinson. He took over with the ball inside the five in the second quarter, and couldn't get Michigan into the end zone. He also lost a fumbled snap in the second half.

TTB:

Michigan's backup quarterback situation is shaky.  Russell Bellomy struggled somewhat.  He let a snap squirt right through his hands, and he completed just 1/3 passes.  I'm not a huge fan of what I've seen out of Devin Gardner as a quarterback, and I do think Bellomy has potential down the road . . . but boy, does he look shaky right now.  He wasn't helped out by his receivers, though, who had their hands on both incompletions; but Bellomy looks afraid to push the ball down the field, and he's not very crisp running the plays.

Come on guys, he handed off a couple times and threw a few passes that were dropped. Given the conditions, the fumbled snap is not a huge surprise—I file Bellomy's performance under incomplete.

Hoke likes him. Yeah.

Another lost shoe. An epidemic. This never happened before. What's the deal?

Roh pretty damn good. Two of Michigan's WDE's switched positions in the offseason, and that was pretty worrying. At least one of those seems to be working out pretty well: SDE Craig Roh. Check out Michigan's first third and short stop. Watch 88, the DE to the top of the screen:

Shift a step before snap to line up right over the TE, get under the TE, move upfield and pop the pulling guard. That's why Demens is free to tackle. That's a full point in UFR that doesn't show up at all in the box score, and Roh has been doing that consistently for the first six games. There's a stretch at 2:14 that's similar: Ryan gets a TFL because Roh beats his guy playside.

Also on that first play Jake Ryan pops his guy back and disengages to make that Demens tackle a matter of stopping an already-falling guy's momentum. Funny how Demens is a lot better now that he's not eating guys on a free release. Speaking of…

JAKE F RYAN. Ryan needs no explanation, and in this game he put up the kind of stat line that makes even distant observers sit up and take notice: 11 tackles, 7 solo, 3.5 TFLs, a sack and a half. He also got some of those Roh plays—the stuffed fourth and inches was Ryan getting the two-for-one with a slant under the tackle and letting Demens roar up into the hole untouched.

Repeat of all things previous about all Big Ten, verge of—the next two weeks will either solidify that or delay it.

A screen worked, to a running back and everything. That's an everything's coming up Milhouse moment.

Scheelhaase out. At least one team in the Big Ten is willing to remove a guy with a concussion. Terry Hawthorne didn't play, either. Objection from UV withdrawn.

OL doing stuff. Big Robinson runs resulted from:

  • Omameh blowing up Spence one on one.
  • Lewan blowing up a DE on the easy Denard draw TD.
  • Omameh blowing up Spence again on the 49-yarder

Student section fight. Michigan State:

aint-nobody-end

Michigan:

crowd2_thumb[1]

Difference is that Michigan was up by a billion in a noncompetitive game, and they look to have about twice the people. Win for Michigan.

Yakety sax pending. THE KIDS ARE PLAYING THEIR TAILS OFF AND THE COACHES ARE SCREWING IT UP

FURMAN DESTROY. My only disappointment with the above highlight reel is that it leaves out a fifteen-yard penalty on Michigan, when Josh Furman went Fresno State on an Illinois punt returner. A personal reaction:

OHHHH HE'S GONNA LIGHT THAT GUY UP

OHHHHHHHH

/ball hits ground

oh?

That punt had ridiculous hangtime, is what I'm saying.

Damn you, Special K. Damn you. You know, you get through two full games without hearing the Dog Groomers play "In The Big House" and you think you're out of the woods and then they bring it back. False hope is worse than death.

I am so with you HSR:

Really, I could have like six anti-Special K bullets here, but will it really do any good?

The weirdest thing was the soulful acoustic guitar thing they played for like an entire commercial break. YEAH I'M FIRED UP HIT ME WITH THE JOSE GONZALEZ I CAME HERE FOR WARRRRRRRR.

Now you can't do it. Ace mentioned the on-field proposal after everyone had cleared out Saturday, and now the gentleman who totally one-upped you passed along the event itself:

Jonathan San declares "I've never made that many girls scream before," and he's got you topped. Unless you're Steve Breaston—in which case respext, you are good at football.

Dang big gap. The MSU line opened at M –11.5 and currently stands at M –10.5.

Here

Inside The Boxscore:

After watching the Spartan fan-fail, I was curious to see how UofM's students would approach the game. Even though the weather was basically the same - rain - the stands looked full to me. There were a few who left the game in the 2nd half, but I'm sure if we would have gone to double OT, the stands would have been full. So even though State may have won the last four games in the series, they have a long way to go to match the University of Michigan on the field, in the classroom, and in the stands.

Also, ST3 goes to badminton practice. MICHIGAN MENZ.

Turd Ferguson kicks off a rivalry week with a dossier of Michigan State's recent achievements, as well:

Michigan State athletics programs have become pioneers in 21st-century teambuilding.  Concerned about the rapid decline of face-to-face contact, MSU athletes have repeated come together, in large groups, to contact the faces of their fellow athletesand classmates.

Spartans are known to generously extend a hand to those in need.  They’ve developed a prison-to-work program seen by many as a model for how to reduce to an absolute minimum the time between prison and work.  Their athletic director moonlights as avolunteer career counselor and their football coach as a public speaking coach, offering their time even to supposed athletic rivals.  When one of their neighbors could use help just stretching his neck, scratching his eye, massaging his arm, or bludgeoning his face, a Spartan is always there to assist.

Elsewhere

Blog folk. MVictors pulls out a Gerald Ford speech from 1975 in an effort to figure out what he might have said if he was around for the event:

As I mentioned a moment ago, I was lucky enough to play football, first on Ferry Field and then in the stadium. And I was lucky enough to start a few games in the football season of 1934–and that was quite a year. The Wolverines on that memorable occasion played Ohio State, and we lost 34 to 0. And to make it even worse, that was the year we lost seven out of eight of our scheduled games. But you know, what really hurt me the most was when my teammates voted me their most valuable player. I didn’t know whether to smile or sue. [Laughter]

MVictors postgame:

It’s seems like a simple expectation but you forget, especially in the aftermath of the Alabama and Notre Dame games, that these coaches have a track record of making players better.  You are seeing it.   The defense confident and fun to watch and they’ve retooled the gameplan with Denard and it’s clearly working.  I’ll take this stat line 24/7: 7-11, 2 TD, 0 INT.

Big House Blog:

If yesterday was a heavyweight title fight it was over in the first round.  The only drama came when the champion hurt his hand because he was hitting the challenger's face too much.  TKO Round 1 - UMass played harder in the Big House.

More HSR:

One thing we do know is the defense put in an amazing performance against Illinois.  They were held to 3.3 yards per carry (with a standard deviation of 5.1 yards). These two stats indicate that not only did the D hold the Illini in check, but that they kept them from pulling off many big runs; in fact, Illinois only had one run of over ten yards all day, the Nathan Scheelhaase dash that knocked him out of the game. If you calculate the standard error about the mean, it's 0.14 yards, suggested that if U-M and Illinois face of again and again, Michigan would hold them to under 3.5 YPC again and again and again. That's consistency. That's dominance.

Maize and Go Blue:

Al Borges continues to pare down his play calling to suit this team, and it has worked the past two weeks as Michigan has run for just under 330 yards per game and thrown the ball only 27 times total. The

Holding The Rope:

When Odysseus* returned home, he was met with a cohort of unruly suitors. Like those suitors, Illinois simply did not have the strength to string the bow and fire.

MICHIGAN MENZ.

MNBN:

RAMROTH FINNEGAN declares Michigan by far his best visit. I know the kid is destined to end up at Cincinnati, where all the best names go, but let's savor this moment when it is just fate, not fact.

The Illinois perspective:

In our last nine Big Ten games, we’ve scored 7, 14, 7, 14, 17, 7, 7, 14, and 0 points. 9.7 points per game. Has to be the worst such stretch since the 1970′s, right? We had huge offensive failings in 2005 and 2003 and 1997 and even 1993. But we’ve never had a stretch like this, have we? I mean, since the days of 0-0 ties with Northwestern and such in the 70′s. Can anyone remember anything this bad?

Less than two years ago, we scored 63 points at Michigan. With Nathan Scheelhaase at quarterback. How could we fall that far in 24 months? Yes, Michigan’s defense has improved tenfold over RichRod’s 2010 defense. But from 63 points to zero? How is that even possible?

TTB awards. M&GB on the RB platoon. Sap's Decals. Photos from MNBN.

Mainstream folk. Grades are somewhat good from Meinke. Daily game story. Smith sat out with a hamstring issue, "boo-boo" resurfaces as nonspecific Denard injury term. Helfand on Michigan's defense. Estes on Kenny Demens. Meinke on MSU week. Baumgardner on lack of turnovers.

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Northwestern

Submitted by Brian on October 13th, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Formation notes: Michigan didn't show anything new except what I called Denard Jet for obvious reasons.

denard-jet

That's an ace set with an offset back and two other wideouts.

Northwestern mostly hung out in their default 4-3. At the beginning of the second half they walked a safety down…

nw-4-4-even_thumb[1]

…to show an eight-man front, then crashed the end while using the safety as the contain guy. The result was the 0 and –1 yard runs that started the half. Then they rushed three on third and long. Woo!

Substitution notes: Schofield went the whole way for Barnum. When Lewan went out for a play they flipped Huyge to LT and put Mealer in at RT. I assume a longer term Lewan absence would see Schofield move back outside and Khoury or Mealer enter.

Watson again was the #2 TE; Gallon, Hemingway, and Roundtree got the bulk of the WR snaps, with Dileo the fourth guy. Michigan is tipping run when they bring Odoms in, BTW. Toussaint and Smith were the RBs with Hopkins playing FB; Shaw got some playing time in the second half.

Denard went out with another boo-boo to his non-throwing hand, causing a few goal line plays on which Gardner handed off or rolled out. Gardner was in on the Denard Jet plays, obviously, and also had a rollout pass to Jackson on which he was seemingly inserted without any problems with Robinson.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run QB power Robinson 2
Corner on the edge tight and a safety over the strength of the formation about seven yards deep. Linebackers are flowing down at this hard; Koger(-0.5) blocks down on the playside LB, who gets some penetration. Schofield(-1) should still be able to come around it upfield but does not, instead getting caught up in the wash and failing to get out on the edge. Free hitter results and there is also a safety; Denard gets what he can. RUN-: Schofield, Koger(-0.5)
M28 2 8 Denard Jet 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Jet sweep Robinson 6
Blocking here is good all around. Lewan(+1) seals the playside DE. Koger kicks out the edge guy, which is easy since he has to maintain contain; NW LB flows hard upfield inside of Smith, which causes Smith to peel off. He doesn't get a piece but that's because the LB went too hard inside to actually get Robinson. Once he runs himself out of position it's open because Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) scooped the playside NT; Schofield got out on the WLB. Denard is chopped down by a quick-filling safety. Why doesn't Hemingway head for the S instead of keeping the CB outside? Note: NW DE on the backside stays responsible.
M34 3 2 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power alt Robinson 5
Breaking a tendency here as the power is going away from the RB side as Molk and Schofield pull around. This works well enough; Koger(+1) seals the playside DE easily and Omameh(+1) gets out on the MLB to cut him. Schofield(-1) pulls around and runs right by the SLB; instead both he and Molk head for the corner. Molk is trailing and realizes that the LB is about to hit Robinson, but it's too late for him to do anything. Robinson(+1) stiffarms the dude and rolls for the first down. Because he's been forced to the sideline the CB Schofield cut can force him out with an arm-tackle attempt.
RUN+: Koger, Molk, Omameh, Robinson RUN-: Schofield(2)
M39 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Roundtree Inc
Hitch is open for six plus some YAC; Denard one-hops it. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M39 2 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 3
Koger covered. NW goes under in response to the TE. SLB goes into a pass drop; Hopkins(+1) buries him. Koger(+1) blows up the playside DE. Huyge(+1) climbs to the second level and seals the WLB out of the play. Molk and Omameh down block successfully on the backside; Denard holds the backside DE. Result: MLB vs Schofield and Toussaint in a ton of space. LB bursts outside to funnel back to help that isn't there; instead of setting up the block Toussaint(-2) runs right into the linebacker when a cut back behind puts him one on one with the S for a big gainer.
RUN+: Hopkins, Huyge, Koger RUN-: Toussaint(2)
M42 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 Stack two deep   Post Hemingway 48
Three man rush with this WR return guy as a spy. They rush three with the spy attacking later. Huyge(-1) beaten and is fortunate a little shove on his part gets this DE to the ground. Good pocket otherwise because there's a three man rush; Robinson steps up and bombs it deep to Hemingway in single coverage. It's a bit underthrown but not quite enough to give the DB a play on the ball; Hemingway goes up and gets it. (CA, 2, protection ½, Huyge)
O10 1 G Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint 1
I think so but I'm not sure because Toussaint's angle is outside. Smith heads straight upfield. Omameh(-1) is handled by the DT over him; Smith(-1) runs by the playside LB without hitting anyone. Schofield(-1) can't handle the other DT; three guys converge on Toussaint.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Omameh, Smith, Schofield
O9 2 G I-form big 2 2 1 4-3 under Pass Waggle corner Watson 9
LB who previously shot upfield on the Robinson third down power is probably the guy who busts here. He chases after Robinson on the playfake. Watson is wide open. Denard gets a little pressure but not much and chucks it off his back foot. Watson has to adjust and manages to make a diving catch in the endzone. (IN, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA Out Hemingway 27
Play action with max protect; two-man route, though Toussaint does leak out late. The PA fake sucks in between eight and nine NW players; Denard has all day. He zings it to a wide open Hemingway on a deep out. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
O42 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Smith 2
Denard(-2) misses a massive keep read with the backside DE shuffling down and Dileo cracking down on the contain guy. NW is slanting to the playside, forcing Smith into the unblocked backside guy. No minus but it's clear Schofield is having a tough time with DiNardo.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Robinson(2)
O40 2 8 Shotgun 3 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA Deep post Hemingway Int
They run the sprint counter except it's a playfake, and it's a good thing since a late shift and S blitz would have picked off the lead blocker and exposed Smith to a TFL. Denard gets some late pressure as Dinardo releases to the outside of Molk—Molk can't do anything about this because he's cutting behind a teammate. An inadvertent stunt. Denard again chucks a punt off his back foot that is way long; safety picks it off. Never should have thrown it with the safety there; he had a little hitch he could have taken. (BRINX, 0, protection 2/2) Picture-paged by BWS.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Pin and pull zone Robinson 4
They bring down a LB and blitz from the backside. More pin and pull and as per usual it doesn't quite work. Huyge(+1) cannot get playside of his guy but does end up cutting him, which takes him and the guy playside of Schofield out. Watson kicks out the playside DE. Omameh(-1) is first through the hole and contacts a LB around the LOS. He gets driven back. These guys just aren't drive blockers. Molk bangs into this block, surging it forward, and Robinson bangs into the whole mess. Everyone falls forward.
RUN+: Huyge RUN-: Omameh
M39 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA Quick seam Koger Inc
Wide open; Denard wings it high. Koger does get his fingertips to it but this is not a shoulda-caught-it kind of pass. (IN, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M39 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Hitch Hemingway 9
Four man rush doesn't even try to get to Denard. Expecting a QB draw is the only thing I can think of. Totally unmolested Denard pumps once, then zings it into Hemingway for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1… RPS+1, I guess. No pass rush at all.)
M48 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Gallon 10
Easy pitch and catch with the outside corner playing soft; good timing on the throw gives Gallon an opportunity to pick up a little YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O42 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 7 (Pen -10)
This opens up as it looks like the playside DE tries to go outside without the NT slanting behind him, for whatever reason. Huyge(+1) and Omameh(+1) kick their guys out. Nice hole. Molk(+1) buries the WLB on the second level. Guy in the hole is the MLB against Hopkins; Hopkins bashes him and then tosses him upfield, sending Toussaint into the secondary, where that quick-filling safety fills again. Hopkins gets a holding call that seems ludicrous. Toussaint is gone, any hypothetical hold had no impact on the play, and you call that when NW has arms outside the shoulder pads on every play? Refs -2.
M48 1 20 Ace trips tight bunch 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
AKA the pitch formation. Michigan goes with a PA throwback screen that Lewan(-1) takes a little too far of a downfield angle on and lets the corner come up to hassle Gallon. Corner gets upfield and makes a diving ankle tackle attempt; Gallon steps through it and gets hacked down by the backside DE from behind. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Gallon RUN-:
O44 2 12 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass PA scramble Robinson 8
Attempted play action on which Schofield(+1) pulls to protect the edge. Last week two guys would shoot up into this play and twice Michigan OL would get lost in indecision, forcing Denard to chuck it off his back foot. This week Schofield has eyes only for the outside guy, who he seals, allowing Denard the edge. Denard on edge equals takeoff. (SCR, N/A, protection 1/1, Schofield run bonus for tough job well done.) Picture paged.
RUN+: Schofield, Robinson RUN-:
O36 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass TE Dig Koger 16
NW rushes five and gets nowhere thanks in large part to Vincent Smith coming across the protection to pick up the blitzer. Remainder of NW rushers stoned. Robinson steps up and zings it to Koger. Ball is a little behind Koger, forcing him to spin and eventually taking him off his feet. Better thrown and this is a TD. Still good enough for a CA since it is about 15 yards downfield. (CA, 2, protection 3/3)
O20 1 10 Denard Jet 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA scramble Gardner 4
NW expecting this and has the same DE on the edge, covering everyone (RPS -1); Gardner(+1) does well to hold up at the sideline, pump, and then accelerate past the guy to turn this into a few yards.
RUN+: Gardner RUN-:
O16 2 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA wheel Smith Int
Okay, I get it. NW blitzes up the gut and gets instant pressure on Robinson, so he sees that Smith has blazed the corner on the play action and tosses the wheel. Safety intercepts because Robinson was rushed. Given some more time he would have either hit Koger wide open because the safety is sucking up or hit Smith wide open because the safety went with Koger. I think Schofield(-2) is the problem here—everyone else is blocking someone and Schofield is pulling into the middle of nowhere instead of reading the blitz up the middle. This is sad, because it was a beautiful design that should have been a wide open TD. I kind of want to PR this but can't. (BR, 0, protection 0/2, Schofield 2). Do not listen to this color guy: I think the safety busts here and that's why this is not wide open for Smith. Picture paged.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint 5
Schofield loses the DT to the inside of him but not too badly; he fends him off well enough to prevent him from getting into the backfield. The two LBs are headed inside anyway, with Molk and Hopkins banging them. Not relevant because of the Schofield thing, which forces Toussaint behind and into the overhanging corner. No one did anything spectacularly good or bad on this play.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5), Schofield(0.5) RUN-:
M33 2 5 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Pin and pull zone Toussaint 8 (Pen -10)
Koger(+1) blocks down on the playside DE and wins; Omameh(-0.5) loses playside DT. SLB is shooting upfield; Huyge contacts him a couple yards into the backfield, which Hopkins(+1) sees. He nails the guy before moving downfield; Huyge(-2) gets his arms around the neck of the SLB and gets a deserved holding call that may not have been necessary. Really wish Hopkins had just held up that guy without moving on but that's not his fault. Schofield(+1) had cut the WLB to the ground, so Hopkins didn't have anyone to block once he got past the LOS.
M23 2 15 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Triple option Robinson 0
Northwestern has a LB overhanging the slot, which is a big difference from what Michigan's doing. Huyge(-2) blocks the playside DE, getting a lame shove before trying to release into the second level; he ends up blocking no one really, as that DE, the MLB, and the playside LB all flow out—instead of of one guy for two they have three. Robinson wisely eats it. RPS -2.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Huyge
M23 3 15 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Stack two deep Pass Deep out Dileo Inc
Robinson finds a hole in a seven-man zone for first down yardage and throws it out there; Dileo extends for it but the thing bounces off his outstretched hand. Tight window throwing to a 5'9” receiver. If Dileo is 6'1” this is probably complete. Still, could have been better, results based, etc. (MA, 1, protection 2/2) Not a bad throw.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB Iso Robinson 2
They need to run oh noes about three times more often than they do. They're letting opponents cheat on this with impunity. Anyway, as soon as Denard moves to LOS LBs freak out and Denard decides to bounce. LBs flowing hard means that wasn't a terrible decision. M WRs now cracking down so there should be space but Gallon(-1) whiffs on his and Huyge's DE reaches out to grab Denard's jersey, at which point he just goes to ground after grabbing what he can. Evidence for the "jerseys are too easy to grab" crowd. RPS -1.
RUN+: Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5) RUN-: Gallon, Robinson(0.5)
M35 2 8 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Someone on NW screws up as they blitz off the corner to contain and the WLB still scrapes over the top when the DE crashes. Toussaint has room behind the blocking because Schofield(+1) escorted his guy way down the line. Nice gain because of the vacated area.
M42 3 1 Maryland I 3 1 1 Goal line Run Iso Toussaint 1
Argh shuffling fullback /shoots self. Watson(-2) shuffles; NW responds by having WLB CRUSH him at the LOS with a blitz. Another LB scrapes over the top, the original blitzer is still up, and Michigan gets nothing. Shuffling fullback. RPS -1.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Watson(2)
M43 4 In Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 3
Yes, Schofield: yes. Pulling again and NW blitzing in the same fashion that got them their INT two drives earlier. Schofield(+1) pulls up and seals the guy. That's it for NW since Koger(+1) and Watson(+1) blow up the playside DE; Smith kicks out the overhanging corner, and the last guy can't prevent Robinson from getting it. Picture paged.
RUN+: Schofield, Koger, Watson RUN-:
M46 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Smith 6
NW playing it straight with the backside DE keeping contain as the linebackers flow frontside; backside NT gets under Lewan(+1), but Lewan keeps blocking him down the line and puts him on his butt; Smith(+1) hops behind that block and scoots through the hole before the contain DE can come down on him. He should really run away from that guy but instead tries to cut behind the slot WR's block, whereupon contain DE tackles him. RPS+1. Zone read FTW.
RUN+: Lewan, Smith RUN-:
O48 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 18
Late shift with slot blitz. M runs away from it. Playside LB blitzes, then holds up. Huyge(+0.5) stalemates the playside DE until Toussaint(+0.5) seals him enough; Koger(+1) fought off the DE upfield to provide a hole. Robinson(+1) bursts outside and heads into the secondary. RPS +1.
RUN+: Koger, Robinson, Toussaint(0.5), Huyge(0.5) RUN-:
O30 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone belly Toussaint 5
Similar to the previous one except with two TEs on that side who release downfield, so it's almost like a DT read. Like to see Michigan block that DE and spring Denard on the edge. Anyway, this is a lot like RR's old belly series, with the backside G and T doubling the DT and driving him downfield (+0.5 Omameh, Huyge) as the frontside DT gets the same business. LBs suck frontside; Toussaint cuts behind the backside double and is tackled from behind by the contain DE. This is the iso of the spread—hard for D to keep from getting some, hard for O to get a bunch.
RUN+: Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5) RUN-:
O25 2 5 Ace trips tight bunch 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 25
The difference between this throwback and the previous one is pretty simple: the unblocked playside DE is thinking about defending the zone read and instead of peeling back on the screen when he's not blocked he tries to contain Denard. Yes, even though they're under center. He's dead. Also Huyge(+1) and Omameh(+1) block their dudes such that they cannot even touch Gallon(+0.5), who makes a super easy juke on a safety for six. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-14, 4 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson -1
Omameh(-1) pulls and pulls incredibly slowly; Denard always has to wait for his blocking on these. By the time Omameh gets to the POA a non-crazy MLB has scraped to the LOS and put himself in a position where Omameh can't even block him. Robinson(-1) bounces outside because he's spooked by the blitzing WLB, which kills the blocking angles.
RUN+: Schofield(0.5), Koger(0.5) RUN-: Omameh, Robinson
M21 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Out Roundtree Inc
Another back-foot throw sails. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M21 3 11 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout deep out Hemingway 22
No NW players are tight on the edge so rolling the pocket works unless the playside DE flies straight upfield immediately; he does not and Smith chops him out of the play. Robinson has all day. He finds Hemingway, steps into the throw, and zings a twenty-yard dart at the sideline. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1) This is an NFL throw. Hurrah for stepping into things.
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Slant Gallon 13
LB creeps down off the corner as NW telegraphs a blitz. Soft corner on the 1WR side as NW runs a zone; Denard fires the ball in before the flat defender can get in the throwing lane. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Roundtree Inc
Airmailed. Possibly a good thing as a linebacker was threatening to run underneath the route but there's no way I can credit that as intentional. Routes were pretty well covered here. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O44 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Cross Hemingway Int
I can explain the previous interceptions. This one I have no idea. It's either a massively overthrown out to a double covered Hemingway or massively underthrown fade to Roundtree. (INX, 0, protection 2/2) Okay... on replay it's clear he's overthrowing Hemingway by ten yards. At least he was open!
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-21, 1 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 4-4 even Run Zone read dive Smith 0
With a linebacker over the slot, safety rolls down for a full seventh in the box. Safety blitzes off the snap to contain the zone read, end crashes down, line slants hard playside. Smith has no choice but to run behind Omameh and get nailed by the backside DE. RPS -1.
M20 2 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Iso Toussaint -1
Backside DE again crashes with a scraper; Omameh(-1) loses the backside DT and there's nowhere to go. RPS –2 for same error twice in a row.
M19 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Stack two deep Pass Dig Roundtree 17
Three man rush gives M all day. Robinson surveys and finds Roundtree for a bunch in between about four guys in the zone. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)
M36 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 4
Unbalanced with Koger covered. This does not hit the intended hole as Omameh(-1) is shot back by the DT. Schofield(+0.5) gets a little push on the other DT, though not of the sealing variety, and Toussaint(+1) manages to cut behind him. A safety overhanging meets Toussaint about two yards downfield; he breaks a tackle and grabs a couple more.
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield(0.5) RUN-: Omameh
M40 2 6 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA Deep post Roundtree 57
Max protection; Watson(-1) gets beat to the inside by the DE, who gets some pressure on Robinson. Robinson rolls away from it as Koger adjusts to push him out of the play. Spying LB now coming up hard. Robinson lets a 60-yard pass fly on the move. Roundtree's in single coverage and the DB is step-for-step. He slows up, then extends back as the ball arrives, getting a little bit of separation and bringing in the bomb. Um, so... if Henne had thrown this to Edwards? Yeah. (DO, 2, protection 2/3, Watson). How does NW let this happen on a two man route, I ask you?
O3 1 G I-Form twins 2 1 2 Goal line Run Iso Toussaint 1
Hopkins(-1) whiffs on the crashing LB, forcing Toussaint(+1) to cut behind after running through the resulting arm tackle. That's possible because Omameh(+1) kicked out the backside DE and Molk(+1) plugged a LB trying to hit the gap. Schofield did just okay against the other DT. Toussaint drags the LB who hit Hopkins to the one, where a corner scrapes over to take him down. Toussaint gets a crappy spot.
RUN+: Toussaint, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Hopkins
O2 2 G Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Goal line Run QB power Robinson 0
Watson(-1) is stood up by the DE and gets beaten inside; Schofield(-1) then hits it up in that gap, leaving the outside guys by themselves, so Robinson can't do much other than follow into the big pile for little.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Watson, Schofield
O2 3 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Goal line Run Speed option Robinson 2
Stretch blocking immediately seals both playside DEs; Koger releases downfield and Robinson can walk in. Molk, Omameh, Huyge get pluses; RPS +1.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Huyge, Koger(0.5) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-24, 10 min 1st Q. Option had nothing to do with the TD; DL was screwed by the zone step.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-4 even Run QB draw Robinson 25
Tough to tell what exactly this was supposed to be since Robinson drops the snap but the line is pass blocking and the WRs are stalk-blocking so I'm guessing a QB draw. Seems designed to exploit the scrape as even though there's a delay the S flying right upfield can't do anything about this play that goes at the backside of the line. Huyge(+2) starts losing the DE to the inside of him but eventually stalls him at the line and drives him well past where he wants to go. Omameh(+1) is tasked with the SLB; he heads outside and he has to go around the Huyge block. He eventually gets back into position to wall off the pursuit after Robinson(+2) bursts past them. Shaw(+1) is the lead blocker, he cuts the last LB. Robinson into the secondary. Gallon(-1) couldn't do anything with his corner and probably cost Michigan five or six yards. RPS +1, I'm guessing.
RUN+: Huyge(2), Robinson(2), Omameh, Shaw RUN-: Gallon
M45 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA Hitch Roundtree 9
No pressure at all with just a three man route; NW playing soft and opens up a hitch for solid yardage. You want Robinson to find this a bit faster to open up some YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2) RPS +1; good way to exploit the now-terrified NW corners.
O46 2 1 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Robinson -1
Yuck. NW slants away from the play; Molk(-1) gets crushed back by the NT coming into him and the other guy wraps around the backside of the line, getting Toussaint tackled behind the line. Robinson is also tackled behind the line because he didn't ride the fake long enough; instead he pulls it really fast and allows the NW DE to redirect to him. Ugly, ugly, ugly. RPS -2.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Robinson, Molk, Lewan
O47 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-4 even Run QB power Robinson 4
Safety in box. Michigan runs QB power and just barely gets it thanks to a monster play from Schofield(+2). NW slanting hard, getting under Koger(-1) and threatening to get their backside DE straight upfield into Denard. Schofield has to peel off and plug him. He does. Koger keeps pushing the DE past the play. SLB flows up hard, then breaks down at the LOS; Robinson slows up in response, and Schofield disengages from the Koger block to plug the SLB. Robinson squeezes through the hole, jukes the backside DE flowing down after dropping into a short zone, and ekes out the first. RPS -1.
RUN+: Schofield(2), Robinson(2) RUN-: Koger
O43 1 10 Denard Jet 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Counter pitch Shaw 4
Huyge somehow manages to not seal the playside DE despite the guy stepping playside; he should easily get this guy out the play. Instead DE disconnects and starts flowing. He's a couple yards outside the LB and that's the difference between three yards and seven. RPS +1; should have worked, no blocking necessary.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Huyge
O39 2 6 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-4 even Pass Devious TE seam Koger 19
This is bizarre, with both RBs running flare screens and the OL splitting to block them but remaining careful to remain behind the LOS. Koger then releases on a quick seam as the DL and LBs bug out for the flare screens. It's complete, though a NW DB is alert enough to hit right on the catch. Koger powers through the tackle for some extra yardage. What if the DL tear after Robinson? I don't know man. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O20 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 1 1 3 4-3 press Run Outside pitch Shaw 1
Pitch formation; they run the pitch. Koger(+1) blows up the playside DE; Odoms(+1) mountain-goats a DB. Dileo gets a cut on the inside of another DB, and Molk is bugging out for the last LB after guys releasing downfield blow up the rest of the world. Shaw(-2) misses the intended gap in favor of BOUNCEBOUNCEBOUNCEBOUNCE, allowing the DB, who gets up from the cut to string him out until he gets a yard at the sideline.
RUN+: Odoms, Koger RUN-: Shaw(2)
O19 2 9 Denard Jet 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Throwback screen Smith 6
Okay, 51 is McNaul. I like him. Smart kid. On this play he diagnoses the throwback screen and is out on it too fast for Schofield or Molk to do anything about it. He's about to blow this up for a loss when Gallon(+1) accelerates on his crackback and shoves him past Smith. Smith(+1) still has to spin through this without losing his balance, which he does. The delay allows a corner to come up, forcing it inside despite Lewan(+1) getting a chop. Schofield(-1) ran past the MLB flowing from the inside; he tackles.
RUN+: Gallon, Smith, Lewan RUN-: Schofield
O13 3 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Speed option Robinson 12
Omameh(-1) fails to cut the backside DT. Schofield(+1) does latch onto the frontside guy and push him down the line. Koger... actually I don't think I mind Koger losing the DE to the inside because that should mean the pitch is wide open, which it is. Robinson says no to that and shoots up behind Schofield in front of the DT that Omameh did not cut; he got too far upfield and was off balance. Once past that hole he's got Molk, Lewan, and Huyge blocking downfield. Lewan(+1) donkeys McNaul. Molk(+1) gets another linebacker, and when McNaul sheds Lewan Huyge(+1) is there to pick him up. Robinson dances through all this to the goal line.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Lewan, Molk, Huyge RUN-: Omameh
O1 1 G I-form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run FB dive Toussaint 1
This play again. NW is ready for it. When Hopkins motions out of the backfield, one of the linebackers points at Toussaint and the other one adjusts his alignment. They jump at him; Toussaint ends up just short.
O1 2 G I-form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run FB dive Toussaint 0
For some reason Toussaint doesn't jump this time.
O1 3 G Maryland I 2 3 0 Goal line Pass Waggle scramble Gardner 1
Gardner does have Watson open but knows he can outrun the LB and beats him to the corner. I'm not RPSing a goal line play unless it's just ridiculously easy. This is not quite ridiculously easy.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-24, 3 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA Fly Gallon Inc
Gallon has his man beaten by yards but the throw is long. Robinson stepped into it and everything, he just missed. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O47 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 25
Line slanting so Omameh(+1) has a somewhat easy job to push the DT out of the hole. He still does it with aplomb. Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB; McNaul is coming to the line but momentarily thinks pass and takes a step back, which allows Shaw(+1) to cut him to the ground. Big hole; Denard zips up into it, eventually getting taken down by the ankles by the FS. RPS +1. This was the "nice block" play.
RUN+: Molk, Robinson, Omameh, Shaw RUN-:
O22 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-4 even Run QB power Robinson 0
Just tons of guys headed to the line again, with McNaul zipping into the play. Schofield does block him but Robinson has to slow up because of how far McNaul is into the backfield. Shaw(-1) basically misses his guy and the overhanging safety creeps up to help tackle at the line. RPS -1. RUN-: Shaw.
O22 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle cross Jackson 19
Gardner in. Michigan does exploit the aggressive NW defense by running the waggle; Gardner has multiple options as Jackson beats the linebackers on his crossing route and Koger releases wide open in the flat. Gardner goes deeper, making a back-foot-ish toss that's a dart right to Jackson's hands for first and goal. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O3 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 0
Just too much traffic. I think Huyge(-0.5) and Koger(-0.5) don't do great on their blocks—no movement and then there's a free hitter because it's so tight here.
O3 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Shaw 3
Yeah, that adjustment thing where Shaw is supposedly directed to get outside is entirely Shaw's brain going BOUNCE. He has good reason here since Schofield(-1) gives up penetration; a DT falls in the middle of the line, erasing any potential holes. Shaw bounces to the outside, where his speed and a great block from Gallon get him into the endzone. This too may be an effect of super aggressive NW LBs being super aggressive—playside LB runs straight upfield into a block.
RUN+: Shaw, Gallon RUN-: Schofield
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-24, 14 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson -7
Away from the RB to break a tendency with Molk pulling, but NW blitzes right into it. Robinson(-2) should try to hit it up behind Molk and get back to the LOS before a free LB nails him; instead he reverses field and gets eaten up by the slanting Wildcat line. RPS -1.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Robinson(2)
M35 2 17 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Screen Shaw 12
Same blitz; Michigan throws a screen at the vacated area. Molk and Schofield are in the area and get decent blocks but don't take their guys out; they do give Shaw a bunch of room to the sidelines. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)
M47 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Stack two deep Pass Hitch Gallon 17
Gallon gets the NW CB to turn his back, then stops; Robinson tosses it out there on the money. Gallon can turn it up for bonus YAC because the throw is on time and the CB is remembering that one time he got burned like whoah. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
O36 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson -2
It's hard to tell whether this is actually a blitz or if the LBs are just looking for this play; both of them absolutely fly up into the intended gap, overwhelming the lead block of Shaw and getting a TFL. Once too many times to the well. RPS -1.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Shaw
O38 2 12 Shotgun 2back TE 1 2 2 4-4 even Run Sweep Shaw 9
Not quite the pin and pull as this has down blocking, not zone steps; Molk and Schofield pull; Hopkins leads. Koger(+0.5) gets enough of the playside DE to take him out of the play. Hopkins(+2) shoots up into the hole and cuts the playside LB to the ground, getting a 3 for 1 when the guy trailing him and the guy trailing the trailer go down. Schofield kicks the edge guy. Odoms(+1) gets a safety and Shaw(+1) hits the gap for a nice gain. This is not actually a fumble, as the ball comes out when his elbow smashes the ground. We are now tipping runs by inserting Odoms, btw.
RUN+: Shaw, Odoms, Hopkins(2), Koger(0.5), Schofield(0.5) RUN-:
O29 3 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Speed option Robinson -2
Massively aggressive McNaul is massively aggressive, shooting the gap between the two playside doubles. Robinson has two options: pitch to Toussaint who may or may not have it on the edge, or cut back. Cutback is there because the backside DT crumpled to the ground with little provocation (+1 Omameh, I guess). Backside DE is flowing down the line but Robinson is almost certain to get the first down or something close enough to it to go if he just goes straight upfield; instead he tries to dance around that guy and loses two yards.
RUN+: Omameh RUN-: Robinson(2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(48), 9 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 1 2 2 4-4 even Run Pin and pull zone Shaw 6
Huyge and Molk pulling and Omameh and Koger zone step to get playside of their guys. Koger(+1) kills his dude downfield; Omameh(+1) also wins his block. Playside LB reads what's going on and shoots upfield to cut-block Huyge, creating a pile Shaw has to go around. Shaw can cut up or bounce and bounces, which is good because Lewan had no shot at the backside DT. Shaw's speed(+1) gets him the edge as Hopkins(+1) kicks out the corner.
RUN+: Omameh, Koger, Shaw, Hopkins RUN-:
O32 2 4 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 4
Huyge(-1) gets beat on his down-block, erasing any hole that may exist and forcing a cutback. Omameh(+1) blew out the backside DT so there's a gap, one filled by the MLB; Robinson(+1) ducks under him to near the first down.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh RUN-: Huyge
O28 3 in I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Iso Toussaint 2
Lewan moves a hair early and does not get called. Refs +1. Thanks to that his kick is easy, but no plus because he is not playing by the rules. Schofield(+1) kicks his guy; Hopkins(+0.5) gets a block on the MLB but has it shed. That block erases MLB's momentum and allows Toussaint(+0.5) to bowl him over for the first.
RUN+: Hopkins(0.5), Toussaint(0.5), Schofield RUN-:
O26 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 3
Double on playside DT just does work; Huyge(+1) helps Omameh(-0.5) get a push and then releases into the MLB; Omameh almost loses the DT when that happens but Robinson is too quick. CB coming around the outside does not get picked off; Robinson runs through the tackle attempt. Toussaint(+1) nailed McNaul, so there's a crease. Schofield is heading downfield into the safety after a chunk; Robinson is about to pop outside when the playside DE nails him after disconnection from Watson downfield. Not Watson's fault, just a good play. I'm impressed with him. 97: Tyler Scott. Redshirt sophomore. Robinson's bounce attempt holds this to three when he gets six if he just burrows.
RUN+: Huyge, Toussaint RUN-: Omameh(0.5)
O23 2 7 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Pin and pull zone Toussaint -1
Opposition LBs tearing hell bent after this. Schofield's downblock is almost ducked under; he shoves the NT past the play. Both LBs shoot the gap between this and the Koger block; Molk peels to get one of them but is just one dude; McNaul tackles for loss. RPS -1. Had this and the keeper dead.
O24 3 8 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA corner Hemingway 18
Lewan goes to the sideline and Mealer comes in. M puts him at RT, flips Huyge to LT, and places a TE next to Mealer. They run PA. Koger(-2) gets killed by Scott, who comes in to pressure Robinson. He doesn't want to get juked so he comes in slow. Short stuff is covered because the edge LB backed off Toussaint's block into the otherwise open Hopkins, but Denard fires deep anyway, finding Hemingway just in front of a safety. (DO, 2, protection 0/2, Koger -2)
O6 1 G I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Iso Shaw 3
Schofield(+1) seals and sends the playside DT to the ground. Lewan(+0.5) does okay with the DE. Hopkins gets a piece of the MLB; Molk(+0.5) pushes McNaul past the play from the other side as Shaw(+1) deftly cuts between the two.
RUN+: Schofield, Lewan(0.5), Shaw, Molk(0.5) RUN-:
O3 2 G Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 Goal line Run Power off tackle Toussaint -2
MLB blitzes the gap between the playside double and Schofield, making a TFL. RPS or Omameh not adjusting? Not sure. Hopkins(-1) did a crappy job on the edge, though and his guy helps tackle. RPS -1, Omameh off the hook—this would be a hard block to make.
O5 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 5
Omameh(-1) driven back by a bull rush and the MLB hits Toussaint at the LOS so not much in the way of places to go here; Robinson bounces and because the playside LB turned his back to zone drop after chucking Koger the corner is open. Nice block by Dileo.
RUN+: Dileo, Robinson(2) RUN-: Omameh
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-24, 2 min 4th Q

Yay a billion points yay!

Yeah, man, that's a lot of points when you turn the ball over three times and miss a field goal. I'm not entirely sure how they managed it, honestly.

But they have all of the Denards.

Yeah, and all of the third down conversions. For all of the angst about Denard's passing he sure reminded me of John Navarre in the 2004 2002 Ohio State game from time to time. In that game Michigan drives went like this:

  1. 0 yard run
  2. 1 yard run
  3. 15 yard Navarre laser to Avant or Edwards
  4. -2 yard run
  5. 1 yard run
  6. 16 yard Navarre laser to Avant or Edwards

Here Denard got put behind the chains frequently and did this:

And this:

So… yeah. Weird, weird day. When not throwing terrible interceptions he was good. You can see this in the—

CHART

—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%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%
Northwestern '11 4 12(3) 1 7 2 - - - 1 59%

Gardner picked up a TA (the three yard run after a jet fake), a SCR (TD), and a CA+(Jackson to the three).

You can see a couple of those four DOs above, long conversions in small holes in the zone. The one on the last touchdown drive is notable because Koger lost #97* and he proceeded to pressure Denard. Result:

robinson-late-pressure

Also first and goal. Compare that to his first half:

back-foot-2

One of these was a zinger into Hemingway's chest, the other a massively underthrown duck Watson managed to dig out that only wasn't an INT because the guy covering Watson is also one of the guys about four yards away from Denard.

It was remarkable how consistent the mechanical issues were in this game. Back foot was misery, front foot glory. The hope is that's the thing he needs to get corrected and once he does he'll be good at throwing. He certainly was in the second half, when he added two DOs, 5 CAs, and a single understandable IN (the overthrown bomb to Gallon) to a diabolical first half.

*[Who I liked enough to look up on the Northwestern roster: redshirt sophomore Tyler Scott. New starter. Active kid, will be good.]

Let me hear about the receiving corps.

They had an excellent outing.

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

-

- 5/5 2 - - 17/17
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - 0/1 - - - 0/2 1/2 2/2
Jackson - - 1/1 - - - 1/1 -
                 
Koger - 0/1 1/1 1/1 2 1/3 2/3 7/8
Moore - - - - 2 - - -
                 
Toussaint - - - - - - - 1/2
Shaw - - - 1/1 - - - 1/1
Smith - - - - 1 - - 5/6
Hopkins - - - - - - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

No drops and seven instances where receivers brought in medium difficulty throws. It's clear by the way I file these that you should be hauling in well more than half of them but no drops in seven opportunities is pretty good. They were at 58% before Northwestern.

Two of those catches were the bombs to Hemingway and Roundtree that were over 100 of Michigan's 541 total yards; on both the WRs showed excellent skill to high-point the ball.

Roundtree's slow-then-extend technique…

…was not quite as flawless as Manningham's. He still caught around his shoulder-pads, not above his head. But slowing down like that puts the DB in a bind. He can run you over, or he can get his head around because you have implied the ball is well underthrown and he can make a play on it. The slow-to-extend gives the DB the wrong idea about the location of the ball and if done perfectly means the guy can't make a play on it at all. Here he could, but didn't know where it was. Meanwhile, Hemingway is Junior Megatron, as Steve Sapardanis dubbed him on MVictors.

Those plays were not luck, and calling them jump balls is harsh. This was not ND when you were throwing back shoulder fades against over the top coverage (or double coverage) that may not have been that intentional. These were balls that gave the WR an opportunity to make a play in single coverage when they have the advantage.

As for the line, they had a step back:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 4.5 2 2.5 Why so low, numbers? Discussion later.
Barnum - - - DNP
Molk 7 1 6 Best performer.
Omameh 10 7.5 3.5 Thought he'd come out worse than this but more later.
Huyge 9 6.5 2.5 Pretty much his average.
Schofield 12 7 5 Pulling mania. This third down conversion was all him.
Mealer - - - One snap.
Watson 1 3 -2 Not so strong.
Koger 8 2 6 Had a day, yo.
TOTAL 51.5 29 22.5 Ratio drops and overall ++ go down: 50 carries this week.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 12 9.5 2.5 Missed a lot of opportunities and made some bad decisions; still Denard.
Gardner 1 - 1 One scramble, one edge TD.
Toussaint 3.5 2 1.5 Meh day.
Shaw 6 4 2 bounce bounce bounce bounce
Smith 2 1 1 Major step back in usefulness, possibly because of Hopkins…
Hopkins 5.5 2 3.5 …who seemed to usurp Smith's role as blocking dude.
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan - - - DNP
TOTAL 30 18.5 11.5 Not what you'd like to see from 50 carries.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway - - -  
Odoms 2 - -  
Gallon 2.5 2 0.5 --
Roundtree - - -  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo 1 - - --
TOTAL 5.5 2 3.5 Secondary less involved.
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 33 6 85% Koger 2, Schofield 2, Watson 1, Huyge 1
RPS 19 15 4 Solid win.

Michigan averaged 3.6 YPC on 50 carries, which is disturbing. Some of that was on the ballcarriers, especially Robinson, who missed opportunities to pick up first downs, mitigate damage, or break big ones. Some of that is on the line, which went from averaging 2 plus for every minus to a 5:3 ratio. Some of that was RPS. Michigan won it, but break it down into pass and run RPSs and Michigan wins the first massively and loses the second not quite as massively.

Northwestern stacks the line and says "just try to run on us." That's why Michigan got 3.6 YPC, Illinois got 3.1, and why the Wildcat secondary is giving up 12.5 YPA the last two weeks*. The difference on Michigan's long bombs in this game is there was no safety over the top to cause woe.

Even so, I'm a little worried about the run game now. Pass blocking was again very good, though.

*[They gave up a ton to Army but Army is a pure triple option team so overloading the box is something they are designed to handle and getting aggressive gets you gashed.]

What is with those Lewan numbers?

I know, right? 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. Early in the year they were a left-handed power team; now they're right-handed, seemingly because Omameh can't pull and when he does manage to get into the hole without making Denard slow up he gets knocked backwards too often. So they give him the relatively easy job of blocking down and run behind Huyge, who's decent but no Lewan.

Where did Vincent Smith go?

I don't know, man. I think they may have tossed the screen to Shaw just to break a tendency. Smith did get in one of his usual blitz pickups:

I don't think his brief absence in the second half means he's going to lose his playing time as long as he's doing that.

Why do these throwback screens keep working even though they seem bloody obvious?

The throwback screen from under center on waggle action? It works because the playside tackle releases outside, the linebackers have to respect the play action, and Denard Is Job One for opposing defenses:

Borges has been punishing those uber-responsible DEs, so at least the waggle's given us that. 

Scheme complaints of the week?

I would have like to see more play action to punish aggressive linebackers, but I was largely content. Rollouts were minimized and successful, the tunnel screen evaporated, and the I-Form was restricted to passing(!) and short yardage with one or two exceptions.

Nits: the FB dive over the top has run its course and the Denard Jet package was a little too obvious.

Heroes?

The receivers as a unit. Gallon, Hemingway, and Roundtree were flawless and punished Northwestern for their aggression against the run. Also Good Denard.

Goats?

Evil Denard. The offensive line could have done better, and as a group the tailbacks had an off day.

What does it mean for Michigan State and beyond?

If Michigan can't get a ground game going against a cover-two I'll start to get seriously worried but it's hard to judge against a team so hell bent on defending the run they'll put you in crappy single coverage all over the field so your QB can still have an obliterating QB rating despite three terrible interceptions.

So not seriously worried. Still a little worried. Michigan does not run power well but unlike running under center they don't seem to be moving away from it. The stretch blocking on the speed option is still providing cutback lanes, which I like better than the pin and pull because it gives you multiple ways to succeed. It's possible that MSU crushes power blocking, leaving Borges to scramble to find something else after falling behind.

Denard… well. I hope he can step into his throws consistently and that is his only accuracy issue. If so it's a matter of keeping him clean and exploiting overreactions to his legs. This will be a test for him and for Borges. The latter is consistently picking up yards with new stuff; I hope he's got a bundle left before the bye week.