Neck Sharpies: The Tunnel Screen of Doom

Neck Sharpies: The Tunnel Screen of Doom

Submitted by Seth on September 13th, 2017 at 8:42 AM

Re-watching Saturday’s game the damage didn’t look so bad—take away Cincy’s illegal picks and we’re down to quibbles about McCray’s position and Kinnel finally taking a bad angle that one time. There was only one play that Michigan didn’t seem to have an answer for, despite Cincy running it SEVEN times: The tunnel screens.

This is not a new problem; Maryland got 103 yards on four of them last year. Did Fickell find a hole in Don Brown’s attack? Was it a certain player? Was Cincy just good at that?

Quickly: WHAT IS: A TUNNEL SCREEN

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 10.02.35 PM

Coincidentally I got this from Kyle Jones of 11W’s Cincinnati preview in 2014

A tunnel screen is kind of the reverse of a bubble: you block outside-in with a slot guy and bring your receiver inside-out. Typically covered linemen will seek to delay an insta-pass rush while uncovered OL release to cut off the second level.

It’s mostly a counter versus an aggressive man defense because you’re punishing linemen from running upfield so far you can squeeze a ballcarrier and his convoy behind them.

However in this game Cincy was doing some odd stuff with it. I’ve listed them by increasing order of weirdness:

1. Get the Ball to Your Athletes

Like Maryland last year, Cincinnati came into this game with a plan to negate their offensive linemen and trust their athletes in space. Michigan for its part refused to back off the pass rushers, or to change up their simple man assignments for this game. Even on the 7th time they see this, Don Brown is not going to give any quarter inside to win a DT spy. He’d rather David Long wind up the Viper:

Bush did as well as you could ask to redirect with a TE cutting his legs out, but Cincy’s RB caught it in stride and accelerated quickly. Long on the other hand was way more hesitant in his turn at trying to woop the OL and ate a block. Kinnel arrived just in time to make this a 4th and 2.

Part of Michigan’s problem with these all day was the screen targets were very precise in their routes and excellent at accelerating with the catch. Running back Mike Boone (above) and slot receiver Kahlil Lewis were Cincy’s best offensive players, and this play was a good way to put them in a position to make that count.

2. Tight End is Blocking a CB Off the Snap Like It’s a Run Play

Here’s the first tunnel screen against Michigan last week and you can watch the tight end motion across and make the key block on the CB (Long) in man coverage on the screen target (Michigan’s in straight-up Cover 1, with Hudson following the TE across rather than switching with Kinnel).

That gives Cincy a TE rather than a slot receiver removing the man in man-to-man coverage.

image

You’d like David Long to realize faster what’s happening and attack but that’s asking for him to make a big play.

By the way if you’re wondering if the TE can cut block while the ball is in the air, this is contact within a yard of the line of scrimmage and thus a legal block:

ARTICLE 8. b.Offensive pass interference is contact by a Team A player beyond the neutral zone that interferes with a Team B player during a legal forward pass play in which the forward pass crosses the neutral zone. It is the responsibility of the offensive player to avoid the opponents. It is not offensive pass interference (A.R. 7-3-8-IV, V, X, XV and XVI):

  1. When, after the snap, a Team A ineligible player immediately charges and contacts an opponent at a point not more than one yard beyond the neutral zone and maintains the contact for no more than three yards beyond the neutral zone.

The releasing center’s block on McCray wouldn’t be a legal block if he made contact with McCray, but he is just getting in the way and that too is legal.

image

Hudson is able to recover but now the receiver has momentum and gets 6 yards. Now that it was on tape Cincy eschewed the subterfuge and usually lined up the receiver directly behind the tight end in a stack.

On the second tunnel screen (to the RB) they get Devin Bush playing off coverage, but the TE can still lock onto Long and take him for a ride.

image

I circled the TE’s block on Long this time because this play erroneously made the (mostly legit) list of missed offensive PI plays. But read that same rule above again:

ARTICLE 8. b.Offensive pass interference is contact by a Team A player beyond the neutral zone that interferes with a Team B player during a legal forward pass play in which the forward pass crosses the neutral zone. It is the responsibility of the offensive player to avoid the opponents. It is not offensive pass interference (A.R. 7-3-8-IV, V, X, XV and XVI):

The ball is caught behind the line of scrimmage, which the NCAA defines as a run for downfield blocking purposes. With Long blocked out by a TE it’s now all three interior OL escorting the RB downfield. Two of them are doing what you’d expect: the right guard authoritatively cuts out Devin Bush’s legs to make a lane, and the center is trundling downfield to take out Michigan’s last defender, Tyree Kinnel.

[After the jump: Seth loses his sanity, then we have five more of these]

Upon Further Review: Offense vs SDSU

Upon Further Review: Offense vs SDSU

Submitted by Brian on 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!

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs EMU

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs EMU

Submitted by Brian on September 22nd, 2011 at 1:26 PM

Gratuitous Video:

So my youtube account has been closed after a series of copyright claims by one of the companies that goes around doing that. Thus no video as I try to sort it out with them. They did get back to my email and I should get a call in w/ a relevant person shortly. We'll see how that goes.

Substitution notes: Status quo, mostly. Smith and Toussaint are obviously the top two backs this instant. Odoms is still an infrequent participant because of the cast; Dileo appears to be in front of Jackson and Jerald Robinson (who we still haven't seen) beyond Hemingway/Roundtree/Gallon on the depth chart.

Schofield got in a bit, once as a goal-line tight end and once spotting Barnum late. I believe that was a shoe issue.

Formation notes: A heavier dose of shotgun than Borges was calling for for obvious reasons. Michigan's using a little motion from the gun now, something RR never did, and this semi-stack formation is making somewhat frequent appearances:

trips-stack-ish

That's still shotgun trips to me, FWIW.

Show? Depleted show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 under Run Iso Toussaint 8
Running at the backside gap left by the under shift. Good combo block by Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) kicks out a DT and gets Omameh on to the MLB. Huyge(+1) locks out playside DT; McColgan(+1) crumbles WLB. Toussaint can just go straight upfield.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Huyge, McColgan RUN-:
M43 2 2 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-5 under Run Pin and pull zone Robinson 4
Both safeties in the box. Michigan goes to the pin and pull we've seen a few times that is apparently their preferred outside running play. EMU slants to it and prevents any of their guys from getting sealed(RPS -1). They have this killed, basically, except the backside DT gets way upfield and stumbles when he should be tackling Robinson on his slow-as-hell cutback. No points for anyone. Lucky. Q: why not throw the long handoff here? Or a hitch or something?
M47 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under Pass Tunnel screen Robinson 14
Denard pulls it down. I'm not sure why since the WR seems open. Hesitant after last week, or can he see this is going to get crushed because a DT is going to release right into it? I guess I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Screen gone he's got guys in his face and Denards it for a first down. (SCR, N/A, N/A. Target: Gallon)
RUN+: Robinson(3) RUN-:
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-4 under Run Zone read dive Toussaint 4
Linebackers are already sprinting at the mesh point, so this is tough. Backside DE forms up; correct handoff. Omameh and Huyge(+1) execute a good combo block on the local DT, kicking him out. Omameh is about to release into the second level when the sprinting linebacker is in his face. Omameh manages to get a shove on him. Unblocked MLB sitting in the hole now; Toussaint cuts back, where Huyge's block and the delay on the backside DE by the read fake get him a few yards. RPS -1.
RUN+: Omameh, Huyge RUN-:
O35 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie? Run QB power Robinson 1
No one in a three point stance here as EMU gets fancy. Michigan runs power at it and has a huge hole... and a guy running at Robinson right behind the down-blocking Barnum(-2). Barnum's fault, sure, but also an RPS -1. The other blocks are easy by design here so no pluses. RUN-: Barnum(2)
O34 3 5 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel press Pass Dumpoff Smith Inc
Huyge(-1) beaten by the EMU DE. Bodes unwell. Robinson does have enough time to get to a second read after he doesn't like the first. Why? Not sure. Hemingway had separation and was running an open in for a first down, but the two(!) spies EMU is running are reading his eyes and might leap to bat it or worse. He checks to Smith running an out in front of a linebacker. Throw is a little bit off but Smith just drops this. (CA, 3, protection ½, Huyge)
O34 4 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 3 Nickel press Pass Hitch Hemingway Int
EMU sends two up the middle and it's picked up well enough by the rest of the line; Smith(-1) gets chucked on his block attempt and only delays his guy briefly. Denard throws a hitch to a pretty well covered Hemingway. He's got a window if he throws it a bit upfield; instead it's way too far inside and the EMU DB has a play on the ball. To his credit, he makes it. (IN, 0, protection 2/3, Smith –1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 9 min 1st Q. Both of these last two passes were accurate-ish but made more difficult by tight coverage.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M1 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 1
Koger(-2) stood up by the DE he's assigned to on the goal line; DE fights his way inside of him and completely prevents any hole outside. Toussaint sees this and starts cutting backside. He may have a hole but Koger's block was so poor his guy comes up to tackle. RUN-: Koger(2)
M2 2 9 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 even Pass Hitch Roundtree Inc
Batted back in his face. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
M2 3 9 Shotgun trips 1 0 3 Nickel Pass Rollout sack Robinson 0
Smith(-2) whiffs his cut on the edge and these routes, which all look long, do not have a chance to develop. Denard steps up and is swarmed. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Smith -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint -1
Moore(-2) is blown up by the DE opposite him, who plows into the backfield and removes blockers and any semblance of a hole. Also they're running from the I against nine in the box. I remember handing out RPS -1s for these in the DeBord era. RUN-: Moore(2)
M20 2 11 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA Wheel Koger Inc
Yay second and 11 play action from a formation we average 2 YPC from. EMU has two deep safeties, a rarity, and the linebackers don't bite at all. One of them gets a chuck on Koger just as Denard releases the ball on his wheel route. This is pretty awesome: Koger fake blocks for three seconds and then releases and the EMU LB is right there waiting for him. I think this (no PI) is legit since the contact started before the ball was in the air and was not maintained too long. Actually a good throw without the coverage. The rare (CA, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)
M20 3 11 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel Pass Panic ??? Inc
Four man rush on which Omameh and Molk block a guy, and then both stop blocking him. In Molk's case it was to peel off and block a guy who had beaten Barnum; Omameh blocks air. Denard is pressured, avoids a sack, avoids another sack, steps up, and rifles a ball eight yards over someone's head. Not even sure who. Tacopants special. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Barnum -1, Omameh -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 13 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M3 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Robinson 52
Why everyone has forgotten how to defend this I'll never know. Basic zone read, DE crashes down, TE heads for OLB, other LBs rush to frontside of play, Denard in open field. He accelerates past two guys and rips off a big one. Tree gets a great block AAAAAH. RPS +3.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Roundtree(2) RUN-:
O45 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Down G Robinson 4
EMU DE does a great job recognizing the pull and backing out once he's left unblocked; he drops out, gets wide, picks off Toussaint, and forces the play inside. +2 that guy. Since Omameh and Molk have both pulled the backside D is running down the line—Barnum has no shot—and tackles from behind. They still get some yards because there's no one in front of Denard thanks to Huyge(+1) getting a good seal on the other NT and Koger(+1) improvising to peel off and block a linebacker after the DE exited stage left.
RUN+: Huyge, Koger RUN-:
O41 2 6 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB power Robinson -2
Barnum(-3) pulls and inexplicably runs by the blitzing LB, who plasters Denard. If that's picked up he might be able to dance for considerable yardage.
O43 3 8 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel press Run QB draw Robinson 22
This is a complete fiasco (RPS -1). EMU sends two blitzers; Michigan lets one through and picks up another at the expense of letting a DT through unblocked. Smith(+1) picks off one LB, and Denard(+3) jets past that DT—lucky. I think Barnum was right there to get the LB—closest to the play—and Lewan(-1) had to slide to make the far side DE the threat. After Denard passes the DT he's got smooth sailing since Molk(+2) and Omameh(+2) have kicked the crap out of two defenders. Denard cuts back for extra yardage, then fumbles(-3) because he's not carrying it high and tight.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Molk(2), Omameh(2), Smith RUN-: Lewan, Robinson(3)
O21 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA TE flat Koger 12
EMU in man; guy on Koger blasts into one of his own guys and falls. Wide open. Denard's getting quick pressure and flicks a soft one to Koger; he turns it up for good yardage. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O9 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 0
Denard checks into a bad play; EMU slants to this. Molk(-1) senses the slant and tries to pass his guy off to Omameh(-1), who is unprepared. This is for no purpose since Lewan has handled the backside DE. Robinson cuts back right into this dude and gets planted. RUN-: Omameh, Molk
O9 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass PA quick seam Koger 9
Zone read fake into a quick seam. LBs take one step to the LOS and that's all M needs. Good timing, catch, touchdown. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 5
EMU scrape exchange does not sucker Denard; he hands off. EMU slants playside; Toussaint(+1) cuts behind it. Unfortunately, Koger is blocking the backside DE along with Huyge so the MLB is unblocked and can react to the cutback. Need one of those guys to hit it up in the hole and Toussaint is into the secondary. I want to minus one of Koger or Huyge for a missed assignment but no idea who. Ohh: team. RUN-: Team
RUN+: Omameh, Toussaint RUN-: Team
M18 2 5 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-4 under Run Pin and pull zone Robinson -2
All right, I'm officially annoyed at this play. It's crap. It's hard to execute, never gives you cutbacks, and doesn't allow Molk to reach fools. Why not use the stretch? Here a blitzer off the edge gets past three blockers, forcing a cutback, where hard-flowing EMU defenders cut Denard down. RPS -2. RUN-: Shaw(2)
M16 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Rollout fly Hemingway Inc
Too long. Stupid route package on third and medium-ish. Literally no short routes (RPS -1). (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel Run Zone read keeper Robinson 12
Derpity doo. Backside DE plunges inside; no scrape. Denard pulls. Slot LB chucks Dileo. Denard pulls, runs, etc. Stupidly easy. RPS +2.
RUN+: Lewan, Robinson RUN-:
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Down G Robinson 12
Omameh and Molk pull; Huyge(-1) ignores the playside DT. That's a problem, but it's kind of his job since he's pulling (RPS –1). DT gets into the pullers way fast. Denard has to hold up, reverse field, and beat everyone to the backside of the play. He breaks a kid's ankles out there for fun. No video : (
RUN+: Robinson(3) RUN-: Huyge(2)
M37 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 ??? Run Down G Smith 38
Finally they execute this stuff correctly, or at least I think so. It's possible Omameh still screwed up but we come to the play late as Lewan(+2) is plowing the playside DE inside and pullers are pulling. Barnum(+1) nails a linebacker. Koger(+2) kicks out a defensive end authoritatively. Smith(+1)... runs behind this stuff. Molk has no one to block, even. Hemingway(+2) plows an EMU DB into the sideline, allowing Smith to cut back behind him(+1) again, wherupon Molk(+1) whacks some pursuers. Keys here are Koger and Lewan and Barnum.
RUN+: Smith, Lewan(2), Koger, Barnum, Molk, Hemingway RUN-:
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 3
This opens up beautifully as EMU's dudes get way upfield (RPS +1) but Robinson cuts it backside when he's got Tousssaint leading him through a huge hole frontside. This kills all the blocking angles.
RUN+: Molk RUN-: Robinson(2)
O22 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 11
This is a lovely little run. EMU WLB is scraping on Robinson, albeit slowly. EMU is slanting over the top. Omameh(+1) pancakes his guy and Huyge(+1) controls his, shooting him down the line; Toussaint(+2) reads the blocking and has the darting agility to cut back behind the Huyge block, avoid the scraping LB's tackle as he recovers, come back inside Molk's block of the MLB, and almost burst into the secondary before an ankle tackle takes him down.
RUN+: Toussaint(2), Huyge, Omameh RUN-:
O11 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB power Robinson 11
EMU slants hard and M adjusts well. Playside DT slants past Lewan; Barnum(+1) finds him and kicks him down the line. He dead. Molk(+1) buries the other guy. Lewan(+2) releases straight downfield and clobberates the MLB, but it's Koger(+2) who wins block of the play by adjusting to a DE slanting under him and pounding him inside to pancake. From there it's easy.
RUN+: Koger(2), Lewan(2), Barnum, Molk RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-3, 39 sec 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power read Robinson 8
Insert scare quotes around read in that play description—I don't think this is an actual read. Line blocks down and Huyge pulls around, aiming for the hole between Barnum and Lewan. Both those guys get great kickout blocks(+1 each). Molk(+1) is aided by the sweep action that sucks the MLB a step the wrong way; he gets position and spends a long time controlling him. Huyge(+1) picks off the other LB and Denard has acres. Safety comes down quickly to hold the play down. RPS +1 for the ease of these blocks thanks to the misdirection.
RUN+: Molk, Lewan, Huyge, Barnum, Omameh RUN-:
M25 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read dive Toussaint 0
EMU has a playcall on to defeat this play, with two guys on the backside of the defense. One heads right for Robinson; handoff. The inside guy hands right for Toussaint, who has to cut back because the over-shifted DL is slanting under the blocks. Toussaint gets nailed by the DT. RPS -2. No chance of this getting yards.
M25 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run QB power Robinson 2
Running at a crowded area. Adequate kickout from Koger; Omameh is also doing his job on a DT. Huyge(-1) gets chucked by the playside DE, who is now sitting playside where Barnum and Toussaint are trying to block guys. Denard cuts back behind this directly into a charging safety, who gives him a stiff shot. Denard manages to spin off it and just gets the first down.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh RUN-: Huyge
M27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under Pass Wheel oh noes Toussaint Inc
Draw fake into play action. Denard doesn't have much time because there's an unblocked DE in on him; he has to step back and loft one. Linebackers have sucked up, though, and Toussaint's wheel is open for a nice chunk. Denard gets it to him but Toussaint drops it. He then gets lit up because either the throw is too lofted (probably not) or late (probably); still, this should have been 15 yards or so. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
M27 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read dive Smith 27
Again Smith is blessed with acres of space as EMU blitzes a linebacker to the frontside of the play; Huyge(+1) kicks him way upfield. Omameh(+1) controls the DT to that side and there's a big gap that opens with no one there to contain. Smith(+1) reads it and is off, his little legs bumping and his little head waving back and forth as he just tries to go so fast. And it does seem like he's outrunning this EMU safety just before he uses the last bits of his angle to tackle. RPS+2; there are like three dudes on the backside surrounding Robinson by the time Smith breaks outside.
RUN+: Omameh, Huyge, Smith RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Smith 5
LBs slide to the Denard side of a hypothetical zone read. This is a spot where there should be an auto-check to a bubble. EMU line slants playside; backside DE pulls up for contain and Denard hands off. Barnum(+1) is not going to seal his guy and so adjusts, blowing him down the line and providing a cutback lane. Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) blow up their dudes; Lewan(-1) gets a second level block but that guy pops off to the interior to tackle.
RUN+: Barnum, Omameh, Molk RUN-: Lewan
O41 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-4 base Run Zone read keeper Robinson 8
And then EMU forgets how to defend this again. EMLOS is kicked out by Koger; playside LB blitzes at the RB. Backside DT gets so hammered by Huyge(+1) that Omameh gets nailed by that block as he tries to get out on the MLB, so he can scrape. Robinson sees this and tries to pop outside Koger, does, stops when the contain comes, pops back inside the now-helmetless Koger(+1 for picking up another block), and shoots up for a first down. I think he basically had the first down if he just slams it up, but +1 for entertainment value alone. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson, Koger, Huyge RUN-:
O33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass PA TE flat Koger Inc
Don't like this PA because it's stretch action. Michigan hasn't run a stretch this year. The backside LB does not bite and backs off. Koger is still open; Denard wings it high. Would have been five yards and an instant tackle if accurate. (IN, 2, protection N/A)
O33 2 10 I-Form twins 1 2 2 4-4 even Pass Fake dive to pitch Smith 14
I have no idea why this should work. It's second and ten. If M hands it to the fullback, EMU OLB, you don't have to care. Unblocked EMLOS sucks in; playside LB does too; Lewan(+1) kills that guy; Molk(+1) gets the other LB, doesn't really matter because the EMLOS is now chasing Smith outside. Once on the corner he gets a fantastic mountain goat block from Odoms(+2) and an almost as good block from Gallon(+1) to pick up the first. He's actually tackled by the pursuing DE; he gets through that and he could be going a long way. RPS +1.
RUN+: Odoms(2), Lewan, Molk, Gallon RUN-:
O19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 12
Opens up as Barnum(+1) blows the DT past his intended spot and Robinson holds the EMLOS outside. Molk(+1) and Lewan(+1) get linebackers and this opens up cavernously. Toussaint makes an inexplicable decision to cut back outside instead of trying to shoot past the safety for the endzone but makes up for it by spinning through three(!) EMU tacklers and picking up the first.
RUN+: Barnum, Molk, Lewan, Toussaint RUN-:
O7 1 G Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Run QB power Robinson 0
Molk(+1) and Barnum(+1) seal and erase the backside DL; big cutback hole. EMU has overloaded the frontside and prevented a gap from forming despite decent blocking out there; Omameh(-1) does not adjust to the reality of the play and runs up Lewan's back; Robinson(-2) misses an obvious cutback lane that would be six points.
RUN+: Molk, Barnum RUN-: Omameh, Robinson(2)
O7 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA rollout scramble Robinson 6
Again: stretch action we only use for PA. This is the same play we scored that TD with in the first RR game except this time instead of Shaw releasing into the flat it's Koger. Opponents have this scouted and Koger is blanketed, as is Grady. Robinson engages Tate Mode, starts running around like a lunatic, totally fails to see Toussaint alone in the endzone, and runs down to the one. That's just how he do. (SCR, N/A, N/A)
RUN+: Robinson, Lewan, Barnum RUN-:
O1 3 G Goal line 2 0 3 Goal line Run FB dive Toussaint 1
The third TE is actually Schofield, lined up at LT while Lewan lines up next to Huyge on the right. Borges loves FB dives from the one and orders one up; Toussaint leaps over the pile before EMU defenders can react.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 9 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run QB draw Robinson 0
More of a last year play than the power stuff we've gotten a lot of; Rawls(-1) is the RB and his lead block is running straight into the secondary. Omameh(-1) is shoved back and can't get much of a handle on his DT; Koger(-1) runs straight up his back instead of adjusting, and Denard runs into Koger. Last year these QB draw-type plays were MANBALL plays with both DTs getting doubled, and usually blown off the ball... this draw action is a little goofy given the context. RUN-: Omameh, Rawls, Koger
M25 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Robinson 5
I don't understand defenses this year! DE crashes down, no scraper, pull, problems for D. The playside LB does get outside Lewan, forcing a cutback that's relevant because Molk got confused because he had no one to block, looked around, and ended up not taking the overhang guy to the short side. That guy tackles. RPS +1
RUN+: Robinson RUN-: Molk
M30 3 5 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Drag Gallon 18
Gallon motions in from the outside to more of a slot-type position. EMU sends five on a zone blitz; picked up. Denard has a great pocket and finds Gallon on his drag in front of the zone. Gallon grabs the ball, runs through a tackle, and picks up a nice gain. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
M48 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Pin and pull zone Smith 5
Argh. The totally unblocked NT follows Molk's pull, causes Molk to peel off to block. Unblocked playside DE takes out the other puller. Lewan(+2) got a great sealing block that gives the weakside LB a terrible choice; he goes upfield and around and erases himself, except he doesn't because a filling safety forces Smith back inside and gets him. This gets five yards with great play from virtually the entire O. RPS -1.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith, Molk RUN-:
O47 2 5 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Tunnel screen Gallon 1
This never works. You know what would be more effective than this? Throwing it directly to Gallon. His corner is ten yards off him. RPS -1. Also EMU zone blitzes such that they have a DL in a short zone right in front of this. No chance; Gallon does well to get a yard and gets lit up for his trouble. (CA, 3, screen)
O48 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Scramble Robinson 19
EMU sends five; picked up. They're in man behind it, so when Omameh blasts the DT way upfield and a lane opens it's easy for Denard to pick up the first. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh RUN-:
O29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Smith 6
Blitzer off the corner for contain; Robinson hands it off. Another guy on the edge is there for the cutback and gets inside of Koger, but it's not his fault. Lewan(+1) gets a good block to shove the slanting DL down the line and Smith(+1) sees the lane, hitting it for decent yardage. EMU had a good call on and M still got yards. RPS: confused.
RUN+: Smith, Lewan RUN-:
O23 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA Rollout comeback Roundtree Inc
More PA that uses stretch action M never runs. DE out in Robinson's face because he knows Rawls isn't getting the ball. Robinson forms up and has to throw; it's upfield of Roundtree and not a super great throw but he has to get it away from the DB and this isn't that difficult a catch. It's a 2, but with a guy in your face a 16 yard 2 is okay. The real problem is Hemingway was wiiide open for a TD because of a bust and Robinson missed him. Guy in his face, though. (CA, 2, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O23 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB iso Robinson 4
Schofield in. This is closer to last year's play. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) double the NT and proceed to drive him back. Molk(+1) then peels off to nail the MLB. The play seems to be going off tackle behind Omameh(-1) but he just passively sits and accepts the opponent like it's a draw. Last year he'd be doubling with the tackle. Denard has to cut behind Omameh, is hesitant, and then hits it up; Lewan(-1) did not control his guy and he comes off to tackle at the sticks.
RUN+: Molk(2), Schofield RUN-: Lewan, Omameh
O19 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Pin and pull zone Smith 0
Clown show: Omameh(-2) pulls and gets three yards upfield, blocking no one ever. Molk was trying to pull too and couldn't because doing so would let the NT into the backfield. Two unblocked LBs tackle Smith at the LOS. RPS -2.
RUN-: Omameh(2), Koger
O19 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Oh Noes Dileo 19
QB iso to throw, you know the drill. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-3, 1 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M12 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Shaw 3
Linebackers crashing on handoff, whatever, 28-3, no more RPS. Still think Denard should keep since his contain guy is getting nailed by Dileo; the handoff ain't right. Barnum does okay with his guy but he's slanting; cutback. The contain guy destined for Shaw thumps him. Any yards available because of Lewan.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-: Robinson
M15 2 7 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 under Pass PA Hitch Jackson 12
This is the kind of thing I am talking about. PA zone read sucks six EMU defenders in because it is an inside zone and Robinson has his choice of targets. Dileo looks tantalizing again, but Denard goes with Jackson on a five-yard hitch. Denard hits him, Jackson makes an orbit step around the defender trying to tackle and picks up the first. Vintage 2010. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run QB power Robinson 9
An accidental combo block from Huyge, who is taking on the playside DE, and Barnum, who is pulling on the power. Huyge blocks the DE and slides off him. He finds himself downfield, so he blocks the MLB who has slid playside. Barnum(+1) comes around to kick out the DE who slid off Huyge. This gives Denard a lane because Omameh(+1) sealed the playside DT away. Denard(+1) sees the lane and makes the cut for near first down yardage.
RUN+: Huyge, Barnum, Omameh, Robinson RUN-:
M36 2 1 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Pin and pull zone Toussaint -1
I really hate this play. The playside EMU DT reads the pull over him and pulls himself, avoiding Lewan's block and turning himself into an extra defender. EMU LB gets outside Barnum, another takes on Molk, and there is nowhere for Toussaint to go. Pulling DT(!) makes a TFL. RPS -2.
M35 3 2 Ace trips bunch 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Pitch sweep Smith 11
I called this from the stands: again, this is a play that has no relation to anything M has previously run and almost gives itself away by formation. Still works. It does so because Huyge(+2) gets playside of the playside DE and when he threatens to come under to flow down the line he adjusts beautifully to kick him away, which also gets rid of the playside DT. A sad Jackson(-1) cut block just gets him out of the play and EMU is flowing hard down the line, but Smith(+2) reads all this and cuts behind it, then jukes a safety for a good chunk more.
RUN+: Smith(2), Huyge(2) RUN-: Jackson
M46 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Smith 12
Good kickout of playside DT by Barnum(+1); Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB and nails him. Omameh can't get playside of his DT, which would be hard; Smith(+2) is able to slice through the narrow gap that results. Secondary converges.
RUN+: Smith(2), Barnum, Molk RUN-:
M44 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 under Pass PA Post Roundtree Inc
Motion into twins reveals man. Robinson makes a terrible decision to throw into double coverage when he had acres of space to run in and maybe Koger if he really insisted on throwing. Pass is broken up. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
M44 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-4 over Run QB power Robinson 5
Late motion seems to confuse EMU D. Koger(+1) gets a good seal on the playside DE. Dileo(-1) whiffs on the nickelback and this forces Denard(+1) to cut outside, evading the guy. Bounce robs Odoms of an angle on his guy; that guy runs Robinson OOB.
RUN+: Robinson, Koger RUN-: Dileo
M49 3 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 0 4 Okie? Pass Post Gallon 38
EMU blitzes for five rushers; picked up. With a great pocket, Denard's first read is Gallon on a post similar to the one he missed against ND late. This time he zings it into Gallon for tons of yards. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)
O13 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 6
Momentary double from Molk helps Barnum(+1) destroy the playside DT; Molk(+2) then gets out on the LB. That's basically the play. Omameh does okay with the other DT, but he flows down the line. Toussaint has room afforded by the annihilation of the other dude and does all he can to hit that hole fast for good yardage.
RUN+: Molk(2), Barnum RUN-:
O7 2 4 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 3
It seems like these guys are way more mechanical on the power than they are on the zone. Here Omameh pulls around. Okay, fine. Barnum blocks down on the playside DT, he gets a little penetration, Omameh has a tough angle to get around. He does. And then he runs right into Lewan for no friggin reason, because Lewan is blocking a dude and EMU has two LB/S types to the inside. Slow your roll, block a dude. Lewan's excellent push and Denard keeping his balance after being hit gets this near the sticks.
RUN+: Lewan, Robinson RUN-: Omameh
O4 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Pass PA TE out Koger Inc
PA fake to waggle gets Koger open, but Robinson just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: FG, 31-3, 4 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted.

Let's get to the spread/shotgun comparison.

Impatient, I see. This week the run breakdown is close: 7.8 yards from the shotgun and 7.2 from under center. Vincent Smith helped by ripping off a 38-yarder from an ace three-wide set. Here's another number: Michigan averaged 11.2 yards per carry on the zone read, which was called 15(!) times. A full breakdown follows.

  • Down G: 3 carries at 18 YPC thanks to long Smith run, 12 yarder from Robinson.
  • Pin and pull zone: 5 carries at 1.2 YPC. I may have confused some of these with Down G. I picked up an ID point in the comments of the linked Smart Football post so I'll be better about it in the future.
  • Pitch sweep: 1 for 11 yards.
  • Iso: 2 for 6 YPC.
  • Traditional QB draws: 3 for 8.3 YPC, though the bulk of those were on a "complete fiasco" Denard turned into magic.
  • Power: 12 for 3.1 YPC. This includes a single "power read"
  • Inside zone read: 15 at 11.2 YPC.

Opponents' sudden inability to defend the zone read, which seemed like a solved problem, remains mystifying. Borges isn't doing anything fancy: the TE flares out to hit the playside LB, they run inside zone, and four times a game Robinson has no one covering him. Is it a combo with all the (unsuccessful) power from the shotgun? I don't know yet, but I'll try to figure it out.

So, here you make the complaints about MANBALL.

The numbers speak for themselves, I think. I'll look into the possibility the heavy dose of power is opening up the zone reads.

And Denard?

Here we must—

I'm afraid. Hold me.

chart.

[Hey: sorry about dropping the table legend out the past couple weeks. It returns. Hit the UFR FAQ for a fuller explanation of the abbreviations, but basically the first five columns are regular old throws in decreasing order of quality (dead on, catchable, marginal, inaccurate, and bad read) and the remainder are exceptional events that do not result in a catchable pass downfield (throwaway, batted, pressure, scramble).

UPDATE: I actually put the legend back in this time. Seriously. Hover over column headers.]

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%

Denard didn't throw into double coverage all day—he only did it once—but that downfield accuracy remains troublesome. I don't think Denard got a lot of help from certain playcalls, about which more later, but the issues are still there.

He could have gotten some help from his receivers, though:

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

-

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

Two flat drops and two failures to make help-me-out-here catches in 11 opportunities to catch a ball is a drag, man. Pick up three of the four and Denard's day looks a little less turrible statistically.

The OL:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 13 3 10 The most natural fit in donkey hating offense
Barnum 10 5 5 Struggled early (was –5 at one point) and recovered well
Molk 16 2 14 Ass kicking day.
Omameh 10 7 3 Pulling not a specialty
Huyge 9 2 7 Surprising amount of power run over him.
Schofield 1 - - A few plays.
Mealer - - - DNP
Moore - 2 -2 One major whiff
Koger 7 4 3 Pretty good.
TOTAL 66 25 41 The kind of numbers you put up after rushing for 376 yards. Also a TEAM –1 in here.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 18 8 10 Fumble was –3 and ultimately harmless.
Gardner - - - Not charted
Toussaint 3 - 3 Still think he's better than Smith…
Shaw - 2 -2 Hardly got a carry. Whiffed one block.
Smith 9 - 9 …but my numbers don't. Caveat: Smith –3 pass blocking.
Hopkins - - - Doghouse
Rawls - 1 -1 Comical missed block
McColgan 1 - - Early iso, then gone.
TOTAL 31 9 22 Contributions from non-Denards: can they last?
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway 2 - 2 One good block.
Odoms 2 - 2 I'm so mad about the video. Need moar mountain goat.
Gallon 1 - 1 --
Roundtree 2 - 2 AAAH block on one Denard keeper
Grady - - - --
Jackson - 1 -1 weak cut
Dileo - 1 -1 --
TOTAL 7 2 5 Productive downfield.
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 15 6 71% Smith 3, Barnum 1, Omameh 1, Huyge 1
RPS 16 17 -1 not worried about this vs EMU

That's the usual crushing day you'd expect an OL to have when you average 7.5 YPC against an EMU-type opponent. The big takeaway above is Vincent Smith.

I thought you were all like "no, Vincent Smith, go away, be a complementary player, boo Vincent Smith, boo"?

You are exceptionally aggressive this year, fictional alter-ego. As to your question, well, yeah, kinda. I mean, these are the kind of holes he was offered:

smith-gaping

It takes vision to find the offensive linemen on plays like this, not the hole. He still seems to be moving in slow motion to me, though on one run—this one, actually—it looks like he's outrunning the safety as the guy completes his pursuit. I'm a bit concerned he won't be able to get the corner or into the secondary against teams faster than the Eagles.

That said, he did pick up a lot of positives in nine carries (some were for blocking) and he seems to remain healthy. I like Toussaint better—I think he's got more upside—but Smith's earned a hunk of the carries. Let the two of them fight it out on the field.

Are you less of a sourpuss about the offensive design now?

I'm not exactly happy that we can't run from under center against the likes of Eastern Michigan, but I have to admit my reaction to the pro-style aspects of the first quarter was a lot like watching Jonathan Bornstein in a pre-World Cup friendly: if it's going to be bad I want it to be so bad that not even Bob Bradley thinks it's a good idea to keep it up when things count for real*. Twenty-six Denard carries later that seems established.

*[If we're extending this metaphor to its logical conclusion, the pro-style will be forced onto the field by events beyond the coaches' control during the Big Ten season and be surprisingly serviceable before being exiled to the dustbin of history.]

So… somewhat. I'm still mystified why they keep running this pin and pull zone, which seems incredibly vulnerable to slants and the like and doesn't seem to, like, work. Ever. It's a play that gets to the outside. I know the zone stretch is like drinking the wrong kind of light beer made from rice and by Europeans, but we're good at drinking those.

And then, you know, it's like… I'm just…

auto-bubble-plz

This should never happen. Michigan should not allow opponents to align like this without putting a bubble in their face. They'd run Smith for five, which is good, I guess, but there's an obvious risk of not getting that five that is not there if you throw the bubble. Lloyd threw the bubble. It's okay!

And then I'm all like just you know…

gallon-tunnel-whatgallon-tunnel-what

This ended up being a Gallon tunnel screen for zero yards when just throwing it to the dude is a first down. Tunnel screens may work in offenses where you have a bunch of guys roaring upfield because they need pass rush. In this offense you have a bunch of guys being extraordinarily careful not to give Denard rushing lanes and always extra guys in the box. I mean…

gallon-tunnel-2

…that's not good eats. Okay, this was a zone blitz that got lucky, but they gave you a first down by alignment. Take the first down! Don't throw screens into the box when there are extra guys in the box! Death to the tunnel screen!

tunnels-screen-liberation-society

JOIN THE TUNNEL SCREEN LIBERATION SOCIETY
WE'RE WORKING ON THE COLOR SCHEME

So by "somewhat" you mean not at all, then.

These are admittedly nits. If you're ever going to RPS yourself into a bloody forehead it should be against Eastern, and Michigan didn't even do that thanks to everyone's inexplicable ability to defend a zone read.

The thing that concerns me for the immediate future is the grab-bag nature of the offense. Many of the misdirection plays not copped from last year's offense (ie oh noes) are not actually alternatives to the things we actually run. The throwback screen against ND is a great example. That played off our offense's tendency to… roll the pocket from under center on first and ten? That worked once. It won't work consistently.

The best example of this is Michigan's rollout play action from the shotgun, which is an exact replica of what Rodriguez used to do. The problem: it uses stretch action and Michigan's stretch count this year is… zero. If you see stretch blocking it has been 100% PA this year. Eastern was wise to this.

Usual disclaimers apply: Borges is a smart dude. Dragging the throwback screen out did work. I enjoy the coordinator pressers so, so hard.

Heroes?

Most of the offensive line with special commendation to Molk and Lewan. Ground Denard. Vincent Smith.

Goats?

Air Denard.

What does it mean for SDSU and the future?

We keep moving more towards a spread offense that uses Denard's legs to get receivers open enough for Denard's arms to hit them. "Moving towards" might be a understating it after Robinson had 26 carries for 198 yards against Eastern. In retrospect, I kind of think the odd decision to have Denard out there running with a 28-3 lead on EMU was less about getting the offense practice and more about getting Borges practice.

So, expect Michigan to come out next week with Denard's legs as the focus early; SDSU will be an opponent to respect for at least 45 minutes and probably 60. Borges knows Long pretty well but Long doesn't know what Borges will do with Denard, largely because I'm not sure Borges does. I doubt we'll see stuff from under center until the second quarter. I'm hoping we see more pieces that fit together this week.

Long term, this is still Denard's offense, which means Borges has to get him in his comfort zone throwing. They also have to either tighten up their power game or consider wussy basketball on grass, because the manball is not operational yet.