Moving Picture Pages

Moving Picture Pages

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on October 29th, 2010 at 12:39 PM

A video version of Losing Contain, Again Again and (More) Freshman DB Doom.

I love MGoBlog's Picture Pages posts, but I'm so obtuse that sometimes I can't follow them in still shots or even the unadorned play video. To overcome this, I created an annotated video companion to the two latest Picture Pages. I'll probably keep doing this for the rest of the year [Ed-M: Yes, please!] as making them really helped me figure out what Brian was talking about in the original posts (included text is with his permission, BTW).

Apologies in advance to those who have already seen part of this in the Iowa UFR Errata post, but there's new stuff here too.

Losing Contain, Again Again:

The sitch: Iowa has a 3rd and 3 from Michigan's 11 yard line, late in the 3rd quarter. They come out with an unbalanced I-form which they've used to little effect during the day, Michigan answers with a 4-4 with both cornerbacks lined up over the two receivers on the weakside. M blitzes the strongside safety (Kovacs), meaning Jonas Mouton is now the outside guy. He takes the inside shoulder of Iowa's tackle, meaning there's nobody left to contain outside. Iowa scores.

(More) Freshman DB Doom:

The sitch: Iowa has a 3rd and 10 from the Michigan 14, and M rolls Cover 2. Freshman nickelback Courtney Avery turns his head around and chases the inside vertical receiver way too far, abandoning his zone and turning the underneath drag into a wide-open path to the endzone. Iowa scores.

Hopefully these will make the plays make more sense to the more video-inclined.

Indiana game wrap, and Defending the Defense (with pics!)

Indiana game wrap, and Defending the Defense (with pics!)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on October 7th, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Question; can a game that unfolds almost exactly the way you thought it would unfold be considered "weird?"

Chappell looked like a great pocket passer. Willis did his damage in limited oportunities. Denard was Denard (except when he wasn't).

But here's the weird thing. That game made me feel a whole lot better about the years to come, but it also made me feel a whole lot worse about the rest of this season. That is to say that I've come back down from the ND high of WOOOOOO dENARD!!!! WHOOOOHHHOOOO! Back down to 7-5 or 8-4 reasonable expectations. (Yes it is entirely possible we go 2-5 from here on out, and I'm steeling myself against that scenario. Still hoping for 12-0 of course!)

I know the mathlete just put up some good predictions that has us at 9 or so wins. Unfortunately our defense has a couple of things that just aren't going to be fixable for this season. Those two things are named 'inexperience' and 'James Rodgers'.  It's never nice to get on a kid's case and call him out by name, but...yeah. 

HOWEVAH! In the near ironic board meltdown following the close win, I had to take a stand against some of the negativity and offer up some silver lining for the maligned defense. After breaking down the tape, I'm even more convinced that Robinson knows what he's doing, and that we've got brighter days ahead next season and beyond. 

We are soooo close to having a good defense. I mean it is litterally just a matter of inches, a few fractions of a second. A defense needs to be consistent to force punts and end drives.  We actually managed quite a few of these in the second half. The 2nd half drives read Punt, TD, TO on downs, TO on downs, Punt, TD, Game. That's not that bad.

Right now we're getting a mediocre play, a good play, and then a breakdown that extends a drive or gives up a TD. If we could just get to mediocre, mediocre, mediocre, good,  we'd be stopping teams left and right. But like a chain, we're only as good as our weakest link, and right now we've got lots of young babby links out there that need to get battle hardened.

The good thing is that it looks like some of them have very high ceilings. Talbott, for one, looked half decent in man coverage. Floyd is impressive, even though he still makes lots of mistakes. At least he's making them at full speed. To be as good as he is, as young as he is, is a very good sign. (Of course if JT is reading this, just know that you're no Chuck Woodson, sorry can't let you get a big head)

No it wasn't perfect, no it wasn't good, no it wasn't even satisfactory in any way other than that we got the W. But if you're looking for positive signs, there are plenty to be had.  Against 90-some odd plays, the defense only really had 3-4 really bad schematic clusterf*CKs. And it's only fair, (and in fact constructive) to point these out. 

Constructive criticism is specifically pointing out mistakes in particular situations. It's not being a chicken little crying for someone to be fired and whining "WHY DID WE ONLY RUSH THR3333??!" If you want to be like that, please do us all a favor and take it somewhere else *cough*mlive*cough*.

When I look at this defense, I'm reminded of watching our offense from 2 years ago. You can see how the scheme is supposed to work. But we've just got too many mental errors or people that can't quite get to where they need to be fast enough. As they get more reps and things become reflexive, this defense will get better. (A few stud bluechips at DB and LB would help a lot too).

So Let's do this.

THE GOOD

Wooooo! Denard!

The 2nd play from scrimmage!

The line gets good movement (as they should against the Hoosiers)

Dilithium

There's an unblocked safety.

Dilithium2

But Denard makes him miss.

Dilithium3

AND! He gets downfield blocks that send him on his way.

Every week he provides more evidence that he's the real deal. Have you ever seen a cooler customer on the final drive?  It's 2nd and 2 with :47 seconds to go.

mouthpiece

The clock is running, he just picked up 8 yards on a rush.  TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK. Get the damn play called!  But Denard is completely zen.  He even drops his mouth piece after calling the play, scoops it up,

mouthpiece2

and calmly rushes the ball to midfield.  

Receivers are MAKING PLAYS!

(for reference)

Roundtree, Stonum, and Hemingway are all threats with the ball in their hands. The national media is of course focusing on Denard! (WOOO!) But when receivers are catching the ball, making people miss, and then running 70 yards to the house, they deserve some major props.

This is a base zone read bubble pass:

roundtreeplaymaker

Both defenders on the end get taken in by the fake. 

roundtreeplaymaker2

The hoosiers are actually in great position to either blow up this play or stop it for a moderate gain. There's only one blocker for two defenders.  

roundtreeplaymaker3

But because the ball is put perfectly in front of Roundtree, he's got upfield momentum and gets past the first man who had beaten his block.

roundtreeplaymaker4

Then he just runs around the unblocked safety to take it to the distance.  Even tho' it is only Indiana, this is still awesome. 

Hemingway had his best performance that I can remember. 

HemingwayTD

This is a play Brian gave RPS +4 on, I might argue for more. BOTH safeties and both linebackers are selling out to stop the run.

HemingwayTD2

The man covering the slot is concerned with the bubble pass, leaving an empty mid-zone, i.e. no one between Hemingway and the ball.

HemingwayTD3

And then he displays a nice stiff arm to free him on his jog to the endzone.

And I will never get tired of this play.

Denard takes one step towards the line and the defense craps its pants. 

ohwideopen

It's just wide open. Make that "Oh, WIDE OPEN."

ohwideopen2

Griese to Tuman or some other TE on a rollout was my favorite play for a long time, but this has replaced it.

Combo Coverage

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

combocov

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

combocov2

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

combocov3

Chappell cooly throws it away.

How the D is supposed to work.

Everyone hates the "Bend but don't break" philosophy especially when you end up being broken on half the drives.  But in some situations, it is the right call.

Bendnotbreak

It's 3rd and 10 near midfield.  If you get a stop, they probably have to punt. Both corners are playing soft. Rogers is playing a bit more soft to compensate for his lack of speed (and reflexes, and acceleration...)

Bendnotbreak2

This 2-deep coverage is meant to give the impression of man-to-man (and it would have if Rodgers was in the same time zone as his receiver...)

Bendnotbreak3

We've got 4 guys along the first down marker, the only man open is the short crossing route, which we gladly give up because we've got two men in position to make the tackle.  Result is a punt.

Mike Martin continues his path of destruction

Sometimes it's nice to have a good scheme. 

martinscreensniff

Sometimes it's nice just to have a player who's been around the block and is a man beast that can lift small cars with one hand.

martinscreensniff2

This is a really well-executed screen by Indiana's linemen. 

martinscreensniff3

They get 4 (FOUR!) linemen out in front of the play.  But something clicks in Martin's head and he diagnoses what's up. 

martinscreensniff4

How many nosetackles can run down a running back from behind? WOW. Mike Martin; Killing ragdolls and savin' our bacon. This would have been an easy TD for them.

THE BAD

Going to the Chappell

In retrospect, we gave this guy way too much time to pick us apart, and he delivered. His decision making was excellent, and he was very quick with most of his reads. The interception was both a bad throw and a bad read, but when a guy throws for 480 on you, there's not much to criticize.

Chapps

Quit Dossing around

I was impressed with how many ways Indiana was trying to get the ball to Doss. They did an excellent job of taking what we were giving, and taking it all day long. But they had a lot of wrinkles prepared.

On the 1st drive they put him in motion to get an unexpected bubble screen.

dossmotionwideopen

Floyd rolls back into a deep cover responsibility. The problem is Rodgers who is probably supposed to move up into more of a run support role. Of course, he's so untalented that the coaches are probably not trusting him to play close to the line, so he stays back.

dossmotionwideopen2

It looks like a run to the right, and our end man is completely sucked in and roh doesn't go with Doss, leaving him wide open for the bubble screen.

dossmotionwideopen3

With Rodgers playing so far off his receiver we have what looks like a three deep.

dossmotionwideopenhold

This play picked up huge yards as both of their blockers are holding, which wasn't called.

Later when we faced this motion, we made good adjustments to it schematically.

Darius Willis

Because of his offensive line, I think he's going to be an underrated back all year long. He reminds me of a slower version of Evan Royster.

willisarmtackle

willisarmtackle2

On this play he's got enough burst to split the partially blocked linebackers.

willisarmtackle3

willisarmtackle4

And he nearly runs through Floyd's arm tackle to go the distance, but looks like Floyd put some stickum on and he gets dragged for a lot of yards before finally bringing Willis down.

Here he is releasing to the flat:

Willisflat

We've got the bunch formation well covered, but the OLB to the bunch side is showing a blitz.

Willisflat2

It's a disguised coverage meant to get Roh an interception.

Willisflat3

Unfortunately, Kovacs is too far beyond the sticks. Chappell sees this and takes advantage. 

Willisflat4

We're so close to stopping this drive. But the walkon safety doesn't have the speed, so he's playing too far back, and can't come up quick enough.

But we adjusted to it later.

willisflatadjust

On this play, Floyd reacts to Willis going into the flat.

Willisflatadjust2

T-Gord on the other side has the bubblescreen covered.  And since it's zone, Floyd is free to pass his man to the LB.

Willisflatadjust3

What blows up this play for a TFL is Floyd's aggressiveness coming up and a nice job by the D-linemen to track down the ball.

Belcher's TD

Talbott had a pretty quiet day, which is a good thing for a DB. He spent most of his day locked onto Belcher in man to man. This is one of the reasons Doss got so many balls thrown to him.  

BelcherTD

Here they are at the bottom of the screen.

BelcherTD2

Belcher is bigger and phsyical, but Talbott is fighting nicely.  

BelcherTD3

The combo slant and outcut was just too finely executed on this play to stop.  But if you can force the receiver to make a great diving catch to beat you, that's not something to be too broken up about. It's way better than the automatic 7 yards that was being given up wherever Rodgers lines up.

Denard

Wait what?  Yeah, this is here just to be nitpicky coaching pursuit of perfection stuff. After Denard tweeked his knee, we had a bunch of bad drives in a row. He missed a wide open Hemingway on a pump-and-go:

wideopenmiss

Had three overthrows in total. 

wideopenmiss2

This should have been 6 pts.

And he needs to throw the damn bubble screen more!

Not every play needs to be a 70 yard TD.  (MWAHAHAHA, I love that I can even type that sentence). There's 3 defenders for two blockers, but the OLB is flat-footed. Denard needs to read that and take the 5-yard minimum gain. When you've got WRs like ours that can MAKE PLAYS!! you need to give them the ball and not take unnecessary hits to your bruised knee.

throwthedamnball

Here's another one,  This time it's 2 defenders for 1 blocker.  But with the corner that far off, it's an automatic 5 yards. Denard, your mission from now until OSU is to win games and DON'T GET HURT!

throwthedamnball2

FWIW, Tate's only pass of the day was a bad screen flare where he put the ball on the wrong shoulder and that killed his only drive.

Inexperience on D

It's really difficult for young players who are seeing funky formations and plays for the first time.

bunchmotion4WR

Indiana has 5WR and puts one in motion all the way to the far sideline. We've got 4 deep, (IN THE REDZONE!!?!?) And there's mass confusion.

bunchmotion4WR2

Nobody goes with the motion man, and we're so far off the ball, we're inviting a 7 yard hitch on either side. 

bunchmotion4WR3

Both OLB's blitz leaving Avery? to cover three men in space. Lucky for us that Chappell decided to take the easy seven yards. Had he thrown to either short man on the right, this would have been an easy TD for them. You have to say this was a bad scheme on this play.

But Indiana tried to come right back to it.

bunch4WRmanadj

This time, we're locked into tighter man coverage.  Maybe that's only because we're on the goaline, but at least this alignment doesn't look completely insane like the previous one did.

bunch4WRmanadj2

I'm a big advocate for this kind of combo package coverage where you've got some men in zone coverage, but the others 'look' like they're in man. The whole point is to make it difficult on the opposing QB. And only rushing 3 allows us to do that.

bunch4WRmanadj3

And when Mike Martin is busting through the line, it makes you think you can get away with a 3-man rush.

bunch4WRmanadj4

But Chappell is a cool customer and sidesteps the rush just enough to buy some time and find the open man, who gets behind a flat-footed Mouton.

bunch4WRmanadj5

A lesser QB could not have made this play against this D. We've got good coverage all over the field and a man about to run him over. But he still finds the right receiver and delivers a good ball under pressure.

Good call: Mouton is just a step slow to react. Chappell makes a great read and throw under pressure.

So Close...

Sometimes, we've got guys in position, but they're just not quite aware of the sticks or reacting quick enough to what's in front of them.

knowwherethesticksare

On this play, #5 is in position to make the tackle, he's just too far behind the sticks. 

knowwherethesticksare2

So Doss muscles forward for the 1st down. It would have helped if Roh had taken a better angle.

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

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

floydLBzone

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

floydLBzone2

Floyd leaps for the ball, but between his mistake, and the safety playing way too soft, there's a ton of room for Chappell to lob the ball into. If only Floyd could jump as high as the linebackers in NCAA05, it would have been an automatic interception...

floydLBzone3

C-Gord does lay a nice lick on the TE who does a good job of holding onto the ball. Gordon had lots of good hits, he just needs to not be giving up so much room underneath.

Here's another play where the safety is back way too far against the bunch formation. 

gordonbunchcorner

I mean, he's not even in the picture. Literally.

gordonbunchcorner2

We've got 2 out of 4 receivers decently covered.

gordonbunchcorner3

But Gordon is way too far off to make a play on this deep out.

Roh in space

So the big controversy on defense this week centers around whether Roh is better utilized as a pass rusher or can he be a true OLB? I tend to lean towards the camp that says he should rush more often than drop, but his athleticism makes it tempting to try more things with him.

Here he is in pass coverage:

rohpassdropzone

He takes one false step going wide instead of getting depth.

rohpassdropzone2

And that gives Chappell just enough room to hit the slant.

rohpassdropzone3

Schematically he's in the right position.  But he's just slow to recognize the play.  You need lightning-quick reactions on defense and that comes from experience, film study, and repetitions. Like Alvin Mack, you need to know who to kill and where to go against a huge number of plays.

 

But for anyone who wants to pick on GERG, just look at this later play when Roh gets it right:

rohpassdropzoneadjust

Against the bunch formation, Roh gets depthin because Rodgers (who again isn't in the same area code as his receiver) has outside flat responsibilities.

rohpassdropzoneadjust2

This was one of the few poor decisions Chappell made (the other was the interception). He has the flat for the 1st down, but gets greedy and goes back to the seam route. This time, Roh is in position to make it a more difficult throw. 

rohpassdropzoneadjust3

Chappell has to get it over his tall reach and overthrows the receiver.

On this play Roh is in a more traditional stack look.

LBsmissmotion

But he doesn't see Doss coming in motion.

LBsmissmotion2

And because he doesn't go with Doss, it makes for an easy blocking assignment for the bubble screen.

LBsmissmotion3

You can tell that it's a mistake by Roh because the DE is already upfield making Roh's instinctive rush redundant.

But later in the game, he sees it and makes the play:

rohmotionadjust

From virtually the same alignment, this time he picks up Doss and slides outside of the DE.

rohmotionadjust2

Kovacs (who is by far our smartest player, if I could put his mind and heart into Mouton's body, and then clone them, we'd be just fine on Defense) is not letting the TE get a free release,  something I think we should do more of. One of the LBs is going with Willis.

rohmotionadjust3

Everyone is in pretty good coverage, except the comeback route is open for a 1 yard gain.  I don't mind giving that up.

The Gordons and Talbot look fairly talented and will get better with more PT; they just need to tighten up to the receivers and react a hair quicker, but they look like they'll be solid next year.

THE UGLY

Denard's fumbled snap. 

He also put it on the ground on another run. This needs to be fixed. When WVU was really clicking, the only time they lost was when they had oodles of turnovers. With our defense we cannot afford to not score on drives.

James "Serta" Rodgers.

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

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

rodgersugh

ALL THE FREAKING TIME. 

rodgersugh2

It's like he has no idea what the down and distance are. Either that, or he's just not capable of doing anything about it.

rodgersugh3

This was a 3rd and very long, and he gives up an easy first down.

At this point he needs to be taken off the field on some plays. With opposing offenses looking for him, maybe his absence will cause them a moment of confusion. There's a great story about how QBs were so focused on finding Lawrence Taylor before the snap that one time when he was on the bench, the QB was so confused he had to take a time out.

Seriously, if Cullen Christian or any converted WR can pull a Talbott and just give the impression of being able to cover someone, it'll be a step up from what we've got now. It certainly can't be any worse. 

Clusterf*ck against the unbalanced line.

This was probably the single worst defensive play from a schematic standpoint. Give credit to Indiana for coming up with a good play, but we were completely out of position on this and we played it bad on top of that:

unbalancedcf

Indiana comes out in an unbalanced line. Unfortunately NO ONE sees it. Or at least no one adjusts to it. Doss goes in motion and Floyd floats back as if that was a short corner with no WR over there.

unbalancedcf2

Patterson? is in the wrong gap. It's up to one of the safeties or Ezeh to see the formation and get the nose tackle to slide over. Instead, we've got 4 guys covering two linemen. Just days after I ripped Indiana for doing the same thing against one of their cupcakes, -- guess what -- we did the same thing:

unbalancedcf3

C-Gordon reacts to Doss's end-around fake, and the O-line takes a hard first step to their right. So now, not only are we not lined up right against the unbalanced, they've put us essentially two men down on that side by their at-the-snap movement.

unbalancedcf4

Mouton and Ezeh get sucked in by the fullback heading to the left, and we've got three guys covering air. Meanwhile, since the center has no one to block, he's free to release onto Ezeh.

unbalancedcf5

Floyd takes himself out of the play by following Doss (which is not a terrible thing if he gets the end-around, but it's entirely unnecessary against this unbalanced look. Roh has got it in his mind that he's pass rushing, and that makes for an easy kickout block. Carvin Johnson (#13) is about to be destroyed by someone who weighs about 150 lbs more than him. And C-Gord is so far out of position that there's nothing he can do. But hey, we've got 4 guys who could stop the end-around...

unbalancedcf6

And so Willis gets to run through a hole you could drive a truck through, and laughed his way to the endzone completely untouched.

Donkey Unsportsmanlike

Not sure what happened with Taylor on the last TD because the cameras cut away. But it might have had something to do with the awesome DOUBLE pancake block he got after Denard had leapt through the hole.

leywanfoul

Pam Ward. 

'nuff said.

In conclusion:

Denard is still TEH AWESOEM! But he has things he needs to work on.

WR, major props.

GERG is not the problem. (Rodgers is)

And Roh has the capability to get better as a LB in space. 

Go Blue!

Scouting Indiana (in brief)

Scouting Indiana (in brief)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on October 1st, 2010 at 12:59 AM

Forget ND.  Here comes the first REAL test of Michigan's defense?  Why do I say that?  Because Indiana is 11th in the nation in passing and 10th in points scored and has a senior QB with 30 career TD passes. Last year they scored 33 points on us while rushing for nearly 200 yards.

Are you scared yet?

No?

Okay, maybe that's because you looked at their scedule and realized that while they were scoring close to 40 points a game, they were doing so against what amounts to the equivalent of Bowling Green's JV team.

No, seriously.  They've played three games, against something called "Towson", Western Kentucky, and Akron.  I'm not exactly sure, but I think some of those might be division 1 opponents.  Let's compare:

Michigan is pretty good from year to year, Michigan State is usually hovering around .500.  Western Michigan is a middling MAC team. Kentucky SUCKS, Kentucky State exists? (maybe) So what does that say about Western Kentucky?

Yeah, Michigan played FCS UMass, but at least that SOUNDS like it could be a FBS school.  "Towson"??  Is not exactly a two time defending nation champion of the lower level.

How bad are these teams?  They're a combined 1-11 with the lone win coming in OT against *drumroll please*  COASTAL CAROLINA!  Although Akron did almost beat GARDNER WEBB in OT.  In the other ten games, Indiana's opponents were outscored by an average of about 40 points (no I didn't actually do the math, but I'm not really that far off).

So while I did manage to dig up some film on them, there's not much we can learn other than formations and base plays (and the fact that IND is wearing some uglyass 1970's uniforms).

Grannie grab your gun.

Hey, remember when ND played Nevada? And Nevada had Gumar from 'Harold and Gumar goto whitecastle' playing QB.  They ran this funky type of offense with the RB 5 yards behind the QB who was already in the shotgun.  That's called the pistol.  It's also what UCLA just used to depants Texas and will probably be the next fad spreading across the college football world, if it isn't already.

The point of this alignment is to get a little bit more downhill momentum for your running back so that he can hit the holes with speed.


Pistolalignment

You still get the ability to do playaction, but you lose the lateral fakes.  To regain the lateral motion, the RB will line up next to the QB in the shotgun like this:

sgalign

On Running downs, they might put a fullback into the formation.  If the QB was under center it would just be an offset I formation.  But with the group of them back an extra 5 yards, we have to call it something different.  I'm gonna call it the .38 caliber.

colt45

Here we have both the FB and the TE to the right, so this is likely to be a run to the right 60-70% of the time.  In this case, they ran a zone dive to the left.

When they go spread, they like to use three receivers in a bunch so they can run pick plays. 

trips5w

Here's a running play with the bunch formation. 

tripsdive

The middlebackers and the safety are confused and out of position.

tripsdive2

The middle backer blitzes to the wrong side, opening up a huge running lane.

tripsdive3

So the hoosiers get an easy 50 yard TD with 4 blockers on 2 defenders at the point of attack.

QB Ben Chappell is the same guy that put 30 some points on us last year.  5th year senior? Not a super strong arm, throws with his body.  Good size.  Not fast.  Decent pocket presence.  Likes to do 3 step drops for quick routes or playaction boots.  Has good timing with his receivers, can hit them on a fly in stride. Doesn't throw well on the run. His strength is in reading the defense and picking the right receiver to go to. I suggest we run more pressure and man coverage with a single high safety this week. 

#88 Belcher is their deep threat. Tall kid, not blazing speed, but chews up a lot of yardage with long strides.

TB Darius Willis is their main running threat.  He's 6 foot, 220 ish and can run through arm tackles.  Has a good head fake. He also had an 85 yard TD against us last year.

TE #83.  Tall, soft hands.  Less athletic version of rudolph.

O-Line. They look small and meh.  This is probably what separates Indiana from most big ten teams.  There's just not a lot of talent there.

On Defense

They run a base 3-4 on 1st and 2nd down, will not substitute against a spread, instead they flex out their OLB to cover the slots.  On 3rd down they like to switch to either a nickle, or a cover 1 to put extra DB's on the slot receivers.

Not a lot of speed.  Towson's QB had a 40 yard scramble against them on a broken play. So like WOOOOO DENARD! They've given up oodles of yardage against teams that really don't run the ball very well.

Their safety #10 looks like a weaklink. (He may even have been replaced already.) Takes a lot of bad angles.  Towson managed several plays over 40 yards against them.

They've given up huge amounts of yards to teams that don't sport very good offensive lines.  Here's an example of what might be the reason why.

shortyardage

This is Indiana's short yardage defense.  If you're saying, 'but wait a minute that looks just like their base 3-4!" then you've been paying attention.  Do the hoosier's have a defensive coordinator?  Because this personell package, in this situation is almost criminally stupid.

It's 3rd and 1 and they're in a base 3-4.

It's 3rd and 1 in THE REDZONE and they're still in a base 3-4!

It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a DOUBLE TIGHT formation and they're in a 3-4?!

It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation WITH A FULLBACK MEANING  THERE ISN'T A SINGLE WR IN THE GAME, and they're still in a base 3-4 with 4 DBs!!!?! (well hey, at least they walked up one of the safeties...)

It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with a fullback and there are EIGHT OFFENSIVE LINEMEN AGAINST YOUR 3 DOWN LINEMEN!!!!!!!!! THEY ONLY NEED TO GAIN 1 FREAKING YARD!!!!!!!

It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with a fullback AND IT'S AN UNBALANCED LINE TO THE RIGHT!!!!!!OMG HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT?!!?!

It's 3rd and 1 in the redzone against a double tight formation with extra o-linemen, no WR, in an unbalanced formation to the right WITH THE H BACK IN A WING TO THE RIGHT!!!! THE UNBALANCED SIDE!!!! THERE ARE 9 OFFENSIVE PLAYERS FROM THE BALL TO THE RIGH!!!!! AND INDIANA HAS 4 (FOUR!) PLAYERS COVERING 2 (TWO!) ON THE OTHER SIDE!!!?!  WTF ARE YOU DOING??!

So you won't be surprised that WKU ran to the right and scored a TD on this play.

Jebus, ಠ_ಠ
Special Teams:

They use a spread punt formation. 

Had an okay return against Towson and got a 70+ yard return against WKU, so they must at least know their blocking assignments on kickoff returns.

Tandon Doss, who some of you might remeber is a pretty nifty runner, even if he doesn't have a world class top gear. 

Conclusions:

Should be a high scoring game.  And most likely a preview of things to come. If the offense doesn't score more than 45 points, they should hang their heads in shame.  The key will be in stopping Chappell.  If we can hold them to 30 points, I'll be happy.  (not really, but I'll take it.) Their running back is talented enough, but that O-line just doesn't run block very well, and we should have a sizeable advantage there. 

I'm gonna say 48-28 good guys. 

Picture Pages - Mascot Tackling Angles

Picture Pages - Mascot Tackling Angles

Submitted by Meeechigan Dan on September 24th, 2010 at 4:30 PM

[Ed: bump.]

There has been spirited debate about the angles that Ohio University LB Rufus took in tackling the OSU RB Brutus during last Saturday's game. Does increased head mass require a higher tackling angle, or should traditional non-encephalitic technique be employed?

It is early in the game, with OSU lined up in a 1-1-9.  The RB is parallel with the fat dork carrying the flag. The OLine of nine band weenies is clearly off the line of scrimmage in an illegal formation, but this doesn't get called; we're in the Horseshoe, after all.

Unblocked, Rufus arrows towards Brutus demonstrating, at first glance, excellent technique with arms wide to wrap up the opponent.

But here the question of angle v. encephalitis comes into play. What can’t be seen at this angle is that the RB’s momentum is carrying him past the impact point targeted by the OU LB, exposing why a traditional, lower attack point is desired. The OSU RB pulls away with a little, mincing gesture with his forearm and clocks the fat dork (FD) in the head with his opposite elbow. By the way, WTF is with that running OSU dude on the left side of page? I’ll tell you what it is: too many men on the field.

At this point, it looks like the unblocked OU LB will tackle for a decisive TFL.

But then we see the consequences of hitting the OSU player too high: with help from the OSU FD, Brutus maintains his balance and stands up Rufus.

If Rufus hits the OSU player just above the knees, then there is no opportunity for Brutus to recover. The OLine here is still in pre-snap formation revealing that this is a trick play.

Rufus begins to slip as the RB deflects his momentum…

…and loses contain letting the RB into the secondary with a convoy of blockers...

The RB makes a mistake: he slows up and begins to taunt the OU sideline. Rufus cuts between the WR and the TE in pursuit...

Notice the poor blocking on the part of the OSU WR running with Brutus downfield. How can you let Rufus approach your RB untouched? Again, the OU LB takes waaaay too high of an angle at the goal line. Seriously, what is this? Who tackles a player this high? Shame on the RB for walking into the end zone. Typical OSU classiness.

Rufus hits high...

...and already in the end zone, the OU LB commits the personal foul with unnecessary roughness…

...yet still demonstating why it is important to hit the player low; he still can't get him down. Bonus: notice the abused, defeated expression on Brutus's face...

This is not football; it is more reminiscent of Bogs in Shawshank. The infamous punch that got Rufus suspended from the OU team leaves Brutus a shell of mascot.

Teammates hang their heads in shame.

Takeaways: Even large-headed mascots must maintain proper tacking angles. They should not compensate for higher mass distribution with a higher attack point. Paradoxically, the higher mass point makes mascots more vulnerable to the classic leg tackle.

Also, there is no place in football for the kind of personal foul witnessed at the end of the play. Even when the other team is execrable as OSU, keep it clean. Don't sink to their level.

Edit: Special thanks to a friend who took those pictures in the endzone (I pulled the link so that we stop overloading her server).

ND vs MSU gamewrap (with pics!)

ND vs MSU gamewrap (with pics!)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on September 24th, 2010 at 2:22 PM

After the positive response to last week's diary, I thought I'd do another.  But I couldn't compel myself to breakdown our game with Umass because really, what would be the point?  There's not a whole lot to learn from that game that we didn't know already. i.e. Denard is teh aweseom, mike martin is a beast, craig roh is evolving into a beast, but our LB's and secondary are uggghhh, but that has been expected.

So instead, I thought I'd breakdown the ND vs. MSU game because

  1. It was a more interesting game that doesn't make me want to reach for massive amounts of alcohol
  2. I can continue my analysis of ND's personnel problems
  3. ND runs many plays that are similar to ours, so breaking them down will actually be transferrable to our team's scheme
  4. It'll be good for when I write up a scouting report for the MSU game
  5. I really hate ND and hope they lose the rest of their games, so if I can give any of their opponents some insight, yea! (btw, stanford will blow them out)

So let's do this:

Notre Dame's screen game

As noted before, ND's linemen are not a good fit for what Brian Kelly wants to do.  I feel a little bit silly criticizing an offense that is putting up nearly 30 points a game and a ton of yardage. But they're really failing to live up to their full potential. 

Here's ND's first screen. 

rbboundaryscreen

They split Armando Allen up to the top of the field with the ball on the hash, so it's a much shorter distance for the linemen to run. I like this adjustment by kelly.  Get the ball to one of your best players in space and make things easier on your slow linemen.

rbboundaryscreen2

With three WR on the other side of the field pulling 4 defenders with them, this play should really go to the house. 

rbboundaryscreen3

But look how close to the LOS Allen has to go to get behind his linemen.  Faster D-linemen or even a d-line spy will completely blow this play up. 

rbboundaryscreen4

Anyway, ND manages to get 2 linemen in front of Allen and there's a blocker for every defender,  but BOTH linemen miss their blocks and this play only gains about 7 yards instead of being a 60 yard TD. 

Here's the other play from the same formation.

rudolphbubble

The formation is flipped because the ball is on the other hash.  Rudolph will run the bubble screen to the top of the field

rudolphbubble2

With a normal slot receiver, like odoms, or steve breaston, this play is an automatic 7 yards against this defensive alignment and maybe breaks for 20.  All the slot receiver has to do is outrun the LB to the corner.  The safety is unblocked, but if he gets caught up in the wash or takes a bad angle, this could be a big play.

rudolphbubble3

But Rudolph is not exactly nimble and Crist doesn't put very good touch or placement on this ball since he's used to being a downfield gunslinger instead of a spread and shred point guard. And so it's just an incompletion and a waste of what should have been a decent gain.

rudolphbubble4

rudolphbubble5

rudolphbubble6

They followed this up with the third option from this formation which was crist running up the middle on a QB draw, but he's not exactly denard and only got like 3 yards.  All of this was on the first series, so it's probably scripted, and it wasn't really setup well.  You don't run that QB draw until you see the LB's are bailing out to cover the screens, but since ND's wide screens didn't pose much of a threat on the first two plays, the LB's were sitting at home and gobbled him up.

Later in the game, crist missed riddick on a bubble, cause he doesn't have the touch for the flare pass, so they came back to the screen to riddick on the other side, again to the short side of the field.

riddickscreen

The play starts with crist either misreading he RB bubble to the top of the field, or it was a called screen to riddick all the way

riddickscreen2

One linemen does manage to get a block. He's too slow to get downfield, but at least he's being useful.  You can't say that about the other two linemen who are BEHIND riddick.

riddickscreen3

If not for riddick's nifty spin move, this play gets destroyed for a minor gain. 

Here's the fake screen slant.  This is the play that we sprang odoms on for wide open TD's.

screenslant

The problem with ND's execution is that they're not selling the fake very hard. 

screenslant2

Combine that with their ineffective previous attempts and the fact that Crist isn't much of a threat to run, and it's easy for the safety to stay at home.  He has no reason to bite on either the bubble screen fake or the qb run.  When Denard takes one step up into the hole, the safeties panic and you get easy TD's

screenslant3

The result is a tough throw for crist to fit into a tighter window, and the safety breaks up the play for an incompletion.

Here's MSU showing the proper execution of the bubble screen.

MSUbubble

ND shows 2 deep, but rolls up late just before the snap

MSUbubble2

But with a fast enough slot man it shouldn't matter. The ball is placed in front of the receiver so he can make the catch with forward momentum.

MSUbubble3

And even if the safety hadn't missed the tackle, it would have been an easy 7 yard gain. It's like stealing. 

MSUbubble4

MSU did this many times for a lot of yards.

Here's virtually the same play, but to the other side. 

MSUoptionbubble

The OLB has all his weight forward and the safety is in no position to do anything on the bubble option. 

MSUoptionbubble2

The handoff fake holds the OLB even more.

MSUoptionbubble3

Resulting in a wide open keshawn martin with a ton of room to make an easy first down.

When you've got a new coach and a new system, and probably new jargon, you expect there to be a few clusterf*cks.  Here's ND totally screwing up a screen just before the half.

NDwhat

So MSU is doing their 3rd and long thing by having one of the extra DB's bail out into a really deep third just before the snap.  Again, the OLB are blitzing.  

NDwhat2

It looks like the two slot receivers were on the wrong side.  There's two linemen releasing, but they're on the wrong side for riddick's screen action.  Crist is looking at rudolph the whole way, but rudolph thinks he's blocking.  And the amazing this is that this gem of an f'up came after a timeout.

Late in the 4th quarter, Kelly decides he's had enough of the cutesy screens and goes with something a little more tradition that his lineman can handle.

allenscreen

The left tackle pops up for just a brief moment to show pass blocking, but then hauls ass downfield to lead the play.  

allenscreen2

The tackle doesn't really get much of a block on the safety, but at least he's out in front of the play. 

allenscreen3

Rudolph gets away with a slight hold. Good pursuit and the lack of the spread option fakes results in Allen only getting about 10 yards. But it's a positive play, just with a lower ceiling.

Armando Allen

I'm going to keep harping on this; until crist really settles down (which may be very soon, and ND's offense will be scary when that happens), stopping Allen is the key to stopping ND.

Here he is on a simple shovel pass. ND ran this twice to great effect.

allenshovel

MSU is bringing pressure from the edges. The slot receiver is pointing out that 'his man' is blitzing allowing the qb to change the play.  MSU's defenders start off in a cover 2, but one of the nicklebacks bails out at the last second to take the deep middle. 

allenshovel2

This is meant to give the qb, an automatic check down to the slot receiver who will be wide open, but only for a gain of 7-10 yards with the 2nd line of defenders holding at the sticks. This is a staple of most defenses these days, where you show one look, wait for the QB to change the play, and then switch into a different defense.

allenshovel3

Kelly should get an RPS +2 on this because with both OLB's blitzing, they take themselves right out of the play. The middle backer is covering one of the seam routes, but the seam route on the bottom of the field would probably have gotten a first down, or close to it. If you weren't running the shovel pass, the proper thing to do against this defense is to attack that deep safety who a) is playing out of position, b) just had a 20 yard sprint to get into position and is still moving backwards, and c) is 10 yards beyond the the 1st down marker.

allenshovel4

The blocking is set up ok, but ND's linemen can't maintain their blocks.  It doesn't matter as Allen eludes them and picks up about 20 yards with some nifty cuts.

allenshovel5

But WTH, refs?  Is it illegal to call holding against ND?  sheesh!

Here's Allen on a counter trap from the shotgun

allenSGcounter

Notice he's aligned even with the QB.  This indicates a lateral mesh.  

allenSGcounter2

But instead of the normal motion, the LB's need to key his feet, as he does more of a choppy step mesh so that he can bend it back against the grain. The line blocks down on the nose, the tackle lets his pass rusher go upfield, and the pulling lineman is isolated on the LB.

allenSGcounter3

Floyd doesn't know his assignment, leaving the safety unblocked.  Had he done his job Allen would have been able to cut to the sideline.

allenSGcounter4

Instead he's forced into a safety sandwich.

Here's the straight play from that same alignment.

allenSGleadtwist

For some reason, Floyd has decided to take this play off. 

allenSGleadtwist2

The slot man is always wide open for 5 yards against this alignment if the LB doesn't cheat the flare.  Allen goes through the mesh quicker to get around the far tackle.  ND gets a nice lead block from the guard who twists around the tackle into the hole. 

allenSGleadtwist3

Floyd just kind of ignores his man and wanders into the middle of the field. Contrast this to the guard who is on his horse to hit someone.

allenSGleadtwist4

So guess who makes the tackle.

Here's yet another way to give him the ball.

allensprintdraw

It's shotgun, trips right, Allen is also to the right of Crist

allensprintdraw2

At the snap, both Allen and Crist sprint to the right, but Allen will peel back to take the handoff.

allensprintdraw3

With all the action going to the right, and the formation strength that way too, the safety and LB are both sucked in and Allen gets over 10 yards on this carry.

One way to stop Allen on the zone dives and inside traps is to blitz the corner.

allenblitzed

After Rudolph finishes his motion, the corner shows blitz and the safety slides over to 'cover' his WR.

allenblitzed2

This is a similar play to something we run.  And it's up to the QB to see the blitzing corner and audible out or throw the checkdown to the WR. Here Allen just gets gobbled up.

The kid from Hawaii

Here's MSU running a sweep.

teobeast

Teo reads the action flowing with the line

teobeast2

When he sees the ball, he's just gone.

teobeast3

That's impressive.  To get that big of a TFL when you're not even blitzing takes some crazy speed.

In the 4th quarter he made a similar play

teobeast4

The H-back and FB are leading around the corner on the sweep.

teobeast5

But this time the OLB is doing a slightly better job of extending the corner, if he doesn't really have contain.

teobeast6

Teo just shoots through that tiny gap with blazing speed.

teobeast7

Making the fullback's head spin.

But he still needs to learn to wrap up better.

Teonowrap

On this 3rd and long, he's spying the RB.

Teonowrap2

MSU manages to get 3! linemen out in front of the RB.  (Hey ND, what a novel idea!) Teo reads the screen and gets on his horse to lay some lumber on Bell.  

Teonowrap3

He reacts so fast that he beats all three linemen to the punch and gets a good pop on the ball carrier.

Teonowrap4

But Bell is strong enough and has good enough balance that he shakes off the hit, spins around and heads upfield.  And because all 4! of ND's linemen have been fooled on the play, Bell manages to get 1st down yardage even though Teo completely confused MSU's 3 lead blockers, otherwise this play might have gone the distance.

Dayne Crist

When he's not blind in one eye and thinking he's batman, he can be a very effective QB.  Just not a spread QB. It'll be interesting to see what kelly does with him in the future, especialy if Floyd or Rudolph or both are in the pro's next year. Already he is very strong at the intermediate routes and hitting receivers that are moving across his vision.  He has a lot of trouble with overthrowing flys and putting touch on flares as documented above.

But they did manage to hit some bubble screens in the second half, and when he underthrows Floyd for jump balls, it's a deadly combination.  Of course we saw the one time he connected on a fly with rudolph, so the future is bright for him. 

He's never going to be a one step darter like denard, but other than mike vick, who can be?  Teams are not going to respect him on the zone read option, or they'll hope he keeps it and gets his head knocked in again.

He did throw one bad interception, but I credit MSU's defense on that play. It was an interesting play for many reasons.

cristpick

Before the snap, crist reads man coverage so he changes the play.  The MSU LB's see this and they change the defense.

cristpick2

But it still looks like man coverage

cristpick3

The only giveaway is the two deep safeties, but sometimes teams will play man underneath the 2 deep.

cristpick4

The far right WR runs a little hook, and crist is trying to hit the corner route thinking he's got a LB on his slot receiver.

Capture

But the corner comes off his receiver to make the interception.

cristpick5

This was well disguised by MSU.

And it got another classic reaction from Kelly

kellycomehere

In nearly an identical situation in the 2nd half, crist again audibles thinking it's man coverage

rudolphcorner

Which it is.

rudolphcorner2

MSU is in an all out blitz.  But the line blocks down as crist rolls away from the unblocked blitzer.

rudolphcorner3

The big change here is that the two outside receivers both run square in's taking their men with them.  This eliminates the possibility of a corner coming off his man to get the pick.

rudolphcorner4

Rudolph beats the man coverage from the safety and crist hits him in stride for the TD.

Notes on MSU's offense:

Keshawn Martin, has some good moves on the bubble screen, very dangerous, tall, fast, and he's got some shake n' bake to him.  Made a bad decision on one kickoff return.

Cousin's looks very sharp, but he did totally favre an interception in the endzone by rolling left and throwing back to the right very late when nothing was open.

cousinsfavre

They like to run a lot of I slot and double tight formations.  The counter quick pitch works well for them, they get decent blocking from their WR. 

Here we have MSU in a doubletight formation and an H back in a power set to the left.

MSUovershift

ND is seriously misaligned  against this formation.  Because the replay was still showing, I don't know if MSU motioned to this formation and ND didn't adjust, or if they just screwed the pooch coming out of the huddle. 

MSUovershift2

The H-back has no one to block because the OLB is on the wrong side.

MSUovershift3

So he just goes looking for someone to hit, which ends up being one of the safeties and it's an easy 15 yard run on 1st down. 

Here's another example of the shifts and motion MSU will use to try to get teams out of alignment.

zonestretchleft

It starts as a double tight ace set. ND is in a base 3-4 instead of their usual 4-3.

zonestretchleft2

The flanker moves up and the TE drops to an H-back position.  ND is doing some WEIRD corner blitz.  Weird because they're showing it very early, and inviting the qb to throw to the uncovered man.

zonestretchleft3

The H-back ends up in an offset I. This is a strong indication of a run to the left.  A good checkdown would be a 3 yard sitdown to the uncovered WR, anything longer will be vulnerable to the sneeky safety who is 'covering' him. 

zonestretchleft4

Both the corner and the OLB come hard off the edge.  This is an assignment run blitz with the corner responsible for the QB and the OLB for the RB.  But the play is going away from them, so they can't do anything.  The playside OLB has lost contain almost immediately

zonestretchleft5

The guard get's just enough of Teo to trip him up and prevent him from blowing this up for a TFL.  The H-back is now just a lead blocker and he gets a great seal and the play results in another big chunk of yards for MSU

On this next play, MSU is in an unbalanced line.

MSUunbalanced

Both the TE and WR are on the same side making the TE covered and inelligible.   The slot man goes in motion but comes back to the heavy side.  From this formation, this indicates a run to the left 99.99% of the time.  There's a couple ways to deal with an unbalanced line.  One is to just shift the entire defense over and pretend that the left guard is the center.  Instead, ND rolls up a safety to maintain contain.  The weakside corner backs off, and the remaining safety moves over to give a 3 deep look (on what is obviously a running down).

MSUunbalanced2

At the snap, the right guard pulls and the line blocks down to the right.  For some reason, the D-line is slanting to their left. I have no idea why.  (This play was going to the D's right from square one.)  It might be because the FB takes an initial step to the right as the QB gives a cross buck handoff to the TB who has what amounts to 3 lead blockers on this play. (The pulling guard, the slot man, and the fullback)

MSUunbalanced3

This leaves a big crevice in the front seven that MSU runs right through. The slot man kicks out the safety playing contain.  The TE just takes his slanting OLB away from the play. The pulling guard gets a great seal on DE, leaving the FB looking for someone to block.

MSUunbalanced4

That someone ends up being the remaining safety, TD MSU.

Baker, Bell, Caper

Their RB's have deceptive speed.  You don't expect men that big to have such a good initial burst and acceleration. On Baker's long TD's this season, safeties have taken bad angles on him.

This play starts as a zone dive to the right from a double tight, double flanker right formation.

BakerTD

There's an option to throw the bubble to the top, but it's pretty well covered with 3 defenders.  The playside OLB is unblocked.  The sneaky part of this play is that the left tackle just pushes off on the man lined up on him and releases to the 2nd level.

BakerTD2

A gaping hole opens up for the cutback as baker bends it back against the grain because the backside DE has gotten way too far upfield and gets sucked in by a good QB rollout fake. QB fakes are one of my pet peeves.  They seem like such small things, but they can make the difference on a lot of plays.  Denard has been great at this. Crist, not so much.

BakerTD3

The safety is in position to stop this play after 10 yards, but he misjudges Baker's speed

BakerTD4

He doesn't breakdown, gets his feet tangled, and Baker is off to the races (thanks to some good downfield blocking by the WR). And as anyone who's been watching Michigan football the last few years knows all too well, when the safety misses a tackle, the result is usually DOOM.

Here's another play that either shows the speed of MSU's RBs or the lack of speed by ND's safeties.

msucounterquickpitch

The formation is a simple I slot left. The OLB is in good position to defend the bubble screen.

msucounterquickpitch2

On the snap, the QB reverses out and the left guard pulls.  This is in the 4th quarter and the entire front seven gets sucked into this power iso dive look. 

msucounterquickpitch3

The tailback takes one plant step to the right and then cuts hard left to take the quick pitch.  The slot man needs to get a block on the OLB, but the safety is unblocked.

msucounterquickpitch35

But he takes a terrible angle.  The DE has no hope of catching Baker.

msucounterquickpitch4

The result is a 15 yard gain.

Karma is a bitch

Ok, ND fans have a right to some whining this week, sort of. 

Yes Cunningham was out of bounds on his tying TD catch, and yes it should have been a flag because he wasn't really pushed out. 

Yes, the play clock was at zero on the fake field goal.

notime

Yes, there could have been holding or offensive pass interference called on the fake field goal.

notime2

ND just got spartied in spartan stadium by the spartans.  We feel your pain, domers. It is written somewhere that every signature MSU win must come on a controversial play.  Like when Desmond was interfered with in the endzone. Like when TJ Duckett scored thanks to spartan bob and a blatant hold that wasn't called.  

But after the last century of favorable calls, phantom TD's, and other crazy BS that has gone ND's way, it was bound to balance out eventually.  Just consider the last two decades as balancing the preceding one hundred.

Kelly4thdownfail

"Little Giants" was a ballsy call, nearly as good as Texas's fourth down 'roll left', and the football gods reward gutsy moves. 

So hopefully Dantonio will continue to make them, if it doesn't kill him first.   Get well soon, and thanks for an entertaining game coach D. 

ND game wrap up (with pics!)

ND game wrap up (with pics!)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on September 13th, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Woo HOOOOO!!! 

Great dramatic game.  Glad we won.  Here's some final thoughts on the game:

Overview

I was right about a lot of things, and wrong about a few things in my scouting report.

Got Right:

  • ND doesn't have the right linemen for their offensive scheme yet
  • ND WR merely serviceable due to inexperienced QB play
  • Crist overthrows on the fly (except for one major exception!)
  • Te'o was a beast
  • Roh was a beast
  • Allen was very dangerous
  • Lots of tricky ways to get the RB the ball (shovel pass, counter draw, shotgun quickpitch)
  • Wood muffed a kickoff (just like last week) and didn't factor into the passing game.
  • ND corners good on run support
  • ND outside backers lost contain
  • Our D reacted well to familiar plays they see in practice.
  • Weird things happen in south bend (phantom TD that should have been a touchback)
  • We won a shootout (not really THAT many points, but lots of yards by both teams), by a close margin (not exactly one point)

Got Wrong:

  • Crist is a much better athlete than given credit for as shown by his first TD scramble that was called back on a penalty.  Had one good read on the option.
  • Rudolph was not slow (at least in a straight line)
  • Te'o didn't miss many tackles (except on Denard, but that was due to speed, not jukes)
  • ND corners were not burnt deep.  We didn't really try any one on one matchups, because that's the way our scheme was for this game.  They did play soft giving us lots of 8 yard comeback routes.  But our big pass plays came on busted coverages and playaction suck-ins, not speed on toast.

Unexpected:

  • Crist missing half the game.  As big as he is, didn't think he'd get dinged up.
  • With Crist out, ND pretty much ditched the spread for a while and went to more under center power formations.
  • ND's D-line was much better than anticipated.
  • Our secondary played much better than expected! (but that's not saying much)
  • Our WR did a great job of holding onto the ball even when taking big hits.
  • We are making up for last year in the turnover battle.
  • I never thought that any ND coach could be as amusing as Jabba the Weis, but Brian Kelly's facial expressions were priceless.

And now for the fun stuff

Tate's Hug

tateRRlovefest

If it was a scripted hug, RR wasn't in on it.  Don't know what got to Tate, but whatever it was, I'm glad it happened. 

TateRRlovefest2

Slow Linemen take away a big chunk of the "spread" playbook

Here's ND's first attempt at a wide screen. Notice that 4 of the offensive linemen aren't even getting to the play, and the fifth is taking his defender with him.

NDcantscreen

This leaves one defender completely unblocked.  Combine that with Rudolph being a better receiver than blocker and you get massive fail.  The whole point of a screen is to get your linemen down field to block the 2nd and 3rd levels.  But ND's linemen are still too slow for that.

NDcantscreen2

So later in the game, instead of running the bubble screen like you should to the sideline, ND calls for the middle screen.

NDcantscreenagain

But we're running a zone blitz (disguised nicely) and Herron bats the ball.

NDcantscreenagain2

The wide screen would have prevented the batted ball because of the angle created.  But when you don't have the right personnel to get down field...

Our Defense blew up some familiar plays

When you see a play over and over again in practice, the reads become reflexive and it's easier to defend.  Here's a sweep play that could have gotten big yards for ND.

recognizsweep

They pull two o-linemen around the outside, so we should be outmanned on the corner.

recognizesweep2

Roh does a good job of holding his ground making it a longer way to go. Then Floyd? who is playing rolled up, makes an excellent play by taking on the lead blocker.   Our middle backers see the pulling action and flow instinctively with the ball carrier.

recognizesweep3

But what really blows up the play is Ezeh getting on his horse and flying through the gap before Allen can get to the edge.  If he's a step slower, then the play gains at least 10 yards down the sideline, and maybe goes all the way.  But because of the quick recognition, it results in a TFL.

Craig Roh

Here's a play that shows what a beast Roh is turning into. 

noreadoption

It's just a simple base zone read option, but the QB isn't making a read on the play because he's too inexperienced. There's no way he should have handed off the ball.  Keeping it or throwing the flare would both have been better options. But check out Roh!

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He fights through a double team to make a TFL.

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And he was being held!

Roh did get pancaked once when he did a spin move right into one of the hulking guards, and he missed a couple of tackles, but he was in the backfield most of the day.

Dilithium!

Speaking of Beasts.  There's this kid, maybe you've heard of him, called Denard.  People say he's fast.  Errrrmmm... yeah.  So what does speed do to a defender?

dilithium

It makes them look stupid! Check out the angle the ND OLB has to take to account for warp drive. And 

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Too bad for them that Denard doesn't run in straight lines 

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WOW! Just a nice little 30 yard gain, when there was a completely unblocked defender.  

But what's the difference between a nice gain and a homerun? 

greatblocking

Answer: DOWNFIELD BLOCKING! On the 87 yard TD, there was just great downfield cut blocks. 

And He can pooch punt!

suprman

You da man!

Armando Allen

I thought we did a really nice job containing him.  But he showed flashes.  Here's a play were Mouton was a step slow to react or didn't read the pre-snap alignment.

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Allen lines up a half yard behind the QB signaling either pass or inside run. 

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The left guard pulls but Mouton doesn't immediately recognize it. (he had a very nice day, just a little slow on this one play)

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ND does a very good job of holding. But on this instance it didn't affect the play, so I don't care. Mouton still has a chance to make the tackle,

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but Allen has enough ball skills to get by him and pick up a nice gain. 

On the next play he made 3 people miss with a jump cut and a spin, and then he ran over Cam Gordon, causing the announcer to repeat his favorite "Quick Twitch" line.

He really got things going in the second half, nearly breaking one for the distance on a shotgun quickpitch.

We can has functional DB's?

JT Floyd got an INT when Montana misread the coverage, which like, WOOOOOO!!!!!

FloydzoneINT

Don't you just love Frosh QB's? I mean, when they play AGAINST us, not FOR us.  

The Kid from Hawaii

Teo was a beast for ND all day long.  Here's an example of him reading the screen and just flying to Shaw almost before the ball can get there.

Teo

Teo2

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Teo pretty much single-handedly destoryed our screen game.

My name is JONAS!

Jonas Mouton had a pretty good game.  Here he is against that same play as before.

Mouton

Ezeh was faking a blitz before the snap, but you get virtually the same action.

Mouton2

Mike Martin takes on the double team, preventing the center from getting to the second level. Mouton fills the hole and hits Allen head on before he gets a chance to even make a move.

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And Kovacs was there to clean up, since at that point we had 8 in the box against the ineffective Montana.

Mouton's pass drops look to be much improved.  He got the INT on the flea flicker, and he tipped the ball to Kovacs after our first missed FG attempt. He also layed some lumber on a number of hits. Not perfect, but much improved from last year. I credit GERG!

ND's D-Line was pretty strong

At least when Denard wasn't making them look silly. I think Molk was having trouble with the size of and strength of the ND nosetackle.  Here he is getting pushed back in a short yardage situation.

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He almost gets pushed all the way back into Vincent, but the little guy picks up the first down.

Here's another play where Molk (who is a pretty darn good lineman) had trouble with the nosetackle.

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It's a QB sweep to the left.  And it looks pretty well blocked. 

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But the playside guard didn't get enough of a chip on the nosetackle as he released to get on Teo.  

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And Molk can't keep him engaged enough.

Their D-Line play probably explains why the other running backs couldn't do much.  Here's Shaw making a bad read on an earlier zone dive.

badzoneiso

First off, Denard should have thrown the flare, since Teo was playing run all the way.  But it might have been a called run, not an option since there's no double team.

badzoneiso2

Our left tackle has given up inside leverage, but for some reason Shaw cuts left, instead of to the right. 

badzoneiso3

On this play, Patrick actually gets a good drive block opening up a lane, but to no avail.

Brian Kelly

Kinda hard to blame kelly for losing that game, but ND fans did anyway.  Sure he did Weis them at the end of the first half (bwAHahahahah! I love that his name has turned into a verb!) But he's playing with personel (especially linemen) that don't fit his system. And his starting QB missed half the game.

So, what do you do when three different QB's throw interceptions and you end both halves of the game with an uncatchable ball into the cheap seats? 

You make faces.

healmosthaschinhair

Lots

Iwrotetheplayonmyhand

and lots

Kellyhuh.

and lots

kellywantshis2dollars

and lots

Kellyscoreboard

and lots

kellyvisorless

and lots

kellyunbelievable

and lots

kellywheresmyvisor

of faces.

kellymushoigna

First I was like

kellypain

Then I was like.

kellyigiveup

First I was like...

kellyfirstiwas

then I was like...

kellytheniwas

And then I was like....

kellyandtheniwas

PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE A GOOD ANIMATED GIF OF THIS! I hate microsoft and can't get moviemaker to import .mp4 files.

The Phantom TD

I'm kinda glad that the refs didn't call Jones on this douchebag move.  Not that dropping the ball makes you a douchebag, but dropping it so that you can put your hands up to your ear in a douchebag manner makes you a douchebag.  Because if the play had been called CORRECTLY, there would be even MORE whining from the notre lame fans.

douchbag

Douchebag.

Tips for MSU:

Crist holds the ball too long because of inexperience and he's not confident (or accurate) enough to stick the ball into coverage to take advantage of physical mismatches. But he's a good scrambler who looks to make the long pass when coverage breaks down.  Probably worth keeping DB's back and giving up some smaller runs by him.

Use combo coverages to always have a man near Floyd and Rudolph. Floyd will get discouraged if he's not a big part of the game. But rolling corners up into the flats worked well for us.  We got at least two INTs because of the underneath zone.

Always key on Allen when he's in the game,  He's the most dependable part of their offense, and if you can neutralize him, you're really limiting what they can do.

GET A HAT ON TEO! And drive block him.  He caused Denard's fumble by coming off of vincent smith's block and pursing from behind.  Vincent actually had  a decent block oh him, but couldn't sustain it.

With State's power running game, I'd run it right at him!  He's super fast, but not as big as some other linebackers. 

blockingteo

blockingteo2

blockingteo3

Slow developing plays and cutesy draws won't work as well against their strong D-Line.  And their corners come up well on outside runs. Quick hitting iso's, dives, and inside traps are your best bets. When they start to pinch or go to 8 man fronts, I'd work the veer option on the edge to take advantage of their OLB.  (don't know if state has this in their playbook)

Good luck spartans.