Sugar Bowl Insight at Maizepages

Sugar Bowl Insight at Maizepages

Submitted by JeepinBen on December 23rd, 2011 at 3:11 PM

So this is the last post in the JeepinBen Holiday Content Creating Blitz... but over at Maize Pages:

there's a good writeup on VaTech's defensive front 7. The gist is that VT is slightly undersized most places, but fast and athletic. 

There's a lot of real insight as well, and I dunno how many people know of Maize Pages, but hey, everyone's on vacation and looking for MOAR content, check it out, you won't be disappointed. Just a snippet below:

"Because of Denard Robinson’s running ability, Foster could implement what he did against Georgia Tech by moving Collins to defensive tackle and substituting Tyrel Wilson in his spot. Wilson is perhaps the smallest defensive end one will see in FBS, standing at 6-1 and weighing only 220lbs. With that said, Foster likes the redshirt sophomore’s added speed and agility at the position and feels he is a weapon in containing speedy quarterbacks. On the season, Wilson has 29 total tackles with 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss."

There are also writeups on the other position groups (save the seconday) on the page I linked. 

Happy holidays all,


Scouting OSU vs. Neb game notes

Scouting OSU vs. Neb game notes

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on November 18th, 2011 at 12:29 AM

Programming note: Next week will be pretty busy with thanksgiving break and all, so I'm gonna go ahead and put up all my OSU stuff this week.  The Nebraska game wrap might be a week late too, especially if we don't win.  

Old Scouting Report is Old

There are just way too many red and white teams in this league now.  

I had watched this game when it happened and had written up some notes and was planning to post it after the MSU game, but then I spent the week cursing at inanimate objects and hoping MSU's random bands of roving thugs would target Gholston.  

There's been a lot of personnel changes since then so I've thrown out the old notes and started from scratch.  

Both teams were coming off loses, Nebraska had just been blown out by Wisconsin thanks to a handful of Martinez interceptions and OSU had been blitzed to death by sparty. You can see the effect of both those games on some of the early playcalling in this one.

OSU on offense

No Dan Herron, and Shugarts hadn't gotten hurt yet.  The offense was all about Hall and Stonebrunner and Miller's legs until he got hurt. 

Miller is a scrambler

Like I said in the QB comparisons, Miller is more of a natural scrambler rather than an option runner. 


On this play, the left side of the Nebraska D-line is going to stunt  to get pressure on third down.


There's a missed holding call, but whatever.  The DT gets around and tries an outside speedrush against Shugarts


This is a mistake against Miller.  You want to keep him in front of you and don't open up big lanes like this.  As soon as he feels the end rushers go past him, his first instinct is to scramble upfield. If you rush under control, he'll scramble laterally and can be coralled for a sack.


MSU had a lot of success the previous week by  timing the snap and sending blitzers up the A gap. Nebraska tried it early, but didn't really get there because their timing wasn't as good.  After this play they didn't really blitz much until Bauserman was in the game. 


This is a 6 man blitz with one of the linebackers dropping into coverage.


There's a little bit of a twist going on with the right DE, but this was a called QB lead draw all the way. The blitzer gets blocked by the RB and Miller jabs his back foot and is off into the secondary. 


Without any LBs on that side and the secondary playing man coverage, this turned into a big run for MIller.


This play shows just how quickly Miller will bail on a play.  It's just a flare to hall at the top of the screen, but the Nebraska rusher gets a good bull rush.  


When the defender jumps, Braxton decides he's seen enough and pulls down the ball.


Instead of looking for another target, he tucks the ball and runs. 

Hyde's TD

Hyde got a lot of carries in the early part of the season when both Hall and Herron were doing their NCAA penance. That's dropped off considerably since Herron came back.  He's got good straight line speed, especially for being a larger back, but his vision isn't very good.  He's like Stephen Hopkins but with more speed. He still gets some duty on kickoffs, but mostly as the lead blocker for Hall.


You can see OSU's commitment to zone blocking on this play.  It looks like a lead play because of the FB, but Hyde's route on the handoff indicates that he's free to pick whatever hole opens up.  At the snap, all the motion is to the left.  The Nebraska D-Line responds by moving with the slanting linemen. Miller does a reverse pivot. 


But Hyde's aiming poing is not following Boren, the FB, instead he's aiming for the center of the line and bending back against the grain.  For some reason, nebraska has a DB playing backside contain, and the Will linebacker has been fooled by Boren's path. 


That DB doesn't understand "run fits" so he wasn't flowing the the D-Line and there's a huge gap between him and the DE that Hyde thanks him very much for.  The weakside LB has over run the play and can't get back to make an arm tackle.  Once Hyde gets past those two, he's pretty much untouched all the way to the endzone.

Throwback to Stonebrunner

With Corey Brown out and no one sure what Devier Posey will do, the RB's and Stonebrunner will be the focus of the passing game. This throwback screen should look familiar to Michigan fans, with the exception of the TE getting the ball instead of Vincent Smith. 


Miller is going to roll out to the right while the O-line shows pass blocking. 


Stonebrunner does an excellent job of selling the block and the OLB is completely caught flatfooted.


Stonebrunner comes off of contact and opens up for the pass, it's the center that gets the OLB and the other interior linemen are heading downfield


The blocking is setup well and Stonebrunner has enough speed for an easy 30+ yard TD

Nebraska on offense

Nebraska does a lot of different things on offense.  They have the spread/zone read stuff, the power running game, and also the veer option offense.  Burkehead will even get back in the shotgun to run some wildcat, probably because he's better at READING on the zone read plays than Martinez. 


After taking a lot heat for the interceptions against Wisconsin, you got the feeling that he started out the game a little gunshy against TSIO.


That's his passing chart with about 4 minutes to go in the first half.  Nothing deep or risky, and a double digit deficit to show for his 100% completion percentage.  So Nebraska gets the ball realizing they've got to pass deep to soften up the defense.


This is Martinez trying to throw a deep ball.  


And this is the result.  That receiver is kinda open.  I mean, yes, he's got 4 guys around him, but none within a 5 yard radius.  Nebraska fans understand our pain when it comes to armpunts.


Where Martinez is realy dangerous is when he gets to accelerate straight ahead. This is a midline option keeper even though it looks like an outside zone read.  You can tell by the pulling guard who goes off tackle.  I think the sideline tells Martinez before the play whether or not to keep the ball on most plays.  That would explain a lot of his "bad reads" and it makes sense that Bo Pelini would be a control freak (see below).


Burkehead's fake holds the contain man.  The pulling lineman takes out the LB and the rest of the O-line is getting a good push up the middle. 


This is the kind of run that Martinez loves.  He's not the kind of guy that will cut back across the entire field, but he's very good at reading the blocks in front of him and making quick cuts without losing any speed.  

Inverted T series

The way you design an offense is that you have a series of plays that work together or are out of the same formation.  Sometimes during the game you have to scrap a series if the first couple plays don't work.  But if the first play works for a big gainer, you can expect the defense to adjust and that opens up the companion plays. 


Nebraska stumbled across such an opportunity in the middle of the 3rd quarter with this Inverted T formation.  Some people call this a Diamond, but with the QB in the shotgun it looks more like a "T" to me.  But the stumpy part is away from the LOS so I call it inverted. Here's what the standard T form looks like. 


This is just a power sweep option.  The odd thing is that Burkehead has a longer ways to go to get to his block, but he's a fast guy, so it's not a problem.  The neat thing about this formation is that you can envision all kinds of counters and double option plays where the person in #2's position can pitch it to Burkehead or handoff to the the other HB coming back on the counter.  


OSU is overreacting the motion and the whole right side of the defense is flowing.  Ironically, the backside of the defense isn't reacting enough and the result is a gaping hole down the middle of the field. 


I don't the think DE ever actually saw the ball because he keeps running with #2 even after Martinez zooms past him. 


Against a normal QB, the safety and LB should have been able to stop this for a large gainer, but because they reacted slowly and because Martinez is already up to full speed, he blows by them like they're standing still. 


From the endzone shot you can see just how wide open that running lane was. 


A little later, they come back to the same formation, but this time the give is called.  It doesn't work as well because the ball is on the hash and they're running into the sideline.  But the point is to see how the defense has adjusted.  The weakside linebacker is way closer to the play this time and #7 Howard is up in bump and run to take on the blocking in case there's a counter or reverse coming.  


The DE is completely befuddled by this play.  He's nowhere near the mesh point so he can't help on a Martinez keep.  He's pointing out Burkehead to .....uh.... And he's not quick enough to get #2. 


Again the backside has been completely sealed off, and Martinez woulda had plenty of room for a big gain if not enough for a TD like before.  But I'm getting more convinced that he's not actually allowed to "read" the play. As it is, this play gets about 10 yards which coulda been a lot more if they hadn't run into the sideline. 


A little later comes the payoff.  They've got bump and run on the short side and they give them the same backfield motion. 


But if the LB's and Safeties had been reading the O-line better, they'd have seen this was a pass. 


Martinez drops a couple steps to give his receiver time to get open.


And the safeties are both dead.  It's interesting that they run the same route with both WR, this shows a kind of lack of sophistication in the passing game.  And it's only a 2 man route. But both WR had gotten a step on the DB's and this play get's Nebraska back within one TD.


He's not the fastest guy, but he's a solid football player.  Martinez is probably more dangerous, but you've got to stop Burkehead first to slow down this offense. 


This is an inside zone that should look pretty familiar to michigan fans.  the H-back is coming across to either block the DE or go out in a pass route.  There's also some bubblesceen motion with the slot receiver. 


The DE is crashing hard and the H-back completely misses him.  Martinez either missed the read, or it was a give all the way called by the sideline. .


If Martinez had kept it, there was a lot of open space once he cleared the DE. The lead blocker would have taken out the safety, 54 is taking to strong of an angle, and the other DB is too concerned with the bubble to have stopped Taylor.  Instead #94 gets the TFL on Burkehead since #93 had gotten good penetration and Burkehead had to stop his feet.


On the game tying TD, Burkehead showed a nice jumpcut. (If you're not sure what a jumpcut is, here's a nice example of Miller doing one.) He gets the ball on the flare after Martinez scrambles around a bit to avoid the pressure. 


The DB had him lined up for a big hit, except he jumps out of the way. 


And with the big blitz called, the rest of the secondary is in tight man coverage and Burkehead has no one between him and the endzone. 


So it was raining off and on during that game, which led to some amusing moments and a lot of slipping. 


Martinez's throwing motion is even uglier when he's falling down. 


Both sides were having trouble with it. 


And Miller turned his ankle as he slipped on a cut. 


Then Bauserman came in and promptly did this. 


At least on that previous picture he was under pressure.  On this one he's got no one to blame but himself. 


That ball is JUUUUUSSST a bit overthrown. 


Ok, maybe a bit more. But if you're wondering about the genesis of the the Bauserman Passing Chart, it was probably this play. 


  • Bo Pelini has anger issues. 



QB comparisons, Miller, Martinez, and Denard

QB comparisons, Miller, Martinez, and Denard

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on November 16th, 2011 at 6:19 PM

"Not such a great passer, but dangerous running the ball"

To the casual fan, it's easy to think that these three QB's have a lot in common, but the fact of the matter is that they are very different in their styles.  They have different strengths and weaknesses that have as much to do with their football IQ and personality as their athletic ability

Taylor Martinez

Taylor is the only one of the three to enjoy a redshirt season and the only one who hasn't had a change of head coaches. Because of that, he has slightly less playing time than Denard, but more time in the same system.  

Running Style:

Taylor likes to run.  He's got great acceleration and gets up to full speed in a hurry.  He runs with urgency.  He's not afraid of contact and will get north and south to maximize yards.  He will try to run through small creases. 

Favorite move:

Shoulder shake. He likes to keep both hands on the ball as he's running and so his shoulders are naturally moving back and forth.  He doesn't have elite change of direction but is quite shifty and has quick feet.

Most Dangerous Running Play:

Veer Option.  He has a good sense of when to hold and when to pitch.  He will hold the ball and suck in the defender before pitching late.  He is good with the fake pitch to open up running lanes for himself. 

Honarable Mention: Midline option keeper. 


He keeps the ball too much on zone read plays.  Against Penn State, he misread several zone read options like he had already decided to keep the ball. 

Passing Style:

He has a bit of a sidearm motion.  He likes to zip the ball in on a frozen rope.  Doesn't show much touch.  Not a great scrambler, he doesn't have the strongest arm and can't get much velocity on the ball when his feet aren't set.  He's very inaccurate on deep balls, especially deep sideline routes.

Most Dangerous Passing Play:

Intermediate in's and crossing routes.  He's not very good at hitting receivers on the fly so he likes to have a nearly stationary target to throw at.  Because of his low trajectory, he needs clear passing lanes and a direct line of sight to the receiver.  

How to defend:

Attack Martinez with a free rusher.  Assume he's going to keep the ball on 60% or more of the option plays, and force early pitches by commiting to hitting the QB.  (Like Jake Ryan did on Sheelhaassseeee last week). 

On passing downs, try to get underneath zone coverage in the passing lanes.  Try to make him throw over a linebacker.  And the coverage should flow to the rollout side.


Braxton Miller

Braxton played in a shotgun passing spread offense in Highschool.  He's a true freshman pressed into duty because Terrelle Pryor is stupid and never met a handout he wouldn't take, and also because Joe Bauserman just sucks.

So, he's been learning a lot this season about things that worked in H.S. but don't work as well in college. He is also without any experienced receivers until Posey gets back this week, so we'll have to see how much that affects his game.   

Running Style:

He's like a gazelle.  He runs away from danger.  He has exceptional speed. He likes to improvise and runs on his instincts.  He will not force himself to go where the play is designed to go.  Very dangerous once he breaks contain.

He runs around like he thinks other people can't catch him, but this is only sometimes true at the college level. 

Favorite move:

The reverse cut and the jump cut.  He will go backwards to make people miss and has enough acceleration and speed to make it pay off enough times that his coaches let him keep doing it.  He has elite change of direction, great balance, and will duck under tacklers who go too high.  

Most Dangerous Running Play:

QB lead draw. He does not like to run through tight spaces and traffic.  On the draw play, if the DE's rush past him, his instinct is to head upfield.  He's very dangerous in space. If it's 3rd and long, there's a high probability that the lead draw has been called. 

Honarable Mention:  Scramble


Inexperience.  He does not read blocking very well.  He will cut back against the grain even when there are decent holes in front of him.  Even if a guy is blocked, his instinct is to run away from traffic.  

He doesn't read the zone option or the pitch option very well. 

Passing Style:

Not as bad as advertised.  He doesn't throw a tight spiral, so the ball will flutter on him.  This causes inaccuracy, especially on deep routes.  But he has better touch and a better throwing motion than Martinez.  His low completion percentage is due more to the lack of talent at WR, and his inexperience rather than his arm.  

Most Dangerous Passing Play:

Wheel route to the RB's.  Boom Herron and Jordan Hall are the biggest threats when Miller isn't running.  All eyes will be interested to see what kind of impact Devier Posey will make this week (and then we'll wonder about how much money he made for the game). 

Honarable mention: Throwback screen and short routes to Stonebrunner

How to defend:

Corral him on the pass rush and play coverage.  (May I suggest man-free).  This is not the game for speed rushes around the outside.  I'd blitz him up the middle and have the the DE's stay home (like what MSU did).  He will cut back into free pursuing defenders if you give him the chance.  The pass rush needs to be under control so that you make him move laterally without losing contain. 

Denard Robinson

Anyone reading this blog probably already knows everything they need to about Dilithium, but just to complete the comparison. here goes...

Running Style:

Patience with great vision.  Denard is a team player and he relies on his blockers to open up running lanes for him.  He has elite speed and elite change of direction.  He has been a little more tentative in traffic this year, but is a determined runner on the goal line and is able to avoid the really big hits.  

He is better at reading the zone read than the other two guys.  

He is not a great improvisor and will not cut back all the way across the field by giving up yards.  He usually makes a few cuts and then heads to the sideline or upfield. 

Favorite move:

Being fast.  Denard doesn't do a lot of shake and bake, instead he just changes direction quicker than the defenders are able to. 

Most Dangerous Running Play:

QB power lead.  With the defense spread out, if the two running backs are good blockers he's a threat to go all the way on any play where every defender is accounted for.  

Honarable Mention:  Inverted zone read.  


He does not have a good feel for when to pitch and when to keep of veer or triple option plays.  He tends to get injured often over the course of the season. 

Passing Style:

He has a very strong arm but struggles with footwork.  He is very accurate when his feet are set.  But he has trouble with his deep accurace when on the rollout.  When he scrambles, he's looking to pass.  This has evolved a lot and is almost a 180 from his freshman year.  He's very good on seams and jump balls.   

Most Dangerous Passing Play:

QB dive pull-up. (a.k.a. the "QB, OH NOES!")  Has excellent touch throwing while running forward in a fluid motion.  

Honarable mention: The throwback screen

How to defend:

Have him take snaps from under center (jk). Overload the box to maintain a numbers advantage. Blitz up the middle and play man coverage on the outsides and hope your DB's can defend a jump ball.  Jump hot routes otherwise you could give up easy TD's if he completes a pass.  (if you're wondering why I would write this and give our opponents a blueprint, it's nothing that isn't obvious from the game tapes, and I'm hoping that this self scouting will give our staff some head's up and time to put in adjustments)

Early Nebraska Scouting Report from Happy Valley

Early Nebraska Scouting Report from Happy Valley

Submitted by Michael Scarn on November 13th, 2011 at 10:42 PM

This weekend, I took a trip to Happy Valley.  Yes, your read that right. Why, you ask? This had been planned for months as a good time to visit a friend in grad school there on a Michigan away game week, that conveniently matched up two good teams that should've been talking about a rematch from their last contest and the possible budding of a new rivalry.  My ticket was purchased, my friend expected me, so I went.  I'll delve a little into the awkwardness of everything but mostly wanted to give an in person preview of what Michigan can expect when Nebraska comes to Ann Arbor in a few days.

The tailgating to start the day was more than slightly subdued.  Sure, they still had beer, brats and music, but it did not feel like a matchup between two ranked teams vying for a possible path to the inaugural B1G Championship game.  Appropriately so given the awful tragedies that had taken place.  How much was out of respect for the kids and how much was the fact that they missed JoePa is up for debate, but I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt and lean towards the former.  Those of you that watched the game on TV likely saw the pregame honoring of the victims, which was done quite well.  When the teams met at midfield to pray, you could faintly hear the man speaking at the 50 from 20 rows up around the 5 yard line.  It was that silent.  Small groups of people tried to start chants but were appropriately shushed.  The crowd eventually got impatient and started a slow clap, which was not really disprespectful but did somewhat dampen an otherwise nice moment.  As the game started, there was cheering from the student section, but it all felt quite hollow, as it should have.  Late in the game it got as loud as I assume Beaver Stadium normally gets, but only for a brief period of time.  Overall, the weirdest and most awkward game I've been to by a longshot.  Downright eery.  Anyways, on to football things.

Taylor Martinez - boy oh boy is it tough to watch him throw.  But you already knew that.  What perhaps you didn't know is that every throw he makes is a frozen rope about 6 feet off the ground.  And this is not a good thing for him.  It appears that his chicken wing delivery doesn't afford him the ability to put any touch on his throws.  If I were the coaching staff, I would put a tremendous amount of emphasis on the D line getting their hands up. Having not watched a ton of their offense this year, I was suprised to see how often they went to the air early.  It appears that their game plan was to try to relax Penn State's stout defense, then run the ball late.  They stuck with the passing game despite its ineffectiveness for quite a long time.  

Rex Burkhead - Quick as hell and incredibly frustrating to try to stop.  They frequently will line up in the I and have Burkhead and Martinez switch places.  Burkhead is such an effective runner and Martinez such a terrible passer that it sometimes feels like they should do this permanently.  He's a decisive runner with solid vision and decent power who always seems to fall forward.  They've got a power runner whose name escapes me that they used in goal line.  He's effective.

The punter - Yea, the punter.  He's the third player I'm talking about. The punter.  He's that good.  He's like the space emperor.  He can coffin corner better than anyone I've seen in a long time and he'll bomb it as well.  Someone nearby asked what the name for the punter of the year award in college football was and suggested it be renamed after the Nebraska punter.  

Nebraska's corners - they're good.  It's hard to tell how much of Penn State's ineffectiveness passing was due to McGloin - or, as he's known, "The Scranton Slinger", and how much was due to the corners, but I felt like receivers were consistently well-covered.  Penn State doesn't have world beaters, but Moye is a solid receiver and I often watched him get locked down.  Obviously everyone knows about Alphonso Dennard, and he was as advertised.  The rest of the secondary was also great, though.  

I had more to say, but my memory escapes me on a few of my mental game notes. Overall, Nebraska definitely seems beatable.  They execute the triple option damn well, and can eventually burn you with it, but their offense feels like a middle of the road B1G one, and I think the statistics bear that out.  Their defense is meh, but the secondary does worry me.  An ability to lock down several receivers with man coverage could pose problems.  This will definitely be a game where I'd like to see a lot of 4 wide with zone running.  Getting into an Ace formation and the like and running play action pass probably won't fly as they'll be able to both confidently load the box and shut down whoever is on the outside.  

Random scouting notes on NW at ILL.

Random scouting notes on NW at ILL.

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on October 7th, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Don't have time to do a full write up and the game with NW is tomorrow anyway so here's some random observations


  • Active front seven, not very large.  
  • Lots of blitzes
  • They like 3 man fronts on passing downs, looked like some 3-3-5 with delayed blitzing (I hope they do that against us, Denard and Vincent will eat that up all day)
  • Lots of coverage breakdowns
  • Not a lot of elite speed anwhere except the one CB
  • One of their safeties got dinged up, wasn't all that great before the injury
  • Good tackling from their front seven, pretty decent against the run



  • Losing Trumpy is a big loss for them, was a big part of their offense
  • #9 is essentially and H-back with a little more speed, lines up at WR and all over the place
  • Persa throws a nice fade, but the WR's are really dominating
  • Persa looks a little down on acceleration, injury might still be bothering him
  • #11 Ebert is their main receiver
  • QB Coulter at 100% looks better than Persa at 80%.  
  • Offense is basically same as RichRod's


  • #99 Buchanan is a player to be concerned with
  • B1G worthy front seven


  • Not very impressed with their left tackle
  • Sheelhaus (sp? who cares) is more of a touch passer, not great zip on his balls. But he's got good ball handling skills, good playfakes.
  • Sheelhaus is better rolling to his right than his left
  • He also throws a nice corner route against the zone
  • #8 Jenkins is their main receiver, deep corners and deep crossing routes
  • #80, tall receiver, good hands
  • Never go for 2 early in a highscoring game (unless you're a team like oregon that always goes for two)

As long as passing Denard is on target and we get a good game from our CB's, we should beat NW by a few TD's.

MSU vs. OSU game wrap (with pics!)

MSU vs. OSU game wrap (with pics!)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on October 5th, 2011 at 10:09 PM

The defenses are yelling spoon!

And the offenses are the little guy pleading "Not in the face! Not in the face!"

This was a fun game to watch if you don't like either of the teams.  Both teams have pretty good defenses and horrible, horrible offenses.  MSU's only threat is B.J. Cunningham and OSU's passing offense is reminiscent of 2008 Michigan (The wonderful Threet/Sheridan days).  Both teams have major issues with their offensive lines. MSU's problems can be explained by a lack of experienced personnel, but this is a little surprising for OSU.

Luke Fickell will not be the head coach of OSU next year.  The only question is whether or not his replacement gets hired before the end of the season.  

Balls were slippery...

But before we get too giddy here, it should be noted that there was a misty rain and the ball was wet, so that accounts for a tiny bit of the Herpy-derpy-ness.  Like this:


The punter actually recovered the ball and got off one of his ugly-ass rugby kicks.


Here's Stanton Nichols Cousins doing his best Tommy Rees impression. 



MSU on D:

When you don't respect the other team's passing, you can walk up your safeties and do a lot of run blitzing. 


On this play, the short side safety walks up before the snap even though 2nd and 9 is often a passing down.


The flanker comes in motion which makes the other safety tip off that he's in cover 1.  The CB is playing run support all the way. The safety is blitzing the C gap.


The OSU TE is oblivious to the blitz and 76 (the RT) is doubling down the DT for some reason. Notice how the MSU MLB is completely free to clean up the place. OSU's O-line had trouble getting to the LBs all day long. I don't know if they've had a major philosophy change, but it looks like their linemen are not getting the right assignments on the zone blocking scheme.

Belated (and brief) notes from last week

Belated (and brief) notes from last week

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on September 24th, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I didn't have internet for the past week, so I'm getting to this diary pretty late.  Almost everything that occurred to me has already been said.  But here's a few things that stood out and could use repeating if you have already heard it.

This is why you don't teach players to only play strongside or only play weakside. 







A single shift into an unbalanced line made 6 of our guys change position.  I feel like this calls for some joke about Chinese fire drills, but it's too easy.  If the motion man hadn't taken the jet sweep and actually realigned on the other side, I wonder if those 6 guys would have been thinking about flopping back.  Ugh... ...

Our defense is still young and has a lot to learn.  We're a year or two (or three) away from being able to shut down serious opponents.

RB situation

Vincent looked good, I still worry about his durability.  There are some indications that ND's D-line and scheme are legitimately good against the run.  So this might not be as bad as we fear.  My hopes are still on Fitz to be the main workhorse until someone younger distinguishes himself.  Looks like we'll be RB by committee for the rest of this year.  

What about Denard?

Good thing: Denard is still awesome running the ball against weaker competition

Bad thing: We were forced to run Denard against a middling' MAC team

Good thing: Denard is getting better at getting out of bounds without taking a big hit

Bad thing: Several times he ran into a NT, DT sandwich

Good thing: The return of QB dive TROLOLOLOLO!!!!  (Brian "QB draw-OH NOES!" is a great name, but it's not a draw fake, it's a dive fake.)

Bad thing: Bubble screens still MIA

MSU @ ND notes

  • The game was closer than the score reflected.  MSU failed a fake FG and got intercepted in the redzone, ND had a kickoff return TD.  ND still wins handedly, but probably only by one score or 10 points instead of 18.  
  • MSU's O-line has big problems.  This is not news to anyone.  But I think it's showing up in some of their playcalling. 

For example, they used this weird formation


And then they pitched the ball around the short side TE/Guard.  It's like they don't trust their interior linemen, so they might as well try to run away from the muck.  (sometimes with a pulling lineman)


There's a reason why people don't normally line up like this.  It's not usually effective. 

  • Wood's first TD was not a TD.  

First of all, there was a blatant holding at the point of attack,


And he was down at the 1 yard line anyway.  


  • Bawk! Bawk! Dantonio.

It's 4th and 17 at midfield, down two touchdowns with 4 and half minutes left in the game. And he decided to PUNT.  C'mon, after last (last) week, we know that 4 minutes against ND is time enough for at least 6 touchdowns.

  • Nick Hill on Kick Returns

He looked good at finding the hole and they had some designed returns to break off to one side of the wedge.  This dishearteningly matches up with one of our weaknesses. 

  • It's all about stopping Cunningham

They still have the triplets at RB.  But with the issues they have with the O-line, Cunningham becomes the key to stopping MSU. 

  • Cousins is still a good QB, but I feel like we can trick him into a couple of INT's.  

He likes to throw the crossing routes to the WR.  And in the hurry-up, they seemed to favor square-ins and slants.  ND stepped in front for a couple of picks and tips.  Cousins is very good at throwing the checkdown and hitting late leakers from the backfield.  And all the backs seemed to be good at making them selves available after scraping past the rushers. 

MSU likes to call a fair number of screens and draws, but these are hard to do well for inexperienced linemen.  


Miss St. game planning

Miss St. game planning

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on December 31st, 2010 at 8:34 AM

Time to summarize what I think I've learned from watching (almost) all of MSU's games this year.  I'm not gonna do a season recap, instead I'm going to lay out where I think we can get some advantages or what we should prepare for. 

Sorry that this is thrown together at the last moment.  I'll probably do something a bit more in-depth for the game wrap. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I fantasize that the coaches or players actually read my spewings and can get something useful out of it.

But it's probably just helping the Mgocitizens waste a few minutes of work or ignore their families during the holiday ^^.  Either way, I hope people get some use out of my posts.



Starter: Relf (#14 but will wear #36 for the bowl game). 

He's a big guy, tall, 240ish.  Doesn't have breakaway speed but can chew up yardage quickly.  He is most dangerous on QB traps and draws. 

He has average arm strength.  He's fairly accurate within 30 yards, but loses accuracy the further he throws.  He can put good touch on intermediate slants and posts over the middle.  But he has lower percentage on deep outs and corner routes.  He can throw the flare. He can make a shovel pass, and he can option pitch going in either direction.  He can throw the screen. He is not as good of a passer when rolling to his left.

As a runner, he has good vision and decent cuts and moves.  Tends to fall forward on contact and can run over smaller defenders.  It's imperative that we get to him before he can build up momentum. 

He will probably carry the ball close to 20 times and have between 10 and 20 passing attempts.  (unless we get a big lead early)

He has big hands, but is sometimes careless in his ballhandling.  All defenders should be trying to punch the ball out on east-west plays. 

When he gets pressured, he sometimes throws the ball up for grabs.  If he throws off his backfoot, the ball will hang in the air.  He rarely throws the ball out of bounds.  It's either going to an intended receiver or he'll pull it down to run with it.

He's not great at reading coverages, so he'll hold the ball longer than he should.  The coaches call safe passes for him.  If we can get them to third and long, be prepared for screens and draws.

Backup: Russell

An athletic pocket passer.  But a redshirt freshmen.  He got a lot of playing time early in the year, but practically disappeared in the second half of the season as Relf established himself as 'da man'.  He's a gunslinger with a little too much confidence in his arm and not enough game experience.  He can run the zone read, but is not nearly as a big of a threat to run as relf.

Running Backs

Starter: #28 Ballard.  Juco transfer.  Bigger guy with a good burst.

This is your classic pounder, ala wisconsin or MSU (YTMSU).  He has good speed, but not great change of direction.  His instincts are to cut back to the inside instead of bouncing it to the outside, unless he's within 5 yards of the goal-line.  

He will get the ball between 10-20 times. 

He isn't great at maintaining proper pitch relationship on the option, so MSU has gone him having him be the mesh guy and having someone else take the pitch, or simply letting Relf keep it.

Has not shown himself to be a threat in the passing game. 

He is most dangerous on inside iso's, dives, and counters.

Backup: #27 Perkins. speed guy.

Freshman (maybe redshirt, don't remember).  But he came on strong as the season wore on.  Had a break-out game against Ole miss in the last game of the season.  Expect him to be a large part of the offense for the bowl.

With Bumphis out, he becomes their fastest skill player. 

He's extrememly dangerous on edge running plays.  Especially the sweep.  Expect him to cary the ball 5-10 times.  But they'll probably have another 5-10 plays designed to go to him on either screens, wheel routes, or some other trickery. 

With the extra practices, expect him to line up in the slot and then motion around, possibly to the backfield or to get the ball on a jet sweep. 

3rd string: #2.  Meh. will carry the ball 2-4 times. 

FB: #35.  Not the biggest player, but he has the heart of fullback.  He really sells out on blocks and is an excellent lead blocker.  Soft enough hands to catch the ball in the flat, but not much of a threat with the ball in his hands.  Also not much of a running threat, even in short yardage. (Relf and Ballard are more likely to get the ball in short yardage.)


It's hard to talk about this group due to the lack of passing, but here's some notes:

Starter: #1 Bumphis, Injured. WOOOHOOO!

When he was in the game, the OC designed many plays specifically to get the ball to him. He would line up in the slot but then move all over the place.  Relf had a tendecy to lock in on him.  Most of their creativity on offense revolved around his skills. 

Now that he is out of the lineup, expect #27 Perkins to take on most of his roles.  If Perkins is in the backfield, then #86 becomes the next fastest guy.  But #86 lacks experience.

Backups: #9 and #8 were both tall recievers with decent speed and hands.  One of them is injured, whichever one is named Berry.  So #3 becomes the next in the lineup. He showed a little bit of skill on the bubble screen

#19 caught a few balls but was basically meh.

TE:  One of the TE's remains injured, the other has decent size and soft hands.  But he wasn't targeted much this year.


A veteran group with a lot of starts.  LT #79 is a senior with a lot of NFL hype.  The center is also a senior.  These guys do a lot of pulling in all directions, and have enough agility to get in front of plays.  Most of them have severe guts, so passblocking in the 4th quarter might be an issue when fatigue starts to set in. 

The only weak spot is #62.  He is a good run blocker, but has made several mistakes in pass protection.  I suggest running a lot of two man stunts or blitzes on his side making him choose who to block and who to let go. 

There seems to be a significant talent/experience dropoff when the backups come in.  In the one game where they had to shuffle linemen around because of injuries, Ballard was held in check and things were not pretty.

If any backups come in, such as #61, we should attack them like crazy until they run back home to momma with tears in their eyes. 


This is a run first team.  They don't throw very often on first down.  If they do, it'll be short stuff like bubble screens or quick slants or hooks. Their most effective play action is quicker because the long developing playaction is practically usesless with Relf's poor deep ball accuracy.  If they run playaction on early downs, the targets will be 15-30 yards downfield against the zone.

They try to spread out the defense so that they can run right up the middle. Running plays will usually involve a lead blocker or an option mesh handoff. 

The offense relies heavily on misdirection.  They use a lot of motion and counter plays.  They like to capitalize on the defense lining up wrong, or not adjustion to the motion. Over the course of the year they've used tons of formations, but in spurts.  About 80% of it will be shotgun with a RB or two.  But they've run some I-form, some wildcat, and even some single wing in a couple of games.

Their running plays are generally slow developing with pulling linemen or lead blockers from the backfield.  The running backs, especially Ballard, have shown great patience in picking the hole and then accelerating through it.  

They want to control the clock.  The strength of the team lies with their veteran offensive line.  They may not be the biggest and strongest, but they don't make many mistakes. Because they run the ball so much, they don't show as many plays per game.

It has been interesting to see that they will use certain formations or series of plays for one game, and then you won't see it again at all for many weeks, if ever. But if they do show a play or have a series of plays installed for the week, expect them to go back to it if it works the first time. They may use that series 3-5 more times the rest of the game if you don't adjust to it.

With the extra practice time, expect to see at least two brand new formations that they haven't shown all year up until now. 

The OC will not hesitate to design plays just to get the ball in the hands of Perkins or some other speed guy in space.

Their main threats are on inside runs.

They are not afraid to go for it from about their 40 and beyond.  They will likely have 1 or 2 trick plays ready.


BLITZ! Blitz! BUH-LI-TZZZZZ!!!  Is what I'd be saying if we had better/more experienced DB's. But we gotta go with the personnel that we have.    I'd also prefer if we used more 4 down linemen this week, but the previous caveat applies. 

Even so, this is not a game for us to be sitting back in an 8 man zone all day long.  With their deficiencies in the passing game, we should have 8 in the box on early downs. 

Ideally, I would suggest that we blitz heavily on early downs.  About a 30-60% mix of outside blitzes and inside blitzes.  If we can get penalties against them or TFL's, we can kill their drives. 

The key to stopping their offense is to disrupt their backfield.  Well timed outside blitzes will destroy their sweeps and bubble screens.  Inside blitzes that outman their blockers will make Ballard and Relf stop their feet.  We need to slow them down before they build up momentum, otherwise they'll just keep leaning forward for first downs.  If they can run downhill against us like the sParties did, it'll be a long afternoon.

Once we get them into passing downs, blitz and stunt and twist up the middle like there's no tomorrow (which there might not be for certain defensive coaches).  Relf is much more dangerous when he pulls down the ball to run, so we need to keep him inside.  The outside rushers should back off to maintain contain or string out the corner and try to bat down balls. 

The best way to get Relf to throw bad interceptions is to put pressure right up in his face, not from the side.  Don't let him step into throws with good body mechanics.  His arm isn't strong enough to just wing it without his legs.  (Unlike Denard who can whip a fastball with a flick of his wrist).

I know all about our DB's.  But this is a favorable matchup for us.  Our DB's should play inside leverage most of the game and deny a straight path for the ball.  Make Relf throw over people and at odd angles.  We'll take the percentages. 



Against our running spread, expect them to be in a 4-2-5 of some variety for most of the game.  They use a lot of substitutions among the front seven and so sometimes it looks like a 4-3 or even a 3-3-5, but this defense revolves around the MLB #50 White, outside pressure, and a bend but don't break philosophy in the redzone.

In our territory, they will blitz and use high risk, highly variable defenses with a very deep safety.  Once we get closer to the redzone, they will mix it up more with 8 man drops. 

In the 2 minute drill, with a lead, they will do the opposite.  They will play a soft zone to eat up the clock and then start to bring pressure as we get closer to the redzone.  With our kicking situtation, this will be a problem.


These guys are space eaters and gap controllers.  Their main job is to keep people off of the middle linebackers.  And since I haven't really talked about them much in the game notes and the LB's have been darn good, that must mean they've been doing their job well.

The only standout is #90 Mcphee.  He'll need to be doubled or rolled away from on passing downs. 


#50 White, sideline to sideline player with a great motor.  Smart.  Not huge.  We must get a body on him if we expect to run the ball.  He's good with his arms and shedding blocks.  He doesn't seem to get tired, and will be a thorn in our side ALL DAY.  He doesn't have elite speed, (he's no Junior Seau from back in the day) comparing him to the only other MLB i've scouted in depth this year, he's a lot smarter and more experienced, but quite a bit slower than Manti T'eo (but who isn't?) so Denard should be able to get to the corner against him.  And the bubble screens will be available, although they like to roll up coverage to take that away sometimes. 

#34 Wright, taller, more athletic than #50.  He's a hybrid OLB/DE playing weakside middle linebacker, (if you can figure that out).  He loves to jump up to bat the ball down.  Would have about 6 interceptions this year if he didn't have hands of stone.  We need to block him with a shoulder pad in his gut to keep his arms down.  He's also very good at shedding blocks.  (reminds me a little bit of shawn crable, sorta)

#48 OLB.  Had a quiet season.  He spent most of his time blitzing and getting blocked.  But he seems to fit his role in the defense well. He'll be the first LB off the field for extra DBs

#10 OLB/SS hybrid.  Didn't play much in the last couple of games.  But he spent a lot of time covering slot receivers or as a flexed out OLB.

Defensive Backs

Cornerbacks #25 and #13 will play most of the game.  Of the two, #25 is the more aggressive and therefore more susceptible to double moves or playaction.  #15 has been moving back and forth between offense and defense, so we might be able to take advantage of him.  Depending on the coverage, #13 will give a big cushion, opening up the the comeback routes.

Safeties #4 and #5 are hard hitters.  #4 has been slightly better in run support.  #5 can be too agressive at times and is not as good in coverage. 

#5 has been battling for his position with #7, a younger player.  But #7 has made many mistakes in the few opportunities he's had, so expect to see more of #5. 


Oh, who am I kidding?  Despite what we saw against TuoOSU, this offense doesn't need any recommendations from anyone.  If Denard can bust an 80 yarder against ND, he can do it against these guys, just like the kid from Alcorn St. did. 

If we can pass with impunity against illinois, our WR should be able to get open and get yards tomorrow. 

I suspect that our running backs won't be able to shake loose much, but how will that be different from what we've seen from the 2nd half of this year? 

If we take care of the ball, no turnovers and no drops, we'll be fine. 

The only thing they seemed especially vulnerable to were tunnel screens (where the outside receiver is heading back towards the linemen) and plays were a really fast guy managed to get outside and run away from them. 

If the safeties start cheating towards the sidelines, there'll be plenty of room against the zone in the middle of the field, as Mallet and Arkansas showed. 

This game will rest on Denard.  The pressure will be coming, and he can't throw bad picks to guys he doesn't expect to be dropping off into coverage.  Hot reads have to be deeper, otherwise the LB's or DE's will be right in the passing lanes. 

So once again, how will that be different from anything we've seen from the 2nd half of the season?


On paper, this looks like a game that could go either way.  Either MSU will dominate us on the LOS and grind the clock to a 28-14 win that isn't really that close, or we'll be able to get some stops and make a shootout of it. 

This game rests firmly in the hands of Denard on offense (well, duh) and Jonas Mouton on defense.  If Denard can pop some big plays and connect with his receivers, we should be able to trade scores with them.  If Mouton can shadow Relf and not get fooled by ball fakes, we have a shot to outscore them. 

Some years ago there was a picture of Tressel with some writing on the board in the background.  It appeared to be his gameplan against us.  I can't find it right now, but it basically had 4 bullet points that said something like:

  1. Stop #20 (mike hart)
  2. Pressure #7 (henne)
  3. ???
  4. Profit!

Well, maybe those last two were different, but it didn't matter.  Based on the results, you'd have to say that Tressel has been a master when it comes to The Game. 

If RR were going to make one of those for the gator bowl, it should read something like this:

  1. Stop #28
  2. Shadow #1, #27
  3. Stop Relf with run blitzes
  4. Pressure Relf up the middle on passing downs
  5. Don't let Relf pull the ball down on a scramble and head up the middle
  6. Yes, this means designed draws too! Especially on the designed draws!!
  7. For god's sake, if you have to choose between going after Relf or someone else, go after Relf!!!!
  8. Seriously, RELF!


On a personal note, I really want us to win this game. No, I mean I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, want us to win this game.

First of all, I'm a fan and alum, so OF COURSE I want us to win every game. But in addition to that, a win would make Dave Brandon's job so much easier.

I don't want to get into a whole CC debate, but in every possible universe, winning this game is better for everyone.  At 8-5, there is zero chance that RR will be fired and replaced with anyone other than Harbaugh. 

At 8-5, if he keeps RR, he's keeping a guy that's improved the team by a significant amount every year and we're looking at a 10 win season in 2011. 

At 8-5, if he brings in Harbaugh, he's doing it because we want him as an upgrade over a guy with a decent record.  It's like buying a new car.  If you're buying a car because your old one broke down, you're kind of forced into it.  But if you're buying a new car because it's just that much more awesome than the one you've already got that is still working fine, well that gives a different kind of impression.

At 7-6 we're going to have to suffer the idiotic posts of the Brady Hoke following and their ilk. 

I hate making predictions, especially when the two teams are close.  So instead I'll just put what I hope happens. 

28-26 Michigan.  Denard breaks a 40+ yard run and we get long TD's from our WR's.  MSU kicks 4 field goals but misses a ridiculously long 5th attempt as time expires.

Scouting the MSU Offense (vs. WIS)

Scouting the MSU Offense (vs. WIS)

Submitted by AAL on October 5th, 2010 at 11:04 PM

Alternative Title: "We Already Knew This, But I Spent The Entire Day Working On It Just To Be Sure"

I am picking up where my Notre Dame diary left off. No video was readily available for UMass, Bowling Green, or Indiana.

As noted previously, legitimate scouting of an offense should have 2-4 of the most recent games, but time and resources have forced me to focus solely on last week's game. Defensive scouting based on an a single context is limited to what that offense thought necessary to be successful at a moment in time, and impacts the validity of this diary.

Some positive notes are that the Wisconsin game is MSU's most recent, its offense had some success in the game, and it was a pivotal, contentious game (meaning MSU was unlikely to hold back much in order to win).


Other Disclaimers

  • The focus was on data and not particular players’ ability. I didn’t review the film trying to figure out how good a particular player or position group is. Regardless, I picked up some things I note at the bottom.

  • I recorded 71 of 75 plays. 2 plays were not on the video and 2 were used to exhaust the clock.

  • I link to my own site to explain some terms.

  • Nominal analytical errors certainly exist, but don’t effect points made in a meaningful way.

Wisconsin's Defense

The Badgers played both a 4-3 and 4-4 front nearly equally. (In some respects the amount doesn't matter because Wisconsin's employment of man coverage makes it less relevant.) I have them in Cover 3 over 50% of the time and in Man Free for another 25%. They didn't try to disguise what they were doing much, making rotations way before the snap. Cover 3 allowed them to bring an extra man up against the run, where they yielded a respectable 3.9 YPC. In man coverage they mostly rolled the corners up to press. I think WIS knew MSU sometimes leaves eligible receivers (TE/WR) in for protection. So when WIS went man, anyone assigned to cover an eligible who stayed in to protect rushed the passer. This forced Cousins to get rid of the ball quicker if the corners could hold out for a few seconds. Indeed, I only have Cousins connecting deep down the field once vs. man (though others ended up there with YAC.)

As you might expect, WIS was not flashy on D, bringing an extra rusher 9 times and an actual blitz twice. When WIS used 5 man games, it always played Man Free behind it. The Wisconsin front 4 and ILBs are very solid. The Front 4 had some ability to generate pressure without extra rushers. Cousins was sacked, hit, or hurried multiple times. MSU offset this some by using more bootlegs or faster developing play action. The biggest problem for WIS was its perimeter guys vs. the run. Often they didn't come close to making the play when it was possible or couldn't get off blocks.


On with the chlorophyll:

By Down & Distance

  • 1 & 10 had 16 runs/9 pass for 64% run. 5 of those passes were play action.

  • 2 & 3 or less - 4/4 run

  • 2 & 7+ - 8 runs, 7 pass (split between dropback/ PAP)

  • 3 & 3 or less - 4/4 run

  • 3 & 4-6 - 4 pass (all 5 step), 1 run

  • 3 & 7+ - 6 pass (all 5 step), 1 run, 1 screen

  • 4 & 1 (x3) - Misdirection pitch, PAP, Iso strong

By Field Zone

  • Red Zone: 18 plays, 13 run/5 pass for 72% run. Of the 5 passes, 3 were PAP

  • MSU was never inside its own 15

By Personnel, Backfield, and Formation

  • 11 Personnel (19x)

    • Used in 1 & 10 seven times, 2nd or 3rd and long another seven times (total)

    • In 17 of the 19 times 11 personnel was used, MSU lined up in Dallas or (what I call) Dolphin. These are both 2 x 2 sets. Dallas sets the 2 WRs to the field and TE, WR to the boundary. Dolphin is a mirror image with TE, WR to the field and 2 WRs to the boundary. This is the only personnel group where MSU set its passing strength into the boundary (5x).

    • MSU used a Gun Near/Far backfield 15x, Ace 4x

  • 12 Personnel (17x)

    • I look at this personnel as MSU's go-to group. It is used in any 2nd down situation and in 3rd and short. To me, this says the offensive brain trust believes it can call a play with this group to get a first down or get themselves into a manageable 3rd down. 15 of 17 times it was used, MSU was in one of these situations.

    • Look for MSU to be in Ace Denver or to shift a TE to put them into a Near or Far Pro set.

    • 9 runs/8 pass, 5 of which were play action

  • 10 Personnel - in 6 of the 8 times used, it was 3rd and 4+. 6 of the total 8 were 5 step
  • 21 Personnel (9x)

    • 8 of 9 plays were runs out of I Pro or I Twins. 5 of those 8 were Lead Zones

    • From I Twins, the slot receiver motioned for a crack back block on the OLB (3x), two of those times it was run in that direction

  • 22 Personnel (8x)

    • 7 of 8 plays were in Red Zone, other for 4th & 1 outside red zone

    • 7 were runs, 1 was play action pass for final touchdown of game

  • 31 Personnel (6x)

    • This is an odd personnel group for the current age of football and it was employed in no specific situations or portions of the field. Right or wrong, it leads me to believe it was a game-specific wrinkle to mess with WIS or exploit particular defenders. Each time, MSU used a Power I Weak backfield. 4 times MSU ran in that direction.

By Play

  • Zone Run (23x) - Lead (10x); Outside (7x); Inside (5x); Split (1x)

  • 5 Step (16x)

  • Play Action Pass (10x)

  • Power (10x)

  • 3 Step (4x)

Top 5 Plays By Result

  • TB Screen +35 (threw over blitzers with man coverage behind, blown assignment)

  • 5 step +35 (Scissors concept; rubbed off defender in man coverage)

  • Play Action Pass - +30, +26, +24


  • The ESPN box score has MSU at 60% run overall (45/74)

  • MSU relationship between personnel on the field, down & distance, and play call is as strong as any you will see. With 3 WRs/1RB on the field you'll probably see a pass and there are probably many yards and/or few downs to go. With 2 RB and 1, 2, or 3 TE it's going to be a run (16 for 19 in this game) and probably 1 & 10 or in the Red Zone. Play action is nominally added to keep the D honest or surprise for big gain/TD. The only time MSU approaches balance is in 12 Personnel (1 RB, 2 TE). As noted before, they use this when they need a chunk of yardage and will mix run, play action, and the occasional 5 step.

  • I thought I'd pick up more about particular players than I did. I blame this partially on the fact that I think MSU wants to run particular plays in particular spots of the game more than get the ball into certain players hands. Are the skill guys good? Yes. Did MSU showcase any of them due to their ability? No. Also, to repeat, WIS did get good pressure with only a 4-man rush.

  • What does all of this mean for Michigan's defense? I don't really know other than I would bet on a lot of Cover 3.

  • I apologize for the funky formatting. I copied and pasted some of this from Google Docs.

Scouting the Notre Dame Offense

Scouting the Notre Dame Offense

Submitted by AAL on September 9th, 2010 at 3:07 PM

This may or may not be a running series based on time constraints and feedback.

Legitimate scouting of an offense should have 2-4 of the most recent games, but only one has been played. Online video sources efficient for scouting purposes are hard to come by, as well. The bitTorrents take 8-10 hours to receive with my computer and (which I used) made me want to kill myself. The need to constantly rewind for 5-10 seconds with poor tools is beyond tedious (Tom Hammond didn’t help). TV is also notorious for cutting important information out of the shot and, where this occurred, I didn’t record data.

  • If you enjoy this and know a way to get full game video quickly please let me know.

A Few Disclaimers

  • The focus was on data and not particular players’ ability. I didn’t watch anything trying to figure out how good a particular player or position group is. Regardless, I picked up some things that I note at the bottom.
  • I recorded 56 total plays, stopping when they were up 23-12 and bleeding clock
  • I link to my own site to explain some terms utilized.
  • Nominal analytical errors certainly exist, but don’t effect points made in a meaningful way.

The Irish never make analytical errors

The Irish never make analytical errors

2010 Notre Dame Offense vs. Purdue

By Down and Distance

  • On 1st and 10, the Irish were 68% run, 32% pass. On all other downs they were 21% run, 79% pass
  • On 3rd and 2+, they were 90% 5 Step
  • Overall 45% Run, 55% Pass, but you can see where the runs come from

By Field Zone

  • Unsurprisingly, the Irish are more conservative inside their own 20. In 5 plays they relied on Power, Play Action, and a Jailbreak screen
  • No other meaningful tendencies solely by field position

By Personnel, Backfield, and Formation

(A quick note on Personnel: Rudolph moves around a lot between TE and receiver. I used whichever position he actually lined up in, rather than identifying him as a TE every play.)

  • ND most popular backfield is Empty, using 00 Personnel. In 13 plays they used a version of the Trips Open formation (3 x 2) 12 times and Quads Open (4 x 1) once. All plays were 5 Step except one, where they faked a sweep to a player in motion and ran Crist unsuccessfully on a Power.
  • In 10 Personnel ND uses a formation I call Detroit. Because the play concepts are similar regardless of backfield, I combined instances of the Gun Near and Gun Far backfields for 14 total plays. 9 were 5 Step, followed by Draws (2), Play Action, Trap, and Inside Zone (1 each).
  • From here, things get more interesting. Again in 10 Personnel, ND used Gun Near Trips Open 9 times, 8 of which were runs (6 different zone plays, a Power, and a Draw). When the #3 receiver lines up as a true slot (1 x 1 off the OT, always Rudolph) ND called 4 runs to the weakside and nothing else. Those plays netted 16, 13, 15, and 13 yards, respectively. This could have been solely to exploit a defender or the scheme, but a major tendency nonetheless.
  • When the Irish go to 11 Personnel they lined up in Trey Open (Gun Near and Gun Far) for 11 of 12 plays. 9 runs, 3 passes. Runs were balanced between strong/weak.

By Play

  • The obvious: they throw a lot of 5 step (27 of 56 plays)
  • Most popular runs: Power (8), Inside Zone (5), Draw (3), Read Zone (3)

By Passing Zone and vs. Blitz

  • Crist threw to the strong or weak curl zone 13 times.
  • Of the 7 passes he threw over 15 yards, 2 were complete (+21, +19) and one was called for defensive PI.
  • Purdue only blitzed 3 times before the score was 20-3. The Irish handled it at that time (+5, +12, +7). After, Purdue blitzed 8 times netting 2 sacks, 3 incompletions, 1 scramble (for 0 yards), and a safety on a run play. Against the late blitzes, the Irish succeeded once on an Inside Zone run (+18).

Other Anecdotes

  • Crist is not a great run threat, but like any QB he can scramble for yards in a pinch
  • Floyd will be moved around as necessary to create favorable matchups
  • Rudolph, though utilized often, is not a great receiver in terms of measurables. His routes are about as round as a circle and he’s not fast. I didn't see what the hype is about. In the Empty set, ND put him in the weak slot a couple times, had the 3 strong receivers clearout that side and dragged him across for easy yardage. They also hit him 3 times in the weak curl zone for +8, +9, +9.
  • Crist audibled into a counter weak for ND’s first TD (+22).
  • ND pulls their center or backside tackle often to lead through the hole rather than the backside guard. (Those are some of the plays I labeled Power. Some may disagree with that name, but the concept is the same.)
  • Purdue plays a 4-3 and was happy to sit in Cover 2 for almost 50% of all plays. Often a nickel back was in the game replacing the Sam, but serving the same function. The safeties sat at 10-12 pre-snap and weren’t going to let anything over their heads.
  • It’s impossible to know how much of ND’s offense is “what they want to do offensively” vs. “what Purdue was allowing.” Michigan played a lot of Cover 3 last week. Based on the the ND scheme and what happened vs. Purdue I’d guess M plays much more Cover 2, Cover 4, Cover 6, and rolls to Cover 3 more often, if employed, to give Crist a different look. I’d also expect M to pressure or show pressure more often than Purdue did, based on how Crist performed against it.
  • I didn’t pay too much attention to the RBs because I focused on data, but they are legit. I’m sure Brian will have plenty on them.
  • If someone wants my chart, I can try to find a way to put it up.