Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 14th, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Gratuitous Video of the Week:

Formation Notes: The most interesting thing was Michigan's deployment of an unbalanced line on several plays to good effect. The PA FB flat and throwback screen both game out of the unbalanced line, as did a two-yard Hopkins power.

Substitution Notes: Barnum went the whole way in place of Schofield. Shaw, Smith, and Hopkins seemed to alternate snaps about evenly. Odoms got in for a little bit towards the end; other than that the WR rotation was about how it was.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel tight Run QB power off tackle Robinson 7
It's Nix, not Cwynar in for the first snap, FWIW. Michigan runs at the left side off the line, pulling Omameh and using Shaw as a lead blocker. Molk(+1) and Barnum(+1) double Nix, blowing him off the line; Lewan(+1) handles Johnson by himself. ND is not exactly surprised by this playcall and has the intended hole full of bodies. However, Nix has started to flow hard and Molk(+1 again) has peeled off to kick out KLM, so there's a cutback lane... Molk then peels off KLM to get a third(!) block on the play. Safeties ten yards off the LOS come in to keep the gain down.
RUN+: Robinson, Lewan, Barnum, Molk(2) RUN-:
M30 2 3 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel tight Run Zone stretch Robinson -3
Excellent diagnosis by Teo, who flows hard right into the intended lane. Shaw and Huyge both try to pick him off but he gets outside their blocks. Denard(-2) needs to cut his losses and cut behind this mess to pick up a minimal gain and a third and short; instead he tries to bounce it out. If he'd cut it up Nix had fallen (he is a battleship of a man) and he might have picked up the first. This is the kind of fast flow stuff that Michigan exploited last year. Didn't really do so this year. RPS -1.
RUN-: Robinson(2)
M33 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Penalty False start Barnum -5
Nerves from the debutant.
M28 3 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel press Pass Out Grady Inc
You can tell how scared ND is of Denard's legs. They rush four and have two linebackers flowing upfield right in the middle of the line, which opens up a huge gap for one of them to shoot. Instead they gingerly approach the line. Smith releases into a flare route that Fox belatedly realizes is his responsibility, he starts peeling out for it. Denard checks down to a three-yard out on third and eleven and throws it way upfield of Grady. He can't bring it in; even if he did this was zero yards. This is both a bad read and and inaccurate pass; this was a covered nothing route when he had full view of two linebackers in the middle of the field. A dumpoff to Smith had a much better chance of getting it done even without considering routes that are, you know, somewhat near the first down. (BR, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Grady Inc
LBs very spread out because of the... uh... spread. One safety creeping up, another at about 12 yards. This is the same route Robinson just missed, and there's an ND safety flying up on it to tackle on the catch if it gets there. It doesn't, as it's batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 1/1.) Can't really blame Lewan here because he has to pass protect; he can't just cut because this is not necessarily a screen.
M23 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone read dive Hopkins 2
This is our first indication that the zone read keeper is going to work all day. Michigan has Koger on the backside of the play; instead of going downfield he kicks out the backside OLB. Both MLBs flow hard to the playside. Denard(-2) should keep; he doesn't. If he keeps he's one on one with the FS for a big gainer. Since he handed off the blocking is five on five with Omameh(-1) doubling the playside DE instead of doing something about those charging LBs. Hopkins has to cut back and gets cut down by the backside DE, who Lewan(+1) had sealed away. Molk(+1) had blasted Nix way off the line, FWIW.
RUN+: Lewan, Molk RUN-: Robinson(2), Omameh
M25 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide bunch trips 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Dumpoff Smith 6
Good protection but Robinson can't find anyone. He checks down to Smith, who is immediately set upon by two ND LBs. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q. Robinson's second-down errors have killed both these drives.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 4-3 Pass Waggle (sack) -- -1
Yeesh. Waggle suckers this entire insanely aggressive ND defense and gets Denard on the edge being chased by a single DE. Moore was late getting out because he got caught up in traffic but is wide open. Also wide open is the corner. Denard should run, or throw. He should do one of the wide open things. Instead he points a little bit, then slows up as he nears the line, then stops, then is snowed under. Horrible. (BR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS +1)
M19 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB Iso Robinson 14
Notre Dame defends this well, then loses contain. Mediocre blocks along the line provide smallish creases but nothing major; Omameh(-1) whiffs on Calabrese, who fills the cutback hole Denard was aiming for. Let's cut back further. Koger(+1) is still blocking the backside end after all this time; that end has started to give ground in case he has to pursue and gives up the corner. Hypothetical ND UFR guy just gave him -2. I give Denard +3 for making 12 yards on his own.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Koger RUN-: Omameh
M33 1 10 I-Form Big Unbalanced 2 2 1 4-4 Under Run Power off tackle Hopkins 2
ND essentially has nine in the box with a safety eight yards off the LOS and charging at the snap. Michigan has a bunch in the box, too I guess. Barnum(-1) pulls and I'm not sure because I'm no expert on power yet but it seems to me like his path to the hole takes too long. When he gets there Fox is already at his feet chopping his knees out. Maybe that's too harsh, since this contact is happening right at the LOS. Maybe not. Bear with me. I've yet to see any attempt to exploit the insanely aggressive ND defense with misdirection. RPS -1.
M35 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Screen Smith Int
ND rushes three and lays everyone else back so even if this is complete this is going to die immediately (RPS -1). Denard pumps, then tosses it over the head of Nix... and Smith... and into the arms of Gray. (INX, 0, screen)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-14, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 18
Reminiscent of a phase in RR's second year when shooting that TE backside was all the rage. Koger is lined up as an H-back and pulls across the formation as Denard executes the read. ND is so aggressive Michigan's inside zone blocking looks like they're blocking down on power with Koger the puller; Lewan(+1) blows Johnson down the line and Koger(+1) kicks out the OLB. Denard(+1) pulls, then hits the hole right next to Shaw. Johnson does a valiant job to shuck Lewan and almost get out, as does Teo, but Denard is too fast(+1) and hits the corner. This play does exploit the aggressive ND defense—suckering in Teo was key. Roundtree had a nice block downfield. RPS +1
RUN+: Lewan, Koger, Robinson(2), Roundtree RUN-:
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Rollout post Hemingway Inc
Looks like a pin and pull zone on the line, but there are WRs. This does erase the safeties(RPS+1) while getting Denard time. He's got Hemingway with inside position on a post route, which is the perfect situation to put up an arm punt and let Hemingway get it... but he misses by five yards. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M31 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA Corner Roundtree Inc
A preview of the Great Gary Gray Garbage ExtravaGanza: dude just falls down after Roundtree fakes outside and then back to the inside. This is the WR equivalent of breaking someone's ankles on a crossover dribble. After a play action fake that does NOT suck the safeties in—contrast between this PA and the previous play is stark—Robinson sets up and hits Roundtree's corner. He zings it on a rope just out of Roundtree's outstretched hands. Live I thought this was a drop but on the tape it looks like it just glances off his fingers. Would have been a very tough catch. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
M31 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 3
ND moves a safety down into the box and sends a fifth guy. M picks up a looping stunt but the delayed blitz from the LB comes around and gets in; Denard has had some time but can't find anyone and has to roll out. Nowhere to go, he scrambles for a few. (TA, N/A, protection ½, team -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-14, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 2
ND super aggressive linebackers are super aggressive, submarining the FB Watson at the LOS and giving Hopkins nowhere to go. RPS -1. The blocking is fine. It's just that there's no way for this play to work if the FB is going to get cut-blocked a yard behind the LOS and Teo is going to flow over the top.
O43 2 8 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass Fade? Hemingway 43
Ah, the first of the impossible to chart things. Hemingway comes in motion to the short side, causing ND to reveal zone. The FS bails at the snap, not even considering play action. ND rushes five against seven blockers and gets nowhere. Robinson has all year. He eventually sets up and chucks a... back shoulder... fade? Is that intentional? Can it possibly be given what we've seen earlier today? It is to the outside and upfield and Gray is nowhere near it as Hemingway spears the ball, so... results based charting service. (DO, 2, protection 4/4) Hemingway catches it at the four and lunges in.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone read dive Shaw -2
Same thing: ND sells out on the keeper and does not leave enough backside. Denard(-2) hands off and there's just no chance because both MLBs are shooting up in holes and there is no contain on Denard. If he keeps he's got Lewan crushing a guy, Koger blocking the backside LB, and he's one one with a safety.
RUN-: Robinson(2)
M16 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Fly Roundtree Inc
ND rushes three and is stoned. Robinson pumps and then lets a sideline fly route go; way long. Robinson throwing a fly to Roundtree with nothing relevant. This is what I am saying by grab-bag: when this happened last year the pump was to a bubble they'd thrown several times. This year it's to nothing. Roundtree is covered well and the throw is long. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M16 3 12 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Rollout out Hemingway Inc
Michigan rolls the pocket; Smith cuts the OLB to the ground to give Denard enough time to throw. He forms up and fires to Hemingway, who he did identify in a window past the sticks. Unfortunately, it's a couple yards too far inside. He could have hung it up for Hemingway to get, but not this time. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, special commendation Smith)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 4 min 2nd Q. M's next possession starts at the six with 1:31 left; they run the half out.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 39
They probably should have run this until ND stopped it. This is a virtual replay of the earlier zone reads: ND's linebackers are insanely aggressive and have already committed to the dive before the mesh point even happens while Koger peels off to block the OLB over the slot. There is no one assigned to Denard Robinson! Koger(+1) and Lewan(+1) do get blocks but this is just easy. Robinson(+2) for the read and the speed, Roundtree(+1) for good downfield blocking. RPS +2, though mostly because Diaco's kind of a twit.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Koger, Lewan, Roundtree RUN-:
M49 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 4
Thirty Borgeses agree. This time Teo is slightly more responsible but has still ceded the corner to Robinson; the difference on this one is the FS, who is ten yards deep at the snap and flows downhill on the read fake. If you're running play action out of this, what happens? Does Robinson throw into double coverage? No. This is our assertion. Right here. RPS -1.
RUN+: Huyge, Robinson, Koger RUN-:
O47 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson -6
Line sets up to pass block but doesn't actually do it at all. Molk(-2) gets beaten clean; Lewan(-1) and Omameh(-1) let Johnson into the backfield and don't try to, like, block him, until he's four yards upfield and right in Denard's path. I have no idea what they were trying to do here; it looks like they were maybe trying to go off tackle but then you kind of have to block the playside DE. RPS -2. ND gets an illegal substitution afterwards.
RUN-: Molk(2), Lewan, Omameh
O48 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel Pass Hitch Hemingway Inc
Four rushers and the fifth guy coming on a contain blitz. Barnum is driven way back in the pocket, which may contribute to an iffy throw. Throw is not on time and Hemingway is not particularly open but does have position on the DB to box out; throw is okay but a little low and Hemingway cannot dig it out. (CA, 2, protection ½, Barnum -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-17, 8 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 Base 4-4 Pass PA Deep Out Hemingway Inc
Zone read fake sucks up the linebackers and after the snap there are eight ND players within a yard of the LOS. Two of them eventually come through the line but it's too late; Hemingway has broken his route off and is wide open. Denard throws and hits him. Dropped. Throw could be a bit better but this is one you have to catch. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M29 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Delay Hopkins 3
Safeties are rolled up just inside the first down marker; Denard checks; ND safety backs off into a deep zone, then rolls right back to where he was. This is fairly well blocked but KLM does not get far enough upfield to open up a big hole. Johnson does on the backside and Omameh releases into the linebacker back there; a cutback is the play. Hopkins(-1) misses it.
RUN-: Hopkins
M32 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide tight 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Koger 11
Johnson gets out of his lane as he tries to rush past Molk, giving Denard a lane to step up into. As he does this Te'o sucks up, understandably; Denard rifles one to Koger for the first down. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2, Molk had this under control IIRC)
M43 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA Post Gallon Int
The nadir right here. Play action on first down fools no one except Fox, who sucks up on it and falls down trying to re-direct on the wheel, leaving McColgan open forever. It is amazing how irresponsible these ND LBs are. Denard doesn't see it, instead throwing a post to a double-covered Gallon. It's easily intercepted. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-17, 6 min 3rd Q. If Denard had looked for the FB this would have been a big +RPS, but he didn't.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass PA Drag Hemingway 77
Zone stretch fake into a rollout... should I not comment on Nix, the NT, getting reached and thrown to the ground by Barnum? No? Okay. Denard's looking, should dump it to Koger but doesn't, and then KLM is on him. He dodges the tackle, KLM latches onto him, and doom is en route. Denard throws a flat-footed pass 12 yards downfield that could not be better placed, and there aren't any safeties since Hemingway is free of Gary Gray. (DO+, 3, protection N/A.)
O6 1 G I-form 2 1 2 Base 4-4 Run Down G Shaw -3
Blitz off the edge gets a LB into the backfield before anyone can pull around. LB impacts puller three yards in backfield; slant under from below negates any cut inside. Barnum(-1) is the only player truly at fault. Shaw has to bounce and loses three yards. Nothing he could do there. RPS -2.
RUN-: Barnum
O9 2 G I-form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Pass Waggle (scramble) Robinson 8
Not even ND's insanely aggressive LBs bite on this because it is bloody obvious (RPS -1). As a result everyone is blanketed and Denard(+3) is chased from behind. He makes a miracle happen to get down to the one.
O1 3 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Dive Hopkins 1
Shaw as the I-back and he motions out. Hopkins will run the same dive M ran against WMU. ND is prepared for this and sends everyone at the dive, getting both linebackers to contact Hopkins as the pile forms at the 1. (RPS -1.) Hopkins(-2) fumbles; Denard picks it up and saves everyone a nervous fourth down.
RUN-: Hopkins(2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-24, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA sack -- -5
Man, I still think they should be running the read. Teo is less nuts now but I'll take my chances. Instead they go play action and Fox blitzes. Barnum(-2) doesn't read it and lets him through to double a DE; Smith(-1) does not cut him on the run fake. Fox sacks. (PR, 0, protection 0/3) RPS -1.
O45 2 15 I-Form Big Unbalanced 2 2 1 4-3 over Pass PA FB flat McColgan 15
I am in disbelief ND could be so dumb to let this work, but I think the unbalanced thing screwed them up. Still, Michigan's running for 2 YPC from under center and it's first and 15. ND's 55 picks up a hypothetical -3 by crashing inside and McColgan releases into epic space. Denard dumps it off and it's a first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2). This was easy. Not much tonight has been easy.
O30 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 13
Pretty much the same story except now Teo is more responsible. He is not plunging right into the line. He stops and peels outside when Denard keeps but Lewan(+2) got an excellent block on KLM, forcing him down the line and causing Teo to stumble; Smith(+1) is now a lead blocker an finishes the job. Denard(+1) takes off for a first down.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith, Robinson RUN-:
O17 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Run Down G Smith 3
Barnum(+1) cuts Nix out of the play as Molk, Omameh, and Huyge pull around Koger. ND shifted late to put the playside DE in a two point stance and he gets immediately upfield, forcing a cutback and making Molk useless. Because of the Nix cut Smith does have a cutback. Johnson ends up chucking Koger(-1) away after defeating his block to both sides. RPS -1.
O14 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass Back shoulder fade Gallon 14
Extra guy in the box, so one on one on the outside, Gallon vs Gray. So... like... what the hell do I do with this? Given Denard's accuracy earlier this may be a terrible read and a mistake. But it works. Is this brilliant? Lucky? Insane? I don't know. Since this is a results based charting service we will give the benefit of the doubt, and Gray did seem to have tough job given the timing and placement of the throw. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-24, 10 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA Deep hitch Roundtree 15 (pen -5)
Four man rush with a contain guy. Robinson sets up and finds Roundtree with a dart between two zone defenders for a big chunk. Quality throw. (DO, 3, protection 2/2) Michigan picks up a hold on Huyge that is exceptionally weak. Not relevant to the play at all and not much of a hold, either.
M4 1 15 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 6
Okay, ND has adjusted. Calabrese shoots the backside gap and tackles Smith. Robinson's read this and pulled; Teo is scraping over and waiting. Lewan(+2) pancakes Johnson, giving Robinson a cutback lane. Cavalry arrives. (RPS -1)
RUN+: Lewan(2), Robinson RUN-:
M10 2 9 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA Post Hemingway 45 + 15 pen
I was willing to give Denard the benefit of the doubt on the previous one but this is a throw into double coverage when he's got a huge lane in front of him that he can run up into for positively ages. It's underthrown and Hemingway high-points the ball but I can't condone chucking it up into double coverage. (BR, 2, protection 2/2) ND gets a terrible roughing the passer penalty after the play (refs +1)
O30 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass Fade Gallon Int
A terrible throw to a blanketed WR. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-24, 4 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power off tackle Robinson 8
Omameh(-1) does not release downfield, instead doubling the NT that Molk has dealt with. God, Nix is such a tub. Huyge(+1) and Koger(+1) destroy Johnson; Smith and Barnum kick out guys who are maintaining outside leverage, forcing the play back to Teo. Denard(+2) WOOPs him and the safety who had come down, with help from Hemingway. A corner comes in to finish him.
RUN+: Koger, Huyge, Robinson(2) RUN-: Omameh
50 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Post Hemingway Inc
Wide open post since ND again has a single high safety who is ten yards deep at the LOS. Hemingway wide open for 30; Denard misses him. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
50 3 2 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB power off tackle Robinson 2
Molk(+1) chucks Nix to the ground again. Omameh(-2) again delays instead of getting out on Teo; Koger(+1) and Huyge(+1) flatten Johnson. Teo and Robinson meet at the first down line. I think this spot is accurate.
RUN+: Molk, Koger, Huyge RUN-: Omameh
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Corner Grady 27
Rush four this time with man coverage and a single high safety. Grady breaks a corner route off and gets open against a safety—mismatch. Denard hits him in stride, allowing Grady to rip off some YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O21 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Throwback screen Smith 21
The dagger for these linebackers. No one is keying Smith and six ND players are hammering after Robinson as the entire left side of the line fans out to block for him. Robinson flips the ball to Smith and he turns upfield to see... well, he should see nothing but green except Lewan(-2) totally whiffed on the OLB. Smith(+2) cuts upfield past him, then heads back outside as Roundtree(+1) blasts the last corner infield. Touchdown. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-24, 1:15 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Deep hitch Gallon Inc
Omameh(-2) gets beaten and is lucky that he doesn't get called for a hold; he shoves the OL past Robinson and Robinson steps up. He finds Gallon open for 20 yards and misses him (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Omameh)
M20 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Wheel Gallon 64
Better protection this time; ND does loop a guy around to flush Robinson up. As he's moving he finds Gallon open again, this time deeper, and nails him in stride about 35 yards downfield. Gallon rips off another 30 on the ground before being angled OOB. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O16 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Nickel Pass Fade Roundtree 16
This is only an okay throw; if Gary can get his head around he's got a play on the ball. But he's Gary Gray. He's all interfering and such, not looking back, and Roundtree makes the catch anyway. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-31, EOG





Your enthusiasm is insufficient. I sentence you to death.

Look, man… it's just that… thanks to poker I have a model of the world in my head that holds two things as very different things: what happened and the likelihood of it happening. This remains a results-based charting service but that doesn't mean the charts are the be-all and end-all. They've always been useful guides but sometimes I disagree with my own numbers, for one. For two, results-based charting has always been an offshoot of the humility that comes from being amateur trying to figure out a very complicated thing. I'm not sure "chuck it up and hope" is that complicated.

As you'll note above, I did provide some credit to Denard/the offense for chucking it up. The diverse and sundry skyward heaves:

  1. Hemingway 43-yard touchdown: dead on
  2. Roundtree fly route: inaccurate
  3. Rollout post to Hemingway: inaccurate
  4. Double-covered Gallon INT: bad read XTREME
  5. Back shoulder fade for Gallon TD: dead on
  6. Hemingway 45 yard double covered arm punt: bad read
  7. Single-covered Gallon INT: bad read XTREME combos with inaccurate
  8. Roundtree touchdown: catchable

2 DO, 1 CA, two IN, three BR, two of the X variety. I don't know if that's sustainable. For whatever reason, Denard's accuracy is in the crapper this year, so having him heave it to covered WRs is a 50-50 proposition. I mean, what happens when the guy defending them isn't "atrocious"?

In a lot of scouting circles, Notre Dame CB Gary Gray was considered a draftable prospect entering the year with a possible mid-round grade according to some. However, when watching him on tape this summer I didn’t really like what I saw then and I certainly didn’t like what I saw Saturday night vs. Michigan as Gray was victimized time after time vertically down the field. And it wasn’t’ the fact he struggled to keep pace, as he is a solid straight-line athlete. It was his ability to look, lean and find the football that was downright atrocious. And it doesn’t matter how good a defensive back’s coverage skills are, if he can’t find the football he’s never going to make plays, which is my biggest fear concerning Gray as he looks nothing more than an “athlete” free agent at this stage.

What would the results-based charting look like if we tried that against someone average instead of atrocious?

So why is it the offense's fault instead of Denard's?

The possibilities as I see them:

  • The accuracy issues are a short-term fluke. Denard's only had a game's worth of opportunities to throw so far. People have bad games.
  • Last year Denard was restricted to a set of easy, short routes that he could hit and is now being asked to do other things. IE: last year was a mirage because he just threw hitches.
  • Denard is worse now for whatever reason. IE: he is legitimately regressing.

Hoping for the fluke explanation, but there seems to be some merit to Door B. He's a breakdown of passes in last year's Notre Dame game:

  • Hitch: 9
  • Flat, seam, bubble: 6 (one waggle FB flat!)
  • Deep curl, flare: 3
  • Tunnel screen: 2
  • Post, corner, fly: 1
  • Throwaway: 1
  • Run around like Tate: 2

This is a dedicated short passing game that ran a ton of curl/flat. Denard completes 60% for 1 TD and no INTs, averaging 6.1 YPA. This year we've got the eight downfield chucks, two throws behind the line (8% of attempts) instead of 11 (over 28%), and a total lack of free touchdowns in the seam or hitches to stationary targets that worked well last year when Roundtree wasn't dropping them.

This is kind of sexy in the long term since it indicates that Borges is partial to bombing it downfield; in the short term it leads to things like nasty—

I don't want to see your chart.

Charts anyway. I've left common opponents from last year in, because it will be interesting to compare.

2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%

Hello massively bipolar day and worst DSR since we crammed his entire freshman year together to get a single game. The number of throws were way down; the number of tosses into coverage and badly missed balls were way up. Why? Too early to tell.

Adding to Denard's tough day were a few bad decisions on the ground. On the first drive he could have cut it up on second and three for near first-down yardage; instead he lost three. It took him a bit to recognize that ND's linebackers had lost their minds, so he handed off for nothing gains a couple times on the zone read. He did manage a bunch of yards on the ground by being Denard, though, most importantly the Dance of Waggle Chicken Salad:

Mmmm waggle chicken salad.

As the season develops we'll get a better idea about whether this is momentary jitters, an adjustment to a new offense, or a straight-up limitation that needs to be gameplanned around. Survey says ask again later.

But his receivers sucked.

No. There was one drop and a couple of maybes.

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


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

That's basically fine, better when you consider Gallon and Hemingway bailing Robinson out on jump balls. The receivers were a net positive.

The OL:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 7 3 4 A couple impressive pancakes.
Barnum 2 2 0 Down block, pull around, kick out, etc.
Molk 3 2 1 JAG in power scheme
Omameh 0 6 -6 Inexplicably doubling DTs on outside power instead of getting to Teo on second level.
Huyge 3 - 3 Comboed with Koger effectively.
Schofield - - - DNP
Mealer - - - DNP
Moore - - - Still pretty anonymous in limited PT
Koger 6 1 5 Gave team lot of room outside tackles.
TOTAL 18 13 5 Couldn't run for crap unless ZR was pulling LBs out of position
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 15 4 11 The only thing M had going.
Gardner - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Shaw - - - Hardly got a carry.
Smith 3 - 3 Screen weaving a game-changer.
Hopkins - 3 -3 Welcome back to the doghouse
Cox - - - DNP
McColgan - - - One slamming block.
TOTAL 18 7 11 Just Denard again.
Player + - T Notes
Stonum - - - --
Odoms - - - --
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree 3 - 3 Very helpful on screen, couple of Denard runs.
Grady - - - --
Gallon - - - --
Hemingway - - - --
TOTAL 3 - 3 Eh.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 44 6 88% Team 1, Barnum 3, Smith 1, Omameh 2

FWIW, I have the RPS as 10 – 14 = –4. Not quite enough exploitation of those LBs.

Getting a little concerned over here that the offensive line is being asked to do something it's not very good at even when there seems to  be an obvious reason to go back to the old well: a 340-pound nose tackle who's about as mobile as Woody Hayes. Sean Cwynar didn't play at all so this Nix battleship came in and fell over every time he was asked to move down the line. This seems like the perfect opportunity to zone stretch some dudes—and when they used stretch play action the backside G was usually throwing him on the ground—but we didn't get a single one all day. Thus Molk coming out of a game with a +1.

Misopogon already calculated this but it's something I was going to do anyway: runs from under center averaged 2.3 yards. Runs from the shotgun averaged 7.5. Small sample sizes apply; they are less small this time around.

What is your problem with the offense, buddy?

Mostly I miss the tender caresses of Rich Rodriguez, the moonlit walks we'd used to take as he described his decision to hire Greg Robinson's hair and have it run a 3-3-5 Greg Robinson's hair had never heard of, or his decision to recruit one OL in that one recruiting class, that a center, and lose 30% of his players a year in. I have no good reasons for thinking this and can be safely dismissed because I don't know what I'm talking about.

For my mother, the only person who can muster up enough love to keep reading this far: so the thing is, here's a screenshot. It's from the first play of what would eventually be Michigan's first go-ahead touchdown drive.


Denard's taken about two steps towards the line of scrimmage and all eleven Notre Dame players are within eight yards of the LOS. They are in man with no reasonable safety help. If Denard was to pull up and look for a receiver he'd have Odoms breaking open on a corner or post from the slot. This kind of thing didn't happen when Michigan went under center. Notre Dame did blow some stuff because their linebackers are stupidly aggressive; they were not forced to put every player they had level with the umpire.

Here's the next play, which is just a straight drop-back pass. This is a full two seconds after the snap:


You see that guy at the edge of the screen ten yards deep? That's the free safety. The deep middle is now ten yards. There are 100 seconds left! The free safety is ten yards off the LOS and Notre Dame is rushing three! This is the planet of Denard's legs!



A receiver wide open for 30 yards who Denard misses. This is easy. Two plays later ND will show a straight-up 3-4 on first and ten with one high safety and man coverage; Grady will break a corner route against man and Denard will hit him for major yards.

Michigan did not get much that was easy based on the structure of the offense. Te'o and Fox/Calabrese running headlong at anything that moved got them open FB wheels, those zone reads, and the Smith throwback screen, and then everything else was chuck and pray. It worked; I have doubts it is a tenable solution long-term.

This is not easy

Not easy

Not easy


The deep middle is 25 yards downfield on first and ten from under center. Yeah, all of Michigan's touchdowns came from under center. But they weren't, like, open except insofar as anyone covered by Gary Gray is open, nor was there anything about the structure of those plays that required playing from the I-Form—Michigan scored on a throwback screen to Martell Webb last year.

If you want to rely on Denard being able to diagnose and consistently throw back-shoulder fades against good, sometimes double, coverage, um… okay. I'd rather have him throw at the blitheringly wide open dudes. I think that the shotgun + Denard makes guys blitheringly wide open This is no doubt because I make my wife wear a Rich Rodriguez mask at night and not because I spent last year copiously documenting it.

Do you have an annoying disclaimer for us?

Yes. I spent large chunks of the offseason praising the coordinators and I'm not throwing that out the window after two games. There are a lot of things that concern me but these are not GERGs. I'm guessing we'll see things get figured out. God, this is tedious isn't it? Should I bother explaining things to the kind of people who see this as an attack on the coaches? Sure, I don't want Michigan to win anymore because Rodriguez is gone. That makes sense given the last six years of content here. Nevermind.

But Notre Dame's defense is really good!

I'm skeptical of that argument. ND finished 50th last year in standard yardage, 25th in FEI* and Bob Diaco is a weird guy. They coach their linebackers to be super aggressive, which is great when it works and stupid when it doesn't, like when a simple zone read with hardly a tweak opens up for big gashing runs. I suspect they might be vulnerable to misdirection all year.

*[If this sounds good in the context of 120 teams, it's in the Illinois-Iowa-UNC area, so… good, not great.]

So Bob Diaco is…?

I think not very good. His linebackers are incredibly irresponsible. You know about the two McColgan openings caused by linebackers not covering him and the zone reads where Teo flew upfield:

What you may not have noticed was that on two other zone reads where Denard handed off they did the exact same thing. This was the fifth(!) basic zone read where they had no one for Denard Robinson. Maybe they wanted the OLB to be the contain guy but dude was getting blocked. They did manage to adjust on the sixth one, though. Good job, Diaco!

This is how they did it:

By getting the free safety to tackle him four yards downfield. Which goes back to the earlier point, I think.


Denard. Also Hemingway, Gallon, and especially Gary Gray.



What does it mean for Eastern Michigan and beyond?

I've already given you my take above. They'll work on their stuff and try to get Denard more accurate and their tailbacks gaining more than two yards a carry out of the I, but when push comes to shove I don't think they really have a choice. We'll see.


Mitch Cumstein

September 14th, 2011 at 4:34 PM ^

Although in DahBlue's defense, he has also brought up the hypocrisy of expecting Borges to tailor his offense to Denard's skills while excusing Rich Rod for implementing a future system that his current roster couldn't run in 2008.  I mean, I've heard the arguments played out a million times and can't really pick one side or the other b/c while it is a little hypocritical, its just not the same situation.


September 14th, 2011 at 4:38 PM ^

Adjusting an entire offensive scheme for one or two seasons because of Steven Threet seems like a terrible idea.  Doing the same for Denard Robinson seems like the most logical thing ever.

If Mallett had stayed and Rodriguez had still insisted on running the spread option I think people would have more room to cry hypocrisy.  


September 14th, 2011 at 5:01 PM ^

when, like Rodriguez, you're talking about a team that lost literally every skill position starter, the heir apparent at QB, and the #1 overall pick at left tackle.  There were barely any players left who had experience in any scheme, and the offense was pretty likely to suck regardless of what system they ran.  In those circumstances, it makes tons of sense to take your lumps and install your system even if it's a bad fit.  Basically, Rodriguez was going to have to implement his system at some point, and that was as good a time as any given the roster.

This year's team is a completely different situation.  They return basically every starter on offense, including a very good offensive line and the 6th place finisher in the Heisman race.  While Borges's system does have to be installed eventually, there's a real cost to doing it this year, and it makes far more sense to hold off for a year or two while the guys who know how to run the spread option pretty well cycle off the team.  Basically, Michigan will probably never have a player with Denard Robinson's skill set again in my lifetime.  If would be a shame not to utilize those skills while he's here (which is why I'm glad we're running the read option a lot and hope Borges continues to tweak the offense toward a spread option direction).  


September 14th, 2011 at 5:20 PM ^

I've gone back and forth on this in my mind and still can't come to a solution:

If Mallett and Boren and Planet Mitchell all stuck around for 2008:

1.) Does RR do more Pro Style?

2.) Is the offense better?

The best I've come up with so far is Yes and Yes. With big but's (and in Alex's case...oh nvrmd). But the First is yes but he still does lots of spread install. This isn't a Borges situation where the guy has mastered many offenses to various personnel along his career path: Rodriguez was an innovative high school coach who rode his innovation to the top of the Big East. But the Second is they're still not great. Mitchell wasn't going to be much better than Schilling at guard anyway; Boren would have been a major upgrade over McAvoy/converted defensive tackle/recycling bin. And Mallett >>>>>>>>>> anyone who took a snap for Michigan.

It would have still been an awful fit and transferring was the right move for Mallett (not so much for Boren)


September 14th, 2011 at 11:25 PM ^

If Mallett is there AND Manningham and Arrington stick around, you have the option to run a passing spread (which RR did at Tulane with Shaun King).

I say that the biggest problem with 2008 was 3-9.  If they had been able to keep the bowl streak alive, it wouldn't have mattered.  A competent offense maybe ekes out at least 3 more wins that season (Utah, Toledo, Purdue, Northwestern were all w/in a TD).

In the end, RR lost his job because he couldn't put together a defensive staff that was worth a dime.  It just might have taken us a little longer to figure that out if they had a little more skill on offense in 2008.  

Mr Miggle

September 14th, 2011 at 5:25 PM ^

RR was hired to bring in his offense. The team returned one offensive starter and 3 QBs who had never played a down. Two of them were completely unsuited to the previous pro-style attack. Contrast that to this year. Hoke inherited an experienced and productive offense with a possible, even probable Heisman candidate at QB. If DB is to be believed, he had a long talk with Hoke about how he would use Denard before he hired him.  Borges has a lot of experience running a variety of offenses.There's no compelling reason to run an offense that ill-suits the current roster. There arguably was in 2008.


September 14th, 2011 at 6:00 PM ^

present coaching staff would have recruiting DR to be their QB. That should you all you need to know regarding the system issue with DR. He is not a good fit. DG probably should be playing the QB position with DR in the back field.


September 14th, 2011 at 4:10 PM ^

But I believe Gary Gray was single-handedly responsible for over 200 yards of passing offense for Michigan, between jump-balls, Hemingway's long catch-and-run, and abandoning his zone responsibility on the long play to Gallon.  He was without question the biggest hero of the game.

Note: I feel awful for the kid to have that responsbility on his shoulders after the game.  Just calling a spade a spade.


September 14th, 2011 at 4:48 PM ^

The guy is a senior, blue-chip recruit who has played a ton of football and will probably get drafted.  NFL teams throw the fade all the time (even in goalline situations) and corners get beat all the time. 

Only a couple of teams on the schedule will have anybody that good defending our guys one-on-one.


September 14th, 2011 at 4:58 PM ^

This was also a case of diaco not adjusting. If Gray is struggling like that, move the cbs to outside leverage and force things inside. I think they set up inside to give themselves another defender on the edge to protect against Denard's on the sweep, but by the end, they should have been forcing our receivers inside toward the safety help.


September 14th, 2011 at 4:14 PM ^

We knew the game was mostly ugly, we knew that the offense looked unsustainable, we knew there'd be growing pains, and most of us assumed a slight step backon O. Let's wait and see how we look this weekend. How much does Denard improve over the next week in this offense, and how much does Borges adjust the offense to cater to his strengths after our first real competition? As you point out, Borges is no fool. Hayes and Rawls will apparently get some carries too this week, and hopefully Fitz is healthy.

If we look just as inconsistent come B1G play, then we can panic. Untl then, like you said, our coordinators aren't fools. Unless they prove to be.


September 14th, 2011 at 4:16 PM ^

My worry is Denard seems so bent on trying to prove he can pass under center, that everytime he has 50 yards in front of him he just throws it up instead of running..


Hope to see him start to take off a lot more, ill start to lose hope if that doesn't happen in the next few games


September 14th, 2011 at 4:55 PM ^

I yelled "RUN" at the top of my lungs on that play where the entire center opened up on that pass play where he hit Hemingway downfield.  Of course, I quieted down after the completion but the fact remains that I think he's not trusting his gut enough.  Its to be expected though - entering into a new system you have to trust your coaches or its over before it even starts.  But Brian isn't off base when he suggests that the zone read needs to become more of a focal point again - I want MOAR DENARDED!


Maize and Blue…

September 14th, 2011 at 7:08 PM ^

I remember many third downs last year where Denard could have easily got the first down by pulling it down and running.  Instead he decided to attempt a pass that usually fell incomplete and the punt team came on.  I was hoping that was because his number was being called so much last year, but he did only run for 500 yards his senior year of HS.


September 14th, 2011 at 7:03 PM ^

I'm not sure if Denard's bent on proving he can pass from under center.  My recollection from last year was on passing plays there were a number of times he threw the ball when he better option appeared to be tucking the ball and running. 

I think it's more about him making the correct decision.


September 15th, 2011 at 9:14 AM ^

considering the magic trick he pulled where he rolled out and finally tucked it, running through 5 Irish defenders to the 1. I definately wouldn't mind him pulling the ball down a couple more times a day, just as long as he avoids the hit if possible.


September 14th, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

And while QB Oh Noes! is quite possibly my favorite play, you can't run it every play. I like that the staff did do a different Denard-self-play-action on the Smith TD. The more simple run/pass Denard options (or at least PAs) the better in my opinion


September 14th, 2011 at 10:23 PM ^

The play everyone, and presumably yourself, thinks was a qb-draw PA fake was just a read-option PA fake with Dileo running a seam route.

We have yet to run a PA with Denard moving forward towards the LOS... and have yet to run enought qb draw to effectively set it up, though it may have worked vs. ND's agressive LB's


September 14th, 2011 at 4:22 PM ^

Freeze the frame at :12.  Denard is 5 yards upfield of 2 wanna-be tacklers who hit each other and fall down.

Denard is officially Cartoon Fast. Roadrunner Fast.

I agree with Brian in that I think the Coordinators are still figuring out the best way to use their pieces. Hopefully they'll have plenty of time to tinker in less exciting games coming up


September 14th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

My daughter sat down to watch the game with me -- she's very much still learning the game -- and I was effusing about Denard's speed and quickness just before that play happened.  I had to rewind it a few times: "He decided to turn upfield with FIVE white jerseys between him and the goal line, and very nearly made it!"

I stopped juust short of quoting DFW: "Just look at him down there.  Look at that."


September 14th, 2011 at 4:58 PM ^

That play is a perfect example of Denard's speed even without him running in open space.  If you watch, his little waggle is so fast that it appears as though he is really changing direction.  The defenders react but are only human and cannot get back in line and Denard just runs past them.  The amazing thing about Denard is that it is so effortless that it somehow makes him look slower than he really is.  He's amazing.



September 15th, 2011 at 8:18 AM ^

I noticed this as well.  The most memorable for me was the first drive when he gained 7 yards.  From my endzone seats I swore he took about 3 or 4 steps and it should have resulted in 2-4 yards.  What is amazing is that those 3 or 4 steps were more likely 3 or 4 cuts and he netted an amazing 7 yards.  I will never foget this kid, he is a legend and only a junior!

Yostbound and Down

September 14th, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

Brian, I haven't really read anything except the cumulative analysis at the end of the UFRs before but I'd like to read the individual plays. Is there a UFR tutorial or explanation guide anywhere? 


September 14th, 2011 at 4:42 PM ^


Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Grady Inc
LBs very spread out because of the... uh... spread. One safety creeping up, another at about 12 yards. This is the same route Robinson just missed, and there's an ND safety flying up on it to tackle on the catch if it gets there. It doesn't, as it's batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 1/1.) Can't really blame Lewan here because he has to pass protect; he can't just cut because this is not necessarily a screen.

Ln - Yard line, where the play starts (Michigan's 23)

Dn, Ds - Down and Distance (1st and 10)

O Form - Offensive Formation (Shotgun, trips or 3 wide together on one side. Brian usually explains before the UFR meat if he's got something weird, like the Nickel F It where our whole D was on the line)

RB, TE, WR - gives personnel.

D Form - Defensive Formation (ND's in their Base 3-4)

At this point you know everything pre-snap. Michigan's formation on this play and where the ball is, etc.

Type - Playcall (pass)

Play - What the actual play was. In this case an Out route was thrown. The other receivers ran other routes, but this is the play that happened

Player - who was involved? In this case the play was an out to Grady

Yards - what happened? Incomplete pass here.


The text below goes into detail of what actually happened on the play. Who blocked well, who's fault the INT was (how catchable was the ball) etc. Brian rates players on a -3 to +3 scale, in the charts at the bottom you get your compilation and more analysis

Yostbound and Down

September 14th, 2011 at 11:46 PM ^

Thanks I understand the football terminology for the most part (though still a little unclear on which tech DTs can play in what system). I was wondering more about Brian's scoring, which it sounds like is just up to +/- 3 per player per play.

Mitch Cumstein

September 14th, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

I'm kind of in the working things out boat.  I'm optimistic that there is still a feeling out process of Denard's skill-set, surrounding offensive talent, and Borges skills and philosophies as a coordinator.  I'm hoping that the next three weeks give a chance to both work on some of the problem areas, identify the most promising schemes and allow for everyone (especially Denard) improve their own skill-set against real competition.  I'm optimistic that things come together for b10 play.