Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs Air Force Comment Count

Brian September 12th, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Formation notes: The Air Force defense is the opposite of their offense when it comes to formations. They run their 3-4 on virtually every play. They started off in some unusual (for them, anyway) formations, got burned for 79 yards on the second, and then decided to do this every play:


That may look like a four-man line but the line is directly over the C and tackles; the standup end is a linebacker, with AF's other linebacker flared out over the opposite hash.

For Michigan this is "double stacks," BTW.


I did not call this out specifically—it's just shotgun twins twin TE but note the inversion of the line TE—Kwiatkowski—and Funchess, who is in an H-back spot inside of him. Michigan used this mostly to get Funchess on wheel routes.

Substitution notes: A mishmash at WR with Gardner, Gallon, and Roundtree all seeing about the same number of snaps. Jackson and Jerald Robinson were next in line. Funchess, Kwiatkowski, and Williams split a good number of TE snaps.

Toussaint was the only tailback all game save for a few Smith snaps; the line was all starters.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun triple stack 1 0 4 Nickel under Run QB counter Robinson 1
Looks like read option in the backfield; Lewan pulls around into the hole. Omameh(-2) lets a DT go straight upfield into the Lewan pull; Lewan delays to prevent a TFL and Denard has to deal with that unblocked LB in the hole. RUN-: Omameh(2)
M21 2 9 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Okie Run QB lead draw Robinson 79
AF goes with a six man front and one MLB behind it with a cover two shell in the secondary. They send five, backing two out, those two are tasked with covering the receivers. They're looking at a bubble screen fake, and bug out. They're gone. Michigan blocks the four frontside guys, with Mealer(+1) and Barnum(+1) getting a scoop on the DT that gets Mealer(+1) to the second level, where he pancakes a safety. Gardner walls off a corner, and then Robinson(+3) is one on one with the last guy. You know how that ends. Ermagerd. RPS +3. This was easy, really.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Mealer(2), Barnum RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0. 8 min 1st Q. By the time M gets the ball back plays are 24-2 AF.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Run QB iso Robinson -1
This is either a run blitz or a really great read; one AF MLB shoots forward at the snap, getting past Mealer(-1) before he can come off a combo block. Maybe Molk makes this play, but it's not awful to not be able to do it. The DT Mealer and Omameh(-1) are trying to combo is shooting way left at the snap, so this is a blitz, I bet. Omameh totally loses the guy. Hopkins(-2) runs right by the blitzer, and this gets Denard buried in the backfield. RPS -1. RUN-: Omameh, Mealer, Hopkins(2)
M26 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass PA TE seam Funchess 21
Why, hello. LBs suck up on run fake, Funchess wide open, nailed, caught, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +2)
M47 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint 1
AF tips a blitz like whoah and Michigan does not check. They send a corner and LB, slanting the line away from that blitz. Barnum(-2) gets confused and lets a DT through untouched. This is not good. Toussaint dances through it for a yard or two. Omameh(-1) also did not pick up the blitz and let that LB through clean. Bubble? Open. RPS –1, gotta have a check. RUN-: Barnum(2), Omameh(1)
M48 2 9 Shotgun double stack 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass PA drag Gallon 8
Gallon comes in motion as the ball is snapped; M fakes the zone and flips it out to him in space. Same play that he got open on against Alabama but Denard overthrew it. This one is on the money. Gallon gets the edge on the slowish AF defense and nears the first down. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O44 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 7
AF running another blitz up the middle with stunting action. Michigan's pulling outside of a TE and Omameh(+1) plugs a blitzer, ending that backside threat. On the playside, Kwiatkowski(+1) seals the playside end, Toussaint(+0.5) kicks the OLB (easy), and Barnum(+0.5) pulls through to get an OK second-level block. Robinson is about to test those safeties again when a linebacker who was originally blitzing to the backside recovers for the ankle tackle. Nice recovery by that guy. RPS +1; blitz put AF in a bad spot.
RUN+: Omameh, Barnum(0.5), Hopkins(0.5), Kwiatkowski RUN-:
O37 1 10 Shotgun triple stack TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB counter Robinson 7
Run to the other side with Schofield pulling. AF blitzes right in the intended gap; Schofield(+1) slows up to wall the guy off… guy goes after Toussaint. If Schofield keeps going and bips a safety... oh well. Denard now has a big hole thanks to a big kickout from Lewan(+1) and Barnum walling off a LB who bit on Toussaint. S fills well, Denard tries to go around him and is chopped down by pursuit.
O30 2 3 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Iso Toussaint 5
Mansome block from Hopkins(+2) who takes a blitzing LB, stands him up, and thrusts him out of the hole. Mealer(+1) adjusted well to a moving LB and escorted him out of the way; Omameh(+1) put a potentially problematic DT on the ground. Safety fill is rapid since he was moving forward on the snap as AF went to an eight man front.
RUN+: Hopkins(2), Mealer, Omameh RUN-:
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint -1
This is just an old Rodriguez inside zone and that it doesn't work is kind of on three people. One: Denard. End isn't crashing but a keep is attractive here. Two: Mealer(-1), who can't get much of a block on a playside LB. Three: Toussaint(-2), who refuses to cut it up and ruins excellent blocks from Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) on the backside. Maybe the end shuts this down, but probably not for zero yards. Also... we could use some belly here. FWIW, yeah, Omameh and Schofield are in the backfield but this is essentially fine on zone blocking. That's where they went. Toussaint needs to cut.
RUN+: Lewan, Barnum RUN-: Mealer, Toussaint(2)
O26 2 11 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB iso Robinson -8
AF tips a safety blitz, no checks on either side. Michigan runs directly into it. Lewan is expecting to kick a DE who screams inside of him; nothing he can do. Denard runs around and goes down. RPS -3. This was dead. Moar checks. This was so tipped.
O34 3 19 Shotgun double stack 1 0 4 Dime Pass Rollout out Gallon Inc
I think. This is a rollout flood route on which AF blitzes and still has everybody blanketed. Denard eventually throws it at a double-covered Gallon, getting it batted near the LOS. Given the situation I don't really mind the attempt—it's a crappy punt in a world of crappy punts if it gets picked off. He had Roundtree if he wanted to throw across his body... does he? I don't know. He's there for a reason, I guess. I'm just going to punt and BA this. (BA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 13 min 2nd Q. Gallon costs M 25 yards by not catching a punt before the next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M12 1 10 Shotgun triple stack TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB iso Robinson 6
AF blitzes right up the intended gap; Toussaint(+1) takes that guy out of the play. Mealer(+0.5) does an okay job with the NT; Barnum(+0.5) gets a linebacker he released directly into. Robinson(+0.5) gets a half for moving past the blocks in an optimal way.
M18 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone stretch Toussaint 0
AF stunts, sending the playside DT right into Mealer. He goes low, submarining him and taking out Barnum. Not sure what Mealer can do about that. Omameh and Schofield now have to block guys inside of them that are at angles they are not expecting; they don't do this well. Even if they do, the peel-off leaves an unblocked guy waiting to fill. Williams(-1) did get owned on the edge and that didn't help. Rest of it seems RPS -2. Bubble open, BTW.
M18 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Jackson 8
Stacked to the boundary. Bubble yawningly open. Michigan does it the slightly harder way by sending Jackson on an option route at about six yards. He breaks open, but not by much, and Denard shoots it in there like he's a WCO QB. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Wheel Funchess 24
Play action fake to Smith sucks up the OLB, who dodges Funchess like he's blocking. He and Gallon break deep against one safety, who takes the inside. Funchess is open, Denard sees it and hits him. Big paws man. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Run Broken play Robinson 2
Denard(-1) bobbles the snap. I was going to call this an iso since the play worked out like that but after watching it a couple times, Smith is definitely expecting a mesh point and just improvises after he figures out it's not coming. This is a half-step from breaking big, in fact, but a blitz from the OLB gets Denard around the legs just as he's about to burst. Barnum(+1) and Omameh(+1) paved the way.
RUN+: Omameh, Barnum RUN-: Robinson
O43 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint 1
This one is on the right side of the line as AF slants to get it to the backside. Schofield(-2) is supposed to latch on to that slant and push him past where he's trying to go; instead he just whiffs and dude makes contact in the backfield. This is really all Schofield; Barnum is looking for someone to block in his zone and this is not a tough thing to do. All Schofield has to do is push the guy and Toussaint has a nice lane on the cutback he did find. RUN-: Schofield(2)
O42 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Hitch Gardner 12
AF brings the heat. Both Mealer (-1) and Omameh(-1) get blown by, with Omameh's being more relevant. Denard has a guy in his face, and where previously he may have backfooted something turrible this time he shoots one out to Gardner in rhythm. It's a little upfield, but that's fine. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Mealer -1, Omameh -1)
O30 1 10 Ace Big 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Pass PA TE corner Funchess 30
PA gets Funchess one on one with a safety and Denard all day. Funchess loses the S because he's thinking waggle, and Denard fires it. It's a little short, but the S is still running as Funchess finds the ball, so it's not really very off. Much better this than missing. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +3). FUNCHESSSSSSS
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-3, 7 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run QB iso Robinson 7
Looks like Toussaint(-1) blows an assignment and heads into the wrong gap. He ends up running into Omameh near the LOS; unblocked MLB. Robinson(+1) bounces it and gets the edge thanks to Schofield(+1) driving his guy a couple yards off the LOS. Interior blocking looked good, FWIW
RUN+: Robinson, Schofield RUN-: Toussaint
M45 2 3 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Toussaint 0
AF walks down a safety and blitzes him right into this. They tipped this too, but no checks never checks. RPS -2.
M45 3 3 Shotgun double stack 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Dumpoff Smith Int
Pass is a little high and hard for the 5'6" Smith, bouncing off his hands and getting intercepted. Denard had all the room in the world to run, but this was also wide open for a first down. (MA, 2, protection 1/1) On replay I don't even know if this is MA. Very catchable.
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-3, 5 min 2nd Q. Next drive starts with 1:16 in the half and two TOs.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 10
AF shows blitz and backs out of it. Funchess's guy is backing out at the snap. Funchess ends up chasing him a bit, then decides to release downfield. Denard(+1) pulls since there's no one containing him and shoots up in the gap for a first down. Funchess probably should have clocked a linebacker instead of going for the safety, but oh well. RPS +1.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Rollout hitch Roundtree 5
A crappy throw takes Roundtree off his feet, robbing him of YAC and keeping the clock running. Accurate and this is 8-10 and a stopped clock. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)
M34 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass In Gardner 5
Eight men in coverage; Denard can't find anything except a short one to Gardner at the sticks. Accurate, at least. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Deep hitch Gardner 19
Three man rush again; Denard surveys and finds Gardner open between levels in the zone, zips it for a first down. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1). They burn nine seconds before the next snap.
O42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Post Dileo Inc
AF sends seven; picked up. Denard stares down Dileo and does not see Gardner coming open beneath him. He forces it into three guys. No es bueno. (BR, 0, protection 3/3)
O42 2 10 N/A       N/A Penalty Illegal substitution -- -5
O47 2 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Post Jackson Inc
I'm not charting this given the situation. May as well force it. Do think Gallon was a better option, but whatever. (NC, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: EOH, 14-10.
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 Robinson 58
AF sends a blitzer off the corner. Toussaint(+1) deals with him. Omameh has to get around that issue and does. Robinson slows up for him. Now both are on the edge with a linebacker. Omameh(+1) blows him up. Robinson cuts inside that. Lewan(+2) has donkeyed a slanting DL all the way to Schofield(!), so there's a gap. Mealer(+1) sealed away another DT. Williams and Barnum are doubling a linebacker. Denard(+2) has a big cutback lane. Dileo(+1) cracks down on the other OLB and gets a bonus block on a DB who wasn't making the play anyway. Gardner's stalk-blocking the corner to that side; Denard(+1) jukes that guy inside out and seeya. No shoes necessary.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-10, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run QB sweep Robinson 1
M pulls Omameh and Schofield around two tight ends to the boundary. AF is stunting things; Williams(+1) does a good job to shove the playside DE past everything. Another DL has stunted himself out of the play, and Lewan(+1) gets the third despite the stunting. Michigan crushes the second level, and the only thing that can prevent Robinson from getting five or six yards is Robinson(-2) not cutting upfield and instead jogging out of bounds.
RUN+: Lewan, Williams RUN-: Robinson(2)
M36 2 9 Shotgun triple stack TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson 10
AF tips that blitz again, and this time it seems like we do get a check. Robinson fakes a WR screen to Gallon and takes off. Just like his opening run, the two linebackers haul for WRs on the outside, so if Denard can get past the line he will get yards. Pump fake gets one for free; Lewan(+1) stuffs the other blitzer and there's an avenue outside. No gap in the middle, unfortunately, or this could have been a massive gain. As it is it's an easy first down. Denard(+1) for speed and things. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson, Lewan RUN-:
M46 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 5
Barnum(+1) pulls and gets there. He takes on a run-blitzing LB at the LOS and wins. Toussaint(+1) kicks the OLB. No chance on the safety because Barnum got used at the LOS but he's got to be cautious and it's a decent gain.
RUN+: Toussaint, Barnum, Williams RUN-:
O49 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Slant J. Robinson 10
That's not Milliner. The Other Robinson gets inside position and uses his body to wall off the DB; Denard nails him. Body-caught, but results-based charting. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O39 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Wheel Funchess 26
TEs both in two point stances. Michigan runs a Toussaint fake and then goes pass, with Funchess running a wheel down the sideline. Man coverage, AF linebacker tries a chuck or something, and that's over. Denard floats a perfect touch pass over the LB. Funchess bobbles it but does bring it in. Great throw maximized YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 6
This time the other way. Kwiatkowski(+1) seals the DE; Lewan(+1) shoves a slanting DT and then gets a second level block. LB spins off it but is significantly delayed. Robinson(-0.5) gets spooked by that fellow and runs a little outside where he should, giving up some yards when a guy Dileo cut decently can make a tackle from his knees.
O7 2 4 Ace Big 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Pass Waggle out Gardner 7
Play action fools the entire AF secondary; easy pitch and catch for Denard and Gardner. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-17, 6 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M1 1 10 I-form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Toussaint 1
Ugh, just throw the damn ball to Gallon and see if this AF corner's eight-yard cushion is something he can make up. That's a guaranteed five yards. Instead, M runs a power. Williams(-1) loses a DE to the inside. Omameh(-1) does not get there, and that's all she wrote. RPS -1.
M2 2 9 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass Hitch Gardner Inc
Extremely token run fake and max pro. Robinson fires a hitch, accurate but maybe a tiny bit late. Gardner gets his hands on it but ends up dropping it as the CB rakes it out. Could be route here, as separation was not gained. (CA, 1, protection 1/1)
M2 3 9 Shotgun double stack 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Jackson Inc
Zone blitz gets two ILBs in Robinson's face, so he flings a dart to Jeremy Jackson that he bobbles and then the OLB backing out knocks down. Dileo had separation and could have turned up for the first; Jackson is just slow. In any case, this was probably a yard or two short of the first down unless Jackson did some mansome OLB dragging after the catch. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, team)
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-17, EO3Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 6
Omameh's back to pulling really badly, as he ends up two yards in the backfield at one point and Robinson has to slow up for him. He does plug the linebacker that shows, I guess. Tentative +1. Lewan(+1) and Williams(+1) club the playside DE with Williams coming out on a LB. Barnum(+0.5) gets the easy NT block; Toussaint(+0.5) kicks the DE, and Denard only has a safety to deal with.
M40 2 4 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass PA seam Dileo Inc
Robinson gets instant pressure from the edge as a blitz comes and has to dump it immediately. Dileo is covered by one of those linebackers coming out from the center of the field and Denard chucks it high of everyone anyway. I'm filing this PR. I don't mind this from Denard. (PR, 0, protection 0/1, team, RPS -1).
M40 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Out Jackson 9
Three-step rhythm throw (except this is a shotgun). This is west-coasty. It's Purdue-y. It's a short out to Jackson for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1). Jackson gets some bullish YAC, too.
M49 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA post Roundtree Inc
Toussaint gets a great cut block on a blitzing OLB that gives Denard time. He pumps, indecisive, and then he's got to go. He runs up in the pocket and as he's getting tackled by that OLB unloads 50 yards downfield to Roundtree, who is open by a step; pass is way long. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M49 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson 7
AF sends a double A gap blitz, backing off an OLB. Barnum(+1) catches one LB and escorts him out of the hole. Toussaint(+1) kicks the other one. Crease. Williams(+1) gets a good downfield block on that OLB who backed out. Robinson is one on one with a safety and ends up trying to cut behind Williams; Safety chops him down by the ankles.
O44 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 11
DE slanting inside on the playside makes Omameh move around him, which slows him. Denard slows, too. By the time he's finished doing that, Williams(+1) has shoved that DE all the way past the back of the line, Schofield(+1) has blown the playside DE past Barnum's guy, and a big cutback lane opens that Robinson(+2) takes. Dileo(+1) cuts off a linebacker and bang secondary.
O33 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Waggle corner Gardner 20
Toussaint again gets a nice cut block on the OLB coming hard on the edge. Denard is now in plenty of space and can leisurely pick out Gardner breaking open 20 yards downfield. Hit in the numbers, easy catch, big gain. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O13 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Iso Toussaint -1
S nominally covering the slot comes on a Kovacs blitz and nails Toussaint for no gain. RPS -2. No blocking matters here.
O14 2 11 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Delayed slant Gardner Inc
Gardner hitches up at five yards and then extends his route when a LB comes up to cover, and Denard goes for him. He's about to have a completion nearing the sticks when an DL who's not even bothering to rush gets a hand up at the LOS and bats it down. Foiled again! RPS +1, great little route. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
O14 3 11 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Pass Dumpoff Toussaint Inc
Air Force sends six. Picked up but Robinson is spooked and dumps it to Toussaint, low and tough. Not caught, not getting the first down even if caught. RUN THE BALL DENARRRRD. Taking off here has possibilities, man. (IN, 1, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: FG(31), 31-25, 8 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB power Robinson 2
Playside LB splits Toussaint and Barnum, getting upfield of Barnum and forcing Denard inside away from blocking. This gives AF a free hitter, who tackles Robinson in the hole. Think Toussaint(-1) has to go at this guy and cut him so Barnum can come around. Stunt made the blocking down very easy FWIW.
M45 2 8 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run QB sweep Robinson 2
Williams(-1) gets shoved back and loses his guy, which picks off Brink and gives Brink's guy an avenue to flow. Toussaint(-1) never actually gets a hat on the contain guy, and these folks combine on Robinson for a short gain.
RUN+: Schofield RUN-: Toussaint, Williams
M47 3 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA rollout hitch Gardner Inc
Wide open as the smash route takes the corner to that side deep. Robinson finds it and leaves it short, but catchable. Gardner cant' bring it in. (MA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-25, 2 min 4th Q. Michigan's final snaps are kneels.

I like this not playing Alabama thing.

Yeah, it's pretty cool.

My favorite bits are Denard running until your brain melts.

Me too!

My second favorite bits are when Denard throws the receivers are not coated in a blood-red harbinger of doom.

I feel you.

I'm even feeling pretty good about this chart you're going to hit me with.

Do… you want to? You know, do it? The thing where I say—


—chart and you interrupt me to say—


--chart. The love is back!

[Hennechart legend is updated.]

2011 through MSU 13 66(12) 11(1) 34(1) 17 2 3 10 4 55%
2011 after MSU 9 77(9) 7 17 9 6(1) 5(2) 9 5 69%
Alabama 4 15(2) 1 4 3 - - 3(1) 1 71%
Air Force 1 14 3 2 1 - 2 1 - 75%

Boom. Denard's misses:

  • Dumpoff to Smith that's a little high and hard marked MA. This was the INT.
  • Two iffy throws on sideline stop routes, one of which takes Roundtree off his feet inbounds on Michigan's hurry-up drive at the end of the first half, one of which forces Gardner to try and dig out a low throw on Michigan's final real snap. Both MAs.
  • Fifty-yard bomb to Roundtree thrown while on the move and getting tackled. IN, but not a big deal.
  • Dumpoff to Toussaint as he's getting pressure on third and eleven. IN.

There was also a crappy read right at the end of the first half. That's it. Denard Robinson killed Tacopants tag: deployed.

I mean, I'm just like you guys. Wheels on the money, corner routes on the money, even one of those dinky Purdue routes in traffic squeezed in there. He stood in against pressure and shot darts out to his WRs. QBs make mistakes. There are those little frustrating moments when the guy won't just RUNNNNNNN and you're going HNNNNNNGGGG because look at all that space on third and three. But if you're trying to tell me this is not a significant leap forward, you crazy.

This is pretty.


I am so Funchized right now you guys.

you're what

I am Funchized to the max.

that's not even a thing

Oh, man, this is great stuff.

Fine, fine, I am so Funchized.

That's not even a thing.

I clipped all four of his catches not because I set out to do so but just because it happened. Each was a big gain, each was virtually unstoppable for safety or linebacker, and all but one made you think that Funchess was going to have awesome hands as he plucked the ball out of the air with the twelve-inch skillets attached to his wrists. Was the seam a little behind him? Maybe if it's Dileo the throw forces a spin and a tough catch. Funchess just reaches out for it. Was the touchdown a little short?

Maybe if we're talking about Martavious Odoms or Jeremy Gallon going for that. In Funchess's case, feed the man up high.

Aigh Toussaint?

Let's do another variety of chart first.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 8 - 8 Blew some guys off the ball; locked out edge guys.
Barnum 6.5 2 4.5 Solid.
Mealer 4.5 2 2.5 Seems like a decent player.
Omameh 5 5 0 Pulling getting bad again; got blown by a couple times.
Schofield 3 2 1 Not tested that much.
Kwiatkowski 2 - 2 Did okay.
Moore - - - DNP
Williams 5 3 2 Very blocky.
Funchess - - - Blocking is for saps.
TOTAL 34 14 71% What they needed to do against Air Force.
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 11.5 3.5 8 XOXOXO
Bellomy - - -  
Toussaint 5 5 0 Pretty good day blocking on rollouts FWIW.
Rawls - - - DNP
Smith - - - DNR
Hayes - - - DNP
Hopkins 2 2 2 Denard running meant not much Hopkins.
Kerridge - - - DNP
TOTAL 18.5 10.5 8 fast
Player + - T Notes
Gardner - - -  
Roundtree - - -  
Gallon - - -  
Jackson - - -  
Dileo 1 - 1 --
J. Robinson - - -  
Darboh - - - --
TOTAL 1 - 1 Eh.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 33 5 87% Team –3, Mealer –1, Omameh –1.
RPS 17 13 +4 A lot of RPSes.

Those line numbers have extremely low amplitude because Michigan only got off 28 rushes—Air Force had 71!—and the high RPS numbers mean that I attributed a lot of stuff to play design/response instead of blocking. Like, on the 79-yarder there was only one second level player who needed thumping. That means fewer treats to pass out to the OL and more for Borges. Similarly, getting whacked in the backfield by an unblocked blitzer is not on the OL.

When the line did get called upon, they did well. Mostly.

Okay. Now: Aigh Toussaint?

I'm not sure it was much about Toussaint. He missed one cut pretty badly. Other than that, I'm not sure what he was supposed to do:

Air Force tipped blitzes a lot and Michigan didn't check out of their play but once or twice (and I didn't actually clip the check). Not sure if that's on Denard or Borges, but a lot of the time when Toussaint was getting the ball he was dodging unblocked guys in the backfield. Lewan said this was "embarrassing" OL performance; I do think they had some problems but I think it was mostly Toussaint getting the wrong chamber in Air Force blitz/slant roulette.

Michigan's success in the air was the flipside of that business. Michigan's final TD was easy easy because even Air Force's corners freak out about run.

But the right side of the offensive line is a problem?

I'm not sure Schofield had enough relevant reps in this game to make any sort of declaration. Omameh was pretty bad, though. I was probably too kind when gave him a +1 on some of his pulls. He's back to that arcing thing where he ends up running eight yards when he can run five. And too often yesterday did he let slanting guys right by. Here's the first play:

Have to get a shove on that guy even if he hops past you. Schofield had a similar error on a zone where Air Force slanted hard playside and the only thing preventing Toussaint's good-idea backside cut from working was the whiff. I don't see stuff like that from Lewan.

Robinson only had 4.5 YPC if you take out the big touchdowns, though.

Thanks, Danny Kanell. The way Air Force was playing left them exposed to monster plays. The 79-yarder saw a blitz and both LBs bugging out into a potential bubble screen:

the youtube url for this play has "Wee" in it

There is no one on the second level, period. Air Force did a lot of stunting and slanting  blitzing in order to make up for their size deficiencies, and when it worked it got Michigan in second and long. The long runs were a cost they were hoping not to pay. You can't just take them out and expect to say anything meaningful.


Yo I got your magic midget right here.

He'll get some carries Saturday.

Did you forget something?

Right, receivers:

[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Gardner 1 0/1 0/1 5/5   5 0/3 1/2 5/5
Roundtree 1   1/1     2 0/1 1/1 2/2
Gallon 1     1/1   2 0/1 2/3 2/2
J. Robinson       1/1   1     1/1
Dileo 1         1 1/1    
Jackson 1     2/3         3/4
Kwiatkowski                 1/1
Funchess       4/4         4/4
Toussaint     0/1         0/1  
Smith     0/1         0/1 2/2

Notice the large drop in 0s. Obviously. The only routine drop was a Jackson out when Michigan was backed up on the goal line. Wouldn't have gotten the first down but would at least have gotten Michigan away from the goal line and give Hagerup an opportunity to boom one. Smith's 0/1 was of course painful.


Denard! Also Funchess.


Omameh had a rough day on the OL.

What does it mean for UMass and the future?

UMass will be a walkover.

As for the future, if Denard puts up the same sort of accuracy against UMass that ND game will be monstrous for the fan excitement level. Put up a bunch of completions against the Irish and keep that streak going and it's that MSU game for the Roses. Revert and we're all feeling pretty crappy about ourselves.

Toussaint gets an INC; the right side of the line is the biggest worry now, along with the tight ends holding up against bigger teams.

But, hey, Funchess and a rapidly developing Gardner combine with Denard's running to pose a tricky question for upcoming defenses. The passing just has to be for real.



September 12th, 2012 at 4:35 PM ^

Do we think the OL gels as the season progresses?  Or is any aggresive slanting, blitzing going to cause a bunch of confusion throughout the season.  Cause this is kind of MSU's MO, what with all the SPARTY SMASH blitzes.  Also, are we ever going to start checking out of plays?  I would really like to know the reasoning we can't just check into a bubble screen or a Denard iso away from an overload blitz.  This UFR was also much less doom and gloomy as I kind of expected.  Especially considering our offense was terrible if we take out all of Denard (thanks ESPN!)


September 12th, 2012 at 4:38 PM ^

Borges, Y U no like bubble/laser screens last year?  Two weeks in a row these plays have had not-so-insignificant impacts on the games.  Two quick completions to Roundtree move the chains in the second half against Alabama and last week we saw fakes that opened up at least one very long run.  Why none last year??

M Wolve

September 12th, 2012 at 4:42 PM ^

Anyone know if that was a called fake bubble or he just pulled it down because he saw the LBs racing that way?  It doesn't look like there's an option to give the ball to Fitz there, although it would have been nice since Fitz would have ran through the same hole than Denard scored on.

Blue in Seattle

September 12th, 2012 at 5:30 PM ^

Borges and Lewan stated that Fitz could have carried the ball on that play, so I'm not sure why all the confusion.  Maybe it's me, but is a QB ISO a play where you have an option to handoff to Fitz?  Borges did state that Denard saw the bubble screen covered and pulled it down to follow Fitz, and then added, "Fitz could have gotten a TD on that, Denard would tell you that"

So, I'm looking skeptical at this offensive UFR.  I mean OK, maybe the blitzing is what stopped the run and there should be checks, but then why wasn't that stated in the interviews?

Mattison came out and said, "I screwed up", so I dont' think Borges is trying to cover his own ass here.  I realize this is a little about you can't get into the head of the coach, but at least when he ways a play is an option to the RB, and Denard pulled it to throw the Bubble screen then gave up and Denarded it, shouldn't that kind of direct the UFR?

Really wanting to understand, not being critical to complain.


September 12th, 2012 at 4:49 PM ^

My only problem with Denards performance would be the throw to gardner.  I know it was a catchable ball but he is a tall guy still learning to play reciever, if you are going to miss to a 6'4 freak athlete miss a little high, not low.


September 12th, 2012 at 5:23 PM ^

Eh, that's not an excuse there. Denard had a great day, but he missed that throw. Gardner is a huge target, who wasn't hardly covered. He could have lofted it out to him, instead he fired it at his toes.

Like I said, he had a great day so I'm not upset about it, and QBs blow easy throws sometimes, but that was one of the easier throws of the day for him, and he missed it.


September 12th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

I'm not going to argue that Denard missed the throw, but I don't think we should kill him for missing that throw low. If he misses high on that route against a good team, he either get Gardenr lit up (like I think happened to Roundtree against UConn in 2010) or it's a pick six. So getting in the habit of either hitting it or missing low isn't terrible I think. 


September 12th, 2012 at 7:20 PM ^

Yeah, I agree with your first sentence completely.  He missed a throw, that happens, and he didn't miss many throws that game so it's all good.  

I agree with you that it's probably better to miss low than way high on that play, but there was a pretty big window that wouldn't have been high or low.  Even if he hangs Gardner out a bit, he's a much bigger receiver than Roundtree, and probably wouldn't have been lit up too much, unless he really needed to leap for it.  At 210 or so, he can take a hit.

Blue in Seattle

September 12th, 2012 at 5:35 PM ^

is that Denard does make mistakes, but now seems to make them like an experienced QB, on par with other "throw first" QBs.  I do  think Denard is trying to prove too much that he can throw by not taking off when he can easily get the first down, but then again he's a sophomore in this Offensive Scheme, so I expect an improvement.

In fact the interceptions are trending to the positive.  Next game his trend either indicates 0.5-0 interceptions depending on how you fit the curve.  And really didn't make any "oh no" throws completely to the other team.



September 12th, 2012 at 5:43 PM ^

That play is on Gardner moreso than Denard IMO.  Yes, Gardner is inexperienced, but that's not going to change.  He's more raw than your typical true freshman, who played WR in HS at least.

I think saying Gardner is "rapidly developing" is being generous at this point.


September 12th, 2012 at 10:54 PM ^

I guess it's an eye of the beholder thing because to me he looked very sloppy route running in both.  He didn't have to deal with any difficult ball adjustments against AF but that's situational, not a sign of any improvement on his part.  That TD pass was one anyone of us could have caught - the AF defender left him entirely alone.

He's athleticism is certainly very impressive.  I just wouldn't trust him to catch a tough 3rd down until he shows he's more than just an athlete who happens to be lining up at the wide receiver position.


September 12th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

i thought was his nicest throw of the day, perfect touch, good spiral, good placement. i think that roundtree got tangled up early on the route and could not get to the spot.

as excited as i brian is about funchess, i am excited about the solid, reliable, consistency of jeremy jackson. if he were "grittier" he would be ed mccaffrey.


September 12th, 2012 at 5:29 PM ^

On purpose?  

Is this a joke by our fearless leader, or does it simply mean "Did Not Run" as a means to differentiate from not playing at all, like Rawls?  I don't know, but if it is meant to be "Do Not Resuscitate", I find that rather humorous.  



September 12th, 2012 at 5:34 PM ^

Or typical Fred Jackson/ happens every camp hype that doesn't materialize? While he looked lost against Bama I discounted that, because half the team looked lost. But no plays against Air Force? Probably too early to tell, but you would think he would have played last week.


September 12th, 2012 at 5:38 PM ^

I think that Borges and Hoke have said repeatedly that they want one RB to be the feature back.  That doesn't mean that others will not play, but they are pretty intent on establishing a go to back.  In this last game, Fitz only had 8 carries, and never really got going.  If you start splitting up his carries and giving him even fewer, it is even less likely that he gets into a groove. Most RBs get better as a game progresses as they get more carries.

To me, that's all that was happening here.  I wouldn't read into it anything other than that Borges is trying to establish the Fitz running game and get Fitz - who missed the bama game - as many live reps as possible so that once we play ND, he is in the zone.

R Kelly

September 12th, 2012 at 6:03 PM ^

Fortunately it didn't end up mattering, but can someone tell me what the heck Gardner was doing on the touchdown to Funchess?  He looks like he ran a go route for about 20 yards and then just sort of lets himself get pushed out of bounds.  I actually think, had he run his route hard, that he would've gotten in the way of Funchess, which is why I was wondering:  Weird play design or lazy/wrong route by Gardner?


Edit:  The clip shown in the UFR is not a good view, but the everysnap video has a replay that shows Gardner more clearly.


September 12th, 2012 at 6:04 PM ^

According to Schofield's dad, Michael graded out the highest of his career last week against Air Force by the coaching staff.

Just something to think about and to also keep this activity in perspective. 


September 12th, 2012 at 8:26 PM ^

In the first photo, the umpire's jersey blends in with the Air Force uniforms.  I'm thinking, they have 12 player on the field!  No wonder they bottled up Fitz.


September 12th, 2012 at 10:05 PM ^

I'm confused here:

"Williams(-1) gets shoved back and loses his guy, which picks off Brink and gives Brink's guy an avenue to flow. Toussaint(-1) never actually gets a hat on the contain guy, and these folks combine on Robinson for a short gain."

Brink is in an offensive play? Air force has a guy named Brink? Or Schofield or someone is confused for Brink? Help me out here.


September 12th, 2012 at 10:40 PM ^

That throw to Funchess in the video was pretty, but it was - once again - off his back foot. Granted, there was pressure, but back footed throws make me as nervous as Joey Chestnut in prison.


September 13th, 2012 at 10:01 AM ^

RPS is rock-paper-scissors, it's Brian's way of grading the coordinator/play call compared to what the opponent playcall is.

If the D dials up a huge blitz and the offense runs a screen that perfectly counters it, that's an RPS win for the offense. Think Tecmo Bowl, how the D had to "guess" the offensive play and that determined how the D did.