Practice Notes 8-20 Comment Count

Tim August 20th, 2009 at 4:13 PM

Notes from today's press conference:

  • Though there have been more explosive plays from the offense in camp this year, Rodriguez said it's not necessarily because the defense has been subpar. The offensive players in camp this year have better skill sets as a group than last year's, and the execution has improved with another year in the system. It's hard to tell if big offense plays mean offense == good or defense == bad, but when they go back and look at film, they can decide whether the defensive player was playing his assignment and was beaten by a good offensive play, or if there was a blown assignment.
  • In case you were doubting that Rodriguez is pretty hands-off with the defense (last year's Purdue game notwithstanding), he said he's not quite sure exactly what the defense is doing. They're teaching well, and on track to where they should be. He won't concern himself too much with the defensive side of the ball until it's time to start drawing up gameplans.
  • The first group on the defense is pretty good, but they are just a couple injuries away from having a scary lack of depth.

And from the practice session:

  • Last year Brian said something along the lines of "this team can only execute one new thing per game, and when the offense is fully installed, it could be pretty dangerous." This was obvious itself (what with West Virginia being 5th and 15th in total offense nationally in his last two years there, and dropping to 59th with the same talent in the first year he was gone), but there was so much evidence of this going on today. There were tons of looks that weren't even hinted at last year: Tight end lined up as an H-Back, jet motion from slots, misdirection and slots being involved in the option game as pitchmen, even a little bit of pistol. Once the offense has the full playbook at its disposal, you'll see one of the more creative offenses out there (thankfully, as this was something I didn't think was necessarily coming).
  • Martavious Odoms was out (red jersey) with headaches, Mathews wore a green jersey for the first half of practice, it looked like Moundros(?) was also in a green jersey, and Barnum is still out with the same ankle injury.
  • Same old story with how players look: Denard is getting good velocity on the ball, though he has a bit of accuracy work to do, Kelvin Grady looks pretty good catching the ball and moving with it after the catch, Terrence Robinson dropped a couple of passes.

And your photo gallery:



August 20th, 2009 at 5:08 PM ^

As much as I respect other's opinions, I am not sore how you can say that. In most games, the defense did a great job for the half - then fell apart from complete exhaustion by the end of the game.

Points in case -

We held OSU and Penn State to 14 points each (the most high powered offenses in the B10) for the first half.

or How about when we intercepted Tyrell Pryor and ran the ball to the 5 yard line. 1 and goal - and nothing. 4 downs and the offense went negative yards.

I think offense was the biggest problem.


August 20th, 2009 at 5:47 PM ^

Statistics do not agree.

OSU Game: TOP 1st half U/M 14 minutes (so, osu would be 16 minutes). Hardly an indication the defense is exhausted. But the D fell apart in the 2nd half before the O could blink and it was over.

PSU Game: TOP 1st half U/M 17 minutes (so PS would be 13 minutes). If anything PS D should have been exhausted.

12 Game totals: M = 20 PPG (not horrible) Opponents = 29 PPG (crap!!)

2007: M = 27 PPG, Opponents = 21 PPG
2006: M = 29 PPG, Opponents = 16 PPG


August 20th, 2009 at 6:05 PM ^

If both sides do all 3 and outs, you will see roughly the same TOP. Obviously, that would indicate that our defense did their job and the offense did not.

If the offense had moved the ball in any consistent manner last year, then they would have scored more PPG. Also, the defense would have been on the field 30 minutes a game instead of 40, the opponents would have fewer attempts at scoring against a worn out defense, and their PPG would be lower.


August 20th, 2009 at 6:09 PM ^

the defense had 1/3 of its possessions as 3 and outs.

I'm forgetting when the defense committed six turnovers against Notre Dame.

I've forgotten when Threet and Sheridan played defense last year, and where the offensive line couldn't block the light, let alone a d-lineman.

Did the defense go 14 for 49 passing the last two games?

To claim that the defense caused 75% of the problems last year is a clear indication you didn't watch 75% of last year's games, at least. Yes the defense was bad.

But you lose credibility to claim that 20 ppg was not horrible when to state that is to clearly ignore the fact that 20 ppg ranked 100th in the FBS. That's in the bottom 16% of all FBS teams and below behemoths like Indiana, South Carolina, Toledo and the LOLphers.


August 21st, 2009 at 8:34 AM ^

"Using scoring".

Okay, so I have the ball on offense, they move it slowly down the field, chewing up 70 yards and 7 or 8 game minutes, but fail to score.

Yes, that's exactly the same to the defense as if your offense had gone out, gone three and out, and used up 45 seconds of game time.



August 21st, 2009 at 8:49 AM ^

Correlations are a statistical approach to measure how variables are related in a large sample size. You can't say that there is not a correlation, then hand pick a few examples. You may be correct, but the evidence you provide does nothing to help your assertion.


August 20th, 2009 at 9:14 PM ^

I'd like to hear your argument on how the defense giving up less points is worse than the offense's inability to score more. The D's job is to prevent points, the O's job is to score points. As long as your D is giving up less than your O scores, you're going to win (on average.)


August 20th, 2009 at 11:22 PM ^

The offense worked against the defense last year. When an offense puts the defense in bad situations, and leaves them on the field a long time, of course they will stink. Watch what rest and a potent offense will does for the defense this season. Each part of the team helps the other part. I do not see why people can not see that.

Even how good special teams play puts the offense in scoring position. When a team wants to "chew clock", the offense runs the ball to eat up time. It can keep the defense off the field. If the offense score too quickly or fumbles, or throws interceptions then defense is back on the field. Football is a simple game, it is just is complicated trying to getting talent, schemes, and playing against an opponent's weaknesses while playing to your own strengths Michigan will closer to being itself soon.


August 20th, 2009 at 8:47 PM ^

"Points in case -

We held OSU and Penn State to 14 points each (the most high powered offenses in the B10) for the first half.

or How about when we intercepted Tyrell Pryor and ran the ball to the 5 yard line. 1 and goal - and nothing. 4 downs and the offense went negative yards.

I think offense was the biggest problem."

Think back to the Wisconsin 1st half also where the defense bailed out the offense 3 or 4 times.There would not have been a comeback without the D.

3 and outs and turnover differential doomed the team more than anything.

This year will be a different story.


August 20th, 2009 at 4:49 PM ^

Woo, I'm glad to hear that we're even installing some of the pistol formation. The more I learn about the Pistol, the more I think it could be very interesting. With a good running game, RBs or TEs that can block very well, and an accurate QB that can get the ball out very fast, I think the pistol can be a very powerful offense. Since I believe that we have all of those elements, I think that that could be a very interesting formation to see every now and again.

Of course, it'll be completely useless if they only practice the formation once or twice so hopefully if they're going to actually try and use that in games they give it the necessary amount of practice to make sure that it works (you can't just really on the defense and the DC going "what?).


August 20th, 2009 at 5:32 PM ^

so the staff is probably using this to prepare for the Hoosiers.

I kid! It'll be interesting to see how Notre Dame deals with Nevada's Pistol offense in game 1 - perhaps the staff will see some opportunities if the Irish struggle against it.


August 20th, 2009 at 5:51 PM ^

I was very excited when I read that ND would be playing Nevada in the first week because I really want to see what the Pistol can do against a big name team (even if they've sucked the past few years) like ND. I'm definitely going to be watching that game, I think it could be quite a trap if the players start to get too focused on taking their pound of flesh from Michigan the next week.

You joke about Indiana but I'm actually going to try and watch more of their games specifically because they're going to be running the pistol. I don't think they're going to be any good, but watching the formations and how it all works should still be fun.


August 20th, 2009 at 5:18 PM ^

With all the talk about Denard Robinson being crazy fast and agile, what are the odds that he gets significant playing time this fall? It sure seems like everyone has hung their hat on Tate being the how would team unity be affected if the team can't rally around a steady QB?

Then again...with Gardner coming in next year, does it really matter?

J. Lichty

August 20th, 2009 at 5:26 PM ^

With all the talk about Denard Robinson being crazy fast and agile, what are the odds that he gets significant playing time this fall?

not sure what you consider significant but 100% he gets meaningful snaps at some point this year. Whether is a special package, or a partciclarly favorable matchupIt sure seems like everyone has hung their hat on Tate being the how would team unity be affected if the team can't rally around a steady QB?

I am not sure what you are arguing here, but Tate being a starter and Robinson playing are not mutually exclusive. This is not a revolt situation like OSU had last year where the older guys were Boekman guys and the younger guys were fine with Pryor. The team will rally behind either of the freshman as they did for Sheridan and Threet last year. The players want to win too badly after last year to play favorites bewtween these two. Although it sounds like the players generally are excited to have Tate as the qb, they also are quick to acknowledge Robinson's talents. Hopefully that will be a good problem to have - deciding which one to play.

Then again...with Gardner coming in next year, does it really matter?

Yes. Let us pray that we are not having another freshman qb next year, despite Gardner's talents.


August 21st, 2009 at 8:20 AM ^

Well put.

I'm pretty well convinced that Tate is going to be our "#1" this year just on the basis that he's ready to handle a little more of the offense, and he's so polished that I think the college game isn't going to feel substantially different than HS for him. Faster moving, and harder hitting, sure, but fundamentally, I think he's going to be set.

Conversely, we know that Denard comes from an area with substantially less resources. I'd be a little worried about throwing him in to the most important position in the Big 10 TOO fast.

I figure Tate starts, and as soon as we are in a big win, a big loss, or Tate gives him reason to, Rodriguez will mix them up a little bit. Sooner or later, he'll even give Sheridan some time so he can prove that last year was a fluke.

I don't think we will have a starter really separate himself till pretty late in the season, just because Tate and Denard's skill sets are so different that they're hard to compare.

When Tate plays 50% of the game and completes 20 of 23 passes for 187 yards, tosses two TD's, and runs 5 more times for 40 yards and a score, while Denard plays 50%, completes 6 of 12 for 95 yards, and rushes 10 times for another 90 yards, who was the better QB?

Like was said, it's a good problem to have.


August 20th, 2009 at 5:42 PM ^

Thanks for the pics. I always like to see the new players, it makes the season seem closer and thats always good.



August 20th, 2009 at 5:52 PM ^

pistol is similar to the shotgun in that the qb isn't directly under center, but he's also not 5 (or however many) yards back. He's closer to the center.

jet motion; WR sprints to the other side of the field, during motion, the ball is snapped


August 20th, 2009 at 6:14 PM ^

I can give a real brief overview of the pistol but I can't help you with the "jet motion".

The pistol is a formation that is similar to the shotgun except the QB is closer to the line of scrimmage than in the 'gun. In the shotgun, the QB will be about 5 yards off from the LOS, in the pistol the QB will be about 3 yards off from the LOS.

As far as I know, to be truly considered the pistol formation, a halfback must be standing directly behind the QB. Anything else is just a different take on the same formation.

The HB being behind the QB allows the QB to hand the ball off to the HB to the left OR the right. Obviously the HB can also just go into pass protection too. It's hard for the defense to read what the HB will do because their view is obstructed by the QB.

The QB staying about 3 yards back from the LOS approximates a pro-style offense where the QB takes a 3 step drop before throwing the ball. This means that the QB is already in that position so he can get the ball out quicker. One problem is that QBs often have a hard time adjusting to the different snap since they're used to taking the snap either 5 yards back or from under center. The QB also has less time to "see the ball" into his hands so the formation does end up causing more fumbles (at least until the QB and C get things straight between them).

I'd love to talk more about this as I think it's a great formation (although personally I would consider a formation where the HB is in motion parallel to the LOS before the snap since then he can take a hand off and have a lot of momentum but still be very close to the LOS or he can go into pass protection). I see that this is already an absurdly long comment though so I'll stop.

Anyone else want to chime in on the pistol or the "jet motion"?

Edit: Looks like people are chiming in.
For a great breakdown by the guy that runs Smart Football check out this.


August 20th, 2009 at 6:06 PM ^

Jet motion is when a receiver motions across in front of the QB in the shotgun, from whence he can take a handoff (jet sweep), or the sweep can just act as lay action. It's one of the foundations of the Wildcat.


August 20th, 2009 at 11:37 PM ^

This was very informative. Jeremy Gallon and other SRs are going to feast when the offense is fully installed. Imagine Fitz Toussaint, Eduardo Clements, and other speedsters on the field running this offensive set. Woooo!