Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Northwestern

Submitted by Brian on October 13th, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Formation notes: Michigan didn't show anything new except what I called Denard Jet for obvious reasons.

denard-jet

That's an ace set with an offset back and two other wideouts.

Northwestern mostly hung out in their default 4-3. At the beginning of the second half they walked a safety down…

nw-4-4-even_thumb[1]

…to show an eight-man front, then crashed the end while using the safety as the contain guy. The result was the 0 and –1 yard runs that started the half. Then they rushed three on third and long. Woo!

Substitution notes: Schofield went the whole way for Barnum. When Lewan went out for a play they flipped Huyge to LT and put Mealer in at RT. I assume a longer term Lewan absence would see Schofield move back outside and Khoury or Mealer enter.

Watson again was the #2 TE; Gallon, Hemingway, and Roundtree got the bulk of the WR snaps, with Dileo the fourth guy. Michigan is tipping run when they bring Odoms in, BTW. Toussaint and Smith were the RBs with Hopkins playing FB; Shaw got some playing time in the second half.

Denard went out with another boo-boo to his non-throwing hand, causing a few goal line plays on which Gardner handed off or rolled out. Gardner was in on the Denard Jet plays, obviously, and also had a rollout pass to Jackson on which he was seemingly inserted without any problems with Robinson.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run QB power Robinson 2
Corner on the edge tight and a safety over the strength of the formation about seven yards deep. Linebackers are flowing down at this hard; Koger(-0.5) blocks down on the playside LB, who gets some penetration. Schofield(-1) should still be able to come around it upfield but does not, instead getting caught up in the wash and failing to get out on the edge. Free hitter results and there is also a safety; Denard gets what he can. RUN-: Schofield, Koger(-0.5)
M28 2 8 Denard Jet 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Jet sweep Robinson 6
Blocking here is good all around. Lewan(+1) seals the playside DE. Koger kicks out the edge guy, which is easy since he has to maintain contain; NW LB flows hard upfield inside of Smith, which causes Smith to peel off. He doesn't get a piece but that's because the LB went too hard inside to actually get Robinson. Once he runs himself out of position it's open because Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) scooped the playside NT; Schofield got out on the WLB. Denard is chopped down by a quick-filling safety. Why doesn't Hemingway head for the S instead of keeping the CB outside? Note: NW DE on the backside stays responsible.
M34 3 2 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power alt Robinson 5
Breaking a tendency here as the power is going away from the RB side as Molk and Schofield pull around. This works well enough; Koger(+1) seals the playside DE easily and Omameh(+1) gets out on the MLB to cut him. Schofield(-1) pulls around and runs right by the SLB; instead both he and Molk head for the corner. Molk is trailing and realizes that the LB is about to hit Robinson, but it's too late for him to do anything. Robinson(+1) stiffarms the dude and rolls for the first down. Because he's been forced to the sideline the CB Schofield cut can force him out with an arm-tackle attempt.
RUN+: Koger, Molk, Omameh, Robinson RUN-: Schofield(2)
M39 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Roundtree Inc
Hitch is open for six plus some YAC; Denard one-hops it. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M39 2 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 3
Koger covered. NW goes under in response to the TE. SLB goes into a pass drop; Hopkins(+1) buries him. Koger(+1) blows up the playside DE. Huyge(+1) climbs to the second level and seals the WLB out of the play. Molk and Omameh down block successfully on the backside; Denard holds the backside DE. Result: MLB vs Schofield and Toussaint in a ton of space. LB bursts outside to funnel back to help that isn't there; instead of setting up the block Toussaint(-2) runs right into the linebacker when a cut back behind puts him one on one with the S for a big gainer.
RUN+: Hopkins, Huyge, Koger RUN-: Toussaint(2)
M42 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 Stack two deep   Post Hemingway 48
Three man rush with this WR return guy as a spy. They rush three with the spy attacking later. Huyge(-1) beaten and is fortunate a little shove on his part gets this DE to the ground. Good pocket otherwise because there's a three man rush; Robinson steps up and bombs it deep to Hemingway in single coverage. It's a bit underthrown but not quite enough to give the DB a play on the ball; Hemingway goes up and gets it. (CA, 2, protection ½, Huyge)
O10 1 G Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint 1
I think so but I'm not sure because Toussaint's angle is outside. Smith heads straight upfield. Omameh(-1) is handled by the DT over him; Smith(-1) runs by the playside LB without hitting anyone. Schofield(-1) can't handle the other DT; three guys converge on Toussaint.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Omameh, Smith, Schofield
O9 2 G I-form big 2 2 1 4-3 under Pass Waggle corner Watson 9
LB who previously shot upfield on the Robinson third down power is probably the guy who busts here. He chases after Robinson on the playfake. Watson is wide open. Denard gets a little pressure but not much and chucks it off his back foot. Watson has to adjust and manages to make a diving catch in the endzone. (IN, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA Out Hemingway 27
Play action with max protect; two-man route, though Toussaint does leak out late. The PA fake sucks in between eight and nine NW players; Denard has all day. He zings it to a wide open Hemingway on a deep out. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
O42 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Smith 2
Denard(-2) misses a massive keep read with the backside DE shuffling down and Dileo cracking down on the contain guy. NW is slanting to the playside, forcing Smith into the unblocked backside guy. No minus but it's clear Schofield is having a tough time with DiNardo.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Robinson(2)
O40 2 8 Shotgun 3 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA Deep post Hemingway Int
They run the sprint counter except it's a playfake, and it's a good thing since a late shift and S blitz would have picked off the lead blocker and exposed Smith to a TFL. Denard gets some late pressure as Dinardo releases to the outside of Molk—Molk can't do anything about this because he's cutting behind a teammate. An inadvertent stunt. Denard again chucks a punt off his back foot that is way long; safety picks it off. Never should have thrown it with the safety there; he had a little hitch he could have taken. (BRINX, 0, protection 2/2) Picture-paged by BWS.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Pin and pull zone Robinson 4
They bring down a LB and blitz from the backside. More pin and pull and as per usual it doesn't quite work. Huyge(+1) cannot get playside of his guy but does end up cutting him, which takes him and the guy playside of Schofield out. Watson kicks out the playside DE. Omameh(-1) is first through the hole and contacts a LB around the LOS. He gets driven back. These guys just aren't drive blockers. Molk bangs into this block, surging it forward, and Robinson bangs into the whole mess. Everyone falls forward.
RUN+: Huyge RUN-: Omameh
M39 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA Quick seam Koger Inc
Wide open; Denard wings it high. Koger does get his fingertips to it but this is not a shoulda-caught-it kind of pass. (IN, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M39 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Hitch Hemingway 9
Four man rush doesn't even try to get to Denard. Expecting a QB draw is the only thing I can think of. Totally unmolested Denard pumps once, then zings it into Hemingway for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1… RPS+1, I guess. No pass rush at all.)
M48 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Gallon 10
Easy pitch and catch with the outside corner playing soft; good timing on the throw gives Gallon an opportunity to pick up a little YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O42 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 7 (Pen -10)
This opens up as it looks like the playside DE tries to go outside without the NT slanting behind him, for whatever reason. Huyge(+1) and Omameh(+1) kick their guys out. Nice hole. Molk(+1) buries the WLB on the second level. Guy in the hole is the MLB against Hopkins; Hopkins bashes him and then tosses him upfield, sending Toussaint into the secondary, where that quick-filling safety fills again. Hopkins gets a holding call that seems ludicrous. Toussaint is gone, any hypothetical hold had no impact on the play, and you call that when NW has arms outside the shoulder pads on every play? Refs -2.
M48 1 20 Ace trips tight bunch 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
AKA the pitch formation. Michigan goes with a PA throwback screen that Lewan(-1) takes a little too far of a downfield angle on and lets the corner come up to hassle Gallon. Corner gets upfield and makes a diving ankle tackle attempt; Gallon steps through it and gets hacked down by the backside DE from behind. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Gallon RUN-:
O44 2 12 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass PA scramble Robinson 8
Attempted play action on which Schofield(+1) pulls to protect the edge. Last week two guys would shoot up into this play and twice Michigan OL would get lost in indecision, forcing Denard to chuck it off his back foot. This week Schofield has eyes only for the outside guy, who he seals, allowing Denard the edge. Denard on edge equals takeoff. (SCR, N/A, protection 1/1, Schofield run bonus for tough job well done.) Picture paged.
RUN+: Schofield, Robinson RUN-:
O36 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass TE Dig Koger 16
NW rushes five and gets nowhere thanks in large part to Vincent Smith coming across the protection to pick up the blitzer. Remainder of NW rushers stoned. Robinson steps up and zings it to Koger. Ball is a little behind Koger, forcing him to spin and eventually taking him off his feet. Better thrown and this is a TD. Still good enough for a CA since it is about 15 yards downfield. (CA, 2, protection 3/3)
O20 1 10 Denard Jet 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA scramble Gardner 4
NW expecting this and has the same DE on the edge, covering everyone (RPS -1); Gardner(+1) does well to hold up at the sideline, pump, and then accelerate past the guy to turn this into a few yards.
RUN+: Gardner RUN-:
O16 2 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA wheel Smith Int
Okay, I get it. NW blitzes up the gut and gets instant pressure on Robinson, so he sees that Smith has blazed the corner on the play action and tosses the wheel. Safety intercepts because Robinson was rushed. Given some more time he would have either hit Koger wide open because the safety is sucking up or hit Smith wide open because the safety went with Koger. I think Schofield(-2) is the problem here—everyone else is blocking someone and Schofield is pulling into the middle of nowhere instead of reading the blitz up the middle. This is sad, because it was a beautiful design that should have been a wide open TD. I kind of want to PR this but can't. (BR, 0, protection 0/2, Schofield 2). Do not listen to this color guy: I think the safety busts here and that's why this is not wide open for Smith. Picture paged.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint 5
Schofield loses the DT to the inside of him but not too badly; he fends him off well enough to prevent him from getting into the backfield. The two LBs are headed inside anyway, with Molk and Hopkins banging them. Not relevant because of the Schofield thing, which forces Toussaint behind and into the overhanging corner. No one did anything spectacularly good or bad on this play.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5), Schofield(0.5) RUN-:
M33 2 5 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Pin and pull zone Toussaint 8 (Pen -10)
Koger(+1) blocks down on the playside DE and wins; Omameh(-0.5) loses playside DT. SLB is shooting upfield; Huyge contacts him a couple yards into the backfield, which Hopkins(+1) sees. He nails the guy before moving downfield; Huyge(-2) gets his arms around the neck of the SLB and gets a deserved holding call that may not have been necessary. Really wish Hopkins had just held up that guy without moving on but that's not his fault. Schofield(+1) had cut the WLB to the ground, so Hopkins didn't have anyone to block once he got past the LOS.
M23 2 15 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Triple option Robinson 0
Northwestern has a LB overhanging the slot, which is a big difference from what Michigan's doing. Huyge(-2) blocks the playside DE, getting a lame shove before trying to release into the second level; he ends up blocking no one really, as that DE, the MLB, and the playside LB all flow out—instead of of one guy for two they have three. Robinson wisely eats it. RPS -2.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Huyge
M23 3 15 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Stack two deep Pass Deep out Dileo Inc
Robinson finds a hole in a seven-man zone for first down yardage and throws it out there; Dileo extends for it but the thing bounces off his outstretched hand. Tight window throwing to a 5'9” receiver. If Dileo is 6'1” this is probably complete. Still, could have been better, results based, etc. (MA, 1, protection 2/2) Not a bad throw.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB Iso Robinson 2
They need to run oh noes about three times more often than they do. They're letting opponents cheat on this with impunity. Anyway, as soon as Denard moves to LOS LBs freak out and Denard decides to bounce. LBs flowing hard means that wasn't a terrible decision. M WRs now cracking down so there should be space but Gallon(-1) whiffs on his and Huyge's DE reaches out to grab Denard's jersey, at which point he just goes to ground after grabbing what he can. Evidence for the "jerseys are too easy to grab" crowd. RPS -1.
RUN+: Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5) RUN-: Gallon, Robinson(0.5)
M35 2 8 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Someone on NW screws up as they blitz off the corner to contain and the WLB still scrapes over the top when the DE crashes. Toussaint has room behind the blocking because Schofield(+1) escorted his guy way down the line. Nice gain because of the vacated area.
M42 3 1 Maryland I 3 1 1 Goal line Run Iso Toussaint 1
Argh shuffling fullback /shoots self. Watson(-2) shuffles; NW responds by having WLB CRUSH him at the LOS with a blitz. Another LB scrapes over the top, the original blitzer is still up, and Michigan gets nothing. Shuffling fullback. RPS -1.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Watson(2)
M43 4 In Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 3
Yes, Schofield: yes. Pulling again and NW blitzing in the same fashion that got them their INT two drives earlier. Schofield(+1) pulls up and seals the guy. That's it for NW since Koger(+1) and Watson(+1) blow up the playside DE; Smith kicks out the overhanging corner, and the last guy can't prevent Robinson from getting it. Picture paged.
RUN+: Schofield, Koger, Watson RUN-:
M46 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Smith 6
NW playing it straight with the backside DE keeping contain as the linebackers flow frontside; backside NT gets under Lewan(+1), but Lewan keeps blocking him down the line and puts him on his butt; Smith(+1) hops behind that block and scoots through the hole before the contain DE can come down on him. He should really run away from that guy but instead tries to cut behind the slot WR's block, whereupon contain DE tackles him. RPS+1. Zone read FTW.
RUN+: Lewan, Smith RUN-:
O48 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 18
Late shift with slot blitz. M runs away from it. Playside LB blitzes, then holds up. Huyge(+0.5) stalemates the playside DE until Toussaint(+0.5) seals him enough; Koger(+1) fought off the DE upfield to provide a hole. Robinson(+1) bursts outside and heads into the secondary. RPS +1.
RUN+: Koger, Robinson, Toussaint(0.5), Huyge(0.5) RUN-:
O30 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone belly Toussaint 5
Similar to the previous one except with two TEs on that side who release downfield, so it's almost like a DT read. Like to see Michigan block that DE and spring Denard on the edge. Anyway, this is a lot like RR's old belly series, with the backside G and T doubling the DT and driving him downfield (+0.5 Omameh, Huyge) as the frontside DT gets the same business. LBs suck frontside; Toussaint cuts behind the backside double and is tackled from behind by the contain DE. This is the iso of the spread—hard for D to keep from getting some, hard for O to get a bunch.
RUN+: Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5) RUN-:
O25 2 5 Ace trips tight bunch 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 25
The difference between this throwback and the previous one is pretty simple: the unblocked playside DE is thinking about defending the zone read and instead of peeling back on the screen when he's not blocked he tries to contain Denard. Yes, even though they're under center. He's dead. Also Huyge(+1) and Omameh(+1) block their dudes such that they cannot even touch Gallon(+0.5), who makes a super easy juke on a safety for six. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-14, 4 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson -1
Omameh(-1) pulls and pulls incredibly slowly; Denard always has to wait for his blocking on these. By the time Omameh gets to the POA a non-crazy MLB has scraped to the LOS and put himself in a position where Omameh can't even block him. Robinson(-1) bounces outside because he's spooked by the blitzing WLB, which kills the blocking angles.
RUN+: Schofield(0.5), Koger(0.5) RUN-: Omameh, Robinson
M21 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Out Roundtree Inc
Another back-foot throw sails. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M21 3 11 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Rollout deep out Hemingway 22
No NW players are tight on the edge so rolling the pocket works unless the playside DE flies straight upfield immediately; he does not and Smith chops him out of the play. Robinson has all day. He finds Hemingway, steps into the throw, and zings a twenty-yard dart at the sideline. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1) This is an NFL throw. Hurrah for stepping into things.
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Slant Gallon 13
LB creeps down off the corner as NW telegraphs a blitz. Soft corner on the 1WR side as NW runs a zone; Denard fires the ball in before the flat defender can get in the throwing lane. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Roundtree Inc
Airmailed. Possibly a good thing as a linebacker was threatening to run underneath the route but there's no way I can credit that as intentional. Routes were pretty well covered here. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O44 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Cross Hemingway Int
I can explain the previous interceptions. This one I have no idea. It's either a massively overthrown out to a double covered Hemingway or massively underthrown fade to Roundtree. (INX, 0, protection 2/2) Okay... on replay it's clear he's overthrowing Hemingway by ten yards. At least he was open!
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-21, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-4 even Run Zone read dive Smith 0
With a linebacker over the slot, safety rolls down for a full seventh in the box. Safety blitzes off the snap to contain the zone read, end crashes down, line slants hard playside. Smith has no choice but to run behind Omameh and get nailed by the backside DE. RPS -1.
M20 2 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Iso Toussaint -1
Backside DE again crashes with a scraper; Omameh(-1) loses the backside DT and there's nowhere to go. RPS –2 for same error twice in a row.
M19 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Stack two deep Pass Dig Roundtree 17
Three man rush gives M all day. Robinson surveys and finds Roundtree for a bunch in between about four guys in the zone. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)
M36 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 4
Unbalanced with Koger covered. This does not hit the intended hole as Omameh(-1) is shot back by the DT. Schofield(+0.5) gets a little push on the other DT, though not of the sealing variety, and Toussaint(+1) manages to cut behind him. A safety overhanging meets Toussaint about two yards downfield; he breaks a tackle and grabs a couple more.
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield(0.5) RUN-: Omameh
M40 2 6 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA Deep post Roundtree 57
Max protection; Watson(-1) gets beat to the inside by the DE, who gets some pressure on Robinson. Robinson rolls away from it as Koger adjusts to push him out of the play. Spying LB now coming up hard. Robinson lets a 60-yard pass fly on the move. Roundtree's in single coverage and the DB is step-for-step. He slows up, then extends back as the ball arrives, getting a little bit of separation and bringing in the bomb. Um, so... if Henne had thrown this to Edwards? Yeah. (DO, 2, protection 2/3, Watson). How does NW let this happen on a two man route, I ask you?
O3 1 G I-Form twins 2 1 2 Goal line Run Iso Toussaint 1
Hopkins(-1) whiffs on the crashing LB, forcing Toussaint(+1) to cut behind after running through the resulting arm tackle. That's possible because Omameh(+1) kicked out the backside DE and Molk(+1) plugged a LB trying to hit the gap. Schofield did just okay against the other DT. Toussaint drags the LB who hit Hopkins to the one, where a corner scrapes over to take him down. Toussaint gets a crappy spot.
RUN+: Toussaint, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Hopkins
O2 2 G Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Goal line Run QB power Robinson 0
Watson(-1) is stood up by the DE and gets beaten inside; Schofield(-1) then hits it up in that gap, leaving the outside guys by themselves, so Robinson can't do much other than follow into the big pile for little.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Watson, Schofield
O2 3 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Goal line Run Speed option Robinson 2
Stretch blocking immediately seals both playside DEs; Koger releases downfield and Robinson can walk in. Molk, Omameh, Huyge get pluses; RPS +1.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Huyge, Koger(0.5) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-24, 10 min 1st Q. Option had nothing to do with the TD; DL was screwed by the zone step.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-4 even Run QB draw Robinson 25
Tough to tell what exactly this was supposed to be since Robinson drops the snap but the line is pass blocking and the WRs are stalk-blocking so I'm guessing a QB draw. Seems designed to exploit the scrape as even though there's a delay the S flying right upfield can't do anything about this play that goes at the backside of the line. Huyge(+2) starts losing the DE to the inside of him but eventually stalls him at the line and drives him well past where he wants to go. Omameh(+1) is tasked with the SLB; he heads outside and he has to go around the Huyge block. He eventually gets back into position to wall off the pursuit after Robinson(+2) bursts past them. Shaw(+1) is the lead blocker, he cuts the last LB. Robinson into the secondary. Gallon(-1) couldn't do anything with his corner and probably cost Michigan five or six yards. RPS +1, I'm guessing.
RUN+: Huyge(2), Robinson(2), Omameh, Shaw RUN-: Gallon
M45 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA Hitch Roundtree 9
No pressure at all with just a three man route; NW playing soft and opens up a hitch for solid yardage. You want Robinson to find this a bit faster to open up some YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2) RPS +1; good way to exploit the now-terrified NW corners.
O46 2 1 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Robinson -1
Yuck. NW slants away from the play; Molk(-1) gets crushed back by the NT coming into him and the other guy wraps around the backside of the line, getting Toussaint tackled behind the line. Robinson is also tackled behind the line because he didn't ride the fake long enough; instead he pulls it really fast and allows the NW DE to redirect to him. Ugly, ugly, ugly. RPS -2.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Robinson, Molk, Lewan
O47 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-4 even Run QB power Robinson 4
Safety in box. Michigan runs QB power and just barely gets it thanks to a monster play from Schofield(+2). NW slanting hard, getting under Koger(-1) and threatening to get their backside DE straight upfield into Denard. Schofield has to peel off and plug him. He does. Koger keeps pushing the DE past the play. SLB flows up hard, then breaks down at the LOS; Robinson slows up in response, and Schofield disengages from the Koger block to plug the SLB. Robinson squeezes through the hole, jukes the backside DE flowing down after dropping into a short zone, and ekes out the first. RPS -1.
RUN+: Schofield(2), Robinson(2) RUN-: Koger
O43 1 10 Denard Jet 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Counter pitch Shaw 4
Huyge somehow manages to not seal the playside DE despite the guy stepping playside; he should easily get this guy out the play. Instead DE disconnects and starts flowing. He's a couple yards outside the LB and that's the difference between three yards and seven. RPS +1; should have worked, no blocking necessary.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Huyge
O39 2 6 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-4 even Pass Devious TE seam Koger 19
This is bizarre, with both RBs running flare screens and the OL splitting to block them but remaining careful to remain behind the LOS. Koger then releases on a quick seam as the DL and LBs bug out for the flare screens. It's complete, though a NW DB is alert enough to hit right on the catch. Koger powers through the tackle for some extra yardage. What if the DL tear after Robinson? I don't know man. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O20 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 1 1 3 4-3 press Run Outside pitch Shaw 1
Pitch formation; they run the pitch. Koger(+1) blows up the playside DE; Odoms(+1) mountain-goats a DB. Dileo gets a cut on the inside of another DB, and Molk is bugging out for the last LB after guys releasing downfield blow up the rest of the world. Shaw(-2) misses the intended gap in favor of BOUNCEBOUNCEBOUNCEBOUNCE, allowing the DB, who gets up from the cut to string him out until he gets a yard at the sideline.
RUN+: Odoms, Koger RUN-: Shaw(2)
O19 2 9 Denard Jet 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Throwback screen Smith 6
Okay, 51 is McNaul. I like him. Smart kid. On this play he diagnoses the throwback screen and is out on it too fast for Schofield or Molk to do anything about it. He's about to blow this up for a loss when Gallon(+1) accelerates on his crackback and shoves him past Smith. Smith(+1) still has to spin through this without losing his balance, which he does. The delay allows a corner to come up, forcing it inside despite Lewan(+1) getting a chop. Schofield(-1) ran past the MLB flowing from the inside; he tackles.
RUN+: Gallon, Smith, Lewan RUN-: Schofield
O13 3 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Speed option Robinson 12
Omameh(-1) fails to cut the backside DT. Schofield(+1) does latch onto the frontside guy and push him down the line. Koger... actually I don't think I mind Koger losing the DE to the inside because that should mean the pitch is wide open, which it is. Robinson says no to that and shoots up behind Schofield in front of the DT that Omameh did not cut; he got too far upfield and was off balance. Once past that hole he's got Molk, Lewan, and Huyge blocking downfield. Lewan(+1) donkeys McNaul. Molk(+1) gets another linebacker, and when McNaul sheds Lewan Huyge(+1) is there to pick him up. Robinson dances through all this to the goal line.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Lewan, Molk, Huyge RUN-: Omameh
O1 1 G I-form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run FB dive Toussaint 1
This play again. NW is ready for it. When Hopkins motions out of the backfield, one of the linebackers points at Toussaint and the other one adjusts his alignment. They jump at him; Toussaint ends up just short.
O1 2 G I-form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run FB dive Toussaint 0
For some reason Toussaint doesn't jump this time.
O1 3 G Maryland I 2 3 0 Goal line Pass Waggle scramble Gardner 1
Gardner does have Watson open but knows he can outrun the LB and beats him to the corner. I'm not RPSing a goal line play unless it's just ridiculously easy. This is not quite ridiculously easy.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-24, 3 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA Fly Gallon Inc
Gallon has his man beaten by yards but the throw is long. Robinson stepped into it and everything, he just missed. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O47 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 25
Line slanting so Omameh(+1) has a somewhat easy job to push the DT out of the hole. He still does it with aplomb. Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB; McNaul is coming to the line but momentarily thinks pass and takes a step back, which allows Shaw(+1) to cut him to the ground. Big hole; Denard zips up into it, eventually getting taken down by the ankles by the FS. RPS +1. This was the "nice block" play.
RUN+: Molk, Robinson, Omameh, Shaw RUN-:
O22 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-4 even Run QB power Robinson 0
Just tons of guys headed to the line again, with McNaul zipping into the play. Schofield does block him but Robinson has to slow up because of how far McNaul is into the backfield. Shaw(-1) basically misses his guy and the overhanging safety creeps up to help tackle at the line. RPS -1. RUN-: Shaw.
O22 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle cross Jackson 19
Gardner in. Michigan does exploit the aggressive NW defense by running the waggle; Gardner has multiple options as Jackson beats the linebackers on his crossing route and Koger releases wide open in the flat. Gardner goes deeper, making a back-foot-ish toss that's a dart right to Jackson's hands for first and goal. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O3 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 0
Just too much traffic. I think Huyge(-0.5) and Koger(-0.5) don't do great on their blocks—no movement and then there's a free hitter because it's so tight here.
O3 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Shaw 3
Yeah, that adjustment thing where Shaw is supposedly directed to get outside is entirely Shaw's brain going BOUNCE. He has good reason here since Schofield(-1) gives up penetration; a DT falls in the middle of the line, erasing any potential holes. Shaw bounces to the outside, where his speed and a great block from Gallon get him into the endzone. This too may be an effect of super aggressive NW LBs being super aggressive—playside LB runs straight upfield into a block.
RUN+: Shaw, Gallon RUN-: Schofield
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-24, 14 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 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson -7
Away from the RB to break a tendency with Molk pulling, but NW blitzes right into it. Robinson(-2) should try to hit it up behind Molk and get back to the LOS before a free LB nails him; instead he reverses field and gets eaten up by the slanting Wildcat line. RPS -1.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Robinson(2)
M35 2 17 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Screen Shaw 12
Same blitz; Michigan throws a screen at the vacated area. Molk and Schofield are in the area and get decent blocks but don't take their guys out; they do give Shaw a bunch of room to the sidelines. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)
M47 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Stack two deep Pass Hitch Gallon 17
Gallon gets the NW CB to turn his back, then stops; Robinson tosses it out there on the money. Gallon can turn it up for bonus YAC because the throw is on time and the CB is remembering that one time he got burned like whoah. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
O36 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson -2
It's hard to tell whether this is actually a blitz or if the LBs are just looking for this play; both of them absolutely fly up into the intended gap, overwhelming the lead block of Shaw and getting a TFL. Once too many times to the well. RPS -1.
RUN+: N/A RUN-: Shaw
O38 2 12 Shotgun 2back TE 1 2 2 4-4 even Run Sweep Shaw 9
Not quite the pin and pull as this has down blocking, not zone steps; Molk and Schofield pull; Hopkins leads. Koger(+0.5) gets enough of the playside DE to take him out of the play. Hopkins(+2) shoots up into the hole and cuts the playside LB to the ground, getting a 3 for 1 when the guy trailing him and the guy trailing the trailer go down. Schofield kicks the edge guy. Odoms(+1) gets a safety and Shaw(+1) hits the gap for a nice gain. This is not actually a fumble, as the ball comes out when his elbow smashes the ground. We are now tipping runs by inserting Odoms, btw.
RUN+: Shaw, Odoms, Hopkins(2), Koger(0.5), Schofield(0.5) RUN-:
O29 3 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Speed option Robinson -2
Massively aggressive McNaul is massively aggressive, shooting the gap between the two playside doubles. Robinson has two options: pitch to Toussaint who may or may not have it on the edge, or cut back. Cutback is there because the backside DT crumpled to the ground with little provocation (+1 Omameh, I guess). Backside DE is flowing down the line but Robinson is almost certain to get the first down or something close enough to it to go if he just goes straight upfield; instead he tries to dance around that guy and loses two yards.
RUN+: Omameh RUN-: Robinson(2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(48), 9 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 1 2 2 4-4 even Run Pin and pull zone Shaw 6
Huyge and Molk pulling and Omameh and Koger zone step to get playside of their guys. Koger(+1) kills his dude downfield; Omameh(+1) also wins his block. Playside LB reads what's going on and shoots upfield to cut-block Huyge, creating a pile Shaw has to go around. Shaw can cut up or bounce and bounces, which is good because Lewan had no shot at the backside DT. Shaw's speed(+1) gets him the edge as Hopkins(+1) kicks out the corner.
RUN+: Omameh, Koger, Shaw, Hopkins RUN-:
O32 2 4 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 4
Huyge(-1) gets beat on his down-block, erasing any hole that may exist and forcing a cutback. Omameh(+1) blew out the backside DT so there's a gap, one filled by the MLB; Robinson(+1) ducks under him to near the first down.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh RUN-: Huyge
O28 3 in I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Iso Toussaint 2
Lewan moves a hair early and does not get called. Refs +1. Thanks to that his kick is easy, but no plus because he is not playing by the rules. Schofield(+1) kicks his guy; Hopkins(+0.5) gets a block on the MLB but has it shed. That block erases MLB's momentum and allows Toussaint(+0.5) to bowl him over for the first.
RUN+: Hopkins(0.5), Toussaint(0.5), Schofield RUN-:
O26 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 3
Double on playside DT just does work; Huyge(+1) helps Omameh(-0.5) get a push and then releases into the MLB; Omameh almost loses the DT when that happens but Robinson is too quick. CB coming around the outside does not get picked off; Robinson runs through the tackle attempt. Toussaint(+1) nailed McNaul, so there's a crease. Schofield is heading downfield into the safety after a chunk; Robinson is about to pop outside when the playside DE nails him after disconnection from Watson downfield. Not Watson's fault, just a good play. I'm impressed with him. 97: Tyler Scott. Redshirt sophomore. Robinson's bounce attempt holds this to three when he gets six if he just burrows.
RUN+: Huyge, Toussaint RUN-: Omameh(0.5)
O23 2 7 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Pin and pull zone Toussaint -1
Opposition LBs tearing hell bent after this. Schofield's downblock is almost ducked under; he shoves the NT past the play. Both LBs shoot the gap between this and the Koger block; Molk peels to get one of them but is just one dude; McNaul tackles for loss. RPS -1. Had this and the keeper dead.
O24 3 8 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA corner Hemingway 18
Lewan goes to the sideline and Mealer comes in. M puts him at RT, flips Huyge to LT, and places a TE next to Mealer. They run PA. Koger(-2) gets killed by Scott, who comes in to pressure Robinson. He doesn't want to get juked so he comes in slow. Short stuff is covered because the edge LB backed off Toussaint's block into the otherwise open Hopkins, but Denard fires deep anyway, finding Hemingway just in front of a safety. (DO, 2, protection 0/2, Koger -2)
O6 1 G I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Iso Shaw 3
Schofield(+1) seals and sends the playside DT to the ground. Lewan(+0.5) does okay with the DE. Hopkins gets a piece of the MLB; Molk(+0.5) pushes McNaul past the play from the other side as Shaw(+1) deftly cuts between the two.
RUN+: Schofield, Lewan(0.5), Shaw, Molk(0.5) RUN-:
O3 2 G Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 Goal line Run Power off tackle Toussaint -2
MLB blitzes the gap between the playside double and Schofield, making a TFL. RPS or Omameh not adjusting? Not sure. Hopkins(-1) did a crappy job on the edge, though and his guy helps tackle. RPS -1, Omameh off the hook—this would be a hard block to make.
O5 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 5
Omameh(-1) driven back by a bull rush and the MLB hits Toussaint at the LOS so not much in the way of places to go here; Robinson bounces and because the playside LB turned his back to zone drop after chucking Koger the corner is open. Nice block by Dileo.
RUN+: Dileo, Robinson(2) RUN-: Omameh
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-24, 2 min 4th Q

Yay a billion points yay!

Yeah, man, that's a lot of points when you turn the ball over three times and miss a field goal. I'm not entirely sure how they managed it, honestly.

But they have all of the Denards.

Yeah, and all of the third down conversions. For all of the angst about Denard's passing he sure reminded me of John Navarre in the 2004 2002 Ohio State game from time to time. In that game Michigan drives went like this:

  1. 0 yard run
  2. 1 yard run
  3. 15 yard Navarre laser to Avant or Edwards
  4. -2 yard run
  5. 1 yard run
  6. 16 yard Navarre laser to Avant or Edwards

Here Denard got put behind the chains frequently and did this:

And this:

So… yeah. Weird, weird day. When not throwing terrible interceptions he was good. You can see this in the—

CHART

—chart.

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation.]

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
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%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%
Northwestern '11 4 12(3) 1 7 2 - - - 1 59%

Gardner picked up a TA (the three yard run after a jet fake), a SCR (TD), and a CA+(Jackson to the three).

You can see a couple of those four DOs above, long conversions in small holes in the zone. The one on the last touchdown drive is notable because Koger lost #97* and he proceeded to pressure Denard. Result:

robinson-late-pressure

Also first and goal. Compare that to his first half:

back-foot-2

One of these was a zinger into Hemingway's chest, the other a massively underthrown duck Watson managed to dig out that only wasn't an INT because the guy covering Watson is also one of the guys about four yards away from Denard.

It was remarkable how consistent the mechanical issues were in this game. Back foot was misery, front foot glory. The hope is that's the thing he needs to get corrected and once he does he'll be good at throwing. He certainly was in the second half, when he added two DOs, 5 CAs, and a single understandable IN (the overthrown bomb to Gallon) to a diabolical first half.

*[Who I liked enough to look up on the Northwestern roster: redshirt sophomore Tyler Scott. New starter. Active kid, will be good.]

Let me hear about the receiving corps.

They had an excellent outing.

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway 1 - 2/2 3/3 5 - 6/7 9/10
Roundtree 3 - 3/3 - 4 1/3 4/5 4/4
Odoms - - - - 1 - - -
Grady - - - - 2 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon 1

-

- 5/5 2 - - 17/17
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - 0/1 - - - 0/2 1/2 2/2
Jackson - - 1/1 - - - 1/1 -
                 
Koger - 0/1 1/1 1/1 2 1/3 2/3 7/8
Moore - - - - 2 - - -
                 
Toussaint - - - - - - - 1/2
Shaw - - - 1/1 - - - 1/1
Smith - - - - 1 - - 5/6
Hopkins - - - - - - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

No drops and seven instances where receivers brought in medium difficulty throws. It's clear by the way I file these that you should be hauling in well more than half of them but no drops in seven opportunities is pretty good. They were at 58% before Northwestern.

Two of those catches were the bombs to Hemingway and Roundtree that were over 100 of Michigan's 541 total yards; on both the WRs showed excellent skill to high-point the ball.

Roundtree's slow-then-extend technique…

…was not quite as flawless as Manningham's. He still caught around his shoulder-pads, not above his head. But slowing down like that puts the DB in a bind. He can run you over, or he can get his head around because you have implied the ball is well underthrown and he can make a play on it. The slow-to-extend gives the DB the wrong idea about the location of the ball and if done perfectly means the guy can't make a play on it at all. Here he could, but didn't know where it was. Meanwhile, Hemingway is Junior Megatron, as Steve Sapardanis dubbed him on MVictors.

Those plays were not luck, and calling them jump balls is harsh. This was not ND when you were throwing back shoulder fades against over the top coverage (or double coverage) that may not have been that intentional. These were balls that gave the WR an opportunity to make a play in single coverage when they have the advantage.

As for the line, they had a step back:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 4.5 2 2.5 Why so low, numbers? Discussion later.
Barnum - - - DNP
Molk 7 1 6 Best performer.
Omameh 10 7.5 3.5 Thought he'd come out worse than this but more later.
Huyge 9 6.5 2.5 Pretty much his average.
Schofield 12 7 5 Pulling mania. This third down conversion was all him.
Mealer - - - One snap.
Watson 1 3 -2 Not so strong.
Koger 8 2 6 Had a day, yo.
TOTAL 51.5 29 22.5 Ratio drops and overall ++ go down: 50 carries this week.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 12 9.5 2.5 Missed a lot of opportunities and made some bad decisions; still Denard.
Gardner 1 - 1 One scramble, one edge TD.
Toussaint 3.5 2 1.5 Meh day.
Shaw 6 4 2 bounce bounce bounce bounce
Smith 2 1 1 Major step back in usefulness, possibly because of Hopkins…
Hopkins 5.5 2 3.5 …who seemed to usurp Smith's role as blocking dude.
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan - - - DNP
TOTAL 30 18.5 11.5 Not what you'd like to see from 50 carries.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway - - -  
Odoms 2 - -  
Gallon 2.5 2 0.5 --
Roundtree - - -  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo 1 - - --
TOTAL 5.5 2 3.5 Secondary less involved.
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 33 6 85% Koger 2, Schofield 2, Watson 1, Huyge 1
RPS 19 15 4 Solid win.

Michigan averaged 3.6 YPC on 50 carries, which is disturbing. Some of that was on the ballcarriers, especially Robinson, who missed opportunities to pick up first downs, mitigate damage, or break big ones. Some of that is on the line, which went from averaging 2 plus for every minus to a 5:3 ratio. Some of that was RPS. Michigan won it, but break it down into pass and run RPSs and Michigan wins the first massively and loses the second not quite as massively.

Northwestern stacks the line and says "just try to run on us." That's why Michigan got 3.6 YPC, Illinois got 3.1, and why the Wildcat secondary is giving up 12.5 YPA the last two weeks*. The difference on Michigan's long bombs in this game is there was no safety over the top to cause woe.

Even so, I'm a little worried about the run game now. Pass blocking was again very good, though.

*[They gave up a ton to Army but Army is a pure triple option team so overloading the box is something they are designed to handle and getting aggressive gets you gashed.]

What is with those Lewan numbers?

I know, right? The system doesn't try to judge blocks that are far away from the play and often declares an easy thing done okay to be a zero, so backside tackles and down-blocking guys a gap away from the play rarely register. Lewan rarely registered and this week's picture pages were examples of Schofield pulling, Schofield pulling, and Schofield pulling. Why is Michigan pulling the converted tackle backup and running away from their donkey-hating first round tackle?

The only conclusion that makes sense is they hate pulling Omameh. When they did pull left, they pulled Molk or Schofield and Molk, only rarely trying Omameh. Early in the year they were a left-handed power team; now they're right-handed, seemingly because Omameh can't pull and when he does manage to get into the hole without making Denard slow up he gets knocked backwards too often. So they give him the relatively easy job of blocking down and run behind Huyge, who's decent but no Lewan.

Where did Vincent Smith go?

I don't know, man. I think they may have tossed the screen to Shaw just to break a tendency. Smith did get in one of his usual blitz pickups:

I don't think his brief absence in the second half means he's going to lose his playing time as long as he's doing that.

Why do these throwback screens keep working even though they seem bloody obvious?

The throwback screen from under center on waggle action? It works because the playside tackle releases outside, the linebackers have to respect the play action, and Denard Is Job One for opposing defenses:

Borges has been punishing those uber-responsible DEs, so at least the waggle's given us that. 

Scheme complaints of the week?

I would have like to see more play action to punish aggressive linebackers, but I was largely content. Rollouts were minimized and successful, the tunnel screen evaporated, and the I-Form was restricted to passing(!) and short yardage with one or two exceptions.

Nits: the FB dive over the top has run its course and the Denard Jet package was a little too obvious.

Heroes?

The receivers as a unit. Gallon, Hemingway, and Roundtree were flawless and punished Northwestern for their aggression against the run. Also Good Denard.

Goats?

Evil Denard. The offensive line could have done better, and as a group the tailbacks had an off day.

What does it mean for Michigan State and beyond?

If Michigan can't get a ground game going against a cover-two I'll start to get seriously worried but it's hard to judge against a team so hell bent on defending the run they'll put you in crappy single coverage all over the field so your QB can still have an obliterating QB rating despite three terrible interceptions.

So not seriously worried. Still a little worried. Michigan does not run power well but unlike running under center they don't seem to be moving away from it. The stretch blocking on the speed option is still providing cutback lanes, which I like better than the pin and pull because it gives you multiple ways to succeed. It's possible that MSU crushes power blocking, leaving Borges to scramble to find something else after falling behind.

Denard… well. I hope he can step into his throws consistently and that is his only accuracy issue. If so it's a matter of keeping him clean and exploiting overreactions to his legs. This will be a test for him and for Borges. The latter is consistently picking up yards with new stuff; I hope he's got a bundle left before the bye week.

Comments

2plankr

October 13th, 2011 at 2:20 PM ^

I've been wondering why nobody is talking about Smith's absence - I thought he might have gotten hurt in the 2nd half the way he completely disappeared

And you cant overstate how impressive that blitz pickup was.  He starts the play looking at the complete opposite side of the line, then in a split second manages to identify the rusher who was pretty well hidden behind the line, slide over and cut him down.  The replay on BTN showed it even better than that clip above

Dave

October 13th, 2011 at 2:32 PM ^

I was sitting behind the Michigan bench, about 15 rows back, and appeared that he was not well.  It wasn't that he was favoring / protecting a limb, it just seemed like he was seriously gassed.  I wouldn't be surprised if he had the flu or something.

yoopergoblue

October 13th, 2011 at 4:02 PM ^

Supposedly Lewan has a bad ankle that he has been nursing since after the ND game.  He also had ice on the elbow he injured back in the Spring after the final drive on offense.  Let's hope he is healing up nice this week because MSU's dline is no joke.

profitgoblue

October 13th, 2011 at 2:44 PM ^

Can anyone explain to me what a "waggle" looks like?  I've researched the internets and still cannot understand how it works.  If anyone has time, thanks in advance!

 

M-Wolverine

October 13th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

They used it over and over again, and no one ever picked up on it, even though our run game wasn't that imposing.  But our tight ends were fearsome. Though it would work to receivers too.

Examples of how the play worked was on two of our Touchdowns in the Rose Bowl at the end of that year. Check out around th 3:30 mark and 6:05 mark.  First to Tai Streets, then the heralded Tuman connection.

 

(HT as always to WolverineHistorian who is just awesome)

El Jeffe

October 13th, 2011 at 3:03 PM ^

I know you're just needling, but the waggle from the I-formation seemed not be be working because no one respects our running out of the I-form. So Denard had huge men in his face all the time when he did that. The pulling of Schofield as protection seemed to help that.

M-Wolverine

October 13th, 2011 at 10:25 PM ^

I see negativity around every MGoCorner as much or more than the other guy, and do disagree that we should abandon it, but if you're expecting it, it can be easy to stop. After doing it a million times in '97, it became a little less effective when they were looking for it. In this case, it's because unlike, say, Griese, where no one cared if Griese ran with it after the fake, so he had time to throw, in this case they're never going to assume that Denard won't keep and carry it. (There are too many negatives in there). Dorsnt mean you shouldn't do it, but it has different problems than the traditional waggle with a traditional QB.

MI Expat NY

October 13th, 2011 at 3:08 PM ^

Ok, Brian's exact quote:  "When not throwing terrible interceptions he was good. "  I see nothing wrong with this statement.  A 68% DSR would be the third best of his career.  So yeah, good day when not throwing horrible interceptions.  

Nobody is taking them out or ignoring them.  Simply saying, "man, if we could get him to never throw off his back foot, seems like he'd be a pretty good passer."

blacknblue

October 13th, 2011 at 2:53 PM ^

I'm not entirely convinced that the first long ball to Hemingway was underthrown or even a "50/50" ball. Hemingway stops and goes up for the ball because as a receiver you're suppose to catch the ball at it's highest point. But it looks like if he keeps running the ball goes over the safety and drops into his hands in the endzone. If Denard throws that ball any shorter the safety can make a play on it. Any further and Hemingway is making a much tougher catch or watching the ball sail over his head.

Blue in Seattle

October 13th, 2011 at 3:15 PM ^

...means it was underthrown.  And if he stops but doesn't jump so that it goes over his shoulder, then the DB can jump and take it away.  Junior had beaten his coverage, and at the time Denard throws it looks like he's starting to get separation.  But Denard has to make his decision pretty quickly, and the easy money is to see that Junior is leading a little and throw it shading to the right where Junior has the advantage from momentum.  Now maybe Denard also wanted to throw it a little deeper but didn't because he's not that accurate, which requires pretty freaking good and consistent accuracy.  And why try that and risk the over throw when you know that Junior can out jump that DB.  This is how Stafford is throwing to Megatron.  You don't throw into triple coverage when it's Steve Breaston.  But when you see Megatron in the end zone trotting to the left with two defenders deep and a slow LB underneath, you just chuck it up slightly short and let the 6'6" 200+ pound guy block out and jump.

After the ND game Borges stated he has coached Denard to throw it this way, and he stated that a few years ago most coaches taught that underthrowing was a no-no.

I just hope the day comes sooner than later, that Denard can take the time to progress through all his reads, because that one video Brian posted where Denard accurately hits Junior, I think it's "part 19", is a great pass, but if Denard had checked on Roundtree, he would have seen Roundtree wide open deeper, much more open than Hemingway.  I think Brian was very correct on that Safety making poor decisions by giving up the deep receiver for the shallow one, because that's what made Roundtree so open.  I think Junior is being tagged as the #1 threat, and soon Roundtree is going to explode on receptions and yardage.  Because Borges is putting out some excellent passing route combinations.

Needs

October 13th, 2011 at 3:24 PM ^

Good post and I completely agree about the intent of the "underthrows."

One quibble, though, about your last point. That's not how route progressions work. If the first read is open, that's where the ball goes. No QB goes through all the options and then determines where to throw. Instead, reads are a series of Yes/No choices, that the QB proceeds through. In that light, it doesn't matter that Roundtree is more open if Denard's already determined his first read is available. 

blacknblue

October 13th, 2011 at 5:45 PM ^

What I'm trying to say is if Hemingway keeps running I think he hits him in Stride. Hemingway didn't have to come back for the ball or wait for it. He adjusts and stops to jump to get it at it's high point, which is what all receivers should always do unless there is no one anywhere near them. When he catches the ball it is easily over 10 feet in the air. Also just to point it out, I think the only reason the safety has a play on that ball is because Hemingway's adjustment leads him to it. If Hemingway keeps running he still catches that ball easily, I think that ball was perfect.

stubob

October 13th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

As much as I love this column (and I do), I wonder if the aggregate +/- numbers don't tell the whole story. As Brian usually points out, those numbers go up/down based on the number of plays.

Would a distribution chart be more useful? Show median, high, low +/-, then the % of plays that total -2. -1. 0, +1, +2, etc. That would show plays where everything goes wrong, plays where somethings go wrong and some go right, and plays where everything comes up unicorns. It would also remove some of the variance from a large +/- on a given play. Would you rather have three +1s or one +3?

TrppWlbrnID

October 13th, 2011 at 3:05 PM ^

i am not sure how being called Megatron is a sign of respect. he never ever won anything, he hung out with totally whiney and dumb losers. he totally got pwned by the robot that turns into a boombox that threw him out of a spaceship. worst of all, he turns from a giant robot into a pistol that someone else has to fire at people. in what world does it make sense to turn from a robot with a cannon that shoots space lasers on its arm into a luger?

 

dragonchild

October 13th, 2011 at 6:33 PM ^

The problem with grading receivers is that you can really only evaluate them when they're thrown to, which is a deceptively small part of the game.  For example, Patrick Fitzgerald is arguably the most fearsome player on the Arizona Cardinals, but I've noticed he hasn't led the team in catches most games these days.  Why?  Because he's constantly double-covered.  Now, do you +1 him for drawing two DBs, or do you -1 him because he's never open?

The linemen always make contact so they're easy to evaluate, relatively speaking.  They either win their battles or lose.  The QB and running backs are also involved.  But receivers aren't primarily there to catch balls; if you think about that it's actually the minority of what they do.  What they really do is positioning to create space.  A lot of that is actually the OC playing chess with the opposing DC, seeing how the defense reacts to the routes, and then calling plays accordingly.  With results-based charting it's difficult to tell if a covered fly route is genuinely well covered, the OC setting up a curl on the next play, or simply trying to stretch the defense.  If it's the latter two the receiver may not be the QB's first or even second read and being covered is simply doing his job.  How do you score that?

imafreak1

October 13th, 2011 at 3:18 PM ^

On this play,

No NW players are tight on the edge so rolling the pocket works unless the playside DE flies straight upfield immediately; he does not and Smith chops him out of the play. Robinson has all day. He finds Hemingway, steps into the throw, and zings a twenty-yard dart at the sideline. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1) This is an NFL throw. Hurrah for stepping into things.

First of all, from the endzone cam you can see what a beautiful throw it is. What you can also see is that the deep DB responds to Denard's eyes and leaves Roundtree wide open for 6.

Anyway, just some stuff I noticed.

Hannibal.

October 13th, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

Is anyone surprised that Omameh struggles as a pulling guard?  Wouldn't last year's performance suggest that he'd be good at quickly getting around and smashing into a linebacker?

MMB 82

October 14th, 2011 at 1:44 AM ^

of Omameh running over LBs at the 2nd level; not seeing that so much this year. My (fairly uneducated) guess being that it is more due to the changes in offensive scheme as opposed to a true regression on his part. Someone please correct me if otherwise.....

jmblue

October 13th, 2011 at 3:41 PM ^

If a pass is caught by its intended receiver, by definition doesn't it have to be considered "catchable"?  The pass to Watson was certainly not a great throw, but he did catch it.  I feel like it shouldn't be grouped in the same category as say, a deep ball overthrown by five yards.

SanDiegoWolverine

October 13th, 2011 at 7:29 PM ^

but the whole idea of the DSR is to be a more accurate reflection of what kind of passing day the QB had. otherwise we would just use completion percentage. with the DSR the QB doesn't get credit for screens or bad throws that were bailed out by amazing catches or DB stupidity. It also doesn't penalize them for throwaways and throws while they are getting hit.

If you don't agree with the DSR then just look at the completion percentage.

jmblue

October 13th, 2011 at 8:49 PM ^

I understand the purpose.  I just think it needs some more tinkering - and maybe a new name.  "Success rate" implies a results-based formula, which it clearly isn't if a touchdown pass is "unsuccessful."   And it just doesn't make sense for a pass that was caught to be thrown in the same "inaccurate" heap as a pass that was airmailed way over the receiver's head.   

BTW, I don't think completion percentage is the best measuring stick, either.  Yards per attempt is more useful. 

Needs

October 13th, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

In my mind, the most important play of the entire game was the third down conversion on the first drive of the second half. we'd just had two runs for no gain and were down on the NU 20. A punt there and the defense is under an immense amount of pressure to stop NU immediately. Instead Denard zings a difficult pass in to Roundtree sitting down in the zone for the first and we go on to score.

Tom_McC

October 13th, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

I'm sure this issue has been discussed before but at some point in the evaluation of the offense, is the any consideration given to the idea that maybe running the ball into a D who is stacked in the box is purposeful in that the OC/Off staff have confidence that they can score at will while at the same time keep NW(in this case) off the field?

Is it possible that Borges based on what he saw in the first half figured, "hey, we can essentially score on every drive in the 2nd half, sans TO's...3rd and mediums do not scare me, therefore lets try and pound it, work the clock AND put points on the board"?

Quite frankly, I don't think it is a bad thing to work clock if you have 100% confidence that you can score on the other guy...especially when the other guy is giving your defense some fits.  It just seemed like there was such a calm and confidence with the offense in the 2nd half, they seemed in complete control.

Is it completely out of whack to think that part of the offensive strategy was to methodically move through the NW D with the idea that UM was going to eat clock and put up points?