Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs MSU

Submitted by Brian on November 7th, 2013 at 3:32 PM

ACCIDENTALLY APROPOS ERROR NOTES: Since the NCAA decided to replace their stat pages with much worse stat pages I've been using ESPN's items—still worse than the thing the NCAA just replaced but better. Their drive pages have been consistently erroneous all year, but my irritation just evaporated thanks to this magically accurate error in re: Michigan's drive immediately following Taylor's interception:


CORRECT, intern or robot or whoever. Correct. Except that drive started at the MSU 41, but we forgive all transgressions for spiritual correctness. The best kind of correctness.

FORMATION NOTES: So I just called MSU's stuff 4-3 over but I should point out that everyone is within ten yards of the LOS on damn near every snap. This is M's opener.


This was completely typical. For the most part, MSU did not try to match corners, they just ran their D. They would occasionally move guys down and whatnot, but mostly this was like watching magic. MSU has acquired a variety of guys big time programs didn't want and plays them more aggressively than the most athletic defense in the country, whoever that might be, and apparently no one can do anything about it. It is boggling.

MSU did on occasion flip to man press on the corners; this is designated with "press."


While it was the same personnel, when MSU shaded a guy outside the hash I called this a nickel. As always, with opponent formations I'm not trying to describe personnel.


SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Gardner until last three plays, Toussaint almost the whole way save one, maybe two snaps on which Derrick Green didn't seem any better at pass blocking.

Line was Lewan/Bosch/Glasgow/Magnuson/Schofield with some limited exceptions featuing Kalis entering as a sixth OL. Paskorz got some snaps at TE; Butt got most of the inline snaps. When Funchess was inline it is noted below; he was inline for every play on Michigan's final drive but mostly split out. No Dileo; WRs were Gallon, Chesson, and a little bit of Jackson.

[After THE JUMP: otters, so many otters]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Ace twins stack 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA Fly Gallon 35
Butt motions to short side of field, which also has the WRs. Play action, but Michigan sends the TEs out, so no max pro. Linebackers come, looking run first and then transitioning to blitz second. MSU is actually in deep trouble here as one safety also comes up on the run action and M has two guys running deep against one defender. Gardner is late and picks the wrong guyFunchess is gone. I'm not going to BR a long completion but this was a missed opportunity already. (MA, 1, protection 2/2). Bosch nearly lost his guy; Toussaint did a good job to help on him and also come off on Bullough. Refs ignore obvious targeting on Gallon. Refs -2. RPS +1; more of a bust by MSU than anything magic.
O48 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Throwback WR screen Gallon 11
MSU backing out a bit on the snap. Chesson(+0.5) gets just enough of a block on the corner; Allen blitzed so playside LB is gone. Lot of room; Bullough makes it up really fast to help hold the play down. Magnuson(-1) whiffed on a safety badly; Schofield(+1) got his. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
O37 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 over press Run Down G IV counter Toussaint 4
MSU matches up on the corners, leaving the safeties in the box. M runs a play that looks like veer in the backfield but is probably just a straight up run as M pulls the playside G and uses him to block the end, who's widening out in case there is a keep. Gardner hands off and then runs to the outside, but M isn't optioning anyone here. Lewan(+1) blows in the playside T. Glasgow goes right to the LB level, so the NT can flow down the line, no chance for Mags. Toussaint has to take it outside as a result, albeit inside of the DE Bosch; seems like that might be the plan here as M bets that T can't make the play while Bullough certainly can. Butt(-1) gets stood up, no motion. Funchess(-1) comes in from the slot and hits that guy, too, and while he does do something useful I imagine he's supposed to get the safety, who's overhanging at eight yards. DE Bosch is kicking comes off that block, reaches out, grabs a shoulder pad, spins Toussaint, delayed, buried, okay gain. RPS push; hole offset by MSU LBs in the wrong spot to be blocked. Picture paged.
O33 2 6 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over slide Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Double A blitz. This protection looks very strange with M basically doubling one DE with Butt and Lewan; Lewan ends up blocking no one the whole play. Bosch(-3) thinks he's handing off the DE as he dives inside and then just follows him upfield; Glasgow has to take one LB and Fitz the other, pressure right up the gut, Gardner spins out and throws it away. (PR, N/A, protection -3)
O33 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide stack 1 1 3 Okie two Pass Hitch Gallon 11
Seven guys at LOS, soft umbrella behind. MSU backs Bullough out presnap into a deep centerfield zone. M throws a hitch on the soft corner; easy. Underneath guy is trying to get over to duplicate the PSU INT but has to run around Chesson and cannot. (CA, 3, protection 3/3) Bosch's block is a little dodgy here, but does get the job done.
O22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 3 4-3 over Run Power O Toussaint 0
Lewan super LT, Mags LT, Kalis RG. Bullough almost in the backfield on the handoff and ends up cutting Kalis two yards in the backfield. Mags(-1) couldn't do much with his DT; Lewan(+1) kicked out the DE authoritatively; Funchess(+1) blew up the star LB; do think Kalis(-0.5) was a bit slow getting to the hole here. Toussaint dodges that mess in the backfield, which gives a S time to get to the LOS and meet him. RPS -2; MSU responds to obvious run tip by blowing up play.
O22 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 6-1 over Pass Sack N/A -10
Absolutely nobody blocked. MSU stunts both ends and sends both LBs they've flared out. Toussaint(-2) gets run over. Mags(-2) never reads the stunt and lets one DE fly by him untouched. Glasgow(-1) at least makes contact but also gets run over. Lewan again ends up doubling a DE when he should be singled up against someone so that the rest of the line can help. Butt beaten around the edge. (PR, N/A, protection 0/5, RPS -2). MSU blitzed looking for PA like this all the way.
O32 3 20 Shotgun trips inner stack 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Scramble Gardner 0
Five man shell behind six guys aligned oddly in the box. Gardner has a fine pocket since the two tackles end up singled and the rest of the line is concentrating on the other two guys, but can't find anyone and gets happy feet, scooting up in the pocket and getting himself in trouble by blowing up blocking angles. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(49), 3-0, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Ace twin TE twins 1 1 2 4-3 over Pass PA corner Funchess 25
Schofield LT, Kalis RG, Mags RT, Lewan super RT. Max pro, passive LBs, plenty of time and a nice pocket, Lewis on Funchess and that works out for M. Gardner's throw is a little short and high but I think that's not a bad idea given Funchess's existence. (CA, 2, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O40 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inverted veer Gardner -2
Funchess inline. This is not actually an RPS play; it's Bosch(-3) running by a blitzer on his pull and blocking air. Funchess(+1) actually adjusted to the blitz and bashed Bullough to the ground. Schofield(+1) had a nice second level block. RPS push; could have worked.
O42 2 12 Shotgun trips TE 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass Wheel Toussaint 2
Funchess still inline. M looking wheel/hitch, probably because Gardner screwed up presnap read. Three guys in narrow space against two. Michigan again blows a stunt pickup; Lewan(-1) and Bosch(-1) combine to let a guy through free. Gardner takes the checkdown despite it not being open. (CA, 3, protection 0/2, RPS -1). Nothing open at all here.
O40 3 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Okie two Pass Sack Gardner -11
This is the throwback screen that the entire MSU defense has dead to rights. I would normally file a pass like this TA because it's not immediate pressure but really Gardner has zero options. (PR, N/A, RPS -3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Scramble Gardner 3
I'll call this nickel with one of the LBs on the opposite hash and seven ish in the box. Green(-2) is in and has an airball as he attempts to pick up a blitzing Bullough; Bullough falls. Gardner has an opportunity to get a pass off but can't find Funchess wide, wide open on a circle route for the first down and instead takes off. To be fair there's just one dude in a ton of space. He gets cut down from behind as Magnuson's guy comes free. (TA, N/A, protection 1/3, Green -2)
M35 2 7 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Out Gallon Inc
MSU shows more aggressive and then backs into their usual. Bosch(-2) tackles his guy, drawing a holding flag. MSU has all these routes blanketed as there is zero reaction to the PA. Gardner throws wide of a very covered Gallon. Not sure if that's a throwaway or just a miss. With the guy on Gallon's back I think there is a window for him. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Bosch –2)
M25 2 17 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Sack N/A -1
IT'S A TRAP. MSU has seven in the box, apparently ignoring the slot. M checks. MSU checks, dropping their star LB into Funchess and blowing him up. Gardner's looking there, doesn't like it. Toussaint(-1) gets a cut that delays the DE but then he falls past him and can't do anything more. That guy pressures, MSU is in their lanes, sack. Gardner had a throw to Gallon for a couple yards as he adjusted to doom. (TA, N/A, protection 2/3, Toussaint -1)
M24 3 18 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 2 Okie two Pass Sack N/A -6
Six OL lineup. MSU again shoots Bullough into a deep zone just moments presnap. Kalis(-2) blows his pickup, blocking a DE headed inside and letting a linebacker zip past. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Down G IV counter Toussaint 2
Slot LB ripping down, no chance for Funchess to block him. He fills, forcing a bounce from Toussaint(+1), which pops outside the end Bosch is blocking and prevents a TFL; safety fills for a minimal gain. Butt(-1) whiffed on Bullough on the interior. RPS -2.
M11 2 8 Ace twins twin TE 1 1 3 5-3 over Pass PA Post Funchess Inc
Funchess inline. MSU loads up but a safety backs out late to eight yards and drops into a zone. M running flood to the short side; Funchess is bracketed deep, Butt covered short. Gallon is the read, and he's still relatively covered. Bullough is one on one with Fitz(-1), who blocks him sort of. Garner steps up and chucks one at Funchess, which is way short, so short that it seems he must have been hit or something. (BR, 0, protection 1/2  Toussaint –1)
M11 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide stack 1 0 4 Okie two Pass Post Funchess Inc
Funchess runs a great route that gets separation; Michigan protects it; Gardner chucks it wide. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, EO1Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Toussaint 9
The successful run. M goes zone read-ish, blocking the end. MSU sends two LBs inside of the gap between their end and the NT, M runs away from it. Bosch(+1) escorts a DT upfield out of the play. Glasgow(-1) sees that the LBs have exited the play and stays with the NT; he and Mags double there and they still lose the dude playside. Cumong. That's Toussaint's stutter. Chesson(+1) gets a good block on his press corner; Lewan(+0.5) got out on Allen. RPS +1.
M34 2 1 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run QB power IV counter Gardner 6
This works exactly as intended and still requires Gardner to break tackles to get some yards, because MSU S is at eight yards presnap. The inverted veer fake takes in the playside LB enough for Schofield(+1) get around and seal him inside. Lewan(+1) blows up the end; should be there. Butt(-1)'s block on the corner is ineffectual; S filling hard hard hard makes Gardner hesitate; he breaks a tackle(+1) to pick up a decent gain. Brutal.
M40 1 10 Ace twins stack 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA comeback Gallon 11
Near max pro; Paskorz does go out in a route. MSU sends five and Allen ducks inside so there's a pretty obvious outside lane for Gardner to step up in; he does so comfortably; Gallon hitches up and is open by yards, executed. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O49 1 10 Pistol twins FB 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Yakety snap N/A -20
Man on the WRs with only one S over the run side of the formation, and then the guy on the corner also blitzes. Holy pants. Snap way over Gardner's head, doom. Glasgow –4.
M31 2 30 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Run QB power IV counter Gardner 1
Again this looks like it's about to work when it does not. End tries to rip inside Schofield(+1), who constricts and controls him; Lewan pops outside. He's leading; S comes up and cuts him, getting into Gardner's legs and flipping him over. Great play; Gardner(-1) still should have been able to bounce outside here.
M32 3 29 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Okie two Pass Sack N/A -4 - 15 Pen
Gardner steps up like he wants to throw and hesitates and then he's in the middle of everyone and dies. Not the OL's fault this time, as they had contained MSU, but Gardner's lack of pocket awareness bites and his refusal to throw also does. Lewan(-3) picks up a PF afterwards. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-6, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 I-Form twins 2 0 2 4-3 over press Run Iso Toussaint -2
Six OL, man press from MSU. Bosch and Glasgow(+1) blow the NT way off the ball; Kerridge does an eh job on Bullough, who sort of comes through him at the LOS. Kalis(-1) has been shoved into the backfield and makes Toussaint(-1) hesitant to follow the play design, so he ends up cutting back unwisely, directly into Allen, who went nuts for the LOS on the snap because he had no TE threat. RPS –1.
M20 2 12 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Post Chesson 58
MSU seems to indicate blitz and backs out. They stunt on the right side of the line; Magnuson(-1) gets banged by the guy coming inside Schofield and actually turns around 360 degrees. Toussaint finds that guy late and does impede him a bit. Guy goes up the middle of the pocket, Gardner steps into it and throws. He's chucking it a bracketed Chesson; Lewis never gets around because the throw doesn't really let him, Chesson jumps over him and makes a nice downfield grab. (DO, 1, protection 1/2, Mags -1)
O22 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass PA Post Funchess Inc
Funchess inline. He gets matched up in man against Lewis and gets no separation. Lewis is coming under Funchess as the pass gets there and gets a PBU. Gardner probably could have put it higher up to give Funchess a chance. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
O22 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Bubble screen Funchess 8
MSU shows a blitz off the corner and actually sends the other guy. MSU's actually got three guys to the playside but they're looking in the backfield. They're not bugging out for a bubble since M has never shown this this year. (CA, 3, screen)
O14 3 2 Shotgun 2back 2TE 2 1 1 5-3 even Run False IV QB stretch Gardner -8
6 OL, Lewan and Schofield paired to the field. M runs a stretch with a false veer a la Denard last year; MSU annihilates this. Playside LB shoots the gab, Kerridge goes outside. DE is setting up out there as well. Gallon(-1) ends up going upfield into the hole as he tries to crack down. Toussaint might be able to cut that LB and then Kerridge might be able to get a block if Gardner(-1) can get around the DE; instead he tries to reverse field and gets buried. RPS -3.
Drive Notes: FG(39), 6-6, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass PA pop seam Funchess 13
Funchess inline. Run fake, LBs fire, small pocket between Funchess and the aggressive safety layer. Ball flutters out of Gardner's hands, forcing Funchess to spin around and pluck it out of the air; accurate enough. Also, a little more forgiving today because of the weather. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Toussaint 2
Full on RR with Funchess on a bubble route. DE stays outside, give. Bosch(-0.5) and Glasgow(-0.5) can't get much motion or control on the playside DT. Mags(-0.5) and Schofield don't get the backside guy either. No serious penetration; Toussaint cuts all the way back, where the DE comes down from contain to tackle.
M34 2 8 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Run PA pop slant Gallon Inc
MSU showing blitz, check. MSU also checks. They go from soft on the corners to press, M tries to throw a PA pop slant at Gallon that gets disrupted. It is wide, results-based. (IN, 0, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
M34 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide stack 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Out Gallon Inc
Near replay of the PSU INT where the slot guy is abandoned by the underneath player and he undercuts Gallon's route. That was a hitch, this is an out, DB can only get it off his fingertips. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, 8 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Toussaint 1
Double A blitz. Glasgow(-1) does immediately abort a double to attempt to address it but whiffs; not like it mattered as there were two guys for one blocker. M blocked an end instead of holding him with a zone fake and ended up having Bosch and Lewan double another guy. RPS -3.
M8 2 9 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass PA pop seam Funchess Inc
Funchess inline, this is a tip, Butt was the TE on the last play, cumong man. Bullough drops into the route and while the ball does get there this is really dangerous. Funchess drops it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1), RPS -1.
M8 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Rollout comeback Funchess Inc
Rollout time. Bullough ends up shooting a gap to get late pressure but it's enough for Gardner to get the ball off. Ball is late, giving the DB an opportunity to come back and impact Funchess the moment after he catches the ball awkwardly against his facemask. You want him to catch this but this is a two. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide? 1 1 3 4-3 over? Penalty Offsides N/A 5
MSU manages to jump offsides while we're looking at the sidelines.
M15 1 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass PA post Gallon Inc
Plenty of time this time as MSU sends four and M picks it up. Gardner does have to move around a little, but he's got a nice pocket. He looks deep to Gallon, who's got a guy with him but also has a an opportunity to be open if thrown open; Gardner misses. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M15 2 5 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Hitch Gallon -2
Quick PA hitch against press. DB all up in Gallon's business, he catches it momentarily and then loses it, refs rule it complete somehow and Michigan loses two yards. /waves punt flag. (CA, 1, protection 1/1) I am filing this as incomplete for receiverchart.
M13 3 7 Shotgun trips stack TE 1 1 2 3-3-5 nickel Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Slide protection gets everyone doubled except Calhoun on Toussaint(-1) who does a crappy job; Gardner(-1) then compounds matters by trying to flee and blowing up Fitz's blocking angle. (TA, N/A, protection 0/2, Toussaint -1, Gardner -1, RPS -1) Gardner is barely out of the tackle box and throws it as he goes down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Pistol 2TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read belly Gardner -5
Funchess inline. Double A blitz, again Michigan can't handle it with Magnuson(-2) getting blown by by a DT; Glasgow(-2) catches air, again 2 on 1. MSU is containing Gardner(-1); he pulls anyway. This was actually Belly, a play that should work great against this blitz since it hits backside quick and doesn't use those gaps but Michigan screws up the blocking so badly that Toussaint will get eaten. Gardner should just try to outrun the DE to the sideline but reverses field and turns a no gain play into a large loss. Why the hell is Michigan blocking this play like this when they get the double A they want and still let dudes tear through? Horrible. RPS -1? Yeah.
O46 2 15 Ace twin TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Sack N/A -9
Gardner turns back to LOS, Fitz goes for handoff fake, Fitz has to try to block rampant Bullough on another double A gap. This does not go well. (PR, 0, protection 0/5, Toussaint -1, Glasgow -2, Bosch -2, RPS -3). Compounding matters, Bosch and Glasgow lose their guys.
M45 3 24 Shotgun trips stack TE 1 1 2 3-3-5 nickel Pass Sack N/A -6
Bullough bailing out deep; five man shell with six sent. Toussaint(-2) gets smoked by Allen on his blitz. Bosch(-2) gets smoked on a stunt. Magnuson(-2) also gets smoked. Three guys meet at Gardner. (PR, 0, protection 0/6).
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, EO3Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass Hitch Funchess 4
Funchess inline. MSU sends a double A blitz and M actually picks it up. Funchess runs a short hitch that MSU still picks up and the gain is meh. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
M31 2 6 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass Fade Gallon Inc
Funchess inlnie again. Try a fade at Gallon, he's blanketed, throw is long anyway. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M31 3 6 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Scramble Gardner 5
Funch inline. Another blitz; picked up. Gardner looks like he wants to throw at Funchess again but Funchess isn't turning around; he pulls it down and moves out, breaking into the open. He has the first down easy but I don't know if he's just beaten down by life or screws up where the thinks the sticks are and ends up just short of the line. (SCR, N/A, protection 3/3, Gardner -1 run)
M36 4 1 Ace 3-wide 1 0 4 5-3 over tight Run QB sneak Gardner 1 (Pen +5)
They get it. MSU had 12 guys on the field anyway.
M41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Run QB draw Gardner 4
Have fun storming the castle. S at nine yards cuts it down as Gardner tries to get outside. Gardner(-1) should have gone more vertically, as that was where the block allowed him to go and popping outside is easy for the S.
M45 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel over Pass Rollout hitch Chesson 11
Magnuson(-1) driven back into Gardner's flight path, he has to pull up. He finds Chesson open in between a few guys in the zone, hits him, nice conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Mags -1)
O44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Scramble Gardner 3
Good protection; Gardner doesn't like what he's presented with and pulls it down to pick up a few yards. This leans to TA and since M is down 2.75 scores just throw it man. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O41 2 7 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass PA pop hitch Jackson Inc
This is a misread by Gardner on a great opportunity; it's a PA pop pass on which Funchess's short hitch gets undercut by Lewis, causing Gardner to go off it. Funchess then runs into wide open spaces a million years wide open with nothing between him and the goal line but grass. Gardner comes off of him to try a hitch to Jackson that's kind of covered sort of open and definitely overthrown. (BR, 0, protection 0/1, team -1) M unprepared to take advantage of opportunity.
O41 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Out Chesson 13
Six sent, MSU playing off, out is open, hit. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O28 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass PA pop hitch Funchess 9
M ignores the NT, because of a blitz threat or something. I guess? Toussaint does come off to block that guy as Gardner gets a very quick hitch off to Funchess. That keeps him away from the S and gets a small chunk of yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O19 2 1 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel over Run Inside zone Toussaint 4
Handoff actually made this time. DE held outside by Gardner. Schofield(+2) splats playside end. LBs hanging back because of all the pop passes. Bosch(-1) and Magnuson(-1) both whiff on second level blocks so Toussaint gets bashed just as he runs up Schofield's back. Glasgow(+1) got a good seal on the NT.
O15 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over Pass Yakety snap N/A -5
Gardner drops the ball as Toussaint runs by him to pick up a LB and knocks it out. Too many times to the well; Gardner was going to get buried either way. (PR, N/A, protection 0/1, Toussaint -1, RPS -1)
O20 2 15 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel over Pass Fade Gallon INT
Okay back shoulder fade I guess is the thing that gets called but this isn't getting completed either way as Dennard is all over it. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2).
Drive Notes: Interception, 6-22, 6 min 4th Q. Game is over when M gets ball back.

I should probably say something about how this feels like be flayed alive by acid or something.

I was expecting something along those lines.

I don't know, man, I just kind of put the second half on mute and didn't pay much attention. I didn't even get particularly excited when Taylor picked that ball off. I was just waiting for the end.

Progress. You are becoming an adult.

I don't feel like an adult. I feel nothing. I feel like I am wasting my time but am still chained to this miserable wreck, and that while none of this is my fault if I was a different person I would be happier.

That's adulthood.


Yeah, but you can vote?

I don't understand how it is possible to have your safeties playing as bonus linebackers for 60 minutes and not get dunked on from time to time.

It takes some cooperation from the opponent in the form of blown blitz pickups and missed reads. Michigan's first snap was a long completion; it should have been a blitheringly wide open touchdown.

Drummond bites hard and Funchess is alone, alone, alone.

Funchess was also blitheringly wide open for a touchdown on Michigan's final real drive, when the pop pass got jumped by a safety and Gardner came off Funchess instead of lofting it over the top for six points.

By that point, Gardner was probably trying to both play quarterback and prevent the pink weasels from eating the rest of his skin. There were also other instances in which Michigan was having a guy break open just as a Michigan State player was depositing his helmet in Gardner's chest, or ones on which Gardner did not see the guy for a fatal second or two.

So there were some opportunities. Whether Michigan had prepped Gardner to take advantage of all of them is questionable, especially on the pop pass.

Another part of it is that Michigan has zero play action out of their most dangerous running option: Gardner from the shotgun. Michigan got a second and one conversion in this game the hard way:

And that's a play that works. Michigan seals the edge. Then a safety ends up in Gardner's face at the LOS. That is no way to live. Whenever I bring this stuff up people say that they love the idea of getting a running back against a safety four yards downfield, but how about one? Is one a problem for you? Do I hear zero? If everything works out just right which it hardly ever does because football is hard and I find a safety in my grill before I break into the secondary, I am super not enthused by that. It's not 1970.

I appear to have started on yet another rant about 1970s football. I apologize. The point is: There has been no inverted veer, guy pulls play action all year. Michigan's play action does not actually simulate plays they run, so when they go PA and an MSU safety isn't hopped up on goofballs because it's the first play of the game, they just drop back into coverage, as they did on Chesson's double-covered long completion. The second potential Funchess TD is not a reaction to run action, it's a reaction to the previous pop passes they've run, and Michigan isn't even prepared to take advantage of that for reasons that may be Gardner but are also related to the fact that they don't run this pop pass enough to think about potential reactions to it and how to exploit them. Because they don't run anything enough to do anything, except "let's lose three yards on a run play."

YES this is another complaint about Michigan's offense not being coherent. Yes, I think it makes it easy for the opponent to look smart against it. It is what it is.

I've heard that Michigan just didn't execute.

They did not. This gets into a philosophical discussion about what the nature of a coach is: is it a person who sits around and says "well, you should execute and if you do not execute this is not my problem"? Is it reasonable that the players were not able to execute in this game, what level of responsibility do the coaches bear for that lack of execution, and can we just burn someone for heresy already? (You know. That sort of thing.)

Obviously, it is pretty hard to pick up stunts and blitzes from Bullough and Allen when you are a true freshman, a walk-on who switched positions midseason, and a redshirt freshman. I don't think we were expecting much different there. The fact that Michigan doesn't have one tailback who can pick up a blitz is damning, however, and at some point Michigan's quarterbacks looking confused consistently goes back to the QB coach.

And even though they're young, some of the OL issues still stick in my craw. Michigan still can't pick up a double A gap blitz to save their life, and when you're just running by guys, that's a problem. Maybe half of the Toussaint bitching after this game is excessive since Michigan was reduced to primitive slide protections that featured Toussaint blocking Calhoun and Taylor Lewan blocking nobody. Michigan ran that because they couldn't pick up seemingly any stunt MSU ran.

At some point, Michigan's insistence on running six OL out there reaches the level of farce. They don't have four OL. What the crap are you doing putting six out there? I mean, there are a lot of problems but you're just making them worse by flipping your 285 pound freshman RG to LT, except he's got Lewan outside of him, and then asking him to take on a DT. Magnuson can't move anyone, let alone a DT, Bullough is shooting the gap like a maniac because he knows for a fact that Lewan can't go downfield, and you have set you team up for failure:

It still doesn't work. And when you pass from it you aren't picking up anyone, possibly because the right guard is temporarily the left tackle and you just put a guy in cold off the bench. Precisely why Michigan was unable to pick up anything until the last drive (naturally) is unknown, but the constant realignment of the OL not only from week to week but from down to down is not helping.

The exception to this was the max-protect PA stuff, which did work for a little while despite the goofy lines. Probably would have worked just fine either way, though, and MSU's fix for that issue was making the linebackers more aggressive, not less—Michigan was not really working those linebackers but trying to get better pass blocking. I think, anyway. And Michigan got hammered by blitzes on those plays quite a bit.

The RPS number below is very bad, as are the other numbers. I think that is accurate. Michigan did not get anything easy save for one bust on the first play, and on many plays MSU had them dead before anyone on Michigan could screw up; they screwed up anyway. I mean, Youngstown State acquired more yards than Michigan did against MSU. WMU did. Purdue did. Failure this comprehensive indicts everyone.

But they weren't tough enough.

If you can define toughness into something that shows up on the field in ways other than flexing after plays made for reasons you don't understand, I'm listening. (I am not listening, because you're calling into Huge.) By the end of the game, Gardner had been worn down by the MSU defense, but how much of that was "toughness," whatever that might mean, and how much of it was bad technique and missed assignments from the OL?

Did Bosch not show requisite meanness on that play when he ran directly by a blitzer who then splatted Gardner? If he had shoved a sixth-grader in walk-through on Friday would he have not let a defensive tackle control his chest and then burst through the line like… all the time?

The sad thing is that Michigan was far away from making toughness a factor in this game. You can be the rootinest tootinest son of a gun west of the Pecos and it doesn't matter if you're watching MSU beat air to annihilate Gardner. Four about the fifth straight year Michigan State seemed like it was out-thinking Michigan.

All of this adds up to not a physical but a mental mismatch between the Michigan offense and the MSU defense. Part of this is youth, but part of it is Michigan trying to be all things and run all things with that young line.

And part of it is…?

Narduzzi generally eating Borges's lunch. On the two plays immediately following the Bosch airball above, Michigan threw a two-yard swing pass to Toussaint on the same wheel/hitch combo Michigan's run all year—MSU is all over it—and followed it with the most doomed throwback screen in the history of throwback screens:

At times it seemed like Narduzzi was calling Michigan's plays for them.

While the general structure of the gameplan was about all Michigan could do, it was disappointing that even after a bye week they had nothing that really caught MSU off guard. Even that new down G play discussed in picture pages was nerfed because Michigan was unprepared to run it against man coverage and then Narduzzi went T1000 on it. The six-man OL consistently saw MSU's LBs make the right read, whether it was to hold back on play action or bomb into the backfield on the run. That was part of the issue on the disastrous third and two: M goes tackle over, LB to that side of line bombs straight into the backfield.

Gallon's supposed to crack back on him and ends up chasing him all the way to Gardner. The consistency with which this happened makes it part of MSU's gameplan.

At some point someone is going to figure out that a big goddamn sign saying "we have no pass threat at this spot" is allowing teams to absolutely tee off on Michigan's run plays from this spot. That day is three weeks ago, and that someone is Penn State. The instant Michigan put that on film it became a disaster and they're still doing it.

Meanwhile, Michigan couldn't block the double A blitz to save its life until a couple of pass pro pickups on Michigan's final drive. Most of the time they left Glasgow alone against both LBs and saw Magnuson beat by a defensive tackle shooting outside of him. On this particular play they run a zone read without actually reading the end, eat a double A gap blitz, and are fortunate to cross the LOS:

[See footnote for aside]*

The one time they ran a play hoping to get a double A blitz and got it, Michigan still screwed it up, as Bullough's into the backfield so fast he'll TFL Toussaint on a handoff. And Lewis is filling behind anyway.

The number of plays M gets stuck in where they have no chance is alarming.

*[ASIDE: Oh man, the worst part of this is that MSU shows a corner blitz, backs out, Michigan runs the bubble, and the slot LB bugs out for it, removing himself from the box and giving Michigan an advantage if they just option a guy off on the read. Instead they block the backside end while running the constraint that should prevent that CB blitz that would allow the end to tear down the line at an inside zone. It's like watching a guy jamming a puzzle together no matter whether the pieces fit or not. "GODDAMMIT THIS IS PART OF CINDERELLA'S CASTLE I DON'T CARE IF IT HAS AN AUTOBOT ON IT."]

Did Michigan even try to get out of those?

Sometimes. Gardner saw this and checked into a quick throw to Funchess:


But MSU also checked and the end result was this:


Gardner took off for a minimal gain. There was another check on which Gardner saw MSU playing off Gallon and tried to check into a quick PA slant; MSU checked into press and knocked Gallon off his route.

Well, that's why Borges says he doesn't want to get into a chess match.

I wish Michigan was the team I thought would win a chess match. It sucks going into this game annually and expecting MSU to adapt while Michigan sticks its finger in its lip and goes brr-brr-brr. It took one newfangled run play for MSU to blitz it into oblivion, and it took one successful PA pop pass for MSU to almost tip the second one and threaten to intercept the third even if it leaves Funchess open for a TD, because Michigan doesn't understand what their potential responses to MSU's are. For years, MSU has been thinking three steps ahead of Michigan.

Sometimes this is hard and sometimes it's running a blitz up the middle when Michigan goes play action on second and fifteen with negative rushing yards on the day. When Michigan is consistently losing the mental battle that eventually goes back to the coaches.

I don't know, maybe it'll turn around next year. Maybe it really just is Denard not being fast enough mentally and Gardner not being fast enough mentally and having an offensive line that couldn't ID the MLB last year and can't do… anything this year and next year it'll seem a lot better. I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that is going to be the case.


Right, charts.

Devin Gardner 2012

Minnesota 3 7(1) 4 2(1) 2* 2 - 3 4 72%
Northwestern 4 16(2) 2 1 3* 2(1) 2(1) 2 5 79%
Iowa 3 16(4) - 2(1) 2 1 - 1 4 83%
Ohio State 3 11(1) 2 5* 2 1 - 3 2 65%
South Carolina 4 16(2) 2 8 3 4 - 2 2 57%

Devin Gardner 2013

Central Michigan 2 10(1)+ 1 1 2* - - 1 3 82%
Notre Dame 7+ 16(1)++ 4(1) 2 3* - 1 4 4 82%
Akron 3 14(2) - 5 3** 2 1 3 1 59%
UConn 2 13(1) 1 5*+ - 1 - 5 5 76%
Minnesota 4+ 7(1) 4 1 - - - 1 2 92%
Penn State 7+ 12(2) - 5+ 2** 3 1 4 4 66%
Indiana 5 18(3) 1 1 3 3 - - 5 78%
Michigan State 1 15(2) 1 5 4* 6 - 4 1 50%

Shane Morris

Central Michigan - 4 - 1 1* 1 - - - N/A

Gardner under siege, and his battered DSR reflects it. Gallon lock-on syndrome cost Michigan even though Funchess did get a ton of targets. One third-down PBU was a near-replica of one of PSU's interceptions:

And the final throw was pretty bad. Really hard to blame the guy because…

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 3.5 3 0.5 minus for PF. When relevant, blocked.
Bosch 1 4.5 -3.5 Lewan's fault.
Glasgow 2 8.5 -6.5 Minus four for snap. Also Lewan's fault.
Magnuson - 5.5 -5.5 My god Taylor Lewan is a terrible interior line.
Schofield 6 - 6 HOORAY BEER
Williams - - - DNP
Paskorz - - - DNC
Butt - 3 -3 Well what did you expect.
Kalis - 1.5 -1.5 Sigh.
Burzynski - - - DNP
TOTAL 12.5 26 32% Better than PSU.
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 1 5 -4 field reversals a bad idea.
Morris - - - DNP
Toussaint 1 1 0 Only eight carries
Green - - - DNC
Smith - - - DNP
Hayes - - - DNP
Rawls - - - DNP
Houma - - 2 DNC
Kerridge - - - DNC
TOTAL 2 6 -4 Made plays.
Player + - T Notes
Gallon - 1 -1  
Jackson - - -  
Chesson 1.5 - 1.5  
Reynolds - - - DNP
Dileo - - - DNP
Norfleet - - - DNP
Funchess 2 - 1 Much better as huge WR.
TOTAL 3.5 1 2,5 Indiana.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 46 35 57% Bosch –10, Toussaint –9, Magnuson-6, Glasgow –3, Green –2, Kalis –2, Gardner –1, Lewan –1, Team –1.
RPS 6 25 -19 Bye week wooooo

I should point out that even that miserable protection number doesn't quite encompass the horror of the day for Gardner. On MSU's last drive Michigan picked up three minuses to 12 pluses. Before that they were barely above 50/50 on getting their QB killed. Note that a few plays featured nearly unprecedented 0/5, 0/6 rankings as multiple players got swarmed, leaving Gardner snowed under even after he escaped the first guy, once the first two guys.

So. That's all obviously real bad. Michigan was bad at doing many things and the playcall matchups were often putting Michigan in terrible places from the start, like say running play action on second and fifteen with negative rushing yards on the day. That is what the RPS number tries to reflect: on how many plays did the two playcalls make M's job easier and on how many did it make it tougher? In this game that battle went to MSU in a landslide, and while that's because Michigan was selecting from a limited set of plays and they missed a couple opportunities, anyone disputing that Pat Narduzzi owns Al Borges has an incredibly difficult argument to make.

With fail this holistic the only thing to do is move on, quickly.


[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
Gallon 4 1/2   3/3   24 3/4 9/11 38/41
Jackson 1         3 0/1   5/5
Reynolds           2 0/1 1/1 2/2
Chesson   1/1   2/2   3 1/3 1/3 8/9
Dileo           3 1/2 1/1 6/6
Norfleet           1     3/3
Funchess 2 0/1 2/3 3/4   9 1/3 5/7 22/24
Butt           1 0/2 0/1 6/6
Williams           1      
Toussaint           1     5/5
Hayes       1/1         1/1
Houma                 1/1

Gallon is Gallon but had a lot fewer opportunities to do things; Funchess was good but dropped a couple items.


He performed okay, displaying that combination of size and route-running that makes him so appealing. The size:

The route-running:

But he failed to separate on a few plays that ended up as PBUs and dropped some balls he could have had. He was under considerable duress on a couple of them. It was not the pantheon performance we were hoping for.


Yes. Well.


A salute to Michael Schofield is in order. You, sir, came out without a pass protection or run blocking minus in the midst of that. Also… Gallon. And Gardner, if only for not dying on us.

Not so heroic?

Everyone not name Schofield was overrun, except Lewan, and Lewan had a bad personal foul and something else besides he was lucky not to get ejected for. Borges should stop telling Narduzzi what he's going to run every play.

What does it mean for Nebraska and the future?

Duck. OL problems are here to stay. May not matter against Nebraska, at least not so much.

Chesson's developing a bit. Also Funchess keeps moving towards really good huge WR.

Drinking. Be prepared for the OSU game.



November 7th, 2013 at 4:49 PM ^

The Titanic analogy did make me think hard about what I wrote...   but I don't think that analogy completely fits....  if the interior were strong, that'd have given Gardner the time to get his passes off deep.... something that small could made all the difference in the world.

Recall in the Super Bowl when the Giants DL just crushed the Pats OL, just enough that Brady couldn't get the ball off, then became very rattled...  thats exactly whats happening now to Gardner....  having Schofield on the interior could make all the difference....   Braden or Magnuson should be able to handle RT, heck, thats what they were recruited for.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 9:27 PM ^

Is probably at LG as a full-time starter, most likely in a more pass friendly offense. He has good feet, does a good job getting set in his pass drop, gives a strong pop, but sometimes struggles a bit more laterally and in space on the edge.

Probably the biggest thing that will help him make an NFL team, though, is the fact that as a reserve he can likely be plugged in at either position. So he's a good roster guy because you can put him at either OG spot or RT and move pieces around to keep as much of your OL the same as possible. IMO, that's how he'll survive in the NFL as a young player before he gets a shot to move into a starting lineup or moves on from football.

That said, I still think playing him at RT is best for his pro prospects. Very difficult for a non-mauler type guard to be drafted as a guard. Most move inside from OT as college players, which helps them more in pass pro as the interior defenders get faster, quicker, and more skilled.


November 7th, 2013 at 5:05 PM ^

"That would be a disservice to Schofield, whose NFL prospects are best if he's showing what he can do at tackle. "


As a coach (and hopefully a player) you choose what is best for the team, not what is best for an individual players career after he leaves the team.


The team exists to win games, not burnish Schofield's resume.




November 7th, 2013 at 5:32 PM ^

You don't want other schools going into the living rooms of OT recruits and saying, "Michael Schofield could have been drafted in NFL as a tackle, but Michigan made him play guard as a senior, so his stock went way down." 

It's easy to say, "The team, the team ,the team...," but you're dealing with young men's lives, young men who are making Michigan a hell of lot more money than they're being paid in scholarships and food.  You don't switch Schofield to guard so that you can have one less sack against MSU, and I don't even concede that would have been the result.  You could have had one more sack - or three more. 


November 7th, 2013 at 6:29 PM ^

Yeah, I've been the one saying that. I think its a really tough spot to be in. You don't want to hurt the potential future earnings of a kid that has worked his ass off for you. You also think he might help you more at another spot. To make matters worse, the guy is a senior.
Remember when we moved Gardner to wideout? In the first presser post-switch, Borges assured everyone it was only temporary. This is because I'm sure the move back was promised to Gardner so that he'd go for the switch. Same thing for moving Marlin Jackson to safety as a junior. We moved him back to his NFL position as a senior.

That aside, if the coaches were certain that a change would help, they'd move him. Nothing is more important than winning


November 7th, 2013 at 6:58 PM ^

Yeah. It means nothing to me. I didn't play football for Michigan like you did.

I'm not even advocating in favor of it you nitwit. I'm just saying it happens all the time. Its a "dirty" part of the business. You have to take care of the guys who give you 4-5 years of blood, sweat, and tears. If you don't, you get a bad name amongst players. And this does not help the program.

I was asked to change positions. I did it. But when I did, I told the coach that the team, the team, the team can go fuck itself because I hate it. Of course, I wasn't an NFL prospect.


November 7th, 2013 at 8:14 PM ^

Mr holier than thou. Just say I have been a season ticket holder for 30 plus years. So ve seen a lot. No I didnt play but I have seen many players change positions to help the team. Sometimes in their SR yr when injuries happen, often on the O line. Not sure your point but if u r good nfl scouts will notice. Back in the day many backups would get drafted among the top 20 teams.


November 7th, 2013 at 8:41 PM ^

Yeah. Sometimes. Sometimes they don't move for the reasons stated above. I'm not holier than anyone. But I just tried to interject a little first-hand knowledge into the situation, and you pissed on it. Thus is fine, I'll just piss back. It can be a real piss-fest around here.

And good NFL scouts will get the good ones. This does not mean that 22 year old potential millionaires will be gung ho about a move that might cost them potential earnings. This could lead to bigger problems with morale. That is the issue here. Not whether you are I have better seats at the stadium.


November 7th, 2013 at 9:46 PM ^

you called me a nitwit.  and i can recall many examples to refute you.  but here is one big one.  a guy named M Allen played at USC; damn good RB.  his coaches said, hey, we will be better if you play FB and block for a guy named C White.  you know what, Allen did and the team was better for it.  he then went on to run the ball pretty damn well at HB for USC.  and perhaps, it may have raised his draft status, who knows for sure.  imagine NFL scouts thinking, hey, this dude can run pretty damn well, but he also can block a little bit.  now, imagine if NFL scouts think a guy can play guard or tackle; versatility.  now, i'm not advocating moving schofield, but to say the coaches won't do for draft reasons is just absurd to me.  but i guess you feel differently.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 7:57 PM ^

Is enough to take this team from where it is on the OL to a team with a BCS level OL, then I don't know what to tell you. And I'm an advocate of having at least one strong side of the OL (though I recognize the downside as well and why the coaches wouldn't want), but I'm not crazy enough to think it would fix this unit.


November 7th, 2013 at 8:07 PM ^

Well, I said nothing of the sort, but even then, you are oversimplifying things to such a degree that someone might question your intelligence.

Lets say moving Schofield to guard is the only difference between this team as it is in reality and this team playing for a BCS bowl. What if the move makes Schofield unhappy and his play suffers? What if he outright refuses to move? What if the potential move offends him and he starts to be a problem in the locker room? What if he makes the move without any reservations and it doesn't help the team?

This is not an Xbox game. These are people. These things happen. I know because I have seen them. I understand your desire for a better product. I share it. This offensive line has literally kept me up at night, and I'm nothing but a stupid old timer on the internet. But you do not have the answers. Accept it.

Or just make stuff up.


November 7th, 2013 at 4:22 PM ^

A colonoscopy. You knew it was coming and you were mentally prepared for it. But, no matter how much you prepared yourself for it, in the end, you are still taking one right up the ass.


November 7th, 2013 at 4:20 PM ^

Brian....thanks for the positive remarks....been playing hard this year...

2014 NFL Draft: Updated Big Board, Version 8.0

Has Michael rate the #57 player in the dradt...big surprise to some.....some sites have him as high as #51.....the bad play by the line has not stoped Michael and Taylor from impressing NFL Scouts.....


November 7th, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

Brian graded the O-Line so highly because it fits his agenda about Borges.  If the Line blocked okay, it must be the play calling.

And for the first time, I don't even care. 

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 4:36 PM ^

6 OL is and obvious run tip. Fitz picks up 0 yards. RPS - 2

Next time Michigan goes 6 OL. Play action with plenty of time for 25 yard gain. RPS +1.

Funchess in line. They run. RPS push.

Funchess in line, obvious pass tip. They hold the LB long enough on PA to get a pop pass as it's designed. Funchess drops it. RPS -1

MSU blitzing on 3rd and long, Michigan runs a screen that MSU sniffs out. RPS -3.

Michigan gains 2 yards running. RPS -2

False inverted veer that isn't a false inverted veer because look at how Lewan isn't trying to seal and how the FB is trying to arch block (hint: DG should have handed off, it's why they put the FB in there to contain the edge to prevent a CB blitz into this to mess up DG's reads). RPS -3

Zone read that isn't a zone read near the end zone that 1 yard. They aren't trying to read the DE. This is an option for the bubble, they are reading the backside corner and blocking the DE so he doesn't get in DG's face if they throw the bubble. RPS -3

Michigan gets what they want on the belly but the blocking breaks down. RPS -1

Then RPS -1 on the botched PA where DG fumbled the ball.

I get that the offense didn't do well. But you are giving massive RPS negative for plays that aren't massively bad. You also are giving RPS negatives for plays that are potentially bad, but not doing the same for plays that are potentially good, like the ones where receivers are breaking open up the pass pro breaks down.

A results based charting has gone very none-results based with the RPS number.


November 7th, 2013 at 4:49 PM ^

"Michigan was bad at doing many things and the playcall matchups were often putting Michigan in terrible places from the start, like say running play action on second and fifteen with negative rushing yards on the day. That is what the RPS number tries to reflect: on how many plays did the two playcalls make M's job easier and on how many did it make it tougher?"

Apply that to, for example:

"MSU blitzing on 3rd and long, Michigan runs a screen that MSU sniffs out. RPS -3."

Edited to add: you don't have to necessarily lose 15 yards for a play to result in a RPS-3; for example; Brian's handed out RPS+2 on playcalls that resulted in only 2 yards, but the playcall put them in position to succeed. Example:


M25 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel over Run Inverted veer keeper Gardner 2
Kalis(-2) gets shed easily by the NT, on a down block. Bryant(-2) whiffs entirely on a linebacker who is getting cracked down on by Dileo and has only one direction he can go. Those two combine to tackle. RPS +2; this should have broken large. 

That's my understanding of it in theory anyway.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 4:58 PM ^

That was a bad play that resulted in bad things. It makes sense to me that it got the number it did because that's how RPS is supposed to work. Really bad play gets more yards than a bad play. 

But if MSU is blitzing often on 3rd and long (and they do on film as well, I understand at this point they hadn't often in this game, but they already were blitzing a ton), a good way to do that is to roll out, get them chasing, and have a throw back screen. It's Borges anticipating what MSU will do, which everyone is complaining about Borges not doing. Now, I had a problem with that play too, it was where Fitz was lined up. But if DG continues his roll farther, then Rush continues to chase (watch and see Rush turn back only a yard past Fitz when he sees DG turn and look). They play was snuffed out by the defense, they made the read, they felt the release and saw the QB. But that's not because Borges made a bad play call or because Narduzzi called a play to eat up the throwback screen. It's because MSU's defense had the recognition and read the keys and closed down on the play. It's the right play call and Michigan got out executed. Blame the coaches for the execution, that's fine. But then why is it RPS -3.

And he has kind of done it in the past, as by your example. But why in this game was RPS potential only applied in the negative direction?

I hate to act like I'm just ripping this whole thing to shreds, I just honestly don't understand what is supposed to be a fairly objective criterea. To me, this game screamed UM doing what they had to try to do and the skill not being their from Michigan (pass protection for the most part). Brian even admits the game plan was what it had to be. Yet the game plan ended up minus ~30 or whatever


November 7th, 2013 at 5:43 PM ^

I always get something from his take on games.  That said, I think he sometimes sees games a little too much from the viewpoint of a hypothetical coach who can control all or at least adjust for all, like someone pulling puppet strings.  I think he misses the fact that sometimes eleven guys just kick another eleven guys' asses.  That sounds so small and cliche, but it's true. 


November 7th, 2013 at 5:59 PM ^

I think you make some valid points, and maybe you are being more specific than I'm about to, but the main point is that the offense is being way too predictable.  I think the RPS represents well (on the grand scale) that Narduzzi owned Borges, and has since Borges was M's coordinator.  I think this staff did a lot of things well in 2011, but I think a lot of us would trade initial growing pains for this staff to teach simpler schemes offensively, which is to say establish a base that you do well and build counters and constraints off of that base.  This doesn't have to be spread, and is almost always something the offense does with limited success early on, but gets better at consistently.

My biggest complaint about this offense from the day this staff took over until now has been how they try to do something but then they second guess and second guess until they are doing nothing well.  I'm not saying that the idea isn't to be more creative or that the coaches aren't doing their best to develop their players, but that the process is counter intuitive and that it is undermining what they are trying to do.

Just my 2 cents. 

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 6:50 PM ^

Especially as far as the run scheme. I think they should have started with power blocking and tried to ride it out from the start (as the vast majority of their blocking schemes utilize power blocking schemes). But I also understand why they started with stretch. They had two good TEs and a center that was consistent but could really only do a zone system (or they had a center that was somewhat of a liability). I still thought they should have stuck with one thing, but I understand why they tried something else.

I think they're continually trying to run that identity, but with a weak OL it's difficult to do much of anything. They are trying to protect them (get an extra OL in there to help them as much as they can, 7 man blocking schemes, throw back screen), but you can only do so much without completely overhauling everything and starting from scratch again (and even then it's difficult). That's my issue with it.


November 7th, 2013 at 6:38 PM ^

Or it could be the fact that Michigan doesn't have a play that sets up that screen and once it's on film it's obvious what they are going to do.  Michigan doesn't have a straight sprint out pass and only uses this action on the throwback screen.  It's not hard to imagine State had practiced for this action and knew it was coming.  I understand you are trying to explain away all of the Borges hate with examples of poor execution but at what point do you say "if I know what play is coming watching the game, what is an excellant d-coordinator thinking.  Maybe if Michigan actually ran a spring out pass the throw back screen would work more often and against good offenses instead of the few times it works the first few times they run it and against bad defenses. 


November 7th, 2013 at 6:49 PM ^

The answer is zero. Zero times have I looked at the screen and knew what the play was just by alignment. I've had hunches, but they have been wrong as often as they've been right. The difference is that those few times when they are right, I jump up and down, flail my arms about, and tell everyone near me that I just knew it was coming and Borges is a fool.

You don't know either. Stop pretending. Your point about this roll action is a damn good one though. I wish you'd just stick to that rather than torpedo it with other, wrong stuff.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 6:53 PM ^

Michigan has trips to the roll side. They sprint out to trips actually probably on average over once a game. They run bunch sets to it. They run levels concepts to it. They run flood routes to it. They run triangle concepts with it. I'm pretty sure those are all things they've done this year. To say that they never sprint out from shotgun is absolutely false. They do, and I know they have because I've advocated for more of it because the success they've had when they've done it.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 7:17 PM ^

Pulled up 4 random UFRs: CMU, ND, PSU, MSU (this one)

Borges ran sprint outs to a 3 man side

CMU: Once

ND: Twice - 1st and 10 for a TD on a back shoulder fade. 3rd and 4ish to Gallon in the flat on a triangle concept.

PSU: Twice - 3rd and 9ish on a hitch to Funchess. 3rd and 14 on a post-wheel concept.

MSU: Twice - 3rd and 9 hitch from Funchess. 2nd and 6 comeback from Chesson.


He's thrown the throw back screen maybe 3-4 times this year. In four games he did the sprint out to trips from shotgun 7 times. If he did it more people would call it predictable (except that he's also had straight drops from this look, he's also run draws from this look, he's also ran inside zone from this look). So what's the tendency here? On roll outs alone he ran at least 5 different plays not including the throw back from this same exact set up (sprint out), let alone all the other plays they've run from this 3 receivers to the field from gun.

This is what is funny about this place. They complain that things are obvious after the fact. 6 OL is obvious run... except when they passed from it several times this game and against Indiana and against PSU. Funchess inline is obvious pass... except when they run the ball with him in line (then it's bad because you're asking Funchess to block). People complain pistol means veer option... except when they run the pop pass, or zone stretch, or speed option.

Look, all formations and personnel groupings have strengths, especially when you have a young OL (so they tend to need help in pass protection) and young TEs (so they struggle being more diverse). But people keep claiming this stuff is obvious, yet Borges has run a bunch of different looks. No, I don't believe Borges is tipping his hand any more than any other OC, in fact, he might be doing it less outside of 1st down in the 1st half of PSU. People just claim he is after the fact when they run something and people go "see, I knew that's what he'd run there, so predictable!"


November 7th, 2013 at 10:23 PM ^

fitz has now caught 7 passes.  now if you are a DC, are you really worried about UM throwing to fitz?  or just keep crashing on DG.  like i said, i wouldn't be worried about being RPS'd on just one play to fitz.  i would keep bringing the house down on DG.  they did.  and it worked.


November 8th, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

I think Michigan needs to run more half rolls to protect Gardner from the interior offensive line. This was something I liked about Rodriguez's passing offense with Denard. Run a half roll and make it an easy read for Gardner. It does likely take away some of the backside routes, but Gardner has the arm strength to throw back the other way on occasion.

Space Coyote

November 8th, 2013 at 11:02 AM ^

I like the half roll to the trips side with some bunch formation concepts. Get some rub routes, get easy reads on the same level against a more simplified defensive look, and shorten the throws a bit. Worry about teams blitzing into it, but give him a lead blocker and there should be some quick throws out of it to help get around that.


November 7th, 2013 at 8:09 PM ^

I've never seen Borges even pick up a football, much less throw a throwback screen.

He has called a ton of throwback screens, if that's what you're asking. Almost all of them to Gallon/Vincent Smith.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 7:21 PM ^

And yeah, it tends to be to the RB, because, you know, that's how the play works. How many times did you see Rich Rod throw a bubble screen? It's a constraint play, right? He ran is when teams cheated inside. That's great, that's what it's designed for.

Well, Michigan runs a sprint out quite often, and uses the throw back screen as a constraint play. But yeah, I guess it's obvious, what with the 7+ other plays they've run to a 3 receiver side to the field from a sprint out look. I guess once every 5 times is obviously tipping it.

People complain if he didn't run it because "he wasn't proactive". People complain when he does run it because "it's obvious". The only common thread in this line of thinking that has any truth is that people complain.