Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian November 20th, 2013 at 7:02 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Northwestern stuck to a 4-3 virtually the entire game, with pretty predictable rules as to how they would line up.

4-3-even-slide 2

When Michigan aligned its strength to the short side of the field and had twins, NW would slide the LBs and play an even front. They would slide the LBs to the twins and shift their line to the strength of the formation when M aligned with their strength to the field.

When Michigan presented Ace, they would play a 4-3 under.


The primary exception to this was the redzone, where Northwestern played their safeties as extra LBs.


Five yards off the LOS and coming on the snap is why those two Derrick Green carries from around the ten ended up losing yards. The first one was actually blocked quite well.

Note that the way NW aligned consistently invited the bubble fake run game, as their corners played off and the slot LB had to respect the bubble. With a safety over the top those two guys removed three players from the box and left Michigan with seven on seven blocking opportunities without having to use the threat of Gardner's legs. It will still work if teams play Michigan like this; if they don't Michigan will have to find something else.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: QB, WR, and the OL were all as you would expect. Dileo seemed to return full strength in this one and this meant Jackson was removed. Paskorz got some early PT but it was Williams most of the way as inline blocky guy. The line remained Lewan/Bosch/Glasgow/Magnuson/Schofield save for some goal line plays on which Kalis game in at RG and weird stuff happened otherwise, like wing TE Taylor Lewan.

Running back was of course an overhaul, with Derrick Green getting the bulk of the work, De'Veon Smith becoming a 30% second, and Justice Hayes acting as a third down back sometimes. Joe Kerridge also got a few snaps as a running back in the shotgun on passes.

[After THE JUMP: wherein we seem relatively happy with nine points in regulation.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 ??? Pass Rollout hitch Gallon 17
Kerridge the RB. M rolls the pocket to the right; Gallon sits down on a hitch that the NW coverage is not prepared for. This is an advantage of the rollout, as this throw ends up shorter and if you're not prepped for it you are not able to tackle on the catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M46 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even slide Pass Bubble screen Funchess 13
This isn't actually an outrageous shade by the LB; he's just a yard inside of Funchess about five yards off the LOS. He reacts, too; Funchess(+1) just outruns him to the corner. Gallon(+0.5) got a good block and the corner plays this poorly so Funchess gets a big chunk instead of 5-6. No RPS; should have been a five yard gain or so. (CA, 3, screen)
O41 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Green 8
Two safeties deep, though one comes down slowly presnap. This is not exactly dominating blocking. Bosch doesn't get push and ends up standing up with his OL at the LOS; call that a +0.5?. Kerridge(+1) initially looks to be attacking outside that block and then comes back in; Kerridge's initial path was enough to get a linebacker flowing up in a gap that Green is cutting behind. Play design or on the fly adjustment? Don't know. Green cuts back as well; space for intended hole is not there as Mags gets a push from Glasgow but doesn't step around his guy and also just kind of stands up with him. Guy flows to the interior; Mags(+0.5) does maintain contact and push him past his desired point like this is a zone. Green(+1) cuts back behind this, which is available because Schofield(+1) and Williams(+0.5) kicked their guys out with authority, though Williams's guy seems to be hardly trying. Safety cuts Green down after a nice gain.
O33 2 2 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 under Run Iso Green 3
Mags(+0.5) gets an easy backside kick on a guy trying to be in the gap to the outside; he stands his ground. Kerridge(+0.5) impacts an ILB; Glagsow(-0.5) has hit the NT with Bosch and now comes off to also pop that guy; should have found the other LB. Bosch is a little fortunate the NT isn't coming off the block to the inside but he's not sure what the play is and keeps burrowing away; Green(+0.5) makes a slight cutback and leaps through the mess of bodies previously described to get the first down as the other ILB tackles from the side.
O30 1 10 Ace twins H 1 2 2 4-3 even slide Pass Scramble Gardner 8
Williams in motion as H with Butt inline. This is a straight up pass on which Gardner first looks at Butt/Williams. Bizarre. Slide protection gets Green one on one with NW's best rusher; he halts, possibly worried about getting out of his lane, and then just as he goes by Green Gardner bugs out. I guess that's not a minus. Gardner's(+1) got a gap and a nice gain. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
O22 2 2 I-Form Big 3 1 1 5-4 under Run Power O Green 3
Houma a wing TE. This ends up weird. Williams(+1) shoves the playside end inside and extends to the backside ILB; NW is slanting away and those LBs are coming hard so that's pretty good. Houma(-1) engages SAM, then lets him go as one of the LBs flashes past him; Kerridge flares out to the force guy overhanging the slot. Bosch(+0.5) pulls around and blocks the LB coming through Houma's block; Green(+1) steps through the attempted tackle of the guy Houma left and keeps his feet moving as he hits the back of Bosch/Houma, driving through that traffic for a first down.
O19 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 5-4 under Run Iso Smith 7
Similar to the first iso with Bosch(+0.5) just barely kicking out one DT and Kerridge(+1) headed inside. Kerridge's initial motion takes the LB outside, though not as much as last time, and he picks him off to seal. Glasgow(+1) pops the other DT to help Mags and extend to the other LB. Mags(+0.5) almost loses it but maintains contact and drives his guy. Smith(+0.5) makes a nice step inside the Bosch block to follow Kerridge and squeezes between that and Glasgow for a nice gain. Schofield(+0.5) had another nice kick to create a large lane.
O12 2 3 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even slide Run Inside zone Smith 5
NW blitzes off the corner; M picks it up with Glasgow(+1) and Schofield(+1) latching on to guys slanting backside and Williams adjusting to pop the blitzer. That's the gap for Smith(+0.5) to find and cut into; blitzer then sheds Williams easily and comes down to tackle, with Mags's guy helping out because now there's no blocking angle. Funchess(-0.5) kind of whiffed on a block of the corner, so this is as much yardage as you get.
O7 1 G I-Form 2 1 2 4-5 under Run Zone stretch Green -2
Straight up nine in the box with Funchess and Gallon singled. Gardner checks... to this. There's no way he has a run pass option, then. The line then... blocks this great. Lewan(+2) seals and buries the end. Glasgow(+1) gets around the tackle with help from Bosch. Bosch is delayed on his exit by a hold by the NT; no call, refs -1. He hits the backside LB but should get the frontside one; Kerridge finds the playside guy and seals him. Nice gap for Green, filled by a safety who started the play four yards off the LOS. RPS -2.
O9 2 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-5 even Pass Scramble Gardner 1
Worthless play action on second and long, how I hate you. This gets a LB in Gardner's face the instant he turns around and Butt is doubled short. Gardner evades a sack and then picks up what he can. (PR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS -2)
O8 3 G Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Pass Scramble Gardner 0
This one is bad. Funchess should be the primary read here and while it looks like he is stymied by a grabby DB, he does get inside position and there's a window. By the time it opens up Gardner has already bailed on the play and is running around. There did seem to be a brief moment in which he could have popped through the line, but it closed quickly. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(25), 3-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass PA Hitch Funchess 11
One high with man on the outside; Williams your TE. Michigan runs PA by pulling a guard and then hitting Funchess on a little hitch; CB jumps the route and almost gets a hand on it. He doesn't, so Funchess has an opportunity for YAC. Uh... results-based. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M37 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even slide Run Inside zone Green 5
Zone read gets extended doubles on the two DTs, who get blown back. Mags(+0.5) and Schofield(+0.5) drive their gentleman downfield with Schofield popping off on a linebacker. Bosch and Glasgow(+0.5) do the same to the other DT but both guys pop off on the LB; looks like that is Bosch's mistake. No minus because they did get that guy well off his post before letting him go. Green gets forced inside by the unblocked end, but liberal application of power for an extended period is worth some yards.
M42 2 5 Ace twins H 1 2 2 4-3 even slide Pass Throwback WR screen Gallon 6
Butt and Williams flip from one side of the line to the other, then Butt motions to H. Lewan gets bumped inside as he tries to release and can't get out. Chesson(-0.5) initially misses his block but does come back to reconnect after a Gallon(+1) juke; Gallon goes by. With inside pursuit and a S coming down without any OL lead guys, Gallon goes down just past the sticks. (CA, 3, screen)
M48 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even slide Run Bubble iso Green 7
Bubble fake into a plain old iso. Bubble fake eliminates the slot LB, so it's seven on seven until the S gets involved. Schofield(+1) blows his end out and upfield for a nice gap. Mags(+1) and Glagsow(+1) blow back the playside DT. He fights playside, Mags goes with him and Glasgow disconnects to hit the backside ILB, which is... just enough. Playside guy eliminated by Keridge(+0.5); Bosch(+0.5) does just enough on the backside guy; Green makes his cut and gets to the S, who takes him down. RPS +1?Okay.
O45 2 3 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under Run Iso Smith 1
Glasgow(+1) blows one DT over for Mags(+0.5) to seal; he's almost pancaked. Glasgow then gets to an LB a couple yards downfield and fends him off. Houma(-1) ends up going high and bringing little momentum to his block, and the other ILB fights inside into the lane. Smith(-0.5) should cut back away from that as close to Magnuson's hip as he can and just take the hit from the side there but instead tries to hit it up behind that block. He does flash that constant feet pumping as he does this. Bosch(-0.5) is also an issue here because he's not getting his guy to move at all.
O44 3 2 Goal line 2 2 0 Goal line Run Down G boot Gardner -2
Lewan your wing TE, with Butt and Williams inline. Butt is playside. Lewan(-1) screws up his assignment, taking a false step inside that he can't recover from and ending up eating the SAM in the backfield. Since that SAM is headed for Gardner this is pick your poison. Gardner still has a lane because the guy who is force goes way upfield on Kalis's pull; Gardner cuts up, and the backside end, who did nothing but run his ass off at Gardner from the start of the play, tackles from behind before a second guy, who Lewan might be blocking, comes in to finish. RPS –3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even slide Pass In Funchess Inc
Gardner doesn't like Funchess's route, pumps on it, and then throws it, which is death, and nearly an INT. To be fair an unnecessary slide protection had put Kerridge(-1) on a DE and had Lewan(-1) blocking no one forever even as that DE dives inside Kerridge, so Gardner gets a guy in his face. There was no one open on this, all short stuff that's covered. (BRX, 0, protection 0/2). RPS -1; this was just a bunch of covered dudes.
O48 2 10 Shotgun trips stack 1 1 3 4-3 even slide Run Zone read keeper Gardner 0
Gardner keeps and it seems like a reasonable idea but it doesn't work out. Afterwards I don't know if Gardner has the quick screen option here but if he does he needs to take it. End shuffles down and is in position to force the keeper to the sideline and Butt's block on the edge is basically one where the D gets to pick a side; D picks outside, Gardner is out of options. Well played by NW.
O48 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Improv Funchess Inc
Blitz overwhelms the OL as they don't understand where they should be. Bosch(-2) is the main culprit, as he picks a guy late and lets him through; Kerridge was forced to abort his pickup and got run over himself. Gardner steps up through that pressure and is almost sacked but still keeps his feet. He needs to get rid of it and throws what is probably a real bad idea of a pass a Funchess, which gets batted down. If not batted probably a PBU. (BA, 0, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 11 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even slide Pass Rollout hitch Funchess 13
Another rollout gets Gardner the corner. He pumps to Funchess, sees if that draws up the corner so he can hit Dileo deeper, and sees that he cannot. So he goes back to Funchess, who's standing right on the sideline. Linebacker could be running under this now but held up as he neared the sideline so there's a window there. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O41 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even slide Pass Traditional screen Hayes 5
Traditional old screen. PA fake, linemen leak out, toss to RB. Bosch(-2) takes a way too vertical path and allows the one LB with much hope to do anything about this to go upfield of him right into Hayes. Otherwise, yards. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
O36 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even slide Run Bubble iso Green 2
NW plays this aggressively to the playside and Green ends up cutting back behind Lewan. Paskorz(-1) and Butt(+0.5) have successfully comboed the end and gotten Paskorz to the second level, where he's set up to wall off the backside overhang corner. This becomes relevant with the Green cutback, and that guy comes under Paskorz to initiate a tackle on what is otherwise a first down. Glasgow(+0.5) and Mags(+0.5) had really blown one DT out; Bosch(-0.5) and Lewan(-0.5) didn't get much movement on the other so Green's cutback is awkward and slow. RPS +1; this should have gotten the first down easily.
O34 3 3 Shotgun 2-back twins 2 1 2 4-3 even slide Pass Wheel Green Inc
Blitz from NW that is picked up. Gardner bobbles the snap and has to take his eyes off downfield momentarily; he then throws a wheel route that a linebacker is screaming for with a wide open Jake Butt in the middle of the field. (BRX, 0, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(51), 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA out Gallon 16
Safeties both inside ten yards with one creeping forward on the snap. M takes advantage, with Gallon running a ten yard out; a DE is dropping to this but can't get to it. Gallon catches, nice yardage. (CA, 3, protection 2/2). No RPS as this was a smallish window thanks to the DE.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even slide Pass Bubble screen Funchess Inc
NW blitzes the slot LB, who leaps and gets a finger on the pass. Funchess can't adjust to the new trajectory; Chesson(-1) has lost the filling S but this was still probably some variety of gain. (BA, 2, screen)
M29 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA out Gallon Inc
Very similar to most recent out, down to the ball going over dropping end; this one is right on the money and hits Gallon in the hands; dropped. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M29 3 10 Shotgun trips stack TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Sack N/A -8
Williams(-2) the TE and kept into block. He instantly lets the end inside of him and cedes a ton of ground. Hayes(-2) is setting up to block a blitzing LB and then aborts to try to help Williams, which is a noble thought but not a good one. When Gardner steps up past William's guy, Hayes's sacks him. (PR, N/A, protection 0/4)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M5 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Bubble iso Green 5
NW blitzes their slot LB, who is to the outside here. Playside end slants inside, where Schofield(+1) erases him. Bosch(+1) gets out to the second level to cut one LB; Mags(-2) goes for the same guy; Kerridge(-0.5) does not ID the blitzer as a threat, probably correctly, and hits one side of the LB; Green cuts to that side, probably because of the blitzer. That allows the LB to disconnect and tackle, with Green falling forward for a nice gain. Do want Kerridge to maybe hit this guy harder. RPS +2; bubble fake took the corner blitz out of the equation and proper ID by the OL means this is 20 yards before Green meets anyone.
M10 2 5 Pistol trips 1 1 3 4-3 under slide Pass PA pop TE out Butt 6
Slight alteration to the pop pass gets Butt open for a short conversion. Instead of going up the seam he cuts it out after five yards, which is good because the LB over Butt didn't react to the run action and they dropped a safety down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M16 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Green 0
Williams at TE, covered. Seven in the box for NW with an overhang CB who has no vertical threat and a slot S who comes off the line looking run, so tough sledding. Bosch(-1) and Glasgow(-1) get split by the NT, which forces Green to make an awkward bounce away from Kerridge, who went through the hole to the right just before that DL fell in the backfield and forced Green to go around. Unblocked LB, TFL.
M16 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Post Gallon Inc
Double A blitz at this PA. M picks it up, with Kerridge and Bosch doing the tough duty on the blitz well. Gardner can step into a throw to an open Gallon, and sends it wide. Gallon has a diving shot at it but really not much of one. (IN, 1, protection 3/3)
M16 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even press Pass Tunnel screen Funchess 1
This is grim by both guards, as Mags(-1) just kind of blocks his guy, which means he's right in Funchess's path; Bosch(-1) gets thrown to the ground, which is one way of convincing the DL that he should run at the QB. Gardner cannot throw the tunnel on time because that means throwing at the DT Mags is blocking, and when he finally does, that DT is flowing down the line with Funchess and makes an immediate tackle. If they could have done something about said DT this is a good gain as a Kerridge wheel route eliminates one LB and Michigan got the slot corner with Butt and the other LB with Glasgow. But... yeah, no. DT is playing this all the way. RPS –1. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-6, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even slide Pass Hitch Chesson 14
Playside DE ceases his rush smartly and tries to get a bat on the ball as Gardner throws but misses. Gardner hits Chesson with a throw that's a bit outside but basically fine; Chesson turns it up and gets a nice chunk of YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M27 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Smith 6
Safeties both deep-ish, with one guy hanging out at about ten yards after the snap. Bosch(+0.5) again stands up his guy and holds him there... meh. Mags(+1) gets under his guy and drives him . Glasgow(+1) gets a quality driving block on one LB; Houma gets into the gap and does bother a LB, but he pops off to initiate a tackle. Bosch's lack of movement had something to do with that. Smith(+0.5) takes contact at two yards and keeps grinding for four YAC.
M33 2 4 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Smith 17
SAM is on the backside and gets inside of Butt, which would be bad but he is trying to contain Gardner on waggle action, which is bizarre. NW walked a safety down and slanted hard to the playside so that looks like a missed assignment to me. Mags(+1) and Schofield(+2) handle their slants, with Schofield getting driving depth on his guy, so a big hole for Smith(+1), who cuts back into lots of open space and runs through a tackle for a big gain. Butt(-1) did blow his block. RPS +1, I guess, as the waggle threat helps create this.
50 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Smith 2
NW creeping up now with both safeties inside ten yards and one plunging down at the snap. Paskorz(-1) expects his guy to be force and when guy is not force he loses him immediately. Safety is force; Funchess is cracking down on him but it won't matter. Bosch(+1) blows one DT off the ball; Glasgow and Mags(-1) double the other guy; once Glasgow leaves Mags gets ripped through. Glasgow gets to the MLB; DE and DT combine to tackle for minimal gain. RPS -1. Lewan(+0.5) didn't have to do much on his double because Bosch did a good job but did extend to a linebacker.
O48 2 8 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Back shoulder fade Gallon Inc
This looks like a botched freeze play. NW jumps, but not into the neutral zone. Glasgow(-1) snaps anyway. Gardner is looking at Gallon the whole way, he's one on one with a DB who's turned to run to the endzone on a fly route. He goes back shoulder, but without contact between the DB and Gallon the DB can stop and try to undercut the ball, which he does for a PBU. Would have been a really tough INT. This decision is probably based on the belief he had a free play; DB does make an excellent play here on a ball that is likely to beat a number of other players; feel Gallon should play this better. Punt? Punt. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)
O48 3 8 Shotgun trips TE inner stack 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Rollout out Dileo Inc
Rollout in an attempt to get time. Gardner does not have Funchess short; NW trades off their DBs on Dileo and Gallon and covers both. Gardner tries to fit Dileo's out in anyway but there is absolutely no separation. Ball is a bit behind and broken up, but could have been anywhere in Dileo's catching radius and still PBUed. I don't have a problem with the decision; Gardner had no options and was trying to make a play. (CA, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-6, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-Form twins stack 2 1 2 4-3 under slide Pass Throwback WR screen Gallon 3
Again Lewan gets hit at the line and forced to stay inside, which seems like an automatic reaction to a stacked twins formation designed to snuff out this play. Lewan gets out late, Gallon has to delay, Lewan gets his block, and Gallon goes around to get a few. Push, I guess? (CA, 3, screen)
M28 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA Out Gallon 8
DE again dropping right into this route and makes this window very tight. Gardner, making a playfake, may not even realize this. He fires wide of the DE right at the sidelines for a solid completion. (DO, 3, protection 2/2) Thinking about RPS minus here since this looks like NW is reading Borges's mind here.
M36 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Zone stretch Green 23
LBs slid away from the play, one deep safety, two DBs on the WRs and out. Slot LB will blitz at Gardner, leaving seven on seven for the play, with one of them a DB. Line slants to play. Bosch(+1) gets a pop and good drive on his DE. Eventually they go upfield at the numbers. Magnuson(+0.5) does a barely sufficient job on his guy, though he had a tough job what with the guy slanting away from him. Would like Glasgow to help, as per usual. Glasgow(+0.5) does not; he does extend to the second level and wipe out a linebacker. Green(+2) finds the hole behind Bosch and runs through the tackle attempt from Mags's guy. Open field, runs over safety. Finally some Derrick Green.
O41 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over slide Run Zone stretch Green 3
Williams(+1) and Lewan(+1) scoop the playside end; Bosch(+0.5) and Glasgow(+0.5) kind of do the same to the DT, though it takes Glasgow a long time to finally step around he does so about a yard or two downfield. Mags(-1) almost falls as his guy attacks him and gets to flow down the line hard mostly unimpeded; Kerridge(-1) does not kick out the overhang corner, who comes inside to tackle with Mags's guy.
O38 2 7 Ace 1 2 2 4-4 under Pass Hitch Gallon 8
NW getting more aggressive against the run now; M pops up with a short pass to move the chains that's an easy pitch and catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O30 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Sack N/A -13
I don't understand what the deal is here. Schofield clearly expects help to the outside, where Butt has motioned. NW halfheartedly threatens blitz, and Butt is looking at the slot LB. He doesn't come. Butt eventually leaks out in a route. By that time the guy that Schofield had stepped inside on is headed upfield at Gardner. Live I thought this was a dumb idea to roll out instead of moving up in the pocket, but it looks like he's dead either way here. The play action really hurt here because it removed Smith as a potential pickup on the DE and didn't give Gardner any time to adjust once he set up, and nobody bit because this looks nothing like anything M runs. (PR, N/A, protection 0/4, Schofield -1, Butt –1, team -2, RPS -2)
O43 2 23 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Slant Funchess Inc
Obvious corner blitz is obvious and picked up. Michigan runs slants on both sides of the field, and every single one is blanketed save maybe Gallon on the other side of the field. Gardner throws one anyway that's batted down, and that's for the best because if this ball gets to the WR a pick six is highly possible. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)
O43 3 23 Shotgun trips TE stack 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Sack N/A -7
Slide protection; disaster. Mags blocks no one. Lewan(-1) and Bosch(-2) take one DL, Lewan pushes the guy towards Bosch and Bosch doesn't pick him up. Lewan does not come back as the linebackers flow backside because that just means the guy Bosch didn't pick up will run through. This leaves Kerridge(-1) two on one; he misses on the guy he picks by changing his mind late. Guy up middle, sack. (PR, N/A, protection 0/4)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-9, 14 min 4th Q. Wile pins NW at the one, seven yard punt ensues after three and out.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O10 1 G Ace twins twin TE stack 1 2 2 4-5 over Run Zone stretch Green -1
Like the first goal line stretch this is doomed from the start by NW creeping down a ninth guy in the box, who ends up unblocked in the hole at the LOS. Blocking here was less than great as Lewan(-1) seems to make a mental error and doesn't help Bosch(-1) seal or release right away, instead going to a guy that goes outside and Williams kicks.. sort of. But it really doesn't matter because M can crush the playside DT and get Lewan to a LB and it will just be a repeat of the play from the first drive where Green eats a guy at the LOS. RPS –2; this one was probably a small gain without the mess.
O11 2 G Shotgun trips inner stack 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Rollout out Funchess Inc
This is middlingly open for five with maybe a couple yards after the catch and Gardner leaves it way short. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
O11 3 G I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass PA fade Gallon Inc
WOO PLAY ACTION ON THIRD AND GOAL FROM THE ELEVEN. M tries a fade to the back of the endzone that Gardner way overthrows. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: FG(28), 6-9, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA out Gallon 24
Another out that Gardner gets over a dropping DE as NW blitzes. Not far over his hand, right to Gallon. Gallon(+1) breaks a tackle and picks up some nice YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O46 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass Hitch Gallon Inc
Batted at the line. Again, DE dropping right into this.If not batted, a possible INT. (BRX, 0, protection 1/1)
O46 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 0 4 4-3 over slide Pass Scramble Gardner 22
Blitz from the slot LB and another LB; third guy pays no attention to the playfake and drops right into the Funchess passing lane. Gardner pumps and does not throw; Gallon is wide open to the other wide but time is up with the blitzers coming in. Gardner(+2) gets lucky they overrun him and scrambles up, then gets a good block from Gallon(+1) to turn a first down into yet more. There is no real chance for Michgan to pick the blitz up since they are just running IZ blocking, FWIW. (SCR, N/A, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
O24 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over slide Run Inside zone Green 0
Bosch(-2) loses against the backside DT, who gets under him and gets to the POA. That is the main issue. Glasgow(-0.5) lets the NT spin under him and Mags(-0.5) doesn't get off the double fast enough to get the playside LB, so this isn't going very far without that main problem but that's still like three yards.
O24 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over slide Pass Hitch Gallon 11
Double hitches to the wide side of the field and a blitz from NW; LB can't run through Dileo to get out to Gallon. Pitch, catch, some YAC as the corner is playing very soft. Glasgow(-1) did get run through to give up a little pressure on this blitz. (CA, 3, protection 2/3, RPS +1)
O11 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-4 under Pass Waggle scramble Gardner 3
Waggle to the short side of the field with Butt and Williams the playside guys; Funchess is coming in the middle. He might be open, can't tell. Neither of the other guys are. Williams initially blocked the DE and then released; DE pressures Gardner so if he can't throw immediately he has to dance around. He gets around the DE, runs past a LB, and then gets thumped. Best available option. (SCR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O8 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Draw Smith 5
LB comes down to threaten blitz, blitzes. Bosch(-2) lets the DE run by free; DE goes for Gardner. Fortunate. Glasgow(+1) engages and gets good motion on the NT, so Smith has a lot of room to set up against the unblocked MLB and gets a decent gain. RPS +1. Bosch airball doesn't get punished because of the draw but this still has an unblocked guy right in the middle of the field.
O3 3 1 I-Form Big 3 1 1 Goal line Run Power O Smith -1
Houma wing TE. Bosch(-2) blown up, gives a bunch of ground, picks off pulling G. Houma(-1) can't get the playside end, tackles him, refs miss hold (refs +2). Williams(+1) and Lewan(+1) had blown their guys way off the ball, but for naught, as Smith has to cut to the backside of the play into unblocked S and LB.
O4 4 2 Goal line 3 2 0 Goal line Run QB boot Gardner 0
The worst part about this is M was in the pistol before a TO and then comes out in this business. NW looking for this all the way, with their best DE to the weak side of the formation and jetting outside of Green, who would be whiffing a block if he wasn't trying to sell PA. As it is he's just playing his part. Kalis pulls and kicks pretty well; playside LB scrapes over the top as soon as he sees the G pull and arrives unblocked to end this. AJ Williams is in pass route here. RPS -3. Can I make the scale go to RPS -10?
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 6-9, 6 min 4th Q. M has 2:18 when they start their next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even slide Pass Hitch Dileo 6
Three man rush. Gardner delays, eventually firing to Dileo short and in bounds. Had Butt in flat if he wanted to get OOB. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O28 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even slide Pass Out Gallon Inc
Gallon runs an in, Gardner throws an out. Not charted as it's impossible to figure out who's wrong. (NC, 0, protection 2/2)
O28 3 4 Shotgun trips inner stack 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass In Dileo Inc
NW has a LB sitting on this route who breaks to it and gets a hand on it for a PBU. Gardner should probably go to Funchess deeper but this is not particularly open either. (BR, 0, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
O28 4 4 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Scramble Gardner 6
Three man rush, plenty of time, Gardner just bugs out way early. I guess he sees a LB dropping back too fast? I doubt it. Seems panicked to me, but he breaks a tackle and grabs the first down. Results-based. (SCR, N/A, protection 1/1)
O34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Rollout out Funchess 11
Funchess wide open at the sideline; Gardner cut off but has an opportunity to throw immediately so not a problem. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under Pass In Dileo Inc
Very tight window with a LB coming under and Dileo just breaking inside of a slot corner; Gardner nails it on time. Dileo bobbles it and gets blown up, dropping the ball. Ack everything is crumbling. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O45 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Hitch Gallon 6
Press on everyone save Gallon and blitz, Gardner goes to Gallon as a hot read, immediate tackle in bounds. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M49 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even press Pass Rollout comeback Chesson Inc
S walks down to robber zone and runs in front of Chesson; Gardner's other option would be Dileo but he is getting ridden hard as he releases and I doubt he's open, so Gardner can either throw and have this happen or go to fourth down. Fourth down is still preferable but he's screwed either way. He throws it directly at the safety. (BRX, 0, protection 1/1, RPS -1)
M49 4 4 Shotgun trips TE stack 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Hitch Funchess 11
NW blows the coverage, leaving Funchess wide open out of the bunch. Pitch and catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1). RPS +1; with three guys to the bunch and this was pure man without the corresponding blitz.
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Out Funchess Inc (Pen +10)
S in man coverage on Funchess makes a diving PBU on a crossing route, which is super impressive... except he wrapped his arm around and got a very very late PI call. It is legit despite being really late. (CA, 0, protection 2/2)
O30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Rollout sack N/A -13
Hooray rollout. Unblocked end on backside flows down. Playside end goes straight upfield, forces Gardner to halt. Glasgow peels back for the end but Gardner freezes instead of making a split section decision to run up in the pocket and gets crushed; really did not have a whole lot of time to do anything there. (PR, N/A, protection 0/1, Gardner -1, RPS -2)
O43 2 23 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Fly Chesson Inc
First deep ball of the night. Seriously. Borges cannot pick a middle ground. Good protection, Chesson gets a step, pass is about a yard or two long. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O43 3 23 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Deep hitch Gallon 16
Three man rush, NW apparently just protecting the sticks, Gallon open for a big chunk and that chunk is taken. (CA,3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Amazing FG(44), 9-9, EORegulation
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over slide Run Bubble inside zone Green 7
M gets good movement from Mags(+0.5) and Glasgow(+0.5) on one DT. Bosch leaves pretty quick on the other one, leaving Lewan on the backside of the other DT; Lewan(+1) latches on and shoves him way down the line. Bosch doesn't do much with the relevant LB, but the cutback from Green(+1) hurts his blocking angle. Williams(+0.5) got out to wall of a corner; Green makes a nice cut and carries the LB about four yards after contact.
O18 2 3 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Green -2
Blitz paired with a slant gets the DT outside of Lewan(-2), who may not be expecting this but has already been beat like this in the last game and fires out such that once that guy steps right he has no shot. One thing for Bosch to miss, lined up inside of him. Lewan is another matter. At least block him upfield instead of losing him entirely. Bosch(-1) stumbled on his release and fell so free LB and play not likely going anywhere unless he gets caught up on the other DT getting ridden downfield by Glasgow(+0.5).
O20 3 5 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA FB flat Kerridge 6
Kerridge creeps to the outside presnap, which gives him a yard or two on the MLB, who has him in man coverage. PA, quick throw, first down. Ball is very marginal, well behind Kerridge, taking him off his feet after a tough-ish catch. (MA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O14 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even slide Run Bubble inside zone Green 3
Another cutback lane develops as Mags(+1) and Schofield get a DT moving hard; Schofield then goes to pop a linebacker. Green(-1) ends up running directly into that LB after his cutback, which costs him some yards. Glasgow(+0.5) got some good push on the other DT to make him irrelevant and then felt the cutback, releasing to attempt to get the other LB.
O11 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 4-5 even Pass TE Out Butt 11
FB shuffle again; Kerridge takes the overhang corner, leaving Butt alone on the S. I think Butt pushes off to get separation but useless BTN replay strikes and I can't tell you. Gardner finds him and throws it high and to the outside, where Butt stabs it with one hand for a touchdown. (MA, 1, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 16-9, EO1OT
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over slide Run Bubble inside zone Green 6
I'm calling this bubble even though there's no fake because Gardner looks at it for a moment and it draws the slot LB out. Extended double from Glasgow(+1) and Mags(+1) gets big movement on one DT. Bosch(-0.5) doesn't get much of a hit on the other one before releasing; Lewan(+0.5) still drives him downfield, albeit on the wrong side of him. Green cuts up after the extended double and gets a nice gain before the slot LB comes down and a DE peels back off Schofield. RPS +1.
O19 2 4 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even slide Pass Bubble screen Funchess 4
Funchess(-4) inexplicably goes inside of Gallon cracking down on a safety shaded over him when a cut outside is one on one with a corner who's trying to not give up a TD and is probably a nice gain down to the ten or better. He gets some yards even so and then fumbles, but gets it back. (CA, 3, screen)
O16 3 1 Ace 2 1 2 4-3 under Run QB sneak Gardner 2
Mostly just what happens on a QB sneak but Glasgow(+0.5) does do a good job to get under the NT and push him back a bit.
O14 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-5 over Pass Sack N/A -1
Looks like M is trying for a corner route to Gallon; Gardner has to bug out early because Bosch(-2) gets beat straight up and Gardner has to move. Rest of pocket holds up at least. Gardner is trying to scramble but lots of guys in short space here and they grab him. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
O15 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over slide Pass TE out Butt 3
This dink route doesn't do much or have much upside. Gardner may have had other options but this is out so fast it's hard to tell. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O12 3 8 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over slide Pass Post Gallon Inc
15 yard bullet to win is flat dropped. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: FG(29), 19-19, EO2OT
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA post Gallon Inc
15 yard bullet to score is wide of Gallon. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O25 2 10 I-Form trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even slide Run Zone read keeper Gardner 12
NW scrape exchange sees unblocked LB fly up at Gardner(+3) and get juked. Otherwise this is third and forever. RPS -2.
O13 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under slide Run Bubble inside zone Green 7
Blitz, M prepared. Bosch(+1) attaches to and escorts DT slanting outside of him upfield. Other DT also headed outside; idea is to shoot the end inside. NW end blows assignment. Nice gap with Glasgow(+1) and Mags in space against the LBs. Green sees the LB's helmet to the outside and cuts back; LB cuts back inside. Green(+1) then cuts again, running through a tackle from the LB and falling forward on another ankle tackle.
O6 2 3 Ace 1 2 2 5-4 under Run Inside zone Green 1
Gardner pops up like he will throw to Funchess but he's one on one all the way so no one reacts. Lewan and Bosch(+1) momentarily double playside DT; Bosch doesn't get much movement but does turn and eventually pancake the guy. Williams(-1) driven back on the edge by the DE, so that lane gets closed off. Green(+0.5) pops outside and takes contact at the LOS but can fall forward. If Williams can kick here it was one laterally moving DT with Mags on him versus Green's momentum and probably a first down.
O5 3 2 Pistol 2TE 1 2 2 5-4 under Run Speed option keep Gardner 5
Check to this. Schofield(+1) turns the playside end in. Butt is blocking the SAM, which seems weird, but that does make a safety think he needs to get outside for the pitch. Glasgow(+0.5) and Mags(+1) get push on one DT and Mags gets out to body the playside LB, which slows him and reduces him to a one armed tackle; MLB now has to bubble around that a bit. Gardner(+1) sees the hole and hits it up, dragging three guys the final two yards. RPS +1.
O3 2PT G Shotgun trips inner stack 1 1 3 4-3 under press Run QB draw Gardner 3
This should not work as Bosch(-1) gets rocked back and Schofield(-1) loses his guy inside, which means Gardner has to bounce away from Hayes, but the NW LB gives up the edge and Gallon(+1) blocks his ass off , allowing Gardner(+1) to get to the end zone.

I feel like this is progress?

I have no idea man.

Like, they went forward on the ground.

They did, and they actually did so in a not-embarrassing fashion. Like, combine the carries for Smith and Green and it looks like a normal human tailback doing normal human tailback things: 27 carries for 120 yards, 4.4 an attempt. Gardner managed 59 yards on his 12 carries that weren't sacks. This is in line with Northwestern's sack-adjusted output against the rest of their Big Ten schedule. You can slot Michigan in on this list:

  • OSU: 5.3
  • Wisconsin: 6.4
  • Minnesota: 4.3
  • Iowa: 3.5
  • Nebraska: 4.8
  • Michigan: 4.6

And feel prout and goot about the run game. OSU and Wisconsin they were not, but they looked like a decent Big Ten rushing offense.

How did they accomplish this great and good feat?

They did this by throwing away the idea of a pulling guard and running almost entirely straight-ahead inside zone blocking on a bunch of inside zones and isos, some of which were paired with bubble fakes. The only plays on which Michigan pulled anyone:

  • Two disastrous down G QB boots
  • Two short yardage power O plays from big formations, one a first down on second and two, the other a loss of one on third and one.

That is it. They mixed in zone stretch as a changeup and got it blocked, too. Their two biggest runs of the day other than a Gardner scramble for 22 were 17 and 23 yard runs on the stretch, and while they got blown up on it twice neither of those plays was blocked particularly poorly; they just had the misfortune to be run into straight up nine man fronts with a safety at five yards who put his face into Derrick Green in the backfield.


That is an uncharitable sentiment.

You know you want to.

Okay, yes, finally, Michigan ripped out one of the three core plays they were trying to run and went with a grunting straight ahead extended double team style. That was simple for the OL and they executed consistently. A chorus of angels descended from the heavens and picked out a lovely melody as they sang "Glory glory to the most high who has ordained that this running game shall be rather simple and employ constraint theory to help Michigan even the numbers in the box, hallelujah."

The constraint: the not-infrequently used the threat of a Funchess bubble screen held the slot LB out of the box and gave Michigan a chance to run plays against a regular old unstacked box. Michigan picked up 37 yards on 7 carries featuring that action, 5.3 a pop, never lost yards, and left additional yards on the field through some player screwups. (In particular, Green cut back on a two yard run into space only for Jordan Paskorz to not wall off a defensive back; Paskorz returned to the bench from whence he came after. On another, Michigan catches a blitz but sends two OL at the same linebacker, preventing Green from breaking a 20 yarder.)

Our canonical example:

That is an extended forever double for Glasgow and Magnuson plus a bump from Bosch that puts Lewan in a position to drive his guy whichever way he goes, and a ton of space. The bubble action forces Northwestern to choose:

  1. hold the slot LB out there and not play slanting games, have this happen
  2. play press coverage on Jeremy Gallon
  3. send the slot LB and single your safety on Devin Funchess

Excepting plays inside the ten, Northwestern went with Door Number 1, and Michigan had an average-looking run game. It was amazing how competent they looked when given the opportunity to blow a guy off the ball for a long time. Green cuts back on the previous play in OT; this one is a virtual replay on the blocking but Green picks the outside because he can:

That was easy to execute. You can tell because Michigan executed.

Meanwhile, the bubble was good for a 13 yard gain, an incompletion after a NW defender deflected it slightly, and a four yard gain that should have been bigger but for Funchess hitting it up inside and fumbling. Those are eh numbers, but the overall effect was clear.

The stretch worked?

Pretty much, yes. The winning play on offense was stretch blocking on an option look on which Schofield seals the end and Magnuson and Glasgow work through the playside DT to bother one linebacker and make the other bow around, giving Gardner his lane:

Here the stretch was an infrequently-deployed counter to the base play (six instances including the above) that only got stopped because safeties were blowing it up unblocked in the redzone. The speed option helps take care of that problem by forcing someone to take the pitch, but really the whole play is Schofield stepping around the end, which he is more likely to do when he's been kicked all day and his initial thought is that there's going to be a gaping hole inside of him he has to help shut down.

You can see that explicitly on the first one Michigan ran. The playside DT fires upfield because he's expecting to get a double and doesn't want to end up on his ass; Lewan steps around him and that's a huge gap that only gets filled because Bosch gets held on his release without a call and misidentifies the LB he should get and Northwestern is playing pure cover zero with nine guys in the box with a safety ripping down for a TFL:

Have to get out of that play, but what happens on the line is an example of Michigan establishing something the D has to cheat to and then using that to beat them. This play was not successful; the overall idea of the run game was.

This sounds positive.

It is positive.

But we scored nine points in regulation.

OT drives do count and Michigan had two touchdowns and closed in on a third; they gained a respectable number of yards despite the massive problems Gardner had. They still suck, yeah, but I'm just looking for progress. This was progress.


Okay, yeah. Certain calls drove me absolutely nuts, like second and goal play action waggle from the nine that Northwestern obliterates save for Gardner being real agile and stuff. If I never see Al Borges run play action on second and long with one wide receiver on the field again, it will be too soon. The image of Borges sitting up in the booth going "heh heh heh, if I only put one wide receiver out there they'll NEVER SEE IT COMING (this time, despite having seen it coming every time ever before this)" haunts me nightly.

I'm just not sure a waggle is ever going to be a good option when you've got a QB with Gardner's mobility because containing him is always going to be a priority. Michigan blocked the backside end on one waggle and that guy still got in Gardner's face immediately. And that was first and ten. The idea was less insane in this one since Michigan had demonstrated they could move the ball on the ground, but they're just not working. Ever. If you want to throw, just throw.

And then of course, the Gardner boot stuff. Lewan is a playside wing TE on the first and seems to blow his assignment by going inside but ends up getting submarined by a linebacker who looks destined for Gardner, so he's probably picking which guy to let run at Gardner. And then the backside end runs around the whole world and tracks this play down:

It's dead, Jim. It's been dying for several weeks now and that should be the last nail in the coffin. That's irritating. Running it on fourth and two after a timeout? Infuriating. Everyone in the stands was thinking "not the boot, not the boot, not the boot." And yet…

The other thing was the rollouts, which actually worked pretty well at the start of the day but were hung onto too long. On the devastating sack on Michigan's final regulation drive Northwestern was playing for it, sending the playside DE straight upfield to cut off Gardner's progress almost inside the pocket. That meant the unblocked backside DE was on Gardner almost before he could do anything about it. With another sack coming on a rollout, Michigan was probably worse off with its pass coverage with rollouts in this game than playing it straight up.

So… Borges?

Thumbs up in the run game. That is a major step forward, a major step towards coherence. I wish it hadn't taken ten games. The passing game was pretty disappointing even considering that Gardner was having a really bad night. I mean… you cannot run the pop seam without actually running IZ from the pistol anymore.

There was also a frustrating reliance on things Michigan has put on tape over and over again when it came to lizard brain time. The second boot is just shocking since he had time to think about it after a timeout and still ran exactly what Northwestern was expecting him to. The Dileo in route was also something Northwestern was all over. Things got better in overtime, at least.

This was a step forward from a dark place. It is still pretty dark, but a journey of a thousand miles starts with one intrepid semi-pro reporter badgering the offensive coordinator about a particular play for two and a half years.

Overall, the RPS numbers came out +18, –25, –7, with twelve of the minuses coming on first and second and goal on Michigan's first drive (the stretch with nine guys in the box and the ill-fated waggle), the two Gardner boots (doooooom), and the first down after the punt to the ten yard line that was also a safety meeting Green at the LOS on a stretch. So: when not doing WHAT ARE YOU DOING things, that was a win!


oh man i don't know

Seriously. The fourth and two playcall was just… I can't even put it into words.

Speaking of Gardner…

Right. Here is a—



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%
Nebraska - 17(1) 1 4(1) 2* 5 - 6 - 62%
Northwestern 5 21(6) 3 5 6***** 1 2(1) 6 4 65%

Shane Morris

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

Now that is filling out a UFR box score. Note the large increase in screens—more than double the attempts of any other game this year—and the epic five Bad Read Extreme(!!!) stars applied. The downfield success rate kind of fails here, because it holds all throws equal to all other throws. Gardner's flirtation with disaster should have cost Michigan the game several times over.

Anyway. We talked about Gardner's many, many throws that Northwestern guys got to before Michigan guys did. These were somewhat on no one being open and maybe on Gardner not being prepared to come off his main guy in situation X; for the most part they were just terrible plays by the QB. Those TAs from the last couple weeks migrated to BRX and Michigan was lucky to survive.

In Gardner's tenuous defense, he is undead now.

How about that run chart?

Well, it's bipolar:

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 6 4.5 1.5 Slanted past a couple times badly.
Bosch 8.5 14.5 -6 Got blown up some, misidentified guys some. Freshman.
Glasgow 13.5 3 10.5 He and Magnuson were blowing up the NW DT all day.
Magnuson 10 5.5 4.5 Executed assignments usually; still unfortunately light.
Schofield 8 1 7 Sealed and kick guys with ease.
Williams 4 1 3 Hey! A good number.
Paskorz - 2 -2 Couple of bad plays early led to benching.
Butt 0.5 1 -0.5 Eh.
Kalis - - - DNC
Burzynski - - - DNP
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 7 - 7 Bailed M out on a zone read and a scramble that were huge plays.
Morris - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Green 7 1 6 May have gotten over exuberant about cutbacks that were probably half points due to obviousness.
Smith 2.5 0.5 2 Leg churn
Hayes - - - DNC
Rawls - - - DNP
Houma - 3 -3 Seemed confused.
Kerridge 3 1.5 1.5 Soon to be a WR.
TOTAL 12 12 0 Not many opportunities to do anything.
Player + - T Notes
Gallon 4 - 4 Two point conversion like 67% him.
Jackson - - -  
Chesson - 1.5 -1.5 Falling off a bit in this department.
Reynolds - - -  
Dileo - - -  
Norfleet - - - DNP
Funchess 1 4.5 -3.5 Fumble.
TOTAL 5 7 -2 Eh.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 56 20 74% Bosch 6, Lewan 2, Kerridge 2, Williams 2, Hayes 2, Team 2, Schofield 1, Butt 1, Glasgow 1, Gardner 1
RPS 18 25 -7 Ack QB boot is deaaaaaad.

This is addressed below a bit, but yeah, I am buying the rumors that Bosch might lose his job back to Kalis. He did some nice things but too often he got blow'd up because he is a true freshman. The rest of the line was pretty good, with Glasgow putting up a very good number thanks to a ton of double teams on what I'm betting is very bad NW DT. Magnuson got most of those pluses as well but gave ground at times he shouldn't have.

I do think I was handing out tailback pluses like candy out of excitement to see anyone do anything in the going forward department. Also, even though Gardner is undead he had a couple of absolutely crucial runs.

RIP to da Gardner?

Pass protection remains something of an issue, but right now it's usually guys messing up what they're supposed to do instead of getting blown up. Schofield thinks he has Butt outside here; Butt thinks he's picking up a blitz that never comes:

All of this is the cost of these slide protections that Michigan is running because they cannot rely on any of their backs to pick up blitzes that come through holes in the line. Miscommunications are rife. I mean:

WTF is Bosch thinking; WTF is Lewan thinking, etc.

The tight ends and backs are still struggling; one of the sacks Gardner suffered was AJ Williams and Justice Hayes combining to do this:

The rule is take the inside guy, so Hayes switching off on to Williams's man, who is still technically being blocked, is just as bad as the technical block being engaged by Williams.

How did Green and Smith do?

They both did okay, making the proper interior cuts. Neither did anything spectacular except maybe Green running through a one armed tackle by a defensive lineman on his 23-yarder. (He also blew up the safety pretty good at the end there.) Both guys seemed to hit the right holes kind of slowly and fall forward on contact.

I liked Smith's "leg churn," as faux NFL draft analysts like to say. He seems to have a knack for keeping his thighs moving as the pile forms around him.

Wait, there are rumors about another OL shakeup?

Yeah, supposedly Magnuson may flip to the other guard spot—leaving him a snap at center away from the cycle—and Kalis may reclaim his job at RG, leaving Bosch on the bench.

Does that make any sense?

Oh, I don't know. Bosch did get less push than the other guys on the line. A lot of their isos ended up with Bosch just standing up his guy and Michigan squeezing it out because their other OL did well with it.

Maybe Kalis will do better than that. Maybe not. After this game I'm inclined to leave it alone since they, like, went forward. But Bosch has been up and down, was mostly down in this one, and maybe if they stick with this kind of blocking they think they'll get more push from Kalis.


[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 3 0/1 0/1 10/12   28 3/5 10/13 50/55
Jackson           3 0/1   5/5
Reynolds           2 0/1 1/1 2/2
Chesson 1     1/1   4 1/3 1/3 10/11
Dileo 1   0/1 1/1   4 1/2 1/2 7/8
Norfleet           1     3/3
Funchess 4 0/2   6/6   16 3/6 5/7 33/35
Butt   1/1   2/2   1 1/3 0/1 10/10
Williams           1      
Toussaint           1     7/7
Hayes       1/1         2/2
Green 1         1      
Kerridge     1/1         1/1 2/2
Houma                 1/1

A couple of painful drops by Gallon on 20 yarders, though we should point out that the weather was ugly. Butt gets a circus catch.


Tailbacks. Whoever installed the inside zone iso grind game. Glasgow and Schofield. Funchess, when not fumbling. Gardner, for not dying.

Maybe not so heroic?

Gardner should have lost this game about four times. Bosch struggled. Borges: QB boot is over, man, over.

What does it mean for Iowa and the future?

Inside zone is your run game please. It is simple and may get blown up by Iowa and whatnot but this is the time to clutch this one thing to our chest and just bleeding try it. Stretch can be a changeup. Constraints yes please.

Gardner boot is dead.

Gardner is undead. This is affecting his decision-making process. At some point he may return to the living but right now there is nothing of the person we once knew, as he is trapped in a hellish dimension far from here.

Turmoil on the offensive line is still progressing.  Bosch's job seems under threat and that makes sense given what I'm seeing.

Michigan needs to run inside zone from the pistol if they're going to run the pop pass. It's the same thing! Just do it! Linebackers are all like hanging out waiting for the pass!

Waggles: just say no. No.

GARDNER BOOT IS DEAD. (and you shouldn't run into nine man fronts)



November 21st, 2013 at 7:42 AM ^

PA from 3rd and 11 isn't completely insane, but it does have to be unexpected AND underplayed.  Take an offense like Minnesota that gets most of its yards on the ground, consistently run in all situations good or bad, then call PA on 3rd and long when the defense least expects it because it's something you haven't done all season. . . then you might catch the defense unprepared.  But Borges called PA on 2nd and 15 against MSU when the RBs were going backwards so who did he think he was fooling this time?  Northwestern isn't a school you ride to in a short bus.

This guy is just so bad at poker.  I want to share a table with him; I'm the world's worst bluffer but I feel confident I could clean him out.

Ron Utah

November 21st, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

They've been running IZ all season; this is the first game where they pretty much ran JUST IZ.  It helped, but as Brian pointed out, Iowa is built to punish the IZ game.

That said, it's clear you can have a pretty effective running game with one very good base play (see 'Bama) and I wouldn't mind an emphasis on it again this week.  But we need change-ups and constraints.  Hopefully we can block the outside zone and keep the Isos picking-up a few positive yards.

An Angelo's Addict

November 20th, 2013 at 8:43 PM ^

Unfortunate if we actually stick Kali's back into guard instead of Kugler since it would have been nice to save his redshirt. It doesn't seem like putting him in and removing that option benefited us too much based on your charting


November 20th, 2013 at 9:26 PM ^

I actually disagree re: the redshirt in that Bosch is most likely your starter next year and any "live fire" experience is invaluable provided it doesn't cost games. As a bonus it evens out the 2012 and 2013 line classes.

I see us with a tentative starting line of Mags-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden next year, leaving us with only Braden having no non-garbage time experience. --- I actually hope we see Kugler win out at center giving M 3 interior backups with experience ("depth"!!!!). Experienced Tackle depth on the other hand........


November 20th, 2013 at 8:49 PM ^

Definitely progress in the running game, but how much of said progress is attributed to the fact that we played a less then impressive Northwestern team?

I don't want to get my hopes up but watching Smith and Green run is getting my hopes up lol.


November 20th, 2013 at 8:52 PM ^

DG dead or undead, here or in another dimension? I thought it looked like OT flushed him out of the paralysis that has gripped him and showed him as his athletic, instinctive self.


November 21st, 2013 at 7:40 AM ^

If a lich is sacked often enough, it may reach a point where it feels it cannot play any more in its present state and seeks other avenues to attain yards.  The lich's interest turns away from the physical realm, and its soul voluntarily leaves its uniform and football factory, using astral projection to travel across other planes of existence.  The medicines preserving the lich's body against the ravages of blitzers weaken, usually causing the body to gradually deteriorate until only a skull or even a single skeletal hand remains; this advanced form of lich is known as a Devinlich.

Link*:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demilich_%28Dungeons_%26_Dragons%29

*I may have altered the text somewhat

Ty Butterfield

November 20th, 2013 at 9:03 PM ^

Not sure if there will be any real progress after this game. Howeva, it sure would be nice if we see Green and Smith get all the snaps. I know that the O-line is bad but Fitz has just looked lost out there. If they are going to run Fitz on first and second down they might as well just punt on first down.


November 21st, 2013 at 11:31 AM ^

explain to us why Fitz looks lost and why they should just punt if Fitz is going to be out there...I mean, he gets the ball with at least one guy in his face half of the time and still has over 600 yards rushing on the year and over 3 YPC with the worst o-line I have ever seen at Michigan....so please, I would love to hear your expertise on why Fitz is so bad and how he couldn't have done what both Green and Smith did against a bad NW team with wide open holes to run thru


November 20th, 2013 at 9:32 PM ^

Man, another OL reshuffle scares the crap out of me. Kalis looked every bit as bad as Bosch right before he lost his job. The only thing that would make sense to me is if he developed a nagging injury, which might be the case since he looked ok the first 3-4 games. Then again, they threw him in in 6 OL situations pretty consistently so that makes it seem like it was purely performance. I dunno, seems like the time is past for this, but I guess what do we have to lose at this point.


November 20th, 2013 at 9:35 PM ^

I don't like how our RB's start on the opposite side of where they are going in pass pro. I think it makes it way more difficult for them and I don't see any advantage to it. Watch Kerridge on the sack that Brian linked. He has to come all the way across to check the OLB, once he realizes the OLB isn't coming he has to change direction and try and work back to the other blitzing LB.

I think it would be much easier if he started on the left. Then he could step straight up and check the OLB, and then work to the other LB without having to change direction. I also think it would be easier to see everything that is going on when you aren't sprinting across the formation.


November 20th, 2013 at 11:24 PM ^

Usually that type of call is on the QB. Devin should be calling out the RB protection and moving the back where he wants him.

If it's a slide protection the back should automatically be on the side away from the slide unless they're running a PA read option that carries him there after the fake.

Ron Utah

November 21st, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

The RB needs to align to cover the most dangerous blitzer.  You don't know who's going to blitz before the snap, so the RB will typically align to the field side where the defense has a fifth man on the LOS.

It is easier for the RB to get back to the ILB than to OLB on the LOS.  The alignments were good, IMO.


November 21st, 2013 at 2:52 PM ^

Thats not true. The OL is sliding towards the field and will have that side picked up unless NW sends two players to the same gap. Kerridge doesn't even look at that side of the field. He immediately starts running toward the opposite side on the snap.

Ron Utah

November 21st, 2013 at 3:25 PM ^

I don't want to argue.  Slides are often called after you are at the LOS and set.  I'm just saying that, based on football theory, there are two reasons your want your back on the field side:

  • Pass pro alignment
  • "Keep the defense honest" - Using a look in a different ways on different plays so that the defense isn't sure what play you're running

Since neither of us know how this play was designed, we can't be sure what changes or calls were made at the line.  I will say that if that RB's only job is to block the backside, then that's where he should align, unless that tips the play.

What I'm saying is that I agree with your point, but there are reasons teams align the way U-M did on that play.


November 20th, 2013 at 9:51 PM ^

Scholfield only -1?  He completely whiffed on several blocks, and one resulted in gardner getting sacked again..  It was his only assignment and he completely blew it


November 21st, 2013 at 12:17 AM ^

Player + - T Notes
Gardner 7 - 7 Bailed M out on a zone read and a scramble that were huge plays.
Morris - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Green 7 1 6 May have gotten over exuberant about cutbacks that were probably half points due to obviousness.
Smith 2.5 0.5 2 Leg churn
Hayes - - - DNC
Rawls - - - DNP
Houma - 3 -3 Seemed confused.
Kerridge 3 1.5 1.5 Soon to be a WR.
TOTAL 12 12 0 Not many opportunities to do anything.

Shouldn't that total out to

19.5  6  13.5? Or is just past midnight and I can't think straight


November 21st, 2013 at 6:36 AM ^

Given that Iowa is still favored by 6.5 points, it appears that Vegas does not agree with Brian that the run offense has improved.  If it has really improved, the line should have been 3 points at most.  It could have been the run offense looks improved because we are playing Northwestern who is still winless in conference play.  Just like our offense looked improved because of the gimmicky play we ran against Minnesota only to fall flat against Penn State and Michigan State. 

Personally, I think the 6.5 points is too high. Iowa is no better than Penn State whom we shd have beaten if Gibbons was not abducted by aliens that day.

Michigan 20 Iowa 14.

ND Sux

November 21st, 2013 at 8:11 AM ^

"Gallon runs an in, Gardner throws an out. Not charted as it's impossible to figure out who's wrong. (NC, 0, protection 2/2)"

I get that you can't really tell, but I might ding Gallon here because the play is probably intended to be a quick 8 yards and get OB to stop the clock.


November 21st, 2013 at 10:05 AM ^

Random thought for Brian on the UFRs.

Perhaps this isn't all THAT useful, but I was wondering if perhaps it'd be helpful to have yards to go in parantheses next to the G when we have goal to go? Unless it actually is listed somewhere and I'm being dumb, the difference between goal to go on the 9 (or the 20 as we are capable of doing) and the 2 is pretty huge in the context of play calling.