Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 11th, 2013 at 5:13 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan was split close to evenly between shotgun/pistol/under center. Notre Dame, meanwhile, was in a ton of four-man fronts until late, when they went back to more of a 4-3 look. Here you can see Shembo with his hand down and a 1-3-5 technique split to the strongside of M's formation:


I know I've mentioned in the past that Notre Dame's defense is not really all that different from Michigan's, and this game was a good demonstration of that. ND prefers over fronts when they go to a four-man line since their SAM equivalent is Jaylon Smith, a fast light bugger. I guess that's kind of a big difference. The point is: ND runs a lot of four man fronts.

Here's ND's 3-4:


The DL are head up on the Michigan OL, with the SAM over the TEs and Smith is over the slot.

This is the pistol. Pew pew:


Another 4-3 over from ND.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: QB Gardner, RB Toussaint on almost every play. Derrick Green got in for two, I think, and M lined up Norfleet as a back once. The line was the starters the whole game, but when Lewan got poked in the eye, Michigan sent in Magnuson, not Braden. Lewan returned, so Magnuson didn't get a snap. He's your #3 tackle it appears.

Williams, Funchess, and Butt all played plenty; Williams went out with an injury, came back for a few plays, and then left permanently. At WR, Gallon (obvious) with Chesson and Jackson rotating more heavily than Reynolds, who may still be dinged. Excepting the Norfleet package early, the slot was always Dileo. Michigan never had more than two outside WRs in the game. On passing downs they filled out with Funchess and Dileo.

[After THE JUMP: slicing and dicing goes both ways.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Toussaint 0
Shembo down as ND goes with a four man front. Jaylon Smith over the slot. I am assuming these are reads, not calls, because I want to believe. Gardner(-1) blows the read here as Shembo is way too close to the LOS to effectively contain and when Toussaint cuts backside he is there to tackle. I'd forgotten how hyper-aggressive ND's linebackers are. On this play they're both a yard from the LOS when the mesh point occurs. Kalis pops off onto the backside guy but at the LOS; he has no chance of creating a crease.
M32 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-4 base Pass TE out Butt 8
ND sends two guys up the middle and the line busts the protection. The free runner nails Gardner just as he releases the ball, but he steps in coolly and fires a strike to Butt. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, team -2). Toussaint swung out of the backfield on this play and was wide open. Michigan would go back to this at a critical moment.
M40 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Slant Dileo 6
Day swims right by Kalis(-2) and gets in Gardner's face, so Gardner does not step into the throw. Ball is well in front of Dileo as a result; Dileo makes a great diving catch of a ball that is rocketed. The pressure had something to do with this. (MA, 1, protection 0/2, Kalis -2)
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Jet sweep Norfleet 2
ND moving at the snap, seemingly confused. This is basically a zone stretch. Day rips through Kalis(-1) and takes away any potential cutbacks. Glasgow(-1) fails to cut Nix. Williams(-1) and Schofield can't reach Shembo, the playside end, who strings it out. Schofield eventually runs around Williams, displaying impressive agility, to get in position to block a LB, but it's for naught, as Norfleet has to head outside with no real creases. Kerridge(+1) got a thumping cut block on a linebacker that no one could use.
M48 2 8 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass PA Hitch Reynolds 11
Kalis(-2) again whipped by Day, who gets immediate pressure. Should have recruited that dude. Aggressive LB comes to the LOS and then comes on a delayed blitz once he sees the PA; Toussaint(-1) does not get to him. Gardner gets off an amazing throw on which he doesn't square his shoulders, set his feet, or even turn away from the sideline that is perfectly timed and placed to Reynolds for the first down. Wow. (DO+, 3, protection 0/3, Kalis -2, Toussaint -1)
O43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Reverse Gallon 15
Similar to last week's with Kerridge(+1) stalking the backside end and sealing him away to get Michigan the corner. Kalis(+1) releases and then turns backside to wall off anyone who shows, and blows up Day. Gardner(+1) gets an excellent block on the backside corner; Schofield(-1) helps with that but should pick off the safety instead; if he does that may be a touchdown. RPS +3. Had it.
O28 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Toussaint -1
ND walks down a safety and jets him at the LOS as soon as M shows run. Funchess(-1) gets beaten inside by him. Williams(-1) and Schofield get some motion on Shembo but no seal and Williams does not pop out when the LB flows hard, he comes through. Kalis did not help on the backup DT, who ND is just playing as a second DT now, and Miller(-1) gets blown yards in the backfield. Toussaint has no hope. RPS -1.
O29 2 11 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Counter pitch Norfleet 2
Norfleet the back. Jackson(-2) has a really easy job to seal Smith inside since he is stepping to the fake and fails. Y U NO CHESSON. RPS +1; this should have picked up a first down.
O27 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
ND sends six. Miller and Kalis double Day momentarily has he threatens to split them, which gives avenues for two guys up the middle. Toussaint can only pick off one of them and not that well, leaving a free runner to the inside. Gardner tries to spin out of the pocket like he does, turns around to find another guy in his face, and manages to throw it away. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Toussaint -1, team -1)
Drive Notes: FG(44), 3-0, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Toussaint 2
Michigan should have a crease here for big yards as they get a seal on Tuitt and Lewan(+1) bangs the playside LB, but Glasgow(-2) gets crushed back until that crease is gone. Toussaint(+1) makes a nice in-out juke that gets the playside LB to give up his force position, then bounces outside, where Jackson(-1) has immediately let the S upfield and outside, so he contains effectively. That LB peels to tackle as Toussaint cuts upfield inside of that.
M25 2 8 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Toussaint 14
ND MLBs roaring at the run action so fast that Miller has no shot at the MLB. Williams(-1) just runs by Tuitt on the backside. Nix rips through Kalis(-1) to the backside. Nobody is blocked back there. Glasgow(-1) gets blasted back by Day; Funchess(-1) handled by Shembo; Toussaint(+2) threatens to shoot between those blocks and then hops out, which convinces the ND force player to hop inside and give up the corner despite Shembo obviously having that gap covered. Nice play by Toussaint but a terribly blocked play that M got lucky on when an ND guy blew an assignment.
M39 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Dig Gallon 61
No blitz; good protection. Gardner steps in and finds a wide open Gallon, throwing a 15-yard rope that hits him in the hands. Gallon spins through three guys and Chesson cleans up; touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). Picture paged by One Foot Down.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-0, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Pistol twins FB 2 1 2 3-4 base Run Belly Toussaint 2
Gardner(-2) again biffs the read as the backside LB crashes on Toussaint hard and crushes him. Corner was open allll day.
M27 2 8 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Penalty False start Miller -5
Miller gets jobbed here, as Nix jumping into the neutral zone causes him to jump. Refs -1.
M22 2 13 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Hitch Jackson Inc
Batted by the DE. (BA, 0, protection 1/1)
M22 3 13 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Dig Gallon Inc
M picks up a five man blitz very well here; Gardner steps up and rifles it to Gallon. It's on target just past the sticks; Russell is up in Gallon's business like whoah and the pass falls incomplete. Looks like it could be interference but we don't get a replay so it's hard to tell. Because of the coverage Gallon had no shot at this. The rare (CA, 0, protection 3/3). I have no problem with trying this throw. It's away from the defender and picks up the first down if complete.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-7, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA comeback Gallon 15
All day. This route looks like double posts until Gallon stops and comes back to the ball when Gardner throws. Easy pitch and catch, and the DL was really thinking run and so not pressuring at all. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M40 1 10 Pistol twins FB 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Stretch toss Toussaint 4
Confusion as ND's guys take a slant step to the backside and Lewan/Glasgow(-0.5 each) can't decide what to do with the playside end. They should scoop him. Instead Lewan tries to seal and Glasgow tries to release, which isn't happening because the DL block Glasgow from doing so. Kerridge(+0.5) pops one linebacker, but the other guy is unblocked; Toussaint(+0.5) plows over him for some YAC.
M44 2 6 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass PA throwaway N/A Inc
Corner blitz sends a guy in on the backside. Gardner spins away like he does, can't find a throw he likes, gets in more trouble, and eventually throws it away. (PR, N/A, protection 2/2, RPS -1). PR because this is a blindside free run and the throwaway is a bonus, not a negative.
M44 3 6 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Back shoulder fade Gallon 20
Beauty throw and catch against press coverage that picks up a first down and more. (DO, 3, protection 2/3, team -1). ND had sent six and got their delayed guy through, but not in time.
O34 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 3-4 base Run Zone stretch Green -1
Hyper-aggressive ND LB shoots a gap and tackles in the backfield. Basically nothing M could do. RPS -2.
O35 2 11 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Middle screen Funchess 10
Would prefers something that tries to suck those LBs up by this does work as they get drops and the ND line bites. Pass is marginal, forcing Funchess to leap up and grab the thing with one hand; he does. Miller(-0.5) finds the same guy Glasgow(+1) does, and Glasgow puts him on the ground while Miller mills about aimlessly. Kalis(-0.5) didn't get an aggressive seal of the other LB, who comes through to tackle as a filling safety unblocked by Miller comes down. RPS +2. (MA, 1, screen)
O25 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over Run Iso Toussaint 4
Again ND is just ripping at the line at the snap, with the MLB meeting Kerridge in the backfield. Schofield(+1) gets a great upfield kick on Tuitt, possibly helped by the idea that Gardner will roll out. Miller(+1) and Kalis(+1) get movement on Nix and bury him, catching the other linebacker on Nix's legs; Toussaint(+1) cuts behind the Kerridge(+1) block to pick up the first down.
O21 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-4 base Run Zone stretch Toussaint 3
Safety rolled down and blitzing. At this point it's clear ND is firing one of their LBs at the line hard and having the other guy run parallel to the LOS to clean up. Lewan(+1) and Glasgow(+1) end up taking the blitzing S and playside end; end falls and Glasgow pancakes him as Lewan kicks the other dude. Toussaint(-0.5) runs outside the gap-shooting ILB and cuts up by that other ILB is running such that Schofield has no prayer of blocking him and he cleans up along with an overhanging safety who started the play eight yards off the LOS. Toussaint did have a cut he might have missed. RPS -1. Picture paged.
O18 2 7 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-4 even Pass Waggle TE drag Butt 9
ND ready for this, shooting Tuitt straight upfield and threatening to get a big sack; Gardner manages to get around it, barely. He points Butt out to stop him and then throws another dart to pick up a first down. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)
O9 1 G I-Form twins 2 1 2 3-4 base Run Zone stretch Toussaint -5
MLB shoots the gap and nails Toussaint in the backfield. RPS -2. Zero chance anyone could do anything but die on this play.
O14 2 G I-Form 2 2 1 3-4 base Pass Corner Butt Inc
Butt in the slot. ND sends six and is basically in pure man; Michigan wants to use Butt like ND used Eifert last year, throwing him a punt against a much smaller guy. Ace and I had an argument doing the podcast about if this was more on Butt or Gardner. I said Gardner, but now I think I'm wrong. It looks like Butt has plenty of opportunity to box the DB out and extend for a touchdown, but keeps drifting to the corner instead of high-pointing the ball. This allows the DB to undercut it. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O14 3 G Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 nickel Pass Post Gallon Inc (Pen +12)
Gallon beats Russell on a post move; Russell first grabs him and then hits him early with a hand wrapped around his waist. Gallon can't bring it in as a result of the interference; he gets the call. This was a perfect throw in a tiny window. (DO, 0, protection ½, Glasgow -1) Throw was made with a DL bearing down as well as Glasgow couldn't pick up a blitz.
O2 1 G Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Goal line Run Speed option Gardner 2
Gardner(+1) checks into the speed option and then makes a cut to the backside to score. Reminiscent of Denard's 2010 winner. Gardner's check discombobulated the ND defense and created the hole as ND misaligned, so no blocks necessary. RPS +1, for having that check available.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-10, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run False zone read lead Gardner 7
Finally Michigan is sick of this aggressiveness and does something about it. This is not a read, as Toussaint's mesh point is immediately aborted and then Toussaint(+0.5) goes to find a block. He pops the backside end and this would be good for the corner if Jackson(-2) had even touched the cornerback lined up over him. Gardner(+0.5) turns it up and that end comes through to tackle; still a nice gain. RPS +2, should have been a big one. Picture paged.
M44 2 3 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run False zone read Gardner 35
ND shifts from a three man line to four. M shows a zone read look, and again I don't think this is actually a read. Funchess is blocking-ish Tuitt; Tuitt sucks down inside and gives up the corner as Jaylon Smith tries to defend the slot receiver. That's the corner; Jackson(+1) finally gets a block to eliminate a corner and let Gardner(+2) be fast. RPS +3.
O21 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 even Run Power O Toussaint -1 (Pen -10)
As soon as ND reads run action those LBs are shooting gaps; Kalis meets the playside LB two yards in the backfield. So it doesn't matter that Lewan(+1) and Glasgow(+1) blew up Nix and got on the other LB; Toussaint(-1) bounces. That's a mistake as there's nothing out there for him and he may be able to pound it straight upfield for some yardage if the LB doesn't shed. Alone on the edge with multiple ND defenders he's hewed down. RPS -1. Houma gets called for a hold as he suddenly loses a blocking angle when Toussaint bounces; looks like a really weak call.
O31 1 20 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Gardner 9 (Pen -8)
This is actually a read and Gardner(+1) gets it right as he yanks the ball once the LB overcommits. Unfortunately, Funchess(-2) has again turned upfield despite the utter hopelessness of that activity, so when Michigan gets a two for one on the edge (Tuitt is also out there) they don't get full measure because a safety can come down unmolested. Lewan(+0.5) had kicked a linebacker concerned with Toussaint; Glasgow(+1) got a great block on Nix one on one. Miller gets a phantom holding call after the play, and it wasn't a wrong number; there's no hold here. Refs -3.
O39 1 28 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass TE out Funchess 5
Pretty bler about this playcall, which is all hitch stuff on first and twenty-eight. Gardner hits Funchess as the Toussaint wheel route is covered. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O34 2 23 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-4 base Pass PA comeback Gallon 13
Schofield(-2) gets smoked by a DT—guh--and that guy shoots up at Gardner. No one else is within eight yards of Gardner, though, so he steps around and sets up again. This gives Day time to beat Glasgow (understandable) and he's roaring up at Gardner now; Gardner makes a no-step throw to Gallon, who recognized Gardner's distress and started coming back to him. Telepathy, man. (DO+, 3, protection 1/3, Schofield -2)
O21 3 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-4 base Pass Corner Gallon Inc
Very, very token PA. ND sends only three, with a couple guys haning back as spies. Coverage is good, with a corner the only option; Gardner throws it. It's on target, could be a little deeper to keep it away from the DB, but Gallon has a shot at it. Actually hits him right in the hands, but he's getting bumped by the DB and he's grabbing various things so not a flat drop. Missed opportunity, though. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(38), 20-13, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Long handoff Jackson 7
Uh, okay, ND. RPS +1 (CA, 3, screen)
O16 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie zero Pass Corner Funchess Inc
Toussaint(-1) gets ripped through by Shembo as ND brings a blitz, forcing a quick throw. Gardner does have enough time to get it off without getting hit, and it's tough to tell whether the missed pass is Funchess stumbling for most of his route or Gardner just, you know, missing. I think it's probably the former since the corner route hits in a spot that is difficult to defend. YMMV. (MA, 0, protection 0/2, Toussaint -2)
O16 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie zero Pass Scramble Gardner 4
This time ND shows blitz and backs out. Miller gives a lot of ground to Nix, which is a problem, but does end up burying him once he tries to leap and bat a pass. ND has sent a delayed blitzer/spy up the middle; Garner rolls to the left, outside of Shembo, and outruns everyone to the corner. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
O12 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie zero Pass Rollout back shoulder fade Gallon 12
A perfect back-shoulder throw low and to the outside where the short Gallon can get it but the defender may as well have taken the play off. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-13, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Pistol 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Zone read keeper Gardner 7
M blocks the backside end and the LBs shoot up like they do so the corner is a given as long as Jackson(+0.5) gets a decent block on Smith on the weakside; he does. Again, this probably isn't a read. ND has adjusted on this, sending a safety hauling after Gardner ASAP, but he can't do much to hold it down. RPS +1.
M32 2 3 I-Form 2 1 2 3-4 base Run Iso Toussaint 10
ND walks a safety down for an eighth in the box. Lewan(+2) gets some help from Tuitt slanting outside on the snap but gets under him and drives him way upfield. Kerridge(+1) gets a great lead block on the LB; Glasgow(+1) handles Nix one on one and Toussaint has a nice gap to hit. Funchess got a block I guess but his guy comes off to tackle by the ankles just as Toussaint is threatening to break a big one.
M42 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA Scramble Gardner 11
Another one of these token play action fake, max protect, unleash the dragon things that invariably feature Gardner sitting 8-10 yards behind the LOS without anyone even close to him. He doesn't have anyone open on this one, so when guys come shooting up at him and a huge hole opens in the middle of the field he starts running up, using a pass fake to get one of the ILBs off his feet and picking up the first down. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
O47 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-4 base Run Iso Toussaint 3
This is definitely a double A twist blitz. Glasgow(-1) releases, finds nothing, and can't get back to effectively block anyone. Miller does an okay job with Nix; Kerridge(+1) gets a good block on the other LB. Toussaint(-0.5) is in a tough spot and picks through the guy Glasgow couldn't deal with to get a few. I think he needs to follow Kerridge and pop through the line.
O44 2 7 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass PA slant Dileo 8
Pop pass to Dileo as ND shows a seven man front against 3 WRs and man. This pass hits Dileo just below his chest and does end up taking him off his feet, but it's an easy catch. Could have been better; decent. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O36 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Tackle counter Toussaint -3
Glasgow(-2) gets beat upfield by Nix badly, and Schofield ends up running into Nix. Glasgow then turns around, leaving the MLB unblocked. Toussaint(-1) could get zero to a couple yards by blasting it at him and instead makes things worse by bouncing out into Nix.
O39 2 13 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass PA Hitch Jackson 6
Gardner picks the wrong route here as Butt, who motioned into a FB-ish position, shoots into the flat and has room to turn it up. Jackson has a guy on him and immediately gets tackled. Not the worst; suboptimal. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O33 3 7 Shotgun trips tight 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Sack N/A -8
Kalis(-2) doesn't come off a DT stunting outside and this leaves Toussaint 2 on 1 with the DE coming inside and the LB. LB picked up, DE not, sack. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Kalis -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 27-13, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Run Inside zone Toussaint 2
Miller(+1) handles Nix. Glasgow(-2) misidentifies which LB he should get, blocking a guy Kalis is already going for and allowing the other to flow unimpeded right up the middle. Toussaint has to bounce. He gets a couple. Lewan(+0.5) had a pretty decent block of Day.
M24 2 8 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Improv Dileo Inc
Gardner wants a hitch to Gallon; not there. Funchess(-1) is blocking a blitzer and lets him inside; Gardner has to flush. He holds, doesn't get called. Schofield does as Gardner rolls to him, which is nuts: Funchess literally tackled his dude and Schofield was absolutely fine on Tuitt. Gardner tries to throw back across his body to Dileo; gets his pass broken up. Sort of close to an INT, but would have been a crazy catch by Smith. (BR, 0, protection ½, Funchess -1). ND declines the hold.
M24 3 8 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB draw Gardner 10
Excellent calls as the DL is shooting upfield; ND hopes to leave their ponderous LBs back as spies. No dice. Kalis(+0.5) and Miller(+0.5) kick the DTs; Gardner(+2) is fast and stiffarms one LB. Toussaint(+0.5) got a good block; Gallon's is just okay. RPS +1
M34 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA Post Gallon 41
This throw is just perfect. This throw turns me into a twee Korean girl. This throw. Man. Right. Anyway. Another PA All Day from Borges; Gardner sets up and fires This Throw to Gallon, who catches it despite being interfered with. (DO, 2, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O25 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 10
Safety rolled down to about seven yards with Gallon out. Have to get this fixed. Or not. This seems to be a plain old iso. Glasgow(+1) and Miller(+1) blow Nix off the ball, crushing him. They absorb a LB. Day immediately swims into the iso hole on Kalis(-0.5); Kerridge pops him. Toussaint(+2) has to cut back now, and does so decisively. He's flowing upfield really fast and the unblocked LB that results because of the two for one Day got is useless. This is what people mean by “put a foot in the ground”: make one decisive cut and run real fast.
O15 2 In I-Form twins 2 1 2 3-4 base Run Power O Toussaint 2
ND rolls down a nickel blitz. M runs away from it. Aggressive playside LB gets hit by Kalis(+0.5) effectively; Kerridge(+1) rocks back Day. Funchess(+0.5) got a decent kick. Glasgow(+1) blocked Nix effectively. Plunging safeties clean it up since it's 15 yards out.
O13 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-4 even Pass Waggle drag Gallon 13
No backside contain, Gallon drags behind the line and is too fast for any LB to catch up with. Gardner just has to toss it to him and then Gallon has one filling corner to beat at the two, which is easy. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 34-20, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 3-4 base Run Iso Toussaint 3
LB meets Kerridge a yard in the backfield and convinces Fitz to cut back. This is possible as Miller(+0.5) and Kalis(+0.5) have gotten some motion on Nix. Schofield had also moved Schwenke but got tossed away at the end of the play to make his block less effective; Funchess(-1) got straight pwned by Shembo but Shembo first checks Gardner. RPS -1;
M20 2 7 Pistol FB 1 1 3 3-4 base Pass Zone read keeper Gardner -4
Same belly play they ran earlier; ND has loaded the box and blitzes an extra guy off the corner. Gardner pulls and then sees the blitz; Kerridge blocks the guy inside, who gets to the interior gap. No one optioned here. RPS -1. Gardner(-1) made it worse by trying to make a play instead of burrowing for zero.
M16 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Yakety sax N/A INT
Worst play ever. ND sends seven, basically picked up except Toussaint(-1)'s weak attempt at a cut is run through. Delayed guy is sixth and comes through the line, Gardner makes a bad decision, and then compounds it with three more. (BRXXX, N/A, protection ½, Toussaint -1)
Drive Notes: Defensive TD, 34-27, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 3-4 base Pass PA Hitch Gallon 7
S walked down and the DEs pinch in. M goes with a basic throw to get the bad taste out of Gardner's mouth, and it's smoothly completed. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M32 2 3 Pistol 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-4 base Penalty False start Funchess -5
M27 2 8 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Pass Scramble Gardner 4
ND seems to have everything blanketed here; Gardner(+1) beats Shembo to the edge after he tosses Butt away and scrambles for a decent gain. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
M31 3 4 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Rollout out Gallon Inc
Gardner has a problem similar to the OSU game last year, rolling right and not setting his feet. The pass is a duck that's short. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 34-27, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA quick seam Funchess Inc
Pop pass; thrown well behind Funchess. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
M25 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso Toussaint 22
I don't know what Toussiant thinks he sees on this; he's got a massive gap to the outside of his FB as Schofield(+1) escorts Tuitt, already slanting outside, well upfield and Funchess(+1) kicks out Smith. Kerridge(+1) buries his linebacker, and while the other guy may be able to scrape the cutback is dumb. He cuts back... and totally redeems himself by running through a Day tackle and using it to make a killer cut in the hole to shake the S. Racin' time. +2. Glasgow(-1) got chucked by Day as Day had his hands inside, in control.
M47 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-4 base Run Iso Toussaint 1
No cutback as Funchess(-1) gets run over by a linebacker. Nix blows back Miller(-1), forcing Toussaint to pick his way gingerly. He manages to get around Miller moving backwards but now everyone is collapsing on Fitz.
M48 2 9 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-4 base Pass Wheel Toussaint 31
Shembo drops off as ND sends a blitz, and he chases Funchess releasing; Toussaint is wide open on the wheel. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +3)
O21 1 10 Pistol FB 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Pitch off tackle Toussaint -2
Not sure if this is on Funchess or Kerridge, but if I had to bet a dollar, it's Funchess(-2). He's lined up to the same side the SAM backer is on this and he lets him go upfield untouched. He then starts turning around, but finally stops and then tries to find a guy to block downfield. He then runs by a linebacker. A surprised Kerridge(-1) redirects too late and gets beat around the edge; Toussaint can't cut upfield and gets taken down. Linebacker Funchess whiffed on was going to end things anyway. Lewan(+1) had sealed the playside end well; this was there if they can just get it blocked.
O23 2 12 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-4 base Pass Out and up Butt Inc
ND rolls a safety up as well. ND sends six and has man free behind it; Gardner goes at Butt, who's gotten a step on a panicking safety, but he puts it short and inside. Butt manages to get his hands on it but this is a super tough ball. (MA, 1, protection 3/3)
O23 3 12 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Back shoulder fade Gallon Inc (Pen +9)
Gardner still shouldn't throw this as ND is sitting on the BSF; these guys will have to learn to read the corner playing that and jet over the top. (BR, 0, protection ½, Kalis -1) Gardner got thwacked as Kalis was beat and Toussaint went over to help, exposing Gardner to the delayed blitzer. I've actually changed my mind on the PI here: this is weak. Refs+2.
O14 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 3-4 base Run Zone stretch Toussaint 1
Funchess(-1) tossed away by Williams. Butt doesn't help chip Day, he just releases, but I think that's correct. Smith is ripping down the line to prevent cutbacks as ND sends another guy upfield to contain Gardner. Those guys combine to tackle; Nix was coming down the line, being somewhat blocked by Miller. Push there. RPS -1.
O13 2 9 Ace 1 2 2 3-4 base Pass Waggle TE out Funchess 4
Tuitt pursuing the whole way, so no chance to set and survey; have to check down to a short route for Funchess. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
O9 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie zero Pass TE seam Funchess Inc (Pen +7)
Blitzers sent; Toussaint(-1) misreads it so when Kalis passes off Tuitt as he should, Tuitt has no one blocking him; he shoots up in the pocket. Gardner stands in and delivers a meh ball to Funchess, who got mugged the whole way. Why is Funchess trying to get outside after getting inside position on the snap? Bizarre. (CA, 0, protection ½, Toussaint -1)
O2 1 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line Pass Waggle sack N/A -2
ND waiting for this and has a guy on the edge. Kerridge gets yanked back on his route by the LB, no call, refs -1. Gardner really has no one and there is instant pressure; he tries to make something out of nothing and can't. Once too many times to this well. (PR, N/A, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O4 2 G Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Okie zero Pass In Dileo 4
ND sends the house, six guys plus a delayed one. Pure man on the outside. Dileo turns for a hitch, jabs outside, and then releases inside as the CB bites. Question marks appear over his head. Dileo scores. Welker'd. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 41-30, 4 min 4th Q. Michigan's final drive is academic but perhaps illuminating so I'll do it.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-4 base Run Inside zone Toussaint -2
Nix rips through Miller(-1) and Kalis(-1) to crush this in the backfield.
O18 2 12 I-Form 2 2 1 3-4 base Run Zone stretch Toussaint 0
Nix gets under Miller(-1) and Kalis(-1) to run down the line and crush this play, Lewan(+1) got a good block on Day. TEs again double the kickout guy, grumble. Glasgow(+0.5) appeared to get a good second level block.
O18 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Pass Scramble Gardner 14
Borges said this was a called pass, FWIW. Looks like a draw with how fast Gardner(+1) takes off. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: EOG, 41-30.


Don't be ridiculous.

Aw man I'm just havin' some fu—

Heisman doesn't cover it. MacArthur genius grant is more like it.


Yes. Wow.






I mean, look at that last one. What is that? How do you do that?

He did have the worst play in football history.

Yes, but since he's already done that he can't do it again. (Shut up, he can't.) On his other 32 throws he displayed an incredible combination of accuracy, courage, and telepathic understanding of Jeremy Gallon. It set off NFL scouts:

After witnessing Michigan's Devin Gardner's performance against Notre Dame Saturday night, I'm convinced he is not only capable of playing in the NFL but has the tools to be a franchise quarterback. …

Gardner showed the complete array of skills coaches find desirable in a starter. He capably made strong throws to every area of the field, while also showing a deft touch dropping in teardrops near the sideline. He flashed ability to make accurate throws on the move to either direction, which makes him a terror to defend on bootlegs and naked passes. Factor in Gardner's ability to execute the zone-read and some designed quarterback runs, he becomes a dangerous weapon in the backfield.

I think he's a little weak rolling right, but… uh… yeah. Holy pants. Just look at this—


Yes. The mother of all 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%

Shane Morris

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

The downfield success rate in this game was equivalent to Gardner playing Central Michigan. Or Iowa last year. Do you remember the Iowa game? Iowa doesn't because they did not participate. AND he put up seven "dead on" passes, which I'm pretty sure is a record since the paleolithic UFRs in which DO was CA and CA was MA. There were a couple borderline cases (I gave that Butt seam route on which Butt maybe had a tiny chance an MA instead of an IN), but… uh… wow.

Now consider the fact that this upcoming offensive line chart is going to be a shambles, especially in protection, and that Notre Dame returned eight starters from last year's #2 scoring defense. I think this is the best QB performance I've ever charted even including the worst play in the history of football. The Mathlete's numbers are a quick sanity check, and they agree.

Other than the worst play in the history of football, these are the negative plays to set against the embeds above and 90 rushing yards:

  • Gardner wasn't prepared for ND to sit on a back shoulder fade late, and got bailed out by a questionable pass interference penalty.
  • On a rollout he threw back across his body to Dileo only for Jaylon Smith to deflect it. Not particularly close to an INT, but a BR.
  • He missed Funchess on a pop pass.
  • He didn't set his feet and missed Gallon on third and short.
  • He probably should have pulled a couple more times on read plays.

That's it, against five touchdowns and almost 400 total yards against a defense that—yes—is still badass. I predicted that Gardner would be first-team All Big Ten in the season preview and that wildly surpassed all my expectations. Holy pants.

But it's not all sunshine and roses.

Oh man. Don't even.

Gotta do it.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 9 0.5 8.5 Well, he's Taylor Lewan.
Glasgow 7.5 10.5 -3 Hello competition level.
Miller 4 4.5 -0.5 This may be okay.
Kalis 3.5 5 -1.5 Rough, rough time in pass pro.
Schofield 2 1 1 This is his destiny.
Williams - 3 -3 Not good, but…
Funchess 1.5 10 -8.5 …this was way worse.
Butt - - - This is a win.
Magnuson - - - DNP
TOTAL 27.5 34.5 44% Oof.
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 9.5 4 5.5 Also got a blocking point. Is fast.
Morris - - - DNP
Toussaint 9.5 2.5 7 Saved some bacon.
Green - - - One carry had no shot.
Smith - - - DNP
Hayes - - - DNP
Rawls - - - DNP
Houma - - - DNC, got a weak holding call.
Kerridge 7.5 1 6.5 Isos were a high point.
TOTAL 26.5 7.5 18 Bailing out the OL.
Player + - T Notes
Gallon - - - -
Jackson 1.5 5 -3.5 Cost M  some big pickups on the edge.
Chesson 1 - 1 Okay, yeah, but he only really needed to block one guy and that was easy.
Reyonlds - - -  
Dileo - - -  
Norfleet - - - DNC
York - - -  
TOTAL 2.5 5 -2.5 More Chesson please.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 32 21 60% Kalis –7, Toussaint –6, Team –4, Schofield –2, Glasgow –1, Funchess -1
RPS 23 11 12 We love him this week

So, first: to continue our Gardner wow experience: Michigan's protection number of 60% is very, very bad and he was +5.5 on the ground largely because he is fast.

That out of the way, there are a few positives amongst mostly exploding face here. Lewan was his normal self even against Tuitt and Day. Toussaint had a good day turning nothing into something, and when Michigan went to isos in the second half Kerridge was a thumping presence.

The rest? Urgh. But first, let's continue having the fun bits.

So you are binkies with Al Borges now?

I gotta tell you something. It's pretty cool.

Here's Michigan's first pass. This would be a short completion to Jake Butt.


Notice something?


Prince Shembo is checking Funchess on an in route and no one takes the flat. The wheel is unaccounted for. Al Borges sat on this almost the whole game. Toussaint ran one more swing/wheel route, which ND covered. That's one poke at it. Didn't get that coverage again. Okay.

Borges still had it in his back pocket, and after Notre Dame had pulled to within four, he pulled it out for 31 yards on Michigan's game-sealing drive. Shembo again chased Funchess, and there was no safety help.

"Al Borges evil genius" tag: deployed.

That drive up four points with ten minutes left saw Michigan head downfield with scoring intent. Borges brought out a little pitch that should have worked as Lewan sealed Tuitt; he took a shot into the endzone with Jake Butt; he kicked it off with a pop pass to Funchess. Nothing about it indicated Michigan was content giving the ball back to Notre Dame up one score. A salute to Hoke and Borges for preventing my heart from imploding with 1:30 left.

The rest of the gameplan was good. Michigan did try their counter trey but it got blown up by Nix; they moved to more isos late after discovering some success with them; they got Gallon a free touchdown as no LB was able to stay with him as he came across the formation on a waggle. Most of the stuff that didn't work was stuff that coulda/shoulda worked but Michigan didn't execute. ND got some plays with those hopped-up linebackers, but Michigan paid them back in full.

He occasionally got burned when the defense guessed right, as everyone does, and may have let Notre Dame get away with too much aggression, but in the end his gameplan put up 41 points while getting crushed up front. This or 2010 OSU, take your pick as to his best game at Michigan.

What is with all the unconvincing play action?

I'm starting to get it. It's not really designed to muck with the safeties or pull people up. It's focused on the defensive line, and it tends to end up with Gardner sitting in an absolute cavern of a pocket.


The linebackers don't bite for a second on that. No one thinks this is a run. But Gardner ends up without anyone in the same zip code as him and can leisurely pick out which bomb to throw.

Somehow this lame play action move ends up with Gardner as well-protected as you can be, every time. (Almost every time.) I guess the DL have to respect the possibility of the handoff and can't rip upfield willy-nilly. The LBs read pass sets (Spielman will say "high hats," if you wonder what he's talking about) and aren't taken in, but the DL have much less information since they're engaged with OL. You can see them respect the RB on the long Gallon post. Tuitt holds up and tries to two-gap Lewan, and that's all she wrote for a pass rush on that play.

Toussaint didn't run for a whole lot of yards but scored a lot better than last week.

He made 14 yards out of nothing on one of his runs, and then made 22 yards out of… uh, about 22 yards when he cutback and put the moves on Farley:

Nice run!



I kind of think you should have followed your fullback, though. (ND had a linebacker playside of Miller but there is no way he can close that space down.) To be fair, he does have a crease on the backside, but he's got a lane, an alley, a boulevard where the play's supposed to go.

Toussaint also turned some minimal gains into losses when Nix would beast on someone. He'd inadvisably bounce the ball into trouble when pounding it at a linebacker gets you a yard.

But other than those things—and one of the complaints here is that Toussaint shouldn't have had to have an awesome cut in the hole as he burst out for 22 yards at a critical juncture—Fitz looked good picking through traffic.

His blitz pickups were pretty bad, unfortunately. Michigan really missed Vincent Smith in this one. Not sure what they'll do about that in the future, since they clearly did not trust anyone else to be the third down back.

The offensive line got thumped? But the yards?

The tackles were quite good. ND got a lot of pressure; only once was it a tackle getting beat. They seemed to be blocking well on the ground. Michigan could not make that relevant, though.

The interior line got beat. Nix didn't do much on the stat sheet until two tackles on Michigan's final drive, after the game had been decided, but he is a nose tackle. Do not judge nose tackles on stats. Here's what happens when Michigan goes one on one:

Bleah. There were plenty more examples. Adding to the issues, Sheldon Day* was beating Kalis like a drum in pass protection early, and somewhat late.

It wasn't all bad for them when they could get doubles in—isos were actually pretty effective. That was rare what with the ND linebackers shooting gaps all day, and they struggled to cope. They all ended up slightly negative, which I'll take against this team in game two. They've got a long way to go over the next month.

The good news is that Michigan's done playing guys who ESPN projects will come off the board third and thirteenth in the 2014 NFL draft. Some Irish fans are complaining about a lack of production from those guys after they added some weight, but I thought Nix was everything he was supposed to be; Tuitt may not have been amazing but Michigan made every effort to run away from him all night (because when they didn't stuff like this happened) and he was often matched up against a pretty good player in Taylor Lewan. Michigan should cope better with the rest of the schedule; Michigan won't face anyone near their caliber the rest of the year.

*[Argh not recruiting Sheldon Day. M ended up changing their mind about needing more DTs late and grabbing Henry. He shows promise by Day is a good player already as a true sophomore.]

I've never seen a TE score like Funchess's.

Neither have I. He got pressed into all of the blocking TE duty when Williams went out, and that went really, really badly. It's hard to pick Funchess's worst block of the day. There are a half-dozen options, mostly guys under him instantly, leaving him in a heap. He had no hope of blocking Shembo:

Here I'm not sure what his assignment is because he's not sure:

He lets the end by him. He then thinks "whoops," starts to turn around, remembers that one of his coaches told Funchess he would personally bury him in a fire ant colony if he turned upfield one more time, starts moving downfield, and runs by the linebacker. Given Kerridge's response I bet Funchess was supposed to kick the end, but it doesn't really matter because he didn't block anyone.

And here's Ishaq Williams throwing him away:

Funchess couldn't block anyone against ND, which sucks, because he continues to flash that receiving ability. If Williams comes back, Funchess might see his job under threat from Butt. His blocking can't be worse, and he's a pretty good receiver in his own right. Michigan can't afford to have their tight end on the ground looking apologetic after every play.



He is actually like Wes Welker. If Mike Leach had him at Washington State he would end the year with 150 catches.



What a great player.

While we're here:

[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   2/3 6/6   5   5/6 8/8
Jackson 1     2/2   1     3/3
Reynolds       1/1     0/1 1/1 1/1
Chesson           1      
Dileo   1/1   2/2   1 1/1   4/4
Norfleet           1     2/2
Funchess 1 1/2   2/2   1 1/2 0/1 4/4
Butt   0/1 0/1 2/2     0/1 0/1 3/3
Toussaint       1/1         2/2

No flat drops on the young season; the only negatives were Gallon not bringing in a long corner route on which he was being harassed but did get plunked in the hands and Butt not boxing out on the other corner route that ended in a PBU. Michigan got two circus catches, one each from Dileo and Funchess.


Gardner and Gallon, obviously. Lewan and Schofield were great in pass protection. Kerridge was very effective when deployed.

Maybe not so heroic?

The interior of the OL got overrun, Jeremy Jackson whiffed some important blocks, and Funchess had about a 10% successful block rate.

What does it mean for Akron the future?

I will see any Devin Gardner hype you have and raise. He and Gallon promise to be one of the most devastating combinations in the country. The stuff I saw Gardner do against Notre Dame was unprecedented in my experience. He was firing every pass you could want with excellent accuracy despite staring down rusher after rusher. He just needs to stop making one big mistake a game… but even if he does, okay.

Gallon is going to clear a thousand yards easy. Possibly by halftime of the Akron game.

The interior offensive line isn't ready to take on the NFL yet. We'll see about mortals in a few weeks.

Devin Funchess hasn't progressed as a blocker. Need AJ Williams back.

Toussaint is pretty good. Just get him some blocks, guys.



September 11th, 2013 at 5:36 PM ^

Oh sure, wait until just a few minutes before I have to leave work for the day to post this such that I cannot read until later tonight.  Thanks for the anticipation.  Thanks a lot.  You did it because BostonWolverine suggested that the site may not be set up properly for all the content, didn't you.  Just to punish us all for his insubordination?  I hate you, Boston.  I hate you so much.


September 11th, 2013 at 5:44 PM ^

Do any of our tight ends know the snap count?  Serious question - both Williams and Funchess were so behind the snap so often it seemed a) they couldn't hear it and the coaches accept that in a loud environment, or b) didn't hear it called in the huddle. Too much confusion and hesitation from both of them.

Miller is a gamer and probably knows the blocking calls, and he works really well on scoops with help.  He'll be good in much of B1G play.  But I feel bad in saying I hope Glasgow takes that job at some point, and Bryant moves to LG (even having no idea how Bryant will play).  Brian's right there were plenty more examples, and Michigan needs a stronger player there long term.


September 11th, 2013 at 6:07 PM ^

because he's going to be lethal if and only if he does. Starting to be a bit concerning at this point since he's been in the program a full year, but old habits die hard they say


September 11th, 2013 at 7:31 PM ^

Obviously I'd love for Funchess to get better on the line of scrimmage, but he's a guy who can/should get looks in the passing game (eventually) even if he's struggling to block.  It probably won't happen this year with Gallon/Dileo in the fold, but next year we lose basically the whole pass catching receiver corps.  Darboh's preseason hype may be legit and Chesson may eventually do more than block, but Funchess is a guy I'd love to see put in one on one situations with DBs. 

Next year I could definitely see the team lining up in the I with Butt and Williams in the game, then splitting out Funchess as the lone receiver (or keeping him in as an H-back type player).  That's the kind of stuff Stanford killed teams with from 2009-11.  Their receivers were often mediocre (especially with Owusu's injuries), but their running game was good enough and they ran enough goalline-like formations to get one on one matchups all over the field with giant tight ends against 5'10" defenders.


September 11th, 2013 at 6:11 PM ^

We keep saying that Fitz is good, just get him some blocks.  He definitely has the talent to be a great great back.  I'm just wondering if the vision is just not there to be elite.  He seems to struggle to find correct hole sometimes.  

(1)  Supposedly, the offensive line was wrecking people against CMU, yet Fitz's production seemed underwhelming.  

(2)  The play in the ND game where he made the fantastic jump cut seems to illustrate both his talent, and occassional lack of vision.  The hole to the right of his fullback was massive, and it seems like there is a good enough hole to squirt through between Miller and Glasgow, yet he chooses seemingly the most difficult option.


September 11th, 2013 at 6:54 PM ^

As I recall, in 2011 his vision became MUCH better as the season went on. It seems like vision is something a player wouldn't lose with time, but it may be, for Fitz, he needs plays on the field to improve his vision, and perhaps the time out with the injury set him back. I'm guessing here, but I remember being very impressed wtih his vision late in the 2011 season so not sure why it would regress.


September 11th, 2013 at 11:34 PM ^

You may be on to something. In 2011 against western Fitz had 80 yards. Apparently he did not play against ND (no rushing yards were listed for him) and only managed 46 yards against Eastern. Seems like he may just need to warm up a bit, perhaps get the OLine gelling better.

Hardware Sushi

September 11th, 2013 at 7:50 PM ^

I think a lot of it has to do with the line gelling, the blocking becoming consistent, and him developing a rapport with how the blocking plays out in front of him.

Having to guess who of Glasgow/Miller/Kalis screws up on any given play can mess with a RBs ability to see creases and holes.


September 12th, 2013 at 8:25 AM ^

I wanna say he ran for 130-something yards and had at least a 4.5 YPC.  Nebraska was the 11th game of the season.  Keep in mind also he is coming off of a leg injury.  I think he just needs some time (maybe some more September) to get back into the flow of the game; by then I believe the vision and full comfort will be back.


September 11th, 2013 at 6:20 PM ^

Is that without looking at the OL blocking it looks exactly like a stretch run - namely, Gardner and Fitz are selling it.

I must admit, I was wondering what size minus is right for WorstPlayEvah - BRXXX seems ... Prosaic.


September 11th, 2013 at 6:34 PM ^

I think Fitz will run better as he gets more in game carries with this OL.  As he gets more carries and learns the tendencies of his blockers and where the holes tend to end up on a given play, he should get better. 

Seems like two years ago he had trouble finding holes early in the year and then suddenly exploded after a few starts once he figured out where to go.


September 11th, 2013 at 7:27 PM ^

My recollection from the game was that Magnuson appeared to be going in at LT, not RT (standing on that side of line before Lewan came in).  I assume this was because they expected it to be only one play, and it wasn't worth moving Schofield back and forth for one play.


September 11th, 2013 at 6:47 PM ^

Last April I still don't understand why Gardner wasn't made first-string QB and Denard was slot WR. I find it hard to believe that the coaches didn't see this coming. If that was implemented then, I wonder where we would be now. Both Denard AND Devin would have been better off. UNLESS, that year under Denard while at WR allowed him to progress to where he is now. Guess it doesn't really matter now.


September 12th, 2013 at 8:49 AM ^

Why would you want to put the best runner in program at WR and make it harder to get him the ball? Look, I think they erred by moving Devin to WR and not allowing for some kind of 2-QB system, but Denard should always be in the backfield. He's one the best runners the B10 had seen in a generation.


September 11th, 2013 at 6:52 PM ^

Just a few random observations .... (1) Gardner will probably start getting Heisman attention this week. Definitely by the time we play any real competition. (2) Nobody in college football can get the best of Lewan. Tuitt & Clowney are off the list. He's got to be a top 7 pick. (3) Butt may have a brighter upside than Funchess. He looks the part and the coaches constantly praise him in the pressers. (4) Gardner may have more talent than any UM QB in my lifetime [29 yo]. There have been faster QBs, and there have been bigger arms, but he's got a mix of skills that Michigan has never seen. You can run virtually any style of offense at any point of the game. Pray for Gardner's health, because he is special.


September 11th, 2013 at 6:55 PM ^

I said this back on 8/25:

"I don't think we've seen the real Devin Gardner yet.  I really, REALLY hate to get excited about a guy, but the character judge in me is itching to get this out -- I don't think the B1G is gonna know what hit them.  They're going to watch these same plays, and target what they think are Gardner's weaknesses, and they'll crap their pants when they find out he's eliminated them."



September 11th, 2013 at 7:02 PM ^

Wow... had no idea Funchess was this terrible at blocking until seeing it here.  If he was even mildly serviceable Fitz would've easily been over 100 yards.  If we clean that, and the interior O line up even 25%, this offense will be unstoppable even with only one marquee receiver.

Space Coyote

September 12th, 2013 at 8:44 AM ^

  1. This is what he reads here, that Kalis gets beat playside. This is why he doesn't hit that hole.
  2. The nice thing is that he cuts back to the designed cut back lane for an iso rather than try to bounce it outside. So he's doing better getting down field and running within the design of the play.
  3. While he reads the block correctly, I think to some degree he needs to trust the play and his team to do their job. In this case, the right side of the line killed ND, and Kalis was at least fighting to get square, on top of the FB killing his guy so the defender Kalis is blocking wouldn't be able to shed Kalis and make a play.
  4. What this all amounts to is Fitz is reading it correctly, but he still may not be feeling it or trusting his blocking yet. It's kind of a toss up.

FWIW, I have the same complaint about when DG hits Butt and he has a wide open receiver that he should hit outside of it. Well, not necessarily. It a perfect world, sure, he takes a quick glance to see if his second read is more open. But this is the real world, and he's going through his progressions and Butt is open and first in the progression. It's playing within the play and not trying to make more of it than that, even when it doesn't necessarily look like that. 


Harvard Wolverine

September 11th, 2013 at 7:05 PM ^

Not a relevant question though -- I know a lot of fans refer to Greg Robinson as "GERG." What does this exactly mean? I can tell that it is a derisive thing but not sure what that word exactly mean


September 11th, 2013 at 7:14 PM ^

I mean in the exchange rate between recruitment hype and productivity based on expectation when recruited. 

I will say this: The most influential and productive players on Michigan's offense, are RR recruits. You could also argue that the most dynamic defender is also his recruit, Jake Ryan. 

I remember when these guys were recruited. And they were are regarded as lesser recruits because of their size. I thought Ryan when recruited would become an outstanding player. But I also thought that of Dileo and Denard. 

RR recruited a national record-holding quarterback in rushing for Michigan. He also recruited Devin Gardner, who is already on his way to becoming a Michigan legend. And let's recognize the obvious, when your coaches give you the school's most mythical number to wear, and tell a skeptical media, that even if he had Johnny Manziel, that Devin Gardner would start ahead of him, I don't think its motivation. 

But here's my point, Hoke and staff have done a magnificent job of reclaiming the Block M image in college football. But the sexiest elements of this team belong to work performed by the prior regime in getting certain players to play at Michigan. So, when we talk about the best go-to guys on this team, possible All-Americans and toughness, lets also remember how these guys got to Michigan, and who recruited them.