Upon Further Review 2014: Offense vs Indiana

Submitted by Brian on November 7th, 2014 at 3:23 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan debuted a Stanford-esque formation on which the entire world lined up across the front:

Ace Errybody

This had three tight ends (Williams, Kerridge, and Erik Magnuson, usually) and Funchess. I called it "Ace Errybody" because I feel we've forgotten about Antoine Dodson's raconteur status.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: OL as per usual, with Magnuson donning 81 to moonlight as a blocking tight end. Bo Dever got some late run at WR, seemingly after Norfleet was injured. RB actually started out with Hayes and then mixed Smith in; when both Hayes and Smith ended up dinged Johnson got his shot.

[After THE JUMP: precisely calibrating how fast our Drake Johnson roll should be.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 ??? Pass Bubble screen Funchess 8
Easy money with two guys playing way off; Norfleet(-1) gets his block run through instead of trying to go low and Funchess(+1) looks like he'll have to settle for 4 or so when he spins through a tackle and nears the first down. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
M28 2 2 Ace Biggish 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Hayes 1
IU doesn't respond to M moving Norfleet to a tiny TE spot providing a triple flank to the field; they run straight up the middle, with Glasgow(-1) and Miller(-1) collectively mis-IDing something and letting both LBs fly through untouched to bury Hayes. RPS -1.
M29 3 1 Ace Errybody 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Smith 14
Again no react to M's overload and this time they run at it to good effect. Mags(+1) and Heitzman(+1) bury the backside LB and there's no one else out there with a corner checking Funchess and the closest LB eliminating himself by running straight upfield. RPS +1. Smith(+1) runs through dudes for YAC.
M43 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA Improv Darboh 34
Kind of waggle but not really with guys on the backside blocking. Braden loses a DE but he is in acres of space and recovers to push his guy past Gardner without much difficulty on Gardner's part so we'll give him a pass. Gardner steps up and finds Darboh; BTN replay work is just spectacularly bad here but IIRC this was a hitch route Darboh broke deep once the play went into improv mode. Gardner his him over the top for a nice catch and run. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, Darboh route +(!))
O23 1 10 Pistol twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone stretch Hayes 2
Bleah. Miller(-1) doesn't get a seal on the nose, who is shaded a tiny bit playside but shouldn't be a huge deal. Kalis eventually decides to go behind him downfield to a linebacker; Braden(+1) does get his helmet across the backside DE and slows down, but Williams(-0.5) can do little with the backside OLB and there's not much crease there. Hayes tries to hit it outside Miller but he has to arc a bit to get around Miller's guy and that gives the LB time to stick for little gain.
O21 2 8 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Throwback screen Funchess 0
I don't get this: they have Funchess just stand straight up instead of working toward the middle so Braden has no hope of getting to Funchess before the safety gets there; Gardner's throw doesn't help either, as it takes Funchess directly to the DB. (MA, 3, screen, RPS -2)
O21 3 9 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Dumpoff Hayes 2
Gardner can't find anything attractive downfield despite a six man pressure M picks up with aplomb; I think he misses Funchess wide open for a good shot at the first, instead checking down to an immediately-hit Hayes. (BR, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: FG(36), 3-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Corner Funchess Inc
Gardner will tons of time against a five man pressure; he just misses Funchess at the five. (IN, 0, protection 3/3)
O27 2 10 Ace Biggish 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone stretch Hayes 0
Indiana stunts on the edge playside, shooting a guy inside of Kerridge(-1) and looping an end around this. Kerridge gives a lot of ground and Hayes has a crappy decision to make between bouncing around a guy in the backfield (rarely a good idea) and just hammering it up; choose the hammer and gets nailed by Kerridge's guy. Glasgow(-1) and Miller(-1) both left a DT, so he is now unblocked in the middle of the hole. Kalis(+1) did get a cross and butt-block the backside DT. RPS -1.
O27 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Out Darboh 13
Six man pickup again; Darboh runs a seven yard out that Indiana is in the parking lot on with Funchess drawing deep attention; he easily turns it up for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 4/4)
O14 1 10 Ace Errybody 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Smith -2
Glasgow(-2) gets blown through; Braden(-0.5) runs by a DE who falls in all the frontside lanes with Mags(-0.5) unable to do much. Smith is too slow to cut backside unless Glasgow gets a better block here.
O16 2 12 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Midline IZ read Smith 10
Hijinks tackle over play with Cole and Braden next to each other and Williams on the weakside. Williams is covered so he can't go downfield (or at least he should be, looks like refs miss an illegal formation, refs +1), but whatever. M runs a midline(!) zone read on which the 3-4 end is set loose as Cole flares for an OLB; Gardner really could keep as the DE doesn't seem to play either but whatever. Glasgow(+0.5) gets some depth on a DT, loses him. Williams(+0.5) provides a solid kick. Smith gets to the edge, runs through a tackle from the MLB, who no one got to, and then gets some extra on the edge with Norfleet(+0.5) and Canteen(+0.5) getting decent stalk blocks. Smith(+2) runs through another tackle to near the first down.
O6 3 2 Ace Errybody 1 3 1 6-2 bear Pass Improv Heitzman 6
PA gets no bites, and then there's a DB running at Gardner. Gardner escapes to the outside, thinks about Smith, decides no, and then flips a wobbler just as he's being taken down near the LOS. Okay. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-3, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Counter power Smith 0
IU MLB appears to be reading the G pull and not the counter action in the backfield so he attacks the POA aggressively and gives Kalis zero shot to block him. Braden(-2) has a down block for a second then gets off balance and stumbles out of the picture when the DE spins. Those two guys are unblocked in the hole. Glasgow(+1) did get a good, tough block on a guy charging inside of him he had to adjust to. Kerridge(+1) popped his guy back; Smith(-1) had something on the edge and tried to cut back inside and that was doom.
M40 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Flanker screen Funchess 8
Questionable decision here by Funchess to go outside when he's got a lane between the two WRs but it works out I guess. RPS +1, two on three. (CA, 3, screen)
M48 3 2 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Run Down G Smith 0
Smith blows this. Miller(+1) slashes the NT to the ground as IU stunts their two playside guys again. Mags(+0.5) gives some ground but puts the stunter on the ground; Smith(-2) goes outside of that and has an opportunity to ram it directly upfield on third and two and does not. Partially slow recognition, partially slow cuts.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Ace twins 2 1 2 Base 3-5 Pass PA TE flat Kerridge 17
Eight in the box with a deep safety over the middle of the field leaves M two on two with the WRs; play action sucks in the guys in the box and Darboh's route is a hitch that picks off one of the two DBs while the other goes deep with Funchess; easy chunk. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +2)
M46 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Hayes 3
One of those frustrating under center plays where you get it right but you don't have anyone for a safety. Cole(+1) turns a DE upfield; Glasgow(+1) hits a DL and then pops a LB and Hayes finds a pretty obvious backside gap. He's just through it when the safety pops up and he's surrounded by three IU guys for a meh gain. RPS -1.
M49 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Hitch Darboh Inc
A virtual replay of Gardner's first INT against PSU last year: playside slot defender runs for the hitch on the snap and Gardner doesn't see it, or the wide open slot guy. This is flat dropped by the DB; Darboh was probably going to tackle him if he did catch it. (BRX, 0, protection 1/1)
M49 3 7 shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Sack N/A -2
Gardner has epic buckets of time to find someone against a four man rush. Sacked. (TAX, 0, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Penalty False start Chesson -5
Chesson, cumong. -1
M16 1 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Long handoff Darboh 7
Looks there, turns out to be a bad idea as the Indiana corner makes a great read to get there after starting nine yards off, and then Darboh(+2) is like NOPE. (CA, 3, screen)
M23 2 8 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Corner Funchess 17
Pretty all around as M picks up another blitz, this a five man variety, and IU's set up such that a LB is the flat defender in a cover two look. Gardner can probably know where he's going presnap and the corner comes open. Easy. (DO, 3, protection 3/3, RPS +1)
M40 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Throwback screen Funchess 2
No idea what Chesson(-2) is thinking. He's cracking down on the slot LB and has him, then appears to see Cole getting out in the pattern and bails to go get a corner. If he blocks the guy Cole goes around and Michigan is in business for a nice play; as it is Funchess gets greedy trying to turn five into more and gives up a few with a spin move. (CA, 3, screen)
M42 2 8 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Counter power Johnson 18
Horribly misplayed by the IU MLB, who first sucks up into the counter action and then trips over his own guy as he tries to scrape to the edge; IU actually had this pretty well figured out as long as they had a force guy. They did not. Kalis(+1) and Cole(+0.5) got motion on blocks with Kalis sealing his guy to the interior and giving Johnson the corner quickly. Johnson(+1) does make a DB miss for some extra.
O40 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Scramble Gardner 5
M tries to hit IU deep by running a flanker screen fake. IU doesn't bite, Gardner wisely takes off for what he can get. Any Qs about his health are answered on this play, as he gets five when he would normally get 20. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
O35 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Gardner 4 + 15 pen
I think this is supposed to be midline but IU went with a four man front so it's just the backside end getting let go again; Williams releases to the outside of him. He crashes hard, Gardner pulls. Kalis(-1) falls down; he would have been useful for attacking the MLB; meanwhile IU is not attending to the bubble very much so the slot guy is also in the area. Gardner(+1) dances near the marker. IU gets a late hit off the ball.
O16 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Seam Funchess Inc
Gardner throws a near pick to a totally bracketed Funchess with Darboh running open for a TD right inside of him. Maybe if you put this up for your freak WR I can see it; this is on a line and very bad. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2)
O16 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Penalty False start Kalis -5
Grim. Kalis –1.
O21 2 15 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Out Williams 9
Six man pickup. IU left both hitches wide open, Gardner takes the shorter one to Williams for some YAC. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O12 3 6 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Slant Darboh 12
Another six man pickup; no time to get home as Gardner throws an immediate slant dart to Darboh that he brings in despite getting hit on the catch. (CA, 2, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-0, 7 min 2nd Q. EOG? Pretty much.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 Base 3-5 Pass Scramble N/A 1
Again all day, no throw, and an unnecessary sack type activity. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
M32 2 9 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Long handoff Funchess 0
Similar result as the Darboh one except no crazy broken tackle. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)
M32 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Post Funchess INT
The sad bit is this is probably a huge gain if Gardner just puts some air on the ball instead of rifling it on a line. (INX, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 17-9, 3 min 2nd Q. M's next possession is just running out the first half clock and is not charted.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace trips bunch 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Waggle out Darboh 6
M fakes the power version of their counter and gets Gardner the edge with Braden getting a block on an end who goes inside of him. Darboh gets caught up on a LB for a bit, LB tries to contain Gardner and opens up the little flip behind. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M31 2 4 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Counter zone Smith 1
Counter action sees IU shoot a corner into the backfield before anyone can react. Smith(+1) dodges his tackle but timing is now disrupted and a safety comes down to finish it for little gain. RPS -2.
M32 3 3 Shotgun trips bunch 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Bubble screen Norfleet Inc
Smith dinged on last play so Johnson comes in. Easy first down with Kerridge(+1) and Funchess(+1) creating a clear path to the first down with exciting jukes in our future; Norfleet drops it. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-0, 13 min 2nd 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 Base 3-4 Pass Comeback Funchess 12
Again a thousand years for Gardner as M goes max pro against a four man rush. He eventually finds Funchess open for a good gain. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
M37 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone stretch Johnson 2
Late move down of the slot LB seems to confuse M OL. Glasgow(-1) doesn't hit anyone as he extends to a second level without touching the NT shaded playside despite having no one in front of him. Miller can't do a whole lot with him as a result; Johnson cuts behind him correctly and gets eaten up by an unblocked LB. Heitzman(-1) totally lost the backside LB to prevent a cutback; that might have been profitable. Braden(+0.5) got some depth and push on a backside guy.
M39 2 8 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run End around Norfleet 2
IU seems to have a backside stunt on that helps them defeat this; backside end moves outside to start and then flares once the play is obvious. Glasgow(-0.5) is pulling to block and only gets a hand on him; he contains. Norfleet(+1) does well to cut inside and dance through about three tackles to get back to the LOS. RPS -2.
M41 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Hitch Darboh 10
Six man pressure picked up okay but if Gardner has to wait it's trouble. IU playing super soft on the edge though so the quick hitch is there with no contest at all. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Johnson 0
This is a missed pull by Gardner if Gardner can pull and has an ankle that's right, as the backside OLB is crashing down. Braden(-2) is driven back and thrown to the ground, so that DE is blowing up various frontside lanes. Miller(-1) gives up a ton of ground while getting two gapped. Cole actually connects and pushes for a potential cutback that Johnson(-0.5) does not take; if he does likely to scrape out a couple more.
O49 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Hitch Darboh 6
Long throw, DBs in parking lot, corner route by Funchess delays CB's attack. Darboh catches and turns up for reasonable YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O43 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Angle Funchess Inc
Funchess motions across the formation and Gardner hits him. Funchess clearly hit early, no flag (refs -2); can't bring it in. (CA, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Run Zone stretch Johnson 1
IU ignores Gardner, so backside guy just hauls down the line. Johnson has to cut back with IU going hard playside; Miller(+1) does get his guy downfield and to one side so there's a lane for Johnson... that gets filled by the super-aggressive backside end and a linebacker M had no shot at blocking. RPS -2.
M17 2 9 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Johnson 13
Only five and a half in the box as IU slides heavily to the trips side. The only ILB in the box then takes a false step to the bubble action when that's not his job; Kalis(+1) seals in a DT and Braden(+1) gets a big kick on one of the OLBs and Johnson is presented with an enormous hole and free path to the secondary. RPS +2.
M30 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Johnson 2
Bad cut from Johnson(-2) here as Michigan has seriously creased IU right up the middle. Glasgow(+1) and Miller(+1) get motion on the NT, with Glasgow shooting him to the side while Mille goes for a LB. Cole(+0.5) gets to another LB only to find his blocking angle gone; Kalis may have been losing his battle but the DE he's dealing with hops outside when he sees Johnson cut there; by doing this Johnson exposes himself to an unblocked DB.
M32 2 8 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Hitch Darboh 13
Blitz picked up; Darboh finds an open pocket underneath a cover-3 corner for an easy pickup. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, Darboh route +)
M45 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Pass Dumpoff Smith 5
Four man rush picked up; Cole does have a little trouble with his guy but the rest of the pocket is fine so Gardner can step up and around that pressure. He breaks to the open field and flips to Smith for some yards. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
50 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Counter power Smith 0
Terrific play by Latham, who comes from the backside of the play to tackle really quickly. Miller(-1) got beat but the play kind of needs this DT to get aggressive upfield so Miller can get him and he just read that thing from the start. Glasgow(+1) turned in his gentleman effectively; Kerridge(-1) ends up lunging through an edge defender instead of effectively blocking him. RPS -1; read of this counter leads to its demise.
50 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Scramble Gardner 10
Yet another six man pickup, with Hayes doing yeoman work finding blitzers. A lane opens up in the middle, and since this is man coverage there's little response on the second level until it's too late. Gardner(+1) stiffarms a LB to pick up some bonus yards. (SCR, N/A, protection 3/3)
O40 1 10 Ace Biggish 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Johnson 3
Freddy Canteen(-2) brought in to play tiny TE, which makes no sense. He's whipped by a DB and immediately lets his guy in to the play. That's too bad because a cutback opens up with Williams(+1) and Cole(+1) controlling guys slanting to the play. Kerridge(+0.5) and Glasgow(+0.5) find second level blocks and Johnson hits the hole, getting tripped by the guy Canteen couldn't block. Why they do this I have no idea. (RPS -1)
O37 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Counter power Johnson 8 - 15 Pen
Kalis(+1) bashes the nose tackle inside; one LB takes the counter action and bites hard on it, erasing himself; Miller(+0.5) makes sure of it. Braden(+1) gets depth on his block and while he gets ripped to the ground he gets back up to continue blocking the DE; Glasgow(+1) gets a good hit on the other LB and Johnson(+0.5) hits the hole, dragging a backside defender some distance. Miller(-2) gets a PF after the play.
O44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Counter power Johnson 5
Slant away by Indiana; Glasgow(-1) hits the guy Williams(+0.5) probably has as he expects the same hole as last time. He does come off of this to provide some obstruction to the guy he's actually supposed to block; Johnson(+1) cuts inside with this aide to get to the second level. Braden(+0.5) got a good second level block; Kalis loses a DT, who recovers to tackle but does so five yards downfield.
O39 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Dig Dever 26
Five man rush picked up. Gardner moves forward in the pocket as IU threatens and finds Dever running wide open. Throw is a tiny bit low; Dever grabs it but that action takes him off balance and he stumbles until he falls over, untouched. (CA, 2, protection 3/3)
O13 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone stretch Johnson 8
Blitz off the backside with everyone slanting playside. Glasgow(+2) does an excellent job to read that his nominal second level target is backing out into pass coverage and holds up to erase the slanting DE Cole is never going to have a shot at. Cole(-0.5) does not make this read, which should see him slow up to hamper one of the two guys shooting at Johnson on the backside, but that's tough. Johnson(+1) finds the lane and is through it quickly. He's past the guy Cole didn't delay but that guy swipes at Johnson's feet and he starts going to ground by the time a DB gets to him. Miller(+0.5) helped form the lane; Braden(-2) got clubbed to the ground by a DE and without the Glasgow adjustment this is likely a TFL.
O5 2 2 Ace Errybody 1 3 1 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Johnson -1
Extended doubles on the NT and playside DE get no motion, with Mags(-0.5) and Braden(-0.5) particularly hampered. I do think Johnson(-0.5) misses an opportunity go straight NS at an unblocked guy on the backside for a decent shot at getting the first down.
O6 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Pass Out Funchess Inc
This is interference on the DB, who has his arm wrapped around Funchess's waist as he goes for the PBU. (CA, 0, protection 1/1, Refs -2)
Drive Notes: FG(22), 27-3, 7 min 4th Q. I'm not charting the final bits but here are Johnson's runs for discussion. He got +4 on them.

/waves tiny flag

Pretty much. While Michigan did eventually pull away from Indiana, this is an opponent that gave up 45 to BGSU in a loss and is currently 91st in YPP allowed. Michigan eventually got up to 6.3 in that department, largely thanks to a late surge after the game was already decided.

I don't think we can take much away from this game.

And this is why you are hating on Drake Johnson with all fibers of your being.

I don't know if I'd describe it in such terms. I would describe it as "skepticism that 16 carries against Indiana means much".

Johnson looked fast and he made a couple of solid cuts. He didn't look that much different than he had in his previous cameos. A lot of his yards came when Indiana just failed to show up:

Indiana played that power play to "spill"—to force the back outside into an unblocked defender—and spilled it, but the IU MLB derped it so Johnson got a free first down. Another big gain came when Indiana put five in the box and the sole linebacker took a false step towards a bubble screen that IU had covered by alignment; a third saw Indiana badly misaligned presnap, requiring Johnson to hit an obvious hole and run through one leg tackle.

Johnson wasn't immune to bad cuts, as here Michigan's IZ game creates a nice crease up the middle that Johnson avoids in favor of a doomed outside cut:

I mean, this is no time to bounce:


Johnson did make some yards himself; this is a nice progression through the power blocks to the second level.

Again, though, a key mistake by an Indiana player helps out. One of the IU LBs bites on the counter step really hard. There are so many factors beyond the running back himself that allow you to grab yards.

Like blocking. The other backs' lack of production was mostly because stuff like this was happening:

Hayes is doing the right thing on this stretch but because Michigan can't work through the nose tackle he gets busted by a linebacker in the hole:

There was a lot of this early, and even when Michigan did get a guy a gap their complete lack of downfield threat allowed Indiana safeties to come down just as the RB was exiting the hole.

To me, the increase in production was mostly due to Michigan improving its blocking and a high probability of DGAF on Indiana's part after the failed onside kick.

I will say that Johnson feels a lot less ponderous than Smith does. Here Smith's got a lane for the first down that he does not see until late and then his change of direction is slooooow:

Meanwhile Johnson hits this cutback lane as fast as he can and just barely pops through it:

Very easy to see Smith get hacked down by that gentleman on the backside. And Johnson's final run was his most impressive of the day:

The second level stuff is all well and good; I like the cut to get through the line a great deal. I have been waiting for a Michigan back to feel the development of a zone play and hit it in the right spot all year.

Johnson reminds me of Carlos Brown: very fast in a straight line, goes down easily, one-cut zone back. Combine Smith's power and balance with Johnson's speed and Hayes's quicks and you'd have something. All three seem to be lacking major bits of being a top tier RB.

So: yeah, Johnson has earned more carries alongside Smith and Hayes. I don't think we should be yelling about his lack of PT so far since the bet here is that he doesn't separate himself from the other two over the last three games.


oh right that thing

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Cole 3 0.5 2.5 Didn't mess anything up.
Glasgow 8 6.5 1.5 Early struggles but did well late.
Miller 4 7 -3 PF in here for –2.
Kalis 4 2 2  
Braden 4 7 -3 Falling over too much.
Magnuson 1.5 1 0.5  
Williams 2 0.5 1.5  
Kerridge 2.5 2 0.5  
Heitzman 1 1 0  
Butt       DNP
TOTAL 30 27.5 52% Really rough outing against a bad team. Progress? Not really happening.
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 2   2 Couple scrambles.
Morris       DNP
Green       DNP
Smith 3 3 0 Slow but mean.
Hayes       DNC; few opportunities to make anything happen.
Johnson 7.5 3 4.5 Gotta see if he can keep doing it.
Shallman - - - DNC
Kerridge N/A N/A N/A moved to TE for now
Houma       DNC
TOTAL 4.5 4 0.5 Eh.
Player + - T Notes
Funchess 2   2  
Chesson   3 -3  
Darboh 2     Badass stiffarm.
Norfleet 1.5 1 0.5  
Canteen 0.5 2 -1.5 Tiny TE didn't go well.
Dever - - - DNC
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 6 6 0 Eh.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 52 0 100% !!!!
RPS 9 14 -5

No deep stuff.

That is a first: a perfect pass protection metric. Indiana sent a ton of five and six man pressures and I don't think a single one got through. Hayes was particularly effective at finding the free guy and hitting him.

When Michigan did allow a little pressure it was almost always one guy who still had an OL attached to him, allowing Gardner to step up and around.

So that was excellent. Not so excellent: Michigan's run blocking. I shorted them a few pluses by not tracking the last two plays but I avoid garbage time for a reason. IU actually has a couple of players on their DL this year—Darius Latham is legit, a four-star prospect who somehow ended up at IU and plays like it—but they posted a worse number than they did against MSU. Yipes.

Meanwhile, Gardner…

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%
Iowa 3 12(5)+ 2(1) 5(1) - 2 2 4 3 68%

Devin Gardner 2014

App State 1 11(4) - 2(1)   1 - 1 1 82%
Notre Dame 3 17(3) 2 1 6(1)** 3 - 2 2 68%
Miami(NTM) 1 9(1) 1 3 2 - 1 2 2 65%
Utah 2 9(2) 5 5** 1* 1 1 4 3 60%
Minnesota   3   1 1 1     2 N/A
Rutgers 4 14(3) 1 3* 2 2*     4 73%
Penn State 2 12(3) 2(1) 4   4 1 1 1 57%
MSU 1 14(11) 1 4* 1* 1   2 1 68%
Indiana 2 19(5) 1(1) 2* 3** 2*     2 72%

Gardner is what he is, part LXIII. He breaks the downfield success rate metric by being generally accurate and then having buckets of very bad events—each * is a very bad play.

There were of course the two WTF throws to Indiana; there we other bad reads as well. Here he's got his favorite target open for a first down against a six man pressure and he dumps it to Hayes for little gain:

That's a punt, which is kind of a turnover. Meanwhile, the coulda-shoulda INT was a virtual replay of Gardner's second pick against Penn State last year, with the slot corner flying out to undercut a hitch:

Slot is handwavingly wide open; Gardner throws a doomed pass anyway. The actual interception was a fine enough decision as long as Gardner puts air under the ball; instead he throws a ball on a line directly into the chest of a defender.

Funchess is bursting past a safety moving parallel to the LOS; the other safety is checking another WR. That would have been a touchdown if Gardner wasn't hopelessly broken.

It is what it is.

I feel in need of a repeated complaint. Doesn't feel right to have one of these without one.

Michigan's inability to run WR screens continues to amaze. For the second straight week Funchess turned down a clear lane between two DBs to head for the sideline; this one worked out better than last week but it was an unnecessary risk that gained no yards.

Funchess was later set up for great success until Chesson inexplicably decided to block someone else moments before he made contact with the slot LB.

Chesson blocks slot, Cole goes around him to harass the corner, and Funchess has a first down easy. And this is an instant from happening when Chesson decides he's doing it wrong. I don't get it, man. These are not hard plays; this is not trying to ID seventy different possible stunts and slants against inside zone. And Michigan can't get it right.

What is with this tiny TE thing?

I do not know. I mean, I know that hypothetically it gives opponent another gap to defend and stretches them along the line so that your back has better opportunities to find lanes. I just don't think Michigan is anywhere near pulling this off, especially when Funchess is left outside.

Outside of short yardage, I hate big formations. I especially hate them when your offensive line can be charitably described as "developing" and your tight ends are indifferent-at-best blockers. And in this game when Michigan tried to pack it in they were stunningly incompetent. Plays with either one wide receiver on the field or using one of two as a tiny TE:

  • One carry that went for 14 yards the first time Michigan went to it because Indiana did not adjust to the overload.
  • Seven other carries that netted two yards.

They did have a touchdown from one of their Ace Errybody formations… that came after Gardner danced around and flipped a shovel pass to a suddenly open Heitzman. As tactical innovations go, NOPE.


[0 = uncatchable, 1 = circus catch, 2 = moderate difficulty, 3 = routine]

Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Funchess 3     5/5   19 2/7 7/11 32/34
Chesson           4 0/3 2/3 8/8
Darboh 1   1/1 7/7   11 2/4 4/5 19/20
Norfleet       0/1   1 0/2 0/1 12/14
Canteen           2   1/1 2/3
Butt           3 3/4   7/8
Hill           2 0/1 0/1 3/3
Williams       1/1   1     3/4
Heitzman       1/1         2/3
Jones           1   1/1  
Dever     1/1         1/1  
Green             1/2   1/1
Smith           2 0/1   1/1
Hayes       1/1   3 1/1   5/5
Kerridge       1/1     0/1   2/2

ROUTES: Darboh +2.

Hardly anything that was remotely difficult; Norfleet dropped a sure first down on a bubble screen.

Darboh did do this on a bad-idea long handoff:

So there's that.


Drake Johnson, Amara Darboh, Justice Hayes (for pass protection), rest of OL for pass protection.

Maybe not so heroic?

Gardner didn't have enough production to offset his very bad plays. The OL struggled on the ground.

What does it mean for Northwestern and the future?

Northwestern's not great, but they're close to ND statistically and not too close to Indiana. At this point there seems to be no hope that Michigan will break out of its funk. Gardner is who he is at this point, so Michigan gets in bad spots; the OL is a work in progress, etc. Drake Johnson did show something and may as well see if it continues.



November 7th, 2014 at 3:45 PM ^

is like a fart you cut at the office and you think you're in the clear but right when you think you're good your managing director comes up to your desk and makes eye contact with you and you both know how bad it is and you feel really bad about it but you still need to carry on with business.  


November 7th, 2014 at 3:46 PM ^

He is totally broken, stares down Funchess like he has blinders on or tunnel vision. It's painful to watch, especially knowing what he could have been i.e. vs Notre Dame(2013), vs IU(2013), vs Iowa(2012) he could have been something special.


November 7th, 2014 at 4:25 PM ^

Even when he was playing well, Gardner had a tendency to lock onto one receiver -- Gallon.

The difference was that Gallon got open more often. Or Borges got Gallon open more often. And Gallon caught everything. As much as I love Funchess's potential, his hands are not dependable.


November 7th, 2014 at 7:40 PM ^

I think the big difference in whether or not Michigan performed well last year boiled down to Devin/Borges' ability to spread the field. 

If you look at the Notre Dame/Ohio State games, Funchess/Gallon had 11/21 and 13/32 of the receptions. That's 52% and 40% of the receptions in those games.

In that four game run of MSU, Nebraska, Northwestern and Iowa where the offense was dreadful, Funchess/Gallon had 11/15, 11/18, 17/24, 7/13. That's 73%, 61%, 71% and 54% (and that 54% is skewed lower due to Funchess dropping a 3-4 balls). 

Was the problem that Borges struggled to put together gameplans that got more people involved, but when he did it loosened up the defense and allowed the offense to thrive or was it simply Gardner being incredibly inconsistent and not executing the gameplan most of the time? 

Take a guy like Drew Dileo: Against Notre Dame he had 3 catches for 18 yards and a TD. Against Ohio State he had 5 catches for 60 yards and a TD. Against the other opponents (and to be fair, he was hurt for some of those games) he had one catch for 6 yards. 

Jake Butt had 5 catches for 85 yards and a TD against Ohio State. In the previous four games he had 5 for 50 yards and a TD (and the TD came in OT against Northwestern). 

Who knows anything though. 


November 8th, 2014 at 5:32 AM ^

I feel this offense biggest issue is the inability to stretch the field vertically. It's hard to tell on tv, but it seem like guys are coming open around 25 to 35 yards down field and Gardner doesn't even attempt to throw them the ball especially if he has to throw on the run. Last year he could make that throw. So is did his broken foot mess him up mechanically, or does he have another undisclosed injury?

On top of that they don't even attempt to throw deep. I can only recall a couple times they have tried this and one of them was the Funchess TD vs Penn State, and that ball was under thrown. Nuss isn't that bad of a coordinator to just not even bother to attack that portion of the field so what's the problem?

I don't know if the mgostaff keeps stats on percent of throws to each level of the field vertically but I think it would be an interesting comparison between this year and last year between the levels. Or if there is an easy way to compare let's say an out route on video from last year compared to an out route this year. Or a seam route between the two years.

Also on the ufr's I think it would be helpfully to number each play to make it easier to comment on them.


November 7th, 2014 at 5:44 PM ^

he's like a guy in a Mel Brooks movie with an incredible nervous tic. So there are going to be these moments when he shouts "Strawberry!" and then hands a rutabaga to a running back. Three or four times a game. But he definitely looked less damaged against IU. Maybe only because it was IU. But I will tune in tomorrow to find out.

Also high ankle sprain factor.


November 7th, 2014 at 4:30 PM ^

Re: Tiny TE.

Think of it like a reverse-spread. The spread moves everyone out of the box and gives you space in the middle of the field. Tiny TE brings everyone in tight and attack the edges. This should get the ballcarrier in some space outside of the hashes.

There's also the added advantage of having smaller personnel in there, forcing the defense to rely on a DB to set the edge. For it to work, you need WR who can block those DB consistently. And I think all of us thought we had that. So I think the plan is OK. But we have to get them to execute. I know, I know.


November 7th, 2014 at 5:04 PM ^

It looks like Chesson is thinking Funchess is downfield already. He stands and watches the slot LB until he must feel like Funchess should be past him so he moves to his next block. I think if the IU LB moved toward Funchess, Chesson engages him. Seems like Chesson just misunderstood how long the play developing should have taken. Not that that is necessarily better...


November 7th, 2014 at 5:09 PM ^

Four years of BIG MAN BALL being absolute sh*t and we still run it. Maybe if we keep running POWERRR behind bad OL and bad TEs it will just magically work someday. The inability of the offensive staff to ever recognize this is amazing.

This has to be coming from Hoke right? Are Borges and Nuss identically stupid with their man ball fetishes?


November 7th, 2014 at 6:53 PM ^

He runs a bit of pistol and shotgun and a bit of option. But he is decidedly non-spread. He loves FBs, TEs, Hs, Us, and all the blocky-catchy guys. And he runs power like crazy. What he does more than anyone in the NFL is run traps/whams.

I love his offense. It seems to me to be a Bo offense updated to 2014. I've been asking for years where the trap game has gone.


November 7th, 2014 at 7:01 PM ^

It only seems that way because 1) it works, and 2) we've been told that power is old/bad.

There is nothing particularly modern about the power play. Especially from Harbaugh, who loves big personnel. Where his running game shows modernity is in his willingness to pair it with other stuff, like the read option or out of the pistol.

Harbaughs offense isn't good because it is particularly modern/deceptive/cheeky. It is good because he and his staff do a really good job of coaching it. Like, really good. His OLs have been great at every level.


November 7th, 2014 at 5:26 PM ^

but just as an interesting point of reference, Mike Hart's "breakout" game in 2004 was against San Diego State in which he rushed for 121 yards on 25 carries.  That performance earned him the starting RB job and he promptly BLEW IT UP.  In my dreams, The Drake repeats history.


November 7th, 2014 at 5:54 PM ^

A very fair observation with Drake.  It seems like every single Michigan back however gets the "goes down too easy" label.  I don't see Smith breaking tackles, sure he drags folks a bit sometimes. Green seemed to go down easy for a guy that looks like Godzilla with his shirt off. Hayes also gets the go down too easy rap.

So the way I see it is like this.  They all go down too easy.  But one of them is faster, so when he goes down he is farther down the road. And sometimes they don't catch him at all. GO WITH THAT GUY.  Go with DRAKE.


November 7th, 2014 at 7:28 PM ^

He and his OL is a symptom of the problem, just as Hecklinski isn't the problem with his WRs performing poorly.  Again, a symptom of the greater problem.  The greater problem is.....at the end of the day the bar for what is considered excellence has been set far too low.


November 7th, 2014 at 6:41 PM ^

This is the best we can do? Wasn't Green the top RB in the nation? At least one of them. Something tells me he'd be doing better at another school/coaching staff. :-/

"Combine Smith's power and balance with Johnson's speed and Hayes's quicks and you'd have something. All three seem to be lacking major bits of being a top tier RB."

The Denarding

November 8th, 2014 at 12:45 AM ^

Lacks intensity and consistency on the offensive side of the ball. They miss blocks, run poor routes, etc. why that is the case - I just don't know. Funk has built good offensive lines and hecklinski has coached good wide receivers. I don't understand what or more importantly why it's happening other than the team is Molly coddled in an effort to reinstill some internal cultural metric that makes the place Disneyland. This is a Tommy Amaker football team if that makes sense. Underperforming, underachieving and underdeveloping.


November 8th, 2014 at 10:15 AM ^

2 sportscasters on a college football forum this past week were discussing Utah stating that they crushed M and then saying well that doesn't mean much followed by laughter. Also, it appears another 2015 recruit has decommited which is hardly surprising or newsworthy anymore.  This morning (Saturday) a local Detroit sportscast didn't even include a mention about Michigan football game today.  Only focusing on the big game between sparty and bucky.  It seems Michigan is in the same category as Central, Eastern, Western and Northern Michigan football and with all due respect to those programs that is not very newsworthy.  When your program sinks this low and sports news isn't even mentioning you except to referrence how inept and incompetent you are it follows that there will be a precipitous drop in attendence that could take years to recover from.  This is why a coaching change must happen and hopefully those that make decisions on this are paying attention to these publically noticable changes in perception of the University of Michigan and its football football program.


November 8th, 2014 at 10:26 AM ^

usual, with Magnuson donning 81 to moonlight as a blocking tight end. Bo Dever got some late run at WR, seemingly after obat kanker tiroid Norfleet was injured. RB actually started out with Hayes and then mixed Smith in; when both Hayes and Smith ended up dinged Johnson got his shot.