Upon Further Review 2015: Offense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian October 28th, 2015 at 4:54 PM

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FORMATION NOTES: The director was one of those guys who fancies himself Stanley Kubrick so we never got a proper shot of what M was doing presnap on the Peppers sweep:

shotgun empty tight

You'll note that M only has four OL; Cole is lined up outside of DeVeon Smith. This was "shotgun empty tight" but that's insufficient to describe it, really.

This with 3TEs and a WR in a wing spot was "Ace tight":

ace tight

And M pulled out another goofy split line setup. Cole is one of the WRs to the top; Williams is the "right tackle". "Emory 3-wide," I said, and took another antacid:

emory 3-wide

PERSONNEL NOTES: The usual at most of the spots except Michigan whittled down the number of guys who played at the skill positions. Johnson and Green are on the participation list but didn't get carries; I don't remember them playing at all. Higdon and Isaac did get carries, but sparingly.

At WR it was almost all Darboh and Chesson and then they added in Harris or Perry in 3 or 4 wide sets. TE was about the usual.

[After THE JUMP: opportunities untaken]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Ace twins H 2 1 2 4-3 over Penalty False start Butt -5
Butt -1.
M22 1 15 Ace twins H 2 1 2 4-3 over Run H trap Smith 0
This is mostly an RPS play as MSU has a LB creeping to the line who fires on the run action; Cole(-0.5) is releasing to him and is a little slow reacting but does hit him; he's just gone for this play immediately nd there's not much he can do. Braden(-1) whiffed on a second level block; Poggi(+1) cut the trapped DT effectively. Kalis(+0.5) and Glasgow(+0.5) kicked out the other DT with Glasgow extending to the second level. RPS -1.
M22 2 15 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Smith 0
Functions as split zone but the TE is already in place instead of pulling across the formation. Butt(-1) misses a cut block. Mags(+0.5) and Kalis(+0.5) double and move Heath. Braden(-1) and Glasgow(-0.5) can't do anything with McDowell; Smith(-1) should try the cutback lane but does not. Calhoun is there after leaping the cut block but he's off balance and Smith might be able to run through. Instead he runs into nothing.
M22 3 15 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Sack N/A -4
Kalis(-1) and Mags(-1) blow a stunt. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Run FB counter trap Houma 27
Just a crack as Glasgow(+0.5) and Braden(+0.5) do enough to split the DTs, with Braden pulling around to hit Heath on the trap block. LBs are headed to the jet pretty hard and Mags(+0.5) is barely needed; Houma is through for a big gain. RPS +2; would be 3 but Houma's never going to go the distance here.
O45 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Screen Smith -1
Butt(-2) doesn't even get a slight delay on Calhoun, which is a problem. Calhoun gets in Rudock's face; he throws a ball at the other DE, who reads the play and drops off, almost intercepting. Glasgow(-1) also misIDed his guy and a linebacker's going to blow this up anyway. With the deflection it gets blown up anyway worse. (BR, N/A, protection 0/2, RPS -1). A bad play all around.
O46 2 11 I-Form Big H 3 1 1 4-3 over Run Iso counter Higdon 2
Starts out looking like an iso outside the tackle to the right and then Houma redirects to the back side of the play. Poggi(-2) sees the backside linebackers stepping away momentarily and runs right by him to the secondary. That LB redirects to the hole and Houma has to hit him. Higdon ends up running a gap away from that as Cole(+1) and Braden had turned the other DT in to create a hypothetical crease; given what is going on here I don't think it matters much. Williams(-1) lost the end as well. RPS +1.
O44 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 2 2 5-1 nickel Pass Drag Williams 21
Five man pressure with a guy in a spy zone; nobody goes with Williams on a drag route. Kalis(-2) gets run around by Calhoun and he's about to hit; Rudock dumps it to Williams for a big catch and run. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, RPS +1)
O23 1 10 shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Power O Isaac 3
WTF, Isaac(-3). M runs an A-gap power with Cole pulling around Braden and only Braden. Braden(+1) kicks Heath. Glasgow(+0.5) and Kalis(+0.5) blow out the other DT. One LB versus Cole. Isaac decides where he's going before contact is made, allowing the LB to get to the hole. If he sets up this block he is through to the secondary and this is a big gain. RPS +1.
O20 2 7 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle drag Chesson 12
MSU covers the outside well; two guys run up on Rudock. PA fake gets the backside S to bite and Chesson is free further inside. Rudock sees it and hits Chesson for the first down. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O8 1 G Ace twin TE H 1 2 2 4-4 over Run Power O Smith 6
Jet fake; Smith runs power inside of it. MSU is really implying a slant to the play by lining up two guys just outside of the backside end but M doesn't react to it well. Braden(-1) airballs on the NT coming to him; MSU also has a guy blitzing around the back. Butt(-1) gets discarded by the NT despite having an angle; Kalis(+0.5) has one of those bendy pulls but gets there to hit a linebacker; big gap to the outside because of the jet fake, a good kick by Houma(+1), and Calhoun being pretty lazy here. Smith(+2) stiffarms the guy who Braden whiffed on and pops into that crease for an excellent first down gain.
O2 2 G Goal line near 3 2 0 Goal line Run FB dive Houma 2
Uh. The pile lurches forward. Glasgow(+0.5) and Kalis(+0.5) the relevant folks; Houma(+0.5) also did well to grind it out over a pile of bodies.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Inside zone Smith 5
Smith ends up running right up the gut at the start here and there's nothing. There's no penetration but MSU doesn't really have a force player on either side of the line so they are stuffing the box. Smith(+1) does see this and bounce after a brief threat to take it somewhere inside makes a block for him. Mags(+0.5) has that guy; Williams(+0.5) gets a linebacker. CB reads run after Chesson moves to the S and replaces to tackle.
O23 2 5 shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Tunnel screen Darboh -4
Throw is way too far upfield and spins Darboh around; this wasn't going to go great either way but if this is competently thrown decent chance Darboh can tuck inside the Cole block for some yardage instead of a big loss. (INX, 2, protection N/A)
O19 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Sack N/A -4
M struggles to pick up a stunt, with Braden(-1) late to recognize, but Glasgow does get his head around late to get to the guy looping inward; Mags(-1) got tossed away by Calhoun after mirroring one move and he gets to Rudock as he steps up into the pocket. I think Chesson is breaking wide open deep, FWIW. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA Post Chesson 23
M lines Chesson up at TE and runs a post route with him. Playside S doesn't get told that and bites up when run action comes to him; Rudock hits Chesson over the top for a big gain. This, finally, is a good deep-ish pass that throws his guy open with a catchable ball. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O25 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Inside zone Smith 5
Double A twist blitz from MSU... picked up! M ends up having two blockers for one guy on the backside but they do get Smith to the LB level here. Glasgow(+1) recognizes the DT fleeing him and adjusts to pick up one guy. Cole(+1) kicks the other DT well; Braden(+1) seals the second LB inside. Smith has a crease and hits it; LB hits him from the side and finishes the tackle. I guess this is an RPS push since the LB isn't attacking but trying to contain.
O20 2 5 Ace tight 2 2 1 4-3 over Pass Dumpoff Higdon Inc
McDowell runs over Glasgow(-1). He falls over in the flailing limbs and Kalis goes to fall on him; Braden(-1) loses Heath; Rudock has to scramble out and do something, anything. He tries to hit Higdon, which is not a great idea since he's a the LOS and a LB is covering him. He throws it anyway; incomplete. I don't actually expect this call on a nothing throw for zero yards but this is super interference. PI doesn't exist behind the LOS, though. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)
O20 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 2 2 1 4-3 even Hitch Butt Rudock Inc
Not real enthused about 1 WR on third and five. If you want a 4-3 matchup you can get one with 2 WR. M is throwing at Williams and Butt flanked out; Butt runs a hitch at the sticks with Williams on a corner route. This could work if thrown on time but is late. Ball should be out by the time Butt turns around; Rudock hitches up and allows the LB to make a play on the ball. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(37), 10-7, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 I-Form Big H 3 1 1 4-3 even Run Power O Smith 0
M does not handle the playside end diving in. Poggi(-2) is caught off guard by the sudden move inside and can't do much of anything; that guy dives into Houma and prevents either lead blocker from deciding to go around to the outside. Meanwhile a twist from the two DTs gets one of them into the hole; Smith has nowhere to go. RPS -1.
O41 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Flare Higdon 3
Bad read from Rudock as M floods the short side. He checks the playside CB and then checks down; if he waits a second he's going to get Butt wide open down the sideline. He doesn't move the defender with his eyes, or rather he does. He moves him directly to where he's throwing. (BR, 3, protection 2/2)
O38 3 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass TE seam Butt Inc
M sends Peppers on a wheel route; they fake a tunnel screen. The goal here is to open up the middle for Butt. Butt falls down on the snap after feigning a cut block and then gets up; MSU did not bite. LB on him just looks at him the whole play. When Rudock comes back to the TE he's got an unblocked guy from the backside coming in on him and just throws it away. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, team -2) Protection the main issue here; I don't think this was supposed to be anything other than standard pass pro. They managed to set a DE free.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-7, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun trips bunch TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Inside zone Isaac 1
I think this is a subtle counter. It is either that or totally borked. Rudock(-1) misses a pull read as the backside end is flowing down the line with Butt; Butt(-2) inexplicably releases past a linebacker he's almost certainly supposed to hit; those two guys tackle on the backside. The counter thing: Mags pulls around Kalis; Kalis doesn't try to down-block. When Mags gets to the DT he just doubles him; I think this is supposed to draw enough attention to the QB from the backside DE to get the RB in a crease on the backside.
M25 2 9 I-Form Big 3 1 1 4-3 over Run Trap Smith 8
Kerridge shuffles backside for what threatens to be a weakside iso at a gap on the line; is actually trap. Glasgow(+1) turns out McDowell. Braden(+0.5) kicks Heath, who shot upfield like M wanted him to. Crease on the line with three OL releasing free to the LBs. Kalis(+1) gets a good hit; Mags(-0.5) is a bit weak; his guy goes around and gets into Smith(+0.5), which doesn't take him down but does prevent him from cutting as he tries to keep his balance. Contact at 5 yards, Smith smiths out some more. RPS +1.
M33 3 1 Double H 2 2 1 5-3 bear Run FB dive Kerridge 0
Rather frustrating since MSU leaves a huge hole on the right side of the M line and M ends up running into the stacked side. Calhoun shuffles down even further inside before the snap and gets inside of Poggi; no chance for him and no chance for this play. RPS -2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-7, 13 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Ace H 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Counter Smith 8
Double A twist from MSU again. Glasgow(+1) picks up one LB, who tipped his blitz a bit. The other one gets through; I don't blame Kalis(-2) for not getting to him since he shoots a gap further inside than he is going to, but once he does get to his gap he wastes himself; he kind of pushes on Cole's back instead of finding the last LB. That LB flows and makes the tackle; if Kalis cuts him off Smith has a shot at a big play. Rest of play goes well; Cole(+1) erases McDowell; Braden(+0.5) gets a good kick on Thomas; Smith(+1) ran through an ankle tackle and got his usual set of YAC. RPS +1.
O30 2 2 Ace H 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso off tackle Houma 4
Houma lined up over the RT; M runs an iso to him. Houma(+1) ejects the playside LB from the hole; crease. Butt(+0.5) kicks Calhoun; Smith gets to the POA and trips over various limbs. Playside double of the NT went not great, with Mags(-0.5) eventually getting spun through; MLB sucked up on this slight counter action and could have gotten sealed away if the double went better.
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Penalty False start Chesson -5
Chesson(-1) is lined up off the LOS and tries to correct that right before the ball is snapped.
O31 1 15 Shotgun empty tight 2 2 1 4-3 even Run Jet sweep Peppers 28
Technically a touch pass. M lines up Cole outside of Smith with a four man line; Peppers comes across the formation and takes a not-quite handoff. MSU does not flank enough to deal with this. Poggi(+1) gets to the playside LB, who just runs himself up and out of the play; Cole(+1) steps around Calhoun. Smith(+0.5) kicks a CB; Glasgow(+1) gets around promptly to cut off the last LB; Peppers(+1) outruns a safety angle at the sticks and gets to the one. RPS +2.
O3 1 G Goal line 3 2 0 Goal line Run Power O Smith 2
DT submarines himself at the double; Butt(+0.5) doesn't exactly drive his guy but he does prevent penetration and the dude ends up out of the picture. Houma(+0.5) and Kalis(+0.5) get lead blocks; Smith ends up with a small crease at the LOS. He is hit immediately and manages to get down to the half-yard line. TD called, reversed.
O1 2 G Goal line near 3 2 0 Goal line Run Dive Smith 0
Goal line schmozz on which not having a lead blocker is a negative; LB jumps over the pile and undercuts Smith, who hurdles into EZ. Again overturned. RPS –1.
O1 3 G Goal line near 3 2 0 Goal line Run FB dive Houma 1
Well, I guess? This whole goal line series was uninspired, but Houma does get in without whistles being blown. Dodgy, maybe. Refs +1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-7, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle TE flat Williams -1
Play cannot work against quarters if Rudock does not get more time. Calhoun heads right for him; he turns around, Butt is about to be very open but he's got no time to find that and can only fling it out to Williams, who gets nailed by a safety coming down to him. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS -2)
M34 2 11 Shotgun trips bunch TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Smith 2
Mediocre blocking. Braden(-0.5) gets controlled; Kais does a little better but only just; Mags(-1) sees his guy get way upfield and chases him; guy cuts back and Mags is off balance, so his kick does very little. Smith does set up a block and get to a gap but Glasgow(-0.5) made little contact with a linebacker and Glasgow and Mags see their guys combine to tackle after not much.
M36 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Stop and go Darboh 32
Darboh(route +) smokes the safety on a hitch at the sticks that he turns into a go route, and he is gone by two or three yards. Rudock's throw is literally 15-20 yards short, forcing Darboh to stop; the DB is beat so badly that it is still complete anyway. (IN, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O32 1 10 Ace H 2 1 2 4-3 over Run FB trap Smith 0
Poggi(-1) doesn't cut this DT. That goes like you'd expect; every other time they've run this the FB goes for the knees of the DT; this time he just gets chucked away. Smith(-1) still has a shot at something if he reads the blocking and cuts away from the DT, which will also put him past a linebacker who jumped to the hole; instead he runs into the traffic.
O32 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Seam Chesson Inc (Pen +13)
Chesson in the backfield. He ends up in man coverage on a linebacker; beats linebacker. Rudock throws it to him, whereupon Chesson is tackled. (CA, 0, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O19 1 10 I-Form Big 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Waggle TE flat Chesson 9
Chesson as an inline TE; he pulls to the backside of the play. MSU DE less assertive; S sits, not knowing what he's looking at for bulk of the play. Chesson in the flat is an easy pickup. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O10 2 1 Offset I 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Zone stretch Smith 2
Butt motions from a wing TE spot to an offset FB. No MSU response and M gets a potential TD. Mags briefly hits playside end; Butt(+1) cuts him. Playside DT runs himself out of the play. Smith(-2) bows around the Butt block and then misses the huge cutback lane he has. If he puts his foot in the round and makes a hard cut the half of this defense still chasing him runs past him and he's close to the goal line. Instead he waits until a guy is literally trying to tackle him before spinning past and getting swallowed. RPS +1.
O8 1 G Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Hitch Darboh 4 (Pen -10)
The supremely iffy hold on Braden. The rest of this play is Rudock nicely stepping up past some pressure and getting M down to the four. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Mags -1, Braden -1). This hold is so weak that nobody ever notices it to complain about it if it's not called, and people complain about everything. Refs -2.
O18 1 G Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 even Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Rudock has plenty of time and from the stands it looked like he absolutely had Butt in the endzone but he refuses to throw and ends up tossing it OOB. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O18 2 G Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Angle screen Smith Inc
M slips Glasgow out to block as Smith slips to the flat and then comes back inside; everyone else runs to the endzone, clearing the world out. The only person in the world looking for Smith is about to get blocked. This is a touchdown or real close to one; batted down. Argh. (BA, 0, protection N/A, RPS +2)
O18 3 G Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Hitch Chesson 15
MSU sends seven and has the other four bail for the endzone; M gets the free hot route and has to kick. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(21), 20-14, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Fly Chesson Inc
Three man route on which Rudock gets a little pressure as Kalis(-1) gets shoved too far back, but it looks like this gets out unmolested. CB step for step with Chesson but he's got acres of space to the sideline—he running at the numbers—and this ball is way short and way inside; Chesson becomes a DB. (IN, 0, protection 1/2)
M32 2 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Trap Smith -1
Glasgow(-1) gets shed by McDowell, but at least it's to the outside, away from the gap; Braden(-0.5) attempts to kick the other DT and that's' weak but he is looking for this; Smith(-1) doesn't have a lot of great choices but makes the worst one, cutting into a bunch of nothing on the backside when there are probably holes that get him across the LOS either by running the play designing or popping a gap further to the playside. RPS -1.
M31 3 11 Shotgun trips? 1 1 3 ??? Pass Back shoulder fade Darboh 24
This is just sinfully easy as the DB turns his back entirely and starts running really fast; he is never a threat to defend this. Rudock does put it in there nicely. M picked up a six man pressure. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)
O45 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Run FB trap Kerridge 2
Woof. This should work as Glasgow(+1) kicks the NT and creates a crease; there is definitely a gap for Kerridge(-2) as Braden(+1) hits the trapped guy back with authority, but Kerridge falls over untouched. Otherwise a solid gain.
O43 2 8 Ace 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass PA sack N/A -1
Bunting(-2) beat around the corner by Calhoun, as he just lunges at him. Rudock makes a good decision to start scrambling as there is a big gap up the middle of the field, but Calhoun gets a trip in. Don't understand using Bunting here. FR TE against Calhoun is asking for this. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
O44 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass TE Hitch Butt Inc
Open for the first down; plenty of protection; Rudock just puts it too low. Butt still digs it out for a spectacular drive extending catch, but the refs miss it, and then the replay official lets the wrong call stand. Refs -3. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 20-14, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Jet sweep Chesson 1
Cole(-2) sees the playside DE slant inside of him and barely touches him; difficult, though. MSU has a S and a LB coming down hard on this; Houma(+1) gets a good cut on the LB but Chesson had to bend around the DE surging upfield and that gives the S time to get there to hold it to a minimal gain. RPS -1.
O27 2 9 Shotgun empty 2 2 1 4-3 over Pass Hitch Houma Inc
Bizarre play on which M lines up Cole as a standup guy outside a tackle with Williams the nominal RT. He stays in to pass protect; Rudock bizarrely rolls to him, essentially pressuring himself, and then throws a ball at a really covered guy that gets batted down anyway. (BA, 0, protection 2/2). With Smith all but uncovered at flanker a smoke screen to him would have been very profitable. WTF.
O27 3 9 Emory 3-wide 2 1 2 3-3-5 nickel Pass Bubble screen Peppers 7
Funky formation with a basic play that does get M a chunk of yards; wish Peppers had broken back outside here after feinting in; better shot of getting it. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: FG(38), 23-14, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Pitch sweep Smith -3
Doomed. MSU responds to the Butt motion by shifting their line and moving a LB to the LOS; they slant the line hard to the boundary. Playside LB goes hard after it; McDowell is going right at this play; no chance for M. RPS -3.
M21 2 13 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass TE out Butt 4
A nothing out for a few yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M25 3 9 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Dig Chesson Inc
Fine throw from Rudock as Chesson breaks wide open over the middle; it's a bit high but not nearly as high as Chesson thinks it is; Chesson slows up and makes a theatrical jump for a ball that is basically right on point; he has it go right through his hands. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 23-21, 7 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso counter Higdon 1
Repeat of a play from earlier where the FB suddenly veers to the backside after feigning a straight up iso. M has a big hole as Butt(+1) kicks Calhoun and Mags(+1) gets the DT well down the line; Houma has a decent block; Higdon(-2) has a crease outside of it for a solid gain; he falls over untouched.
M21 2 9 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA fly Chesson Inc
So bad from Rudock, as Chesson is gone with no safeties; he breaks to the middle of the field because that gives Rudock the biggest area and easiest throw to hit. Rudock overthrows it. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M21 3 9 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Out Chesson Inc (Pen +5)
MSU jumps offsides; they allow the play to continue but Calhoun is already around the tackle as a result of the jump. He misses; Rudock throws an out route late, allowing an S to jump the route and nearly intercept. Not charting due to the circumstances.
M26 3 4 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass In Darboh Inc
The bizarre deflection play. Darboh beats his guy to an in route that will get the first down and Rudock puts it on him. It is behind to the point where it's outside the frame of Darboh's body; the deflection comes off a helmet. Ball comes all the way back to Rudock, who catches it and tries to get the first down. He doesn't get any yardage but he does get his face mask yanked to the point where his helmet just about comes off. No call; refs -2. (IN, 1, protection 1/1). FWIW, Perry had run past the S lined up on him and was wide open deep by yards; given the situation I don't blame Rudock for taking the chain-moving throw but man, if Michigan had good QB play they would have put up 40. Missing this facemask is unbelievable. There is a guy staring right at it like an idiot.
Drive Notes: Punt, 23-21, 5 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 I-Form Big 3 1 1 4-3 over Run Power O Smith 4
Reasonably well blocked with Poggi(+1) putting the playside end on the ground; Houma(+1) kicks a corner out. Williams(+1) gest to a LB; Braden is coming around to hit the last guy before a solid gain; Smith decides to cut all the way to the backside for four yards.
M49 2 6 I-Form Big 3 1 1 4-3 over Run Power O Smith 3
MSU tips a heavy slant playside with two guys on the back of the play; M runs a trap to the backside. Glasgow(-1) does not get a cut on Calhoun; Braden(+0.5) does block out the DT and give a cutback. M does not block a LB away from the play; Williams(-1) goes to double a DT after checking the LB; that is a mistake. LB plus falling Calhoun get a tackle in.
O48 3 3 I-Form Big 3 1 1 5-3 bear Run Power O Smith 1
Nine man box that sells out to stop this as M doesn't really care. They get a stop when DT surges upfield into Braden on a pull and he gets picked off; nothing much of anyone can do about it, but again, shouldn't matter. RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Sigh, 23-27, EOG.

Coulda woulda shoulda.

Yes, that is the tl;dr of this post. Michigan did win the game until they didn't and they had opportunities to win it without the "until they didn't" part. The offense struggled, failing to gain 300 yards and relying on short fields set up by special teams to score many of their points. This was partly MSU's defensive line being pretty good.

It was more Michigan shooting themselves in the foot, whether it was mental mistakes or Jake Rudock's inability to make as much out of the swiss cheese purporting to be the MSU secondary as he should.

Rudock's

probably pretty dismal CHART

pretty dismal chart reflects his overall performance, which checks in at Sheridan-like 5.8 YPA once you get rid of the Jabrill Peppers end-around that gets counted as a pass because the NCAA is very persnickety about the letter of the pass/run law.

Jake Rudock 2014

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
Maryland 2 38++(2) 4(1) 2 2* 6 3 7 1 75%
Northwestern 5+ 7+(1) 3(1) 3 - 1 1 - 1 71%
Illinois 3 13(2)+ - 2 1 2 - - 3 77%
Wisconsin 5+ 16(3)++ 7 1 1 3 1 2 2 80%
Nebraska 3 20(1) 2 5 4** 2* 1 5 1 66%

Jake Rudock 2015

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
Utah 5+ 18+++ 2 4* 4* 4 - 1 1 71%
Oregon State 3+ 17(3) 2 2 1* - 1 2 2 76%
UNLV - 13(4) 2 5** 2 2 - - - 50%
BYU 1 12(2) 2 1 2* 5 1 2 4 63%
Maryland 2 13(3)+ 3 4 4 5* 1 3 2 50%
Northwestern - 16(1)++ 4   1* 3 1 2   75%
Michigan State 2 9(1)++   7(1) 2 1 2(1) 5   50%

I won't be telling anyone anything they don't know when I say Rudock was maybe not quite as good as Connor Cook in this game. That DSR is ugly and it doesn't include a couple of unsuccessful screens. While Rudock did face down a lot of pressure in this game, he gets a pass for those since "PR" snaps aren't considered.

When Michigan tested MSU deep the Spartans were found wanting almost literally every single time. Rudock took some advantage of this, like this hilariously open back shoulder fade:

But when Michigan took their deep shots Rudock was off, again. They managed a 32-yard completion here but this ball was incredibly underthrown:

Michigan ended up with a field goal on that drive when many, many throws are 64-yard TDs. Chesson would break wide open to the middle of the field on Michigan's penultimate drive only to be overthrown yet again:

A couple people have wondered whether Chesson's break to the post was an unplanned improvisation that caused the throw to go long. I suppose that's possible, but given what we've seen from Rudock I think the much more likely explanation is that he just missed. Throws in the middle of the field are much easier than those to the sideline; once Chesson breaks into the clear he's making his QB's job easier.

That's bad, and then Rudock was inconsistent short. Michigan had to settle for a field goal after this failed third down conversion on which Butt flashes open; Rudock is super late with the throw:

On the next drive Rudock fired a panicked checkdown to Higdon way early on a flood route that was very likely to see either a one on one matchup deep or Butt easily open past the sticks:

Rudock also just about turfed a first down throw to Butt that was about 9 yards downfield; Butt dug the ball out for a completion but the replay official yet got another call wrong—he should not have been called into action.

It was good enough to win. Rudock didn't turn it over or come close to doing so. You can say that: he was just good enough to win this game.

Michigan couldn't run against these guys yet again.

At least this year I could see opportunities spurned. Against MSU the last, oh, seven years there has been very little in the way of opportunity as Michigan gets snowed under physically time and again. That was gone, replaced by a series of frustrating one-man brainfarts that felt more like first-year Harbauffense teething issues than oh, I don't know, a total systemic failure ranging from S&C to tactics to technique.

While the results were very similar, this running matchup felt a lot different than the inverse. Michigan State's ground game was getting whipped on blocks up and down the line, leaving their backs with nowhere to go except second and long. MSU just missed an opportunity to break a long one before halftime; other than that there were literally no runs that felt like they might break for more than a first down.

Michigan had their opportunities as Harbaugh and the OL won enough for Michigan to hit big plays. Penetration was rare; when it happened it was often Michigan trapping. But MSU was good enough to give Michigan a narrow margin for error; they erred.

The results in the blocking are decidedly mixed, but mixed is great given the recent history of this series. Michigan had only slightly more than 20 carries on which the OL was much involved in the grading (I didn't offer much positive or negative for some RPS plays and short yardage items), so raw amplitude is way down this week. It was a weird game where M had far fewer plays than the opposition.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Cole 4 2.5 1.5 Not a lot got to him downfield.
Braden 5 4 1 I will take that.
Glasgow 7 4 3 Did get got a bit this week but overall still M's best
Kalis 4 2 2 Scraping along.
Magnuson 3 2 1 A little frustrated with his second level blocking.
Butt 3 7 -4 A real bad matchup for him. 
Williams 1.5 2 -0.5  
Kerridge   2 -2 That was on a run and isn't included below.
Poggi 3 5 -2 Targeting, targeting, targeting.
Houma 4.5   4.5 Very solid day. Got big kickouts on DBs a lot. 
Hill       DNC
TOTAL 35 28.5 55% Below our 2/3rds benchmark but not the ugly blowout it's been of late.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Rudock   1 -1 Not respected on ZR.
Peppers 1   1 Fast
Smith 5 5 0 Grinder; a bit frustrating with the cuts again.
Isaac   3 -3 Turned 15 yards into 3 on one of two carries.
Green       DNC
Johnson       DNC
Higdon   2 -2 Fell over untouched.
TOTAL 6 13 -7 Kerridge minus here. Bleah.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Darboh        
Chesson   1 -1 False start.
Harris        
Perry        
Cole       DNP
Ways        
Canteen        
TOTAL   1 -1  
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 27 17 61% Pretty ugly. Kalis –4, Mags –3, Braden –3, Bunting –2, Butt –2, Team –2, Glasgow –1.
RPS 16 14 2

A win. Any win.

Yes: a tie-ish RPS. This was much better after years and years of derp. MSU did occasionally obliterate a play they'd prepared for. The one pitch sweep Michigan ran was unceremoniously buried in the backfield on a play I didn't bother handing out any player minuses for since it was so doomed. Michigan also occasionally tried to waggle and got their QB killed for a TFL; This third and short conversion attempt was bad. Look at how MSU is lined up:

M tried to run into the gut of that defense and did not go at the bubble to top of the screen, which looks wide open for a QB sneak. That time M's FB tendencies bit them. Michigan ended up punting on about fourth and an inch.

Hopefully next time that happens they'll have a check or something. They should be able to invert that call, hand it to Smith, and get it. But they offset all this with

  • a total lack of getting owned because MSU knew the snap count
  • several big opportunities in the passing game
  • The Peppers run
  • various other small tweaks that coulda shoulda worked

More about that in a bit.

As far as execution goes, Michigan's edge blockers got beat up and the ball carriers were bad. Smith fought to even, but RB is a make plays position where even means you're just getting the yards they block for you—Smith did that and only that; others didn't even get there.

I feel like this is going to lead into another running back diatribe.

Are they really diatribes?

YES

Fine. I know I harp on this, but Michigan's tailbacks are so inconsistent with their cuts. A week after an excellent game against Northwestern, Smith and company reverted back to frequent WTF runs. Here an early split zone* play finds a semblance of a backside crease…

image[18]

…that Smith does not take.

Yeah, the backside end is not completely down, but he is off balance and you are De'Veon Smith: if you make that cut you're getting more than zero yards. There is blame to spread around there since Butt could do a better job; it is frustrating to see Smith run into a big wad of nothing instead of giving himself a chance.

I don't even care if Smith gets yards, really; I want him to see the thing with a chance of getting yards. Especially on a play that very very frequently gives you this cutback lane.

*[I think. M is cutting the backside end like they would on split zone. Usually you see a guy come across the formation to do this; on this one M just lines up Butt there.]

A bit later Isaac would get a shot and blow an opportunity. This one is grim and would be agonizing if M didn't score on this drive.

image[19]

There is a huge crease there all the way to a safety flat-footed and not even looking at the play. All Isaac has to do is put the last LB on one side of a block and go to the other side of it; instead he picks where he's going first and the linebacker you see diving at his feet makes a tackle for three yards.

This is a quintessential lack of patience. Isaac needs to slow up for a beat, allowing the block to develop, and then he's into the secondary. Or he could put a foot in the ground with the intention of cutting back. Instead he just runs as fast as possible in a straight line.

Later Smith's lack of vision for cutback lanes would turn this into a two yard gain:

image[26]

That should have been a touchdown or close to it and the ensuing play saw Braden pick up the weak holding call that put M back on the 18.

Meanwhile, Michigan had shots at nice chunk plays that saw Kerridge and then Higdon simply fall over. Smith had opportunities to grind out some yards on plays where he instead just ran straight forward into guys. Late he started ignoring the play design entirely. Michigan got four yards on the first play of their last drive as he cut all the way back but they'd actually blocked power very well:

Playside end is on the ground and Michigan has a hat for a hat in the gap. If Smith runs the play there he gets more than four and the punt might not ever happen.

One of the questions going into this year was whether Ty Wheatley would be a meaningful upgrade over Fred Jackson, or if Michigan had just chosen a selection of backs without much vision and were stuck with them.

I think there is some progress. Smith did have a mean-ass stiffarm to rescue a first and goal play on Michigan's first touchdown drive and pop outside the tackles a couple times to gain yards on plays that were otherwise jammed up. But progress is faltering at best.

What about the blocking?

It wasn't great. It was okay, and a number of the problems were mental. I prefer that, because those are easier to fix.

Targeting issues linger. M debuted a play I called "iso counter" on which Houma steps to the line as if he's running a conventional iso before aborting to the back side of the line. This was close to busting a big play, but Poggi incorrectly decided a linebacker he was targeting had run himself out of the play and zoomed to the safety:

Houma had to spend himself on that guy. If Poggi goes and blocks him like he clearly is considering, Houma can go finish the guy Williams has lost somewhat and Higdon should be in the secondary. (If Higdon had gone to the right side of that block, anyway.)

Michigan had a shot at a big play here; Kalis pulls around to the hole and then starts blocking… uh… Cole's back.

The linebacker Kalis should be finding as he goes to look for work makes a tackle there on a play that otherwise was set to be one of those fun "let's see if this village of defensive backs can tackle Smithzilla" plays.

There were other incidents that were less clear cut but probable targeting failures. Michigan is in year one of a complicated and ever-shifting rushing offense, so I'm not surprised.

I noticed a distinct lack of linebackers screaming through the line of scrimmage as Michigan looked on, befuddled.

Yes. Michigan picked up a couple early double A blitzes. MSU didn't get gashed on these plays, but neither did they pile up tackles for loss like they had previously.

MSU backed off of these after the first few. If you keep running blitzes that get picked up sooner or later you're going to get a big chunk play on your face; MSU played it straight way more often than they had in the past.

Stanfordizations of the week?

I mentioned the counter iso above. Michigan couldn't get it to work but man was it sucking in linebackers.

Immediately after the game I was a bit frustrated that Michigan didn't hit anything like MSU did with their fancy-dancy fullback wheel play, but after reviewing things Michigan had plenty of wrinkles that just didn't quite come off because of execution or bad luck. This lovely little one-blocker screen that got batted down is the canonical example:

image[33]

alllll the space

That's either a touchdown or close to one from the 18, but alas and alack. That's a brilliant design on which the receivers clear out most of the defense, the initial flat move from the RB gets rid of one LB, and then Glasgow should get the other. A hand makes all the difference.

Michigan did hit a fancy play of slightly less import when they got Peppers loose for on an end-around:

Michigan flanked Cole, their best blocker in space, outside of Smith there and got the crease they were looking for in large part because Poggi had a huge presnap advantage against the relevant linebacker. Point M.

Earlier they tried what I think was supposed to be a version of the double screen thing that got Hill so open against BYU. Watch Butt fall down on purpose:

MSU didn't bite immediately and Michigan borked their protection, so when Rudock turned around he was in huge trouble. I think the hope there was that Peppers and the screen fake would move the safeties and leave Butt wide open; the pressure was in too fast to let the play develop.

Michigan deployed a number of traps. MSU was able to stuff a few of them, but mostly by cheating linebackers; others saw Smith hit the second level and then but for a block here or there, etc. etc. etc.

Is it just me or has Chesson become a lot more prominent than Darboh recently?

If you're wondering who Michigan's #1 WR is, I think Michigan thinks it's Chesson. Multiple times in this game they moved him into sneaky places where he could get one on one coverage against guys unprepared for his speed. Once he was an inline tight end…

…and once he lined up at tailback and was about to streak for a TD when a linebacker wisely tackled him.

Unfortunately, Chesson did have a critical drop in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard ball that was right in his hands, and Rudock will never ever hit him deep. But it certainly appears like Chesson is the top target this season.

Receivers in general?

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

  LAST WEEK   SEASON
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Darboh 0/1 1/1 2/2   7 1/4 4/5 21/23
Chesson 3 3/4   9 0/2 3/5 11/12
Perry       2 1/2 2/3
Harris     2 0/1 2/2 3/3
Ways           2/2
Canteen       1   1/2
Butt 1 1/1 1/1   1 2/2 3/4 18/18
Williams     2/2   2 1/1   8/8
Bunting         1     6/6
Hill           4/4
Poggi             1/1  
Smith 1         2 1/1   5/6
Isaac         2/2
Green       1/1
Johnson     1     2/2
Kerridge         1/1 3/3
Houma 1       1     3/4

Higdon caught a 3, as did Peppers.

Notable events were the Chesson drop mentioned above and Butt digging a 1 out; yes I am giving him it since he did catch it.

Heroes?

Glasgow and Cole stood up to a very difficult DL. I thought Houma was terrific as a blocker.

Maybe not so heroic?

Rudock struggled again; ballcarriers were mediocre; Butt struggled as a blocker.

What does it mean for Minnesota and beyond?

Game management only. Rudock's probably going to hit a deep pass as soon as I give up on it ever happening, so let me state very clearly that I have no expectation Rudock will ever throw an accurate pass longer than 20 yards.

But no turnovers, I guess?

The line is just a B, B+ unit. Cole and Glasgow are good, maybe very good. The rest of the guys are middling.

More Peppers please. Give it to me. I want it.

Houma has at least battled his way to a co-starter spot. Kerridge wasn't used very often in this game. I don't think that's the injury. At this point I think he's impressing as a blocker.

The tailbacks are shruggie dot emoji. Drake Johnson was still hurt for this game; I wonder how he'll fare against Minnesota. Smith is a pounder but he's not dynamic, and the other guys are well behind him from appearances.

Michigan got out of a Michigan State game without getting its ass kicked tactically. It wasn't a blowout in their favor—I don't know if you'd even call it a win. But it was a tie at worst, and praise all available deities for that.

Comments

MGoStrength

October 29th, 2015 at 12:39 PM ^

I think you're right that most of them will take a step back next year and will be playing some younger guys.  That's a good point.  Losing Calhoun, Bosa, Zettel, and Washington will be significant losses for them all.  I'm sure OSU will reload.  Michael Hill, Jayln Holmes, Jashon Cornell, DreMont Jones, and Donovan Mungeris are down on the depth chart or freshmen to be but have good recruiting profiles.  I have no doubt OSU's line will still be a load to handle for the foresable future. MSU and PSU may take a step back next year, but after that should pick up again, although my question was really only about next year, but as I start looking at some of these good young players coming in for them it makes me start to worry about 2017 and beyond, but that's kinda far away.  Anyways, MSU has some good young lineman like McDowell and has Auston Robertson, Josh King, and Naquan Jones coming in next year. So, although they'll surely miss Calhoun next year, they will be strong again I'd guess in a few years when these young guys get some experience.  PSU has Jonothan Holland, then Shane Simmonds, Daniel Joseph, Karamo Dioubate, and Ellison Jordan come in next year as a really strong class so I'm sure they will be very good soon. 

 

We've recruited well at the position, but there hasn't been a lot of payoff yet from those recruiting rankings.  But, then again I guess the same could hold true for the defensive stars of the incoming classes from the other schools.  I just hope our guys continue to grow and that eventually some of these highly ranked o-lineman like Kalis, Dawson, Kugler, JBB, Newsome, Bredeson, Onwenu, etc. start to produce like all conference players.  It hurts that Bosch, Fox, and LTT are already a miss/loss.  I also wonder about Dawson.  He seems to be a little behind the curve already.  It's hard to believe that he's already in his 3rd year.

bronxblue

October 29th, 2015 at 9:40 AM ^

Nothing against Chesson, but I have no idea why he's being targeted like a #1 when he hasn't come close to that consistency. The skill positions aren't great here, but he's had three QBs in his tenure at UM and none have been able to get much out of him. At some point it just isn't going to happen.

Otherwise, it was a performance good enough to win, and for year 1 I'll take that.

alum96

October 29th, 2015 at 9:51 AM ^

Maybe Darboh has trouble separating.  He probably has better hands but with Jake's lack of accuracy in the intermediate game he doesnt seem to like to throw to guys who are closely covered.  So if Darboh is closely covered he might be going away from him?  I also assume Darboh is drawing other teams #1 cb while Chesson gets the weaker guy.

dayevug

October 29th, 2015 at 1:46 PM ^

    

 
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