Upon Further Review 2015: Offense vs UNLV

Submitted by Brian on September 23rd, 2015 at 2:58 PM

Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.

homesure-lending-logo

I've been informed to emphasize the rates and accessibility of your loan guy and not so much the pants. I do feel that the pants are an excellent metaphor for those aspects of going with Homesure Lending. But I do as I am told. Also, Matt tells his kids to go to bed at 6 PM so you know he's not to be messed around with.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)

FORMATION NOTES: This is the "diamond" formation referenced below:

trap-1

Michigan showed this more than they ran it, often motioning a TE to the side the FB was on.

Meanwhile your weird thing of the week was Tom Strobel, OL:

unbalanced

He is outside of "right tackle" Patrick Kugler with Cole lined up outside of him. This was a failed fourth down conversion that in retrospect probably would have been a touchdown if Smith hadn't fallen over untouched.

As for UNLV was pretty typical:

unlv-in-ur-base

They spent the day with between 8 and 10 men in the box. Plays on which a safety was at least 10 yards deep were conservative ones.

PERSONNEL NOTES: Starting line was as expected. From left to right he second team line was Bushell-Beatty, Dawson, Kugler, walk-on Ben Pliska, and Bars. Kugler got a couple of snaps with the first team when Michigan went to a goofy seven-man line in the third Q. Tom Strobel, wearing 50, also got in on those plays.

The rest of the rotation was pretty much as before. Smith was the lead back backed up by Isaac and Johnson in that order; Green did not get in until the final drive. It was mostly Kerridge at FB until he got hurt; not much AJ Williams at TE, almost all Butt and Poggi.

Moe Ways got more playing time at WR, but there were not a ton of WR snaps to go around.

[After THE JUMP: selling out on the interior]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-4 over Run Inside zone Smith 3
Smith(-1) should probably bounce this. The edge guy on Butt dives down inside hard. There is a DE outside of Williams(+0.5), who is supposed to kick him out, but he's a yard off the LOS and probably can't recover in time. Mags(+0.5) and Kalis(+0.5) fired the playside DT off the ball, with Kalis peeling to get an aggressive MLB. Butt stays attached to his guy and does move him a little bit; not much else he can do if this guy is going to give up the corner like that. Glasgow(+0.5) got a good push on the other DT as well.
O29 2 7 Ace twins TE H 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Split Iso Smith 6
Huge hole opens up as Braden(+0.5) escorts an overaggressive DT upfield. Smith now has choices. He can try the gap between Mags(+0.5) and Butt, or he can cut back. Smith goes with the cutback. Kalis(+1) got depth on the big NT by himself and Glasgow(+1) gets a good extended block on a MLB. Smith ends up hitting a S who started at seven yards and hit him at six. I won't RPS minus a run where the S makes contact that far downfield but a virtual nine in the box holds the gain down here.
O23 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Power O Smith 3
UNLV sells out when the H back goes in motion, leaving ten guys within four yards of the LOS. Poggi(-1) gets off balance and lunges at a guy who comes under him. He hits Braden and jams up the POA. Kalis(+0.5) and Mags(+0.5) got effective moving down blocks and Smith(+0.5) grunts out the first down with a spin move.
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE empty 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Slant Darboh 11
UNLV baffled by this formation and decides to leave seven guys in the box. Rudock has a super easy pitch and catch with Darboh. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O9 1 G I-Form Big H 1 2 2 Goal line Run Power O Smith 4
Braden(+1) contacts and gets depth on the NT, eventually pushing him entirely out of the play. This gives Michigan a 4 on 4 with some LBs and the playside DE. They move this quite a bit. I think Kerridge does not read the playside end's dive inside the line and should bounce. [Update: after seeing this a half dozen times this is probably RPS –1, not Kerridge] That would probably mean a touchdown if Smith follows. Instead he runs up into the middle, as does Kalis; they blow the line back but there are no creases. Smith(+0.5) avoids the unblocked guy outside and picks his way through the trash, using a solid Cole(+0.5) block to grind out five.
O5 2 G Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 Goal line Pass Hitch Butt Inc
Rudock misses the fact that nobody has covered Butt whatsoever and throws it wide of him when he sees it. Ugly. (INX, 0, protection 2/2)
O5 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Flare Smith 5
UNLV again decides covering people is optional, this time Rudock finds it for the easy TD. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 9 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 Nickel even Pass Pop Hitch Darboh 9
I have no idea what tell UNLV has here but Rudock somehow knows that the boundary corner in press man is going to blitz and aborts a power O into a little pop hitch. Darboh grabs it and can't quite elude the S for a big gain. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
M49 2 1 Shotgun double stacks 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inside zone Smith 5
Spread run game all the way here as M gets a six man box against the five OL and two guys in the backfield. UNLV blitzes at this and wins, as one of the LBs is in on this so fast that there is no feasible way Braden can do much with him. Braden(+0.5) does abort his intended double on a DT and hit the guy, which throws him off balance enough to let Smith escape. With no choice, Smith(+0.5) bounces and does so successfully since all six guys near the LOS are actually at it. None of the blocks here can be evaluated since the bounce kills the angles. It's a correct bounce, M gets the first down, UNLV's blitz was a good idea... I punt on the rest of the play.
O46 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Power O Smith 5
M lines up in tackle over and then motions to a conventional set. UNLV has a LB shooting the gap that Kalis(+0.5) is going after; he gets hit a yard deep and does okay with it but the gap is gone. Glasgow(+1) stalemated the 330 pound NT and then stayed attached on a rip move; NT goes upfield and Smith(+0.5) has a cutback lane. Mags(+0.5) fends off a DE with a kickout but does get shoved back eventually. Braden(+0.5) gets movement on the other DT and then pops off on a linebacker when the opportunity presents itself; Smith ends up burying himself in the gap that doesn't quite form between Braden and Magnuson. RPS -1.
O41 2 5 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-4 even Pass Waggle FB flat Kerridge 9
Same switch. On the waggle Rudock is unmolested. Has Butt for a bigger chunk if he sees it right away; also has Kerridge for an easy conversion and takes that. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
O32 1 10 Offset I-form twins 2 1 2 4-4 over Run Pitch sweep Smith -3
M gets to the line quickly and tries to catch UNLV off guard; a UNLV LB slides down to the playside and then shoots to the play to help foul it. Chesson only chips the guy he makes initial contact with but then he goes and annoys a linebacker. The guy Chesson put off then gets destroyed by Kerridge(+1). That LB coming from the inside gets knocked over by Glasgow; Smith(-3) doesn't see how the play is developing and runs outside into a completely unblocked CB when some more patience and a cut up inside his blocks gets at least a few yards and not a big TFL.
O35 2 13 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Hitch Darboh Inc
Dink hitch on which Darboh is in no way open. S breaks and gets a PBU. Very frustrating as the pocket is great and Chesson is just bursting past a safety and looks like he will be wide open if Rudock would just see it. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
O35 3 13 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Improv Darboh inc
All day. Rudock pumps and then says no and starts moving around; protection finally breaks down. Rudock spins through a DT tackle attempt and rolls. He has time to set up and set his feet and maybe throw to Darboh for a first down; he misses. This could be TAX, BR, IN, you pick. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 3 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M44 1 10 Offset I 2 2 1 4-4 under Pass Trap Smith 6
Butt starts out in the backfield as M shows the diamond and then motions out as a flanker. M runs a trap. Glasgow(+1) locks out one NT. Cole hits and then passes off a DE but when he pops to the second level there is no one for him to hit as the MLB has gone inside him. I don't think that's actually his guy; I think Kalis(-1) misIDed his second level block. Both Kalis and Magnuson go to one LB. Braden(+0.5) is on the short trap pull and hits his dude; it's not great but it's good enough. Free LB and Poggi's guy combine to tackle; Poggi did put this gent under considerable distress. This trap bought Michigan a couple unblocked UNLV guys but they couldn't take advantage. RPS +1.
50 2 4 Ace diamond TE 2 2 1 4-5 over Run Bust Rudock 3
Pretty sure Poggi(-1) has the wrong playcall given the rest of the play. Rudock gets what he can out of it.
O47 3 1 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Pass PA FB flat Kerridge 7
Pops open and converted, but some issue. For one, Butt is one on one with a DB and has a step. Could take a shot. For two, this throw is low and more difficult than it needs to be. Kerridge makes a nice catch to salvage it. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)
O40 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Reverse Darboh 4
UNLV holds the edge here. Rudock gets a decent block on the guy who eventually strings this out to the sideline, allowing M to get something on the play. Magnuson(+1) appears to have gotten a good, long block on a linebacker that was material to the gain but both the play and the replay are shaky here.
O36 2 6 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Jet sweep Chesson 36
About the easiest touchdown you'll ever see on a jet sweep. Poggi(+1) gets a slashing cut block on the playside S; playside LB sells out on the interior run and is gone. Darboh(+1) gets a good block on the corner, and that is it as far as relevant UNLV players go. RPS +3.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-4 even Pass Comeback Darboh INT
After looking at this a lot I lean towards this being a good play by the UNLV LB. This is a comeback route with a flare from the RB that is supposed to clear the underneath coverage, and Rudock does look off the comeback to the flare enough to induce this LB to take two steps to it; he manages to abort and come underneath the comeback as Rudock throws. If Rudock has a bigger arm this is probably not an INT; if Rudock looks at the flare for one second more this LB probably cannot recover. A minor mistake and one he pays for. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-0, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run FB dive Kerridge 6
Jet motion. Nobody attends to it even after the TD so Kerridge can't cut to the backside. He ends up burrowing into a pile of dudes that lurches six yards downfield when it's all said and done. Kalis(+0.5) and Braden(+0.5) provided much of the impetus; Kerridge(+0.5) did well to keep his feet.
M16 2 4 I-Form big 2 2 1 4-3 even Run Power O Isaac 4
Butt in the slot to start, motions in. They run power to the wide side. Again they dive the playside EMLOS down inside. Butt(+1) hits him and bashes him back. Both Kalis and Kerridge go inside this block, which is not what they were doing against Oregon State. This is a bit frustrating because a UNLV LB has probably forgotten to scrape back to the force and Isaac has an easy bounce outside where he is one on one with a safety for all the yards. Safety wins. RPS push, downgraded from +2 on assumption Kerridge is supposed to go inside.
M20 3 IN Offset I 2 2 1 4-4 even Run Trap Isaac 4
Glasgow(+1) gets a good kickout on one DT, getting motion. Braden(+0.5) gets an okay hit on the other guy. Kalis(-1) targets a linebacker and ends up looking foolish when that linebacker hits a gap way away from the actual play. That LB is reacting to Kerridge blasting upfield like this is an iso play; given the play design I think it's likely that Kalis is supposed to target the other LB. Said other LB is free to make a tackle; he catches Isaac after a yard and they fall for a decent gain. RPS +1.
M24 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-4 even Run Pitch sweep Isaac 76
The big one. M comes out in a formation that is very much HEY WE ARE RUNNING A SWEEP with a FB and HB to the short side and Canteen tucked in tight. M pulls Glasgow and Cole. Cole(+2) gets a tough block as he meets a DE headed straight upfield outside of him; he successfully turns and seals him. Guy eventually sheds upfield after getting removed from the play; Cole hits another guy for good measure. Canteen(-1) misIDs his block. He should crackback on a linebacker and picks a DB, who he does not hit at all. The UNLV DL has again sold out on the interior, slanting away, so they are not able to recover to help. Glasgow(+1) tracks the guy Canteen let go all the way to the sideline and hits him, giving Isaac a lane inside. Kalis(+1) released and extended to a safety to remove the second to last guy; Isaac(+3) runs through the last. One for the cut, one for the stiffarm, one for the long speed. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M18 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 6-3 over Run Power O Smith 0
This is generally well blocked, but UNLV has nine guys within 3 yards of the LOS and they successfully funnel Smith to the unblocked one. But Michigan does clear out a gap for Smith. Poggi(+2) takes the playside LB and has a play-long mean-ass slow dance with the dude. Williams(+1) folds in the playside end. Braden(-0.5) isn't agile enough to get around the Williams block and kind of decides where he's going late; Smith(-1) misses a lane to the interior and exposes himself to the outside unblocked gentleman. RPS -1.
M18 2 10 Ace 3-wide 2 2 1 4-3 over Pass Smoke Ways 21
DB ten yards off and to the interior; Rudock spots it and this is easy. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)
M39 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 2 1 2 6-2 even Run Triple trap Smith 0
I have never seen anything like this before. M looks like they're running trap blocking on three different guys across the front. The three covered linemen all move to the second level immediately with Braden, Kalis,and Houma folding behind those guys to get blocks on 'em. This doesn't go great. Braden(+1) wins his convincingly but away from the play. Kalis(-0.5) and Houma(-0.5) only get meh stalemates. Glasgow(-1) whiffs on the second level. Mags(+0.5) got a good kickout as well; Butt(+1) stepped around a LB trying to get upfield of him and eventually provided a crease, but Smith had already decided on the other one first. RPS -1; this ended up with Houma on a nose tackle and the trap stuff didn't induce UNLV mistakes. Also, another massively jammed box.
M39 2 10 Ace 3-wide 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Fly Harris Inc
Harris makes a terrific catch on a ball that is out of bounds. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M39 3 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Scramble Rudock 9
Rudock aborts from a perfect pocket and starts running around wildly. He then misses an opportunity to get it to Darboh and runs for a decent chunk of yardage that is still fourth down. (TA, N/A, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-Form twins tight 2 1 2 4-3 even Run FB dive Kerridge 2
UNLV ignores the pitch option. Unblocked DE shuffles down; DT fights inside of Braden(+0.5) who gets solid motion on the guy to open up a cutback lane. Kerridge cuts behind Braden and gets tackled by the DE. Cole(-1) suddenly changed who he wanted to block mid play and allowed a LB to also hit Kerridge, which might remove some YAC. RPS -1.
M27 2 8 I-Form twins 1 3 1 4-3 even Run Iso Johnson 3
Poggi at FB. His lead block is basically fine but it happens at the LOS. That means no hole. Johnson cuts back. He has that option because Kalis(+1) stalemated the big NT and eventually puts him on the ground when he tries to fight to the hole. Glasgow(+1) and Braden double the other guy and don't get much movement but Glasgow comes off to get a good pop on a LB who is headed to an unexpected place. RPS -1.
M30 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 30 nickel slide Pass Swing Johnson Inc
Designed play as M catches man coverage and gets a chip on the LB trying to get out to Johnson. If accurate Johnson is going to run at least 30 yards until he meets the deep S and maybe get a touchdown; Rudock throws it so far behind him he has no shot at it. (INX, 0, protection 1/1, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 14 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Ace twins 1 3 1 4-4 even Run Pitch sweep Johnson 9
Hill in the slot, first snap of the game. As per usual whenever M heads outside the UNLV defense is not set up to react. Poggi(+0.5) gets enough on the playside DE. Cole(+0.5) pulls and finds a guy trying to come under. Okay, good block; think he should have left him for Glasgow. Hill(-0.5) does an iffy job on the DB he's got in the slot. He shoves him out but then gets off balance trying to chase him and eventually that guy gets in an ankle tackle attempt. That means Johnson is a sitting duck for the S. RPS +2.
O48 2 1 Offset I twins 1 3 1 4-5 over Pass Scramble Rudock 3
The short stuff is covered; Rudock has Chesson one on one with a DB on a fly route and decides not to throw it. That is what second and one is for, man. He eventually scrambles out of the pocket for the first down. I'm giving this a TA since the gain was minimal and the shot downfield was a good situation. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O45 1 10 I-Form Big H 2 2 1 4-6 even Run Power O Smith 4
UNLV literally has every player within five yards of the LOS on this play. M blocks this well, but numbers are numbers. Braden(+0.5) erases a DT who was already slanting away. Poggi(+1) gets a driving block on the LB on the end of the line. Kerridge and Kalis both plunge into the interior of the line and move the big mass of humanity; Smith runs up their backs. RPS -1.
O41 2 6 Offset I 3-wide 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Smoke Darboh 5
Darboh(+1) stiffarms the DB and gets a nice gain. (CA, 3, screen)
O36 3 1 Goal line 2 1 0 Goal line Run Power O Smith 0
M has 7 OL on this play. Kugler is in at RT. Mags flips to LT. Strobel, wearing 50, is outside of him, and finally Cole outside of that. Strobel(-2) gets slashed under since he is in no way an OL. Smith completely misses the fact that everyone has cut inside and a bounce is at least a first down and probably plenty more, but on third and one that might not be an option. RPS -2. Tom Strobel is not an OL.
O36 4 1 Goal line 2 1 0 Goal line Run Power O Smith 0
Same thing with a flipped line. M runs a power that looks like it's going further outside by design. Poggi(+1) bashes the playside end in; Braden gets around that. Kerridge(+1) blows up the DB on the end of the line; Braden(+0.5) pulls around and gets a hit; there is no edge; bounce is a touchdown; Smith(-3) falls over untouched.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 21-0, 8 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Pitch sweep Johnson 9
M motions from a diamond backfield to this, with Butt moving. After the move this is a very pitch formation and M pitches. Ways(+1) hits a LB trying to shoot a gap inside of him; LB bangs the playside end and Michigan has the edge. Cole(+1) gets a terrific cut block on a linebacker. Kerridge(+1) puts a corner on the ground. Glasgow doesn't get a shot to really get his block; Johnson cuts back inside of him and gets tackled from behind by the guy Ways hit at the beginning of the play. Great play by that dude. RPS +1.
M29 2 1 Ace 3-wide 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Inside zone Johnson 2
Kerridge is in the slot; UNLV ignores this. He is literally uncovered. Michigan is all like let's run with six blockers at eight guys and it goes okay. Glasgow(+1) kicks and pushes the NT. Kalis(+0.5) and Mags(+0.5) get movement on the other guy and then Kalis splits out on a LB. Johnson directly upfield for the first down. RPS -1.
M31 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-4 even Pass Waggle FB flat Kerridge 8
Same presnap action as the first play of the drive; Kerridge pops open after the waggle and Rudock hits him for a nice gain. Kerridge is hurt on this play. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M39 2 2 Offset I Big Unbalanced 2 2 1 4-4 over Run Counter Isaac 6
Cole outside of Mags; M runs a counter away from the tackle over. Butt(+1) gets a good block on the DE at the POA; he eventually loses it but the guy had to give up a lot of ground to do so. Kalis(+0.5) pulls and kicks a LB. Glasgow(+1) seals the NT away. Braden(+0.5) gets a second level block; Houma accelerates through the hole and targets the S; the other ILB comes over to tackle. Probably defensible on a counter? If that LB takes the bait then he's the most dangerous.
M45 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-4 over Run FB dive Houma 2
Again no reaction to jet action. Unblocked backside DE crashes down to tackle. Braden(-0.5) didn't do a great job on one DT. Kalis was a bit better but still a push. RPS -1.
M47 2 8 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Split Iso Johnson 5
Houma motions from a wing spot to the offset FB spot and then heads inside for an iso. Braden(-0.5) initially kicks a DT expecting something to the outside of him; he loses the guy on a spin move. Glasgow and Kalis double the NT; they cannot get enough motion on him to get one of them out a linebacker, but they do open the crease. Cole(+1) gets a solid second level block that moves a LB and opens up a dangerous crease behind him; Houma(+0.5) hits another LB; Johnson hits the gap. DT who spun off Braden and the last LB combine to tackle.
O48 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Slant and go Darboh Inc
Rudock takes a shot here. I guess that's okay, but he has a circle route right under this that is wide open for the first down. Against zone he should be reading the corner high/low and low is where it's at. Darboh does have a step; Rudock puts it long and Darboh can only get one hand on it. Hang the ball up, fergodsakes. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Ace trips tight bunch 1 1 3 6-2 even Run Triple trap Isaac 15
Same weird play as above. Isaac bundles headlong into that NT that Butt is barely fending off. He spins through this to the inside, with he effect of an out-in cut. Now that he's dealt with the NT there's not much resistance. Glagsow(+1) and Cole(+1) get excellent second level blocks that remove their gents from the equation. Mags(+1) drives another guy well out of the picture. Harris(+0.5) finds a safety and eliminates him. Isaac(+1) is gone but for an ankle tackle by the last dude.
O44 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-4 over Pass Hitch Butt 9
Small window opens up after Butt is covered originally; Rudock hits it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O35 2 1 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Power O Isaac 6
Left side mashes UNLV off the ball; Butt(+1) gets a couple yards of depth on a DE. Cole(+1) blows out a DT; Braden(+0.5) helps and gets to a linebacker. Houma(-0.5) gets a kick but can't maintain it. Kalis picks his way through, Isaac(+0.5) does a nice job of waiting a beat to let the blocking develop, and he follows the surge for a quality gain.
O29 1 10 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-4 over Run Power O Isaac 4
Butt(+1) again gets a driving block, this time on the DT(!). Some help from Cole but Butt is the guy driving this block. That's a crease; Kalis(+0.5) finds and kicks a linebacker. UNLV ran a run blitz that sees a linebacker shoot the gap behind Kalis, the puller; he follows the play and makes a tackle when Isaac gets slowed up by that same DT, who Cole(-0.5) could not effectively step around.
O25 2 6 Offset I 2 2 1 4-4 even Pass Comeback Chesson 12
Rudock gets pure man and Chesson gets open on comeback route; Rudock hits him. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O13 1 10 Offset I 1 2 2 4-4 over Pass Smoke Harris 8
This probably shouldn't work so close to the endzone. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
O5 2 2 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Pitch sweep Isaac -1
Either Isaac makes a bad cut here or Houma runs in the wrong gap. Assume the latter as Mags(+1) has a deep pull on which he steps around a defender to seal him. Houma(-2) shoots inside this block and leaves Isaac exposed on the edge.
O6 3 3 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Pass PA FB flat Houma 5
Quick PA with Rudock flipping around immediately to pass; Houma beats his guy to the flat, complete, not quite TD. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O1 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run FB dive Houma 1
Obviously.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-0, 11 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Flash screen Darboh 9
Canteen(+0.5) picks up a block and the edge is otherwise open. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
M46 2 1 Shotgun 2-back tight 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Pin and pull Johnson 10 (Pen -14)
Another pop outside that UNLV has not stopped yet. Butt(+0.5) seals playside LB for a bit. He does get shed and his guy will make contact well downfield. Glasgow(+0.5) gets out and gets enough of a LB with a cut block. Mags(+0.5) does the same further downfield. Cole(-2) takes a clipping penalty on a guy who was never going to be relevant.
M32 2 15 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Drag Butt 5
Rudock takes a dump for a few yards. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M37 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Fly Darboh Inc
Darboh has beaten his guy handily and turns inside; ball ends up floating outside. I guess this is catchable but I put this more on QB than WR. Darboh has to look back to the ball in some way before he knows where it's going. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-7, 7 min 4th Q. Speight drive not charted.

I feel so meh about this.

I felt better after watching the film. Michigan was content to grind this out without showing their hand for BYU. UNLV was content to get gashed on the outside as long as they made it look good on the inside. There was no better example of this than that time on third and one where Michigan put Kerridge in the slot and nobody from UNLV bothered to acknowledge his existence:

Michigan converted on a run up the gut anyway. So it goes.

So we are not that worried about an anemic run game?

We are not. Given the way UNLV was playing the long runs that busted to the outside were less a happy fluke and more an inevitable consequence. Literally every time Michigan tested the edge against UNLV they found very little resistance. The jet sweep touchdown needed two blocks, and I'm not entirely sure it needed the first:

Meanwhile Michigan messes up the Isaac pitch sweep and still rips off a 76 yard touchdown because UNLV just cannot defend the edge given the way they are playing.

De'Veon Smith's part in the run game was anemic, but large chunks of that was Michigan running into the teeth of stacked fronts that were overplaying anything between the tackles.

Michigan countered that with the two big runs and got reasonable production despite the overplays to assemble 6.5 YPC. That's good.

I mean, the

CHART

chart is pretty good.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Cole 7 3.5 4.5 Clip the main issue.
Braden 7.5 1.5 6 Lack of negs in back to back weeks heartening.
Glasgow 10 1 9 Big bounce back against a big dude.
Kalis 6.5 2.5 4 Harbaugh said he was M's best lineman, FWIW.
Magnuson 6   6 Clean positive sweep from the OL.
Butt 5.5   5.5 Very, very good. Weird.
Williams 1.5   1.5 Not much PT.
Kerridge 3.5   3.5 Moved some minuses to RPS.
Poggi 5.5 2 3.5 Had a couple mansome blocks.
Houma 0.5 3 -2.5 Dinged him for a redzone play I'm pretty sure he was supposed to go outside on.
Bunting       DNC
TOTAL 53.5 16 77% Strobel was –2, Hill –0.5. Lack of negs for OL is unprecedented, tantalizing, probably opponent generated.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Rudock       Fumble.
Morris       DNP
Smith 2 8 -6 Two very bad plays and not much to make up for it.
Isaac 4.5   4.5 Mostly that run.
Green       DNC
Johnson       DN
Taylor-Douglas       DNC
TOTAL 6.5 8 -1.5 Discussion below.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Darboh 2   2  
Chesson        
Harris 0.5      
Perry        
Cole       DNP
Ways 1   1  
Canteen 0.5 1 -0.5  
TOTAL 4 1 3  
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 29 0 100% Makes Rudock's day much more alarming.
RPS 18 12 6

I thought this was going to be negative.

I don't want to take too much away from the individual numbers since this is still UNLV we are talking about here. I will say that Braden is way better than he was a year ago. In week three against a similarly dire opponent he was 8-4=4.

Also of note was Cole's play in space in this game. That was a weak point through about a game and a half; he was very good in this one. This is the kind of cut block that cannot be leapt or recovered from:

He sealed ends off when required and got very good second level blocks.

The line didn't get a ton of great blocks but they lost very, very little. The overall result were numbers lower in amplitude than usual but way over our 66% benchmark for a good outing. Cole took –2 for a clip; interior guys got occasional dings for picking the wrong second level guy; I had almost no negatives for lost blocks.

But Smith was not so hot in this game?

He didn't have many opportunities to bust through guys. This was UNLV's design and his presence created a gameplan that was exploitable. It was even more exploitable than we saw, as Michigan was largely content to butt its head against a wall in the second half.

That the gameplan designed to limit him limited him isn't a huge surprise. I did think he missed a couple more cuts. Contrast this pitch sweep with Ty Isaac's:

That TFL is 100% on Smith. I also thought he had a lane here to be mean ol' De'Veon Smith in but instead exposed himself to the unblocked guy outside:

That's a play on which a quicker guy with the same awareness scrapes out some yards; Smith has a much smaller margin for error with his vision because he's a nuclear-powered icebreaker.

And then there was the real bad thing:

Michigan did not convert a fourth and one because Smith fell over of his own volition; the weird formation had flanked UNLV and without that trip the play goes one of two ways: Smith gets caught by a guy shooting a gap inside of Braden, or he scores. That is a huge swing in our perception of this run game.

Aside from the pitch above, the cuts Smith missed were mostly ones he doesn't like to make and has probably been told to avoid at all cost: bounces. Smith knows his strengths and generally goes straight upfield. (Or you could say he rarely sees opportunities to deviate from the play design.) If he bounces it's often because he has no other choice. So UNLV spent the day diving their EMLOS (end man on the line of scrimmage) inside Michigan tight ends.

That constricted a ton of lanes and left huge tracts of land to the outside. Smith did not test that.

In general Michigan did not look like they were particularly focused on beating this schematically.

Wait, what?

Against Oregon State they ran a bunch of power plays where they had two guys pulling, one to either side of a block on a DE.

If they'd done that in this game and their RBs bounced it out they would have slaughtered this D. But for whatever reason this game saw both those guys go inside:

This clip was the inside run game in a nutshell: Michigan hammers UNLV off the ball and is thwarted by the Rebels' willingness to put everyone at the LOS. Even so Michigan gets a solid outcome for first and goal from the nine; Kerridge arcing outside like he did towards the end of the Oregon State game is a walk-in TD. I started minusing Kerridge for this but after a while it became clear this was what they were supposed to do and I shifted those over to RPS.

It was getting a bit frustrating watching this happen repeatedly. This one is a monster gain if anyone arcs outside:

Ideally Isaac would bust this himself; 1 out of 2 on the day ain't bad.

But the RPS came out positive anyway?

Yeah. Michigan got a free jet sweep TD, four quick screens that succeeded, and a bunch of easy pitch sweeps. Michigan also had sufficient changeups to prevent the extra guys in the box from blowing too much up. I usually offer an RPS minus if I don't think it's reasonable for the offense to block the guy who made the tackle (if the tackle is near the LOS) and that didn't happen too much in this game.

If this is weird to you, it is also weird to me.

AJ Williams kind of disappeared after his best day as a Wolverine. What's the deal?

In this game at least, Poggi was the top inline TE. This is a situation where Poggi has a major advantage if the two guys are at all close: Poggi is relatively new to the position and Michigan has him for another two years. He has much more upside and reason to develop that upside.

His performance is justifying the playing time. He got the (possibly) critical block on the jet sweep TD, and this is a play-long whuppin';

I bet a dollar Poggi got a sticker for that. Poggi also crushed his guy down the line on the ill-fated fourth down attempt.

The trajectory here is highly encouraging. He was bad in the opener, better but still erratic in game two, and very good in game three. Tough to tell quite yet but it looks like he's a real player who had some first-game jitters in his debut at a new spot.

Also cutting into Williams's PT was Jake Butt. Butt had another good day as a blocker. On this counter run at the weak side of a tackle over formation he wins the key block at the POA:

That is their WDE, sure. Here's Butt rocking their SDE back with whiplash:

I'm still excited when he does anything that says ACTUAL TE NOT DEVIN FUNCHESS. (Not that I wouldn't stab someone to get Funchess on this team. It's just that M needs a TE like Butt for maximum Harbaughs.)

Over the course of the day he got a lot of guys diving inside of him. In that situation the move is to shove 'em, get some depth, and open up the cutback; Michigan didn't take advantage but that had little to do with how well the TE blocking was or was not going.

And Hill?

We didn't see him until late and then only briefly. He ended up a slot receiver on another play that looks like a pitch sweep; he got a shove in but then lost the guy. Poggi is the man right now.

AAARGH Jake Rudock /throws trident

There is no way around it: Rudock was very bad. If Jake Rudock is not going to complete a five yard swing route that is at least 30 yards of YAC, I'm going to write a column about how I'm freakin' out, man:

This was the worst I'd ever seen him play by about a million miles.

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%

Good news: that's probably not going to happen again. Bad news: that is a downgrade in expectation anyway.

Rudock had a number of instances in this game where he ended up sitting in the pocket forever and then running around. That is a major indicator of a quarterback who is not comfortable with the offense and isn't seeing guys get open. I was frustrated with him for both being too conservative (he had a one on one matchup on the outside on second and one and instead scrambled for a few yards) and too aggressive (he had a wide open conversion on third and three and instead went for a relatively well-covered deep ball.)

I'm all for taking shots. Third and three when the side of the field you're surveying has a blitheringly wide open conversion with YAC potential is not the time.

The throws he did hit were mostly super easy, from the smoke/flash screens (four for 43 yards) to a slant on which a confused UNLV wasn't even in the area code. I'm glad the smoke stuff is still exploiting open edges, but that is going to go away against teams with better corners who think they can match up with Michigan's WRs—and that will be a lot of teams. The pressure to improve the actual downfield part is going to ramp up. Michigan needs Rudock to be the guy who always hits the stuff he should hit; if he does not do that then he does not make sense as a QB.

I will kind of defend him on the interception.

He has a flare route underneath his target that he does induce the LB to take two steps to; once he comes off the flare he probably is not expecting the UNLV player to recover and get to the ball. That does not happen if he is Ryan Mallett or if he holds the guy a beat longer, yes. It is still an excellent play from UNLV.

Also in faint praise, this little pop pass is spooky:

That corner gives zero indication he's coming. Michigan must have seen something on film that gave away the blitz there.

I am dousing myself in acid.

I won't stop you.

Hey.

I mean that Michigan needs much better play out of Rudock if they're going to have a decent season.

This weeks Stanfordization of the week?

Multiple options. Michigan debuted an iso-ish variant where the offset fullback starts pulling to the back of the play:

DTs flipped out about this and created some big gaps up the gut. I think I know why: this kind of fullback action is most commonly split zone. DL sees that, figures they are defending zone to their side of the ball, and get upfield. If you look closely at the playside DT in the above clip, he redirects hard once the FB crosses his face. Then the FB redirects and there are some big ol' gaps on the interior line.

And this is… something?

Michigan ran this twice. The first time was not particularly successful since Houma was taking on a 330 pound NT at the point of attack; the second saw that Isaac spin move above make up for the fact that Michigan was trying to block that dude with Jake Butt.

I have no idea what this is. I have not seen it before. It looks like three separate trap-type blocks across the front with immediate releases from the guys DL normally expect to block them. I called it "triple trap" but that is obviously a dumb and bad name. Taking advice on whatever this is.

We also saw more of the traps (rather successful) and FB dives (not so successful) that the Oregon State game brought us. I thought this trap was particularly interesting:

The interesting people are the fullback and Kalis. The fullback heads to the back side of the line and the UNLV LB reacts in Pavlovian fashion. You see that fullback, you go hit him. So he removes himself from the play; Kalis chases him instead of hitting the other guy. Otherwise Isaac is again one on one with a safety.

Does this feel qualitatively different than other manball stuff you've seen?

It does. Michigan keeps deploying these little tweaks. The split iso thing is very cool to me; it's not something I've seen before and you can see how it moves the defensive tackles. Michigan's previous manball offenses did very little of this kind of thing. Rich Rodriguez was also a tinkerer—remember that period where Carlos Brown was suddenly zooming off the backside for 80 yard runs?—and it's no coincidence that Michigan was better at running under him than they had been since Tim Biakabutuka.

Harbaugh's style is diametrically opposed to Rodriguez but his approach is similar. He is always looking for ways to screw with people. He has a base; he never wants people to know what's coming. What Harbaugh has with his style that Rodriguez did not are options. Each guy is a gap, and each gap can be moved. I still think in most situations it's better to remove blockers instead of add them since one missed block can end a play, but Harbaugh has a track record of making the extra guys an asset.

I have an inkling of why now.

Have any more Layman's Rules Of Blocking?

No, but I'd like to bring forth another example of #2, Stay Attached:

In this life you're occasionally going to get hurled to and fro by large, angry men with flowing manes of curly hair. If you have the balance and footwork to continue annoying them after they have done this you can push them past where they want to go and create a cutback lane. It's the tailback's job to run around the guys. Just stay attached.

Receivers?

Nothing of note, which is unsurprising given the passing game.

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

Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Darboh 3 0/2 4/4   5 0/2 13/15
Chesson     1/1   0/1 5/5
Perry       1 1/2 2/3
Harris 1     1/1   2 1/1 2/2
Ways       1/1     1/1
Cole         1/1
Butt 1 2/2   5 1/1 2/2 10/10
Williams         2 1/1   1/1
Bunting               4/4
Poggi              
                   
Smith     1/1   1   5/6
Isaac         2/2
Green      
Johnson 1         1      
Kerridge     1/1 2/2     1/1 3/3
Houma       1/1         1/1

Kerridge is a nice receiver for a fullback.

I didn't put that last Darboh deep ball on him particularly. Thought it was more Rudock.

Heroes?

All blockers.

Maybe not so heroic?

Rudock, Smith.

What does it mean for BYU and beyond?

We get to test out the line's improvement. At this instant it looks like BYU NT Travis Tuiloma will not play. That leaves BYU considerably short of Utah's fierce line but well above the other two teams Michigan has faced. They look a lot better. I'm not saying they're going to be great, but I have hopes they can get a clear win.

Rudock needs to be Iowa Rudock please.  Let us all look back on this as a hilarious aberration.

RB battle is on. Smith gave up much of the commanding lead he had after Oregon State, and Isaac looked quality.

Tight ends are coming on. Poggi, Butt, and Williams look very credible as blockers.

Braden is probably going to hold on to his job. Big turnaround, and it was Kugler who got the weird 7 OL snaps in this game.

Tom Strobel is looking to set a Michigan record for the most numbers worn in a single season. Do it.

Wide receivers… eh. Hard to judge with limited opportunities.

Comments

marti221

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:43 PM ^

I honestly don't think we have anyone on our depth chart that can make a guy miss consistently. At least none that I've seen. Drake and Ty bring speed, but still lack the wiggle. That's why I think it'd be huge to get Jabrill some carries. Obviously this is something that we all want to see eventually. I just think it's a crucial piece to the run game we are missing.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

M-Dog

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:25 PM ^

Johnson has great wiggle and was making Ohio State defenders miss all over the place.  But once he gets past the LOS he can't run over guys like Smith can. 

None of our backs are the single answer.  We will have to mix them up depending on down and distance and where we are on the field.

And Rudock completing a long pass or two in a game would help them all.

I Like Burgers

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:31 PM ^

I mean, he's good.  Plowing through tackles and being good at YAC is definitely a big plus and as we've seen from our other backs, not everyone can do that.  *cough*TyIssac*coughcough* (Oops my cough just knocked Ty over).  

Smith just doesn't have great vision, and that's what's stopping him from being great.  He's merely a good RB, but not a great RB.

Magnus

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:50 PM ^

I think this type of criticism is so bonkers. Saying "not everyone can [gain yards after contact]" is a weird criticism. Okay, assuming that Ty Isaac can't gain yards after contact (I disagree, but I'll go with it for a second), you know what De'Veon Smith can't do? Run fast and see holes. You know what Drake Johnson can't do? Stay healthy. You know what Carlos Brown couldn't do? Break tackles. You know what Brandon Minor couldn't do? Stay healthy. You know what Mike Hart couldn't do? Run fast.

Virtually every running back has some sort of weakness unless you're talking about an elite guy like Tyrone Wheatley, Anthony Thomas, etc. who were first round picks or close to it.

I don't like picking running backs by saying "Well, he can't do this" or "He can't do that." I like picking running backs by production. If you gain 8 yards/carry by running through guys, vaulting over the line, or outrunning everyone to the sideline every play, why does it matter? It's like saying Doug Flutie's not a good QB because he's short. A midget with one leg and a glass eye should get chances to run (er, hop) the ball down the field if he can do it well.

Lanknows

September 23rd, 2015 at 7:39 PM ^

5.7ypc last year.  Give him the rock!

...Ah well, he'll always have '14 App State and Miami!

The interesting thing about Smith is that some of his best games have been when the going has been tough for the offense (e.g., 18/121 at Northwestern last year).  That's either a credit or an indictment, depending on your prejudice towards him.

wahooverine

September 23rd, 2015 at 5:11 PM ^

This the only time I've ever heard Isaac accused of going down easy or not getting YAC, never obverved this either.  Sure he's not Deveon Smith with a full head of steam, but he runs tough and lowers the boom on contact well for a tall guy, falling forward and usually stretching for a yard or two.  I recall the TV commentators were referring to Isaac as a battering ram or "a load" or something like that. 

Magnus

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:33 PM ^

This is and always has been true. He is Jim Harbaugh's version of Vincent Smith - a guy who has moderate skills but exemplifies what the coach wants. I would argue that virtually every other running back on the roster is a better pure runner with the ball in his hands, but none of them run with as much determination as Smith.

ijohnb

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:42 PM ^

don't see how he continues to be a feature-ish running back, at all.  If somebody had asked me to pick the least likely guy to get the bulk of the carries this year I would have said Smith.  He runs with "determination" if he only has to be determined to take fleeting contact and stay on his feet.  But I don't think I have ever seen him make somebody "miss" a tackle and at times does not seem to even realize that should be a goal of his.  I also seriously can't remember seeing a running back hit a hole(if you can even call it that) slower than he does.  I envision Smith against MSU and I see like 16 carries for 9 yards.

Rabbit21

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:57 PM ^

He may not be a great run blocker and if his problems are indeed vision related, I don't know what you solve by putting him in a position where he has to make multiple reads before and during the play to determine who to block.  

Not every big, slow tailback is meant to be a fullback and Smith has a place in the offense, there's some inconsistencies with his vision sure, but if he can be used as a club later in the game with how hard he runs, then so be it.  There's also a chance that the coaches figure out how to give him simpler reads as the season goes on and he can go do that voodoo that he does so well.  

TL;DR no reason to move him to fullback and it may not be a good fit anyway. 

Magnus

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:04 PM ^

I'm not advocating a move for Smith to fullback...but vision? Really? I have never heard "vision" mentioned as a quality required in a fullback. Pre-snap, you know who you're going to block, and you go hit him. If you're too dumb to do that, you're not smart enough to play tailback, either.

Rabbit21

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:25 PM ^

I could be wrong, but I thought part of the Harbaugh offense that Brian described was having fullbacks who could adapt their blocking to what the defense was doing.  Also my memories of O-Line play are fuzzy(been over 20 years)but I remember a bit more going into the who to block decision than this is my guy I go get him and there is plenty of adjusting who to block based on what happens in front of you.  So maybe vision isn't the best choice of words, maybe a better choice is ability to adapt to changing conditions and make quick decisions, which is part of blocking.

I thought you were a football coach?

Magnus

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:35 PM ^

Obviously, I'm oversimplifying things, but it's not what I consider "vision." The things you're describing also apply to centers, guards, tackles, and tight ends. Do you also use "vision" as a requisite skill for those positions?

"Vision" is the ability to see where blocks are going to develop and find open space for a runner.

Rabbit21

September 23rd, 2015 at 5:04 PM ^

So maybe vision isn't the best choice of words, maybe a better choice is ability to adapt to changing conditions and make quick decisions, which is part of blocking.

I don't really see us as disagreeing here.  We're both basically describing situational awareness and different ways it's applied.  But if you have to have the win, then fine, "vision" wasn't the right choice of words, but SA as a concept was.  If Smith's basic issue is Situational awareness as a runner, it's likely it would apply to his duties as a blocker as well.  Happy?

Gucci Mane

September 24th, 2015 at 2:23 AM ^

Not that it matters at all.....but when he said "vision" I knew exactly what he meant. If someone refered to any postional player as having good "vision" I would assume it meant them being able to properly excute their plays, even when their reads may not be clear. 

umchicago

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:07 PM ^

guys like larry czonka, jerome bettis, christian okoye or brandon minor didn't make guys miss much.  smith seemed to take a step back against unlv, but he definitely showed patience in the osu game, waiting for his blockers. hopefully, he can continue to improve there, because he does run hard.

that said, i like the potential of Drake the best.  he does have the ability to make guys miss and great speed to go with it.

Magnus

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:54 PM ^

Teams getting beaten up tend to tap out, regardless. I don't think De'Veon Smith had much of an effect on UNLV because he kept getting stuffed at the line without getting a head of steam, and Michigan's running backs were still gaining yards late in the game. There wouldn't be anything wrong with using someone like Smith as your closer if he's just going to barrel through a bunch of unwilling tacklers.

Erik_in_Dayton

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:16 PM ^

He didn't seem to have much effect against UNLV.  And I'm with you in that I'd like to see Isaac get a larger share of the carries. 

But, as far as teams being beaten up, Smith is the guy who is most likely to help administer a beating - at least if by "beating" we're talking about inflicting violence on defending players.  I think you have to credit him with giving an inspiring effort and with the violence of his runs (which remind me of another No. 4, Brandon Minor) when taking stock of him. 

Magnus

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:26 PM ^

I'll grant that he runs hard. However, I would take Brandon Minor any day of the week over De'Veon Smith. They're only similar in that they run violently. Minor would probably be averaging about 5.0 to 5.5 yards/carry right now if he were given Smith's carries.

unWavering

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:52 PM ^

I don't know, I think we need to give him more of a chance.  He looked absolutely beastly vs Oregon State (yeah, I know, level of competition).  I think 70% of his problems have been due to poor performance on the OL the last couple of years, and the other 30% is vision.  It seems like his vision is improving, at least a little, and we know that the offensive line is improving. 

Obviously, he's never going to be a burner or score long TDs, but he's hard to bring down, pretty much always falls forward, and does not fumble on anything resembling a regular basis (has he ever fumbled?).  At the very least I'd say he's a reliable back, if not a spectacular playmaker.  If our OL can get a solid push against better teams (who aren't stacking the box like UNLV), I think he'd be good for a solid 4.5 YPC week in, week out.

Magnus

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:56 PM ^

I could say similar things about Ty Isaac - he falls forward and hasn't fumbled. (And, by the way, Smith did fumble against Oregon State last week.) Maybe he's a little easier to bring down, but he also gains more yards before he gets brought down.

If our OL can get a solid push, any of our backs can be "reliable." I don't really see that as a positive for Smith more than anyone else.

ak47

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:07 PM ^

Yeah that failed 3rd and short briand clipped looked exactly like the failed 4th down from Utah and Smith made the same mistake of not following his blocker to the outside for an easy gain.  The reason I think he doesn't do this is because he doesn't have the speed to get outside before the defense gets through the hole.  It makes me think we shouldn't call that play for Smith but its also the reason Smith will never get above above average as a running back.  If you can't cut and outrun a guy you are limited to about 10 yard run maximums if things are blocked correctly, 5 yards if they aren't. That isn't a good maximum to have.

Mr. Yost

September 23rd, 2015 at 8:15 PM ^

It's infuriating because it shows a pure lack of knowledge for football just because you want speed and flash.

Smith is a very solid RB, Green and Isaac are too when they have blocking.

Smith is the best option if the OL isn't blocking, he rarely loses yardage and he routinely breaks tackles. Green is probably the best all around RB, but he needs holes. Isaac is a one cut and go type back which is awesome if there are actually holes/creases to run through.

Go look at the Utah came and tell me how many holes/creases you saw. I saw TWO that Smith missed, but for every other snap he was routinely making something out of nothing and keeping the down and distance managable.

Aren't you tired of the lost yardage plays? Aren't you tired of the "and long" situations over and over? I thought the OL 2 years ago and the Devin Gardner years made us all weary of negative yardage. Guess it was just me.

Smith is the safe choice, and I get that. He's not a gamebreaker, and that's okay if we keep the D&D in "and manageable" situations. As soon as we're "and long" we're fucked...it's been that way since Denard was a healthy QB and could pick up 3rd and 10 with his feet.

TreyBurkeHeroMode

September 24th, 2015 at 4:03 PM ^

If your RB's regularly running into defenders while still in the backfield, the fault is rarely with them. It's more likely with the blockers and playcalling that allowed those defenders into the backfield in the first place.

Only guys like Denard or Barry Sanders could regularly be expected to make the first guy miss behind the line of scrimmage.