Upon Further Review: Offense vs Minnesota Comment Count

Brian November 13th, 2008 at 12:30 PM

A note on the defensive formations below: I'm just trying to generally describe what kind of front Minnesota is in. I don't have any idea who is who on Minnesota's team and on TV they never tell you about substitutions, so I have little idea if Minnesota actually had, say, four linebackers on the field when they aligned in a 4-4. I suspect they just had the same guys out there all the time and moved them around.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-4x Pass Bubble screen Odoms 6
Minnesota in a dedicated eight-man front with four DL and four LB. One or two of them are probably safeties but they're lined up as LBs. This means there's no one lined up directly over Odoms; Michigan goes to the bubble. Minnesota reacts quickly enough; Stonum gets a good block on one guy but there's another coming from the outside and Odoms is tackled after a decent gain. (CA, 3, screen)
M40 2 4 Wildcat 4-4x Run ISQD Minor -1
The usual QB sweep featured in Picture Pages lo so many weeks ago. Good scoop from Ferrara and Molk gets the playside DT sealed and Ferrara out on one of the LBs, but Ortmann(-1) has been driven back considerably, closing the hole and forcing Minor to bounce it out, where Minnesota linebackers and whatnot converge.
M41 3 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Fly Mathews 28
Sheridan drops back and just chucks one downfield. Mathews gets no separation—unsurprising since this is a really obvious playcall—forcing Sheridan's throw to be perfect for Mathews to have any shot. It is; Mathews makes a spectacular one-handed diving grab. (DO, 1, protection 2/2) DO, 1 is something I don't think I've ever written before, FWIW.
O33 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-4x Run Zone read dive Minor 1
Molk(-1) lets Minnesota time the snap on this one and gets beaten by the NT lined up directly over him, which forces the usual cutback into unblocked guys. Minnesota was blitzing two OLB sorts and had four DL and two MLB, so, yeah, this probably wasn't going anywhere anyway.
O32 2 9 Shotgun trips 4-4x Pass Out Stonum Inc
Okay, the eighth guy in the box is a safety they're walking up to the line every play. They actually back him out this time but send six at the snap; the DEs time the snap. Michigan manages to hold off the first wave; a delayed blitz from the Minnesota LB gets him in untouched and Sheridan has to chuck it, hitting Stonum on a hideously looping out that Stonum drops. Actually, it appears the DB knocked it away. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
O32 3 9 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Hitch Koger Inc (Pen+5)
A Minnesota LB doesn't even wait for Molk's head to come up to jump across the line of scrimmage. Sheridan ends up rolling out and throwing an errant one-yard hitch to a covered Koger which he can't bring in. (MA, 2, protection N/A)
O27 3 4 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Post Stonum Inc
The safety reads it, as Sheridan is staring this down the whole way, jumping the route and nearly picking the ball off. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(44), 3-0, 11 min 1st Q. This drive gave me the heebie-jeebies re: Sheridan.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read counter Minor 2
Sort of on the 4-3, anyway, with a guy lined up directly over Odoms and a safety rolled up; always many in the box. Michigan breaks out the play with Moundros diving backside to block the DE that worked well last week but the DE has crashed inside, forcing Minor outside, where the guy lined up over Odoms—not covering the bubble—tackles. I have this insane idea that Michigan could have a play like this where the QB hands off to the RB, then turns into a potential option pitchman(!).
M31 2 8 Shotgun empty 2TE Base 4-3 Pass Slant Savoy Inc
A wobbler that's well behind Savoy and incomplete. May have been tipped at the line, hard to tell. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M31 3 8 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Run QB draw Sheridan 5
Sheridan provides a flare screen pump fake, then takes off upfield. It opens up for a few yards but Minnesota is close enough to the LOS that a couple guys get to Sheridan before the sticks.
M36 4 3 Punt Punt return Run Zoltan! Zoltan! 7
Zoltan does his rugby roll, realizes there's no one to the side of the field he's rolling to, and outruns the one guy rushing him to that side for a first down. Space.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-4x Pass Long handoff Mathews 3
Three down linemen with a guy on the corner creeping up at the snap after Minnesota started off with a man look. Sheridan chucks a long handoff; Mathews gets a few. (CA, 3, screen)
M46 2 7 Shotgun trips 3-4x Run Zone read dive Minor 40
Same deal from Minnesota. They've got their two DTs pinched in real tight and the one DE they do have lined up in normal outside position; I've never seen anything like this before. On this they blitz a guy off a corner, send one LB on the bubble route, and then have the other two guys start stalking outside. Michigan, though, is going right up the middle. Schilling and Moosman have a miscommunication or something and let the backside DT split them, but he slips or gets grabbed or something and falls, sending Minor into the secondary for a major gain—no linebackers. On replay, it looks like Moosman inadvertently tripped the guy.
O14 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-4x Run Zone read stretch Minor 2
Minnesota's DL are shooting upfield, not stepping left to match the Michigan OL, and as such both Moosman and Schilling get their guys cut and out of the play as Molk heads to the second level, where he misses his block because the playside DE has caused Minor to cut up more abruptly than I think the usual intent is. Minor spins out of that guy's tackle; Gophers converge.
O12 2 8 Shotgun diamond 3-4x Pass Diamond screen Odoms -3
Man, Stonum(-2) really messes this up, getting off the snap late and letting his guy in on Odoms. If he gets a block, this looks like a touchdown. Instead Odoms gets tackled behind the LOS, fumbling and turning the ball over. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 3-0, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O49 1 10 Shotgun 2-back trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Shaw 7
They run this to a very crowded short side of the field, FWIW. Molk gets a great reach block on the playside DT, creasing the line, and Shaw scoots through it with Moosman and Minor leading the way; unfortunately Ferrara's downfield block on the MLB is pretty meh and Shaw runs into the pair about three yards downfield. He continues plowing his way downfield, getting tackled from behind.
O42 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Odoms 9
A man free look, sort of, with three linebackers right in the box and one deep safety. This provides a numerical mismatch on the trips receivers side; Michigan throws the bubble. This one isn't as upfield as it should be, allowing the Minnesota defenders some time to fend off their blocks, but Odoms still has plenty of room to scoot for the first down. (CA, 3, screen)
O33 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Sheridan 8
Sheridan keeps it this time, getting outside of a crashing defensive end and cutting up smartly for good yards.
O25 2 2 Shotgun empty 4-4x Run QB off tackle Sheridan 1
A tight formation with Moundros and Minor lined up as h-backs. I never understand the blocking on these where the lead back on the stretch or on this play doesn't attempt to slam up between the G and T or C and G but instead heads outside the T. That guy never blocks anyone. Anyway, there's a crease here as Moosman does get the playside DT sealed but it's Moosman, right, not Molk, so there's no one in the hole blocking the WLB/safety guy lined up over Odoms in the slot, and that guy hits Sheridan hard.
O24 3 1 I-form twins 3-4x Run Iso Minor 1
Minnesota's DTs get an excellent slant into the path of the play—lucky call—and take Michigan's guards into the backfield, falling; Minor has to cut back and meets the unblocked guys on the backside. Just short of the line.
O23 4 In Ace Goal line Run QB sneak Sheridan 1
O22 1 10 Shotgun empty 2TE 3-4x Run QB off tackle Sheridan 5 (Pen+5)
Minnesota DT jumps the snap again, drawing a flag—I bet Michigan sent in a bunch of tape from the MSU game and said “dude, WTF”—as Michigan runs the QB zone stretch thing again; Molk somehow manages to prevent his guy from closing down the hole despite the snap jump and Sheridan squeezes through; that DT does trip him up as he passes.
O17 1 5 Shotgun 2-back 3-4x Pass Bubble screen Odoms Inc
Odoms drops this, possibly because he's trying to figure out how not to get killed by a charging safety who has this dead to rights. (CA, 3, screen) Even though you can hear the whistles going for a good four seconds, a Minnesota player rams into Odoms' knees and doesn't get called.
O17 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 3-4x Pass Rollout – FB flat Moundros Inc
The play action counter play that opponents seem to have figured out. Sheridan gets a guy in his face and ends up throwing short to Moundros, who should have 3-4 if he catches it. He doesn't. (CA, 3, protection NA)
O17 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 3-4x Pass Fade Mathews Inc
This is accurate-ish but I think Mathews is running to the near corner of the endzone and is open. Sheridan is throwing it further back; this allows a Minnesota defender to recover and make a nice play on the ball. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(34), 6-0, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 2TE 4-4x Run Zone read stretch Minor 2
Molk gets the seal on the reach again, creasing the Minnesota line, but Ortmann's attempt to cut the backside DE—flowing down the line as Minnesota has a LB on contain—fails and that guy flows down the line to tackle. Well blocked otherwise.
M22 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 4-4x Pass Fly Stonum Inc
A fly route that Stonum looks open by a step or two on, and the ball is right there, but it's either dropped or raked away by the defensive back or something and dropped. On replay: yeah, Stonum starts letting up on the gas as he tracks the ball, which allows a beaten DB to recover and defend on the catch. Still, this is a ball in Stonum's hands and one he could have come up with. Maybe he needs to be stronger. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
M22 3 8 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Pass Post Odoms Inc
Sheridan with a ton of time—max protect—and finds Odoms as he clears the second level in the zone. I think the linebacker Odoms is clearing actually might get a fingertip on this as it passes, as the ball seems to die just as it passes him, causing Odoms to slide to his knees and extend. He fails to bring it in. Again: not exactly a routine catch but a makeable one. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-0, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run ISQD Feagin 4
Since we only have the one Incredibly Surprising play at this moment, Minnesota is all over this, shooting a safety upfield and forcing a cutback. An attempted scoop by Ferrara and Ortmann doesn't go so well as Ortmann can't get down the line fast enough to seal the backside DT; he tackles on the Feagin cutback.
M25 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Wheel McGuffie 39
Sheridan looks left at first at either Odoms or Mathews, finding nothing to his liking. Michigan is using a slide protection, which ends up with Minor attempting to take on a DE, which is not a long term solution, so Sheridan decides to roll out. He chucks it as he breaks the pocket, finding McGuffie wide open on a wheel route for major yards. It's again short, allowing Minnesota to recover, but still a great play. On replay, though, you can see that if this ball is ten yards further downfield it's a touchdown. McGuffie was gone, man. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-4x Pass Bubble screen Clemons 20
An excellent bubble screen, as Minnesota is blitzing the guy nominally lined up over the slot guy and there are again just two defenders downfield for M to deal with; Clemons splits them and does a good job of making more YAC. (CA, 3, screen)
O16 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Clemons 7
LB nominally lined up on Clemons bites on the dive fake, so Clemons is virtually guaranteed yardage with two defenders well back and a blocker on the closer one. Stonum does a decent job on the corner and Michigan nears another first down. (CA, 3, screen)
O9 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 3-4x Run Zone read dive Minor 0
This three man line is pinched in, making it tough for Ortmann and Ferrara to get the scoop on the playside DE; they end up failing to and that DE is sitting right in the hole. With Moosman beaten on the other side Minor has one option, to cut behind Ortmann. An unblocked linebacker is waiting.
O9 3 3 Shotgun empty 2TE Base 4-3 Pass Post Clemons Inc
Sheridan stares this down all the way and draws the defender right to it; defender jumps the route and nearly intercepts. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: FG(28), 9-0, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Bubble screen Odoms 3
This throw is a little too far upfield, which slightly delays Odoms. Rogers(-1) whiffs his block downfield, and a safety comes flying up quickly as we've been running this quite a bit. Odoms is hemmed in by the two defensive backs and corralled after a small gain. (MA, 3, screen)
M26 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run Triple option dive Minor 4
Michigan really should have an advantage here as the Minnesota DT jumped the snap, then got back just as M snapped the ball. He's not ready. But the other DT is slanting right into that hole and Minor ends up taking it right at the backside DE, who is crashing down all the way. Minor does well to power through his tackle for decent yardage.
M30 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 3-4x Run ISQD Feagin 34
It's not like Minnesota isn't expecting this all the way: they've got eight guys in the box and no deep safety, manning up on the receivers outside. But it doesn't matter as the backside DE and DT get cut just enough for Feagin to hit a crease between them and the doubled playside DT. David Molk is getting a great, sustained downfield block on the MLB, and Koger cuts another LB to provide a second-level crease; Feagin bursts into the secondary.
O36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-4x Run ISQD Feagin 1
Same thing again; Michigan trying to catch Minnesota off guard by getting to the line and snapping it as soon as the play is blown ready. A DT shoots upfield; Ferrara manages to escort him up past Feagin but he does force a cutback. There's a crease where the vacated DT came from but Koger and Ortmann are both trying to block the DE and Minor is heading outside as per usual, so there's an unblocked linebacker in the hole where Feagin cuts up.
O35 2 9 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Triple option keeper Sheridan 1
Minnesota all over this, with plenty of guys containing the ball after the fake dive. Sheridan cuts up and gets back to the line of scrimmage.
O34 3 8 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Rollout – hitch Odoms 11
The “noooooo!” rollout throwback featured in the Monday column this week, a dart to Odoms on a hitch route in between four defenders. At this point Sheridan is downgraded to SEVERE ILLNESS. (DO, 3, protection NA)
O23 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Bubble screen Odoms -4 (Pen+15)
I think this is supposed to be our bubble variant where Odoms comes to a stop and shoots into what should be open space after the tight corner has freaked out in an effort to get outside of his blocker. We saw that a couple times against Purdue. On this, eh, not so much, as a safety is charging Odoms at the snap and tackles as the ball arrives. Minnesota needs to be threatened with a deep ball here and there, methinks. (CA, 3, screen) Michigan lucks out, as Minnesota picks up a facemask personal foul.
O11 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor -1
Molk and Ferrara try to scoop the NT and fail; Molk does slow the guy up and Ferrara attempts to cut him; the NT stays on his feet, flows down the line, and meets Minor at the LOS. Good play from him; Ferrara might need to work on his cut technique.
O12 2 11 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Nickel Run ISQD Feagin 4
Scoop on the NT again; this time Moosman gets enough of a cut to delay him. Ferrara stalemates the DE to the playside and ends up pancaking him, though I think he tripped. Feagin hurdles the prone duo and looks about ready to head for the first down when Moundros's LB manages to dive and make a shoestring tackle.
O8 3 7 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Slant Mathews 8
Sheridan takes one or two steps as if he's going to roll right, which gets the robber safety moving that way; Minnesota's CB gives up inside position right away and this slant is an easy pitch and catch for at touchdown. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 16-0, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 0
Okay, I've been a major Molk proponent so far but on this one he(-2) gets smoked by the NT, who proceeds to blow up an otherwise promising play.
M47 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Seam Odoms Inc
Oh, man, this one is behind Odoms just as he broke past the Minnesota linebackers. If accurate, this is a major gainer. Reading Odoms body language after the play, it is plain as day he says something short and jovially expletive-y. "Damn," maybe. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M47 3 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor 3
Give up and go to half.
Drive Notes: Punt, 16-0, EO1H.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-4x Pass Bubble screen Odoms 15
Another variant where the bubble isn't going as wide as you might expect; this time Stonum's guy tries to shoot inside of him and make a spectacular play in the backfield instead of doing his job and cutting off the outside; Stonum gets just enough of him to prevent Odoms from getting lit up; Odoms' quicks get him outside. There he jukes a linebacker and shoots for a first down. Slippery little bastard. (CA, 3, screen)
O49 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Improv Stonum 10
I'm surprised Minnesota didn't fall for this: Michigan fakes the bubble and tries to go deep; it must be covered as Sheridan doesn't chuck it. This is after a bubble flood in the first half and a successful bubble to open the second half. I'm surprised Minnesota's safeties aren't having a campfire around Odoms. Anyway, Sheridan hesitates and then scrambles out of the pocket when his timer goes off, chucking a looping out to a wide open Stonum for a first down. So maybe they did fall for it a bit. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read counter Minor 1
Well, Ferrara(-1) doesn't seal his guy on this and it's a pretty easy block to make with the DT lined up inside of him while the play is supposed to go behind him. Compounding the difficulty: Ortmann(-1) ran right by the Minnesota linebacker. Three Gophers crush minor at the line.
O38 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run ISQD Feagin 0
Odoms comes on a fake reverse, which does cause a couple of guys on the backside to cease their pursuit, but Feagin's heading outside and all that does is remove a blocker from the area. Minor(-1), the lead blocker, whiffs on a safety coming up the LOS and Feagin gets swarmed.
O38 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Hitch Mathews 7
Minnesota protecting the sticks so this is open; immediate tackle from the DB prevents Mathews from reaching the first down. At this spot on the field you're either going or it or setting up a reasonable field goal attempt so I don't mind the short throw that sets up a fourth and short. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: FG(48), 19-0, 12 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Minor 0
Moosman(-1) beat badly by the Minnesota DT, driven back a yard or two and then discarded; the backside DE is crashing down on the run as well and there's a double on the other DT, allowing a linebacker in unblocked. Minor is gang-tackled by three guys, then bounces off it and tries to get outside; he's run down.
M9 2 10 Shotgun trips 4-4x Pass Swing Shaw 5
Eh, a little swing that's open for a few. I think if Shaw cuts back hard here the Minnesota players are overrunning it and he can break for a first down. Instead he just puts his head down and gets what he can. (CA, 3, protection NA)
M14 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Rollout – hitch Mathews 10
Sheridan rolls out and finds Mathews wide open (which would infuriate me if I was a Minnesota fan) on a hitch just past the sticks. Mathews turns it up for a few more after the play. (CA, 3, protection 1/1). Good cut from Minor opens up the outside and gives Sheridan the time to make the throw.
M24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor -1
Minnesota blitzes a WLB right into this and he clocks Minor in the backfield. I'm not sure what Michigan could have done with this playcall against thiers.
M23 2 11 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Penalty False Start Moosman -5
Nein, Moosman, nein.
M18 2 16 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Hitch Mathews 23
Huge play on this drive as Sheridan completes a little five yard hitch, which would prepare M for third and long and a probable punt except that Mathews(+1) spins out of the tackle and lopes downfield for first down yardage. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M41 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Shaw 48
Minnesota lines up in a vulnerable position here with a DT over the backside guard and the NT shaded to the backside of the play, leaving just one DE—who's standing up—on the other side of the line. Scooping the NT is thus pretty easy and Moosman gets a free release into the second level; Molk cuts off one linebacker; Koger and Moosman get to double(!) a linebacker, blasting him back; Shaw zips into the secondary. He ends up cutting back at around the 35 when I think he might be able to just blaze upfield for a touchdown; tough to tell. +1 Odoms for trying to get a block downfield.
O11 1 10 Shotgun 2-TE 3-4x Run ISQD Feagin 3
Man, if Michigan went play action here I have a hard time not seeing one of the TEs wide open in the endzone. Minnesota stuffs nine guys in the box. Michigan actually blocks this very well despite the overloaded box; Koger plows a LB backwards (his blocking is much improved this game) and Schilling gets a downfield block as a double ends up sealing the playside DE. It's Moundros(-1) who doesn't get his guy, allowing him to close down from the outside as Feagin nears the LOS, slowing stuff down.
O8 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run ISQD Feagin 2
Big cutback lane opens up as the playside DT crashes to the playside and Moosman clocks the WLB; Feagin sees it and cuts up... into the arms of the backside DT, who Schilling(-1) couldn't cut effectively.
O6 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Rollout – out Odoms Inc
Rollout; Sheridan chucks it in the general direction of Odoms but the ball is well short. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: FG(23), 22-3, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch McGuffie -1
On this one Molk(-1) loses the playside DT behind him, allowing him through and right into the would-be crease. McGuffie gets buried.
M30 2 11 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch McGuffie 3
Much better from Molk; they get the DT sealed this time and McGuffie has a crease through the line; Schilling's attempt to cut the MLB is avoided, though, and he meets McGuffie a few yards downfield.
M33 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Throwaway -- Inc
Some initial time, then Schilling(-1) gets beaten to the outside, forcing Sheridan to step up. He gets hit on the arm and decides chucking is the better part of valor. (TA, 0, protection 1/2, Schilling -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 22-6, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 I-form twins Base 4-3 Run Pitch sweep Shaw 3
Minnesota blitzes a corner into this; Moundros peels off to take him out. This forces Shaw upfield. Line is getting good push on the Gophers so there's no one in his face immediately but the backside defensive end is closing in; Shaw ends up cutting back behind everyone and taking on an unblocked WLB headfirst; small gain. Shaw looks like he's had “north-south” beaten into his head, FWIW.
50 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Odoms 4
Weak blocking by Savoy on the perimeter. (CA, 3, screen)
O46 3 3 Shotgun diamond 3-3-5 Nickel Run QB draw Sheridan 5
No idea why Minnesota is in a three-man line this late, especially on third and three, but they are. Crease opens up in the middle, as you might expect, and Sheridan uses McAvoy as a shield downfield, picking up the first.
O41 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run Iso McGuffie 14
Moosman's quick step to the right gets the playside DE sealed away; Koger kicks out the OLB. Schilling releases downfield and basically misses the MLB, allowing him to shoot through; Moundros pops him and McGuffie squeezes through a little crease, bouncing off a defender and then popping outside for a good gain.
O27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 3-4 Run Zone read stretch Shaw 5
Camera angle on this is pretty wide so it's hard to tell what's going on; looks like Molk and McAvoy execute a scoop on the NT, creasing the line and getting Shaw through to the linebackers. A charging safety chops him down after a moderate gain; Minnesota is obviously selling out on the run now.
O22 2 5 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Shaw 2
Minnesota turns this upfield; the backside DT has evaded McAvoy's attempted cut and closes Shaw down at the LOS.
O20 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run QB off tackle Sheridan 7
Sheridan actually ends up cutting behind Molk's block this time as Minnesota is selling out on the playside; the backside DT got pushed by Moosman and the sort of cut by Schilling and is delayed enough for Sheridan to skip by and pick up the first.
O13 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 3-4 Run Zone read dive Shaw 3
Minnesota ends up forcing this back to the unblocked defensive end; he tackles.
O10 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run QB off tackle Sheridan 3
The playside DT has been slanting hard to the playside on these the last couple times, forcing Michigan to double him; this has lead to that guy getting blown down field a couple yards and the runner coming up behind it as unblocked linebackers come around to tackle.
O7 3 4 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run Iso Shaw 4
Shaw finds a small crease between about four Gophers, picking up about two, then is fortunate to get tackled in such a way he picks up the extra couple yards for the first down.
O3 1 G I-form twins Goal line Run FB smash Moundros 3
Hooray fullback touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 29-6, EOG. For any RUTS complainers, this drive is nine runs and a bubble screen: STFU.

Five field goal attempts is sort of annoying, but we broke 400 yards!


Last week you said this:

I'd like to see the run game function for two consecutive games before I start raining praise on it.

What say you now?

What's the deal, weird bolded fictional question-asking alter ego? Now you're digging into old posts and bringing their contents back into the light? Et tu?

Are you going to answer or what?

Fine. The run game did indeed function for two consecutive games and, as a live blog commenter noted, I finally got something right in a game preview: Minnesota's defense was ridiculously aggressive and Michigan alternated negative or 0-yard runs with big heaps of yards gained when they cracked through the line and there were no linebackers in the vicinity.

This seems like real progress. Over the last two weeks, Michigan has 76 carries for 430 yards. Though they haven't been taking on the 1970s Steelers, that's 5.7 YPC against a vast array of eight- and sometimes even nine-man fronts with a rag-tag offensive line, a banged up set of running backs, and quarterbacks close to the platonic opposite of Pat White.

Caution is still advisable, as Purdue is the country's #90 rush defense and Minnesota is #65. Northwestern, remarkably, will be a step up. They come in with the #45 rush defense and I'm sure most of you remember the specter of Northwestern DT John Gill slashing into Mike Hart over and over again last year in Evanston. I expect a step back against the Wildcats and for Ohio State to completely crush the run; if Michigan can pump out something similar to the last couple weeks against the Wildcats and look sort of vaguely okay against Ohio State, I will be thrilled with the direction of the run offense going into 2009. If expectations bear (stupid) fruit I'll still be mildly encouraged.



Here's Threet:


Utah 1 11 N/A 5 1 3 2 1
Miami (NTM) - 6 N/A 4 1 - 2 -
Notre Dame 3 12 N/A 5 2 1 - -
Wisconsin 1 15 N/A 9 3 7 2 1
Illinois 3 18 N/A 7 3 4 2 3
Toledo 1 6 N/A 3 1 1 - -
Penn State 2 5 1 1 1 3 - 2
Michigan State 4 13 3 2 7 3 1 3
Purdue 1 7 2 7 2 2 2 1

Digging out Sheridan's old charts seems pointless since there's so little data in them because M never threw and he got pulled, but here's his Minnesota game in comparison:


Minnesota 2 20 4 3 2 1 - -

Before we get too carried away: 11 CAs and one MA were screens, and both BRs were horrible decisions that should have been intercepted. Okay. Now: caveats aside we still have a downfield good/bad ratio of 11-6. That's beyond acceptable; that's downright good.

I don't think Sheridan has a prayer in hell of doing that against someone like Ohio State, and even Northwestern has a sort of respectable defense this year (58 in total yardage, 38 scoring, 49 pass efficiency D… but that is not DEATH.

As for the receivers:

(remember: 0 is uncatchable, 1 is a circus catch, 2 is a somewhat difficult one, and 3 is a routine one)

This Game Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Clemons 1 - - 2/2 4 - 1/3 10/10
Stonum - 0/1 0/1 1/1 4 0/5 5/6 6/8
Mathews - 1/2 - 5/5 9 3/9 4/6 19/20
Hemingway - - - - 1 0/2 2/2 -
Odoms 2 - 0/1 8/9 16 0/2 5/7 37/40
Babb - - - - - 0/1 1/1 1/1
Savoy 1 - - - 1 - - 1/2
Rogers - - - - 2 - - 2/3
Butler - - - - 2 1/1 0/1 2/2
Koger - - 0/1 - 4 0/1 2/3 3/4
McGuffie - - 1/1 - 3 - 3/3 15/15
Brown - - - - - - - 3/3
Shaw - - - 1/1 2 0/1 1/1 4/4
Minor - - - - 3 0/2 1/3 4/4
Moundros - - - 0/1 3 - - 1/2

Receivers could have helped out Sheridan a few times on long balls that were in their hands but could not be reeled in: Odoms and Stonum both missed opportunities. Also note that Mathews is the only guy to have hauled in any "1s" so far this year (other than Butler, who no longer plays offense); he's the guy with the hands.

And I saved the best for last:

PROTECTION METRIC: 19/20, Schilling –1. Okay, you can see how heavily Michigan screwed with its gameplan to make Sheridan functional here: a "20" for the entire game is a record low. But 19/20 is a great ratio against anyone.


Pick an offensive lineman; that was the best performance they've had all year. And, yes, Nick Sheridan, take a bow.


There was a liveblog poll that asked "are you concerned about Darryl Stonum's hands" that was mostly answered in the affirmative (though "Coner!" ran a strong second) and, yeah… I am a little concerned about Stonum's hands.

Also: Angry Michigan Running Back Hating God, could you lighten up? So far this year:

  • Carlos Brown explodes a finger during spring practice
  • Kevin Grady has some sort of injury that holds him out of spring
  • Grady gets a DUI for being so drunk he's dead
  • Brown has nagging injuries in fall
  • Minor has nagging injuries in fall, costing him practice time and the starting job early in the year
  • Michael Shaw can't catch kickoffs
  • Shaw pulls his groin
  • Brown breaks something in his foot
  • McGuffie is concussed
  • Minor wrist issue against Purdue
  • Minor has shoulder and rib issues and is doubtful for Northwestern

Holy hotpants. We get it, AMRBHG. WE GET IT.

What does it mean for 2009?

One thing it doesn't do is prolong Nick Sheridan's shelf life as a viable starter. Though his work in this game was shocking, efficient, and inspiring to any 5'10" kid in Model United Nations who wants to play Division I football, Sheridan's vast deficiency in arm strength was on display even as he completed three different deep passes. He's just too limited physically to be a long-term option.

As to things it does do: that was an excellent performance by the offensive line. If you've followed this blog over the past few months you know it's been a consistent proponent of undersized but nimble center David Molk, the one real OL prospect Michigan picked up after they decided to switch their blocking schemes to zone. Early in the year he was getting his butt kicked by various large mean men who would pick him up and escort him bodily into the ball carrier but you could see his agility serve him well whenever he wasn't going up against Samoans or Wisconsin's beef machine. He is just a redshirt freshman and should continue gaining strength under Barwis; he should also maintain his agility. I think you're looking at a four-year starter in the making, and a good one. Now if he can just switch up the snap counts more consistently…

As for the rest of the line: I still have reservations about the tackles in pass protection despite their showing Saturday, and it's clear Tim McAvoy is someone the coaching staff would like to replace (he did play at least some portion of the second half last week, FWIW). I think in an ideal world some magic redshirt freshman will emerge at tackle and Steve Schilling will take up residence at guard, giving you something like this: Ortmann/Dorrestein-Schilling-Molk-Moosman-Magic Freshman. I also think we're likely to go into next year without that magic freshman; if we do get one it's likely to be Ricky Barnum stepping in at left guard.

Minor is obviously the starter at RB as long as he can stay healthy; Mathews, Stonum, and Odoms are obviously the starters at receiver as long as they're healthy.



November 13th, 2008 at 2:40 PM ^

Not sure if Stonum holds onto job over Hemmingway if he doesn't start blocking and catching better. Hemmingway seemed to be getting plenty of positive news before going Mono...


November 13th, 2008 at 7:15 PM ^

The word I have on O'Neill is that he has the perfect body type to be an NFL left tackle (6'8", enormously long arms, all that) but required a lot of strength and technique work before he saw the field. I don't think he'll beat out Ortmann or Dorrestein next year; 2010 maybe.


November 13th, 2008 at 10:59 PM ^

I'm interested to see what Sheridan can do against NW. I'm also interested to see if Threet/Sheridan is going to stand a chance against Forcier or Beaver next year. That'll be an interesting battle to watch.

Also - it's pretty cool that my question about Stonum's hands turned into a poll AND got a reference on the blog. It's the small things, folks.


November 14th, 2008 at 12:08 PM ^

That incredibly obvious run from the quarterback position by Feagin or Minor will be a pass for a touchdown against OSU (or a pick).
And man, isn't McGuffie the perfect back for RR. I mean I love him running routes for deep passes a few times a game. He has good hands and can shift to the slot on any play. Love it.