Upon Further Review: Offense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian October 3rd, 2007 at 8:18 PM

sorry about the video; had to do it myself this week and it's taken directly from a 480x480 source, so the aspect ratio is a little wonky. if you're viewing in a good player you can change it to 4:3.

Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
M35 1 10 I-Form Run 0 Hart Zone left
Kickoff OOB. Holy crap, Kraus(-2) just gets his ass kicked by John Gill. He's driven yards into the backfield, directly into Hart's path, and Gill makes the TFL. Awful. Eight in the box. Maybe Gill sort of knew we were going to run zone left because that's what we always do?
M35 2 10 I-Form Twins Pass Inc Manningham Slip Screen
"Zac Cuillo" is not our left guard. NW giving our wideouts 12-yard cushions, so we go with the slip screen. Logical enough. Henne throws it in front of Manningham and a bit too hard. It's dropped. (IN, 2)
M35 3 10 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 15 Arrington Deep out
The 15-yard out that you need a gun for, unless you're playing Northwestern. This is looped out a bit, but to a wide open Arrington. He makes a tough-ish diving catch. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
50 1 10 Ace Twins Run -1 Hart Zone right
Eight in the box with man on the outside and a single deep safety. Let's run. Ok! Zone block from Schilling and MacAvoy does not go well; MacAvoy(-1) blown back a bit and Schilling(-1) late getting out on the linebacker, so he's right in the hole. Hart bounces it outside, where Massey's guy is set up; he tackles for loss.
M49 2 11 Ace Pass 14 Manningham Stop
Manningham comes in motion and runs like a five yard stop. There is no Wildcat within five yards of him as he catches the ball and he heads upfield for the first down. Could not be easier. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O37 1 10 Ace Pass 8 Manningham Stop
Same exact play flipped to the other side of the field. I love it when opposing linebackers step forward at the snap without so much as a play action fake. Anyway, Manningham hit on the stop again. Coverage is a little tighter this time but not much. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O29 2 2 Ace 3 Run -1 Hart Zone right
Seven in the box as a strongside corner is clearly coming on a run blitz. Michigan runs away from it. I'm not sure what the play design is here but I think Gill crashes into Boren, preventing him from doubling the other DT. So no zone block and thus an unblocked linebacker. Hart stuffed for nothing.
O30 3 3 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass Inc Manningham Slant
Pretty open, this play. Henne throws it a little too far downfield and Manningham sort of short arms it. (CA-, 2, protection 2/2). Only six in the box this time.
O30 4 3 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 1 (15) Manningham Cross
Press man from NW. MacAvoy(-1) beaten, forcing Henne to get rid of the ball before he might like to. He hits Manningham on one of those hideous little crossing routes that's a yard past the LOS; he's tackled immediately. (CA, 3, protection 1/2) Fortunate penalty bails us out.
O15 1 10 Ace 3-wide Run 4 Hart Zone left
Safety runs up to the line to give an eight-man look late. He ends up shooting into the frontside gap; Hart cuts back. There is actually some room here but Schilling(-1) has merely escorted his man down the line; he tackles.
O11 2 6 I-Form Pass 11 Manningham Long handoff
Fake to Arrington and then come back to the other side for the long handoff. Deante Battle just screws this up, allowing Manningham to waltz in unimpeded. (CA, 3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 9 min 1st Q. Goodbye, passes.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
M42 1 10 Ace Twins Run 1 Hart Zone left
NW shows zone; a simple combo route on between Arrington and Manningham where Arrington runs a five-yard out and Manningham just runs a fly would be guaranteed to get one open. Instead: run into quasi-eight guys. The safeties attack at the snap; Boren(-1) gets driven into the backfield; Long(-1) gets pushed back a yard; Butler(-1) can't block his man either.
M43 2 9 Ace Twins Run 3 Hart Zone right
Zone again; safety comes up into the box. A play very similar to those against Penn State where the DT goes behind Boren in an attempt to get penetration. This time Hahn dives at Hart's feet but can't reach him. MacAvoy(-1) loses his guy on the second level and he holds this down to a minimal gain despite the vacant area that could be a big gainer.
M46 3 6 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass Inc Arrington Seam
Three wideouts bunched tight to one side. Northwestern sends six guys, then drops one man right into the crossing route we always run. Mallett scrambles up into the pocket, finds an open Arrington, and fires it well behind him. A tough IN to hand out, but... (IN, 1, protection 2/3, team -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 7 min 1st Q. What is going on? Our OL is getting its ass kicked by Northwestern. Is this an S&C problem or just the fact that we're predictable as hell? Meanwhile, this drive is what people are talking about when they accuse the offensive staff of putting Mallett in a position to fail. On first down Mallett had the easiest read in the world as Michigan could have put two guys in a space one Wildcat was trying to cover because they were overcommitting to the run; they run anyway. Then they end up in third and medium and Northwestern sends a blitz that puts Mallett in a tough spot. The best way to protect a young QB is to give him easy throws; Michigan eschews this for predictable ones.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
M23 1 10 Ace Twins Run 4 Hart Zone right
Hart misreads; the outside is wide open as the OLB seals himself against Butler. He takes it up inside into a decent hole but since Hart has misread the zone block – Schilling leapt out on the LB and is on the outside of him – that guy can disconnect and tackle. One thing: NW is showing zone here and the safety nominally covering Arrington is actually running forward at the snap to cut off the outside. This might not be as open as it looks if Arrington can get a seal... and God, are you kidding me? Arrington runs a post and this is a 76 yard touchdown. Arrgh.
M27 2 6 Ace 3-wide Pass Inc Manningham Stop
Unbelievable! It's second and six, a potential running down, against a team that is selling out against us. We spread the field a
nd offset Hart, a formation we have never ever run from. It's like we're playing with a handicap. (-ed offensive coordinator.) We run four short routes; Hart(-1) doesn't cut his guy and he leaps to bat it down. (BA, 0, protection 0/1)
M27 3 6 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass -7 -- Sack
We have a new habit I haven't mentioned: we line up in a four wide and then always motion in Massey to a more conventional TE spot. Kraus(-2) lets Gill right by him and Mallett is sacked. Awful. (PR, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 2 min 1st Q. WTF is wrong with Kraus?
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
M20 1 10 Ace Twins Run 11 Hart Zone right
NW in a 3-front with four LBs, and a couple DBs creeping towards the LOS. Not quite a nine man front, but not far from one. Again a zone combo route on the near side of the field has to leave one guy open. We run it anyway. This time it works. Three man lines... not so good this game. The DE runs out to the frontside in an attempt to keep contain and is isolated. Boren(+1) gets across the DT and Kraus helps drive him downfield. MacAvoy(+1) gets his second level block and Hart has space. Bet a dollar we don't see a three man line on a run down from NW the rest of the day.
M31 1 10 I-Form Run -10 (pen) Hart Zone left
NW undershifted with a linebacker over the TE; we shuffle and run to from it. Kraus(+1) gets a goot cut on the backside DT. MacAvoy has trouble with his guy but Moundros(+1) blasts him back, allowing Hart a seam between that an Schilling's(+1) block on the DE. Boren's downfield block on the LB and Manningham's job on the WR give Hart a lot of room. Aaaand holding. On MacAvoy(-1) and it's relevant to the play. Sigh.
M21 1 20 Ace 3-wide Pass 4 Hart Screen
A screen on first and twenty, with one blocker, Kraus. Northwestern swarms it. (CA, 3) The announcers think "population" is a tough word to know.
M25 2 16 I-Form 3-wide Pass Inc Massey TE stop
Massey spread out as a reciever; he's open for 10-12; Mallett overthrows him. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M25 3 16 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 11 Arrington Cross
A zone blitz that sees a NW DE drop 10 yards downfield, right into the path of an Arrington crossing route. Which is where Mallett goes. Sigh. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-13, 12 min 2nd Q.
M20 1 10 I-Form Run 4 Hart Zone left
Seven in the box but both safeties charge forward at the snap as the corners bail out into deep please-don't-bomb-me coverage. Moundros goes for a block on the backside DT, who wasn't cut that effectively by MacAvoy. Boren goes out to the second level but because of the charging safety has two players to deal with; they set up on either side of them and Hart slams it up the middle for a few yards.
M24 2 6 I-Form Run 2 Hart Zone left
3-4 look from NW. MacAvoy(-1) escorts his man to the hole; Hart has to leap into a mess of bodies.
M26 3 4 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass Inc Arrington Circle
It's really depressing to watch NW get up in our grill on third and short-ish when we played really soft on a third down just before. Anyway, Arrington runs a circle route right into coverage when our traditional cross was going to be wide open. I think these are option routes and this is on Arrington. The ball was catchable if Arrington wasn't double-teamed but also not going for a first down. I love routes short of the sticks! You think maybe NW can get away with this because they know Michigan will run three yard routes on third and four and not attempt to pick up a big chunk of yards? (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-13, 8 min 2nd Q. Oops let's punt.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
M22 1 10 Ace Twins Run 5 Hart Zone left
Also depressing: this is against six-ish guys in the box, but Boren(-1) gets plowed into the backfield and MacAvoy(-1) can't seal the DE, leaving Hart to cut back into unblocked guys. He makes two of them miss, turning this from two to five.
M27 2 5 I-Form 3-wide Pass 10 Arrington Out
FB shuffle; we throw. Arrington drives off the DB and gets his hips turned, then runs a simple out. Wide open for a chunk. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M37 1 10 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 31 Manningham Bomb
Northwestern blitzes; picked up. Mallett pumps and lets one fly downfield to Manningham at the sidelines. He manages to get a foot in, then re-clutches the ball. Very close. (DO, 1, protection 3/3)
O32 1 10 Ace Twins Pass 7 Manningham Slip Screen
Breaston's old play, as Michigan finally takes advantage of having a linebacker lined up over Manningham. Arrington's block on the corner is kind of crappy, but it still picks up seven. (CA, 3) Mallett fumbles the snap, by the way.
O25 2 3 Ace Twins Run -2 Hart Zone left
Yet another instance of defensive tackles shooting into the backfield against our guards. This time both Kraus(-2) and MacAvoy(-2) get shoved way into the backfield. Hart has absolutely no chance.
O27 3 5 I-Form 3-wide Pass 11 Arrington Deep out
Another zone blitz. Moundros has trouble picking up a blitzer so Hart has to help out. This leaves no one to help when Schilling(-1) loses his guy on a spin move. Mallett rolls out, stiffarms away a sack, and finds Arrington for the first down. (DO, 3, protection 2/3)
O16 1 10 Ace Pass Inc Arrington Long handoff
Thrown at his feet. (IN, 0)
O16 2 10 Ace 3-wide Pass Inc Butler In
Butler gets open for a seven-eight yard gain plus perhaps some YAC; Mallett throws behind and hard. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
O16 3 10 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 7 -- Scramble
Another zone blitz. Hart cuts his guy, who goes flying over him and threatens to get up. This convinces
Mallett to scramble out. This time he runs despite having Arrington open running across the back of the endzone, picking up a few. (TA, protection 2/3, Hart -1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(29), 7-13, 2 min 2nd Q. Is it any coincidence that Mallett's most successful drive – and the only one on that lasted more than four plays – features a bunch of throws on non-obvious passing downs?
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
M22 1 10 Ace Twins Pass 14 Manningham Out
Henne's back. The simple out that the coverage has been begging for all day. It's wide open.(CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M36 1 10 I-Form 3-wide Pass 13 Manningham Stop
Basically the same thing, but a shorter route with the terrified three-deep of NW literally 12 yards away as Manningham hauls it in. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M49 1 10 Ace 3-wide Pass Inc Manningham Bomb
Should not have been thrown, as the DB is still in his panicked cover-three and has great position on Manningham. This could be intercepted; Manningham and the DB fight for the ball; it finally pops free for the incomplete. (BR, 1, protection 3/3) Nice blitz pickup from Long. Actually, on replay I think Manningham caught this. Why no review?
M49 2 10 Shotgun 3-Wide Run 9 Hart Lead draw
NW with six in the box and safeties respecting the deep pass. We have Massey in the kinda-TE-kinda-FB spot we deploy occasionally; he's used as a lead blocker. He screws it up(-1), getting shoved back and away by the only guy who can prevent this from being a 15-yard gain. Hart's shirt is grabbed, he powers through the tackle attempt and nears the first down.
O42 3 1 I-Form Penalty -5 Long False start
Long(-1). Swearing.
O47 3 6 Ace 3-wide Pass 9 Mathews Cross
Tampa-two from NW (== MLB flying back at the snap to occupy a deep middle zone); Mathews drags across the zone and Henne lays it in a small window caused by Arrington's route. Perfect timing required. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
O38 1 10 Ace 3-wide Run 0 Hart WTF?
Not a zone L/R but nothing I can identify either. Long sets up to pass block. Both DTs slant past their guys (Boren -1, MacAvoy -1), and an unblocked corner blitz means there are three guys in the backfield. Anyone who can advise me as to what the goal of this play is? (BTW, Hart miraculously turns this into a yard gain.)
O38 2 10 Ace 3-wide Pass Inc Manningham Stop
Butler lines up at FB, then motions out to TE. The reasons behind this shift are mystifying. NW runs a linebacker out to the little flat route Manningham caught earlier on the drive; Henne does not pick this up and throws it to a covered Manningham. LB breaks it up. Should have come down to Mathews on a crossing route for 6-8-ish. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)
O38 3 10 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass Inc Mathews Cross
Yet another zone blitz. Henne throws it behind an open Mathews on a cross that may or may not have picked up the first down (note for potential complainers about routes short of the first down: at this spot on the field I don't mind this on the assumption that picking up 7-8 sets you up to go for it on fourth down.) I can't really tell but I think Henne's arm is hit as he throws, causing the inaccurate throw. (BA, 1, protection 1/2, Long -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-16, 12 min 3rd Q. Zoltan drops it at the eight, where it's fair caught. He has really been excellent this year.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
M23 1 10 I-Form Run 2 Hart Zone left
Boren(-2) owned by Gill again. WTF is going on? Hart shakes a couple tacklers and tries the other side of the field; no gain. I don't understand how NW is getting PSU-level penetration against us.
M25 2 8 I-Form 3-wide Pass 11 Manningham Out
FB shuffle; we throw. NW runs a linebacker into that same flat zone designed to eliminate the little stop route; Michigan runs an out behind it and Henne floats it in over the LB's head. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)
M36 1 10 Empty Pass 6 Manningham Slip Screen
Arrington, Manningham, and Mathews all to one side of the field; we toss a little screen out there. NW is not surprised by this and gets a safety up immediately but he comes up too hard and Manningham runs around him, cutting inside Butler for a decent gain. (CA, 3) NW had a linebacker out covering Mathews... they were expecting something like this. Mathews still blocked him out of the play, but you know predictability and all that.
M42 2 4 Ace 3-wide Run 18 Hart Zone right
Gill again in the backfield, this time working on Kraus(-1). With Henne in NW is backing off and only has six in the box here. So when Hart sidesteps around the DT everyone near the LOS is dealing with a blocker. Massey picked up the DE after Long had him initially; Long out on the second level with Boren. Hart is into the secondary.
O40 1 10 Ace 3-wide Pass 23 Arrington Post
NW zone-blitzing, dropping a DE off into a flat zone over Arrington. Michigan picks it up and Henne has options everywhere. He takes Arrington, as his corner is in a cover three and has turned his hips; Arrington ducks inside on a post and Henne hits him with perfect timing. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)
O17 1 10 Ace 3-wide Run 1 Hart Zone right
Again a DT into the backfield, this time on MacVoy(-2). Hart is forced to cut behind him into unblocked players when the outside was going to be open for a nice gain.
O16 2 9 Ace 3-wide Run 3 Manningham End-around
This is not a good time to try this as NW is in the three man line that got them burned in the first half. The backside linebacker just drops off into a short zone and is in perfect position when Manningham comes around. The DE had lost contain, so this would have been a good gainer otherwise.
O13 3 6 Ace 3-wide Pass 7 Mathews Cross
Butler shift from FB to TE. Mathews comes on the crossing route and has just enough room to burrow for the first. (CA, 3 protection 2/2)
O6 1 G I-Form Run 1 Hart Zone left
No penetration, but no holes either. I can't make much sense of this.
O5 2 G Ace 3-wide Pass 5 Butler TE Out
Manningham drawing attention on a flag route; a guy in NW's picket fence zone hops back a second in case it's a post. Henne takes the opportunity to toss it to Butler, who makes it in. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-16, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
M6 1 10 Ace Twins Pass 3 Manningham Slip Screen
NW expecting this; a LB and safety get out on it immediately. (CA, 3) Martin calls it a bubble screen? Terminology check?
M9 2 7 Ace Pass 17 Manningham Out
Simple throw to a wide open guy against NW's three-deep. Henne throws it quick enough to give Manningham an opportunity to turn it upfield. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
M26 1 10 Ace Pass 4 Arrington Long handoff
NW stacks the box; this throw is a little behind Arrington and slows him down a bit. Two NW guys converge. (CA-, 3)
M30 2 6 Ace 3-wide Penalty -5 Schilling False start
M25 2 11 Ace 4-wide Pass 4 Manningham Cross
Hart offset. NW drops a DT off right into Manningham's crossing route, who bumps him and disrupts the timing of the play. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M29 3 7 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 7 Mathews Out
Definitely open for the first; Henne makes this tough for Mathews by throwing it a little outside. He manages to stretch the ball out and get it, barely. (CA-, 2, protection 2/2)
M36 1 10 I-Form Pass Inc Arrington Out
Moundros(-2) is plowed over by a Northwestern blitzer, who falls at Henne's feet and causes this ball to sail. Arrington hit before the ball gets there, but no call... they haven't seen Adrian leap, I guess. (very harsh IN, 0, protection 1/3, Moundros -2)
M36 2 10 I-Form Run 2 Hart Draw
3-4 look for NW. Safety walks up for an extra guy. Hart decides not to follow the fullback, cutting it back into Gill, who's stalemated and controlled Kraus(-1).
M38 3 8 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass Inc Mathews Cross
Henne has plenty of time; we max protect. Arrington is covered; Manningham bracketed. The only guy left is Mathews on a crossing route that's pretty well covered. Henne throws it wide. (IN, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-16, 13 min 4th Q. Mesko uses MIND BULLETS to make Ward fumble is 50+ yard punt.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
O16 1 10 I-Form Run 0 Hart Zone left
Boren(-2) owned again. Hart has to deal with a guy in the backfield immediately. Long and Butler give him no options on the frontside.
O16 2 10 I-Form Big Pass Inc Hart Throwaway
Second and ten and we have one wideout in the game. Uh... okay. Henne can't find anyone and steps up past the pressure. As he does this, Gill sticks out his leg and trips him. Isn't that a penalty? Henne flips it in the general direction of Hart but just to prevent a loss. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
O16 3 10 Ace 3-wide Pass 16 Arrington Post
A dart between two defenders reminiscent of the Penn State stuff from last year. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-16, 9 min 4th Q. We take timeout... then kick an extra point. Woo.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
O21 1 10 I-Form Run 2 Hart Zone left
Run blitz from the NW linebacker gets him in between the backside guard and tackle before anyone can react. He grabs Hart in the backfield and is dragged for a couple yards.
O19 2 8 Ace Twins Pass -2 -- Waggle
Or at least it was going to be. Henne fumbles the snap.
O21 3 10 I-Form 3-wide Pass Inc Arrington Flag
Sailed; Arrington wide open for the TD otherwise. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
O26 1 10 Ace Run 2 Hart Zone left
Hart heads outside but the safety is coming up Hart and makes it to the corner just as Hart reaches it.
O24 2 8 Ace Run 23 Hart Zone right
Nowhere to go at all; Hart decides to cut back behind the charging end. Ok. Now there's a corner coming at him; he induces him to overpursue and slip to the turf. Then he's into the secondary and down to the one.
O1 1 G Goal line Goal line 1 Hart Zone left
Key block is MacAvoy(+1) cutting the backside DE, allowing Hart space when he cuts behind a meh Kraus effort. Good job by Boren, too.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-16, 4 min 4th Q. Ballgame.
Ln Dn Ds Form Type Yards Player Brief
O45 1 10 I-Form Run 3 Hart Zone left
This is a situation in which it makes sense to pound the ball and try to pick up a first down along the way, so I'm ok with it. The difference between a one score lead here and a two score lead is large.
O42 2 7 I-Form Run 1 Hart Zone left
Lather, rinse, repeat.
O41 3 6 Ace 3-wide Pass 15 Mathews Cross
Looks like Mathews will be stopped short here; he pulls a Breaston-vs-Oregon, except in slo-mo, and picks up the first. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O26 1 10 Ace Run 7 Hart Zone left
Manages to slip through a crack past two NW defenders and squeezes into the second level despite it being stacked up.
O19 2 3 Ace Run 1 Hart Zone left
Yeah... that stacked up thing.
O18 3 2 Ace Run -2 Hart Zone left
See above.
O20 4 4 Ace Run 4 Hart Zone left
Drive Notes: EOG, 28-16.

Can you express my seething rage via the medium of embeddable flash video?


Can you express my seething rage in a numerical fashion?


  • Average yards on first down passes: 8.7.
  • Average yards on first down runs: 1.6.
  • Number of first down passes: 14.
  • Number of first down runs: 16.

(Note that a holding penalty against Tim MacAvoy was counted against the runs; remove that and the average skyrockets to 2.4. The last drive was not included in these numbers; they are not distorted by time considerations.) For the record, Mallett's average yards on first down: 10.5.

So is Mike Debord retarded or what?

Basically. Mallett's one successful drive was the one in which they gave him multiple shots at testing the Northwestern secondary. The thing about Mallett's performance so far is that, while it's not good, he will blow a down doing general freshman things and then do something badass. If you run it for four yards the first two downs, his freshman down means punt. If you give him some margin for error against possibly the worst secondary on the planet, he moves the team. Not as effectively or efficiently as Henne, but better than one first down in four drives.

But the most frustrating thing is that Debord has shown the ability to be at least average and maybe even good at his job. Against Penn State last year we opened up with something like 17 of 21 passes. Against OSU our first drive was a beautifully executed touchdown march; we broke out a couple of successful Arrington wheel routes; we scored 39 points. There is a clear indication that when Debord/Carr/Michigan respects and fears an opponent we get the full toolkit. When we don't we get the first half against Northwestern. And usually this leads to a win. But the arrogance behind the strategy was a major reason for The Horror ending up a loss instead of an uncomfortably close game we win 45-34. And as they say, we must Never Forget. Whenever you see someone wearing an Appalachian State shirt, think back to our two-deep zone against a team we didn't even bother to scout. Think back to Hart riding a bike through most of the second and third quarters. All vestiges of the mentality that permitted The Horror must be seen for what they are and purged.

This game could easily have become The Horror II; no forgiveness is offered to the coaching staff that learned nothing from the most humiliating loss in NCAA history.

Why are we so predictable?

This is not noted above, but the return of Laterryal Savoy has also brought with it the return of the Jermaine Gonzalez/Carl Tabb Memorial Wide Nonreceiver Package. Several times in the game Michigan lifted the actual receivers for Savoy and Hemingway. Every time this was a run. There is, of course, the run left on every starting play of every game. There is the mindboggling decision to offset Mike Hart on second and six on Mallett's second drive. We're running except when we have no other option, it's a potential run down, and we come out and tell them we're passing. We spit on you, deception.

A quick review of the plays above should reveal one startling thing: the letters "PA" appear nowhere. Michigan ran play action zero times. (They attempted to run a waggle once; Henne fumbled the snap.) Hell, we ran exactly one misdirection play, an end-around to Manningham, the entire game. Whenever our offensive line starts moving to one side or the other, defenders can sell out to stop a zone play and be right 95% of the time.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Some of it is truly the coaches being arrogant/stupid/whatever, like the WR package thing. There is no possible justification for it. Other things appear to be systemic flaws in the zone running game we've adopted. For whatever reason, the only play action we can run off of it is the waggle, which exposes the quarterback to a charging defensive end and is ill-suited for deep balls, at least as it is currently conceived. And our counter options are limited, I guess, though we do have a couple that just aren't being deployed. But the primary motivation goes back to Bo. This is the mentality of the program:

"Now I have to admit – since I'm being as honest as I can be here – there was a time when I doubted if fundamentals were still enough to produce top-notch football teams. I even wondered if the game had passed me by.

This crisis of confidence occurred after our infamous 1984 season, when we finished 6-6. In the off-season I went to one of these national coaching conferences with a few hundred other coaches, and they had some hotshot young high school coach from California explain his new whiz-bang system of defense.

He had zones two deep, three deep, man-to-man, and combinations of the two. That really caught my eye. I'm thinking, Maybe you've got to do all those things to win these days. Maybe our approach at Michigan is just too simple too succeed in the modern eara. Boy, that was an awful feeling.

But after this guys finishes his slide show, someone in the audience raises his hand asks, "If your defensive schemes are so great, then why did your team give up 400 yards a game last season?"

Well I wanted to hear this! The hotshot replied – and I will never forgot this – "We were just a poor tackling team."

Well, hell! That tells you all you need to know! Throw out 50 percent of that fancy stuff and spend fifeeen more minutes every day practicing the most basic thing in football: TACKLING, that's all...I walked out of that auditorium and I knew what were going to do: Get back to basics! Get back to Michigan football! And I was determined we were going to do it better than anyone else...

Want the whole thing in a nutshell? Just talk to Bubba Paris. It's midseason, 1981, we're ranked sixth in the nation and we're playing an unranked Michigan State squad. We're ahead maybe 14-0, and we drive down the field again, bang, bang, bang – until we're looking at first-and-goal on their three-yard line.

We get in the huddle and call our play – but Smiley Creswell, State's defensive tackle, thinks he's got our signals figured out, so he starts yelling to his teammates "Off-tackle right! Off-tackle right!"

Now, on this 1981 team we have a front line of Ed Muransky, Kurt Becker, George Lilja, and Bubba Paris – every one of them an All-American. This is not a line you want to be messing with. Bubba hears all this commotion coming from the Spartans, but he just saunters up to the line as only Bubba could do – he was 6-5, 310 – and calmly gets down in his stance. Then he looks across the line at Smiley Creswell and says, "That's right. It's an off-tackle play. It's coming right over you. And there's nothing you can do about it."

Three seconds later Bubba flattens Creswell. Our tailback just walks through the hole Bubba made, and he's in the Spartan end zone, untouched
, handing the ball to the referee, Michigan-style. Touchdown!

We didn't fool 'em. We just beat em!

Now that is execution! That is confidence! THAT IS MICHIGAN FOOTBALL."

That's from Bo's Lasting Lessons, and it definitely worked in 1969 and 1979 and 1985. Obviously, it no longer does in an era of 85 scholarships and transfers and the increased profile and desire to win across the country. No longer can Michigan expect to out-work and out-execute its foes without getting any help from the men calling the plays.


Charts. Hennemallettchart:

Endless Fiasco 2 22 8 2 1 0 2
Oregon - Henne 1 13 6 3 1 0 3
Oregon - Mallett 3 7 2 3 1 1 2
ND - Mallett 2 7 4 1 0 2 0
PSU - Mallett 3 12 6 3 6 1 2
NW - Mallett 2 5 4 1 1 1 1
NW - Henne 1 19 4 1 1 1 0

(Legend for this one.)

Henne outperformed the freshman, as you might expect. But the thing is to look at the negative categories forced by the opponent: just seven instances against 35 plays that the NW defense did not seriously impact. Compare that to Penn State: 12 instances against 21 other plays. Clearly, the NW pass defense is way behind just about everyone on the schedule, and there's no reason the coaching staff wouldn't see that coming -- see the Duke QB's numbers -- and no reason not to start off exploiting the big flashing weakness, especially when NW was loading up against the run.


This Game Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Manningham 1 1/3 1/3 12/12 8 1/12 6/9 27/28
Arrington 2 0/3 2/2 4/4 5 0/5 7/9 18/19
Mathews - - 1/2 3/3 2 0/3 2/3 11/13
Hemingway - - - - 1 - - -
Massey 1 - - - 2 0/3 1/1 3/3
Butler - 0/1 - 1/1 1 0/2 - 5/5
Hart 1 - - 1/1 4 - - 1/1
Minor - - - - - - 0/1 2/2
Moundros - - - - - - 1/1 -

(brief legend:

  • 0 == totally uncatchable.
  • 1 == very difficult catch requiring circus-like propeties.
  • 2 == tough but makable
  • 3 == routine.


Another fine day for the receivers. I am thinking about softening my expectations here, since it doesn't make much sense to have one category that's "impossible to catch" and another that is being caught at a 4% rate.

Aaand Genuinely Sarcastic has your Hart Chart. Not nearly as negative as I thought it would be, though it grades out at a +3 overall, down from +14 against Penn State. It does reflect my opinions of Boren (second straight tough game) and Massey (can't block).


Henne. QB controversy that did not exist in the first place is over. And Manningham had an excellent day that should have put those "he's a sulky baby" rumors to rest, except now he's suspended for EMU. w00t.


Boren has an excuse as a first year starter. MacAvoy has an excuse as the third-string right guard. But how can Adam Kraus justify getting his ass kicked all day by Northwestern defensive tackles? The interior OL was awful all day against a NW defense that has been sliced like ginsu. Our penetration problems can no longer be chalked up to Penn State being this run-stopping machine. (By the way, Illinois had 216 yards rushing against Penn State despite having the infinite suck of Juice Williams as their quarterback.)

Oh, and whoever thought spending the entire first half running into the line against the nation's 114th-ranked pass efficiency defense was a good idea. Hmmmmm.

What does it mean for Eastern or, more likely, Purdue?

Purdue's defense might be totally horrendous, but it m
ight just be prone to packing it in with seemingly safe leads in the second half. Purdue led Minnesota 24-3 at the half and 38-17 after three quarters and ceded two meaningless fourth quarter touchdowns; the Boilers were up 23-0 on ND before letting the Irish back into the game, or at least as "back into the game" a team as bad as Notre Dame can be. The preseason prognostication on this team was much better against the pass, crappy linebackers, and wildcard defensive line... initial returns should be downgraded a bit. We'll see what happens against Ohio State. Henne's back and the full playbook should be available.