Upon Further Review: Offense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 17th, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Personnel notes: this was the most boring opponent D personnel ever. ND spent the entire game aside from a few goal line plays in a 4-2-5 nickel with Sergio Brown acting as a sort of S/LB hybrid over the slot receivers. Michigan's base set is 1 TE, 1 RB, and 3 WR, pending the return to full health of Brandon Minor.

If you just want to skip to the heroin, here's an HD version of the final drive from Askarpo.

Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Hitch Koger 11
Dead simple pitch and catch for about five that Koger(+1) turns into 11 by running over McCarthy. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read handoff Brown -2
This play is one of the reasons why Michigan won't have any bubble screens for the game: ND is pressing and devoting a guy to play right over the slot receiver, and then getting aggressive with the safeties, hardly ever going to a cover-two. And this is much the same thing that Western was doing: ND shoots the backside DE down the line on the stretch and brings up a safety to contain the zone read. With the backside guy taking away the cutback, ND slants hard to the frontside and Te'o gets very aggressive, getting into Koger and making a TFL. Molk(+1) got a great seal, but Schilling(-1) ignored the second level in favor of ineffectually helping Ortmann, allowing Te'o to slash up.
M29 2 12 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Hitch Koger 4
Very similar to the first play but covered better—timing wasn't as good, too—and Koger is tackled immediately. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M33 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Sack -- -2
ND comes off the corner and manages to get a guy in unblocked as Ortmann has two guys coming. Forcier(+1) slips outside the pocket, avoiding a sack, but finds no one open and takes a small loss. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, team)
Drive Notes: Punt, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read keeper Forcier 8
Actually would have worked just fine as a handoff as Minor cut the ball up in front of the crashing DE and either would have trucked Te'o entirely or fallen forward for seven. Forcier keeps it on the edge and WOOPs Brian Smith. This is also the first instance of a tackling pattern we'll see a couple times: Notre Dame safeties come up and lead with their head, looking for a cheap, illegal killshot on Forcier. None of these connected, thankfully.
M29 2 2 Shotgun diamond 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Diamond screen Grady -2 (Pen -10)
Terry Malone used to love this. Here Koger(-2) just gets smoked by Sergio Brown, who blows up Grady in the backfield. Koger also gets a block in the back penalty. (CA, 3, screen)
M19 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Fly Stonum Inc
Stonum is running a fly down the sideline with a guy sort of in tow and plenty of room to the sideline and Forcier gets it to him. Stonum turns inside and ends up doing a 360 on a ball that was perfectly placed to the outside. He turns a very catchable ball into a circus attempt. It was open. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
M19 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Fly Mathews 40
Hey let's do it again on the other side of the field. Walls is running step for step with Mathews, but Mathews(+3!) skies over him and pulls in a one-handed circus grab. He's got hands. (CA, 1, protection 2/2). Good protection on both these bombs.
O41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 11 (Pen -10)
Designed to go up the middle with Koger peeling backside to pick off the crashing defensive end. This is a counter-punch to the scrape and it works, as Te'o gets pulled outside and Schilling gets a free release into Smith as Molk(+1) seals Williams long enough. Ortmann gets flagged for holding on the playside DT, unfortunately. Guy got playside of Ortmann(-1) and ended up wrestled to the ground; a must-call.
M49 1 20 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Jailbreak screen Brown 4
Um... we get a blimp shot of this play. This is the “bubble screen” formation OSU has derided by Smart Football... we run a screen out of it. It's actually open if Brown decisively and immediately cuts upfield behind an attacking linebacker and into open space. He doesn't and ends up slowing up on the linebacker/Ortmann pairing, picking up only a few yards. (CA, 3, screen)
O47 2 16 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Hitch Stonum 8
Simple pitch and catch ND is giving up because of the down and distance. Stonum does a good job to fight for a few extra yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O39 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Wheel Brown 13
Awesome playcall that catches ND in a blitz and has Brown wide freakin' open on this little wheel out of the backfield. Forcier's pass, unfortunately, is considerably behind Brown but he stabs at it with one hand and juggles it, coming down with the ball and running up the sideline for a big gain. If accurate, Brown would have an opportunity one-on-one with the safety for six points. (MA, 1, protection 1/1)
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone stretch Minor 2
Well blocked on the frontside except for Huyge(-1) who cannot control his man and that guy closes off the hole between Koger and Huyge. Some of this play missed for a replay for a previous play; sorry about the lack of detail.
O24 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone stretch Minor 22
This play hinges on two things. 1: Molk(+1) and Moosman(+1) battle and battle and battle with the defensive tackle, finally sealing him just as Minor slashes it up behind them. 2: Schilling(+2) cuts the living hell out of Toryan Smith. This was the exact block the left guard was not making last year.
O2 1 G I-Form tight 2 2 1 Base 3-4 Run Inside Zone Minor 2
Minor(+1) cuts back and is met by two ND players at the one but spins off into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 0 2 3 Nickel Run Zone read dive Brown 0
Schilling(-1) has his guy beat him to the inside and Brown runs up his back; the crashing DE tackles. Michigan was giving a triple option look here and should have run the option, or thrown the open, open bubble.
M24 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Jailbreak screen Odoms -1
Read well by McCarthy, who is there as the ball arrives and blows the play up. (CA, 3, screen)
M23 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Scramble Forcier 6
All deep routes here and apparently covered. Forcier waits and then breaks out of the pocket as he feels the DE spinning behind him. His pocket presence is really something. This time he's just scrambling, though, and not looking downfield. That's not likely to work on third and twelve. (TA, 0, protection 2/3, team)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 10 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M18 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Sack -- -5 (Pen +10)
Forcier gets spooked by a blitzer—cut but liable to get up—and scrambles out into a spy from the MLB, reverses field, and is eventually sacked. ND gets a holding call for grabbing Kelvin Grady. (PR, 0, protection 2/3, team -1)
M28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 2 Nickel Run QB lead draw Robinson 1
You'll note the 1-1-2 above; Forcier and Robinson are both in. Forcier motions out to play WR. Koger(-1) gets blown back, disrupting the path of the play and forcing Robinson to wander around until he gets tackled after a tiny gain.
M29 2 9 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Hitch Grady Inc
1: this is the wrong read since Grady's going to get lit up by a linebacker as soon as he catches it and Minor, on the outside, is wide open just like Brown was on that hitch against Western; Koger on the other side was equally open. 2: Forcier airmails this and it's nearly picked off. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M29 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Post Mathews Inc
This is another poor read as Mathews here is very covered. Forcier stared him down. Stonum is open on a slant for the first on the other side of the field. I'll give Forcier some credit for throwing this one high, as that's the only place he can put it where Mathews might catch it and it won't get picked off. But this is a super-difficult throw for no reason. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-17, 5 min 2nd Q. Shaky play from Forcier ends this drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Sack -- -4
Zone read handoff into a bubble fake but this time ND isn't freaking out and the outside receiver is covered. Before Forcier can come off of him and to another receiver, a miscommunication between Huyge and Moosman on a blitz gets a linebacker through; Forcier attempts to scramble out and is tackled. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Moosman -1, Huyge -1)
M26 2 14 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Rollout deep hitch Stonum 23
Koger to the side of the field flooded with WRs and covered up; he stays in to pass block, as does Minor, as Forcier rolls right. He pulls up to nail Stonum in between levels in the zone along the sideline. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB sweep Robinson 15
Robinson in. I don't think anyone else could dart up through this gap with three Notre Dame defenders bearing down from the backside. Schilling(+2) crushes the backside DT and though the frontside is jammed there's now a crease. Robinson doesn't see it quite quick enough; if he does he is probably gone for a touchdown. As it is he darts through the gap through a thicket of hands that slow and disrupt him enough for Notre Dame to drag him down after a first down.
O36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB counter Forcier 3
Not actually a zone read, as the LT downblocks on the playside DT and Koger pulls around to block the weakside LB who will scrape. Koger(+1) gets a great block and Forcier's on the edge; this is where I think he needs to cut decisively upfield instead of bouncing out, though I can see what he's thinking; if Odoms can get a block here he might be gone.
O33 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Reverse Odoms -4
Robinson in. Is this a reverse? There's no handoff but the QB is moving one way so it's not just an end-around. I'm calling it a reverse. Live I thought this was a dumb playcall but on review it's just a terrible job by Webb(-2), who completely whiffs his block and dooms the play. Savoy(-1) also whiffed.
O37 3 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Hitch Odoms Inc
Two blitzers from over Odoms and Odoms just runs right into a safety with his route. Forcier wings it high. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O37 4 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Improv Mathews 13
The first of Forcier's crazy magic scrambles, Finding nothing on his original drop and with blitzers crashing in from all around he jets out to the sideline, nailing Mathews in the numbers for a first.(DO, 3, protection 1/2, team)
O22 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 0 2 3 Nickel Pass Improv Brown Inc (pen offset)
Huyge(-2) gets beat and holds a guy, forcing Forcier out of the pocket again, where Carlos Brown breaks a route deep and gets interfered with. (CA, 1, protection 0/2, Huyge -2). The scramble drew the flag and saved Michigan ten yards here.
O22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Throwaway -- Inc
Pocket does not hold very well against a five-man rush; collapsing, Forcier jets and chucks the ball away as he's getting tackled. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, team)
Drive Notes: FG (39), 17-20, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass PA slant Stonum 11
Not a read, just play action; It's a zone read play down to the blocking coupled with the bubble screen fake and Stonum running a slant under it. It comes open as the corner bails into cover-3 and Forcier hits him in stride; couple yards YAC gets a first. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M40 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Scramble Forcier 7
Appears to be the same play to the other side of the field; this time ND blitzes the backside contain player right at Forcier, not the RB. Forcier gets him airborne with a fake and rolls out for good yardage. (TA, 0, protection 0/1, team)
M47 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB lead draw Forcier 4
Playside DT gets inside of Ortmann. Koger(-0.5) stalemates the DE but can't get any push on him. Michigan's caught ND in a blitz to the weakside and there's not much in the middle of the field so Forcier can cut back. This allows Johnson, the guy who shot past Ortmann, to come from behind and tackle. Everyone's momentum is going forward and Forcier picks up the first down.
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor 16
Corner blitz for the contain comes coupled with a linebacker charging down the backside; Notre Dame has overloaded there expecting to deal with Forcier. Instead, the handoff. Huyge(+1) reads that there's no one downfield to block and gets a bit of a push on Smith, which delays him just enough to open up a cutback lane. ND has closed off the frontside. Minor bursts into the secondary.
O33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 32
This... this is a scrape counterpunchVideo.
O1 1 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Iso Minor 0
Think this is on Minor(-1), as Schilling pulls out of the line and loops around Koger on the right side of the line. That's where Grady's going, too. If Minor just follows those two guys he bounces outside for an easy six. Instead he runs straight ahead into a Notre Dame DL for nothing.
O1 2 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Fumbled exchange -- -1
Merph.
O2 3 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Pitch sweep Minor -2
Great play from Brian Smith here to hold up against a double from Huyge(-1) and Koger(-1), then slash into the backfield and grab at Minor's knees when Koger leaves for a linebacker.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(27), 17-20, 11 min 3rd Q. Very dispiriting not to get in here. First and goal from the one, and you get nothing. ND fumbles the ball on the next series, though.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor 6
Blitz comes right up the middle and Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) stalemate the LB and then hurl him back. Moosman(+1) gets a great drive on Williams and Minor's got a lane he cuts into. Unfortunately, Molk and Schilling's attempted downfield blocks on the LBs, one of whom they've escorted from the blitz and the other they've picked up, fail, and three ND guys close on Minor after several yards.
O20 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 13
Same play Minor broke on the earlier drive; Ortmann(+1) gets a great, sealing block on Johnson and Schilling(+1) plows the lone linebacker in the picture, springing Minor right through the line and inside the ten. This might actually be a slight variant on the dive above. Anyone have opinions on this?
O7 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor -1
Tough to run against this since ND sells out, blitzing both linebackers and bringing the safeties up to act as linebackers behind them. Basically nine in the box. Moosman stalemates his guy and pushes him back, providing a small lane for Minor to hit up into; Koger's dealing with a safety, though, and Minor is slowed, allowing various members of ND's team to converge. Minor fumbles and loses three from the two yard run, but was well down by the time the ball came out. They mark it three yards back anyway. CONSPIRACY
O8 2 G Shotgun empty 2TE 2 0 3 Nickel Run QB stretch Robinson 5
Robinson in. Koger(+1) kicks out a blitzing linebacker. LB falls to the ground and gives Robinson the edge despite good push inside from ND. Huyge(-1) doesn't get outside of the linebacker, turning a probable touchdown into four yards. Note this is a TD, or an inch away, if the previous play is called correctly. CONSPIRACY
O4 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Rollout TE out Koger 3
This is just badass. Notre Dame calls rock to our scissors and gets two guys out on Forcier immediately. It looks like he's going to get sacked but he pulls up and somehow contorts his body to get off an accurate throw to a decently covered Koger, who pulls in a slightly tough pass and falls in for six. (DO, 2, protection N/A)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-20, 7 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 1
Notre Dame better prepared for this after getting shredded on in three times on the last two drives. Schilling(-1) gets pancaked by Johnson—yikes—and the backside DE treats Koger like a pulling guard on a power play, crashing inside and spilling the play into the unblocked linebacker. Minor gets what he can, which isn't much.
M21 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Fly Mathews Inc
Plays like this are why ND was able to get away with being so aggressive: they're in press man and Michigan runs three vertical routes against one deep safety; neither corner has help and neither needs it, running step for step with the Michigan receivers. Mathews could sky over Walls like he did on an earlier pass but this one's out in front of him and out of bounds. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M21 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Flare screen Brown 17
Five ND players attack the quarterback and are gone from the play instantly; no peeling back or responsibility here. So there's now three defenders, four blockers, and a ton of open space. A Notre Dame linebacker cuts off the outside, futilely, and Brown has no one to deal with until he passes the first down marker, when a corner chases him inside and into a safety. (CA, 3, screen)
M38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read keeper Forcier 4
Forcier on the edge with a ponderous-looking Fleming—foreshadowing! He jukes past the LB; the LB makes a diving tackle attempt that trips him up. Would have been a few more otherwise.
M42 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB off tackle Robinson 1
Robinson. ND brings eight into the box and Grady on an end-around fake. Brown is in zone, evidently, and does not go with him, staying on the edge and causing Robinson to cut back into a morass of bodies in the middle of the field. Molk(-1) is beaten by Johnson, holds the hell out of him, and still watches the guy make the tackle. Avoids the call, luckily.
M43 3 5 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Jailbreak screen Grady 3
Set up about as well as the last one but for Williams, who appears to be spying on a screen. He waits for everyone to clear, then follows the ball to Grady. I know this isn't really his job but I really want Molk to turn around and block Williams here. Anyway, ND funnels it inside and the spy makes the play. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-20, 4 min 3rd Q. This is Forcier's 50-yard punt. I like how disappointed McDonough sounds when it's a punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Ace Twins 2 1 2 Nickel Run Inside Zone Minor 6
Nothing anywhere in the middle of the line as three ND players pinch in and there's just a glob of people. Minor cuts back behind Koger, blocking down on a DE, and then cuts up past a crashing corner. Huyge(+1) has gotten an excellent downfield block on a linebacker and Minor rides up his back for a good gain.
M42 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass PA TE flat Koger 20
This has been set up by the gashing Minor runs earlier, as Minor goes on a zone read fake against man coverage and the linebackers bite like whoah as Koger pulls across the formation as if to block the backside DE. Instead he runs into a hugely vacant flat; Forcier hits him and he rumbles for 20 or so. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
O38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read keeper Forcier 2
This is a keeper off the dive play that Minor's been running and Koger just faked, and it works, as the scrape backer is worried about the quick hitter and Forcier is into the open field. If he hits upfield immediately he picks up eight or ten; instead he tries to cut it outside and turns it into two. Not high school.
O36 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Brown 6
Little bit of a different look as Koger is used as a lead blocker. Ortmann(+1) gets a great seal on Johnson, opening up a crease, but Schilling(-1) whiffs a block on the LB and a bunch of arms rise up to trip Brown up. You'd really like to see your RB run through this.
O30 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor -1
ND goes cover zero and blitzes like whoah, allowing Johnson to slant inside on Schilling(-1) and clock Minor before he can get to the LOS.
O31 4 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Scramble Forcier 31
Forcier explained this after the game: he saw cover zero and this was actually supposed to be a rollout pass but the LB beat him to the corner. So WOOP one cut, one set of broken ankles, one touchdown. WOOP. Not charting this as a pass, FWIW.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-20, 14 min 4th Q. STUDBOLT!
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Slant Stonum 9
The bubble-slant combo that's often wide open. This time it's not at all, with #8 draped all over Stonum's back. Forcier puts it right on the money and Stonum makes a tough catch with a guy trying to rake the ball free. (CA+, 2, protection 1/1) Stonum is hurt for a while. He does return late.
M38 2 1 Ace Twins 2 1 2 Nickel Run Zone stretch Minor 5
ND blitzing to the short side and Michigan running mostly away from it; Webb(+1) gets a good block on the edge on the SLB; Huyge(+1) stalls the DE and Minor can dart outside. Minor ends up blowing into Mathews, who's engaged with a DB, and falling forward for five.
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Hitch Mathews Inc
ND sends six and after an initial pickup, Huyge(-1) loses his guy. Forcier tries to escape but said guy starts tackling him, at which point he Malletts it downfield at Mathews, who might have been open, actually, but he can't get it on target and Walls nearly intercepts. Dangerous. (BR, 1, protection 1/2, Huyge -1)
M44 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone stretch Minor -1
Molk(-1) totally loses control of Williams, so there will be no cutback. Meanwhile, Koger(-0.5) and Huyge(-0.5) get driven back by ND players, forcing Minor to take a looping path to the outside, where he's met the linebacker who's drawn up into the box.
M43 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Post Mathews Int
Or... something. This is the miscommunication interception that Mathews took the blame on in the press conference but it's hard to imagine what the hell Mathews could have been running that this would have been an accurate throw for. And Brown is running a wheel right behind him so that should be his route. I think Mathews is covering for Tate, and this is just a huge mistake. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 31-26, 7 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass WR screen Mathews -1
Koger(-1) gets beaten by the ND DB and he tackles immediately. (CA, 3, screen)
M40 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB draw Forcier 14
Forcier actually manages this despite Brown(-1) totally whiffing his block on the MLB because Molk(+1) has blown the DT back and Forcier can just cut to the right before scooting past the first down. He just avoids another attempted crown-of-the-helmet killshot from an ND safety.
O46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Wheel Brown 3
Not as open as the first but open. Like the first, this is considerably behind Brown and requires him to slow up and catch the ball, otherwise this could go for 6-8. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)
O43 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Brown -7
Brown fumbles the exchange. Shame, too, because Schilling had cut the backside DT and there looked to be a potentially touchdown-open lane straight up the middle.
50 3 14 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Wheel Koger Inc
Koger's wheel route gets him wide flippin open, touchdown open, and Forcier just misses him. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-34, 3 min 4th Q. Redeem thyself!
Ln Dn Ds O Form TE RB WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Cross Mathews 9
Originally looking at a wheel-post combo on the left side of the field, which is covered so he comes down to a checkdown, which is Mathews settling down between a couple people in a zone. Forcier zips it in. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
O48 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 6
ND DE here reads the play and crashes but he goes behind his own DT to fill the backside gap this play hits up into. Reminiscent of Rutgers except no one is containing.  If Forcier keeps it would break big but ND hasn't shown this yet and they need a yard. Excellent block by Molk(+1) seals Williams and Ortmann just gets enough of Johnson to spring Minor through the line; that DE cleans up downfield.
O42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Sack -- -5
Good protection at first on a four man rush and when Forcier starts to scramble out a spy comes up to contain him. He dodges inside, pumps, thinks better of it, and is banged to the ground by an ND DE. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
O47 2 15 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Improv Odoms 11
ND sends five and Huyge(-1) and Molk don't do a good job of slowing down the guy coming up the middle, which means no pocket and Forcier has to scramble out. Just as that same DE comes up to sack again Forcier gets a pass off to Odoms, who's coming back for it. He escapes a tackle attempt and squeezes up the sideline for five more, somehow getting tackled in bounds. (DO, 3, protection 1/2, Huyge -1)
O36 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Hitch Odoms 7
This is well covered and the ball a little late, so Odoms has to go down and dig this out with a guy all over his back. Tough, tough, critical catch from a guy who before the last two plays hasn't been heard from. (CA, 1, protection 1/1)
O29 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Slant Savoy 7
Opens up as the receivers cross as ND is playing soft now; Walls comes up for an immediate tackle. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O22 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Improv Savoy 17
Huyge(-1) again starts getting blown back by a guy, disrupting the pocket. Forcier first looks like he's going to scramble right, then abruptly heads left, finding Savoy with a bullet he throws across his body at the five. (DO, 3, protection 1/2, Huyge -1)
O5 1 G Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Improv Savoy Inc
Here's a valid complaint that doesn't even get brought up: Minor moves early here and Odoms is moving at the same time: illegal shift. No call. This is a called rollout to the right with no one open as Odoms just gets body-checked to the ground (which is legal), so Forcier just runs around like a nutcase, finding Savoy again. Walls tips it, Savoy can't haul it in. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
O5 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Circle Mathews 5
Wooooooooooo! (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-34, 11 seconds. Wooo!

Woooooo!

Woooooo!

Wooo—

Right.

Okay.

Right.

Should I send my daughter to Forcier's harem or am I still holding out for Tom Brady when it comes to siring the next generation of Michigan quarterbacks?

Sounds like a job for a chart (chart)

(Hennechart again; MA is "marginal")

TATE FORCIER

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR
Western Michigan 2 14 1 2 1 2 - 3
Notre Dame 5 20 (6) 2 4 3 3 - 4

(I'm going to put the screen numbers in parens from now on.)

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR
Western Michigan - 1 1 1 2 - - -

I won't continue charting Sheridan, as… well… obviously. Denard didn't throw any passes, he just ran.

Forcier's downfield success rate* in this game is 19 / 29 = 66%, and it should be noted that a couple of the TAs were successful scrambles; our DSR metric probably underrates wheeling Jackson Pollocks relative to Navarre sorts since it files scrambles as TAs. Also, five DOs is a large number. That was a performance that, remarkably, just about deserves the adulation it's received in the aftermath.

So it's really easy to pick out that Terrelle Pryor has a 99th percentile skill in being huge and fast and this gets you #1 recruit status; two games in it looks like Tate Forcier has 99th percentile skill in accuracy on the run, pocket awareness, and (yep) moxie. I don't know if I'd trade Forcier for Pryor, and who on earth would have been able to state that without getting laughed at two weeks ago?

Okay, okay, there were some rough spots: that interception winged so far over Mathews head there must have been some screwup; Mathews blamed himself but he was running into open space so if it was an option route he got it right. And Forcier almost caused a cascade of BOOM MALLETTED jokes when he chucked a dangerous ball as he was being sacked. Also: Forcier's maddening tendency to bounce his keepers outside cost Michigan 10-15 yards over the course of the game. I assume that latter will be relatively easy to fix.

Nits, all. The power to destroy a planet is insignificant.

*((DO + CA) / (DO + CA + IN + BR + TA + BA); basically "percentage of times you threw downfield that something good happened." Marginal (MA) passes don't count either way, and pressures (PRs) are charged to the OL, not the QB.)

He did get some help.

Yes, he did. Receiverchart:

(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
Hemingway - - - - - - - 4/4
Mathews 2 1/3 1/1 3/3 2 1/3 1/1 5/5
Stonum - - 1/2 3/3 1 - 1/2 3/3
Savoy - - 0/1 2/2 1 - 0/1 2/2
Odoms 1 1/1 - 2/2 1 1/1 - 4/4
Grady-19 1 - - 2/2 2 - 1/1 3/4
Roundtree - - - - - - - -
Rogers - - - - - - - -
Koger - - 1/1 3/3 - 1/1 1/1 5/5
Webb - - - - 1 - - -
Minor - - - - - - - -
Brown - 1/2 1/1 2/2 - 1/2 1/1 3/3
Shaw - - - - - - 0/1 -
Smith - - - - - - - -
Moundros - - - - - - - -

Notes: look at the spread here. Seven different receivers got four or more looks, with Mathews topping out at nine. Receivers dug out three catches filed as circus (Mathews's 40 yarder, the first Brown wheel route, and Odoms's critical third down conversion on the final drive) and dropped no balls filed as routine. You couldn't ask for anything more.

Brown is the clearly preferred option as a pass receiver out of the backfield. His speed and hands make him dangerous; that first wheel would probably have been a touchdown if it was thrown accurately. I bet Michigan uses him frequently against teams that are playing a lot of man.

Stonum's solid game may be the most important development going forward. Notre Dame was very aggressive on the corners because they didn't respect Michigan's ability to get deep and Stonum's the only guy on the roster who can put the fear of God into those guys, as he amply demonstrated on his kickoff return. That showed why he was such a highly-touted recruit. An earlier fly route showed why he's been stuck on the bench: he ran a great route that gave him three or four yards to the sideline, and Forcier used that room to throw a great pass where only he could get to it…and he turned inside. That went from a long completion to a ball glancing off his fingertips. So he's got work to do. But his career is officially off life support.

Protection is less cheery but mentally file this under "Tenuta":

PROTECTION METRIC: 35/50, Moosman –1, Huyge –6, Team –8.

That is not a good metric but that big "team" number indicates that a lot of that was just TAH-NOO-TAH sending guys from everywhere and Michigan either not making the right pickup or not having the ability to make the right pickup because there are just more dudes than blockers. Huyge, on the other hand, struggled, especially when Moosman went out and he slid inside to guard; he got driven back on multiple plays on the final drive and was a main reason it was so ridiculous and scrambly.

Any other reasons this offense has taken a quantum leap forward?

Yes: the coaches.

Take a look at the Michigan drive that ended in Darius Fleming's jock on the field and Matt Millen making up words via which to homoerotically praise Forcier. As described in Picture Pages, Michigan gashed Notre Dame twice early in the second half with a zone read dive that acts as a counterpunch to the scrape exchange. The third time M runs it the backside DE treats it like a power running play much like you see Michigan State run and runs up to cut Koger, which spills the play outside and results in zero yards.

Okay. They've caught on. Michigan immediately discontinues the dive stuff and finishes out the drive with a variety of other plays. When Michigan gets the ball back they run one inside zone out of an ace formation (odd) and then go to this:

  1. PA TE flat on which Koger fakes the dive block and then heads out for a big gain.
  2. Called QB keeper on the dive play that would be eight or ten yards if Forcier would just run straight upfield instead of trying to beat the corner.
  3. Zone read stretch variant where Koger pulls but is actually acting as a stretch lead blocker. This gains six despite a Schilling whiff and would probably have been more if it was Minor running through a thicket of desperate hands instead of Brown.
  4. The dive play itself, which loses a yard when Tenuta blitzes right into it.
  5. Return to the PA TE flat, which ends up sucking every ND defender to Brown and Koger and leaves Forcier in the clear with one Darius Fleming.

That is awesome. That sequence is, in a nutshell, the difference between this year's offense and last year's offense. Last year, Michigan would rip off the two long runs off the dive and then the opponent would adjust, as Notre Dame did, and then Michigan would just be out of ideas because their quarterback was incapable of running and passing. This year, Forcier gives them the ability to set you up and then run one, two, three counters to their play (which was originally a counter!), all of which worked and would have gone for big yardage if Forcier had realized he was not in high school any more. And then they go back to the original, which Tenuta gets lucky on, and then they go back to a counter, which Tenuta does not get lucky on, and Michigan has a touchdown drive built almost entirely by the ingenuity of Rodriguez and Magee and the ability of Tate Forcier to MAKE PLAYS.

Michigan and their freshman quarterback and their unthreatening WRs and their almost total lack of NFL talent kept pace with a team running out a third-year starting quarterback, two future NFL receivers, and a veteran, talented offensive line. And the above is how. That is a decided schematic advantage.

Contrast this with the old Carr/Debord style: run the same play over and over and over again, out-executing them for little bits of yardage and setting up the opponent for one big killshot. Get predictable, and then break tendencies. Rodriguez only tolerates predictability insofar as he has to, and operates his offense as a coherent suite of plays that you have to guess right on lest you get gashed. This is not "rock rock rock," it's "rock, scissors, rock, rock, paper, scissors, candle, rock, wait what candle(?) oops you scored a touchdown." WVU's offensive standing was not a coincidence, and neither was Michigan's.

No offense to any of the departed, of course.

Why didn't the slot receivers get any play? Where were the bubbles?

This is why:

why-no-bubbles

Notre Dame had a guy directly over the slot the whole game, which took it away. As we saw above, that opened up other things. Playing defense against this thing is like plugging a hole in a dike with your finger.

Heroes?

Forcier, and let's hand out some awards for the receivers, who pulled in three circus catches and dropped no 3s. They may not be explosive but they were utterly reliable. Top marks to Stonum for his kickoff return. Also, Sean McDonough really did this ridiculous game justice. Millen was pretty good, too.

Goats?

I've got Huyge down for a –6 in pass pro, which is bad. The team picked up another –8, too. I love it when Forcier runs around but I'd like it if it took a little longer for that to be the best alternative.

What does it mean for Eastern Michigan, and beyond?

Forcier's going to Favre a game away at some point, I think, when he runs around too long and fumbles or chucks an INT he shouldn't have even thought about throwing, but this offense will be in a position to Favre games away. It is the real deal, man, capable of running or throwing on just about anyone short of Ohio State, whose defensive line is probably going to devour the OL, and maybe Penn State. It's got a suite of plays that work together, any of which can bust long, and the receivers are really helping out with their hands.

This is no fluke. This is the Leap.

Comments

Bleedin9Blue

September 17th, 2009 at 3:00 PM ^

I laughed at that one too. When I read candle I was then expecting more rock/paper/scissors but then for Brian to keep adding more ridiculous things in there. Of course it would have to end with Zoltan because Zoltan is the end of all things.

DoubleMs

September 17th, 2009 at 3:16 PM ^

It is really a brilliant description of what our offense is like... run something so we know how their scheme reacts to it... run things that we know adjust their scheme, get them outta line, show them the candy and then take it away to get them to shift a little, then boom, touchdown.

ejbeantown

September 17th, 2009 at 2:47 PM ^

was there any chance if Mathews was looking for the ball that he could have had a shot at it or was it completely out of his area? The pass looked like it sailed over is head and in front of him.

Ziff72

September 17th, 2009 at 3:13 PM ^

I'll have to go back to my DVR at home, but I was certain that it was a catchable ball for Matthews had he run the correct route which would have been a skinny post. I thought he had his head down like he was breaking down looking to block almost. Brian I think you need to re-re review that play and picture Matthews running full blast on a skinny post there Braylon Edwards like and see if you still feel if it was Forcier's fault. I picture a snatch out of the air and small white safety driving into Matthews ribs, but I believe Forcier was in the right just a touch high.

North Star

September 17th, 2009 at 4:31 PM ^

as a former Div I WR, I can confirm that this was on Matthews - the read was to settle in the seam - Forcier read the seam in underneath coverage and the DB running deep - there was a clear hole in the zone - Forcier read it and Matthews missed it - if he settles there, complete pass and he turns it up for a few more yards

wolverinewest

September 17th, 2009 at 3:29 PM ^

While watching on TV, it looked like the ball sailed right in front of Matthews' head. If he had been anticipating the pass, it would have been an easy reception. However, it looked like he didn't see the ball until it crossed his field of vision and by that time it was too late. That is just my opinion based on the angle of the play as captured by the TV camera's.

Rashman

September 17th, 2009 at 4:37 PM ^

I agree that it was a wrong read and he could have caught it, but I was real impressed with the way he stuck with the play and chased the guy all the way back across the field to make the tackle. And in the process, he was doing his best to knock that ball loose and get it back too. Glad to see that he didn't just quit after the INT.

BleedingBlue

September 17th, 2009 at 6:02 PM ^

I had an unreal view of this live looking right down the flight of the ball.

As others have said - this was very open and Mathews would surely have caught it if he was looking back for the ball right after he broke to the inside. Instead, his eyes were fixed on the DB he was running toward like he was intent on blocking him like the ball was going to go elsewhere.

Stand-up Michigan Man (I know, I know-had to say it though) move taking the blame for the bad play... Weis should take notes.

enlightenedbum

September 17th, 2009 at 3:07 PM ^

Other than the slightly disgusting Tate love (I begin to understand how it must feel to be a Gator fan the last two years), I really enjoyed those two. First time I've said that about a non-Ron Franklin ESPN/ABC game since ... Keith Jackson's last season as ABC's #1?

Greg McMurtry

September 17th, 2009 at 6:35 PM ^

Minor moves once the ball is snapped because he's watching the ball. It just appears that he moves early because everyone else moves after the ball is completely snapped. Watch the center (Molk) snap the ball and then stand upright into a pass-blocking stance. Minor moves right as the ball is snapped. A split second later, the ball is in Forcier's hands although it is hard to see the ball as it travels through the air from grainy youtube video.

Also, why would M fans complain about this?

60blue

September 17th, 2009 at 3:11 PM ^

Brandon Minor, god bless him. I have never seen any other running back* brought down inside the 5 yard line after big runs as him. This guy should have 10-15 more career touchdowns than he does.

*Obviously no evidence besides my shaky memory

M-Go-Bleu

September 17th, 2009 at 3:15 PM ^

Curious. Looks like Savoy's drop in the endzone was classified a 2, yet his catch to put us on the 3 yard line or so was a 3. I would have thought the inverse. I know it's subjective, but wow when I see that end zone toss it sure seemed like a great pass. I think that the announcer indicated it was tipped, but I didn't see the tip, just saw it hit him in the numbers. Ironically, that happened at 16 seconds, which had it been a catch would have given ND 5 more seconds to play with. Given all the ND backlash 5 seconds certainly would have meant a winning touchdown drive for ND.

Tapin

September 17th, 2009 at 3:58 PM ^

...go back and re-watch the play, especially the slo-mo from the end zone sideline. Don't watch the play, keep your eyes on the ball. It goes from being a fairly tight spiral to all sorts of wacky just as it passes the defender.

I still haven't seen the tip either, but the results of the tip are pretty obvious if you're looking for 'em.

J. Lichty

September 17th, 2009 at 5:23 PM ^

even if the trajectory itself was not thrown off, perhaps the tip altered the velocity of the pass.

Even a pass on the same plane could be made difficult to catch if you were expecting it a certain speed, getting your hands in position, only to have readjust to a slower ball.

Could he still have made the catch - yes - but I would not classify it as a drop or a case of the yips. The guy showed he could catch on that drive - and I am glad we have another received that can be relied upon, and that ultimately fortitous drop will not affect my thoughts on that. He has shown himself to be very surehanded thus far, which given the fact that he is a sled, makes him somewhat valuable after years of being buried on the depth chart.

Mels dummy

September 17th, 2009 at 3:24 PM ^

I'm glad Brian mentioned the pattern of attempted spearing by ND's safeties. Of all the uncalled potential penalties, these (especially the first by McCarthy)were the one's I found most objectionable. These were attempts to injure, and based on the multiple occurances seemed part of a premeditated plan. By letting the first blatant spearing attempt go unpenalized, the refs set the game up for chippy extracurriculars because it's difficult and usually unfair to pick out a single later chippy event and call it a personal foul. Which, of course, is always a concern in rivalry games. This also makes some of CW's whining seem more hypocritical.

mels dummy

jsquigg

September 17th, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

Excellent work as usual, Brian. I'm curious, however, about your Ohio State comments. Do you think our offense will stumble most against superior defensive line play? Maybe I'm just naive and excitedly biased, but I think our coaches will have excellent game plans in place week in and week out and that Forcier (if healthy) will at least keep us in every game up to and until Ohio State comes to town.
I agree that he'll probably "Favre" a game away, but I have a feeling Rich might be borrowing some motivation from Bo after sweatervest ran up the score last year (I realize we would do the same). Maybe a little 42-7 reminder here or there each practice. I could be wrong, but I can't remember being this comfortable with coaching going from game to game. I think it's obvious even to the critics how bad the knowledge/talent was last year.