Upon Further Review: Offense vs OSU Comment Count

Brian December 1st, 2006 at 5:33 PM
M20 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Run 3 Hart Zone left
Third wideout is actually Butler, who comes in motion to the playside. He kind of whiffs on the linebacker but with the help of Ecker, turns him out. Gholston, lined up over Long(-1), gets free, forcing Hart back inside of him and into the remaining linebackers.
M23 2 7 Ace Offset Pass 24 Manningham Slant
Smith owned. Henne lays it right in stride to Manningham, allowing him to rack up a big gain after the catch. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)
M47 1 10 Ace Offset Pass 9 Manningham Stop
First indication that the field might be an issue, as Washington slips trying to break on this. Wouldn't have done much other than hold the gain down a yard or two, but still an indication. Ohio State's doing this flyaway thing I've seen them do quite a bit where they line up in press cover, then start bailing at the snap. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O44 2 1 Ace Offset Pass 9 Butler Cross
Ton of time for Henne. Henne looks deep, then comes down to Butler for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O35 1 10 I-Form Twins Run 9 Hart Delay
I'm not sure what to call this. It's not our typical zone stretch but it's not really a draw either. Oluigbo leads weakside as Michigan OL start pass drop, then engage. The OSU defensive line has started shifted right, over the tight end, and is walled off fairly easily. Obi kicks out a blitzing corner. Laurinaitis and Kerr get sucked up and blocked – Kerr tries a diving tackle that Hart bursts through – and Hart's into the secondary for a good gain.
O24 2 1 Ace 3-Wide Pass 23 Manningham Post (2)
Press-bail again, where the cornerback immediately turns his hips and starts flying downfield, reading the quarterback. Michigan is ready for this, running a post against cover 1 (seven in the box versus this formation that features Ecker spread wide to the top of the formation). Manningham gets inside Smith easily and throws a perfect dart. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O1 1 G Goalline Run 1 Hart Zone right
Yeesh. Nearly a hold on Butler as he grabs a cornerback's arm, and then he falls to the ground. Obi gets the other corner hooked and Hart has the corner easy.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q. I didn't realize the Dave Matthews Band had kicked in for this game. Anyway... uh... yeah. That was machine-like.
M20 1 10 Ace Pass Inc Manningham Out
Manningham slips... he was open and the ball was there despite pressure. Ball was there. (CA, 0, protection ½)
M20 2 10 I-Form Run 4 Hart Zone right
Michigan has the outside sealed – Laurinaitis swept up by the guard and then Obi – but Arrington can't maintain his block on Jenkins. He comes free and shuts Hart down for a moderate gain. Riley(-1) driven backwards, delaying Hart's progress around the edge and giving Jenkins time to come up.
M24 3 6 Ace 3-Wide Pass 7 Breaston Slant
Second read nails Breaston between the numbers. Excellent coverage. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
M31 1 10 I-Form Twins Penalty -5 Mitchell False Start
M26 1 15 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc Manningham Bomb
Ugh. Manningham is ten yards past Jenkins and heading for an easy touchdown but Henne overthrows him. Manningham throws his arms up in despair. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M26 2 15 Ace 3-Wide Pass 10 Butler Dig
Another second read. This one is a bit in front of Butler but still reeled in for a good gain. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
M36 3 5 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc -- Throwaway
Plenty of time. Ecker is jammed at the line and held. Henne appears to have Breaston short quickly but he never comes to him. Eventually he tosses it away, trying to avoid pressure. Musberger getting intolerable. (TA, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 4 min 1st Q.
M14 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass -3 -- Sack
Henne has a moment before Lawrence Wilson drives Ecker(-1) into the pocket, forcing a panicked scramble. He has to realize what's happening and do something like dump the ball off to Hart, who looked like he had some room to make positive yards. Instead we get the same thing we've seen a lot this year where Henne takes his eyes off his receivers and gets sacked. (PR, --, protection 1/2, Ecker -1)
M11 2 13 Empty Pass 12 Manningham WR Screen
Well executed. Good blocks by Arrington(+1) and Butler(+1). (CA, 3)
M23 3 1 Ace 3-Wide Run 0 Hart Zone right
Oh, how I despise this playcall. I've been bitching about this all year, no? Third and one, we bring in three wideouts and run a stretch play without a lead blocker. They stuff the box, sell out on the zone play, and stuff it. Musberger credits Laurinaitis when all he did was chase down the play after everyone else did the hard work.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q. Dear Animal, Your Kid Is Overrated.
M27 1 10 I-Form Twins Run 1 Hart Zone left
With two receivers to one side, OSU shows eight in the box then backs out of it just before the snap. OSU gets far enough upfield to cut off the outside and with the still aggressive safety on the backside the linebackers are free to flow to the ball, outnumber the Michigan blockers.
M28 2 9 Ace 3-Wide Pass -17 -- Sack
Actually an intentional grounding call but it goes down as a sack. Henne has time and the ability to make a throw here but hesitates and starts r unning around, at which point he's dead. Strange thing is that he started running into pressure instead of moving up into the pocket. I have no idea if his man was covered or whatever, but this is brutal play. Step up in the pocket, throw it away... do something other than take a 17 yard sack. Goddammit. Now I see why the hesitation: Henne's receiver (the second read) ate turf trying to cut. He was open, so Henne didn't come off of him, and when he went down the blitz had gone from picked up to not picked up. Filed as a BR for poor pocket awareness but with an asterisk. (BR, --, protection 1/2)
M11 3 26 Ace 3-Wide Pass 14 Ecker Dig
Open underneath deep coverage and picks up half of it. I don't have a huge problem with the call. It's 14 yards of field position and getting it on third and twenty seven is not likely. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M25 4 12 Punt Penalty 15 -- Whackin' the Center
Yeah, you can't do that. Ever wonder why long snappers are always the third guy downfield on punt coverage? Because you can't hit 'em until they get their head up, by which point hittin' em is useless.
M40 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Run 0 Hart Zone left
Against the strength of the formation. There's a bit of a problem with the exchange, but it doesn't affect the play. No one gets a block on the second level or much push. Riley(-1) is so late he tries to go out and block the corner to that side because the linebacker's already yards inside of him. Hart cuts back. There's a lot of space but two unblocked linebackers.
M40 2 10 I-Form 3-Wide Pass 4 Hart Screen
No blitz and hardly any penetration from the DL. Weird looking screen. The third "wideout" is actually Ecker screen side, which might be a tipoff. Pitcock reads it and tracks down Hart; Hart jukes past him easily (Kraus slips to the turf trying to turn and block him) but the delay holds down the gain. (CA, 3)
M44 3 6 Ace 3-Wide Pass 5 Breaston Cross
Henne checks down as Manningham is covered and hits Breaston on a cross. He's tackled immediately by Freeman. Nice play. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q.
M20 1 10 Ace Trips Pass Inc Manningham Hitch
Smith bails out, giving Manningham a ton of room. There might be a miscommunication on this as the throw is a yard or two further downfield than Manningham expects. Still catchable but only marginally accurate given the error. Not sure who to blame. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
M20 2 10 I-Form Run 30 Hart Lead Draw
Woo. Life. Laurinaitis is plowed by Oluigbo and out of the play, then Hart puts a move on the safety to break past the line of scrimmage. He puts a second move on Jenkins, bursts past him, and is tripped by by a diving corner.
50 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Run 1 Hart Zone right
Extra guy in the box; they're in cover one with a seven man front. No likey run here. The front side is jammed up – we can't crease them so far – and when Hart tries to cut to the backside Gholston is there. Butler was confused, initially blowing past him in an attempt to get out on a linebacker, then turning and trying a half-hearted grab a second later. Gholston would have been vastly out of position on the waggle if Henne kept the ball.
O49 2 9 I-Form Twins Run 7 Hart Zone left
This is kind of weird. Looks like OSU is caught in a nickel here. They have one safety way back in the middle of the field and one shaded over Arrington and Manningham. The third corner backs off the LOS before the snap in that weakside zone technique you see a lot. We run at him. We finally crease the line, giving Hart a lane. Someone dives at his feet, he hurdles forward and falls for seven yards.
O42 3 2 Ace Pass 15* Manningham PI
I bet an OSU fan a dollar about Herbstreit's opinion on this. Jenkins jams Manningham about eight yards downfield as Henne lofts a ball up for him. Flag comes down as the ball was in the air. Bet is a push, as Herbstreit offers no opinion either way. (Not charted, 0, protection 1/1)
O27 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass -10 -- Sack
Poor Alex Mitchell is asked to block two defensive linemen as we bust a blitz pickup. Henne's snowed under, no chance. (PR, --, protection 0/3, Riley-3) It's Riley who decides to take a late blitzing corner instead of blocking Gholston.
O37 2 20 Ace 3-Wide Pass 37 Arrington Wheel
Combo route with Manningham gets Arrington millions of yards open – this will happen again in the second half but Henne will miss him – and leads to a touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-21, 2 min 2nd Q.
M40 1 10 Empty Pass 1 Manningham WR Screen
Massey slips trying to set up and block Smith; freed of Ecker, Smith makes the tackle. (CA, 3)
M41 2 9 I-Form Run 8 Hart Draw
Laurinaitis does a great job of fending off Oluigbo – first time I've ever seen him do that – and manages a tackle attempt near the LOS. Hart runs through it. The other linebacker, Kerr, was engaged on the second level nicely by Bihl(+1) and can't do anything but chase Hart down from behind.
M49 3 1 I-Form Run 33 Hart Iso (2)
This is Adam Kraus' hole. He gets an outstanding, driving block on Kerr. Long kicks out Gholston; Bihl chops and removes Pitcock, who was firing forward at the snap. Oluigbo takes out Mitchell, opening up a hole for Hart.
O18 1 10 I-Form Run 16 Hart Zone left
No presnap formation; we join the play just as Hart gets the ball. Don't know if we caught them off guard or what but they have their linebackers shifted towards the open side of the field, away from where we're running. Patterson gets in to the backfield but can't get out to Hart before he shoots up into the hole. Bihl(+1) scoops Pitcock out of the way, and gets out on Laurinaitis. Hart reads everything beautifully and cuts his way through the ho le, past Bihl, and into the secondary.
O2 1 10 Goalline Run 2 Hart Zone right
Obi motions out to be a second TE on the right side. Great job by Butler(+1) to seal the DE, then impede Laurinaitis enough to give Hart the corner easily.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-28, 12 min 3rd Q.
O25 1 10 I-Form Twins Run 5 Hart Zone left
Nominally eight in the box – Jenkins on the weakside covering a short zone – but we run away from two blitzers who shoot upfield and take themselves out of the play. As a result, the backside is wide open. Hart sees it... cuts... slips. His hand hits the turf and he stumbles. Out of position linebacker (55?) recovers. He makes that cut cleanly and he has one safety between him and the endzone and a sure first down.
O20 2 5 I-Form Twins Run -2 Hart Zone right
Playside block for Bihl on Patterson that he does not make. A replay of various runs all season where a DT drives one of our interior linemen into Hart in the backfield. Hart breaks the tackle but by that time he's swarmed.
O22 3 7 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc Manningham Out
Gholston and Pitcock stunt; Gholston blows up Kraus(-1) and gets pressure on Henne, who ends up throwing the ball away in the general direction of Manningham. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Kraus -2) No Gholston likely means he throws to Breaston free on a crossing route after coming off Manningham.
Drive Notes: FG, 24-28, 8 min 3rd Q. The obvious issues with the field are actually affecting our offense more than our defense. Hart was one move away from the endzone on first down here.
M20 1 10 Ace Pass Inc Manningham Slant
Batted down at the line. (BA, 0)
M20 2 10 I-Form Run 6 Hart Zone left
Quick snap. Long(+1) gets great push on Richardson, allowing Hart the corner. Obi takes out the nearest linebacker and Hart goes up the sideline until the defense converges.
M26 3 4 Ace 3-Wide Pass 15 Arrington Dig
Ohio State blitzes; we pick it up. Mario comes across the formation and is trailed by a defender, revealing man coverage. With time, Henne finds Arrington, who's beaten Smith to the inside by a couple yards. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
M41 1 10 I-Form Run 1 Hart Zone left
Quick snap. Long(-1) is hesitant (slip?), allowing Gholston to burst into him and shove him back. He then definitely slips. With the DE to the playside free, there's not much Hart can do except cut up into bodies.
M42 2 9 Ace 3-Wide Pass 25 Arrington Seam
Beautiful pocket. Henne drops back and fires it to Arrington running in between levels in the zone; right on the money. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
O33 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Run 0 Hart Zone left
Smith brought off of Arrington in the slot to blitz; does so right into the play. Arrington comes in motion before the snap and manages to wall off Smith without blocking him in the back. Hart jumps outside of him. Timing disrupted, the safety already creeping towards the line of scrimmage, Hart has the outside cut off and has to head upfield.
O33 2 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc Butler Out
Don't know what Long's doing. The DE slants inside and gets there, driving towards Henne. Henne has to get rid of it and throws to an open Butler but can't step into the throw with the pressure and sails it. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Long -2)
O33 3 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc -- Throwaway
Stunt. Patterson splits the gap between Riley(-1) and Mitchell(-1). Henne, under tremendous pressure, has to toss it away. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Mitchell, Riley -1)
O33 4 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass 5 Breaston Cross
We've seen this play all year, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's a checkdown to Breaston on the crossing route a few yards short of the sticks. Breaston cuts and slips to the turf. Does he make it otherwise? Maybe. We've seen him do it before. He had Jenkins to contend with... 50/50.
Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, 24-35, 4 min 3rd Q.
M34 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc Arrington Wheel
Ugh. The aforementioned overthrow on the wheel route. Arrington was open by about ten yards and all Henne had to do was lay it in there for a 20 or 30 yard gain. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M34 2 10 I-Form Run 9 Hart Lead Draw
OSU blitzes right into this. Obi gets a piece of Laurinaitis and allows Hart a crease to split the two linebackers; Hart then owns Brandon Mitchell for another four yards.
M43 3 1 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc Manningham Bomb
Jenkins step for step with Manningham but has given him way too much room inside. There's a window here for a completion... unfortunately, Long passes Gholston off to Kraus, who hasn't slid his protection. Result: Henne hit as he throws, underthrown ball, and a punt. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Kraus -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-35, 1 min 3rd Q.
O9 1 G I-Form Run 0 Hart Zone left
Ohio State strings this out nicely. Obi decides to head outside and Hart follows him. Ecker is battling Gholston to a stalemate when Wilson shoots past Long(-1) and grabs Hart from behind.
O9 2 G I-Form Run 9 Breaston End-around
Play is made by Arrington's killer block on Washington. Breaston's speed got him outside the defensive end. I don't see how this replay is indisputable, by the way.
O1 3 G Goalline Run 1 Hart Zone right
By all rights should be stopped at the one by an unblocked Mitchell with Kerr impacting him a moment later. Hart plows in anyway.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-35, 14 min 4th Q.
M32 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc Manningham Cross
Henne stands in bravely as Patterson goes right past a confused Mitchell/Bihl combo and hits an open Manningham for about six yards with a lot of YAC potential. It's dropped. (CA, 2, protection 0/2, Mitchell -1, Bihl -1)
M32 2 10 Ace Run 7 Hart Draw
Open and he's immediately into the second level with the linebackers dropping way downfield.
M39 3 3 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc Breaston Slant
Washington jams Breaston and he's yards away from the ball as the pass is thrown. Uh...BR, I guess. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-35, 10 min 4th Q.
M19 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass 5 Manningham Cross
Underneath the coverage for a few; need yards in bigger chunks here. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M24 2 5 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 8 Arrington Stop
Double clutch as Henne comes off Manningham and hits Arrington. It's a little low – there was an opportunity to get a few more yards and then OOB if accurate. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
M32 1 10 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 1 Hart Checkdown
Comes down to Hart as his first read or two is covered. Jenkins makes a nice ankle tackle to hold the gain down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M33 2 9 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 17 Manningham Post
Beautiful throw well downfield in between four guys in the zone. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass 6 Arrington Cross
Throwing under the coverage. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O44 2 4 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass -10 Arrington Dig
Holding on Riley and a call that has to be made. Henne puts this in a tiny window in the zone right on Arrington's hands. Arrington is blown up by Laurinaitis but holds on. (DO, 2, protection 0/2, Riley -2) Shame. GOOD LORD. ABC does its standard "look at the guy who screwed up shot" and catches Alex Mitchell popping Riley's shoulder back into place.
M46 2 14 Shotgun 3-Wide Pass Inc Ecker Cross
Good for 8 to 10 if Ecker makes a simple catch. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M46 3 14 Ace 3-Wide Pass -2 -- Sack
This is just terrible from the right side of the OL. I can't get that mad at Riley – shoulder – but when the DE swims inside and no one's coming at Mitchell, he has to get out and help Riley. He ends up blocking no one, getting Henne sacked. (PR, protection 0/2, -1 Riley, Mitchell)
M44 4 16 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc + 15 Manningham Bomb
Weird. Herbstreit immediately bursts into a spiel about how that's obvious interference and I'm like 'no it isn't.' This ball is well underthrown – Mario had burned O'Neal crispy – allowing the S to get back into the play. He doesn't look, the ball hits him in the back or arm or something, and Manningham's progress is never impeded. This is the same kind of crappy call we've been getting on our DBs all year, and it's still crappy when it happens in our favor. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)
O41 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass 5 Manningham Cross
Underneath again; a second read as Arrington was running the wheel again. Defender on that side dropped back to cover it and Henne's second progression was the cross. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O36 2 5 Ace 3-Wide Pass 20 Massey Seam
Not well thrown – Massey has to dive to the ground and scoop the ball off the turf as he gets into the second level – but I think Freeman's threatened bump caused Massey to get to the designated spot a little late. Great catch. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
O16 1 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass Inc Arrington Corner
Though incomplete this is an excellent decision and throw from Henne. Arrington is bracketed and with 2:30 left in the game and no timeouts Michigan can't really afford little checkdowns anymore. So he fires it high and to the outside where only Arrington can get it. It would have been a miracle if he pulled it in but it was still the best option. Filed as TA. (TA, 1, protection 2/2)
O16 2 10 Ace 3-Wide Pass 16 Ecker Stop
OSU blitzes; we pick it up but only momentarily. Henne starts moving up in the pocket and I'm like "aaah no more useless Henne scramblor", then finds Ecker wide open at the six; he takes it in for the touchdown. (CA, 3, protection ½)
O3 Conv -- Ace 3-Wide Pass 3 Breaston Stop
Just a little stop in front of the zone. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), EOG

So... the field?

It clearly harmed Michigan on a few critical plays: stumbling receivers on various passes, a Hart run that was held down to five that should have been a big gain, a fourth down conversion attempt that ended with Breaston skidding to the ground yards short of the sticks. Overall, far more Michigan players ended up face down on the turf than Ohio State players, and though I gave the turf theory little credence in the immediate aftermath of the game I have to say that on replay there's about 8-10 instances where a Michigan player's inability to plant is relevant and maybe 1-2 similar plays for OSU.

How could this be true? Theories:

  • Michigan has guys who rely on sharp cuts more often. Manningham's a double move guy. Breaston's entire football usefulness is built around his ability to change direction faster than anyone else. Hart is a low-to-the-ground, compact back in a running game that demands wild changes of direction fairly regularly. Meanwhile, Pittman and Wells are more north-south guys and Ginn just runs straight past people.
  • OSU's used to playing on crappy turf, having dealt with this issue all year (OSU's resodded twice). Maybe they know what they can and can't do when you're on the football equivalent of ice levels in Super Mario Brothers.

Now let's not get all PSU here. Unless this is a brilliant conspiracy launched as soon as word of a zone rushing game reached OSU coaches' ears that sacrificed an entire year of reasonable field conditions and was immediately followed by the installation of fieldturf, the conditions were more fortuitous than a dark plot. But it's clear that the conditions harmed Michigan more than they did Ohio State.

This will no doubt lead to an assertion that "both teams played on the same field," but if Michigan installed a field that randomly shot white-clad players in the kneecap you would agree that this is not a situation that impacts both teams equally, yes?


Charts. Henne:

Vandy 4 9 5 4 0 0 5
CMU 4 8 2 1 1 1 1
Notre Dame 6 10 2 2 0 1 3
Wisconsin 5 16 2 1 3 1 1
Minnesota 5 13 2 0 3 0 1
Michigan State 2 9 5 0 0 0 1
Penn State 3 16 6 1 3 4 1
Iowa 1 26 2 4 1 1 2
Northwestern 4 10 3 2 1 2 0
Indiana 6 4 3 1 0 0 1
Ohio State 6 22 3 2 2 1 7
TROY SMITH 4 26 2 1 0 0 1

The difference between the two quarterbacks comes in the final column. Smith hardly ever had things filed "PR" because even when get got "PR-ed" he usually got off a short hitch to Gonzalez or Hall or Ginn or whoever because we couldn't cover long enough for unblocked blitzers to be useful. Henne, on the other hand, got swamped by linemen:

Protection: 34/55. Kraus -4, Ecker -1, Riley -7, Long -2, Mitchell -3, Bihl -1, assorted miscellaneous.

Some of that was just the scheme: Michigan's routes need time to develop. Primary reads on each play are long gainers and our little checkdown routes are slow-developing crosses. Henne spent vastly more time with the ball in his hand than Smith did. Some of that was just bad play. some of that was no doubt Henne-caused, as there were a few more instances of run-around-uselessly theater (though, like Navarre, Henne has started to indicate that he's getting better at this late in his junior season: see the Ecker touchdown).

(Question for peanut gallery: I'm thinking about adding a "marginal" category. It would live in-between "CA" and "IN" and exist for throws that are, well, marginal, like a slant that's completed but forces the wide receiver off his feet to catch it, removing the possibility of YAC. Yes/no? I'm bothered by the huge range of throws in the "CA" category.)

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Breaston 1 0 1/1 2/2 4 1/4 4/4 27/30
Manningham 4 0/1 1/3 7/7 6 1/4 5/7 11/14
Arrington 1 0/1 2/2 4/4 5 2/6 4/6 21/21
Massey 0 1/1 - - 1 1/1 0/2 4/4
Butler 1 0 1/1 2/2 5 1 1/3 9/10
Ecker 0 0 0 2/3 0 0 0 3/4
Mathews - - - - 2 0/1 2/2 4/4
Hart 0 0 0 2/2 0 0 0 9/9
Grady - - - - 0 0 0 1/1

A good day from the receivers, who got a ton more work in this game than any previous. Only one drop of a 3.


Well, if you had told me we would score 39 points I would have kissed the man. And even in the aftermath he revealed himself to be anything but a run-first curmudgeon when Michigan isn't being mind-bogglingly arrogant. DeBord used the pass to set up the run and this worked. We marched down the field mostly through the air on the first drive, and from that point on Hart picked up a number of huge gains on draw plays. He established Henne and Manningham as threats early and forced Ohio State to defend everything. I have few quibbles with anything DeBord did.

I do have some questions:

  • We didn't run play-action once. How bizarre is that? Henne's throwing the ball all over creation and there's not so much as the token draw fake we throw out there nearly constantly. No waggle, either, even though Vernon Gholston displayed a predilection for being wildly irresponsible about it.
  • I swear to God if I see another zone stretch in three-wide on third and short I am going to short-circuit. How many drives this year died at the hands of that call? I'm going to revisit this in the offseason, youbetcha.
  • The screen and Hart dumpoff nearly vanished from the playbook this year. That's understandable because the passing game spent much of the year in mothballs and why screen when they expect you to run every first and second down, but I still miss it.

That was the Michigan "scoring offense," and it scored. Next year, when our number of reliable cornerbacks dips to zero and quarterback pressure becomes less of a given -- in short, when our defense does not destroy (almost) all comers -- it will have to be deployed all game long, especially with a senior Henne.

How come we never throw over the middle?

What, are you stuck in 2005? This time-tested complaint should be shelved until 2008. Henne is now probing the middle of the fiel d on digs, crosses, seams, and posts with frequency and success. Yes, this is a reminder for the first game of 2007, when we run a really boring offense against a MAC school and everyone freaks out.

What does it mean for Probably LSU?

An interesting note on LSU's pass defense: it has faced no one who even approaches competent save Chris Leak. (We all agree to discard Brandon Cox from that category, right? Right.) Eric Ainge missed UT's game against the Tigers. Jonathan Crompton stepped in, but not very well.

Leak was held in check -- 17/26 with an interception for 155 yards -- but that's partially because Tim Tebow ganked his touchdowns. If we face the Tigers I'll provide a fuller breakdown, but a cursory glance at their opponents reveals a virtual who's who of D-I's worst passing offenses. Wait... make that worst offenses, period.

Anyway: Chad Henne was deployed fully for the first time since the Notre Dame game and turned in an impressive performance. He has total command of his reads and routes. His accuracy is greatly improved. His pocket awareness... needs work but is improving. So aerial fiesta against LSU? Maybe. The issue the game will turn on will be protection. Michigan struggled to keep Henne clean and LSU presents a similar challenge -- 7th nationally in sacks and just generally very LSU-y, which is to say good God they're terrifying.