Upon Further Review: Offense vs Penn State Comment Count

Brian October 22nd, 2008 at 3:30 PM

Note: I finally gave in and decided to make UFR even more complicated. I've added a passing category: "MA". MA stands for "marginal" and fills what I've always thought was a vacancy between "catchable" balls that are decent, routine throws, and "inaccurate" throws that are just no-hopers. Sometimes you can throw a ball that's caught and still have performed sub-optimally.

Also, a note: Penn State will use a formation with two linebackers, two sort of wing players who are S or LB or hybrids over inside receivers, and then two corners with a deep safety for much of the game. I dubbed this their nickel package even though most of the time one of the "safeties" was actually a linebacker. I probably need to work on distinguishing between formations and packages.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M14 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Hitch Odoms 1
Michigan will go with this formation for much of the game: slot receivers on the LOS and the outside ones off the line with Minor in the backfield next to Threet. On the first play, Threet hits Odoms on a hitch for about four yards plus whatever Odoms can get after the catch; Odoms tries to get around the corner over Mathews—also running a hitch—and to the outside but is run down after giving back three yards. Actually a good idea; Mathews took a crappy angle, stepping upfield and allowing the guy right past him. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M15 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read veer Minor 20
The other formation they used a lot is a formation with the slots off the line nearly stacked over the outside WRs, obviously an attempt to combat the Illinois-style bubble defense employed earlier this year. There's no special trick to this play: it's the same zone read veer they've run a lot so far; the weakside defensive end stumbles and Minor shoots into the secondary. Poor play from the PSU LBs; good blocks by Ortmann (out at tackle again; McAvoy is back at guard) and Molk. Minor(+1) then clocks the safety after 11 yards and runs through a linebacker, picking up another ten.
M35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Bubble screen Mathews 6
Or whatever: Mathews doesn't actually go anywhere; he does have Koger as a lead blocker. Safety fills pretty quickly but still a decent gain. (CA, 3, screen)
M41 2 6 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read keeper Threet 5
Exact same play Minor took for 20 but Threet keeps it this time; the DE crashes down and Threet can meander for a few yards and the first down.
M46 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Wheel Koger 16
This is only vaguely a wheel, but the idea is the same, with Koger moving up the sideline as Mathews draws coverage to a short post. Threet's pass is well behind Koger, forcing him to come up short and make a sliding catch. Thrown in stride, this could have gone for 10, 20 more yards. (MA, 2, protection 1/2, team -1). Real late blitz recognition and pickup from the line on this, BTW.
O38 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Dive Minor 3
This is not zone blocked, it's gap blocked, with Moosman pulling around Molk and into a hypothetical gap between McAvoy and Molk. This gap doesn't really exist as Molk(-1) lets his guy get to the spot. Minor(+1) does a good job of making two yards after contact.
O35 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run QB off tackle Threet 5
Same play we saw Sheridan run a few times last week. Michigan gets a major gap as the playside DT steps upfield, expecting a Minor run that would go to the other side of the line, and gets himself sealed. Unfortunately, McAvoy(-1) completely whiffs on the linebacker; he closes and tackles after just five yards.
O30 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read keeper Threet 1
Veer action this time; DE crashes down and Threet keeps it; S Scirotto shoots up, however, chopping Threet down a yard from the sticks. If Threet isn't a gimpy gumpy guy probably a first down.
O29 4 1 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Iso Minor 1
Man press with one deep safety; Minor(+2) gets met two yards in the backfield by two tacklers... and bounces out of it, making the first down by half a length of the ball. On replay it's clear a slant from PSU's D beats McAvoy and Moosman, maybe Molk too, and gets a DL and a blitzing linebacker into Minor.
O28 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run QB off tackle Threet 5
Looks like the same playcall from PSU, as the line slants left and there's a linebacker shooting to backside; Michigan runs right at it. The the slant gives easy angles to block the DE and DT; Schilling reads the play correctly and picks up the blitzing OLB; Minor punches the MLB back. Scirroto again charges up, tackling too soon; Threet did slip as he attempted a cut.
O23 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read veer Minor 9
Same thing—DL slant plus backside blitz—on this play but the other direction, as Minor is lined up to the other side. Michigan runs the veer at it, which holds the OLB outside just long enough for Minor to shoot through the hole; with the blitz/slant there's no one until the second level.
O14 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run QB off tackle Threet 5
Flooding the wide side of the field here with three WRs and Koger; Koger is covered up and can't go downfield. They back off on this snap but still are shooting the DTs right upfield in anticipation of a stretch or something, and sealing themselves right out of the play. The DE isn't handled very well, as he drives into the backfield against two players and delays McAvoy's downfield release but the DT's cooperation has made that moot. Koger(+1) has gotten a great block on the MLB; McAvoy gets an OLB, but Minor peels off because he thinks the OLB is going to get through and ends up blocking no one; the safety comes up to tackle.
O9 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Minor 4
Same gap-blocked dive from earlier; Moosman(-1) is beaten by his guy to the outside; Minor(+1) runs through his diving tackle attempt and picks up four.
O5 3 1 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Minor 5
They again get the jump on the PSU DL, hopping outside—away from where Koger is lined up, this breaks a tendency—and getting McAvoy(+1) to seal the weakside DE. Ortmann blocks off the OLB—who must contain to the outside and does—and Moundros shoots up into the hole, chopping the safety. The MLB can't quite get there in time—I think Moosman got a tug on him that went uncalled—and Minor leaps into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 6 min 1st Q. 14 play, 86 yard touchdown drive. Jebus.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Wheel Odoms Inc
Poor snap from Molk delays Threet's rollout here; Odoms runs a short out, then wheels upfield against the safety. He's open by a good step or two; Threet, unset, chucks it at him. The ball is dangerously short and inside, falling incomplete. Threet had time to get his body moving to the LOS and could have taken another second, then taken the shot deep. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M45 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 36
Zone blocked here and not the veer; Minor takes the handoff headed upfield and Penn State's defensive tackles fight inside. This provides a major hole between Molk and Ortmann. Meanwhile, the MLB has started heading backside to contain Threet as the DE is selling out on Minor; the SLB is ably blocked by McAvoy. We actually get a hat on a safety—Koger this time—and Minor shoots into the secondary, running over the linebacker in the process.
O19 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Long handoff Stonum 3
Pretty quick reaction here by the CB holds it down. (CA, 3, screen)
O16 2 7 Shotgun trips Nickel Run QB off tackle Threet 3
Crease here is considerably smaller but still exists as Molk gets to the correct side of the DT and manages to hold his ground just well enough. McAvoy and Minor, however, both run past the SLB; he comes in and tackles from an angle.
O13 3 4 Shotgun 2-back Nickel Run Zone read stretch McGuffie -1
Think this playcall might be a little too obvious? They've seen quite a bit of McGuffie on the zone stretch and this is the first play he's seen. Penn State freaks out as soon as they see the action of the play. With the WLB shooting playside and the DE's shoulders turned, Threet really needs to keep this. If he does, first down easy. Instead he hands off. The WLB's quick reaction gives Schilling little chance to cut him and there's no frontside crease with Molk losing the battle against the DT this time. He's forced to try, though, and ends up losing a yard.
Drive Notes: Field Goal(26), 10-0, 4 min 1st Q. Penn State gets an illegal substitution penalty, taking the ball down to the nine, and Rodriguez still kicks. Error, IMO.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor 3
Molk(-1) does not get the DT sealed this time, causing a lead-blocking McGuffie to try to help out on that instead of blocking the crashing safety; McAvoy's downfield block is a poor one and the two LBs converge.
M25 2 7 Shotgun 2-back Nickel Pass Skinny post Rogers 23
James Rogers? Okay. Penn State blitzes two; the line picks it up. Threet waits for a moment, finding Rogers coming open as he clears the short zone. Good throw and catch. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read veer Min -1
Again, Threet needs to keep this as the DE has given up contain. He doesn't and Minor tries to find a path more up the middle. No dice, as the DT has beaten Molk(-1) and the other one has blown back Moosman(-1).
M47 2 11 Shotgun 2-back Nickel Pass PA wheel Odoms 27
They do triple option action, faking the dive and sending McGuffie into the flat. By the time the safety-LB guy on Odoms recognizes it Odoms is already to him and he's reduced to chasing; Threet hits him for major yards. (DO, 3, protection 2/2.) They love Odoms on this route, especially against these LB/safety types, and you can see why: dude is open all day.
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run QB off tackle Threet 1
Ortmann(-1) beaten by the linebacker who comes up tight to the LOS; the other LB is attacking the hole from the snap and delivers a blow to Minor instead of the other way around.
O25 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read keeper Threet 6
Slightly different variation here as the backside DE does get blocked; the MLB bites heavily on the dive action, allowing Threet outside of him. If Threet's faster, blah blah you know the drill.
O19 3 3 Shotgun empty Nickel Run QB off tackle Threet 14
Great block by Molk(+2) here, getting playside of a DT lined up a foot outside of him and holding him off long enough for a crease to form. McAvoy's excellent cut block on the MLB is almost unnecessary since Moosman is out there with a great angle to block the same guy; Minor(+1) does an excellent job on the safety-type object.
O5 1 G Shotgun 2-back trips Nickel Run Busted play Threet 2
The formation in which Mathews is covered up. Shaw is in on this and I think he's supposed to take a dive handoff but instead just shoots forward looking to block someone. Threet follows for a couple yards.
O3 2 G I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Iso Minor 2
Koger covered. Molk sort of beaten on this one but manages to recover okay and get the DT's motion stalled, at which point Moundros(+1) blows into the pair of them, shoving them backwards. That provides enough of a crease for Minor to thump up into the hole; he falls just short of the goal line.
O1 3 G I-Form twins Goal line Run Iso Minor 1
DT shooting forward and falling in an attempt to get instant penetration; Michigan is running off the guard so this is an advantage. Big crease, but an unblocked linebacker in the hole. Minor hammers him, falling into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-7, 13 min 2nd Q. It was fun while it lasted. Goodbye, offense.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Hitch and go Stonum Inc
Straight dropback with good protection; Threet is staring it down all the way, but there's a reason: he pumps. Double move coming. It comes, and... it's blanketed. Threet throws it anyway, and it's long and OOB. Should have come down to someone else, IMO. This could be IN, TA, or BR. Uh. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
M24 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 4
This isn't actually a veer but ends up turning into one, basically, as the backside DE gets blocked but is replaced by the weakside LB, held outside by Threet. Schilling(+1) gets an excellent, driving block on the DE, providing the space and momentum for the yardage here; the frontside was jammed up.
M28 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Sack -- -3
Threet has decent protection, decides to throw... and changes his mind a the last second, awkwardly bringing the ball down. After some scrambling around he's sacked; he tries one of those crazy Mallett plays, flipping the ball to Minor, but it's after his knee is down. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 10 min 2nd Q. McDonough says “that's the kind of risky play this young offense might want to avoid,” which is about as gently as you can put it.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor 1
We're back to the stuff we did a lot against Notre Dame with a scoop on the playside DT effectively sealing him. The playside DE runs right out of the play, opening up a big hole, but Koger(-1) gets owned by the LB to this side, shucked and destroyed, and Minor's cut(-1) is pretty stiff, allowing the guy to close and tackle near the LOS. Minor's done a lot of things McGuffie can't do in this game but this is a play on which we'd be better off with the little slasher (and even better off with, say, a junior TE who will hold this block and turn it into a big gainer).
M29 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Miscommunication Odoms Inc
Threet thinks Odoms is running the wheel again; he pulls up on a hitch. Uh... (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
M29 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Seam Koger Inc
Ortmann(-2) smoked one on one by the DE, forcing an early throw from Threet. Hit as he throws, the ball sails. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor 5
Another good hole as Molk seals off the PSU DT. Koger gets beat, though, forcing Minor upfield into the hole and away from the attempted downfield blocks of McAvoy and Schilling.
M29 2 5 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 1
Penn State just smokes this play. Molk beat, no downfield release, Schilling beaten too. Four PSU defenders meet Minor at the LOS.
M30 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Draw Minor -2
Penn State blitzes right into this; not a big fan of this on a third and short-ish when you've been running it all day.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Busted play Threet 2
Possibly the worst two yard gain in history: Threet fumbles a bad snap, rolls out as a blitzing linebacker overruns him, fumbles the ball again, and then falls on it.
M19 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Minor 12
Penn State caught slanting away from the play; the playside DT helpfully shoots past Molk going the wrong way. Gaping hole on the frontside, then, and easy blocks downfield for Koger and McAvoy that they actually make; I'll even provide McAvoy a +1 for his. Minor into the secondary.
M32 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass PA Hitch Stonum 6
Almost a long handoff except Stonum actually runs like three yards downfield. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M38 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run QB off tackle Threet 13
Molk(+1) gets the reach block again, sealing the DT well enough to crease the line. Blitzing WLB falls down and takes himself out of the play; Minor(+1) pops the MLB good, and I really wish we had some fast dude at QB as Threet lopes into the secondary.
O49 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 3
This is kind of a similar play to the stretch except Minor is lined up on the other side of Threet and just dives straight up the field. This time the PSU DT guesses right and there's no help from McAvoy on the guy; Minor avoids the tackle, but he's been slowed by the avoidance and is closed in on by the unblocked guy on the backside and the DE, who beat Ortmann.
O46 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Sack -- -6
Protection is actually decent, but Threet pulls the ball down for the second time. He had room to roll around, maybe, but since he was trying to throw he didn't take it; he gets sacked. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
M48 3 13 Shotgun trips Dime Pass Screen Odoms 5
Koger(-1) completely whiffs his block, which convinces Moosman to try to take the same guy, I guess, and leaves another defensive back totally unfettered as he attacks the ballcarrier.(CA, 3, screen.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 11 min 3rd Q. This is actually a pretty respectable drive right here but it's killed by the opening field position: Avery Horn's crappy return set Michigan back. He gets out to the 28 or wherever the average is—it's around there—and Michigan has fourth and eight from the opponent 36 and should go for it. Note that Horn fields a kick six yards in his own endzone on the next KO, fumbles it, and STILL BRINGS IT OUT.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Minor 15 (Pen-8)
Sheridan. Dammit. Molk beaten on this one, driven back such that there will be no crease; Minor tries to hop outside and does, but only because Ortmann(-1) tackled the DE. Holding is called.
M8 1 18 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run QB off tackle Sheridan 0
DT again beats Molk. This can't be a halftime adjustment, because it likely would have happened at halftime. I guess PSU is just guessing right.
M8 2 18 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Zone read keeper Sheridan -2
DB/LB lined up over Koger shoots forward at the snap because it's Nick Sheridan, right, and he's not going to throw, and thus gets in on Sheridan's keeper immediately.
M6 3 20 Shotgun 2-back Nickel Pass Sack -- -6
They slide the protection, leaving both backs in against a four-man rush; Ortmann(-1) loses a stunting DE and McGuffie(-1) uselessly piles on a cut DT, leaving him an avenue up the middle. Sheridan does his part by standing around waiting to get crushed. (I'm not charting this guy anymore... what's the point?)
Drive Notes: Safety, 17-19, 4 min 3rd Q. Sheridammit.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Minor -3
Penn State now in soft man with one deep, keying three LBs on the run. Both Moosman and McAvoy(-1 each) get driven back and there's no crease up the middle; Minor attempts to cut back and is swarmed.
M17 2 13 ??? ??? Pass Rollout hitch Stonum 8
We miss much of this play for a reply; when we come back Sheridan is tossing a one-yard hitch to Stonum; Stonum squeezes up the sideline for a few more (no damn charts)
M25 3 5 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Hitch Mathews Inc
This is way inaccurate but I don't know what Mathews is doing on this play either; he doesn't even look for the ball.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-26, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Minor 7
Threet back in. As soon as he goes out again charting is over. Grady the second back in the game this time and used as a blocker. Slightly different scheme on this play with the backside DT getting doubled by the RT and RG and blown back; the frontside guy is expecting a stretch and hops to the other side of Molk. Grady shoots backside to block the DE who's normally given the zone read threat. WLB is held outside by the keeper threat, and the MLB, also expecting a stretch, runs himself out of the play. Minor has a crease and uses it.
M28 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Minor -2
Molk(-1) beaten badly by the DT, ceding ground directly into Minor's path; Minor doesn't have a cutback with the backside DE selling out and unwisely tries to go around Molk instead of slamming it up the middle in an attempt to get like a yard or two. Threet could have kept this, too, I guess, though he's banged up. The announcers keep going on as if anyone would ever put Sheridan in the game by choice.
M26 3 5 Shotgun 2-back Nickel Pass Sack -- -7
Ortmann(-3) smoked around the corner; Threet gets it stripped from the blindside; Penn State recovers. (PR, 0, protection 0/3)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-26, 13 min 3rd. Sheridan returns with Penn State holding a three-score lead; game over, who cares, I'm not doing the rest of this.

 Well, that fell apart.

Yeah, yeah it did. But I'm actually pretty encouraged. As I mentioned in the preview, Penn State's stats are a little hard to take seriously given the competition they've faced but that's still going to be a substantially above-average defense when the season's over. And, sure, Michigan stalled out after those glorious three opening drives but how much of that was Sheridan being generally overwhelmed? Here's the M offense as led by Threet:

  • 86-yard touchdown drive
  • 49-yard field goal drive
  • 78-yard touchdown drive
  • three-and-out
  • three-and-out
  • three-and-out
  • 36 yard drive to midfield
  • three-and-out punctuated by blindside fumble.

This is not exactly Tulsa, but it is 253 yards and 17 points (with terrible field position) in just over a half of work. He stays in the game and Michigan could approach 30 and 400 yards against a good D.

Now… I think that's a little optimistic since Penn State adapted to Michigan's newly newfangled MINOR RAGE rushing attack, but that was actually pretty encouraging given the opponent, venue, and situation.

Speaking of Threet: Chart?


There's not a lot of it, with Michigan running successfully much of the day and Sheridan seeing the bulk of the second half. I'm not charting Sheridan anymore, by the way, as there's no point. We're very clear on his deficiencies by now and he won't see the field again after this year unless he's the last survivor of a meteor impact.

Anyway, Threet:

As always, the Threetsheridammit chart legend.


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

That's not a bad day, especially on the road against a good defense, but it's also not a huge sample size. Two of those "TAs" were drive killers where Threet cocked to throw, then decided against it and got sacked.

For guidance on what I mean by "MA": the MA in this game was the Koger wheel route that was well behind the receiver. Koger adjusted to it and dug it out, but Threet's throw took Koger off his feet, made it a difficult catch, and robbed Michigan of the opportunity for 10 yards of YAC. So it's not so bad that it's inaccurate, but it's not a run of the mill CA, either. Sometimes I would annotate CAs with a + or –; these are going to be the CA- events.

Here's your PROTECTION METRIC: 15/21, Team –1, Ortmann -5.

That might look ugly, but –5 of that game on two plays where Ortmann was beaten badly by Evans, one of which resulted in the game-killing sack/fumble. Everyone else was actually pretty decent.

And 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
Clemons - - - - 3 - 0/2 6/6
Stonum 1 - - 2/2 4 0/3 3/3 5/5
Mathews - - - 1/1 6 2/6 4/6 13/14
Hemingway - - - - 1 0/2 2/2 -
Odoms 2 - - 3/3 11 0/1 3/4 22/24
Babb - - - - - 0/1 1/1 1/1
Savoy - - - - - - - 1/2
Rogers - - - 1/1 - - - 1/1
Butler - - - - 2 1/1 0/1 2/2
Koger 1 - 1/1 - 3 0/1 2/2 1/2
McGuffie - - - - 3 - 2/2 15/15
Brown - - - - - - - 3/3
Shaw - - - - - - - 4/4
Minor - - - - 2 0/1 1/2 3/3
Moundros - - - - 2 - - 1/1

No drops; few opportunities to do so. One good catch from Koger.

Okay, and all that…

Is basically irrelevant for this game, as Michigan was heavily ground-based.

Does it worry you we're getting shut down after initial success?

This was similar to the Illinois game, where Michigan ripped off a couple of touchdown drives and then picked up bupkis the rest of the game. Trend? Coincidence? What?

My theory: Michigan is implementing portions of a whole gameplan trying to find something that works. They then practice the hell out of their plan and break it out, finding early success.

However, I, and I think a lot of other Michigan fans, thought "I really hope they have a curveball coming up" in the second quarter; they did not. Once you get past the game plan, Michigan has no backup. So we've seen teams adjust to the offense and have success stopping it. 

When does the backup plan come in? Well, 1) when Threet's elbow gremlins step off, and 2) when these guys get past the training wheels stage and have a base they can fall back on. We've seen the offense expand, or at  least move, as the season has progressed, but when they go back to the old stuff they haven't repped over the past few weeks they're not sharp. That sharpness will only come with time.

My hope is that this MINOR RAGE offense is something they can work from as a baseline. I think they've found an effective rushing offense that's going to move forward most of the time—even when rushing plays didn't work that well against PSU the result was usually a 2 or 3 yard gain, not the epic losses from previous games—and must be defended foremost. From there Michigan can add in racing stripes and a spoiler and maybe move away from the basement of total offense rankings.

I think they've got something to build on now. As long as the gremlins cooporate.


Minor leapt from fumblebot to likely starter from here on out. I thought Molk had a largely excellent day against a good opponent, and this was one of Threet's better days.


Threet's elbow gremlin. You're a dick, elbow gremlin! Hear me? You're a dick! Also, Ortmann got smoked on that last killer sack.

What does this mean for MSU and beyond?

I think I blew my wad on this already, but I think the ability of Michigan to run right at Penn State with pretty good success can be the foundation of a solid offense. If Michigan can force a seventh guy in the box opponents will have to run a man free, which Michigan should try to exploit deep with Stonum or Odoms, or run a two-deep zone with linebackers in the box, which should be bubble screen party time.

Before opponents other than Notre Dame could sell out on the bubble screen, keep two deep safeties, and hurt the running game. That's no way to win football games. Now we might have a basis for a real offense.




October 22nd, 2008 at 4:38 PM ^


Brian, would you have liked to see Feagin come in and burn a redshirt yearfor a player that will (if things work out with next year's recruits) not play anyways?

Or how about just put McGuffie in at QB since Sheridan can't throw at all?

(These are in instances that the Gremlins come out)


October 22nd, 2008 at 5:00 PM ^

McGuffie should get thrown into the hero section just because of that catch, which probably would have at least been mentioned in the UFR if Sheridan hadn't made things so bad that Brian decided it wasn't worth the agony of reliving the final drives. With all the people dropping balls these days, he should get a medal for holding onto that one.


October 22nd, 2008 at 6:46 PM ^

Minor plowing people over like he had something to prove and dammit no one was going to get in his way is the highlight of the season to me.  It's something the rest of the team can build off of.  Fall down, get back up, then fucking annihilate what's in your path.


October 22nd, 2008 at 10:27 PM ^

couple things,

first the g-scheme play you were talking about is the one back way of running an isso,  its a j-block from the lb's perspective, but think of it as "power running game"  form a spread 1 back formation...  just another wrinkle that is slowly being added..   the power running game is a big part of RR ground game..  soon i expect  you will see a entire counter look with the zone read...joker scheme we call it.  to get two extra blockers to run side, with the qb keep as an option if the pullers are chased.

also that defense was nothing more than just a 4-4  scheme..  i dont know if that is what penn state usually bases out of, or if it was just waht they were running against michigan... 


October 22nd, 2008 at 10:01 PM ^

Shock---completely agree with the Minor sentiments. Seeing him bullrush and run over linebackers and safeties brought a smile to my face for awhile, until the impending doom that is Sheridan ran onto the field. Hopefully the entire team picks up on this.


October 22nd, 2008 at 10:37 PM ^

I like the addition of the MA on the AnybodyButSheridan chart.  It adds nice symmetry to the 0/1/2/3 of the receiver grading. We now have 'clean toss with the intent to complete' (DO, CA, MA, and IN) and 'something happened' (BR, TA, BA, and PR.)

 Perhaps relabel the receiving chart to DO, CA, MA, and IN? 


October 22nd, 2008 at 10:45 PM ^

Here are some things I pondered while reading this UFR and the subsequent comments:


  • Was the stall-out of our offense similar to the Illinois game where we ran out of tricks or was it directly related to Nick Sheridan being the worst QB to ever start a game in B10 history? 
  • Is it possible to use a red-shirt in your second year of eligibility if it isn't for medical reasons?  If so, I'd play Feagin at QB this year and redshirt him next year while he learns to be a DB.  If not, I'd still play him this year.  No offense to him and not to sound impersonal, but the team needs to win and develop now - saving a redshirt for a guy that might be a back-up DB when you're desperate at QB seems unnecessary.  Put him out there if Threet gets hurt and hope for the best down the road.  We don't have the luxury of waiting at that position.
  • I don't know how much of it is the routes, the blocking, the QB, the plays, or the WR themselves but I've been disappointed in our WR play.  Sure we didn't expect freshmen to block, but other than Odoms I've been disappointed. Stonum has done nothing and Matthews isn't playing the "Jason Avant/Marquise Walker" role of catching balls over the middle to move the chains. 

I was thinking about how you could do a UFR for special teams.  At this point in the season I'm playing the "what if" game in my mind related purely to special teams performance.  What if our special teams had just been average this season???  Think about it:

  • Fumbles on KR and PR against ND.
  • Missed FG against ILL and TOL.
  • Bobbles on punts
  • No return yardage
  • Watching the KR wedge run down field before the returner even gets the ball, thus negating their benefit.
  • Watching Avery Horn return kicks with his head up his ass
  • Consistent kick-offs landing at the 10 and then having a 20-25 yard return each time. 
  • Watching our 5th string TE stupidly shove a guy and turn the PSU game around. 

If you improve those areas just a little we could be 4-3 instead of 2-5.  I thought special teams would be a strength under RR since I thought Carr got conservative and lazy in that area with his staff.  While we have blocked some kicks and punted well, we've otherwise been horrible.


October 22nd, 2008 at 11:34 PM ^

Could someone explain what Brian means when he refers to the "zone read veer" as oppossed to the zone read with normal zone blocking?


October 23rd, 2008 at 9:41 AM ^

the hb and qb are going  to the same side as the read. As opposed to the qb cross reading the backside end.  the end that is being read is on the playside.    the tackle down blocks,  the qb gives if the end stays outside, if he crases the qb keeps and goes outside of him...    veer simply means a down block... with a back running right off of the downblocks butt..  




October 23rd, 2008 at 5:47 AM ^

I also think you might be able to explain their good halves and quarters by saying that the semblance of talent they do have converges for a short time, and they inexplicably look good. In nearly every game this season, you can point to at least a quarter where this has happened. It hasn't just been in the first half. Like with Utah or Wisconsin, it has also happened in the 4th quarter. The team has looked very schizophrenic at times, and when the team does look good, it's usually when Threet is accurate and the line comes together and we start reeling off big chunks of yards and have really nice things go our way. A lot of momentum seems to build. Nothing can go right and then suddenly Threet's ripping off a 50 yard run and we get the most fortuitous interception return for a touchdown. As with Penn State and Illinois, however, it might have to do with the opening gameplan and then we slowly stall for a variety of reasons.


October 23rd, 2008 at 7:35 AM ^

I suspect that the two times Threet got sacked after cocking his arm and then deciding against throwing at the last second were the result of his elbow gremlins making it clear that if he followed through, the ball could end up anywhere or nowhere.


October 23rd, 2008 at 3:41 PM ^

Things I think we learned (other than what has already been said)

1. Oh, so that is why Minor was still getting carries. You mean he can be a good running back? Its not like anyone (including McGuffie) was so dominant (like Mike Hart BBHN) that the position was locked up.

2. I love Stonum, Matthews, Odoms, Koger, Threet, Minor and McGuffie for our skill spots. Think about that versatility. All of them can catch. Minor and Koger seem to be decent blockers. You can switch McGuffie for Moundros for another blocker and either run Minor or pass. If our O-line comes together, I think our offense will be top ten in the country next year (I know that is a big IF). Now if Beaver or Forcier are amazingly precocious, well then look the fuck out world.

3. If Three doesn't get hurt against Toledo, I think we still lose to Penn State, but we beat Toledo, and we are sitting at 3-4, which is right where I think this team should be.


October 26th, 2008 at 3:08 PM ^


 The formation you described PSU using in this game sounds like the "Bearcat" formation that we used when I played FS in college- crappy D3, but still.  Anyways, it's a variation of the 3-3-5 Stack(or "Air Force") base defense.  We took one of our OLBs and had them reduce the front or put a hand down, and shifted the LBs.  PSU, with their talent at DE, probably used MAybin or Gaines instead of an OLB with their hand down.  Then, the two "wing" guys, as you called them, were larger SS or smaller OLBs.  It's a variation on the Air Force, and we used it when we were facing teamsthat ran ZRO or otherwise tried tospread us horizontally and run.

 Hope that helps