Upon Further Review: Offense vs SDSU Comment Count

Brian September 29th, 2011 at 2:53 PM

THING OF THE WEEK. No thing.  :(

Formation Notes: So here's this:

trips-te-rb

See that guy way at the top of the screen? That's Hopkins. WTF? I don't know. Michigan showed a half-dozen snaps with this formation, often motioning the RB (sometimes it was McColgan) out of the backfield to his position on the edge of forever. They didn't seem to use this for anything.

As for SDSU, I gave this a passing mention in the Toussaint picture pages and here it is again: this was not what I expected the 3-3-5 to be. As you can see above, SDSU would often align in a four-man front—the above is over-shifted—by using one of their teeny linebackers as a standup DE. Only rarely did they deploy a true stack:

sdsu-stack

They did blitz off this to create different fronts, but mostly it was an array of standard fronts run with really small guys. I was disappointed—I wanted to see what this thing was all about.

Michigan didn't bust out much else worth noting.

Substitution Notes: Nothing out of the ordinary save Watson supplanting Moore at the second TE spot. Not good for next year—he's a senior. Smith and Toussaint got the vast bulk of the RB snaps, with Hopkins getting a few. Hopkins also saw a little time at FB. Schofield came in for Barnum after he got injured.

At WR it was the usual.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 man Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
Late shift by SDSU sees backside end slide towards the C and a linebacker come down over Koger. Seems like a D meant to defend ZRD and it does. Backside LB scrapes over to take Robinson; handoff. Late-shifted DE has an advantage on Huyge on the backside; Omameh(-1) should have paused to offer a scoop there but thought he was uncovered, which he was until the late shift. Huyge(-0.5) could have done better here, too. RPS -1. RUN-: Omameh, Huyge(0.5)
M41 2 8 Shotgun trips TE 2 1 2 3-3-5 man Run QB power Robinson 3
First of a number of plays that sees a second tailback, this time Hopkins, flare out into a WR position. Michigan never makes this relevant, so its purpose remains a mystery. Man... there are eight guys in the box here and no one deeper than five(!) yards save a corner way out over Hopkins. Robinson checks, flipping Toussaint, and runs power at the overloaded side of the formation. I'm not sure what he thought he saw. Koger(-1) gets beat up by the playside DE, forcing an early cutback from Robinson. Lewan and Barnum(+1) blow the NT up; Lewan does not peel fast enough to take out a linebacker. Molk(+1) seals away the other DT, leaving a cutback lane for Robinson. He takes it; it's filled by the extra guy in the box pursuing down the line and the LB Lewan did not get out on. RPS -1.
RUN+: Barnum, Molk RUN-: Koger
M44 3 5 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 two deep Run QB draw Robinson 19
I thought this was a scramble live but the receivers aren't running routes. Also, Huyge goes after a LB after it's clear he's dropping into a short zone. SDSU blitzes up the middle; Michigan picks it up thanks to Barnum(+2) shoving one guy past where Molk(+1) can pick him up, then popping out on one of the blitzers to shove him past Robinson. Smith(+1) blows up the blitzer to the other side. Robinson(+1) is through the gap Barnum provided. He makes a linebacker miss and is into the secondary. As he's angling away from a pursuing safety one of the linebackers comes back to trip him.
RUN+: Robinson, Barnum(2), Molk, Smith RUN-:
O37 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 man Pass Waggle WR flat Odoms Inc
Open but well overthrown. Not even much pressure on him. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O37 2 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 man Run Zone read dive Smith 32
God, I want Michigan to run QB oh noes to the RB on a streak right up the middle here. Maybe later. SDSU has seven in the box against five blockers, M runs anyway. Backside LB running right at Robinson; handoff. Molk(+2) takes a hit from a lineman and bounces down the line as Omameh(+1) pancakes said DL. Molk shoves a blitzer past Smith. Omameh's blocked a dude with his back as Huyge shoves a man down the line; Lewan(+1) fends off a DE for a long time. Barnum pops out to the second level after letting that LB Molk picked off run by him and does wall off a pursuing LB but no plus since that was easy and he might have screwed up. All this is is just enough for Smith(+3) to have a tiny, tiny crease that he stumbles through inexplicably. Nice thing about getting through seven guys in the box is there is no second level; he runs a long way. RPS -1
RUN+: Molk(2), Lewan, Omameh, Smith(3) RUN-:
O5 1 G Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 5
More of an under look with 3-3-5 personnel. Michigan runs at the 250-pound DE pretending to be a three tech and crushes him. Huyge(+2) gets under the guy and starts crushing him towards the endzone. Omameh(+1) helped, then popped off to steamroll a linebacker. Barnum(+1) pulls around to do the same to another linebacker; Molk(+1) and Watson(+1) kick out their guys to make this easy.
RUN+: Huyge(2), Barnum, Omameh, Watson, Molk RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-3-5 man Pass Fade Roundtree Inc
Tough to complete this with very good coverage from the Aztec corner. Denard floats it up in a decent spot; Roundtree comes underneath the coverage to get a one-handed stab at the ball. Shouldn't they be throwing this to Hemingway, not Roundtree? There are better ways to test this cover zero look. (CA, 1, protection 2/2) BWS picture paged this, though I disagree with the conclusion. More later.
M39 2 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 two deep Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
Not a tunnel screen since this play goes well outside the tackle box. Lewan is flaring out to help; Barnum is supposed to get out there too but gets hung up at the line. Linebackers are gone and Denard hits the easy screen; Lewan can't actually block the corner but does delay him enough for Gallon to scoot upfield for a good chunk. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
M47 2 2 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-4 tight Run Speed option Robinson 53
Outside zone blocking. I'm just saying? I'm just saying. Huyge(+1) and Omameh(+1) execute a beauty scoop block that seals the playside DE and gets Huyge out on the weakside LB. That plus a good block from Koger(+1) on the edge plus two San Diego State guys taking the pitchman means that when Robinson cuts upfield he is one on one with some grass for a touchdown. Credit to Watson(+1), the backside TE, for getting out on the backside safety to remove all doubt. RPS +3.
RUN+: Huyge, Omameh, Watson, Koger, Robinson RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q. Lloyd Brady sighting.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Pass Oh noes hitch Roundtree 10
Draw fake into a ten-yard hitch. Robinson nails it this time; had Hemingway screamingly wide open but his first read is there, so no complaints. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M40 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 6
This should have been a bigger gainer, but Smith made a bad cut. He makes it because Barnum(+1) pancaked the NT and he thinks he can cut back for a big gain. He ends up running into the fallen Barnum and slowing down; doesn't matter too much because Omameh(+1) destroyed the playside G with help from Molk; Huyge(+1) out on the playside LB. Without the delay by Smith(-1) he's out on the corner nearing a first down before being angled OOB. With it the MLB has time to shuck Molk's block and the playside DE has time to recover after getting way upfield.
RUN+: Molk, Barnum, Omameh, Huyge RUN-: Smith
M46 2 4 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 under Pass PA slant Roundtree Inc (Pen +15)
Zone read fake to patterns that SDSU have covered pretty well. Robinson is getting pressure and has to get rid of it. He picks the most open of the routes—still not very open—which is Roundtree's slant and throws a ball that looks like it is sailing high. It's close enough that Roundtree being interfered with matters, though, and Michigan picks up a flag. Not charted since I can't really tell if this is accurate or not. (N/A, 0, protection N/A)
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Run QB iso Robinson 4
Playside DT holds up well enough against a double from Barnum and Molk. They can't seal him away. They do get some push. Outside blitz eliminates one linebacker, leaving two for Smith and the peeling Barnum; they both get blocks. SDSU maintains leverage, forcing it back inside, where the DT makes the tackle. Adequate all around.
O35 2 6 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 3-3-5 under Pass PA dumpoff Smith 8
Gallon lined up as a TE. This does not sucker SDSU: the safeties are moving backwards at the snap. The two guys in the route go deep; Gallon has like three guys surrounding him. No one takes Smith as he leaks out of the backfield, so Robinson checks down when the deep stuff is uber covered. Smith shoots for a first down, then fumbles. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, Smith -3)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 4 (Pen -10)
Late shift inside by the playside DE; he goes straight upfield at Barnum. Barnum seems to throw him to the ground with his strength but picks up a holding call. I guess he's got his arm around the guy's shoulder but he's not pulling it; this seems pretty weak to me. Smith still has to cut upfield behind Barnum's block, which puts him in a bunch of traffic. Omameh(+1) got a good seal on a guy playside of him, which allows Smith(+1) to pick his way for a couple yards. Barnum -1 for allowing the penetration and picking up the flag. On replay this is a really bad penalty. He's not holding the dude, he's pushing him. Refs -2.
RUN+: Omameh, Smith RUN-: Barnum
M19 1 20 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 5-3 stack Pass Quick hitch Roundtree 5
Quick three step strike to Roundtree. Fine on first and ten. First and twenty, though? (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M24 2 15 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-3 stack Pass PA quick seam Koger Inc
Zone read PA gets Koger and Hemingway wide open in the short seams. Robinson takes the easier throw to Koger, nailing him in the numbers. Dropped. If caught a certain first down and maybe more. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
M24 3 15 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Okie Pass Scramble Robinson 11
SDSU stunt gets Barnum blocking no one and almost gets Denard sacked; Molk comes off his guy and manages to hand him to Omameh at the last second to prevent total chaos. Team minus there but pretty decent work by those two. Denard has a lane thanks to a Smith pickup and comes up through the pocket, where a couple spies are. He's got no one open so he takes off. Maybe he had Gallon on an out but not seeing that is no surprise given the heavy pressure. (PR, N/A, protection 1/3, team -2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 6
Lewan and Watson momentarily double the playside DE-type substance (actually a LB), with Lewan chucking him upfield and Watson(+1) sealing. Molk(+1) controls the center well, so there's a crease frontside for Toussaint. Lewan(+1) and Omameh(+1) get good second level blocks; Barnum(-1) gets shoved off balance by his guy, forcing Toussaint to slow up and cut outside of him, where an aggressive safety is there after just a few yards.
RUN+: Lewan, Watson, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Barnum
M25 2 4 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Speed option Toussaint 5
Barnum hurt; Schofield in. Toussaint motions to the option from the opposite side just before the snap. SDSU blitzes into this; Denard(+1) makes sure to suck up the edge guy before pitching. Toussaint(+1) has to dodge the charging safety, which he does; QB guy then gets stiffarmed; pursuit now tackles the slowed Toussaint. Two broken tackles for five yards = RPS -1.
RUN+: Toussaint, Robinson RUN-:
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run QB iso Robinson 3
Oh, man, Robinson misses a huge cutback lane. SLB moves to the line late and blitzes upfield; Koger(+1) kicks him out way out of the picture. SDSU line slants playside, beating Molk(-1) to the point where Smith has to hit this guy on the LOS. Lewan(+1) has managed to get playside of his guy and wall him off, allowing a cutback lane. Robinson(-1) begins to take it but instead of exploding outside into open space he inexplicably bowls over the guy Lewan's blocking.
RUN+: Koger, Lewan RUN-: Molk, Robinson
M33 2 7 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read dive Toussaint 7
Denard misses a keep read. Play still works as Schofield(+1) gets enough of the NT to give Toussaint(+1) a crease he hits speedily; Omameh(+1) kicked out a blitzing LB and Molk nailed the MLB. Safety comes up to hit at the sticks.
RUN+: Schofield, Toussaint, Molk, Omameh RUN-: Robinson
M40 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Busted play Robinson -1
Robinson tries to hand off but Smith thinks it's a pitch. Robinson manages to get somewhere near the LOS.
M39 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass PA RB flat Smith Inc
Blitz gets two guys in Robinson's face immediately and he just dumps it off to the flat thinking that will be open; it's not. This is actually a good throw considering—he's under a lot of pressure and the coverage is there; he places it in a spot where Smith can get it and pick up some YAC if the LB doesn't make the diving PBU, which he does. Instant pressure plus coverage on the hot route == RPS -1. (CA, 0, protection N/A)
M39 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Pass Out Hemingway 9
Half roll does nothing to prevent pressure; Smith does not cut an edge blitzer and Molk(-1) lets another guy through to block no one. Robinson gets lit up. He throws just before that, hitting Hemingway in front of tight coverage. It's a bit high but not so much that Hemingway can't go up and get it. (CA+, 2, protection 0/3, Smith, Schofield, Molk)
M48 4 2 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack Run Speed option Robinson 7
NT goes right by Omameh but is not flat enough to make that count. Molk(+1) slides down the line, finds no one to block, and sets up. He never actually impacts the LB twisting from the inside but delays him with his presence. Lewan(+2) hates the playside donkey, donkeying him into the donkeyground. Koger(+1) kicks out the LB on the end; Robinson slashes up for the first.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Molk, Robinson, Koger. RUN-:
O45 1 10 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 over Run QB power Robinson 34
Robinson sees something he likes and checks. This flips the RB to the strongside; Michigan runs power over there. SDSU twisting, I think. Barnum(+1) adjusts to the twisting DL over him, kicking him down the line and into the guy next to him. That erases both. Lewan(+1), Koger(+1), and Watson(+1) are two on three on guys on the strongside POA and blow those two off the ball. The combination is a cavernous cutback lane for Robinson(+2) that he takes. Molk(+1) has wandered out to the first down line, where he takes out a safety; Robison accelerates behind and is again angling away from the last man when someone trips him from behind.
RUN+: Molk, Barnum(2), Lewan, Koger, Watson, Robinson(2) RUN-:
O11 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 over Run Power off tackle Toussaint 9
SDSU misaligns and does not adjust to TE motion. Lewan(+2) annihilates and pancakes the playside DE. McColgan(+1) kicks out EMLOS. Koger(-1) releases into the MLB and actually gets his butt kicked, falling backwards. This is fortunate as it impedes the progress of the backside DE, who Molk(-1) bumped but did not seriously delay. Toussaint(+1) zips into the hole, steps through an arm tackle, accelerates once clear, and nears the goal line.
RUN+: Lewan(2), McColgan, Toussaint RUN-: Koger, Molk
O2 2 1 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Power off tackle Toussaint 1
SDSU guesses right and gets linemen into the backfield by diving; not much you can do there. This could still make it if Barnum(-1), the puller, doesn't whiff between two linebackers. Toussaint's following him and manages to split those two guys for a moment before they rope him down. Run-: Barnum
O1 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Naked boot Robinson 1
Does not fool two guys on the edge; fools everyone else. Schofield(+1) is left standing, realizes what's happening, and gets out to wall off the interior guy who knows what's going on.
RUN+: Schofield RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read dive Smith 0
No safeties. A 3-4 front and man on the WRs. They twist two DL, getting a guy in to roar down the line like an unblocked EMLOS on a scrape. They also have a linebacker forcing the handoff. Schofield(-1) is beaten badly by the playside DE. DE is in the hole ready to tackle; Smith(-1) should have cut it up behind that block, but realistically that's not much better. Too many guys when you've got five blockers against seven defenders. RPS -2. RUN-: Schofield, Smith
M20 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 3-4 base Run QB power Robinson 8
Huge hole as Koger(+1) and Huyge(+0.5) cave in the playside DE; blitzing LB comes outside and is kicked out by Smith(+0.5). Robinson hits it straight up. Schofield(+1) was pulling and got a downfield block that buries a DL; Koger gets his extra half-point by moving out into the second level. RPS +1; this was wide open.
RUN+: Koger, Huyge(0.5), Schofield, Smith(0.5) RUN-:
M28 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 tight Run QB inside zone Robinson 7
Twist stunt by the playside DE and NT. Schofield(+1) manages to adjust, pushing the DE past the play and giving a last lunge once on his knees that gets that guy to the ground; Molk(+1) rides the twisting NT way out of the play; Denard(+1) sees the crease and hits it. Huyge(+1) got a great driving block on the backside DE; Koger(-0.5) lost the backside LB; Omameh got a decent shove on the MLB. Denard has room for the first and can grab some extra yards before Koger's guy makes an ankle tackle.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Huyge, Robinson RUN-: Koger(0,5)
M35 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read keeper Robinson -3
Major error by Robinson(-3), who was definitely covered and should have given. Toussaint looked like he had a lane for either some yards or a very large number of yards. He manages to pop outside and looks like he will be able to run to the corner but then compounds his error by stopping and trying to cut back against the grain. No sale. Just run to the corner, man, it's not like this SDSU DE is going to catch you. RUN-: Robinson(3)
M32 2 13 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-4 base Pass Rollout curl Jackson Int
Rolling the pocket. I don't know why. This is "smash," which is similar to a curl-flat concept with the outside receiver running a circle route and the inside guy running a corner, but it's against man and Denard stares it down, allowing the underneath guy to sink into the route. It's picked off. It didn't help that the rolling pocket cuts off his reads, makes it harder to find spaces to run, and exposes both backs to cut blocks they miss, pressuring Denard. Stop rolling the pocket, fergodsakes. (BR, 0, protection 1/3, Toussaint, Smith, RPS -2... this route got no receivers open and got Denard pressured.)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-0, 12 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 over Run QB power Robinson 4
Lewan(+2) obliterates the playside DE. He is not slanting and he ends up on his chest yards away from where he started. His block is so good it's a problem for Schofield, who gets clipped by the donkey Lewan is hating and can't get out on the MLB. File under one of those things. Omameh(-2) should be there to pick up the slack but even though it looks like he looks right at him he moves on to someone else. Instead of hitting a crease up the middle Denard has to bounce away from the MLB, robbing Hopkins of his angle on the other LB. Koger(+1) got a good driving kickout that put a guy on his butt, too.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Koger(2) RUN-: Omameh(2)
M28 2 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Pass PA FB flat Koger Inc
Playside LB gets straight upfield, pressuring Denard. This opens up the FB flat for probably first down yardage; Denard misses entirely. (IN, 0, protection N/A)
M28 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Pass TE Hitch Koger Int
Roundtree starts in the backfield before motioning out. SDSU sends three; they get picked up and provide a lane upfield. RUN! You don't run. Y U NO RUN. He throws it to a covered Koger and I believe the DB does bat this skyward; he had Dileo coming open on a not covered hitch and he's DENARD ROBINSON RUN. (BR, 0, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-0, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 5
Hopkins at FB. Koger(+1) blasts the playside LB/DE well inside. Watson(+1) kicks out the safety type guy outside. Molk(+1) seals one DT; Schofield momentarily does the same to the other but lets him spin off. Hopkins bashes into a LB a couple yards downfield as Lewan(+1) blows out a LB. Omameh(-1) is pulling around into this cavernous space and runs directly into Hopkins. If he pulls inside of Hopkins he gets a block and Toussaint can hit it up for seven or eight. As it is he bumps Hopkins and Toussaint bumps him. Toussaint has to bounce outside, which Omameh also does; this is where Lewan has kicked his linebacker . Buncha dudes converge.
RUN+: Koger, Molk, Lewan, Watson RUN-: Omameh, Schofield
M12 2 5 Shotgun twin TE twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 6
Same check that led to the post-fourth-and-two touchdown earlier, with Smith flipping sides and Michigan running at the heavy side. Lewan(+1) and Schofield double the playside DT, eventually depositing him three yards downfield in a heap. Watson(+1) scoops the playside DE-ish person with Koger, getting him sealed. Koger eventually passes him off; Omameh(+0.5) does whack him on his pull. Still not getting out into the second level there but he blocked someone. Molk(+1) has sealed away the backside DT so Robinson can just run up the backs of his OL until he nears the first down and jump over them to get it.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield, Watson, Omameh(0.5), Molk RUN-:
M18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Run Zone read keeper Robinson 0
This is probably a good keep since Toussaint gets annihilated but Koger(-2) just fans out, blocking no one. This leaves a DE unblocked and a twist stunt gets another guy free to contain from the inside and Denard has little choice but to go down near the LOS. RPS -2... defense had this beaten up even without the Koger fan. RUN-: Koger(2), Huyge
M18 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 under Run QB iso Robinson 3
Another twist stunt is handled better, with Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) blowing one twistee down the line and Omameh(+1) picking off the other one. It looks like Robinson is about to burst through the small crease provided when he's hacked down from behind by a guy who got upfield of Lewan(-3), beat him, got up, and tackled. That should never happen.
RUN+: Omameh, Molk, Schofield RUN-: Lewan(3)
M21 3 7 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 stack Pass Screen Smith 32
SDSU sends five and they all suck upfield. Grady's in the slot and has press man over him; he takes that guy away from the play and blocks the spying MLB. That's seven defenders gone. Denard dumps it off to Smith and he's got a convoy with nothing to do. I guess I would like Smith to maybe set up his blocks a little better here but you never know when you're going to get cut down from behind. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3)
O47 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Smith 0
SDSU plays to spill, shooting the playside LB down the line and blowing up McColgan(-2), who topples backwards. Koger(-1) ran past the first threat, and those guys tackle. RUN-: McColgan(2), Koger
O47 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass PA quick seam Dileo 18
Zone fake to the quick seam, ain't no linebackers, nails Dileo, catch, first down. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
O29 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 under Run Dive fake to pitch Smith 1
We never run the dive, LB gets out on it, Smith doesn't do anything but run OOB, grumble grumble this play.
O28 2 9 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run Zone read dive Smith 2
Twist stunt dominates Schofield(-2), who gets shoved back into Smith after a correct handoff  Smith(+1) manages to get past the LOS after keeping his balance on the bump and accelerating into the gap left by the stunt.
RUN+: Smith RUN-: Schofield(2)
O26 3 7 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Run Speed option Robinson 3
This is not a great check to the short side of the field on third and seven, but it's also a missed cut from Robinson as Schofield(+1) and Lewan(+1) had comboed the backside DT and Denard had a huge cutback lane he does not see. Instead he goes playside, where Watson(-1) couldn't do much with his man; he gets out on the edge and allows one of the LBs to flow up on Robinson without opening the pitch. Denard does cut up, but late, and guys come off now-bad blocking angles when he has to go behind because of the safety charging on him.
RUN+: Schofield, Lewan RUN-: Robinson, Watson
Drive Notes: Missed FG(40), 3 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Hopkins 8
No twist stunt and M still runs the same thing; with Watson's motion and little reaction from SDSU they are misaligned and have little chance to stop this. (RPS +1) Watson kicks out the EMLOS as Lewan and Schofield double on the pinched-in DT. Easy all around. Koger(-0.5) gets a free release and does a crappy job blocking the playside LB but that's okay because McColgan(+1) and Omameh are there to help on this one dude. Hopkins runs up dudes' backs before taking a stiff shot from a filling safety and fumbling.
RUN+: McColgan RUN-: Koger, Hopkins(3)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-4 tight Run Zone read dive Smith -2
Twist stunt screws Michigan. Schofield(-1) gets knocked back by his guy and Molk can't do anything about the guy disengaging over the top; no cutback with a guy slanting behind and a player for Denard. Smith is nailed by the twister. RPS -2. RUN-: Schofield
M18 2 12 Ace twins 1 2 2 3-3-5 even Pass PA Deep post Roundtree Inc
Play action. Both safeties are bailing at the snap because it's second and twelve but somehow they manage to let Roundtree behind them. Robinson lets it go over the top but is just long. (IN, 0, protection ½, Toussaint)
M18 3 12 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Dumpoff Smith 5
Plenty of time; Robinson can find no one open. Robinson thinks about running but he's about to get tackled so he slings a dumpoff to Smith. He's immediately tackled. (TA, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 14 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M8 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 11
So the hidden reason this play works: Watson holds a dude who beat him badly. Refs +2. Anyway, same thing as earlier Hopkins power that worked: motion Watson to the strong side, watch SDSU fail to react, run power at it. Koger(-1) gets slanted under and his guy bangs Omameh, who goes backwards and bangs Toussaint. Watson(-2) is beaten by his LB and flings him to the ground without a call, otherwise this ends two yards in the backfield. The hold gives Toussaint a bounce, which he takes. It should be noted that if this play managed to go where it was supposed to, Lewan(+1), McColgan(+1), and Schofield(+1) had all gotten great blocks.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield, McColgan RUN-: Watson(2), Koger
M19 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint -1
This time they just line up with Watson over Koger, no motion, and the same LB who just got held shoots into the backfield past McColgan(-1) as a twist stunt gets a lineman past Huyge(-1) and the pulling Omameh(-1) and the MLB runs past Lewan(-1). Three unblocked guys meet Toussaint in the backfield. RPS -2. RUN-: McColgan, Lewan, Huyge,
M18 2 11 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Smith 0
Playside DE slides outside when he sees the downblock, avoiding Huyge(-1) entirely. Koger(-1) has to take him and doesn't do well with it; since two OL are now blocking no one there are two LBs for the single pulling Schofield since McColgan had to kick a dude out. RUN-: Koger, Huyge
M18 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Dig Roundtree Inc
Denard has a very tight, NFL-style window he can fit it in over a level in a zone here and wings it high. Chad Henne could make this throw... some of the time. It would be a DO if complete, and he did find the one small window in which he could hope to pick up the first here. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 10 min 4th Q. Boy do I hate this drive. So, so hard. On the next SDSU drive the announcers will complain about not running any time off the clock. But... but... they used power?
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-4 base Run QB iso Robinson 30
Twist stunt. Schofield(+1) initially has trouble with it, giving ground, but does lock out the DT and eventually pancake him Molk(+1) tracks and kicks the guy coming around. That combo means cutback. This is possible because Koger(+1) kicked out the backside EMLOS. Huyge(+2) dominates his DE, and Omameh(+2) pops out on a MLB. By the time Robinson cuts back behind the twist stunt Huyge and Omameh are essentially carrying their guys downfield. He has an absolute cavern. By the time these guys stop moving backwards they're almost at the first down line! Robinson into the secondary where I give him a token +1 for being fast as hell.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Koger, Huyge(2), Omameh(2), Robinson RUN-:
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 even Run Zone read counter Toussaint 11
RR-era play with the H-back peeling backside to pick off EMLOS and the RB hitting the hole that leaves hard. Schofield(+1) blocks the playside DE inside. Koger(+1) kicks out EMLOS; Lewan(+1) donkeys a linebacker, Toussaint(+1) makes one hard cut and is free.
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read counter Toussaint 9
Different D means blocking doesn't work nearly as well. Huyge(-1) has a guy right over him and releases downfield; this means that guy is creeping down the LOS. Koger(-1) probably should block him but goes for the kickout on the contain guy on Robinson. There is nowhere to go for Toussaint(+2) until he takes a lovely jab step into the unblocked DE. DE slows a bit to form for a tackle. More importantly, the NT—who Omameh(+1) is blocking well but blocking to the wrong side now that everything is all futzed—sees it and fights outside. Toussaint then starts running back towards the nominal playside, where Molk(+0.5) and Schofield(+0.5) took on a blitzing LB, stalled his momentum, and start driving him downfield. Toussaint runs up their backs until the pile stops.
O7 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read counter Smith 7
This is what a 3-3-5 is supposed to be: three man front, late arriving fourth from unpredictable direction. This time MLB is 3 tech, and he zooms upfield of Omameh(+1); Omameh kicks him out admirably. Blitzer is shooting the gap behind a slanting NT, expecting Smith will end up there. He thinks about it, then sees Omameh's block on the MLB, bouncing past a diving tackle attempt impressively. Another guy is coming at him, bro, and he stops on a dime, running through his arm tackle, stumbling. The last guy has gone to his knees to take him down; Smith powers through him for the final two yards. Bad. Ass.
RUN+: Smith(3), Omameh(2) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-7, 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 over Run Zone read counter Toussaint 6
Opens right up; Molk(+2) takes on a DT and plows him back. Huyge(+1) gets a reach on the other DT, though he was slanting to him. Omameh(+1) shoots out on a linebacker; Toussaint(-1) misses the cut behind and runs into an unblocked LB.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Huyge RUN-: Toussaint
M39 2 4 I-Form Big 2 2 1 3-4 base Run Power off tackle Toussaint -4
LB shoots into McColgan(-2) who again buckles backwards, causing a pile that sucks in the puller. Toussaint bounces but is tackled. I mean, really, if power loses yards in this situation... RUN-: McColgan(2)
M35 3 8 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 under Run QB power Robinson 2
Okay, I'm not going to nail people for a meaningless run here. I will mention that Miles Burris was very impressive and I bet he gets drafted in the mid rounds at least. Huyge whiffs on him here, robbing Denard of a possible cutback.
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-7, 2 min 4th Q

That was okay.

Yeah.

Weekly run game breakdown. Hit me.

I cut out two goal-line carries from the one as distorting and didn't count one broken play out of the I (it lost a yard), leaving the following:

  • Eight power plays from the I: 3.5 YPC
  • One dive-fake-to-pitch: 1 yard
  • 1 QB draw: 19 yards
  • 1 QB inside zone: 7 yards
  • 4 QB iso: 10 YPC
  • 7 QB power: 8.8 YPC
  • 4 speed option: 17 YPC
  • 4 zone read counter: 8.3 YPC
  • 11 inside zone read plays: 5.5 YPC

Under center YPC: 3.2.
Shotgun YPC: 8.8

None of the power plays were in short yardage situations. Five were on first and ten, one was on second and eleven, one was on second and four. Five of the seven were "big" formations with two TEs and one WR.

Running power under center sucks, full stop. It sucks against a terrible run defense on first and ten. It sucks even more when Michigan puts two tight ends on the field. There is no reason to do it—any theories about wearing the defense down have to account for the fact that when you run for 3.2 YPC you do not wear the defense down because it is not on the field. This is not just because you can run Denard a lot better from the shotgun: RBs averaged 6.9 YPC on carries from it.

And the under center numbers would have looked even worse if Watson was flagged for a blatant hold on Toussaint's bounce-off-the-OL 11-yarder.

power-works-2power-works-3

people don't go that way by themselves

I cringe every time a fullback hits the field.

That's depressingly consistent.

Speaking of depressingly consistent, let's talk about inconsistency.

Don't do this to me.

CHART

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation.]

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%

Four games and we have a trend: a 15% reduction in Denard's DSR despite laying a lower caliber of competition than the common opponents we winnowed last year down to. Michigan called 42 passes in last year's ND game, a number that is completely incomprehensible this year. The regression: it's real, it's depressing, it's got to get fixed in the next two weeks if we're going to capitalize on the Big Ten sucking more than a sucky bunch of sucks have ever sucked before.

Receivers

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - 1/1 - 2 - 4/5 1/2
Roundtree 2 0/1 - 2/2 1 1/3 1/2 4/4
Odoms 1 - - - 1 - - -
Grady - - - - 2 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon -

-

- 1/1 1 - - 8/8
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - - 1/1 - 0/1 1/1 2/2
Jackson - - - 1/1 - - - -
                 
Koger - - - 0/1 2 1/1 1/2 3/4
Moore - - - - 2 - - -
                 
Toussaint - - - - - - - 0/1
Shaw - - - - - - - -
Smith 1 - - 2/2 1 - - 4/5
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

Just the one drop, but it was a drag: the Koger quick seam that was going for 20 if caught.

For the OL, keep in mind that Michigan had 44 carries that averaged 7.3 yards an attempt. Numbers ho.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 15 4 11 MOST EXTREME DONKEY ELIMINATION
Barnum 6 3 3 Only played about half the game.
Molk 16.5 2 14.5 I guess that stuff about no big plus days from him does not apply to tiny teams who are tiny.
Omameh 14.5 5 9.5 Ditto him: his lack of POWER was irrelevant because the guys over him were like 250, tops.
Huyge 9.5 3.5 6 Surprising amount of power run over him.
Schofield 10.5 5 5.5 Erratic but not a huge dropoff.
Mealer - - - DNP
Watson 7 2 5 Did surprisingly well; will it hold up outside of the Lollipop Guild?
Koger 10 8 2 Too many misses.
TOTAL 79 32.5 46.5 +41 last week against EMU, FWIW. Expect something similar this weekend.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 8 6 2 I should probably just give him +10 to start for being ridiculously fast.
Gardner - - - DNP
Toussaint 6 1 5 Darting runs for nice yardage. Same YPC as Smith w/ long of 11 instead of 32.
Shaw - - - DNP(!)
Smith 8.5 5 3.5 Big chunk of the minus his fumble.
Hopkins - 3 -3 Fullback
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan 3 5 -2 Got rocked on two separate power plays.
TOTAL 31 9 22 Contributions from non-Denards: can they last?
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway - - -  
Odoms - - -  
Gallon - - - --
Roundtree - - -  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo - - - --
TOTAL - - - Nothin'
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 16 8 66% Team 2, Smith 2, Toussaint 2, Schofield 1, Molk 1
RPS 13 15 -2 Twist stunts were a problem.

So: epic thumping delivered by that offensive line, as you would expect given the size of the opposition. Michigan's problems came on a lot of twist stunts. Denard had 200 yards on 21 carries and I give him a +2, which is laughable even to me. I gave him a –3 for one bad keep read that he compounded by not getting to the corner with his speed; instead he held up and got tackled for a three yard loss. He also missed a couple of gaping cuts and some of the holes he had to run in were ridiculous. Like this one:

donkey-3donkey-4

donkey-5

He did get a +1 for the cut but by the end of this play Huyge and Omameh will deposit their guys on the first down line. So… yeah. Give it up for the OL.

I thought they were totally overrated?

They suck out loud at running power from the I, if that's what you're asking, and might suck out loud running it from the shotgun against bigger teams, but you don't rush for 320 yards with a bad offensive line. When permitted to do what they do they do it well. When asked to do what they don't do they don't do it well. SCIENCE!

Meanwhile: how often have you thought about Taylor Lewan this year? Not often, right? Mostly when he takes some donkey and punches it so hard in the nose shards of cartilage come out the back of its donkeyhelmet, right? (In a non-personal-foul acquiring way, of course.) That is the mark of a great left tackle. There hasn't been a whisper of pressure from the left side all year.

Power! We use power.

You know the drill: we can sort of do it from the shotgun with the extra blocker/more spread out environment, but going big, as we do frequently and inexplicably, is a recipe for second and long. Even when it works it's not exactly because we're dominating guys. This was the setup on the last carry Hopkins is going to get for a while, an eight-yard power:

power-works

They ran off the right side of the line. Notice that Steve Watson has motioned to the strong side, where there are three SDSU players to the five on the weak side. SDSU does not slant. With the fullback that gives Michigan five blockers on three guys. Even our wack power running game can make that work.

If they are going to give up the free yards we can take the free yards. If they aren't… eh… not so much, and I'm talking like one yard not so much, not the four yard not so much that is the version of Denard not so much.

tunnels-screen-liberation-society

JOIN THE TUNNEL SCREEN AND POWER FROM THE I-FORM LIBERATION SOCIETY
STILL WORKING ON THE COLOR SCHEME
NOW ALSO WORKING ON THE NAME
tTSAPFTILS DOES NOT ROLL OFF THE TONGUE

What happened to the zone read?

As was expected/feared, the momentary light of day Denard saw does seem to be an effect of facing spread derp defensive coordinators. If Denard got a pull read on Saturday it happened maybe once; the two times he did pull he got zero and negative three yards. Tweaks are required to keep it going.

Weekly inquisitiveness about what's wrong with Denard.

There are infinite theories, all of which have some validity. Here's one from that BWS picture pages referenced earlier:

In Rodriguez's option offense, the focus was always to pick up yards and stay ahead of the down and distance. Any time they did take a shot downfield, it was the QB Oh Noes that were wide open. In this pro style offense, the coaching staff expects Michigan's players to simply out perform the defense, rather than keeping them guessing with simple routes and reads that would produce 5-6 yard gains and possible yards after catch*.

There's nothing wrong with this style of offense if you have the players to do it (the Chad Hennes and Braylon Edwards of the world). Michigan. however, is loaded with players that aren't necessarily able to out perform their counterparts, rather, they're able to make something out of nothing. Denard needs to recognize the cushion that the weakside defenders are giving Dileo and Hemingway and pass on the single coverage against Roundtree, who isn't much of a leaper.

I sort of agree but don't think the fault is on Robinson. The coverage matchup is exactly what Michigan expects and Robinson can't know how Roundtree will do with it by the time he throws the ball. You don't check away from a fade against one-on-one press coverage. You check to it. Denard threw a decent ball and the corner played it well. That's life when you are taking low-percentage shots down the sideline at Roy Roundtree.

Why you'd throw this at Roundtree is something of a mystery, but Borges is used to having pro-style receivers, not Purdue++ guys, on the outside. I don't like the playcall, don't like having Roundtree on the outside—it's killing his production—and don't like using Henne+Edwards plays when your assets are elsewhere. To me this kind of thing is on Borges. To his credit, Borges seems to acknowledge this:

Can you talk about Denard’s progress as a passer? “Well, it’s a work in progress with our offense. That’s the thing … because it’s different. Now part of that, too -- and I’m going to take the rap for that a little bit. I’ve got to get him some better throws. I’ve got to put him in position to complete some more balls so he can gain some confidence and gain some rhythm. Get in a little bit of a zone. He’s a capable passer, you know, but as a playcaller you have to consider everything we’re calling in terms of the passing game. This kid really threw the ball well in two-a-days and threw the ball well in spring. He did. All his numbers were better numbers than now. I think game situations are different. As he learns about how to do this, you’ll see progress. Because he does have a good arm, and he has an accurate arm when he’s comfortable. But part of that has to be my responsibility to get him in better situations to complete some throws.”

He's still getting his head around an offense where you don't need to seek out big deep chunks as aggressively because just you can stay on the field with your 6+ YPC running game.

Heroes?

Pick an offensive lineman, special commendation to Lewan and Molk. Also the collective tailback.

Goats?

Air Denard again, I-form power.

What does it mean for Minnesota and the future?

Michigan's going to plow the Gophers like they did the last two opponents. That's not that interesting.

Down the road, the Denard conundrum continues. Is he injured? Incapable of throwing these new routes? Uncomfortable? Was last year just a mirage? The answer to that series of fragments is the difference between contending for the division and contending for a middling bowl game. We just don't know, dude. I'm still clinging to the hope that there's something wrong with him physically.

Against Minnesota I'm hoping to see some dinkier routes Denard can hit in rhythm and no new wrinkles in the run game—none should be necessary. Can Michigan break 4 YPC running from under center against a tire fire of a team? Let's hope not!

Comments

mbrummer

September 29th, 2011 at 3:01 PM ^

Hopkins/ Mccolgan out wide?

Wouldnt this allow them to be the lead blocker on the bubble screen? I mean it tips it off, but if you do it plenty maybe it doesn't tip it off?

BleedingBlue

September 29th, 2011 at 4:39 PM ^

I'm 90% sure it's designed to get a LB out toward the sideline and away from Denard. However, this will backfire because noone cares if Hopkins is lined up out there because he can't catch and he's not fast.  Now, if you line Denard up out there, you've got something. But it's hard to catch the snap at the sideline....

rkfischer

September 29th, 2011 at 3:10 PM ^

Weird watching the game and wondering why?

Why not more short passes?

Why not more running back plays?

Why does Demard almost always throw on the run?

Why am I wishing that Denard has some injury?

Jivas

September 29th, 2011 at 3:17 PM ^

The way they run it right now with the RB motioning playside tips it off quite a bit.  What this means is that against a quality opponent, at the right time, we're going to see a reverse off it and Jeremy Gallon is going to walk in for a TD.

I look forward to that moment.

Ziff72

September 29th, 2011 at 3:53 PM ^

I like your reverse but the 1st call is going to be for Denard to step back for another version of the QB Oh Noes to the TE. 

This was a staple of the Nebraska offense in the 90's under Osborne.   T. Frazier would throw a wounded duck to a 280lb te who would have to fair catch it,  gather himself, then walk in the end zone.

They'll watch the single high safety from the press box and the minute they see him start to peek in the backfield and start making tackles on that play they will burn his ass.

 

Blue boy johnson

September 29th, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

What type of physical malady manifests itself in being able to throw the ball like a rocket with seemingly no pain, and carry the ball 20+ times a game for a couple hundred yards? Maybe Denard is hurt and the docs say the only way to keep him healthy is to run him for 4 quarters everygame.

champswest

September 29th, 2011 at 3:21 PM ^

I have concluded that he is just not a quaterback.  He is a running back.  He doesn't have a QBs nature, thought process or mentality.  This is even evident in the post game pressers when asked about the passing game.  He is impatient in the pocket.  He thinks run first, by nature.  My solution would be to keep him moving around as much as possible on pass plays.  Have him rollout or move the pocket around.  Let him keep his feet moving until it is time to plant and throw.  It might help to settle him down and get him into rythem.

El Jeffe

September 29th, 2011 at 3:41 PM ^

Denard says Whaaaatttt???? to this.

  • Denard was 20th in passer efficiency last year
  • Denard's sophomore campaign was virtually indistinguishable from Henne's sophomore campaign (Henne had 5 more TDs and 3 fewer INTs, but Denard's YPA was 2.2 yards above Henne's--that's 2.2 standard deviations in 2010!)

Here is the difference. Al Borges doesn't yet know how to use Denard the way Rodriguez/Magee did, which is another way of saying that Al Borges is not as good a coach and teacher of the run-based spread (or probably any spread) as Rodriguez/Magee. Rodgriguez/Magee were masters of pairing the passing game with the running game so that they fit together in a way that made both play off each other.

Disclaimers

  1. Al Borges is probably smart enough to learn what Rodriguez/Magee learned. Whether he is inclined is another matter.
  2. Although Rodriguez/Magee > Borges, I'm fairly confident that Mattison >>>>>> GERG.
  3. Hoke uber alles.

wolverine1987

September 29th, 2011 at 3:51 PM ^

There are flukes and game or two mirages. Last year's passing efficiency was not a mirage. Since this is true, it is also true that Denard, while not being an accurate passing QB by nature or practice, can be somewhat accurate in a scheme that maximizes his limited passing strengths. Last year's scheme did that. This year's (yet) does not. I think Borges will find a way.

bluebyyou

September 29th, 2011 at 4:14 PM ^

Denard's stats for 2010 were somewhat skewed due to some very high completion percentages in early games.  Once he got into conference play, his completion percent dropped by almost 12 percent, 57.6 conference, 69.4 non coference.

His ratio of TD:INT also dropped significantly once he entered B1G play.

http://www.cfbstats.com/2010/player/418/1024784/passing/split.html

I think, last year, Rodriguez knew Denard's limitations as a very young player and utilized him as well as could be expected.  Entering a new system there has been regression.  If Borges is right, a light bulb will (hopefully) go one one of these days and Denard will improve. I'm not sure whether the light bulb will be Borges realizing what he has and switch his scheme or Denard having a magic moment.  There is a read and react component to the position - it can be improved upon, but some people are more adept than others. Having a rifle-like arm doesn't make you a good QB. Like someone else noted, I see Denard as a great running back with very average QB skills.

msoccer10

September 30th, 2011 at 11:01 AM ^

I am worried that if the light doesn't go on for either Borges or Denard that he will have a similar drop in completion percentage this year from 48% to 36% in Big Ten play and we will be forced to run Denard over 20x/game, which will get him killed.

I am begging for long handoffs and quick slants. And our receivers have to help Denard like they did against ND. Based on early returns, like Brian said, IF we can improve the passing game I think we have a real shot at playing in the first Big Ten championship game.

AlwaysBlue

September 29th, 2011 at 4:34 PM ^

Borges is smart enough to figure out that cleaning up and padding stats against inferior competition is not as important as trying to put together an offense that can work against better teams.  Against those teams last season I don't think the Wolverines even averaged 10 first half points.  I guess the working theory here is that experience was going to change that had Rodriguez stayed but that's just a theory.  

I still say that Denard is as good as a freshman in the new offense.  He's being asked to process a lot more information and he's a kid that has seemed to do best with fewer choices.  With Borges comments this week I tend to think he's going to "dumb" down some of the offense and try to build out from there. 

funkywolve

September 29th, 2011 at 4:04 PM ^

He thinks run first by nature.

I'm of the opposite opinion.  I think this year (as well as last) there's been a number of times where he stood in the pocket or maybe moved in the pocket a little and threw the ball when he could have run and picked up good to big yardage.

He's obviously a runner first by nature, but it'd be nice to see him tuck it and run on some of these passing plays where he insists on throwing it.

santosbfree

September 29th, 2011 at 3:23 PM ^

I'd just like to make a plea for patience with the offense.  I know these amazing charts don't show the same success for Denard, but I'm willing to bet that some of what the coaches are doing involves A) limiting the offensive variety while the players adjust to the new offense, and B) limiting the offensive variety so as not to put all of their efforts on film for future opponents.  When you are beating a team by multiple touchdowns, there is no reason to run interesting wrinkles from the shotgun.  Sure the I-form has been less than awesome, but I don't think this is a permanent effect.  The talk of Denard regressing should be more about Denard adjusting.  When we needed him in the Notre Dame game, he was there.  I assume that when we need him against MSU, or Illinois, or OSU, or Nebraska this year that he will raise his perfomance level and the coaches will install the necessary wrinkles that lead to fan happiness.

I have been pleased with the improvement in the defensive performance, I'm pleased with the ability to gut out some tough games, and I think they have done a nice job getting something out of a running back cadre that did not look promising from day one.  I am optimistic that the offense will continue to improve and will shine when it is needed.

Maybe these charts just don't mean that much at this point (or ever).

El Jeffe

September 29th, 2011 at 3:24 PM ^

I feel like there are two problems with the tTSAPFTILS.

  • Shouldn't all the minor words be lower case? Like tTSaPftILS?
  • It sounds like you want to free the tunnel screen and power from the I from bondage so that we can use it. Might I suggest the Society for Liberation from the Tunnel Screen and Power from the I? Or the SfLftTSaPftI?

Also:

 

joeyb

September 29th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

I'm thinking they bring the FB in to make the opponent think it is an I-Form play so they sub in different personnel (maybe not this game, but other teams). Then, they split the FB out wide to force the defense to account for him with personnel that is not suited to spread the field. If they don't account for him then we are going to see screens in the future. If the ball was snapped right then and we threw a bubble screen to the slot, that's almost a guaranteed 20+ yard play. If they do send someone out there to cover him, then you all of a sudden have 5-6 in the box, which makes for a good option play.

It's basically what they do with Wildcat. The QB splits out wide so that the defense can't sub special personnel in for it.

Hardware Sushi

September 29th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

"I'm still clinging to the hope that there's something wrong with him physically."

I'm still of the opinion that Denard and the rest of this offense have only played 4 games with new coaches, routes, footwork, timing, general offensive scheme, etc. and we should be patient. Yes, the passing should be better; No, I'm not freaking yet and don't think we should be, either.

We should remember: Denard was in his second year in RR's offense last season, even if it was just his first as starter. The offense, with RR personnel, has had 8 full months since Borges has been hired and less time to work on it with him directly.

Maybe it won't get fixed but it is definitely too early to call it broken.

GetSumBlue

September 29th, 2011 at 4:13 PM ^

I'm sorry, but wins >>>> teh spreadz!

Sure, Denard's reads and overall passing has been poor, but Borges has been trying to improve him as a passer. I don't understand why everyone is complaining. Should we lock Denard into a strictly RR type offense or should we try to expand his horizons so to speak?

I personally think its great that Borges is trying to implement pro style reads and routes. Running plays out of the I-form is fine too. It gives the defense another different look to account for. Complaining about this is simply baffling to me. Denard will adapt eventually and it will only make the offense more lethal in the end. What's also great is that Borges is actually using Denard in the spread option most of the time. That's certainly more that can be said for some coaches.

gbdub

September 29th, 2011 at 4:29 PM ^

Of course wins > the spread. Wins are also > teh MANBALL POWAH PLAY (see what I did there?). So the only relevant question is, which system makes you more likely to win games? For Denard after 4 games as a starter in each system, it would appear that the spread is more likely to create wins. The pro style passing game and gap-blocked I-form power running play to none of our strengths and all of our weaknesses. Denard is having less success as a passer and is getting hit just as often, and we aren't sustaining drives.

Instead of just stating outright that "pro form makes Denard more lethal" please explain how exactly it will lead to more offensive success. Backhanded statements about the former coaching staff are not valid arguments.

I guess you can make the argument that I-form gives another look for the D to prepare for, but what good is that if it's not successfully run? Denard was far from perfect in the RR system last year, but instead of improving what he was good at we're wasting practice and game reps on a system the team isn't built for. Instead of running an RR offense, we're running an offense that's 70% limited subset of RR spread that Borges has been able to crib off of old game film and 30% pro set stuff that isn't working at all. Why don't we perfect the stuff that DOES work first, and only THEN work on new things?

Seattle Maize

September 30th, 2011 at 3:35 AM ^

I think the reason why you cant expect the coaching staff to work on perfecting the spread of 2010 is becuase they are different coaches.  This seems like an obvious statement but I dont think you can reasonably ask them to coach something that is foreign to them nor do I think it would be a good idea.  What we would get is a toned down version of last years offense with out the foundation laid down a future Borges offense.  Focusing on running only the spread would also hurt the transition for the rest of the offense.  I would rather sacrifice some offensive production this year and be better for it in the long run.

Also, eventually Denard will get comfterable in this offense.  We have all seen that he is a hardworking kid and when the game does slow down for him then this offense can click and be explosive and efficent like the last one.  

gbdub

September 30th, 2011 at 12:02 PM ^

I guess part of my problem is that our offense, at least so far, doesn't really look that coherent. It really does look like we have a small pro-style package that we run and pass poorly from, and then a small package of spread plays Borges recycled from last year's playbook. We waste a few downs running pro-style, then go full spread when we actually need to score.

As a result of the hodge-podge, we are running constraint plays without their matching counterplays - I-form play-action formations we never run from, tunnel screens to attack the middle when we never attack the edges, etc. The I-form stuff really doesn't add anything to our offense, because we run a limited subset of plays from it and it doesn't complement our other plays and schemes. Our playbook is bifurcated between two systems and is thus incoherent. We don't have a "hybrid offense", we have "multiple offenses".

You could build an offense out of mostly shotgun plays with West Coast concepts, mix in a little spread and zone read to take advantage of Denard. You can certainly build an entirely zone blocked pro-style running game. The reality is that our current personnel might eventually become "okay" in a gap-blocked I-form running scheme, but they will never be great at it. They can be (and nearly were last year) great at zone blocked running from spread formations. You can teach them, but that doesn't mean they have the physical tools or the instincts for a different system.

I know Al is learning too, and I'm confident he's smart enough to figure something out. But I'm getting nervous, because we're running out of games where we can waste 30% of our plays on stuff that doesn't currently work and is unlikely to start working anytime this season. If we can't beat SDSU by relying on power running from under center, we're doomed against MSU, Nebraska, and OSU unless we stop running those plays.

maizenbluenc

September 29th, 2011 at 4:13 PM ^

1) The ball comes out wobbly and high some times. Anybody know what injury might cause that? It seemed like he was more accurate against Western in the rain.

2) There are a lot of high and longs. Maybe this is a route timing issue. In a game Denard is reported to speak really fast, and act like - well dilithium would be expected to act. Maybe dilithium mental time is just slightly faster than mere mortal Roundtree, or Koger time. Perhaps, in practice he is not quite as hyped and things work better. Maybe in a game he needs to add a second or two before throwing to get in sync, and then his receiver will actually be a little farther down the field where the balls are going.

I am in the second camp. I think this is a convergence issue around new routes and dilithium versus mortal timing.

Farnn

September 29th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

Would there be any possibility of an option where the ball is snapped to the RB and Robinson acts as the pitch man?  Might screw with defenses the first time or 2 they see it.

GoWings2008

September 29th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

Brian said:  "any theories about wearing the defense down have to account for the fact that when you run for 3.2 YPC you do not wear the defense down because it is not on the field." 

Are you theorizing that if we stay shotgun primarily in the first half (and running from those formations), we may end up wearing down the defense as the game goes on?  Resulting in our power (under center) will become more effective later in the second half? 

Just trying to put your discussion into context...

MI Expat NY

September 29th, 2011 at 4:53 PM ^

Part of the reason for running power plays, according to various statements by Hoke before the season is that it wears down opponents in two ways, first, MANBALL, second, by having greater time of possession.  Brian is simply saying that power plays out of the I aren't wearing down the defense because we don't do it well enough to gain first downs, thus a poor time of possession, and thus a well rested opposing defense.

MI Expat NY

September 29th, 2011 at 6:38 PM ^

I know, which is why high-tempo offenses work so well at wearing down defenses despite poor TOP.  I was merely putting Brian's statement into context, mainly, that part of cited reasoning for running power plays was to wear down the opposing defense by improving TOP, not that the reasoning was sound.  Either way, if you can't get a first down, you're not wearing down the defense.

wolverine1987

September 29th, 2011 at 4:20 PM ^

He charts success from under center and shotgun, so he knows the same facts that Brian lists here. Apart from knowing that in 2014 we will be under center most of the time, and that we'll need to transition, why exactly given the facts at hand would you as a coach ever use I-Form the rest of the season? The only thing I can think of is that as a coach, naturally you look at those stats and want to improve your team and improve the execution under I-Form. But at what point do you say, "we are better at zone blocking and shotgun, and for better or worse that's what we'll be the rest of the year?"