Upon Further Review: Offense vs Wisconsin

Submitted by Brian on October 1st, 2008 at 3:35 PM

No audio on the popups for some reason; you're not crazy.

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Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch McGuffie 2
Newkirk splits the double of Ferrara(-1) and Molk(-1) and is sitting right in the hole. This is the opposite of what happened all last week. McGuffie's forced to cut back into the waiting arms of the backside DE, who wasn't held outside by the zone read fake. Bubble screen was the play to go to here.
M22 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Throwback screen McGuffie -3
It's just amazing how bad of a blocker Mike Massey is. I don't think I've seen him block anyone all year. On this play he gets run over by the OLB and McGuffie has no chance. I wonder if Threet actually has an option here? Odoms on the middle screen looked like a good option. (CA, 3, screen)
M19 3 11 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Scramble Threet 9
Moosman(-2) smoked by his man, forcing Threet to scramble out of the pocket. He picks up nine or so yards before getting cut by a defender and fumbling. (TA, --, protection 1/2, Moosman -1)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch McGuffie -2
Two back trips? What? Well, Mathews is lined up as an outside receiver and covered up, so he can't go downfield. This should signal obvious run (or, I guess, screen) and does. I hate this formation. The play is an ugly shadow of some of the stuff we saw last year: Moosman runs right by the backside guard, who's moving to the second level, and Schilling just sort of futilely chases him into McGuffie.
M14 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Threet 14
Yay yay our first down in the half. Threet pulls it out, but the DE is out there to contain; Threet jukes(!) the guy out of his jock(!!) and runs for the first down. Dual Threet yo.
M28 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Trips Base 4-3 Run Triple option dive McGuffie -3
Molk(-1) owned by Newkirk again, and the unblocked backside DE didn't really bother with contain. McGuffie is forced into Newkirk and goes down.
M25 2 13 Shotgun Empty Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Odoms -2
Threet throws it low, taking Odoms off his feet. (IN, 2, screen)
M23 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Post Odoms Inc
Good protection until a stunt gets a guy in on Threet just after he throws; still good enough to allow Odoms to come open for the first. Threet wings it to Tacopants; it's even over the head of the Wisconsin safety. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run End around Odoms -3
This just has no chance from the start, as both linebackers read this easily and shoot upfield. I will note that Massey is pushed five yards in the backfield by the DE by the time Odoms gets to him, completely robbing him of any vague opportunity to get the corner.
M14 2 13 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Sweep McGuffie 4
This is a new play for Michigan, a sweep that's supposed to get outside the defensive end. Massey blocks down on him (and is steadily shoved backwards, naturally) as Schilling pulls outside. Brown acts as a lead blocker. This pretty much works, but McGuffie(-1) goes to the wrong side of Brown's block, running into David Molk and eventually being tackled from behind.
M18 3 9 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Improvisation N/A Inc
Ferrara(-2) beaten by his man; Threet steps up into the pocket as if to run and throws a sort of jump pass that goes straight into the ground because he' getting plowed. Probably lucky that wasn't on target. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Ferrara -2) Ferrara got called for holding, too.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-6, EO 1Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Run Zone read keeper Threet 0
Aaaaaaargh. Wisconsin inexplicably in its nickel package and Michigan really gashes them open for what would be an excellent gain for McGuffie except Threet's kept the ball and gets run down by a responsible DE.
M45 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Slant Hemingway Inc
Threet airmails it. Maybe he had to get it over the linebacker, but this one is way up there. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
M45 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Run Draw McGuffie 0
Mike Massey runs right by a linebacker on an otherwise well-blocked play; that linebacker smokes McGuffie.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-6, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Trips Base 4-3 Run Triple option pitch McGuffie -2
Wow, I hate this playcall. We're again using the unbalanced formation that must be a run, basically, and we're running an option to the short side of the field with a safety rolled up over there. Schilling has no chance to block the weakside LB, who isn't taking the dive fake seriously, and Threet's forced to pitch. It's way behind McGuffie and fumbled; Wisconsin recovers but out of bounds.
50 2 12 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Iso McGuffie 5
Well, when you've got six blockers and they've got seven guys in the box there's always an unblocked guy. This play is decently blocked, as Moundros takes out the DE and Schilling makes the SLB orbit around him, yielding a small crease. Some delay caused by fallen players allows Casillas to scrape and tackle.
O45 3 7 Shotgun Empty Nickel Pass Cross Koger Inc
Koger gets no separation and is covered; Threet tries to force it in. The ball is deflected skyward and manages to hit the field harmlessly. Even if completed this was going to be four yards on third and seven. Molk beaten by Chapman and hurled to the ground; refs miss a holding call. (BR, 1, protection 1/2, Molk -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-6, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Odoms Inc
Casillas all over this; it looks like he tugs Odoms' jersey to come over the top and break it up or at least make this a tough catch. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
M18 2 10 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch McGuffie 1
Ortmann(-2) lets the DE go right by him, forcing McGuffie to cut into the backside DE.
M19 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Improv Mathews Inc
Wisconsin rushes three; Threet can't find anyone and starts rolling around. He signals Mathews to break his route deep; Mathews hesitates for a second and then does so, getting a step or two on the defender. Threet throws it long. Griese theorizes that Mathews didn't break deep quickly enough but I saw this from the stands and Threet was looking directly at the guy and just overthrew him. This isn't exactly a precision route, here, this is sandlot stuff, and Threet missed an open guy. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-13, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 I-Form Twins Base 4-3 Run Iso McGuffie 0
I'm not sure if this is Ortmann or Molk or just McGuffie heading to a spot where there can be no angles to block the LB, but Casillas isn't blocked. Moosman got beaten by the DT, and those guys meet McGuffie at the LOS.
M10 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch McGuffie 1
Molk(-1) shoved back into the path of the play, forcing McGuffie to cut behind him. Ortmann(-1) failed to cut the backside DE, and because of the cutback the safety can come up and nail McGuffie without bothering with Minor.
M11 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Post Odoms Int
Miles overthrown and intercepted. Ton of time for Threet, though, there's that. (IN, 0, protection 3/3) Some discussion between Odoms and Threet about the route afterward, as Odoms clearly started a square in and then decided to go to the post instead. He should have stuck with the (very open) in. Even if the route didn't help, this was still thrown directly at a safety.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-13, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Hail Mary -- Int
Molk and Moosman combine to let the DT through, getting Threet crushed as he attempts to throw a hail mary. (BA, 0, protection 0/2, Molk, Moosman -1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-19, EOH. Let us never speak of this half again.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun Empty Base 4-3 Pass Out Brown 11
Simple out that opens up because I think the LB misplays it and gets out of position. Threet accurate, it's caught, it's a first down, let's have a party. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M40 1 10 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Brown 0
Man, they are really slanting hard to the playside on all these things. Moosman(-1) just sort of wanders by the backside DT, who slants so hard Schilling can't get to him. Meanwhile, Molk is just discarded by Newkirk and three guys are all over Brown at the snap.
M40 2 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Dumpoff Brown 3
Newkirk goes right around McAvoy(-2), forcing Threet to scramble up into the pocket. He dinks a little dumpoff to Brown; Casillas lights him up. Still better than the alternative. (CA, 3, protection 0/2, McAvoy -2)
M43 3 7 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Throwback screen Brown -3
Wisconsin swarms this; Mathews, Ortmann, everyone miss blocks. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-19, 12 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Pass Slant Mathews Inc
UW corner reads Threet, as he's staring this down, jumps the route, and nearly intercepts. Carlos Brown's wheel route was coming open, FWIW. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
M20 2 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Hitch Mathews 13
Threet drops back, surveys the field, and finds Mathews on a deep hitch. Excellent timing, but the throw is a bit wobbly and Mathews ends up getting hit as he hauls it in. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
M33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Long handoff Mathews 5
Hey, it's positive yards. (CA, 3, screen)
M38 2 5 Shotgun Empty Base 4-3 Pass Out McGuffie Inc
Same little out designed to get the LB in space against the running back, but this time there's a corner in a short zone about to nail McGuffie when he catches it. Threet throws it way wide. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M38 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Rollout scramble Threet 5
Nobody's open as Threet reaches the sideline so he turns into a runner, manages to juke a DL, and fall forwards, reaching out for the first down as he falls. Excellent effort. It's just short. (TA)
M43 4 In I-Form Twins Base 4-3 Run Iso Grady 4
Double from Molk and Moosman(+1) gets the DT moving backwards; Moundros crushes the linebacker. Grady makes this easily.
M47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Improv Odoms Inc
Another rollout and Threet again can't find anyone open. Odoms runs a little out, then breaks downfield—don't think this is part of the route, just a thing you do when your plans go awry. Threet throws it to him—he's got a couple steps on Casillas—but is well short. (IN, 0, protection 1/1) Odoms didn't have his head around anyway, BTW.
M47 2 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Hitch Mathews 16
Route is actually sort of a triple move, a slant and go and hitch that gets the corner's hips turned and Mathews wide open. Threet hits him. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O37 1 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Run Zone read dive McGuffie 6
Wisconsin is now down to six guys in the box, so this stuff is going to be more plausible. Not a stretch but Wisconsin is in stretch mode so McAvoy(+1) just plows Newkirk down the line and Ortmann blows up a linebacker who stepped the wrong way. The backside DE closes down McGuffie after a decent gain. We will go back to this on the Minor touchdown.
O31 2 4 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Triple option dive Grady 3
This two-back is the weird formation where both RBs are lined up to Threet's left. Good push from the OL, though McAvoy loses his block after a moment. His guy and the unblocked DE close Grady down; he powers forward using power(!) for a few.
O28 3 1 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Triple option dive Grady 2
Same play; McAvoy is again discarded by the Wisconsin DE, this time with more authorita, and Grady is met at the LOS. He manages to get the first.
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Hitch and go Mathews Inc
They get the defensive back but he recovers very nicely, first getting a bump on Mathews that forces him out of bounds—ref throws a hat, so even if caught this might not stand—and then raking at Mathews' arm as the ball arrives, forcing him to try a one-handed catch. Good throw. (CA+, 1, protection 2/2)
O26 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Throwaway -- Inc
Threet can't find anyone, kind of panics, wanders around, looks like a disaster about to befall us, and chucks it out of bounds. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
O26 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Seam Koger 26
Schilling actually get banged backwards by the DE and ends up on his butt; Molk peels back and lays into him, giving Threet time to look off a safety and come to Koger on a seam route. It's a little high but totally catchable; Koger reels it in... touch... down? (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touch... down?, 7-19, 2 min 3rd Q. Where did that come from?
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M12 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Pass Slant? Stonum? Inc
This pass is wildly errant. Threet makes the “it got tipped” motion afterwards, and I'm not calling him a liar, so... (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
M12 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Sack -- 0
Good protection and Threet has time to survey. The little timer that goes “bing” goes off and he starts scrambling around. Wisconsin guys peel off and bring him down. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
M12 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Stonum Inc
Stonum drives off the defender and gets himself open past the sticks; Threet airmails it. Good protection again. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-19, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Slant and go Mathews Inc
Flare screen to McGuffie is faked, which gets a bite from both DBs to that side. Safety further held by the slant route Mathews is running and by the time it's revealed to be a deep route Mathews is gone. Threet lays it out there pretty nicely but it's just a tad long. Mathews makes a diving attempt at it; it goes through his hands. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)
M15 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run Draw Minor 1
Wisconsin stunts this to death, slanting a DE into what would normally be the running late and stunting a DE around into the area Minor tries to take it when the middle is all jmmed up. Our rock, theeir paper.
M16 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Hitch Mathews 14
Good route, good timing, good throw. If we could only do this like more than once every fourth play. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M30 1 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Throwaway -- Inc
These are all little short routes; Threet is indecisive and can't find someone for any gain at all. He eventually rolls out and gets rid of it. (TA, 0, protection 1/1). Tackles were cutting their guys and after they got up they were going to make a Threet sandwich.
M30 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Pass Post Odoms Inc
Excellent protection and Odoms comes open between levels in the zone; Threet throws it well behind him. (IN, 0, protection 2/2) Illegal substitution follows.
M25 3 15 Shotgun Empty Nickel Pass Seam Minor Inc (Pen+15)
Actually a gorgeous throw looped in to Minor here 35 yards downfield. It's laid right in, and Minor just drops it. Wisconsin guys converging made it hard but even if they weren't around this one was getting dropped. (DO, 2, protection 2/2.) Roughing the passer call bails Michigan out.
M40 1 10 Shotgun Empty Nickel Pass Cross Odoms 8
Threet finally checks down, finding Odoms underneath the zone. Odoms does a good job of cutting it up quickly and making the most of it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M48 2 2 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Odoms Inc
Thrown too far in front of him. Better than the alternative, I guess, but... man, Threet's been bad at these. I told you we'd miss Chad Henne's unerring perfection on little pissant screens. Wisconsin was jumping this anyway; we really need to mix in that bubble screen fake play more often. (IN, 0, screen)
M48 3 2 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Threet 7
Mathews is covered so Threet comes down to Odoms; also covered. He feels pressure from behind; again, we've had the OTs cut the DEs and there's no way they're staying down so he takes off running, picking up the first down. (TA, 0, protection 1/1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Swing Minor 11
Moosman(-1) beaten by Chapman but slow-like so it's not a disaster. Threet again has to check down, this time coming down to Minor on a little swing route. Well thrown and timed so he's got room to tiptoe down the sideline, picking up a first down before Casillas gets out to him. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Moosman –1)
O36 1 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Run Zone read dive Minor 36
Wisconsin's got guys out covering the bubble screen and only six in the box now; they blitz both linebackers and Michigan goes back to the down-block cutback thing they ran earlier with McGuffie. Schilling and McAvoy shove their guys along the line far enough for Minor to shoot up between them and the backside DE, who's trying to keep contain. Minor is instantly into the secondary, just a safety between him and the endzone. He glides in. Replay to your mother.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-19, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O3 2pt 2pt Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Sack -- Fail
This is the disembodied two point attempt after the Thompson TD. Threet rolls and rolls and rolls and can't find anyone and gives up; he should try gunning this at some point; there's nothing to lose. (BR, 0, protection N/A)
Drive Notes: XP failed, 20-19, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Run Zone read keeper Threet 58
Well... dios mio, man. The backside DE sells out to crush Minor on what looks like the same blocking scheme Michigan had on the touchdown with the exception of the tackle, who doesn't block down, instead moving to the second level to pick up a linebacker. The linebacker heads outside, McAvoy gets just enough of his guy, and Threet lopes through the hole between them. The deep safety bit on the Minor fake, too, so Threet's gone until Casillas can track him down. Buffalo stampede replay.
O19 1 10 Shotgun Trips Nickel Run Zone read dive Grady 4
Both DTs get doubled; Schilling and Moosman blow their guy back off the ball. The backside DE is still crashing hard even after what just happened; he tackles Grady from behind.
O15 2 6 Shotgun Trips Nickel Run Zone read dive McGuffie 10
Same play as the Minor TD, etc. Chapman slides through the OL (-1 Moosman or Molk, take your pick); McAvoy, on the other hand, blows his guy down the line. The DE is held outside just enough for McGuffie to scoot by; both he and Chapman make diving arm tackle attempts that McGuffie powers through.
O5 1 G Shotgun 2-TE Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive McGuffie 2
Again good push down the line, but Ortmann runs right by the linebacker he should be taking, IMO. McAvoy got burrowed backward, too; McGuffie encounters resistance at the line and sort of jumps for a couple yards.
O3 2 G Shotgun 2-TE Base 4-3 Pass Yakety Sax -- -1
Threet fumbles the snap and by the time he recovers it he's getting swarmed under. He manages to get back to the LOS somehow. (TA, 0)
O4 3 G I-Form Twins Base 4-3 Run Zone left(!) McGuffie 4
Oh, I remember you. Molk(+1) does a great job getting his helmet across Newkirk and driving him back. McAvoy pops a linebacker, McGuffie runs through a tackle, and it's a touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-20, 5 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M8 1 10 I-Form Twins Base 4-3 Run Zone left(!) Grady 3
Momentary double on Newkirk fails and he gets playside of Molk, forcing Grady to cut back into a number of unblocked defenders. He gets what he can.
M11 2 7 I-Form Twins Base 4-3 Run Zone right McGuffie 1
Molk(-1) again just shoved back and back and back into the path of the play; Schilling(-1) also lost his guy, who the fullback has to pick up. McGuffie cuts back into more unblocked dudes.
M12 3 6 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Inside zone McGuffie 3
This time the fullback shoots backside and there is a crease as he blocks the backside DE and Schilling takes the WLB. However, the MLB is completely untouched—more defenders than blockers here—and closes McGuffie down after a short gain.
Drive Notes: Punt, 27-19, 1 min 4th Q.

Wha' happen?

Ah, I see you've awoken after beating yourself into unconsciousness midway through the third quarter. Well, I have good news: we won.

nowai

Wai, dude. Wai.

How?

Would you believe the offense rattled off three straight 80 yard touchdown drives, the last featuring a 58-yard quarterback keeper by Steven Threet?

Depends. Is this a Deep Space 9 episode taking place in the mirror universe? Is everyone wearing black leather?

I've been trying to figure that out for days, man.

Chart?

Chart.

As always, the Threetsheridammit chart legend.

STEVEN THREET

Opponent DO CA IN BR TA BA PR
Utah 1 11 5 1 3 2 1
Miami - 6 4 1 - 2 -
Notre Dame 3 12 5 2 1 - -
Wisconsin 1 15 9 3 7 2 1

With Threet firmly entrenched as the starter I'll discontinue listing Sheridan's numbers and retrieve them should they become relevant again (and I don't jump off something tall).

I'm also not going to include a chart for "downfield" throws because the vast majority of the above were downfield attempts: Michigan only attempted five screens (3 CA, 2 IN, none successful).

That is a hell of a lot of throws, many of them extracurricular in nature. (By that I mean not DO, CA, or IN.) There are a whopping 13 throws in other categories, a large number of them TAs. Some of those were okay, as Threet scrambled for a couple first downs. Some were actual throwaways when he couldn't find receivers. When the TA count starts creeping above three or four that's an indication the quarterback isn't reading the defense very well.

Also, the vast majority of these throws came in the second half. In the first half I have 11 of 38 passing attempts.

As far as how the day went? Poorly. In past years we've had a metric where you add up all the good (CA+DO), add up all the bad (everything else other than PR), and take out all the screens to come up with a Competence Ratio. Threet's competence ratio in this game is 48%, which is below the 50-50 Mallett line and well short of the 2/3rds ratio that is a normal good quarterback. This was a major step back from the Notre Dame game.

That wasn't all Threet's fault, but we'll tackle the ancillaries later.

While we're at it, the receiverchart:

This Game Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Clemons - - - - 2 - - 2/2
Stonum 1 0/1 - - 4 0/3 3/3 2/2
Mathews 1 0/1 1/2 3/3 4 2/5 2/4 7/8
Hemingway - 0/1 - - 1 0/2 2/2 -
Odoms 4 - 1/2 1/1 5 0/1 3/4 12/13
Babb - - 1/1 1/1 - - 1/1 1/1
Massey - - - - - - - -
Butler - - - - 2 1/1 0/1 2/2
Koger - 0/1 - 1/1 - 0/1 - 1/1
McGuffie - - - 1/1 2 - - 9/9
Brown - - - 3/3 - - - 3/3
Shaw - - - - - - - 3/3
Minor - - 0/1 1/1 1 0/1 0/1 3/3
Moundros - - - - 2 - - -

You would like to see more of those 2s getting caught, especially since a couple would have been large gains if hauled in.

Of note are the many balls attempted to Odoms that were totally errant. On at least one of these Odoms didn't help his quarterback out by being indecisive on an option route, and there are theories on the internets that Threet's day was better than it looked because the receivers aren't helping him out any. That may have been the cause on some of the throwaways; it was not much of a factor on any of the balls Threet actually threw. It's one thing to throw a timing route on which the WR isn't there or ready or throwing into coverage because he's running his route wrong; it's another entirely if you're overthrowing guys by yards and not even forcing safeties to move to pick your pass off.

Only five screens when Michigan's line was getting whipped?

I know. That's under 15% of Michigan's attempts in an offense that was simply mad for screens in Rodriguez's tenure at West Virginia. Hell, Michigan ran more screens than that under Lloyd Carr. What's going on? Well, the screens aren't working. Michigan's five screens went for –3, –2, –3, 5, and 0 yards and the five-yarder wasn't even a real screen, it was a long handoff to Mathews upon which no one missed a block because no one was blocking.

That is epically ugly. A dossier of reasons:

  • Threet is bad at throwing them. This, I think, was the A-1 reason Nick Sheridan was named the starter before the Utah game: Threet consistently screwed up the simple throws that are the bread and butter of Rodriguez's passing-ish offense. In this game he took Odoms off his feet on one throw and threw another one well in front of him; against Notre Dame he threw the Minor fumble backwards, took Odoms off his feet again, and turned a touchdown into a field goal attempt by not throwing a Babb screen far enough inside.
  • Our receivers and tight ends suck at blocking. Oh my God watching Mike Massey is frustrating. If he was on the field for every play my veiny fan rage at him would be approaching levels last seen when his brother was gamely attempting to set a Guinness world record for tallest defensive tackle.
  • Our dodgy offensive line and general suckosity of offense causes teams to jump the routes with near-impunity. We burned Notre Dame a couple times with the fake bubble screen; we need to go back to that with more frequency.

I only see one of these issues getting fixed this year—the last one—and expect we'll be groaning about the lack of a screen game until 2009. Even in the Year of Infinite Pain, we always had Henne throwing a stupid bubble screen to Breaston. Those were the days.

About the line: I don't think they were all getting whipped.

Well, then who was?

Here's your protection metric: 37/46, Moosman –3, Ferrara –2, Molk –2, McAvoy –2.

Notice a distinct lack of anything? Tackles. If you go over the somewhat arbitrary +/- handed out on running plays above, you will see a ton of minuses handed out to the interior line and the occasional – to Schilling.

That was the story of Wisconsin's defense: their active defensive tackles murdered Michigan's interior line all day against both the pass and the run. Notice that Michigan's second-half run game was successful largely when it completely avoided Wisconsin DTs or fooled them into slanting away from the play. For example, the Minor touchdown run was a counter to the zone stretch the Wisconsin D was expecting.

The good news, such as it is, is that Wisconsin's starting tandem is probably the best in the conference. Newkirk and Chapman are both seniors and returning starters (at least sort of; Nick Hayden was around last year but there was extensive rotation) on a run defense that was above-average a year ago. Penn State might be better and Ohio State always has a lot of talent; other than that there's not a whole lot of epic destruction awaiting us outside of Northwestern's inexplicably good John Gill. (We're fortunate to have Kroul & Unusual Punishment off the schedule.) If the Notre Dame game was an outlier in the sucky opponent direction, Wisconsin is an equally large outlier in the other direction. (Notre Dame also spent the entire game in an inexplicable nickel for the second straight year, further supporting my theory that Corwin Brown is a mole.)

But, hey, the only thing Matt Shaughnessy did all game was take a critical roughing the passer call, so that's got to be worth something, right?

What was with that funky formation?

You mean the one in which Michigan had two backs in the backfield and three wide receivers to one side? I don't know. That's vaguely acceptable when the guy who's covered up is a tight end, because if you decide to pass you can use him as a blocker. But when it's a slot receiver? The defense can basically ignore Mathews because he can't go downfield, and to date every play run out of this formation has been a run. An ineffective run. I can't imagine there's anything particularly effective about it that offsets the high cost of having a nonentity on the field.

And while we're on the topic of this kind of bitching that reminds me of Debord, yes, Michigan only passed once on first down in the first half until the near-disaster Hail Mary at the end. This was sort of similar to the Penn State game last year, in which Mallett was almost never suffered to throw on first down until Michigan fell behind. I complained about it then and this was similar, though to be fair it's not like the pass attempts they did provide offered any confidence that passing was a better way to go.

Heroes?

Yikes. Honestly, no one on offense had a particularly good day. Threet showed tremendous resilience to come through in the second half but even then he was pretty rough.

Goats?

The interior line had a very rough day, and Mike Massey got yanked for a true freshman for a reason.

What does it mean for Illinois?

Illinois has gotten shredded by the real teams they've gone up against but our offense has proven itself at least partially fictional. I haven't taken a particularly close look but I have to assume the sledding will be easier for the interior line, though not as easy as it was against Notre Dame. Penn State and Missouri both obliterated Illinois on the ground. And in the air. All sorts of stuff, really.

We've got a downgrade in the Threet competence projection again, though, and it's hard to see a ton of long drives. It's also hard to see one first down in a half; mid-twenties, maybe?

Comments

mgoblue911

October 2nd, 2008 at 9:42 AM ^

The sound works on my pop-ups as well.  Of course, that means that I have to endure the inane incoherent sputterings of Paul McGuire all over again.   Listen to the nitwit on the replay of the Minor touchdown.  "... Michigan in that deep thing..."  Huh?

 BTW, thank you Brian for brilliant (conception and execution) UFR.  I swear it's like some kind of crack to me,  checking the blog 25 times a day until it gloriously appears.  Got my fix... everything's cool... ahhhhh...

jayballs

October 1st, 2008 at 4:34 PM ^

You can't tell me conditioning WASN'T a factor in the Threet Stampede - it took Casillas 50 yards or so to catch up.  To Threet.  That's ri-goddamn-diculous.  Serious ugliness countered by some serious awesomeness.  I've got to have my blood pressure checked and make sure my doctor knows I'm a Michigan fan.  Whoo-boy.

Jivas

October 1st, 2008 at 4:48 PM ^

That explains the changes to the O-line this week, moving Dorrestein to LT and sliding Ortmann inside, which pushes one of the McAvoy/Moosman/Ferrara/Molk guys to the bench.  Hope for more competence in coming weeks?

tbliggins

October 1st, 2008 at 4:58 PM ^

I think given the oline's pass and run blocking performance that RR will have to pass to set up the run more than he would like.  That is especially dicey considering that no one knows which Threet will show up each game.  This offense is entirely capable repeating its 1st half performance.  It is also capable of repeating its performance in the last 20-25 minutes.  I think I will settle for not yelling "Hold onto the gd ball!" every play.

mth822

October 1st, 2008 at 6:25 PM ^

Sorry, should've read your post. I see your point though. It seems with the collection of players, it just works better when the pass sets up the run. It's frustrating from a football traditionalist standpoint. Because the run is vital. I agree with you though. I think it will unfold more and more. These teams scout on plays seen. I am guessing RR and co. have more wrinkles up their sleeve. 

Enjoy Life

October 1st, 2008 at 5:11 PM ^

But, if our receivers and TE can't block, why not put in some guys that can (even if they can't catch the ball at all)? This might telegraph the bubble screen (or be a pretty good decoy with Mathews on the other side) but based on Brian's analysis "it coudn't hurt"?

Other Andrew

October 1st, 2008 at 5:40 PM ^

Brian - just wanted to say thanks for this. For a Michigan fan living in Buenos Aires whose only current method of seeing the game is via a slingbox at a rather egalitarian bar (which means we had to split time with the Auburn, Tennessee, and Florida State fans in attendance), this is an invaluable service. We were fortunate to witness the Minor TD and subsequent pick-6 live as well as Wisconsin's last drive, but there was a general haziness well before any of the Quilmes kicked in. Thanks for bringing me up to speed.

dtowbin

October 1st, 2008 at 6:04 PM ^

What's the deal with the lack of Brandon Minor action?

 

With such a poor small o-line, wouldn't Minor's size and power be
benficial? To me it seems like he gets like 5 carries a game, bt
manages to do something with that little bit of time he has on the
field. 

 

This may be too conventional for our team now, but wouldn't it make
some sense for Minor to carry the ball most of the time. Wear down
defenses, and let McGuffie run wild as the change of pace/3rd down
back? 

 

I think this will not only be affective, but will save some wear and tear on McGuffies tires for the long haul....

 

Does this make sense? Am I crazy?

WolvinLA

October 1st, 2008 at 10:22 PM ^

You're not crazy, but that's a lot more of the style of the Lloyd era than now.  RR likes the smaller quicker backs, like McGuffie, and have guy like Minor or Grady come in less often, but in certain situations.  We discussed this in one of the MGoBoard posts, as many people agree with you.  We might see him more in the next few games because he has broken some big plays. 

Then again, Minor usually came in for McGuffie in passing situations because he is much better at picking up pass ruchers.  So most of the time Minor got the ball, the defense was thinking pass, both because it was usually a passing down and distance, and because they saw that McGuffie had been taken out.  That's a nice set-up for a big play.

 People are big on Minor after the Wisco game, but keep in mind how well McGuffie played against ND.  Which back we use most may come down to which defense we are playing against.

mth822

October 1st, 2008 at 7:13 PM ^

The push in the back by Jamison on Thompson's INT was a missed called of Hochilean proportions. The flop by the OT Jamison pushed was worthy of an award as well.

*The pass feeds/sets up the run with this offense and it's players* 

When you just sit and see it, w/o overly interpreting it or without being emotionally involved, you see the pass needs to set up the run. When the pass is working the run seems to follow. There's no need to run around and panic if the initial drive does not work. Just go to the shot-gun, play like you're down 14 points, let it flow, slow it down internally. And then just realize we do better when we play in the 2 minute drill. We slow down and play more comfortable when we play like we are down 14. When it's an equal table and we try to fight toe-to-toe, we suck. The game will end either way, much like life, they might as well just play to pass vertically.

I know you set big plays up with little ones. Or you jab to upper cut. RR said his offense is about rhythm and timing. You want to get the defense leaning. A lot like Motion Offense in Basketball. So I understand the first series or two are or appear to be set up plays. Or you see if you can move the chains with your simple stuff. But I say it works or seems to work better when it's flipped on it's head. Throw to run just seems to work.  

Enjoy Life

October 1st, 2008 at 8:01 PM ^

In the first half M only passed downfield once on first and second down. The bubble screen isn't really a pass (that's why the raw stats are sometimes out of wack) because the defense still cheats to the LOS.

In the second half, RR passed 16 out of the first 22 first and second downs. After that, the big running plays came.

I don't count thrid downs because: run, run, pass on third and long does not set up anything.

mth822

October 1st, 2008 at 11:18 PM ^

I saw it though, the offense, for the first time in the second half. Or rather I saw it's potential. The reason RR went bezerker after the Steve Slaton-esque-Brandon Minor TD run was because of this. It was as close RR got to seeing his offense work his way to his standards all effing year. Watch a man unleashed on the sidelines if you tivo'ed it.. Ask one of the coaches on here and they'll say whatever works. But in truth they'll concede they'd rather establish the run. 

 

Blue Durham

October 2nd, 2008 at 9:28 AM ^

regarding pass to set up run or visa versa. If you think about it, neither really makes sense. If you are passing and are successful, it is hard to switch from something that is working to something else that your offense may not me as adept at.

For example, Bo's philosophy was to run, period.  For the most part, only when he was unsuccessful running and had to pass, did he do so.  [His early attitude on passing was essentially on a pass play, 1 of three things could happen, and two are bad. ]  If the team was running well, he continued to run the ball (the 1970's).  He wasn't "setting up" anything.

The most successful offenses are those that, given down, distance, formation and field position, the defense has no clue whether a pass or run is coming, as well as to what side of the field.  FSU's great offenses of the early to mid 1990's were like that.

An offense has to make opposing defenses respect both the running game as well as passing (both shot and long routes).  An offense that cannot do that will have problems.  This is why Michigan failed in the Rose Bowl so often against teams like USC, which was much more balance.

I have always thought that a team that is heavy on either running or passing, when playing a quality defense, must start out a game forcing the defense to respect the weaker portion of their offense. I guess in these term, one could say that they would be "passing to set up the run" or visa versa.  But I think all that is happening is the offense is forcing the defense to defend the entire field.

 

mth822

October 2nd, 2008 at 2:51 PM ^

yeah Blue Durham I agree. I was just sort of saying what I see or perceive to be seeing in the pass to run second half's. It seems to flow better that way. Youre statement,"forced to defend the entire field," is right on. Or it's the goal so to speak. I was just applying the ol' whatever seems to work logic to it. But I really believe that's all sports is. In games, sometimes certain guys suck who are normally good and vice versa. So you adjust on the fly and say,"Hey this is working so keep doing it." When you find out what works you then apply all the technical stuff and all the game prep. 

lhglrkwg

October 1st, 2008 at 6:57 PM ^

i remember we ran that crazy 2 RB to one side of the QB formation last year vs illinois too for maybe 2 or 3 plays. that one had brown and minor out there since hart was out

Nick

October 1st, 2008 at 9:11 PM ^

   Given that McAvoy started at LG then got replaced this week by former DT Ferrara, who then got dumped in 2nd half a bit for McAvoy, i think those two might be out.

 So dorrestein,ortmann,molk,moosman,schilling maybe next week.  Probably depends on practice though

PattyMax64

October 1st, 2008 at 9:54 PM ^

Has anyone thought that this covered receiver formation may be something epic being seeded.  Im hoping he does this quite often, enough for one Jim Tressel to make a note of it to his "team" and tell them to watch for it specifically.  Then after a few of those calls in that game, we do it and try a deep pass, leading to a big play.  Wouldn't that just be fantastic (and a little crazy).

dex

October 2nd, 2008 at 9:48 AM ^

Is that while you have figured out the play is "setting something up for OSU", Jim Tressel will be oblivious to this and have his defense completely sell out against the run on that particular formation, rather than telling them to play their responsibilty at all times because Michigan will definitely try to trick us out of this formation?

MI Expat NY

October 2nd, 2008 at 10:30 AM ^

No +1 for Molk on the Koger TD pass?  It's easy to say he should make that play, but when as a center you peel back to help, see a DE about to drill your QB and you lay out to protect him, it's a heck of a play.