Upon Further Review: PSU Offense

Submitted by Brian on October 19th, 2005 at 7:10 PM

A note: The "TA" category now includes times when Henne attempts to scramble because he can't find a man. Also I've linked to IBFC's highlights on the appropriate plays; IBFC is awesome.

Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M20 Pass Hart 16 Screen. Kraus and Lentz both get open field blocks and Massaquoi does a very good job downfield. (CA)
1 10 M36 Run Hart 0 Jammed up inside; Kraus does not control his man.
2 10 M36 Pass Hart 7 Screen. Kraus's attempt to chop Connor does not go very well or this could be a very big gain. (CA)
3 3 M43 Pass Breaston Inc Misses Breaston on a little flat route that was wide open. (IN)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q. Big time missed opportunity on this drive; that's a simple throw that Henne has to make.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M28 Scramble Henne 2 An actual rolled pocket. Henne can't find anyone to throw to and takes off. (TA)
2 8 M30 Run Hart 3 Thompson's attempt to block Connor fails and he sticks Hart in the hole.
3 5 M33 Pass Avant Inc Avant gets separated from the ball by the PSU DB, but this was a good throw. (CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 4 Min 1st Q. Good play from the PSU DB and the first of many instances where Henne can't find anyone open.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M26 Pass Ecker 4 Henne checks down to Ecker. I don't understand why the throw doesn't go to Manningham. Avant's route is designed to get him free. (CA... close to BR)
2 6 M30 Run Hart 4 POA is crammed up so Hart has to cut to the backside where Connor? Poz? Someone's waiting. Hart manages to drive for a couple extra.
3 2 M34 Run Hart 6 Draw... credit where it's due: Henige/Kraus/Lentz do a great job getting engaged and allowing Hart to pick his hole.
1 10 M40 Penalty Lentz -10 Holding on Lentz, who got wasted, dude. Ref unfairly blames Kraus.
1 20 M30 Run Grady 3 They come out with Grady and Hart I nthe backfield and run a little trap that doesn't work at all because it relies on single blocking the DTs effectively, which we don't do.
2 17 M33 Pass No one Sack, -2 Lentz gets killed again.
3 19 M31 Pass Ecker Inc They run something that looks a lot like the screen they've already run twice to Hart but is actually a UW-like TE screen, which is all screwed up. The pass hits Henige. Henne needs to hold this a bit longer. (IN)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 2nd Q. Lentz is beaten twice by the PSU DT to end the drive.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M29 Pass Avant 4 Long handoff. (CA)
2 6 M33 Run Bass 23 Sweep with Bass taking the snap. OMG fast. Of note is Hart chopping a LB downfield, springing Bass for another 15. I love that little bastard. IBFC video.
1 10 O44 Pass Avant 21 Play action; the offensive line and Hart do a beautiful job picking up the blitz. Avant is wide open downfield. Henne hits him between the numbers(DO)
1 10 O23 Run Hart 2 MSU-ish counter draw to Hart. Lentz gets pushed down to the ground and when he gets back up Hart's running up his back and the rhythm of the play is disrupted.
2 8 O21 Run Bass 3 QB draw. Don't really like this call since it seems obvious after doing it just a few plays ago, but if Bass had cut behind Lentz he had a lane.
3 5 O18 Pass Breaston Inc Plenty of time but there's a little bit of a pocket collapse and Henne just tosses it away. Neither Ecker nor Breaston is open, don't know about downfield. (TA)
Drive Notes: Made FG(35), 3-0, 4 min 2nd Q. Right down State Street, says Nessler.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M39 Pass Avant Inc Long handoff that's batted by the DE. Why doesn't Steno chop? (BA)
2 10 M39 Pass Avant 9 Horrible spot that's a yard short of where he actually caught the ball. Oh yes: an out, throw's a little high(CA)
3 1 M48 Run Hart 2 Up the gut.
1 10 50 Pass Avant 4 Shotgun. Avant's hammered by two guys the instant he catches this. (CA)
2 6 O46 Run Hart 12 Draw aided by a driving, crushing block from Ecker.It's amazing how there's always huge holes between the tackles and the guards on these runs. Interior OL also does a good job on this one.
1 10 O34 Penalty   5 Offsides.
1 5 O29 Pass Hart 12 Henne checks down onto Hart's flare.A PSU LB comes up and Hart hits the circle button and spins free in totally awesome fashion. (CA)
1 10 O17 Pass Hart Inc Screen attempted. The PSU blitzer is totally unblocked and Henne has to throw it faster than he wants to. (IN... maybe a bit harsh)
2 10 O17 Pass Breaston Inc Ton of time here. Henne throws it away even though Breaston's sitting there wide open.(BR)
3 10 O17 Pass No one Sack, -9 Hali owns Riley and Henne has zero time to throw.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 3-0, EOH. Hali has been very quiet so far.The drive stalls because of a Henne mistake and a the OL issue... same story we've seen before so many times this year. Everyone does okay but then there's a couple of breakdowns from different people and we're staring at a FG attempt.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M29 Run Hart 7 Really nice job by Kraus and Henige to crush the left side of the line and open up a nice crease for Hart.
2 3 M36 Pass Breaston 5 Long handoff.(CA)
1 10 M41 Pass Breaston Inc Henne fires this into a somewhat covered Breaston. If he had thrown it a little behind Breaston it wou ld have been a completion. As it is the safety breaks it up. (IN)
2 10 M41 Run Hart 5 Off the right side. Decently blocked but only would have gone for a couple except for Hart's three-yard post-contact mole burrow.
3 5 M46 Run Hart 18 PSU brings a run blitz and slants their DL across the Michigan line. Hart finds a cutback lane behind a beaten Riley as Ecker holds off Connor and Kraus kills Poz downfield. Great read by Hart. IBFC video.
1 10 O36 Run Grady 14 Lentz pulls around and murders the LB at the point of attack. What in the hell is going on here?
1 10 O22 Run Grady 0 This one does not work so well as they slant again and get penetration.
2 10 O22 Pass Avant Inc Dear Chad, the corner of the endzone is not in the band.(IN)
3 10 O22 Pass Ecker 20 Dear Chad, this one was sweet. Fits it right in the hole in the zone. Perfectly timed. (DO)
1 G O2 Run Hart 2 Touchdown.
Drive Notes: TD, 10-0, 11 min 3rd Q.What in the hell was this drive? Where have you been all my life, grinding run game?
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M17 Pass Breaston -2 Long handoff; the CB is on top of Breaston immediately on the throw. Maybe if we could send him deep this would work better. (CA)
2 12 M15 Run Hart 8 Words cannot describe this tackle breaking, grinding, driving run. You can see the PSU DB who has him wrapped up going "DOES NOT COMPUTE. DIV BY ZERO! DIV BY ZERO!" as he fails to bring down the magic midget. Watch it at IBFC; it's worth it.
3 4 M23 Pass Massaquoi 4 Horrible throw makes what should have been a sure first down into something very close that we get only because of a bad spot. Amazing Mass catches this given the cast. (IN)
1 10 M27 Run Hart 5 Draw up the middle; more good yards running straight at these guys.
2 5 M32 Run Hart 2 Spins away from a tackle and breaks two more before getting swarmed. Blocking was pretty bad on this one. Almost all of this rushing is coming with 6/7 in the box in our 3 WR set.
3 3 M34 Scramble   2 Drops back and panics for no reason. If he sits in the pocket he's got another two or three seconds and Thompson is breaking open. (BR).
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 3 min 3rd Q. It's really hard for us to string together drives when Henne makes this many execution errors, so you get what we've been getting all year: stop/start. A couple first downs, maybe we get into the redzone, and then we peter out.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M18 Run Hart 0 Hali gets free and sticks Hart. This seems like it was slow to develop; Hali got driven back but not engaged and popped back into the intended hole.
2 10 M18 Pass Grady Inc Screen is batted down. Riley doesn't really control his man. (BA)
3 10 M18 Pass Avant 10 Slant to Avant which is only really nine yards but we get a fortunate spot and a first down. (CA)
1 10 M28 Run Hart 3 A pulling Lentz has two guys to block because this is a 3 WR set and PSU has seven in the box. You could check off I guess.
2 7 M31 Pass No one Sack, -2 Play action; Riley does get beat here again by a spin move and thus the sack. Nessler says that Henne had a guy open but didn't find him; I believe him. (BR)
3 9 M29 Pass Manningham Inc All day because PSU rushes three. Henne can't find anyone and checks down yet again, this time inaccurately. You have to find someone. Lloyd looks pissed. (BR)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 13 min 4th Q. Just repeat what I said for the last drive. Our personell is well suited to a driving, methodical offense with Ecker, Avant, and Hart but our OL and QB are too inconsistent to make it work.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M28 Scramble Henne 5 The Zemitas fumble return. This looks legit to me. (TA)
Drive Notes: PSU Touchdown + 2 PT conversion, 10-18 11 min 4th Q. Well of course we're in shock, Nessler. What did you expect?
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M45 Run Hart 10 Excellent cutting by Hart here on yet another draw.Interior offensive line clears out a big hole.
1 10 O45 Run Hart 1 Uh, yeah, the OL fires right past the DL here. Two guys just whiff blocks.
2 9 O44 Pass Breaston 10 A successful out just over Phillips' outstretched hand. (DO)
1 10 O34 Run Grady 1 The same little trap thing they ran before to the same effect. I'm not sure who this is supposed to fool since we have nothing we run off that formation other than that.
2 9 O33 Pass Manningham 33 The New Math! The New Math! Unbelievable play from Manningham. IBFC video. Sweet. (DO)
1 G O3 Run Hart 3 2PT conversion is just a plow up the gut against a three man line. IBFC video.
Drive Notes: Touchdown + 2, 18-18, 9 min 4th Q. Shot of kid in stands pointing to number one jersey, that's damn right.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M42 Run Hart 4 Run right into an eight man line here, Hart squeaks out a few yards but fumbles at the end of the play.
2 6 M46 Run Hart 3 I can't see this play because Michigan is at the line, snapping the ball right as the replay is showing Hart's fumble... obviously they intentionally did this to prevent a review, and saved the possession.
3 3 M49 Pass Avant 7 Slant once again; Zemitas doesn't seem interested in covering this particular route.(CA)
1 10 O44 Pass Hart 5 Screen that Hart has no business making any yards on, but he makes two guys miss and creates five from nothing.(CA)
2 5 O39 Run Grady 6 Grady finally shows that bowling ball stuff, meeting Poz at the LOS and plowing him seven yards backwards. IBFC video.
1 10 O33 Pass Avant Inc Play action. Henne throws away the deep out because Avant is covered. (TA)
2 10 O33 Pass Tabb 3 Long handoff. This looks like it should be good at the snap but the PSU CBs don't fear the speed nearly as much as MSU, so they read and come up to tackle nicely.(CA)
3 7 O30 Pass Avant Inc Avant's blanketed by King and I think Henne's just getting rid of this one. Another example of his allergy to throwing to Avant in the endzone. (TA)
Drive Notes: Made FG(47), 21-18, 4 min 4th Q. Jesus, Rivas. That tied a career high and he had like 10 extra yards on it. Michigan clearly has to show that it can go deep more frequently. This whole game we try it twice, on this most recent play and the Manningham bomb. We have to try to get Breaston and Tabb open if only to give them something to think about.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 O40 Run Hart 2 Another run into an eight man front. This whole sequence of playcalls will get discussed below. The OL does an okay job but there aren't any creases with eight guys there. OMG! OMG! PATERNO GETS TWO SECONDS ADDED! CHEETERZ!
2 7 O38 Pass Avant 3 Long handoff. If you're going to throw this I don't think it should be to Avant. It should be Breaston or TNM.(CA)
3 5 O35 Run Hart 1 No fewer than nine in the box at the moment.
Drive Notes: 15 yard pooch punt (YAY!!!), 21-18, 3 min 4th Q. See below for discussion.
Down Dist Line Type Player Yards Notes
1 10 M47 Pass Avant 17 Almost pulled him out of bounds but it's good enough.(CA)
1 10 O36 Pass Tabb 4 Why are we throwing routes like this with 30-something seconds left in the game?(CA)
2 6 O32 Pass Ecker 5 Little out route. Still dislike the playcalling.(CA)
3 1 O27 Run Hart 10 Draw to Hart against like five guys in the box. The right thing to do against the D presented with a TO; it was a guaranteed first down and you don't want to throw an incomplete here, then be faced with even less time on the clock and be forced to get a yard. Get OOB quicker, Hart.
1 10 O16 Pass Breaston Inc Thrown to a covered breaston at the LOS. Throwing this route at this point in the game is inexcusable. (BR)
2 10 O16 Pass Manningham 6 This one's better since Manningham's right at the sidelines and just gets OOB immediately for something of a gain. (CA)
3 4 O10 Pass Breaston Inc Tyrone Butterfield anyone? This is another inexcusable route and throw combination with six seconds left in the game. It's endzone or nothing here. If this isn't dropped it's game over man.(BR)
4 4 O10 Pass Manningham 10 Touchdown. Breaston's drag route gets the safety to step the wrong way and it's over. You do not fuck with The New Math. And of course... IBFC video. (DO)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-25, EOG. I watched the final play like 20 times. The little "10 sec rewind" button on my DVR is teh sweet.

So what does Mr. Rational Analysis think?

He's a little pissed off.

Let's discuss the playcalling after the Hall interception: it was largely inexcusable. To Carr's credit, he seems to realize that he erred after watching what unfolded after his reversion (and yes, it was a reversion) to 1997 Carr.

 

However, I don't think he correctly diagnoses what he did wrong. Play by play:

  • First and Ten: Somewhat questionable given the obviously stacked line Michigan was playing against but not too bad. Forces them to use their first timeout and gives the best and most consistent player on offense an opportunity to make some yards. The time situation is such that you need to rip a couple TOs away
  • Second and Eight. I question the player and the play. Try to get someone moving before the snap and throw them something akin to the slip screen we used a couple times against Wisconsin with Manningham or Breaston; the block provided by the other WR provides a much greater screwup potential for the D. As it was the DB just had to form up on Avant and wait.
  • Third and Five. Just the wrong thing to do. Stripping the last TO here is not nearly as useful as taking a shot at a killer first down that would drive the clock down under a minute and put UM very close to strangling the game. PSU dared Michigan to throw, as they had to (allowing a three yard run here is devastating), but Michigan backed down.
  • Fourth and Disaster.Carr's comments reveal that he thinks he should have been more aggressive on the previous plays but does not mention anything about the huge error here on fourth down when Carr punted. Michigan had a fourth and four with just under three minutes to go in the game against a team that had expended its timeouts. A first down essentially ends the game given that Michigan would have three plays to run about 40 to 45 seconds off the clock plus a full 25 seconds after the first down. In total that's going to wind the clock to about 20 seconds before a second fourth down, estimating conservatively. Michigan traded the ability to end the game for fifteen yards of field position, which is a complete disaster. The probability of making that fourth down is probably around 40%; the decision isn't even close.

In this situation there is some utility to getting a first down immediately but there is a huge advantage in one once Penn State has expended a timeout or two, so the first two plays, which set Michigan up for a medium-length conversion, were good ones. The third and fourth down calls were not. Michigan would be very close to ending the game if they convert on third down and would for all intents and purposes have ended with a fourth down conversion. The run into a nine man front on third and five was a terrible decision; the punt on fourth down was worse.

Was that you screaming about how Henne should be sent to the gulag after the fumble?

Uh... yeah.

Proved you wrong, huh?

I'm sad to say not really. Even on the final, game-winning drive he made two giant mental errors on throws to Breaston that would have almost certainly meant a loss if caught. Check the chart:

< td>2

Team Dead on Catchable Inaccurate Bad Read Throwaways Batted
NIU 19 4 5 2 2 1
ND 15 7 9 5 3 5
EMU 12 2 4 0 0 0
UW 11 6 11 2 1
MSU 4 25 1 3 3 1
MINN 5 11 5 3 2 3
PSU 5 19 6 6 5 2

Given the preponderance of screens and long handoffs (12 in total, 1 IN, one BA), Henne had a really bad day. On downfield throws he was acceptable or better on 14 of them and had 16 instances where he either missed, threw the ball away because no one was open, or messed up his read. Penn State is a good defense but when Michigan dropped back to pass the ball didn't even get in a place where it could possibly be caught more than 50% of the time, and several of the instances in which it did were little checkdowns.

The last drive was a microcosm of his day. The two throws to Breaston were the work of someone who does not understand the situation he finds himself in. If either of those is caught, we almost certainly lose. The checkdown to Manningham was a good decision that got us six critical yards and didn't run much time off the clock since Manningham just fell out of bounds. And then the final play was perfectly timed, read, and thrown.

Hell, the last drive was a microcosm of his season. Occasional brilliance, occasional meh, and a large number of questionable decisions/throws. If he had missed Avant in the corner of the endzone it would have been an exact replication. I know Carr said that anyone criticising Henne doesn't know what he's talking about, but hell, he punted on that fourth and four. He's not one to talk. Is Henne's inability to find open receivers downfield and excessive reliance on his checkdown routes a product of Carr's huge aversion to turnovers, as commenters have suggested? There's no way to know without being at practice, watching Carr tatoo "I WILL NOT THROW INTERCEPTIONS" onto his chi points or whatever. I think Michigan would very much like him to throw downfield to open receivers and has called a large number of plays that have emphasized this idea; I also think that when Henne is called to "exploit the middle of the field" he has more often than not made bad decisions. On the coaches? Maybe, but given their track record and how Henne's progress or lack thereof significantly departs from said track record I think the guy responsible is wearing #7.

Have anything nice to say, Mr. Grouchy?

I love Mike Hart sooooo much. He has a nickname after that driving, wonderful run: "DOES NOT COMPUTE." Mario Manningham is also super dreamy.

Special credit should also be offered to the offensive line, especially Steno, Henige, and Kraus. Lentz and Riley both suffered stretches where they got beat and thus killed Michigan drives but the left side of the line was very, very solid all day. Ecker also did a good job blocking on several of Hart's better runs.

Avant is Avant.

And, since I don't have a special teams section, you have to credit Breaston's returns. He put together a second strong game and if Henne had been more accurate on a couple passes would have put together a very nice combined yardage total. The return to midfield on the final drive was just as important as either of The New Math's touchdowns and he's looking OMG open on his routes now. It seems like that rumored hamstring injury was indeed legit and negative, and it seems like he's either almost totally or just totally healthy at this point. He's re-emerging into a weapon.

OMG REFEREES OMG!!!

How did you get in here?

All right: Michigan did benefit from two fortunate spots, but it also got screwed on one. Since Michigan got the first down when screwed and punted soon after on the fortunate ones the game was not unduly affected by either.

I have no idea whether the Avant catch was actually a catch or not. His toe clearly impacts the turf first in-bounds and is followed quite quickly by the heel out of bounds. I haven't seen anything conclusive either way from the rulebook. If Avant had been facing the other direction and his toe had clearly been in there's no controversy, so I'm inclined to think it's good.

The reason the Hart fumble was not reviewed was because Michigan rushed to the line after said play and snapped it before anyone had a chance to look at it. Credit Carr for saving the possession there; you can't blame the referees.

What does it mean for Iowa?

I feel much better about Michigan's ability to run against the Hawkeyes after watching the PSU game and Iowa's game against IU. Michigan did a decent to good job against an intimidating front four and a very good set of linebackers while Iowa struggled to pressure IU's Blake Powers all day. Michigan's weakness on the right side of the line may not affect them much against the Hawkeyes--I wouldn't expect three dead drives because of it. Michigan's ability to get Ecker and Kraus out on linebackers is also heartening; we'll have to block Hodge and Greenway to get the draw game going and we should be able to do so.

As far as passing, I think we're stuck with this version of Henne for the rest of the year, but things should get better at Kinnick. Iowa has two starting DBs down with ankle sprains who are questionable for Saturday. Even if they return they probably won't be 100%. Henne should have an easier time of finding open receivers than he did against Penn State, especially if Manningham (who was hardly used until late) is a bigger part of the passing game and Breaston can finally get some balls thrown to him. Michigan must throw deep more to open up the long handoff/screen game that they'll have to use to move the sticks. I expect a more consistent performance against an Iowa defense that doesn't seem nearly as intimidating without Roth and Babineaux, but not a great one.

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