Inside the Boxscore - Team 133, Game 4

Submitted by ST3 on September 23rd, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    In the week preceding this game, some random internet poster guy asked what was the worst performance you’ve seen by a QB. I ran screaming from that post, but couldn’t escape the images of Demetrious Brown throwing seven interceptions – SEVEN INTERCEPTIONS!!! - in a game against MSU many years ago. In another post, we learned that Brady Hoke forgot about ND’s first night game in 1982 against UofM. I didn’t forget because I was there and have the emotional scars to prove it. I’ve seen too many weird things happen in M/ND games, like winds coming up out of nowhere to push 51 yard field goal attempts from 5’3” guys with the leg strength of my mom over the cross bar. Or kicking off to a guy named Rocket AFTER he’s already burned you for a kick return TD.

    So what happened Saturday night? Denard Robinson arguably had his worst game as a UofM QB, contributing to five of UofM’s six turnovers on the night. Earlier in the week, Peyton Manning, who some call the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, threw three interceptions in the first quarter. So far all of the folks out there saying senior quarterbacks should play better, all I can say is stuff happens, even to NFL legends and future hall of famers.

    However, there is a silver lining. What I remember most about the 7 interception game, was the inability of UofM to change plan, to try something, anything different. Against ND, all five of the INTs occurred in the first half. Adjustments were made. Things started clicking; however, the revised plan took too much time, and the defense was not able to get off the field thanks to a misplaced sheleighleigh (sp?) that tripped up J.T. Floyd on a critical third down play. And by the way, thanks a lot, random internet poster guy. Next time, wait until after the ND game to tempt the fates*.

* As a coping mechanism, I either have to blame you or accept that Denard is human, and I’m not ready to do that yet.


Burst of Impetus

  • In the interest of saving time, I put this code together:

For i = 1 to 6

  • Michigan started grinding out some first downs.
  • It looked like if Michigan could just get some points on the board, we’d take control of the game.
  • Michigan turned the ball over.
  • I absorbed a virtual punch to the gut while that internet meme girl screamed, “Why, why, why?” inside my head.

Next i


  • Believe it or not, I think the tone for the game was set by that first turnover ND made, and our inability to turn that into points. I think Borges and Denard started pressing too much after that. The sad thing is we could have won a ball-control, grind-it-out, low-scoring, slugfest-type game, but Borges gameplanned for needing to get in the 30’s. The ND/Staee game should have taught us that ND is not winning with offense this year.

Malachi Crunch

  • ND was held to 94 yards rushing for on 31 attempts for a 3.0 average.
  • Only 14 players show up in the defensive stats. ND only ran 50 plays. Apparently, they didn’t want the ball either.
  • Kovacs and Morgan were the leading tacklers with 7 apiece.
  • Q. Washington played well and got half a tackle for loss for zero yards. If you wonder how that’s possible, join the club. He did get into the backfield a few times, but didn’t wrap up when he did.
  • Taylor had an awesome INT that made me flashback to one of those games we won 38-0. Alas, we couldn’t capitalize on it.
  • I have to admit ND’s defense is good. They had 5 TFLs and 4 QHs to our 2 and 1.

Ermahgerd, Desmond "Shoestring" Robinson?

  • Last week, I wrote, “Denard had one poor pass/decision, throwing a pick-six, but better he do that against UMass than ND, ‘cause he rarely does that kind of thing, right?” Well, at least we avoided the pick-six. I’ll be expecting a first class ticket to Bolivian in the mail.
  • According to Tom Hammond and Mike Mayock (more later) our fourth string QB, Desmond “Shoestring” Robinson, got the start. I kept waiting for the “Denard who owns ND” to show up, but we ran out of time in the 2ndhalf.


  • On the 24 yard pass play ND had down to our six, their right tackle started early. Had that been called, it potentially wipes out an ND TD.
  • I think the refs missed another holding penalty early in the game where an ND lineman tried to remove Roh’s shoulder pads.
  • Penalties were even at 5 apiece. I guess that’s the best you can expect when you are playing on the road against G_d.

Bunches of Funchess

  • When I was 16 and learning how to drive, my Dad, trying his best to impart some constructive criticism without being overly harsh, said, “ST3, your driving lacks a certain smoothness.” I think it’s wonderful how Devin Gardner has moved over to WR to help the team, but at this point in his career, I think his route running lacks a certain smoothness.
  • On the INT thrown in front of Gardner, why is everyone assuming that was Denard’s fault? He is a senior QB and our all time yardage leader. Gardner is a converted QB playing WR in his 4thgame.
  • Roundtree horribly mistimed his jump on the end-of-half hail Mary, probably costing us another turnover, but that play was meaningless. I do worry about what that suggests about Roundtree. He’s great on the quick hitters and underneath stuff, but I still don’t see him getting separation on the deep balls. He had 3 catches for 30 yards with a long of 11.
  • You can’t stop the Funchess, you can only hope to contain him, and ND did to the tune of 2 catches for only 11 yards.

I Can Hate Donkeys Again?

  • We saw glimpses of the 2011 end-of-season running game. We’ll need more of that going forward.
  • Subtracting sack yardage, we did fairly well on the ground. Toussaint averaged 4.5 yards on 13 carries, helped by a 31 yard gain.
  • We outrushed ND 161-94.

Special Teams Stuff

  • Norfleet continues to get the ball and go Norf and Souf. I like how he gets it and goes.
  • I think Brian wasted a bunch of electrons on his punting post this week, as neither team returned a punt.
  • Gibbons made two and missed one from the hash. I hate kicks from the hash. If I was a coach, I’d never attempt a kick from the hashmark. The angle just screws everything up.

I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex

  • In the non-points related aspects of the game, we did fairly well, getting more first downs (19-14,) more total yards (299-239,) and doing better on third down (8 of 15 vs. 3 of 9.) Heck, we only punted once. (/ducks)
  • Red zone efficiency or lack thereof was also a big factor. We went 2 of 5, they were 2 of 3.
  • Time of possession was odd, we dominated the 1stand 3rdquarters with 11+ minutes each, and ND controlled the 2ndand 4thquarters with 9+ minutes.
  • Check out the drive chart. We had 7 drives in the first half, but only three in the second.

Outside the Boxscore

  • I updated my “most annoying color men” list and put Mike Mayock at the top of the list. Doesn’t he realize he’s covering a game for television, not radio? For 3 and a half hours he wouldn’t shut up. Take a breather, Mike, and let the game speak for itself every now and then. At the end of the half, he castigated Omameh for making a “dumb play” by hitting someone late. The only problem was, replay showed the ND player launching himself from behind Omameh and ND got the 15 yard penalty. Mike’s response, “My bad.” Yeah, you’re right Mike, you are bad. Fortunately, we only have to listen to him once every other year.
  • NBC’s studio analyst for the game was Liam McHugh. Here’s how I think the interview went.

NBC Exec: What’s your name?

McHugh: Liam McHugh.

NBC Exec: You’re hired!

Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.


snarling wolverine

September 23rd, 2012 at 6:57 PM ^

The worst thing about NBC was the constant commercial breaks.  If you take a commercial break before the kickoff, do you really need another one after it?  I'm glad the other networks aren't (yet) that ad-hungry.


September 23rd, 2012 at 7:37 PM ^

I remember, at one point during the game, I was telling my friends I wish they would just take Q OUT OF THE GAME after 2 whiffs and a big penalty all on the same drive.  Other than the ridiculous number of turnovers, I am not too disappointed in the team.  I guess it was just the Irish's time to win.  On to the B1G schedule.  Beat sparty and ohio...then beat Purdue for a second time in the same year.  Then the season will be a success.  B1G champs.


September 23rd, 2012 at 8:53 PM ^

"Or kicking off to a guy named Rocket AFTER he’s already burned you for a kick return TD."

That's a painful memory. To me, it was evidence of Bo's dark side (specifically, an inability or refusal to make necessary in-game adjustments).


September 24th, 2012 at 10:23 AM ^

they'd get Rocket the second time and make a statement. Bo wanted to kick away but decided on his staff's recommendation. He then took ownership for his decision in the press conference.

I too wish Bo's gut won out over his staff's bravado that day.


September 23rd, 2012 at 9:39 PM ^

Returns averaged the 26th yard line.  After four games, Norfleet ranks 41st at 24.1 yards / return.  Chase Clayton of New Mexico leads the nation, with 6 returns; he averages 43.3 yards and has 2 touchdowns.

On an unrelated note, Mayock may be a chatty cathy and get some stuff wrong, but he'll typically have more insights during a game than the typical analyst.  Sure, not a high bar, but I'll take what I can get.













Norfleet 33 yards




Norfleet 24 yards, holding penalty




Norfleet 30 yards



September 23rd, 2012 at 11:59 PM ^

The Gardner INT was on Gardner. The Gardner shoulder injury involving a 6'4" WR lunging OB trying to catch a pass against a 5'11" DB I the end zone was all Robinson. The reality is that Denard laid a turd in this game and we lost because of his atrocious play. Nothing will change that. Maybe he'll put up 1000 yards against Purdue, maybe not, but he played like ass in this game. Truthfully, he should have been yanked. Rest of the season aside, there is a point when a big stinky turd needs to be dealt with. Hoke should have benched Denard for at least a series to settle him down.


September 24th, 2012 at 1:15 AM ^

Yea I found Mike Mayock to be comically bad.  The announcers were totally biased which wasn't a surprise but it still made it especially irritating when things weren't going well.  And yes, Mayock would not shut up.  He would just say things as a matter of fact and often times what he was spewing was patently false.  The Omameh late hit was a perfect example.  He 100% did not see what the penalty was, so what does he do?  He launches into Omameh about what a stupid penalty... only the replay shows Mayock does not know what he is talking about.  Also how many times did he call Denard Devin?  Idiot!!!!!!!!!!  Plus he looked really angry with that old man furrowed brow anytime the camera was on him.  That with the bad plastic surgery on that freak Hammond...NBC has got themselves a real winning crew.


September 24th, 2012 at 3:16 PM ^

Mayock clearly had an off-night; at least he will say complementary things about opposing players; something his predecessor never did (except when the opponent was USC).

I'm willing to cut Mayock some slack, he's forced to spend 3+ hours in a booth with Tom Hammond whose head appears to be expanding faster than the Universe.


September 24th, 2012 at 8:41 AM ^

Roundtree had nothing to do with the Hail Mary interception.  Denard overthrew everyone, which is, like, his MO at this point.  If a deep route is called, he will overthrow it badly about 80% of the time.

And the Gardner slant/post interception was on Denard, too.  Gardner ran the route.  Maybe it wasn't as crisp as another receiver would have run it, but if you know you're throwing it to a converted QB, then a) don't throw it or b) throw it better.

I don't understand why people try to explain away Denard's poor throws.  "Oh, he threw it too high to a 5'6" guy, but the 5'6" guy should just grow taller.  Oh, he threw a Hail Mary jump ball to a place where only Notre Dame guys could catch it, but Roundtree should just jump higher."

Denard has thrown 23 picks and 26 touchdowns over the past 17 games.  He has 46 touchdowns and 38 picks in his career.  How many passes does he have to throw into the chests of opposing players before we just say, "Oh yeah. It's Denard. This is what he does"?

By comparison, Chad Henne threw 87 touchdowns and 37 interceptions on 1,387 career attempts.

Denard has 46 touchdowns and 38 interceptions on 679 career attempts.  He is a terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible passing quarterback.


September 24th, 2012 at 9:11 AM ^

If there is any real progression in the last two years, it's that teams have to work harder to push him out of his comfort zone, but once they do, he gets bad very quickly. So, we'll see better performances against inferior opposition, but against elite teams there will be regression.

Notre Dame had a great scheme and talented athletes, that put pressure on Denard through blitzes and a wide variety of reads he had to make. It's small comfort that the next team with the personnel to pull those shenanigans will be Ohio. Maybe MSU, but probably not this year.


September 24th, 2012 at 10:56 AM ^

I disagree on the Gardner slant.  He should understand the significance of the defender's alignment.  The DB was lined up insde, putting him in perfect position to defend the slant.  Gardner has to understand that and come out of his break with speed, in an effort to keep that DB on his back hip.  If Devin comes out of his break with speed, three things would have happened: 

  1. a completion
  2. an incomplete pass
  3. pass interference

Instead, he false steps off the line (every single time, btw), doesn't come out of his break fast, and let's the DB dictate who got position on the ball.



September 24th, 2012 at 11:10 AM ^

Agreed that it wasn't a good route.  But regardless, there was a clear chance for a completion.  The quarterback can't just throw a post to a spot and expect the receiver to be there.  He has to gauge the speed of his receiver and the coverage.  If the receiver isn't where he's supposed to be, doing what he's supposed to do, don't throw the damn ball.  Or throw it more accurately.

Gardner isn't a great receiver.  He's playing the position for the first time.  Denard should be aware of that and adjust accordingly.  Instead, he's just throwing to a spot.


September 24th, 2012 at 11:21 AM ^

I read your blog and it appears we agree on Quinton Washington.

Denard is not Henne. He doesn't have the height to see over the line like Henne. Henne wasn't the runner that Denard is, so comparing Denard to Henne seems like a stretch. They both accumulated over 9400 yards.

Yes, Denard throws a lot of interceptions and makes poor decisions, but the point I was trying to make in the diary is that it is still a team game and everyone has a role (or in Denard's words, must be accountable.) When Denard throws a bad ball, it is incumbent on the WR to become a DB and prevent the INT from happening. I haven't seen that happen yet this year. On the Roundtree overthrow, watch the play again and if you don't think Roundtree jumped too early, explain why he had landed from his jump before the ball even got to him. If he runs through that play, he has a chance to catch the ball or at least knock it away from the DB.

And I believe in the West Coast offenses, you are taught to lead your receiver and throw to a spot where they should be based on coverages. Gardner and Denard are not on the same page yet. They've been playing together for a couple months. It's understandable.


September 24th, 2012 at 11:37 AM ^

Comparing Henne to Denard is certainly fair.  They both play the same position.  I know Denard runs much better than Henne, but he didn't turn the ball over at the same rate.  You can't score points without the football.  And when I make comments about Denard, I generally qualify that he is a poor PASSING quarterback, since there's more to playing QB than just throwing the ball (team leadership, running, managing the team, etc.).

Roundtree may have mistimed his jump, but it's irrelevant because the throw was too deep.  And even so, the point of a Hail Mary isn't to hit a guy in stride; it's to give the receiver a chance to catch the ball so he can maybe do something good after the catch.  With three or four defensive backs deeper than the ball, hitting a guy in stride is an exercise in futility.


September 24th, 2012 at 11:37 AM ^

I still have a differing opinion.  The slant route is a timing route.  The QB is supposed to throw it to a spot where your WR is SUPPOSED to be.  The timing is worked out in practice and over the summer in 7 on 7s.  They've probably thrown that route 200 times since the end of last season.  But I'll bet dollars to donuts, DG came out of his break faster on all 199 previous reps.


September 24th, 2012 at 11:40 AM ^

But not all wide receivers run at the same speed.  Not all defenses play the route the same.  You don't run a slant route against press man coverage the same way you do against Cover 3.  A quarterback has eyes for a reason.  He can't just take three steps backward and throw a pass 30 degrees to his right at 45 mph and expect it to be complete; if he could, we would have seen a blind quarterback make it to the NFL by now.


September 24th, 2012 at 12:08 PM ^

"Not all receivers run at the same speed"

-Right.  That's why they practice and have 7on7s.  QBs learn the speed with which each individual receiver runs their routes. 

"You don't run a slant against press the same way as Cover 3"

-Obviously right.  But the safety was playing 8 yards off the line.  There was no press man coverage to worry about.  PRE-SNAP READ!!!

"A QB has eyes for a reason"
-yea, so he can see that the safety is playing off the WR by almost 10 yards!


They practice this stuff a ton.  Denard knows how fast DG runs and DG knows how hard DR throws the ball.  This wasn't the first time either of them had seen this coverage.