Inside the Boxscore - Team 134, Game 7

Submitted by ST3 on October 19th, 2013 at 11:57 PM

   Holy Offensive Extravaganza Batman! In the interest of time, I'm going to break format again, skip the introductory paragraph and get right to the numbers. Michigan gained 1237 yards on 98 plays, accruing 73 first downs in the process. Devin Gardner led the way with 712 yards passing. Jeremy Gallon's 26 receptions accounted for 560 of those yards. The rushing game returned in grand style, with Fitz Toussaint running for 234 yards and 8 touchdowns, behind a line featuring a fourth string left guard and three high school seniors. Michigan won the time of possession battle, 52:12 to 7:48. Michigan punted negative three times, and finished seven for four on third down conversions. Raymon Taylor led the defense with 37 tackles and 16 pass breakups. Yes, these numbers are completely made up. They are ridiculous, but so are these numbers:

Burst of Impetus
* Early in the game, it was obvious that Indiana was throwing to the receiver guarded by Raymon Taylor. Taylor got beat deep, giving up a 59 yard TD to IU. On the next drive, they went back at Taylor, hitting Latimer for a 14 yard gain. After an incomplete pass and a five yard run, Sudfeld went back towards Taylor. Taylor absolutely lit up the TE, Bolser, forcing an incompletion. Later in the first quarter, on another third down, Indiana went back at Taylor down the sideline. He just barely turned his head around and got another deflection. Later in the game he got another PBU on third down and forced a field goal. The boxscore lists him with 4 of Michigan's 5 pass breakups. He did make 9 tackles, so it's obvious Indiana was targeting him and giving him opportunities. He wasn't perfect, BUT HE MADE PLAYS. In a back and forth game, the key to winning was who was going to be able to break serve. Indiana was 8 of 14 on third down. Half of those stops are directly attributable to Taylor. The other defensive player who MADE PLAYS (2 of them, in fact) was Thomas Gordon. He did not record a tackle, but he did make two huge interceptions that gave the Impetus back to Michigan both times.

Young 98
* Devin Gardner was 21 for 29 with ZERO INTERCEPTIONS! (That's not difficult to do when IU's DBs were rarely in the same time zone as our WRs, and the line provided good protection for the most part.)
* He threw for 503 yards, 2 TDs, and a long of 70 yards (thanks to Gallon.)
* His bad habit of flinging wild throws to avoid sacks returned, but fortunately, did not result in any INTs.
* Al Borges is the QB coach. Is Al the one responsible for teaching Devin how to pitch the ball to Fitz? I'm, of course, referring to the fumble. It was attributed to Fitz, but the pitch was the problem. I have a hard time picturing in my mind, Al out on the field giving Gardner instructions on the proper way to pitch the ball back to the RB.

The Bluesmobile
* After suffering through the 27 for 27 documentary, Fitz ran 32 times for 151 yards net. The longest run was only 27 yards, so this is not one of those cases where a guy's stats are inflated by a 60 or 70 yard TD run. He scored 4 TDs.
* Derrick Green pitched in 21 yards on 6 carries.

V. Sinha Legends Jersey
* Jeremy Gallons actual stats were 14 receptions for 369 yards and 2 TDs. He caught 2/3 of Gardner's completions.
* Devin Funchess was the second option, catching 4 balls for 84 yards. Towards the end of the game UofM was trying to run out the clock. They faced a 3rd and 6. Instead of running on third down, Al called for a pass. 38 yards later, Funchess had given UofM another first down, and three more opportunities to run clock. I think that is the go-for-the-win attitude that we became accustomed to under Brady Hoke, that was sadly missing last week against PSU.
* Jeremy Jackson returned to the field, catching 2 balls for 23 yards.
* I love Dileo and if I were in charge of the offense, I'd involve him more, so what I'm going to say next may amount to heresy. Is it possible that he's not getting open on the other ~60 plays, or that he's not great at blocking? I also wonder if he got hurt, because he wasn't back there fielding punts. Maybe Borges just wanted to give Devin a slightly bigger target in Jackson.

* Midway through the first quarter, Joey Burzynski got hurt. So let's review our situation at Left Guard this year. Glasgow started the season there, only to move to center in an attempt to shore up the middle. Chris Bryant was the next man in. He's either injured or not as effective as the staff would like, so he was replaced by Burzynski. When he got hurt, Kyle Bosch entered the lineup. Yep, our 4th string left guard. Indiana did get 2 sacks and 7 TFLs, but I can honestly say, I didn't notice Bosch out there, and that's a compliment for a lineman. He may have made a mistake or two, or missed an assignment, but I didn't notice.
* A bruised and bloodied Taylor Lewan returned to the lineup. I was a little worried before the game started, as Lewan showed very little enthusiasm jumping up to touch the M Club banner. To think he could be making millions of dollars today, all I can say is thank you, we appreciate your effort and loyalty to our shared University.
* I would be remiss not to mention Graham Glasgow's hustle. At the end of Gallon's 70 yard run after the catch, Glasgow was right there. There were several other long plays where I noticed Glasgow hustling down the field looking for another block. The guy can move for someone his size.

Norf and Souf
* Norfleet returned 6 kicks for 121 yards. He made a couple poor decisions, but on average, the results were fine.

Special Teams
* So is this blocked FG thing something I'm going to have to worry about for the rest of the season?
* Five of Wile's 10 kickoffs were touchbacks. IU didn't do much with 4 of the 5 they returned.
* On one kickoff, we kicked from the 50 due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on IU. Doesn't game theory demand an onside-kick there? Or at least a high, short, coverage kick where you can pin them back inside the 20? If they recover the onside kick, they get the ball at their own 35. Instead, we kicked it out of the endzone and they got the ball at the 25. For 10 yards, I'd take that chance at getting the ball back. This was not a field position game. This was a ball possession game, as in, if you had possession of the ball you were likely going to score.

I'm an international umpire
* The refs let them play. IU had 3 penalties for 20 yards and Michigan had 4 for 15 yards. I noticed some holding and maybe some DBs getting to the WR a little early, but nothing outrageous, and the officials didn't get nitpicky. I'd rather they call a foul a foul, but it kept the flow of the game going nicely, and they were consistent, which is all you can ask for.

* I covered the important stuff in the Impetus section. We got some stops.
* Help me out, Alannis Morrissette, is it ironic that we ended the game by sacking IU's QB? I say yes.
* Besides Taylor's 9 tackles, JR3 had 8, Jourdan Lewis and Morgan had 5, and Wilson had 4. That's a lot of DBs, but that's to be expected in a game like this.

Miscellaneous Bullets
* It seemed like neither defense could stop the opposing offense. In fact, it seemed like neither team faced many difficult third downs. So I decided to review the play-by-play and see how the two teams did on first and second down. My numbers aren't quite adding up, but they are close to being accurate. In the all-important second down conversion stat, Michigan dominated Indiana going 14 for 26, to Indiana's 10 for 24. On first down, Michigan was 14 for 41 to Indiana's 10 for 35. That's right, we had 35 first downs, and gained 28 of them, 80%, on either first or second down. Indiana's defense is horrible.

* I mentioned in the Game 1 diary that my dad passed away from cancer this summer. Michigan broke out the pink accoutrements to raise awareness. I think most people are "aware" of the major cancers - breast, lung, prostrate, etc. In fact, my dad was a five year survivor of prostate cancer. Spending our limited resources attacking the most common cancers makes sense (Spock would agree, the needs of the many, etc.) but let's also spend some time raising awareness of the less common cancers, because these are often the ones that aren't diagnosed in a timely manner. A year and a half ago, dad was diagnosed with urothelial cancer. The problem was mis-diagnosed for a good 3-4 months, during which time the cancer may have doubled in size and changed from something that could be dealt with, to something that was fatal. I'm all for raising awareness, but I also think we need to be doing more in terms of improving diagnosis and treatment options.

My dad took my brother to the Anthony Carter/IU game. I suppose I should be jealous of my brother for that, but I was the one who got to hear Bob Ufer call the play. So who was the lucky one? HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK!!!




October 20th, 2013 at 1:33 AM ^

That pitch wasn't perfect, but it was good enough that it should have been caught.  The BTN announcers said it was all on Fitz; you say it's all on Gardner.  I'll play Solomon and cut the football in half: they were each 50% responsible.

Still, if I recall, there was a botched pitch play at Penn State, too.  And when the play was run to the opposite side of the field later in the game, Gardner should have pitched it, but hung on to it for a couple yard loss.  A loss is better than a turnover, but still, the play loses its effectivness if the defense can just key on the QB and ignore the trailing RB.


October 20th, 2013 at 9:03 AM ^

Is there a way for quantfying missed tackles? But for one turnover and like a gazillion missed tackles, this game was totally closer than it should have been.

Then there is this problem of piling on a gang tackle in the direction of the first down marker as well ...

snarling wolverine

October 20th, 2013 at 9:54 AM ^

Norfleet returned 6 kicks for 121 yards. He made a couple poor decisions, but on average, the results were fine.

20 yards per KOR is actually pretty mediocre. I think we need to improve in this area. Norfleet ranks 39th nationally in KOR average (24.0 avg), which might be acceptable in general, but he doesn't seem likely to rip off a long return. His season long (44) is much shorter than most of the guys' on this list:…


October 20th, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

Norfleet is fast and is a threat, but he seems to have the opposite problem he had last year.  Last year, he seemed to most often run in a straigth line at top speed.  This year he reverses field more often, which has a higher risk / higher reward.  The problem comes when he reverses field too many times and starts running backwards, losing yards.  The one return where he reversed field 3 or 4 times was excrutiating to watch (though probably great fun for IU fans).


October 20th, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

This year he reverses field more often, which has a higher risk / higher reward.


On a kickoff return, the risk greatly outweighs the reward - there are too many fast players in kickoff coverage for it to succeed.  Besides the kicker, pretty much the rest of the KO unit is fast and the return team can't hold blocks for that long, given how fast the play goes.

On a punt return, reversing field can succeed because there are a lot fewer fast players in coverage (since the OL and the punter take up six of the 11 spots).  If you can get past the gunners, you're in business.  But on a KOR, it shouldn't be attempted.



October 20th, 2013 at 1:53 PM ^

Is Al the one responsible for teaching Devin how to pitch the ball to Fitz? I'm, of course, referring to the fumble. It was attributed to Fitz, but the pitch was the problem.

Confirmation bias on your part? The pitch looked okay to me.


October 20th, 2013 at 3:04 PM ^

I defended Borges after the UConn game. I'm just trying to call it like I see it, and that pitch looked low and too far in front of Fitz, making him adjust his path. Plus, the rotation looked odd to me. I tried to see if Borges ever played QB and couldn't find anything. I'm not saying you can't coach the position if you haven't played it, but I think it would be nice to have someone with actual playing experience working with Devin. You can't expect these guys to have all the fundamentals down when they arrive at college.


October 20th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

I think you are looking for something that's not there.  The pitch looked pretty normal to me - they're supposed to lead the tailback - and Fitz just muffed it.  It happens.  To draw some larger conclusion about our QB coaching from that is silly.




October 20th, 2013 at 3:46 PM ^

I'm using that play as an example. I coach basketball, and I'm currently being coached in badminton. I find it is much easier to teach a skill if I can demonstrate it first, instead of just describing it. Likewise, my badminton coach has me learn everything through repetition, but he very rarely demonstrates the skill. Someone else at the club will show me something, and it's obvious. My point is, I have trouble picturing Al out on the field demonstrating proper technique. He may be great at it. I don't know, I've never been to practice. Is this just me judging him based on his appearance (i.e., weight?) Possibly, but believe me, it has nothing to do with confirmation bias or me thinking Al is a bad hire. I think he can be successful here. His play calling at times is excellent, at times I wish he'd be less stubborn. He's got 6 (or 7) more games to go this season. If we get more games like Penn State, I think it's fair to critically evaluate his performance and see where he could improve. Having someone who has played QB work with the QBs might be one area.


October 20th, 2013 at 6:25 PM ^

I just saw it on BTN.  Stomach high and out front. Maybe a couple inches too out in front, but the problem was that Fitz took a look at some IU defender flashing his way.

As far as teaching mechanics, maybe they just watched this video.  The pitch was exactly the same as every tripple option pitch I've ever seen.


October 20th, 2013 at 6:33 PM ^

Glad someone else noticed Glasgow hauling ass on the Gallon tunnel screen. We got a steal, it's pretty rare for someone of his size and athleticism to slip through coaches and recruitniks unnoticed, raw or not. He might be the best lineman we have not named Lewan.