Question- were we tipping the run or just getting run over by Neb?

Submitted by iawolve on November 21st, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Not out to complain after a win like that, just wondering what was happening on many of the negative runs? I was not sure if this issue was from alignment, our tendencies or just good defensive play calls. It is one thing to get stopped and another to have guys waiting in the backfield. Pelini mentioned wanting to bull rush up the middle to slow Denard and our offense which now seems to be the default strategy against us. This could also be due a perceived weakness with our interior line, would appreciate any insight.




November 21st, 2011 at 10:54 AM ^

I think we're a little bit predictable based on down, distance, and game situation...

...but it's also clear by this point in the season that the coaches are terrified of throwing the ball because Denard is so erratic, so if you run the ball 60 times and pass it 18 (or something like that), then guessing "run" every time is probably going to be pretty accurate.


November 21st, 2011 at 11:06 AM ^

This.  We've shown that we run the ball a lot.  We've also shown that we're pretty good at it, so that's OK.  But when that's the case, the right DL stunt is going to get guys in the backfield at times.  However, that same stunt can also send Toussaint or Denard 8 or 15 or 50 yards down field. 

We still ran for 238 yards in a game where we played pretty conservatively at the end.  We only had 3.9 ypc, but I bet that was a yard higher than that before the last couple drives.  Also, running at such a high clip is likely a big part of the reason we had 9.5 yards per attempt through the air.

Spontaneous Co…

November 21st, 2011 at 10:55 AM ^

Sorry for immediately sending this thread off on a tangent, but as you can see, I can't start my own. 

I may have missed it, but I was curious to know what commits and recruits were at the Nebraska game.  Next to the ND game, that was the best game of the year and I hope some commits and key recruits were able to witness it in person.


November 21st, 2011 at 10:55 AM ^

The default strategy also worked to the tune of 238 rushing yards, so I am not too worried about it.  Part of that might be poor reads by Denard on whether to run or hand off, there were a few of those.  

As an aside, I like Michigan football when our criticisms of the team are little concerns about a few negative runs and not an existential question of whether or not the defense is merely hypothetical.


November 21st, 2011 at 11:13 AM ^

Although I agree we didn't run it extremely well, if you take out the three kneeldowns and the garbage time runes (Shaw had 2 carries for a net zero yards), we ran at about 4.5 yards per carry, which is not bad at all on 50+ attempts. 

That would be bad if it was because they had shut down our passing game, but it was actually the opposite.  They were manageable against the run because they left the passing game pretty open.

EDIT FOR STATS:  Fitz had two catches for 4 yards, but if you take those two out (because that's not really part of the "passing" game), our receivers averaged 19.6 yards per catch.  When Denard was throwing it down field, we got yards. 


November 21st, 2011 at 11:04 AM ^

We were tipping the type of run with Fitz's pre-snap split. When he lined up a yard behind Denard, we ran between the tackles every time (the RB can get downhill easier with a running start). Meanwhile, Fitz lining up next to Denard tipped outside run.

I can only hope we go against this tendency for a big play against Ohio.


November 21st, 2011 at 11:07 AM ^

It looked to me like we were a step ahead of Nebraska in the chalk department the entire game.  It seemed to me like we were frequently one missed block or one spectacular Lavonte David shoestring tackle away from breaking a big one.  On that screen that was intercepted -- it looked like we had it set up nicely and if the ball had been about two inches higher, that might have been a huge play.

I expect the RPS metric from the first three quarters of this game to be hugely positive.


November 21st, 2011 at 4:25 PM ^

Agree completely. Lewan was just kind of standing there, and the biggest issue I had was that he seemed he was farther away from Denard then the defender who intercepted it (their good defensive end). That being said the DE read the play completely and it looked like a DT and LB might have been crashing down on the play, so I don't think it would have worked out well, even if it wasn't picked. That also is one of the downsides to having a 5/11 QB who doesn't have great touch, sometimes we have seen the DE's getting their big ol' bear paws up on the ball.

CRISPed in the DIAG

November 21st, 2011 at 11:07 AM ^

Since the MSU game, I've been watching Molk's head pre-snap when we're aligned in shotgun.  It seems he continues to look down toward the QB, then quickly back up a moment before the snap.  Is this our give-away, or doesn't it matter?

Mr. Yost

November 21st, 2011 at 11:31 AM ^

We became EXTREMELY was run-run-run pass. Even on Fitz's two big runs of the year (at the end of the Illinois game and end of the Nebraska game) he had to do some CRAZY things to get to the end zone.

It wasn't like Minnesota or WMU where we were just dominating and opening huge holes.


One thing we have stopped doing (which tipped the run, and the direction) is on the Denard QB Iso's...whenever it was a running down and he'd read the defense and then flip the RB to the otherside of the formation. You knew 100% of the time it was a QB Iso and he was going to run behind the RB.

I think this is why we've struggled in the redzone so much, because we've stopped using that play as much and we definitely don't flip the RB and tip our hand like we used to.

Personally, I think we should go back to it because it's been since the MSU game that we used it as a staple. When we need 3-4 yards it works. Just don't use it every single time.


November 21st, 2011 at 12:28 PM ^

Is it just me or does it seem like they try to run the option on short yardage a few times a game for the past couple of games and Denard just doesn't pitch it to the RB. It may be a designed keeper, but the action sure looks like option. anyone seeing the same play?



November 21st, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

As Magnus said we run a lot.  

Also Nebraska is a prime candidate to be Lloyd-balled to death.  They do not have a quick strike offense and are based on scoring by running.  So if you get 14 or 17 points out in front of them, grinding time off the clock is winning.  That's true of course with any team, but more true with Nebraska than say Notre Dame who can just go all Michael Floyd on you if needed.  

So it was obvious even before the game we'd run the rock to death.


November 21st, 2011 at 1:26 PM ^

Exactly, if Miller struggles early and we get a three score cushion I want to see us focus on ball security, keeping the clock moving, and punting if needed.  If we grind out a 2.5 minute drive, punt, and they take 2.5 minutes to score that's a third of a quarter gone.  Let Floyd and T-Wolf bracket Posey to avoid a sudden strike and we're good.  Figure we score every other drive or every third drive and we win simply because tOSU lacks the time to catch up.  

tOSu's best weapon is by far their defense and we want to avoid feeding them an INT or anything of that nature.


November 21st, 2011 at 12:42 PM ^

Sometimes the defense just outplays the offense, especially in predictable situations.  I don't think there's any big explanation besides that.


November 21st, 2011 at 1:55 PM ^

I thought maybe Denard was a little hesitant on some reads, where he could have pitched to Toussaint and didn't,  which resulted in a few negative plays...but that should improve.  


November 21st, 2011 at 4:50 PM ^

I think the point with our run game v Nebraska was almost the opposite of what it was last year. We were'nt trying to score as quickly as possible, we were trying to score, but it seemed it was more important that we keep the ball and run the clock down,to keep the Nebraska offense off the field as long as possible.  Gunning for a strategy like that requires you to run the ball more than you would normally want to, even running it predictably, for a benefit other than yards. I think an efficient run game, and a balanced offense was less important than managing the game, wearing the Nebraska D out, and resting our defense against an up-tempo spread rushing attack. The offense wasn't as pretty as it could have been with more diverse playcalling, but it gave us a 41-19 minute TOP victory. Totally worth it.