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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

29M20PassBreaston5Diamond formation. Massey(-1) lets Crum get to the outside of him, preventing this from going for like 10.
35M25PassDutch13Nice play design to drag Hart across the zone and get Dutch open.
110M38PassDutchIncBatted at the line, you can't blame Henne for this; the defender is just too close.
210M38Run Hart1Just a wad of players at the line. No hole whatsoever.
39M39PassNo oneIncTwo guys come from the right, Hart picks up the inside one, Henne throws it away.
Drive notes: Terrible decision by Mason(-1) on the kickoff. One unblocked blitzer, two stuffed run plays, and a short pass blocked at the line by a defender really close to him.
110M34PassBreaston9The old Braylon stop route.
-10Holding on Henige, legit. Henne scrambled for the first down.
211M33PassHartIncAbimiri bats it down. There isn't really anything Henne can do about this, either… it's a screen! Riley has to chop Abiamiri's legs out to open up the passing lane.
311M33PassAvant6A stunting blitz by the WLB gets to Henne unblocked, and he finds whoever he can.
Drive Notes: Too much pressure. The story of these first two drives is the ND DL beating the UM OL. You've got a holding penalty, two instances of unblocked blitzers, and two batted passes.
110M30PassHartIncThis is a missed interference call, isn't it? Hart was interfered with with the ball in the air.
210M30PassEcker16Easy. Hole in the zone, henne looks off the D and finds him
110M46RunHart0Toss sweep that knocks Hart out of the game. Thompson can't seal off the LB, who forces the play back inside, where two LBs clean it up.
210M46PassDutch4This is a great pass from Henne, who lofts the ball high enough to get it past the good zone coverage and into Dutch's hands.
Henne pump fakes. Swann says it's because he was looking for Ecker but Ecker fell down.
Drive notes: this is the punt where Harrison lets it roll past him. Can't blame Henne yet.
110M44RunBreaston30reverse. Nice block from Henne, and a clever pull from the center gets out on the linebacker who's supposed to have contain.
110O26PassBreastonIncPerfect pass from Henne, and Breaston just drops it.
210O26RunGrady5Left side of the ND D gets caved in, but Ecker's block gets shed or this is 8-10
35O21PassNo oneIncTwo blitzers and still no one open? Henne throws this away after getting flushed. Might have had a chance to find someone, but Grady's cut block doesn't stop the momentum of one blitzer, so he has to take off, and the second guy comes off his man.
Drive notes: Field goal. Again a blitzer forces an incompletion (3).
110M41RunMartin-4Lentz gets his ass kicked.
214M37PassBreastonIncBreaston is open but Henne just misses him, Lentz goes down on this play.
The blitz is on Henne instantly as Grady busts the pickup.
Drive notes: This is the first actual bad pass from Henne. The OL is getting blown up on a regular basis, making it impossible to put anything together. Blitz bust #4.
110M25PassManninghamIncWooden is in good position and just impedes Manningham enough to prevent him from getting to the ball.
210M25RunGrady10Now it's ND's turn to get vicimized by six in the box against 3 WR
110M35PassMassey1Happy feet for henne, who had a pocket, but bailed out and hit the outlet too soon.
29M36RunGrady5Grady makes 3 or so after contact after vaulting a defender, a nice run.
33M41PassEcker9Kraus gets beat but Henne finds Ecker anyway.
11050RunGrady2Henige can't block off the LB or there's a big hole for Grady.
-5False start on Massey
213M47PassNo one0Henne again flushes from the pocket prematurely.
313M47PassAvant5Slip screen to Avant, what a ridiculous call. At least bomb it deep.
Drive notes: Halftime. Note two instances of happy feet for Henne: he's lost faith in his blockers. The Avant slip screen indicates that the coaches have too. At the half, the story on this side of the ball is the OL getting its ass kicked.
110M18Run Grady0 + 5No push from the line, incidental face mask on ND.
15M23Run Grady6Makes 4 after contact.
110M29Run Grady23Grady's long run, the cutback here is inexplicable. If he just keeps going he'll get caught, but another 20-30 yards downfield. Paul and Breaston get good blocks to open it up.
110O48Run Grady3More after contact push from Grady. 3 yards against a very unfavorable D.
27O45PassAvantIncAvant is wide open and Henne just doesn't get it there.
37O45PassEcker7Accurate. Zone leaves Ecker wide open.
110O38Run Grady1Too many guys in the box.
29O37PassEcker2Waggle, just dumps it off to a covered Ecker.
37O35PassEcker11This ball floats a little bit and wobbles, but it's there.
110O24Run Grady8Grady fumbles fighting for extra yards.
22O16Run Grady2
3InO14Run Henne1sneak.
110O13Run Grady1Grady has to cut it back because Paul's block doesn't clear the intended hole.
29O12PassEckerIntAvant was wide open cutting across the endzone. Just a horrible read.
Drive notes: The interception killed us. If you had to trace the loss back to one single play, that was it. Avant was heartbreakingly wide open. Henne falls apart after this, just watch.
110M24PassAvant7Lentz returns now. A simple throw to the guy with a cushion play.
32M32PassBreastonIncHoyte makes a nice play on an arrow route and knocks it down.
Drive notes: I don't know if that was a bad read or just a good play by Hoyte.
110M7RunGrady2Can't help but think if Hart would have done better with this. Grady just plows into the guy in front of him instead of juking.
28M9PassBreastonIncThe second bomb to Breaston that's open and well thrown but not caught.
38M9PassEckerIncHenne sails this ball to Ecker, asking him to leap and catch a bullet.
Drive notes: Breaston is not helping Henne at all, but the Ecker throw would have been for a first down if it was accurate. This is the only instance of a low release point forcing a sailed throw in the game despite the claims of some who are beguiled by Griese's color commentary.
110M22PassEcker21A perfectly placed seam route.
110M43RunJackson4There's just no room to run inside.
34M49PassBreastonIncBatted at the line. Again, this is not a problem with Henne's delivery. Throwing it above the defender means throwing it out of bounds.
Drive notes: The problem with batted passes in this game has come almost exclusively on three-step drops and screens. There's no QB in the world tall enough to avoid a well-placed hand and throw an accurate short pass; the problem here is with the OL not cutting the DEs.
110O18RunGrady7Nie blocks from Ecker and Thompson spring Grady up the middle.
23O11RunGrady4Grady manages to squeeze through what looks like nothing for the first.
1GO7RunGrady2Mays is unblocked.
2GO5RunGrady0Fumble. I think without the fumble Grady cuts back against the grain, skips past the defender, and scores. Despite what you may of heard, this is on Grady, not Henne.
3GO5PassAvantIncMay have just been throwing this away. I hate this call, a rollout on an obvious passing down on the goalline that cuts off half the field. No one was open.
4GO5PassAvantIncHenne throws this five yard out of bounds.
Drive notes: Ugh. 3 fumbles in two games from Grady, and what on God's green earth was that throw? It's fourth down, time to risk some interception.
25M44PassAvantIncBatted again. This is a three step drop, Riley has to get that guy's hands down.
35M44PassGradyIncScreen is read and destroyed.
45M44PassAvant55Incredible catch.
1GO1RunHenne1This is a touchdown. It's not even close. The decision to not award a touchdown and then to not review it is flat wrong. Henne is laying in the endzone.
Drive notes: Again, harping on the cut blocks, and then that devastating two play sequence.
11050PassAvant17Henne finally gets protection and hits an open Avant.
110O33PassEckerIncI can't see the coverage downfield but Ecker had a linebacker right on top of him.
210O33PassEckerIncJust missed Ecker nine yards downfield.
310O33PassEcker7Grady completely blows the blitz pickup but Henne finds Ecker anyway, a really nice play from him.
43O26PassManningham26TD. Looks like a coverage bust but an accurate throw and catch.
Drive notes: Well, it's a score, but it's heavily aided by a coverage bust. Swann picks out the fact that Campbell yelled at Manningham to decrease his split before the snap and that's why he was open. Great catch from Swann, who's also broken in with useful comments a couple other times. He's a sideline guy who's a net benefit, which is amazing.
110M42PassBreastonIncA crossing route against an LB coming off a zone that Breaston just drops. Probably had the corner and a first down if
210M42PassManninghamIncThis is the Manningham bomb where he gets a little touch from the DB, but the ball was uncatchable anyway. I hate this playcall. This is a low percentage play when you absolutely need a first down.
310M42PassEcker?IncTipped at the line again, this time on a legit dropback pass. You could put this on Henne if you so desire.

False start on Riley.
415M37PassEcker IncThree yard pass on fourth down.
Drive Notes: Breaston inserts the third nail in Henne's coffin on first down and then a questionable call, a batted pass, and then an inexplicable decision (one of several) end the game.

Analysis, FAQ style:

What the sam-hell happened?

A few things. Notre Dame's defensive line won the battle with Michigan's offensive line. Michigan's running was inconsistent and sporadic in the first half, and when Henne dropped back to pass he was often met with unblocked blitzers. When Henne did have time to get off a deep ball it was usually accurate but Breaston dropped two deep ones and a critical first-down ball on the final drive.


He actually didn't in the first half until late where you see two instances of unnecessary rollouts because he's lost faith in his blitz pickups. In the second half, though... well, to borrow a metaphor from poker, Henne went on tilt. Check the chart:

TeamDead onCatchableInaccurateBad ReadThrowawaysBatted

You've gone from 23/33 in the "good" category to 22/44 plus a couple sacks and the goalline fumble. Some of that was due to pressure but the two huge, touchdown-stealing mistakes were totally unforced.

What about the injuries?

They clearly had an effect. Massaquoi was ably replaced by Ecker but Ecker was not as ably replaced by Massey, who had some blocking issues and a false start. There was a small dropoff there. Though Grady ran well, the second fumble was a killer as that play was probably six without it if Grady cuts back appropriately. He also busted three blitz pickups, ruining those plays and contributing to the Henne meltdown. Being down Long, Kolodziej, and Lentz (for a bit) had to hurt the running game, and likely the pass protection.

What's the deal with all the batted passes?

This seems like a problem with the offensive line rather than Henne. Four of the five were on screens or three-step drops where Henne is making a short pass and he can't afford to loft a ball out there lest he get his receiver killed or get pick-sixed. On short drops it is the responsibility of the offensive line to get their defenders on the ground or at least control their hands enough to prevent them from knocking a pass down. Could Riley's relative inexperience at tackle be culpable? It's the OTs that have to clear the path for short sideline routes.


Henne, Breaston, and Grady. Henne's problems were discussed ad nauseum above and everywhere else on the internets, but it bears repeating: if Henne does not throw away two touchdowns we win. Breaston dropped three balls, any one of which would have changed the complexion of the game, and didn't do anything with his returns. Grady fumbled twice more and was a major reason that Henne started booking out for the sidelines whenever a linebacker looked at him funny.

Er, not heroes, but you know, non-goats?

Avant, Ecker, and that's it.

The coaching... sucks?

Not really. What are you supposed to do other than put your guys out there and put them in positions to succeed? This was done. The offense, when not failing to pick blitzes up, had Breaston and Avant open for touchdowns. They had efficient short routes that the OL did not clear a path for. They had Grady going in for six when he fumbled. They had Henne going in for six when he fumbled.

The players effed up. When Carr says they have to execute better this week, he's telling the God's honest truth. The Avant slip screen? Bad call. The Manningham bomb on the last drive? Bad call. But that's really all the complaining you can do. The final play was not designed for Ecker, but Henne threw it there anyway on fourth and fifteen; a microcosm of the situation.

I know its really hard to believe this, but anyone talking about Lloyd Carr screwing up another big game or getting wildly outcoached by Weis is talking out of their Bowden. The offensive and defensive designs were good enough to win this game, but this isn't NCAA 2006.

Grade: F.