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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

110M15PassManningham15Dude we took the ball. Manningham's out is wide open. (CA)
110M30RunHart6Henige pulls around and gets a good block, as does Thompson.
24M36PassBreaston10Slip screen to Breaston. Mass and Avant block it well; Breaston looks about as healthy as possible. (CA)
110M46RunHart5Hart injury. On this play he cuts outside and slices up, but he should have gone straight upfield.
25O49RunGrady2Takes a draw and slips after a few steps. This probably would have worked for something close to a first down without the slip.
33O47PassMassaquoiIncA really, really bad throw. Massaquoi is open and stationary; Henne misses him badly. (IN)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q. Second straight game Michigan's initial drive has ended with a third and three with an open receiver that Henne just misses.
110M19RunHart2Hart again cuts out side because there's absolutely nothing where the play is supposed to go. You can clearly see he doesn't have his usual explosion.
28M21Pass/PenaltyBreastonInc / 5Uh, yeah, another terribly thrown ball (IN). The call is ridiculous as well; ball is uncatchable; guy is on time.
110M26RunHart1He ain't right. Another cut outside, would have been 5 with a good ankle.
29M27PassAvant15Slant to Avant in some softish zone coverage. The interior WR's route opens up the space for Avant, and a very good throw opens up some YAC. (DO)
110M42PassBreastonIncBreaston is open on an out ten yards downfield, Henne plain misses him. (IN)
210M42PassNo oneSack, -4Self sack. Ugh.
314M38PassTabb12Henne has all day to throw; no one seems open from the TV replay. He hits Tabb in stride but it's short of the first down. (CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q. The first bad call with the weak PI call, though Michigan doesn't capitalize. Henne is alternating NFL-caliber throws with total flakeouts.
110M32RunMartin3Yes, this a fumble, and no, Max Martin shouldn’t be playing.
27M35RunGrady4Grinding forward a little bit.
33M39RunGrady7Grady makes a Hart-like cut outside and then moves up into the hole quickly.
110M46ScrambleHenne3Play action; Henne has a ton of time but can't find anyone and runs straight upfield. (TA)
27M49RunGrady9A pitch play that Grady makes a good, hard cut against the grain on when Iowa overcommits outside.
110O42PassHart9A checkdown to Hart that I can live with, I mean, 9 yards. (CA)
21O33RunHart2Nothing resembling a hole; the OL does a nice job of driving the Iowa DL a couple yards down the field and picking up the first.
110O31PassAvant24More play action; Avant cuts on an in route and is wide open; Henne hits him downfield between the numbers (DO).
1GO7RunGrady2Just a ton of guys in the box… not too surprising on first and goal, but there's no crease.
2GO5PassAvant5Touchdown. Beautifully floated over the zone coverage on a clever little fade route to the center of the endzone. Excellent play all around. (DO)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q. Good running from Grady on this drive, though his hole-picking abilities are limited later on. I just don't think we have an OL good enough to take advantage of his abilities. Henne makes two great throws on the drive.
110M20Pass/PenaltyBreaston2Henne checks down to Breaston; Antwaan Allen is all over the route and gets called for PI. The replay is unhelpful in detemining legit-ness.
110M22RunBass3QB sweep highly remiscent of the Randall Cunningham Super Tecmo Bowl money play that we've run a few time with Bass. This was going to work for a lot, except Avant's feet trip Bass up. Why does this work? It is the mystery.
27M25Pass/PenaltyDutch15Uh… yeah. This call is ridiculous on two levels: 1) Johnson had jumped the route perfectly and was making a play on the ball. 2) Instead of a spot foul they mark off a full 15 yards. Ugly all around. I bet famous PSU internet nutcases MarshCreek and Beast of da East sit in a dark room, watching this play over and over again, touching themselves in an impure manner.
110M40RunGrady7Grady's offset and we pull a guard over to the right side. Grady finds a cutback lane and heads upfield nicely. Credit to Kraus and Lentz, who drive the DTs back a long way.
23M47RunGrady4Another good job by the interior OL. Grady clearly makes a wrong cut, going to a jammed up right instead of an open left.
110O49Pass AvantIncGreenway's zone drop deflects the pass on an in route very similar to the one Avant caught on Michigan's earlier touchdown drive. (BA)
210O49RunGrady4Not much here. Grady's power gets two or three as he just burrows behind the linemen.
36O45Pass/PenaltyAvant-5Depressing that this gets called back, as Henne nails Avant well downfield right in stride. The penalty is illegal motion on Avant, who took a tiny step forward before the snap. (DO)
31150PassNo oneIncIowa rushes three; Henne immediately panics and throws it into the third row despite not having anyone within five yards of him. (BR).
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 5 min 2nd Q. Brandt is yammering on about how the last play was smart. I am yammering on about how Brandt is dumb. Before it Henne had been having a sustained period of good play. From this point on, Iowa rushes three and waits for Hennepanic on critical third downs all day.
29M33PassAvant11Avant gets free from Hodge in man coverage--Hodge is good, but that's a mismatch. Henne hits him right in stride, allowing some YAC. (DO)
110M44PassManninghamIntThe Manningham route controversy. Okay. He ran a bad route. Why did Henne throw it to his bad, covered route? Why didn't he check off to Avant, wide open on a deep corner route? Why didn't he just lob it downfield when Manningham was about to break open? That safety is not invisible, and by the time Henne throws it's clear Manningham's not breaking his route off. (BR)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 3 min 2nd Q. Partial exoneration to Henne here, but not total.
110M17RunGrady7Draw against a six man front with three wide. Grady cuts it outside where the hole is after a nice block from Massaquoi.
23M24RunGrady1Stenavich can't control his man and lets him disengage, screwing up this play which was otherwise well blocked. Grady actually plows into Stenavich.
32M25RunGrady1Check with me into a run aginst a six man front, reasonable. Unfortunately, our OL just get its ass kicked. Long misses his block on Hodge, though he doesn't have an angle for it… Grady may have picked the wrong hole.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 1 min 2nd Q. Okay, Brandt has to go screw himself, since he just started talking about how Henne was so good at the end of the PSU game at managing the clock. He's intolerable. I don't have a problem with the playcalling here. Michigan should be able to get two yards against six guys in the box--I think this third down is on Grady, as the blocking scheme makes no sense given the direction he takes.
110O42RunGrady5Grady runs off guard behind Henige and runs right up his back. He pushes the pile for a bit.
25O37RunGrady3Ugh. Hart pops this baby outside and picks up 10 or 15, since the linebackers all draw up and get blocked and the corner on the slot also gets plugged. Grady just kind of plows into Long from behind. This run really disturbed me--Underwood flashback.
32O34RunGrady-1This is supposed to be a stretch to the far side of the field but it's blown up because exactly one Iowa player gets blocked. Total failure.
43O35PassEcker13Waggle that everyone bites on hard, thus Ecker is open. Henne its him between the numbers on the run. (DO)
110O22RunGrady5Pitch short side. Grady shows his good side by fighting through a tackle fiercely for an extra couple at the end.
25O17PassAvant13Thrown by Bass (thus not charted). Avant's wide open and any throw that doesn't take him off his feet is a touchdown. A beautiful catch by Avant.
1GO4RunGrady0Have we passed on first down and goal yet? This is just ugly. No one gets blocked.
2GO4PassAvantIncFade to Avant is just off his fingertips. (CA, even though he didn't.)
3GO4RunHenne-3Just because the quarterback draw always works against us does not mean it always works.
Drive Notes: FG(26) 10-14, 8 min 3rd Q. There's an obvious dropoff from Hart to Grady, and another straw on the camel back here that eventually leads to Jackson's entrance.
110M24PassEcker5Christ. This is a completion that Henne throws rolling out, across his body that had INT written all over it. Arm strength to the rescue. (CA? DO? BR? Freakin' insane? We'll go with CA.)
25M29RunGrady2Draw looks very open before Hodge manages to slip through a crease and attack Grady from the side as he passes. Nice play from him; wonder if maybe Hart avoids him.
33M31ScrambleHenne0All day to throw again, another three man rush that turns into a TWO man rush when DT Kroul just sort of stops running. Henne just decides to run up into him. (BR)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 2 min 3rd Q. Another instance of Henne panicking in the face of lots of dudes in a zone.
110M27RunBass0The "fumble." Funny how no one mentions this play in their conspiracy theories.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 10-14, 14 min 3rd Q. If you do not know the rules, you should not be an official.
110M12RunJackson19Huge run from Jackson, who manages to pop out of the pile four yards downfield. Great job by everyone to maintain their blocks, Ecker especially.
110M31RunJackson2Jackson's delayed by a linebacker who falls at his feet, allowing Merrick to come up make the stop near the LOS.
28M33PassGrady-3A screen that's going nowhere. Grady turns around and is instantly popped.
311M30PassAvant18They try the same rush three trick and Henne finally waits for his guys downfield, hitting Avant with a bullet on a deep in route. (DO)
110M48PassBreaston52Yeehaw! Breaston feints inside of Tabb's excellent block and then pops outside of it, delaying the safety just enough with the move so that he can only dive at Breaston's legs as he streaks by. (CA)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-14, 9 min 3rd Q. Someone get Tabb a cookie STAT. It's still a mystery to me why he doesn't play more. He should have all the routes down by now, apparently has good hands, and we know he's fast… he's the safety on the kickoff team.
110M32RunJackson3Dive up the middle.
27M35PassThompsonIncHe's open in the flat; Henne throws it hard and off target, forcing him to dive. (IN)
37M35Pass/PenaltyNo one5Henne's sacked but is incidentally facemasked. Henige exits the field with an injury; Alex Mitchell is the replacement. Good news for next year?
32M40RunJackson7A nice play by Jackson to read the no-hole in the middle and slide outside for the first. Totally disturbing how our OL can't get anything here against a six man front.
110M47RunJackson1Eight guys in the box; this is no check with me, either. Just nothing from the OL at all.
29M48RunJackson4Pitch outside that's reasonably well blocked.
35O48RunJackson2This is, in fact, a check with me; Henne goes with the run play and it goes behind Mitchell and Steno, both of whom get stood up at the line.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 3 min 4th Q. I really dislike the first down play call. And the second down play call given it's 2nd and 9. Henne's check with me on third down was reasonble; we single block those guys and Jackson acquires the first with ease. We just totally failed to get it done against Iowa's undersized line. Story of the year.
110O25RunJackson2Long doesn't block anyone and anyone makes the tackle.
28O23PassAvant18Goddamn, Jason. That's an unbelievable catch of a terribly thrown ball, now that I see that the Iowa defender was not in position to pick that off if it was thrown accurately. (IN)
1GO5RunJackson4Just sort of falls four yards forward somehow. Michigan manages to create a tiny crease that Jackson squirts through.
2GO1 RunJackson0Submarined.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-20, EOG. Praise the lawd!


I thought I had security deal with you. All right, here's the scoop:
  • Michigan fumbled around its 30 in the first half, and it was wrongly called down and then not reviewed. Michigan did not fumble around its 30 in the second half, it was correctly called down (and whistled) and then incorrectly overturned by review. This is essentially a wash.
  • As many Michigan fans have commented or emailed, there is a specific portion of the rulebook that makes it very clear that actual contact is not necessary for kick catch interference to be called:
    VI. On a scrimmage kick beyond the neutral zone, a Team A player stands in or runs through an area close to a Team B player who is in position to catch the ball and is deemed to have impeded the Team B player. RULING: Interference with the opportunity to catch a kick. Penalty—15 yards from the spot of the foul, which is where the Team B player was positioned to catch the kick.
    Given this passage this passage also in the rulebook: "When in question, it is an interference foul," I think it's clear that the correct call was made on the Breaston muff.
  • Michigan was the beneficiary of two awful pass interference calls and one that was iffy. Especially egregious was the Dutch/Allen play where Allen jumped the route and was clearly making a play on the ball but was flagged, especially because instead of a six or seven yard penalty the referees incorrectly assessed a full fifteen yards.
Assuming that you're not a complete nutcase, the end result is horrible officiating all around that ended up slightly benefiting Michigan. More concerning than wild-ass conspiracy theories is the overall state of Big Ten officiating, which is dismal. In the Ohio State-Indiana game actually featured a mulligan on a kick return that the referees couldn't figure out:
IU's Austin Starr popped a short kickoff in the air, and Ohio State linebacker Mike D'Andrea called for a fair catch at the Buckeyes' 30. He fumbled the ball and Indiana linebacker Josh Powers recovered for the Hoosiers.

But one of the officials apparently blew what was later described as an inadvertent whistle when D'Andrea was attempting to make the catch.

Instead of giving either team the ball, the officials huddled and opted to replay the kickoff. In golf terms, it was a mulligan.
(HT: Buckeye Commentary)

Multiple Michigan games have featured replay officials who simply don't know the rule book. This probably has something to do with the fact that the officials are actually insurance salesmen or taco vendors or vacuum repairdudes who moonlight as referees. How much would it actually cost to get some professional referees? I'm completely baffled by major college football's reliance on part-timers when a relative drop in the revenue bucket would mean that referees would know the rules of the game.

But, anyway...

How did Henne play?

I'm torn. On the one hand he rifled a fair quantity of balls directly into the hands of Michigan wide receivers. On the other, he rifled a few critical third downs into the crowd without an Iowa player within three yards of him.

This is what the chart says:

TeamDead onCatchableInaccurateBad ReadThrowawaysBatted

(I didn't chart two of the PI plays.)

Henne threw much less than he did against Penn State but ended up with more very nice passes than he's had since I shifted the numbers to something more sane. However, he also threw five inaccurate balls and had the three bad reads, one of which was the Manningham interception. If you buy the idea that said interception was all on Manningham then it looks like a pretty good day, but I don't.

Strangely enough, Henne seemed to be inaccurate on a lot of short stop routes that should be easy for any quarterback (and certainly were for Tate). Also, we didn't go deep all day unless you count the Manningham interception--probably because Iowa was content to sit back and let their linebackers make plays against whoever was Not Mike Hart at the moment.

Still, this was probably his best performance of the year considering the level of competition. Those seven DOs were all nice throws that were either far downfield or that led receivers for big chunks of YAC.

Why can't we run?

God, I don't know. The constant theme of this year's running game has been terrible run blocking. Hart's been able to magic his way into a productive year when he's been on the field but the severe dropoff to his backups is more than evident.

Will Jake Long's return help?

To some extent, though I think it's more important for pass coverage. If Long is healthy and in-form he should make the right side of the line a more credible area to run, no offense intended to Riley. It won't fix our problems at guard. Neither Lentz or Henige has really shown any ability to crease a line and drive someone out of the hole. We've been facing a lot of Pat Masseys this year, but when was the last time you saw anyone crush an opposing Massey to the ground and a running back flit through the vast hole opened?

I don't think this will be much of a problem against Northwestern or Indiana, but I would be shocked if we averaged anything more than two yards a carry against OSU.


Look, I know he's nicknamed and everything, but he's got a long way to go if he doesn't know to break that route off into a wide open area of the field. It has to bother you that at this point in the year he still lines up wrong on a consistent basis. He is just a freshman, he's probably dinged up, and he's having issues picking up the whole offense. You're probably going to see him come in less often than you'd like, but that doesn't mean anyone's holding him back. He's just young.

Why does running Antonio Bass from the QB spot always seem to work?

I have no idea. Against Iowa the first iteration would have gone for a big gain save for an unfortunate trip. They did defense the second one well, but so far it's hitting at a 75% rate. It doesn't make a lick of sense to me.

What does it mean for Northwestern?

Given that the Wildcats are dead freakin' last in DI defense, I would certainly hope that we can get into a 54-51 type game, no matter how much Lloyd wants to avoid a shootout. As you'll see tomorrow, I don't think we win anything but a shootout. It's either blowout or shootout.

So. We need Mike Hart back. We need Long and the rest of the OL to give Henne time to throw, and we need Henne to keep mistakes to a reasonable minimum, because this should be an up-and-down game. Northwestern's defense is not going to make a lot of plays. What will kill drives will probably be Michigan's own mistakes, and we'll only be able to afford a limited number of them. Therefore Grady and his wrong cuts and Martin and his ball repulsion skills should take a hefty back seat to Run DNC against the Wildcats. The offensive gameplan should revolve heavily around Avant's ultra-reliability and WR screens to our fast bastards against the small Northwestern secondary.

We're going to try to run, which isn't a totally dumb idea given Northwestern's 188 YPG yielded and tendency to yield huge chunks against, er, everybody. If we can, we'll have a good shot. If Hart can't go or we decide to uselessly hurl ourselves into stacked fronts, we be toast.