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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A day (even more) late, because when I had finished the spreadsheet and closed it I must have hit "no" when it asked me to save the thing... when I opened it up I was faced with the first three drives of the game and no more; thus I relived the horror a third time. Yea, I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, twice. (Yes, it has gotten rather biblical around these parts of late... strange.)

-5Illegal formation. This is on either Massaquoi or Will Paul, as both were standing well off the line right next to each other. Hart is clearly not right already. He looks like he did against Iowa, all tentative cuts. On the next play they come out in exactly the same formation except the TE is on the line... and it's Tyler Ecker. This is on Mass.
115M15PassBreaston5Long handoff to Breaston(CA).
210M20PassAvant4Henne takes a quick throw in a flat to Avant as the Buckeyes blitz. The bucks read the hot read and converge quickly. (CA)
35M24PassManningham13A wobbly, ill thrown route that does make it to Manningham. Danielson points out a solid blitz pickup from Hart. (CA)
110M37PassHart15We go against tendencies here; this looks for all the world to be a waggle, but we throw a screen back across the field after Henne starts his roll. It's wide open. Great call from Malone. (CA).
110O48PassBass-4Ohio State is ready ready ready for our WR screens. This play features Bass lined up as a tailback with three receivers to the wide side of the field and Henne in the shotgun. Bass runs a flare route, but drops the ball... and it's lateral. Wouldn't have mattered much anyway, as Ohio State has a linebacker coming up hard and Mass whiffs his block on the OSU DB. OSU lined up in a man press and as soon as they saw Henne motion towards Bass they attacked. Our OMG super clever trickeration versus Indiana does not appear to have had a lasting effect. (CA)
214M48RunHart3Draw from an offset I. Henige can't kick out his man.
311O49PassMassaquoi12Massaquoi reaches the very edge of the field on a crossing route underneath the coverage; Henne hits him in stride so he can turn it up and get the first down. (DO)
110O37ScrambleHenne0Play action that is supposed to go deep; Massaquoi gets beat by a blitzing defensive back and Henne's forced to scramble away. He made a nice move to dodge the blitzer to buy time but didn't have anything and tried to run. (TA… marginal)
210O37RunManningham1End around with Bass as a decoy. Camera anle is too tight to really see whats' going on downfield, but it looks like there's an extra guy that ends up in the box, forcing Manningham to try to cut it outside.
39O36PassAvant8Fired in to Avant and Schlegel makes a great tackle to prevent the first down. (CA)
41O28PassAvantIncThe slant is there. Henne throws a bullet that's too high to be caught… no reason to fire this so hard. Just get it complete. Later, on replay, Danielson highlights the coverage from Youboty, which is uncalled holding. Beaten by Avant's outside feint, Youboty is forced to grab him outside the shoulder and give a heavy yank that throws the route off just enough for the incompletion. The ref looking at it is shielded by Avant's body, though--really hard for him to make that call. As it was, this is a great play by Youboty to skirt the edge of a call when he knows he's beaten and force the turnover on downs, but it's still holding. (CA minus the penalty)
Drive Notes: Downs, 0-7, 3 min 1st Q. Michigan comes back with a creative drive of their own that doesn't quite work out.
110M20PassBass8Bass comes out of the backfield on a 3-4 yard out and has enough room to run up for a nice gain. (CA)
22M28RunHart1Looks like Grady here, running up his offensive lineman's back when there seemed to be space to either side. Sympotmatic of the ankle and his hesistancy to cut?
31M29RunHart1Ugly… neither guard gets anything resembling a block, but Hart manages to squeak out the first down by fall ing forward.
110M30Run Hart2A draw. Bihl impacts Schlegel but doesn’t engage and he slips off into the hole. Hart tries to cut outside but is tracked down… again I wonder about the ankle. One of our better runs all day: sad.
-10Holding on Henige, as he just gets owned by the DT.
218M22RunHart2A totally stupid call. Michigan is lined up in a three wide and tries to run into what turns into a six man front at the last moment. No one gets close to blocking Schlegel, who makes the tackle after the other LB forces Hart to make a cut. This is a give-up-and-punt play.
316M24PassHart-4Completing the give-up with a screen that AJ Hawk annihilates. Sad when our third and sixteen screen is predictable. (CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-9, 9 min 2nd Q. We pitch the possession after the holding call. Given the Ole(!) job our guards are giving their DTs at the moment I can understand it, but couldn't we have gone with something that would have given us a makeable third down?
110O36PassManninghamIncBomb towards the corner. Bass and Manningham end up running in the same space; Manningham trips just towards the end of it as Salley clips one of his feet in coverage (incidental contact). Ball hits right at the corner of the endzone on the goalline: almost perfectly thrown. If Manningham doesn't take a tumble he has a very good shot at hauling this in. (CA)
210O36PassManningham5Henne comes off his initial read (could be a feint, since he did it verrry quickly) and finds Manningham sitting down in front of the zone (CA)
35O31PassBreaston6Lasered in between two defenders in a zone. (DO)
110O25RunHart1A graphic about the Snow Bowl occupies this space instead of the actual play. Thanks, ABC!
29O24PassBreaston5Credit to the OL this time, as they pick up a blitz very nicely, giving Henne all kinds of time. He eventually finds Breaston on the sideline… unfortunately he's just a foot to far to the outside and steps out after the reception, else he runs for a first down. (CA)
34O19PassBreaston5Breaston runs a little flat route behind an Avant slant that forces Everett to loop around Avant and his defender, opening up space for the first down. Excellent call. (CA)
110O14PassManningham8Long handoff. Manningham beats Youboty and heads down the sideline. (CA)
22O6RunHart1Again an Al Montoya impression from the OL; this time it's both tackles who whiff. Steno misses a cut block and Long lets his man get around him instead of sealing him to the outside.
31O5PassAvant3 (Penalty)Grabby Mr. Youboty gets nailed for it this time for grabbing Avant's arm. (CA)
1GO2PassAvant2Fade; touchdown; can't do it better. (DO)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-9, 5 min 2nd Q. A ten play, 36 yard drive… impressive or totally unsustainable going the length of the field against the Buckeye D? Er, the latter, as the rest of this game demonstrate. Still much competence displayed in portions here, especially by Henne, who looks like the guy we were all drooling over preseason.
110M16PassManninghamIncWR screen that was going to go for a large number of yards, but Manningham drops it. OSU's DBs immediately move up and attack when Massaquoi goes in motion--they're prepared--but since no one comes out with Massaquoi (zone) they're helpless to stop it. (CA)
210M16RunHart0End of Hart's day, as we run right into the heart of a blitz.
310M16PassMassaquoiIncHenne can't find anyone and is forced to throw it away. (TA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-12, 14 min 3rd Q. Stunningly inept in the rushing game, but that WR screen was definitely open.
110O20PassMassaquoi13Mass is ooonbelievably wide open as the Buckeye DBs bail out on the post; Henne checks down smartly to Mass underneat the coverage (CA… but a money read.)
1GO7ScrambleHenne1Henige reacts late to a delayed Hawk blitz, forcing Henne to scramble up in the pocket. (not charted… not enough time)
2GO6RunGrady1Neither TE gets a block here. Ecker watches his man make the tackle; Mass's guy gets enough penetration to knock into Henige and prevent him from pulling around to lead block; it's blown up.
-5Delay of game.
3GO10PassEckerIncDanielson goes all slobbery about Hawk here but he totally whiffed his jam at the line and was in bailout mode, facing away from the quarterback, futilely hoping his hands hit the ball on its way in. All Henne has to do here is lay it up into Ecker's hands, but he overshoots him by a good couple yards. One of his few poor throws. (IN)
Drive Notes: Field Goal(27), 10-12, 10 min 3rd Q. A bunch of crappy blocking sets up a third and goal from the ten. Henne can't convert.
110M19PassGrady5Screen. Massaquoi is knocked back a couple yards blocking Salley, which forces Grady into a couple of bad decisions as to which way to cut when he reaches him. (CA)
25M24PassEcker7Play action; Henne hits Ecker in stride on a crossing route in front of the zone. (CA)
110M31RunBass1No one on the interior of the line can seal off their man on the pitch. An OSU linebacker smartly forces Bass back inside where the pursuit converges.
29M32PassAvantIncAvant runs a deep corner route; Henne's throw is a little bit too far to the inside, allowing Salley to come up and make a play on the ball. A nice play from Salley but Henne gave him the opportunity to make it (as is usually the case on routes like that... can't stop a perfectly thrown ball). (CA... marginal, close to IN.)
39M32PassNo one Sack, -6Long gets straight beaten by Patterson.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-12, 5 min 3rd Q. The overriding themes here are the offensive line getting crushed on every run play and a fair share of passing downs. Henne's tremendous efficiency comes on a lot of short routes and we continue putting ourselves in third down time and again. Look above: no plays longer than 13 or so yards, and the Buckeye defense eventually comes up with a play on one of our third downs unless we get a short field.
110O37PassBreaston10We go against tendencies again… this is the same slip screen setup with the motioning TE we've seen all year; Henne fakes said slip screen then pivots to the other side of the field to throw a jailbreak screen to Breaston, which he takes advantage of, eluding linebackers for the first down. (CA)
2InO27RunGrady2Again little support up front.
110O25PassBreaston11Henne comes off the slant and fires a bullet with great timing to Breston in the face of an oncoming DE. (DO)
110O14PassAvant12 (pen)Interference on Everett on an Avant post. They're looking for the arm-raking thing and Everett does get his hands in before the ball arrives, but I'd probably be livid about this if I was a Buckeye. Also I would be retarded. The throw here is perfect. (DO)
1GO2RunGrady2Touchdown on the lineup, set, and snap immediately play they do with regularity.
1GO3ScrambleHenne3Finding no one open, Henne scrambles in.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), 18-12, 1 min 3rd Q. Two point call is the wrong one. Not making it means that if OSU scores, we're behind three and our field goal only ties the game instead of puts us in the lead. The chances of 5 versus 6 being useful are small and not worth the risk of not getting it to 5.

No tape on this one for some reason.
29M30PassPaulIncHenne is hit as he throws and drives it into the ground as result. Lentz is injured during the play, causing the pressure. Good coverage. (Er… BA)
39M30RunBradley9Yeah, OSU is just as confused about this as everyone else is… Alijiah Freakin' Bradley, all 5'6 of him, rips off Michigan's best run of the day on a counter draw, which sets up…
4InM39RunHenne1A QB sneak on fourth an inches that Henne stunningly demanded, getting in Carr's face.
110M40PassBreastonIncWe're in our four-wide slipscreen formation and the Buckeye DB crashes it right at the snap without even checking to see what the play is. Manningham manages to shut him off but for the second time in the game our screen-receving WR is spooked by the unexpected pressure and drops the ball. This, by the way, is definitely a lateral and should have been a five yard loss. (CA)
210M40RunGrady3We fake the slip screen and hand it off to Grady up the middle… would have been better to reverse these playcalls.
10Holding on Schlegel attempting to keep Ecker from breaking open. No replay is provided.
110O47PassManningham38A ton of time. This one is thrown behind Manningham but the corner is too busy attempting to recover and does not locate the ball to make a play on it; Manningham makes the catch. (CA)
1GO9RunGrady3Eh. The DE doesn't get blocked at all, forcing Grady to cut it back.
2GO6PassBreaston(?)IncRiley lets a blitzer through, forcing a Henne roll and throwaway. (TA)
3GO6RunHenne3QB draw… I don't think Henne waits long enough here, because Avant doesn't get over to block the eventual tackler.
Drive Notes: Field Goal(19), 21-12, 8 min 4th Q. Oh, how I thought we were going to win after this... the fourth down conversion, the bomb (finally)...
110M48PassMasseyIncPossibly the dumbest decision in kickoff history… Huston's been putting them between the freakin' uprights and they decide to pooch it. After a Will Paul fumble (enjoy DE again!) and a Breaston recovery, M sets up at midfield. … Anyway. Play action rollout and Henne hits Massey in the hands; he drops it. Excellent call that would have had a first down. (CA)
210M48PassBreaston11Breaston is hit on a shallow crossing route… he then cuts back across the grain and gets a great block from Avant to scoot past the first down marker. (CA)
110O41RunGrady0Toss play to Grady… Massey doesn't even bother to block the cornerback, who comes up and makes a tackle. Freshman screwup… given that we know Massey is a crappy blocker at this point and Mass is unavailable this doesn't seem like a good idea to start with... add in the whole OSU defense thing and it's doubly bad.
210O41PassNo one IncHenige is beaten again and holds again; Henne is forced to throw it away in the face of the pass rush. (TA) Penalty is declined.
310O41PassBreaston6The same fake-slip actual-jailbreak screen as before… this one gets six. (CA)
Drive Notes: … Punt…. 21-19, 5 min 4th Q. Punt = disaster. Our guard play puts the first nail in our coffin.
110O20PassAvant23A brief glimmer… (DO)

210O43PassEckera numberSigh. (BR)

Where was that guy wearing #7 all year?


Er... maybe some more, you know... analysis and stuff?

Okay. Table:

TeamDead onCatchableInaccurateBad ReadThrowawaysBatted

In a word, magnificent. The four TAs and one BA were all due to pressure yielded right up the middle by the guards; none of these were instances of Henne sitting in the pocket way too long. OSU covered his first read and got to him before he could find a second or third receiver. Removing that you have two instances of bad play: the Ecker overthrow in the endzone and the throw to Ecker at the end of the game (not enough time to check down, there, just risk the INT). If you want to be harsh you can add the Avant corner route that was too far inside and thus batted down by Salley and the fourth and one slant that was fired past an interfered-with Avant, but those throws were at least okay. This was Henne's best performance of his career... to be that effective against that defense and with that revolving door of grimly futile interior blockers is incredible.

If the guy who showed up against OSU had played all year, Michigan beats both UW and Minnesota with ease and probably beats Notre Dame, Jason Avant is a Belitnikoff finalist, and Joey isn't planning on hanging himself.

Well, then, why couldn't we score?

Our chronic weakness at guard (and center without Adam Kraus) blew up something fierce. I don't want to be too harsh on Henige--his football career is over and he'll be walking with a limp the rest of his life after playing on the functional equivalent of Mr. Garrison's testicles the last three years--but he just couldn't block anyone. Lentz was little better, and Bihl didn't do much. Ohio State got interior pass rush with infuriating frequency and there was hardly a running play that didn't end up with six Buckeyes gang tackling the running back at the LOS. Things only got worse when Lentz was dinged and Massaquoi went out.

The complete inability to rely on the line turned the running game into a keep-em-honest sideshow and thwarted Michigan's efforts to go deep--Henne could not sit in the pocket and let the throws develop--forcing us into long, grinding marches based entirely on the short passing game. Ohio State's D is too good to let you score on fifteen-play, 80 yard drives, so our scoring was limited to instances when we were given short fields.

And thus, the playcalling...

I thought it was great given the limitations provided. Michigan acknowledged the impossibility of running early, coming out with a clever, tendency-defying opening drive heavily featuring the passing game that ended on fourth and one after an uncalled penalty. Throughout the game Michigan tried to get its playmakers involved on the perimeter, avoided plays that were likely zeroes, and generally operated as efficiently as possible given the offensive line's complete absence.

I do question the weird trick play outburst against IU. I would rather have wasted plays trying wacky stuff like the diamond transcontinental against the Buckeyes than running futilely into the line. It didn't slow OSU down one bit and given the situation outlined above where Michigan's chances of getting a big play became vanishingly small because of the offensive line's sieve impression, a high-risk, high-reward trick play or four could have helped immensely. We didn't pull out so much as a reverse.

But what about that last (real) drive?

I hate that Grady pitch on first and ten, especially with freshman Mike Massey in the game. Massey ignored the charging corner, who hit Grady immediately. Look at the chart above... see any effective runs other than the "who's the Smurf?" counter draw? We essentially blew a down in that situation and asked our freshman tailback and freshman tight end to make a play instead of trying to get red-hot Henne to hook up with Breaston (on fire Breaston) and Avant. Henige's failed block on second down (and a holding call declined by Tressell) left Michigan in third and ten, at which point they run a screen that appeared to be setting up a makeable fourth down in my mind. I mean, if you're going to punt you have to run a play that has a good chance of getting the first down, even if it leaves you in fourth and ten.

Then... punt. We've been over this before. A disaster that only served to rob Michigan of the time it needed to respond after the OSU touchdown drive. After all that, after going for it on your own 40, after watching any team that really needed a late game score get it all year... I just don't understand.

Well, I guess I do. The story of Carr (and the story of Michigan) this year was an attempt that fell short. Carr did adapt his strategy to deal with the altered reality of college football, but when the pressure ratcheted up to its migrane-inducing peak he reverted to his basest instincts--a totally human, understandable reaction--and thus Punt, Lloyd, Punt. It bit him every time, but old habits die hard... very hard.

What does it mean for next year?

We need to rebuild the offensive line entirely. We need Hart back and healthy. We should have plenty of options in the passing game...

But you and I know that it comes down to #7. Against OSU we saw the reason we were so damn excited about him in the first place, the reason we nearly upset Texas in the Rose Bowl; the reason all that preseason top 5 stuff happened. Is it a mirage, or was this season a bad dream? We won't know until the Notre Dame game next year, if then. To borrow from horrible action movies everywhere:
Nervous woman prone to screaming and passing out: What... what do we do?

Grizzled man probably chomping a cigar: We... pray. We... pray.