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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

O38110NickelRun3Speed triple option
The third option is a shovel pass. Harris comes up to force the pitch, which is made to the outside. And hey! Ryan Mundy(+1) makes a good play by getting to the outside shoulder of the WR attempting to block him, forcing the play back inside. Burgess, pursuing, makes the tackle.
Michigan stunts both defensive ends; they get stoned. (And thus we definitively prove that CMU's OL is better than FSU's.) In what will become a theme, LeFevour loops a pass out to his intended target, allowing Trent to close and prevent any YAC. Why so far off? (Coverage -1)
O49110NickelPassIncPA Ugliness
“Ryan Branch” listed on the starting lineups. Zone read play action; LeFevour hurls the ball to no one in particular because he's getting crushed by Lamarr Woodley(+1).
O49210NickelPass7WR screen
Despite the gain in yardage a nice play by Mundy(+1) again. Another zone-read fake freezes Burgess inside, leaving Mundy alone with a blocker. He drives the blocker onto his heels and then disengages as the WR comes by, making the tackle as best he can. Perilously close to holding on the Central WR.
The sort of yicky stuff I hate on third down: four man rush and a zone behind it. Harris is the closest man but I don't think you can hold him responsible here. (Coverage -1)
Hall(+1) breaks on the ball and knocks it away. Another slow looper that's a bit too high. Hall probably doesn't make this play if a strong-armed guy fires it in there. (Coverage +1)
(That God Damned Counter Draw.) Of course this play gives me hives. Fake the rollout, hand the ball to the RB making a counter move and viola many yards. Who to blame, who to blame? Burgess(-1) got sucked along to the point of no return. Englemon(-1) has a shot at him but stutter steps for some reason (trip? Didn't want to get cut back on?), allowing another 10-15.
M15110NickelPassMinus LotsFumble
Notice to opposing coaches: suggest you block that Woodley(+2) guy. Seriously: no stunt or anything, just a couple blitzers, and he's turned free. Bonus points to Harris(+1) for tackling the lone Central player with a chance to recover. Often have I wondered why I don't see that more often.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. Burgess gets misdirected a couple times. I'm not sure how much is on him, but it sure looks bad. Also Woodley gets the easiest sack of his career on the first blitz of the drive. Learn this lesson well, O English.
O17110NickelRun-3Off tackle
Central lines up in good old Ace 3-wide and then runs what looks like a freakin' zone play to the left side of the line. Michigan is all like O RLY? Central is all like YA RLY. Michigan is like NO WAI, largely because Terrance Taylor(+1) plowed his man three yards into the backfield a la Watson. Englemon(+1) comes up on the outside to force the loss.
LeFevour's pass is a little outside an glances off the hands of Linson. Hall looks a little dodgy with his angle on this play. If this is caught fairly good chance he misses the tackle and then some people are going to be chasing this dude.
O143133-3-5 StackPass0Bubble screen
Crable sighting at DE. Sneed motions to the right where a screen would have gotten set up had Jamar Adams(+1) not read it too fast for the OL to get out on him. Harris(+1) cleans up afterwards.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q. First hint of a daily theme: whenever Central attempted to line straight up and run it was a wasted down.
O18110NickelPass14PI penalty
Ryan Mundy(-2) plows into Anderson well before the ball gets there. Really obvious call.
O32110Standard 4-3Run1Off tackle
Another useless run out of Ace 3-Wide from Central is again disrupted by Taylor(+2). Good backside pursuit by Biggs.
O33293-3-5 StackRun-3Zone read handoff
Branch(+2) is initially stood up but when released by the guard moving to the second level he shoots into the backfield and punches the ball loose. DTs do not move that fast in nature. Woodley recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, EO 1st Q. Two more useless runs from CMU.
O201103-3-5 StackRun-1 + 15Zone read handoff
Taylor is again well into the backfield – he's playing like an in-shape Watson – but drags Sneed down by his facemask. Er... +2/-1?
Hall(-1, coverage -1) is R-U-N-N-O-F-T by Linson, turning his hips the wrong way just as he makes his cut. Open, good throw, rhythm completion. Central rushes this snap so no formation.
We blitz, LeFevour panics and rifles it into the crowd. WR was open (-1 coverage) and this will be a completion when we play ND.
O48210NickelPass15Deep cross
Four man rush + zone behind it == easy completion to middle of field. I know Michigan has to run this D sometimes but we hates it, precious. (Coverage -1)
M371103-3-5 StackPassIncSlant
Two unblocked blitzers off the corner. LeFevour finds an open receiver on the slant but whistles the ball wide. Potential interception for Hall here... don't like his coverage, though.
Zone blitz w/ Van Alstyne dropping into coverage is momentarily picked up until Mundy(+1) shoves his blocker down and makes the sack. (Coverage +1)
The peril of press coverage: Mundy(-1) misses at the line and ends up chasing the receiver all the way downfield. Englemon(-3), though, is the real culprit, bizarrely vacating the deep center of the field for the corner. He takes a way-too-shallow angle, allowing the receiver behind him, and then it's too late. Awful play.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, 10 min 2nd Q.
O451103-3-5 StackPassIncOut
Pass wildly overthrown.
O452103-3-5 StackPass9Shovel pass
Four man rush + zone should be a good play to contain this shovel screen but evidently is not. Don't like David Harris's(-1) angle on this play. Could have stopped him for 3 or so.
M4631NickelRun0Off tackle
DL stones 'em. Branch(+2) gets superior penetration, destroying a third-and-short.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-7, 4 min 2nd Q. Punt = stupid.
A lot of time. Cetoute just falls down.
Ball is slightly inside and a touch catch but still makeable. Trent was run off and still a couple yards away from the play when the ball arrives. (Coverage -1).
LeFevour gets it there but only just. Coverage(+1) decent.
O3642NickelRun16QB Draw
They empty the backfield and everyone's immediately like “oh, QB draw,” including English, who blitzes right into it. Burgess(-2), unblocked, overruns the QB and voila first down.
To save time.
I think this crappy defense has leaked over from the offense, which has gone into save-the-lead-before-the-half mode. We're passive and Lefevour scrambles out into a bunch of confused defenders a la last year.
Adams(+1) jumps the route, knocking the ball down in the endzone. (Coverage +1)
Drive Notes: FG, 24-10, EOH.
O47110NickelRun1Speed triple option
Technically this is a pass play since LeFevour takes the shovel option. Woodley(+2) reads, forms up on LeFevour, and waits for the pitch, closing on the shovel guy instantly. Great play.
O4729NickelPass16Deep cross
Four man rush + zone behind it == easy completion to middle of field, again. We must be wary of screen or something. Taylor was free on a stunt but we needed to cover for another couple seconds to make it matter. (Coverage -1)
O37110NickelPass2Shovel pass
I don't know if this is a checkdown or the play as called. I think it's just the playcall, anticipating a blitz. We do not blitz – same Herrmannesque defense as the last down – and Crable(+1) forms up to make the tackle.
Sent to the endzone. This is a pump-and-go that Hall(-2) bites on, getting beat badly. Maybe he recovered just enough(+1) to disrupt the receiver's concentration enough to make him drop it. Why is there no safety help on a four man rush? Should have been caught, but was dropped.
O34373-3-5 StackPassIncShort cross
Corner blitz from Hall is unblocked, forcing a panicked dumpoff pass three yards downfield, which is dropped anyway.
O34473-3-5 StackPass-13Sack
Intentional grounding on LeFevour. We again send a ton of blitzers. Woodley(+1) is unblocked and so does't get major points but does run down LeFevour from behind, forcing the penalty.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 24-10, 13 min 3rd Q. Defense sucks sucks sucks then we blitz and overrun them. Please learn from this drive. We must Georgia Tech these ND bastards.
O211103-3-5 StackPassIncOut
CMU rolls the pocket... Crable is about to get free from the tackle and apply pressure when he's pretty flagrantly held – no call. LeFevour leaves it too long (coverage +1), then throws it to a tiny window along the sideline. Adams(+1) breaks it up.
O212103-3-5 StackPassIncScreen
Wow. They try to set up a screen, which David Harris(+1) reads and disrupts. The wow: an OT blocking Woodley reaches out and grabs Crable by his collar, and yanks him to momentarily slow his pass rush. No call.
O213103-3-5 StackRun1QB Draw
Woodley(+1) occupies the lane in the middle. Also, we clearly are blitzing into this but there's no change in the play. Probably won't happen @ ND
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 9 min 3rd Q
O20110NickelPass-4Coverage Sack
Great coverage (+2) forces LeFevour to sit in the pocket until Biggs(+1) gets loose and sacks him.
Can't find anyone again (coverage + 1). Crable(+1) is tackled, drawing a holding flag.
O8222NickelPenalty-4False start

O4 226NickelPass5Stop
Okay. Whatever. Trent's there soon enough on 2nd and 26.
O9321NickelPassIncHopeful bomb
We blitz. On 3rd and 21. I am overjoyed. Harris(+1) ends up decking LeFevour just as he throws. The pass is a prayer that falls a couple yards past his intended receiver.
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 5 min 3rd Q
O20110NickelRun0Zone read handoff
Branch(+2) penetrates and grabs Sneed's legs as he passes, ending this play before it starts.
O20210NickelRun12Zone read handoff
Harris(-1) takes a couple steps back before reading the run, preventing him from filling the hole. Too slow.
Sneed bounces outside to avoid our blitz. Morgan Trent(+1) provides excellent run support.
Stewart(-1, coverage -1) is playing way off.
LeFevour overthrows it badly.
Drive Notes: Punt, 34-10. 15 min 4th Q
Joined in progress. I don't know what happened.
O13273-3-5 StackPenalty-5Illegal Sub
Max Pollock! Walkon! Touchdown! OMG! Totally fumbled before the line but who cares!
Drive Notes: Interception Return Touchdown, 41-10, 12 min 4th Q.

Charting ceased here, as we've officially entered garbage time.

So that wasn't exactly quite as stirring as the Vanderbilt game.

No, it wasn't, but I think we knew going in that Central had a better offense than Vandy. The 10 points and 4 turnovers the Commodores racked up against Alabama reinforce that.

Still, I was a little disappointed. Crable's monster game in week one got him little playing time in week two and he didn't do a ton with the opportunities he was given. We got burned on the counter draw yet again. There were a few times when we dropped seven into coverage, got nothing from the DL, and watched completions over the middle that seem impossible for Michigan to duplicate. Leon Hall was pretty average. Brandent Englemon made his first critical mistake as a Wolverine.

Any positives, Mr. Grumpy?

Still: 10 meaningful points, seven of them on a pass that probably should have been deflected or intercepted.

It's hard to judge Terrance Taylor's performance since Central ran so few plays that he was relevant to, but good Lord whenever the Chips lined up in a fairly conventional formation and ran the ball, Taylor was crushing his guy into the backfield. He wasn't holding the point of attack, he was almost drive-blocking his opponent. Just Central, sure, but exciting. If he can repeat that performance against Notre Dame, Michigan is going to have zero problems dealing with any sort of conventional Notre Dame rushing game. Big if, but he's already done more than Massey did last year. At this point I expect him to have a better year than Gabe Watson did a year ago, as he's in much better shape than Big Gabe.

Ryan Mundy made a couple of nice plays defending the run. Though he was beaten on the Central touchdown, he was in press coverage over a slot receiver and had every right to expect safety help.

Woodley is no joke. Biggs may not be one, either.

Heroes and Goats?

Kind of already did them, but here's the chart to re-iterate:

8Wasn't blocked on either sack.
1Much quieter.
4Outstanding penetration. Can you really double him when he's sitting next to Branch?

No, you can't.

2Quiet day with Michigan mostly in the spread. Would have had a bigger impact if a couple obvious holds were called.


Out of position on the counter draw.
Mitigated somewhat by coverage.


Where he needed to be.
We still love ya, Brandent.
Maybe a little harsh. Though he did okay.

Not as good as the Vandy game but I think batting .500 in this category is pretty good. We'll see as it develops.

In sum: another good day for the DL, though it would have been nice if Biggs showed the same pass rush he did against Vandy.

After some time doing this, I've come to the conclusion that the system as deployed favors defensive linemen with pluses and is harsh to the secondary, so keep that in mind. A DL with a score around zero is a bad player; a cornerback around zero is probably a decent one.


Played but not much. Didn't have an impact on the game. With Biggs playing well I don't think we'll see much of him against ND except in passing situations.

And what does it mean for Notre Dame?

I would be surprised if Darius Walker gets many yards at all when ND lines up and runs. He'll probably break a couple draws into the secondary and catch a few screens, but I'm pretty sure Notre Dame is going to get stoned when they try to run.

The passing game is another matter. Seeing LeFevour sit back with mucho time tends to give one pause, especially in the harsh light of Penn State's debacle. Hall re-confirmed my opinion of him as an above-average cornerback but not a great one. Also, the safeties gave up a big play and we haven't gotten a play from Stewart or Trent yet.

Notre Dame is going to have to make a lot of West Coast six-to-eight yard throws on first down if they want to move the ball consistently. Walker is not likely to be effective with Michigan in a base defense and when ND finds itself in obvious passing downs Michigan will feature that Crable/Woodley/Branch/Jamison DL-type substance and try to send Brady Quinn's ribs out his back. Grinding scoring drives like we saw versus Penn State (and at the beginning of last year's game) are unlikely to happen often. Maybe once. However, Weis will no doubt catch us in a really wrong defense six or seven times, at which point we'll have to hope they screw it up or one of our defenders makes an outstanding play. The points we give up will depend heavily on how many of these plays -- slants against major blitzes, bombs to Samarjasdikeixa, screens against major blitzes -- we actually give up. I expect at least two, but that idiot at CSTV (I think they're trying to collect the whole set) predicting 45 points for Notre Dame is going to be off by about 20.

Once again, copious thanks to reader Josh Houchin for the video clips.