|We still have zone blocking even though there's a designated hole with a lead blocker here. Mitchell(+1) and Riley(+1) do a good job on the backside, allowing a cutback lane and a decent gain.|
|Bihl(-2) completely whiffs on his block, forcing Hart to stop a good five yards in the backfield. He manages to inch toward the line of scrimmage, minimizing the damage. (+1 for him, this could have been -4.)|
|ND floods the LOS with players, blitzing two up the middle. There must be some threat of a blitz from the outside, because Hart(-1) sets up to protect outside of Jake Long, allowing an unblocked blitzer up the gut. Henne throws that pass straight to Ndukwe when he should just take the sack. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-0, 11 min 1st Q. Anyone else panicking at this point? Clear miscommunication here on the blitz pickup, but the person at fault is murky. It could be Henne, as he says something to Hart right before the snap.|
|Henne's pass is tipped at the line but falls to a diving Breaston(+1) anyway. He makes this catch but anything that hits him in the numbers plummets to the turf? (BA)|
|Breaston comes in motion for a fake end-around that freezes no one. Hart(-1) really should have cut this up. He had a hole he could have exploited for near-first-down yardage but he tried to go outside and got swallowed up. Also of note: end around was wiiiiide open.|
|Another unblocked blitzer comes straight up the middle. This time it's Travis Thomas. I'm not sure what exactly goes wrong here... Bihl is blocking the NT, who stunts off to right a bit but towards the quarterback and not in a looping fashion – clearly Bihl is trying to block him so he doesn't get to Henne. This drags him away from the center, allowing Thomas a free lane. Bihl, Long, and Kraus end up blocking two guys. Bihl(-1), I think. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 8 min 1st Q. Both of our first two drives end with missed blitz pickups. Bihl has a hand in both. Wonder why we never came back to the end-around that was so wide open on this drive?|
|I think this is another missed cut by Hart(-1), but Notre Dame is going nuts overpursuing to the ball and eight guys are in the box at all times.|
|M19||2||11||Five Wide||Pass||11||Breaston||WR Screen|
|Another telegraphed screen but they can't do much about it. Superb block from Manningham(+1) and Breaston(+1) does the sort of thing that makes him great. (CA)|
|Don't see much of this play because of NBC incompetence.|
|M30||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||70||Manningham||QED, Mfer!|
|Single blitzer picked up here. Notre Dame's linebackers are within three yards of the line of scrimmage as Henne completes his drop despite no play action fake(!). That's the focus Mike Hart draws from a defense right there. Good God, Ambrose Wooden is slow. (DO, Manningham +3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 13-7 6 min 1st Q. I thought Charlie Weis told the Notre Dame secondary to get faster in the offseason? XP blocked.|
|Blitz off the corner right into the waggle, but Henne leaps and hits Oluigbo perfectly for a nice gain anyway. Throws this short never get (DO) but this one deserves it.|
|Finally a good gain on a running play. Bihl(+1) and Mitchell(+1) maul their men. Hart(+1) makes a good, decisive cut up into the gap and finishes in Mike-Hart-drags-the-world style.|
|Notre Dame run blitzes into the gaps of the zone play. Hart is swarmed before he can even get a foot upfield. Bihl(-1) also gets shoved back a couple yards, and his man disengages to help tackle.|
|I thought Charlie Weis said no penalties.|
|O4||2||G||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||2||Manningham||Pass Interference|
|Zbikowski manhandles Manningham. Don't actually know about this call. He gets a jam before the ball is in the air, which is legal, then the ball is thrown as Manningham is collapsing to the turf. Michigan saw a similar flag waved off earlier in the year.|
|Hart(+1) leaps into the endzone. Hurrah.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-7, 1 min 1st Q. Notre Dame essentially gave us this one. Second and goal from the eight turns into first and goal from the two with two penalties.|
|Newly chastened, ND only has seven in the box. The result is more room than Hart's had all day to this point. Alex Mitchell(-1) blows by Trevor Laws, hardly disrupting his flow to the play. Riley ends up futilely chasing him but without a momentary double from Mitchell he has no chance to get him blocked. Hart's cutback lane is filled by Laws, otherwise this gets into the secondary for a big gain.|
|The reviewed play on the sideline. This is a difficult catch from Arrington(+2), who had to dive to catch a low ball and manage to stay in bounds at the same time. With a defender in the area and the throw downfield don't want to be too harsh, but this could have been thrown a bit better. Still (CA).|
|Outstanding play all around from Michigan. Everyone on ND is blocked and Hart makes the correct reads to get everyone FUBARed behind their men. Bihl(+2) is especially good with his block; Kraus(+1) also does well. Hart darts up through the gap between them then cuts back... only to be caught from behind by Abiamiri as he slows. This is six points without the outstanding pursuit by Abiamiri.|
|Bihl(-1) gets beat by Landri to the playside, allowing him to disrupt the run in the backfield. Hart(+2) dances through it and manages to get upfield for a nice gain anyway.|
|Bah. Zbikowski is the eighth guy in the box and as he is unblocked he forces Hart to make an unpleasant cut and gain little.|
|You put Manningham(+2) in one-on-one coverage with a crappy cornerback and he dies. Ball could not have been more perfect (DO). Of note: picture perfect blitz-pickup from Hart(+1) allows Henne time and space to throw.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-7, 11 min 2nd Q. One play after running into the stacked line Debord exploits it for six. Is the seemingly wasted first down rope-a-dope? A missed check from Henne? Just a bad playcall? Who cares, we're up 27-7?|
|Interior of the line completely mauls the Irish D. Two pancakes from Mitchell(+2) and Kraus(+2)... Bihl(+1) gets out on a linebacker. Obi plows Thomas(+1). Hart just takes the open space before Zbikowski runs him down. Seven in the box == run run run.|
|M30||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||2||Hart||Lead Draw|
|Not sure what exactly is going on here. Hart decides to go between Riley, who's being pushed back a bit, and Mitchell, but Obi goes outside of Riley, leaving Travis Thomas unblocked in the hole. If Obi gets a good block on the undersized Thomas this goes for like eight; if Hart cuts outside he might get the same. But wires are crossed. No idea who to assign credit and blame to. (-1 for Riley, I think.)|
|Henne overthrows a screen. Hayden thinks this is going for a while if it's accurate, but Mitchell Thomas was on Hart's heels and had a chance to grab his ankles. Otherwise, yes: mucho yards. (IN)|
|Dropped by Arrington(-1), and good coverage by Wooden makes it unlikely that he gets the first down even if he makes the catch. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 27-7, 8 min 2nd Q. What... no touchdown? Are you sure?|
|This one's a mess I can't make sense of. I think Mitchell's(-1) cut block on the backside was not good enough, and the ND DL on the playside get good penetration, forcing a cutback up into morass.|
|M41||2||10||I-Form 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Breaston||PA Deep Cross|
|Excellent play by #30 to get a hand on the ball, deflecting it so that Breaston can't make the catch. Henne stood in there and got hit as Abiamiri spun right by Riley(-1). This is a really accurate throw in the middle of the field with a man in his face. DO to me.|
|Thrown five yards short of the marker, but Breaston's(+1) first step gets him by the DB and past the sticks. He's going to drop a slant in the second half, but keep in mind this play when he does. (CA)|
|ND flooding the LOS again, with linebackers lined up right next to their defensive ends, waiting for the zone play. It comes, and there's no way for Bihl to block Landri, who flows down the line and makes the tackle. Zbikowski would have stopped it after about six if no Landri.|
|Oluigbo(+1) pounds Mitchell Thomas as ND stunts themselves into big trouble here. Hart(+1) breaks through two arm tackles for a big gain.|
|Eight in the box and it's jammed at the POA. Grady(-1) has two options: 1) cutback all the way and try to outrun Thomas, or 2) take Zbikowski head on. He delays on one then cuts right into the heart of the line instead for little yardge.|
|A small crease is enough. Grady(+1) runs through about four arm tackles, finsihing the run with about four extra YAC.|
|Both safeties are moving forward right at the snap; linebackers are equally aggressive and there are no gaps for the draw.|
|Mitchell(-1) moves to the second level but doesn't really block anyone. He ends up chasing Mitchell Thomas right to Hart at the LOS.|
|Hey, uh, maybe you should cover that guy(+2). (DO) Outstanding protection again.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 34-7 2nd Q. Is it garbage time yet?|
|Breaston(+1) manages to barrel his way for three extra yards after contact. He's not supposed to be able to do that. (CA)|
|M25||2||4||I-Form Twins||Run||6||Hart||Off tackle|
|We're lined up heavy to the short side of the field -- 2 WR and the FB offset there -- and run off Jake Long. They slant inside, leaving Long to block a linebacker. Oluigbo gets a block on Zbikowski but Hart(-1) doesn't cut behind it, instead getting tackled. Another missed cut, IMO.|
|I don't know WTF Ecker(-2) is thinking. He doesn't even bother to block Abiamiri, and that's a problem when you're running to his side. Also, the refs missed an incidental face mask on Abiamiri.|
|ND threatens blitz on the right side of the line, causing Michigan to slide its protection so much that Long blocks down on the DT, leaving Frome unblocked. Hart tries to pick him up. This is a major bust in the protection, IMO, as one of the threatened blitzers goes in motion mirroring Breaston – clearly in man coverage – and any threatened blitz would clearly be coming up the middle. Why leave Hart to block a DE? End result: Henne forced to throw off his back foot incomplete to a fullback who was covered anyway (PR)|
|Give up and punt. Eh, up 20 this doesn't bother me so much.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-14, 12 min 3rd Q.|
|This is pass interference: Wooden impacts Mathews before he has a chance to get to the ball. If Wooden decided to attempt an interception he might have had a touchdown. (BR)|
|Goes right after Darrin Walls (ha! That's what you get, fool), as he comes in to replace Wooden. Ndukwe hits Breaston(+1) about four yards out of bounds. (CA)|
|M36||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||-1||Breaston||WR Screen|
|ND linebackers are flowing towards Breaston right at the snap. Mitchell Thomas forces a WR to block him, leaving Richardson unblocked. Clearly we tipped a play here. (CA)|
|No push at all from the left side of the line and the backside is filled by Abiamiri. Nowhere for Hart to go. (Long, Kraus -1)|
|This is an ugly breakdown: Jake Long(-2) gets beat one-on-one by a DT, Landri, and Hart's(-1) attempt to chop him fails entirely. Henne scrambles up into the pocket and takes the sack. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-14, 9 min 3rd Q.|
|No push, two guys in the hole. Oluigbo's block(-1) is kind of weak. These wad plays are impossible to evaluate.|
|Ball is really well thrown where only Arrington can get it. Fades are often difficult catches, but Arrington(-1) has to come down with this one. (CA)|
|O4||3||G||I-Form 2TE||Run||1||Hart||Off tackle|
|Bihl has a seemingly impossible assignment: try to block Landri when he's sitting play-side of you. He doesn't and so Hart doesn't have anywhere to go despite a nice job by the right side of the line.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 37-14, 6 min 3rd Q. Pushing the margin from 20 to 23 is almost ending the game at this point, so I don't mind the third down call, but I would like to have seen another fade maybe. Those are really safe.|
|ND brings both safeties up into the box. There's no way you can run on that. Blocking is fine, there's just too many guys.|
|Hart(+2) somehow finds a tiny lane to slide through, then drives Zbikowski for another three yards downfield.|
|M41||3||2||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||26||Manningham||Deep Out|
|No play action? By the snap there are 10 Irish players within four yards of the LOS. Only one blitzes, that to the side we motion Breaston to in order to disrupt the presumed zone blocking. The rest sit to react to the play... which is a simple pass to Manningham(+1) in one-on-one coverage. Only a genius would disrespect his opponent so. (CA)|
|Landri beats Kraus(-1) and Ecker's beaten by Thomas(-1), forcing awkward cuts before Grady would like to move. Michigan is “out-Weis-ing” the Irish.|
|ND blitzes but it's picked up fabulously this time. Good coverage on reads one and two but the zone, seeing Henne's eyes, slides to the right side of the field, leaving Arrington open for a nice again despite Henne's throw being a bit of a slow looper thrown of his back foot as the pressure finally comes. (CA.) Nice YAC from Arrington(+1).|
|O15||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||0||Grady||Lead Draw|
|Landri beats Kraus(-1), forcing Oluigbo to attempt a block on him. Stripped of his lead blocker and with the lane in front of him clogged, Grady makes what he can.|
|O15||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Zone PA|
|Weis has his team so well prepared for this game – he is a genius, you know – that the entire team freaks out and zooms towards the line on this play, leaving not only Breaston but Manningham wide open in the endzone. Chad overthrows it. (IN)|
|O15||3||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Delayed Slant?|
|Henne is again coming to a second or third read here, and it's Breaston on some sort of short, slant-type route that still has him moving well after a normal slant would have been deemed useless. Pass hits him in the hands and is dropped. (Breaston -1, DO, as it led Breaston to a point where he would tear past the defender for a first down and possibly a TD.)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 40-14, EO 3rd Q. Look at this drive. It's beautiful playcalling in which DeBord destroys Minter. Third and two? Everyone comes into the box but does not rush: easy pitch and catch. Second and nine? Eons of time with no pass rush and an open receiver. Second and ten? Fake the zone and get two guys wide open in the endzone.|
|M23||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||20||Hart||Off tackle|
|Why Mike Hart(+1) is awesome: he bounces this outside, getting a nice chop block from Breaston(+1) and a great downfield block from Arrington(+1). Ecker also seals Thomas well. Hart finds himself rumbling down the sideline when Ndukwe comes up to tackle: Hart collapses to the ground, pointedly getting his knee down, and comes up making the “wind the clock” signal. I LOVE YOU.|
|Great blocking, but nine guys in the box.|
|Big cutback lane to the backside of the play that Hart(+1) finds smartly. ND DL starting to flag.|
|I mean, there's just no way. Literally every Irish player is within three yards of the LOS. Six guys cross the line at the snap with three linebackers waiting to hit any creases, and we run a stretch play. Guaranteed to be snowed under. I don't mind running here, but bring in Oluigbo and ram it down their throats.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 9 min 4th Q. The third or fourth time this year we get stoned in short yardage by trying to do something cute.|
|Nine in the box again. There's no real reason this play should work for any yardage, but Hart(+1) finds a tiny crease and manages to fall forward for another couple.|
|They're stuffing the box and we don't care.|
|No room at the POA. Hart tries to cut outside but Zbikowski is standing there. Hart's magic feet take him back to the LOS. A useless one yard play but fun to watch anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 40-21, 6 min 4th Q.|
|Bihl||6||3||3||Generous. More later. Thought he was an issue and don't know how this happened.|
|Ecker||3||-3||Not a very good blocker.|
|Arrington||4||2||2||Getting involved in the passing game now.|
Still don't like this and wouldn't hang my hat on it. Going to split the OL stuff in to pass/run.
Manningham and Henne, obviously. Manningham's getting all the accolades but his three touchdowns were all inch-perfect throws by Henne and tough ones. (Maybe the first one wasn't so tough, but Henne laid it right in Manningham's chest anyway.) Here's the Hennechart:
Something not captured by the chart is the hugeosity of three of the DOs and one of the BRs. The magnitude of those throws isn't accurately captured. Anyway: yow. Five passes in the negative categories, 16 in the positive ones. Last year Henne's numbers were propped up with a copious number of screens of all varieties, but remove the five he threw in this game (4 CA, 1 IN) and you still get 12-4, a 75% "good" rate. Last year he often hovered around 50%. You could see this coming if you looked closely: Henne was victimized by a spate of drops and more pressure, so his first couple of games had ugly numbers but when he actually threw the ball he was accurate. (Commenters have pointed out that Henne robbed his recievers of YAC opportunities by delaying his throw against CMU and thus I was a little eager to bestow "DO" status. True. Those throws were between the numbers, though, so the accuracy bit stands.)
Also, notice who has a leetle "2" in the minus column versus Victor Abiamiri? Riley.
Bihl had a bad day versus Landri even accounting for the times he had no chance on the snap. Ecker didn't catch anything and had a series of mental errors in the run game.
Should be be concerned with the run game? We averaged 2.9 YPC while GT and PSU both broke five.
A little bit. Since we were so far ahead for so long, we ran into a lot of stacked lines -- we turned the "scoring offense" off -- and that naturally resulted in a lot of second and nine. These weren't your everyday run defenses where they walk a safety up, either. After the first quarter Notre Dame was selling out against the run 75% of the time. Look at our second field goal drive in the third quarter: the first three times we drop back to pass receivers are hilariously wide open because Notre Dame has about three guys who aren't laser-focused on Mike Hart.
What was disturbing: Derek Landri had a very good day against us. He was in the backfield an awful lot, usually with either Kraus or Bihl futilely chasing him. Some of that was blocking screwups where whoever was assigned to single block him was dead before the snap -- likely a consequence of having to shift blocking assignments because of the sell-out thing -- but he plain beat our interior linemen quite a few times, something I didn't see in either the GT or PSU games. I went from totally sold on Mark Bihl at center to uncertain as a result.
Also: Tyler Ecker blocking someone seems like a 50-50 proposition at best, and Mike Hart missed a number of cuts that hurt drives. I don't think he actually had a very good game. Not that this lessens my platonic man-crush on him at all. Wind that clock!
What is the deal with sucking in short yardage?
I dunno. That stretch play for Grady on third and one was stupid. You knew that ND, desperate for the ball and running out of time, was going to stack the line and blitz off the edge. In that circumstance running a stretch is punting time, especially when we've gotten stuffed doing similar things on third and short versus Vandy and Central.
Running is clearly the preferred option up a billion points, but bring in Oluigbo and jam it down their throat. Remember: Weis was totally unprepared for Michigan running up the middle.
What does it mean for Wisconsin?
Nick Hayden and the rest of the Wisconsin front seven will be a stiff test for the run game, but with Manningham firmly established as a threat and a closer game no doubt in the offing they won't be able to jam the line with the freedom ND did. What often wasn't a fair fight against ND simply due to numbers will be comparatively wide open versus Wisconsin. I expect another grinding day from Hart, but not an explosive 200-yard outing.
The passing game has another day against a secondary with pretty good safeties but a lot of questions at cornerback. (Not that ND has questions anymore. They have an answer: you suck.) Jamal Cooper and Matt Shaugnessy are both good DEs that have the potential to give Riley trouble, and against San Diego State they unleashed an array of blitzes that got their linebackers four sacks. The kind of protection breakdowns that plagued Michigan early against ND will end more drives if not repaired this weekend.