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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Notes: new additions for formation and brief here as well. New PR category for pass attempts = "pressure"; only used when Henne clearly has no time to throw. In cases where finding a receiver is plausible, TA applies when forced to scramble.

M19110Ace 3-WideRun12HartOff tackle
Ecker and Long cave in the left side of the line. The corner is walled off by a nice block from Tabb. Hart scoots off tackle with ease.
M31110Ace 3-WidePass2ManninghamWR screen
First WR screen of the year. Ecker motions from his TE spot out to the right for an extra blocker. Manningham bobbles the screen; Breaston's block isn't very good and his man disrupts the timing. (CA)
M3328Ace 3-WideRun2
HartOff tackle
Vandy blitzes a linebacker lined up over the slot receiver. He's into the backfield unblocked but Hart darts around him and turns a three yard loss into a two yard gain. Play was actually well blocked, but the delay forced by the blitzer allows Vandy's back seven to converge.
M3536Ace 3-WidePass6ManninghamShort stop
Smooth drop and throw to Manningham, who spins and tries to move upfield but trips. Had he not fallen he probably picks up ten or twelve. (CA)
M41110Ace 3-WideRun5HartOff tackle
Same as the first snap. This is supposed to be a double on the DE where Ecker helps Long seal him inside then moves to the second level, but Long never really engages with the DE, allowing him to scoot past. A linebacker comes up hard to fill outside; Hart slices up between him, unfortunately into the hands of the DE. No DE = Hart posterizes the LB and goes for big yardage.
M4625Ace 3-WidePass21BreastonWaggle
DeBord trademark starts off well. Breaston gets his man turned around, then breaks his route off. When he does the ball is right there for him. Excellent timing. (DO)
O37110I-Form TwinsRun11HartIso off tackle
Obi Oluigbo gets a nice pop on the LB in his first appearance. Hart again slices upfield, making the maximum out of the blocking.
O26110Ace 3-WideRun5HartZone
Hey, that offseason rumor-mongering paid off! Looked like it would go for more – maybe a bad cut.
O2125I-Form TwinsRun2HartIso off tackle
Grumble, grumble, fullback shuffle. Line is clogged up and Hart plows for what he can get.
O1933Offset I, 2 TERun19GradyIso SMASH!
Very nice to see that from Grady. A decisive, run with one cut and the bounce outside that gets him to the endzone. Looks faster this year. The entire line crushes Vandy off the ball – Jake Long ends up something like 10 yards downfield.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1Q. MIKE DEBORD IS WONDERFUL!!! ALL HAIL MIKE DEBORD!!! Er... nice drive. Waggle was set up by the gashing Hart off-tackle runs, the run block was generally good, and hey: 81 yards and a touchdown.
Hart cuts as far to the backside of the play as he can. If Manningham can get engaged with the safety or corner on that side he could go.
M31110I-Form TwinsRun3HartIso off tackle
Seems relatively well blocked, but no real hole opens. FB shuffle again.
M3427I-Form TwinsPass-4BreastonWR Screen
Henne rifles it over Breaston's head. Shame, because this one was going to work.Breaston's man was too far away. (IN)
M30311Ace 3-WidePassIncManninghamCorner
Found him open but couldn't hit him. Weird aside: a Vandy DE gets loose but forms up and seems like he's trying to keep contain instead of, you know, sacking the QB. (IN)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1Q. Two Henne errors end the drive. Can't blame DeBord on this stuff. His calls worked.
O34110Ace 3-WideRun0HartDraw
Hart's hesitant as LB Goff is unblocked. His posterization attempt fails, and he gives the universal “My Bad” signal to the sideline when he rises.
O34210Shotgun TripsRun5BrownISQD
“Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw,” which for some reason always seems to work decently.
O2935Ace 3-Wide, Hart offsetPass7HenneScramble
Both Riley and Mitchell get owned by a Vandy stunt on the right side. Both players come through the line, forcing Henne to bail out and prove that yes, he is faster than John Navarre. (PR)
O22110Weird ThingPassIncBreastonQuick Flat
I dunno what you call a formation with one tight end standing up at the end of the line and another a yard inside of him, two yards off the LOS. So we'll go with weird thing. Henne's pass to Breaston in the flat – not a checkdown, the design of the play – is very bad and gets him killed. (IN)
O22210Ace 3-WideRun6HartOff tackle
Hart makes the wrong cut here by going outside of Ecker, but makes up for it by dodging Vandy tacklers and making six yards from very little.
O1634Ace 3-WidePassIncManninghamOut
The play overturned by review. This is not close and should not have been overturned. Manningham secured the ball, had both feet hit, and then it was punched out. WTF? The play and throw are both very nice. (DO)
Drive Notes: FG, 10-0, 2 min 1Q. Not exactly an elegant drive, but one that should have ended in a touchdown.
M451104-wide tripsPass3BreastonSlip screen
Tabb misses his block. (CA)
M4827Ace 3-WideRun25MinorOff tackle
Great blocking all around; Minor darts up between Ecker and Long. Special credit to Arrington for excellent downfield blocking.
O27110I-Form PassIncMasseyWheel
Massey's lined up at fullback on this play. He run a simple wheel, and find himself open, Manningham having run off the deep zone. Nice throw by Henne, though not in a position where you can entirely blame Massey for the drop. (CA)
O27210Ace 3-WideRun3MinorOff tackle
Same play he just picked up 25 on. Not as well blocked this time.
O24374-wide PassIncBreastonSlant
Nails him right in the hands. Great throw. (DO).
Drive Notes: Blocked FG, 10-0, 14 min 2Q. Again... execution errors stop the drive, though these aren't on Henne.
Line blows Vandy off the ball and ends up five yards downfield, though they don't crease 'em.
M2125Ace 3-WideRun5HartOff tackle
Nice block by Ecker creates space off tackle. Nice job by Bihl, too.
M26110Ace 3-WidePass28BreastonStop
Stop and go and stop and go and stop and go go go go(!) (CA)
O45110Ace 3-WidePass2HartScreen
Hart pops a blitzer after a play action fake, preventing Henne from getting killed, the goes out in his route. He slips on his cut, else would have gotten eight or ten. Second slip today. (CA)
O4328Ace 3-WidePass7ArringtonWR Screen
Arrington spins through a tackle, gaining 7. (CA)
O3631Offset I, 2 TERun6GradyIso SMASH!
Grady's untouched until five yards past the LOS. Outstanding, grinding blocking.
A lot of penetration Hart manages to avoid to the outside.
O2626Offset I Pass-9N/ASack
Henne crushed. Miscommuncation between Long and Ecker causes this: Long disengages from the DE to pick up a stunting blitzer but Ecker does not pick him up. This was going to be a shot at the endzone without the whole sack business. (PR)
O35315Ace 3-Wide, Hart offsetPass3*HenneScramble
Totally unblocked blitzer immediately forces Henne to scramble. Hart starts barking at the OL after this play, and since he is my tiny god I believe him: his offset position made it nearly impossible to pick up the blitzer coming from the inside. Alex Mitchell busts.
Drive Notes: FG, 13-7, 7 min 2Q. Everything was fine until the OL went brain-dead on back-to-back plays. Third drive killed by two mistakes from a single position group. First it was QB, then WR, then OL. Still no evidence that DeBord's playcalling is in any way deficient.
O44110Offset I Pass4*HenneScramble
Does not find his man downfield and takes off without a Vandy player anywhere near him. Maybe everyone was covered, but we're breaking out the (BR) here anyway.
O4026Offset I (?)Run-1GradyIso
Brian Thomspon does not get a good pop on his man. He bounces backwards, allowing Langford to crack Grady right at the line. Probably not going anywhere anyway, but still: bleah.
O4137Ace 3-WidePass19BreastonShallow cross
Breaston wide open after the other Wrs run their men off. Nice throw allows Breaston to catch it in stride and tear upfield. (CA)
O22110I-Form TwinsRun3GradyCounter
Grady's fumble. We shuffle and run the other way(!) for a few unimpressive yards. Aaaand Grady was almost down but that's probably the right call.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 13-7, 2 min 2Q.
M27110Ace 3-WidePassIncBreastonShallow cross
Basically the same play they ran on the previous drive but this time into a zone. Breaston was going to get hammered as soon as he caught it, but the pass was a bad one. This is either (BR) or (IN). Someone else had to be a better option. Filed under BR.
M27210Ace 3-WideRun10HartDraw
A lot of room up until about eight yards – Hart pounds out the last two on leg drive alone.
M37110Ace 3-WidePenalty-5BihlFalse Start

M32115Ace 3-WidePassIncHartCheckdown
Vandy rushes four and no fewer than three of those guys get in on Henne, forcing the awkward throw to Hart. WTF, guys? (PR)
M27215Ace 3-WidePenalty-5MitchellFalse Start

M22220Ace 3-WideRun3HartDraw
Give up to end the half.
Drive Notes: EOH, 13-7. Anyone booing the draw call at the end of the half has to get real: second and twenty from your own 22 with 40 seconds?
M27110Ace 3-WideRun6HartZone
Hart cuts back behind Jake Long, in front of ecker, gaining six. Spielman criticizes him for dancing too much and I'm all like what?
M3324Offset I Run13BreastonEnd-around
Preceded by fake to Hart up the gut. Another benefit of the zone running game: Vandy's backside contain must remain vigilant about a potential Hart cutback, opening this up. I expect to see quite a few of these this year.
M46110Offset I Run7HartOff tackle
Great blocks by Oluigbo and Ecker occupy the linebackers to the near side of the field. Hart has room to run, and only a hustling safety prevents a real big gain.
O4723Ace 3-WidePenalty-10RileyHolding
Stupid penalty by Riley, as he has the guy blocked well enough to let him go when Hart bounces outside.
M43213Ace 3-WidePass5*HenneScramble
This is either a bust or some blocking scheme I don't understand. The DE on Riley's side delays for a moment on the snap, possibly making it look like he's dropping into a zone. Riley doubles down on the DT. When the DE comes a moment later, Hart's left to block him. He ably chops him to the ground but Vandy is also blitzing a linebacker from that side. He's unblocked and forces Henne to scramble. My opinion: Riley screwed up. There was no possible threat of a blitz from the other side of the field.
M4838Ace 3-WidePenalty-5TabbFalse Start

M43313Ace 3-WidePass8*HenneScramble
Max protect and only three guys in the pattern. Plenty of protection, but Henne can't find anyone downfield and scrambles. Tenuous (BR), since it's possible everyone was covered.
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 9 min 2Q. Henne had no choice on the first scramble, but hell, if you bomb it downfield on third and long what's the worst thing that happens? It's a punt. More mental errors from Riley.
O41110Ace 3-WideRun6HartOff tackle
Long momentarily doubles the DE then gets out to the linebacker; Hart has a nice hole that the Vandy safety fills quickly. Play action over the top would be nice if Riley would block someone.
O3524Ace 3-WideRun3HartZone
Safety again fills the hole very quickly, forcing a Hart cutback. He runs up the backs of his linemen for a few yards.
O3231Offset I 2TERun4*HartOff tackle
Another nice block from Oluigbo blows up the linebacker and making the first down easy.
O28110Offset I 2TEPassIncButlerWaggle
Very catchable ball is plain dropped. Tough throw on the run, being pressured. (CA)
O28210Ace 3-WideRun7HartOff tackle
Excellent, driving blocks from the left side of the OL. Ecker walls of his linebacker; Hart slips past a filling safety four yards downfield for some extra yards.
O2133Ace 3-WideRun2HartZone
Hart misses a big cutback lane, though to be fair the hole outside was equally tempting but for Adrian Arrington whiffing on the corner. Hart slips the corner's tackle, burrowing ahead for a couple.
O1941I-Form 2TERun3GradyIso SMASH!
Plows ahead. Important block by Oluigbo on a DT that didn't get chopped or pushed.
O16110Offset I TwinsPassIncMasseyWaggle
Tipoff: Massey lines up as the fullback. Formation predictability persists: we often put TE s in at fullback and these plays are almost always passes. By the time Henne turns around two Vandy players are in his face. He leaps to throw over them and the pass is too hard for Massey, only a couple yards downfield. Tenuous IN but could be classed PR.
O16210Ace 3-WideRun2ManninghamEnd-around
Vandy blitzes right into it, forcing Manningham to take a wide angle around the charging linebacker and allowing the Commodores to close down his angle and deny the corner.
O1428Ace 3-WidePass14EckerSeam
Touchdown. Throw is a bit high but well within Ecker's range. Excellent placement since he had to get it over the linebacker. (DO)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-7, 2 min 3Q. Hurray, points!
M18110Ace 3-WideRun4HartZone
I can't decide whether Hart missed a cut to the backside or not. An unblocked linebacker cuts through the mess to get to Hart, but not before Jake Long has driven everyone four yards downfield.
Henne short hops a throw he should have made. Butler was open near the first down line. I don't think he set his feet... but don't take my word for it. (IN)
M2236Ace 3-WidePass3*HenneScramble
Riley screws up the protection, taking the DE and not the blitzing linebacker to the outside. Mitchell futilely attempts to cover for him, but can't. Henne is forced to take off. (PR)
Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 13 min 3Q. Riley is the outstanding factor in all this pressure on Henne. It might not be his fault – someone else could be screwing up protection calls or Mitchell could be missing stuff – but I wonder if Mitchell's move to tackle was not just because Riley was dinged.
M27110Offset I Run1HartZone
No blocking. Oluigbo runs past a linebacker, who tackles Hart.
M2829Ace 3-WideRun8HartZone
Hart makes the right cut this time, shooting up in a crease.
M3631I-Form 2TERun5HartOff tackle
Long blocks two guys, opening up the left side for Hart and an easy conversion.
M41110Ace 3-WideRun-1HartHart
Ecker doesn't seal his guy, who chases Hart to the sideline.
M40211Ace 3-WidePassIncEckerFlat
Simple flat route to Ecker is thrown low. If accurate, this is good for 6 or 8. (IN)
M40311Ace 3-WidePassIncManninghamOut
Riley gets owned, holds, and still lets his guy in on Henne, whos scrambles out and makes a really bad throw that could have been a pick-six for Vandy. (BR)
Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 6 min 4Q. Folks, we have a whipping boy.
O41110Ace 3-WideRun0HartZone
They're crashing in against the run now. The three-wide stuff isn't going to be that effective now they aren't respecting the pass.
O41210Ace 3-WideRun3HartDraw
Missed a cut outside for more yards.
O3837Ace 3-WidePass11ManninghamSlant
Thrown a bit behind Manningham; still caught. Tenuously (CA)... or maybe more so since if it was on target there was a linebacker ready to bat it down or pick it off.
O27110I-Form TwinsRun2HartZone
Little room with Vandy crashing the line.
O2528Ace 3-WideRun-2HartZone
Long's man fires inside of him and gets penetration, disrupting the play.
O27310Ace 3-WidePass27ManninghamFly
Ees a touchdown. Superb throw from Henne. (DO).
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-7, 2 min 4Q. Ballgame.

What did you like about the dawn of DeBord Era II?

Internet malcontents will be malcontents, but they did get a few of their wishes granted. Michigan's base formation was a three-wide set, something long desired by crabby message-boarders. The zone running game vastly reduced the prevalance of the fullback shuffle. The waggle re-emerged as a weapon.

Most important: the run game was great. We have to take it with a grain of salt -- just Vandy and all that -- but it was impossible to stop until Vandy sold out late in the fourth. The linemen were crushing their opponents off the ball.

And what didn't you like?

Well, the widespread bitching about the passing game is partially unwarranted. A few times Henne set up to go deep but was rudely interrupted by men in white jerseys. But would it kill Michigan to try a few posts and slants? Better to find out Henne can't read those coverages now than against Notre Dame.

While the play-tipping based on personnel was reduced it was not eliminated: when Michigan lines up with a "fullback" who is actually a tight end, it is a pass. Greg Mathews' presence in the game equals run. Carlos Brown is going to run an Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw. &c.


The Long-Kraus combination on the left side was dominant. Bihl also had a good day, showing excellent mobility getting to the second level. Mike Hart is Mike Hart.

Also, a word on Breaston: yes, he had a bobble on a punt and dropped a slant that could not have been more accurate. But the criticism he's received after the first game is excessive. I mean... did you watch this? Watch it again! Also, his downfield catch on the waggle required good footwork along the sideline. I'd rather he didn't drop that pass, but it was the one error in his day as a receiver. I was actually encouraged by his performance only to return to find out that the general opinion was "start Arrington!" I dunno. I don't get people sometimes.


I don't want to hammer on Rueben Riley too much, but he was the primary burr in the offense's giddyup. Alex Mitchell also "helped" in this regard. The two of them often miscommunicated on stunts or blitz pickups, allowing unblocked Commodores into the backfield and indirectly causing Internets teeth gashing about the lack of a deep passing game.

Henne was okay but missed a number of fairly easy passes.

Tyler Ecker was erratic with his blocking: sometimes great, sometimes awful.

Exciting new faces?

Brandon Minor obviously started his Michigan career with a bang. When I finally saw him in person I was flabbergasted. This was the guy recruiting gurus spent all year declaring a fullback? The guy who the coaches described as a sort of Leroy Hoard on rageohol? He looked more like a slot receiver than a fullback. And then he ran real far. Carr's spent the last week swearing up and down to anyone who will listen that Minor is going to get more carries in the coming weeks -- jeepers.

It might be odd to drop a fifth-year senior in this category, but fullback Obi Oluigbo, sparingly used to date, pounded Commodores all day. He lived up to the hyping given him by Hart and Carr and should help the short ground game that was one of Michigan's many fatal flaws a year ago.

If Carson Butler had caught anything he might go here; if we weren't witholding all positive judgement on the offensive line until ND Alex Mitchell might as well.



  • DO: "dead on." Accurate, NFL-level throws that are either downfield, fit into a tight spot, or provide ample opportunities for YAC due to perfect placement.
  • CA: "catchable." Run of the mill throws. Potentially slightly inaccurate. Screens and short, simple routes like outs and stops max out here.
  • IN: "inaccurate." Poorly thrown balls. Some completions may end up here if they are complete as the result of an extraordinary effort by the wide receiver.
  • BR: "bad read." A throw into coverage or throw-away when not under pressure... basically anything that's an obvious mental error.
  • TA: "throw-away." Can't find a receiver and gets rid of it. BR's less malignant cousin.
  • BA: "batted." Balls knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
  • PR: "pressure." Instances where Henne is unable to complete a pass through no fault of his own, but because people are bearing down on him quicker than they have a right to.


Not particularly good, though a couple of marginal balls were placed in negative categories. Not particularly Henne's fault, though. He attempted to throw 27 times; approximately 7 of those times were either screens or three-step rhythm throws. 25% of the time when Henne attempted to throw something longer than a screen or short west coast pattern he had Vandy players in his face, usually unblocked after a stunt or a missed blitz pickup. Late in the game, he started expecting and fearing pressure, forgot his mechanics, and started short-hopping balls. It was reminiscent of last year's Notre Dame game with the exception of a grinding ground game and a kickin' D. Henne was fine at first. He was excellent on the opening drive, and at least good through much of the game. The stats don't show it because of the drops.

However, when he lost faith in his protection late he started scrambling unnecessarily, misfiring on simple passes, and generally reverting to the bad old days at the beginning of last season. Notre Dame has no doubt noticed this -- the first hint of it was against them, after all -- and will blitz and stunt extensively, hoping to get him rattled.


No doubt the coaches will be going nuts at the OL and TEs about the protection failures in this game, which were almost all schematic instead of physical. That's going to be the thing I look for most against Central: protection of Henne. The left side should be fine, and Bihl did a very good job his first game, but I worry extensively about Mitchell-Riley.

What does it mean for Central?

Assuming that inexplicably kickass Chippewa defensive end Dan Bazuin lines up opposite Riley, next week's game will either provide reassurance or Ebola-in-the-subway panic about the pass blocking heading into ND. Most of the problems against Vanderbilt were presumably fixable miscommunications -- there was only one instance of a Michigan lineman getting beaten one-on-one (Riley, natch) -- but, strangely, Central Michigan represents a higher level of opponent. Hold them out all day and I'll be feeling chipper for ND.

Central may also pose an interesting test for the rushing offense. Last year they were the top run defense in the MAC. They held Penn State's monster 2005 ground machine to 138 yards and crushed Northern Illinois, yielding only six yards rushing after sack yardage (though Garrett Wolfe apparently didn't play). They return the bulk of their front seven. There's a big, fat NSFMF, though: one of the reasons CMU's run defense was so good was their inept pass defense. Teams didn't bother to run because Central started Condoleeza Rice and a goat that was totally tripping, man, in the secondary. That PSU game? A 40-3 hammering in which Michael Robinson and Anthony Morelli combined to go 22 of 36 for 382 yards. CMU managed to lose that NIU game because the two Husky quarterbacks combined to go 31 of 43 for 435 yards.

We should win, but I wouldn't take the CMU defense for granted. If we can't block them when we try to pass we will be in for a longer day than anyone anticipated.