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Thursday, October 12, 2006

M44110Ace 3-WideRun16HartOff tackle left
Well... nice running and all that but also extreme stupidity from the MSU safety, who's walked up to the line and sort of hurls himself into the back of the defensive end instead of, you know, trying to keep contain. The corner is wide open as a result – Breaston hardly has to do anything to seal him. Nice block downfield from Manningham(+1).
O40110Ace 3-WideRun0HartZone left
Would have had the corner again, but Arrington(-2) runs right by the Key, the MSU safety, who's walked up into the box. Hart's forced to cut back into a loaded front. Mitchell's attempted cut against Clifton Ryan is ineffectual.
O40210I-Form 3-WidePass4BreastonStop
Waggle. Henne comes down to Breaston, his outlet. Greg Cooper makes a solid tackle. (CA, 3)
O3636I-Form 3-WidePenalty5--Offside
They jumped off on the previous play when Chad did his check-with-me... and they do it again on the very next play. They are about as well-coached as a pack of squirrels on coke.
O3131I-Form 2TEPass6BreastonLong handoff
Another jump, but they get back. They're playing way off Breaston on third and one; Henne takes the free yards. (CA, 3)
O25110Ace 3-WideRun5HartZone left
Video provided; words fail. Breaston brought in motion to block a guy but is unsurprisingly driven into the backfield. Hart reverses his field and punishes fools who try to tackle.
O2025I-Form TwinsRun5HartZone left
Oluigbo(+1) gets a nice block on Adams, opening up the corner.
O15110I-Form 3-WidePenalty5--Offsides
Fourth jump of the drive. Dyslexic squirrels on coke.
O1015I-Form 3-WideRun3HartIso
Oluigbo(-1) does not get much of a block, leaving Herron in the hole on his stomach, but enough to deal with Hart. Better block == first down and possible touchdown.
O722I-Form TwinsRun4HartZone left
Overloaded set we run from time to time with everyone to one side, including the TE that I'm not a huge fan of because we always run from it. The TE, covered by a WR, can't go out in a pattern. Anyway: zone left and there's a hole between the guards (Bihl's on the second level.) Wiley, leveled on Hart's cutback play, comes up again and is again dragged forward. Wiley tries to talk smack afterwards.
O3 1GI-Form TwinsRun-10HartZone left
Same formation. Hart goes off left tackle and into the endzone; holding call brings it back. Call is weak and stupid on Bihl's part... let him go.
O131GAce 3-WidePassInc--Near disaster
Massive protection breakdown that's not explicable. Line slides way right, leaving the DE unblocked. Hart does not pick him up, leaving him to crush Henne and momentarily “fumble” the ball, though apparently Jim Augustyne's been briefed on “the rules” of “football” this year. Unbelievable this was actually called a fumble on the field. Hart points to himself on the sideline and thus gets the big fat (-2 protection, PR)
O132GAce 3-WidePass13ArringtonSkinny Post (2)
Arrington is wide, wide open. Henne makes this catch an impossible one, but he comes down with it... I guess. Why wasn't this reviewed? (IN, 1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q. Does your hand count for inbounds? People keep saying it does but I checked the rulebook and there's nothing specific.
M20110Ace Penalty-5MitchellFalse start
M15115I-Form Run6HartLead draw
Definitely the right playcall. Michigan needs to get the two inside linebackers cleanly blocked and then it's secondary time for Hart. This doesn't so much happen, but there is a crease. Hart bolts through a gauntlet of arms for six.
M2129Ace 3-WidePass10HartGJG
Gold, Jerry! Gold! We fake ol' zone left, set up in what looks like a waggle, then throw the screen back to Hart. Eleven yards and a first down. (CA, 3)
M31110Ace 3-WideRun4GradyDraw
I find the idea of a first and ten draw hilarious when we always run on first and ten. State has eight in the box; Ryan stands up Mitchell(-1) and disengages at the LOS.
M3526Ace 3-WidePassIncManninghamStop
Dropped. Anyone else worried Manningham is developing Braylon Edwards disease? (CA, 3)
M3536Ace 3-WidePass11BreastonShallow Cross
Ton of time (protection +2). We max-pro with only the three WR in a pattern. Henne eventually checks down to Breaston, who should be stopped short of the sticks by all rights but makes the State DB miss and rolls up 8 YAC. Another instance where these damn three-yard routes on third and medium are wide open but Henne throws it way too late. (IN, 3)
M46110I-Form 3-WidePassIncArringtonBomb
And by “excellent coverage” McDonough means “terrible coverage.” Yeah: they leave S/OLB hybrid Adams lined up in press over Arrington, essentially begging Michigan to drop a bomb on his head. This they do... literally. Henne underthrows the pass and it bounces off his helmet. Back in the day we used to call that the Todd Howard. (IN, 1)
M46210I-Form Pass7ManninghamLong handoff
They play way off and we make them pay for like once. (CA, 3)
O4733I-Form Run0HartDraw
We run a draw into nine in the box. I am displeased.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 2 min 1st Q. They fair catch a punt at the four. They are very stupid.
M46110I-Form Run11HartZone left
Sharp cutback behind Kraus. Bihl's on the second level, on a linebacker. Mitchell(+1) has sealed a MSU DT who's first step was fatally upfield.
O43110I-Form Run2HartZone left
Ack. There's a definite hole here and the potential for a ton of yards, but Kraus(-1) can't seal his guy despite getting him good and engaged. Oluigbo flies by, as at that point the dude looks blocked.
O4228Ace 3-WidePass41ManninghamFly
Uh... yeah, that looks familiar. (DO, 2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 13 min 2nd Q.
M20110I-Form Penalty5--Offsides
Uh... you're dumb.
M2515Ace Run1HartZone right
Riley(-1) blown backwards off the snap, preventing Hart from getting outside for nice yardage. Mitchell also with no push.
M2624I-Form 3-WideRun22HartZone right
Only six guys in the box and it shows. Michigan creases the line right up the middle. Kraus manages to disrupt two guys while Mitchell and Oluigbo double Herron and open up a hole. Hart darts through it snappily.
M48110I-Form 3-WideRun2HartZone right
Kraus(-1) lets his man into the backfield immediately. Another one of those hard-to-make blocks on playside DTs.
5028I-Form Run1MinorLead draw
Spartans blitz into the draw and jam up the middle.
O4937Ace 3-WidePass9BreastonCross
Manningham and Arrington run off zone defenders, opening up the short cross to Breaston. Caught a couple yards short of the sticks but the Spartan DBs hesitate, knowing who they're up against, allowing Breaston to go straight upfield for the first. (CA, 3)
O40110Ace Run5 + 5HartSlam
Bihl gets a good push on his man, opening up a gap between himself and Mitchell for about five. Herron gets tagged with an incidental face mask.
O30110Ace Run4HartZone left
Dude. Clifton Ryan meets Hart at the line of scrimmage – Riley is following him down the line – to make a tackle but Hart drives him five yards downfield. Ryan is a 300-some pound defensive tackle.
O2626Ace Run1GradyZone left
Nothing off the left side. Linebackers aren't blocked.
O2435Ace 3-WideRun1GradyZone left
Can I tell you how much I hate this playcall? I hate all of it. Forever. It's one thing to “establish a run game” or whatever, but this is throwing away expectation.
You are so stupid.
O12110AceRun5HartZone right
Hart hit at about the eleven after cutting it up the middle; drags guys to the seven.
O725AceRun-1HartZone left
Mitchell(-1) blown way backwards by unpronounceable Spartan DT, who flows down the line and makes the tackle.
O636Ace 3-WidePassIncManninghamFade
Fade is too far inside and short, allowing Demond Williams to make a play on it. (IN, 1)
Drive Notes: Almost Blocked FG, 17-0, 4 min 2nd Q.
M24110Ace 3-WideRun2HartZone left
Hart tries to cutback between Mitchell and Riley, but Clifton Ryan has pushed Riley into the backfield and disengaged. Ryan leaves the game at this point.
M2628I-Form 3-WideRun16HartLead draw (2)
DE opposite Riley slants inside; Riley just shoves him the directions he's going. This causes Mitchell to trip as he's getting out on Herron, eventually falling right at his feet. Oluigbo(+1) hammers a linebacker, providing a crease between himself and Riley, and Hart bursts past Herron, who's tripped up by the prone Mitchell.
M42110Ace 3-WidePassIncManninghamPA Deep post
Fake a zone right; Henne sets up deep and overthrows Manningham. (IN, 0)
M42210I-Form Pass2TabbLong handoff
Hey, Carl Tabb exists. Huh. DBs are playing up on him and there's not much opportunity after the catch. (CA, 3)
M4438Ace 3-WidePassInc + 15ManninghamDeep out
Manningham drops what should be an easy conversion (DO, 3). Warrick then gets flagged for a weak personal foul. He was way late, but I dunno.
O41110I-Form Run6GradyZone right
Brian Thompson lined up at FB. Grady does well to pick out a small hole that didn't appear to be there. Grady's grabbed by a diving Spartan DT, holding this down, but a good, decisive run that displays actual vision.
O3524Ace 3-WideRun8GradyZone left
Pat Massey(+1) gets an outstanding seal on the DE, walling off the entire Spartan line. Long comes around the outside of Massey to kick out a linebacker; Grady scoots up through the hole. I wonder if this pull – the first we've seen all year – was impromptu after the Massey seal or designed. In any case, excellent work all around from Massey, Long, and Grady.
M27110I-Form Pass27ManninghamPost (2)
Deflecto-touchdown. What am I supposed to chart this as? Without the deflection this hits Manningham in the chest, but does Henne have to get it a bit farther out there to avoid the corner? I'd rather not with a safety coming over and the acknowledged crappiness of the Spartan secondary. Um... (CA, 3).
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-0, 11 min 3rd Q.
M22110Ace 3-WideRun14HartZone right
Spartan DE's first step to is upfield. All Butler has to do is step forward and seal; this he does. Spartan safety, filling late, is taken care of by Arrington. We hurry this snap count, perhaps preventing the safety from walking up pre-snap and allowing Arrington the block that opens up the outside.
M36110I-Form 3-WideRun-2HartZone right
Spartan run blitz sends five guys forward at the snap with a corner coming up to contain the backside. Eight versus six == too many guys to block. An ND-trailing class sellout.
M3428Ace 3-WideRun15GradyZone right
Only three Spartan DL! And they're freakin' stunting. The playside DE slants inside, essentially blocking himself, and the DT is nowhere near able to make a play. This leaves Butler and Riley free to rumbled downfield, looking for blocks. Butler engages Herron, eliminating him, and Riley just sort of wanders downfield. Grady flows through the massive hole and is just barely tripped, otherwise touchdown.
M49110Ace 3-WideRun1GradyZone right
Similar hole, only this time the Spartans are on the right side of their blockers, disengage, and tackle.
5029Ace 3-WideRun10GradyZone left
Spartan Lbs are shifted right, with Thornhill over Riley and Herron outside the TE. But we totally trick them and run zone left instead of zone right. Grady makes a hard cut upfield that leaves the Spartan linebackers – unblocked – eating dust and trying to grab an ankle. Nice play. This is probably his best game of his career.
M40110Ace 3-WideRun40MinorZone right (2)
Huge hole up the middle created by outstanding seal block from Kraus, who takes the DT right out of the play. Long does likewise with his man, Bihl drives his guy the other way, Arrington picks up the last block on the safety, and Brandon Minor is NOT a fullback.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-7, 1 min 3rd Q.
M3 110I-Form 2TERun0GradyZone left
Spartans selling out versus the run, sending almost everyone. We oblige; no room.
M3 210I-Form 2TERun0GradyZone left
I think Grady makes the wrong read here. There was a crease outside if he could get to it. I mean, Obi gets through... follow your fullback.
M3 310I-Form 2TERun1GradyZone right
I don't know if this is ruled a fumble or not, but it was close. Grady recovers it anyway.
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-7, 10 min 4th Q. I don't really have a problem with the play-calling here. Up 24 with 13 minutes left and with the defense we evidently have, the only way we lose this game is to do something stupid down here. Run run run punt, I'm fine with. Unfortunately, as soon as you praise Grady, he misses a fairly obvious hole (follow your fullback!) that probably would have gone for a first down and then (maybe) fumbles.
M48110Ace 3-WideRun2GradyZone left
Would have gone for more, but Long(-1) lets his man go by and tackle. Had the corner otherwise.
5028Ace 3-WidePass7MathewsLong handoff
Hey, it's like Greg Mathews and stuff. (CA, 3)
M4331Ace 3-WideRun-2MinorZone left
Long(-1) gets owned, letting his man in the backfield immediately. Don't know if it's his fault. I don't like this play and will expound later.
Drive Notes: Punt, 5 min 4th Q. EOG.

Aaaaargh run run run run run run run run.

Well... yeah, sort of, but when you can take the ball at your 22 and run six times for a touchdown it makes some sense. By the time we were up 31-7 with the ball at our three thanks to an unwise Jamar Adams interception, running three times and punting was probably the right decision, as only a conspiracy of miracles loses you the game. And hell, if Grady follows his fullback on second down he probably gets a chunk of yards and potentially a first down.

The only series that really bothered me was the field-goal drive in the second quarter featuring five straight ineffective runs connected by a roughing the kicker penalty. That particular drive felt a lot like Michigan wanted to grind a lot of time off the clock, kick the field goal, and go in with a 17-point lead. Except the result was that field goal and a Michigan State possession with 3 minutes left in the half, which is plenty of time to mount a drive. Michigan would have been better off going with play action, hurrying up the end of that drive, and punting it back to State with around five minutes left, increasing the chances that Michigan would have gotten the last possession of the half.

Not to be one of those people, but Henne seemed kinda off, right?

Yes. Hennechart:

(Now with explanatory legend.)

Notre Dame
Michigan State

Maybe I was a bit harsh: two INs were bombs, one was the Arrington touchdown, one was a late throw to Breaston that turned into a first down anyway, and the final was a throw that was a bit inside on a fade to Manningham. So two were catches and two were catchable -- one of the bombs was a bit underthrown and bounced off a Spartan's helmet.

Still: Michigan threw five screens, including Gold Jerry Gold, so he only had six good passes downfield. The sample size isn't exactly vast, but this was Henne's iffiest performance since Vandy.

Gold Jerry Gold? From Wisconsin:
Speaking of screen: play-action waggle screen. Fake a zone, get the offensive linemen moving left, get the defense reacting to the "waggle"... throw back to Hart. It's gold, Jerry! Gold!
It worked for a first down, which marks the first time I've ever predicted anything correctly. So I've got that going for me.

Receiverchart? Receiverchart:

This Game




Remember: "1" is a technically feasible by improbable catch. Any catches in this category are bonuses. "2" are moderately difficult but makable catches. "3" == should be caught.

So how about those backup running backs?

Minor's touchdown run got all the attention but it was Grady who impressed... except when he didn't. Several times he slashed up through small or nearly nonexistent holes. After he cut through the line he read the defense well and was unlucky not to break a long one, being barely tripped up a couple times. There was one major missed hole deep in Michigan territory late and something that may or may not have been a fumble on the next play, but other than that Grady was excellent.

Why do we suck on third and short?

I dunno. We were actually really good last year, but it seems you put us in third and short this year and we run out three wideouts and run a stretch play into nine guys. This doesn't work so good, evidently. What's wrong with lining up in a big set and cramming it down their throats? We have the personnel for that sort of thing.

And what does it mean for Penn State?

Penn State fans theorize there's some sort of home/away split in the aggressiveness of their defense and that with Manningham out they'll encroach upon our wideouts with impunity. I have my doubts, as Penn State's home opponents have been Akron, Youngstown State, and Northwestern. It seems far more likely that Penn State was tighter in coverage in those games because they could expect a ton of pressure against overwhelmed offensive lines and sucky quarterbacks. The split is more likely Actual Teams/Tomato Cans. Michigan is an actual team.

I expect Penn State to lay back a la Notre Dame and Ohio State. They don't have much faith in their secondary and are content to bend their way down the field and prevent the big play. They'll try to contain Hart with seven guys. Will this work? I don't know. Minnesota would have been of great help in my analysis of this game if they had tried those pitch sweeps that are a staple of their offense but did not. We do know that they have two good DTs and questionable-at-best DEs. Our tight ends have been merrily sealing all year, getting Hart to the edge for plenty of yards, and I expect a fair number of those plays over the course of the day. The Penn State linebackers are good but have been a bit of a disappointment, and Antonio Pittman got the corner with frequency. I don't think you'll have too much success lining up and running right at PSU, but our run game doesn't do that. I'm willing to bet it's surprisingly effective.

As for the pass game, Penn State gets no pressure and Henne has been extremely accurate -- if a bit tardy -- on his throws this year. With the dodgy tackling in their secondary, Breaston should have a big day.

I dunno... everyone says this Penn State team is dangerous but I don't see it. The main worry is that the run game is ineffective but DeBord stays with it long past reason, turning this from a comfortable game into a tight one.