|You know it, you love it: zone left on the first play of the game. Pretty well blocked, but Mitchell's guy gets free of him and closes down Hart's hole after a few.|
|Manningham runs off the zone, leaving Breaston wide open a long way down the sideline. Hene flutters the ball out there, but it's accurate. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|Blitz up the middle is unblocked; Henne gets the ball out anyway to Manningham, who makes a semi-tough catch. (CA, 2, protection 1/2, no specific blame.)|
|Nowhere for Hart to go off the left side of the line. Momentary pause is followed with a bounceout all the way around fallen IU defenders and a nine yard gain. Hart is k-rad.|
|O28||1||10||Trips Empty||Pass||Inc||Breaston||Diamond screen|
|Breaston motions over to the trips side of the formation for the obvious screen; Henne throws it wide of him. (IN, 0)|
|O28||2||10||I-Form||Run||16||Hart||Lead draw (2)|
|This director refuses to show the play until it's underway. Ecker(+1) gets a nice block on the second level; Breaston also comes in to seal the last guy that can get Hart before he's into the secondary. Well blocked all around. I miss this play.|
|Cutback this time as the front side is closed off. Riley's actually cutting guys now. This one isn't completely wonderful but does delay his man enough to get Hart a lane. Corner comes off Arrington to pop Hart and grabs his ankles, preventing him from getting another couple yards.|
|Mitchell(-1) whiffs a second level block. His man comes in on Hart; Hart ducks under his arm and plows for a couple.|
|Note that we've spent most of this drive in 2TE with the TEs overloading one side and twin WRs to the other. We do this again and run to the strong side. Oluigbo is one of the “tight ends” in this case. Same cut as the last play between Bihl and Riley with Mitchell trying to get a guy on the second level. He does better this time. There's a small crease between him and Riley occupied by the DE, who's trying to fend off a blocker and is moving laterally. Hart crashes into him, blowng him back three yards and finding first down yardage.|
|Perfect throw and catch. (DO, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q. Less sloppy than previous games. Helped by IU defense best described as “not present.”|
|Hart decides to cut all the way back past the backside tackle, dodges an unblocked guy to prevent a TFL, and gets a yard.|
|I prefer the waggle when we get a guy on the outside to block the backside end or linebacker, giving Henne more time to throw. This one doesn't feature that, so he dumps the ball to Butler for a moderate gain. (CA, 3) Still in the overloaded twins formation.|
|Marginal throw behind Manningham forces a double-clutch grab and prevents him from getting the first down. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M47||4||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||4||Hart||Zone left – Iso|
|Yeah, this features zone blocking but the directive is clear: Obi finds a crease and Hart follows him. This seems a different playcall than the stretch stuff that drives me mad on third and short. Oluigbo does find a crease as Mitchell(+1) gets enough of a playside block to force the IU DT back a bit. Oluigbo finishes blowing up the DT; Hart has a path.|
|Pitch and catch; nicely executed. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O38||1||10||I-Form||Run||17||Jackson||Zone right (2)|
|Against the strength of the formation and another cutback lane. Oluigbo(+1) deftly pilots a filling linebacker out of the play. The backside is two blocked IU guys, cavernous space, and a safety trying to fill. Jackson bursts through a tackler near the LOS and rips off a major chunk of yards.|
|O21||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Zone right|
|Kraus cuts the DT, totally eliminating him and opening up a huge cutback lane in the middle of the field. Hart makes a brilliant in-out cut that had him free for a big gainer but stumbles at the last moment.|
|Token draw fake; Butler finds himself in one-on-one coverage with the free safety. The ball is placed right in Butler's hands but he juggles it and Meyer accidentally bats it free. Great throw; not so great catchin'. (DO, generous 2, protection 2/2)|
|Henne throws a dead-on bullet to Arrington for the first down. Arrington holds on despite the safety nailing him as he catches the ball. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Mitchell's guy on the second level beats him to the spot and makes the tackle at the LOS. Near impossible for him to make that block given how quickly the IU guy read it.|
|O4||2||G||I-Form 2TE||Run||4||Hart||Zone left (2)|
|IU dead from the snap here; DE attacks outside and is sealed. DT also pushes inside. Kraus gets out and gets a second level block. Massive hole; Oluigbo thumps the last defender with a chance. Hart touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 4 min 1st Q. File under make OSU prepare: more empty sets plus this overloaded twins formation.|
|M31||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||1||Hart||Zone right|
|Only six guys in the box and Michigan runs away from the seventh, shaded over the slot WR. Unfortunately, this is away from the wide side of the field and the strong side of the formation. Momentary double on the DT by Kraus and Long; Kraus tries to disengage to block the linebacker but is too late. Hart's forced outside into unsealed guys.|
|Balanced TEs this time. Short side again (WTF). Linebacker comes through unblocked (also again) as no one gets out at him. Grumble grumble playcalling grumble. Hart powers through the tackle and falls forward for his customary four-yards-from-nothing.|
|Well wide. Had Breaston on that short cross wide open, too. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.|
|M26||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||12||Hart||Zone left|
|Wide open on the left side – the strong side, as Hart has a huge cutback lane. I initially thought this was a draw due to Henne's straight-ish dropback and Hart's immediate backside cut. A planned playcall? I do know that the backside DE flies up towards Henne, opening this up. Hart gets past the linebacker shaded over the slot WR and slips a couple tackles. I heart Hart.|
|M38||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||62||Breaston||Hello, Nurse (2)|
|Dude, like, we could have used that versus ND last year. I keed, I keed. Post and go pwns Meyers; Henne drops it in his midsection; Breaston catches it yay. (DO, 2, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 10 min 2nd Q. Dear Bill Curry, if our biggest concern versus OSU is people tracking down Steve Breaston from behind I'll take that chance.|
|O49||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Run||6||Hart||Zone right|
|Hart cuts back behind Kraus. A linebacker has an angle and gets a hand on him a couple yards downfield. This is not enough to slow him down. He stumbles and powers and generally Mike Harts his way for six yards, tacklers draped.|
|Balanced TEs. Not much room; Minor hops inside an attempted arm tackle. Bihl(+1) is driving his man well downfield, allowing Minor to follow him for near first-down yardage.|
|O40||3||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||0||Hart||Zone left|
|A linebacker isn't blocked. He flows down the line, steps up through a crease and hits Hart in the backfield. Another run to the short side, not that it would have mattered much.|
|O40||4||1||I-Form 2TE||Run||7||Hart||Zone left|
|Same formation, same play. This time there's a gap between Long and Kraus. Long's kicked his guy out and for some reason the Indiana DT gets sealed instantly, dooming the Hoosiers.|
|O33||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||-2||Minor||Zone right|
|I'm not sure what the deal is on this play. There's a huge gap between Bihl and Kraus, especially with Oluigbo flying up into it to pound the linebacker, but Minor hesitates and runs into a mass of blockers and defenders on the left side. Theory: one of those counter-zone plays that Minor screwed up. Acres on the backside here, which is also the strength of the formation.|
|I guess you could blame Jackson for this shaky blitz pickup, but two more guys come free, forcing Henne to step up into the pocket and the two remaining Hoosier pass rushers. Ugly all around. (PR, protection 0/2, -1 Jackson, -1 Kraus/Bihl)|
|O36||3||13||Ace 3-Wide||Pass||22||Ecker||Deep cross (2)|
|Protection is great, great, great this time. Henne sits back in the pocket and fires, hitting Ecker in the numpers past the sticks. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Ecker follows up his nice catch with a crappy block. Kendal blows him backwards. It forces Jackson to cut back inside, then outside, disrupting the play's timing and screwing up what's otherwise a big gain.|
|Hey... at least it's his second read. With no one occupying the corner in the short zone, he's free to drift back and step in front of Henne's pass. (BR, Breaston, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-3, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|M41||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Hart||Zone right|
|Eighth guy in the box for the first time this game – Indiana perceives that the scoring offense has gone in the box, perhaps. Kraus' man gets playside of him and engages Hart at the LOS, making the tackle. Decent crease otherwise.|
|Minor chooses to plow ahead; I think he's got a major lane to the right that he misses. Plowing ahead is good for about four, as the Indiana DL has given up the ghost when it comes to holding up at the POA.|
|Oluigbo lined up at TE. He's beat by his man after the PA fake to the inside, forcing Hart to pick him up and leaving a blitzer from the outside unblocked. Henne stands in and rifles a pass 20 yards downfield that hits Breaston in the chest as he's being hit. (DO, 3, protection 1/2, -1 Oluigbo)|
|See, this is why I think we have more running plays in the playbook than zone right, zone left, and draw: Riley's first two steps here are parallel to the LOS – almost backwards – and he only engages his guy once he knows he's got the outside shoulder. He's sealed, and this play is supposed to go outside the tackle. Early in the year I labeled stuff that seemed like it was supposed to go like this “off tackle,” then decided everything was the same and just went with “zone right/left”... now I'm not so sure. Anyway: yes, Riley seals his guy. Manningham, motioned in presnap, gets out and blocks a linebacker, as does Butler. Jackson goes off tackle for a nice gain. I mutter and type in “zone right.”|
|Grumble! Also think this is planned to go the backside, as we fake an end around. This holds the backside DE and opens up a cutback lane that Jackson exploits like whoah.|
|O17||1||10||Ace||Run||16||Jackson||Zone left (2)|
|Not so grumble. Here Long engages right away, making me think this is a traditonal zone left. It goes outside anyway – great second-level blocks by Butler and Kraus; Long seals his guy. Breaston's motioned in and is trying to deal with a safety. When Jackson gets to the outside he makes a smart cut upfield when he clearly had a pretty good gain outside. The smart cut carries him past Breaston's guy and another player trying to get outside, getting down to the one.|
|O1||1||G||I-Form 2TE||Run||1||Jackson||Zone left|
|Met at the LOS; Jackson gets his pads down and powers through. A well-deserved touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed XP), 34-3, 5 min 3rd Q. I don't get why Jackson was the starter for most of the year when Hart went out. Grady potential whatever but on the field Jackson has owned him. I wonder if history would have been different if he wasn't injured early in Hart's freshman year. He must have been better than Underwood. If Grady gets any carries versus OSU he must have incriminating photos of Carr.|
|IU cuts off the play side with a blitz. Jackson cuts back finds more bodies, cuts back some more... space. Cuts up past Mike Massey then bounces it out again. Nice run. Why can't you be a freshman?|
|Zirbel and Boren in on the left side now. This run in stuffed as there's no crease on the left; unblocked linebacker on the second level finishes the play|
|Coupled with an end-around fake and designed to go off right tackle. The backside guys don't take the bait this time.|
|Zirbel is owned by Kenny Kendal. If we're going to get a QB killed subbing for Long, could it please be Forcier?|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-3, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Notice all the 2TE sets? I imagine we wanted to use these all year but with Ecker and Massey out (plus Butler suspended one game) we never really got the opportunity.|
|Good job by Boren to ride his guy out, providing a lane. IU's defenders are overrunning the play.|
|Will Paul in. This is like that window in the fourth quarter of a MNF game where you talk about anything other than the game.|
|Brown needs work. Should have redshirted.|
|AAAAARGH YOU'RE GOING TO GET HENNE KILLED AGAIN. Oh. Screen. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 34-3, 8 min 4th Q. Next drive features Chris Richards; charting ceases.|
- Savoy now has zero reception for seven yards; he's the all time leader in YPC.
- Forcier is all runny.
- Darnell Hood pwns you.
We showed a few things we hadn't before, or at least not for a while:
- Massey and Ecker's return also featured the return of a lot of 2TE sets that had receded in favor of the I or three-wide.
- Steve Breaston running a deep route, and catching it.
- The empty sets we started breaking out a few weeks ago.
- A few fake end-arounds that are designed to cut back inside the DE.
A weird game from Henne where he was either doing something really bad (interception, misthrowing a screen, winging it wide to Manningham) or throwing lasers twenty-to-forty yards downfield. The lasers outweighed the errors, say the numbers, and I agree. That's partially an artifact of playing Saturday's red-clad men that claim they are a secondary, but a 62-yard bomb placed delicately between the 1 and the 5 on Breaston's jersey is a 62-yard bomb placed delicately between the 1 and the 5 on Breaston's jersey. Henne was also aided by a couple plays where Indiana rushers didn't come within five yards of him. I don't expect a similar performance against a much better defense, but if we get one...
Not much throwing to go around. No mindboggling drops, but Butler probably should have had the potential touchdown thrown to him. Otherwise, the WR corps was perfect.
More on this later, but I think there's strong circumstantial evidence that we'll be able to move the ball on Ohio State. Opponent running backs in Hart's statistical class have done well versus the Buckeyes this year, but have had vanishingly few carries because damn near everyone is trailing big early. In the pass game, Gholston versus Riley seems problematic but Rueben's quietly put together a solid season. Other than one play against Iowa where he unwisely tried to limp back onto the field after an injury and immediately gave up a sack to Brian Mattison, I can't remember any "aaaargh Riley" moments since the Wisconsin game. Say what you want about the level of competition, but he's done well enough to escape much mention in UFR for about half a season.
That'll obviously be a key matchup, but how much worse can Gholston be than Abiamiri? I think we'll see a couple plays at Riley's expense but my main worry is receivers catching the damn ball.
As much as DeBord grinds my gears, one thing Michigan has always done is pull out the stops for OSU. I expect a fairly even run-pass balance unless our relative proficiency at one blows the other away. No more of this 80% rushes on first down. I doubt we'll see any wacky halfback passes or flea-flickers or whatever. I also doubt Michigan will throw away a couple possessions trying to figure out if they have to get Henne out of mothballs.