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Thursday, October 27, 2005

(People asked for a comparison point for Henne's performance last week, so I decided to chart Tate... probably not the best comparison point, as you'll see, but a point of data for both the QB comparison and the defense.)

110O15Pass10Tate rolls out; Woods(+1) does a great job of getting out on him on the boot but he manages to find an open receiver downfield at the last second. (DO)
110O25Run1Off tackle at Burgess(+1), who keeps contain. He and Harris(+1) close off the hole.
29O26Run6Massey(-1) gets blown back off the snap; Burgess holds back and makes the tackle downfield.
33O32Pass25Michigan stunts Crable(+1) around and gets immediate pressure, but Burgess(-2) ends up two steps behind Chandler, who catches and runs downfield. (DO)
110M43Run8Young cuts it back as Watson(+1) clogs the intended POA. This is a prime example of Graham(-2) overrunning a play and being completely unprepared for a cutback. Woods misses a tackle but I think he did well just to slow him up a bit… to no avail because there's no LB.
22M35Run13Lloyd specifically called this out as an instance of someone turning the running back outside… someone is Graham(-1). Engelmon(-1) also misses a tackle.
110M22Run4I'm not going to give him a minus on this one but Graham gets blocked in the hole, closes it off well, but doesn't shed at all.
26M18Scramble4Good coverage down field on this waggle; Tate decides to get what he can after being chased by Van Alstyne; Burgess comes up and cuts of his path as he goes OOB.
32M14Pass15I don't think this is really Burgess's fault. He's in a short zone on this ridiculous coverage. We're on the 14 yard line on third and two, playing a three-deep zone. Grigsby just runs a little out after the DB gets run off; Brandt makes a good point that Burgess had to deal with Young coming out of the backfield. He can't cover two guys. This is a (-2) for Herrmann; we were screwed at the snap. (CA)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q. Not a fun drive. I'm getting progressively more frustrated with the ridiculous, obvious zone we end up in too frequently. On the touchdown Burgess was over the slot receiver like we've seen so many times before. The combo route with the outside guy driving off the cornerback and the slot going ot the corner was easy as pie. Also: straws are piling up on the Graham camel.
110M15Run12Thompson is already in the game at this point. Er… unfortunately he misses a tackle(-1) and Harris(-1) blitzes and overruns the play; once past the two linebackers Young has a lot of room. Still, Thompson made the correct read and put himself in position to make a play on the ball.
110M27Run17The same play from the first drive that gained a ton of yards when the WLB turned it outside. The exact same thing happens on this play. This time it's Thompson(-1).
110M44PassIncTate tries to go downfield but Woods(+1) is on him before he can let the play develop. Tate throws it but this is more of a throwaway. (TA)
210M44Penalty-10Jamar Adams is blocked in the back, allowing Sims to break outside. This is legitimate and stupid, since Adams(-1) had given up the outside already. Hall does little better.
220M34Run9Pat Massey(-1) gets shoved out of the hole and then driven into the ground. Burgess(-1) also takes an angle too far inside. Thompson makes a valiant effort to run it down from the backside but just can't make the tackle.
311M43Pass7A little dumpoff to Young. We fake a fourth rusher (Crable) and then drop him into a really short zone on third and ten, which I hate since he's useless there given down and distance. The coverage is good. (CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 4 min 4th Q. The punt is the controversial kick catch interference. I don't think there's actually any contact, but Breaston's vector was clearly altered by the gunner overrunning the play. Oh yes, Penn State fans, let me taste your yummy tears. On the drive itself, more ugly run defense; Thompson played this drive and didn't really do much.
110O20Pass13Another play where Tate scrambles around and finds an open man downfield, in between two converging defenders. Branch gets a pass rush but badly overruns Tate, opening up the lane. (DO)
110O33Pass11Hall starts this play seven yards off the wide receiver and his first two steps are backwards. Solomon runs a three yard stop and has a ton of room. (CA)
110O44Run4Massey(-1) again gets moved out instantly by a single block. Watson, doubled, gets pushed back a bit but manages to come off and make the tackle. Graham(-1) is buried by FB Bush; this has happened multiple times where Graham comes up and ends up crushed face-first into the ground by the Iowa FB.
26O48Penalty-10They sweep Young out the the right. Yanda gets called for a hold, and if he didn't get called the guy blocking Burgess was going to get called. Hold drawn by Branch(+1).
216O38Pass6A counter screen to Chandler. Mason(+1) forms up and stiffs Chandler impressively. Harris(+1) had previously sliced up between a couple blockers, stripping Chandler's escort. (CA)
310O44Pass17Actually really good coverage by Jamar Adams(+1), who gets a hand on Chandler as the ball gets there but can't strip it away. An excellent throw and catch by Iowa; nothing you can do about this, especially since Michigan was getting a fierce pass rush. (DO)
110M39Pass9Same thing as the Solomon pass earlier, where a giant, pansy cushion results in easy yardage for Iowa. (CA)
21M30PassSack, -3Jamison(+2) laughs at Young's foolish attempt to block him and does a sack/strip job on Tate. Note for opponents: don't block Jamison with a tailback.
34M33Pass10The design of this play seems ridiculous. Iowa is in a 3 WR 1 TE shotgun set with apparent man coverage that features David Harris vacating his place in the center of the zone to chase Grigsby, a slot WR, downfield while Mason sits defending a flat route; in between the two is a ton of space for Chandler. This is dumb. (CA)
110M23Run5I dunno. There's a cutback crease as Watson hops to the left where the play is supposed to go. We've got six in the box here against their 3 WR set, something wev'e gotten consistently gashed on all yeare.
25M18Pass12Short post in between Mason and Harrison… I'm baffled at the combination of passive CB play coupled with two deep zone. Another great show of timing between Tate and Solomon. (DO)
1GM6Run2Credit to the DL. Will Johnson(+1) holds up against two guys here, forcing the play outside, where Trent cleans up.
2GM4Pass4Touchdown. Another combo route against our zone; Chandler runs a fly right up the center of the field that the coverage bites on, opening up a little angle route for Grigsby. (CA)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q. Sweet mercy. Tate was brilliant on this drive when he had to be, and the Iowa routes are ripping our zones to shreds. I don't get the combination of two-deep coverage and CBs playing 7-10 yards off like they're Jaren Hayes. We essentially have them 20 of these yards by playing way off.
110O22Penalty-5False start.
115O17Run10Trent(-1) is blitzing from the short side and runs right by Young. We had scissors and they had rock on this play, which has happened and awful lot so far.
25O27Pass9Chandler again. There's no way we can stop this given the defense we keep using, as Iowa knows exactly what zones we're using, exactly where the holes are, and exactly the routes to run to bust them open. You can count on one hand the number of times in this half we've had good coverage. (CA)
110O36PassSack, -10Technically an intentional grounding penalty, but functionally a sack that should be credited to Woods(+2), who got out on the waggle much faster than Tate expected and forced the penalty. Good coverage by Mason(+1) on the short option.
220O26PassIncTate goes deep. Good coverage by Hall(+1). (IN)
320O26PassSack, 0First indication of some sort of adjustment here. Crable(+1) jams the TE's route and then comes on the delayed blitz we've seen before, forcing Tate up into the pocket where Woods(+1) finishes the job.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 4 min 2nd Q. Iowa fans started booing on the deep pass and didn't stop for three plays.
110M49PassIncHall(+1) with great coverage on the deep route, which I guess is expected when you play off 10 yards every snap. Woods(+1) hits Tate as he throws. (IN)
210M49Pass8Three man rush w/ delayed blitz from Crable. Tate hits Young, who schools Mason(-1) and Hall(-1). (CA)
32M41PassIncStraight drop by Melloy well downfield. Fortunate to escape a first and ten from the 20 or so… he was wide damn open. (DO)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 2 min 2nd Q. Dodged a bullet.
11050PassSack, -10Woods(+2) with another sack, though this one is somewhat on Tate, who held the ball a little long. Woods did a very nice job slipping past the stunt pickup. (TA)
220O40PassIncThree man rush + late Crable again. Crable(+1) bats the pass down as he's coming. (BA)
320O40Run10A we give up run.
Drive Notes: EOH, 7-14. Woods has stopped two drives; we got lucky on a third; the rest is methodical Tate and me gritting my teeth re: Herrmann.
110O30Run3John Thompson(+1) again does a tantalizing slash-and-whiff job, forcing Young back into the teeth of the defense.
27O33Pass4Exploiting the soft coverage. Hall(+1) holds the YAC down as much as humanly possible. (CA)
33O37PassIntA total gift, as Tate throws it right to a wide open Solomon. The ball goes through his hands and Harrison picks it off. (CA)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 14 min 3rd Q. A huge Iowa gaffe. Please bring this up the next time someone tries to tell you that Iowa doesn't beat itself. Not because I have anything against Iowa, I just have something against people who regurgitate conventional wisdom and want a cookie. No cookie for you.
110O27Run-2Hello John Thompson(+2)! Thompson reads the hole and shoots up through it quickly, beating a block along the way, as he's done before. This time he makes the tackle, for a loss even.
212O25Pass16Solomon in a seam of the zone downfield. Burgess(-1) and Adams(-1) simply don't break on the ball even though Tate stares down Solomon the whole way. (CA)
110O41Run-1Nobody's blocked here. Jamison(+1), as he's done a few times this year, teleports past his guy before he even knows he's gone. Thompson(+1) again reads and fills, making the tackle.
210O40Pass21Tate throws a beautiful fade right on the sideline. Harrison is a split second too late, but I don't know if this is really anyone's fault when Tate throws this so well. (DO)
110M39Run4Thompson on the tackle again, though it was barely.
26M35Run5This one's up the gut against a DT tandem of Taylor(-1) and Johnson(-1), who both get single blocked easily, allowing the center to seal off Harris and cut back for good yardage.
31M30Run1Barely makes this as Michigan has players in the backfield.
110M29Run-1Again Jamison isn't blocked at the line at all, and two guys, a pulling guard and the fullback, end up blocking him in the backfield, leaving Thompson to sit unmolested at the LOS and make an easy tackle. More of an Iowa bust than anything.
211M30Run6Shotgun draw to Young. Adams(-1) is coming on a blitz and should have a tackle for two but misses. Harris and Burgess are both fighting blockers and do well to hold this to six.
35M24PassIncTate is pissed at the WR for not running the comeback route properly. (Uh... I don't have a category for this.)
Drive Notes: Blocked FG(41), 10-14, 4 min 3rd Q. Harris(+1) gets the block. We've shored up against the run… sort of. Three passes to three open receivers; save for miscommunication this would be fist and goal.
110O28Run9The backside of the zone stretch has been open all day and is again. Adams(-1) comes up and cuts outside for some reason, leaving a gaping hole for Young to spring up through.
21O37Run3Good job by Harris to fight off a blocker; Iowa isn't doubling anyone along the line and our LBs are fighting off blockers every time.
110O40PassIncYoung is open underneath and drops what would end up as six or seven yards. (CA)
210O40Pass4Counter screen to Chandler #2. Thompson(-1) overpusues and gets cut behind… Chandler is like a 8 foot tall TE, man, that's embarassing. (CA)
36O44Pass4Looks like a screen for a half second as Jamison(+1) and someone I can't ID get free after the intial fake and force Tate to dump it off to Young, who gets smoked by Mason(+2), thus preventing the first down. Mason hates Buddhism. (CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 14 min 4th Q.
110M27Penalty-10Holding on a screen. Apparently drawn by Branch(+1) as he's driving towards Tate encumbered by an Iowa lineman and then falls. Probably a bad call but no conclusive replay is shown.
120M37Run2Fabulous job by Branch(+2) to hop outside the tackler to force Young inside and then to leap back inside the blocker and make the tackle.
218M35Run9We've been hopping inside their TE/tackle and pressuring the QB with regularity; here Iowa burns us on it by allowing the DE to do so at the snap, leaving Burgess in a no win situation with way too much ground to try and cover. Branch(-1) vacates.
39M26PassSack, -7This also looks like a screen, though it is not. Branch(+2) owns a guard and gets in almost untouched. Burgess(+1) comes from a linebacker spot as a fourth rusher and stunts around a couple of confused Hawkeyes to finish the play.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 11 min 4th Q. Yes, Kirk Ferentz just punted from his 33 yard line. I love the guy and think he's a fabulous coach but I'm souring on his in game decisions after witnessing his Carrization in this game combined with the botched time management against LSU and the decision to take a safety in the 6-4 game against PSU last year.
110O20Pass18Okay, I'm really sick of watching Burgess(-1) chase TEs downfield as both he and Harris bite hard on the waggle. (CA)
110O38Pass7They throw the slip screen to Chandler; it works. Burgess just looks really slow every time I see him, like he's running in molasses. (CA)
23O45Pass4Long handoff to Solomon. Argh… giant… cushions… crushing… soul. (CA)
110O49PassIncAbortive waggle because Grigsby thinks he's blocking a run play. Where was the guy in the flat? (Again... WR screwup)
210O49PassIncChandler drops a pass, actually deflecting it right to Harris(-1), who drops an easy one. (CA)
310O49PassSack, -4Tate fumbles the shotgun snap.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 7 min 4th Q. Fenstermaker's punts are averaging something like 25 yards. Again Iowa stubs its toe two or three times and forces itself to punt.
110O12Pass12Waggle and Tate finds an open Solomon. (DO)
110O24Pass12Yay zone! Chandler in between Trent and Burgess. (CA)
110O36Run5Major hole between Branch and a really, really blocked Harris(-1)
25O41Run8Iowa runs right at a LB lined up at DT, which, uh, sort of works. They're at the 50 with 2 minutes and three Tos left… not a definite passing down.
110O49Pass30Yay zone! When the closest guy to a slot WR downfield is your middle linebacker, you screwed up. I don't think this is a catch, actually… but I also don't think it should have been overturned. (DO)
110M21Run6Young bounces outside as Michigan has five in the box, three down, and Jamar Adams(-1) coming on a blitz; he reads run and lets it escape outside.
24M15Run1Watson(+1) pushes his guy into the backfield and makes a very nice tackle.
33M14Pass2Credit to Adams(+1) here for making the form tackle and preventing the first down, but mostly to Crable(+1) for shedding his blocker and preventing young from bouncing it outside. (Not charted.)
Drive Notes: FG(32) EO Regulation. Yay zone!
110M25PassIncWaggle yet again; Woods(+1) leaps and blocks the pass. (BA)
210M25Run1Thompson sheds a blocker(+1) and sticks Young in the hole. Watson is also coming.
39M24Pass10Via holding penalty on Crable(-1)… useless, useless penalty. Adams unfairly blamed. Solomon should have caught this ball. (CA)
110M14Run1The center can't get out to block Thompson in time and he simply fills the hole (created by Massey moonwalking five yards backwards, natch).
29M13Pass3Stop route they've used to good effect already. This time Hall(+1) manages to come up in time and makes a just good enough tackle. (CA)
26M10PassIncTate's throw to Solomon lays him out along the sidelines. Tough catch… open if more accurate. (IN... harsh)
Drive Notes: FG(27), 20-17, OT.

So how does Tate stack up?

Sweet Jesus. Keep in mind that two plays where the receivers clearly screwed up didn't get charted, nor did a couple of occurrences of heavy, immediate pass rush. I've included the post-charting-revamp Henne stats for comparison. Here you go:

TeamDead onCatchableInaccurateBad ReadThrowawaysBatted

Great galloping gravy! Remember the breakdown of positive/negative downfield plays I did for the PSU game? Henne had 14 positive to 16 negative. Take away two TE screens, two dumpoffs to Young on third and long, and four Solomon stop routes (to play this conservatively) and Tate had 23 positive to 7 negative, and that's being super harsh on the "Inaccurate" category, which holds two bombs and the third down comeback route in OT that glanced off Solomon's fingertips.

It's not fair to hold Henne to that standard--it probably isn't fair to hold Tate to that standard, that was one of the finest quarterbacked games I've seen, like, ever--but that's kind of mindboggling. Seriously, I think Tate made a total of three bad plays (holding the ball too long on one sack, fumbling a snap, and letting Woods bat a ball down on the waggle easily). That says a lot about Tate and a lot about how far away from him Henne has been this year.

Doesn't that say something else, too?

Yes, yes it does. This was a wretched defensive performance. Reviewing the tape I kept thinking to myself "how did we win this game?" A large part of Tate's success was due to Michigan never using man coverage. We played so far off their receivers that the only time we actually covered them is when they went deep. Seriously. I count three instances of tight coverage this entire game: the two deep balls and the Chandler catch that Adams got a hand on. Maybe the fade down the sideline against Harrison. For those scoring at home, Tate threw 34 passes by my count (some were erased by penalty). Coverage was nonexistent.

What stops we did get were either due to good fortune (drops, gifted interceptions, penalties) or a good pass rush and a sack off a stunt. Drive by drive:
  1. Touchdown
  2. An incomplete bomb and a stupid block in the back puts Iowa in 2nd and 20, we hold.
  3. Touchdown
  4. Great play by Woods to force a intentional grounding call puts Iowa in 2nd and 20.
  5. Iowa drop.
  6. Woods sack on first down and Crable bat put Iowa in 3rd and 20.
  7. Gift interception; should have been first down.
  8. WR runs wrong route.
  9. Mason thumps Young two yards short.
  10. Sack from great pass rush, again Iowa in first and 20 after penalty.
  11. Series goes WR screwup, drop, fumbled snap.
  12. FG. Legit stop but only after giving up 70 yards quickly.
  13. FG. Route is open but glances off Solomon's hands.
You have three instances of Iowa putting themselves behind the eight ball with penalties, five Iowa execution screwups, and exactly two instances of Michigan actually stopping the Hawkeyes without aid of a penalty. This is the essence of bend-but-don't-break: sit back until your opponents screw up, if they screw up. Michigan blitzed two times (I don't count the delaying LB tactic as a blitz as the LB is the fourth rusher). Two! Even blitz-hating TMQ would find that excessive. You can count the instances of man coverage on one hand . Not coincidentally, you can count the instances of covered receivers on the other hand.

We had the good fortune to get a number of drive-killing Iowa mistakes and thus managed to hold them to 17 points, but Michigan's defensive strategy in this game loses it 8 out of 10 times. We relied on Iowa drops and penalties and failed stunt pickups to win this game, which is crazy considering that Iowa was the least penalized team in the league coming in and is generally regarded as one of the best coached teams in college football. A series of flukes conspired against them in this game, otherwise they put up 30+.

This was probably the worst defensive performance in a very long time. It was worse than Michigan State. It was worse than Michigan State last year. It was worse than Ohio State or Texas last year. We stopped nothing. But for Woods playing phoenix and Branch getting instant pass rush, there's nothing redeeming from this game.

The worst part about all of this is that the players didn't seem to play particularly badly outside of Graham and Massey, but they were consistently put in no-win situations. We got a number of great plays from Woods and Branch and even John Thompson, but if someone wasn't making a great play, Iowa was getting a giant chunk of yardage. What kind of defense is that?

Yes, this seems viciously harsh for a game in which Iowa scored 17 points in regulation, but ask yourself: when Iowa got the ball back with two minutes to go, what did you think our chances of stopping them were?

Did anything good happen?

Well, the best thing I can say is that we were absent Woodley, who's obviously our best defensive player, and Branch should be able to move inside soon if Woods is allowed to play and Biggs returns. I'm sure Pat Massey is a great guy but he should be a roleplayer on this defense. Will he be? No, the evidence of such has been there since about game two. Nothing's changed, and so nothing will change.

John Thompson made a good debut as a first-string linebacker but it wasn't as good as it appeared watching it live. Thompson missed a few tackles, overran a play or two, and was in for a lot more productive rushes against than it initially seemed. However, he clearly has a knack for showing up around the ball and with some more experience should start making those plays he barely missed against Iowa. He also seems like kind of a yappy, trash-talking guy, and we need one of those.

Grant Mason's hit was also kind of awesome; remind me to write derogatory zen koans about Henne.

What about the...

You will be healthy for Northwestern!
Goddamn, son. Good to know we've buried you on the bench all year.

Mostly avoided.

Kid can rush the passer.
Didn't do much except for a series of great plays interspersed with a bad one on one second half drive.
Still chasing Chandler.
Worst game since he became a starter. Still did okay.
Job in serious jeopardy.
Not as good as it appeared but still superior to Graham.
Effective rushing the passer.
Seems generous for the corners when Tate goes nuts but I've made my position on the defense clear.


Didn't play much.

Yes, apparently generous but in line with what I thought happened: Woods saved the game for us, the linebackers were a disaster (-7 in total on a scale that tends towards +, since I'm not counting passing-down-only Crable as a LB), and the secondary was sold out by the obvious, repetitive coverages they were assigned.

In summary...

We kept calling scissors and were shocked (shocked!) when Iowa kept going "rock, rock, rock."

What does it all mean for Northwestern?

Woo haa! It could go one of two ways: Woodley, a revamped Woods, and Branch on the interior annihilate the Northwestern DL on a regular enough basis to keep the Wildcats relatively down. Or they don't and it's track meet time.

This Sutton kid is a lot like Mike Hart, a pint-sized pack of pterror. Dude came straight from an Ohio middle school to become the 5th-leading rusher in the country. He cracked 100 yards against Penn State's formidable defense. He broke out Rex-Kwon-Do against Wisconsin, gashing them for 244 yards. He was "held" to 89 yards against Purdue... on 13 carries! I quiver in fear. He has that feint-inside bounce-outside thing that Calhoun, Walker, Wolfe... well, damn near everyone has burned us with. He also catches the ball out of the backfield--21 receptions for over 10 yards a pop--just like Calhoun did. Much will depend upon how real John Thompson is, because we need someone other than Harris who can take the correct angle.

It's time to face facts, though: we're two-thirds of the way through the season and we have the 76th ranked rushing defense in the country. This is no fluke. Set aside the EMU nothingness. Every team that we've played has gashed us. If you consider the MSU tailbacks a single person, we haven't held a single opponent running back under 100 yards all year. Why is this? Massey, no doubt, plus Watson's eminently disappointing year. Throw in safeties 12 yards off the LOS on almost every play, and outside linebackers who have been really bad and you have a noxious cocktail that is not going to get any more palatable against Northwestern's fireworks display. Expect Sutton to get his 100. Hope he doesn't get his 200.

Brett Bazanez will do the exact same thing Tate did. He'll roll out a ton and find his receivers smoothly in the context of his offense. If we don't change the way we play defense we're going to die by a thousand papercuts.