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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Highlights from Dangerous Logic and IBFC, as per usual.

M29110I-FormRun0HartZone left
Fully eight in the box with the ninth rolled up tight. Still, this might have worked. Mitchell(+1) gets Alford cut nicely on the backside – all those guys in the box make a cutback unwise, though. The real problem is Long being stood up at the POA, driven back a yard or so, and then having his man disengage to make the tackle at the LOS.
M29210AcePenalty-5MasseyFalse start
Crowd rattling? (Massey -1)
Probably the difference between PSU and other defenses: Sean Lee, a sophomore linebacker, reads this very quickly, getting out on Butler and preventing much in the way of YAC. Nice, accurate throw by Henne under some pressure. (CA, 3)
M3039Ace 3-WidePass10MasseyOut
Henne's second or third read and a well-covered one at that. Accurate, well timed ball gets a first down. (Nominal DO, 3)
M40110AcePassIncArringtonShallow out
Batted at the line. Intended for Arrington on a short out; Michigan had flooded the zone with Hart and the two TEs to suck the defense in... looked like if complete this was eight to ten. Reason the ball is batted is a corner blitz right into the throwing lane. Nothing you can do about it on a three-step drop like this. Henne's choices were to chance the BA or take a sack. (BA, 0 – Arrington)
M40210Ace 3-WidePenalty-5ButlerFalse start
Argh. Ecker, where art thou? (-1)
M35215Ace 3-WidePass8HartScreen
I heart Hart. Dan Connor reads this and comes up to fill at the LOS. This should go for 0, but Hart jukes him out of his jock and gains 8. (CA, 3)
M4337Ace 3-WidePass2ButlerShort out
I think we missed a pick here as Connor is not impeded by the wideout's route at all. As a result, Butler is tackled immediately. (CA, 3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 9 min 1st Q.
M19110I-FormRun0HartZone right
FB shuffle to the weak side from Oluigbo; Penn State is shifted to that side. At the snap, five Lions come forward, three of them getting penetration. Hart bounces outside where Poz is waiting; he cuts up past him, turning a two-yard loss into a no gain.
M19210I-Form TwinsPassIncButlerShallow cross
Henne's hit on the arm as he throws; ball ends up hitting an offensive lineman. Butler was open on the cross, as Breaston and Arrington had run off the coverage underneath. (BA) ...whoah. The replay shows that this is definitely a fumble. Henne's arm is coming back when it's knocked out of his hand. The resulting forward motion of his arm sort of shot-puts the ball forward, but it's well out of his hand before the arm comes forward. Oluigbo, who let the pressure in, recovered it, so not a huge deal in the long term but still a missed call.
M19310I-Form 3-WidePass5*--Scramble
No one open initially and pressure comes from the outside. Henne steps up in the pocket and decides to take off... probably had time to survey the field and try to find another open receiver but it's hard to blame him. (TA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 4 min 1st Q. Williams fumbles the ensuing punt and Michigan gets the ball back.
O48110AceRun1HartZone right
Jay Alford – who we're running away from – dominates Bihl(-1), driving him all the way back to Hart and tripping him near the LOS. If Alford doesn't make this play Poz is closing to attempt a tackle but chances are Hart gets four or more if he successfully jukes him. Don't quite understand why Arrington doesn't come in and seal the LB, leaving Hart to deal with a flimsy corner instead of Poz.
O4729Ace 3-WideRun3HartZone left
Long again has trouble dealing with his man. The outside is open here but for the penetration ceded by him. Hart decides to cut it up and burrows for three or so... he might have been able to get the corner anyway, but probably not.
O4436Ace 3-WidePassIncArringtonPost
From our seats in Beaver Stadium we saw this come wide open; so did Henne. We then saw Henne miss Arrington by a couple yards. Bleah! (IN, 0)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 3 min 1st Q. Penn State isn't loading the box or anything, they're just making excellent plays in the run game.
M25110I-FormPass15BreastonDeep cross (2)
Epic time; Henne stands in the pocket and fires downfield to Breaston, open between three zone defenders. Breaston makes a tough catch downfield, as the ball is behind him a bit. (CA, 2)
M40110AceRun1HartZone right
...I guess, as it's hard to tell. Ed Johnson is completely unblocked. Hart cuts past him to prevent a five-yard loss and dances through three more guys, two of them getting blocked, before getting closed down by the rest of the PSU defense.
M4129Ace 3-WidePenalty-5Mathews(?)Inelig. Man
Six yard out to Mathews (CA, 3) is erased because he lined up on the LOS and was thus covered up by Breaston.
M36214Ace 3-WidePass15ArringtonPA Slant (2)
Token fake to Hart; this slant is not a bang-bang three step drop but rather a delayed one that allows the middle of the zone to get cleared out. Henne finds Arrington wide open for seven to ten yards; Arrington feints his way up the field for the first down, picking up a block from Mathews on the way. (CA, 3)
O49110I-Form TwinsPass11BreastonSlip Screen (2)
Well done by Breaston. Arrington blocks the inside guy; Breaston bolts past the outside guy. Momentarily searching for balance after getting his legs tangled with the flailing arms of the defender, he can't put a move on the safety and score. (CA, 3)
O38110I-Form TwinsPassIncBreastonFly
Excellent coverage from King – we were screaming for PI on him for disrupting Breaston's route. Breaston lays out but the pass is just off his fingertips. (CA, 1)
Henne has Breaston open farther downfield for what looks to be a probable first down. He takes the short TE route; Butler catches it, breaks a tackle, and creates good YAC. (CA, 3)
O3133Ace 3TERun6HartZone left (2)
Michigan overloads the line with three-count-em-three tight ends, two on the left side. They run there and there's finally a crease, this between Kraus and Long. Key seal block from Massey.
Hart motions out of the backfield like he did on the long reception versus Minnesota. Penn State sends six; they're momentarily picked up. Breaston's slant and go doesn't fool King, in superb coverage. With the oncoming rush and the coverage, I think Henne's just getting rid of this ball. (TA)
Breaston wide open on an out that he would easily turn up for a first down; Henne overthrows him. (IN, 0)
O25310Ace 3-WidePass25ArringtonPost (2, 3, 4)
Duuude. Penn State drops eight; Henne lures the safety towards the middle of the field by looking right, then comes back and fires a dart into Arrington's hands. (DO, 3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 11 min 2nd Q. Seriously badass throw completes the drive.
50110AceRun6HartZone left
Well... this play works but no thanks to the guys trying to block the PSU DTts, who both end up four yards in the backfield. Hart his running to their left anyway, cuts back behind the line as there are no DTs left... maybe that's why you don't get four yards in the backfield against the zone. Some Shaw – Tim or Jim – is unblocked on the backside and makes the tackle after seven yards.
PSU sends a run blitz right before the snap. It's well blocked in the middle but with the extra players attacking there's nowhere to run.
O4232Ace 3TERun6HartZone left
Essentially the same play we ran for the other third and short conversion, overloading the left and then going there. Thompson and Butler both stick their assignments, as does Kraus on the second level. Hart has an easy time of picking his hole and getting the first down.
O36110Ace 3-WidePass27ArringtonPost (2)
A virtual replay of the touchdown down to the yardage gained. (DO, 3)
O91GAce 3TERun3HartZone left
I guess it's not surprising that there are nine guys in the ol' box when we're on the nine. Play is well blocked, but neither Poz nor Connor will stay engaged. They both come off their blocks and the combination – a Poz missed tackle forcing Hart into a diving Connor – keeps this gain at three yards.
O62GAce 3-WidePassIncBreastonFlat
Pass batted at the line; Breaston was probably going to get nailed the instant he caught it anyway. (BA)
O63GAce 3-WidePassIncMasseyUm.. fade?
Pass through Massey's hands; definitely caught by Ecker, who's a couple inches taller and has shown better hands. (CA, 2)
Drive Notes: FG, 10-0, 5 min 2nd Q.
M20110Ace 3-WideRun3HartZone left
Seven in the box versus this three-wide set. Mitchell gets Alford cut – we seem to be doing this better of late – giving Hart a lane up the middle. Connor, unblocked, meets Hart a yard after the LOS; Hart does his thing for three more yards.
M2327AceRun6HartZone left
Alford not cut this time but overruns the play. Hart cuts up behind him. Butler ignores the DE, who flies upfield before changing direction, trying to bear down on Hart. Hart powers through his arm tackle and is into the second level, where Butler and Mitchell have picked up blocks. Hart could be stopped for about four but Riley plows into him from the back, causing him to fall forward.
M2931AceRun2HenneQB sneak
Long lined up at guard.
M31110AcePenalty-5--Illegal procedure
Only six guys on the line. Probably Butler's fault.
M26115Ace 3-WidePassIncButlerSeam
Butler had two steps on the nearest defender and could have sailed for big yardage, but Henne's way high. (IN, 0)
M26215Ace 3-WideRun15HartDraw (2)
Actually have them thinking pass, probably the first time a defense has done that all year. Six in the box and the DL goes for a pass rush. By the time Hart's to the line one LB is engaged and Riley's getting out on the other. Result: gaping hole.
M41110I-FormRun0HartZone left
Play disrupted by penetration from Ed Johnson. We go to the short side of the field so there's no chance to get the corner once Hart's immediate path is blown up. Kraus(-1) the one victimized.
Pursued on the waggle, Henne lofts a weak ball out towards Breaston that lands at his feet. (IN, 1) Play would have gone for very little because of the weak throw anyway.
Well... a good job by Henne to roll away when he couldn't find anyone open downfield and find Butler open at the sticks, but overthrown. (IN, 0)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 11 min 3rd Q. Don't want to be too harsh on Henne, but he sailed a ball that could have been a really big play and overthrew Butler to snuff this drive out.
M31110I-Form TwinsRun-1HartLead Draw
Not a good play from the OL. Bihl(-1) is beaten by Johnson, forcing a too-soon cut from Hart. The delay allows the rest of the DL, only slightly blocked, to coverge.
M30211Ace 3-WidePass5ArringtonPA Cross
Draw is faked. I think Butler's seam is supposed to draw Connor back but this it does not do. He closes, preventing any YAC. (CA, 3)
M3536Ace 3-WidePassIncArringtonPost
Alford goes between Riley(-1) and Mitchell, getting quick pressure that he shouldn't with two guys to block him. The resutling pass from Henne is a little bit in front of Arrington. His diving attempt at the catch comes up short. (CA, 1)
Drive Notes: Punt,10-3, 6 min 3rd Q.
M39110Ace 3-WidePass2*--Scramble
Kraus(-1) badly beaten by Ed Johnson, forcing Henne to scramble... surprised this wasn't a sack, actually. Good awareness to turn this into anything positive. (PR)
M4128Ace 3-WideRun4HartDraw
Nice hole here – we've got 'em creased again – but for Johnson coming loose and closing Hart down after he gains a small chunk of yards. Kraus(-1) couldn't keep him sealed.
M4534Ace 3-WidePass10ArringtonSlant
Pass could be thrown a lot better. As it is, Arrington has to dive down and grab it. (Marginally CA, 1)
O45110Ace 3-WidePassIncButlerSeam
Giant roar of disappointment from the Michigan section after this play, as he had Butler streaking open 25 yards downfield. (BA) Can we keep Jay Alford out of the passing lanes?
O45210Ace 3-WidePass24BreastonStop (2)
A late blitz from Poz catches Hart off guard. Henne starts to move, then finds Breaston, flicking it out to him. You know who this reminds me of? John Navarre. In a good way. King isn't close enough to Breaston to make an immediate tackle, and that's bad news versus Stevie B. (CA, 3)
O21110AceRun20HartZone right (2)
So awesome is Mike Hart. Awful that this isn't a touchdown. Anyway: Butler blocks out the DE and Johnson hideously overruns towards the frontside, leaving a cavernous hole behind. Hart cuts back, breaks the tackle from Scirroto, and drags the corner seven yards to the one.
O11GAce 3TERun1HartZone right (2)
Thompson(+1) comes in motion to the short side as the third TE. He blows back the corner, letting Hart walk in.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-3, End of 3rd Q.
M31110AceRun3HartZone right
Eight in the box. Hart's cutback lane filled by the eighth guy, forcing a cut upfield into Poz for a few.
It looks like Hart has a big hole for a moment, but Johnson comes free from Kraus(-1) and Breaston(-1) whiffs his block, turning what looked like a wide open lane into nothing. Hart makes what he can.
M3635Ace 3-WidePass18BreastonSlant
Simple slant to Breaston at the sticks turns into a big chunk of yards when King whiffs the tackle, setting Breaston free in the open field. (CA, 3)
O46110Ace 3-WidePass12BreastonStop
Victimizing King again. Wide open and Breaston makes a good cut upfield for as many yards as possible. (CA, 3)
O34110Ace 3-WideRun2*HartDraw
We fake a slip screen that we totally should have ran for a ton of yards. Instead, a draw to Hart again snuffed out by Johnson as Kraus can't get him pushed or sealed.
O3228Ace 3-WidePassIncBreastonCross
Going to the well one too many times, as the linebacker is jumping this route, ignoring the TE's seam. There's still a window for a short completion but Henne wings it wide, forcing Breaston to break up a potential interception. (IN, 1)
O3238Ace 3-WidePass-3--Sack
Not sure what Henne's looking at, because he has Breaston wide open for the first down – DB is turned completely the wrong way – but refuses to throw, instead scrambling out and getting tackled for a loss. (BR)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 10 min 4th Q.
M26110AceRun5HartZone left
Outside is sealed well this time. Long holds his man off and Butler gets out on Poz. Breaston(-1) tries to chop Connor but fails miserably. Hart still has enough momentum and room to go for five.
M3125AceRun0GradyZone left
Kraus driven back by Johnson, and Butler can't handle the DE. Grady cuts it up, meeting an unblocked Lee at the LOS.
Breaston is the first read in the flat. Play is designed as a bit of a pick, but Arrington's route doesn't come close enough to Breaston's defender to interfere with his man coverage. Henne comes off to Butler, decides he's covered, and scrambles. (TA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 4 min 4th Q.
M20110I-Form 2TERun-1HartZone left
Butler(-1) can't handle Shaw, who penetrates, bangs into Oluigbo, and then tackles. Extremely disappointing, as a Butler block yields a big chunk of yards.
M19211AceRun23HartZone left (2)
Crease between Bihl and Long with the second level completely blocked. One problem: Riley hasn't obstructed Alford at all. It's another one of those play-side blocks that are really difficult. He bears down on Hart and impacts him... but just because Riley hasn't done anything yet doesn't mean he can't grab Alford's arm, preventing him from wrapping and springing Hart for a huge gain.
M42110AceRun5HartZone left
Connor blitzes, bringing the second level to Long; Long, standing stock still, meets Connor and shoves him back four yards. There's a crease as a result despite nearly every Lion starting the play in the box.
M4725AceRun-2HartZone right
Penn State sends the house. A linebacker drives Mitchell back; a single-blocked Alford does the same to Bihl. Poz, unblocked, meets the play in the backfield.
Right on the money, dropped. (CA, 3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 2 min 4th Q.

After reviewing the tape, what do you think about Henne's performance?

Let's bring in the helpful chart for reference:

Notre Dame
Michigan State
Penn State

(Now with explanatory legend.)

Obviously, Henne threw a lot more in this game than he has in any other this year, and he did it in a difficult environment against a good defense. It's reasonable to expect the numbers to be a little uglier. And that they are, with a full 15 attempts in the negative categories compared to but 19 in the positive ones. You may remember that at his nadir last year, Henne hovered just below the 50% mark, but that was after we stripped out batted passes and pressure. With four deflected balls -- none of which were truly Henne's fault -- and one Alford-induced scramble removed, Henne's ratio is 19:10. That's not bad at all.

Still, I wish that his accuracy was better. He had Arrington open a few times and either missed him entirely or forced him into a tough catch. He missed an open Butler a few times and winged a sure first down over Breaston's head. He turns two of those inaccurate passes into completions and I'm raving... but his accuracy left a little to be desired.

On the other hand: do you know who he reminds me of right at this minute? John Navarre midway through his junior year. That's when Navarre started doing things like moving up in the pocket to buy himself time and make the correct audibles and look safeties off before firing critical third-down lasers. And that's when you, the fan, sat back and thought "is this really John Navarre? Really really?" The Arrington touchdown and the scrambling Breaston completion are things he would not have done a year ago. He's gone from staring down receivers to teleporting safeties with his eyes. He's making second and third reads with regularity. He's getting there, and fast. The best evidence of this: the one timeout Michigan took on offense was because DeBord never got the call in, and Henne spent the entire game calling two plays and checking at the line in front of 110,000 people who hate him. He's come a long way.

And the receivers sans Manningham?

Very good:

  • 0 = totally uncatchable
  • 1 = difficult catch worthy of Avant.
  • 2 = tough-ish catch.
  • 3 = aaaaargh if dropped.

This Game

Both Breaston and Arrington came through with big nights. Breaston's drop at the end prevented Michigan from running out the clock, but other than that he was very good. Michigan did something they hadn't managed to do so far this year: get him the ball moving at a good rate of speed upfield. The results were two plays that he turned moderate gains into 25-yard chunks. With Michigan's ever-increasing confidence in Henne's ability to probe the middle of the field (Arrington has been a post machine), I expect to see more of these routes as we go along. If Breaston can hang on to them consistently that'll be a useful weapon going forward.

Also of note: Butler was targeted a whopping seven times. He had the misfortune to be the primary victim of inaccurate or batted Henne passes, but twice he was wiiiiide open behind the Penn State linebackers.

Can you believe Hart ended up with over 100 yards?

No, not really. Penn State got gashed -- 15 on a draw, 20 on that ridiculous "I'm Mike Hart" run, 24 on Michigan's final drive -- and gave up just under half of Hart's yards on three carries. It seemed like Hart was dancing past defensive tackles in the backfield all night and setting up an inordinate number of 2nd and 9 or 2nd and 10. And then: 112 yards at the end of the night. Go figure.

What does it mean for Ohio State?

We have to be worried about Johnson and Alford's play against the interior of our line. Johnson was just killing Kraus whenever we tried to run at him. Alford was less consistently disruptive but turned in a few plays of his own. Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson are neck-and-neck with Branch & Taylor and the PSU duo for honors as the top DT pairing in the conference (and probably the nation); if they disrupt the interior of the line as much as Johnson and Alford did our offense may sputter.

One thing I am confident of: the OSU linebackers aren't up to the standards of Connor, Poz, and the surprisingly heady Sean Lee. Neither of the former would stay blocked, often disrupting run plays that looked sure to go for big yards. From what I've seen from OSU and from what the stats suggest, the new linebacking corps is vulnerable. I also doubt OSU has a corner the caliber of Justin King (when the ball is in the air -- guy tackles like Grant Mason), though it's hard to tell when the only threatening wideout I've seen them oppose has been saddled with an utterly green Colt McCoy.

More on OSU later, of course.

And Iowa?

With Mitch King out, the safeties dinged, and really slow guys everywhere, Iowa seems ripe for the picking. They've got a guy from Nebraska -- if you know what I mean -- playing cornerback. James Hardy toasted that guy so frequently that he's getting checked for skin cancer. Whenever Antonio Pittman decided to bounce outside, there wasn't a Hawkeye within five yards of him. They'll play tough and hardnosed, but unlike past years there isn't a single player on the defense who seems like a good bet for the NFL. Michigan will move the ball.