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Thursday, November 30, 2006

O311103-3-5 NickelPass2Long handoff
Hall(+1) holds this down wonderfully, making the tackle after a stiffarm. (CA, 3 – screen) (Cover +1)
Combo route designed to beat zone coverage that OSU knows we're in because we have Burgess lined up over Ginn and Gonzalez. Burgess(-1) bites on play action, then slips on the turf as he tries to react to the pass. Slip was probably irrelevant. (CA, 3, protection 2/2) Note: Biggs also slips trying to cut and attack the rollout of Smith. (Cover -1, pressure -1)
O44110NickelPassIncPA Bomb
Play action is a speed option fake. Ginn gets open deep on Hall(-1, cover -1) but Smith overthrows him, probably because Woodley(+1, pressure +1) gets loose and plows him as he throws. (IN, 0, protection ½)
O442103-3-5 NickelPass6Hitch
Smith throws underneath the zone to Hartline. Graham(+1) makes a nice tackle. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
50343-3-5 NickelPass5Hitch
OSU goes five wide and motions a guy up into a three WR set at the top of the screen – something we do when we throw our diamond screen. They run patterns out of it against obvious zone coverage, flooding that zone and giving Smith an easy read of one guy. He steps out, Smith throws in. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, cover -1)
OSU rolls away from Woodley and into Biggs(+2), who works through a TE block and even a double team to reach out and hurl Smith to the turf. (pressure +1)
Woodley(+1) goes right around Schafer, nailing Smith as he throws. It's a screen but they were blocking the DEs. Pass still complete, but David Harris(+2) fights through a block and tackles for no gain. (pressure +1) (CA, 3)
Two blitzers, mistimed. A safety is yards from the LOS at the snap, and OSU rolls away from it anyway. Smith finds Hall well past the sticks as Sears(-1) is beaten badly. (cover -1) Where is the deep safety? We double Gonzalez on a shorter post... Smith just finds the open guy. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, pressure -2)
M24110Base 4-3Run5Trap
We run ourselves out of this play. Stunting? Or just fooled? I think the latter, as we overreact to OSU's first step and get trapped. Biggs(-1) gave up the hole.
M1925NickelPassIncSlip screen
Ginn in that “Ginnback” thing. They try the slip screen; Ginn drops it. A little in front of him, but come on. (CA, 3)
Ugly. All Hall does is run like five yards downfield and stop. He's open by yards... we're rushing three! Harrison(-1) misses a tackle to compound his coverage. (Cover -1)
M91GBase 4-3Pass7FB flat
Musberger calls it a “slant.” At least when Jackson started slipping he had his essential Keith-Jackson-ness to fall back on. Anyway. Fake end around. Crable in man coverage against the fullback, can't get out there in time. (Crable -1, cover -1)
M2 2GGoal lineRun1Dive
Excellent job by Woodley(+1) to penetrate and get Pittman's legs in the backfield. Harris pops him to finish the play.
Hall wide open on a pick play. (cover -1, CA, 3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 6 min 1st Q. Herbstreit goes on about the confusion on the touchdown play, but that was a simple pick – a legal pick, since the receiver never impacted the defender – that was rock to our man-coverage scissors. OSU spread us out, putting us in obvious zone coverages, and found the open receiver each time. When we went to man on third and sixteen he found the mismatch against Sears. What can you say?
O20110Base 4-3Run2Zone?
OSU lines up in the I and runs. This is a zone play... weird. Pittman decides to cut it back inside as Crable(+1) cuts off the outside. Burgess is unblocked and makes the tackle.
O22283-3-5 NickelPass8Slant
Woodley slips trying to explode into his pass rush. Trent(-1, cover -1) is also playing way off, certainly too far to bother this slant. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O30110Base 4-3Run4Trap
Pittman manages to plow ahead for a few right up the middle; the pull to the outside doesn't open up any space. Harris fills but has to deal with a guard diving at his feet and so can't move up that quickly.
O3426NickelPass7Slip screen
Harrison is cut and Sears takes a couple steps back at first opening up the screen. (CA, 3)
O41110Base 4-3Run1Trap
Taylor(+1) gets good push; Woodley(+1) is into the backfield too quickly for the pulling guard to block him properly. Pittman up into a mass of unblocked linebackers without a lead blocker.
O42293-3-5 NickelPassIncStop
Smith fires to an open Ginn underneath the zone. It's a bit hard and outside and dropped. A catch was only going to get three, anyway, as we actually had this one reasonably well covered. (CA, 2, protection 1/1) (cover +1)
O42393-2-6 DimePassIncThrowaway
Michigan loads up with six rushers against an empty set. Smith is forced to backpedal and toss it away with an unblocked blitzer coming in. (pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 1 min 1st Q. Michigan goes three and out and gives OSU the ball back right where they punted it.
A designed run for Smith. Fakes the end-around to Ginn then rolls out. No pass option here as his wideouts to that side are blocking. Good contain from Adams(+1); Harris pounds Smith as he cuts back.
O48243-3-5 NickelRun52Zone left
It all starts out so well. Crable(+1) penetrates into the backfield and blows this play up. Wells spins away from Crable's tackle – unfortunate but at the speed Crable's going not shocking – and cuts up into the line, managing to squeak behind Branch(-1) as he gets shoved by his blocker. Harris, reading the blocking, has moved to the frontside of the play and gets blocked out. Burgess is containing the cutback. Once Wells manages to cut through the line the linebackers are toast. Adams(-2) takes a terrible angle and Mundy(-2) reacts way late. A great play from Wells, some luck to find the hole after the spin move, and late reacting safeties.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 12 min 2nd Q.
O9110NickelRun3Zone read
Taylor(+1) pushes into the backfield, forcing Pittman to cutback. He makes an ankle tackle for a small gain.
O1227NickelPass40Scrambly nonsense
Another late blitz. Smith hesitates – we must have covered someone – long enough for the blitzer to get there. Crable(+1) also disengages and is about to sack Smith when he rolls outside of him, steps up, and fires a dart to Robiskie 20 yards downfield. Hall(-1, cover -1) misses the tackle, allowing Robiskie another 20 yards. Trent is the last guy and makes the tackle. Alan Branch slips here trying to get upfield on the Smith rollout. (DO, 3, protection ½) Harrison wiped out trying to cut and tackle Robiskie, too. (pressure +1)
M48110Base 4-3Run10Off guard
Taylor(-1) doubled and blown off the ball. He can't hold his footing or explode out of his stance. There's a big hole and no linebacker around because Burgess(-1) tacks too far inside.
M382InBase 4-3Pass38Bomb
OSU rushes up to the line in a big set and alarm bells go off in my head... it's second down, why pull out this quick snap thing for a second down? They playfake. Hall has let Ginn behind him but that's to be expected. What's not expected is Mundy(-2) having bitten ridiculously hard on a nothing conversion attempt, giving Ginn the center of the field wide open and Smith an easy throw. (DO, 3, protection 2/2) (cover -2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-21, 6 min 2nd Q.
O20110NickelPass11PA Cross
Same zone fake Smith ran off of before the Wells touchdown. He rolls out, finds Gonzalez in a hole in the zone, and hits him, (CA, 3). Both linebackers bit hard on the fake, opening up the hole. (Crable -1, cover -1)
Hall playing way off in man. (-1, cover -1) (CA, 3)
Ugh. Hall(-1) getting killed. Robiskie gets inside of him on the post and Smith fires it in there. We were in some sort of blitz package that came way too late, leaving the secondary manned up. (DO, 3, protection 2/2) (cover -1, pressure -1)
Smith hesitates though it looks like he has Robiskie on a simple hitch. That delay allows Crable(+1) to crush Smith and force an errant throw. (PR, 0, protection 0/2) (pressure +1)
Four receivers to one side in this empty look; we have three defenders out there plus a deep safety. All defenders get run off, giving Smith an incredibly easy read and throw to a wide open Gonzalez. (cover -2, CA, 3, protection 1/1) Sears(-1) misses a tackle.
M31110NickelPass3TE Screen
Graham(+2) does a great job of reading this, beating a block, and tackling. (CA, 3)
M2827NickelPass16Short post
God. We aren't covering anyone. They have Gonzalez lined up against Graham... which needs a word stronger than “mismatch” to describe it. This actually appears to be a zone but there's so much space here. Easy. (Cover -2) (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Combo route against the zone. Corner steps towards Gonzalez, Smith goes short. We tackle this time. (Cover -1, CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Graham(-1) is trying to cover Gonzalez. This works about as well as you would think. (Cover -1, CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-28, EOH.
A deep one at the sticks that's open. (Cover -1) Smith one-hops it. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
Ginn open on the out (cover -1); flat drops it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Branch(+1) comes free on a stunt, forcing Smith to throw fairly quickly. He throws it low to Ginn, who can't pull it in. Trent was in position to tackle short of the sticks anyway. (CA, 2, protection ½) (cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-28, 14 min 3rd Q.
O17110Base 4-3Run2Zone right
Branch(+1) plows into the backfield, forcing Pittman wide. Burgess(+1) comes up around a blocker to make a tackle near the LOS.
O19283-2-6 DimePassIncOut
Well timed blitz from Mundy(+1) gets one guard trying to block him and Harris(+1). Harris comes free, forcing a throw from Smith that's early and only vaguely accurate. (pressure +1) (CA, 1, protection 0/2)
O19383-3-5 NickelPassIntHitch
Smith hesitates – first guy is covered – Biggs(+1) gets free, as does Crable, forcing him to scramble out. Smith fires it to Robiskie, who's doubled by Harris(+1) and Adams(+1). The ball deflects up and is intercepted by Branch(!, +1). Poor decision. And we covered not one but two guys. Killer. (Cover +2, pressure +1, BR, 1, protection ½)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-28, 10 min 3rd Q.
Easy pitch and catch in front of Hall(-1, cover -1). (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O4322Base 4-3Run57Iso
They pull a guard around into the hole. With the FB they have blockers for both Harris and Burgess plus a sizable hole between Biggs and Branch(-1), who gets blocked down out of the hole. Pittman's through the hole fast and with Adams rolled up near the LOS, only Mundy(-2) is between Pittman and the endzone. Yards after Mundy: 45.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-35, 7 min 3rd Q.
O28110Base 4-3Run3Zone read
Same shotgun zone stretch play OSU has run or faked a few times before. There's a hole between Woodley and a doubled and blown off the ball Branch(-1), but the hole closes quickly.
O3127Base 4-3Run-4Iso
Taylor(+2) times the snap, shoots into the backfield, makes a six yard TFL, and picks up a holding call. Outstanding.
Woodley(+1) slips to the ground, manages to get up, and pressures Smith into a throw short of first down yardage to Nichol. Englemon(+1) is in great coverage, forcing an incompletion. (pressure +1, cover +1, CA, 2, protection ½)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-35, 3 min 3rd Q.
O20110Base 4-3Run5Iso
Line creased as Branch(-1) slants inside at the snap right where they run the ball. Harris taken out by the fullback, and I'm about to sarcastically congratulate Ryan Mundy for making a good tackle until Brandent Englemon (31 instead of 21) gets up. Mundy was yanked after the Pittman run.
O25253-3-5 NickelRun-14Speed option
First Smith fumble. Bad time to get a high snap when you're taking off as soon as it's snapped. Branch(+1) hustles for the recovery.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 24-35, 1 min 3rd Q.
In front of Hall. (Cover -1)
O3323Base 4-3Run4Off guard
Same quick pull of the guard they've been using with frequency. Johnson in at DT; Harris walled off by the FB; Englemon comes up and tackles.
O37110Base 4-3Run4Off guard
Mirror image of the last play. Harris and Crable disengage and grab Pittman at the LOS, but their momentum is going laterally as Pittman's goes upfield, so he is able to drag them forward a few steps.
Blitzing six against an empty set. Woodley comes free and nails Smith; Ginn runs a simple hitch that Trent(-1) plays too far off of then misses a tackle(another -1), giving Ginn a bunch of extra yards. (CA, 3) (cover -1)
M38110Base 4-3Pass6TE Out
Graham(-1) late reacting in his zone; Nichol very open as he goes to the sidelines. (Cover -1)
M32243-2-6 DimePass3Slant
Immediate tackle from Harrison(+1) prevents a conversion. (Cover +1, CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M29313-3-5 NickelRun-2Fumble #2
Snap just falls out of his hand and rolls backwards.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 31-35, 12 min 4th Q.
O17110Base 4-3Run2Draw
Taylor(+1) holds up at the line, sees where the play is going, and submarines Pittman as he gets to the LOS.
Think there might be a pass option here but filed as a run anyway. The DE on his side stumbles, opening up a ton of room and he takes off.
O28110Base 4-3Run26Fake WR Screen
They fake that Ginn slip screen then turn around and hand off to Pittman going the other way. Harris(-1) starts flying towards Ginn and is gone. Branch manages to read it but can't get out there. Englemon slips to the turf as Pittman cuts past him. We were going to give up eight or so at least but the turf didn't help here.
M46110Base 4-3Run3Iso
No pull this time. Harris stands up the FB and disengages as Michigan converges – eight in the box here.
M4327Base 4-3Run1Iso
Same play. No room as Branch(+1) and Taylor(+1) hold up.
M42363-2-6 DimePass9Slant
Hartline on a slant in front of Sears. (CA, 3, cover -1)
M33110Base 4-3Run0Off guard
Nothing. Another good job by the DTs. (Taylor +1, Branch +1).
Woodley(+1) crushes Smith as he throws, as he's unblocked. Okay. (Pressure +1)
M38315NickelPassInc + 15Goddammit
Smith has some time to start, until Branch(+1) bowls through a guy. Smith rolls out, avoids Biggs, and runs to the sideline, throwing up a prayer as he reaches the sideline that Robiskie can't get back to. Then, the flag. More later. (IN, 1, protection 1/2, pressure +1, cover +1)
This could not be easier. Trent is hanging back, way out of position, and never breaks on the ball. Terrible. (-2, cover -1)
M1421Base 4-3Run1QB Sneak
Ton of time. Ton. Smith sits back, waits for his receiver to cut, and fires to a wide open Robiskie. Trent, summing everything up, slips helplessly to the ground. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, pressure -1, cover -1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-42, 5 min 4th Q.

What happened?

God, I don't know. I've always believed that there's not that much you can do when an opposing quarterback is on like that. Several times in the second half we managed to get to him and force errant throws, but I think our much-ballyhooed defensive adjustments were overblown. Second-half drives:
  • Smith short-hops an open receiver on first down; Ginn drops a first down out on second; on third we do get a little pressure, forcing a throw that wouldn't get a first down even if completed.
  • Three straight good plays: a run stop, pressure, an then actual coverage.
  • Two-play touchdown drive.
  • Two runs get OSU in 3rd and 11, then Woodley pressure forces a punt.
  • The first fumble; unforced on second and five.
  • OSU drives down to the Michigan 29, then fumbles on third and one.
  • Crable-aided touchdown.
So, yeah, there are a couple good plays interspersed in there but it was usually one of every three snaps. The difference was some OSU errors -- drops, an errant throw, fumbles -- and OSU's decision to go with less consistently effective running plays. There was no adjustment to be made that would suddenly make that four and five wide package anything other than a mismatch.

The really disappointing part was not the pass defense -- that guy's going to win the Heisman and for good reason -- but the two free touchdowns on runs up the middle. The Wells touchdown was dangerous as soon as he slipped through that crack in the line. The backfield spin changed his direction suddenly and oddly, putting linebackers in untenable positions. Branch is a big guy flowing down the line and he couldn't stop his momentum (footing may have been an issue) in time to slow him down. A running back coming straight down the middle of the field with a head of steam and no linebackers is a recipe for disaster, and disaster it was.

Helmet to helmet?

Well, it was helmet-to-helmet. So, yeah, it was a good call as the rule book is constructed.

But it was irritating, right? Not just in the "oh god now we're going to lose" sense, but because it was irrelevant and arbitrary. Shawn Crable's just trying to make a play. He's running full speed, Smith's running full speed, and he's just trying to make a play. If Smith was any other player taking that hit, they don't throw a flag. I can understand the rationale for trying to keep a stationary quarterback protected from headshots, but if he's running willy nilly all over the field a defender's ability to control exactly where and what he's hitting is limited at best.

Is this a nation of men? Should we just outfit quarterbacks with pink jerseys and frilly tutus? The Russkies must be licking their chops.




Never quite got to Smith but forced a number of errant throws with pressure.
Had a sack. Woo.
Lifted a lot. Held up against OSU's late game runs and helped kill a drive with a four-yard TFL.
A lot of good plays; a lot of slanting away from run plays. Hell of an INT, though.


Hardly played.
B. Graham

Don't blame him for the penalty, really.

C. Graham
Not a cornerback.
Tried to go but was eventually lifted.



Why Mundy instead of him?

Aaaand the corner position next year is very much in question.
How did this happen? Well, Smith scrambled out on a few instances of pressure, the coverage was so bad that he threw a ton of short routes, and hardly ever held the ball long enough for pressure to come.


Um. Alan Branch intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, plus did fairly well late in the game when OSU lined up and ran it (as did Taylor). Lamarr Woodley was pressuring Smith all day, albeit often unblocked and never in time for a sack. But when you give up 42 points and over 500 yards of offense there's not a lot of backslapping going on.


I do hate this bit. I wince at the idea that Pat Massey stumbled across this thing and swore a silent vow to choke me to death should he ever run across me (If so, Pat, this is what I look like).

But goddamn, sometimes it just has to be said: Ryan Mundy is a 50 yard touchdown waiting to happen. He was out of position on the Wells touchdown, blazed by Pittman on his long run, and -- most egregiously -- came up hard on what was a second-and-inches fake dive, robbing Leon Hall of safety help he expected and needed. I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of safety play, but I don't think I need to when we give up a million long run in 2004 with Mundy the starting FS, one in the first half of 2005's first game that's obviously his fault, none the rest of the year with Mundy out injured, and none in all of 2006 until Mundy is pressed into heavy duty with Barringer out and Englemon inexplicably benched.

Not that the rest of the secondary was any better. Hall and Trent were both victimized repeatedly on any route you care to name. And while we knew that Trent was kind of dodgy on short throws, Hall's inability to so much as slow down whoever he was covering was a killer. Hall does get bonus points for limiting Anthony Gonzalez -- I believe they were matched up most of the second half and Gonzalez was not effective -- but whenever he was thrown at his man was open.

Chris Graham isn't a cornerback. But you knew that.

What does it mean?

Well, I was wrong about the Ball State game being irrelevant: Johnny Sears was indeed forced onto the field with frequency and that didn't go so well. If we do get LSU we will be facing a highly efficient pass offense, but is it more Notre Dame or Ohio State? I haven't seen enough of them to know, but only three wide receivers have more than six catches this year (though Jacob Hester has only 91 rushing attempts in LSU's running-back-by-demographic-trend and 34 receptions... third down back or RB/WR?), meaning that it's unlikely we see the four and five receiver sets that murdered us versus OSU. At they very least, if they do they'll be shoehorning them in and throwing to guys who haven't seen much of the ball.

But LSU is a statistical nightmare: 6th in pass efficiency, top ten in every defensive category aside from rushing, where they're 15th. Badass up and down.