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Thursday, October 04, 2007

no video; sorry.

O20110Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass64Out
A simple out turns into a huge play because the receiver ends up on top of two defenders and manages to get up and sprint downfield. It's hard to get exercised about this. It's a fluke. (Cover -1)
M16110Shotgun TripsNickelPassIncWheel
Bacher gives a pump fake and two Wildcats leap as if the ball is coming to them on short screen routes; the third receiver to that side runs a wheel that Trent(+1) covers excellently. Ball OOB; probably just a throw away. (Cover +1)
M16210Shotgun TripsNickelRun1Zone read handoff
The center and tackle move out to the second level immediately; Crable is unblocked. Taylor(+1) fills the gap where this play is supposed to go; Conteh is forced to run it into Crable for a minimal gain.
M1539Shotgun TripsNickelPass6Stop
Zone blitz with a DT backing off at the snap, probably BGraham. Bacher takes a short stop route; Adams(+1) closes on it short of the sticks.
Drive Notes: FG (26), 0-3, 13 min 1st Q. It's hard to blame the D for the big play on this drive, since by all appearances the guy was down and to continue hitting him only invites late hit flags. It's a fluke.
O21110Shotgun Trips3-3-5 NickelPassIncStop
Stunting abounds as we line up with one DT and huge, huge splits out the DEs. Seems like an invitation to run; they do not. Terrance Taylor(+1) plows his man directly back into Bacher, who throws inaccurately on an eight-yard stop. (Pressure +1). Stop was open enough.
O21210Shotgun 3-wideNickelPassIncTE Out
BGraham(+1) avoids an attempted cut block and comes in on Bacher, forcing a hasty throw. This is to a TE on a little out; CGraham(+1) is there to put his helmet into the ball and knock it loose. Four yard gain even if caught. (Cover +1)
O21310Shotgun 2-back3-3-5 NickelPassIncOut
Trent(-1) beaten and leaves his man open past the sticks. Bacher finds him but throws it well in front of the guy, he bats it in the air and allows Trent time to close.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 8 min 1st Q. Most of this is on Bacher. He had open guys twice and couldn't hit them.
O16110Shotgun TripsNickelRun-3Zone read handoff
Taylor(+1) pushes into the backfield, impeding the course of Conteh and checks on Bacher; Crable(+2) also drives his guy into the backfield, sheds, and tackles for loss.
O13213Shotgun 4-wide3-3-5 NickelRun12Zone read handoff
Another instance where we have huge splits between our DT and our DEs; Crable lines up outside the DE and Ezeh is the only guy in the middle. Oh, and guess what? Taylor stunts at the snap. End result: gaping hole up the middle, the center moving to the second level without even having to think about blocking Taylor, and one redshirt freshman linebacker in his first start getting blocked. This is a twelve yard gain and no minuses except to the coaching staff, who begged the Wildcats to run it down their throat.
O2531Shotgun 2-TEBase 4-3Pass3RB Flat
BGraham(+1) cuts through some blockers to pressure Bacher; it's too late as Conteh is open on a little flat route. Can't blame CGraham in coverage since this is a tough route to cover in man and there was a pick that impeded his progress. (Cover -1)
O28110Shotgun 4-wideNickelPassIncScreen
This is the second week someone has claimed Morgan Trent is from San Diego. WTF? Bacher misthrows a screen that probably would have worked.
O28210Shotgun 3-wideNickelRun8Zone read handoff
Major push from Taylor and Crable cuts off the outside; Jamison is cut to the ground and makes an ankle-tackle attempt from his knees. BGraham(-1) ridden out of the play; Ezeh(-1) hesitant and there's a gap. Adams fills competently.
O3432Shotgun 3-wideNickelPass2Stop
Lane runs a little stop route right in front of the sticks and Bacher throws it in. CGraham(+1) in tight coverage; this a nice throw. (Cover +1)
O36110AceNickelPass18PA post
Bacher has all day to throw (pressure -2) after a little draw fake that the linebackers bite on; he finds Lane in between Adams and Trent(-1); Adams complains at Trent after the play. (Cover -2)
M46110Shotgun 3-wideNickelRun-3Zone read boot
Bacher keeps this; Crable(+1) is unblocked and nearly overruns this but manages to track him down for a loss.
M49213Shotgun TripsNickelRun49Zone read counter
I don't know what Michigan is doing here. They come out in a four-man line, then move around as if confused, eventually shifting into a three-man line much like the one they got gashed on earlier in the drive. We're stunting again, blitzing Chris Graham around the edge as NW pulls a tackle on a zone read counter. I believe John Ferrara(-1) is in the game getting blown off the ball as the lone NT against two blockers – unsurprising – and the stunting Graham gets picked off by the OT. Crable(-1) has run himself out of the play from his DE spot. Big hole. Brandent Englemon sits on the outside -- probably what Carr means by "maintaining leverage" and waits. When he collapses down he fails to tackle(-1). Jamar Adams(-2) overruns the play. Brandon Harrison(-1) overruns the play. It's a touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 3 min 1st Q. Twice on this drive Michigan finds itself in second and long, lines up in a 3-3-5 with huge gaps between their defenders and personnel ill-suited to defend the run with Obi Ezeh the only linebacker actually playing linebacker, and gets burned. This drive is all on Ron English.
O37110Shotgun TripsNickelRun13 + 15Zone read boot
Sadly, this was going for big yardage either way. Crable(-1) gives up contain on Bacher, though I can't be too hard on him because if he had handed the ball off the only way this doesn't get to the safeties is if he tracks it down from the backside. Bacher, freed, goes zip. Weak, weak late hit on Englemon. Frickin' hate that call.
M36110Shotgun 3-wideNickelPass4Jailbreak screen
This comes paired with a fake RB screen to the other side. Think this is more a screwup by the NU OL than good play from us, but Ezeh(+1) manages to slice through a guy who overran his spot a bit and tackle for a small gain.
M3226Shotgun TripsNickelRun1Zone read handoff
Fuzzy on this because of poor production that misses the start of the play. And as we come back Terrance Taylor is spinning off a guy around the LOS, forcing the RB into CGraham for a minimal gain. This was 3 or 4 if the guy runs N-S.
M3135Shotgun 3-wideNickelPassIncCross
BGraham(+1) works his way to the QB and forces him to throw off his back foot. This allows Adams(+1) to close and get a PBU. (Pressure +1, cover +1)
Drive Notes: FG (48), 7-13, 14 min 2nd Q. Can't really blame the D too much here, since there was one first down and a questionable penalty.
O27110Shotgun TripsNickelPass12Slant
Sigh. This is actually a great read and play by Brandon Harrison(+1) to jump in front of the slant. Unfortunately, he deflects the ball into the air and it's caught for a first down. 80% of the time this is an interception. (Cover +2)
O39110Shotgun 3-wideNickelPass3Option shovel
NW shows a speed option and drags a TE across the formation. Crable forms up on the QB until the Bacher pitches it inside; closing after a moderate gain. (Crable +1)
O4227Shotgun TripsNickelRun5Zone read counter
Same play that went for the TD, this time against a straight nickel. It still finds a huge hole as Ezeh(-1) is late reading it.
O4732Shotgun 3-wideNickelPass10RB Flat
Depressingly wide open; we blitz Harrison from the weakside and leave the short zone opposite him completely open. (Cover -2) Why are we playing so soft on third and two?
M43110Shotgun TripsNickelRun1Zone read handoff
Horrible production focuses on Lloyd Carr instead of the play on the field and we get a blimp view of this play... hard to tell what happens. I think Taylor(+1) stones two guys to submarine it.
M4229Shotgun TripsNickelPassIncTE Out
Crable(+1) avoids a chop, forcing an immediate throw; Adams(+1) reads and attacks this, causing a drop. (Cover +1, pressure +1).
M4239Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass6Cross
Will Johnson comes straight up the middle; Crable also applies pressure. Bacher's forced to chuck an out short of the sticks. Harrison(+1) is there for the immediate tackle. (Cover +1, pressure +1_
Drive Notes: Punt(!), 7-13, 9 min 2nd Q. Fourth and three from the thirty-six and you punt. We're bailed out by Fitzgerald's idiotic call. Finding a guy who will never do this is a top priority when it comes to a new coach. Fourth downs are the one thing Charlie Weis gets absolutely right.
O40110Shotgun TripsNickelPass26Fade
I don't know if this is an intentional underthrow or what, but Trent has this locked down. Unfortunately, he does not adjust to the ball(-1), allows Lane to come back and grab it, and then has serious trouble tackling(-1). Poor play. (Cover -1)
M36110Shotgun 3-wide3-3-5 NickelRun0Zone read handoff
Taylor(+1) discards his guy; Adams has snuck up to the line before the snap and charges into the hole; the two of them converge at the LOS.
M36210Shotgun TripsNickelRun7Zone read keeper
CGraham(-2), unblocked, overruns this and turns it from no gain into a solid play and probably a first down but for Bacher tripping.
M2933Shotgun 2-backNickelPassIntSlant
Adams is an extra guy in the box; we tighten up the coverage. Rush package in. Bacher throws a slant right to Trent, who intercepts (+2, cover +2).
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-13, 6 min 2nd Q. Trent redeems himself.
O20110Ace 4-wideNickelRun-2Draw
Attempted pump-fake draw like we saw from Penn State a lot. I guess the plan is for Taylor(+1) to chase it or something, as the center sort of discards him and the guard to that side pulls around. This leaves him all alone in the hole. He misses the tackle but Crable is free to finish the play.
O18212Shotgun 4-wideNickelPenalty5Offsides
O2327Shotgun TripsNickelPass8Slant
Harrison lets Lane inside of him for the slant. (-1, cover -1)
O31110Shotgun TripsNickelPass27Fade
Blitzing with man behind it; blitz is ill-timed. Warren in good position here but does not get his head around for an available play on the ball, but does force the receiver to stab his foot in while being harrassed and gets a hand on the ball as it comes in... just an excellent play from NW here. (+1, cover +1, pressure -1) Carr challenges this, which I thought was dumb at the time but have come around. More later.
M42110Shotgun 3-wideNickelPassIncScreen
Another one of NW's misdirection screens. Bacher pump fakes to the tailback who flails like the ball is coming, then comes back to their TE/H-back guy for a middle screen. Unfortunately for them, he's run into an OL and is not in position to receive the pass. Would have been a big gainer, probably, otherwise.
M42210Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass11Out
Pretty simple out against man coverage. Harrison beaten (-1, cover -1)
M31110Shotgun TripsNickelPassIncThrowaway
Bacher tosses this away, though I'm not sure why as he's got a couple guys looking open. First read was not, though, and pressure was coming. (Cover +1)
M31210Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass15Screen
Michigan is not blitzing and this is not well executed and should be hit for a minimal gain, but Harrison(-2) overruns this CGraham style.
M16110Shotgun TripsNickelRun-5Zone read screwup
Bacher and Conteh bump into each other and Bacher ends up with the ball. He seems surprised by this. It does not end well for him.
M21215Shotgun 4-wideNickelPassIncThrowaway
NW decides to take a shot at the endzone. Warren(+1) and Adams(+1) are bracketing the WR; Bacher throws it away. (Cover +2)
M21315Shotgun 4-wide3-3-5 NickelRun12QB Draw
This is a give-up-and-kick playcall that's almost disastrous. Englemon manages to make the tackle; NW kicks.
Drive Notes: FG (29), EOH.
O9110Shotgun 3-wide3-3-5 NickelRun11Zone read handoff
Adams comes up to provide an extra man. Not sure who to blame here. Johnson drives his guy into the backfield so easily and so far that I think this might be rope-a-dope to open up a hole. Crable and CGraham close that hole, but Crable(-1) has given up outside contain and Conteh bounces it out for a major gain.
O20110Shotgun Trips3-3-5 NickelRun5Zone read handoff
More stunting as Taylor slides off onto a guard and CGraham blitzes into the other guard, who picks him up. Crease between Johnson and CGraham with no one behind it. Englemon(+1) makes an open field tackle... barely.
O2525Shotgun Trips3-3-5 NickelRun9Speed option
BGraham(-1) gives up outside contain, and there's no way CGraham can get off the block of a tackle who didn't even need to look at the DE. We had shifted our linebackers away from the playside here; our rock, their paper.
O34110Shotgun TripsNickelRun-2Speed option
NW doesn't hurry to the line; Michigan takes the opportunity to get something on not guaranteed to bleed rushing yardage. This time CGraham(+1) is moving outside at the snap and the tackle can get out on him. Crable(+1) is less reckless, forcing the pitch but not taking himself out of the play. The two of them converge to tackle.
O32212Shotgun 2-back3-3-5 NickelRun13Off tackle
Zone blitz! Stunting! Whee! Crable hops inside DE BGraham and gets clocked by the lead blocker. CGraham(-1) caught way too far inside and there's no linebacker support. This is like Appalachian State redux.
O45110Shotgun Trips3-3-5 NickelPassIncOut
Warren(+1) in excellent coverage(+1); Bacher doesn't find a second receiver and throws it away.
O45210Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass-2Sack
More stunting; this time miscommunication on the OL sends Renaldo Sagesse in unblocked. Bacher flushes from the pocket and just runs OOB for an unncessary loss. (Pressure +2, cover +1)
O43312Shotgun 2-back3-3-5 NickelPassIncCross
Both RBs run upfield and cross. This completely confuses CGraham(-2), who lets the guy in his zone run completely wide open for a sure first down and possibly a very big gain. Bacher throws it behind him. (Cover -3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-16, 9 min 3rd Q. We luck out like whoah. Chris Graham... arrrrgh.
O27110Shotgun 3-wideNickelPass-2Swing
Our splits are really improbably wide here. NW flings a little swing pass. Harrison(+1) does a good job tracking it down and tackling. (Cover +1)
O25212Shotgun 4-wideNickelRun4QB Draw
Again with the wide splits. Ezeh blitzes into this and gets cut but does fill the hole; Bacher bounces it through the other side. Jamison's hugely wide split has led to a rush upfield and there's a gap you could see coming before the snap. Johnson and Adams close him down after a moderate gain.
O2938Shotgun TripsNickelPass19Post
Warren(-2) lets this inside of him too easily. (Cover -2). We were blitzing late with Adams... what's the point? (Pressure -1)
No idea what happens on this play due to crappy production.
M4422Shotgun TripsNickelPass-7Sack
Bacher pumps and hesitates, apparently staring down Warren's(+1) guy. (Cover +1) Jamison(+2) comes around the end, harrassing Bacher but missing him; his own OL sacks him by running into him. (Pressure +1)
O4939Shotgun 3-wideNickelPass12In
We send five as NW max-protects and picks it up. Bacher has time (pressure -2), finding Lane in front of Trent. Pretty good coverage by Trent.
M39110Shotgun TripsNickelPass5Screen
Another misdirection screen that goes to their H-back TE guy. CGraham(+1) reads it and closes. It helps that the other RB fell down and could not block him.
M3425Shotgun Trips3-3-5 NickelRun-1Zone read keeper
More stunting; Crable(+1) loops in from the outside, coming past the pulling tackle and hitting Bacher for a loss. Dangerous; if Crable doesn't make a good play here this is wide open.
M3536Shotgun EmptyNickelPassIncSlant
Corner blitz causes Bacher to hurry a bit; he throws it behind a guy open for the first. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-16, 1 min 3rd Q. Fitzgerald bails us out with a terrible decision to punt yet again.
O1 110I-Form BigBase 4-3Run0FB Dive
Taylor(+1) holds up against a double team.
O1 210Shotgun 3-wideNickelPassIncTE Seam
Play action fake results in CGraham(-1) bite; Englemon(+2) comes up to dislodge the ball with a nice hit. (Cover +1) Graham injured.
O1 310AceBase 4-3Pass20Out and up
So stupid. It's third and ten, but it's from their one-yard-line so we load the box with eight guys and have a base set on third and long. Does it really matter if they run it out to the five? No. Anyway, they playfake it, we have eight guys within two yards of the LOS three seconds after the snap, and Lane is wide open for the conversion. Awful coaching. (Cover -2.) Just because we would always run it and punt doesn't mean everyone else does.
We miss this entire play. Whee big ten!
O2328Shotgun 4-wide3-3-5 NickelPass0Scramble
Bacher delays, first guy covered. (Cover +1) He sees a seam in the line and decides he'll run; Taylor(+1) grabs him as he passes and slows him up. Help comes.
O2338Shotgun 3-wide3-3-5 NickelPass-7Sack
BGraham(+3) beats his man plus a potential chip from the RB and swats the ball free from Bacher. Crable(+1) recovers. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-16, 10 min 4th Q.
O34110Shotgun 2-backNickelPassIncStop
Obviously some sort of three-step drop as two guys go for cut blocks. Crable(+1) avoids his and starts baring down. Bacher throws it to a covered guy on a stop route. Harrison(+1, cover +1) there.
O34210Shotgun 2-backNickelRun5Zone read counter
Michigan fortuanate this doesn't go for more. Logan(-1) fails to read this and is in no position to stop the ball; Taylor(+1) reaches out and gets a hand on the RB's leg to tackle.
O3935Shotgun 2-backNickelPass10Out
Adams a seventh man in the box. We play soft on the corners and they take the easy out. (Cover -2)
O49110Shotgun 2-back3-3-5 NickelRun3Zone read handoff
Tim Jamison(+1) beats his blocker and grabs the RB's leg in the backfield.
M4827Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass11Out
Despite the completion, tough to blame Harrison, who was in tight coverage and made this a difficult throw and catch. (Cover +1) No plus because he failed to tackle. Ah, no, on replay he gets a +1 anyway.
M37110Shotgun 3-wideNickelPassIntExplosivo
Harrison threatens blitz, backs off, and then comes at the snap. The OT does not get out on him and, because this is on the blindside, Bacher does not sidestep him. The ball is ejected as Harrison impacts him; Jamison comes down with it and starts running. (+1 Harrison, +1 Jamison, +3 pressure)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-16, 7 min 4th Q. This is probably Harrison's best game of his career.
O22110Shotgun TripsNickelPassIncOut
Bacher wings it wide. Warren(+1, cover +1) all over it.
O22210Shotgun 3-wideNickelPass3Scramble
Bacher pumps but decides his guy is covered(+1); Crable(+1) charges through at the same time, disrupting his timing and perhaps contributing to that decision. Bacher rolls out and is collapsed on after a short gain. (Pressure +1)
O25310Shotgun TripsNickelPassIntCross
Behind his guy on a crossing route that Logan was going to shut down before the sticks(+1 cover); tipped to Ezeh; interception.
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-16, 5 min 4th Q.
M45110Shotgun TripsNickelPass-5Sack
Patterson(+1) and BGraham(+2) both shred their blockers and come up on Bacher before these deep-ish routes can come to fruition. No chance. (Pressure +2)
Miss the entire play.
50315Shotgun TripsNickelPass-7Sack
Jamison(+1) discards his guy, as does Crable(+2); Crable gets to Bacher first and does a sack/strip. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 28-16, 4 min 4th Q.

Aiigh 300 yard first half burn!

We should really look at the chart.

B... burn?


Ch... chart?

Chchart it is.


Really effective when permitted to drive NW blockers directly backward, but asked to stunt often.

Not really his fault, but he was a major issue on the long touchdown run.
Yeah, five TFLs and a FF and a FR and all that gets you a nice score.
B. Graham
Another strong game.

Seemed like a major dropoff to some, but I don't think he's that responsible for any of NW's gashing runs. Sold out by the scheme, he was.
C. Graham
Bailed out by Bacher a couple times.
Quietly pretty solid this year.
Ok, so it grades out as a zero. But -3 went to him for screwing up running plays. (+1 was for the blindside sack.) His coverage was 4-2-+2, and he jumped a lot of little slant routes. Usually when someone gets targeted a lot he's
Big bounce-back day.
Major culprit on the long run.

Again, a large portion of the positive here came towards the end of the game when Northwestern had to pass.
Any positive coverage number is a very good job; this was a fine performance from the secondary.

Are you high? We gave up 300 first half yards to a team that lost to Duke and ran for six inches against Ohio State and you hand out pluses like it's ecstasy at a rave?

Uh. Right, this was my impression as things progressed: "why are all these numbers so high?" It's like I'm suddenly dependent on assistant coaches for the information I receive. Some possible explanations:
  • 64 of Northwestern's yards (ok, 56, we can give them an eight-yard out there) came on that fluky he's-down-no-he-isn't opening play. I didn't assign blame here.
  • Michigan came out in this funky 3-3-5 that was not what reader DanK suggested in that guest post about slowing down the spread running attack. (More on this later.) Then they stunted out of this thing; several times when they did this Northwestern played paper (hey, no fair!) and Michigan was screwed from the snap. Several gashing runs have no minuses, the occasional five-yarder has a plus, etc. This is a sign you got outcoached. Maybe I should start tracking some RPS stats. I should.
  • The D forced five turnovers. This tends to inflate numbers.
  • Bacher had a weird day where he was either throwing something horribly behind his intended receiver or feathering a beauty sideline pass. A couple completions actually came coupled with pluses: the slant Harrison jumped that he deflected to a Wildcat, the sideline completion against Warren that was hugely difficult for both WR and QB, a few short throws that were snuffed out immediately upon the catch.
So... yeah. I think the defensive line and secondary both had excellent days. The linebackers, no so much, but whatever.

Speaking of that sideline completion late in the first half...

Right, we challenged it, and I'm totally on board with that.

The addition of the challenge has been mostly superfluous in college. Since every play is reviewed (and referees have apparently taken to standing over the ball waiting for the booth to get a look after potentially controversial game-changing plays, a change I am totally in favor of) anyway, the coaches' challenge usually sits unloved on the sideline, deployed as often as Notre Dame scores a touchdown. I believe this is the first time that Michigan has ever deployed a challenge, and it was a good use of the resource. 1) We were highly unlikely to use it in the second half. See the previous couple sentences. 2) We didn't need the timeout for anything else. 3) It was a close play.

So what about this 3-3-5 thing?

That was ugly, especially since this space ran (and endorsed) a guest post claiming that a 3-3-5 would be a more effective run defense against the spread option that shredded us so in the first couple games. A recap: since defensive ends usually run themselves upfield in a 4-2, you're asking both DTs to have two-gap responsibility. This is kind of tough. A formation like this:

Gives you a better shot at stopping a spread run game, or at least that's how the theory goes. An embarrassing instance of being wrong, wrong, wrong? Maybe. But...

...this is a snapshot from the 49-yard touchdown run. Note the splits between the DT and the DEs. In our diagram above, the DEs are lined up between the guard and tackle. This is 3-technique (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong). Here the DEs are lined up outside of the tackles, which is 5-technique. This is basically a 4-2 with one DT lined up over the center. Also one of the DEs is Shawn Crable and the DT is John Ferrara (I think). This is not what is suggested above. We stunt off this, slanting Crable inside and looping Graham around...

...Crable gets ridden out of the play and Graham gets picked off by the pulling tackle; Conteh into the second level...

...and from there Jamar Adams misses a tackle and he's off. This was the most disastrous instance, but several other times we lined up in this on second and long and got burned by it. You can't have one guy between the tackles and expect to defend anyone's run game.

Yeah, what is the deal with all the stunting and looping and stuff?

I don't know. It seems too cute, especially on downs the offense can run against. We did this frequently against Appalachian State and paid for it. (Oregon, I believe, was more conventional but against a really fantastic trio of runners.) Meanwhile, whenever Taylor is in the game he's playing Gabe Watson and driving someone's ass into Bacher. Like... line up and out-execute them.

You did not just say that.

I did.


Well... I was being sort of ironic. What I don't like from the defense is its slight case of Weis-itis. The 3-3-5 with canyon splits on second and long. The third and ten from NW's one on which we assumed they would run and gave up a long conversion. The stunting around an Appalachian State line that should have spent the day eating Taylor's facemask five yards in the backfield.

There is one aspect of this I do like: when Michigan has gotten its opponents in situations that have no threat of a run, they have been deadly. See either NW drive where they trailed late, the final PSU drive, and the entire Notre Dame game. When permitted to tee off on an opponent that can't threaten a run, Crable and Jamison and BGraham have been dominant, often because of the stunting.

My problem with the defensive playcalling is game theory based. Several times in this game Michigan put Northwestern in a second and long. In this situation you want to lower variance, since most second and longs result in a punt. Michigan frequently deployed that 3-3-5 with huge splits and stunted; this is a high variance strategy that either results in an unblocked guy or two or a gaping hole. Similarly, on third and ten from the one you want a low-variance play call that results in fourth down from the one or the five or the nine... just fourth down. Instead, Michigan puts eight in the box and bites on play action, leaving Ross Lane open for a twenty-yard conversion.

(Note that you want to avoid predictability here, too, so the occasional unexpected/"wrong" sort of call is okay. No one call can be wrong, like no one raise can be wrong in poker, but over time exploitable patterns emerge.)


Adams was the big culprit on the long touchdown run. As per usual, Michigan got little production from the linebackers. Chris Graham is an opponent big play waiting to happen.


Crable, obviously, but also Taylor -- finally as dominant as we expected -- and Harrison. I thought the coverage in the secondary was very good all around; hopefully that signals improvement and not merely "we played Northwestern."

What does it mean for Eastern or, more likely, Purdue?

We will get an immediate check to see whether or not the secondary is actually getting better with the Boilers rolling into town. They're like an upgraded version of Northwestern: scatter-shot QB in a spread offense that's more pass than run. Except Purdue has a better RB with Sutton out, way better receivers, and probably a better offensive line. We'll know lots more after this weekend versus Ohio State.