Friday, September 7, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: App. State

Will be referred to as "GBU" in future posts.

So I risked sanity and watched The Debacle from start to finish in an attempt to see what horrifying flaws can be corrected before the Varsity version of Appalachian State comes to the Big House this Saturday. These won't be very technical...if you want technical, I encourage you to read Brian's (the other one...the better one) thoughts about it over at MGoBlog:

Upon Further Review: Offense vs. Appalachian State
Upon Further Review: Defense vs. Appalachian State

Plus Brian has access to fanciful (word?) equipment that lets him post video clips from the game. I am but a mere mortal in that regard. And I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I can't possibly compete.


Offense vs. App. State

The Good:

Mike Hart.
Goes without saying. Hart came to play on Saturday, even fending off injury (*snicker*) to rush for 188 and 3 touchdowns, including "OMG WE ESCAPE YESSS" 54-yarder that should've been the winning score. Mike did everything he could to win the game - and then the coaches took the ball out of his hands, the defense played matador, I cried for a little bit, etc etc.

Greg Mathews. He had one (two?) drop(s?), but overall Mathews was impressive. On a day where Chad Henne was either over or underthrowing Super Mario, and Arrington was sort of...ignored, Mathews was a solid option out of the slot, catching 7 passes for 68 yards and a TD.

Stephen Schilling. I would say it was ONLY Appalachian State, Anyway, Schilling, one of my favorite recruits from Michigan's 2006 class, looked solid overall in his debut at right tackle. There were a couple instances where he missed a block, got beaten or looked a bit lost, but most of the time I saw him he was solidly driving his man off the line. Granted it was only App. State (...), but it was a splendid debut nonetheless.

The Bad:

Mike DeBord.
Jesus Christ, you idiot. You run when you should pass (no Mike, 1st and 10 at the opponents' 11 with under a minute left in the first half down 2 touchdowns is NOT a good time to call a draw, especially with the other team blitzing), you pass when you should run (gee, lets go away from Hart after back to back 7 yard runs...granted DeBord did not tell Henne to throw the worst INT ever, but he called the passing play), and your offense is more predictable then my old high school's; and they suck. I can't believe I drank the "Michigan's best offense ever" koolaid all throughout the summer; I forgot who was calling the plays! If there is any good to come from this, it's that DeBord has coached his name out of consideration for the head spot once LC calls it a career.

First half blocking. I understand App. State playing over their heads early on, riding the adrenaline high, but in the second half Michigan's offensive line routinely bulldozed the Mountaineers in the trenches, opening holes I could run through. It is not unreasonable to assume Michigan is more conditioned than App. State, but the overall strength and talent level should've been evident for the entire game. Instead, after a dominant first drive, the offensive line was continually beaten until late in the 3rd quarter.

First drive rushing - 1st half
1st and 10: Mike Hart, 4 yards
3rd and 2, Mike Hart, 4 yards
1st and 10, Mike Hart, 34 yards
1st and goal, Mike Hart, 4 yards, TD
Total: 4 carries, 46 yards, 11.5 YPC

Second drive rushing - 1st half
1st and 10: Mike Hart, 1 yard
Total: 1 carry, 1 yard, 1.0 YPC
Overall: 5 carries, 47 yards, 9.4 YPC

Third drive rushing - 1st half
1st and 10: Mike Hart, 0 yards
2nd and 10, Brandon Minor, 10 yards
1st and 10, Mike Hart, -2 yards
2nd and 12, Mike Hart, 8 yards, TD
1st and goal, Mike Hart, 0 yards
Total: 5 carries, 16 yards, 3.2 YPC
Overall: 10 carries, 63 yards, 6.3 YPC

Fourth drive rushing - 1st half
1st and 10: Mike Hart, 4 yards
Total: 1 carries, 4 yards, 4.0 YPC
Overall: 11 carries, 67 yards, 6.1 YPC

Fifth drive rushing - 1st half
1st and 10: Brandon Minor, 7 yards
2nd and 3, Brandon Minor, 4 yards
1st and 10, Brandon Minor, 5 yards
2nd and 5, Brandon Minor, 0 yards
Total: 4 carries, 16 yards, 4.0 YPC
Overall: 15 carries, 82 yards, 5.5 YPC

Sixth drive rushing - 1st half
3rd and 1, Brandon Minor, 5 yards
1st and 10, Brandon Minor, -4 yards
Total: 2 carries, 1 yard, 0.5 YPC
First half Overall: 17 carries, 83 yards, 4.9 YPC

So...with each drive in the first half, the running game got worse for Michigan, going from 11.5 yards a carry (unrealistic to maintain) to 9.4, 6.3, 6.1, 5.5, and bottoming out at 4.9 (keep in mind this is not factoring in the 10 yards Henne lost on the sack on the 2nd drive, this is RBs only). 4.9 yards a pop is certainly not bad, but considering that it was the end of a downward spiral, it's not really good either, especially compared to the 2nd half:
First drive rushing - 2nd half
1st and 10: Brandon Minor, 11 yards
1st and 10, Brandon Minor, 2 yards
Total: 2 carries, 13 yards, 6.5 YPC

Second drive rushing - 2nd half
1st and 10, Brandon Minor, 6 yards
2nd and 4, Brandon Minor, 0 yards, fumble
Total: 2 carries, 6 yards, 3.0 YPC
Overall: 4 carries, 19 yards, 4.8 YPC

Third drive rushing - 2nd half
No rushing

Fourth drive rushing - 2nd half
3rd and 2, Brandon Minor, 8 yards
1st and 10, Mike Hart, 5 yards
2nd and 5, Mike Hart, 6 yards
1st and goal, Mike Hart, 4 yards, TD
Total: 4 carries, 23 yards, 5.8 YPC
Overall: 8 carries, 42 yards, 5.3 YPC

Fifth drive rushing - 2nd half
1st and 10: Mike Hart, 7 yards
2nd and 3, Mike Hart, 7 yards
Total: 2 carries, 14 yards, 7.0 YPC
10 carries, 56 yards, 5.6 YPC

Sixth drive rushing - 2nd half
1st and 10: Mike Hart, 5 yards
2nd and 5, Mike Hart, 21 yards
1st and 10, Brandon Minor, 2 yards
2nd and 8, Mike Hart, 4 yards
1st and 15, Mike Hart, 6 yards
Total: 5 carries, 38 yards, 7.6 YPC
Overall: 15 carries, 94 yards, 6.3 YPC

Seventh drive rushing - 2nd half
1st and 10: Mike Hart, 54 yards, TD
Total: 1 carry, 54 yards, 54.0 YPC
Overall: 16 carries, 148 yards, 9.3 YPC

Eighth drive rushing - 2nd half
1st and 10: Brandon Minor, 6 yards
2nd and 4, Mike Hart, 6 yards
1st and 10, Mike Hart, 0 yards
2nd and 10, Mike Hart, 5 yards
Total: 4 carries, 17 yards, 4.3 YPC
Second half Overall: 20 carries, 165 yards, 8.3 YPC

Now, granted, Brandon Minor is not Mike Hart. Much of the yardage obtained in the second half was "Hart yardage" in which he finds the hole no one else can and drags some sorry sunuvabitch for 5 yards. But in this case, most of the credit in the 2nd half goes to the offensive line, just like most of the blame goes to them in the first half. Hell, if you take away Mike's 54 yard TD, you still get 111 yards on 19 carries, for a average of 5.8, still almost a yard better than the first half. I'm not sure if the offensive line was just vanilla in the first half or what, but they weren't doing their jobs. Which brings me to...

The Ugly:

The Coaches.
Unacceptable. One of, if not THE, worst jobs Lloyd Carr has ever done in preparing a team. The execution by the offensive line tells it all. They weren't prepared and motivated to come out and play, and only after falling into a deep hole by halftime did the coaches get at them to get to work. And even then, the coaches sabotaged them with dismal playcalling that was so predictable even the talent gap couldn't cover it up. The fact that Appalachian State is saying the same things about Michigan's offense that USC was saying 8 months ago in the Rose Bowl says it all; DeBord and Carr are going the way of the dinosaur.

Chad Henne. All the flack Lloyd Carr has gotten over the past week is deserved, but Chad Henne deserves a huge chunk of it too. What's the deal with him turning in his worst performances at home? He plays well on the road at Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State...but delivers an abomination on his home field? I thought the 2005 Notre Dame game was the worst it could get, but I was wrong. It's like he expected to have 10 seconds to throw everytime, and when he didn't, he freaked out and was either running for his life only to throw it away, or firing the lasers from his freshman year that nobody not named Braylon can possibly catch. And speaking of freshman year...that interception...oh my god. Worst INT this side of Stanley Jackson lobbing a pick six to Andre Weathers in 1997. I only hope Carr, DeBord and Loeffler chewed him out on that, because if THAT'S the play I'm going to get from my senior leader at quarterback...can we play Mallett now?

Defense vs. App. State

The Good:

Second half adjustments.
I suppose. It's pretty pathetic that Ron English needed an entire half of embarrassment to see that App. State was running a ridiculously simply offense: Zone read, QB draw, quick slant, with a speed option here or there. How many times in the first half did the defensive line stunt without a spy at linebacker, leaving Armanti Edwards to do what all mobile QBs do when they play Michigan? I guess it's good that they realized that and got all our hopes up.

Donovan Warren. Eh, we'll see. I didn't get a bead on when exactly he came into the game or how many snaps he got, but considering Johnny Sears wasn't flailing helplessly at a WR speeding past him in the second half, I assume Warren was in there for a considerable amount of time, and Thom Brennaman and Charles Davis didn't say his name once. Whether that's a sign of Warren playing well or the Big Ten Network's sucking at life, I dunno. Thoughts?

The Bad:

No discipline.
It seemed like every play, a Michigan defender was overrunning the play somehow. Crable overrunning the reverse in the 2nd quarter (did he plan on chasing Edwards down through the ASU offensive line?), Graham constantly over-pursuing, Johnson selling out on the option, giving Edwards and easy pitch, Harrison doing what he does best, simply sprinting toward the QB on a blitz instead of waiting to see what happens. I could go on and on.

The Ugly:

Jamar Adams, Stevie Brown, Johnny Sears.
Yeahhh...that's three-fourths of the secondary Michigan started on Saturday. Brown and Adams did their thing, constantly over-pursuing and taking the worst angles imaginable - what's the deal here? When will some coach get into the heads of Michigan safeties and tell them to stop being idiots? Regardless, Brown was benched for Englemon in the second half, and Englemon will start next week; I guess it's back to lighting people up on special teams for Stevie. And Sears...Jesus Christ. The propaganda Ron English spread about this guy during the offseason would make Goebbels proud. What a waste of a football player. Got totally warped into a pretzel on ASU's first touchdown (with a little help from Stevie Brown being lights years away from where he should've been), and got all confused with Jamar Adams on who to cover near the goal line early in the 2nd half (luckily, the ASU WR dropped the ball). And Adams is the worst of them all, and EA should be ashamed they gave him a 95 rating in NCAA 08. It's either a missed tackle (of which there were many), a wrong angle (I'm starting to think Chris Wells would've just run him over if he had taken the RIGHT one last year anyway), or general stupidity - his only career interception was last year against Michigan State on 4th down, costing UM 20 yards of field position. This guy is a senior, and he's still a mental midget when it comes to playing football. All-Big Ten safety? Not a chance. Oh, but on the bright side...Brown and Adams are certainly good at knocking the lights out of wideouts 20 yards downfield, ala Roy Williams of the Cowboys.

No containment. This was a problem mostly contained to the 1st half, but what a problem it was. Did Chris Smeland take over or something? English calling these ridiculous stunts and blitzes, leaving the middle of the field wide open, and because the blitzers are so undisciplined and they never got to Edwards, he had wiiide open spaces to sprint to. And considering ASU ran the same two running plays all damn day makes these mistakes all the more inexcusable.

The linebackers. I should be gentle on them...Obi Ezeh is a freshman, and Chris Graham is being asked to cover wide receivers. But no pass will be given when you lose to App. State. Ezeh...please stop wearing the #45. You are not David Harris, and you never will be. God, I miss that guy. Most underappreciated UM linebacker ever? I think so. Ezeh was constantly out of place and getting blown back all day. Graham....just isn't good at all. He was a backup last year, and now has resumed his sucking from 2005. If he starts the whole year, we're in a big, big, big pile of hurt. Oh, and Shawn Crable...the one star left over from the defense last year, the senior good. His colossal game-losing season-spoiling special teams blunder aside, Crable had a very poor game. His stat sheet looks good - 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, forced fumble - but he was so hungry to get at the ball carrier all day, he overran many plays.

Ron English (Jim Herrmann?). English also coached his way out of any consideration for the head coaching gig, and with each passing moment, the first 11 games of 2006 become more and more "flukey". Getting picked apart by Ohio State and USC is one thing, and losing your 5 best defensive players is another, but getting housed by App. State and their 4-play offense is pathetic. Like I said, it took one half, 28 points, 244 yards and NO incomplete passes to realize that the "donut hole defense" doesn't work? Leaving the middle of the field open to a team that relies on QB draws, zone read handoffs and slant plays...gee, I wonder what will happen if I go out to my backyard and poke the bee's nest with a stick?

And then there's the fiasco of the final drive, where the soft coverage suddenly returned randomly, after shutting them down with the attacking defense for over 20 minutes. It wasn't a total shock to see Appalachian State drive down the field for the winning points, since we've seen it before with Jim Herrmann's defense...except Herrmann's not the defensive coordinator, and it was APPALACHIAN STATE. Who the hell called the play where 300-pound defensive tackle Terrance Taylor would play the role of QB spy, essentially begging Armanti Edwards to run 20 yards to spark the game winning drive? The honeymoon for Ron English as defensive coordinator is over. Lose to Ohio State, shame on Tressel. Lose to USC, shame on the secondary. Lose to App. State? Shame on you, Ron.

Special Teams vs. App. State

The Good:

Punt and kick coverage. Not much to say, except the Wolverines did a decent job on coverage. App. State was close to breaking a couple kickoff returns, but with the new rules I guess that's to be expected, and Panter's penalty on the one punt return was a total crock, so I won't blame him for that.

The Bad:

Johnny Sears.
I miss Steve Breaston...seriously. Sears nearly fumbled away a kickoff return, muffed a punt before falling on it, and bobbled another kick return which resulted in him getting tackled at the 10 yard line. Surely there's got to be somebody else? And the only reason this isn't under The Ugly category is because that is reserved for...

The Ugly:

Shawn Crable.
And to think some UM fans would remember Crable for either a) his crushing hit on Brady Quinn, or b) his controversial helmet-to-helmet hit on Troy Smith. Nope, both of those are on the back burner now after Crable decided to give Corey Lynch free passage to block the last second field goal. Carr said specifically afterwards that Crable had been told to block the inside man. So much for senior leadership from the captain, huh?

What it means for Oregon:

Hard to say, really. It is plainly obvious that every member of the Michigan football team except Michael Hart was overlooking Appalachian State and looking ahead to Oregon. This suggests that the team will be much more prepared and should play much better. This is good. However, Oregon runs basically the same offense as App. State, only with bigger, faster, better athletes. This is very, very bad. The one thing that cannot be accounted for is Michigan's mental state, the variable that may decide the game: Will they be crying and feeling sorry for themselves and in a sense let Appalachian State beat them again? Or will they lash out like the wounded Wolverines they are, and have some roasted duck on Saturday?

Time will tell.


alan said...

Can't agree on the offensive line part. Hard to find yardage when you keep running into stacked fronts.

Henne or DeBord need to get us into the correct play.

alan said...

Not sure I agree that the offensive line was the culprit. Hard to find yardage against stacked fronts.

Henne/DeBord should be getting us into the correct play more often.